VOL. 35 NO. 258 | PAGES 20 | BAISAS 200
FRIDAY | JULY 29, 2016 | SHAWWAL 24, 1437 AH
[email protected]
Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising
PO Box 974, Postal Code 100, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Merkel stands by refugee
policy despite attacks
HM receives cable
from Qatari Emir
MUSCAT: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos
has received a cable of thanks from
Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani,
Emir of Qatar, in reply to His Majesty’s
congratulatory cable on the anniversary
of him taking reins of power in the State
of Qatar.
In his cable, Shaikh Tamim expressed
his utmost thanks for His Majesty’s
feelings and best wishes. He prayed to
Allah the Almighty to grant His Majesty
good health and well-being and the
Omani people further progress and
prosperity under the wise leadership of
His Majesty, and the fraternal relations
between the two countries further
progress and growth. — ONA
Houthis form body
to run Yemen
ADEN: The Houthis and their allies
on Thursday formed a 10-member
“supreme council” to run Yemen, in the
latest sign of the failure of UN-brokered
peace talks with the government.
The Houthis and the General People’s
Congress of former president Ali
Abdullah Saleh have agreed to “form
a supreme political council of 10
members”, according to a statement
carried by a rebel-run news agency.
Syria’s Assad offers
amnesty to rebels
DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar al
Assad on Thursday offered an amnesty
to armed rebels battling his forces
if they surrender, the official SANA
news agency reported. “Everyone
carrying arms... and sought by justice...
is excluded from full punishment if
they hand themselves in and lay down
their weapons,” SANA said, quoting a
presidential decree on the three-month
amnesty offer. The reprieve also includes
any rebel who frees a hostage, according
to the decree text.
MAX: 330C
MIN: 260C
MAX: 260C
MIN: 230C
FAJR: 04:12
DHUHR: 12:18
ASR: 15:41
MAGHRIB: 18:56
ISHA: 20:14
MAX: 360C
MIN: 240C
BITE BY BITE: The pioneering Mango Tree Encyclopedia will serve as a guide
for growers, marketers and researchers in Oman and world over
Boost to mango production
July 28: Assigned by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos,
Nasr bin Hamoud al Kindi, Secretary General
of the Royal Court Affairs, officially launched
the Mango Tree Encyclopedia (Al Anba) at Al
Wahat Club in Muscat on Thursday.
The pioneering encyclopedia will be an
important addition to the libraries of the world,
providing both a scientific reference for mango
researchers and producers. It is presented as a
guide to implement agricultural practices in
mango cultivation and as an aid in identifying
the pests and diseases that affect mango trees,
as well as a scientific reference for students.
It is also hoped that the encyclopedia will
play a role in advancing the economy through
the development of mango cultivation and
the discovery of solutions to the obstacles that
threaten and limit its expansion, both in Oman
and elsewhere, which will have a direct impact
on national income and state revenues.
The Mango Tree Encyclopedia began in
2006 by executive committee and a technical
‘While we have about half a
million mango trees in the
Sultanate, we hope to
plant and produce
other types of mango’
team being formed to manage and execute
the project. A consultative committee for the
project was established in 2008 and included
8 specialists from different countries to take
advantage of their expertise. In addition, the
technical team visited the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and the International
Organization of Biodiversity (Biodiversity
International) to benifit from their experience,
thereby facilitating the planning of the
The work on the encyclopedia began in a
major way in 2008 as per the instructions of
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos to revive farming
of the crop that has economic importance and
to address current concerns about this fruit as
well as to study all of its worldwide climatic and
agricultural requirements, in order to conserve
and improve this fruit, according to Dr Yahya al
Hinai, Head of the technical Committee.
In his presentation he highlighted the
established mango varieties of Oman and
threw light on the new varieties that have been
defined and have been now named by His
Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
Observer spoke to Dr Fuad al Sajwani,
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, at the
launch as mango is considered as the second
most important crop next to dates. TO PAGE 2
Critics want US regulator to
rethink weight-loss device
NEW YORK: Critics of a newly approved weight-loss
device that uses a tube inserted into the stomach to
drain food after a meal say it could lead to dangerous
eating disorders.
Advocates argue it’s a less invasive option to bariatric
surgery and a powerful new weapon in the global fight
against obesity.
The device, made by Pennsylvania-based biomedical
company AspireBariatrics, was approved for use in
the United States in June. But critics are appealing to
the FDA to reverse its approval arguing the device is
dangerous because it mimics, promotes and could lead
to eating disorders.
The device comprises a tube that is inserted into
the stomach during a 15-minute minimally invasive
That tube connects to a small opening in the belly
where a device that includes a water bag and draining
tube is attached.
The user squeezes water into the stomach and then
drains it along with 1/3 of a recently eaten meal into a
toilet bowl.
In the United States alone, 35 per cent of the
population is obese. It’s a condition connected to heart
disease, strokes, certain cancers and type-2 diabetes.
But critics led by the Academy of Eating Disorders
say the device is a barbaric way to deal with obesity.
The academy plans on submitting a formal letter to
the FDA urging to reverse its approval next week.
— Reuters
The AspireAssist
System, a weight-loss
device. — Reuters
BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on
Thursday “firmly” rejected calls to reverse her
welcoming stance towards refugees following a series
of brutal attacks in the country.
Merkel told reporters that the assailants “wanted
to undermine our sense of community, our openness
and our willingness to help people in need”.
“We firmly reject this,” she said.
Merkel, who interrupted a summer holiday at her
cottage north of Berlin to face the media in the capital,
told reporters that four brutal assaults within a week
were “shocking, oppressive and depressing” but not a
sign that authorities had lost control.
being broken,” she
said, referring to
a series of deadly The assailants wanted
attacks in France, to undermine our
Belgium, Turkey
sense of community,
and the US state of
Florida as well as our openness and our
Germany. “These willingness to help
acts happened in
people in need
places where any
of us could have
German Chancellor
But she repeated
her rallying cry from last year when she opened the
borders to people fleeing war and persecution, many
from Syria, which brought nearly 1.1 million migrants
and refugees to the country in 2015.
“I am still convinced today that ‘we can do it’ —
it is our historic duty and this is a historic challenge
in times of globalisation,” she said. “We have already
achieved very, very much in the last 11 months.”
Merkel was speaking after a axe rampage, a
shooting spree, a knife attack and a suicide bombing
stunned the country, leaving 13 dead, including three
assailants, and dozens wounded. — AFP
A refugee takes a selfie with German Chancellor
Angela Merkel outside a refugee camp. — Reuters
July 28: The first passenger ship, carrying 66
people from the Khasab port in Sultanate,
reached Qeshm Island’s free zone in Iran on
Thursday. The passengers were welcomed by a
group of officials.
Farzeedan Hakdel, in charge of cultural,
social and tourist activities at the free zone, said
the shipping line will be inaugurated officially
next week, adding that the regular voyage
between Khasab port and Qeshm Island may
be possible on Sundays and Thursdays from
next week.
He also said that a shipping line from
Qeshm to Masqat and Qeshm to Sahar would
be launched shortly.
The officials from both countries are also
considering the possibility of launching an
aerial route from Shiraz to Qeshm and finally to
According to Hakdel, passengers between
Qeshm and Khasab are able to bring their own
vehicles while the visas would be issued on
arrival in both countries.
PARIS: Health problems caused by a lack of daily
physical exercise cost the world some $67.5 billion (61
billion euros) in 2013 — more than many countries’
GDP, researchers said on Thursday.
The total was divided between $53.8 billion
in healthcare spending and $13.7 billion in lost
productivity, according to a study published.
The research relied on economic and population
data from 142 countries, representing 93 per cent of
the world’s population, its authors said.
But the figure was likely an underestimate as the
data covered only five diseases — coronary heart
disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and
colon cancer — at least the percentage attributable to
physical inactivity. DETAILS ON P9
Oman crude at $40
Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) said that Oman oil price (September
delivery) reached $40.90. The DME statement said that the price of Oman
oil declined 61 cents from the price of Wednesday, which was $41.51.
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Mango encyclopaedia comprises five volumes
“Omanis are very much associated
with mangoes. We have many varieties
in different parts of the country. We
have also introduced other varieties
from different countries. We do have
challenges but now again the number of
mango trees is increasing and it is almost
touching half a million trees distributed
in various parts of the country. The
encyclopaedia will add to the knowledge
and experience of the country in general,
and most specifically of Ministry of
Agriculture and Fisheries. So this is a
big support for us and our efforts. We are
proud of the conclusion of this project,”
said Dr Al Sajwani.
When asked if the content of the
Mango Tree Encyclopaedia will reach
the farmers the minister said, “It would
open doors for everyone — scientists,
academicians, researchers, appliers and
the farmers of course. There is a lot of
knowledge to be disseminated. It is a big
beginning for us.”
The Encyclopaedia is in four
languages — Arabic, English, French
and Spanish. The publisher, Dietritch
Olms, Managing Director of Georg
Olms Verlang, said the project was a
challenge but they are now proud of
being part of this successful publication.
“As a publisher working for 60 years
in the scientific field it was a very big
challenge to have 88 volumes including
the index volume, but we made it with
our experience in editing and translation
of scientific texts. We are very proud to
have had the possibility to take part in
this launch and to serve His Majesty
Sultan Qaboos,” said Olms.
The 10 years of experience has been
amazing said Dr Fatma al Sakry pointing
out that more 130 researchers and
experts from 65 countries contributed to
the study.
“It has been a roller-coaster ride
because we learnt a lot about the mango
as well as about ourselves. I think the
most unique aspect of the experience
was that we could bring all these
scientists together and this has made
such a strong network and today Oman
is a centre for Oman Research even
though we are not one of the largest
producers. People are looking at us as a
resource for information.”
ONA ADDS: Through this project
many countries have contributed to the
provision of data and execution of the
research. The encyclopaedia comprises
five volumes:
Volume 1: Mango Production in the
This volume consists of one
part with several chapters. The first
chapters include an introduction to the
encyclopaedia, and an introductory
chapter on the Sultanate and its
agriculture. The remaining chapters are
Gulf Championship equestrian events continue for second day
Individual, binary competition
winners honoured at tent-pegging
July 28: The Gulf Championship for
tent-pegging competitions continued
for the second day and saw four rounds
for individual competition of sword,
and two rounds for tent-pegging and
In units’ individual competition
for sword, Dawood al Mashferi, from
Mounted Police Unit, got the first
position with a time of 5.31 seconds,
Hisham al Bakri, from Sultan of Oman
Armour Mounted Police, secured the
second with a time of 5.40 seconds, and
Esam Hobees, from Royal Footnote
Mounted Police, came third with a time
of 6.01 seconds.
In the teams’ individual competition,
Oman got the three top positions, where
Ali al Balushi got the first position with
a time of 6.25 seconds and 24 points,
Safwan al Maamari got the second with
a time 6.09 seconds and the 22 points,
and Hilal al Balushi third with a time
5.72 seconds and 18 points.
In units’ competition for tentpegging and two lemons, Saif al
Ashkhari, from Royal Mounted Police,
secured the first position with a time
of 6.21 seconds and 36 points, Omar
al Hasni, Royal Mounted Police, got
the second position with a time of
5.06 seconds and 30 points, and Esam
Hobees, from Royal Footnote Mounted
Police, got the third with a time of 6.25
seconds and 30 points.
In the teams’ competition at the
same game, Oman Team won the first
position with a time of 5.38 seconds
and 36 points which was represented
Hamed al Riyami, Saudi team got the
second with a time of 6.59 seconds
and 36 points, and Qatar team got the
third with a time of 5.19 seconds and 32
Shaikh Salim al Shanfari, Chairman
of Dhofar Municipality, and Chairman
of the Organising Committee of Salalah
festival 2016, the patron for the event,
honoured the winners of both individual
and binary competitions.
Mohammed Juma al Malki, Assistant
coach of Oman team, said: “We are
proud of achievements of our team
in tent-pegging competitions which
saw competitive strength. We are
comfortable with care of all competition’s
organisers”. Dawood al Mashferi, who
came first for the sword individual
competition, said: “I am proud because
I am able to raise the name of Royal
Oman Police and Mounted Police Unit
at the event.”
dedicated to mango cultivation in Oman,
including its history, geographical
distribution, cultivation methods,
production, economic importance,
pests, diseases and other factors that
affect its production and growth. The
final chapters include descriptions of
important mango cultivars in Oman,
and a study of their genetic diversity.
Volume 2: Mango Production and
This volume comprises two parts,
which contain scientific information and
statistics related to mango cultivation.
The chapters in this volume cover areas,
such as history, world distribution, and
climatic requirements. The chapters also
More than 1.3
million cars in
the Sultanate
MUSCAT: The number of
newly-registered vehicles in the
Sultanate has risen to 52,674 vehicles by the end of June, a 0.6
increase compared to the same
period last year, according to
the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).
The latest statistic of NCSI
showed that the number of vehicles belonging to political authorities has jumped by a whopping 36.4 per cent at the same
Total vehicle number stood
at 1,334,776 by the end of June
with 35,428 private vehicles
registered during the May-June
The number of newly-registered taxis stood at 81 by the
end of June compared to 42 in
May a decrease of 8.2 per cent.
Rental cars registration
dropped 14.1 per cent at 1,914
by the end of June.
The statistic showed a gradual increase in the number of
newly-registered vehicles from
10,815 in the month of June
alone compared with 8,252 vehicles registered in May and
7,665 in April.
deal with production practices, including
and propagation. The remaining
chapters focus on modern production,
development and post-harvest practices
for mango, together with discussions of
the economic importance of mango and
future prospects of mango cultivation.
Volume 3: Mango pests and diseases
This volume has one part, which
contains information about the most
important pests and diseases that affect
mango and methods for their control,
together with some case studies of
these problems and their solutions. This
volume also contains a catalogue of the
most important pests and diseases that
affect mangoes, which facilitates access
to related information and the diagnosis
of pests and diseases.
Volume 4: Mango production
around the world
This volume comprises two parts,
which focus on specific mangoproducing countries, including detailed
and statistics for each country, ie,
production, area, rootstocks, cultivars
and their geographical distribution,
cultural practices, pests and diseases,
postharvest management, marketing,
related industries, current research, and
the future prospects of the mango.
Volume 5: Mango varieties around
the world
This volume comprises four parts
and they provide thorough descriptions
of the mango cultivars cultivated
worldwide, including well-known
export cultivars and the local selections
grown in each country.
This volume provides illustrations
and description of all of these cultivars
including the trees, leaves, fruits and
flowers, thereby allowing the reader to
distinguish between different cultivars.
Appropriate information has been
presented in tables in a clear and
accessible style.
Ensure workers do not migrate
illegally: Oman advises India
July 28: Oman has advised India to
ensure that its migrant workforce
visiting the Sultanate for employment
do not resort to illegal migration under
influence of unscrupulous recruitment
agents in their own interests to
enjoy a hassle and exploitation-free
Oman gave this friendly advice
to India while assuring it that the
Sultanate strictly follows the rule of law
and strives its best to ensure that none
of the workers and employees, whether
migrants or natives, are exploited by
employers in the country.
While acceding to Oman’s friendly
advice, India expressed its appreciation
for largely safe, secure and fair working
environment for migrant Indian
India also assured the Omani
delegation that it would further try to
secure the loose end of its migration
process, which has fairly improved
after the introduction e-migration
process, which has greatly eliminated
the role of unscrupulous recruitment
Oman gave the friendly advice
to India in the backdrop of its recent
drive of detecting illegal migrants
to the country during which quite a
few illegal migrants from India were
detected, but following Oman’s liberal
policy of pardon, they were sent back
to India after paying a nominal fine.
Oman gave the friendly advice
during the 5th Meeting the IndiaOman Joint Working Group on
Manpower, held here on Tuesday
during which the entire gamut of labour
and manpower cooperation related
issues between the two countries were
discussed and reviewed.
The Indian delegation was led by
MEA Joint Secretary (OIA-I) Manish
Gupta, while the Omani delegation was
led by Oman’s Manpower Minister’s
Adviser Saleh bin Ayil al Amri.
The Omani delegation also paid a
courtesy call to Additional Secretary
(OIA/CPV) Dnyaneshwar. M Mulay,
the statement said adding that India
and Oman enjoy warm and friendly
“The meeting provided an
opportunity to discuss and review the
entire gamut of labour and manpower
cooperation related issues,” said the
The meeting gave an opportunity
to deliberate upon the well-being
and welfare of the Indian nationals
in Oman, with particular focus on
Indian workers, said well-placed MEA
officials, privy to the deliberation of the
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
HK ‘milkshake murderer’
in fresh court bid
stration of remorse and repentance,
the respondent acted unreasonably,”
the writ says, referring to the city’s
Long Term Prison Sentences Review Board.
The writ argued it was “highly
unlikely” that Kissel would commit
another offence and that she wished
to be transferred to the US — a prospect more likely if her sentence was
“The applicant is a foreign prisoner who is likely to be deported
upon completion of any converted
determinate sentence so that she
and her family... have some idea as
to what the future holds,” the writ
The review board makes suggestions to Hong Kong’s chief executive
about inmates it deems suitable to
be released before the end of an imposed sentence.
The Michigan-born mother-ofthree was first convicted of murder
and handed a life sentence in 2005.
The city’s top court overturned the
conviction in February 2010, citing legal errors, and ordered a fresh
hearing. But she was convicted
again in 2011 and then lost the final
appeal in 2014.
At her 2011 retrial, Kissel sobbed
as she told the jury she had endured
physical and abuse at the hands of
her husband.
She maintained she acted in selfdefence and offered to plead guilty
to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Prosecutors accused Kissel of
rolling up her husband’s body in a
carpet and covering his head with
plastic after killing him in their luxury home at the hillside Parkview
apartment complex. — AFP
Nancy Kissel
HONG KONG: Dubbed the
“milkshake murderer” for one of
Hong Kong’s most notorious crimes,
American Nancy Kissel has lodged a
fresh bid to reduce her life sentence
for murdering her banker husband
in 2003.
The 51-year-old lost an appeal
in 2014 against her conviction for
drugging her husband — a senior
executive at US bank Merrill Lynch
— with a sedative-laced strawberry
drink before clubbing him to death
with a lead ornament in their luxury
home in the southern Chinese city.
Her case gripped the former
British colony, shining a spotlight
on the elite expatriate community,
and featuring sensational allegations
of a heady mix of violence, spying,
greed and enormous wealth.
Kissel is currently serving out her
life sentence at Hong Kong’s highsecurity Tai Lam Centre for Women.
Her lawyers filed a writ to the
city’s high court on Wednesday saying a government department that
periodically reviews sentences of
long-time inmates “wrongly” refused to shorten her sentence when
it looked at her case in April.
“Given... the applicant’s demon-
DRILLS PLANNED: The exercises will see vessels from several of the world’s most powerful militaries
BEIJING: China and Russia will hold
joint naval exercises in the South China
Sea in September, Beijing’s defence
ministry said on Thursday, after an
international tribunal invalidated the
Asian giant’s extensive claims in the area.
The drills will be carried out in
the “relevant sea and air of the South
China Sea”, defence ministry spokesman
Yang Yujun told reporters at a monthly
With international diplomatic
tensions mounting and Washington
regularly sending warships into the
strategically vital area to assert the right
to freedom of navigation, the move
could see vessels from several of the
world’s most powerful militaries in the
same region at the same time.
The drills aimed to “consolidate
and develop” China and Russia’s
comprehensive strategic partnership,
and “enhance the capabilities of the two
navies to jointly deal with maritime
security threats” Yang said.
The announcement comes after
a tribunal at the Permanent Court of
Arbitration in The Hague ruled that there
was “no legal basis” to Beijing’s claims
in the South China Sea, embodied in a
“nine-dash line” dating from Chinese
maps of the 1940s and extending almost
to the coasts of other countries, which
have competing claims.
China has built a series of artificial
islands on rocks and reefs in the area
hosting facilities capable of supporting
military operations, widely seen as an
attempt to bolster its control of the
The tribunal ruling — in a case
Vietnam struck by powerful storm
HANOI: A powerful storm rolled
across northern Vietnam on Thursday
killing one person, delaying flights and
felling hundreds of trees in the capital
Tropical storm Mirinae, which
barrelled across China’s Hainan island
before surging into Vietnam in the early
hours of Thursday, brought high winds
and more than 280 millimetres of rain
as it pushed inland.
More than 32,000 people were
evacuated ahead of the storm which
struck six provinces and cities across
the north, authorities said. In Hanoi,
one person was killed and more than
500 trees were brought down, bringing
widespread traffic delays.
“Many trees have come down onto
people’s houses and cars,” said Hanoi
resident Tran Dai Thang.
Photos of the downed trees — an
unusual politically touchy subject in
communist Vietnam — spread across
People look at a car damaged by a fallen tree on a street following the passage of
typhoon Mirinae which pounded northern Vietnam, in Hanoi. — AFP
social media on Thursday.
Plans by city authorities to cut
down many of the city’s trees sparked
protests last year and a rare u-turn by
the government in a country where
environmental destruction has fuelled
public anger in the past.
National flag carrier Vietnam
Airlines said it had to delay more
than twenty flights to and from Hanoi
because of bad weather.
File picture shows crew members of China’s South Sea Fleet taking part in a drill in the Xisha Islands, or the Paracel Islands in
the South China Sea. — AFP
brought by the Philippines — infuriated
Beijing, which rejected it as “waste
paper” and reiterated its right to declare
an Air Defence Identification Zone
controlling flights over the area.
China and Russia have close military
and diplomatic ties, often in opposition
to the West, particularly the United
States, and their leaders Xi Jinping and
Vladimir Putin enjoy a tight relationship.
The two sides hold joint drills
regularly “on land and sea”, Yang said,
which “contribute to peace and stability.”
September’s exercise was “routine”
TAIPEI: Taiwan on Thursday ordered
almost half the tour buses inspected
after a recent bus inferno — which
killed dozens of Chinese tourists — off
the road after they failed new safety
Twenty-four Chinese tourists and
two Taiwanese nationals died in the
fire earlier this month, the worst road
accident ever to hit mainland visitors
to the island — raising major safety
Nine of 20 buses of the model which
caught fire have been taken off the road
due to problems with circuit fuses and
storage batteries, highway department
officials said on Thursday.
Three more such buses had minor
issues, which authorities have ordered
be repaired.
The bus, operated by the Mei Kui
N Korean seeks refuge in S Korean consulate
North and South Korea remain technically at war, and the reports of a
possible defection are bound to exacerbate tensions.
Uniformed and plainclothes police were patrolling around the office building near the heart of Hong
Kong’s financial centre where the
South Korean consulate is located.
Scores of reporters thronged the
“We are aware of the report,” a
spokeswoman from the Hong Kong
police said, declining to comment
further. The 57th International Mathematical Olympiad was held at the
HKUST on July 11-12. An all-male
team of six took part from North Korea, according to the contest website.
The team finished in 6th place.
South Korea’s foreign ministry declined comment on the media reports
in Hong Kong. A ministry official
said the South Korean government’s
position was not to make any com-
Uniformed and
plainclothes police were
patrolling around the
office building near the
heart of Hong Kong’s
financial centre where the
South Korean consulate is
ments related to North Korean defectors, keeping in mind their safety and
diplomatic relations with relevant
China’s Foreign Ministry in
Beijing also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tensions between North and
South Korea have been particularly
and “does not target any third party”, he
Last August, the two powers — who
were allies then rivals during the Soviet
era — carried out military exercises in
the waters and airspace of the Peter the
Great Gulf, south of the Russian Pacific
city of Vladivostok, involving 22 vessels,
up to 20 aircraft and more than 500
In May last year, they conducted
their first joint naval exercises in
European waters in the Black Sea and
Mediterranean, China’s farthest-ever
Taiwan orders faulty buses
off road after deadly fire
The reports of a possible defection between North, South Korea are bound to exacerbate tensions
HONG KONG: Security was tightened at the South Korean consulate in
Hong Kong on Thursday after media
reports that a North Korean, possibly
a student, had sought refuge there.
The North Korean is understood
to be a member of a delegation that
attended an academic competition at
a Hong Kong university two weeks
ago, the South China Morning Post
said, citing government sources in the
Chinese-ruled city.
A student who assisted at a maths
olympiad held at the Hong Kong
University of Science and Technology (HKUST) said the organising
committee of the competition asked
for help on July 16 to track down an
18-year-old North Korean who had
gone missing after the contest.
The student declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of
the issue. The organising committee
declined comment. The university
could not be reached for comment.
high since the North’s fourth nuclear
test in January. After an announcement by the South in April that 13
workers at a restaurant in China run
by the North had sought asylum,
Pyongyang said they were abducted
by agents from the South.
Hong Kong is ruled by China
under a “one country, two systems”
formula that accords the former British colony a degree of autonomy and
freedoms not enjoyed in mainland
In the early 2000s, there was a rash
of cases of North Koreans seeking
asylum at foreign missions in China,
mostly in Beijing, where in some
cases they scaled embassy walls and
forced their way in.
North Korean defectors mostly
come from the poorest parts of the
destitute state and usually flee over
the traditionally quite porous border
with China.
— Reuters
Shih Transportation Company, caught
fire and smashed through an expressway
barrier last week, just a few kilometres
from Taipei’s Taoyuan airport.
Taiwanese prosecutors are probing
the exact cause of the disaster and say
the fire started at the front of the bus,
near the driver’s seat.
Questions have also been raised
over the driver’s mental state after five
bottles of gasoline were found in the
bus — despite regulations banning
inflammable substances in a vehicle.
“We have twice searched residences
of the driver and looked into his
medical records to clarify his mental
state prior to the accident,” said Wang
Yi-wen, a spokesman for the Taoyuan
district prosecutors’ office. The driver’s
relatives and coworkers are also being
questioned, he added. — AFP
drills from its home waters.
Xi and Putin meet frequently
and their countries, both permanent
members of the United Nations Security
Council, often take similar stances there
on divisive issues such as the conflict in
In response to Beijing’s increased
activity in the South China Sea, the US
began a series of “freedom of navigation”
operations in the area, sailing naval
vessels within 12 nautical miles — the
normal territorial limit around natural
land — of reefs in the region. — AFP
Japan to review
mental health system
TOKYO: Japan is reviewing its mental
health system to see how a man who
was hospitalised after making violent
threats came to be released after just 12
days and was later able to kill 19 people.
Satoshi Uematsu, 26, has admitted
to carrying out the country’s worst mass
killing in decades on Tuesday when
he stabbed to death 19 people and
wounded 26 others at a care centre for
the mentally disabled west of Tokyo.
A former employee of the centre,
Uematsu left his job in February
and was forcibly hospitalised by city
authorities for evaluation after having
made verbal and written threats to kill
the mentally disabled, including those
at the centre.
His release from hospital 12 days
later, after it was decided he posed no
threat, has raised questions about the
decision to discharge him as well as his
follow-up monitoring.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now
met with relevant officials and ordered
a review into the mental healthcare.
system. — AFP
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Boosting bilateral ties
Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion gestures next
to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
during their meeting, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Pakistan, Iran call for joint commission
BORDER SECURITY: The two countries call for restablishing institutional mechanism to oversee the security
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran on
Thursday cited the need to establish
institutional mechanisms to oversee
border security in addition to fighting
against the common threat posed by
Da’ish, the Arabic acronym of IS.
This was stated in a joint statement
by National Security Adviser Lt Gen
Nasser Janjua and Iran’s Secretary of the
Supreme National Security Council Ali
Shamkhani as the former concluded his
three-day trip to Tehran.
“They noted the need for establishing
institutional mechanism to oversee the
border security, including Joint Commission, and agreed to continue further
discussions,” the joint statement read
about border security issues discussed
between the two countries.
The statement also called for unity
among the Muslim Ummah through
early resolution of all differences while
calling for the “need for fighting against
the common threat posed by IS, which
was not only posing a grave threat to the
stability of the Muslim countries but also
giving a bad name to Islam — a religion
of peace.” Pakistan in the past attempted
to mediate between the two key Islamic
countries but with little success.
Islamabad is trying to follow a delicate path as it neither wants to spoil ties
with Iran nor turn its back towards Saudi Arabia with whom the country has
longstanding strategic partnership.
Meanwhile, the NSA’s visit to Iran
comes at a time when Islamabad and Kabul are poised to discuss a mechanism to
keep in check illegal cross-border movement on the Pakistan, Afghanistan border.
Pakistan introduced a new mechanism from June 1, making it obligatory Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua
for every Afghan citizen to carry legal with his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani in Tehran.
Pakistan ruling party’s state minister from Sindh resigns
Minister of State for National Health Services and Coordination, Saira Afzal Tarar taking
part in awareness walk on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day in Islamabad.
Myanmar cops detained after
drugs found at police post
YANGON: Myanmar police have
detained seven colleagues from a
border unit after nearly 300,000
methamphetamine tablets were found
hidden at their camp, a senior official
told Reuters on Thursday.
Acting on a tip-off, police raided a
Border Police camp in a remote area
near the frontier with Bangladesh and
found the drugs buried in the camp
“The police found a total of
292,500 stimulant tablets hidden in
the ground inside the kitchen,” Soe
Linn Aye, a senior officer at national
police headquarters in the capital,
Naypyitaw, said.
The haul was estimated to be worth
580 million kyat ($490,000), he said.
Myanmar has for decades been
a major producer of opium and its
refined form, heroin, and in more
recent years it has also become a
major supplier of the stimulant
travel documents for entering into the
Pakistani territory.
Earlier, thousands of Afghans, living
near the border, would enter Pakistan
without passport and visas. Pakistani
officials insist that the militants would
take advantage of the loose border control and would move on either sides of
the border for carrying out terrorist activities.
Afghanistan had complained that
Pakistan introduced the new system
without consulting it. Both sides had last
month involved in border clashes over
the construction of a gate on the Pakistani side of the border at Torkham.
Later, the two countries agreed on a
ceasefire and a joint committee to address to the border disputes. Pakistan
and Afghanistan have a nearly 2,600
km-long border, mostly porous.
— Internews
Narcotics pose a major headache
for the government led by Aung San
Suu Kyi, which governs the large,
impoverished and fractious country
after winning a landslide election
victory in November.
Most drugs are produced in border
areas controlled by ethnic minority
rebels or by militias allied with the
Myanmar’s western border with
India and Bangladesh is an important
route used to smuggle chemicals for
the production of methamphetamines
into Myanmar.
The manufactured drugs are then
smuggled back the other way, into
South Asia, experts say. Drugs from
Myanmar also flow north into China
and east into Southeast Asia.
Experts fear that Myanmar
could soon see an explosion in
methamphetamine use. The drug is
already widely used in different parts
of Asia.
— Reuters
ISLAMABAD: The ruling party’s only
MNA from Sindh, Abdul Hakeem
Baloch who is awaiting approval of his
resignation from the portfolio of state
minister for communication has asked
the National Assembly speaker for the
perks and privileges of an MNA as he
has relinquished his ministerial job.
In a letter, Baloch requested the
speaker for allotment of apartment in
the Parliament Lodges and restoration
of salary, allowances and privileges
which a Member of the National
Assembly is entitled to.
“Your kind attention is invited
towards the matter of my resignation
from portfolio of state minister for
communications which has been
discussed time and again with your
good self.
I was waiting for positive response
from the honourable prime minister
but did not receive any response,” says
the letter.
Baloch resubmitted resignation to
the PM on May 26, this year.
“Now it is requested to kindly fulfil
my above mentioned plea and oblige, I,
hereby, surrender all facilities provided
to me as a state minister, looking
forward to an immediate response
from your good self.”
When contacted, Baloch said he
had tendered his resignation from
the post of state minister after he was
highly disappointed by the PML-N and
that he now wanted to revert to his
actual position. — Internews
An Afghan refugee family arrives at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) repatriation centre on the
outskirts of Peshawar, as they prepare to return to her home country after fleeing civil war and Taliban rule. — AFP
15 Lankan
awarded Chinese
COLOMBO: Fifteen Sri Lankan
students have been awarded Chinese
government scholarships, an official
said on Thursday.
The students, selected from at least
1,000 applicants, were nominated
to receive post-graduate or undergraduate scholarships in the fields of
science, arts, management, medicine
and engineering, an official from
the Sri Lankan Higher Education &
Highways Ministry said at a ceremony
held at the Chinese Embassy in Sri
According to the official, these
students will spend over five years in
China on average in Peking University,
Zhejiang University and others,
Xinhua news agency reported.
“I would like to mention here that
the selection process was done in a fair
and transparent way and the selected
candidates are the most suitable and
qualified people among the applicants,”
the official said.
Chinese Ambassador to Sri
Lanka Yi Xianliang also attended
the ceremony and jointly awarded
scholarships to the students.
China will extend full support to Sri
Lanka in all fields including education,
Yi said.
18 militants
killed in
KABUL: At least 18 militants were
killed and 17 others injured when security forces raided Taliban positions
in Afghanistan’s Dasht-e-Archi district, an official said on Thursday.
According to the official, the security forces backed by aircrafts attacked
Taliban hideouts on Wednesday,
Xinhua news agency reported.
Over 20 militants were also arrested in Saripul Province, the official
Meanwhile, Afghan forces backed
by US airstrikes on Tuesday ramped
up an offensive against the IS group
in their eastern stronghold, days after
the extremists claimed the deadliest
attack for 15 years in the capital Kabul.
Afghan troops seized large parts
of the mountainous district of Kot in
Nangarhar province, a key IS stronghold where the fighters set up sharia
courts and training camps displaying
their own trademark black flag.
“They have been taught a lesson for
their crimes. We will wipe out IS from
Nangarhar,” said defence ministry
spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.
The offensive follows the twin
bombings on Saturday that tore
through crowds of minority as they
protested over a major power line in
Kabul, killing 80 people and leaving
hundreds of others maimed.
— Agencies
Workers in Darra Adamkhel are so skilled that they can copy any weapon they are shown and have sold large numbers with zero complaints
Guns cheaper than smartphones in Pakistani tribal town
A Pakistani arms seller picks an assault rifle from a shelf at his shop in the tribal area
of Darra Adamkhel. — AFP
DARRA ADAMKHEL: Gunfire echoes through a dusty northwest tribal
town, the soundtrack to Pakistan’s biggest arms black market, where Kalashnikovs welded from scrap metal are
cheaper than smartphones and sold on
an industrial scale.
Darra Adamkhel, a town surrounded by hills some 35 kilometres south
of the city of Peshawar, was a hub of
criminal activity for decades.
People smugglers and drug runners
were common and everything from
stolen cars to fake university degrees
could be procured.
This generations-old trade in
the illicit boomed in the 1980s: The
mujahideen began buying weapons
there for Afghanistan’s battle against
the Soviets, over the porous border.
Later, the town became a stronghold
of the Pakistani Taliban, who enforced
their strict rules and parallel system of
justice — infamously beheading Polish
engineer Piotr Stanczak there in 2009.
Now Darra is clean of all but the
arms, yet the gunsmiths in the bazaar
say the region’s improved security and
authorities’ growing intolerance for illegal weaponry are withering an industry that sustained them for decades.
“(The) Nawaz Sharif government
has established checkpoints everywhere, business is stopped,” said Khitab
Gul, 45.
Gul is known in Darra for his replicas of Turkish and Bulgarian-made
MP5 submachine guns, one of the most
popular weapons in the world, widely
used by organisations such as America’s FBI SWAT teams.
The MP5 can retail for thousands
of dollars. Gul’s version, which comes
with a one-year guarantee, costs
roughly 7,000 rupees, or $67 — and,
he claims, it works perfectly.
Gul then puts on a demonstration,
test-firing his MP5 in the small outer
yard of his workshop — first the single
shot mode, then firing in a burst.
A Darra-made Kalashnikov, Gul
says, can sell for as little as $125, cheaper than most smartphones. “The workers here are so skilled that they can
copy any weapon they are shown,” he
“In past 10 years I have sold 10,000
guns, and had zero complaints,” he
claims. In Gul’s sweltering workshop,
employees shout over the roar of electrical generators as they expertly cut
and drill through metal brought from
the shipyards of Karachi, far to the
south on the Arabian Sea.
The main bazaar which cuts
through the town used to hold nothing
but tiny gun shops crammed together,
their gleaming wares displayed openly
on racks as customers test-fired into
the air above.
Trade was illegal, unlicensed and
unregulated, but long tolerated by authorities with little power in the tribal
areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where militants once operated
with impunity. — AFP
Rajnath Singh to visit Pakistan for Saarc meet
Amid tension over violence in Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to
travel to Pakistan to attend the Saarc Home/Interior Ministers Conference in August,
official sources confirmed on Thursday. — IANS
CONSPIRACY: There were a total of 22 accused who were charged
with procuring a huge amount of explosives, arms and ammunition
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Aurangabad arms haul:
12 guilty, 8 acquitted
MUMBAI: A Special MCOCA Court on
Thursday found 12 accused, including
LeT operative and 26/11 plotter Sayed
Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal,
guilty and acquitted eight others in the
sensational 2006 Aurangabad arms haul
Special MCOCA Judge S L Anekar
also upheld the prosecution’s plea that
the case was part of a larger post-2002
Gujarat communal riots conspiracy
to eliminate then Chief Minister (now
Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and
Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen
Special Judge Anekar will start
hearing the arguments on the quantum
of punishment for the convicts
from Friday between the lawyers of
the convicts and the Special Public
Prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade and lawyer
Abhijee Mantri.
There were a total of 22 accused
who were charged with procuring a
huge amount of explosives, arms and
ammunition, and allegedly planned to
target various political leaders for their
role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The trial, which had resumed in
2013 after the arrest of Abu Jundal, had
concluded in March this year before
the Maharashtra Control of Organised
Crime Act Special Court here.
The 12 found guilty are: Abu Jundal,
Aslam Kashmiri, Faisal Ataur-Rehman
Shaikh, Afroz Khan Shahid Pathan,
Sayyed Akif S Jafruddin, Bilal Ahmed
Abdul Razaq, medico M Sharif Shabbir
In all, a total of 16 AK47
army assault rifles, 3,200 live
cartridges, 43 kg of RDX and
50 hand grenades were sized
from Khultabad,
Yeola and Malegaon areas on
two separate occasions
by the ATS.
Ahmed, Afzal K Nabi Khan, Mushtaq
Ahmed M Isaf Shaikh, Javed A Abdul
Majid, M Muzafar Mohammed Tanveer
and Mohammed Amir Shakil Ahmed.
The eight acquitted on various
grounds, including lack of evidence,
are: Mohammed Juber Sayyed Anwar,
Abdul Azim Abdul Jalil, Riyaz Ahmed
M Ramzan, Khatib Imran Akil Ahmed,
Vikar Ahmed Nisar Shaikh, Abdul
Samad Shamsher Khan, Mohammed
Akil Ismail Momin and Firoz Tajuddin
The trial of two other accused — an
absconder Shaikh Abdul Naim, and
an approver-turned hostile witness
Mehmud Sayyed — shall be conducted
separately in the case.
Following a tip-off, the Maharashtra
Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) teams
chased a speeding Tata Indica and a
Tata Sumo on the Chandwad-Manmad
highway near Aurangabad on May 8,
They apprehended three suspects
from the Tata Sumo — Mohammed
Aamir Shakil Ahmed, Juber Sayed
Anwar and Abdulazeem Abduljameel
Shaikh — while the Tata Indica, allegedly
driven by Abu Jundal, managed to give
the slip.
In all, a total of 16 AK47 army assault
rifles, 3,200 live cartridges, 43 kg of RDX
and 50 hand grenades were sized from
Khultabad, Yeola and Malegaon areas
on two separate occasions by the ATS.
After escaping the police team,
Jundal dumped the vehicle with another
associate in Malegaon in Nashik district
and fled to Bangladesh and then to
Pakistan on a forged passport.
A native of Beed in Maharashtra, he
was arrested after his deportation from
Saudi Arabia in June 2012.
He then revealed to the ATS another
hideout from where they recovered
13 kg RDX, 1,200 cartridges, 50 hand
grenades and 22 magazine rounds.
In 2013 the ATS filed its chargesheet
against all the 22 accused, including
Jundal, for conspiring in various terror
cases since 2006.
Earlier, the trial had been stayed
by the Supreme Court after one
of the accused had challenged the
constitutional validity of certain
provisions in the MCOCA invoked on
the accused but the stay was lifted in
2009. — IANS
Defamation law can’t be used by
government to stifle criticism: SC
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on
Thursday said defamation laws cannot
be used by the government to stifle
In an obvious reference to several
defamation cases filed by the Tamil
Nadu government of J Jayalalithaa
against her critics, the apex court said
such action amounts to curbing of free
The bench of Justice Dipak Misra
and Justice Rohinton Faliman said such
defamation cases against the lawmakers
and those who criticise government
policies have a “chilling effect”.
“It amounts to curbing of free speech.
There has to be tolerance for
criticism. The defamation law cannot be
used as a political counter weapon,” the
bench said.
“For any criticism like corruption
in the government or that one is not fit
to run the government, you can’t slap
The bench stayed the nonbailable warrants issued
against DMDK leader Captain
Vijaykanth and his wife
Premalatha that were issued
by a trial court at Tirupur in
Tamil Nadu.
defamation cases,” the bench observed.
The apex court bench also sought a
list of defamation cases filed by the law
officers of the Jayalalithaa government.
Referring to its judgement upholding
the defamation law under the Indian
Penal Code and Code of Criminal
Procedure, the bench said it was its duty
to protect the people against whom
defamation cases were filed if it found
that there was “continuous effort and
deliberate design” to use the public
prosecutors to institute cases.
The apex court by its May 13, 2016,
judgement had rejected the challenge
to the constitutional validity of penal
provisions for criminal defamation.
The court had then said “it is
extremely difficult to subscribe to the
view that criminal defamation has a
chilling effect on the freedom of speech
and expression”.
The bench stayed the non-bailable
warrants issued against DMDK leader
Captain Vijaykanth and his wife
Premalatha that were issued by a trial
court at Tirupur in Tamil Nadu.
Vijaykanth and his wife had attracted
the defamation case for criticising the
Tamil Nadu government policy and
describing it as corrupt. — IANS
Uttarakhand to hunt for
‘life-saving’ mythical plant
Northern state
Uttarakhand will soon begin a multimillion dollar search in the Himalayas
for a mythical plant believed to hold lifesaving properties, a local minister said on
Uttarakhand will spend Rs 250 million
($37 million) of state money hunting
the herb Sanjeevani Booti, which is
credited in the ancient Hindu text
While many wild plants with medicinal
properties grow in the Himalayas, there is
scant evidence that the plant ever existed,
with sages and modern researchers failing
for centuries to find it.
“We have to try and it will never go
to waste. If we are determined we will
certainly find it,” Surendra Singh Negi, the
state’s minister for alternative medicine,
The minister said the search will focus
on the Dronagiri range of Himalayas near
the Chinese border, one mountain of
which is mentioned in the epic Ramayana
as being the site where the magical herb
“We have set an initial budget of Rs
250 million ($37 million) for the project,”
Negi said. Scientists will start work in
August, the minister said, adding that the
central government has refused to fund
the project.
Ancient texts say the plant has liferestoring properties, grows in the high
mountains of the Himalayas and glows in
the dark.
India’s 5,000-year-old medicine system
Ayurveda uses herbs to cure ailments and
has seen a revival under Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s government.
A forest ranger sits at the front of a vessel as it approaches a ranger’s building through floodwaters in The Pobitora Wildlife
Sanctuary in Morigoan district, some 70 kms from Guwahati, in the north-eastern state of Assam on Thursday. Floods in Assam
are affecting some 1.25 million people as the annual monsoon continues to cross the Indian sub-continent. — AFP
Goa suspends
bus services to
Karnataka over
river dispute
PANAJI: Following reports of anti-Goa
protests in northern Karnataka over the
Mhadei Water tribunal ruling, the Goa
government on Thursday suspended
bus services to the neighbouring state
for two days.
Goa’s Transport Minister Sudin
Dhavalikar told reporters here that
the suspension order was issued as a
“precautionary measure”.
“The Karnataka bandh is for the state
of Karnataka only, not for Goa. We have
won the Mhadei dispute issue yesterday.
The Karnataka government should solve
its problem.
“Though bus operators here are
ready to go to Karnataka, I have ordered
them not to go there for two days.
Right now there are no bus services for
Karnataka,” Dhavalikar said.
The cities and towns of Karnataka
are a major trade as well as passenger
destination for Goa and over 100 interstate buses, operated by both private
and public operators, ply between the
two states every day.
Wednesday and Thursday saw
a string of protests in northern
Karnataka, along the Goa border, after
the New Delhi-based Mhadei Water
disputes tribunal on Wednesday, in an
interim ruling, directed the Karnataka
government not to divert 7.56 TMC
water from Mhadei river to Malaprabha
basin until final orders.
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant
Parsekar said that people from both
states should respect law and order and
the order of the tribunal and resolve
issues in a “cultured” way instead of
staging protests.
“We are an educated state. Karnataka
is also an educated state and educated
people must respect the country’s
constitution, laws and should listen
to what the judiciary says. If it can
be challenged, they are free to do it,”
Parsekar said. — IANS
Eminent writer
Mahasweta Devi dead
KOLKATA: Eminent writer and
social activist Mahasweta Devi, a
crusader for the rights of tribals and
the oppressed, died at a city nursing
home on Thursday following
prolonged old-age complications.
She was 90. “She passed away at 3.16
pm following a cardiac arrest and
multi-organ failure,” an attending
doctor confirmed.
The Ramon Magsaysay winner is
survived by her daughter-in-law and
grandchild. Mahasweta Devi’s son
pre-deceased her two years back.
The Jnanpith and Padma
Vibhushan awardee was undergoing
treatment for age-related illnesses
and renal problems at the private
clinic for over two months.
In a six-decade literary career, she
authored over 120 books, comprising
20 collections of short stories and
around 100 novels, and contributed
innumerable articles and columns
to newspapers and magazines, a
large number of them woven around
tribal life.
Adopting a simple style laced with
colloquial words and expressions,
Mahasweta blended oral histories
with contemporary events to portray
the sufferings of the tribals in the
hands of upper-caste landlords,
money lenders and government
The novel Aranyer Adhikar (The
Occupation of the Forest), dwelling
on Birsa Munda’s revolt against
the British, fetched Mahasweta the
Sahitya Akademi award in 1979.
Choti Munda evam Tar Tir (Choti
Munda and His Arrow), Bashai
Tudu, Titu Mir, are among other
Her short story collections
A boy jumps from one pontoon to another as he plays on the banks of the river Ganges in Allahabad on
Thursday. — Reuters
including Imaginary Maps and
Breast Stories, Of Women, Outcasts,
Peasants, and Rebels, and short
stories Dhowli and Rudali also deal
with tribal life.
Another famous novel published
in 1975 — Hajar Churashir Maa
(Mother of 1,084) — inspired by
Maxim Gorky’s Mother, has the
backdrop of the Maoist movement.
Born in 1926 at Dhaka, presently
capital of Bangladesh, into a family
of poets, writers, and artists,
Mahasweta Devi was moulded as a
child in the rich milieu of Bengali
high culture.
Her father poet-novelist Manish
Ghatak and mother writer-social
activist Dharitri Devi shaped her
liberal outlook.
She cleared her graduation with
English honours at Rabindranath
Tagore-founded Visva Bharati at
Santiniketan, and later got her M A
degree from Calcutta University.
Her Magsaysay award citation
says, alongside her creative writing,
“Devi bombarded the government
with complaint letters and published
a profusion of articles documenting
abuses by police, landlords,
politicians, and officials against
tribal communities. — IANS
Couple hacked
to death over
15-rupee debt
NEW DELHI: An axe-wielding
shopkeeper hacked a couple to death
in northern India on Thursday after they
failed to pay a debt of rupees 15, police
The middle-aged couple from the
lowest Dalit caste in Uttar Pradesh state
were on their way to work early on
Thursday when the grocery store owner
asked them to pay their 15-rupee debt.
“The shopkeeper demanded money
but they pleaded to be able to pay it
later. He became enraged and attacked
them with an axe,” Arun Kumar, the
investigating officer in Mainpuri district,
said. The officer said the couple had
bought goods from the shop last week
with a promise to pay the 60-year-old
owner within a few days.
“Their refusal to pay made him angry
and he killed them,” Kumar said.
The owner was arrested soon after
the incident and the murder weapon
recovered, the officer said. — AFP
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
S Sudan on the brink of abyss: UN chief
South Sudan stands on the brink of an abyss, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said
Thursday after a fresh flareup in fighting unleashed a wave of sexual violence. Ban told
the Security Council that he was “appalled by the scale of sexual violence.”
FRESH MOVE: The president said the new force made up of volunteers from police and military will be operational by early autumn
France to form National Guard to help fight terror
PARIS: President Francois Hollande
on Thursday confirmed plans to set up
a National Guard drawn from existing
reserves to help security forces combat
terror attacks on French soil.
A “defence council” to be held early
next month will hammer out the force’s
hierarchy and command structure,
Hollande’s office said in a statement.
Parliamentary consultations will
follow in September in the hope that
“this force can be created as fast as
possible to protect the French”.
The announcement came after
France suffered two attacks in less than
a fortnight this month — in a bloody
series that began with the January
2015 Charlie Hebdo killings — and
the government has come under fierce
criticism for alleged security lapses.
Calls arose for the National Guard
following the November 13 massacre in
Paris that claimed 130 lives.
The president said he hopes the
guard, made up of volunteers from the
police, paramilitary police and military,
will be operational by early autumn.
Hollande had previously considered
boosting existing reserves among the
three groups.
In this framework, some 15,000
operational reservists should be
available by the end of the month “to
ensure security for various events of the
summer,” Hollande said while on a visit
to southwestern France.
Earlier this month he said the
defence ministry would call up 28,000
reservists for the coming weeks, while
the paramilitary police will tap an extra
10,000 men and women who retired less
than two years ago.
In January he called for the number
of army reserves to be boosted from the
current 28,000 to 40,000 by 2019. France
has not had a national guard since 1872.
Members of the very first one, formed
in 1789 at the outset of the French
Revolution over fears of a royalist coup,
wore a blue, white and red rosette on
The French government has
said that everything possible is
being done to protect citizens,
while warning that more
terror attacks are inevitable,
after three major strikes and
several smaller attacks in the
past 18 months.
The prosecutor’s office named the
assailant as 19-year-old Abdel Malik
Petitjean, who was listed in June on
A man walks past floral tributes and a note including a picture of French priest
France’s “Fiche S” of people posing a
Jacques Hamel killed in the church in front of Jhis house on Thursday in SaintEtienne-du-Rouvray, northern France. — AFP
potential threat to national security after
trying to reach Syria from Turkey.
Petitjean, whose face was disfigured
their hats — the origin of the French in the brutal killing of an elderly priest,
national colours.
as calls mounted for the prime minister after being shot dead by police, had
French prosecutors on Thursday and interior minister to resign after the been harder to identify than his
accomplice Adel Kermiche, also 19, and
identified the second extremist involved latest terror attack.
Pope Francis falls in Poland, escapes injury
CZESTOCHOWA: Pope Francis fell on
Thursday after stumbling on an altar
step during a visit to Poland but quickly
got back to his feet, without injury.
The 79-year-old Argentine pontiff
stumbled, then fell down out of view
before being helped to his feet by altar
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said
“the pope is fine” after Francis delivered
a homily and said mass at the revered
Jasna Gora monastery in Czestochowa,
southern Poland.
It is home to the Black Madonna, an
icon which Catholic faithful believe has
miraculous qualities.
Security was tight at the hill-top
shrine following a series of attacks in
Europe, with a highly visible police and
army presence on the roads leading
into the city. Francis, 79, hopped in an
open-topped popemobile for a tour
through the cheering crowds.
“We slept so little, but it’s worth it,
what an atmosphere!” said pilgrim Kate
Tor, whose young sons were among
the thousands of children who had
camped out on the sweeping avenue
leading to the monastery.
Teenagers still wrapped in sleeping
bags, elderly couples perched on
folding chairs outside tents and
families with Francis-themed balloons
were serenaded by the Argentine
pope’s favourite tango music before his
Pope Francis is helped onto his feet after falling on the stairs during a mass at
the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa on Thursday. — AFP
Ambulances and fire-engines were
on standby with Polish officials taking
no chances with security following the
murder of a priest in a French church
on the eve of the pope’s five-day trip to
celebrate the 2016 World Youth Day.
Shortly after touching down in
Poland, Francis said the world was at
war but argued that religion was not
the cause, insisting the way for people
to “overcome fear” was to provide
asylum to those fleeing conflict.
Francis left Czestochowa on
Thursday by helicopter, heading back
to Krakow where he will be presented
with the keys to the city, before
jumping on to a tram which will whisk
him to the sprawling Blonia meadow
for his first big WYD event.
At his first meeting with youngsters
on Wednesday evening at the window
of the archbishop’s palace in Krakow,
he encouraged the thousands
gathered below to party.
“Now go and do your duty, make
noise all night long!” he finished with a
grin. — AFP
Spanish parties stick to guns in talks
with king as stalemate drags on
MADRID: Major parties holding the
balance of power in Spain declined to
support plans for a conservative-led
government in talks with the King on
Thursday, dashing hopes of a quick end
to a seven-month political stalemate.
National elections in December and
June both resulted in hung parliaments,
forcing the parties to try to negotiate
their way to a viable coalition — so far
without success.
individually with King Felipe on
Thursday — the fourth such set of talks
this year — as they seek a consensus
candidate to lead the next government.
Insiders were hoping a deadline to
pass a budget for 2017 by the end of
September will concentrate minds.
But the left-leaning parties, the
second-placed Socialists and Unidos
Podemos (“Together We Can”),
reiterated after the talks with the King
that they would oppose Rajoy.
(“Citizens”), which came fourth in the
June 26 election, said it would abstain in
a confidence vote.
Elephant poaching in Africa down,
but still far too high, says CITES
OSLO: The illegal killing of African
elephants for their ivory seems to have
fallen from record peaks but poaching
of the animal is still far too high, an
international report said on Thursday.
More patrols in wildlife parks, better
forensic techniques for tracking the
origin of tusks, and a crackdown on
corruption by China, the main market
for ivory, were among factors helping to
limit the slaughter.
“There are elements of good news,
but we are nowhere near the success
we need to turn the trends around,”
John Scanlon, Secretary-General of the
Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES), said of
CITES findings.
About 60 per cent of the elephants
found dead in the wild in 2015 had been
killed by poachers for their ivory rather
than having died of natural causes,
down from almost 80 per cent at a peak
in 2011, it said.
A CITES index tracking the illegal
ivory trade dipped in 2014, the latest
year for which data are available, from
peaks in 2012 and 2013 that were the
highest since international commercial
trade in ivory was banned in 1989.
Taken together, the data indicated
that poaching was declining or had at
least stabilised after a surge that began
a decade ago, CITES said. But rates
A bird flies over a family of elephants walking in the Amboseli National Park, southeast of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
— Reuters file photo
were still far too high to enable depleted
populations of the world’s largest land
animal to recover.
Scanlon said that best estimates were
that illegal killings peaked at around
30,000 in 2011 and were still in the “low
tens of thousands” a year.
“In some parts of the African
continent we are confronting potential
local extinctions, in particular in central
and western Africa,” he said. Southern
Africa had the lowest rates of poaching.
Africa now has only about 500,000
elephants, down from 1.2 million in
the 1970s. Ivory is prized in everything
from bracelets and buttons to carved
CITES, with about 180 member
governments, will meet in Johannesburg
in September to discuss how to protect
Kenya will lead calls for stronger
investigators confirmed his identity after
a DNA match with his mother.
The two were shown pledging
allegiance to the IS group in a video
made before they stormed a church in
the Normandy town of Saint-Etiennedu-Rouvray on Tuesday and slit the
86-year-old priest’s throat at the altar.
The attack came as the government
was already facing a firestorm of
criticism over alleged security failings
after the Bastille Day truck massacre that
left 84 people dead two weeks ago.
A brief show of political unity at a
mass attended by different faiths in Paris
Wednesday quickly dissolved as Prime
Minister Manuel Valls and Interior
Minister Bernard Cazeneuve faced fresh
calls to resign.
The French government has said
that everything possible is being done
to protect citizens, while warning that
more terror attacks are inevitable, after
three major strikes and several smaller
attacks in the past 18 months. — AFP
bans on the ivory trade and torched
thousands of elephant tusks and rhino
horns from a government stockpile in
By contrast, Zimbabwe says the best
way to raise funds to help protect its
83,000 elephants is by allowing it to sell
ivory stockpiles. The last legal sales of
African ivory from stockpiles, to China
and Japan, ended in 2009.
— Reuters
Spanish Socialist party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez (R) and Spanish King Felipe
VI seen before a meeting at La Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on Thursday. — AFP
“We want to change Rajoy’s
government and this is why we will
vote ‘no’ in a confidence vote,” Socialist
leader Pedro Sanchez told journalists.
Without backing or at least an
abstention from the Socialists, Rajoy
would find it almost impossible to
secure a majority for a second term in
Other smaller regional parties had
previously all said they would vote
against Rajoy as well, leaving his People’s
Party with 137 seats, well short of the
176 needed for an absolute majority in
Spain’s lower house.
Rajoy’s PP was the only one of the
four main parties to win more seats in
June than in December.
He was scheduled to meet the
monarch later, but the latest round of
talks could well end with no candidate
for prime minister emerging. — Reuters
Heart hazard for Apollo
astronauts: Reveals study
PARIS: Nasa’s Apollo astronauts, the
only humans to have travelled beyond
Earth’s protective magnetosphere, die
disproportionately of heart and blood
vessel diseases, researchers said on
Thursday, blaming radiation.
This raises health concerns for all
humans with dreams of travelling to
the Moon, Mars or beyond, as space
agencies and private companies vie to
expand humankind’s extraterrestrial
footprint. “We know very little about
the effects of deep space radiation
on human health, particularly on the
cardiovascular system,” said Michael
Delp of the Florida State University.
“This gives us the first glimpse into
its adverse effects on humans.”
Of seven Apollo astronauts to
have died to date, three (43 per cent)
succumbed to cardiovascular disease —
a group of ailments that includes heart
attacks, brain aneurysms and strokes.
This was “four to five times higher”
than for trained astronauts who never
left Earth (nine per cent), and those like
the International Space Station crews
who stayed closer to home in low-Earth
orbit (11 per cent).
The findings were published in
the journal Scientific Reports. “These
data suggest that human travel into
deep space may be more hazardous to
cardiovascular health than previously
estimated,” the researchers wrote. Nasa’s
Apollo programme sent 11 manned
flights into space between 1968 and
1972. Of the 24 men who flew beyond
Astronaut Edwin E Aldrin Jr walks on
the surface of the moon near the leg of
the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” during
the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity
(EVA) in this July 20, 1969 Nasa
handout photo. — Reuters
Earth orbit into deep space, eight have
died to date.
The eighth, Edgar Mitchell, passed
away this year, after the data had been
analysed, and was not included in the
Beyond the magnetosphere, a
magnetic “bubble” which shields Earth
and its occupants, the Apollo astronauts
were exposed to unprecedented levels
of particle radiation, said the study.
The ISS, by comparison, orbits Earth
within the magnetosphere.
Energetic particles from galactic
radiation can be dangerous to humans
as they pass right through the skin and
can damage cells or DNA, according to
Nasa. — AFP
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
RELIEF: Russian minister said three humanitarian corridors were being opened
Russia announces aid operation
for Syria’s besieged Aleppo
Syrian army soldiers patrol the area around the entrance of Bani Zeid after taking control of the previously rebel-held district of
Leramun, on the northwest outskirts of Aleppo, on Thursday. — AFP
ALEPPO: Syria ally Russia on Thursday
announced a “large-scale” aid operation
to allow civilians and fighters to flee besieged Aleppo, as the president offered
an amnesty to rebels who surrender.
Government forces have surrounded
rebel-held districts in eastern Aleppo
since July 17, sparking fears for at least
200,000 people who live there.
Residents have reported food short-
Egypt’s former
anti-graft head
gets jail term for
CAIRO: Egypt’s former anticorruption chief was sentenced
on Thursday to one year in
prison on charges of having exaggerated the impact of graft on
the country. Hisham Geneina,
head of the Central Auditing
Authority until his dismissal in
March by President Abdel Fattah
al Sisi, was also ordered to pay a
fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds
(around $2,000).
The retired judge’s troubles
began after he quoted a study
by the authority based on 20122015 reports that calculated the
cost of corruption at about 600
billion pounds ($66 billion).
The study highlighted the
allegedly illegal acquisition of
state-owned land by senior officials and businessmen from
the tenure of toppled president
Hosni Mubarak.
Ahead of his trial in June, Geneina, 32, said he was convinced
that his sacking was based on an
erroneous media report suggesting he attributed the 600-billion
figure to 2015 alone.
On Thursday, a Cairo court
sentenced him to jail, accusing
him of “spreading false information aimed at disrupting public peace and order”, a judicial
source said.
Geneina was also ordered to
post bail of 10,000 pounds pending an appeal hearing.
The retired judge faced an intense media campaign accusing
him and his family of tarnishing
Egypt’s image and of membership of the banned opposition.
In the trial that opened in
June, the prosecution accused
Geneina of “spreading false news
with the goal of harming public
interest” and of using “baseless
calculations” to exaggerate the
cost of corruption. — AFP
ages and spiralling prices in rebel districts since regime forces cut off the
opposition’s main supply route into the
northern city earlier this month.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei
Shoigu said three humanitarian corridors were being opened “to aid civilians
held hostage by terrorists and for fighters wishing to lay down their arms”.
He told Russian news agencies that a
fourth corridor would be opened to the
north of Aleppo for rebels to flee with
their weapons.
Medical and food assistance would
be provided along the routes for
civilians and fighters who lay down
their weapons, Shoigu said, adding the
operation would get underway later on
President Bashar al Assad, mean-
while, issued a decree offering an amnesty to rebels who surrender over the
next three months, the official SANA
news agency reported.
“Everyone carrying arms... and
sought by justice... is excluded from full
punishment if they hand themselves in
and lay down their weapons,” SANA reported.
Syria’s state broadcaster also announced “the opening of three passages
to allow citizens out of eastern districts”
of Aleppo.
But an AFP correspondent who
went to see one of the corridors said it
remained closed and saw no movement
of residents nearby. Regime planes on
Thursday dropped flyers showing a map
with the location of these humanitarian
passages, he said, as well as small aid
As Russia made the announcement,
France and Britain renewed demands
for an end to the regime’s “disastrous”
siege of eastern Aleppo.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc
Ayrault and his British counterpart
Boris Johnson, in a joint statement, said
the consequences of the siege, “including the bombardment of civilians and
medical facilities, are already disastrous
and could generate further refugees”.
Also on Thursday, Syrian government forces drove rebels from the neighbourhood of Bani Zeid, on Aleppo’s
northern outskirts, after heavy overnight fighting, a monitor said. — AFP
Iraqi women and children who fled the towns of Al Shirqat and Qayyarah during
the reported fighting between Iraqi government forces and IS group are transferred to a camp for displaced people. — AFP
US forces help Iraqis build
bridge on way to Mosul
WASHINGTON: A small group of US
troops helped Iraqi forces build a bridge
across the Tigris River last week that
will support Iraq’s campaign to retake
Mosul from the militant group IS, a US
military spokesman said.
This was the first time American
forces accompanied the Iraqi army
closer to the front lines of battle since
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said
in April that they would be allowed to
do so. Previously, advisers were limited
to larger divisions further back from
Colonel Chris Garver, the US military spokesman in Iraq, said the operation involved fewer than 10 US troops.
The American engineering team was
sent on July 20 to assist a battalion of
Iraqi soldiers install a floating bridge
over the Tigris near Qayyara air base,
recently retaken from IS by Iraqi forces,
Garver said.
The United States has conducted
similar lower-level missions with Iraqi
special operations forces and Kurdish
peshmerga, but this was the first such
mission with the Iraqi army, Garver
“The use of the bridge connecting
the west and east sides of the Tigris...
will greatly improve manouverability
and shorten lines of communication for
the ISF (Iraqi security forces) as they
prepare for the eventual assault to liberate Mosul,” Garver said.
The bridge is the second to be installed by Iraqi security forces in their
battle against IS. The first was in Ramadi
last year.
The United States has escalated its
military role in Iraq and Syria over the
past year to capitalise on gains against
the militant group.
— Reuters
Turkey reshuffles military after half of generals fired
ANKARA: Turkey’s top military commanders met on Thursday to replace
almost half of their generals in a radical
shake-up after the failed coup, as authorities shut down dozens of media outlets
in a widening crackdown.
The hastily-convened meeting came
after the government ordered the discharge of 149 generals — nearly half
of the armed forces’ entire contingent
of 358 — for alleged complicity in the
putsch bid.
Separately, a total of 131 newspapers,
TV channels and other media outlets
were being shut down under the threemonth state of emergency declared in
the wake of the coup.
The July 15 rebellion saw plotters
bomb Ankara from warplanes and
wreak havoc with tanks on the streets
of Istanbul in a bid to unseat President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But it sparked a
backlash affecting all aspects of Turkish
So far almost 16,000 people have
been detained in a crackdown — the
magnitude of which had caused international alarm.
“My concern has to do with the fact
that the actions here are very tough and
the principle of proportionality is not
Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (3rd R) and members of Turkish Supreme Military Council pose for a photo during their visit at Anitkabir, mausoleum of Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk in Ankara, on Thursday. — AFP
always central,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin.
The meeting of the Supreme Military
Council (YAS), lasting more than five
hours, brought together Prime Minister
Binali Yildirim with top military figures
untarnished by the coup.
Yildirim then left for the presidential palace to discuss the outcome with
Erdogan. A statement was expected
later. In a possible move to pre-empt
its decisions, two of Turkey’s top ranking generals — Land Forces Chief of
Staff General Ihsan Uyar and Training
and Doctrine Command head General
Kamil Basoglu — esigned just before the
meeting, the Dogan news agency said.
Lower-ranking officers were expected
to be fast-tracked to fill gaps in top positions.
The purge saw 1,099 officers and 436
junior officers receive a dishonourable
discharge as well as the 149 generals.
In a symbol of the military’s waning power, the meeting was held at the
Cankaya Palace of the Turkish premier
in Ankara and not, as is customary, at
military headquarters.
Palestinian leaders and UN condemned plans for 770 new homes that would expand Gilo settlement
‘New Israeli settlement plans provocative and counterproductive’
WASHINGTON: The United States has
slammed as “provocative” Israeli plans
to build hundreds of new settlement
homes in annexed east Jerusalem, saying
they seriously undermined the prospect
of peace with the Palestinians.
“We are deeply concerned by reports
today that the government of Israel has
published tenders for 323 units in east
Jerusalem settlements,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a
statement on Wednesday.
“This follows Monday’s announcement of plans for 770 units in the settlement of Gilo.” “These steps by Israeli authorities are the latest examples of what
appears to be a steady acceleration of
settlement activity that is systematically
undermining the prospects for a twostate solution,” Kirby said.
“We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and
counterproductive action, which raises
serious questions about Israel’s ultimate
commitment to a peaceful, negotiated
settlement with the Palestinians.”
Palestinian leaders and the United
Nations joined in condemning plans
advanced this week for 770 new homes
that would expand the Gilo settlement
on the southern perimeter of east Jerusalem.
They are part of a larger Israeli plan
for around 1,200 units approved some
three years ago, according to Ir Amim,
an NGO that monitors Israeli settlement
On Wednesday, tenders for 323 settlement homes in four areas of east Jerusalem were published, Ir Amim and
A recent report by the
diplomatic Quartet said
settlement expansion was
eroding the possibility of a
two-state solution
to the conflict.
Israeli NGO Peace Now said.
The tenders in at least three of the
areas had been previously published
but the homes were not built for unclear
reasons. They are now being relaunched,
Peace Now said.
“On the one hand, the government
does not allow for Palestinian construction, and on the other hand it promotes
massive construction for Israelis,” Peace
Now said in a statement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “decided to repudiate the Quartet report and to prove, yet
again, that it has no intention to promote
a peace agreement based on a two-state
A recent report by the diplomatic
Quartet — the United States, European
Union, Russia and the UN — said settlement expansion was eroding the
possibility of a two-state solution to the
Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem
and the occupied West Bank are viewed
as illegal under international law.
Kirby also voiced concern about
increased demolitions of Palestinian
structures in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
“More than 650 Palestinian structures have been demolished this year,
with more Palestinian structures demolished in the West Bank and east Jerusalem thus far than in all of 2015,” he said.
“As the recent Quartet report highlighted, this is part of an ongoing process
of land seizures, settlement expansion,
legalisations of outposts, and denial of
Palestinian development that risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual
occupation and conflict.”
Israel occupied the West Bank and
east Jerusalem in 1967.
It later annexed east Jerusalem, which
Palestinians view as their future capital.
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Media war: Indian prime time needs a ceasefire
wo of the biggest stars of Indian News TV —
Barkha Dutt and Arnab Goswami — are now
fighting in full public glare. The gloves are off.
And how!
That this would happen — sooner or later —
was inevitable. The signs were there for anyone
who cared to see. And not many viewers of prime
time news were oblivious to these almost impossible-to-miss the signals.
These were the not-so-subtle innuendos, the
in-your-face suggestions, mocking not just the
style of journalism and presentation of the other,
but also questioning each other’s motives and ideology.
Prime time news became an obsession with
a section of the English elite. It became a heady
cocktail which combined pain and pleasure, ecstasy and agony in equal measure.
News became secondary. So did the debates.
As star anchors became gladiators, the viewers
began to behave more like spectators in a Roman
arena; baying for blood and constantly looking
for their evening fix of adrenaline rather than
reasoned, well-articulated arguments.
So the writing was on the wall. But that the ic and emotion. But she lost out on public percepcookie would crumble in this manner, with such tion and there’s no fighting that.
And here’s my disclaimer. As somebody who
viciousness, I, at least, did not anticipate.
has been a reporter/ediBut more on that later.
tor for a better part of his
Let’s get the background
career, I will admit that if
out of the way first.
my phone was being thus
It all began with the
tapped one could have also
second term of the United As star anchors became
chanced upon conversations
Progressive Alliance govgladiators, the viewers
with some politician friends
ernment (UPA-II). Times
that could have been misNow was climbing the rat- began to behave more
construed without knowing
ings charts on the back of like spectators in a Roman
proper context. By the
its coverage of the 26/11
arena; baying for blood and the
way, there is a conversation
Mumbai terror attack. And
in those tapes where Niira
then — out of nowhere — constantly looking for their
Radia is criticising me for
came the Radia Tapes. In evening fix of adrenaline
being a “show off and a loud
the controversy that folmouth”.
lowed, Barkha Dutt’s cred- rather than reasoned, wellMeanwhile, Arnab was
ibility took a hit. She has articulated arguments.
emerging as the knight in
never fully recovered from
shining armour in the colthe episode.
Those were difficult times for her. The more lective consciousness of Indian chattering classes.
she tried to defend herself, the more she tied her- Raising issues of corruption in UPA-II, he was
unsparing and clearly partisan. But he was riding
self in knots.
She argued well, with an equal measure of log- on the common man’s disgust with the govern-
ment, was on the right side of public perception
and soon created an almost embarrassing gap
between himself and others in the ratings game.
He did not always follow journalism ethics
and enjoyed tossing out — from the NewsHour
windows — rules of fair play and balance. Others
in the TV news genre either followed him or did
not change. Both sets fell by the wayside as the
Arnab juggernaut rolled on, ruthless, remorseless
and relentless.
Already smarting under the Radia Tapes controversy, Barkha also lost out because she was —
and rightly so — seen as an apologist for status
quo, ie UPA. Not so much because she supported
the Congress and the UPA but because she was
seen as a die-hard Modi critic, an enemy in the
eyes of Modi bhakts. To be fair (or am I being unfair here) Barkha never did hide her opposition
to Modi.
On the other hand and largely thanks to his
anti-establishment image and his relentless campaign against the UPA — which interestingly
continued even after the Congress lost the 2014
elections — Arnab is now perceived as a supporter of the Modi government.
Swiss-EU ties in turmoil
uropean Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has let negotiators pursue a deal on curbing an influx of foreigners to Switzerland, diplomats said, keeping alive Swiss hopes of avoiding a rupture with its
most important trading partner.
The talks are crucial for Switzerland, which has threatened to impose
unilateral curbs on immigration from the EU next year, but will also be
scrutinised for potential hints of what Britain might expect after it voted
last month to quit the bloc.
Some diplomats had believed the Brexit referendum would kill off
the EU-Swiss discussions as negotiations with London would shunt
aside consideration with non-EU member Switzerland.
But after Switzerland made concrete proposals on immigration directly after the British vote, it appears a window for a deal may stretch
to mid-December, likely to be before Britain triggers the start of its exit
talks and in time for the Swiss parliament to act.
The seismic shift in Swiss-EU relations came after its own binding
referendum in 2014 demanding quotas on immigration, including
from the EU which has had access to Switzerland through a series of
bilateral political and economic agreements.
The accords that guarantee free movement and enhanced access to
the common market stand or fall together, so eliminating one means
the other is also curtailed — a point that will be central to Britain’s recalibrating of its ties with the bloc.
While it is still too early to predict how the Swiss talks will pan out,
diplomats say, the fact that they continue at all after the Brexit vote and
ahead of a Swiss-EU presidential meeting in September has encouraged
Swiss officials.
EU officials paint the talks as more a matter of leaving the door to a
deal open a crack.
“He (Juncker) gave a prudent green light to go forward which we are
now working on. The sense in Brussels and certainly in the capitals of
the neighbouring countries is that waiting for clarification on the Brexit
front is not the solution,” one senior Swiss diplomat said.
Working out future EU relations with Britain is likely to take at least
two years.
Switzerland needs a deal this year.
The EU is discouraging Switzerland from pushing through legislation quickly, which could derail the delicate talks.
But the clock is ticking.
Switzerland must amend its constitution by February to reflect the
2014 referendum outcome, which has scared many companies that rely
on foreign expertise.
US President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wave to the crowd at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Who’s behind DNC email breach?
ome US intelligence officials suspect that
Russian hackers who broke into Democratic
Party computers may have deliberately left
digital fingerprints to show Moscow is a “cyberpower” that Washington should respect.
Three officials, all speaking on condition of anonymity, said the breaches of the
Democratic National Committee (DNC)
were less sophisticated than other cyber
intrusions that have been traced to Russian
intelligence agencies or criminals.
For example, said one official, the hackers used some Cyrillic characters, worked
during Russian government business hours
but not on Russian religious or political holidays.
“Either these guys were incredibly sloppy,
in which case it’s not clear that they could
have gotten as far as they did without being
detected, or they wanted us to know they
were Russian,” said the official.
Private sector cyber security experts
agreed that the evidence clearly points to
Russian hackers but dismissed the idea that
they intentionally left evidence of their identities. These experts — who said they have
examined the breach in detail — said the
Cyrillic characters were buried in metadata
and in an error message.
Other giveaways, such as a tainted Internet protocol address, also were difficult to
Russian hacking campaigns have traditionally been harder to track than China’s
but not impossible to decipher, private sector experts said.
But the Russians have become more aggressive and easier to detect in the past two
years, security experts said, especially when
they are trying to move quickly.
False flags have grown more common,
but the government and private experts do
not believe that is involved in the DNC case.
The two groups of hackers involved are
adept at concealing their intrusions, said
Laura Galante, head of global threat intelligence at FireEye, whose Mandiant subsidiary conducted forensic analysis of the attack
and corroborated the findings of another
cyber company, CrowdStrike.
Russian officials have dismissed the allegations of Moscow’s involvement as absurd.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov,
in his only response to reporters, said: “I
don’t want to use four-letter words.”
While private cyber experts and the government were aware of the political party’s
hacking months ago, embarrassing emails
were leaked last weekend by the WikiLeaks
anti-secrecy group just as the Democratic
Party prepared to anoint Hillary Clinton as
its presidential candidate for the November
8 election.
DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman
Schultz, resigned after the leaked emails
showed party leaders favouring Clinton over
her rival in the campaign for the nomination, US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The committee is supposed to be neutral.
The US intelligence officials conceded
The breaches of the Democratic
National Committee were less
sophisticated than other cyber
intrusions that have been
traced to Russian intelligence
agencies or criminals.
that they had based their views on deductive
reasoning and not conclusive evidence, but
suggested Russia’s aim probably was much
broader than simply undermining Clinton’s
They said the hack fit a pattern of Russian President Vladimir Putin pushing back
on what he sees as the United States and its
European allies trying to weaken Russia.
“Call it the cyber equivalent of buzzing
NATO ships and planes using fighters with
Russian flags on their tails,” said one official.
Two sources familiar with Democratic
Party investigations into the hacking said the
private email accounts of Democratic Party
officials were targeted as well as servers.
They said that the FBI had advised the
DNC that it was looking into the hacking of
the individual officials’ private accounts.
They also said the FBI also requested additional information identifying the personal email accounts of certain party officials.
The DNC hired CrowdStrike to investigate the hack.
It spent about six weeks, from late April
to about June 11 or 12, monitoring the systems and watching while the hackers — who
they believed were Russian — operated inside the systems, one of the sources said.
What actions, if any, the Obama administration will take are unclear and could
depend on what diplomatic considerations
may ultimately be involved, a former White
House cyber security official said.
In past cases, administration officials
have decided to publicly blame North Korea
and indict members of China’s military for
hacking because the administration decided
that the net benefit of public shaming —
and increased awareness brought to cyber
security — outweighed potential risks, the
former official said.
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FRIDAY | JULY 29, 2016 | SHAWWAL 24, 1437 AH
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Within five years, one in three US surgeries — more than double current levels — is expected to be performed with robotic systems, with surgeons
sitting at computer consoles guiding mechanical arms. Companies developing new robots also plan to expand their use in India,
China and other emerging markets. Read more about robotic surgery...P10
ealth problems caused by a lack of
daily physical exercise cost the world
some $67.5 billion in 2013 — more
than many countries’ GDP, researchers said
on Thursday. The total was divided between
$53.8 billion in healthcare spending and $13.7
billion in lost productivity, according to a study
published in The Lancet medical journal.
The research relied on economic and
population data from 142 countries,
representing 93 per cent of the world’s
population, its authors said.
But the figure was likely an underestimate
as the data covered only five diseases —
coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes,
breast cancer and colon cancer — at least the
percentage attributable to physical inactivity.
The “cost calculations are based on
conservative estimates, and the true cost may
be even higher,” said a statement.
The paper was the first to estimate the
monetary cost of the global “pandemic” of
inactivity, and was part of a special series timed
for release ahead of the August 5 opening of the
Rio Olympic Games.
Living a sedentary lifestyle is associated
with more than five million deaths in the world
every year, the researchers said.
Of the total estimated cost, $31.2 billion was
tax revenue lost to public healthcare spending,
$12.9 billion in spending by the private sector,
including health insurance companies, and $9.7
billion in direct medical costs for households.
The amounts were listed in “international
dollars” — the equivalent of what an American
dollar could buy in the United States in any
given year.
The burden for rich countries was
proportionally higher in money terms, while
for poor and middle-income countries the cost
was mainly in disease and premature death, the
study found.
“Generally, poorer countries don’t have
their health needs met due to less developed
health and economic systems,” said Melody
Ding from the University of Sydney, who led
the research.
As these countries develop economically,
“so too will the consequent economic burden,
if the pandemic of physical inactivity spreads as
expected,” she said.
A second study in the series said people
who sit for eight hours a day may cancel out the
increased risk of death this carries by doing at
least an hour of exercise per day.
The World Health Organization advises
150 minutes or more of physical activity per
week — much less than the daily 60 minutes
recommended by the study, which analysed
data from over a million people. — AFP
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
@ healthwatch
An hour of exercise a day may
help you live longer
A new crop of robots vie for space in the operating room
The integrated
operating table,
introduced earlier this year,
engineered to move in sync
with the da Vinci robot,
allowing the surgeon to find
the best working angle
without the need to stop and
reposition the robot’s arms is
shown in this image taken in
Sunnyvale, California, US in
2015. — Reuters
doctors see need for
improvement, surgical
robots are poised for big
gains in operating rooms
around the world.
Within five years, one in three
US surgeries — more than double
current levels — is expected to be
performed with robotic systems, with
surgeons sitting at computer consoles
guiding mechanical arms. Companies
developing new robots also plan to
expand their use in India, China and
other emerging markets.
Robotic surgery has been long
dominated by pioneer Intuitive Surgical
Inc, which has more than 3,600 of its da
Vinci machines in hospitals worldwide
and said last week the number of
procedures that used them jumped
by 16 per cent in the second quarter
compared to a year earlier.
The anticipated future growth — and
perceived weaknesses of the current
generation of robots - is attracting deeppocketed rivals, including Medtronic
Inc and a startup backed by Johnson &
Johnson and Google. Developers of the
next wave aim to make the robots less
expensive, more nimble and capable of
performing more types of procedures,
company executives and surgeons said.
Although surgical robots run an
average of $1.5 million and entail
insurers pay no more for surgeries that
utilise the systems than for other types
of minimally-invasive procedures, such
as laparoscopy.
Still, most top US hospitals for
cancer treatment, urology, gynaecology
and gastroenterology have made the
investment. The robots are featured
prominently in hospital marketing
campaigns aimed at attracting patients,
and new doctors are routinely trained in
their use.
Surgical robots are used in hernia
repair, bariatric surgery, hysterectomies
and the vast majority of prostate
removals in the United States, according
to Intuitive Surgical data.
Doctors say they reduce fatigue and
give them greater precision.
But robot-assisted surgery can
take more of the surgeon’s time than
traditional procedures, reducing the
number of operations doctors can
perform. That’s turned off some like Dr
Helmuth Billy.
Billy was an early adopter of
Intuitive’s da Vinci system 15 years ago.
But equipping its arms with instruments
slowed him down. He rarely uses it now.
“I like to do five operations a day,”
Billy said. “If I have to constantly
dock and undock da Vinci, it becomes
To gain an edge, new robots will
need to outperform laparoscopic
surgery, said Dr Dmitry Oleynikov,
who heads a robotics task force for the
Society of American Gastrointestinal
and Endoscopic Surgeons.
Surgeons said they want robots to
provide a way to feel the body’s tissue
remotely, called haptic sensing, and
better camera image quality.
New systems also will need to be
priced low enough to entice hospitals
and outpatient surgical centres that
have not yet invested in a da Vinci, as
well as convince those with established
robotic programmes to consider a
second vendor or switching suppliers
“That is where competitors can
differentiate,” said Vik Srinivasan of
the Advisory Board Co, a research and
consulting firm that advises hospitals.
Developers say they are paying
attention. Verb Surgical, the J&J-Google
venture that is investing about $250
million in its project, said creating a
faster and easier-to-use system is a
Verb also envisions a system that
is “always there, always on,” enabling
the surgeon to use the robot for parts
of a procedure as needed, said Chief
Executive Scott Huennekens.
Intuitive said it too is looking to
improve technology at a reasonable
cost, but newcomers will face the same
“As competitors come in, they are
going to have to work within that same
framework,” CEO Gary Guthart said in
an interview.
Device maker Medtronic has said
it expects to launch its surgical robot
before mid-2018 and will start in India.
Others developing surgical robots
include TransEnterix Inc and Canada’s
Titan Medical Inc.
An RBC Capital Markets survey
found that US surgeons expect about
35 per cent of operations will involve
robots in five years, up from 15 per cent
today. J&J, which hopes to be second to
market with a product from Verb, has
said it sees robotics as a multibilliondollar market opportunity.
Huennekens said Verb’s surgical
robot will differ from another Google
robotics effort, the driverless car, in one
important aspect.
“There will always be a surgeon
there,” he said. — Reuters
ndulging in physical activities such as brisk walking or cycling for
at least an hour each day may eliminate the increased risk of death
associated with sitting for eight hours or more hours a day, suggests
a study. Physical inactivity is linked to an increased risk of heart disease,
diabetes as well as some cancers and is associated with more than 5 million
deaths per year, the researchers said.
For many people there is no way to escape sitting — whether at work,
home or commuting — for prolonged periods of time.
However, “an hour of physical activity per day is the ideal, but if this is
unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce
the risk,” said Ulf Ekelund, Professor at the University of Cambridge.
The findings showed that people who sat for eight hours a day but were
physically active had a much lower risk of death compared to people who
sat for fewer hours a day, but were not physically active.
This suggests that physical activity is particularly important, no matter
how many hours a day are spent sitting.
In fact, the increased risk of death associated with sitting for eight hours
a day was eliminated for people who did a minimum of one hour physical
activity per day. Individuals who were physically inactive were between 28
per cent and 59 per cent more likely to die early — a similar risk to that
associated with smoking and obesity.
“Our message is that it is possible to reduce — or even eliminate —
these risks if we are active enough, even without having to take up sports
or go to the gym,” Ekelund added in the work published in the journal The
Lancet. Further, 60 to 75 minutes of moderate intensity exercise — defined
as equating to walking at 3.5 miles/hour or cycling at 10 miles/hour — per
day were also found to be sufficient to eliminate the increased risk of early
death associated with sitting for over eight hours per day.
However, as many as three out of four people in the study failed to reach
this level of daily activity. For the study, an international team of researchers
analysed 16 studies, which included data from more than one million men
and women. — IANS
Novel eye scan may detect
Alzheimer’s disease early
esearchers have developed new type of non-invasive eye scan that
can identify Alzheimer’s disease long before the onset of symptoms.
The new eye scan uses polarised light to highlight deposits called
amyloid proteins found at the back of patients’ retinas decades before
they experience cognitive decline. “Polarisation imaging is promising
for noninvasive imaging of retinal amyloid deposits as a biomarker of
Alzheimer’s,” said Melanie Campbell, professor at University of Waterloo
in Ontario, Canada.
The new method would give a less expensive, more available alternative
to expensive positron emission tomography (PET), the researchers said.
“The ability to detect amyloid deposits in the retina prior to disease
symptoms may be an essential tool for the development of preventative
strategies for Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” Campbell added.
The study, conducted in both human and an animal model, showed that
polarised light scans are as sensitive as other more established methods
and can be done cost-effectively without using irritating dyes, making it
potentially useful as an in-office screening tool.
Amyloid proteins are made up of protein fibres with different refractive
indices along and across the fibres. Amyloid beta protein deposits in the
brain have been proven to be present in patients decades before they
experience symptoms of the disease. Although the reasons this protein
appears are still being debated, the fact that it also deposits in the retina,
an extension of the brain, means these deposits can be used as a biomarker
for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease long before symptoms appear, the
researchers explained. “Early diagnosis is important, especially since
treatment options are more limited later in the disease,” Campbell noted.
In order to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia,
doctors currently rely on either a combination of late-stage symptoms and
expensive PET brain scans or tests on the brain after death.
“Widely available, inexpensive, early detection of amyloid would
help researchers develop more effective treatments before the onset of
symptoms,” Campbell suggested. The results were presented at the 2016
Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Toronto,
recently. — IANS
New drug may treat diabetes, bone loss
Researchers have developed a new class of compound that has shown
promise in treating both diabetes and bone disease. In addition to its
more obvious ills, Type-2 diabetes is a condition closely associated with
bone fractures, increasing the risk of fractures twofold.
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
@ leisure/gaming
Mario eyeing a Mickey Mouse makeover
A figure depicting ‘Mario’, a character in Nintendo’s ‘Mario Bros’ video games, is displayed at the
company showroom in Tokyo, Japan. — Reuters
lush with the stunning
popularity of the Pokemon GO
mobile game, Nintendo aims
to make more from marketing
popular characters such as Super
Mario, taking a leaf from the
Walt Disney playbook where Mickey Mouse
and friends bring in billions of merchandising
dollars each year.
But, where Disney’s animated characters
often earn more than the films they star in,
Super Mario, Pokemon and other Nintendo
franchises have languished amid the Japanese
firm’s reluctance to push them beyond its
struggling game console platform.
The success of Pokemon GO — created by
Nintendo, Pokemon Company and Niantic, a
Google spinoff — may signal that Nintendo’s
move to let its characters roam beyond that
console universe could help revitalise a
company that had grown from a card game
maker in nineteenth century Kyoto to the
world’s top computer game and console maker.
“We are now expanding how we leverage
Nintendo IP in various ways beyond our
traditional use of them predominantly within
the dedicated video game platform business,”
Tatsumi Kimishima, the company’s president,
wrote in a message to investors.
It could be sitting on a goldmine.
“We believe the value of Nintendo
intellectual property is enormous and will
eventually be unlocked over a 3-5 year period,”
Jefferies analyst Atul Goyal wrote in a Monday
research note.
A spokesman for Japanese toymaker Takara
Tomy said: “We are seeing a resurgence of
interest in Pokemon toys after the launch of
Pokemon GO.”
Nintendo, which on Wednesday partly
blamed a strengthening yen for its AprilJune operating loss, is said to be doing more
to expand the reach of its popular franchise
characters, which also include The Legend of
“Nintendo used to have only few people
in its licensing business and deal only with a
limited number of merchandising companies,”
said a toy company official, who asked not to
be named as he is not authorised to talk to
the media. “That’s gradually changing as the
company has made it clear it will boost its IP
Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the
puppet-inspired Super Mario, has indicated
Nintendo has more appetite now to allow its
franchise characters to spread beyond console
gaming, and into revenue generating licensing
“These projects will take time to bear
fruit, but they are something to look forward
to,” Miyamoto told Nintendo’s shareholder
meeting late last month, adding Nintendo
had started licensing characters for attractions
at Universal Studios theme parks and was
working to expand Nintendo products.
Since its Wii game console boom faded four
years ago and its successor, the Wii U, flopped,
Nintendo has been buffeted by losses that have
more than halved its cash pile to around $5
Nintendo sold almost 100 million of its Wii
consoles between its late-2006 launch and end2011, the year before the Wii U was released.
Subsequent sales of the Wii U have added only
13 million units. As casual gaming has shifted
from the living room to the smartphone, sales
of its handheld 3DS video game system are just
a third of the older DS model.
Wary of losing focus on its ailing console
business, Nintendo has largely steered clear
from producing games for other platforms or
agreeing lucrative licensing agreements. In the
year to end-March, the company’s licensing
revenue was just 5.7 billion yen ($54.2 million)
— around 1 per cent of overall sales, and a tiny
fraction of what Disney earns from the likes
of Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh
and, more recently, Star Wars.
Disney’s revenue from consumer products
— from Mickey Mouse tea pots and tie clips to
books, magazines and even English language
schools in China — totalled $4.5 billion in its
last full business year — around 9 per cent of
its total sales.
It was Disney’s fastest growing business
segment in the year to October 3, 2015, with
operating profit up 29 per cent from a year
earlier. While the Toy Story 3 movie, released
in 2010, earned Disney $1.7 billion at cinemas
and from TV broadcasts, the franchise’s
licensed toys, books and a smartphone app
have brought in $7.3 billion.
That’s a merchandising masterclass that
some investors reckon Nintendo will struggle
to match.
“Monetising IP is a whole different thing
from selling games,” said a fund manager at a
Japanese asset management firm which owns
Nintendo shares.
“They say they’re going to sell a wrist watch,
but it’s adults who are playing Pokemon GO ...
and are they going to wear a Pokemon GO Plus
watch?” — Reuters
Harry Potter, James Bond studios to be sold for £323m
Gradual decline in enthusiasm
for Facebook, Twitter: Study
ritain’s Pinewood Studios, where Harry
Potter and James Bond movies were filmed,
could be sold to a property company for £323
million ($426 million) under a draft deal revealed on
Thursday. Pinewood “announces that it has reached
agreement... on key terms of a possible cash offer
for Pinewood by Venus Grafton,” a subsidiary of
PW Real Estate Fund, Pinewood Group said in a
Pinewood owns television and film studios
around the world including in the US and Canada,
but the jewel in its crown is the original Pinewood
Built west of London in the 1930s, they became
famous as the setting for British cinema classics.
More recently, parts of the latest “Star Wars: The
Force Awakens” were filmed there.
Hollywood star Harrison Ford could have been
killed when a door from the Millenium Falcon
spaceship set fell on him during filming in 2014, a
court heard earlier this week in a health and safety
The actor suffered a broken leg in the incident.
The 007 Stage at Pinewood was built for the Bond
film “The Spy Who Loved Me” and has since been
used for numerous productions including “Lara
Croft Tomb Raider” and “The Da Vinci Code”.
Pinewood had appointed Rothschild investment
bank in February to prepare a possible sale of the
The shareholder register is “tightly held, which
has continued to stifle liquidity in the shares and has
prevented the company from achieving its aim of
obtaining a main market listing”, Pinewood Group
Pinewood shareholders would receive 560 pence
in cash for each share plus a final dividend of 3.2
pence per share, according to the terms of the draft
deal. Pinewood Group said it would recommend a
firm offer to shareholders. The company’s share price
was down 5.17 per cent at 550 pence by 10:20 GMT
after the announcement. — AFP
ore and more people are
gradually viewing social
Facebook and Twitter and enterprise
social media LinkedIn negatively than
in the past, an interesting study has
The team from American Consumer
Satisfaction Index (ASCI) which tracks
opinions of search engines, news
outlets, social media sites and other
‘e-businesses’ found that consumers
view Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
more negatively than in years past, reported.
Facebook and Twitter saw the largest
declines — at nine per cent and eight
per cent, respectively.
An increase in restless user base on
some of the largest social media sites is
forcing advertisers and the businesses
who run them to put their money
The declines are driven in part by the
presence of advertising on services that
are still regarded as “free”, the report
“Consumers have not fully accepted
advertising as a necessary cost for online
services they have come to expect as
free,” Claes Fornell, ASCI chairman,
was quoted as saying.
“There is little companies can do to
change that perception beyond making
sure that those advertisements are
relevant and non-disruptive,” he added.
Facebook was mired in controversy
over “curated” news where it was
accused of political bias in its “trending
news” section after news broke that
stories from politically conservative
sources were sidelined. However, the
company denied such a bias.
Earlier this year, reports said
that Twitter irked many users
when it tweaked its newsfeed from
a chronological system to a new
algorithm based system. It has also
failed to keep pace with ever-evolving
social apps including Snapchat, Imgur
and Instagram.
“It’s impossible for global brands with
massive user bases to like Facebook and
Twitter to keep everyone happy,” ACSI
managing director David VanAmburg
added. — IANS
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Pierce Brosnan to star in soccer thriller
Actor Pierce Brosnan is set to star in filmmaker Scott Mann’s soccer thriller “Final
Score” opposite Dave Bautista, Alexandra Dinu and Julian Cheung. Signature
Entertainment’s Marc Goldberg is producing the film alongside The Fyzz Facility’s
Robert Jones, James Harris, Mark Lane, and Wayne Marc Godfrey, reports variety.
n her eight-year-long journey in the
Hindi film industry so far, Anushka
Sharma has tasted success with
commercial hits like “Rab Ne Bana Di
Jodi”, “PK” and the latest, “Sultan” —
and also faced failure with “Bombay
Velvet” and “Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola”. But
the actress-producer says neither success nor
failure affects her dedication.
“ ‘Bombay Velvet’ was a big disaster I have
faced. But the kind of person I am, I don’t take
success to my head or failure to my heart. I feel
that is important because I feel in an industry
which is so fickle, you realise that soon,”
Anushka said over the phone from Mumbai.
She is all of 28, but she believes she is a very
“aware kind of person” and “practical about
“When you realise that something in this
industry is such a fickle thing — you don’t hold
too strongly to anything. So I feel because of
that, I have managed to stay above the surface.
“It is important to have that sense of reality
(that) you will have successes and you will have
failures and you will have to lie somewhere in
between,” she added.
Anushka is currently riding high on the
success of her latest release “Sultan”, which
saw her share screen space with superstar
Salman Khan. Salman is the third big Khan of
Bollywood that Anushka has worked with.
She had made her debut with the Shah
Rukh Khan starrer “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” and
later starred with Aamir Khan in “PK”.
How has it been to work with the three
superstars — a feat that not many actresses
“I have never really thought about all these
things happening to me. I never thought about
‘I’ll get to work with all the three Khans’. It
really wasn’t something that ever occurred to
me in my mind. But I feel humbled and happy...
The contributions that I have had in the films
is what makes it special for me,” Anushka said.
She also feels “fortunate” because they
are huge superstars of the country and have
phenomenal reach, which helps her work to
get through to other people.
“Their reach is phenomenal and because of
their reach and their fan following, my work
gets through to so many other people... So I
feel happy, humbled and loved by the people
for the appreciation I am getting for Aarfa’s
character (in ‘Sultan’),” she said.
Anushka has also worked with some
formidable directors during her career. From
being a part of late legend Yash Chopra’s last
film “Jab Tak Hain Jaan” to working with Karan
Johar, who has directed her in her forthcoming
“Ae Dil Hain Mushkil”, she has also worked
under the direction of names like Rajkumar
Hirani, Zoya Akhtar and Ali Abbas Zafar.
She says her journey has always been
about her own choices — “whether it means
producing a film at the age of 25 or it means
not doing that many films”.
Blake Lively thinks ‘Gossip
Girl’ reunion would be fun
“Somewhere in my life, I have
always been a bit of risk-taker in
that I have never listened to things
people have told me or things that
have preceded in terms of what other
people have done, what are other actresses
doing or what is the right way of following
the career.
“I have not paid much attention to those
things,” added the actress, who turned
producer with the gritty drama “NH10”.
Whatever she does, she follows her gut.
“I feel sometimes when you follow your
gut and instinct and you don’t feel afraid, I
think God blesses you... It is said that luck
follows those who follow their instincts
and I have just followed my instincts.”
Coming from an army
backing. She wasn’t even
dreaming about being an
actress when she landed a role
in a Shah Rukh Khan starrer,
produced by Yash Raj Films.
She also credits filmmaker
Aditya Chopra for making her
one of the top actresses today.
Being an outsider turned
out to be an advantage for
Anushka, who feels she didn’t
come with any “pre-conceived
notions about the way you have
to do things”. — IANS
Actor Jackie Chan with Nana Ou-Yang (L) and Erica Xia-Hou in Sydney at the announcement of the beginning of production for the science fiction action
film ‘Bleeding Steel’, which has been billed by producers as the biggest budget Chinese film ever shot in Australia on Thursday. — Reuters
ctress Blake Lively thinks it would be fun to bring back the hit
American TV show “Gossip Girl”. The 28-year-old became popular
after playing Serena van der Woodsen in the drama series, which
ended in 2012, and she believes her former cast-mates would enjoy a
reunion series, reports
“I don’t know, it would be fun. We had such a great time doing that that I
think we all would really enjoy that,” she said.
Lively, who is expecting her second child, a sibling for 19-month-old
daughter James, with husband Ryan Reynolds, said she misses the show.
“I miss it sometimes, too,” she said.
Meanwhile, “Gossip Girl” executive producer Josh Schwarz said he hasn’t
even considered the possibility of bringing back the show, which ran for 12
“We haven’t really explored some of those conversations. Maybe, I don’t
know. We haven’t really thought about it,” he said. — IANS
Previously-unheard music by the late English
guitarist and singer-songwriter George Harrison is
set to be released.
The Beatles legend left behind a lot of unfinished
material before his death aged 58 in 2001. His
widow Olivia and their 37-year-old musician son
Dhani are keen to get the tracks completed and
released for his fans to hear, reports
“There are a lot of songs that are unfinished. I
think there’s a project there. I just need time to get
to it,” Olivia said.
It won’t be the first time Dhani has assisted with
his father’s music. As an accomplished musician
himself, he helped to record George’s final album
“Brainwashed”, which was released posthumously
in 2002. — IANS
FRIDAY | JULY 29, 2016 | SHAWWAL 24, 1437 AH
Oman Crude ---------------$ 40.90
Brent Crude -----------------$ 42.88
Light Crude -----------------$ 41.66
Shell 2nd quarter
net profit tumbles
LONDON: Royal Dutch Shell’s net profit
collapsed in the second quarter on low
oil prices, weak refining margins and
production outages, the British energy
giant said on Thursday.
Net profits sank 71 per cent to $1.175
billion in the three months to June,
compared with $3.986 billion in the
same part of 2015, Shell announced in a
results statement.
Profit on a current cost-of-supplies
(CCS) basis — which strips out changes
to the value of its oil and gas inventories
— slid 72 per cent to $1.045 billion in the
reporting period. That was almost half
of market expectations for CCS profit of
$2.16 billion, according to Bloomberg
News. — AFP
Adidas lifts profit
forecast for 3rd time
Oman 24 Kt per gram --------------------------RO 17.05
Oman 22 Kt per gram --------------------------RO 16.35
UAE 24 Kt per gram -------------------------AED 162.00
UAE 22 Kt per gram -------------------------AED 152.25
Pressure for BoJ
easing intensifies
TOKYO: Political pressure on the
Bank of Japan to expand stimulus
on Friday is intensifying with the
economy minister calling on the
bank to work with the government to
boost economic growth.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a
“powerful message” by announcing a
28 trillion yen ($267 billion) stimulus
package on Wednesday, Economy
Minister Nobuteru Ishihara was
quoted as saying by Japanese media
hours after the announcement.
The figure was larger than
markets had expected.
“I think people at the BOJ will
take that into account and make
an appropriate decision. I think
(BoJ Governor Haruhiko) Kuroda
understands that the world is
watching,” he said in a television
appearance on Wednesday evening,
the Kyodo news agency reported.
The remarks suggest the earlierthan-expected announcement of
Abe’s economic package was an
attempt by the government to
pressure the BoJ into expanding
stimulus at a two-day rate review
ending on Friday.
“Abe’s announcement is a squeeze
play on the BoJ. The BoJ has to move
now. It is unavoidable,” said Hiroaki
Muto, an economist at Tokai Tokyo
Research Center. — Reuters
US Dollar------------------------------------------------ 2.60
Euro --------------------------------------------------------2.34
British Pounds ----------------------------------------1.97
Indian Rupee ------------------------------------- 174.47
Pakistan Rupee ---------------------------------- 272.66
Philippine Peso --------------------------------- 122.51
Muscat ------------------------------------------------- 5,854.39
Abu Dhabi-------------------------------------------- 4,593.58
Dubai --------------------------------------------------- 3,519.29
Qatar -------------------------------------------------- 10,604.77
Kuwait ------------------------------------------------- 5,461.90
Bahrain ------------------------------------------------ 1,157.69
Saudi --------------------------------------------------- 6,337.14
Brexit shockwaves hit British consumers
BREXIT IMPACT: Companies are preparing for a Brexit-related slowdown, new car registrations likely to decline
LONDON: Shockwaves from Britain’s
vote to leave the European Union are
reverberating through the economy,
with surveys published on Thursday
showing a dive in consumer confidence
and a slowdown in construction.
Preparing for a Brexit-related
slowdown, Lloyds Banking Group
said it would cut 3,000 jobs and one
of Britain’s biggest car dealerships,
Inchcape, predicted growth in new car
registrations would slow.
Just over a month after the
referendum, the latest signals of an
economic slowdown are likely to fuel
expectations of action from the Bank
of England on August 4, when many
economists believe it will cut interest
rates and might start buying bonds
An index of consumer confidence
plunged nearly five points to 106.6 in
July — matching its biggest fall in six
years and hitting its lowest level since
2013, polling firm YouGov and the
Centre for Economics and Business
Research (CEBR) said. “The public are
still absorbing the EU referendum result
but it is clear that consumer confidence
has taken a significant and clear dive,”
Stephen Harmston, Head of YouGov
Pedestrians and shoppers cross Regent Street, one of London’s premier shopping streets. UK consumer confidence fell steeply
in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union. — Bloomberg
Reports, said.
People are particularly worried
about what will happen to the value of
their homes, the survey found.
House price growth edged up in July
but the data might not yet reflect any
impact from the referendum because of
Fed leaves rates unchanged but
says US economy improving
FRANKFURT: German sporting goods
brand Adidas lifted its profit forecast for
the third time in six months on Thursday
after better-than-expected preliminary
results in the second quarter.
The firm said it had earned a net
profit of 291 million euros ($322.7
million) in the three months to June —
99 per cent more than the same period
in 2015.
Increased profits came on the back
of a 13 per cent leap in sales to 4.4 billion
euros in the second quarter.
“Management now projects
currency-neutral sales to grow at a rate
in the high teens” over the whole year,
rather than the 15 per cent previously
expected, the Bavaria-based company
said in a statement. — AFP
[email protected]
WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve
left key interest rates untouched but
acknowledged improved economic
performance, suggesting a rate increase
may still be on the horizon in 2016.
Policy makers had not been
expected to raise rates, out of concern
that a hike could stifle fragile growth.
Their improving view on economic
conditions left open the possibility of
an increase in the benchmark federal
funds rate, currently at 0.25-0.50 per
cent, by December.
Putting behind the surprise sharp
downturn in job creation in May that
had raised worries about the economy,
the Federal Open Market Committee,
which sets the monetary policy, said
employment and economic growth had
grown moderately since their mid-June
They also appeared to see less threat
to US growth from Britain’s vote to leave
the European Union, which took place
a week after the last FOMC meeting.
“Near-term risks to the economic
outlook have diminished,” the FOMC
said in announcing the outcome of the
closely watched two-day meeting in
Washington. — AFP
COSH: In construction, growth in
activity slowed after the vote, the Royal
Institution of Chartered Surveyors said.
Contributors to a RICS survey
predicted a 1 per cent rise in workloads
over the next 12 months, down from
a lag, mortgage lender Nationwide said.
Economists say spending by
consumers offers the best hope that
Britain can avoid a Brexit-related
recession. But retailers said sales fell
sharply after the referendum, according
to a survey published on Wednesday.
growth of 2.8 per cent that they had
foreseen in the first quarter.
Britain’s property market has
been one of the worst hit sectors since
the referendum with house-builders
seeing their market values plunge
while investors pulled out cash from
commercial funds, forcing many to be
Construction firms cut back their
forecasts for hiring, mirroring moves by
British retailers who reported the fastest
fall in full-time equivalent employment
in two years in the second quarter, as the
referendum approached.
But a survey by the British Retail
Consortium showed 93 per cent of
retailers intended to keep staffing levels
unchanged in the next three months
compared with 83 per cent in the second
quarter of last year.
A third survey published on
Thursday showed pay awards in Britain
stuck in a slow gear.
Median pay settlements in the three
months to the end of June were worth
1.8 per cent for a third month in a row
after a two-year run during which
increases of 2 per cent had become the
norm, according to XpertHR, an online
human resources firm. — Reuters
China legalises ridesharing services
BEIJING: China on Thursday
announced new rules governing
ridesharing services, making clear for
the first time that they are now legal
in a giant market where US-based
Uber is at loggerheads with local rival
Didi Chuxing.
China has become the world’s
largest online car-hailing market,
vice transport minister Liu Xiaoming
told a briefing.
“The legitimacy of Internet ridebooking services are clarified” in new
regulations on taxi industry reforms
and regulations on car-hailing apps,
Liu said.
Didi Chuxing said it was “the first
time” any government had legalised
online car-booking services at the
national level, hailing the move as a
Beijing’s stance on the sector had
been ambivalent because while the
apps have won public support, they
threaten old-style taxis, — which
often generates income for local
authorities — and have been met
with protests by cab drivers.
The services have been banned in
some cities.
Liu said the new rules will
support the development of online
car-booking platforms, adding
that private cars were encouraged
to provide ridesharing services to
“promote the sharing economy” and
“ease traffic jams in cities and reduce
air pollution”.
Under the rules, the provinces
where ridesharing apps are registered
can issue them with a licence valid
Unlike traditional taxis,
ridesharing cars are not subject to
an eight-year service limit but can
operate until they have accumulated
600,000 kilometres (372,822 miles)
apparently addressing concerns of
part-time drivers. — AFP
Core capital goods orders rise 0.2pc * Core capital goods shipments fall 0.4pc * Durable goods orders tumble 4pc
US durable goods orders data points to weak spending
WASHINGTON: New orders for
US manufactured capital goods rose
less than expected in June amid weak
demand for machinery, suggesting
an ongoing downturn in business
Business investment remains soft
despite data ranging from retail sales to
housing suggesting that US economic
growth has regained speed after growth
almost stalled early in the year.
The Commerce Department said on
Wednesday non-defence capital goods
orders excluding aircraft, a closely
watched proxy for business spending
plans, increased 0.2 per cent last month
after decreasing 0.5 per cent in May.
“Up is nice, but there doesn’t
seem to be a major drive on the part
of the companies to invest heavily,”
said Joel Naroff, chief economist at
Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland,
Weak business spending was
acknowledged by the Federal Reserve
on Wednesday, as the US central
bank kept interest rates unchanged
because concerns over inflation, even
though it described the near-term risks
to the economic outlook as having
Economists polled by Reuters had
forecast the so-called core capital goods
orders rising 0.3 per cent last month.
Prices for US government bonds
rose on the data and the Fed’s interest
rate decision, while the US dollar
was little changed against a basket of
currencies. US stocks were trading
marginally lower later afternoon.
Overall orders for durable goods,
items ranging from toasters to aircraft
that are meant to last three years or
more, tumbled 4.0 per cent last month,
the biggest drop since August 2014,
after declining 2.8 per cent in May.
Business spending has weakened
since late 2015, in part as lower oil
prices squeezed profits in the energy
sector, forcing companies to cut capital
spending budgets.
Uncertainty over global demand
and the upcoming US presidential
election are also making companies
cautious about spending, economists
Prospects for a pick-up in business
spending are less encouraging against
the backdrop of lackluster corporate
“The bad news is not over.
Everything conspiring against the
durables sector in 2015 will remain
working against it for at least the balance
of 2016,” said Michael Montgomery, a
US economist at IHS Global Insight in
Lexington, Massachusetts.
“The hope for 2017 is that the
adjustment processes start to wind
down and produce less drag and token
recovery, but that feels like a vampire
drinking your blood slower.”
Shipments of core capital goods,
which are used to calculate equipment
spending in the government’s gross
domestic product measurement, fell
0.4 per cent last month after sliding 0.5
per cent in May, suggesting business
spending probably fell again in the
second quarter.
Should spending on equipment
drop in the second quarter US GDP
data due on Friday, that would be the
first time since the 2007-2009 recession
that outlays would have contracted for
three straight quarters.
According to a Reuters survey of
economists, the government will likely
report on Friday that GDP increased at
a 2.6 per cent annual rate in the second
quarter after rising at a 1.1 per cent
pace in the January-March period.
— Reuters
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Nomura first quarter profit skids 32 pc
Nomura Holdings Inc, Japan’s largest brokerage, said its first-quarter profit fell nearly a third
as investors held onto savings rather than bet on assets like stocks and bonds, hit by uncertain
global markets and negative interest rates. Nomura said on Thursday its April-June net profit
dropped to 46.8 billion yen ($447 million) from 68.7 billion yen in the same period a year earlier.
Lloyds to slash 3,000 jobs, close more branches
LONDON: Lloyds Banking Group said
on Thursday it would step up its cost
cutting plans to help to offset a more
testing economic environment caused
by Britain’s vote to quit the European
Britain’s largest retail bank aims
to save 400 million pounds ($528.56
million) by end-2017 by axing a further
3,000 jobs and closing an additional
200 branches to protect its earnings and
dividends against the effects of lowerfor-longer interest rates.
Lloyds, rescued in a 20.5 billion
pound taxpayer bail-out during the
financial crisis, is the first major
British bank to report results since the
referendum and is the most exposed to
any downturn in the British economy.
Chief Executive Officer Antonio
Horta-Osório is searching for ways to
prop up Lloyds’ dividend, one of its key
attractions, and sustain profit growth in
its main UK consumer and commercial
lending market, still reeling from the
Brexit result on June 24.
“While the business will remain
highly capital generative, it is possible
that this capital generation may be
somewhat lower in future years than
previously guided,” the bank said in a
So far this year, Lloyds has already
said it would cut about 4,000 positions
from its 75,000-strong workforce and
has closed nearly 100 branches this
year. The bank also said it would look
to streamline its non-branch property
portfolio by around 30 per cent by the
end of 2018.
“Lloyds remains a no growth bank,”
Ian Gordon, an analyst at Investec, said.
“Its revenue outlook is flattish, hence its
costs need to fall faster.”
Smartphone sales drive
Samsung Q2 profit
SEOUL: Solid sales of its flagship
smartphone and an aggressive costcutting drive saw Samsung Electronics
on Thursday post a better-thanexpected gain in net profit for the
second quarter.
The giant South Korean
conglomerate said its key mobile
division enjoyed “substantial earnings
improvement” in the April-June period
led by expanded sales of its high-end
Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones.
Industry trackers estimate that
the world’s largest smartphone maker
has sold about 26 million units of
the S7 since it hit stores in March
ahead of launches by competitors,
including arch-rival Apple. The mobile
division accounts for the lion’s share
of Samsung’s business, but it has been
increasingly squeezed by competition
both from Apple’s iPhone and by lowerend devices from Chinese rivals such as
Huawei. Samsung’s overall net profit
for the second quarter stood at 5.85
trillion won ($5.2 billion), up 1.7 per
cent from the previous year and slightly
above analyst estimates.
Operating profit was up nearly 18
per cent at 8.1 trillion won, Samsung
said in an earnings statement, reflecting
a sizeable cut in mobile marketing costs
— partly due to the underwhelming
performance of the iPhone.
The Samsung earnings came two
days after Apple announced a 27 per
cent second quarter profit slump on a
sharp drop in sales of its iconic handset.
Television and component sales
were also strong in the April-June
period, Samsung said, with increased
profits among premium product ranges.
“Looking ahead to the second half
of 2016, the company expects its solid
performance to continue... mainly
driven by earnings increase in the
component business due to sales growth
in high value-added products,” the
statement said. It also flagged a likely
rise in mobile division marketing costs
with the launch of its latest outsized
Galaxy Note smartphone next week.
The Note series has never had as
much of a sales impact as the S-series
smartphone, and there will be increased
competition with a new iPhone set for
release later in the year. — AFP
Facebook trounces
Wall St estimates
NEW YORK: Facebook Inc provided
more evidence that it can turn eyeballs
into profit as the maker of the world’s
most popular app and social website
trounced Wall Street’s estimates,
sending its shares to an all-time high.
The leading social media
company’s mobile app and push into
video attracted new advertisers and
encouraged existing ones to spend
more. It now has more than 1.7 billion
monthly users, well ahead of any rivals.
Its shares were up 5.4 per cent in
after-hours trading at $130.01, after
hitting their highest since the company
went public in 2012.
“Facebook has shown that you can
be a giant and you can be innovative,”
said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor
Insights & Strategy. “What is working
very well is their very quick shift from
desktop to mobility. This was their
biggest issue when they went public.”
Facebook is adapting better to the
shift towards mobile and video than
social media rival Twitter Inc, which
reported its slowest quarterly revenue
growth in three years on Wednesday.
Mobile advertising revenue
accounted for 84 per cent of the
company’s total advertising revenue,
compared with 76 per cent a year earlier.
Total advertising revenue surged
63 per cent to $6.24 billion, beating
the average analyst estimate of $5.80
billion, according to market research
firm FactSet StreetAccount.
The company also saw strong
growth in monthly active users, now
boasting 1.71 billion as of June 30, up
from 1.49 billion a year earlier. Time
spent on its suite of apps, including
the main Facebook app, Instagram
and Messenger, increased “double
digit percentages,” Chief Executive
Mark Zuckerberg said. David Wehner,
Facebook’s chief financial officer,
pointed to Asia-Pacific, especially India,
as one of the most promising areas for
continued user growth. The region “has
been a consistently good performer for
us over the last several quarters and we
will continue to invest our global sales
resources to drive opportunities there,”
Wehner said in an interview.
— Reuters
Lloyds’ shares were down 2.5 per
cent at 54.36 pence by 07:49 GMT
partly in response to its cautious tone on
future capital generation and its possible
impact on dividends.
Britain’s vote to leave the EU came
at the end of the bank’s fiscal first half,
so the likely impact on lending volumes
will not become clear until the third
quarter and beyond.
Horta-Osorio said the bank’s
strategy to grow revenues in a low rate
environment would involve expanding
in car finance, credit cards and insurance.
Finance Director George Culmer
declined to comment on speculation
that Lloyds would make a bid for MBNA,
Bank of America’s credit card business.
Lloyds reported a forecast-beating
first-half statutory pretax profit of 2.45
billion pounds ($3.3 billion) in the six
months to June 30, more than double
the sum achieved in the same period last
year. Income for the first half of the year
came in at 8.9 billion pounds, just below
the 2015 figure.
The bank said its net interest margin
— a key performance measure — had
widened to 2.74 per cent over the period.
It affirmed previous guidance of about
2.7 per cent for the full financial year.
But a rise in troubled loans by almost
a third to 254 million pounds took the
shine off the profit beat and robust net
interest margin performance and offered
* 200 branches to close amid
tough economic outlook
* First-half pretax profit
£2.45 bn
a glimpse of tougher times that might lie
Lloyds said it would pay an interim
dividend of 0.85 pence, up 13 per cent
on last year.
The government has put on hold
plans to sell its remaining stake in
Lloyds in the aftermath of the EU vote,
according to people familiar with the
process. Lloyds’ shares have lost about a
quarter of their value since the vote.
Asia stock markets head for October high after Fed
Avnet offers to buy UK’s Premier Farnell
US electric component distributor Avnet Inc agreed to buy Britain’s Premier Farnell Plc for £691 million
($910.7 million) in cash, becoming the second suitor for the mini-computer maker. The 185-pence pershare offer represents a premium of 12.5 per cent to the Raspberry Pi maker’s closing price on Wednesday.
Switzerland’s Daetwyler Holding had offered to buy Farnell for about £792 in cash on June 14.
A woman uses a mobile phone in front of an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo.
TOKYO: Asian stocks rose toward
a nine-month high after the Federal
Reserve left interest rates unchanged
and signalled a gradual approach to
tightening. The stronger yen drove
Tokyo shares lower as investors awaited
the Bank of Japan’s policy decision on
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added
0.2 per cent to 135.02 as of 4:10 pm in
Hong Kong, its fourth day of increases.
The gauge had fluctuated between gains
and losses at least four times. Japan’s
Topix index declined 1.1 per cent,
erasing on Wednesday’s advance. The
BoJ is widely expected to add to stimulus
at the end of a two-day meeting. Global
equities have been volatile before this
week’s central bank policy meetings.
“The Fed’s decisions were expected,”
Mitsushige Akino, a Tokyo-based
executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset
Management Co. “There’ll be a tug of
war between selling on expectations the
BoJ will disappoint, and short-covering
for individual shares that will push the
market up.”
The Fed said risks to the US economy
have subsided as the central bank takes
stock in the wake of the UK’s vote to
leave the European Union. Chair Janet
Yellen has repeatedly stated that the
Fed is likely to raise borrowing costs
gradually. In Japan, traders are looking to
the monetary policy review, after Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe announced a fiscalstimulus package exceeding 28 trillion
yen ($265 billion) in a bid to jump-start
Asia’s second-largest economy.
“We’ve got the fiscal spending
package out of the way and that seems
to be in line with the sort of upper
end of expectations, but we don’t see
it being a huge catalyst for markets to
move materially higher on the back of
that,” said Chris Weston, chief market
strategist at IG Ltd in Melbourne. “I
think the move down in dollar yen is
VW says net profit falls 57pc in Q2
FRANKFURT: Scandal-struck car
manufacturer Volkswagen said on
Thursday that its profits fell in the
second quarter by 57 per cent to 1.15
billion euros ($1.3 billion).
Second-quarter profits were weighed
down by almost 2.5 billion euros of
special items, mostly related to 2015’s
diesel emissions cheating scandal.
“Further enormous feats of strength
will be needed to contain the high costs
of the diesel question,” finance director
Frank Witter said in a statement.
The group obtained provisional
approval in July for a $14.7 billion
settlement to US buyers of some Audi
and Volkswagen diesel vehicles, putting
one important element of the fallout
behind it.
But risks remain from other legal
cases dragging on in the US and
Germany, where prosecutors have
broadened their investigation into the
diesel emissions cheating.
VW shares fell by just over two per
cent in early trading on the Frankfurt
stock exchange in response to the result.
The full second-quarter figures come
one week after a provisional release of
better-than expected results for the first
six months of 2016.
Thursday’s figures were boosted by
higher unit sales of luxury models from
Audi and Porsche and mid-range Skoda
over the first half of the year.
But the group’s core Volkswagenbranded vehicles saw a decline of almost
one per cent in sales in the six months
from January to June compared with the
same period in 2015.
Across the whole group, unit
sales took a seven-per cent blow in
the United States over the first half of
the year but rose by almost the same
amount in China, while western Europe
saw a more modest increment of 2.5 per
cent. — AFP
Spanish jobless rate close to
six-year low as tourism booms
MADRID: Spain’s unemployment rate
fell to its lowest in nearly six years in
the second quarter, fuelled by a tourism
boom and underpinned by three years
of solid economic growth.
But much of the jobs recovery has
been built on short-term contracts,
emphasising the need for labour
reforms that have been delayed by a
seven-month political stalemate.
The jobless rate fell to 20 per cent
of the workforce in the April to June
period, the National Statistics’ Institute
(INE) said on Thursday, its lowest
level since the third quarter of 2010
and down from 21 per cent in the
previous quarter. The overall number
of unemployed stood at 4.57 million in
the second quarter, INE said, a low not
reached since the end of 2009.
The economic recovery, following a
deep recession that wiped out millions
of jobs, has driven a steady turnaround
in the labour market, though Spain’s
unemployment rate remains the
second-highest in Europe after Greece.
A buoyant tourism industry has
helped jobs return, as restaurants, hotels
and resorts take on extra staff. Visitors
have flocked to Spain in preference
to many Mediterranean destinations
further east, where security concerns
have become increasingly acute.
labour market still relies more heavily
than many across Europe on shortterm contracts, storing up problems
for the economy at a time of political
deadlock following two inconclusive
parliamentary elections.
Spanish parties have been unable
to agree on a new government since
a December ballot that delivered a
hung parliament, with a re-run in June
producing a similar result.
High unemployment, the abundance
of seasonal work and of jobs in lowerpaid, low-skilled sectors have sapped
contributions to Spain’s social security
system, leaving it short of revenues to
foot payouts on pensions.
The welfare shortfall has scuppered
efforts to tackle an excessive public
Commission to grant Spain a further
two-year extension to bring it under a
recommended threshold of 3 per cent.
Political leaders jockeying for power
have pushed for a further crackdown
on abusive temporary contracts and
reforms to improve workforce training,
while many agree that the social security
pot’s funding model needs an overhaul.
But in the absence of a government,
those reforms are on the backburner, at
a time when they may be more urgently
required than ever after Britain’s vote
to leave the European Union, some
analysts argue. — Reuters
probably the bigger issue for Japanese
markets today.”
Chinese stocks staged an afternoon
recovery to edge higher amid
speculation a sell-off that sent the
benchmark equity gauge to its steepest
loss in six weeks was excessive. The
Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.1
per cent higher, reversing earlier losses
of as much as 0.8 per cent. Hong Kong’s
Hang Seng Index slipped 0.2 per cent.
Chinese equities sank on concern
regulators will restrict investments in
equities. The China Banking Regulatory
Commission is said to be planning a
crackdown on the $3.5 trillion wealth
management product market. The
initial draft states that cash from “mass
market” wealth products can only be
invested in money or bond markets, and
not in domestically listed shares, said
a person with direct knowledge of the
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added
0.3 per cent to the highest close since
August 2015. Economists expect the
nation’s central bank to cut interest rates
next week as consumer-price growth in
the country remained subdued in the
second quarter. New Zealand’s S&P/
NZX 50 Index gained 0.1 per cent.
India’s S&P BSE Sensex climbed 0.4
per cent, heading for the highest close
since August 2015, as the Cabinet eased
rules that would clear the way for passing
the national sales tax bill in parliament.
Japan’s Topix index declined as
the yen strengthened 0.8 per cent to
104.59 against the dollar. The currency
sank 0.7 per cent on Wednesday. South
Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.2 per cent and
Singapore’s Straits Times Index dropped
BAE Systems says
profits boosted by
defence demand
LONDON: BAE Systems, the British
maker of military equipment, posted a
modest increase in first-half profits on
Thursday on the back of rebounding
demand from governments
Net profits rose almost five per
cent to £408 million ($536 million,
487 million euros) in the six months to
the end of June, compared with £390
million a year earlier, BAE said in a
results statement.
“Despite economic and political
uncertainties, governments in our
major markets continue to prioritise
national security, with strong demand
for our capabilities,” said chief
executive Ian King.
“In the United States, we are
seeing encouraging signs of a return
to growth in defence budgets and
improved prospects for our core
The maker of Astute submarines
and Eurofighter warplanes is gaining
new orders as mounting tensions
between its main government clients
in NATO and China and Russia prompt
a reversal of military-budget cuts that
followed the 2008 global recession.
BAE is also seeking customers in
new countries and more revenue from
outside the defence area through
acquisitions in recent years to bolster
its cyber-security business.
The company will meanwhile
win an earnings boost after Britain’s
parliament gave the green light
last week to replace the ageing
submarines that carry the nation’s
nuclear arsenal.
British lawmakers approved the
construction of four new submarines
to carry the Trident missile system and
their nuclear warheads.
An order that the company’s
Italian partner in Eurofighter,
Leonardo-Finmeccanica SpA, signed
in April to supply 28 of the jets to
Kuwait, will provide £1 billion worth of
work for BAE, it added on Thursday.
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Oil slightly higher after
five-day slump
SINGAPORE: Oil prices edged up in Asia on Thursday after slumping
for five-straight sessions to a three-month low after a surprise jump in US
stockpiles built on increasing worries about a global supply glut.
US energy department data showed on Wednesday that inventories were
13.4 per cent higher on-year, while gasoline stocks were up 11.8 per cent,
indicating demand remains weak as the peak holiday driving season comes
to a close.
The news sent Brent tumbling three per cent and West Texas Intermediate
more than two per cent down to sit at levels not seen since April, with both
contracts now down about a fifth from their 2016 highs above $50 early last
month. On Thursday bargain-buyers moved in, helped by a weaker dollar
after the Federal Reserve indicated any US interest rate increase would be
slow and measured.
At about 0320 GMT, US Benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up
eight cents to $42.00 a barrel while North Sea Brent was up six cents at
“There is still a surplus and the oil price is going to have difficulty
sustaining any rally because of that,” David Lennox, an analyst at Fat
Prophets in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.
“We’re now heading toward the end of the drive season and the market is
probably going to weaken further. The $40 a barrel level looks like the base at
the moment.” Prices fell to near 13-year lows below $30 a barrel in February,
hit by an oversupply, tepid global growth, low demand and worries over
China’s slowing economy. — AFP
0.9 per cent. Rio Tinto Ltd climbed 2.1
per cent in Sydney, pacing gains among
mining companies as copper and iron ore
advanced. Hitachi High-Technologies
Corp surged 13 per cent in Tokyo after
the electronics maker boosted its firsthalf profit forecast. Fujifilm Holdings
Corp slumped 9.9 per cent after posting
first-quarter net income that missed
analyst expectations. Futures on the
S&P 500 Index rose 0.2 per cent. The US
equity benchmark index slipped 0.1 per
cent on Wednesday following the Fed’s
policy decision, with earnings and the
price of crude largely setting the tone for
individual shares. — Bloomberg
SoftBank profit jumps 19pc on Alibaba sale
TOKYO: Japan’s SoftBank said on Thursday net profit jumped 19 per cent in its fiscal
first quarter owing to gains from selling some of its stake in Chinese e-commerce giant
Alibaba, offsetting losses at US mobile unit Sprint. The company, which also pointed
to upbeat results in its domestic business, reported a 254.16 billion yen ($2.4 billion)
net profit in April-June. The profit largely came from booking some of its partial sale of
Chinese commerce giant Alibaba. Softbank is looking to cut its stake in Alibaba from
32.2 per cent to about 28 per cent, which it expects to rake in about $10 billion.
Alibaba — often described as China’s equivalent to eBay — dominates online
commerce in the country. SoftBank, which said its revenue in the quarter rose three
per cent to 2.13 trillion yen, surprised markets this month when it announced the
whopping $32 billion purchase of British iPhone chip designer ARM Holdings.
But its stock took a hammering as the huge deal aggravated concerns about
SoftBank’s balance sheet after a string of earlier acquisitions — including the $21.6
billion purchase of still-unprofitable Sprint several years ago.
“The ARM acquisition will have a major balance sheet impact in the short term and
there has yet to be a satisfactory explanation of how and when it will become a core
business for SoftBank,” Tomohisa Nonomura, an analyst at Toyo Securities, said.
SoftBank has been selling off some assets, including a stake in Finnish game-maker
Supercell, creator of “Clash of Clans”, to China’s Tencent, as it looks to pay down more
than $100 billion in debt. — AFP
People shop at a supemarket in Bangkok.— Reuters
Carrefour profits plunge 40pc to $143m
PARIS: French supermarket group Carrefour said on Thursday its half-year net profit
tumbled due to one-off items and as low fuel prices and currency rates ate away at
sales. It said net profits for the period were 129 million euros ($143 million), down 40.8
per cent and just below analysts’ forecasts.
Excluding exceptional items linked to restructuring costs, profits were up slightly
at 235 million euros. Second-quarter sales slid 4.1 per cent to 20.5 billion euros, also
slightly lower than analysts’ forecasts.
The retailer said that adverse exchange rate fluctuations had a six percentage point
impact on sales and operating earnings in the first half of the year, while low fuel prices
had a 1 per cent impact.
The retailer operates filling stations at its shops in numerous countries.
In the second quarter, sales rose by 2.6 per cent when stripped of currency
changes and number of stores.
That was lower than the 3.8 per cent organic growth in sales in the first quarter of
the year, however.
The retailer described the sales as resilient given the “more difficult consumption
environment, notably marked by unfavourable weather conditions” in France and
Europe. It noted very strong growth in emerging markets, in particular in Latin
America and Taiwan. — AFP
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
*US shale gas shaking up global markets
Pennsylvania to Texas
flooded the US with so
much natural gas over the
past decade that prices
slid to a 17-year low. Now
they’re going global, with the potential
to upset markets from London to Tokyo.
The US began shale gas exports by
sea this year and is projected by the
International Energy Agency to become
the world’s third-largest liquefied natural
gas supplier in five years. Gas will
challenge coal at European power plants
and become affordable in emerging
markets, where prices have been high
and supplies limited, according to the
IEA and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
LNG became the world’s second most
traded commodity after oil last year and
demand will keep growing, Goldman
said. US gas is adding to the global glut
triggered by new Australian supply and
weakening Asian consumption. Shale is
having an outsized impact on how LNG
is sold, prompting spot trading in lieu of
long-term contracts.
“The US clearly changed the picture,”
Costanza Jacazio, a senior gas analyst
with the Paris-based IEA, said in a phone
interview. “It’s going basically from zero
to the third-largest LNG capacity holder
in the space of five years and it brings
a new flexible dimension to the LNG
With supplies growing, some Asian
nations like Japan are contracted to buy
more than they can consume, leaving
surpluses to be sold. That’s lured major
traders into the LNG market in recent
years, including Vitol Group, Trafigura
Group, Koch Industries Inc., Gunvor
US gas is adding to the
global glut triggered by
new Australian supply
and weakening Asian
consumption. Shale is having
an outsized impact on how
LNG is sold, prompting spot
trading in lieu of long-term
Group Ltd and Noble Group, the IEA said.
The annual capacity of liquefaction
plants, where gas is chilled and
compressed for shipping, grew to 415
billion cubic meters in 2015 and will
expand to 595 billion by 2021, according
to the energy agency.
Cheniere Energy Inc has sent 19
tankers of the liquefied gas abroad from
its Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana. By
2020, five terminals will be operating
on the US Gulf Coast and in Maryland.
Global export capacity will surge 45 per
cent and the US’s share will jump to 14
per cent from nothing, according to
Energy Aspects Ltd.
While US supply is still relatively
small, it’s having an impact because
the American contracts are flexible.
Australian and other foreign processors
conclude long-term agreements to send
gas to specific countries such as Japan
and China. Asian buyers have contracted
for more than half of the US supply, but
they have the freedom to ship the fuel
to anywhere in the world, encouraging
spot trading.
Global Prices
The change will weigh on already low
global LNG prices. The WGI Northeast
Asia spot LNG price has averaged just
$5 per million British thermal units
this year, a premium of $2.86 over
benchmark US prices. Two years ago,
the gap was about $11. The premium for
UK futures to the US narrowed by about
half to $2. The widening of the Panama
Canal is going to have an impact as well.
It’s now able to handle most of the world’s
LNG tankers and will reduce time and
costs for US cargoes to destinations such
as Chile and Japan.
This week, Maran Gas Apollonia
became the first LNG tanker to pass
through the newly enlarged Panama
Canal after picking up a cargo at
Cheniere’s terminal in Louisiana. It’s
carrying the shale gas to the Far East,
according to an official at Maran Gas
Maritime Inc. By 2021, the US may
dispatch as many as 550 tankers a year
through the waterway, the US Energy
Information Administration forecasts.
Most of Cheniere’s cargoes so far
have gone to South America buyers in
Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Costs to
ship to Chile will plunge with the canal
expansion, the EIA said.
Creating Competition
Shale gas created intense competition
between coal and gas in the US, and now
US LNG may fuel European gas plants
that are operating at about 20 per cent of
capacity on average, Christian Lel ong, a
New York-based analyst with Goldman,
said in a phone interview.
Last year, LNG trade reached about
$120 billion, making it the secondlargest commodity traded globally,
surpassing iron ore, he said.
Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Poland
all became LNG importers last year
for the first time. Indonesia’s Arun
terminal, which started producing LNG
in 1977, has been converted for imports,
according to the IEA.
In emerging markets, smaller and
cheaper floating import vessels have
become popular. They cost $200 million
to $300 million compared with $1
billion or more for larger onshore plants.
Egypt got its first two floating units
last year and has been operating them
at maximum capacity, said Jason Feer,
head of business intelligence with ship
brokerage Poten & Partners in Houston.
There are 19 operating worldwide, with
plans for as many as 15 more, he said.
“There are markets like Bangladesh
and Pakistan where traditionally they
would have gone with coal but now
gas can be the cheaper option once you
include the cost of new infrastructure,”
LeLong of Goldman said. “You are
seeing these energy poor countries
often with poor credit ratings turning to
LNG.” — Bloomberg
*Inequality is key to making sense *Venezuela roils
of Russian consumer plight
numbers don’t add up.
A record slide in retail
sales for 18 months has
been immune to gains
in employment and wages, improving
confidence and inflation at less
than half last year’s level. Widening
wealth disparity may be the key to the
unprecedented collapse in demand,
according to Alfa Bank and VTB
Capital. “We attribute the muddled
household data to rising inequality of
income distribution,” Natalia Orlova,
chief economist at Alfa Bank in Moscow,
said in a report. “Heightened inequality
is the result of the freeze on public sector
salaries since 2015.”
While growing inequality has
dogged Russia since the Soviet collapse
a quarter century ago, enough wealth
trickled down during the oil boom years
to double the middle class to more than
60 per cent of the population and turn
consumer demand into the engine of
the economy. Much of that has been
undone by the fallout of the crash in
crude prices.
The widening wealth divide is an
issue animating politics and policy from
the UK to the US The recovery in the US
since the financial crisis has not been felt
by all parts of society, fuelling support
for populist candidates in its presidential
election campaign. Bank of England
Chief Economist Andy Haldane said
in a speech last month that the uneven
nature of the economic rebound in the
UK — across regions as well as income
and age groups — is one reason why
improvements in spending, prices and
wages have been “modest.”
As millions sank into poverty in
Russia last year, it’s the top earners —
more prone to saving and with smaller
propensity to spend — who are primarily
benefiting from higher incomes. While
household deposits jumped 1.1 per
corporate profits
around the globe
S companies operating in Venezuela have escalated the use
of an accounting manoeuvre to insulate themselves from a
worsening economic crisis in the South American country
that has erased more than $10 billion in profits over the past
cent in May from the previous month,
growth in retail loans has been negative
or near zero for a year, according to the
central bank.
To the extent that the wealthiest do
spend, they are a boon to companies like
Apple Inc, which said on Tuesday that
its sales in Russia doubled from a year
MD Medical Group Investments
Plc, which runs Russia’s largest chain
of maternity centres, reported that total
deliveries rose 24 per cent in the second
quarter from a year earlier. Etalon
Group Ltd, a developer with a focus on
middle-class residential real estate, has
said that the crisis is over as demand for
apartments picks up.
Private industries are driving the
acceleration in pay, while workers in the
public sector, which employs as much
as a quarter of the total labour force,
are only seeing increases of 4 per cent
to 6 per cent, according to Alfa Bank.
Federal Statistics Service data show
As millions sank into poverty
in Russia last year, it’s the
top earners — more prone
to saving and with smaller
propensity to spend — who
are primarily benefiting
from higher incomes.
nominal wages surged 9 per cent last
month from a year earlier after a gain of
8.4 per cent in May.
The “tight” historical link between
the growth pace of retail trade and real
wages no longer holds, according to
VTB Capital. Although salaries adjusted
for inflation have grown in four of the
past five months, a contraction in retail
sales has stayed near or below 5 per cent
all year.
Meanwhile, the World Bank predicts
the poverty rate will increase to 14.2 per
cent in 2016 from 13.4 per cent in 2015,
returning it to levels last seen in 2007.
The number of Russians considered
poor already grew by 3.1 million to 19.2
million last year, the most since 2006.
The plight of households is playing out
in the market, with the Micex Consumer
Goods and Services Index of nine stocks
falling 0.2 per cent this year. The broader
Micex Index is up more than 10 per cent.
While higher oil prices ushered
in an unprecedented increase in
living standards over the past decade,
inequality has grown since Vladimir
Putin took power, as measured by the
Gini coefficient. The top decile of the
richest Russians controls 87 per cent of
all household wealth in the country, a
share that’s “significantly higher” than in
any other major economic power, Credit
Suisse Group AG said in its latest Global
Wealth Report last year. — Bloomberg
18 months.
A growing number of US companies, including Colgate-Palmolive,
Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo , began deconsolidating the financial
results of their Venezuelan operations in 2015 because of the plunging
value of the country’s bolivar currency and their inability to set prices on
products such as shampoo and laundry detergent.
collapse has caused massive
shortages, forcing tens of
thousands of Venezuelans to
stream across the border for
basic goods.
Deconsolidation means
that Venezuela operations can
largely no longer hurt or benefit
a US parent company’s financial
results. Often companies are taking a big one-time charge against earnings
so that they can ring-fence what is left in Venezuela. Avon Products Inc
took an after-tax loss of about $120 million in the first quarter as part of
its deconsolidation move. Meanwhile, companies around the globe that
have not deconsolidated their Venezuela operations are suffering hits to
their income statements. Or they have signalled future write-downs if the
country’s economy remains in severe distress.
At the start of 2015, many companies valued their assets using the
then-official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar. But getting that most
favourable rate under a multi-tier currency system was unrealistic amid a
severe shortage of dollars.
In March, Venezuela announced the creation of two new exchange
rates. The so-called Dipro rate of 10 bolivars per dollar is mainly for
priority food and medicines. The other is a floating rate that adjusts based
on supply and demand. It has weakened to 641 bolivars per dollar. And on
the black market, one dollar costs Venezuelans more than 1,000 bolivars,
according to currency website
Several US, European and Asian drug companies have reduced
shipments of medicine because they are not able to exchange bolivars for
dollars. Pfizer Inc has disclosed in regulatory filings that it may not be able
to operate in Venezuela as it has historically.
Automaker General Motors Co said its Venezuelan operations may
need additional financial support, but no decision has been made to
provide it. — Reuters
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Flamenco queen Marin goes for
landmark badminton gold
I danced flamenco and
thanks to a friend I got
to know badminton.
They are very different,
but there are some
movements in dancing
flamenco, above all
the fluidity of my body,
which helps me play
MADRID: Inspired by a love of
flamenco dancing and sporting hero
Rafael Nadal, Spain’s Carolina Marin
dreams of becoming the first European
woman to win a badminton Olympic
gold in Rio.
Marin’s ambitions are lofty but
She is a two-time world champion in
a sport normally dominated by Asia.
She is also ranked number one in
the world and has blazed the trail for
badminton in Spain where minority
sports struggle for funding and
attention in the shadows of the nation’s
star-studded football teams.
“It is an obsession and an ambitious
objective,” said Marin at the end
of another day’s training at the
performance centre in Madrid she
describes as “home.”
“It will be more difficult than the
world championships because there
is more pressure, the expectations
from the press and the people are
very different to a world or European
But I am desperate for it to come and,
above all, enjoy the Olympic games.”
Marin was dumped out in the first
round in London four years ago as a
19-year-old by gold medal winner Li
Xuerui of China, but much has changed
since winning the world championships
for the first time two years ago.
She retained her world title in
Indonesia last year and won the
European championships for a second
time in May to consolidate her place
as world number one and the only
European player in the top 10.
“The secret of all this is in the work
we have done. Many hours in this centre,
which is my home. It is the fundamental
key to my climb up the rankings.”
Yet, another key to the unexpected
rise of a girl from Huelva on Spain’s
sunny southwest coast to world number
one was her love of flamenco as a
“I danced flamenco and thanks to a
friend I got to know badminton.
“They are very different, but there are
some movements in dancing flamenco,
above all the fluidity of my body, which
helps me play badminton.”
Marin will follow Nadal as Spain’s
flag bearer at the opening ceremony on
August 5.
Yet, despite speaking of the 14time tennis grand slam champion in
reverential terms, she admitted she has
Day, McIlroy among early
starters as PGA begins
SPRINGFIELD: World number one
Jason Day, four-time major champion
Rory McIlroy and five-time major
winner Phil Mickelson were poised to
make morning charges at Baltusrol as
the 98th PGA Championship began
Sunny skies greeted the early starters
from the field of 156, the strongest
lineup of talent in any event based
on world rankings since their 1986
creation. The 7,428-yard, par-70 layout
features only two par-5 holes, those at
17 and 18 to ensure drama and eagle
chances to the end.
Defending champion Day has
struggled in the run-up to the year’s
final major tournament with only a
Wednesday practice round, an illness
and a hospital trip after his wife Ellie
suffered an allergic reaction after the
Champions Dinner on Tuesday.
“I really don’t look at it as a title
defence,” Day said after having taken
his first major title last year at Whistling
“I really look at it as I need to come
back in, try and execute a game plan
and try and win the tournament. I won
it last year. That was fantastic and I need
to focus on what I need to do this year
to win the Wanamaker Trophy again.”
McIlroy, playing alongside Day, won
the Irish Open and has nine other top10 showings in US and European Tour
events this year, including a share of
fifth at the British Open two weeks ago.
“I feel like my game is in good shape,”
McIlroy said. “Everything is straight out
in front of you. There’s no real hidden
secrets to it. That’s what really let’s me
excel. I feel like I can play my game in
PGA Championships. I can hit driver
off the tee and from there, if I drive it
well, I feel like I have a big advantage.”
Lee unfazed by possible
last-four clash with Lin
LONDON: World number one Lee Chong Wei is not ready to
dwell on the prospect of facing arch-rival Lin Dan of China in
the Rio Olympics semi-finals, after both shuttlers were drawn in
the same half for the Games.
Lee, who will play in his fourth Olympics next month, will be
looking to end his long wait for an elusive Olympic gold at the
Riocentro venue, after losing out to double Olympic champion
Lin in the finals of the Beijing and London Games.
The Malaysian said he was happy with the draw handed to
him, despite being in the same half with his Chinese nemesis.
“The draw is okay for me compared to others, but I want to
take it one match at a time,” Lee told Malaysian media.
“I know Lin Dan is in the same half with me, but I don’t want
to think until the semis yet.
“This is the Olympics and everyone will give his best to win.
When I’m playing him (Lin) then I’ll deal with him,”
The 33-year-old hoped that his experience would give him
an edge over his competitors in his last Games appearance.
“I hope I can do well in my fourth and last Olympics.
I’ve learnt over the years how to deal with pressure,” Lee
“I will fight in every match and, if I lose after giving my best,
it’s perhaps fated.”
The badminton competition at the Rio Olympics will take
place from August 11-20. — AFP
Great haul of China not assured at Rio
MELBOURNE: World badminton will
hope a more open field and a European
resurgence can inject more excitement
at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and help
banish memories of London’s scandalplagued tournament where China
swept all titles.
The genteel racquet sport suffered
its greatest Olympic humiliation
at London where four pairs in the
women’s doubles were disqualified for
deliberately trying to lose pool matches
to secure more favourable draws in the
knockout phase.
The scandal, which cast a pall over
China and two other top Asian teams,
prompted a change to the Games
format to ensure there can be no repeat
of the chaotic scenes at Wembley Arena
where spectators jeered and hurled
abuse as players dumped successive
already done more for badminton in
her homeland than even Nadal has for
“Before Nadal we had already
discovered tennis. Manolo Santana was
the one that opened tennis to Spain.
shots into the net.
If it’s possible to win glory and
infamy in one tournament, China
managed it as they shrugged off
the disqualification of their world
champion women’s pair Yu Yang and
Wang Xiaoli to clinch all five gold
In all, the Chinese won eight of
the 15 medals on offer, six more than
second-placed Denmark.
At the Riocentro venue, all of China’s
singles and doubles contenders could
easily grab podium places but the
days of gold medal deciders fought
exclusively by shuttlers in identical red
shirts may be gone for good.
Nations are now limited to two
entrants in each event, down from
the three at London and previous
Games, a move intended to increase
However, I am the one who has opened
badminton to Spain.
“I feel very proud and fortunate to
have done so.
Hopefully in the future we will have
more Spanish champions.”
competition. The rule change has
coincided with a European resurgence
which has raised hopes of a more open
Long China’s exclusive domain, the
women’s top ranking is now held by a
Spaniard in world champion Carolina
Marin, while a pair of Danes in Viktor
Axelsen and Jan Jorgensen round out
the men’s top five.
Devoted fans will be salivating
at the prospect of another Olympic
showdown between Chinese champion
Lin Dan and Malaysian world number
one Lee Chong Wei in the men’s singles.
Lin, badminton’s answer to tennis’s
Roger Federer, defeated Lee in both
gold medal matches at Beijing and
London but his Malaysian arch-rival has
found form at the right time.
— Reuters
Gone are the days when she says taxi
drivers used to ask her what badminton
was when she arrived back from
international competitions with racket
in hand.
“After the first world championship
nobody asked me ‘what is badminton?’
People recognise me in the streets, when
I get into a taxi they congratulate me and
say they are honoured to give me a lift,
so things have changed a lot in Spain.”
Gold on August 19 could see Marin
catapulted even further into the media
spotlight if she can see off the likes
of Chinese world number two Wang
Yihan, defending champion Li and
Indonesia’s Ratchanok Intanon, who
has been cleared of an anti-doping
violation, to take part.
And unlike many tennis and golf
stars, Marin insisted she won’t let fears
of the Zika virus ruin her dreams of
Olympic gold.
“When I heard about the mosquito
problem I was worried more than
anything because you could get ill
during the Olympics.
“To think that after all the preparation
we have done to get there and then you
could get ill when you are there.
“But for sure we will have the means
to avoid that.”
“The doctors will take all the
precautions and in the end the player
has to trust in the doctors, physios and
team that surrounds them.”
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Saqlain set for
another stint
as England
spin guru
Mendis revives
Sri Lanka with
maiden ton
Kusal Mendis plays a shot during the third day of the opening Test match between Sri Lanka and Australia in Pallekele on Thursday. — AFP
PALLEKELE: Sri Lankan Kusal Mendis
struck a majestic maiden test century
on day three of the first test against
Australia to leave the bowler-dominated
contest evenly poised at Pallekele on
The 21-year-old was unbeaten on 169
— 52 runs more than his team managed
in the first innings — when rain forced
the players off the ground 10 overs after
tea with Sri Lanka on 282-6.
Dilruwan Perera was on five with
Sri Lanka leading by 196 runs with four
wickets in hand as rain continued to
plague the test which has already seen
the final sessions of the first two days
washed out. Resuming on six for one,
Sri Lanka lost Dimuth Karunaratne
Oman unveils
cricket ‘A’ team
MUSCAT: Oman Cricket unveiled
its national ‘A’ squad for the first
time in its history. The aim of the A
squad is to recognise the emerging
players with the Oman domestic
leagues who fall under the 2-4
year category, and groom them
for national honors. The A side
will serve as a feeder team for the
national squad. The players were
picked based on their season 201516 performance. The squad will be
picked on a year basis dependent
on domestic performance.
Coach Duleep Mendis said,
“The A side will train separately
and will be closely monitored by
the national team coaches and
selection panel. The A team will
undertake development tours
in the future in order to gain
more exposure and improve the
standard of Cricket in Oman.”
Team: Twinkal Bhandari, Jay Odedra,
Jayesh Odedra, Jaspreet Singh, Sudeep
Chavan, Badal Singh, Sindo Mical, Ram
Kumar, Fayaz al Hassan, Kaleem Ullah,
Asif Pathan, Jaymin Taylor and Nestor
Ireland trio set for
Pakistan ODI return
LONDON: Ireland are set to welcome
back Niall O’Brien, Craig Young and
Boyd Rankin for their forthcoming
one-day international series against
The trio all missed the recent drawn
series against Afghanistan but will be
available for next month’s two ODIs
with at Malahide, near Dublin.
O’Brien, who struck 72 in Ireland’s
2007 World Cup win over Pakistan,
is fit following a calf problem, while
Young is back after an elbow injury.
to Mitchell Starc in the third delivery
of the day. Steve O’Keefe dismissed
Kaushal Silva and his spin partner
Nathan Lyon sent back home captain
Angelo Mathews (nine) to reduce Sri
Lanka to 86-4. Mendis then forged two
important partnerships to rebuild the
Sri Lankan innings, raising 117 runs —
comfortably the highest of the match so
far — with Dinesh Chandimal (42) and
71 with Dhananjaya de Silva (36) to haul
his team back into the contest.
In a match where no other batsman
has managed a fifty, Mendis brought
up his maiden hundred in style, slogsweeping O’Keefe over midwicket
for six. Lyon dismissed de Silva for
his 200th test wicket but Mendis was
unfazed at the other end, sweeping the
spinners and cutting the pacemen with
equal ease.
With Mendis on song, Sri Lanka
completely dominated the post-lunch
session, adding 137 runs at a four-plus
run rate for the loss of Chandimal’s
Mendis hit 20 boundaries, including
a couple of glorious cover drives,
in his 243-ball masterclass and had
contributed nearly 60 per cent of the
team score in the second innings.
The visitors’ woes were compounded
when spinner O’Keefe hobbled off
the ground, Cricket Australia later
confirming in a tweet that he has a
“right hamstring issue”.
— Reuters
Australia’s Lyon enters 200 wicket-club
PALLEKELE: Australia’s Nathan
Lyon on Thursday became the
country’s first off-spinner to
bag 200 Test wickets, during his
team’s first Test against Sri Lanka
in Pallekele.
Lyon claimed Sri Lanka’s
Dhananjaya de Silva, who was
caught at midoff, to reach the
milestone in the second session
of the third day’s play, triggering
celebrations in the Aussie camp.
Lyon, who had already passed former Australian off-spinner Hugh
Trumble’s tally of 141 wickets, has now picked up five wickets in the game
which looks evenly balanced. Lyon, playing in his 55th Test, made his debut in
2011 in Sri Lanka’s Galle, the venue for the next match in the series.
LONDON: Pakistan off-spin great
Saqlain Mushtaq is set for another
spell as an England coaching
consultant, highlighting how fluid
national allegiances can become when
a cricketer’s playing days are over.
Saqlain was brought in by England
ahead of the recent second Test against
Pakistan at Old Trafford.
In the build-up he found himself
working with both off-spinner Moeen
Ali and leg-break bowler Adil Rashid,
although only Ali of the pair made it
into the XI that won by 330 runs with
more than a day to spare to level the
four-match series at 1-1.
Saqlain’s former Pakistan teammate Mushtaq Ahmed, is carrying
out a similar role with the tourists in
more of a permanent capacity. Prior
to taking up his Pakistan role, former
leg-spinner Mushtaq was England’s
spin-bowling coach. Off-spin legend
Muttiah Muralitharan, Test cricket’s
all-time leading wicket-taker, has come
under fire for working with Australia
in their ongoing series in his native
Sri Lanka. By contrast the atmosphere
between English and Pakistani officials
has been far more cordial. That’s partly
because, as this is Pakistan’s first tour
of England since their infamous 2010
spot-fixing debacle at Lord’s, both
sides are desperate to let their cricket
do the talking. It is also a reflection of
their multi-national backroom staffs,
with England head coach Trevor
Bayliss an Australian and his Pakistan
counterpart, Mickey Arthur, a South
Added to all that, Pakistan fielding
coach Steve Rixon, the former
Australia wicket-keeper, and Bayliss
—- who made his name internationally
as Sri Lanka coach — were once teammates in the same New South Wales
side. Meanwhile Bayliss was in no
doubt about the impact someone like
the 39-year-old Saqlain, who took 208
Test wickets at under 30 apiece in 49
matches, could make, even in a parttime role.
Wagner on song with 5-wicket haul as Zimbabwe wilt
BULAWAYO: Neil Wagner claimed a five-wicket haul from
a fiery spell of fast bowling as New Zealand reduced hosts
Zimbabwe to 120 for eight at tea on day one of the first test at
Queen’s Sports Club on Thursday.
Wagner took three wickets in an over to trigger
Zimbabwe’s middle-order collapse, and at tea had figures of
five for 31 from 16 overs after finding life in what is a good
batting track. A patient unbeaten 48-run ninth-wicket stand
between debutant Prince Masvaure (20 not out) and Donald
Tiripano (28 not out) got the home side past the hundred
mark, but it was slow going with the run-rate barely above two
an over. Zimbabwe had won the toss and elected to bat, but
lost Brian Chari (four) to the second ball of the innings as he
edged Tim Southee to Martin Guptill at second slip. Left-arm
spinner Mitchell Santner (2-12) had Hamilton Masakadza
(15) caught and bowled, before Craig Ervine (13) came down
the wicket and was stumped by wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
But it was South African-born Wagner who had the
batsmen hopping on the crease with a succession of welldirected bouncers. Debutant opener Chamu Chibhabha (15)
tried a pull, but succeeded only in picking out Tom Latham at
midwicket, before Sean Williams (one) lobbed a catch to Ish
Sodhi. He was convinced the ball had come off his helmet
and not the bat, but with no review system for this series had
to accept the decision of Australian umpire Paul Reiffel.
And then came that explosive 33rd over as Wagner tore
through the middle-order to leave the Zimbabwe innings in
tatters. He had Sikandar Raza (22) caught, also at mid-wicket,
by Latham and Regis Chakabva (0) caught behind, and he
forced captain Graeme Cremer to edge a rising delivery to
short leg Henry Nicholls for a first-ball duck. — Reuters
B Chari c Guptill b Southee -----------------------------------------------------------------------4
C Chibhabha c Latham b Wagner------------------------------------------------------------ 15
H Masakadza c and b Santner -----------------------------------------------------------------15
C Ervine st Watling b Santner ------------------------------------------------------------------13
S Williams c Sodhi b Wagner --------------------------------------------------------------------1
Sikandar Raza c Latham b Wagner ----------------------------------------------------------22
P Masvaure not out ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------20
R Chakabva c Watling b Wagner ---------------------------------------------------------------0
G Cremer c Nicholls b Wagner ------------------------------------------------------------------0
D Tiripano not out -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------28
Extras: (21b) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2
Total: ((8 wkts, 55 overs) ------------------------------------------------------------120
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-35, 3-35, 4-36, 5-72, 6-72, 7-72, 8-72
Bowling: Southee 13-6-26-1, Boult 11-5-23-0, Santner 7-1-12-2, Wagner
16-6-31-5, Sodhi 8-2-26-0
Zimbabwe batsman Hamilton
Masakadza runs past bowler Neil
Wagner during the first day of the
first test match in a series of two
tests between New Zealand and
hosts Zimbabwe at Queens
Sports Club, in Bulawayo on
Thursday. — AFP
F R I D A Y l J U LY 2 9 l 2 0 1 6
Cahill vows to fight
for England future
under Allardyce
LONDON: Defender Gary Cahill has
said he is ready to prove his worth to
new England manager Sam Allardyce
to retain his place in the national team.
The 30-year-old, who has 47 caps
for England, was regularly picked by
former manager Roy Hodgson and
was part of the squad that suffered an
embarrassing defeat by Iceland in the
last 16 of the Euro 2016.
“I’m looking to keep involved and
keep that shirt.
I am excited to be working under
Sam,” Cahill told British media. ‘‘I’m
looking to impress him at the start of
the season and also if I’m fortunate
enough to be involved in the squad.
“It’s going to be interesting to work
under him.
It’s down to me to play well and
make sure I hit the ground running so
that I am in the squad.”
Allardyce is known to impose a
very direct and combative brand of
football on his teams, which led to
then-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
labelling the style of play as ‘19thcentury football’ when the pair clashed
two years ago.
— Reuters
Klopp sent Sakho back
for lack of respect
(pictured) was sent back from
Liverpool’s pre-season tour of the
United States because of a lack of
respect towards rules but the defender’s
actions were not serious enough to
warrant more punishment, manager
Jurgen Klopp has said.
The France international, who
was recently cleared by UEFA after
allegations of a failed drugs test, is
currently nursing an Achilles injury
and is expected to miss the start of the
Premier League season, which begins
on August 13.
Klopp said Sakho broke rules during
the tour. “He missed the departure of
the plane, he missed a session and then
was late for a meal,” Klopp told British
media. “I have to build a group here,
I have to start anew, so I thought it
maybe made sense that he flew home to
Liverpool and after eight days, when we
come back, we can talk about it.
“But it’s not that serious. It is how I
said, we have some rules and we have
to respect them. If somebody doesn’t
respect it, or somebody gives me the
feeling he is not respecting it, then I
have to react, that’s all.”
Klopp said there was no falling out
with Sakho and it was unlikely the club
will fine the 26-yaer-old.
“We had no argument. I spoke. You
cannot argue when only one person is
speaking, that’s all,” the former Borussia
Dortmund manager said.
“Always it is the same with every
group. I don’t like fining. Sometimes it’s
funny, when the fine is bullshit. Come
on, pay for it, that’s nice. But mistakes,
fining never helps.”
Liverpool, who finished eighth in
the league last season, will start their
campaign with a trip to Arsenal on
August 13.
— Reuters
Manchester City’s Fernandinho Luiz Rozain (L) fights for the ball with Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele (R) during the
2016 International Champions Cup football match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund in Shenzhen, south
China’s Guangdong province. City goalkeeper Angus Gunn, 20, saved from Mikel Morino to ensure a 6-5 victory on spot-kicks
after a 1-1 draw in Shenzhen’s Longgang Stadium on Thursday.
Half a century on, Germans still dispute THAT goal
GOLDEN JUBILEE OF 1966 FINAL: Hurst’s arguably the most controversial goal in international football history
HAMBURG: Fifty years after THAT
goal at Wembley, West Germany captain
Uwe Seeler still insists England’s Geoff
Hurst’s controversial shot never crossed
the line in the 1966 World Cup final.
Hurst’s second goal in the 101st
minute of extra time — which put
England 3-2 ahead after the match
had finished 2-2 over 90 minutes — is
arguably the most controversial goal in
international football history.
England went on to claim a 4-2
win over West Germany with Hurst
becoming the only player to score a hattrick in a World Cup final.
But whether or not the ball bounced
behind the line from Hurst’s shot for
England’s third goal has been debated
for half a century with Saturday marking
the 50th anniversary of the 1966 final.
Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst
awarded the goal after consulting
with his linesman, Azerbaijan’s Tofiq
Bahramov, of the then USSR.
Some modern studies, using film
analysis and computer simulation, German Wolfgang Weber and England’s Martin Peters jumping for the ball. A hat-trick from Geoff Hurst and another goal from
suggest the ball never crossed the line, Peters helped England to their finest hour.
something Seeler has been insisting on
for half a century. “I was standing at the 79-year-old Seeler. Hurst’s shot beat West bounced on the line before being headed baffled the Germans and their skipper
back of the box and saw exactly that Germany goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski, away by defender Wolfgang Weber.
Seeler. “We were all in a state of
the ball didn’t cross the line,” said the the ball hit the underside of the crossbar,
But Dienst’s decision has always commotion, none of us knew what was
Some modern studies,
using film analysis and
computer simulation,
suggest the ball never
crossed the line, something
German captain Seeler has
been insisting on for half a
going on,” said Seeler. “No one (in the
West Germany team) could understand
why the goal was given.”
While the 1966 final remains
England’s only World Cup triumph,
the Germans’ victory at the 2014 Brazil
finals was their fourth world title and
Seeler says it is time to put the 1966
controversy to bed.
“I believe all the players have now
well digested the events,” he said.
“Even if it was a defining moment,
sport is sometimes like that. You have to
absorb it and put it away.”
Up until his death in 1998, Dienst
admitted he had no idea whether the
ball ever fully crossed the line and, in
his autobiography “1966 And All That”,
even Geoff Hurst has said the Germans
were probably right.
And Seeler joked about the incident
whenever he met members of England’s
1966 side. “When Geoff or Bobby
(Moore) or Jackie (Charlton) were here,
we’d have a laugh together about it,” said
“They knew alright that the ball
wasn’t in. They saw it.”
And Seeler said he is pleased goalline technology in the modern game
means there will be no such repeat of the
events 50 years ago.
“Today football has become pure
business,” said Seeler.
“So it’s necessary to under take certain
measures to prevent such decisions.
“Of course, there are mistakes from
time to time, but that’s just part of
The match and THAT goal is even
the subject of a special exhibition at the
German Football Museum in Dortmund
under the title “50 years Wembley — the
myths in snapshots” which runs from
Saturday until January 15.
Nadal’s injury
situation delicate,
says Ferrer
LONDON: Rafa Nadal’s injury
situation is “delicate” ahead of the Rio
Olympics, according to Spanish team
mate David Ferrer.
Nadal, a 14-time grand slam
champion, has not played a competitive
match since May 27 when a left wrist
injury forced him to pull out of the
French Open after the second round
and miss Wimbledon.
World number four Nadal won
gold in Beijing eight years ago and will
be Spain’s flag bearer in Rio.
“I will travel with Rafa on Sunday
to Rio,” Ferrer told Spanish radio
Cadena Ser.
“His situation is more delicate.
It’s never easy to come back after an
injury. We will see how he feels.”
Roger Federer has pulled out of
the Games due to a knee injury and
Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and
others are skipping the event due to
concerns about the Zika virus.
“At the Olympics, you want to see
all the players compete so it’s a shame,”
Ferrer said.”But our calendar is very
tight and then there is the Zika issue.”
— Reuters
FRIDAY | JULY 29, 2016 | SHAWWAL 24, 1437 AH
[email protected]
Oman sailors ready for
Hamburg challenge
Skippers vow not to
repeat mistakes
July 28: In a candid interaction before
the start of the Extreme Sailing Series’
third act commencing at the historic
River Elbe in Hamburg, Oman Air
skipper Morgan Larson exuded nervous
Larson shared his excitement about
working with the Oman Air sailing
team comprising Pete Greenhalgh,
Nasser al Mashari, Ed Smyth and James
Wiezerbowski Bowman.
“It is really an honour to be here with
the team. It’s wonderful to race with a
team like this because they are so good.’’
The American also delved into the
obvious challenges that the unit will face
in the course of four days of racing.
“The weather, the conditions and the
elements will be very challenging. We
don’t know what to expect, the course
location is such. We have prepared well,
but we are a little nervous.
It is also my first time here in
Hamburg,’’ he said.
Larson felt the factor of a new venue
has its pluses and minuses.
“It can be good too, because we can
race with an open mind. But again the
flip side is that you cannot say which
direction the wind is coming from since
there is shore on both sides.
Usually we read the water and the
wind. But here we will go with the feels,
blind sailing is what we will end up
doing,’’ the captain said.
Larson also felt the race is very
important from a championship
winning perspective.
“It is an interesting time in the season.
This is a really good time for us to take a
grip over things.
If we put up a good show here, we can
It can be good too, because we can
race with an open mind. But again the
direction the wind is coming from since
there is shore on both sides.
wind. But here we will go with the feels,
blind sailing is what we will end up
doing: Oman Air skipper Morgan Larson
Skippers of teams addressing the media in Hamburg on Thursday.
Larson shared his excitement
about working with the
Oman Air sailing team
comprising Pete Greenhalgh,
Nasser al Mashari, Ed Smyth
and James Wiezerbowski
Nasser al Mashari
have a great season,’’ he said.
The nervous sailor in Larson was
quite apparent although the team is
leading the eight-act series by three
points with 35 points to their credit.
Red Bull are second placed with 32
points and Alinghi in third with 30.
“Things can change very quickly and
any team can win here, it’s that kind of a
venue,’’ he added.
Talking about the team’s preparations,
Larson focused on all aspects.
“Mentally and physically we are
ready. It’s just about being relaxed.
We have made a few changes to
adjusting the foils and who makes the
Hoping we can move forward with
it,’’ he said.
In terms of the competition that they
can expect, Larson mentioned SAP
and China One as tough rivals and not
leaving out Alinghi either.
“SAP are a good team and the
Chinese will be very competitive too.
Alinghi could push hard as well,’’ the
skipper said.
July 28: Ahead of the Extreme Sailing Series Hamburg leg, the skippers
spoke about their plans and challenges. Rasmus Kostner of SAP Extreme
Sailing Team, who are at the second spot behind Oman’s very own Oman
Air Sailing Team, focused on avoiding mistakes from last season.
“After watching last year’s capsize video... we have good memories of
Hamburg but also some tough ones. That capsize was a good example of
what not to do when you are leading the regatta. That time we pushed it
too hard and that’s what happens.’’
Alinghi skipper Arnaud Psaroghis felt his team will be more determined
to succeed this time around as compared to last year. “We won in Qingdao
but in Cardiff we didn’t sail at our best, we made too many mistakes and
the other teams were stronger. Here, we think we have found what we did
wrong and will improve on those points and push hard,’’ he added.
Taylor Canfield of China One expressed his excitement of being part of
the Extreme Sailing Series considering they are relative newbies. “We are
happy to be competing in one of the highest level multihull circuits that
exist and we are growing as a team. We are new to the game this year and
trying figure out the boats and the foiling,’’ he added.
“We have been rotating through a few crew trying to find the right
combo and we are getting to that point now, so we can focus more on
the tactics and not just the boat handling side. We hope to go up to 13
podiums we got in Cardiff this week,’’ Canfield said.’’
Neil Hunter from the Land Rover BAR Academy said the learning
experience from the previous races would be put to good use here.
“Generally from Cardiff we learnt so much and at this event we have a
complete Academy team, on board — it’s just the youngsters here. We’ve
been working hard in the gym and on our boat handling and I think we are
ready to mix it up with the top teams here in Hamburg,’’ he added.
Probably, the most inexperienced of all the teams Sail Portugal — Visit
Madeira are looking to pick up the tricks of the trade this season.
Skipper Diego Cayolla was humble in his expectations for the race.
“The Sail Portugal — Visit Madeira project is a long term project. This year
is a learning year, we want to rotate our crew members so that next year we
can stabilize the crew.’’