1 INDEX Global stocks plunge further on China fears GULF QATAR 3 6, 24 REGION 8 ARAB WORLD 8, 9 INTERNATIONAL COMMENT 22, 23 BUSINESS 1 8, CLASSIFIED 9 13 SPORTS 1 12 BUSINESS Page 1 SPORT Page 1 Jamaican FraserPryce seals historic treble 16, % TIMESLatest Figures DOW JONES QE NYMEX 10, % TUESDAY Vol. XXXVI No August 25, 2015 DhulQa da 10, 1436 AH www. gulftimes.com 2 Riyals % published in QATAR since 1978 In brief QATAR Philanthropy Qatari lady donates threestorey building A Qatari lady has donated a threestorey building at Al Messila Area as an endowment for the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. The revenue from the building, which includes 11 apartments, will be spent on the service of the Holy Qur an, healthcare, needy families, orphans and widows, with 10% for each of them and the remaining 50% for other philanthropic activities, according to the wish of the donor. The department concerned at the ministry also received a unit at a residential tower at The PearlQatar, donated by a Qatari man to spend its revenue on various philanthropic deeds. The man had also donated another building earlier for the same purpose. Meanwhile, another Qatari woman endowed QR400,000 for the benefit of orphans and the breakfast of fasting people, digging of wells and needy students equally. A third Qatari woman donated QR200,000 for different deeds of mercy. AMERICA Calamity Fires in Washington state largest in history A group of wildfires blazing in the western US state of Washington have become the largest in the state s history, officials said yesterday. The socalled Okanogan complex of wildfires in the northcentral part of the state has already surpassed last year s recordbreaking Carlton fires, US Forest Service fire spokesman Mike Ferris said. The Okanogan fire had grown to more than 250,000 acres (104,000 hectares) yesterday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, which said the blaze was only 10% contained. EAST ASIA Military North, South Korea agree to defuse crisis North and South Korea reached agreement today, following marathon talks, on ending a tense military standoff that had pushed the two rivals to the brink of armed conflict. In a joint accord, the North expressed regret over recent mine blasts that maimed two South Korean soldiers, while the South agreed to switch off loudspeakers blasting propaganda messages across the border. Page 13 EUROPE Politics Erdogan officially calls new elections President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially called late yesterday for new elections in Turkey, less than three months after the last polls. The announcement came after Erdogan met with the speaker of parliament and follows coalition talks, which got off to a rocky start and never seemed destined to reach a result. Page 15 A picture taken on March 14, 2014 shows the Temple of Baal Shamin seen through two Corinthian columns in the ancient oasis city of Palmyra. Islamic State militants on Sunday blew up the temple. IS blows up Palmyra in new war crime Beirut The Islamic State group has blown up a famed temple in Syria s ancient Palmyra, in an act the UN condemned as a war crime and an immense loss for humanity. The destruction of the Baal Shamin temple, considered the secondmost significant in ancient Palmyra, raised concerns for the rest of the Unesco World Heritage site. It comes only days after IS beheaded the 82yearold retired chief archaeologist of Palmyra, sparking widespread revulsion. This destruction is a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity, said Irina Bokova, the head of the UN cultural watchdog Unesco, calling for the perpetrators to be held accountable. Daesh (IS) is killing people and destroying sites, but cannot silence history and will ultimately fail to erase this great culture from the memory of the world, Bokova said in a statement. Syria s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said the temple was destroyed on Sunday. Our worst fears are sadly being realised, Abdulkarim said. Famed for its wellpreserved A file picture shows a part of the ancient city of Palmyra. GrecoRoman ruins, Palmyra was seized from government forces in May, prompting concerns IS might destroy it as it has other heritage sites in parts of Syria and Iraq under its control. Initially most of Palmyra s bestknown sites were left intact, though there were reports IS had mined them and the group reportedly destroyed a wellknown statue of a lion outside the city s museum. Daesh placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baal Shamin today and then blew it up, Abdulkarim said late Sunday. The cella (inner area of the temple) was destroyed and the columns around collapsed, he said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britainbased group that monitors the country s civil war, confirmed the destruction of the temple. But the Observatory said Baal Shamin had been destroyed a month ago a discrepancy which could not be immediately explained as information on Syria s civil war is often unclear. IS captured Palmyra on May 21, sparking international concern about the fate of the heritage site described by Unesco as of outstanding universal value. Known as the Pearl of the Desert, Palmyra is an oasis town about 210km (130 miles) northeast of Damascus and was a stopping point for caravans travelling on the Silk Road and between the Gulf and the Mediterranean. Before the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011, more than 150,000 tourists visited Palmyra every year. IS mined the ancient site in June before destroying the Lion Statue of Athena outside the Palmyra museum. Most of the pieces in the museum were evacuated by antiquities staff before IS arrived, though the militants have blown up several historic Muslim graves. IS has also executed hundreds of people in the city and surrounding area, many of them government employees, and infamously used children to shoot dead 25 government soldiers in Palmyra s ancient amphitheatre. Among those it has killed was Khaled alassaad, Palmyra s antiquities chief for 50 years, who was beheaded last week after refusing to leave the city following the IS takeover. In neighbouring Iraq, the militant group has razed some relics of ancient Mesopotamia and looted others to sell on the black market. Syria s war, which began with antiregime protests, has spiralled into a multifront conflict that has killed more than 240,000 people. Yesterday, at least 12 civilians, including five children, were killed in regime air strikes on rebelheld Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, the Observatory said. Nine of those killed were in the town of Douma, which regime forces have pounded with air strikes in recent days. There is a military escalation by the regime on Douma in response to rebel attacks on government positions in Harasta, another part of Eastern Ghouta, Abdel Rahman said. He said regime forces also dropped barrel bombs on the Jabal Zawiya area in northwestern Idlib province, killing 14 civilians including six children. State media said 13 people were wounded by rebel fire on Damascus yesterday. Big push for agricultural production in Qatar Imparting a great impetus for food security in the country, Zulal Oasis, a subsidiary of Hassad Food, has implemented an integrated production technology, Zulal Oasis Technology to grow agricultural products all through the year. The company officials announced yesterday that the technology could produce over 37kg of vegetables of highest quality per square metre, which is a very high yield. Zulal Oasis will hold an open day for the local farmers, specialists and investors in the field of agriculture at its Al Shahanyiah farm on Thursday. The pilot research and development project aims to overcome the challenges facing the local agriculture such as, high temperature and humidity, lack of ground water as well as arable lands. Farmers using the integrated production system developed by Zulal Oasis will be able to produce high quality vegetables throughout the year. Nasser Mohamed alhajri, chairman and managing director of Hassad Food said: We launched Zulal Oasis in 2013, through a partnership between Hassad Food and Oasis Agrotechnology, a consortium led by Primaflor Group, the leading greenhouse and production technology company in Europe, to test and adapt the company s technology to the local climate. The pilot project has achieved great success.the technology proved to be perfectly suited for Qatar s climate; it also exceeded expectations regarding the yield and quality, producing more than 37kg (per square metre) of highest quality European Standard, he added. The Zulal Oasis technology was developed as an integrated farming system that operates efficiently by utilising the local climate conditions, while efficiently using and recycling 100% of the irrigation water. The new generation of hydroponic greenhouses tops the achievements of Zulal Oasis; with its longlife strong structure, stateoftheart design and technological advances makes this agricultural technology the most advanced, efficient and suitable for arid climates. The greenhouse design is based upon a comprehensive concept, using cuttingedge technology such as the worldwidepatented crop system; New Growing System (NGS), the most advanced hydroponic system in the world. It has several stateoftheart advantages such as, not using soil or substrate materials for agriculture, natural selfpurification, maximum development of roots and 100% recirculating nutrient solution. The NGS system provides comprehensive standard irrigation system making it the most efficient for farmers in terms of productivity, strength and health of plants, saving water and fertilisers, as well as uniformity and quality of the products. The Dry Air Cooling System (DACS) is an automated smart climate control system used by Zulal Oasis for cooling the greenhouses. It operates with the highest efficiency in terms of uniformly cooling all the parameters of the greenhouse. The DACS technology has been adapted to the local weather and humidity, to provide the optimum environment for plants throughout the year; additionally this unique system consumes no water for operation and provides no moisture. The Zulal Oasis technology is financially viable, as the cost of production is highly competitive and lower than imported products of the same quality. It also allows diversification in the produced crops regardless of the season to meet the market demand. Hamad alhajri, board director of Zulal Oasis, explained the features of Zulal Oasis technology. Hamad alhajri, board director of Zulal Oasis. Tomatoes grown in the Zulal Oasis farm, using the most advanced hydroponic system in the world. QF and RAF sign deal to promote humanitarian work Qatar Foundation (QF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF) yesterday to serve the wider community by promoting humanitarian values and fostering a culture of understanding. The MoU was signed by Fahad Saad alqahtani, group executive director of Qatar Foundation, and Dr Ayed bin Fahad Saad alqahtani and Dr Ayed bin Dabssan alqahtani shake hands after signing the MoU. Dabssan alqahtani, chairman of the Board of Trustees and general director of RAF Foundation at Al Shaqab in the Education City. Under the agreement, the two parties will work together to achieve common goals, including highlighting the importance of humanitarian work. By encouraging community service, the MoU aims to foster an engaged, progressive society that is dedicated to serving Qatar and fulfilling the overarching goals of QF s mission. AlQahtani, said: We applaud the mission of the Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services, and the charity s ongoing efforts in the field of community service. We hope that this agreement will achieve its desired objectives and encourage public interest, while promoting education, science and research, and community development to fulfil Qatar National Vision As part of the agreement, a number of research and training programmes will be developed, and both parties are set to benefit from sharing knowledge, expertise, research studies, and resources. Additionally, the organisations will be invited to attend and participate in conferences, seminars, scientific sessions, community service programmes, and volunteering activities hosted by QF and RAF. Dr alqahtani said: I am very proud of this partnership that will benefit our communities. This MoU will strengthen the relations between the civil community institutions in Qatar, and it aims to promote people as the most important resource in this country. We hope, in the future, to witness the benefits of this MoU, as per the strategic and executive plan that was prepared by the two organisations.
3 QATAR 3 CCQ to start theatrical arts programme By Joey Aguilar Staff Reporter The Community College of Qatar (CCQ), in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, will start a theatrical arts programme this upcoming semester, president of the college Dr Ibrahim Saleh K alnaimi told. Since Qatar has many theatrical activities and events, he said CCQ wants to further promote culture by opening a new programme for those who have the interest and passion for acting, musical theatre, piano, and dance. With close collaboration with various government agencies and cultural organisations such as the Katara the Cultural Village, Dr al Naimi expressed optimism that students would get the right exposure to develop their skills in theatrical arts. He also cited the recently held Ballet Philippines performance which attracted a large number of spectators and guests from different communities and organisations. The CCQ president said promoting culture and heritage to their students is built within their programmes. Dr Ibrahim Saleh K alnaimi We have within the core courses that we try to teach such as Islamic culture, he noted. We teach history in Arabic although some of the programmes are taught in English but there is an Arabic component in that programme. AlNaimi also vouched for the integrity and competence of their faculty members who have finished their masters (68.7%) and doctorate degrees (26%). They had been providing good education to our students. He said CCQ has a unique friendly environment since students and teachers have a close relationship with one another, which he considers as an advantage. CCQ also features smaller classes with a facultystudent ratio of 1:17.5, flexible timing and what he described as a decent place to pursue higher education. We want to streamline students who had been given a second chance to study in the right environment and provide them the right education, alnaimi said. This is to help them either to go back to work with more skills or to advance and get their bachelors degree, he said, adding that a lot of students in Qatar go to work after finishing high school without paying attention to higher education. Besides theatrical arts, CCQ is also developing a new programme on Logistics and Supply Management this year, in collaboration with Aspire Zone. It will also have another programme on health information management and two more programmes next year: Information Technology and Engineering Technology. From 11 faculty members, he noted that they now have about 160, who comprise different nationalities. CCQ is the first public community college in Qatar and it collaborates with Houston Community College. From 308 students in 2010, the numbers grew to nearly 3,000 this year where majority (75%) of its population are female.
4 4 QATAR HMC advises special care for Al Shamal port cleanup elderly people, outdoor workers Elderly people as well as outdoor workers are at a particularly higher risk of developing heatrelated illnesses and need special care and attention during the season of extreme heat and humidity, cautioned a geriatrics expert at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). We urge the public to check frequently on elderly family members, friends or neighbours to make sure that they are safe, especially those who are living alone or have chronic medical conditions, mental illness, or any difficulty caring for themselves, said Dr Marwan Ramadan, senior consultant at HMC s Geriatrics Department in Rumailah Hospital. Dr Ramadan said that elderly people may have diminished sensation, especially those who have dementia or diabetes, and may not even be aware of being thirsty or feeling too hot. He explained that even otherwise healthy people can find it hard to cope in hot weather because of the physical changes that people undergo as they age. Those aged 65 and above can rapidly develop serious and lifethreatening conditions such as heat stroke, or perhaps even develop complications to an already existing medical condition. Some medications also increase the risk of heatrelated illness, such as diuretics, beta blockers, antidepressants, antihistamines and sedatives, which can also dull an elderly person s awareness of discomfort. As a precaution, elderly people should review their medications with their doctor to determine whether their prescribed medications put them at increased risk of heatrelated illness, and how they may safeguard their health during the intense summer season, Dr Ramadan explained. The elderly are also advised to avoid strenuous activity, and warned to remain indoors, in a cool and wellventilated environment between 10am and 4pm daily, when the temperature is at its peak. Furthermore, they are encouraged to stay hydrated and should opt for lighter meals to avoid increasing the body temperature. It is also recommended that the elderly avoid consuming alcohol and caffeinated drinks, including tea, coffee and soft drinks, which can actually contribute to dehydration. Those with kidney problems should consult their doctors regarding their fluid intake. Outdoor workers are also cautioned to take precautions against heat related illnesses during this period. To avoid heat illnesses, outdoor workers should increase their water and fluid consumption even before they get thirsty. But they should avoid drinking caffeinated drinks. It is important to ensure people rest between 10am and 4pm, the hottest period of the day, HMC s chief consultant of Emergency Medicine, Dr Warda alsaad had earlier cautioned. Safari celebrating Onam on a grand scale Onam, the harvest festival of the south Indian state of Kerala, is being celebrated by the Safari Group on a grand scale. A range of events and promotions have been lined up over the next few days. The inhouse chefs are preparing the traditional vegetarian Onam lunch (Onam Sadhya) with 25 different varieties of dishes for QR35 on Friday. As many as 25 varieties of Payasam (a traditional dessert) will also be available from August 29 to September 2. A musical game show will be hosted for three days from tomorrow in the Food Court arena of Safari Mall. On Friday, the day of Onam, customers who come to the mall in the traditional Kerala attire would be randomly picked to win a gift hamper. Vegetables and fruits displayed on a counter shaped like a traditional boat at Safari Mall as part of the Onam celebrations. Spoon race, musical chair, chocolate picking, balloon blasting and other entertaining events have also been arranged on Friday for adults and kids. The Onam Carnival Promotions gives the opportunity to 15 customers to win gold coins weighing 8gms each with the purchase of products by Homeway and Clickon for a minimum amount of QR25. The other ongoing promotions include buy any Eastern product for QR20 and get QR5 as instant cash back, and the opportunity to win an Apple MacBook, 20 Galaxy Samsung Tabs or 20 HP deskjet through the purchase of branded pens such as Uniball, Staedtler, Luxor, Atlas, and Pentel for a minimum of QR20. The Back to School promotion which features books, bags, stationary items, office items, home linen, and electronics items comes with prizes including 2 MacBooks and 12 ipad Minis through the scratch and win offer. The lucky raffle draw for the 18 Toyota Camry GL sedans is also running simultaneously with a minimum purchase of QR50. Every month, three winners each are to get a car. The Beaches and Islands Section at the Ministry of Municipality & Urban Planning has removed tyres, fishing nets, metal nets and submerged objects from the Al Shamal port. The campaign also involved clearing the wharf of plastic cans and wooden items, besides putting up warning notices on a number of abandoned boats ordering their removal by the owners. Ministry recalls Rover vehicles The Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) has announced the recall of Land Rover LR4, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover 2015 models due to defects in wheel nuts. The recall, in collaboration with Alfardan Premier Motors, the dealer of Rover vehicles in Qatar, forms part of the ongoing coordination and followup by the MEC to determine dealers commitment to followup and repair defects, protecting consumers rights. The MEC said it will coordinate with Alfardan Premier Motors to follow up the necessary maintenance and repair processes. It will also communicate with clients to ensure the success of the recall campaign, as well as the implementation of the procedures to fix the defects. Partnership between Nojoom, Booking.com sees good response Thousands of Nojoom members have earned Nojoom points while enjoying holiday experiences this summer with new earning partner Booking.com through the Nojoom/Booking.com cobranded website, Ooredoo said in a statement. Since Booking.com was unveiled as a Nojoom partner at the start of summer, many members have been able to earn one point for every QR3 spent on hotel stays, the statement further said. With more than 650,000 accommodations available, Booking.com has proven to be a popular option for members, who frequently travel throughout the year, Ooredoo said. To earn points, members must complete their reservation through the cobranded Booking.com website, which can be accessed by visiting and confirm that they are Nojoom members by entering their mobile number. Points are posted on members accounts within 30 days after the stay. To ensure all of its members are rewarded wherever they travel, Nojoom aims to continue to expand the range of local and international partners. For more information on all Nojoom partners and how to enrol in Nojoom, visit the Nojoom page at or download the Ooredoo app or visit any Ooredoo shop.
5 QATAR 5 Civil Defence averts major disaster at Ummghuwailina Timely intervention of the Civil Defence Department averted a major tragedy on Sunday night. A major fire broke out at a labour accommodation near the health centre at Ummghuwailina around 10.30pm but the Civil Defence personnel were quick to reach the spot and put out the fire immediately. The accommodation was located near the old Kemco labour camp. Also the metro railway station works are under progress in this area. One of the residents of the area said: The fire had broken out in a terrifying manner all of a sudden. But the timely and courageous intervention of the Civil Defence and the police force averted a major disaster which otherwise could have resulted in loss of lives and more property. The fire force had great difficulty in getting into the exact location but they reached the spot in a very adventurous manner and Civil Defence Personnel fighting the blaze. PICTURE: Anvar Maathottam put out the fire in almost half an hour. He stated that around 200 labourers were staying at the accommodation that caught fire. In addition, there were a number of families who were staying nearby. Altogether around people could have been the victims of the Alfardan Premier Motors bags two awards fire if it was allowed to spread. The affected people were immediately evacuated and were accommodated at a nearby mosque, he added. Partial closure of street in Najma The Public Works Authority, Ashghal, has announced the closure of 434 metres of one direction of Al Hilal Street starting from its intersection with Al Bunduquia Street to the roundabout in Najma Street. The closure from tomorrow will be done in two parts, the first from the intersection of Al Bunduquia Street with Al Hilal Street until the intersection of Al Mareekh Street with Al Hilal Street, until September 26, while the second part will be from the intersection of Al Mareekh Street with Al Hilal Street until the roundabout in Najma Street until October 26. During this partial closure, drivers can use Najma Street and Ibn Shuaib Street, or Al Khalidiya Street, through Muaath Street in both directions as alternative routes (as shown in the map). Ashghal is implementing this closure to complete the rehabilitation work of the existing underground sewerage network in Al Najma area. Alfardan Premier Motors Co., Jaguar Land Rover s exclusive retailer partner in Qatar, received two awards during the Jaguar Land Rover Mena s Retailer Marketing Conference held in Dubai. The retailer received a certificate of recognition in appreciation of its annual Land Rover Drive Experience, and another certificate recognising Hussein Adra (pictured), Marketing and Customer Relationship manager for Alfardan Premier Motors, for his overall marketing achievements for fiscal year Indian embassy Open House The Indian embassy will hold an Open House on Thursday from 5.30pm to 6.30pm to address any urgent consular and labour problems of Indian nationals residing in Qatar. Written information on Doha and Dukhan are forecast today to experience a maximum temperature of 46C. Mesaieed, Wakrah, Al Khor and Abu Samra are to touch 45C issues/cases proposed to be discussed with the embassy may be submitted from 5.30pm to 6pm. This will be followed by meeting with embassy officials from 6pm to 6.30pm. 46 degrees forecast for Doha, Dukhan and Ruwais 40C. The minimum temperature is expected to range between 29C and 34C, according to the Met Office. National Day greetings HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad althani and HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa althani have sent cables of congratulations to President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on his country s Independence Day.
6 6 QATAR Turkey ties discussed Blame traded over absconding maids Assistant Foreign Minister for International Cooperation Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdurrahman bin Jassim althani met yesterday with Turkish Ambassador to Qatar Ahmet Demirok. Talks focused on bilateral relations and ways of enhancing cooperation as well as issues of common concern. Several people have blamed recruitment agencies for housemaids deserting their employers, particularly during Ramadan and the back to school season. Local Arabic daily Arrayah carried yesterday the opinions of some Qataris and managers of recruiting agencies on this controversial issue, with each side blaming the other for the problem. While some locals complained that recruitment agencies played a key role in encouraging maids to abscond, recruitment company officials said the sponsors were responsible for such action by the domestic workers. The sponsors felt that recruiters advised newlyarrived maids to be compliant for the first three months of the trial period and do whatever they liked after that. In such a scenario, the recruiter would not incur any loss as the maid has successfully completed the guarantee period. Abdulrahman almuttawah said that an absconding maid may cost her sponsor as much as QR30,000. He added that some maids started to create trouble after the trial period. After that they either run away or ask to be repatriated at the cost of the sponsor. In such a case, the employer has a hard time looking for a new maid and has to meet the high cost of recruitment as well. Instances of maids running away from their employers are more common during Ramadan and the back to school season when their workload increases, sources said. AlMuttawah suggested that the guarantee period should be extended to six months, besides opening up the market for recruitment by adding more countries. However, Mohamed Mahmoud, manager of a recruitment agency, said that extension of the guarantee period would not solve the problem in any way. Besides, it is the behaviour of the sponsor and his family towards the maid that determines the course of action that the domestic help takes either to stay in the job or run away. Nabil alkhatir, a Qatari, said the threemonth guarantee period was not enough, accusing recruiters of helping maids to run away and find employment with a different sponsor. He suggested that absconding maids should be given tough penalties so long as the sponsor has abided by his obligations. Another Qatari, Salem al Merri said the new sponsors of absconding maids should face severe punishment. Al Meera widens its reach with new outlets Al Meera Consumer Goods has said it is continuing its expansion plans to serve diverse communities and their needs. Deputy CEO Dr Mohamed Nasser alqahtani said: Al Meera has always considered reaching highlypopulated areas, especially the zones that lack retail malls. Al Meera has launched modern commercial centres in Abu Nakhla, Nuaija and Legtaifiya, as well as supermarkets in the Barwa Mesaimeer and Beverly Hills residential complexes. The company has worked on the modernisation of old branches in Al Mansoura, Hazm Al Markhiya, Onaiza, Bin Omran, Khalifa South, Al Maamoura, and Al Wakrah. The number of branches increased from 23 four years ago to 32 by the end of Al Meera s development plans also gained great momentum in 2014 with nine new modern shopping centres built in Muraikh, Al Azizia, Muaither, Jeryan Njeima, Thakhira, Al Wakrah, Al Thumama, Al Wajba and Rawdat Ekdeem. The construction of the new branches of Al Meera follows the contemporary design of the modern shopping malls, which includes a supermarket, shops, restaurants and other facilities. The construction works are in accordance with the international standards and the latest interior designs and lighting systems that guarantee a distinctive shopping experience, al Qahtani said. Since the beginning of 2015, Al Meera has opened branches in Muraikh, Al Azizia and Muaither at the newly opened Gulf Mall, Jeryan Njeima, Al Thakhira and Al Wakrah 2. In the coming weeks, it will also open new branches at Al Wajba, Rawdat Ekdeem and Al Thumama, after obtaining the necessary permits and approvals from authorities. This year, Al Meera has started construction work on several new branches in Sailiya North, Bu Sidra, Al Wakrah 3, Umm Salal Ali, Rawdat Aba ElHerran, Azghawa, Al Khor, Um Qarn, Rawdat Al Hamama, Jeryan Junaihat, Al Sailiya, Ain Khaled, Leabaib 1 and Leabaib 2. AlQahtani said Al Meera will have 56 outlets across Qatar once its expansion plan is completed. He added that Al Meera is coordinating with the Department of Urban Planning for further expansion in new locations in Rawdat Al Hamam, Al Shehaniya North, Madkhal Al Khuraib, Rawdat Rashed, Umm EL Omod and Al Khuraitiyat. AlQahtani said Al Meera is also importing highquality food at competitive prices from Turkey, Thailand, and Vietnam. The food imported from Turkey includes beans, chocolate, biscuits, pastries, juices, tomato paste, honey, eggs, frozen chicken griller, olive oil, olives, fruits and vegetables, while most canned fruits and vegetables are sourced from Thailand, and seafood such as frozen fish and canned tuna comes from Vietnam. Other items are imported from France, the Netherlands, the US and the UK. The diverse options at Al Meera stores include furnishings and home appliances from Vietnam and China. Al Meera recently began dealing with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan for the import of new highquality products, alqahtani said. Al Meera s Azizia branch.
8 8 REGION Rebel rocket fire kills 14 civilians in Yemen city Sanaa Iranbacked rebels in Yemen fired rockets into a residential district of Taez, killing 14 civilians, mostly women and children, officials said yesterday, as battles raged for control of the key city. The bodies of those killed, including seven women and four children, were taken overnight to the morgue at a public hospital in Taez, said the medical officials. Several other civilians were wounded and hospitalised. The Shia Houthi rebels and their allies had fired Katyusha rockets on Sunday targeting the district in central Taez, according to medics and residents. Viewed as the key to controlling the capital Sanaa, Taez has been the scene of deadly fighting between the rebels and loyalists of Yemen s exiled government. Battles in the city, southwest of Sanaa, have intensified in recent weeks as loyalists pressed an offensive in which they have so far recaptured five southern provinces. Progovernment forces claim to control 75% of the city, including the presidential palace and the residence of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh whose supporters are fighting among Houthi ranks. But this could not be confirmed from independent sources. Meanwhile, Saudiled warplanes carried out several strikes yesterday against rebel positions in the province of Marib, east of Sanaa, officials said. One official said up to 53 Houthis were killed in the raids, but there was no independent confirmation of the report. According to the official, a Scudtype missile struck five vehicles and three trucks that were transporting weapons to the rebels, destroying them. The Houthis have seized control of large parts of the country including Sanaa, forcing President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to the southern port city of Aden and then Saudi Arabia. In March, Saudi Arabia launched a coalition that has been carrying out an air war against them. The kingdom, as well as the United Arab Emirates, has also backed progovernment forces with arms and troops. Riyadh accuses Tehran of arming the Houthis, a charge it denies. Britain says Iran sanctions could be lifted next spring British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says he expects Iran and the United States could endorse the deal by October Tehran International sanctions on Iran could start to be lifted as early as spring next year, Britain s foreign minister said yesterday, as Tehran and the West rebuild their ties and potentially open up billions of dollars of trade deals. Six world powers agreed in July to lift sanctions in return for Iran accepting longterm curbs on a nuclear programme that the West suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb. Tehran has always denied seeking nuclear arms. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told he expected Iran and the United States could endorse the deal by October. Combined with Iran meeting its commitments in the deal, that could see the start of trade restrictions being lifted. We could be talking as early as next spring to start to see sanctions lifting off, Hammond said in an interview, referring to the March to May period. A range of restrictions on Iran have been imposed over several decades, dating back to 1979 when Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran. Oilrelated sanctions were imposed by the United States and the European Union in Hammond was speaking a day after he had raised the British flag at a reopening ceremony in the garden of Britain s opulent 19th century embassy in Tehran a building which still bears the scars of a 2011 ransacking by protesters which put a deep freeze on diplomatic relations. Eyeing deals between British firms and Iran, particularly in the oil and financial sectors, Hammond said preparatory work should be done ahead of lifting sanctions so investment can start to flow as soon as the measures are removed. There is very clear pitch here not to wait until then, he said. There are things that can t be done. Investments can t be made, items can t be imported or exported or whatever. But the business negotiation can start to take place well ahead of that. Hammond has previously estimated that $150bn of Iranian assets frozen outside the country would be released by the nuclear deal. That has prompted a flurry of European visits including from German and French ministers. A delegation of senior business leaders flew with Hammond from Britain to Iran, including representatives from Royal Dutch Shell, energy and mining services company Amec Foster Wheeler and Scottish industrial engineering firm Weir Group. Underscoring the tentative nature of the rapprochement, Hammond said Britain still had fundamental differences with Iran over the longrunning conflict in Syria, where Tehran gives support to Syrian President Bashar alassad. The thing we disagree on is the role of one single person, Bashar alassad, in this process, he said. The Iranians take the view that for better or for worse without Assad there cannot be a political process he is the glue that holds much of Syria together. We take a different view: That a man with so much blood on his hands cannot be part of the future of this country. However, Hammond stressed that any form of dialogue between the West and Iran over Syria should be taken as a positive. He said Russia s greater involvement in international talks signalled a new phase in discussions over its Syrian ally and that there was now an opportunity for Iran to seize upon this. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shake hands during their meeting in Tehran yesterday. Rouhani sees nuclear deal fostering better ties Iran s President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that world powers will eventually look back at last month s nuclear deal as a wise precursor to better relations with the Islamic Republic. His remarks came in a meeting with Britain s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who was on the second and final day of a trip to Tehran. The negotiating parties will realise in the future that interaction rather than confrontation with Iran was the right approach, the official Irna news agency quoted Rouhani as saying. We consider this agreement as the start of a move toward creating a better situation in international and regional relations. Hammond said on Sunday that recent strife between Britain and Iran a mob trashed his country s Tehran embassy in 2011 after banking sanctions were announced, forcing its closure were being repaired but it was an evolving process. We have come a long way but let s walk first and try to run later, Hammond told reporters at Iran s foreign ministry. Rouhani echoed that sentiment, alluding yesterday to Britain s historical role in Iran along with the United States it led a coup that toppled Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadegh in Although a nation s historical judgements cannot be changed quickly in a short period of time, we believe that one should not remain in the past. We should look to the future, he said. By moving forward on different political, economic and regional issues we can guarantee longterm trust. Terror trial of 41 Islamists opens in Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi A rare mass trial of 41 radical Islamists accused of seeking to overthrow the government and links with terrorists opened yesterday in the United Arab Emirates, official media reported. Wam news agency said the hearing at the state security court in Abu Dhabi was devoted to procedural measures, including the appointment of lawyers. The judge then adjourned the trial to September 28. Earlier this month, the prosecutor general accused the defendants, who include both Emiratis and foreigners, of plotting attacks aimed at trying to seize power and establish a caliphate. He also accused them of creating a group with a terrorist, takfiri (extremist) ideology. The Islamic State group, which has set up a caliphate on territory it has captured in Syria and Iraq, follows the takfiri ideology, as does Al Qaeda. It was not immediately clear if the 41 suspects were accused of links to either group. However, the prosecutor has said they were in touch with foreign terrorist organisations... to help them achieve their goal. The defendants could face the death penalty if found guilty. They are also accused of setting up cells to train members in handling weapons and explosives in preparation for attacks in the UAE. Authorities reported their arrest on August 2 and prosecutors immediately levelled the accusations against them and said they would face trial. Such mass trials on terrorism charges are rare in the UAE which has largely been spared the Islamic militancy that has hit other Arab states. The UAE is part of a USled coalition that has been carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria since September last year. The Gulf state has upped security measures in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. In July, it adopted tougher antiterror legislation and introduced the death penalty for crimes linked to religious hatred and takfiri groups. These measures were taken a week after an Emirati woman convicted of the murder of a US schoolteacher was put to death by firing squad in a rare execution approved by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed alnahyan. Bahrain activist pleads not guilty Manama A prominent Sunni opposition leader in Bahrain pleaded not guilty yesterday at the opening of his new trial for promoting political change through forceful means, judicial sources in Manama said. Addressing the Higher Criminal Court, Ibrahim Sharif said the charges against him were based on assumptions and not facts. Sharif, who headed the secular Waed party, was freed on June 19 after spending four years in jail over his involvement in 2011 Shialed antigovernment protests. But he was rearrested three weeks later for violating the law. The activist is accused of promoting violent disorder in a direct attempt to undermine stability in the kingdom and overthrow the regime, in addition to other charges. The next hearing will take place on October 12. Sharif played a prominent role in the monthlong protests in 2011 and was later among a group of 20 activists tried for plotting to overthrow the rulers of Bahrain. Opposition sources say the activist was taken back to prison after he criticised the government during a ceremony for a victim of the unrest that has rocked the kingdom. Also yesterday, the main Shia opposition bloc, Al Wefaq, slammed accusations by authorities that its member, former lawmaker Sheikh Isa Hasan, is financing terrorism. Bahraini authorities said in a statement on the official BNA news agency that the exmp was arrested on August 18 after returning from Iran which the kingdom accuses of fuelling unrest on its soil. He was being held on charges related to financing terrorism among terrorist fugitives and others who are associated in terrorist acts, the interior ministry said. Policeman hurt in Jeddah shooting A Saudi policeman was wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a patrol in Jeddah before escaping in their vehicle, state media said yesterday. The shooting occurred on Sunday night, and the wounded patrol commander was in stable condition, the official SPA news agency reported, citing a police statement.
9 ARAB WORLD 9 Activists press on with Beirut battle against political class You Stink organiser Marwan Maalouf says the campaign is now fighting for three causes: a resolution to the trash crisis, freedom of expression and police accountability Beirut Activists in Lebanon vowed yesterday to press ahead with protests over a trash crisis that have become an outlet for deeprooted, broadbased frustration over political stagnation, corruption, and crumbling infrastructure. At a news conference in Beirut, organisers of the You Stink campaign called for a new protest on Saturday against Lebanon s corrupt political class. Prime Minister Tammam Salam called an extraordinary meeting of the fragmented cabinet for this morning to discuss the catastrophic issue of waste disposal. In a rare example of nonpartisan action, thousands of people massed in central Beirut at the weekend to demand not only an end to the rubbish problem, but also a political overhaul and even the government s resignation. On both Saturday and Sunday, protests that began peacefully descended into violence, with security forces using teargas and water cannons against demonstrators. Yesterday, You Stink organiser Marwan Maalouf said the campaign was now fighting for three causes: a resolution to the trash crisis, freedom of expression and police accountability. In the beginning, this was a battle over the trash issue... But now there is a general battle against the political class, he said. Maalouf did not specify a location for Saturday s demonstration. Earlier yesterday, security forces erected concrete blast walls at the weekend s protest sites. Environment Minister Mohamed Mashnuq announced yesterday that six new companies would be responsible for waste management, but declined to say where the refuse would be dumped. Most of the companies awarded contracts are believed to have ties to prominent Lebanese political figures. Maalouf called the new contracts theft of public money. Lebanon s trash crisis began after the government failed to find a replacement for the country s largest landfill, which closed on July 17 and left trash piling up in and around Beirut. But at the weekend s protests, the largest so far, demonstrators also said they were angry about decades of electricity and water outages, unemployment, political stagnation and corruption. People are on the streets because they feel that at every level there is no one there for them, said Maha Yahya, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Centre think tank. It s an alarm bell for all the political leadership, Yahya said. The weekend demonstrations were a rare example of nonpartisan action on a social issue. While Lebanon s many politicians can reliably turn out large numbers of supporters on a given political issue, broadbased protests are less common. Although the demonstrations began peacefully, violence broke out at nightfall, with mostly A woman covers her nose as she walks past a burnt police vehicle and charred remains of objects set on fire on Sunday by protesters near Martyrs Square in downtown Beirut yesterday. young, male protesters throwing water bottles, rocks and fireworks at security forces who responded with teargas and water cannons. Organisers blamed unaffiliated troublemakers and condemned the attacks on police. On Sunday, the prime minister condemned violence against protesters and acknowledged their frustrations. Salam warned that his 18monthold government would become irrelevant if it failed to take action to address the public s concerns. We re heading towards collapse if things continue as they are, he said. Lebanon is no stranger to political instability it has been without a president for more than a year, and Salam s cabinet has been unable to take decisions for months because of political gridlock. Parliament has extended its mandate twice since the last election in The conflict in neighbouring Syria has brought instability and more than 1mn refugees, straining an already overwhelmed infrastructure. In that context, calls for the government s resignation have divided even some protesters, who fear a political void. I m not at all attached to this rotten regime, but if you bring it down, what would you have instead? A chaos that could destroy the country, said Fadia Kiwan, a political science professor at Lebanon Universite Saint Joseph. She said the demonstrators would be better off demanding a proper solution to the trash crisis. Within these limits, these young people could... put new pressure on the government and the political class. Yahya also said the collapse of the government could open the door to a lot more chaos. She said political leaders needed to put public interests above their own for once. I don t know if they re able to do that. Sadr urges followers to join Iraq protests Baghdad Iraq s powerful Shia cleric Moqtada alsadr, whose opinion holds sway over tens of thousands of supporters, called on his followers yesterday to join Friday protests in Baghdad, a move that could risk escalating tensions over government reforms. The capital and many southern cities have witnessed demonstrations in recent weeks calling for the provision of basic services, the trial of corrupt politicians, and the shakeup of a system riddled with graft and incompetence. Sadr s statement is the first direct appeal by a major party leader to participate in the protests, which emerged from anger over power cuts during a sweltering heatwave and have been mostly nonsectarian. The protests and a call by another prominent Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali alsistani, to strike with an iron fist against corruption helped lead Prime Minister Haider alabadi to launch a major reform campaign earlier this month. We announce to all people and to the Sadrists in particular the need to participate in protests this Friday in Baghdad, Sadr said through a televised speech by spokesman Salah alobeidi in Najaf. The Sadrist participants should merge with the other protesters in a single, national Iraqi crucible. He said protesters should unite behind demands for reforming the judiciary and sacking corrupt officials while avoiding personal demands or the display of sectarian banners. Exiled rival calls for ouster of Abbas Jerusalem A prominent rival of President Mahmoud Abbas called for the ouster of the veteran leader yesterday as Palestinians seek to organise a congress for the first time in nearly 20 years. Mohamed Dahlan, once a leading figure in Abbas s Fatah party but now in exile in Dubai, took to his Facebook page to criticise the Palestinian president. His comments came after Abbas resigned on Saturday as head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation s executive committee in a bid to force new elections for the top body. His resignation along with more than half of the 18member committee will only take effect with a meeting of the Palestine National Council. The PNC is a congress of 740 members representing those who live in the Palestinian territories and in the diaspora. It has not met since The opposition saw Abbas s move as a political manoeuvre aimed at empowering his allies and marginalising opponents ahead of the 80yearold s eventual retirement. Dahlan, Fatah s former strongman in Gaza, however said the resignation of Abbas must be accepted and the future congress should declare null and void all decisions by Abbas and his allies because they are illegal. It should also declare the State of Palestine and immediately call presidential and legislative elections, he said. Dahlan was last year convicted in absentia of defamation and sentenced to two years in prison. He risks being jailed if he returns to the Palestinian territories. He fell from grace in June 2007 after the humiliating rout of his forces by Hamas in weeklong street battles that saw the Islamists expel Fatah from the Gaza Strip. School strike in Gaza shuts out 200,000 pupils A strike by teachers and personnel in Gaza kept more than 200,000 children from returning to school for the new term yesterday, as the UN agency that employs them struggles financially. Several thousand teachers, assistants and administrative personnel protested in front of the headquarters of Unrwa, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees. The union for Unrwa staff in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory hit hard by three wars in six years, an Israeli blockade and economic crisis, called for the protest with some employees at risk of losing jobs because of a lack of financing. Out of a population of 1.8mn in Gaza, some 1.26mn are refugees, according to UN figures. Unrwa oversees education for most children some 225,000 in 245 schools. Dozens of schools were damaged and affected by last summer s war between Palestinian militants and Israel. Unrwa, mainly financed by state members of the United Nations, has struggled with money shortages for years. The agency had raised the possibility of delaying the start of the new school term and laying off some staff for a year due to a lack of contributions from international donors. New financial support allowed Unrwa to freeze those plans, but its employees are demanding that they be dropped entirely.
10 10 AFRICA Protesters tortured in Burundi, says Amnesty Nairobi Testimonies recorded by Amnesty in the report accuse both the police and National Intelligence Service (SNR) of carrying out torture and other illtreatment since April 2015 against people suspected of participating in protests against Nkurunziza s controversial reelection bid. Police beat people with electric cables and batons, while the SNR used iron bars, as well as forcing detainees heads under dirty water, said the report, titled Just tell me what to confess to. One man arrested in the central African nation in June showed Amnesty the marks from his treatment, which started with being beaten with iron bars, before he was made to strip naked. They took a fivelitre container full of sand and tied it to my testicles. They left it on me for more than an hour, I fainted, one man told Amnesty, in the report released in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. After I came around, they made me sit in a shallow pool of battery acid... it burned terribly. Burundian journalist Esdras Ndikumana, 54, correspondent of Agence FrancePresse () and Radio France International (RFI), was himself subjected to severe beatings by the SNR for around two hours. His testimony is also included in the report. Detainees were subjected to a pattern of human rights violations: unlawful arrest and detention, torture and other illtreatment, and a lack of access to lawyers, family members and doctors, the report said. None of those interviewed were given access to lawyers or their families during their detention, it said, adding that those interviewed warned that the use of torture was on the rise in the country. Security forces used an array of torture techniques, with victims reporting heavy beatings aimed especially for people s joints, their knees and ankles. Amnesty said it had tried to contact the police and SNR, but had received no response to the report. Nkurunziza s third term has been condemned as unconstitutional by the opposition and provoked months of protests. There has been a string of killings since his reelection, including of his top security chief, assassinated in an ambush last month. Nkurunziza, an exrebel turned bornagain Christian who believes he is in power by divine choice, was sworn into office last week. After taking the oath of office, he warned rebels they would be crushed by God. They will be scattered like flour thrown into the air as the God of heaven is a witness, the Burundians will be at peace, he said. Others said they had been threatened to make confessions. They told me if you don t confess, we ll kill you, one man told Amnesty. But I said How can I confess when I know nothing you ll have to just tell me what to confess to. Pistorius shot our daughter deliberately: Steenkamps UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon bows after laying a wreath in Abuja yesterday in memory of those who died in the 2011 bombing of United Nations House by Boko Haram. Ban marks Boko Haram attack on UN in Nigeria Twentyfour people died when a bombladen car exploded at UN House, the headquarters for around 400 employees, on August 26, 2011 Abuja UN chief Ban Kimoon yesterday hailed Nigeria s greater stability and peace under its new leader as he commemorated a deadly attack on the global body by Boko Haram militants. The secretary general hugged relatives of the victims of the 2011 bombing as he laid a wreath at United Nations House in the capital Abuja and praised the extraordinary fortitude and determination of the survivors. Our fallen colleagues and partners will be remembered this morning with a moment of silence in many places, he said. But nowhere are the memories of these colleagues more immediate, more vivid and more compelling than here in Abuja. We will remember them forever as truly the best of humanity. Twentyfour people died when a bombladen car exploded at UN House, the headquarters for around 400 employees, on August 26, Radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, blamed for the deaths of at least 15,000 people during a sixyearinsurgency, mainly in the country s northeast, claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorists attacked the United Nations and destroyed the lives of many colleagues. But we have a mandate to build. To better the lives of people in need, Ban said. Ban met President Muhammadu Buhari after the ceremony, congratulating Nigeria on staging free and fair elections and saying he recognised the country s greater stability and peace under its new leader. For the first time in Nigeria s history, a sitting president peacefully ceded power to an opposition candidate in a democratic election, he told a news conference after the meeting. The election sent a strong global message of respect for democracy and the rule of law. Ban said he and Buhari had discussed development, human rights and peace and security, including the troubling levels of violence and terror perpetrated by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria and beyond. I express my strong solidarity with the Nigerian people and government and with affected families and victims, he told reporters. I express my solidarity again with the Nigerian people and that the United Nations will work together in countering extremism and terrorism. Ban arrived in Abuja on Sunday, just hours after the military revealed suspected Boko Haram fighters had ambushed a convoy carrying Nigeria s army chiefofstaff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai. The officer was unharmed but one soldier and 10 militants died in the ensuing firefight, in Faljari village, east of Borno State capital Maiduguri, according to army spokesman Sani Usman. Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks in Borno and two neighbouring states in its northeastern heartland since Buhari came to power on May 29. The Islamists have also carried out deadly ambushes across Nigeria s borders and in recent weeks suicide bombers, many of them women, have staged several attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. The fresh wave of violence has claimed more than 1,000 lives over the last three months, dealing a setback to a fourcountry offensive launched in February that had chalked up a number of victories against the militants. An 8,700strong MultiNational Joint Task Force, drawing in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, is expected to go into action soon. Buhari has vowed to destroy Boko Haram, and replaced his military leaders earlier in August, ordering his new chiefsofstaff to end the militant bloodshed within three months. The military under his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan was heavily criticised for poor handling of the insurgency and its failure to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok in April last year. The Bring Back Our Girls campaign marks 500 days on Thursday since the girls were captured. I want to reiterate my support for the Chibok girls, and so many other innocent abducted girls and boys, whose names and fate remain unknown, Ban said. It is intolerable that their lives and schooling has been disrupted in this way. The whole world has been moved by their fate. Agencies Johannesburg Oscar Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp deliberately, her parents said, ahead of an appeal hearing in which prosecutors are seeking to overturn a South African court ruling that the athlete was not guilty of murder. It was the first time Steenkamp s parents have spoken out against the court s verdict. Pistorius, 28, was found guilty last September of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, after judge Thokozile Masipa said state prosecutors had failed to prove the Paralympic gold medallist had shown intent to kill. The state argued throughout the sixmonth trial that Pistorius had deliberately killed Steenkamp when he fired four rounds through a locked toilet door where she was hiding after a row. Pistorius says he believed an intruder was inside the toilet cubicle. Prosecutors filed an appeal last week asking for the verdict to be changed to murder. They argue Pistorius must have known when he fired that the person behind the door could be killed, even if he did not know it was Steenkamp. The appeal hearing is due to start in November. What actually came out in court is not the truth, Barry Steenkamp told Australia s Channel Seven television in an interview aired yesterday. He got angry, she went off to the toilet, locked herself inside, and then him pulling out the gun and shooting. June Steenkamp adds: Why didn t he just let her walk away? Pistorius, nicknamed the Blade Runner because of the carbonfibre prosthetics he used during his career on the track, was due to be released from prison last Friday after serving 10 months of his fiveyear sentence. Justice Minister Michael Masutha blocked his release because he said the decision was made without legal basis, an intervention the Pistorius family said left them shocked and disappointed. The decision has been returned to the parole board for reconsideration, which could take up to four months. Steenkamp s parents have said previously they were unhappy with the court s sentencing but this is the first time they have publicly questioned the verdict. If convicted of murder, Pistorius will likely be given a custodial sentence of at least 15 years. A South African court yesterday convicted a notorious Czech national, Radovan Krejcir, of kidnapping and attempted murder, after a trial that exposed the country s underworld dealings. The charges related to the kidnapping and torture of a man in 2013, in what was described as a drug deal that went wrong. Krejcir was accused of ordering the kidnapping of Bheki Lukhele, whose brother disappeared with a stash of crystal meth destined for Australia. The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg heard that Lukhele was assaulted and had boiling water poured over his head by Krejcir. The torture was meant to force the man to reveal the whereabouts of his brother. According to a News 24 report, judge Colin Lamont said he accepted Lukhele s evidence that he was assaulted by Krejcir. The Czech, who pleaded not guilty, faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for attempted murder. Krejcir has been seen as a kingpin in Johannesburg s organised crime scene, with a number of people associated with him having been killed in recent years. He still faces three other criminal charges, including one of murdering a Lebanese national, according to local media reports. Prior to his arrest, the shadowy Czech had been fighting an attempt by South African authorities to have him extradited to the Czech Republic, where he is wanted for several crimes including tax fraud. Bail for Kenya ivory kingpin is suspended Nairobi A court in Kenya yesterday suspended the release on bail of a suspected ringleader of an ivory smuggling gang following an appeal by government prosecutors. Kenyan national Feisal Mohamed Ali, who figured on an Interpol list of the nine most wanted suspects linked to crimes against the environment, was arrested by international police agents in Tanzania in December after fleeing Kenya and was extradited to face charges in the port city of Mombasa. In March, bail was granted on medical grounds, but Kenyan prosecutors successfully appealed that decision at the High Court. On Friday, magistrate Davis Karani again granted him 10 million shilling ($96,900) bail, but that was again suspended yesterday. Prosecutor Alexander Muteti repeated his argument that Ali was a flight risk. Mohamed fled from justice when he knew he was being sought for, Muteti told the court. The next ruling on the bail application is scheduled for tomorrow. Ali is charged with possession of and dealing in elephant tusks weighing more than two tonnes equivalent to at least 114 slaughtered elephants and worth an estimated $4.5mn. Prosecutors allege he is a key player in the organised crime network stretching from African parks to Asian markets, where demand for ivory is high. He has denied all charges. The haul was discovered by Kenyan police in June 2014 when they raided a car dealership in Mombasa, after which Ali fled to Tanzania. Animal rights activists demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court in Nairobi yesterday, protesting against an August 21 Mombasa court ruling granting bail to suspected ivory smuggler Feisal Mohamed Ali. GuineaBissau s new PM fires radio, TV chiefs GuineaBissau s new Prime Minister Baciro Dja yesterday sacked the chiefs of the stateowned radio and television services for bias in their reporting of a recent government shakeup. Dja was appointed last week after President Jose Mario Vaz fired his predecessor Domingos Simoes Pereira, angering the ruling party and plunging the chronically unstable nation into fresh crisis. While all three men belong to the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) which holds a slender majority in parliament it has fallen behind its leader Pereira in the dispute. Dja, 39, a former minister and government spokesman, has yet to name the members of his cabinet, but swiftly announced the sacking of radio and television chiefs Muniro Conte and Paula Mielo for their biased treatment of the political crisis, in a statement.
11 AMERICAS 11 Victims tell of wrecked lives at Colorado movie gunman s sentencing Centennial, Colorado Sobbing victims told how the Colorado movie massacre gunman wrecked their lives, testifying yesterday a threeday hearing began at which James Holmes will be formally sentenced to life in prison with no parole. There s no replacement for my brother, and no amount of justice will make up for the loss, said Megan Sullivan, her voice choked with emotion. Holmes showed no reaction as she and a procession of other victims addressed the court. She described how she became an only child after Holmes murdered Alex Sullivan, saying that life without her sibling was not what it s supposed to be. Holmes was found guilty last month of murdering 12 people and wounding 70 in his July 2012 rampage in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Prosecutors have said about 100 victims are expected to testify at this hearing. They cannot address Holmes directly. The jury did not reach a unanimous decision to execute Holmes for shooting up a crowded midnight screening of a Batman film, meaning the 27yearold will get a life sentence. While Holmes firstdegree murder convictions carry 12 consecutive life sentences with no parole, under Colorado law Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour must formally impose the penalties. Holmes was found guilty of 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and explosive charges, and the judge must also decide the punishment for those other offences. The onetime neuroscience graduate student had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty. After the victim impact testimony, lead prosecutor George Brauchler will present his sentencing argument. Defence lawyers can present mitigation evidence on the attempted murder convictions, but it is unclear if they will do so. It is also unknown whether Holmes will make a statement. He declined to speak in his own defence throughout the trial. Postvacation Obama busy on energy, Iran Washington President Barack Obama, fresh from vacation and nine rounds of golf on Martha s Vineyard, is launching into a busy two weeks promoting renewable energy and his nuclear deal with Iran. With the US presidential election campaign and China s stock market dominating headlines, Obama was set to speak in Las Vegas on clean energy, then travel to New Orleans on Thursday to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. As he stepped off Air Force One in Washington on Sunday night, savouring the last moments of family time, Obama held the hand of eldest daughter Malia, who will soon start her final year of high school in Washington. The last 16 months of Obama s presidency will likely be overshadowed by the 2016 presidential campaign and while Congress does not appear willing to tackle difficult issues, Obama has a todo list. Canada s Harper tries to use market turmoil as election campaign tool Ottawa At Senator Harry Reid s National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Obama will promote steps that the White House announced yesterday to try to shift US energy away from carbonproducing sources such as coal and toward renewables such as solar. The steps, taken as executive actions, include increased loan guarantees for renewable energy developers and help for homeowners with solar power installations. Taking his climate change message further afield, Obama will leave on August 31 for a fourday trip to Alaska to focus on the effects of a warming climate on the Arctic. Back in Washington, Congress will not return from its long summer vacation for two more weeks. When it does, lawmakers will have until September 17 to act on a USled international deal backed by Obama to limit Iran s nuclear capabilities in exchange for easing economic sanctions. Obama has built support for the agreement in the Senate. Harper: said that the policies of his two opponents would be damaging because they would be paid for by tax hikes and deficits. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper seized on global stock market turmoil yesterday to argue that voters should stick with his Conservative government in the October 19 election, warning that the policies of his opponents would be dangerous for the economy. Harper s ruling rightofcentre Conservatives seeking a rare fourth consecutive mandate have long prided themselves on their handling of the economy, though the country is teetering on recession due in large part to low oil prices. Recent surveys have suggested the party is neckandneck with the New Democrats and the Liberals, and could well lose its majority in the House of Commons. Asked about stock markets currently hit hard by bad news from China, Harper said that the policies of his two opponents Obama holds hands with his daughter Malia as the Obama family disembark Air Force One upon their return to Washington after a twoweek vacation on Martha s Vineyard. On Sunday, it won the endorsement of Reid, the Democrats leader in the Senate. Yesterday Democratic Senator to the left of him on the political spectrum would be damaging because they would be paid for by tax hikes and deficits. This is a ridiculous and very Debbie Stabenow also came out in favour of it. In coming weeks, the White House was also expected to send dangerous position for the Canadian economy, he told a televised news conference in Drummondville, Quebec. Harper said that Canada had solid economic fundamentals, low debt and stable banks and should stick to Conservative policies designed to cut taxes and boost growth. The government, he added, had a range of tools it could use in case of much more serious circumstances. He did not give details. Harper also happened to be on the campaign trail during the 2008 economic crash, when he was pilloried for saying he saw some great buying opportunities. Canada escaped much of the financial crisis intact, due in part to its regulatory system and conservative banks. Asked whether felt the same to Congress a plan for transitioning detainees out of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. way about the current downturn, Harper declined to comment directly. Ottawa s balance sheet has been hurt by a collapse in the price of oil, which is more than 60% lower than it was in June Thomas Mulcair, leader of the leftleaning New Democrats, said that Harper had made a big mistake by betting crude prices would stay high and promoting policies that favoured increased oil extraction. It would be very difficult to do worse than Mr Harper... he managed our economy very poorly, he said in Toronto. Asked how he would handle the economy, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said that Canada needed a plan for growth that involved targeted investments, tax breaks and more spending on infrastructure. China, the Fed, Obama blamed for stocks rout Washington As China s stockmarket plunge spread to the United States, presidential candidates laid on blame and pushed their policy ideas from the sidelines, with Republican Donald Trump saying that he had warned about US exposure to China. I ve been talking about China for years. Because China s going bad it s going to bring us down, too, because we re so heavily coupled with China, said realestate mogul Trump on Fox News. I m the one that says you better start uncoupling from China because China s got problems. Trump also pointed a finger at hedge funds and said that if he were elected president in 2016 he would raise taxes on the wealthy and specifically target those working in highstakes finance. The rhetoric was reminiscent of the final months of the 2008 presidential election, when Republican nominee John McCain suspended his campaign in reaction to the massive financial crisis. The lack of new measures from Beijing to support Chinese stocks following an 11% drop last week sparked a freefall in global equities and a selloff in oil and commodities. Wall Street s rout continued yesterday, with the Dow Jones Index down more than 1,000 points, or about 6%, shortly after the open. Following Trump on Fox News, fellow Republican candidate and former Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina said she had expected a market correction for some time. The market has been way too high, given the fundamentals. Our economy is not particularly strong 2% growth is very lackluster. China s economy has been slowing down for some time. Europe s economy is in trouble, she said. But Fiorina mostly blamed the Federal Reserve. I think the stock market has hit record highs over and over again because the Federal Reserve has ensured, through Trump: China s going bad it s going to bring us down, too, because we re so heavily coupled with China. Fiorina: the stock market has hit record highs over and over again because the Federal Reserve has ensured, through its easymoney policy, that the stock market is the only place you can earn a return. Christie: the government under Obama had borrowed too much. its easymoney policy, that the stock market is the only place you can earn a return, she said. I think this is warranted honestly. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, also a Republican candidate, told Fox News that the government under President Barack Obama had borrowed too much and with China a major buyer of US debt a market correction in the Asian superpower is going to have an even greater effect because this president doesn t know how to say no to spending. What you need to do in the Oval Office is rein this government in. Stop running up so much debt, he said. Two unconfirmed suicides believed related to Ashley Madison hacking Toronto At least two people may have committed suicide following the hacking of the Ashley Madison cheating website, Toronto police said yesterday, warning of a ripple effect that includes scams and extortion of clients desperate to stop the exposure of their infidelity. Avid Life Media, the parent company of the website, is offering a C$500,000 ($379,132) reward to catch the hackers. In addition to the exposure of the Ashley Madison accounts of as many as 37mn users, the attack on the dating website for married people has sparked extortion attempts and at least two unconfirmed suicides, Toronto Police Acting Staff Superintendent Bryce Evans told a news conference. The data dump contained addresses of US government officials, UK civil servants, and workers at European and North American corporations, taking already deepseated fears about Internet security and data protection to a new level. Your actions are illegal and will not be tolerated. This is your wakeup call, Evans said, addressing the socalled Impact Team hackers directly during the news conference. To the hacking community who engage in discussions on the dark web and who no doubt have information that could assist this investigation, we re also appealing to you to do the right thing, Evans said. You know The homepage of the Ashley Madison website is displayed on an ipad, in this photo illustration taken in Ottawa in this July 21 file photo. At least two suicides may be connected to the hacking of the Ashley Madison cheating website that exposed the information of clients, and its parent company is offering a C$500,000 ($379,132) reward to catch the hackers, Toronto police said. the Impact Team has crossed the line. Do the right thing and reach out to us. Police declined to provide any more details on the apparent suicides, saying that they received unconfirmed reports yesterday morning. The social impact behind this (hacking) we re talking about families. We re talking about their children, we re talking about their wives, we re talking about their male partners, Evans told reporters. It s going to have impacts on their lives. We re now going to have hate crimes that are a result of this. There are so many things that are happening. The reality is... this is not the fun and games that has been portrayed. The investigation into the hacking has broadened to include international law enforcement, with the US Department of Homeland Security joining last week. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Canadian federal and provincial police are also assisting. Evans also said the hacking has spawned online scams that fraudulently claim to be able to protect Ashley Madison clients data for a fee. People are also attempting to extort Ashley Madison clients by threatening to send evidence of their membership directly to friends, family or colleagues, Evans said. In a sign of Ashley Madison s deepening woes following the breach, lawyers last week launched a classaction lawsuit seeking some $760mn in damages on behalf of Canadians whose information was leaked. Evans said Avid Life first became aware of the breach on July 12, when several employees booted up their computers and received a message from the infiltrators accompanied by the playing of rock group AC/DC s Thunderstruck. The company went to police several days later, he said, while the hackers went public on July 20. Jennifer Lawrence is highest paid Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence on Thursday topped a Forbes list of the world s highestpaid actresses, earning some $52mn in the past year but still far behind the bestpaid actor. Lawrence, who won an Oscar in 2013 for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, also had income for being the face of French fashion and beauty company Dior but her combined earnings came nowhere close to the estimated $80mn of Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. He topped Forbes list this month of the highest paid male actors. Lawrence, 25, made headlines last year when hacked Sony Pictures s revealed she earned a lower cut of profits from the movie American Hustle than her male counterparts. Forbes noted that only four of the women on this year s highestpaid list, which takes into account earnings from movies, television, endorsements and other sources, made more than $20mn while 21 male actors reached that level.
12 12 ASEAN Thailand mourns bomb victims one week on Bangkok Candlebearing mourners gathered yesterday at a Bangkok shrine a week after a bomb killed 20 people there, as Thailand s police chief said the investigation has been hampered by broken security cameras and other factors. The bombing at the Erawan shrine in the capital s commercial heart was Thailand s worst single masscasualty attack, but the trail is growing increasingly cold. The main suspect is an unidentified man in a yellow Tshirt seen on CCTV placing a rucksack under a bench at the shrine minutes before the blast. He is still on the run, with police publicly no nearer to naming him or his motivation. Late yesterday, monks dressed in saffron robes led prayers at the small streetside shrine. Around 100 mourners some carrying lit candles in paper cups observed a minute s silence at 6.55pm the exact time the bomb went off on August 17 and caused carnage. Many of the dead were Asian tourists. Scores of other people were wounded. I feel sad, the sadness has stayed with me, Nopparat Jantawisut, 68, told. The people who died here came with good hearts to make merit but the result was the opposite. The city remains jittery, with the bomber on the run and rumours and even bomb hoaxes abounding. Earlier national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said his officers were working at full capacity with no rest. But he added that the investigation has been hampered by many issues such as the fact that the majority of the city s security cameras were not working. Sometimes there might be 20 CCTV cameras on a road but only five of them work, he told reporters. Another 15 might be broken for whatever reason. Police also say they lack modern facial recognition technology to decipher who the bomber is from the grainy security camera footage. Somyot is under intense pressure from both the public and the ruling junta to catch the perpetrators of an attack that sent shockwaves through the vital tourist sector. Although residents have tried to Sitting Rohingya MP prepares to appeal Myanmar election ban Yangon A Rohingya member of Myanmar s parliament barred from contesting the November 8 elections on the basis that his parents were not Myanmar citizens at the time of his birth said yesterday he would appeal the decision and hoped to stand in the vote. The move to deny Shwe Maung, an MP from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), a chance to run despite People light candles for victims during a march to the Erawan shrine in Bangkok yesterday. get on with their lives, tensions remain high. Police are convinced the main suspect, who has been named in an arrest warrant as foreign, must have had help from a network, likely involving some Thais. But Somyot said he was no nearer knowing whether he had fled the country or not. I say that I believe he is still in Thailand because I don t have information to confirm otherwise, he said. being a serving member of government raises concerns about the disenfranchisement of the Rohingya Muslim minority. Most of Myanmar s 1.1mn Rohingya, an ethnic minority living in the country s western Rakhine State, are stateless and live in apartheidlike conditions. Almost 140,000 were displaced in deadly clashes in Rakhine in Shwe Maung, who planned to run as an independent after not being nominated by the USDP, said that he was informed by state officials on Saturday that his application had Security footage has played a role in tracking some of the key suspect s movements. Cameras have picked him up arriving at the shrine via a threewheeled tuktuk taxi, leaving the bag and then departing on a motorbike taxi south towards the Silom area of Bangkok. After that he disappears from view. Police have interviewed the motorbike drivers, with Somyot adding that DNA tests had been carried out on 20 baht notes been turned down. It s ridiculous for me, Shwe Maung said. I was elected in Now I m working. According to Shwe Maung, both of his parents were citizens prior to his birth in 1965 and his father served as a member of the Myanmar Police Force. Rakhine State election officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. Shwe Maung has represented the majoritymuslim Buthidaung constituency located in Northern Rakhine State near the country s border with Bangladesh since being elected as an MP in that the suspect may have used. The police chief said he was also hoping for technical help from other countries which might have computer equipment that can quickly search large amounts of CCTV footage, as well as make the picture more clear. He said a number of countries had offered help but some of their equipment did not work with the Thai systems. Other nations had been sent evidence but had yet to get back with their findings. Since 2012, when violence swept across Rakhine, he has been an outspoken advocate for the Rohingya and called for greater citizenship rights for the group. Even if he is able to stand in November s election seen as a test of the country s reforms process he faces an uphill battle for reelection. Many of the people who voted for Shwe Maung in 2010 held temporary citizenship documents, more commonly known as white cards. But the white cards were nullified by President Thein Sein under Last week junta chief Prayut ChanOCha publicly bristled at any suggestions Thailand might ask for foreign investigators, though he has said he is open to technical advice from overseas. A sketch of the main suspect has been widely circulated and bounties totalling more than $300,000 have been offered for his arrest, prompting a flood of enquiries and amateur sleuthing. But Somyot said 90% of calls from the public turned out to be false leads. pressure from hardline Buddhists in February. The majority of white card holders were Rohingya. Some former white card holders have been offered new citizenship documents. But earlier this month, Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said that she was informed by the country s election commission chair that those who received these new documents would be banned from the vote. Lee said that the decision was of serious concern. Thai court again indicts acquitted British activist Bangkok A Thai court yesterday indicted a British labour rights activist in a case linked to a report he coauthored alleging severe labour abuses in Thailand s food industry, a key supplier to Western supermarkets. Andy Hall, 34, had previously been acquitted by a court last year on a defamation charge pursued by Thailand s Attorney General. But Natural Fruit, the company at the heart of the dispute, has filed a string of its own criminal and civil cases against Hall, the most serious of which was accepted yesterday. We have learnt that the Southern Criminal Court has agreed to hear the case against Andy Hall for defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act, Hall s defence lawyer Nakhon Chomphuchat told. Hall has been ordered to appear in court on October 19 for a plea hearing, Nakhon added, with the court expected to decide today whether he gets bail. The labour activist, who is based in Thailand, faces up to seven years in jail if convicted. Both Thailand s criminal defamation and computer misuse laws have been criticised by rights groups for their broad wording and the ease with which they can be used to stifle investigative work. Hall coauthored a 2013 report centred on working conditions at a Natural Fruit factory in southern Thailand levelling accusations of forced and child labour, unlawfully low wages and long hours. Titled Cheap Has a High Price and published by the Finnish civil rights group Finnwatch, the report redoubled scrutiny of Thailand s food industry which has faced years of allegations of mistreatment of its mainly migrant labour force. Natural Fruit, a major supplier to the European drink market, has denied the allegations in Hall s report and launched a slew of court cases against the Briton, including a civil case seeking $10mn in damages. The company was unavailable yesterday for comment. Thailand s Attorney General is also appealing last year s acquittal. Hall stands by his research and has accused the company of trying to detract from the report s damning findings through legal action. I am confident of being cleared of all these ridiculous charges, Hall told after the indictment, adding this is plain and simple judicial harassment. In a statement Finnwatch executive director Sonja Vartiala described the court case as a saga of intimidation already lasting 30 months aimed at nothing but gagging a human rights defender. Thailand has long turned to migrants from poorer neighbours Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to help keep major industries afloat, from seafood and food processing to construction. The junta has launched a crackdown on the fishing industry after the European Union this year threatened to place the kingdom under an export ban unless more was done to tackle abuses in the crucial sector. Vietnam makes huge ivory haul Customs officers in Vietnam have seized more than two tonnes of elephant tusks, eight days after confiscating an ivory shipment weighing nearly a ton of elephant tusks and rhinoceros horn, authorities said yesterday. The estimated $4.4mn worth of ivory was disguised as logs and hidden within a shipment of timber from Nigeria. The cargo was posted to the same company listed as the receiver for nearly a ton of elephant tusks and rhinoceros horn from Mozambique that was discovered on August 13, said Ho Xuan Tam, Da Nang Customs Department spokesman. Company officials have denied wrongdoing. The poaching of elephants and rhinoceros and the trafficking of their tusks and horns are outlawed under international efforts to protect endangered species. But the illicit trade from Africa to Asia has grown with rising prosperity creating demand in Vietnam and China. While elephant ivory is valued for its aesthetic appeal, folk superstitions prize rhino horn for its supposed medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities. A single gram of ground rhino horn possesses a street value of $133. Rhino killings reached a record 1,215 last year, 10 times the number killed in 2009, according to the conservation group WildAid. Khmer Rouge first lady funeral draws hundreds Phnom Penh Hundreds of former Khmer Rouge cadres yesterday attended the funeral of the onetime first lady of the murderous Cambodian regime, but victims expressed sadness she would now escape justice. Between people attended religious rites and prayers for Ieng Thirith, who was charged but never fully prosecuted for crimes against humanity by a UNbacked tribunal. She died on Saturday aged 83. Her trial in 2012 for genocide and crimes against humanity was suspended due to ill health. The body was cremated late yesterday in Pailin, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold on the Thai border where many regime leaders settled after they were ousted by a Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in Ieng Thirith was among only a handful of people ever brought to court over atrocities during the Khmer Rouge era. The suspension of her trial was a bitter blow to many who survived the regime, which killed up to 2mn people by starvation, overwork or outright execution. She had been held under judicial supervision from the suspension of her trial until her death, and the charges against her were never dropped. People still respect and love her, Sok Nguon, 65, a former Khmer Rouge fighter attending the funeral, told by telephone. We came to see her off for the final time. I pray for her to be freed from any sins. Ieng Thirith, the sisterinlaw of late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, served as the regime s social affairs minister alongside her husband, thenforeign minister Ieng Sary. The couple, along with Pol Pot and his wife Khieu Ponnary, became the ideological centre of an ultramaoist movement that unleashed unprecedented destruction in the late 1970s. Ieng Sary, with whom she had four children, died in 2013 aged 87 before a verdict was delivered in his trial. Her death dismayed some victims of a regime which between wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia s population in an attempt to create a communist agrarian utopia. During the Pol Pot regime, there were no funerals for those who died, but there is a funeral for her this is another injustice, said Norng Chan Phal, 46, who lost his parents at Phnom Penh s notorious Tuol Sleng prison. Now she has escaped from her crimes. Family ties helped Ieng Thirith reach the upper echelons of power in a murderous totalitarian regime that tore children from parents and husbands from wives and emptied cities by driving residents into the countryside. A small number of top Khmer Rouge leaders have been convicted, including Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, 88, and exhead of state Khieu Samphan, 83. The pair are also undergoing a second trial at the UNbacked tribunal for genocide, centred on the killing of ethnic Vietnamese and Muslim minorities, forced marriage and rape. Brother Number One Pol Pot died in 1998 without ever facing justice. In March the court charged three more former Khmer Rouge members with crimes against humanity, ignoring warnings by strongman Cambodian premier Hun Sen a midranking regime cadre before he defected that further prosecutions risked reigniting conflict. A tourist walks past a portrait of late Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Thirith at the Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh.
13 AUSTRALASIA/EAST ASIA 13 Park vows no retreat in standoff with North Seoul South Korean soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge, which leads to the truce village Panmunjom, just south of the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, yesterday. South Korea s president vowed no retreat yesterday in a tense military standoff with North Korea, and insisted Pyongyang apologise as the two rivals struggled to negotiate their way out of the crisis. With gruelling talks between top negotiators from both sides well into a third day at the border truce village of Panmunjom, Park Geunhye s hardline stance underlined the challenge they face in striking a mutually acceptable deal. The North must make a clear apology for landmine blasts this month that maimed two patrolling South Korean soldiers, Park said in televised comments to a meeting of senior aides. Otherwise, she added, Seoul would continue the highdecibel propaganda broadcasts across the border that have infuriated the North and prompted threats of concerted military strikes by its army. The current standoff has already triggered a rare exchange of artillery fire, with both sides ramping up the military rhetoric and flexing their weaponry. There will be no retreat in the face of North Korean threats, Park said, promising stern retaliation for any further provocation. Park has maintained a strong line on not appeasing North Korea since she came to office, and will push back hard against any compromise that might be seen as rewarding its behaviour. The talks that began on Saturday in Panmunjom between top aides to both countries leaders have so far failed to thrash out a mutually acceptable way to calm the situation, despite two allnight sessions. The North has denied any role in the recent mine blasts and analysts say it will never accede to the apology demand. And President Park knows that, of course, said Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University South Korean President Park Geunhye speaks during a senior secretary meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul. of North Korean Studies in Seoul. Both sides are really just trying to ramp up pressure on the other, looking for an upper hand in what are clearly very tough negotiations, Yang said. Pyongyang also appeared to be seeking greater leverage, with the South s defence ministry saying the North had doubled the number of its artillery units at the border and put twothirds of its 70strong submarine fleet to sea. The North is adopting a twofaced stance with the talks going on, said a Seoul defence ministry spokesman, who described the scale of the submarine deployment as unprecedented. The crisis is being eyed with mounting concern by neighbouring countries and beyond, with China and Japan calling for restraint and UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Kimoon urging both sides to redouble their efforts to reach a compromise. Meanwhile, the US, which has nearly 30,000 troops permanently stationed in South Korea, has pledged its commitment to the defence of its key Asian ally. Seoul and Washington are reviewing the possible deployment of strategic US military assets on the peninsula, the South Korean defence ministry said, without elaborating. Technically, the two Koreas have been at war for the past 65 years since the Korean War ended with a ceasefire that was never ratified by a formal peace treaty. The talks in Panmunjom, where the Korean War ceasefire was signed, are being led by South Korean national security adviser Kim KwanJin and his North Korean counterpart Hwang PyongSo a close confidant of leader Kim JongUn. Their marathon sessions reflected the inherent difficulties of finding a facesaving end to the standoff. Any resolution of issues now on the table will require a bold decision from their leaders, said Yang MooJin, who nevertheless expressed a degree of optimism. The fact that they are still talking shows a genuine determination to get something out of this the only question is what, he said. Despite the uncertainty, the crisis has failed to generate any real panic among ordinary South Koreans, who have become largely inured over the years to the North s regular and regularly unrealised threats of imminent war. Nevertheless, thousands of civilians living on frontline border islands or near military propaganda units have spent much of the past three days in underground shelters as a preventive measure. And the South Korean embassy in Beijing issued a rare travel warning yesterday, advising its citizens not to travel to regions in China close to the North Korean border. Beijing to move more polluting industries to smoghit Hebei Beijing China s capital Beijing will relocate more of its polluting industries into the already smoghit neighbouring province of Hebei as part of a plan to integrate the regions by the end of the next decade, the government said. China is hoping to break down administrative barriers between Beijing, Hebei and the nearby port city of Tianjin in order to resolve longstanding problems like pollution, widening income gaps and wasteful investment and use of resources. But the plan has raised concerns that firms moving from Beijing will be able to take advantage of less stringent safety and pollution standards outside the capital. A chemical blast at Tianjin port that killed at least 116 this month has been blamed on safety lapses and regulatory failures, but China has promised to create unified industrial and environmental standards throughout the region. An official with the leading group responsible for the integration said it would aim to make clear progress in relocating Beijing s noncapital functions to Hebei by 2017, and would also make breakthroughs in creating a regional transport network. China blast death toll rises to 129 The death toll from a series of explosions nearly two weeks ago that rocked the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin rose to 129, state media reported yesterday. There are still 44 people missing and 610 are in hospital, 39 of them critically injured, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing local officials. The explosions at a hazardous goods storage facility on August 12 triggered a giant fireball and new fires broke out as recently as Friday. China s powerful State Council, or cabinet, has vowed to conduct a rigorous investigation into the cause of the explosions, Xinhua said on Saturday. The owners of the hazardous goods storage company at the centre of the incident, Rui Hai International Logistics, reportedly included the son of a former police chief who used his connections to help the firm obtain the necessary permits and pass inspections. The blasts have also sparked fears of toxic pollutants contaminating the air and water of the city, which has a population of around 15mn people. In remarks carried by the government news agency Xinhua, the official said the unified region would be basically formed by President Xi Jinping revived the integration plans during a tour of smoghit Beijing early last year as a way of easing Hebei s dependence on polluting heavy industry, which is a major source of air pollution in the region, home to more than 100mn people. Hebei, the location of seven of China s 10 smoggiest cities, has been on the frontline of China s war on pollution, declared by Premier Li Keqiang last year. The province, which produces around a quarter of China s steel, has long been accused of ignoring Beijing s instructions on issues like overcapacity and pollution standards, but it has also complained that it has not been getting enough financial and political support for its economic restructuring. Last month, China s graft watchdog announced that Zhou Benshun, Hebei s Communist Party secretary, was being investigated for serious breaches of discipline and the law, a euphemism for corruption. He was later sacked. Beijing itself aims to cap its total population at 23mn by It has already begun a programme aimed at shutting down and relocating industrial firms. US military depot blast, steel plant blaze hit Tokyo Tokyo A blast ripped through a warehouse at a US military post yesterday and started a fire, while a blaze broke out at a steel plant, in separate accidents around the Japanese capital. The explosion at the US Army s Sagami General Depot in the city of Sagamihara, some 40km southwest of Tokyo, sent sparks shooting into the sky and triggered a blaze that burned through the night, but there were no reports of injuries. Japanese and US base firefighters delayed battling the fire while the contents of the building were assessed. Witnesses said they initially feared a bomb had gone off at the military installation. The fire died out on its own about six hours after it started shortly before 1am (1600 GMT), with firefighters standing by. We coordinated with US fire units, and did not spray water as we waited for information related to what was inside, an official at the Sagamihara fire bureau told, adding that more than a dozen fire engines were sent to the scene. Several hours later, a huge blaze broke out at a steel pipe plant near Tokyo s Haneda international airport. The Kawasaki city fire department said the blaze at the plant, owned by a unit of giant steelmaker Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, may have been caused by workers who were using gas burners to dismantle the site. Smoke rises after a fire broke out at a Nippon Steel & Sumikin Pipe Co factory in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, yesterday. A warehouse that caught fire after an explosion is seen at the US Army Sagami General Depot in Sagamihara yesterday. The fire was put out shortly after 1.30pm local time. The plant had stopped operations in June, and there were not many workers in the facility at the time of the fire, a company official said, adding that it was to be closed later this year. Earlier, dramatic video footage showed large sparks possibly metal canisters shooting out like fireworks from the huge fire on the military building s roof, lighting up the night sky. A woman who saw the aftermath of the blast told public broadcaster NHK that she heard repeated thunderous explosions for 1015 minutes. Orange sparks were rising quite high. I couldn t see smoke but smelled something like gunpowder, she said. The explosion at the depot, which occupies about 200 hectares (2sqkm) and employs nearly 600 people, rattled the windows of nearby buildings. I thought the American military facility came under a terrorist attack, a local security guard told Jiji Press news agency. The depot stores supplies and acts as a repair centre for military vehicles. Earlier this month, a series of explosions at a hazardous goods facility rocked the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, killing at least 123 people. Washington, which for 70 years has been the guarantor of Japan s security, has 47,000 troops and numerous bases in the country. The Pentagon said the cause of the explosion was not immediately known, but the building did not store ammunition or radiological materials. Nearby buildings were not damaged. The storage building is not designated as a hazardous material storage facility as some initial reports indicated, US Navy Commander Bill Urban, a spokesman, said in a statement. Inside the building that exploded were canisters of compressed gases: nitrogen, oxygen, freon and air. The cause of the explosion... is under investigation. There are no indications of injuries. Aerial footage showed the onestorey building s roof had partially collapsed, while the US military said windows and doors were damaged on the concrete building. Sydney homeowners join forces to cash in on Australian property boom Sydney When Ron Buxton bought his sprawling fivebedroom property in Sydney s Castle Hill for A$87,000 in 1979, his was one of only two houses on a deadend street, ringed by orange groves. With Castle Hill now a bustling commuter suburb earmarked for rezoning, Buxton and his neighbours have clubbed together to offer their homes as a development block for apartments, banking on a multimilliondollar payday thanks to a surge in Sydney house prices and an acute housing shortage. We started getting phone calls from agents and developers to help us sell the property but we decided we d help ourselves, Buxton, 73, said. We ll certainly get better than open market individual sale. The trend has surged in the past year with home owners increasingly taking the initiative themselves rather than waiting for approaches from developers, real estate agents say. Developers such as Stockland and Mirvac are also reaping the rewards, boosting profits as new apartments are snapped up. Sydney s population of 4.5mn people already spreads over 1,600sqkm, twice the size of New York City. With the population expected to rise by 100,000 a year for the next 20 years, urban planners say higher density living is key to providing enough housing. There is an affordability challenge and the only way to address that is supply. This is one of the ways that supply is starting to get freed up, Stockland CEO Mark Steinert said. I think there will be more of this, Ron Buxton poses with his home s forsale sign in the suburb of Castle Hill, Sydney. expecting the residential business to drive further earnings growth over the next 56 years. Approvals for multiunit projects nationally climbed 28% in the past year to record highs, raising hopes that the extra supply will help dampen potentially dangerous house price rises. Developers need at least 4,000sqm of land for an apartment building, so owners who can club together can command significant premiums. Keiron Stedman, project marketing specialist at Ray White Castle Hill is grouping about 47 home owners in Sydney s Hills District, one of the western suburbs popular with commuting workers and now developers. If you sell together as one development parcel you can generally get a higher price... ultimately you can get double, triple or sometimes even five times your residential value by taking this approach, Stedman said. Last December, five mostly older standalone brick homes in the same suburb sold for a record A$20.5mn ($15mn), which at A$4mn each was almost four times what the owners could have expected from individual sales. Record house prices have worried regulators who fear the market may be entering a bubble and could potentially hurt the country s banking system heavily reliant on mortgages and, in turn, the economy, if it bursts. Australia s banking regulator is forcing banks to slow down lending to home investors to an annual growth of under 10%. Sydney can keep building for a couple of years without going into oversupply, said Kim Hawtrey, associate director with BIS Shrapnel. But developers should be careful not to follow that strategy too far and not to pay too high a price and find that they get caught.
14 14 BRITAIN A woman and child hold each other in front of flowers near to the crash site. Airshow safety review ordered A crane is seen lifting an object under a blue tarpaulin as emergency services and crash investigation officers continue to work at the site where a Hawker Hunter fighter jet crashed onto the A27 road at Shoreham near Brighton. Police say crash toll likely to rise to 20 London The death toll after a vintage fighter jet ploughed into a busy road in southern England while performing an acrobatics display could approach 20, police said yesterday as Britain announced new safety restrictions on airshows. The Hawker Hunter plane, of a type developed by Britain in the 1950s, struck several cars on Saturday on the major road next to Shoreham airport near Brighton, where the show was taking place. The latest crash was the third and by far the most deadly at the airshow event since Police said on Sunday that they feared 11 people had died. A senior officer said that figure was likely to rise as police gained access to more areas of the accident scene. It s too early to tell but I d be surprised if (the death toll) doesn t go above 11, Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry was quoted as telling the BBC. If it would be below 20 then that would be probably the best estimate that I could give you at this stage. In 2007, a pilot was killed at Shoreham after his World War II Hurricane aircraft crashed just north of the same road and three years later a stunt glider pilot survived a crash there. The Royal Air Forces Association, which helps organise the show, said yesterday that the team running the event had many years experience nationally and needed to meet tough safety standards set by Britain s air transport regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Amateur video footage of Saturday s crash showed two big explosions and black plumes of smoke after the jet hit the ground. Police said the large number of attendees as well as motorists and cyclists on the road made it difficult to confirm the identities of the victims. Two footballers from nearby amateur team Worthing United were among those killed, the club said. The road, a major artery for traffic along the south coast, remained closed on Monday as wreckage of the aircraft was being removed. The CAA said it had begun a review of airshows and had placed new restrictions on events as a result of Saturday s crash. Flying displays over land by vintage aircraft will be significantly restricted and limited to flypasts, with acrobatics banned. No more flights are to be allowed for now by Hawker Hunter aircraft of the type involved in the crash. Several crashes have occurred during other air displays in Britain in recent years, the latest three weeks ago when a stunt plane crashed at a car festival in Cheshire, northwest England, killing the pilot. 80,000 sign petition for Netanyahu arrest London Almost 80,000 people had by yesterday signed a petition urging the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes when he visits London next month. The petition was launched earlier this month by British citizen Damian Moran and is posted on the government s website. Under international law he (Netanyahu) should be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the UK for the massacre of over 2,000 civilians in 2014, Moran said, referring to the 51day offensive by Israeli forces in Gaza last year. If the number of signatories reaches 100,000, the petition can be considered for debate in Britain s parliament. But Moran told media that he doubted it would reach the chamber given the close relationship between Israel and Britain. The British government was obliged to respond after the document received 10,000 signatories, saying that visiting heads of foreign governments, such as prime minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained. We recognise that the conflict in Gaza last year took a terrible toll, it added. As the prime minister (David Cameron) said, we were all deeply saddened by the violence and the UK has been at the forefront of international reconstruction efforts. However the prime minister was clear on the UK s recognition of Israel s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, within the boundaries of international humanitarian law. Britain is pushing for a twostate solution to resolve the IsraeliPalestinian conflict and will reinforce this message to Mr Netanyahu during his visit in September, according to the response. Any British citizen can launch a petition on the government s website, asking for a specific action from the government or parliament s lower House of Commons. Only British citizens are meant to sign the petitions, but need only enter a name, address and valid postcode. Israel launched military action in the Hamasruled Gaza Strip on July 8 last year, leading to the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians and 66 Israeli soldiers. ProPalestinian British lawyers unsuccessfully tried to arrest former Israeli justice minister Tzipi Livni following the Gaza war. Israel s embassy in London has described the latest petition a meaningless publicity stunt. Unions call off London Tube strike Unions representing London s Underground staff have called off 24hour strikes planned for this week, which threatened more chaos for commuters already hit by walkouts over plans for night services. Three unions the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association cancelled the strikes due for tomorrow and Thursday as a gesture of goodwill. However, the RMT announced new strikes for September 8 and 10 if a deal is not reached over pay and conditions governing the night Tube. London named most congested city in Europe for the fiirst time Evening Standard London London was yesterday named as Europe s most congested city for the first time, with motorists spending four whole days on average stuck in traffic each year. The capital was ranked eighth in Europe in 2011 but quickly climbed to first place in 2014, overtaking Brussels, Cologne and Antwerp, according to statistics by transport analysts INRIX. Drivers spent an average 96 hours in traffic in 2014 a 14 British pop phenomenon One Direction are to take an indefinite break from next year, according to a media report yesterday which has left fans devastated. The fourpiece boy band will separate for at least a year from March to pursue solo projects, according to The Sun newspaper, citing a 1D source. The band, who enjoy a massive global teenage following, did not comment when contacted by and have not commented on the tabloid report on their various Twitter accounts. The guys have been together for five years, which is an incredible run for any boyband, said The Sun s source. They fully deserve to have at least a year to work on their own projects. There is absolutely no bad blood between them and hour increase on the previous year. Analysts attributed the rise in traffic delays to the growth in the economy, population growth and an increase in employment. A 10mile stretch of the A217, stretching from Sutton to the New Kings Road in Fulham was the capital s most congested road, costing drivers who use it regularly 139 hours, or six days, each year in traffic. The five most gridlocked roads in UK are all in the capital and include the A215 and A4, where drivers lose more than 100 hours a year queuing in traffic. they are all 100% behind the decision. It is definitely not a split and they fully intend to get back together at some time in the future. Fans took to social media to express their shock, with Twitter user Lexie Noel posting that I ve never cried harder. added: WHAT Garrett Emmerson, Transport for London s chief operating officer for surface transport, said: London s continued success has made it one of the world s most popular cities in which to live, work and visit, which also makes it one of the busiest. We are seeing unprecedented increases in population and this, combined with strong economic growth and the consequent increase in building and construction, creates more traffic. To tackle this, we need continued, sustained investment to boost capacity and modernise London s road network. IS THIS NEWS ABOUT ONE DIRECTION SPLITTING UP IM DYING IN THE GROCERY STORE OMG. Battlehardened fans offered advice to those going through their first boy band split. It s ok One Direction fans, I went through this with Take That & Boyzone, wrote Twitter You may feel like That s why we invest every penny of our income in improving the capital s transport network, including an unprecedented 4bn over the next few years to transform junctions, bridges, tunnels, cycling lanes and pedestrian areas. For the third year running, traffic in the UK is up, said IN RIX president and chief executive Bryan Mistele. The strong growth of the UK economy and rise in urban populations have resulted in an increase in the demand for road travel, significantly driving levels of congestion up across the country. your heart is in a blender, but you can do this. The band is due to release its fifth album before Christmas, and fulfil promotional commitments by the end of February, the report said. There is no tour scheduled for the new album. One Direction s last scheduled concerts are at the Sheffield Work recently started on Boris Johnson s flagship cycle superhighway on the Victoria Embankment, aiming to encourage more people to cycle. Across the UK drivers lost an average of 30 hours in traffic last year. The worst areas in the UK after London are Greater Manchester, Merseyside, greater Belfast and greater Birmingham. The UK s population grew by 491,100 last year, reaching a record high. London s population also experienced high growth in 2014, increasing by 122,100 people. One Direction to go separate ways next year London A file picture taken in Las Vegas on May 17 shows One Direction members (from left) Payne, Tomlinson, Horan, and Styles. Arena in England on October 29, 30, 31. They are currently touring North America and are due to perform in Milwaukee, Wisconsin today. Put together for a British television singing contest in 2010, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson swiftly developed a giant, fiercely loyal following of young girls worldwide. The charttoppers have sold more than 50mn records. Malik quit the band in March, shortly after being signed off with stress. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22yearold who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight, he said at the time. The Sun s report said the split would have happened regardless of Malik s departure. The Sunday Times newspaper s Rich List 2015 reckoned the band members were worth 25mn each.
15 EUROPE 15 Erdogan calls for fresh election Ankara Call for unified response to EU s migrant problem Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for fresh parliamentary elections, his office said yesterday, in a widely anticipated move after two months of coalition talks failed to produce a coalition government ahead of a deadline. Sources from Erdogan s office said he would meet Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at 11am (0800 GMT) today. The president was expected to ask Davutoglu to form a temporary powersharing government ahead of an election slated for November 1. Our president decided to renew the Turkish Grand National Assembly elections based on the authority given to him by the constitution, the statement from his office said after he met parliamentary speaker Ismet Yilmaz. The AK Party, founded by Erdogan, lost its majority in a June 7 election for the first time since coming to power in 2002, complicating Erdogan s ambition of forging a more powerful presidency and plunging Turkey into political uncertainty not seen since the fragile coalition governments of the 1990s. The AKP will keep its grip on power with the interim government with a cabinet set to be dominated by loyalists. But his hopes of changing the constitution will hinge on a strong AKP majority in parliament in the new vote. The uncertainty, coming as the Nato member battles Islamic State (IS) insurgents on its borders and Kurdish militants at home, has unnerved investors and sent the lira currency to a series of record lows. Many Turks question whether a new election will yield anything other than a similarly inconclusive result. Two soldiers, one police officer dead Berlin A man carries a child on his shoulders as they walk with other migrants near the southern Serbian village of Miratovac, travelling on foot from Macedonia to Presevo in Serbia. Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called yesterday for a unified response to Europe s biggest migrant crisis since World War II, as the German leader condemned vile protests against refugees. We must put in place a unified system for the right to asylum, Hollande said in a brief statement ahead of talks, calling the influx from the world s crisis zones an exceptional situation that will last for some time. Rather than wait, we should organise and reinforce our policies, and that is what France and Germany are proposing, he said. Both countries, like the rest of the EU, have been struggling to find a response to the unprecedented numbers arriving from the thousands landing on the shores of Greece and Italy to the hundreds risking their lives to climb onto trucks to travel from France to Britain. Germany, which expects to take in 800,000 asylum seekers in 2015, saw antimigrant sentiment rear its head over the weekend as violent protests erupted against a refugee home. It is vile for farright extremists and neonazis to try to spread their hollow, hateful propaganda but it is just as shameful for citizens including families with children to join them in the protests, said Merkel in her strongest statement to date against a wave of antirefugee protests to hit eastern Germany. EU border agency Frontex said last week that a record 107,000 migrants were at the bloc s borders last month, with 20,800 arriving in Greece last week alone. In what has become a regular occurrence, Greece s coastguard said yesterday that it recovered the bodies of two migrants who drowned when their boat sank off its shores. Another five were missing. And at least 2,000 more migrants poured into Serbia overnight from Macedonia on their trek north through Hungary to more prosperous northern European countries like Germany or Sweden. Macedonia had declared a state of emergency last week and closed its border with Greece for three days, with police using stun grenades and batons to stop hundreds of refugees trying to break through barbed wire fencing before apparently deciding to let everyone enter. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who had travelled to the MacedoniaGreece border, called for an urgent new strategy to deal with the crisis. It s a humanitarian disaster, a disaster for the European Union as a whole, and there is a pressing need for us to focus on the situation in the western Balkans, said Kurz. With asylumseekers coming not just from war zones such as Syria but also from countries Hungarian soldiers build a fence near the town of Morahalom, Hungary. Facing what the European Commission says is the worst refugee crisis since World War II, European governments are bickering over how to deal with record numbers of migrants fleeing war and poverty and heading across Europe. without military conflict in southeastern Europe, both Hollande and Merkel reiterated their calls for Brussels to draw up a list of safe countries of origin. Germany in particular sees this as a priority, as 40% of its asylumseekers come from countries like Albania and Kosovo. Merkel is travelling on Thursday to Vienna, where she will meet leaders of Balkan states including Albania and Kosovo to find out why so many thousands of people are coming from these countries, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Other coordinated action sought by Hollande and Merkel include the rapid setting up of reception centres in overwhelmed Greece and Italy two countries which have borne the brunt of the crisis to help identify asylumseekers and illegal migrants. Merkel stressed that the centres must be set up at the first ports of call to be administered and staffed by the EU as a whole by the end of the year. We cannot tolerate a delay, she said. Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni has warned that the deepening crisis could pose a major threat to the soul of Europe. On immigration, Europe is in danger of displaying the worst of itself: selfishness, haphazard decisionmaking and rows between member states, Gentiloni told Il Messaggero. Train attack heroes receive top honour Two Turkish troops died yesterday and a policeman was killed in new attacks blamed on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the country s southeast, the army said. The two soldiers died in a roadside bombing by the PKK early yesterday in the Semdinli region of the southeastern Hakkari province close to the borders with Iran and Iraq, the army said in a statement. A 20yearold policeman in the Nusaybin district of Mardin province was shot dead by suspected PKK militants outside his father s house on Sunday night. Greece s embattled ruling Syriza party suffered another blow yesterday when its secretary quit, as eurosceptic rebels were given a mandate to try to form a government. Syriza secretary Tasos Koronakis stepped down in protest at Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras decision last week to call early elections, backtracking on an earlier proposal to hold a party congress in September to address the rebel faction. Greece is likely headed for snap elections as early as next month after Tsipras resigned in the face of the internal Syriza revolt over his acceptance of the tough terms of a massive new international bailout deal. With the Athens stock exchange shedding over 6.0% as global shares plunged over China economic worries, the rebels formally received yesterday a mandate from President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to attempt to form a government in the next three days. Hollande with Norman (left), Sadler (second left), Stone and Skarlatos (right) during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Greece s Syriza suffers another blow as rebels try to form govt Athens The leftist hardliners, who call themselves the Popular Unity party after the victorious 1970 Chilean alliance of Salvador Allende, are the third and last party to receive a mandate under the terms of the constitution. We will use this mandate to demonstrate the necessity of an antiausterity government, said party leader Panagiotis Lafazanis, who has argued that Greece can happily exist without the euro. The main opposition New Democracy conservatives who have 76 seats in the 300member parliament had earlier attempted and failed to form a government. With just 25 lawmakers, Popular Unity cannot realistically muster enough support for a majority in the 300seat parliament either. Pavlopoulos is expected to terminate the procedure on Thursday and name a caretaker administration under the head of the Supreme Court. Tsipras resigned on August 20 after an antibailout mutiny by Syriza eurosceptics formally wiped out his parliamentary majority, leaving the party with around 124 seats. Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said on Sunday that elections Greece s fourth in just three years and the second since Syriza took office in January would likely be next month. As things stand, it is feasible to hold elections on September 20, she told state TV ERT. An unprecedented war of words has broken out between Greece s outgoing government, the parliament chief and the president over the snap ballot. The government has accused parliamentary speaker Zoe Constantopoulou of behaving like a dictator after she branded the early election procedure undemocratic and unconstitutional. Tsipras is seeking to defend the tough terms he accepted in the 86bn ($96bn) rescue package, the third for Greece in five years. Constantopoulou, Greece s youngest parliament speaker at 38, has accused the 65yearold president of breaking the rules by skipping a parliamentary technicality in order to hasten the procedure. The president an esteemed professor of constitutional law responded on Saturday by dismissing her arguments as legally baseless. Constantopoulou, whose father was a former head of Syriza s precursor party Synaspismos, vehemently opposed the third EU bailout Tsipras signed in July and repeatedly sought to frustrate its ratification in parliament through stalling tactics. A former rising star of Syriza, Constantopoulou is now rumoured to be considering joining the antibailout Popular Unity. Another prominent Syriza lawmaker, flamboyant exfinance minister Yanis Varoufakis, on Sunday said he would not be a candidate with Tsipras party in the election. I will not be a candidate in the name of Syriza, Varoufakis, who has strongly criticised the bailout, told France s Journal du Dimanche. Syriza is adopting an irrational doctrine that I have opposed for five years: to further extend the crisis and pretend it is solved, while maintaining a debt that cannot be paid, he said. Three Americans and one Briton receive the Legion d Honneur; others who helped to be honoured too Paris President Francois Hollande bestowed yesterday France s highest honour on a group of Americans and a Briton who overpowered a Moroccan gunman on a crowded train, saying the whole world admires their courage and cool composure. Antiterror investigators were questioning the alleged attacker, 25yearold Ayoub ElKhazzani, who boarded the highspeed train in Brussels bound for Paris on Friday armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Luger automatic pistol, ammunition and a boxcutter. Witnesses said he opened fire, injuring a man before being wrestled to the floor and subdued by three young Americans offduty servicemen Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone and their student friend Anthony Sadler and a Briton, 62yearold business consultant Chris Norman. Presenting them with the Legion d Honneur at the Elysee presidential palace, Hollande said: A terrorist decided to commit an attack. He had enough weapons and ammunition to carry out a real carnage, and that s what he would have done if you hadn t tackled him at a risk to your own lives. You have shown us that, faced with terror, we have the power to resist. You have given a message of courage, solidarity and hope. A French passenger who also tackled the gunman but chose to remain anonymous, and Eric Tanty, an offduty train driver who happened to be on board and helped restrain Khazzani, were to be honoured too. Mark Moogalian, a 51yearold FrancoAmerican professor who was shot and is now recovering in hospital, and Michel Bruet, a train conductor who warned authorities, were also to be awarded medals. Speaking as he left the Elysee, his medal pinned to his suit, Norman said that it was a little bit difficult to believe that it s actually happened. I think that one way or another, we are going to be facing this kind of problem quite a few times in the future, and I would invite you all to think about what would I do in that situation. Act if the opportunity presents itself. Obviously you don t want to throw yourself in a situation that is completely hopeless, but act if you can. France has been on high alert since extremist attacks in Paris in January left 17 people dead. Intelligence services in Belgium, France, Germany and Spain had previously flagged Khazzani as an Islamic extremist. But he is said to have told investigators he is dumbfounded by accusations he was intending to carry out a terror attack. He said he had stumbled upon a weapons stash in a park in Belgium where he sometimes slept rough and decided to use it to rob passengers, according to Sophie David, a lawyer who was temporarily assigned to his case. Khazzani s father described his son as a good boy who preferred football and fishing to politics. I have no idea what he was thinking and I have not spoken to him for over a year, Mohamed El Khazzani told British newspaper The Telegraph in the Spanish port city of Algeciras on Sunday. But Sadler, 23, dismissed suggestions that Khazzani was not trying to kill anyone. It doesn t take eight magazines (of bullets) to rob a train, he told reporters on Sunday. National Guardsman Skarlatos added that if Khazzani had known how to handle guns, he could have killed many people. He would have been able to operate through all eight of the magazines and we probably wouldn t be here today along with a lot of other people, the 22yearold said. A Spanish counterterrorism source said Khazzani had lived in Spain for seven years until He came to the attention of Spanish authorities for making hardline speeches defending jihad and attending a radical mosque in Algeciras. It is unclear where he was living after he left Spain. His father said he went to France for a sixmonth work contract but was let go after just one month, and Spanish intelligence services say he went to Syria from France a claim Khazzani denies. French sources say he did not show up on their radar until May this year, when German authorities warned he had boarded a plane bound for Turkey. Khazzani boarded the AmsterdamParis train in Brussels, where it is believed he was living. Stone whose hand and eye were injured in his wrestle with the gunman and who wore a sling at yesterday s ceremony and Skarlatos are due to go to a US military base in Germany for health checks. Sadler is to fly back to the United States. Spain fare dodger bites off piece of train conductor s ear Police in Spain were yesterday looking for a fare dodger who bit off part of the ear of a train conductor who asked to see his ticket. The attack happened on a suburban commuter train in Barcelona in northeastern Spain on Saturday, a police spokesman said. The suspect jumped from the train and disappeared before police arrived. Police have created a composite sketch of the man based on descriptions from other passengers, a spokesman said. The train conductor has undergone surgery to reconstruct his ear, a spokesman for state railway company Renfe said.
16 16 INDIA DIPLOMACY Sushma meets Egypt s Sisi, Arab League chief in Cairo DEADLY HOSPITAL 21 infants die in just four days in Odisha CAUSE UNKNOWN Rs25mn car catches fire, driver runs away RELIEF New crop loans on anvil to prevent farmers suicides External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday held talks on bilateral relations with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah alsisi and her counterpart Sameh Hassan Shoukry in Cairo. Sushma Swaraj, who is on a twoday visit to Egypt, also met Nabil El Araby, secretary general of the Arab League. Indian ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup, in a series of tweets, gave an account of her meetings. Beginning at the top. SushmaSwaraj calls on President Abdel Fattah al Sisi of Egypt to discuss bilateral relations. Moving ArabIndia ties forward. meets with SG Dr. Nabil El at Arab League HQ, he said in another tweet. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah alsisi meets Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at the presidential palace in Cairo yesterday. The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) yesterday directed the state health department to submit an inquiry report into the death of 21 infants in four days in a hospital in Cuttack. Taking suo motu cognizance of alarming reports in the media, the commission directed the health secretary, the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) director, and the superintendent of the Sardar Vallabbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Paediatrics in Cuttack to submit a report within three weeks. As many as 21 infants have died in the health institution popularly known as Sishu Bhawan in the last four days. Five infants died yesterday alone, hospital sources said. A Lamborghini Gallardo costing Rs25mn went up in flames in New Delhi yesterday morning. Though the driver escaped without suffering any injury, he immediately fled the place, police said. The driver of the yellowcoloured car managed to escape without any injuries. The incident took place at around 9am in south Delhi s Badarpur area under a flyover, police said. The Lamborghini Gallardo, a rearengine supercar with a 5.5l V10 engine, belonged to a south Delhi businessman. The businessman had sent it for repairs at the service centre. The incident was reported in the morning when the driver (mechanic) drove it out of a service centre, a fire official told IANS. The Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM), set up by the Maharashtra government, proposes to provide new crop loans to all farmers in 14 districts in a bid to arrest suicides, its chairman said yesterday. We have proposed 100% new crop loans worth around Rs400bn to all farmers from April 2016, for which the state government and NABARD would be required to make suitable funds outlay, VNSSM s newlyappointed chairman Kishore Tiwari told IANS in Mumbai. Besides, the VNSSM, headquartered in Amravati, has recommended restructuring of all existing farm loans for which funds have already been allocated, but the banks have failed to complete their targets, he added. Tribunal for suspension of Italy marines trial in India Expanding footprint IANS Hamburg/ New Delhi A UN tribunal yesterday asked India and Italy to suspend ongoing court proceedings in the Italian marines case and not initiate new ones that could aggravate the dispute. India said it will abide by the tribunal s decisions. The 21member International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, based in German port town of Hamburg, ruled that it would not take action over the 2012 killing of two Indian fishermen an incident that sparked a diplomatic dispute between Italy and India. It also asked both two countries to submit the initial report in the entire incident by September 24. The court, which is mandated by the UN, invited both parties to suspend all court proceedings and refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute submitted to the... arbitral tribunal or might jeopardise or prejudice the carrying out of any decision which the arbitral tribunal may render. The tribunal issued the ruling with 15 in favour and six against. India s External Affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement: We have just received the order from the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas in the Enrica Lexie incident in which Italy had approached the Tribunal for two provisional measures: that India should refrain from taking or enforcing any judicial or administrative measures against the two Italian marines and from exercising any form of jurisdiction over the incident; and for the return of Sgt. Salvatore Girone to Italy and continued stay of Sgt. Massimiliano Latorre in Italy throughout the proceedings of the Annex VII Arbitral Tribunal. While we are studying the judgment in detail, it is clear that the Tribunal did not consider the two provisional measures sought by Italy to be appropriate as that would have prejudged the merits of the case and would not have equally preserved the rights of both parties until the constitution of the Annex VII Tribunal under UNCLOS, which will decide the issue of jurisdiction. He said the tribunal has instead prescribed a provisional measure in which both Italy and India should suspend all court proceedings and refrain from initiating new one. As a state party to UNCLOS and as a responsible member of the international community that has consistently stood by its international obligations, India will continue to abide by the Tribunal s decisions, including the present one on provisional measures, said Swarup. The two Italian marines, serving aboard oil tanker Enrica Lexie as part of an antipiracy mission, allegedly killed two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast. India detained the two marines and a court case is pending, while Italy has challenged India s jurisdiction over the case. Italy had asked the court to allow Girone to be returned to Italy from India and for Latorre, who was granted temporary leave by India for medical treatment last year, to remain in his country. Popular actor Puneeth Rajkumar formally inaugurates the 14th showroom in India of the Malabar Gold & Diamonds, a leading jewellery retailer and flagship company of Malabar Group, in Shivamogga, Karnataka, in the presence of Malabar Gold and Diamonds managing director O Asher. Having 134 showrooms in nine countries, expansion plans in India include new showrooms in Nellore (Andhra), Vadodara (Gujarat), Nagercoil (Tamil Nadu) and more showrooms in Middle East, South Asia, the US and the UK. New sketch books on heritage architecture In order to propagate Tamil Nadu s rich history, the stategovernment funded Tamil Heritage Trust has brought out a sketchbook containing drawings of the intricate architecture and rockcarved figurines of the shore temples of Mahabalipuram about 45km from Chennai. The motifs were photographed by coffee table book expert Ashok Krishnaswamy and designed as sketches by Global Tamil Nadu Roundup By Umaima Shafiq Digital Art Studio in Chennai. These books are being sold as children and adult colouring books. Each motif also has a short writeup of its history. The Tamil Heritage Trust was founded by Professor S Swaminathan, a plant geneticist who has been awarded for revolutionising agricultural techniques and promoting arts and sciences. Teacher chases down robber A teacher boldly caught a robber who snatched and fled with her five sovereign gold neck chain, at Periyar Nagar in Madurai last week. Sumathi had been returning from a shopping trip when two youth on a scooter stopped, robbed her and sped away. However Sumathi ran after them on foot and when their vehicle stopped at a traffic signal, she dragged the pillion driver and with the help of public handed him over to the police. She also managed to recover her chain. Jains reiterate religious right to fast until death IANS Jaipur/Lucknow/Bhopal Thousands of Jain community members took to the streets yesterday in various parts of the country to protest against a Rajasthan High Court (HC) ruling earlier this month declaring Santhara or a fastuntodeath religious practice followed by the community for years, as unconstitutional. Protests, primarily maun (silent) rallies were reported from Jaipur and other cities of Rajasthan, Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh, and Jhansi, Ghaziabad, Mathura, Lucknow, Agra, Meerut, and Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh with community members terming the verdict an interference in their religious beliefs and an attempt to clamp down on an ageold practice. A division bench of the Rajasthan High Court on August 10 had declared Santhara unconstitutional while disposing off a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in 2006 by Nikhil Soni, contending the Santhara was akin to Sati and should be banned in the same way. Soni said the court has observed that Santhara violates the constitution s article 21 and directed the state to stop the process. It had ruled if someone practices it, then an FIR should be filed against them under the Indian Penal Code s section 309 (punishment for attempting suicide) and police should undertake an investigation into it. Anyone provoking or supporting them should also be booked under section 306 (abetment of suicide), Soni told IANS. In Jaipur, Jains took out a march while keeping their shops Member of the Jain religious community protest in Agra. and businesses closed and not sending their children to schools and colleges. Schools owned or run by the community remained closed. We want to educate people on Santhara so we took out this march, said Vijay Jain, a shopkeeper. There is a need to understand that Santhara and suicide are not the same, he added. Similar marches were observed in other parts of the state including Kota, Banswara and Ajmer among others. Hundreds of Jains marched in Agra, Meerut, Baghpat, Lucknow, and Ghaziabad as well as Jain dominated areas of Firozabad and Tundla in Uttar Pradesh. While the protestors wore black bands, many people downed the shutters of their business establishments in solidarity. In Mainpuri, the bastion of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, people belonging to the Jain community took out processions and gathered at the Mandi Ramdas to express their displeasure at the court ruling. They said Santhara cannot be equated to suicide and that it was a matter of faith, something which cannot be checked or challenged by any court. A person is driven to suicide by depression, frustration or anger while Santhara is the highest practice of giving up one s body on one s own volition, said Prasoon Jain, who runs a photography studio in Mainpuri. A demonstration was also held in Khekhda area of Baghpat in western UP and in Etmadpur and Chipitola areas in Agra, where protesters who included a fair number of women and children also gave a memorandum to the subdivisional magistrate. In Gorakhpur city of eastern Uttar Pradesh, a Dharm Bachao Andolan (Save Religion Movement) march was taken out where protesters said they will not tolerate interference in their religious beliefs. Jain community leaders said on an average every year, 300 people gave up their life by this practice of Santhara and the number was around 100 in Rajasthan alone. Protests and demonstrations were also reported in many parts of Madhya Pradesh including capital Bhopal, commercial capital Indore, Jabalpur, Morena, Gwalior and Ujjain.
17 INDIA 17 ACCIDENT 5 killed in traintruck collision in Andhra AFFECTED Assam to ask New Delhi for Rs50bn in flood aid GORY CRIME Two minors held for killing classmate in the capital FLYING COFFIN Another MiG21 fighter crashes, pilot bales out Five people, including a Congress lawmaker from Karnataka, were killed when a truck collided yesterday with an express train at a level crossing near Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh, an official said. The driver of the graniteladen truck lost control and hit a coach of the Nanded Express after crashing into the closed gate at a level crossing in Anantpur district. Officials said 20 people were injured in the tragedy and they were admitted to hospitals in Penukonda and Bengaluru. The ruling Congress legislator A Venkatesh Naik was from Devadurga reserved assembly segment in Raichur district in the state s northern region was among victims was the H1 coach attendant, the official noted. Assam will seek financial assistance of Rs50bn from the central government to repair the damage caused by the current wave of floods that has affected 18 districts in the state and over 6.5 lakh people, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said yesterday. He said the flood situation has been improving in the state gradually. As of now, 1,071 villages in 14 districts are reeling under floods... flood waters have started receding in most of the places, Gogoi told newsmen in Guwahati. Stating that Assam received 20% excess rainfall in the last few weeks, he said 213,000 people were still living in 296 relief camps set up in six worstaffected districts. Two juveniles were taken into custody yesterday for killing their 15yearold classmate over a petty issue and have been sent to a juvenile reformation home. The class 9 students were apprehended from Haryana s Jhajjar on charges of killing their classmate Subham Jindal. Police said that Jindal was beaten to death by wooden sticks around 6pm on Sunday and his body was recovered around 3.30am yesterday from a vacant plot behind a petrol pump in Najafgarh area in west Delhi. In their interrogation, they revealed that the reason was an old grudge of being punished by a teacher on Jindal s complaint against them over some issue a few days ago. A MiG21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed yesterday in Jammu and Kashmir s Badgam district, with the pilot managing to eject safely. A MiG21 Bison fighter aircraft crashed at 11am in Soibug area of Badgam district, a defence spokesman told IANS in Jammu. The pilot safely bailed out and was rescued by an army helicopter from some distance away from the crash site. India operates various variants of Russian MiG21, MiG27 and MiG29 aircrafts, while the navy has recently inducted MiG29 K series of fighters. However, a high number of accidents have earned the vintage MiG21 the reputation of being a flying coffin. A soldier stands in front of the wreckage of a MiG21 Bison aircraft after it crashed in Soibugh in Budgam district of Kashmir. Special session only after GST consensus By Brajendra Nath Singh, IANS New Delhi Prime Minister Narendra Modi is joined by federal ministers and leaders from the northeastern states during the birth centenary celebrations of freedom fighter Rani Gaidinliu in New Delhi. Naga accord will help entire northeast: Modi IANS New Delhi Acknowledging the role of previous governments in the peace process in Nagaland, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said yesterday he hopes that the successful talks with the NSCNIM will pave the way for development in the entire northeast. Every government tried doing something in this regard, some efforts succeeded, some did not. The process went on, and no government should take credit for it as every one of them contributed its bit and this resulted in successful talks with them (NSCNIM), he said while inaugurating the birth centenary celebrations of Naga leader Rani Gaidinliu. I hope the journey (with NSCN IM and others), which has started, would give good results, he said. Modi also expressed regret that many freedom fighters and prominent personalities who contributed to the cause of the country were not remembered adequately. The prime minister said India must remember the glorious heritage of the freedom struggle and ensure that the legacy of the struggles and achievements of freedom fighters is passed on to succeeding generations. It is our misfortune that people such as Rani Gaidinliu have either not been remembered adequately, or have been deliberately forgotten, he said in his address. Gaidinliu, affectionately called Rani Maa, believed that her struggle for the Naga people against the British was also a struggle for India s unity and integrity, he said. Modi also credited Gaidinliu with spreading the message of Mahatma Gandhi in the northeast. Modi said Gaidinliu s thoughts on living in harmony with nature could provide an answer to the problem of climate change being faced by the world today. The prime minister also spoke of his government s initiatives for the development of the northeast. He reiterated that the progress of the northeast will provide a big boost to the development of the entire nation. India will develop only if the northeast develops, Modi said, adding that the central government was committed to overall development of the region. We are putting in maximum efforts to build infrastructure in the northeast, he said. The prime minister also said that following the resolution of the border dispute with Bangladesh, connectivity with the northeast was set to become easier. The northeast has now become closer to the rest of India, he said Stating that the northeast was blessed with abundant natural bounty, he said the region has the potential to become the organic capital of the country. Coins of Rs5 and Rs100 were also released by the prime minister to mark the occasion. The Rs5 coin will be circulated while the Rs100 coin will be of commemorative nature. Federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh also spoke on the occasion. Rajnath Singh said as Durgawati and Rani Laxmi Bai were mentioned in the history of the freedom struggle, the name of Gaidinliu should have been given the same prominence. Historians have failed to do justice with Rani Gaidinliu, the home minister said, adding that the recent peace accord with the NSCNIM takes forward her dream of securing peace and stability in the region. Jaitley said that remembering Gaidinliu would help the northeast come closer to the mainstream. It would go a long way in creating a sense of involvement (among the people there), he said, addressing the function largely attended by school children. Jitendra Singh said Gaidinliu was a symbol of the legacy and heritage of the northeast. He also announced a fund for setting up a librarycummuseum at Kohima as a tribute to Gaidinliu. Born on January 26, 1915, Rani Gaidinliu joined her cousin Haipou Jadonang s movement at the age of 13 to drive out the British from Manipur. In 1932, she was arrested at the age of 16 and sentenced to life in prison. She was released from Tura jail (now in Meghalaya) after having spent 14 years in various prisons. She died on February 17, 1993, at Longkao in Manipur. Nagaland Governor P B Acharya, Nagaland Chief minister T R Zeliang, Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh and state Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma were also present on the occasion. Fasting exserviceman admitted to ICU IANS New Delhi Col Pushpender Singh (Retd), one of the three exservicemen on a fastuntodeath here over the One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue, was rushed yesterday to hospital after his health deteriorated on the ninth day of the fast. United ExServicemen Front spokesman Col Anil Kaul (Retd) told IANS that the veteran was taken to the Army Research and Referral Hospital in south Delhi and was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Col Singh, before leaving the protest venue, said he will continue his hunger strike in hospital as well. I will continue the fast in hospital. The government must implement OROP immediately, he said as he was taken to hospital. Retired Havildar Sahib Singh, meanwhile, replaced Col Singh. The health of the other two veterans, Major Singh and Ashok Kumar Chauhan, both retired havildars, was fine, Col. Kaul added. The spokesperson said police and the administration tried to take the veteran to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, but the exservicemen did not agree. The administration and police tried to hijack the ambulance to take him to RML hospital. We refused and took him by a private car to R&R, Col. Kaul said. We have requested the army chief (General Dalbir Singh) to ensure proper treatment, he added. Yesterday was the 71st day of the agitation for OROP. Exservicemen are demanding there should be no change in the definition of OROP, the date of implementation should remain as April 1, 2014, and the base year must remain That means all past pensioners would be brought at par with pension as existing on March 31, There are around 2.4mn retired servicemen in India and around 650,000 lakh widows who will benefit if OROP is implemented. Army veteran Col Pushpendra Singh (Retd.) being taken to hospital after his health deteriorated in New Delhi. The Union government will convene a special session of parliament to pass the goods and services tax (GST) bill a constitutional amendment only after a consensus is achieved among all political parties, including the Congress and the Left that are vociferously opposing the measure, official sources said. The GST bill intends to create a harmonised system of taxation by subsuming all indirect taxes under one tax. Government negotiators have reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, but the outcome is not encouraging as Rahul Gandhi is still adamant on not supporting the bill till the party s demands are met and changes accordingly made in the bill. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi are talking to all political parties to reach a consensus on GST. According to government sources, most of the parties are in favour of GST but the Congress and Left parties are still adamant on their stand. However, Samajwadi Party and the Trinamool Congress have conveyed to the government that they will support the bill only after a broader consensus on the issue. The SP has 15 and TMC has 12 members in Rajya Sabha, where the Congress has 68 members and the NDA 63, including the BJP s 44. The government requires the support of at least 163 members of the 245member house to pass a constitution amendment bill. There is a group in Congress party which is arrogant and whose imprudence on GST has created confusion. But we are still confident. In coming days, the bill will be passed, Naqvi told IANS. Congress was also committed to GST and their only demand was that the bill be referred to a select committee which was met. The select committee has now submitted its report. The Congress should fulfil its commitment, he added. Despite the government s confidence, it has few options for passing the bill. A constitution amendment bill can be introduced in either house of parliament and has to be passed by each house by a twothirds majority of members present and voting. GST is a constitution amendment bill. There is no provision for bringing a constitutional amendment through an ordinance or a joint sitting of the house. It must be passed by both houses of parliament. There is no other way to pass a constitution amendment bill, constitution expert and former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap told IANS To explore the possibility of passing the GST bill, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs had decided against immediate proroging of the houses when parliament s monsoon session was adjourned sine die Aug 13. The sources said the decision to reconvene the monsoon session would depend on the progress the government makes in getting the support of opposition parties on the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The task before the government is to pass the bill in Rajya Sabha where it lacks majority. The GST, Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014, which passed it on May 6, It was referred to a select committee of Rajya Sabha on May 14, The bill was introduced in the upper house on the penultimate day of the monsoon session after the select committee of presented its report. Since certain changes are expected in the bill that the Lok Sabha passed, the bill will have to be again passed by the lower house once it clears the Rajya Sabha. Naqvi said that the government definitely lacked numbers in Rajya Sabha, but as far as the GST is concerned, the numbers are positively in its favour. The government is talking to all the stakeholders with a positive mindset so that the new tax regime can be rolled out from its current deadline of April 1, 2016, the current deadline, added Naqvi. Once it clears parliament, the bill will have to be ratified by 17 state assemblies before it is sent to the president for his assent. Naqvi also took a dig at Rahul Gandhi for Congress party s opposition to GST. Somebody s aggression should not stall the progress of the country. Trying to throw a spanner in the country s growth story is not aggression. It will boomerang on those people who are trying to stall the progress of the country, Naqvi said, without naming Rahul Gandhi. Parliament and state legislatures will have concurrent powers to make laws on GST but only the centre may levy an integrated GST (IGST) on the interstate supply of goods and services and imports.
18 18 LATIN AMERICA Guatemala leader won t quit amid graft scandal / Guatemala City Guatemalan President Otto Perez has dismissed corruption allegations levelled against him by prosecutors and said that he would not stand down, despite mounting pressure on the government and calls for his impeachment as a presidential election looms. In a combative, prerecorded address that was televised to the nation, an animated Perez said he had received no money from the customs racket to which investigators have linked him, and stressed that his conscience was clear. Guatemala s attorneygeneral and a UNbacked anticorruption body known as the CICIG sought to impeach Perez on Friday after months of investigation based on some 86,000 wiretapped phone calls into the racket known as La Linea, or the line, after a phone hotline used in the scandal. Prosecutors and UN officials said on Friday that they had uncovered extensive evidence Former vicepresident Baldetti is seen with her lawyer Mario Cano during a hearing at the Supreme Court of Justice, in Guatemala City. Baldetti, who was arrested on Friday while she was receiving treatment at a hospital, is suspected of illicit association, bribery and fraud linked to the customs racket known as La Linea, said senior prosecutor Francisco Sandoval. Cuba cuts R&D budget by half Havana Austerity measures and the restructuring of Cuba s Sovietstyle economy have reduced spending on research and development (R&D) by close to 50% over the last five years, according to a government report released last week. The National Statistics Office s 2014 statistical abstract, currently being posted chapter by chapter on its website ONE. CU, said that spending on scientific and technological R&D fell from 651.5mn pesos in 2010 to 380.5mn last year, with the peso fixed as equivalent to the dollar. Further, the number of universitylevel employees in the sector has fallen from a high of 81,000 in 2011 to 55,000 in A Cuban economist, who asked to remain anonymous due to restrictions on talking with foreign journalists, attributed the brain drain to cuts in higher education and personnel seeking more lucrative employment inside the country and abroad as restrictions on working for the state and travel are loosened. President Raul Castro s government has imposed strict austerity measures since he replaced his ailing brother Fidel in 2008, aimed at meeting the country s foreign debt obligations and reigning in budget deficits even as it allows more private economic activity and loosens restrictions on everyday life. The Communistrun government has been consolidating universitylevel and company R&D activities in search of greater efficiencies, for example grouping dozens of pharmaceutical companies into one state enterprise. Cubans sought 266 patents in 2010 and just 150 in 2014, according to the report. The number of employees involved in R&D fell from 92,000 to 83,000 over the last five years, while the number classified as directors and administrators fell from 4,700 in 2010 to 2,600 last year, the report stated. The chapter on science and technology also indicated that most funding came from the state budget, not staterun companies. The companies spent just 46mn pesos on research and development last year, compared with 87mn pesos in Argentine farmers started a fiveday crop sales strike yesterday, part of an electionyear push in the world s No. 3 soybean exporter to change policies that they say have killed profits under outgoing President Cristina Fernandez. The country is the biggest international supplier of soybean livestock feed, which has helped Asia s emerging middle implicating Perez and former vicepresident Roxana Baldetti in the massive, highlyorganised scheme to reduce importers customs duties in exchange for bribes. I will not resign and will fully submit myself to the legal process, said Perez, a 64yearold retired general. I categorically reject any link (to the scandal), he said, apologising for the scandals afflicting his government. Perez said: I will not resign. But with the same strength and character with which I reject my involvement, I cannot fail to recognise that this has happened in my government and to officials close to me or that I appointed, so this forces me to make a public apology. Perez also took a swipe at sectors of the international community that he said were seeking to intervene in Guatemalan democracy. He did not specify to whom he was referring. Investigations led by the CICIG have battered Guatemala s political establishment and also engulfed the running mate of the favourite to succeed Perez, casting doubt on the outcome of the race. On Friday, former vicepresident Baldetti was arrested over class shift its diet away from rice and toward meat. The strike is not expected to impact Argentine grain supply, as ports have enough stock to keep shipments flowing this week. But growers say they will increase protests as the October presidential election nears. They want the next leader to ditch the export limits that the government puts on wheat and corn, as well as the 35% tax that is imposed on soybean exports. Farmers say the tax puts them at a disadvantage against A man watches President Perez s speech at the Presidential House in Guatemala City. the La Linea scandal. AttorneyGeneral Thelma Aldana submitted a bid to impeach Perez later that day. Perez s agriculture and health ministers both quit his cabinet on Sunday, following in the footsteps of two others on Saturday who said they could no longer serve in his government. competitors in Brazil and Paraguay, and that their problems are compounded by a peso currency kept artificially strong by government interventions in the foreign exchange market. The balance of what this government has done is absolutely negative, Luis Miguel Etchevehere, head of the Argentine Rural Society farm chamber, told local media. Fernandez is constitutionally barred from running for a third consecutive term in the October 25 election. Frontrunner Daniel Scioli, Baldetti, who stood down in May and was arrested on Friday while receiving treatment at a hospital, is suspected of illicit association, bribery and fraud linked to the customs racket. Prosecutors say that Perez was at the head of the scam. It is unclear how much money was involved in the fraud. More than 20 people have been arrested over it so far. The first round of the presidential vote is due on September 6 although, with a 50% winning threshold in place, the elections are likely to go to a second round runoff on October 25. Perez cannot run for reelection under Guatemalan law. Soy farmers in Argentina launch sales strike Buenos Aires Payout protest Former employees of Unicom the contractor of the Itaipu hydroelectric dam, the world s second biggest march along the streets of Asuncion towards the Brazilian embassy, bound to horizontal beams as if crucified, during a protest yesterday to demand compensation benefits after being dismissed from their jobs. Fire at nursing home kills eight A major fire ripped through a private nursing home in Venezuela s capital Caracas on Sunday, killing eight elderly people, authorities said, calling it a miracle there were not more victims. Firefighters were able to rescue more than 30 others and the local mayor praised neighbours who raced to the Chivacoa Seniors Centre as it was engulfed in flames and thick smoke. Unfortunately there are eight victims, three were burned to death and five suffocated, Ramon Muchacho, mayor of the upscale Chacao district of Caracas, told reporters at the scene. At least 10 elderly people were treated for smoke inhalation but were not thought to be seriously ill. It is miraculous that more than 30 elderly people have been evacuated and rescued, added the mayor, saying that a short circuit appeared to have sparked the blaze. Fanny Araujo, 68, told that the fire broke out when she and other residents of the nursing home were getting ready for go to bed. who is from her party, has not laid out his farm platform but vows to be flexible in revising policies that are not working. Analysts say consumer prices in Argentina are rising at close to 30% per year, pumping up the cost of farm production. Scioli says he would reduce inflation to single digits by the end of his first fouryear term. Running second in opinion polls is Mauricio Macri, a freemarkets proponent who says he would reduce corn and wheat export curbs, which under current policy can be raised or lowered throughout the year. Growers say this policy leads to uncertainty that makes crop planning difficult. No matter who wins the presidency, the soybean export tax may have to remain in place next year because the government is running deficits and needs the money. The next government will not be able to touch the soybean export tax in 2016, Alfredo Paseyro, head of the Argentine Seed Venders Association, told. If you think otherwise, you re dreaming. Brazil s government announced yesterday that it will slash the number of ministries and reduce its spending, in an effort to show commitment to austerity that could be politically costly for President Dilma Rousseff. Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa said that the administrative overhaul aims to make the state more efficient, but did not specify how much the government could save. Barbosa added the government will cut 10 of its 39 ministries and that more details of the measure will be unveiled on August 31. Brazil s ruling Workers Party has been criticised for bloating the size of government. Since it took office in 2003, the number of ministries in Brasilia has ballooned from 26 to 39, more than double the 15 the Cabinetlevel departments Colombia rebels say they killed local leader Havana Colombia s Farc guerrillas have admitted yesterday to killing a black community leader in the country s southwest in early August. After initially rejecting any link to the August 3 shooting of Genaro Garcia, an activist for those forced to flee their homes by Colombia s fivedecade guerrilla war, leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) admitted that one of their units killed him. After carrying out internal investigations on the case, we have concluded that units attached to the (Farc s) Daniel Aldana mobile column were in fact implicated in committing this reprehensible act, rebel commander Pablo Catatumbo told a press conference in Havana, where the Farc is in peace talks with the government. Garcia was the president of the community council in the rural town of Alto Mira, located in a predominantly black area of Colombia. He was also a human rights activist and advocate for those uprooted by the conflict. Human Rights Watch has accused the Farc of targeting Afro Colombians in the region. Garcia had been under government protection after receiving repeated threats, but was gunned down in the town of Tumaco. The Farc initially denied any involvement. Catatumbo said the leftist guerrilla group would punish all commanders and fighters involved. The Colombian conflict has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced more than 6mn since the Farc launched its Marxist rebellion in The UN said last week that 69 community leaders and human rights activists have been killed in Colombia this year, more than double the same period last year a statistic it called alarming. The peace talks in Cuba, which opened in November 2012, have reached partial deals on several issues, but a definitive peace accord remains elusive. Brazil to reduce govt ministries and costs Brasilia Colombia decries increase in deportations by Venezuela Venezuela has intensified deportations of Colombians since President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of two border crossings last week, Colombia s migration office said yesterday, in some cases separating children from their parents. Expulsions, deportations and repatriations of Colombians from Venezuela have more than doubled this year to 3,800, officials from Migration Colombia told, from 1,820 in Since the border crossings were closed last week, 661 Colombians have been deported and 124 minors have been repatriated, sometimes being separated from their parents. Legally, children cannot be deported, therefore their movements are described by the authorities as repatriation. Maduro closed the crossings after a shootout between smugglers and troops left three soldiers wounded. He later declared a 60day state of emergency in five border municipalities. We demand that before applying deportation methods, each family situation is analysed to guarantee the union of parents and children, Colombia s foreign ministry said in a statement. Some 5mn Colombians live in Venezuela. Dozens of them returned to Colombia voluntarily over the weekend, according to officials and news reports. The porous 2,219km border shared by the two countries is frequently traversed by smugglers and illegal armed groups. used to govern the US. The distribution of ministry jobs has been crucial for the Workers Party to secure coalition partners needed to govern. The reduction in the number of ministries will likely deepen dissatisfaction among Rousseff s allies, mainly the PMDB party which is preparing to abandon the coalition to launch its own presidential candidate in It was clearly designed to demonstrate commitment to austerity to financial markets, said Neil Shearing, chief emerging market economist with Capital Economics in New York. The problem is that trimming ministries means trimming ministers, so the political obstacles will be high. Economists have said reducing ministries would save little at a time when Rousseff is scrambling to meet alreadyreduced fiscal targets and avoid losing Brazil s investmentgrade rating. Climbers bodies found Three bodies found on Ecuador s Chimborazo volcano are believed to be those of climbers who went missing some 20 years ago in an avalanche, officials said on Sunday. Mountain guides located the remains on Saturday during a climb on the volcano, which soars to 6,310m high in the Andes, about 130km south of Quito. A missing persons police official, Fernando De la Torre, said investigators were working to determine if the remains were those of the climbers missing in the avalanche that hit between 1994 and The frozen remains were found with backpacks, climbing gear and a film camera.
19 PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN 19 DIPLOMACY Pakistani prime minister to visit Kazakhstan CLASH AVIATION ENVIRONMENT ENTERTAINMENT Six militants, two security personnel killed Lahore aircraft navigation equipment to be upgraded Bad planning leads to fall of trees in Sindh province Two more seasons of Burka Avenger launched Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will embark on a twoday visit to Astana, Kazakhstan, today. The prime minister will be accompanied by a highlevel delegation. He is heading to the central Asian state at the invitation of President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported. Pakistan was among the first few countries that recognised and established diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan after its independence in December The Prime Minister s visit to Kazakhstan is reflective of his vision to enhance and strengthen Pakistan s relations with Central Asian Republics, a statement said. At least six militants and two security personnel, including a lieutenant colonel, were killed in a clash in the northern tribal region of Pakistan, the military s media wing reported yesterday. The InterServices Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed the killings in the clash that took place in Shawal area of North Waziristan. The final phase of the ZarbiAzb operation in North Waziristan got under way on Thursday as troops launched a ground offensive in Shawal Valley, one of the last strongholds of militants in the region. we have moved into the last stage of the operation. The ground action in Shawal has commenced, a military spokesman said. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Pakistan is upgrading its navigation infrastructure at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, to counter foggy weather and low visibility that affect landing of aircraft there. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. A CAA statement says the project involves the upgrading of Instrument Landing System (ILS) to CATIIIB at the Lahore airport and it will address the issue of disruption of flights during foggy conditions, ensuring safe and uninterrupted flight operations. The ILS CATIIIB system is supplemented by Advanced Airfield Lighting System and Surface Movement Radar. As the provincial government of Sindh s plan to plant 3mn trees in the province is yet to materialise, the existing trees in the city are falling for reasons ranging from bad planning on the part of the authorities concerned to what is being described as security hazards, it emerged yesterday. When it comes to strengthening security in our country, trees are the first victims to be targeted, said Dr Noman Ahmed of the department of architecture and planning of the NED University. A large number of trees, which included centuryold Banyan to Neem trees have been chopped down after the massacre at the armyrun school in Peshawar in December. Burka Avenger, the internationallyacclaimed animated children s show that scooped up an Emmy nomination and won its creator musician Aaron Haroon Rashid a Peabody award, is back for another two seasons. The team from Unicorn Black, the production house behind the awardwinning animated series has produced 26 halfhour episodes in just nine months. Launched in 2013, the show is set in the fictional town of Halwapur and follows the life of Jiya; a teacher by day, and a superhero whenever the situation calls for it. The show s success is evident from the fact that it was included in Time magazine s list of Influential Fictional Characters of Nuclear power Pakistan knows to defend itself Talks between top military brass in doubt Agencies Islamabad Holding that as a nucleararmed country, Pakistan knew how to defend itself, Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister s adviser on foreign affairs and national security, has accused India of acting like a regional superpower, a media report said yesterday. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi s India acts as if they are a regional superpower; we are a nucleararmed country and we know how to defend ourselves, Dawn yesterday quoted Aziz saying a day earlier. We also have evidence of Indian agency RAW s involvement in fuelling terrorism in Pakistan, Aziz said, adding that while Pakistan has evidence of Indian involvement in terrorism, India on the other hand only has propaganda against Pakistan. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi s India acts as if they are a regional superpower; we are a nucleararmed country and we know how to defend ourselves Propaganda against Pakistan is more important for the Indians, rather than giving us evidence, the adviser stated. Aziz also said that India wants normalisation on its own terms; it would like to talk about trade and connectivity but not much else. If Kashmir is not an issue for India, why have stationed 700,000 troops in Kashmir, he asked Aziz also stated that India should hold a referendum in Kashmir, and the people would decide their own fate. India should realise after the current episode that their tactics Activists of Pakistan TehreekeInsaaf party shout antiindia slogans during a protest in Multan yesterday. Pakistan has said it could not accept India s preconditions for highlevel talks, effectively cancelling a planned meeting between the two countries national security advisers. are not working, and they need to be sincere about dialogue with Pakistan, added Aziz. On Sunday, the Pakistan government decided to cancel the planned meeting of national security advisers with India, citing New Delhi s refusal to allow an expanded agenda and a meeting with Kashmiri leaders. The Indian external affairs ministry immediately termed the decision unfortunate and tried to wash its hands of the controversy that led to the cancellation of the meeting by saying that it did not set any preconditions. The decision was announced after Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj virtually set a deadline for Pakistan to decide by midnight if it was ready to go ahead with the talks by agreeing not to meet the Kashmiri leaders and restricting the discussion to terrorism. Besides a discussion on terrorism, Pakistan had sought inclusion of two additional points in the agenda a review of the progress on decisions taken in Ufa regarding release of fishermen, facilitating religious tourism and restoring peace along the Line of Control; and exploration of the modalities for discussions on other outstanding issues, including Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen. The meeting between the two countries security advisors was supposed to signal the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan. Break through the barriers of hostility: Daily IANS Islamabad The challenge for Pakistani and Indian leaders is how to break through the barriers of hostility, said a daily here yesterday after national security adviser level talks between the two countries were not held. An editorial Playing hard ball in the News International said that hurling blame one way and the other will solve nothing. The arrest of a key Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah as he arrived in New Delhi to meet (Pakistan s National Security Adviser Sartaj) Aziz and the arrest on Saturday of senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani also sends out the same message. It said that the challenge for leaders is how to break through the barriers of hostility. They appear to be growing higher and higher with each passing week. It is unfortunate that the precise nature of discussions at Ufa were not more India at present is not willing to abandon its increasingly antipakistan position and this will make it harder than ever before to move towards the dialogue the two countries and the region so urgently need transparent and more carefully spelled out before the public. This complicates matters. The daily said that essentially it all boils down to attitude. India at present is not willing to abandon its increasingly anti Pakistan position and this will make it harder than ever before to move towards the dialogue the two countries and the region so urgently need. The attempts to do so must however continue given that there is really no other choice for the two nations and their people, it said. The talks between Sartaj Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval were called off just a day ahead of Aziz s visit to New Delhi on Sunday. Pakistan s Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid has said that India made a clear Uturn on its previous position while there was no change in Pakistan s stance. The foreign office has also said terrorism was always on the agenda and there was every intention to discuss it, but this could not be the sole topic for talks, the daily said. Internews Islamabad Following the lastminute scuttling of talks between the national security advisers of Pakistan and India, proposed meetings between senior military officials of the two countries are now unlikely to take place in the near future, it was learnt from senior Pakistani officials. The separate meetings between Director General Military Operations (DGMOs) and heads of Pakistan Rangers and India s Border Security Force (BSF) were part of the understanding reached between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in their meeting in the Russian city of Ufa last month. New Delhi wanted the two meetings to take place before the NSAlevel talks but Islamabad proposed the interaction between senior military officials in September. Islamabad had suggested September 6 for the meeting between the heads of Rangers and BSF. It would have been followed by the DGMOs meeting. However, with the NSA talks called off due to differences over the agenda as well as Pakistan s invitation to Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders, the meetings between DGMOs as well as heads of Rangers and BSF are uncertain, said a senior Pakistani official. In fact, the entire Ufa agreement has now become controversial, the official added while requesting anonymity. He disclosed that the Ufa accord has become irrelevant as a result of cancellation of the NSA talks. Different interpretations of the Ufa joint statement had led to a blame game that eventually compelled Pakistan to call off the NSA talks just hours before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz was to travel to New Delhi. While India was adamant that under the Ufa accord, the NSA meeting was restricted to terrorismrelated issues, Pakistan insisted the Kashmir issue was very much part of the agenda. In an interview with India s CNNIBN news channel, Aziz admitted that the Ufa agreement was interpreted differently by both the countries. He, however, insisted that Pakistan s agenda of the NSA talks was in line with the Ufa joint statement. When asked, Aziz said the DGMOs meeting would go ahead but he would not give the exact date for the senior military officials talks. These meetings were aimed at reducing rising tensions along the Line of Control and working boundary. Since the Ufa meeting, there have been at least close to 200 incidents of ceasefire violations reported by both sides along the LoC and working boundary. Both sides accused the other for hostilities. The stalemate is likely to ratchet up tensions between the two neighbours, although Pakistan hoped the cancellation of talks would not further deteriorate ties. While prospects of resumption of talks seem remote at this stage, the official said both countries would now use backchannel to sort out modalities before any future engagements. Given the pressure by powerful Western countries, particularly the US, on both Pakistan and India, the two countries will still explore options for reengagement, said another official. The upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA) session may provide a platform to Islamabad and New Delhi to look into options for maintaining some kind of contact. The official said Pakistan was also considering the option of going aggressive on the Kashmir issue during the UNGA session where the prime minister will make the keynote address. But it depends how things pan out in coming days, said the official, adding if India continues sticking to its current stance, then Pakistan will be left with no other option but to raise the longstanding dispute at all international forums. India, however, continues harping on the old mantra of terrorism, further bedevilling relations with Pakistan instead of making efforts to minimise the damage done by the cancellation of the NSA talks. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary, Anurag Thakur, said on Saturday there will be no revival of cricketing relations with Pakistan if Islamabad harbours Dawood Ibrahim, India s mostwanted man, and continues dialogue with Hurriyet leaders. Dawood in Karachi. National Security Agency (NSA) wants to meet separatists here. Are you really serious about peace and you expect we ll play cricket with you? Thakur said in a twitter message, according to the Press Trust of India. Islamabad lodges protest with Kabul Antiterror drill Islamabad Pakistan has lodged a strong protest with Afghanistan over crossborder shelling that killed four Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani military said earlier that militants launched the attack on a checkpoint in a restive tribal region. Afghan ambassador Janan Mosazai was summoned to the foreign ministry and asked to urge his government to investigate the incident and share the result of the inquiry with the government of Pakistan, the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement. Such incidents do not augur well for the positive trajectory of relations the two sides have been able to achieve after sustained efforts. The ambassador was told Pakistan is willing to collaborate with Afghanistan to fight the common enemy but the attacks against our military personnel are unacceptable. Islamabad and Kabul regularly accuse each other of supporting militants who cross the porous border to carry out attacks and of giving sanctuary to them. Afghanistan in particular accuses Pakistan of supporting Afghan Taliban insurgents. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who has actively courted Pakistan since coming to power last year recently criticised his eastern neighbour of failing to rein in the Taliban following a series of deadly attacks in Kabul. Pakistan historically backed the Taliban regime during its time in power in Afghanistan and some observers believe it continues to support the organisation s insurgency. Rockets were fired Sunday from the Afghan side of the border into Khyber region, one of the seven semiautonomous tribal regions where the Pakistani military has been battling Taliban and Al Qaeda militants for years. According to reports, rounds fired from (the) Afghanistan side by terrorists hit an 8,000feethigh Pakistani post in Akhandwala Pass, the military said in a statement. Four soldiers were killed and four others wounded, it said. Pakistani troops befittingly responded and eliminated the group of terrorists, it added. Pakistan s seven tribal districts near the Afghan border are rife with homegrown insurgents and are strongholds of Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives. Pakistan has been demanding Afghanistan hand over hardline cleric Fazlullah, now chief of the TehreekeTaliban Pakistan and believed to be hiding in eastern Afghanistan. Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for more than a decade following the late 2001 USled invasion of Afghanistan. Members of Crime Terrorism Department take part in an antiterrorism drill in Lahore yesterday.
20 20 PHILIPPINES Cabinet may be shaken up next month Members of the Philippine Air Force distribute relief goods to the residents after their town was battered by Typhoon Goni at Santa Ilocos Sur province, north of Manila. Philippines flies aid to thousands of marooned as typhoon toll rises Manila Philippine army helicopters yesterday airlifted food, water and relief supplies to thousands of families who fled their homes during a typhoon as more bodies were pulled out from under landslides, disaster officials said. Typhoon Goni killed at least 26 people in landslides and floods in the Philippines, officials said yesterday, as the storm bore down on Japan. Rescue teams clawed away at a mountainside near the remote mining town of Mankayan in the country s north, after recovering the bodies of 13 miners buried by a landslide that struck the area two days earlier. The landslide buried miners sheltering in huts used as a rest area. The slope collapsed after being saturated with rain, Ivy Carasi, a spokeswoman for the civil defence office in the region, told. Officials did not elaborate on how many miners were still missing in the landslide s wake. We don t really know how many more miners are missing because the numbers compiled by the police and local government do not tally, said Carasi. Goni hit parts of the northern Philippines hard over the weekend, destroying nearly a thousand houses and forcing more than 12,000 people to flee, the civil defence office said. More than a dozen other people in the mountainous region were killed by landslides, surging waters and a falling tree, the civil defence office in Manila added. Apart from the unspecified number of missing Mankayan miners, four people were still unaccounted for elsewhere in the country, including a fiveyearold girl. The child disappeared after a river overflowed and swept away her home near the coastal town of Subic late on Sunday, killing her two siblings aged two and nine months, Vic Otero, a local civil defence official, told. The family had been advised to evacuate as early as last week. Apparently they did not heed the warning, Otero said, adding their parents survived. Goni is the ninth out of an average of 20 storms that hit the Philippines each year. Packing gusts up to 252km (160 miles) per hour, Goni was yesterday moving just north of the main island in Japan s Okinawa island chain. Five people sustained minor injuries as it brushed over Japawn s Ishigakijima island, according to the country s Fire and Disaster Management Agency. The storm was on course directly to hit Kyushu island today, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. It caused power outages to 21,400 households in the southern region yesterday morning, Okinawa Electric Power reported. Thousands in Taiwan were evacuated from outlying islands and mountainous areas as a precaution, including 1,500 from the hot spring region of Wulai just outside Taipei. By Joel M. Sy Egco Manila Times Changes in President Benigno Aquino 3rd s Cabinet can be expected next month as a number of officials are filing their certificates of candidacy for next year s elections. No less than Aquino himself announced yesterday that there will be changes in his team, naming at least three officials who will fill up the administration party slate in the May polls. There will be a shakeup because in October we have colleagues who will announce their bids for the 2016 polls. There is Manuel Mar Roxas 2nd, there is Francis Tolentino, there is Joel Villanueva, the president said. Roxas, Interior and Local Government Secretary will be the Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate, while Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority or MMDA and Villanueva, directorgeneral of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or Tesda, are reportedly vying for the 12 Senate seats up for grabs in Besides the three, Aquino said a number of government officials even outside the Cabinet are seeking elective posts next year. There are other officials who are expected to resign to pursue their plans to run in the 2016 elections, the president added in Filipino. But Aquino clarified that the changes will not be a revamp since none of those who will resign are going not because they perform poorly. It s probably wrong to call it a revamp but we really have to designate people who have no political plans to head various agencies, the president said. Villanueva was reported to be having a falling out with some LP stalwarts identified with the camp of Roxas. It was not immediately known if the Tesda chief would run under the banner of the administration coalition or with another party such as the Nationalist People s Coalition (NPC). Villanueva has claimed that majority of NPC members are supportive of his senatorial bid. In the same interview yesterday, Aquino belied reports that some LP members are bolting the party once Sen. Grace Poe decides to run against Roxas. Nobody s giving hints, no one s sending feelers or sending anonymous letters, the President said. Roxas, meanwhile, revealed to reporters that three Cabinet secretaries have been shortlisted for the LP s senatorial slate. The party s standardbearer identified the three as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, MM DA s Tolentino and Health Secretary Janette Garin. Secretary Leila, Secretary Francis and Secretary Janet are all very qualified. They have shown their dedication and faith in straight path. Certainly, they would be among those in consideration, Roxas said as he referred to the Aquino administration s good governance mantra. Lawyer says US Marine did not murder Philippine transgender Manila A US Marine accused of murder told a Philippine court yesterday he fought with and subdued a transgender Filipina in selfdefence but denied murdering her, his lawyer said. Eight months after he was charged over the death of Jennifer Laude, Joseph Scott Pemberton admitted they fought after an encounter, said his lawyer Rowena Flores. Pemberton, who was 22 at the time, said Laude, 26, slapped him and caused him to respond in defence, Flores said. After some time, to subdue Jeffrey, Joseph Scott Pemberton held his (Laude s) head under his armpit. Jeffrey stopped moving. Joseph Scott Pemberton tried to revive him, Flores added, using the victim s former name of Jeffrey. Harry Roque, a lawyer representing the victim s family at the trial, said the US marine testified he held Laude in an armlock until she stopped moving. He then dragged her to (the) bathroom and dumped her, Roque added. Another lawyer for the family, Virgie Suarez, said Pemberton confessed to choking Laude but said he thought she was just unconscious. Flores said Pemberton told the court he left Laude alive in the bathroom. Government prosecutors said Pemberton and Laude had left a bar in the northern port of Olongapo and checked in at a nearby motel, where they alleged the American strangled the victim. Pemberton, who had just taken part in joint USPhilippine military exercises nearby when the alleged murder occurred, was taken to the Olongapo trial court yesterday by armed escort from his cell at a Philippine military camp in Manila. Freed senator Enrile says he is not excited to be back By Jefferson Antiporda Manila Times Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile has returned to the Senate but unlike his colleagues who expressed excitement, the veteran lawmaker said he is not excited to be back because it s his job to be there. The 91yearold senator added that he still feels the same and he intends to continue working and do his job as lawmaker. I m not excited, I m just going to work, Enrile told reporters. I will perform my duty for as long as I have my own energy, he said. Enrile was ordered arrested and detained by the Sandiganbayan in connection with plunder and other graftrelated charges filed against him for his alleged involvement in the multibillionpeso pork barrel scam. The Supreme Court (SC), last week, granted his petition for bail allowing him to be released temporarily from detention. Enrile said he did not miss his work in the Senate because he has kept himself busy working on state papers while he was in detention. I believe I m still lacking in knowledge that is why I m studying, he told reporters in Filipino. The veteran lawmaker said he also does not see his more than 12 months in hospital arrest as a waste of his time, although he believes that it is unfair to the nation. Because I am receiving my salary but I m not working, isn t it? Enrile explained. When asked if he will actively participate in debates on the proposed Basic Law on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), he replied that he still has to look at the proposal. Senator Ferdnand Marcos Jr, in an earlier interview, said Enrile s inputs and wise counsel could help in plenary debates on his proposed version of the BLBAR. The Senate began interpellations on the BLBAR also yesterday. Enrile, meanwhile, refused to discuss issues relating to his case and even refrain to give comments on a statement earlier made by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that the granting of his bail petition has turned the country into a banana republic. I don t have views about it, I cannot discuss my case, the senator said. The president also yesterday maintained that the Supreme Court (SC) decision to grant Enrile bail would not undermine the government s campaign to pursue corrupt officials. Speaking to reporters in Cebu City, he was asked if the granting of bail to Enrile would affect the government s anticorruption drive. Plunder is supposed to be nonbailable, that is a very important point for Secretary de Lima. Now, many nonbailable cases can now be considered bailable if evidence is weak. In the Supreme Court decision, nothing was mentioned about evidence and it seemed to focus only on Sen. Enrile s age and health], Aquino said. He noted that the National Bureau of Investigation recently filed before the Ombudsman the third set of cases against officials suspected of misusing their pork barrel funds. Trial is going on, the President said. He reiterated that the High Court released Enrile on bail for humanitarian reasons rather than weak evidence against the senator. When asked about renewed calls for the SC to also grant former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria MacapagalArroyo bail, the president replied that those who have committed crimes must be held accountable. Heavy crime begets heavy punishment, he said. Arroyo faces a P366mn plunder case in connection with alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office intelligence fund during her second term as President from 2004 to 2010, as well as electoral sabotage for alleged election fraud in the 2004 presidential elections and the 2007 senatorial elections. Enrile: I m not excited, I m just going to work.
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