1 INDEX QATAR 2 13, 34, 36 REGION 14 ARAB WORLD 15, 16 INTERNATIONAL COMMENT BUSINESS CLASSIFIED SPORTS 32, , QATAR Page 34 Food festival draws thousands of visitors GULF SPORT Page 2 10th title just the right prescription for Doctor Rossi 17, % TIMESLatest Figures DOW JONES QE NYMEX 11, % THURSDAY Vol. XXXVI No March 26, 2015 Jumada II 6, 1436 AH www. gulftimes.com 2 Riyals % published in QATAR since 1978 In brief QATAR Regulations Stiff fines for wasting power and water The weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday approved a draft law aimed at curbing excessive use of electricity and potable water. The draft law, amending some provisions of Law No 26 of 2008 on the rationalisation of electricity and water consumption, has been referred to the Advisory Council. As per the draft law s provisions, automatic switches for external lighting of buildings and institutions shall be fitted in accordance with the terms and specifications set in a decision to be issued by the president of Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa). Anyone violating provisions of the law shall be punished with a fine not exceeding QR10,000. Page 8 AMERICA Discovery Curiosity rover finds nitrogen on Mars Nasa s Curiosity rover has found nitrogen on the surface of Mars, a significant discovery that adds to evidence the Red Planet could once have sustained life, the space agency said yesterday. Page 18 Supplement Today s issue of includes a supplement to mark Bangladesh National Day. Qatar and India sign six pacts Qatar has expressed interest in Modi s Make in India initiative IANS New Delhi Qatar and India signed six agreements, including on transfer of sentenced prisoners, as HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad althani held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on energy, investment and peopletopeople ties yesterday. HH the Emir, who is in New Delhi on a twoday state visit, was accorded a ceremonial reception in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan (presidential palace) in the morning. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on the Emir, after which he held talks with Modi at Hyderabad House. Besides bilateral ties, the discussion between the two sides focused on the latest developments in the Middle East region. Qatar, the largest source of India s LNG imports at 86%, is keen on boosting energy ties. Bilateral trade stands at $16bn, heavily weighted in favour of Qatar due to the LNG imports. Qatar has expressed interest in Modi s Make in India initiative. India is also seeking to invest in major infrastructure projects in Qatar which is hosting the FIFA World Cup in The six agreements, besides transfer of sentenced prisoners, were: an MoU for cooperation in information and communication technology, an MoU between the ministry of earth sciences and Qatar Meteorological Department for scientific and technical cooperation, an MoU between the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar and the Foreign Service Institute of India s external affairs ministry, an MoU for cooperation in the field of radio and television and an agreement for mutual cooperation and exchange of news. Indian External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: India Qatar discuss energy, investment & people to people ties. 6 agreements signed. Under the agreement on transfer of sentenced prisoners, Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar can be brought to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence. Similarly, Qatari citizens convicted in India can be sent to their home country to serve their sentence. This agreement would enable the sentenced people to be near their families and would help in their social rehabilitation, said an official statement. HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad althani with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday. The Emir is accompanied by a highlevel delegation comprising ministers, senior officials and captains of industry. He arrived in Delhi on Tuesday night from Colombo. He was earlier in Islamabad. HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa althani had visited India thrice in 1999, 2005 and India s then prime minister Manmohan Singh had visited Qatar in November Around 600,000 Indian nationals work in Qatar, comprising the largest expatriate community in the country. Earlier in an interview with the Times of India newspaper, HH the Emir said: We trust the Indian economy. We ll invest in India. We re looking at infrastructure investments. The Emir left India yesterday evening, ending an Asian tour that included Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Page 36 Qatar s Foreign Minister, HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed alattiyah, and India s Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, exchanging documents after signing an agreement in the presence of HH the Emir and Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi yesterday. Yemen leader is taken to safe location Aden Yemen s leader was rushed to a secure location yesterday as rebel forces bore down on his southern stronghold and a warplane attacked his presidential complex, prompting pleas for urgent intervention. The escalating turmoil has stoked fears that Yemen is teetering on the brink of allout civil war. A top aide of President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi said the leader had been taken to a safe haven within Aden, the southern port city where he fled last month. Earlier a source in the presidential guard said that Hadi had flown overseas, but the aide denied he had left the country. Yemen has been gripped by growing turmoil since the Houthi Shia rebels launched a power takeover in Sanaa in February. Page 14 Cockpit tape may unravel crash riddle Investigators yesterday retrieved cockpit voice recordings from one of the black boxes of the German Airbus plane that smashed into the Alps, killing everyone onboard, and they expect a preliminary readout of their content in days offering clues to the crash. Page 23
2 2 QATAR Transport Minister meets German envoy HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed alsulaiti and Germany s ambassador to Qatar Angelica Renate Storz Chakerji held a meeting in Doha yesterday. They discussed issues concerning developments in the country and the possibility of strengthening cooperation between Germany and Qatar in the transport and other infrastructure sectors. WISH launches programme aimed at improving patient care QNA Doha The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in partnership with Imperial College London, has launched the Safer Care Accelerator programme that aims to share global best practices in care and treatment to expedite improvement in patient safety. Patient safety is the third biggest killer in the US and costs $1tn a year. Errors in treatment and care are claiming 400,000 lives each year. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care, said a statement. Failure to address the growing concern of patient safety contributes to waste in the healthcare system and skyrocketing costs. It is estimated that as much as onethird of all US healthcare spending was consumed by waste in Patient Safety is clearly a serious public health issue and yet is often overlooked in national policy and global agendas, it added. In response to this challenge, the Safer Care Accelerator, a yearlong programme, will bring together an international group of healthcare organisations concerned with the unprecedented costs, financial and physical, associated with poor patient safety, it further stated. Throughout the year, members will exchange insights, experiences, and data on the topic of patient safety, culminating in the publication of a global report. So far, 15 organisations spanning six continents have joined the effort, including Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). WISH is spearheaded by Qatar Foundation to inspire and diffuse healthcare innovation and best practice. It remains closely aligned to the vision and mission of QF to unlock human potential and reinforces Qatar s pioneering role as an emerging center for healthcare innovation. The past two WISHsummits have been held in Doha, attracting leaders from the global healthcare community. The Safer Care Accelerator programme is part of WISH and Imperial College London s Leading Health Systems Network (LHSN) initiative. Set up in 2009, LHSN has worked with 21 health systems in 11 countries helping them to overcome the challenges they face in providing high value care to the populations they serve.
6 6 QATAR 550 students take part in CNAQ competition More than 550 students took part yesterday in the fifth annual College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNAQ) Skills Competition. The event, sponsored by Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco) is described as the only one of its kind in Qatar. The CNAQ Skills Competition demonstrates the value of technical education and how it translates to tangible, employable skills for our graduates, said president Dr Ken MacLeod. Across the campus, students were involved in competitions ranging from website design to chemical analysis, public speaking to health scenarios. When the daylong competition was finished, 164 awards were presented by the deans of Business Studies, Engineering Technology, Health Sciences, Information Technology, Language Studies & Academics and Technician Preparatory Programme. Qapco s learning and development manager Abdullah Ahmed Naji presented a highest achiever award. Noor alsheeb, a Business Studies student in the Human Resources programme, also took first place in the Job Search competition. Vice chairman and CEO Dr Mohamed Yousef al Mulla said companies such as Qapco prefer employees who are motivated to pursue opportunities for selfimprovement. We want people who not only have great skills but also have the desire to continually learn, to keep on discovering and want to continue studying. That is why this competition is important as it will sharpen the skills of the students and ensure that they will be marketable in an increasingly competitive working environment. He recalled that Qapco and CNAQ have implemented many new educational programmes such as the Professional Chair of Vocational Studies that will make a difference to the future of vocational training and to the youth of Qatar. The winners of the Skills Competition will also have the opportunity to travel to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in May to witness the Canada National Skills Competition as honorary members of Team Newfoundland and Labrador. The winners of the CNAQ Skills Competition. Maintenance work at HGH The Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) will undertake the final phase of infrastructure upgrades and maintenance work at Hamad General Hospital (HGH) tomorrow and on Saturday. Some areas of the hospital will be without power for part of the day on both days. This work has been carefully planned by engineering experts in partnership with the clinical teams and it is expected that full power will be restored within hours in each area impacted. To ensure minimal disruption to patients and visitors, HMC has also taken measures to provide seamless and high quality care to patients. A portion of the HGH Emergency Department will be without power but will continue to take walkin patients and trauma cases. However, nonurgent cases transported by ambulance may be diverted to other hospitals in the HMC system. HMC has also requested the patients and visitors for their support and understanding in its endeavour to enhance the services and upgrade the facilities to ensure the safest, most effective and compassionate care to the patients.
8 8 QATAR Draft law sets stiff ﬁnes for wasting power, water QNA Doha T he Weekly Cabinet meeting, presided over by HE the Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa althani at the Emiri Diwan yesterday has approved a draft law aimed at curbing excessive use of electricity and potable water. The draft law, amending some provisions of Law No 26 of 2008 on the rationalisation of electricity and water consumption, has been referred to the Advisory Council. As per the draft law s provisions, special automatic switches for external lighting of buildings and institutions shall be ﬁtted in accordance with the terms and speciﬁcations set in a decision to be issued by the President of Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa). Anyone violating provisions of Article (4/item1) of the law, which prohibits occupants of buildings and establishments, owners or tenants, from using or allowing the use of potable wa ter for washing cars, equipment, external yards of buildings and establishments, by using hoses or other means of direct ﬂow, shall be punished with a ﬁne not exceeding QR10,000. Anyone violating Article (4/ item 3,4), which prohibits leaving lights ﬁxed on walls, external facades of buildings, public or private establishments on from 7am to 4.30pm and leaving destroyed or broken parts of the internal water network which can cause leakage of water, unrepaired after receiving a notiﬁcation from the Corporation to repair leakages, shall be punished with a ﬁne not exceeding QR10,000. The Cabinet took steps for the issuance of the safety regulations for small cargo ships not covered by international maritime treaties in GCC states after the Cabinet took note of the Advisory Council s recommendation on the draft law. The Cabinet approved the following: 1. A draft law on persons with disabilities. The draft law includes provisions pertaining to rights of persons with disabilities and the organisation of services and programmes delivered to them. In accordance with these provisions a committee, to be named the National Committee for Persons with Disabilities, is to be formed by a cabinet decision under the chairmanship of the Labour and Social Affairs Undersecretary. A representative of the ministry will be the vicechairman and representatives of bodies concerned will be members of the committee. The decision shall deﬁne its functions and regulations. A committee for persons with disabilities will also be set up to care for their interests, defend their rights and represent them with regard to all matters concerning them. The draft law stipulates that a person with disability shall have the right to enjoy a special social and psychological care to promote his selfreliance and facilitate his integration into society. Not less than 2% of job scales in bodies concerned shall be allocated for persons with disabilities and employment shall be in accordance to the capacities HE the Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa althani and qualiﬁcations of the persons with disabilities upon a proposal by the ministry to the bodies concerned. Business owners in the private sector who appoint 25 workers and more shall abide by allocating the abovementioned percentage to persons with disabilities to occupy them with a minimum number on one worker. According to the cabinet draft decision, concerned bodies in the government, each within its competence, shall take the necessary measures to enable persons with disabilities, each within his capacities, to take advantage of job and appointment opportunities and of receiving education, qualifying, health and preventive services as well as appropriate housing. They shall also have access to public and private facilities as well as medicallyequipped means of transport to carry them to different places. The Cabinet also approved the following: 1. A draft cabinet decision amending the organisation of some administrative units of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) and deﬁning its functions. 2. A draft decision by the Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning establishing sections at administrative units of the Public Works Corporation (Ashghal) and deﬁning its functions. The Cabinet approved a draft decision by the Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning issuing regulations for the law organising the practice of engineering professions. The ministerial draft decision includes provisions related to registration in the engineering professions register, engineering professions specialisations, categories and bases of classiﬁcation, applications, procedures and fees of registration and its renewal, and commitments of the licensee. The Cabinet approved a draft decision by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs setting rules of the classiﬁcation of nurseries, qualiﬁcation of their staff, regulations of technical and educational expertise, the expenses they levy and licensing fees. A draft decision by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs setting conditions and regulations of nurseries premises. The ﬁrst draft decision covers rules related to the classiﬁcation of nurseries, conditions of work there, necessary technical and educational expertise, the expenses they levy and deﬁning of licenses and their renewal. The second draft decision covers rules related to procedures of getting nurseries licences, conditions and regulations of their premises and their supervision and control. The Cabinet approved a draft decision by the Minister of Environment endorsing a GCC technical regulation as a Qatari technical regulation. The cabinet also approved the following: 1. A draft air services agreement between governments of Qatar and Hungary. 2. A draft agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of ﬁscal evasion with regard to income tax between governments of Qatar and Nigeria and its annexed draft protocol. 3. A draft cooperation agreement on the development of trade services of the intellectual property office between the Qatari Ministry of Economy and Commerce and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The Cabinet reviewed a letter by HE the Minister of Energy and Industry who is also head of the Standing Committee of Water Resources on the fourth quarterly report of 2014 on the committee s activities and took the appropriate decision. Indian varsity delegation to visit Doha A team from SRM University, a leading Indian private university catering to students from 48 countries and from across India, will be in Doha from today until April 5. Functioning from six locations across India, SRM is ranked as India s No.1 (factual ranking) by India Today National Assessment and Accreditation Council and Ministry of Human Resource Development placed SRM in A category. Being a multistream university, SRM has made several novel and innovative inclusions in the list of courses offered. These include Bachelor of Design (Interior Design), B Tech in Nanotechnology and Aerospace Engineering, M Tech in Nanotechnology, Robotics, Cloud Computing, Food and Nutritional Biotechnology, Food Safety and Quality Management, Solar Energy, Operation Management and Learn ERP and Solar One of the campuses of SRM University Photovoltaic. There are undergraduate programmes in a host of disciplines at SRM, the most preferred institu Ministry recalls Nissan Urvan vehicles The Ministry of Economy and Commerce has announced a free recall campaign for Nissan Urvan vehicles (model ) to fix a default in the connection of the turbo cooling hose, which may decrease the power of the engine. The campaign is conducted in cooperation with Saleh AlHamad AlMana, the distributor of Nissan vehicles in Qatar. Independence Day greetings sent HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad althani, HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad althani and HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa althani have sent cables of congratulations to President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos on his country s Independence Day. tion for over 265 top notch companies, recruiting students on campus. Every year, SRM places over 3,500 students in India and abroad. The SRM University team would be based at Horizon Manor Hotel, Jabr Bin Mohamed Street, Doha. Israeli occupation key factor for instability in the region QNA Geneva Q atar has stressed that the continuation of Israel s occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories is a key factor for the state of instability in the region. This came on Tuesday in Qatar s speech delivered by Jassim almuawda, Third Secretary in Qatar s Permanent Delegation to UN office in Geneva (UNOG), during the public debate under Chapter VII of the Human Rights Council, entitled The human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, in the framework of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council. AlMuawda said that Israel is committing the most heinous violations of human rights against the Palestinian people, killing women, children and the elderly, without accountability of the international community, which puts the credibility of the international community, especially the Security Council at stake. He stressed that Qatar, despite the crises that ail the Arab region, believes that the Palestinian issue is pivotal for the Arab and Muslim worlds. We also believe that the continuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories has been a key factor in the instability that has prevailed in the region since the beginning of the occupation, he said. He expressed deep concern over the postponement of the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza war, which would expose the heinous Israeli practices in that war. The pressure exerted by Israel on the Commission conﬁrms the intimidation policy carried out against the United Nations committees and various organs, and keeps the state of Israel above the law, he added. AlMuawda stressed that the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, is only a failed attempt to break the Palestinian people s will in resisting the occupation.
9 Under the auspices of H E Dr. Mohamed Bin Saleh AlSada Minister of Energy and Industry QAFCO FLOWER & VEGETABLE SHOW 2015 File Photo: 2014 QAFCO flower and vegetable show reinforces our commitment to protect the environment, says Dr. Al Marwani Mesaieed: Qafco Flower and Vegetable Show sponsored and organized by QAFCO under the auspices of H E Dr. Mohamed Bin Saleh Al Sada Minister of Energy and Industry, will be held on Friday 27th March 2015 and Saturday 28th March 2015 at AIBanush Club, Mesaieed.. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Hamed Al Marwani, Chief H.E. DR. MOHAMED BIN SALEH ALSADA, MINISTER OF ENERGY & INDUSTRY, MR. KHALIFA ABDULLAH ALSOWAIDI, QAFCO VICECHAIRMAN & CEO QAFCO said, This is a Dr. HAMED AHMED H A ALMARWANI prestigious event that stands testimony to the fact that Qafco cares for the community and involves itself keenly it the cultural and social activities of the community it operates in. This annual show held during the spring of every year demonstrates QAFCO s aesthetic appreciation of the bounties of nature and its environmental consciousness. The show is also reflective of the company s green policies. which we aim to incorporate into our daytoday life, he said. Dr. Al Marwani elaborating on the success of the show, said the event has come a long way from when it was first organized in first organized in 1988 in Mesaieed. The event is a testimony to the perseverance of a group of QAFCO employees and their families who have developed the event from a small room in the club to the scale that it is now. The number of exhibits has multiplied phenomenally and so have the categories. Speaking on the new format of the show, Dr. Al Marwani said Due to popular demand the show days have been extended to two days. The QAFCO Flower & Vegetable Show 2015 will take place on Friday 27th March 2015 and Saturday 28th March 2015 at AIBanush Club, Mesaieed. Elaborating on the new format, Dr. Al Marwani said, As part of this, the there are some changes on the format of the show. One of the most popular events the live competitions in vegetable carving for professionals and ice carving for professionals will take place on Friday while the live competitions in Live Flower arrangements for amateur (ladies) and professionals will take place on Saturday. Today, when the talk is about the earth that the future generation will inherit, an event like this goes a long way in spreading the awareness on the environment. The enthusiasm with which young children from various schools participate in this event Friday, 27th March 2015 from 9:00 AM to 8 PM 09:00 A.M: Opening ceremony 1:30 PM: Live competition Vegetable Carving For Professionals 3:00 PM: Live Competition Ice Carving for Professionals Saturday, 28th March 2015 from 9:30 AM to 6 PM 11:00 A.M Live competition in Flower arrangement 12 :00 Noon Live Competition Live Flower Arrangement for Professional 4:00 PM: Prize distribution
10 10 QATAR Ooredoo partners with Fortinet to offer security solutions Ooredoo has announced that Fortinet will be its preferred security partner, in a comprehensive agreement that will provide companies across Qatar with the highest level of digital security. The partnership, which was signed by Ooredoo s chief new business officer Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad bin Nasser althani and Fortinet regional vicepresident (Middle East) Alain Penel, will add a new dimension to Ooredoo s portfolio of security services, according to a statement. Fortinet protects the most valuable assets of some of the largest enterprises, service providers and government organisations across the globe. The company s fast, secure and global cyber security solutions provide broad, highperformance protection against dynamic security threats while simplifying the IT infrastructure. Under the MSSP (managed security service provider) agreement, Fortinet technology will be offered with Ooredoo business services, so that customers can deploy antispam services, firewalls, VPNs and antivirus solutions without compromising the performance of their network Ooredoo will also work with Fortinet, which has more than 210,000 clients around the world, to develop a new range of security solutions that can work in networked, application or mobile environments an essential resource for companies looking to manage the next generation of security threats. Dozens win prizes in promotion draw Waleed alsayed, chief operating officer of Ooredoo Qatar, said: Working with Fortinet, we aim to develop comprehensive security solutions that meet the security and performance requirements of government agencies, retailers, hospitality, energy and finance organisations. Our customers will enjoy maximum security and minimal complexity thanks to a consolidated security based on a single technology and a unified environment from the network to the enduser. Penel said, Working with Ooredoo, we are deploying our solutions on one of the region s most robust networks and extending the highest level of security outside of the office network and out onto devices. The partnership is the latest in a series of significant strategic initiatives by Ooredoo to enhance the range of services and solutions available to businesses in Qatar, the statement adds. Nextgeneration services offered by Ooredoo include Smart Home Automation, Out of Country Disaster Recovery, Cloud Security, Cloud Security Solutions, Smart Healthcare Solutions, Smart Cloud Marketplace, M2M Solutions and more. Customers wishing to experience Ooredoo s portfolio of business solutions can visit the Oasis Lab at Ooredoo s HQ1 in West Bay via an appointment with the Ooredoo business team, where they can also see a demo of the new Fortinet solution. The mega draw for the LuLuAli Bin Ali & Partners Promotion has been held at LuLu Hypermarket, DRing Road branch, under the supervision of Mohamed Hamza alkuwari, inspector from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, whereby 10 gold coins each weighing 10gm and LuLu Gift vouchers worth a total of QR32,500 were given away as prizes to 60 winners. Officials from LuLu Hypermarket Group and Ali Bin Ali & Partners were present at the draw. College of Medicine to follow crossdisciplinary approach The College of Medicine (CMED) at Qatar University (QU), which is to open in September this year, will follow contextual learning or crossdisciplinary approach along with casebased learning (CBL), Dr Egon Toft has said. Dr Toft, CMED dean and QU vice president for medical education, said, We are creating a medical cluster within QU, whereby medical, pharmaceutical, public health, nutrition, biomedical and other health sciences can benefit from a seamless integration. He added that the CMED will also implement in its curricula other international trends in medical education such as competencybased learning, as well as methods like the flipped classroom, technologyenabled curricula, and longitudinal integrated clerkships (LIC). The CMED combines an international curriculum and quality standards that prepare students for internationally accepted medical licensing examinations with locally relevant medical, professional and communication skills. Students will be fully prepared to take one of the standardised international medical licensing tests before graduation, and after graduation they will become leaders in improving healthcare in Qatar and the region. According to the dean, the CMED provides a patientcentred and CBL to its students which will allow them to have exposure to situations where medical cases with real patients are assessed very Dr Egon Toft, dean, CMED early in their studentship. This occurs most significantly in the last two and a half years, which they spend in clerkships, primarily at Hamad Medical Corporation. The dean also maintained that students will learn in small groups that emphasise teamwork, leadership and Arabic communication skills, giving them an added competitive advantage for practising in the region, especially in easily overcoming any language barriers in patientphysician communication. The college has also a close and organic integration with the Qatari healthcare, which enables students to gain a deep understanding of the local specificities of the sector, and of cases common in the country and the region. They will also have the opportunity to develop a professional network within the medical field. Research is also a key element in CMED academic programmes. It will be an integrated part of the study programme as quickly as possible by involving active researchers in the teaching process. The CMED s international advisory board comprises current and former leaders from international medical schools such as Stanford University School of Medicine, Perdana School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, University of Heidelberg s Medical School, American University of Beirut, US Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and others. Additionally, the CMED s steering committee comprises national leaders in healthcare and education within Qatar such as QU president, Primary Health Care Corporation managing director, as well as several key members of HMC including the managing director among other officials. This ensures that while the needs of the local healthcare sector are the priority, international best practice is a key guiding element in how these needs can be met. Research module under Al Bairaq programme ends The Centre for Advanced Materials (CAM) has concluded the ninth cycle of the I am a Researcher module under the Al Bairaq programme at Qatar University (QU). The closing ceremony witnessed the participation of three high schools in Qatar in the presence of CAM director Dr Mariam almaadeed, AlBairaq supervisor and CAM external affairs manager Dr Noora althani and the participating students. I am a Researcher is one of Al Bairaq tracks that targets students in grade 12. It provides students with handson research experience by working on research projects with Qatar University professors in many disciplines, where students are treated as research assistants. The module witnessed the participation of Unesco Doha office (partner), the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science (partner), RasGas (platinum sponsor), Maersk Oil Qatar (gold sponsor), Qatar Shell (silver sponsor). Fourteen students from three high schools submitted five research works covering important topics related to the Qatari industrial field and the oil and gas sector. The Diabetes group from Omar Bin Khatab Independent High School for Boys won the first place for both the best presentation and documentary. Dr almaadeed said, Al Bairaq programme contributes to fostering scientific development by promoting scientific culture and research, which raises its value as a means of knowledge to solve problems and achieve a sustainable development. It aims to increase the awareness of high school national students about all scientific and technological changes in Qatar and the world. Participating students with officials at the closing ceremony.
12 12 QATAR Scattered rains predicted There are chances of scattered rains, accompanied by thunder and lightning, this evening, according to the Met office. The weather is likely to become hazy, misty and partly cloudy by the evening, it said. Moderate temperatures are forecast. In the offshore areas, there will be thundershowers by late in the evening and the sea is expected to rise by 7ft at times. Winds may vary between 15 and 25 knots onshore and between 6 and 22 knots offshore. Visibility is expected to be between 4 and 8km. The minimum and maximum temperatures will be 16 and 29 degrees Centigrade. In Doha, it will be between 17 and 28 degrees. On the southern side of the country, the temperatures may vary between 17 and 28 degrees Centigrade. In northern Ruwais, the minimum and maximum temperatures will be 20 and 24 degrees Centigrade respectively. Al Khor will have temperatures between 16 and 26 degrees. Expedite opening of Al Furjan markets Qatari nationals have called upon authorities to expedite the opening of Al Furjan (neighbourhood) markets, local Arabic daily Arrayah has reported. While work on many of these markets has been completed, no date has apparently been specified for their opening, the daily said. A number of citizens have stressed that these shops will save them a lot of effort in the purchase of daily requirements, as many of them have to cover long distances to reach shopping centres, especially residents of areas such as Umm Al Sanim and Al Thumama. The daily has learnt that the permanent steering committee for investments and real estate funds for government markets in the Ministry of Economy and Commerce has asked investors, to whom stores have been allocated, to complete the installation of equipment and start operations soon. Frette store opens at Lagoona Mall The Ali Bin Ali Group has announced the opening of a Frette store at Lagoona Mall. Frette is a leading provider of luxury linens to the finest hotels and homes worldwide and boasts of a range of bed and bath collections, home décor, clothing and gifts for clientele with discerning taste. The upscale brand is popular for its class and quality, according to a statement. Leila El Rajji, brand manager for Frette, said: The opening of a Frette store at Lagoona Mall is a continuation of our vision and commitment to bring the world s best brands to Qatar. Frette serves a wide range of audiences and has over the years captured the loyalty of its customers for its elegance. The store at Lagoona Mall will carry Frette s latest ranges from the Minimal Collection, which is the finest representation of relaxation and understated elegance, right through to more opulent creations, which we are certain will be valued and appreciated by clients. ElRajji stressed that since 1860, Frette has produced linens and home accessories of unparalleled quality. The brand has bases in Monza and Milan, Italy, and uses the finest fibres and most skilled artisans to craft a range of products that have come to embody luxury, comfort and creativity across the globe. Computer game wins first position at science contest By Joseph Varghese Staff Reporter An educational computer game developed by Ghanim almansouri and Hussam Aitel Qadi, students of Omar Bin Abdulaziz Secondary School for Boys, won the first position at the inaugural Qatar Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math Fair (Qatar STEAM) yesterday. Their research project entitled Innovative Game Software for Improving the English Language Skills of NonNative Speakers is aimed at students in high school who want to learn English. The competition was organised by Qatar Foundation Research & Development (QF R&D), Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a member of QF R&D, and the Supreme Education Council (SEC). The competition aims to facilitate an environment in which the nation s young scientists can thrive through early research. More than 160 students from 40 schools had participated in the inaugural edition of the competition. The winners were honoured at a special function at Qatar National Convention Centre yesterday. Mohammed alhousani, an engineer and winner of the reality show, Stars of Science, Season 6, motivated the students by narrating his path to success at the event. The winners of the competition will represent Qatar at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, USA, in May. More than 80 research projects in seven different scientific categories were presented at the competition. Out of them, eight students were awarded the Grand Awards as the overall winners while three top positions were awarded in each category of the competition. Jaidah Heavy Equipment and Isuzu officials with customers honoured on the occasion. Subsidiary of Jaidah Group holds event for Isuzu customers The Isuzu Division of Jaidah Heavy Equipment, a subsidiary of Jaidah Group, recently held a special event for Isuzu customers. The customer gathering was organised to showcase an entire range of Isuzu pickups and trucks, where top customers were congratulated with awards. Ayman Ahmed, managing director of Jaidah Equipment, Hari Subramony, sales manager of Isuzu Division, and Zsolt Kovacs, aftersales manager of Jaidah Heavy Equipment, attended the event. Kenichi Omori and Piyapong Tannaphai of Isuzu Middle East operations were also present. We want to assure our Isuzu customers that various new initiatives have been taken to enhance aftersales support to benefit our valuable customers and aid future business relations, said Ahmed. The event took place at the Royal Tent of the Diplomatic Club and was organised by the Isuzu Division with the objective The lineup of Isuzu products on display. of promoting the current truck and pickup models available to contractors, logistics, distribution companies, wholesale markets and rental companies. After presenting the trucks and pickups on display, Ahmed highlighted the durability of Isuzu vehicles and the role of aftersales service, while Subramony announced providing two free services on all new pickup, N Series lightduty truck and F Series mediumduty truck purchases, as well as the new warranty for the two kinds of trucks. Although we offer a wide range of Isuzu products, they all have one thing in common versatility and practicality, said Subramony. Omori, general manager of product planning and aftersales at Isuzu Motors Middle East, said: Isuzu is among the oldest automobile manufacturers and a global leader in diesel technology. Isuzu is the market leader in the GCC region and (its) products are dependable and durable. The overall winners of the competition with officials. PICTURE: Nasser T K The success of the first Qatar STEAM Fair and the number of participants indicate a growing interest in scientific research among the country s youth. The skills, the students have gained from their participation in Qatar STEAM, will not only help their overall academic development, but also enable them to conduct sound research at later stages in their growth and development, said Dr Dirar Khoury, executive director, research coordination and special initiatives, and acting executive director of Education, Training and Development at QF R&D. Dr Abdul Sattar altaie, executive director, QNRF, said, Qatar STEAM enables middle and secondary school students to nurture their inquisitive minds through the development of critical thinking skills, which complements QNRF s mission to support scientific research of direct relevance to the Qatar National Research Strategy. Therefore, it is a delight to see such interest in research at the school level, since it is these participants, and the rest of their peers, who will go on to contribute to the development of a sustainable knowledgebased economy as envisaged in the QNV2030. The Supreme Education Council sought to support and nurture creativity and innovation through Qatar STEAM, which is a unique opportunity in which secondary school students were able to conduct meaningful scientific research, that will not only contribute to their overall academic development, but also to their future impact on Qatar s development, said Dr Asma almohannadi, head of Scientific Research Team, SEC. GCC electronic media heads meet in Doha QNA Doha The heads of GCC electronic media held their fifth meeting in Doha yesterday. The meeting, which was chaired by Qatar News Agency (QNA) director (technical affairs) Khalid Mohammed almutawa, discussed a number of issues, including the GCC Secretariat s report on followup recommendations of the fourth meeting, the GCC Secretariat s memorandum on a study by Bahrain on social networking sites, the GCC Secretariat s memorandum on the draft code of conduct for electronic media, in addition to other memorandums about the social networking sites workshop and proposals presented by Saudi Arabia. The meeting exchanged views and ideas on the issue of electronic media and its development in terms of legislation and HMC marks World Down Syndrome Day Health centres join Seha The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) yesterday said that three of its health centres have joined Seha, the National Health Insurance Scheme. The three health centres include Omar Bin Khattab Health Centre, Al Gharafa Health Centre, and Al Daayen Health Centre. The West Bay and Airport health centres have joined Seha in October Seha will be implemented in all PHCC health centres in phases. HMC (HMC) observed World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) with event featuring a range of activities for children with Down Syndrome and their families. More than 150 attended the event. Dr Haitham El Bashir, head of the Child Development Centre (CDC), said, It gives all of us an opportunity to come together as one community, where children with Down Syndrome feel loved and welcomed. They are able to enjoy the many activities with their parents and siblings as well as those healthcare professionals they see only in a clinical setting for medical services. The Early Intervention Programme at CDC accepts children from a very early age and includes parenttoparent counselling, family and group therapy, in addition to occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education and physiotherapy services. The centre sees an average of 190 children holding workshops and training sessions to increase skills of those working in this field as well as to exchange experiences and expertise between member states. The meeting welcomed a proposal by Qatar, represented by QNA, to launch news channel on YouTube to facilitate the followup of various activities and events held by the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The participants also discussed the definition of the electronic media and the importance of optimal use of the social communication means. Addressing the opening session of the meeting, Al Mutawa said that efforts would continue to develop this sector. Al Mutawa hoped that the meeting would further contribute to the development of the electronic media in the GCC states so as to achieve media integration among the GCC countries and keep pace with the latest global media developments. Organisers and participants during the World Down Syndrome Day event. with Down Syndrome in the child development clinics. Fatima Mustafa, acting assistant director of child rehabilitation, stated, We believe that given the right opportunities, dedicated support and care to children with Down Syndrome they can function as normally as anyone else in society. Down Syndrome, which is also termed Tristomy 21, is a genetic condition that occurs due to the presence of an extra chromosome. Individuals with this condition have 47 chromosomes in their cells, instead of the usual 46. According to the World Health Organisation, the estimated incidence of this condition is 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births around the world. Nespresso opens new boutique Nespresso, described as the worldwide pioneer in premium portioned coffee, has opened a new boutique on The PearlQatar, home to some of the world s most luxurious and fashionable brands. The first Nespresso boutique in Qatar was opened at Blue Salon on Suhaim Bin Hamad Street in We are very proud of our nineyear partnership with Nespresso, said Fawaz Idrissi, CEO, High Trading International Company, the exclusive Nespresso distributor in Qatar.
13 QATAR 13 Officials, resource persons and guests at the seminar yesterday. Seminar promotes synergy among libraries in Qatar A twoday seminar on promoting cooperation between libraries in Qatar started at the Qatar University yesterday. The seminar has been organised by the Research and Studies Section at Police Training Institute in association with Qatar University Library. Representatives from Ministry of Interior; Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage; Qatar University Library; Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies; Supreme Education Council; Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies and Qatar National Library are taking part. Maj. Gen. Hassan Ahmad alobaidali, director of the Forensic Lab Department, who inaugurated the programme, said the Ministry of Interior is Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) will go ahead with its community awareness programme QRC School Programme, launched at the beginning of the academic year in Supreme Education Council (SEC) schools across the country. The programme aims to become a significant development initiative to form groups of schoolchildren that serve their society and promote the culture of charitable work and volunteerism, thus creating a new responsible, welleducated and uptodate generation. The overall objective of the programme is to spread the values and principles of humanitarian action, to enhance keen to enhance the cooperation with social establishments in the country. Capt Hussain Saif alyafie, head of the Administrative Affairs Section at Police Training College gave the introductory speech. Dr Emad Bashir, libraries administration director at Qatar University, said that countries of the world are no more divided on the basis of development and wealth, but by knowledge and information. This idea was greatly promoted through the World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in In the first session presided by Maj Mohamed Rahiah alkuwari, director of Security Strategic Studies Centre at Ministry of Interior, Dr Khalid alhalabi from the Police College presented a paper on Libraries and Information Specialist: new roles under the new environment. Prof Fahad aldirham from Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies gave a presentation on Recent trends in collection development. In the second session presided by Prof Hani Hamdan Abdul Javad, a paper was presented by Prof Imad alkhumaisa of Supreme Education Council on Duties of the Learning Resource Centres in the information age. The fourth paper was presented by Dr Imad Bashir from Qatar University on recent trends in academic libraries. QRC launches community awareness programme for schools community awareness and promotion of social responsibility as well as to consolidate the principle of citizenship among Qatari students, to correct bad behaviour among the youth, to highlight negative phenomena in society and ways to eradicate them. It also seeks to identify the attitude of students and harness their talents, to develop the spirit of innovation and creativity as well as to introduce QRC and its mission and different activities. An Arabic and English brochure has been published for the programme, which is being implemented in coordination with the beneficiary schools.
14 14 REGION Houthis close in on Hadi s Aden base Militia just 20km from Aden; Officials deny Hadi has fled the city Agencies Aden Houthi militia forces in Yemen backed by allied army units seized an air base yesterday and appeared close to capturing the southern port of Aden from defenders loyal to President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi, residents said. The US said that Hadi, who has been holed up in Aden since fleeing the Houthicontrolled capital Sanaa last month, was no longer at his residence. It offered no other details on his movements. After taking alanad air base, the Houthis and their military allies, supported by heavy armour, advanced to within 20km of Aden. Soldiers at Aden s Jabal al Hadeed barracks fired into the air to prevent residents from entering the base and arming themselves, witnesses said, suggesting that Hadi s control over the city was fraying. Houthi fighters and allied military units had advanced to Dar Saad, a village a halfhour s drive from central Aden, residents there said. Earlier, unidentified warplanes fired missiles at the Aden neighbourhood where Hadi s compound is located, residents said. Antiaircraft batteries opened fire on the planes. The city s airport was closed and all flights were cancelled for security reasons, guards at the facility said. Yemen s slide towards civil war has made the country a crucial front in Saudi Arabia s rivalry with Iran, which Riyadh accuses of stirring up sectarian strife through its support for the Houthis. Arab states around Yemen have condemned the Shia Houthi takeover as a coup and have mooted a military intervention in favour of Hadi in recent days. US officials say Saudi Arabia is moving heavy military equipment including artillery to areas near its border with Yemen. Saudi sources said the buildup, which also included tanks, was purely defensive. While the battle for Aden is publicly being waged by the Houthi movement, many there believe that the real instigator of the campaign is former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a fierce critic of Hadi. It was Saleh who was the author of Aden s previous humiliation in 1994, when as president he crushed a southern secessionist uprising in a short war. Unlike other regional leaders deposed in the Arab Spring, Saleh was allowed to remain in the country. Army loyalists close to Saleh yesterday warned against foreign interference, saying on his party website that Yemen would confront such a move with all its strength. Diplomats say they suspect the Houthis want to take Aden before an Arab summit President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi: officials deny he has fled Aden. Residents loot a presidential compound Residents are looting a Yemeni presidential compound in Aden that was vacated by President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi several hours earlier, witnesses said yesterday. Aides have said Hadi moved from the compound to another presidential palace in the al Tawahi neighbourhood on the other side of the city in the afternoon. It was not clear whether Hadi remained at the second palace. this weekend, to preempt an expected attempt by Hadi ally Saudi Arabia to rally Arab support at the gathering for military intervention in Yemen. Yemeni officials denied reports that Hadi had fled Aden. The US State Department said Washington had been in touch with Hadi but was not able to say where he is. We were in touch with him earlier today, spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. He is no longer at his residence, which you ve seen in reporting... I am not in a position to confirm any additional details from here about his location. We have been in touch with him over the last several days. The Arab League will today discuss a proposal by Yemen s foreign minister, who called on Arab states to intervene militarily to halt the Houthi advance, the regional body s deputy secretary general said. Yemen s foreign minister said yesterday that if rebels seize Aden it will mean the start of civil war. Riyad Yassin, speaking in Egypt, also warned against an eventual domination of the entire Arabian peninsula by Iran. The Houthi advance was taking its toll. The bodies of fighters from both sides lay on the streets of the outskirts of Houta, capital of Lahej province north of Aden, residents said. In Houta, storefronts were shuttered and residents reported hearing bursts of machine gun fire and saw the bodies of fighters from both sides lying in the streets. Witnesses said Houthi fighters and allied soldiers largely bypassed the city centre and travelled by dirt roads to the southern suburbs facing Aden. In Aden, heavy traffic clogged Aden as parents brought schoolchildren home and public sector employees obeyed orders to leave work. Witnesses said prohadi militiamen and tribal gunmen were out in force throughout the city. The war is imminent and there is no escape from it, said 21yearold Mohamed Ahmed, standing outside a security compound in Aden s Khor Maksar district, where hundreds of young men have been signing up to fight the advancing Shia fighters. People carry a man injured during a gunfire at an army base in Aden yesterday. Sounds of gunfire and explosions were heard at a Yemen army base in the centre of Aden, and Houthi militia forces were within 20km of the city s northern entrance. Residents of Aden run towards a weapons depot to take up arms in preparation for a potential advance on the city by Houthi Shia militia and their allies yesterday. Arabs to discuss intervention plea Cairo The Arab League will discuss the crisis in Yemen today, the regional body s deputy secretary general said, after the country s foreign minister called on Arab states to intervene militarily to halt an advance by the Shia Houthi militia. Yemen s foreign minister proposed the idea today... in a meeting with the Arab League Secretary General, Ahmed Ben Hilli, told Al Arabiya Al Hadath television channel, yesterday. The issue will be presented tomorrow at foreign minister level. Arab heads of state are due to meet in the Red Sea resort of Sharm elsheikh on March to discuss a range of conflicts in the region, including Yemen and Libya, as well as the threat posed by Islamic State militants. The foreign ministers usually meet a day before the headsofstate summit. Yemen on Tuesday asked the UN Security Council to back military action by willing countries to combat the Houthis advance, according to a letter from President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi seen by. Hadi said he has asked the Arab League and the Gulf Arab states to provide immediately all means necessary, including military intervention, to protect Yemen and its people. Ben Hilli said Arab ministers would exchange points of view on Yemen s request because we don t want the issues to be more complicated in Yemen. Without a doubt, Arab countries have a big and national responsibility... in the end what is agreed in terms of practical steps or efforts made will be announced, he said. In March 2011, the Arab League called on the UN Security Council to impose a nofly zone in Libya, in a decision that gave a regional seal of approval for the Nato air campaign that followed and eventually helped in toppling Muammar Gaddafi. Kerry on historic mission for Iran Ndeal Abdulmohsen almadaj Kuwaiti minister resigns Kuwait City Washington US Secretary of State John Kerry left Washington yesterday for a date with history, hoping to seal a deal reining in Iran s nuclear ambitions for years to come. After months of closeddoor negotiations, Kerry and his team was headed once again for talks in Switzerland with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif. The two nations broke diplomatic ties more than three decades ago during a 444day hostage taking in the American embassy in Tehran and have remained foes ever since. But now, negotiators from six world powers hope to meet a March 31 deadline for a landmark political agreement Iran to stop the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear bomb. In return, Tehran wants a labyrinth of crippling economic sanctions to be eased or lifted, to free up billions of dollars frozen in bank accounts and to regain access to lucrative oil markets and global trade. Any deal that brings Iran in from the cold will face opposition from key US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia and from hawks in the US Congress who see it as a naive capitulation. But Kerry will mount a robust defence, telling an audience of senior US diplomats before he left: Anybody standing up in opposition to this has an obligation to stand up and put a viable realistic alternative on the table. And I have yet to see anybody do that An accord would cap more than a decade of painstaking negotiations which, after protracted delays and hurdles, have gathered fresh impetus since the 2013 election of Iran s President Hassan Rouhani. It would also mark a legacymaking foreign policy coup in the final years of Barack Obama s presidency, and a personal triumph for veteran politician and diplomat, Kerry. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told CNN yesterday that it s a key week for the negotiators who aim to increase the socalled breakout time for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon to about a year. The fact is, without these negotiations Iran was moving towards a nuclear weapon, Psaki said, saying opponents of the deal were not offering any other solutions. What we re doing here is extending the period of time giving us more time, giving the international community more time to track and watch what they re doing. As the clock has ticked down to Tuesday s deadline, simmering tensions with opponents of a deal have reached boiling point. And Obama s Republican foes in Congress are lining up to vote on new Iran sanctions next month, should diplomacy fail. Washington has also found itself at odds with allies like France, wary that Obama s administration may be making too many concessions in its haste to reach an agreement. At best, opponents argue the deal will only delay Iranian nuclear ambitions for a decade or so. At worst, they say, the country s leaders will be able to covertly move ahead with developing a nuclear weapon. Kerry s return to Lausanne to resume the talks with Zarif today will only fuel speculation that now an agreement is within sight in the coming days. Kuwait s Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdulmohsen almadaj resigned yesterday, becoming the second cabinet minister to quit this month after facing public criticism. The emir of Kuwait accepted the resignation of Madaj, who was also a deputy prime minister, state news agency KUNA said in a brief report. KUNA did not give a reason for Madaj quitting, but local media said a member of parliament had demanded to question the minister in parliament for allegedly failing to protect the rights of small shareholders. Last week, Water and Electricity Minister Abdulaziz al Ibrahim resigned after a major power cut in the Gulf state. US Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to board a plane bound for Switzerland at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland yesterday. Kerry stressed the importance of the next round of nuclear talks with Iran scheduled to resume in Lausanne, Switzerland today. Tehran insists on lifting all sanctions Dubai Any deal over Iran s nuclear programme must involve the immediate lifting of all sanctions, Iran s foreign minister said yesterday, showing no sign of compromise on a major hurdle in world power negotiations. This is the position that the government has insisted on from the start, Mohamed Javad Zarif was quoted by the official Irna news agency as saying. Iran wants all the sanctions imposed by the UN, European Union and US on its energy and financial sectors removed at once if there is a deal, while Western powers want them dismantled gradually. The speed of lifting sanctions is one of the elements being discussed by Iran and the six major powers the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. Their talks over Iran s disputed nuclear ambitions are due to resume this week. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, said last week that the immediate lifting of sanctions must be a part of any nuclear accord. Western officials have consistently rejected that demand, with a senior European negotiator last week reiterating that this was out of the question. This week s negotiations are expected to kick off with a meeting between Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry today. The major powers are pushing for a political framework agreement by March 31 that would pave the way for a comprehensive deal with Iran by June 30 under which it would curb sensitive nuclear activities for at least a decade in exchange for an end to sanctions that have crippled its economy. A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, Hamid Baidinejad, said the remaining sticking points were interrelated. It s not going to be a situation where the sanctions are first stopped and then we talk about other issues, the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Baidinejad as saying. Everything must be resolved together.
15 ARAB WORLD 15 Israel suspends E Jerusalem settler homes plan Jerusalem As tension mounts with Washington, Israel s outgoing government has suspended a controversial plan to build hundreds of new settler homes in annexed East Jerusalem, a news website reported yesterday. The plan involves the construction of 1,500 homes in the settlement neighbourhood of Har Homa where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a controversial speech on the eve of March 17 elections, pledging to build thousands of new homes if returned to office. His remarks on East Jerusalem construction, along with comments ruling out a Palestinian state, have sparked a bitter spat with Washington. Ynet said the Netanyahu s office had frozen the plans due to their political sensitivity. Daniel Seidemann, director of settlement watchdog Terrestrial Jerusalem, said that given the highly problematic nature of the plan and Netanyahu s current standoff with Washington, it had a ring of truth to it. This would be a particularly inflammatory plan and I think that he s afraid that the ceiling would cave in on him, he said. The report quoted unnamed housing ministry and Jerusalem municipality sources as saying two meetings to discuss advancing the plans had been cancelled for reasons that were unclear. Planning officials said Netanyahu s office had not given the green light for the meetings. In response to a question from, Netanyahu s office neither confirmed nor denied the report, saying the plan was not sent to the prime minister s office. Regarding other plans that were not brought up this week, there will be a discussion on the matter when the new government is in place, it said. While unable to confirm details in the report, Seidemann said the plan was for construction on private land west of Har Homa that had been shelved a year ago but was now being brought up for initial approval. He said there had been an unofficial freeze on East Jerusalem construction since the approval in late September of thousands of housing units in Givat HaMatos, a settlement suburb currently being built. Since the approval of Givat HaMatos and I m speaking exclusively about East Jerusalem there have been no new tenders, no new plans deposited for public review and no new plans approved which is quite remarkable, he said. This plan is a private initiative, meaning that Netanyahu s ability to block it would be limited, he said. Netanyahu is obviously going to be very cautious at the moment given the nature of his relations with the US. On the other hand, his authority to hold up a private plan is limited, he said. If the plan were given the green light, it would complete a ring of settlement neighbourhoods around East Jerusalem, effectively cutting off the Holy City from the southern West Bank. That would create an effective buffer between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and that is a game changer, he said, as it would further complicate establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinian PM urges factions to end divide Gaza City Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah urged rival factions to set aside their differences, even as protesters gave him a cool reception in warbattered Gaza yesterday. It was only Hamdallah s second visit to the Gaza Strip since a unity government agreed on by rivals Fatah and Hamas took office last June. We have come here today to strengthen national reconciliation and to restart dialogue with all Palestinian factions, Hamdallah told a news conference in Gaza City, where he was to meet officials of Hamas. He vowed that civilian workers of Hamas s de facto administration in Gaza would go on the payroll of the West Bankbased Palestinian Authority (PA), which is dominated by the Fatah party. Several dozen protesters at the news conference chanting Leave, Leave, Hamdallah! held up banners that read: No welcome for those who besieged Gaza, an accusation that the PA was complicit in Israel s blockade of the territory. Hamdallah last visited the coastal strip in October for a show of Palestinian unity aimed at reassuring international donors at a conference in Cairo that month. Teen wounded by Israeli fire dies A Palestinian teenager died yesterday of a gunshot wound sustained a week ago during a confrontation with Israeli forces in the West Bank, hospital officials said. The officials at Ramallah Hospital said Ali Safi, 17, had been shot through the chest. Witnesses said soldiers had responded to stonethrowing at a protest against a barrier going up between a Jewish settlement and a refugee camp near Ramallah. The Israeli military had no immediate comment. Masked militants from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah movement, take part in an antiisrael military drill in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday. Netanyahu gets goahead to form next government President Reuven Rivlin says Netanyahu faces some critical tasks, and the first among them is improving relations with the United States Jerusalem Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, grappling with fierce White House disapproval, won consent from Israel s president yesterday to try to form a new coalition government. The surprise victor of a March 17 election, Netanyahu looks well set to assemble a heavily rightleaning cabinet that will control 67 of parliament s 120 seats a large majority in a country where no one party has ever been able to rule by itself. President Reuven Rivlin had some uncharacteristic criticism of Netanyahu as he went through the formality of handing him a mandate to establish a new government, having verified with party leaders that a majority supported him. He said Netanyahu faced some critical tasks, and the first among them was improving relations with the United States. Rivlin also criticised Netanyahu s election day jibe that Arab Israeli voters were being bussed to the polls in droves. How awful would it be, if the democratic duty to vote were be seen as a curse? One who is afraid of votes in a ballot box will eventually see stones thrown in the streets, Rivlin said. Netanyahu, accepting the mandate that gives him six weeks to form a new coalition, said he sought peace with the Palestinians and pledged his new government would safeguard democratic rights for Israelis regardless of race, religion or gender, as well as taking steps to cut living costs. Two farright parties Jewish Home, which won eight seats, and Yisrael Beitenu, with six have pledged their support for Netanyahu in consultations with Rivlin. In addition, centrist Kulanu, with 10 seats, ultraorthodox Shas, with seven, and United Torah Judaism, with six, have also backed Netanyahu, whose Likud has 30 legislators of its own. Although the horse trading for cabinet positions has yet to start, Likud announced that Netanyahu will name Kulanu s leader, Moshe Kahlon, as the next finance minister, replacing the centrist Yair Lapid, who has refused to join the new government. Kahlon, a former Likud member, focused his newlyfounded party s campaign on promises to reform the housing and banking sectors and bring down real estate prices, which have doubled since A Likud team is due to begin bargaining sessions with its prospective coalition partners today, but the governmentbuilding process will compete for headlines in Israel with the worst crisis in USIsraeli relations in decades. Netanyahu s preelection promise that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch and his comments about Arab voters further aggravated his testy relationship with US President Barack Obama, who has dismissed his subsequent attempts to backtrack. Obama was already furious after Netanyahu accepted an invitation from the Republicans to address Congress earlier this month, where the Israeli leader attacked a potential nuclear deal between world powers and his arch foe Iran. The Democrat president has since said that Washington would reassess its relations with Israel, which receives some $3bn a year in military aid from the United States. One of Kahlon s first tasks will be to pass a budget for 2015 and 2016, as the country has been operating since the start of the year without a new financial programme. Shas and United Torah Judaism are expected to pursue a narrow agenda to benefit their own largely poor religious sector, leaving Likud and the ultranationalists as the main players on hotbutton matters such as Iran s nuclear programme and peace with the Palestinians. Tzachi Hanegbi of Likud, deputy foreign minister in the outgoing government, predicted a slow path to a coalition, with farright partners likely to lobby for top cabinet posts, such as defence and foreign affairs. It will take time. It will demand nerves of steel from all sides, particularly from the prime minister, he told Israel Radio. Palestinian economy on brink as funds blocked Ramallah Israel s decision to withhold $130mn a month in revenue collected on behalf of the Palestinians is strangling the economy and leaving the banking system dangerously exposed, the Palestinian central bank governor said yesterday. Israel stopped the transfer of revenues from tax and customs duties in January in protest at the Palestinians move to join the International Criminal Court from April 1, when war crimes charges may be filed against Israel. Since then, more than $500mn has been withheld from the economy, prompting the Palestinian Authority, which administers the West Bank, to cut most of its employees salaries by 40% and resort to an emergency budget. The government is also in danger of not being able to service its outstanding loans, according to the governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, the central bank. We have informed the Palestinian Authority that we have reached the limits permitted to them, or are about to get there, and that banks will not be able to continue to fund it, governor Jihad alwazir told. The situation in general is very tough. Suspending the tax transfers is leading to a rapid economic deterioration. It is not the first time Israel has suspended the transfers it took similar steps in 2006, 2007 and 2008 but the risks this time may be greater and leave the economy ever more dependent on handouts from international donors, who have not followed through on commitments in recent months. With the deficit already at around 15% of GDP and the tax transfers accounting for twothirds of income, the budget is falling into a deeper hole every month. Unemployment stands at 25% and output is set to contract this year, sharply increasing the threat of instability and violence. The situation could become untenable, with a growing risk of social unrest and strikes that could lead to political instability, the IMF said in a report at the end of January. These serious risks could be mitigated if Israel quickly resumed transfers of clearance revenue and donors frontloaded their aid. The Israeli military has warned the government that the revenue withholdings are fuelling violence in the West Bank. There is a chance Israel will resume the payments as soon as a new government is in place although it has given no indication that it will do so. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to have a new government ready in weeks. But with the Palestinians showing no signs of backing away from the ICC, Netanyahu may decide to keep up the pressure. US Congressional funding to the Palestinians may also be cut in the event that war crimes charges are brought against Israel. One diplomat tracking the state of play estimated that if the Palestinian Authority does not receive any transfers by June, its finances would collapse. The situation has put ordinary Palestinians under huge financial pressure. Nidal Sadqa is a 47yearold father of four who works for the Palestinian economy ministry in Ramallah and for the past three months he has been paid 60% of his usual salary. Half of what s left each month pays bank loans and other debts. I haven t paid the rent for three months and I owe the supermarket for things I ve already A woman sells secondhand clothes and shoes at a market in Ramallah yesterday. taken, he said, describing circumstances familiar to the nearly 160,000 people employed by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and the West Bank. The desperation has prompted more Palestinians to try to find work in Israel. Already around 130,000 cross the border each day, 30% of them without permits, and Israel is making plans to handle up to 200,000 Palestinian workers. While that provides income, it is cheap labour for Israel and draws productivity out of the Palestinian economy. The work is also unpredictable, which means that any personal loans taken out against the expected salary can quickly turn sour. Naser AbdelKarim, an economist in the West Bank, estimates that Palestinian Authority employees have borrowed $600 $700mn from Palestinian banks, while the Palestinian Authority owes nearly $1.5bn to the same institutions, the limit allowed by the Palestinian Monetary Authority. There is a fear the authority may collapse in terms of being able to function and provide services, said AbdelKarim, adding that if Netanyahu did not release the pressure, I am sure the entire Palestinian economy will collapse. While some big Palestinian businesses continue to perform well including telecoms provider PalTel and investment conglomerate Padico Holding the lower rungs of the ladder, and especially the economy at the family level, are under strain. And the Palestinian Monetary Authority, which tries to hold the strands together despite not having its own currency to manage, is desperate for Israel to open the taps again. The economy is retreating and we are facing a stage of economic shrinkage, said Wazir, a Britisheducated economist who has headed the bank since We have reached or are about to reach the permitted limits for borrowing according to our internal regulations.
16 16 ARAB WORLD Fighters target water plants in Mideast: ICRC Geneva Fighters are increasingly targeting water and sanitation facilities across the Middle East, exacerbating severe shortages for agriculture and households, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said yesterday. Consumption of water in the volatile region with rising populations was already at unsustainable levels in many areas hit by recordlow rainfall and drought, but wars have pushed systems close to the breaking point, the aid agency said. Militants in Syria, Iraq and Gaza have also used access to water and electricity supplies as tactical weapons or as bargaining chips, the ICRC said in a report. Heavy fighting and direct targeting have destroyed water pipes and power lines, leaving this vital resource away from hundreds of millions of people that are at great risk of waterborne diseases, said Robert Mardini, head of ICRC operations for North Africa and the Middle East. Sanitation often got a low priority during the fighting, the ICRC said. It is a ticking time bomb in terms of its impact on the general environment, water resources (surface and groundwater), and by extension, to human health, said Michael Talhami, ICRC regional water and habitat adviser. Gaza s only power plant was damaged during the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants. The Gaza Company for Generating Electricity said an Israeli tank shell hit the main fuel tanks, taking out almost all capacity. In Syria, now in a fifth year of war, drought has greatly reduced wheat production, meaning higher imports, the ICRC said. Areas around the capital Damascus are hardhit, with some systems losing more water to leaks than they are able to deliver, the report said. The network is severely damaged in every corner of the city, so you have leakages everwhere. Syria s two main wastewater treatment plants, for Aleppo and Damascus, are virtually destroyed, according to the ICRC which helps disinfect nearly 80% of the country s water. One of the greatest concerns is that untreated wastewater might seep into local aquifers, thereby contaminating water supplies and leaving an already vulnerable population more susceptible to waterborne diseases, it said. Water scarcity is a pressing problem in Yemen, the Arab world s poorest country that has descended into civil war, and where the water table is dropping every year, it said. In Yemen, it s foreseen that by 2025 Sanaa the capital will have no more water. Bomb kills 10yearold Egyptian girl near school Rebel fighters pose yesterday in front of the ancient citadel of Bosra alsham after they took control of the area. Rebels seize historic town in Syria s south The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 21 insurgents have been killed in four days of fighting for Bosra alsham Beirut Insurgents have seized a historic town in southern Syria from the government, a group monitoring the war said yesterday, part of a rebel counterattack to stop Damascus reclaiming the border zone near Israel and Jordan. A Syrian military source reported heavy fighting with armed groups on Tuesday night in and around Bosra alsham, whose ancient city is listed as a Unesco world heritage site. We are investigating the facts in the field, the source said. An alliance of mainstream rebels who are backed by Western and Arab foes of President Bashar alassad said they had taken Bosra and declared the start of a new attack against government forces in another area of Daraa province to the northwest. Bosra s historic sites include a citadel built around a second century Roman amphitheatre. It was the capital of the Roman province of Arabia. Syria s southwestern corner is of strategic importance due to its proximity to Damascus and neighbouring states Israel and Jordan. It is also the last significant foothold of mainstream rebels, who have mostly been crushed elsewhere in Syria by government forces or jihadist groups. An offensive launched by Assad s forces in early February made quick gains but its territorial advance then slowed. The mainstream rebels, known as The Southern Front, say they have received more military support from Assad s foreign foes since the start of the push by the Syrian army and allied militia including the Lebanese group Hezbollah. Support to the Southern Front groups has been channelled via Jordan, a staunch ally of the United States. Washington says Assad has lost legitimacy and must leave power, although its focus has switched to fighting the Islamic State jihadist group that has seized swathes of northern and eastern Syria as well as chunks of Iraq. The monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 21 insurgents had been killed in four days of fighting for Bosra, some 20km north of the border with Jordan. The spokesman for the Southern Front alliance said 85% of the fighters who took part in the attack were from mainstream rebel groups and the rest from Islamist factions. The Nusra Front, Al Qaeda s wing in Syria, did not take part, said spokesman Issam al Rayyes. We liberated the whole city, even the old castle and old city, he said. The Southern Front launched the attack because the army had been mobilising progovernment militia in Bosra for a new stage of its offensive in the south, he added. The new attack announced by the Southern Front yesterday was aimed at taking Jadieh, some 80km to the northwest of Bosra. Our strategy was not to hold on to territory, but to attack in areas where the regime was not expecting it, Rayyes said. We have started to liberate additional areas. The southwestern corner of Syria is seen as a priority for the Damascus government as it tries to shore up its control over western regions including the cities of Homs and Hama, the border with Lebanon and the coast. In northwest Syria hardline Islamists including the Nusra Front and Ahrar alsham have launched an offensive to take the city of Idlib from the government. The Observatory reported heavy clashes between the sides yesterday. The Nusra Front ignited a car bomb on Idlib s outskirts, it said, identifying two of the bombers as Gulf Arabs. Idlib governor Kheir Eddin alsayid told Syrian state TV the attackers had been unable to enter the city and had sustained heavy losses. In fighting near the Lebanese border, the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters cut an insurgent supply route from Syria towards the Lebanese border town of Arsal, officials said. Twentythree militants were killed. Agencies Cairo A 10yearold girl was killed yesterday when an improvised bomb she picked up near her school exploded in the Fayum province, west of Cairo, Egyptian police said. The girl had tripped over a rudimentary bomb that was placed outside her school and it exploded once she picked it up, a police official said. Egypt has witnessed sporadic bombings since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013, mainly targeting security forces but which have killed several civilians in recent weeks across the country. Last week, two people were killed when assailants threw a bomb at the entrance of a youth leisure centre on the outskirts of Cairo. Improvised explosives aimed at spreading chaos and halting public services in Cairo and Delta provinces usually cause minor damage. More sophisticated attacks have killed scores of security personnel mainly in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where security forces are battling an Islamist insurgency spearheaded by the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State group, Ansar Beit almaqdis. The group says it attacks only target security personnel in retaliation for a brutal government crackdown that has left hundreds dead and thousands jailed. The interior ministry said meanwhile that police had arrested two men suspected in an attack yesterday that left two police officers wounded. A third suspect escaped, it said. Gunmen on speeding motorbikes fired at the police officers as they guarded the Congolese embassy situated in a leafy Cairo suburb. A former interior minister under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak was freed from jail yesterday after being cleared of graft charges, the state news agency reported, the latest senior official of the old regime to be released. While courts have been gradually absolving Mubarakera figures, they have been handing down lengthy sentences to liberal and Islamist activists in cases ranging from political protests to acts of violence. A court last week acquitted the former minister, Habib aladly, of charges of illegal profiting and squandering 181mn Egyptian pounds ($23.72mn) of public funds. Adly, 77, a onetime head of Egypt s feared internal security apparatus, was also acquitted last month in a separate graft case along with former prime minister Ahmed Nazif. Jazeera journalists trial adjourned An Egyptian court said yesterday it adjourned until April 22 the trial of two Al Jazeera television journalists. The pair are charged with aiding a terrorist organisation, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalised Canadian who has given up his Egyptian citizenship, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were released on bail last month after spending more than a year in custody. A third Al Jazeera journalist, Australian Peter Greste, was deported in February. They were originally sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation, which they have denied. Egypt s high court ordered a retrial in January. IS battles forces of rival govts in Libya Tripoli/Benghazi Militants claiming allegiance to Islamic State fought forces loyal to Libya s two rival governments in the central city of Sirte and further east in Benghazi, a Libyan news agency and residents said yesterday. In Sirte, IS militants killed five members of a force loyal to the government that controls Tripoli, a Tripolibased news agency said. Two military sources said the attack near a power station on Sirte s western outskirts appeared to be a suicide bombing, but gave no further details. Fighters loyal to the Tripoli government, sent to Sirte from the western city of Misrata, have clashed several times with the militants and had set up checkpoints near the power station. There was also heavy fighting between Islamists and forces loyal to Libya s internationally recognised government, which is based in the east in Benghazi, after IS militants claimed a suicide attack on an army post in the port city. Warplanes attacked suspected Islamist positions early yesterday, residents and military officials said. Gunfire and rocket propelled grenades could be heard in several districts. Military officials had vowed air attacks on Islamists in response to a suicide bombing on Tuesday which killed seven people in Benghazi. Two more people had been killed by a rocket hitting residential buildings. Militants claiming ties to IS have exploited the turmoil in Libya, where two governments and parliaments fight for control four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi. Taking advantage of the security vacuum, just as IS did in Syria and Iraq, the militants expanded recently in Sirte, taking over government offices, universities and a radio station. The recognised government has been based in the east since a rival faction seized the capital in August and reinstated a previous assembly, challenging the elected parliament which is also based in the east. Both governments rely on former rebels who helped topple Gaddafi and are now caught in a power struggle. In Benghazi the official premier Premier Abdullah althinni has allied himself with general Khalifa Haftar who in May started his own fight against Islamists. A UN official said yesterday international backers of Libya s rival factions must pressure the warring groups to work out a political deal and help to choke off the supply of guns to the country. If we get a political agreement, the next thing is to convince the armed groups to basically back off, Claudio Cordone, head of human rights at the UN Mission in Libya, told a news conference in Geneva. Soldiers inspect a car at a checkpoint in Benghazi s northern district of Sabri yesterday, the day after a suicide car bomb attack on an army checkpoint.
17 AFRICA 17 Chinese restaurant closed for barring Africans Women who lived through Boko Haram occupation sit under a cicada tree in Damasak. Boko Haram rebels abducted 500: Niger Even in retreat the rebels are kidnapping children who are usually never heard from again Agencies Abuja Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 500 people when the militants fled a northern Nigerian town days before the country is scheduled to stage elections, officials from Niger confirmed yesterday. The insurgents abducted 500 children and women and some men as the fighters were fleeing an attack by Nigerien and Chadian troops last week, sergeant Ibrahim Issa said on the telephone from the town of Damasak, where the kidnappings took place. Troops from Niger and Chad had forced the Islamist terrorists out of Damasak in volatile Borno State last week. Several people were killed and buildings were destroyed in the latest attack there. Residents previously reported a mass grave with at least 50 bodies, according to Issa. The abductions come days before Africa s biggest economy heads to Saturday elections for a new president and parliament. The elections, initially scheduled for February 14, were postponed by six weeks due to insecurity in the northeast. Boko Haram, which seeks to establish a state with its very strict interpretation of Islamic law, has killed an estimated 13,000 people since Nigeria s military had been claiming it had gained control over the insurgents in the past few weeks. Nigeria s government yesterday denied reports of a mass kidnapping in the country s northeast, as Boko Haram militants flee a fournation military offensive. There is no fresh kidnapping in Damasak, Nigeria s national security spokesman Mike Omeri told, referring to the town recently retaken by forces from neighbouring Chad and Niger. But Omeri said Nigeria had no information about a mass abduction. A senator who represents the area and a senior intelligence source also cast doubt on the reports. The contradictory claims shed light on the difficulty of establishing facts in the brutal, sixyear conflict, with communications infrastructure devastated in the northeast and travel restricted. Omeri noted Boko Haram s widely reported tactic of forcibly conscripting young boys during their hitandrun attacks and attempts to indoctrinate them into the group s radical ideology. Several sources said it was possible, and perhaps even likely, that scores of Boko Haram conscripts were missing, feared kidnapped by the militants across the region. But they denied a specific mass abduction in Damasak, where the Chadian military last week said that about 100 bodies, some of them decapitated, were found in a mass grave. Senator Maina Lawan, whose constituency includes Damasak, said: I will be extremely surprised that such a huge number of my constituents would be abducted without me being informed. It is very unlikely that Boko Haram would have abducted such a huge number of people from Damasak because most of the people had fled months ago when Boko Haram took over. A senior intelligence source in Borno s capital Maiduguri said there was no iota of truth to the mass abduction claims. Chad s UN envoy yesterday voiced frustration over Security Council inaction on endorsing a regional force fighting Boko Haram, arguing that the Nigerian extremists are more dangerous than Islamic State fighters. Ambassador Mahamat Cherif told reporters that a draft resolution circulated last week to the 15member council had hit a wall over a key provision invoking chapter 7 of the UN charter. I think Boko Haram is more dangerous than ISIS, said Cherif, using the acronym for the Islamic State group sowing violence and fear in Syria and Iraq. What we do for ISIS, we should do against Boko Haram. Chapter 7 allows member states to use all possible means to enforce a resolution including economic sanctions and military force to confront a threat to world peace and security. Diplomats told that Nigeria had Guinea starts testing Merck vaccine in Ebola hotspots Conakry/Dakar Uinea started testing an experimental Ebola vaccine from Merck and NewLink Genetics on affected communities this week, in a move officials hope will accelerate the end of an epidemic first detected a year ago. But some worry about violent reactions from communities fearful about healthcare workers intentions in a country where resistance to the antiebola campaign has been strongest. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has so far killed more than 10,200 people and, though now waning across the region, case numbers have increased in recent weeks in Guinea. The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to vaccinate around 10,000 people over six to eight weeks. Health workers will immunise the highrisk contacts around Ebola patients, thereby creating a ring of immunity around them. Combined with control measures that we are putting in place with our partners, a safe and effective vaccine will allow us to close this trying chapter and start rebuilding our country, said Sakoba Keita, national coordinator of the fight against Ebola in Guinea. The vaccine has already been administered to some volunteer healthcare workers. The first team for this stage of the trial arrived in a village in western Guinea, one of the virus hotspots, on March 23 and received an excellent response, the WHO said. Residents in Guinea have in the past attacked healthcare workers with stones and machetes amid rumours that they were plotting to contaminate them with the virus or that they had invented the disease as part of a plot to harvest their organs in Ebola treatment centres. The vaccine administers a small diminished portion of the live virus in order to stimulate an immune reaction. This may trigger a fever, one of the early symptoms of Ebola. Someone arriving with a syringe in their hand might be taken as confirmation of all the rumours going around. It s going to be very complicated Someone arriving with a syringe in their hand might be taken as confirmation of all the rumours going around. It s going to be very complicated, said Jerome Mouton, Guinea country director for leading anti Ebola charity Medicins Sans Frontieres. The WHO said it would not force people to be vaccinated. The Red Cross s Africa director Alasan Senghore said overcoming resistance was the biggest challenge to ending the epidemic. Realistically it will take towards the end of the year (to end Ebola), he told. Trials for two other test vaccines began in Liberia in February and triggered some rumours in remote areas that these were a plot to contaminate locals with the virus. Sierra Leone said yesterday that it had postponed by two weeks the reopening of schools, shut for almost eight months to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. The reopening had been set for March 30 as the rate of new infections slowed but the date was pushed back to April 14 with a spurt in new cases. Education minister Minkailu Bah said authorities were taking adequate measures to ensure that our schools are safe and disinfected so that our children can return to school without any risk. He added however that schools in quarantined areas would not be reopening on that day. Classrooms have been empty since the government announced a state of emergency in July last year in response to an outbreak which has killed around 10,300 people, almost all of them in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. More than 3,700 of the deaths were in Sierra Leone alone, according to the World Health Organization s latest figures. School department official Prince Cole said work was underway to disinfect some 9,000 schools across the country, particularly at those that were used as holding and treatment centres. Authorities have released 67bn leones ($15mn) to build toilets and install wells and hand pumps in more than 2,700 schools, Cole added. Sylvester Meheux, the chief of a body grouping high school heads, said he was keen on getting 1.7mn pupils back to school because the closure has had a very disastrous effect on many pupils, especially girls, with many getting pregnant in the interim period. More than a third of Sierra Leone s population of six million are aged between three and 17. balked at the provision, dealing a major setback to weeks of negotiations on the draft resolution that would also set up a trust fund to help finance the regional force s operations. Cherif acknowledged that a vote on the measure was not imminent. Nigeria s mission to the United Nations could not be immediately reached for comment, but diplomats speculated that the elections on Saturday may have played a role in the aboutface. The international community recognises Boko Haram as a threat to international peace and security, Cherif argued. In Damasak, the last town liberated by Chad and Nigeria, we found a mass grave. I think it s very serious. Boko Haram, which has been listed by the United Nations as a terror group, pledged allegiance to IS earlier this month, heightening concerns after the extremists expanded their campaign to neighbouring countries. The African Union has set up the fivenation force of 8,700 troops to defeat Boko Haram, which has killed more than 13,000 people over the past seven years and shocked the world with the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in April last year. Chad is playing a leading role in the regional force, alongside Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. Drafted by Chad, Nigeria and Angola, the text before the Security Council would provide for endorsement of the regional force and threaten sanctions to punish Boko Haram supporters. Taylor s appeal for transfer denied London Convicted Liberian expresident Charles Taylor s request to be transferred from Britain to serve the remainder of a 50year jail term in Africa has been denied, Sierra Leone s special tribunal announced yesterday. Taylor, 67, was transferred to the Frankland prison near Durham in northeastern England in October 2013 after being found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone s bloody civil war. The former warlord has complained that his wife and daughters have been refused entry to Britain and asked to be moved to a prison in Rwanda instead. The motion is rejected, a threejudge bench said in a decision by the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone made on January 30, but released by the judges only on Wednesday. Prisoners do not have the right to choose their place of detention, the tribunal added in a press release. Nairobi A Chinese restaurant in the Kenyan capital Nairobi has been shut down and its owners summoned by authorities after it emerged it was barring black patrons, reports said yesterday. The restaurant became the focus of city authorities after furious residents took to social media to denounce an apparently racist policy of not allowing African patrons to eat there after 5pm pushing #RacistRestaurant, #NoBlacksHere and #TheChineseInvasion to be top trending topics. The owners of the restaurant said the measure had been put in place following a robbery in 2013, and have apologised for causing any offence, the Daily Nation reported. But it said the Chongquing Chinese restaurant, situated in Nairobi s bustling commercial and residential district of Kilimani, had been shut down anyway for not having the proper licences. We have established that the restaurant did not have the licences and I have ordered it closed until the management complies, Nairobi governor Evans Kidero said in a statement. The owners of the restaurant have no change of user from residential to commercial which is a requirement to operate a business in Nairobi, he said, adding the restaurant did not have a valid liquor licence and had failed to comply public health requirements on food handling. As of now the restaurant will remain closed until they comply with all set rules and regulations. We have deployed security officers around the premises. The governor also asserted that all business and service providers must ensure that all customers and clients are treated with respect and dignity, irrespective of race, colour, sex, tribe and religion, the Standard newspaper quoted him as saying. Reports said the restaurant s Chinese owners and managers had also been summoned by Kenya s immigration authorities, while one Kenyan MP has also asked the Parliamentary Committee on Security to carry out its own investigation. The Nation newspaper quoted a restaurant manager as saying the policy was aimed at keeping out thieves and members of Somalia s Al Qaedaaffliated Shebaab militants. We don t admit Africans that we don t know because you never know who is Al Shebaab and who isn t, restaurant relations manager Esther Zhao was quoted as saying. It is not like it is written on somebody s face that they are a thug armed with a gun, she said, adding the Chinese embassy in Nairobi had told Chinese businesses to be vigilant over the threat of attacks. A city official however told the Star newspaper that the incident has nothing to do with the friendship and diplomatic relations Kenya enjoys with China, a major investor in east Africa s biggest economy. Although China s relationship with Kenya and much of Africa is seen as being at an alltime high notably with with huge investments in major infrastructure projects ties have also been overshadowed by China s massive demand for ivory, which wildlife campaigners say is decimating Africa s elephants. Chadian court convicts former dictator s aides DPA N djamena Seven security agents of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre were convicted yesterday of murder, torture, kidnapping, arbitrary detention and assault and sentenced to life in prison. The Chadian government and the convicted men were also ordered to pay $125mn in reparations to 7,000 victims who were plaintiffs in the case, a judge ruled in the capital, N djamena. Among the seven who were sentenced to life are Habre s former political police chief Saleh Younous and his colleague Mahamat Djibrine, who was described as one of the most feared torturers in Chad by a national truth commission. Five other former policemen were sentenced to hard labour for life. Finally, finally, the men who brutalised us and then laughed in our faces for decades have got their comeuppance, said Clement Abaifouta, president of the Association of Victims of the Crimes of Hissene Habre. The ruling was made after 50 victims described their torture and mistreatment at the hands of Habre s police and security agencies in hearings over the past three months. The Nation newspaper quoted a restaurant manager as saying the policy was aimed at keeping out thieves Chadian dictator Hissene Habre. The sentencing of state officials for human rights crimes is not only a testament to the courage and tenacity of the victims, it is a remarkable development in a country where impunity for past atrocities has been the norm, said Human Rights Watch counsel Reed Brody, who has worked with Habre s victims since Many of the accused were holding key positions in the Chadian administration until they were arrested in 2013 and Habre, who ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, was arrested two years ago in Senegal, where he is expected to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes during a landmark trial likely to begin in the middle of this year. The trial will make the 70yearold the first African expresident to be tried on the continent.
18 18 AMERICAS Nasa finds biologically useful nitrogen on Mars Agencies Washington A team using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard Nasa s Curiosity rover has made the first detection of nitrogen on the surface of Mars from release during heating of Martian sediments, Nasa said. The team detected nitrogen in the form of nitric oxide, and could be released from the breakdown of nitrates during heating, the US space agency said. Nitrates are a class of molecules that contain nitrogen in a form living organisms can use. The discovery adds to the evidence that ancient Mars was habitable for life. Finding a biochemically accessible form of nitrogen is more support for the ancient Martian environment at Gale Crater being habitable, said Jennifer Stern of Nasa s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Stern is lead author of a paper on this research published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on March 23. The team found evidence for nitrates in scooped samples of windblown sand and dust at the Rocknest site, and in samples drilled from mudstone at the John Klein and Cumberland drill sites in Yellowknife Bay. Since the Rocknest sample is a combination of dust blown in from distant regions on Mars and more locally sourced materials, the nitrates are likely to be widespread across Mars, according to Stern. The results support the equivalent of up to 1,100 parts per million nitrates in the Martian soil from the drill sites. Nitrogen is essential for all known forms of life. It is used in the building blocks of larger molecules like DNA and RNA, which encode the genetic instructions for life, and proteins, which are used to build structures like hair and nails, and to speed up or regulate chemical reactions, Nasa said. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the fixed nitrogen molecules found by the team were created by life, Nasa cautioned. The surface of Mars is inhospitable for known forms of life. The research team suggested that instead, the nitrates are ancient and likely came from meteorite impacts, lightning and other nonbiological processes. On Earth and Mars, nitrogen is found in the form of nitrogen dioxide gas two atoms locked together so tightly that they do not react easily with other molecules. The nitrogen atoms must be separated or fixed so they can participate in the chemical reactions needed for life. On Earth, certain organisms are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen and this process is critical for metabolic activity, Nasa said. However, smaller amounts of nitrogen are also fixed by energetic events like lightning strikes. Curiosity is currently at the foot of Mount Sharp, an 18,000 ft (5,500m) mountain formed by sedimentary layers. In December, the robot detected regular methane emissions near the Martian surface, but its source is unknown. Scientists do not expect Curiosity to find aliens or living creatures on Mars, but they hope to use it to analyse soil and rocks for signs the key elements to life are present and may have supported life in the past. The $2.5bn Curiosity rover also aims to study the Martian environment to prepare for a possible human mission there in the coming years. US President Barack Obama has vowed to send humans to the planet by FBI needs to improve its intelligence, info sharing This handout image presented to jurors yesterday in Boston, Massachusetts, shows a 9mm Ruger P95 pistol entered as evidence in the Boston Marathon bombing trial. The gun was used to kill MIT police officer Sean Collier and was found at the scene in Watertown, Massaschusetts, along with a box of ammunition. Boston bombing jury sees fuse, debris from suspect s apartment Boston The Boston Marathon bombing jury yesterday saw evidence including a fuse and a piece of a pressurecooker lid seized at the apartment where accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother lived. A Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent described sorting through a debrisfilled room that was like a construction site in the Tsarnaevs cramped threebedroom apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, four days after the deadly bombing on April 15, It almost looked like a construction site. There were tools in there, lots of debris, testified FBI special agent Christopher Derks, who led the apartment search. The jury also saw a jar filled with nails, a pellet gun and shooting targets and a black flag with Arabic writing that hung on the apartment s wall, all seized by agents. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, is accused of killing three people and injuring 264 with a pair of homemade pressurecooker bombs packed with nails and BB pellets at the race s crowded finish line. He is also charged with fatally shooting a police officer three days later as he and his 26yearold brother Tamerlan tried to flee. Tamerlan died hours after the shooting, following a gunfight with police in Watertown, Massachusetts. Tsarnaev s lawyers opened the trial early this month by bluntly admitting their client committed all the crimes of which he is charged. They contended, however, that Tamerlan was the driving force behind the attack, with Dzhokhar going along out of a sense of subservience. The lawyers want to persuade the jury to spare him the death penalty. Witnesses this week have detailed jihadist writings found on Tsarnaev s computers and evidence related to a trip to a New Hampshire shooting range a month before the attack as signs that he was a motivated and willing participant. Kimberly Franks, a supervisory agent with the FBI, testified that investigators who searched Tsarnaev s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth found a large fireworks device labelled Big Snow. Prosecutors contend the Tsarnaev brothers filled their homemade bombs with black powder removed from fireworks purchased legally in New Hampshire. A photo of a similar firework, with its powder removed, that was retrieved from a backpack found at a landfill south of Boston was also shown to the jury. FBI Special Agent Kenneth Benton testified that he and fellow agents searched the landfill after a college friend of Tsarnaev s took the plaid backpack from the defendant s dorm room and later tossed it into a dumpster. Two Kazakh exchange students were charged with obstruction of justice for removing that backpack from Tsarnaev s room on April 18, 2013, after the FBI released photos of the brothers identifying them as suspects in the bombing. Exchange student Azamat Tazhayakov in July was found guilty of obstructing justice for taking the backpack and his friend Dias Kadyrbayev in August pleaded guilty to the same charge. The bombing killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23, and eightyearold Martin Richard. Tsarnaev is also charged with the fatal shooting of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier three days after the bombing. Washington The FBI needs to strengthen its intelligence programmes and information sharing to counter the diverse and fastmoving national threats that have evolved since the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, a congressional commission said yesterday. The 9/11 Review Commission report also said the bureau s progress in developing key intelligence programmes, analysis and human intelligence collection lags its law enforcement capabilities. In a review of five recent threats and attacks, including the Boston Marathon bombing and attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the crucial tip for three cases did not originate within the FBI, Timothy Roemer, a former US ambassador to India who worked on the report, told reporters. Roemer said the bureau should give intelligence analysts greater Canadian jailed over rhino horn smuggling A Canadian antiques dealer was sentenced to two and a half years in a US prison yesterday for trying to export black rhinoceros horns that he purchased in New York from undercover US Fish and Wildlife Service agents. The sentence, handed down by US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan, was significantly more than the 10 months of time served sought by attorneys for Xiao Ju Tony Guan, but a modest reduction from the three years and one month called for by prosecutors and federal sentencing guidelines. Guan pleaded for lenience, saying he had already lost incentive and needs support from the White House and Congress to improve its capabilities. New threats to the US are greatly expanding in numbers, scope and lethality, Roemer said. The commission was created by Congress last year to review how well the Federal Bureau of Investigation has carried out recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission after Al Qaeda s hijacked plane attacks on New York and Washington. The 10month review found the FBI has made significant progress in many areas but still needs better integration of intelligence analysis and criminal investigations. This imbalance needs urgently to be addressed to meet growing and increasingly complex national security threats, including from adaptive and increasingly techsavvy terrorists, more brazen computer hackers and more technically capable global cyber syndicates, the report said. The report highlighted the dangers from decentralised terrorist networks recruiting homegrown violent extremists. These foreign fighters, including growing numbers of US citizens, are a clear and present security threat to the US, it said. The FBI faces an increasingly global and dangerous threat environment in 2015 amid an information revolution, the report added. Everything is moving faster, it said. The 9/11 Review Commission said the FBI has built collaborative relationships with its government partners, particularly the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. However, it said the bureau needs to share information with the intelligence community and local and state law enforcement agencies more quickly. The bureau also has fragmented engagement with the private sector on cybersecurity threats and should accelerate its outreach, the report said. his business and was cut off from his family in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Swain said she had considered Guan s apparent remorse, as well as the increased harshness of the time he has already served in New York, where he is unable to communicate with guards or other inmates because of his language barrier. She recommended he be transferred to a US prison near British Columbia so that his family can visit him. However, Swain said a lengthy custodial sentence was warranted by the seriousness of his crime. Top court revives pregnant worker s case against UPS Washington The US Supreme Court yesterday sided with a former driver for UPS Inc by throwing out a lower court ruling blocking her lawsuit accusing the package delivery company of discrimination for refusing to lighten her work duties while she was pregnant. On a 63 vote, the justices revived Peggy Young s discrimination claim against UPS and sent the case back to a lower court. The case focused on whether employers must provide accommodations for pregnant workers who may have physical limitations on tasks they can perform. The justices gave Young another chance to litigate whether UPS should have granted her request for temporary changes in work duties she asked not to lift heavier packages after she became pregnant in Writing on behalf of the majority, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said the lower court is required to determine if the employer had legitimate, nondiscriminatory, nonpretextual justification for treating employees differently. A federal district court judge and an appeals court had ruled in favour of UPS, which was backed by business groups in the case. Breyer said the lower court failed to consider the effects of UPS policies that covered nonpregnant workers who might have disabilities, injuries or otherwise might need accommodations, and asked, Why, when the employer accommodated so many, could it not accommodate pregnant women as well? Breyer said there is a genuine dispute as to whether UPS provided more favourable treatment to at least some employees whose situation cannot reasonably be distinguished from Young s. The two sides in the case disagreed over whether UPS agreed to accommodate nonpregnant workers requesting lightduty assignments. The case concerned whether the package delivery company violated a federal law, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, by denying Young s request. Young, who worked at a Maryland facility, had acted on a midwife s advice that she not be required to lift packages weighing more than 20lb (9kg). Conservative Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas dissented, accusing the court majority of going beyond the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and imposing new requirements on employers to offer stronger justifications for workplace policies that could burden pregnant women. UPS said last October that starting this past January it would begin providing accommodations for pregnant women. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last July issued enforcement guidance saying employers must offer accommodations to pregnant women just as they do for other workers with similar physical limitations. Jumbo support Two elephants support a stranded 18wheel truck in danger of tipping over in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, in this March 24 handout photo. The elephants, which were on board the truck, were being transported from Florida to a circus in Dallas. MiamiDoha flight in emergency landing as baby born midair Doha A Boeing 777 bound from Miami to Doha was forced to make an emergency landing in Newfoundland after a pregnant passenger gave birth midair to a baby boy, officials said yesterday. The birth took place just hours after the Qatar Airways flight took off from Florida on Sunday morning and before the pilot was able to make the emergency landing in Gander, Newfoundland, eastern Canada. With the help of two doctors travelling on the plane the woman gave birth to a healthy boy, Brian Hicks, safety manager at Gander International Airport, said. Thirty minutes before the plane was preparing to land, she gave birth to a baby boy, said Hicks. There were two doctors onboard, they assisted with the birth. He added: That s the youngest passenger we ve ever had at Gander. The plane was on the ground for some two hours while the mother and newborn were taken to a local hospital, before it then flew on to the Gulf. The unnamed mother, who was thought to be travelling alone, and the baby boy are said to be doing well and are thought to still be in Canada, Hicks said. It is not known where the mother was from and Hicks said the big talking point now is what nationality the baby will adopt as it was born in Canadian airspace. Qatar Airways has a policy of not accepting pregnant women on board once they have reached the 36th week of labour. The airline also advises all pregnant passengers to seek medical advice before travelling.
19 ASEAN 19 Prayuth warns media, says has power to execute reporters Bangkok Thai junta leader Prayuth Chanocha lashed out at journalists yesterday, saying he would probably just execute those who did not report the truth, in the latest outburst aimed at Thailand s media. Last month Prayuth said he had the power to shut down news outlets. Yesterday, he took an even harsher line. We ll probably just execute them, said Prayuth, without a trace of a smile, when asked by reporters how the government would deal with those that do not adhere to the official line. You don t have to support the government, but you should report the truth, the former army chief said, telling reporters to write in a way that bolsters national reconciliation in the kingdom. Prayuth, who is also prime minister, heads the ruling junta or National Council for Peace and Order. He toppled the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a coup last May, that followed months of protests aimed at ousting Yingluck. Known for his abrupt manner and impulsive remarks, Prayuth launched a crack down on dissenters after seizing power in May. He has said Thailand is not ready to lift martial law, which gives the army sweeping powers, including for arrest and detention. In January the junta forced a German foundation to cancel a forum on press freedom saying Thailand was at a sensitive juncture. Since taking power, the junta has made full use of martial law, which also bans all political gatherings. Prayuth was particularly critical of the Thailanguage Matichon daily newspaper, accusing the paper of siding with ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies. Don t think I don t know that your writing is pro the previous administration, he told a Matichon reporter shortly before boarding a plane to Brunei. The previous Interior Ministry bought many advertising spaces from you. Since the army toppled Thaksin, Yingluck s brother, in a previous coup in 2006, Thailand has been sharply divided. Thaksin support comes largely from the rural and urban working class, but traditional establishment in the capital and the south loathe Thaksin and accuse him of nepotism, cronyism and republican leanings, accusations he denies. Shortly after taking power Prayuth launched a yearlong road map aimed at reconciling Thais. Australians on Indonesia death row submit appeal evidence Jakarta Lawyers for two Australian drug smugglers facing execution in Indonesia submitted evidence to a court yesterday as part of the men s latest attempt to avoid the firing squad. A French death row convict had his appeal adjourned to next week. Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the ringleaders of the socalled Bali Nine drug trafficking gang, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia. Their appeals for presidential clemency, typically a death row convict s final chance of avoiding the firing squad, were recently rejected by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. The men, in their early 30s, are expected to be executed at the same time as eight other drug offenders. In addition to the Frenchman, these include convicts from Brazil, Nigeria, Ghana and the Philippines and one Indonesian. Jakarta initially said the executions would take place in February and nothing could stop them going ahead. However, authorities backed off following an international outcry and are now letting all pending legal appeals run their course. The Australians legal team, in its latest bid to avoid execution, are arguing against Widodo s decision to reject their pleas for clemency, saying he failed to assess their rehabilitation or give reasons for his decision. The Jakarta State Administrative Court dismissed the bid last month, saying clemency was the president s prerogative. The Australians lawyers are now appealing that decision. At at brief hearing yesterday, they submitted several documents to the court related to laws on the president s prerogative, said lawyer Leonard Aritonang without giving further details. The lawyers will return to court on Monday with an expert witness. Sukumaran and Chan were transferred earlier this month from jail on Bali to Nusakambangan prison island off Java, where they will be put to death. Serge Atlaoui, a Frenchman on death row since 2007 after being convicted of drugs charges, is also trying to avoid the firing squad by applying for a judicial review of his sentence. But his case at the Tangerang District Court, outside Jakarta, was adjourned yesterday until April 1 after he failed to show up for the hearing to sign paperwork that will allow the case to be transferred to the Supreme Court. Three Chinese tourists killed in tour bus crash Bangkok Three Chinese tourists died and 15 others were injured after a tour bus crashed in southern Thailand, police said yesterday. Chinese tourists are the biggest visitors to Thailand. More than 560,000 arrived in January, accounting for over 20% of tourist arrivals, according to Thailand s tourism ministry. The bus was carrying 18 Chinese tourists from a hotel in the southern Thai tourist island of Phuket to a pier designated for the party island of Pha Nga, Police Lieutenant Chollada Chokdeesrijun, the officer in charge of the case, told. The driver lost control at on a curve, Chollada said, adding that no other vehicles were involved in the accident. Myanmar students and activists wave as they arrive at a court for a hearing in Letpadan yesterday. Myanmar protesters defiant at court hearing Letpadan Angry relatives gathered outside a Myanmar court yesterday to show support for dozens of activists, arrested after a police crackdown on a studentled protest and facing charges that could see them jailed for nearly a decade. More than 60 demonstrators were brought to a court hearing in the central town of Letpadan two weeks after batonwielding police violently quelled their rally for education reform in scenes that sparked fears of a return to juntaera repression. Myanmar s quasicivilian government introduced muchpraised reforms after a halfcentury of military rule ended in But some observers fear these are stalling as the country heads towards a landmark election later this year. Kyaw Htay, one of the lawyers representing the protesters, said they had each been charged by police on five counts including unlawful assembly and rioting that could see them jailed for up to 9.5 years. Nobody has been released as far as I know, he said, adding that the next hearing would be on April 7. A group of 11 people were released from custody late yesterday, mainly older supporters of the student activists. Most still face charges but were freed after stumping up $2,000 bail. Nwe Lay Nge, 23, said her stint behind bars had done little to dampen her resolve to continue her protests. When I saw the brothers and sisters here, my spirit came back to me again. I have to keep fighting, she said. Relatives outside the courtroom where police opened their case against the protesters sang songs, cheered loudly and shook their fists in support of the activists as they were led in pairs into the building. Others broke down in tears and shouted It s not fair! More than 100 demonstrators were arrested after the March 10 rally, with most of them detained in nearby Tharrawaddy prison and allowed only fleeting contact with loved ones. Yesterday, the statebacked Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said 19 men and one woman had been turned over to their parents and relatives the previous day. The authorities have so far released 28 students and two reporters arrested in the crackdown after determining their roles in the protests, it said. Before the hearing worried relatives claimed that activists had been mistreated in prison and that they knew little about the legal action they face. My daughter still doesn t know what kind of charges have been pressed against them. They haven t been told anything clearly yet, said Ne Win, adding that his daughter Phyo Phyo Aung was beaten around the head about six times after being arrested. Myanmar authorities were unavailable for comment. Lawyer San Tun Aung among the crowd of relatives, journalists and activists gathered outside Tharrawaddy prison earlier yesterday said around 45 barristers from Mandalay and Yangon had offered to represent the detainees. Arresting them is like destroying democracy. That is why we lawyers have to represent them, he said. Students have long been at the forefront of political action in the nation s turbulent history, leading mass protests in 1988 which saw the rise of democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi and her party but which were brutally quashed by the military. The crackdown in Letpadan came just days after police broke up a student rally in Yangon, helped by men in civilian clothes, in moves that Suu Kyi s opposition party said echoed tactics under the former junta. The European Union, which has run programmes to train Myanmar s decrepit police force, has voiced concern at the crackdowns, while the US and UN also expressed alarm. Students have rallied in Myanmar for months to call for changes to a new education law, including decentralising the school system, allowing student unions and teaching in ethnicminority languages. Talks between the government and the young activists had led to a rethink of the legislation by parliament, which is currently debating proposed changes. But authorities had expressed determination to stop a march by the protesters from Mandalay in central Myanmar to Yangon, which began in January. Emotions raw as nation pays tribute to Lee Singapore Singaporeans wept on the streets and queued in their thousands yesterday to pay tribute to founding leader Lee Kuan Yew after his flagdraped coffin was taken on a gun carriage to parliament for public viewing. More than 26,000 had filed past the coffin before sundown, a government spokesman said, and thousands more were in line outside despite warnings that it could take them up to eight hours to view the casket. After a twoday private wake for the family, Lee s coffin was taken early yesterday from the Istana government complex, Lee s workplace for decades as prime minister and cabinet adviser, to the legislature. It will lie in state there until the weekend. The 91yearold patriarch Two mourners hold placards with condolence messages as members of the public queue after office hours across Cavenagh bridge to pay their respects to the late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. died Monday after half a century in government, during which the citystate was transformed from a poor British colonial outpost into one of the world s richest societies. The government led by his son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, apparently surprised by the heavy turnout on day one, announced that Parliament House would stay open for 24 hours a day until Saturday night due to the overwhelming response from members of the public. Lee will be cremated on Sunday after a state funeral expected to be attended by several AsiaPacific leaders even though he was just an MP when he died. Applause and shouts of We love you! and Lee Kuan Yew! broke out as the dark brown wooden coffin, covered by the redandwhite Singapore flag, emerged from the Istana in a tempered glass case perched on a gun carriage pulled by an opentopped military truck. Earlier, in scenes that evoked Singapore s colonial past, the carriage stopped in front of the main Istana building, from where Britain administered the island, as a bagpiper from the local Gurkha Contingent a special guard force played Auld Lang Syne. As the motorcade left the government complex, many in the crowd along the route to parliament were in tears as they raised cameras and mobile phones to record the historic event. Some threw flowers on the path of the carriage, while office workers watched from highrise buildings. President Tony Tan and his wife Mary were the first to pay their respects, bowing three times before Lee s closed coffin in the parliament s foyer. Queues snaked around the central business district despite the tropical heat and humidity. In true Singaporean fashion the crowds were orderly, with free drinking water and portable toilets set up for mourners. Police commandos helped direct traffic flow and priority queues were created for the elderly, pregnant women and disabled. People from all walks of life turned up to honour the authoritarian former leader known by his initials LKY. These are amazing scenes. I have not seen anything like this in my lifetime, said bank executive Zhang Wei Jie, 36. LKY is the founder of our country. It is a nobrainer that we have to pay respect. We have taken some time off from work, my supervisor is also here somewhere in the crowd. R Tamilselvi, 77, brought two of her granddaughters, each clutching flowers. Lee Kuan Yew has done so much for us, she said. We used to live in squatter (colonies) in Sembawang, my husband was a bus driver. Now my three sons have good jobs and nice houses. The children all go to school. What will we be without Lee Kuan Yew? Lee first became an MP in 1955 and served as prime minister from 1959, when Britain granted selfrule, to He led Singapore to independence in 1965 after a brief and stormy union with Malaysia. Syria returnees likely behind chlorine bomb attack: police Indonesian militants believed to have returned from fighting with the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria are suspected of being behind an attempted chlorine bomb attack in a shopping mall last month, police said yesterday. The homemade device made up of several bottles and a detonator was discovered in the mall south of Jakarta after it failed to go off properly. Police said it was the first such attack ever attempted in Indonesia. National Police Inspector General, Tito Karnavian, said the use of the chlorine resembled tactics employed by IS jihadists, who have taken over a vast swathe of territory in Syria and Iraq. It really surprised us, said the former commander of the police s elite counterterror unit. This is a signature of ISIS, he added, referring to the jihadists by an alternative name. It is connected to a group likely already returned from Syria. He said police were pursuing very good leads into the bomb attempt but would not reveal further details.
20 20 AUSTRALASIA/EAST ASIA Chinese do not like Twitter or Facebook Beijing If Beijing is successful in its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics then foreigners who attend will get uncensored Internet access, but this isn t an issue for Chinese who don t like sites like Facebook and Twitter, an official said yesterday. China keeps a tight rein on its Internet. The government has warned that social media, particularly foreign services, could be a destabilising force for Chinese society or even affect the country s security. Popular foreign social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook as well as Google Inc s main search engine and Gmail service are all inaccessible in China without specialised software to vault what is known as the Great Firewall. China had committed to providing media with the same freedom to report on the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics as they enjoyed at previous Games. But when the main press centre opened, journalists complained of finding access to sites deemed sensitive to China s communist leadership blocked. A senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official later admitted that some IOC officials cut a deal to let China block sensitive websites. Wang Hui, spokeswoman for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee, told a news briefing that China was an open country committed to having an open Internet. Everyone always brings up Facebook Super carrier and Twitter, but people around me don t like to use it, Wang said, when asked whether foreign visitors would access uncensored Internet access if the city won the 2022 Games. With our Weibo and WeChat, China s 650mn can freely use these tools to exchange and receive information, she said, referring to wildly popular Chinese social media tools which are subject to often quite strict government censorship. If you gave these (Facebook and Twitter) to me, I would not use them. I like using Weibo and WeChat. Foreign visitors, including the press, spectators or athletes, would get open Internet access in 2022, Wang added, without explaining how exactly this would work. Without a doubt, 2022 will be even more open than An IOC evaluation team is in China this week, and the final decision on who gets the Games will be made in July. The only other city bidding is Kazakhstan s Almaty. Despite being blocked in China, Beijing 2022 organisers have set up official Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, aimed at a foreign audience, though to little apparent effect. The Beijing 2022 Twitter account, which sent its first tweet in early November, is only followed by some 550 people. Its official Facebook page has attracted just over 400 likes since it was sent up at about the same time. China s cyberspace administration is complicit in attacks on major Internet companies including Google, an anticensorship group said yesterday, calling on firms worldwide to strengthen their defences. Beijing dismissed the accusation and called for all sides to abandon accusing each other without proof. GreatFire.org, which operates websites seeking to circumvent China s vast censorship apparatus, pointed to statements by Google, Microsoft and Mozilla as showing the Chinese government was involved in socalled maninthemiddle operations. Such attacks involve an unauthorised intermediary inserting themselves between computer users and their online destinations, usually undetected, allowing them to harvest data traffic including passwords. GreatFire.org said the firms statements amounted to concrete evidence the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) the government s Internet authority and the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) the administrator were behind these malicious actions and are endangering safety and security on the Internet for everyone. Washington and Beijing regularly trade accusations of hacking, with FBI director James Comey declaring last October that China was at the top of the list of countries launching cyberattacks on US firms. Beijing has also drawn criticism for a recent draft law that would require foreign companies to hand over their encryption keys and other sensitive data in order to do business in China. A Google security engineer, in a posting on the company s online security blog Monday, said CNNIC and a firm called MCS Holdings had been found to have issued unauthorised digital certificates for several Google domains. The misissued certificates would be trusted by almost all browsers and operating systems, he wrote, describing the resulting vulnerability as a serious breach of the Internet certificate authority system. On Tuesday Microsoft and Mozilla, owner of the popular Firefox web browser, announced that they were revoking trust in all MCS certificates. GreatFire.org welcomed the companies response but added: We once again call for Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple to revoke trust for CNNIC immediately in order to protect Chinese user data and user data worldwide. Asked about the accusations yesterday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: I think that all parties should abandon accusing each other without proof. What they should do is to press ahead with talks on forming cyber rules and to maintain cybersecurity. Beijing frequently describes itself as a victim of hacking. CAC and CNNIC did not immediately respond to requests for comment by. Last week GreatFire.org said it had been hit by a barrage of automated requests known as a distributed denial of service attack in an attempt to bring down its anticensorship services. We are under attack and we need help, it said in a blog post at the time. HK ready for fresh Occupy protests Hong Kong Hong Kong s leader said yesterday the city was prepared for a fresh flareup of prodemocracy street protests, while issuing a call to arms against opposition democratic lawmakers who have disrupted government policymaking in the legislature. Chief executive Leung Chunying s comments to a highprofile investment conference just days before the internationally renowned Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament, comes as a holdout group of protesters steadily build up their presence outside the city s government headquarters. Will Occupy resurrect itself?, Leung asked investors and bankers at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference. The Hong Kong government as always maintains its preparedness but I can say that the public, if Occupy happens again, will not be sympathetic. Leung also urged voters to expel democratic lawmakers in citywide legislative elections next year, highlighting the bitter political divisions that have emerged in the Asian financial hub after last year s prodemocracy protests, when activists seized and blockaded major roads for 79 days. Some activists have pledged to relaunch a second wave of civil disobedience protests this summer when the administration presents a proposal for how the next chief executive will be elected that is widely expected to mirror an earlier one by Beijing. China wants candidates to be prescreened by a small committee stacked with pro Beijing loyalists, a model decried as fake Chinesestyle democracy by the street activists. China promised Hong Kong universal suffrage and wideranging freedoms under a socalled onecountry, two systems model, when the former British colony was returned to China in In an attempt to pressure the government over the proposal, democratic lawmakers have stalled funding for infrastructure projects and things like a new innovation and technology bureau. For those of you who are registered voters, vote them out next year... Go to the polling stations and vote them out, Leung warned during the investor conference. Over the past few week, activists have begun expanding their camp outside government headquarters, which had been the main site for the Occupy movement before it was largely cleared away in December. A public library for students has now been set up on a pavement with books, desks and chairs laid out in neat rows drawing growing crowds of students daily. More tents and protest art have also sprung up in the vicinity in recent weeks. Some observers expect more young activists to rejoin the cause during the summer vacation. It will grow bigger, said Simon Wong, a 71yearold organiser of the library and study room. Beijing provides fugitives list to US Soldiers march during the handingover ceremony of the Izumo warship at the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama, south of Tokyo yesterday. Japan s Maritime Self Defence Force yesterday took delivery of the biggest Japanese warship since World War Two, the Izumo, a helicopter carrier as big as the Imperial Navy aircraft carriers that battled the United States in the Pacific. Use of ice in Australia growing Canberra Crystal methamphetamine is the greatest drug threat to Australians, with usage spreading across the nation despite unprecedented seizures of the substance by authorities, justice minister Michael Keenan said yesterday. Keenan, who was releasing an Australian Crime Commission report into the supply and use of the white crystalline drug, also known as ice, said local and international crime groups were heavily involved in the illicit trade. Our nation s addiction to this mindeating, personalitydistorting, lifeending drug is undermining the social fabric of communities, and paying big dividends to the organised criminal syndicates that are profiting from its misery, the minister said in a statement. The report confirms ice poses the greatest threat to the Australian public of all illicit drug types. The report also said there was an unprecedented level of organised crime involvement in the trade of the drug which is highly addictive. More than 60% of domestic criminal groups including motorcycle gangs were involved, with the drug passing through several countries before being imported into Australia, the commission said. From a global perspective, there appears to currently be significant production of methylamphetamine in Mexico, the report said. Mexican crime groups are importing cocaine and methylamphetamine into Australia. Australia was a particularly attractive market for drug traffickers as the price of ice was much higher in the nation compared with its regional counterparts, the report added. It noted that while $80 bought one gram of ice in China, users in Australia had to pay $500 for the same amount. The report said local dealers were mixing other drugs into ice to try to increase addiction levels. Our nation s addiction to this mindeating, personalitydistorting, lifeending drug is undermining the social fabric of communities, and paying big dividends to the organised criminal syndicates that are profiting from its misery More users were also turning to ice rather than the powdered form of methamphetamine. Ice can be smoked instead of injected, and so is easier to use and more accessible. These factors, and the ready availability of methylamphetamine, have created new demand in areas where the drug has not previously been present, the commission said. This includes regional, rural and remote communities. The broader impact of ice use included psychosis and longterm psychological issues, while it has also been linked to violent crimes, Keenan said. Some seven percent of Australia s population aged 14 years and above reported using amphetamine or methamphetamine, with 2.1% saying they had used the drugs in the past 12 months, according to a 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. The survey found that the daily or monthly use of ice had more than doubled from 12.4 percent in 2010 to 25.3% in The global production and trafficking of methamphetamine was growing amid increasing demand in east and southeast Asia, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in a report last year. The UN body added that record levels of methamphetamine were also being seized across the world. Beijing The Chinese government has provided a priority list to the United States of officials from China suspected of corruption who are believed to have fled there, a top staterun newspaper said yesterday. Last year, Chinese officials said more than 150 economic fugitives, many of them described as corrupt government officials, were in the United States. Xu Jinhui, head of the antigraft bureau at the state prosecutor, told the official China Daily that a priority list of alleged Chinese corrupt officials believed to be at large in the United States has been provided to US authorities. Most suspected corrupt officials overseas either worked for the government or stateowned enterprises and took bribes or embezzled public funds, Xu said. The report did not elaborate. Senior US officials will meet their Chinese counterparts in August to discuss the possibility of repatriating Chinese officials who have fled to America with billions of dollars of allegedly stolen government assets, a US official said last month. Xu added that Chinese authorities will start legal procedures to confiscate assets overseas, the newspaper said. Once in possession of solid evidence, we will initiate confiscation procedures according to the law, he said, again without elaborating. The United States may deport to China the exwife of a fugitive Chinese official indicted on money laundering and immigration fraud charges, a US prosecutor said last week. But there is no extradition treaty between the two countries and Western governments have long been reluctant to hand over suspects because of a lack of transparency and due process in China s judicial system. Liu Dong, head of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security s economic crimes division, told the China Daily that US authorities are prejudiced against China s legal system and mistakenly believe we would undertake unfair prosecution of suspects. Senior US officials will meet their Chinese counterparts in August to discuss the possibility of repatriating Chinese officials who have fled to America with billions of dollars of allegedly stolen government assets, a US official said last month The Chinese government has launched a campaign, dubbed Operation Fox Hunt, to hunt down officials and businessmen who have absconded, often taking their illgotten gains with them, part of president Xi Jinping s battle against deepseated graft. Separately, state news agency Xinhua said Xu Gang, the deputy governor of southern Fujian province, has been sacked after authorities launched a corruption investigation. Xinhua, citing the Communist Party s central organisation department, said the government has removed Xu s leadership position as he is being investigated for suspected serious breaches of party discipline and the law, the usual euphemism the government uses for graft. The article did not give more details and it was not possible to contact Xu for comment.
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