Monday, 29 October 2012

Everton rallies to hold Liverpool in derby clash

AFP

LIVERPOOL LEON OSMAN and Steven Naismith scored the goals as Everton fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in an engaging Merseyside derby with Liverpool on Sunday.

The visitors took an early advantage through a Leighton Baines own goal, which saw Luis Suarez, who had been criticised for diving by David Moyes before the match, run half the length of the pitch to dive on the ground in front of the Everton manager.

Suarez then headed Liverpool 2-0 up but Osman pulled one back just two minutes later before former Rangers forward Naismith pulled the hosts level with his first Everton goal.

The 219th derby produced a pulsating opening period that the second half failed to live up to and left Liverpool six points behind their old rivals, with Suarez’s antics sure to dominate the fall-out.

Both managers had called for a strong performance from referee Andre Marriner, and he showed eight yellow cards on a contentious afternoon at Goodison Park.

Liverpool suffered some pre-match problems when Pepe Reina was deemed unready to return from his hamstring problem and Glen Johnson also failed to make the starting line-up due to injury.

Australian Brad Jones, who had filled in for Reina in the previous two matches, looked uncomfortable in dealing with an early Kevin Mirallas corner but Liverpool moved ahead after 13 minutes.

Johnson’s replacement, Jose Enrique, made a fine burst down the left flank and although Baines prevented Raheem Sterling from tapping in at the far post, the England defender then turned Suarez’s shot into his own net.

Uruguayan Suarez produced a controversial celebration by diving to the ground in front of Moyes.

Seven minutes later the visitors doubled their advantage when Steven Gerrard clipped a free-kick into the area and Suarez glanced a header into the corner of the net.

Everton looked for a quick response and Marouane Fellaini’s drive was deflected wide. And Moyes’ side pulled level just two minutes after falling two goals behind when Jones could only produce a poor punch at a Baines corner and Osman found the net from the edge of the area.

Suarez still looked a constant threat and after receiving a throw from Andre Wisdom the Uruguayan thumped a shot past the post.

But 10 minutes before the break, Everton pulled level when Fellaini’s cross was allowed to travel across the Liverpool area and Naismith stabbed in from close range.

After their dreadful start, Everton looked strong and Jones did well to push away a cross from Mirallas, while Seamus Coleman also drove over the bar from just outside the area.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers made two changes at the interval, replacing Suso and Nuri Sahin with Jonjo Shelvey and Sebastian Coates, while the outstanding Mirallas had to be brought off for Magaye Gueye due to injury.

Sterling should have restored the visitors’ advantage when he raced past Phil Jagielka to collect Enrique’s return pass, but the 17-yearold’s shot squirmed wide.

‘Blue Stand’ for handicapped fans at Al Sadd

RAAJIV TRIPATHI

DOHA QATAR’S premier football club Al Sadd, which is leading the Qatar Stars League current season with five victories in as many matches, has made a pioneering contribution to corporate social responsibility programmes as well.

Al Sadd has created a ‘Blue Stand’ for the handicapped fans at the Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Stadium – the first of its kind in Qatar. The Blue Stand was inaugurated on Saturday at the Sector 120 to live up to its ‘Enable the Disabled’ promise at a simple ceremony on the eve of a match Al Sadd played against El Jaish.

Blue is an international colour for the physically challenge people.

The Sadd Blue Stand has about 500 seats with the blue lights on the floor to enable the handicapped fans to navigate and identify their sitting places. The stand also has adequate space between the rows of seats to ensure that wheelchairs could move without problem. All the floors have ramps to facilitate the movements of the wheelchairs.

Abdulla al Raisi, Deputy CEO of CBQ, cut the blue ribbon in presence of Al Sadd General Secretary Jassim al Rumaihi, ex-president and board member Nasser Mubarak al Ali, former club player Hassan Matar al Suwaidi and Khalil al Jaber and Sadd board member and QOC Sports Affairs Director.

Commercialbank of Qatar has teamed up with Sadd as its joint partner.

After the ceremony, Rumaihi expressed his gratitude to Commercialbank and the Qatar Olympic Committee for supporting this unique initiative under the Disability Legacy programme.

“The physically-challenged sports fans are part of our society and we’ll try to provide the best and safest possible environment to these fans so that they can enjoy football matches. We are really keen to welcome them here and soon, we hope to have a big number of such fans coming to our stadium and relishing the matches,” said Rumaihi.

The Sadd general secretary also hoped the drive would inspire other clubs to adopt such measures soon. “Al Sadd is privileged to be the first club to come up with such plan and will be remembered for it always. I sincerely hope that other clubs would also follow us and create such facilities for the handicapped fans.

“Right now, this facility is meant for the football matches.

But hopefully, we’ll create such Blue Areas for other sports as well,” added Rumaihi.

According to Dalal al Dossary, managing director of Impact CSR Solutions, Al Sadd has built the Blue Area in consultation with all the important stakeholders in Qatar such as the Qatar Olympic Committee, Qatar Paralympic Committee, Qatar Stars League, Qatar Football Association and Qatar Women’s Sports Committee.

Fans with special needs had earlier complained about the lack of safe and wellequipped areas for them to watch and enjoy sporting activities.

The club will also take care of the handicapped fans by offering refreshments, water and drinks during the matches.

The stand, which has the customised toilets in close proximity, has been made near the parking place for the official ambulances at the Al Sadd stadium. This will help the club to evacuate the handicapped fans in case of any emergency, added Dossary.

“The Qatar Paralympic Committee will issue identity cards in dominant blue and white colours. The cards will have all the related information about the holders. The club will deploy helpers to assist the fans.

“Al Sadd Club would stay in touch with its various partners and would be on the look out to further improve the facilities. This will surely create more awareness among other clubs and organisations and the handicapped fans will be able to enjoy the football matches like never before,” added Dossary.

Serena beats Sharapova, wins third WTA Championships

AP

ISTANBUL SERENA WILLIAMS beat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday to win the WTA Championships for the third time and finish the year with another title, although not the top ranking.

Williams ended the season with a 59-4 record.

Since her first-round loss at the French Open, the American is 31-1, winning Wimbledon, the Olympic gold medal and the US Open.

But because she did not play as well at the start of the year following injuries and illness, Williams will have to settle for the No 3 ranking despite dominating the tour in the past few months. She finishes behind No 2 Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, who ends the year as the top-ranked player in the world despite losing to Sharapova in the semifinals.

In 2001 and ‘09 Williams also won the elite, year-end tournament that brings together the top eight players in the world.

Williams raced forward to reach a drop shot and put away a passing-shot winner but the seventh game still went to Sharapova after five deuces. But the American was pumping her fist and there was no holding her back as Williams closed out the set with an ace - one of 11 she had in the match.

She broke Sharapova’s serve to start the second set and was never really threatened again. Williams hit a powerful return on her first match point and had 40 winners, compared to Sharapova’s 13.

Williams finished the tournament without dropping a set and she also beat Azarenka in round-robin play, one of her four wins against the No 1 this year.

The American has won 12 straight against opponents ranked No 1 or No 2 and has not lost to a player ranked in the top 2 since 2007.

Williams also became the oldest player, at age 31, to win the year-end championships and has seven titles this year.

West wins second place in Moto2

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA ONLY one week after his podium finish at the wet Malaysian Grand Prix, QMMF Racing Team rider Anthony West continued his admirable form to take second place at his home Grand Prix of Australia at Phillip Island.

The 31-year-old Queenslander started from ninth place on the grid, but quickly moved up within the leading pack of riders to take seventh spot on lap four and fourth place on lap five.

About 53,000 fans around the magnificent Phillip Island track cheered when he made his move on Marc Marquez - who was crowned as the new world champion after the race – and swept into third place with three laps to go. On the last lap, he rounded the day off with a successful attack on Scott Redding. West’s second place today is his first podium success in dry conditions since the British Grand Prix back in 2003 in the 250 cc category and it is also a milestone result for his QMMF Racing Team.

Pol Espargaro of Spain won the race, with new world champion Marc Marquez of Spain came third. Marquez’s finish gave him 299 points, 33 ahead of Espargaro with just one race remaining in Valencia, Spain in two weeks and 25 points awarded for a win.

“This was clearly our best race so far and it is a proof that QMMF has a powerful team”, said QMMF Racing team manager Rashid al Sulaiti.

“We have been working hard during the season to arrive at this point. It’s a pity that the season is finishing soon, but next year we will be back with Anthony fighting for top positions!” Elena Rosell, the second rider of the QMMF team, also put up a great show in the race.

With a strong and steady pace, but also aided by several crashes and mechanical failures of other riders, the 26-year-old lady racer from Valencia moved up from 29th on the starting grid to 24th place in the end.

On the way to the finish line, she held her next rival Marco Colandrea at bay and gained additional confidence for the season’s final in two weeks, her home race at Valencia.

“What a fun race! Everybody was fighting really hard, but I kept cool and whilst they played with each other, I would sneak up inside of someone. The next lap, I would sneak up the inside of someone else,” commented West after the race.

“Once I reached fourth place, I thought the others would fight back. I could hear them, but I just kept pushing and pushing and finally they dropped off.

Then I caught Marc Marquez. Yesterday I thought he was out of reach, but I take that back! Coming on to the straight, I felt really strong and the bike ran well.

“The Speed Up has been fast since I jumped on it and even though the bike of Marquez was always something special, I got him at the end of the main straight, which was a move that I really surprised myself with! In the Stoner corner, I could hold my speed flat out and I made up a lot of time going into Honda corner, where I got Scott Redding.

He added: “All weekend long I felt strong and I knew I could maintain my pace throughout the race. The Speed Up really suits this fast and flowing track, but we are also pretty happy with the base set-up that we finally found for this bike. Even Iannone is starting to copy our settings now!” “It is crazy how things go in life. I have been fighting for ten years to be in this position and then it just comes twice in a row. To think that I started the season without a ride, that I turned up at Qatar in the last minute to ride for this team and that we arrived at this result today is like a fairytale. I really have to thank QMMF and the team a lot for giving me the chance to continue racing,” said West.

West also said he proved he could perform in dry conditions as well. “For me, this was a much better result than last week in Malaysia. The podium finish there was just a big confidence booster for me. I have been so down and this is what I needed to pump myself back up. Today, we achieved the real result that I wanted in the dry.

“Everybody keeps telling me that I am the wet man and the rain is coming and that’s good, but the truth is that I prefer to ride in the dry and that I’m very happy with this result. It was fantastic to get this podium in front of my home crowd, hopefully that will pump someone up with some money to sponsor me and help us out.”

Italy renews ILVA steel mill’s licence, toughens terms

The Timbuktu Question
UPFRONT I'd like to make clear that I am very pleased Mitt Romney got North Mali into the foreign policy debate - twice. He also, by the way, referred to it as "the northern part of Mali." Americans were rivetted. The Timbuktu questions had seemed in danger of getting forgotten ...
MEANING OF MODERATION
OVER the past month, Mitt Romney has aggressively appealed to moderate voters. President Barack Obama, for some reason, hasn't. But, in what he thought was an off-the-record interview with The Des Moines Register, Obama laid out a pretty moderate agenda for his ...

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Gas import cut costs Israel $258 million a month
Iran’s coal trade booms despite Western heat

Nokia’s future hangs on Windows Phone 8 rollout

AP

HELSINKI

FOR Nokia, it comes down to this: Is Microsoft’s new phone software going to get it back in the smartphone race, or is it going to be too late? After being the top seller of cellphones in the world for 14 years, Nokia failed to meet the challenge when Apple in 2007 introduced the dazzling iPhone that caught the imagination of design-conscious customers and rattled mobile markets.

The Finnish company hit a downward spiral that has led to shrinking sales and market share, plant closures, thousands of layoffs and downgrades by credit agencies to junk status.

On Friday, research firm IDC said that in the July-to-September period, Nokia slid for the first time off the list of the top five smartphone makers in the world.

It’s still the second-largest maker of phones overall, but sales of non-smartphones are shrinking across the industry, and there’s little profit there.

The ailing company’s CEO, Stephen Elop, sees Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 software as a chance to reverse that trend, describing it as a catalyst for the new models.

On Monday, Microsoft is hosting a big launch event for the software at an arena in San Francisco.

The first phones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC are expected to hit store shelves next month.

The launch of Windows Phone 8 follows on the heels of Windows 8 for PCs and tablets, which Microsoft released Friday. That operating system has borrowed its look from Windows Phone, meaning Microsoft now has a unified look across PCs and phones ó at least if people take to Windows 8
The company has also made it easy for developers to create software that runs on both platforms with minor modifications.

Analysts are calling this a makeor- break moment for Nokia.

“Nokia is placing a huge bet on Microsoft and if the gamble doesn’t pay off, the losses can be high,” said Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics, near London. “It’s putting all its eggs in one basket and that’s quite a high-risk strategy.” In February last year, Nokia announced it was teaming up with Microsoft to replace its old Symbian and next-generation MeeGo software platforms with Windows. This move was made in the hope that it would rejuvenate the company and claw back lost ground.

Eight months later, they produced the first Nokia Windows Phone. Consumers didn’t warm to it, and it soon became clear that these phones, based on Windows Phone 7, were going to become obsolete. They can’t be upgraded to Windows Phone 8. Lumia sales slumped to 2.9 million units in the third quarter after reaching 4 million in the previous three months.

“Retailers withdrew marketing and promotion because no one wants to sell customers a device that ages in a few months,” says Michael Schroeder, analyst at FIM Bank in Helsinki.

“Had there been a seamless transfer to Windows 8 from the old (Lumia) devices, sales figures would have been much higher last quarter.” Mawston gives Nokia until April to prove it’s still in the race. “If Nokia does not have more than 5 percent of the global smartphone market by the end of the first quarter 2013, alarm bells will be ringing,” Mawston said.

Analysts estimate Nokia’s current global smartphone market share to be some 4 percent ó down from 14 percent a year ago.

Meanwhile, uncertainty clouds its new venture with Microsoft.

“We’re a bit in the dark here,” Schroeder said. “Right now we can’t really say anything about Nokia’s future. Everything depends on how the new devices are received in the market.” Nokia says its Lumia 920 and 820 phones are just the beginning of a new range of Windows Phone 8 devices, but early evaluations suggest they lack the ‘wow’ effect necessary to make a dent in the smartphone market.

“It’s a perception thing really,” Mawston of Strategy Analytics said. “Like in supermarket wars, if you have a store with lots of shelves with lots of apps, then consumers will choose you over a smaller store that has a smaller offering even if you can’t use all those apps.” Analysts expect 700 million smartphones to be sold worldwide this year. While network operators and retailers may welcome a third software system to challenge the dominance of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, it is the consumer who will ultimately decide Nokia’s and Windows Phone 8’s fate.

Sinopec profit falls 9% in Q3 on low China growth

REUTERS

HONG KONG

CHINA’S Sinopec, Asia’s largest refiner, posted a 9.4 percent fall in third-quarter profit after its petrochemical business swung to a loss due to the slowing Chinese economy, offsetting hikes in gasoline and diesel prices.

Net profit sank to 18.3 billion yuan (1.81 billion pounds) in July- September from 20.22 billion yuan a year earlier, Sinopec said in a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange on Sunday. That compares with an average estimate of 14.7 billion yuan in a Reuters poll of four analysts.

For the first nine months, Sinopec posted a net profit slump of 30 percent. China’s economy slowed for the seventh consecutive quarter, cutting demand for petrochemical products.

“In light of the market situation, we have actively lowered the operation utilisation of our chemical facilities,” Sinopec said.

Output of ethylene, the basic building block for plastics, decreased 4.5 percent to 7.02 million tonnes in the first nine months, while synthetic resin production edged down 1.1 percent to 9.96 million tonnes, Sinopec said.

Sinopec did not give a breakdown of the financial performance of its business divisions, but analysts say its chemical division was in the red in the third quarter compared with a profit of 7.3 billion yuan a year earlier.

That added to the loss faced by Sinopec in processing crude into oil products such as gasoline and diesel, although the shortfall in the third quarter should have been smaller compared with the second after the government allowed refineries to raise prices twice, analysts say.

Sinopec had a refining loss of 9.3 billion yuan in the second quarter and 10.9 billion yuan in July- September of 2011.

The company did not disclose its refining loss for the third quarter on Sunday.

Analysts say long-term profitability of the state oil giant depends on how soon China will reform its fuel-pricing mechanism to allow refiners to fully pass on crude costs to end users.

Chinese refiners cannot fully pass on higher crude costs to consumers because of government price controls to tame inflation.

Fuel price hikes in China are often smaller, and implemented later, than required under a state-set formula that tracks changes in global crude costs.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Sinopec have gained 21 percent in the past three months as the two price hikes in the third quarter fuelled hopes that the government is poised to adopt a more market-oriented pricing policy, analysts say.

Sinopec outperformed a 15 percent rise in the Hong Kong-listed shares of PetroChina and a 10 percent gain in CNOOC, which derive most or all of its earnings from crude production.

Some analysts see a near-term pull-back in Sinopec shares as they don’t expect China to make any concrete change to the pricing mechanism until after its new government is inaugurated next year.

“People are going to be disappointed.

I don’t think they are going to get any material change to diesel and gasoline pricing policy for many months to come,” said James Hubbard, head of Asia oil and gas research at Macquarie.

Oil and gas production rose 4.92 percent in the first nine months to 318 million barrels of oil equivalent, Sinopec said. Refining output averaged 4.39 million barrels per day, up 0.46 percent.

Consumers, farmers squeezed as grain giants tighten grip

REUTERS

LONDON

A GLOBAL race for grain trading power is putting more of the world’s vital cereals in the hands of fewer companies, with a string of recent acquisitions raising fears that consumers will pay even more for their food, while farmers are squeezed.

Archer Daniels Midland last week bid for Australia’s last independent grain handler GrainCorp, the latest in a series of moves by grain trading heavyweights to grab a larger slice of a booming market as developing economies seek food security.

The four “ABCD” firms - ADM, Bunge, Cargill Land Louis Dreyfus - dominate global grain trading along with top global commodities trader Glencore and Japan’s Marubeni, both of which have made major acquisitions in the last few months.

With food price volatility increasingly coming to the fore, most recently in the wake of drought in the US and other key producing regions, concern is growing among importers about extra upward pressure on prices.

“The increasing concentration of power in the global grain market is not healthy.

This will lead to grain prices being controlled by top trading companies,” said Rusman Heriawan, deputy agriculture minister of Indonesia, Asia’s top wheat importer.

The United Nations sounded alarm bells on market volatility this summer as corn alone surged around 40 percent in less than a month. Soybeans hit record highs, while wheat also shot up dramatically, reviving memories of the 2007/08 food crisis.

“So-called grain majors account for about 75 percent of the global grain market. If they keep on merging with other grain companies, there is the possibility of a monopolistic situation,” said Han Sukho of the grains division at the Korea Rural Economic Institute.

“This will make things difficult for importing countries like South Korea. We might have to pay more than what things actually cost,” the assistant director of the state-run think-tank added.

South Korea is a major importer of both wheat and maize. After a doubling in quarterly profits helped by the impact of drought on the grain trade, Bunge Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alberto Weisser said on Thursday that he expected industry consolidation to continue.

“I do believe that we will have more consolidation because the market has shown that it is necessary to have large companies” with geographically diverse assets and strong balance sheets “to operate and serve the market in these volatile times,” he said. “We are part of it.” Lee Gaus, vice president of International Futures Group, said there were some benefits from the consolidation for the grain trading companies, who will have more flexibility from expanded networks.

But consumers will feel the impact if importers and supermarkets are subject to higher prices, as the flexibility of supply reduces.

“There are efficiencies that are gained when you have this kind of consolidation. But, on the other hand, there’s a danger in a situation where you have more and more controlled by fewer and fewer,” he said.

“Ultimately this hurts the consumer. I don’t know any time that you can concentrate so much leverage in so few hands that it doesn’t eventually impact the consumer,” Gaus added.

Gaus also saw the consolidation as a threat to producers who are faced with fewer potential buyers for their crops - meaning that they might be forced to accept lower prices for their produce. Farmers are often dependent on the grain trading companies for their seed and fertilizers as well as providing a buyer for their crops.

“It (grain market consolidation) has a negative impact, both on the many producers that feed into this very small number of traders and on the other end on their customers and ultimately consumers,” said Jodie Thorpe, policy adviser for Oxfam.

Iran’s coal trade booms despite Western heat

REUTERS

LONDON

USING shadowy middle men, multiple bank accounts and a fleet of ghost ships, Iran’s coal trade is quietly booming as the Islamic Republic tries to sidestep Western sanctions and prevent its industrial economy from crashing.

Tougher measures imposed by the European Union and the United States have tightened the screws on Tehran, which relies on its shipping trade for many imports including food, consumer and industrial goods. Many foreign companies, including shipping firms, have pulled out for fear of losing business in the U.S. and due to the complexities of arranging non-sanctioned deals.

Despite the setbacks, industry sources say producers in Ukraine are providing Iran with coking coal, also known as metallurgical coal, and coke - key steel ingredients.

“Iranians used to buy a lot of coking coal from Australia to make their own coke but that has stopped now as the big companies there don’t want to do it as they are too exposed,” a British-based coal trade source said. “So Iran went to buy coke from Ukraine,” he added, referring to the concentrated coal used in blast furnaces.

While coal is not directly targeted as a commodity, the European Union imposed a ban on steel sales to Iran last week, making the Islamic Republic’s coal needs more pressing because it now must produce more steel itself.

“Iran is one of the fastestgrowing countries in terms of steel production so they need more steel raw materials,” a European based trade source said. “They need to import more (metallurgical) coal and coke,” he said.

Lured by a trade worth nearly $25 million a month, suppliers in Ukraine are aiming to take advantage.

“The US and EU sanctions programmes currently in place against Iran are complex and include sanctions against the indispensable marine insurances,” said Jakob Larsen with BIMCO, the world’s largest private ship owners’ association.

“As is often the case, for those who are willing and able to take the risk, the rewards are more likely to be high. In such a market the risk-taker segment will try to find a way out.” Sources say the trade is complex involving often multiple brokers and diverse payment arrangements including a mix of currencies such as Russian roubles.

“We have been approached to sell some (metallurgical) coal to Iran and they have been buying more lately,” one Ukrainian metallurgical coal producer said. “We have done some business but not directly, through another country — Syria and Lebanon,” he said, without providing further details.

Even those looking to do deals with Iran from Ukraine are having to find creative ways to trade, other sources said.

“One of the ways around it being looked at is barter.

We’ve been approached several times but haven’t done any deals yet to do barter of coal for steel of equivalent value, that way no money needs to change hands,” a raw materials trader said.

A Black Sea based trade source also reported receiving multiple enquiries in recent weeks from Iran. “It isn’t easy, it’s very complicated to deal with Iran,” the source said.

“To do some business there you must use a bank with specialist knowledge, not the usual banks or Russian banks. I would use a Lebanese bank instead, which has representative offices in Tehran and acts as an agent between the mills and suppliers.” Trade sources said it was unclear who the ultimate Iranian end-users of imported material were because of the involvement of agents and middle men and the desire to conceal purchases.

“Anybody who is doing this kind of business is not going to say who the buyers are,” another Ukrainian coal source said.

Another Black Sea based industry source familiar with the shipments said cargoes were being routed from the cargo port of Nikolayev, not far from Ukraine’s larger terminal of Odessa.

Gas import cut costs Israel $258 million a month

REUTERS

JERUSALEM

ISRAEL is losing one billion shekels ($258 million) each month it waits for natural gas to arrive from its recently discovered offshore fields, the chief executive of Ratio Oil Exploration said on Sunday.

Gas production is set to soar in Israel in the coming years, but its first field, Tamar, discovered in 2009 with estimated reserves of 9.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf), is due online in April.

Since losing gas imports from Egypt earlier this year, Israel has had to turn to more expensive fuels, like diesel and fuel oil, to generate electricity. This, together with the delay in taxes and royalties the government is expecting from gas production, is taking a toll, said Ratio’s Yigal Landau.

“(The loss of) tax income, of an energy alternative that costs a quarter of what the state is currently paying, and income from foreign currency, costs the country more than one billion shekels every month,” he said at an energy conference in Tel Aviv. Ratio is not a partner in the group developing Tamar, but it holds a 15 percent stake of the much larger Leviathan project nearby.

Leviathan, estimated to have 17 tcf of natural gas, was the largest offshore discovery of the past decade, and it will require $15 billion to develop, Landau said.

The Leviathan consortium, led by Texas-based Noble Energy , is looking to bring in a major international energy company to help in its development.

Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has submitted a bid to buy up to a 30 percent stake in Leviathan. Israeli media has reported that Russia’s Gazprom was also a leading contender in the process.

Noble Energy has a 39.66 percent share in the field.

Israel’s Delek Group, through subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, has a 45.34 percent stake.

Fun-filled Eid activities at ‘1001 Inventions’ expo a big draw

CATHERINE W GICHUKI

DOHA FUN-FILLED scientific and cultural Eid al Adha activities organised on the sidelines of the ongoing ‘1001 Inventions’ exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park has been attracting over 4000 visitors every day during the Eid al Adha holidays, an official has said.

The venue was a beehive of activities on Sunday with huge participation by families.

The activities included calligraphy and jewellery-making workshops, ‘design your own coin’ workshop, Al Kindi’s workshop where visitors discovered how he made perfume.

There was also a live stage performance where scientists from the Golden Age of Islamic civilisation ‘came to life and worked with the audience to solve problems together. Other activities included rhyming science, face painting, kite-making, body parts puzzle with 10th century surgeon Al Zahrawi and balloon shaping, besides others.

The Qatar Science Club (QSC) was also present to showcase QSC-designed puzzles related to mathematics, science and technology.

The ‘1001 Inventions’ expo is interactive exhibition uncovering a thousand years of scientific and cultural achievements of the Muslim civilisation from 7th century onwards. The exposition that began on October 17 will conclude on November 12. It is being organised in association with Qatar Museums Authority and the MIA in partnership with ‘1001 Inventions’ and Qatar Shell.

Speaking to Qatar Tribune on Sunday, 1001 Inventions Middle East Operations Director Shaza Shannan said that the organisers wanted to have additional activities for the exhibition.

“The purpose of the activities is to educate, entertain as well as allow people, especially children, to learn about the 1001 Inventions expo. The activities are simple but they engage the mind and help young people understand the historical significance of the exhibition.” Shannan further said, “During the perfume-making workshop, for example, participants smell different kinds of perfume exposing them to the distillation process developed by Jaber Ibn Hayyan and Al Kindi in the 9th century, which is now being applied in gas-to-liquid distillation, used by companies like Shell in their Pearl GTL project.” She said that Al Kindi wrote a book detailing 107 perfume recipes.

Shannan added that the exhibition has been a success since it opened its doors According to Shannan, about 25,000 visitors have visited the expo. During the Eid holidays, about 10,000 visitors have visited the exposition.

WISE selects 30 more for learning programme

JOSEPH VARGHESE

DOHA WORLD Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) has selected 30 more outstanding young people for inclusion in the WISE Learners Voice Program (LVP). Aged between 18 and 25, the new nominees will join the existing set of LVP members soon.

The existing Learners’ Voice community consists of 48 learners who were selected in 2010 and 2011.

With the new set of 30 more youngsters joining the team, the total number of LVP team goes up to 78.

The third batch of learners from 24 countries has recruits with diverse profiles. They come from different backgrounds and disciplines and share a passion for education.

Together they represent the unique perspective of the learning community in WISE.

The 2012 WISE learners were selected from among hundreds of applicants and nominations that were submitted in June from around the world. The LVP members will be present at WISE 2012 where they will join forces with the 2011 learners to report from the summit through video interviews and blogs, and will take part in debates, workshops and a forum session. The basis of Learners’ Voice is that learning is most effective with collaboration between the teacher and the student. The programme builds their advocacy skills to ensure that leaders and decisionmakers hear their all-important voice, and it supports their growth as agents of change in education.

The WISE learners who were selected in 2011 have been working as a multinational team throughout the year on the theme ‘Increasing access to relevant, quality education for all learners through innovation.

Seven groups investigated access to education at various levels, including early childhood education and lifelong learning. To enrich their research, several 2011 Learners participated in key global events during the year.

The new LVP members are Agazi Afewerki from Canada, Fatema Akbar from Bahrain, Emmanuel Ako Besseri from Cameroon, Firyal al Balushi, Oman, Najla al Khalifa, Qatar, Talal al Naama, International Relations, Qatar, Haya al Thani, International Politics, Qatar, Ahmad Almeer, Qatar, Ragda Awad, Palestine, Bahauddin Baha, Afghanistan, Nour Barakat, Syria, Muhammad Bilal, Pakistan, Kristina Bouree, Netherlands, Jenna Brashear, USA, Aya Chebbi, Tunisia, Michel Ange Dagrain, Haiti, Yara Darwish, Qatar, Eduardo Gomez, Colombia, Tala Hammash, Jordan, Ewa Iwaszuk, Poland, Kelvin Kaari, Kenya, Audry Maulana, Indonesia, Steeve Maxilien, Agronomy, Haiti, Morcos Metry, Electrical Engineering, Egypt, Taoufik Mousselmal, France, Huong Nguyen, Vietnam, Ramy Safien, Egypt, Neil Vincent Sandoval, Philippines, Maad Sharaf, Yemen and Monica Marianda Tucker from Sierra Leone.

Rota eert vrijwilligers voor goede communautaire werk

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA volunteers who competed at Reach Out to Asia (Rota) activities attended the 6th annual Ramadan Project volunteer appreciation event in Doha recently. The event was held in Qatar Foundation Recreation Centre in education city.

Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh bin Rota Board member Dr. Nasser al Thani and Executive Director Essa al Mannai were present on the occasion.

"I am pleased to report that all of our projects this year, including Ramadan Project, the true spirit of Rota reflected. The objective is for practical help and support of disadvantaged people in the community, "said Mannai.

Rota of Ramadan 2012 Project entitled ' New beginnings ' saw a number of community volunteer network Rota of activities, including distribution of groceries to needy families and home renovations.

The project hosted community iftars for residents of Qatar Foundation for elderly care, children of Dhreima orphanage and patients from residential care compound. They also organized garangao night for young patients with HMC.

Rota the volunteer-led fundraising event during Ramadan contributed to the increase of QR172, 000. The Fund went to the Rota projects in Bangladesh.

"The fundraising event celebrated the work of volunteers, supporters of the Rota, partners and sponsors. It also gave the guests the opportunity to see Rota activities in Asia, "said Mannai.

More than 150 volunteers participated in the project along with Rota partners furniture store The One and the Centre for social development.

Occidental Petroleum of Qatar Ltd. (Oxy Qatar) was the corporate sponsor of the project.

Oxy Qatar President and General Manage Steve Kelly said, "Oxy has privileged as part of the Rota project. We are convinced that the Organization will achieve the aim of improving the lives of the less fortunate. "

Talk during the event, said Mannai, "I would like to thank all volunteers for the fantastic work that they did during Ramadan, especially the volunteers who for the first time. The volunteers contributed many hours to help people less fortunate than themselves. "

Indian Envoy opens forum for Indian artists in Qatar

SANTHOSH CHANDRAN

DOHA AN Indian artist forum called Visual artist Forum India (VAFI) was launched with a three-day painting workshop in Doha on Saturday.

India's Ambassador in Qatar he Michel Arora inaugurated the forum and workshop on a feature on Birala Public School. The workshop will run until Monday.

Lighting the traditional lamp of VAFI pattern Mohan Thomas jointly, Qatari artist Yousef Ahmad and wife of the Indian Ambassador Chhaya Arora marked the opening of the ceremony.

Chhaya Arora and Yousef Ahmad also painted on a canvas prepared for the honourable guests.

The workshop on the theme "Qatar through the eyes of an artist ' and ' nostalgia of my own country ' was attended by 22 Indian artists. Each participant creates two works of art on the canvas at the workshop. A panel of jury selects the winning paintings done during the workshop.

In his inaugural speech said Arora that the Indian Embassy always in favour of this noble Organization and its efforts would be. He described the two themes selected for the workshop very obliging.

Mohan Thomas said that the forum is a platform for Indian visual artists in Qatar would provide to hone and demonstrate their art. "VAFI will try to identify an entity which will nurture and promote Indian visual artists by helping them to produce their full potential of works of art of international quality, will eventually lead to their becoming famous painters," said Thomas.

Qatari artist Yousef Ahmad expressed his joy about being associated with the forum, and felt proud to be part of its mission. He said that he was wonder-struck by the presence of so many talented artists in the Indian expat community in Qatar.

The artists participating in the workshop are SreeKumar Padmanabhan, Patric Rozario, Sauman-Pal, Shamim Zakia, Regint Varghese, Renjith K Kutty, Amit Chakraborty, Amit Majumdar, Manjunath, Prahalladan, Santhosh, Sageer, Henry Joseph, Surendranath, Shajee Chelad, Mahesh BP, Smita Ashington, Amritha, Haimvati, Pooja P Vasu Vanimal, Jayan and George.

QA, Access-It to host World Library meet

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA librarians and educators from more than 40 countries will come together at the five-day 41st Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship hosted by Qatar Academy in cooperation with Access-It Library on the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Centre in the heart of the bustling city education from 11 November.

This is the first time that the International Association of her meeting in the Gulf region.

According to Beverley Stubbs, head of libraries and Media Center on QA, reflects this year's theme not only cultural characteristics of the recipient country, but also the changing role of librarians.

"The theme is ' The Shifting Sands of School Librarianship ' with four strands: collaboration, creativity & innovation, internationalism and literacy & fluency," Stubbs explained.

"These components will direct the Conference sessions and want to provide opportunities for participants to attend the presentation session that would best meet their unique needs. For example, sessions will focus on the development of beach in cooperation professional learning networks for educators and administrators. Similarly, it will challenge the participants to define component internationalism and to consider their role in the global education landscape, "he added.

Nine international authors and four keynote speakers are scheduled to speak at the Conference, share their expertise during the five-day event.

Included in the line-up are the New York Times bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrators Korky Paul and Bryn Barnard, Charles Benoit, who for the reluctant teenage male readers, children's author Chris Bradford, freelance news reporter Rosie Garthwaite and Fatima Sharafeddine, Nadine Touma and Rania Zaghir writes, authors with numerous awards under their belt and write in Arabic.

"We look forward to these experts whose varied work each brings a unique perspective to the Conference hosting," said Stubbs.

Instrumental in organizing and hosting of the Conference is Access-It-Library, a complete library and resource management software provider.

Locally represented by Iqraa Trading, Access-it is valuable partnership with Qatar Academy for this Conference aligned with their shared faith in the emerging role of librarians in international education.

Pilgrims rush to complete the final Hajj rituals

AFP

MINA Muslim pilgrims rushed to complete the last rituals of the annual hajj on Sunday as they are the devil stoning site in Saudi Arabia's Mina Valley on the penultimate day of the pilgrimage.

Most pilgrims cast stones at three pillars that Satan if they leave the Holy City of Mina before sunset.

Others, however, continue until Monday when they will perform the ritual one last time.

Mina Valley, abandoned throughout the year and come to live only during the Hajj seemed like it is hit by an earthquake, with sheets, sleeping mats and tents scattered on roads where pilgrims had been camping for days.

An overwhelming stench filled the air, as garbage bags were piled high along the roadsides.

"As you can see, we have suffered from the dirt," said Syrian pilgrim Mohammed Ruba, who sat with her family squeezed in a shady spot between two trucks. "But it was sweet suffering." Believers outside Makkah will have to return there to perform the circumambulation of the Kaaba, the cube-shaped goodbye structure at the Grand Mosque direction that Muslims worldwide pray.

The Hajj officially ends on Monday but pilgrims who are in a hurry to close their pilgrimage can do on Sunday.

"I hope I will be able to run again in the future of the Hajj" said Um Hassan from Iraq. "It was a great experience." Able-bodied Muslims must perform the Hajj at least once in their lives.

"We will never experienced anything better," said Rajab Ibrahim, a 42-year-old Egyptian who with fellow pilgrims under a colorful sheet was stretched between two cars to protect them from the scorching sun.

"You feel here internal peace. You forget everything else. " Although in the past marred by deadly incidents, including floods, forest fires, the Hajj become hollow and almost incident-free in recent years because of projects of multi-billion dollar.

This year alone spent the Kingdom more than 1.1 billion Riyals ($ 293,3 million) of development projects in the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, everything outside Makkah.

The devil stoning at Mina, passed even the most dangerous phase of the Hajj when hol and burning in the tented camps wreaked havoc, without incident this year.

Most of the tents are now fire and gas vessels and cooking are prohibited. The stoning area is also extended to prevent overpopulation.

Saudi authorities have a five-level structure resembles a large parking place around the stoning site, allowing the smooth flow of pilgrims built.

Makkah gov. Prince Khaled al Faisal told reporters turnout this year was nearly four million people because of a large increase in the number of pilgrims without permits, mainly foreign residents of Saudi Arabia.

The pilgrimage peak on Mount Arafat on Thursday when Muslims in the vast arid plains camped, spending the day in prayer and reflection.

On that day joined Iranians their annual "rejection of polytheists" rally, promoted by the late Iranian leader a ritual Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini denouncing the West and Israel.

Participants said that the rally was held in the Iranian camp without any interference from the Saudi authorities, although in the past police have confronted Iranian pilgrims for anti-u.s. and anti-Israeli protests.

Conflicts remain in Syria, despite the UN-backed truce

AP

BEIRUT SYRIAN warplanes and artillery hit the rebel suburbs East of Damascus, while rebel regime positions elsewhere near the capital on Sunday attacked, violence that marred the third day of what was supposed to be a four-day holiday truce, said activists.

A u.n.-backed truce declared for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha has no account, with fighting reported from the beginning. Activists said that more than 150 people were killed on Friday, the beginning of the holiday, and more than 120 people on the second day, similar to previous daily accident toll.

The armistice was seen as a long shot. The international mediator in Syria, not to Lakhdar Brahimi, firm commitments of all fighters.

At least one rebel-linked radical Islamic Group, the Al-Qaeda-inspired Jabhat al-Nusra, rejected the ceasefire outright.

In a video posted this week, the leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahri, called "Muslims everywhere" in support of Syria uprising.

The armistice was named as the two parties were fighting over strategic targets in a largely stalled civil war. They include a military base near a main North-South highway, the main supply route to the largest city, Aleppo, Syria, where regime forces and rebels have fought Mvr.

It seems that each side feared that the other exploit a lull to improve its positions.

With the unraveling of the Armistice, it is unclear what the international community can do. The holiday truce marked the first attempt in six months to the bloodshed in Syria, where activists say that more than 35,000 people have been killed in 19 months.

Brahimi did not say what a truce would follow.

Talks between Assad and the Syrian opposition about a peaceful transition are blocked, because the Syrian leader opponents say they will not negotiate unless he resigns, a step he refused to take.

In fighting on Sunday, Syrian warplanes struck the eastern outskirts of Damascus of Arbeen, Harasta and Zamalka to try to oust rebels, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for human rights, which collects information from activists in Syria. The Observatory is also reported shelling of attacks in these areas.

Local activists and another opposition group, the local coordination committees said warplanes hit Arbeen and Harasta. The LCC said eight people were killed on Sunday in Damascus and its suburbs.

Three amateur videos posted online showed warplanes flying over the eastern suburbs.

A video showed two huge clouds of smoke rising from what was said that Arbeen, and the sound of an airplane can be heard in the background.

It was not clear whether the video the aftermath of the bombing or an air attack showed.

Another video showed destruction within the Sheikh Moussa mosque in Harasta.

Windows and doors were blown out, glass and debris scattered on the floor of the mosque. The Narrator broke as he heard say: "where are the Muslims? Our mosques are bombed and no one cares. " Also showed a video in Harasta, widespread destruction, including rows of buildings with shattered windows, gaping holes and shellpocked facades.

The videos appeared consistent with Associated Press reporting in the area.

In Douma, another Damascus suburb, rebels wrested three positions of regime forces, including an unfinished high-rise building who had used by snipers regime, according to the Observatory and Mohammed Saeed, a local activist.

Fighting was also reported near Maaret al Numan, a city along the Aleppo-Damascus highway that rebels seized earlier this month. Opposition fighters also have a nearby military base besieged and repeatedly attacked Government supply convoys heading there. The Observatory said the Syrian air force rockets fired and barrel bombs ó improvised weapons of explosives stuffed in barrels on villages near the base created declined.

The Syrian Government has accused the rebels of violating the ceasefire from the beginning.

The State-run news agency SANA said opposition fighters carried out attacks on a number of areas, including in the eastern city of Aleppo and Deir el-Zour.

Drone strikes kill 3 Qaida members in North Yemen

AFP

SANAA suspected that us drone strikes killed three Al-Qaeda militants in the Northern Yemeni province of Saada on Sunday in the first such raid against the militant network there, tribal sources told AFP.

"Three Al-Qaeda suspects were killed in three separate drone strikes in Saada," a tribal source said, adding that the raids targeted Wadi al-Abu Jabara, a bastion of Al-Qaeda about 250 kilometers (155 miles) North of the capital city of Yemen.

A second tribal source confirmed the toll, saying that Sunday strike "was the first by a U.S. drone in the Northern Saada province." The United States is the only country that drones in the region operates.

The Governor of Saada, Sheikh Fares Manaa, confirmed on the website of the Ministry of defence that "three members of Al-Qaeda were killed during an air attack" in Wadi al-Abu Jabara.

He said the dead men were two Saudis and a Yemeni.

"The two Saudis gave money to Al Qaeda to financing of terrorist actions" in Yemen, he said, adding that a local leader of the militant network, Omar Saleh al-Tiss was wounded in the raid.

The Governor has not identified that the strikes.

Yemen the mountainous north is a stronghold of the Huthis, Zaidi Shiite rebels who in recent weeks have released several statements to denounce the presence of "unmanned drones" fly over their territory according to tribal source.

Since 2004, Yemen the Huthis have fought six wars with the Central Government before the signing of a truce in February 2010.

Today they are embroiled in deadly sectarian confrontations with Salafists who try to tighten their grip on the traditionally Shiite North.

Sunday drone strike was the fourth this month in Yemen.

On 21 October, four Al-Qaeda members, including a local Chief, were killed by a suspected us drone attack on their vehicle in Eastern Yemen Maarib province.

Four days earlier, missiles fired from a drone near year in the southern province of Abyan governorate killed at least seven suspected Al-Qaeda agents.

On 4 October, a strike drone blasted two cars that Al-Qaeda gunmen in the South, killing five of them.

Vettel secures fourth straight win on Indian Grand Prix

AFP

NEW DELHI SEBASTIAN VETTEL moved within sight of the youngest triple world champion in formula 1 history ever on Sunday when he to his fourth consecutive victory with an excellent, dominant victory in the Indian Grand Prix cruised.

The 25-year-old German, winner of the title in 2010 and 2011, the 26th win of his career came in totally convincing fashion, leading the 60-lap race from start to finish in his Red Bull car.

His lead in the drivers Championship by six points to 13 his triumph with three races in Abu Dhabi next week, remaining than the United States and the season finale in Brazil-next month.

On a day of heat and dust on the sparkling, state-of-the-art Buddh International Circuit overcame Vettel not only the determination of nearest rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, but also a threatening technical issue in the closing phase when parts of the floor of his car scraped along the circuit.

This contact, in parts of the track, raised sparks both literally and figuratively as rivals considered the State of the car of Red Bull and every possible conflict with the strict technical rules.

Alonso, could with superior straight line speed in his Ferrari, not do better than climb of fifth on the grid to second and finished 9.4 seconds behind Vettel.

It was Vettel's win and he revelled in his 26 well-known trick of standing on top of his car to the applause of a rapturous crowd milk.

After an election evening party on the stage of the victory, for many of the 65,000 spectators, he added: "it is incredible. To come here both years get the pole and win the race is fantastic. It is a very special Grand Prix and I really love this circuit. " Vettel had every reason to celebrate, but he was wary of looking ahead and taking something for granted.

"Yeah, maybe I have one hand on the trophy, if you say so, but on the other hand, I think Fernando has one hand on it as well!" he said.

Syria truce collapses, UN Envoy gropes for ideas

AFP

Fight against DAMASCUS and air strikes shook Syria on Sunday as the international community looked to pick up the pieces of a failed attempt to stop the violence for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Fresh clashes saw rebels storm regime positions in the suburbs of Damascus as air strikes pummelled opposition held areas on the eastern edge of the capital, activists and watchdog said.

The four-day truce by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi proposed collapsed amid conflicts, Peel and car bombings only hours after it had been due to take effect with the start of the Eid on Friday morning.

With shattered hope of even a temporary cessation of the 19 months of bloodshed, diplomats in Syria said that Brahimi looks ahead to new efforts to combat the crisis.

He is to go to the UN Security Council in November with new proposals aimed at pushing for political talks between President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition, UN diplomats said, and Russia and China will this week head to to discuss the crisis.

Brahimi will "come back with some ideas for Security Council activity early next month," said a senior UN diplomat.

"The political process will not start until Assad and the opposition have beaten each other so much that there is no choice. They are not there yet, but Brahimi has a number of ideas, "added another Envoy in the Security Council.

On the ground on Sunday, rebels took control of three military posts in the outer suburb of Damascus of Douma amid heavy fighting and killed four soldiers at a checkpoint in the region, said the Syrian Observatory for human rights.

Regime warplanes hit targets in three air strikes in the nearby towns of Irbin, Zamalka and Harasta, where the army has tried for weeks to dislodge rebels, said the group.

At least 23 people were killed on Sunday, according to a provisional count compiled by the Observatory, following 114 deaths on Saturday, including 47 citizens, 36 soldiers and 31 rebels.

The Observatory on the basis of Britain is based on a countrywide network of activists, lawyers and doctors in civilian and military hospitals.

Fierce fighting erupted In Northern commercial hub Aleppo in different districts of the embattled city, such as the army shelled two neighborhoods, including the old souks in the heart of the second largest city in Syria, it said.

The souks are part of Aleppo from Old City district, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Parts of the souks were badly damaged by a fire caused by the fighting in late September.

Building components cost air-missiles in Qatar

ASIF IQBAL

DOHA, QATAR become most expensive construction raw materials market in the Gulf, according to the latest report of the mede on the industry.

Building material in Qatar costs on average 12 percent more than in the UAE and 4.5 percent more than in Saudi Arabia, according to MEED Q3 construction costs & Outlook report.

It has also pointed out that while the average tariff per tonne of rebar in Qatar was 32 percent higher than in the United Arab Emirates, the price of a 50 kg bag of cement was 3.5 percent higher and the cost of concrete 28.6% higher.

Rapid growth in the construction industry on the back of its programme to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup has resulted in building material prices facing strong inflationary pressure, it explained.

Explain that the enormous difference in the cost of rebar, MEED cost Indexes (MCI) General Manager Emil Rademeyer, said that a steady increase in the demand for rebar and the anticipation of an approaching boom in construction spending drove the price considerably higher than in the UAE.

However, construction wage costs, Saudi Arabia leads the field, the report said.

While the average labor costs (taking into account all categories) is 18 percent higher than in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and 51 percent more expensive than in Qatar, daily skilled labour costs 22 percent higher in Saudi Arabia than in the UAE.

Also has daily unskilled workers 14 percent higher, according to the study.

The report, part of the new platform, which allows users to query Indices MEED costs cost information for materials, labor, fuel and equipment in the GCC countries has also indicated that the demand for cement will peak in 2015.

Chronicles of Caribbean change curated and served

HOLLAND COTTER

NYT SYNDICATE

IN size, cultural scope and freshness of material, the three-museum exhibition “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World” is the big art event of the summer season in New York, itself one of the largest Caribbean cities.

To take in the entire thing requires travelling between the Studio Museum in Harlem and El Museo del Barrio, both in Manhattan, and across the East River to the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing. If you’re short on time or patience, any single segment is dense and vivid enough to give you the flavour of the whole. But if you can see all three, absolutely do.

Each tells a hugely complex story from a different thematic angle – collectively, a telling that has been long in the planning and is long overdue. (Caribbean material has thus far not shared in the aura of glamour that has gathered around Latin American art.) While not strictly speaking a masterpiece show, its like won’t be attempted again on this scale and in this depth for some time.

The story is woven as much from questions as from answers, from intangibles as from facts. Is the Caribbean a place? If so, what are its boundaries? Are Florida and Colombia as much part of it as Cuba? Is there a Caribbean culture, and how do you define it, given the mix of African, Asian, European and indigenous elements that blend, in quite different proportions, on some three dozen islands in the region? And even if the Caribbean is defined, loosely and poetically, as a state of mind, a mood, how do you capture that in an exhibition, when so much of that mood has, traditionally, been expressed more in music and performance than in static visual forms? A team of nine scholars and curators – Gerald Alexis, Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, Deborah Cullen, Hitomi Iwasaki, Naima J. Keith, Yolanda Wood Pujols, Lowery Stokes Sims and Edward J Sullivan, led by Elvis Fuentes, curator for special projects at El Museo del Barrio – has pondered these matters, produced a book that is sure to become a staple reference and shaped an exhibition so crowded with unexpected sights as to appear at times practically shapeless, absorptive rather than expository.

It says a lot that although few interpretive labels accompany the more than 500 objects assembled, many of which cry out for elucidation, the show still makes sense.

Even as you puzzle over the details – What’s this? Why is it here? – you get the big picture.

Historically the picture starts at the Studio Museum, late in the 18th century.

By this time indigenous peoples throughout the Caribbean had been suppressed; masses of captive Africans had been imported; a white population, largely mercantile, had settled in. From a European perspective the region had become the subject of myths – pleasurable, fearful and often centred on race.

For decades emigre painters to the Caribbean, many working for colonial estate holders, had depicted life there as a sequence of serene multicultural picnics set in parklike tropical gardens. All imagined idylls were decisively shattered, however, in 1791, with the slave rebellion in Haiti that led to that country’s independence from France.

The uprising coincided with the French Revolution, when the ideal of the brotherhood of man was ascendant in Europe.

In that spirit a leader of the Haitian struggle, Jean-Baptiste Belley, a former slave born in Senegal, was elected to the National Convention in Paris. There’s a remarkable chalk drawing of him in the show, by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy- Trioson, a student of Jacques-Louis David.

Dated 1797, it depicts him wearing a stylish European waistcoat and posed like a classical Apollo. At the same time his fastidiously detailed Negroid features and provocatively sexualised body make him look less a Romantic political hero than a well-dressed New World wild man.

Racial difference, as an alien and threatening reality, formed the fundamental view of the Caribbean – as it did, and still does, of Africa – in the eyes of much of the rest of the world.

A second gallery at the Studio Museum, labelled “Land of the Outlaw,” is filled with European images of the Antilles as a nightmare of ravenous beasts, hostile natives and monstrous phantoms associated with indigenous religions.

But monstrous is in the eye of the image maker. Race, or the perception of it, can function as a social unifier; it can also be approached as an unstable and alterable condition.

The exhibition includes an amazing sculpture, pieced together almost entirely from matchsticks by the contemporary Jamaican artist Dudley Irons, of Marcus Garvey’s fabled Black Star Liner, conceived as a trans-Atlantic slave ship in reverse, bringing former slaves back to Africa from America.

And there’s a knockout collage portrait, finished last year, by Ebony G Patterson, who divides her time between Jamaica and Lexington, Kentucky, of a young black man with a masklike white face.

The image refers to the often-against-thelaw world of Jamaican dance-hall culture and specifically to its fashion for skinbleaching as a cosmetic means of both attracting attention and – playing around with the idea, dating back to slavery and forward to Michael Jackson – determining social status based on skin colour.

Patterson’s glitter-encrusted portrait, part monument, part mug shot, suggests the double-edged potential of radical identity transformation. It pays off with immediate rewards, but you may not like where it takes you, and there may be no going back. Applied to other, broader subjects, this is also the theme of the section of the show installed at El Museo del Barrio.

In the first gallery we find 18th- and 19th-century paintings, by European artists and Caribbean ones trained in European styles, of the colonised islands as an earthly Eden. Yet there is subtle evidence that we’re seeing a labour-intensive profit-making paradise, with sugar and tobacco as early export commodities, and oil coming later.

And it becomes increasingly clear, as idealised views of Caribbean life recede in art, that the producers of these commodities not only derived little benefit from them but also incurred direct harm.

Working conditions were harsh; the drive for productivity was ruining land. In Albert Huie’s 1955 painting “Crop Time” black smoke pouring from a processing-plant chimney darkens the Jamaican sky.

In recent decades offshore oil drilling, which can pollute water and contaminate beaches, has endangered the one major cashgenerating resource Caribbean residents can claim as their own: tourism, with its vision of island life as state of natural purity and innocence.

That vision has been in wide circulation throughout the West for centuries.

We see it in an 1856 painting by Camille Pissarro of St Thomas, where he was born; in exuberant prints Paul Gauguin made after visiting Martinique; in art by sojourning European surrealists; and in work by Caribbean artists who chose not to join the international modernist mainstream but rather to seek what felt like a truer foundation in their native or national cultures.

But there is no pure state, no unblemished source, no unburdened goal, as the show repeatedly emphasises. That’s the message in William Blake’s dolorous poem The Little Black Boy from Songs of Innocence and of Experience, seen in a hand-coloured 1789 etching.

And it’s the reality implied in a 1990s sculpture called “All-Stars” by the Jamaican-born artist Nari Ward, which consists of a baseball bat – contemporary Caribbean emblem of heroic aspiration – wrapped in medical tape, bristling with nails and coated with raw sugar, on which bits of cotton are stuck like fungal growths.

Reality itself – social, economic, spiritual – is in a constant state of flux, and this is the theme of the portion of the show at the Queens Museum of Art, where the dominating images are of change and interchange, embodied in the movement of water. In paintings, photographs and videos we see it sluicing among islands, washing against shorelines, penetrating interiors, carrying trading ships and battleships, fishing boats and ferries.

Its flow is even echoed in the flow of air currents that carry aloft a fabulously absurdist wooden airplane designed and built by Charles Juhasz-Alvarado, an artist of irrepressible imagination based in Puerto Rico.

And, of course, where there are boats and planes, there are people coming and going. For centuries the Caribbean has received, and sent out, streams of them: Africans, Americans, Arabs, Chinese, Europeans, Sephardic Jews, South Asians, all bringing art, attitudes, cuisines, languages and religions with them. They’re all represented in the large second part of the Queens installation, built around the theme of carnival. And here the dizzying array of visual impressions characteristic of the show overall becomes almost overwhelming.

Paintings are ganged together on walls.

Figural sculptures teeter across the floor.

Masks pop up in 19th-century prints, in paintings by Ada Balcacer, Minnie Evans and Rene Portocarrero; in collages by K Khalfani Ra; and in sculptures by Peter Minshall. The great Everald Brown supplies unearthly musical instruments; there are rituals, religious and secular, and festival dances everywhere.

If you’ve come this far – or even if you’ve seen only one of the show’s three segments – you will have encountered histories you never knew and artists you have rarely, if ever, heard of.

Isn’t telling us what we don’t know part of the job of museums? In this case three small institutions with limited staff and resources have cast their nets wide and dug deep, and come up with something big.

It’s a summertime vision of worlds within worlds. And one of those worlds is the crossroads that is our city.

Priyanka Chopra too shy to sing on home turf

IANS PRIYANKA

Chopra may have gone international as a singer with her new single In My City, but the actress says she is too shy to sing in Bollywood.

“I was offered to sing whether it’s by Salim- Suleman or Vishal-Shekhar, but I was too shy for it. I used to try singing on the mic at their insistence but then I used to feel shy and back out saying ‘I can’t do this’. I had even recorded a song with Vishal and Shekhar for Bluffmaster, but the song was not released,” Priyanka told reporters.

“But now as I have already launched my own album, I can think about it. But I’ll be selective as I am really shy,” she added.

The actress was here to promote her single In My City ft. Will.i.am, which has also been chosen as the key feature of Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour.

The actress says she’s honoured to have got a chance to work with international artist Will.i.am on her debut international album.

“Will.i.am is an extremely talented musician and artist. It was an honour for me to work with him. We have heard so much about him, we love their music.

It was a really new experience.

There are other international collaborations in this album too, you’ll get to know about it as I keep unravelling my songs in the album,” she added.

There could be a black James Bond, says Naomie Harris

IANS

ENGLISH actor Idris Elba has been considered for the role of James Bond, says actress Naomie Harris.

Harris, who plays the Bond girl in the forthcoming movie Skyfall, confirmed that Elba met with movie chiefs to discuss becoming the first black 007 when Daniel Craig stepped down.

“I didn’t realise that there was this talk and then I did a film with Idris and he said that he met (Bond producer) Barbara Broccoli and that it does seem like there is a possibility in the future that there could very well be a black James Bond,” thesun.co.uk quoted Harris as saying.

“I would have to vote for Idris because I just finished working with him and he’s a great guy,” she added.

Tom Cruise sues magazines for $50 mn over claims he abandoned Suri

REUTERS

TOM Cruise filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit on Wednesday against magazines that claimed he had abandoned his daughter, Suri, following his divorce from actress Katie Holmes.

The Mission: Impossible star filed the lawsuit in US court in Los Angeles against the publishers of celebrity magazines In Touch and Life & Style. Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields said in a statement.

“Tom is a caring father who dearly loves Suri. She’s a vital part of his life and always will be. To say he has ‘abandoned’ her is a vicious lie. To say it in lurid headlines with a tearful picture of Suri is reprehensible,” Cruise’s lawyer, Bert Fields, said in a statement The lawsuit refers to two cover stories published by the magazines in July and September with the headlines Abandoned by Daddy and Abandoned by her dad. The September story from In Touch claimed that six-year-old Suri, the only child of Cruise and Holmes, had gone 44 days without seeing him.

The magazines, owned by privately held German publishing group Bauer Media, did not immediately return calls for comment.

Holmes filed for divorce in June after six years of marriage, seeking sole custody of Suri, in a move that took Cruise by surprise when he was filming in Iceland. They swiftly agreed to a custody arrangement and settled other matters but details have been kept private.

Fields said that despite repeated stories in celebrity media about Cruise and his personal life during his 30-year Hollywood career, the actor rarely resorted to litigation.

“He’s not a litigious guy. But when these sleazy peddlers try to make money with disgusting lies about his relationship with his child, you bet he’s going to sue,” he added.

Fields said Cruise was seeking damages of $50 million and would “undoubtedly give the money to charity” if he wins the case.

The not-so-evil Evil Queen

IAN SPELLING

NYT SYNDICATE

THERE must be magic in the air.

That, according to Once Upon a Time star Lana Parrilla, could be why her latest ABC series is a hit, while her previous efforts Boomtown (2002-2003), Windfall (2006), Swingtown (2008) and Miami Medical (2010) – more conventionally crafted to be hits, one and all, than the one-of-a-kind Once Upon a Time – quickly vanished from the television landscape.

“I really think Once Upon a Time is a magical show,” says Parrilla, the ravenhaired beauty who plays the Evil Queen and Regina Mills. “It has magic built in on so many different levels, from a very talented cast to extremely talented writers, and the concept is very unique.

“A very unique concept, like we had with ‘Swingtown,’ can really hurt a show sometimes,” she concedes, “because it’s just so out there and so broad that an audience has a difficult time catching on. This show, you have very familiar stories, fairy-tale stories that we’ve all grown up reading and that we loved. We have characters that we’ve all loved and want to emulate. These stories date so far back that we can bring in viewers who are 75 years old, who loved the fairy tales and Disney movies and all of that. And then, because these stories and characters are still so popular, we can also bring in a very young audience. So I just think Once Upon a Time appeals to everyone across the board.

“Then, even beyond that, the writing and storytelling are so good,” Parrilla adds.

“(Producers Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis) had six years of experience on Lost (2004-2010), and they know how to flesh out characters and tie in worlds.

“The show can – and does – go in so many directions,” the actress continues.

“It’s endless, the stories we can tell, and that keeps an audience interested. We’re not stuck in the same hospital all the time, and everything shifts and changes, and the characters are going through so many different layers of emotion.

“That keeps me interested as an actor working on the show,” she says, “and I can only imagine, as a viewer watching it one hour a week, how it could be so captivating.” Now in its second season, Once Upon a Time continues to follow the lives of its many characters, fairy-tale figures living as normal, everyday people in the real-world, modern-day town of Storybrooke, Maine.

They’re in Storybrooke thanks to a curse cast upon them by the Evil Queen. The show veers back and forth between Storybrooke and the Fairy Tale World, revealing the back stories of Snow White- Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), Prince Charming-David Nolan (Josh Dallas), Rumplestiltskin-Mr Gold (Robert Carlyle), the Wicked Queen-Regina Mills and more.

Mills is the mayor of Storybrooke and the single mother of her adopted son, Henry (Jared Gilmore), whose birth mother is Emma. At the end of Season 1, the curse had been broken and Mills had been exposed and rendered powerless. Now, in Season 2, she’s got her powers back, but her relationship with Henry has been damaged and she must contend with her own powerful and evil mother, Cora (Barbara Hershey).

“I love Regina,” Parrilla says, speaking by telephone from the show’s set in Vancouver. “I love that she’s still discovering so much about who she is, that she doesn’t quite have it all figured out yet and that it’s a constant spiritual journey. I love that she’s impulsive and temperamental and makes mistakes, and then has these moments of revelation where she discovers she needs to take a different approach, not only with herself, but maybe with others around her. She’s complicated and not just black-and-white.

“What we’re doing now is really interesting,” she continues, “because she’s now summoning magic in a different way than we’ve seen her use it in the past, which is that she’s dependent on this book. Then, in using this book and in using its magic, she’s becoming the one person she hates the most, which is her mom. So Regina has a choice, and she’s chosen to put all that aside and to really redeem herself and win her son’s love back, more or less magic-free.

“It almost feels like she’s in magic AA” But, really, how long can this reformation possibly last? “Exactly,” the actress says, laughing.

“We all know that she’s not going to stay in this place. There’s just no way. She ended up here for a reason, and I don’t know what this new newfound revelation means for her. Does she need to become a better person or rise above all this? I have a feeling that it’s going to serve her to a degree and then something will turn. Something at some point will turn, and we’ll see flashes again of who Regina was before the redemption.

“I have to still play with that,” Parrilla says, “because I haven’t quite done it yet, but I have some ideas of how I want to play her once she becomes the Evil Queen again.”

Man City, Arsenal taste victory after Euro losses

AFP

LONDON MANCHESTER City and Arsenal bounced back from damaging Champions League defeats to return to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday, although both sides were made to toil.

City put their 3-1 loss at Ajax behind them with a 1-0 success at home to Swansea City, while Arsenal celebrated Jack Wilshere’s return from a 17-month lay-off by edging bottom club Queens Park Rangers by the same scoreline.

Defending champions City moved up to second place and closed to within a point of leaders Chelsea, who host third-place Manchester United on Sunday, while Arsenal climbed to fourth.

It took City 38 minutes to register a shot on target against Swansea in a lacklustre first half at Eastlands.

Swansea looked more likely to take the lead, but their clearest opportunity saw Joe Hart race from his line to save at the feet of the advancing Michu. Michu drew Hart into action again with a downward header in the 59th minute but two minutes later, Roberto Mancini’s side struck.

Gael Clichy was allowed to carry the ball infield before finding Carlos Tevez, and the Argentine sent a shot dipping into the bottom-left corner to end a run of eight games without a goal.

Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm had to be stretchered off after appearing to hurt his groin as he tried to reach Tevez’s shot, while City defender Micah Richards also had to leave the fray with a leg injury. The stoppages meant that over 12 minutes of injury time were played — breaking the Premier League record — but City managed to keep their slender lead intact.

At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal were made to wait until the 84th minute before Mikel Arteta’s goal took them past QPR and enabled them to snap a two-game losing streak. “We played quite well but lacked a little bit of the confidence you miss when you have lost two games,” said Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, whose side had lost to Norwich and Schalke in their previous two outings.

“A draw would have been a big disappointment, but if we had lost today it would have been a crisis.” Wilshere made his first appearance since missing the whole of last season through injury and Bacary Sagna also returned, but despite controlling the game, the hosts squandered opportunities throughout.

The momentum finally tilted in Arsenal’s favour 10 minutes from time when QPR centre-back Stephane Mbia was sent off for petulantly kicking out at Thomas Vermaelen.

Arteta tucked home from close range four minutes later, amid suspicions of offside, and despite a flurry of late chances for the visitors — notably when Jamie Mackie shot straight at Vito Mannone after a mazy run — Arsenal survived.

“It was amazing to be back — words cannot describe it. I was just running around, smiling,” said Wilshere, who played for 67 minutes.

“Last time I played it was with (Cesc) Fabregas and (Samir) Nasri — now it’s with Arteta and Santi Cazorla, who are great players too. It’s like a new team and I’m like a new player.” Fulham climbed to sixth after sharing six goals with Reading in an extraordinary 3-3 draw at the Madejski Stadium.

Al Anabi Teams make it to Las Vegas eliminations

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA AL ANABI RACING silver Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon is fifth and his teammate Khalid al Balooshi is sixth at the mid-point of qualifying for the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The two-time, defending NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel World Championship team, owned by His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani, is in the fifth of six races that make up the countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.

Langdon entered the event 140 points off the first place in the NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel point standings.

Eliminations are set for Sunday after the qualifying on Saturday.

Langdon and his silver Al Anabi team still have slim hopes of winning the NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel World Championship, but an excellent performance this weekend in Las Vegas is must to get the team back into position to win the team’s thirdconsecutive World Championship when the season ends in two weeks at Pomona, California.

Langdon is currently the No 5 qualifier; the team made an excellent pass in Friday’s first session with a 3.815-second effort at 323.19 mph to claim the No. 3 position, but in the evening session, the silver Al Anabi car had a stellar start before smoking the tires, allowing two drivers to move past Langdon in the standings relegating him to No 5
“The Al Anabi car made a great pass in the first round,” Langdon said. “In the second round, that car was on a really fast pass before it smoked the tires. If it had held on, we might have been No 1, but that’s OK.

“We are solidly in the show for Sunday, and we have two more rounds to improve our position and be ready for a great day on Sunday. We really want to win this World Championship for Sheikh Khalid, and we’re doing everything we can to get that done.” On the other side of the Al Anabi pit area, Dubai rookie driver Khalid al Balooshi had some engine problems yet still made a very solid run in the first round with a 3.897-second pass and was seventh. Several drivers moved around him early in the second round, but when Balooshi ran, it was his best pass of the weekend so far, a 3.839-second pass at 308.14 mph to move up to the No. 6 position.

“Our team made two good runs in qualifying, and we are in a good position,” Balooshi said. “It is good to follow our first race win with a good qualifying effort. We have two more qualifying runs improve our position, but we want to be ready to race on Sunday and try to get our second win of the season.”

Vettel on pole in another Red Bull lock-out

AFP

NEW DELHI DEFENDING world champion Sebastian Vettel completed a third successive Red Bull front row lock-out on Saturday when he took pole position for S u n d a y ’ s Indian Grand Prix ahead of his teammate Mark Webber.

The 25-year-old German, who is seeking to become the youngest triple champion in F1 history, made an error on his first flying lap in the topten shoot-out but responded with a second effort in one minute 25.283 seconds to grab pole.

It was his fifth pole of the season and the 35th of his remarkable career, but achieved without quite the luxurious advantage that he had appeared to enjoy through his domination of all three free practice sessions beforehand.

He said: “It was a tight session, especially having made a mistake on my first run on Turn Four. All in all it has been a great weekend so far.

The boys have been pushing very hard. “We have to keep pushing - there are a lot of races to go. The best chance to do well is to focus on every single step. We’re look forward to the race. I’m happy to be on pole but there’s a hard race coming up tomorrow.” His Australian partner Webber did his utmost to match him, but could only deliver 1:25.327 and took second as Red Bull proved they have the overall pace to start as clear favourites.

Sadd cruises to win against Jaish

IKOLI VICTOR

DOHA KHALFAN IBRAHIM netted a brilliant brace as Al Sadd consolidated its position at the top of the Qatar Stars League with an impressive 3-1 home victory over El Jaish on Saturday.

Coached by Hussein Amute, Al Sadd won its fifth straight match to take its points haul to 15. With the defeat, Jaish stays in seventh place with two wins, three losses from five matches.

It was a big day today in the QSL with all the 12 teams in action.

Bottom-placed Al Sailiya pulled off the biggest upset, beating Al Rayyan 4-1. Defending champion Lekhwiya continued its resurgence under Belgian coach Eric Gerets with a 2-1 victory over Al Khor at its home turf. Issiar Dia and Nam Tae Hee were the scorers for Lekhwiya, while Ibrahim Amwal’s stunning goal was not enough to save the day for Khor.

Al Arabi drew goalless with Al Khairatiyat and Al Wakrah moved to the second place in the table with 0-0 draw with Qatar Sports Club.

Umm Salal forced Gharafa to 1- 1 draw at the Al Gharafa Stadium, leaving the former QSL champion in mid-table with a paltry six points.

With Raul - the former Real Madrid star - marshaling his troops in the midfield and showing good form, Al Sadd has hardly put a foot wrong in the on-going season.

Al Sadd’s Khalfan Ibrahim, who last week fired a hat-trick against Al Sailiya to guide his team to a convincing 4-1 win, scored two quick fire goals within five minutes to cancel Jaish’s lead in the opening half.

Marconi Amaral scored the opening goal for Jaish, heading the ball powerfully off a Karim Ziani corner kick to beat Mohamed Saqr in the 16th minute.

In the 40th minute, Khalfan Ibrahim equalised with a powerful shot after a perfect cross from Nadir Belhadj, the inviting cross evaded the Jaish defenders easily and reached Khalfan easily, who fired the ball past goalkeeper Ivanildo.

In the first minute of extra time, Khalfan scored the second goal of the match from a penalty kick after Raul, who was tripped in the penalty area by Khaled Abdel Raouf.

The former Asian player of the year Khalfan converted the resultant kick to take his goal haul to five from five matches.

Before Khalfan’s brace, Khaled Abdel should have leveled the score in the 35th minute but his effort from two yards hit the bar.

Jaish striker Abdulkadir Ilyas dazzled his way inside the Sadd box and rifled a shot that goalkeeper Mohamed saved but Khaled failed to put over the rebound.

In the second half, Jaish made several incursions into the Al Sadd box but its defender stood their ground to avert any danger.

Mohammed el Sayed replaced Wagner Ribeiro but it failed to give the much-needed lift to the Army side.

With a few minutes left in the match, Karim Ziani had a glorious chance to score from outside the box but his shot was inches away, to the relief of the Sadd team and fans.

Mammadou Niang killed off any fighting spirit left in the Army side when he scored an individual goal in the 87th minute. The Senegalese striker received a long ball from goalkeeper Saqr inside the Jaish area and outwitted Marconi and Khaled, before firing a shot from his left foot that deflected off Marconi to beat Ivanildo.

Spain’s jobless rate crosses 25%

AP

MADRID THOUGH hardly a surprise, Friday’s report that Spain’s unemployment rate had surpassed 25 percent was bad news for a government that recently trumpeted a streamlining of its labour market rules.

The ranks of the unemployed swelled to 5.78 million people at the end of the third quarter, compared with 5.69 million a quarter earlier and 2.6 million four years ago, when Spain’s property bubble burst, the report said.

The jobs data signaled a deepening recession and raised the likelihood that Spain would again miss budget targets agreed to with other eurozone countries.

There was, however, one perversely positive element to the report: The labour picture is so bleak that it could help Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy make the case that Germany and other lenders cannot risk imposing further austerity measures on Spain’s economy in return for providing more European rescue funding.

The dire jobs report “gives Rajoy more leverage in his European negotiations and is good ammunition to ask for more time to adapt,” said Federico Steinberg, an economist at the Elcano Royal Institute, a Madrid research organisation.

Rajoy, however, is also fighting the crisis at home.

Unions have called a general strike for November 14, and elections in Catalonia on November 25 could accelerate that region’s drive toward independence.

Luis Garicano, a professor at the London School of Economics, said the government’s cost of paying unemployment benefits, now almost 4 percent of gross domestic product, was unsustainable. After 20 consecutive quarters of job destruction, he said, “people see very little light at the end of the tunnel, and Spaniards are losing hope.” The separatist push in Catalonia “is partly a reaction to this lack of hope,” Garicano said. “It worries me for what it says about what can happen in the next two years, in which we will have a sharp fiscal contraction, low external demand, continuing deleveraging by households, and restricted credit to companies.” On Friday, the International Monetary Fund and a team of European officials wrapped up a visit to Spain to assess its efforts to shore up its banking sector.

The so-called troika of the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank issued positive statements but urged the Rajoy government to maintain momentum on reform.

The assessment is part of the process that would enable Spain to receive up to €100 billion, or $130 billion, of banking aid that eurozone finance ministers pledged in June to provide.

Lengthy wrangling over how to disburse the money underscores the extent to which Spain is losing the sovereignty argument Rajoy has long employed.

Instead, Rajoy was forced at a recent summit meeting of EU leaders in Brussels to accept that conditions for Spain to receive European funding essentially need the approval of Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is increasingly wary of supporting any additional eurozone bailout programme ahead of next year’s elections.

Spain’s banking crisis came to the fore in early May, when Madrid nationalized one of the country’s largest lenders, Bankia, and then requested the banking bailout a month later.

On Friday, Bankia reported a loss of €2.6 billion euros for the third quarter.

IMF unhappy with new tax steps in Hungary

REUTERS

BUDAPEST THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has not fixed a date for its next round of aid talks with Hungary, the IMF’s representative in Hungary said on Saturday, saying that Budapest’s latest tax measures ran counter to its recommendations.

Hungary has scrambled to allay concerns that near year-long talks with the IMF were close to breaking down after a website said the IMF would not return to Budapest unless the government changed tack.

Central Europe’s most indebted nation, Hungary needs a financing backstop from the IMF in order to stabilise its shrinking economy.

“There are no dates yet for the negotiation mission to return to Budapest,” the IMF’s representative in Hungary, Iryna Ivaschenko, told Reuters in an emailed response to questions.

Her remarks suggested that a rift between the IMF and the government on how best to put the country’s finances on a sustainable footing is as wide as at any point during Budapest’s 11- month-old bid for a safety net.

The IMF and the European Union, which led a€20 billion rescue of Hungary in 2008, held a first leg of loan talks in Budapest in July.

But Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government announced a swathe of tax rises last week as it struggled to keep the deficit at the EU’s 3 percent limit, a move that ran counter to EU and IMF advice for a more balanced fiscal adjustment. The European Commission is due to unveil its assessment of Hungary’s latest measures on November 7, which could also form the basis for a decision on whether to strip the country of millions of euros in EU funds for further budgetary slippage.

Often at loggerheads with the EU over his unorthodox measures to tackle a chronic budget deficit, Orban reneged on a pledge to halve Europe’s highest bank tax next year and went on to double a planned tax on financial transactions. “As we stated before, we believe that the focus of fiscal adjustment should be on achieving a more balanced consolidation, shifting away from ad hoc tax measures,” the IMF’s Ivaschenko said.

“This will help reduce the budget deficit in a sustainable manner and, when combined with structural reforms, generate higher and more inclusive growth.

Several of the measures announced last week are not aligned with these objectives.”