Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Soha bonds with sister-in-law Kareena

IANS ACTRESS Soha Ali Khan had fun spending time with sister-in-law Kareena Kapoor during the last two weeks.

Soha’s brother Saif Ali Khan married Kareena Kapoor in an intimate ceremony on October 16 in the presence of close family and friends.

“She is very sweet. I have actually spent a lot of time with her in the last two weeks. It’s great fun,” Soha said on Friday during the launch of HUE fashion’s new collection at Inox.

“Even in the marriage we had great fun. It was small affair as you all know, only close acquaintances,” the 34-year-old added.

Asked when does she plan to tie the knot, Soha, who is dating actor Kunal Kemmu, dodged the question, saying it’s her elder sister Saba Ali Khan’s turn now.

Meanwhile, Soha is looking forward to the release of Midnight’s Children and is busy shooting for Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster 2, Char Footiya Chokre and Airport.

Kamal Haasan remembers ‘ever enthusiastic’ Yash Chopra

SUBHASH K JHA

IANS

YASH Chopra’s sudden demise has left veteran actor Kamal Haasan, who met the filmmaker weeks before he passed away, shocked.

“And then I hear he’s gone!” said the actor, shocked beyond words.

“This is no way to go. We met frequently. I met him for the last time three weeks ago.

He was as enthusiastic as ever, though self admittedly he was feeling weak. I asked him why. His eyes twinkled like a child and he said, ‘When you reach 32 you can’t have the same energy level as when you are 19’. We laughed heartily at that one,” Haasan added.

Kamal Haasan was in awe of Yash Chopra’s ever enthusiastic nature and simplicity.

“Yashji’s 80 years sat really comfortably on his shoulders. He never felt the weight of being ‘the’ Yash Chopra. He was in love with cinema, not with its trappings. In that sense we were similar. When we met we were both like kids in a toy store staring at all the goodies around us. There was so much to imbibe, so much to do,” he said.

“The sense of wonderment never left Yashji. No matter how much old he got, he still had the same enthusiasm level every time we met,” he added.

Haasan revealed that Yash Chopra had plans to visit Chennai to meet music maestro AR Rahman to discuss about a song for his new film Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

“When we met last he told me about how he would meet in Chennai next for a song that AR Rahman was supposed to give him for his new film. That was never meant to be,” said the 57- year-old.

Many times Yash Chopra and Kamal Haasan came close to cracking an idea they could work on, but couldn’t implement it.

“Don’t ask me why we never worked together until now. We were too busy discussing ideas to actually get down to doing anything concrete. I’ve no regrets about not working with him,” he said.

“Just spending time discussing ideas with him was an experience worth treasuring. Even at 80 when I met him for the last time he was wonderstruck by the marvel of the motion-picture technique, of what magic it could do.

“Every time he liked something I said he would lean over like a school boy with that look which said, ‘Really? We can actually do that?’ I’ll miss that unconditional sense of pleasure in the existence of cinema during my visits to Mumbai.” Yash Chopra passed away on October 21 due to multiple organ failure. He was suffering from dengue.

Britney’s ex-confidante gets death threats, to sue her mother

BRANDON LOWREY REUTERS THE former confidante of pop star Britney Spears broke down on the witness stand on Wednesday, saying his villainous portrayal in a book written by the singer’s mother triggered a deluge of death threats that drove him into a suicidal depression.

“If I went anywhere public, people were assaulting me,” Sam Lutfi told jurors at a civil trial in Los Angeles. “People I knew were shunning me. There were numerous postings online on websites ..
that were threats to kill me.

People wishing that I was dead,” Lutfi said, choking up and beginning to cry. “People wishing harm to my family.” Lutfi, who emerged as Spears’ closest friend during her 2007 personal and career meltdown, was testifying for the second day in his lawsuit against the Toxic superstar and her parents.

He is suing Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, alleging she libelled him in her 2008 book, Through the Storm, and made him a scapegoat for the singer’s problems.

He is also suing Britney Spears for a chunk of her earnings, claiming she hired him as her manager soon after meeting him in 2007.

And he is suing her father, Jamie Spears, for assault.

Lutfi said on Wednesday that Spears’ father chased him, punched him and threatened to kill him in her Los Angeles home in early 2008.

“(Jamie Spears) was spitting and shouting, yelling at me, telling me that I had hurt his daughter and I had better leave or he was going to beat the hell out of me,” Lutfi testified.

The trial, which began last week, has offered a glimpse into Spears’ private life during her highly publicised crisis five years ago, including a divorce, a bitter child custody battle, a head-shaving incident and claims of amphetamine abuse.

Lutfi’s tearful testimony provided a stark contrast to his crossexamination, during which Spears family attorneys read details from four restraining orders filed against him since 2004 in which the family, and other associates of Lutfi, accused him of threatening and terrorising them and their relatives.

Joel Boxer, attorney for Britney Spears’ estate, asked Lutfi if, during the time he claimed he was Britney’s manager, he set up or presented any entertainment industry deals for the singer. Lutfi said no.

Lutfi has said he met Britney Spears at a nightclub in 2007 and that she quickly hired him as her manager and promised him 15 percent of the $800,000-plus she earned each month.

Attorneys representing Spears say Lutfi was preying on the singer during a vulnerable period in her life.

Jurors on Wednesday watched video footage showing a distraught and angry Spears being hounded by paparazzi in 2007. In one clip, the Louisiana native shouted at photographers in a fake British accent. In another, she was seen sitting on the sidewalk, cradling her dog and crying as paparazzi snapped photographs and taunted her.

Spears, now 30, whose personal and business affairs are still overseen by a conservator, has since made a comeback, releasing several hit albums and landing a judging spot on TV talent show The X-Factor.

She is not attending the trial and is not expected to testify.

Sometimes a vampire just wants to party

NANCY MILLS

NYT SYNDICATE

WHEN Amy Heckerling got the idea to write a vampire comedy, she was in the midst of caring for her sick parents.

“If I’m looking for a feel-good movie, young love is more fun than cancer,” the filmmaker says. “Movies are an escape.

When I’m depressed, I want to laugh.” Best known as the director of such comedies as Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Look Who’s Talking (1989) and Clueless (1995) – the latter two of which she also wrote – Heckerling approached the subject of vampires very practically and also very personally.

“I started out trying to think, ‘What kind of lifestyle would I like to have?,”’ she recalls, speaking by telephone while en route to her Manhattan home from the Woodstock Film Festival, where she presented Vamps. “I liked being in college. I was up all night hanging out with my friends. I had a job I went to for a while.

“I thought, ‘You can do that if you’re a vampire,”’ she continues. “The only thing you’re missing is food, and that doesn’t bother me, other than coffee.” Heckerling began by establishing some basic vampire parameters.

“How can you get enough credits to graduate from college if you can only go to night classes?” she wondered. “How would eating work? I didn’t like the idea of having to harm people.” She found a precedent for vampires who don’t feed on human blood.

“In one of Anne Rice’s books, a vampire was able to eat animals,” she says.

“Exterminators kill rats. It all fits together.

That’s how I would live my life.” Vamps, scheduled to open on November 2 and available on DVD on November 13, is about two eternally young party girls (Krysten Ritter and Alicia Silverstone) working the New York dating scene. When one of them falls for a guy named Van Helsing (Dan Stevens), traditional vampire myths such as garlic, mirrors, blood and coffins get the Heckerling twist. And, yes, the girls drink rats’ blood – actually cranberry juice – to keep from expiring.

Sigourney Weaver plays an ancient vampire and Wallace Shawn, like Silverstone a veteran of Heckerling’s Clueless, is the senior Van Helsing, a noted vampire hunter.

Heckerling, who admits to being a fan of monster movies, was intimately acquainted with the demographic of her main characters courtesy of her daughter Mollie, whose father is Heckerling’s ex-husband, writerdirector Neal Israel. Mollie Israel is a singer and percussionist with The Lost Patrol, and Heckerling used the group’s music on the Vamps soundtrack.

“My daughter is in her 20s,” she says. “I know what’s going on with Mollie and her friends. They’ve grown up in a world that seems to have some advantages, and then find themselves in a job market with very few jobs. I feel for them.” More important, this demographic also deals with Heckerling’s favourite topics.

“Figuring out your place in the world and what kind of relationships you’re going to be in, falling in love and the problems that arise from that,” she says. “We’ll be mining these forever.” It’s been more than 30 years since Heckerling first attracted Hollywood’s notice with this very subject matter. She was still working on her master’s degree at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles when she made a short film called Getting It Over With (1978), about a teenager.

She continued this theme with “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” which launched the careers of Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Penn and Forest Whitaker.

Clueless, which gave big boosts to the careers of Silverstone and Paul Rudd, dealt more with romance than with sex.

The success of her early films launched Heckerling on a productive career, but she admits that not all of her nine features are equally close to her heart.

“I don’t want to bad-mouth any of them,” she says, “but some I feel are my babies. Look Who’s Talking and Clueless, those are very close to me. Some I’d like to leave at a fire station.” Possibly she’s referring to Johnny Dangerously (1984) and (National Lampoon’s) European Vacation (1985).

“I consider myself one of the parents of Fast Times,” Heckerling continues.

“Cameron Crowe wrote it, (producer) Art Linson made it happen and Sean Penn made us laugh. I think he is a genius.” Vamps is, however, only Heckerling’s third film as writer and director since Clueless came out 17 years ago. Loser (2000) is about a nerdy college student (Jason Biggs) who falls in love with a classmate (Mena Suvari) enamoured of her professor (Greg Kinnear), while I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007) is a romantic comedy about an older woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) falling for a younger man (Rudd). The former bombed at the box office and the latter didn’t even get a theatrical release, going straight to DVD.

Heckerling wasn’t idle during this period, of course. She wrote, directed and produced the television version of Clueless (1996- 1999), and also produced the feature A Night at the Roxbury (1998) and directed an episode of The Office (2005).

“I don’t even remember what I was up to,” she says. “I’m always pitching things. Some are almost happening, some do happen. I work on a lot of things. I’m in a world where time doesn’t tend to exist.

“When I have nothing to do with myself, I’ll direct an episode of Gossip Girl (2012),” she adds. “I’m going to do the Sex and the City prequel, The Carrie Diaries. That gets me off the streets a little bit.” Heckerling is also working on a Broadway musical version of Clueless, largely by accident.

“Other people bought the rights, and I had no control over it,” she explains. “Now the rights have reverted to me, and I thought, ‘Why not take a stab at it?”’ However, her heart is in movies. Growing up in the Bronx, she was the daughter of an accountant and a bookkeeper, both of whom worked long hours. As a result, their daughter spent untold hours at her grandparents’ home, much of the time watching movies on television.

“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t watching movies,” she says. “My grandfather was always deeply in love with show biz. He worked in a factory, but he read Variety.” While a student at the High School of Art and Design in New York, Heckerling decided to become a film director – even though she didn’t know exactly what that meant.

“I was 14,” she recalls, “and a boy in my class said that he wanted to be a director.

None of the other areas were really working for me, and I realised that movies were what I really loved.” Heckerling went on to study film and television at New York University, undeterred by the fact that at the time only a handful of women were directing in Hollywood – a situation which still hasn’t been redressed to her satisfaction.

“Statistically there are a lot more women than when I started,” Heckerling admits, “but the percentage of females to males is very low compared to other industries. Of course it bothers me. It doesn’t make sense.

In the silent-film era there were women directors. What’s the hold-up?” Everything is a little harder, she says, when you’re a woman working in a male-dominated industry.

“When I did Look Who’s Talking, I was told by a lot of studio people when I was pitching ideas, ‘You can’t have a female protagonist,”’ Heckerling recalls. “I had a woman (Kirstie Alley) who was pregnant and looking for a father.

I said, ‘She’s not the protagonist.

It’s the baby (voiced by Bruce Willis).’ They were OK with it.

“Like any place you want to get into that has closed doors, you have to be a little sneaky.” Getting Vamps made was even harder than usual, despite the fact that vampires are hotter in Hollywood than ever before. The economic downturn, which has affected not only the United States but also the foreign markets where many American movies make most of their profits, has hit Hollywood hard.

“You have no idea,” Heckerling says darkly.

“The worldwide recession has made every industry very depressed. Movies that would normally be commercially middle movies have gone indie, but they’re not heavy.

Vamps is humourous and fun. It’s not the indie mentality.” No matter how hard things get, however, Heckerling will persevere.

In the 30 years since Fast Times at Ridgemont High heralded her arrival in Hollywood, she has been nothing if not a fighter – even if sometimes she wishes she weren’t quite so hardnosed.

“I was a jaded, cynical kid,” the filmmaker says. “I’m trying to lighten up. The other day I was watching Harvey (1950) with my daughter. At one point Jimmy Stewart says, ‘Years ago my mother used to say to me, “In this world, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.’ “That made me cry,” Heckerling says. “Why can’t I be that? I can’t, but I wish I could.”

Police probes alleged racism by referee

AFP

LONDON LONDON’S Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday they were investigating alleged racist comments made by the referee during last weekend’s Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Scotland Yard said they were looking into the allegations against Mark Clattenburg, who refereed Sunday’s clash at Stamford Bridge in west London.

Visitors United won 3-2, with Chelsea having two players sent off.

“An investigation has been launched into alleged comments made during a football match between Chelsea FC and Manchester United FC at Stamford Bridge,” a police statement read.

Officers from the local borough were in touch with Chelsea and the Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England, it said, adding that neither party had made a complaint.

Scotland Yard said they were working with the Blues and the FA “in order to consider any allegation that is made in relation to the reported events”.

Clattenburg is alleged to have used “inappropriate language”, reportedly of a racist nature, towards Chelsea’s Nigeria and Spain midfielders John Mikel Obi and Juan Mata at the west London club’s Stamford Bridge ground on Sunday.

The 37-year-old official, who has vowed to co-operate fully with any probe and reportedly denies the allegations, has been stood down from matches for a week, pending an FA investigation.

The racism claims are the latest to hit the English Premier League, notably after Chelsea captain John Terry, the former England skipper, was cleared earlier this year in a criminal trial of racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

Terry was later found guilty at an FA disciplinary hearing, which has a lower burden of proof, and banned for four matches.

Racism is still a source of friction among some black players, who say that the game remains affected by it, despite efforts to stamp it out.

Peter Herbert, head of the Society of Black Lawyers, said on Monday the organisation had written to the police to request an investigation into Clattenburg’s alleged comments.

“Our information is that racist remarks were directed at John Mikel Obi and at Juan Mata. If so, that is wholly unacceptable in any circumstances,” the letter stated.

I’m ready for Test cricket, says Manoj Tiwary

PTI MUMBAI

AFTER stealing the show with a confident knock of 93 for India ‘A’ against the touring England team, Manoj Tiwary on Tuesday said that he was prepared for the grind of Test cricket.

India ‘A’ was in some trouble and struggling at six down for 190. But Tiwary and Irfan Pathan (46) dug deep and reeled in 110 runs to boost the score to a healthy 369 for nine at the close of the first day.

Abhinav Mukund (73), Yuvraj Singh (59) and Vinay Kumar (25 not out) were other main scorers. Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann shared the six wickets to fall.

There is a stiff competition for No. 6 spot in the Indian team and with Tiwary compiling a determined half-century, the selectors might have a sweet head-ache before making the final selection.

“I am ready for Test cricket.

There is a competition for the No. 6 spot, but it’s up to the selectors. I will try my best.

Let’s see what happens,” said the Bengal captain at the post-play media conference.

The 27-year-old, who has played only eight ODIs in four years since his debut, said he was very happy with the way he had played but was unhappy at missing out on a wellmerited hundred.

“I am quite happy with my performance, though, I am disappointed for missing out on my hundred. I wanted to stay long on the wicket. I was definitely waiting for an opportunity,” said Tiwary, who batted for 202 minutes and faced 150 balls.

Tiwary, who was dismissed by Bresnan with the second new ball, said that the wicket was a bit slow but England had a quality attack at its disposal.

“They are a quality attack but did not try to go all out.

The wicket was a bit slow,” Tiwary, who struck 12 boundaries during his stay at the wicket, said.

He also sounded warning to the rival batsmen saying that the Indian spinners would be handful for them in the four- Test rubber starting on November 15 at Ahmedabad.

“They have got a big challenge ahead. It’s not going to be easy for them against our quality spinners. They are going to face a lot of problems,” Tiwary said.

The Bengal skipper said he had no issues encountering off-spinner Swann and leftarm spinner Samit Patel.

Team coach Lalchand Rajput also praised Yuvraj for his brilliant knock of 59, in which he hardly looked troubled before letting his impetuosity get the better of him.

“Manoj played a very good knock, but Yuvraj outclassed everyone. Yuvraj was at his best,” Rajput said.

He was also pleased with the partnership between Tiwary and Irfan Pathan that raised 110 runs for the seventh wicket to rescue the team from a precarious situation.

“It was a very crucial partnership which has helped us past our goal of 300-run mark,” he remarked.

Attiyah, Mikkelsen vie for top spots in Cyprus

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK DOHA

AN impressive roster of international, regional and local drivers will push hard for top honours at this weekend’s Cyprus Rally.

Taking place on November 2 to 4, the rally, organised by the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA), will serve as the season finale for the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and the penultimate round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).

The 2011 saw this mixed surface event host a thrilling five-way fight for the IRC drivers’ crown, which was eventually won by Skoda UK’s Andreas Mikkelsen.

He is back this year, currently leading the IRC in his Fabia S2000 with an unassailable 136 points, which means that he will essentially enjoy a 3-day victory lap in Cyprus this weekend.

Skoda might already have secured the IRC Manufacturers title in San Remo (its third in as many years), but with Mikkelsen already vowing to fight hard for the win, and the Cyprus event also counting towards this year’s MERC, the IRC Production Cup, and the IRC 2WD Cup, fans can expect fast rally action over the weekend.

The 2010 Cyprus Rally winner Nasser bin Saleh al Attiyah of Qatar will be in Cyprus with his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC. Attiyah, currently joint 3rd on the MERC leaderboard, has consistently proved himself the man to beat over Cyprus stages. Currently 9 points behind championship leader Abdulaziz al Kuwari of Qatar (also in Cyprus this weekend with a MINI JCW), Attiyah will be hoping that Cyprus brings him another win.

Lebanon’s Roger Feghali, who sits level with Attiyah on 43 points in his Fiesta S2000, will be keen to take a sizeable share of the Cyprus points ahead of the 2012 MERC calendar closer in Dubai in November.

In terms of the other IRC championships being competed in Cyprus at the weekend, Robert Consani enters the event with a possibility of securing both the IRC Production Cup and the IRC 2WD Cup. Consani currently holds a 22-point advantage over his rival Andreas Aignier in the IRC Production Cup, but being unable to compete the event in his Renault Megane RS (which can only be used on all-asphalt rallies), Consani will drive a Clio R3 and thus will only score points in the 2WD category, where he holds an 11-point advantage over Harry Hunt.

A number of acclaimed local drivers will also take to the start ramp, including Paraskevas Paraskeva, Costas Laos, Savvas Savva, Charalambos Timotheou, among others. The 2012 Cyprus Rally will see crews cover a total of 694.76km, of which 237.14km will be special stages. As many as 73.45km of the stages will be tarmac and 163.69km will Nasser al Attiyah: On the road again. be run on gravel.

Messi best player, Barca top team

AP LONDON

LIONEL MESSI is the best footballer in the world and his team Barcelona the top-rated club, according to the inaugural AP Global Soccer 10 football rankings released on Tuesday by The Associated Press.

A global panel of football writers chose Messi as the clear leader in a top 10 list of players for his performance in the week ending October 29.

The Argentina forward has been scoring almost at will for Barcelona in the Spanish league and Champions League, and he added two more in Saturday’s 5- 0 victory at Rayo Vallecano.

“Shame on Messi,” said Filip Bondy, a panelist who writes for the New York Daily News. “He scored only twice. At this rate, he’ll only be the best player in the world ... forever.” Messi received 140 points out of a possible 180, 29 points clear of Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo with 111.

Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao was third with 79 points.

The top three all play in Spain.

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie was fourth, followed by Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The panel of 18 international football writers chose Barcelona as the team of the week, 21 points ahead of Spanish rival Atletico Madrid. Manchester United was in third place after beating Chelsea 3-2 on Sunday in the Premier League.

Each panelist selects 10 teams and players, with 10 points for first place and one for 10th. The weekly survey includes journalists from Europe, South America, North America and Asia.

All 10 teams are from Europe and the top 10 players all play for European clubs. Three Bundesliga teams were in the top 10 Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund but league leader Bayern Munich failed to make it after losing its first league game of the season against Leverkusen.

“It was an unforgettable week for Borussia Dortmund after a thrilling victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League with Mario Gotze showing his talent at the highest level and capable of scoring in a Bundesliga 2-0 away win at Freiburg,” said Aurelio Capaldi, who works for Rai in Italy.

Gotze crept into 10th place in the poll, in which all are strikers or attacking midfielders.

Although the top 10 players were all based in Europe, James Porteous of the Hong Kongbased South China Morning Post gave an honorable mention to China striker Gao Lin. The Guangzhou Evergrande forward scored a last-minute strike to help his team defend its Chinese league title and give veteran coach Marcello Lippi his first club championship outside Italy.

AP GLOBAL SOCCER 10 1. Lionel Messi, 140 points.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, 111.

3. Radamel Falcao, 79.

4. Robin van Persie, 73.

5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 61.

6. Gonzalo Higuain, 50.

7. Juan Mata, 41.

8. Javi Hernandez, 28.

9. Cesc Fabregas, 27.

10. Mario Gotze, 26.

Teams 1. Barcelona, 130 points.

2. Atletico Madrid, 109.

3. Manchester United, 105.

4. Borussia Dortmund, 81.

5. Real Madrid, 64.

6. Schalke, 59.

7. Juventus, 53.

8. Bayer Leverkusen, 49.

9. Shakhtar Donetsk, 37.

10. Ajax, 35.

AP GLOBAL SOCCER 10 PANELISTS Cedric Rouquette, Europsport, France James Porteous, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong Gregor Derichs, dapd, Germany Francois Colin, De Standaard, Belgium Willem Vissers, Volkskraant, Netherlands Christian Schatze, Der FussballBlogger.de, Germany Jose Antonio Cortes, Record, Mexico Will Tidey, Bleacher Report, United States Federico Giammaria, LaVoz, Argentina Jerome Touboul, L’Equipe, France Mike McGrath, Wardles News Agency/The Sun, England Filip Bondy, New York Daily News, United States Julian Bennetts, Hayters News Agency, England Aurelio Capaldi, Rai, Italy Orfeo Suarez, El Mundo, Spain Paulo Vinicius Coelho, Estado de S.Paulo. Brazil Tom Timmermann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch John Duerden, kickoffasia.com, South Korea

$920 million bond default stares at UAE’s Dana Gas

REUTERS

DUBAI

DANA Gas is set to become the first United Arab Emirates (UAE) company to fail to pay an Islamic bond on maturity, three sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, sending its stock and bond prices sharply lower.

The UAE’s largest listed natural gas firm, hit by payment delays from Egypt and Iraq’s Kurdistan region, will not repay a $920 million convertible Islamic bond, or sukuk, when it matures on Wednesday, the sources said.

However, Sharjah-based Dana has won more time to hammer out a deal with bondholders, they added.

Dana Gas declined to comment. Although indebted firms in the Gulf Arab state have extended maturities on billions of dollars in bank loans since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008-09, no sukuk have been restructured or unpaid on maturity.

Saudi and Kuwaiti companies have defaulted on Islamic bonds in the past, leading to complex debt negotiations which have dragged on for years.

Kuwait’s Investment Dar, which co-owns luxury carmaker Aston Martin, defaulted on a $100 million Islamic debt issue in 2009.

Dana has a $1 billion sukuk maturing on October 31. It repurchased about $80 million of the sukuk in 2008, leaving $920 million outstanding.

The five-year sukuk, which was issued with a 7.5 percent coupon, has gained international interest as a majority of the debt is said to be owned by large investment firms including BlackRock Inc and Ashmore Group.

A source said that London-based Spinnaker Capital was among large holders. An executive at Spinnaker in London said it does not own Dana Gas bonds currently and has not held them before. BlackRock owns about 30 percent of the outstanding sukuk, according to two separate market sources.

There is “absolutely no chance” of a white knight swooping in to repay the bond by the due date, a source close to the talks said.

In 2009, the Abu Dhabi government stepped in at the eleventh hour to help Dubai repay developer Nakheel’s $4.1 billion Islamic bond.

The sources said Dana, in which Crescent Petroleum owns a 20-percent stake, reached a standstill agreement with creditors in early October giving it six months to repay the bond.

Some creditors are preparing for a potential “post-default scenario”, one source familiar with the discussions said, in which no deal would be reached at all.

Shares in Dana fell 8.5 percent to 0.43 dirhams on the Abu Dhabi bourse after the Reuters report before closing down 4.26 percent.

The shares have been battered by concerns over how Dana will find funds to repay the bond and limited communication from the company on the matter. The sukuk has a conversion price of 1.926 dirhams.

The sukuk, which is lightly traded, was quoted at a bid price of 68 cents on the dollar on Tuesday, down from 78 cents on the dollar on Monday, according to prices quoted by Nomura.

Dana is to issue a statement on Wednesday or early Thursday detailing its plans to restructure the bond, said two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the matter is not public.

Ford earns $2.2bn in US, loses $468mn in Europe in Q3

REUTERS

DETROIT

FORD Motor Co on Tuesday posted a third-quarter profit that trounced Wall Street forecasts due to higher vehicle prices and record-high profit margins of 12 percent in North America.

The No 2 US automaker posted an operating profit of $2.2 billion, or 40 cents per share, beating the average estimate of 30 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Worldwide, Ford earned $800 million more in pricing than it did last year. Half of the pricing increase came from North America, where Ford earned more than $2 billion and posted margins over 10 percent for the third quarter in a row.

“To me, the story isn’t just the results in the quarter, but the consistency of the results,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told reporters.

Ford’s strength in North America has offset a sharp downturn in Europe, where Ford lost $468 million in the quarter, and its lagging position in growth markets in Asia, especially China.

Ford expects to US auto sales will be 14.7 million this year. In the third quarter, Ford earned about $2.3 billion in North America. Contribution costs, which includes the cost of commodity hedging, fell by $500 million in the market.

“Twelve percent segment margins is just insane,” said Jefferies analyst Peter Nesvold, who has a “buy” rating on Ford. He added: “It is hard to believe that any OEM can sustain 12 percent segment margins over the long term.” Ford’s third quarter revenue fell 3 percent to $32.1 billion, better than the $30.9 billion expected by analysts. Net income in the quarter was about $1.6 billion, or 41 cents a share, on par with results from last year.

Ford hired Alan Mulally as chief executive in 2006 to steer the automaker’s turnaround in North America, which began in late 2005 with the “Way Forward” plan engineered by Mark Fields, who had led North and South American operations for 7 years.

From 2006 to 2009, Ford cut capacity in North America by a little more than one-fifth.

New models helped Ford earn an additional $10 billion in revenue from 2006 to 2010.

Mulally’s “One Ford” strategy connected Ford’s once-disparate business units to lower costs and boost profits. Cost cuts and an improved lineup helped Ford avoid the government financing that was needed to keep US rivals General Motors Co and Chrysler Group LLC afloat in 2009.

“Stronger profitability is the highlight and gives confidence that the One Ford plan can continue to deliver,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak said in a note.

“We believe this playbook should eventually drive improved European profitability,” Spak said.

Last week, Ford announced three plant closures in Europe to cut costs by as much as $500 million. Ford also signaled a willingness to do more if needed.

The company is also taking steps to keep its inventory at around 40 days supply, lower than the typical 50 days, to deal with lower demand for cars and trucks in Europe.

In the first nine months of 2012, Ford lost a little more than $1 billion in the region in the region. Ford expects to lose at least $3 billion in Europe over the next two years, including at least $1.5 billion this year.

Ford earned $9 million in South America. It also $45 million in Asia Pacific and Africa, the first profit for the region since the second quarter of 2011.

Etihad to buy two more Airbus for $417million

ZAWYA DOW JONES

DOHA

ABU Dhabi-based airline Etihad Airways ordered two Airbus A330- 200 aircraft as part of an effort to renew its fleet, Airbus said on Tuesday.

The United Arab Emirate airline chose to equip the new jets with Trent 700 engines manufactured by Rolls Royce, Airbus said.

Taking into account Airbus list price, the new Etihad order is worth $417 million, though the aircraft manufacturer regularly grants discount for customers.

Etihad also upgraded a previous order for seven A320 jets for seven A321, a larger version of the plane, Airbus said. The airline will receive the first aircraft in November 2013.

Meanwhile, Etihad, which owns 10 percent of Virgin Australia, on Tuesday welcomed the Australian carrier’s decision to buy a majority stake in Tiger Airways and its agreement to acquire Skywest Airlines.

Etihad Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said in an emailed statement that investments in Tiger and Skywest would help consolidate Virgin’s “competitive position” in the Australian and Asia- Pacific market.

Abu Dhabi-owned Etihad and Virgin have a commercial partnership that includes code-sharing on flights, joint marketing initiatives and coordinated frequent flier programs.

In one of three separate deals announced earlier on Tuesday, Singapore Airlines bought 10 percent of Virgin Australia.

BP raises dividend as Q3 profit jumps to $5.5bn

AP

LONDON

OIL company BP is rewarding long-suffering shareholders with a substantial dividend increase just days after it sold a stake in a Russian joint venture for billions of dollars.

BP also revealed on Tuesday that it made a net profit of $5.5 billion in the third quarter, more than offsetting the $1.34 billion loss reported in the previous three months when the company wrote down the value of some assets. It was also 5 percent higher than last year’s equivalent of $5.2 billion.

Most interest came with the news that BP was raising its quarterly dividend 12.5 percent to 9 cents per share. The company’s shares were up 5.3 percent to 447.6 pence in late morning trading in London.

“The results were much stronger than we and the market anticipated - almost entirely in refining and marketing where the clean result was $3 billion versus our forecast of $1.8 billion,” said Stuart Joyner at Investec Securities.

Chief Executive Bob Dudley said the dividend hike was based partly on BP’s deal announced last week to sell its half share in Russian joint venture TNK-BP to Russia’s statecontrolled rival Rosneft, a deal which will yield $12.3 billion in cash for BP.

Some $11 billion in asset sales in the last quarter and new projects coming onstream also gave the board confidence to raise the dividend, he said.

“We recognize that we have had some very patient shareholders,” Dudley said in a conference call with reporters.

BP is selling its 50 percent share in TNK-BP for $17.1 billion cash and a 12.84 percent stake in Rosneft. BP is using $4.8 billion of the cash to buy a further 5.66 percent of Rosneft for $4.8 billion.

Dudley said there had been no discussion with Rosneft about reviving BP’s bid to join in exploring for undersea oil in the Arctic. That plan died because of opposition from BP’s partners in TNK-BP.

“TNK-BP has been a great investment for BP and its partners but as I have said many times, the partnership seems to have run its course and BP did not want to leave Russia,” Dudley said.

Rosneft has said it intends to buy the other half of TNKBP, which is owned by four Russian tycoons, but Dudley said it was possible that Rosneft would decide not to carry through with that.

BP has faced a difficult few years since the big and costly oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The company booked another $59 million in costs related to the spill in the third quarter, raising the nine-month total to $882 million.

BP said it expects to make the final payment this year into a $20 billion trust fund to compensate losses from the Macondo well blowout, in which 11 people died. Since the disaster in 2010, BP has announced disposals of assets valued at $35 billion toward its goal of $38 billion.

Dudley said BP still hopes to reach a “reasonable” settlement of a suit by the US Department of Justice over the damages created by the spill. He said, however, that the company continues to prepare its defense should the case come to trial, which would be in late February.

Elsewhere, BP said its replacement cost profit, a key industry benchmark, during the period was $4.7 billion, down from $5.3 billion a year earlier. It blamed lower oil prices and production and higher costs. Revenue of $93.1 billion was also down from $97.7 billion a year earlier.

Production of oil and gas, excluding TNK-BP, was down 3 percent compared to a year ago at 2.26 million barrels a day. BP said it expects higher production in the fourth quarter as its maintenance season ends and new projects make a contribution.

Urdu awards to be presented in Doha on November 7

L N MALLICK

DOHA THE 16th annual Aalmi Frogh-e-Urdu Adab Awards will now be presented on November 7 at Doha Sheraton’s Salwa Hall. This was announced by Chairman Majlis-e- Frogh-e-Urdu Adab Mohammad Atiq on Monday.

Earlier, the event was scheduled to be held on November 8 at Doha Sheraton’s Al Majlis Auditorium. Entry to the event will be by invitation alone. All Urdu lovers can obtain the invitation card from Shezan Hotel reception from November 4 onwards. The award will be presented to India’s Shamoil Ahmad and Pakistan’s Ata ul Haq Qasmi.

‘’A special feature of this year’s event is that the Majlis is going to confer a ‘Special Frogh-e- Urdu Adab Award’ on Naseeruddin Shah, one of the finest actors India has produced.

The special award is being given to him in recognition of his contribution to Urdu literature and poetry.

Shah is coming to receive this award with his wife, Ratna Pathak Shah,’’ said Atiq.

Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, HE Dr Hamad Abdul Aziz al Kuwari has agreed to be the chief guest on the occasion. Majlis will also release a special souvenir on the occasion. Launched in 1996, the Aalmi Frogh-e-Urdu Adab Award comprises a gold shield and a cash prize of Rs 150,000 for each winner. It is given annually to two creative writers in Urdu and scholars - one from India and the other from Pakistan - for their contributions to Urdu language and literature.

After the awards presentation, an international “mushaira” (poetry session) will also be held. The event will see about two dozen Urdu poets, writers and scholars from India, Pakistan and Australia gather in Doha. The international mushaira will be presided over by a well known scholar and poet from Pakistan Dr Khurshid Rizvi.

Noted Indian scholar and former chairman Sahitya Academy Dr Gopi Chand Narang and actor Naseeruddin Shah will be the guests of honour.

The guest-poets from India this year are Munawwar Rana, Rais Ansari, Iqbal Ashhar and Dr Nuzhat Anjum. The guestpoets from Pakistan are Dr Khurshid Rizvi, Ata ul Haq Qasmi, Aslam Kaulsari, Sarfaraz Shahid, Rakhshanda Naveed and Saleem Fauz.

Australia-based poet Mohamed Ali and Qatar-based poets Fartash Syed (representing Majlis), Syed Zawwar Hussain Zair (Pakistan) and Ashfaq Ahmed Qalaq (India) will also participate. Other guests will include Salahuddin from Dubai and Daud Ahmed from Lahore, Pakistan.

The 2012 Aalmi Frogh-e- Urdu Adab awards were decided by two independent juries headed by Urdu scholar, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan Yousufi in Lahore, Pakistan in April and Prof Dr Gopi Chand Narang, in Delhi in May.

HMC receives 1,480 cases on fourth day of Eid

MOHAMED KHOULAIDI

DOHA THE emergency unit of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) received about 1,480 cases on the fourth day of Eid Al Adha on Monday.

According to HMC officials, 15 of the cases were of accidents, including 10 of road accidents in which a Sri Lankan was killed and four persons, two Qatari nationals and two expatriates, suffered serious injuries.

Apart from 70 cases received at the cardiology department, most of the patients brought to the emergency complained of abdominal disorders and were attended to by internal medicine doctors, an official of the corporation said.

The official pointed out that, as is always the case during the Eid Al Adha, most of the patients brought to the HMC emergency complain of stomach colic caused by consumption of sheep meat and fatty foods.

Rheumatism Diseases Consultant at HMC Dr Hani Malallah warned people against eating too much of sheep meat, especially the portions with high amounts of fat.

He said fatty meat causes indigestion and flatulence.

“Consumption of too much fatty meat may cause diarrhoea and increase the cholesterol level in blood, which, in turn, may affect the arteries,” he said.

Nutritionist Aisha al Alami said eating too much of red meat may cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol and serious digestive disorders.

She advised people to opt for fish and white meat instead of red meat.

“It is advisable not to drink water while eating meat or soon after the meal in order to avoid obstruction of the digestion operation,” she advised, adding that water should be drunk at least one hour after the meal.

She added that meat should not be taken alone but with an appropriate quantity of other foods such as rice, starches, vegetables and potatoes.

Another nutritionist Afyaa al Masri urged people to opt for boiled meat instead of grilled in order to avoid stomach upset.

Over 100 handed visas for US, Canada at WWICS seminar

RAJESH MISHRA

DOHA OVER 100 visa-seekers, including investors, businessmen and skilled professionals, received landing papers /visas for the US, Canada and Australia at a one-day awareness seminar organised by World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS) on Monday.

The WWICS clients will begin journey to the destination of their choice soon.

“I have always dreamt of settling in Canada ever since I was a teenager. I thank WWICS for helping me to realise my dreams and making immigration such a hassle-free experience.

The staff were always available for queries. They really rendered satisfactory assistance,” said Himoda Chandralochan Jaykanth, one of the recipients of landing papers.

Another client Priyantha Nuwan Goonsekara said, “I was apprehensive of settling down in Australia before I approached WWICS. The officials did not only provide immigration services but also guided us to which programme and country would be suitable for individuals. I am very happy with the services I received for WWICS.” To Ahmed, another beneficiary of WWICS’ services, the visa would pave the way for him to set up his private business in the US.

“I always wanted to invest in the US and now I have got a chance to run my own business of my dream and I thank WWICS for helping me to make a good choice that would make my business prosper and help my family get the US Green Card. I will now settle in the US with my entire family,” Ahmed said.

Prior to the investiture ceremony in which the applicants were handed the landing papers, a high-level team of immigration and resettlement experts from the WWICS enlightened the audience about the opportunities available in developed countries like Canada, the USA, Australia, the UK and other parts of Europe.

The experts provided customised solutions for work permit and information on various avenues on employment and career opportunities, attractive job offers for aspirant and their spouses as well as other resettlement options.

Immigration and resettlement panel from the WWICS at the event comprised Assistant Director for Global Placement Services, Canada Brandon Miller, Australian Consultant and MARA agent Gurpreet Sandhu, WWICS Vice-President Deepak Kochhar, WWICS Qatar Branch Manager Anwar Karim and Sandeep Chauhan, a business immigration expert from WWICS.

Kochhar said, “Canada is the most sought-after destination for immigration and the Provincial Nominee Programmes have made resettling in the country a fast-track and relaxed process. These programmes help investors, skilled workers and professionals to reach prosperous provinces such as Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba and get permanent residency status easily.” Talking about the business immigration programmes, Chauhan said, “Apart from various business programmes in Canada, Australia and the US, we have recently launched a new programme for Georgia, a promising destination for farmers, businessmen and investors. The US EB-5 Investor visa is a top-notch business programme, which is ideal for those who wish to settle in the US. This programme is an easy and fast pathway to a US Green Card.” On his part, Miller highlighted the demand for international students in Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

He said the students have the option of applying for permanent residency upon completion of their courses.

Talking about immigration prospects in Australia, Sandhu said that the lowering of pass marks from 65 to 60 points and introduction of the SkillSelect Program has brightened the prospects of those wanting to settle in the country.

Mannai Air Travel gets accreditation

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA MANNAI Air Travel received the ISO 9001 – 2008 accreditation by the International Standards Organisation and becoming the first travel management company in Qatar to receive the accreditation.

In order to meet the standards of the international body, the company established a quality management system with checks and balances within each department. The system was designed to ensure stable and predictable growth while maintaining and improving standards in each area of operation.

Established in 1980, Mannai Air Travel is Qatar’s leading travel service provider. A focus on building strong agency – client relationships has helped the company to be the preferred travel agency. A team of highly trained and dedicated professional managers and consultants form the company’s greatest strength. This is supplemented with the global network of regional associates, destination management companies and handling agents. The agency enables customers to travel around the world with instant access to the best amenities and services anywhere.

Mannai Holidays is the exclusive leisure travel wing of Mannai Air Travel. It is equipped to provide the widest range of leisure travel options from ocean cruises to hiking trips, and all inclusive group packages to specially tailored family vacations. The company can also provide a full range of tours catering to a wide variety of interests such as wildlife, archaeology, sociology, history and culture. The division also specialises in organising field trips for school and university students.

Farukh Sardar, general manager, said, “While we shall keep up with industry trends in moving to webbased selling, there is still a huge and growing demand for personalised attention to the traveller needs. We will continue to exert ourselves to be best in the field in this area.”

Fast-track cheque clearance in Qatar soon

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA BANKS in Qatar may soon be using cheque scanners that will facilitate end-to-end cheque clearance in one day. The EPSON’s TM-S1000 cheque scanner has been certified by ProgressSoft for use in Qatar’s banking industry.

ProgressSoft, the leading provider of real-time payment solutions, claims that Epson TM-S1000 will function flawlessly with ‘PS-ECC Version 4 Onwards’, an electronic image-based cheque clearing solution designed to provide end-to-end nationwide clearing of cheques the same day.

Certified for use in Bahrain and Jordan’s banking industries, the cheque scanner addresses the requirements of banks and companies that want to capture cheques using backoffice capture (BOC), remote deposit capture (RDC) or both. With its unique MICR recognition algorithm, the cheque scanner achieves an accuracy rate of at least 99.9 percent. The rate is one of the highest MICR accuracy rates among the desktop scanners available.

The Epson cheque scanner comes in both 30 DPM and 60 DPM versions. It also features a double cheque detector that virtually eliminates double cheque feeding.

It also has a MCBF (Mean Cycles Between Failures) of 2.47million documents, making it a reliable product with two pocket support to give users the flexibility to process and segregate different types of documents such as cheques and payment coupons.

The cheque scanner also features a 100-sheet document feeder that allows highvolume processing and advanced self-diagnostics that keep the operator informed of the scanner status and clear error messages.

Epson Middle East General Manager Khalil el Dalu said, “The ProgressSoft certification empowers banks in the country to drive productivity and provide efficient and secure services to clients.”

Expats come together at ‘Eid Milan’

LN MALLICK

DOHA A LARGE number of expatriates from different countries attended an ‘Eid Milan’ (Eid get-together) organised by Sohni Dharti, a socio-cultural group of Pakistani expats, in Al Khor recently. Women joined their spouses along with children at the event held to celebrate Eid Al Adha.

Ali Pirzada, Forum chairman, lauded the support and participation of Bharti, an Indian community forum and Pakistan Women Association (PWA).

Sohni Dharti president Shabbir Siddiqui said that this year’s event was a “show of harmony among nationalities”. “It showcases the multi-cultural nature of Qatar. The guests were delighted with the cultural show,” Siddiqui added.

Among the participants included Arabs, Europeans, Africans, people from the Far East along with South Asian countries.

Bushra Pirzada, a coordinator of the event, paid her gratitude to Al Khor community director and his team for their complete support in organising the event.

She thanked her team members, Bharti Forum and PWA, for their support in making the event a success. Pirzada also noted that such activities not only provide an opportunity to celebrate the “happiness of Eid but also provides a source to develop inter-cultural harmony among communities in Qatar”.

Several stalls were set up. Young girls and women queued up for henna.

Visitors from the West were seen at the stalls which showcased traditional glass bangles and artificial jewellery. Clothes and hand bags also attracted a large crowd.

A colourful food street with large varieties of Indian and Pakistani cuisines was also on the menu for visitors. Some of these food dishes were biryani, rus-malaie, zarda, gulab jamun, kulfi, dahi bhallay, chana chaat, pani puri, samosa chaat, potato chips, shawarma and dozens of other items.

Chilled kulfi (stick icecream) was one of the highlights. People enjoyed a quiz show. Separate musical chair programme was also held for the visitors.

New Libyan PM names 30-member cabinet

AFP TRIPOLI LIBYA’S new premier presented on Tuesday a cabinet that includes liberals and Islamists, in a fresh test of the country’s fledgling democracy after the 2011 armed uprising that ousted Moamer Qadhafi.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told the General National Congress he had included the main parties, among them the liberal National Forces Alliance (NFA) and the Islamist Justice and Construction Party, while some top posts were given to independents.

The 30-member cabinet includes 27 ministers and three deputy prime ministers.

Zeidan was elected on October 14 after his predecessor, Mustafa Abu Shagur, was dismissed in a vote of no confidence when the GNC rejected his cabinet line-up as unrepresentative of Libya’s numerous factions.

His new government faces many challenges in a country still awash with arms and struggling for reconciliation more than a year after the end of the revolt that overthrew and killed Colonel Qadhafi.

Its chief task is organising fresh elections within 12 months on the basis of a new constitution, which has yet to be drafted.

“I decided to put independents in charge of the ministries of foreign affairs, international cooperation, finance, justice, interior and defence,” Zeidan said in a televised address to the GNC.

The assembly must approve the government team before Zeidan, a long-time Qadhafi opponent, can assume office and replace Abdel Rahim al- Kib, who has held the post since November.

Among Zeidan’s nominations are Mohammed al- Barghathi as defence minister and Ashur Shwayel as interior minister, both natives of Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 revolt. Barghathi, a 71-yearold fighter jet pilot who retired in 1994, was one of the first officers to join the anti- Qadhafi uprising.

Shwayel, 58, has a doctorate in law and served 35 years in the police force.

Zeidan nominated Ali Aujli, Libya’s ambassador to the United States, as foreign minister and Abdelbari al-Arussi, a native of the western town of Zawiyah, to head the strategic oil ministry.

He also proposed creating a new ministry of tourism, a first for the ultra-conservative Muslim country, which would be headed by Ikram Bash Imam, one of two women in the government team.

It is unclear whether the assembly will vote on Zeidan’s proposed cabinet as a whole or vote on each individual ministry.

Outlining his programme to the assembly on October 14, Zeidan proposed an “intensive training and recruitment campaign to boost the ranks of army and police” by integrating new members who can replace officers from the previous regime.

He also vowed to make national reconciliation and justice a top priority at a time when communal tensions and regional rivalries risk plunging the country into civil war.

Benefitting from the backing of the liberal coalition in the 200-seat assembly, Zeidan won 93 of the votes cast when elected, trumping the 85 garnered by the only other candidate propped up by Islamists.

The NFA boasts 39 of the 80 seats reserved for parties in the assembly while the second largest political force, the Justice and Construction Party which was launched by the Muslim Brotherhood, holds 17 seats.

The remaining seats are held by smaller parties and 120 independent candidates of mixed ideological and political convictions. A 62-year-old career diplomat, Zeidan defected in 1980 while he was serving at the Libyan embassy in India, and spent the next three decades in exile.

He played a major role in winning international recognition for the political leadership of rebels who fought Qadhafi’s forces after an Arab Springinspired uprising escalated into civil war.

Air Force brass among 25 killed in Syria

AFP DAMASCUS ASYRIAN air force general has been assassinated in Damascus, state television said on Tuesday, as air strikes pounded rebel bastions and fighting raged for control of areas around the capital and in the northwest.

“As part of their campaign to target national personalities and scientists, armed terrorist groups assassinated Air Force General Abdullah Mahmud al Khalidi in the Damascus district of Rukn al Din,” state television said, using the regime term for armed rebels. It gave no further details.

The general was a member of the Syrian Air Force command, a security source in Damascus said. He was shot dead on Monday evening as he left a friend’s home, the source added. News of the killing came after regime warplanes launched their heaviest air strikes to date, with more than 60 raids carried out on Monday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a key watchdog.

It said the campaign continued on Tuesday with air raids hitting rebel-held areas in the suburbs of Damascus and the town of Maaret al Numan, overrun by rebels earlier this month. It said three children were among four civilians killed in Maaret al Numan, which is on a key army supply route between Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo.

Regime forces have been battling with rebels for weeks for control of the area.

Tuesday also saw clashes between rebel forces and troops backed by Palestinian fighters at the Yarmuk Palestinian camp, home to 148,500 people, near Damascus.

Anwar Raja, spokesman for the pro-regime Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command, said its forces clashed for about an hour with rebels trying to infiltrate the camp but that there were no casualties.

“Our goal is to prevent the camp from being taken hostage and becoming a battlefield, but there are parties in the armed Syrian opposition who wish to draw us into the maze of Syria’s internal crisis,” Raja said. There are more than 510,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria and their leadership is largely supportive of President Bashar al Assad’s regime.

At least 25 people, including 16 civilians, were killed in fighting on Tuesday, the Observatory said.

With UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi due in China in a bid to revive struggling peace efforts, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al Thani said the international community’s failure to halt the fighting was making it complicit in the violence. “What is happening in Syria is not a civil war but a war of extermination against the Syrian people,” he told Al Jazeera television.

The war, he charged, was being waged “with a licence to kill, endorsed firstly by the Syrian government and secondly by the international community.” On the first day after the Eid al Adha Muslim holiday, which saw a bid for a ceasefire collapse amid renewed clashes, car bombings and air strikes, the Observatory said about 500 people had died in fighting over last four days.

The Britain-based group relies on a countrywide network of activists, lawyers and medics in civilian and military hospitals, and says its tolls take into account civilian, military and rebel casualties.

Brahimi was due in China after on Monday visiting Moscow, where he said the situation in Syria “is bad and getting worse”. Diplomats say Brahimi is to go to the UN Security Council in November with new proposals following his visits to Russia and China — which have repeatedly vetoed resolutions threatening action against Assad’s regime.

Moscow on Monday called for international dialogue with Assad’s regime, but the call was rejected by key regional player Turkey. “There is no point in engaging in dialogue with a regime that continues to carry out such a massacre against its own people, even during Eid al Adha,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday.

The uprising, which began in March 2011 as a peaceful movement, has steadily militarised after being met with brutal state repression and has left more than 35,000 people dead, according to rights groups. Most rebels, like the population, are Sunni Muslims in a country dominated by a minority regime of Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Harley eyes 80% Qatari market share

ASIF IQBAL

DOHA HARLEY-DAVIDSON (HD), one of the world’s leading luxury motorbike manufacturers, plans to increase its market share in Qatar to about 80 percent over time, a top company official has said.

“Though no official figures are available about the market size of motorbikes in Qatar, we estimate our present market share at 60 percent, and are looking to increase it to 80 percent in the years to come”, Dealer Principal of Harley-Davidson in Doha, Robert Andrew K told Qatar Tribune in an exclusive interview.

New models and more effective marketing are prongs of the company’s strategy to achieve this target, he added.

HD sells heavyweight (over 750 cc) motorcycles designed for cruising on highways. Harley-Davidson motorcycles (popularly known as “Harleys”) have a distinctive design and exhaust note. They are especially noted for the tradition of heavy customisation that gave rise to the chopper style of motorcycle According to Andrew, Qatar is witnessing an increased number of riders using Harley-Davidson motorcycles for commuting because of the explosion in the amount of traffic in Doha.

“With the economic growth in Qatar over the next few years and leading up to the 2022 World Cup, the potential for the bike market to grow is enormous”, he said when asked about Qatar’s potential as the bike market. Reiterating the uniqueness of the bike in response to a question on competition from other brands, he mentioned the name of Honda Goldwing but stressed the difference by pointing out that the Harley-Davidson motorcycle has a “heart and soul”.

“Our competitors do not have the history or heritage that Harley-Davidson has, not only do we sell the motorcycle we sell a lifestyle. Like no other brand, it changes people’s lives.

That’s why we have the biggest share of the market,” he said.

Replying to a question if bike can be an option in this region where temperatures are very high, Andrew said, “Our bikers ride all year round, in the hot summer months they tend to ride early morning and late evening, the rest of the year the weather is perfect for riding with like minded friends.

On the subject of HD recalling a big number of bikes in the last two years on account of defects, Andrew said, “I have been around Harley-Davidson for years and we are continually working on the improvements and reliability of our motorcycles.” Giving details about the launch of new models, Andrew said, “the 110th Anniversary models celebrate our past, strictly Limited Edition and very collectable.

The new Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) range is amazing, and also includes Limited Edition Anniversary models. These bikes typify factory custom art with the latest creation the “CVO Breakout”.

Qatar considers buying AC Milan

Tribune News Network

DOHA AC MILAN owner Silvio Berlusconi is ready to sell the Serie A powerhouse to Qatar, as he feels the time has come to say farewell to his beloved club, according to Goal.com.

If the deal comes through, it would be the third European football club purchase for Qatari investors after French club PSG and Spanish club Malaga.

It’s a war of extermination in Syria, says prime minister

AFP

DOHA PRIME Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al Thani has accused the Syrian regime, with the complicity of the international community, of waging a “war of extermination” against its people.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera late on Monday, the PM took issue with UNArab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who earlier in the day had characterised the deadly conflict ravaging Syria as a “civil war.” “What is happening in Syria is not a civil war but a war of extermination against the Syrian people,” the PM said.

This war, he charged, was being waged “with a license to kill, endorsed firstly by the Syrian government and secondly by the international community.” He was apparently referring to Russia and China, which have repeatedly vetoed UN Security Council resolutions threatening action against President Bashar al Assad’s regime.

“We have confidence in Brahimi... but we need him to develop a clear proposal for a solution that can be put before the Security Council paving the way for a transition period and a transfer of power,” he said.

Brahimi, who saw the truce he had brokered for the four-day Eid al Adha holiday shattered in an explosion of violence soon after it took effect on Friday, said in Moscow the situation in Syria was “bad and getting worse.” “If it’s not a civil war, I don’t know what it is,” he said after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Brahimi, who is also due to visit China, is to go to the UN Security Council in November with new proposals to push for talks between Assad and the opposition.

Storm Sandy cripples US, claims 39 lives

AP

NEW YORK THE misery of superstorm Sandy’s devastation grew on Tuesday as millions along the US East Coast faced life without power or mass transit for days, and huge swaths of New York City remained eerily quiet. The US death toll climbed to 39, many of the victims killed by falling trees, and rescue work continued.

The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with hurricane force cut power to more than 8.2 million across the East and put the presidential campaign on hold just one week before Election Day.

New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart closed for a second day.

The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of the city’s subway system, and there was no indication of when the largest US transit system would be rolling again.

“This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

But the full extent of the damage in New Jersey was being revealed as morning arrived.

Emergency crews fanned out to rescue hundreds.

A hoarse-voiced New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave bleak news at a morning news conference: Seaside rail lines washed away. No safe place on the state’s barrier islands for him to land. Parts of the coast still under water.

“It is beyond anything I thought I’d ever see,” he said.

“It is a devastating sight right now.” The death toll from Sandy in the US included several killed by falling trees. Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Eastern Seaboard.

Airlines cancelled more than 12,000 flights. New York City’s three major airports remained closed.

Most major tunnels and bridges in New York were closed, as were schools and Broadway theatres.

Around midday, Sandy was about 190 kilometres east of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, pushing westward with winds of 72 kph, and was expected to make a turn into New York State on Tuesday night.

Although weakening as it goes, the storm will continue to bring heavy rain and flooding, said Daniel Brown of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Sandy also brought blizzard conditions to West Virginia and neighbouring Appalachian states, with more than 2 feet of snow expected in some places.

Sandy will end up causing about $20 billion in property damage and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, making it one of the costliest natural disasters on record in the US, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.

President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in New York and Long Island, making federal funding available to residents of the area. He suspended campaigning for a third day on Wednesday.

Obama, speaking during a stop on Tuesday at Red Cross headquarters, warned the public that the massive storm that struck the East Coast “is not yet over.” He said there were still risks of flooding and downed power lines. He called the storm “heartbreaking for the nation.” The president offered his thoughts and prayers to those affected and told them “America is with you.” He said he also told government officials coordinating the response that there was “no excuse for inaction.” And he said he told governors in affected areas that if they get no for an answer, “they can call me personally at the White House.” Republican challenger Mitt Romney resumed his campaign, but with plans to turn a political rally in Ohio into a “storm relief event.”

Soha bonds with sister-in-law Kareena

IANS ACTRESS Soha Ali Khan had fun spending time with sister-in-law Kareena Kapoor during the last two weeks.

Soha’s brother Saif Ali Khan married Kareena Kapoor in an intimate ceremony on October 16 in the presence of close family and friends.

“She is very sweet. I have actually spent a lot of time with her in the last two weeks. It’s great fun,” Soha said on Friday during the launch of HUE fashion’s new collection at Inox.

“Even in the marriage we had great fun. It was small affair as you all know, only close acquaintances,” the 34-year-old added.

Asked when does she plan to tie the knot, Soha, who is dating actor Kunal Kemmu, dodged the question, saying it’s her elder sister Saba Ali Khan’s turn now.

Meanwhile, Soha is looking forward to the release of Midnight’s Children and is busy shooting for Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster 2, Char Footiya Chokre and Airport.

Kamal Haasan remembers ‘ever enthusiastic’ Yash Chopra

SUBHASH K JHA

IANS

YASH Chopra’s sudden demise has left veteran actor Kamal Haasan, who met the filmmaker weeks before he passed away, shocked.

“And then I hear he’s gone!” said the actor, shocked beyond words.

“This is no way to go. We met frequently. I met him for the last time three weeks ago.

He was as enthusiastic as ever, though self admittedly he was feeling weak. I asked him why. His eyes twinkled like a child and he said, ‘When you reach 32 you can’t have the same energy level as when you are 19’. We laughed heartily at that one,” Haasan added.

Kamal Haasan was in awe of Yash Chopra’s ever enthusiastic nature and simplicity.

“Yashji’s 80 years sat really comfortably on his shoulders. He never felt the weight of being ‘the’ Yash Chopra. He was in love with cinema, not with its trappings. In that sense we were similar. When we met we were both like kids in a toy store staring at all the goodies around us. There was so much to imbibe, so much to do,” he said.

“The sense of wonderment never left Yashji. No matter how much old he got, he still had the same enthusiasm level every time we met,” he added.

Haasan revealed that Yash Chopra had plans to visit Chennai to meet music maestro AR Rahman to discuss about a song for his new film Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

“When we met last he told me about how he would meet in Chennai next for a song that AR Rahman was supposed to give him for his new film. That was never meant to be,” said the 57- year-old.

Many times Yash Chopra and Kamal Haasan came close to cracking an idea they could work on, but couldn’t implement it.

“Don’t ask me why we never worked together until now. We were too busy discussing ideas to actually get down to doing anything concrete. I’ve no regrets about not working with him,” he said.

“Just spending time discussing ideas with him was an experience worth treasuring. Even at 80 when I met him for the last time he was wonderstruck by the marvel of the motion-picture technique, of what magic it could do.

“Every time he liked something I said he would lean over like a school boy with that look which said, ‘Really? We can actually do that?’ I’ll miss that unconditional sense of pleasure in the existence of cinema during my visits to Mumbai.” Yash Chopra passed away on October 21 due to multiple organ failure. He was suffering from dengue.

Britney’s ex-confidante gets death threats, to sue her mother

BRANDON LOWREY REUTERS THE former confidante of pop star Britney Spears broke down on the witness stand on Wednesday, saying his villainous portrayal in a book written by the singer’s mother triggered a deluge of death threats that drove him into a suicidal depression.

“If I went anywhere public, people were assaulting me,” Sam Lutfi told jurors at a civil trial in Los Angeles. “People I knew were shunning me. There were numerous postings online on websites ..
that were threats to kill me.

People wishing that I was dead,” Lutfi said, choking up and beginning to cry. “People wishing harm to my family.” Lutfi, who emerged as Spears’ closest friend during her 2007 personal and career meltdown, was testifying for the second day in his lawsuit against the Toxic superstar and her parents.

He is suing Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, alleging she libelled him in her 2008 book, Through the Storm, and made him a scapegoat for the singer’s problems.

He is also suing Britney Spears for a chunk of her earnings, claiming she hired him as her manager soon after meeting him in 2007.

And he is suing her father, Jamie Spears, for assault.

Lutfi said on Wednesday that Spears’ father chased him, punched him and threatened to kill him in her Los Angeles home in early 2008.

“(Jamie Spears) was spitting and shouting, yelling at me, telling me that I had hurt his daughter and I had better leave or he was going to beat the hell out of me,” Lutfi testified.

The trial, which began last week, has offered a glimpse into Spears’ private life during her highly publicised crisis five years ago, including a divorce, a bitter child custody battle, a head-shaving incident and claims of amphetamine abuse.

Lutfi’s tearful testimony provided a stark contrast to his crossexamination, during which Spears family attorneys read details from four restraining orders filed against him since 2004 in which the family, and other associates of Lutfi, accused him of threatening and terrorising them and their relatives.

Joel Boxer, attorney for Britney Spears’ estate, asked Lutfi if, during the time he claimed he was Britney’s manager, he set up or presented any entertainment industry deals for the singer. Lutfi said no.

Lutfi has said he met Britney Spears at a nightclub in 2007 and that she quickly hired him as her manager and promised him 15 percent of the $800,000-plus she earned each month.

Attorneys representing Spears say Lutfi was preying on the singer during a vulnerable period in her life.

Jurors on Wednesday watched video footage showing a distraught and angry Spears being hounded by paparazzi in 2007. In one clip, the Louisiana native shouted at photographers in a fake British accent. In another, she was seen sitting on the sidewalk, cradling her dog and crying as paparazzi snapped photographs and taunted her.

Spears, now 30, whose personal and business affairs are still overseen by a conservator, has since made a comeback, releasing several hit albums and landing a judging spot on TV talent show The X-Factor.

She is not attending the trial and is not expected to testify.

Self-loathing sells for Titus Andronicus

JON CARAMANICA

NYT SYNDICATE

TALK, talk, talk – all Patrick Stickles does is talk. On Ecce Homo, the first song from the new album by his band Titus Andronicus, he’s talking about himself, and it’s not pretty.

I’ve spread my vile seed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, he sings in the effective, whiny rasp that’s become his trademark. Now I’m begging you on my knees, please don’t make me get down and sniff it.

Ecce Homo is one part of the bigger story on Local Business (XL), the third album from this band, which has quickly become one of the most exciting and brainiest young punk acts in the country.

It’s also a far more distilled album than its predecessor, The Monitor, from 2010, which was a daring and complex concept album about war among other things, an impressive leap in scale and ambition for a band that had first made a mark with far terser songs.

But in many ways Local Business is an album about hating what you’ve become. On Ecce Homo, Stickles – an ardent anti-consumerist, at least in verse – continues, “Yes, it’s ‘us against them’ again, smashing the system into the dirt-Now we gobble brown M&M’s and put the whole thing onto a T-shirt.” Local Business boils down to erudite bar rock, although with Stickles behind the wheel – he is the band’s constant while members come and go around him – genre is a distant second to words. On record, at least, it can seem as if every other part of this band is in service to Stickles. (That’s less true during live shows, in which the band makes a broad, convincing racket.) On The Monitor, all of those parts were working in intricate tandem.

A different version of growth for this band might have meant disappearing farther down that wormhole, but the often great Local Business is closer in spirit to this band’s debut, The Airing of Grievances, from 2008, and perhaps a reclamation of balance.

And just because the songs are more linear, that doesn’t mean that at times they don’t have to be gnawed at. My Eating Disorder is a harrowing story of hiding behind addiction: “Now they pass me from hand to hand-Pharmacist to Marlboro Man-Back to pharmacist again, too late.” And Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With the Floor of Detritus is about confronting death head-on, and crumpling.

Seemingly no one loathes the scene he finds himself immersed in more than Stickles. On In a Big City, he sneers, “I grew up on one side of the river, I was a disturbed, dangerous drifter-Moved over to the other side of the river, now I’m a drop in a deluge of hipsters.” On In a Small Body, he sounds like someone who wants only to escape or to annul his fame: “What you know about being no sort of slave? I know some kids who’d kill for this kind of cage.” The last indie rock singer to have created such a cult of personality based on his words was probably Conor Oberst, of Bright Eyes, whose confessional prose poems were one of the signature sounds of the 2000s. At times, Stickles sounds like Oberst when he was singing in his punkish side project Desaparecidos.

And when Stickles backs away from the narrative somewhat, there are moments in which Titus Andronicus sounds more in line with, say, the Gaslight Anthem, another New Jersey somewhat-punk band, although one with a more focused sense of songcraft and storytelling, and one less apt to ramble than Titus Andronicus has been.

Occasionally listening to Titus Andronicus can feel like a war between parsing Stickles and giving oneself over to the band, which is steady and decisive even when he isn’t. But Stickles comes up for air on two shorter tracks here.

One, Food Fight! is a comedic 71-second interlude that feels like an overly self-aware puncture in this band’s balloon of seriousness (or perhaps its craven attempt at selling a song to be used in a fast-food commercial).

The other, though, feels more meaningful.

It’s called Titus Andronicus vs.

the Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO), and it sits dead centre on the album. For just over two minutes, Stickles works over the phrase “I’m going insane” a few dozen different ways.

The music is looser, somewhere between literalist Ramones punk and blowzy 1970s arena rock, as if the band, finally untethered from the stresses of narrative, is enjoying itself.

And while Stickles may not be saying much from a word-count perspective, he’s certainly still talking, and he certainly has a lot to say.