96% of runaway girls are Saudis

MAKKAH: A recent survey conducted in the Makkah region found that 96.3 percent of girls who ran away from their families are Saudis, while 3.7 percent are non-Saudi. The study showed 51.9 percent are female university students, 36.4 percent high school students, and 11.7 percent middle school students.

The study showed 54 percent of runaway girls are between the ages of 17 and 21 years; 24.6 percent between the ages of 22 to 26; 15 percent under 16; and 5 percent older than 27 years.
The study, conducted by academics from the University of Umm Al-Qura, showed that 86.1 percent of runaway young women who are not married; 10.2 percent are married; 0.5 percent are widows.
Of the unmarried young women, 81.3 percent live with their parents; 8.6 percent live with their mothers; 2.1 percent live with relatives; and 1.6 percent live with their fathers.
The study showed 45.5 percent live in families of between seven and nine members; 34.8 percent live in families of between four and six people; 13.9 percent live in families with 10 members or more; 3.7 percent live in families consisting of three members or less.
The study, which is the first in the Makkah area, shows that the reasons for running away were misuse of social media, bad friends, misunderstanding of freedom, copying other cultures, weak beliefs, lack of emotional security, a need for adventure, bad treatment by husband, lack of dialogue with members of the family, verbal abuse, poverty, no monitoring by parents, subject to violence from one of the parents or brothers.
An official of the Makkah Educational Directorate said everyone needs to feel safe and healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally. A child who does not feel safe at a young age will grow up feeling insecure and unstable and without emotional security.
The chairman of the team that conducted the research said the family is the first component of the community and its first building block and “here we focused on the role of families in cooperation with the problems of runaway girls, as well as the role of community institutions and the factors associated with girls escaping from their families.”


Tweeters back executions, condemn Tehran

JEDDAH: Social networking sites are witnessing popular solidarity of all Saudi citizens across the social spectrum, in addition to Arab solidarity in denouncing Iranian intervention in Saudi domestic affairs, and the blatant attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.
Many tweets come from well-known personalities expressing their solidarity with the Kingdom and denouncing Iranian intervention in Saudi domestic affairs.
“Saudi Arabia can burn the Iranian Embassy … but respectable countries don’t do that … this kind of behavior is the doing of unethical thieves and highwaymen,” said media personality and writer Talal Hamza.
“A message to all: the security of the nation doesn’t know who you are nor your religion but the security of the Gulf has to be protected from conspirators and distorters,” said media personality Fahd bin Kardous.
“Its too late for recommendations and big hearts, of being asked to repent and admonitions; what is needed now is firmness, swords and chopping off heads,” said Prince Abdulrahman bin Musaed.
Journalist Abdullah Al-Shabiji said in light of the implementation of the execution sentence against the 47 terrorists who carried out attacks, the Kingdom might be exposed to attacks from Iran and its allies.
Prince Nawaf bin Faisal wrote: “The Kingdom’s leaders abide by God’s legislation, serve God’s houses and announce war on Allah’s enemies,” while Prince Faisal bin Turki wrote: “The execution is the implementation of God’s orders, and executing terrorists brings life to the nation and its loyal children.”
Ayman Abduljabbar wrote: “Western coolness toward the burning of the Saudi Embassy points to secret articles in the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Journalist Jasim Al-Moawda wrote: “Qatar denounced the attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran,” while writer Abdo Khal said, “Statistics reveal that those who were killed among security forces are much more than those executed and arithmetic never lies.”
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Hamad said: “Sectarian differences with Iran will not benefit anyone; the differences are between countries that support fascism and terrorism with money and manpower.”
He said the Kingdom is the safety valve for the region’s security against terrorism, and he prayed for the safety of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.
Journalist Freeh Al-Inizi said: “Its important for the Gulf Cooperation Council to take a clear stand toward Iranian incitement against the Kingdom. Its messages aims to incite rebellious responses.”
Khalid Al-Alkami said: ”Half war is a war of words spoken by Arabs and applied by Iran. Our external media should either rise to a decisive phase or needs a Decisive Storm to restructure it.”
Fahad Al-Shalimi said the Saudi nation stands up against terrorism; it led the fight to free Yemen; it secures borders; serves pilgrims of the Grand Mosque; supports Palestine and Syria; and contributes to global development.


Thank you, Arab News and Hope

I really enjoyed the trip to the planetarium. For me as an adult, it was both fun and educational trip. I personally will be back for another visit; excited to show friends and relatives this new form of entertainment offered here in Jeddah.
I think it addressed the many different levels of the mental and intellectual capacities of our children. It amused, excited, educated and simulated each and everyone one of them. From the movement of the lift and stepping out into a calming blue-lit tunnel, to the exciting on screen 360 degree action...feeling like you are whizzing through space with a bunch of aliens. It cannot fail to entertain.

Nicky Ewing

• It was a very enjoyable event. In fact it is an unforgettable event of my life. The management and the organizers were remarkable in the arranging transport. The staff was very coordinating and helpful, and a very big thank to Arab News which organized the event. Such events should happen often because they give families a chance to meet and form a community. I am very happy that I was a part of this event. At the end, I’d like to thank Arab News and Hope Center. Jazak Allah khair.

Asima Munir, Fahad Munir’s mother

• Thank you for this beautiful trip along with kids. We enjoyed the beautiful plant information area. Then we went to the aquarium and saw beautiful fish and amazing sea world. It was a quite secure and different sea world. We also enjoyed the dolphin show. It was great. In the end, we enjoyed a great meal. The trip was fantastic and unforgettable.


• Mornings could not be better than today’s. Alhamdulillah, enjoyed so much today from beginning till the end.Thanks a lot to Arab News and Hope Center for arranging such a wonderful trip. The smiles on the faces of children and mothers were really amazing and the kids’ excitement after seeing different wonderful kind of fish was great. Thanks again.

Shanzey’s mom

• Thnx for giving such a wonderful daughter mother dayout. It was like a dream come true for me. I was so happy to see my daughter happy!
When heading to Fakeih, my husband said Haya was the one you can’t go to see aquarium and today she is the reason u r visiting. It all happened just bcoz of Hope! You guyz r all amazing!
We really appritiate ur effort. Thanks and jazak Allah khair.

‘Special’ children wake up to fun-packed morning


The mothers of the special guests from Hope — For Exceptional Needs were also touched by the initiative of Arab News in organizing the event and support of Fakieh Planetarium & Aquarium and Al Baik in ensuring the program was a big success.
A total of around 160 people including the special children and their mothers, and the staff of Arab News and the center took part in the program.
The event started at 8:45 a.m. at the Fakieh Planetarium, where the children had the chance to go through an educational journey through the Universe, followed by the Zula show specially for children via a projector screen built primarily for showcasing educational and entertaining programs about astronomy. The planetarium staff deserve a special thanks for being very friendly and cooperative from start to finish.
From 10 am to 11  am, the children had the pleasure to witness the wonders of the underwater environment of the Red Sea containing more than 200 species including sharks, groupies, string rays, Napoleon Wrasse, sea horses and murrays. The sparkling creatures brought smiles, joy and happiness to the children as well as their mothers.
The fun was just getting started for everyone. The children soon got the chance to experience a live dolphin and sea lion show for the next 45 minutes. The acts by the dolphins and seals literally held the audience spellbound. Adding to the excitement, four children were selected to touch the dolphins, courtesy the Fakieh Aquarium staff members.
With so many activities in the space of four hours, it was time for lunch. By the end of zuhr prayer, Arab News took everyone to the Red Sea Mall where they enjoyed burgers, fries, sandwiches and drinks sponsored by Al Baik. Located on the top floor, with great surroundings, the staff of Al Baik made sure children had fresh and hot food to end their day on a delicious note. For many families, it was their first-ever, as well as amazing, experience.

Oops: UK astronaut calls wrong number from space

file-26-wrong number.jpg
British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted an apology on Christmas Day from the International Space Station after calling a wrong number.
He wrote “I’d like to apologize to the lady I just called by mistake saying ‘Hello, is this planet Earth?’ — not a prank call — just a wrong number!“
The 43-year-old former army helicopter pilot did not say who he was calling. Since he’s Britain’s first publicly funded astronaut and the first Briton to visit the space station, millions of Britons have been following his mission closely.
Peake has also used Twitter to send Christmas greetings.

Drug Addiction Can Get Your Brain Hooked Over Time

People with addiction have problems in controlling their drug taking behavior. They yearn and seek out drugs, alcohol, or other substances at any cost— regardless of its consequences that comprises; damaging friendships, hurting family, or losing jobs. At this point, we must stop and ask ourselves why addiction makes people behave in such ruinous ways. And why is it so hard to quit?
Many things influence the development of an addiction. While we do not yet know how these different influences combine to develop an addiction, we do know there are two basic types. One type of influence is biological forces, such a person's genetics. The second type is environmental influences. This includes people's life experiences. Early life experiences, interpersonal relationships, and culture can heavily influence us.
The fact is, every drug user starts out as an occasional user, and that first use is a voluntary and controllable decision. But as time passes and drug use continues, a person turns from being a voluntary to an obsessive drug user. This change occurs because over time, use of addictive drugs changes the brain in destructive ways that can result in compulsive and even uncontrollable drug use.
When they first use a drug, people may perceive what seem to be positive effects; they also may believe that they can control their use. However, drugs can quickly take over a person’s life. Over time, if drug use continues, other pleasurable activities become less pleasurable, and taking the drug becomes necessary for the user just to feel “normal.” They may then compulsively seek and take drugs even though it causes tremendous problems for themselves and their loved ones. Some people may start to feel the need to take higher or more frequent doses, even in the early stages of their drug use. These are the telltale signs of an addiction.
Addiction is unlike many medical diseases where we spot certain germ or defect that caused the disease. By understanding the cause of the disease, we can develop treatments or even a cure. And similarly by understanding the causes of addiction, we can help someone recover from addiction by developing and testing these models. This leads to effective treatments
Even relatively moderate drug use poses a threat. Consider how a normal drug user can become intoxicated, get behind the wheel of a car, and quickly turn a enjoyable activity into a disaster that affects many lives.
It is important not to walk the deadly path of drugs; however if you stepped in try quickly move out. Help and guidance is available, and cure and recovery are achievable.

Once again, giant Yule goat burns in Sweden

The straw goat is a beloved Christmas symbol in the city of Gavle, in central Sweden. However, it’s also become a tradition of sorts to burn it down.
This year’s edition lasted nearly a month on a downtown square before going up in flames.
Police said they arrested a suspect wearing a balaclava and clothes reeking of lighter fluid. His face was covered in soot and his hair damaged by fire.
Police said he would be questioned once he sobered up.
The goat is an ancient Scandinavian Yuletide tradition that preceded Santa Claus as the bringer of gifts.

'Un-Islamic' vaping catches fire in Malaysia amid govt backlash

KUALA LUMPUR: At Malaysian e-cigarette outlet Vape Empire, customers kick back and puff out thick, aromatic clouds of vapor in funky flavors like Horny Mango and Creamy Suckerz’ Banana Anna.
“Vaping” is soaring in popularity in Malaysia, the largest e-cigarette market in the Asia-Pacific region, but authorities are threatening to ban the habit for health reasons — a move that has sparked anger from growing legions of aficionados.
Backing a ban, Malaysian religious leaders this month declared a fatwa on the “un-Islamic” habit, but it remains to be seen whether the decree will dampen enthusiasm.
“The business is growing very fast because there are many people trying to convert from tobacco smoking to vaping,” Vape Empire’s co-founder Muhammad Sharifuddin Esa said, adding that his business has expanded to 57 locations since it opened just two years ago.
The pastime has proved a particular hit in the moderate, Muslim-majority nation, where other vices such as alcohol and drugs are especially frowned upon.
Now several Malaysian states say they may impose a ban from January 1 and have threatened to stop issuing new merchants’ licenses — a potential blow to a sector worth an estimated 2.8 billion ringgit ($650 million) last year, according to reports.

'Just regulate, don't ban'
The industry, which is expected to grow by more than 13 percent year-on-year to 2025, is currently unregulated, and many say forbidding e-cigarettes — already outlawed in Thailand and Singapore for health reasons — is a big mistake.
“The government must regulate and not ban, because vaping is the future,” Sharifuddin said.
Research on health risks remains split and like Malaysia, few countries have introduced national legislation to regulate the sector.
The devices function by heating flavoured nicotine liquid — or e-juice — into a vapor that is inhaled, much like traditional cigarettes but without the smoke.
Some experts warn vaping can produce cancer-causing formaldehyde and one US study said vaping is up to 15 times more harmful than traditional tobacco smoking. The World Health Organization has called on governments to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
But other research suggests vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes and manufacturers tout them as harmless aids to quit tobacco.
Enthusiasts in Malaysia say banning the habit doesn’t make economic sense.
“Vaping communities are fighting for their rights because the vape scene actually brings profits to the country,” said Muhammad Imman, marketing manager of the colorfully named Fcuking Flava vape shop, one of thousands that have popped up across the country.
Marketers cater to local tastes, selling e-juice flavoured with snake fruit, lychee and even durian, the notoriously pungent Southeast Asian fruit.
The juices are marketed like single-malt whiskies or perfumes, as seen at a recent vaping convention in Kuala Lumpur, their creators extolling organic and other premium ingredients.
Aficionados gather daily in Malaysia’s vape shops, sometimes for “cloud chasing” competitions to see who can produce the biggest vapor puffs and to show off vape prowess by blowing rings into the foggy air.

Different flavors
Some agree there is a greater need for quality control to keep dodgy DIY e-juice from entering the market and to ensure e-cigarette devices aren’t used for smoking drugs like marijuana.
A growing number of amateur merchants have emerged across the country, where about a million people smoke e-cigarettes, a five-fold surge since last year, according to the Malaysia E-Vaporizers and Tobacco Alternative Association (MEVTA) activist group.
Making e-juice is a simple process that involves mixing readily available ingredients — water, flavouring, nicotine and other easy-to-access chemical compounds.
On a Kuala Lumpur street recently, a vendor set up a table arrayed with a range of flavors, from guava to lychee on sale for about 30 ringgit ($7).
“Mine are the best,” he boasted to passing office workers.
But some bottles looked old and reused, and he was tight-lipped on the e-juice’s origin.
Other more mainstream Malaysian manufacturers have struck deals to distribute their goods elsewhere in Asia and as far afield as Europe, as Malaysian flavors become popular overseas.
The habit doesn’t appear to be losing steam at home, especially among former smokers.
“I actually have reduced the level of nicotine when I vape,” said officer worker Nicolas Chan, speaking between puffs on his lunch break.
“I feel better and have more energy after quitting cigarettes and starting to vape.”

Israel rejects novel on Arab-Jewish love from curriculum

file-31-dorit combo.jpg
JERUSALEM: Israel’s education ministry has disqualified a book depicting a love story between an Israeli and a Palestinian from school curriculums, prompting an outcry from cultural figures.
The education ministry said Thursday that Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan’s “Gader Haya” (translated as “Borderlife” in English) had been rejected for inclusion in school curriculums.
“Officials discussed the matter of including the book in the curriculum,” the ministry said in a statement.
“After it seriously examined all the considerations, and weighed the advantages and drawbacks, they decided not to include the book in the curriculum.”
The ministry provided no further details on the rejection of the book, which Israeli media reported had been recommended for inclusion by a ministry-backed committee.
But newspaper Haaretz quoted an education ministry official, Dalia Penig, saying one of the reasons for the exclusion was that the book could undermine the “separate identities” of Jews and Arabs.
“Intimate relations... between Jews and non-Jews — are viewed by many in society as a threat to separate identities,” she said.
That prompted objections from Israeli cultural figures, many of whom have long been at loggerheads with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who formed a new rightwing government following his re-election in May.
Writing in Haaretz, commentator Alon Idan said the move was aimed at “protecting the purity of Jewish blood” and reflected “institutionalized race theory.”
“’Intimate relations’ = sex. ‘Non-Jews’ = Arabs,’” Idan wrote. “Now we can reread her words in their simpler form: Jews and Arabs are forbidden to have sex with one another.”
“Gader Haya,” published in 2014, tells the story of an Israeli translator and a Palestinian artist who fall in love in New York but later part ways as she returns to the Israeli city of Tel Aviv and he to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
It was among the winners of the Bernstein Prize for young writers — an annual Israeli award for Hebrew literature.
After requests to include it from a number of teachers, a committee initially backed its addition to the curriculum but was later overruled by two senior ministry officials, Haaretz said.
Author Rabinyan, quoted in the Israeli media, sarcastically pointed to the positives to draw from the ruling.
“It looks like someone in the education ministry still believes in the power of literature to generate change in the malleable souls of youths, and for some reason, that sounds optimistic to me.”
The left-wing Meretz party called for a demonstration outside the education ministry over the disqualification, the latest in a series of disputes between the government and cultural figures.
In June Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the rightwing Jewish Home party, pulled state funding from an Arab play which he alleged showed a Palestinian attacker in a sympathetic light.
The country’s most famous living author, Amos Oz, declared in November he will not attend events at Israeli embassies across the globe due to the government’s “radical” policies.

US university’s 41st list of words it would like to banish

Professors at Lake Superior State University (LSSU) in the United States first came up with list of words and phrases that people love to hate at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. It was published on Jan. 1, 1976.
Five decades later, LSSU continues to receive nominations from the public of their own pet peeves about language.
Below is LSSU's 41st annual list of words nominated for banishment by members of the public:
— So
— Join the conversation
— Break the Internet
— Walk it back
— Presser
— Manspreading
— Problematic
— Stakeholder
— Price point
— Secret sauce
— Vape
— Giving me life
— Physicality

Japanese research institute earns right to name element 113

TOKYO: A team of Japanese scientists have met the criteria for naming a new element, the synthetic highly radioactive element 113, more than a dozen years after they began working to create it.
Kosuke Morita, who was leading the research at the government-affiliated Riken Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science, was notified of the decision on Thursday by the US-based International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
“Now that we have conclusively demonstrated the existence of element 113, we plan to look to the unchartered territory of element 119 and beyond,” Morita said in a statement.
A joint working group of the IUPAC and International Union of Pure and Applied Physics also announced decisions on recognition of discoveries of elements 115, 117 and 118.
Discoveries of atomic elements have often involved competition between scientists. The news is a morale booster for Riken, which has undergone a reorganization of some of its research following a scandal over stem-cell research.
“To scientists, this is of greater value than an Olympic gold medal,” Ryoji Noyori, former Riken president and Nobel laureate in chemistry told reporters.
Riken had earlier said japonium might be proposed as a name for element 113, which provisionally had been named ununtrium.
However, Morita has no specific candidates under consideration. He said he planned to spend part of next year considering a name for the element.
The IUPAC group gave collaborating teams from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee the right to name elements 115 and 117. Separately, scientists from the Dubna laboratory and Lawrence Livermore were invited to name element 118.
Element 113 sits between copernicium and flerovium on the periodic table. A joint team of scientists in Russia and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US also were vying for naming rights for 113 after announcing its discovery in 2004

Brush with talent: Blind female artist in limelight

RIYADH: A female Saudi artist with a visual disability has stunned people attending an exhibition here with the display of several paintings, including one which sold for SR8,000.
Noorah Al-Majrashi has been showing her artwork at the “Muntijoon 3” exhibition at the Riyadh convention center.
She has now produced 300 paintings during her short career.
Al-Majrashi, who has entitled her exhibition “White Glass,” said that she began painting at the age of just nine, encouraged by her mother and family.
She loves painting scenes from nature, and uses special tools for her work.
She recently produced a special painting to honor one of her close friends who died of cancer, according to the report.
Al-Majrashi said that she was taking part in the exhibition because she found it a suitable place to showcase her talent.
There have also been requests from some members of the public for her to produce special paintings.
Muntijoon 3 is an annual exhibition organized by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, known for showcasing the talents of Saudi women and assisting them to sell their products.

Stars beat Predators 5-1 to extend Central lead

DALLAS: Dallas extended its lead atop the NHL Central Division to nine points by beating Nashville 5-1 on Thursday, helped by rookie Mattias Janmark scoring his sixth December goal to break a tie late in the second period.
Tyler Seguin added two insurance goals in the third period for the Stars, who boosted their lead over St. Louis, who lost at home against Minnesota.
Third-placed Chicago closed in on St. Louis by winning in overtime at Colorado, while Washington missed a chance to broaden its already significant lead in the Metropolitan Division by losing at Carolina, ending a run on nine straight victories.
Dallas’ Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves also scored for the Stars, who moved one point ahead of East-leading Washington in the overall league standings.
The Stars kept up their record of not losing consecutive games all season, having dropped their previous game at Columbus.
Craig Smith briefly gave Nashville the lead in the second period.
Minnesota’s Erik Haula broke a personal 18-game scoring drought by putting the Wild ahead to stay en route to a 3-1 victory over St. Louis.
Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves while Nino Niederreiter and Thomas Vanek also scored to help the Wild start a four-game trip with just their sixth road win of the season.
Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues’ leading scorer, sat out the game with a stomach ailment. St. Louis had won seven of its previous eight home games against Minnesota.
Carolina’s Eric Staal scored the go-ahead goal in the first minute of the third period and the Hurricanes went on to beat Washington 4-2.
Phillip Di Giuseppe, Jeff Skinner and Andrej Nestrasil also scored, and Eddie Lack made 30 saves for the Hurricanes.
Alex Ovechkin had his 21st goal of the season for Washington, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews scored a power-play goal at 3:29 of overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over Colorado.
Patrick Kane extended his NHL points lead with a goal and two assists while Artem Anisimov and Andrew Desjardins also scored for Chicago, which snapped a four-game losing skid against Colorado.
Carl Soderberg and Cody McLeod scored for Colorado and Erik Johnson netted to send the game to overtime and earn the Avalanche a point.
Los Angeles wrapped up a perfect four-game road trip with a 4-1 win at Calgary.
Leading 1-0, the Kings opened up a three-goal cushion early in the second period on goals 78 seconds apart.
Tyler Toffoli curled out from behind the goal and put a shot on net that the goalie stopped, but Milan Lucic swatted in the rebound.
Marian Gaborik, Andy Andreoff and Tanner Pearson, into an empty net, also scored for the Kings, who opened a 12-point lead over San Jose in the Pacific Division; their biggest division lead in franchise history.
Mark Giordano scored for Calgary.
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored goals 34 seconds apart in the third period to help lift the Penguins to a 5-2 win over Detroit.
New York’s Nikolay Kulemin scored for the third straight game as the Islanders defeated Buffalo 2-1.
Arizona’s Shane Doan scored twice and passed Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk for the franchise career goals record as the Coytes beat Winnipeg 4-2.
Anaheim goalie John Gibson made 21 saves for his second consecutive shutout, leading the Ducks to a 1-0 win against Edmonton.

Clemson, Alabama face off in college football title game

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida: Clemson will meet Alabama in college football’s championship game after both recorded convincing victories in Thursday’s decisive bowl games.
Clemson, chasing its second national title — the other was in 1981 — beat Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl, with quarterback Deshaun Watson running for one touchdown, passing for another and accounting for 332 yards.
Alabama cruised past Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl to keep the Crimson Tide on target for a fourth national title in nine years. Quarterback Jake Coker found Calvin Ridley for two touchdowns as Alabama broke the shackles in the second quarter and won in a canter.
The title decider will be played on Jan. 11 in Arizona.
Clemson (14-0) dominated the second half and shut down Oklahoma’s high-scoring offense that had averaged 52 points over its last seven games. The Sooners (11-2) actually came into the game as favorites, but the Tigers showed their perfect record was no fluke.
Watson got off to a slow start passing, but came back to complete 16 of 31 for 187 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow that gave Clemson some breathing room late in the third quarter.
Watson carried the running load in the early going, finishing with 145 yards on 24 carries and scoring the Tigers’ first touchdown on a 5-yard run.
Clemson sacked Baker Mayfield five times and held the Sooners to 121 yards over the final two quarters. Clemson piled up 550 yards in the game.
Alabama (13-1) looked like a team with no weaknesses against overmatched Michigan State (12-2).
Coker, who sat on the bench most of last season, was nearly perfect. He completed 25 of 30 passes for 286 yards.
Ridley was brilliant, streaking by defenders on deep throws and outfighting them on jump balls. He caught eight passes for 138 yards.
Jonathan Allen and the ferocious Tide defensive front sacked Connor Cook four times and allowed the Spartans only one trip into the red zone — which ended with Cyrus Jones interception at the goal line.
Jones added a high-stepping 57-yard punt return touchdown for the Tide, and Alabama hardly even had to use Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The big tailback who has carried the offense most of the season was mostly just a role player against a defense stacked to stop him. He ran for 75 yards and scored two touchdowns. The last made it 38-0 halfway through the fourth quarter.
In the day’s other bowl game, which had no impact on the national title, Houston beat turnover-plagued Florida State 38-24 in the Peach Bowl.
Greg Ward Jr. ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score. He threw for 238 yards and ran for 67 yards as Houston (13-1) scored the most points against Florida State this season.
The Seminoles (10-3), who trailed 21-3 at halftime, tried to rally with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Sean Maguire. It wasn’t enough to overcome five turnovers.
Maguire, who was carted off the field with a lower left leg injury late in the first quarter, returned but threw four interceptions. Houston safety Trevon Stewart and cornerback William Jackson III each had two interceptions.

19th Kanoo Inter-Division League kicks off

JEDDAH: The 19th Kanoo Inter-Division Cricket Tournament kicked off last week with tremendous excitement among the participating teams and players.
The tournament is sponsored by Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo Group Jeddah for its employees and associates and subsidiaries companies and co-sponsored by Maersk Sealand (Mercantile Shipping) and AXA Insurance as part of the Group’s corporate social responsibility to encourage sports in general and cricket in particular. It serves the employees keep to be physically and mentally fit for the betterment of the company. The employees of Kanoo Group are grateful to the management in Western Province and particularly to Sheikh Ahmed Fawzi Kanoo for their keen interest in encouraging such activities which gives employees opportunity to interact with each other and thereby boost their morale.

In a departure from tournaments past to be played this year are 6-a side and regular T15 over league cum knock-out matches. The 7 teams entered are: BDP, Finance, Logistics, Machinery, Maersk Lion, Power & Industrial Project and Travel who will be vying at the Sulamaniyah grounds for the coveted Kanoo Inter-Division Cup.

1st match Maersk Lion vs BDP: Maersk Lions set a target of 53 runs thanks to Nawab 19 and Ashfaq 09. Good bowling attack by Izan (2 for 4) and Shamun (1 for 5). In reply BDP player Hameen 20 and Fahim 12 batted well but lower order could not cope up with the asking rate and BDP were restricted to 44 to give the Lions a win by 8 runs. Man of the Match: Izaan Ahmad of Maersk Lions 2 wickets for 4 runs.

2nd match BDP vs. Logistics: BDP openers Fahim (33 runs) and Oliver (16 runs) were able to score 74 runs in 5 overs. In reply Logistics batsmen Wahid blasted his way to a superb knock of 39 runs (3 sixes, 4 fours) with support from Siraj, Wahid and Imran who batted coolly and sensibly to enable their team achieve the target of 75 in 4.4 overs with 3 wickets in hand. Man of the Match: Wahid Khan 39 not out

3rd Match Maersk Lions vs. Logistics: Despite losing early wickets Maersk Lion managed to score 47 due to superb bowling of Shiras from Logistics who took 4 for 12. In reply Logistics reached the target of 47runs comfortably with Shiras scoring an unbeaten 42 runs to give Logistics their 2nd win. Man of the Match: Shiras 42Not Out and 4 for 12 runs.

4th Match Travel vs. Finance: Travel scored a sizeable score of 104 in 5 overs against Finance. Azam displayed an excellent innings scoring an unbeaten 45 runs with (5 fours, 2 sixes) and was well supported by Mubeen 27 and Yasas 22 not out. In reply Finance team could not cope up with the asking rate of over 20 and were bundled out for 66 runs only with Tuan Kamoor (25) and Amin (29) remaining unbeaten as Travel won by 38 runs. Man of the Match: Azam of Travel 45 runs.

5th Match Logistics vs. Finance: Finance managed to score 79 with Kamoor (15), Azaz (25) and Amin (23) going for the kill. In reply Logistics batsmen Mohd Inshaf scored the fastest 23 runs to take his team on the verge of victory. Needing 5 off the last ball Wahid Khan hit a six and took Logistics to 80 for 3 wicket. Man of the Match: Mohammed Inshaf 23 runs.

Australia set to test twin spin attack against Windies

SYDNEY: Australia look set to field two specialist spinners at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) for the first time in a decade when they host West Indies in a dead rubber New Year’s Test starting this weekend.
An inexperienced and demoralized West Indies touring party succumbed by an innings and 212 runs in Hobart and 177 runs in Melbourne to hand their hosts an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
That position, and the likelihood of a turning wicket at the SCG, have encouraged Australia to test out the twin spin option of Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe ahead of their tour of Sri Lanka later this year.
That the hosts can afford to put out an experimental side in one of the more venerable fixtures in the Australian sporting calendar is not to say there will be nothing at stake when the match gets underway on Sunday (1030 GMT).
For West Indies there is pride and a chance to show more of the fighting spirit that stalled Australia’s victory match in the Boxing Day test in Melbourne last weekend.
A 3-0 sweep, meanwhile, would send Australia above India to second in the Test rankings and they would return to the summit if England can maintain a winning start and beat South Africa in their ongoing four-match series.
Off-spinner Lyon is one of the first names on the Australian team sheet these days and he looks like being joined by left-arm finger spinner O’Keefe in the Australian line-up.
That was made all the more likely when seamer Peter Siddle failed to train on Friday because of an ankle injury, leaving his place in the team in jeopardy.
O’Keefe’s inclusion for his second Test — his first on home soil — would make it the first time Australia have played twin spinners at the SCG since Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill took on South Africa at the ground in 2006.
Josh Hazlewood is likely to back up for a sixth straight test alongside James Pattinson in the pace attack with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh offering support with his quickening medium pace deliveries after taking 4-61 in Melbourne.
While Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin and skipper Jason Holder showed some resistance with the bat in Melbourne, the paucity of the West Indies bowling is starkly illustrated by the fact that they have taken just 10 wickets over the first two Tests.
Given how little pressure their pace attack have managed to exert on Australia so far in the series, West Indies might consider their own twin spin attack by bringing in leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo alongside left-arm orthodox Jomel Warrican.

Amir vow in return: wickets and love

The 23-year-old left-armer, who is set to make his international comeback less than four months after completing a five-year ban, remains a polarizing figure for Pakistan’s cricket-mad public and even some teammates.
Last week Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali left a training camp which Amir was attending in protest at his prospective selection. They were later forced to return after being threatened with disciplinary action.
In an interview with AFP, Amir said he was confident most fans were on his side.
“I am sure fans will love me,” he said. “But even if there are taunts and harsh remarks I am ready for that and will do my best to reply to them with love and by taking wickets.”
Pakistan will play three Twenty20s and as many one-day internationals in New Zealand later this month.
Amir’s inclusion however remains contingent on him being issued a visa by New Zealand — a potential hurdle given his criminal conviction for his role in arranging deliberate no-balls during Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010, along with two others.
After pleading guilty to conspiracy to cheat at gambling and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments, Amir was handed a six-month jail sentence at the Feltham Young Offenders Institution but was released after three months.
He said: “I have toured New Zealand before and know they love the game and they are so caring and loving, so I don’t expect anything untoward from them.
“I am sure they will adore me,” he added.
Before his suspension Amir was regarded as one of the hottest properties in international cricket, having taken 51 wickets in 14 Tests and 25 in 15 one-day internationals, as well as 23 wickets in 18 Twenty20 matches.
Since his ban was relaxed in April last year and completely lifted in September, he has seemingly picked up where he left off, taking 86 wickets in 21 domestic four-day and Twenty20 games.
Amir said he was grateful he had been handed a second innings in cricket.
“It’s very difficult to get a second chance, so it’s a big thing from my country, officials and fans that they have given me another chance,” he said.
“When my ban was relaxed I began playing club cricket. Imagine, for a person who had played at Lord’s, to play with a club team who didn’t have proper kit against another club team in Lahore.
“One of the three stumps was broken and we played with a 300 rupee ($3) ball, but that match helped me concentrate on putting the bad times behind me.”
Also returning to the squad is fast bowler Umar Gul, who last played for Pakistan on the tour of Bangladesh in April 2014.
The three Twenty20s will take place on Jan. 15, 17 and 22, while the ODIs will be played on Jan. 25, 28 and 31.
Twenty20 Squad: Shahid Afridi (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Sohaib Maqsood, Sarfraz Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Aamer Yamin, Umar Gul, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Amir, Saad Nasim
One-day squad: Azhar Ali (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sohaib Maqsood, Zafar Gohar, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir

Sharapova takes on Makarova in Brisbane first round

BRISBANE: Maria Sharapova will open her Australian campaign with a match against Ekaterina Makarova following Friday’s draw for the Brisbane International.
Defending champion and third seed Sharapova will play world number 23 Makarova in a rematch from last year’s Australian Open semifinal.
“This was a grand slam semifinal last year in Australia,” five-time grand slam champion Sharapova told reporters.
“For a first match, it’s a pretty high-quality match against a pretty tough opponent.”
World number four Sharapova, 28, who beat Ana Ivanovic in last year’s Brisbane final, leads Makarova 6-0 in their past meetings.
World number two and top seed Simona Halep has drawn a bye for her opening round but could face two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka in the second round.
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza is the second seed. After a first-round bye she will face either American Varvara Lepchenko or Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
The women’s field boasts nine of the world’s top 20 as well as former world number ones Azarenka and Jelena Jankovic.
In the men’s draw, Australian wildcard Ben Mitchell or a qualifier are in line to become Roger Federer’s first opponent in 2016.
The 17-time grand slam champion Federer will receive a first-up bye.
Australia’s seventh seed Bernard Tomic will take on Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the first round.
The tournament begins on Sunday.

Loeb the pretender eyes Al-Attiyah’s Dakar crown

BUENOS AIRES: Nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb will add some extra spice to this year’s Dakar Rally in which Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah will bid to defend his title in Argentina and Bolivia.
The Frenchman will seek to follow in the footsteps of Ari Vatanen, who won the Dakar in his first attempt in 1987, back when it was raced in Africa.
After Peru pulled out as one of the hosts of this edition in August, citing concerns over the El Nino weather phenomenon, the rally will be raced in Argentina and Bolivia, an 11km prologue kicking off proceedings on Saturday.
Loeb has been racing in the World Touring Car Championship since effectively retiring from WRC rallying after the last of his nine consecutive world titles in 2012.
The 41-year-old, who has made the odd appearance in rallies since quitting the WRC world championship circuit — even winning in Monte Carlo and Argentina in 2013 — will race a Peugeot 2008 DKR, having raced almost exclusively for another French manufacturer, Citroen.
Team Peugeot will enter three other cars, Loeb joining Stephane Peterhansel (11th in 2015), Carlos Sainz (DNF) and Cyril Despres (34th).
“The Dakar is very different from the type of racing I am concentrating on these days,” admitted Loeb.
“It will be very long, more than two weeks! And I will need endurance to manage the car over such a distance. It is another approach to racing. I will learn all about it in January.”
Loeb added that he had been impressed by the Peugeot car and will be accompanied by long-time co-driver Daniel Elena, who is also a rally-raid novice.
“When I test drove the Peugeot in June, it impressed me straight away. And it has evolved tremendously since then,” the Frenchman said.
The man to beat is Al-Attiyah, the two-time Dakar champion (2011 and 2015) who will start the race in Buenos Aires as the favorite for the 2016 edition, in which he will be driving a Mini.
The Qatari won the 2015 edition with more than 35 minutes to spare over the closest competitor.
That winning form has continued, Al-Attiyah dominating the world of rally raids by claiming victory in the rallies of Qatar, Egypt and Morocco, as well as the Hungary, Italy and Poland Bajas, easily winning the sport’s world cup, and taking new titles in WRC 2 and the Middle East Championship.
While a clear favorite, there are no certainties in the gruelling Dakar, where the race can be turned on its head any second even for the best car in the rally.
“Peugeot have some really good names in the team and especially some very good drivers, but I still think that the car is completely new and will take time to develop,” Al-Attiyah told
“It will be a good car one day, but maybe now is a bit soon to win. However, the team has really looked like it’s going in the right direction and we’ll see at the next Dakar. Obviously I hope I can beat them.”
Al-Attiyah was clear about his race tactics, saying he aimed to mirror last year’s efforts when he took the lead on the second leg and ceded nothing.
“If you look at the last Dakar, there is actually a reason why we picked up a time penalty on the first day. That was so we could start seventh on day two. From this starting point we could get a really good time.
“We improved every day without any mistakes and by the finish we were leading by more than half-an-hour. It was a good plan and we’d like to do something similar at this Dakar, but every race is a different one.”
Al-Attiyah will also face ferocious competition from within Mini itself: 2014 winner Nani Roma and ambitious Orly Terranova (5th in 2013 and 2014) pose the greatest danger among the record-breaking 13 crews fielded by X-Raid, including Guerlain Chicherit’s “Zebra” buggy.
Toyota Gazoo features other pretenders to the crown, especially 2009 champion and last year’s runner-up Giniel de Villiers.

Real Madrid visits Valencia in test for struggling coaches

BARCELONA: Rafa Benitez held on to his job last year but faces another tough test of his coaching credentials on Sunday when Real Madrid visits Valencia for its first Spanish league game of 2016.
Benitez has been the focus of criticism from disgruntled fans for Madrid’s unpredictable campaign, which has included a lopsided loss to fierce rival Barcelona and its embarrassing disqualification from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player.
Madrid travels to Mestalla Stadium after two easy victories at its own Santiago Bernabeu home that failed to win over its most skeptical supporters, some of whom jeered Benitez.
Madrid defender Pepe has called for calm.
“We have to let our coach continue to improve,” Pepe said. “If a new manager came, we’d have to adapt to new systems and that isn’t good. We should save the evaluations for the end of the season.”
Madrid has struggled on the road this season, dropping points on four of eight of its outings. Its last away game ended in a 1-0 loss at Villarreal.
Madrid is in third place, two points behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Defending champion Barcelona has played one less game than its rivals.
Here are some more things to know about the 18th round of La Liga:

Benitez’s counterpart on Sunday is also in need of a victory.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville’s coaching debut has got off to an uninspiring start.
Valencia has only beaten a third-division side in the Copa del Rey since he took over. Otherwise, the team has recorded a pair of draws and two losses, including a poor showing in a 1-0 league defeat at regional rival Villarreal on Thursday. That loss left Valencia 10th — and 11 points from the Champions League spots.
“The team is united and we are trying to get a win as soon as possible,” said Valencia striker Alvaro Negredo. “January will be a key month.”

Barcelona makes the short trip across the Catalan capital to play the first of three derbies against Espanyol on Saturday.
The two clubs will also meet in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey over the next two weeks.
Barcelona will be heavily favored to continue its record form of 2015, when Luis Enrique’s team won five titles and set a new record — 180 — for goals scored.
The strike trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez combined for 137 of those goals. Suarez is leading the league this campaign with 15, followed by Neymar and Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo with 14 each.
Espanyol’s defense is the fourth worst in the competition with 28 goals conceded. Only the three teams in the relegation zone have conceded more.

Atletico Madrid hosts last-place Levante on Saturday before facing a difficult run of matches in the rest of January.
Diego Simeone’s team then plays at Celta Vigo and Las Palmas, returns home against Sevilla, and finishes the month at Barcelona’s Camp Nou.
Levante has lost four of its last five, scoring just two goals in that stretch, while Atletico has the best defense in the league with only eight goals conceded.

Other than Madrid at Valencia, the most intriguing fixture of the round promises to be Deportivo La Coruna hosting Villarreal on Sunday.
Villarreal heads to Riazor on the strength of four consecutive wins that have pushed it into fourth place.
Deportivo, meanwhile, is the surprise side of the season. Led by striker Lucas Perez and his 12 goals, it is in sixth place after not losing in eight rounds.
On Saturday, fifth-place Celta plays at a resurgent Malaga that has won three straight

No Curry, no problem as Warriors ground Rockets

HOUSTON: Klay Thompson scored 38 points, Draymond Green had a triple-double and the Golden State Warriors overcame star Stephen Curry’s absence to beat the Houston Rockets 114-110 on Thursday.
Golden State was blown out by Dallas on Wednesday night for just its second loss of the season when Curry missed his first game since March because of a sore left lower leg. But the Warriors were able to outlast the Rockets thanks to the big night by Thompson, who made six 3-pointers.
Green had a career-high 16 assists to go along with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
James Harden had 30 points for Houston, which has dropped seven straight regular-season games to Golden State. Dwight Howard had 21 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Shaun Livingston made his second start of the season in place of Curry, who was injured Monday night against Sacramento. Interim coach Luke Walton said Curry was feeling better Thursday, but was not ready to play.
Thunder 110 Suns 106: In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook had 36 points and 12 assists, and Oklahoma City held off Phoenix for the Suns’ seventh straight loss.
Kevin Durant scored 23 points for Oklahoma City, which has won three straight and 12 of 14. Westbrook also had five steals and blocked a shot.
The Suns had six players score in double figures. T.J. Warren had 29 points and nine rebounds, and P.J. Tucker scored 22 points.
Tyson Chandler, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix, made a tying layup with 1:34 left. But Durant scored on a fadeaway jumper and got free for a dunk that made it 106-102 with 31.7 seconds remaining.
Clippers 95 Pelicans 89: In New Orleans, J.J. Redick scored 26 points for a second straight night, Chris Paul closed out a poor shooting performance with pivotal plays in the final minutes, and the Clippers capped an unbeaten five-game trip.
Paul missed 15 of his first 17 shots, but hit a 19-foot step-back jumper with a minute to go to give Los Angeles a 90-87 lead. Before and after that score, Paul assisted on baskets by Jamal Crawford. Paul, who finished with 12 assists, then added three free throws in the final 21 seconds.
DeAndre Jordan had 20 rebounds and 11 points, and Crawford added 15 points for Los Angeles.
Anthony Davis had 14 points and 15 rebounds for New Orleans, and Ryan Anderson scored 17 points.
Bucks 120 Pacers 116: In Indianapolis, Khris Middleton scored 33 points, and the Bucks stopped a three-game losing streak.
Greg Monroe added 23 points for Milwaukee, which shot 58 percent (45 for 77) from the field. Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and reserve Jerryd Bayless had 14 points apiece.
Indiana’s 20 turnovers led to 35 points for the Bucks.
Paul George led the Pacers with 31 points. George Hill added 15 points and six rebounds.
Pistons 115 Timberwolves 90: In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Andre Drummond had 23 points and 18 rebounds and Reggie Jackson added 19 points and nine assists, leading Detroit to the win.
Drummond came out with just over three minutes to play, narrowly missing his sixth 20-20 game of the season. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 22 points for the Pistons, who had lost three in a row.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Andrew Wiggins had 21 points. Minnesota was coming off a 94-80 victory over Utah on Wednesday night.
Detroit had a 78-70 lead after three, and Anthony Tolliver made two 3-pointers to help increase the advantage to 87-72 with 10:30 left.
Jazz 109 Trail Blazers 96: In Salt Lake City, Trey Burke scored a season-high 27 points, helping Utah cruise to the win.
Burke made 12 of 19 shots, and Gordon Hayward had 23 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Rodney Hood finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Utah had dropped three of four.
The Jazz grabbed control in the second quarter, outscoring the Blazers by 18 after the game was tied at 25 after one. Utah hit four 3-pointers during a 21-3 run.
Portland’s C.J. McCollum scored 32 points, including six 3-pointers. Meyers Leonard had 17, and Allen Crabbe added 15.

As 2016 dawns, refugee, migrant flows look set to continue

ATHENS, Greece: Bitter cold, biting winds and rough winter seas have done little to stem the seemingly endless flow of desperate people fleeing war or poverty for what they hope will be a brighter, safer future in Europe. As 2016 dawns, boatloads continue to reach Greek shores and thousands trudge across Balkan fields and country roads heading north.
More than a million people reached Europe in 2015 in the continent’s largest refugee influx since the end of World War II — a crisis that has tested European unity and threatened the vision of a borderless continent. Nearly 3,800 people are estimated to have drowned in the Mediterranean last year, making the journey to Greece or Italy in unseaworthy vessels packed far beyond capacity.
The European Union has pledged to bolster patrols on its external borders and quickly deport economic migrants, while Turkey has agreed to crack down on smugglers operating from its coastline. But those on the front lines of the crisis say the coming year promises to be difficult unless there is a dramatic change.
Greece has borne the brunt of the exodus, with more than 850,000 people reaching the country’s shores, nearly all arriving on Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast.
“The (migrant) flows continue unabated. And on good days, on days when the weather isn’t bad, they are increased,” Ioannis Mouzalas, Greece’s minister responsible for migration issues, told The Associated Press. “This is a problem and shows that Turkey wasn’t able — I’m not saying that they didn’t want — to respond to the duty and obligation it had undertaken to control the flows and the smugglers from its shores.”
Europe’s response to the crisis has been fractured, with individual countries, concerned about the sheer scale of the influx, introducing new border controls aimed at limiting the flow. The problem is compounded by the reluctance of many migrants’ countries of origin, such as Pakistan, to accept forcible returns.
“If measures are not taken to stop the flows from Turkey and if Europe doesn’t solve the problems of the returns as a whole, it will be a very difficult year,” Mouzalas warned.
Along the Balkan migrant route, an undetermined number of men, women and children considered economic migrants have found themselves stranded, their hopes of reaching prosperous northern EU countries dashed by recent border closures. Greece, with thousands of miles of coastline, is the only country that cannot feasibly block people from entering without breaking international laws about rescuing those in distress at sea.
“It’s a bad sign, this unabated flow that continues,” Mouzalas said. “It creates difficulties for us, as the borders have closed for particular categories of people and there is a danger they will be trapped here.”
The number of those estimated to be stuck in Greece runs in the thousands. Mohammed Abusaid is one of them.
A baby-faced 27-year-old Moroccan electrician, Abusaid left home with dreams of finding work in Germany or even the United States.
Like tens of thousands before him, he made his way with a group of friends to Turkey and then braved the short but perilous sea crossing to the Greek island of Lesbos in early November.
From there, they headed north only to discover the Macedonian border was only open to those from war-wracked Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. The young Moroccans now spend their nights huddling for warmth in a tent beneath a straggly tree outside Athens’ old airport.
“I’m living here like a tramp. But I’m not a tramp,” Abusaid said quietly. “I’m single, my parents are old. I want to look for work. We don’t cause trouble, we just want to work.”
But Abusaid finds himself trapped in a country wracked by a five-year financial crisis that has left unemployment hovering around 25 percent. Desperate, cold and hungry, two of his friends have opted for the voluntary repatriation scheme offered by the International Organization for Migration and are heading home in early January. Abusaid says he’s pondering following suit.
But he still hopes to make it to northern Europe for a better life, and dreams of America. “I wish I could fly like a bird and go there.”
Inside the old airport complex, a shelter has been set up in a former Olympic Games hockey venue but access is limited to vulnerable groups, particularly after theft, looting and fights were reported among groups of men.
“We realize it is very difficult for the new government to handle all these elevated numbers,” said Chrysanthi Protogerou, director of the Greek Council for Refugees aid organization. “We were not well prepared and we continue not being well prepared. . What we would like to propose is to have better coordination, to make an even bigger effort, because the problem is becoming huge.”
Battered on the one side by a massive wave of desperate people risking their lives to reach its islands and on the other by border restrictions, Greece is struggling.
“It’s a situation to which we are being subjected without bearing any responsibility for it and without being able to control it,” said Mouzalas. “Whatever measures we take here, if on the Turkish side the smugglers increase the flows, we can’t cope. . We have a vast sea and countless islands. If a ground intervention occurs in Syria, we can’t deal with this wave of refugees.”
The problem, the beleaguered minister said, “is happening in Greece but it is a European problem and the solution must be a European one.”
Nearly all new arrivals are aiming for wealthy northern European countries, with Germany and Sweden the favorites. Both stood out for trying to maintain a generous welcome even as numbers swelled, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously proclaiming “we will manage it.”
Germany received about 1 million asylum-seekers this year and Sweden more than 150,000.
However, toward the end of the year even those two shifted course. Germany introduced border checks in September and Sweden in November. Sweden is now taking steps to keep people from even reaching the border and as of Monday will require passengers boarding Sweden-bound trains in neighboring Denmark to show ID. The crisis has strained relations between the Scandinavian neighbors.
Further down the migrant trail, refugees trickle steadily into Macedonia and Serbia, although authorities say numbers have decreased “drastically.”
In a Serbian refugee center in Presevo near the Macedonian border, a baby wearing a yellow cap and oversized gloves blinked in the winter sun while a woman slowly combed a girl’s long, black hair.
Although trains and buses are still crowded, Macedonia’s border controls seem to be working.
“The number of migrants going through has drastically declined,” said Presevo camp deputy manager Slobodan Savovic. “That means the numbers have more than halved when compared to September, when we had as much as 10,000 people per day.”

Firecrackers leave 1 dead, 380 injured in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines: Philippine officials say firecrackers have left at least one man dead, 380 other revelers injured and caused a fire that gutted 1,000 shanties, despite rains and a government scare campaign.
Health Secretary Janet Garin said Friday that a drunken man lit a dynamite-like firecracker called “Goodbye Philippines” and embraced it on New Year’s Eve, ripping his jaw and killing him.
Garin says the number of injured, while still alarming, was less than half of last year’s number because of rains late Thursday and government warnings that people risked limb amputations if they were injured by oversized firecrackers.
Fire officials also said a rocket lit by revelers set ablaze an abandoned hut and sparked a fire that razed about 1,000 shanties in Manila.

Rwandan president to seek third term

KIGALI: Rwandan President Paul Kagame declared Friday he will run for a third term in office after his second seven-year term expires in 2017, a move opposed by the US, a key ally.
The announcement in his end-of-year message follows last month’s constitutional referendum in which 98 percent of Rwandans voted to approve a revised Constitution to allow Kagame to extend his tenure in office.
“You requested me to lead the country again after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept,” Kagame said
Kagame became president in 2000 after being Rwanda’s de facto leader since the end of the country’s genocide in 1994. He is credited with stabilizing the country and promoting economic growth after the mass killings, but critics say he is an authoritarian ruler who does not tolerate opposition and he is accused of human rights abuses.
Rwanda’s political opposition criticized the referendum as undemocratic and the US, a key Rwandan ally, has opposed Kagame’s bid to stay in power.
Appearing to address that, Kagame said “even misguided or deliberately harmful criticism can be the start of a conversation ... what is important is that we respect each other.”
Other leaders in East and Central Africa have prolonged their rule.
In 2005, Ugandan lawmakers changed their Constitution, allowing President Yoweri Museveni to seek re-election in 2006 and 2011. He is running again in 2016.
Burundi has political violence that started in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for and won a third term that many oppose.

Ben Carson’s campaign manager, 20 staff quit

Barry Bennett, who oversaw Carson’s rapid rise to the top tier of Republican contenders and his later fall, said he quit over differences with another top adviser to Carson, Armstrong Williams.
Specifically, Bennett blamed Williams for an interview Carson gave last week to The Washington Post suggesting that the campaign was in disarray. “It’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a candidate do,” Bennett said.
Things had “boiled over” with Williams, Bennett told Reuters. “For the past seven weeks, I’ve been doing nothing but putting out Armstrong Williams-started fires,” Bennett said.
He also charged Williams was behind a story in The New York Times that suggested Carson was out of his depth on foreign policy.
Carson’s communications director, Doug Watts, also resigned due to differences with Williams, Bennett said. Some 20 staff in total left, he said. Among them was deputy campaign manager Lisa Coen.
Williams, a political commentator who holds no official role with the campaign, said he was “shocked” by Bennett’s criticism. “They’re giving me a lot more credit than I deserve,” he told Reuters.
He suggested Bennett and Watts left the campaign rather than be fired. “Right now, they’re upset and they need a scapegoat, and I’m the scapegoat,” Williams said.
Support for Carson has fallen ahead of the first contest — on Feb. 1 in the state of Iowa — for the Republican nomination in the Nov. 8 election.
The retired neurosurgeon now places fourth in many national opinion polls after surging into the second slot behind the front-runner, real estate mogul Donald Trump, in the autumn.
With the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, elevating national security concerns among voters, Carson has been criticized by rivals for his lack of foreign policy experience. He has never held elected office.
Craig Robinson, former political director for Iowa’s Republican Party, said Carson’s lack of visibility in Iowa damaged him even though he had the chance to capitalize on his much-touted status as a political outsider.
“All along, I’ve never really thought this was a serious presidential campaign in that it is actually operating and doing things to get elected,” Robinson said.

Russia sues Ukraine over default on $3bn debt

MOSCOW: Russia’s finance ministry said Friday it was suing Ukraine for defaulting on a $3-billion debt to Moscow, following an order by President Vladimir Putin.
Kiev is “in a state of default” regarding its obligations toward Moscow and legal proceedings would ensue, the ministry said.
“Russia’s finance ministry (...) has initiated procedures required for an immediate lawsuit against Ukraine,” the statement said, adding that the lawsuit would be heard in a British court.
Ukraine announced last month it would not make the payment on its debt to Moscow after Putin vowed to sue Kiev if it failed to pay by the end of 2015.
The debt stems back to 2013 when Russia loaned $3 billion to the Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych, before pro-European protests that led to his downfall.
Ukrainian authorities say it is not a sovereign loan by one state to another but rather a transaction made via the financial markets that is subject to terms agreed with other creditors.
Kiev reached a restructuring deal in August with its private creditors, including major banks and investment funds, which agreed to reduce their claims by 20 percent.
Moscow however, maintains that the loan cannot be considered private debt and has refused such conditions.
The Russian government instead offered to spread out the payment over three years, an offer Kiev rejected.
“Ukraine preferred defaulting on its debt obligations to holding honest negotiations,” the finance ministry said, adding that the legal proceedings “do not preclude constructive dialogue to reach an acceptable settlement of the debt.”
The dispute has been hampering the International Monetary Fund’s $17.5-billion rescue plan for Ukraine, which restricts Kiev’s ability to restructure billions of dollars in debt.
The Ukrainian parliament last week adopted its 2016 budget with a deficit of 3.7 percent of GDP, a crucial step for unlocking much-needed aid from the IMF and Western countries.
The announcement of the lawsuit coincided with the coming into force of a Russian food embargo against Ukraine in protest at Kiev’s free-trade deal with the EU.
Furious at seeing its former Soviet satellite turning toward the West, Russia has banned the import of Ukrainian food from Friday.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has put the cost of Moscow’s measures to his country at some $600 million.

Boko Haram threat hangs heavy over Nigeria in 2016

KANO, Nigeria: As Nigeria rings in 2016, the ever-present threat of violence by Boko Haram hangs heavy over Africa’s most populous country, despite official claims that the battle against the militant group has been “technically” won.
After setting a Dec. 31 deadline to rid his country of Boko Haram, President Muhammadu Buhari told the BBC: “I think technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighborhoods.”
In his New Year message to the nation, Buhari commended the military for “significantly curtailing the insurgency” but acknowledged there was “still a lot of work to be done in the area of security.”
“This government will not consider the matter concluded until the terrorists have been completely routed and normality restored to all parts of the country that have been adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency,” he said.
But despite the official assurances, violence and fear continue to stalk several major cities in Nigeria’s troubled northeast.
Late last month, more than 50 people were killed in a 48-hour wave of attacks in the mainly Muslim region that were blamed on the jihadists. Boko Haram has resorted to suicide bombers — many of them young children — to wage its war for an independent state in the country.
The extremist group has also spread its bombing campaign to neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
“Boko Haram is still a big threat despite the government’s claim that the group has been weakened,” said Ibrahim Kulo, 47, a resident of the violence-wracked northeastern city of Maiduguri.
“One cannot venture 10 kilometers (six miles) outside the city without the fear of Boko Haram ambush. We live in real danger of Boko Haram,” he told AFP.

Turkish national dies in Somalia shooting

MOGADISHU: Unidentified gunmen Friday shot dead a man believed to be a Turkish national in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police and witnesses said.
The assailants opened fire on a “foreign national” near a mosque in the northwestern district of the city, said police official Mohamed Abidrahman.
“We don’t have details but the initial information we have obtained indicates that a Turkish citizen was shot dead,” added the official.
The Turkish embassy could not immediately be reached for reaction.
“Three light-skinned men got out of a mosque after performing Friday prayers when they were attacked,” said witness Abdukadir Ali.
“One of them was killed in the attack and the other two have escaped,” Ali said.
“I have heard the victim was a Turkish engineer who was working with a Turkish company.”
No group immediately claimed responsibility but Al-Shabab extremists affiliated to Al-Qaeda have carried out such attacks in the past.
The group, driven from the capital in 2011 and also from their main central and southern fiefdoms, still control extensive rural zones.
From there, they launch guerilla operations and suicide attacks as they target the fragile government and the African Union force shoring it up.

Indian capital starts limiting cars for 2 weeks to clear air 

NEW DELHI: The Indian capital on Friday kicked off a sweeping plan to reduce its record-high air pollution by limiting the numbers of cars on the streets for two weeks.

New Delhi is testing a formula where private cars will be allowed on the roads only on alternate days from Jan. 1-15, depending on whether their license plates end in an even or an odd number.
On Friday, most cars appeared to be following the rules and traffic was a trickle compared to the usual rush-hour chaos. But with schools and colleges shut, and many offices closed for the New Year’s holiday, far fewer people needed to be on the roads.
The city government last week announced a number of exemptions to the new rules, including top politicians, judges, police and prison officials, women and sick people and two-wheelers like motorbikes and scooters. Still, the plan represents the most dramatic effort the city has undertaken to combat pollution since a court order in 1998 mandated that all public transport run on CNG.
Police appeared to be purposefully keeping a low profile Friday. Except for a handful of major intersections, where police and civil defense volunteers set up checkpoints to watch for wrong-numbered license plates, there was little official presence on the roads at all.
When cars were pulled over, the result was almost always a warning, not the $30 fine that has been announced.
“Today we are just educating drivers,” Assistant Sub Inspector Krishan Singh told the driver of an Associated Press vehicle — with the wrong license plate number — when it was pulled over.
Police officials said they do not have enough staff to properly enforce the rule, particularly in a city where drivers regularly flout the most basic traffic laws.
Arvind Kejriwal, the city’s top elected official, told reporters that he was “overwhelmed” by the response to the new rules.
He said that people “seem to have accepted this anti-pollution drive with an open heart.”
The World Health Organization last year named New Delhi the world’s most polluted city. The pollution is at its worst in the winter, with grey skies and a dense cover of smog through the early morning hours.
Delhi has an estimated 7.5 million registered vehicles and a large number run on highly polluting diesel. In addition to the massive numbers of vehicles on its roads, construction dust, the burning of crop waste in nearby farming areas and its proximity to the Thar desert also add to the pollution.
On Friday, the average PM2.5 levels for New Delhi were over 297, almost 5 times higher than the Indian norm of 60 and some 15 times over the WHO standard of 20.
These tiny, inhalable particles, which are smaller than 2.5 micrometers, are small enough to penetrate deep into lungs and cause maximum damage.
Plans to lower the city’s pollution levels included shutting down one of the oldest and least-efficient power plants, a temporary ban on the sale of large diesel vehicles and a stiff toll for pollution-spewing trucks entering the Indian capital.
The Supreme Court earlier this month also banned trucks from entering the city if they’re over 10 years old or are just transiting through. In addition, all taxis, including private ride-hailing services such as Uber, have to switch to compressed natural gas by March 31.
Environmental expert Anumita Raichaudury said that it was good news for the city to finally have an emergency plan for times when pollution hits hazardous levels.
“It’s important to clamp down by taking at least 50 percent of the vehicles off the roads for an immediate impact,” Raichaudury said.

Pakistan courts sentence nine militants to death

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan military courts have sentenced nine men to death for terrorism-related offenses or attacks on minority Shiites, the army said Friday.
Pakistan has hanged more than 300 people since lifting a moratorium on the death penalty in December 2014, many of them convicted in closed military courts which critics say fail to meet fair trial standards.
“Today, (the) Chief of Army Staff confirmed death sentences (were) awarded to another nine hardcore terrorists, who were involved in committing heinous offenses relating to terrorism,” an army statement said.
They include Muhammad Ghauri, a Pakistani Taliban member linked to an attack on a garrison mosque in Rawalpindi which killed 38 people and injured 57 in December 2009.
Also sentenced were Harkatul Jehad-e-Islam activist Abdul Qayyum, who was linked to a car bomb suicide attack on the Inter Services Intelligence headquarters in the central city of Multan which killed seven people and wounded 72 in December 2009.
Two others were linked to attacks on soldiers, while five were said to be members of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan who had killed five Shiites in the eastern city of Lahore.
Their trials took place behind closed doors, with no information on where or when they were held, how proceedings unfolded and scant details about their crimes.
Pakistan has been battling a homegrown insurgency for over a decade following its decision to side with the US-led coalition against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Its troops have been engaged in a full-scale offensive against Taliban and other militants in North Waziristan and Khyber tribal districts since June 2014.
The fight gained renewed impetus following a massacre at a Peshawar school in December 2014 in which 134 children were killed, leading to widespread outrage and a series of measures aimed at combating terror.

Philippine New Year mayhem leaves 2 dead, 380 injured

MANILA, Philippines: New Year’s firecrackers left two dead and 380 others injured, and caused a fire that gutted 1,000 shanties in the Philippines despite rain and a government warning campaign, officials said Friday.
A drunken man lit a dynamite-like firecracker called “Goodbye Philippines” and embraced it in Manila as it exploded, ripping his jaw and killing him, Health Secretary Janet Garin announced.
Fire officials said a rocket lit by revelers set an abandoned hut ablaze, sparking a fire that razed about 1,000 shanties in Manila’s Tondo slum district and displacing several thousand families.
Many superstitious Filipinos usher in the new year with powerful firecrackers, believing that noisy celebrations — largely influenced by Chinese tradition — drive away bad luck and evil.
Garin said the number of injured, while still alarming, was less than half of last year’s toll because of rain late Thursday and a government scare campaign that involved showing gory pictures of past victims with their fingers ripped off by firecracker blasts.
The government has promoted fireworks shows sponsored by shopping centers, cities and even TV networks to discourage people from lighting their own firecrackers.
A large religious group, Iglesia ni Cristo, said it set off more than 700,000 pyrotechnic devices to try to break a Guinness record for the largest fireworks display. Tens of thousands of church members and other revelers watched the spectacle in Bocaue town in Bulacan province, north of Manila.

Japan PM pledges to keep country out of war

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday promised he will keep his nation out of war following the introduction of contentious new security legislation, a day after China announced it is building its second aircraft carrier.
In September parliament in the officially pacifist nation passed security bills opening the door for Japanese troops to engage in combat overseas for the first time since the end of World War II.
The legislation was met with strong public resistance at home with tens of thousands taking part in street protests, while also fueling anger in China and on the Korean peninsula. Critics have warned that the changes could see Japanese troops dragged into far-flung foreign conflicts similar to the US invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan.
“Under the new legislation for peace and security, we will prevent war by taking all possible preparations for any circumstances,” Abe said in a New Year’s message.
“We have successfully built a foundation for handing down a peaceful Japan to the generations of our children and grandchildren.”
Abe’s message came a day after China announced it was building its second aircraft carrier, which will have a displacement of 50,000 tons and carry China’s indigenous J-15 aircraft along with other planes.
Beijing has rapidly expanded its military in recent years, rattling its neighbors and attracting the attention of the United States, which is making a foreign policy “pivot” toward Asia. Relations between Japan and China — Asia’s two biggest economies — have often been strained over competing claims of the Senkaku islands, or Diaoyu in Chinese.

Authorities in China arrest 11 over deadly landslide

BEIJING: Authorities in southern China have formally arrested 11 people for their role in a landslide unleashed at construction waste dump last month that killed 12 people and left 62 others missing and presumed dead.
Prosecutors in the southern city of Shenzhen said in a statement late Thursday that a dispatcher and supervisor of the landfill, the chief and deputy manager of a company in charge of the landfill, and seven other people were arrested.
In the Dec. 20 disaster, a mountain of construction waste that had been piled up against a hill collapsed during heavy rains onto an industrial park in Shenzhen. The city near Hong Kong makes products ranging from cellphones to cars, and attracts workers from all parts of China.
Prosecutors said the 11 people have been charged with negligently causing a serious accident. They said they have urged police to track down additional suspects.

N. Korea leader blames South for increased mistrust

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un blamed South Korea on Friday for increased mistrust in a New Year speech after a year of heightened tension between the rival countries.
The speech was Kim’s fourth since becoming leader in 2011 when his father, Kim Jong Il, died, sparking a long and turbulent succession process marked by several bloody purges in the isolated country.
“South Korea has made a unilateral case for unification and increased mistrust and conflict between us,” Kim said during a 30-minute long address, broadcast on North Korean television, highlighting its suspicion of the South’s unification policies.
Kim said in last year’s speech he would be open to a summit with Seoul but tension surged in August after a land mine blast on their border wounded two South Korean soldiers. The South blamed the North which denied responsibility.

Publisher recalls disputed Chinese translation of Indian poet’s work

BEIJING: A Chinese publisher has recalled the latest Chinese-language translation of a work by Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, after it drew sharp criticism in India that it is too vulgar and strays too far from the original text.
Zhejiang Literature and Arts Publishing House announced this week that it would pull from shelves all copies of Tagore’s “Stray Birds,” translated by contemporary Chinese writer Feng Tang, citing controversy and saying it would review the translation.
In the passage that has drawn the strongest objections, Feng Tang translated the line “The world takes off its mask of vastness for its lover” as “The world unzipped his pants in front of his lover.” Feng Tang also used the Chinese word for “coquettish” to translate the word “hospitable” in a line where Tagore describes the grass-growing earth.
Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913, is revered as a literary giant in India and the Chinese translation has angered many in the Indian intellectual circle. It also has drawn strong criticism in China, where Tagore also is widely admired.
“This incident raises questions about the role of the translator in relation to the author and what his motives were,” said Radha Chakravarty, a Tagore scholar who teaches in the Ambedkar University in New Delhi.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More