Monthly Archives: January 2013

Those were the days for Mary – at £15000 a week!

Mary Hopkin, just 16, sat at home and practised her guitar when other girls were out with boys at the local coffee bar in the South Wales town of Pontardawe. Occasionally she sang in folk clubs for 5 a night and dreamed of one day becoming a pop star. They were dreams that no one but Mary believed would come true, but in the autumn of 1968 they did. Six months later the shy blonde with three O-levels was a 15,000 a week celebrity whose record pushed the Beatles from the top of the pop charts…

Singing a simple song and accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, the girl from the valleys had managed to get onto a TV talent show much to the astonishment of everyone in Pontardawe, who had previously thought she was wasting her time and should concentrate on becoming a hairdresser. Among the TV viewers was Twiggy, the model who did for fashion what the Beatles did for pop music. Afterwards she phoned Paul McCartney and said: “There’s this girl with a lovely pure voice. I think you should hear her.” McCartney did more than that. A week later he signed Mary Hopkin as the first girl singer to be launched on the Beatles’ new Apple record label. Later she was to remember: “I didn’t come to London thinking it would all be great. Everything happened so quickly I didn’t really have time to realise what was happening. If it hadn’t worked out I would just have gone home and continued practising the guitar.

“On the other hand I don’t think I could ever again have been happy in an ordinary job.” She didn’t need one. Her first disc, a simple folk tune produced by Paul McCartney, raced to the top of the charts and stayed there for six weeks. With her first record, Those Were The Days, Mary Hopkin, just 17, had hit the golden jackpot. It took her from a terraced house overlooking a coal-tip to a suite at the Savoy Hotel, fan-mail of over 500 letters a day, star billing on a US peak-time TV show and an income of 15,000 a week. Paul McCartney who at one time joked that he intended to marry Mary, guided her career from the beginning. “It’s easy to get hurt in this business,” he said. “I hope Mary won’t. She doesn’t deserve to. She’s a nice kid. And Mary said: “I have complete trust in Paul. He understands me and is very patient in the recording studio. He didn’t seem to mind that Those Were The Days pushed his Hey Jude from the number one spot. In fact he said he was delighted.”

The hits continued for Mary Hopkin. She represented Britain in the 1970 Eurovision song contest her entry Knock, Knock,Who’s There? reached second place, watched by 200  million viewers. But she never managed to match the internation l success of Those Were The Days. She starred at the London Palladium after only a year in show-business, and toured Europe the USA and Australia. But another number one hit eluded her.
        
By now she had found that pop stardom was not a fairytale existence but a hard and cynical slog. “My family and friends couldn’t believe that most of the time I was frightened and insecure,” she remembers. “They couldn’t understand how anyone living a glamorous life and earning huge amounts of money could fail to be happy. When I talked about giving it all up they just thought I was crazy.” But by then Mary had realised there was more to life than fame and fortune. She had met a young record-producer named Tony Visconti and from that moment everything changed. He sensed the insecurity that lurked in the heart of the blonde with the smiling face. “He knew that success would eventually destroy me,” Mary remembers. They got married and Mary, with Tony’s support, gradually bowed out of the pop scene. When their son Delaney came along, she reported that life was “absolutely idyllic”. “I hit the big time long before I was ready for it. I never had time to develop my real personality. Love and marriage did that for me. I don’t regret being a pop star … but I wouldn’t want to do it all again!” Today at 43, Mary Hopkin is married to record-producer Tony Visconti and happily settled into family life. She occasionally does concerts and cabaret but doesn’t regret that she is no longer a pop superstar. “I eventually hated the ballyhoo and big business which surrounded my public image,” she remembers. “I still sing when I want to and make an occasional record but nothing is going to turn me into a ‘personality’ again.”        
       
Does she miss being in the big money any more? “We hardly ever think about it. We’re not badly off, of course, and I have occasionally thought about going back to work, but Tony has persuaded me that I would hate it and he’s right.”

Muscat Fashion Week comes to a close

Now in its third year, Oman’s annual Muscat Fashion Week last week attracted a host of the region’s most talented designers – not only well-established names, but also promising faces of the future.

“This is the beauty of Muscat Fashion Week,” said HE Sultan Bin Hamdoon al-Harthi. “There are some incredible undiscovered talents out there who need to be noticed, and we are extremely proud to offer a platform for the next generation of Arab designers.”

Showcasing a truly diverse mix of Middle Eastern fashion, this year saw representation from the UAE, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco and of course, Oman. Attendees viewed the latest collections within the expansive gardens of Riyam Park.

Flying the flag for Oman, Muscat Fashion Week veteran, Nawal al-Hooti, wowed guests as muted grey, deep blue and amber tones were adorned by traditional Omani beading and embroidery. Emirati design duo Reem and Hind Beljafla followed suit with an equally impressive collection of sleek, theatrical shapes in luxurious gold and neutral shades with a pop of bright colours and a multicultural influence.

Glamorous gowns were in abundance when evening-wear designer Tatyana Aceeva’s red carpet worthy collection worthy of the red carpet hit the stage. Blush-colored lace dresses flowed beautifully as striking teals and ruby reds broke up the softer hues. Finally, Moroccan designer, Zhor Raîs, brought the day to its glamorous end with long silhouettes in soft creams, olive greens and a dash of yellow, emblazoned with intricate embroidery and cummerbund belts.

Qatar-based demi-couture label, Toujouri, lead the fashion pack as Creative Director, Lama al-Moatessem, lit up the runway with her glamorous designs. Heavily inspired by the work of visual artist cum fine arts photographer, Bea Kayani, the collection was brimming with character and colur. Full-skirted ball gowns with cinched waists sashayed down the runway alongside chic jumpsuits and column dresses, setting the bar high for the evening ahead.

Dynamic design duo, Kanzi offered a sleek, modern collection of abayas, kaftans and flowing dresses with the twist of metal embellishments. Long silhouettes meshed well with fitted jackets that had structured shoulders, with vibrant pops of magenta, pink and turquoise bursting through the black and neutral base pallet.

Razan Alazzouni’s star quality shone through as her largely monochrome collection drew a collective nod of approval from the crowd. Voluminous skirts and dresses featured heavily throughout the collection that had spikes of red, lemon and cobalt blue.

On hand to infuse some local spice into the evening were Omani sisters, Dibaj. Khanjar belts and folklore embroidered cuffs and hemlines gave a distinctly traditional feel to the collection that featured an array of rich hues. Pantsuits featured alongside draped dresses and kaftans. Omani gold and silver jewellery finished the collection off perfectly.

Rashmi Kumari, the unstoppable force behind the label, C’est Moi, unveiled an exceptional collection that showed off intricate beadwork and embroidery. Bright and bold colours adorned an array of silhouettes including dreamy flowing dresses that had a luxury Bohemian feel.

Omani sisters Lubna and Nadia al-Zakwani – the creative minds behind the Endemage label – mesmerized the crowd with their forward-looking creations that creatively infuse traditional Omani motifs into the core of their collection.

Ahmed Talfit introduced a sculptural, avant-garde collection with powerful figures for the penultimate show. Leather, silk and tulle meshed together magnificently, with particular emphasis on strong shoulders and accentuated waistlines.

Muscat Festival Key Sports Events

Every year, all Omani people impatiently await the Muscat Festival for all its various breathtaking eventswhich attract all the different age groups. Sports enthusiasts are no exception as they will have their fair share at this year’s Festival as usual. The first event awaiting the sports lovers is anequestrian competition, including the sport of cavalry and tent pegging, which will be held on the 5th and 6th of February.

Equestrianis gaining popularity in Oman and, as a result, more Omani horsemen are achieving successat the international arena. Traditional horse sports enthusiasts make sure notto miss the Traditional Horse Festival which will be open to visitors on the 9th of February on the sidelines of the equestrian competition, giving theman opportunity to have a closer look at the traditional horse sports in Oman. In addition, equestrians can also enjoy watching the awe-inspiring horse jumping contest on the 10th and 17th of February.

Tour of Oman
As for the premier sporting event, Tour of Oman, cycling enthusiasts can enjoy it from the 11th to 16th of February. This thrilling race, which consists of 6 stages with a total length of 875 kilometers, attracts a number of world’s best cyclists.  The racewill start on the 11th of February from the Sports City in the coastal town of Al Musan’ah. Cyclists will then force their way in different governorates including Muscat, Dakhilia, and Batinah.

Tour of Oman, first launched in 2010, has been a great success and received widespread acclaim from all over the word. As the race is considered an effective tourism gateway to Oman, the Omani government spares no effort to make sure that the race confirmsto international standards.

The changing face of sports tourism

AS Qatar is propelled into the limelight following its recent appointment to host the World Cup, there has never been a stronger focus on sports tourism. Not only is Qatar the first Arab country to win the bid but it is also expected that the benefits of such an appointment will impact sports tourism across the entire region.

Wissam V. Suleiman, general manager of Kempinski Residences and Suites, Doha gives his take on the appointment from a hotel perspective: “I think this achievement has definitely put Qatar on the world map as a business and leisure destination and a great development opportunity for the country. We expect tourism to increase during the year and will continue in the future. We also expect that the tourism infrastructure will become more and more developed, a fact that will help increase the number of travellers choosing Qatar as a weekend or vacation destination.”

Suleiman is likely to be correct in his predictions; even with the additional 90,000 hotel rooms coming on board, The Qatar Tourism Authority is anticipating 20 per cent growth over the next five years, it was reported in Sporttourismexpo.com.

According to Worldwide Sporting Development and Events (WSDE), the value of sports tourism is worth $600 billion and in 2010 made up 14 per cent of all travel and tourism receipts. With its sunny weather and significant investment into tourism as a whole, the Middle East is already competing on an international scale and it’s getting bigger and better every year.

Ben Faber, account director at Fast Track Middle East, explains: “2013 has started on a good note for Fast Track with the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championships. We are looking forward to a busy year with events such as HSBC Rugby Festival Dubai in January, Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in March, Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November and Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens in December. Each of these events has grown in their own way every year in a bid to put the UAE and other GCC markets on the map as a world-class sports hub. A success story is the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which takes place annually and since its inception in 2010, spectator numbers and athlete registrations have more than doubled. With the inclusion of triathlon in the Arab Games 2015 the magnified importance of such events continues to put the UAE as one of the leading sports destinations in the Middle East.”

Such growth also has knock-on effect for smaller businesses, especially those in related fields. Matt Farr, who runs adventure travel company, Mountain Quests, reports:  “The rise of sports events in the GCC has had a positive impact on Mountain Quests. Events like triathlons and other sports tournaments throw the spotlight on outdoor pursuits, and this can only benefit adventure sports companies. In addition, the ability for people of all fitness levels to compete, especially in events like triathlons, means that they are more accessible than ever. People enter a more active lifestyle from this and naturally start to look into other parts of the world to further their passion of an active life.”

While the UAE, Qatar and Oman may be leading the way, it would seem inevitable that other GCC countries will start to follow their lead. While there are multiple factors involved when it comes to the success of sports tourism, such as investment, the availability of on-site hospitality, and growth in infrastructure, there is no doubt that a strong collaboration between the tourism authority and various venues is required.

Cyril Mouawad, director of sales and marketing at IHG, Doha agrees: “I believe it is our responsibility as hotelier to promote the destination next to promoting our own property; this is why we have an active relationship with the tourism authorities to leverage all kinds of tourism including sport.”

Hotels and airlines are incorporating everything from sponsorships to special events in their marketing plans. Jumeirah Emirates Towers and Jumeirah Zabeel Saray in Dubai have both launched ‘Stay and Play’ packages in partnership with Dubai Golf. Hotels have even been built around sport venues, for example The Meydan in Dubai and the horse race track, the Meydan Grandstand. Another example is Yas Viceroy in Abu Dhabi which is built on the Formula 1 circuit.

Julie Audette, director of PR and communications emphasises the impact: “High-visibility sporting events effectively highlight Abu Dhabi as a world-class destination. With the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Viceroy benefits from major exposure as the event is televised in more than 180 countries, reaching around 600 million viewers.”

The figures regarding this event speak for themselves; the Tourism Cultural Authority (TCA), Abu Dhabi recorded a 10 per cent increase in guest figures in November 2012 as a result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix proving to be the busiest month of the year.

Abu Dhabi’s future plans include taking its name oversees as events manager, Faisal Al Sheikh explains: “Abu Dhabi Racing’s newly announced three-year partnership with eight-time World Rally Championship (WRC) winning manufacturers, Citroën Racing will see the team compete in all 13 rounds of this year’s WRC calendar. TCA Abu Dhabi will undertake as many as five on-the-ground destination promotions in key source markets to leverage the associated interest in Abu Dhabi that will emerge. As part of this, we also have a Junior Driver Development Programme, which sees young Emiratis being given the skills to develop with the longer term view of them pursuing careers at the highest levels of the sport. Locally, the facilities and driving academy at Yas Marina Circuit continues to develop green shoots motorsport programmes and is a major draw from aspiring drivers from around the region and beyond.”

While challenges do exist in any growth market for successful sports tourism, it would seem that for this sector to grow in the Middle East, the only real challenge will be healthy competition between the countries to secure the next big event. 

By Karen Osman

Newsmaker: Willem-Alexander, the monarch with Orange appeal

On January 28, the anniversary of the death of Charlemagne and Henry VIII, it was announced that Europe would have a new king. What makes it exceptional is that the Netherlands’ reigning monarch heralded her successor. Most monarchs ascend on the death of their predecessor but not in Holland. Queen Beatrix is the third successive queen to abdicate in favour of her heir, making it almost de rigueur for the House of Orange-Nassau. The accession of Beatrix’s eldest son, Willem-Alexander, will give the Netherlands its first King since 1890.

While the dynasty can be traced to the 10th century and the House of Orange-Nassau has played a princely role as stadtholders (latterly Stadhouder-Generaal) since the 16th century, it is a relatively new monarchy. The Oranges did not become sovereigns until the end of Napoleonic rule in 1813, when William of Orange became Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands, proclaiming himself King William I two years later. His son and grandson succeeded him in turn as William II and William III. On the death of William III in 1890, his only surviving child was a daughter, 10-year-old Wilhelmina, whose mother Emma, acted as regent until her 18th birthday.

Since then daughter has succeeded mother – Wilhelmina, Juliana (in 1948) and Beatrix (in 1980) – and each has won the admiration, even love, of their subjects for their steadfastness, common sense, dignity and courage. The only real difficulties they seem to have encountered, related to their consorts. Wilhelmina’s marriage to Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin proved to be an unhappy one but it endured and, as Prince Hendrik of the Netherlands, he became the kingdom’s longest-serving consort. For her part, Wilhelmina was admired by both Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill, who described her as the only real man among the governments-in-exile in London from where she led her country during the Second World War. On her return home, she travelled through the countryside to motivate people, sometimes by bicycle, earning the sobriquet “a bicycling monarchy”.

In 1948, Wilhelmina abdicated in favour of her only daughter, Juliana. In 1936, Juliana had married the heroic, dashing German Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. It was a love-match that survived wartime separation, his philandering, and a report that he took bribes from the Lockheed Corporation. Juliana too took to a bicycle to greet her people and asked that she be addressed as “mevrouw” (Madam) rather than “majesty”.

Then, in 1980, Juliana abdicated to make way for Beatrix, the eldest of her four daughters. Like her grandmother and mother before her, Beatrix took a German nobleman as a husband. Although it was more than 20 years since the war, Klaus van Amberg was condemned as unsuitable because of his brief membership in the Hitler Youth. However, with Beatrix’s determination, her mother’s support, her consort’s mastery of Dutch, dedication and (despite bouts of depression) energy, Prince Claus overcame this to become the kingdom’s most popular royal. His early death in 2002, two years before his parents-in-law, proved a blow to Beatrix, who, nevertheless carried on.

Her approach was more formal. She is addressed as “majesty” and is more likely to be seen in a saloon or in a horse-drawn carriage than on a bike, but she has brought warmth and astuteness to her role in an increasingly multicultural kingdom. When she was criticised by the Dutch Far Right for wearing a headscarf in Abu Dhabi and Oman on a visit in January, she responded firmly, “It is really nonsense …. You adjust out of respect for a religion.”

And so to Willem-Alexander, the eldest of Beatrix and Claus’s three sons. He accompanied his mother on that recent tour as he has most others, learning, as Dubai’s young sheikhs do, at their ruler’s side. And with him was his charismatic wife, Crown Princess Maxima, who also wore a headscarf in Oman.

Willem-Alexander will celebrate his 46th birthday three days before his investiture on April 30. Like all his fellow crown princes of Europe, he has been rigorously reared to reign. His childhood was spent in the relative peace of castle Drakesteijn in the hamlet of Lage Vuursche near Baarn where he attended school. In 1981, when he had become Prince of Orange, and the family moved to Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague, he attended secondary school. He received his international baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. Two years of naval service followed and then he studied history at Leiden University. It was here that his impressive and spirited thirst earned him the nickname “Prince Pilsner”.

He has been an enthusiastic pilot, flying as a volunteer in Kenya and sometimes taking the controls of the royal aircraft on holidays abroad. He has run in the New York City Marathon and, at home, in the Elfstedentocht, the 11 cities ice-skating race. Like a handful of other European royals, he is a member of the IOC and apparently supports Amsterdam’s bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics. He has become an expert on water management and chairs a UN board on sanitation and water management.

He too encountered controversy on his choice of consort. His fiancée, Maxima, a New York investment banker of Portuguese, Basque and Italian heritage, was the daughter of Jorge Zorreguieta, a modest customs official who rose to become under-secretary of Agriculture in the Argentinian military junta from 1976 to 1983. The Dutch parliament commissioned a report which cleared him of any direct involvement in the atrocities. Willem-Alexander apparently stated he would rather abandon the throne and have a wedding in Buenos Aires than lose his bride.

Perhaps recalling her own betrothal, Beatrix supported the match and announced the engagement. Shortly afterwards, Maxima announced – significantly in near flawless Dutch – that she abhorred the military regime and “the disappearances, the tortures, the murders and all the other terrible events of that time.” While denying, as her father did, knowledge of this, she said, “I regret that while doing his best for agriculture, he did so during a bad regime.”

Even so, Maxima’s parents were forced to watch their daughter’s wedding on television (as Juliana and Bernhard had done when their second daughter Irene married the Catholic Carlist Pretender in 1964) the Dutch parliament having forbidden their attendance. The same is likely for the investiture. Yet the Argentine press have greeted the succession with jubilation: Argentina’s First Queen! A throne for Princess Maxima!

Due, in large part, to Beatrix’s stewardship, the monarchy remains popular with an approval rating of some 75 per cent. Last year parliament voted to remove the monarch’s remaining political power – the formation of coalition governments. Surely a relief and a source of envy for the neighbouring King of the Belgians. A recent report indicated that the Dutch monarchy was the most expensive in western Europe. The Irish Times reported a study by a Belgian professor that the cost of maintaining the Dutch royal family was €39.4 million (Dh196m), four times that of the Spanish Bourbons. The Queen again firmly rejected any suggestion of reducing the allowance. Interestingly, the paper reports the most expensive head of state is no monarch but the French president François Hollande, whose Elysee Palace costs €112m a year.

The Dutch seem to think their monarch is worth it. As she announced her abdication, the prime minister paid tribute to “a Dutch icon” who “had applied herself heart and soul for Dutch society”.

He added: “I am confident that the prince and princess will fulfil their new tasks and roles as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima with great success. In the best tradition of Queen Beatrix and generations of the House of Orange before her.”

History will, as ever, be the judge but there is every reason to believe that as Willem-Alexander ascends on April 30 (his late grandmother’s birthday), the House of Orange will continue like clockwork.

 

The Biog

1967 Born Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand, Prince of Orange-Nassau

1980 Became heir to the throne and Prince of Orange on his mother’s accession

2002 On the death of his father Prince Claus, he becomes Head of the House of Amsberg

2002 Marries Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti

2003 His heir, Princess Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria (soon to be Princess of Orange), is born; sisters Alexia and Ariane are born in 2005 and 2007

2012 On February 17, an avalanche in Lech, Austria buries his younger brother Prince Friso, who remains in a coma in London

2013 On January 28, Queen Beatrix announces she will abdicate on April 30 in favour of her eldest son

Calculated murder

The murderer arrived at Bob and Doris Angleton’s house in the wealthy suburb of River Oaks, Houston, Texas, in the early evening of a warm April day in 1997 and set his deadly trap with smooth precision. He’d obviously been thinking about it a long time. He punched in the code which disarmed the burglar-alarm and stepped into the empty house. He checked his weapons two silenced .22 semi-automatic pistols and settled down to wait for his victim. Doris McGowan Beck Angleton, 46, Houston socialite, millionairess, wife of entrepreneur Bob Angleton and mother of 12-year-old twins returned to her home half an hour later.

As she came into the house the killer raised his gun and fired six shots at point black range. Then he changed guns and fired six more. There was little doubt that Doris Angleton was dead. The killer slid his guns into a leather bag and left the house, his job done.

Meanwhile, Bob Angleton and his daughters Ali and Niki were watching a softball game at a park on the other side of Houston and waiting for Doris to join them. She didn’t arrive, which was unusual but not particularly worrying Doris had a wide social circle. She had probably met someone and stayed chatting. At 9.30pm Bob and the girls arrived home in his station wagon and found Doris’s car parked in its usual place near the front door. But something was wrong. The front door of the house was wide open. Angleton called the police on his mobile phone and within minutes Patrolman Keith Carr pulled into the drive. Using a powerful flashlight, Carr entered the house. Lying in the hallway was a woman.

She was dead. Bob and his daughters, in a state of shock, went to stay with relatives while forensic experts descended on the house and detectives probed the private life of one of Houston’s most successful and charismatic wheeler-dealers. They were in for some surprises the first was that the apparently happy marriage of Doris and Bob Angleton was not what it seemed. After 15 years of marriage, Doris Angleton was petitioning for divorce.

Bob had over $5 million in safe deposit boxes and Doris wanted half of it. She had already persuaded a court to freeze all movement on the money while a deal was being negotiated. But that wasn’t the end of Bob Angleton’s problems. His brother Roger, a failed stockbroker, had demanded $200,000 in cash, threatening to make public some of Bob’s shadier business deals if he didn’t hand over the money.
By now Steve McGown, Doris’s brother, had flown in from New York and was able to give detectives details of his sister’s lifestyle. “The biggest thing about Doris,” he said, “was that when she was around everyone knew they would have fun. She knew how to make people feel good.” But the same could hardly be said of Bob Angleton. Detective Dave Ferguson would say later: “Everyone liked Doris. But we didn’t find a single person who actually liked Bob…”

Bob, it seemed, didn’t like many people either particularly his brother Roger. He told detectives that since he had refused to give his brother $200,000 Roger had constantly threatened him with blackmail, and worse. Bob Angleton knew he was a prime suspect for his wife’s murder. He stood to gain around $2 million from her estate now that she had not been able to complete the divorce, but maintained he knew nothing about the killing, and had been with his daughters when it was committed.  He had no hesitation in suggesting that Roger had killed her “out of spite because I wouldn’t give him the money he wanted,” a claim given added weight by the fact that Roger Angleton had now disappeared.

He later tried to board a plane from Houston to Los Angeles under the name Frank Tratora, but fled after two guns were found in his luggage. Finally arrested in San Francisco, Roger Angleton was extradited to Houston where he was charged with his sister-in-law’s murder. But the case never came to trial. On the morning of February 6, 1998, warders at Harris County Gaol found Roger Angleton dead in his cell. He had bled to death from scores of cuts from tiny disposable razor-blades he had somehow smuggled into his cell. On the bloodstained table was a letter which read: “I killed Doris Angleton in an ultimate attempt to begin an extortion programme based on fear and the threat of further death from Robert Angleton. “Robert owed me money but I realise I was wrong to take a life of especially a good and innocent person. I am in constant emotional agony and so decided to end my life to stop the pain. Although I began an elaborate plan to frame Robert for Doris’s death  as further leverage to get money, he is innocent.”

But if Bob Angleton now thought the authorities would close the case and he would walk away free from suspicion, he would be bitterly disappointed.

A medical examination showed that Roger Angleton was terminally ill and would have only lived a short time. Now police believed that Bob Angleton had done a deal with his brother: “admit to the murder, then commit suicide and I will support your wife and family.” It was Bob, claimed the prosecution, who had masterminded both the murder and his brother’s suicide for his own financial ends. Which was why the case took a sensational twist in July 1998 when Bob Angleton appeared in Houston before Judge Brian Rains and a jury accused of the capital murder of his wife. Key to the prosecution’s case was a tape-recording which Roger Angleton had made secretly, obviously intending it to use it to further blackmail his brother. The prosecution claimed the voices were those of Roger and Bob Angleton planning Doris’s murder, but Bob Angleton always denied the voice was his. Defence lawyers would later claim that Roger had hired an impersonator to mimic Bob. Bob Angleton did not give evidence but defence attorney James Wilson declared that all the evidence pointed to Roger Angleton being the murderer.  “My client had nothing to do with the killing. He has lost his wife, his girls have lost their mother. Someone shot Doris Angleton 13 times in cold blood. May God wreak his justice on Roger Angleton, and in the meantime it is up to the jury here to make sure that earthly justice is done, too.”

It took the jury three days of deliberations before they brought in a verdict of not guilty and Bob Angleton left court a free man. But not everyone thought justice had been done. For instance, Doris’s brother Steve McGown was convinced Bob had got away with the gamble of a lifetime.

“Everything Bob did was a calculated speculation,” he said. “But hiring your brother to kill your wife and then getting away with it, is to hit the biggest jackpot of all…”   

Kamal threatens to leave country as court reimposes ban on film


CHENNAI An emotional Kamal Haasan on Wednesday threatened to quit India if the ban in Tamil Nadu on his film Vishwaroopam wasn’t lifted but the Madras High Court reimposed the ban. The actor was likely to challenge the fresh ban in the Supreme Court, sources said.

As controversy swirled over the Rs950 million multilingual espionage thriller, the actor said he had agreed to make cuts in the movie that some Muslim groups found objectionable.

Sources said the actor was likely to approach the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Kamal said if the ban on his film was not lifted, he might have to look out for a “secular state” abroad.

Saying he was fed up with the opposition to the movie, Kamal said: “If there is no secular state in India, I would go overseas. I think Tamil Nadu wants me out. MF Husain had to do it and now Haasan will have to do it. It’s fine. What would change is my passport. I would still be an Indian. I have pledged all my property for the film. I have lost my house because of delay in its release,” he said.

He said he had invested his lifetime’s savings, including all his assets, on the film that has also been dubbed in Hindi and which has been released in the US and Canada.

Soon afterwards, he met Muslim leaders and announced he was ready to make cuts. “There is no more difference between me and my Muslim brothers. It is our duty to take care of them. There are four scenes that are being pointed out and I am willing to remove these scenes from the movie,” he said.

The film was banned by the Tamil Nadu government after some Muslim groups complained that it portrayed the community in poor light.

Kamal said he was still trying to understand why “some members with strong political backing” were against his film.

“The film is running successfully in other states and the feedback from the audience has also been positive.”

On Wednesday, the Madras High Court overturned Tuesday’s single bench ruling revoking the ban on Vishwaroopam.

The film fraternity are backing Kamal and his film, cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFS).

CBFC chairperson Leela Samson said that the ban was “an infringement on freedom of expression. This is hounding of an artist, an icon of Tamil Nadu,” Samson said.As Kamal’s critics and fans took to the streets, sporadic violence was reported in Tamil Nadu.

In Chennai, DMK chief M Karunanidhi wondered whether the ban was linked to Kamal’s comment obliquely supporting Finance Minister P Chidambaram as prime minister.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesman PC Chacko said Kamal’s threat to leave India “was an unfortunate statement”.

Women cricketers seek their place in sun at the World Cup

Mumbai: The women’s World Cup opens in Mumbai today with the cricketers hoping to put aside memories of an unsettling build-up and gain recognition in a country where the men’s game reigns supreme.  Barely a week before the start, the International Cricket Council was forced to revise the schedule because of security concerns surrounding Pakistan’s participation in Mumbai where the entire tournament was to be played.

All group B matches, featuring Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, were shunted to the cricketing backwaters of Cuttack following threats from the right-wing nationalist Shiv Sena party to disrupt matches in Mumbai. Pakistan will remain in Cuttack if they qualify for the second round, but will still have to travel to Mumbai if they make the final at the Brabourne stadium on February 17.

Indian captain Mithali Raj said she was disappointed that the Pakistani team had attracted protests. “I personally feel that politics should not be involved in sport,” Raj said.  “Sport is more about entertainment and a fun-loving atmosphere. So we should not be getting too many political issues into it.”

Preparations were also disrupted when the hosts made Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium, venue of the men’s World Cup final in 2011, unavailable at the last minute. Three grounds in Mumbai will host group A, involving defending champions England, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and hosts India.

The players have taken the disruption in their stride and are excited about the tournament, which was first played in 1973, two years before the men’s World Cup was inaugurated in 1975.

“I think it is safe to say that the women’s game today is unrecognisable from when I started in 1997,” said England’s captain Charlotte Edwards, set to appear in her fifth World Cup.  “We are attracting loads of young girls who want to play the game. We have changed people’s perceptions about women’s cricket a lot. Hopefully this tournament will be another step in hammering that message home.” 

One of the players to watch in the 10th edition of the tournament will be England wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor, who reports say could play alongside the men in Sussex county’s second XI this year.  India’s Raj, preparing for her fourth World Cup, hopes women’s cricket will finally take off in her country where some of her male counterparts are national icons. 

“Indian society is still is not forthcoming when it comes to women’s cricket,” Raj said.
“Parents are still more interested in putting their girls into more feminine sports like tennis or table-tennis.”

Australia go into the tournament as favourites to win their sixth title, following victory in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last October.  The Australian side includes Ellyse Perry, a pace bowler who also plays football for her country, the Indian-born Lisa Sthalekar, and Alyssa Healy, niece of former Australian men’s wicket-keeper Ian Healy.

Pakistan are more worried about adapting to the new One-day rules than about their security in Cuttack, where they are staying in the club house of the Barabati stadium for security reasons.

“We have not played under the new rules where five players have to be inside the circle at all times and the use of new balls from both ends,” captain Sana Mir said.
“We must get used to them before the tournament starts.”

Three teams from the two groups will advance to the Super Sixes round, from where the top two will qualify for the final.

Grand start for Muscat Festival 2013

Muscat: As promised by the organisers, the Muscat Festival was off to a rousing start, Wednesday. People of all nationalities thronged the venue with their families to get a glimpse of the rich Omani art, culture and heritage.

Much to the delight of the crowd, particularly children, circus artistes performed a number of acrobatic tricks. The crowd also had photo-op with some of the clowns, while music connoisseurs lent their ears to the traditional Omani folk singers. People whose taste buds start tickling just at the sight of delicacies, were seen ‘laying their hands’ on the freshly cooked Omani food.

As the Festival unfolds over a period of one month, people are waiting with bated breath for the entertainment shows, pyrotechnics, fireworks, laser shows and carnivals, and of course, the sight of top cyclists of Tour de France, who will be a treat to watch.

Rebranded BlackBerry makes a comeback bid

New York: BlackBerry launched its comeback effort yesterday with a revamped operating system and a pair of sleek new handsets, plus a company name change as the smartphone maker moves to reinvent itself.

Canadian-based Research in Motion changed its name to BlackBerry as it launched the BlackBerry 10, the new platform aimed at helping the firm regain traction in a market now dominated by rivals.

“From this point forward, RIM becomes BlackBerry,” chief executive Thorsten Heins told a glitzy unveiling in New York, one of six global events for the product launch. “It is one brand. It is one promise.”

The new BlackBerry “will transform mobile communications into true mobile computing,” Heins said. Heins presented two devices, the touchscreen-only Z10 and the Q10 model, which contains BlackBerry’s trademark keyboard. The release of the new handsets will be staggered over the next couple of months. One of the phones will be available in Britain from today, and Canadians will be able to buy one from February 5.
 
In the critical US market, the device will not be available until March, although leading carriers like ATT and Verizon are unveiling plans now, Heins said. The company also introduced recording star Alicia Keys as its new global creative director. Heins said the new BlackBerry is not just about new platforms and products, but “engaging with successful entrepreneurs and working moms,” and that Keys would play a role in that effort. Keys, who said she had returned to BlackBerry after flirting with other devices, said her job would allow her to “work with people in the entertainment and music business” to help enhance the BlackBerry experience.

The launch is seen as critical to BlackBerry, which had been the dominant smartphone maker before Apple launched its iPhone and others began using the Google Android operating system. “This is the first step in BlackBerry’s recovery and I think they did a good job so far, but there are still so many more steps,” independent analyst Jeff Kagan said. “We’ll have to wait and see, but so far, so good.”

Kagan said the new BlackBerry “will be a strong competitor for the number three position. They won’t come close to number one or two where Google and Apple are, but the market does want more choices.” BlackBerry has traditionally scored best with corporate clients who have been partial to the device’s reputation for greater network security. However, the smartphone market has been changing radically as more companies shift to a “bring your own device,” or BYOD, model in which companies let workers choose their smartphone.

Heins’ pitch appeared geared to both corporate and rank-and-file consumers. He emphasized the ease with which users can, with the flick of a finger, switch between emails and applications. Other features include the capacity for users to share in real-time screens and complex data from two different locales on a messaging system. The phone also features an efficient writing device in which writers can flick a single character and generate an entire word in English, French, German or other languages.