Jumaat, 30 September 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

"Rogue" Florida moves up U.S. presidential primary

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 08:17 PM PDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Reuters) - Florida defied national Republican Party leaders on Friday and set its U.S. presidential primary election for Jan. 31, a move likely to push forward the 2012 election schedule as other states jockey to keep their influence.

Florida, the largest of the presidential swing states, moved up its election in order to boost its clout in the process that will produce a Republican nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election.

The four states authorized by the Republican National Committee to go first in the nominating process -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- were expected to respond by moving their nominating contests forward from February to January, or even earlier to keep their favored spots.

Earlier primaries would likely favor Mitt Romney as he has been in the race for months and has already built up campaign finance warchests and a national network of activists.

An early start also would make it more difficult for potential candidates like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to join the Republican race now.

"We cannot rule out the possibility of conducting the primary before the end of this year," New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner's office said.

Party leaders in the early voting states were furious at Republican-led Florida, whose move likely will force candidates to campaign during the winter holidays.

"The arrogance shown by Florida's elected leadership is disappointing, but not surprising," said Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn.

"Rogue states have once again dictated the presidential nominating calendar," South Carolina Republican Chairman Chad Connelly said.

The two major U.S. political parties choose their nominees by having candidates compete at the state level in staggered elections and caucuses to win delegates who ultimately will pick the winner at party conventions.

The Republican National Committee has threatened to punish Florida with the loss of half its delegates to the party's nominating convention, which will be held in Tampa, Florida, in August 2012.


Strawn, the Iowa Republican leader, urged the committee to make good on that threat and punish Florida's "petulant behavior." Connelly, the South Carolina Republican leader, said Florida should be stripped of all its delegates.

Members of Florida's date selection committee said the added influence from an early primary would offset the loss of delegates to the nominating conventions, which they said had become "coronations" for outcomes that have already been decided.

"We're the biggest swing state in the union," said former Florida Governor Bob Martinez, a Republican on the date selection panel. "So, I think this is a real, real election in Florida."

In the past, candidates who did poorly in the early-voting states have dropped out before Florida got its turn to cast ballots.

"It's time for Florida to be a player," said Al Lawson, a former state senator and a Democratic member of the date committee.

He voted with the 7-2 majority on the Republican-dominated committee to move the date forward, saying Florida's racial, political and ethnic diversity make it a critical bellwether of national politics.

Incumbent Obama does not face a challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, so the loss of Florida delegates to that party's convention would not affect his candidacy.

Voting had been scheduled to start with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 6, the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 14, the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 18 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 28. Those states were expected to move their elections and caucuses forward in tandem to maintain that voting order.

(Additional reporting by Ros Krasny in Boston, Harriet McLeod in Charleston, South Carolina; Andrew Stern in Chicago and John Whitesides in Washington; Writing by Jane Sutton; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Vicki Allen)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

U.S. closes atom smasher, passes baton to Europe

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 08:17 PM PDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The powering down of Fermilab's Tevatron particle accelerator on Friday marked the end of a quarter-century of U.S. dominance in high-energy particle physics.

The Tevatron, which accelerates and collides protons and antiprotons in a four-mile-long (6.28 km) underground ring, has been replaced by the Large Hadron Collider under the French-Swiss border, which began operating in March 2010.

Physicists at the U.S. lab will now turn to smaller, more focused projects -- such as building the most intense proton beam -- as they pass the high-energy physics baton to the European Organization for Nuclear Research's (CERN) bigger, better atom smasher.

"Nothing lasts forever at the edge of science," said Pier Oddone, director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois. "We need to move on to those aspects of physics where we can put our mark."

Oddone said Europe has outspent the United States by a factor of three, and the United States now has to be very clever and define very carefully how it uses its resources.

"I think we can maintain a leadership position in the world. We are going to not be where we were 30 years ago where we led in every domain of particle physics, but we are going to lead in a narrower domain," he said in a telephone interview.

The highest-profile project on that front is an effort to confirm the startling discovery last week at CERN of particles that move faster than the speed of light.

It now falls to scientists at Fermilab to confirm or disprove that as part of its MINOS experiment (Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search).

That will use Fermilab's Main Injector to hurl an intense beam of neutrinos 455 miles (732 km) through the Earth to the Soudan Mine in northern Minnesota.

If it can be verified, it will turn modern physics on its head.


In its near 26-year run, the Tevatron has taught many lessons about how to build and manage an accelerator of its size and complexity, and these have played a major role in the construction of the 16.7-mile (27 km) LHC ring at CERN.

"We built this machine to discover how the world is put together," Oddone said.

"It was a very daring machine in its time."

Tevatron's shining achievement was the discovery in 1995 of the top quark, the heaviest elementary particle known to exist.

Though it is as heavy as an atom of gold, the top quark's mass is crammed into an area far smaller than a single proton.

"Many machines were built around the world with the mission of discovering the top quark. It was only at the highest energy here that we found it," Oddone said.

The building of the Tevatron made contributions to the U.S. economy by bolstering the fledgling industry for superconducting cable to meet the Tevatron's need for 150,000 pounds (68,000 kg) of superconducting wire.

And while scientists largely believe the machine has outlived its useful life, lack of funding was the final blow for the Tevatron after the U.S. Department of Energy decided not to spend the $35 million needed to extend the Tevatron's operation through 2014.

As a result, many top U.S. physicists will continue research at a remote operation center that Fermilab has set up for scientists to monitor experiments at CERN.

Others will relocate to Europe.

"We are whores to the machines. We will go to wherever the machines are to do our science," said Rob Roser, co-spokesman for CDF, one of the two detectors that used the Tevatron.

"I personally will move to Europe to work on the next machine because we haven't finished answering the questions we're after, and I still find them very interesting and compelling. We've made good progress, but we are not done yet."

While the Tevatron will no longer be running experiments, Fermilab scientists have not given up hope of making a major contribution to finding the Higgs boson -- thought to be the agent which turned mass into solid matter soon after the Big Bang that created the universe 13.7 billion years ago.

Fermilab engineers and physicists have been furiously smashing particles together in the past several months, recreating the primal chaos of flying matter a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

The hope is that they will have accumulated enough data before the Tevatron shutdown to establish if the elusive Higgs boson exists in its long-predicted form.

If the particle does exist, scientists say it is running out of places to hide.

"We have cornered the Higgs into this particular space. By the time we analyze all the data, if it is not there, we will be able to say it is not there," Oddone said.

If the answer is no, scientists around the globe will have to rethink the 40-year-old Standard Model of particle physics which describes how they believe the cosmos works.

But if it is found, it will be up to the larger collider at CERN to confirm it.

(Editing by Eric Beech)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Killing of American in Yemen raises legal questions

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 05:14 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Legal experts who have long criticized a U.S. government program to kill members of al Qaeda abroad as a breach of international law say the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki on Friday may also have broken U.S. law.

Al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and has been linked to al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, was killed by a CIA drone strike in a remote Yemeni town, U.S. authorities said.

"The fact that (al-Awlaki) was a dual U.S.-Yemeni citizen means that he had extra protections under the U.S. constitution than he would not have had if he was just a Yemeni citizen," said Mary Ellen O'Connell, an international law professor at the University of Notre Dame's law school. "So the president has done something in my view that is highly questionable under our own Constitution."

Al-Awlaki, who lived in Virginia before leaving the United States shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, was the first U.S. citizen who the White House authorized U.S. agencies to kill since the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington a decade ago.

U.S. officials said al-Awlaki took a leadership role in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and was involved in failed terrorist attacks on U.S. targets. He also had contacts with a military psychiatrist accused of carrying out a deadly shooting rampage that killed 13 people in 2009 at the Fort Hood army base in Texas.


Under the Obama administration, the United States has stepped up its use of drone strikes to target alleged terrorists. In a speech last year, U.S. Department of State legal adviser Harold Koh defended the targeting of individuals, which he said complied with all "applicable law, including the laws of war."

Koh said that a "state that is engaged in an armed conflict or in legitimate self-defense is not required to provide targets with legal process before the state may use lethal force."

"Our procedures and practices for identifying lawful targets are extremely robust, and advanced technologies have helped to make our targeting even more precise," he said.

A former U.S. national security official said that a drone strike can be launched against someone who is on the target list by relatively low-level officials -- senior officers in the CIA's Counter-terrorism Center. When someone on the list is in the sights of a drone, there is no requirement that the CIA director, or even the head of the National Clandestine Service, personally sign off on pressing the button, the source said.

But before al-Awlaki's name was placed on the target list, the CIA sent it to the White House for approval because he was a U.S. citizen, the source said.

"As we've seen today, it's a program under which U.S. citizens far removed from the battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process and on the basis of standards and evidence that are secret," said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Last year, the ACLU and other civil liberties groups representing al-Awlaki's father lost a challenge to halt the Obama administration's program to capture or kill American citizens who join militant groups abroad.

U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington dismissed the case because he said the father lacked standing to bring the case and the court lacked jurisdiction over such a political case. However, he did not address the merits of the case and said it raised "vital considerations of national security and military and foreign affairs."


Some international law experts said that al-Awlaki's killing appeared to be on strong legal ground. Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, agreed al-Awlaki had rights under the U.S. constitution, but he said that other circumstances justified the government's actions.

Because the government had evidence that al-Awlaki posed an operational threat -- as opposed to just being a vocal supporter of terrorism -- and because there was no real likelihood that al-Awlaki could be arrested, the United States had a legal right to take action, Chesney said.

"The million dollar question is: does the killing of al-Awlaki mean that the government can kill any American at any time if they claim they have intelligence showing the person is a terrorist?," he said. "The answer is, no, I don't think it shows that all."

But other experts said the government should have tried to arrest al-Awlaki and bring him to a U.S. court. The flouting of the law on the heels of the Middle East's Arab Spring set a bad example for the region, said O'Connell of Notre Dame.

O'Connell said that, in contrast to the killing of Osama bin Laden -- which she said appeared to follow international law -- the al-Awlaki killing did not.

"It's ironic to me that bin Laden, so much worse as far as we know than al-Awlaki, gets a treatment that's closer to the rule of law than al-Awlaki," she said.

(Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by Eddie Evans)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Holly Madison insures breasts for US$1mil

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 02:23 AM PDT

NEW YORK: Reality TV star and model Holly Madison has insured her breasts for US$1 million with Lloyd's of London, she told People magazine on Thursday.

Madison, 31, said she took out the policy to protect herself and others in her Las Vegas production, "Peepshow."

"If anything happened to my boobs, I'd be out for a few months and I'd probably be out a million dollars," she told People. "I thought I'd cover my assets."

Madison has said she had plastic surgery in 2001 that took her from an A-cup size to a larger D-cup.

Madison, who gained fame as one of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's girlfriends on the TV series "The Girls Next Door," isn't alone in insuring famous body parts. Film stars Betty Grable and Angie Dickinson as well as TV stars Angie Everhart and Mary Hart each had their legs insured for $1 million.

Madison also was a contestant on TV show "Dancing With the Stars" before starting her Las Vegas show.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Rugby: New Zealand's McCaw misses Canada match with injury

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 05:53 PM PDT

WELLINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - New Zealand's Richie McCaw will miss their rugby World Cup game against Canada on Sunday because of an ongoing foot problem but the skipper is confident he will be available for the knockout stages of the tournament.

Flyhalf Dan Carter will take over the captaincy from McCaw, who has been replaced by flanker Victor Vito for the game in Wellington.

McCaw missed part of this year's Super rugby season due to the injury and had surgery in an attempt to fix the issue.

"My foot is a bit niggly. It's something I have managed all the way through," McCaw told reporters in Wellington on Saturday ahead of their final Pool A match, which the

All Blacks are expected to win easily.

"If I had to play tomorrow in a knockout game I would have, but the decision was to make sure I'm right next week."

The All Blacks have already secured top spot in Pool A and a quarter-final berth with wins over Tonga, Japan and France. They will play the runners-up in Pool B, likely to be Argentina, in the quarter-finals next week.

"I probably could have played (against Canada) but it's the cumulative effect where it might take an extra day (to recover) because of the extra load I have had," McCaw said.

"You play at times with niggles every week, it's just the reality of every player, you play with those things. "(But) there is a difference between tough and playing because you're a bit sore and being stupid.

"At times you just play when you can do your job properly without doing anything silly. But there comes a point where you don't play because obviously you can't do your job."

The match will be the second McCaw has missed at the World Cup after he was a late withdrawal from the side to play Japan but he was confident he should be available for every game through the knockout phases.

"You haven't got a crystal ball but if it has been like it has all week then it should be okay (to play three successive knockout games if needed).

"It's something I have dealt with up till this point and it's something I have to deal with.

"I've had my head around it for a long time and if you're going to play it's something you have to manage." (Editing by Peter Rutherford. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

Olympics-Boxing body asks BBC to assist medals probe

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 05:47 PM PDT

Sept 30 (Reuters) - Amateur boxing's world body has formally asked the BBC to provide evidence behind its allegations that Azerbaijan was promised two gold medals at next year's London Olympics in exchange for a $9 million loan.

The claims, strongly denied by the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA), were aired on Sept. 23 on BBC's Newsnight programme.

The BBC said it had uncovered evidence of 'secret payments' from a mystery source in Azerbaijan to World Series Boxing (WSB), a competition run under the auspices of AIBA.

Despite dismissing the allegations as "preposterous and utterly untrue", Swiss-based AIBA has set up a committee to investigate and said in a statement on Friday that the first meeting would be next week.

"The Committee Chairman has written to the BBC to formally request that it assist the Committee in its investigation by providing all evidence relied upon by the BBC in support of its allegations," AIBA said.

"The Committee will hold its first meeting on 6 October," added the body, currently busy with the amateur world championships in Baku.

"For the time being, and until the Committee has conducted its full investigation, AIBA will not be in a position to make any further communications regarding these allegations."

Frans Steyn blow for South Africa after Samoa ordeal

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 05:45 PM PDT

AUCKLAND, Oct 1 (Reuters) - South Africa's Frans Steyn is likely to miss the rest of the rugby World Cup after injuring his shoulder in the win over Samoa that secured the world champions' place in the last eight, coach Peter De Villiers said on Saturday.

Steyn, who can play at flyhalf but is normally a fullback or winger, played in the centres in the bruising 13-5 victory over the Pacific Islanders at Albany on Friday night and kicked a penalty from 55 metres.

Apart from Steyn's versatility, the 24-year-old's ability to convert penalties from well within his own half is a potent weapon in the kind of pressure game that South Africa play.

"Frans Steyn is likely to go home," De Villiers said.

"His shoulder isn't that good. The doctor will confirm it 100 percent this morning, but it's 95 percent that he's on his way home and that is a big blow for us."

Bryan Habana, who scored the only try of the game, and fellow winger JP Pietersen also suffered knocks in the match but De Villiers was cautiously optimistic they would recover in time to be available for next weekend's quarter-finals.

De Villiers has spent much of the international season scrabbling around to fill his second row after a string of injuries to locks, however, and bemoaned the misfortune of again being depleted so badly in one department.

"All those kind of guys they've got battle scars and that's all," De Villiers added.

"I don't know what's wrong with us, when we get an injury in one position we get it in one position. We had a lock (problem), and suddenly we lost three wings in one game.

"When lady luck turns her back on us, she turns it properly on us."

South Africa are likely to meet Australia in their first knockout game in Wellington next Sunday.

The Wallabies beat South Africa home and away on the way to claiming the Tri-Nations title earlier this year but De Villiers said his team would be encouraged by Australia's defeat to Ireland in their second pool match.

"It's now about only one game, the only game that can either take you forward or stop you," he said.

"We're playing against the (Tri Nations) champions. That's fine. But Ireland beat them so that's something to look out for."

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

How the logic evolved

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 06:08 PM PDT

Title: Zero-Sum World

Author: Gideon Rachman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

We live in a zero-sum world ruled by zero-sum logic. This logic has prevented nations from reaching cooperative and meaningful measures to combat problems such as global warming and shortages of resources. It is due mainly to this logic that pressing issues such as nuclear proliferation are unresolved and financial shambles continue to emerge.

Zero-sum logic yields no benefit and arises when nations think an action comes at the expense of crippling their own domestic economies, and so boosting the relative power and wealth of rivals. This logic explains the Chinese reluctance to agree on tougher sanctions against Iran, its major oil supplier. It also explicates America's silence on Chinese human rights in recent years China has the world's largest consumer market. This zero-sum predicament, emerges as a result of dwindling financial and natural resources, has ushered mankind into a new era the age of anxiety in which and at best, countries turn inward and the spirit of nationalism/protectionism revived. At worst, the future is as bleak as Gideon Rachman paints it in this wonderful eye-opening book:

"Among the biggest risks is the danger of a major new war in the Middle East, provoked by a failure to rein in Iran's nuclear programme. The debt crisis in Europe or trade wars, triggered by American anger at Chinese mercantilism, could plunge the world economy into a severe new downturn. The inability to stabilise failing states could see countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan slipping further into violent anarchy, with dangerous consequences for the rest of the world. Over the longer term, a failure to deal with climate change could provoke the most serious international crisis of all leading to flooding, famine, mass migration, and even war."

Sounds worrying but this book must be read not for us to be tormented by gruesome facts of life, but for us to understand the workings of international systems such as EU and UN. It is for us to know the forces that have driven international economic and political change for the past half-century and for us to possibly envision a future spawned from the chaos we are experiencing.

The world evolves not only China and the United States. Unlike many authors who tend to focus on these two super nations, Rachman includes in his analysis a host of other countries he thinks are equally important in the shaping of the world, whether it is past, present or future. Pakistan, though fractured, remains now the most dangerous international problem and this book explains why. The Soviet Union, seemingly defeated by the end of the Cold War, is silently charging and instigating, according to Rachman.

The predecessor of Anxiety is the Age of Optimism (1991-2008) in which the ever more efficient global market enriched potentially every nation and everyone who embraced free trade. It was an age of personal freedom, technological advancement, financial empowerment and economic prosperity across the world. It belonged to the Internet (which has connected the world), Wall Street (which had spurred the world with easy money), Alan Greenspan (who had thought less stringent law equaled wealth creation), and Bill Clinton, (who had firmly believed that free trade, globalisation, capitalism and democracy are not only the source of global prosperity but also democracy enlargement).

Clinton's ideology, adopted and adored by many, has not panned out as desired. In fact, free trade has renewed nation rivalries, globalisation has flooded the world with more goods, capitalism has created financial criminality, and full democracy has not been achieved in China. Yet, the world remained obstinately optimistic.

Preceding Optimism is the Age of Transformation (1978-1991). Many political and economic epochs took place in this era when China/India transformed, Europe united, the United State deregulated, and Britain revolutionised. Rachman witnessed all these when he travelled around the world as a reporter following the spread of democracy. His own reflection on this age enriches his analysis; his anecdotes on the events he attended and places he was stationed in personalise the collapse of Communism and familiarise readers with Thatcher and Reagan.

A book is good when the author is able to take you to places. Rachman does, vividly and engagingly. Well written, this book takes you not too far back in history but far enough to significant places to read for yourself about the world as it evolved and progresses. I have sat through this journey by reading the well-organised chapters in which the intricacies and complexity of international economics and geopolitics were bared and laid out.

As Rachman concludes, the 2008 economic crash, the weakening of American power and the emergence of a set of intractable global political problems have changed the win-win world of the Age of Optimism to the present Zero-sum world. The most important question looming ahead is the future of China. After reading this book, I cannot agree more.


Serious on Boomerang scheme

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 06:07 PM PDT

THE Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) is getting tough on members that fail to achieve enough points under the Boomerang Membership Accreditation Programme (BMAP).

The 4As introduced BMAP two years ago to uplift the professional standing of ad agencies in the country and their staff.

Its members are required to participate in industry-relevant training programmes and other activities approved by the association in order to earn BMAP points.

Last year it became a by-law that each agency, depending on its size, has to accumulate a certain amount of points within the 12-month period ending March in order to remain a 4As member.

For example, an agency with less than 15 full-time staff has to garner 200 points, while those with more than 75 employees have to rack up 750 points.

Karthi Palanisamy, convenor of the BMAP, says that the 4As, which has just over 100 members, is getting serious about BMAP. And it is doing its part to make it as easy as possible for members to gain the required points.

The first year of BMAP was a trial period to see how agencies would accept this programme.

"In the first year, there was a lukewarm response. But in the last one year, we have got a lot more traction as agencies realise the importance of it," Karthi tells StarBizWeek.

However, they are still laggards. Hence the 4As last week sent letters of termination to 19 agencies because of non-fulfillment of Boomerang points.

"They are given until the first week of October to appeal," he says.

While Karthi does not name the under-achieving members, he notes that there are a few international agencies among them.

He hopes all the agencies would appeal. "We are not doing this just to terminate members. We need to move away from agencies becoming 4As members for pitching purposes," he says.

"At the end of the day, your agency would become equipped with well-trained people and it raises the standard of the industry. In time, we want to be seen like the legal profession where you have to achieve an X number of CPD (continuing professional development) points to renew your practising certificate," he says.

The agencies were given ample time to comply. At the last 4As biennial general meeting (BGM) in March, the period of achieving the BMAP points was extended by three months.

Karthi says that after the last BGM, the 4As sent letters to 39 agencies, of which 16 have started achieving their points and four have appealed.

He says that the entire Boomerang programme is designed in such a way that it is easy for agencies to participate. Even non-advertising courses such as accounting or tax may be accorded BMAP points. An in-house workshop may also be given BMAP points.

The 4As training credits committee evaluates training programmes, talks or seminars by private institutions and gives them between five and 100 points based on the speakers and the industry relevancy.

However, only 60% of an agency's total BMAP points can be achieved via training. The rest must to be through service and participation, such as attending the 4As AGM/EGM/BGM, submitting entries to the Malaysia Effie Awards and the Kancil Awards, being on the jury for those awards, and being a guest lecturer at IACT College, which was founded by the 4As and the Malaysian Advertisers Association.

"(4As president) Tony Savarimuthu has emphasised that we need to start engaging a lot more agencies to play a role in the 4As. Hence this service element is also something we want to push," says Karthi.

Karthi, who manages a 14-person creative and PR agency called Crush Communications (M) Sdn Bhd, says that the 4As has made it very easy, especially for smaller agencies.

"My agency needs only to achieve 200 points, with 120 points having to be for training. If I sent two of my staff for training over a one-year period, I would have achieved the points. And for service, if I attend the AGM, I would get 100 points," he says.

Attending the 4As AGM, EGM or BGM earns the agency 100 points, according to the 4As BMAP handbook. Being co-opted for special projects gives 50 points. Attending a 4As training programme gets the agency 50 points, while programmes given by 4As' associates IACT and 95% The Advertising Academy are accorded 20 points each.

Karthi says the association is also looking at more affordable programmes costing RM300 to RM400 to accommodate the smaller agencies. At present, only a tiny percentage (he estimates 10% to 15%) of the training programmes is within that price range.

"When we sent out letters to agencies recently that they had only achieved certain BMAP points, we got complaints that courses were expensive. Every time an agency comes to us and tells us something is an issue, we'd do something about it. The Boomerang process needs to get a buy-in. We are listening to those whom we don't get a buy-in and are trying to meet their expectations."

The 4As is awaiting a response from the Malaysian Institute of Management to inform it of MIM's programmes that could be accredited.

"We want to do this with other professional organisations, too. This will give our members a wider choice of training programmes to get their BMAP points," he says, adding that the external programmes, however, have to be industry-relevant.

The training credits committee will be looking at including graduate programmes in the next six months, Karthi says. The association is also looking at foreign training providers that can help it design specific programmes catering to the industry.

"We want to evolve the Boomerang programme. Maybe in time, the Boomerang logo can go into name cards to show that the agencies are Boomerang-compliant," he says.


SMEs want re-investment allowance period extended, among others

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 06:06 PM PDT

EXTENDING the re-investment allowance period, setting up a special fund for automation, lowering corporate tax and reducing the retirement age are some of the pertinent proposals which industry observers feel should be incorporated into the upcoming budget for the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector to be one of the country's leading economic growth drivers.

SMI (small and medium industry) Association of Malaysia national president Chua Tiam Wee says the reinvestment allowance period should be extended. He says many SME retailers who intend to renovate or refurbish their outlets have not been able to do so as they are not allowed to use the re-investment allowance. Hence, the association hopes the Government will be more flexible and allow the extension as it will further spur investments by SMEs.

For those SMEs investing abroad, Chua adds that the Government should set up Malaysian SME Industrial parks overseas as successfully done by Singapore. One example is the Singapore Vietnam Industrial Park for the republic's investments in Vietnam.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia SMEs deputy chairman Koong Lin Loong agrees. One of the main reasons for the lackluster investment activity on the local scene has been due to insufficient re-investment incentives, he says, adding that therefore there is a need to further enhance the attractiveness of the re-investment allowance currently offered to manufacturers.

"For Budget 2012, the re-investment allowance should be extended to at least 30 years. Furthermore, the length of moratorium period before eligibility to re-investment allowance should also be shortened from 36 months to 12 months, as it has led to many manufacturers to defer their investment plans so as to enjoy the tax incentive,'' Koong tells StarBizWeek.

Chua feels the current foreign workers levies that are paid by employers for their foreign workers should instead be placed in a fund and be allowed by the SMEs to use for automation of their plant or programmes to reduce unnecessary foreign workforce.

On top of this, he says the compulsory annual audits which SMEs are required to submit should at the same time be exempted to make it "friendly" for SMEs to do business as the current penalty for non-submission is very high.

Due to the lack of funding, the association proposes that more funding be allocated to SME-related agencies like SME Corp and Matrade to help more SMEs, especially in development programmes such as overseas market penetration via the Market Development Grant and other programmes, as many grants are still being frozen since December 2009 or are being cut.

Chua says the popular Working Capital Guarantee Scheme should be further topped up as it has been quickly utilised even though the scheme was topped up by RM3bil to RM10bil at the beginning of this year.

Koong says there is a need for the Government to lower the current rate of corporate tax from 25% currently to 24% in 2012, and 23% in 2013 to attract and retain private investment. Over a longer term, he urges the Government to reduce the rate of corporate tax in Malaysia to 17% so as to be on a par with Singapore. He says the threshold for taxable income at 20% for the first RM500,000 should be increased to RM1mil for companies with a paid-up capital of no more than RM2.5mil, which consists mostly of SMEs.

Meanwhile, managing director of Innosol (M) Sdn Bhd Dr Umasuthan Kaloo, who is also the author of Managing Small Enterprises, says the retirement age of SME workers should be reduced as it will benefit the sector.

"Prospective employees of all ages shun the SME sector which is widely perceived as "sweat shops" which pay minimal wages.

"If the retirement age is kept low, combined with the longer working life expectancy from improved healthcare, the supply of experienced manpower in the labour market will improve significantly.

"The increased supply combined with the reduced mobility of older workers to move or migrate, will contribute towards increasing the supply of manpower to SMEs in Malaysia,'' he notes.


Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Holly Madison insures breasts for $1 million

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 03:49 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters): Reality TV star and model Holly Madison has insured her breasts for $1 million with Lloyd's of London, she told People magazine on Thursday.

Madison, 31, said she took out the policy to protect herself and others in her Las Vegas production, "Peepshow."

Sean Penn joins Egyptians in Tahrir Square protest

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 03:46 PM PDT

CAIRO, (Reuters): U.S. actor Sean Penn joined thousands of Egyptian activists who packed downtown Cairo on Friday demanding that military rulers speed up the transfer of power to civilians and end emergency laws once used by Hosni Mubarak against his opponents.

Local media said Penn, holding an Egyptian flag, walked with Egyptian actor Khaled el-Nabawi in Tahrir Square, where Egyptians demonstrated in what they dubbed as ''Reclaiming the Revolution'' day amid growing discontent over the way military rulers had managed the transitional period.

''The world is inspired by the call for freedom by the courageous revolution of Egypt for its freedom,'' Penn said in remarks carried by Al-Ahram newspaper's online page.

''Clearly that is not a completion overnight, there are still struggles forward, there are constitutional issues, there is ... a transition of power from the military to the people,'' he added.

Nabawi said he had invited the Oscar-winning Penn to visit Egypt as part of efforts to demonstrate that Egypt was a safe place to visit despite the uprising. ''We want to show that Egypt is safe,'' Nabawi said.

The military council has announced that parliamentary elections will start on Nov. 28 with a mixed system of proportional representation and individual lists. Most political groups fear the system will allow Mubarak supporters to return to office.

''This week is different because we feel that our revolution has been stolen from us,'' said Yasser Fouad, an unemployed 38-year-old, his voice drowned out by loudspeakers urging people to ensure the protest remained peaceful.

''None of our demands have been achieved. We want them to hand over power immediately through elections,'' Fouad said.

Mahmoud Sayyid Saif, 58, who works at the Health Ministry, said Egyptians would no longer put up with inaction. ''It has been seven months, and nothing has been achieved,'' he said.

Hundreds of youths later tried to march towards the military council's headquarters but were blocked by military police who forced them to return back to Tahrir Square, witnesses said. The march caused severe traffic jams but there were no reports of injuries. WARNING

The ruling military council has warned demonstrators against attacking public facilities, but soldiers and security forces stayed away from the square.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political force, said on its website that it would not join the protest. But social media websites said many youths vowed to defy the orders from the group's leadership and join the protest.

Egyptians have grown more vocal in criticizing the military council's handling of the transitional period. Six presidential hopefuls on Thursday issued a statement demanding that the council set March as the deadline for handing over power.

They also declared that the state of emergency legally expired on Friday. The military council has said it will stay in force until next year.

''The state of emergency in place now will come to an end on Sept. 30, 2011, in accordance with article 59 of the constitutional decree, and any decision or judicial ruling issued after Sept. 30, 2011 based on the state of emergency will be null of any legal or constitutional legitimacy,'' the presidential candidates' statement said.

They also demanded reactivation of a law dating back to the 1950s that criminalizes abuse of office, to make it possible to try remnants of the Mubarak regime and ''render them incapable of sneaking back to the seats of the legislative authority.''

Some 60 political parties issued a joint statement earlier this week with similar demands. They also gave the military council until Sunday to amend election laws to allow political parties to also compete for seats allocated to individuals.

Egypt's Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday that the government was considering the request.

Thousands of Egyptians also marched in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and in the city of Suez. Witnesses said the protests were peaceful.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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Finas not blocking film Nasi Lemak 2.0, says DG

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 06:44 AM PDT

Published: Friday September 30, 2011 MYT 9:30:00 PM
Updated: Friday September 30, 2011 MYT 9:44:34 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Film Development Corporation (Finas) has nothing to do with the censoring of the film Nasi Lemak 2.0 produced by controversial producer Namewee.

Its director-general Mohd Naguib Razak said that responsibility was with the Film Censorship Board and Home Affairs Ministry.

"The film Nasi Lemak 2.0 has been viewed with prejudice because the producer had sparked a controversy before.

"As a result of this, the new film which wants to promote unity and foster the 1Malaysia spirit suffered," he said in a statement.

Mohd Naguib said Finas would not block efforts by anyone who produced films with their own funds. BERNAMA

Related Stories:
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Namewee cooks up a laugh with Nasi Lemak 2.0

Najib welcomes Guan Eng's apology over Johor remarks

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 06:42 AM PDT

Published: Friday September 30, 2011 MYT 9:42:00 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Friday welcomed the apology from Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for his disparaging remarks about Johor.

The Prime Minister said the apology meant that Lim admitted to going "beyond the bounds" in his remarks.

"We have the recording which makes it difficult for him to deny what he did. If he could deny it, he would not have apologised," Najib told reporters after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting.

"Many people had asked him to apologise, including Tuanku (Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar). The Deputy Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) had made a strong statement... and he (Lim) has accepted that he made a mistake in this matter," Najib said. BERNAMA

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Respect lantern festival as cultural activity, says MCA Youth

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 06:18 AM PDT

Published: Friday September 30, 2011 MYT 9:19:00 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA Youth wants the Pasir Puteh Land office in Kelantan to respect the Lantern Festival as a cultural activity.

The land office has issued a notice to SK Kai Chih for organising the festival on Sept 15.

MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said the notice had stated that the school had organised an entertainment activity without a license.

"Since when has the Tanglung festival become an entertainment activity?. Is this the PAS way of being sensitive to Chinese culture and beliefs?" he told reporters after chairing the MCA Youth central committee meeting.

Wee, who is Deputy Education Minister, said the festival is a cultural activity which should be respected.

The notice stated that action could be taken against the school under the Entertainment and Control of Entertainment Outlets Enactment 1998.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Books galore

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 12:40 AM PDT


Pavilion KL
Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (03) 2118 8833 (Pavilion KL Concierge)
TODAY AND TOMORROW: Enjoy exciting happy hour deals and entertainment at the international German beer festival celebration, Oktoberfest, at Pavilion KL. To purchase the RM1 Deal coupon to redeem half a pint of Starker beer at OverTime, Level 4 (limited to 100 glasses a day), just be at Connection, Level 3 at 8.30pm sharp tonight.

There will be an arm wrestling competition at 8.30pm in OverTime tonight. Winners will be rewarded with RM200 cash vouchers. At 9.30pm tonight and tomorrow, there will also be a search for the "chugging champ", where winners will walk away with Davidoff Hot Water hampers and RM100 OverTime cash vouchers.


Eco-Oasis Organic Cafe
7, Jalan Riong (off Jalan Maarof)
Bangsar Baru
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (03) 2284 2393
www.eco-oasis.my / www.facebook.com.EcoOasisMY/
OCT 7 TO 13: If you're tired, stressed out, battling weight issues or simply concerned about your health, come embark on a seven-day detox and rejuvenation programme with nutritional consultant Elke Wollschon, who has been involved in the field of alternative healing for over 30 years. Call ahead to register and book an appointment with Wollschon. Time: Between 11am to 8.30pm.

Malaysia Agro Exposition Park (MAEPS)
Serdang, Selangor
Tel: (03) 7956 0455
E-mail: info@bookxcess.com www.bigbadwolfbooks.com / www.facebook.com/bbwbooks
OCT 7 TO 16: BookXcess is organising the fourth edition of the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale, offering more than 1.5 million books sourced from various points across the world – last year, the event attracted over 80,000 fans. All books in every category will be sold at discounts ranging between 75% and 95%. There will be a wide selection of reads ranging from the latest paperbacks, coffee table books and box sets to pop-up art books and backdated imported magazines. Free admission.

MOSAIC Community Studio
S20, 2nd Floor
Centrepoint, Bandar Utama
Petaling Jaya
Tel: 1700-81-5225
OCT 15: Each year, an estimated 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes around the world and about 240,000 are injured. If this worries you, take part in the lightning safety workshop and get answers to questions like: "Am I safe indoors during a lightning storm?", "If I'm caught outdoors during a lightning storm, where's the best place to be?", "Is a fire and lightning policy my best option for equipment and user safety?" and more. Seats are limited. Please call ahead to make a reservation. The first 20 to register will receive a mystery gift as well as a gift voucher. Time: 1.30pm to 2.30pm.


Tel: 012-380 0065 (Daniel)
OCT 5: Want to learn to speak French and Spanish fast? Under the trainer's guidance, you will speak the language within a short period of time. Classes are activity-based and interactive. Call for details. New intake for Spanish Level 1 starts Oct 5.


Eco-Oasis Organic Cafe
7, Jalan Riong (off Jalan Maarof)
Bangsar Baru
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (03) 4260 1051 / 016-301 8081
E-mail: charlotte@donvang.com
www.donvang.com / colours.eventbrite.com
OCT 11: Find out how colours can be used to reduce stress or promote clarity, or simply add fun to your day in this free talk by Charlotte Donvang, a Danish artist, healer and life artiste living in Malaysia. Discover the benefits of mixing and matching hues and learn why you should wear certain colours when.

Get insight into how colours can affect your health and how you should be applying them in your surroundings. Please book ahead as seats are limited. Time: 7.30pm to 9.30pm.


Dewan Filharmonik Petronas
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (03) 2051 7007
E-mail Bookings: dfp_boxoffice@petronas.com.my
TODAY: The Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) will be holding a concert called Thematic Variations, led by conductor Kevin Field, featuring a repertoire that includes Symphony No.94 in G 'Surprise' composed by Franz Joseph Haydn, Variations on a Theme by Haydn (Op.56) by Johannes Brahms, Hungarian Sketches by Béla Bartók and Peacock Variations composed by Zoltan Kodály. Ticket price: RM35 (RM15 for students). Time: 3pm.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Base jumping now a part of Archana's life

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 04:24 AM PDT

THE slow-paced life of Archana Sardana took an about-turn after marrying her husband, an outdoor sports fanatic, a decade ago.

"He does everything from mountaineering, scuba-diving, rafting, sky diving and base-jumping," said the 38-year-old who then followed her husband's footsteps after much persuasion.

The mother of two, who is now in Kuala Lumpur for the Kuala Lumpur International Jump Malaysia 2011, said she had never participated in any sports before and had led a slow-paced life at home after graduating in interior design and science.

"My husband started me off with climbing mountains in Uttaranchal, India, and now sky diving," said Archana who came alone for the event as her husband who is with the Indian navy was away on work.

Being the first and only Indian woman base jumper is a title Archana carries with pride and hopes more women will join her in the sport one day.

Archana, who learnt her sky-diving techniques in California, United States, has completed 250 sky dives and 37 base jumps over the past three years.

This weekend she will be joining 90 others from all over the world to jump off the 421m KL Tower.

She is also one of five women base jumpers in the event.

"It is not easy to be able to leap off a tower. Many countries do not allow it but I am glad Malaysia allows it as well as encourages and supports such sports," said Archana who is in Kuala Lumpur for the second time.

The event, which started on Wednesday, will end on Sunday. There will be jumps from 10am to 6pm. Night jumps which were introduced last year will be held today and tomorrow from 8.30pm to 10.30pm.

Visitors can watch the event at the tower's open deck with exclusive premier tickets priced at RM100 and RM150 for the day event.

For the night event the tickets are priced at RM150 and RM200.

Menara Kuala Lumpur chief executive officer Zuraidah Mohd Said and chairman Tan Sri Md Radzi Mansor launched the event on Wednesday and had a get-together session with the base jumpers.

Metro Watch

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 04:19 AM PDT

Festival of The Mind

Visit the Malaysia Festival of The Mind VII to explore and develop thebrain to the fullest. Jointly-organised by The Malaysia Mental Literacy Movement, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tunku Abdul Rahman College, the festival will be held this weekend from 10am to 5pm, at Tunku Abdul Rahman College Main Campus, College Hall, Jalan Genting Kelang, Setapak, KL. It will feature exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations, games and public talks. The festival is open to the public and admission is free. Admission to all talks is on a first-come-first-served basis. Registration is required for the talk by Tony Fernandes as seats are limited. For registration, contact Chua Jye Ying / Hor Sin Yee at 03-7958 2628 ext 8550 / 7128.

Charity Golf tournament

The St. Michael's Institution Alumni Association, Klang Valley will hold its annual charity golf tournament at the Kelab Rahman Putra Malaysia in Sungai Buloh on Oct 29 to raise funds to help needy students at the school. The event is open to all golfers and begins with breakfast at 7am, followed by tee-off at 8am. The winner will walk away with the Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik Challenge Trophy. Donation is RM300 per participant (RM250 for members of Kelab Rahman Putra). For details, call Siew Seng at 012-372 3326, Francis at 012-366 1223 or Michael at 019-222 5660. For the location of the club, visit www.krpm.com.my

Photo exhibition

A photo exhibition entitled "A photographic journey of the Dhamma-farers" by Ven Ajahn Cagino will be held in Bandar Utama Buddhist Society, 3 Jalan BU 3/1 , Bandar Utama from 10.30am to 10pm today till Oct 2. It will continue at 1Utama shopping centre on Oct 8 and 9, 10am to 10pm. For info, call 012-329 0183 or log on to www.Dhammagiri.or.th

Nine Emperor Gods Festival

The Nine Emperor Gods Temple at SS9A/4, Sungai Way, PJ, will be celebrating this year's Nine Emperor Gods Festival for the last time at the current temple site because next year, the temple will move to a brand new and much bigger temple in SS9A/5, Sungai Way. The celebration will be held from now till Oct 5. Devotees can make cash donations directly to the construction of the new temple. For details, call the temple at 03-7874 3509.

Food fair

The International Women's Asso­ciation Kuala Lumpur will have their annual International Food Fair and Bazaar 2011 on Oct 2 at the Corus Hotel from 10am to 5pm. The aim is to raise funds for Rumah Anak Kesayangku, Bukit Beruntung, a home for orphans, single mothers and the underprivileged society. For queries, call president Shakilah Meraslam at 03-6257 0717 / Fax: 03-6257 8727 / e-mail: iwakul@gmail.com

Fish Leong

Malaysian songstress Fish Leong will be making her first public appearance as Pure Beauty brand ambassador tomorrow at Sunway Pyramid (2.30pm-3.30pm) and Jusco Cheras Selatan (5.30pm-6.30pm). Pure Beauty is exclusively marketed by Watsons. For details, call Sarah Kow, 03-2143 2386.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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