Isnin, 31 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

TV Land airs 'Roseanne' Halloween marathon Monday night

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 05:02 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES ( Few sitcoms have ever celebrated Halloween as reverently as ''Roseanne,'' since the spooky holiday was, to the Connor family, every bit as important as Christmas.

Mill Creek Entertainment recently released a DVD collection of the classic comedy's Halloween efforts, but TV Land is offering viewers a holiday-appropriate treat tonight with an eight-episode marathon of Roseanne's All Hallow's Eve efforts.

That means Roseanne dressed up as a lumberjack (and messing with some sexist braggarts at the Lobo), Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley getting all ''Rosemary's Baby'' with Roseanne. It kicks off with the episode ''Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down,'' in which a pre-''ER'' George Clooney guests as Jackie's boyfriend, Booker.

Treat, indeed.

''Roseanne'' airs tonight at 1/12c on TV Land.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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Libya elects little-known scientist new prime minister


TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's ruling National Transitional Council has elected little-known academic Abdul Raheem al-Keeb as the new interim prime minister to guide the country as it emerges from a bitter civil war towards a new constitution and democratic elections.

Libya's newly elected Prime Minister Abdul al-Raheem al-Qeeb (L) shakes hands with National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil at the end of a public vote in Tripoli October 31, 2011. (REUTERS/Ismail Zetouny)

With vast oil and gas reserves and a relatively small population, Libya has the potential to become a prosperous nation, but regional rivalries pent up during Muammar Gaddafi's 42 years of one-man rule could descend into a cycle of revenge.

Keeb, a professor of electrical engineering, will have to rein in the armed militias that sprang up in each town to overthrow Gaddafi and reconcile those remaining loyal to the old rule while brokering a new system to govern the country.

"We salute and remember the revolutionaries who we will never forget. We will not forget their families," he said. "I say to them that the NTC did not and will not forget them and also the coming government will do the same."

The NTC has promised to hold elections for a national assembly after eight months. The assembly will then spend a year drawing up a constitution ahead of parliamentary elections.

"This transition period has its own challenges. One thing we will be doing is working very closely with the NTC and listening to the Libyan people," Keeb said after 26 of the 51 NTC members elected him for the post in Tripoli on Monday.

An academic and a businessman, Keeb has spent much of his life outside Libya, studying in the United States before taking up academic posts in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

NTC members described Keeb as "quiet and friendly" and said he had helped with the financing of the revolt against Gaddafi.


The prime minister said he expected to choose his cabinet ministers within two weeks.

"We said we would (elect a cabinet) a month from the liberation. We have two weeks left and we intend to meet that deadline."

Keeb did not set out any specific plans for the coming months, but said that worries over foreign oil contracts were unfounded. "We understand that we had 42 years with a brutal dictator ... concerns are in order. But there should be none of them," he said. "We demand respect for our national rights."

Interim Oil Minister Ali Tarhouni had been favourite to become prime minister, but received only three votes, highlighting the unpredictable nature of the emerging politics in the North African state.

Many analysts have pointed to the divisions emerging within the NTC, but Keeb said any fears were unfounded.

"Within the NTC, what you see is democracy in practice. This is new for us in Libya. This is democracy in practice," he said.

The hoped-for departure towards peaceful politics comes as NATO ended its military intervention in Libya which helped bring about the death of Gaddafi.

"It's great to be in Libya, free Libya," NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a news conference in the capital Tripoli.

"We acted to protect you. Together we succeeded. Libya is finally free, from Benghazi to Brega, from Misrata to the Western Mountains and to Tripoli."

A NATO statement said an Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft used for coordinating the air and sea mission concluded the last alliance flight of the Libyan operation at midnight Libyan time.

It said that since the beginning of the NATO operation, NATO aircraft conducted more than 26,500 sorties, including 9,700 strike missions.

"With this, a successful chapter in NATO's history has come to an end," the statement said.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Brussels; Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Alison Williams)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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In Tripoli, NATO chief hails "free Libya"


TRIPOLI (Reuters) - NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday hailed the end of the alliance's military intervention in Libya, which helped bring about the death of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (front 2nd L) walks beside NTC Defence Minister Jalal al-Digheily (front 2nd R) upon his arrival at Mitiga airport in Tripoli October 31, 2011. (REUTERS/Ismail Zietouny)

"It's great to be in Libya, free Libya," Rasmussen told a news conference in the capital Tripoli. "We acted to protect you. Together we succeeded. Libya is finally free, from Benghazi to Brega, from Misrata to the Western Mountains and to Tripoli."

He said he was proud of the part NATO had played in the seven-month insurgency against Gaddafi, in which NATO planes and ships turned their firepower on his forces.

Shortly after Rasmussen spoke, members of the ruling National Transitional Council elected a new interim prime minister, whose predecessor resigned after Libya was officially declared liberated.

"At midnight tonight a successful chapter in NATO history will come to an end. You have already started writing a new chapter in Libya's history. Our commanders were very careful to make sure we did not harm you or your families," he said.

Despite Rasmussen's depiction of the mission, the NATO intervention caused sharp rifts in the alliance and lasted much longer than Western nations had expected or wanted.

NATO stuck to its decision to end the operation despite NTC calls for it to stay engaged longer and says it does not expect to play a major post-war role, though it could assist the transition to democracy by helping with security sector reform.

NATO took over the mission on March 31, based on a United Nations mandate that set a no-fly zone over Libya and permitted foreign military forces, including NATO, to use "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians.

That mandate was terminated last Thursday, despite a request for the U.N. Security Council to wait for the NTC to decide if it wanted NATO help to secure its borders.

The mission was criticised by some countries, notably Russia and China, which, after co-sponsoring the U.N. resolution authorising intervention in Libya, accused NATO of overstepping its mandate to protect civilians.


NATO allies have been keen to see a quick conclusion to a costly effort that has involved more than 26,000 air sorties and round-the-clock naval patrols at a time when budgets are under severe strain because of the global economic crisis.

But NATO officials said members of the alliance are free to give further security aid to Libya individually.

The NTC officially announced Libya's liberation on Oct. 23, days after the capture and killing of Gaddafi. NATO commanders have said they believe the interim administration is able to take care of the country's security.

In a sign that the NTC is pressing ahead with rebuilding the administration, Tripoli academic Abdul al-Raheem al-Qeeb was elected interim prime minister on Monday in a vote conducted by NTC members in front of reporters.

The previous interim prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, fulfilled a promise to resign after Libya was declared officially "liberated" after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's home town Sirte and his subsequent killing.

The NTC has promised to hold elections after eight months for a national assembly that will spend a year drawing up a new constitution before a parliamentary poll.

Libya has been the first NATO operation in which the United States sought to step back from a leading role and prompted some sharp criticism from Washington of the capabilities of allies after they failed to secure the quick results hoped for.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, and the alliance's top operations commander, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, hailed the success of the mission on Monday in a commentary in the New York Times, but reiterated the need for allies to address the shortcomings in capabilities it revealed.

While calling it a "true alliance effort" in which non-U.S. allies flew 75 percent of the air missions, they said the United States played a leading role in destroying Libya's air defence system and providing crucial resources, including the vast majority of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and the aerial refuelling assets.

Fourteen NATO members and four other states provided naval and air forces, but only eight NATO nations took part in combat missions. Some big NATO states, notably Germany, had opposed the intervention.

Daalder and Stavridis said U.S. planes flew a quarter of all sorties over Libya, France and Britain a third of all missions -- most of them strike operations -- and the remaining participants flew roughly 40 percent.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Brussels; Writing by Barry Malone; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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UNESCO grants Palestinians full membership


PARIS (Reuters) - The United Nations' cultural agency granted the Palestinians full membership on Monday, a step forward in their long-running efforts to achieve recognition before the world as an independent state.

Delegates applaud after the vote at the UNESCO headquarters where the United Nations' cultural agency decided to give the Palestinians full membership of the body, a vote that will boost their bid for recognition as a state at the United Nations, during the 36th session of UNESCO's General Conference in Paris October 31, 2011. (REUTERS/Benoit Tessie)

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) became the first U.N. agency to welcome the Palestinians as a full member since President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on Sept. 23.

A huge cheer erupted in UNESCO's General Assembly after the vote, which marks a symbolic victory for Palestinians in the complex diplomacy that surrounds their collective status and relations with foreign powers.

"Today's victory at UNESCO is the beginning of a road that is difficult, but will lead to the freedom of our land and people from occupation," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said. "Palestine has the right to a place on the map."

Israel called the vote a "tragedy" and the decision damaged relations between UNESCO and the United States, an ally of Israel that provides about 22 percent of the body's funding, or some $70 million.

Legislation stipulates that the U.S. can cut off funding to any United Nations agency that accepts Palestinians as a member.

The White House said the vote was "premature" and would not aid peace and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said UNESCO would suffer.

"Today's vote to grant Palestinian membership in UNESCO is no substitute for direct negotiations, but it is deeply damaging to UNESCO," said Ambassador Susan Rice.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, who previously pleaded for Washington not to withdraw support, told delegates funding may be jeopardised.

"I believe it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that UNESCO does not suffer unduly... We need each and every member of this organisation to be fully engaged," she added.


The Palestinians got backing from two thirds of UNESCO's members to become its 195th member. Of 173 countries that voted from a possible 185, 107 voted in favour, 14 voted against, 52 abstained and 12 were absent. Abstentions did not count toward the final tally.

The Palestinians went to UNESCO after making a bid for recognition of the over-arching United Nations system in September before the U.N. Security Council, which has moved the issue to a committee where it is likely to run into a veto from the United States.

"This vote is not directed against anyone, but represents support for freedom and justice," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement to the official news agency WAFA.

"This vote is for the sake of peace and represents international consensus on support for the legitimate Palestinian national rights of our people, the foremost of which is the establishment of its independent state."

But the breakdown of the vote reflected deep divergences in international views on Palestinian statehood.

The United States, Canada, Germany and Holland voted against Palestinian membership. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favour. Britain and Italy abstained.

For the European Union, which has stumbled in recent efforts to develop a common foreign policy, the UNESCO vote highlighted persistent rifts with some member states voting for and some against Palestinian membership.

Austrian UNESCO ambassador Ursula Plassnik, whose country voted in favour, said she regretted that the EU had failed to arrive at a common position on Palestinian membership.

France, which previously abstained from a vote on the subject of Palestinian membership in UNESCO, broke with precedent to vote in favour on Monday.

"Since it has been raised today, we must assume our responsibilities and respond to the substance of the issue ... On the substance, France says "yes"- Palestine has the right to become a member of UNESCO," said Hubert de Canson, France's representative at UNESCO.

Israel has said the Palestinian bid would amount to politicisation of UNESCO that would undermine its ability to carry out its mandate. It said on Monday it would reconsider its cooperation with the agency.

"We regret that the organisation of science has opted to adopt a resolution which is a resolution of science fiction," said Nimrod Barkan, Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, who called the move a tragedy for the agency. "There is no Palestinian state and therefore one should not have been admitted today."

The Israeli foreign ministry said the vote placed unnecessary obstacles on the road to renewing negotiations.

"This is a unilateral Palestinian manoeuver which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement," it said in a statement.

(additional reporting by Andrew Quinn, Alister Bull and Deborah Charles in Washington and Tom Perry in Ramallah; writing by Nick Vinocur; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Garcia edges Jimenez to make it two-in-a-row at Valderrama

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 04:01 PM PDT

VALDERRAMA: Sergio Garcia, fresh from his victory at home in last week's Castello Masters, followed up by winning the Andalucia Masters here on Sunday.

The Spaniard edged out his compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez by one stroke after shooting a fourth round level par of 71 for a six-under total of 278.

Scotland's Richie Ramsay, who led after rounds one and two, was a shot further away in third with Ireland's Shane Lowry fourth on three-under.

Garcia led by three shots with three holes to play but was made to fight after Jimenez birdied the 16th and 17th for a victory that was a good deal harder than Garcia's 11-stroke stroll in the Castello Masters.

The 31-year-old became the first Spaniard to win a stroke-play event at Valderrama and was going one better after finishing runner-up at this course three times.

This fifth EPGA Tour success on home soil lifted him back into the world top 20.

"It's very, very special," he said.

"Valderrama – I have so much history here and unfortunately it wasn't as good as this until now!"

Jimenez had joined Garcia on six-under with a brace of early birdies and took the outright lead when Garcia three-putted the sixth.

But the 47-year-old dropped shots at the 13th and 15th with Garcia gaining shots at the 11th and 14th, with a superb up-and-down from a greensside bunker at the 16th keeping him at six-under.

And he held his nerve when Jimenez had reduced the gap to one going to the final hole.

"I'm out of words," added Garcia, who now leads the European Ryder Cup points race. "It's been two amazing weeks. Miguel fought so hard and had some good chances coming in, 17 for eagle and 18 for birdie.

"I wasn't as good as probably the last 13 days, but we hung on and managed to pull through.

"On 18, we decided to play a little more conservative and make sure we hit the fairway, then the chip was just amazing. I thought it was going in.

"I've been in that situation three or four times on this course. It wasn't easy, but I believed in my ability. To be able to hit the chip I hit there and roll the putt in with the pressure, it was nice." — AFP

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Fit-again Djokovic needs more time to find top form

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 03:50 PM PDT

BASEL: Novak Djokovic said on Sunday he needs "some time" to rediscover top form after his historic season was interrupted by a six-week injury break.

The top-ranked Serb resumes at the Swiss Indoors with a 64-3 record this year, after a back muscle injury forced him to retire from a Davis Cup tennis semi-finals singles match against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina on Sept. 18.

"Certainly, it's going to take me some time to get back to the right shape," Djokovic said.

The US Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open champion faces 50th-ranked Belgian Xavier Malisse tomorrow in Basel, the hometown tournament of 16-time Grand Slam singles winner Roger Federer.

"I don't expect myself to be 100 per cent in this tournament but obviously I will try," said Djokovic, who beat Federer in the 2009 final here and lost their rematch a year ago.

Djokovic succumbed to pain that had flared up days earlier during his intense, 4-set victory over Rafael Nadal to earn his first US Open trophy.

Though the muscle tear was "quite bad," Djokovic acknowledged the timing was a blessing.

"The injury is never welcome ... but it came in the right moment, let's say. It gave me a little more time to rest and recover," he said.

"I think it was the longest (break) I had in the last four or five years."

Djokovic said he had daily therapy on his back while missing the Asian tournament swing, and a shot at beating John McEnroe's dominant 82-3 season in 1984.

He now has just Basel, the Paris Masters and season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London remaining, and must win all three to get close to the American's mark.

"I don't feel unbeatable and I don't think anybody is," Djokovic cautioned. "It's just a matter of the right momentum, the confidence you are building up.

"Sometimes you see the ball as a water melon.

"You feel so good on the court, you trust every shot that you have. I guess every top player has experienced that and has experienced the bad times as well." — AP

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Bean there, done that as Massa and Hamilton clash again

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 07:07 PM PDT

GREATER NOIDA (India): Lewis Hamilton's season took a farcical twist on Sunday as he bizarrely collided with Felipe Massa for the third time in recent weeks – fittingly watched by "Mr Bean" actor Rowan Atkinson (pic).

Hamilton, trapped by Ferrari's Massa going into a turn at the Indian Grand Prix, shunted the Brazilian across the track before protesting into his radio.

It was their third recent accident after collisions in Singapore and Japan put relations on a knife-edge.

And the latest coming-together was closely watched by comedy star Atkinson, who was a guest in the McLaren pit and went through a series of his trademark grimaces as the drama unfolded on his TV screen.

Massa was hit by a drive-through penalty but fate threw up another quirk as he crashed out when his left front wheel hit a high kerb, mirroring a virtually identical mistake in qualifying.

Hamilton blamed damage from the shunt for his seventh-place finish, which rounded off a tough week in which he announced his split from Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger and then suffered a five-place grid penalty.

"There is not much to say. It's a disappointing day and my team deserve better," Hamilton said.

"I'll fly back (to Britain) and try to get my head back in the game."

Hamilton, who placed second in Korea and was hoping to end his season on a high, remains fifth in the overall standings and is now 26 points back from McLaren team-mate Jenson Button in second.

The 2008 champion said he made an overture to Massa before the race as drivers observed a minute's silence for IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon and MotoGP's Marco Simoncelli, who both died this month.

"We had the one-minute silence before the race, I was standing next to Felipe. He's not spoken to me for a long time but I made the effort, I put my arm round him and said good luck for the race," Hamilton said.

But Massa, who was adamant that he should not have been penalised, quibbled with Hamilton's version of events, although he denied there was any feud between them.

"He didn't try to do anything. When I tried to speak to him he passed through. He did not look to my face, so no. Not here," Massa said.

"After the one minute silence he was at my side and then he just said, 'have a good race'. So this is trying to what?

"Have a good race? Is that not part of talking, or whatever?" — AFP

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The Star Online: Business

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Rajaratnam's prison date changes to Dec. 5

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 05:55 PM PDT

NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) Convicted hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam will report to prison on Dec. 5 to begin serving his 11year prison sentence for insider trading, a U.S. judge ruled on Monday, extending his liberty by a week.

Rajaratnam, 54, had previously been scheduled to go to prison on Nov. 28. No reason for the change was given in a written order by U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell.

The judge imposed sentence on Oct. 13 after the Galleon Group multimillionaire founder was convicted in May by a federal jury on 14 criminal charges of insider trading. Sri Lankanborn Rajaratnam was the central figure in a broad government crackdown using FBI phone taps.

His lawyers have asked the Federal Bureau of Prisons to send him to a facility in Butner, North Carolina, where his health problems, including complications from diabetes, can be treated.

It is the same prison where epic swindler Bernard Madoff, 73, is serving a life sentence for running a decadeslong investment fraud of tens of billions of dollars.

The case is USA v Raj Rajaratnam et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 0901184.

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Asia faces rocky road in securing energy needs

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 05:50 PM PDT

SINGAPORE, Oct 31 (Reuters) Governments in emerging Asian economies will struggle to secure their rising energy needs as rapidly swelling demand in leading consumers China and India outpaces growth in supplies, which is likely to keep oil prices over $100 a barrel.

High fuel costs for importers are threatening their economies as they grapple with rising subsidy bills and inflation.

The fuel burden, with oil imports costing around 5 percent of gross domestic product, is weighing on economic growth, said Richard Jones, deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency.

"It's particularly sensitive in emerging markets, India is a country that has got a particularly high oil burden, they import a lot," Jones said.

The rise in prices has been partly blamed on the growing energy appetite of Asian nations. China, the world's secondbiggest economy, has driven oil demand growth for a good part of the past decade. India is also competing to secure scarce energy resources for its billionplus people.

The global economy needs to see lower prices, Nobuo Tanaka, former head of the International Energy Agency, said.

"If $100 oil continues, it will be as bad as 2008," Tanaka told the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) conference.

Brent prices have averaged over $111 a barrel so far this year, sharply up from an average of around $80 in 2010.

The front-month contract hit a high of $147.50 in July 2008, just ahead of the global financial crisis of that year.

Brent at over $100 would cut global oil demand by around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) from what fuel consumption would be at a price of $70 to $80 per barrel, Tanaka said.

That would slice more than 1 percent from total world fuel consumption.

Brent will average $106.80 per barrel next year and $108.60 in 2013, a recent Reuters poll of 35 analysts showed, as demand for fuel from China and other emerging economies keeps the global oil market tight.

The burden of high energy costs on growth contributed to the sharp slowdown in the global economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. High prices led to such a sharp slowdown in fuel demand that oil producer group OPEC was forced to make record output cuts.

The oil minister for the United Arab Emirates did say producers can tolerate a further fall in oil prices to $80$100 a barrel, the first indication of a preferred price range from a Gulf Arab producer since OPEC talks collapsed in June.

High oil prices would help guarantee future supplies, UAE oil minister Mohammed bin Dhaen alHamli said, by encouraging more investment in crude production capacity, which would mean less volatile prices. "We need a reasonable price to continue building capacity," Hamli told the conference.

"The higher the capacity, the less fluctuation in prices."

The UAE, one of three Gulf OPEC producers with spare capacity, is pumping at 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) from capacity of 2.7 million bpd, Hamli said, having upped output to help meet a supply shortfall from Libya.

The Arab Spring and the disruption to Libya's oil output have added to the difficulty policy makers face as they search for secure oil supplies.

"The recent spate of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa has generated doubt over the reliability of energy supplies from the region," said S Iswaran, minister in the Singapore Prime Minister's office.

"These events have caused increased volatility in energy markets and prices, heightening the policy challenge of governments to secure reliable and affordable energy supplies to sustain growth."

Oil prices are not expected to decline in the longer term, the CEOs of two major oil companies said at the conference.

"Oil prices will not come down for quite a long time," said Shell CEO Peter Voser, while Petrobras Chief Executive Jose Gabrielli said he didn't see a reason for a price decline in the next 5 to 10 years.

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Australia new home sales lowest in a decade

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 05:46 PM PDT

SYDNEY, Nov 1 (Reuters) Sales of new homes in Australia fell by 3.5 percent in September to the lowest monthly reading in almost a decade, an industry survey showed on Tuesday.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) said its survey of major builders showed sales were the lowest since December 2000, while sales for the entire third quarter dropped 14 percent.

Sales of detached new houses fell 3.3 percent in September, while multiunit sales dropped 5.5 percent.

"The figures highlight the present soft conditions facing new home building and reinforce the importance that the Reserve Bank Board calls it right today by cutting interest rates," said HIA acting chief economist Andrew Harvey.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) holds its monthly policy meeting on Tuesday and many expect it will cut its cash rate by 25 basis points to 4.5 percent, the first easing since April 2009

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The Star Online: Nation

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12 injured in train and tanker collision in Kota Kinabalu (Update)

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 07:52 AM PDT

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KOTA KINABALU: A huge explosion ripped through a commuter train with 200 passengers after it collided with a fuel tanker at an ``unmanned'' railway crossing near a petrol station in Kepayan here. At least 12 people were seriously injured.

Most passengers scrambled out from the rear driver's compartments as they fled the inferno that spread almost immediately following the impact between the four carriages and the Shell tanker.

But 34 of the 200 passengers could not be traced though police have ascertained, as of 7.45pm, that no one else was inside the wrecked carriages.

However, a detailed search is being carried by police, firemen and Sabah Railway staff.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said the train impacted the tank section of the lorry carrying some 27,000litres of petrol as it was heading into the Shell station to deliver the fuel.

Upon impact, the first carriage derailed while the second unit landed atop the tanker that exploded at the crossing which Sabah Railways director Mohd Zin Mohd Said had classified as ``illegal.''

Hamza said at 7.45pm that there were no deaths ``as yet'' and they have detained the driver of the oil tanker for questioning while the train driver Ali Ramli, 50, escaped injuries.

Ambulances carrying the injured to the hospital were trapped in a massive traffic snarl due to motorists slowing down or stopping indiscriminately to watch the accident and the situation was further aggravated by a heavy thunderstorm.

The colonial railway is the only commercial rail line in Borneo Island that operates services from Kota Kinabalu to west coast towns and interior Tenom.

``This is the worst mishap in our history,'' said Mohd Zin.

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RM6.5mil price for Khir Toyo’s house is too high: Valuer

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 04:43 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: A professional property valuer told the High Court here on Monday that the RM6.5mil price tag on former Selangor Mentri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo's house and land was an unreasonable figure.

Iramy Ahmad, 48, testified that as a valuer, the RM6.5mil figure was too high' for the two plots of land and a bungalow.

The witness, who was examined by defence lawyer Datuk Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos, said his firm Irhamy & Co had used the comparison method in valuating the properties in 2005 and came up with a RM4.3mil figure.

He said he had visited the house just after its completion and the bungalow was already occupied.

Iramy is the fourth defence witness testifying in the trial of the 45-year-old Dr Khir, who is charged with knowingly purchasing two pieces of land and a bungalow in Section 7 here at a much lower price than its original value from Ditamas Sdn Bhd director Shamsuddin Hayroni in 2007.

The property was purchased at RM3.5mil although Ditamas had bought it for RM6.5mil on December 23, 2004.

Dr Khir allegedly committed the offence at the Selangor Mentri Besar's official residence on May 29, 2007.

When cross-examined by deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar, Iramy agreed that to enable comparison method, similar properties must be used as variables.

Mohd Dusuki: But there is no definition of similar properties'?

Iramy: Agreed.

Mohd Dusuki: But logically, similar properties would be something as close as possible' (to Dr Khir's properties) in terms of locality and the property itself?

Iramy: Yes.

The witness disagreed when it was suggested that the comparables used in his valuation was not as close as possible'.

Iramy added that there were instances where valuers need to use their own judgement of market value as there the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) were late in relaying data to use as comparables.

"Back then, if the data was meant for December, it would only be processed five months later. This is where you need to use your own judgement for market value.

"But now the process is much faster," he said.

The hearing continues Tuesday.

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Preparations underway to face bad floods: DPM

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 04:07 AM PDT

SEPANG: Extensive preparations are underway to face floods that are expected to be the worst in decades, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the Government was not taking any chance as weather reports indicated that the impending floods could be devastating.

"There could be a more stronger winds, more rains and stronger currents than before.

"With all these reports, the preparations must also be more than the usual," he said Monday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport's Bunga Raya Complex here.

Muhyiddin was speaking to newsmen after seeing off Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor who left for Saudi Arabia to perform the haj.

Muhyiddin said the National Security Council would be holding a meeting soon with departments and agencies involve in floods evacuation operation.

He said the meeting among others would be to update the agencies and departments on the situation and preparations particularly on logistic matters.

"Early preparations are already in place but we are not taking any chance and would like to see where we can further improve the preparations.

"While we have always prepared ourselves for floods, this time the situation may be unexpected," he said.

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All set to weather the storm

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Swank fires staff over Chechen PR disaster

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 07:00 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES - Widely rebuked for helping celebrate a brutal Chechen dictator's birthday last month, Hilary Swank has embarked on an internal housecleaning of her personal representation, The Independent reported Sunday.

According to the newspaper, the Oscar-winning actress has fired Jason Weinberg, her friend and manager for the last eight years.

It's expected, the paper reported, that CAA representatives Amie Yavor and Josh Lieberman will be pulled off her team, too.

An email to Swank's assistant Sunday by TheWrap seeking confirmation has yet to be returned, as has an inquiry into CAA.

The reported moves come three weeks after human rights groups blasted Swank, along with Jean-Claude Van Damme, violinist Vanessa Mae and singer Seal, for attending the 35th birthday party of Chechnya's president, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Kadyrov is widely accused of torturing dissidents and killing political opponents.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Developer says no more work being done as contruction completed

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 05:44 AM PDT

CLAIMS made by the tenants and owners of commercial units in Solaris Dutamas Kuala Lumpur about their problems with the joint management of the retail and office has been refuted by the developer and management of the development.

The developer and management of Solaris Dutamas, Sunrise Bhd community and customer development general manager Anne Tong denied that there was still construction works and flying debris as claimed by the stakeholders.

"It is impossible that at this stage there is still construction works and debris as the development is already completed.

"Whatever works done in the development at the moment are the renovation works within Publika, which is the shopping mall within the Solaris Dutamas development.

"Some of the works are by the individual retail outlets done by the tenants or shop owners themselves," she said during an interview which was also attended by Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, in respond to the claims made by the stakeholders.

However, Tong admitted that there were problems with the signage in the development which was also one of the problems cited by the stakeholders.

"We understand that the signage here can be a bit difficult. However, we have engaged a consultant from Singapore to work on upgrading the 'wayfinding' signage for the development. As this is an ongoing exercise, changes will be gradual," she said.

Tong added with regards to the high parking rates and claims, that the revised rates would not encourage more customers and they would resort to other malls claimed by the stakeholders were incorrect.

"The revised parking rate is fixed at RM1 for the first three hours and RM2 per hour for the subsequent hours not RM1 for the first hour.

"We believe this price is reasonable as it is comparable to other shopping malls in the Klang Valley and it is relatively cheaper than several shopping complexes nearby," she said adding that the parking rate is maintained at RM1 per entry during the weekends to attract and encourage more shoppers.

When asked about the claims by stakeholders that their units are not given proper publicity, Tong said they could not allow the business operators to hang their own buntings and banners along the corridors and the car park as it would affect the outlook of the development.

"Just like any other shopping areas, we cannot let them place their buntings and banners as the outlook and appearance will be affected.

"We have to maintain and control this," she said adding that they have also given publicity for many of the outlets in Solaris Dutamas by featuring them in the Sunrise news bulletin without charging them.

Some 200 tenants and owners from Block C and D signed a petition recently to the management of the development and organised a press conference with Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng to highlight the issue.

Most of them said there are several things that have hampered their business in the area with one of the most pertinent problem was the delay in the completion of Publika shopping mall and the commercial units claiming there was debris flying around that was affecting their business.

The tenants and owners claimed that the construction was still going on although the works at Solaris Dutamas should have been completed two years ago.

They are also unhappy that their units are not given proper publicity and are treated as a separate entity from Publika that has received numerous advertisements and articles in the local media.

Deciding to take matters into their own hands, the business operators printed their own buntings and banners along the corridors and the car park. However, they were told they could not do that and the security guards had gone around collecting the banners and placing them in the carpark to be picked up by respective owners.

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Motorists caught unawares by U-turn closures along MRR2

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 05:19 AM PDT

THE sudden traffic flow change along the MRR2 Pandan Indah interchange that disallows right turns along the bridge caught many motorists unawares one morning this week and many resorted to illegal U-turns, causing massive traffic congestion.

Though the barriers preventing the turns have been removed since yesterday, Pandan Indah residents who experienced a taste of the final MRR2 Ampang upgrade project are protesting against it.

One resident, Lim Lai Heng, 50, a computer business owner said that many people were confused due to the lack of any visible signage.

"People who were already on the bridge had to continue on into Taman Shamelin Perkasa and make an illegal U-turn at the first traffic lights they came to.

"This caused a long queue and traffic was backed up all along the bridge and into Pandan Indah," he said.

An observation into the situation also found something similar to traffic from Taman Cempaka who, unable to get onto the Hulu Kelang-bound MRR2 directly, opt to make an illegal U-turn at a traffic light in Pandan Jaya.

Another area with the same problem is the Kampung Pandan Luar exit with motorists making such U-turns to head towards Taman Nirwana.

As motorists wait for an opportunity to make these illegal U-turns, their vehicles would inadvertently block one of the two lanes on those roads, causing a worse congestion than the usual.

To make matters worse, motorcyclists were squeezing in between barriers and making turns where it was no longer allowed, causing traffic to slow down as many had to watch out for these irresponsible road users.

According to Lim, the Public Works Department (JKR) project that involves ungrading a 2.8km stretch along the MRR2 for RM104mil is making residents in the area suffer.

"I feel that JKR is doing a good job but other problematic sections of the MRR2 will inevitably cause traffic congestions that nullify this project," he said.

"The highway's three lanes may help somewhat with traffic flow but it is residents living all around it that have to suffer for it," Lim said.

He pointed out some of these troublesome situations such as residents coming out of Jalan Pandan Indah who would have to take both the Hulu Kelang-bound and Cheras-bound U-turns to get to Pandan Jaya.

"I think implementing free flow along the Pandan Indah interchange is not a good idea.

"While people living in the area may get used to the new system in time, outsiders will find themselves getting lost," he said, adding that proper and visible signages would help ease this problem.

He also said that many areas could be improved such as the Taman Shamelin Perkasa turn off onto the Hulu Kelang-bound MRR2.

"Due to traffic being unable to turn onto Cheras-bound MRR2 from Pandan Jaya, many are now taking the Taman Shamelin Perkasa route, thus JKR should consider a longer stretch for road widening here," Lim said.

He said that he has complained to both the JKR and project manager about the issues.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Local villagers to collect scientific data for coastline conservation project

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 07:29 PM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: Villagers near here will soon take charge of looking after their coastal ecosystem thanks to a community-based coastline preservation programme.

Called the Environmental Monitoring for Marine and Coastal Ecosystems (EMMCE), the project at the seaside settlement of Kampung Meruntum in Putatan, seeks to help the villagers learn about the importance of coastline conservation.

Under the initiative, the villagers will be trained to collect baseline data about the coastline near their village using scientific means, from coastal profiling and identifying sediment composition to identifying direct and indirect threats to beaches, and coastal mapping.

Although the type of data to be collected is considered baseline information, it is crucial to help formulate future environmental conservation policies.

This will be of great use when tackling issues such as erosions or the effects on coastal areas following the monsoon seasons, among others, and the villagers will have direct involvement in addressing such problems.

A collaboration between Malaysia's environmental watchdog Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and oil and gas producer Talisman Malaysia Ltd (TML), the EMMCE was first launched in Pulau Redang, Terengganu last April.

The programme in Terengganu has begun to bear fruit, with villagers trained to observe their coastline using scientific methodology now becoming trainers themselves, teaching others to better manage their coastal ecosystem.

The Sabah chapter of EMMCE was launched here recently and both the collaborators hope to see the same kind of success in Kg Meruntum.

MNS executive director Clifford Clement said, as in Terengganu, the project will provide workshops for the community on how to gauge the health of their coastline.

"There has been no prior initiative to pool basic data for scientific reference and without that we are unable to lobby for policies to ensure the preservation of our nation's coastlines," Clement said.

With scientific data, which is verified by third parties like MNS and TML, the villagers will have a stronger case to highlight to the government in case better environmental policies are needed, he added.

"We can also use the data, for instance, during the marine parks annual general meeting from both sites in Terengganu and Sabah and say 'this is what is happening to our beaches'," he said.

Currently, about 30 Kg Meruntum villagers are participating in the first workshop and the collaborators are confident the figure will rise.

The project is scheduled to end in December next year but Clement pointed out they will have a lasting relationship with the villagers and continue to monitor their progress and the data collected.

TML, which has projects off Sabah, is contributing RM329,000 to the project in both locations for two years.

Its exploration manager Dr Simon Molyneux said TML believes in investing in the communities where they operate.

"We believe the EMMCE project will help to provide a platform for local-community involvement in preserving the health and wellness of the environment," he said.

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A-G: Johor needs better revenue collection

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 03:46 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Johor must continue its efforts to collect or recover outstanding arrears despite being able to reduce the figure to RM175.90mil in 2010, compared with RM177.32mil in 2009.

According to the Auditor-General's Report 2010, unpaid dues on land taxes, rent, the buying and selling of houses, privatisation, and raw water taxes represented RM174.20mil or 99% of outstanding revenue.

Uncollected land taxes made up 64.3% of the overall outstanding revenue or RM113.08mil in 2010, against RM97.18mil recorded in 2009.

Among the main reasons contributing to the increase in unpaid land taxes included changes of ownership and people postponing payments while waiting for penalty reductions on late payments.

The Johor Baru District Land Office had the highest amount of unsettled land dues of RM49.68mil followed by the Pengerang Land Office in Kota Tinggi District with RM25.87mil.

According to the feedback compiled by both land offices, problems in collecting the dues often crop up because some of the companies that own the land are in the midst of winding-up their businesses.

Other problems include outdated records on individual land owners and the confiscation of private lands for conversion into state property.

The A-G Report also indicated that Johor's outstanding revenue was on an upward trend between 2006 and 2010 from RM141.21mil in 2006 to RM153.47mil (2007), RM156.18mil (2008), RM177.32mil (2009). It declined slightly to RM175.90mil lsat year.

The Report also showed that Johor's financial position was healthy, with current accumulated assets of RM505.81mil compared with RM231.39mil in 2009.

Last year, Johor recorded a surplus of RM158.36mil, reducing its deficit to RM325.69mil from RM484.05mil registered in 2009.

The state's revenue rose to RM1.02bil in 2010 from RM750.24mil in 2009.

At the same, its operating expenditure also increased to RM864.81mil last year compared with RM829.10mil spent in 2009.

The report also recommended that the state continue practising prudence in its expenditure and operations, though this should not be at the expense of reducing the quality of the civil service and development projects.

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Socso compounds 76 errant employers in Sabah

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 03:47 PM PDT

TAWAU: The Social Security Organisation (Socso) has identified and compounded 76 employers in Sabah since the third Ops Kesan began on Oct 5.

Socso deputy chief executive officer of operations Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed said 649 premises were inspected.

This year, up to September, 277 employers in the state were slapped with compounds compared with 430 during the same period in 2010, he said.

"This year we registered 3,321 new employers from January to September," he told reporters after heading the operation with Sabah Socso director Mariam Hassan, here recently.

He said, employers in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) made up the largest number of thosse compounded due to their lack of understanding about their duties as an employer.

He said, based on Ops Kesan statistics nationwide until September, the number of errant employers increased by 1.2%.

He said, of the 18,217 employers visited this year, 2,770 or 15.2% were issued compounds totalling RM1.78mil compared with 2,954 employers or 14% out of 21,207 employers last year. — Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

The indie splash

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 12:18 AM PDT

The Grammy-nominated singer Feist and British band The Horrors are among 14 artistes performing at the Laneway Festival in Singapore in February.

ACCLAIMED Canadian singer-songwriter Feist is the act to watch when the St Jerome's Laneway Festival returns to Singapore in February.

She is among 14 acts scheduled to perform at the day-long event showcasing quality indie music.

The festival, which will be held at Fort Canning Park on Feb 12, promises to be bigger and better than the first instalment which was held here in January this year.

Not only is the line-up of performers bigger than this year's nine acts, it will also feature two stages instead of one. This is to ensure that the transition time between the bands will be quicker and smoother.

Says Michael Chugg, executive chairman of concert organiser Chugg Entertainment, which is the promoter of the festival here: "While one band is playing on one stage, the backstage crew will be setting up for the next band to play on the stage next to it. Fans will enjoy almost 12 hours of non-stop music this way."

The bigger festival comes with a price increase. Each person will now have to pay S$135 (RM335) instead of S$109.50 (RM263).

Chugg says the festival still offers "very good value" for music fans.

"Catching the bands individually would easily cost a lot more," he adds.

Tickets are available at Sistic outlets from Nov 28.

Apart from Feist, the Grammy-nominated hushed-voiced singer who just released her fourth album Metals last month, other notable acts that will be performing include Brooklyn indie pop outfit The Drums and English post-punk band The Horrors.

The Drums, who were last in Singapore in May this year, are known for their infectious hooks in cheery songs such as Let's Go Surfing.

The Horrors are known for their bass-thumping garage-rock sound.

Neither Feist nor The Horrors have performed in the region before.

The rest of the upcoming line-up are: English-Italian singer Anna Calvi; Canadian new wave band Austra; Californian rock group Girls; San Diego pop duo Cults; English folk musician Laura Marling; French electronic band M83; Manchester rock band Wu Lyf; London quartet Yuck; New York indie-pop group The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart; and American musicians Toro Y Moi and Twin Shadow.

St Jerome's Laneway Festival, which first started in the streets of Melbourne, Australia, in 2004, has since become a highlight among indie music fans in the region.

It has expanded to become a touring festival that includes shows in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Auckland in New Zealand. The Singapore leg is the festival's only Asian stop so far.

Music fan Noelle Perera, 27, who attended the festival in Singapore in January, is excited about returning to the event next year.

The corporate communications executive says: "I'm definitely not going to miss Feist and I'm looking forward to The Horrors as well. There are a couple of new bands which I haven't heard of before, so I'm excited to see what they have to offer, too."

She points out, however, that it is a pity Singapore bands have not been included in the line-up. Other music fans had lamented this fact, too, about the inaugural festival in January.

Chugg is open to the idea of local participation in future editions of the festival.

He says: "There are already so many international acts, so we didn't think it a good idea to fit local bands in. But we're definitely going to see if it's possible to include some Singaporean acts in the event in the future." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

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