Rabu, 8 Jun 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Militant attack in Pakistan's northwest kills at least 20

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 09:16 PM PDT

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) - Around 150 heavily-armed militants attacked a security checkpost in Pakistan's volatile Waziristan region early on Thursday, killing eight soldiers, local intelligence officials said.

Security forces killed atleast 12 militants in retaliation, they said.

(Reporting by Haji Mujtabad; Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

(For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, click http://www.reuters.com/places/pakistan )

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Pressure mounts on U.S. lawmaker over sex scandal

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 07:44 PM PDT

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Calls for U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner's resignation, including from some fellow Democrats, mounted on Wednesday, two days after he confirmed details of an online sex scandal.

U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) speaks to the media in New York, June 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

Word also emerged that the wife he has publicly humiliated is pregnant.

Democrats in Congress, distancing themselves from the once rising liberal Democratic political star, are becoming increasingly concerned about the political fallout.

A House Democratic aide said late on Wednesday, "There are strong signals coming from members that represent a growing concern in the caucus about his actions and you see members speaking out."

Allyson Schwartz, a member of the House of Representatives Democratic campaign committee, made it clear she had seen enough of the scandal that was tarnishing the party's image.

"Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress. In light of Anthony Weiner's offensive behavior ... he should resign," Schwartz said.

Weiner, 46, who many had seen as the next mayor of New York, is resisting calls he step down for sending lewd photos of himself to women with whom he had held steamy online chats.

"I think his hope and instinct is that he can stick it out," said a senior New York Democrat, asking not to be identified. "We'll see."

But there were deeper questions about Weiner's political future after an explicit photo of the congressman reportedly surfaced on the Internet on Wednesday.

"As Representative Weiner said on Monday when he took responsibility for his actions, he has sent explicit photos," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

"To reiterate, he has never met any of these women or had physical contact with them. As he said, he deeply regrets the pain he has caused. With the full support of his wife, he is working on righting these wrongs with his family and his colleagues," the statement added.

Huma Abedin, 35, an aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who married the congressman a year ago, is in the early stages of pregnancy with the couple's first child, The New York Times reported, citing three unidentified people with knowledge of the situation.

The Times said the couple had disclosed the pregnancy to close friends and family.


After vehemently denying for more than a week that he sent a picture of his bulging boxer briefs to a woman in Seattle, claiming he was the victim of hacking, Weiner tearfully admitted to lying about the scandal on Monday.

He also vowed to remain in his post and preserve his marriage to Abedin. Former President Bill Clinton officiated at their wedding last July amid much fanfare that Washington's newest power couple was made of a Muslim, Abedin, and a Jew, Weiner.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Weiner violated any of the chamber's rules, and former Democratic Party Chairman Tim Kaine, now running for the Senate from Virginia, said Weiner should step down.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday became the first top U.S. lawmaker to say Weiner should quit.

Dan Ripp of Bradley Woods, a private firm that tracks Washington for investors, said he expected Weiner to quit within days.

"I think he's history," Ripp said. "Democrats aren't giving him the time of day. He has no clout. His own party is looking at him like a bozo. He is dragging them down."

Back in New York, his constituents were split.

Howard Witz, a real estate broker in Brooklyn, part of Weiner's district in New York City, said he would support Weiner again should he remain in politics.

"It's a shame because he's a very effective politician," Witz said. "Disappointed? Maybe. But does it make me quit on him? No it doesn't. As long as he didn't commit a crime."

Another New Yorker, Joe Mele, was more blunt.

"Mayor? I don't think he should be dogcatcher," Mele said.

(Additional reporting by Richard Chang and Richard Cowan; Editing by Xavier Briand and Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Bomb, not rocket may have hit Yemen's Saleh

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 06:43 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh appears to have been injured last week by a bombing at a mosque inside his palace, not a rocket attack as first thought, U.S. and Arab officials told Reuters.

It remains unclear whether the device might have been planted by someone from the outside who gained access to the mosque, or someone within Saleh's inner circle.

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh stands for the national anthem during a ceremony in the southern city of Taiz, in this May 22, 2010 file photo. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah/Files)

Saleh initially blamed the June 3 attack on an "outlawed gang" of his tribal foes.

The blast killed seven people, wounded senior officials and forced Saleh's evacuation to Saudi Arabia for treatment. There have been conflicting reports about his condition -- ranging from fairly minor to life-threatening burns.

Yemen's Embassy in Washington said on Wednesday that Saleh was in stable condition "and continues to improve."

Yemeni officials have previously described the blast as the result of a rocket attack. But U.S. and Arab officials, all speaking on condition they not be named, said an investigation into the blast suggested it was caused by an explosive device.

With Saleh outside of Yemen, Western and Arab powers are pressing for a negotiated transition of power there, following months of pro-democracy protests that have tipped the impoverished country to the brink of civil war.

Saleh, in power for three decades, had long been viewed as a crucial U.S. ally who allowed U.S. forces to conduct clandestine operations, including unmanned aerial drone strikes, against al Qaeda's local offshoot -- al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.

The group claimed responsibility for a failed Christmas Day attack in 2009 aboard a U.S. airliner and an attempt in October 2010 to blow up two U.S.-bound cargo planes with explosive parcels. U.S. officials see AQAP as perhaps the most potent foreign terrorism threat.

(Reporting by Warren Strobel, Mark Hosenball and Phil Stewart; Editing by Xavier Briand)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Kerr ready to defend State Farm Classic title

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 05:08 PM PDT

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (AP) - Defending champion Christie Kerr, reigning U.S. LPGA player of the year Yani Tseng and last week's winner Brittany Lincicome headline a loaded field at what will be the final State Farm Classic.

This is the last year of sponsorship from State Farm Insurance Companies after 19 years.

Playing with the uncertain future of the tournament, players are wary of the viability of Springfield bringing the US LPGA Tour back for a 37th year, though they'll do what they can to help.

"I love this tournament. I've been here since I was a rookie and everybody is so nice," said Tseng, the world's top-ranked player. "I really love this place, so anything I can do."

Kerr echoed those sentiments.

"The LPGA is one of the best investments out there," said Kerr, who is trying to win her third State Farm Classic. "There is unlimited upside to what our tour can deliver, not only from a standpoint of customer entertainment, but the value we bring to any community."

Kerr has two runner-up trophies in a row among four top-10 finishes this season. She was second at the Sybase Match Play Championship and tied for second with Jiyai Shin a shot behind Lincicome last week in New Jersey.

"I played great. I can't complain," Kerr said. "A couple of putts on the back nine on Sunday go in and I'm winning two tournaments in a row. It's encouraging, a little bit frustrating, but it's a good problem to have."

Lincicome hadn't won on the U.S. tour since 2009 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, but had little time to enjoy her ShopRite win last weekend.

"It's been kind of crazy," she said. "I had an outing Monday and I was rushing to the airport on Sunday and then got here late. Everyone was like, 'Did you party? Did you celebrate?' I haven't had time."

The win was a bit out of the blue for Lincicome, who finished second at the RR Donnelly Founders Cup in March and 13th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. But she had struggled in between, and bringing a new caddie on board has been a big help.

"It's been a great partnership so far," Lincicome said of hiring A.J. Eathorne. "I just needed that change. I just needed to hear something different."

Last year's State Farm Classic was forced to finish on Monday after storms rolled through the area during the third round. Rough weather could be a factor again as strong thunderstorms are possible on Thursday and Friday at Panther Creek Country Club.

Lincicome is concerned about the weather's effect on conditions after playing nine holes on a nearly pristine golf course on Wednesday.

"It seems to be perfect," she said. "Felt a little wet, but hopefully we don't get any rain in the next couple of days, which the forecast doesn't look too good for. The greens are great, the fairways are great. The rough is really thick like it normally is here. Fairways are going to be the key this week."

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Antonio out to get himself a present for his birthday

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 04:14 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Juan Antonio Los Santos is relishing the prospect of having an early birthday gift in the final of the men's singles tennis competition at the National Tennis Centre in Jalan Duta here today.

The Selangor player, who will be celebrating his 19th birthday tomorrow, is hoping to get the better of Khoo Er Yang of Negri Sembilan.

In semi-final matches yesterday, Antonio beat Negri's Mohd Faeez Said 6-2, 6-1 while Er Yang defeated Federal Territories' Wan Abdul Muiz 6-2, 6-2.

Antonio holds a 2-0 head-to-head record against Er Yang. He was the winner in the third leg of the national circuit last month and was once again victorious in the Sukma men's team semi-final tie.

However, he is well aware that he cannot take Er Yang lightly in the fight for the gold medal.

"I'm just going to play the way I did throughout the week and although I'm carrying an injury to my right hand, I think I can hold him off for one more time," said the lanky lad of Chinese-Spanish parentage.

Antonio suffered the injury in the national circuit three weeks ago and it prevents him from delivering backhands with power.

He has to resort to backhand slices to avoid aggravating the injury.

Selangor coach S. Selvarajoo said that Antonio has an equal chance to win the final as his opponent is a very hardworking player.

"Antonio is arguably the most talented player now in the country while Er Yang has improved a lot and is known for his tremendous effort on court," he said.

Meanwhile, Selangor's Alyssa Boey is expected to face a tough time against national No. 1 Jawariah Nordin of Negri Sembilan in the women's final.

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Ailing Nowitzki spearheads Mavericks’ fightback to tie Finals

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 04:13 PM PDT

DALLAS: The Dallas Mavericks used some fourth-quarter fireworks by an ailing Dirk Nowitzki to overcome a 32-point performance by Dwyane Wade and defeat the Miami Heat 86-83 on Tuesday to square the best-of-seven NBA Finals at 2-2.       

Dallas got 10 final-period points from a feverish Nowitzki, including a clutch basket down the stretch, to overcome a nine-point deficit in the final eight minutes.

The 32-year-old All-Star played down his sinus infection and fever, but his team-mates did not.       

"The average person has sick days and battling 100-something (fever), it's just tough to get out of bed," said center Tyson Chandler, who had 13 points and 16 rebounds.       

"The doctors tried to keep (the fever) down and they couldn't get it under control.       

"This guy is playing against the best athletes in the world, and he's putting himself out there, because if he has a terrible night, he's going to get criticised about him not making shots and not stepping up in the challenge."

The Mavericks overcame a 74-65 deficit with a 17-4 run to take an 82-78 lead with just over two minutes left, igniting the capacity crowd at the American Airlines Centre.

With the Mavericks clinging to an 82-81 lead, Nowitzki drove to the basket tightly guarded by Udonis Haslem and softly banked in a lay-up with 14 seconds left.       I was going to play the clock down, but I saw I had a little opening there," said Nowitzki, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds but hit only six-of-19 shots from the floor.

"So I just went for it. I was able to rip through and go to the right. They really played my left, which obviously the whole league does.

"So I was able to rip through and get to my right and finally finish a lay-up."       

Two foul shots by guard Jason Terry with less than seven seconds left gave the Mavericks an 86-83 lead. After a time out, Wade fumbled the in-bounds pass and shoveled the ball to Mike Miller, who missed a desperation 28-footer.       

"We had opportunity to win the ballgame," said Wade, who hit only one of two foul shots with 30 seconds left that would have tied the game at 82-82.       

"The one thing about this series, you see no team is ever safe. When it looks like one team may be in control of the game, the other team comes back.       

"So that's why it's a 48-minute game."       

Two-time MVP LeBron James had another miserable game on offence, scoring only eight points and three-of-11 shooting. — Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Firm: Apple surpasses HP as largest buyer of chips

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 04:55 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - Driven by the success of the iPhone and iPad, Apple Inc. has become the world's largest buyer of chips for computers and phones, a research firm said Wednesday.

Apple bought $17.5 billion worth of chips last year, surpassing computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. as the largest consumer, IHS iSuppli said. That was an increase of 80 percent from the year before, reflecting Apple's continuing sales surge.

An iPhone contains about $80 worth of chips, according to iSuppli. The chips include the central processor that acts as the brains of the device, radio chips that let it talk to cell towers and the audio chip that converts the owner's voice into a stream of data.

The finding that Apple is the No. 1 buyer cements its standing as a company that has the clout, and the cash, to buy chips and other crucial components such as touchscreens when other companies struggle because of supply constraints.

As an example, Apple said in January that it had spent $3.9 billion on long-term contracts to secure supplies for the next two years of a "very strategic" component it wouldn't name. Few other companies are able to commit that much money.

Last summer, high-tech manufacturers were scrambling to buy chips as sales started reviving after the recession and chip-makers had yet to ramp production back up. But Apple reported no chip supply problems; it blamed shortages of iPhones and iPads instead on limited assembly-line capacity.

IPhones and iPads use large amounts of expensive flash memory, accounting for much of Apple's chip consumption. Apple sold 48 million iPhones last year, up 89 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, PC industry sales grew 14 percent, iSuppli said. IPads went on sale for the first time last year.

Samsung, Micron Technology Inc. and Intel Corp. are leading makers of flash memory.

The $17.5 billion figure means more than a third of Apple's "cost of revenue" - expenditures excluding corporate overhead - went toward chip purchases last year.

Samsung Electronics Co., which makes a wide variety of electronics, and PC maker Dell Inc. were the No. 3 and 4 chip buyers. No. 5 is Nokia Corp., the world's largest maker of phones. However, its output is dominated by cheap phones that don't use as many or as pricey chips as the iPhone.

ISuppli expects Apple to extend its lead this year by buying chips for $22.4 billion, compared with $14.8 billion at HP.

Latest business news from AP-Wire

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Apple CEO pitches expansion to Calif. city council

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 04:53 PM PDT

CUPERTINO, California (AP) - Its ubiquitous products have already invaded the tech marketplace, and now Apple Inc. is seeking a fitting new Northern California home: a massive spaceship-like structure that will house an estimated 12,000 employees.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance at a Cupertino City Council meeting late Tuesday to announce plans for a major expansion.

"Apple is growing like a weed," Jobs told the council, adding that space restrictions at the company's existing Cupertino headquarters have forced it to rent space in smaller buildings scattered throughout the city, located about nine miles west of San Jose.

Jobs presented renderings of a proposed 150-acre (60-hectare) campus built around a gigantic circular building made almost entirely of curved glass, with a heavily landscaped center.

"It's a little like a spaceship landing," he said of the futuristic design.

Jobs also highlighted environmentally friendly touches such as a natural-gas-fired energy center that would serve as the site's main power source. Most of the parking would be underground, creating space for thousands of additional trees on the property, he said.

Apple purchased most of the land from Hewlett-Packard Co., which plans to move out by next year.

The new site would allow Apple to increase its workforce and consolidate far-flung staff in one location, Jobs said. He said the iPhone and iPod maker also would continue to use its existing headquarters, which accommodates about 2,600 employees.

City officials appeared enthusiastic about the planned expansion.

"Now that we've seen your plans, the word 'spectacular' would be an understatement," Councilman Orrin Mahoney said. "And I think everyone is going to appreciate what clearly is going to be the most elegant headquarters - at least in the U.S. - that I've seen."

Asked how the expansion would benefit Cupertino, Jobs noted that Apple is already the city's largest taxpayer. If the company cannot continue to expand within city limits, it will be forced to move elsewhere, he said.

City leaders were quick to discourage that prospect.

"Apple is truly a technology of innovation, and our city staff and City Council looks forward to working with you and helping you succeed here in our community," Mayor Gilbert Wong said after pulling out his Apple tablet computer, an iPad 2, to show Jobs.

Jobs said he hoped to submit formal plans for the new campus "fairly quickly," with the goal of breaking ground next year and moving into the space by 2015.

Jobs' appearance at the council meeting, which elicited gasps and excited murmurs from the crowd, came one day after he gave the keynote address at a conference for application developers in San Francisco.

The 56-year-old has been on medical leave for the past five months - his third in the past seven years - to deal with an unspecified medical issue. He has previously survived pancreatic cancer and undergone a liver transplant.

Apple shares rose 20 cents to $332.24 on Wednesday.

Latest business news from AP-Wire

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US stocks fall as Fed delivers mixed economic outlook

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 04:52 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - Another lackluster economic report sent stocks down Wednesday, extending a weeklong slide.

The Federal Reserve report, known as the Beige Book, showed the economy slowed in several U.S. regions for the first time this year. While seven of the Fed's 12 districts reported steady gains, the economy stalled in the New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago regions, the Fed said. Dallas was the only region to report accelerated growth. That was largely due to the effect of higher oil prices on the region's energy industry.

The report added to concerns that have been building since mid-April that the American economy is stalling. High oil prices, bad weather and supply-chain problems following the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan have combined to dampen many investors' outlook for the rest of the year. And on Tuesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged that the U.S. economic recovery was "uneven" and "frustratingly slow," though he added that he expected growth to pick up in the second half of the year.

That has left many investors on edge. "What Bernanke basically said was that we have to believe we're in a soft patch that will pass by itself," said Randall Warren, chief investment officer at Warren Financial Services. "That takes a lot of faith."

The Standard and Poor's 500 lost 5.38, or 0.4 percent, to 1,279.56 on Wednesday. It was its sixth straight loss. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 21.87, or 0.2 percent, to 12,048.94. The Nasdaq composite slipped 26.18, or 1 percent, to 2,675.38.

Energy companies were among the few stocks to gain broadly. Oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp, which gained 1 percent, rose after oil settled above $100 a barrel. The jump in oil prices came after OPEC ministers made an unexpected decision to keep output at current levels. Investors had been hoping the cartel would increase output, which could have pushed down the price of crude.

Signs that U.S. supplies were tightening also pushed up oil prices. The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected.

Corporate news reinforced the glum outlook on the economy. Retailer Abercrombie and Fitch Co. fell more than 5 percent after the company said that it expects its second-quarter earnings to come in below first-quarter results. Network equipment maker Ciena Corp. fell 16 percent after reporting a larger loss and lower revenue than analysts had expected. And home builder Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. lost nearly 12 percent after it reported a large second-quarter loss late Tuesday.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury slid to 2.96 percent as investors put money into more stable assets. Yields on bonds fall when their prices rise.

Three stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume was 4.1 billion shares.

Latest business news from AP-Wire

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

China launches star-studded propaganda movie

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 06:24 AM PDT

BEIJING (AP): Chinese movie stars gathered Wednesday to launch a blockbuster movie celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.

The "Beginning of the Great Revival" traces developments between the 1911 revolution that overthrew imperial rule and the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party on July 31, 1921. It is part of a series of events in China marking the anniversary.

It features many of the Chinese film industry's biggest names such as Andy Lau and Chow Yun-fat, who attended Wednesday's event.

Director Han Sanping told a news conference the movie is better than 2009's "The Founding of a Republic," which told the story of the Communist Party winning power in 1949.

China Film Group is hoping for a repeat of the success it had with "The Founding of a Republic" which made 415 million yuan ($61 million) at the box office, a large amount for China.

Its success was helped by politically correct theater operators who flooded their properties with screenings. The "Beginning of the Great Revival" is likely to receive similar treatment.

Communist China's founding father, Mao Zedong, is played by Chinese actor Liu Ye, best known to Western audiences for his roles in the Zhang Yimou imperial drama "Curse of the Golden Flower" and the drama "Dark Matter," which costarred Meryl Streep.

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The Super 8 teens are ever ready for their close-ups.

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 02:08 AM PDT

WHEN you are watching a J.J. Abrams' product, you know that you're in for a fantastic ride (well unless it's Mission Impossible III). His latest effort, Super 8, carries all the signatures of an Abrams' story – it has complex and likeable characters, at least one complicated parent-and-child relationship and a warped mystery. But Super 8 also has something extra – the most interesting and the most entertaining end credits which features a zombie movie shot on a Super 8 camera.

Super 8, of course, refers to the Kodak film format that was a sensation among amateur filmmakers back in the 1960s. Abrams had one when he was 10 and he spent his childhood days making movies with his friends – now director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield and Let Me In) and cinematographer Larry Fong (300, Watchmen and Super 8). In those early days, Abrams' films consisted of monster movies with lots of crazy violent fights and chases with horrible-looking creatures. The short movie within the movie in Super 8 is no different.

Abrams, who was in Singapore with his cast last week to promote Super 8, laughs and shares: "The whole idea was to treat it the way I treated my movies when I was at that age, which was badly. Part of it was I'd say to the young actors, 'this is the idea for a scene. Go out and write it.' And they'd come back like in 30 seconds with a scene. I would maybe do a little thing here and there because there were some things that I knew I wanted to do but most times, it was just fun letting them invest in the process of making this movie."

For Riley Griffiths – who plays Charles Kasnick, the serious young director with a keen eye for production value – writing and making the short film gave him further insight to yet another area to filmmaking. "We pretty much got to write the whole thing. It showed us the other side of making a movie, like the producing and directing side. It was cool to come from the Super 8 set with all its realness and J.J. being the director and all that, then to go to this. It was fun, you could be as cheesy as you wanted to be and write those cheesy one-liners."

Griffiths and Joel Courtney – who plays Joe Lamb, a kid who is really good at doing monster make-up and building models – are newcomers to the film industry, and had never even been on a movie set before Super 8.

Their prowess is apparent on film, however. These young actors are so good, they make their characters so real that the audience is immediately pulled into the story emotionally. Their fellow actors are equally fantastic. Ryan Lee plays a teen obsessed with blowing things up, always fretting in the background with so much pent-up energy. Elle Fanning (Dakota's sister) is just so natural as Alice, the older girl that the boys have a crush on, that it's shocking to realise that she's actually the youngest in the cast – she was only 12 when Super 8 was filmed, and the boys were all 14.

Ask the newcomers right now what they want to do when they grow up and they all say they are keen to pursue a career in acting. Courtney, now 15, who is originally from Idaho, sums it up nicely: "I really do love acting. I've only been doing for a year-and-a-half but I already know it is what I want to do."

Abrams adds: "The way we found Joel was, he was attending an acting class in Seattle and we had a casting director there. What is great is that he was doing it with a dedication for the craft and learning how to do it. It was exciting to work with someone like that."

Abrams describes the casting process as crazy; a movie could live or die based on the cast. His casting directors scoured the country, reached out to all their contacts, all in all a long yet tireless effort to get the right actors. But as Abrams points out, even when the right actors are found, it doesn't guarantee the right connection is automatically born when they are put together, especially so when the film's premise is about a group of good friends who share a common passion for making films.

Fortunately, Courtney, Griffiths, Zach Mills, Lee, Gabriel Basso and Elle Fanning had no problems when they finally got together. "It was exciting watching them very quickly develop a dynamic. I just had to film them," says Abrams.

There's no doubt the young actors have become close in the process of making the film.

Even now, months after the shoot ended, it's obvious they enjoy each other's company immensely and have kept in touch – judging from all the laughing and talking that's heard in the hotel hallways before they are ushered into their respective interview rooms.

Fanning elaborates: "I feel like we just all clicked instantly. All of us did. I met with J.J. beforehand and didn't know what the movie was about. He then auditioned all the guys and that's when I met Joel and I just knew we'd be friends for a lifetime."

Griffiths agrees: "Going into this movie, obviously there's acting but there's a lot of just kids hanging out. We knew when to get serious, but there were times when we just couldn't hold in the laughter."

One of the times they knew they had to get serious was during the film's early climatic scene – a train crash resulting in "something" escaping from its metal container. While bits of the accident were made up of visual effects, the aftermath was recreated on location with the young actors in the thick of the wreckage.

Griffiths explains: "Everything that you see on the ground was really there. There was really the busted up train car everywhere and wood debris. We were actually able to do most of our stunts. I think, it's every teenager's dream to run through explosions, right? While that was really cool, it was hard at the same time because I had to gain 20 or 30 pounds for this movie, and whenever we were running, the hardest thing was to probably look cool and not totally be exhausted because that was the 10th take or whatever."

Lee adds: "That time we had to be serious because there were times we could've easily got hurt – walking up to the train car with sharp metal sticking from the ground, we could've fallen and got hurt."

While Lee has made guest appearances in shows like Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad, he counts his Super 8 experience as the one that taught him the most. This, he says, is especially thanks to Abrams. "J.J. told us to never change, be humble and just be regular kids. Something I will always take with me and I will always remember that J.J. was inspired by Steven and now we're inspired by J.J. I am hoping millions of kids around the world are inspired by Super 8 to pick a camera and make movies."

According to Fanning, the kids of yester-year and today are not that different. They still have to deal with the same kind of problems – usually concerning family and relationships - even if the gadgets are much more advanced now. Courtney shares Fanning's view: "Nowadays, you see kids stuck with their iPhones, who won't get off their Xbox and PS3. I think it's really cool going back to 1979, only to realise we're not all that different. Back then the Super 8 was their iPhone. Nowadays, people shoot with their iPhones."

The fact that these teenagers have such high regard for the film – and rightly so – may have something to do with how Abrams treats them.

Kyle Chandler (of Friday Night Lights) – one of the few adults in the film, who portrays Joe's father and the town's deputy – makes this observation about the close relationship Abrams shares with his actors: "Part of the reason the movie is so darn good is these young actors were treated like young actors and not like kids. Even Joel – who has never acted before – he was very well taken care of. There's always a lot of love between the actors and the director, and that was one of the most interesting things for me here, watching that process."

A father of three, Abrams admits this is his first time directing young actors. According to him, he knows that it's very hard to get children to focus on just one thing for too long. However he concedes that it is important for the actors to go with whatever real feelings they are experiencing as their characters, a freedom he gave the Super 8 cast.

Abrams says: "That was what I wanted, I wanted them to have a life of their own. I didn't want them to be like robots, sitting there like professionals. And they always come together, in focus. It was worth it." – Mumtaj Begum

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Stewart cuts wrist during taping of Weiner skit

Posted: 07 Jun 2011 09:42 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP): The story about a U.S. congresswoman's use of Twitter to send a lewd photo to a woman has been awkward for comic Jon Stewart, a friend of the lawmaker. On Tuesday, it proved painful.

Stewart broke a glass and gashed his wrist while taping a skit about U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner on Comedy Central's satirical "The Daily Show."

The taping was briefly stopped so a bleeding Stewart could get medical attention, then resumed after he was bandaged up. Network spokesman Steve Albani said the accident was left in Tuesday's show.

Stewart and Weiner briefly roomed together when they were younger, a point "The Daily Show" host noted over the past week. That hasn't stopped Stewart from making fun of his friend, who admitted Monday to inappropriate online contact with women he met on social networks.

Tuesday's skit featured Stewart in a mock news conference designed to resemble Weiner's from the day earlier. Stewart broke the glass when the script called for him to make a margarita.

The show posted a picture of Stewart's bandaged wrist and a bloodstained cuff of his shirt.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Petronas looking at 30% dividend deal with govt from 2013

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 06:14 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Petronas is looking at setting the amount of dividend to be paid to the government at 30% of the net profit from the 2013 financial year onwards.

"This will give some certainty and predictability," its executive vice-president of finance Datuk George Ratilal said here on Wednesday.

"Petronas has discussed this with the government and come to an understanding on the matter," he told reporters at the announcement of Petronas results for the financial year ended March 31, 2011.

The national oil firm declared RM30bil in dividend payment to the government for the year, which equals to 69% of the gross profit of RM97.8bil the national oil company registered for the financial year ended March 31, 2011.

Petronas also paid a similar dividend to the government for the financial year ended March 31, 2010, which was 63.6% of the gross profit of RM82.4bil.

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Rented PKR headquarters to be auctioned

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 05:59 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The PKR headquarters in Tropicana here will be auctioned Thursday as the owner has defaulted on the bank loan.

PKR is currently renting the two, five-storey building for RM20,000 a month.

The auction will be conducted at the auctioneer's office in Brickfields and the asking price is slightly more than RM6mil.

PKR treasurer William Leong said they were prepared to bid for the building if the price was right.

"We are planning something. We are not going to give up easily. If the price is too high, we will try to negotiate with the new owner," he said.

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Public warned about syndicate passing off as HK police

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 05:38 AM PDT

MALACCA: The state police have advised the public to beware of a fraud syndicate, which passes itself as the Hong Kong police and Bank Negara staff to cheat victims.

Explaining the modus operandi, state police chief SAC Datuk Chuah Gee Lye said that syndicate's members would introduce themselves as policemen from Bukit Aman and tell the intended victim that his identity has been used to launder money abroad.

They will ask the victim to contact the Hong Kong police using a number they give, Chuah told reporters here.

"On calling the number, the victim will be told that Bank Negara has been contacted. Shortly after that, he will receive a call from an officer, supposedly from Bank Negara, who will confirm that his account was used for illegal activity.

"The syndicate members will then advise their intended victim to transfer his money into another account if he does not want his funds to be frozen," he added.

Chuah said that two cases had been reported in the state but the intended victims were lucky to escape from being cheated.

He advised members of the public who are similarly approached to contact the state Commercial Crime Investigation Department at 06-2854196.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Metro Watch

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 05:06 AM PDT


Sunway University is organising a Community Art Workshop today from 6pm to 7.30pm. The objective is to create interest in art, share art knowledge and techniques in arts and craft-making with the community. The Ceramic Workshop is RM25 per person (adults and children). For enquiries, call 03-7491 8622 ext 3501 for Sammy or e-mail sammyc@sunway.edu.my


Sunway University will be hosting a talk under the Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Speakers Series on "Directors Choosing an Auditor: Is it a Club for the well connected". The talk will be presented by Professor Keith Houghton, Professor of Business Administration, Australian National University today from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. To register, visit www.sunway.edu.my/tsjcdss/ register or call 03-7491 8172. Admission is free.


Cyberview will be organising its 4th SME showcase at the SME Innovation Exhibition 2011 today and tomorrow at the Cyberjaya Pavilion, Booth No. C10, Hall 4, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. ICT entrepreneurs will be showcasing innovative local products including iPhone and iPad applications and content development, online business solutions and telephony devices. The exhibition is open from 10am to 6pm. Admission is free. For details, call 03-7493 5588.


There will be a free art workshop for special children (autistic/ Down Syndrome) on Sunday from 10.30am to noon at G13 Gallery, GL13, Ground Floor, Block B, Kelana Square, Jalan SS7/26, Kelana Jaya. It is held in conjunction with Soaring Colours — A Charity Art Exhibition, and will be conducted by artist Jeganathan Ramachandram. Seats are limited for 15 children aged between nine and 18, accompanied by a guardian. To register, call 03- 7880 0991 (Abby), 019-211 4697 (Kenny).


Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur will be organising its second Women's Wellbeing Tea Talks session aka Women's Support Group on Saturda y from 3pm to 5pm, at Boardroom, 2nd Floor, Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, in Jalan Ampang, KL. The topic will be "A happy home starts with a happy woman" and Dr Nor Hamidah, consultant psychiatrist of Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, is the guest speaker. For details, call Samiha at 03-4141 3183 or e-mail samiha@gleneagleskl.com.my


The Wesak International Film Festival 2011 will be held over two weekends from June 11 to 12 and 18 to 19 at the Malaysia Tourism Centre, 109, Jalan Ampang, KL. Admission is free. For details, visit www.wiff.org.my or call 03-7804 9154.

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Rhythmic gymnasts do well in New Zealand

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 05:06 AM PDT

THE young rhythmic gymnasts under the Total Gymnastique banner gave impressive displays and even better results at the Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Auckland, New Zealand last month.

It was their second appearance at the meet in New Zealand. The more experienced Tee Wei Wen and Chia Xue Wen bounced back from their uninspiring debut last year.

The 11-year-old Wei Wen proved that she has made vast improvements by emerging as the overall champion of the Pre-Junior Stage Three contest decided over four disciplines. She garnered a total score of 68.250 points.

The centre's co-owner Choo Kim Lian was delighted with Wei Wen's encouraging displays. She won the freehand and rope and finished second in the ball and ribbon disciplines.

"Last year at the same meet, Wei Wen struggled to handle the apparatus well in freezing conditions. This year, she went into the competition more prepared to cope with the unfamiliar cold conditions. She was very confident and steady in the first two events on the first day but ran out of steam in wrapping the two other disciplines on the following day. Overall, she did well in moving up the ranks," said Kim Lian.

Last year, Wei Wen came in third in the freehand to finish fifth overall featuring in the same category.

Wei Wen's compatriot Georgia Wong was fourth in the all-round standing with a score of 61.975 points.

Kim Lian said they fielded the plucky Georgia to gauge her strength at another higher level after her noteworthy performance claiming the overall top spot in the Stage Two last year.

"She did well to finish top half of the field of 13 competitors. It was a good learning curve for her. She showed her character and took up the challenge going up against her seniors," she added.

Meanwhile, Xue Wen claimed second spot overall with a total of 48.033 points in the Junior Level Five section.

Finishing runner-up in the clubs discipline, Xue Wen finished fourth in the other two events (freehand and hoop).

Despite a poor 13th placing in the hoop, it was enough team mate Tong Hui San to secure the third spot overall (46.775 points) with more polished routines finishing third again in both freehand and clubs.

"Considering Xue Wen failed to make an impact last year, she has earned a boost with the decent achievements. Hui Shan could have gained a better score in the hoop but it was unlikely to chance the final outcome of the overall results. Both of them performed up to expectations based on their current form," said Kim Lian.

In the Junior Level Four section, the team's other entries Julia How and Alicia Poh were second and seventh overall respectively.

The duo of Chiam Szi Yun and Camilyn Ang also gained exposure featuring in the senior international category.

In addition, the combination of Georgia, Julia, Alicia, Hui Shan and Wei Wen also provided the joy and captured another victory in the Grade Four group performance.

The Malaysians committed the blunder losing control of their hoops three times and were trailing narrowly behind Xtreme after the first show.

However, they got their act right in the decisive second demonstration for a total of 31.942 points to edge Xtreme (31.383 points).

The Malaysian youngsters came under the care of coach Sarah Saraj and assistant coach Yong Yen Siew for the recent international competition.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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All about aspirin

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 02:38 AM PDT

Learn a bit about this old, but still very useful, drug.

I HAVE heard so much about aspirin. I see it all the time on pharmacy shelves. My parents take one tablet every day. I've been told all sorts of things about this 'wonder drug', which people say can prevent heart attacks and strokes, and even decrease the risk of cancer. Is this all true?

Aspirin is truly a remarkable drug. It has a very interesting history. It is actually acetylsalicylic acid, which is a mild painkiller.

It works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals produced in our body that play a role in clotting our blood and sensitising our nerve endings to pain. Therefore, if aspirin blocks this chemical, we would feel less pain.

Additionally, our blood will not clot that easily. That is why people who take aspirin find their clotting process a little delayed after they sustain a wound.

How old is aspirin?

It is believed that the first records of aspirin were written by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. And he lived circa 400 BC.

He wrote about a powder made from the bark and leaves of a willow tree that relieved headaches, pains and fevers.

In the 19th century, scientists found out that the willow tree contains salicin. They then began to isolate the compound.

Then in 1899, a German scientist called Felix Hoffman, who worked for the pharmaceutical company Bayer, gave the formula to his father who had arthritis. It worked so well that Hoffman convinced Bayer to market the new drug.

Aspirin was patented in 1900. Yes, that's how old it is.

The term "aspirin" has its own roots as well. The "A" is from acetyl chloride. The "spir" is from spiraea ulmaria, the plant salicylic acid it is derived from.

Aspirin was first sold as a powder, and later as tablets. After Germany lost the First World War, Bayer was forced to give up the aspirin trademark.

What should aspirin be used for?

Since it is such an old drug, aspirin has been studied for over a century in a wide variety of clinical trials for many uses. These are some of its indications:

Pain relief: Aspirin is still effective as a mild pain reliever, although it has been superseded by paracetamol and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

But it still can be used for headaches, painful periods, joint pains, etc.

It also can be used for fever.

Prevention of cardiac events: This is what aspirin is primarily used for these days in millions of patients worldwide. Its prevention of blood clotting comes into play here.

An aspirin a day can actually thin your blood and reduce the risk of clots forming in your blood vessels.

These clots are the precursor to heart attacks and strokes. So if you have risk factors for these, it is good to take aspirin.

Once you have had a cardiac event or a thromboembolic stroke (the kind of stroke caused by a blood clot going into your brain), you would have to go on aspirin for life.

There are, of course, other alternatives to aspirin today, such as Cardiprin (easier on your stomach) and Plavix. But aspirin remains a very cheap and good alternative.

Aspirin is also used to treat rheumatic fever and Kawasaki Disease.

In that case, to prevent heart attacks and stroke, even though I am normal, shouldn't I take one aspirin a day?

That hypothesis may be true, but not everyone should take one aspirin a day.

People who should take aspirin regularly are those who are at risk of getting heart attacks or stroke, or who have had either.

Aspirin has side effects that you may not want to expose yourself to unnecessarily if you don't need to take it.

Risk factors for getting a heart attack or stroke include:

> Smoking

> High blood pressure

> High LDL (bad) cholesterol

> Diabetes

> Family history of heart attacks or stroke

> Lack of exercise

> Stress

You should always consult your doctor before taking aspirin.

What sort of side effects would I get from aspirin?

Not everyone will get side effects. The majority of people taking aspirin may not get any side effects at all, other than your blood taking longer to clot when there is a wound.

But the main side effects people fear from aspirin are gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding, and also tinnitus (a buzzing sound in the ear in the absence of external sounds).

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Rapper Ja Rule due to go to prison in NYC gun case

Posted: 07 Jun 2011 10:48 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP): Rapper Ja Rule is set to go to prison almost four years after he was charged with having a loaded gun in his luxury sports car as he left a New York City concert.

The platinum-selling rapper-actor is to be sentenced Wednesday to two years behind bars. He pleaded guilty in December to attempted criminal weapon possession.

He said on the TV show "Good Day New York" Monday that "laws are laws," and he's been trying to prepare himself mentally for prison.

Ja Rule was nominated for a 2002 best rap album Grammy Award for "Pain is Love." His movie credits include 2001's "The Fast and the Furious" and 2003's "Scary Movie 3."

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Amirah writes the right song

Posted: 07 Jun 2011 06:11 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has put itself on the world map many times over, but singer/songwriter Amirah Ali has simply added another feather to the nation's cap with her song Katakanlah.

The song earned second place in the World Music category of the International Songwriting Competi­tion (ISC) 2011, beating 15,000 entries from 115 countries, losing out only to Kenyan George Mutinda Wambua's winning song Simama.

Katakanlah features Amirah's observation on the desecration of houses of worship in the Klang Valley early last year.

Although the song highlights an unfortunate incident, Amirah's song clearly comes from a good place.

Full story in The Star today

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