Khamis, 9 Jun 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Oh you beauty!

Posted: 10 Jun 2011 03:13 AM PDT

THE search is on for that elusive X factor! Red FM is the official radio station for the X Top Model Search 2011 that could start an exciting modeling career for you.

If you think you possess the X factor in your character, look and walk, then strut it all out in the auditions this weekend. The auditions will be from noon to 2pm and from 4pm to 6pm at the concourse area of Sunway Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya in Selangor this Saturday and Sunday. The chosen finalists will undergo a series of challenges with the winner to be announced on July 23.

The winner will walk away with a contract from international top model agency, Elite HK Model Management Ltd. as well as cash and prizes adding up to RM100,000. Log on to for the criteria required to participate.

From the beauty on the catwalk, Red FM takes you to beauty on the racetrack. Tune in next week to Red FM's Eleven 2 Three with Lexie (Mondays to Fridays, 11am to 3pm) and Red FM's Drive With Terry (Mondays to Fridays, 3pm to 7pm) for a dazzling mix of speed and spin.

Pick up passes to Velocita dance party, an outdoor rave event held in conjunction with the Super GT International Series at Sepang on June. The dance party will feature international deejays such as Roger Shah, Mari Ferrari, Sied van Riel and Arnej spinning their unique brand of trance music. Listeners will also receive passes to watch the race at Sepang International Circuit on June 18 and 19. All you have to do is to listen out for the cue to pick up these passes from Monday to Friday next week.

Join the Red FM Facebook page ( for updates on Red FM's events and contests. You can also follow us on Twitter (@iloveredfm).

Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

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The local lingo

Posted: 10 Jun 2011 02:30 AM PDT

Viewers to Fox (available on Astro Channel 710 on the Variety Package) can now watch top programmes from the United States in Bahasa Malaysia. The prime-time bilingual language tracks will be made available on shows like NCIS, Bones, Criminal Minds, White Collar and Modern Family. This service has already started.

This comes a year after the channel was launched, offering TV programmes of different genres – be it comedy, drama, sci-fi, action, animation and reality series. Best part of it is, viewers do not need to wait for too long before such TV series arrive to our shores.

With the new prime-time Bahasa Malaysia audio option comes a broader viewership for highly anticipated hits such as the first and second season of Primeval and the third season of Lie To Me.

Basil Chua, the director and territory head of Fox International Channels (FIC) in Malaysia, said in a press release: "FIC, together with Astro, is excited to bring the best US TV programmes to a much larger BM-speaking audience.

By reaching out to more viewers with their favourite programmes in our national language, we are striving to ensure that all Malaysians can enjoy the best in first-run entertainment."

The prime-time Bahasa Malaysia audio option for Fox is available now for the time slot starting from 9.50pm to 11.30pm on weekdays and 8pm to 11.15pm on weekends for the following programmes: Primeval Season 1 & 2, Lie To Me Season 3, Bones Season 6, Criminal Minds Season 6, Modern Family Season 6, NCIS Season 8, White Collar Season 2, Top 20 Countdown and Law And Order: Special Victims Unit Season 5.

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Stronger than ever

Posted: 10 Jun 2011 02:30 AM PDT

Hard luck and abusive relationships don't deter a woman's quest to live her own life in Destiny In Her Hands.

Feminists to the fore! Replacing Footprints In The Sand is a new Mandarin family drama series which tells of a woman who strives to determine her future and hold her destiny in her hands.

Titled Destiny In Her Hands, the locally-made 30-episode TV series spans several decades, from the 1960s up till the present. Already the 21st co-production between Mediacorp and ntv7, the series was filmed in Malaysia some three months ago.

The lead woman in the show is strong-willed and confident yet faces many obstacles in life as she was unfortunate enough to be born with broken lifelines on her palms. She has a tough time growing up amidst superstitious folk who consider her the bringer of ill luck.

In her very eventful life, she elopes with her lover, gets pregnant, gets an abortion, is the victim of domestic abuse and even gets infected with a venereal disease when she is pregnant with her first child. Yet, despite the stigma she has to bear and the countless challenges thrown at her, this woman manages to overcome all odds.

After a life-changing event, she decides to take matters into her own hands. With her talent in writing, she starts working at a local daily and eventually goes on to become a scriptwriter. She also decides to pursue her other interests and joins a Chinese opera troupe.

Leading Singaporean actress Jeanette Aw plays this extraordinary woman whose name is Luo Jin Yu. The pretty lass was elated for the rare opportunity to portray a character from ages 20 to 46. At a press conference held in Petaling Jaya recently, Aw shared that Destiny In Her Hands was her "baby" because it was her first project in Malaysia.

Aw is supported by a Malaysian cast comprising Steve Yap, Jess Teong, Ernest Chong, Joey Leong, Goh Wee Ping, Monday Kang, Moo Man Yee, Mers Sheng, Tate Chan, Brenda Chiah, and Soo Wincci.

After playing similar roles in Little Nyonya and Together, Aw is aware that people may assume she is only adept in playing women with a tough life.

"It is an exceptional story that revolves around this one central figure and a script like that is hard to come by. After reading it, I found that I really liked it because it provided a lot of room for me to explore. The main challenge, therefore, was for me to differentiate between this character and the other long-suffering characters that I'm known for," said Aw.

"Another challenge is that I've to play mother to such big kids (referring to Ernest Chong and Joey Leong). People say that it's always worrying to film with animals and kids. In this drama, I had to deal with seven kids, who play my two children at various stages of development. Four of them played my son while another three played my daughter.

"Also, I enjoy travelling to other countries as filming on foreign soil can help us grow as actors. There's a huge opportunity to absorb and learn entirely new things," added Aw, who is currently in China filming a China-Singapore production titled Precious.

Model/actor Steve Yap plays Luo's Wang De Cheng, a proud and violent man who beats his wife.

Wary of being cast as villain again, Yap offered: "Actually, I'm not a bad person to begin with. It's just that I become a victim of unfavourable circumstances. In the story, I'm basically a very unfortunate fellow because I marry a woman with broken lifelines. Thereafter, she brings me all manner of misfortune and even makes me go bankrupt."

Golden Awards best supporting actor Ernest Chong portrays Luo's son Wang Jie Ming, a boy who has a child-like mentality due to brain damage after a bout of meningitis. Playing a less complicated character this time, Chong shared: "I believe he is the only person in this whole story who really treats his mother well. His mother means the world to him, so he would do anything to protect her. He may be considered slow, but interestingly this boy even has a girlfriend. He'd give her gifts and they would generally be very happy in each other's company."

Teen actress Joey Leong plays Luo's rebellious daughter Wang Shan Shan. Although her father dotes on her, the little girl is jealous of the attention her disabled brother gets from her mother.

"She's at that age – between 16 and 17 – when she's developed an interest in boys so she becomes even more unmanageable. Her problematic relationship with her mother only improves as she grows up and realises what her long-suffering mother has gone through," Leong explained.

Jeweller-turned-actress Jess Teong plays Luo's mother Li Xiu Zhi, a woman who is also burdened with giving birth to a girl with broken lifelines. She has three sons and another daughter but is constantly reminded of her unlucky first-born.

"Not only do I have to play a woman who sells fried bee hoon in the local pasar (wet market), but I've to portray her from age 25 to 65. My favourite scenes are when her daughter gets married and another one in a hospital. For the former, I've no dialogue, while for the latter, Jeanette (Aw) has no lines. Both scenes are emotionally heavy scenes so Jeanette and I really looked forward to them," added Teong who will be taking a break from filming TV as she is now busy with the production of two new local film projects titled Paper Moon and Ghost Buddies.

Destiny In Her Hands airs on ntv7 at 10pm every Monday to Thursday.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Hurricane Adrian becomes Category 4, moves out to sea

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 09:00 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hurricane Adrian, the first of the 2011 Pacific season, became a Category 4 storm on Thursday as it moved farther out to sea to the northwest, away from Mexico's coastline.

The hurricane, with 130-mph (210-kph) winds, was "well off the Pacific coast of Mexico," the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The hurricane is expected to lose strength by the weekend as it moves farther out into the Pacific.

Mexico has no oil installations in the Pacific but its coastal area is dotted with beach resorts popular with U.S. tourists.

In its 6:30 p.m. EDT (2230 GMT) advisory, the Miami-based hurricane center said the storm was 320 miles (520 km) south of Manzanillo, Mexico. It was moving west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).

Adrian developed from a tropical storm on Wednesday when its winds exceeded 74 mph (119 kph). As a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, it is considered a major storm.

Last summer, Hurricane Frank killed at least three people in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay and Patrick Rucker; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Chicago man guilty of aiding Pakistan militant group

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 09:00 PM PDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. jury on Thursday found Pakistani-born Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana guilty of providing support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2008 assault on Mumbai, but not guilty of taking part in the attack.

Smoke rises from the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai November 27, 2008. (REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/Files)

In a mixed verdict, the jury also found Rana, 50, a former Pakistan Army doctor with Canadian citizenship, guilty of conspiring to attack a Danish newspaper, a plot hatched by the militant group but never carried out.

In the trial, held in U.S. federal court in Chicago, the key witness -- Rana's childhood friend, David Headley -- implicated Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, in the Mumbai attack which killed 166 people.

Headley admitted scouting targets for the Mumbai attackers sent by the LeT, the militant group behind both plots and designated by the U.S. State Department a terrorist organization.

The judge gave both sides 60 days to file post-trial motions and did not set a sentencing date. Rana faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for each of the two counts.

U.S. Justice Department officials said the case was not over.

"I'm hoping there are other defendants ... that other people are brought to justice, both here and overseas," said Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago who has led prosecutions of several Islamic militants.

Fitzgerald would not say what steps might be taken to track down the six Pakistanis charged in the U.S. case, including Headley's main contact with the ISI, known only as Major Iqbal. None is in custody.

The case revealed contacts between ISI and Islamic militants who are fighting India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. It comes on the heels of the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. special forces that worsened already strained U.S.-Pakistani ties.

Headley testified that other ISI officers were helpful to him and trained him in spycraft, but that he suspected ISI "higher-ups" did not know of the Mumbai plot.

Rana, 50, was charged with supporting the plots to attack Mumbai and Denmark, and of supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba.

He was found guilty of supporting the Danish plot and Lashkar, but the jury did not find his support of Lashkar resulted in any deaths, sparing him a life prison sentence.


"We think they got it wrong," Rana's lawyer, Patrick Blegen, said of the guilty verdicts, adding he planned to appeal.

"He faces 30 years for basically buying a plane ticket," defense lawyer Charles Swift said, referring to Rana arranging one of Headley's tickets to Denmark to perform reconnaissance work on the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. The planned attack was intended to avenge published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that angered many Muslims.

"Given the background of the people the threat was very real," Fitzgerald said, citing the plan to storm the newspaper's Copenhagen offices and behead its staff.

Headley, who pleaded guilty, provided valuable information to U.S. authorities in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and extradition to India, Fitzgerald said. Prosecutors said he identified three-dozen other potential targets, most in India.

Rana sat blinking in court as U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber read the verdict. Some of Rana's family members in court bowed their heads. He has a wife and three children.

"He's in shock," Swift said of his client.

Over five days of testimony, Headley, a 50-year-old former U.S. drug informant, recounted the months he spent scouting targets for the Mumbai attackers and Major Iqbal. He claimed he kept Rana informed all along while using the cover story that he worked for Rana's immigration business.

Headley said he was told by Major Iqbal and his Lashkar contacts to back off the Danish plot because of the intense investigation brought to bear following the Mumbai attack.

But Headley, an American with a Pakistani father, pursued the plan with al Qaeda-linked Pakistani militant Ilyas Kashmiri, who he met through a former Pakistani army officer who is also charged in both plots.

In another sign of strained ties between the nominal allies, officials in Pakistan and the United States cannot agree if Kashmiri was killed in a recent U.S. drone strike.

(Editing by Sandra Maler and Vicki Allen)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Ex-NSA worker to plead to lesser charge in leak case

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 07:59 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former U.S. National Security Agency official accused of mishandling classified data and obstructing a probe into leaks of sensitive information agreed on Thursday to plead guilty to a significantly lesser charge.

Thomas Drake was scheduled to go on trial next week on 10 felony counts, including mishandling classified information by taking it home, impeding a probe into leaks from the NSA and making false statements as investigators sought the culprit.

Under the agreement, Drake will plead guilty to a single misdemeanor of exceeding his authorized use of NSA computers, punishable by up to one year in prison. He faced decades of prison time if convicted on the original charges. A plea hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) on Friday in federal court in Baltimore.

In plea agreement documents filed in federal court late on Thursday, prosecutors said they would not object if the judge decided not to sentence Drake to any prison time. He previously pleaded not guilty and said he considered himself a whistle-blower.

The deal was reached after the judge in the case said efforts to protect classified information in certain evidence prosecutors planned to use at trial hampered the defense. As a result, prosecutors said they would not use some of it.

The case could mark a setback for the Obama administration as it tries to crack down on leaks of sensitive and classified information, an effort begun in earnest by the previous Bush administration but beset with similar problems.

"It seems like in all noteworthy recent cases the same result is reached, the government is forced to decide whether to allow the public airing of classified information or drop its charges," said Glen Donath, a former federal prosecutor and now a private attorney. "And it's almost always gone the latter route."

Drake is one of several individuals facing prosecution over alleged leaks about sensitive government activities and programs, and the plea could have a significant impact on those cases as well.

Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to comment on the plea deal as did Drake's attorney, James Wyda.

Drake worked for several years at NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, as a technical leader in the engineering directorate and had secret clearance that gave him access to signals intelligence information.

He left the NSA headquarters in September 2006 to teach at the National Defense University but still worked for the NSA and retained his security clearance until it was suspended in November 2007, according to the indictment. He left the agency in April 2008 when he faced being fired.

Although prosecutors said Drake discussed classified information with a Baltimore Sun newspaper reporter, he was never charged with leaking at a time when the NSA was under pressure after the failure to detect the Sept. 11 attacks.

The original indictment said he traded hundreds of emails and met the reporter, identified previously by a U.S. official as Siobhan Gorman who now works at The Wall Street Journal, serving as a source for many articles.

Between February 2006 and November 2007, Gorman wrote dozens of articles involving the NSA, including about its secret surveillance programs, the spy agency's efforts to bolster cybersecurity and attempts to stop leaks.

Drake has publicly denied providing her any classified information.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

FBM KLCI advances in early trade

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 07:09 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI advanced in Friday's early morning trade, rising 3.73 points or 0.24% to 1,554.62 at 9.40am on the buying of selected blue-chip stocks.

Among the gainers were British American Tobacco (M) and Genting Bhd which were up both up 14 sen to RM46.38 and RM11.24 respectively.

Regional bourses were mixed. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 1.25% to 9,585.87 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 0.25% to 22,553.61.

Shanghai's A index was down 0.13% to 2,699.89 while Taiwan's Taiex Index dipped 0.16% to 8,986.23.

Seoul's Kospi Index rose 0.26% to 2,076.88, with Singapore's Straits Times Index gaining 0.26% to 3,105.76.

Nymex crude oil rose 11 cents to US$102.04 per barrel. Spot gold fell 60 cents to US$1,543.50 per ounce. The ringgit was quoted at 3.015 to the US dollar.

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Oil rises on concerns about future supplies

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 05:54 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Oil settled above $101 Thursday as investors focused on how the world would meet energy demand in coming months.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery rose $1.19 to settle at $101.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

World oil demand is expected to outpace supplies later this year by the widest margin since 2007. While OPEC has decided not to officially increase oil production, Saudi Arabia and a few other oil-producing nations are expected to boost exports anyway. Analysts aren't sure if it will be enough to meet demand.

"You see this general nervousness" in the U.S. and Europe, Houston oil analyst Andrew Lipow said. U.S. lawmakers and the International Energy Agency have talked about meeting future demand by tapping emergency supplies. But that will do little to ease the growing energy appetites of China and other emerging economies.

"Prices are going to go up, that's what's going to happen," Lipow said.

Natural gas futures lost 17.3 cents, or 3.6 percent, to settle at $4.674 per 1,000 cubic feet after the government said supplies in storage grew last week more than analysts expected. The Energy Information Administration said supplies increased by 80 billion cubic feet last week to 2.187 trillion cubic feet.

In other Nymex trading for July contracts, heating oil added 4.41 cents to settle at $3.1378 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 6.11 cents to settle at $3.0398 per gallon.

In London, Brent crude rose $1.72 to settle at $119.57 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange. - AP

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US stocks close higher for the first time in June

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 05:52 PM PDT

NEW YORK: A bit of good news was all it took to break a weeklong slump in the stock market.

A report that U.S. exports hit a record in April sent stocks sharply higher Thursday as investors hoped the economic recovery may not be as sluggish as the last week of grim economic reports have suggested.

Trade levels factor into calculations of economic growth. Thursday's number could add half a percentage point or more to the government's estimate of second-quarter gross domestic product, said Anthony Chan, chief economist for JPMorgan Private Wealth.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75.42 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 12,124.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9.44, or 0.7 percent, to 1,289.00. The Nasdaq composite rose 9.49, or 0.4 percent, to 2,684.87.

Thursday's gains broke a six-day losing streak and marked the first time stocks rose in June. Stocks had dropped following poor reports on manufacturing, home sales, hiring and consumer confidence.

It was the longest losing streak for the Dow Jones industrial average in over a year and the longest for the Standard & Poor's 500 index since February 2009.

The market's weeklong slump also made stocks appear relatively cheap, Chan said. The S&P 500 lost 6.2 percent over the previous six days of trading.

"Markets usually swing like a pendulum," Chan said. "This decline has been strong enough that you can easily justify the market taking a breath."

The narrower trade deficit is a sign that goods from U.S. manufacturers are becoming more competitive in overseas markets. U.S. companies sold more computers, heavy machinery and telecommunications equipment abroad in April compared with the month before. Imports declined because fewer cars were bought from Japan after factories there were damaged by that country's earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Companies that make farming machinery rose after the government reported that U.S. corn crops would be smaller this fall. That sent corn prices soaring and raised expectations that farm owners would be buying more agricultural equipment such as tractors. Both Deere & Co. and AGCO Corp rose 2.5 percent.

A report on claims for unemployment benefits was in line with expectations that new applications would stay roughly the same. The Labor Department reported that new claims edged up 1,000 to 427,000. Economists had expected a slight drop. The high level of claims still suggests that the job market is slow.

Advertising company Interpublic Group of Cos. jumped 6.4 percent, the most of any company in the S&P 500 index, after ratings agency Moody's raised its rating on the company.

A jump in oil prices sent energy stocks higher. Energy companies in the S&P 500 index rose 1.2 percent. Crude rose $1.19 to settle at $101.93.

Stocks have been slipping since mid-April as investors become concerned that the U.S. economy has hit a soft patch. Rising oil prices, Japan's tsunami and nuclear disaster and the risk that Greece might default on its debt have led investors to lower their forecasts for U.S. growth this year.

Nearly two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated trading volume was 3.5 billion shares. - AP

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The Star Online: Sports

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Hamilton hoping to stop Vettel’s run at the Canadian Grand Prix

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 06:55 PM PDT

MONTREAL: Two weeks on from his controversial exit at the Monaco Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton returns to the circuit where he claimed his first pole position and won his first Formula One race in this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

The 2008 drivers' world champion, who departed Monte Carlo under something of a cloud after making a joking racist remark during a rant about the race stewards, did the racing drivers' perfect double during his maiden season in 2007.

That year, he went on to miss out on the drivers' title by a point to Ferrari's flying Finn Kimi Raikkonen, but stormed back to win it 12 months later for his McLaren team.

This season, after one win in six outings, he remains hopeful that, despite a massive 58-points deficit behind defending champion and current leader Sebastian Vettel, of Red Bull, he can still mount a title bid.

But like everyone else chasing the 23-year-old wunderkind, he knows he, or another contender, has to stop Vettel in his winning tracks to prevent the championship turning into a one-man runaway.

Hamilton looked fast enough on the narrow and unforgiving barrier-lined streets of the Mediterranean principality to not only take pole there, but win – before other circumstances intervened – and he clearly believes he can serve more of the same pure pace at the fast and dangerous Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Ile Notre-Dame.

"I think our car should be well suited to this track; we have a great engine, the best KERS (Kinetic Energy Regeneration System) in the sport and excellent traction out of slow corners," he said.

"For me, all in all, it's set to be another good weekend for us. I'll be looking for a strong result on Sunday."

His McLaren team-mate, fellow-Briton and 2009 champion Jenson Button is also optimistic after sensing that he now has the speed and performance available to enable him to set the pace ahead of Red Bull.

"I've never won in North America and I think we have the pace, the development and the momentum to have a good shot at changing that next weekend. I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

McLaren's confidence ahead of the race on a circuit known for its high rate of accidents, attrition and unique challenges – it combines high-speed straights with hairpins – is matched, however, by similar feelings at Red Bull and Ferrari.

Each team will have to set up their cars in a 'new' way after the relatively straightforward opening six events. Due to the speed, they will adopt a low down-force configuration on the track with the longest full-throttle time of all and ensure they have maximised their braking performance.

Australian Mark Webber, of Red Bull said: "My favourite thing about Canada is the laid-back attitude of the fans, which makes the atmosphere very good.

"The track has traditionally thrown up very interesting races due to the street circuit layout and because the low down-force configuration provides some good overtaking.

"It's always nice to get the feeling that there's a GP in town even when we're away from the track and that's certainly the case in Montreal.

His Red Bull team-mate Vettel said: "It is a very unique place. It's not a real track because it's on an island and also used for public roads. It's a bit similar to Albert Park in Melbourne, as it's mainly used for traffic with a second function as a race track.

"It's also very slippery, the asphalt is very smooth and we saw last year that tyre degradation is huge, but it's always good fun. It's a great race, the atmosphere is fantastic and the fans are very special.

"It's the only time we go to North America to race and it's really a cool place with the city and people."

In common with their main rivals, Ferrari are also more confident as they anticipate racing on the harder compound tyres supplied by Pirelli and, with new parts on their car, producing a competitive performance.

That, together with the harsh nature of the circuit and the many anticipated incidents and accidents, means another spectacular race in front of capacity crowds is in prospect as Hamilton, and the rest, seek to catch Vettel. — AFP

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Hoo-Woon stun Thai world No. 7 pair to reach quarters

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 06:40 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The women's doubles pair of Vivian Hoo (pic)-Woon Khe Wei rose to the occasion to bundle out top seeds and home favourites Duanganong Aroonkesorn-Kunchala Voravichitchaikul en route to a place in the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open GP Gold badminton tournament in Bangkok yesterday.

But it was a disastrous day for Malaysia in the men's singles competition as only veteran Wong Choong Hann was left in the challenge after the third-round matches.

The unseeded Vivian-Khe Wei stunned the world No. 7 pair from Thailand, winning 18-21, 21-9, 21-12 in their opening match. They went on to beat Indonesian qualifiers Keysa Nurvita Hanadia-Aprilsasi Putri Lejarsar Variella 21-14, 21-18 to book a place in the quarter-finals.

Doubles coach Pang Cheh Chang was happy with their performance, considering that Vivian-Khe Wei were playing together in their first international Open this year.

"They were with different partners before this. Beating the Thai pair boosted their confidence in the morning. I hope they can maintain the consistency," he said.

In the men's singles, national back-up squad's Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and independent shuttlers Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Kuan Beng Hong were all eliminated.

And it was left to Choong Hann to carry the Malaysian challenge after a 21-10, 15-21, 21-12 win over Thai youngster Suppanyu Avihingsanon

Choong Hann has an opportunity to gauge his form ahead of a record eighth world championship appearance in London in August when he takes on reigning world champion Chen Jin of China in the quarter-finals today. Choong Hann has played eight matches against Chen Jin and has only won twice.

But Chen Jin has been struggling to clear the early rounds in the Super Series events thus far this year. Yesterday, the fourth seeded Chinese, who has dropped to No. 11 in the world rankings, laboured for a 13-21, 21-11, 21-14 win over Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto.

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Synchronised swimmers reap fruits of unwavering commitment

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 06:38 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: They had to shuttle from one venue to another for training for almost two years after their regular place in Penang was closed down.

But the unwavering commitment despite all the troubles paid off handsomely as the Penang synchronised swimmers rejoiced after bagging the first two gold medals at stake in the competition at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The Penang team of Emanuelle Mah, Alyssa Izadora, Cheah Cheng Im, Kok Wan Ting, Leong Jie Xi, Natassha Julian, Nikki Chuah, Tasha Jane, Yew Yun Han and Yew Yun Qing danced their way to the gold medals in the technical and free disciplines.

In the technical routine, they chalked up 179.10 points to finish ahead of Negri Sembilan (172.16) and Kuala Lumpur (132.75). Then in the free routine, they finished tops with 71.50 points ahead of Negri (69.50) and Kuala Lumpur (65.83).

Emanuelle, who is one of the synchronised swimmers training under the national programme in Bukit Jalil, said that they were happy to achieve their mission to capture the gold medals in the team disciplines.

"We are thankful to everyone involved with the synchronised swimming programme in our hometown for helping us to make this possible," said the 16-year-old, who returned home a month ago to train with the Penang team.

"We made a few mistakes but thankfully, things turned out okay."

Synchronised swimming was last contested in Sukma when Negri hosted the Games in 2004 and Penang Amateur Swimming Association secretary Soh Yew Siang said the two-gold achievement was just reward for the dedication and hard work put in by the swimmers, coaches and the parents as well.

"We had to fight very hard to justify the funding for a sport that has not been in the Sukma programme for some time," he said.

"The parents showed their commitment by never failing to sent their children to training despite the uncertainties.

"We also did not have a regular pool to train in as the one in PISA has been closed for almost two years for repairs. We had to move around and to pay to train in private pools."

There will be another two gold medals at stake in solo disciplines (free and technical) today.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Bookie held for alleged match-fixing

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 06:13 AM PDT

KUALA TERENGGANU: A football bookie has been detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) to facilitate investigations into alleged match-fixing involving the T-Team President's Cup squad.

Terengganu MACC director Mohd Yusoff Mohd Zin said the suspect, in his 50s, was detained in Seremban at about 3pm on Wednesday.

"He has been detained until July 12 to assist investigations into allegations of match-fixing and bribery involving T-Team players and its management.

"We expect to wrap up the investigations soon," he said, adding that the probe was almost 80% complete.

"We have already recorded statements from the players, coaches and the team's management personnel" he said.

It is learnt that the bookie has been operating for several years.

It was reported recently that a former T-Team player admitted to accepting bribes amounting to thousands of ringgit to fix matches during the Under-21 President's Cup competition last year.

The player is said to have been approached by teammates with the proposition to fix the outcome of their matches.

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Amended HP Act sees RM90 fee for used car sellers, new rules for repossession

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 05:54 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Used vehicle sellers will have to pay a RM90 inspection fee to Puspakom before the sale can be made, in line with the implementation of Hire Purchase Act (Amendment 2010) on June 15.

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said used motorcycles were exempted from inspection due to the small number and amount involved.

He said the complusory inspection was to protect buyers of used vehicles and not meant to incovenience sellers or buyers of used vehicles.

Previously, Puspakom inspection was needed for transfer of ownership to ensure that the vehicles were not stolen.

"If previously, checks were on four items, we have added another 14 items to ensure safety. Puspakom will issue a certificate that can be used for ownership transfer and hire purchase agreement with banks."

He said the issue of car dealers returning 90% of booking fees should deals fall through did not arise as it was not stated in the law.

However, sellers may request a 10% deposit from buyers as required under the Hire Purchase Act.

The Government has also set new conditions for vehicle repossessors to protect the interest of consumers. Only those registered and given permits by the ministry will be appointed vehicle repossessors.

Ismail said permit applicants will have to undergo screening to check for criminal record.

"They also must adhere to procedures whereby repossession can only be done from 9am to 9pm daily. No force must be used in the process.

"If the vehicle is in the garage, they can't enter the house compound except with a court order and can be reported to police for flouting it,"

He said this was in line with Hire Purchase Act 1967 (Amended 2010) and Hire Purchase Rules (Permit Acquisition and Repossession Procedures) 2011.

Some 451 repossession permits had been issued in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor while 1,053 people had applied nationwide. - Bernama

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Last minute pull-outs by international artistes could taint Malaysia's image

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 05:27 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Organisers of concerts involving international artistes in Malaysia should be well informed of the country's regulations, especially pertaining to dress code, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

This would prevent last-minute cancellations by the artistes, despite approval from the authorities, which could taint Malaysia's image, she said.

"When the private sector invites them to perform in Malaysia, all conditions must be stated very clearly," Dr Ng told reporters here Thursday, after witnessing the signing of an memorandum of understaiding between i-Berhad and MTV Networks Asia to hold the MTV World Stage Live 2011 in Malaysia.

She said Malaysia aimed to become a favoured venue for international events in the entertainment industry, so invited artistes withdrawing at the eleventh hour because of pressure from certain quarters in the country could affect Malaysia's image.

Ng was asked to comment on the upcoming MTV concert at i-City Shah Alam being objected to by opposition party PAS.

Numerous international artistes, including Beyonce and Adam Lambert, have cancelled their performances in the country solely on the basis of local protests. - Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Ang Lee proud of son's role in 'Hangover' sequel

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 01:39 AM PDT

HONG KONG (AP): Oscar-winning director Ang Lee played an important role in "The Hangover Part II" - he's the father of one of the actors.

Mason Lee plays Teddy, the teenager the lead characters try to rescue as they struggle to piece together what happened during a crazy night in Bangkok.

Ang Lee was clearly a proud dad speaking to reporters after catching a showing with his younger brother and mother earlier this week in Taiwan, his home country.

"My son's performance was quite good," Lee told reporters outside a Taipei theater in footage posted on the website of the Taiwanese newspaper Apple Daily. "He is quite a serious actor but this is just a comedy."

Asked by an overeager reporter whether Mason was a future Oscar winner, the elder Lee responded with a smile, "He only has a small role in the movie."

Lee demurred when asked if he would cast Mason in one of his movies. "I don't know. Kids should do whatever they want to do," he said.

Lee's older son, Haan, played the toddler son of the family featured in Lee's 1992 directorial debut, "Pushing Hands."

The Associated Press didn't touch on Mason Lee's performance in its largely critical review of "The Hangover Part II." It gave the sequel one-and-a-half stars out of four, saying it was too much of a rehash of the first installment.

However, the movie has been a big international hit. It was the No. 2 film outside North America behind "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" last weekend, raking in $63.8 million on its second weekend. Its total take as of last weekend was just over $347 million.

Lee, who won a best director Oscar for the gay romance "Brokeback Mountain," was in the Taiwanese capital shooting his adaptation of the award-winning Yann Martel novel "Life of Pi."

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Swarovski throws a shimmer fest

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 08:07 PM PDT

THE name Swarovski certainly needs no introduction. Since its entry into the world of fashion, it has revolutionised design aesthetics, and brought glitter to finishings and accessories. The recent showing of the Wings of Fantasy Fall/Winter 2011/12 collection in Singapore took the shimmering crystals to a new dimension.

From chunky multi-coloured necklaces to equally chunky bracelets, they were all head-turners. There were also stunning drop down necklaces with matching earrings and dazzling rings. One standout piece was a plunging V-neck dress with pointed shoulders in silver crystals with the lower-half adorned with multi-coloured crystals.

Perhaps, it was an optical illusion but the shimmering bits looked like they were all carefully stitched on individually rather than just ironed on.

The final piece was a floor-length dress in golden crystals that was probably quite heavy yet afforded fluid motion. The model who wore the outfit worked it effortlessly despite the weight and definitely deserved the enthusiastic applause.

Many of the pieces on display looked ornamental but didn't come off as tacky. Delicate simple pieces were cleverly interspersed with heavier elaborate ones.

Swarovski certainly picked the right clothes for the model, too. Based on Prabal Gurung's Spring/Summer collection 2011, it appeared like they had collaborated on the pieces together (although that was not the case). One can understand why Prabal is the designer of choice for many celebrities and First Lady Michelle Obama.

There were also nine pieces which Prabal specially fashioned in collaboration with Swarovski. The bold block colours certainly complemented the equally colourful bejewelled pieces.

According to artistic director Nathalie Colin, the muse of the season is a woman who sways between contemporary ballet and choreographed performance.

"I imagined an artiste, a star of the dancing world, in the intimate serene setting of her dressing room, as she prepares her outfit for the stage. Suddenly, she transforms herself into an enigmatic and glamorous, modern, radiant diva as she takes to the stage," he said of the collection.

This Swarovski collection is the final chapter of the Beyond Nature trilogy collection.

Related Story:
On a Missoni mission

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On a Missoni mission

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 05:01 PM PDT

After almost six decades, the family-owned Italian label still commands presence.

THE Audi Fashion Festival (AFF) 2011 held last month in Singapore was more than impressive, to say the least. The roll call of international designers and labels included Missoni and Erdem (both labels had international representation), Antonio Berardi, Ungaro with designer Giles Deacon in tow and Atelier Swarovski featuring Prabal Gurung's spring/summer collection (unfortunately, Prabal couldn't make it).

And then, there was uber famous photographer Russell James of Victoria Secret's fame, Japanese supermodel Tao Okamoto, and yesterday's singing sensation Boy George, who had his own fashion label for a while. Also known for his spinning prowess, he played DJ in the Lion City during his visit.

The festival kicked off with the Missoni Winter collection 2011. Also appearing to lend presence to the show were Angela Missoni (creative director), her brother Vittorio (marketing and distribution) and her daughter Margherita (accessories).

The family-owned fashion house has an illustrious history. The label started in 1953 when former Italian Olympic athlete Ottavio (Tai) Missoni married Rosita. They first met at the London Olympics in 1948 where Ottavio was competing (he had designed the Italian team's track suits then) while she was studying English there.

After their marriage, the couple opened a small knitwear shop in Gallarate. In 1958, they presented their first collection. With the support of legendary editor Anna Piaggi, the business flourished.

Nine years later, Missoni was the talk of town when its "braless" models showed off their assets at Pitti in Florence as a result of the the runway lights rendering the fabric transparent. Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue (US edition), backed their designs and they made it big in the United States.

Tai eventually became more interested in other projects so Rosita was given free reign with the design direction. She then handed over design control to daughter Angela in 1998 to concentrate on her home collection.

"I started when I was young and assisted my mother at the atelier. She was always styling, looking at fashion patterns and colour. But then, my priority in life was taking care of my three children," said Angela during an interview at the AFF.

"But my mother had a strong presence, and I knew I needed to do something on my own and build my self-confidence and image. So I started out with a children's line."

She came up with the Angela Missoni line, which was mostly solids with added patterns and colours. "Mother came up to me and exclaimed that what I was doing was what she had always wanted the main line to look like. She told me that she felt tired and trapped, and wanted me to take over. She and my father would always be there for me if I ever needed advice," said Angela.

This chain of events was repeated when it came to Angela's daughter, Margherita. The 28-year-old left Italy 10 years ago and went to New York where she stayed for three years. She lived overseas for a while in Barcelona, Rome and Paris before home beckoned.

"When I was ready, mother roped me in just like my grandmother did with her. My grandmother, whom I'm very close to, always said that fashion has to be done with passion, and that was the moment passion took over," said Margherita.

While in New York, she was studying to be an actress and was also a full-time model. The tall and very pretty Margherita, who is often cited on best dressed lists for her luxe bohemian styling, was also the label's muse. Now, she handles the accessories for the label such as sunglasses and bags.

Angela's eldest brother Vittorio, is marketing director for the family business and oversees the international distribution, too. Sometimes her other brother, Luca, helps out.

Angela said they also employ modern tools such as social networking and Margherita, being the youngest in the family, obviously has the best handle on that.

"I never really tweeted before. But then, someone told me there was this person using my name and tweeting about how she loved cats. Those who know me would surely know I have a cat phobia, so obviously it was a fake. I decided to start my own account and give the public the truth," said Margherita with hearty laugh.

While the pricing for Missioni places it in the high-end market, the fashion house has been quite savvy about its collaborations. Angela said they decided to go that route to bring the Missoni aesthetics and sensibilites to other products, but in a more affordable way to the masses.

They started with San Pelligrono mineral water and it caused a sensation. Collaborations with Havaianas and Converse took place later. Angela makes it clear that they only collaborate with labels that have strong branding themselves.

Then, she gave the scoop. "We're currently working with Target in the United States (a supermarket label) for a collection. It will be a cheaper line containing our DNA with good quality fabrics and finishing. This is not intended to duplicate the standards of our atelier because then, the costs would go up and it will no longer be affordable."

These days, family-owned businesses are becoming a rarity as conglomerates swallow them up. So would it be a challenge for the Missonis to keep things within the family?

"We work well together and right now, we even have the third generation involved, so we should be able to make it work for a while longer. It's also great when your ideas are not restricted and you don't have to answer to shareholders. This means we still drive the label's direction and have the final say," said Vittorio.

Angela chipped in that working with family sometimes has its disadvantages though as it's not easy to be confrontational with another family member.

Margherita has the last word. "Well, right now we are all passionate about it. But who knows, things might change. And if you have no one to take over, then we have to decide what happens."

What is certain though, is that the iconic Missoni style which highlights zig-zag patterns, stripes, geometrics and florals in knitwear in a multitude of colours is still going strong.

The full house at the show was a clear indication of the label's popularity. Its collection was inspired by the 1990s, the film True Romance and actress Winona Ryder.

There were many long floaty dresses in iconic Missoni prints. Certainly, the gorgeous pastel hues for the winter collection was a refreshing change from the usual drab colours of the season. Canary yellow, pink cotton candy, acquamarine and stardust lilac in watercolour tones were apparent.

There were long and lean silhouettes, fluid silk velvet and featherweight crepon made into long cool maxi skirts and dresses. These were mixed with cosy men's pullovers and reversible jackets. Cardigans, and deconstructed coats and jackets and trousers in menswear cuts completed the look.

Related Story:
Shimmer fest

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Eye-opening programme for students

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 03:19 AM PDT

THE 11th Toyota Eco Youth (TEY) programme, organised by UMW Toyota Motor, saw 88 students, principals and teachers from eight secondary schools gathered at Lembah Kiara go through a series of environmental auditing conducted by the Global Environment Centre (GEC) recently.

Among the activities were identifying the sources of pollution in the drains, issues surrounding the wet market as well as river monitoring around the area.

The schools were selected by the Education Ministry to participate in the programme — SMKA Maahad Hamidiah, Selangor; SMK Ayer Keroh, Melaka; SMK Bukit Jambul, Pulau Pinang; SMK Pendang, Kedah; SMK Tanjung Datuk, Johor; SMK Chalok, Terengganu; SMK Takis, Sabah and SMK Lundu, Sarawak.

With the help of GEC, the programme aims to provide knowledge and assist the schools to initiate their environment project with the community.

The TEY programme was officially launched by Education Ministry co-curriculum and arts department director Muhamat Roli Hassan, UMW Toyota Motor deputy chairman Takashi Hibi and president Ismet Suki.

"It will conclude with a convention and prize-giving ceremony, which will be held at the end of this year.

"Upon the success of this new programme, we will explore the possibility of having more schools to compete next year," said Ismet.

The winner will receive a cash prize of RM7,000, while the second and third place winners will each receive RM5,000 and RM3,000, respectively.

The programme was first conceptualised in 2001. Through the years, some 138 schools with more than 1,500 students, principals and teachers have been involved.

UMW Toyota Motor has spent over RM4mil to organise and run the programme.

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Reconditioned generator causes lift to breakdown

Posted: 09 Jun 2011 03:18 AM PDT

RESIDENTS of Avilla Apartment in Jalan Bangau 11 at Bandar Puchong Jaya were shocked to discover that the generator set provided by the developer was a reconditioned unit.

The generator, which is supposed to switch on automatically during power outage — to supply electricity to lifts and emergency lights in common areas — was found out to be a 10-year-old unit.

Joint management body (JMB) chairman Madan Mohan said the residents engaged an engineer to inspect the unit following the machine's failure to activate during a blackout.

"Three girls were trapped in the lift and we had to call the Fire and Rescue Department to get them out.

"The inspection report stated that the generator was manufactured in July 1998 and engine oil was leaking from the top gasket of the diesel engine, a sign that the generator has been used extensively for long hours," he said.

Upon discovering this in 2009, the JMB terminated the service of the property manager, who was responsible for carrying out a building audit and looking out for defects before taking over the buildings from the developer.

Madan added that JMB had to get a technician to turn on the machine manually during blackouts.

Requests to the developer to reimburse the JMB for the repair costs and to replace the reconditioned unit with a brand new one were denied.

"The developer acknowledged that the generator is a 10-year-old unit and told us that as long as it could be started with three cranks then it is alright for them to install it.

"They offered to give us another two years warranty which includes bearing the costs of repairs and that the repair works should be carried out by their contractor.

"We didn't accept the offer because we want a new unit. Furthermore, if a blackout occurs in the middle of the night, would their contractor be able to come and help us out?" Madan asked.

There are 240 units in the two-block 15-storey apartments.

The generator is installed in a room located at the ground floor. Its exhaust pipe is exposed and the smoke emitted had blackened the foyer ceiling.

When the residents turned on the generator on Tuesday evening, a bird's nest shot out from the exhaust pipe.

Resident Yong Zen Feng, who lives in a unit adjacent to the generator, said they have to shut all windows whenever the generator is switched on.

"The black smoke has a stench," he said.

JMB secretary Syariza Odman added that the residents did not expect the apartments to be equipped with a reconditioned generator when they purchased the units from the developer.

"We want to highlight this case to warn other house buyers," she said.

Madan added that the JMB had forked out about RM9,000 to repair and service the generator and a new set would cost around RM120,000 depending on capacity.

House Buyers Association honourary legal advisor Tan Cheng Siong said the developer should provide a new generator for the new apartments, as repair or replacement costs might be incurred to the residents when they inherit the building and reconditioned generator from the developer.

"Although there is no rule in black and white that requires the developer to provide a brand new unit, common sense tells us that a new building should have a new generator.

"The residents can lodge a complaint with the Commissioner of Buildings, or take the case to the court," he said.

When contacted, a spokesperson from the developer said a reconditioned generator could be installed as long as it was in good working condition.

"Bomba tested the unit before approving our application for Certificate of Fitness," she said.

She added that the developer offered to change the parts when the machine needed to be repaired.

"A new unit comes with a year warranty and yet we are willing to offer them a two-year warranty, even though we have already handed over the apartment to them a few years ago.

"This shows that we are confident of the condition of the machine," she said.

She added that the developer had sent a friendly reminder to the JMB regarding the offer but has yet to hear from them.

On the exposed exhaust pipe, she said it was installed according to the specifications.

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