Selasa, 5 Julai 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Spectacular backstory

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 03:06 AM PDT

The prequel gives viewers a background on the history of the House of Batiatus and introduces us to the indestructible Gannicus.

WHEN Starz television series, Spartacus: Blood And Sand, premiered in January last year, little did the producers expect to be at crossroads just after season one, throwing a gladiator-sized challenge to its team of writers.

Like many of its fans I was hooked from the first series of this rather bloody historical drama.

It was visually appetising from the mood of the set, the way it was shot, its attention to detail from scars to blood splatters, and of course, the fabulous designs of the women's ethereal Roman gowns. Even the lack of material used for the pitiable female slaves had a fashionable edge of its own!

Shot in a similar style to that of the film 300 and with the look of the Gladiator, the set was surreal and it captured the intensity of the characters and the era with all its plots, blood and gore.

When the show was renewed for a second season, production was suddenly delayed as the lead actor, Andy Whitfield – who plays a Thracian gladiator in ancient Rome and becomes the historical figure of Spartacus – was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The producers wanted to buy time for Whitfield to undergo treatment and to recover, and to resume his role. As such, the prequel, Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena, was dreamed up.

The storyline for this highly anticipated prequel was skillfully manoeuvred to give its hungry audience something to chew on, after having offered a titillating first season.

It gives viewers a background on the history of the House of Batiatus and the Roman city of Capua before the legendary Spartacus arrives. What a clever time-buying idea!

It includes all the main characters from the original series and introduces the indestructible Gannicus (Dustin Clare), the first gladiator to become Champion of Capua, who was bought by the House of Batiatus; Gaia (Jaime Murray) as Capua's sexy social climber and Melitta (Marisa Ramirez), a beautiful slave who plays the wife of one of the gladiators, Oenomaus (Peter Mensah).

As in season one, the prequel anchors around Quintus Batiatus (John Hannah) who aspires to political power and prestige in Capua, but it also introduces the story of Gannicus, the charismatic gladiator.

In the class-conscious world of ancient Rome, the House of Batiatus must first earn the respect of politicians and the socialites before being granted the right for its gladiators to fight in the much-revered championship bouts called the Primus.

At the start of the prequel, while his father is on an extended visit to Sicilia, Quintus Batiatus becomes the acting Lanista (manager of a team of gladiators).

In the first season, Batiatus has won the rights for his gladiators to fight in the Primus, but in the prequel you see what he goes through to earn his fight rights.

Hannah is rarely cast in lead roles but he doesn't disappoint as Quintus Batiatus – giving us a man whose ambition and greed will lead him to make tough choices. It is in making hard-hitting decisions that he habitually flinches for a second, then quickly recovers, making you want to believe he has a conscience, which he ignores.

When the champion gladiator is introduced in the form of the hulking Gannicus, he portrays a very unusual gladiator – one who smiles a lot which is very unbecoming of a serious gladiator – but his cockiness adds a sense of lightness to the doom and gloom of his fate and that of his fellow gladiators in training.

In one scene, Gannicus is forced into a precarious position with Melitta, who is the wife of his best friend, Oenomaus, and being slaves to the house of Batiatus, their fates are sealed and they are bound to serve Batiatus at all costs.

Interestingly, we also get to see Crixus (Manu Bennett) in his pre-season one look – long-haired and hungry – who has to start at the bottom of the gladiator food chain and how he develops into a more prominent role in season one.

Batiatus' equally ambitious wife, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), didn't seem as ambitious in these earlier days, and her toned down version takes some getting used to.

A newcomer in the form of the stunning social climber Gaia (Jaime Murray) makes Lucretia look harmless, and it wouldn't be a bad idea if they develop her feisty character in season two.

Even after watching only two episodes of this six-parter, the prequel is highly addictive.

Meanwhile, Whitfield (whose cancer recurred) had decided not to return for season two and had given his blessings for his role to be re-casted.

Whitfield's sandals will be tough to fill, especially after his remarkable performance – he is not extraordinarily handsome to the point of being intimidating and all his emotions seem to have a conversation with you just through his eyes. As I whine about the loss the series will feel with the absence of Whitfield, I am hopeful – with so much success after the casting of the first season's characters – to see Spartacus rise again, to keep us as loyal as slaves to this highly entertaining drama series.

Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena airs every Friday at 11pm on MAX (Astro Ch 412).

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Somali man held two months faces charges in U.S.

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 09:45 PM PDT

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Somali man suspected of assisting al Qaeda was held abroad on a U.S. Navy ship for questioning for over two months without being advised of any legal rights, an administration official said.

The man, identified as Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, was brought to New York City on July 4 to face charges in a U.S. criminal court.

He appeared in a New York court on Tuesday morning and pleaded not guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Somali group Al Shabaab, U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan said on Tuesday.

Warsame was arrested in April by the U.S. military in the Gulf, he was questioned about anti-terrorism "for intelligence purposes for more than two months" before being read his Miranda rights, the prosecutors said in a statement.

Miranda rights entitle suspects to a lawyer and the right to remain silent.

He was questioned by interrogators from the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group and the U.S. military, according to an administration official.

President Barack Obama's administration has come under fire by Republicans and even some fellow Democrats over his decision to prosecute some terrorism suspects in criminal courts and not in military courts, where rules for evidence are looser.

In Washington, another senior administration official said Obama's national security team had unanimously recommended the prosecution of Warsame in a criminal court.

The senior Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, Senator Susan Collins, said she did not agree with this decision.

"A foreign national who fought on behalf of al Shabaab in Somalia - and who was captured by our military overseas - should be tried in a military commission, not a federal civilian court in New York or anywhere else in our country," she said in a statement .


After his interrogation, a fresh FBI team came in and was permitted to talk with him, at which time he waived his legal rights and continued to talk for several days, said the first official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to talk on the record about matters of terrorism.

Warsame arrived in New York City late on July 4 after being formally arrested the previous day, according to a letter from prosecutors to the U.S. court.

Warsame, said to be in his mid-20s, was indicted on nine charges, including providing material support from at least 2007 to April 2011 to Somali militants al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), two groups designated by Washington as terrorist organizations.

According to the charges, Warsame also worked to broker a weapons deal with AQAP on behalf of al Shabaab.

A joint statement by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, the FBI and the New York Police Department said he was also charged with "conspiring to teach and demonstrate the making of explosives, possessing firearms and explosives in furtherance of crimes of violence and other violations."

(Reporting by Grant McCool and Basil Katz in New York and Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington; editing by Todd Eastham and Jackie Frank)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Gazprom delegation in talks with N.Korea oil ministry - KCNA

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 09:45 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - A delegation from Russia's Gazprom OAO visiting North Korea has held talks with officials from the Ministry of Oil Industry there, North Korea's central news agency reported late on Tuesday.

"Present at the talks from the DPRK side were Minister of Oil Industry Kim Hui Yong, officials concerned, and from the Russian side, members of the delegation of Gazprom of Russia headed by Deputy Managing Chairman Alexandr Ananenkov," the Korean Central News Agency said.

"At the talks, both sides discussed cooperation on oil and gas and a series of other issues of bilateral concern," KCNA said, without elaborating.

The Gazprom delegation's trip follows a reported recent visit by Russia's spy chief to the North Korean capital to discuss economic projects involving North and South Korea, the world's second-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyer after Japan.

Russia and North Korea share a short border, but ties worsened and trade fell steeply after the collapse of the Communist Soviet Union in 1991.

(Reporting by Cho Mee-young; Editing by Chris Lewis)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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California lawmakers pass bill to teach gay history

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 07:42 PM PDT

SACRAMENTO, Calif (Reuters) - A bill to require public schools in California to teach about the historical accomplishments of gay men and lesbians passed the state legislature on Tuesday in what supporters call a U.S. first.

Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has not said publicly whether he supports the bill, which he has 12 days to sign or veto once it reaches his desk later this month. If he takes no action, the measure would become law automatically.

The bill gained final passage from the state Assembly on a vote of 49-25, without a single Republican supporting it. The measure cleared the state Senate in April.

California already requires public schools to teach the contributions made to society by women and by racial and ethnic groups that were historically discriminated against, including blacks, Latinos and Native Americans.

Supporters of the latest bill said it would simply include gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals within that existing requirement, making it part of the curriculum in history and other social studies classes.

"It's unfair to leave out or exclude an entire portion of our population from history," said Carolyn Laub, executive director of San Francisco-based Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

The group, which supported the bill, said no other state has passed similar legislation.

California Assemblyman Donald Wagner is one of the Republicans who opposed the requiring.

"Writing these provisions into textbooks will further an agenda rather than teach facts," Wagner said. "When we do things, we politicize them because that's the nature of politics. We should leave education to the educators."

Even if the bill becomes law, it could be several years before the change reaches California students.

The California Department of Education has said that, because of the fiscal crisis facing the state, it does not expect to adopt new textbooks until 2015.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Steve Gorman and Cynthia Johnston)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Asian markets sluggish after past week rally

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 07:15 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday July 6, 2011 MYT 10:08:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday July 6, 2011 MYT 10:15:55 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Asian markets remained mixed in sluggish trading Wednesday morning after Moody's cut Portugal's credit rating to junk status.

Investors were also taking a breather after global markets touched new highs in the week that just ended, dealers said.

At 9.45am, the FBM KLCI was up 0.10% to 1,583.51 while Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 0.4%.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi lost 0.18%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.19% while Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.07%.

In a morning note to clients, HwangDBS said the Malaysian bourse could come under pressure today.

"Profit-taking activity will probably cause the benchmark FBM KLCI to pull back ahead after posting a 19.3-point gain (+1.2%) since last Monday. Technically, the immediate support level is seen at 1,575," the house said.

Among the gainers, MSM was up 25sen to RM5.32, TChong added 14sen to RM14.97 while DiGi put on 12sen to RM29.72.

Nymex crude oil added 26 cents to US$97.15 per barrel.

Spot gold lost US$2.97 to US$1512.68 per ounce.

The ringgit was quoted at 3.0098 to the US dollar.

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What's next for the market?

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Row erupts over measure that could aid Berlusconi

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 05:46 PM PDT

MILAN: Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday hastily withdrew a controversial measure buried in Italy's 47 billion ($68 billion) austerity plan that would have allowed his family investment company to avoid paying a heavy fine, at least temporarily.

Opposition politicians and magistrates had expressed outrage at the measure, which was meant to keep companies from having to pay especially high fines as long as appeals were pending.

If passed, the measure would have allowed Fininvest, the holding company for Berlusconi's family assets, to at least delay paying a 750 million ($1.09 billion) fine it was given two years ago for alleged corruption in the takeover of publishing house Mondadori in the 1990s.

Despite withdrawing the measure, Berlusconi defended it as not only "just but necessary."

The payment of "enormous sums" with appeals still pending could create financial difficulties for companies or individuals, without any guarantee that the money would be returned if the award was modified at a later stage, he said.

"The opposition promoted a new crusade against this measure thinking that, among the thousands of potential beneficiaries, it could also apply to a company within my group," Berlsuconi said.

The premier complained that the amount Fininvest had been ordered to pay exceeds the value of its share of Mondadori. He expressed certainty that the award would be overturned on appeal. A decision is expected this week.

The existence of the measure was reported in Italian newspapers Tuesday, and came to light during a review of the austerity package by the Italian president's office.

The Finance Ministry had no immediate comment, though it canceled a presentation of the austerity plan on Tuesday, while President Giorgio Napolitano told reporters that he would not comment on the package until the review was complete.

Berlusconi ally Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the measure was general and not aimed at protecting anyone in particular. "If I understand correctly, it is a general measure," Frattini was quoted by the news agency LaPresse as saying, adding that it didn't receive much attention in the Cabinet.

The government approved the austerity measures last week to show financial markets and the European Union that it is serious about balancing its budget. It must be approved by Parliament.

The three-year-plan aims to bring the government's budget deficit of 3.9 percent this year to near-balance by 2014. It includes new taxes on financial transactions, tax breaks for young entrepreneurs, extending a public sector hiring freeze and cutting ministries' budgets, as well as measures to fight tax evasion.

Opposition politicians said the measure benefiting Berlusconi's family violated the wishes of voters, who demonstrated in last month's referendum that they think the premier does not deserve special treatment. Voters overwhelmingly killed a law that partially shielded Berlusconi and other top officials from prosecution while in office.

Shares of Berlusconi's Mediaset media company, controlled by Fininvest, were down 1.6 percent to 3.25 in Milan. - AP

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Oil climbs above US$97 per barrel

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 05:43 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Some major investment banks are still betting that oil prices will rise next year despite an emergency injection of crude on world markets from the U.S. and other countries.

Benchmark crude rose as high as $97.48 per barrel Tuesday after Barclays Capital raised its price forecast for 2012. And Goldman Sachs said the International Energy Agency's decision at the end of June to release 60 million barrels of oil from its reserves won't cool off prices as much as originally thought.

Independent oil analysts say prices still could head lower this year. But some think IEA's announcement speaks volumes about its expectations for world oil supplies.

"I think it's an admission from them that Saudi Arabia might not be able to produce enough oil on its own" to meet increased world demand, analyst Stephen Schork said.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude on Tuesday was up $1.82 at $96.76 per barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London Brent crude, which is used to price many international oil varieties, added $2.48 to $113.92 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Barclays increased its 2012 forecast for Brent crude by $10 to $115 per barrel on Tuesday, saying prices will rise as global oil demand increases. Barclays sees China, India, Saudi Arabia and Brazil as the main sources for demand growth.

Goldman Sachs also pointed out late last week that IEA will actually release only about two-thirds of what was originally promised. Goldman analyst David Greely said about one-third of the 60 million barrels will come from limiting the amount that countries are required to keep in emergency supplies. Since the oil industry tends to keep much more on hand than what's required, Greely said that the new limits will have an "almost negligible impact on oil prices."

Greely said prices probably won't fall as much as he'd expected following the IEA announcement. He revised his "near-term" Brent crude price forecast from $117 to a range of $109 to $111 per barrel, and his 2012 Brent forecast from $130 to a range of $125 to $127 per barrel.

Also on Tuesday the government said factory orders rose, as businesses ordered more airplanes, autos, and oil drilling equipment in May. The Commerce Department report suggested that supply disruptions from Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March are easing.

Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline pump prices hit $3.562 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular has dropped 42.3 cents from three-year highs set in early May, but it's still 83.8 cents higher than the same time last year.

In other Nymex trading for August contracts, heating oil rose 4 cents to $2.9688 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 2 cents at $2.9904 per gallon. Natural gas picked up 4 cents at $4.374 per 1,000 cubic feet. - AP

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Hamilton plans greatest comeback in front of home fans at Silverstone

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 05:35 PM PDT

LONDON: Lewis Hamilton plans on launching the greatest comeback in F1 history in front of his home fans this weekend.

The former champ knows he has to win Sunday's British Grand Prix to have any hope of regaining the drivers' crown.

Hamilton's title dream will not be formally over even if he sees runaway leader Sebastian Vettel scorch to a seventh win this season.

But the McLaren driver knows he will be all but dead in the water with his Red Bull rival already leading him by an incredible 89 points.

Hamilton, 26, insisted: "We are only halfway through the season, there is still a long way to go. Somehow I still have this hope inside me that we find something and we win every bloody race after that and we can still win the world championship.

"If we get to the next grand prix and don't win, you think of the next and the next – and then you run out of opportunities.

"But the opportunity is still there now. This is the third year in a row we have not really had the best car to win titles with.

"When I had the best car in 2007 and one just as good the next year you could bang it out again and again.

"But it is on Red Bull's foot now and Vettel might get two or three world titles."

James Hunt produced the greatest comeback in history when he overturned a 35-point deficit to snatch the title from Austria's Niki Lauda in 1976.

That equates to a 97-point disadvantage using the new system – eight more than Hamilton trails Vettel with 11 races left.

But Hunt only caught Lauda after the Austrian missed two races following his near-fatal crash in Germany. Hamilton cannot be ruled out as he bids to spearhead a one-two with Jenson Button in front of 100,000 fans at the former WWII airfield.

He added: "The dream for us would be to have a one-two at Silverstone.

"That would be the best weekend I could ever imagine in Formula One. That would be incredible.

"The dream would be to see what effect that would have on everyone."

But Hamilton's future at the team is again in doubt amid fears he is looking to join Red Bull for 2013 – or maybe even next year.

Hamilton's £75mil contract runs out at the end of 2012.

The team have refused to deny Hamilton has a break-out clause that would enable him to leave next year – if he can find a team that could guarantee him a winning car.

But team chief Martin Whitmarsh is hopeful Hamilton will agree a new deal with the Woking outfit that could earn him £150mil. — The Sun, London

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Bored Villeneuve turns his back on Formula One again

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 05:35 PM PDT

GROVE (England): Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve (pic) is done with Formula One, not just as a driver but now seemingly as a spectator as well.

The 40-year-old Canadian who last drove for BMW-Sauber in 2006 but has been linked to several possible comeback drives since then, said on Monday that he now had eyes only for NASCAR.

This weekend, when British fans will flock to Silverstone for their home Grand Prix and the hope of seeing McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button challenging for victory, Villeneuve will focus on something else.

"I don't watch the races any more. I'm done, for the first time ever," he said at the Williams factory, where his former employers trumpeted a new engine deal with Renault – the company that powered the Canadian to his 1997 title triumph.

"I just can't be bothered. Halfway through the race I'm yawning and its really tough ... and I just get upset," he added.

"When I see these guys not even being able to defend, like Michael (Schumacher) – he should have been on the podium in Montreal."

Former Indy 500 winner Villeneuve has been competing most recently in the NASCAR nationwide series with Penske Racing and he enthused about the experience.

"It's so much fun. It reminds me of why I got into racing in the first place," he said. "You get in the car and you are there to do your race and nothing will get in the way of that, not regulations, nothing.

"It's amazing. It's human against human, beast against beast. It's great. You can muscle your way through, you can work around problems, I love it."

The big problem with Formula One, the bespectacled Canadian said, was overtaking. Not the lack of it but too much thanks to the DRS (drag reduction system or adjustable rear wing) which has introduced a new element this season.

Villeneuve said DRS should never have been allowed.

"I prefer to see Lewis going for it and sometimes it ends in tears but at least it's fun. All the other overtaking with the DRS, I'm just falling asleep ... useless, boring, it's not even racing."

Villeneuve was defensive of Hamilton, who has repeatedly fallen foul of stewards this season after controversial collisions.

"F1 is giving penalties for people making mistakes instead of for people driving dirty," he said, his comments perhaps reflecting a lack of recent viewing.

"And that is wrong. Mistakes happen. You run into each other, that's life, that's racing and too bad.

"Then you see a lot of weaving and nasty stuff happening and there's no penalties for that. That's where it's wrong." — Reuters

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Djokovic’s win has inspired Murray to break his Grand Slam duck

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 05:34 PM PDT

LONDON: Britain's Andy Murray is taking heart from the performance of newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic as he bids to break his Grand Slam duck.

Djokovic won his second major title of the year, and the third of his career, when he beat defending champion Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final on Sunday.

Murray has reached three finals and four semi-finals but is still searching for his first major – something no British man has achieved since Fred Perry won the last of his eight titles in 1936.

The 24-year-old Murray won the first set of his Wimbledon semi-final against Nadal last week, only to end the match well beaten.

But the Scot still believes one of the four majors – the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open – is within his grasp.

"I know it's possible, just look at Novak Djokovic," Murray wrote in his BBC website column on Monday.

"I remember watching Novak lose in the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year against Tomas Berdych and then a tough match against Rafa in the US Open final.

"He's obviously improved a lot since then. That's something I need to look at and try to replicate.

"I'm 24. Right now, this age is pretty much the time I'm going to be at my peak in terms of fitness and strength, so I need to sit down with my team and get the priorities sorted in terms of my game and my training."

Murray will compete for Britain in a Davis Cup tie against Luxembourg in Glasgow later this week.

He will then travel to his training base in Miami ahead of the hard-court season and lead-up to the US Open, which begins in New York on August 29. — AFP

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Meanwhile, elsewhere online

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 02:14 AM PDT

DAVID Lender has wanted to be a writer since college. Now, after a 25-year career in finance, he's become a top-selling author of novels going for 99 US cents each on Amazon Inc's Kindle and Barnes & Noble Inc's Nook.

Lender, who majored in English at the University of Connecticut, outlined his stories on planes and in cars during his work in mergers and acquisitions at Bank of America Corp and other Wall Street jobs. The result is three self-published tales of suspense set in the financial world that became bestsellers in the thriller category of Amazon's electronic bookstore.

Lender is an example of how new authors are capitalising on the popularity of electronic books to break into the business without a publisher's backing. Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old author of vampire books such as My Blood Approves, sold about a million e-books on her own before signing a US$2mil (RM6.12mil) deal this year with St Martin's Press, part of Macmillan Group.

E-book sales hit US$441.3mil (RM1.35bil) last year from US$61.3mil (RM187mil) two years earlier, according to the Association of American Publishers. The popularity of e-books gives self-published authors like Lender access to wide readership and saves on publishing costs.

Lender, 58, released his first thriller, Trojan Horse, on the Kindle and the Nook in January for US$9.99 (RM30.50). When sales were dismal, he researched the price points of other independent publishers and settled on 99 cents. The e-book took off.

For independent publishers like Lender, the growing number of e-readers in the hands of consumers is a promising first step. Lender believes paper books won't disappear, and he also put out his novels in print, including his latest, Bull Street, in paperback through Brindle Publishing. His e-books still comprise more than 95% of his sales.

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Poetic possibilities

Posted: 04 Jul 2011 04:15 PM PDT

Could there be a deeper and richer reading experience than just reading a book?

T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land app
Publisher: Touch Press/Faber & Faber

NOTORIOUSLY difficult to understand but once encountered never forgotten, T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land is one of the benchmarks of 20th century literature and possibly the greatest poem of its time.

Its difficulty on a first encounter lies at least partly in the fractured nature of the verse, the multiple voices that switch from one to another without any authorial signalling, and its systematic ignoring of the normal rules of narrative.

Students' reactions on first reading the poem tend to be blank incomprehension. But then, ah then, those rhythms and that phrasing sink into the brain and the heart and never come out again. I can think of few poems that have the grip on the reader that The Waste Land exerts and if you still end up unclear about the precise details of what Eliot was getting at – well, you have a pretty good grasp of the drift of the thing.

Poet/editor Ezra Pound's contribution to what we now know as The Waste Land was profound and is well documented. Many years ago, British publishers Faber & Faber released a facsimile transcript showing his comments and crossings out and he is frequently referred to, rightly or wrongly, as the architect of the poem. Those amendments and alterations are included in the app and can be seen alongside the final version of the poem. There are hours of interest here in examining just what Pound left in and took out.

So far, so good then. But the poem and the transcript have been published already and most of what I have described is accessible in conventional print media. The big question here is why an app? What does an app offer a poem that the book form does not? Why did Touch Press and Faber go to the enormous time (two years in the making) and trouble of marketing a poem through a medium we normally associate with games and short, neatly packaged pieces of information? If the medium is the message, what is the medium telling us?

Well, in short, the medium is telling us that this is an incredibly rich way of presenting a poem. Of course you get the text, both of the poem and of Pound's alterations. But that is just the beginning.

Put the text on your screen, tap the loudspeaker symbol at the bottom and you can hear it read by Eliot himself (two readings, one recorded in 1933 and the other in 1947), by actors like Sir Alec Guinness, Ted Hughes, Viggo Mortensen and Fiona Shaw.

You can also toggle between them, which provokes far more interest and fascination than I can easily describe. Put Eliot's austerity and formality beside Shaw's much more fluid and colloquial performance and the words take on new weight and meaning in the most beguiling way. Should you need a little help with any individual lines or phrases, move your iPad from vertical to horizontal screen and helpful and extensive notes will appear on the left hand side.

A separate section called Perspectives offers short films of Shaw, Seamus Heaney, Paul Keegan, Jim McCue, Craig Raine, Jeanette Winterson and ex-punk rocker Frank Turner talking about the poem's history, meaning and qualities.

Winterson takes on the issue of Eliot being difficult, while Turner links Eliot to Bob Dylan. Once again, this is a well-chosen and enlightening collection of short films that cannot help but illuminate the poem to a wide range of readers.

A star contribution, however, is the performance of the text by Shaw. In an old and run down house in Dublin, Shaw performs the poem seated by a fire in a beautifully appropriate once-grand room with no carpets and peeling paint. The Irish lilt to her voice took me back instantly to Samuel Beckett in a sharp reminder once again that this poem was for many THE voice of the 20th century angst and fracture that followed World War I. Eliot's rhythms are simply impossible to avoid in any serious look at literature since The Waste Land.

The decision to publish The Waste Land as an app, a piece of publishing madness or inspiration if ever there was one, is triumphantly vindicated and it is difficult to believe that this is not the start of a new trend.

Poetry lends itself particularly well to a wealth of supporting material and as Faber has writers of the calibre of Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes and W. H. Auden on its list, one can only hope that further treats are in store.

Faber's partners in this enterprise are Touch Press who have clear ideas about what they are trying to achieve, as they stated in their press release: "Our goal is to create a new kind of book that makes use of emerging consumer platforms such as the iPad, as well as the latest computation capabilities and high performance visual media. We believe that we now have the capability to redefine the book, reinvent publishing, and forever transform the act of reading."

In the case of The Waste Land app, they have succeeded in creating a reading experience that is both deeper and richer than the original book form.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Syabas ordered to pay RM20,000 to lawyer, Harakah

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 05:15 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here Tuesday ordered Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) to pay RM20,000 to a Selangor government lawyer after rejecting the company's application to cite her for contempt of court.

Justice Mohd Arif Mohd Yusof made the decision after finding that the lawyer, Fahda Nur Ahmad Kamar, who represented the Selangor government in a civil suit filed by Syabas, only made a statement on the increase in water tariff at a closed-door function.

He said Fahda Nur's statement was not reported by other media, except Harakah, and the publication was only circulated to members.

Mohd Arif also ordered Syabas to pay RM20,000 to the Harakah editor.

Syabas had filed an application to cite Fahda Nur over her statement which was then published by Harakah on Dec 7, 2010 in an article "SAR bantu kempen bantah kenaikan tariff air" (Religious schools help in campaign against a hike in tariff rate).

Fahda Nur was represented by lawyers Tommy Thomas and Mohd Yusmadi Yusoff, while Syabas was represented by lawyer Max Leong and Harakah by lawyer from the legal firm of Mohd Hanipa Maidin. - Bernama

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Weapons, explosives found in city centre

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 04:23 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Police are combing the city for hidden caches of weapons and explosives after the discovery of molotov cocktails, machetes, and firecrackers stashed around the city centre.

The discovery of surgical face masks and Bersih 2.0 T-shirts along with the weapons has let police to believe that these were secret stockpiles to be used during the proposed July 9 rally.

Acting city police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Amar Singh said there was a possibility of more such caches throughout the city.

"We are using everything at our disposal including our K9 unit to look for these dangerous weapons and explosives," he said during a press conference at the city police headquarters here Tuesday.

SAC Amar Singh said police have so far found eight molotov cocktails, over 40 'mercun bola' firecrackers, three machetes, a knife, a saw, eight surgical face masks and four Bersih 2.0 t-shirts from three locations.

"All three caches were within 150m of each other and stashed there by the same group of people," he said.

The stockpiles were discovered after two vendors near a shopping mall at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman spotted three masked men in a silver Proton Waja acting suspiciously at 4.30am Monday.

SAC Amar Singh said police were currently studying CCTV footage and eye-witness accounts to determine the identity of the men.

Asked if the caches were hidden there by anti-Bersih groups to frame Bersih, he said police would investigate all angles.

"We will also be calling in Bersih 2.0 organisers to assist in the investigations," he said.

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Govt plans to engage with hackers

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 03:50 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: The Government plans to engage with cyber hackers to understand them better and put their skill to good use, Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof said Tuesday.

It planned attending their annual conferences of cyber hackers who, he said, "should not be looked at only negatively".

"CyberSecurity, the National Security Council, police and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission must be with them so that we can get to know a bigger networking circle among the hackers," he told reporters here.

The Government would be better able to distinguish between good and bad hackers and also "learn... how to defend ourselves," he added after opening a seminar on legal and technical aspects of cyber crime.

The three-day seminar is organised by the Attorney-General's Chambers in collaboration with CyberSecurity Malaysia.

Meanwhile, CyberSecurity Chief Executive Officer Lt Col Datuk Husin Jazri said there were lessons learnt from the recent cyber hacking incident.

He said there was need to engage with young people who possess hacking talent.

"Sometimes these young people are not happy with certain issues or action and resort to hacking. We need to engage with them so that we can turn them around to channel their dissatisfaction and grievances in a positive way," he said. - Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Dan Radcliffe: I was reliant on alcohol

Posted: 04 Jul 2011 08:49 PM PDT

LONDON (Reuters): Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has revealed that he was so worried about his drinking that he vowed to give it up, and he has become teetotal.

The 21-year-old actor told GQ magazine that his life went off the rails for a time when he turned 18 and was filming Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince.

``I became so reliant on (alcohol) to enjoy stuff,'' he said in an interview to be published in GQ's August edition. ``There were a few years there when I was just so enamored with the idea of living some sort of famous person's lifestyle that really isn't suited to me.''

Radcliffe says he was fortunate that the paparazzi never captured his worst behavior.

``I really got away with that because there were many instances when a shot like that could have been taken,'' he added.

Radcliffe, who says he has not touched a drop of alcohol since August last year, admitted that he would love to be a person that goes to parties and has a couple of drinks but that just doesn't work for him.

``I do that very unsuccessfully. I'd just rather sit at home and read, or talk to somebody that makes me laugh,'' he added. ``There's no shame in enjoying the quiet life.''

Radcliffe was just nine when he was picked to star in the Harry Potter film series and, according to British press reports, has amassed a fortune of around 45 million pounds (US$72 million).

The final Potter film, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II has its premiere in London on Thursday and will hit the theatres in Malaysia on July 14.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Haze hazard a risk to residents and motorists

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 04:20 AM PDT

Residents in Bandar Puteri, Klang, have had to put up with the haze caused by open burning in the surrounding areas.

The problem is getting more serious and it is time that the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) take effective action against those responsible for it.

At times, the smoke is so dense that it poses a serious risk to motorists who cannot see oncoming vehicles.

Serious accidents are bound to happen if the MPK ignores this problem. Children and ashmatics are also at risk if they inhale the pungent smoke. Many are forced to stay indoors to avoid any health complications.

It is also time that property developers and land owners in the surrounding areas are summoned by the DOE and MPK to keep the hazard in check. Only through effective enforcement can this problem be overcome for the well-being of the residents.

Affected resident
Bandar Puteri Klang

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New Shah Alam mayor must make cleanliness his priority

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 04:20 AM PDT

Residents of Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh, (Section U19) are very hopeful that the new Shah Alam mayor would usher in a programme of progress and development for the area which is in dire need of better infrastructure.

Cleanliness needs to become a top priority for MBSA and Alam Flora contractors should be closely monitored to ensure that villages are kept in sanitary conditions.

Errant residents breaking municipal rules should face punitive action and this is the only way to change the situation for the better.

The food court, football field, market and the public hall need to be upgraded for a better and cleaner outlook.

Although a large number of street lights have been installed recently, the lamps are not placed at an equal distance and many residents feel the need for more lights in darker areas.

The MBSA should oblige to avert complaints from residents on this problem.

The village should be included under the clean zone programme of the Selangor Government and more activities by the MBSA should be held for the local residents.

Now that the sub-district police station has been completed, the area will be better policed and get better security.

However the new police station lacks street lights in front and this should be rectified by the Building Contractor.

There is an urgent need to upgrade Jalan Welfare, Jalan Kampung and Jalan Baru in line with the increased volume of traffic.

Many of the roads in the industrial area are in a very sorry state and this has been a major hindrance to attracting more investors for the small- and medium-sized industries.

Some of the dirt roads in the village need to be paved especially the road linking Jalan Welfare and Jalan Baru that could ease congestion on both roads.

Shah Alam

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Metro Watch

Posted: 04 Jul 2011 04:32 PM PDT

Centre relocation

The Salvation Army's Hopehaven Centre for Special Children in Malacca has been relocated to its former premises at No.321, Jalan Parameswara (opposite Banda Hilir jail). It is also expanding its Early Intervention Programme and Sheltered Employment Programme. For details, contact Sarala Gopi at 06-288 2693 / 283 2101.

Sign language

Those wishing to learn sign language can attend classes organised by Johor Deaf Association at Johor Communication Centre, 64-01, Larkin Perdana 3, Taman Larkin Perdana, every weekend from 2pm to 4pm. For details, call 07-234 9925 (office hours) or 019-732 5100.

Line dancing

Kwang Siew Wai Kuan, Johor Baru holds line dance classes every Thursday from 8pm to 10pm at its activity centre in Permas Jaya, Johor Baru. For details, call Elaine at 012-704 3363 or e-mail

Used items

Woman Integration Shoppe in Kuantan is open daily from 9am to 5pm for the public to donate used items or buy them. The shop is in Taman Mahkota Putra, Bandar Indera Mahkota. For details, call Razilah at 09-572 9666.

Recycling day

Tzu Chi Malacca will hold a Community Recycling Day on the third Sunday of the month from 8am to 10am in several housing areas. For details, callTzu Chi Malacca at 06-281 0818.

Free yoga

Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam Temple at Jalan Kuil in Johor Baru organises free yoga classes every Tuesday at the temple hall between 7.30pm and 9pm. For details, call 07-223 3989.

YWCA class

YWCA of Malacca is conducting computer classes at its premises in 547-A, Taman Aman, Ujong Pasir, Malacca. Programmes are conducted in English and Mandarin daily (except Sundays)from 10am to 9.30pm. For details, call Gerardine (016-642 4982) or Christine (013-206 5685).

Line-dancing classes

Johor Baru Senior Citizens Association conducts Line Dancing Classes every Friday from 2.30pm to 4.30pm at its premises at JKR583, Jalan Petrie, Johor Baru. Fee: RM17 monthly. For details, call Chee Chwee Kim at 016-717 4345.

Council branch

Malacca Historic City Council (MBMB) has opened a new branch at Lot 99 & 100, Zon C, Bazar Kraftangan in Dataran Pahlawan Megamall. Services available include assessment collection, licence and building permit application and city council rentals. For details, call 06-232 6411.

Public speaking

The Malacca Toastmasters Club is offering opportunities to improve public speaking to members of the public every first and third Thursday of the month at Semabok Inn from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. For details, call 019-665 7288 (Melvin) or 012-637 5476 (Henry).

Free yoga classes

Yogi Hub in Taman Nusa Bestari, Johor Baru, will hold free yoga classes every Tuesday. For appointments, call 012-727 7768 / 016-736 3911 or visit

MPK opens counters

Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK) has opened counters and gazebos at car parks and public spaces all over Kuantan town for the public to make complaints or enquiries. Its hotlines 09-512 1555 / 1666 are operational after office hours up to 11pm on weekends and public holidays. To follow up on complaints, contact the Complaints Unit at MPK headquarters.

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MPPG: Expand boundary to be a city

Posted: 04 Jul 2011 04:32 PM PDT

PASIR GUDANG: The local municipal here hopes to achieve a city status by 2015 — in line with its status as one of the five flagship development zones in Iskandar Malaysia.

Pasir Gudang Municipal Council (MPPG) president A. Rahim Nin said to achieve this, the council is looking to expand its boundaries and incorporate Bandar Seri Alam into its jurisdiction.

"The Johor government is currently in the process of reviewing the boundaries of all local councils in Johor, and we have proposed that they consider placing Seri Alam under MPPG if the boundary lines are redelineated," he said.

Rahim added that with Bandar Seri Alam as part of the council, it would be a positive step towards fulfilling the necessary criteria of becoming a city.

He said that the population of the Pasir Gudang is around 200,000 and the inclusion of Bandar Seri Alam is expected to increase the number to 500,000 over the next five years.

"In terms of facilities with the inclusion of Bandar Seri Alam, Pasir Gudang will have a district police headquarters, which its currently without," he said at a ceremony to commemorate MPPG's one-year anniversary.

Rahim added that it is more practical to include Bandar Seri Alam in Pasir Gudang's jurisdiction as many residents there had requested the council to provide services.

Most of them who reside there are unaware that their neighbourhood is not a part of MPPG.

On a separate note, Rahim said the council had also submitted a request to the public services department to restructure its organization and increase the number of positions within MPPG from more than 300 to over 500.

He added that the council also hoped that a proposed sale of the Pasir Gudang Complex building (initially due to cash flow problems), would be cancelled as the council's revenue had improved.

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Lack of parking lots at CIQ complex for staff

Posted: 04 Jul 2011 04:32 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The lack of parking lots at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in Bukit Chagar had forced government staff stationed there to park their vehicles elsewhere.

Peninsular Malaysia Customs Officers Union president Ibrahim Ahmad said since the Customs officers had moved to the complex from the Tanjung Puteri Lorry Customs Complex, many of them faced difficulties in finding parking spots.

"There are 600 customs officers at the CIQ, but we are only allocated 200 parking lots inside the complex," he said.

Ibrahim added that the 200 lots were reserved for senior officers while the rank and file personnel were left to their own devices to park their vehicles.

He added that Customs staff could not park their cars along Jalan Jim Quee near to the complex either, as they would be issued summonses by the traffic police or Johor Baru City Council (MBJB).

"We do not blame them because they are merely carrying out their duties but the alternative is to park our cars near Jalan Meldrum, which is far away from the complex," Ibrahim said.

He added that apart from the distance of the nearest parking facility, the staff are also worried about their vehicles, it is expensive to park there with fees as high as RM10 daily.

Ibrahim said that although the department provided bus services for their staff, many of them could not utilise this service due to them not being able to follow the bus schedule for various reasons, such as having to ferry their children to and from school.

"The relevant authorities should provide sufficient parking lots at the complex, or perhaps we could be reimbursed by our respective departments for our parking expenses," he said.

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