Ahad, 10 Julai 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: World Updates

Syrian opposition boycotts talks with government

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 12:09 PM PDT

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's main opposition groups boycotted talks with the government on Sunday and said they will not negotiate till President Bashar al-Assad stops the violent suppression of protests and frees thousands of political prisoners.

Representatives of artists and independent groups take part in a two-day national dialogue in Damascus July 10, 2011. Syria's main opposition groups boycotted talks with the government on Sunday and said they will not negotiate till President Assad stops the violent suppression of protests and frees political prisoners. (REUTERS/Sana/Handout)

Even many of the moderate intellectuals, independent parliamentarians and minor opposition figures who did attend the conference aimed at setting the framework for national dialogue were scathing in their criticism of the government crackdown.

Rights groups say more than 1,300 civilians have been killed and 12,000 people have been arrested since the start of demonstrations demanding more freedom began in March.

"How can I go to the conference when friends of mine are still in prison? People who should be with us in the conference are in prison," said prominent opposition figure Fayez Sara.

"They did not prepare the background for dialogue. The killings, crackdown and arrests did not stop so why should we go," said Sara, who was arrested during the uprising.

Authorities say more than 500 soldiers and police have been killed in clashes which they say were provoked by Islamist militant groups.

Assad has responded to the protests with a mixture of force and promises of reforms. He has sent troops and tanks into cities and towns to crush protests, but has also taken steps toward reform, including granting citizenship to some ethnic Kurds, lifting a draconian state of emergency, freeing hundreds of prisoners and calling for a national dialogue.

"At this time there is no alternative to dialogue. (The alternative) is bloodshed, economic bleeding and self destruction," Vice President Farouq al-Shara told more than 200 participants at the conference which was broadcast live on Syrian television.

"National dialogue should continue and on all levels ... in order to turn the page on the past and open a new page in the history of Syria," he said.

Some of those at the meeting called for an immediate abolition of Article Eight of the constitution which puts the Baath Party at the centre of Syrian politics and society.

"The way out is by putting an end to the security state ... and to work for a civil and democratic country where there is political pluralism and media freedom and to end the one-party rule," Mohammad Habash, an independent member of parliament, told the meeting.

"Confronting protests with bullets is not acceptable at all," he said.

Syrian authorities question the motives of some of the opposition and believe they are seeking help from the West to topple Assad while most opposition groups question the seriousness of the authorities' call for dialogue.

Western governments have condemned Assad's violence against protesters, but their practical response has so far been limited to sanctions against top officials, far short of the military intervention against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

Syria summoned the ambassadors of the United States and France on Sunday to object to their visit to the restive city of Hama without clearance from the authorities last week, the state news agency SANA said.

It quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying the visit of the U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and France's Ambassador Eric Chevallier to Hama was "clear evidence of the American and French intervention in Syria's internal affairs and confirms that there is external support for (protests)".

The U.S. State Department said Ford toured Hama to show solidarity with residents facing a security crackdown after weeks of escalating protests against Assad, but rejected Syria's accusations that he sought to incite protests.

The Baath Party has ruled Syria since it took power in a coup in 1963. Bashar's father, President Hafez al-Assad, ruled the country with for more than 30 years, crushing all opposition.

(Additional reporting by Laila Bassam; Writing by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Sudan's smooth separation masks a messy divorce

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 12:09 PM PDT

JUBA/KHARTOUM (Reuters) - North and South Sudanese awoke in separate nations on Sunday, relieved at the ease of the split but no closer to solving rows over borders, oil sharing and other issues that may yet spark conflict.

A tribeswoman dances during the Independence Day celebrations in Juba July 9, 2011. North and South Sudanese awoke in separate nations on Sunday, relieved at the ease of the split but no closer to solving rows over borders, oil sharing and other issues that may yet spark conflict. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)

Even within the new boundaries, challenges abound. The north, with its restive rebels, must rapidly plug a gap left by losing most oil resources to the south. The south has to build almost from scratch a nation that is riven by tribal violence.

The creation of the Republic of South Sudan on Saturday, the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of war between north and south, went remarkably smoothly.

Under the surface, though, the crowds were actually watching a messy divorce -- one where the two parties had not reached a proper legal settlement before going their separate ways.

John Prendergast, of the Enough Project, said the ceremony itself was secondary. "I think the relevant question is when are they going to make the comprehensive deal on oil revenues and where the border is. Everything else is window-dressing."

On the day itself, the countries put on a good show. South Sudan President Salva Kiir stood side by side in the southern capital Juba with his old foe, the President of Sudan Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and both made friendly speeches.

The cracks showed seconds after the northern president's address, when a lone voice in the crowd shouted "Bye, bye".

It was impossible to miss the bitterness left by years of war that hints at the acrimony likely to plague future negotiations.

"Any sharing a country with Arabs or Muslims is like sharing a country with devils," said southerner Simon, 34. Another's T-shirt read: "I've got 99 problems but Bashir ain't one."

As the celebrations mounted in South Sudan, mediators from the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan quietly issued a six-page document, publishing a list of the agreements so far, and what they still needed to settle.

It was remarkably short of dates and deadlines.

The two sides need to agree who owns the disputed Abyei area, mark out their border, move their forces outside a demilitarized border zone, work out how the south will pay the north to transport oil through northern pipelines, share out the waters of the Nile and prepare for a new currency in the south.

"Trying to work through outstanding disagreements, many of them already violent, will require difficult negotiations, political savvy, and carefully considered international engagement," wrote the International Crisis Group's Louise Arbour in the International Herald Tribune.

"At this point, the signs do not look particularly good."


Both sides also awoke to face their own problems.

In Khartoum, those include a loss of oil revenues, surging inflation, international isolation, insurgencies, infighting in the ruling National Congress Party and International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants for Bashir and other officials.

Sudan's goodwill towards South Sudan may be short-lived if Washington fails to keep its promise to take Khartoum off its list of state sponsors of terrorism as a reward for recognising the south and other progress.

In his speech in Juba, Bashir urged the United States to lift sanctions. Instead, he was met with calls for more work.

"By continuing on the path of peace, the government of Sudan can redefine its relationship with the international community and secure a more prosperous future for its people," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.

If it feels betrayed by the United States, Bashir's administration, which once hosted Osama bin Laden, may turn its back on the West, strengthening ties with Palestinian group Hamas and with Iran.

In South Sudan, Juba will face its own internal battles against corruption, a mushrooming public sector it can ill afford, poverty, warring tribes, renegade militia leaders, raids by the vicious Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army and an economy that produces next to nothing except oil.

Kiir acknowledged the challenges in his first speech as the new president, saying South Sudan was at the "tail end" of development scales. "From today onwards we shall have no excuse or scapegoats to blame," he told southerners.


Up to now, the actions of the leaders from the north and south have been governed by two main tactics. Neither encourages confidence for the coming talks or the stability of their nations which straddle the Arab world and Sub-Saharan Africa.

First there is the tactic of postponement.

Difficult settlements are put off, letting the cost of the disputes in terms of human lives and development mount while leaders get on with the day-by-day business of staying in power.

This has sometimes drawn in external players, African or the Western, but that has not guaranteed a solution in the past.

Sudan's eight-year Darfur conflict festers despite the presence of one of the world's biggest peacekeeping missions.

Second, there is the ploy of escalation, by politicians or the military, in a bid to draw concessions and then win credit by promising to calm a situation they ignited.

Analysts point to the north's seizure of Abyei weeks before the separation that was provoked by a southern attack.

The south won kudos for not being drawn further into conflict. The north got credit when it agreed to pull back, to make way for Ethiopian peacekeepers, days later.

Both tactics go a long way to explaining the overriding theme of internal Sudanese politics, at least in recent years. Plenty of drama with little political change. The 2005 deal was a rare exception but the main actors have stayed the same.

Bashir has been in power since 1989. Kiir became president of the autonomous south when his predecessor, John Garang, was killed in a helicopter crash in 2005. Before that he was a top officer in the southern rebel army.

For years, both sides traded accusations. That will likely continue in the months or years ahead, this time from across the border. Each may choose to continue scapegoating the other, swapping charges to explain the failures at home.

The people of the Republic of Sudan in the north and the new Republic of South Sudan may be hoping their leaders can come up with some new strategies.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dziadosz in Juba; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Eight dead in Yemen as U.S. envoy presses Saleh to go

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 11:37 AM PDT

SANAA (Reuters) - Eight people were killed in southern Yemen in two separate incidents on Sunday as U.S. President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism official met President Ali Abdullah Saleh to urge him to hand over power quickly.

Four militants and one soldier were killed in a clash in the town of Zinjibar in Abyan province, the September 26 government website said, without giving details.

Anti-government protesters march demanding the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz July 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)

In the city of Taiz, three civilians were killed early on Sunday when the Yemeni presidential guard shelled a house belonging to an anti-Saleh tribal chief, a medical source said.

Residents of the main southern city of Aden also reported clashes between security forces and militants.

In Riyadh, U.S. envoy Brennan brought a message from Obama to Saleh, who is recovering from serious injuries sustained in an attack on his presidential compound last month.

The United States until recently backed Saleh as a bulwark against regional instability and in particular against al Qaeda, whose active Yemeni cell said it was responsible for bombs put into U.S.-bound air freight last year.

But it has now made clear it thinks he should yield to a six-month-old popular uprising against his 33-year-rule.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement that Brennan called on Saleh quickly to fulfil a pledge to sign a Gulf-brokered deal for a peaceful handover.

"Mr. Brennan emphasized the importance of resolving the political crisis in Sanaa so that the Yemeni government and people can successfully confront the serious challenges they face, including the terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which have claimed the lives of hundreds of Yemeni citizens," Carney said.

He said Brennan had told Saleh that the United States was working closely with Yemen's allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Europe, and elsewhere to ensure that much-needed assistance would flow to Yemen as soon as the GCC proposal was signed and implemented.

The Yemeni government has said militants are taking advantage of Saleh's absence to step up operations in Abyan.

But opposition parties say the government has reduced security in Abyan to allow militants more sway and thus back up Saleh's argument that al Qaeda will gain a bigger foothold in Yemen if he is pushed out.

Also on Sunday, plainclothes police shot live bullets at hundreds of protesters demanding an end to Saleh's rule at the Red Sea port of Hudaida, activists and residents said.

At least 100 people were admitted to a local hospital, a medical source said. The police also fired tear gas grenades and attacked demonstrators with knives and clubs, witnesses said.

Human Rights Watch has accused the military of killing dozens of civilians in unlawful attacks while fighting militants.

In recent months, militants have seized two cities in Abyan, including its capital, Zinjibar.

Some 54,000 Yemenis have fled Abyan since then, a government official said this month.

In a recorded video aired on state television on Thursday, Saleh was defiant, saying he would "confront a challenge with a challenge".

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf and Mohammed Sudam; Writing by Nour Merza and Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Business

IMF chief calls on US to raise borrowing limit

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 05:42 PM PDT

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund's new chief foresees "real nasty consequences" for the U.S. and global economies if the U.S. fails to raise its borrowing limit.

Christine Lagarde, the first woman to head the global lending institution, said in an interview broadcast Sunday that it would cause interest rates to rise and stock markets to fall. That would threaten an important IMF goal, which is preserving stability in the world economy, she said.

The U.S. borrowing limit is $14.3 trillion. Obama administration officials say the U.S. would begin to default without an agreement by Aug. 2.

Lagarde, who took over as managing director on July 5, also addressed the fallout stemming from the sexual assault charges filed against her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Strauss-Kahn resigned in May after he was accused of attacking a hotel maid in New York City. He has denied the charges. New York prosecutors have admitted in recent weeks that their case has weakened and that the accuser has lied about many aspects of her background.

Lagarde, a former French finance minister, told ABC television's "This Week" that the scandal caused "a very strange chemistry of frustration, irritation, sometimes anger, sometimes very deep sadness" among the IMF's 2,500 employees.

Lagarde said she would be on her "best behavior all the time."

"When it comes to ethics and whatever I do, I always think to myself, would my mother approve of that," she said. "And if she did not, then there's something wrong."

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders from both parties planned to meet Sunday evening at the White House to resume negotiations on a debt deal.

House Speaker John Boehner said Saturday that the talks should aim to reduce the deficit by about $2 trillion over 10 years. That's about half the size of a more ambitious deal that Obama floated last week.

Republicans are insisting on deep spending cuts as a condition of voting in favor of raising the debt ceiling. Obama and congressional Democrats are insisting that more tax revenue should be part of the mix.

Lagarde did not address the European debt crisis or the IMF's recent aid to Greece. On Friday, the IMF's board approved a $4.2 billion loan to Greece, the latest installment of a bailout package intended to prevent the struggling nation from defaulting on its debt.

The IMF has 187 member nations and lends money to countries with troubled finances. - AP

Latest business news from AP-Wire

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Geithner says hard times to continue for many

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 05:34 PM PDT

WASHINGTON: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says many Americans will face hard times for a long time to come.

He says President Barack Obama rescued the United States from a second Great Depression and will keep working to strengthen the economy. But Geithner says it will be some time before many people feel like the country is recovering.

Geithner tells NBC television's "Meet the Press" that it's a very tough economy. He says that for a lot of people "it's going to feel very hard, harder than anything they've experienced in their lifetime now, for a long time to come." - AP

Latest business news from AP-Wire

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Swatch from famous moon-bound flag goes to auction

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 05:18 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: It was one small step for man. Now one small strip from the famed flag planted on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission is set to go to auction.

"This is the most-viewed flag in American history," said Michael Orenstein, whose west Los Angeles auction house is handling the Sunday sale that features a piece of fabric shorn from the banner as it was being prepared for the world's first lunar landing.

Other items on the block include one of the Collier trophies - the so-called Oscars of aviation - that was awarded to the crew of 1962's Mercury 7 mission and a three-ring notebook used by "Deke" Slayton as he trained to be one of the space program's first astronauts.

But Orenstein said the sale's gem is the seven-inch (18-centimeter) strip of red and white fabric being auctioned along with a photo bearing Neil Armstrong's autograph on consignment by Tom Moser, the retired NASA engineer who was tasked with designing the moon-bound flag in the weeks before Apollo 11's 1969 launch.

"It's right up there with Betsy Ross and the Star Spangled Banner," Orenstein said.

NASA's original plans didn't involve planting a flag on the moon because of a United Nations treaty prohibiting nations from claiming celestial entities as their own, Moser said.

But after Congress slipped language into an appropriations bill authorizing the flag's placement as a non-territorial marker, Moser was told to design a flag that could survive the trip to the moon and be planted on its surface upon arrival.

With the spacecraft's tiny interior too cramped even for a rolled-up flag, Moser devised a way to fix an aluminum tube with a thermal liner for the banner on the outside of the vessel, he said.

NASA staff bought an American flag off the shelf of a nearby store and Moser had a hem sewn along its top, so a telescoping aluminum rod could be inserted to hold the banner out straight on the gravity-free moon. (On the moon, the rod didn't extend its full length; the consequent bunching is what makes the flag look like it's blowing in the wind.)

Meanwhile, a strip of fabric along the flag's left side was cut to remove a set of grommets, Moser said.

"It was put in the trash can and I just took it out and said, 'I'm going to keep that,'" he said.

Moser said he had Neil Armstrong sign a photo of the flag planted on the moon when the astronaut returned to Earth and he kept the picture and his rescued scrap of flag together in his NASA office until he retired in 1990.

But after hanging onto the photo and flag-swatch assemblage all these years, he finally decided to put them up for auction, although he said he'll miss owning what he sees as a piece of history.

Orenstein said he expects the flag remnant and photo to fetch $100,000 to $150,000 and possibly much more.

"How do you price something like this?" Orenstein said. "If people recognize it for what it is or appreciate it for what it is, it can just keep going up."

Some space scholars, however, appear unimpressed with the artifact.

Since the remnant itself was never launched, its connection to the moon-bound banner has little significance, said Louis Parker, exhibits manager at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

"That doesn't give it any more importance than any other piece of fabric that was here on Earth," he said.

But Moser insisted that the piece does indeed have value, since it represents the beginning of an era of space exploration that now has an uncertain future as the space shuttle makes its final voyage.

"The flag is the icon of the whole accomplishment of the United States being first to the moon and of a great accomplishment for mankind," he said. "Being part of that icon, it has a special meaning." - AP

Latest business news from AP-Wire

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Sports

Spain's Ferrer beats Fish to seal win over US

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 05:16 PM PDT

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - David Ferrer beat Mardy Fish 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-6 (5) to clinch a 3-1 victory for Spain over the United States in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Ferrer, who beat Andy Roddick on Friday night, fell backward when Fish's final shot sailed wide, then jumped into the arms of Spain captain Albert Costa. The win gave Spain, seeking a third Davis Cup title in four years, an insurmountable 3-1 lead and a spot in the semifinals against France.

Playing without world No. 2 Rafael Nadal, Spain went 3-0 in singles. Spain had to overcome a rowdy pro-American crowd to earn its first Davis Cup victory in the U.S. After Ferrer's victory, Sunday night's scheduled match between Roddick and Feliciano Lopez was canceled.

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Controversial American sprinter edges Chambers to win 100m gold

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 04:16 PM PDT

MADRID: Former Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, rebuilding a career shamed by a four-year doping ban, edged Britain's Dwain Chambers in the 100m at the Madrid meeting on Saturday.

US sprinter Gatlin clocked 10.10 to beat Chambers (10.13) with America's Travis Padgett (10.18) claiming third place.

Gatlin was suspended for four years after testing positive for testosterone just three months after equalling the world 100m record in 2006.

Ironically, Chambers also served a doping ban, in his case for two years in 2003.

"I'm just taking it step-by-step, race-by-race and every event I've been in has had good competition and that elevates me so I get to world championships. My goal is to get to that final," Gatlin said. "I'm staying focused, and it means a lot to me to reach them."

Gatlin's four-year suspension saw him plummet from sprinting's pinnacle to athletics wilderness, but he rebounded to make the US team for the 100m at the Aug 27-Sept 4 world championships in Daegu, South Korea.

His dope test failure in 2006 was considered a second offence, following a 2001 violation for a banned stimulant, resulting in a longer ban.

He has never admitted to knowingly using banned drugs, but he lost two appeals and failed in a legal battle to compete at the 2008 US Olympic trials for a chance to defend his Games gold in Beijing.

The Madrid meet, a world challenge level event, is one of the few the 29-year-old has been invited to race in Europe as the continent's top track and field officials have sought to exclude former drug cheats from major European one-day track events. The 12-year policy is up for discussion, however.

"I'm hearing different kind of news every day about being able to race at different races," Gatlin said.

"Right now, wherever they put me at - if they put me on the moon I'm gonna race on the moon."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Jamaica's Schillonie Calvert won the women's 100m in 11.23 ahead of American pair Barbara Pierre (11.28) and Tianna Madison (11.30).

In the men's 400m, Belgium's Kevin Borlee took victory in 44.74, the best European time of the season, ahead of Cuba's William Collazo (44.95).

America's Tyler Mulder won the 800m in a time of 1:45.10 ahead of Russia's Youri Borzakovsky (1:45.57), the 2004 Olympic champion, and Spain's Manuel Olmedo (1:45.67).

Americans swept the men's 110m hurdles with Tyrone Akins (13.45) leading home Joel Brown (13.49) and Jeff Porter (13.53). – Agencies

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

All bowlers except Siti Shazwani make the cut in San Marino

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 04:14 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's challenge in the San Marino Open bowling tournament continues in the knockout stages after all the bowlers, except for Siti Shazwani Ahmad Suhaimi, made the cut after the final qualifying rounds on Saturday.

With the best six-games total of 1,419 pinfalls managed on Friday, Esther Cheah was placed sixth, earning herself automatic qualification to the third elimination round, which was played late yesterday evening.

The top-six finishers go automatically to the third elimination round. The seventh to 12 finishers qualified for the second elimination round while the 13th to 48th finishers will take part in the first elimination round.

Esther, who is participating in her first international event in six months, showed no signs of rust in her game to be the only woman in the top-10 qualifiers for the knock-out stage in the mixed men and women event.

Brunswick Euro Challenge winner, Mohd Syafiq Ridhwan, was a rung below on 1,417 pinfalls and will advance to the second elimination round.

Accompanying Syafiq for the second elimination round are Adrian Ang and Jacqueline Jenelee Sijore who finished the qualifying rounds in 11th and 12th spots on 1,396 and 1,395 pinfalls respectively.

Meanwhile, Alex Liew (20th; 1,371 pins), Sharon Koh (26th; 1,366), Zulmazran Zulkifli (30th; 1,352), Zandra Aziela (31st; 1352) and Sin Li Jane (38th; 1,338) made the cut for the first elimination round.

Only 48 bowlers qualified for the elimination rounds.

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Angelic angst

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 01:35 AM PDT

Who can resist brooding fallen angels and an eternal romance?

ARE angels the new vampires? Judging by the buzz surrounding Lauren Kate's young adult (YA) fiction series Fallen, they might just overtake the pale ones in popularity.

But Kate's not bothered about beginning a new trend, she's reportedly said; she just wanted to tell a love story, and she wanted to tell it to teenagers.

In an interview with The Star's Stuff At School in September last year (Tormented creatures, Sept 29), she said, "I love how open teenagers are. Anything is possible and it sets up all these incredibly dramatic possibilities.

"I love writing about difficult situations but ending them on an ultimately happy note. I think that's that major thing separating YA books from adult books."

Kate, 30, is a Texan who went to school in Atlanta, Georgia, a city much imbued with Southern antebellum charm; it was this period in her life that supposedly inspired her to set Fallen in an American Civil War-era academy, the fictional Sword & Cross boarding school in Georgia.

Kate currently lives in California with her husband and "hopes to work in a restaurant kitchen and learn how to surf".

She's not home at the moment, though, since she's travelling the world to promote Passion, the latest book in the Fallen series. In fact, in that interview in September, she mentioned that she had never visited Malaysia and would talk to her publisher about it. She must have because Kate will be right here in Malaysia on Tuesday and Wednesday! (See details in the info box.)

For those of you who have yet to enter the darkly sexy world of Fallen, here's a brief introduction:

Fallen – With the wonderfully catchy tagline "some angels are destined to fall", the first book in the series immediately caught the attention of teens everywhere.

Luce Price's parents have packed her off to the strict reform school, Sword & Cross. This is a place where cell phones are forbidden, where cameras watch every move, where the other students are, well, screw-ups, basically.

But then there's Daniel Grigori. He's very different, and he catches Luce's attention right away – but it's attention that he doesn't want. Disdainful and aloof, he makes it very clear that he wants nothing to do with her, but Luce is like the proverbial moth fluttering around the flame. She's desperate to know: what is Daniel's big secret?

And then there's Cam. Charming, beautiful and very interested in Luce even though she doesn't give him the time of day at first.

And there's your classic love triangle – except that this triangle makes more than a few supernatural connections.

Torment – The two sworn enemies, Daniel and Cam, come to a truce so they can work together to protect Luce from the Outcasts, creepy, hollow immortals who want her as a pawn for their re-entry into heaven.

Luce, however, is shipped off to yet another boarding school, this time in San Francisco. It might be a fine school but as far as she's concerned, without Daniel there, it's "hell on earth", as the book's blurb puts it.

Left to fend for herself, she takes the time to learn more about her past and begins to suspect that Daniel has been hiding even more secrets from her than she thought. Luce begins to question their relationship and might even turn to someone other than Daniel.

Passion – The third book begins right where Torment left off with Luce taking matters into her own hand and deciding to embark on a journey through time to find out what it is exactly that has doomed her relationship with Daniel through many lifetimes over millennia.

But Luce isn't the only one hurtling through time. Chasing her desperately across the centuries is Daniel, seeking to prevent her from rewriting the long history that the two of them have together. And right on his toes is his rival, Cam, as well as those creepy Outcasts who intend to capture Luce because they believe she is the key to their salvation.

Will her time travels destroy everything between Daniel and herself – this time, perhaps permanently?

Kate is currently at work on the final book, Rapture. The movie adaptation of Fallen is slated for a 2012 release.

Meet Lauren Kate

SHE will be at the following locations, at these times:
July 12
3pm-4pm: Kinokuniya Bookstore, Suria KLCC 6pm-7pm: Popular@Ikano Power Centre, Mutiara Damansara, Selangor
July 13
10.30am-11.30am: MPH, Mid Valley Megamall, KL

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.


Posted: 10 Jul 2011 01:29 AM PDT

FOR week ending July 3, 2011:


1. A Doctor In The House: The Memoirs Of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

2. Chicken Soup For The Soul: Think Positive by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Amy Newmark

3. Quantum Leaps: 100 Scientists Who Changed The World by Jon Balchin

4. A World Without Islam by Graham E. Fuller

5. Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going by Han Fook Kwang et al

6. How To Start A Conversation And Make Friends by Don Gabor

7. The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

8. The Great War For Civilisation: The Conquest Of The Middle East by Robert Fisk

9. The Power by Rhonda Byrne

10. Brain Rules: 12 Principles For Surviving And Thriving At Work, Home, And School by John Medina


1. Transformers 3 (official novel) by Peter David

2. The Confession by John Grisham

3. The Single Girl's To-Do List by Lindsey Kelk

4. The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo

5. Fall Of Giants by Ken Follett

6. Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

7. The 9th Judgment by James Patterson

8. Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

9. The Heiress by Lynsay Sands

10. The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

> Weekly list compiled by MPH Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur; www.mphonline.com.

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Encouraging creative thought

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 04:47 PM PDT

ARE we all artists until we're taught that we're not? Do we need to be told what is good art? Is there such a thing as bad taste? Isn't it just about personal taste? These are questions I'm constantly asking myself in relation to art and the arts.

I don't think there are definitive answers to such questions, just different opinions and schools of thought. I do think that, like literature and music and all branches of the arts, visual art should be introduced to children from a very young age.

Being exposed to a wide variety of styles and genres helps us develop our own tastes and also to be more receptive to different ideas and representations of ideas. This is one area where more is definitely more, which is why I think The Malaysian Art Book For Children (Khazanah National, 79 pages, ISBN: 978-9834419370) is such a great idea.

When I was a child and teenager, growing up in small towns in Johor, art was what I saw in magazines, on calendars and mounted on wooden frames on the walls of our home. These days, with a (working) Internet connection, children can experience so much more. Many of the major museums of the world even have online virtual tours of their collections. And of course, a click of the mouse gives anyone access to a wealth of information about works of art as well as their creators.

However, as usual, there is less information available about local art and artists. In the first place, who do you search for? After all, Malaysian artists are not quite household names yet. What we (Malaysian adults as well as children) need is an introduction to Malaysian art, and that is what The Malaysian Art Book For Children provides.

Inspired by Phaidon's The Art Book For Children, our local version features 32 Malaysian contemporary artworks accompanied by questions and prompts that aim to get readers (whatever their age) thinking about the pieces, the subjects represented, the media used and lots more. There is also information about the artists and the art, including where they are displayed, the media used, and the year they were created.

First up is the iconic National Museum mural by Cheong Laitong. The chapter heading is the rather uninspired and uninspiring Have You Seen These Murals? but other chapters fare much better, with more enticing and intriguing headings, like Magical Triangles, Music In My Bones and Liquid Light.

However, although the text provides context and reveals interesting and novel ways of approaching and responding to the art, it is the artwork itself that is most beguiling. Many of the pieces chosen will certainly challenge conventional ideas of what art is.

A metal sculpture of a crowing rooster; cross-dressing family members in an otherwise traditionally composed portrait; photographs of concrete animals and plants arranged to resemble a surreal amusement park; three men in traditional masks standing with their backs to a vibrant blue sky.

These are some of the images presented to readers. And, if my own daughter's reaction is anything to go by, these works will certainly provoke many questions.

The section entitled Tops For Visiting Art Galleries at the end of the book indicates how the pieces were chosen: they depict subjects (eg animals) and have other attributes (eg bright colours) that are attractive to children.

"Busy" work seems to be a favourite as well – that is, pictures and installations in which there are lots of details. Young readers are urged to spot various objects in several of the pieces and my daughter really enjoyed this activity. The book also suggests how readers can create their own works of art based on the content, styles and media featured in it.

In my opinion, multiple copies of The Malaysian Art Book For Children should be ordered by every public and school library. I think it should also be made compulsory reading for all public school art teachers. It would be lovely if school field trips included visits to art galleries, but for children who live in towns with no public art, having access to this book would be a step towards encouraging creative thought and creative approaches to creative work.

Daphne Lee reads to wonder and wander, be amazed and amused, horrified and heartened and inspired and comforted. She wishes more people will try it too. Send e-mails to the above address and check out her blog at daphne.blogs.com/books.

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

True to the tale

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 01:52 AM PDT

When turning a book into a movie, there's intense debate on how closely an actor should mirror his book counterpart. And when the issue of race comes into the picture, things get touchy pretty quickly...

TOO blonde. Too old. Too tall. Too white. That's what fans were griping about when Jennifer Lawrence was cast in the movie adaptation of the popular young adult book, The Hunger Games. Lawrence, an actress who won an award for her role in indie movie Winter's Bone and recently seen as Mystique in X-Men: First Class, will play the main character, Katniss Everdeen, who takes her sister's place in a brutal gladiator-like contest where contestants fight to the death. In the book, the dark-haired, olive-skinned Katniss was 16 when she took part in "the Hunger Games". Lawrence is 22, pale and blonde.

"I'm going to say this again, but she's too old. The Hunger Games are kids killing kids! Not a bunch of 20-year-old gladiators running around killing each other!" protested Rin Aelius, one of the many fans at The Hunger Games Trilogy Fansite (http://bit.ly/fKR0fr).

But just how closely must actors mirror their book counterparts? Directors and producers have been wrestling with this issue for ages.

The award-winning sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) got off to a rocky start because they changed the characters' gender. Fans vehemently protested when Starbucks, originally played by Dirk Benedict in the original 1979 series, was turned into a woman (played by Katee Sackhoff). Lieutenant Boomer, originally an African-American character played Herbert Jefferson Jr, became Lt Sharon Valerii, played by Canadian-Korean actress Grace Park. However, what seemed like a disastrous casting move turned out to be a stroke of genius. With Starbucks and Boomer as women, it not only balanced out the formerly male-heavy cast but introduced two of TV-dom's most fascinating and strongest female characters.

But there's nothing more contentious than the issue of race.

Kenneth Branagh was refreshingly colour blind when he cast Denzel Washington as Don Pedro in his Shakespearean adaptation, Much Ado About Nothing. Several eyebrows shot up over Brannagh's choice, as the role of Don Pedro is traditionally given to a Caucasian. (Furthermore, Don Pedro's brother Don John was played by Keanu Reeves.) Nevertheless, many critics enjoyed Washington's contribution to the film and largely forgot that he was even African American.

Branagh did it again when he cast Idris Elba to play the Norse deity Heimdall in the summer blockbuster Thor. However, some fans protested that British actor was not the right guy to play a god that was described in Norse mythology as "the whitest of the gods".

Elba, who has a Ghanaian mother and Sierra Leonean father, said in an interview with TV Times: "There has been a big debate about it: can a black man play a Nordic character? Hang about, Thor's mythical, right? Thor has a hammer that flies to him when he clicks his fingers. That's okay, but the colour of my skin is wrong?"

Fans are even less forgiving when white actors play characters who were originally of ethnic origin. Accusations of "white washing" will almost certainly give a movie or television series unfavourable publicity.

There's M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, where white actors were cast to play characters who were originally Asians. The movie was based on a popular and critically-acclaimed cartoon series, which was heavily inspired by Asian cultures. For example, the people of the Water tribe, resemble the Inuits; the Fire Nation had Japanese influences; the Earth Kingdom is based on China and the Air Nomads are inspired by Tibetans. Fans were upset that these elements were not honoured and the roles not given to Asian actors.

The 2008 movie 21, is another case. Based on a true story about mostly Asian MIT students who used their mathematical skills to become top-notch casino gamblers, almost all the characters were played by white actors in the movie. According to organisation Media Action Network for Asian Americans, producer Dana Brunetti allegedly said: "Believe me, I would have loved to cast Asians in the lead roles, but the truth is, we didn't have access to any bankable Asian-American actors that we wanted."

The main contention with "white washing" is not just that the characters should be ethnically similar to the original characters but more about the discriminatory casting practices in Hollywood. Minority actors are considered not as bankable or have the same draw as Caucasian actors. Therefore, due to these practices, they are often sidelined and not given enough opportunities in Hollywood.

On the one hand, it's logical to assume that in certain movies, such as historical biopics, characters should be played by actors of the same ethnic origin for the sake of authenticity and realism.

Yet, on the other hand, it is refreshing not to be constricted by race and to allow actors to play roles that allow them to shine, no matter what their ethnic origin. One would love to be in a colour-blind world where actors are judged worthy of their role not by the colour of their skin, but by what they bring to the role. But is this realistic? What do you think – should race be an important factor in casting an actor? E-mail your thoughts to entertainment@thestar.com.my.

> Elizabeth Tai loved Idris Elba as Heimdall and wishes for a world where people will be judged for their talent rather than their skin colour.

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Farewell old friend

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 01:49 AM PDT

Fans brace themselves for the final Harry Potter film.

SO, it is really and finally happening, huh? The end that we waited for is nigh and no amount of wands nor Impediment Jinxes in the world can stop the final Harry Potter movie from hitting the theatres worldwide.

Well, that is obviously not because the wands or curses don't actually work, but because Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is set for its release this Thursday. Unless, of course, someone uses the Blasting Curse on Earth and blows us all up before then... (hmm, now what was that spell again? Confringo?)

Like any fan of a much-loved franchise would know, saying the final goodbye is never really easy. And with Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe playing their characters to perfection, you'd understand that these are no Tom, Dick and Harry we are bidding farewell to.

Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter – along with Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, Severus Snape, Fred and George Weasley and more – are characters we have come to adore and secretly wish we could trade places with (well, maybe not so much Snape).

Just as how difficult it was for fans to read the last few pages of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows and brace themselves for the final line in the book (FYI, it's "All was well"), the time has now come to do the same for the movie series.

Yes, it is true that fans were given plenty of time to prepare for the final instalment of the franchise (what with the last book made into two movies and the first part released last year), but still, life as we know will never be the same (this is not an overstatement).

Oh well, with the final movie out, it simply means that we would get to see Ron and Hermione finally kiss (sorry, spoiler); Lord Voldermort erm...hmm...survive (or not) and Harry erm...hmm...die (or not).

Seriously, to those of you who have not read the books and want to be surprised at the end of the movie, this is for you: "You guys! You're making this story very difficult to write!"

Written by J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter book series is one of the best-selling books and movie franchises of all time and in a nutshell is about a boy wizard who fights an evil Lord and neither can survive while the other lives.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ties up all the loose ends that the fans were left to wonder about previously, and brings closure for all.

Sugania Narayanan, 28, was introduced to the magical world of Harry Potter – with its Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Bean, chocolate frogs, jinxes, Quidditch, butterbeer, et cetera – at 15 when everyone in school was talking about the books. She further fell in love with the series after watching the movies.

"When you read the book, you imagine the Harry Potter world in your head, scene to scene. It's wonderful to see it come to life on screen. I remember clapping my hands in the theatre when Harry caught his first Snitch in the first movie. I realised that I was the only clapping after a while," says Sugania, who is now an engineer.

It is not hard to adore Harry, the bespectacled boy with a little lightning-shaped scar on his forehead, and the magical world he lives in (well, at least when he is not stuck with the Dudleys, his only living relatives, during the school holidays).

The storyline Rowling created for the series, just begs one to go back again and again.

"Harry Potter is interesting and different from other movies. It is very unpredictable and is probably the best movie saga I've ever come across. It beats Twilight and Transformers for sure!" says Jo-Ann Ang, 17, who is going to sorely miss the movie franchise when it comes to an end.

Nevertheless, the Form Five student already knows how she will cope with the void that the last movie would inevitably leave.

"I have not read all the Harry Potter books. That's because when I was younger, I didn't like reading thick books and I had my brothers tell me the stories instead. Now, I'll start reading the books because I feel like such an 'incomplete' fan without having read them all," she says.

For Ho Hui Jan, however, solace is Pottermore (www.pottermore.com) – the website created by Rowling, which "builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books".

"I am excited but sad about the final movie, because that would mark the end of the series.

"No more books, no more movies... but there's still Pottermore!" says the 18-year-old student.

She will also "re-re-re-re-read" the books, from the first to the last. In order. Without skipping a page. Which is something most fans say they will do once the Harry Potter movie saga reaches its climactic conclusion.

Also taking her books off the shelves and dusting them off (or maybe not, since they wouldn't have collected any dust as they are always being read) is 17-year-old Deanna Anuar.

Deanna has been a fan of the series since she was 11, when she got her first Harry Potter book as a birthday present.

"I grew up thinking that the magical world was real. It was so detailed and simply extraordinary. I am really going to miss it once the series ends," she says.

Deanna admits that while she likes all the movies, she didn't particularly enjoy Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (the sixth movie in the instalment).

"I didn't really like it at all, but after watching the first part of the final movie last year, I got hyped up again. I know that this last movie is going to be awesome and I'm going to be really sad. So will the other fans who grew up with it. It's been a huge part of our childhood," she adds.

If there is one thing Deanna really looks forward to seeing in the final movie, it has to be the epilogue, where Harry ... dang it, you guys-who-have-not-read-the-books.

I can't reveal the ending ... hmmph, just go watch the movie then.

> Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 opens in cinemas nationwide on July 14.

Related Stories:
Potter phenomenon

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Potter phenomenon

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 01:48 AM PDT

The movies

> The Harry Potter movies have so far amassed a worldwide box office tally of nearly US$6.4bil (RM19.392bil); the first movie, Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, grossed the most of all the movies so far, with US$974.7mil (RM2.918bil), the eighth biggest box-office takings of all time.

> The directors of the eight films are: Chris Columbus (Sorceror's Stone, 2001 and Chamber Of Secrets 2002), Alfonson Cuaron (Prisoner Of Azkaban, 2004), Mike Newell (Goblet Of Fire, 2005), David Yates (Order Of The Phoenix, 2007; Half-Blood Prince, 2009; Deathly Hallows: Part 1, 2010 and Deathly Hallows: Part 2, 2011)        

The novels

> J.K. Rowling completed the manuscript of her first Harry Potter story, called Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, in 1995, having written some of it in local cafes in Edinburgh, where she was an unemployed mother living on welfare.

> After being rejected by a series of publishers, Barry Cunningham, then of Bloomsbury publishers, signed up Rowling, and the author and company never looked back. Rowling is known as the world's first "billionaire author''.

> She has sold 400 million copies of her Harry Potter series about the young wizard, his adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his battles with the evil Voldemort.

> Rowling told US television talk show host Oprah Winfrey in October 2010 that she cried uncontrollably when she finished the last of her best-selling Potter books. – Reuters

Related Stories:
Farewell old friend

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Nation

Pop queen Siti Nurhaliza to study music at UiTM

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 04:31 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: Malaysia's pop queen Siti Nurhaliza Taruddin intends to fulfil her 10-year dream of pursuing music-related studies at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

Although she joined the entertainment industry, right after she finished her Sijil Peperiksaan Malaysia, studying music at a university had always been at the back of her mind.

The songbird told a press conference here that she was currently discussing the matter with UiTM authorities.

Confirming this, UiTM Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar said Saturday night, the university welcomed Siti Nurhaliza's decision and was especially pleased with her willingness to help collect donations for UiTM's Mengubah Destini Anak Bangsa fund.

On Saturday night, through her company, SimplySiti Sdn Bhd, together with UiTM, organised a concert at the university premises, in conjunction with the company's first year anniversary celebrations.

About RM140,000 was collected for the fund. - Bernama

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

KL back to normal

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 04:27 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The city is back to normal with people back thronging popular shopping spots, especially around Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

A Bernama check found shopping complexes as crowded as ever on a typical weekend without any signs of the complete washout Saturday when many shops were closed as a result of the illegal rally by Bersih.

A visitor from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Saini Kussu, 62, and his wife, Rahmah Manjcik, 60, who were in Kuala Lumpur the last two days were busy shopping before flying back this evening.

"I knew there was an illegal rally yesterday, so I postponed my visit to the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman area, and thank God, the situation has returned to normal today.

"Members of the public and tourists need not worry as they can now go about and shop in peace," he said.

Sharifah Azizam, 50, from Terengganu, also had to cancel her plan to visit Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Saturday after learning that police had blocked entry into the city centre.

"I am able to come today to browse around as well as watch the people go by," she said.

Traders said they suffered losses Saturday, some as much as RM4,000 as they had to close their business premises earlier than usual.

Wilson Chye 28, said Saturdays and Sundays should have been busy days but as a result of the illegal rally, his shop recorded a loss of about RM4,000 as people stayed away from the area.

"Even today, shoppers are still worried about their safety. Although the crowd has returned, it is not as big as usual," he said. Bernama also checked out the Dataran Merdeka area and found the situation back to normal although the road in front of Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad is closed on weekends.

Saturday saw large crowds gathering illegally at several locations in the city including Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Dataran Merdeka and Puduraya before being dispersed by police at about 5pm.

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Lynas will install special equipment to monitor radiation

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 02:16 AM PDT

KUANTAN: Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd will install two pieces of special equipment to monitor radioactive materials at its processing plant in Gebeng near here.

Managing director Datuk Mashal Ahmad said the Environmental Radiation Monitoring System (ERMS) costing RM700,000 each were bought from Austria.

He said the aerosol-type equipments to be installed in two locations would be submitted to the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) which would operate them.

"One will be placed at AELB site office here while location of the other will be determined later.

"The public can come and see the recorded readings," he told reporters after AELB director-general Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan visited AELB site office here Sunday.

Mashal said the equipment was capable of detecting all types of radioactive materials, making it very significant to the operation of the RM2bil plant.

"The first unit will arrive in three months and the officers concerned will be trained on how to handle it," he said.

The AELB office is home to four officers assigned to regulate operation of the plant at all times.

Lynas also invited about 200 people from nearby villages to have a close look at the factory site to get a clear picture of its construction and operation.

Construction of the rare earth refinery plant became an issue after certain parties objected claiming it will result in radiation harmful to the public.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), however, ruled that the plant was safe but it had to make improvements before it could operate at the next level.

Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of Lynas Corporation Australia.

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

The art of architecture

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 01:56 AM PDT

The minds behind Datum Showbox build a bridge between those who create structures and those who live in them.

DATUM:KL has flourished. What started in 2003 with a few participants has, in the last couple of years, attracted thousands of architects and students from around the region.

Past success set the foundation for this year's month-long Datum:KL – Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival. Organised by the Malaysian Association of Architects (PAM), the event casts its net even further to bridge the gap of understanding between architect and non-architect, to make the people of KL more aware of and interested in their surroundings, and more involved in its direction.

Datum Showbox is the ice-breaker; three exhibitions at one venue (the MAP@Publika), it gives visitors a broad view of what architects do and how they think, and guides us to pause and examine KL's "unseen" architecture.

The exhibition titled House@SEA showcases modern homes designed in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. It presents challenges architects are likely to find and the creative solutions reached.

Show curator Ang Chee Cheong says young architects are used to getting the same brief: "Here is a small plot of land, now build me a big house." A couple of Singaporean architectural firms have solved this problem, resulting in astonishing homes that appear to be tiny link houses from the street, but which open up into bright and airy spaces, indoor forests and rooftop gardens.

"Most architectural innovation comes from houses," adds Ang. For example, a particularly unusual house in Indonesia is the result of a four-year-old "client" who wanted an easy way to get downstairs. The curving concrete slide built into the house has become one of the resident family's favourite features.

Wan Azhar Sulaiman, one of the architects of CODA (Collaboration Office of Design & Architecture), says the firm's contribution to this exhibition, the Half House, was built for someone with a large extended family. One half of the house is for permanent residents; the other welcomes relatives to stay and contains a large function room for family events, which are a regular occurrence.

If Datum Showcase wanted dialogue, this was an immediate measure of its success.It was fascinating to hear the architects talk about the thought process behind the Half House.

I come from an old neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur where those who can afford to immediately demolish their old homes and build new structures that overshadow and shame their neighbours'. The half house, although large and graceful, is of similar height to the houses around it and the design is kept simple and unornamented. In this humble way, it still belongs to its neighbourhood and is part of the community.

CODA is unusual in that it builds as well as designs. For its Saw is Law installation,the blades of over a hundred saws were removed from their plastic handles and then attached to metal poles of different lengths. All the blades face outwards, cutting side down, as in a salute.

The installation is part of another of Datum Showcase's exhibitions, Build Your Manifesto. Here is where architects have constructed a message for visitors, mainly by using the materials and tools of their trade. Here is where they speak to us.

Sketchbook by C'Arch Architecture and Design is a house made of hundreds of sketches and doodles on yellow draft paper, the brainstorming process of one of their jobs – to build an old folks home. The floor inside and out is littered with crumpled balls of the same paper, the many ideas spawned and rejected until they get it right. This installation invites the audience to talk back, to enter the house and add their own sketches, ideas and comments.

Risk Reduction Techtonics by Mercy Malaysia's Technical Team puts playfulness aside and speaks to us directly with a tower of bricks and concrete. Ang likes this piece because he feels it is a reminder that "the basic function of architecture is to protect and shelter". Thick metal springs towards the top show how this structure is built to withstand earthquakes.

In the third exhibition, reviewKL, photographers were asked to turn their camera on the structures that make the city. There are some truly splendid works, all for sale, and part of the proceeds will go to charity.

Erna Dyanty has taken numerous stark, unsentimental photographs of the soulless buildings that house our uniformed classes, a grim commentary on how we see and treat our soldiers, police officers and teachers.

I am particularly drawn to the work of Lim Thian Leong, a poignant series of trees at dusk.

The branches have been chopped off, leaving the trunks as armless as ancient Roman statues. In the background of these photos are the bright lights of large cranes at massive construction sites.

Accomplished photographer Eiffel Chong has caused quite a stir with his work. Blurring the line between what is real and what is not, it is impossible to tell whether his photographs are a wide view KL's condos, parks and skylines or a close-up of an architectural model. I know because I asked him, but I challenge you to figure it out.

The idea for this series came about when Chong was thinking about all the natural disasters that have been affecting the region. He wanted to do some city shots from God's perspective, looking down on our cities as with a magnifying glass.

He also thought about how kids use magnifying glasses to burn insects and from the perspective he gives us in his work, it does seem it would be terribly easy to wipe out the entire thing with a sweep of your hand… or a tsunami.

However, when you get close, really close, to the photographs, you see people (are they real?) doing things that make them individuals, interesting, unique.

You form an interest and an attachment, you become curious about them and hope that they are real and that they will go on with their lives, having many more days like this one.

All three exhibitions give visitors a lot to think about, especially the fact that much of our world, before it became what it is, first existed in the mind of an architect.

> 'Datum Showbox' is on till July 18 at Map@Publika (Solaris Dutamas, Block A5, JalanDutamas 1, Kuala Lumpur). For details, call 03-6207 9732 or go to datumkl.my.

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Hub of art

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 01:19 AM PDT

From things that would usually end up in landfills, comes quirky entertainment for eye and heart.

UPSTAIRS in Ken Marquis's art gallery and framing shop in Pennsylvania, you'll find a strange, cloistered world populated by a toothy dog chomping on a Frisbee, an enigmatic mermaid reclining in a pool of oil, and some guy named Barack Obama superfluously announcing that "I AM A PRESIDENT".

It's all a bit disorienting. Maybe that is the point, considering these works of art began life as ... automobile hubcaps?

The humble hubcap, it turns out, makes an excellent canvas.

Over the past three years, Marquis, 60, has persuaded artists from every American state and 52 countries to transform discarded metal and plastic wheel coverings into objects of wonder and whimsy. He's filled two rooms and a hallway with more than 800 works to date, dented old metal given new life and meaning by fertile minds and talented hands.

Some of the art is purely decorative: enormous roses, intricate sundials, abstracts and landscapes. Other artists make political statements, drop cultural references, or get personal.

There are pieces that demand to be touched, rocking and spinning and making noise. And others that make you smile, like the "pasta machine" that extrudes long, fat tubes of ziti (tube pasta).

"Almost every day, some art arrives from somewhere. It's a real treat to open up a box not knowing exactly what's in it," Marquis says with relish.

Beyond the wow factor lies an environmental message.

Reclamation artists have long used junkyards and trash heaps as source material, taking someone else's garbage and turning it into something beautiful or strange or provocative. The goal of the Landfillart Project, Marquis says, is to get people thinking about the amount of trash they generate – and, perhaps, to reduce it.

"Old rusted hubcaps, or even old plastic ones, eventually have no use. They end up in landfills or in people's backyards," he says. "So it made perfect sense to use this as a basis to create art on."

Vincent Romaniello, 57, of Philadelphia, was inspired by images of this year's Egyptian uprising, especially a photo of stone-throwing young protesters using scrap wood and other objects as shields. His still-unfinished piece envisions the hubcap as camouflaged helmet, perched on top of a pair of battered goggles. An old cell phone and rocks complete the tableau.

"I don't think it'll be very difficult for people to understand the meaning behind it," Romaniello says from the studio behind his house, where he's brushing on the last bit of paint. "These people are fighting for freedom ... for their voices to be heard."

Pattie Young, 57, of Idaho, contributed the largest piece in Marquis's collection. The Raven stands more than 2m tall, weighs almost 300kg, and uses five hubcaps, a pair of truck wheels, a huge spring, a running light, a fender and other materials scavenged from a salvage yard. "I got a little carried away," she says.

For Young, working with reclaimed materials serves a dual purpose. It promotes sustainability, and it feels right artistically.

"There's something about picking up (an object) that's already been used, the wear on it, the way it has a lot of character," says Young, who got several other artists to participate in Marquis's venture.

Not every contributor is a professional artist. About 20% of the hubcaps in the collection were supplied by amateurs ranging from disabled veterans to prison inmates to people with Down syndrome and autism.

Why hubcaps? The idea came to Marquis at an auto show where he had stumbled on a cache of 41 rusted disks. "It was one of those eureka moments," he recalls. "I saw a hubcap and I thought, 'I think I can get this repurposed."'

Marquis scooped them up for US$82 (RM251). A few weeks later, he bought 1,000 hubcaps from a collector. They came from every imaginable make of automobile, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Packard, DeSoto, Mercedes, Rolls Royce and many more, from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Marquis, who's been in the art business nearly four decades, called a dozen artist friends and pressed them into service. Then he began prowling the Internet, e-mailing artists who caught his eye to gauge their interest.

A typical reply, Marquis says, went something like this: "'You want me to find a hubcap in my own country and pay for that, and you want me to pay for (the materials to make) this piece of great art, and then you want me to ship it to you at my expense, and then you want me to gift it to you? Am I understanding you correctly? Okay, yeah, I'm in.'"

"I've had that conversation hundreds of times," Marquis says. "Artists get it."

Still about 150 pieces short of his goal, Marquis hopes to complete the project by early next year. After that comes a coffeetable book and a touring exhibition of 200 representative works.

For now, it can be viewed on Marquis's website, landfillart.org, and in person at his gallery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. – AP

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved