Selasa, 12 Julai 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

News Intl "worked with criminals" - ex PM-Brown

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 07:59 PM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused Rupert Murdoch's News International media group on Tuesday of using criminals to obtain information illegally about his private life and spoke of the shock he felt when it published a story about his baby's ill health.

Brown said the Sunday Times newspaper had obtained access to his building society account and other personal files, and said he had seen evidence collated by the Guardian newspaper that News International was using known criminals to obtain private information.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks at the sidelines of African Union meeting in Uganda's capital Kampala, July 24, 2010 (REUTERS/Xavier Toya /Files)

His comments broaden the phone hacking scandal engulfing the News of the World to other titles run by parts of Murdoch's News Corp media empire.

News International denied any wrongdoing by either of the newspapers.

"My tax returns went missing at one point, medical records have been broken into. I don't know how all this happened but I do know ... that in two of these instances there is absolute proof that News International was involved in hiring people to get this information," Brown said in a BBC television interview.

"And I do know also that the people that they work with are criminals, criminals with records, criminals who sometimes have records of violence as well as records of fraud."

In a statement, the Sunday Times said it was pursuing a story in the public interest that Brown had bought a flat below market value and that he had obtained it through a company in which ally Geoffrey Robinson was a director.

"We had reasonable grounds to investigate this matter and followed the PCC (Press Complaints Commission) Code on using subterfuge," the newspaper said.

"We believe no law was broken in the process of this investigation, and contrary to Mr Brown's assertion, no criminal was used and the story was published giving all sides a fair hearing," it added.


Brown was finance minister for a decade from 1997 and then prime minister until 2010.

Like his predecessor Tony Blair, he cultivated News International newspapers and was angry when the top-selling Sun switched to supporting the Conservatives in 2009.

Brown said he was devastated when told in 2006 by News International's Sun newspaper that it was to publish a story that his newborn son Fraser had cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease which often leads to an early death for the sufferer.

The Sun was edited at the time by Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, the UK arm of the News Corp media empire.

He said he was "in tears" about the disclosure. "Your son is going to be broadcast across the media, (my wife) Sarah and I were incredibly upset about it."

Prime Minister David Cameron said his predecessor appeared to have suffered an "appalling invasion of privacy."

"My heart goes out to Gordon and Sarah Brown. To have your children's privacy invaded in that way is completely unacceptable and heartbreaking for the family concerned," Cameron said.

News International says it is satisfied the Sun story was obtained from a legitimate source.

"We are able to assure the Brown family that we did not access the medical records of their son, nor did we commission anyone to do so," a News International spokesman said.

"The story The Sun ran about their son originated from a member of the public whose family has also experienced cystic fibrosis," the spokesman said.

"On receipt of the information, The Sun approached Mr Brown and discussed with his colleagues how best to present it. "

(Reporting by Tim Castle and Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Obama sharpens rhetoric against Syria's Assad

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 07:59 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had "lost legitimacy" for failing to lead a democratic transition, but stopped short of explicitly calling on him to step down.

A Syrian man living in Jordan, whose face is painted like the Syrian national flag, shouts slogans against Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad during a demonstration in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman July 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)

It was the strongest language Obama has used against the Syrian ruler over his harsh crackdown on protests and echoed comments by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a day earlier.

"I think that increasingly you're seeing President Assad lose legitimacy in the eyes of his people," Obama told CBS News in an interview. "He has missed opportunity after opportunity to present a genuine reform agenda."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Assad "is not indispensable" and urged him to lead a transition to democracy.

The sharpened rhetoric follows an assault by Assad loyalists on the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus, which drew strong condemnation by the United Nations Security Council.

Pressed on why Obama has not gone further and urged Assad to leave office, Carney told reporters: "There's really a growing consensus among the Syrian people that this transition needs to take place and that President Assad is not going to lead it ... The Syrian people will, should, be able to decide their own future."

The Obama administration has reacted cautiously to the Syrian government crackdown after working for the past two years to try to woo Damascus away from its alliance with Tehran, and remains mindful of the limits of its influence.

Aside from international denunciation, the only concrete response to the violence has been U.S. and European Union sanctions against Assad, family members and aides.

Washington has also been worried about instability on Israel's borders and wants to avoid another military entanglement in the Muslim world, where it is involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a NATO air campaign in Libya.

But with Monday's assault on the U.S. embassy by what the White House called "thugs," U.S. patience appears to be wearing thin with Assad, who has has been trying for four months to stamp out a broad popular revolt with troops and tanks.

"We've made that clear to the Syrian government, that it is their responsibility ... to provide security for and to maintain security for foreign embassies," Carney said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. ambassador to Damascus, Robert Ford, had met with Syria's deputy foreign minister for talks with "a much more collaborative tone."

Syria has accused the United States and France of distorting and exaggerating facts about the embassy attacks.

But Nuland said the United States would continue to discuss with allies possible further steps against Syria, including sanctions on its oil and gas sectors and potential referral to the International Criminal Court over the crackdown.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn, Caren Bohan and Laura MacInnis; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Senator calls for U.S. investigation of News Corp

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 06:57 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. senator called for an investigation of News Corp following the telephone hacking scandal at one of its British newspapers, signaling the crisis could spread to the United States.

Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the committee on commerce, science and transportation, said phone-hacking at News of the World raised "serious questions" about whether the newspaper's parent company had broken any U.S. laws.

A taxi passes a poster signed by street artist Dr. D showing a portrait of News Corp head Rupert Murdoch in London July 11, 2011. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

"I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans," he said in a statement on Tuesday. "If they did, the consequences will be severe."

So far, the scandal has largely been contained to the British business of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. But News Corp is based in New York, and owns a clutch of prominent media properties in the United States, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Fox Broadcasting.

In London, Murdoch and two top lieutenants have been summoned to parliament to answer questions next week as popular anger has spread over allegations that reporters spied on thousands of people, from the rich and powerful to vulnerable victims of crime.

Earlier on Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said he did not expect his agency to become involved in any examination of News Corp.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Gary Hill)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Double life

Posted: 13 Jul 2011 02:51 AM PDT

Pencil-pusher by day, crime-fighting vigilante by night, the City Hunter will keep you glued to the screen.

IN 1983, 21 South Korean special forces soldiers were sent to North Korea on a top secret mission. They completed their mission successfully, but were inexplicably executed by the same government who sent them on the mission.

The only survivor was Lee Jin Pyo, a bodyguard for the Blue House (the South Korean version of the United States' White House). Burning with rage, he hatched an elaborate plan to bring down the five powerful men responsible for the betrayal.

He went through extreme lengths to ensure that his plans succeed: he kidnapped his mentor's infant son from his grief-stricken mother. (His mentor was one of the 21 men killed.) He then brought the boy, whom he named Yoon Sung, to Thailand and trained him from a young age to be an efficient soldier. He then enriched himself through the drug trade in South-East Asia's Golden Triangle.

It is now 2011, and the two are ready to launch their plan to bring down the "gang of five". However, Jin Pyo warns Yoon Sung (Lee Min Ho) never to trust or love anyone lest he risks the lives of those who are close to him.

Everything seems to be going according to plan. Yoon Sung, who is apparently as brilliant as he is handy with his fists, arrives in South Korea with a newly-minted PhD degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. By day, he is a pencil-pushing computer programmer at the Blue House, by night he sleuths and schemes to bring down corrupt politicians. His exploits soon gain the attention and admiration of the public who calls him the "City Hunter".

Then, he meets Kim Na Na (Park Min Young of 2010's Sungkyunkwan Scandal), who is trying to be a Blue House bodyguard.

Yoon Sung starts to break his father's most important commandment: Love no one. But little does he know the lengths Jin Pyo would go to ensure his obedience.

This South Korean adaptation of the manga by Tsukasa Hojo may only have a passing resemblance to the source material, but it is certainly a slick, gritty and action-packed production. The series, which filmed its first episode in Thailand, has convincing action scenes, tightly-paced plotting and solid acting from its cast.

I'm particularly impressed with Lee, who became a Hallyu sensation after starring as the lead in Boys Over Flowers, the 2009 Korean adaptation of the popular Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango. His role in City Hunter is a step above the pretty boy roles he's had so far, including 2010's Personal Taste.

To prepare for the role, Lee had to train in Judo for months before filming began. Yet, his character isn't the stony-faced, emotionless vigilante you'd expect him to be, what with the militaristic upbringing he's had.

Instead, Lee injects innocence into Yoon Sung; a confident and capable warrior he may be, but Yoon Sung is also oftentimes naïve and flustered when it comes to matters of love. He also has a compassionate desire to fight for the downtrodden, which is very different from Jin Pyo's unforgiving and ruthless way of getting justice.

It is this mix of danger and innocence that makes Yoon Sung such a compelling character, and Lee handles his character's different facets capably.

At first, City Hunter may seem like an odd drama. The first episode, with its gunfights, explosions, street chases and bloodbaths, will lull you into thinking that you're watching a full-on action series.

Then, these bits are briefly shelved and it becomes a rom-com: Yoon Sung vainly hides his growing attraction for Na Na by being an utter jerk and the latter brusquely puts him in his place while she tries to resist his charms. Hijinks ensue.

Then, it returns to "action mode", with Yoon Sung scaling walls, hacking computers and expertly dispatching goons with guns and fists.

City Hunter could have ended up a schizophrenic mess, but fortunately, the writers have everything under tight control. The rom-com bits serve to build the relationship between our two leads so that we're invested in them, and they succeed.

The drama is also tightly plotted and full of suspense with each episode ending with a cliffhanger. And don't you love secret identities?

Yoon Sung also has a worthy adversary in Kim Young Joo (Lee Joon Hyuk of Three Brothers), an upright prosecutor who is determined to capture the City Hunter. The cat-and-mouse game between the two is a tight one.

This is not to say that City Hunter is a perfect show. There are times when things are just too convenient and far-fetched to be realistic. So, Yoon Sung is an MIT graduate and a phD holder at 28. Sure. And Jin Pyo seems clairvoyant; he is always lurking in the shadows when Yoon Sung is doing something against his wishes. But these are minor complaints against an otherwise superb, action-packed drama. My only hope is that the show doesn't slump midway as some K-dramas are wont to do.

> City Hunter airs on Astro Beyond's One HD (Astro Channel 393) on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9.05pm.

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business goes mobile

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 07:15 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Star Publications (M) Bhd's wholly-owned subsidiary JustJobs Sdn Bhd has launched MyStarJob Mobile, an application that allows users to search for job vacancies on the Star media group's online job portal,, via their iPhones.

"This is the first phase of our iPhone application, which will be updated regularly in tandem with current and future technology trends," said Serm Teck Choon, head of JustJobs Sdn Bhd.

He added that this is the beginning of the company's innovative efforts to tap into the Malaysian mobile market, which had more than 30 million cellular telephone subscriptions in 2010 based on statistics from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

Star's New Media general manager Davin Arul said, "MyStarJob Mobile is one of several initiatives the company is taking to penetrate the mobile application market."

He added that the mobile application is expected to complement in delivering recruitment opportunities to meet the needs of jobseekers and employers.

The application allows users to define a job search by preferred job function and level by just typing in a keyword. Users will be able to view all job postings on the website,, via the mobile application; this includes the latest jobs posted by employers and the positions most viewed by jobseekers.

Besides searching for jobs, users can also bookmark the ones they have selected for future reference. With the integration of Google Maps, users can easily navigate to the location of the selected companies through their mobile phones.

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Oldtown up in early trade, most actively traded

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 06:50 PM PDT

Wednesday July 13, 2011

PETALING JAYA: Cafe chain operator and coffee beverage manufacturer OldTown Bhd made its debut on the main market of Bursa Malaysia at RM1.38, up 13 sen against its initial public offering price of RM1.25.

At 9.30am, it was the most actively traded stock, rising 8 sen to RM1.33 with 27 million shares traded.

Oldtown exports its instant beverage mixes to 13 countries, including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, the United States and Taiwan. According to reports, it plans for deeper penetration into China by the fourth quarter.

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KLCI up in early trade

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 06:42 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI was up in Wednesday's early trade, gaining 0.04 points to to 1,578.14 at 9.15am.

Cafe chain operator and coffee beverage manufacturer OldTown Bhd, which made its debut on Bursa Malaysia today, was most actively traded stock, rising 6 sen to RM1.31.

Regional bourses were mostly higher. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was up 0.47% to 9,972.20 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.61% to 21,794.37.

Shanghai's A index was flat at 2,754.45 while Taiwan's Taiex Index rose 0.09% to 8,498.48.

Seoul's Kospi Index gained 9.64% to 2,119.37, and Singapore's Straits Times Index gained 0.13% to 3,081.21.

Nymex crude oil lost 37 cents to US$97.06 per barrel. Spot gold fell US$1.20 to US$1,566.50 per ounce. The ringgit was quoted at 3.024 to the US dollar.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

England's pride: Home team looks to shine at Open

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 05:50 PM PDT

SANDWICH, England (AP): Royal St. George's is the hub of English golf, a course that's hosted more British Opens than any outside of Scotland. And the home team is sure poised to shine in the latest version of golf's oldest major championship.

Luke Donald is No. 1 in the world rankings. Lee Westwood is right on his heels at No. 2. Paul Casey and Ian Poulter are both in the top 20. Four other Englishmen from the top 100 qualified for the Open.

"English golf is very strong right now," Donald said Tuesday. "Obviously in the world rankings, with myself and Lee heading that list. We've both been having good years so far, and there's a bunch of other English guys that probably haven't played as well as us but certainly have the potential to win."

The numbers sure look a lot more promising than the did eight years ago, the last time an Open was held at Royal St. George's. Back then, there were no English players in the top 10 and only two (Casey and Justin Rose) in the top 50. Donald was way down at No. 117. Westwood wasn't even in the top 200.

"I guess now," Donald surmised, gauging the English hopes for this Open, "is as good a time as any."

Westwood certainly realizes how significant it would be for an Englishman to hoist the claret jug at a spot just up the road from the cliffs of Dover.

"You know, it's named after St. George, so you can't get much more English than that," he said, smiling. "It's the biggest championship in the world as far as I'm concerned. It would mean everything, really, to win this championship."

Donald has a crafty, delicate short game that should be a huge asset on this lumpy seaside course. Westwood is as good as anyone off the tee, and he's certainly got plenty of experience contending in golf's biggest events. Casey tied for third a year ago at St. Andrews, while the dashing Poulter was the runner-up in 2008.

Any of them has the game to be get their name engraved on the historic chalice.

"This is the best I've played," said Donald, who solidified his No. 1 ranking with a four-stroke win at the Scottish Open last weekend. "This is the most consistent I've been throughout my whole game. Not just around the greens, but tee to green is getting more and more solid. I think that's been a key to me playing well and notching up some victories."

Of course, one key victory has eluded Donald. And Westwood. All the top English contenders, in fact.

None of them has won a major championship - no small stumbling block, especially when one starts to lug around the burden of being regarded as the best player without the most coveted of titles.

That dreaded title probably belongs to the 38-year-old Westwood, who has finished in the top three at all four majors without pulling off that breakthrough win. His plight prompted Colin Montgomerie - certainly an expert on the close-but-no-cigar syndrome - to declare publicly that Westwood might be running out of time.

He'll be 40 in a couple of years. After that, Montgomerie said, the window of opportunity will start to close.

Westwood believes he's got more time than that - if he needs it. "It depends how physically able you are, and I'm obviously a finely tuned athlete that can go on well into my 40s," he quipped, taking a self-deprecating poke at a body that no one would describe as chiseled.

Besides, there's more important factors than looking like Adonis in polyester.

"You've got to want it still. That's the main thing," Westwood said. "People would have said I was coming into my prime 10 years ago and then I dropped to 270th in the world, so what's the point in guessing whether you're at your prime or not? I don't particularly think it's an age thing, either. So many players play well into their early to mid-40s that there's no point in thinking about it."

Donald surged to the top of the world rankings with brilliantly consistent play this year. It all began with a victory at the Match Play Championship in late February, and he's won twice more on the European Tour since then - not to mention eight other top-10 finishes on both sides of the Atlantic.

His only stumble came at the last major. Donald finished in a tie for 45th at the U.S. Open and still must show he has the mental strength to handle the grinding pressure of those events that really define a career.

Amazingly, Donald isn't even the betting pick at another Tiger-less major. Rory McIlroy of the Northern Ireland is the overwhelming favorite, not surprising after a runaway victory at Congressional gave the 22-year-old his first major crown.

"I don't think I'm under the radar because I did win last week, but obviously Rory is on the forefront of a lot of people's minds, and rightly so," Donald said. "He was impressive in the U.S. Open, and winning majors is a big deal, and he did it and he did it in great fashion. I'm sure a lot of the attention is on him and maybe a little bit more of the pressure, as well."

Someone laid out this scenario, which doesn't seem all that farfetched: Donald and Westwood playing in the final group on Sunday, each of them vying for his first major title at the course that symbolizes golf in their homeland.

Who would want it more?

"That would be a hard question to answer," Donald said. "Obviously it would be a very intense situation, but one that I would love to be in. I look forward to hopefully being in that position."

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Vinci opens with a victory at Palermo Open

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 05:48 PM PDT

PALERMO, Sicily (AP): Fresh off her third title of the year, second-seeded Roberta Vinci beat Kazakh qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva 6-2, 7-5 in the opening round of the Palermo Open on Tuesday.

Vinci's victory in Budapest on Sunday made her the first Italian woman to win three titles in one year, and she is threatening Flavia Pennetta to become the second-best ranked Italian after Francesca Schiavone.

Schiavone is ranked No. 8, Pennetta is No. 21 and Vinci is up to a career-best No. 23 this week.

Third-seeded Sara Errani of Italy beat Regina Kulikova of Russia 6-1, 6-3.

Also advancing were No. 4 Klara Zakopalova, No. 5 Anabel Medina Garrigues - a four-time winner of this clay-court tournament - No. 7 Polona Hercog and No. 8 Petra Cetkovska.

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700 people charged twice in Olympic ticket glitch

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 05:45 PM PDT

LONDON (AP): A company managing the ticketing system for the 2012 London Olympics says that about 700 people have been charged twice for tickets.

Ticketmaster says the glitch on July 6 was a "processing error" and that it has apologized and issued refunds to those affected.

The company said Tuesday the problem hit people who were buying tickets in the first round of the "second chance" ticket sale, which was open to those unsuccessful in the initial ballot.

All events except football and freestyle wrestling have sold out.

A total of 3.5 million Olympics tickets have been sold and there have been around 850,000 successful applications for tickets. But many people, including some of Britain's top athletes, were unhappy at the procedure.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Minimum wage and 16 other Bills passed by Senate

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 07:03 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Negara was adjourned sine die after sitting for six days from July 4, during which 17 Bills, including the National Wages Consultative Council Bill 2011, were debated and passed.

The other Bills passed were the:

* Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Bill 2010;

* Kootu Funds (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill 2011;

* Co-operative College (Incorporation)(Amendment) Bill 2010;

* Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Incorporation) (Amendment) Bill 2011)

* Promotion of Investments (Amendment) Bill 2011;

* Supplementary Supply Bill 2011;

* National Sports Institute Bill 2011;

* Judges Remuneration (Amendment) Bill 2011;

* Trade Descriptions Bill 2011;

* Petroleum (Income Tax) (Amendment) Bill 2011)

* Securities Commission (Amendment) Bill 2011;

* Capital Markets and Services (Amendment) Bill 2011;

* Money Services Business Bill 2011;

* International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) (Amendment) Bill 2011;

* Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (Amendment) Bill 2010) and

* Construction Industry Development Board, Malaysia (Amendment) Bill 2011. - Bernama

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Air quality improves, thanks to strong winds

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 06:49 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The haze continued to shroud major parts of the country but the condition improved slightly by evening, thanks to stronger winds throughout the day.

Areas with moderate air quality readings of over 80 on the Air Pollutant Index (API) jumped from two at 5pm on Monday to nine at 11am Tuesday. However, this was reduced to six areas at 5pm.

Air quality improved with 76% or 38 areas recording moderate API readings at 5pm compared to 42 areas (82%) at 11am.

(A good reading is from 0-50, moderate 51-100, unhealthy 101-200, very unhealthy 201-299 and hazardous from 300 and above).

The worst-affected area was Bukit Rambai in Malacca which saw its readings hit near unhealthy levels when its API was 93 at 7am but this dropped to 89 at 11am and 81 at 5pm.

Poor visibility and skies chocked with smog were evident earlier in the day with many complaining of a burning smell. However, this improved as winds picked up.

While visibility was back to normal (more than 10km) in most parts, some areas still recorded poor to moderate visibility as of 8pm Tuesday including Butterworth (5km), Ipoh (4km) and Sitiawan, Perak (3km).

Skies were also clearer in the Klang Valley with visibility improving from between 3km and 6km earlier in the day to almost normal levels. Visibility in Petaling Jaya dipped to as low as 2km on Monday.

The Meteorological Department's Central Forecast Office said stronger wind speeds, especially at the upper surface level, caused the haze to disperse slightly yesterday afternoon.

"Wind patterns in peninsular Malaysia had remained consistent from a south-westerly direction.

"The weather should improve today (Wednesday) with rain expected in the evening in areas northward of Kuala Lumpur," said a spokesman, adding that isolated rain was expected in Johor and Malacca.

According to a regional hazemap, the smoke plumes had shifted slightly away from the peninsula compared with Monday when it was part of the peninsula.

A spokesman from the PLUS Traffic Monitoring Centre said visibility along highways in the Klang Valley and the North South Expressway towards the north was reduced in the morning but improved in the evening although the haze was still present.

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport reported no delayed flights due to the haze while the Subang Airport control tower reported only one delayed flight due to haze and technical problems.

Indonesian news portal Media Indonesia reported Tuesday that the Kota Dumai area in Riau was still blanketed in smog from raging forest fires.

The southwest monsoons, which bring about drier conditions, will continue until September.

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Former deputy minister won't testify in Felda defamation suit

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 05:38 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Deputy Land and Co-operatives Minister Datuk Dr Tan Kee Kwong will not testify in the defamation suit against him filed by the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda).

His lead counsel Ranjit Singh told High Court judge Zabariah Mohd Yusof that his client has no case to answer as Felda had not proven its claims in the suit.

Dr Tan is being sued for RM200mil for allegedly defaming Felda and its investment company Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn Bhd over their business and conduct.

Justice Zabariah set July 20 to hear the submissions by Ranjit over the civil action for Dr Tan.

Earlier, Felda lead counsel Datuk Mahinder Singh Dulku closed their case after calling four witnesses.

Justice Zabariah also rejected an application by Mahinder for an adjournment of the trial to subpoena a Suara Keadilan reporter who interviewed Dr Tan for his article.

In the court papers, the plaintiffs claimed that Dr Tan had caused the publication of defamatory words in Suara Keadilan in its June 22-29 edition last year.

In the suit filed on Jan 25, Felda and Felda Global claimed that the words implied that the plaintiffs were involved in corruption and had committed an unlawful act.

In the statement of defence, Dr Tan admitted to have given an interview to a Suara Keadilan newspaper reporter named as Faizal Zakaria, but he did not utter any defamatory words of both plaintiffs.

Alternatively, Dr Tan said the words were true in fact and that they were published on an occasion of qualified privilege.

Related Stories:
Felda can sue and be sued for defamation, court rules

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Mila Kunis says yes to Marine YouTube date request

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 05:20 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (AP): Thanks to the power of the Internet, a Marine's YouTube request to go on a date with Mila Kunis got through to the actress, who said yes.

In a recent Fox News interview, the 27-year-old "Black Swan" star was asked whether she knew about Sgt. Scott Moore's video asking her to accompany him to the Marine Corps Ball in Greenville, North Carolina, in November.

"Hey Mila. It's Sergeant Moore, but you can call me Scott," the uniformed soldier said from a base in Afghanistan. "I just wanted to take a moment out of my day to invite you to the Marine Corps Ball on November 18th in Greenville, North Carolina, with yours truly. So take a second, think about it and get back to me."

Kunis reacted with surprise and asked for details about the event during the Fox News interview. After her "Friends With Benefits" co-star, Justin Timberlake, goaded her to fulfill her patriotic duties, Kunis said she would go.

"We're going to make this happen, sir," she said, looking into the camera. "I'm with you."

Further details on whether Kunis has taken additional steps to confirm she would attend the ball remained unclear.

Calls and email messages seeking comments from Kunis' publicist and Moore were not returned Monday.

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America’s next sweetheart

Posted: 11 Jul 2011 06:13 PM PDT

Forget the romantic sweetie, America's new leading lady will probably be one tough chick.

THE honour of being America's sweetheart used to be a straight fight between Pretty Woman Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan, who made her A-list name as the woman who faked an orgasm onscreen in When Harry Met Sally.

They had the looks and were both sweet but vulnerable, which is why they were the Queens of Romantic Comedies during their heyday. Men were attracted to their vulnerability while female fans saw the actresses as possible friends, not rivals.

However, the two stars' best work was done in the 1990s and early 2000s. While Roberts, is still playing the romantic comedy field, at 43, she is these days playing the role of a divorcee, as in Eat, Pray, Love or a college professor, as in Larry Crowne. And in an upcoming version of Snow White, she is slated to play the Evil Queen instead of the princess.

Ryan, who is six years older than Roberts, has moved away from the rom-com genre. The last romantic comedy she appeared in was Kate And Leopold (2001), which was, at best, a moderate hit, even with Hugh Jackman as her co-star.

With the two of them in their 40s, the field has been clear for a new leading lady to step up and inherit the mantle of America's next sweetheart. However, no one among the current crop of young female leads has really stood out over the past decade.

It would have been the perfect handover if Kate Hudson had been able to build on her success after bursting on the scene with Almost Famous in 2000 and the hit, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, three years later. She has since helmed several forgettable misses like Raising Helen and in the more successful outings, she is stuck in roles that are largely forgettable.

She was the killjoy in the Owen Wilson vehicle You, Me And Dupree in 2006 and in her most recent outing, Something Borrowed, her character cheated on her fiancé, a trait that is inimical to being America's sweetheart.

More recently, Katherine Heigl of Grey's Anatomy fame set hopes astir with her knockout performance in the 2007 hit Knocked Up. But while her next two romantic comedy outings 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth were financially successful, they featured predictable scripts and even more predictable characters that have been better played by others before her.

Critics and fans alike have been disappointed that Heigl has opted to star in candy floss fare despite her proven acting chops in Grey's. In her 2010 movie Life As We Know It, Heigl does a financially successful version of suddenly being saddled with children to raise, ala Raising Helen. However, like Kate Hudson, she failed to take this done-to-death story further.

Viewers' tastes have changed in recent times. They are not as enamoured with the damsel in distress. Men like to be helped in their responsibilities and women are more than willing to step up.

It is no accident that these days, rom-coms are something our new favourite actresses dabble in as much as they go for tough roles that take our breath away with their power and invincibility, traits not quite in keeping with the image of a sweetheart, but relevant with the times.

Take Mila Kunis, the goofy Jackie we knew and loved in That '70s Show. She has since shown us that she is also at home with guns and knives and fists, as an assassin in Max Payne, and as a post-apocalyptic survivor in The Book Of Eli.

She does take time to be sweet, as Jason Segel's new squeeze in the 2008 romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall and in the upcoming Friends With Benefits, but her roots are now too firmly planted in the action genre for her to be away from it for long.

Scarlett Johansson first came to audiences' attention with her doe-eyed performance as a neglected young wife in Lost In Translation in 2003, but she was a greater revelation as the Black Widow in last year's Iron Man 2, a comic book superhero with martial arts ability to take on a whole bunch of men and knock them all flat, within a minute or two.

A young 14-year-old is waiting in the wings to soar. Chloe Moretz sizzled as the ultra-violent Hit-Girl in last year's superhero flick Kick-Ass, but the self-assured lass also has the comic touch that is obvious in her scene-stealing performance in the teen comedy Diary Of A Wimpy Kid.

If she is able to maintain her vitality in transiting to adult roles in the future, Moretz will be a shoo-in as America's next sweetheart, albeit one with the ability to protect the man in her life, rather than the other way round.

The characters in some romantic comedies have been evolving, with the leading ladies exhibiting less of the vulnerability and more of the independence that is an essential trait of women in the 21st century.

America's next sweetheart will indeed be someone who can be sweet and vulnerable, but at the same time, has the gumption to take charge of her own life and protect others ... although she may not do so in the same movie.

In this column, writer Hau Boon Lai ponders the lives, loves and liberties of celebrities.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Text to win

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 01:33 AM PDT

DID you know you can vote via SMS in the Popular-The Star Readers' Choice Awards?

In this fourth instalment of the only local literary award that rewards local authors as well as participating readers, registering your vote is as easy as texting from your phone.

Choose your top three books from the lists below; that is, your top three fiction and top three non-fiction titles. If you are one of 100 readers whose ranking matches the overall vote, you will receive a RM50 gift voucher as well as a one-year-free-membership Popular card. And your favourite authors will be rewarded, too, with cash, trophies and certificates of recognition.

If you haven't read all the books, check The Star Online's ( 365-day archive for the introduction of this year's fiction and non-fiction nominees. You can also go to to find out more about the books. And if you want to buy them, you can get a 20% discount on the 20 titles at any Popular or Harris bookstore until Oct 2, 2011.

To vote via your phone, note that RCAF is the SMS code for fiction and RCAN is the code for non-fiction. Once you've decided on your choice, type RCAFNRICCODESSLOGAN (not more than 120 characters) and send to 36600. For non-fiction, type RCAN, followed by the rest.

Here's an example of what your text message should look like: RCAF 123456011234 ABC Reading enriches the mind, heart and soul and can bring people, families and nations together. (Note that each SMS will cost RM0.30; terms and conditions apply.)

Apart from SMS voting, you can also vote online at Also, look out for entry forms in Star2 On Sunday's Reads pages that you can mail in. Entry forms are also available at all Popular and Harris bookstores nationwide and can be downloaded from and book

The deadline for entries is July 17, 2011.

Fiction (SMS code: RCAF)

1.       Rojak: Bite-Sized Stories by Amir Muhammad (SMS code: A)

2.       Madness Aboard! by Yvonne Lee (SMS code: B)

3.       The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka (SMS code: C)

4.       Kebaya Tales by Lee Su Kim (SMS code: D)

5.       Orang Asli Animal Tales by Lim Boo Liat (SMS code: E)

6.       The Embrace Of Harlots by David T. K. Wong (SMS code: F)

7.       A Bit Of Earth by Lim Suchen (SMS code: G)

8.       Inspector Singh Investigates: A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul by Shamini Flint (SMS code: H)

9.       Sweet Offerings by Chan Ling Yap (SMS code: I)

10.       Under The Sun by O Thiam Chin (SMS code: J)

Non-fiction (SMS code: RCAN)

1.       Lim Lian Geok: Soul Of The Malaysian Chinese by Dr Kua Kia Soong (SMS code: A)

2.       Moving Forward: Malays For The 21st Century by Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (SMS code: B)

3.       The Man From Borneo: An Autobiography by Brother Michael Jacques (SMS code: C)

4.       From Poor Migrant To Millionaire by Chan King Nui (SMS code: D)

5.       Islam In Malaysia: Perceptions And Facts by Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (SMS code: E)

6.       Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw by Ellen Whyte (SMS code: F)

7.       Behind That Shiny Resume by Jasmine Yow (SMS code: G)

8.       Syed Hussein Alatas: The Life In The Writing by Masturah Alatas (SMS code: H)

9.       The Quran And I by Anas Zubedy (SMS code: I)

10.       Footprints In The Paddy Fields by Tina Kisil (SMS code: J)

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Hill project faces strong objections from Bukit OUG residents

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 06:40 AM PDT

BUKIT OUG Condominium residents are demanding nearby project developer Trinity Group to furnish the Ikram report on the project and stop levelling the hill.

They are worried that three residential and commercial projects behind their condominium blocks will have an impact on the soil stability.

The residents led by their Residents Association vice-chairman Charles Ho and Joint Management Body chairman Adrian Young also wanted some answers from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

The meeting on Friday between the residents and Trinity Group was arranged by Seputeh MP Teresa Kok's assistant Peter Seen.

Halfway through the discussion, moderated by Subang Jaya municipal councillor Tan Jo Hann, the residents got angry with the developer for withholding information pertaining to the project taking shape behind their condominium blocks.

Throughout the meeting, Trinity Group representatives, headed by Z Residence project manager O.G. Can, remained calm and tried to explain the details of the project while fanning off angry remarks hurled at them.

The meeting came to a boil when consulting engineer for the developer, who only wished to be known as Looi, threatened to walk out after residents harangued him during his presentation.

Fortunately Seen, managed to bring the situation under control.

However, Can assured them that the levelling of the 20m-high hill was done in stages.

"I assure you that we are not building anything on the hill now but merely bringing it down to 10m," he said,

He also said they were prepared to build a hoarding to prevent any rock fall.

Both parties also agreed to meet the DBKL planning unit to sort out some issues and allow the residents to have a copy of the Ikram report if DBKL had no objections.

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Selangor earns RM80mil in revenue from sale of sand

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 06:17 AM PDT

THE Selangor government has earned RM80mil in revenue from the sale of sand for the first five months of the year.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim told the state assembly that the state had also recorded RM20mil profit from the sale of sand.

Khalid said he expected the profit to double by the end of the year.

He said the profit was expected to be higher next year with more development expected to take place in the state and Kuala Lumpur.

"Taking into consideration the number of development projects lined up in Kuala Lumpur alone, I expect the price of sand to increase.

"This is good because sand will be able to churn more money for the state," he said in his reply to question from Dr Rani Osman (PR-Meru)

Khalid said the profit recorded reflected well on the Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd's good work.

He said the state's move in privatising the sale of sand through the company was beginning to bear fruit.

"I am sure we will do well in years to come," he said

To another question from Wong Kun Mun (BN-Kuala Kubu Baru) on rampant sand theft, Khalid said the situation was under control compared with Johor.

He said the state had acknowledged the such activity was taking place and had taken preventive measures to curb the situation.

"We are not saying that there is no sand theft like how Johor is denying that sand from Sungai Johor is being smuggled to Singapore.

"It is important for the public to know that the sand-stealing activities are going on for many years in Selangor and the Pakatan government is doing its best to stop it," he said.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

No more free shows by Lady Gaga, police tell fans

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 02:29 AM PDT

SYDNEY (AP) - Lady Gaga may have surprised fans with two unexpected gigs in Australia, but don't expect a third free show.

Police are urging ticketless fans not to throng the downtown Sydney area on Wednesday night, when she is scheduled to perform at a private concert for invited guests only.

"If you don't have a ticket, stay at home," said Superintendent Mark Walton, the police commander of the city's central district. "Don't waste your time coming to town and stand out in the cold to look at a sandstone wall."

He said Lady Gaga will not be making a public appearance before or after the concert, and it will not be broadcast on live screens outside the venue.

"Parents are urged to not allow their children to attend the city if they don't have a ticket," he said in a statement Tuesday.

The American pop singer drew more than 1,000 fans to Oxford Street in downtown Sydney when she gave unscheduled performances at two gay clubs, Nevermind and ARQ, on Monday night. She let her fans know about her impromptu plans via Twitter, where she has 11.5 million followers.

Fans queued for up to seven hours to see the singer perform three songs from her latest album - "Born This Way," "The Edge of Glory" and "Judas" - at both venues.

Police are concerned that teenagers will once again come to the city with false hopes and be left to wander unsupervised, a situation that could lead to trouble.

The pop idol, who has used her music to push for gay and lesbian rights, is on an Asian tour that took her previously to Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. She arrived in Australia on Saturday.

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Days of delight

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 01:42 AM PDT

Alicia Keys has gone from minor to major star since the release of her debut 10 years ago.

MUSIC critics are invited to see burgeoning singer-songwriters almost every day. But when a request came across this writer's desk to see a young singer-songwriter at an intimate showcase 10 years ago, it carried with it high expectations.

Backed by music mogul Clive Davis, Alicia Keys was billed as a cross between Lauryn Hill and Whitney Houston, a gritty, cornrow-wearing R&B singer who was a brilliant, classically trained pianist with both a stunning voice and beauty. She was going to be big. Bigger than big. Grammy Awards and multi-platinum sales were more than hoped for, they were expected.

Keys delivered on the all hype when her debut, Songs In A Minor, was released in 2001. The album established the 20-year-old as one of the most influential artistes of her generation. Looking back, however, Keys says she did not expect the album would make her a superstar.

"This had been a lot of years of me struggling to put out any music, and there had been multiple times where we were like, 'Oh, it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen,' and it didn't. So in a lot of ways in my mind, I think maybe I was protecting myself," she recalled.

Now, the 30-year-old Keys can celebrate. The album has been re-released with special editions that include previously unreleased tracks and video footage. Keys, who married music producer Swizz Beatz and gave birth to a son last year, also performed songs from the album last Thursday in a concert at New York's Beacon Theatre.

"There are certain things you have to celebrate, like certain birthdays are more special than the others, just because they kind of represent a growth, so for me, that's what this is," she said in a phone interview last week. She talked about that milestone album and how she has evolved over the decade.

Had you been thinking about the anniversary?

I didn't even really realise it; somebody else kind of brought it up to me. ... (But) as I started thinking of it, and we started talking about it, I knew there were loads of songs from that time that I didn't put out. I didn't do anything with (them) because it wasn't right for the time, but I thought, 'How crazy would it be to go back and listen to them and figure out which were ones that I'd love people to hear.' There are songs that I did when I was 16, 17. It's really, really cool.

In the video that accompanies the re-release, you talk about how you weren't the refined girl people expected. What were the adjustments that you had to make over the years, and how have you changed?

I was straight off the streets of Harlem and Hell's Kitchen. ... I'm a real New York girl. So I think that was kind of a bit of a shock for people, especially back then, to see a real New York girl, and here I was doing all of these interviews. ... When I look back at them, I'm like, 'Damn, Alicia, you could have been a little gentler.' I just had a certain kind of roughness to me. That was just because that's the way I associated with people at the time; that's the way that I spoke. ... I remember reading a couple of things where they literally kind of criticised the way that I used my hands, or the way that I spoke, or say that I was whatever because I spoke a certain way. There were a lot of judgments, I think, that definitely made me conscious about how to start to maybe be a little bit more aware of how I was coming off ... but I'm still the same me.

How have you musically evolved?

(What) I really learned about music is that you don't understand it. That's the part about it. There really is no formula, ... it's all about a gift, it's like a moment, and you don't know when that moment is going to come. ... (Also) I've been able to be more experimental and just more open and more driven to do things that are new and different from me, because as an artiste, you just always want to do things that are like unique and new and fresh. You don't ever want someone to say, 'Oh yeah, that's that same thing that she does.' For me, I want it to always be new.

How has marriage and motherhood changed you?

It's made me so much stronger, it's made me so much more powerful. First of all, I'm having more fun than I've ever had in my whole life. I'm happier than I've ever been in my whole life. And I also realise more the importance of time, and I realise the importance of really, really making sure that you dedicate certain times to the people that you love. Back when I was younger, I was so focused on doing whatever it takes to get noticed, or getting a chance to have my music be heard by people, I didn't recognise how much time was valuable. ... It helps me make more clear and concise choices.

Do you miss your cornrows? That was your signature look.

I do miss my braids so much. ... Sometimes I'm like, 'I'm gonna throw them back in!' – AP

Alicia Keys' Songs In A Minor 10th anniversary edition is released by Sony Music.

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