Khamis, 4 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Owain Yeoman finds opportunities in LA

Posted: 05 Aug 2011 04:08 AM PDT

Owain Yeoman is the Welshman living it up in Los Angeles.

OWAIN Yeoman, from the hit TV series The Mentalist, joins a growing number of foreign actors who play American characters on American TV.

There's British actor Hugh Laurie as the grumpy Dr House, Anna Torv and John Noble, both from Australia, in the series Fringe, English heartthrob Ed Westwick in Gossip Girl, Australian star Alex O'Loughlin in Hawaii Five-0 and Yeoman's colleague in The Mentalist, Simon Baker who hails from Australia.

So convincing is Yeoman's American accent in The Mentalist that when the British actor speaks in real life, fans are often taken aback by his British accent.

"When I come back to London for meetings, people go, 'Oh, you're Welsh?' I still find that weird," the actor said at an interview in London recently.

At this point of the interview, Yeoman felt the need to teach the journalists present the correct way to pronounce his name. "If you can imagine a glass of wine and put an 'O' in front of it. I guess it's the perfect alcoholic's name! 'Oh, wine!' That's the best way to pronounce my name!"

Yeoman studied theatre at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and started his career acting in England. It wasn't his intention to move to the United States but most of the job offers seem to come from Los Angeles.

"A lot of work was either trickling down from New York or from LA, and because I do want to work in film and TV, LA is a bit of a Mecca for that. So, I'll go wherever the work is," Yeoman said.

He has since relocated to Los Angeles where The Mentalist is shot nine and a half months a year.

"The weather is nice out there and people have straight teeth," he said, half joking. "I have a great job that's doing well in the mainstream and I'm just enjoying that."

When the TV series debuted in the US three years ago, no one could have predicted its success. The Mentalist is a light-hearted, crime solving series which sees former psychic Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) assisting a group of agents from the California Bureau of Investigation in their cases.

The show clocked in a healthy 16 million viewers on a weekly basis. Yeoman has a theory for the success of The Mentalist.

He explained: "At that time a lot of serialised shows like Lost were successful. The audience had to apply their minds when watching these shows. The Mentalist, in essence, is quite a simple show and it harkens back to series like Murder She Wrote and Colombo. Those shows were on a very simple level but compelling."

With the success of the series, Yeoman is not resting on his laurels. He knows how fickle the industry is.

"I'm petrified every time I'm in front of a camera. I don't think there's a day that goes by where I'm not waiting for a knock on my door and they go, 'I'm sorry, I didn't want the Welsh actor'."

In order to stay ahead of the acting game, Yeoman continues to take acting lessons.

Brought up by a mother who was a teacher and a father who was a research scientist, Yeoman knows the importance of training and continual education.

However, he does find it disheartening that many actors in Hollywood are not trained. Instead, they turn up in La La Land and try their hand at acting because of their looks.

"There's no justice in this business!" Yeoman lamented. "However, I still believe what my dad told me, 'Good luck is the right opportunity meeting the right preparation'."

His days at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts in London are serving him well.

The acting methods he was taught in class have allowed him to break down a script and the character he is playing to fully understand the scenes he is playing.

"I guess if you didn't have that training, you'd probably be floundering."

In The Mentalist, Yeoman plays the character of Wayne Rigsby, one of the four agents from the California Bureau of Investigation who is tasked to work with the eccentric Patrick Jane. Other members in the team include Rigsby's immediate superior Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney), his good friend Kimball Cho (Tim Kang) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti, who can be seen all of 10 seconds in Captain America: The First Avenger) whom he has a crush on.

The Rigsby-Van Pelt storyline – will-they-won't-they-hook-up? – plays on for two seasons in The Mentalist (Season Three begins in September Stateside). The push-pull relationship between the two characters was a conscious decision on Yeoman's part, as he wanted his character to be as close to reality as possible.

"The (Rigsby) character was initially conceived to be a bit of a flashy type cop, the kind who slid across the hood of cars and always got the girls," he explained. "And I didn't feel it was reflective of real life. I thought it would be much more interesting to have a guy who could get the girl but just found it very difficult to articulate that. So, Rigsby is established as being slightly emotionally dyslexic."

Starring in a series with an ensemble cast can be either good or bad. You either get divas on set (we're looking at you Desperate Housewives) or, in the case of The Mentalist, everyone gets along.

"There's a great family dynamic and that's led by example by Simon. Also, we all feel that we are lucky to be able to be working in a time when the job market is very recessed and very depressed," the 33-year-old actor said.

Yeoman added that people are often surprised when they spot the cast members having dinner together outside work. Perhaps that's a rare scenario in Hollywood.

To hear Yeoman say it, the actor really does love his co-stars. He described Righetti as "easy going", Baker as "an absolute joy" and Kang as "a brother to me".

With such a happy environment on set, no wonder Yeoman is having the time of his life in Los Angeles. While most people he knows dislike the town as they find the people living there to be either fake or brash, Yeoman likes their direct attitude.

"It has become kind of trendy to dislike LA but for me, I see opportunity here. And when people say to me, 'But isn't it fake in LA?', well, the last time I checked there's fake people in London and New York. I mean just stop hanging out with fake people; it's that simple to me."

In Los Angeles, if he's not hanging out with his cast members, Yeoman can be found in the company of other British actors like Ioan Gruffudd and Matthew Rhys. They get together to watch Welsh rugby games.

Yeoman does have an issue with Los Angeles – he finds everyone there a health freak. "In LA, everyone is so healthy. They're all in bed by midnight and then they're up at 6am doing Pilates."

The healthy living has kind of rubbed off on him. In Los Angeles, Yeoman employs a personal trainer who works out with him almost daily. All the working out has also paid off for him, especially when he had to pose topless for a special Peta (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) ad in 2009.

"I worked out really hard for the ad," Yeoman remembered. The ad campaign, in which Yeoman showed off his pecs and abs, was an effort on Peta's part to highlight the cruel treatment of animals that are raised and killed for food. It goes in line with what Yeoman, a vegetarian, believes in.

"It's a cause I'm very passionate about and going to the gym a bit extra to save the lives of animals isn't a big thing for me," Yeoman said.

The success of The Mentalist has also brought more acting opportunities for Yeoman.

However, he is very selective on the projects he is offered.

It has been his mission as an actor to always try and do different projects. The last thing he wants is to be pigeonholed. Looking at his resume, Yeoman has played a variety of roles in different genre.

In the short-lived TV comedy series, Kitchen Confidential (based on celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's book), Yeoman played a sous chef; in the pilot of the sci-fi series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, he was the cyborg villain; in another short-lived TV drama, The Nine, Yeoman played a robber while in the HBO series Generation Kill, he took on the role of a marine.

"People see you and they go, 'Oh he's the cop in that show, he can do cop'. So I'm now conscious with the projects I pick during hiatus (of The Mentalist) to make sure I don't do cop. I want to do something different. A fireman, perhaps," he deadpanned.

The encore presentation of The Mentalist Season 2 airs Tuesdays at 11pm on WarnerTV (HyppTV Ch 162).

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Love dedications

Posted: 05 Aug 2011 03:56 AM PDT

Time to declare your love on air!

YOU get double the love and twice the fun when you tune in to Red FM's Late Night Love Songs with the charming Mynn and bubbly Linora every Sunday to Friday from 10pm to 1am.

Playing a variety of love songs as well as listeners' favourites, this delightful duo keeps you in good company through those late nights.

You can also send in your song requests and dedications to a loved one on Red FM's Threesome. Put in your request for three of your favourite love songs and make a dedication over the most romantic show on the radio. Share your memorable moments with Mynn and Linora and win dinner vouchers as well as movie passes for two persons all this week and next week.

Self-professed softies and romantics at heart, the lasses are passionate and determined in bringing a different take to the show with their double act.

Mynn said: "Receiving the various dedications is still one of my favourite parts of the show. My heart just melts at reading out the dedications. We feel privileged to be able to connect our listeners to that special someone in their lives; may they be a partner, a friend or a family member."

Linora added: "We also loved the interaction with our listeners on air, Facebook and Twitter. They give us constant feedback on what they want to hear and suggestions on what to play. It's such a fun show to do, especially when the callers scream with joy at winning a prize. Now that's beautiful music to our ears!"

You can call Mynn and Linora at 03-7728 1049 with your song requests and dedications. For more details on the current contests running on Red FM's Late Night Love Songs, log on to

Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page ( and follow us on Twitter (@iloveredfm) for the latest updates.

Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

Red FM's station frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1 FM; George Town and Seberang Perai: 107.6 FM; Ipoh, Perak: 106.4 FM; Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan & Tapah: 104.9 FM; Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6 FM; Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9 FM; Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8 FM.

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Work out with Jillian Michaels

Posted: 05 Aug 2011 03:50 AM PDT

For some workout pointers, check out Jillian Michaels' Workout Series.

LOOKING at her now, who would believe that Jillian Michaels was once an overweight teenager. The personal trainer from Los Angeles who is widely known for her appearances on The Biggest Loser and Losing It With Jillian now has a new series on Li, Life Inspired, which shows you the most effective way to stay fit.

There are not many women in your line of work. What made you decide to become a trainer?

I was an overweight kid and martial arts transformed me psychologically as well as physically. It's from that experience that I developed a passion for utilising fitness to transform every aspect of people's health and lives.

It was reported that you have a fear of running a marathon. Do you mind telling us why?

I hate running, but the thought of running 26 miles in a shot is terrifying to me. It feels like the kind of thing you start, that is excruciating, and seems to have no end. With that said, I hope at one point in my life to conquer it and run the LA marathon.

What do you think is the best time of the day to workout?

Honestly, whenever you can fit it in. So many of us are pressed for time so whenever you can workout is the right time. That said, make sure you don't work out on an empty stomach. Try to eat a little something about an hour before you train.

What are your biggest difficulties in encouraging people to train or losing weight? Where do you get the inspiration for your motivational techniques?

My style and approach is a hybrid of tough love from my martial arts background and self exploration from years of therapy (my mother was a therapist and had me in therapy since age five). I think the hardest part for most people is the belief in their ability to accomplish the task at hand. That's one of the reasons fitness can be so transformational. It proves to people how strong they really are and what their potential is.

What sort of exercises and goals do you focus on in your new series, Jillian Michaels' Workout Series?

I incorporate a lot of body weight training like squats, lunges, push-ups, etc. I also work with HIIT (high intensity interval training) like jumping jacks and mountain climbers. And I do all my workouts in a circuit training style (no rest in between exercises). My goal is to help people get as lean as possible as fast as possible in a healthy way.

As a professional trainer, what is your biggest guilty pleasure? Do things like dessert ever tempt you anymore?

I incorporate 200 calories of a treat food into my diet every day. It can range from a glass of wine to a scoop of ice cream, but no matter what I have it's always organic and natural. For example, I'll have organic dark chocolate, but not a Snickers bar.

Have you ever struggled with your weight? How did you make the decision to change?

Absolutely. I was an overweight teenager, from childhood into my early teen years, about age 14. My mother had the insight to get me into martial arts. That was the catalyst for me to make that transformation into health and wellness, using it as a means to change my life. But it's consistently a struggle and I'm sure it will be until the day I die. Every day you wake up and you make a commitment: Are you going to be self-destructive or are you going to commit yourself to positive change?

Martial arts was really the beginning for me of core training. Also, martial arts helped me understand the importance of intensity in my training – of focus, discipline, using my body weight as resistance like push-ups, pull-ups, squats. Intervals, bursts of energy. The ability to overcome pain. It's pretty much the foundation of my (fitness philosophy).

When you're short on time in the gym, what are your go-to moves? How much time is enough spent on cardio, and what is a good ratio of cardio vs strength training?

I always like to use moves that I call hybrid or combination lifts, which work multiple muscle groups at a time. A lunge with a bicep curl. Or rows in a plank position. A squat and a press. Anything with upper and lower body in it is a great way to go.

Cardio is the bread and butter of weight loss. You could do hours upon hours – we have contestants that do four hours a day of cardio. But I never let them do more than four hours of strength a week. That would be overtraining – your muscles never have a chance to heal.

I would say no more four to five hours of resistance training a week. Two times a week is ideal (for a single muscle group.) If you don't have weight to lose, make sure you're balancing out your cardio with calories (if someone told me she was doing two hours of cardio a day, I'd say make sure you're taking in an extra 500 calories.) But if you have a lot of weigh to lose, you can do as much cardio as you want. It's not realistic at all, but it is possible.

So what do you tell people who know all about healthy living but can't actually get up from the couch or make time for it?

The action begins when you take the steps. Then you are saying, 'I'm worth it'. Saying 'I can't' is where the craziness comes from. Yes, you are strong. Yes, you are powerful. Yes, you are capable. Whenever you put that energy into the universe, it will all fall in place.

So you'd say that people shouldn't do all the emotional, self-esteem work first and then start working out?

I think you should write down what you want for your life, bring intention to your motivation. That way you can ask yourself, 'Do I want the donut or do I want to look good at my high school reunion?' I am not a believer in willpower but you can ask yourself those kinds of questions. But then, you've got to put it into action.

The fear of success is directly related to the fear of failure. You'll ask yourself, 'What will I do next? What will be expected of me next? Will I be able to live up to it?' It is the same as fearing you will fail.

The truth of success is that successful people fail all the time. You just have to get back up and try again. It's about getting stronger and more comfortable with yourself. It's about knowing you can withstand the failure. That's what fitness is about, too. It is about knowing you're strong enough to move on from failure.

There's never a moment when I'm lifting a weight or doing a push-up when I'm like 'I love this!' But I think about why I do it. We're a constant work in progress. There's not a finish line. You have to be patient with yourself. It is about making small changes and one day, you wake up and your 50, 80, 180 pounds down. Life is not 50 pounds from now. Life is RIGHT NOW. You are HERE. – Life Inspired

Jillian Michaels' Workout Series premieres on Li (Astro channel 706) tomorrow at 8am.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Europe's oldest person dies in Italy at 114

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:05 PM PDT

ROME (Reuters) - Europe's oldest citizen died in Verona, Italy on Thursday at 114.

Venere Pizzinato was born on Nov. 23, 1896, in Ala, a small town near the northern Italian city of Trento, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Last year, at 114 and five days, Pizzinato, who never had children, became the oldest Italian of all time and at the time of her death she was the third oldest person in the world.

The world's oldest two living people, Besse Cooper of the United States and Chiyono Hasegawa from Japan, are also 114.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano expressed his condolences.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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U.S. polygamist leader guilty of child sex assault

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:05 PM PDT

SAN ANGELO, Texas (Reuters) - U.S. polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who heads a breakaway Mormon sect, was found guilty on Thursday of child sexual assault for his "spiritual marriages" to two underage girls.

A Texas jury convicted the 55-year-old Jeffs of child sexual assault and aggravated child sexual assault over his relationships with the girls, ages 12 and 14, at his sect's Texas ranch. He faces up to 119 years in prison.

Jeffs is considered the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and has argued in outbursts that the Texas court was trampling on his religious rights by trying the case.

The polygamist sect, which experts estimate has 10,000 followers in North America, has been condemned by the mainstream Mormon Church and is accused of promoting marriages between older men and girls.

"This is taking down the head of the snake," former sect member Flora Jessop said of the verdict, handed down after about three hours of deliberations.

Throughout his trial Jeffs repeatedly said that his religion was being attacked, a notion rejected by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office prosecuted the case.

"What was on trial here wasn't anybody's faith, wasn't a church, wasn't a concept," Abbott told reporters after the verdict outside the county courthouse in San Angelo.

"There was only one thing on trial here, and that was Warren Jeffs and his actions to sexually assault two young girls. Our job is to prosecute crimes like that, and not to engage in religious persecution."

Abbott said he expected the punishment phase of Jeffs' trial to take several days.


Assistant Texas Attorney General Eric Nichols took seven days to put together a case against the self-proclaimed "prophet and elect of God" of his FLDS sect, which says plural marriage is the pathway to heaven.

Among the evidence used to convict Jeffs was a picture of him passionately kissing the younger girl, and DNA evidence that he fathered a child with the 14-year-old.

Prosecutors also presented a scratchy audio recording of what they said was Jeffs raping the younger girl.

Jeffs, in what was to have been his closing argument, simply stood silently in the courtroom for more than 20 minutes before quietly saying: "I am at peace." He then sat down.

Jessop, a former sect member who ran away from a forced marriage to a much older cousin, said the church would go on despite Jeffs' conviction but she hoped some followers would get out.

"Maybe they will think now about the types of crimes that he (Jeffs) has committed," she said.

Jeffs had represented himself after firing his attorneys. He called as a witness one of the followers of his religion and questioned him for over four hours about the Book of Mormon and FLDS beliefs concerning plural marriage.

State District Judge Barbara Walther ultimately halted Jeffs' presentation, saying it was irrelevant to the charges.

Jeffs' sister Elaine, who grew up in the FLDS church as the daughter of long-time "prophet" Rulon Jeffs but has left the community, said she was not surprised by her brothers' defense.

"He has not said one word in defense of the assault charges," Elaine Jeffs said outside the courthouse.

Jeffs is also awaiting trial on a charge of bigamy, which is a felony in Texas. That case is expected in October.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Clinton urges al Shabaab to fight Somalia famine

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:05 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday called on al Shabaab militant Islamists to allow food aid into famine-hit areas of Somalia and said aid agencies would not be penalized if some of their assistance inadvertently ends up in militant hands.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media at the U.S. State Department in Washington, August 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)

Clinton accused al Shabaab, which controls large parts of the Horn of Africa country, of deliberately blocking emergency food supplies to some of the 3.7 million people in urgent need of assistance.

"It is particularly tragic that during the holy month of Ramadan, al Shabaab are preventing assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Somalia," Clinton said in remarks with the visiting Canadian foreign minister.

"I call on al Shabaab to allow assistance to be delivered in an absolutely unfettered way throughout the area that they currently control so that as many lives as possible can be saved," she said.

Clinton said a U.S. team lead by Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and including U.S. Agency for International Development chief Rajiv Shah would visit Kenya this weekend to assess a food crisis which affects more than 12 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.

Washington this week announced it was relaxing anti-terrorism rules that had threatened aid agencies working in areas controlled by al Shabaab, which is on the official U.S. blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations.


The new guidelines say agencies will not be penalized if their operations "accidentally benefit al-Shabaab." They are aimed at speeding the flow of aid into the hardest hit southern regions of Somalia.

Concerns over possible diversion of relief supplies to al Shabaab prompted a number of international aid organizations to suspend programs in southern Somalia in January 2010 and continue to constrain aid work.

Al Shabaab has given conflicting signals about whether aid programs will be allowed to resume, but the U.S. officials said they believed that at least in some areas it would be possible to get assistance in.

The United Nations' humanitarian aid chief said on Monday the famine in the Horn of Africa is spreading and may soon engulf as many as six more regions of Somalia.

"There is more than enough work for the international community to do to help save lives without even having to worry about the al Shabaab-controlled areas," Clinton said, adding that the United States had earmarked some $500 million for famine relief efforts.

"We are working with a lot of the U.N. and multilateral organizations, as well as the NGOs, to try to better organize to deliver the foodstuffs that are necessary," Clinton said.

Clinton said the United States had adjusted its guidelines despite evidence that al Shabaab imposes taxes on those trying to bring food assistance in and sometimes kidnaps aid workers for ransom.

"Unfortunately the situation calls for us to offer some room for more maneuverability in trying to get the food in," Clinton said. "The best way to get food into those areas is for al Shabaab to actually care about the people under their control."

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Monfils beats Sweeting; to play 2nd match later

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 05:06 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (AP): A traditional backhand probably would have sufficed. Instead, Gael Monfils opted for something worthy of a highlight reel, spinning and wrapping his racket around his body for a behind-the-back shot that somehow cleared the net.

Alas, Monfils lost the point seconds later by missing a regular old forehand. Still, that was only a minor blip in a dominant performance Thursday. Finally on court at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, the top-seeded Monfils hit 17 aces and beat 66th-ranked Ryan Sweeting of the United States 6-3, 7-6 (3) in a match postponed a day because of rain.

Monfils' usual entertaining brand of tennis drew kudos from Sweeting. "I laughed a little bit today. He hit some great shots," Sweeting said, then clarified that his chuckles came "out of respect."

"He hit a shot behind his back. He jumped 10 feet in the air," Sweeting said. "He's just so athletic. I was laughing because it's just amazing."

Monfils was broken only once and won 39 of 47 points on his first serve. He helped himself by delivering at least one ace in 10 of his 11 service games. And he didn't do it with overpowering speed, staying generally around 120 mph.

It was the Frenchman's first match at Washington's hard-court U.S. Open tuneup since 2007, when he reached the semifinals.

Because rain wiped out half of Wednesday's schedule, Monfils was slated to play again about six hours later Thursday, facing 15th-seeded Dmitry Tursunov of Russia in the third round. They both received first-round byes, as did all 16 seeded players.

Tursunov beat Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-1, 6-4 Thursday.

In other early results, 10th-seeded Michael Llodra of France quit because of sore ribs while trailing Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 4-3.

Llodra joins a growing list of seeded players who either stopped playing - No. 4 Jurgen Melzer and No. 14 Xavier Malisse - or never played a point - Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Fernando Gonzalez - at the tournament, citing injuries.

Also Thursday, No. 7-seeded Marcos Baghdatis, last year's runner-up in Washington, beat Somdev Devvarman 6-2, 0-6, 7-5, and was scheduled to play No. 12 Thomaz Bleach, who eliminated Tommy Haas 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3.

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Woods off to strong start at Bridgestone with 68

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 05:04 PM PDT

AKRON, Ohio (AP): Tiger Woods said his left knee felt as strong as he thought it was. His game didn't look bad either.

Playing for the first time in nearly three months, Woods made a strong opening statement Thursday that his health is no longer an issue by going after any shot from any lie in a round of 2-under 68 at the Bridgestone Invitational.

"It feels great," Woods said. "As anybody who's been off and who's been injured, first time back it's a little nervous to see what happens. But my practice sessions were good, so there's no reason why I should be worried out there. I went out there and let it go, let it rip, and see what happens."

His ex-caddie saw the kind of golf he was used to seeing at Firestone, too.

Steve Williams, now working permanently for Adam Scott after Woods fired him a month ago, watched the Australian play flawlessly in matching his career-low round with a 62 that gave Scott a one-shot lead.

Williams was on the bag for all seven of Woods' wins at Firestone, including his record score of 259 when he won by 11 shots in 2000. "He didn't think it was a big deal to shoot 62," Scott said. "It was normal."

Woods, who last completed a round at the Masters, had his lowest opening round of the year. Considering the soft conditions, it only was worth a tie for 18th, six shots out of the lead.

With an overcast sky in the morning and barely any wind throughout the steamy afternoon, half of the 78-man field at this World Golf Championship broke par.

Jason Day, who tied for second with Scott at the Masters, shot a 63 in the morning. Nick Watney, a World Golf Championship winner at Doral this year, bogeyed the last hole and still had a 65.

Woods at least got himself pointed in the right direction. Playing in soft spikes for the first time, and going back to the putter that he used in 13 of his major championships, Woods avoided a poor start by making an 18-foot par putt on the third, and he saved his round toward the end of the front nine by getting up-and-down from a bunker on the eighth, and making a 20-foot par putt on the ninth.

Then came his approach on the 10th, that spun out of the back fringe and settled about 4 feet away for birdie - not only his first of the day, but his first since he two-putted for birdie form 4 feet on the 15th hole at the Masters on April 10.

Woods injured a knee ligament and his Achilles' tendon in that tournament, and then said he returned too early at The Players Championship. He aggravated the injuries on the first hole at the TPC Sawgrass and quit after nine holes at 6-over par. He said he would not play again until he was fully healthy, and that much showed at Firestone.

There was one moment on the 17th tee when a reporter thought he saw Woods left his left leg in a peculiar fashion.

"The marker was right in my way," Woods said with a grin.

Perhaps more telling is that Woods said he stopped putting ice on his leg and taking inflammatory medicine "a while ago," and held nothing back in his first competitive round in 84 days.

"I hadn't really gone at it yet until today," he said. "Just kind of plodding away, just kind of hitting shots. Today was just, 'Let's go, let's go play, just put everything else aside and let's go give it a go and try to post a low number."

His lone bogey came on the 14th hole, when he tried to hit a perfect bunker shot from a slightly downhill lie with the green running away from him. He came inches short of pulling it off, leaning back in disbelief. He two-putted from the collar for bogey, and then came back two holes later with a shot that showed he might already be at full strength.

From the right rough on the par-5 16th, blocked by trees, Woods went after a 3-wood and cut short his backswing as he tried to fade it around the trees. It went farther than he expected, and while his approach was 30 feet long, he holed the birdie putt, raising the putter in his left hand when it dropped in the center of the cup.

The only problem he had was controlling his distance, and Woods had a reason for that, too.

"I'm hitting it just so much more flush, and I'm just not used to that," he said. Does that mean he was hitting it badly before?

"Yeah," he said. "My swing was more of a wipey swing ... so I wasn't getting a full transfer of energy. Now I'm swinging easier. I'm not even hitting it hard yet, and that's what's fun. I'm hitting it farther without any more effort."

It took great effort to get atop the leaderboard.

Day went out early and posted a bogey-free round of 63, making birdie on the last hole. No one else from the morning group was better than a 66. And then it was Scott's turn in the afternoon.

He thought 63 was a pretty low score for this South course, but then figured it was there for the taking with so many other scores in the 60s.

"I just feel like I need to get myself in these things from Thursday, show up and go, not show up and see how you get on the first nine," Scott said. "I feel like that's a good way for me to go because I'm hitting the ball well, and I feel really confident on the greens. It was green light and just attack."

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Top-seeded Zvonareva beats Dushevina at Carlsbad

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 05:02 PM PDT

CARLSBAD, California (AP): Top-seeded Vera Zvonareva beat fellow Russian Vera Dushevina 6-3, 6-0 Thursday as the top five seeds advanced at the Mercury Insurance Open.

The third-ranked Zvonareva moved into a quarterfinal against the winner of the night match between No. 12-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany and American teenager Coco Vandeweghe.

"I think I started off a little slow but then I think I picked it up and it was a little bit better, a little bit cleaner than the previous one," Zvonareva said.

Second-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany and third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland also advanced to the quarterfinals with quick victories.

With the score level at 2-all, Petkovic won seven straight games to win the first set 6-2 and jump ahead 3-0 in the second when France's Virginia Razzano retired with a right shoulder injury.

Radwanska dispatched one of the three remaining American teenagers with a 6-1, 6-0 win over 19-year-old Christina McHale.

Fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic set up a quarterfinal against No. 4 Peng Shuai with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Italy's Alberta Brianti. Peng had to come from a set down and rally from a 1-3 hole in the third set to beat 16th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7).

Daniela Hantuchova, the No. 8 seed from Slovakia, beat Zheng Jie of China, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

In the only match not involving a seeded player, U.S. teenager Sloane Stephens had set point at 5-3 when Tamira Paszek of Austria retired with a left abdominal injury.

Radwanska, the runner-up here last year, saw improvement over her opening-round match when she was pushed to a tiebreaker in a straight- set win over Elena Baltacha of Britain.

"I was very happy with my performance," Radwanska said. "I think I played much better than the first match. Everything was working." Petkovic was sailing through her match when Razzano pulled out with her injury.

"The first two games I think we were both playing really well," Petkovic said. "I managed to hold onto that level and I don't know if was her injured shoulder or neck, but afterward she dropped her level. I managed to stay at the top level."

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Dow falls 512 in steepest decline since '08 crisis(update)

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:44 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Gripped by fear of a new recession, the stock market suffered its worst day Thursday since the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 500 points, its ninth-steepest decline.

The sell-off wiped out the Dow's remaining gains for 2011. It put the Dow and broader stock indexes into what investors call a correction - down 10 percent from their highs in the spring.

"We are continuing to be bombarded by worries about the global economy," said Bill Stone, the chief investment strategist for PNC Financial.

Across the financial markets, the day was reminiscent of the wild swings that defined the financial crisis in September and October three years ago. Gold prices briefly hit a record high. Oil fell even more than stocks - 6 percent, or $5.30 a barrel. And frightened investors were so desperate to get into some government bonds that they were willing accept almost no return on their money.

It was the most alarming day yet in the almost uninterrupted selling that has swept Wall Street for two weeks. The Dow has lost more than 1,300 points, or 10.5 percent. By one broad measure kept by Dow Jones, almost $1.9 trillion in market value has disappeared.

For the day, the Dow closed down 512.76 points, at 11,383.68. It was the steepest point decline since Dec. 1, 2008.

Thursday's decline was the ninth-worst by points for the Dow. In percentage terms, the decline of 4.3 percent does not rank among the worst. On Black Monday in 1987, for example, the Dow fell 22 percent.

Two weeks ago, investors appeared worried about the deadlocked negotiations in Washington over raising the ceiling on government debt. As soon as the ceiling was raised, investors focused on the economy, and the selling accelerated.

On Thursday, growing fear about the weakening U.S. economy was joined by concern in Europe that the troubled economies of Italy and Spain might need help from the European Union.

The European Union has already given financial assistance to Greece and Ireland, two countries that have struggled to pay their debts. A financial rescue package for Italy or Spain might be more than the group of countries can handle.

Traders also unloaded stocks before Friday's release of the government's unemployment report for July, which is expected to show weak job growth and perhaps a rise in the unemployment rate, which is 9.2 percent.

Together, they produced "a perfect storm of selling," said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading for RBC Global Asset Management.

Until a week ago, Wall Street had mostly convinced itself that the U.S. economy would improve in the second half of the year. Gas prices were falling, and Japanese factories were resuming production after disruptions from the March earthquake.

Then one report after another began to show that the economy was much weaker than first thought.

Manufacturing is barely growing. The service sector, which covers about 90 percent of the American work force, is growing at the slowest rate in a year and a half. People spent less in June than in May, the first decline since September 2009.

And the overall economy is expanding at the slowest pace since the end of the Great Recession. It grew at an annual rate of just 0.8 percent for the first six months of this year, raising the risk of another recession.

In an indication of how frightened investors are, Bank of New York Mellon said it would start charging large investors to hold their cash because they are depositing so much. The bank's clients include pension funds and large investment houses that are selling stock and need to deposit the proceeds.

Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist for Janney Montgomery Scott, an investment firm in Philadelphia, said his clients saw the move from stocks into cash as "a parking lot to sort things out."

"With the scars of 2008 still fresh," he said, "some clients don't want to miss the chance to pre-empt further damage should it come."

Wells Fargo Advisers, a financial management company in St. Louis, said clients were more nervous.

"I wouldn't say they're totally panicking. But obviously nerves are rattled," said Scott Marcouiller, chief technical market strategist there. "And I think that is simply because of the speed of the decline."

Other market indicators reinforced the risk-averse mood. Gold, which is seen as a safe investment when the stock market is turbulent, set a record price, $1,684.90 an ounce, before falling to finish the day at $1,659. Adjusted for inflation, gold is still far below the record reached in 1980.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.42 percent, its lowest of the year, and the yield on the 2-year Treasury note hit its lowest ever, 0.265 percent. Bond yields fall when demand for bonds increases.

The yield on the one-month Treasury bill fell to almost nothing - 0.008 percent. Investors were willing to accept paltry returns in exchange for holding investments they believed to be stable.

The sell-off was broad. All 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell. Energy companies lost almost 7 percent, materials companies were down 6.6 percent, and industrial companies lost more than 5 percent.

For a time, Kraft Foods was the only stock to rise among the 30 that make up the Dow industrials. Kraft announced Thursday that it would split in two, with one company focusing on snacks and the other groceries. But the selling eventually dragged Kraft under, too, and its stock finished down 52 cents, at $33.78.

Steep stock market losses like the ones of the past two weeks can be self-reinforcing. A drop in stocks erodes household wealth and raises doubts about the economic outlook.

The result can be what economists call a vicious cycle. Stock losses take a toll on consumer confidence and make people more reluctant to spend money. Consumer spending makes up 70 percent of economic output in the United States.

Kevin Cook, senior stock strategist for Zacks Investment Research in Chicago, said investors' worst fears probably won't come true.

"This is not 2008 again," he said. "We don't have a liquidity crisis, we don't have a credit crisis - this is just profit taking."

Cook said he believes the S&P 500, which closed Thursday at 1,200.07, will trade between 1,150 and 1,250 between now and Oct. 1, at least until investors have enough information to determine whether the economy is in recession again.

Even taking into account the recent declines, stocks are still considered to be in an impressive bull market that began March 9, 2009, when the market reached its recession low.

The Dow closed that day at 6,547. Since then, it is up about 74 percent.

One year ago, the Dow closed at 10,680. About a month later, the stock market began a rally that took the Dow almost to 13,000. The catalyst was an announcement by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the Fed was preparing to launch a program to buy $600 billion in government bonds to keep interest rates low and help stocks rally.

The sell-off now comes at a time when corporate profits are growing. For the S&P 500, a measure called the forward price-to-earnings ratio has fallen to about 12, well below its long-term average of 16. That means that investors who buy now are paying less for each dollar in profits.

Based on what an investor now pays for corporate profits, stocks are now trading at their lowest levels in 20 years, said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer of Burns Advisory Group in Oklahoma City.

But few companies were spared in the sell-off Thursday. Just three of the 500 stocks in the S&P 500 moved higher. General Motors fell 4 percent despite beating analyst estimates for its quarterly earnings. - AP

Here's a look at the Dow's 10 worst days since 1899:

By percent decline:

- Oct. 19, 1987: 22.6 percent, or 508 points

- Oct. 28, 1929: 12.8 percent, or 38 points

- Oct. 29, 1929: 11.7 percent, or 31 points

- Nov. 6, 1929: 9.9 percent, or 26 points

- Dec. 18, 1899: 8.7 percent, or 6 points

- Aug. 12, 1932: 8.4 percent, or 6 points

- March 14, 1907: 8.3 percent, or 7 points

- Oct. 26, 1987: 8 percent, or 157 points

- Oct. 15, 2008: 7.9 percent, or 733 points

- July 21, 1933: 7.8 percent, or 8 points

By points:

- Sept. 29, 2008: 778 points, or 7 percent

- Oct. 15, 2008: 733 points, or 7.9 percent

- Sept. 17, 2001: 685 points, or 7.1 percent

- Dec. 1, 2008: 680 points, or 7.7 percent

- Oct. 9, 2008: 679 points, or 7.3 percent

- April 14, 2000: 618 points, or 5.7 percent

- Oct. 27, 1997: 554 points, or 7.2 percent

- Oct. 22, 2008: 514 points, or 5.7 percent

- Aug. 4, 2011: 513 points, or 4.3 percent

- Aug. 31, 1998: 513 points, or 6.4 percent

Source: Dow Jones Indexes, a division of CME Group Inc.

Meanwhile AP repored from London: Fears that the U.S. economy may be heading back into recession and that Italy and Spain won't be able to deal with their debts battered stocks, the euro and oil prices Thursday.

The selling pressure in stock markets accentuated through the day as investors fretted over the U.S. economic recovery, a day before crucial non-farm payrolls for July, which often set the tone in markets for a week or two after their release.

Investors, already fidgety after the protracted U.S. debt deliberations, and worries that Italy and Spain are getting deeply embroiled in Europe's debt crisis, searched for assets considered safer, such as gold.

"$2.3 trillion of value wiped off equities worldwide over a handful of days and the cost is still rising," said Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners.

In Europe, most markets shed more than 3 percent of their value.

Of the major markets, France's CAC-40 tumbled 3.9 percent to 3,320.35.

Germany's DAX tumbled 3.4 percent to 6,414.76.

Britain's FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended 3.4 percent lower at 5,393.14.

Among major stock markets, only Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index actually traded up 0.2 percent to 9,659.18 after the Bank of Japan intervened to sell the yen and buy the dollar.

That drove the dollar above 80 yen Thursday for a brief while from 76.99 late Wednesday. By late afternoon London, the dollar was 2.4 percent firmer at 78.97 yen.

Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said financial authorities decided to intervene in the currency markets because the strong yen could hurt the country's export-dependent economy and slow its efforts to recover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The dollar had fallen as low as 76.29 yen on Monday. It hit a record post-World War II low of 76.25 yen in the days following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

A strong yen is painful for Japan because it reduces the value of foreign earnings for companies like Toyota Motor Corp. and Nintendo Co. and makes Japanese goods more expensive in overseas markets.

The intervention was coupled with monetary policy easing by the central bank's board. The bank expanded an asset purchase program to 50 trillion yen ($638.3 billion) from 40 trillion yen. It also kept its key interest rate in a range of zero to 0.1 percent.

Japan's moves came only a day after the Swiss National Bank intervened to slow a rise in the Swiss franc, another currency perceived as a save-haven at a time investors are fleeing risky assets such as shaky European government bonds.

Investors have been looking for safe havens to park their cash after figures earlier this week pointed to a dangerous slowdown in the U.S. economy at a time when Europe's debt problems appear to be engulfing big economies like Italy and Spain.

Yields on Spanish and Italian bonds stabilized Thursday, still much higher than just a month ago but further away from the 7-percent level generally seen as a nation's breaking point. The yield, or interest rate, of Italian 10-year bonds was 6.19 percent, while its Spanish equivalents were at 6.21 percent.

The rise in the yields of both Italian and Spanish bonds came despite indications that the European Central Bank intervened in the markets to prop up their bonds.

Questions about the bond-buying program, left unused for four months, dominated Trichet's news conference following Thursday's widely anticipated decision to leave the ECB's main interest rate unchanged at 1.5 percent.

Trichet left open the possibility of reopening the bond-purchase program but appeared determined to keep market traders off-balance about the bank's actual intentions.

"I never said it was dormant," he said, adding that the bank would reveal any purchases at the regular Monday disclosure.

"You will see what we do," he said. "If we intervene, we intervene, and we will publish the amount of what we have done."

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.5 percent to 21,884.74 while China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.2 percent to 2,684.04.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi dropped 2.3 percent to 2,018.47.

Worries over the global recovery hit oil prices hard too. Benchmark oil for September delivery was down $3.37 at $88.56 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In Kuala Lumpur Bernama reported that Bursa Malaysia were sharply lower this morning(Friday) after the massive sell-off of shares in Asian markets and overnight Wall Street, dealers said.

Dealers said investors fled equities market in favour of safe haven assets in view of the wide spreading European debt crisis and gloomy global economic outlook. As at 9.12 am, the benchmark FBM KLCI erased 31.73 points to 1,515.16 after opening 16.95 points lower at 1,529.94.

The Finance Index wiped out 347.59 points to 14,413.26, Plantation Index slipped 162.21 points to 7,576.24 and Industrial Index decreased 51.74 points to 2,753.31.

The FBM Emas Index gave up 226.271 points to 10,453.88, FBM Ace Index fell 143.51 points to 4,072.98 and FBM Mid 70 Index eroded 267.31 points to 11,581.19.

Losers outnumbered gainers 580 to 12 with 56 counters unchanged, 851 untraded and 35 others suspended. Turnover stood at 144.7 million shares worth RM175 million.

Actives, Karambunai Corp slipped half-a-sen to 16.5 sen, Sanichi Technology eased 1.5 sen to nine sen, Axiata Group fell two sen to RM5.05 and Malaysia Building Society-warrant 11/16 dropped 4.5 sen to 75.5 sen.

Heavyweights, Maybank lost 18 sen to RM8.67, CIMB dipped 13 sen to RM8.27, Petronas Chemicals slipped 20 sen to RM6.71 and Petronas Gas fell 40 sen to RM12.94. - AP/Bernama

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Democrats warn jobless could derail US recovery

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:29 PM PDT

WASHINGTON: U.S. unemployment remains stubbornly high at just over 9 percent, but it's the alarming number of long-term jobless people that is causing fresh concern for Democratic lawmakers.

About 42 percent of the nation's 14.1 million unemployed have been out of work for at least six months, and nearly one in three has been jobless more than a year. Those numbers - still near record levels set last year - could be a sign of chronic labor market problems that could derail any lasting economic recovery, according to a report Thursday from Congress' Joint Economic Committee.

Many of these workers suffer because their skill sets no longer fit the needs of employers, the report found. It suggests more investment in job search and training programs would help the long-term unemployed find new work.

The group includes disproportionately high rates for workers 55 and older, those with only a high school degree, workers in construction or manufacturing, and African American workers.

"This report makes clear that policymakers will need to simultaneously spur job creation while also investing in education and training programs that can prepare workers for new employment opportunities," said Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, the committee's chairman.

But while Democrats, labor unions and even business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have called on the government to invest more money to stimulate job growth, Republicans intent on cutting federal spending have resisted such calls.

"The problem that we must address is that our businesses simply aren't hiring," said Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the Committee. He said the administration should foster an environment that encourages business to invest, which would lead to the creation of new jobs.

The report comes a day before the government releases July employment figures. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent last month - the highest level of the year - and is expected to remain unchanged.

Democrats say there's is a growing urgency to the problem of persistent long-term unemployment, as people out of work are less likely to find a job the longer they are unemployed.

Among those unemployed for longer than one year, only 8.7 percent were able to find work, according to recent 12-month statistics from the Bureau of Labor statistics.

Long-term unemployment is currently at 4.1 percent of the labor force, down only slightly from a record 4.4 percent in May 2010. Before the recession began in 2007, it stood at less than 1 percent.

"Scars on the labor force caused by a severe recession can cause a permanent rise in unemployment," the report said. "Investing in work force training programs can help unemployed workers improve their job prospects." - AP

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Italy probing rating agencies

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:28 PM PDT

ROME: Italian prosecutors are investigating two leading credit rating agencies after consumer groups complained about turbulence on financial markets, officials said Thursday.

Recent reports and rating decisions issued by Moody's and Standard & Poors were tantamount to "failing" Italy even before the government could complete austerity moves meant to boost the nation's reputation in the markets "and while the markets were open," prosecutor Carlo Maria Capristo told Italian broadcaster Sky TG24 TV.

Investigators seized documents in offices of both firms, prosecutors said during a televised news conference.

The probe began months ago, spurred by contentions from Italian consumer groups that unjustifiably pessimistic rating reports were causing Italian stocks to tank. Prosecutors must begin a probe after such complaints.

The two agencies had issued warnings of possible downgrades amid fears that the eurozone's third-largest economy could be caught up in the European debt crisis.

Instead, a third agency, Fitch Ratings, said last month that Italy's package of austerity measures, approved by Parliament in July, would help stabilize the government's finances and its credit rating.

Three analysts from S&P and one from Moody's are under investigation, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The ratings agencies "have lost all credibility," Elio Lannutti, head of the Adusbef consumer group told Sky TV at the news conference.

Moody's said in a statement it is cooperating with authorities. "Moody's takes its responsibilities surrounding the dissemination of market sensitive information very seriously," it added.

Standard & Poors said the accusations were unfounded.

"S&P considers the allegations being investigated are without any merit. We will vigorously defend our actions, our reputation and that of our analysts," said a statement from the ratings agency.

Calls to offices of Trani prosecutors and police went unanswered Thursday evening.

The Italian stock market watchdog, Consob, declined to comment on the investigation.

Thursday saw strong turbulence on Italy's main stock exchange in Milan, where the FTSE MIB benchmark index ended down 5.16 percent amid fears that the eurozone's debt crisis might eventually spread to Italy.

Trading had begun with a rise, of 1.2 percent, a day after Premier Silvio Berlusconi - in a much awaited speech to lawmakers - proclaimed Italy's economic foundations "solid." He also maintained that the recently approved austerity measures were sufficient to help rein in public debt. - AP

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Hasan Ali backs JAIS raid on church

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:46 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Selangor state exco member Datuk Hasan Ali of PAS has defended Wednesday night's raid by the State Religious Department (JAIS) on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church.

"We found evidence of proselytisation towards Muslims," he said in a statement Thursday.

"We carried out the raid after receiving information that there were Muslims who attended a breaking-of-fast event at the church.

"In the early part of the event, a person was quoted saying the words 'Quran' and 'pray' in the speech," he added.

It was reported earlier Thursday that JAIS officials, accompanied by police, had raided the church during a thanksgiving dinner being held at its rented premises over suspicion that Muslims were present.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim expressed regret over the incident and has asked JAIS for a full report.

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Church raid: BN leaders rap S'gor govt

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:04 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional leaders have rapped Selangor Pakatan Rakyat over the raid at a church here by the State Religious Department (JAIS).

They said the Wednesday night raid at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church, over suspicion that Muslims were present at a dinner held there, was high-handed and unjustified.

MCA leaders have demanded an apology from JAIS and the state exco member in charge of religion, Datuk Dr Hasan Ali of PAS.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the raid was uncalled for and disrespectful.

"Even if there were suspicions or complaints, the JAIS enforcement officers should have waited until the event was over.

"JAIS should apologise for rudely intruding at the function, which was held in the spirit of 1Malaysia," said Dr Chua in a statement here Thursday.

"The department, which comes under the charge of PAS exco member Datuk Dr Hassan Ali, has a lot of explaining to do.

"He should apologise for the department's encroachment into the church premises and poor handling of the situation," he added.

"MCA will not tolerate such harassment on activities within the church compound and disciplinary action should be taken against overzealous officers who acted without taking into consideration the sensitivities of other religions," Dr Chua said.

MCA Youth chief Datuk Wee Ka Siong, who noted that JAIS was under the jurisdiction of the Selangor government, tweeted: "The MB (Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim) and exco (executive councillor) Hassan should be responsible for this incident."

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said the Selangor government must explain why the Damansara Utama Methodist Church was raided, saying that the action was inappropriate.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders, however, countered the attacks, saying that while JAIS was under the jurisdiction of the Selangor government, it operated independently and was co-ordinated by Jakim (the Islamic Advancement Department of Malaysia).

PKR vice-president Tian Chua said: "We hope this intolerance will stop."

PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub said JAIS must give a reason why the church raided, adding that "it's important to clear the air at this stage."

The Thanksgiving dinner, being held in the spirit of 1Malaysia, was interrupted by the presence of the JAIS officers.

It is learnt that there were about 120 people from all walks of life present in the hall at the time.

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Church disappointed at JAIS action

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:04 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The Damansara Utama Methodist Church has called on all Malaysians to lend support and object to what it called the authorities' breach of their constitutional right to assemble freely, after it was raided by State Religious Department (JAIS) officials and the police Wednesday night.

In a statement Thursday, the church's senior pastor Daniel Ho related how a group of 20 to 30 officials entered its rented premises at the Dream Centre in Petaling Jaya without a warrant and intimidated invited guests, including Muslims, at its private dinner celebration.

"At 10pm, a large group of between 20 and 30 JAIS officials and police officers, some in uniform and many in plain clothes, entered the premises of Dream Centre without a warrant," Ho said.

"They entered the hall where the dinner was taking place and started taking videos and photographs.

"When asked by the organisers why they were there, JAIS replied that they had received a complaint, but were unable to produce a copy when asked," he added.

He said JAIS officers took down details of the Muslim guests before leaving the premises with the police.

The church, he added, was highly disappointed with the trespass and action of JAIS and the police.

"We stress that the dinenr was a community thanksgiving one conducted in love, peace and harmony, with the purpose of appreciating and commemorating efforts to help Malaysians of all walks of life."

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