Sabtu, 6 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Saleh to leave hospital, fighting flares in Sanaa

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 09:19 PM PDT

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh will leave hospital soon, a government source said on Saturday, as clashes between his loyalists and opponents flared in the capital he left when protests against his rule turned into open warfare.

A boy holds up a poster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh as he stands among worshipers performing the weekly Friday prayers during a rally to show support for Saleh in Sanaa July 29, 2011. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)

The fate of Saleh, forced to seek treatment in Saudi Arabia for injuries suffered in a bomb attack in his palace in June, has thrown the Arab world's poorest country into a political crisis threatening to tip into civil war.

Political deadlock born of six months of protests against Saleh and renewed conflicts with Islamists and separatists have raised fears in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Washington that chaos in Yemen could embolden the country's Al Qaeda wing.

Saleh will leave hospital in the coming days, a Yemeni government source told Reuters. But the wounded leader, who has vowed to return to Yemen, will stay on in Riyadh in Saudi government housing for the time being, the source said.

His prime minister, Ali Mohamed Megawar, injured in the same attack, left hospital and moved into official Saudi accommodation earlier on Saturday, the source said.

The announcement came as forces loyal to Saleh skirmished with those of the Ahmar family, a power within Yemen's Hashed tribal confederation, in the capital, witnesses said.

They said the two sides traded fire in the Hassaba district of the capital, where prominent members of the Ahmar family reside. The exchange marked a second day of confrontation in the area, though there were no reports of casualties.

Separately, one protester was killed and three injured in the southern city of Taiz when forces loyal to Saleh opened fire to scatter an anti-Saleh demonstration, witnesses said.

Weeks of fighting between Saleh's forces and those of the Ahmar family left parts of Sanaa in ruins, giving way to an uneasy ceasefire after the bombing in Saleh's compound that forced him from the country in June.

That attack came after Saleh rejected for the third time a deal crafted by the Gulf Cooperation Council, a grouping of Yemen's resource-rich Gulf neighbours, to ease him from office.

The collapse of diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis over Saleh's fate has coincided with a surge of fighting in the south of the country with Islamists, whom Saleh's government has linked to the country's Al Qaeda branch.

Islamist fighters seized Zinjibar, capital of the southern Abyan province, in late May, a development Saleh's opponents accused him of orchestrating to underline his threat that only his rule would keep parts of the country from falling to Al Qaeda.

The ensuing fighting in Abyan has displaced as many as 90,000 of the province's residents.

Washington, which has made Saleh's Yemen a cornerstone of its counter-terrorism strategy, has urged him to accept the deal to ease him from power, while maintaining ties with potential successors.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Sudam; Writing by Joseph Logan; Editing by Peter Graff)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Libya rebels say they are advancing on Brega

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 09:19 PM PDT

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan rebels on Saturday said they had launched a push to capture the coastal oil town of Brega, but were advancing slowly because Muammar Gaddafi's forces had sown minefields across its approaches.

Rebels look at a model of a map of Brega in Zuwaytinah July 31, 2011. (REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori)

"There's a big movement on all fronts around Brega. We are attacking from three sides," said spokesman Mohammad Zawawi.

Fighting on the eastern front of the civil war, which has moved backwards and forwards for the past months, has been bogged down for weeks on the fringes of Brega, about 750 km (465 miles) east of Tripoli.

Zawawi said rebel forces were in sight of a residential area of Brega and believed they could take the town, which is south of the rebel capital Benghazi on the eastern side of the Gulf of Sirte.

"It could be very soon, but we don't want to lose anybody so we're moving slowly but surely," he said.

In Misrata, a Qatari plane made a quick stop to offload ammunition destined for rebel fighters, sources with knowledge of the flight said. Airport officials acknowledged a Qatari plane had landed but declined to reveal details of its contents.

"The plane offloaded six pickup trucks which were packed with ammunition, and minutes later it flew off again," said one source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Rebels have complained about a lack of weapons and ammunition to effectively push forward to the capital. France has also supplied ammunition and weapons in air-drops.

Qatar has been one of staunchest supporters of Libyans seeking to topple Muammar Gaddafi from power.


Friday was another day of claim and counter-claim in the six-month-old war now being waged on three fronts -- in the Western Mountains southwest of Tripoli, near Misrata to the east of the capital, and around Brega between Misrata and Benghazi.

Gaddafi's government on Friday denied a rebel report a NATO air strike on Zlitan, a town west of Misrata, had killed the Libyan leader's son Khamis who commands of one of the government's most loyal and best-equipped units.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said word of Khamis Gaddafi's death was a ploy to cover up the killing of three civilians in Zlitan, a battlefront city where Gaddafi forces are trying to halt the rebel advance on Tripoli.

"It's false news. This is a dirty trick to cover up their crime in Zlitan," he told Reuters.

A rebel spokesman said the NATO air strike had killed 32 Gaddafi loyalists in Zlitan, where Khamis Gaddafi's elite 32nd Brigade is believed to have been leading the defence of the approaches to Tripoli, 160 kilometres away.

NATO said it had targeted a command-and-control target in the Zlitan area but "cannot confirm anything right now because we don't have people on the ground".

Tripoli also was rocked by a long series of explosions starting around 2 a.m. local time on Sunday (0000 GMT), producing giant plumes of smoke.

Planes could be heard overhead and flames could be seen in the distance. Libyan state television said NATO airstrikes had hit civilian and military targets in Tripoli.


Rebels who cleared Gaddafi's forces from Libya's third-largest city Misrata after weeks of intense fighting have been trying to push westwards and take Zlitan, which would open the coastal road toward his Tripoli stronghold.

There have been two reports of Khamis's death in the past six months: Arab media reported in March he had died in a kamikaze crash by a disaffected Libyan air force pilot. Libyan state television countered with pictures of a man resembling Khamis, which it said disproved the report of his death.

The government said earlier this year a NATO strike in Tripoli had killed Gaddafi's son Saif al-Arab, who unlike Khamis did not have a high public profile or a major leadership role.

Gaddafi has kept control of the capital despite severe fuel shortages and rebel advances backed since March by Western air strikes, assault helicopter attacks and naval bombardments.

The rebels face numerous problems, from stalling battlefield momentum to internal splits, exposed starkly last week when military chief Abdel Fattah Younes was assassinated behind his own lines in circumstances yet to be explained.

Near the capital, rebels also control the Western Mountains southwest of Tripoli. A rebel official there, Colonel Juma Ibrahim, told Reuters his forces had set an ultimatum to the surrounded town of Tiji to surrender or face attack on Saturday.

Rebels were using loud-hailers to appeal to a tribal chief close to Gaddafi to evacuate civilians from Tiji and broker the withdrawal of pro-Gaddafi forces.

"If he does not comply, we will attack," said Ibrahim.

(Additional reporting by Michael Georgy in the Western Mountains and Mussab Al-Khairalla in Misrata; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Michael Roddy)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Quarter-million Israelis march for economic reform

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 09:19 PM PDT

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - A quarter-million Israelis marched on Saturday for lower living costs in an escalating protest that has catapulted the economy onto the political agenda and put pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Protesters take part in a protest call for social justice, including lower property prices in Israel, at the centre of Tel Aviv August 6, 2011. Benjamin Netanyahu. (REUTERS/Nir Elias)

Netanyahu planned to name a cabinet-level team on Sunday to address demands by the demonstrators, who in under a month have swollen from a cluster of student tent-squatters into a diffuse, countrywide mobilisation of Israel's burdened middle class.

Israel projects growth of 4.8 percent this year at a time of economic stagnation in many Western countries, and has relatively low unemployment of 5.7 percent. But business cartels and wage disparities have kept many citizens from feeling the benefit.

"The People Demand Social Justice" read one of the march banners, which mostly eschewed partisan anti-government messages while confronting Netanyahu's free-market doctrines.

Police said at least 250,000 people took part in Saturday's march in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities, a greater turnout than at marches on the two previous weekends.

Demonstrations on such a scale in Israel -- population 7.7 million -- have usually been over issues of war and peace.

In a "Peace Index" poll conducted by two Israeli academics, around half of respondents said wage disparities -- among the widest of OECD countries -- should be the government's priority, while 18 percent cited the dearth of affordable housing.

Some 31 percent cited the stalled Middle East peace talks, Israel's international image, or the need to bolster the armed forces.

The demonstrations have upstaged Netanyahu's standoff with the Palestinians ahead of their bid to lobby for U.N. recognition of statehood next month. Protests also deflated his celebration of Israel's stability as citizen revolts rock surrounding Arab states across the Middle East and North Africa.

"There has been nothing like this for decades -- all these people coming together, taking to the streets, demanding change. It's a revolution," said Baroch Oren, a 33-year-old protest leader.

The conservative coalition government has vowed to free up more state-owned land for development, build more low-rent housing and improve public transport. It also wants to lower dairy prices with more imports and boost medical staff numbers to address demands by striking doctors.

But the demands submitted by the National Union of Israeli Students go much further in calling for an expansion of free education and bigger government housing budgets.

Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, named by a Netanyahu spokesman as a likely member of the cabinet troubleshooting team, said a solution was required even if it "cost billions" at a time when Israel is watching the debt jitters of the United States and parts of Europe. Israel's debt burden is 75 percent of GDP, lower than that of most major Western economies.

Interviewed by Israel Radio on Friday, Kahlon floated tax cuts and a breakup of cartels to benefit the middle class.

"If anything, this demonstration is a demonstration of trust in Netanyahu -- though that may sound upside-down: 'Sir, we demand of you, we insist, you know how to, you are capable of fixing this,'" Kahlon said, noting the lack of support for the centrist political opposition.

But he faulted Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for trumpeting Israel's macroeconomic indicators.

"On the one hand we say we have a strong economy, on the other hand large groups of people are seeing that it is not reaching them. Hence the frustration and the outcry," he said.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

We still Love Lucy

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 01:12 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (AP): We loved Lucy and we still do. On the 100th anniversary of her birth Saturday and 60 years since "I Love Lucy" first aired, Lucille Ball's legacy remains remarkable - and her talent remarkably fresh and watchable.

Consider other popular sitcoms that aired alongside Ball and Desi Arnaz's show during its 1951-to-1957 life span on CBS. "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" and "Father Knows Best," among others, are period Americana that evoke sweet nostalgia far more than laughs.

But "I Love Lucy," in all its black-and-white glory, remains a draw worldwide for viewers who certainly weren't around for its debut. Over the past five decades the sitcom has won new audiences - and introduced Lucy to younger generations - over and over through TV syndication and video sales.

Lucie Arnaz, Ball's daughter, was asked by a Chinese interviewer to explain why her mother and the show are so popular in China. It's a "phenomenon," Arnaz offers.

"I think of her as mom most of the time. Then I switch ... and try to see her as the rest of the world does. It's almost too big," Arnaz said Friday.

Who could have predicted that the most timeless and international of all TV talents would be a fortysomething woman who, taking the structured role of a homemaker in mid-century New York City, stretched into it the stuff of classic comedy?

Picture this: Lucy swigging down awful Vitameatavegamine, with a grimace and a wannabe-pitchman's smile fighting for custody of her face before the boozy patent medicine begins to take control of her. Can you recall the scene, let alone watch it, and not get at least a small jolt of pleasure, even if it's the umpteenth time?

Or consider Lucy vs. the industrial revolution, as a conveyer belt outpaces her candy-processing skills and desperation and poor judgment join ranks.

"All right, girls, now this is your last chance. If one piece of candy gets past you and into the packing room unwrapped, you're fired," the plant supervisor barks at Lucy and partner-in-crime Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance).

That's the setup. The delivery, in the most rewarding Ball fashion, is mostly wordless.

As the belt speeds up and chocolates slip by en masse, Lucy and Ethel try stuffing the evidence in their mouths. Down their dresses. In their handbags.

Lucy, eyes wide and lips puckered, looks as guilty as a kid cheating big-time in class.

Another winner: the Italian grape-stomping scene, which turns an oversized barrel of fruit into an arena with Lucy the poseur versus a diligent worker. Lucy turns their task into a pas de deux that goes from a square dance to a grape-flinging battle.

Dialogue? Forget about it. No need, given Lucy's adroit physicality and gleeful mugging, all dignity and beauty be damned. (She credited masterful Buster Keaton for teaching her timing and how to move, and fall.)

Her big-eyed, full-lipped look didn't start as comic fodder. She was a model, a movie starlet in the early 1930s and then an actress with minor roles in a handful of good films ("Stage Door") and bigger roles in many more forgettable ones ("Dance, Girl, Dance").

Then came television, which made Lucille Ball. In return, she and Arnaz, her husband, partner and co-star, made TV comedy what it is to this day.

First, they pushed the narrow-minded TV industry beyond its comfort zone, proving that audiences would accept a blue-eyed redhead married to a Cuban-born band leader with a heavy accent. ("Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!")

Ball and Arnaz pioneered the three-camera sitcom with "I Love Lucy," which was filmed like a stage play. Using multiple cameras eliminated the need to interrupt scenes to shoot from different angles and allowed actors to play to a studio audience.

Although "The Office," "30 Rock" and other comedies have popularized the single-camera format, multiple-camera "Two and a Half Men" has reigned as the top-rated sitcom in recent years and more new comedies are embracing the convention.

Creating a quality film record of the episodes - at a time most shows aired live and unpreserved - paid a huge dividend, making "I Love Lucy" episodes resalable as reruns and their production house, Desilu, the first studio to profit from program syndication.

Desilu became a powerful force in early television. Besides "I Love Lucy," it turned out some of the top comedy shows of the 1950s and 1960s, including "December Bride," "Our Miss Brooks" and "Make Room for Daddy."

After Ball and Arnaz divorced in 1960, he sold her his share in the company for $3 million. With a shrewd business sense, she built it into a major TV production company and in 1967 sold it to Gulf & Western Industries Inc. for $17 million.

Fanboys and girls, note: At Ball's insistence, the studio produced the original "Star Trek" series and landed it on NBC.

Ball was known as a modest luminary, invariably sharing credit and especially when "I Love Lucy" drew praise. "Well, all of the credit should go to (writers) Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr." Or, "Desi was a genius: He was responsible for the show's success." Or she cited co-stars Arnaz, Vance and Bill Frawley.

But people knew better. Gale Gordon, who played her sidekick from radio through three of her TV shows ("The Lucy Show" from 1962-68, "Here's Lucy," 1968-74, and short-lived "Life With Lucy," 1986) called her a bit of a genius - "the only one I've ever really known."

Ball was 77 when she died in 1989 of a ruptured abdominal artery after heart surgery. Arnaz is gone, and so are Vance, Frawley, Gordon and screenwriter Carroll. In April, fellow head writer Madelyn Pugh Davis died at age 90.

But their creation, with Ball at its center, is eternally vital and joyful. George Burns called it when she died, and his tribute remains true.

"I and 100 million others will miss her," Burns said. "But we haven't lost Lucille Ball because she's still with us on television and we can see her on and on."

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Radwanska beats Petkovic to reach Carlsbad final

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 06:57 PM PDT

CARLSBAD, California (AP) - Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland won 10 consecutive games to beat second-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 on Saturday and reach the final of the Mercury Insurance Open.

Radwanska, seemingly still bothered by a right shoulder injury, faces the winner of the late semifinal between top-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia and No. 5 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.

Radwanska has reached her first final since she lost here last year to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova. She will be seeking for her first title since 2008 and her fifth overall.

Petkovic, who took advantage of Radwanska's weak serving, looked to be in control after the first set. Radwanska has had a nerve issue in her right shoulder since last week at Stanford. The injury affects her most on her serve.

Radwanska broke Petkovic's serve in the first game of the second set and took complete control of the match.

Petkovic revealed she was sick to her stomach when she took the court, and that it got worse as the match wore on. Petkovic eventually sprinted off the court during the second set to go to the bathroom so she could vomit.

"Is it more embarrassing running off the court like a maniac or throwing up on court and being on SportsCenter for the next 25 years?" Petkovic asked. "Yeah, running off the court is better, so that's what I did."

Petkovic had advised tournament supervisor Melanie Tabb and chair umpire Kerrilyn Cramer ahead of time about the issue, so there was no point violation for leaving the court.

Radwanska made the most of the situation and raised her game while Petkovic dealt with her issue.

"I think I was more relaxed," Radwanska said about losing the first set. "I just thought I have really nothing to lose. She's playing well, this is the semifinal. I was really starting to play much better, playing aggressive, pretty much no mistakes."

Petkovic, currently ranked 11th, is projected to reach the first top-10 ranking of her career. She also will become the first German in the top 10 since Anke Huber in October 2000.

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Scott Piercy's 61 breaks Reno-Tahoe Open record

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 06:56 PM PDT

RENO, Nevada (AP) - Scott Piercy reeled off eight consecutive birdies to post a 28 on the front nine and eagled the 616-yard closing hole to break the course record with an 11-under 61 on Saturday, taking a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the Reno-Tahoe Open.

Piercy, winless in three years on the PGA Tour, enters the final round at 13-under 203, two ahead of Josh Teater and three ahead of a group that includes 1995 PGA champion Steve Elkington.

Elkington had a 68 Saturday to get to 10-under 206. He was tied for third with 2006 Reno champ Chris Riley, first-round leader Nick O'Hern, Pat Perez, John Merrick and Blake Adams. Two-time Reno winner Vaughn Taylor and 2007 champ Steve Flesch were at 9-under.

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Malaysians miss out on World Cup ticket by one spot

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 05:44 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia suffered a final day heartbreak when they again failed to make the cut for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup Finals after finishing joint fourth with the Philippines in the Asian qualifying tournament at the Seri Selangor Golf Club here yesterday.

They lost out on the third position by three strokes to South Korea, who will join the top two finishers New Zealand and Singapore in the Finals in China in November.

The Malaysians started the day in joint third spot with New Zealand but again faltered in the foursomes stroke play to end up with a four-day total of 278 after posting a three-over 74 in the final round yesterday.

Iain Streel and Shaaban Hussin could only manage two birdies on the fifth and 13th holes while bogeying the seventh, ninth, 10th, 16th and 18th holes.

Shaaban said they only had themselves to blame for making mistakes in the final round.

"We played well but we also made a few mistakes. It was the same in the second round when we played the foursomes as well," he said.

"But we did our best and it was a good learning experience for me. This is my first time playing in this format and it's quite difficult to adapt to it. Overall, it was a good experience and I learned a lot from Iain (Steel)."

For Steel, it's five failures out of five, after four previous flops when he partnered Danny Chia.

Malaysia last qualified for the World Cup in 2001.

While Malaysia floundered, the Kiwis, on the same flight, prospered.

The Kiwis finished finished joint first with Singapore with a four-round total of 271. New Zealand were declared the winners after Singapore conceded the the playoff.

The New Zealand duo of Michael Hendry and Gareth Paddison also carded the lowest score of the day – a four under-67.

Singapore's Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat, who had led for the first three rounds, finished off with a one-over 72, to make their fifth appearance in the World Cup.

Chih Bing and Mardan, who had also partnered in the 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2009 World Cups, were delighted to represent their country again in the two-man team showpiece which will be staged from Nov 24-27.

"We came here aiming to finish in the top three ... and we did just that. It didn't matter whether we finished first, second or third ... just as long as we qualified for the World Cup," said Chih Bing.

"That's why we conceded the play-off. It didn't matter to us at this stage as we have met our target."

South Korea, who were in fourth spot after the third round, benefited from a drop in form by the Indians, who began the day in second spot.

Kim Hyung-sung and Park Sung-joon admitted that they were lucky to have qualified for the World Cup Finals after finishing with a bogey on the last hole for a two-under 69 and a 275 total.

India needed to birdie the last hole to force a playoff but Gaganjeet Bhullar's tee shot landed in thick rough and Lahiri struggled to chip the ball out to safety.

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Washington and the Art of the Possible

Posted: 05 Aug 2011 07:03 PM PDT

THESE days, the United States media are full of ordinary Americans venting their rage at the incompetence and immaturity of their politicians. Even though the US government's debt limit was raised in the nick of time, the process was and remains fraught with risk. Why, the public asks, can't politicians sit down together like sensible adults and come up with a timely agreement that commands broad consensus? If we can balance our household budgets, they ask irately, why can't our political leaders?

The reality, though, is that US politicians reflect the views of the American electorate views that are fundamentally inconsistent. The absence of broad consensus is no wonder. Indeed, the last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling is proof that the politicians did what they were sent to Washington to do: represent their constituencies and only compromise in the interests of the country as a whole.

The key question is whether the political gridlock exposed by the debt-ceiling debate will worsen in the run-up to the 2012 presidential and congressional elections if not beyond. That is possible, but we should not overlook cause for hope in what America's politicians just accomplished.

Let's start with why the electorate is so polarised. There are two key divisive factors: income and age. Income inequality has been growing in the US over the last three decades, largely because the labour market has increasingly demanded skills that the education system has been unable to supply. The everyday consequence for the middle class is a stagnant paycheck and growing employment insecurity, as the old economy of well-paying low-skilled jobs with good benefits withers away.

Until the financial crisis, the easy availability of credit, especially against home equity, enabled the middle class to sustain higher consumption despite stagnant incomes. With the collapse of the housing bubble, many people lost their jobs and health insurance, risked losing their homes, and suddenly had little reason for economic optimism. The response from America's Democratic Party, which has traditionally represented this constituency, was to promise affordable universal health care and more education spending, while also protecting government jobs and entitlement programs.

When added up, such spending is unaffordable, especially with current federal revenues at just 15% of GDP. The solution for many Democrats is to raise revenues by taxing the rich. But the rich are not the idle rich of the past; they are the working rich. To balance the budget only by taxing the rich will require a significant increase in income taxes, to the point that it would lower incentives for work and entrepreneurial activity considerably.

This is not to say that taxes on the rich cannot be increased at all; but such increases cannot be the primary way of balancing the budget. Republicans, trying to give voice to many working Americans' ambient uneasiness with rising government expenditures, as well as to the growing anger of the working rich, find it easier to defend a principle than a particular constituency. Hence their mantra: no additional taxes.

The neat divide based on income is muddled by the elderly. It is understandable that older Americans who have few savings want to protect their Social Security and Medicare benefits. However, even elderly Tea Party Republicans, who are typically against big government, defend these programs because they view them as a form of property right, paid for when they worked.

In truth, rising life expectancy and growing health-care costs mean that today's elderly have contributed only a fraction of what they expect to receive from Social Security and Medicare. The government made a mistake in the past by not raising taxes to finance these programs or reducing the benefits that they promised. Unless the growth of these entitlement programs is curbed now, today's young will pay dearly for that mistake, in the form of higher taxes now and lower benefits when they are old.

But the elderly are politically active and powerful. Not only do many defend their entitlements strongly; some oppose growth in other types of public spending for fear that it will weaken the government's ability to pay for the benefits that they believe they are owed.

These then are the roots of America fiscal impasse, which has produced passionate constituencies viscerally opposed to compromise. Any political deal significantly before the debt-ceiling deadline would have exposed politicians to charges of betrayal from their constituents. And, given that President Barack Obama would ultimately be held responsible for a default, he needed the deal more than the Republicans did. So he had to coerce his party into accepting a deal full of spending cuts and devoid of tax increases.

Will the deal deliver what it promises? A bipartisan committee has to propose US$1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by the end of this year, and Congress must either accept that proposal, or see immediate, politically painful expenditure cuts, which would include defense spending an area that America's Republicans care about strongly.

If this structure works as advertised, Congress will be forced to reach a compromise, which can be sold once again by politicians to their polarised constituencies as being necessary to avoid a worse outcome. This time, Obama's Democrats will be on a level playing field, because both parties will be held equally responsible for a failure to reach a deal.

Ultimately, the big necessary decisions on curbing entitlement growth and reforming the tax code will probably have to wait until after the next election, giving the divided electorate an opportunity to reflect on its own inconsistency and send a clearer message. In the meantime, US politicians might have done just about enough to convince debt markets that America's credit is still good. For that, Americans and others around the world should stop pillorying them and give them their due credit. - Project Syndicate

Raghuram Rajan, a former chief economist of the IMF, is Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and author of Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, the Financial Times Business Book of the Year.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf


Posted: 05 Aug 2011 05:37 PM PDT

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Authors: Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan with Charles Burck

Publisher: Random House Business Books

WHEN Execution was published in 2002, it changed the way people worked. This updated version reframes the message given by the two authors in light of the current global situation based on several radical changes expected in the foreseeable future. Growth will be slower, competition will be more fierce, governments will take on new roles in their national economies and risk management will become a top priority for every leader.

Rework: Change the way you work forever

Authors: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Publisher: Vermillion

THIS is a different kind of business book; it is more inspirational and motivational with a big business element from start to finish. Much of it is based on the experience of three friends, who started their company making software products. They are writing for those who have never dreamed of starting a business and who would like to. Chapters are short and anecdotes are scattered in abundance to give readers that quick fix. Fairly easy to read.

The Corner Office: Lessons from CEOs on how to lead and succeed

Author: Adam Bryant

Publisher: Times Books

THIS book draws lessons from top executives that reveal the keys to success in the business world. Divided into three parts, succeeding, leading and managing, the author looks at essential personality traits that CEOs value most and how these qualities separate rising stars from their colleagues. These include curiousity, team spirit, confidence, a sense of mission among others. Adam Bryant is the lead editor for the team that won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and is a former business editor at Newsweek.

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Toasting those who seek genuine solutions

Posted: 05 Aug 2011 05:37 PM PDT

Title: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure
Author: Tim Harford
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

I have to concur with Steven Dubner of Freakonomics fame when he says Tim Harford, author of Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure and widely known as "the Undercover Economist" is "one of the best writers who also happens to be an economist".

Harford, a columnist for the Financial Times whose writing has also appeared in Esquire, Forbes, New York magazine, Wired, The Washington Post and The New York Times, presents impressive and inspiring research to shore up his suggested approach for solving the most pressing problems in our lives. He notes that "when faced with complex situations, we have all become accustomed to looking to our leaders to set out a plan of action and blaze a path to success."

Harford argues that "today's challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinion; the world has become far too unpredictable, and profoundly complex. Instead, we must learn to adapt." The insightful and interesting book captures your attention from the start by calling our attention to the case of a simple toaster to illustrate this key point. The humble electric toaster was invented in 1893, roughly halfway between the appearance of the light bulb and that of the aeroplane. Whilst it is now a highly affordable household appliance, it is a still an "astonishing achievement" – something Thomas Thwaites, a postgraduate design student at the Royal College of Art in London discovered as he embarked on his "Toaster Project" to build one from scratch. Thwaites found that even a simple toaster contained over four hundred components and sub-components. Even the most primitive model called for "copper to make the pins of the electric plug, the cord and internal wires; iron to make the steel grilling apparatus, and the spring to pop up the toast; nickel to make the heating element; mica (a mineral like slate) around which the heating element is wound; and of course, plastic for the plus, cord insulation and the all important sleek looking casing."

Thwaites tried with limited success to recreate the seemingly simple device using twentieth-century approximations of fifteenth-century technology. Despite his Herculean efforts to duplicate the technology, his approximation looked more like "a toaster-shaped birthday cake than a real toaster, its coating dripping and oozing like an icing job gone wrong." The resultant contraption warmed bread when plugged into a battery but became the proverbial toast when plugged into the mains.

Harford notes that "far simpler objects than a toaster involve global supply chains and the coordinated efforts of many individuals, scattered across the world. Many do not even know the final destination of their efforts." The range of products that are available today are also astounding. The toaster can be seen as a "symbol of the sophistication of our world" as well as the "obstacles that lie in wait for those who want to change it". In essence, Adapt is partly a book about these problems but "more fundamentally, it is a book that aims to understand how any problem – big or small – really gets solved in a world where even a toaster is beyond one main's comprehension".

Harford draws parallels between economic progress and evolution in the natural world. He points out that biological evolution usually moves in small steps, but occasionally takes wild leaps. This process of evolution strikes a balance between discovering the new and exploiting the familiar. He argues that the evolutionary approach i.e. the mix of baby steps and occasional giant gambles is not just another way of solving complex problems; the approach is perhaps the best possible way to search for sustainable solutions.

Harford shows us how the key elements of variation, selection, survivability and decoupling combine to allow organisations and individuals to adapt to meet the complex challenges of daily living. Variation relates to seeking out ideas and trying new things; selection involves seeking out feedback and learning from mistakes whilst survivability refers to doing these on a scale where failure is survivable. Decoupling enhances survivability and can be applied at two levels. The first involves making experiments small enough so that if they fail, they can be terminated at minimal cost. At another level, decoupling is about designing systems whose parts are independent enough to prevent small collapses from cascading into major catastrophes.

Variation can be inherently difficult to push from the onset because of two natural tendencies in organisations. The first being "grandiosity as politicians and corporate bosses like large projects – anything from the reorganisation of a country's entire healthcare system to a gigantic merger – because they win attention and show that the leader is a person who gets things done". The other tendency relates to the fact that "we rarely like the idea of standards that are inconsistent and uneven from place to place". Harford contends that standardisation tends to come at a price in charm, flexibility and quality and should be viewed as an undesirable trait. He emphasises that when a problem is unsolved or continually changing, the best way to tackle it is to experiment with many different approaches. However, if we are to accept variation, we must also accept that some of these new approaches will not work well – a proposition that would not be very popular with politicians or corporate chieftains. Things would of course be different, if we as members of the electorate should tolerate and even celebrate any politicians who seek genuine solutions and who in doing so, test many ideas robustly enough to prove that some of them do not work. But of course, we do not.

Harford goes on to provide many absorbing and current case studies in the areas of planned economies, developmental aid, research and development, climate change, oil spills and the financial crisis. Not the biggest fan of military strategy, I found myself fascinated by Harford's informative comparisons of the US strategies applied in Iraq. What I liked best about this well structured book that applies everyday language very effectively are the last two chapters which showcase how institutions and individuals can actually apply the ideas presented. I highly recommend this read. Who knows? Failure may just become fashionable.

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The Star Online: Nation

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MAS, Air Asia in share-swap deal

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 06:37 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia will swap shares in a deal which will see Tan Sri Tony Fernandes become the single biggest shareholder.

Sources said the deal, struck last week after negotiations over the past year, became urgent after MAS' poor showing in the last two quarters.

Fernandes is set to get 20% of MAS equity under the deal that is to be signed next week, with some sources saying it had already received the Government's approval and could be inked by Monday.

Industry players expressed surprise at the deal because of past animosity between the management of the two airlines.

Those who were aware of the negotiations were also surprised at the speed at which it was concluded.

More in Sunday Star

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Five drown in police raid on gambling den

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 06:06 AM PDT

SUNGAI PETANI: Five men drowned while trying to escape a police raid at a gambling den in Kampung Kuala Lengkuas, Bukit Selambau near here.

The men, aged between 40 and 60, had jumped into a river after the police team from Bukit Aman raided the place at about 6pm on Friday.

It is learnt that the river, about 0.6m deep, is located several metres from the area where a group of men had been playing "judi belangkas".

The game requires players to place bets on a series of pictures, including prawns, horse shoe crab and flowers, before a dice is rolled.

Kuala Muda OCPD Assistant Comm Hashim Ali said the bodies of two men, aged 48 and 60, were found floating in Sungai Muda Friday. Another body was recovered at 7.30pm while two more were found about 15 minutes later near the same location.

More in Sunday Star.

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PAS to hear out Dr Hasan Ali on church raid on Sunday

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 05:24 AM PDT

Published: Saturday August 6, 2011 MYT 8:18:00 PM
Updated: Saturday August 6, 2011 MYT 8:24:21 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The PAS central working committee (CWC) will look into the issue of the raid at Damansara Utama Methodist Church by Selangor Religious Department (Jais) at its monthly meeting on Sunday.

PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustapha Ali said Selangor PAS would give a report on the issue.

The CWC will also seek an explanation from state exco member Datuk Dr Hasan Ali, also a CWC member, he said.

"We will discuss the matter (on the raid) during the meeting. Until that meeting is held, and Selangor PAS has briefed us, we will not issue any statement," Mustapha said when contacted by Bernama.

Dr Hasan has defended the Jais' raid on a dinner at the church in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday night.

He claimed the authorities had evidence that Christians were said to be proselytising Muslims at the function. BERNAMA

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Raid was done to protect the interest of Muslims, says Jais
Hasan must explain and show proof of his allegation, says PAS
Chua dares DAP leaders to speak up over church raid
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Church raid uproar
MB demands Jais explanation on raid
Hasan claims event was to proselytise Muslims

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Actress who played Cha Cha in 'Grease' dies at 63

Posted: 05 Aug 2011 06:04 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Annette Charles, best-known for her role as Cha Cha DiGregorio in "Grease," has died. She was 63.

Longtime friend Tom LaBonge, a Los Angeles councilman, said she died in the city after a battle with cancer. She died Wednesday night, said her agent, Derek Maki.

Her death comes a little more than two months after the death of "Grease" actor Jeff Conaway, whose character Kenickie was Cha Cha's date at the school dance.

Oozing a sultry confidence on film, Charles introduced her character at the dance by saying, "They call me Cha Cha, 'cause I'm the best dancer at St. Bernadette's."

"... with the worst reputation!" responded Frenchie, played by actress Didie Conn.

Charles also appeared on many television shows during the 1970s and early 1980s, including "Barnaby Jones," "The Bionic Woman," "Magnum, P.I.," "Bonanza," "The Mod Squad," "Gunsmoke" and "The Flying Nun." She later became a speech professor under her birth name, Annette Cardona, at California State University, Northridge.

As DiGregorio, Charles played a leggy, red-lipped bad girl with an appetite for bad boys. Her role as a gyrating vixen presented a sex-charged challenge to the film's prudish leading lady, the angelic and "lousy with virginity" Sandy Olsen, played by Olivia Newton John.

In a wild dance scene inside the school gymnasium, performed to Sha-Na-Na's "Born To Hand Jive," DiGregorio twirled and kicked alongside Kenickie before moving to seduce John Travolta's character, bad boy greaser Danny Zuko, on the dance floor.

Full of jubilant dance scenes, the musical was Travolta's hotly anticipated follow-up to another heavily-choreographed blockbuster, "Saturday Night Fever." "Grease," released in 1978, grossed $380 million worldwide.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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60 take part in 1,200km ride to Kuala Terengganu and Tasik Banding

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 05:44 AM PDT

SOME 60 riders took part in a three-day convoy covering a distance of over 1,200km to Kuala Terengganu and Tasik Banding, Perak recently. It was organised by Welly Advance Bikers.

Welly Advance Bikers is a dealer of new and quality used motorcycles, parts, accessories and apparels.

"Most of the riders are our own customers. We usually organise events for our customers so that the bikes that they buy are useful. Some of them buy and they do not use it often so we organise events for our regular customers," said rider and Welly Advance Bikers director Chester Ngo.

"Usually every month will have one or two events for our customers. Our events are mostly supported Kawasaki Motor Malaysia as majority of our products are from Kawasaki Motor. Some of the one-day rides are funded by them so our riders do not have to pay.

Chester, who started riding bikes in 1997 has experienced riding in other countries such as China and Tibet.

"Riding is not just about speed. It is more on pleasure. Our rides usually emphasise on safety. We had qualified marshals from the police to back us up with a pick-up truck in case any of the riders feel tired or needed a rest. We had seven marshals for the 60-rider convoy to Kuala Terengganu and Tasik Banding.

"We also had briefings by the marshals every time before we start our journey and on every interval. We also had to apply for police approval before embarking on our journey," he said.

"In this safety riding, newcomers or new bikers can learn about riding safely as well as learn the procedures and hand signalling if there is emergency for them to experience and learn the fun of riding big bikes," he added.

"We will be having another trip to Malacca this month to buka puasa with some old folks at an old folks home," said Chester.

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Prasarana: LRT extension technically viable

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 05:42 AM PDT

WITH reference to the "Bandar Kinrara 3 residents say no to LRT Extension" that appeared in your newspaper on July 18, 2011, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana) would like to clarify that the proposed alignment for the Ampang LRT Line extension is the preferred alignment based mainly on technical viability, financial impact and ridership demand.

The Final Railway Scheme for the alignment of the Ampang LRT Line extension was approved by the Department of Railways on June 4, 2010.

The approval was given after taking into account the factors mentioned and also the various mitigation measures proposed to address the concerns of the residents in the surrounding vicinity. Prasarana will comply with all requirements imposed with regards to safety measures and noise levels.

The article published in The Star on July 18, 2011 highlighted the concerns of the residents of Bandar Kinrara 3 (BK3) who are not in favour of the proposed LRT station near their area.

The residents claimed that the LRT station, currently referred to as Station 05 near BK3 will contribute to traffic congestion as well as health and safety problems such as noise and air pollution.

While we acknowledge that the construction of an infrastructure project of this magnitude will cause a certain degree of inconvenience, Prasarana will ensure that all necessary measures and precautions are taken to ensure that the inconvenience due to traffic congestion, noise and air pollution is minimised. This includes the building of a green wall at the proposed station to help minimise the noise and air pollution in the area.

The proposal to have Station 05 is to serve the sizeable residential and commercial community in the area.

The proposed alignment is based on an in-depth engineering and technical study.

Due to technical constraints, it is not possible to build the alignment on the road median along the Bukit Jalil highway as suggested by the residents.

Prasarana, during a project briefing with the Residents' Association which was hosted by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) on 20 July 2011, explained in detail to the residents from BK 3 on the technical rationale of the proposed alignment and the measures that will be implemented to address their concerns.

MPSJ assured the residents that their concerns will be submitted to the Selangor State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) and the Selangor Economic Action Council (MTES) for their final decision.

Prasarana would also like to inform the public that they can contact our Project Call Centre at 03- 2267 9898 (24 Hours) to enquire or to provide constructive feedback. They can also visit our website to submit their feedback at feedback@

Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff
Prasarana's Group Director of Project Development

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Ex-sailor's patriotic move

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 05:56 AM PDT

Saturday August 6, 2011

Former sailor Aboo Bakar Yaakob painting the roof of his house in Kampung Morten with the Jalur Gemilang to celebrate Merdeka Day.

He forked out nearly RM2,000 to decorate the home roof with the patriotic colours. – Bernama

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Just Eating Out

Posted: 06 Aug 2011 05:52 AM PDT


If you are in Muar, try out the town's famous Otak Otak, a local delicacy that is made from fish paste with a mixture of spices, wrapped in nipah leaves. It is best eaten grilled.


Sempurna Resort in Kuantan is hosting a comprehensive Ramadhan buffet featuring mouth-watering traditional cuisine. It is priced at RM38 nett per adult and RM19 nett for children. This buffet is available until Aug 28. For reservations, call 09-517 3000.


Those who fancy Penang Loh Mee (RM15++) are welcome to the Hou Mei Noodle House at the First World Hotel until Aug 31 from 11am to 11pm.

Other must try signature dishes are Kai See Hor Fun Soup, Wan Tan Noodles, Hou Mei Special Noodles, Assam Laksa, Curry Noodles, Chicken Porridge with Century Egg,

Deep-fried Wan Tan and Braised Mushrooms with Chicken Feet Dried Noodles. Contact Makan-makan @ GENTING for more information and reservations, call 03-6101 1118.

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Posted: 06 Aug 2011 05:52 AM PDT


Citra Warna 1 Malaysia cultural dance performance will be held at the Kuantan Parade shopping complex, Kuantan at 8pm today, Admission is free.


A blood and organ donation campaign will be held at the Pahang Buddhist Association (PBA) haemodialysis centre in Jalan Bukit Ubi from 9am-3.30pm tomorrow. Public are invited to donate blood and make organ pledges. For details, call 09-573 9644.


Be amazed with the Malay Angklung Bamboo Musical performance at the Atrium I of Kuantan Parade shopping complex, Kuantan at 3pm, tomorrow. All are welcome.


Check the Time Galarie 'Mega Raya' sale with fascinating offers until end of August. In Pahang, the outlet located at Giant Kuantan. Call 09-515 9570 for details.


Looking for Raya clothes? It has become fashionable for family members to wear clothes of the same colour, fabric and even design for their Raya attire. Gedung BTM outlets in Jalan Tun Ismail, Kuantan (09-517 1668) and Jalan Bahagia 7 in Temerloh (09-296 7863) is holding a sale with up to 50% discount.


The healthy kids fair at level 2 Sutera Mall from August 5 until August 7. During the event children can take part in competition and health related talk for the children will be held. For details, 07-558 9009.


THE spirit of Ramadan is in the air with food bazaars sprawling throughout the country selling a myriad of delicacies to the Muslims and non-Muslim. Only during the Ramadan month, one can see such colourful and interesting food stalls throughout Malaysia. A visit to these bazaars would be unique experience. It also allows foodies to taste a wide variety of local delicacies such as authentic freshly prepared mouth-watering Malay cuisines. In Kuantan, there are more than 25 Ramadan bazaares located at Mahkota Square parking lot, Stadium Darul Makmur area, Pasdec Makmur, Beserah, Taman Tas, Balok, Cenderawasih, Mat Kilau Hall at Batu 5, Jalan Gambang, Padang MPK 4, Tanjung Api and Hentian Gambang.


There will be fantasy hair show by the Fantasy Hair Design Academy at basement 1 Skudai Parade this coming Saturday from 2pm to 4pm. For details, call 07-558 8996.


A PC expo will be held at the Persada Johor International Convention Centre until Sunday.The expo will begin from 11am until 9pm.


There will be an aerobax performance by Clark Hatch at KSL City tomorrow from 3.30pm to 4pm. For details, call 07-288 2888.


There will be an amazing magic show at KSL City tomorrow from 7pm until 7.45pm. For details, call 07-288 2888.

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