Isnin, 15 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

TLC cancels 'Kate Plus 8'; last show airs Sept. 12

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 05:28 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - TLC says it is canceling "Kate Plus 8." The reality specials focusing on Kate Gosselin, her twin daughters and set of sextuplets morphed into a weekly series in its second season. But TLC announced Monday that its final episode will air Sept. 12.

The show was spun off from the wildly popular "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which co-starred the youngsters' father, Jon Gosselin, at their home in Wernersville, Pa. Their marriage dissolved, and the couple divorced in 2009.

By the end of its run, including "Jon & Kate Plus 8," the series will reach the 150-episode mark. TLC says it hopes to check in with Kate Gosselin and the family periodically with future specials.

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What’s not to love?

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 04:13 PM PDT

Our resident couch potatoes indulge in guilt trips ... on tellyland.

I AM going to lay my cards on the table, reputation be damned, and reveal my guilty television pleasures. I have several which I watch with varying levels of guilt. There is Grey's Anatomy which I watch simply because I find Eric Dane so beautiful; Brothers And Sisters because I enjoy the over-the-top family drama (and the humour is pretty good, too) and America's (or Australia's) Next Top Model because … well, I don't really know why.

And then there is the mother-of-all-guilty pleasures – the programme I watch in secret (curtains drawn, doors locked) because it's just too uncool to be caught watching. My biggest guilty pleasure is ... (shrinking in shame as the drumroll sounds) daytime soap ... The Bold And The Beautiful.

For those of you who don't follow the show, here's a brief synopsis – the daytime soap centres around the Forrester family, the first family in fashion in Beverly Hills. Head of the clan is Eric (John McCook) and his wife Stephanie (Susan Flannery) and the central characters are their sons Ridge (Ron Moss) and Thorne (currently played by Winsor Harmon; there have been at least three actors in this role since the series premiered in 1987).

As with all soap operas, the storylines go through insane twists and turns every episode and there are also endless family feuds, scandals, murders, meltdowns and misunderstandings.

I started watching the show back in 1990. At the time, it was aired close to midnight and since I was the only night owl in my house, I would watch the show in peace, all alone. Eventually though, everyone in my family learnt my secret. Then the TV station moved the show to mid-morning on weekends. Still, it was OK because my secret stayed at home.

But not for long. My sister had just delivered her first child and we had visitors streaming in, unannounced, on weekends.

One day, I was cradling my nephew while watching a particularly riveting episode of The Bold And The Beautiful when I saw a head pop through the door. Acck! A visitor. The door was unlocked and a whole family of five just walked right in. Blast. They glanced at the TV and looked curiously at me and that was it. My secret was out. I managed to feebly explain (read: lie) that I was just channel-surfing and happened to rest at the soap for a second but seeing that I wasn't holding the remote, I think they saw through my fib.

The curtains finally came down on my secret in 2006. An opportunity came to do a telephone interview with Moss, the star of the soap. Before I could stop myself, I volunteered for the job.

The interview was surreal. Ron Moss sounded exactly like Ridge Forrester and we spoke for about 30 minutes about the show and his romantic dalliances with Brooke Logan (Katherine Kelly Lange) primarily and Taylor Hayes Forrester (Hunter Tylo) – the two women his character was linked throughout the show's 20-plus years. It was most definitely surreal.

So why is this a guilty pleasure?

Guilt: It's cheesy. The stories are ridiculous (Ridge was married to Brooke; they got divorced. Brooke married Eric (Ridge's father); they got divorced. Ridge and Brooke kind of hooked up again but it didn't work because he was with someone else and had a conscience. Brooke married his brother Thorne; they divorced. Brooke and Ridge hooked up again and got married, again … the saga goes on and on and on). It's mindless. It's corny. It's not cool. It's ridiculous. It makes no sense. It defies logic. It is shallow.

Pleasure: It's so cheesy it's addictive; kinda like Nachos. The stories are so ridiculous, I just have to know what's going to happen next. It's so mindless that it's relaxing. It's so corny that it's delicious – again, like Nachos. The acting is over the top and overly dramatic – the15-second withering stares, the often-accompanied-by-dramatic-music smouldering glances, the incessant sobbing while clutching a lace hanky ... classic! - By S. INDRAMALAR

Hmmm, guilty pleasures, eh? Something that I shouldn't like but I actually do, right? And related to TV. Now that's a tough thing. I used to yell at my niece for watching MTV 24/7 in the late 1990s. MTV was definitely a guilty pleasure for her. Same goes for my 17-year-old daughter who loves watching the Kardashians, doing whatever it is they do so fecklessly well on TV. But me? I had to think really hard about what would constitute a guilty pleasure for me because quite honestly, if a programme doesn't inspire or educate in some way, chances are I will flip channels in less than three minutes.

That is, until last week, when I stumbled upon The Bachelor: Season 14. Yes, you read right. Believe it or not, folks – and these facts may astound you – The Bachelor and its spin-off series, The Bachelorette, have a combined 21 seasons in total! Obviously, a huge fraction of the television viewing public finds watching idiots looking for love in all the wrong places a pleasurable pastime, and without any guilt to boot!

The first 12 seasons of The Bachelor had an average audience of nearly 10 million viewers (in the United States alone). That's more than the population of New Zealand and Finland put together.

The Bachelor is an American (haha, who else would like to take credit for it) reality television dating game show which made its debut in 2002, hosted by game show host/news anchor Chris Harrison.

Incredibly, 25 women avail themselves for one man and he gets to eliminate them as the show progresses on whatever basis he so chooses. At first, the bachelor goes on large group dates with the women. As the season progresses, they are eliminated either after one-on-one dates and two-on-one dates, until he's left with just a final two "great gals" to choose from.

Anyway, I accidentally stumbled upon Season 14 featuring Jake Pavelka as the dashing suitor (I say that tongue in cheek, I assure you). I mean, he's cute and all but I had to watch just a teensy weensy bit longer to find out what was so special about this guy – what made him so desirable that these seemingy normal women would willingly flaunt themselves (and I mean that with a capital bikini-clad 'F') at him.

Pavelka is a 33-year-old commercial pilot and ... get this, former suitor from The Bachelorette! (How desperate can people get?) In fact, he seems to be a bit of a serial reality show participant, with a total of four shows now under his belt. And in a one-two guilty-pleasure punch, guess what? He's even starred in ... wait for it ... The Bold And The Beautiful! I wonder if they'll ever get Ron Moss to play The Bachelor (at least, the producers can be sure that Indra will watch it)! [Stop slandering me, Ann Marie! I like Ridge, not Moss.]

Before I knew it, I had actually watched the whole freakin' episode which was packed with drama – Ali got to go on a date with Jake (he flew her to their own private concert featuring the now-geriatric band Chicago) and contestant Rozlyn cheated on Pavelka with one of the producers! (Good God, I sure picked the right night to tune in).

Thanks to YouTube, I was then able accelerate my guilty pleasure to new levels in no time at all by fastforward/rewind/slow-mo-ing whichever episode I wanted.

Now, would you believe it? They even have a post show called The Bachelor Tell All! And did you know that former cast members have "Bachelor Cast Reunion Parties" (there's about 500 alumni now, after all)? And then there's The Bachelor Pad where rejects from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette get a second chance at love.

So anyway, I'm not quite sure if I should give you, unsuspecting viewers, any spoilers as to who actually wins Pavelka's hand, or what transpires two months later ... but I will tell you to look out for the episode when Jake and one of his bimbos go for a mud bath!

While you shake your head and roll your eyes, I'm off to watch more episodes of the post Season 14 drama. Who needs day time soaps when you can get reality TV like this with just as much drama (unscripted and completely natural ... yeah, right) and plots that twist like those monster contructions as Six Flags?

Guilt: It's almost tragic and yet I find myself watching episode after episode. How can I explain it? In the words of Lisa Simpson, "I'm sure there's a German word for it."

Pleasure: There are 21 seasons. That should keep me busy for some time. - By ANN MARIE CHANDY

Ann Marie is anxiously anticipating the production of Bachelor: Bold & Beautiful while Indra is still wailing about how her favourite show isn't being screened on Astro anymore. What are your guilty pleasures?

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Australian collar bomb suspect arrested in Kentucky

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 09:05 PM PDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky (Reuters) - A man wanted in Australia for allegedly strapping a fake bomb to the neck of a teenage girl was arrested on Monday near Louisville, authorities said.

Paul "Doug" Peters, an Australian who police in New South Wales were seeking to apprehend in connection with last month's sensational bomb hoax, was taken into custody without incident, the FBI said.

Peters had been staying at the home of his former wife outside La Grange, Kentucky, about 25 miles (40 kms) northeast of Louisville, the FBI said.

On August 3, a man wearing a balaclava broke into the Sydney home of Bill Pulver, the wealthy chief executive of a company that makes speech recognition and text-to-speech software.

The only person home was Pulver's 18-year-old daughter, Madeleine. The man strapped a device to the girl's neck that he claimed was a bomb he could detonate by remote control, and left behind a ransom note.

He also reportedly told the girl that the device had a microphone that allowed him to monitor her conversations.

The girl summoned help anyway and after a 10-hour ordeal, officers were able to remove the device, which turned out to be harmless.

Peters, who authorities believe left Australia on Aug. 8, will appear in court in Louisville on Tuesday.

Australian authorities will seek to have him extradited to face charges in the bomb hoax, the New South Wales Police Force said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ivonne Rovira and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Hackers protest in San Francisco subway

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 09:05 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Four San Francisco subway stations shut down temporarily on Monday during a demonstration organized by the hacker group Anonymous over police brutality and free speech.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit commuter train service had shut down cell phone networks in some stations on Thursday to stop demonstrators organizing a protest over the fatal shooting of a man by police last month.

"This was a complete silencing of the people." said Carlos Wilson, a 41-year-old gay rights activist who came to protest police brutality and the shut-down of the mobile phone network last week.

A few dozen protesters turned out for Monday's rush hour action, which ended when authorities shut down the Civic Center station. Later, three other stations closed briefly, apparently due to crowding.

Police said there were no arrests, although officers arrived dressed in riot gear.

Cell phone service was left on in the station during the action, and some protesters took that as a sign of victory.

"I have more cell service now than usual on BART. I think what they did last time was an empty threat. I have full bars," said Beck Simmons, a 21-year-old student.

Anonymous, a loosely knit group that has attacked financial and government websites, had called for protesters to descend on the station at 5 p.m. and media widely publicized the plan.

Would-be protesters were encouraged to download software for short-range mobile-to-mobile messaging, in case the in-station networks are shut down again.

BART said a website for its users,, had been hacked over the weekend, and contact information from at least 2,400 people had been stolen.

(Writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Anthony Boadle)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Biden seeks strong China ties under shadow of debt

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 09:05 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite festering tensions over debt, deficits and currency, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has one top priority during his trip to Asia this week: get to know China's next generation of leaders.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks to reporters after meeting with House Democrats about debt relief legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington August 1, 2011. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Biden leaves on Tuesday for a journey to China, Mongolia and Japan in what the White House views as further outreach to a continent at the top of its foreign priority list.

Biden's own priorities are multi-pronged.

He will press Beijing to allow its yuan currency to rise more quickly against the U.S. dollar, praise Mongolia for its successful democracy, and offer solace in Tokyo as it deals with the aftermath of the country's earthquake and tsunami.

But Biden's main goal will be building a relationship with his counterpart, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to become president in 2013.

"Simply put, we're investing in the future of the U.S.-China relationship," Tony Blinken, Biden's national security adviser, said in a conference call.

"One of the primary purposes of the trip is to get to know China's future leadership, to build a relationship with Vice President Xi, and to discuss with him and other Chinese leaders the full breadth of issues in the U.S.-China relationship."

Those issues span human rights, Taiwan, and -- casting a shadow over the trip -- the recent debate over the yawning U.S. deficit.

As the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, China wants sound management of Washington's fiscal problems, and berated Washington this month after its near-default on its debt.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed earlier this month on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit, but the divisive political debate helped prompt a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating from Standard and Poor's.

Biden's trip will be the first to China by a high-level U.S. official since the crisis.

"The Chinese are going to be extremely interested in getting his take on what has occurred and what will occur in the U.S. management of its deficit," said Kenneth Lieberthal, a foreign policy expert at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

"I think (there will be) an effort to reassure the Chinese that, despite the downgrade in the credit rating, the U.S. is still strong, that the country will recover, and that China's dollar assets are safe," said Paul Haenle, the director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing.


It is Biden's first trip to east Asia as vice president and the Obama administration has also invited Xi to come to Washington for a reciprocal visit.

Apart from raising concerns about the United States' economy and debt outlook, China's leaders are likely to press Biden about any plans to sell more weapons, especially new F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.

At stake is Taiwan's request for 66 new Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighter jets, a sale that China has warned would risk inflaming tensions between the two big powers.

People familiar with the matter said the sale of the advanced Lockheed Martin fighter jets is unlikely to go through, although they cautioned that the Obama administration has not made a final decision yet.

The State Department confirmed that no decisions have been made on arms sales to Taiwan.

"The vice president has no plans to raise the Taiwan issue, certainly not arms sales during his trip," said Daniel Russel, a White House national security adviser on Asian affairs. "We take our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act very seriously and we don't negotiate these issues with China."

The getting-to-know-you process will offset the more weighty issues at the heart of Biden's visit.

He will hold meetings with Xi and Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing and attend a meeting of U.S. and Chinese business leaders as well as meeting with President Hu Jintao. On the last day of the trip Biden and Xi will have an informal dinner at a local restaurant in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

"This trip will enable Vice President Biden to, you know, as a good politician does, take a read of the other guy," said Lieberthal of Brookings.

Xi, 58, is likely to succeed Hu as Communist Party chief at a party congress in late 2012, and then assume the presidency at a meeting of China's national parliament early in 2013.

His ascendance will not change the basics of the sticking points that dog the U.S.-China relationship.

Last month Xi vowed to crack down on separatist forces he said were led by the Dalai Lama, just days after the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader met President Barack Obama at the White House.

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley in Beijing; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

US, Europe, Asia stocks rise(update)

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 06:05 PM PDT

NEW YORK: The Dow Jones industrial average notched a three-day win streak Monday for the first time in six weeks. A US$19 billion corporate buying spree and encouraging economic news from Japan sent the Dow up 213 points and erased its losses from last week.

The return of what's called "Merger Monday" on Wall Street made investors more optimistic about the future. So did a report that Japan's economy shrank less than feared after the earthquake and tsunami there on March 11. That helped ease worries that the U.S. economy may slide into another recession.

The Dow rose 213.88 points, or 1.9 percent to 11,482.90. It has gained 763 points since Thursday. That's the best three-day point gain since it rose 927 in November 2008, during the depths of the financial crisis. The Dow is also up 7.1 percent over the three days, the biggest percentage gain since it rose 9.5 percent the first three days of the bull market in March 2009.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 25.68, or 2.2 percent, to 1,204.49. The Nasdaq composite index rose 47.22, or 1.9 percent, to 2,555.20.

Markets may have stabilized the last three days, but financial analysts warned investors not to assume that stocks have fully settled down after last week's swings. The Dow rose or fell by at least 400 points in four straight days for the first time. The first downgrade of the U.S. credit rating triggered the volatility. It was worsened by concerns that Europe's debt problems are worsening and that the U.S. economy is weakening.

"You might have these moments of quiet, but the debt crisis in Europe did not go away," said John Hailer, chief executive for the U.S. and Asia of Natixis Global Asset Management. "Our issues with the debt, with what our tax policy is going to be going forward, our unemployment did not go away."

"We are probably going to have to look at some very different levels of volatility than what a lot of investors grew up with over the last 25 to 30 years," he said.

A period of relative stability has been common in past volatile markets. In 2008, stocks plunged between mid-September and mid-November. From mid-November until the beginning of January 2009, the Dow was in a lull of sorts. It ratcheted up and down, mostly in the high 8,000 range. But in early January 2009, it began to plunge again and finally hit bottom at 6,547 on March 9.

Despite its three-day gain, the Dow remains down 9.8 percent since its most recent high on July 21 and down 10.4 percent since its 2011 high set on April 29.

More swings could come this week. Leaders of France and Germany meet Tuesday to discuss Europe's debt problems. Spain and other countries have borrowed so much that they may need help to repay their bills. Investors on Tuesday will get an update on how Spain's economy did during the second quarter.

Corporate deals dominated the news, as companies followed a years-long practice of announcing acquisitions on a Monday. The biggest was Google Inc.'s $12.5 billion cash purchase of wireless phone maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. It is also the biggest acquisition in Google's history. No. 2 was its $3.2 billion purchase of DoubleClick in 2008. Motorola Mobility's stock jumped percent 55.8 percent. Google fell 1.2 percent.

Among other deals: Time Warner Cable Inc. said it will pay $3 billion in cash for Insight Communications Co., which has more than 750,000 cable customers in the Midwest. Agribusiness conglomerate Cargill said it will buy animal nutrition company Provimi of the Netherlands for $2.16 billion. And in the energy industry, offshore driller Transocean Ltd. said it will buy Aker Drilling of Norway for $1.43 billion in cash.

Companies across the United States have accumulated a record amount of cash since the recession ended. They have increased their cash reserves every quarter for more than two years. Those in the S&P 500 index had a total of $963.3 billion at the end of March, according to the most recent data from Standard & Poor's.

Investors have been waiting for companies to use some of that cash on acquisitions, dividend increases and stock buybacks. Many market strategists believe that companies are more confident about the future if they're willing to buy other businesses. So a series of acquisition announcements tends to send stocks higher.

The growing cash hoard has been the result of strong profits. Companies have kept costs low by being slow to hire. Revenue, meanwhile, is growing, particularly from overseas customers. For the 460 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported second-quarter results, earnings were up 12 percent from a year ago.

It was the busiest day for acquisitions since July 11, when Express Scripts said it would buy Medco Health Solutions for $29.1 billion in a combination of the country's largest pharmacy benefits managers. The total value of deals targeting U.S. companies has climbed to $771 billion this year, according to Dealogic. That's up 55 percent from $498 billion at the same point last year.

Some companies are looking to pare back. Bank of America Corp. said it will sell its Canadian credit-card business to TD Bank Group. The bank will also get out of the credit card business in Britain and Ireland. The deals follow others that Bank of America made to move out of foreign credit cards, and they should help the company improve its balance sheet

Bank of America rose 7.9 percent, part of a rally for the financial industry. Financial stocks in the S&P 500 rose 3.2 percent as a group.

Energy stocks in the index rose 3.4 percent after crude oil climbed $2.50 per barrel to settle at $87.88.

Asian and European markets rose earlier after Japan said its economy shrank at just a 1.3 percent annual rate from April through June. That was less than half the drop that economists expected following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that struck the country in March.

Still, investors have more reason to worry about the weak U.S. economy.

Manufacturers in New York told the Federal Reserve they're increasingly pessimistic about growth. Manufacturing has been one of the strongest parts of the economy since the recession ended in 2009, but growth began to slow in March. Manufacturing nationwide barely grew in July.

Cosmetics company Estee Lauder Cos. fell 6.5 percent after it forecast earnings for the upcoming year that were below Wall Street's expectations. It also said its net income rose 72 percent last quarter on strong sales growth to China, Russia and the Middle East.

Lowe's Cos., the second-largest home improvement retailer, rose 0.9 percent after it said its net income was roughly flat last quarter on a 1 percent rise in revenue.

More than 10 stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume at 4.5 billion shares was below the 9 billion it reached last Monday and Tuesday. Volume was close to its average over the last year of 4.3 billion shares.

Global stocks continued their rebound Monday on hopes that the recent sharp volatility in the markets has run its course following a run of stronger than anticipated economic data and after Google announced a $12.5 billion deal.

Though concerns remain over the state of the global economy and Europe's debt crisis, many investors think the recent sell-off has been overdone and are snapping up potential bargains.

"Some stability appears to be returning to markets .... but businesses remain wary that the U.S. government isn't doing enough to arrest its massive budget deficit and that European governments aren't doing enough to avert financial contagion from infecting the banking system," said Sal Guatieri, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

The calmer mood has been helped by last Friday's better than expected U.S. retail sales figures for July and news earlier that Japan contracted by an annualized rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter of the year after the impact of a devastating earthquake and tsunami. The consensus in the markets was that Japan's economy would have shrunk by at least double that rate.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 closed up 0.6 percent at 5,350.58.

Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent to 6,022.24.

The CAC-40 in France ended 0.8 percent higher at 3,239.06.

Europe's debt crisis will likely return to the forefront of investors' thoughts Tuesday, when French leader Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet, and second-quarter eurozone growth figures are published.

The meeting is a day after the European Central Bank revealed that it spent 22 billion ($32 billion) last week buying government bonds. Analysts think a large chunk of the money splashed out was spent driving down the bond interest yields of Spain and Italy, who had seen their borrowing costs ratchet up sharply in the preceding weeks.

The ECB's purchases were the biggest weekly amount the bank has made under the emergency measure, exceeding the 16.5 billion it laid out when it started buying Greek government debt in May, 2010.

In Asia, stock markets rose Monday as data showed the economy of earthquake-battered Japan shrank less than expected.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed up 1.4 percent at 9,086.41 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shot up 3.3 percent to 20,260.10.

Mainland Chinese shares gained for a fifth trading day on expectations the government announce new measures to support growth. The Shanghai Composite Index added 1.3 percent to 2,626.77 and the Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.4 percent to 1,175.41.

Asian markets opened higher Tuesday as calm continued following last week's volatility.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index opened up about 50 points, or 0.5 percent, and was trading at 9,140.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index was up 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,296.3 at the opening.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 was up by more than 1 percent when the market opened. At midmorning, it was up by 0.9 percent, or 28 points, trading at 3,281. - AP

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Gold rally draws more investors back into the fold

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 05:56 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Investors returned to gold on Monday.

Gold joined most commodities in a stronger finish, largely driven by a weaker dollar. Since commodities are priced in dollars, a weaker dollar makes them more of a bargain for traders who use other currencies.

The precious metal also attracted investors who want to broaden their portfolios because of uncertainty about the global economy.

Gold for December delivery rebounded Monday, finishing up $15.40 at $1,758 an ounce, after it eased off a high just above $1,800 an ounce during last week's volatile trading. Gold is up 24 percent for the year.

Gold often is considered a relatively stable asset to hold during uncertain economic times. It also draws investors who use it as a hedge against currency movements.

"Everybody is looking at gold for some particular reason or another, from central banks looking for a currency hedge to the average investor looking to diversify their portfolio and move money out of dollars," said Dave Meger, vice president of metals trading at Vision Financial Markets.

Meger believes the fundamentals underlying the market will remain strong because of persistent concerns about U.S. and European debt issues and what that may mean for the global economy.

In Europe leaders are grappling with debt problems that threaten to spread from Greece, Ireland and Portugal to the much bigger economies of France and Spain. Commodities traders are concerned that if the debt problems spread, it would dampen demand for an array of commodities.

Meanwhile a dozen U.S. congressional leaders are working to produce a plan to cut the nation's deficit.

Silver and metals used for manufacturing all rose slightly on Monday.

In contracts for September delivery silver, which is used as a precious metal asset and in industrial production, added 19.3 cents to finish at $39.307 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $4.032 a pound and palladium fell $1.85 to $746.35 an ounce. October platinum rose 50 cents to $1,797.20 an ounce.

In other trading, oil rose nearly 3 percent as stock markets rallied and new data showed Japan's economy contracted less than feared in the months after the March earthquake and tsunami.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude gained $2.50 to finish at $87.88 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading for September contracts, heating oil rose 4.04 cents to finish at $2.9441 per gallon, gasoline futures gained 5.23 cents to $2.8745 per gallon and natural gas lost 3.6 cents to $4.024 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Corn, wheat and soybeans also rose.

September wheat added 10 cents to finish at $7.125 a bushel, December corn gained 5.5 cents to end at $7.20 a bushel and November soybeans rose 16.5 cents to $13.5125 a bushel. - AP

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Oil rises 3% on broad market rally

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 05:54 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Oil jumped to the highest level in more than a week on some positive news about the global economy.

Oil was also pushed higher by a fall in the dollar. As the greenback weakens, investors who hold stronger foreign currencies are able to buy more crude. Monday's 3 percent rise to more than $87 per barrel all but erased losses in oil markets last week.

Crude rose Monday after Japan's economy shrank less than expected from April to June.

"Last week, we saw a market that was really driven by fear," PFGBest Phil Flynn said. "The data out of Japan shows that the world isn't falling off the map."

On Monday the dollar sank and oil rose after the government reported that foreign investors cut their holdings of U.S. Treasuries in June. The 0.4 percent decline happened when lawmakers were still fighting over a deal to increase the nation's borrowing limit.

The stock market also rose after a wave of acquisition announcements bolstered investor optimism.

China, the world's second-largest oil consumer behind the U.S., said that it expects its consumption to increase this year by 6.5 percent, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery surged $2.50 to $87.88 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the highest finish since Aug. 3.

Brent crude, which is used to price many international oil varieties, rose $1.88 to finish at $109.91 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other Nymex trading for September contracts, heating oil rose 4.04 cents to end at $2.9441 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 5.23 cents to end the day at $2.8745 per gallon. Natural gas fell 3.6 cents to finish at $4.024 per 1,000 cubic feet. - AP

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Chong Wei vows to make amends by winning Olympic gold at same venue

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 06:23 PM PDT

LONDON: The titanic battle between two maestros of world badminton in the men's singles final in the World Badminton Championships at the Wembley Arena on Sunday has whetted the appetite of lovers of the sport.

And just thinking of a mouth-watering re-match between China's Lin Dan and Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei at the same venue in next year's London Olympics is enough to give everyone goosebumps.

On Sunday, Chong Wei and Lin Dan displayed skills of the highest quality in a heart-pounding final which ended with the latter coming from behind to win his fourth world title with a 20-22, 21-14, 23-21 win.

There was no shame in defeat for Chong Wei as he showed the world and Lin Dan that not much separates them as far as their standard and determination are concerned. Their duel has now narrowed down to who gets luckier during crunch situations.

A visibly disappointed Chong Wei, whose tears ran down his cheeks during the victory ceremony thinking of how close he came to being the country's first world champion since its inception in 1977, has vowed to make amends at the Olympic Games.

"From now all my preparation will be geared towards the Olympic Games. I will continue to give emphasis in training and look at ways to further improve my game," said Chong Wei.

"Lin Dan will be the main threat again. I am happy to say that our standards are about the same now. I gave my all because the world title meant a lot to me and this desire to get the better of him will only grow stronger."

Chong Wei said that China would be out to demoralise him over the next one year. Besides Lin Dan, they also have Chen Jin, Chen Long and Du Pengyu in the fray for Olympic glory.

The 21-year-old Chen Long, despite a shock first round defeat to Guatemala's Kevin Cordon, is expected to come back stronger from his first world meet debacle.

"China have a big pool of players. They will come after my scalp during the Olympic qualifying period to break my resolve. I will not let that happen," he said.

"It is also my hope that our younger players will step up. I will help in whatever way I can to raise their standard and confidence".

None of Malaysia's back-up shuttlers – Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng and Chan Kwong Beng – had played in the world championships. And with their world ranking far down the list, they are unlikely to make it for the Olympic Games.

National coach Rashid Sidek hopes that youngsters would be inspired by Chong Wei's performances at the world meet.

"Chong Wei was far behind Lin Dan's standard at one stage. But he has put in a lot of hard work to stand at the same level with the Chinese ace. That speaks volumes about his committment and hunger to make a difference," said Rashid.

"He was mentally strong. If not he could not have taken Lin Dan to the distance. Unfortunately, he was unlucky not to win. Chong Wei will come stronger after this."

Except for Chong Wei and probably the women's doubles Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty's gallant fight before going down to Japan's Mizuki Fujii-Reika Kakiiwa in the second round, there was nothing much to shout about for Malaysia at the world meet.

The top doubles pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong were a letdown after losing tamely to South Koreans Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong for the fifth time.

National doubles coach Rexy Mainaky has his work cut out for him if he hopes to turn the duo into medal prospects at next year's Olympic Games.

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Rookie Keegan stages great fightback to win his first major trophy

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 06:14 PM PDT

JOHNS CREEK (Georgia): PGA Tour rookie Keegan Bradley capped a stunning late fightback by winning his first major title in a playoff with fellow American Jason Dufner for the 93rd PGA Championship on Sunday.       

Bradley, who had trailed the pacesetting Dufner by five strokes with three holes to play in regulation, clinched the prized Wanamaker Trophy over three extra holes as the shadows lengthened at a sun-splashed Atlanta Athletic Club.

His victory, in his first major start, ended an unprecedented run of six majors without a US champion, and was his second title on the US circuit in his debut season.       

"This feels unbelievable," a beaming Bradley, 25, told reporters after becoming the first player to claim a Grand Slam crown in his maiden major start since fellow American Ben Curtis at the 2003 British Open.

The last player to achieve the feat on American soil was Francis Ouimet at the 1913 US Open.       

"I always wanted while growing up to win tournaments and win majors, and I can't believe this trophy is sitting next to me," said Bradley, who was ranked 108th in the world coming into this week.

"It's an honour to be even thought of in that category. And I'm very proud of the way I played. It's the best golf I've ever played, and man, it was so exciting."

Bradley holed a four-foot birdie putt at the first playoff hole, the par-four 16th, to hold an early advantage over Dufner, who missed his attempt there from six feet.

Though Bradley could only par the tricky 160-yard 17th where a large pond guards the front of the green, he found himself two strokes ahead after Dufner ran up a three-putt bogey.       

Bradley then sealed victory in the year's final major with a two-putt par at the treacherous 18th after both players found the front portion of the green with their approach shots.

After tapping in from less than two feet, the slender American acknowledged the roars from the crowd crammed around the green before shaking hands with Dufner, who had birdied the hole from long range.

Bradley, a nephew of LPGA great and World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, won his first PGA Tour title in a playoff with compatriot Ryan Palmer at the Byron Nelson Championship in May.

"Hats off to Keegan for coming in there in the last three holes in regulation," Dufner, 34, told reporters after losing a playoff for the second time this year on the PGA Tour.

"He played great playoff holes and it's probably not the finish I was looking forward to."

Co-leader overnight with PGA Tour rookie Brendan Steele, Dufner had been unflappable for much of the day and was five strokes clear while playing the par-three 15th after Bradley had tripled-bogeyed that hole one group ahead.       

However Dufner then fell back with bogeys at 15, 16 and 17 while Bradley sank birdie putts from nine feet at the 16th and 40 feet at the 17th to force a playoff.       

"If you told me I would play those holes even par for the week, I probably would have taken at the beginning," 80th-ranked Dufner said of the brutal four final holes on the Highland course.       

"Just a little disappointed right now, especially 16 and 17. Those are the ones that kind of stick out to me," added Dufner, who tied for fifth in last year's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits but has yet to win a PGA Tour title.

The pair had finished the 72 regulation holes on eight-under-par 272, Dufner fading to a one-under-par 69 while Bradley closed with a five-birdie 68.

Denmark's Anders Hansen closed with a joint best-of-the-day 66 to finish third at seven under, two strokes ahead of Swede Robert Karlsson (67) and American veterans David Toms (67) and the 47-year-old Scott Verplank (70).

Verplank, who trailed by one shot after making a birdie at the par-five second, had been bidding to become the second-oldest player to win a major, compatriot Julius Boros having clinched the 1968 PGA Championship aged 48.       

World number one Luke Donald and second-ranked fellow Briton Lee Westwood both got to within three strokes of the lead on the back nine before losing momentum on the way to matching 68s and a tie for eighth at three under. — Reuters

Final round scores

US unless stated: 272: Keegan Bradley 71-64-69-68 (wins play-off), Jason Dufner 70-65-68-69; 273: Anders Hansen (Den) 68-69-70-66; 275: Robert Karlsson (Swe) 70-71-67-67, David Toms 72-71-65-67, Scott Verplank 67-69-69-70; 276: Adam Scott (Aus) 69-69-70-68; 277: Lee Westwood (Eng) 71-68-70-68, Luke Donald (Eng) 70-71-68-68; 278: Kevin Na 72-69-70-67, D.A. Points 69-67-71-71; 279: Gary Woodland 70-70-71-68, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 69-71-71-68, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 72-69-69-69, Bill Haas 68-73-69-69, Nick Watney 70-71-68-70, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 71-71-66-71, Steve Stricker 63-74-69-73; 280: Brian Davis (Eng) 69-73-69-69, Phil Mickelson 71-70-69-70, Ryan Palmer 71-70-69-70, Matt Kuchar 71-71-68-70, Hunter Mahan 72-72-66-70, John Senden (Aus) 68-68-72-72, Brendan Steele 69-68-66-77; 281: Charles Howell 72-68-73-68, Robert Allenby (Aus) 72-70-71-68, Jerry Kelly 65-73-74-69, Bubba Watson 74-68-70-69, Mark Wilson 69-71-71-70, Scott Piercy 71-68-71-71, Brendon de Jonge (Zim) 68-72-69-72, Spencer Levin 71-70-68-72; 282: Chris Kirk 72-72-69-69, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 72-71-67-72, Alexander Noren (Swe) 70-72-68-72; 283: Matteo Manassero (Ita) 68-74-71-70, Ben Crane 71-72-66-74; 284: Johan Edfors (Swe) 71-70-73-70, Harrison Frazar 72-69-72-71, Ian Poulter (Eng) 74-68-70-72, K.J. Choi (Kor) 70-73-69-72, Bill Lunde 71-71-69-73, Jim Furyk 71-65-73-75; 285: Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 70-73-76-66, Ross Fisher (Eng) 71-69-76-69, Noh Seung-yul (Kor) 71-70-75-69, Andres Romero (Arg) 72-70-74-69, Yuta Ikeda (Jpn) 73-68-72-72, Brandt Jobe 68-69-73-75; 286: Rickie Fowler 74-69-75-68, John Rollins 72-72-70-72, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 70-68-74-74, Johnson Wagner 71-69-72-74, Simon Dyson (Eng) 68-72-71-75; 287: Ryan Moore 75-69-76-67, Ricky Barnes 69-75-71-72, Bryce Molder 74-69-70-74; 288: Michael Bradley 70-74-74-70, Zach Johnson 71-72-73-72, Kim Kyung-tae (Kor) 73-71-70-74; 290: Robert Garrigus 70-70-74-76, Kevin Streelman 73-71-71-75; 291: Sean O'Hair 71-73-77-70, Peter Hanson (Swe) 71-71-76-73, Padraig Harrington (Irl) 73-69-75-74, Rory McIlroy (Nir) 70-73-74-74, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 69-73-72-7; 292: Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 75-69-76-72, Yang Yong-eun (Kor) 71-73-74-74, Mike Small 73-71-70-78; 294: Paul Casey (Eng) 72-72-78-72, Davis Love 68-71-76-79; 295: Shaun Micheel 66-78-77-74, Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 73-69-73-80.

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World No. 1 Djokovic first to win five Masters titles in a season

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 06:12 PM PDT

MONTREAL: Novak Djokovic stopped American Mardy Fish 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 to win the Montreal Masters on Sunday, capping his competitive debut as world number one with a record-setting title.       

The sensational Serb began his reign in style becoming the first to capture five Masters Series events in a single season while extending his match record to a jaw-dropping 53-1.

The win also made him the first to capture an ATP tournament on debut as number one since Pete Sampras in 1993.

Back in action for the first time since his Wimbledon victory, Djo­kovic quickly found his footing on the Canadian hardcourts and only dropped a single set along the way.

"History-making, of course it's special," Djokovic told reporters. "Of course, it's an honour and privilege to be part of the history of the sport that I love and that I play.       

"I'm still 24. I still have lots of desire to win all the tournaments that I play.

Fish, who had enjoyed a brilliant hardcourt campaign to reach his third consecutive final, threw everything he had at Djokovic but rued missed chances to break his winless record against the Serb.       

"I felt like I had an opportunity today, I really did," said Fish. "I had a lot of chances in that first set and ended up losing.

"If you try to forget who you're playing against, you're just playing another player, maybe you can figure out a way to get a break or two there.

"I mean, there's a reason why he's won so many matches this year ... He's got to be leading the tour in break-points saved ... among other things."

The 29-year-old American failed to convert five break-points in the first four games. Djokovic, however, was not nearly as generous, breaking at the first opportunity to jump to 4-2.

The Serb then moved in for the kill, holding serve and breaking Fish again to take the first set.

The feisty Fish delivered on his promise of a fight in the second set, breaking his opponent twice to level the match, but Djokovic recovered and finished off Fish with a service winner to seal the third.       

Already highly fancied to add a US Open title to his Wimbledon crown and two Australian Open championships, Djokovic will continue his buildup to the year's final Grand Slam at Cincinnati next week where he could extend his record to six Masters Series titles in a season.

"I probably had a little mental advantage when you get on the court knowing that you're the player to beat," he added.

"But, on the other hand, it adds the pressure and expectations as well because you are a favourite to win each match you play, whoever you play against." — Reuters

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Actors share their experiences working on Chinese animation

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 07:28 AM PDT

Three actors relate how their voices do the acting in Legend Of A Rabbit.

AFTER so many years of watching Hollywood animations, we now have a Chinese competitor in the form of Legend Of A Rabbit (which is quite apt since this is the Year of the Rabbit).

The action comedy is helmed by Chinese director Sun Lijun, also the dean of the Animation College of the Beijing Film Academy.

Screening in Malaysia is the Hong Kong version featuring a Cantonese voice cast: Singapore-born, Hong Kong-based Tan Han Jin (as the chef rabbit, Tu Er) and Hong Kong stars Ekin Cheng (panda villain, Slash), Kay Tse (cat kung fu expert, Peony) and Teddy Robin (monkey kung fu master, Sifu).

In order to properly showcase traditional Chinese martial arts with visual animation, Legend Of A Rabbit features seven fight scenes choreographed by leading tai chi master Jing Jianjun.

The story follows Tu Er, who agrees to help the dying Sifu return a Kungfu Academy Tablet to his daughter Peony. When Tu Er makes it to town, despite an encounter with bandits, he discovers that the academy has been taken over by the power-hungry Slash.

Having promised Sifu, he stays on as a kitchen helper to find Peony despite being continually bullied by the kitchen crew. In order to take on Slash, Tu Er has to learn the true meaning of Sifu's martial art.

In separate phone interviews from Hong Kong, Tan, Tse and Robin, who all have experience doing voice-overs, shared their experiences working on the Chinese animation.

"Before Legend Of A Rabbit I'd only done the voice-over for Rio and it was for a supporting role. So, when I was asked to do this, I thought it was also for a supporting character. But, no, I was working with Ekin Cheng, Teddy Robin and Kay Tse," shared Tan, who was last seen as one of the protagonist's buddies in Bruce Lee, My Brother (2010), for which he was nominated as Best Performer at the 2011 Hong Kong Film Awards.

Tan also spoke of other challenges doing the voice-over.

"The script was written in Mandarin and not properly translated into Cantonese so I had to work with the voice-over coach to make it sound more Cantonese. The whole process was just so much fun. I believe Ekin, Kay and Teddy had to do the same, to make it all sound more natural."

When teased about his resemblance to the titular character, Tan laughed, "Ah, yes! We're both on the plump side, love to eat good food and say silly things."

It may not be Tse's first time doing a voice-over for a cartoon, but she has always played humans so she let her imagination soar when asked to voice the heroine Peony.

"The character's a cat, so I initially imagined that I had to add some feline sounds at appropriate moments," meowed Tse who gave a little demonstration, much to the media's amusement.

"But, that was before I watched the film. I discovered that I didn't have to do that as she was really a very cool character and spoke just like a hero would," offered Tse, who is better known as one of Hong Kong's current top four female Cantopop singers (alongside Joey Yung, Miriam Yeung and Denise Ho).

As for her biggest challenge, Tse admitted that they came in the form of combat sounds. "Since Peony was a martial arts expert and had several fight scenes, a national-level kung fu expert was invited to choreograph the combat scenes, which were really fun to watch. But, with me not being a fighter, it was quite a challenge using my voice to portray the fight sequences," the bubbly singer-actress explained, complete with another round of fight scene demonstrations.

Doing voice-overs is a piece of cake for Robin. "I've been recording for Rediffusion (equivalent to cable radio) since I was about eight. I also did many children's programmes.

"But, I haven't done too many cartoon voice-overs because my voice is too easily recognisable. Hence, I only take on roles that are deemed suitable for me," continued the China-born, Hong Kong-based Robin, 66, whose role in Gallants (2010) won him Best Actor kudos at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards as well as Best Supporting Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards, where he also won for Best Original Score.

Completing his voice-overs in less than half a day, the veteran actor-singer said things are much easier these days with the advent of technology. "I'd just have to record my part, and if the mouth or lip movements didn't quite match up, all they had to do was tweak it a bit using some image manipulation software. It was all done very quickly, without any fuss. Hence, it was such an easy and relaxing job for me."

As China's first 3D animated feature, the 90-minute film was the result of a team of 500 animators working over 1,000 days and nights. With a small investment of RMB120mil (RM56mil), and a production time of three years, Legend Of A Rabbit is set to rival Hollywood animations as the makers look forward to a US release.

Currently, the film has been snapped up by distributors in over 62 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Russia, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Holland, Turkey, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Disney's animation channel.

Legend Of A Rabbit opens in local cinemas on Thursday.

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Why the world is ready for 2 'Snow Whites'

Posted: 14 Aug 2011 06:50 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Moviegoers may want to take two bites of the same apple next year: A pair of live-action adventure flicks based on the Snow White fairy tale will come out in theaters just months apart.

As it stands, the first, still-unnamed Snow White movie is scheduled for release March 16. That gives moviegoers two and a half months before "Snow White and the Huntsman" on June 1.

Executives are confident that both projects can succeed, given their differences in stars, tone and plot.

However bizarre the coincidence is, history shows that two similar projects like these can both attract large audiences.

In May 1998, viewers turned out for "Deep Impact," a movie about a comet threatening Earth. They showed up again that July when an asteroid did the same in "Armageddon." ''Deep Impact" sold $349 million in tickets worldwide, and "Armageddon" followed with $555 million.

Audiences didn't duck for cover either when "Dante's Peak" blew in February 1997 only to have "Volcano" erupt that April. The first made $169 million and the other $120 million at the box office.

The latest standoff pits a couple of studios against each other — new studio Relativity Media and its longtime distribution partner, Universal Pictures.

Since 2005, Relativity had provided financial backing for most of Universal's new movies in a deal that was to last through 2015. But Relativity has been eager to make money from distributing as well, as it did with the March 8 release of "Limitless," which has sold more than $150 million in tickets worldwide.

So in June, Relativity passed its co-financing deal with Universal to Relativity's financial backer, Elliott Management. That paved the way for the two studios to compete head to head — Relativity with the unnamed movie and Universal with "Huntsman."

"Everybody kind of goes into this eyes wide open," said Tucker Tooley, Relativity's president of worldwide production. "It's the nature of competition. It's the nature of this business."

Universal executives declined to comment.

Executives argue that the two Snow White movies are spaced far enough apart so that advertising one won't inadvertently drive people to the other.

Most movies make 95 percent of their sales in the first four weeks. On average, people in North America see four movies a year. There's plenty of time to get refreshed and go out again.

"Ten weeks in the movie business is a lifetime," said "Huntsman" producer Joe Roth.

He should know. Roth was head of Disney's studios when its "Armageddon" opened second but still sold $200 million more in tickets worldwide than "Deep Impact."

The casts of both Snow Whites are also distinct enough to merit a return trip to the theater.

In Relativity's version, billed as a family comedy, Julia Roberts is in for an intriguing role reversal as the former "Pretty Woman" plays the Evil Queen.

"She's a very fun and evil and wicked Evil Queen," said producer Bernie Goldmann, who also produced "300." Nathan Lane is set to add a humorous touch as a bumbling Huntsman.

In Universal's epic action adventure, Kristen Stewart of "Twilight" fame gets "Karate Kid"-like fight training from buff Chris Hemsworth of "Thor." Hemsworth plays the mercenary Huntsman, who disobeys orders to kill her. The action-packed movie also involves a love triangle with Prince Charmant, played by Sam Claflin.

"At its heart, it becomes a girl's empowerment movie," Roth said.

Timing and casting aside, Snow White is a tale that has been told many times with many different plot twists. These versions follow that tradition.

In an early Italian retelling, the good guy we know from Disney's 1937 animated classic as Prince Charming rapes Snow White while she's sleeping, according to Tina Boyer, a professor of German at Wake Forest University. She awakes not to a kiss, but to her baby being born. Another tale has Snow White fleeing her father, not her wicked stepmother, because he'd like to make her his incestuous wife.

Relativity's movie has Snow White teaming up with the seven dwarves to fight the Evil Queen. In Universal's, she teams up with the Huntsman to fight back.

Reading the 20-plus different versions is partly what inspired Melisa Wallack to write her own take in the script that Relativity later bought, said Goldmann, Wallack's husband.

"It enabled us to understand that there was a lot of freedom in expanding the story," he said.

Evan Daugherty had written the other Snow White script while he was a film student at New York University many years ago. He also takes many liberties with the plot. Universal, now owned by Comcast Corp., bought it following a bidding war.

It helped that "Alice in Wonderland" sold $1 billion at the box office last year and revived interest in classic stories that feature young girls and have fallen out of copyright protection.

Even if producers of both projects saw success and jumped on the bandwagon, there aren't enough complex roles for young women these days anyway, said Marjorie Rosen, a professor of film and journalism at Lehman College. Having characters as rich as Snow White and the Evil Queen on screen is a blessing, Rosen said, even if there are going to be two versions of them.

She said pent-up demand for strong female leads has led to the success of a slew of recent bride movies, from "27 Dresses" and "Bride Wars" to the recent "Bridesmaids."

"Women were lining up for the first week or two because they were desperate for movies about them," Rosen said. "Maybe (the studios) are hoping that Snow White is kind of like that but better."

And if there's two, why not a third? Word has it that Disney has been working on a live-action remake of its animated classic for the past decade. In that one, Snow White ends up in a forest with seven Shaolin monks.

At its core, each iteration is about a dysfunctional family, something that touches everyone at some level. That may be why the story is still relevant today.

"They can take the basic themes if they want to and go with it because that's what fairytales and folklore are all about," said Wake Forest's Boyer. "They have to be reinvented. That's how they stay alive." - AP

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PM: Parliamentary committee to be formed to discuss electoral reform

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 06:32 AM PDT

Published: Monday August 15, 2011 MYT 7:36:00 PM
Updated: Monday August 15, 2011 MYT 9:32:10 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: A parliamentary select committee will be formed to discuss issues related to electoral reform before the next general election.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Monday that the committee would comprise representatives from the Government, as well as opposition parties, in response to calls for free and fair elections.

The aim of the committee was to come up with electoral reforms acceptable to both sides, he said in a speech at a 'buka puasa' function at the headquarters of the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) in Kuala Lumpur.

"The committee will discuss all electoral reform issues so that when the next general election is held, there will be no suspicion that there is any manipulation.

"We will only want to form a government if the rakyat truly choose Barisan Nasional. This is a message to all and I do not want any misconception that we do not want free and fair elections.

More in The Star on Tuesday

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PM: Media censorship no longer effective

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 06:29 AM PDT

Published: Monday August 15, 2011 MYT 7:57:00 PM
Updated: Monday August 15, 2011 MYT 9:29:46 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will review its current censorship laws as the current method is no longer effective, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"I have decided the old ways of censorship need to be studied. It is no longer effective and should be reviewed.

"As a government, we need to change policies and act accordingly so that we are not seen as a government that does not understand today's landscape," he said at the breaking of fast with the media hosted by Bernama last night.

If stories published about the Government were wrong, the publication in question could be sued, he said.

Najib admitted that the Government's censorship of The Economist's article on Bersih last month was ineffective and said that its censorship methods would be reviewed.

"Only one line was censored, but the act of censoring made more news than the news itself," he said.

More in The Star on Tuesday

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National Legal Aid to begin operation in Oct

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 06:21 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: The National Legal Aid Foundation (NLAF), where the needy can go to for free legal advice, is expected to be operational nationwide in October.

Its deputy chairman, K. Ragunath, said that, for a start, more than 1,000 volunteer lawyers, including the syariah lawyers, would offer free legal advice to the low income earners, comprising those with household income of less than RM2,000 a month or RM25,000 a year.

"About 80 percent of the accused charged in court for criminal cases are not represented.

"Hence, the formation of this foundation is timely because it will ease the burden of those from poor families," he told reporters at a media conference here on Tuesday.

He believed that the setting up of the foundation would meet the government's aspiration to ensure justice for all Malaysians.

The foundation was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last Feb 25 with a launching fund of RM5 million from the government.

Those with income of between RM25,000 and RM36,000 a year will be charged a minimum fee of RM300.

Ragunath said 15 NLAF branches would be set up nationwide and that the foundation could be reached at toll free number 1-800-889245 and 1-300-88-9245 (fax). - Bernama

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