Selasa, 23 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Raise your glass

Posted: 24 Aug 2011 07:08 AM PDT

Airability? A television show like The Glee Project gets top marks for bringing a gust of fresh air to the now-trite reality TV genre.

I LOVED watching Glee when it first came out and was addicted for a while, but then the stresses of everyday life set in and I was unable to find space for it in my daily schedule. This seems to be a problem for me nowadays; anything that goes beyond one season, I need to get on DVD and watch in one marathon session (sans baths, meals, daylight) because I just can't be bothered to tune in every week and have the process of watching seven seasons take seven years. Hence, when The Glee Project (GP) came along, I didn't bat an eyelid even, and I wasn't planning to indulge in it. More Glee that I could do without, surely, I foolishly thought.

Luckily, I have two teenagers who insist on keeping the television on for most waking hours of the day (and who seem to have watched every episode of every TV programme ever, even before it ever makes its way to these shores). What I saw in the first episode of GP, naturally whetted my appetite enough to make me want to get home the next day in time for Episode Two.

In terms of programming, I think it's a darn smart move to air three episodes in quick succession – Mondays to Wednesdays on StarWorld (even if an episode is repeated every Monday).

The show was aired in the United States in June (the finale during which the winners were announced happened just last Sunday ... and you probably already know who it is, but I shall not mention it here lest I spoil it for some of you).

I hate to admit it, but I'm even liking GP more than Glee now! Quick definition: GP is a reality show which serves as an audition process for TV series Glee (pure genius!). The very first show took viewers through a huge audition process right up to the selection of the Top 12 – GP did in one hour what American Idol now drags viewers through a torturous two months. Really, I can't applaud the GP makers enough for their outstanding, courageous and selfless editing.

In total, there are only 10 episodes in total, each 45 minutes long. It's quality over quantity every step of the way, which, I think is a huge favour the show does for itself – it allows absolutely no room for its audience to get bored with it.

The 12 contestants that were chosen – Damian McGinty, Bryce Ross-Johnson, Alex Newell, Lindsay Pearce, Matheus Fernandes, Samuel Larsen, Ellis Wylie, Emily Vásquez, Hannah McIalwain, Cameron Mitchell, McKynleigh Abraham and Marissa von Bleicken – are all between the ages of 19 and 22, very spunky, full of character and extremely talented. In fact, one can easily picture any of them in an episode of Glee. (The winner of GP is promised a role on Season Three of Glee).

You've got to hand it to the people who whittled them down from the thousands who turned up. These guys absolutely knew what they were looking for.

And that is, of course, because the person in charge of the auditions was Glee's own casting director Robert Ulrich (whom, I'm completely head over heels because he's so sweet, sensitive and he knows what he wants from the get go and isn't afraid to speak his mind. Robert Ulrich, you are my hero!). Ulrich also doubles up as the show's presenter and teams up with Ryan Murphy (Glee's creator, who appears the biggest diva of them all if you ask me) and Zach Woodlee (Glee's ever-so-cute dance choreographer) as the final judging team at the end of each episode (with catchy titles such as Individuality, Pairability, Theatricality, etc), when they decide who stays and who gets eliminated.

It is important to note that this is not really a talent show, as those chosen to move on are being chosen for how well they would fit into the existing series and if Murphy is able to write up plots and a character to suit them.

The team in charge each week – made up of Ulrich, Woodlee (and/or Brook Lipton, his assistant), vocal producer Nikki Anders (who looks like she could star on Glee too!) and video director Erik White – is top notch. They know what they are doing, they work excellently together and within a time-frame, they are strict yet likeable, they are magicians, it seems, because at the end of each show viewers get at least two excellent performances and some great live drama in the process too (which has turned out to be delightfully thought provoking and meaningful). It is a well-oiled machine, this Glee production company, and it is lovely to watch this Glee microcosm, or the process in which things get done.

Then, before you know it, the numbers are dwindling and you don't have enough time to really start loathing or loving any one of the contestants; although truth be told, I think Cameron (whom I've dubbed Robert Redford Jr) and Damien (from the land of Guinness, the Blarney Stone and Oscar Wilde ... what's not to like?) are totally charming.

Each week a mentor from the show makes a guest appearance, and so if you're a Gleek, you'll enjoy that behind the scenes look at your favourite actor too.

Really, there's nothing not to like about GP!

New episodes of The Glee Project are screened every Tuesday and Wednesday on StarWorld, while the repeat of the previous Wednesday's episode will be screened on Monday. Showtime is 8.55pm.

Letterman back at work after website death threat

Posted: 22 Aug 2011 09:29 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - Even a fatwa is grist for comedy when you're David Letterman. Back from two weeks' vacation and making his first TV appearance since a threat against his life was posted on a jihadist website, the "Late Show" host played it all for laughs during Monday's monologue.

Letterman began by thanking his studio audience for being there.

"Tonight," he said, "you people are more, to me, honestly, than an audience - you're more like a human shield."

Then he apologized for having been tardy coming out onstage.

"Backstage, I was talking to the guy from CBS," he explained. "We were going through the CBS life insurance policy to see if I was covered for jihad." Until Letterman delivered his jokes, his situation seemed no laughing matter.

Last week, a frequent contributor to a jihadist website posted the threat against Letterman. He urged Muslim followers to "cut the tongue" of the late-night host because of a joke and gesture the comic had made about al-Qaida leaders on a show that aired in June.

"A guy, a radical extremist threatened to cut my tongue out," Letterman marveled during Monday's monologue. Then, referring to his disastrous turn hosting the Oscars in 1995, he added: "I wish I had a nickel for every time a guy has threatened (that). I think the first time was during the Academy Awards."

"And so now," he continued, "State Department authorities are looking into this." But they could save themselves some trouble, he suggested: "Everybody knows it's (Jay) Leno."

Along with his monologue, Letterman mined the situation for his Top Ten List: "Top Ten Thoughts That Went Through My Mind After Hearing about the Threat."

Among them: _ "Why is the staff in such a good mood?"

_ "How can someone be so angry at a time when Kim Kardashian is so happy?"

_ "Some people get Emmy nominations; some people get death threats."

One joke that may have helped spark the fatwa was one of several lampooning al-Qaida in Letterman's June 8 monologue. This was just days after the death of al-Qaida leader Ilyas Kashmiri, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. Though Kashmiri was rumored to be a long-shot choice to succeed Osama bin Laden, he wouldn't have worked out even had he lived, Letterman cracked, pointing to Kashmiri's "rocky start" as a front-runner: "He botched up the story of Paul Revere."

The real butt of that joke: Sarah Palin, potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, who in early June on her "One Nation" bus tour had claimed that Paul Revere's famous ride was intended to warn British soldiers as well as his fellow colonists.

The website contributor, who identified himself as Umar al-Basrawi, railed in his post that Letterman had referred to both bin Laden and Kashmiri and said that Letterman, in discussing Kashmiri's death, had "put his hand on his neck and demonstrated the way of slaughter."

"Is there not among you a Sayyid Nosair al-Mairi ... to cut the tongue of this lowly Jew and shut it forever?" Al-Basrawi wrote, referring to El Sayyid Nosair, who was convicted of the 1990 killing of Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane. Letterman is not Jewish.

Al-Basrawi, considered likely to be an alias, has made some 1,200 postings to the Muslim website, according to Adam Raisman, an analyst for the Site Monitoring Service. The private firm, part of the Site Intelligence Group, provides information to government and commercial clients on what jihadists are saying on the Internet and in traditional media. Raisman said the online forum is often used by al-Qaida.

The FBI said last week that it was looking into the threat.

While Letterman and his writers were polishing their jokes Monday afternoon, outside on Broadway, a bomb-sniffing dog was led around the periphery of the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, ticketholders queuing up along the sidewalk seemed relaxed about attending Letterman's first taping since the assassination threat. Some were even unaware that his life had been threatened.

"I'm not worried. They've got metal detectors," said Kendall Phillips, a 25-year-old from Houston, noting a standard provision in the TV world for screening audience members. "Plus, it's like really hard to get tickets."


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Diet alone helps lower bad cholesterol - study

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 09:22 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A diet packed full of "cholesterol-lowering" ingredients such as nuts, beans and high-fibre grains cut bad cholesterol better than a low-saturated-fat diet, even though both diets were vegetarian, according to a Canadian study.

The drop in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol -- the so-called bad cholesterol -- was big enough that dietary changes could be an alternative to statin medications for many people, said researchers led by David Jenkins at the University of Toronto.

Waiter Will Phillips delivers a baked beans pizza at a new restaurant called "Beans Meanz Heinz" in Melbourne May 26, 2004. (REUTERS/David Gray/Files)

"There's no question that statins have made a major difference in terms of cardiovascular disease control," he told Reuters Health of the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

But at least for now, "we can only get so far with statins."

One in four adults aged 45 and older in the United States takes the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Jenkins and his colleagues wanted to see how big an effect a diet based on the pillars of cholesterol lowering foods could have on LDL numbers without statins.

They randomly split 351 Canadians with high cholesterol into three groups, all of whom were assigned to vegetarian diets. One group got nutrition counselling promoting a low-saturated-fat died for six months.

In the other two groups, dieticians helped participants fit more cholesterol-lowering foods -- including soy milk, tofu, nuts, oats, peas and beans -- into a healthy diet. The dieticians met with some people twice, others seven times.

After six months, people on the low-saturated-fat diet saw a drop in LDL cholesterol of 8 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) on average.

That compared to decreases of 24 mg/dL and 26 mg/dL in participants on the cholesterol-lowering diets. The average starting LDL was about 170 mg/dL, where a number 160 mg/dL and up is considered high.

That drop is really a lot, said Yunsheng Ma, a nutrition and heart disease researcher from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, who was not involved in the study.

"A lot of people rely on the medication, but diet is really powerful actually," he told Reuters Health.

"People ignore that. They think if they're on statins, they can do anything they want, they can eat the high-fat foods because the statins are going to take care of that."

One in five of the participants dropped out before the full six months, and even those that didn't had a hard time sticking closely to the diet plans -- but many still saw cholesterol benefits.

The researchers had everyone in the study who was taking statins to go off the medication for the diet intervention. Jenkins said the question of how diet and statins could lower LDL in tandem is one for future research.

But for those who like the idea of changing their diet instead of going on medications, this is a reasonable option, and doctors should try to encourage patients with high cholesterol to change their diets, Jenkins said.

While genetics or very high cholesterol may mean that diet isn't enough to get LDL down without statins for some people, a majority of patients could benefit from a dietary change, said Joan Sabate, head of nutrition at Loma Linda University in California.

"By changing the diet and their lifestyle he can establish good control of their cholesterol," she added.


(Reporting by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; edited by Elaine Lies)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Softer isn't safer for sleeping babies - study

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 09:22 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Many parents put soft bedding such as pillows and blankets where babies sleep, despite warnings that the cushioning increases the risk of infant death, a U.S. study said.

That's because many are under the impression that a soft sleeping environment means the baby will be more comfortable or protected from injuries, said Rachel Moon, from Children's National Medical Centre in Washington D.C. and one of the study's authors.

A baby sleeps on its mother's shoulder in the Munich hospital 'Rechts der Isar' January 18, 2011. (REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/Files)

"When it comes to babies' sleep environment, soft is not safe, it's actually dangerous," she added.

Researchers know that black babies are at least twice as likely as white, Latino and Asian babies to die of accidental suffocation, strangulation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as "crib death."

While some of that higher incidence may be linked to genetics, some is also likely due to parents unknowingly putting infants in a dangerous sleeping place, Moon added.

To find out whether black families know about the risks, Moon and her colleagues conducted one-to-one interviews and small group discussions with 83 black mothers in Washington D.C. and nearby Maryland. All had a new baby at home.

The researchers asked women if they used soft bedding and bumper pads in their baby's crib or other sleeping location, and why or why not.

While the interviews were only done with black mothers, parents of all races may misinterpret a paediatrician's recommendations or what constitutes a safe sleeping environment, said Debra Weese-Mayer, a paediatrician at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

According to findings published in Paediatrics, more than half of the mothers reported using soft bedding for their baby, telling researchers they wanted to make sure the children were comfortable and warm. They also said they used pillows as a barricade on beds or sofas, or to prop babies up.

"We were surprised that people use (soft bedding) because they think it's going to make their baby safer," Moon told Reuters Health.

"We weren't that surprised that people use it to make the babies comfortable."

Some mothers thought doctors' recommendations to use a "firm sleep surface" included a bed where a sheet was tucked tightly over pillows -- but that's still a dangerous sleep situation, Moon and her colleagues warned.

The mothers also used bumper pads on cribs if they worried that a baby would hit its head on the railings or get an arm or leg stuck. But as with pillows and blankets, bumper pads pose a suffocation risk, Moon said, adding that there really isn't any need for them -- especially for very young babies.

SIDS kills about 2,500 babies every year in the United States. Putting babies to sleep on their sides or stomachs is known to increase the risk, as is having them sleep in their parents' bed.

Fern Hauck, a SIDS researcher at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said she understood the desire to make babies comfortable with soft bedding in the hope that they'll sleep better and longer.

"But babies can pretty much sleep anywhere. If you get them used to a firm crib mattress, they're going to sleep fine on a firm crib mattress," she added.

All the experts agreed that awareness of the dangers needs to be raised across the board.

"(The study) is a very humbling lesson that even though we think we're giving a very clear message, if the parent and the caretaker are interpreting it in a way different from what we intended, we're not doing a very good job," said Weese-Mayer.

"If it can save some babies because we do a better job of translating our recommendations, that's wonderfully important."


(Reporting by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Gaddafi flees HQ ransacked by rebels

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 09:22 PM PDT

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A beleaguered Muammar Gaddafi vowed on Wednesday to fight on to death or victory after rebels forced him to abandon his Tripoli stronghold in what appeared to be a decisive blow against the Libyan leader's 42-year rule.

Libyan rebel fighters celebrate in Green Square, renamed Martyrs Square by rebels, in Tripoli August 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Gleeful rebels ransacked Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya bastion, seizing weapons and smashing symbols of a government whose demise will transform Libya and send a warning to other Arab autocrats facing popular uprisings.

Gaddafi said his withdrawal from his headquarters in the heart of the capital was a tactical move after it had been hit by 64 NATO air strikes and he vowed "martyrdom" or victory in his fight against the alliance.

He was speaking to a Tripoli radio station and his whereabouts after leaving the compound remain a mystery.

As night fell on Tuesday after a day in which rebels overran Tripoli, meeting little resistance with few casualties, heavy fighting was reported in a southern desert city, Sabha, that rebels forecast would be Gaddafi loyalists' last redoubt.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi were shelling the towns of Zuara and Ajelat, west of Tripoli, Al-Arabiya television reported.

In Tripoli itself, Reuters correspondents said there still appeared to be some hostile fire around the city centre as darkness descended and looting broke out.

Omar al-Ghirani, a spokesman for the rebels, said loyalist forces had fired seven Grad missiles at residential areas of the capital, causing people to flee their homes in panic.

He told Reuters Gaddafi forces had also fired mortar rounds in the area of the Tripoli airport.

Graphic on rebel leadership, click

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The continued shooting suggested the six-month popular insurgency against Gaddafi, a maverick Arab nationalist who defied the West and kept an iron hand on his oil-exporting, country for four decades, had not completely triumphed yet.

A spokesman for Gaddafi said the Libyan leader was ready to resist the rebels for months, or even years.

"We will turn Libya into a volcano of lava and fire under the feet of the invaders and their treacherous agents," Moussa Ibrahim said, speaking by telephone to satellite news channels.

Rebel leaders would not enjoy peace if they carried out plans to move to Tripoli from their headquarters in the eastern city of Benghazi, he said.

But Gaddafi was already history in the eyes of the rebels and their political leaders planned high-level talks in Qatar on Wednesday with envoys of the United States, Britain, France, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the way ahead.

Another meeting was scheduled for Thursday in Istanbul.

"It's over! Gaddafi is finished!" yelled a fighter over a din of celebratory gunfire across the Bab al-Aziziya compound, Gaddafi's sprawling citadel of power in the Libyan capital.


Opinion was divided about Gaddafi's whereabouts. Colonel Ahmed Bani told Al-Arabiya TV that rebels believed Gaddafi was probably holed up in one of many hideouts in Tripoli. "It will take a long time to find him," he said.

Rebel National Council chief Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who was until February a loyal minister of Gaddafi, cautioned: "It is too early to say that the battle of Tripoli is over. That won't happen until Gaddafi and his sons are captured."

Mahmoud Jibril, head of the rebel government, promised a transition toward a democracy for all Libyans. "The whole world is looking at Libya," he said, warning against summary justice.

"We must not sully the final page of the revolution."

Jibril said they had formed a new body including field commanders from a variety of local revolutionary groups to coordinate security. There is a long history of friction among villages and tribes, Arabs and ethnic Berbers, and between the east and west of a state formed as an Italian colony in 1934.

Western powers who backed the revolt with air power held off from pronouncing victory although they are keen for a swift return to order, given fears that ethnic and tribal divisions among the insurgents could degenerate into the kind of anarchy that would thwart hopes of Libya resuming oil exports.

But the fall of Gaddafi, with the arresting images on Arab satellite TV of rebels stomping through his inner sanctum and laying waste to the props of his long unaccountable domination, could be a shot in the arm for other revolts in the Arab world.

It could underline that entrenched authoritarian leaders are no longer invincible, particularly in Syria where popular unrest has widened despite ever fiercer military crackdowns by President Bashar al-Assad.


At the Bab al-Aziziya, long a no-go area, armed men broke up a gilded statue of Gaddafi, kicking its face. Others ripped up his portrait or climbed on a monument depicting a clenched fist, which Gaddafi erected after a U.S. air strike in 1986.

Another rebel sported a heavily braided, peaked military cap of a kind favoured by the colonel, who seized power in 1969. He said he had taken the hat from Gaddafi's bedroom.

"House to house! Room to room!" chanted some men at Bab al-Aziziya, calling for a search of its bunkers and tunnels in a mocking echo of the words Gaddafi used six months ago when he vowed to crush the early stirrings of the Arab Spring revolt.

Abdel Hakim Belhadj, a rebel commander, said he did not know where Gaddafi or his sons were. "They ran like rats."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "We're in the death throes of this regime ... But it's still a very difficult and dangerous time. It's not over yet."

On Tuesday night, youths danced in Tripoli's Green Square, another Gaddafi showpiece arena. They waved the red, green and black flag of the rebels to the sound of gunfire, though most of the city's 2 million people prudently stayed indoors.

One man greeted the fall of a third autocrat in the Arab Spring and forecast others would share their fate: "1. Tunisia 2. Egypt 3. Libya ? Syria ? Yemen," his sign read.

Rebel officials, who said they hoped to move from Benghazi in the east to the capital this week, spoke of trying Gaddafi in Libya rather than sending him to The Hague, where he and two others have been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

The Russian head of the International Chess Federation, who had visited Tripoli in June, told Reuters Gaddafi called him on Tuesday to say he would stay in Tripoli and "fight to the end".

But he had few places to make a stand. His home town of Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast between Tripoli and rebel Benghazi, was expected to welcome rebel forces shortly, Abdel-Jalil said. But Jibril spoke of a need still to "liberate" southern desert areas such as Sabha and of fighting there.

"It really looks like it's pretty much over," said David Hartwell, a Middle East analyst at IHS Jane's in London.

In the east of the country, government troops were pulling out of areas that are key to oil production, rebels said.

The U.S. State Department, in a signal of the kind of activity likely to gather pace in diplomatic meetings over the coming days, said it was seeking the immediate release of up to $1.5 billion of frozen Libyan government assets to the rebels.

(Additional reporting by Ulf Laessing, Missy Ryan, Peter Graff, Zohra Bensemra and Leon Malherbe in Tripoli, Thomas Grove in Moscow, Robert Birsel in Benghazi, William Maclean and Peter Apps in London, Hamid Ould Ahmed and Christian Lowe in Algiers, Souhail Karam in Rabat, Richard Valdmanis, Sami Aboudi in Cairo, Deepa Babington in Rome and Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip at the United Nations; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Alison Williams)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

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Moody's downgrades Japan's debt rating

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 05:50 PM PDT

TOKYO: Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded its rating on Japan's debt.

The agency said it lowered the rating because of Japan's large budget deficits and growing government debt.

Moody's cut Japan's government bond rating to Aa3 from Aa2.

The new rating is three notches below Moody's top Aaa rating.

It said the outlook for the rating is stable.

The downgrade puts Moody's Japan rating in line with other major agencies.

Both Standard & Poor's and Fitch rate Japan AA-, three notches below their top AAA ratings.

In May, Moody's warned it could downgrade Japan after the world's No. 3 economy slipped back into recession in the first quarter due to tumbling output and exports following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Frequent administration changes have prevented Japan's government from adopting effective long-term economic and fiscal policies, Moody's said.

The country's economic problems were compounded by the natural disaster and the subsequent nuclear crisis.

"These developments further hamper the economy's ability to achieve a growth rate strong enough to steadily reduce the budget deficit," Moody's said.

Moody's has maintained its AAA rating on the United States.

Standard & Poor's earlier this month took the unprecedented step of downgrading the U.S., citing its large deficits and political gridlock. - AP

For Another perspective from The Daily Yomiuri, a partner of Asia News Network, click here

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Oil price above US$85 on positive economic news

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 05:45 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Oil rose above US$85 per barrel Tuesday on encouraging economic news from Asia and Europe.

Prices climbed following reports of better-than-expected manufacturing activity in China and Europe. And stocks rose in the U.S. ahead of an expected announcement from the Federal Reserve on Friday about stimulating the nation's economy.

The positive news was offset by reports of more unrest in Libya's capitol as the Gadhafi regime appeared near collapse.

An end to the country's six-month rebellion would clear the way for oil exports to resume, but analysts cautioned that it will likely take more than a year for oil to begin flowing at levels that would affect prices.

"Crude from Libya is going to be a story for 2012 or 2013. Not today," said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

Fighting during the last six months has all but stopped activity in Libya's oil fields. The country previously supplied about 1.5 million barrels per day for world markets. That's roughly 2 percent of daily global oil demand.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.02 to finish at $85.44 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil produced abroad, increased 95 cents to $109.31 per barrel in London.

In other energy trading, heating oil rose 3.18 cents to end at $2.9425 per gallon and gasoline futures added 4.15 cents to finish at $2.8766 per gallon. Natural gas rose 10.4 cents to end the day at $3.993 per 1,000 cubic feet. - AP

Latest business news from AP-Wire

US stocks up, Dow has its best gain in 2 weeks

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 05:43 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Buyers returned to the stock market Tuesday after deciding the pounding stocks have taken the past month made them too cheap to resist.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 322 points, its best day since Aug. 11, when it gained 423. The Dow dipped about 60 points shortly after an earthquake hit the East Coast at 1:51 p.m., but recovered within 20 minutes and soared even higher in the last two hours of trading.

James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, said the beating stocks have taken since late July suggested investors were preparing for a recession. They questioned that bleak outlook Tuesday after a survey of manufacturing in the Southeast from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va. pointed to a slowdown, not a recession. "And when people are preparing for a recession, slow growth is good right now."

The Dow, which tracks 30 huge U.S. companies including IBM Corp. and General Electric Co., closed with a gain of 3 percent at 11,176.76. Indexes that track smaller stocks did even better, a sign that investors were more willing to take on risk.

The S&P 500 index rose 38.53 points, or 3.4 percent, to 1,162.35. The Nasdaq composite, which tracks mainly technology companies, rose 100.68 points, or 4.3 percent, to 2,446.06. The Russell 2000 index of smaller U.S. companies gained even more, 4.9 percent.

When stocks plunged last Thursday, the reverse was true. The Dow fell 419 points but only 3.7 percent. The other three indexes fell more. The Russell 2000 lost the most, 5.9 percent.

As of Monday the Standard & Poor's 500 index had lost 16 percent over four weeks as investors worried that the U.S. might enter another recession and as Europe's debt crisis flared up again. That meant the average company in the index was priced at just 11 times its expected earnings per share for 2011. "That's too low if you're not in a recession," Paulsen said. The historical average for the S&P's P/E ratio is 15. After Tuesday's gain, the S&P is down 14 percent since July 22 and 15 percent since it hit its high for year on April 29.

The biggest Dow gainer was Exxon Mobil Corp., which rose 4.9 percent. Chevron Corp. rose 4.3 percent. Energy stocks got a push from a $1.02 increase in the price of oil, to $85.44 a barrel.

Bank of America Corp. was the only Dow 30 stock to fall. It lost 1.9 percent Tuesday and is down 35 percent this month because investors have become increasingly worried about the bank's ability to raise capital and about its liabilities related to subprime mortgages. The latest disappointment came Monday with news that BofA will not sell all of its 10 percent stake in China Construction Bank. Investors had been hoping BofA would sell the stake to shore up its balance sheet.

UBS rose 5 percent. The Swiss bank said it will cut 3,500 jobs worldwide in the hope of saving $2.5 billion by the end of next year. UBS's stock has dropped 20 percent this year.

The Chicago Board of Options Exchange's volatility index, also known as the VIX, fell 15 percent to 36 as concerns about future turbulence eased. The index jumped as high as 48 Aug. 8 after trading below 20 for much of the year.

There's still fear that the U.S. could slip into another recession. Investors will be watching Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at the Fed's annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Friday.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.15 percent from 2.10 percent late Monday. The yield fell below 2 percent last week, its lowest on record.

The dollar fell against the euro and Japanese yen as investors moved money into riskier assets.

Five stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was higher than average at 5.2 billion shares. - AP

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Quake causes evacuation at New Haven tennis venue

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 06:11 PM PDT

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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (AP): Play was stopped and the venue evacuated at the New Haven Open on Tuesday after an earthquake that originated in Virginia shook the stadium on the Yale campus, sending fans bolting to the aisles and delaying play for more than two hours.

The earthquake swayed the stands during the third game of a match between Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Elena Vesnina of Russia.

"I never had experienced that before," Vesnina said. "It was so weird. On the court, we didn't feel anything, but I saw the upper level, and it was shaking. I said, 'Oh, my God, what is going to happen?' I was really scared."

The 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Virginia, shook much of Washington D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York City.

After evacuating more than 4,000 people from the stadium, New Haven's fire marshal and building inspector checked the structure for damage and declared it structurally sound.

Play resumed at 4:15 p.m. when chair umpire Sandie French said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the resumption of play of a match suspended because of an earthquake." Fans in the stands chuckled, and Vesnina then prepared to serve.

Vesnina was leading 2-0 when the quake hit and went to win 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

"It turned out to be just like a two-hour rain delay," said tournament director Anne Worcester. When the quake struck, fans weren't quite sure what to make of it.

Bob Pallaziolla, from Danvers, Massachusetts, said he thought there might have been a crash outside the stadium.

"Then there was another shake, and another shake and I realize it was an earthquake," he said. "It wasn't a truck that hit the stadium or somebody underneath us. It was actually an earthquake. The stadium cleared pretty quickly. Within five seconds people were running."

Gerard Murphy, 69, from Guilford, Connecticut, was sitting on a deck in a hospitality suite at the time. He felt the movement and thought perhaps youngsters were shaking the deck.

"Then I looked down at the fans in the seats in front of me and they were all leaving their seats and rushing up the aisle," he said. "I asked the girl for a beer on the way out."

By the end of the afternoon, the gift shop was already selling T-shirts that read, "I survived the 2011 New Haven Open."

MGA set a modest silver target for SEA Games team events

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 05:28 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) is only targeting a modest silver medal target for both the men's and women's teams in the upcoming Jakarta SEA Games in November.

MGA vice president Low Teck San has admitted that Phillipines, Thailand and Indonesia will be the ones to beat and getting silver is just a realistic target.

"As of now we have yet to finalise our team for the Games.

"We will only announce the team at the end of September," said Teck San after the venue launch of the 100Plus Malaysian Junior Open at the Saujana Golf & Country Club yesterday.

"For the men, so far we only have Gavin Kyle Green and Mohd Arie Irawan Ahmad Fauzi who are committed in participating in the event."

"We are also aware that Kelly Tan has an hectic schedule in the US but we're trying to persuade her to play in the Games as well because that will surely give our women's team an edge," said Teck San.

Kelly is the top national junior golfer in the country and is currently training in Florida where she competes in amateur tournaments there.

Meanwhile, 110 junior golfers from over 10 countries including Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, India and Taiwan will be participating in the Malaysian Junior Open which begins from Sept 12-15.

In the boys' event, last year's overall category runners-up Jeremiah Kim will lead the Malaysian challenge while Isza Fariza Ismail will be tasked with winning the girls' title in the absence of Kelly who has opted out due to a hectic schedule.

However, Isza who finished third in the Under-16 category last year will find it tough to win as defending champion Sarah Ababa of the Philippines is also competing.

Sarah is bidding to become the first golfer in the tournament's history to retain the overall crown.

Youngsters bag six golds in the Asia Pacific Rim Junior Invitational

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 05:28 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: It was not just the senior divers who flew the flag high for Malaysia at the World University Games in Shenzhen but the juniors were also making their presence felt on the other side of the globe.

Malaysian back-up divers did well to bag six golds, five silvers and six bronze medals in their first participation in the Asia Pacific Rim Junior Invitational Championships held in Wellington over the weekend.

Back-up diver Jasmine Lai Pui Yee underlined her talent with an upset performance in the girls' Group A (16-18) platform competition.

Jasmine finished with 404.05 points to take the gold ahead of fellow team-mate Kam Ling Kar (385.95 points) while Traisy Vivien, who took part in the World Championships in Shanghai last month, only managed fifth place (351.50 points).

Jasmine also partnered Ling Kar to take gold for Malaysia in the girls Open 3m springboard synchro with 274.68 points.

Ooi Tze Liang, who also competed at the world meet in Shanghai, won the boy's Group A 1m springboard competition with 537.15 points ahead of Zhi Dongwei of Shandong province.

Another Malaysian Chew Yi Wei was fourth with 448.90 points.

Tze Liang failed in his bid to complete a sweep of the platform titles in Group A when he settled for silver with 426.60 points behind Dongwei (505.95 points).

The Penang-born diver was not to be denied his second gold medal as he teamed up with Yi Wei to win the boy's Open 3m springboard competition with 323.49 points.

Loh Zhaiyi came out tops for Malaysia in the girls' Group B (14-15) platform and 3m springboard competitions.

Zhaiyi failed in her bid to make it to the podium in the 1m springboard where she finished fourth.

The biggest New Zealand diving event of the year brought together 60 junior elite springboard and platform divers with competitors from China, Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India and Croatia.

Malaysia sent four boys and four girls for the meet accompanied by coaches Yao Fu Ling and

Huang Qiang.

The strong showing certainly bodes well for the youngsters ahead of the Asian age-group diving

championships in Palembang at the end of next month.

Diving head coach Yang Zhuliang was happy with the performance of the second echelon divers in

their first major competition outside the country this year.

"With the exception of Tze Liang and Traisy, the others still have a long way to go to catch up with the seniors but they are on the right track.

"Their goal is to be ready for the World Junior Championships in Adelaide next year.

"Some of the back-up divers performed well and they might be going for the SEA Games in

Indonesia but it will be decided later," he said.


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Creature actor

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 04:06 AM PDT

Andy Serkis is becoming a household name but is still an unfamiliar face.

RISE Of The Planet Of The Apes is deservedly holding on to a second week at the top of the US box office as I write this, with takings already exceeding twice the investment and surely much more when the final accounting takes place some weeks later.

It has been far too long since I have watched a movie that is able to pay so much attention to characterisation without losing thread and track of the story it wants to tell, so long that midway through the film, I began smiling as I realised I was watching a modern classic in action.

James Franco is excellent in his dignified turn as Will Rodman, the scientist who inadvertently made the test apes smart in his search for a cure for Alzheimer's.

Freida Pinto is highly pleasant as the unobtrusive love interest. John Lithgow is his usual brilliant self as Rodman's Alzheimer-stricken father and the cause of his passionate search for a cure.

It was also interesting to see Tom Felton, aka Draco Malfoy, in a not so shabby performance as yet another villain in his first outing after the end of the Harry Potter franchise.

But it is Andy Serkis who makes the strongest impression as the actor behind the motion-capture digital Caesar, the chimpanzee who first attained self-consciousness and who leads other apes against their human tormentors.

Serkis needs no introduction to audiences – he is already well-known for being the voice and character actor behind the CGI creature Gollum in the Lord Of The Rings series from 2001 to 2003, a role he is set to reprise in The Hobbit, currently in the process of filming.

But not everyone will know him by sight because his face doesn't quite come into the picture in playing characters like Gollum, Caesar and King Kong, which he brought to life in the 2005 remake.

His facial anonymity is such that it was only when the end credits rolled that I realised he was the evil Capricorn in the 2008 Brendan Fraser fantasy Inkheart. His minor roles in other live action movies often go unnoticed as well.

The true distinction that Serkis has achieved is to gain fame despite playing the role of a creature, which in the past was associated with heavy makeup and prosthetics or required nothing much more than a warm being to fill the inside of a body suit, and whose occupant would often not even be in the cast list. Read: Easily replaceable.

With the advent of digital creations and the motion-capture technology, actors playing creatures now have a greater responsibility as their body language, emotional responses and often voice are the qualities that bring life to the creatures. They have also become less replaceable because of it.

Serkis, a British-trained thespian, is a true exponent in this modern art of digital-assisted acting. His Caesar stands out so strongly that I was not only able to single him out in the mass ape scenes, I was rooting for him in his fight against the humans.

It is no easy task to be a creature who can gain acclaim for acting as Serkis has done. The closest to it would be Robert Englund as the horribly disfigured killer Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise that spanned the 1980s and early 90s.

But Englund never got very far beyond the Nightmare films, starring in a few dismal horror slasher flicks that got nowhere at the box office.

And does anyone know who Peter Mayhew is?

Contestants of a game show on American television who had to guess who he was a few years back were also unable to get it right. He is the actor who played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars series and reprised it in the prequel, Episode III Revenge Of The Sith, in 2005.

When the creature is a substantial role, some established and often good actors would audition for it as they seem to believe that they can stretch themselves through their portrayals and perhaps win an award or two while they are at it. They are more often wrong than right.

In the 2001 version of Planet Of The Apes helmed by acclaimed director Tim Burton, big names Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter joined the cast. Roth played General Thade, the villainous chief of the ape army, and Bonham Carter portrayed Ari, the aristocratic, idealistic chimpanzee whose concern for the humans leads her to join Mark Wahlberg's human character in freeing those who have been enslaved by the apes.

Despite their known acting chops, both were unable to make any impact through the heavy prosthetic makeup that, while it made them really look like apes, also caused them to look like any other ape.

It is to Serkis' credit that he has been able to establish himself as a worthy actor despite the limitations of working behind a blue screen in a suit with motion capture sensors attached all over it. He has been able to stamp his personality on the creatures he has played.

His performance as Gollum was so convincing that in the run-up to the 2003 Academy Awards, rumours were rife that he would be nominated for a Best Supporting Actor award for his work.

However, digitally assisted CGI creatures, no matter how amazingly done, were regarded by the Academy more as computer creations than real acting, despite several directors' insistence otherwise.

Fast forward to 2009, and the same powers that be who decide on acting nominations for the Academy Awards are still unconvinced.

They ignored the great performances by Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington in the blockbuster hit Avatar because the Na'vi characters they play – the blue-coloured three-metre tall beings on the moon Pandora – were digitally assisted CGI ones.

But Saldana and Worthington seldom have to take to becoming creatures, they can find satisfaction through their usual work. We may not recognise the faces of the character actors who give life to creatures but it's time we recognise their contributions to the industry.

I would like to start the ball rolling by voting for Serkis as the Best Supporting Actor in his role as Caesar.

Long live Caesar!

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

In full control

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 04:06 AM PDT

Conan, the heroic fantasy figure, returns to the big screen in the form of Jason Momoa.

IT becomes apparent very quickly as to why Jason Momoa has been cast as the new Conan in Conan The Barbarian. Well, other than for obvious reasons, including the fact that he stands at 1.93m boasting a physique he crafted specifically for this role via an intensive physical daily regime involving both weight training and sword-fighting for a month and a half, and his unique features (thanks to a Hawaiian father and a German/Irish/Native American mother). And that reason is, the actor wears his confidence on his sleeve very proudly, something that came through loud and clear in this 10-minute telephone call from Los Angeles.

Momoa is the latest actor to embody the proud Cimmerian who lived during the fictional Hyborian Age, which featured lots of fights and some sorcery. Conan was originally conceived by Robert E. Howard back in 1932 and there have been a few movies and a TV series portraying this character already. The most famous version to date was in the 1982 film Conan The Barbarian, starring the then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger. A film that Momoa only watched three days before this interview in early August.

Momoa explained why he didn't think it was necessary to watch it prior to filming the movie. "We weren't remaking that. I am not making an Arnold film. I am making a Conan film. We're trying to bring Robert E. Howard's beautiful story – the comic books and the paintings – to life."

Regardless of this fact, comparisons are inevitable. Right? "Well, sweetheart, you are basically comparing Daniel Craig to Sean Connery for James Bond. Do you want to compare Daniel Craig to Sean Connery? Or you are comparing Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger as the Joker. It's impossible. There's nothing I can do to be Arnold and there's nothing Arnold can do to be me. It's two totally different characters. So I am not really worried about being compared."

This is not Momoa's first attempt at playing a noble savage. The 32-year-old portrays the undefeated warrior Khal Drogo, the warlord of the Dothraki tribe in the medieval fantasy HBO series Game Of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin's novel (premiering on Aug 28). In the series he showcases fearsome powers – he is a fearsome presence with his dark and glowering Goth-like eyes. In Conan, Momoa possesses an equally commanding presence, a guy destined for greatness – whether he admits it or not – because he's a chivalrous fellow who sticks by his friends, indavertently righting wrongs as he kills the bad guys.

In this film, Conan's story begins when he is born in the battlefield, as his mother goes down fighting the enemy. Raised by his father (Ron Perlman), the young boy becomes the perfect example of the phrase "that which does not kill you, makes you stronger". After proving his skills at fighting, his father makes him a sword and teaches him to wield it in the way a Cimmerian is supposed to – as if it's the most powerful weapon in the world.

Before that lesson can be completed, the village is attacked and every single Cimmerian is killed under the orders of a megalomaniac (Stephen Lang). Conan's life is spared when his father sacrifices himself. Now, with vengeance in his heart, the boy grows up to be a man with a self-imposed purpose – to avenge the death of his people, especially that of his father. Through the years, he exercises both his mind and body to be the ultimate fighting machine, with an ability to master the sword as if it were an extension of his arms.

Momoa, who did most of the stunts in the film, attested that one of the most challenging things about playing Conan was to keep injuries at bay. "You know you are going to be injured a lot when you play Conan. There's a lot of action."

He admitted that he found anything to do with horse riding challenging also.

But he totally enjoyed filming the scene when the audience catches the first glimpse of him because "It's the first time I've ever got to hold the sword and fight."

Born in Hawaii, the actor loves an active lifestyle, and this translates loudly and clearly in his choice of roles. But Momoa – who grew up with his mother in Norwalk, Iowa, after his parents divorced – has always surrounded himself with all things artistic.

"I am happy being an artist," he confessed. "I was raised by two beautiful artist parents and I just love anything artistic whether it's music, painting, acting, directing or writing. I just enjoy the art. It's a true expression and that's what excites me."

Hence, it would seem like this is the path he would naturally be inclined to follow from the start. Strangely, however, he initially wanted to become a marine biologist because he got a scholarship to study science. When questioned whether he would've gone down that path at some point, he answered: "I was going to be a wildlife biologist but I don't think I would've ended up as one. It's just something you do when you go to college and it's just something I excelled in. You know, most people go to college for something they never end up doing."

As for him taking the path to acting – he said he got into acting because "I auditioned for a show in Hawaii and I was on a TV show a long time ago when I was very young."

That TV show was Baywatch Hawaii, which ran for two seasons, when Momoa was 20. (Baywatch Hawaii is what became of Baywatch in its 10th season). When Momoa was done with that show, he went to see the world before finally settling down in Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. A couple of TV movies later, he was cast in the TV series North Shore and then from 2005 to 2009 he played the dreadlocked Ronon Dex in Stargate: Atlantis.

Nonetheless, not wanting to wait around for the perfect role to come along or put limitations on what he could or could not do, he decided to write and direct a short film last year. More recently, he has written another project which he plans to direct come November, in Africa, with his wife, actress Lisa Bonet – with whom he has two children.

"I don't like waiting in my trailer. I like being hands-on, being part of the process of storytelling. I think movies are the ultimate storytelling (tool) – you've got music, you've got story, you've got composition, you've got acting. I like that collaborative process and surrounding myself with other artistes in coming up with a piece of work. I love going to the movies to be transformed.

"Acting sometimes can be not fulfilling enough, not challenging enough. I think there are great roles out there and sometimes I can't get those roles. But when doing a film, you live and breathe that. I like the opportunity to do that."

According to Momoa, he is game to try any character. Right now he is in New Orleans, filming a movie headlined by Sylvester Stallone titled Bullet To The Head. "So this is me coming to the industry and the door is just opening with the possibility of me doing anything. I know that I am capable. Only me and myself know what I am capable of, so I think we'll be alright."

Conan The Barbarian opens in cinemas nationwide on Thursday.

A festival for all

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 04:06 AM PDT

The 24th Festival Filem Malaysia this year aims to create more awareness about itself.

THE Festival Filem Malaysia (FFM) is a multi-racial affair. Repeat, the FFM is a multi-racial affair. This is what the organisers want drummed into people's minds. Everyone can join in, anyone is eligible as long as you meet the criteria. The festival is not just for Malay language films.

When met at her Seni Wawasan 2020 office in Kuala Lumpur, festival media director Wendy Wong further explained: "Previously, the festival had given people the impression that it's a Malay film festival. The other races, it seemed, did not know much about the festival. So this time our intention is to create more awareness."

Wong said a category specially for non-Malay language films had been included in the last three years' festival, but last year the category had to be dropped because there were not enough entries of films of other languages. For the 24th edition of the festival this year, the organisers hope to have a wider variety of participating films.

"We had a great response to our (recent) soft launch from artistes of all races," said Wong. "Even Auntie Lai Meng, despite her age, came to support us.

"We want to reach out and show that all different areas of our entertainment industry support this festival and its activities.

"At the same time, we also want everyone to know that there are different categories for the awards. There is a category for films of other languages."

Soo Wincci, who was on an acting stint in Sabah, flew to Kuala Lumpur just for the launch, while singer-actress Elaine Kang returned from Singapore for the event. Wong said the soft launch also saw the attendance of some unexpected guests.

"Ah Niu had flown back to KL from Taiwan, but unfortunately it was already quite late," Wong revealed.

"But he had said he would attend if he could. There were also several Hong Kong directors who were shooting in Malaysia and they found out about the festival launch through word of mouth. One of them attended the launch."

However, a couple of Malay-language dailies complained about the lack of young artistes at the launch. Wong agreed with that point, and said perhaps the younger artistes were busy as there are a lot of productions going on nowadays.

"But for the veterans, they've been in the industry long enough to appreciate it, and they came to show their support," said Wong.

"Perhaps the younger artistes are more preoccupied with getting more acting jobs and are busier. But for the veterans, it's not always about money. There are other values they attach to the industry."

She also emphasised that artistes, especially the younger ones, should keep in mind that the FFM recognises and rewards local talents and is a platform to help the industry grow and develop.

This year, there will be a series of events leading up to the festival itself and the gala awards night on Nov 19. For this month, before Hari Raya Aidilfitri, there will be buka puasa events to collect funds for charity homes, and next month will see the kicking off of a series of roadshows nationwide, starting in Penang. A charity golf tournament is also in the works.

"People tend to think that artistes are only concerned about their looks and their acting, but they also have a heart for doing charity," said Wong. "And when you ask them to participate in charity events, they would readily come forward. This time they will help to raise funds for autistic children and single mothers."

However, famed director Datuk Yusof Haslam (who submitted his productions Khurafat and KL Gangster for the festival) was recently quoted in a Malay-language daily as saying the roadshows would be "irrelevant" as the Internet and various media channels are already available to help spread awareness and information about the FFM.

But Wong begged to differ: "It's a pretty different feel if you just see things on the Internet. Otherwise, why do we go to concerts? You can buy a CD and listen to it at home.

"Yes, if you want to check the latest news or get the latest information, the Internet is very useful. But if you want ambience or you want to get to know an artiste better, you obviously need to be up close with the person. ... Not many people have a chance to see the artistes in person."

But one thing is clear, despite the controversy earlier this year surrounding the pulling out of the Malaysian Film Producers Association from the Federation Of Film Artistes Association Of Malaysia (Gafim) which is in charge of the FFM, the organising of the events and the festival have not met any hindrance. Even the change in Gafim presidency, from Ahmad Puad Onah to Jurey Latif Mohd Rosli, has not affected the on-going work.

"There will always be a buzz about issues like that," said Wong.

"But whatever it is, the most important is to not lose sight of our objective. Everyone must remember we are not doing this for glamour's sake. We do it for our industry.

"Whatever happens, the work has to carry on. ... When you are committed to something, you have to deliver."


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KL Chinatown traders can stay on

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 06:16 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The 31 shop lots near Jalan Sultan will not be demolished for the construction of the Klang Valley MY Rapid Transit (MRT) project, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.

He said the shops would remain as they are an important part of KL Chinatown's identity.

"During the six months of constructing the MRT tunnel underneath the area, the occupants will have to evacuate their property but will be told to return after that.

"Buildings affected by the construction will be strengthened," he told reporters after attending a dialogue between the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), representatives of the Jalan Sultan traders and others at the SPAD headquarters here Tuesday.

Related Stories:
Chua leading delegation in dialogue over MRT project
SPAD to meet with Jln Sultan folk affected by MRT project

Home Ministry: More than one million job vacancies

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 05:17 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 1,051,427 job vacancies have been listed by eight ministries to be filled by Malaysians, before they are given to illegal immigrants given amnesty under the 6P programme.

Home Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim said of the figure, the International Trade and Industry Ministry had the most vacancies at 275,723, followed by the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry (237,700), Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (220,000), Construction Industry Development Board (165,000), Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry (140,000), Home Ministry (10,000), Tourism Ministry (2,041) and Transport Ministry (963).

"This statistics were made avaliable to the Home Ministry at a meeting to update the status on the 6P programme which was chaired by the Home Ministry secretary-general Monday," he said in a statement here Tuesday.

Alwi said most of the vacancies involved five sectors identified as the ones using the highest number of foreign workers which were manufacturing, production, plantation, agriculture and construction.

He said the vacancies would be advertised in several local dailies in stages beginning Thursday, and urged Malaysians particularly those who are still unemployed, to grab the opportunities.

Alwi said the next stage of the 6P programme would be matching the needs of employers with the list of illegal workers registered under the programme for vacancies not taken up by Malaysians.

Meanwhile, he said the total number of legal workers and illegal immigrants registered stood at 2,210,235 as of 8.30am Tuesday, and of the number 1,215,004 were ilegals.

"The ministry reminds all illegal immigrants to register before the expiry of the extended deadline on Aug 31 after which the 6P programme will enter its whitening phase (legalising or providing amnesty).

"Besides this, the ministry also wishes to reiterate that illegal immigrants will not be arrested when registering under the 6P programme," he said. - Bernama

S'gor Sultan denies advising formation of syura council

Posted: 23 Aug 2011 05:00 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has denied that he advised establishing the syura (consultative) council announced by Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim on Monday.

In a statement Tuesday issued by his private secretary Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani, the Sultan said reports in the media relating to the matter of the formation of the council were false.

He said Khalid had consulted him over meeting the management of the Damasara Utama Methodist Church over the check conducted on the church by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) recently.

The Sultan said he had only advised Khalid to invite the Selangor deputy mufti, along with the Selangor mufti, to advise on matters related to the Syariah regulations.

Therefore, the issue of the Sultan advising the state government to form a Syura council was untrue, said Munir.

The formation of the council, comprising state mufti Datuk Tamyes Abdul Wahid, his deputy Datuk Abdul Majid Omar and Khalid, was reportedly to be on the advice of the Sultan of Selangor.

Related Stories:
Syura council to look into church check


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