Selasa, 30 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

All aboard for cruising, North Korean style

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 09:29 PM PDT

ABOARD THE MANGYONGBYONG, North Korea (Reuters) - When you think of taking a cruise, usually it's the Bahamas, Fiji or the Maldives that generally come to mind. How about North Korea?

On Tuesday, the mysterious state launched itself into the glitzy world of cruise tourism when about 130 passengers set sail from the rundown port of Rajin, near the China-Russia border, for the scenic Mount Kumgang resort near the South Korean border.

Isolated North Korea's "state tourism bureau" has teamed up with a Chinese travel company to run the country's first ever cruise aboard an ageing 9,700 tonne vessel which once plied the waters off the east coast of the divided peninsula shuttling passengers between North Korea and Japan.

The ship was later used to transport cargo before Tokyo blocked its entry as part of economic sanctions over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear tests in 2006.

Some 500 North Koreans, about half dressed in dark workers clothes and the others in office and traditional attire, waved off the ship in a strictly choreographed performance on the potholed dock.

The spectators waved North Koreans flags and fake flowers, and let off a blast of paper fireworks to mark the occasion. Carnival music blared from two minivans with speakers on their roofs.

Before the setting off, the vice mayor Hwang Chol-nam of Rason City, of which Rajin port is a part, gave a speech lauding the venture as part of the region's push to attract tourism.

Hwang hailed what his city's rule which allows any nationality to visit the area visa-free. They must, however, arrange the trip through a designated tour companies.

"Any country, people from America, Japanese, Singaporean can come to Rason, that's the reality today, and that's the same for the Kumgang special economic zone," he told reporters aboard the vessel.

"If any foreign companies have an interest in conducting tours they just need to contact our companies."

The region has this year stepped up its campaign to woo foreign capital and in June broke ground on joint project with China to develop the area as special economic zone in attempt to make much needed hard currency.

The secretive North has been squeezed by international sanctions for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The North's move to attract foreign tourists comes amid a dispute with South Korea over their stalled joint tour programme at Mount Kumgang, just north of the border with rival South Korea.

Last week the North expelled the last remaining South Koreans at the resort and said it would now sell off South Korean assets valued at nearly $320 million in a move that prompted Seoul on Tuesday to ask others not to invest.

Earlier this month, a New York-based company said it had signed a deal with North Korea to run tours to the Kumgang resort.

The bizarre "test" sail was scheduled to take about 18 hours. A second trip is planned for businessmen next month.

The cruise, which sails the length of North Korea's picturesque eastern coastline, will appeal not only to the adventurous seeking "something different", but also to gamblers wanting to try their luck at the North's casinos in Rason and Kumgang.

(Editing by by David Chance)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

FACTBOX - Cost estimates of Storm Irene on U.S. states

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 09:29 PM PDT

REUTERS - The following are preliminary estimates of costs and damage left in the wake of Hurricane Irene on a state-by-state basis of affected areas.

Residents use paddle on a boat as they examine flooding in the town of Totowa, New Jersey August 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)


The city's chief financial officer received a request from the mayor for $10 million from the city's emergency contingency fund for recovery from both Irene and the earthquake that hit the city earlier in the week. The money will be released quickly, according to a CFO spokesman.

Mayor Vincent Gray said that the nation's capital "fared relatively well."

The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial was postponed from Sunday, during the brunt of Irene's deluge. Lost tourism-related revenue will not show up in the city's sales tax reports until October.


State officials in North Carolina are assessing damage and are not yet issuing broad estimates of losses, though farmers and seaside businesses are among those bracing for possibly substantial financial fallout.

Farming and agribusiness in North Carolina are a $70 billion industry and 75 percent of the industry is in the state's eastern counties hit by the storm just at the start of the harvest season.

Hotel operators, restaurants and vacation-home renters in North Carolina's Outer Banks worried that tourists in large numbers will skip a Labor Day-weekend visit to the resort region, even as parks and other attractions reopened.

"Flooding remains a serious concern for a number of areas down east," North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue said Monday. "Homes and buildings are at risk along portions of the Northeast Cape Fear and Tar rivers."


As a result of the record heavy rains caused by Hurricane Irene, there is historic flooding occurring in the region that has damaged numerous roads and bridges, destroyed 500 to 600 homes and devastated thousands of acres of farmland.

On Tuesday, New York State formally asked the federal government for an "expedited major disaster declaration" to cope with the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irene, with at least 26 counties still devastated, the governor said.

"The public assistance would reimburse communities for the costs incurred for debris removal and emergency protective actions taken in response to Hurricane Irene," Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.


New Jersey is one of the hardest-hit states, partly because it is so vulnerable to flooding. The price tag for damage could be substantial, perhaps in the "billions of dollars," Governor Chris Christie told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Christie asked the federal government for the same expedited disaster declaration for the state as New York.

Atlantic City casino resorts, closed ahead of the storm, reopened on Monday and Christie, who ordered tourists and residents of vulnerable barrier islands to evacuate, tried to lure them back.

Shore hotels, restaurants, fishing boats and others see their profits rise and fall with the weather, and Labor Day, often one of their most profitable weeks in summer, is Monday.

Still, in a sign of how much damage was done, some localities in coastal areas have not been able to reopen offices.


No estimates available


No estimates available


Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Peter Judge said they have no idea what the cost estimates are at this point. It will only be the latter part of this week that preliminary damage assessment teams venture out to start to put

an early dollar figure on the hurricane damage.

Between last Wednesday and the end of today, Cape Cod and the Islands are estimated to have lost about two-thirds of their normal hospitality business, amounting to about $35 million, according to Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. Northcross said that some of the losses are being made up as residents who lost power seek out hotels, and restaurants are packed.

"I hate to say it, but we are also getting people who say, "We were planning on going to Vermont but we're thinking of changing our plans."


It is a little too early to assess the impact on tourism, the second largest industry in Vermont after agriculture.

"We're still gathering that information and assessing it," said Vicky Parra Tebbetts, senior vice president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. "I don't anticipate whole towns are going to be stranded and cut off from the rest of the world for months on end, but the long-term repair of roads is another issue."

Jerry Goldberg, Executive Director of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the areas in Vermont hit hard by flooding, said that most of downtown Brattleboro businesses will not be affected by the flooding in terms of lost inventory

or direct impact. But he said tourism will be affected for a long time because people will have difficulty moving around the state.

"The real devastation is to our roads and bridges and access and egress issues," he said. "The impact of all of that is yet to be felt."


Rhode Island Governor spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said it is still early and she does not have any cost/damage estimates. She expects a briefing but could give no timeframe.


No estimates available


The state's emergency management agency told Reuters damage assessment teams are going out and it will have a better idea about when estimates will be available by the end of the week.


No estimates available


No estimates available

(Reporting by Joan Gralla in New York, Lisa Lambert in Washington, Michael Connor in Miami and Toni Clarke and Lauren Keiper in Boston; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

China, Russia rush to rebuild North Korea's transport links

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 09:29 PM PDT

RAJIN, North Korea (Reuters) - Destitute North Korea's push to breathe new life into economic relationships with its neighbours China and Russia appears to be bearing fruit in its far north of the country where foreigners are busy helping rebuild a crumbling infrastructure.

Interior Ministry officers stand guard near the train of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il following its arrival at Khasan station, after the train crossed the border between North Korea and Russia, near Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok August 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev)

A top local official told reporters on Tuesday that China and Russia had invested heavily in the region in order to gain access to its three east coast ports in the towns of Rajin and Songbon, which are the main centres for the secretive North's Rason Special Economic Zone.

"Rason is situated well geographically, and provides favourable conditions for investment," the city's vice mayor Hwang Chol-nam said through an interpreter.

The ports would more than halve the distance Chinese firms needed to ferry goods from landlocked Yanji in Jilin province to the major industrial centre of Dalian which is also a shipping hub for northeast China.

Impoverished and squeezed by international sanctions for conducting a series of nuclear and missile tests from 2006, North Korea has reached out to Moscow and Beijing for help to fill the gap left by the drying up of South Korean and the U.S. economic assistance.

Over the past 15 months leader Kim Jong-il, who in the past rarely travelled abroad, has visited China four times and last week made his first trip to Russia in nearly a decade. Kim's visits were mainly aimed at winning economic support, and have raised speculation he may finally be opening one of the world's most closed economies.

The North announced in June it would work with Beijing to make the Rason zone work, along a similar zone in the west at Hwanggumpyong island near the Chinese city of Dandong.


North Korean authorities this week escorted a group foreign journalists to the lush Rason area where they are hoping to secure foreign investment and raise much needed hard currency.

Over 100 Chinese bulldozers and diggers were seen working on a new mountain road connecting the Chinese border post of Jing Xin and the North Korean ports, while a new railway line linking the area with Russia is all but complete.

Hwang said that the North had also agreed in principle with a Chinese company to build a coal-fired power plant in the so-called Rason Special Economic Zone, where like the rest of North Korea, there is little power.

"We have finished all the feasibility studies," he told reporters visiting the area, adding he hoped construction on the new thermal plant would start next year. Asked the name of the Chinese company, he said: "It's a secret".

Hwang said the power plant would be coal-fired with a maximum capacity of 600,000 kilowatts.

"Power is the lifeline of industry, that is the first urgent problem for developing the Rason Economic Development Zone," he said, adding the zone had introduced new laws permitting international banking transactions, as well as tax incentives.

The North faces acute energy shortages, and in Songbin a massive thermal coal-fired plant lies idle, while oil refinery, complete with 30 massive tanks, sits derelict.

At night, Rajin is pitch black except for the few buildings with their own generators.

Russian engineers were seen working on the new rail line just outside of Songbon, about 20 km north of Rajin. "The Russians have constructed the railroad from the border city of Khasan to Rajin port, and they are finishing the project this year," he said, adding Russia has leased one of the ports.

The special economic zone near the border with Russia and China, was initially instigated in the early 1990s, but the project fell by the wayside due to lack of interest from foreign investors.

Hwang said the country's leader Kim Jong-il visited the area in 2009, and issued a directive to push ahead with the plan to promote international trade in cargo, and to develop the local fishing and tourism industries.

But even with the improved infrastructure, the twin ports still have a long way to go. A port meant for timber appeared to be in ruins, while the ports in the Songbon were rundown. Rusted and hole-ridden giant water pipes ran along another port near the derelict thermal power plant.

In the biggest port, Rajin, a 250-metre Russian transport vessel, named "Friendship", was moored with a trickle of smoke coming from its engines. It was unclear if it was operational.

None of the 15 giant cranes cargo were operating on the any of the three piers. A few fishing trawlers and small boats were tied to the piers, the longest of which measured about 500 metres.

Foreign experts say the North's plans to develop the port may just work given China's close involvement but doubt it will ever turn into major cargo hub.

Hwang said there had been considerable interest, mostly from Chinese and Russian companies, but also from Thai and Swiss investors. He said China's biggest cement manufacturer, Jilin Yatai (Group) Co. had agreed to build a factory with a 1 million tonne per year capacity. Textile companies from China and Taiwan have also expressed their interest.

Hwang also had his eyes on even bigger things -- shipbuilding, auto manufacture and the hi-tech industry.

"I think one year after the completion of infrastructure we will be at a high stage."

(Editing by David Chance and Jonathan Thatcher)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Doctor’s orders

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 02:17 AM PDT

Talk show The Doctors injects some zest into medical science with its panel of attractive doctors.

THE first thing that came to mind when I heard about The Doctors was – "Not another Grey's Anatomy!"

Well, I quickly found out that it isn't yet another take on cheesy medical drama (phew!). And in place of interns and residents who can't seem to keep their hands off each other, The Doctors, a Dr Phil spin-off is a daytime talk show that features a panel of doctors discussing a variety of health topics.

In the same vein as Dr Phil, The Doctors sees the panel deliver some serious medical advice in easily digestible, bite-sized chunks throughout the one-hour episodes.

Each doctor will weigh in on medical issues brought up by members from a live studio audience, as well as questions raised by users from the series' online community. Last year, The Doctors won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informative Talk Show.

The show, which premiered in 2008 in the United States is hosted by ER physician and television personality Dr Travis Stork, who also appeared in season eight of The Bachelor as (d'uh) the bachelor. With his honed physique and chiselled face, Stork is possibly the most visually-pleasing real-life doctor any television series has ever seen.

Season three of The Doctors unravels with Stork's "Project Unhealthy", an experiment he undergoes to illustrate how junk food affects the body. "I'm a healthy person. I didn't even know what it felt like to be unhealthy," Stork tells audiences on the show.

Throughout the five-day project, Stork's very own version of Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me, he gave up his healthy diet of fruit and yoghurt, veggie omelette and whole wheat bread and joined the grimy, oily fast food nation.

Other tele-genic experts on the show include Dr Lisa Masterson, an obstetrician/gynaecologist. The only female in the squad, Masterson deals primarily with issues related to the female anatomy such as birth control pills and hysterectomy, which is really a fancy term for the surgical removal of the uterus.

Then we have Dr Andrew Ordon, a plastic surgeon and reconstructive surgery expert. Ordon, who is known for dispensing frank advice on cosmetic surgery procedures on the show, also puts his scalpel to good use as the founding member of Surgical Friends Foundation. It is a charitable organisation that provides free surgical procedures to burn victims, abuse victims, people born with birth defects and others who cannot otherwise afford reconstructive surgery. Ordon has also worked with Smile Train, providing cleft lip and palate repairs.

Meanwhile, Dr James Sears, a smiley paediatrician, is arguably the most likable personality on the set. Sears, a father of two, says he loves working with children and has also been featured on other television talk shows like Dr Phil and Help Me Grow. He doesn't have the ostentatious charm of Stork or the sharp sassiness of Masterson, but Sears blends into the panel just as well with his brand of geeky charisma.

In a nutshell, The Doctors offers a brand new avenue for the discussion of medical sciences and health-related topics with the help of some very attractive doctors. What I like most about the series is that it highlights and adds professional perspective to everyday common knowledge such as the perils of obesity and cardiovascular diseases without being patronising or preachy. Stork, easily the most enthusiastic and emphatic of the lot, is especially exciting to watch.

I also look forward to Ordon's five-minute Fixes, a beauty segment on the show. Did you know that diaper cream makes a good facial mask? Well, according to The Doctors, baby diaper cream contains zinc oxide, which is great for your skin and helps to protect you from the sun. Plus, diaper cream contains aloe and other antioxidants that will make your skin smoother. Best of all, it doesn't cost a bomb. Now excuse me while I head over to the pharmacy ...

The Doctors airs on Li (Astro Ch 706) on Sundays at 11pm.

Jerry Lewis a no show at Telethon after 45 years

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 05:11 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - No one would sniff at all the dollars Jerry Lewis raised for muscular dystrophy: a couple of billion during his 45-year reign as host of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon.

But what kind of TV did he offer in exchange? The short answer: Jerry put on a show like no other.

Labor Day this year promises to be bland by comparison, with the 85-year-old Lewis now banished from the annual rite he built from scratch and molded in his image.

As if deflated by the absence of its larger-than-life host, "The 46th Annual MDA Labor Day Telethon" will fill just six hours (Sunday from 6 p.m. to midnight in each of the United States' four time zones), rather than the grueling 21{-hour endurance contest that Lewis used to churn through with his viewers in tow.

On this year's broadcast (which, ironically, will no longer be airing on Labor Day), a quartet of lightweights are standing in for Jerry: Nigel Lythgoe ("So You Think You Can Dance"), Nancy O'Dell ("Entertainment Tonight"), Alison Sweeney ("The Biggest Loser") and Jann Carl (billed as "an Emmy-winning journalist").

Celebrities will include Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Antebellum, Richie Sambora and Jordan Sparks.

It may be entertaining. It may spur contributions. But as a media event, this year's telethon can hardly match the display of wretched excess Jerry Lewis guaranteed, especially in his epic, unbridled prime.

"Jerry is a ferociously contradictory personality, and that's what makes him fascinating to watch," says satirist-actor-writer Harry Shearer, a Jerry-watcher for a half-century. He noted just two of Lewis' clashing identities: "the inner 9-year-old, set loose" and the would-be deep thinker "who fancies himself something of an autodidact."

"It all makes for psychodrama of a high order," Shearer marvels.

Year after year, Lewis bounced between the polarities of smarmy sentimentalism and badgering lunacy as if in a weightless environment. He put his multiple identities on raw display, each constantly jostling for the spotlight.

Hear him on a circa-1970s telethon introducing singer Julius LaRosa with syntax-butchering effusiveness as "the kind of human being that is wonderful to get close to and near, and then you pray that it's contagious" and as "what the literal translation of the word 'professional' means," in possession of "probably the best singing voice I think anyone has ever heard, when you listen to the heart that goes into it."

It was fascinating, ridiculous, cringe-worthy and spellbinding to see how Jerry held court for the parade of entertainers, the checks-bearing civic leaders and corporate sponsors, and the adorable, afflicted kids.

The Jerry Lewis telethon was a reality show decades before the term or genre had been invented. It was video retailing, years before QVC. It was round-the-clock TV companionship long before cable news and the Weather Channel.

For nearly a full day, it was a spectacle of show-biz glitz, heart-tugging emotion and suspense: Would Jerry make it to the end without unraveling? Would the level of pledges do justice to his efforts at soliciting them?

There was a perfect symbiosis of the telethon and Lewis.

He made muscular dystrophy as big a star as he had once been. Meanwhile, aligning himself with the search for its cure gave him the gravitas he had always sought. He branded the disease with himself, and vice versa.

He was not only the host of the telethon and chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (a job he would hold for 60 years), but the central figure in a massive enterprise as the self-styled avenging angel of a dread disease.

The contradictions, though, were legion, breathtaking to behold. Shearer covered the 1976 telethon during its heyday for Film Comment magazine.

"The telethon combines the hysterical mystique of the (Las Vegas) Strip superstar with equally hysterical desperation of the downtown lounge act," he wrote. "It mixes the glib disinterest of a TV star taping a thirty-second public-service spot with the glib agony of a comedian on a crusade."

There was the unresolvable question of Lewis' motives; he has famously refused to say why he poured so much of his life into MDA. How much of what he did was prompted by humanitarian urges? How much is explained by the voracious appetites of an attention hog?

And how to explain the choice of theme songs by Lewis for his righteous cause: the piteousness of "Smile (Though Your Heart Is Aching)," and, of course, the riotously inappropriate "You'll Never Walk Alone" with which Lewis, overcome by emotion, ended each telethon, daring his audience to consider it a cruel joke.

Lewis found a perfect counterbalance for his excesses and vanities in the purity and urgent need of "his" kids. Everything he did he was doing in their service, which, in his mind, absolved him of his carte blanche life-or-death extravagance.

It made him, at last, a success on TV. He was a comedian-singer-writer-actor-director-producer-movie star who, after splitting with his partner Dean Martin in the mid-1950s, had failed to match his other triumphs with any real television inroads. But on the telethon each year, for 21{ hours, he was the unquestioned boss of the Love Network.

It is not as if his TV acceptance was not a mixed blessing, as Shawn Levy observed in his Lewis biography, "King of Comedy."

On the one hand, Lewis was the star of a hit show "for which the nation not only dropped all else on a summer holiday weekend but actually opened its wallets." On the other hand, Lewis could never be certain "that it was to him and not his cause that the American public was responding with its support."

This has long since become moot, all the more so since Aug. 3, when, with no elaboration, MDA announced that Lewis had "completed his run" as national chairman, and that he would not be appearing on the telethon, as promised earlier.

Lewis has provided no insight into the matter. But it is hard to imagine how wronged he must feel after bonding with the telethon for so long. As Levy writes in "King of Comedy," Lewis "had conflated America's charitable instincts with love for himself as a public figure and even as one more lonely child."

The telethon will be on again this Labor Day weekend, in some faint version of what Lewis wrought. But for those who watch, and remember it with Jerry, it is likely to feel like a lonely affair.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Oil price rises

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 05:42 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - Oil rose to near $89 per barrel Tuesday on expectations that supplies will be tighter in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

The storm forced several refineries and petroleum terminals to reduce production or shut down altogether. The East Coast may deal with lower fuel supplies in coming weeks, and traders are betting oil and gasoline prices will rise. Meanwhile, another tropical storm - Katia - is strengthening to a hurricane out in the Atlantic and may eventually head toward the U.S.

Nobody wants to sell "when a month from now people will be talking about another monster hurricane," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.63 to finish at $88.90 per barrel in New York. Brent crude jumped $2.14 to end at $114.02 per barrel in London.

"There is clearly a worry about the contribution of some key northeastern refineries," said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

OPIS said that Sunoco's refineries in Marcus Hook and Philadelphia have slowed fuel production. ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania, cut back on production as well, while its Linden, New Jersey, facility was shut down. Hess Corp.'s Port Reading, New Jersey, refinery also cut production.

Analysts note that U.S. energy demand likely will decline after Hurricane Irene as massive flooding keeps many people off roads along the East Coast and in the Northeast, and millions of others remain without power.

Also on Tuesday a private firm said consumer confidence in August was at its lowest level since April 2009. That could point to lower fuel demand as well. Analysts say, however, that it may not affect prices until refineries are back to full production.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 5.94 cents to finish at $3.0767 per gallon and gasoline futures increased by 7.2 cents to end $2.8415 per gallon. Natural gas picked up 7.9 cents to finish at $3.909 per 1,000 cubic feet.

$5bil deal for Australian coal company long awaited

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 05:41 PM PDT

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The deal for Peabody Energy, the world's biggest private-sector coal company, and a partner to buy Australia's Macarthur Coal for more than $5 billion concludes more than a year of pursuit and continues widespread consolidation in that energy sector.

Macarthur, a major producer of pulverized coal coveted by steel producers, said Monday that it is recommending its shareholders accept a revised bid of $16 per share - a 44 percent premium over the stock's $11.8 close on July 11 before it was made - from St. Louis-based Peabody and Luxembourg's ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker.

ArcelorMittal already is Macarthur's second-biggest shareholder, with a 16 percent stake.

Twice spurned by Macarthur over the past year and a half, Peabody believes the sweetened deal would bolster Peabody's growing Australia operations, which already produce much of the coal sent to customers in the Asia-Pacific region - notably China and India - and which have been a key revenue driver for Peabody.

Macarthur would be swallowed up by a new holding company owned 60 percent by Peabody and the rest by ArcelorMittal.

While calling the deal "slightly on the expensive side," Brean Murray, Carret & Co. analyst Jeremy Sussman wrote in a research note Tuesday that "this likely transaction makes a lot of strategic sense for Peabody." The combination would give the U.S. company "precious" Australian terminal space while making Peabody a bigger player in producing the coal used in steelmaking.

Sussman affirmed his "buy" rating on Peabody stock and his target price of $81 apiece.

"We believe there is a very likely chance that this deal goes through as is," Sussman wrote.

Macarthur said Monday that a better bid still could arise, but there was no certainty one would.

The offer from Peabody and ArcelorMittal includes a "no-talk" limitation, meaning Macarthur is banned from talking to other potential buyers.

The deal comes on the heels of Alpha Natural Resources Inc.'s purchase of struggling Massey Energy Co. in a $7.1 billion buy announced in June. Alpha, the nation's fourth-largest coal producer by revenue, said then that the acquisition will offer greater access to international markets.

Peabody, undertaking what it has called its biggest expansion in its 128-year history, considers the deal for Macarthur - with roughly 270 million tons of coal reserves - "a major step," Peabody chairman and CEO Gregory Boyce said.

Aditya Mittal, ArcelorMittal's chief financial officer, urged Macarthur shareholders to accept the joint offer.

Peabody, which fuels roughly one-tenth of all U.S. electricity generation and more than 2 percent worldwide, also has signed an agreement to develop a huge Chinese surface mine expected to produce 50 million tons of coal a year for decades.

Sussman, in his research note, said such ventures should "help Peabody further cement its status as the bellwether of the coal space."

Peabody shares rose 4 cents to close at $48.63 on Tuesday and climbed another 8 cents after hours.

US stocks rise on hopes for more stimulus from Fed

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 05:39 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - The mere discussion of more economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve was enough to send stocks higher Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 20 points, its third day of gains.

Minutes from the Fed's latest policy meeting on Aug. 9 showed that central bank officials discussed a variety of options to bolster the economy, including buying more Treasury bonds. In the end, they decided to keep interest rates low until at least mid-2013.

The news that more aggressive action was being considered gave investors a reason to buy stocks. "They want to see stimulus and they hope stocks will go higher," said Joseph Saluzzi, co-head of stock trading at Themis Trading.

The Federal Reserve has purchased Treasury bonds twice in the past as a way to keep long-term interest rates low. The Fed's first bond-buying program was in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. The second, announced last August, helped to push the Dow up 28 percent through April 29. Lower interest rates on bonds give investors an incentive to move money out of bonds and into stocks and other assets.

Stocks were mixed for much of the day Tuesday after an index of consumer confidence plunged in August to the lowest level since April 2009. Trading volume was also lighter than normal because many investors are on vacation.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 20.70 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 11,559.95 Tuesday. The Dow was down as many as 109 points five minutes after the consumer confidence report came out at 10 a.m. It traded mixed for most of the day and turned higher in the last hour of trading. The Dow has risen for three days straight, and six out of the last seven.

Boeing Co. rose 2.2 percent, the most of the 30 companies in the Dow, after the aircraft maker said it received approval from its board to build a version of its workhorse 737 jet with a redesigned engine. That should help it compete better with rival Airbus.

The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 2.84 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,212.92. The Nasdaq composite index rose 14, or 0.6 percent, to 2,576.11.

Companies that rely most heavily on consumer spending had some of the biggest losses. Retailers Kohl's Corp. and Lowe's Cos. each fell 2.2 percent. Best Buy Co. Inc. fell 0.8 percent.

The sharp fall in the measure of how U.S. consumers feel about the economy could mean weaker sales for retailers and makers of consumer goods like clothes and shoes. Retailers are in the midst of the critical back-to-school shopping season, which can account for as much as 25 percent of their annual revenue.

Trading volume, or the number of shares bought and sold, was lower than usual. About 3.97 billion shares exchanged hands on the New York Stock Exchange, almost a third less than Aug. 8, when stocks plunged on massive volume after the U.S. government's credit rating was downgraded.

Low volume is worrisome because it suggests that relatively few investors are driving the stock market's gains or losses. That creates the risk for bigger price swings, said Stephen Carl, principal and head of equity trading at The Williams Capital Group. A lack of volume also indicates that some investors don't believe that stocks are worth buying right now.

Stocks have swung widely in August. The Dow was down as much as 7.4 percent for the year on Aug. 10, but it is now down 0.2 percent. On Monday the Dow soared 254 points, its fourth-largest gain this year. Insurers rose the most after it became clear the damage from Tropical Storm Irene wasn't as bad as analysts had feared.

Bond prices have also been volatile. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note briefly fell to a record low below 2 percent on Aug. 18 on a very weak report on manufacturing in the Northeast from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. On Tuesday, the yield fell to 2.18 percent, down from 2.27 percent late Monday.


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Beauty and style have no meaning for England’s rugby team

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 05:52 PM PDT

BAGSHOT (England): "Football is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom."

It is fair to say the philosophy of Danny Blanchflower, captain of the Tottenham Hotspur team that 50 years ago won English soccer's league and FA Cup double, is not shared by Martin Johnson.

Indeed the England rugby manager, on the eve of his squad's departure for the World Cup, made it clear he didn't care how his team won in New Zealand, so long as they did.

Critics of Johnson's England will suggest they'd only be too delighted for their opponents to expire and that there have been many times since he took charge three years ago when they've indeed bored their own supporters, never mind anyone else, without the compensation of victory.

The contrast between Australia's 25-20 Tri-Nations win over New Zealand on Saturday and England's somewhat more prosaic 20-9 final warm-up match success against Ireland, the same day in Dublin, did indeed seem stark.

One sure-fire way to annoy Johnson, England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain, is to suggest his team 'do not play rugby'.

England were much criticised for a lack of cutting edge in a recent 19-9 warm-up defeat by Wales - "you'd have thought the world had caved in," said Johnson - but they did score two tries against Ireland.

And Johnson, as befits a former lock, knows better than most there is more to 'playing rugby' than flowing backline moves.

"Australia play the way they play - you have got to be able to play different ways to win a tournament," said Johnson, bidding to lead England to a third successive World Cup final following their 15-6 defeat by South Africa in Paris four years ago.

"Argentina will come and do what they do," added Johnson of England's opening pool opponents in Dunedin on Sept 10.

"If everyone played the same way it would not be as much fun. Teams will do what they have to do to win. Whether people think that is 'playing rugby' is all playing rugby."

But Johnson, in a tacit admission that England's back-play may not always have been up to scratch, added: "We are getting there. We have got some good balance but it is the ability to change on the hoof.

"I haven't seen all of the New Zealand game (against Australia) but they came out and changed at half-time.

"If it is effective and that is what you need to do, it is playing rugby. Kicking it in the air and chasing it can get you to a World Cup final if you do it well enough," added Johnson in a reference to the tactics employed by the 2007 Springboks.

"When we beat South Africa in 2003 that was the most pressurised game," said Johnson of England's 25-6 World Cup quarter-final win in Perth. "We beat them by 19 points and everyone said that wasn't very good.

"I would have taken winning by one point. If you win by a point, you are still in there fighting.

"World Cups are about handling the pressure and performing over a long period of time and not getting distracted by what people say.

"If you can handle that, and just try to win the game, good things happen." — AFP

Dulgheru stuns Wimbledon champ, Sharapova and Federer advance

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 05:51 PM PDT

WIMBLEDON winner Petra Kvitova crumbled in the first round of the US Open on Sunday, as Maria Sharapova showed her championship mettle with a battling victory.

Kvitova tumbled out of the tournament at the hands of unheralded Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru while Sharapova – who she beat for the Wimbledon crown – eked out a three-set win over British teenager Heather Watson.

On the men's side, third-seeded Roger Federer secured a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Colombian Santiago Giraldo, although he was far from his fluent best.

Kvitova, ranked seventh in the world and seeded fifth, made 52 unforced errors in a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 defeat to 48th-ranked Dulgheru.

Meanwhile, Sharapova battled back from a set and a break down to beat Watson 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

It was another post-Wimbledon disappointment for Kvitova, the 21-year-old Czech who has been unable to build on her Grand Slam breakthrough.

"It's something new for me," Kvitova said of the pressure of carrying the title of Grand Slam champion into a tournament.

"Everything is in the head," she added.

"If you are thinking on court negatively, it's bad."

In an erratic showing, Sharapova made 58 unforced errors, but notched 41 winners helping her remain unbeaten in a dozen three-set matches this season.

"The best thing about this match is I gave myself a chance to play another one," Sharapova said.

Federer did the same, and while he wasn't at his sharpest in the early going the outcome was never in doubt against the 54th-ranked Giraldo, who has failed to beat a top-10 player.

"Couldn't be better," the five-time champion said. "It was a great atmosphere, great ovation when I walked out. I really enjoyed it."

Federer acknowledged that it wasn't his best tennis, but said it didn't have to be.

"It doesn't need to be pretty," Federer said. "I don't think I've ever played my very, very best in the first round."

Federer will no doubt need to be more convincing over the coming days at Flushing Meadows, where he is seeded behind world number one Novak Djokovic and defending champion Rafael Nadal.

A five-time US Open champion, Federer won the most recent of his 16 Grand Slam titles at the 2010 Australian Open, and he needs a triumph here to extend his streak of eight consecutive seasons with at least one Grand Slam crown.

He started slowly under the lights on the Arthur Ashe stadium, with 17 of his 35 unforced errors coming in the opening set.

"As the match went on, I think I started to get more solid and better and that's a good feeling to have," Federer said, adding that he thought the Flushing Meadows courts were playing slower this year than in the past.

Mardy Fish, playing his first Grand Slam as the top-ranked American, opened the action at the Arthur Ashe stadium, where he beat Germany's Tobias Kamke 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.

"This is extremely different for me, this feeling coming out here and trying to show everything you can, to show you're the number one guy, at least for this tournament," the eighth-seeded Fish said.

Fish next faces Malek Jaziri, a qualifier ranked 184th in the world who became the first Tunisian to win a Grand Slam match when he beat Dutchman Thimeo de Bakker 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

Colombian Alejandro Falla, ranked 119th in the world, survived three match points to topple 15th-seeded Serbian Viktor Troicki 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.

France's Gael Monfils, the seventh seed, advanced with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-4 victory over Grigor Dimitrov.

Serena's sister Venus Williams, who is unseeded after a season spent largely on the sidelines, advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Russian Vesna Dolonts.

Venus, winner of back-to-back US Opens in 2000 and 2001, was playing her first match since Wimbledon and just her fourth tournament of the year.

"It's always nerve-wracking to play the first match after a layoff in a major," said Venus, who grinned and clenched her fist after firing a service winner past Dolonts on match point. "But I just tried to rely on experience and just tried to get after it."

Other seeded women who advanced included second-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva, a finalist here last year, eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli of France and ninth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur.

Zvonareva defeated France's Stephanie Foretz-Gacon 6-3, 6-0. Bartoli beat Russian Alexandra Panova 7-5, 6-3, and Stosur beat Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-3.

China's 13th-seeded Peng Shuai defeated American Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-4 and 12th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beat her younger sister Urszula Radwanska 6-2, 6-3. — AFP

First round results


Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukr) bt Frederico Gil (Por) 6-4, 6-2, 7-5; Flavio Cipolla (Ita) bt Kei Nishikori (Jpn) 6-4, 6-2 (retired); Ivo Karlovic (Cro) bt Fernando Gonzalez (Chi) 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3); Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr) 6-4, 6-4, 6-0; Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Romain Jouan (Fra) 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1; Fabio Fognini (Ita) bt Horacio Zeballos (Arg) 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4; Philipp Petzschner (Ger) bt Albert Ramos (Spa) 7-5, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3; Janko Tipsarevic (Srb) bt Augustin Gensse (Fra) 6-2, 7-5, 6-0; Marcel Granollers (Spa) bt Xavier Malisse (Bel) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4; Mikhail Kukushkin (Kaz) bt Albert Montanes (Spa) 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5); Bernard Tomic (Aus) bt Michael Yani (US) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4;

Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Ryan Harrison (US) 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6); Radek Stepanek (Cze) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) 6-4, 6-1, 6-3; Juan Monaco (Arg) bt Andreas Seppi (Ita) 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, 6-2; Tommy Haas (Ger) bt Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy (Fra) 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1; Michael Llodra (Fra) bt Victor Hanescu (Rom) 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; Kevin Anderson (Rsa) bt Go Soeda (Jpn) 6-1, 6-3, 6-0; Malek Jaziri (Tun) bt Thiemo de Bakker (Hol) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2; Mardy Fish (US) bt Tobias Kamke (Ger) 6-2, 6-2, 6-1; Alejandro Falla (Col) bt Viktor Troicki (Srb) 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5; Gael Monfils (Fra) bt Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-4; Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spa) bt Pablo Andujar (Spa) 1-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3; Roger Federer (Swi) bt Santiago Giraldo (Col) 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.


Alexandra Dulgheru (Rom) bt Petra Kvitova (Cze) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3; Monica Niculescu (Rom) bt Patricia Mayr (Aut) 6-3, 6-3; Madison Keys (US) bt Jill Craybas (US) 6-2, 6-4; Lucie Safarova (Cze) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (Svk) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2; Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Urszula Radwanska (Pol) 6-2, 6-3; Peng Shuai (Chn) bt Varvara Lepchenko (US) 6-3, 6-4; Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul) bt Virginie Razzano (Fra) 6-2, 6-3; Laura Pous (Spa) bt Misaki Doi (Jpn) 6-2, 6-7 (12-14), 5-2 (retired); Julia Goerges (Ger) bt Kristina Barrois (Ger) 6-3, 6-2; Anastasiya Yakimova (Blr) bt Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (Tha) 6-0, 4-6, 6-3; Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Heather Watson (Bri) 3-6, 7-5, 6-3;

Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) bt Zhang Shuai (Chn) 6-3, 6-4; Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt Alexandra Panova (Rus) 7-5, 6-3; Maria Kirilenko (Rus) bt Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3); Irina Falconi (US) bt Klara Zakopalova (Cze) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2; Anabel Medina Garrigues (Spa) bt Karin Knapp (Ita) 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-3; Laura Robson (Bri) bt Ayumi Morita (Jpn) 7-6 (7-5), 1-0 (retired); Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukr) bt Lucie Hradecka (Cze) 6-3, 6-0; Vera Zvonareva (Rus) bt Stephanie Foretz-Gacon (Fra) 6-3, 6-0; Nadia Petrova (Rus) bt Chan Yung-Jan (Tpe) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4; Romina Oprandi (Ita) bt Melanie Oudin (US) 6-0, 7-6 (7-9); Vera Dushevina (Rus) bt Anastasija Sevastova (Lat) 6-3, 6-4; Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Sofia Arvidsson (Swe) 6-2, 6-2; Venus Williams (US) bt Vesna Dolonts (Rus) 6-4, 6-3; Christina McHale (US) bt Aleksandra Wozniak (Can) 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4; Polona Hercog (Slo) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (US) 6-1, 6-3; Alla Kudryavtseva (Rus) bt Anastasia Rodionova (Aus) 7-6 (7-1), 7-5.

Isinbayeva and Ennis dethroned, Rudisha rockets to 800m gold

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 05:51 PM PDT

RUSSIA'S athletics queen Yelena Isinbayeva became the latest victim of what is developing into a curious curse at the World Athletics Championships as Jessica Ennis lost her heptathlon title and David Rudisha rocketed to 800m gold yesterday.

Pole vault Olympic champion and world record holder Isinbayeva featured on the cover of the event's official programme on day four - and like the cover stars on each of the past three days suffered a shock and ignominious exit.

On day one Australian Olympic and defending world pole vault champion Steve Hooker appeared and swiftly exited without even completing one successful jump.

Day two's cover showcased Usain Bolt - disqualified from the men's 100m final - and Monday was the turn of Dayron Robles who was stripped of gold for bumping in the 110m hurdles.

Isinbayeva at least got off the ground, but her failure to clear 4.80m was a miserable showing from one of athletics' genuine greats.

Instead Brazil's Fabiana Murer took gold with a distinctly lukewarm 4.85m, way short of Isinbayeva's 5.06m world mark. These gripping Daegu Games have so far been shaped by high drama and disqualifications - notably world's fastest man Bolt and the burly Robles - but finally athletic performance was the focus.

For Ennis, though, it was not the performance she wanted.

Three poor javelin throws where she never got beyond 40m left the British athlete trailing Tatyana Chernova with only the 800m to go.

She was never going to beat Chernova by the nine seconds she needed to become the first Briton to retain a world title.

"It's a silver medal so I can't beat myself up too much but I obviously wanted that gold," said 25-year-old Ennis. "I haven't shed any tears yet but I might. After the javelin I knew I'd thrown it away."

One athlete you would bet the farm on in 800m, though, is Kenyan Rudisha. The rangy Masai simply ran from the front and nobody could catch him, winning in a time of 1:43.91 ahead of Abubaker Kaki of Sudan. Rudisha is now unbeaten since the 2009 worlds. — Reuters


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Clooney's latest opens Venice film festival

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 04:52 AM PDT

VENICE, Italy (AP): George Clooney's "The Ides of March" opens a star-studded Venice Film Festival that promises appearances by two other Hollywood actor/directors.

Clooney's cynical political drama is among 23 films - five from Hollywood - vying for the coveted Golden Lion, which will be awarded Sept. 10.

The jury will be headed by Darren Aronofsky, a two-time Golden Lion winner whose "Black Swan" was launched to huge success after opening in Venice last year.

"The Ides of March" opens the 68th edition of the world's oldest festival Wednesday. Clooney will be followed on the Lido by other Hollywood actor/directors Madonna and Al Pacino, both premiering biopics out of competition.


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Get into the activities at BookFest

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 02:22 AM PDT

A host of fun events is happening at BookFest@Malaysia 2011. Here's a brief taste.

IT'S not just the great bargains at the Popular BookFest@Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre that draw throngs of people each year; the events line-up has always been a popular complement to book browsing.

This time around, there's a variety of events, including the Galaxie/Kuntum dance-off performance and Nonya Flavours cooking demonstration organised by Star Publications (M) Bhd as well as the "One Book, One World" colouring competition by fest organiser Popular Book Co and supported by The Star. And that's just a few of the many, many activities that are taking place at the KLCC this week.

Here's a brief run down on the events mentioned; for a complete list of daily author appearances and activities, go to

Love that Nonya

The cooking demonstrations are always a crowd favourite, and this year, an entire day will be dedicated to it. On Cook-Out Day this Saturday, chefs will be on hand to share how to prepare a wide variety of recipes, from Penang cuisine to Cantonese dishes, biscuits and bread to and Nonya dishes.

One of the chef's who will be making an appearance is Debbie Teoh, chef and author of Nonya Flavours: A Complete Guide to Penang Straits Chinese Cuisine that was published by Star Publications (M) Bhd and The State Chinese (Penang) Association. Teoh will be demonstrating how to whip up two delicious dishes featured in her book: Kari Kapitan (Kapitan chicken curry) and Kerabu Beehoon (kerabu vermicelli).

One of the main dishes featured in Nonya Flavours, the Kapitan chicken curry is best enjoyed piping hot, says Teoh.

"It is a thick, slightly spicy and fragrant chicken dish that keeps well. You may cook the curry a day in advance and just reheat it the next day," Teoh says, adding that this makes it a great party dish.

The Kerabu Beehoon, a light and refreshing salad dish with rice vermicelli, is easy to prepare and does not require any stir-frying.

"The sambal belacan is a very important ingredient in this dish. Prepare all the ingredients, toss them together, and you will have a light and delicious meal!" she says.

With a father who is a Malaccan Baba and a mum who is a Penang Nonya, Malacca-born and bred Teoh has spent the last 15 years as a Nonya chef. Also very much at home with Indian, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, Teoh says she also enjoys baking and making desserts. Her diverse interests are reflected in Nonya Flavours; it features more than 150 recipes, including main dishes, kuih, pickles, desserts and drinks.

There will be a food tasting session at the end of the cooking demonstration. Nonya Flavours will also be available for purchase – so here's your opportunity to get Teoh to autograph your copy!

(Look out for more information on Cook-Out Day in Star2 on Friday.)

Colour their world bright

It's the biggest colouring competition at the bookfest yet! In fact, the response to this year's contest was so overwhelming that the venue had to be changed to the big banquet room space. The 600 participants, who range in age from seven to 12 years old, will be spending a few happy hours on Friday with their Stabilo colour pencils. Judges are Stabilo artist Uneh, a representative from Popular and a representative from The Star. Prizes worth a total of RM9,000 are up for grabs.

Dancing stars

Come and be entertained by an upbeat hip-hop dance performance by the Floor Digital dancers from Ipoh-based dance school Dance Studio. After they dazzle with their skills on stage, the B-boys will invite about a dozen children in the audience to join them on stage and, together with Kuntum mascots Si Pintar and Si Comel, will split them into two groups and teach them some basic dance moves. The teams will then have a friendly dance battle and the winning team, determined by the loudest cheers from the audience, will walk away with gifts from two Star Publications magazines, Galaxie (which recently won Magazine of the Year) and Kuntum.


> Galaxie Kuntum Dance Off performance: Sept 1, 1pm to 1.45pm, at The Stage@Hall 5, English Pavilion.

> One Book One World colouring competition: Sept 2, registration 10am, competition 10.30am to 12.30pm, prize presentation ceremony 1.15pm to 1.45pm, at the Banquet Hall, Level Three.

> Nonya Flavours cooking demonstration: Sept 3, 4pm to 4.45pm, at The Stage@Hall 5, English Pavilion.

Star Publications (M) Bhd is a BookFest@Malaysia 2011 media partner.

BookFest@Malaysia 2011 is currently ongoing and will continue until Sept 4 (10am-10pm) at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Admission is with purchase of the BookFest catalogue (which comes with an extra, separate edition for entrance into this year's new Lifestyle Pavilion) at RM2.50 per entry or RM10 for multiple entries over the nine days. Catalogues are available at all Popular and Harris bookstore outlets and at the BookFest entrance. Entrance is free for students 18 years old and below and for senior citizens aged 60 and above. For more information, visit


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Raya open house in Penang nothing political, says Dr Rais

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 05:54 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: The Hari Raya Aidilfitri Malaysia open house to be held in Penang on Sept 11 has nothing to do with politics, Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said.

The event is organised as a platform to unite the people of Malaysia by getting them to better appreciate the 1Malaysia concept.

"This celebration is to serve as a bridge for any divide and we are not having it for any political reasons," he said.

He said Penang was chosen to host the event as the state has never organised a big scale celebration unlike its neighbours Kedah, Perlis and Perak.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is expected to join in the clebrations with some 20,000 guests. BERNAMA

PM cuts cake to mark Merdeka

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 04:22 AM PDT

Published: Tuesday August 30, 2011 MYT 7:23:00 PM

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak marked the 54th anniversary of Merdeka by symbolically cutting a cake.

The event was held at the lawn of his official residence, Seri Perdana, where he hosted the Aidilfitri open house.

Najib was accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife Datuk Noorainee Abdul Rahman and Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and his wife Datin Seri Masnah Rais at the cake-cutting ceremony.

Najib and Rosmah also waved the national flag with shouts of "Merdeka" seven times. Guest artistes sang patriotic songs at the event. BERNAMA

Dr M voices concern over attempts to twist historical facts

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 04:15 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed concern over attempts by some people to twist historical facts to discredit leaders who have struggled for the independence.

"There is a trend to discredit the leaders who have strived for the nation's independence.

"I fear that what (PAS deputy president) Mohamed Sabu (allegedly) said is a part of this attempt to discredit past leaders, perhaps because they are linked to Umno," he told reporters at the Raya open house hosted by the prime minister.

It was reported that Mohamed Sabu, at a ceramah in Tasek Gelugor, Penang, on Aug 21 allegedly claimed that the communist terrorists who attacked and killed the policemen in Bukit Kepong were the real heroes. BERNAMA

More in The Star Wednesday.


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