Rabu, 31 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Syrian forces raid Hama, official resigns in protest

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 09:04 PM PDT

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian forces raided houses in Hama for the second day on Thursday, residents said, hours after the city's attorney general declared on YouTube he had resigned in protest against bloody repression of street demonstrations.

Five months of protests have failed to unseat President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited power from his father and retains the loyalty of the core of his armed forces comprised mostly of members of the Alawite minority, the same sect as the president.

But demonstrators have been encouraged by the fall of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and rising international pressure on Syria, including a planned European Union embargo on the oil industry which would disrupt a vital source if income.

Residents of Hama said security police and state militiamen, known as shabbiha, raided houses overnight in the al-Sabouniya and al-Marabet districts, after troops backed by tanks arrested dozens in two other neighbourhoods of the city the night before.

"The inhabitants are responding by shouting 'God is greatest' from windows and rooftops. Tonight there are more random raids as opposed to what the army did yesterday, which is go into specific houses looking for suspected activists on a list," Haidar, a local activist, told Reuters by phone.

Syrian forces mounted a 10-day operation in the city at the beginning of August and arrested hundreds of people.

The attorney-general of Hama said he had resigned because security forces killed 72 jailed protesters and activists at Hama's central jail on the eve of the military assault on the city on July 31. He said at least another 420 people were killed in the operation and were buried in mass graves in public parks.

"I, Judge Adnan Mohammad al-Bakkour, Hama province Attorney-General, declare that I have resigned in protest of the savage regime's practices against peaceful demonstrators," Bakkour said in a YouTube video released by activists.


An independent lawyer said the person in the video was Bakkour, who also denied reports by state media that he had been kidnapped by armed groups this week.

If confirmed, Bakkour's resignation would be the first high profile defection in the uprising against Assad. The United Nations says more than 2,000 civilians have been killed since protests began in March.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday that Assad had committed "irreparable" damage and that France and its partners would do everything possible to "help the Syrian people's aspirations to freedom and democracy".

Assad has repeatedly said he is fighting agents of what he calls a foreign plot to divide Syria. Authorities blame "armed terrorist groups" for most of the bloodshed and say more than 500 soldiers and police have been also killed.

Syrian authorities have expelled foreign media making it difficult to verify events in the country.

In the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, local activists said a six year old girl, Rama Khilyawi, was killed and her mother wounded when shabbiha militiamen fired rifles in al-Joura neighbourhood to prevent protests after evening prayers.

Several hundred women clad in black also marched in the southern city of Deraa, carrying placards calling for the downfall Of Assad.

(Additional reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi and John Irish; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

China top paper warns West to let UN lead in Libya

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 09:04 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top official newspaper warned Western powers to let the United Nations lead post-war reconstruction in Libya, saying on Thursday that Beijing would seek to defend its economic stake after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

The People's Daily, the main paper of China's ruling Communist Party, laid bare Beijing's qualms about the influence the United States, European powers and NATO may claim in post-war Libya. It appeared on the day leaders meet in Paris to discuss the future of the north African nation.

The U.N. issue could feature at the "Friends of Libya" meeting that will include French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and other world leaders. China has sent a relatively junior representative, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, to attend as an observer.

"As a permanent member of the Security Council, China has full reason to stress the leading role of the United Nations," said a commentary in the Chinese-language People's Daily, referring to Libya, where rebels are trying to wipe out resistance from Gaddafi's supporters.

Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Libya, showed what could go wrong if the U.N. is not the top body guiding international involvement in post-war rebuilding, said the newspaper.

"Looking back at these three local wars since the start of this century, it's easy to discern a pattern: the United Nations gets involved quite quickly and early on, but as developments evolve, the United States and its NATO allies come to the fore and steadily push out the U.N.," it said.

Repeating that pattern could hurt the Libyan people, as well as China's own stake, said the People's Daily.

"Stressing the leading role of the U.N. in Libyan affairs is to protect fairness in the country's reconstruction," it said, noting China's investments in Libya's telecommunications and construction sectors.

"China is willing to play an active role in Libya's reconstruction, and will give due attention to its legitimate interests in Libya," said the commentary.

The commentary appeared under a pen name "Zhong Sheng", a name suggesting the "voice of China", which is sometimes used to reflect higher level opinion. It reinforced recent comments from Chinese officials, who have joined Russia and Brazil in demanding the U.N. come to the fore in Libya.

Energy, construction and telecom firms will be eager to secure a foothold in Libya after a six-month war.

Libya's interim council has promised rewards for those who took a lead role in backing the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi, and that has raised concerns that China could be disadvantaged.

China is the world's second-biggest oil consumer, and last year it obtained 3 percent of its imported crude from Libya.

China did not use its U.N. Security Council veto power in March to block a resolution that authorised the NATO bombing campaign against Gaddafi's forces, but it then condemned the expanding strikes and urged compromise between his government and rebels.

Beijing had since courted Libyan rebel leaders, and last week urged a "stable transition of power".

China's past projects in Libya should not hinder relations with the country's new leaders, said the People's Daily.

"These investments were normal economic cooperation between the two countries," said the paper. "They were not a gift to Gaddafi, and nor should they hinder China's dealings with the new government in Libya."

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills and Frederik Richter)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

EXCLUSIVE - Obama moves to sell Northrop drones to Skorea - sources

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 09:04 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration has begun consulting the U.S. Congress on plans to sell to South Korea remotely piloted Global Hawk surveillance planes and related ground stations, two people familiar with the matter said.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, August 2, 2011. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Among those briefed have been the Senate's and House of Representatives' foreign affairs committees, which have jurisdiction over arms sales, the people familiar with the matter said.

There was no immediate word on when formal notification of a proposed sale might take place, nor on the potential overall value.

South Korea has been under pressure to boost surveillance capabilities over North Korea after two attacks against it killed 50 people last year, driving tensions on the Korean peninsula to the highest levels in decades.

Talks on ending North Korea's nuclear programme in return for aid have stalled since 2008 and the United Nations imposed new tough sanctions after Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear test and missile tests the following year.

Northrop Grumman, which builds the high-flying, long-endurance airframe, said Seoul was considering buying four RQ-4 Global Hawk "Block 30" drones, which can carry intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads.

Associated ground stations would be included in such a sale, Gemma Loochkartt, a company spokeswoman, said by email on Wednesday. Deliveries could take place in 2014 and 2015 if a government-to-government deal is signed this year, she said.

The Block 30 airframes sell for roughly $30 million apiece, not including their payloads. Raytheon Co's "Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite" lets the aircraft scan large swaths and transmit imagery from 60,000 feet in near real-time using electro-optical, infrared and radar-imaging sensors.

The State Department declined to comment pending formal notification of a proposed sale to Congress. The U.S. Air Force, which would broker the deal, and South Korea's embassy in Washington also had no immediate comment.

An official at the South Korean Defence Ministry's procurement agency said it remains interested in acquiring the aircraft system and is waiting for Washington to have a formal go-ahead to negotiate the sale.

"Our interest is based on the operational need of our military," the official said.

The head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration Noh Dae-lae had earlier expressed concern about the system's reliability after reports about the aircraft's technical shortfalls in May.

The Global Hawk is due to replace the Cold War-vintage U-2 spy plane in 2015, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Thomas, the U.S. Air Force's Global Hawk functional manager, told reporters on Aug. 10.

Japan, Singapore and Australia also have shown interest in acquiring Global Hawk, Loochkartt said.

Global Hawk's export would require a waiver under the Missile Technology Control Regime. The MTCR is a voluntary pact among at least 34 countries aimed at curbing the spread of unmanned delivery systems that could be used for weapons of mass destruction.

The aircraft's range -- 12,300 nautical miles (22,780 km) -- and payload capacity -- 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) -- subject it to the arms control agreement created in 1987.

Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in October 2008 that the United States was "very sympathetic" to South Korea's interest in Global Hawk but added that there were MTCR issues to overcome.

Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman's chief executive, complained in an Aug. 17 speech that export curbs on unmanned systems were harming U.S. industry without making the United States any safer.

"The good news," he said, "is that the Defense Department is promoting what is clearly the best export reform policy -- build higher walls around fewer things."

But tweaking the MTCR would be a mistake, some critics have argued, for instance if it led Russia or China, for instance, to follow suit with sales of such drones to countries like Iran, at odds with the West over its nuclear program.

(Reporting by Jim Wolf; Additional reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and Frederik Richter)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Kerr and Mahan win Begay Challenge

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:01 PM PDT

VERONA, New York (AP): Hunter Mahan and Cristie Kerr combined to win the Notah Begay Challenge charity event on Wednesday, and Tiger Woods was at least smiling as his pairing came in third.

Mahan and Kerr shot an 11-under 61 in the best-ball format event, coming in a stroke ahead of Annika Sorenstam and Rickie Fowler. Woods and LPGA Tour star Suzann Pettersen were third, two strokes off the pace.

"Oh Lord. It's going to be one of those days," Woods said before the round after Notah Begay III, his college roommate, promised some trash-talking as they prepared to play.

It was one of those days, all right, with Pettersen doing much of the heavy lifting for Woods.

"She played great," Woods said about Pettersen. "She definitely carried me."

Woods, who has played only eight PGA Tour events this year because of injuries to his left knee and left Achilles' tendon, started the day with a perfect drive that set up a nice birdie at the par-4 opening hole, smiling broadly as fans shouted his name.

The shouts of encouragement never waned as Woods made his way around the course, but his game didn't approach the performance he put on here two years ago. With more than 3,000 awestruck fans watching his every move, Woods hit nearly every fairway and won three of the final four holes in a skins game format to beat Camilo Villegas in 2009.

"It was all right today," Woods said. "I've been hurt the majority of the year and haven't quite gotten to be able to (get) the reps that I need to do what (swing coach) Sean (Foley) wants me to do. We were right on track at Augusta, but unfortunately I got hurt there and then it was a huge setback. We're just trying to get back to where I was at Augusta, and it's coming around. I just need more reps."

Begay said he liked much of what he saw in Woods' performance.

"I saw enough good things to know that he's making some progress," Begay said. "It was nice to be out there with him."

Begay received a check for $500,000 for his foundation and said he hoped to be able to surpass $1 million after an auction.

The event is the chief fundraiser for Begay's foundation, which is dedicated to helping fight obesity and diabetes in the Native American community.

It's a cause close to Woods' heart.

"I can relate to this because my father went through it," Woods said. "My father developed type-2 diabetes. It's tough to watch someone go through that, and what Notah's trying to do is cut that off. I want to be here for that. To be here and have the opportunity to do this, it's an honor."

Carmelita Jeter highlights US sprints at worlds

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:28 PM PDT

DAEGU, South Korea (AP): Try as she might, Carmelita Jeter couldn't fall asleep the night of her surprise win in the 100 meters.

The American sprinter tossed and turned, replaying the race at the world championships over and over in her mind. Never has a restless night been so rewarding.

And yet it's the rest of the world that may be causing some sleepless nights for the U.S. sprinters in the build-up to next year's London Olympics. No longer are the powerful Jamaicans the only threat.

Instead, unknowns are bursting on the scene at the championships this week, stealing the spotlight from more traditional American stars such as Allyson Felix and LaShawn Merritt.

This was supposed to be Felix's race in the 400, the first leg of her difficult double that would culminate with her trying to win a fourth straight 200 title.

But an unheralded Amantle Montsho of Botswana used a strong finish to beat Felix at the finish and leave the charismatic American wondering whether she will even go for the double in London.

Kirani James, a teenager from tiny Grenada, then unseated Merritt as champion in the men's 400 with a lean at the finish line. He was able to reel in Merritt over the final few meters, something that never used to happen.

Merritt is hardly race sharp as he's coming off a 21-month suspension for doping. He still has plenty of time to get back into elite form to compete in London, provided, of course, he's even eligible.

He has to wait on a verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the IOC's "six-month rule," which prevents athletes who receive doping bans of more than six months from competing at the next Summer or Winter Games. A decision is expected to be rendered in late September.

Nothing he can do about that. But on the track, it's completely within his power.

"I came in with a game plan and didn't quite stick with the plan. That's on my part," said Merritt, who will be a member of the 4x400-meter relay that begins Thursday. "I'm feeling healthy. I still feel strong. I'm just looking to move forward."

Even when Usain Bolt, the biggest star in track, isn't in the race, the United States failed to win gold. After Bolt jumped the gun and was disqualified in the 100 for a false start, another Jamaican, Yohan Blake, kept the title in the Caribbean island. Walter Dix couldn't close the gap and settled for silver.

That was a golden chance that slipped away.

The competition is only going to be more heated in London, especially with Asafa Powell (groin) and Tyson Gay (hip) returning to the field after sitting out at the worlds.

And don't count on Bolt false-starting there. That's probably not going to happen again to the world's fastest man.

Bolt will have a chance at atonement beginning Friday in the first round of the men's 200, while it's Jeter who will be going for a surprising sprint double in Daegu.

Sure, she had the fastest time in the world this season in the 100. But given the Jamaicans dominance in the event and Jeter's history of not coming through in big races, she seemed like an unlikely winner.

It took her 10.90 seconds to erase that perception. When Jeter held off Veronica Campbell-Brown to finally win gold, she showed she can step up and may have just established herself as the favorite heading into the Olympics.

Now, she's feeling no stress heading into the 200.

"All the pressure is pretty much over," Jeter said.

That's not quite the case for Felix. She wanted to challenge herself at the worlds this year and just not focus on her signature event, the 200.

A little drained from all the rounds of the 400 - and no gold to show for it - she will have her hands full with Campbell-Brown & Co.

As for whether she might double in London, Felix said she won't make any decisions until after the worlds, once she's had a chance to assess how much strain the two events placed on her body.

She did set a personal best in the 400, though, finishing in 49.59 seconds, a fraction behind Montsho.

"I think the disappointment really overshadows it," Felix said. "But I'm grateful for this experience, to be on this stage in the 400. If you would've asked me a few years ago, I would never have thought I would've been here (in the 400)."

Hardly a surprise, the Americans are in the mix at the top of the medal standings with nine overall, one fewer than Russia.

Another surprise gold for the Americans came from Jason Richardson, who crashed the party in the 110-meter hurdles.

The race featured the three fastest hurdlers in history - Dayron Robles, Liu Xiang and David Oliver.

Oh, and Richardson, too.

He initially finished behind Cuban world-record holder Robles to take the silver. But Richardson was bumped up to winner when Robles was disqualified for repeatedly bumping the hand of Liu going over the final few hurdles.

"It still hasn't completely set in," said Richardson, a 25-year-old who trains in Southern California with Jeter under the direction of coach John Smith. "But I definitely know that it's coming because the moment is starting to get more and more real. I'm anticipating the final culmination when I realize I'm actually world champion."

For Jeter, that realization began to set in the moment her head hit the pillow the night of the race. Sleep would never arrive.

"I just couldn't turn my brain off," Jeter said. "I kept thinking of the joy of seeing everybody else's face so happy and so happy for me.

Soderling withdraws from US Open due to illness

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:24 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP): Sixth-seeded Robin Soderling withdrew from the U.S. Open because of illness.

The Swede was scheduled to face 618th-ranked qualifier Louk Sorensen in the first round Wednesday. "Lucky loser" Rogerio Dutra da Silva of Brazil took his spot.

His agent said in a statement that Soderling started feeling "really bad" Tuesday night with stomach pain and a headache. A doctor recommended he not play.

Soderling had not played since withdrawing from Montreal with a wrist injury in early August.

The 114th-ranked Dutra da Silva went from losing in qualifying to the second round of a major tournament. In his Grand Slam debut, the 27-year-old advanced when Sorensen withdrew because of cramps with Dutra da Silva leading 6-0, 3-6, 6-4, 1-0.

Soderling had tweeted Aug. 21: "Wrist is feeling better. Travelling to NY tomorrow,"

He missed Cincinnati because of a throat problem that agent Nina Wennerstrom said might be related to the virus that sidelined him in New York. He won at Bastad in his last tournament in mid-July.

The two-time French Open runner-up reached the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows last year to equal his best result.

It's been a wild swing of emotions for the 26-year-old Sorensen, who retired from tennis early this year because of a long, long list of injuries. He had been coaching and playing for fun in Germany, where he was born and currently lives. Sorensen plays for Ireland, for which his father is a former Davis Cup player.

Realizing he had some protected rankings, Sorensen decided to try to qualify for the Open and visit New York for the first time.

It took about 10 players withdrawing for Sorensen to even get into qualifying, then he won three matches to reach the main draw of a major tournament for the second time in his career.

In the locker room as he prepared to take the court, somebody told him he wasn't playing Soderling.

"I said, 'Yes, I am,"' Sorensen recalled with a laugh. "He said, 'No, no, the Brazilian guy just told me he got in."'

Sorensen was a bit disappointed - he'd been looking forward to facing a top-10 player for the first time. Then again, taking on a lucky loser was a great opportunity to win another Grand Slam match.

Instead, his hand started cramping at 3-3 in the third set.

Now Sorensen is considering coming out of retirement. He's just never been able to stay healthy enough to play five tournaments in a row.

Asked to describe his injuries, he sighed and said, "You want me to list everything?"

"I had surgery on my right knee, left knee; my pubic bone got inflamed - that was six months; I tore my muscle - that was four months; had a virus on my heart; twisted my ankle eight times; my back had a broken disk; and a couple of other things."

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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Carrefour posts net loss in 1st half

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:18 PM PDT

PARIS (AP) - Europe's largest retailer Carrefour SA Wednesday posted an unexpected net loss in the first half and abandoned its growth target for the year amid the economic slowdown.

The French retailer reported a net loss of 249 million ($359 million) in the first six months of the year, compared with a profit of 97 million a year earlier.

Carrefour said it expects its operating profit to decline this year, reversing a target the retailer set in March when it said an ongoing and expensive "transformation plan" would raise profits this year.

The company's share price slumped on the Paris stock exchange as investors took fright at the suddenly worsened outlook for the giant retailer, which which operates chains of grocery stores and hypermarkets across Europe as well as in Latin America and Asia.

By mid-morning Carrefour shares were down 4 percent at 17.88.

As it did last year, Carrefour booked what it calls "significant one-off charges" again in the first half. They amounted to 884 million in the first half, over half of which went to writing down the value of Carrefour's Italian assets.

Worringly for Carrefour, after years of failed attempts to turn-around profitability in its core French market, earnings fell 40 percent in the first half. The company blamed a reorganization of its processes and systems which caused large inventory shortages, as well as rising raw commodity costs and sharpened price competition among retailers fighting to draw in increasingly budget-minded consumers.

Latest business news from AP-Wire

Danish economy not in a recession, data shows

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:17 PM PDT

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - New data shows that Denmark is no longer in a recession and technically wasn't in a recession in previous quarters either.

Statistics Denmark said Wednesday the economy grew 1.0 percent in the second quarter of 2011, compared with the previous three-month period.

It also revised its figures for the first quarter, saying the economy grew 0.1 percent in the January-March period. Its previous estimate of a 0.5 percent drop suggested Denmark was in a recession because it would have been the second consecutive quarterly decline.

The economy will be a key issue in Denmark's parliamentary election on Sept. 15. The left-wing opposition has the lead in the polls over Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen's center-right party.

Latest business news from AP-Wire

China's Wen says controlling inflation still goal

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:15 PM PDT

BEIJING (AP) - The Chinese government remains focused on reining in surging prices despite global instability and has no plans to change controls that have caused its economy to slow, said Premier Wen Jiabao in comments released Wednesday.

The global slowdown has prompted suggestions Beijing might ease its controls, but Wen said in comments on the Cabinet website that the cooling in China's rapid economic growth is in line with government plans. Wen is the country's top economic official and No. 3 in the ruling Communist Party hierarchy.

"Stabilizing general price levels still is the most important mission of macro-controls and the orientation of macro-controls cannot change," Wen said in an essay to be published Thursday in a party magazine, according to the website.

Beijing has hiked interest rates repeatedly and tightened investment curbs to steer rapid growth to a more sustainable level just as the United States and other major economies are trying to shore up their weak economies.

China's economy expanded by 9.5 percent in the April-June quarter and inflation rose to a 37-month high of 6.5 percent in July.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Yayasan Karyawan chairman Dr Hassan Ahmad dies

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:32 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Yayasan Karyawan chairman and former Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) director-general Datuk Dr Hassan Ahmad died at his residence in Petaling Jaya Wednesday. He was 74.

His second daughter, Hasmirawati, 33, said Dr Hassan died at 2pm, before he could be sent to a nearby hospital after he complained of abdominal pains since early this morning.

He will be buried at the Kota Damansara Muslim cemetery near here Thursday before Zohor prayers.

Dr Hassan, who is survived by widow, Datin Hamimi Mohamad Shariff, 68, and two daughters, was a man of letters who had vast experience in publication.

His demise marks the nation's loss of a literary figure who was much respected in advancing the national language and literature upon being appointed the DBP chief administrator in 1976.

Blessed with steely determination, coupled with extensive experience in research, Dr Hassan brought DBP into focus as a national pride by building, modernising and expanding the national language and literature.

In the course of his career in DBP, he had succeeded in making Bahasa Melayu a modern and scientific language, as well as the production of reading materials in Bahasa Melayu.

Dr Hassan was not just known in the field of language, literature and publication. He was also an icon in the field of translation.

Since he began his service with DBP in 1963, Dr Hassan held several positions, beginning as research officer and later as head of the research department, acting director, director and as director-general for 13 years.

The son of a police officer and youngest in a family of eight children received his early education at Sekolah Melayu Mersing (1942-1943) and Sekolah Melayu Muar (1945-1948).

Later, the Muar-born continued his education at Sekolah Tinggi Muar after passing the School Certificate in 1955.

He was accepted as a student in Malay College Kuala Kangsar and passed the Higher School Certificate before furthering his education in Universiti Malaya where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in literature in 1959.

After completing his university education, he was made assistant district officer of Pontian in 1962, but left the post a year later, to start his career with DBP as research officer.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and wife, Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman, conveyed their condolences to Dr Hassan's family.

Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said the loss would not only be felt by the family but by fellow Bahasa Melayu advocates the world over.

"We pray to Allah to bless his soul and that he would be in the company of good men," he said in an e-mail to Bernama here Wednesday.

The deputy prime minister said Dr Hassan had contributed immensely towards elevating Bahasa Melayu in the international arena since commencing his service with DBP.

In his 25-year service, Dr Hassan made Bahasa Melayu and DBP a much respected institution in the world, he added.

Muhyiddin said Dr Hassan was the first Malay to be awarded a Doctorate in Social Science from the Leiden University of the Netherlands, and was an activist for Bahasa Melayu through his role as chairman of several Bahasa Melayu councils in Asia.

He said the stewardship of Dr Hassan as a Bahasa Melayu champion was recognised when he was appointed ambassador and the Malaysian Permanent representative to Unesco in Paris, as well as the recipient of the United Nations Fellowship in a seminar on International Understanding in New York. - Bernama

Immigrants have rights in consumer tribunal: ex-chairman

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:18 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Legal foreign workers and illegal immigrants who paid exorbitant charges for registration under the 6P amnesty and legalisation programme could file a case under the consumer tribunal to get back the excess money they had paid.

This advice comes from former consumer tribunal chairman Pretam Singh Darshan Singh.

The government has fixed RM35 as maximum rate for registration of illegal immigrants through 348 appointed managing companies, while the maximum service charge for legalisation is RM300.

However, noted Pretam, thousands of illegal immigrants had paid more than the stipulated amount.

"(Therefore) Those who have been charged more than what is necessary could file a case (to recover the excess) under the consumer tribunal.

"The laws relating to exorbitant registration charges comes under misleading conduct, false representation and unfair practice.

"Those who misrepresent the cost of the service could be charged under the Consumer Protection Act 1999.

"In such a consciousness, foreigners who have been duped into paying the additional cost may file their cases," he told Bernama in an exclusive interview here Wednesday.

The 6P programme stands for Comprehensive Settlement of Foreign Worker Programme and illegal immigrants. It is a programme package that incorporates several recommendations made by the Management Lab Foreigner (MPWA) as the latest approach by the Government to strengthen management of foreign citizens in Malaysia.

Since 2000, the consumer tribunal has been in place to protect the rights of the consumer.

Pretam said the consumer tribunal provided an alternative for the illegal immigrant to claim for any losses incurred, in a less cumbersome and speedy manner, and at minimal cost. "It is also to hear and determine claims in an independent manner and they (illegal immigrants) need to produce the receipts and documents as an alternative channel or facility for their claims," he added.

Wednesday is the deadline to register under the 6P amnesty programme.

Over 2.5 million foreign workers had registered since the operation began on July 13.

Of the number, 1.6 million were legal foreign workers while the rest were illegals. - Bernama

UPSI pro-chancellor Dr Abdul Shukor dies

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:58 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) pro-chancellor Tan Sri Dr Abdul Shukor Abdullah died at his home in Taiping at 1.20 am on Wednesday. He was 67.

Dr Abdul Shukor's remains were brought to the Putra Mosque here for prayers. He was buried at the Muslim cemetery in Precinct 20 at 4.30 pm.

A close relative, Brig Gen (Rtd) Datuk Mustapha Khalil, told reporters at the Putra Mosque that Dr Abdul Shukor died of natural causes.

Dr Abdul Shukor leaves a wife, Puan Sri Maimun Jahidin,64, and three children, Rizal Anuar, 40, Rizal Saini, 38, and Rina Suriani, 33, a doctor who is currently abroad.

Maimun said her late husband was a loving, caring and responsible father and husband. The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, and the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, paid their last respects to Dr Abdul Shukor in Taiping.

Dr Abdul Shukor, who hailed from Gopeng, Perak, was appointed the pro-chancellor of UPSI in 2007.

He was also reappointed as a member of the Dewan Negara Perak in March 2010.

He had served as the director-general of education from April 29, 1998, to Feb 7, 2001.

Dr Abdul Shukor was active in associations and organisations, and had served as president of the Asian Schools Football Federation (ASFF). - Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

'Fright Night' seeks Europe success (Updated)

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 07:00 AM PDT

LONDON (AP): Cast members of the comedy horror flick "Fright Night" say they are "bummed" by the film's poor performance in the United States and are looking for redemption in Europe.

The film features Colin Farrell as a vampire who goes after neighbors who discover his secret. It took in less than $10 million in its U.S. opening weekend, placing fifth behind films including "The Help" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

American actors Anton Yelchin and colleague Christopher Mintz-Plasse - two of the doomed neighbors - spoke to The Associated Press before the film's opening in Britain.

"If it sucked, we would have been like 'alright' - you know? But we both like it a lot," Yelchin said of the movie.

Mintz-Plasse said he hoped the Craig Gillespie-directed film - described as a "reimagining" of the 1985 cult classic of the same name - will take a bigger bite out of the European market when it swoops into cinemas later this week.

"We were just proud of it and we wanted people to see it. But maybe it will have life on a DVD or something or out here. But the critics loved it and my family and friends loved it, so that's important," he told AP.

With solid reviews, Disney executives thought "Fright Night" would offer a good mix of scares and laughs for fans in their late teens and early 20s.

But Disney distribution boss Dave Hollis said "Fright Night" fell victim to an issue that has troubled studios all summer: How do you bring out younger crowds when they have so many personal entertainment options, from video games to downloading movies?

"What happened here has been a problem and that's just how do you crack the nut with young adults?" Hollis said. "They've been increasingly finicky."

Fans of the original movie know that Mintz-Plasse's character Ed is turned into a creature of the night by Irish heartthrob Farrell in a scene loaded with repressed sexual tension.

Mintz-Plasse joked that the swimming pool scene with Farrell was "too sexy for both of us."

"Anton was off the side ... just chilling there, going 'This is sexy, I can get into this,"' he laughed.

"Fright Night" opens in the U.K. on Sept. 2 and across Europe in the following weeks.

Ed O'Neill's Walk of Fame star in front of shoe store

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 08:17 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Ed O'Neill's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is appropriately placed - in front of a DSW shoe store on Hollywood Boulevard.

O'Neill earned his fame playing shoe salesman Al Bundy on the long-running sitcom "Married With Children."

The Emmy-nominated star of "Modern Family" received his sidewalk honor Tuesday in a ceremony featuring his two TV wives, Sofia Vergara from ABC's "Modern" and Katey Sagal from "Married," which aired on Fox.

O'Neill called the honour overwhelming and thanked fans, then quipped, "Just think, somewhere in this world a baby girl is being born and she is going to be my next wife." Vergara is 26 years his junior, and Sagal 11.

The 65-year-old O'Neill attended Ohio University and Youngstown State. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL but cut in training camp. He taught social studies before his acting career.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Metro: Central

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National flag put up at all houses in Bandar Puteri 8

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:18 AM PDT

IT IS TRULY a sight to behold as all the houses in Bandar Puteri 8, Puchong have been decorated with the national flag.

More than 700 Jalur Gemilang fluttered in the wind in Bandar Puteri 8 to celebrate the 54th Merdeka Day.

The residents' association chairman, Datuk Samson David Maman, said the idea came from Selangor CPO Deputy Comm Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah.

"He was talking about a village in Muar, Johor, flying the national flags and we thought why not we do the same?

"We are instilling a sense of patriotism among the community and also encouraging them to participate in the Jom Kibar campaign organised by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ)," he said.

The campaign is a yearly event to encourage the public to display the Jalur Gemilang and the lucky ones would be rewarded with attractive prizes.

Resident Tiong Yap Choon said he was proud that Puteri 8 stood out from the rest of the neighbourhoods.

"We worked together as a team to put up the flags together," he said.

Samson said this effort would lead to the annual Bandar Puteri Fun Walk to be held on Sept 11 at 7.30am at the field in Jalan Puteri 8/10, where participants would walk a 5km route with mini Jalur Gemilang.

"The flags and poles were bought with money sponsored by the National Unity and Integration Department, Information Communications and Culture Ministry, IOI Corporation, Kinrara assemblyman Teresa Kok, Kinrara state liaison officer Wong Hock Aun, CIMB, business communities and residents association members.

"We welcome residents from neighbouring communities to join us as well," he said.

There would be free breakfast for the first 300 participants. Registration is done on the spot with lucky draw coupons given to every one.

The event themed "Have Fun, Keep Fit, Stay Healthy, Be Secure, Know Your Neighbours" would be followed by a Tanglung Night at 5.30pm.

Activities lined up include hand-made lantern competitions, a karaoke session, dancing and a lantern parade.

Proud to be a Malaysian

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:17 AM PDT

IN THE spirit of patriotism, businessman A.D. Donnel has adorned his car, restaurant and house with the national flag and had even distributed it to residents around his housing estate.

Donnel, 52, who has been living in Kampung Laksamana, Batu Caves for more than 20 years, felt that it was only right for Malaysians to display the flag on National Day.

"I am grateful to live in such a peaceful environment where all of us have enough to eat and are not facing starvation.

"I have more than 30 flags fixed onto my car to symbolise the spirit of Merdeka and show everyone that they can do their part in playing a role in displaying the Jalur Gemilang in their homes, cars or at their business premises,'' said Donnel.

He added that he also sold about 100 flags to people in Kampung Laksamana, Kampung Nakoda and the surrounding areas.

The reason he sold some of these flags was not to make a profit but encourage people to appreciate it better.

Donnel said he would also give out the national flag to customers who patronised the Don Vick car wash in Kampung Laksamana on Merdeka Day today.

Donnel will also be part of a 50- vehicle convoy which will travel to Rawang, Batu Caves and Gombak to promote road safety while distributing flyers on Sept 16.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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32 vagrants rounded up in ‘Ops Blue Thunder’

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 06:51 PM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: A growing number of 'street sleepers' comprising beggars and the homeless had prompted the City Hall to hold an exercise to get rid of them.

From sidewalks to overhead bridges and staircases, these vagrants would call it a night pretty much anywhere they could rest their head in the downtown area.

This issue had prompted the City Hall (which has been aggressively implementing its beautifying campaign in the capital) much duress as they work towards improving and elevating Kota Kinabalu's image into a clean, safe and beautiful city.

The three-hour operation dubbed as 'Ops Blue Thunder' resulted in detention of 32 people including 11 women from the city's popular spots such as Gaya Street, Kampung Air, Sinsuran, Padang Merdeka and Segama.

The joint-operation was organised by the City Hall with help from various agencies including the police, Immigration Department, National Anti Drug Agency, Internal Security Department and Community Welfare Department.

City Hall's director-general Datuk Yeo Boon Hai said this was the first integrated operatio to curb vagrants and the officers involved did not use excessive force.

"We would approach them in a friendly manner and note down their particulars and then ask them not to sleep on the streets again," he said.

Seven people including two children out of those detained were found to be paperless and they were sent to the temporary detention centre for illegal immigrants before deportation.

A local man was also arrested for drug possession after police found suspected Syabu on him.

New Coastal Highway project is 80% complete, says Irda CEO

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 06:51 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Work on the New Coastal Highway is progressing well as it is expected to open for motorists in the second-quarter of 2012.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) CEO Ismail Ibrahim said the project already at 80% completion level.

The 15km toll-free highway costing RM945mil links Johor Baru city centre to Nusajaya, one of the five flagship development zones in Iskandar Malaysia.

Other zones linked by the facility includes the Johor Baru City Centre, Eastern Gate Development Zone, Western Gate Development Zones and Senai-Kulai.

"Motorists using the highway from the city centre will reach Nusajaya in 15 mins from 30 mins currently," he said adding the highway would disperse traffic congestion by 30% to the city centre.

It provides direct link between the Bukit Chagar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine to Nusajaya for motorists entering Johor Baru from Singapore to visit Legoland Theme Park at Nusajaya and Indoor Theme Park @ Puteri Harbour.

Ismail said this after witnessing a signing ceremony between Genting Property Sdn Bhd and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) represented by its senior manager Beverly Goldman and Johor general manager Mohd Roslan Mohd Rashidi respectively for the provision of the high speed broadband services.

He added that the interchange connecting the North-South Expressway to Kulaijaya near the exit point to Senai-Pasir Gudang-Desaru Expressway would be ready by mid-October before the opening of the JPO in November.

"The interchange will provide an alternative route for motorists and shoppers to visit the JPO and will improve connectivity and accessibility to Kulaijaya," said Ismail.

JPO is a 50–50 joint-venture between the Genting Group's 54.6% owned subsidiary Genting Plantations Bhd and Premium Outlets, a division of US-based Simon Property Group, offering off-seasons branded items between 25% and 65% all year round.

This is the first of its kind in South-East Asia, there are 52 outlets in the United States, Mexico, Japan and South Korea.

Separately, Ismail said Iskandar Malaysia has received cumulative committed investment of 75.96bil up to June 2011, of which 60% (RM45.48bil) from local investors and 40% (RM30.48bil) from foreigners.

Bera Puteri Umno distribute goodies to 65 children

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 06:50 PM PDT

TEMERLOH: The Bera Puteri Umno branch members took time off to distribute goodies to 65 children warded at Sultan Ahmad Shah Hospital here recently.

About 20 members, led by its chief Norfazilah Mahat, handed out the gifts to the children who were warded for various ailments.

Norfazilah said the visit and gifts were an annual affair for the wing and this year, they decided to make the contributions to children in the hospital.

"It has been part of the wing's activities to carry out volunteer works and counselling in hospital or government clinics and we do so during non-festival season as well.

"By doing this, we will be informed about the kind of diseases or sickness most common among the people or those suffering from chronic ailments who may need further help.

"These details will be relayed to the party's headquarters for the next course of action," she added.

The Bera Puteri Umno members, said Norfazilah, would make the visit twice monthly including organizing a blood donation campaign with the hospital's administration.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Healing of the skin

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 11:07 PM PDT

A scar forms as a result of the healing process instituted by the body.

I HAVE a really ugly scar over my BCG vaccination site. I don't know what happened, but after my vaccination, the scar grew and grew. It didn't happen to my classmates. Why did it happen to me?

I believe you are referring to a keloid scar. To understand scars, we have to understand the healing process. Our skin is the largest organ in our body, which serves to protect our other organs and tissues against the environment.

Our skin has the epidermis, which is the outermost layer, and the dermis (inner layer). The topmost layer of the skin is completely renewed every 28 days.

Once this protective barrier is breached in any way – such as through a cut, abrasion, burn, surgery, skin diseases like acne, or injury of any sort – the process of wound healing immediately begins.

Explain wound healing.

Wound healing begins with hemostasis. Within minutes after the injury, platelets swarm to collect around the injury site to form a fibrin clot. This stems the bleeding.

Naturally, this is just a temporary measure. The area becomes inflamed as the body's natural defenses like phagocytes and lymphocytes come into play. They kill bacteria that attempt to get in, and remove dead cells and debris. Factors are released from cells around the area to begin the process of proliferation.

Here, new blood vessels are formed and collagen tissue laid down. This all forms a mass called granulation tissue. Your epidermis cells replicate and "crawl" on top of this bed, providing new cover.

The wound then contracts through myofibroblasts, which pull the wound edges and make it smaller (in the way muscle cells contract).

It doesn't stop there. The wound continues to be remodeled and matured. Some cuts heal completely and there is very little scarring to be seen. Others leave a scar through this healing process. A scar usually takes 12 to 18 months to mature.        

Why do I have scars and my friends don't for the same kind of 'injury'?

Many factors can influence scars. The depth and size of the wound matters. Needless to say, the deeper and larger the wound, the more difficult it is to heal and the more likely it is to leave a scar.

Even where the scar is matters. Your age, genetics, sex, ethnicity, and presence of diseases like diabetes all add to affect wound healing or influence the tendency to form certain types of scars, like keloids.

A scar looks the way it does because the new fibres that the body lays down after the injury is not as functional as your original skin.

Scar tissue is thicker because it contains more collagen, and paler because it has a limited blood supply.

It also does not have as much function as the original tissue because it has less nerves (leading to reduced sensation in that area) and less sweating (due to fewer sweat glands). It also does not have much hair in it.

When your body produces too much fibrous tissue on your wound site, that results in a thick or raised scar.

What types of scars are there?

A keloid is the result of over-aggressive healing. Keloids are called "scars that don't know when to stop".

It's tough and it rises abruptly above the rest of your skin. It has a smooth top and is usually purple or pink in colour. It tends to be irregular in shape.

The worst thing about a keloid is that it tends to progressively enlarge over time, unlike other scars. It also tends to be itchy and tender to the touch.

No one quite knows why certain people are more prone to keloid formation than others, but Africans seem to be more affected, and it does run in families.

Another type of scar is the contracture. This happens when you have been burned. A contracture scar causes tightening of the skin, and is sometimes so severe as to restrict movement, especially if it happens near joints like the elbow, shoulder or knee joint.

Hypertrophic scars are similar to keloids, but do not go beyond the boundaries of the wound. And there are acne scars, which can range from pits (holes) to deep scars that are angular in appearance.

Is there any hope for me to reduce the size of my scar?

Certainly, though everyone will experience varying degrees of success. There are some creams, ointments and gels that can be used.

It's always best to ask a surgeon which one to use because many of these contain corticosteroids, which may have side effects like hypersensitivity or itching.

You can use pressure or silicone gel sheetings. A popular method is to use steroid injections, especially for keloids. Collagen injections or "fillers" can be used for acne pits.

At the top of the line is surgical removal – skin grafts (especially for burn scars, where skin from another less visible part of the body is transplanted to cover the scar in a more visible part of the body), surgical excision (removal of the scar), dermabrasion, and laser surgery.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment.

The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information.

The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Sunshine guy

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 02:20 AM PDT

Wilber Pan shares his candid reflections on life and music.

EIGHT is truly a significant number for Wilber Pan this year. Also known as Will Pan, the Taiwanese-American singer released his eighth album titled 808, January this year.

An 80s child, Pan also drew inspiration from the retro-electronic Roland TR-808 drum machine, which was popular during his childhood. Born in 1980 in West Virginia, United States, he moved to Taiwan when he was seven and later furthered his studies in California.

Fielding questions from local media in both Mandarin and English during a media conference in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, recently, the dashing singer was quite the charmer with his easy going manner and candid reflections on life and music. He also conducted four showcases and autograph sessions to promote 808 at Kampar in Perak, Malacca, Penang and Kuching.

Turning 31 on Aug 6 (the eighth month of the year), Pan celebrated his birthday here with a wish to fulfil his mother's request to end his bachelor days. "Apart from a smooth sailing career, I hope to find a girlfriend, get married and have children," declared Pan who hoped to find his other half by age 35.

The personable chap also professed his love for children and spoke candidly about his longing to hear the pitter patter of little feet.

"I really look forward to having a kid as many of my friends have gotten married and already have kids. So much so that I'm thinking of adopting or having a kid of my own. I don't mind not having a wife but I'd really like to have kids, just like Angelina Jolie. I've even thought of the name – Will Pan Junior. But, of course, if that is the case, I'd still have to look for a mother for my kid."

Pan, who began with hip hop music, loves to experiment with other genres to give himself and his listeners something new with every album release.

"When I first started out, a lot of people associated me with hip hop, which is one of my favourite genres. But with more albums, life experiences and experimenting with different kinds of music, this album actually deals with more electronic stuff.

"I like to sing a lot of love ballads and R&B stuff. 808 combines futuristic electro and retro music while also offering soft rock ballads."

The singer-songwriter also had a hand in penning the lyrics for three and composing the music for five of the songs in his 11-track album, which also includes five music videos. Pan also amused those present by relating how he generally gets inspired to compose music when he's taking a shower.

"And, it's usually at night. I can't write any music during the day," said Pan, who is now enjoying some orchestra and classical music and looks forward to experimenting with a big band sound for a future project.

As is typical with his albums, 808 also features interesting collaborations with varied artistes, featuring Hawaii-born Hong Kong-based Khalil Fong's composition for Xiao Xiao Ma Yi (Little Ant) and famed Taiwanese lyricist Vincent Fang's lyric for Wo De Dian Hua (My Phone), and American-born Thai/Chinese singer Nichkhun (of South Korean boyband 2PM) in the music video for Chu Dong (Touch).

His previous album 007 (2009) recorded collaborations with American R&B singer Akon for Be With You and multi-lingual South Korean actress Lee Da Hae for the music video of Shuang Ren Wu (Pas de Deux). Another high profile collaboration was with South Korean popstar Lee Hyori for the music video of Zhi Yao Ai Shang Ni (As Long As I Love You), which was filmed for a car commercial. Apart from a successful singing career, Pan also enjoys acting, having starred in TV idol drama Miss No Good (2008) with Taiwanese singer-actress Rainie Yang and Endless Love (2010) with Taiwanese-French actress Sandrine Pinna. He also had supporting roles and cameos in Great Teacher (2002), Love Train (2003) and Pandamen (2010).

Currently mulling over several film offers, Pan admitted to being selective about the roles he plays.

"I'd rather not play characters that are like myself – what they call a sunshine fellow or fun guy. Because, I've already lived 30 years like that. For this album, I played a killer in a 30-minute musical drama. Another sort of character I'd like to play is a messy-looking tramp, complete with beard and dreadlocks. Now, I'd consider that to be more of a challenge."

Wilber Pan's 808, distributed by Universal Music, is available in local stores.

Justin Bieber crashes his Ferrari in LA

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 08:15 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Justin Bieber and his Ferrari are both fine after a fender-bender in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Police Officer Gregory Baek says the 17-year-old singer was involved in "a very minor collision" Tuesday afternoon in LA's Studio City.

The officer said no one was injured or cited and no police report was taken. There was no visible damage to Bieber's car or the Honda Civic involved in the crash.

Bieber recently appeared at MTV's Video Music Awards, where he won best male video for his song "U Smile."

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