Isnin, 26 September 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Assailants blow up Egypt gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 08:45 PM PDT

ISMAILIYA, Egypt (Reuters) - Unknown assailants blew up an Egyptian pipeline in Sinai on Tuesday that supplies Israel and Jordan with gas, security sources and witnesses said.

A witness told investigators he saw three men jump out of a small truck at a pumping station in an area known as al-Maidan, southwest of the city of el-Arish, and open fire on the pipeline, the security sources said.

This was followed by a large explosion heard across the city and witnesses said 15-metre high flames could be seen shooting up from the pipeline.

A local hospital said one man was admitted with burns from the blast, which also set olive groves and shacks in the area on fire. Fire brigades were bringing the flames under control after the company operating the pipeline cut off the gas supply.

Since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February the pipeline has been repeatedly blown up by assailants believed to be opposed to selling Egyptian gas to Israel.

The last attack occurred in July when men with machine guns in a small truck forced guards at a station out and blew it up.

The extent of the damage caused by Tuesday's blast and the effect on gas supplies to Israel and Jordan was not immediately clear.

Egypt has been trying to charge Israel and Jordan more for its gas after complaining that prices fixed during Mubarak's rule were below market rates.

The pipeline is run by Gasco, Egypt's gas transport company which is a subsidiary of the national gas company EGAS.

The Egyptian armed forces launched a security operation in Sinai in August to root out hundreds of suspected militants believed to be behind some of the attacks on the pipeline and police compounds in the peninsula.

Security sources said then that they had captured a group of four Islamist militants as they prepared to blow up the gas pipeline in el-Arish.

(Writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by David Stamp)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Saudi Arabia urges world to accept Palestinians' U.N. bid

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 08:45 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal urged the United Nations on Monday to accept the Palestinians' request for full membership in the world body and to recognize it as an independent state.

"As a result of the continued Israeli intransigence and disruption of the peace process, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls upon all member states of the United Nations to state of Palestine on the border of June 4, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to grant it full membership of the United Nations," Faisal said.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal arrives at a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Jeddah September 11, 2011. The foreign minister urged the United Nations on Monday to accept the Palestinians' request for full membership in the world body and to recognize it as an independent state. (REUTERS/Susan Baaghil)

The Saudi foreign minister did not appear in person to give his speech. His statement was issued in written form at the end of Monday's speeches at the annual U.N. General Assembly session in New York.

Faisal's comments will add to the pressure on Washington, which has vowed to veto the Palestinian U.N. membership application that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday.

The U.N. Security Council will meet on Wednesday to hand the issue to a committee that will review and assess the Palestinian application. Abbas has said he wants the council to make a decision within weeks, but Western diplomats say that the process could take much longer.

On the topic of the Arab Spring pro-democracy movements across the Middle East and North Africa, Faisal reiterated the kingdom's "condemnation of military operations against the defenseless people in sisterly Syria."

He also called on "all parties in brotherly Yemen to clearly announce their full commitment to implement the peaceful transition to power as stipulated in the Gulf initiative in order to swiftly end the serious Yemeni crisis."

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by Doina Chiacu)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Strauss-Kahn claims diplomatic immunity in lawsuit

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 07:44 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn asked a judge on Monday to dismiss a civil suit filed by a hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault, asserting that the onetime French presidential hopeful had diplomatic immunity.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former International Monetary Fondation chief (IMF), reacts on the TF1 prime time news programme in their studios in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, September 18, 2011. (REUTERS/Francois Guillot)

Strauss-Kahn was cleared of all criminal charges that he forced Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo to perform oral sex in a New York luxury suite on May 14, but he still faces the civil suit plus a separate allegation by a woman in France.

The motion to dismiss, filed in New York state Supreme Court in the Bronx, where the woman lived, also claimed her "false charges" significantly impaired the International Monetary Fund's "ability to serve its critical function ... at a time of worldwide financial crisis and instability."

But the central argument asserted the Frenchman was immune from such a suit under international law when it was filed in early August, and lawyers asked the judge to throw the case out in its entirety.

The suit filed by attorney William Taylor, who was also part of Strauss-Kahn's criminal defense team, argued that his position as IMF managing director granted him diplomatic immunity that extended even after his resignation and until he was free to return to France.

Strauss-Kahn returned home to Paris late last month when prosecutors decided to abandon their pursuit of sexual assault and rape charges against him because they had lost faith in Diallo's credibility.

"This court must dismiss the complaint against defendant Dominique Strauss-Kahn because, under controlling international law that all federal and state courts are bound to apply, Mr. Strauss-Kahn was immune from civil suit," the motion said.


Diallo's lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, immediately rejected that argument.

"This baseless motion is another desperate attempt to avoid having to answer for the deplorable acts he committed against Ms. Diallo," Thompson wrote in an email. "Strauss-Kahn's claim of diplomatic immunity will clearly fail because: (1) he is not a diplomat; (2) according to his own story he was in New York on 'personal' business; (3) he, not the IMF, paid for his room at the Sofitel; and (4) he was obviously acting in his personal capacity when he violently attacked Ms. Diallo."

The scandal blew up in the midst of a growing debt crisis in Greece and Strauss-Kahn was instrumental in convincing European policymakers to agree to financing to help Athens. The crisis has escalated and threatens to slow global growth.

A grand jury had indicted Strauss-Kahn, but prosecutors later asked a judge to drop the criminal charges because they no longer found the 32-year-old Diallo credible, and the judge dismissed the case.

While her account of the assault remained steadfast, Diallo told a series of lies about her past and about what happened immediately after the incident in the $3,000-a-night suite in New York's Sofitel hotel, prosecutors said. Despite the dismissal of criminal charges, the civil suit remains viable because civil actions require a lesser burden of proof.

In a separate motion, his lawyers also demanded that sections of the lawsuit alleging Strauss-Kahn assaulted other women be stricken, as well as claims that he and his defense team "smeared" Diallo's character."

"The allegations are nothing more than an attempt to embarrass Mr. Strauss-Kahn, open the door to harassing and irrelevant discovery, and ultimately instill undue prejudice in the jury," the motion said.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, had been a favorite to run as the next president of France before he was hauled from a first-class seat on a flight from New York to Paris and arrested on May 14. He resigned from the IMF four days later, his political plans in tatters.

In addition to the civil suit, he still faces a separate inquiry in France from a writer who says Strauss-Kahn forced himself on her during a 2003 interview.

Strauss-Kahn strongly denied sexual assault from the start and in a recent interview with French television apologized to his country for an encounter he called "moral error" that was consensual. He also vowed to stay out of the Socialist Party's 2012 election campaign in France.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Daniel Trotta and Anthony Boadle)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Cameo capers

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 03:04 AM PDT

If you're the sort who thinks 'guest stars ... who needs them?' Think again. The Sofa Spudniks wax lyrical about celebrity appearances on TV.

WHEN pop star Britney Spears opened the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas, she was ridiculed for appearing dazed (and more than a little crazed) as she badly lip-synched her way through a rendition of her new single at the time, Gimme More. The performance was disastrous and marked one of the low moments of the singer's life.

Between 2006 and 2008, Spears regularly made headlines for seriously troubled behaviour: from attacking members of the media to appearing drugged and drunk in public; shaving her head bald to appearing disheveled and incoherent at public events, Spears was a wreck.

She was eventually forced into drug rehabilitation by her family and close friends and speculation was rife about her future as a pop star and also as a mother (custody of her two children was temporarily taken away from her).

Another child doomed for disaster, I thought.

Then in March 2008, barely a month after entering rehab, it was announced that Spears was making a comeback … as a guest star in the TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Say whaaat?

Naturally, I had to watch what I thought would be a train wreck of a performance. I was so interested, I searched for the episode on YouTube. I wasn't the only curious one, obviously. Ratings for the sitcom hit an all-time high: according to reports, approximately 10.6 million viewers (in the key demographic of viewers aged between 16-49) tuned into the show for the episode.

Turns out, Spears surprised everyone with her superb comic timing and sensibility as Abby, a slightly ditzy receptionist who had a crush on lead character Ted Mosby.

By the end of the episode, Spears won some credibility back; she was better, it appeared, and showed the world that she had acting chops, too.

How I Met Your Mother isn't the only show to cast celebrities as guest stars, either. Lots of other sitcoms do it too, either to boost ratings or just to add a little fun into a long-running show.

A sitcom that used to regularly cast celebrity guest stars was Friends. Remember Brad Pitt's appearance in Season Eight, (Episode Nine, The One With The Rumour)? Pitt played Will Colbert, Ross' high school mate who had a grudge against Jennifer Aniston's character Rachel. Will use to have a crush on Rachel in high school but she just made fun of him because he was a fat kid. As a result, Will created the "I-hate-Rachel-Green" club in school (with Ross). Well, when Monica bumps into Will in New York, she invites him to join the gang for Thanksgiving, not realising the animosity Will still has for Rachel.

Pitt was hilarious: he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Appearance in 2002 for his role. But I bet the episode was a success also because the writers cleverly pitted the then star couple (Pitt was married to Aniston at the time) against each other making for some interesting viewing.

More importantly, the writers did a fantastic job in writing a strong and funny character for Pitt without allowing him to steal the show. This, I think, is crucial. You don't want a guest star to hijack your favourite series and make it all about him/her, right?

Other stars that have made successful guest appearances on Friends include Sean Penn (in Season Eight as Phoebe's twin sister Ursula's boyfriend), George Clooney and Noah Wyle as two cute doctors who Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel fall for (Season One), Bruce Willis as Paul, the father of Ross' college girlfriend (Season Six) and Reese Witherspoon and Christina Applegate who played Rachel's sisters in several episodes throughout the series' 10-season run.

I love it when shows surprise fans and viewers by casting a celebrity guests star, especially when it's done subtly. Like when Enrique Iglesias guest starred in Season Four of Two And A Half Men as the handyman Fernando who annoys the heck out of Charlie (Charlie Sheen) because he unwittingly charms one of Charlie's girlfriends. Who knew Iglesias could act so well?

And then there are shows that "over cast" their celebrity guests stars to a point that the series loses its character. An example? Glee. Too. Many. Guest. Stars. Don't you think? I know I've been bashing the show a lot of late but it's just my frustration in a show which I started off liking.

And finally, there are celebrity spots that just didn't work: Oprah Winfrey on 30 Rock (I thought she was a credible actress?) or Pete Wentz on One Tree Hill (he should stick to singing). For a celebrity casting to work, it is important for the star to be able to not take him or herself seriously and maybe even spoof him or herself. A prime example of this, which I urge you to look up Matt Damon's appearances on 30 Rock as Liz Lemon's (Tina Fey) former boyfriend. Classic.

SINCE Indra has basically gone on and on about sitcom guest stars, I'll try and give you people a flip side to the being-able-to-spoof-yourself-on-TV scenario. Of late, I've found myself completely drawn to the dark side of TV. So after a long day at work, I destress by either watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU), Criminal Minds and CSI – all shows which frequently feature famous guest stars.

SVU has featured a number of great performances by actresses like Marlee Matlin, Mary Stuart Masterson and Amanda Seyfried.

But I especially enjoyed an episode, recently, with Martin Short in it. Thinking him more adept at performing things like falling off a horse as one of the three amigos, I was suitably impressed to see him steal the show in the episode titled Pure (Season Six) where he plays a psychic (but ends up being uncovered as more psycho than psychic really).

I particular like it when actors or celebs you think will least be effective turn out to be a super watch – for instance, who knew Kevin Federline would be able to hold his own in CSI? That show has more famous guest stars than Glee hands down (and what's wrong with Glee's guest stars anyway? I loved Gwyneth Paltrow – hey, she even got an Emmy nomination; and John Stamos was like the best dentist ever ... I think after Steve Martin's dentist in Little Shop Of Horrors, I rank Stamos as one of the best dentists on the screen ever (haha); and Kristin Chenoweth was cool too ... how can you not like great actors who are vocal powerhouses, and what better show to feature them than Glee? Indra needs her teeth ... I mean, head examined.) Back to CSI and its incredible list of guest stars (more stars have guested on the show than killed I suspect): from Dakota Fanning to Roger Daltrey (of The Who fame which incidentally lends tracks as themes to all three CSI franchises) to Taylor Swift. Amazing. I especially like also the fact that occasionally story arcs are built around these guest stars (another thing Glee does which I really appreciate ... in fact, I can't wait to see how Damian McGinty and Samuel Larsen will be written into the show). One standout CSI story arc for me featured Liev Schreiber as Mike Keppler, brought in to replace William Petersen (Grissom) who took a hiatus. It was nice to see Schreiber, whom I was more familiar with watching at the movies (The Omen, The Sum Of All Fears, Kate And Leopold), as a CSI agent!

I also enjoy great cameos (of which The Simpsons has featured what seems like everyone: Leonard Nimoy, Barry White, Stephen Hawking, Johnny Cash, Oscar De La Hoya, Winona Ryder, Lebron James, Tony Bennet, Metallica!)

In particular I appreciated how Nathan Fillion's character in Castle, a crime novelist enjoys playing poker with his mates every now and again. And just who are these poker buddies? None other than James Patterson, Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane (real life authors with hefty credentials). There used to be a spot for Stephen J. Cannell, as well, but the famous TV producer/writer/novelist passed away last September, after which Castle keeps the seat empty out of respect for his "old friend". Oh break my little heart.

Katie Holmes is apparently going to be on How I Met Your Mother playing a ... wait for it... slutty pumpkin. Ann Marie can't wait for the episode and is keeping her fingers crossed Holmes' husband will make an appearance too.

Romance in the air

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 02:23 AM PDT

DJ Mynn is inviting you to play the Threesome game.

THEY say three's a crowd but on Red FM's Late Night Love Songs with Mynn (Sundays to Fridays, 10pm-1am), it's a lucky number that could see you winning a fabulous getaway.

Send in your three favourite love songs when the cue for Threesome comes on and make a dedication along with it.

If your Threesome selection is chosen, you win a stay at the elegant Swiss-Garden Resort and Spa Kuantan. Situated along the East Coast shoreline, the resort offers sensual delights from its luxurious accommodation. Guests get to enjoy the pristine private beach and a host of recreational activities.

Just send Mynn your Threesome song choices and you get to take off on an escapade.

It's an escapade of a different kind as Red FM's Runaway DJs are taking listeners on as they go out and about to secret locations every Monday to Friday.

Clues to their whereabouts are given out on air as well as through the station's website, Facebook page and Twitter account for participants to track them down.

The first listener to turn up at the correct location and identify Red FM's Runaway DJ of the day receives cash and a key to be in the running to win a brand new Proton Inspira.

You could even win an iPad 2 as it is being given out as a bonus prize at selected destination.

Always be on the lookout as you will never know when and where the deejays may pop up!

And if you are unable to join the deejays on the run, Red FM will bring you the fun as you get the chance to win your share of the goodies just by going online.

Log on to Red FM's Facebook page ( and follow the steps stated. Add the Red FM Badge to your profile picture and you could pick up an iPod Nano.

To find out more details, log on to Also, join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page and follow them on Twitter (@iloveredfm) for the latest updates.

Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

Red FM's station frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1 FM; George Town and Seberang Prai: 107.6 FM; Ipoh, Perak: 106.4 FM; Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9 FM; Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6 FM; Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9 FM; Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8 FM.

'Lost' writer spills the beans

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 01:27 AM PDT

Damon Lindelof only wanted a gig writing for Alias when he agreed to meet with J.J. Abrams about Lost -- and the pair threw in lots of wild elements just because they never expected it to get on the air.

One of the main calling cards of the show -- the flashbacks to characters' lives before they crash landed on the island -- was simply a way to cut away from the same old tropical locale. And the out-of-sync storytelling was inspired by Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

If it seemed like the writers were making things up as they went along, by the way, they often were. And also? Lindelof tried to quit the show, again and again.

These were just a few of the admissions Lindelof shared about one of television's most beloved shows on the seventh anniversary of its first airing on ABC.

He spoke during a keynote address at the New York Television Festival, a gathering where independent writers and producers try to meet with executives and find homes for their pilots.

Lindelof was an established TV writer himself, working on NBC's Crossing Jordan, when he first met Abrams. He told interviewer Andrew Jenks, host of MTV's World Of Jenks, that he had been ``stalking'' an ABC executive friend for years to get a job on Abrams' spy series Alias.

Eventually the executive, Heather Kadin, called him in January 2004 saying he could meet Abrams about a project.

``The bad news is,'' he recalled her saying, ``it's this ridiculous show idea about a plane that crashes on an island and everyone here doesn't think anything is ever going to happen with it. But Lloyd Braun who was the president of ABC at the time, just thought he had lightning in a bottle: He wanted to do a drama version of Survivor.''

Braun had told Abrams he had a script for an island drama but wanted him to ``work your magic on it,'' Lindelof said. He said Abrams told Braun he was too busy, but would supervise another writer.

``So Heather told me, you meet with J.J., this pilot goes nowhere, but then you get a job on Alias!''

But the pilot went somewhere. Lindelof came in with plenty of ideas, including nonlinear storytelling and flashbacks.

``The biggest issue with a desert island show was the audience is going to get very frustrated that the characters were not getting off the island,'' he said. ``My solution was, hey, let's get off the island every week. And the way we're going to do that is we're going to do these flashbacks. We'll do one character at a time and there's going to be like 70 characters on the show, so we'll go really, really slow, and each one will basically say, here's who they were before the crash and it'll dramatize something that's happening on the island and it will also make the show very character-centric.''

Abrams liked the idea, and also had another: ``'There should be a hatch on this island! They spend the entire season trying to get it open. And there should be these other people on the island,''' Lindelof recalled Abrams saying. ``And I'm like, ''We can call them The Others.' And he's like, 'They should hear this noise out there in the jungle.' And I'm like, 'What's the noise?' And he's like, 'I don't...know. They're never going to pick this thing up anyway.'''

Lindelof said the idea to tell the story out of chronological order came in part from Pulp Fiction, in which John Travolta's character is killed about halfway through -- and viewers learn only at the end that he had failed to heed Samuel Jackson's speech in the diner about the path of the righteous man.

``That sort of flipped the switch in me, and was something that I really wanted to do as a storyteller and Lost was really the perfect opportunity to do it,'' Lindelof said.

Abrams and Lindelof quickly wrote an outline, and within days, Braun picked up their pilot. (He was soon fired after greenlighting not only Lost but Desperate Housewives, and famously vindicated when both shows became huge hits. Lost ensured he would always be a part of the show by making his the voice that said, at the start of each episode, ``Previously, on Lost.'')

Lindelof said he almost immediately felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running the show -- and repeatedly decided or tried to quit. By its eleventh episode, he convinced Carlton Cuse, who had been his boss on CBS's Nash Bridges, to come in and help him lead the show.

``I was living, breathing, sleeping the show, it was all I thought about, and I would wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning, thinking about Jin,'' he said.

He said he agreed with critics who said the show could never last more than a season.

``If we put it on the air and we're like, there's a polar bear in the jungle, somebody better know where the (expletive) that polar bear came from,'' he said. ``That pressure was enormously debilitating.''

Abrams, meanwhile, had ``plausible deniability'' because he had left the show in Lindelof's hands to focus on movies, Lindelof said: ``When the torch-wielding mob shows up at his house, and they're like, 'Where does the polar bear come from?' he could say, I'm working on Mission Impossible, go to Damon.''

He said he resolved to quit after 13 episodes, then after the first season. Eventually the show went six seasons with him and Cuse in charge.

Lindelof eventually recognized unintentional parallels between himself and Jack, the show's lead character. He said it didn't occur to him at first that both he and Jack, played by Matthew Fox, were reluctant leaders mourning the recent deaths of their fathers.

Eventually he was given his out from the show that was making him ``miserable,'' he said. In its third season, ABC agreed it would go six seasons in all.

A turning point came at the end of the third season when he watched dailies of Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) dying. He cried over not only the character, but the impending end of Lost.

He also said the show might not have lasted more than three seasons without the Internet, because it allowed fans and the show's creators to spur each other on. He noted that 23 million people tuned in for the first episode, and only 13 million for the finale -- a sign that the show lost many people as it went on. But those that stayed with it did so in part because the Internet gave them somewhere to vent, he said.

``What got them through those periods of doubt and 'Are you going to break my heart?' was their feeling that they were communicating with us,'' he said.

But trying to please fans was a Catch-22.

``There were these two things happening on the show from the minute it began. The first thing was that the audience really wanted to feel like they had an impact on the show,'' he said. ''And the other thing was, you didn't want us to be making it up as we went along. You wanted us to have a plan, you wanted us to have a big binder with the entire show and you didn't want us to deviate from it. And the audience didn't realize that there's a huge contradiction between these two ideas. If you want to have a say, then there can't be a binder. And if there is a binder, then we're basically going to be like, 'we don't care what you guys have to say. We're just turning to page 365 and we're doing Lupitas.'''

He added: ``The show had to become sort of an exercise in, 'Here's what it's going to be, guys: We're going to come out and we're going to play our set, and once the set is over you guys can shout out what songs you want to hear and we'll do those for the encore.' And that was the way that we modulated it, and maybe it worked and maybe it didn't.

``But the interaction of the Internet and our genuine desire to hear what the fans were saying and make ourselves accessible to the fans was absolutely essential to the show's success. I am absolutely convinced that we probably would not have made it to season three or season four at the most if the Internet didn't exist.''

As for that job on Alias? It never panned out. The show wrapped after five seasons in 2006, four years before Lost.


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Students Jasmine and Ling Kar get nod for SEA Games

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 06:30 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Ipoh-born schoolgirls Jasmine Lai Pui Yee and Kam Ling Kar are set to rock the SEA Games stage for the first time in Indonesia come November.

The two sweet-looking 16-year-olds were given the nod for their maiden SEA Games appearances in diving alongside the more illustrious Leong Mun Yee, who also hails from Ipoh.

The Amateur Swimming Union of Ma­­laysia (Asum) yesterday submitt­ed their final list of athletes for aquatics to the Olympic Council of Malay­sia (OCM).

Malaysia will compete in swimming, diving, waterpolo, synchronised swimming and open water swimming, making it a full roster in aquatics for the first time at the SEA Games level.

But the biggest interest will be in diving where Malaysia are sending four men and seven women and should comfortably bag six out of the eight gold medals at stake.

The four men going are London Olym­pic-bound Bryan Nickson Lomas and Yeoh Ken Nee together with Ooi Tze Liang and Ahmad Am­­syar.

Making up the women's squad are Olympic-bound diver Pandelela Ri­nong, Cheong Jun Hoong, Traisy Vivien and Wendy Ng Yan Yee.

Jasmine and Ling Kar were grinning from ear to ear when told of their inclusions in the SEA Games squad after the women's 3m springboard synchro competition at the FINA Diving Asian Cup at National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The two are also best of friends and have been diving for the last four years. Now, all the hard work paid off as they look forward to their first as­­sign­ment with the senior national squad.

The duo are likely to enter for the women's 10m platform synchro as seniors Mun Yee and Pandelela will opt out to concentrate on the individual discipline.

"I never expected to be given a place in the squad. I'm certainly excited and looking forward to it.

"It is a big responsibility and we hope we can fulfil the expectations given to us," said Jasmine, who recently did well to bag two gold medals at the Asia Pacific Rim Junior Invitational meet in Wellington.

She won the individual gold and partnered Ling Kar to win the 3m springboard synchro as well.

The second day of the Asian Cup saw Malaysia bagging two silver and two bronze medals as China made a clean sweep of all four gold medals contested yesterday.

Jasmine-Pui Yee picked up their second silver in the women's 3m springboard synchro while Ahmad Amsyar-Pardika Indoma combined well to take another silver in the men's 3m springboard synchro.

Amsyar also won a bronze in the men's 1m springboard while Traisy Vivien underlined her talent by taking bronze behind China's Kang Li and Sheng Yi in the women's 10m platform final.

Malaysia's hopes of earning another Olympic slot rest on Bryan when he competes in the men's 10m platform today. Bryan made the cut for the Olympics in the 3m springboard at the World Championships but he has a fight on his hands with world junior champion Wang Anqi of China in the fray.

Only the winners of the individual disciplines get to qualify for the Olym­pics through the continental qualification route.

Almagro is all fired up

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 06:29 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Nicolas Almagro may be known as the Tempe­ra­mental Talent on court, but off it he certainly didn't show any signs of it at all.

The Spaniard, the world number 11, arrived yesterday for the Malay­sian Open tennis championship and he was certainly in good spirits as he joked with reporters during a press conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

"I just landed and I haven't tried the courts yet. The only thing I've tried was the bed but it was only for 20 minutes and it is definitely not enough," joked the 26-year-old Murcia native.

Almagro also explained that his fiery temper on court is part of his playing style which has helped him improved over the years.

"It's part of my mentality. When I step on court I just want to win although recently I've learned to focus solely on the game."

Almagro is the top seed following Czech Tomas Berdych's withdrawal and he is certainly well poised to win in his first appearance here.

Almagro has won three tournaments this season although uncharacteristic performances saw him crash out in the first round of the French and US Opens.

And the hard-serving Almagro has taken a more precautionary approach towards the Malaysian Open.

"I've played some good tennis this year especially early on but I could have done much better. At times I made just too many mistakes like during the French Open.

"The competition here is very strong. Every player has a chance to win and I'm just hoping to play my best tennis and win the tournament," said Almagro who named Serbia's Viktor Troicki as his strongest opponent.

Troicki is the second seed while another Serb, Janko Tipsarevic, is the third seed.

Almagro receives a bye in the first round and will take on the winner of the match between Kazakh­stan's Mikhail Kukushkin and Spaniard Albert Ramos in the second round.

Unbeaten KLHC and Sapura set the pace in the first half of season

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 06:27 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) and Sapura have made it a two horse race for the Premier Division title at the halfway mark of the Malaysia Hockey League.

After two weeks of action, KLHC and Sapura are the only two unbeaten teams with the former leading the standings on 12 points from four matches and the latter in second spot with nine points from three matches.

The two teams meet on the final day of the preliminary round on Oct 9 and if both keep up their unbeaten run, the match could very well end up as the title decider.

Double champions KLHC are slowly getting into the stride and scoring big wins but they had a scare on Friday when Maybank gave them a tough fight before losing 2-3.

KLHC edged past Tenaga Nasional 2-1 in their opening match and then went on a rampage by whipping UiTM 7-2 and Yayasan Negri Sembilan 8-0.

KLHC coach R. Vivekanandan said that all they needed to do was to win their matches.

"There are eight matches to play in the Premier Division and we have already won four. So we have to went the next four to clinch the title.

"The players just have to play their normal game. I am sure the other teams will be out to beat us so let them come at us," he said.

Sapura also had a tough weekend. They had to stage a fightback for their 2-1 win over UniKL on Friday. A defeat would have handed KLHC a clear run to the title.

Sapura coach I. Vicknesweran said they made it difficult for themselves in the match against UniKL.

"We know that there are no easy matches this year. At the top end, teams want to win the title while at the bottom end the teams need the points to make the top-seven cut. So we must collect full points from every match," he said.

Only the top seven teams in the nine-team Premier Division will make the cut for the knock-out stage.

Currently Armed Forces and UiTM seemed doomed to finish in the last two positions.

The Forces side have not won a single point while UiTM have a point after their opening day draw with UniKL.

This weekend will be crucial for Sapura as they play Nur Insafi and Tenaga Nasional. They have to collect full points to stay in the hunt for the title.

Nur Insafi have won their last two matches and will be motivated to keep up their good run but Sapura should win.

The challenge should come from Tenaga who have a more balance side.

Only the champions from the five-team Division One league will join the seven from the Premier Division for the knock-out stage and the front runner for the berth is SSTMI, the former Bandar Penawar Sports School team.


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Share prices tumbled Mon, but US stocks up, Asia recovers Tue(update 2)

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 05:58 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Share prices plummeted across the board, as the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KL Composite Index (FBM KLCI) posted its steepest single-day loss since Oct 24, 2008, due to the cloudy outlook for the US and Europe economic growth.

The FBM KLCI tumbled 34.14 points, or 2.5%, to 1,331.80 points. The benchmark index had fallen the past three trading days, losing a combined 6.28%, and is now down 16.5% from the year-to-date high of 1,594.74 on July 8.

On Bursa Malaysia, blue chips fell sharply. Losers led gainers 842 to 84 while 143 counters were unchanged. Turnover stood at 1.04 billion shares worth RM1.78bil.

Malayan Banking Bhd fell 48 sen to RM7.51, dragging the index down by 8.31 points. Public Bank Bhd suffered a similar fate, falling 62 sen to RM11.82.

The ringgit did not fare any better, closing weaker against the greenback as the eurozone crisis deepened fears. The ringgit was quoted at 3.1790 to the US dollar compared with 3.1650 on Friday. The local currency has dropped more than 6% this month.

Analysts said the local bourse could be headed for further consolidation this week so long as the debt problems in the West persisted.

"An overnight gain on Wall Street gave little assurance to Asian investors as they fear the effects of a looming US debt crisis on the export-driven economies of Asia," an analyst said.

Fortress Capital Asset Management (M) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Thomas Yong said the steep fall was relatively "mild" compared with other Asian markets which suffered a similar fate.

"There's just not that many buyers in the market. The 2.8% fall (in early trade) is mild compared with the region. It (the drop) is definitely smaller," he said, adding that the selling was mainly due to some foreign portfolios selling out.

Yong opined that the local market had not bottomed out yet but did not expect the local bourse to be severely impacted due to lower foreign participation.

"The market is probably at the low end of the valuation. The issue is whether to move in and buy all at this point or not. We have started cautiously looking at buying some stocks at the moment," he added.

An analyst from a bank-backed research house said there were no strong positive catalysts in sight this week and that the upcoming Budget 2012 might not be strong enough to withhold the external factor.

"The steep fall is still due to foreign selling. It's all external factors and has nothing to do domestically. The foreign funds are shifting their portfolios," he said, adding that he had a target of 1,280 points for the FBM KLCI for this year.

"I can't see much stability in the market because I would have thought the higher close of the Dow Jones last week would boost the market."

OSK Research head Chris Eng in a report said he saw potential for "further market retracement" although a possible deep recession could probably be averted after seeing the FBM KLCI having fallen below its previous non-recessionary bottom target of 1,378 points.

"In the medium term, we maintain our 2012 FBM KLCI fair value at 1,466 points seeing a slow recovery forward unlike in 2009. We retain our defensive stance recommending telcos, consumer, healthcare and media as defensive sectors.

"Nonetheless, with the market approaching our new 1,350-point non-recessionary bottom, we believe some bottom nibbling' would be reasonable although we do not recommend aggressive bottom fishing," he said.

Meanwhile, a technical analyst said Bursa Malaysia suffered a plunge, dropping as much as 55.41 points, or 4.06%, during intra-day session, the second biggest drop in recent years amid extended liquidation pressure on fears of a double-dip recession in the United States, exacerbated by worries that Europe's debt woes might trigger another banking crisis, thus causing more damage on the world economy.

He said based on the daily bar chart, the prevailing trend was overwhelmingly bearish, but the key index might find temporary shelter at yesterday's low of 1,310.53 points and, given the extremely oversold position of the stochastic momentum index and the 14-day relative strength index, a relief rebound might follow suit.

According to the default setting of the Fibonacci retracements, the FBM KLCI enjoys a stronger support at the 1,293 points level, which is the 38.2% pullback of the previous major rally from 801.27 on Oct 28, 2008 to an all-time high of 1,597.08 on July 11 this year.

If this concrete floor is violated, then the next downside to look for should be the 50% retracement or 1,199 points.

Elsewhere in the region, the Singapore Straits Times Index shed 44.49 points to 2,654.31 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 261.03 to 17,407.80 points.

The Jakarta Composite Index fell 110.21 points to 3,316.14 and Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 186.13 to 8,374.13 points.

Tuesday morning (Malaysian time) Reuters reported from New York that Euro zone hope reviveed optimism on Wall Street

US stocks rose on Monday as sentiment swung toward hope that European officials would find a way to cut Greece's debt and shore up European banks.

Shares rallied to session highs in the afternoon after a report said a plan to leverage money from the European Financial Stability Facility was in the works.

Investors were reluctant to make long-term commitments because of conflicting reports about whether or not European officials were preparing to take bold new action to solve the crisis.

"Given how markets have behaved over the past two months, people are interested in the vaguest of rumors because any kind of action being taken would be well-received," said Michael Church, president of Addison Capital in Yardley, Pennsylvania.

Markets have been highly sensitive to European efforts to cauterize the euro zone's credit crisis that has Greece teetering near a default. Last week, the Dow had its biggest weekly loss since October 2008 in the depths of the financial crisis, while the S&P 500 shed 6.6 percent for the week.

Financial shares ranked among the session's best performers, with the KBW Bank Index <.bkx> up 5.3 percent. Dow component JPMorgan Chase & Co advanced 7 percent to $31.65 while Citigroup Inc gained 7 percent to $26.72.

However, the Nasdaq's gains were limited after a report on Apple suggested the tech company was cutting back on some key orders.

Talk of plans for a 50 percent write-down in Greek debt and improvements in the euro-zone rescue fund buoyed the market, although European officials called the talk premature. A CNBC report cited a top European official, who said the plans involved using leverage and the European Investment Bank to buy sovereign debt to save European banks.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> shot up 272.38 points, or 2.53 percent, to end at 11,043.86.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> jumped 26.52 points, or 2.33 percent, to finish at 1,162.95.

The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> climbed 33.46 points, or 1.35 percent, to close at 2,516.69.

The CBOE Market Volatility index <.vix> fell 5.4 percent but remains more than 20 percent higher for the month.

"These confidence issues make it hard to move forward and will result in more volatility ahead," said Mark Foster, who helps manage $500 million at Kirr Marbach & Co in Columbus, Indiana.

Apple slipped 0.3 percent to $403.17 after an analyst said the iPhone maker was cutting orders from suppliers of parts for its iPad tablet. The tech bellwether fell as much as 3.2 percent earlier in the session.

"If things slow down on the tablet side, that means that perhaps Apple isn't immune from the economic slowdown after all," Foster said.

On the upside, Boeing Co gave a major lift to the Dow a day after the manufacturer delivered its long-awaited Dreamliner jet to its first airline customer. The stock rose 4.2 percent to $62.01.

Warren Buffett's conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway Inc , will launch a share-buyback program, an unprecedented move from Buffett that comes after months of investor complaints that the stock was undervalued.

Shares of Berkshire Hathaway's more actively traded Class B stock soared 8.6 percent to $72.09.

In economic news, sales of new single-family home sales fell in August to a six-month low in another sign the U.S. economy is flagging.

About 8.75 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq, above last year's daily average of 8.47 billion.

About 11 stocks rose for every four that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, while about 62 percent of Nasdaq issues rose.

Other market developments reported by Reuters on Tuesday

* Australian stocks snapped a three-day losing streak on Tuesday, rebounding 2.5 percent as global markets rallied on hopes that European officials would find a way to cut Greece's debt and shore up European banks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index jumped 96.8 points to 3,960.7 at 0012 GMT, the biggest gain in three weeks.

The benchmark lost 1 percent on Monday.

* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.9 percent to 3,285.4.

* The Philippine Stock Exchange said there would be no trading on Tuesday due to a lack of clearing facilities, with government offices and the central bank closed because of Typhoon Nesat, which made landfall north of the capital early on Tuesday.

In a statement on its website, the exchange also said there would be no settlement of trades on Tuesday. * Oil prices rose on Tuesday in early Asian trade on hopes that European officials would tackle the eurozone's debt crisis.

November Brent crude gained $1 a barrel before triming gains to 87 cents at $104.81 a barrel as of 0008 GMT.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude for November delivery was up 83 cents at $81.07 a barrel.

* In Tokyo the Nikkei average rose on Tuesday as risk assets got a lift from a report that a plan to contain Europe's sovereign debt contagion is in the works.

The Nikkei added 1.4 percent to 8,488.03. The broader Topix index rose 1.3 percent to 738.03.

What ideas is Europe mulling to solve its debt?

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 05:54 PM PDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe is working to ramp up the fire-power of its bailout fund amid growing alarm over its slow handling of a debt crisis that threatens to derail a global economic recovery, but European policymakers disagree over the best course of action.

Many of the options to bolster the 440 billion euro European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) have catches, including opposition from countries like Germany, which fears a replay of its disastrous economic policies of the 1920s.

Meanwhile, euro zone officials played down reports on Monday of emerging plans to halve Greece's debts and recapitalize European banks to cope with the fallout, stressing that no such scheme is on the table yet.


Rough calculations suggest the EFSF, which borrows its funds from the markets backed by guarantees from euro zone states, might cope with a bailout of Spain but that it would not have enough ammunition if Italy needed help.

The EFSF is already committed to providing 17.7 billion euros in emergency loans to Ireland and 26 billion to Portugal.

In addition, it takes over the remainder of Europe's contribution to an initial bailout of Greece, which is likely to require around 25 billion euros, and is expected to provide two-thirds of a 109 billion euro second bailout of Greece.

Taken together, the EFSF's current commitments total at least 142 billion euros, leaving it 298 billion euros.

A package for Spain might top 290 billion euros, according to some estimates, while a rescue bill for Italy could total almost 490 billion euros.

Some experts suggest doubling the EFSF. Others talk of boosting it to "several trillion." But the way to restore confidence, which will be determined by the reaction of stressed markets, goes beyond simple mathematics.


One way of bolstering the EFSF's size, being proposed by the Center for European Policy Studies, a think tank in Brussels, is to turn it into a bank.

This means the Luxembourg-based vehicle could lend money to countries in difficulty and turn to the European Central Bank to refinance such loans rather than having to rely solely on its limited capital base.

Banks typically lend roughly 10 times their capital, and experts who have drawn up this model believe the EFSF could do the same.

That would mean the 440 billion euros of capital in the facility could in theory be transformed into more than 4 trillion euros of fire-power.

But the reality is not that simple. The EFSF would only qualify to receive credit from the ECB that was as good as the collateral, for example Spanish government bonds, that it has to offer.

If the EFSF buys these from the Spanish government directly, then a market discount to reflect the risk of default has to be applied, in addition to the standard haircuts the ECB charges for collateral. This reduces the amount of credit the EFSF could get from the ECB.

But it is political opposition rather than technical hitches that pose the biggest and perhaps insurmountable hurdle.

At the core of these are concerns recently aired by German Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann that the ECB may already be overextending itself.

The euro zone's central banks and the ECB have a combined capital base of 82 billion euros. It has already lent 535 billion euros to banks and bought a further 150 billion euros of government bonds to prop up the market.

So far, Germany, the euro zone's chief paymaster, and the ECB are opposed to the idea, suggesting it has little chance of making it beyond the drawing board.

Last weekend, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was looking into alternatives.


One such alternative would be to use the EFSF to insure investors against future losses when they buy Italian or Spanish bonds.

The EFSF would issue "credit enhancements" for new bonds that could cover potential losses, cutting the risk for investors and making it easier for countries like Italy to tap markets.

Such a scheme would not help Greece, said Sony Kapoor, a financial expert who has advocated the model, but would set up a "firewall" for Italy and Spain that would allow them tap money markets even if Greece were to default.

"This could take the form of the EFSF offering insurance against, say, the first 20 percent of any losses on these ... and would enable the EFSF to bring down the borrowing costs for Italy and Spain for the next 3 years or more," said Kapoor, the managing director of think tank Re-Define.

"Lowering the borrowing costs for Italy and Spain is a necessary step before any restructuring of Greek debt can be seriously contemplated."

"The options being discussed are primarily about policymakers, who believe that Italy and Spain are fundamentally solvent, calling the markets' bluff that they are not."



Unlike the current EFSF, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is permanent and has a pool of capital of 80 billion euros, paid in by countries in the same way as they do with the


Starting the ESM in July next year, rather than July 2013 as planned, could reassure investors because it provides a second lever to support markets alongside the ECB.

But first, however, German chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders have to convince national lawmakers to back their pledge to allow the EFSF to extend loans to countries under attack from markets or buy sovereign bonds to prop up struggling states.

U.S. firm finds British shipwreck full of silver

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 05:52 PM PDT

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - U.S. salvage company Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc said on Monday it had found the sunken wreckage of a British cargo ship filled with silver in the Atlantic Ocean, where it was torpedoed by the Germans during the Second World War.

The wreckage of the S.S. Gairsoppa was found in international waters 300 miles off the coast of Ireland, at a depth of 15,510 feet, the Tampa, Florida, company said.

The Gairsoppa sank on February 17, 1941, after it was hit by a torpedo from a German U-Boat. Only one of the 85 men on board survived.

The 412-foot (125-metre) ship was carrying cargo for the British Ministry of War Transportation when it was sunk.

Its cargo included about 7 million ounces of silver, the company said in a statement, which would make it the largest known cargo of precious metal ever recovered from the sea.

Odyssey Marine was awarded a salvage contract by the British government in 2010. Under the contract, the company will retain 80 percent of the net salvaged value of the silver bullion.

The ship was located using sonar, and a remotely controlled vehicle was used to send pictures of the wreckage to the surface.

"Given the orientation and condition of the shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage operation will be suited for the recovery of this silver cargo," Andrew Craig, the Odyssey Marine recovery manager, said in a statement.

Recovery operations are expected to begin in the spring, the company said.

Odyssey Marine has been in a legal battle with Spain over 500,000 gold and silver coins it discovered in the Atlantic Ocean in 2007. Spain says the coins came from a Spanish ship that sank in 1804, Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes.

A U.S. appeals court ruled last week that U.S. courts had no jurisdiction in the case and it should be decided in Spain. Odyssey Marine is appealing.


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'Gotti' producer tries to make nice with Joe Pesci

Posted: 25 Sep 2011 10:57 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): The producer of an upcoming John Gotti biopic is trying to make nice with actor Joe Pesci.

On Sunday, Marc Fiore sent TheWrap a written statement saying nice things about Pesci - the actor who is suing the producer for allegedly downsizing his role after he'd already gone to the trouble of up-sizing his waistline.

''During the past few days, there have been erroneous reports in the media that I have been making less than favorable comments about Joe Pesci,'' Fiore wrote. ''For the record, I am extremely fond of Joe, think he is a terrific actor and very much want him to be in the Gotti movie. It's unfortunate we have become embroiled in a lawsuit, however I am hopeful that we will resolve our differences and Joe will accept an offer from us to be in the film.''

TMZ reported the ''less than favorable comments'' that Fiore is now calling erroneous.

According to TMZ, Fiore said that Pesci ''desperately wants to be part of this film project'' and that ''it has been over 20 years since Mr. Pesci has been able to gather the attention he has by merely interjecting his role in this film.''

Pesci sued Fiore in July, claiming that he gained 30 pounds to play the role of Angelo Ruggiero - and then was offered a different, lesser role for significantly less money.

The lawsuit is only a slice of the weirdness surrounding the movie.

In June, Fiore removed Marty Ingels as executive producer of the movie. And in May, after director Barry Levinson questioned whether Lindsay Lohan would be in the film, Fiore issued a statement saying the troubled actress ''will be playing the role of Kim Gotti'' - and will be in a second Fiore movie.

But now, it doesn't look like Lohan will appear in the movie.

And Levinson replaced original director Nick Cassavetes after Cassavetes had a scheduling conflict.

Despite the off-screen drama, there's plenty of on-screen talent. John Travolta, Chazz Palminteri, Kelly Preston, Al Pacino and Ben Foster star.

The movie is scheduled to start shooting - shooting! - Jan. 3 in New York City.

'Lion King' rules box office for second week

Posted: 25 Sep 2011 06:54 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): ''The Lion King'' fended off Brad Pitt to keep the box-office crown for a second straight weekend.

Walt Disney Co's 3D re-release of the animated classic rang up an estimated $22.1 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales over three days as families turned out to see lion cub Simba's return to theaters.

Baseball drama ''Moneyball'' starring Pitt took second and family film ''Dolphin Tale'' finished a close third, according to studio projections released Sunday.

Ticket sales for ''The Lion King 3D'' have far surpassed industry expectations for a movie that debuted in 1994 and will soon hit stores on Blu-ray disc. The film has grossed $61.7 million in North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters since its release last weekend, plus $16 million in international markets, where it came out more than a month ago.

Combined, the ''Lion King'' re-release has brought in $77.7 million around the world. Disney will extend the planned two-week run in theaters, said Dave Hollis, executive vice president for motion picture sales and distribution at Disney.

''We are working to meet that demand,'' Hollis said.

Baseball and math didn't quite add up to a box-office win for ''Moneyball,'' which finished in second place with $20.6 million domestically. Pitt plays real-life Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, who used unconventional statistical analysis to field a small-budget team of overlooked players to make an unlikely playoff run.

The movie won positive reviews from critics and received an A rating from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

The film was based on a nonfiction book by Michael Lewis and cost about $50 million to produce. Sales hit the high end of studio projections, said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Columbia Pictures, which released the film.

Close behind was another story from the animal kingdom. ''Dolphin Tale'' brought in an estimated $20.3 million to take third place, a strong showing for a family film against the mighty performance from ''Lion King.''

The movie, starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman, is based on the true story of a dolphin that loses its tail in a crab trap and is rehabilitated with a prosthetic tail. The real dolphin that inspired the story portrays the dolphin in the film.

The movie won a rare A+ rating from audiences polled by CinemaScore. Also offered in 3D, the film was produced by Alcon Entertainment for about $37 million.

Action film ''Abduction,'' starring and produced by ''Twilight'' heartthrob Taylor Lautner in his first major role outside the popular vampire and werewolf series, pulled in $11.2 million to take fourth place.

In ''Abduction,'' Lautner plays a teenager on the run after he discovers his parents aren't who he thought they were and his life has been a lie. He pieces together the truth while being pursued by the FBI and killer assassins. The film cost Lions Gate Entertainment about $35 million to make.

Spy thriller ''Killer Elite,'' starring Robert de Niro, Clive Owen and Jason Stratham, finished in fifth place with $9.5 million. The film is the first movie released by Open Road Films, a joint venture between theater owners Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Inc.

The weekend also saw surprise summer hit ''The Smurfs'' crossing a milestone with more than $500 million in global ticket sales since the 3D live-action and animated family film debuted in July.

Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp, released ''Moneyball'' and ''The Smurfs.'' ''Dolphin Tale'' was released by Warner Bros, a unit of Time Warner Inc. Lions Gate Entertainment distributed ''Abduction.''


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DAP like small child afraid of ghosts, says Nik Aziz

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 06:54 AM PDT

KOTA BARU: Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat has likened the DAP's response to the hudud issue as "a small child who is scared of ghosts."

The PAS spiritual leader contended that hudud, which was to be implemented in Kelantan, was fairer and "did not involve the non-Muslim community." As such, DAP had no reason to oppose it, he said.

"Why does the DAP want to leave (the opposition pact)? Hudud is for the Muslims.

"So, what is DAP's connection with the Muslims? Some people are scared of hudud like they're scared of ghosts," he told reporters at the Mentri Besar's residence.

Nik Aziz had said the hudud law would be implemented in Kelantan's syariah courts despite opposition from DAP.

DAP leaders had reportedly said that they would resign en bloc if hudud implementation was incorporated into the common policy framework of the opposition grouping.

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PAS: We'll not give up
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Coroner: No foul play in Ahmad Sarbaini's death (Updated)

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 06:07 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Selangor Customs assistant director Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed's death has been ruled as accidental and "misadventure".

Coroner Aizatul Akmal Maharani delivered the verdict Monday after 34 witnesses had given their testimonies.

He ruled out foul play and third party involvement.

Aizatul Akmal said Ahmad Sarbaini, who was at the MACC office on April 1,2 and 4, knew the location of the door, access system and the existence of the pantry on the third floor.

He was of the view that the deceased did not use the stairs or lift as he would have been stopped by MACC guards and seeing that he was alone in the witness room, the only way out was through the pantry window.

"I visited the scene and agree that when we stand near the pantry window, the roof below on the left appears close.

"I believe he experienced an optical illusion at the time that he could jump onto the roof and escape from the MACC office to avoid being locked up in the 'hell on earth'," said Aizatul Akmal.

He said Ahmad Sarbaini, who died between 10 am and 10.30 am, sustained severe head injuries as a result of falling from the third floor of the MACC building and not from anywhere else.

Among those who had testified in the inquest included Ahmad Sarbaini's wife Maziah Manap, who said that her husband "would have never committed suicide".

Ahmad Sarbaini, 56, who was attached to the Port Klang Customs office, was found dead at the badminton court on the first floor of the MACC building at Jalan Cochrane on April 6.

He was reported to have gone to the commission's office to meet the investigation officer assigned to corruption cases involving 62 customs officers.

More in The Star Tuesday

We'll help you become professional riders, T'ganu tells Mat Rempits

Posted: 26 Sep 2011 05:47 AM PDT

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu is tempting the Mat Rempit with offers of becoming professional riders.

"They should display their skills at the racing circuit and not public roads.

"The state government is prepared to assist those interested in motorcycle racing as there are benefits in professional racing, rather than racing (recklessly) on public roads," Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said told reporters.

The problem of illegal racing has worsened in the state.

Nevertheless, the state government has taken a prudent approach by educating and providing participants of the illegal races positive support, added Ahmad.


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