Sabtu, 1 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Pro-Assad forces regain rebel Syrian town - agency

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 09:19 PM PDT

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian troops entered the central town of Rastan, the official news agency said on Saturday, after the most prolonged fighting between the army and insurgents in the-six month uprising.

"Calm and security have returned to Rastan after security police backed by army units entered the town and confronted the terrorist groups who have terrified its inhabitants," the agency said.

The town, scene of large protests demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, had been under the control of army defectors and other insurgents in the last few weeks. Government forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, moved on the town of 40,000, which lies 180 km (110 miles) north of Damascus on the main highway to Aleppo, on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

ANALYSIS - World divided on new plan to combat global warming

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 09:19 PM PDT

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A new plan to curb global warming risks becoming a battleground between rich and poor nations and could struggle to get off the ground as negotiators battle over the fate of the ailing Kyoto climate pact.

An activist from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stands in a poster outlining climate woes and cures at the U.N. Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen in this December 11, 2009 file photo. (REUTERS/Bob Strong/Files)

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol covers only emissions from rich nations that produce less than a third of mankind's carbon pollution and its first phase is due to expire end-2012. Poorer nations want it extended, while many rich countries say a broader pact is needed to include all big polluters.

Australia and Norway have proposed negotiations on a new agreement, but say it is unrealistic to expect that to be ready by 2013. They have set a target date two years later, in 2015.

"This is the only way ahead. There is no other way than failure," said a senior climate negotiator from a developed country on the Australia-Norway proposal, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Developing nations insist Kyoto be extended to commit rich countries to tougher carbon cuts and fiercely resist any attempts to side-line the world's main climate pact, meaning the Australia-Norway plan faces a tough time .

Failure to agree on a new climate deal could lead to nations committing only to voluntary steps that are unlikely to put the brakes on climate change, risking more extreme droughts, floods, storms and crop failures. It would also weaken efforts to put in place tough policies to promote cleaner fuels and green energy.

Graphic on world's top CO2 polluters, click

The proposal calls on major economies to quickly strengthen steps to curb emissions, agree on a way to standardise actions and a system to compare and verify what everyone else is doing.

Marathon U.N.-led climate talks failed to meet a 2009 deadline to agree a new pact to start in 2013 and a major conference in Durban, South Africa, in two months is under pressure to launch a process to negotiate a new treaty.


As negotiators haggle, data show the world is heating up, as emissions, particularly from big developing nations, keep growing from burning more coal, oil and gas.

Scientists say floods similar to those that left millions homeless in Pakistan last year and ravaged parts of Australia, could become more common, along with more intense Atlantic hurricanes and wildfires.

The United States has already tied its yearly record for billion-dollar weather disasters and the cumulative tab from floods, tornadoes and heat waves this year has hit $35 billion, the National Weather Service said in mid-August.

That doesn't include billions in losses and disaster relief from Hurricane Irene , which struck in late August.

All this throws the spotlight on emissions curbs by the world's major economies and the fact that these are not enough. When Kyoto was agreed, emissions from poorer nations were much smaller. Now they dwarf those of rich countries.

At the least, the talks need to restore faith that countries can do more to fight global warming.

"We need to push away from this annual cycle of what are we going to achieve into a more realistic timeline of when can we achieve a new agreement. My sense is that none of the negotiators disagree with that. It's obvious," said the senior delegate.

The Australia-Norway proposal will be a focus of U.N.-led climate talks in Panama this week, the last round before the conference in Durban.


The EU said it broadly supported the submission.

"It tries to take forward the international climate negotiations into the next years, seeing how we can build a broader climate regime," Artur Runge-Metzger, the EU's chief climate negotiator, told Reuters. "We think that this seems to be a workable timeline."

He said it was crucial the Durban meeting agrees on building a new climate framework for all countries, referring particularly to the United States and major developing economies.

China produces about a quarter of mankind's greenhouse gas pollution and is the top global emitter. While the government is taking steps such as promoting energy efficiency and vehicle fuel standards, these are voluntary.

The proposal will prove divisive for poorer countries.

None more so than nations most vulnerable to climate change, such as low-lying islands that face ever rising sea levels, flooding and shrinking fresh water supplies. They want faster action by big polluters and feel Kyoto is the way to go.

"It basically delays real action to address climate change and vulnerable countries aren't going to like it," said Ian Fry, lead climate negotiator for the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, told Reuters, adding: "It's a gift to the United States."

India, the world's third largest carbon polluter, has also dug in its heels over the proposal.

"Such a plan takes the focus away from Kyoto and redraws negotiating paradigms. Why should the developing countries agree?" said an Indian official with knowledge of the global negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The United States, the world's second-biggest polluter, never ratified Kyoto, saying the pact is flawed because it doesn't commit big developing economies to meet legally binding emissions curbs.

The proposal could however benefit investors in cleaner power generation, carbon-offset projects and greener buildings.

"Anything which moves the world towards more unified action increases the confidence level of investors," said Geoff Rousel, global head of commodities, carbon and energy for Westpac Institutional Bank in Sydney.

"Therefore, if this plan was to be accepted, you'd be more likely to see more confidence in capital expenditure in energy efficiency and emissions abatement," he said.

The United States remains cautious.

"A legal agreement has to apply with equal legal force to at least the major developing countries so that means China, India, Brazil and so forth," said chief U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern in recent remarks to the media. And that meant no "escape hatches" or conditions on meeting those commitments, he said.

(Additional reporting by Gerard Wynn in London, Krittivas Mukherjee in New Delhi and Tim Gardner in Washington; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

U.S. issues travel alert after Awlaki death

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 09:19 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel alert on Saturday warning of the possibility of anti-American attacks in response to the killing of two top al Qaeda members.

The warning came a day after U.S. officials said Anwar al-Awlaki, identified as "chief of external operations" for al Qaeda's Yemen branch, was killed in an attack by missiles fired from multiple CIA drones in Yemen.

Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric linked to al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, gives a religious lecture in an unknown location in this still image taken from video released by on September 30, 2011. (REUTERS/

"The death of Awlaki, in the near term, could provide motivation for anti-American attacks worldwide from individuals or groups seeking to retaliate against U.S. citizens or interests because of this action," the State Department said.

The drone strike also killed Samir Khan, an American who served as editor of a glossy magazine used as a propaganda and recruitment tool by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

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Radical MAS organisational revamp

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 07:56 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has radically revamped the line of reporting and divisions, where managing director/group chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya will focus on long-haul while deputy CEO Mohammed Rashdan Yusof will look after the airline's short-haul operations.

While Jauhari will oversee the entire operations at MAS, Rashdan will also assume the role of head of commercial, pending the appointment of a new commercial director. The commercial director's job is basically to drive sales, oversee its network and revenue management.

Datuk Eddy Leong, the managing director of community airline Firefly, has been appointed chief operating officer for the short-haul operations. There is, however, no indication whether the Firefly brand name will be retained or be renamed.

A share-swap deal in August saw the entry of AirAsia founders Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun as MAS shareholders with a 20% equity stake. They are now directors of the national carrier.

Following the shake-up, MAS will realign itself to be a preferred premium carrier, focusing on long and short-haul operations, while AirAsia will continue to focus on the low-cost sector, covering both long and short-haul routes.

The shake-up also involved a revamp of the MAS board with Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof becoming its chairman. Rashdan, who in August was appointed executive director, has been designated as deputy CEO. Jauhari came on board MAS as its MD/group CEO on Sept 19.

After nearly two weeks on the job, Jauhari has come up with a new organisational structure that has distinct operating responsibilities, since the key focus is to rev up revenues.

The new structure had five main pillars, sources said.

The first four pillars are wide-body operations to oversee operations and customer experience; narrow-body operations, comprising short-haul and turboprops operations; finance and commercial (finance, corporate finance and strategic procurement, and commercial); human capital and support functions (HR, internal audit, communication, strategy, legal/risks, safety and company secretary).

And the last pillar covers key operating subsidiaries, MASKargo, MAS engineering and maintenance (MAE) and MAS Wings.

Besides being fully in-charge of the entire MAS group and long-haul operations, Jauhari will also oversee customer experience, operations, human capital, strategy/communications/legal/risk and three key operating subsidiaries.

Rashan will look after the short-haul operations, commercial, finance, corporate finance and strategic procurement units.

The head of units have been retained. They include operations under Capt Mohd Azharuddin Osman, Datuk Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani is tasked with customer experience, Mohd Azha Abdul Jalil, finance, Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar, corporate finance/procurement, and Raja Azura Raja Mahayuddin, human capital.

The heads of the key operating subsidiaries remain Shahari Sulaiman (cargo), Mohd Roslan Ismail (MAE) and Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang (MASWings).

Sources said the seven regional heads would now report to Rashdan.

Sources said MAS' new customer experience unit showed its seriousness in building customer relationship which is crucial in the premium business. The long- and short-haul operations would use widebody and narrowbody aircraft, respectively. MAS is expected to take delivery of the A380 aircraft next year.

Sources said a management committee chaired by Jauhari would be set up and it was expected to meet every Monday. With the setting up of the management committee, the exco formed earlier would be disbanded, they said.


Tough battle for eurozone

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 07:51 PM PDT

WHEN in a hole, dig deeper", world famous speculator George Soros once said this about reviving a struggling US economy.

In delivering his speech at the University of Columbia about a year ago, Soros was explaining that the only way to get the US economy back on its feet was to have the country's already highly indebted government to provide further fiscal stimulus which means incurring even more debt.

Soros put it this way: "When a car is skidding, you have to turn the wheel in the direction of the skid to prevent the car from crashing. Only when you have regained control can you correct the direction of the car."

His suggestion defies conventional thinking. But some economists think that countries in the 17-nation eurozone seem prepared to go down that path in dealing with the region's deepening debt crisis that has been dampening global market sentiment recently.

Over the week, German policymakers voted in favour to strengthen the region's 440 billion euros (RM1.91 trillion) bailout fund, known simply as the European Financial Stability Facility, or EFSF. Among other things, the approval means Germany's commitment to the fund will increase to 211 billion euros from the current 123 billion euros.

The latest development in the eurozone does bring about a sense of relief among global market players not so much because it is an immediate remedy to the region's lingering debt crisis, but because it signifies Germany's strong commitment towards the financial stability of the region.

Being the strongest and one of the very few fundamentally-sound economies in the eurozone, Germany's support is deemed crucial for the region. Yet, it has not been an easy journey to convince the Germans to extend further support (financially, that is).

"We can afford solidarity," Germany's Deputy Foreign Minister Werner Hoyer maintained in a recent interview.

"One should not exaggerate the problems (of eurozone's debt crisis). What's necessary is that we are already seeing the respective countries moving aggressively on their reform efforts," he said.

While the lending capacity of EFSF has been expanded, Greece will still have to wait until next month to know whether it will be getting another round of crucial bailout money from its neighbours to prevent it from defaulting on its obligations. The markets may have started pricing in a Greek default, but eurozone leaders seem bent on not letting that happen.

Experts think the bailout fund is merely a short-term remedy and does not prevent the same problem from cropping up again.

An economist with a foreign bank says this to StarBizWeek: "Most of the solutions that we have taken so far seem very much like the cause that got us into the mess in the first place, that is, debt after debt.

"Whether that will work, well, we won't be able to know until some years later, or maybe earlier than that. But one thing I know, it looks kind of scary sometimes," he says.

In the latest quarterly global poll of 1,031 investors by Bloomberg, conducted before the German's approval of expanding the EFSF, 53% think the eurozone crisis will worsen, and 56% say they will be reducing their exposure to euro in the next six months. About three quarters think the eurozone economy will fall into a recession in the next 12 months. Such numbers underscore the deteriorating sentiment that investors have towards the region.

Stock market performances in Asia over the past one month show how sensitive the region is when investor sentiment is down. The sharp pullback in foreign capital sent stock markets in the region on a downward spiral and the value of Asian currencies falling in tandem.

Suddenly, Asia's growth story was no longer in memory.

In a Credit Suisse report on Asia's risk list dated July 27, analysts say while a credit crunch could well be avoided in Asia in the event of major sovereign or financial sector problems in the United States and/or eurozone, Asian economies could still be affected due to an impact on confidence and external demand.

The global bank's latest report on Asia decoupling argue that Asian exports are not as diversified as many people perceive it to be.

Its research found that there is a corelation between exports of Asian economies (except Japan) to markets other than the United States and European Union and those into these countries.

"The increase in intra-Asia trade has been mostly about China, which has become a regional assembly plant' that re-exports to other parts of the world," itsays.

It adds that China is becoming an increasingly important source of final demand due to its robust domestic economy but only to some products, that is, food, fuels and basic manufactured products.

Hence, only exporters of these basic products to China will be better positioned to benefit from the country's growth resilience, and the good news is, Malaysia is one of them.

China's demand may not be a super engine of growth for Malaysia's economy, but at least, it will provide some cushion to the nation's declining shipments.

Being a relatively small economy, trade is definitely an important source of growth for Malaysia.

In the midst of global uncertainties, it is heartening to note that Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak says his government is mindful of the fear of a global recession, and that they are keeping a close watch on the global situation.

Najib has even emphasised the need to boost domestic demand, especially on the private investment.

Najib said Malaysia needs domestic investments of about RM940bil over the next 10 years, or an average of RM94bil each year, to achieve the high-income status by 2020. Total direct domestic investment (DDI) achieved so far this year is still way below the annual target, with DDI in manufacturing from January to July totalling only at RM15.9bil, while RM11bil was poured into the services sector during the first quarter of the year.

It is undeniable that the country's Government Transformation Programme and Economic Transformation Programme are geared towards the objective of boosting domestic demand and private investment.

But, analysts point out that for those objectives to be realised, more effort has to be put in to execute reform measures more effectively.


MBSB adopts best industry practices: CEO

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 07:48 PM PDT

Saturday October 1, 2011

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) adopts the best industry practices when evaluating the creditworthy of a government servant and does not "simply disburse personal loans based solely on salary deductions," according to chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Zaini Othman.

He was responding to comments made by Malayan Banking Bhd CEO Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar in The Star yesterday in relation to "personal loans given out by non-bank entitites" which he felt was misleading to the public and conveyed a negative picture of MBSB, the oldest local financial institution in the country.

In a statement he said: "MBSB made an impact in the industry in mid-2009 when it re-entered the market and provided Personal Financing-i to government servants at the lowest rate of 4.90% per annum.

"This was markedly lower than most rates then which were above 7.50%. It was also significantly lower than another source of financing which is credit card at between 13.5% and 17.5% per annum or its cash advance withdrawals at the maximum of 18%."

"MBSB believes that the rate offered is the true reflection of the level of risks undertaken by MBSB as repayment is collected via salary deduction."



The Star Online: Sports

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Unsung golfers Hoey and Fleetwood outshine world’s best in Scotland

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 04:12 PM PDT

CARNOUSTIE (Scotland): Unsung Tommy Fleetwood and Michael Hoey outshone the world's best in the Dunhill Links Championship by sharing a one–shot second round lead on Friday.       

England's Fleetwood, normally a Challenge Tour player, and Northern Irishman Hoey were the halfway frontrunners on 12–under 132.

Fleetwood's 63 at Kingsbarns was one stroke off world number two Lee Westwood's 2003 course record, while Hoey, also at Kingsbarns, added a second 66.

The pair were one stroke better than the 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (67).       

The 20–year–old Fleetwood, ranked 202nd in the world, lost out in the final at Turnberry in 2008 to Dutchman Reiner Saxton when he was poised to be the youngest winner of the British amateur title.

Since turning professional, he has had to ply his trade on the Challenge Tour and this year he has swept all before him on the lower–tiered Tour, winning the Kazakhstan Open three weeks ago and heading the rankings, making a full Tour card a certainty next year.       "I know where I'm playing next year and that's given me confidence," Fleetwood told reporters after picking up nine birdies in a faultless round. "My name is in pretty good company right now.

"I had chances to win on the Challenge Tour and finally got it done in Kazakhstan, let's see if I can do it on the bigger stage," Fleetwood added.

Hoey, 271st in the rankings, took the British amateur title in 2001 but struggled to make any impact in the professional ranks until winning the 2009 Portuguese Open. He then added the Madeira Islands Open title in May.       

"Landing a really big title has obviously been a long–time goal," Hoey, 32, said. "I led this tournament a couple of years ago after two rounds so I've had the experience before.

"My putting has improved with a new coach and a new putter, so I'm hopeful this will be my week."

Oosthuizen had his week last year at St Andrews and the South African, with two rounds at the course to come, is hoping to do well again there.        

"I've had a pretty thin time of it over the last few months but perhaps St Andrews will be kind to me again," he said.       

The 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell was in a large group two shots off the pace. McDowell was also hoping to turn back the clock at the Old Course where in 2004 he posted a course-record 62.       

Two bogeys in the last three holes dropped world number six and defending champion Martin Kaymer three shots off the pace.       

World number one Luke Donald hit 71 to put himself eight shots behind the top duo, losing ground on his world-ranking and money-list rivals, Westwood and Rory McIlroy, who were both five shots adrift. – Reuters       

Khe Wei and Vivian smash their way into first-ever final

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 04:06 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The much improved pair of Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo finally qualified for their first ever final appearance when they smashed past their Thai opponents in the semi-finals of the Indonesian Open GP Gold at East Kalimantan yesterday.

Khe Wei-Vivian twice came close to reaching their first career final in the Thailand Open back in May and the Taiwan Open last month only to falter in the semi-finals.

This time, however, the young pair made no mistake as they led from start to finish against Sujitra Ekmongkolpaisarn-Punyada Munkitchokecharoen winning 21-12, 21-13 in just 29 minutes.

It was a tremendous effort from the Khe Wei-Vivian who have really stepped up a gear and shown great improvement lately.

"Khe Wei and Vivian have really improved a lot. Their results of late is testimony of that and I'm happy that they managed to reach their first final," said Badminton Association of Malaysia secretary Ng Chin Chai.

"I'm also happy at how they've pick up themselves over the past year and they can really develop into a top pair in two to three years time. When Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty retire in the future, Khe Wei-Vivian have the potential to replace them."

Chin Chai also said that the second tier shuttlers in the national squad have also been making good progress and there is still a chance to win medals in the Jakarta SEA Games later in November.

"There is no sure bet for the gold medal but if these players continue improving, we could still have a chance," said Chin Chai.

Meanwhile, Khe Wei-Vivian will have a tough hurdle in today's final if they are to win their first ever Open title.

They will take on eighth seeds Bao Yixin-Zhong Qianxin of China, a pair they have never played before although Khe Wei-Vivian faced Bao Yixin once when she partnered Cheng Shu back in the Thailand Open in May. They lost that match.

In other results, Taufik Hidayat's woeful form continued when he was easily beaten by compatriot Tommy Sugiarto 10-21, 15-21.

The seventh seeded Sugiarto will take on compatriot Dionysius Hayom Rumbakain an all-Indonesian men's singles final.


Men's Singles: Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) bt Taufik Hidayat (Ina) 21-10, 21-15; Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (Ina) bt Alamsyah Yunus (Ina) 24-22, 20-22, 21-13.

Men's Doubles: Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano (Ina) w.o. Fang Chieh Min-Lee Sheng Mu (Tpe); Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa (Jpn) bt Yohannes Rendy Sugiarto-Afiat Yuris Wirawan (Ina) 21-16, 21-18.

Women's Doubles: Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo (Mas) bt Sujitra Ek­­mong­­­­kolpaisarn-Punyada Mun­kitchokecharoen (Tha) 21-12, 21-13; Bao Yixin-Zhong Qianxin (Chn) bt Anneke Feinya Agustin-Nitya Mahes­hwari (Ina) 21-17, 21-18.

Kenneth hoping to be Malaysia’s best-ever finisher in amateur meet

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 04:05 PM PDT

SINGAPORE: Malaysia's Kenneth de Silva managed to stay with the frontrunners in the Asian Amateur Championship at the New Course of the Singapore Island Country Club despite carding his worst round of one-over 73 yesterday.

The 20-year-old Kenneth's three-day total of seven-under 209 puts him seven strokes behind leader Ben Campbell of New Zealand going into today's final round.

Kenneth, admitted he struggled to get his game going.

"Today (yesterday), I could not direct my shots on the fairways. I also struggled with my putting. I am really fortunate that I stayed on course by scoring par on the last nine holes. I missed several short putts towards the end of the day," he added.

Although the Malaysian youngster started his campaign in the company of Campbell and Australia's Cameron Smith, Kenneth only returned with a birdie from the long par-five ninth hole and had bogeys on the par-four first and fifth holes.

However, Kenneth still fancies his chances in his pursuit to become Malaysia's best-ever finisher in the series.

Compatriot Mohd Iszaimi Ismail was the best Malaysian performer in seventh spot at China in 2009 while Mohd Iylia Jamil came in at a respectable 13th position in Japan last year.

"It is still an open affair going into the decisive day. I am confident of doing better. I just need to pull up my socks and make the chances count especially when it comes to the simple short putts. I feel that I am still in good shape physically and mentally to end on a high note," said Kenneth.

Meanwhile, overnight leader 20-year-old Campbell from New Zealand stayed on top of the leaderboard with a three-day total of 14-under 202.

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan shot a seven-under 65 for a 13-under 203 total to remain a stroke adrift of the leader.

Malaysia's two up-and-coming talents – Low Khai Jei and Paul San – from the Under-15 age-group are also in the fray for the final round.

The 15-year-old Khai Jei posted a praiseworthy three-under 213 while the 14-year-old Paul is at the bottom of the field with a seven-over 223.


Leading third round scores: 202: Ben Campbell (Nzl) 67-66-69; 203: Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 67-71-65; 206: Cameron Smith (Aus) 68-69-69; 207:Lee Soo-min (Kor) 65-72-70; 208: Vaughan McCall (Nzl) 69-72-67, Masamichi Ito (Jpn) 70-70-68; 209: Ryan Fox (Nzl) 69-70-70, Kenneth de Silva (Mas) 67-69-73; 210: Yosuke Asaji (Jpn) 69-74-67; 211: Matthew Stieger (Aus) 70-72-69.

Selected Malaysians: 213: Low Khai Jei 73-69-71; 223: Paul San 76-74-73.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore try to tweet away split rumors

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 12:19 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): Can Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore save their marriage - or at least stave off divorce rumors - through the power or Twitter?

Hollywood's most intriguing May-December power couple have been ground up in the gossip mill in recent days, with rumors that their marriage is on the rocks. And now the pair of dedicated tweeters are addressing the scuttlebutt - although cryptically so - on their Twitter accounts, which combined boast nearly 12 million followers.

The most recent buzzing about discord in the couple's marriage began last Friday, on the eve of the couple's sixth wedding anniversary, when the pair were spotted on separate coasts. Moore was in New York promoting her Lifetime movie ''Five.''

Kutcher, meanwhile, was seen partying with his former ''That '70s Show'' co-star Danny Masterson at San Diego, Calif., nightclub The Fluxx - after which, according to the current buzz, he spent the night with hitherto-anonymous San Diego blonde Sara Leal.

From there, the rumors - as they tend to do - blossomed. As of Friday, according to esteemed celebrity journalist Perez Hilton, there might have been multiple women holed up in Kutcher's hotel room - though, apparently, the other women waited in a separate area while he and Leal commingled. (Memo to Ashton: If that is, indeed, the way it went down, you're doing it wrong.)

While neither Kutcher nor Moore have dignified the affair rumors with a direct response, they do appear to have obliquely addressed the issue via Twitter, which appears to be their favored method of communicating with their fans.

On Thursday, Kutcher made sly reference to the brouhaha, tweeting a link to Spotify to indicate that he was currently listening to the Public Enemy chestnut ''Don't Believe the Hype.''

He followed up with a variation on another chestnut, writing ''When you ASSUMME to know that which you know nothing of you make an ASS out of U and ME.''

Meanwhile, Moore offered her own puzzler Monday, posting a photo of herself with her eyes closed with the caption, ''I see through you.''

Though some reports have interpreted Moore's Twit-pic as a message to her 33-year-old husband, it's equally likely that she's broadcasting to the tabloid media that their methods and tactics are transparent, even with her eyes closed.

Or she could just be making a goofy joke unrelated to the affair rumors at all.

Leal's intentions seem to be a little more clear, at least if the New York Post is to be believed. According to the Post, Leal has met with Beverly Hills attorney Keith Davidson - who brokered a settlement between Lindsay Lohan and former Betty Ford worker Dawn Holland - and is shopping the story of her alleged fling with Kutcher.

The Post's source tells the paper, ''Sara is talking to multiple media outlets for a deal.

She wants $250,000, but the offers haven't been as high. What she really wants is to get a payoff from Ashton. She has reached out to Ashton's team.''

We can only hope that Kutcher renders his response via Twitter.

Kurt Russell poised to replace Kevin Costner in 'Django'

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 12:18 AM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters): Quentin Tarantino may have already lined up another grizzled veteran - Kurt Russell - to fill the slot vacated by Kevin Costner in ''Django Unchained,'' TheWrap has learned.

The Weinstein Co., which is distributing the film domestically, confirmed that Russell is in talks to play Ace Woody, the villain. Costner vacated the role because of an apparent scheduling conflict.

''Django,'' set in the 19th century West, stars Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. Russell would take over as a henchman for DiCaprio's character, Calvin Candie, who owns a plantation where slaves are forced to battle to the death.

Waltz plays a bounty hunter who buys and then frees a slave, played by Foxx. Once a friendship blossoms, Waltz's character then helps Django try to rescue his wife.

Russell and Tarantino have worked together before, on 2007's ''Death Proof,'' in which he played an over-the-hill Hollywood stunt double named ''Stuntman'' Mike.

Sony is distributing the film internationally.


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DPM: Make Rela a well-trained, professional outfit

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 04:56 AM PDT

MUAR: Rela (Peace Volunteer Corp) can be changed from a voluntary unit to a well-trained, professional team to attract more members, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Besides, he said, the Home Ministry should equip the corps with suitable equipment to help achieve the national key result areas especially in reducing crime rates.

"They also have to lure new members from the professional group to join the corps and implement a training programme that meets the international volunteer standard," he said at a Rela gathering here.

Muhyiddin said although Rela was introduced to replace the Home Guard, which was abolished in 1973, the main function of the non-governmental organisation was still to defend the sovereignty of the country.

Veteran crooner Ahmad Jais out of coma

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 04:44 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: Veteran 60s singer Datuk Mohd Jais Ahmad, who lapsed into a coma last week, has regained consciousness at Darul Ehsan Medical Centre.

However, the 75-year-old crooner, better known as Ahmad Jais, has limited speech.

When contacted, a daughter, Maimun, said his breathing tube was removed and replaced with a breathing mask.

She said her father had requested a nurse to place a 'Thank you, I love you all' note on the hospital notice board to express his appreciation to the staff and well-wishers.

"The doctor has advised that my father remain in the ICU for further observation," the 31-year-old said.

IGP: Others using peaceful Malaysia as example

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 03:35 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Omar Ismail says he has been invited overseas to talk about how peaceful Malaysia is.

"The peaceful situation in the country is still being preserved. Other countries are using Malaysia as an example.

"I have also been invited abroad to talk about the peace in Malaysia," he told reporters at the police Open Day Saturday.

As such, he said, there was no basis for anyone to link Johor as a crime-ridden state with high incidences of kidnapping.

He was commenting on Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's claims linking Johor with the high crime rate.

"The drop in crime rates in Johor, Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan is firstly due to police presence and secondly because of the involvement of the public in crime prevention," he added.

On crime prevention approach through Facebook and Twitter, Ismail said it allowed the police to share and disseminate information directly to the public. BERNAMA

Related Stories:
Penang CM apologises to Johor Ruler but maintains his innocence
Lim went overboard with remarks, says Najib


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Metro watch

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 05:53 AM PDT


Fairview International School, Kuala Lumpur, is having a career fair on Monday in the Wangsa Maju campus. Major international universities will be represented at this fair which will take place from noon to 3.30pm. Linden Education Services will present career talks and conduct counselling sessions for interested candidates. The talks will cover various disciplines of study ranging from medical degrees to the arts, IT and hospitality. You will also be able to take advantage of the scholarship awards. Parents and secondary school students are invited to attend and meet the university representatives in person. For further details, contact 03-4142 0888 or or visit


Astro is hosting the "World of B.yond IPTV" themed event today and tomorrow at the recently launched Astro B.yond IPTV Concept Store in Solaris Mont Kiara. The Xbox game competition will be held at 11.30am, 2.30pm and 4.30pm. For the lucky draw, winners will receive a free Astro IPTV subscriptions for six months. To know more, call 03-6411 0581.


Sk St. John 2, Bukit Nanas is organising a 1Malaysia Carnival today at the school field from 8am to 4pm. Money collected from coupons will go to its building fund. The coupons can be bought at the carnival. There will be outdoor games, lucky draws and stalls. For details, call 03-2078 1849.


Malaysia's renowned songstress Fish Leong recently signed up as brand ambassador for Pure Beauty, a private label, marketed by Watsons. She will be making her first public appearance as Pure Beauty Brand Ambassador today at Sunway Pyramid (2.30pm – 3.30pm) and Jusco Cheras Selatan (5.30pm-6.30pm). For details, contact Sarah Kow at 03-2143 2386.


Sunway Pyramid's representatives are giving out jigsaw photo frames to thank shoppers during the International Customer Service Week (Oct 3-8). For details, call Sunway Pyramid at 03-7494 3100 or log on to


Michigan State University will be holding a buffet dinner cum meeting at the Royal Lake Club, Taman Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur, on Oct 7 at 7.30pm. Those interested can contact David at 012-287 8020 or Bakar at 012-232 5670.


The Ramakrishna Mission Malaysia will hold a personality development programme for students aged from 12 to 15 tomorrow from 8am to 1.30pm at Lot 36, Jalan 10/7 Petaling Jaya. For details, call 012-208 6354 (V. Kumar).

Selangor confident of turning the tables on Singapore, says Maniam

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 05:53 AM PDT

THERE will be songs, fireworks, parachute display and more entertaintment at the annual encounter between Selangor Selection and the S-League Selection at the Sultan of Selangor's Cup football competition at the Shah Alam Stadium tonight.

The organising committee, headed by Datuk Abdul Karim Munisar, lined up some exciting events to make the night a memorable one for the 70,000 fans expected for the match.

Abdul Karim said this year's competition was the 10th in the series.

"It also co-incides with the coronation of the Sultan of Selangor. We want the fans to have a good time,'' said Abdul Karim.

Popular local artiste Amy Search will entertain the fans with his hit songs. The night will kick off with the annual match between the Selangor veterans and their Singapore counterparts.

Selangor, coached by Mohd Shah Norbit, have named a strong line-up including K. Gunalan, Dollah Salleh, Zainal Abidin Hassan, Khan Hung Meng, Shahrin Majid, Yap Kam Choon and P. Dharmalingam.

Singapore have Malek Awab, D. Tokijan, Razali Saad, Yahya Madon and Shahri Rahim.

Former international Khalid Ali, who had played in all the encounters, except in 2004 and 2006, said he was keen to meet in old friends from Singapore.

But the fans will be looking forward to the match between Selangor Selection and S-League Selection.

Selangor coach P. Maniam said they would be out to give a good fight to the Lions.

"Singapore won last year with a 6-0 margin. But our players are all fired up as a win will boost their confidence for the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals,'' said Maniam.

Two former English Premier League (EPL) players — Jesper Blomqvist and Jason McAteer — will give Maniam additional power upfront. Maniam will also rely on international Mohd Safee Sali and Mohd Amri Yahyah to get the goals.

Sultan of Selangor's Cup


Venue: Shah Alam Stadium


5pm: Entertainment by Amy Search

8pm: Selangor veterans vs Singapore veterans

9pm: Selangor selection vs S-League selection

Tickets: RM10

Available at: Quality Hotel, Shah Alam; Quality Hotel City Centre Kuala Lumpur; Concorde Shah Alam; Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur. Shah Alam Stadium

Enquiries: 03-5510-3999 ext 229


The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Elton John brings "million dollar piano" to Vegas

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 05:34 PM PDT

LAS VEGAS (Reuters): Singer Elton John opened his new Las Vegas act at Caesars Palace on Wednesday, tickling the ivories on his new "million dollar piano" nicknamed Blossom that lit up to reflect the mood of each song.

"The Million Dollar Piano" show marks the beginning John's three-year residency at Caesar's theater, The Colosseum, and Wednesday's performance was the first of 16 shows scheduled through October.

A second series begins in February.


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Metro Watch

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 03:38 PM PDT

Cakes galore

Satisfy your cravings for gourmet coffee, homemade recipe of fresh breads, designer cakes and pastries at Hotel Equatorial Melaka's ETC coffee corner. Opens from 7am to 11pm from Sunday to Thursday and 7am to 1am on Friday, Saturday and public holiday eve. For details, call 06-282 8333 ext 3133.


Steamboat lovers are welcome to Manja Coffee House at Hotel Grand Continental Kuantan for this month's promotion 'Steamboat Pantai Timur. Priced at RM29nett per adult (min two persons). The promo is available from 11am-2.30pm and 6.30pm-10pm. For reservations, call 09-515 8888.


The Hou Mei Noodle House (Level 2 of First World Plaza in Genting) brings Sze-Chuan Noodles (RM15++) to spiceup your taste buds from 11am-11pm. For reservations, call 603-6101 1118. (


First World Cafe (Level 3 of First World Plaza, Genting) offers a buffet spread for the month featuring a wide variety of street food such as Fried oh chien, cuttlefish served with kangkong, prawn mee, different types of satay, chicken kebab, roti john, roti hot dog, steamed coconut rice and waffle ice cream. Buffet lunch from noon to 2.30pm is priced RM41++ (adult) and RM20.50++ (child) while buffet dinner (5.30pm-9.30pm) is priced RM48++ (adult) and RM24++ (child). For reservations, call 603-6101 1118. (

Ballroom dance class

A beginner's ballroom dancing class for cancer survivors, family, friends and caretakers is held every Thursday from 11am-noon at a monthly fee of RM10 at Malacca Cancer Society's Oasis centre. Conversational Mandarin class is held every Tuesday from noon to 3pm at a monthly fee of RM20. For details, call 06- 283 0988 (Oasis), 012-399 7176 (Koh) or 012-323 9300 (Chua).

Museum closure

The people's museum, museum of Enduring Beauty, kites museum and 3D Gallery in the Peoples Museum Complex along Jalan Kota are temporarily closed for upgrade works of its exhibition facilities until further notice. For further information, contact Malacca Museum Corporations at 06-282 6526 or 281 4226.

Yoga class

A yoga class for cancer survivors, family, friends and caretakers is held every Monday from 10am to 11am at a monthly fee of RM5 at Malacca Cancer Societys Oasis centre. Participants need to bring their own yoga mat. For details, call Oasis at 06- 283 0988.


Art lovers can go to the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art exhibition until Oct 15 at Johor Baru Danga City Mall exhibition hall at level four from 10am until 10pm. For details, call 07-221-5008.


Looking for the right time to purchase jewelleries? Visit the SK Jewellery promotion from now until Oct 13. The public can visit the jewelleries promotion from 10am until 10pm at Johor Baru City Square. For details, call 07-226 3668.

Change of number

The Muar Inland Revenue Department at Sungai Abong here has changed its telephone number from 06-9527000 to 06-9563100.

Handicraft's lure

Looking for unique and beautifully carved wooden and traditional batek and ceramic products for souvenirs or home decoration? Check out the Pahang Handicraft Corporation complex at Kampung Pandan II, Kuantan-Terengganu bypass. Opens from Monday to Friday, 8am-5pm. For details, call 09-538 5677.

Zero waste zone

Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK) had launched the Zero Waste Zone 2011 and it is MPK's aspiration to ensure that Kuantan Town Centre becomes a zero waste zone from Jalan Tanah Putih in front of Giant Hypermarket to Teluk Cempedak. For details, call 09-5121 555/666 or log on to their website at


Those wishing to learn sign language can attend classes organised by Johor Deaf Association at 64-01 Susur Larkin Perdana 2, Larkin perdana Johor Baru. For details, call 07 2320464.

Cancer counselling

Mahkota Medical Centre will be providing comprehensive cancer counselling services for free to the public, in collaboration with Malacca Cancer Society, every Friday from 4-6pm at No.76, Jalan Taman Melaka Raya 25, Taman Melaka Raya, Malacca. For details, call 06-285 2931 (Dr Sanjeev), 06-285 2975 (Dr Jayendran) or 06-285 0988 (Michaelina/Koh).

Volunteers needed

National Stroke Association of Malaysia (Nasam) Kuantan branch is looking for volunteers to help rehabilitate stroke victims. Nasam, a non-profit organisation, will provide training. For details, call 09-566 8195 or 019-951 0012 (Chua).

UTM bag volleyball honours

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 03:38 PM PDT

Malacca: University Teknologi MARA (UTM) upstaged favourites Royal Malay Regiment Senawang Camp (RMRSC) to capture top honours in the inaugural Malacca Central District Volley-ball Association inaugural Invita-tional Volleyball Championships held at the Notre Dame School Indoor Hall in Gajah Berang.

In a pulsating and thrilling final lasting 53 minutes, UTM stormed to a hard earned and deserving 25-11;14-25 and 25-12 victory over the army outfit to lift the association's challenge trophy and medals as well as the RM1000/= cash prize.

Assisted by two national junior players - setter Rafi Ubdin Latiff and open striker Tan Qi Siang - UTM's change of pace and overall game strategy paid dividends particularly in the deciding game to overcome the superbly fit army side which had to settle for RM800/- as runner-up.

In the third placing mach Future Best Team (FBT) registered a 25-15;25-16 win over Jasin Volleyball Club (JVC) to return home with RM500/-. JVC had to be content with RM300/-.

The inaugural affair initially attracted sixteen teams but the local organisers had to settle for the first ten entries due to the pre-arranged venue facilities and tourney duration time frame.

Association secretary Haji Abdul Razak Abdul Rahman disclosed at the prize presentation ceremony, that the 2012 edition will feature sixteen teams and a women's division would also be introduced.

"We will be making arrangements to use two other venues close to the Notre Dame School two-court indoor hall to cater for a sixteen-tean men's competition and a women's event featuring eight teams, over a single weekend date complete with a substantial increase in prize money" he added.

In the just concluded tourney, the ten competing teams were divided into two groups with the top two finishers moving into the knockout semifinal stage. Group A comprised Future Best Team (FBT), Malacca Central District Police (MCPD), Merlimau Politeknik (MP), Melaka Teknikal Universiti (MTU) and Jasin Volleyball Club (JVC).

Teams in Group B included Electrical, Mechanical & Engineering Corp of Terendak Camp (EMEC), Armada Putra Volleyball Club ( APVC), Royal Malay Regiment Senawang Camp (RMRSC) and Kluang Prisons Department (KPD).

In the preliminary league run-up, FBT topped Group A with four wins in as many matches. They beat MCPD 2-0, JVC 2-1, MP 2-0 and MTU 2-0. JVC came out second best securing 2-0 victories over MP, MCDP and MTU.

UTM headed Group B standings with four outright wins including a hard fought 2-1 victory over RMRSC, then dubbed as a sneak preview of their expected tussle in the final later.

In other matches, UTM notched easy 2-0 wins over KPD, APVC and EMEC, while it was a similar story of wins over respective opponents for the powerful spiking RMRSC outfit. In the semifinals, Group A winner FBT went down 18-25;12-25 to Group B runner-up RMRSC while Group B winner UTM posted a comprehensive 25-12;25-16 win over Group A runner-up JVC.

Tan sisters bring Terengganu food to Puchong

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 03:38 PM PDT

TWO female executives settled into a corner table upon entering Restoran Mek T and waited expectantly for a waiter to attend to them — until they realised that the restaurant operates on a fast-food concept.

Mek T, which stands for Miss T(erengganu), is a place that specialises in Terengganu delicacies, ranging from main courses like nasi dagang to snacks and desserts like keropok lekor.

"The fast food service format allows us to provide quick meals to customers, whether for dine-in or takeaway," said Tan Lili, who along with her sister Celia run the restaurant.

"Using disposable containers is also more hygienic and clean, though we can serve the food on plates upon request."

Lili assured that the food, featuring authentic Terengganu dishes using recipes that have been refined by Celia, are cooked fresh daily in the kitchen.

"Celia spent years learning how to cook these delicacies from the locals themselves.

"The restaurant was established out of our passion to share our hometown's cuisine with the Klang Valley crowd.

"Many, including friends and family who are familiar with the east coast cuisine, come here to enjoy food they grew up with."

Lili said most ingredients like spices and keropok lekor are brought in from Terengganu, while the chefs are Kelantanese.

Nasi Dagang Mek is a favourite among those familiar with this east coast staple, while locals prefer Nasi Sedapp Sokmo (literal translation: Always Delicious Rice) for its value for money.

Nasi Dagang features a mix of long grain and glutinous rice flavoured with coconut milk, and is served with tuna curry and light vegetable pickle (gulai ikan aiya dan acar timun).

"We use premium Basmati parboiled rice for Nasi Sedapp Sokmo, which is almost like nasi briyani. It is served with two pieces of chicken curry and tangy pineapple sambal (gulai ayam dan sambal nanas)," said Lili.

Other favourites at the restaurant are Laksam and Laksa.

"The difference between the two is that Laksam uses thick cut noodle (similar to chee cheong fun), while the Laksa looks more like spaghetti," said Lili.

"Laksam is served with a rich gravy of pureed fish in light coconut milk, while Laksa has a spiced gravy of pureed fish similar to curry but with a sour taste. Both are topped with fresh herbs and ulam."

There are also the Bihun Mee Mek topped with keropok lekor and special sauce, and Nasi Ulam Mek — a traditional village meal of rice eaten all mixed up with its grilled fish flakes, fresh local herbs, fried chicken gulai and sambal toppings.

Those who crave some traditional Terengganu kuih and snacks will be spoilt for choice with Restoran Mek T's colourful array of treats like Mek Lekor, Kar Pek Hu Sah, Pulut Lepa, Bingka, Sekaya Pulut, Pulut Cawan, Bantern and Lompat Tikam.

"The types of desserts that are available vary daily as some are labour intensive to produce. Even these are made by Celia," said Lili.

"We accepts orders for functions. However, we require at least a day or two notice in advance for special requests."

Some of the menu items include Tom Yam Bihun, Nasi Goreng Belacan, Nasi Goreng Budu ala Terengganu, Terengganu Lam Mee, and Mee Hailam Terengganu Style.

The restaurant also offers set meals with prices ranging from RM4.90 to RM14.90 for a main meal, dessert of the day (for selected sets) and cold drink. Lili highlighted that Restoran Mek T has been certified halal since it opened in April this year. The Tan sisters are exploring the option of franchising the restaurant in the future.

n RESTORAN MEK T, 127, Jalan Kenari 23A, Bandar Puchong Jaya, Puchong, Selangor. Tel: 03-8071 5707. Website: Business hours: Tues-Sun, 11am-9pm; Public holidays, 10am-9pm (closed on Mondays). Halal.

This is the writer's personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.


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