Isnin, 17 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

China police fire on Tibetans, nun burns to death -group

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 09:02 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police shot and injured two Tibetan protesters in southwestern China last Sunday, and a Tibetan nun burned herself to death the following day, a group advocating self-determination for Tibet said, the latest in months of protests.

The self-immolation and the protests signal that anger is swelling in Aba county, a mainly ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province that has been the centre of defiance against Chinese control.

Rights groups say the unrest could provoke Beijing to stage a renewed crackdown in Aba, which erupted in violence in March 2008 when Buddhist monks and other Tibetan people loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama, their traditional religious leader, confronted police and troops.

The condition and whereabouts of the two casualties, Dawa and Druklo, are unknown, the London-based Free Tibet group said.

Elsewhere in Sichuan, a 20-year-old nun, Tenzin Wangmo, set fire to herself on Monday afternoon outside a nunnery, three km (1.8 miles) from Aba county, the ninth self-immolation this year in the Tibetan parts of China, Free Tibet said.

She had called for religious freedom in Tibet and for the return of the Dalai Lama as she set herself alight, the group said.

Her death comes seven months after a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Phuntsog, 21, from the restive Kirti monastery, burned himself to death. That prompted a crackdown, with security forces detaining about 300 Tibetan monks for a month.

A Sichuan government propaganda official surnamed Yuan told Reuters that she knew "nothing about the two cases so far".

Free Tibet said that it was not known why security personnel opened fire on Dawa and Druklo, adding that one was shot in the leg and the other, in the torso. It did not specify who suffered what injury.

"Information from Tibet suggests there are more who are willing to give their lives, determined to draw global attention to the persistent and brutal violations Tibetans suffer under Chinese occupation," Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said in a statement sent late on Monday.

"The acts of self-immolation are not taking place in isolation, protests have been reported in the surrounding region and calls for wider protests are growing."

Brigden said that the group has "grave concerns that greater force may be deployed if protests spread".

Nine ethnic Tibetans, eight of them from Aba prefecture, have burned themselves since March to protest against religious controls by the Chinese government, which labels the Dalai Lama a violent separatist, charges he strongly denies.

However, the protests have yet to spread to what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region, which Beijing has controlled since Communist troops marched in 1950. It says its rule has bought much needed development to a poor and backward region.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Additional reporting by Huang Yan, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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FACTBOX - Compensation for Fukushima crisis victims

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 08:31 PM PDT

REUTERS - Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the owner of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, last month began accepting victims' applications for compensation, but the complex procedures have for many become a source of more grief.

Here are some facts about how victims of the nuclear disaster will be compensated.

People holding necessaries including food, water, medicine and blankets wait in a line to donate it to evacuees from Futaba, a city near the quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, at the evacuees' new shelter Saitama Super Arena, near Tokyo March 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak/Files)


To receive compensation over the nuclear disaster, victims can apply to Tepco directly or seek mediation by a third-party group.

They can sue the utility, though there have been only a handful of cases so far.

It is now accepting compensation application forms from evacuees and businesses for the five months to end-August.

After this, Tepco plans to accept claims at an interval of every three months. It is unclear until when this will last.

Nuclear compensation claims against it for the year to next March are likely to be about 3.6 trillion yen ($46.5 billion) according to a government panel calculation. Some analysts estimate payments could be as high as $130 billion.

The troubled utility is seeking help from a taxpayer-funded bailout body to foot the cost. It must submit a business restructuring plan and win government approval by the end of this month in order to recieve funds from this body.


Those forced to evacuate are eligible for compensation covering lost income, psychological suffering and costs for transportation and lodging. It is unclear whether and how individuals who left voluntarily would be compensated.

In the case of those forced to flee, individuals would be paid 5,000 yen per person for transportation within the same prefecture. They would receive up to 8,000 yen per day for hotel expenses and 5,000 yen to cover decontamination efforts to deal with radiation exposure.

A typical family of four where the husband was the sole breadwinner making 270,000 yen a month would be paid about 4.5 million yen, including 2.8 million yen for psychological suffering, Tepco said.

Property damage and other claims that will take longer to assess will be dealt with at a later date, which some experts say is problematic as this is often the biggest asset for individuals.

Prior to the first round of compensation, the utility has handed out about 52 billion yen in temporary payments to 56,400 households and an additional 43 billion to individuals for fees they had paid to be evacuated.

It sent out application forms to some 80,000 individuals but have only received 7,100 requests for compensation as of Oct.7.


Businesses can be compensated for lost profits and any additional costs occuring from the nuclear disaster. Such businesses include stores, staffing services, forestries, manufacturers and tourism businesses.

Most businesses will be compensated for lost profits, which will be calculated by comparing the profits for the five months after the nuclear accident to end-August and what they have made in the same period in the recent years.

Businesses will also be reimbursed for extra costs related to the disaster such as radiation tests.

Damage to property and other assets will be dealt with later.

Tepco has paid about 8.2 billion yen to small and mid-sized companies as temporary compensation.

The utility sent out about 10,000 application forms to businesses in and near Fukushima. Only 300 have been returned so far. Because of the extent of the impact of the disaster across Japan, about 300,000 businesses are expected to make claims.


Farmers and fishermen will be compensated for lost profits and any additional fees they had to pay.

For those who were operating within 30 kilometres from the plant, where people were forced to or advised to evacuate, representative groups are negotiating with Tepco on compensation.

Tepco has paid about 21.8 billion yen to farmers and

3.6 billion yen to fishermen in temporary compensation. ($1 = 77.365 Japanese Yen)

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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U.S., North Korea in Bangkok for talks on war remains

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 08:31 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and North Korean officials hold talks in Thailand on Tuesday on resuming recovery of the remains of American soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The talks in Bangkok come amid a renewed push to revive negotiations with regional powers on disabling secretive North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. delegation will be headed by Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Newberry and include officials from the State Department and Pentagon agencies responsible missing personnel, the Pentagon said on Monday.

"Accounting for Americans missing in action is a stand-alone humanitarian matter, not tied to any other issue between the two countries," said the statement.

The Bangkok meeting had only remains on the agenda, it said. But there is growing speculation U.S. President Barack Obama, approaching the final year of his current four-year term, may initiate talks with North Korea on curbing its nuclear ambitions.

The decision to hold talks on resuming recovery of the remains of American soldiers from the Korean War could be a hint at U.S. willingness to engage.

Other signals may include whether the United States offers North Korea food aid -- a decision U.S. officials say is not affected by political factors -- and whether U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth may hold a new round of talks with North Korea.

In July, Bosworth held two days of talks with a veteran North Korean nuclear negotiator, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, in New York -- their first such contact since 2009.

More than 7,900 U.S. soldiers are listed as missing from the Korean War, with some 5,500 estimated to be buried in the reclusive North. Joint recovery efforts were halted in May 2005 over concerns about the uncertain environment created by North Korea's nuclear programs.

The North has long sought to sign a peace treaty with Washington to formally end decades of enmity since the war, which ended in a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.

(Reporting by Paul Eckert and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

U.S. not "trying that hard" on exports: GE's Immelt

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 05:59 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States is not trying hard enough as a nation to win business overseas, and that is contributing to its economic slump, said General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.

That is a big concern since boosting exports is one of the best ways the nation can tackle the stubbornly high unemployment that is leading a growing number of Americans to question how well the economic system is working.

"We're not trying that hard," Immelt told a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event in New York on Monday. "We haven't really tried as hard as we can to compete, educate and sell our products around the world, and I think we can do better."

Still, the head of the largest U.S. conglomerate and a top adviser to the Obama administration on jobs and the economy believes the United States can improve. He noted that GE expects to generate 60 percent of its sales outside its home country this year.

He held out Germany -- home to one of GE's biggest rivals, Siemens AG -- as an example of a wealthy country that has been successful in pushing exports.

"Chancellor (Angela) Merkel flies from Berlin to Beijing, there's 25 German CEOs that go on the plane right behind her. And they connect the dots. They play hard, they play to win," Immelt said.

President Barack Obama, he added, "has been out driving and pushing to try to double exports in the next five years. I think we can compete very well. But we're not all-in the same way that the Germans are all-in."

The nation's economic malaise, now in its third year, has left many Americans angry and frustrated, Immelt said, and people in power need to empathize.

"Unemployment is 9.1 percent. Underemployment is much higher than that, particularly among young people that don't have a college degree," Immelt said. "It is natural to assume that people are angry, and I think we have to be empathetic and understand that people are not feeling great."

A large and diverse group of protesters, who complain that the U.S. economic system is no longer working to the benefit of a large slice of the nation's population, has been a visible presence on Wall Street for a month now. The movement, known as "Occupy Wall Street," has spread around the country.

The protesters complain that the billions of dollars the U.S. government spent during the recession to prop up financial companies, including GE, have allowed banks to earn large profits without benefiting average Americans.


The head of the world's largest maker of jet engines and electric turbines said he regarded stronger growth as the only real answer to the rising disillusionment.

"The only way to solve this specific problem is growth," Immelt said. "If unemployment comes down, people will feel better. If unemployment goes up, people will feel worse, no matter what goes on Wall Street."

Immelt said the gap between the pay of CEOs and average Americans is adding to tensions.

"The discrepancy is certainly one of the problems today in terms of why people feel the system is unfair," Immelt said.

But he said that lowering CEO pay would do little to lower unemployment. Immelt received compensation worth $21.4 million last year, including a $4 million bonus that was his first since 2007.

"If CEO pay goes way down and unemployment is 12 percent, people are still going to feel bad," he said. "It is a symptom but it is not the problem."

Immelt is confident that U.S. business can compete with rivals in emerging markets such as China and also profit in developing markets. He cited Russia as a major focus over the next decade and said GE is also investing in resource-rich African countries including Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa.

GE expects to generate more than 60 percent of its revenue outside the United States this year. Analysts, on average, expect it to record revenue of $148.13 billion.


Concerns that Greece could default on its debt and threaten the European and U.S. financial systems have rattled the world economy in recent weeks, pushing down stocks and prompting big banks including Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co to begin laying off staffers.

"The most likely case is that Europe has slow growth for a long period of time," Immelt said. "The process is going to have to be solved inside of Europe."

Last week, the White House advisory panel Immelt heads submitted a report to the Obama administration saying that attracting more foreign capital, being more aggressive in energy policy, and investing in infrastructure could help create jobs in an economy struggling with high unemployment.

Immelt, a lifelong Republican, has drawn fire from some GE shareholders for his work with the Democratic Obama administration. The CEO defended his role, saying GE executives have long had a voice in Washington.

"People need to try," he said. "I'd rather be in the arena trying than not doing what I can to help."

Partisanship in Washington is hurting the nation's economy by slowing efforts to reform the system, Immelt said, adding that he worried that anti-Wall Street rhetoric hurts people other than those it is aimed at.

"If your first comment is Wall Street is horrible and you're in a position of leadership, you don't hurt Wall Street," Immelt said. "But there is some guy in Illinois that's not going to build a factory today because he thinks the financial system is horrible. That's my point. This is a time when leaders, people like me, should be trying to do things that are more convergent, because ultimately words count."

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Citi posts higher earnings but warns on growth

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 05:57 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc reported higher quarterly earnings, helped by an accounting gain, but warned that developed markets could face weak growth for years, and the bank's shares fell.

The results were better than expected, but the bank's shares shrugged off early strength and ended the day lower amid broader concerns about the industry's future profitability. Wells Fargo & Co posted a steep drop in lending margins on Monday.

"When you look at the (accounting gain) and the loan loss reserve releases, those stick out like sore thumbs," said Matt McCormick, portfolio manager with Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel. "Investors are saying they like banks to beat expectations, just they don't like how Citi did it."

Like its rivals, Citigroup was hit by the European debt crisis and the sluggish U.S. economy. Investment banking fees dropped and its loan book fell 2 percent. Operating expenses rose, in part because of investments made to boost its business.

Chief Executive Vikram Pandit is trying to turn the bank around after the financial crisis by focusing on emerging markets, where economies are still growing relatively quickly. The weak U.S. economy also weighed on results at JPMorgan Chase & Co last week.

"In the developed markets, growth is likely to be slow for years," Pandit said in a conference call with analysts.

He also said the U.S. housing market remains the "greatest risk" that domestic banks face.

Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said the bank's net interest margin is expected to decline by a few hundredths of a percentage point every quarter for the next few quarters, if the bank does not make a significant portfolio sale.

Growth in the developed markets is weak, but the emerging markets, which have fueled much of Citigroup's profit gains in recent quarters, showed early signs of sputtering. For example, retail loan volume in Latin America dropped 7 percent in the third quarter from the second quarter.

Citigroup, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, reported net income of $3.77 billion, or $1.23 per share, up from $2.17 billion or 72 cents per share a year earlier.

The latest results included a pretax gain of $1.9 billion, or 39 cents per share after taxes, due to the bank's widening credit spreads during the quarter. When a bank's debt weakens relative to U.S. Treasuries, it can record an accounting gain because it could theoretically profit from buying back debt.

Excluding that gain, Citi earned $2.6 billion, or 84 cents per share.

Analysts' average forecast was 81 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

After rising by as much as 3.8 percent in the morning, Citi shares changed course and ended 1.7 percent lower on the day at $27.93.

The bank's share price has fallen about 40 percent this year, in line with declines for other large banks.


Citi, which received three U.S. government rescues at the height of the financial crisis, is seeing its problem loan portfolio shrink.

Nonaccrual loans fell to $7.95 billion in the third quarter from $12.46 billion a year earlier.

As part of the improving credit picture, Citi also announced plans to move its retail partner card business from Citi Holdings, the unit where the bank keeps assets and operations it is shedding, into Citicorp, where it houses its main continuing businesses.

Citigroup had been looking to sell the unit -- which includes $42 billion in credit card loans -- after forming Citi Holdings in 2009.

But CFO Gerspach said the business now makes sense with Citigroup's on-going business, as the portfolio is now "markedly different" than in 2008 and 2009 at the height of the financial crisis.

"We figured out how retail partner cards fit the broader payment strategy" for U.S. consumer, Gerspach said. The bank has no plans to take its OneMain Financial business into its Citicorp unit, he added, because it is not as good a strategic fit.

OneMain makes consumer loans, typically to less-wealthy borrowers, while Citigroup is focusing its retail businesses on higher-income consumers globally.

A tough dealmaking market may also be contributing to the card unit's move.

Gerspach said the current market environment is "a bit daunting" for selling large loan portfolios.


Like JPMorgan, Citigroup's investment banking business was hurt when European market turmoil made companies reluctant to buy competitors or issue securities.

Revenue at Citi's continuing securities and banking business fell 12 percent excluding the debt value adjustment, to $4.84 billion.

Overall operating expenses rose 8 percent from a year earlier. Operating expenses were $12.46 billion and have been hovering around that level since the fourth quarter of 2010. From the beginning of 2009 through the third quarter of 2010, quarterly operating expenses were typically closer to $11.9 billion.

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Industrial output up, NY manufacturing contracts

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 05:55 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Industrial production rose in September and a gauge of manufacturing in New York State hinted at stabilization in October, suggesting the factory sector will keep supporting the economic recovery.

Industrial production rose 0.2 percent last month, in line with expectations, as a gain in manufacturing offset a drop in utility output, a Federal Reserve report showed. August's reading was downwardly revised to show flat output.

Manufacturing production rose 0.4 percent, with consumer durables rising 0.9 percent as production rose for automotive products and home electronics.

"Despite signs of a slowdown in global economic growth, U.S. manufacturing output is still expanding at a solid pace," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

"The third quarter turned out to be a lot better than some feared, and the economy has a little momentum going into the fourth."

The New York Fed's "Empire State" index provided a more mixed picture. The general business conditions index contracted for a fifth month in a row, though the pace moderated slightly and new orders improved.

The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions.


While the pace of growth in manufacturing has slowed in recent months -- and in some regions contracted -- last month's broader national report pointed to a sector that will continue to boost the recovery.

"A lot of people have been fearful that we're running into a new recession, and the data don't really show that here," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Financial markets were little moved by the data as investors focused on the sovereign debt situation in the euro zone.

The Empire State's business conditions index was up slightly in October at minus 8.48 from minus 8.82. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of minus 4.0.

New orders rose to 0.16 from minus 8.0.

Employment gauges were mixed as the index for the number of employees rose to 3.37 from minus 5.43, but the average employee workweek index fell to minus 4.49 from minus 2.17.

Even so, the outlook for the coming months worsened, with the index of business conditions six months ahead dropping to its lowest level since February 2009 to 6.74 from 13.04 last month.

Graphic - U.S. industrial output, capacity utilization:

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Hafiz hopes for a picture-perfect ending in SEA Games

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 05:52 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: National cyclist Hafiz Sufian will stick a photo of his beloved wife Najah Raihan Fouzi on the handle of his bicycle when he goes out on the track in search of glory at the Indonesia SEA Games next month.

It is as much a poignant reminder of his love for his pregnant wife as well as his concern for her well-being.

His wife is expected to give birth to their first child in January and Hafiz is keeping his fingers crossed that all will be fine until he returns from the SEA Games campaign in Jakarta.

Hafiz was given a scare when his wife was admitted to hospital for a check-up recently but his mind is now focused on doing the best he can.

* Full report in The Star today

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Button and Hamilton pay tribute to Wheldon

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 05:49 PM PDT

LONDON: Formula One champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have paid tribute to fellow British race car driver Dan Wheldon (pic) after the IndyCar driver was killed in a massive crash in Las Vegas.

Button, who raced against Wheldon in karting in the 1990s, tweeted yesterday that his compatriot was a "true fighter" and a "legend in our sport but also a great guy."

Hamilton, Button's team-mate at McLaren, says Wheldon was "a racer I'd followed throughout my career as I often followed in his footsteps as we climbed the motor sport ladder in the UK. He was an extremely talented driver."

Hamilton says he took inspiration from "a British guy who not only went over to the States but who twice won the Indy 500."

Hamilton finished second in Sunday's Korean Grand Prix, with Button fourth. — AP

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Hurray for Murray

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 05:48 PM PDT

SHANGHAI: Andy Murray's win at the Shanghai Masters confirms he is the man of the moment and marks a potentially decisive watershed as he overtakes Roger Federer in the rankings for the first time.

Victory in China over Spain's David Ferrer on Sunday was the third consecutive title triumph for the 24-year-old Scot after wins in Bangkok and Tokyo and he is on a 15-match winning streak after his triumphant Asian swing.

As of yesterday, Britain's Murray will have just Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal ahead of him in the rankings as he targets the year-end number three slot, something he has never before achieved.

Federer, absent from Shanghai, will swap places with Murray, slipping to number four – his lowest ranking in more than eight years.

The last time the Swiss great was ranked lower than number three was way back in June 2003, the month before he won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon.

That signalled the start of a period of astonishing dominance in the sport during which he held the number one position for a record 237 consecutive weeks.

Speaking after his 7-5, 6-4 triumph in Shanghai, an upbeat Murray said his ultimate aim remained to go further than toppling Federer or finishing the year ranked third, which in any case was still not guaranteed.

"But, yeah, I mean, if you finish in front of Federer in a year, then there's not many people the last five, six, seven years that have been able to say that. So that's obviously a nice thing if I can do it," he said.

Federer's move down the rankings will give extra ammunition to those who believe the Swiss, 30, has seen his best days and is in gradual decline, with Djokovic, Nadal and Murray all still in their mid-20s.

For Federer, 2011 is his first year without a Grand Slam since 2002. He has won just one title, in Doha.

But Murray said it was too soon to write off his Swiss rival, against whom he holds an 8-6 career advantage.

"For a lot of years everything went very right for him. He's had a few tournaments this year where maybe things could have gone his way and they didn't. That's tough. But I'm sure next year he'll be competing. He's still playing great tennis," said Murray.

Murray has been as high as number two in the world, in 2009, but has never ended the year ranked higher than fourth.

But while the Briton has earned a place at tennis's top table, the glaring omission from his CV is a Grand Slam win. He has reached three finals, beaten twice by Federer and then by Djokovic at this year's Australian Open.

His three main rivals have a total of 30 Grand Slams between them. Federer is the all-time leader with 16 and Spain's Nadal has 10.

World number one Djokovic's stellar season, including wins at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, has taken the Serb's tally to four.

Murray remains confident that he will make the long-awaited breakthrough and become Britain's first men's Grand Slam singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936.

"It's been a tough year in that respect, losing to the very best players in the Grand Slams," said Murray, who reached at least the semi-finals of all four majors this year. — AFP

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The Star Online: Nation

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Pilot, assistant cheat death in emergency landing

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 08:23 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: A pilot and his assistant cheated death by making an emergency landing at a mangrove swamp in Kg Assam Jawa, Kuala Selangor near here after their aircraft developed mechanical problems.

Kuala Selangor police chief Supt Mohd Taib Ahmad said in the 3pm incident, a Socata TB-10 Tobago GT aeroplane piloted by Abdul Rais Saad, 45, and his assistant, Parvinder Pal Singh, 21, was on its way back to the Subang Airport.

The aircraft owned by ESB Aeroclub Subang was flying around the Sekinchan area when it encountered problems, he told Bernama.

The pilot managed to contact the Bukit Aman Control Centre Operations Room to inform them of his position.

Upon the emergency landing, the two managed to save themselves from the aircraft, which was buried up to the cockpit in the mangrove swamp.

"Both the victims walked about 500 metres to a prawn farm near the crash site before being assisted by farm workers," he said. Police brought them to the Tanjong Karang Hospital for examination and treatment, he said. BERNAMA

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Govt to formulate national aviation policy: Najib

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 08:16 AM PDT

SEPANG: It is timely for the government to formally put in place a National Aviation Policy, given the country's landscape and the maturity of many segments in the sector, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

The Prime Minister said it was essential that a comprehensive policy defining all the key aspects of aviation, its direction, objectives and long-term strategies be laid out for the clarity of all stakeholders as the country moved forward in a most uncertain and volatile time for this sector.

"Towards that end, the government through the Transport Ministry intends to formulate such a policy as soon as possible. I believe the ministry has initiated several consultations and discussions with various parties concerned and a policy framework will take shape in the very near future," he said.

He was at the launching of 100 Years of Aviation in Malaysia at Hangar 6, KL International Airport on Monday.

Najib said he was certain that a comprehensive National Aviation Policy would give the country an important boost "as we take the next step forward to a brighter and more defined future for Malaysian aviation."

More in The Star Tuesday

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Land grab allegation figment of the mind, says Indonesian MP

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 07:30 AM PDT

JAKARTA: The issue of Malaysia intruding into Indonesian territory has been described at best as hallucination by a member of the Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR).

Drs Ramadhan Pohan, a DPR member, made the conclusion after surveying the disputed area and seeing for himself that the border marker stones built by both Malaysia and Indonesia's militaries were intact and there was no border intrusion by Malaysia.

"There were no signs of the alleged three thousand Malaysian troops in Camar Bulan. Just trees. The politician who made the allegation must be hallucinating," he told a joint news conference with Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi here Monday to clarify the issue of the Malaysia-Indonesia border dispute at Camar Bulan and Tanjung Datu between Sarawak and West Kalimantan.

The Malaysia-Indonesia border dispute was allegedly raised by DPR deputy chief commissioner TB Hasanuddin from Parti Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDI-P).

Hasanuddin was alleged to have claimed that Malaysia had occupied illegally 1,500 hectares of land in Camar Bulan and 800 metres of beach at Tanjung Datu in West Kalimantan.

Ramadhan also showed several photographs he recorded with his mobile phone during his survey of the area. Four members of the house also joined in the visit last Friday.

"I hope politicians will disseminate news based on facts and not hearsay without conducting investigations," he added. BERNAMA

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Beastly charm

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 03:27 AM PDT

Galaxie rounds up the sexiest characters with looks to die for.

VAMPIRES, werewolves and mutants are everywhere nowadays. These once scary and loathsome critters have moved out of the shadow and into the spotlight. As they grace the pop culture landscape with shows such as The Twilight Saga, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood, their notoriety has increased, and along with that, so has their sex appeal!

There is no denying that vampires are hunky and werewolves pack the best abs. Super strength and shape shifting abilities raise the ante on sexy. Certainly, it does seem like if you're human, being good looking simply isn't good enough anymore.

In its Oct 17-31 issue, Galaxie rounds up the hottest characters that, literally, have killer looks.

Kicking off the list is a werewolf who seemingly never has his shirt on and has gone from scrawny to buff in just a period of two movies. Yeap, The Twilight Saga's Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner, has got the body and skin tan to make any hormonal teenage girl go crazy.

Speaking of buff bods, True Blood's Alcide Herveaux also makes the list with his rugged looks and perfectly shaped body. Although only appearing in the third season of the series, Herveaux, also a werewolf and played by Joe Manganiello, is a fast favourite among many.

Not forgetting our blood-sucking favourites, Damon Salvatore of The Vampire Diaries utilises his dark and devilish charm to gain a spot on the list. Played by Ian Somerhalder, this vampire is every girl's ideal bad boy.

Moving on from sexy things, Galaxie also keeps up with Demi Lovato and how the Disney Princess' fairytale life came tumbling down, and then back up again.

"I had to learn how to control and manipulate everyone around me into believing that I was OK," recalls Lovato.

Ex-American Idol judge, Simon Cowell, also graces the pages of Galaxie to give fans a taste of his latest show, The X Factor.

"We're going to try and find a completely different kind of contestant," he says about the comparison between his new show and American Idol.

"Our job as judges is to find people who've got star quality, and turn them into stars."

On the gossip trail, find out which actress broke her leg (we mean literally, and not for luck), how Nelly ended up offending Malaysians and which two singers quietly hooked up. Oh, and did we mention a love song for Edward and Bella of Twilight?

That's not all! Stand a chance to also win fabulous prizes when you read Galaxie. We have five Sony Walkman, In Time movie bags and iPhone cases, Real Steel USB drive, caps, key chains and more up for grabs.

Galaxie, owned by Star Publications (M) Bhd and voted Entertainment Magazine Of The Year, is also available online at for daily celebrity news. For more updates on the magazine, its blog and the entertainment world, follow Galaxie on Twitter (@galaxiemag) and visit its Facebook page ( – JC Lam

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Shannen Doherty marries in Malibu

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 05:42 PM PDT

(Reuters) - ''Beverly Hills, 90210'' alum Shannen Doherty married photographer Kurt Iswarienko on Saturday in Malibu, CA, reported on Sunday.

This is the third marriage for Doherty, who is reportedly chronicling the nuptials for an upcoming reality series to be shown early next year on cable channel WEtv.

The wedding was a black-tie affair and held on a private estate, the website reported.

Doherty, 40, who also starred on the TV series ''Charmed,'' was previously wed to Ashley Hamilton and to Rick Salomon. Both marriages were short-lived.

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Kevin Hart concert film passes $7 mln at box office

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 05:41 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES ( - Stand-up concert film ''Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain'' continued its extraordinary box-office run this weekend, passing $7 million in revenue since its Sept. 9 release.

The R-rated film, from Codeblack, a distributor of content targeting mostly African-American audiences, debuted explosively on Sept. 9, grossing more than $1.9 million for its opening weekend at only 98 locations.

Playing 188 locations this weekend, its sixth in release, ''Laugh at My Pain'' grossed $276,000, bringing its domestic total to nearly $7.4 million.

Featuring documentary-style footage of comedian Hart on stage, as well as at home in Philadelphia and goofing a bit in a send-up skit of Quentin Tarantino's ''Reservoir Dogs,'' ''Laugh at My Pain'' was produced for only around $750,000.

It is, by far, the most successful film this year for any release that never went out wider than 300 theaters.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Taman Nirwana folk say SOHO development will cause problems

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 05:53 AM PDT

FRUSTRATED over the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council's (MPAJ) lack of concern over their objections to a development project in Taman Nirwana Phase 2, a group of residents in Ampang staged a peaceful protest yesterday morning.

The protest, against a 'small office home office' (SOHO) development project comprised residents of Taman Nirwana Phase 1, 2 and 3, Taman Putra Sulaiman, Kampung Pandan South and Angsana Hilir and was led by the Taman Nirwana Phase 2 Residents Association.

Association president Mohamad Suhaimi Ismail said residents were angry their views were not taken into account but instead, MPAJ had approved the development's planning and building plans.

"MPAJ did not even call us in for objections hearing until residents in Kampung Pandan got wind of the project and protested in 2009.

"The council later called residents in for the objections hearing and at the meeting, we raised our concerns about drainage and parking problems but we have not received any positive feedback from the council and now, we learn the development has been approved," he said.

Mohamad Suhaimi said Taman Nirwana Phase 2 was already tightly congested with shops, houses and Kompleks Muhibah and could not take in a development project with two 16-storey blocks with four storeys dedicated for shoplots.

"At present, drainage water from six housing areas channels into the monsoon drain at Taman Nirwana Phase 2 and when it rains very heavily, the monsoon drain overflows and floods the field nearby.

"Extra households in the new development project will eventually cause the monsoon drain to overflow on a regular basis as the drain was not meant to handle so much volume of water from so many housing projects," Mohamad Suhaimi said.

He said at a meeting in August at MPAJ's office, he was informed that building plans had yet to be approved but later, he received a letter from the council dated Oct 4, stating that building plans were given out on July 12.

"It does not make sense why we were told that building plans were not approved when they were already approved.

"We are not against development but MPAJ must take into account the social issues like the parking problems, congestion, drainage and flooding.

"In fact, when we first bought our properties here, the original plan stated that there would be a low-rise development with shops, a fire station and cinema at the site of the development project," he said.

The association's adviser M. Thomas said MPAJ had also promised to carry out a study on traffic flow on Jalan Nirwana 38, which was used by motorists from Kampung Pandan, Taman Cempaka, Taman Cahaya, Pandan Indah, Taman Dagang to Ampang Jaya, Jalan Ampang, Middle Ring Road II and Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (Duke) highway.

"Jalan Nirwana 38 is a single carriage road and now, MPAJ has proposed for it to be a dual-carriageway to faciliate the development project.

"By making it into a dual carriageway, residents living on Jalan Nirwana 38 will be greatly inconvenienced as they will have no space to park a second car or hold functions to erect a tent, if the road is widened," he said.

Mohamad Suhaimi said the association would no longer deal with MPAJ but would send its official protest letter to the state government.

Meanwhile, MPAJ public relations officer Norhayati Ahmad said based on Section 21 (8)(b) of Town and Country Planning Act 1976, MPAJ was not required to call an objections hearing because the distance of the project to the houses on Jalan Nirwana 38 was in accordance with the Act.

"The developer had also carried out a traffic impact assessment which was given out to residents in a meeting on July 1," she said.

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The art of preservation

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 05:52 AM PDT

SIXTY-ONE artistic minds came together for a common goal at The Star's Preserve Our Heritage — Jalan Sultan Mural event on Saturday.

Donning plastic aprons and cotton gloves, the local artists braved the scorching heat from the sun to leave their colourful mark on the newly primed wall at Lot 49, Jalan Sultan in Kuala Lumpur.

Be it subtle or bold, abstract or realistic, the message conveyed through their 25 inch x 25 inch murals were identical — to conserve the culturally and historically rich area.

After almost five hours of painting tirelessly, the portraits of former Sultan of Selangor Sultan Abdul Samad, Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, and poet and novelist A. Samad Said were among the images that now grace the pale yellow wall.

The event was the highlight of the Preserve Our Heritage campaign that was started when news emerged that century-old buildings in Jalan Sultan might be acquired to make way for the MRT project.

Kuala Lumpur Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail, who came to support the cause, said the artists were helping to enhance the facade of the Jalan Sultan area.

He also said that the mural would help tourists identify with creative Malaysians and boost the image of the area.

Ahmad Fuad said he was open to using the same method in other locations around Kuala Lumpur as a means to preserving old buildings.

"If we can get the approval of the building owners, we can do it up to retain the buildings.

"We have a colourful society and we should reflect that," he said.

When asked if Kuala Lumpur stood a chance to have areas listed on the Unesco Heritage site list, Ahmad Fuad said he has not looked at the criteria just yet.

"Penang was founded around the same time as Kuala Lumpur, so we have traditions as well. If we fit the criteria and specifications of Unesco, I think we can apply," he said.

Star Publications (M) Bhd executive deputy chairman Datuk Vincent Lee said The Star had always carried inspiring stories but writing stories was not enough.

"We must be a part of the story and work with the community to be a part of the change process," he added.

Lee also said that heritage was an intricate part of society and everything should be done to preserve history and culture.

Meanwhile, Jalan Sultan traders were delighted with the decision by the government and MRT Corpo-ration to retain the buildings and not acquire the land.

Lok Ann Hotel manager Steven Yong said the efforts to bring so many artists to make a statement on the dilapitated wall was an ideal way to preserve heritage.

Building owner Chong Kah Fatt, 32, said efforts to honour and preserve the buildings in Jalan Sultan should have been done long ago.

"This is a great idea to appeal and draw in young people. Most of my friends didn't know how this place started until all the publicity," he added.

Khong Kim Lyew said his tailoring business has been around for three generations and his grandfather's name Kwong Fook Wing was synonymous with good tailored suits.

Khong was happy to see so many faces joining forces during the event on Saturday to make a difference.

"I am delighted to see so many people preserving our culture, the buildings and our heritage," he added.

Related Stories:
Guides help with a walk down memory lane
Coming together to preserve heritage
Wall comes alive in living colour

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Thumbs up for Ministry’s cricket efforts

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 07:46 PM PDT

Malacca: With cricket making inroads into primary, secondary and residential-type schools, the Ministry of Education's sports division is also getting involved in the game's technical development by encouraging teachers to become qualified scorers and umpires.

The division's efforts reaped dividends when 48 teachers, including five women and several with little or no knowledge of cricket, attended a four-day basic course for umpires and scorers here recently.

Sports division officer Zul Hisham Razali advised participants to be positive in their approach, even though several had zero knowledge of the game.

"We are addressing all technical aspects related to the game's development, like scoring, umpiring as well as coaching, in order for cricket to flourish within primary and secondary schools including those with residential status" he added.

Zul Hisham further noted that the ministry's sports division has two highly qualified personnel to help with the efforts — Malacca's Khoo Chai Huat and Kuala Lumpur's Ramani Batumalai — who are accredited course instructors with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

Both have conducted a number of courses and refreshers in recent years for scoring and umpiring all over the country as part of efforts to increase the pool of competent cricket umpires and scorers to meet the needs of the Malaysian Cricket Association, its state affiliates as well as leading cricket clubs.

Those attending the courses were reminded to uphold and promote the positive values connected with the game.

They were also advised to protect the game's sporting spirit at all times while maintaining and enhancing its rich history and heritage.

Apart from classroom lectures and lessons, participants were also engaged in useful practical sessions at the Banda Hilir Primary School and the Puteri Resort open field in Ayer Keroh where the correct methods to mark and line the main crease of a cricket pitch were demonstrated.

Participants also checked the pitch's measurements while surveying the playing area and related venue facilities.

Participants were reminded that their decisions on the field of play would always be scrutinised.

As such, prospective umpires need to have strong characters, sound knowledge of the game and the ability to handle pressure both on and off the field.

A video presentation of 'What's Your Decision' and the 'Art Of Umpiring' courtesy of Cricket Australia, including an animated film on the laws of cricket also provided guidance for the participants.

At the end of the courses, participants undertook a two-hour written assessment.

Successful candidates were recommended to follow up with a Level One Umpiring and Scoring stint at the ACC level which leads to enrolment as an associate member of the Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers of Malaysia.

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Police all out to nab traffic offenders

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 07:45 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: There are more than 417,506 unsettled traffic summonses nationwide related to Singapore registered vehicles from 2000 to 2011.

State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said out of the stated number, a large bulk of unsettled summonses were from traffic offences committed in the state.

"Until Sept this year, we recorded about 272,271 unsettled summonses involving Singapore vehicles here," he said.

He was speaking to reporters after attending a security briefing session with Singaporean press members, recently.

DCP Mohd Mokhtar said the state police was determined to get the offenders involved to settle their summonses and would come out with a plan soon.

"Currently, we are conducting road blocks to track down those who have not settled their traffic summonses and we hope to reduce this number soon," he said.

He added that since 2000 to Sept this year, Singaporeans have paid compounds amounting to RM22,571,991 for traffic offences and were fined a total of RM126,320 during court proceedings.

He said 624,716 summonses were also issued to drivers of Singaporean registered vehicles during the period.

DCP Mohd Mokhtar added that as for complaints that his officials were allegedly asking for bribes from Singaporeans, he urged those victimised to lodge reports on the matter.

"Of course their claim is serious and needs to be backed up with proof," he said adding that weeding out unethical officials was a priority to maintain the integrity of the police force itself.

He added that all bribery claims would be forwarded to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission for further action.

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A million reasons to smile for members

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 07:44 PM PDT

KENINGAU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said Koperasi Sabah Kita Berhad would be provided a RM1 million grant to help its endeavour in generating short-term and long-term income.

He said the state government fully supported its effort to develop the community especially farmers and breeders in the rural areas.

"I hope the grant will be fully utilised to benefit cooperative members," he said while launching the 3-in-1 integrated farming (cattle, lemon grass, agarwood) organised by the cooperative at Kampung Ferry on Saturday.

Musa said the target group should similarly use the opportunities accorded them to prosper their family, the community and the country.

"Sabah is blessed with vast acreage and agriculture-based projects must be supported not only by the government but also relevant agencies and the private sector," he stressed.

Koperasi Sabah Kita Berhad, set up in 2010, has more than 40 integrated farming participants throughout the state. ‑ Bernama.

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Smoking linked to earlier menopause, heart diseases

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 01:46 AM PDT

WOMEN who smoke may hit menopause about a year earlier than those who don't light up, according to a study. Earlier menopause may influence the risk of getting bone and heart diseases, it said.

The study, which was carried in the journal Menopause, pooled data from several previous studies that included about 6,000 women in the United States, Poland, Turkey and Iran.

Non-smokers hit menopause between age 46 and 51, on average. But in all but two of the studies, smokers were younger when they hit menopause, between 43 and 50 overall.

During menopause, a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs and she can no longer get pregnant.

"Our results give further evidence that smoking is significantly associated with earlier (age at menopause) and provide yet another justification for women to avoid this habit," wrote study author Volodymyr Dvornyk, from the University of Hong Kong.

Dvornyk and his colleagues also analysed five other studies that used a cut-off age of 50 or 51 to group women into "early" and "late" menopause.

Out of more than 43,000 women in that analysis, women who smoked were 43 percent more likely than non-smokers to have early menopause.

Both early and late menopause have been linked to health risks. Women who hit menopause late, for instance, are thought to be at higher risk of breast cancer because one risk factor for the disease is more time exposed to estrogen.

"General consensus is that earlier menopause is likely to be associated with the larger number and higher risk of post-menopausal health problems, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, obesity, Alzheimer's disease, and others," Dvornyk told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

Overall, he added, early menopause is also thought to slightly raise a woman's risk of death in the years following.

There are two theories for why smoking might mean earlier menopause, said Jennie Kline, an epidemiologist from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York.

Smoking make have an effect on how women's bodies make, or get rid of, estrogen.

Alternatively, some researchers believe certain components of cigarette smoke might kill eggs, added Kline, who was not involved in the study.

Dvornyk's team did not have information on how long women had been smoking or how many cigarettes they smoked each day, so his team could not determine how either of those factors may have affected age at menopause.

For that reason, and a lack of data on other health and lifestyle factors linked to menopause, the analysis may not be enough to resolve lingering questions on the link between smoking and menopause, they said.

Alcohol, weight and whether or not women have given birth may each also play a role in when they hit menopause, but the evidence for everything other than smoking has been mixed, Kline said.

It is also possible that the same factors that influence age at menopause may determine whether women have trouble with infertility or not, or how late they can get pregnant.

Still, Kline said, "There are way better reasons to stop smoking than worrying about menopause."

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