Selasa, 25 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Pan Am Games: Canadian Armstrong retains shot title with record throw

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:53 PM PDT

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Reuters): Canadian shot putter Dylan Armstrong came to Mexico to boost his training routine late in the season and walked off with the Pan-American gold medal after a record-breaking throw on Tuesday.

Armstrong, silver medallist in the Daegu world championships, won with a fifth throw of 21.30 right after being overtaken by his closest challenger Carlos Veliz and retained his Pan-am title.

The Cuban had just put the shot 20.76, four centimetres further than Armstrong's earlier competition-leading throw.

The 30-year-old Armstrong broke the record set eight years ago by American Reese Hoffa of 20.95 in Santo Domingo.

Asked to comment on his response to Veliz's throw, Armstrong said: "Yes, it took me a while to get into my rhythm," he told reporters. "My head's not in competition mode, I just went through the motions."

The Games, a quadrennial event involving the countries from Canada down to Argentina and Chile, are being held later in the year than usual and Armstrong had been concentrating on his training at home after the world championships from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4.

"I was training anyway so it's no different to do that at home or here, it was another opportunity to compete," he said at the brand new Telmex stadium in this western Mexican city.

Winning was a pleasing bonus.

"It means a lot, a medal's a medal," he said.

"With a championship medal, it makes a difference going to London," he added of next year's Olympic Games, but the modest giant does not court fame.

"I don't see myself (as being) in the spotlight, I just keep my head down and do my thing. Don't get me wrong, I like the pressure."

Argentine German Lauro, who threw 20.41 metres just two centimetres short of his personal best, won the bronze medal in a competition in which Americans Russell Winger and Noah Bryant disappointed.

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Tennis: Wozniacki, Kvitova, Stosur in winning starts

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 05:12 PM PDT

ISTANBUL (Reuters): Caroline Wozniacki gave another gritty demonstration of why she has enjoyed a virtual year-long stranglehold on the world number one ranking with a 5-7 6-2 6-4 defeat of Agnieszka Radwanska in her opening match at the WTA Championships on Tuesday.

With world number two Maria Sharapova losing to Samantha Stosur for the first time in her career in the day's late match, the pugnacious 21-year-old Wozniacki is inching closer to a second consecutive year end at the top of the tree despite still waiting for a grand slam title.

Her hard-fought victory meant Denmark's most-photographed athlete, not least because of her romance with Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, joined Petra Kvitova, who has an outside chance of de-throning Wozniacki, at the top of Red Group.

Czech leftie Kvitova, whose stunning Wimbledon triumph helped power her up to third on the latest WTA ranking list, showed a few early and late nerves on her tournament debut as she opened proceedings inside Istanbul's cavernous Sinan Erdem Dome with a 6-2 6-4 defeat of Russia's Vera Zvonareva.

"I was nervous because it was my first time playing at the Championships," Kvitova, the first Czech to qualify since Jana Novotna in 1998, told reporters after allowing a 4-1 lead to slip in the second set but then recovering her poise.

While her match was played out to polite applause from the hardly-engrossed 10,000 crowd, the middle match of the day set the standard for $4.9 million year-ending showpiece which will be played in the majestic Turkish capital for three years.

Wozniacki, whose unerring consistency has earned her a total of 54 weeks as No.1, was made to play catch-up against Radwanska who gained the initiative early with some beautifully-timed effortless winners.

Catch up she did, however, moving 0-40 ahead when Radwanska served at 4-5 in the first set only to blow all three set points. World number eight Radwanska seized on her let-off, breaking in the following game and then clubbing away a forehand to pocket a 64-minute first set.

With her father Piotr offering some animated words of wisdom at virtually every change of ends, Wozniacki reeled off four games from 2-2 in the second set to level the match and appeared to be in control in the deciding set when a stunning backhand winner to end a superb rally put her 4-2 ahead.

However, she gifted a break back with a double-fault in the next game and Radwanska, who had her right shoulder taped, began to play some inspired tennis to drag herself back to 4-4.

Wozniacki squandered one match point but a tired-looking Radwanska forehand into the net at 4-5 ended the duel. Should Wozniacki win another round-robin match and reach the final she will be guaranteed the top ranking going into 2011.


"It was a tough battle out there," she told reporters. "We had a lot of long rallies and I'm very happy to pull through." The atmosphere is very nice here, it's a huge crowd.

Sharapova, who until last week was still unsure whether she would be fit to play after twisting an ankle before the China Open, was caught cold by Stosur in their White Group match which finished at nearly midnight local time.

However, she took some positives from a 6-1 7-5 defeat in her first match at the year-ending showpiece since 2007, since when a shoulder injury threatened her career.

"The good thing is that I gave myself a chance and I did everything I could just to be here," the three-times grand slam champion, who plays China's Li Na on Wednesday, told reporters. "I'm happy that I still have a couple of matches to go.

"She was more explosive than me today," added Sharapova who had won all her previous nine matches with Stosur.

Stosur, playing at the Championships for the first time in singles, saved three break points when serving for the match at 6-5 before finally clinching it on her second match point when Sharapova blazed a return long.

The Australian can take a huge step towards the semi-finals if she beats Victoria Azarenka in Wednesday's first match.

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Golf: The weather headache for PGA Tour organisers

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 05:15 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): Hurricanes, earthquakes, lightning, slow play, burrowing moles - Mark Russell has had to contend with a wide range of obstacles in his role as a tournament director for the PGA Tour.

There were 45 events during the 2011 season that ended with the Disney Classic in Florida on Sunday and by far the biggest headache for Russell has been the vagaries of the weather.

"We're like airline pilots - hours of boredom and moments of terror," Russell told Reuters with a glint in his eye while reflecting on this year's tour. "The weather is by far our biggest problem.

"It's great when you set the golf course up and we have good weather, the players stay in position and we don't need any rulings. But we play a game that is basically outdoors daylight till dark.

"If you count the pro-am, that's five straight days and it's very difficult to go somewhere and get five straight days without a weather change. We can't take a chance on people getting struck by lightning so we monitor that very closely."

In one of the most unlikely buildups to any PGA Tour event, the Aug. 25-28 Barclays Classic in Edison, New Jersey, faced the threat of Hurricane Irene after a rare earthquake had struck the area earlier in the week.

Hardly surprisingly, the tournament was eventually reduced to 54 holes because of the severe weather and American Dustin Johnson ended up winning the title shortly before the arrival of a heavy thunderstorm.

"We deal with volatile weather from time to time and we have meteorologists on our staff," Russell said. They have the best equipment and they are invaluable.

"But no two situations are ever the same so there is no standard operating procedure. You've got to look at what you have with the weather, evaluate the situation and make a plan from there."

Weather delays in the opening round can be a nightmare for tournament organisers as playing catch-up with a full field of 156 players is never easy. Remarkably, though, there was only one Monday finish on the 2011 PGA Tour due to weather issues - at the frost-delayed Phoenix Open in February.


"If you can at least get some golf in, you've got something in the bank but when you have weather problems on a Thursday morning, there's not much you can do," Russell said.

"Our regulations say that we need to play 72 holes so that's pretty much what we do ... even if it would come down to playing 36 holes on a Monday, which is difficult."

Apart from coping with weather problems, tournament directors and their staff have to set up the golf course, monitor the pace of play and issue rulings when required.

"We decide where the holes go on the greens, we decide where the tees go and then once the golf tournament starts, we are out there monitoring the pace of play," Russell said.

"We spend our whole day dealing with the pace of play and then if somebody needs a ruling, we will come in and make that."

Asked what had been the most bizarre ruling he had experienced, Russell recalled an incident which took place during a playoff between Fijian Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia for the 2008 Barclays Classic at Ridgewood Country Club.

On the second extra hole, the par-five 17th, Garcia hooked his drive into the left rough from where he hit his second shot behind a huge tree in the right rough.

However, the Spaniard ended up getting a free drop six feet to the left of where his ball had settled - all because of a burrowing mole.

"Sergio was in a situation where the mole was under the ground and the mole was moving the ground while he was trying to play his shot," Russell grinned. "That was a pretty crazy thing, so he got a drop.

"But the rules are the rules. As long as you stand on the rules no matter how crazy it seems, you can't go wrong. If you deviate from the letter of the law, that's when you have a problem."

Russell's definition of a successful PGA Tour event, from his point of view, is very simple.

"We need to stay behind the scenes," he said of the tournament director and his fellow officials. "When you see our staff out and about, nothing good is taking place."

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Amazon profit forecast disappoints, stock slumps

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:18 PM PDT Inc shocked investors with a far weaker-than-expected outlook for the crucial holiday season quarter as it spent heavily on its new Kindle Fire tablet computer.

The stock tumbled 12 percent Tuesday in extended trading as the news raised concern that Amazon was losing some of the revenue momentum that had helped investors overlook its razor-thin profit margins.

Amazon forecast fourth-quarter revenue of $16.34 billion to $18.65 billion, compared with analysts' average estimate of $18.15 billion as compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Amazon's forecast would mean 27 to 44 percent growth from a year earlier. In the third quarter, sales grew 44 percent, less than the 51 percent gain in the second quarter.

The company also said it could report a $200 million operating loss to a $250 million operating profit in the holiday quarter as it spends on the Fire and other initiatives.

That forecast, which includes $200 million for stock-based compensation and intangible assets, was "materially" below Wall Street expectations, according to UBS analysts Brian Pitz and Brian Fitzgerald. They were looking for $374 million in operating profit in the fourth quarter.

"We're not seeing the investment pay off yet, but I think investors are impatient as to how long will it take before you will start to see this pay off," Evercore Partners analyst Ken Sena said. "When are we going to start to see some signs?"

Amazon's fourth-quarter forecast implies a profit margin of "effectively zero," Youssef Squali, an analyst at Jefferies & Co, noted during a conference call with the company.


Amazon said on Tuesday its third-quarter net income was $63 million, or 14 cents a share, versus $231 million, or 51 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue was $10.88 billion, up 44 percent from the third quarter of 2010, it added.

Analysts had expected earnings per share of 24 cents on revenue of $10.95 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"Lower profit margins would be acceptable, but for the lower-than-expected revenue growth numbers," said Fred Moran, an analyst at The Benchmark Co.

Moran had expected third-quarter revenue growth of as much as 50 percent.

The company unveiled its new Kindle Fire tablet in late September and many analysts think it is being sold close to the cost of making it, or even at a loss.

"The revenue is a little light, but margin is where the biggest variance is from Wall Street's expectations," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, a software company that helps merchants increase online sales. "This is largely due to Amazon's investment in the Kindle Fire."

Amazon is also investing in video content and other publishing deals to support the device, while spending on datacenters for its cloud computing business and fulfillment for its online retail operations.

Wall Street has accepted such spending because Amazon has proved in the past that it can generate higher growth from such investments. However, analysts have been on edge about Amazon's third-quarter results and fourth-quarter forecasts because of the recent increase in expenditures.


Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said on a conference call after the results that the company has had to add fulfillment capacity to handle the growth of its main online retail business.

The company is planning to build 17 new fulfillment centers this year, two more than its previous plan, the CFO noted.

Szkutak also said Amazon is increasing production of the Kindle Fire by "a few million units," citing strong demand. -Reuters

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Brazil rejects Europe debt purchase plan

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:17 PM PDT

BRASILIA (Reuters): Brazil on Tuesday rejected the idea of buying European bonds to help ease the euro zone's debt crisis, casting doubt on a plan for major emerging market economies to offer fresh funds for the continent's rescue.

European leaders had floated the idea that developing nations including Brazil and China could provide funding to buy Euro zone bonds, which would help lower yields and ease pressure on countries such as Spain and Italy.

But Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega echoed calls for Europe to solve its own burgeoning fiscal problems, saying Brazil had no intention of making such purchases.

"I believe that European countries do not need funds from Brazil to buy bonds. Brazil is not considering it," Mantega told reporters in Brasilia. "They have to find solutions to the European problems within Europe."

However, Mantega said Brazil would be willing to provide financial help via the International Monetary Fund.

His statements came as European leaders head into a summit on Wednesday with no apparent compromise to reduce Greece's debt to private bondholders amid uncertainties about a planned bank recapitalization.

Brazilian officials earlier this year floated a plan to buy European debt along with members of the BRICS group of nations, which includes Russia, China, India and South Africa, but backed away after tepid response from the group.

Analysts said that move was unlikely to begin with, given that Brazil would not be able to put up enough money to have a serious effect on the crisis, and could be legally restricted from using reserves to buy debt that faces a high or moderate risk of default.


Eurozone officials said on Tuesday the IMF is considering taking part in a special purpose investment vehicle (SPIV), which would issue debt and use the proceeds to buy bonds of distressed euro zone sovereigns on the secondary market or extend loans to at-risk governments.

India and Russia are not interested in offering more funds to help Europe while there was not evidence China planned to chip in, a high ranking official from an emerging market country told Reuters.

The official said major emerging powers believe Europe is not doing enough to find a solution to the crisis amid internal bickering.

In September, Brazil proposed that BRICS countries offer new funds to the IMF to battle the European crisis.

The IMF's leading share holders, which include the United States and some European countries, rejected that idea, which analysts say could potentially dilute their influence in the lender.

The United States, Japan, Germany and China, have said that the fund's $380 billion worth of resources is enough.

Some Brazilian officials see the crisis in Europe and slow growth in the United States as a chance to increase the South American country role in global affairs.

Brazil's economy, by far the largest in Latin America, will keep growing in coming years despite the international turmoil, Mantega said.

Brazil, a commodities giant, has lowered its benchmark interest rate in a bid to shield its economy from a deteriorating global economy and hiked import taxes to protect the local auto industry.

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IBM taps Rometty to succeed Palmisano as CEO

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:17 PM PDT

IBM global sales chief Virginia Rometty will take over as CEO from Sam Palmisano in January, becoming one of the most powerful women in business and technology today.

In taking the helm of the storied industry icon, she makes it the largest US corporation by value to be headed by a woman.

IBM, which over the decades had a reputation of being a strait-laced, plodding, male-dominated business empire, will formally appoint the 54-year-old engineering and computer science graduate its first female CEO on January 1.

The selection went down well with Silicon Valley and Wall Street, especially because the 60-year-old Palmisano -- who helped transform Big Blue from a computer hardware company into a global services and software behemoth -- is staying on as chairman.

"Given Ginni's experience running the largest portion of the business by revenue, she was a logical choice," said Macquarie Securities analyst Brad Zelnick.

Her ascension will set up a rivalry with Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman for the mantle of most powerful woman in technology, mirroring a long-running rivalry between the two companies.

Rometty joins a relatively small circle of top female CEOs, including Whitman, Pepsico's Indra Nooyi, Xerox's Ursula Burns, Kraft Foods' Irene Rosenfeld and DuPont's Ellen Kullman.

Rometty -- who most recently served as senior vice president of global sales -- made her mark with the smooth 2002 integration of PriceWaterhouseCooper's consulting arm, a landmark move that catapulted IBM into the upper echelons of the technology consulting business.

Colleagues say that Rometty, often clad in elegant pastel-coloured suits, cut a striking figure in IBM's staid hallways and impressed co-workers with both her cool-headedness and enthusiasm.

"She exudes energy," said Nelson Fraiman, professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

Fraiman, who has known the computer science and electrical engineering graduate from Northwestern for about a decade, said she was a good strategist and an early advocate for IBM's expansion into business analytics, or tools and services that help companies quickly analyse trends.

"She thinks in a very analytical way. That's part of her engineering training," he said.

One former IBM executive said Rometty -- who sometimes carries a backpack rather than a briefcase -- worked long hours and demanded that her subordinates do the same.

"People who work for her just don't sleep," said the source. "She has a style that is very different from anybody else's, but is all her own."


In nine years as IBM's leader, Palmisano exited low-margin businesses including PCs, printers and hard drives. He expanded the company's offerings in services, consulting and software.

Since the former history major took the reins, Big Blue's stock has outperformed HP's and matched Oracle's, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Wall Street appeared to approve of the choice of Rometty, and some analysts said that Palmisano had put in place a structure that would ease the way for anyone to follow in his footsteps.

Sources told Reuters in 2010 that Rometty had rebuffed advances from arch-rival HP, which was then looking to replace the ousted Mark Hurd, to stay at the company where she was seen as a rising star.

"She has done well at IBM. She has contributed to their expansion overseas -- emerging markets -- and has done a fantastic job in that space," said Morningstar analyst Sunit Gogia. "All the public knowledge about her performance is very encouraging."

But "computing is an industry that is always evolving," Gogia said. "It's moving into an era of cloud computing. The company will have to reinvent itself for the future, stay with the times and maintain the revenue base when they do that."

Shares in IBM slipped about a dollar from their $180.36 close following the announcement. -Reuters

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The Star Online: Nation

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Call for government departments, agencies to cut their spending

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 05:21 AM PDT

Published: Tuesday October 25, 2011 MYT 7:58:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday October 25, 2011 MYT 8:21:30 PM

PUTRAJAYA: While the Auditor-General has given an "excellent" rating to most Government departments and agencies, there is room to improve their financial management.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Sidek Hassan said all departments and agencies should take heed of the comments and views of the A-G's report to further make the improvements.

Advising them not to rest on their laurels he said the rating should spur them to strive for better results.

"The comments and views should be taken seriously," he said at the presentation of the i-Pass (or identification cards for foreigners) to 11 holders of Residence Pass at the Perdana Putra building here Tuesday.

Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mahmood Adam presented the passes, which replace the i-Kad that had been issued since 1998.

On the i-Pass for expatriates, Sidek said over 30 applications had been approved since it was extended to the group earlier this month.

He said some 90,000 expatriates were eligible to apply for the pass which was issued free of charge.

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Pahang PAS' anti-Elton John concert draws flak

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 04:26 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Pahang PAS Youth has received all round backlash for protesting against superstar Elton John's concert in Genting Highlands next month.

Karyawan president Datuk Freddie Fernandez said no one should discriminate against gays or lesbians and "Elton John is a highly talented individual with over four decades of producing great music."

"His music is wholesome entertainment. People of all ages enjoy his music. He has even written songs for a Disney movie! " he said.

The movement's chief Shahril Azman Abdul Halim was reported as saying that Elton John's gay marriage would have a negative influence on the younger generation.

Recording Industry Association Of Malaysia chairman Norman Halim called it a "few narrow-minded people trying to impose their values on everybody."

"You don't go to an Elton John concert and suddenly become gay!" he said adding that such protests should not happen if Malaysia wants to achieve developed country status.

Sisters In Islam communications member Akmal Zulkifli said: "In Islam, we cannot judge someone immediately, we have to go deep into the issue. Elton John will go on stage to play the piano and perform, not kiss another guy."

"What he does in private has nothing to with his career or his talent. It would be a shame for Malaysians to miss out on such a legendary artiste," said Rock queen Ella.

Jason Lo, the owner of Fat Boys Records that organised the concert, tweeted "Dear PAS Youth, if you're against Elton John please ask your members to stop calling me for free tickets."

Elton John, with classics like Your Song, Candle in the Wind and Don't Go Breaking My Heart, married David Furnish in 2005 when same-sex marriages were legalised in Britain.

His show, at Genting Highlands on Nov 22, is part of the music icon's Greatest Hits Tour.

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Nightclub cashier to hang for drug trafficking

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 03:37 AM PDT

Published: Tuesday October 25, 2011 MYT 6:27:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday October 25, 2011 MYT 6:37:34 PM

JOHOR BARU: A nightclub cashier was sentenced to death by a High Court here Tuesday for possessing and trafficking more than 757gm of drugs.

Fang Yuen Heong, 35, appeared calm when Judicial Commissioner Samsudin Hassan meted out the sentence.

In the first amended charge, the accused was found guilty of distributing 757.74gm of methamphatamine at a house in Taman Johor Jaya about 4pm on Dec 23, 2008.

For the second offence, she was also found in possession of 26.23gm of nimetazepam at the same place, time and date.

The court found her guilty of possession of 3.43gm of methamphatamine and 1.98gm of nimetazepam for the third and fourth charges respectively.

Samsudin sentenced Fang to the gallows under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Horror unlimited

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 11:51 PM PDT

Hong Kong Ghost Stories offers two scary tales with different settings.

GOOD old scary Hong Kong movies have been sorely lacking in the cinema these days. But now, we've got a new release simply titled Hong Kong Ghost Stories, which actually promises the return of Hong Kong horror.

Making this ambitious claim are the movie's producer Wong Jing and writer-director Patrick Kong, who are out to convince viewers that horror exists where you least expect it. With such an incongruous pairing, it is only logical for one to expect the unexpected; the former is famous for his prolific cheesy crowd-pleasers while the latter is better known for his bleak love stories.

Opening during Halloween, this timely release is an old school Hong Kong ghost flick that comes as a two-parter.

One tale takes place in a classroom with a bunch of rowdy and wayward students, while the other tells of a group of quirky friends on a vacation.

In the school-bound story, Jennifer Tse plays a freshly-graduated teacher with a broken heart, Pakho Chau plays her unrelenting ex-boyfriend, and Paw Hee Jing and Leung Kar Yan play her parents, while Kristal Tin plays the school principal. The students are portrayed by youngsters like Carol Yeung, Betrys Kong, Vivian Law, Tong Fei and Leung Chun Lung.

The teacher catches the students of class 4E involved in prostitution and decides to stop them by reporting the matter to the school principal but is shocked to discover that the class does not even exist.

In a recorded interview, Tse shared: "My character in the movie is a girl in her 20s who has just returned after furthering her studies in England. She's been dating a guy for seven years but he has a habit of hitting her. So, she hopes to start afresh as a substitute teacher in a new school where the students are quite naughty.

"She gets particularly close to one student, because she feels the girl is like her. She is bullied constantly and seems unable to stand up for herself. But, as the movie progresses, we discover that things are not what they seem."

Playing the boyfriend with a violent streak, Pakho offered: "My character is in this on-off relationship with a girl, whom he sometimes hurts so badly that she ends up in hospital. I later find out that she is caught up in some supernatural phenomena and I try to help but she is not interested in my concern."

In the travellers' tale, Chrissie Chau plays a mysterious woman on the run, while Him Law plays a ruthless and dangerous lover. The weird bunch of travellers are portrayed by Timmy Hung, Jacqueline Chong, Charmaine Fong, Rose Chan and Harriet Yeung.

The story unfolds with the travellers seated at a table enjoying a hearty hotpot meal while spilling the beans on each other, unaware of what fate has in store for them.

As a woman hounded by her beau, Chrissie expressed how different it felt working with the director and Law again. "Although, I play lovers with Him again, the relationship is no longer the same. His character likes playing mind games and keeps everyone guessing all the time, so it feels more like a cops-and-robbers flick.

"Sometimes, I feel like giving him a punch or a kick. Having known Him for so long, it's the first time I've seen this side of him. I never realised that Him was capable of fleshing out such a mean character. I feel the director is amazing for being able to bring out the best in every actor," added Chrissie, who was full of praises for both the director and her co-star.

Playing the antagonist, Law shared: "I've filmed many movies with Chrissie, so we've got such synergy going for us that there's nothing to be awkward or embarrassed about. In this movie, our relationship is less passionate but more complicated.

"On portraying the villain, I feel that everybody has a selfish or negative side. So, you just have to magnify this unfavourable trait and convince yourself that you're a baddie and have bad intentions in every action you undertake. Once you are able to achieve that, then your every gesture and expression gives off that convincingly negative vibe," explained Law, who says playing a baddie has given him more satisfaction than acting as a good guy.

With a young cast providing lots of eye candy, the trailer seems promising as the movie looks to be generously populated with scary ghosts and screaming victims. – Seto Kit Yan

Hong Kong Ghost Stories opens in local cinemas on Thursday.

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Studio pulling Harry Potter discs from stores Dec. 29

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 06:46 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Warner Brothers is taking a page from Disney.

The studio announced that it will pull all Harry Potter DVDs and Blu-rays from store shelves on Dec. 29, 2011.

Move follows the Nov. 11 home entertainment release of the final film in the franchise, ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2,'' which should send disc sales into the stratosphere. The studio is also releasing a box-set of all eight Potter films on that date.

Disney has employed a similar strategy with animated hits like ''Beauty and the Beast'' and ''Sleeping Beauty,'' re-releasing the movies in theaters and on tricked out versions for limited periods of time.

If the runaway success of the 3D re-release of ''The Lion King'' is any guide, fans can expect Potter to wave his wand in theaters at some point in the future.

Warner Brothers says the new moratorium will not apply to digital copies or video-on-demand.

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Magnolia picks up '360' starring Rachel Weisz, Jude Law

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 04:58 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Magnolia Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to ''360,'' a drama starring Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins and Jude Law, the company announced Monday.

Ben Foster, Jamel Debbouze and Moritz Bleibtreu also star.

Law plays a businessman who is thinking about a liaison with a prostitute. Weisz plays a married woman who is ending her relationship with a younger man. Hopkins plays a man who is searching for his missing daughter, and Foster plays a sex offender recently out of prison.

The movie is based on ''Reigen,'' a play by the late Arthur Schnitzler. The play is made up of short scenes between lovers - either just before or after sex.

Meirelles, who directed Weisz in ''City of God,'' shot the movie in Vienna, Paris, London, Bratislava and Rio de Janeiro. Peter Morgan (''The Queen,'' ''Frost/Nixon'') wrote the script.

Andrew Eaton and David Linde produced with Chris Hanley, Danny Krausz and Emanuel Michael.

Magnolia plans a theatrical release in 2012. The movie also will be distributed through Magnolia's Ultra VOD program.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Metro Watch

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:41 AM PDT


There will be a staggered closure of Rest and Service Area (RSA) of Lebuh Raya Shah Alam between 7am until 11am in Kinrara on Oct 25 and Awan Besar on Oct 27, to facilitate cleaning works. For enquiries, call KESAS Hotline 03-5633 7188 or


Junctions along Jalan Tun Sambathan and Jalan Travers are closed until tomorrow to facilitate the Amarkala Deepavali Programme 2011 at 10pm today in Brickfields. The public can park in SMK La Salle Brickfields for a fee.


The Malaysia Australia Business Council (MABC) will be hosting a talk on approaches to innovate and transform the role of Malaysian private institutions towards liberalisation issues and better branding. The talk will be held at 5.30pm this Thursday at Prince Hotel and Residence Kuala Lumpur. For details, call Linda Henry at 03 7960 9490 / 9706 or email


The National Cancer Council, Breast Cancer Welfare Association and National Cancer Society are holding free breast check-ups and consultations for early breast cancer detection from 11am to 8.30pm at the Giant hypermarket in Kota Damansara.


Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) is offering motorists who have been compounded for parking offences, a flat fee of RM20 for each compound received from 2005 to 2011. For details, call MPKj at 03 8737 7899 ext: 7016 / 7009.


Diabetes Malaysia Society will be holding a free talk on diabetes and diet at 2pm this Saturday at No. 2, Lorong 11/4E Petaling Jaya. For details, call K S Maniam at 03 7957 4062.


Shelter Home for Children, a charitable organisation, has come out with colourful calendars for 2012, themed "Children are a precious gift from God" and it is for sale at RM10 each. For details, call Edwin or Brian at 03 7955 0663.


Chempaka Buddhist Lodge Petaling Jaya is conducting the annual Kathina ceremony marking the end of rains retreat on Oct 29 from 8.30am to noon. For details, call 03 7880 3936.


Aga Khan Award for Architecture is calling on architects to submit project entries for the 2010-2013 cycle of the award. For details, contact AKAA Regional Co-ordinator for South East Asia Fay Cheah at 012 212 1328.

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Former BJSS duo prepare for careers in broadcast journalism

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:41 AM PDT

KARATE exponent M. Yokananthini and squash player P.T. Pushppa Devi are getting prepared for a career after sports.

Both are pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Serdang.

As part of their studies, both had to organise a talk show. Yokananthini was given the responsibility to handle the camera.

"It was quite interesting as each of us were given a specific task. For us it was a learning process," said the 22-year-old Yokananthini.

Besides Yokananthini and Pushppa Devi, the others in the team were Wan Amiruddin Wan Pa, M. Kalaivani, Kee Khai Sin, Janey Tracey Jimah, Lee Pei Qin, Sufian Hadi Mohd Sojak, Emyly Pang Lai Teng and Qyiza Deborah Joseph.

Lecturer Dr Megat Al-Imran was the executive producer while Rizal Abdul Razak was the producer.

Both Yokananthini and Pushppa Devi had gone through the matriculation programme at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).

Pushppa Devi was delegated to invite an IT expert to be the guest on the show – Gadget Brain — and after some running around, she managed to get IT specialist T. Sashi Kumar.

"Sashi was receptive to our request. In fact, he took leave from his job to spend almost three hours with us. Being an experienced speaker, he made us feel comfortable and made the recording a success," said Pushppa Devi.

Sashi, a Computing and Information System (ICT) graduate, is currently working for a government agency as a senior executive in the IT service department. He is on a weekly technology review radio programme on MinnalFM.

Sashi said he was pleased to assist the UPM undergraduates.

"I was impressed with their enthusiasm. This is a learning process for them. I am happy to help," he said.

Yokananthini said she admired Sashi's confidence when facing the camera.

"He was very patient and we certainly learnt a lot from him," she said.

Yokananthini has been involved in karate for almost 16 years. She is a member of the national training programme. Her next competition will be the national championships.

"I don't have any problem dividing my time between studies and karate. I want to excel in both.

"I will continue to train and my aim is get a regular place in the national squad," said Yokananthini.

Emyly, who was the host of the talk show, said she was quite nervous but Sashi gave her confidence.

"He was understanding and encouraged me. He gave us some valuable pointers which will be helpful in our career," said Emyly.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Move to raise village heads allowance agreed by Sabah government

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 03:56 PM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: Ketua Kampungs (village heads) in Sabah will get a new monthly allowance of RM650 beginning next month.

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor said the increase of the allowance for village heads from RM450 to RM650 was agreed by the state Cabinet at its recent meeting chaired by Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman.

Hajiji added that there was also no ambiguity about Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's announcement of a new monthly allowance scheme of RM800 for village heads applicable only in Peninsular Malaysia.

"In Peninsular Malaysia, the village head is also the chairman of the Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK). In other words, he is doing two jobs and hence it is only fair that he gets RM800."

He added that the scenario is different in Sabah where the post of village head and the JKKK chairman are held by different people.

Before the allowance was raised, village heads in Sabah received RM450, with RM400 coming from the federal government and RM50 from the state.

"With the new allowance, the Sabah village heads will get RM650, with RM600 from the federal government and RM50 from the state. This is already an increase of RM200 per month."

Hajiji added that in view of the different system in Sabah, the Chief Minister took the matter up with the Federal Government and it was decided that the village heads and the JKKK chairmenn in Sabah would get a raise of RM200 in their monthly allowances.

He said, under the new structure, a JKKK chairman's monthly allowance would now be RM400, with RM200 coming from the state and another RM200 from the Federal Government.

Hajiji expressed the hope that the new allowances would motivate both the village heads and JKKK chairmen in Sabah to work harder in discharging their duties.

"Village heads and JKKK chairmen are important figures in villages and they play a vital role as the 'eyes and ears' of the government," he added.

"They should work hard to bring not just development, peace, security, unity and harmony to their villages but also to help make the Chief Minister's "Halatuju" (strategic direction) a reality and Sabah a better place for all to live in," he added.

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Calling for engineering grads to drive economy

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 05:57 PM PDT

MALACCA: Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) Chancellor Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob called on engineering graduates to drive the nation's economy in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

He said the success of research efforts by engineering specialists had helped Malaysia remain as the world's primary producer of rubber, palm oil, cocoa and pepper.

"Besides that, continuous efforts in research and development will boost agricultural resources, food production technology and advancements in the field of health," he said at UTeM's 7th convocation ceremony recently.

Mohd Khalil, who is also the Yang Dipertua Negeri, wants UTeM to encourage the transfer of technology from developed countries until Malaysia is able to handle cutting-edge technology with the best human capital.

A total of 1,502 graduates received their scrolls a the two-day that started last week.

Among them were Saiful Izzat Mat Zahari, 23, and Wong Kok Hong, 25, who were presented with the Royal Education Award during the event.

Saiful Izzat, who graduated with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.66 for his Bachelors Degree in Mechatronics Engineering with Honours, dedicated the award to his parents whom he said were his pillars of strength during his four years of study.

Wong attributed good time management between academics and co-curricular activities as the recipe for his success in obtaining his Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering.

"This is the best achievement in my life so far and it is motivation for me to continue learning at a higher level," said Wong, who graduated with a CGPA of 3.87 and has been offered a programme development engineer's post in Penang. — Bernama

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Walkathon to be held on Dec 10

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 03:57 PM PDT

MALACCA: The Malacca International 12-Hour Walk 2011 has been scheduled for Dec 10.

Majlis Bandaraya Malacca Bersejarah (MBMB) secretary Azmi Hussain said the walk is being organised by the MBMB and Race Walkers' Association of Malaysia for the second time.

"The walk receives support from the Malacca government, Sports Council and Justice of Peace Council. We are expecting 800 to 1,000 local and foreign participants," he told reporters here recently.

Azmi also said, "So far 520 walkers, including 30 foreign walkers from countries like Germany, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong had confirmed their entries."

Also among the entries is 1995 Chiangmai and 1997 Jakarta SEA Games gold medal winner R. Mogan who still holds the national 10km walk record set in 1995.

An entry fee of RM70 will be charged for walkers who sign before Oct 30 while those who sign from Nov 1 to 14 will pay RM90 and those who sign up from Nov 15 to 30 will have to pay RM120.

For more information, visit the event's website at — Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Prosecution rests in MJ trial

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 08:39 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): Prosecutors rested their case against Michael Jackson's doctor Monday after nearly four weeks of testimony and evidence against the man accused of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star's death.

The final witness to testify for prosecutors in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray was Dr. Steven Shafer. He told the jury Murray never should have given Jackson the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid at home and called Murray's treatment a ''pharmacological 'Never-Never Land.'''

Murray has admitted giving Jackson propofol, the key drug that caused the Thriller singer's overdose, but defense attorneys have argued that Jackson gave himself an extra, fatal dose of the drug when Murray was absent.

Murray's attorneys called their first witness on Monday. They hope to finish presenting their case Thursday.

Since the trial began roughly four weeks ago, jurors have heard from several doctors who slammed Murray's treatment of Jackson on June 25, 2009 -- the day the singer died -- and for not keeping records in the weeks he cared for the singer.

Prosecutors have put Murray's defense attorneys in a quandary by presenting the doctor's account to police of what happened in Jackson's final hours, then pointing out glaring inconsistencies between his statements and the evidence.

For instance, Murray never mentioned to police that he was on his phone after giving Jackson a cocktail of propofol and sedatives. But prosecutors have presented records showing Murray using his cell phone for more than 45 minutes before discovering that Jackson had stopped breathing.

Among the trials most dramatic moments, so far, was the playing of an audiotape Murray had recorded of Jackson's slurred and apparently drugged voice that gave the trial an emotional jolt as the singer talked about his desire to help children.

Moreover, defense attorneys have had to withdraw one of their key contentions about Jackson's drug use, telling the judge they would not try to convince jurors he swallowed propofol, as they had argued in hearings earlier this year.

Their reversal was due to the fact that scientific studies showed propofol has little effect when ingested orally. Still, defense attorneys have clung to their argument that Jackson could have taken more of the drug intravenously.

The first defense witness called to testify on Monday was a Beverly Hills police official, who discussed details about the call for an ambulance made from Jackson's mansion on the day he died.

Murray, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter, faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted.

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Singer Loretta Lynn out of hospital

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 05:00 PM PDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - Country music legend Loretta Lynn was resting at home on Monday after spending part of a "scary" weekend in the hospital suffering from pneumonia, the singer said.

"It was one scary night ... But I am feeling better and just gonna take it easy for a couple of weeks," she said in a statement from her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

The 76-year-old music icon went to a Kentucky hospital early on Saturday after awakening on her tour bus complaining of difficulty breathing, her web site said.

Lynn canceled her two weekend performances in Kentucky and North Carolina, but the statement said she expected to return to the stage on Nov. 3 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The singer, who grew up poor in Kentucky's coal-mining country before rising to fame, has additional performances scheduled in Mississippi, Louisiana and North Carolina.

Lynn, whose hits including "If You're Not Gone Too Long" and "Don't Come Home A Drinkin'," has released 70 albums and charted 16 No. 1 hits in a career spanning five decades.

She has won two Grammys and written several books, including "Coal Miner's Daughter," which was made into a movie that earned Sissy Spacek an Oscar for her performance as the singer.

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Justin Bieber, Christina Augilera to peform at AMAs

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 04:59 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Justin Bieber and Christina Aguilera will be among the artists taking the stage at the 2011 American Music Awards, Dick Clark Productions president and executive producer Orly Anderson announced Monday.

''Baby'' singer Bieber and ''The Voice'' coach Aguilera will be joined by Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5, along with previously announced performers Katy Perry and Pitbull.

Aguilera will join her ''Voice'' colleague, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, to perform their collaboration ''Moves Like Jagger,'' the announcement states.

Dick Clark Productions didn't elaborate on the specifics of Bieber's performance, though chances are good that it will involve meticulously arranged bangs and hyperventilating tweeners.

The 2011 American Music Awards will air from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre L.A. Live! on ABC, Sunday Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

This year's festivities will also include a pre-ceremony show, ''Countdown to the American Music Awards,'' at 7 p.m. ET/PT. An online countdown show, ''Coca-Cola Red Carpet LIVE! @ the 2011 AMAs,'' will stream live on the Internet at 2:00 p.m., PT/ 5:00 p.m., ET. Lance Bass, Michael Buckley, Estelle, Sarah Hyland, Josh Sussman and Xzibit will host.

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