Isnin, 7 November 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Berlusconi faces crunch vote, pressure to quit


ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, under massive pressure to resign, faces a crucial vote on public finances in parliament on Tuesday which could sink his government if enough party rebels desert him.

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gestures during a news conference at the end of the G20 Summit in Cannes November 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

Berlusconi has denied reports that his resignation is imminent as he struggles to hold his centre-right coalition together, but the increased political uncertainty in Italy has added to turmoil in Europe, hitting global markets on Monday.

Chances of defeat in the vote seem to be receding because the centre-left opposition may abstain to highlight Berlusconi's lack of support, without hindering the essential ratification of 2010's public accounts.

However, the opposition is preparing a subsequent no-confidence motion that could be held within days.

Yields on Italy's 10-year bonds touched their highest since 1997 at 6.67 percent on Monday, a level seen as unsustainable for Italy's massive debt and which could spiral out of control.

Italy has the third biggest economy in the euro zone and its debt worries are a huge threat in the wider crisis facing the continent's single currency.

Berlusconi's failure to adopt reforms swiftly to defuse the debt crisis has fuelled dissent within his party, though estimates vary widely over how many centre-right deputies will jump ship in the key vote in the lower house due at 1430 GMT.

The 75-year-old prime minister spent the weekend trying to win back the support of enough deputies to avoid humiliating defeat in the vote, which he has already lost once.

If he is defeated again, Berlusconi could either resign immediately or be ordered by President Giorgio Napolitano to call a confidence vote.


Berlusconi reiterated his determination to continue at the helm of the government on Monday even though several people close to him, including Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, have said they believe he no longer has a majority.

"We will carry on, we have to be ready to fight because a new unelected government including the left would be the opposite of democracy," Berlusconi posted on his Facebook page on Monday evening.

European equity markets pared losses on Monday following talk that the prime minister was close to resigning, indicating how much markets would welcome his departure.

Italy's government bond prices would recover and the yield spreads would narrow by a full percentage point if the government fell, according to a Reuters survey of 10 fund managers last week.

But even if he goes, there is uncertainty about how Italy can tackle its crisis. Berlusconi and his Northern League allies have insisted the only alternative to him is an election early next year, likely to push back reforms even further.

The possibility of a national unity or technocrat government, preferred by markets, is opposed by Berlusconi and League leaders whose parliamentary support may be needed for it to function.

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Ex-central banker front-runner to become Greek PM


ATHENS (Reuters) - A former deputy head of the European Central Bank emerged on Monday as frontrunner to become Greek prime minister, as party leaders bargained over who will lead a "100-day coalition" to push through a bailout before the nation runs out of money.

Lucas Papademos adjusts his headphones during a meeting in Vienna May 14, 2009. (REUTERS/Herwig Prammer/Files)

Under EU pressure, an unaccustomed spirit of compromise seeped into Greek politics as the top parties haggled over the jobs in a government which will run Greece only until early elections in February.

A source at the opposition conservatives said they accepted socialist Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos could stay in his job at a time of national crisis, but said nothing had been agreed yet on who should lead the unity government.

European Union leaders want Greece to form the coalition quickly and push the 130 billion-euro bailout through parliament, for the sake of a nearly bankrupt nation and to shore up confidence in the euro zone.

In Brussels, EU leaders kept up the pressure, saying Greece could get a delayed instalment of emergency funding this month from the EU and IMF -- but only if the coalition gave a written commitment to the new bailout package.

"It is essential that the entire political class is now restoring the confidence that had been lost in the Greek commitment to the EU/IMF programme," said EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn.

Greece needs the 8 billion-euro instalment, part of an original rescue package pulled together last year, to meet heavy debt repayments next month and avoid defaulting. However, lenders have held back due to a series of disputes with Athens.

Even the United States weighed in, with the White House urging Greece to move as quickly as possible to fulfil its commitments under the rescue package, as speculators pounded euro zone bond markets.


By late evening the socialist PASOK party and conservative New Democracy had still not named a new prime minister, and the opposition source refused to comment on speculation that former ECB vice president Lucas Papademos would get the job.

Talks continued and the cabinet of outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou was due to meet at 1000 GMT on Tuesday.

However, the source told Reuters that New Democracy was willing to let Venizelos stay. "The economic ministries, including finance minister Venizelos and his team, should stay for the sake of continuity," said the source, giving the first indication of who would occupy any of the cabinet posts.

New Democracy would back the 2012 budget and a bond swap plan contained in the bailout package, under which the value of banks' holdings of Greek government debt will be halved.

While the party would support the coalition, it wanted no cabinet seats itself, the source said. However, the socialists had to hand certain major ministries such as justice, defence and the interior over to non-party technocrats, he said.

Whoever leads the transitional government of national unity will have a monumental task in restoring order to a country whose chaotic economy and politics are shaking international faith in the entire euro project.

Despite the sealed lips on both sides, Papademos remained a possible frontrunner for premier. An aide said the Greek economist, who left the ECB last year, had arrived in Athens on Monday from the United States where he is a Harvard academic.

Outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou has been in touch with Papademos, a senior government official told reporters. "The prime minister had several telephone contacts with Mr Papademos in the last days," the official said.

Papademos oversaw the nation's adoption of the euro in 2002 as Bank of Greece governor before moving to the ECB, and is a well-known figure in European capitals.

Another possible candidate emerged on Monday. European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros, who handles complaints against EU institutions, said he had been approached to become a possible candidate to lead the coalition and might be ready to "contribute" under certain conditions.

Greek media also raised a third possible candidate, the country's envoy to the IMF, Panagiotis Roumeliotis, a former socialist economy minister.


Greeks worry that any new premier will struggle merely to get Papandreou's socialist PASOK party and New Democracy to work together. "I'm afraid the new government will very soon turn out to be problematic," conservative former finance minister Stefanos Manos told Reuters.

"The new prime minister will ... not give the impression that he is in charge. Everyone will be looking to the two party leaders who will be running things behind the scenes," he said, adding: "The civil service won't implement any decision and everyone will be waiting for the election."

At least the two parties agreed on the likely lifespan of the coalition, deciding in the early hours of Monday morning that Feb. 19 would be the preferred date for an election.

Papandreou, who sealed his fate last week with a shortlived attempt to call a referendum on the bailout, will stand down when the new government takes over, under a deal sealed with New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday.

Greeks have suffered immensely in the two years that Papandreou has run the country. International lenders have demanded wave after wave of pay and pension cuts, plus tax increases and job losses in return for emergency aid. This has helped to keep Greece in four successive years of recession.

The Communist PAME labour group will hold a rally in Athens on Nov. 10 to oppose a new government which it said "has the task to save the monopolies and crush the popular movement".

"They want to vote through the new bailout... which will leave Greek people with their hands tied for many years."

Greek bank shares, the country's best benchmark of market sentiment with the government shut out of bond markets, rose 3 percent on the coalition deal.

A new coalition would be sworn in and hold a confidence vote within a week if all goes to plan, the government says.

Many Greeks remained sceptical about a coalition tasked with imposing more austerity to tackle a huge budget deficit.

"Hurrah, we are saved!" said plumber George Vihos sarcastically. "Why should we celebrate now that they will make sure we bear the pain?"

Papandreou had sought the referendum to show that harsh cuts demanded in the bailout had public support, but the risk that a "no" vote could bring about a sudden bankruptcy caused mayhem in markets, anger in Europe and rebellion in the ruling party.

He soon ditched the idea and won a confidence vote in parliament, but only after promising to make way for the national unity coalition.

(Additional reporting by Harry Papachristou and George Georgiopoulos, Reuters Brusssels bureau; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Andrew Roche)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Socialist tries to gain points in Spanish election debate


REUTERS - Spain's Socialist candidate for prime minister, lagging badly in polls, tried to paint his conservative rival as a threat to the welfare state in a televised debate on Monday that was not expected to save the Socialists from a Nov. 20 election rout.

Spain's sky-high unemployment rate and the euro zone crisis dominated the only scheduled debate between centre-right People's Party leader Mariano Rajoy, expected to win the election by a wide margin, and Socialist Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, candidate for Spain's ruling Socialists, the PSOE, poses before a televised debate with Mariano Rajoy, leader of Spain's centre-right opposition People's Party (Partido Popular), in Madrid November 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Juan Medina)

The PP's lead is so large, 17 percentage points according to two polls, that Rubalcaba's only hope in the debate was to generate fear over Rajoy's economic plans to try to keep him from getting a likely absolute majority in Parliament.

"If you tell people the plans you have in your head, not even your own party members will vote for you," said Rubalcaba, attacking Rajoy for not giving voters enough detail on plans to drastically cut spending.

Rajoy is widely expected to implement deep austerity measures if he wins the election, to cut Spain's public deficit as the euro zone crisis threatens to drag the country into needing a financial rescue like Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

In the debate Rajoy pledged not to freeze pensions but Rubalcaba failed to draw him on where he would make cuts.


"The impact of the debate is going to be rather low... We didn't see much new," said Ismael Crespo, head of the department of political communications at the Ortega Maranon Foundation.

"Rubalcaba tried to put in doubt the PP programme... to show it was a hidden programme... while Rajoy tried to show that Rubalcaba is part of the administration that has put Spain in the crisis."

Rubalcaba, who stepped down as interior minister to lead the Socialists in the campaign, said if he won the election he would be cautious about spending cuts and find ways to stimulate the stagnant economy by taxing the rich.

"Why didn't you do it earlier... your tax on the rich?" countered Rajoy, also a former interior minister.

Rubalcaba has struggled to differentiate himself from unpopular Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, after working in his government for seven years.

"There are five million Spaniards who want to work and can't," Rajoy repeated several times in the debate, attacking the Socialists for mishandling the economic crisis.

One in five workers in Spain is jobless, the highest unemployment rate in the European Union.

The face-to-face did not include candidates from smaller parties, such as United Left, and the format, without questions from moderator Manuel Campo Vidal, a well-known journalist, left little room for surprises.

Rajoy, who lost two previous general elections against Zapatero, is generally considered an uncharismatic politician and his restrained campaign has benefited from the Socialists' mistakes.

However, snap polls after the debate showed him as the debate winner. In a Metroscopia poll for left-leaning newspaper El Pais 46 percent said they saw Rajoy as the winner while 41 percent thought Rubalcaba had won.

In interviews for state television, the editors of Spain's large newspapers said they thought Rajoy had won the face-off.

Nevertheless, some commentators criticised Rajoy for reading from his notes during the debate in which each of the two candidates were given blocks of time to speak and answer each other.

"A politician should be able to speak for three minutes without looking at his papers," said Julian Santamaria, professor in political sciences at the Complutense University in Madrid.

Rubalcaba repeatedly asked Rajoy to clarify aspects of the PP manifesto, including whether he would drop his opposition to Spain's gay marriage law.

(Additional reporting by Iciar Reinlein; Editing by Fiona Ortiz)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Bittersweet beauty

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 04:36 AM PST

Anugerah Skrin 2011 posted a night of pleasant surprises for comedian/director Sabri Yunus' telemovie Sanggul Beracun.

IT was a night full of surprises and glamour at the latest edition of TV3's Anugerah Skrin, an awards night established in 1994 to celebrate the best in local TV, broadcast and film. This year's event was held at PWTC in Kuala Lumpur last Friday.

Of all the stories of the Anugerah Skrin night, the biggest surprise came when actor/comedian-turned-director Sabri Yunus bagged the best director (drama) award for his directorial debut in the telemovie entitled Sanggul Beracun.

The Kelantan-born Sabri's contenders for the coveted best director (drama) award included Erma Fatimah (Airmata Nur Salina), Jamal Khan (Masihkah Ada Sinar), Rashid Sibir (Janji Syurga) and Haris Kadir (Yang Terpuji). It was a tough fight.

Sanggul Beracun, boasting big names such as Erra Fazira and Namron, was also named best drama, beating the other equally strong contenders such as Airmata Nur Salina, Masihkah Ada Sinar, Janji Syurga and Iqra.

As bleak as it sounds, Sanggul Beracun is a heartfelt tale. It tells the story of disfigured Siti Aminah (Erra) who was abandoned by her own mother. If that's not enough, Siti had to face heart-wrenching challenges and prejudices while she was growing up.

Her quest for beauty is tempered by the black arts in this drama.

The affable Sabri, 50, who is popularly known for his role as Wan Ismail in the popular sitcom Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu and a string of dramas and theatre productions, said that he was shocked that his telemovie grabbed the accolades and was well received.

"This telemovie (Sanggul Beracun) is my first attempt at directing. Honestly, to be nominated at Anugerah Skrin is already an honour ... let alone to win awards!" said Sabri whose drama also took home the best screenplay (drama) and best videography awards respectively.

"As you can see, I'm speechless with this award (best director). Seriously! Now looking back, I should have started directing a long time ago," he said with a broad smile. Sabri also had a role in Sanggul Beracun.

He further explained that he started writing the script for Sanggul Beracun after hearing the popular folk tale about a woman named Siti Aminah in Kota Tinggi, Johor, whose life was filled by mystery and murder. Sabri left out the horror elements for his story.

"The hardship and struggles were as far as my story is based on the Siti Aminah myth. The rest is my own creation and yes, I had Erra Fazira in my mind when I was writing the script. But then again, who am I to get Erra in my first ever telemovie? I'm glad she agreed!

"In fact, I also picked an establish director to direct the drama since I don't have any experience in directing. All my previous work was in scriptwriting and directing comedy sketches and stage shows. However, my production manager told me that I should try to direct the drama as I wrote the script ... so I went ahead and helmed it."

Despite Erra not winning the best actress (drama) award, Sabri remains proud of her performance in Sanggul Beracun.

"When I came here tonight, I was really hoping that Erra would win. First and foremost, because she is really a good actress and she gave me much more that I expected from her in the Siti Aminah role.

"I'm happy with the awards picked up by Sanggul Beracun but I'm also disappointed because Erra didn't win," said Sabri who is now writing a telefilm based on the award-winning novel Hari-Hari Terahir Seorang Seniman by Anwar Ridhwan.

Datin Paduka Umie Aida bagged the best actress (drama) award for Airmata Nur Salina.

Another big winner for the night was the romantic comedy movie Cun which bagged the best director award for Osman Ali, best actor (film) for Remy Ishak and best supporting actress (film) for Nadia Nisaa.

Osman, who looked flabbergasted, said he came to the Anugerah Skrin awards with zero expectations. "My movie Cun is a light-hearted offering and it spins a breezy human relationship tale. I always thought that most of the nominees (for the film category) normally carry serious and heavy issues. Personally, I was already very honoured that we were short-listed. But now that we actually won something for the movie, I'm just extremely grateful to those who supported us!" said Osman, whose previous film works include Anak Halal, Puaka Tebing Biru and Bukak Api.

At 29, Remy Ishak is as modest as they come. He felt that his best actor (film) award was a bit too early in his young career.

Most expected Remy to win an award with his role as Adam in the highly popular drama series-turned-movie Nur Kasih. However, the Malacca-born actor won the award via his role as the simple kampung boy Atan in Cun.

"I owe this win to Osman Ali because the Atan role (in Cun) is different from any other roles I have played so far. Mention must also be made to the Cun production crew, who helped me a lot," said Remy.

Remy, who looked flamboyant on the night, is keeping is feet on the ground.

"I'm so new in this industry and to win such a big award was never on my mind. Honestly, when I came here tonight, I just wanted to be a part of such a great event. I knew I was nominated but I didn't expect to win at all. Nevertheless, now I have to work harder to improve my acting skills," he added.

Siti Sharizah, or better known as Eja, won the best actress (for film) award with her movie Janin.

Umie Aida's stirring role as Salina in Airmata Nur Salina meant that she took home the best actress award (drama), while actor Eman Manan walked away with the best actor (drama) award for Janji Syurga. As far as the industry critics and fans are concerned, Umie Aida and Eman were the right picks.

Other major winners for the night were veteran actor Sidek Hussin, who won best supporting actor (movie) for his role in Karak while the whimsical award-winning Magika was named as best film.

For the third year running, it was the Anugerah Yasmin Ahmad award that the audience were most eager about. This award, which honours consistent and outstanding industry contributions, went to actor-director Shamsul Yusof for his work in film and TV. Among the presenters at Anugerah Skrin were Awie Wings, Rosyam Noor, Aaron Aziz, Farid Kamil, Scha Al Yahya, Datin Paduka Umie Aida, Shaheizy Sam and Zahiril Adzim. Co-hosted by Ally Iskandar and Rozita Che Wan, the awards show was aired live on TV3.

List of winners


Best Drama: Sanggul Beracun

Best Director: Sabri Yunus (Sanggul Beracun)

Best Actor: Eman Manan (Janji Syurga)

Best Actress: Datin Paduka Umie Aida (Airmata Nur Salina)

Best Supporting Actor: Faizal Yusof (Jangan Hantar Aku Ke Neraka)

Best Supporting Actress: Elfira Loy (Kum Kum)

Best Screenplay: Sabri Yunus (Sanggul Beracun)

Best Drama Series: Juvana

Best Comedy Drama: Geng Surau

Best Videography: Sanggul Beracun


Best Film: Magika

Best Actor: Remy Ishak (Cun)

Best Actress: Siti Shahriza (Janin)

Best Supporting Actor: Sidek Hussin (Karak)

Best Supporting Actress: Nadia Nisaa (Cun)

Best Screenplay: Erhan Baharudin / Sujin Lee (Aku Tak Bodoh)

In-house Production Category

Best Documentary or Magazine: Yuen Yuet Leng (Suatu Ketika Ep. 12)

Best Talk Show: Selami Jiwa Dato' Fadzillah Kamsah

Best Musical Show: Shout Awards 2010

Best Entertainment Show: Maharaja Lawak Akhir

Best Reality Show: Showdown 2011 (Top 12 Show)

Best News/Special Report: Pengemis Terhormat (Buletin Utama)

Yasmin Ahmad Award: Shamsul Yusof

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With bated breath

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 03:08 PM PST

Cliffhangers have varying effects on our resident coach potatoes.

WHEN Lorelai slept with her ex-boyfriend Christopher after a particularly heated argument with her fiance Luke Danes on the season six finale of Gilmore Girls, I was distressed. What was she thinking?

Sure, Luke had been acting like an insensitive jerk for a couple of months but why did Lorelai have to jump into bed with Christopher? Why? Why? Why? Was this the end of Luke and Lorelai? I mean, come on! It only took a painful five seasons for the two to hook up (even though everyone in Sleepy Hollow – and all us fans – knew they were meant for each other). Why did Lorelai have to screw it up? Bummer.

What a reaction, huh? Well, good cliffhangers are supposed to elicit strong reactions so that viewers want to tune in to watch what ensues in the following season.

In the case of the Gilmore Girls, it worked. I think I went through the five (or is it seven?) stages of grief. I cried (out of frustration). I refused to go out (yes, I can be quite dramatic) and was morose for a few days (ok, my colleague Mumtaj says I moped for weeks, making her life miserable). I couldn't wait to see what would happen to Luke and Lorelai in the next season and I secretly hoped, she would hide it from Luke and all would be well. After all, couples hide things from each other all the time, right?

Despite my almost extreme reaction, the Gilmore Girls cliffhanger isn't my all-time favourite. It was pretty good but it didn't leave me reeling. No, really.

For the longest time, the mystery about who shot J.R. Ewing (Dallas, season two) was regarded as the greatest TV cliffhanger ever. It became, in fact, the measure of a good cliffhanger. I was too young at the time to have watched Dallas, so I will leave it to my senior Ann Marie to expound on this one (egad, she might just throw me off a cliff!). Judging from all I've read though, it was a kick-a*& ending, probably way ahead of its time.

But my best cliffhanger? The Sopranos of course (I know, I keep bringing up The Sopranos all the time, but I can't help it: it is the best TV series of all time). So, how do you draw the curtain on an epic like The Sopranos?

The series had such a cult following that even before the final season began, fans were waiting with bated breath for an ending that would justify eight years (six seasons) and 86 episodes of masterful storytelling.

Series creator David Chase knew he had to deliver and so he wrote the final episode himself – it apparently took two years to write. The entire last episode was a finely crafted goodbye.

Let's do a quick re-cap of season six: it begins with Tony being shot by Uncle Junior (now senile). Tony is injured badly and drifts in and out of a coma. When he recovers, he vows to be a better man. And then, life happens.

Old problems re-surface and slowly but surely, the fabric of Tony's life starts to fall apart. A mob-war breaks out between the New Jersey and the New York crew. One by one the top guys die, save for Tony. But, we can feel the walls closing in on him.

And then we come to the last scene: Tony, his wife Carmela and his son Anthony Jr are at a diner. They're waiting for Meadow (Tony's daughter) to show up. A large part of the scene is filmed using a point-of-view shot so viewers get to see (via the camera) what Tony sees. (Spoiler alert) Each time the diner door opens, Tony looks up and we see what he sees. The camera also constantly pans to a guy sitting at the counter of the diner. The guy looks at Tony a couple of times and vice versa.

The camera then shows Meadow arriving at the diner in her car. She has trouble parking. She gets out of the car and crosses the street. The curious man at the counter gets up and heads to the restroom which is located across from where Tony is seated. The diner door opens one last time and Meadow walks in. Tony looks up at her and then .... nothing. The camera fades to black. The end.

I could not believe it. My jaw dropped. "That's it?" I whimpered. "Did Tony get shot?" Arrrrggggh. I re-watched the episode a few times, discussed the ending with fellow Sopranos fans and read online forums about the finale extensively. It took me a while to come to terms with the ending which I now feel was perfect. SI

● SO it's been a great effort on Indra's part getting me to agree to do this instalment on cliffhangers. The problem is, I can't remember any really good ones since Dallas – and even that one is a distant memory. For crying out loud, I was only in Standard Five! The problem with newer TV series is that I usually get the box-sets and watch one episode after another in quick succession, so the whole cliffhanger-suspense-strategy doesn't quite have the same effect anymore.

Sure, there was the HBO series based on George R. R. Martin's Game Of Thrones (GOT) – which ended with Ned Stark's death, a new king rising in the north as well as the Khaleesi finding a new (scaly?) hope for the future. The problem with GOT is that I'm so used to being fed my fix of television as and when I like it, I'm not sure my interest in the series will be as strong now that I've to wait till next April for Season Two.

I suppose you could call the final episode of Castle (Season Three) a cliffhanger although you know there's no way Beckett (Stana Katic, who was shot at the end of the episode) would actually die. And the fact that Castle (Nathan Fillion) revealed his secret love for her (she was unconscious by then ... or was she?) was more pathetic than anything else. I haven't gotten round to getting Season Four yet, but like all great secret television love affairs past, surely once our protagonists' true feelings are out in the open, viewers will start losing interest in them.

There've been numerous shows, I guess, which had great season finales – Star Trek: The Next Generation (when Picard got turned into a Borg and was leading them to destroy the Federation), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (when John Connor jumps forward in time to a future that's never heard of him), Buffy The Vampire Slayer (when Buffy sacrifices herself to prevent an apocalypse; like her tombstone said: She saved the world – a lot!), Fringe (when we discover Olivia has crossed over to the other side) and Lost (hey, I never finished watching Lost, so I'm going to stick with Season One which ended with Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) being taken by the Others).

Then there were those lovely series that got axed way before their due dates, which for me are kind of like cliffhangers, because they leave you wanting more ... so much more!

For instance, Pushing Daisies, the shortlived 2007 comedy drama starring Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth. Season Two of the series was meant to conclude with a huge cliffhanger. Instead, the series was cancelled and the producers nipped, tucked and added an epilogue at the end of the final episode, neatly wrapping things up (Emerson's daughter returns to him, Chuck is able to reveal that she is alive to her zany mother Lily and aunt Vivian, and Olive has fallen in love with Ned's friend and opens her own restaurant called The Intrepid Cow).

And what of Firefly? Some may say that the movie Serenity tied up any loose end the series (which abruptly came to an end after just 14 episodes) had left. Fox cancelled the show because of low viewing figures apparently, but the show has developed a cult following of sorts – people who watch those 14 episodes over and over, hoping that someday in the future, space cowboys and hookers will come back into style again.

There was also the Twin Peaks' unresolved cliffhanger. But once again, it was so long ago I can hardly remember what transpired! Dang, who actually killed Laura Palmer? I can't remember!

Since we're on the subject of those question-catchphrase-slogans that proved effective marketing campaigns for TV shows (you know the kind great T-shirts are made of), I guess we have to take some time to reminisce about the most famous of them all: Who shot J.R.?

Dallas made its debut in 1978 as a five-part miniseries on the CBS network, and then was subsequently broadcast for 13 seasons from 1978 to 1991, becoming America's hottest primetime series at the time. It's no wonder it is included in Time magazine's 2007 list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-Time".

It was a slick soap opera depicting the private and public lives of the dysfunctional Ewing family.

J.R. (Larry Hagman played the eldest son of patriarch millionaire Texas oilman Jock Ewing) was the character millions of addicted viewers loved to hate – who had a way of getting whatever he wanted). Try and remember the theme music and it'll all start slowing coming back to you.

If you remember those days, you'll remember what a huge ruckus was caused when JR was shot on the show by a mysterious assailant. That was the burning question on nearly everyone's mind in 1980.

That cliffhanger generated so much publicity and response that during the 1980 United States presidential election, it was rumoured that the Republicans distributed campaign buttons that claimed "A Democrat shot JR"!

And so if you really want to know, I had to google it because I honestly couldn't remember. But the fact of the matter is that Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby), JR's scheming sister-in-law and mistress, was the one who pulled the trigger because she was pregnant with his child as a result of their affair. Of course, later on it was revealed that the whole season had been just a dream! – AMC

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

S.Korea Oct retail data adds to economic gloom

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 06:11 PM PST

SEOUL, Nov 8 (Reuters) Consumer spending in South Korea weakened in October, data released on Tuesday showed, at a time when softening global demand has already clouded the export outlook for Asia's fourthlargest economy.

Sales at department stores run by South Korea's top three chain operators grew 3.8 percent in October from a year earlier, the slowest pace since a 3.6 percent gain in June 2009, the finance ministry said.

Gasoline sales volume fell 1.4 percent in October from a year before while sales of locally produced automobiles dipped 8.8 percent in volume yearoveryear, the ministry said in a monthly report.

The data came before the country's central bank is due to review its interest rate policy on Friday, when many analysts expect the Bank of Korea to hold the rate for a fifth consecutive month in the face of sputtering economic growth.

The central bank estimated late last month the exportdependent economy slowed for a second consecutive quarter in the JulySeptember period as companies curtailed investment amid tepid global demand.

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Samsung SDI, Bosch win EV battery deal from India's Mahindra

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 06:10 PM PST

Published: Tuesday November 8, 2011 MYT 10:10:00 AM

SEOUL, Nov 8 (Reuters) South Korea's Samsung SDI , the world's No.1 rechargeable battery maker, said on Tuesday its joint venture with Germany's Robert Bosch would supply lithiumion batteries for Mahindra & Mahindra's electric cars.

The 5050 joint venture SB LiMotive will supply batteries for Mahinda's first hybrid SUV model from 2013, Samsung said in a statement.

SB LiMotive was chosen to develop EV batteries with U.S. car makers including GM and Ford and already has a lithiumion battery supply deal for Chrysler Group's upcoming electric vehicle, the Fiat 500EV.

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Australia trade surplus up strongly for Q3

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 06:08 PM PST

SYDNEY, Nov 8 (Reuters) Australia's trade surplus narrowed in September as gold shipments took one of their periodic dips, but it was still the fifth highest surplus on record and rounded out a strong quarter of exports for the resourcerich country.

Tuesday's data showed a surplus on goods and services of A$2.56 billion ($2.6 billion) in September, down from A$2.95 billion in August and below of market expectations.

Yet the surplus for the whole third quarter still rose a hefty A$1.5 billion to A$7.8 billion, a tide of cash that is underpinning investment in the booming mining industry.

"That's a very good improvement for the quarter and, since a lot of it seems to have been in export volumes, should have made make a useful contribution to economic growth," said Stephen Roberts, a senior economist at Nomura.

Other figures out from National Australia Bank showed business confidence picked up in October as firms anticipated a cut in interest rates, which was duly delivered by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) last week.

Financial markets are almost fully priced for another cut in rates to 4.25 percent in December, though most analysts think the central bank will prefer to wait a little longer to asses the flow of domestic news.

"We have tentatively assumed that the RBA will cut by 25 points again in February on the basis that core inflation should remain subdued," said NAB chief economist Alan Oster.

"However, another cut is by no means certain, particularly if activity and employment are showing signs of strength in early 2012," he added.

Australia's trade performance has been one such area of strength as Asian demand for resources like iron ore and coal led to high prices and record export earnings.

Thus while exports fell 2.5 percent in September, that followed a jump of 8.8 percent the month before and still left them up almost 17 percent on September 2010.

For the third quarter, exports of A$70.4 billion were 13 percent higher than the same period last year. China alone took 28 percent of those exports, while the European Union and United States combined accounted for just 10 percent.

Imports also fell by 1.3 percent in September, as a drop in petrol and cars offset the purchase of civil aircraft.


Export earnings may have peaked for now given spot prices for iron ore have tumbled in recent weeks as Chinese steel mills stepped back from the market.

One measure of iron ore prices slid 35 percent over September and October to a low of $116.90 a tonne, before bouncing somewhat to $125.

The reversal dragged down the RBA's measure of Australian commodity prices from record highs in September and October, though it was still up 19 percent on the year.

The central bank last week acknowledged this was likely the start of a longawaited pullback in the country's terms of trade.

"Indeed the recent significant falls in the price of iron ore suggest that the decline could be happening a little faster than earlier expected," the RBA noted in its quarterly review of the economic outlook.

Still, the bank remains optimistic that commodity demand from the industrialising billions in China and India will run for years to come and expected the terms of trade to stay at very high levels compared with recent decades.

Australia's major resource companies are just as optimistic and are pouring massive sums into expansion projects.

Deloitte Access Investment Monitor estimates a record 935 investment projects are planned or under way worth $894 billion, equal to a staggering 69 percent of Australia's A$1.3 trillion in annual economic output.

Of these, 14 were multiyear projects worth more than A$10 billion and five over A$30 billion, making them relatively resilient to shortterm swings in global growth.

All this spending is set to greatly boost export volumes of iron ore, coal and liquefied natural gas, where the country is on course to be the secondlargest exporter of LNG by 2015.

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Williams apologises in person for racist comment - Woods (update)

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 06:31 PM PST

SYDNEY, Nov 8 (Reuters) - American Tiger Woods had a face-to-face meeting with his former caddie Steve Williams in Sydney on Tuesday at which the New Zealander apologised for a racist comment he made last week.

Speaking about the comment for the first time, Woods told a news conference at the Lakes Golf Club that the once firm friends had shaken hands and he now wanted to move on from the incident.

Williams said: "It was my aim to shove it up that b**** a*******"at an awards ceremony in Shanghai last Friday, explaining why he had celebrated Adam Scott's Bridgestone Invitational win in August so enthusiastically.

"We talked about it this morning, we met face-to-face, we talked it through and we have agreed it was the wrong thing to say," former world number one Woods.

"He did apologise, it was hurtful, certainly, but life goes forward."

"Stevie's certainly not racist, there's no doubt about that," Woods added. "I think it was a commemt that shouldn't have been made and certainly one that he wished he didn't make."

The New Zealander caddied for Woods from 1999 until he was sacked in acrimonius circumstances earlier this year after helping the American win 13 major titles.

"It was a tough decision to make to go in a different direction professionally," Woods recalled.

"I wasn't playing, I was injured, and I was trying to come back but I missed most of the major championships and he didn't want to miss them. That's understandable, wish I could have played them too."

Woods has slipped to number 58 in the world rankings and not bagged a title since winning the Australian Masters almost two years ago after being forced to deal with injuries and the fallout from revelations about his private life.

The 35-year-old continues his quest to end his title drought at the Australian Open this week before heading to Melbourne for next week's Presidents Cup.

Williams, who had already issued an apology to Woods on his website last Saturday, has been caddying for Australia's world number eight Scott since August.

"He obviously went with Adam," Woods said. "He's in a good spot right now. Adam's playing very well, he's just won a golf championship and professionally we've moved in different directions."

Woods said he was lost for an answer as to how their relationship had broken down so badly and indicated that there was a way to go before it was repaired.

"I don't know," he said. "It's just one of those things where we see what time does. Time does heal wounds and we'll see how it goes."

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World champion Nicol vows to keep on breaking records

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 05:20 PM PST

ROTTERDAM: The past few days have been a dream for Nicol David and she has had more than her share of priceless moments.

First, the squash legend from Pe­­nang, who has been based in Am­­sterdam since 2003, was inducted into her sport's Hall of Fame on Sa­­turday for her amazing accomplishments.

A day later, the long reigning world No. 1 created history by winning a record sixth world title - the first woman to do so in the 35-year history of the championships.

Nicol has won all the major tournaments her sport has to offer and no other Malaysian athlete comes close to matching her achievements – 56 titles and still counting.

What was really amazing is the way she played in the final, pummelling world No. 2 Jenny Duncalf of England into submission in straight sets - 11-2, 11-5, 11-0 - in just 29 minutes. Such was her domination that Duncalf simply surrendered.

The 28-year-old Nicol, who has been the world No. 1 since August 2006, said that the win over Duncalf was the pinnacle of her professional career which began in 2000.

"It was my best performance to date. I didn't want anyone else, but me, to put their hands on the trophy," she said.

"Winning was great and the record means the world to me," said Nicol, who surpassed the previous milestone of five titles she jointly held with her mentor, Australian Sarah FitzGerald.

But far from being satisfied, Nicol is hungry for even more success and plans to play on for another five to seven years. That is bad news for her rivals.

"I hope to stay injury-free and win many more tournaments. Per­haps even a few more world titles so that nobody can overhaul my record," she said with a glint in her eye.

Nicol's 56 Wispa titles put her level with former world champion Michelle Martin of Australia. She now wants to beat FitzGerald's record of 62 to seal her reputation as the best player in the history of the game.

That should be a breeze if Nicol keeps playing like she did in Rotter­dam. And given her insatiable appetite for records, it will be some time yet before the final chapter of the Nicol David legend is written.

"Winning always feels good. But the pressure is mounting as there are several young players beginning to make their mark. The Egyptian girls have plenty of potential and are a real threat," said Nicol.

"I have to work two to three times harder to stay on top. I will continue training in Amsterdam under coach Liz Irving as it has been a highly successful arrangement.

Nicol's only regret is that she will not be able to add an Olympic gold medal to her impressive collection of trophies.

"It's a pity that the IOC (Inter­na­tion­al Olympic Committee) have not deem­ed it fit to include squash in the Games," lamented Nicol, who won the world junior title in 1999 and 2001.

She has also won the World Games title twice - Duisburg, Germany, in 2005, and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 2009 - and bagged three British Open titles - in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

Nicol is the first Malaysian to win the Commonwealth Games squash gold medal - at New Delhi last year - and has won eight Asian championships and three Asian Games -1998, 2006 and last year - gold medals.

She has also won the Wispa's Player of the Year award five times since 2006.

That is a giddy list of achievements by any standard and Nicol is taking a well-deserved break after her Rotter­dam high. She is going on a Roman holiday with her parents Desmond and Mary Ann.

"My parents have never been to Rome and I need a rest after winning the world title," said Nicol, whose next last assignment of the year is the Hong Kong Open starting on Nov 15.

She will be gunning for another record in Hong Kong too – her sixth consecutive title.

Nicol's male counterpart, Nick Matthew also lived up to his top ranking in the world championships. Matthew beat Gregory Gaultier of France 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 to win the crown for the second time on Sunday.

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Future in Zul’s hands

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 05:20 PM PST

SEPANG: There could be many interferences and obstructions but the future of newly-crowned junior world badminton champion Zulfadli Zulkifli is in his own hands.

Yesterday, the 18-year-old decided to stay faithful to his father cum fulltime coach Zulkifli Sidek as he begins his journey as a senior player - aspiring to become the Olympic and world champion and natural successor to world number one Lee Chong Wei.

Some have urged Zulfadli to try a new coaching style under a new trainer to raise his game to the next level. Some have even suggested that he should join the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) banner so as to get a chance to spar with Chong Wei regularly to speed up his development.

But Zulfadli has chosen to remain an independent player for now. He confirmed that he had no immediate plans to move his training base or switch allegiance to another mentor.

"I am fine with my father as coach," said Zulfadli on arriving home to a hero's welcome at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) yesterday. "Afterall, he has coached me all my life. I owe all my success so far to my father. I am confident he can steer me to the pinnacle at senior level as well.

"Of course, things will have to change. I will have to increase the intensity of training to cope with the more demanding challenges in the world of the big boys," added Zulfadli, who was born in Los Angeles while his father was a coach with the United States Olympic badminton team from 1991-1992.

Zulfadli, currently ranked a lowly 207 in the rankings, defeated defending champion and world No. 43 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark on Sunday to become the country's first junior world champion in the sport.

His 53-year-old father, a former coaching director with the National Sports Council (MSN), said he would have to chart a new course for his eldest son.

"I am happy to be his personal coach. It is a dream come true seeing him scale the heights and do the nation proud. I am not boasting but I have the necessary credentials and knowledge to take him to the very top," he said.

Zulkifli said that early exposure to international tournaments and sparring with many top players had benefitted Zulfadli. He thanked their sponsors - especially professional club KLRC - for having faith and taking a gamble with a young talent like Zulfadli.

"Zulfadli was 11 years old when he took part in his first junior international tournament. By 13, he had already won several titles. All that exposure gave him an edge," said Zulkifli.

Sparring sessions with his KLRC team-mates - former national players Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Wong Choong Hann, Tan Chun Seang and international shuttler Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam - prior to the world junior meet obviously did him a world of good. As did the month-long centralised programme with the BAM players and quality matches with the national back-up team.

"There's nothing wrong in Zulfadli enjoying the best of both worlds. He can still be an independent player and spar with those in the national set–up," said dad.

"I hope BAM will let my son train at least twice a week with Chong Wei. Zulfadli will progress a lot faster and the country will surely benefit from this. We can have grand plans but it all depends on Zulfadli. His future is in his hands," he said.

BAM president Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh said they would look into the request for Zulfadli to spar with Chong Wei regularly as he believed in an amicable partnership among all the stakeholders in the game.

"Chong Wei has his own schedule and plans. But this is something we can look into because the future of badminton and the interest of the nation come first," said Nadzmi.

"We also hope that Zulfadli will look into the option of training under different coaches. The challenges will get bigger and it is important that Zulfadli is managed in the right way."

But as dad Zulkifli said, Zulfadli will be the master of his own fate.

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'Puss in Boots' surprises with second box office win

Posted: 06 Nov 2011 09:43 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Animated film "Puss in Boots" held on to the domestic box office crown with a surprisingly strong second weekend performance that beat new Eddie Murphy comedy "Tower Heist."

"Puss in Boots" brought in $33.0 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters to finish first in the weekend box office race, according to studio estimates released on Sunday. "Tower Heist," which was favored to win going into the weekend, took second place with $25.1 million.

Another new comedy, "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas," earned third place with $13.1 million.

"Puss in Boots" was produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, released "Tower Heist." Time Warner unit Warner Bros. distributed "Harold & Kumar."

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Scorsese embraces early cinema and 3D tech in 'Hugo'

Posted: 06 Nov 2011 05:09 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - This was supposed to be a weekend when ground zero for Southern California movie lovers was Hollywood, site of the AFI Fest.

But Martin Scorsese exerts a gravitational pull all his own. So on Saturday afternoon, the action shifted to downtown Los Angeles for a couple of hours, where the Regal multiplex drew nearly 1,000 fans and industryites eager for a look at Scorsese's 3D adventure ''Hugo,'' which had previously screened only in a work-in-progress version at the New York Film Festival.

Throw in a post-screening Q&A with Scorsese, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, production designer Dante Ferretti, cinematographer Robert Richardson, composer Howard Shore and visual effects superviser Robert Legato, moderated by director Paul Thomas Anderson, and you had a three-hour slice of movie nirvana (plus 39 Oscar nominations and a dozen wins on one stage).

And in a way, movie nirvana is what ''Hugo'' aims to be. An adaptation of ''The Invention of Hugo Cabret,'' a children's book by Brian Selznick, in Scorsese's hands it is less a children's story than a knowing and glorious tribute to early cinema from a master moviemaker who also happens to be a master movie-lover.

The film will be an odd duck to market: It's partly an adventure tale about a kid who lives in a huge Paris train station, and partly a (fictionalized) story about the silent film pioneer Georges Melies (played by a marvelous Ben Kingsley).

Not a kids' movie, not an art film, not a typical Scorsese effort and not necessarily an Academy movie (more on that in a minute), ''Hugo'' is instead a big shiny ball of imagination, invention and cinematic wonder.

And a few hours after the downtown screening, a big room full of folks who presumably love the movies gave ''Hugo'' their own stamp of approval. The film had its official Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screening Saturday night - and according to a couple of members in attendance, the response was extremely positive, with sustained applause and a strong buzz in the room afterward.

(Attendance, though, was not as high as it had been for some other recent Academy screenings, including ''The Help'' and ''Moneyball.'')

Back at the downtown screening earlier in the day, Scorsese was introduced by Anderson as ''the heavyweight champ.'' The director used some of the 40-minute Q&A to detail the intricacies of filming in 3D, which he said was ''arduous but most of the time a good deal of fun.''

Shooting in 3D slowed down his usual workflow, Scorsese said, though he and Schoonmaker ended up editing the film switching between 3D and 2D monitors,. He dismissed worries about the move toward 3D, and said that the technology is ''just another element to tell a story.''

And, he added, it'll likely be followed by more and newer elements.

''We're all headed, if everything moves along and there's no major catastrophes, we're basically headed toward holograms,'' Scorsese said. ''Why can't you have (a) 3D (movie where) Hamlet comes out into the middle of the audience and does 'to be or not to be?' They do in the theater. Why can't you have it in a movie theater, or at home?''

In the meantime, he said, he's simply using the tools that are now available to deliver what moviegoers always wanted to see.

''The first time images started to move, immediately people wanted color, sound, big screen and depth,'' he said. ''And that's just what we're doing now.''

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Eastwood, DiCaprio unveil top-cop biopic 'J. Edgar'

Posted: 06 Nov 2011 05:01 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Clint Eastwood's ''J. Edgar'' is no longer stamped Top Secret.

The movie, whose intended debut at the Carmel Film Festival in October was hampered by power outages, had a couple of high-profile Los Angeles unveilings in recent days.

The first, its official premiere, took place Thursday night, where Eastwood's biography of the controversial FBI director was the opening-night attraction at the AFI Fest in Hollywood.

The following night, ''J. Edgar'' came to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for a screening and post-film Q&A with Eastwood, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer.

''J. Edgar'' is a classic biopic, big and old-fashioned and a little lumbering. It has weight and gravity, with a spirited central performance by DiCaprio all but certain to receive recognition from Oscar voters - but it's also a commercial gamble, a film unlikely to engage young moviegoers and one that certainly isn't a slam-dunk Best Picture nominee.

At the LACMA screening Friday, the film was greeted with raucous applause; the audience at the Bing Theater gave Eastwood a standing ovation when he walked onstage for a Q&A that was part of the New York Times' Times Talk series.

Discussing the film with the Times' Charles McGrath, Eastwood was typically matter-of-fact: ''I just have grown up with J. Edgar Hoover as the top cop - I thought it'd be very interesting.''

On the casting of DiCaprio: ''Leo called up and said 'I'd like to play that guy,' and that sounded great. The studio certainly didn't object.''

Eastwood and Black also said they found parallels between the anti-Bolshevik frenzy of 1919-20, which in Hoover's case turned into a lifelong paranoia over communism, and the post-9/11 atmosphere in the United States.

''I think there are Hoovers out there today,'' said Black (''Milk''). ''If it doesn't speak to today, there's no point in making it.''

DiCaprio said he found the character to be ''a crock-pot of eccentricities'': Hoover lived with his mother until he was 40, worked to overcome a stuttering problem, was obsessed with cleanliness and never married or had a serious relationship, except for the one with aide Clyde Tolson (Hammer), which may or may not have been sexual.

Eastwood's film touches lightly on some of these traits and comes down hard on others; it spends lots of time exploring Hoover's lust for celebrity and his use of the media to paint himself as the ultimate G-man, but mostly looks away from the issue of whether Hoover and Tolson were lovers.

''The story goes beyond whether they culminated (their relationship) on a sexual level,'' DiCaprio said. ''It's not really our business what happened behind closed doors.''

The problem with this reasoning, though, is that a good chunk of the movie does consist of showing us (or speculating about) what happened behind closed doors - between Hoover and his mother (Judi Dench), Hoover and his assistant (Naomi Watts) and many others. In the end, it feels squeamish to back off in front of this particular door.

At the reception afterward, reaction to the film was decided mixed, with one person saying, ''I knew nothing about the story, and I was fascinated,'' and the next calling it a missed opportunity undermined by an overly programmatic script, in which Hoover tells his life story - or runs through his greatest hits - to a succession of would-be ghost writers.

One subject that was the subject of extensive post-screening discussion was the old-age makeup that DiCaprio and Hammer wear for much of the movie. At times, particularly on Hammer, the heavy prosthetics were inevitably distracting - and DiCaprio said the process created challenges to the actors that went beyond sitting still for the five or six hours it took to apply.

''It's incredibly claustrophobic,'' said DiCaprio in the Q&A. ''You had to animate yourself in that makeup, because it tends to stiffen you as an actor.''

Hammer agreed that the process was laborious, and said he was less patient than DiCaprio - so at the post-screening reception, I reminded him that on last year's ''The Social Network,'' David Fincher used computer graphics to put Hammer's head on another actor's body so that he could play twins.

As he was sitting in the makeup chair for all those hours, I asked, was he thinking about how Fincher could have done the transformation with CGI?

''Absolutely,'' said Hammer, laughing. ''Any other director would have done it with CGI. Clint is the only guy who could get away with doing it the old- fashioned way, and it was great to surrender myself to that process.

''That's what I love about this movie: it could have been made in the '50s in black-and-white, and it probably would have looked almost exactly the same.''

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Man killed after car plunges into drain during lover’s tiff

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 06:09 AM PST

Published: Monday November 7, 2011 MYT 10:09:00 PM

KOTA KINABALU: A lover's quarrel turned tragic when a 26-year-old man died after his girlfriend lost control of the car and drove it into a 12-foot drain.

Bivian Abin died on the spot due to head injuries after in the 1.30pm Monday at Telipok, about 15km from here.

The woman was traumatised by the mishap has been admitted to hospital for chest pains, said Fire and rescue operations chief Laupen Nuar.

"She told firemen she and the boyfriend had a fight shortly before the accident occurred," he said.

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Seksualiti Merdeka not a 'free sex party', says Marina

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 05:00 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: Seksualiti Merdeka is about discussion and spreading awareness on the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) community and not a free sex party, said Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir.

Marina, who has launched the event in 2009, said she was upset with the unfair reporting by certain quarters, portraying the event as a "pesta seks bebas".

"In the past two years, the event was held without a hitch. It only discussed human rights from the LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender) community," said Marina.

She added that the event was filled with talks and activities to spread awareness on the LBGT and also sexual orientation.

She said this after police recorded statements from former Bar Council president Datuk S. Ambiga, Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez, Empower Malaysia executive director Maria Chin Abdullah, and Seksualiti Merdeka co-founder Pang Khee Teik.

All of them had their statements taken at the Tenaganita office here Monday.

Ambiga said the LBGT community is a minority that faces discrimination daily and such irresponsible reporting could cause more harm than good.

"The Mak Nyah (transexuals) are one of the minorities, who face a lot of discrimination and some of them even get beaten up for being themselves.

"I am seriously concerned that labelling them negatively can lead to them being abused more frequently," she said adding that she would take legal action if such reporting continued.

Pang said he would meet with Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar in the next three days to clarify the intentions of the event.

"We are not a perhimpunan haram (illegal gathering) or a pesta seks bebas like certain quarters have suggested," he said.

Seksualiti Merdeka, an event organised by a coalition of NGOs, artistes, activists and individuals, have described themselves as "Malaysia's only festival celebrating the human rights of people of diverse sexual orientation".

The event has been held annually since 2008, and was supposed to host a series of activities to last until Nov 13 at the Annexe Gallery of Central Market here.

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‘Monks’ rob family of goods worth RM40,000

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 04:48 AM PST

Published: Monday November 7, 2011 MYT 8:48:00 PM

SHAH ALAM: Three men disguised as monks robbed a pensioner and his family at their home in Bukit Cerakah here, escaping with goods worth at least RM40,000.

They had approached the 60-year-old man, asking for leaves from a tree for prayers before sneaking into the house minutes later at about 10.30am Monday.

Shah Alam OCPD ACP Zahedi Ayob said the victims could not do much as the culprits brandishing parangs ransacked the house.

"They took a TV set, a laptop computer, some cash and jewellery before driving of in the family car," he said.

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