Selasa, 8 November 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Italy faces limbo after Berlusconi agrees to go


ROME (Reuters) - Italy looks set for lengthy political uncertainty after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's pledge to resign, with his centre-right party calling for elections and the main opposition for a national unity government.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (L) and Northern League Party leader Umberto Bossi vote during a finance vote at the parliament in Rome November 8, 2011.(REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

After failing to secure the majority in a vote in the lower house, Berlusconi said he would quit as soon as parliament passed budget reforms urged by European partners to help Italy stave off a debt crisis that is threatening the euro zone.

"We no longer have the majority we believed we had so we need to recognise this and concern ourselves with what is happening on markets...we need to show markets we are serious," Berlusconi told Italian television by telephone.

Votes to pass the reforms in both houses of parliament are likely this month, and opposition leaders may try to bring this forward in order to end as soon as possible the flamboyant billionaire media tycoon's 17-year dominance of Italy.

Worries about the Berlusconi government's ability to implement reforms to boost Italy's sluggish growth and cut its huge debt have helped fuel a rise in Italy's borrowing costs to unsustainable levels, weighing on the euro and stock markets.

Global equity markets and the euro rose after Berlusconi's decision on hopes that a new leader will act more aggressively to tackle the crisis in the euro zone's third largest economy that is jeopardising Europe's single currency project.

The 75-year-old prime minister and his party say an election is the only realistic next step but opposition leaders have called for the formation of a national unity.


President Giorgio Napolitano said he would start consultations with all political parties after the new budget measures are approved.

When a government is defeated or resigns, it is the president's duty to appoint a new leader to try to build a majority in parliament, or to call new elections.

Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, called for the beginning of a new phase and reiterated the proposal to form a transitional government including representatives from across the political spectrum.

But members of Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party, whose support would be needed for a broad-based government, said its formation would be difficult.

"All the leaders of the PDL prefer early elections, because it's hard to imagine a government of national unity," Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini told Italian television, pointing to major disagreement among political parties.

Berlusconi and his closest allies have also said that the appointment of a government of technocrats -- an option favoured by markets and it is thought Napolitano -- would be an undemocratic "coup" that ignored the 2008 election result that brought the centre right to power.

EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Tuesday that EU inspectors are due to arrive in Rome on Wednesday to begin a monitoring mission aimed at ensuring economic reforms are carried out as part of an agreement reached at a G20 summit last week.

Even when Berlusconi goes, there is no guarantee that reforms will be quickly implemented and relief on markets may not last long.

Yields on Italy's 10-year benchmark bonds rose to 6.74 percent on Tuesday, near levels at which Portugal, Greece and Ireland were forced to seek a bailout.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Guantanamo hearing to be beamed to U.S. viewing sites


GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Members of the U.S. public will be allowed to watch a broadcast of Wednesday's arraignment hearing for a Guantanamo prisoner accused of masterminding a deadly attack on a U.S. Navy warship, but only if they can get to an army base in Maryland by Wednesday morning.

Detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in a holding area under the watchful eyes of military police during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray of Naval Base Guantanamo Bay in this January 11, 2002 file photograph. (REUTERS/Stringer/Files)

The chief judge in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal signed an order on Monday granting permission for the public to view the closed-circuit broadcast being beamed to the Fort Meade Army base in Maryland.

The order was made public late on Tuesday, giving potential viewers little notice.

Defendant Abd al Rahim al Nashiri is to be arraigned at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba on death-penalty charges that include murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and terrorism.

The 46-year-old Saudi captive is accused of conspiring with al Qaeda to launch the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Adan.

Suicide bombers detonated a boat full of explosives alongside the Cole and blew a gaping hole in its side, killing 17 U.S. sailors and wounding three dozen more.

Nashiri's hearing in the military tribunal at the remote base in eastern Cuba will be the first beamed to the United States for viewing, albeit at restricted sites.

Relatives of the dead and wounded sailors were invited to watch at a private screening at the Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia, the Cole's home port. Journalists who could not make the trip to Guantanamo for the hearing were notified earlier that they could watch it at Fort Meade.

The Guantanamo judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, granted prosecutors' request to widen the access to additional spectators "due to the serious nature of the crimes alleged and the historic significance" of the prosecution.

The hearing will be the first for Nashiri, an alleged high-level al Qaeda operative who was captured in 2002 in Dubai and held in secret CIA prisons before being sent to Guantanamo in 2006. The CIA has acknowledged subjecting him to mock executions and the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, which defense lawyers called torture.

Pentagon officials said U.S. congressional staffers planned to take advantage of the invitation to watch the hearing from Fort Meade, as did other military lawyers.

They will face the same restrictions imposed at Guantanamo, namely that they may not photograph or record any part of the proceedings.

The Guantanamo tribunals for suspected terrorists have been widely criticized as secretive and rigged to convict.

Brigadier General Mark Martins, who took over as Guantanamo's chief prosecutor six weeks ago, said the military was addressing some of those issues by making Guantanamo court documents and transcripts more readily available and through the broadcasts just announced.

"The Supreme Court has said that the people of an open society do not demand infallibility of their institutions, but it is difficult for them to accept what they cannot observe," Martins told journalists at Guantanamo. "Transparency is good, democracy requires it."

(Editing by Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Plan for technocrat to lead Greek unity govt hits snag


ATHENS (Reuters) - A plan for former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos to lead a Greek government of national unity has run into trouble, party sources said on Wednesday, prolonging political hiatus as the country heads towards bankruptcy.

Lucas Papademos, former Vice President of the European Central Bank, speaks at the Emerging from the Financial Crisis annual conference, held at Columbia University, in New York, February 20, 2009. (REUTERS/Chip East/Files)

With the Greek population and the European Union clamouring for a coalition now, a government source said it would be announced later on Wednesday -- but signalled that negotiations were far from over.

In the past two days government sources have made a number of optimistic predictions about forming the government, which must secure a 130-billion-euro ($180-billion) bailout from the euro zone, only for no deal to materialise.

The socialist and conservative parties had wanted Papademos, a Greek economist well known in European capitals, to head the new government, aiming to re-establish an international credibility that the politicians lost long ago.

But sources in both parties said this was now in doubt and the two sides were looking at other options.

"The Papademos candidacy has hit problems that have to do with both parties," one of the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.


Some Greek media reported that Papademos was setting conditions that the parties would not accept, and others that there were objections from Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, because Papademos wanted to change the government's economic team.

Greek media have mentioned parliamentary speaker Filippos Petsalnikos and socialist lawmaker Apostolos Kaklamanis as alternative premiers, but both have denied the reports that they had been picked.

Earlier, the government source said outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou would meet the Greek president at 1000 GMT on Wednesday, and the coalition would be announced the same day.

However, he also said negotiations would continue, signalling that the elusive deal on a government which is due to rule until early elections in February, had yet to be struck.

The stakes could not be higher. Greece must have a new coalition to secure the bailout, negotiate the release of emergency funds from the EU and IMF to avoid bankruptcy when big debt repayments come due next month, and safeguard its place in the euro zone.

On the other hand, the European Union needs to put out the fire in Greece to prove to international financial markets that it can tackle another blaze in Italy, a far bigger economy also heading for economic and political crisis.

To Vima news website expressed the exasperation felt by Greeks with all their political leaders, especially Papandreou and conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras.

The website evoked a national fear that Greece might lose its euro zone membership, and be cast adrift to survive alone with its old currency.

"Despite its huge defeat, our political system won't get serious at the time when the country is threatened with complete collapse, wavering between the euro and the drachma.

"Mr Papandreou and Mr Samaras agreed on Sunday on a government to save the country and are now doing whatever they can to undermine it before it even starts its work," it said.


Adding to the confusion, conservative leader Samaras became embroiled in a dispute within his New Democracy party and a related row with the European Union.

Party political sources said some New Democracy lawmakers were accusing Samaras of giving away too much, especially when he agreed to accept austerity measures in the bailout package.

Samaras had long argued that the spending cuts, tax rises and job losses imposed by the outgoing socialist government under orders from the EU and IMF had deepened Greece's crippling recession, now in its fourth year.

A New Democracy party source refused to accept the party was the main problem, but acknowledged internal divisions since Samaras staged his U-turn on the package last week, helping to open the way for Sunday's agreement in principle.

"Parts of New Democracy are causing trouble. Many party officials around Samaras don't like the way things are going," the source said on condition of anonymity.

Under pressure from party dissidents, Samaras attacked the EU for demanding written undertakings from Greece that it would stand by its promises to implement the bailout package which euro zone leaders agreed last month.

European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn made the demand, exasperated by Greece's record of making promises on tackling its huge debt and budget deficit and then falling short of fulfilling them.

Rehn singled out a decision by Papandreou last week to call a referendum on the bailout, a vote which might have seen Greeks reject the package because of the austerity measures tied to it. Papandreou backed down, but was forced into agreeing to make way for the unity coalition.


Speaking in Brussels, Rehn said Greece had breached confidence with the EU by calling the referendum. Now Brussels needed undertakings to release even the next 8-billion-euro instalment of funding for Greece under its original bailout package, pulled together last year.

"This confidence needs to be mended," said Rehn. "Finance ministers of the euro area expect that there is ... a written commitment, a written confirmation of the commitment of a broad-based government of national unity."

A government source said the EU wanted Samaras to sign, along with the new prime minister, finance minister, central bank governor and outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou.

The New Democracy response was blunt. Samaras hinted in a statement he might give no written assurances because his spoken word was enough. "It's a matter of national dignity ... I don't allow anybody to doubt my statements," he said.

(Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

The best of Asia

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:20 AM PST

While a chef needs to cook well, a celebrity chef needs to do more than that.

IT is not easy being a modern-day chef, especially if you are going to appear on television. Think you are great in the kitchen? Good for you, but that's not the complete package.

At least, that's how it works according to the newest reality cooking show to air.

Many hopefuls tried their luck in being crowned the ultimate chef on the first Asian Food Channel (AFC) reality show, Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Search For AFC's Next Celebrity Chef.

Hundreds turned up for auditions in five locations around Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines – but only 35 finalists made it through the stringent selection process.

"It's so much more than just being good in the kitchen. It's not enough to simply cook well; we are looking for someone with a warm personality, good managerial skills and is willing to be flexible, to learn and to share. We want a chef who can entertain: you don't want a chef on television who is so boring that you fall asleep or switch channels," says E&O group hospitality and lifestyle director Michael Saxon, one of the celebrity guest judges on the show. (The other two judges are AFC's chefs Anna Olson and Bruce Lim – who star in AFC's Fresh With Anna Olson and Tablescapes, respectively.

On the show, contestants were put through a series of challenges that tested their cooking abilities and how well they are able to strut their stuff on stage.

Elimination awaited them each week in the eight-part series.

"I was secretly ecstatic when I was asked to be a judge on the show. I had a great time working on it, I met many wonderful people, and I encountered many fantastic contestants who we will be honoured to hire any time. The quality of the contestants was very high," says Saxon, adding that he believes that most chefs are made, not born.

But reality cooking shows are a dime a dozen now, so what's so special about this one?

AFC co-founder and managing director Hian Goh doesn't want to divulge too much before the show's premiere, but he promises that this is a show in a league of its own. He says that they were uncompromising about looking for that well-rounded individual who could be a great leader in the kitchen, a great chef and a great spokesperson in front of the camera.

"Leave all your preconceptions behind – it's different from all the other reality cooking shows out there," he says, adding that the show was a dream come true.

"AFC has always wanted to do a reality show, so when that opportunity came, we put our heart and soul into it. This show is ambitious: it was exactly a hundred days ago that we put out a call for contestants, had auditions, filmed it and put it out there. We took a risk with many things. While some of these might go down well with the audience, other choices might come across as being rather controversial," he says.

At the end of the show, the winner will be signed on to an exclusive one-year contract as an AFC Celebrity Chef who will appear on the channel and will also be awarded the opportunity of a year-long employment contract as Creative Chef in the Hospitality & Lifestyle Division, E&O Group.

Saxon concludes: "To watch the contestants evolve from episode to episode, and feeling almost like a part of their lives as they grow... I have to say that there were times when I got a bit emotional. I could have never envisaged what I was getting into when I first started on this. The overall experience was wonderful. And at the end of the day, to me, it was more a journey than a television show".

E&O Search For AFC's Next Celebrity Chef premieres on Nov 9 at 10pm, on Astro Channel 703.

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Whine and dine

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:20 AM PST

Verdict? Tak cukup garam.

I OFTEN think that I would have grown up differently had the MasterChef television programme been around when I was younger.

I usually watch the show with my 15-year-old son who's picked up quite a number of cooking tips from the programme. In fact, he's quite a smart aleck in the kitchen and at the dinner table these days, because he's always making comments as if he were one of the judges on the show: "The cake is not moist enough", "You get a zero for presentation", "Not enough salt".

The both of us, truth be told, were really excited to see what MasterChef Malaysia would turn out like. Naturally we had high hopes, after MasterChef Australia, MasterChef US and Junior MasterChef Australia (the last being our favourite). I've only seen a handful of episodes of MasterChef Malaysia so far and I am hoping that the excitement picks up along the way.

The series – be it the Aussie version or US – does have its fair share of drama to be fair. But Malaysia seems to have really overcooked the show's emotional quotient. Every time someone has something not so nice to say, or if the judges have to send someone home, they're all apologising left, right and centre.

Yes, I understand it is the Malaysian way to minta maaf (say I'm sorry), but when you have to hear it over and over again, it gets a little taxing. It's a competition, people are going to have to be eliminated, there's nothing to be sorry about!

What's worse is that by Episode Two (before the season could kick off properly) one contestant decided to withdraw from the competition (for personal reasons, not elaborated on the show) and the rest of them were bawling their eyes out!

You know when people say things like this is a series that has made many a bold chef cry, I'm pretty sure that's not what they meant.

It was more than a little incredulous, because viewers hardly got the chance to get to know this particular contestant, so her departure was quite honestly insignificant – and too much kitchen time was spent fussing over her farewell. The MasterChef clock was ticking away all too laboriously for us viewers.

MasterChef, for those who have never tuned in to an episode, is a TV cooking game show franchise, which started on BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in 1990, and has since expanded to many other countries, including the United States, Australia (both of which we get to watch here in Malaysia), New Zealand, Croatia, Greece, India, Sweden and Indonesia.

The Malaysian programme is a collaboration between Astro Ria and Star World, and is overseen by a consultant from Shine International, distributors of MasterChef. So, it's been a disappointment for me in some ways because I was expecting to get at least the same quality in terms of production.

As it stands now, I find the little anecdotes about contestants spliced between cooking challenges too boring and sometimes irrelevant or untimely.

The fact that some of the contestants speak in halting Bahasa Malaysia is another gripe I have. Maybe it would have been better to let the contestants speak in whatever language they feel most comfortable in – which contestant Brian sometimes resorts too (by the way, why are Brian and Wahidan allowed to wear hats in the kitchen? Who wears a hat in the kitchen?). We're Malaysian; we're bi, tri and sometimes quadrilingual, why not embrace that? (Stick some subtitles in for the rest of the world to keep up lah!)

Granted, not everyone has difficulty with the language. For instance, it was a joy to see Kenny Chan (of TV programme Baba & Nyonya fame) who was extremely comfortable speaking Malay and completely at ease on camera, sharing his tips on Nyonya cuisine. When you have someone like that on hand, why not make full use of the guy?

During one the of masterclasses, too, I had a problem with the sound. It's not easy filming a cooking show because there are all kinds of gadgets and gizmos working in the background – fryers, blenders and food processors. In a well-produced cookery show, however, the host's voice comes across clear and precise; thanks to filming and refilming, once for background sound, once for voice. This just doesn't seem to be the case here, because you have to strain to hear the chefs speak over all their kitchen noise.

The format of the show is similar to MasterChef Australia where contestants have to undergo a series of different challenges every week. And so instead of Mystery Box, here we have the "Peti Saji Misteri", and instead of Invention Test, we get the "Ujian Cipta Rasa", et cetera.

No real problem here, except perhaps the challenges seemed a bit too basic at the start of the show – peeling and dicing onions? Separating egg whites from yolks? Extracting coconut milk? – you'd think the 40 contestants allegedly chosen from thousands who came for auditions nationwide would be able to do these things blindfolded! Especially since we viewers have been raised on a diet of Junior MasterChef, in which eight-year-olds can make meringue pies and croquembouche!

On MasterChef Malaysia, instead we have contestants frying candlenuts whole and one has to wonder, do these people really know what they are doing?

I do, however, enjoy the fact that there were many local ingredients and recipes showcased. It gives me a sense of pride and familiarity.

As for the judges who take turns – Mohd Johari Edrus (Chef Jo), Yahaya Hassan (Chef Yahaya), Priya Menon (Chef Priya), Zubir Mohd Zain (Chef Zubir) and Mohd Nadzri Redzuawan (Chef Riz) – they are all highly qualified in the kitchen and are trying their best on screen too, I'm sure.

My gripes with them aren't so much to do with what they say, but how they say it (sometimes shouting and over-enthusiastic, sometimes wooden and robot-like) and also I have some wardrobe issues – they seem uncomfortable in their attire. Why wear a jacket if it isn't cold, for instance? We do live right next to the equator, after all. Haven't they noticed that most of the time the contestants are sweating buckets?

Having said all of that, will I be tuning in again? You betcha. There's just something fascinating about MasterChef that keeps me coming back for more. My favourite contestant so far? Nah, I don't want to jinx anyone.

There are 66 episodes in all. MasterChef Malaysia screens at 9pm over Astro Ria (Astro Ch 104) Saturdays to Wednesdays, and at 9.50pm on Thursday on Star World (Astro Ch 711). To keep up to date on eliminations and episodes, or for recipes, go to

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Zaidy banking on team-work to get back on the podium

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 02:30 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Zaidy Mohd Zaifaizal has not stepped on the podium since the second half of the season and he is banking team-work to turn things around in the penultimate round of the Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championship at the Sepang International Circuit (South Track) from Nov 12 to 13.

Zaidy, who was consistent in the first half of the season, is currently second in the CP115 category overall standings with 105 points.

The Motul Yamaha YY Pang Racing rider is seven points behind championship leader Shahril Izzuwan Mohd Noor of Petronas Syntium Moto Yamaha AHM who leads the standing with 112 points.

Mohd Emir Firdaus Hasan (M-Seki Liberty Honda Racing) is 11 points adrift in third place with 94 points.

"My team-mates – Mohd Rozaiman Mohd Said, Mohd Adli Salihin, Mohd Azhar Abdul Jalil – will help me formulate a strategy for the race," said Zaidy, the 2008 Wira category champion.

"At the moment, nothing has been planned yet as it will all depend on our grid positions. It will be great if all of us can qualify for a good start position.

"However, it won't be easy as the other teams will be looking forward to pick up points in this crucial leg."

Zaidy also lamented his poor fortune towards the end of the season and hopes that his luck will change in the last two rounds.

"I was very consistent in the early part of the season before being hit by technical glitches and was plain unlucky on numerous occasions," said the 19-year-old rider.

"I hope things will turn in my favour with two more rounds remaining. I must step up as I can't afford to let the title slip away. My target is to get a podium finish."

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Youngster Fakhrusy eyes another positive result in Sepang

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 06:52 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Teenage speedster Fakhrusy Syakirin Rostam is aiming to convert his recent promising form into yet another positive result in the penultimate leg of the Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championship at the Sepang International Circuit (South Track) from Nov 12-13.

The 15-year-old Fakhrusy graduated from the Honda Icon Challenge last year and was a privateer in the Wira category this season before joining Yamaha CKJ Sukimi for a few rounds as a replacement rider.

But in the previous round at Malacca, Fakhrusy joined AAP Mazoil Faito Racing team and sprang a surprise by dominating the race ahead of the more experienced Zulsyafiz Rosli (MOS Malaysia Racing) and defending champion Mohd Adib Rosley (pic) (Motul Yamaha YY Pang Racing).

And the Form 3 student of SM Pasir Gudang is out to prove that his victory was no fluke in the coming leg at Sepang.

"I'm working really hard to make sure that I am physically fit and I'm really glad to see my effort and sacrifice finally producing results," said Fakhrusy, who went through three weeks of training at the Hendriansyah Racing School in Indonesia in January.

"I want to continue with a strong performance. I would really like to step on the podium again in the remaining races," added Fakhrusy who is ninth in the standings with 52 points.

Zulsyafiz still tops the standings with 136 points followed by Adib on 101 points. Third is Mohd Hafiza Roda (Faito YSP Racing) with 100 points.

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An overpowering Proton performance

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 06:52 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: It was the perfect Hari Raya Aidiladha for Proton Motorsports in the final round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championships (APRC) in Longyou, China, last Sunday.

Drivers Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson ended the season with a one-two finish in the drivers' championship and the team went one better by winning the manufacturers' title as well after their second place finish last season.

The team made a clean sweep of the honours, winning the APRC Teams trophy, Asia Cup, Pacific Cup, APRC Co-driver titles besides the coveted manufacturers' and drivers' championships.

Proton also dominated the 2WD competition with team Proton Cusco winning the manufacturers' championship. 'Flying Sikh' Karamjit Singh (pic) clinched the drivers' title, while Akira Bamba won the APRC Junior Cup.

Proton Motorsports head Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood must now work on defending the title as well as unearth a new local champion.

Abdul Razak said that Malaysia needs a replacement for Karamjit who became the first Malaysian to win the APRC title in 2001 and again in 2002 and 2004.

"It took about 10 years for Karamjit to develop into a top-class rally driver. It could take us another decade to come up with a new driver in the same class." said Abdul Razak.

"We hope to find one in the next five years. We are on the look out for a Malaysian driver for the APRC Junior Cup next year.

"We have identified a few promising young talents and will look to get one of them sponsors for a run in the Junior Cup which is for drivers under the age of 28."

Abdul Razak also said that the team cannot afford to rest on their laurels next season as he expects a major improvement from the competitors.

"Obviously we want to defend our titles but it won't be an easy ride with the other teams aiming for the championship as well," said Abdul Razak.

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Banks lead Wall Street higher

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 04:48 PM PST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks closed higher on Tuesday for a second day in a row as late-day news about Europe sparked an afternoon rally that erased early weakness.

Italy's president said Silvio Berlusconi, the country's prime minister, would resign after a new budget law was approved. Equities had hoped for a resignation, which is seen as clearing the way for a leader who will act more aggressively to tackle the country's debt problems. The PHLX Europe sector index <.xex>, which includes major European shares, advanced 1.8 percent.

All 10 S&P 500 sectors rose, but banks, which generally suffer whenever Europe fears surge, did particularly well. The S&P Financial Index <.gspf> was the top gainer, advancing 1.9 percent. Wells Fargo & Co added 4.4 percent to $26.53 and Citigroup Inc gained 2.9 percent to $31.42.

Trading had been choppy for most of the day after Berlusconi won a vote on the ratification of the budget, but he failed to obtain an absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies, leading to calls for him to step down.

Despite the stock market's jump on the news, many analysts expect recent volatility to persist.

"The optimistic view is that this is what was needed, we'll get new blood that will allow us to start being constructive and moving on reform," said Mark Lookabill, wealth advisor at Carson Wealth Management in Omaha, Nebraska.

"But there's also a pessimistic view that doesn't care who is in charge, thinking we'll just get the same old thing with no new credible plan ... when the pessimists come in questioning what happens from here, we could move right back down."

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> shot up 101.79 points, or 0.84 percent, to 12,170.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> gained 14.80 points, or 1.17 percent, to 1,275.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> advanced 32.24 points, or 1.20 percent, to 2,727.49.

An S&P Energy Index rose 1.4 percent, while the Dow Jones Transportation Average <.djt>, regarded as a barometer of demand, climbed 1.2 percent. A semiconductor index <.sox> added 0.6 percent.

In Monday's session, equities traded erratically until Juergen Stark, a member of the European Central Bank's Executive Board, gave an optimistic timeline for when the crisis might be resolved. Wall Street then staged a late rebound to end higher.

The CBOE Volatility Index or VIX <.vix>, Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, fell 7.9 percent and is down 8.7 percent so far this week.

With little on the U.S. economic calendar this week and earnings season drawing to a close, investors' attention was fixed on Europe. According to Thomson Reuters data, among the 442 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 70 percent topped expectations.

U.S. markets have been closely tied to the euro's fortunes while volatility has been tethered to sovereign debt. The euro hit a session high against the dollar ahead of the Italian vote.

In corporate news, an experimental antidepressant from AstraZeneca Plc and Targacept Inc failed to meet the goal of changing a key depression rating score in the first of a series of pivotal clinical trials. Targacept shares plunged 60.2 percent to $7.61.

Rockwell Automation Inc's quarterly profit and 2012 outlook beat analysts' estimates, sending its shares up 6.5 percent to $74.33.

Volume was light, with about 7.13 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, below last year's daily average of 8.47 billion.

Advancers outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by a ratio of about 3 to 1,, while on the Nasdaq, more than two stocks rose for each one that fell.

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Millionaires list favorite fund managers

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 04:46 PM PST

BOSTON (Reuters) - Hedge fund managers Paul Singer, Robert Zoellner, Kyle Bass and Israel Englander are among the handful of people millionaires trust with their riches.

Norman Miller, Richard Dowdle, David Einhorn, Andreas Halvorsen and John Paulson -- whose superstar reputation looks intact even after he lost billions -- also made the cut.

Traditionally, the wealthy share stocks tips and the names of their favorite investment advisors in private, but occasionally a small group of very wealthy investors give outsiders a peek into what they like and where they invested.

TIGER 21, a high-end investment club whose 180 members collectively manage nearly $15 billion, released its Member Favorites Survey Results on Tuesday. But they did not say who they are or how they made their money.

The 14-page long report, which the group says was "designed to highlight our Members' most valued investments," lists real estate as the most popular asset class followed by stocks and then hedge funds. The group put 12 percent of their money into the types of portfolios that cater to institutional investors and the very wealthy.

"For hedge funds, this was the highest level seen since 2007," the report says.

But owning land and buildings was even more popular -- maybe because the group likes what it knows best.

"Many Members have created their wealth in this space, understand it, and continue to invest in an area they know well," the report said.

In Figure 2: the group voted Paul Singer, an outspoken investment manager who founded $17 billion Elliott Management, as the best of its Top 10 Favorite Investment Managers.

There is little discussion why Elliott, which has long treated investors to double-digit returns, beat out the others and Singer himself is named only once.

The group's favorite stocks are Apple Inc, Berkshire Hathaway Inc and General Electric Co, largely mirroring other investors' favorites.

"This is the second year in a row that Warren Buffett's company has been the darling of TIGER 21 Members," the group wrote.

Financial companies Bank of America Corp, whose heavy losses have inflicted such pain on Paulson and his investors this year, Citigroup Inc and Wells Fargo & Co are also on the list.

And the group said it sticks with what it likes.

"The majority of the Members said that they were keeping the same asset allocation structure," the report said. "Typically, we see very little changes within twelve months time frames."

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Wilmar bullish on sugar, palm oil prices as Q3 missed forecast

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 04:42 PM PST

SINGAPORE, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Wilmar International said on Wednesday higher prices will support its palm oil and sugar businesses, sounding bullish after missing earnings expectations despite an almost 24 percent jump in net profit from a year earlier.

Wilmar's lower-than-expected earnings were linked to a foreign exchange loss and weaker margins from its consumer product business as the rise in cost of feedstock outpaced the price increase.

Wilmar's results compared to a 66 percent drop in the earnings of U.S. agribusiness and trading firm Cargill Inc {CARG.UL], while Bunge, the world's largest oilseed processor and among the top sugar and ethanol producers, saw its earnings declined by a third.

"The group remains positive of its prospects, despite uncertainties in the global economy, due to the resilience in the demand for agricultural commodities and the continued growth of Asian economies," the company said in a statement.

Wilmar said palm and laurics will benefit from the recent changes in the Indonesian export duty structure for palm products, which it said is highly advantageous for downstream processing margins.

The company has about one third of its total crude palm oil (CPO) refining capacity in Indonesia, Macquarie said in a research note, adding current CPO price could give Wilmar a potential uplift of $104 per ton in Indonesian refining margins.

The world's largest listed palm oil plantation firm, which generated more than half of its revenue from China, partly benefited from an increase in its cooking oil selling price by 5 percent in China earlier this year.

But it said consumer product margins in the third quarter were still lower from a year earlier due to bigger increase in cost of edible oils feedstock, while the group had only about one month of price increase benefit in China. Wilmar was allowed to increase its price for consumer products in China on August 1.

The company, which owns palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia as well as sugar operations in Australia, earned a net profit of $321.05 million for the quarter ended September 30, compared to $259.5 million earned a year ago. That compares to an average forecast of $461 million from five analysts.

Excluding the exceptional items, the company recorded a net profit of $442.4 million compared to $172.4 million a year ago.

Its earnings in the second half of 2010 were hit by losses from its oilseeds and grains business, which the company blamed on weak margins and inopportune buying.

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Murdered medical student to be flown home Wednesday (Update)

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 06:15 AM PST

Published: Tuesday November 8, 2011 MYT 8:10:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday November 8, 2011 MYT 10:15:51 PM

JAKARTA: Authorities expect to fly the remains of medical student Adrian Jay Pereira, who was slashed to death by a would-be motorcycle thief in Jawa Timur, to Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Malaysian Embassy education attache in Jakarta Ludinata Misnun was quoted by Bernama as saying Adrian's body would be flown home via MAS at about 10.40am local time from Juanda Airport, Surabaya.

The plane is scheduled to arrive at KL International Airport at 2.15pm Malaysian time.

He said the victim's uncle and a lawyer arrived at the hospital to claim the body on Tuesday.

He said a post-mortem indicated that the 22-year-old student of Universiti Brawijaya in Malang, East Java succumbed to a fatal slash wound on the neck.

In Klang, Adrian's mother appealed to the embassy to expedite sending her son's remains home.

Mary Catherine De Cruz, who could not hold back tears when recalling the tragic death, said she and her family members hoped there would not be any complication in claiming the body.

"I only hope the remains of my son are returned home safely.

"The Malaysian Embassy alerted us about the incident and until now, we are not sure what actually transpired," she told reporters at her residence in Taman Klang Jaya here.

More in The Star Wednesday

Related Story:
Malaysian medical student in Indonesia killed by robber

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China to lift bird's nest ban after determining nitrite level: Liow

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 05:12 AM PST

Published: Tuesday November 8, 2011 MYT 4:32:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday November 8, 2011 MYT 9:12:20 PM

BEIJING: China recognises the presence of natural nitrite in bird's nest and will lift the import ban on the product from Malaysia after determining the allowed level of nitrite, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said the Chinese authorities understood that the presence of nitrite was a natural development occurring during the raising of swiftlets.

Both sides have set up a working commitee of food specialists and experts to determine the permissible level of nitrite in bird's nest products, Liow said after meeting Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu on Tuesday.

He had earlier discussed the bird's nest issue with Chinese authorities in the wake of the fake Malaysian bird's nest that has affected thousands of Malaysian exporters.

The high levels of nitrite recently caused the Beijing Tongrentang Co., a major retailer of traditional Chinese medicine, to pull all imported-from-Malaysia edible bird's nest products off its shelves.

More in The Star on Wednesday

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Eight M'sians safe from rioting in PNG, says Anifah

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 04:21 AM PST

Published: Tuesday November 8, 2011 MYT 8:22:00 PM

PUTRAJAYA: Eight Malaysians in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) port city of Lae are reported safe from the ethnic clashes that erupted in the city recently, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

He said the Malaysians were working at a company in Lae, the second largest city in Papua New Guinea.

"I have been informed about what happened in Papua New Guinea and that all the Malaysians there are safe.

"We advise them to contact the Malaysian embassy and not to go out unnecessarily," he said after receiving a courtesy call from Hungary's Foreign Minister Dr Janos Martonyi at Wisma Putra, here.

AFP reported that violent ethnic clashes in Lae had left up to nine people dead and 1,000 others homeless.

The rioting damaged and destroyed homes, businesses and other properties, forced the closure of many businesses in the vital hub.

It was reported that the rioting began after youths protesting against rising crime started fighting with other groups.

Anifah said Wisma Putra was closely monitoring the situation in Lae.

"If the situation worsens, we will do something to take our citizens out of there." Anifah said adding that he was informed that the rioting was a "localised incident between two ethnic groups" and it would not spread to other parts of Papua New Guinea.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Young love

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:20 AM PST

After topping the box office in Taiwan and Hong Kong, You Are The Apple Of My Eye is setting its sights on Malaysia.

ONE of the most anticipated Chinese movies of the year, You Are The Apple of My Eye, has finally made its way to our shores.

The 110-minute coming-of-age movie, which opens tomorrow in local cinemas, has been packing halls with two weeks of sneak previews in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Penang and Johor Baru.

What seems like a simple teen flick about puppy love has become a runaway success in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where it has broken box office records set by other Taiwanese films to date.

In fact, You Are The Apple Of My Eye has even surpassed the soft-core 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy in Hong Kong.

The movie has also notched four nominations at Taiwan's 48th Golden Horse Awards (to be held on Nov 26), namely best new director (Giddens Ko), best leading actress (Michelle Chen), best new performer (Ko Chen-tung) and best original film song.

A hilarious caper about the angst of first love and growing up, this Taiwanese film owes much of its success to its director/screenwriter being best-selling writer Ko (better known as Jiubadao or Nine Blades).

The prolific Taiwanese novelist makes his directorial debut with this light-hearted adaptation of his best-loved semi-autobiographical novel of the same name (which in Chinese translates into The Girl We Chased Together In Those Years).

You Are The Apple Of My Eye tells of a bunch of 16-year-old schoolboys at Chingcheng Junior High School with a crush on the prettiest girl in their class. Top scorer Shen Chia-yi (Michelle Chen) may be every boy's secret love, but she is only interested in her studies.

Meanwhile, Ko Ching-teng (Ko Chen-tung) and his friends Tsao Kuo-sheng (Owodog), Liao Ying-hung (Tsai Chang-hsien), Hsu Bo-chun (Yen Sheng-yu) and Hu Chia-wei (Wan Wan) are always up to mischief.

Caught fooling around in class, Ko is made to sit in front of Shen, who sets him straight and makes him study to improve his grades.

Their antagonism gradually gives way to admiration but they do not officially become a couple.

Soon, graduation sends them separate ways to attend different universities. What will become of the fledgling romance between Ko and Shen? Seto Kit Yan

You Are The Apple Of My Eye opens in local cinemas tomorrow.

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Beyond realm of reality

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:19 AM PST

Hong Kong director Oxide Pang shares how he got ideas for his latest film, Sleepwalker.

HONG Kong filmmaker Oxide Pang says he dreams in full colour and is constantly inspired by his quirky dreams and surreal nightmares.

"Even on the flight to Kuala Lumpur this morning, I fell asleep and had a nightmare. In my dream, the plane crashed. I was jolted awake and found myself still here," Pang shared during an interview conducted after the press conference to promote his latest movie Sleepwalker in 3D recently.

The director, who is now based in Bangkok, Thailand, was accompanied by his glamorous Kedah-born wife and leading lady Lee Sinje.

Sleepwalker is their first film project together after they got married last year as well as their first in seven years since filming Re-cycle, which was released in 2006. Together, they make a very entertaining couple as they shared how they decided to sleep in separate rooms while filming and discussed topics like nightmares, sleepwalking and murder.

Pang revealed that the premise of Sleepwalker is based on his personal experience. "In the movie, the protagonist has a dream of an abandoned piece of land and the suspicion of a body buried underneath. This image has been a recurring one for me for the past 10 years."

However, unlike the character in the movie, Pang hasn't gone on to investigate. "Because I'm very sure I've never killed anyone!" the director deadpanned, leaving everyone in stitches.

Lee added: "We read in America that there was a very loving couple. One day, the husband killed the wife while sleepwalking. But he was eventually acquitted of murder. So, it's hard to explain these matters.

"It was big news then. So, I combined the two ideas and got the concept for the plot of Sleepwalker. It's more of a mystery and a drama this time. While the idea may have come from my own dream, my movie is more horrible," Pang teased again.

So does either one of them sleepwalk?

"I don't believe so but I wouldn't know even if I did. Because sleepwalkers don't know what they are doing. I only remember once that I was crying in my dream and when I woke up I was still crying," Pang, 46, offered.

Lee, 35, said: "Probably not because nobody has ever told me I sleepwalk. But, I've been told I talk in my sleep. Once, I yelled out very loudly in the middle of the night and scared the person next to me."

"That person must have been me!" Pang interjected, eliciting more laughter.

After revealing that it was not Pang, Lee added that Pang actually talks in his sleep. "It's actually quite scary, and I've told him about it. He says he doesn't remember anything though."

With that, Lee said sleepwalking is something she is quite familiar with because her younger brother used to sleepwalk when he was a kid.

"We'd all be watching TV and he'd suddenly walk out of his room and stand in front of the set. Since we all knew very well what's going on, we'll just take him back to his room. On that night, my parents would make sure that all the doors were locked. Sleepwalking is very dangerous as he may fall down the stairs.

"So for Sleepwalker, I based my portrayal of sleepwalking on these memories, which have left me with a very deep impression. The director also created a very interesting premise for the movie. With it being in 3D and me walking around in my nightgown and high heels, I believe audiences will be able to identify with my character's predicament and feel the same horror as she does upon discovering her chilling affliction."

Although she admits to being easily scared, Lee is surprisingly unafraid of filming the horror movies that she is well-known for. "It's not scary at all when we are filming. There are easily a hundred people around keeping you company. There is nothing to be afraid of."

So, why did Pang decide to shoot Sleepwalker in 3D? "To me, 3D is just a new technology with improved camera techniques. Hence, it's only a natural progression to shoot in 3D. Even wireless technology for phones has gone from 2G to 3G and now 4G. It's the same and so simple, if you don't start shooting in 3D, how would you be able to go on to shoot films in 4D and 5D and 6D later?" replied Pang.

The bespectacled director who operates a production house in Thailand, conducted interviews in Cantonese and English and was asked to demonstrate his command of the Thai language.

Having made so many horror movies (his most successful genre), Pang expressed an eagerness to expand his horizons and explore other genres.

He said that he would be coming to Kuala Lumpur again next month to recce filming locations for his next movie, another sequel to The Detective series (2007 and 2011), which stars Aaron Kwok. Pang also looks forward to making another sequel of Bangkok Dangerous (1999), his first movie made with his younger twin brother Danny.

Pang, who started his career as a telecine colourist in a film lab, has a dozen movies under his belt and another 10 made in collaboration with Danny.

Sleepwalker in 3D is showing in local cinemas.

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European flavour

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 05:00 AM PST

HIGHLIGHTS of the EUFF includes Sophie Scholl (Germany) which won Silver Bears in Berlin (2005) for Best Leading Actress and Best Direction and three German Film Awards (2005) for Best Film. The movie tells of a story which happened in Munich (1943) where a group of young people, mostly university students, resorts to passive resistance as the only effective way to cripple the Nazis and their inhuman war machine during a devastating war waged by Hitler in Europe. Here are the synopses to a select few movies that will be shown during the EUFF:

> Venice (2010, Poland): A magically beautiful adaptation of three short stories by Wlodzimierz Odojewski. It is summer of 1939. Following the family tradition, 11-year-old Marek is about to visit Venice for the first time. But when the conflict between Poland and Germany intensifies, he is sent to a small village to live with his aunts in a vast mansion. There, in a flooded basement, they recreate Venice which becomes a backdrop for the emotional transformation of the film's characters. Somewhere between his dreams, Venice, and the war, Marek must transform from a boy into a man.

Directed by Jan Jakub Kolski and starring Marcin Walewski, Magdalena Cielecka and Agnieszka Grochowska.

> Winter In Wartime (2008, Netherlands): The time is January 1945, and food is scarce in Nazi-occupied Holland. Fourteen-year-old Michiel is bored and dreaming of adventure, itching to play his part in the Resistance. He has an opportunity when he and a friend witness the shootdown of an RAF pilot who goes into hiding in the nearby forest. Michiel resolves to help the pilot escape, and as he gets more deeply involved in the Resistance, he places his family in jeopardy. With the conflict coming to an end, Michiel comes of age and learns of the stark difference between adventure fantasy and the ugly realities of war.

Directed by Martin Koolhoven and starring Martijn Lakemeier, Jamie Campbell Bower and Yorick van Wageningen.

> Cell 211 (2009, Spain): Juan Oliver wants to make a good impression at his new job as a prison officer and reports to work a day early, leaving his pregnant wife, Elena, at home. His destiny is forever changed by this fateful decision, as during his tour of the prison, an accident occurs that knocks him unconscious. He is rushed to the empty but visibly haunted walls of cell 211.

Directed by Daniel Monzón and starring Luis Tosar, Alberto Ammann and Antonio Resines.

> Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (2005, Germany): The Final Days is the true story of Germany's most famous anti-Nazi heroine brought to life. Sophie Scholl is the fearless activist of the underground student resistance group, The White Rose. Using historical records of her incarceration, the film re-creates the last six days of Sophie Scholl's life: a journey from arrest to interrogation, trial and sentence in 1943 Munich. Unwavering in her convictions and loyalty to her comrades, her cross-examination by the Gestapo quickly escalates into a searing test of wills as Scholl delivers a passionate call to freedom and personal responsibility that is both haunting and timeless.

Directed by Marc Rothemund and starring Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs and Gerald Alexander Held.

> Tandoori Love (2008, Switzerland): This comedy is about an Indian cook, Raja, and his series of (mis)adventures in the Swiss mountains. These include leaving his Bollywood troupe to starve as he starts working for a Swiss restaurant, delighting people with his Indian delicacies, stabbing a man, singing, and perhaps most significantly, falling in love with his boss Markus' fiancée, Sonja.

Directed by Oliver Paulus and starring Lavinia Wilson, Vijay Raaz and Martin Schick.

> Luxembourg, USA (2007, Luxembourg): The film is a ringing portrait of the Midwest, of rural America, crossing a very specific and little known community: the Luxembourgese. Between 1830 and 1900, around 70,000 Luxembourgese (at the turn of the century, that was more than 25% of the population of Luxembourg) immigrated to the United States to discover the new world. They named their cities Luxembourg, Belgium, Rollingstone. The film explores the history of the reasons for the immigration to the new world. But Luxembourg, USA is primarily about the Midwest today, the region in the central-north of the United States, where 90% of the population today is of European descent.

Directed by Christophe Wagner.

> The Escape (2009, Denmark): Danish journalist Rikke Lyngvig is taken hostage in Afghanistan by a terror group. With help from one of the terrorists, the young Nazir, Rikke manages to escape. On her return, she is soon declared the Danish Jessica Lynch and her career is launched into the spotlight. All the while Nazir flees from Afghanistan, heading for Denmark. When he finally seeks out Rikke, she is shocked and torn. Is she willing to help the man who threatened to kill her, and to jeopardise her new-found career? Their tumultuous encounter turns into an ill-fated confrontation with their own demons and a nation driven by a hunger for sensation and political populism.

Directed by Kathrine Windfeld and starring Iben Hjejle, Lars Mikkelsen and Faegh Zamani.

> An Ordinary Execution (2010, France): Based on his own hugely successful novel of the same name, Marc Dugain's debut feature is an encounter between the ageing Joseph Stalin and a young doctor, Anna. Anna, who has extraordinary healing powers, is brought in to treat the escalating physical woes of the dictator's old age after his own doctor has been "purged". Seen entirely through Anna's eyes, he lays bare his philosophy of terror – rambling, plotting, intimidating.

Directed by Marc Dugain and starring André Dussollier, Marina Hands and Edouard Baer.

> Kooky (2010, Czech Republic): Young Ondra has asthma and so his mum throws away his favourite toy: a musty old stuffed bear named Kooky. That night Ondra dreams that Kooky is determined to find his way back home from the dump. In the boy's fantasy, the bear gets lost in a forest occupied by strange animals and remarkable beings that he never heard of while living on the toy shelf in Ondra's room. And, of course, even in this small imaginary world, true good exists as does real evil, which Kooky must face up to in order to become a real hero.

Directed by Marc Dugain and starring André Dussollier, Marina Hands and Edouard Baer.

> Niko And The Way To The Stars (2008, Finland): Imagine a young reindeer boy knowing his Dad is a member of the legendary Santa's Flying Forces – the coolest reindeer around! But this young boy has never met his real father and no one believes his stories about his famous Dad or his claim that he, too, will fly one day. They laugh at him because he just falls over all the time! Now he has to prove them wrong.

Directed by Michael Hegner and Kari Juusonen; and starring Olli Jantunen, Hannu-Pekka Björkman and Vuokko Hovatta.

> Oliver Twist (1922, Britain): Oliver's mother, a penniless outcast, died giving birth to him. As a young boy Oliver is brought up in a workhouse, later apprenticed to an uncaring undertaker, and eventually is taken in by a gang of thieves who befriend him for their own purposes. All the while, there are secrets from Oliver's family history waiting to come to light.

Directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Jackie Coogan, James A. Marcus and Aggie Herring.

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