Rabu, 9 November 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Bleeding different

Posted: 10 Nov 2011 12:33 AM PST

True Blood actress Kristin Bauer is a sweetheart who is poles apart from her bitter vampire persona.

IN the popular HBO series True Blood, Pam De Beaufort is an immortal killer whose main diet is human blood (none of that fake True Blood concoction for this bitchy vampire, thank you very much). However, get the actress playing Pam on the phone, and you have this polite and accommodating person at the other end of the line.

Speaking from Los Angeles in a recent media conference, actress Kristin Bauer sounds like a mellow Californian who starts and ends her sentences with elongated yeah(s), punctuating them with you know(s), peppered with Valspeak-style "oh my God!" and "awesome", and, get this, laughs.

Despite just hearing Bauer's voice and not seeing her face, it's clear to the South-East Asian journalists that Bauer and Pam have very little in common. Then again, Bauer says, that statement really depends on whom you ask.

"My husband, luckily, thinks we're very different. But I am sure that if you interviewed my family, they'd tell you that I have a rather blunt, harsh, caustic side," she shares with a laugh.

Pam is a sassy, sexy and snarky vampire who is annoyed with humans. She feels compelled to never to censor her mouth, especially if it means a chance to make fun of them.

Most of the time, she's left in charge by her maker – Eric Northman (Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd) – of the nightclub he owns called Fangtasia that is frequented by vampires and humans who like the company of the undead.

Needless to say, she is not a favourite with the Fangtasia's employees and patrons, but her delicious brand of villainy has clicked with the audience.

Bauer must be credited for delivering Pam's one-liners that zing and zap every single time; especially since it's apparent that Bauer and Pam are poles apart.

"I am a softie and a sentimental person. People are always making fun of me because I cry so easily," says Bauer.

Born in Wisconsin, the actress enjoyed a childhood that involved sports, horse riding and shooting guns, before moving to Los Angeles in 1994.

Over the years, Bauer has made an art of playing the dumb blonde – mostly in guest starring or supporting roles – before True Blood came along in 2008.

While agreeing that playing dumb blondes is fun, the actress, who turns 45 this month, finds it liberating to play a character that has no edit button.

"She's saying the very things we all are thinking but wouldn't dare to say because we realise it's just not done. I care what people think. I am in the PR business, so I can't be Pam ... but to be able to have these things to just fly out of my mouth with zero concern is just so liberating. I think part of us would love to do that, just for one day in a year, but you won't if you had a decent upbringing. You just won't do it."

Although Pam is a creation of Charlaine Harris, the author who created the town Bon Temps and its eccentric (and mystical) community, the character Pam has been given her own rite of passage on the TV show by its creator Alan Ball.

Besides being bossy, Pam constantly worries about her maker who has been on a deadly path ever since coming to Bon Temps.

In season three, Eric was keen to walk into the sunlight to get his revenge. This season, Eric exerts his power on a witch to keep her in line only to have the witch cast a spell that results in Eric's complete change of personality. The bad thing is – well, for Pam anyway – he cannot remember her.

"He is now a different person, one that she doesn't recognise," says Bauer. "It was a really interesting arc for me to play because Eric is the one person that Pam needs and loves, and it was real easy to play with Alex because we're friends and we have a good trust there."

To fix Eric, Pam goes after the witch only to suffer a different kind of spell – one that has Pam decaying ... really, really, disgustingly. Bauer recalls that she was excited to hear about the new subplot for Pam.

"I imagined that it would make my acting job easier, that somehow looking at my face that way, I would naturally believe myself as rotting. That did happen but there was another side to it, which was a great challenge – a simple thing like sitting on the chair for five hours. You go into a coma.

"Also I had a lens in one eye so I couldn't see out of one eye, losing depth perception. So you're playing someone who is immortal and powerful but you are falling over and dizzy.

"The geek in me was totally fascinated with how they created all these different looks and the actress loved it too, but the mortal was greatly challenged!"

While Pam's storyline is in direct relation to Eric so far, this will change in season five. According to Bauer, Ball has hinted at Pam's backstory and how she came to be this bitter vampire with oh-so-many issues.

"I am sure whatever they come up with is going to be better than what I have been making up.

"What's interesting is that, the longer I play Pam, the more I think she is totally right and doesn't even have issues. She's starting to make sense to me ... I don't know if I should be worried (laughs). But I can't wait to see how they string together the tiny clues as to what her life was like before and how all this happened."

> True Blood season four is aired every Thursday on HBO (Astro Ch 411) / HBO HD (Astro Ch 431). This month's episodes are shown at 10pm.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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Deal on Greek premier collapses, Papademos re-emerges


REUTERS - A deal on forming a Greek national unity government collapsed as the country headed towards an economic abyss and revived early on Thursday the chances of former European Central Bank vice president Lucas Papademos heading the coalition.

Vice President of the European Central Bank Lucas Papademos attends the European Business Summit in Brussels March 26, 2009. (REUTERS/Eric Vidal)

Prime Minister George Papandreou said he was handing over to a coalition that does not exist and then failed to install an old-style politician and personal ally as premier.

On a day that was bizarre and chaotic even by Greek political standards, Papandreou wished his successor well and headed off to meet the president -- only for it to emerge that there was no successor due to feuding in the political parties.

Papademos, whose candidacy had seemed doomed, insisted that both the socialist and conservative parties sign written undertakings to support Greece's 130 billion euro bailout, as demanded by the European Union, a government source said.

The outgoing prime minister had agreed to the terms laid down by Papademos, who as Bank of Greece governor oversaw the country's adoption of the euro in 2002, the source added.

Papademos made his demands for both major parties to back the bailout package, which includes austerity measures that are likely to prove highly unpopular, amid warnings that Europe is running out of patience with Greece and may cut a financial lifeline that the party leaders seem to take for granted.

Stefanos Manos, a former finance minister, said the behaviour of Papandreou and conservative leader Antonis Samaras was undermining Greece's future in the euro and risking a possible return to the national currency.

"The Europeans are sick of us. Papandreou and Samaras don't realise they will stop giving us money and we will return to the drachma," said Manos. "They are going to destroy us. These problems demand decision-making. They can't decide on anything and they are fighting like cat and dog."

Greeks and the nation's international lenders have watched in growing horror for three days as party leaders feuded over a shrinking list of credible candidates to lead the national unity coalition after Papandreou's government imploded.

Greece will run out of money next month unless the new government agrees emergency funding with the European Union and International Monetary Fund, Greece's last remaining lenders.


Earlier, party sources said senior members of the socialist and conservative camps had settled on the speaker of parliament, veteran socialist Filippos Petsalnikos, as the new prime minister -- barring last-minute snags.

Papandreou then gave an emotional television address, supposed to be his last to the nation as premier, saying this deal had saved country's membership of the euro zone.

"I am proud that, despite the difficulties, we avoided bankruptcy and ensured the country stayed on its feet," he said. "I want to wish the new prime minister success, I will support the new effort with all my strength.

"Today, despite our differences -- political and social differences do exist -- we have put aside our fruitless conflict and disagreement," Papandreou said.

Papandreou and Samaras then began talks with President Karolos Papoulias on the new coalition. However, before leaders of smaller parties could join them to seal the coalition, the meeting was abruptly halted.

But snags had indeed emerged, with large sections of Papandreou's PASOK party and the conservative New Democracy refusing to back Petsalnikos.

Party sources said some lawmakers saw him as a pawn of Papandreou. "We wanted a strong a man who could handle all the economic issues," a socialist lawmaker said. "This candidacy is so close to Papandreou's policies, it does not signal the change the Greek people wanted."

The president's office said a meeting of party leaders would be held at 0800 GMT on Thursday, although in the current chaotic atmosphere political talks are often delayed or fail to happen at all.

One of the few things that the parties agreed was that early elections be held on Feb. 19. However, the government sources said that Papademos had also stipulated that the coalition's life could extend beyond that date if necessary.

The next government has much to do. As well as winning parliamentary approval for the bailout, it has to pass the 2012 budget and secure the latest 8 billion euro installment of Greece's original rescue that was pulled together last year, to avoid bankruptcy when big debt repayments come due in December.

For its part, 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 in economic and political crisis.

Some lawmakers backed a return to the earlier plan, which had appeared stalled, of recruiting Papademos to give the new government the credibility that politicians lost long ago.

"The only solution is Papademos. If he accepts by tomorrow morning we will be able to form a strong government that will pull the country out of the crisis," socialist lawmaker Spyros Vougias told Reuters.

Papandreou discussed a Papademos candidacy late on Wednesday with Samaras, and urged the conservative leader to contact the former ECB policymaker, a government official said.


Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos made a rare intervention in Greek politics on Wednesday.

"The uncertainty is hurting the economy and the banking system," Provopoulos told Reuters. "There must be a strong government that will work hard to ensure the country's future in the euro zone."

Greeks have pulled their savings from banks over the past week because of the deepening political crisis and fear of an exit from the euro, banking sources said.

They withdrew as much as 5 billion euros -- nearly 3 percent of total deposits -- after Papandreou's shock call last week for a referendum on the euro zone bailout, said one banker, who declined to be named.

"Many people withdrew their money from banks on Thursday and Friday and money couriers had a hard time supplying banks with cash to satisfy the emergency demand," said another banking source, who also requested anonymity.

Papandreou provoked uproar with the plan, due to the likelihood voters would have rejected the package, pushing Greece into bankruptcy and casting doubt on its future in the euro. Under intense pressure from home and abroad, he backed down but was forced to make way for the unity coalition.

Many wealthy Greeks moved their money into foreign banks last year as the crisis deepened. Now other people are demanding sometimes large amounts in euro banknotes, fearing that any bank savings might be converted into devalued new drachma if Greece is forced to revert to its national currency.

"We got to the point where customers ordered amounts of up to 600,000 to 700,000 euros in cash to take home -- unbelievable," the first banker said.

(Additional reporting by Harry Papachristou, Lefteris Papdimas, George Georgiopoulos; and Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Turkey quake kills five, traps scores - state tv


VAN, Turkey (Reuters) - An earthquake in eastern Turkey killed at least five people and scores more were trapped under the rubble of two hotels and a dozen other buildings, state television said on Thursday, less than three weeks after another killed 600 in the same area.

Rescuers assist earthquake survivor Miyuki Konnai (C, head down), from Japan, after a magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck 16 km (9 miles) south of the city of Van, in this still image taken from video November 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Reuters TV)

The magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck 16 km (9 miles) south of the city of Van at 1923 GMT on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The tremor destroyed at least seven buildings, including two hotels in Van city, and around 14 other structures in other parts of the region, state television channel TRT said.

It said at least 100 people may still be trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings with one reporter saying up to 70 people may have been staying at one of the hotels.

Twenty one people have so far been rescued alive from the rubble of the two hotels, TRT said.

Rescue workers pulled a Japanese woman to safety from the rubble of the Bayram Hotel almost six hours after the quake, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

Miyuki Konnai was part of a rescue and relief team sent to Van from Japan after the first quake. She was found injured but conscious and could be seen talking to her rescuers as she was carried to an ambulance.

Television footage showed panicked people running through the streets of Van and ambulances rushing through the city with their sirens wailing. Medical staff treated one unconscious person lying on an ambulance stretcher.

Wednesday's earthquake comes after a 7.6 magnitude tremor hit just northeast of Van on Oct. 23. There have been hundreds of aftershocks since and thousands of people are still camping out in tents in freezing conditions.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who had been in the nearby town of Ercis at the time of the quake on Wednesday, went to the crisis coordination centre in Van, Anatolian said. Ercis was the worst hit area in last month's quake.

Around 30 ambulances stationed in Ercis were sent to Van in the wake of the tremor. Ercis is some 60 km north of Van.

Five planes were to fly to the region carrying search and rescue teams, Anatolian said. Other rescue teams were travelling to the quake zone from the nearby provinces of Mus and Agri.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay and Health Minister Recep Akdag were also preparing to travel to the region, state television said.

Turkey is criss-crossed with seismic faultines and experiences small tremors nearly every day. Some 20,000 people were killed by two large earthquakes in western Turkey in 1999.

(Additional reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul and TV crew in Van; Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Italy at breaking point; fears grow of euro zone split


ROME/BERLIN (Reuters) - Italian borrowing costs reached breaking point on Wednesday after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's insistence on elections instead of an interim government threatened prolonged instability and kindled fears of a split in the euro zone.

U.S. President Barack Obama (R), talks to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (C), and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy before the start of the G20 Summit of major world economies in Cannes November 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso issued a stern warning of the dangers of splitting the zone, rocked by an escalating debt crisis. EU sources told Reuters French and German officials had held discussions on just such a move.

"There cannot be peace and prosperity in the North or in the West of Europe, if there is no peace and prosperity in the South or in the East," Barroso said.

Italian 10-year bond yields shot above the 7 percent level that is widely deemed unsustainable, reflecting an evaporation of investor confidence and prompting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to issue a call to arms.

Merkel said Europe's plight was now so "unpleasant" that deep structural reforms were needed quickly, warning the rest of the world would not wait. "That will mean more Europe, not less Europe," she told a conference in Berlin.

She called for changes in EU treaties after French President Nicolas Sarkozy advocated a two-speed Europe in which euro zone countries accelerate and deepen integration while an expanding group outside the currency bloc stays more loosely connected -- a signal that some members may have to quit the euro.

"It is time for a breakthrough to a new Europe," Merkel said. "A community that says, regardless of what happens in the rest of the world, that it can never again change its ground rules, that community simply can't survive."

The European Central Bank, the only effective bulwark against market attacks, intervened to buy Italian bonds in large amounts but remained reluctant to go further.

Italy has replaced Greece at the centre of the crisis and is on the cusp of needing a bailout that Europe cannot afford.

"Financial assistance is not in the cards," one euro zone official said, adding that the bloc was not even considering extending a precautionary credit line to Rome.

Having lost his majority in a parliamentary vote, Berlusconi confirmed he would resign after implementing economic reforms demanded by the European Union, and said Italy must then hold an election in which he would not stand.

He opposed any form of transitional or unity government -- which the opposition and many in the markets favour -- and said polls were not likely until February, leaving a three-month policy vacuum in which markets could create havoc.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said there was no doubt about the resignation of Berlusconi once economic reforms were implemented by parliament within days.

"Therefore, within a short time either a new government will be formed...or parliament will be dissolved to immediately begin an electoral campaign," Napolitano said.

Even with the exit of a man who came to symbolise scandal and empty promises, it will not be easy for Italy to convince markets it can cut its huge debt, liberalise the labour market, attack tax evasion and boost productivity.

Worries that the debt crisis could be infiltrating the core of the euro zone were reflected in the spread of 10-year French government bonds over their German equivalent blowing out to a euro era high around 140 basis points.


Policymakers outside the euro area kept up pressure for more decisive action to stop the crisis spreading.

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, told a financial forum in Beijing that Europe's debt crisis risked plunging the global economy into a Japan-style "lost decade".

"If we do not act boldly and if we do not act together, the economy around the world runs the risk of downward spiral of uncertainty, financial instability and potential collapse of global demand."

Berlusconi has reluctantly conceded that the IMF can oversee Italian reform efforts.

Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Monday on a road map for leveraging the 17-nation currency bloc's 440-billion-euro ($600 billion) rescue fund to shield larger economies like Italy and Spain from a possible Greek default.

But there are doubts about the efficacy of those complex plans, and with Italy's debt totalling around 1.9 trillion euros even a larger bailout fund could struggle to cope.

Lagarde said she was hopeful the technical details on boosting the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) to around 1 trillion euros would be ready by December.

Many outside Europe are calling on the ECB to take a more active role as other major central banks do in acting as lender of last resort. German opposition to that remains implacable, seeing it as a threat to the central bank's independence.

"The ECB will be drawn like everyone else by the weight of gravity (to act)," one euro zone official said.


EU sources told Reuters German and French officials had discussed plans for a radical overhaul of the European Union that would involve establishing a more integrated and potentially smaller euro zone.

The discussions among policymakers in Paris, Berlin and Brussels raise the possibility of one or more countries leaving the zone, while the core pushes to deeper economic integration.

In a speech in Berlin, Barroso said Germany's gross domestic product could contract by 3 percent if the 17-member zone shrank and its economy would shed a million jobs.

"What is more, it would jeopardise the future prosperity of the next generation," he said.

Barroso said any push towards deeper integration should not come at the price of new divisions among EU member states.


With the markets' fire turned firmly on Italy, Greece's struggle to find a new prime minister became something of a sideshow, but one which demonstrated the difficulty in taking decisive action anywhere within the euro zone.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he was stepping down without saying who would succeed him as the nation heads towards bankruptcy, but party sources said leaders had agreed it would be the speaker of parliament.

Parties from left and right settled on veteran socialist Filippos Petsalnikos, barring-last minute snags, the sources said, turning to their own political class after ditching a plan to recruit a former top European Central Bank official.

The socialist and conservative parties had wanted former ECB vice-president Lucas Papademos to lead a government of national unity but he appears to have made demands about his level of influence which they could not swallow.

(Additional reporting by Dina Kyriakidou and Lefteris Papadimas in Athens, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Kirsten Donovan and William James in London; Writing by Mike Peacock; Editing by Janet McBride and Andrew Roche)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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Asian markets open lower on Thursday

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 05:52 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Asian markets were in the red in Thursday's early trade, as investors continued to remain cautious over Europe's never-ending credit woes. On the local front, the FBM KLCI slipped 1.52% or 22.71 points to 1,466.93 at 9.30am.

As for regional bourses, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 2.31% to 8,553.25 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 4.30% to 19,153.04.

Shanghai's A index was down 1.04% to 2,498.59 while Taiwan's Taiex Index slipped 2.09% to 7,403.62.

Seoul's Kospi Index dipped 2.52% to 1,859.42 while Singapore's Straits Times Index fell 2.81% to 2,778.23.

Nymex crude oil slipped 11 cents to US$95.63 per barrel. Spot gold fell 40 cents to US$1,769.55 per ounce. The ringgit was quoted at 3.147 to the US dollar.

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Young blood for Kulim and DRealty boards

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:39 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Two companies in Johor Corp's (JCorp) stable Kulim (M) Bhd and Damansara Realty Bhd (DRealty) saw the entry of fresh faces on their boards, with Kulim adding four new directors and DRealty, three.

Three of Kulim's new directors have also been appointed to DRealty board. Plantation giant Kulim's new executive director is Datuk Ahmad Zaki Zahid, 44, the former executive director of Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd who left the property group in October.

Zaki has had stints at Booz Allen Hamilton and the Securities Commission and was once the special assistant to then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Zaki is now also DRealty managing director.

Another new face to the board is non-independent and non-executive director Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad, 28, who is currently the special officer to Mentri Besar of Johor.

The other two appointed to Kulim board are independent and non-executive directors Edward Leung Kok Keong, 44, and Natasha Kamaluddin, 39. Natasha, a management consultant stalwart and current partner and director of Ethos & Co, is the only one of Kulim's four new directors not appointed to DRealty board.

Leung holds two other directorships in Tebrau Teguh Bhd and ACE Market-listed Asia Bioenergy Technologies Bhd and is a chartered accountant.

All four board members are relatively young. Insiders said part of the rationale for bringing in the new board members is for them to provide new perspectives and ideas on how to restructure the companies under JCorp.

State-owned JCorp is an asset-rich and diversified group but is saddled with mounting debt problems. By mid-next year, it will have to settle up to RM3.6bil of its debt obligations. The group has been mulling a number of options on how to use its vast asset base to solve this problem, resulting in the recent sale of oil palm estates and mills to its 53% subsidiary, Kulim, for RM700mil.

Listed companies under JCorp include New Britain Palm Oil Ltd, QSR Brands Bhd and KFC Holdings (M) Bhd.

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Perwaja likely to get iron ore mining concession in Terengganu

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:38 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Perwaja Holdings Bhd is expected to secure a sizeable iron ore mining concession from the Terengganu government "anytime soon", according to industry sources.

To enable economies of scale, sources said, Perwaja's unit Perwaja Steel Sdn Bhd should ideally be given about 500ha in Bukit Besi to mine iron ore with a mining lease running for at least 10 years, which later will be subject to renewal.

The 2,400ha Bukit Besi area is believed to hold 50 million tonnes of iron ore reserves, which has the highest quality in Malaysia at 70% Fe (iron), the sources added.

(The higher Fe percentage means that the iron ores are carrying high quantities of hematite or magnetite also known as "natural ore" or "direct shipping ore", which can be fed directly into iron-making blast furnaces for steel manufacturing.)

Industry sources told StarBiz that the state had agreed in principle to give Perwaja the concession to undertake the mining operation but this had yet to be made official.

Both Kinsteel Bhd and Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd are Perwaja's majority shareholders, with management control held by Kinsteel.

The sources added that apart from Perwaja, there were other companies being considered by the Terengganu government to undertake similar operations at Bukit Besi.

Iron ore reserves can also be found in Bukit Ibam, Lipis, Maran and Lanchang in Pahang.

Both Terengganu and Pahang are estimated to have in excess of 100 million tonnes of iron ore deposits.

As for Perwaja, the Bukit Besi iron ore mining area is about 80km from its billets and direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in Kemaman.

The company is in the midst of constructing a RM400mil concentration and pelletising plant in Kemaman.

"The pelletising plant will enable the bare iron ore to be used as feed material for its DRI plant, making it a strong case for Perwaja to own an iron ore mine," said OSK Research in its latest steel sector update report.

The fact that Perwaja was originally a national project also raised the possibility of the company securing any upcoming iron ore mining concession in Terengganu or Pahang, it added.

Perwaja Steel's range of products include DRI, beam, blanks, blooms and billets, which in turn are used in the manufacturing, construction and infrastructure industries.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Chamber of Mines executive director Muhamad Nor Muhamad said: "Over the past three years, there have been an increase in the issuance and renewals of mining leases by state governments in mineral-rich states."

Currently, there are about 50 iron ore mines scattered throughout Pahang, Johor, Perak and Terengganu.

Reflecting the increasing demand for the commodity, local iron ore production rose to 3.47 million tonnes last year from 1.47 million tonnes the previous year.

"There are many small iron ore operators in Malaysia working on less than 100 acres each. However, the sector is set to become more competitive with the entry of big players like Perwaja," added Muhamad.

He said Perak had been actively issuing and renewing mining leases.

In 2008, the state had awarded HWG Tin Mining Sdn Bhd, a unit of Ho Wah Genting Bhd, a 10-year mining lease to mine tin and other minerals on 500 acres in Pengkalan Hulu with the potential for a further 500 acres as the work on the initial area progressed.

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Rugby: Modern game is 'war of muscles' - Porta

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 03:56 PM PST

LONDON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Rugby is in danger of muscling out the flair and skills that have made it such a great game, according to Argentina's leading points scorer and former captain Hugo Porta.

"I think those that forget the past don't have a future," the 60-year-old told Reuters next to a boxing ring at a charity event in a dilapidated former school in south London.

"We can't stop the evolution of the game, but we should at least try to preserve the essence of rugby.

"Nowadays it's a war of muscles. What is this?," he said ruefully, an imaginary ball tucked under his arm as he imitated the barging tactics of the modern game.

"I saw more blood and injured players during the World Cup than ever before." New Zealand won the seventh edition of rugby's biggest tournament last month, defeating France 8-7 in a dramatic and tense final to clinch the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time.

Porta played only in the inaugural World Cup in 1987 and was at his peak during a very different era for the game.

He led his nation to a famous victory over Australia in 1979 and a 21-21 draw against New Zealand in 1985 in which he kicked all his team's points.

In more recent times Argentina have also displayed enough skill to compete with the game's best nations, finishing third at the 2007 World Cup and regularly being ranked in the top eight. On Tuesday officials unveiled the calendar for next year's inaugural Rugby Championship -- successor to the Tri-Nations tournament between South Africa, New Zealand and Australia -- with the Pumas set to make their long-awaited debut in a major annual competition. "I think people are tired of seeing the same three teams. Argentina will bring some fresh air to the competition," said Porta.

"Let's wait and see what consequences the competition has for Argentina," he grinned, all too aware of the challenges that will face his countrymen when they take on traditionally the sport's three strongest nations. PHYSICAL STATURE

Porta's passion for the game is such that he laments the hulking physical stature of the modern player.

"Rugby's turning into a sport where the physical aspect prevails over talent," he said. "These days there's no room for talent. I lived another kind of rugby.

"In Argentina we have always had an affinity with the French, they produce players with flair like we have done.

"Nowadays, take (France centre) Aurelien Rougerie for example, put a black top on him then put him on the pitch and he would think he's an All Black."

Far from appearing frustrated at the direction the game is heading in, however, Porta believes now is the ideal time to address the rules as rugby seeks to move forward and increase the number of countries that play to a high level.

"A bit like in golf where they have people working on the rules and their preservation, it would be good if the IRB (International Rugby Board) considers a project where they use well-known players to help develop and preserve rugby," said Porta, a Laureus ambassador.

"It could be me, Sean Fitzpatrick from New Zealand, anyone. There are a lot of people who love rugby and would be ready to collaborate on this," he added.

"I'm not a specialist, so I think a discussion would be necessary. A debate between former players and connoisseurs of the game."

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Djokovic hits bonus jackpot in Paris

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 03:55 PM PST

PARIS, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic pocketed a $1.6-million bonus just for turning up on court before making light of shoulder pains to beat Croatian Ivan Dodig 6-4 6-3 in the Paris Masters second round on Wednesday.

An ATP rule designed to entice top players to take part in the main events states that, as world number one, Djokovic is entitled to a $2-million bonus if he plays in all eight Masters tournaments.

The bonus drops to $1.6 million if he misses one - and to nothing if he misses two.

Having skipped the Shanghai Masters through injury, the Serbian suffered a recurrence of a shoulder problem in his semi-final defeat in Basel by Japan's Kei Nishikori last week.

Djokovic, who said he spent his time between Basel and Paris recovering from the injury, dismissed talk that he had turned up in Paris just to cash in the cheque.

"It was really somehow funny for me to see how people are coming up with that story...I even heard that I would get on the court and play a game just to get this money. This is ridiculous, " he told a news conference.

"I need more matches before (the ATP World Tour finals in) London. I think it's obvious that I'm still not (at the) top of my game. But I'm taking things quite slowly knowing that the form will improve each day that I play. "I believe in that. I have been working quite hard in the last couple of weeks after my injury, and I think things are going in the right direction." STRONG SERVE

Djokovic, who has won three grand slams and five Masters titles this year, struggled at times against world number 39 Dodig, but served strongly throughout and took his chances when it mattered to book his place in the third round.

A break in the 10th game was enough to take the lead and another in the sixth game of the second helped him wrap it up.

Swiss Roger Federer, seeded three, barely broke sweat in a 6-2 6-3 dismissal of French wildcard Adrian Mannarino to reach the third round where he will face local favourite Richard Gasquet on Thursday.

Second seed Andy Murray started his campaign in ruthless fashion, beating France's Jeremy Chardy 6-2 6-4 to reach the third round.

World number three Murray, who withdrew from the Basel tournament because of injury, had little difficulty with Chardy, setting up a meeting with 13th seed Andy Roddick in the next round.

Briton Murray completed a stunning hat-trick of titles in as many weeks on the Asian swing of the ATP tour after winning the Shanghai Masters on Oct. 16. He also won in Bangkok and Tokyo.

"I take a few weeks off and the first match is always a tough one, even if you've been winning a lot of matches," Murray told reporters.

"But always after taking a break things feel a little bit different.

Hopefully I can build on today's win. Maybe if I get through a couple of rounds, I'll feel that momentum."

Serbian Janko Tipsarevic kept alive his slim hopes of reaching the ATP World Tour finals when the 11th seed thrashed American Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-1 6-0 to reach the third round.

Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, however, was ruled out of the London event when he lost 6-3 7-5 to Italian Andreas Seppi.

Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Murray, Federer and David Ferrer have qualified and four players are now vying for the three remaining spots after Mardy Fish's 6-1 6-2 win over German Florian Mayer ruled out Gael Monfils, who later lost to Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-4.

American Fish, the seventh seed, is now only one win away from securing his London spot.

Frenchman Gilles Simon's chances also vanished into thin air when the 10th seed suffered a 6-3 6-0 drubbing by Argentine Juan Monaco in which he was booed by the crowd in the last game.

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Malaysia on a roll

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 03:23 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Malaysia moved up to second in the standings after a thrilling 2-1 win over Pakistan in the Sultan of Johor Cup junior hockey tournament at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium yesterday.

Malaysia, with seven points, are very much on course to make the final on Saturday. They need to beat India in their final preliminary round match tomorrow to set up a showdown against Australia, who have confirmed their place in the final.

It was truly an inspiring performance from the Malaysians, much to the joy of the vociferous 5,000 home crowd.

Once again Malaysia fielded their second goalkeeper Mohamed Hazrul Faiz as first choice Mohamed Hafizuddin Othman had not fully recovered from his illness.

And Hazrul did not disappoint as he proved reliable and made several good saves.

Malaysia, as usual, went into attack mode from the start and deservingly took the lead in the 11th minute from their first penalty corner. Mohamed Noor Faeez cleverly scored past Pakistan goalkeeper Mazhar Abbas with a drag flick.

In the 25th minute Mohamed Ramadhan had a good chance to increase the lead but with just Mazhar to beat he could not get the ball around the keeper.

Malaysia started just as aggressively in the second half but poor finishing let them down.

They came close in the 50th minute when Nor Izzat Sumantri had a chance to score from the top D but instead decided to cross the ball which went wide.

A minute later the Malaysians made amends when they struck the second goal.

A long cross into the D was well met by Amir Farid who coolly slotted past an onrushing Mazhar to make it 2-0 for Malaysia. Pakistan reduced the deficit in the 59th minute through Mohamed Umar Sardar's field goal.

Inspired by the goal, Pakistan came charging at Malaysia and they earned a penalty corner in the 61st minute but the attempt was saved by Hazrul.

Pakistan turned on the pressure in their bid to find the equaliser but the Malaysian defence held sway until the end to collect three valuable points which took them up to second place in the standings.

Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj was pleased with the win as it kept them on track to achieve their target of a top–two finish.

"At this stage we are happy to be where we are as we are still in the running for a final berth. There were lapses in the game and we need to ratify it. If we don't we are only making it hard on ourselves.

"We now have one more match to get into the final and we will play to win it as well. There is no point in thinking of a draw. Our path to the final will also depend on the game between South Korea and New Zealand," said Dharmaraj.

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Traumatised housemates of slain student may not continue studies in Indonesia

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 06:46 AM PST

JAKARTA: Traumatised by the murder of their housemate Adrian Jay Pereira on Monday, two female Malaysian students will probably stop pursuing their medical studies in Indonesia.

The students, aged 21 and 22, who attend the same university as Adrian, Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java, have also been advised by their families not to continue their studies at the university.

They have informed the president of the Association of Malaysian Students in Indonesia (Malang branch) Noorul Redzuan Mahboob Ali of their intention.

"They saw the suspect kill their housemate so they are worried about their future if they were to continue pursuing their studies here," Noorul Redzuan said when contacted Wednesday.

Adrian's body, accompanied by the two students, was flown back to Malaysia earlier Wednesday in a Malaysia Airlines aircraft.

In the Monday incident, Adrian, 23, was reported to have been stabbed to death with sharp weapon in an attempt to prevent a thief from stealing his motorcycle outside his rented house in Malang.

Noorul Redzuan said the association now called on the Indonesian authorities to track down and bring the suspect to justice.

"All of Malaysian students in Malang and across Indonesia want to see justice done. We believe that the Indonesian authorities will be able to solve Adrian's murder case.

"At the same time, we are also thankful for the Malaysian Government's concern for the incident," he said, adding that the incident had also prompted other Malaysian students in Indonesia to pay extra attention to personal safety. - Bernama

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Slain medical student's body arrives home

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Traumatised housemates of slain M'sian student may not continue studies in Indonesia

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 06:44 AM PST

JAKARTA: Traumatised by the murder of their housemate Adrian Jay Pereira on Monday, two female Malaysian students will probably stop pursuing their medical studies in Indonesia.

The students, aged 21 and 22, who attend the same university as Adrian, Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java, have also been advised by their families not to continue their studies at the university.

They have informed the president of the Association of Malaysian Students in Indonesia (Malang branch) Noorul Redzuan Mahboob Ali of their intention.

"They saw the suspect kill their housemate so they are worried about their future if they were to continue pursuing their studies here," Noorul Redzuan said when contacted Wednesday.

Adrian's body, accompanied by the two students, was flown back to Malaysia earlier Wednesday in a Malaysia Airlines aircraft.

In the Monday incident, Adrian, 23, was reported to have been stabbed to death with sharp weapon in an attempt to prevent a thief from stealing his motorcycle outside his rented house in Malang.

Noorul Redzuan said the association now called on the Indonesian authorities to track down and bring the suspect to justice.

"All of Malaysian students in Malang and across Indonesia want to see justice done. We believe that the Indonesian authorities will be able to solve Adrian's murder case.

"At the same time, we are also thankful for the Malaysian Government's concern for the incident," he said, adding that the incident had also prompted other Malaysian students in Indonesia to pay extra attention to personal safety. - Bernama

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Terengganu MB to sue bloggers over khalwat claims

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 05:31 AM PST

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said will take legal action against bloggers who have accused him of being caught for khalwat.

Ahmad said he had been hearing stories about him caught for khalwat the past three months but had kept quiet because he regarded such baseless accusations as part of the challenges of a politician's life.

"But thinking of my daughter who comes home crying from school, saying that some bloggers have written all sorts of things about me, I have decided to sue these bloggers who have accused me of being caught for khalwat and other things.

"They said I was caught red-handed, caught for khalwat. There were different versions. Some said I was caught for khalwat with a UiTM student, others said it was with an air stewardess, a girl from Besut, girl from Pasir Panjang, girl from Batu Buruk..." he told reporters after chairing a state executive council meeting here Wednesday.

Ahmad said he would make a police report soon on the baseless allegations against him after discussing the matter with his lawyer.

He said so far, they had identified a number of bloggers responsible for defaming him.

"I advise them to stop their action or I will drag them to court. Hopefully, I can be a millionaire after this," he said. - Bernama

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Ricky Hui dies after heart attack

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 10:46 PM PST

HONG KONG: Actor/singer Ricky Hui died on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack.

The 65-year Ricky, the younger brother to Michael Hui and Sam Hui, had been suffering from heart problems and was dependent on an implant after undergoing surgery last year.

He was feeling unwell, and friends who dropped by to check on him complained that his doorbell went unanswered. He was later found dead by another brother - Stanley.

The news of Ricky's death was confirmed by Hong Kong filmmaker Clifton Ko and Sam Hui's concert producer Siu Chiu Shun. Ricky was slated to participate in Sam's concerts in April next year.

Ricky, who was active in Chinese cinema from the 1970s to the 90s, has 61 movies to his name and also recorded seven albums.

He was a correspondent with AFP in Hong Kong before embarking on a film career. However, his big break only came when he joined his brothers on screen, making memorable comedies that signified a new era in Hong Kong cinema.

His eldest brother is famed comedian Michael while Samuel is a renowned singer-songwriter, who is known as Hong Kong's first God of Song.

Ricky's popular movies include The Private Eyes (1976), Security Unlimited (1981), Mr Vampire (1985) and Chicken And Duck Talk (1988). His last film was Divergence in 2005.

Born in Guangdong, China in 1946, Ricky migrated with his family to Hong Kong in 1950. Besides Michael, Samuel and Stanley, he also has a sister - Judy.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Metro Watch

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:19 AM PST


A temporary traffic management scheme will be implemented on Kesas expressway from today to March 27. The affected stretch is from Km39 to Km40 (both bounds), between the Kewajipan Interchange and Subang Mewah. It involves the emergency lane closure and motorcycle track diversion to facilitate construction of the Sunway South Quay flyover. For enquiries, call the Kesas hotline at 03-5633 7188 or visit www. kesas.com.my.


The National House Buyers Association will be hosting the National Housing Seminar on Education on Housing Awareness on Sunday at 9am. HBA will also be hosting the Pemudah Focus Group on registering property this Saturday on understanding the "1 day adjudication and 1 day registration rule". Both events are at the Putra World Trade Centre, KL, from Nov 11-13. For details, call 03-2142 2225/ 012-3345 676 or visit www.hba.org.my.


A free medical camp will be organised by the Women Care and Counselling Centre of ELCM this Saturday from 9.30am-2pm at 22, Lebuh Berangan, Lucky Garden, Port Klang, (behind 99 Mini Market). There will be free check-ups for blood pressure, breast cancer, eye test, sugar test and counselling for women by qualified doctors. For details, call 03-3165 3934/ 010-273 8248 (Sritharan).


The Class of 1975 Arts 3 of St John's Institution will have their first reunion after 36 years this Saturday from 5pm onwards at Mist Club, Bangsar. Classmates who are based overseas will also be attending the reunion besides class teacher James Gonzales and Physical Education teacher Vincent Fernandez. All students and teachers who are interested to attend can contact 019-270 1027 (Augustes) or 012-321 1558 (Tony).


A free talk entitled Holistic Approach on Health Challenges will be organised by Cansurvive Malaysia on Nov 19 from 4pm- 6pm at the Malaysian Association for the Blind, Jalan Tebing, off Jalan Tun Sambanthan 4, Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free. To reserve a seat, SMS your name and e-mail address to 017-881 2287 or e-mail your name and handphone number to ucansurvive@gmail. com.


Oak Tree Discovery Playhouse is holding a free parenting talk on Montessori and Child Development this Saturday at 10am at 4, Jalan SS2/95, Petaling Jaya, (near SS2 Mall/ same row with SK Taman Sea). It is suitable for parents, preschool teachers, educators and anyone interested in Montessori playschool. For details, call 012- 399 0633 (Elaine).

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SMK Taman Connaught win one and lose one in volleyball meet

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:19 AM PST

IT WAS a day of mixed fortunes for the SMK Taman Connaught girls in their outing at the second Ayam A1 Kuala Lumpur Youth Volleyball Championships at the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Sports Arena recently.

After settling for second in the girls' Under-16 contest last year, they went one up and upstaged defending champions SMK Sri Sentosa in the recent championship encounter. But it was the other way round for the Under-14 girls. Despite being defending champions, they were beaten by SMK Jinjang in the final.

Although SMK Sri Sentosa stayed in contention in the early stages of the opening game, they could not prevent SMK Taman Connaught from wrapping up the match 25-17, 25-12 for the victory.

SMK Taman Connaught coach Jenny Ooi said her charges were prepared for the rematch against SMK Sri Sentosa.

"Going into the match, we knew we had the advantage because we came in full force. Our players were more experienced. Half of the squad of 12 members took part in the same tournament last year. We also have the services of several state representatives in our line-up. It was quite tight at the beginning of the opening game but they got into the rhythm and pulled away. They performed up to expectations throughout the tournament," she added.

In the girls' Under-14 final, defending champions SMK Taman Connaught failed in their bid to retain the title when they went down 24-26, 20-25 to SMK Jinjang.

Jenny praised their opponents for putting up a fighting display in fending off their challenges.

"It was a good learning curve for the newcomers in our team comprising Form One students. They are capable of doing better but they cracked under pressure. They could not handle the situation especially during the crucial moments. They will need to learn to stay calm and execute their game plan confidently in the future," she said.

Meanwhile, it was a fruitful outing for SM Chong Hwa Independent bagging a double at the expense of SMK Jinjang in the boys' contests.

SM Chong Hwa Independent edged SMK Jinjang 25-13, 25-22 in the boys' Under-14 final and their senior side repeated the winning ways by beating SMK Jinjang 25-12, 25-22 in the boys' Under-16 final.

SM Chong Hwa Independent's key player Lee Jie Qi also played a pivotal role in both victories.

And Jie Qi ended his campaign picking up the Most Valuable Player award in both the boys' Under-14 and Under-16 sections.

A total of 50 teams featured in four categories — boys' and girls' Under-14 as well as boys' and girls' Under-16 — at the recent five-day meet.




Best Server: Voon Yi Zhe (SM Chong Hwa Independent)

Best Receiver: Tan Ming Kai (SMK Jinjang)

Best Blocker: Tan Yi Ming (SMK Taman Connaught)

Best Setter: Chean Chen Kong (SM Chong Hwa Independent)

Best Spiker: Tan Song Hui (SMK Jinjang)

Most Valuable Player: Lee Jie Qi (SM Chong Hwa Independent)


Best Server: Leong Wei Loong (SMK Jinjang)

Best Receiver: Teo Yong Zhi (SM Chong Hwa Independent)

Best Blocker: Amir Farid Khali (Royal Military College)

Best Setter: Chai Ming Yong (SM Chong Hwa Independent)

Best Spiker: Goh Nai Qian (SMK Taman Connaught)

Most Valuable Player: Lee Jie Qi (SM Chong Hwa Independent)



Best Server: Koh Yi Wen (SMK Taman Connaught)

Best Receiver: Liew Yi Qi (SMK Jinjang)

Best Blocker: Cherise Ang (SMK Taman Connaught)

Best Setter: Low Pey Shin (SM Chong Hwa Independent)

Best Spiker: Law Jing Man (SMK Taman Connaught)

Most Valuable Player: Liew Yi Qi (SMK Jinjang)


Best Server: Nadia Nathalia Mohd Radzi (SMK Sri Sentosa)

Best Receiver: Ng Siew Teng (SMK Taman Connaught)

Best Blocker: Choy Mei Yi (SMK Sri Sentosa)

Best Setter: Lim Thong Jean (SM Chong Hwa Independent)

Best Spiker: Hazel Yap (SMK Taman Connaught)

Most Valuable Player: Ng Loke Yee (SMK Taman Connaught)

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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Fats that are good

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 04:12 AM PST

A health expert proclaims the benefits of good oils for enhanced well-being.

AT 69, Dr Udo Erasmus is fit, sharp, energetic, and according to him, it's because he's consuming the right fats.

The Canadian scientist, internationally recognised for his expertise on the subject of fats, cholesterol and human health, was in Kuala Lumpur a few months ago to promote his product, Udo's Oil™, on a world tour.

His message is simple: some fats heal, others will kill you; some promote cancer, while others inhibit cancer. Treat your body carefully and approach all health issues naturally.

He highlighted five categories of oils and fats that are detrimental to the human body: oils that have been hydrogenated, fried and refined, as they are unstable and stripped of nutrition, as well as excess hard fats from animals, and sugar, which the expert deems "unnatural to the human body".

"Although sugar isn't fat, our body turns excess sugars (and starches) into the same hard fats that make platelets more sticky and interfere with insulin function and essential fatty acid functions," he explained.

His diet consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and occasionally, meat.

Preparation of the food matters as much as the content itself.

"Whatever you can't eat raw, steam it. Fry nothing," he asserted.

Forget grill.

"If it's brown, flush it down," he piped, citing a rhyme his friend coined to describe the damaging effects of most foods that are prepared today.

However, he doesn't encourage people to consume little or no fat at all, for these diets lead to "stunted growth in children, dry skin, low energy levels, high cholesterol and enhance the likelihood of producing a leaky gut and allergies."

Low fat products are a joke, he remarked.

"They often taste like cardboard. And so as to give them taste, manufacturers load them with sugar, which our body turns into the same hard (saturated) fats, the avoidance of which was the reason for making the low fat foods in the first place!"

According to his research, the human body requires essential fatty acids (EFAs) on a cellular level for optimum functioning.

"The body cannot produce them from other foods (hence the term essential), so a direct source must be found," he explained.

He points out to the advantages of organic unrefined flax, sesame and sunflower seed oils, amongst others. The blend of raw seed oils that's meant to be drizzled over meals has a strong, raw taste that's not difficult to down and is otherwise complemented by other ingredients in dressings. Here is what's remarkable: this fat supposedly lowers blood fats.

Salmon oil, the other well-known source of omega 3, is not included in the mixture.

"It may contain mercury," he rebutted. "At any rate, the purest nutrients come from plants."

He is familiar with chemical poisoning, having experienced a bout of it from pesticides in 1980, during his research. It was that incident that moved him to develop his first flax seed oil, which proved to lack omega 3 and 6, leading the scientist to experience dry eyes and thin, papery skin.

"It caused me to start paying attention to the ratios of these nutrients," he said of his two initial productions.

The notion that the high fat diet that the baby boomers generation grew up on causes well-known health problems such as cardiovascular disease, elevated cholesterol, diabetes and other hazards is much discussed in his study.

Healthy fats are meant to bring about a number of health benefits, including heightened mental clarity, motor coordination, enhanced immune system function and softer skin.

Fitness enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that increased metabolic rates, energy, stamina and healthy weight loss are amongst the benefits to be derived from these EFAs.

Weight loss from oil consumption may seem surprising, but that's the difference between refined oils and essential fatty acids; the latter plays a role in cell membranes and helps the kidneys dump excess water held in tissues.

"I once spent some time researching nutrition in jails. White sugar, coffee, white flour, bread, pork chops – I believe that the brains of inmates could be made to function better by being fed better," he said. "Our streets would then be safer."

He is of the belief that our behaviour cannot be right if our foods are not right for our brains' biological requirements.

"Like the rest of the body, the entire brain is made from food," he said.

"A small study suggested that 90% of violent crimes are carried out when the perpetrator is suffering from low blood glucose, rendering the brain unable to discern right from wrong.

"People in depression or children with learning disabilities would benefit from improving their balance of these nutrients," he continued.

These EFAs are said to be potent enough to curb cravings and addictions to foods, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs as well as enhance fertility, since sperm formation requires fatty acids.

The benefits are endless. For a better idea, read Dr Erasmus' books: Fats And Oils: The Complete Guide To Fats And Oils In Health And Nutrition, Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill and Choosing The Right Fats.

"With the right unrefined supplements and a better diet overall, any person can live a more fulfilling, healthier life," he concluded.

For more information, log on to www.basichealth369.com.

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