Jumaat, 11 November 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Italy's Berlusconi to resign, end scandal-hit era


ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is expected to resign on Saturday, making way for an emergency government and ending one of the most scandal-plagued eras in Italy's post-war history.

Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a finance vote at the parliament in Rome November 8, 2011. (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

The Chamber of Deputies was due to start a debate at 1130 GMT on a package of economic reforms intended to reverse a collapse of market confidence.

The definitive approval of the package by the lower house will mark the final act of the Berlusconi government. He is expected to hold a last cabinet meeting and then go to the Quirinale Palace and hand his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano.

His resignation will trigger a series of events over the weekend and most likely conclude on Sunday night or Monday morning with the formation of new government headed by former European Commissioner Mario Monti.

Monti, currently head of the prestigious Bocconi University in Milan, is expected to head a largely technocratic government to push through reforms in an effort to head off a perilous crisis.

Napolitano and Italian legislators have put the process on a fast track, prompting healthy reactions from the stock and bond markets.

Italian bond yields, which shot way above sustainable levels earlier this week, fell sharply in response to acceleration of the process leading to Berlusconi's resignation and the approval of the reforms.

Global markets panicked earlier this week because of the sustained political turmoil in the euro zone's third largest economy, and Italy's borrowing costs shot above a "red line" of 7 percent -- the level at which Portugal and Ireland had to seek an international bailout.


Napolitano has received encouragement from various European heads of state, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German President Christian Wulff.

In telephone calls on Friday, all three agreed that the new measures must be enacted quickly because the situation in Italy was extremely worrying for all of Europe and particularly the euro zone.

Monti, a highly respected international economist, has been favoured by markets for weeks to lead Italy out of the crisis.

But although he would be supported by most centrists and the biggest opposition force, the Democratic Party, there is substantial opposition in Berlusconi's existing coalition.

Berlusconi has dominated the Italian scene since 1994 and has led three governments in 17 years.

After making a fortune in property and media, Berlusconi created his own party almost overnight to fill the void on the centre-right caused by the demise of the Christian Democratic party in the corruption scandals in the early 1990s.

His third and last stint in power, which began in 2008 when his centre-right won the national elections, has been the most scandal plagued.

His second wife left him 2009, accusing him of frequenting minors.

He leaves office facing four separate trials for fraud and having sex with a minor.

For much of this year, Italian newspapers have been filled with lurid details of "bunga-bunga" parties with young women at his luxurious residences in Rome, Milan and Sardinia.

One leaked wiretap had him boasting of having sex with eight women in one night and being so occupied with starlets that he was only prime minister "in my spare time".

(Reporting By Philip Pullella)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Niger offers asylum to Gaddafi son - report


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou said on Friday he had granted Muammar Gaddafi's son Saadi asylum on humanitarian grounds but did not know the location of another fugitive son Saif al-Islam, South African media reported.

The announcement will strain already troubled relations between Niger and Libya's interim rulers, who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi after an eight month uprising and want both sons to stand trial for alleged atrocities.

Al Saadi Gaddafi, the third son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, reacts to a question at a news conference in Sydney February 7, 2005. (REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/Files)

Saadi, a businessman and former professional footballer, is in Niger after escaping across the border from Libya when National Transitional Council (NTC) forces captured the capital Tripoli in August.

"We have agreed on granting asylum to Saadi Gaddafi for humanitarian reasons," the South African Press Association (SAPA) quoted Issoufou telling a news conference at the end of a two-day visit to South Africa.

Interpol has issued a "red notice" requesting member states to arrest Saadi with a view to extradition if they find him on their territory.

Libya's interim justice minister on Friday questioned Niger's grounds in granting asylum on humanitarian grounds, saying it was usually given to people facing persecution in their own country.

"But al-Saadi has practiced persecution and incitement to murder. He is accused of killing Tripoli football player and national team member Bashir Al Rayan ... There is strong circumstantial evidence that he was involved in that," Mohammed al-Alagi told Dubai-based Al Arabiya television.

Issoufou said he did not know the location of Saif al-Islam who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity.

"Saif al-Islam is not in Niger. I would have to consider what to do if he comes. We will deal with issues in terms of law and democracy and international agreements," Issoufou said.

Niger is a member of the Hague-based global court and officially would have to hand over Saif al-Islam if he arrived on its territory.

The ICC says it has been in indirect contact with Saif al-Islam to discuss him giving himself up.

He is believed to be deep in the Libyan desert.

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Additional reporting by Ali Abdelatti in Cairo Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Papademos sworn in to lead party-packed Greek cabinet


ATHENS (Reuters) - Technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos took office on Friday to save Greece from bankruptcy, heading a coalition cabinet filled with many of the same politicians who led the nation into crisis and pushed the euro zone to the brink of collapse.

Incoming Prime Minister Lucas Papademos stands outside the Presidential palace after a meeting with Greek political leaders in Athens November 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis)

At a colourful swearing-in ceremony, black-robed Orthodox priests, led by the Archbishop of Athens, blessed Papademos and a cabinet dominated by the two main parties which had bickered for four days before agreeing on the crisis coalition.

Apart from Papademos, a former European Central Bank vice president with no political experience, the cabinet's main new face is from the LAOS party -- the first time the far right has joined a Greek government since a military junta fell in 1974.

As politicians in Italy pushed through austerity measures and contemplated an emergency government to stave off the crisis creeping deeper into the euro zone, Papademos said his priority would be to meet the terms of the country's EU, IMF bailout and pull Greece out of recession.

"The final result will depend much on whether we succeed in stabilising the real economy, reining in unemployment and setting the ground to revive the economy and gradually boost employment in a relatively short time," he told his governing team in its first meeting.

"That's why I would like to ask everyone to do his best in the next coming days, weeks and months."

The line-up includes Socialist party power broker Evangelos Venizelos, who keeps the post of finance minister that he held in Papandreou's government.

Analysts said Papademos -- a quiet academic economist -- had to assert his authority over a cabinet packed with the hardened conservative and Socialist party politicians who took turns in power for decades as Greece built up a huge debt it could not manage, forcing an international bailout.

"Greece has a government that is the result of political compromise among three parties. It is obvious that there was a dealing of the cards," said Costas Panagopoulos, head of ALCO pollsters. "It all now depends on how the prime minister handles them."


The interim government of national unity, which has a bumper 48 ministers and their deputies, plans to announce its platform on Monday evening, then conduct a debate and win a confidence vote in parliament by early next week.

It has a clear mandate that may not be so simple to implement before it calls an early general election, tentatively agreed for Feb. 19.

It has to push through parliament Greece's second bailout deal in as many years -- a plan that includes fighting tax evasion, selling off state companies and cutting the public sector -- to get hold of 130 billion euros in long term funds.

But Athens also needs money fast from its IMF and EU lenders to meet big debt repayments due in December or face default, bankruptcy and the danger of leaving the euro zone.

Finance Minister Venizelos said securing a December aid tranche Athens needs next month would be the immediate focus.

"Our first priority is clear. It is the timely release of the 8 billion euro tranche before Dec. 15. There is readiness for this from our partners and the IMF for this to happen on time," he said.

A source from the so-called "troika" of the EU, the IMF and the ECB said inspectors would visit Athens early next week to speak with the new government and would clear the tranche only when it pledged to meet its commitments.

Both the Socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy parties say they will vote for the new bailout in parliament.

However, the package demands policies and reforms which are likely to be highly unpopular as the parties prepared for the elections, expected in February at the earliest.

It stipulates yet more of the punishing austerity that will push the country into a fourth year of recession, has sent unemployment soaring to a record 18.4 percent and brought Greeks out on to the streets in sometimes violent protests.


The two main parties kept Greece in suspense for days as they argued over who should lead the coalition, with one deal to install the speaker of parliament collapsing after Papandreou announced he was handing over to a new premier.

However, even after Papademos was confirmed as prime minister, manoeuvring over who got which job dragged on, with the cabinet list released only as ministers started arriving at the presidential palace to be sworn in.

Conservative Opposition leader Antonis Samaras agreed to back the new cabinet but refused to bow to pressure from Greece's lenders to buckle down on reforms.

"We are all well aware that our country has lost the last trace of decency in the last couple of days. Together we will restore it very quickly without accepting being humiliated or insulted," he said.

Far-right LAOS won their place at table of a cabinet that was supposed to include all parties. However, left-wing groups refused to participate.

On the streets of Athens, people welcomed a fresh face at least at the top, but hoped the consequences would not be too severe for a country weary of hardship.

"The measures that have already been announced will be imposed," said civil servant Yiannis Papageorgiou, 57, referring to a wave of pay and pension cuts, public sector layoffs and privatisations agreed under the bailout deal.

"But at least I hope that the new government will not take any further measures, because until now Greek workers have been the only ones who have been paying for the crisis."

(Additional reporting by Tatiana Fragou, Angeliki Koutantou, Karolina Tagaris and Ingrid Melander; Writing by Michael Winfrey and David Stamp; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

MSNBC to go ahead with Conrad Murray documentary

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 05:49 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com): MSNBC will go ahead with its plans to air the controversial documentary ''Michael Jackson and the Doctor'' Friday night, despite mounting controversy surrounding the special.

The documentary, which includes exclusive footage of Murray talking about Jackson and the trial, as well as scenes of Murray in meetings with his defense attorneys, has already sparked demands from the Jackson estate that MSNBC not air it.

Most recently, a security expert who drove Murray around town during his six-week trial revealed to the Los Angeles Times Thursday night that the British producer behind the documentary bought and delivered lunch for Murray and his attorneys throughout the trial.

The security exec, Louis Perry, also said producer Leon Lecash paid for transporting Murray and his attorneys to the courthouse throughout the trial, and that Lecash accompanied Murray when he went on a suit-shopping trip to Bloomingdales. Perry did not know who paid for the suits.

Lecash told the Times the food and transportation were ''legitimate location production costs.''

NBC's response: ''NBCUniversal licensed the documentary from Zodiak Rights. In connection with the documentary, NBCUniversal had the opportunity to conduct a promotional interview with Dr. Murray.

Neither Dr. Murray nor his legal defense were compensated in any way.''

Meanwhile, TMZ.com reports ''Michael Jackson and the Doctor'' aired in England Thursday night, and includes Murray's claims that Jackson was a bed-wetter and that Jackson concert promoter Randy Phillips had told him Jackson was ''next to skid row'' and almost homeless.

Phillips denied, under oath, ever having that conversation with Murray.

Murray's interview with NBC News aired Friday morning on ''Today,'' and in it, he continued to deny that he did anything wrong on the day Jackson died.

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The Star Online: Business

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Nasim unveils Peugeot 508 in Sabah

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 05:13 PM PST

KOTA KINABALU: Nasim Sdn Bhd has unveiled the internationally-acclaimed Peugeot 508 in Sabah.

The launch of the new Peugeot model was done at the Blue Box Kota Kinabalu at 1Borneo, Likas, near here.

The all-new Peugeot 508, with an on-the-road price of RM171,697, marks a new chapter for both Nasim and the Peugeot brand in the premium executive segment.

Nasim chief operating officer Datuk Samson Anand George said the Peugeot Blue Box was part of Nasim's expansion drive to ensure the Peugeot brand was represented in all the major markets in the country.

"With the launch of the Peugeot Blue Blox Kota Kinabalu, we are confident the new 508 will be a success in tbe Sabah market," he said at the launch.

Also present were Sabah State Secretary Datuk Sukarti Wakiman, Angkatan Hebat chairman Tan Sri Ampong Puyon and Automobiles Peugeot general director for Asean countries Lionel Faugeres.

Nasim appointed Angkatan Hebat Motor Sdn Bhd as its sole dealer in Sabah in June this year.

Angkatan Hebat Motor is a unit of Angkatan Hebat Sdn Bhd, the fleet management services provider to the Sabah state government and also a dealer for several commercial and passenger vehicle brands.

Samson said Angkatan Hebat plans to expand its dealership network in Sabah to key markets in the state from next year. — Bernama

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Maybank banks on MU for Asean credit card business

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 05:13 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), which is targeting 30,000 card members for its new Maybankard Manchester United credit card in the next one year, sees the introduction of this co-branded card as a platform to strengthen its credit card business in the Asean region.

The bank's chairman Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor said the collaboration between Manchester United (MU) and Maybank would further help its cards business to grow regionally with the internationally well known football club.

He said it would also at the same time offer significant opportunities for strategic and branding alliances, adding that Maybank was currently the leader in the card segment with a total credit card base of 1.5 million and an 18% market share.

Megat Zaharuddin said he was confident the new card would do well in the market as the bank was expecting a total of about 300,000 card members for the card over the next three years due to its benefits.

He said this at a press conference at the launching of Maybankard Manchester United card. The event was graced by former MU defender Gary Pallister, one of the club's best defenders.

Meanwhile, Maybank deputy president and head of community financial services Lim Hong Tat said the bank was aiming to be in the top five position in the credit card business in the Asean region (excluding Malaysia) by 2015 from the eight spot currently.

He said launching the Maybankard Manchester United would be a platform for it to expand its regional reach and it would soon introduce a similar card in Singapore. The co-branded card offers an array of multiple TreatPoints, discounts when purchasing MU merchandise online and at the Megastore in Old Trafford, and 20% off the Stadium Museum Tour at Old Trafford. The card's annual fee is waived for life.

Every newly approved card will stand a chance to win two all paid expense hospitality match tickets to watch Manchester United vs Liverpool live at Old Trafford including seven days / four nights accommodation and flight tickets.

The card also comes with attractive loyalty points where every RM1 spent is equivalent to one TreatsPoint, of which every ringgit spent on petrol and groceries earns them five TreatsPoints. Ten TreatsPoints are given for all online purchases of MU merchandise at www.manutd.com.

Cardholders are entitled to five times TreatsPoints for all retail purchases on Manchester United match days and upon the Club winning the Premier League game. The TreatsPoints will never expire and cardholders can redeem whenever they wish.

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Beverage maker partners with Singapore’s FCL to develop Section 13 land

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 05:12 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd (F&N) and its subsidiary, Vacaron Company Sdn Bhd (VCSB), will team up with with FCL Centrepoint Pte Ltd (FCLC) from Singapore to develop two parcels of leasehold land in Section 13, Petaling Jaya.

AmInvestment Bank Bhd told Bursa Malaysia yesterday that pursuant to the shareholders agreement, F&N and FCLC would each have 50% equity in VCSB to develop the land which is now occupied by Premier Milk (Malaya) Sdn Bhd and F&N Dairies (M) Sdn Bhd, both of which are subsidiaries of F&N.

The proposed joint venture (JV) between F&N and FCLC via VCSB, being the owner of the land measuring 554,264 sq ft, was to undertake a proposed mixed development project comprising hotel, offices, shopping mall, retail properties and residential properties. According to the SSA, FCLC agreed to subscribe 500,000 ordinary shares in VCSB for RM500,000 cash for the 50% stake.

"The company is unable to disclose the specific details of the proposed development as VCSB has yet to obtain the relevant authorities's approval for the proposed development and building plan," it said.

The proposed JV is expected to contribute positively towards the future financial performance of the F&N Group.

However, it is conditional upon approvals obtained from shareholders of F&N at the forthcoming EGM and any relevant authorities, if required.

Meanwhile, during the commissioning of the F&N Dairies plant at Pulau Indah yesterday, CEO Datuk Ng Jui Sia said the RM350mil plant was completed ahead of schedule and ready for commercial production early next year.

"The plant will replace our dairy manufacturing facility in Petaling Jaya and this new plant will have an initial planned capacity in excess of 14 million cases annually," he said.

On the current flood situation in Thailand, which had affected F&N's dairies operation in that country, Ng said production capacity at the Petaling Jaya plant had been ramped up by an additional 20% to cater to the needs of the Thai and Indochina markets until the situation returned to normal. The Pulau Indah plant is the second greenfield canned milk plant after its RM250mil dairy plant in Rojana, Thailand, which was officially opened last June.

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The Star Online: Sports

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Rallying: Loeb wins eighth title after Hirvonen quits

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 05:38 PM PST

France's Sebastien Loeb won an eighth successive world rally championship title on Friday after Mikko Hirvonen's dream of ending his record run ended when his Ford stopped on the first full day of the Rally of Britain. Citroen's Loeb, who came into the season-ending rally eight points clear of Hirvonen, had his title confirmed when a Ford spokesman said his rival's car was too badly damaged to restart the event on Saturday. The Finn had hit a submerged branch and damaged the car's radiator.

"He's definitely out. He's not re-starting," added the spokesman.

"It's over for sure," Hirvonen told the official wrc.com website of his bid for a first title.

"I have to thank the team for a really good effort and all the help. Unfortunately we have to look to the future and see what we can do."

Hirvonen, who had taken the overall lead earlier in the day from Loeb, had to pull over on the road while attempting to nurse the Ford back to the service area in Builth Wells in central Wales.

The Finn's Fiesta had hit the branch on the seventh stage.

"There was a big slide and the rear touched the bank," he said.

"I spun and it pulled the front of the car into a bank where there was a tree stump. The wood came through the radiator. There was no real damage but we lost all the water in the engine. We carried on for five-six km but that was it."

Even before he stopped, Hirvonen had lost almost four minutes to Loeb, the overnight leader after three stages on Thursday, because of the incident.

"It's devastating to go out in an incredible battle with Sebastien Loeb," said Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson.

"It's a huge disappointment for the whole team after getting back into the championship fight again and then sadly losing it on the first day of the event."

Loeb had started the rally with 222 points to Hirvonen's 214 and Citroen's Sebastien Ogier, who crashed out on Thursday, on 193 with just 25 remaining to be won.

The Frenchman leads after the first leg by 1.1 seconds from Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala, with Norway's Mads Ostberg in third.

The final rally of the season concludes on Sunday.

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Berdych ends Murray's long winning streak

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 05:35 PM PST

PARIS, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Andy Murray's winning streak came to an end when the world number three slumped to a 4-6 7-6 6-4 quarter-final defeat at the Paris Masters after a three-hour tussle against the fifth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych on Friday. British second seed Murray, who was on a 17-match winning run, was two points from victory at 5-5 in the second set tiebreak but Berdych kept his composure to set up a meeting with Roger Federer who beat Juan Monaco 6-3 7-5.

World number four Federer found himself trailing 3-1 in the opening set but the Swiss 16-times grand slam champion reeled off five games in a row to take the lead.

He was made to wait in the second set, breaking only in the 11th game before wrapping it up with an ace.

World number one Novak Djokovic pulled out with a shoulder injury before his quarter-final match against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the sixth seed (see ), who will take on either American John Isner or Spaniard David Ferrer.

Murray and 2005 Paris Masters champion Berdych, however, provided the Bercy crowd with a good, old-fashioned dogfight.

The Scot, who withdrew from the Swiss Indoors in Basel last week with injury, claimed a hat-trick of titles during the Asian swing but Berdych ended his hopes of arriving at the ATP World Tour finals in London with another piece of silverware.

"He didn't miss a first serve I don't think on any of the break points," Murray told a press conference.

"On this surface that's a huge advantage. A couple of times he hit a forehand bang onto the line, and you can't do too much about that.

"So it's easy to say, yeah, you had opportunities, but it's what - how he plays on them. If he plays well, can't do much about it."

Murray staved off three break points early on, then stole Berdych's serve on his second opportunity with a powerful passing winner in the seventh game.


Berdych then saved seven set points, but Murray bagged the opener on his service game on his ninth attempt with a fine crosscourt forehand winner.

Berdych's forehand began to fire in the second set and he sent down some sizzling returns to move 3-0 ahead.

A bout of nerves, however, cost him a break just as he served to level the tie at 5-3, but the Czech regained his composure in the tiebreak which he won 7-5.

Murray's frustration boiled over in the third set with one rant at the umpire after Berdych was awarded new balls, while facing two break points.

"Tomas decided that the balls were too soft - which they weren't," he explained.

"The umpire gave him three brand new balls to serve with... I wasn't aware that they were just changing three brand new balls. Then that totally changed the way the ball plays and the court plays. That was what happened. I just asked, Is it not normal to let the opponent also see the balls?"

Murray got a warning in the process.

"Actually I said bollocks to the chair umpire and that got me a warning. I have been to watch a lot of football matches and you say a lot worse than that and you don't get yellow card," he said.

Berdych broke decisively in the ninth game of the deciding set when Murray served a double fault just as the clock ticked past the three-hour mark.

He followed up on serve, ending the contest after three hours 12 minutes on his second match point when Murray sent a forehand wide.

"There was everything in that match. There were long games, long rallies...," Berdych told reporters. "I was feeling great."

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Gold Coast to host 2018 Commonwealth Games

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 05:31 PM PST

Australia's Gold Coast has been chosen to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the event's governing body said in St Kitts and Nevis on Friday. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) opted for Gold Coast by a 43-27 margin over its only rival, the Sri Lankan city of Hambantota.

The subtropical beachside region of Queensland will bring the Games to Australia for a fifth time, after Sydney in 1938, Perth (1962), Brisbane (1982) and Melbourne (2006).

"We've done a lot of hard work and it was very clear earlier in the week that there were a lot delegates wanting to support Hambantota," a jubilant Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said. "It's been a very, very close vote.

"There was a good chance that we weren't going to make it. We had seven (presentation) rehearsals, we've lobbied everybody, people have had jet-lag all week.

"At the end of all that, the hard work has paid off. I am so proud of this team, I am so proud of the Gold Coast and I am so proud of being a Queenslander tonight."

The Gold Coast bid represented the safer of the two with the CGF still smarting from the public relations disaster that surrounded the Delhi Games last year when last-minute government intervention was required to clean up filthy facilities and dangerous infrastructure.

Many top athletes such as Jamaica's multiple Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt skipped the 2010 Games because the timing did not fit their schedules, while other athletes stayed away because of security concerns which proved unfounded.

Sri Lanka had been bidding to stage the Games for the first time, with the Asian continent having previously played host just twice with Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and India's New Delhi last year.

Winning the right to host the 2018 Games would have given Sri Lanka a timely opportunity to change the world's perception of the war-hit country.

The Indian Ocean island nation is emerging from the end of a three-decade conflict amid war crime allegations, and more than 100,000 people were killed before hostilities ended in May 2009.


The port city of Hambantota was ravaged by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Sri Lanka had hoped to secure the 2018 Games to help attract infrastructure investment to boost redevelopment.

Its supporters, including retired cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, urged voters to give Sri Lanka a chance to rebuild their country through the Games.

But despite government guarantees, there were concerns about the long-term sustainability of such a massive project.

"A Games staged in the Gold Coast presents a low risk, subject to village development arrangements being secured, while a Games in Hambantota presents a medium to high risk," a Commonwealth Games Federation Evaluation Commission report said.

The report on Hambantota later noted, "Should the delivery of infrastructure be delayed or otherwise materially compromised, the impact of the Games and the financing of mitigation arrangements would be substantial."

Malaysia's Prince Tunku Imran, who replaced Michael Fennell of Jamaica as CGF president earlier on Friday, was asked by reporters about the need for the Games to be shared more fairly across the globe.

Sixteen of the previous 19 editions have been staged in Australia, Britain, Canada or New Zealand.

"Certainly in terms of making the Commonwealth Games the desirable Games for the top athletes ... the top attraction for the broadcasters ... the top attraction for spectators ... we have got to ensure that all those factors are satisfied by where those Games are located," Imran said.

"In terms of geo-political considerations, these are always important. Sri Lanka has demonstrated quite clearly that a country like Sri Lanka does have the capability of hosting the Games.

"It's a matter of timing. As a federation, we have to encourage others by convincing them there are real benefits of hosting the Games."

The 2014 Games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Petronas: MACC probing alleged wrongdoing

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 06:41 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: Petronas has clarified the recent visit by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers to its headquarters as "part of the agency's standard operating procedures following any complaints of any alleged wrongdoing."

"Officials of the MACC were at Petronas headquarters recently to facilitate its first information report procedure, which is part of the agency's standard operating procedures," the national oil company said in a statement.

The statement was issued following a report of a raid on the company by MACC.

The statement said there was no raid on the company and no files or documents were "carted away" by the agency as alleged.

Petronas reiterated its strong commitment and adherence to internationally recognised process and procedures in its award and tendering process and has a zero tolerance policy against corrupt practices.

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Khairy defends RM10mil condo purchase by minister's firm

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 05:51 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has come to the defence of Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil over the purchase of a RM10mil luxury condominium in Bangsar.

He stressed that the PKR machinery had gone into overdrive to paint a picture of power abuse surrounding the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC).

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution claimed on Thursday that the condo in One Menerung was listed under the NFC, a project managed by the Women, Family and Community Development Minister's family.

Khairy, who is Rembau MP, said the condo was bought for investment as the minister's family firm, National Meat and Livestocks Corporation (NMLC), found itself with surplus funds when the government could not develop satellite cattle farms.

It decided on real estate investment as a means to put the excess liquidity to work, said Khairy.

"The management made a decision that the best return on investment would have been from real estate," he said.

The Auditor-General's Report 2010 criticised the NFC, pointing out that it was now "in a mess".

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PM: General election will not be this year

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 04:41 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has squashed talk about the general election being held this year.

The 13th general election will not be held this year, the Prime Minister said when asked about it at the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting Friday.

Speculation has been rife that Najib would dissolve Parliament Friday.

Najib said the election date was not discussed at the meeting.

He said the meeting only discussed measures to strengthen the coalition so that it would emerge stronger to face the election.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Marvel mutant upgrade

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 01:44 AM PST

THE way that the much hyped Dark X-Men: The Confession's storyline fizzled out two years ago has made me wary of new developments in the X-Men universe. It will take something massive to get me back on board. Schism, this year's main mutant event, looks the part to reignite my interest in the X-Men – more so as it aims to split them up. Let's roll out three X-Men books built to reshape the Marvel mutant landscape.

X-Men: Schism #5 (of 5 / Marvel / US$3.99)

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Adam Kubert

Every ending has a beginning and this is where the X-Men commence their reconstruction. The plot revolves around Cyclops and Wolverine's differing leadership and views on mutant upbringing. The presence of the Hellfire Club's new Black King, Kade Kilgore, also makes things interesting in terms of mayhem. Unlike his suave predecessors (Sebastian Shaw and Shinobi Shaw), Kade's barely reached the age of puberty but is already a master strategist when it comes to creating chaos.

As read earlier, Kade instigates a mutant incident at an International Arms Conference (in X-Men: Schism #1).

This Sentinels' "smokescreen" certainly distracts the X-Men's attention, particularly its leader Cyclops, resulting in a series of misunderstandings between Wolverine and him. The last straw comes in the form of a direct assault on Utopia by a Sentinel, prompting both Cyclops and Wolverine to retaliate in different ways.

The two senior X-Men's love-hate relationship is driven to boiling point. Ironically, it is the Sentinel's onslaught that stops them from killing each other. When the dust settles, it is obvious that Utopia isn't big enough for the both of them.

Wolverine decides to leave ... but not without his own band of mutants (read the X-Men: Regenesis one-shot for full details).

The idea of ending Cyclops-Wolverine's "bromance" is inevitable but I wonder why Marvel took this long to capitalise on it – more so when the movie version had already done it.

Despite this, Schism still qualifies as a milestone event and this cover (as well as any cover featuring a Sentinel) is worthy of a full poster treatment! Consequently, life post-Schism diverts into two main titles: Wolverine And The X-Men and a new Uncanny X-Men title.

Wolverine And The X-Men #1

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Chris Bachalo

When Wolverine first set foot in Professor X's school three decades ago (the now infamous Giant Size X-Men #1), the bets were that he wouldn't make it past half-a-dozen issues. Apart from being a loner, what worked against him most was his infatuation for the late Jean Grey (then Cyclops' beau).

Last month, the unthinkable happened – ol' Canucklehead rebuilds Xavier's school (aptly renamed Jean Grey School For Higher Learning) and assumes his role. This is extremely remarkable as it shows Wolverine's transition from rogue mutant to complete mutant persona.

Having rooted for Team Cyclops during Jean's time, I used to have this bias against Wolverine's contribution to the team.

The thought of a cigar-smoking wild card leading the team was not my cup of tea.

More of a concern was his growing influence, resulting in various Wolverine permutations (Weapon X, Nyx, Lady Deathstrike, etc) and the constant memory-teasers.

It took me this long a time to acknowledge that Wolverine is actually a great (not just the "best at what he does") influence to the Children of the Atom and this issue marks the renaissance of a true mutant.

After Schism #5, Wolverine leads his group of Utopian mutants to familiar territory – the ruins of 1407 Graymalkin Lane.

He succeeds in not only rebuilding the school but also fortifying its premises – check out the new Danger Room!

However, nothing could have prepared him for this challenge. While Xavier's original team had to fend off visits by Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the damage by them is nowhere as devastating as a visit by the Big Apple's Education Department.

In case you have the impression that this Jason Aaron-inspired title mirrors a "Damage Control" spoof, rest assured that there is some logic to the situation. Unlike past battles, the school's failure to meet the Education Department's "fit and proper" test is a serious problem.It points to a dismal future for the Utopian leavers and other new mutants.

Fortunately for Wolverine, he is supported by an able administration, comprising Kitty Pryde (Headmistress), Hank Pym @ Beast (Vice Principal) and a host of senior staff members (Rachel, Rogue, Iceman and Gambit).

Overall, I enjoyed this issue, not because of the Cyclops-free element, but mainly due to its concept. The idea of adding "responsibility" into Wolverine's persona is always a refreshing change and the traces of Fables (DC-Vertigo's superb series) gives the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning a good platform for future stories.

Uncanny X-Men #1 (Marvel / US$3.99)

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Carlos Pacheco

WHILE I'm not surprised that Emma Frost is still wearing Cyclops' pants, I have no idea why once ego-maniacs like Namor and Magneto are now obedient team players.

Equally puzzling is Colossus' ability to transform into the Juggernaut but I am glad that his sister, Illyana Rasputin @ Magik is back (from the dead).

Apart from Magneto, I thought Danger was once an X-villain but her induction into the team certainly boosts its firepower.

Confusion aside, what I do like about this Uncanny title is Cyclops' "backbone", especially when it comes to standing up for the mutants. On paper, Cyclops has the most powerful X-Men roll call to date and if he can balance the egos and self interest of his team mates, without further losing his dignity, he might just turn out to be the greatest leader in mutant folklore.

However, threatening to rain on Cyclops' parade are two people – Mr Sinister, who's back with a vengeance (with a Celestial at his disposal). Then there's also Emma, whose flirtatious dealings with Namor opens up a new dimension to teamwork.

While this gathering may be a recipe for disaster, my gut tells me otherwise.

Comics courtesy of Earth 638 (2nd Floor Kelana Mall, Jalan SS6/12, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor). Hotline: 03-7804 8380, e-mail: earth638@yahoo.com.

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Growing up tough

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 01:40 AM PST

If Jack's In Love

Author: Stephen Wetta

Author: Amy Einhorn Books, 358 pages

IT'S hard being a boy genius, and 12-year-old Jack Witcher knows this better than anyone else.

He lives with his family in a Virginia suburb where the neighbours stay away from their house.

His dad has lost his job again and his older brother, a pot-smoking hippie, gets involved in the disappearance of the town's golden boy.

Life is tough, especially since he is in love with the missing boy's sister. But the only Jew in town, Mr Gladstein, is on his side, and together they must work to overcome the prejudices of the town people.


Author: Jo Nesbo

Publisher: Vintage Crime, 263 pages

ROGER Brown is an expert at what he does – corporate headhunting. But his and his wife Diana's luxurious lifestyle means they spend more than he earns.

One night, he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a CEO job, but also might be the answer to his financial woes. But when Roger breaks into his apartment to steal a valuable painting, he finds more than he bargained for.

Then people start dying, and he realises that Clas is not who he seems to be. The book is translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett.

The Truth Will Out

Author: Anna McPartlin

Publisher: Penguin, 392 pages

Interior designer Harri Ryan never felt like she belonged in the family, despite her close relationship with George, her twin brother. She has tried to marry the love of her life before, but it didn't work out. Now, she's attempting it a second time, but a panic attack strikes and she ends up in the hospital in her wedding dress.

As the celebrations are called off and the truth behind the odd turn of events start to emerge, she finds herself struggling to cope. It's a different reality than the one she grew up in and she doesn't really know what to do.

Final Witness

Author: Simon Tolkien

Publisher: Harper, 351 pages

SIR Peter Richardson has it all: a loving family, a grand country house and a promising career as the British minister for defence. But he neglects his family and spends all his time on his job and the beautiful Greta Grahame.

Then his wife is murdered by two armed robbers. His son, Thomas, is a witness and he accuses Greta as the mastermind. Unfortunately, this dreamy 16-year-old is known for his overactive imagination, so no one knows whether to take him seriously.

The Affair

Author: Lee Child

Publisher: Bantam Press, 427 pages

Lee Child is back with his man's man hero, Jack Reacher, this time delving into Jack's past.

In this novel, Jack is still an MP in the Army and is sent off to keep tabs on the investigation into the murder of a woman that took place in a little town right next to a hush-hush army base. He's supposed to keep his distance from local authorities but, naturally, Jack disobeys. Besides, the local authorities come in the form of a very beautiful former Marine, Elizabeth Deveraux.

The plot twists and turns come fast and furious, as Jack finds himself having to choose between his conscience and his orders.


Author: Jenny Ungless

Publisher: Advantage Quest, 258 pages

WANT to move ahead in your career? You might be just three steps away from achieving that dream. You just need to take control, get noticed and shine.

This book provides the reader with a manual to climb the corporate ladder. There's a lot of talent out there, so you have to make sure that you stand out. Learn how to set goals, refine your strengths, grab opportunities and become indispensable in the workplace.

English Language & Composition

Author: Maureen Lindner

Publisher: Advantage Quest, 349 pages

WHY do you use a comma? When do you use it? Why is punctuation so important? What are the most common errors students make when they write an essay? How do you stop making the same mistakes? This book focuses on various aspects of writing. Among other topics, it includes exercises on types of sentences, grammatical errors, exceptions to the rule and the writing process.

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People’s doc

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 01:29 AM PST

Here's a book for our times that all Malaysians should read.

WHILE many witness momentous events in their lives, few participate in them, much less leave their mark. Dr M.K. Rajakumar (1932-2008), on the contrary, left an indelible mark at every phase of his eventful life. An Uncommon Hero: M.K. Rajakumar In Politics And Medicine, to be launched tomorrow, is the recollection of the life of a man who was very much the rakyat's champion.

As a medical student at the Singapore campus of Universiti Malaya, he co-founded the University Socialist Club and later faced a charge of sedition for an editorial in the club's newsletter, Fajar, that condemned Western imperialism and aggression in Asia.

While he was practising medicine in Malaya in the 1960s, he also became part of the leadership of the Labour Party and Barisan Sosialis. Because of his convictions, Dr Rajakumar spent 1966 to 1969 behind bars under the ISA.

In an article in The Star reporting Dr Rajakumar's death, aged 72, in 2008, historian Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Khay Kim was quoted as saying he had first met Dr Rajakumar at UM in the 1950s, when the doctor was active in the Socialist Club there. "Dr Rajakumar was very dedicated to his cause. As a medical doctor he could have spent his time making money, but he was only interested in helping people."

The same report also quoted former Bar Council president Haji Sulaiman Abdullah, who held Dr Rajakumar in high regard: "He was a very caring person and was adored by those who knew him. I was told that he used to have a very run-down clinic in flats in Loke Yew (in Kuala Lumpur). When asked to move, he simply answered that the people were too poor and couldn't afford a doctor and if he moved out they would have no one."

After the Labour Party was deregistered in 1972, Dr Rajakumar immersed himself fully in the medical profession with the same zeal and commitment he had shown for politics. His core concerns were equitable and affordable universal health care and holistic medicine as embodied by family practice.

Dr Rajakumar devoted three decades to founding and nurturing the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia. He elevated his crusade for primary health care and family medicine to the international level through the World Organisation of Family Doctors. Posthumously, a global movement for mentoring young family doctors, The Rajakumar Movement, was named after him.

Through historical investigations, personal recollections and tributes from colleagues, friends and family – including Syed Husin Ali, Jomo K.S., Wang Gungwu, and Ronald McCoy, among many others – this book constructs the portrait of a remarkable man who inspired many with the power of his intellect and the force of his convictions.

The book's launch tomorrow will be followed by a panel discussion with the book's author/editor, history researcher Tan Pek Leng; Dr Poh Soo Kai, a key player in the history of Malaya and Singapore who spent much of his adult life as a political detainee; and historian and activist Fahmi Reza. The discussion will be moderated by Jacqueline Ann Surin, co-founder and editor of online weekly, The Nut Graph. After the discussion, there will be a reading of the poem SahabatKu, written by National Laureate Datuk Usman Awang for Dr Rajakumar.

The launch is open to the public and will begin at 2.30pm tomorrow at NN Gallery (No. 53A & 56 Jalan Sulaiman 1, Taman Ampang Hilir, 68000 Ampang, Selangor). For enquiries, call Ivy at 012-212 9278 or Sherry at 012-291 9925.

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Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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11-11-11: Mystery date

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 06:28 AM PST

Numbers seem to be the order of the day.

HAVE you heard about the film called 11-11-11? True to its title, it is all about the numbers and even has this ominous tagline: "Mark the date; you can't stop what's coming".

Written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (of the Saw franchise fame), it starts horrifically enough with a small boy and his mother trapped in a burning house. That is also the dream author Joseph Crone (played by Timothy Gibbs) has almost every night, as the deaths of his son and his wife one year ago continue to haunt him. The date of that tragedy is Nov 11, a date that is only a few days away when the audience first meets Crone.

From that moment, Crone keeps seeing the digits being repeated everywhere – be it in a hospital room that he ends up in after an accident, or in Barcelona where he visits his dying father under the care of his pastor brother. Get this, his mother died on Nov 11 too.

Like any smart guy who wants to research the number, he quickly searches the Internet and learns there is a group called the "Eleveners" making all sorts of claims about the date. As the film countdowns to Nov 11, 2011, Crone also begins to see and hear strange things, especially at 11:11pm.

Director Bousman doesn't stray too far from the style of 70s horror films. However, he also chooses to craft his scare tactics from cheap trickery (think creatures popping up out of dark corners, tense eerie music, crazy stalkers and maniacal-looking housekeepers).

This particular movie won't be making its way to Malaysian cinemas, but you never know when or where those numbers might pop up.

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Immortals: War and horror

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 06:28 AM PST

DATES have an important role to play when it comes to movie releases. Animated films are usually scheduled closer to school holidays, blockbusters are released during summer break in the United States and the special days naturally have their own special movies (for example, Valentine's Day and Christmas).

The newest film from director Tarsem Singh, titled Immortals, is set for release in the United States today. Even though the date has no significance in the story, the numbers 11.11.11 have been used to awesome effect in the film's trailers since the first teaser came out last year.

Immortals is set in ancient Greece when King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), in his goal to become the master of the world, goes on a murderous rampage with his army. But a super man decides to stop the king's rampage – a stonemason named Theseus (Henry Cavill) whose mother was one of Hyperion's victims.

Now, Immortals has the same vibe as 300. Maybe that's because the producers – Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton – were the ones behind 300 as well, but the duo were convinced they had a winner in the script written by Greek-American brothers, Charley and Vlas Parlapanides.

In the film's production notes provided by Nusantara Edaran Filem, it is reported that the brothers created an original narrative with Immortals that remains true to the spirit of Greek mythology. Charley said: "We use familiar archetypes, but they're spun on their heads. At the heart of the story is a man who starts off as a non-believer and then goes on a journey that transforms him into a hero and a martyr."

Singh said: "I love reading Greek myths, but I was not interested in making a film based on the originals. So I thought ... like in Renaissance painting, use the mythology as the basis, but add things relevant to our time."

On the other hand, leading man Cavill – who will next be seen as Clark Kent/Superman in Zack Snyder's Superman: Man Of Steel – preferred to immerse himself in the world created by Singh instead of doing extensive historical research. Cavill explained: "You can draw some parallels to the popular mythology of Theseus, but this certainly is not the traditional story. This is a battle of men versus men. There are gods and there are Titans, but they do not take a direct hand in man's affairs."

Like 300, the fight scenes are of utmost importance and, of course, grand. Hence, there was an army of fight choreographers, trainers and stunt people all working together to make the scenes as explosive as possible.

Other than special effects, great battles and a beautiful cast (including Luke Evans and Kellan Lutz), the film showcases a number of costumes that are apparently designed "for the ultimate 3D experience." Cavill, for one, has sculpted his body – thanks to a tough regime – to look almost like those marble statues. – Mumtaj Begum

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Coming Soon

Posted: 11 Nov 2011 06:24 AM PST

Happy Feet 2 – Mumble, the star of the first movie, is now a dad in Happy Feet 2! He is having some problems connecting with his son, Erik, who is "choreo-phobic". Erik is so afraid of dancing that he runs away from home to escape the dancing frenzy. While walking aimlessly, he bumps into The Mighty Sven – a penguin who can actually fly – who takes Erik back home.

Amazed by The Mighty Sven's abilities and talent, Erik starts to idolise him, much to Mumble's disappointment. However, when their homeground is threatened by forces that the penguins cannot handle, Mumbles takes the lead in uniting all creatures together, to fight against nature.

This sequel features the voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Pink, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Sofia Vergara, Common, Hugo Weaving and Benjamin Flores Jr.

Legendary Amazons – Based on a famous Chinese opera, this movie is set in the Song Dynasty and tells the story of how the womenfolk of the Yang family managed to save their kingdom after taking over the army from the men, who were all massacred in a previous battle. Starring Cecilia Cheung, Richie Jen and Cheng Pei-Pei.

Aku Bukan Tomboy – A tomboy, who has been raised single-handedly by her father after the death of her mother, finds herself having a crush on a boy. However, what she doesn't realise is that another boy has feelings for her too. Starring Syamsul Yusof, Scha Al-Yahya, Shaheizy Sam, Eira Syazira and Harun Salim Bachik.

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