Ahad, 13 November 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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Kim Kardashian sues publicist who called wedding a sham

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 05:18 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Kim Kardashian has hired lawyer Marty Singer to silence a man identifying himself as her former publicist and asserting that her 72-day marriage to basketball player Kris Humphries was a sham.

According to TMZ, Kardashian is seeking $200,000 in legal damages from Jonathan Jaxson.

On Friday, Jaxson told ''Good Day L.A.'' that he worked for the E! reality star from 2007 to 2009 and that the marriage was staged.

Kardashian claims that Jaxson worked for her on only one project - a blog - and that he is in violation of a signed confidentiality document.

According to TMZ, Singer has filed papers on the matter to a party specializing in private arbitration.

On his personal blog, Jaxson released the following statement over the weekend: ''To the best of my knowledge, I have never signed an agreement dealing with confidentiality with Kim Kardashian. I have an agreement in my possession that does not have either (party's) signature on it.''

A query for comment from Kardashian's publicity team by TheWrap has not yet been responded to.

On Friday, Jaxson told ''Good Day L.A.'' that ''the whole show itself was staged to a T.''

Earlier, on the syndicated radio program ''Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,'' Jaxson said, ''She knew weeks before getting married she didn't want to do it. She's never gotten over (former boyfriend/NFL player Reggie Bush).''

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The Star Online: World Updates

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Mario Monti named to head new Italy government


ROME (Reuters) - Italy's president appointed former European Commissioner Mario Monti on Sunday to head a new government charged with implementing urgent reforms to end a crisis that has endangered the whole euro zone.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Mario Monti looks on following a talk with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinale palace in Rome November 13, 2011. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

After a frenetic weekend during which parliament passed the reforms and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stepped down to the jeers of hostile crowds, President Giorgio Napolitano asked Monti to form a government, expected to be composed largely of technocrats.

The respected economist, made a life Senator last week, said he would work urgently to form a government and is likely to name around 12 ministers within days.

"I intend to fulfil this task with a great sense of responsibility in the service of our country. In a moment of particular difficulty for Italy, in a turbulent situation for Europe and the world, the country needs to meet the challenge," Monti said after his nomination.

"We owe it to our children to offer them a future with dignity and hope," he added.

A process that normally takes several days or weeks was completed over the weekend as Napolitano raced to restore market confidence, which collapsed disastrously last week.

After nominating Monti, the president said that Italy must make an extraordinary effort to overcome the crisis and to restore the trust of investors and European institutions.

Italy's borrowing costs soared to unmanageable levels last week, threatening a Europe-wide financial meltdown.

Markets calmed down at the end of the week once it became clear that Berlusconi would go and Monti would take his place. Rome will watch on Monday to see if the formal nomination will continue the positive effect on markets.

If Monti manages to secure enough backing in parliament, he will implement reforms agreed by Berlusconi with euro zone leaders to cut Italy's massive debt and revive a chronically stagnant economy.

There are clear signs that he will face problems, with Angelino Alfano, secretary of Berlusconi's PDL party, saying there was "huge opposition" in its ranks to a Monti government.

Alfano said after meeting Napolitano on Sunday afternoon, however, that the party -- which has been badly split by the crisis -- would support Monti.


Outgoing Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, a senior figure in the devolutionist Northern League, confirmed that the party opposed the expected technocrat government and said Monti would face an uphill battle.

"The decisions which Monti will take must pass in parliament and I think that with such a heterogeneous majority he will have many problems. I believe this solution will lead to many problems," Maroni said in a television interview.

The League, allied with the PDL in the outgoing government, adamantly opposes pension reform that would hit older voters who are among its key supporters.

Italy's political turmoil was very much centred on the flamboyant, scandal-plagued figure of Berlusconi and thousands of demonstrators partied in the streets of Rome on Saturday night after he resigned.

The normally ebullient media magnate cut a forlorn figure as he stared from his car, looking pale and drawn, when he left Napolitano's palace to shouts of "clown, clown".

He said in a televised message on Sunday that he was saddened by the demonstrations but had resigned from a sense of responsibility to end speculative attacks on Italy.

"It was ... sad to see that a responsible and if you will permit me to say, generous act, like resigning was greeted with whistles and insults," the 75-year-old media magnate said.

Some protesters threw coins at Berlusconi's car in a gesture reminiscent of the departure into exile in 1993 of disgraced Socialist Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, often seen as Berlusconi's political mentor.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed signs of an end to the weeks of uncertainty, saying the approval of a reform package in parliament on Saturday was "heartening".

"I hope that confidence in Italy is restored, which is crucial for a return to calm throughout the euro zone," she said before a party conference in Leipzig.

Sunday newspapers said Berlusconi's departure marked the end of an era and spoke of the irony of a media magnate famed for his skill at communicating with the public being seen off by jeering crowds.

Monti has received the backing of the main opposition groups and the PDL and should have strong support in parliament, at least at first.

But he could face strong opposition from both left and right to some of the tough austerity measures he must implement to satisfy markets and euro zone leaders.

The next elections are not due until 2013 but there are widespread predictions Monti will leave before then, making way for polls once he has passed the reforms promised to Europe.

Italy came close to a full-scale financial emergency last week after yields on 10-year bonds soared over 7.6 percent, levels which forced Ireland, Portugal and Greece to seek an international bailout.

(Additional reporting by Roberto Landucci, Massimiliano Di Giorgio and Paolo Biondi in Rome, Alexandra Hudson in Berlin; writing by Barry Moody; editing by Tim Pearce)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Israel says Iran closer to atom bomb than thought


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday the full extent of Iran's nuclear programme was not reflected in a recent U.N. report, which said that Tehran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb.

"Iran is closer to getting an (atomic) bomb than is thought," Netanyahu said in remarks to cabinet ministers, quoted by an official from his office.

A suspected uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, 156 km (97 miles) southwest of Tehran, is seen in this September 27, 2009 satellite photograph released by DigitalGlobe on September 28, 2009. (REUTERS/DigitalGlobe/Handout/Files)

"Only things that could be proven were written (in the U.N. report), but in reality there are many other things that we see," Netanyahu said, according to the official.

The Israeli leader did not specify what additional information he had about Iran's nuclear programme during his cabinet's discussion on the report by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released last week.

At the start of meeting, Netanyahu made a broadcast repeating his call for the world "to stop Iran's race to arm itself with a nuclear weapon before it is too late".

Iran has dismissed accusations that it is developing nuclear weapons and says it needs atomic technology for electricity and other peaceful projects. it called the IAEA report "unbalanced" and "politically motivated".

The IAEA paper has intensified media speculation that the United States or Israel might take military action against Iran to destroy its nuclear programme.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had "credible" information that Iran had built a large explosives vessel to conduct hydrodynamic experiments, which are "strong indicators of possible weapon development".

Both Washington and Israel have said they are keeping all options on the table to stop Tehran developing a nuclear bomb.

Israel, a close strategic ally of Western powers, is widely believed to have the Middle East region's only nuclear arsenal, dating back decades. It has never confirmed or denied this, under a policy of ambiguity designed to deter attacks.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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NEWSMAKER - Showman Berlusconi makes ignominious exit


ROME (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi dominated Italy for 17 years with a unique mix of political talent and brazen behaviour but in the end the born showman was humiliatingly jeered from office, brought down by pressure from abroad.

A woman watches a television screen showing former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as he reads his speech during a farewell video in a shop in Cisternino, south of Italy, November 13, 2011. (REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo)

A man who had rejoiced in his ability to talk directly to ordinary Italians looked pale and isolated as he was forced to resign on Saturday after his broken promises and crumbling power brought Italy to the brink of financial disaster.

In scenes reminiscent of the departure of his mentor, Socialist Prime Minister Bettino Craxi in 1993, the 75-year-old media magnate was harried by angry crowds hurling insults and coins at his limousine as handed his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano.

Berlusconi slipped out of the Quirinale presidential palace by a side entrance as thousands of demonstrators chanted "Clown! Clown!" and spontaneous street parties erupted.

The scandal-plagued premier, one of Italy's richest men, was forced out by weeks of turmoil on financial markets that pushed Italy's borrowing costs to levels that obliged Ireland, Portugal and Greece to seek bailouts of a kind which the euro zone could not afford for its third largest economy.

A remarkable week, that started with Berlusconi adamantly refusing to resign, ended a remarkable political career that began when he burst on to the scene in 1994 promising a fresh new approach after a corruption scandal that swept away Italy's postwar political order.

His demise was a far cry from 2008 when a landslide victory gave the media tycoon his third and strongest electoral mandate. He had been prime minister for longer than any postwar leader, painting himself as the only choice for the dominant conservative voting bloc and a bastion against communism.

Bolstered by unrivalled communication skills and a dominance of Italian media, Berlusconi had for years seemed immune to a series of controversies that would have destroyed a politician in most other parts of the world.

They included the lurid "Rubygate" scandal in which he was charged with having sex with an under-age prostitute, and a wave of salacious revelations from police wiretaps about alleged orgies at his luxurious Milan villa.

He also faces two ongoing fraud court cases, the latest in more than 30 prosecutions by magistrates he accuses of being communists bent on perverting democracy.

The perma-tanned media tycoon, once a cruise ship crooner, was always unrepentant about a notoriously off-colour sense of humour and a series of diplomatic gaffes which led many foreign leaders to try to avoid being photographed near him.


Berlusconi had been in political decline for most of this year, his former mastery undermined by glaring misjudgments in local elections and three referendums, as well as the loss of a key alliance.

Often derided abroad for his facelifts, hair transplants, make-up and gaffes, Berlusconi until recently commanded a large following particularly among middle-class women, pensioners and the self-employed, striking a chord with his warnings about the dangers of left-wing extremists.

But with lurid details from assorted sex and corruption scandals filling newspapers for months and bitter government infighting poisoning the atmosphere around him, Berlusconi's touch finally deserted him.

He had seemed to have a good chance of hanging on for scheduled elections in 2013, until markets panicked by the Greek crisis turned on Italy, focusing on the inability of Berlusconi's squabbling government to pass meaningful reforms.

Up to the last, Berlusconi appeared to underestimate the gravity of the crisis, declaring this month that "restaurants are full, you have trouble booking seats on planes" as the economic pain mounted for millions of ordinary Italians.

As markets focused on Italy's huge public debt and stagnant economy, Italy's government bonds came under huge pressure and the European Central Bank had to move in August to buy bonds on the market to stop the crisis spreading.

In return it demanded tough economic reforms, effectively dictating government policy and destroying Berlusconi's boasts that he had shielded Italy from the euro zone crisis.

With his coalition crumbling around him and borrowing costs soaring out of control, Berlusconi finally agreed to resign after losing a crucial vote in parliament.

But in a sign of how much the collapse of market confidence was focused on him individually, bond yields soared even higher the day after the announcement because of market uncertainty about whether he would really go.

Napolitano had to publicly assure markets the flamboyant billionaire would step down and accelerated the political transition by asking former European Commissioner Mario Monti on Sunday to form a new government.


Berlusconi's personal decline began in 2009 when his estranged wife Veronica accused him of consorting with under-age women, finally sowing doubts in the minds of voters who had hitherto been charmed by his image as a self-made macho Latin male.

In addition, Berlusconi has persistently shown himself to be better at promises than action, failing to implement pledges in 2008 to use his business acumen to liberalise a notoriously inflexible and protected economy.

As owner of Italy's main private television channels and top-flight soccer team AC Milan after making a fortune in a Milan construction boom, he typified an Italian dream, with millions won over by his rags-to-riches story and optimism.

Berlusconi created his own party almost overnight in 1994 to fill the void on the right caused by the destruction of the long-dominant Christian Democrats by a corruption scandal.

His media empire Mediaset has a near-duopoly in television with state-run RAI over which, as premier, he had ultimate control. This gave him a much-criticised stranglehold on Italian media while he was accused of lowering cultural values with variety shows dominated by scantily clad starlets.

Critics also say he used his political and media power to fend off many prosecutions. His fall from power could unleash a new wave of cases by magistrates.

In the last year the Catholic Church has distanced itself from him, following reports of starlets and prostitutes dancing half-naked in return for cash and gifts. He boasted in one phone call of having sex with eight women in one night.

Berlusconi has always maintained the dinners he hosted were jovial affairs that involved little more than food, jokes and song. His only concession has been to say he is "no saint" and loves beautiful women.

He is given little chance of returning to high political office but analysts say he could continue to exert influence both through his media empire and the rump of the PDL party that he founded -- unless it implodes under the pressure of the political crisis as some expect.

Whatever happens, one of the most scandalous eras, in a country famed for scandal, appears to be over.

(Additional reporting by James Mackenzie and Deepa Babington)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Asian markets open higher on hopes of improvement in Europe

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 05:43 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Asian markets were mostly higher in Monday's early trade, underpinned by renewed hopes that new Greek and Italian leaders are making decisive actions to save their nations from bankruptcy and limit the damage emanating from the Euro zone debt crisis.

On the local front, the FBM KLCI was up 0.97% or 14.23 points to 1,482.98 at 9.10am.

As for regional bourses, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 1.48% to 8,640.45 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 2.42% to 19,600.37.

Shanghai's A index was flat to 2,481.08 while Taiwan's Taiex Index rose 2.14% to 7,525.23.

Seoul's Kospi Index was up 2.04% to 1,901.43, while Singapore's Straits Times Index gained 1.41% to 2,830.26.

Nymex crude oil rose two cents to US$99.01 per barrel. Spot gold was up three cents to US$1,791.68 per ounce. The ringgit was quoted at 3.133 to the US dollar.

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Manila central bank says may revamp banks' required reserves

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 05:05 PM PST

MANILA, Nov 13 (Reuters) The Philippine central bank is seeking comments from local lenders on a plan to modify the current regime of reserve requirements, a move aimed at aligning rules with international standards and not to tighten or loosen policy, officials said.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is planning to revise the structure of banks' required reserves, now at a total 21 percent, by merging liquidity and statutory reserves into one category, and may stop paying interest on these funds parked at the central bank.

Authorities are also considering to stop the practice of allowing banks to classify cash kept in their bank vaults as part of reserves, according to some bankers who have seen the proposal.

"There is a consultation primarily to simplify and rationalise the reserve requirement structure, emphasis on structure," BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla said in a mobile text message on Sunday.

"Nothing is firm yet since market comments are still being solicited. But the initiative should not to be confused with monetary tightening/loosening action," he said.

The 21 percent reserve ratio of banks is broken down into 10 percent statutory and 11 percent liquidity. The central bank now pays 4 percent per annum on up to 40 percent of deposits maintained by banks as statutory reserves.

Interest paid by the central bank on liquidity reserves are based on the rate of comparable government securities less half a percentage point.

Some bankers are concerned that taking away the liquidity reserve category may lead to higher financial intermediation costs, with the funds now pegged to market rates. But the central bank said there was likely to be negligible impact.

"We computed that, very small share. Our proposals are based on complete staff work," Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said in a mobile text message to Reuters.

"These proposals are consistent with the fundamental principle that reserve requirement is a prudential policy and that distinctions should be done away with," he said.

"Not remunerating the banks for their reserve deposit is allowed under the law. Very few central banks are paying banks on their reserve deposits," Guinigundo said.

Some bankers say the central bank may have to lower the reserve ratio if it wants to stop paying interest on the funds, as is the practice in other countries.

The BSP raised the reserve ratio by a total of 2 percentage points in June and July in a bid to bring it back to its preglobal crisis level.

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Insight: U.S. readies defenses against Europe spillover

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 04:59 PM PST

HONOLULU/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is ramping up attempts to safeguard its financial system from a worsening of Europe's debt crisis, joining nations in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere in trying to build firewalls.

U.S. policymakers, alarmed by the political upheaval in Italy and Greece, are digging deep into the books of American banks to find out how exposed they might be to euro zone creditors and the plunging value of sovereign debt.

Officials were stung by the implosion of Wall Street firm MF Global, which gambled and lost on European debt, and they are working on contingency plans for a worst-case scenario should another financial firm crumble.

A senior U.S. Treasury official said regulators are contacting big U.S. financial institutions to make sure they are scaling back exposure to Europe and are ready for a potential worsening of the crisis.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council, an inter-agency group set up after the 2007-2009 financial crisis, was trying to identify specific firms that could be hit by financial turbulence and then sort out ways that each one can fortify its balance sheet, the Treasury official said.

While the Treasury has been at pains to say that direct U.S. bank exposure to European countries now receiving bailout aid -- Greece, Ireland and Portugal -- is moderate, once the debt of Italy and Spain, plus credit default swaps, and U.S. bank indirect exposure through European banks are added, the potential sum could exceed $4 trillion.

"As such, the potential for contagion to the U.S. financial system is not small," the Institute of International Finance, the lobby group for major international banks, said last week.

Hedging and netting would limit the true size of any losses, so the $4 trillion figure would be the outer edge of U.S. total exposure.

U.S. banks had about $180.9 billion of debt from Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain on their books at the end of June, based on Bank for International Settlements data. Italy accounted for the largest chunk, more than $250 billion. Guarantees and credit derivatives added another $586.6 billion, bringing the total to $767.5 billion, the IIF said.

There is a secondary level of exposure that is potentially more worrying -- through international banks lending to each other. Here the greatest risk stems from Italy and France. International bank claims on Italy total $939 billion, and French banks account for well over one-third of that, BIS data show. French banks also rely heavily on short-term loans from other international banks for their daily operations. If Italian debt slumps even further, causing deeper losses for French banks, international banks could stop lending to France. The losses would ripple through the whole global financial system.

The United States learned the hard way how these indirect financial linkages work when imploding credit default swaps forced it into a $180 billion bailout of insurance giant American International Group in 2008 to prevent further contagion in the banking sector.

The danger is that a steep drop in sovereign bond prices prompts similar margin calls at banks that could snowball into a seizing up of credit, the lifeblood of an economy.

European banks hold some $3.5 trillion of euro-zone sovereign bonds and U.S. banks have significant direct exposure to their European peers, the IIF said in a report.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was frank last week about the risks: "It is not something that we would be insulated from ... I don't think we would be able to escape the consequences of a blow-up in Europe."

JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, holds about $44 billion in debt of troubled euro-zone nations -- Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy -- and Citigroup, the third largest, has $24.3 billion, said Dick Bove, a banking analyst at Rochdale Securities in September.

MF Global's fall gave a taste of how contagion can rip through the financial system. Brokerage Jeffries Group Inc's shares plunged on concerns about exposure to Europe. The shares stabilized after the firm clarified its position.


Fed Vice-Chair Janet Yellen said a new round of stress tests of U.S. banks will start in "a couple of weeks" to check their resilience should the value of their assets plunge.

"In light of such international linkages, further intensification of financial disruptions in Europe could lead to a deterioration of financial conditions in the United States," she told a Chicago audience on Friday.

"We are monitoring European developments very closely, and we will continue to do all that we can to mitigate the consequence of any adverse developments abroad on the U.S. financial system," she added.

Stress tests could lead to some banks raising more capital. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority told MF Global to boost its net capital in August following concerns about its exposure to European debt.

A Fed survey last week showed that about half the top U.S. banks had loans to European banks or were extending credit to them. If European banks ran into trouble and were unable to repay their loans, U.S. banks could face sizable losses.

The chief economist for ratings agency Moody's Investors Service, Steven Hess, said last week that so far there were no signs that banks were unwilling to lend to one another.

"If ... the crisis becomes much worse and includes Italy for example -- and this is all if, not a forecast from the part of Moody's -- if that were to happen, you could see the financial system in the United States ... suddenly suffer problems," Hess told the Reuters Washington Summit.

Should that happen, the United States can turn to tools it honed during the financial crisis of 2007-2009, said Nellie Liang, director of the Fed's Office of Financial Stability Policy and Research.

"We were creative that time, and we could be creative this time," Liang said. "But I think, just step back, the first line of defense is doing proper risk management and supervision."

U.S. money market funds, for example, already have pulled back significantly from European debt exposure under the watchful eye of regulators, she said. Their holdings of European paper totaled $384 billion in September, down 30 percent from June when alarms were first rung, the IIF said.

Regulatory reforms have given the Fed much more authority to watch over and investigate financial firms considered so large that they could disrupt the whole financial system.


U.S. impatience over Europe's inability to quash the spreading risk is palpable. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner tried again on Thursday to press for more decisive action.

"It is crucial that Europe move quickly to put in place a strong plan to restore financial stability," Geithner said in Hawaii, echoing the views of other finance ministers attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

"It is not being dealt with forcefully," Philippines Finance Minister Cesar Purisima said at the summit.

APEC finance ministers agreed to shore up their economies to protect against any damage and underpin growth.

These steps might include imposing capital controls to prevent a rapid outflow of cash that would destabilize an economy, lowering interest rates or fiscal stimulus.

For the Philippines, Purisima told Reuters he is prepared: "We have a lot of fiscal space if we need it ... Whatever is necessary, we will be doing, our interest rates are low." --

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Spain's Fernandez-Castano wins Singapore Open in playoff (update)

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 05:03 PM PST

SINGAPORE, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano rolled in a birdie putt at the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the $6 million weather-affected Singapore Open on Monday and deny plucky Filipino Juvic Pagunsan an unlikely victory.

Fernandez-Castano rolled in an eight-foot effort at the par-five 18th to claim the $1 million first prize in the co-sanctioned event after the playoff at the Sentosa Golf Club was suspended twice by heavy rainstorms on Sunday. It marked a fifth European Tour victory for the 31-year-old Spaniard, four of them in playoffs, and his first since the 2008 British Masters.

On their third attempt at completing the shoot-out for the title, the duo returned to the course at 7.30 a.m (2330 GMT on Sunday) on Monday to hit their third shots to the 18th.

Juvic went first and fired his approach to five feet but missed the opportunity to claim his first European Tour title when his putt for victory grazed the left edge of the cup after Fernandez-Castano had missed his birdie attempt from nine feet.

Both players again chose to lay up when they played the hole for a second time with Fernandez-Castano landing his approach a couple of feet inside Pagunsan's ball on the green. The Filipino, who has one win on the Asian Tour in 2007, rolled his downhill effort just right off the cup and the Spaniard made no mistake on his first opportunity to win it but appeared more relieved than overjoyed when the ball dropped in the cup.

The muted reaction in front of a sparse crowd was likely to have stemmed from the fact that Fernandez-Castano had held a four-shot lead on the back nine before folding under pressure.

Pagunsan drained a 12-foot birdie putt on the 54th and final hole on Sunday to record a four-under 67 before overnight leader Fernandez-Castano recovered to hole a similar-length putt for par and a one-over round of 72 after finding water off the tee.

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Former Springbok Tyibilika shot dead - reports

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 03:51 PM PST

CAPE TOWN, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Solly Tyibilika, the first black African to score a test try for the Springboks, has been shot dead in a Cape Town tavern, South African media reported on Sunday.

The 32-year-old flanker was born in Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape province which is the heartland of black rugby in South Africa, and scored a try on his test debut in 2004 against Scotland in Edinburgh.

South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins said he was distressed to hear of Tyibilika's death.

"Solly was a trailblazer among black African Springboks and to lose him so suddenly and in this brutal manner is very distressing," Hoskins said in a statement.

"His emergence was a demonstration of what can be achieved when talent is combined with opportunity in what is always a very competitive position in Springbok rugby. I remember a very talented player and an immensely likable young man who rose far and fast to become a Springbok early in his career."

A hard-running loose forward with tremendous stamina, Tyibilika played in eight tests and scored three tries, the last against New Zealand in Pretoria in 2006.

After playing 16 Super Rugby matches for the Sharks, Tyibilika moved to the Lions in 2007 but never settled in Johannesburg and returned to his native Eastern Cape, playing for Border between 2008 and 2010.

He made 158 first-class appearances, scoring 24 tries, for Griqualand West, the Sharks, Lions and Border.

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Edwards to stay with Wales as defence coach

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 03:50 PM PST

LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Shaun Edwards has slipped through England's rugby union net for the second time after the former rugby league international agreed to sign a new coaching contract with Wales, the Welsh Rugby Union said on Sunday.

Edwards became a free agent last week when he parted company with Wasps, where he had coached for 10 years, a month after his part-time contract with Wales expired at the end of the World Cup in which they reached the semi-finals.

With England's coaching set-up possibly in line for a shake-up following their poor World Cup performance, Edwards, a master defensive tactician, was considered to be very much in the running to join the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in some capacity.

However, he has signed a new contact with Wales up to and including the next World Cup which will also involve him working with younger players at the Welsh national academy.

The 45-year-old will also be free to work one day a week with an English Premiership club, as well as with Welsh Premiership clubs.

"I concluded negotiations with Shaun over the weekend and am extremely pleased to be able to announce we have secured his services up to and including the rugby World Cup in 2015," WRU chief executive Richard Lewis said.

"We have an outstanding team of coaches and backroom staff working under head coach Warren Gatland and Shaun's role as defence coach within that team is something quite unique.

"Talks began informally and discreetly in New Zealand with Shaun, and have continued over the past two weeks.

"I am particularly pleased to add that in addition to his extended senior national team duties, Shaun will also be working with WRU head of rugby (and former Wigan team mate) Joe Lydon within the WRU National Academy."

Edwards, one of the most successful players in rugby league history, was approached by the RFU four years ago but was offered a role working with the second-string Saxons team at a salary he described as derisory.

He helped Wales to a Six Nations grand slam in 2009 and played an important role in their run to the World Cup semi-finals.

Those achievements added more lustre to a CV that already included helping Wasps to two Heineken Cups and four English Premiership titles and working with the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2009.

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Prince of Asia loses his cool

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 10:35 PM PST

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Epic proportions

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 10:29 PM PST

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Making a real difference

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 10:24 PM PST

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TWU: Amendments to Employment Act should be withdrawn

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 04:12 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: The Ministry of Human Resources should withdraw the amendments to the Employment Act 1955 which were passed by Parliament on Oct 6 because they are of no benefit to Malaysian workers, said Transport Workers Union (TWU) secretary-general Datuk Zainal Rampak.

Zainal, who is also a former president of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), said the amendments were seen to favour employers more and denied workers their basic rights.

Speaking at a press conference here today, he said Seksyen 33A in the Act only stated that labour suppliers had to register with the Manpower Department but did not mention if the workers concerned were to be hired as permanent workers.

If they were not made permanent workers, they would lose out on benefits like contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the Social Security Organisation (Socso) and insurance and medical protection, he said.

He said the TWU and MTUC were willing to discuss the matter with the ministry and hoped it would be resolved soon so that there was no need for it to be referred to the International Labour Organisation. - Bernama

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Hailstorm hits Subang Jaya

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 02:49 AM PST

Published: Sunday November 13, 2011 MYT 3:21:00 PM
Updated: Sunday November 13, 2011 MYT 6:49:40 PM

Photo Gallery

SUBANG JAYA: A massive thunderstorm, followed by a hailstorm struck USJ Subang Jaya at 3.15pm Sunday afternoon.

The hailstones, about 1cm in diameter, hit rooftops and vehicles.

Near horizontal winds broke brances and toppled trees blocking a number of roads in the area.

No injuries were reported.

Hailstones 1
Hailstones 2

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PM: Voices of dissent in M’sia sign of a matured democracy

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 02:45 AM PST

HONOLULU: The so-called voices of dissent by various groups in Malaysia is a sign of a matured economy but they must be responsible and adhere to the rule of law in being able to air their grouses freely, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Dismissing the notion that such voices of dissent, which seem to contradict each other were a copycat of the Arab spring, he said that Malaysia does not stifle dissent.

Instead, it has in place a matured democracy that allows dissenting voices to go through the political process, he said during a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech on the "Global Movement of the Moderates" at the East-West Center here on Saturday.

Turning to the economy, he said that the Economic Transformation Programme with a projected 5-6 per cent growth, annually, would help the country to reduce its national debt over the years.

He also said that China should be seen as an opportunity to increase market share and not as a threat as its growth and economic dominance is inevitable.

"The best way is to engage China," he said, alluding to its four billion population that offers immense opportunities as a consumer market. - Bernama

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When stroke hits the eye

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 07:17 PM PST

Stroke leads to acute loss of blood supply to the affected portion of the brain, resulting in irreversible brain damage and loss of bodily functions, including possibly eyesight.

DR Fong: Sudden loss of vision to one of our eyes is one of the most frightening things we can encounter. This is usually caused by a blockage to one of the main blood vessels of the eye. This can be loosely called an "eye stroke".

An eye stroke occurs when a clot forms in a small blood vessel within the eye. The interruption of blood flow destroys the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer that captures images. The attack is sudden, painless, but can cause partial or complete vision loss in one eye. The other eye is usually unaffected.

Stroke refers to an acute loss of blood supply to any portion of the brain, resulting in irreversible brain damage and loss of bodily functions controlled by that part of the brain.

The eye is connected to the brain by the optic nerve, which directly comes from the brain. In fact, the eye is the only part of our body where we can look at our brain directly. Eye doctors use an ophthalmoscope to look at the optic nerve through the pupil of the eye to look for various eye diseases. Because of this direct eye/brain connection, stroke frequently affects both vision and the ability to coordinate the movements of both eyes.

So, the term "eye stroke' is actually quite accurate.

The retina at the back of the eye requires a constant blood supply. This blood supply makes sure that the cells of the retina get all the nutrients they need to continue working. The blood supply also removes any waste material that the cells have finished with.

Like the rest of the body, there are two types of blood vessels concerned with the blood supply to the retina; arteries and veins. Arteries carry fresh blood from the heart and lungs to all the cells in our bodies. Veins take away the blood that has been used by the cells and return it to the lungs and heart to be refreshed with oxygen and other nutrients.

When the arteries become blocked, then this fresh blood cannot reach the cells and the retinal cells quickly suffer from the lack of oxygen. This stops them working and sight can be affected quite badly.

The amount of sight that is affected varies according to the location of the blockage. We can imagine our blood vessels spreading across the retina like a tree. Thinking of them like this helps in understanding how much sight is affected by an artery occlusion.

The retinal arteries have a large trunk of a blood vessel that splits into smaller branches to feed all parts of the retina. If the trunk of the tree is blocked then a lot of sight will be affected; less sight will be affected if the blockage happens further along in one of the branch arteries.

Supply blockage

The main cause of a retinal artery occlusion is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a problem with the condition of the inside of the blood vessel's wall. Our blood vessels are like a tube with the blood flowing through it. The tube is usually wide and smooth so that the blood flows directly through it.

However, in some people, the inside of this tube becomes thinner or sticky, which means it is harder for the blood to flow through it. These patches of sticky blood vessels are called atherosclerotic plaques. Problems occur because these sticky patches can catch any debris in the blood, which in turn makes the plaques bigger.

If the plaques become bigger, they can cut off part or all of the blood going to or from the retina. Large pieces of debris can also get caught and block off the blood vessel, leading to an artery occlusion.

A rare cause of retinal artery occlusion is a giant cell arteritis, which is a disease where the blood vessels are blocked due to inflammation of the blood vessel wall. This needs treatment with steroid tablets or injection.

Eye stroke is an emergency and needs immediate attention by an eye doctor to determine whether it is an artery or vein occlusion. Unfortunately, there is little treatment available for retinal artery occlusions because the cells on the retina are very sensitive to a lack of blood supply.

A disturbance for any length of time in the supply of fresh blood to the retinal cells will cause permanent sight loss.

Risk factors

There are a number of common risk factors for eye stroke. They are quite familiar since these same risk factors can cause other problems like heart attacks and brain strokes. The main risk factors are:

·Age – most eye strokes happen in people over the age of 50 years

·High blood pressure

·High cholesterol levels




Although nothing can be done about our age, all the other risk factors can be controlled.

Regular visits to your family doctor to diagnose problems like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, good diabetic control, a healthy diet, and stopping smoking can all help to reduce the risk of getting an eye stroke.

What concerns me is that I am seeing more patients with eye stroke who are younger than 50 years old. This suggests that the general well being of the population in terms of blood pressure control, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes incidence, is getting worse rather than better.

My colleagues in the UK have found that more than 12% of patients who presented with eye stroke went on to suffer a stroke or heart attack within two years, and 70% of these patients had the stroke or heart attack within two months of the loss of vision.

What this means is that getting an eye stroke is an indicator of future severe life-threatening events, and the patient needs to have their general medical condition reviewed and have all their potential risk factors treated adequately.

Being male and having high blood pressure puts you at much higher risk of getting a full blown stroke or heart attack after getting an eye stroke.

An eye stroke is a shock to most people. At first, you may find that you are constantly aware of the change in your vision and that the sight loss in one eye dominates your vision, making it difficult to see using both eyes.

However, after a few months, you will probably find that this becomes less of a problem. This happens because our brains are able adjust to a new level of vision and are able to make the eye with good sight the dominant one.

Usually, people find that with time their good eye "takes over" and that tasks that were difficult become easier. When sight in one eye is affected, it can affect our depth perception. You may find that you have trouble judging distances, how high a step is, or how far away a table is.

With time you should be able to judge these distances better, but you should take care in the first couple of months.

Chui Hoong: What you eat can modulate your risk factors for eye stroke. Your healthy diet should incorporate the following:

1. Fat intake

Cut back on total fat intake. Choose healthier cooking methods. Reduce saturated fat and trans-fat intake. These are found mostly in animal fats (eg fatty cuts of meat), processed foods (sausages, burgers), baked goods (cakes, cookies, pastries, pies) and coconut milk.

Replace the saturated or trans-fat with unsaturated fat sources (eg oily fish, nuts).

2. Fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses

Increase fruit, vegetable, wholegrains and pulses intake. They are good sources of total and soluble fibre, and rich in antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure.

Five portions of fruits and vegetables a day is hardly enough. You should aim to get more than seven portions a day!

3. Maintain a healthy body weight

As a guide, Malaysians should aim to have a body mass index of 19-23.

I have included a simple breakfast recipe that uses oats and is naturally sweetened with fresh fruits. Breakfast is an important meal and it helps in weight management.

> Dr Fong Choong Sian is a consultant ophthalmologist while Goo Chui Hoong is a consultant dietitian. They are publishing a book on eye health and diet next year. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Oat porridge with banana and passionfruit

OATS are a great breakfast option that can be prepared sweet or savoury.

Oats have a moderate glycaemic index, and keeps you full for longer. Adding fruit into the oat porridge is an easy way to increase your antioxidant intake.

Here, I have included bananas and passionfruit. Feel free to substitute with your favourite fruits.

Serves three

Preparation & cooking time: 10 minutes

375ml (1 ½ cups) skimmed or low-fat milk

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

95gm (1 cup) wholegrain oats

130gm (½ cup) mashed ripe bananas (about 1 large)

130gm (1) banana, sliced

18gm (1) passionfruit

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

To cook the oats:

In a medium saucepan, bring milk and spice to a gentle boil. Stir in oats. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.

Cook one minute for instant oats, five minutes for uncooked oats, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

To serve:

Remove oatmeal from heat. Stir in mashed bananas. Spoon oatmeal into three cereal bowls and top with some sliced bananas.

Cut the passionfruit into half and scoop out the pulp, seeds and juice. Divide this over the three bowls of porridge. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and serve warm.

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Beware nerve damage

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 03:53 PM PST

Preventing or slowing down the rate of nerve damage that occurs with diabetes is important.

CAN'T remember the last time you said "ouch"? Do you seem to have lost your senses or have a delayed response when touching something hot or sharp? It may be that your nerves are damaged, especially if you've diabetes. This is called diabetic neuropathy.

"People with diabetes have about a 60% chance of getting neuropathy of any kind," says Dr Dace L. Trence, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Care Centre at the University of Washington Medical Centre in Seattle. "It's probably an equal risk of getting neuropathy with type 1 and type 2 diabetes."

The majority of the peripheral nerves are responsible for sensations you feel such as touch, pain and temperature. There are literally millions of these nerve endings in your fingers, hands, toes and feet, which are designed to keep you out of danger and away from the things that are hot, cold, sharp, etc.

You may have tingling, pain, or numbness in your feet and hands – common signs of peripheral neuropathy. Or you may have damage to the nerves that send signals to your heart, stomach, bladder, or sex organs, called autonomic neuropathy. Nerve damage can also be "silent", meaning you have no symptoms at all.

How can you tell if you have nerve damage?

Doctors diagnose nerve damage on the basis of symptoms and a physical examination. During the examination, your doctor may check blood pressure, heart rate, muscle strength, reflexes, and sensitivity to position changes, vibration, temperature, or light touch.

Experts recommend that people with diabetes have a comprehensive foot examination each year to check for peripheral neuropathy. People diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy need more frequent foot examinations. A comprehensive foot examination assesses the skin, muscles, bones, circulation, and sensation of the feet.

Your doctor may assess protective sensation or feeling in your feet by touching your foot with a nylon monofilament – similar to a bristle on a hairbrush-attached to a wand or by pricking your foot with a pin.

People who cannot sense pressure from a pinprick or monofilament have lost protective sensation and are at risk for developing foot sores that may not heal properly.

The doctor may also check temperature perception, or use a tuning fork, which is more sensitive than touch pressure, to assess vibration perception. The doctor may perform other tests as part of your diagnosis, including nerve conduction studies, heart rate check, and even ultrasound of the bladder, etc.

Damage control

The good news? Many of the risk factors for diabetic neuropathy are under your control. So while you may not be able to prevent nerve pain and damage completely, you may be able to help slow it down.

You can reduce your risk of nerve damage and other diabetes complications by keeping your blood sugars under tight control, says the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC).

A healthy lifestyle helps lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other diabetes complications, as well. So know your risk for complications, and work to control the ones you can control.

About 60-70% of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy. People with diabetes can develop nerve problems at any time, but risk increases with age, as well as the duration of diabetes.

The highest rates of neuropathy are among people who have had diabetes for at least 25 years. Diabetic neuropathies also appear to be more common in people who have problems controlling their blood sugar, as well as those with high levels of fat, those who suffer from high blood pressure, and those who are overweight.


How are diabetic nerve damage (neuropathies) treated? The first step is to bring blood glucose levels within the normal range to help prevent further nerve damage. Blood glucose monitoring, meal planning, physical activity, and diabetes medicines or insulin will help control blood glucose levels.

Symptoms may get worse when blood glucose is first brought under control, but over time, maintaining lower blood glucose levels helps lessen symptoms. Good blood glucose control may also help prevent or delay the onset of further problems.

Japanese scientists have recently discovered that damaged nerves can be regenerated with a simple supplement known as mecobalamin or methylcobalamin, the active form of vitamin B12.

With mecobalamin, the liver does not need to convert the inactive form of B12, cyanocobalamin, to mecobalamin as it is already orally active. Mecobalamin protects against neurological (nerve) disease and ageing by a unique mechanism that differs from current therapies. Some of the disorders that may be preventable or treatable with this natural vitamin therapy include peripheral neuropathies. Take one capsule of 500mcg three times daily.

Are you at risk for diabetic neuropathy?

1. You have high blood sugar.

The risk: Who are the people at highest risk of nerve pain and damage from diabetes? Those who have trouble controlling their blood sugar.

2. You've had diabetes for many years.

The risk: Nerve pain and damage is more common in people who have had diabetes for more than 25 years.

3. You're overweight.

The risk: Being overweight is double trouble for people with diabetes. It puts you at higher risk of diabetic nerve damage, as well as higher risk of deadly diabetes complications like heart attack and stroke.

4. You're off-target with your blood fats.

The risk: The wrong levels of fats in your blood put you at higher risk of diabetic neuropathy. Often, people with diabetes have high levels of the blood fat called triglycerides. To make matters worse, an elevated LDL ("bad cholesterol") can increase the risk of a heart attack. A grim fact is that about 65% of deaths in people with diabetes will be due to a heart attack or stroke.

5. You smoke. The risk: Smokers are at greater risk of nerve damage from diabetes. And as you no doubt know, smoking has been linked to heart disease for years.

6. You drink a lot of alcohol.

The risk: Alcohol can seriously affect blood sugar levels. Even more sobering? Alcohol can raise your level of unhealthy blood fats called triglycerides.

> This article is courtesy of Live-well Nutraceuticals, for more information, please consult your pharmacist or call Live-well INFOline: 03-6142 6570 or e-mail info@live-well.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Pregnant travelling

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 03:49 PM PST

Travelling when pregnant is an option; just be smart about it.

ARE you wondering whether you can go for a holiday or a business trip during your pregnancy? Have your friends or relatives warned you not to travel just because you are pregnant?

"Can I travel?" is one of the most common questions I get from my expecting patients. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the safety of travelling during pregnancy, so many women are confused and tend to err on the side of caution.

While it is right to be cautious, you also need not overreact. There is no reason why you should not nail that sales meeting overseas or enjoy a relaxing beach holiday with your husband, as long as you do it within safe measures and take the right precautions.

When is a good time to go

The best time to travel is during the second trimester of pregnancy, which is from the 14th to the 28th week. At this point, you should not be experiencing any more nausea or vomiting from morning sickness, as that will subside by the end of the first trimester.

Your body will also have adjusted to carrying the baby, so you will not feel as fatigued as you initially did.

Plan your travel around prenatal checkups, so that you do not miss any of these important appointments with your obstetrician.

How about travelling during the third trimester? Conventional wisdom dictates that women cannot travel, particularly fly, during the last three months of pregnancy.

Most doctors advise this because it is risky for the woman (there is a higher chance of going into labour prematurely), not to mention uncomfortable because the uterus is pressing on the bladder and she will get tired easily.

However, some experts have different opinions regarding this. Some obstetricians give their patients the green light to travel if they are in good health and the pregnancy appears normal.

But after week 32, women should not travel by plane, only by car. From week 36, women are encouraged to stay put.

Taking precautions

It is important to consider your travel destination and itinerary carefully.

Avoid going to places where you cannot access good quality medical facilities (cities are generally fine, safari trips are out of the question!), just in case an emergency should occur.

Bear in mind that language, cost and the standard of healthcare in your destination country may be an issue, especially if you are travelling to a less-developed country. Discuss this with your obstetrician, who may be able to give you the contact details of a trusted healthcare provider in that country.

You may need to get certain immunisation shots before you travel to some countries. Check with your obstetrician first whether these vaccinations are safe for your unborn baby.

If your doctor deems it unsafe for you to receive the vaccination, you may want to reconsider your travel plans.

Certain illnesses, such as malaria, are endemic in some countries and can cause serious harm to your pregnancy.

Always carry with you a copy of your medical records, especially information about your pregnancy, allergies, medications and any conditions you are being treated for. Keep these documents in your carry-on bag and with you at all times.

Before you travel, check with your insurance provider whether your health insurance covers prenatal complications or delivery in foreign countries.

Dress comfortably for the journey – wear loose clothing (several layers, if you are travelling in air-conditioned vehicles) and comfy shoes.

For long journeys, make sure you go to the bathroom whenever you need to. Stretch once every hour and take a 10-minute walk every two hours.

If you're travelling by car, make sure you wear your seat belt, with the bottom belt across your hips and below your abdomen.

Drink plenty of water, especially if you are on a flight, and eat small, frequent snacks to prevent low blood sugar and nausea.

While travel is generally safe for most expectant mothers, there are some women who are the exception.

If you have a high-risk or complicated pregnancy (meaning if you are expecting twins, suffer severe nausea and vomiting, have placenta previa or other complications), travel may be out of the question for you, depending on your doctor's advice.

If you have a history of miscarriage, premature labour, high blood pressure, diabetes or bleeding, you should also postpone your travel plans. In all cases, it is always best to check with your obstetrician first.

Do's and don'ts

If you are going on a holiday, these are some precautions you should take when it comes to vacation activities.

Swimming, walking and moderate hiking are acceptable, but use your common sense to decide what degree of activity will be too strenuous for you.

Remember, even though you used to be able to do the difficult stuff, it doesn't mean that they are suitable for you right now.

Certain activities are out of the question, including scuba diving, water-skiing, sun-bathing and saunas.

Scuba diving is dangerous because going deep underwater exerts too much pressure on the womb, while water-skiing can force water into the cervix.

Sunbathing, saunas and hot tubs can raise a woman's core temperature, which is bad for the unborn baby.

You will also tire easily now that you are pregnant, so keep the activities to a minimum. Take the opportunity to relax and spend quality time with your partner or friends – these will come at a premium once the baby arrives!

If you are travelling for work, you may be spending a lot of time in meetings, conferences or on site visits.

Take frequent breaks to put up your feet, if you need too, or to stretch and move your limbs. Make sure that your site visits do not involve any hazardous activities, and that you will not be too far from medical facilities.

Many travel websites and agencies are now promoting "babymoon" packages – a pre-baby honeymoon for expecting parents who need to have one last break before the baby arrives.

The term "babymoon" was coined by a British author and childbirth educator Sheila Kitzinger in 1996. It was initially envisioned as a period where new parents take time to bond together with their newborn baby and adjust to their new roles as mother and father.

Clever marketing by the travel industry has turned the babymoon into a commercial activity, with packages by luxury hotels and resorts.

If you can afford the time and money for a babymoon with your husband, why not? Look at it this way, it will be your first ever trip with your child, even if he/she is still in your womb!

> Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist (FRCOG, UK). For further information, visit www.primanora.com. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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