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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

"Laugh-In" performer Alan Sues dies at age 85

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 07:11 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Alan Sues, known for portraying outlandish characters on the hit NBC Show "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," has died at age 85, a statement on his website said.

Sues died on Thursday night while watching television at his home in West Hollywood, longtime friend Michael Gregg Michaud said on the site.

He had recently been in poor health, Michaud said.

From 1968 to 1972, Sues was a recurring performer on "Laugh-In," playing an eccentric children's host named Uncle Al the Kiddies' Pal and an effeminate sportscaster called Big Al.

The California native was also known for his role as a clumsy and outrageously flamboyant Peter Pan on peanut butter commercials during the time he co-starred in "Laugh-In."

Sues later performed on Broadway in the 1970s as Professor Moriarty in the play "Sherlock Holmes."

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Italy's Monti seeks broad support for crisis measures

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 04:39 PM PST

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti met party leaders on Saturday to drum up support for new measures designed to shore up public finances, helping growth and calming the debt crisis in the euro zone's third-largest economy.

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti (R) looks on as he meets European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn at the Chigi Palace in Rome November 25, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

His cabinet is scheduled to approve the package of reforms on Monday, a step widely seen as vital for re-establishing Italy's shattered credibility with financial markets after a series of unfulfilled promises by the previous government.

The plan will then be outlined during two news conferences -- one with foreign reporters -- and presented in both houses of parliament.

Italy has been at the centre of Europe's debt crisis since yields on its 10-year bonds shot up to around 7 percent, similar to levels seen when countries like Greece and Ireland were forced to seek a bailout.

Government sources familiar with the planned reforms say the mix of cuts and tax rises will total about 20-25 billion euros over the next two years, about half of which will be used to reduce the budget deficit and help balance the budget by 2013 despite the economic downturn and rising borrowing costs.

The rest will free up resources to try to regenerate Italy's recession-bound economy.

Pier Ferdinando Casini, head of the centrist UDC party, said after meeting Monti that the measures would be severe but hopefully also fair.

"When the doctor arrives, it's difficult to prescribe nice medicine. Medicine is always bitter, but sometimes inevitable to prevent the patient dying," he told a news conference.

Angelino Alfano, secretary of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's PDL party, urged Monti to ensure the cuts did not fall heavily on people who have always shouldered the burden, and to show special consideration for families.

The plan is expected to include an increase in the retirement age for many workers, liberalise professional services, increase income tax in higher income brackets and introduce new taxes on private assets and luxury goods.

But it has not yet fully convinced the centre-left Democratic Party's leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who said groups like low earners and pensioners needed greater protection and that measures to fight tax evasion were insufficient.


Monti will meet unions and local authorities on Sunday to try to reach a broad consensus on the plan. He has said fairness is one of the key priorities of his reforms, but unions are grumbling about possible pension and labour market changes.

Susanna Camusso, secretary of Italy's biggest union CGIL, said she was struggling to see signs of equity in the plan, based on what she knew so far from reports, but would wait until after speaking to Monti on Sunday to make her judgment.

"We are ready to support the right decisions but also determined to oppose those we consider wrong," she said at a union meeting on Saturday.

Monti will have to balance the competing needs of showing budget rigour while not choking off growth, without which it will be impossible to reduce a debt mountain equivalent to 120 percent of gross domestic product.

Changes to pensions will be key in the new reform plan, with eligibility requirements toughened up for so-called seniority pensions which are based on a combination of workers' age and the years for which they have paid contributions.

Programmed cuts to the national health service budget are expected to be accelerated by one year, to reduce spending by 2.5 billion euros in 2012 and 5 billion euros from 2013, a local government source said.

A local housing tax (ICI) may also be reintroduced, bringing in estimated revenue of at least 3.5 billion euros per year.

Other expected measures include further increases in value added tax rates and a ban on cash transactions above 500 euros in an effort to tackle tax evasion.

(Editing by David Cowell and Ralph Gowling)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Croatia opposition set to win vote on economy ticket

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 03:31 PM PST

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia's centre-left opposition looks set to win Sunday's parliamentary election as voters bet the bloc can overhaul the country's floundering economy before it joins the European Union in 2013.

A man casts his vote at a polling booth in Sarajevo December 3, 2011. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Led by the Social Democrats' (SDP) Zoran Milanovic, the opposition bloc known as Kukuriku ('cock-a-doodle-doo'), has pledged to boost growth in the former Yugoslav republic, create jobs, attract investment and maintain its credit rating.

According to an Ipsos Puls poll Wednesday, the bloc is forecast to win a majority of the 151 parliamentary seats, as voters show their frustration with growing poverty and unemployment under conservative Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor.

His HDZ party, which has dominated Croatian politics since its 1991 independence, is a distant second place in the polls.

"The two things we expect from the new government are to draft a budget that shows fiscal consolidation, otherwise we are threatened with a credit rating cut, and to make a resolute start of the necessary reforms," said Davor Majetic of the national employers' association.

Croatia, a popular tourist destination of 4.3 million people on the Adriatic, has seen its economy boom over the past decade on the back of foreign borrowing, but its growth ground to a halt when the global crisis hit in 2009.

"The real job only begins after the election. Please stay with us when the going gets tough in the next few months. I promise we will not let you down," Milanovic, 45, told supporters at the last rally in Zagreb Friday.


The former diplomat told Reuters this week the state budget for 2012 would be in place by the end of March and should reflect "how serious we are" about turning the economy around and averting a credit downgrade.

"The rating agencies will give us a grace period of three months at most," he said. "But I believe we can do it."

Unemployment stood at 17.4 percent in October and thousands of employees work without pay. Lack of liquidity has paralysed many local businesses and overall foreign debt has surpassed 100 percent of gross domestic product.

In power for the past eight years, HDZ has been mired in corruption scandals since its former leader and prime minister, Ivo Sanader, stepped down in 2009. A number of other senior HDZ officials have been arrested or questioned over alleged slush funds in the past year.

Polling stations open at 7 a.m. (6:00 a.m. British time) and close at 7 p.m., when exit polls will follow. An official, preliminary count is expected by midnight.

(Editing by Sophie Hares)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Slovenia to turn centre right for economic lift

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 03:20 PM PST

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia votes for a new government Sunday with the centre-right opposition set to return to power on a pledge of painful reforms to halt the European Union member's slide back into recession.

A policeman stand beside the Slovenian Democraty Party poster in Ljubljana December 2, 2011. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

Once a model of successful post-communist transition, euro zone member Slovenia is facing renewed economic contraction, rising unemployment and a potential credit rating downgrade.

The opposition Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) led by former prime minister Janez Jansa is eying a return to office, promising to cut the budget deficit, create jobs and hike the retirement age.

The outgoing government led by centre-left Prime Minister Borut Pahor's Social Democrats lost its majority in May amid internal policy squabbles and was ousted by parliament in September.

Polls suggest Jansa, who was prime minister of the former Yugoslav republic from 2004 to 2008, will return to the post but

will need the support of smaller parties to secure a majority.

"If ever Slovenia needed a government with a strong majority ... it is in the period coming up," Jansa said on Pop TV.


An Alpine state of 2 million people, Slovenia was the fastest growing euro zone member four years ago, but its export-driven economy was badly hit by the global crisis and contracted by 8 percent in 2009.

After a modest recovery, data released this week suggests another recession is on the way after the economy shrank 0.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011.

Jansa's SDS has pledged to cut Slovenia's deficit by trimming public administration and accelerating privatisation. He proposes to ease a credit crunch by establishing a "bad bank" that would take over state-owned banks' non-performing loans.

The party would raise the retirement age, currently among the lowest in the EU at 57 for women and 58 for men.

Centre-left Ljubljana mayor Zoran Jankovic is seen as Jansa's closest challenger for the premiership.

Polls open at 7 a.m. (6:00 a.m. British time) and close at 7 p.m. (6:00 p.m. British time). Preliminary results are expected by 9:00 p.m. British time.

(Editing by Matt Robinson and David Cowell)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Johnson overhauls leader Woods with eagle finish (Updated)

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 06:11 PM PST

THOUSAND OAKS, California (Reuters) - Tiger Woods endured a challenging day in gusting winds before finally surrendering his overnight lead to fellow American Zach Johnson in Saturday's third round of the Chevron World Challenge.

Three strokes clear of the chasing pack at the tournament's halfway point, four-times champion Woods battled to a one-over-par 73 on a sunny but chilly afternoon at Sherwood Country Club.

In pursuit of his first victory in more than two years, Woods bogeyed two of the last six holes for a seven-under total 209, finishing a stroke behind Johnson who spectacularly eagled the par-four last with a seven-iron from 163 yards for a 68.

Johnson, whose only major title came at the 2007 Masters, covered the hilly back nine in four under to take control of the elite 18-man event going into Sunday's final round.

First-round leader KJ Choi of South Korea (72) was alone in third at five under, two shots better than Americans Gary Woodland (70), Hunter Mahan (73) and Matt Kuchar (74).

"It was tough out there," tournament host Woods told reporters after mixing four birdies with five bogeys as unpredictable winds gusted up to 35 mph (56.33 kph). "The wind was very gusty and swirling all over the place. It was really tough to pull a club and hit a shot.

"Even though I made three bogeys on the (five) par-fives and I had two three-putts, I played well. I hit a lot of good shots that ended up in bad spots because I had bad gusts.

"I just need to make a few more putts," added Woods, who has not won a tournament since the 2009 Australian Masters while his world ranking has dropped to 52nd. "I'm right there with a chance going into tomorrow."

Johnson was delighted to end the day atop the leaderboard after starting his round four strokes off the pace.

"Today was good, and it wasn't easy with the wind," the 35-year-old said. "I got off to a pretty shaky start but made some nice saves, and then had a lot of opportunities and didn't make any of those.

"Then I got going, and ended on a pretty stylish note," he added of the seven-iron from the 18th fairway that curved to the left in the wind before the ball bounced a couple of times on the green then disappeared into the cup.

"When it left my club, I thought it was pretty good.

"I knew if it went a little long, it would come back (down the slope) and I would have a birdie opportunity. That's all you're looking for."

Woods made a red-hot start to the third round, hitting a superb approach from the left rough to within two feet of the cup to set up a tap-in birdie at the par-four first.

However, he failed to maintain momentum as the Santa Ana winds continually gusted and shifted across the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout.

A three-putt bogey at the par-five second was followed by a chip-in for birdie from behind the green at the fourth, prompting loud roars from the gallery and a characteristic fist pump by Woods.

He then bogeyed the sixth, where he missed the green to the left with his approach, and the eighth, after three-putting, to reach the turn in one-over 37 and a stroke in front of the chasing pack.

Though he birdied the par-four 10th, after his drive ended up to the right of the green, and the par-five 11th, where he two-putted from 15 feet, Johnson was fast closing in.

After recording nine consecutive pars on the front nine, Johnson caught fire after the turn, eagling the 11th and making birdies at the 12th and 13th to trail Woods by just one.

Woods dropped back into a tie for the lead at eight under after bogeying 13 before Johnson also faltered, bogeying 16 after hitting a wayward drive and a second shot that ended up well left under trees by the cart path.

Johnson also bogeyed the par-three 17th to slip two strokes back before ending his round with his eagle flourish.

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Argentina cling on in Davis Cup with doubles win

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 03:18 PM PST

SEVILLE, Spain (Reuters) - David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank trounced Spain's Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-2 6-3 to secure Argentina's first point of the Davis Cup final on Saturday and keep the best-of-five tie alive ahead of Sunday's reverse singles.

After Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer put favourites Spain 2-0 ahead on Friday, victory for Nalbandian and doubles specialist Schwank means Argentina still have a slim chance of winning a first Davis Cup in their fourth final and avenging defeat to Spain in the 2008 title match in Mar del Plata.

However, with world number two Nadal apparently unbeatable on his beloved clay and full of confidence after his demolition of Juan Monaco on Friday, Spain remain on course for a fifth Davis Cup triumph and a third title in four years.

"We're optimistic," Spain captain Albert Costa told a news conference. "Tomorrow I have Rafa and David and we're going to win one of those two points."

Saturday's doubles rubber was always going to be Argentina's best chance of a point, with Lopez and Verdasco coming into the match having lost 10 of their last 11 outings together in all competitions.

Not even the raucous home support at the purpose-built indoor court inside Seville's Olympic stadium could will them to victory, Argentina's success delighting the outnumbered but vocal away fans.

Nalbandian and Schwank converted five of their six break points and saved all three they faced with an efficient display and sealed victory when Verdasco netted a simple volley, a fitting end to a poor Spanish performance.

"We played a great match," Nalbandian said in an interview with Spanish television.

"From the start we made very few mistakes, almost none," the 29-year-old added. "The tie is still alive."

Lopez, the first Spanish player to compete in four Davis Cup finals, told a news conference it had been his worst performance in the competition.

"I didn't feel comfortable with the serve and with the return. It wasn't one of my best days," the 30-year-old said.

"But I can't torture myself. Things didn't work out. We have to trust David and Rafa tomorrow to give us good news."

Nadal is due to play Juan Martin Del Potro, who lost a gruelling five-set match to Ferrer on Friday, in Sunday's opening singles rubber before Ferrer takes on Monaco.

Verdasco complained that Nadal and Ferrer had been summoned to a doping control during the doubles match, saying it was "a little bit over the top".

"I don't think it's nice that during a game they take our team mates out to go to a test," he said, before he and Lopez were also taken off for a doping control.

"They could wait until the end of the match and they could have allowed them to cheer us and then do the test afterwards," he added.

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Wallabies beat Wales as Williams bows out with try

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 03:14 PM PST

CARDIFF (Reuters) - Wales winger Shane Williams scored with his final touch in international rugby but he bowed out on a losing note after Australia overcame a sluggish start to win 24-18 in a one-off test at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Williams touched down in the final seconds, his 58th try for his country in a stellar career, but it proved in vain as the Wallabies produced a strong second-half showing to again defeat Warren Gatland's side, six weeks after their 21-18 victory in their World Cup third-place playoff in Auckland in October.

Australia, who have now beaten Wales in three successive visits to Cardiff, will host the Welsh in three tests next year.

"We were made to work hard for it," said Australia coach Robbie Deans, whose side trailed 6-3 at the break after a lacklustre opening 40 minutes.

"We came out and adapted better in the second half and were able to bring some pressure to bear and turn it into points.

"There were elements of fatigue late in the second half but that's probably not surprising...but the boys showed what it meant to them and have earned a break."

Williams, Wales's record try scorer and the third all-time in international rugby, raised the roof with his last-gasp touchdown on his 87th and final appearance but it was an otherwise disjointed display from the hosts who had welcomed back captain Sam Warburton following his ban for his red card in the World Cup semi-final defeat by France.

The game quickly changed after fullback Leigh Halfpenny was sin-binned nine minutes after the restart.

Australia took the game by the scruff of the neck as Will Genia, Lachie Turner and Berrick Barnes crossed for quick scores.

Rhys Priestland touched down for a first Welsh try but the Wallabies, who thrashed the Barbarians 60-11 at Twickenham last week, held firm until Williams, one of the most exciting wingers of his generation, burst through in the final play of the game.

"It's been a tough week," Williams, unable to stem the flood of tears, said in a pitchside interview.

"It's been a privilege to have had the chance to play for Wales," added the 34-year-old after he brought an end to his 11-year test career.

"I've had the time of my life. I'm going to miss it, it's been a great journey. I've enjoyed every minute of it... the ups and downs."

Aside from his late score, Williams had an otherwise quiet game, despite making a try-saving tackle late in the first half to deny Turner.

The game only came to life in the second 40 minutes.

Wales were reduced to 14 men when Halfpenny was yellow-carded for tackling James O'Connor just as the flyhalf was about to gather Barnes's astute kick through with the try line at his mercy.

Australia quickly took advantage of their numerical supremacy. Opting to retain possession rather than kick a simple penalty, the Wallabies recycled the ball and after working through several phases, scrumhalf Genia stretched an arm out to touch down.

O'Connor converted but then hit the post from a penalty right in front. The let-off for Wales was short-lived, however, as a swift backline move allowed Turner the space to go over in the left corner for a try which was converted by O'Connor for a 17-6 lead.

With Wales in disarray, Barnes was afforded time and space to coast over for a third try before Wales at last gave the home fans something to cheer when Priestland and Williams gave the scoreline a more respectable look.

Wales coach Warren Gatland was not overly disheartened, saying the game was lost following Halfpenny's indiscretion.

"We scored a couple of good tries against a team who had the best defence at the World Cup, he said. "They are very, very difficult to score against.

"I'm disappointed that we've had a yellow card. I felt a bit sorry for Leigh, from the way the ball has bounced up he thought the ball had gone into O'Connor's hands... unfortunately we conceded 21 points in that period (that Halfpenny was off) and that was the game."

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

The Lady arrives on screen

Posted: 04 Dec 2011 02:01 AM PST

MYANMAR'S democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi gets a celluloid reincarnation now that a movie version of her life by Fifth Element and The Big Blue director Luc Besson has begun screening around the world including the United States and France.

Malaysian star Michelle Yeoh, a former "Bond girl", plays "The Lady" in a two-hour biopic that focuses on the private life of Suu Kyi, her British husband Michael Aris and their two sons.

Suu Kyi's struggle for her country came at a high personal cost. Her husband died in 1999 in Britain, and in the final stages of his battle with cancer the Myanmar junta denied him a visa to see his wife. Suu Kyi refused to leave Myanmar to see him, certain she would never have been allowed to return.

"It was the price she had to pay," said Luc Besson. "Thousands of people give their lives unquestioningly, simply because they believe it is a just cause."

"The love that united her with her husband gave her immense strength," said Michelle Yeoh.

The daughter of Myanmar's assassinated independence hero General Aung San, Suu Kyi began her own political career late after spending much of her life abroad.

She studied at Oxford University, had two sons after marrying Aris and looked like she was going to settle into life in Britain.

But when she returned to Yangon in 1988 to nurse her sick mother, protests erupted against the military, which ended with a brutal crackdown that left at least 3,000 dead. She took a leading role in the pro-democracy movement, delivering speeches to crowds of hundreds of thousands.

This is the point where Besson's film takes up her story.

Yeoh, who learned Burmese to help her play the part, said she finally got to meet Suu Kyi at her crumbling lakeside mansion in Yangon, where she was under house arrest, as filming was winding down in Thailand.

"She walked up to me to embrace me and take my hand," she said. "She looks fragile but she emanates great strength."

Besson also met the subject of his film after her release last November, when filming on the project had already finished.

He recalled finding himself outside the house which his team had scrupulously recreated "practically to the centimetre" in Thailand, where most of the film was shot.

The French filmmaker, whose recent movies also include the popular animated Arthur series, did manage to film some scenes in Myanmar itself, where he posed as a tourist and shot with a small camera.

"I filmed 17 hours of rushes, sometimes with a soldier three metres away," he recalled.

The film's actors were then super-imposed on the Myanmar scenes with the help of "green screen" technology.

Suu Kyi told Besson that she was not yet ready to watch the two-hour film which covers the deaths of her father and her husband.

"She told me 'I'll see it when I'm courageous enough,'" he said earlier this month.

But one of her sons has seen it and "was very moved," the director added. – AFP

n There is no scheduled screening date for The Lady in Malaysia yet.

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Streep, tipped for glory, says Oscars still matter

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 04:52 PM PST

LONDON (Reuters) - She has been nominated for an Academy Award 16 times, a record for any performer, and won twice, but to Meryl Streep, the golden statuette still matters.

The 62-year-old first attended the annual awards ceremony as a contender more than 30 years ago, when she was up for a supporting role honour in "The Deer Hunter".

The following year she won that honour for "Kramer vs. Kramer" and scooped the best actress prize with the 1982 Holocaust film "Sophie's Choice".

Since then Streep has been back as a nominee 12 times, each time leaving empty-handed.

Now the "Devil Wears Prada" star is a frontrunner again for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady".

Asked in an interview on Thursday if she still cared about the Oscars, she replied: "Sadly it still matters.

"It's so exciting, it really is. I remember the first time I went and (Laurence) Olivier was here and I was next to Gregory Peck and Bette Davis was behind me," Streep told BBC Radio.

"I mean, I've been going to that thing for many years but it's still the one."

She described The Iron Lady, in which she portrays Thatcher both at the height of her powers and as an old, forgetful woman looking back on her life, as a "Lear for girls", a reference to Shakespeare's tragedy "King Lear".

"I said it secretly, I said, 'you know what this is? This is Lear for girls'. It's concerned with the endgame and how power diminishes, how we let go of things, and that's the part that really interested me."

Streep added that tackling such a controversial figure in politics who still divides British public opinion was daunting.

"The policies that she put forward were shared by a number of people in the Conservative Party at that time, but it's how they're communicated.

"And was it (former French President Francois) Mitterrand that said she had the mouth of Marilyn Monroe and the eyes of Caligula."

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf


Posted: 02 Dec 2011 03:50 PM PST

A Matter of Choice
Authors: Dena Michelli and Julie Simpson
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

CHOICES is about deciding between a number of possibilities and selecting a preference. This book is a companion to help anyone make choices, at the right time, whether they are ordinary choices or those that will determine your future. Through interviews, the authors reveal the dynamics of making choices and the surrounding factors that affect the choices made.

Authors: Dave Ramsey
Publisher: Howard Books

YOUR company is only as strong as your leaders. Are they courageous or indecisive? Are they serving a motivated team or just managing employees? Are they valued? The author gives an inspiring message about the importance of taking ownership of the work that one does, the magic of team spirit and the value of financial prudence. Only then, can one talk about setting company or personal goals.

Escape Velocity
Author: Geoffrey A. Moore
Publisher: Harper Business

THE author draws attention to the importance of legacy commitments, about the urgency to see beyond merely one generation. He presents a strategy for generating future growth that goes into generations because the decision made today have far-reaching effects into the future. He writes about mergers and acquisitions, re-allocation of resources and execution using case examples.

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Riding on the wave of the foursquare app

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 03:46 PM PST

Title: The Power of foursquare: 7 Innovative Ways to Get Your Customers to Check in Wherever They Are
Author: Carmine Gallo
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

FOURSQUARE is a social, location-based service smartphone application that businesses of any size can leverage to tell their stories and engage their customers in an innovative way. Users sign up for an account by visiting When they are out and about, they can pull out their smartphone and open the foursquare application programme (app) to see where their friends are or to explore places in their vicinity.

Foursquare will even recommend things to do or places to eat based on a user's check-in history and check-in trends of their friends.They can also upload a photo, leave tips, or send messages. They can – and often do – link these activities to Twitter and Facebook.

Since it is widely known that word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of advertising, this "sharing" feature is critical for brand marketers and merchants to understand, appreciate and leverage. Foursquare turns life into a game as upon checking in, users get points and compete with their friends.

"We're always surprised," says foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley in an exclusive interview for Carmine Gallo's latest book, The Power of foursquare. "We started foursquare so 50 of our friends could follow each other around New York City. I recall sitting in an investment meeting and someone asked, 'When are you going to hit one million users?' I said if we ever hit one million users, we've done something right. In one year we hit six million."

Even the most optimistic entrepreneur would have been astonished at how quickly foursquare has gained traction among millions of users. Foursquare was launched in March 2009 and grew steadily to one million users by the anniversary of its first year. By November 2010, it had five million users and it only took an additional 44 days to reach six million users by January 2011. On a spring Saturday in 2011, foursquare officially "arrived" when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed April 16th as "foursquare Day" in the city.

Foursquare is still growing exponentially; and is growing at a faster rate than Twitter did at similar stages. As smartphones continue to proliferate, the user base is only expected to grow. In 2010, 200 million smartphones were sold around the world. The number is expected to double to 400 million units in 2011, 600 million in 2012 and 700 million in 2013. Foursquare is growing right along with it.

Although foursquare was born in New York's East Village, 40% of its daily check-ins occur outside the United States. On 22 October, 2010, NASA astronaut, Douglas Wheelock became the first man to "check in" from space. Back on Earth, users checked in more than 380 million times during the year – at a rate of about 23 times per second – and did so in every single country, including North Korea.

Each day 35,000 new users join the foursquare international community. Foursquare is available in multiple languages including Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Italian and others. Millions of people are checking in to every possible location: train stations, hotels, shopping malls, art galleries, concerts, restaurants, bars, movie theatres, gyms, college campuses and many other venues. Some people (who are very much alive) are even checking in to cemeteries!

Businesses – large and small – are joining the community. Five months after its launch in 2009, only a handful of merchants inquired about joining the platform – about 15 brands in all. Today, around five hundred thousand brands, retailers, and local merchants actively use the platform to reward loyal customers, attract new ones, and engage those customers on a far deeper level than ever before. In addition these businesses are using the platform and accessing a treasure-trove of customer data for free. Brand marketers and merchants care about two things: retention and acquisition. They are asking themselves, "how do I get customers to walk in and how do I get customers to return?" Foursquare can help with both problems.

Some major brands that have active partnerships with foursquare include: Starbucks, NASA, Wall Street Journal, Jimmy Choo, Chili's Bar & Grill, Toys "R" Us, Barnes & Noble, Bravo TV, MTV, American Express, History Channel, RadioShack, McDonald's, Sports Authority, Starwood Hotel and Resorts, 7-Eleven and Wal-Mart. However, not just the big boys can benefit from a bond with foursquare. Other homegrown and family-owned businesses can also achieve great success with a foursquare association.

Through Gallo's book, we learn from marketing directors as they share insights into why they are going mobile, the results from their campaigns, and tips on how you can do it too. There are more than 50 case studies in the book that will inspire you to look at mobile social networking as an essential component of your growth strategy.

There is a boutique hotel that used foursquare to compete against larger, more established chains. We meet a matchmaker who owes her entire business to foursquare; a popular chain of ice cream parlours that have seen a sizeable increase in business since launching a foursquare campaign.

My favourite case study relates to the Corcoran Group (, the largest residential real estate firm in New York City with the core mission of communicating what it is like to live in an area in a way that goes beyond the four walls of an apartment to include what is nearby. Its story tells of how Corcoran put tips on foursquare i.e. inside information and recommendations about local venues in almost every neighbourhood in its territory. In offering such enhanced client services, it sets itself apart from other real estate firms and showcases in a real way that localised knowledge is at the centre of the Corcoran experience.

Corcoran's product is the physical property for sale or rent, but the brand stands for localised neighbourhood expertise. Foursquare became an "extension" of the Corcoran brand by demonstrating what Corcoran agents have always stood for – knowing the neighbourhood better than anyone else and sharing a deep level of knowledge about what it is like to live in a particular area. Foursquare allows the brand to extend the conversation and to engage in a digital dialogue with a new and growing base of users.

Gallo shares that he wrote the book because as a journalist, he was interested in the stories behind the application programme, the stories behind every special that each merchant offers. Every badge that someone earns on foursquare tells a story, as does every tip and every mayorship. Best of all, as co-founder Naveen Selvadurai puts it, "Foursquare gets you off your couch or your computer and encourages you to explore your world. Many other social networks are about being behind your computer screen or TV."

Social networking is no longer a trend – it has become mainstream. Mobile social networking is simply the next stage in the evolution of conversations. Gallo gives you three compelling reasons why you should care about foursquare – it is free and you have nothing to lose; your customers are probably already using it (and you might not know it); and the growth story is impressive and you will want to be a part of it. Check out foursquare. Check in today.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Umno Youth to present candidates' list within 2 months: Khairy

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 07:12 AM PST

Published: Saturday December 3, 2011 MYT 9:32:00 PM
Updated: Saturday December 3, 2011 MYT 11:12:33 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth will present its list of candidates for the 13th general election to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak within two months.

Its chief, Khairy Jamaluddin, said he was currently in the process of evaluating winnable candidates and that the evaluation involved a report from the grassroots level.

"For Umno Youth, it is the quality, not the quantity of candidates. The (list of) 40 candidates we are sending are all winnable. However, when the PM (prime minister) makes his decision, we will support whoever he chooses as the candidate.

"I am not the youth head who will appeal two to three times, even if my name is absent. We will not wait outside of Seri Perdana to appeal for any candidate.

"We will endorse any decision of the PM," he told reporters after winding up the debate on Umno Youth on the last day of the 2011 Umno General Assembly here Saturday.

Khairy advised the movement's candidates who were not selected, and their supporters, not to sabotage the party as was the case in the previous general election. - Bernama

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Umno’s future depends on support of other races too

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 05:25 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Umno has never ignored the struggle to promote the agenda of the Malays and the Bumiputeras but, at the same time, it still needed the support of the other races to ensure its survival as a party.

The Prime Minister and Umno president said the implementation of 1Malaysia, a concept that he had promoted, did not mean that Umno's commitment to champion the Malay agenda would be neglected, because it was introduced to ensure the support of all races in the country.

"When I go down to the ground, the plantations, the estates, the Chinese New Villages, it does not mean that I am less committed towards championing the cause of the Malays and Bumiputeras.

"I do it because we must ensure that our country, Malaysia, gets the support of all the ethnic groups because the future of Umno depends on the support of the other races too," he said.

Najib said this in his winding up speech at the Umno General Assembly 2011, thus concluding the five-day assembly.

Najib said as the government leader, he must think of the direction that the country was heading so that the rakyat would continue to have confidence and trust in the present leadership.

As such, he said, thorough planning must be carried out to ensure that in the next 10 years, Malaysia would emerge as a developed nation with a high income under the Umno and Barisan Nasional leadership.

"That's why we undertake many things to achieve the developed nation status such as the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP), whereby we have determined the types of projects required to achieve the status.

"Alhamdulillah, with the launch and implementation of such programmes, if the European economy were to collapse, or if there is uncertainty in the United States, we in Malaysia, Alhamdulillah, will have a sustainable and stable economy and can show a positive growth," he said.

He pointed out that the success was not a personal achievement but that of the leadership in the country, which should prove to the rakyat the capability of Umno and Barisan to lead the government. - Bernama

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Najib: New faces in GE

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 04:19 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has indicated that there will be many new faces fielded in the impending general election as Umno wants to present itself as a dynamic party that is willing to rejuvenate.

The Umno president said that fresh faces would be chosen as candidates and a few incumbent elected representatives had indicated that they were willing to step aside.

Najib said he had asked Umno elected representatives who were unpopular to exit gracefully as there was a need to make changes, particularly during elections.

"In some places (constituencies), changes must be made. Maybe the next line-up will have more new faces compared to the last election (in 2008).

"This is necessary because we need to project Umno as a dynamic party that has new blood and that is always willing to rejuvenate and take on a renewal process," he said.

Asked if there would be Umno wakil rakyat who would respond to his call and bow-out, Najib said:

"Yes, there will be. Some have already seen me personally (on this matter) but I don't have to say who. The wakil rakyat have said they want to make way for new faces," he told a press conference at the end of the Umno general assembly.

Najib said the party was in the midst of checking the performance of incumbents, adding if they had performed well, they might be given another chance to serve.

"When we argue about winnable candidates, we did not say that it is (to serve) for two or three terms and they will be replaced. The principle is that the person is a winnable candidate," he said.

On the possibility of announcing election candidates early, Najib said the timing had to be right because it could not be "too early or too late".

To a question, Najib said: "We do have a good chance to take over the opposition-led states. I am confident we can win but I don't want to underrate the opposition."

On the loyalty oath which Umno delegates had pledged at the end of the general assembly, Najib said the members' readiness to take the oath reflected their willingness to set aside differences to work for the party and expressed hope that they would uphold their promise.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Metro Watch

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 04:40 AM PST


There will be water supply disruption in Klang and Shah Alam from 9pm on Dec 7 till midnight on Dec 8 due to maintenance work. The affected areas are Jalan Sultan Mohd 1-5, Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad 1-48, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin 1-5, Masjid Bandar Sulaiman, Camar flats, Customs and Immigration flats, Jalan Telok kapas, Jalan Kunci Air, Jalan Sungai Saim, Jalan Bakti, Jalan Tarmidi, Jalan Musran, Jalan Pelembang, Jalan Sungai Sireh Tambahan, Taman Sungai Sireh Tambahan, Jalan Kampung Keretapi, Jalan Pelabuhan Utara, Jalan Parang and Jalan Gerudi. For enquiries, contact PUSPEL on its toll-free line 1-800-88-5252 or SMS by typing "PUSPEL" and sending it to 39222 or visit


In conjunction with Malaysia Spine Society — Scoliosis Research Society International Congress 2011, a public forum on "Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis" will be held on Dec 10 at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free. For details, contact the secretariat at 03- 4023 4700 /


Renown speaker Master Suurya will give a talk entitled "10 Siddhars and Their Greatness" at the Singgahsana Hotel in Petaling Jaya on Dec 11. The programme, starting at 2.45pm, will highlight how the modern world can benefit and become enlightened through meditation, mind therapy and spiritual practices founded by the 18 Siddhars. For details, contact 012-209 6481.


The Bandar Utama Residents' Association will be organising a Christmas carnival tomorrow from 9am to 8.30pm at the BU3 Community Centre (along the same road as SJK Puay Chai 2). There will a lot of activities for the entire family including the Christmas Light launch at 7.30pm. For details, contact Catherine at 012-293 8715.


The An-Nur Specialist Hospital, Bangi will host a free public forum entitled "Strengthen Your Child's Natural Defences from Within" tomorrow from 10am to 11am at Level 3, MIG. The talk will be presented by consultant paediatrician Dr Mohd Khairul Azman Khalid. Entrance to the forum is free. For details, contact 03-8926 9217


Celebrate Christmas at Kepong Village Mall. Aside from tenant promotions, there are also prizes to be won every weekend. Shoppers can also learn how they can donate for charity through World Vision Malaysia on Dec 23 and 24. For details, contact Affad at 012-334 0477


The National Blood Centre will be operating a number of mobile blood donation units from Monday to Dec 11 throughout the Klang Valley. Members of the public can find out the dates, times and locations of these mobile units through the centre's website at

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Stench from garbage trucks

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 04:40 AM PST

We REFER to the story 'Stench in Semenyih' published in StarMetro on Nov 22 and would like to clarify issues highlighted in the article.

The Selangor Department of Environment has investigated the matter. Based on the investigations, it was found that the stench was caused by spilled garbage from garbage trucks and it was estimated that about 600 garbage trucks move in and out from Recycle Energy Sdn Bhd (RESB) every day.

The RESB premises is located at Kampung Pasir Baru, Semenyih, Kajang and is about four to five kilometres from Bandar Sunway Semenyih/Taman Desa Mewah.

In order to control foul odour from the domestic waste, RESB observes the practice of spraying bio-enzyme onto the waste (stock piles) within their premises as well as onto the garbage trucks heading out from RESB premises.

The Selangor DOE will continue to monitor RESB on its compliance to a written notice issued on Sept 30, 2011 and also the detailed EIA approval conditions especially on RESB's management of waste stock piles within its premises and the control of leachate discharges from the disposal site to the nearby water-course.

Yamuna Perimalu
Head of Corporate Communications Unit
Natural Resources and Environment Ministry

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Apartments in dire straits

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 02:32 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Buyers of the Taman Bayu Tebrau apartments are urged to attend a dialogue this coming Sunday to iron out problems related to the up keeping of the apartments itself.

Only 60 of the 460 units at the apartment are occupied and residents have been forced to live without working lifts, leaking pipes and overall poor maintenance of the building.

Committee president Tan Khai Meng said that the apartment was completed in 2004 but the developer has since gone bankrupt and have ceased to maintain the building.

"This problem cropped up even before the developers went bankrupt and the residents here are forced to live with poor facilities.

"If all the buyers collectively voice out our problems, I believe it will get more attention from the authorities concerned," he said during a press conference held at the Chinese Press Club here recently.

Retired admin executive Antek Ibrahim, 55, said that she used her Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to pay RM5,000 as a deposit for her apartment in 2004.

"I used my 20 years of hard earned money to buy the house and I am still paying RM770 per month excluding utility bills but still have to worry about the shoddy state of the building," she said in tears.

She also said that there are holes in the pillars and there are cracks in the walls.

"We have two swimming pools but the children's pool has been made into fish pond while the adults pool is now a place for mosquitoes to breed," she said.

She added that the apartment had also become a habitat for wild animals such as snakes and monitor lizards.

Meanwhile, Johor Jaya assemblyman Tan Cher Puk's representative Yong Kok Leong said that a dialogue and a briefing session would be held for the buyers to voice out their opinions to the authorities.

"The dialogue session will be held between the buyers, insolvency department and also two assemblymen at Taman Bayu Tebrau apartment itself," he said.

"I urge the buyers or their proxy to attend the session before a decision is made by the authorities," he said.

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Joyful reunion between Royal Consort and childhood pals

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 05:41 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: It was a memorable reunion for the Sultan of Johor's Royal Consort Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah when she finally met up with her 15 childhood friends after 40 years.

Her primary school friends came in from different states and one even flew in all the way from Melbourne, Australia to attend the reunion held at Thistle Hotel here recently.

The gathering was organized to reunite Raja Zarith's friends from her primary school days studying at SK Datin Khadijah in Kuala Kangsar.

As soon as she arrived at the hotel, the guests surrounded her to give her hugs and they immediately started "catching up".

Raja Zarith said that she had begun planning the reunion since about four months ago after such a long time apart and got in touch with them via Facebook and email.

"I am so happy as they were my closest friends during my primary school years and seeing them again brought back so many memories.

"One of my favorite moments that I remember was when we sat under a huge tree in the school's compound to chit chat and gossip," said Raja Zarith, adding that she used to invite her classmates to the palace during weekends to have afternoon tea.

"I recall that during those days, we used to hang out at a coffee shop in front of our school to listen to our favourite records by Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and the Partridge Family everyday," she said with a laugh.

Her classmate Lee Guat Im, 52, who visited Johor for a week from Melbourne just to attend the reunion, said that she remembered clearly that Raja Zarith used to draw paper dolls for them.

"She was always the artistic one and we would sit together and make dresses for the paper dolls that she drew for us," said the nursing home administrator, adding that they used to correspond through handwritten letters after Raja Zarith left to England to continue her secondary school studies.

Lecturer Khairunazizi Mohd Azli said that they fondly called her Raja or Zarith in their school days.

"Although we know that she is royalty but there is no gap between us. Of course we now call her Tuanku instead of Zarith like we used to," she quipped.

The event, held at one of the hotel's suites, was decorated in gold and pink while pink rose petals were scattered across the dinner tables.

Each guest was presented with gift bags printed with the reunion event written in cursive, filled with traditional Johor kuihs.

Apart from a scrumptious buffet dinner, the guests were also entertained by a live quartet, while they relived their childhood memories.

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Terengganu to deepen Setiu River as flood mitigation project

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 02:33 PM PST

SETIU: The Terengganu state government is expected to carry out a comprehensive project to deepen the Setiu River in a bid to tackle floods in the district.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Committee chairman Asha'ari Idris said the state government had already applied for the funds from the Federal government under the Setiu Valley Flood Mitigation Project.

"We applied last year but it has not been approved yet," he told reporters here.

Asha'ari said the project would reduce floods that affect the district regularly, the worst being this year.

"Deepening the Setiu river is done yearly but it is still not sufficient. If the new project materialised, it will also ease the dilemma faced by farmers whose crops are destroyed by floods," he said.

He said about 60 farmers in Kampung Tasik and Kampung Buluh incurred losses amounting to almost half a million ringgit when their farms were hit by flood waters. — Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Ukulele player Bill Tapia dies at 103

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 04:50 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ukulele player Bill Tapia, believed to be the oldest performing musician in the world, died on Friday at the age of 103, his official website said.

Honolulu-born Tapia, who played with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, died in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles, the website said.

Tapia died just six months after releasing his latest album - a live version of his 100th birthday concert celebration - and one month short of what would have been his 104th birthday in January 2012.

Tapia started his career entertaining troops from World War One and later worked on steamships between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii. He became a teacher to Hollywood stars including Clark Gable and Shirley Temple when a ukulele craze hit the United States.

After World War Two, Tapia moved to San Francisco and worked for years as a guitar teacher until making a comeback in 2004, age of 96, with the release of a CD featuring jazz and Hawaiian standards.

Tapia was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame in 2004 and continued to tour until 2010.

News of his death on Friday, also posted on his Facebook page, brought tributes from friends and fans.

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Lady Gaga's 14-minute music video puzzles, pleases

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 04:49 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lady Gaga made her music video directorial debut with a 14-minute production which was met on Friday with a mix of weariness and adulation by fans and pop culture watchers.

"Marry the Night" - the fifth single from her "Born This Way" album - sees the Grammy-winning performance artist making a trip to the hospital, dying her hair mint green, throwing Cheerios over her naked body and hanging upside down in a car - all in the eight minutes before the song comes in.

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