Isnin, 12 Disember 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Lowe's defends pulling ads from Muslim TV show

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 05:07 PM PST

NEW YORK: U.S. home improvement chain Lowe's Monday defended its decision to pull advertising from reality TV show ''All-American Muslim'' amid charges the company had given in to bigotry.

''All-American Muslim,'' which airs on TLC, follows several Muslim families in and around the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States and its largest mosque.

It has been accused by one Florida group to be propaganda. But the decision by Lowe's sparked an outcry by defenders of the show.

Lowe's employed its Facebook page to defend itself and called ''All-American Muslim,'' a ''lightning rod'' for ''strong political and societal views.''

Lowe's spokeswoman Karen Cobb said the company was one of ''dozens'' of companies to pull their advertising late last month. Names of other companies were not immediately available.

Laurie Goldberg, a TLC spokeswoman, declined to say how many companies have pulled their advertising from the show, which attracts about a million viewers per week.

''We stand behind the show 'All-American Muslim' and we're happy the show has strong advertising support,'' Goldberg said.

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons said in a series of messages on Twitter defending the embattled reality T.V. show that he had bought up the remaining ad spots.

''Just purchased remaining spots for #allamericanmuslim for next week,'' Simmons said. ''The show is now sold out! keep your money @lowes and we will keep ours.''

A spokeswoman for Simmons said he had purchased two 30-second ads, but said Simmons had not decided what the content of those ads would be.

The Florida Family Association, a little-known group that has campaigned against the show, has branded ''All-American Muslim'' ''propaganda'' that is ''clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.''

But U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, who is Muslim, said in a statement that Lowe's had ''chosen to uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group'' and given in to intolerance.

''Corporate America needs to take a stand against these anti-Muslim fringe groups and stand up for what is right because this is what it means to be an American,'' he said.

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Chefs on a trip

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 03:30 PM PST

TAKE four talented, up-and-coming Asian chefs with completely different personalities out of their comfort zone, put them together in a team, and whisk them off to four prestigious locations in Europe where they have to cook dinner for rich and famous VIP guests, while pairing their food with the best cognacs and whiskies in the world – that is the premise of the Asian Food Channel's (AFC) Great Dinners Of The World, a new production that premieres today.

According to Maria Brown, AFC co-founder and managing director, the programme offers a unique take on the diversity of Asian cuisine.

"Not only is it a travelogue that showcases the beautiful landmarks of France and Scotland, the series also has the element of reality in it – the challenges, the disagreements and dynamics among the four chefs all contribute to the overall enjoyment of the programme," she says.

Besides showing the chefs at work, the show also focuses on the relationship between the four of them, as they move from being complete strangers to becoming close friends both in and out of the kitchen.

Produced in collaboration with Pernod Ricard Malaysia, the programme sees chefs Sho Naganuma, Malcolm Goh, Johnny Fua and Sherson Lian travelling to the "spiritual" homes of Royal Salute and Chivas whisky, the Glenlivet single malt, G.H. Mumm champagne and Martell cognac to cook for VIP guests.

This is the second production that PRM has worked on with AFC, after the cooking series True Passion – Martin Yan. At a press launch of the programme last Thursday, the four intrepid chefs shared their experiences.

Sho Naganuma

Nickname: Discipline

The 31-year-old Naganuma began his culinary journey at the tender age of six, when his father taught him to make traditional Japanese dishes.

He has since gone on to work with celebrity chef Hide Yamamoto, and is now the executive chef at the latter's Michelin-starred Hide Yamamoto restaurant at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

For Great Dinners Of The World, Naganuma took charge of the dinner at Inveraray Castle, the home of the Duke of Argyll, who is brand ambassador for Royal Salute whisky.

Going by the nickname "Discipline", Naganuma's dinner showcased his attention to detail and dedication towards finishing what he started. "I'm a very straightforward person. If I decide to do something, I will see it to the end; I won't give up halfway or change my decisions halfway. That is what I was call discipline," he says.

According to Sho, the hardest part of filming the show was getting the right tools and ingredients.

He also reckons that the result of his dinner would have been very different if not for the help from the other three guys.

"We worked together really well – the chemistry was great, and we complemented each other very well in terms of expression and taste. We were lucky to have each other on this show."

Malcolm Goh

Nickname: Knowledge

Currently a full-time lecturer at the Berjaya University College of Hospitality in, Goh's nickname on the show was, unsurprisingly, "Knowledge", with the others describing him as their walking food encyclopaedia.

"I have to say my knowledge is still limited, but you can never stop learning," he says.

"It's just my job to stay updated, and know all the right terms so that I'll know the answers when the students ask me something!"

Goh, 26, was also known on the show as "the guy with the clipboard".

"I have a habit of putting all my tickets and documents on a clipboard whenever I travel so that it's easier to carry around," he says with a laugh. Even on the show, Goh – who was the chef in charge of the dinner at the Chateau de Chanteloup, the spiritual home of Martell cognac – is seldom seen without that clipboard, referring to it constantly, and looking more like a lecturer grading his students than a chef at times.

Having worked in the industry as a chef before becoming a lecturer, Goh can compare the two fields and he gets more satisfaction from his current occupation, he says.

"When I was in the industry, I used to go home tired but never satisfied. There was always something missing," he recalls. "But now, I get to see students applying what I teach them, going for cooking competitions ... it's more fulfilling for me to see them grow. I feel I am doing something really worthwhile."

Johnny Fua

Nickname: Leadership

The so-called "rock star" of the group, the 38-year-old executive chef of Tanzini Restaurant, GTower, Kuala Lumpur, is also the most senior member of the group, which earned him the nickaname "Leadership" on the show.

"I don't care where you come from or what your background is, I just want everyone to work well together, for everything to go smoothly, and to put on a good show. That's my bottom line," says the genial Fua, who was in charge of the dinner in Paris, which was paired with G.H. Mumm champagne.

Like the rest of them, Fua was bemused and somewhat intimidated by the title of the show.

"Great Dinners Of The World? Who are we to say we'll be cooking 'Great Dinners Of The World'? We are not famous celebrity chefs, so who's going to watch us?" he exclaims in mock horror.

All the same, he reckons people will watch because the dynamics and the eventual friendship between the four of them are what make this show different enough to stand out in the crowded cooking show genre.

"We're just a bunch of guys who gave 110%, sweating and working together, and having fun at the same time. That's what makes the show so happening. There was no personal glory in this show – we just wanted to put on a good show, and make things happen!" he says.

Sherson Lian

Nickname: Attitude

Lian is no stranger to TV – he is the host of Malaysian cooking programme 5 Rencah 5 Rasa. However, being on Great Dinners Of The World took the young chef way out of his comfort zone.

"I've never done fine dining events before. My cooking is more the rough, raw bachelor-at-home kind of style. So going on the trip took me way, way out of my comfort zone!" says the Malacca-born chef, whose streetwise attitude and carefree demeanour were what landed him with the nickname "Attitude" on the show.

"I bring the street element to fine dining!" he laughs.

In charge of the dinner at the Glenlivet distillery in Scotland, Lian, 26, played to his strengths and chose an Asian theme.

"I chose the Asian dinner because that was what I was most comfortable with. I have never done Western fine dining cuisine, so it would have been pointless for me to try something I could not handle.

"This way, I could be sure that I could give my absolute best," he says. "I even came prepared – I brought some belacan powder and Chinese herbs along with me on the trip!"

Lian has worked in the food industry for the past 10 years, and used to own a restaurant called Paradise Corner in Sungai Chua, Kajang, Selangor. Besides hosting 5 Rencah 5 Rasa, he is also the team-building consultant for the Centre for Customer Care Malaysia (CCC).

> Great Dinners Of The World premieres tonight at 10pm on the Asian Food Channel (Astro Ch 703), and will thereafter be aired every Tuesday and Thursday at the same time.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Another school bus crash sparks fury in China

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 08:51 PM PST

BEIJING (Reuters) - Fifteen children were killed when a school bus crashed in China's eastern province of Jiangsu, state media said on Tuesday, the latest in a string of accidents fanning public fury across the country.

The bus rolled into a ditch as it veered off the road to avoid a pedicab, the Xinhua news agency said. At least eight children were also injured in the accident, which happened after school on Monday.

"Students became trapped at the bottom of the overturned bus and drowned as water gushed into the wreck," Xinhua reported, citing Zhang Bin, a deputy head of the Fengxian county, where the accident happened.

"The driver has been detained for investigation," said Zhang.

Xinhua gave conflicting accounts on the number of children on board the bus but all the reports suggested the bus was not overloaded. Xinhua last reported that 29 were on board.

An outcry erupted across China in early November after 18 nursery school children were killed when a coal truck slammed into their overcrowded school van in northwestern China.

Also on Monday, a school bus carrying 59 children collided with a truck in Guangdong Province, in China's far south, injuring 37, media reported.

That crash and the one in Jiangsu are sure to amplify calls for more spending on education and children's safety. In 1993, the Chinese government vowed to dedicate 4 percent of GDP to education.

"Close to 20 years have passed, and this has still not been achieved," said an editorial in the China Information News on Tuesday. "For some local governments, the proportion of GDP spent on education has actually fallen."

Chinese microbloggers were quick to express their anger about the crash.

"Another school bus accident kills 15 children. It's just a number in the eyes of Chinese officials. The only thing they care about is whether it impacts their future career," wrote Huiji Flying on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblog.

"Nothing is safe in China apart from leaders' cars, houses, money and concubines," added Yiran Anki.

The November tragedy prompted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to promise more government funds to provide improved school bus services.

Rural areas in China are notorious for unsafe transport for children, who face risky rides in aging, badly maintained vans and trucks.

The school bus crashes also reflect the growing trend in rural China for schools to be concentrated in larger towns, abandoning villages where the population has been shrinking. Children then have to travel long distances to school or board away from their families.

(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing, Sabrina Mao, Chris Buckley and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ken Wills and John Newland)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Syria death toll exceeds 5,000 - U.N. rights chief

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 08:02 PM PST

AMMAN (Reuters) - More than 5,000 people have been killed in nine months of unrest in Syria, the U.N. human rights chief said, as an insurgency begins to overshadow what had been mostly peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

Anti-government protesters carry the coffin of Abdul Haleem Baqour during his funeral in Hula near Homs December 10, 2011. REUTERS/Handout

The latest figure reported to the U.N. Security Council by Navi Pillay is 1,000 higher than the one she announced just 10 days ago. The toll includes civilians, army defectors and those executed for refusing to shoot civilians, but not soldiers and other security personnel killed by opposition forces, she said.

The Syrian government has said more than 1,100 members of the army, police and security services have been killed.

Pillay said the Syrian government's actions could constitute crimes against humanity and issued a fresh call for the council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.

A wave of largely peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule erupted in Syria in mid-March, inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya.

A violent security crackdown failed to halt the unrest, which has turned bloodier in the last few months as defecting soldiers join armed civilians in fighting back in some areas.

One flashpoint region is the central province of Homs, where an explosion set a gas pipeline on fire on Monday, the second reported pipeline blast in the area in a week. "The fire lit the night sky," said a resident who gave his name as Abu Khalaf.

The explosion occurred near the restive town of Rastan, the scene in late September of one of the first battles between army defectors and security forces. The insurgents have since opted for hit-and-run attacks on patrols and security compounds.

Despite the spiralling violence, the Syrian authorities held local elections on Monday as part of what they say is a reform process, but Assad's critics described the voting as irrelevant.

Monday was also the second day of the opposition's "Strike for Dignity," but its success was hard to gauge in some cities where violence has kept many residents in their homes.

Though the strike has found support in protest strongholds around the country, it has not taken hold in central parts of the capital Damascus or the business hub of Aleppo.


In Homs, activists said at least four civilians were killed by tank fire on Sunni Muslim districts, where the strike held and voting was largely boycotted.

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist organisation, said security forces killed another 16 people elsewhere in Syria, including in villages around Homs and in the northwestern province of Idlib on the border with Turkey.

Syria has barred most independent journalists, making it hard to assess conflicting accounts of events there.

In New York, Western envoys on the Security Council said Pillay's briefing on Monday was the most horrifying they had heard in recent times and termed it scandalous that the council, paralysed by opposition from Russia and China, had taken little action on Syria.

"Independent, credible and corroborated accounts demonstrate that these abuses have taken place as part of a widespread and systematic attack on civilians," Pillay said, according to briefing notes seen by Reuters.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he too was troubled by Pillay's report but said outside intervention could lead to civil war and a far higher death toll.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said Pillay should never have appeared before the council for a session that was part of a "huge conspiracy concocted against Syria from the beginning."

Assad's government portrays the municipal polls as part of a process leading to a parliamentary election next year and constitutional reform. But critics say local elections have little meaning in a country where power is highly centralised.

Prime Minister Adel Safar urged voters to "stand together to save our country from the conspiracies against us" and SANA said Syrians had flocked to the polls in 9,849 voting centres.

Assad has said reforms cannot be rushed in Baathist-ruled Syria, which is a close ally of Iran, a key player in nearby Lebanon and supporter of militant anti-Israel groups.

Some of his opponents see civil disobedience such as the strike action as preferable to armed confrontation.

"The cost will be more human lives I am afraid. But it is less costly than an armed uprising and the regime dragging the country into a Libya-type scenario," said Rima Fleihan, a member of the foreign-based opposition Syrian National Council.

(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Beirut; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Anti-Wall Street activists march on U.S. West Coast ports

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 07:53 PM PST

OAKLAND, Calif (Reuters) - Anti-Wall Street protesters tried to mount a blockade of major West Coast ports on Monday in a move seen as a test of their momentum, but fell short of imposing a large-scale disruption of commerce.

Marine veteran Scott Olsen (front), who suffered a head injury at the October 25 Occupy Oakland protest, leads demonstrators during the Occupy movements' attempts to shut down West Coast ports in Oakland, California December 12, 2011. REUTERS/Laird Harrison

The protesters marched on ports from California to Alaska, hoping to call attention to U.S. economic inequalities, high unemployment and a financial system they say is unfairly skewed toward the wealthy.

They succeeded in disrupting morning arrivals of trucks and dockworkers at some waterfronts, blocking and effectively closing two terminals in Portland, Oregon, and briefly forcing the closure of a third terminal in Seattle.

But by late afternoon demonstrators had largely failed to cause large-scale immobilization of commerce. A handful were arrested in San Diego, Long Beach, and Oakland, Calif, and Seattle.

The long-planned action comes after the Occupy movement that began in New York in September has seen its tent camps in most big West Coast cities dismantled in police raids, leaving the movement looking for new avenues to voice its discontent.

The largest action unfolded in Oakland, an Occupy hot spot where protesters hoped to stage a repeat of an October protest that briefly succeeded in shuttering the port, the nation's fifth busiest container port by volume.

"Whose ports? Our ports!" a crowd of around 1,000 activists chanted as they paraded before dawn from a transit station to the city's cargo port and split into groups to try to block terminal entrances.

Tractor-trailers were prevented from entering at least two terminals where protesters formed picket lines in front of police. Police reported two arrests, but port authorities and protest organizers gave conflicting accounts of the outcome.

Former Marine Scott Olsen, whose injury during clashes between Oakland police and demonstrators in October gave fresh impetus to protests, later joined a march in Oakland.


Occupy Oakland spokesman Mike King called the blockade a success, saying cargo traffic at the port was limited to just two vessels in anticipation of the demonstration, and that longshoremen and Teamsters were largely absent from work.

"Nobody crossed the picket line, and most truckers stayed away," King said, adding that the only cargo loaded onto trucks in the terminal yards was material already taken off ships.

The port's executive director, Omar Benjamin, acknowledged "sporadic disruptions" but insisted the facility had remained operational throughout the day.

Benjamin had no details about the extent of disruptions, and could not say whether any ships were unloaded or whether union workers had reported to their jobs.

Workers affected by the protests were divided.

"It's not good for the economy," said Agustin Luna, 39, an independent trucker waiting in his big rig to deliver a load of alfalfa to a ship in Oakland bound for Japan.

But Sean Martin, another independent trucker waiting outside an Oakland terminal, said: "I support what they are trying to do. Wages have steadily dropped."

In the Port of Long Beach, adjacent to Los Angeles, the nation's No. 2 container port, around 250 to 300 demonstrators rallied in the rain at a terminal facility where they scuffled with helmeted police officers who shoved them back with batons in an effort to keep the entryway clear.

Two were arrested before demonstrators left the area to block traffic along a thoroughfare through the port. But protesters later began to disperse on their own as rains grew heavier and police converged in force, threatening arrests.

In San Diego, four people were arrested at that city's port as demonstrators tried to block a road into the facility.


In Oregon, several hundred protesters at Portland's harbour blocked gates to two of the port's four main terminals, including the chief deep-draft container dock, forcing the closure of both facilities.

"We are not able to get trucks through or employees in," port spokesman Josh Thomas said. "Nobody is going to work, not the longshoremen, office workers or truckers."

Portland police said they had detained three men in a car on their way to the port several hours before the march during a traffic stop in which officers seized a loaded .40-caliber handgun, a sword, radios and gas masks.

The men told police they had planned to attend the demonstration and had arrived early to "scout the area." The driver was arrested on a charge of possessing a loaded firearm in public while a passenger was held on an outstanding warrant. The third man was released.

Protests at the Port of Longview in Washington state prompted officials there to send 16 longshoremen home after their terminal was deemed "an unsafe work environment," said Dan Coffman, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21.

The two largest labour unions caught up in the protests were split, with the longshoremen's union opposed to the attempted blockade and the Teamsters taking a neutral stance.

One of the issues for the protestors involved the conditions of truck drivers who are non union and paid low wages.

In a show of solidarity with the West Coast protests, some protesters refused to leave a private atrium in the World Financial Center in New York City, and 17 were arrested.

(Additional reporting by R.T. Watson in Long Beach, Dan Cook and Teresa Carson in Portland, Laura L. Myers and Nicole Neroulias in Seattle, Mary Slosson in Los Angeles and Amman Ali in New York; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jerry Norton, Cynthia Johnston and Carol Bishopric)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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Felda arm listing still on

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 07:09 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Despite the controversy surrounding the directive for Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) general manager Datuk Dzulkifli Abd Wahab to go on leave, the Government is not wavering on its plan to list Felda Global Ventures (FGV) on the stock exchange next year, sources said.

The sources added that the listing exercise was still on because of its importance to Felda settlers.

"The listing would turn the settlers into owners of the listed FGV via the settlers' co-operative, Felda Investment Co-operative (KPF). It is a game-changer for the settlers as they would have a controlling stake in a listed plantation giant."

Sources also said that the KPF EGM to be held on Jan 5 to vote on the matter would likely see the majority of representatives vote in favour of the deal, which would pave the way for FGV's listing in March or early April.

Over the weekend, an online news portal reported that Dzulkifli was asked to go on leave for eight months. The article stated that the move was the result of differing views between Dzulkifli and KPF's new chairman, Tan Sri Isa Samad, who replaced the former a few months ago.

The news portal added that Dzulkifli was believed to be against the proposed listing of FGV.

Another recent online media report stated that KPF's removal of some key members of Felda's new top brass from its board could be viewed as a concerted attempt by certain quarters, such as the existing senior management, to undermine the intial public offering (IPO).

The listing of FGV is expected to raise some RM6bil in what could be Malaysia's biggest IPO in 2012. By comparison, the biggest IPO so far this year was Bumi Armada Bhd, which raised RM2bil.

KPF owns 51% in Felda Holdings while FGV, an entity wholly-owned by the Government, holds the remaining 49%. Felda Holdings is considered a gem for its assets, which include a 880,000 ha plantation landbank as well as profitable agriculture and plantation-related businesses consisting of palm oil mills, refineries, rubber factories, and manufacturing plants.

Under the proposed listing, settlers would swap their 51% stake in Felda Holdings via KPF for 61% control of FGV.

In the first half of this year, Felda Holdings made RM314mil in pre-tax profit on turnover of RM8.9bil. FGV's pre-tax profit for the first half was RM167.8mil on RM1.98bil revenue.

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Persisting Euro crisis continues to dampen Asian markets

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 05:44 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Asian indices were mostly lower in Tuesday's early trade as the ongoing Euro debt crisis continues to sap investor confidence in the region.

On the local front, the benchmark FBM KLCI was down 7.11 points or 0.48% to 1,459.99 at 9.13am. with PPB Group Bhd and Genting Bhd the biggest losers in early trade, shedding 22 sen to RM16.38 and 16 sen to RM10.66 respectively.

Select consumer stocks seemed to buck the trend, with Guinness Anchor Bhd, Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd and Nestle (M) Bhd topping the gainers' list.

Proton Holdings Bhd continued its uptrend, gaining 16 sen to RM4.69 following a statement by the national automaker's adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Monday, who said that Khazanah Nasional would be selling its 42.74% stake to DRB-HICOM with a general offer likely to be made.

As for regional indices, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 1.33% to 8,538.39 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 1.34% to 18,327.45.

Shanghai's A index was flat at 2,291.54 while Taiwan's Taiex Index slipped 1.09% to 6,872.95.

Seoul's Kospi Index dipped 1.38% to 1,873.57 and Singapore's Straits Times Index shed 0.75% to 2,681.45.

Nymex crude oil gained seven cents to US$97.84 per barrel. Spot gold fell US$7.38 to US$1,659.20 per ounce. The ringgit was quoted at 3.174 to the US dollar.

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MIDCAP-Utilities sector tops analysts' revision in Malaysia

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 05:22 PM PST

Dec 12 (Reuters) - Malaysia's utilities are seeing earnings upgrades by analysts and the sector tops Thomson Reuters StarMine's Analyst Revisions rankings in the south east Asian country with a high score of 80.

While analysts are upbeat on the country's utilities sector, they are bearish on the materials sector, which has the lowest score of 24.

This indicates that analysts are expecting defensive sectors such as utilities to perform better than cyclical stocks, which include metals and mining companies.

Malaysia's national power producer Tenaga Nasional has the best Analysts Revision Model (ARM) score of 97 among its peers. Since Nov. 29, seven out of 21 analysts have raised their earnings estimate on the company by an average of 33.2 percent for the year ending August 2012.

On the other hand, steel producer Lion Industries Corporation Bhd has the worst ARM score of 1 in Malaysia's Materials sector. Since Nov. 30, two out of four analysts have cut their EPS estimates on the company by an average of 30.5 percent for the year ending June 2012.


Malaysia's Tenaga says to share additional fuel cost with government, Petronas.

StarMine's Analyst Revisions model is a percentile ranking of stocks based on changes in analyst sentiment, with 100 representing the highest rank. This model tracks analysts' upward revisions in earnings and revenue estimates and rating changes.

On its Intrinsic Valuation model, StarMine adjusts for the usually optimistic bias in analysts' EPS forecasts and then uses the resulting growth rate and dividends to determine the valuation.

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The Star Online: Sports

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HRT on course for testing in February

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 06:42 PM PST

LONDON(Reuters) - Formula One stragglers HRT expect to have their new car ready for pre-season testing in February for the first time since they entered the sport in 2010.

The Spanish-owned team barely made the start of their debut season and were unable to do any laps with their new car this year until the opening Australian Grand Prix in March, where they failed to qualify.

"Despite the tight deadlines and a rule change for 2012 meaning that crash tests and chassis homologation procedures must be completed before any cars can test, the team is confident that the new car will be ready for pre-season testing in February," Hispania said in a statement on Monday.

The team said development of the Cosworth-powered 2012 car was being done at their technical office near Munich by a team of designers supervised by Jacky Eeckelaert and chief aerodynamicist Stephan Chosse.

Hispania have not scored a point in two seasons in Formula One. They have yet to complete their driver line-up, although Spanish veteran Pedro de la Rosa has been announced as one of their drivers.

Indian Narain Karthikeyan could also be in the frame.

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Malaysian riders bag gold and bronzes in Medellin meet

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 03:14 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's top track cyclists closed the season on a high as they collected one gold and two bronze medals in the Gran Caracol Da Pista invitational meet in Medellin, Colombia, over the weekend.

The decision to stay back, after the Cali round of the World Cup the previous week, to compete in the Gran Caracol Da Pista proved right as Josiah Ng blazed his way to a surprise gold in the scratch while Azizulhasni Awang and Fatehah Mustapa finished with bronze in the respective men's and women's sprint.

Josiah finished ahead of Holland riders Roy Van Den Berg and Albert Hugo to win the 10km scratch race.

Azizul continued with his impressive comeback by taking a well deserved bronze in the men's sprint won by 2009 world champion Maximilian Levy of Germany.

Azizul had reached the keirin final in Cali but a crash spoiled his hopes of a podium finish and he eventually placed fifth. The two-time World Championship finalist was riding in only his second competition since suffering a career threatening calf injury in Manchester in February.

It was also a most satisfying campaign for top national woman cyclist Fatehah. The 22-year-old, who reached the keirin final at the World Cup in Cali, made it to the podium in the sprint discipline won by Frenchwoman Sandie Clair.

Fatehah also finished fourth in the women's scratch race and her performances indicate she is on the right track to realise her dream to be the first Malaysian woman to ride at the Olympics in London next year.

Fatehah shone in her second SEA Games appearance with three gold medals in the sprint, team sprint and 500m time trial in Indonesia last month and track team manager Datuk Naim Mohamad was impressed with her progress.

"It was good for her to end the year with a medal in her first outing in Colombia. This was a high quality meet as they only invited the top riders to stay back after the World Cup," he said.

"Fatehah has really matured and is slowly making her mark in the World Cup series. We hope she can keep up the good work next year."

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Siti eyes big strike as she puts shoulder injury behind her

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 06:27 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: A shoulder injury cost her a spot in the recent Indonesia SEA Games, but bowler Siti Shazwani Ahmad Suhaimi is ready to put it all behind her now.

"I've recovered fully and am making good progress. I did well to finish eighth in the U-Mobile Kuala Lumpur Open.

"I'm looking forward to end the year with some good results," she said.

The 24-year-old is back in action in the ongoing Milo International Junior All-Stars tournament, at the Sunway Megalanes until this weekend, where she is hoping to end the year with a bang.

Shazwani has good memories of the tournament as she won the girls' title last year.

"As she is no longer eligible to compete in the Under-23 competition, she has entered in the Masters category, formerly known as the All-Stars Classic.

The Masters is for women (graded and Open) and men's graded bowlers.

The only notable difference is the format where bowlers play to qualify for the top 48 before making the step-ladder.

In the All-Stars Classic, bowlers were required to play 12 games before making the top 48.

In the All-Star Classic last year, Shazwani was leading in the round of 48 before hitting a bad patch which put paid to her hopes of making the step-ladder.

"It would have been nice to win both the Junior All-Stars and All-Stars Classic but it wasn't meant to be," she said.

The tournament this year has attracted a number of bowlers from around the world including American Robert Smith, Sam Cooley of Australia, Wu Siu Hong of Hong Kong and Singaporeans Remy Ong, Cherie Tan and Shayna Ng.

The winner of the Masters will receive RM30,000 in prize money.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Fat is beautiful

Posted: 13 Dec 2011 02:05 AM PST

Some of our stars are overweight, but we love them just as they are.

IT'S almost hair-raising to read about the lengths some celebrities go to in order to maintain an often unrealistic weight or physique.

Actor Taylor Lautner shared recently that after filming his last shirtless scene in the final instalment of Twilight, part of his celebration involved going out for a dessert, a luxury he had not been able to indulge in for a long while due to the need to maintain his buff body for the movies.

Then there's Anne Hathaway's dramatic recollection of the painful dieting she went through in 2006 to lose weight for The Devil Wears Prada – a regimen of fruits, vegetables and fish that left her in constant hunger and tears.

Today's column, however, is not about the travails and deprivations of celebrities and their diets. Instead, I would like to feature some of the stars who are not afraid to have their after-dinner sweets, are comfortable in their own skin and who give credence to the phrase not often heard these days: Fat is beautiful.

First up has to be the inimitable Queen Latifah, the hip hop artiste and actress who looms large in whatever character she plays on screen. She makes more impact in a supporting role than other actresses in lead roles, as she did in The Dilemma, where she overshadowed Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly, whose names I had to struggle to recall.

It's always a sign of a strong X-factor when an actor is able to stand out in an all-star ensemble cast. The Queen was the female nominee from Valentine's Day in the Romantic Comedy category in the 2010 Teen Choice Awards even though the movie featured the likes of Julia Roberts, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner, among other Hollywood it-girls.

The Queen turned 41 this year, but is still big, sexy and utterly relevant in Hollywood. All Hail The Queen was the title of her hit debut hip hop album in 1989 at the fresh age of 19, a harbinger of the stellar career of a woman who is beautiful whatever shape she is because of the confidence she possesses.

The multi-hyphenate recently launched her own clothing collection that features larger sizes as well.

Actor Kevin James, who made his name as the happily-fat delivery driver Doug Heffernan in the hit US sitcom The King Of Queens, is a big man made good, and not a whiff has been heard about any attempt to lose weight. And where's the need for that, when he has been capturing audiences and scaling the box office with one hit after another.

James is so likeable that while he may not fit the slim mould of the more typical romantic lead, few would harbour any doubt that a hottie like Rosario Dawson, his co-star in his latest romcom Zookeeper, would fall for him.

Hong Kong actor Sammo Hung has his place in film history assured for his contributions as one of the pioneers of the modern brand of martial arts movies featuring realistic and long one-on-one fight scenes in his roles as action choreographer and director.

But what is more remarkable is his convincing portrayal of an overweight martial arts hero on screen, not least because he is a martial arts exponent in real life. Hung is surely the poster boy for overweight men all over for showing them that being hefty is no barrier to being an agile fighter.

At 59, he is still very active in the industry. One of his latest projects was last year's Ip Man 2, in which he served as the action director and played a formidable martial arts master who challenges the Wing Chun legend, Ip Man.

The presence of these celebrities help to redress the imbalance in a mindless cult of the thin that seems to have permeated modern television these days intoning "fat is bad and thin is good".

The Biggest Loser, a reality TV programme in which obese contestants seek to win a cash prize by losing the most weight, is into its eighth year in the United States where it started and from which has spawned a franchise spanning the globe from Australia to Asia, and from Ukraine to Brazil.

It's almost like being fat is a sin committed by people who have no control over themselves. While it is true that obesity can give rise to certain ailments, the current fad of achieving thinness at all costs is not quite about one's health, but one's looks.

Worse, the ideal look is all too thin, as evidenced by the overblown obsession with the slight weight gains of stars like Miley Cyrus, who recently blasted the media for suggesting that she was fat.

Moreover, not everybody can achieve weight loss as easily as some celebrities and the contestants on The Biggest Losers seem to do. An active, healthy lifestyle is surely the more reasonable target, rather than the not quite reasonable thin is good, thin is healthy mantra that has taken hold.

It is a sign of an unhealthy trend when someone like Mike & Molly star Melissa McCarthy, this year's Best Actress winner in the comedy category at the Emmys and a plus-sized actress whose work has been well-supported by fans, talks about wanting to be smaller and not having the time to worry about what the industry thinks she should weigh in the same breath.

The industry could do with more Jack Blacks and Kent Chengs, whose prominent stomachs have never been the centre of attention in their successful careers.

> In this column, writer Hau Boon Lai ponders the lives, loves and liberties of celebrities.

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MMU offering Hollywood-style film making course

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 02:45 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Movies with Holly­wood-style content – that's where the local film industry could be headed for.

This has been made possible with a collaboration between Multimedia University (MMU) and the University of Southern California (USC) to offer a Bachelor of Cinematic Arts course, said to be the first in Malaysia.

"Ours is different from other film-related courses available locally as we focus on a wide range of subjects involving activities in the film making industry," said MMU chairman Datuk Dr Halim Shafie.

He said the syllabus offered in the programme include cinematography, screen writing, directing, post production and television writing as well as script-to-screen approach.

Halim said the university decided to work with USC as it was recognised worldwide for its prestigious film programmes and studies that produced Hollywood personalities.

Among them are Ugly Betty's America Ferrera, Kelly Preston, who starred alongside Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire and movie legend John Wayne.

Halim said the programme would start at the university's Cyberjaya campus from June 2012 before moving to its new campus in Educity@Nusajaya near here upon completion in 2014.

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Yeoh eyes Bollywood

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 02:45 PM PST

NEW YORK: Ipoh-born actress Datuk Michelle Yeoh says she will be more than happy to do a Bollywood film.

"Yes, why not? I would be willing to do a Bollywood film if I get a good role," she said at the sidelines of a special screening of The Lady which is based on the life and struggle of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The special screening was held at a packed auditorium of the Asia Society in New York on Sunday.

Yeoh, who was in Goa last week to host the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India, said she had grown up in Malaysia watching Indian films and was impressed by the dance, colour and drama that were characteristic of a Bollywood film.

Asked if she still had a strong affinity to Malaysia, she responded spontaneously: "Yes, very much indeed.

"I have my Malaysian passport and my parents live in Malaysia which is my home country, even though I am based in Hong Kong for professional reasons."

Yeoh appeared on stage with the director of The Lady, Luc Besson, who revealed some of the intricate details of film-making as he talked about the challenges in making the film which was shot mostly in Thailand.

Besson said the large number of demonstrators and supporters of Suu Kyi were recruited from camps set up in Thailand for Myanmar refugees.

At the special advance screening of The Lady, to be commercially released in February, the large audience of mainly fans and supporters of Suu Kyi saw a film that seemed to touch a sensitive chord within them.

Yeoh starred in Hollywood hits like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and the Memoirs of a Geisha, but she said that there was something special about The Lady.

"Playing Aung San Suu Kyi was a journey in itself.

"She represents many things for many people and for many reasons.

"For the role I tried to step into her life," she said. — Bernama.

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Don’t use oil more than once, warns poison centre

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 03:33 PM PST

Tuesday December 13, 2011

PETALING JAYA: Repeatedly used cooking oil can cause hypertension, affect the liver and may in the long run lead to cancer, the National Poison Centre has warned.

Centre consultant Dr T. Jayabalan said cooking oil should not be used even twice.

"When used repeatedly, the concentration of hydrocarbons in the oil increases and these can clog and stiffen arteries, causing hypertension and also affect the liver," he said in a phone interview.

"Many people do not discard the oil after using it once. They put it in a container to be used again before they finally dispose of it," Dr Jayabalan said.

"No level of contamination should be allowed. There is no basis for a permissible level of recyling for oil meant for human consumption."

*Full story in The Star today

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Too costly to turn cooking oil into biodiesel, says middleman

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 03:33 PM PST

Tuesday December 13, 2011

PETALING JAYA: Most of the used cooking oil collected from kitchens are no longer recycled for biodiesel because of the high cost involved, according to a middleman.

The middleman, who only wanted to be known as Lee, said the oil he collected from hotels and restaurants here was used in animal feed.

"It is too expensive to recycle oil into biodiesel.

"It does not make economic sense," he said, adding that he usually collected the used oil upon receiving orders from his "clients" via phone calls.

When asked if he knew of people who recycle the used oil for human consumption, he declined to comment.

"I do not do it, but others may be doing it," he said.

*Full story in The Star today

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Set standards for testing of cooking oil quality, govt urged

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 03:32 PM PST

Tuesday December 13, 2011

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry must set standards for the testing of cooking oil sold in the market.

"At the moment, we do not have a standard testing method for total polar compounds (TPC)," said Malaysian Association of Standards Users CEO Ratna Devi Nadarajan.

She said it was important to include a requirement for TPC in the country's regulations as it was an important indicator of the oil quality.

She said there were not many countries around the world that had national regulations controlling the level of polar compounds in frying oils.

"Even if we do not buy the cheap oil, we still consume it when we eat out at restaurants and hotels," she said.

Ratna Devi added that many Malaysians preferred to buy the packet oils because it was cheaper than the others sold in the market.

*Full story in The Star today

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MRT Corp takes stringent measures for the upcoming project

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 03:47 AM PST

A LOT of planning is being done and minute details taken care of before the tunnelling work for the Klang Valley MY Rapid Transit (MRT) project can start, said Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) project director Marcus Karakashian.

"When we were planning the stations and route of the MRT, we were planning for the future.

"We identified where the busy hubs would be when the project is completed and aim to provide people with a quicker way of getting there," Karakashian said.

There are seven underground stations namely KL Sentral Pasar Seni, Merdeka, Bukit Bintang Central, Pasar Rakyat, Cochrane and Maluri.

He said there was little point if the MRT went to places people did not want to go or had to travel an indirect route.

There are also various challenges to be addressed during the tunnelling work including ensuring enough space for the train to manoeuvre.

"If you put a ruler through a curving tube, it will get stuck. It is a similar situation with the train. Steering it is not easy and we have to take that into account when planning the alignment," he said.

Karakashian also said too many turns and curves would affect passenger comfort.

"We also have to consider the physical obstructions such as buildings or pillar foundations. For example, we would have love to have the MRT station at KL Sentral itself but due to the many developments taking place there, the next best location would be near the National Museum," he said.

He added that 4.5km of the underground tunnels would be built through caustic limestone that was sometimes filled with water or mud.

"For safety reasons as well as for the machines to bore a tunnel properly, we have to ensure any cavity along the alignment is filled with concrete.

"This is part of the ground treatment we have to carry out before tunnelling which can take between nine months and a year to complete," Karakashian said.

The area that will require such work is located along the alignment between the Maluri and Bukit Bintang Central stations, particularly in the Jalan Inai area.

"There will be between eight and 10 boring machines and each can bore eight metres in a day. The actual tunnelling will start in 2013 and be completed by end of 2014," he said, adding that much was learnt from the construction of the Smart tunnel.

Karakashian said they were in favour of leaving the buildings as they were during the tunnelling process.

"I see no reason to demolish a building if it is in good condition. If we have cause to worry that a structure is weak, we may need to do some strengthening or put up steel frames until the tunnelling is complete. Demolition is considered as a last resort," he said.

He said the buildings would be surveyed and where necessary markers placed on the walls and instruments in the ground to monitor any movement.

"Whatever we bring down or damage, we will rebuild if that is what the owner wants. We are still negotiating the details of the mutual agreement with the owners now," he said.

Along Jalan Sultan, the iconic Klang Bus Station, Plaza Warisan and UO Superstore will be demolished while 23 other lots will be affected.

As for Jalan Bukit Bintang, 21 lots are affected by the construction of the station between the McDonalds and KFC outlets.

The MRT, also known as the Sungai Buloh-Kajang line spans 51km with 31 stations and is expected to be completed in 2016 and begin operating in January 2017.

MRT Corp took over from Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd as the project and asset owner of the multi-billion ringgit project with effect from Sept 1 this year.

MMC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd is the project delivery partner responsible for managing the project and its cost.

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Metro watch

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 03:40 AM PST


Les Copaque Production Sdn Bhd & CTRA Production will hold an audition in search of cast for Upin & Ipin: The Musical tomorrow at 10am at Petalawati Studio, Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan (Aswara), Jalan Tun Ismail, KL. They are looking for individuals aged bet-ween nine and 25 who are healthy and agile, great in acting, dancing and singing as well as committed to attend rehearsal starting December till the end of performance in May. For details, call 017-200 4249 or 03-6186 6592 or visit


Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman is conducting a course on The Buzan Techniques: Mind Mapping and Creativity on Wednesday and Thursday at its Centre for Extension Education PJ campus. It aims to unleash the potential of the brain by applying the techniques to generate, visualise, structure and classify ideas, thus improving the learning, organising, problem-solving and decision- making processes. For details call Jennifer/Sia at 016-223 3563.


Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) division of programme promotion are inviting students and parents to the Open Day on Saturday and Sunday from 9.30am to 5.30pm at Utar Sungai Long campus, Cheras Kajang and Utar Perak campus, Kampar, Perak. Free shuttle bus service at certain points. Call 03-7958 2628 ext: 7153/8281/8553 or


Petaling Jaya Chempaka Buddhist Lodge will hold a talk entitled Nibbana: Only for a Mental Experience at the lodge tomorrow at 8.30pm where Dhammachai Tipitaka Project researcher Aruna K. Gamage would speak on the topic. Admission is free. Call 03-7880 3936 or email


Satu Hati Toastmasters Club will hold a workshop on Dec 15 from 7pm-9pm on Learn How To Conduct Speechcraft that imparts ideas and benefits of toastmasters skills at Level 4, Menara PGRM, Jalan Pudu Ulu, Cheras. For details, call Mandy at 013-304 6481 or e-mail


Malaysian Association of Learning and Development (MyLeaD) is organising the 4th Evaluation of Learning for Performance Impro-vement Conference on Thursday at UEM Learning Centre, Petaling Jaya. For details call the secretariat at 03-2166 8069 or Gerald at 016-602 3032.


The Mines will organise an exciting evening themed Joy to the World, filled with Christmas carolling, singing and freebies giveaway on Sunday at 7.30pm at Level 5, Splash Park. For details call customer service at 03-8949 6333.


Shelter Home for Children is having an annual sale of colourful desk calendars priced at RM10 each with the theme Children are a Precious Gift from God. For details call Edwin or Brian at 03-7955 0663.

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