Ahad, 18 Disember 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Files on Manning's computer linked to WikiLeaks site

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 07:34 PM PST

FORT MEADE, MD (Reuters) - Classified files downloaded to the computer of Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning matched those that later showed up on WikiLeaks, an investigator testified on Sunday, the first time the government has linked Manning to the whistleblowing website.

Bradley Manning (C) is escorted by military police to the courthouse for the third day of his Article 32 hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, December 18, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Special Agent David Shaver, a computer crimes investigator with the military, said an analysis of Manning's two classified computers revealed hundreds of sensitive files and file fragments that were accessed or downloaded through the military's secret computer network.

Manning's defense attorney, David Coombs, has largely ignored the question of whether his client is to blame for the leaks but has focused instead on why Manning continued to have access to classified material despite warning signs of emotional instability.

Coombs noted on Saturday that Manning "got furious and upset" during an outburst, flipped a table and sent a computer crashing to the ground. Manning had to be restrained over fears he was headed for a weapon.

Shaver's examination of Manning's computer also found thousands of State Department cables and two versions of an Apache gunsight video that showed an attack that killed several Iraqis, including two Reuters journalists.

One version of the video matched the film aired by WikiLeaks in 2010 and the other appeared to be the source, he said.

Shaver, who faces cross-examination from the defense on Monday, said he compared the files on Manning's computer to documents he downloaded from WikiLeaks and found to be the same.

Manning is suspected of downloading thousands of government files from the military's classified computer network when he was stationed in Iraq, information that later showed up on the WikiLeaks website in the largest unauthorized release of classified documents in U.S. history.

Shaver's testimony came on the third day of a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to try the 24-year-old Manning at a general court martial on charges of aiding the enemy and 22 other counts. If convicted of the most serious charges, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Shaver said Manning's computer profile had been used to carry out more than 100 searches of the military's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, known as SIPRNet, for documents naming WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange.

Shaver also recreated a path used on Manning's computer to download assessment documents written about detainees in the U.S. war against al Qaeda who were being held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


Among files that had been deleted from Manning's user profile were several complete Guantanamo detainee assessments, Shaver testified.

The prosecution has portrayed Manning as a well-trained analyst who was particularly knowledgeable about computers and who understood his responsibilities but violated them.

But the defense has sought to portray him emotionally unstable and unsuitable for his job as an intelligence analyst.

The defense showed Manning sent an email to Sergeant Paul Adkins, a superior in charge of security at his intelligence installation in Iraq, in April 2010 in which he said he suffered from a gender identity disorder that was affecting his life, work and ability to think, according to testimony Saturday.

The email included a photo of Manning as a woman. A superior officer said Adkins did not tell him about the email until after Manning's arrest. Manning, it was disclosed during the proceedings, created a female alter-ego online, Breanna Manning.

Captain Casey Fulton, an Army intelligence officer who worked in the same secure facility as Manning, testified that she saw Manning curled up on the floor with his arms around his knees as Adkins spoke to him.

Adkins invoked his right against self-incrimination on Sunday as he began answering questions in the case against Manning. Coombs argued Adkins should not be excused because he was not under investigation in the case, but the prosecution declined to grant him immunity to testify and he was excused.

The defense has portrayed Adkins as someone who should have recognized the private's troubled emotional state and acted to revoke the security clearance that gave him access to classified U.S. documents.

As it cross-examined prosecution witnesses on Sunday, the defense team continued to suggest Manning should not have had access to classified documents given his emotional state.

Fulton, who used Manning in her work preparing for the Iraqi election, rejected suggestions that supervision of lower-level analysts like Manning was lax.

"It's impossible to supervise 100 percent of the time," she said. "There's a limited amount of supervisors and you can't supervise everyone at every second of the day. (You) trust that they'll safeguard the material the way they've been taught."

(Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Vicki Allen and Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Philippines mulls mass graves after typhoon kills hundreds

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 07:20 PM PST

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (Reuters) - Disaster agencies Monday rushed to deliver body bags, food, water, and medicine to crowded evacuation centres in the southern Philippines as officials considered digging mass graves for hundreds killed in weekend flash floods.

An aerial view shows shanties damaged by flash floods brought by Typhoon Washi (Sendong) in Cagayan De Oro city, southern Philippines December 18, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

The national disaster agency said 533 died and 309 remain missing, while the local Red Cross put the toll at 652 killed and more than 800 missing.

Casualties from the flashfloods exceeded the more than 450 people killed in 2009 when a tropical storm dumped heavy rains on the main Luzon island, inundating nearly the entire capital Manila.

Typhoon Washi slammed ashore in the Mindanao region of the Philippines while residents slept at the weekend, sending torrents of water and mud through riverside villages and sweeping houses out to sea.

In the aftermath, radio stations and local governments have been deluged by calls and appeals from survivors asking for help to bury the dead or find missing relatives.

"My suggestion is, so that illnesses won't spread, let's have mass graves," Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency, said in a radio interview. "This will be the discretion of local governments and the DOH (Department of Health)."

"From the helicopter, we saw four major river systems, all houses along the riverbanks were totally destroyed."

Josephine Dalangin, a resident of Cagayan de Oro, said she and three other residents, including a boy, survived by clinging on a tree trunk for 11 to 12 hours while floating in the sea before they were rescued by a passing boat.

"I did not feel hunger, I did not feel any thirst," Dalangin told a local radio station. "I just prayed to the Lord that the rains, winds and waves would stop."

The cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, worst hit by the disaster, are running out of evacuations centres and coffins for the dead, with churches also converted into temporary evacuation.

Brigadier General Roland Amarille, head of an army task force in Iligan, said Sunday soldiers had been mobilized to recover bodies and build coffins.

"We need body bags and lime to deal with too many cadavers," Amarille said, fearing an outbreak of disease.

"Local mortuaries are no longer accepting cadavers and they are even asking people to bury the dead at once because there are too many bodies even in hallways."

Mindanao island, the southernmost in the Philippines, is a mineral-rich region that also produces rice and corn but is not normally in the path of an average 20 typhoons that hit the Southeast Asian country each year.

(Writing by Rosemarie Francisco)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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North Korea state TV says Kim Jong il has died

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 07:14 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died Saturday on a train trip, a tearful state television announcer, dressed in black, reported Monday.

The announcer said that the 69-year old had died of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il looks out from his car after meeting Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev at the "Sosnovyi Bor" military garrison in Siberia's Buryatia region August 24, 2011. REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

He had suffered a stroke in 2008, but appeared to have recovered.

The reclusive state had begun the process of transferring power to his son Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s.

(Created by David Chance; Editing by Jack Kim)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Beneath the surface

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 01:07 AM PST

History Channel's television programme Hidden Cities came to Kuching not so long ago, and made its presence felt.

IT'S not often that Hidden Cities host Anthony Morse has a relaxing day while filming an episode. Normally he'll be on the road with the production crew for two weeks at a time, getting called as early as six in the morning to start the day's work, shooting in various locations and doing two interviews a day with different experts.

So it was a pleasant surprise when his first day of shooting in Kuching for the series' Sarawak episode turned out to be less hectic than usual.

He headed out at about seven to film some shots at the Waterfront and Main Bazaar in the historic heart of the city. Then it was lunch, and after that another piece to camera (that's when a presenter speaks directly to the viewing audience through the camera) and behind-the-scenes shot at the Museum Gardens, followed by filming at Fort Margherita and some walking shots back at Main Bazaar and Carpenter Street. The day's shoot wrapped up before 6pm.

"This was definitely not a normal day because it was very relaxed. We didn't have any interviews, it was basically me doing the pieces to camera as well as general pick-up shots of the city.

"We also had a few walking shots, which are my favourite, as there's very little pressure in shooting them. Those are a way of having some kind of kinetic energy in the programme. Also we use those shots to show different scenes and then do voiceovers to establish the story and get a sense of the place," Morse says in an interview after the day's shoot.

Dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, Morse is energetic and enthusiastic as he talks about the shoot in Sarawak, which is being featured for the first time in the series.

"The episode kicks off with James Brooke and his arrival in Sarawak. I'll be exploring the existing conflict that was here among the various indigenous groups, and then when Brooke came to power, some of the resistance that developed to his rule, such as the Chinese miners' rebellion in Bau," he explains.

From Kuching, the crew moved on to Sri Aman, where Morse learnt about the culture and history of the Ibans, and to Mukah to discover the healing rituals of the Melanaus.

The two-week shoot in Sarawak in September was the final stint for Morse and the crew in filming the second season of Hidden Cities.

Morse revealed that they'd been on the road since April. "Before this we were in the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Sumatra and China."

Sarawak is one of eight episodes in Hidden Cities 2, which follows Morse's adventures in search of Asia's forgotten treasures. He enlists the assistance of local guides, historians, archaeologists and scientists to unearth places and stories such as the Jewish ghettoes of Shanghai, where the Jews worked when China opened a treaty port in 1842, the lost temple city of Muara Jambi in Sumatra and the British military's disused underground facilities in Singapore, abandoned after the Second World War.

Morse describes Hidden Cities as a metaphor for stories or events under the radar which the series tries to bring to the surface.

"We're doing our best to communicate the story and document it, so that it's there for the interpretation of viewers. It serves as a springboard where they can do further investigation of their own if they want to learn more about the event," he says.

Morse usually has some background knowledge before going to a location to shoot but largely relies on local experts for more information. He also walks around and interacts with the locals to familiarise himself with each new location.

"I'll ask the same kind of questions that viewers might have. We might be slightly more informed in the sense that we have some background knowledge, but we're also in the process of learning about the place.

"I would say that I'm just the common element in the series as the host. I'm the point of contact to the different people that we meet throughout each episode, who the viewers might be familiar with," Morse says.

He adds that viewers of Hidden Cities 2 could expect to be "amazed at the ordinary".

"There are some scenes and stories that are larger than life but there are others that are very down to earth, and there's something beautiful in that as well.

"I would hope that viewers would develop a deeper appreciation for their heritage, the community they're living in and the country that they call home. I'd also hope that they would be inspired to explore the worlds around them and have fun in the process. If that can happen then I'd feel like we've done our job."

Hidden Cities is produced by Singapore-based media company Beach House Pictures with the support of the Media Development Authority of Singapore. The programme is presented by Canon and Maybank, in association with Caltex.

Hidden Cities 2 premiered on the History Channel (Astro Channel 555) last month. Episodes air on Wednesday 9pm. The Sarawak episode is scheduled to be aired on Jan 11.

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Hidden talent

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 01:17 AM PST

ANTHONY Morse would not have ended up on television if he hadn't happened to see a commercial one night. "I was watching a programme on the History Channel and during the commercial break they had a blurb asking: 'Do you like to travel, do you like history and interacting with people? You could be the next host of a new series History Asia is producing.'

"I thought, oh my gosh I would love to do that. Something within me said, hey go for it and see what happens," he recalls.

Still, he nearly didn't apply as a three-minute audition reel was required.

"But I just had a sense in my gut to give this a shot, otherwise I might look back and think: 'If only...' I didn't want to have that, so I contacted a friend, met him at a local market in Chiangmai to film the clip and submitted it the following day."

The rest, as you might say, is history (pun intended!).

Morse was called up for auditions in Singapore and selected out of the 12 applicants who made it to the final round, even though he was the least experienced.

"History (Channel) felt there was something about me and wanted to give it a go. I'm grateful that it worked out and here I am two years later in the second season," he says.

Morse, 31, was born in southern California but grew up in Chiangmai, where his family moved to when he was three. He returned to the United States for university and graduate school, then taught English in Thailand and Myanmar for a while.

He also took on a string of jobs, ranging from whitewater rafting guide and newspaper photographer to making sushi with his aunt, before landing the Hidden Cities host job.

"It's certainly not the most conventional work path, but I've always been someone who wants to learn. I believe in learning by doing, so if there's something I'm really interested in I figure the best way to learn about it would be to just do it day in day out," he says.

He's certainly been learning a lot on his current job. In fact, he describes the first episode he filmed in Beijing for Season One as a steep learning curve.

"It was the first time I was doing something like this and it really was trial by fire. But the director for that episode (Donovan Chan) was really patient and great with instruction. He helped me through the process, and to understand how to communicate for television. It's a process that I'm still continually learning."

For Morse, the biggest challenge in hosting Hidden Cities is finding the right word to describe the experience that's being filmed.

"Sometimes it's hard to articulate what you experience in that moment, because when you're doing a television programme you're confined to a certain amount of time in front of the camera. Then later you may have an insight or analogy that would have been better but you can't go back and redo it, because that moment's passed!

"In Season One I kept thinking I should have said this or done that, but now I'm at the point where I just accept it because that's life."

Having gotten a taste of being a television host, Morse would like to continue in the same line, although he previously had no such aspirations at all.

Now that he's filmed two seasons of Hidden Cities, comprising 12 episodes in all, he appreciates the experience and opportunities he's been given.

"I've learnt a lot and I know a lot more now than in the first episode. There are a lot of opportunities in this industry and I definitely want to keep and eye and ear out for future projects," he says.

He would also like to go into acting, maybe take up a few acting classes or try out community theatre, as he feels that his experience as a host has helped him become familiar with the camera.

But whatever he turns to next, it has to be something he enjoys.

"I'm not going to do something just for the sake of earning a big pay cheque because my heart and soul wouldn't be in it. For me, it's important to do things you believe in and be passionate about it." – Sharon Ling

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Malaysia-Market factors to watch Mon Dec 19

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 04:21 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Following is a list of events in Malaysia as well as news stories and press reports which may influence financial markets.


> Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) to announce income distribution for ASB at Theatrette, Level 2, Menara PNB, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur at 2.00 pm (0600)

> Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Mukhriz Mahathir launches 3 i-Programme at Block 3A Plaza Sentral, Kuala Lumpur at 2.30 pm (0630)

> Tenaga Nasional Bhd Chief Operating Officer Azman Mohd attends the launching of Skim Latihan 1Malaysia-Industri Bekalan Elektrik at Auditorium Abu Zarim (inside UNITEN), TNB Integrated Learning Solutions Sdn Bhd at ILSAS Km 7, Jalan Kajang-Puchong, Bangi at 2.30pm (0630)


* Malaysia's benchmark stock exchange edged up 0.14 percent at 1,466.22 on Friday, led by gains in investment holding and management company YTL Corp Bhd and property invesment company PPB Group Bhd.

* A rally in U.S. stocks fizzled, leaving major indexes with modest gains on Friday, as Wall Street was torn between hope that U.S. economic data signals better times ahead and fear Europe's debt crisis will engulf world economies.

* World stocks rose on Friday after upbeat U.S. data and corporate results, while concerns over the European banking sector and nervousness about potential ratings downgrades in European sovereign debt underpinned German government bonds.

* Malaysian crude palm oil futures rose more than 1 percent on Friday, rebounding from the previous day's six-week lows on rising equity markets, traders said, although they expected further losses on euro zone debt worries.


>Malaysia's Boustead subsidiary wins 9 bln rgt ship job

>Bakrie & Bros eyes infrastructure growth

>Lion Air aims dominate Indonesia's domestic market

>Malaysia to award 5 marginal oilfield licences in 2012

>Malaysia's Maybank picks BII president director

>Vietnam 2012 rice output seen steady -Ag Min

>Malaysia's Felda Global to list in April-paper

>Tenaga in LNG talks with Total, Shell and Qatar traders

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Germany may pay full ESM contribution in 2012

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 04:12 PM PST

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the country may pay its full contribution to the euro zone's permanent rescue fund in 2012, a regional German paper wrote.

"It is clear that the sooner and the more paid-in capital the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) has, the more it gains trust on the financial markets," he was quoted as saying by the Rheinische Post Duesseldorf, in an interview to appear in Monday's print edition. "My priority is to create trust."

The Finance Ministry was unavailable to comment.

European leaders agreed in Brussels last week to accelerate the launch of the ESM by a year to mid-2012, as part of measures aimed at putting an end to a devastating debt crisis.

The ESM, which will replace the temporary EFSF bailout fund, will have an effective lending capacity of 500 billion euros ($651.9 billion) and total subscribed capital of 700 billion euros, of which 80 billion euros will be paid-in capital from euro zone countries.

EU leaders agreed earlier this year that the paid-in capital will be channeled into the fund over five years in five equal installments.

Germany's total contribution to the paid-in capital is set for 21.5 billion euros, paid in instalments of 4.3 billion euros. Earlier this year, it was reticent to pay up its contribution at a faster pace, due to concerns about sticking to its debt brake and consolidating its own budget.

Schaeuble was cited earlier this week by a newspaper as saying Germany would fund its contribution to the ESM with a supplementary budget.

A government source told Reuters earlier this week that Germany's first instalment could be much higher than previously planned "because people want the ESM to be able to act soon."

The statement of rating agency Fitch on Friday that a comprehensive solution to the euro zone crisis was beyond the region's reach has heightened pressure on leaders to get to grips with the turmoil.

The chairman of euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, said on Wednesday he would like all paid-in capital for the ESM to be contributed during its first year of operation, to ensure it had the firepower to deter speculation.

Schaeuble was also cited as saying the new fiscal compact for all European Union member states except Britain - which last week vetoed it - should be implemented by March 2012, and the new treaty for a stability union should be linked to the ESM treaty.

"It would make sense for the new pact to be linked with the new ESM treaty," he said. "That would mean that solidarity is inseparable from solidity."

"Markets want to see actions," he said.

The 'fiscal compact' is meant to allow closer scrutiny of countries' spending to stop a similar debt crisis recurring and potentially making it more palatable for the European Central Bank to step up its purchases of distressed euro zone debt to hold down borrowing costs.

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Trafigura earned record $1.1 bln in 2011

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 04:09 PM PST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Commodities trader Trafigura's profits soared nearly two-thirds to a record over $1 billion this year, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing a note to bondholders.

The secretive firm, one of the world's top three traders of metals and oil, reported net profits of $1.11 billion in the fiscal year through September, up from $690 million in 2010 and a previous record $837 million in 2009, the FT said.

While Trafigura's chief executive Claude Dauphin cited "prolonged volatility" as a key driver, the Swiss-based trader's performance is notable given tough times for many players such as Cargill and Goldman Sachs , both of which reported rough quarters during a tumultuous year.

The FT said Trafigura had declined to comment.

"We will look back to 2011 as a year in which we played a leadership role in decisively balancing global supply and demand for raw materials," Dauphin said in the note to bondholders, according to the FT. He noted that the war in Libya, the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt and Japan's tsunami had roiled markets.

But he sounded a cautious note on the outlook.

"As we look ahead to 2012 we know the recovery of European and U.S. economies will be, at best, slow in light of harsh fiscal austerity measures and bruised banking systems," Dauphin said in the note. He added that "the immediate future for emerging economies however is somewhat more dynamic".

The FT said Trafigura's oil trading volume rose 15 percent from the previous year to 2.3 million barrels per day, while base metals trading rose 26 percent to 11 million tons.

Its operating profit surged 141 percent to $1.25 billion and revenues jumped to $121.5 billion from $79.2 billion, the FT said.

Trafigura traces its roots back to a band of commodity traders who split from Marc Rich & Co in 1993, as the trading house morphed into Glencore , the biggest trader in the world. The FT said Dauphin owns less than 20 percent of Trafigura, with the rest controlled by 500 senior employees.

While it was initially renowned primarily for its trading prowess, like many of its rivals Trafigura has recently stepped up investment in critical infrastructure, including a growing string of oil depots and gasoline stations across Africa and the Caribbean and an aluminum and bauxite terminal in Louisiana

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Vettel sees off the challenges from chasing pack

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 04:19 PM PST

PARIS: Sebastian Vettel proved he was no one hit wonder in 2011, the German in the rampant Red Bull cruising to a runaway defence of his title well before the season rounded its final bend.

Vettel, who clinched the 2010 crown in a nail-biting finale in Abu Dhabi, rewrote Formula One history with an ease that evoked memories of Michael Schumacher in his pomp.

As one previous holder of the coveted championship, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, struggled with problems both on and off the circuit, Vettel could barely do no wrong from flagfall on the streets of Melbourne in March.

He led his rivals a merry dance on the Albert Park circuit, and continued to out manoeuvre the chasing pack for the remainder of the year.

The carpenter's son went on to win in Malaysia, Turkey, Spain, a debut success at Monaco, Valencia, Belgium, Italy and under the floodlights of Singapore.

That last success, his ninth of the season, left him one point shy of the title.

A fortnight later, on Oct 9, he comfortably crossed the line in Japan, finishing third to Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, to become, at just 24 years and 98 days, the youngest back-to-back world champion.

He was joining a select club of nine including Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna and Schumacher of drivers to successfully defend the title.

He also established a new world record for most pole positions in a season, his 15 (from 19 races) surpassing Nigel Mansell's previous mark set in 1992.

Vettel celebrated his title by belting out a karaoke version of the Sinatra hit 'My Way' in a local Irish bar, arguably the only false note he struck all year, a mid-season blip aside.

If Button and Co thought he might take his foot off the gas with the championship wrapped up they couldn't have been more mistaken, as Vettel went on to win in South Korea – handing Red Bull their second successive constructors' title – and the inaugural race in India.

For Hamilton, 2011 proved a largely frustrating season.

He produced a brace of brilliant drives to win in China and Abu Dhabi but those peaks were far outnumbered by the troughs.

The 2008 champion cut an unhappy figure for much of the campaign, the split with his manager, father Anthony, and fiancee, pop singer Nicole Scherzinger, appearing to weigh on his mind.

And he became embroiled in a distracting feud with Felipe Massa, the friends colliding six times in Keystone cop-style over the course of the season.

Hamilton's roller-coaster year was summed up when he was forced to retire with gearbox trouble in Sao Paulo.

The 26-year-old Englishman, who finished fifth in the standings, promised to emulate the example set by his team-mate, 2009 champion Button, for success in 2012

"He's got his dad there, who is there at every single race. He's got his management there; he's got his friends; he's got his girlfriend there all the time.

"He's in a really, really happy place ... he's got a great bubble around him which he's very happy with and, with that, he's able to just go out and perform without any worries on his mind.

"I did have that at one point, but I lost that bubble and I don't have that around me at the moment, but I'm working on having that for the future."

Button outperformed Hamilton to win in Canada, Hungary and Japan to take second in the title race on 270 points, albeit a yawning 122 points adrift of Vettel.

Vettel's team-mate, the popular Australian Mark Webber, pipped two time former champion Fernando Alonso for third on the strength of his sole win in the season-closer in Brazil.

The year got off to a shaky start with uncertainty over the Bahrain Grand Prix, which fell victim to the civil unrest in the Gulf kingdom.

Bahrain is back in 2012 as part of what promises to be a taxing 20-race campaign, with Austin's Circuit of the Americas in Texas making its debut as the penultimate leg.

Next year will see the number of world champions on the grid swelling to six with the return after his rallying timeout of 2007 titleholder Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn signing a two year deal with Lotus Renault. — AFP

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Hafizh is youngest rider to win a SuperSports 600cc race

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 04:22 PM PST

LOSAIL (Qatar): Teenager Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah pumped his fists in joy as he crossed the finish line to become the youngest winner of a SuperSports 600cc race in the Petronas Asia Road Racing Championships at the Losail International Circuit yesterday.

Japanese rider Katsuaki Fujiwara, who clinched the overall title at the previous stop in Zhuhai, China, in October, won Race 1 but it was Hafizh, 17, who stole the limelight by bagging Race 2 hours later.

Hafizh, second on the grid behind Fujiwara, overtook the Japanese at the start and never surrendered the lead on a cold and windy day.

A confident Hafizh ended the 15-lap race in 32:02.780 to claim a stunning win in only his second year of competing in the class.

Another Malaysian, Mohd Zamri Baba, finished second in 32:03.929 ahead of Fujiwara on 32:05.205.

Hafizh, the only Malaysian winner this season, was pleased that his fifth podium success turned out to be the sweetest.

"I'm so happy to score my first win. It was something I always dreamt of and to achieve it is awesome. Much thanks to the team, Petronas Syntium Moto Yamaha Raceline, the sponsors and everyone who supported me.

"I had a great outing today. I faced some difficulties in Race 1 because the gap between the frontrunners was very close and my rear suspension got soft towards the end. As a result, I lost my lead with three more laps to go.

"Race 2 was much better. I was able to lead again and this time stayed ahead until the finish despite the tyres sliding a lot midway," said Hafizh.

Fujiwara had to work hard for his Race 1 win, his eighth of the season. Still not fully recovered from the flu, Fujiwara found himself over-powered early on by Hafizh and Zamri.

The trio were engaged in a fierce battle with Hafizh leading the pack for most of the race but he was forced to slow down on lap 13 following issues with the rear suspension.

Fujiwara took control to cross the finish line in 32:01.257, just 0.002s ahead of Zamri while Hafizh was third in 2:07.119.

"It was really tough. I wasn't feeling well and this affected my concentration. I also didn't feel comfortable with the rear tyre in Race 1 while in Race 2 the tyre wore out fast because I wanted to set a lap record.

"By the seventh lap, it got really slippery and the cool asphalt just made things more difficult. Even so, I'm really happy because this is our maiden year in the championship and we won eight out of the 12 races," said Fujiwara, who topped the overall standings with 237.5 points.



Race 1: 1. Katsuaki Fujiwara (Jpn) Manual Tech Beet Kawasaki Racing 32:01.257, 2. Mohd Zamri Baba (Mas) Petronas Yamaha Malaysia 32:01.259, 3. Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah (Mas) Petronas Syntium Moto Yamaha Raceline 32:01.673, 4. Mohd Fadli Imannuddin (Ina) Manual Tech Beet Kawasaki Racing 32:23.286, 5. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Mas) Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia 32:23.310. Race 2: 1. Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah (Mas) Petronas Syntium Moto Yamaha Raceline 32:02.780, 2. Mohd Zamri Baba (Mas) Petronas Yamaha Malaysia 32:03.929, 3. Katsuaki Fujiwara (Jpn) Manual Tech Beet Kawasaki Racing 32:05.205, 4. Makoto Inagaki (Jpn) Moto Rev India 32:25.942, 5. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Mas) Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia 32:25.965. Standings: 1. Katsuaki Fujiwara (Jpn) Manual Tech Beet Kawasaki Racing 237.5, 2. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Mas) Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia 162, 3. Mohd Zamri Baba (Mas) Petronas Yamaha Malaysia 147, 4. Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah (Mas) Petronas Syntium Moto Yamaha Raceline 135.


Race 1: 1. Rafid Topan Sucipto (Ina) Yamaha CKJ TJM Racing 18:52.389, 2. Mohd Affendi Rosli (Mas) Harian Metro Y-Teq SCK Honda Racing 18:52.449, 3.. Ahmad Afif Amran (Mas) Yamaha KKJ TJM Racing 18:52.500, 4. Zaidy Mohd Zalfaizal (Mas) Yamaha YY Pang Racing 18:52.511, 5. Gupita Kresna (Ina) Kawasaki NHK Rextor Manual Tech 18:52.560. Race 2: 1. Rafid Topan Sucipto (Ina) Yamaha CKJ TJM Racing 18:43.254, 2. Ahmad Afif Amran (Mas) Yamaha KKJ TJM Racing 18:43.292, 3. Hadi Wijaya (Ina) Kawasaki NHK Rextor Manual Tech 18:43.435, 4. Mohd Affendi Rosli (Mas) Harian Metro Y-Teq SCK Honda Racing 18:43.890, 5. Zaidy Mohd Zalfaizal (Mas) Yamaha YY Pang Racing 18:43.910. Standings: 1. Rafid Topan (Ina) Yamaha CKJ TJM Racing 261, 2. Hadi Wijaya (Ina) Kawasaki NHK Rextor Manual Tech 186, 3. Mohd Affendi Rosli (Mas) Harian Metro Y-Teq SCK Honda Racing 107, 4. Zaidy Mohd Zalfaizal (Mas) Yamaha YY Pang Racing 97.

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Lin Dan crushes Chen Long to nail Masters Finals crown

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 04:16 PM PST

LIUZHOU: The king is not about to surrender his throne. That was the stark message China's Lin Dan delivered to his young compatriot Chen Long in the Super Series Masters Finals yesterday.

The four-time world champion crushed his 22-year-old heir apparent 21-12, 21-16 in just 45 minutes to nail his first Masters Finals title. That completed his Super Grand Slam collection, having won all the major titles badminton has to offer.

Chen Long has never beaten Lin Dan on court before, the only time the results going his way being when his illustrious teammate conceded walkovers on four occasions due to injury.

Yesterday, though, Lin Dan was in no mood to show any favours and completely dominated the final. The 28-year-old was, however, gracious in victory.

"It was relatively easy but that is understandable as Chen Long had a tough battle against Lee Chong Wei in the semi-finals. My body condition was much better than his," said Lin Dan.

"Chen Long is one of the many good singles players we have in the team. This is really good for team China."

When asked to sum up his year, Lin Dan said: "The most memorable was winning the World Championships. It's significant because I was able to turn around the match to beat Chong Wei. It was an incredible match and I think the fans will remember it for a long time."

On his preparations for the London Olympics and his main rival Chong Wei, he said: "China may have three - Chen Jin, Chen Long and I - for the Games and it will not be an advantage for Chong Wei. It will be tough anywhere with us three around."

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

The winners of Gift-A-Book Survey

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 02:38 AM PST

IN the spirit of giving, we're rewarding the five most interesting entries to our Gift-A-Book Survey with RM100 worth of book vouchers, courtesy of MPH Bookstores. Here are the winners, and excerpts of what they wrote:

Kok Ser Lin, 15, says she would give Diary Of A Wimpy Kid to her brother, and would like The House of Silk by Anthony Horrowitz as a gift. What made her entry a winner was that she described each book in adorable rhyming poetry!

Kosheni Kalimuthu, 24, would like to give Chicken Soup For The Soul: Think Positive – 101 Inspirational Stories About Counting Your Blessings And Having A Positive Attitude to her mother, who is often down after having gone through many challenges in life. "I hope she will get a new perspective on life, that it is not too bad after all."

Lean Ka-Min, 36, thinks you "can't go wrong with The Indispensable Calvin And Hobbes", because "now that cartoonist Bill Watterson has hung up his pen, this compilation reminds the reader just how the frolicsome twosome rocketed themselves – Spaceman Spiff-like – from the funny pages into our hearts. Wittier than Harry Potter, wiser than The Da Vinci Code, this book makes for a stupendous literary stocking-filler."

Nandita Ray, 51, says:
Grimm's Fairy Tales would be my choice
It's a fitting throwback to childhood joys
When fairies waved wands to banish tears
And happy endings erased fears.
In the adult world of "I Want More"
Make-belief stories let spirits soar.
The fox and the goose, giants and elves
This book should be on everyone's shelves.

The perfect gift for Chin Kuan Leong, 22, would be Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, because the children's story of a kite stuck in a tree reminds him of when the same thing that happened to him. "I tried to get it down. I threw stones. I flung rubber bands. I threw my shoes. I flung my dad's boomerang from Australia, for goodness sake! The only thing I did not fling was my neighbour's cat! So, it will be a joy and curious nostalgia to see whether this kid has any luck."

Winners will receive their prizes in the post. If the address you provided is inaccurate, call 03-7867 1289 or e-mail star2@thestar.com.my and give us the correct one.

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Books vs the flu

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 12:26 AM PST

The flu almost won but a helping of calming prose won the day in the end.

I HAVE been terribly sick this week. The brooding discomfort sprang up last Sunday like a merciless demon, attacking my bones and flooding my nasal passages. It was overdue, the flu; full-blown and nasty, it snorted at my overworked body. I know, and I am sorry.

Reading four books, colossal in girth and substance, in a month had indeed taken a toll on me. With my eyes turning blurry and my brain slowly dying, I read two books at the same time and in the midst of which, I had to manoeuvre around office politics and wrack my brain for highly improbable solutions, suggestions and resolutions. Work stopped the minute I sped out of the office, yet the headache remained. At home a family awaited, as did the two books, squinting their eyes invisible at those disinclined to reading. We have to be read, the rigid and thick one about oil whispered in tones so low it seemed to mimic the secrecy of the dusk into which our home sunk. I know.

Thereafter, a fury of household chores followed, and it was not until 11pm did I get to lie down in my daughter's bed. Hers is a healing bed for the sick; it is also a reading bed, for its softness hugs aching joints comfortably, and her stuffed animals huddle and cuddle around to provide the necessary warmth in this unusually cold summer Down Under. The rain pattered on the window, the chill it brought stiffened my hands, making it hard to hold the book while lying down. I sat up. I had a race to run to the oil field laid bare by Daniel Yergin in his latest offering, The Quest.

As interesting as the book might be, oil was not the best subject to "smell" while suffering from a whirling head and the accusing eyes of stuffed animals that had expected to, as usual, become the book's protagonists in my imagination.... Thanks to Yergin's exquisite prose and clarity, the subject came so vividly alive that I really could almost smell the oil, and the book became so slippery that it fell out of hands reluctant to hold it in the first place.

Yet, my mind needed few pages of calming fodder. A remnant of awe aroused by a brief flirtation with Anita Desai's superiority in her latest book, The Artist Of Disappearance, beckoned like a lighthouse beacon glimpsed by a battered vessel losing direction. Rummaging through the library bag, I found it. And lying back down, I began to read, my mind already racing, dragging along the pounding head, soothing it and attempting to stop that ache.

Desai is the mother of 2006 Booker Prize winner (for The Inheritance Of Loss) Kiran Desai. While reading The Artist, I could almost see Kiran standing behind her mother's powerful prose, watching this fan's awe over her sensuousness. The stuffed animals wouldn't mind the barren plain of the first story in which there reside no animals only mosquitoes and centuries-old aristocracies. They, as I, were taken in by Desai's powerful voice in narrating the tale of a very junior officer posted to a crumbling outback. "The high-pitched whining of mosquitoes sounded around me and I slapped angrily at their invisible presence." The stuffed animals bellowed, yet felt grateful to be in the comfort of a cool and silent room unadorned by a mosquito net.

The sentences healed me enough to send me into a deep healing slumber. And as soon as I awoke the next morning, I devoured the novella, staying in bed. The rain made the midmorning look and feel like dusk. With not a ray of sunlight in sight, we dozed off, all four of us sick under one drenched roof, lulled by the sound of heavy rain and the whispering of books, which began to build up throughout the day – on the tables, in the bathroom, in beds in particular, besides beds, and, when day became the dimmest, underneath them for the children must have kicked them there. My son could not decide which book to read; my daughter built bridges underpinned by her books, waiting for them to tumble and mummy to read to her. My husband fixated on a cookbook, contemplating what we could possibly want to eat for dinner.

Healed by Desai's calming prose, I was soon deep inside the oil book again, in silence but not in solitude. With my head much lighter and nasal passages cleared, I sprinted to the end – page 816. The flu warned of a return with a vengeance. I nodded and went back into the sick bed, feeling colder. An overworked body is a virus-prone body, and the flu sniggered at me foolishness. I know, and I am sorry.

"Whyever did I imagine I was different, and could live differently from them?" Desai resounded. I am no different from anyone for I cannot domesticate books and tame their temptation. A book as colossal as The Quest can also be as alluring as The Art Of Disappearance.

Abby Wong has recovered from her flu but is short of a book to read. Send book suggestions and flu remedies to star2@thestar.com.my.

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Posted: 18 Dec 2011 12:22 AM PST

FOR the week ending Dec 11, 2011:


1. Steve Jobs: A Biography by Walter Isaacson

2. A Doctor In The House: The Memoirs Of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

3. My Lifelong Challenge: Singapore's Bilingual Journey by Lee Kuan Yew

4. Body Language At Work: Read The Signs And Make The Right Moves by Peter Clayton

5. Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going by Han Fook Kwang, et al

6. The Secret Letters Of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

7. Chicken Soup For The Soul: Find Your Happiness by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark

8. Guinness World Records 2012 by Guinness World Records Ltd

9. Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story Of His Trip To Heaven And Back by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent

10. No Excuses!: The Power Of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy


1. Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

2. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (movie tie-in) by Stieg Larsson

3. The Time Of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

4. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

5. In Pursuit Of Eliza Cynster (Three Heroes, Three Rescues, Three Weddings) by Stephanie Laurens

6. Altar Of Bones by Philip Carter

7. Conqueror by Conn Iggulden

8. The House Of Silk (A Sherlock Holmes novel) by Anthony Horowitz

9. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

10. Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Dominion by Eric Van Lustbader

Weekly list compiled by MPH Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur; www.mphonline.com.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Heartbroken girl attempts suicide in front of mother

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 03:15 PM PST

A 16-year-old student attempted to commit suicide in front of her mother and a teacher after her boyfriend wanted to break up with her, major Chinese dailies reported.

China Press reported that the girl tried to jump from the third floor window of a music centre in Puchong after her boyfriend told her of his decision over the phone at about 11.20am on Saturday.

However, the girl's mother and the teacher managed to pull her to safety.

The girl's father and boyfriend rushed to the scene after receiving the news and a police report was lodged. Police sent the girl to the Serdang Hospital.

According to the teacher, the girl, who worked part-time at the music centre, had the tendency of attempting suicide whenever she faced problems in her relationship.

"She hit her head with a glass bottle several weeks ago.

"She also tried to drink soap water and had hit her head against the wall before," the teacher said.

The girl's mother, a divorcee, said her daughter had tried to slit her wrist at home previously.

According to sources, the boyfriend wanted to break up because she was trying to control him.

> The daily reported that Cantopop singer Miriam Yeung was two months pregnant but her husband Real Ting declined to confirm it.

However, Ting promised to make an announcement if there was any good news.

According to Chinese belief, couples should only announce a pregnancy after three months to prevent miscarriage.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.

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Teen posts pix of friends on FB to earn money

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 03:15 PM PST

A TEENAGER who posted pictures of her beautiful friends on Facebook has been "sweet talking" some 30 men into giving her thousands of ringgit, reported Metro Ahad.

The 17-year-old, who only wanted to be known as Liana, has been running the scam for three years, earning between two and three thousand ringgit a month.

"Initially, I put up sexy photos on my account to attract friends and admirers. Suddenly, I found myself with thousands of acquaintances.

"I then took photos of my attractive friends and put these on my Facebook account. I'm embarrassed to put up pictures of myself because I'm fat," she said.

Liana would flirt with men who checked out her profile and asked them for money once they became interested in her.

"Once they have deposited the cash into my bank account, I would tell them that the money had not come through and they would transfer more," said the girl, who lives with her mother in Kuala Lumpur after her parents' divorce.

Liana, who said she did not regret her actions, targets up-and-coming artistes, siblings of celebrities, engineers and corporate executives.

She said she spent the money on shopping, karaoke sessions and overseas trips.

> The tabloid also highlighted a couple who graduated together during a convocation ceremony in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Chee Choon Hui, 32, and his wife, Josee Chua Sew Pein, 31, are graduates of a Masters programme in engineering science management, a twinning course between the local university and the University of Warwick in Britain.

"Initially, I was hesitant about pursuing my studies because I was worried that I could not handle the workload.

"But after discussing with my husband, we decided to do it together," said Chua.

Juggling between her duties as a wife, worker and student, Chua said it all boiled down to her willpower to succeed.

"Despite being around books 24 hours a day and sacrificing any semblance of a social life, I'm grateful that I did not have to delay my studies or repeat any exam," said Chua, who won the Best Scholar award.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.

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MIC to focus on education to boost community

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 03:15 PM PST

MIC will continue to emphasise on education to boost the community's well-being, reported Tamil Nesan.

Party Youth chief T. Mohan said that through education, the community would be able to improve their standard of living.

He said the party had been providing financial assistance to Indian students to pursue their higher studies through the Maju Institute of Educational Development.

"About 45,000 youths have been provided skills training in TAFE Institute while 800 others are pursuing medicine in AIMST University in Sungai Petani.

"MIED has been assisting hundreds pursuing various degree courses in universities in several countries," Mohan said, while adding that MIC had done a lot despite claims that the party had done nothing for the community.

> Makkal Osai reported that a Malay- sian who was returning home after visit-ing India died of heart attack at the Anna International Airport in Chennai on Fri-day.

Syed Abdul Jali complained of chest pains to his wife Syed Israni when they were about to board the plane.

She approached the airline staff who rushed a doctor to treat Abdul Jali but he had died.

> A group of women claimed that the Social Welfare Department had either stopped or reduced the monthly RM300 aid to them for the past three months, reported Malaysian Nanban.

They said no reason was given and they were facing difficulty paying the rental for their units.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Academy's animation branch disqualifies 'The Smurfs'

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 07:23 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Sorry, ''Smurfs.'' No Oscar for you this year.

When the Academy announced on Nov. 4 that 18 animated features had been submitted for consideration in the Best Animated Feature category, several of the films had not officially qualified for the award.

And while the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch eventually approved the three motion-capture movies under review (''The Adventures of Tintin,'' ''Mars Needs Moms'' and ''Happy Feet Two''), and okayed the live action/animation hybrid ''Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,'' it turned out that they did not approve ''The Smurfs.''

AMPAS rules governing hybrid films say that ''a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture's running time.''

The Academy has not made any announcement - but according to an official in the branch, ''The Smurfs'' did not meet the requirements and is the one film on the original list of 18 to be disqualified. c Still, the 17 films that did make the cut are more than enough to guarantee that the category can have a full slate of five nominees, rather than the four it would have if the field fell below 16.

So while the Smurfs are going down, at least they didn't take anybody with them.

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Jones works his magic on made-in-Malaysia Mantera

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 06:10 PM PST

IPOH: Film editor Sherwood Jones, known for his creative touch in flicks like Hellraiser III, Warlock: The Armageddon and A Kid in King Arthur's Court is now working on a local movie that will be released early next year.

Jones said the locally-produced film Mantera, an acronym for "Man Transformable Exo-Robotic Armor", would be released in two versions.

"There will be a local version and another for international screening," he told reporters after sharing his film editing expertise with students and industry players at the Perak Techno Trade Centre here.

Jones said he was currently working on the international version of Mantera.

"I need to look at the movie from a Northern American perspective," he said, adding that the film was tailored according to the international audience.

"There will be some difference between the local and the international version," he added.

Spacetoon Media Hub Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Sharifah Hendon Al Yahya said details of the film was currently kept under wraps and declined to reveal more.

"All we can say that it is a locally-animated science fiction film.

"We want it to be a surprise when it is released next year," she said, adding that production of the film started two years ago.

She said the film was supposed to be shown earlier but the production team experienced some technical delays.

"The local version is 99% completed and the international version will be completed in a month.

"The international version will be released after the local one," she said, adding that the film editing for the local version was done in Kuala Lumpur while the international version was done at its hub in Jelapang.

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