Ahad, 2 September 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Calls for Betty White to introduce Obama at convention

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 08:42 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Social media users are petitioning to have Betty White introduce President Barack Obama at next week's Democratic National Convention.

Supporters of the move say the Hot In Cleveland star will be a good representative of older Americans following Clint Eastwood's performance at last Thursday's Republican National Convention.

"Clint Eastwood, the Republican's 'mystery guest' at the RNC, gave a bad name to older Americans everywhere with his absurd and awkward-to-watch introduction of Governor Romney," the petition reads.

"Governor Romney can have Clint Eastwood and his improvisational skills because President Obama has the one and only Betty White!" it adds.

Eastwood's bizarre, rambling address at the RNC became fodder for late night comics after he debated with an empty chair that he pretended was a stand-in for the Democratic president.

So far, the White petition on social networking site Change.org has drawn nearly 600 supporters.

White has publicly endorsed the president's re-election bid. The prominent animal-rights supporter also told Larry King in an interview this summer, that she was taken with first puppy Bo during a visit to the White House this year.

This isn't the first time White has found herself at the center of a social media campaign. In 2010, online petitions to get the sitcom legend to host Saturday Night Live resulted in a well received stint on the popular late night program.

Raining cash

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 02:01 AM PDT

It's so simple, Sure Can Win.

IT is going to be a long month of cash giving at Red FM with the latest contest Sure Can Win starting from today till Sept 28.

Following up from Cars & Stars and National Treasures Merdeka Hunt, Sure Can Win is the latest in a series of contests designed by Red FM to keep giving listeners exciting ways to win awesome prizes.

Red FM's Sure Can Win is the easiest radio contest to date. With RM100,000 cash and prizes to be given out, it wasn't easy for the Red FM team to figure out how to reward listeners without making it too complicated.

So the team got together, hashed it out for hours, and the end product is Sure Can Win. The radio station has designed a no-brainer contest that will leave everyone wanting to join in the fun.

From Monday to Friday at random times throughout the day, Red FM listeners will have a chance to grab cash and prizes by simply being themselves. Red FM announcers will be giving out descriptions of everyday people, profiles including age, profession, gender and even zodiac signs. Should you match the description, call in to 03-7728 1049.

The first caller through has to answer a simple question about Red FM. Daily, there will be one bonus hour and that is when listeners get a chance to double or even triple their prize!

With Red FM's Sure Can Win, there is no need to run around the city to find anything, no need to spend money to win money, and there is simply no need to embarrass yourself.

Just match the description and win. That's all Red FM is asking of you.

Some would say Red FM has gone mad, making it so easy to win but Ben Foo, Star Radio Group marketing director, says: "We know that most Malaysians work very hard to earn their money but sometimes the bonuses or increments don't happen, especially in these times. So, we wanted the same hardworking Malaysians to know that they can win cash just by being themselves when they listen to Red FM."

Don't miss your Red FM treat.

For more information, log on to www.red.fm. Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page on facebook.com/redfm.my and follow them on Twitter @iloveredfm. Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

Red FM's Station Frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1FM; George Town and Seberang Prai: 107.6FM; Ipoh, Perak: 106.4FM; Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9FM; Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6FM; Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9FM; Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8FM.

All eyes on Asia in new travel series

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 02:55 AM PDT

Host Anita Kapoor goes on a quest to experience Asia's prosperity and growth in a new travel series.

MENTION Asia and most travellers would associate it with a myriad of cultures, ethnic groups, food and historic monuments. Besides its claim to fame as one of the most culturally diverse lands, Asia is now considered the fastest growing region in the world. Given its amply available labour and rapid industrialisation, it is no wonder why more foreign investors are betting their bottom dollar on the East.

"Asia has seen rapid growth. This continent is experiencing abundant lifestyle changes due to the new found prosperity in our backyard," says Anita Kapoor, host of TLC's (Astro Ch 707) new travel series Go Asia With Anita Kapoor, in an interview in Kuala Lumpur recently.

In the five-part series, the Singaporean host goes on a mission to experience the "new Asia" by diving into the innumerable lifestyles, which define the region. Supporting her in her quest are local "agent provocateurs", who provide their insider knowledge to enable Kapoor to discover hidden local pleasures not often experienced by regular tourists.

For Kapoor, Go Asia is best described as a lifestyle show that introduces different Asian cities in a refreshing light.

"Go Asia looks at the contemporary side of Asia. It zooms in on Asians who are involved in various activities that have helped changed the status quo of their cities. The crux of the show is to highlight traditional and contemporary aspects of what the region has to offer.

"Besides focusing on exotic angles, it gives a fresh perspective on Asians as modern and free spirited souls," says the friendly Mumbai-born Kapoor, who became a TV personality after winning Discovery Travel And Adventure channel's Search For A Host contest in 2003.

Kapoor's first stop takes her to Delhi, India, where she discovers how locals combine tradition with modernity through hottest fashion trends and hippest fine dining restaurants. She also visits a 14th century-built fort in historical town Neemrana in Rajasthan.

In the second episode, she returns to her birth place Mumbai to get a feel of its vibrant nightlife, style tips and bike ride around the city in the wee hours of the morning. There, she cuts a track in a recording studio as well.

Judging from our conversation, it appears that Kapoor tends to favour Delhi over Mumbai due to its charming people, culture, heritage and food.

"The British had conquered Delhi in the 17th century and left behind facades of their influences in colonial-style homes, monuments and the English language. While it may be a culture-rich city, Delhi is also known for its trendy young adults with a modern fashion sense," opines Kapoor who has fronted Bare Beauty, a Singaporean-made series on ancient Asian beauty secrets, and Exotic Escapades, a hotel in-house travel series.

In the third episode, she heads to Kuala Lumpur to experience the multi-cultural metropolis. Apart from setting her eyes on the nation's majestic Petronas Twin Towers, Kapoor also checks out the world's tallest statue of Hindu deity Lord Murugan in Batu Caves, Selangor. She then heads south to Malacca to experience the Peranakan culture and attends a punk rock showcase featuring homegrown band Moist.

Asked about her experience in Malaysia, Kapoor said: "Every country has its unique attraction, regardless if it is cultural or natural. Kuala Lumpur is on the cusp of something great. Besides historical monuments, there are many interesting aspects of the country which include a wide spread of food and people of diverse cultures."

After our capital city, she travels north to Bangkok to witness the rapidly evolving yet uniquely Thai culture, goes on a boat ride to explore mangroves and gets kicking at a Muay Thai class.

In her final leg, she travels to Manila where she encounters a city full of Spanish and Chinese-influenced performers, get a personal tour and history lesson from a Filipino actor, attends a Mad Hatter's (a character from fairy tale Alice In Wonderland) ball and learns how to prepare a Filipino-fusion organic meal.

Now that she has travelled far and wide over Asia, Kapoor can attest that South-East Asia is certainly a region that boasts a melting pot of cultures and thriving economy. With so much to explore, she can't wait to pack up her bags and continue her travels around other parts of the continent.

"In the past, Asians used to travel overseas to gain experiences in the West. Now, things have changed and and tourists are visiting Asia to learn more about our culture and traditions. I have met so many fascinating people during the show and hope to discover the hidden pleasures of Asia," she concluded.

Go Asia With Anita Kapoor premieres on TLC (Astro Ch 707) today at 9pm.

* Anita Kapoor shares tips to make travelling abroad easier and safer.

Travel tips

> Be aware of your whereabouts

If you are travelling alone, ensure nobody is aware that you are a solo traveller. Be polite but never too friendly as some people are unable to differentiate the distinction between politeness and friendliness.

> Communication

If you are travelling to a remote location, ensure you are able to communicate with friends and family.

> Self defence

Travellers should have a few basic self-defence tricks up their sleeves. Travel in strength, not weakness.

> Read up on the norms of a conservative country

If you plan to travel to a conservative country, find out some of the cultural norms and traditions. Respect their dress code and practices. If you don't feel comfortable travelling to such places, avoid visiting them.

> Try to blend in with the locals

Try to dress up and wear clothes that enable you to blend well with the locals. If you want to have an authentic experience, dress up modestly so that you are able to go under the radar instead of over and stand out in the crowd.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

KLCI above 1,650, Petronas stocks, KLK up

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 06:43 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips started the new month on a firm note on Monday, with the FBM KLCI crossing the important 1,650 level in early trade, lifted by gains in Petronas-related stocks and KL Kepong.

At 9.26am, the KLCI was up 5.16 points to 1,651.27. Turnover was 142.25 million shares valued at RM118.38mil. There were 177 gainers, 110 losers and 166 counters unchanged.

However, Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index headed for the lowest close in a month, as economic reports from New Zealand to South Korea, Japan and China stoked concern that the region's economy is slowing, Bloomberg reported.

At Bursa Malaysia, United Plantations rose 38 sen to RM26.90 with 100 shares done while KLK gained 22 sen to RM23.46.

Datasonic, which made its debut on the Main Board, was steady at RM2.30, up 30 sen with 6.79 million shares done.

APM rose 31 sen to RM4.97, Aeon Credit 20 sen to RM13.30 and F&N 18 sen to RM20.08. Petronas Gas and Petronas Dagangan added 10 sen each to RM19.48 and RM22.50.

Petrol One fell the most, down 10.5 sen to 41 sen, BAT eight sen lower at RM63.70, Favco six sen to RM1.65 while Maxis shed five sen to RM6.99.

Trading in BRDB suspended an hour after disposal aborted

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 06:42 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Trading in securities of Bandar Raya Developments Bhd was voluntarily suspended for an hour from 9am on Monday after it announced it would not go ahead to dispose of several properties.

It said on Monday it would not go ahead to undertake a tender exercise of its 100% stake in BR Property Holdings Sdn Bhd and selected investment properties comprising CapSquare Retail Centre and Permas Jusco Mall.

It said it would not be able to proceed with the proposed disposal after it received a notice of conditional takeover offer from Amabang Sehati Sdn Bhd.

"The proposed disposal is therefore deemed aborted," it said.

DRDB also announced the resignations with immediate effect of CIMB Investment Bank Bhd and Lee Hishammudin Allen & Gledhill as the company's advisers for the proposed disposal.

Last Thursday, BRDB said it had received a notice of conditional take-over offer from Ambang Sehati all the ordinary shares at a cash offer price of RM2.90 per offer share and all the outstanding warrants at a cash offer price of RM1.80 per offer warrant.

Datasonic opens 15% higher at RM2.30

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 06:16 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Datasonic Group Bhd opened at RM2.30, which was a premium of 15% or 30 sen above its offer price of RM2, when made its debut on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia on Monday.

There were 907,500 shares traded.

At 9.01am, it was trading at RM2.30. There were 1.99 million shares done.

The FBM KLCI was up 3.85 points ti 1,649.96. There were 34.61 million shares done valued at RM32.90mil. There were 96 gainers, 47 losers and 117 counters unchanged.

RHB Research had a fair value of RM2.13 for the shares.

Its listing exercise involved the public issue of 20.5 million new shares and offer for sale of 7.9 million shares.

Its core activities are ICT solutions including personalisation of smart cards (ID or chip-based cards), customisation of software and hardware solutions, project management, consultancy, R&D and technical consultancy services.

RHB Research said Datasonic plans to expand its market share and position by acquiring new projects and customers as it penetrates into new industries such as the healthcare and transportation sectors.

The company plans to set up a new headquarters as a regional personalisation solution (RPS) which would allow its card customisation card capacity to increase by 3,500 cards/day to 13,650 cards/day. Also, the company plans to establish a smart card manufacturing plant to produce 750,000 cards/month.

The research house said Datasonic plans to enhance and strengthen its technical competencies in the provision of ICT solutions.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Oosthuizen leads in Deutsche Bank event

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 04:58 PM PDT

NORTON: South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen fired an eight-under par 63 Sunday to seize a three-shot lead after three rounds of the US PGA Tour's Deutsche Bank Championship.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, birdied seven holes in a row starting at the par-four fourth, and followed up his lone bogey of the day at 17 with a birdie at the par-five 18th at the par-71 TPC Boston.

He had a 54-hole total of 19-under par 194. Oosthuizen surged past overnight leader Rory McIlroy, the world number one from Northern Ireland who carded a 67 for 197.

Tiger Woods carded a 68 for a share of third place on 13-under 200 alongside fellow American Dustin Johnson, who posted a 65.

Oosthuizen, who trailed McIlroy by one coming into the round, made it look easy. His string of seven birdies included four putts of 20 feet (six meters) or more, the seventh coming with a tap-in at the par-four 10th.

His seven-under 29 on the front nine was a tournament record, as was his 54-hole total.

"Louis put on a display right there," said McIlroy, who nevertheless wasn't conceding defeat.

"I've come from farther behind before... It's going to be an interesting day tomorrow."

The $8 million tournament, which is the second stop on the US tour's four-event playoff series, concludes on Monday, the US Labor Day holiday.

McIlroy, who claimed his second career major title at the PGA Championship in August, opened with back-to-back birdies.

Playing alongside him, Oosthuizen also birdied the second but didn't begin to pull away until the fourth.

He drained a seven-footer to launch his run and after 20-footers at five and six made a short birdie putt at seven after a good shot out of the rough right of the green.

He drained a 40-foot bomb at the eighth and a 23-footer at the ninth. "Every putt had perfect speed," he said. "I told Rory, 'Sorry, but you've got to take it when you can.'"

With the putts dropping, Oosthuizen could afford to be aggressive. "I went at most of the pins," Oosthuizen said. "Once I started getting birdies, making putts, I started going at the pins because my swing felt great, and after 10 holes being 8-under, you always think about getting it to 59. I didn't do anything different from there on in."

McIlroy finished with six birdies and two bogeys, two of his birdies coming in the last three holes to keep Oosthuizen from getting even further away.

Woods had a relatively quiet day, but did enough to keep himself in the hunt.

He said that Oosthuizen's round, and the 63 of Keegan Bradley, showed what would be needed.

"I'm going to have to put together one of those rounds," Woods said.

"It won't surprise me if somebody shoots 8- or 9-under par tomorrow because of where the pin locations are. Somebody is going to go out there and do it. It may be early, it may be late, who knows? But hopefully, I'm one of those guys." - AFP

Stosur ousts Robson to reach Open's last eight

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 04:58 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Defending champion Samantha Stosur squandered eight match points but finally subdued stubborn British teen prodigy Laura Robson 6-4, 6-4 in 98 minutes on Sunday to reach the US Open quarter-finals.

The Australian seventh seed advanced to a last-eight meeting with either World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus or Georgia's Anna Tatishvili, who were set to meet in a later night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Robson broke Stosur in the third game of the match but the Aussie broke back in the next game and seized command, breaking again to take the first set and jumping ahead 5-2 in the second before struggling to close out the triumph.

Robson held and broke and threatened to hold again to level the match before Stosur struck, firing a forehand winner that Robson sent wide to end the fight.

"She had some good points. She made some great shots," Stosur said. "I'm playing really well. I'm glad to get another match. I'm happy to be into the quarters again."

Stosur has lost all six career meetings with top seed Azarenka, never taking a set off the reigning Australian Open champion. Azarenka's most recent victory over Stosur came in last February's Doha final.

Russian third seed Maria Sharapova, the 2006 winner, faced 19th-seeded compatriot Nadia Petrova for a quarter-final berth. The winner would meet either Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova or French 11th seed Marion Bartoli. - AFP

Hunter-Reay wins, whittles Power's Indy lead

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 04:59 PM PDT

BALTIMORE, Maryland: Ryan Hunter-Reay kept his IndyCar title hopes alive Sunday with a victory in the Grand Prix of Baltimore, closing the gap on series leader Will Power with one race remaining.

Hunter-Reay's victory, coupled with a sixth-place finish for Power, saw him move within 17 points of the Australian.

The IndyCar season concludes on September 15 at Fontana, California.

The 75-lap race on the 2.04-mile (3.28-kilometer), 13-turn temporary street course in downtown Baltimore featured nine cautions.

Australian Ryan Briscoe, who won last weekend in Sonoma, California, was leading during the eighth caution. But when racing resumed on lap 70, Hunter-Reay surged past him into the lead.

Briscoe's team argued that Hunter-Reay advanced his position before the green flag waved to signal the end of the caution period, when overtaking is allowed.

But Hunter-Reay escaped a penalty. A last caution resulted from a multi-car crash involving Mike Conway, Justin Wilson, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal.

After the last restart, Hunter-Reay pulled away from the field over the final two laps.

Power was running fifth but bumped Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and lost a spot.

Hunter-Reay crossed the finish line 1.4 seconds ahead of Briscoe for his series-leading fourth victory of the season.

He came to Baltimore 36 points behind Power, but is now just 17 adrift.

"We still have a shot," Hunter-Reay said. "We all want it bad enough, we can go get this thing. The team deserves it. It's a matter of if we can put it together."

Going into the season finale, Power tops the standings with 453 points to Hunter-Reay's 436.

"It never comes easy," said Power, who got the three bonus points for earning the pole and leading the most laps (22). "We just have to do our best and fight like a dog till the end. We'll come out swinging."

French rookie Simon Pagenaud finished third, while New Zealand's Scott Dixon and Barrichello rounded out the top five. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf


Posted: 02 Sep 2012 12:52 AM PDT

FOR the week ending Aug 26, 2012:


1. The Magic by Rhonda Byrne

2. The 5 Love Languages Of Children by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell

3. Confessions Of A Male Nurse by Michael Alexander

4. 100 Wonders Of The World by Parragon Book Service Ltd

5. Chicken Soup For The Soul: Boost Your Brain Power by Marie Pasinski & Liz Neporent

6. Your Words Hold A Miracle: The Power Of Speaking God's Word by John Osteen

7. A World Without Islam by Graham E. Fuller

8. Stop Thinking & Start Living by Richard Carlson

9. Dealing With People You Can't Stand by Rick Brinkman & Rick Kirschner

10. Physics Of The Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny And Our Daily Lives By The Year 2100 by Michio Kaku


1. Fifty Shades Of Grey by E.L. James

2. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

3. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

4. The Time Of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

5. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

6. The Best Of Me by Nicholas Sparks

7. The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind

8. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

9. The Prisoner Of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

10. The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

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

In top form

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 12:51 AM PDT

This master plotter will keep you up at night, turning just one more page.

Author: Jeffery Deaver
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 385 pages

YOU walk out onstage and folks sing your songs"

"You make them all smile. What could go wrong?"

"But soon you discover the job takes its toll,"

"And everyone's wanting a piece of your soul."

Sinister? It should be. Particularly that last line. And then the song goes on, "I'm with you ... always with you. Your shadow." The point at which a fan tips over into being an obsessive stalker is rich territory, but country singer Kayleigh Towne in Jeffrey Deaver's latest novel is left in no doubt that the tipping point has been well and truly reached by Edwin Sharp.

Edwin believes that the song, Your Shadow, has been written especially for him. According to him, Kayleigh loves him and is waiting for him. Nobody else understands their love and devotion. He has e-mails to prove it. So it is only natural that he should follow her, research her every move, intrude on private occasions, and be there to protect her and take care of her – even if that does mean eliminating a small number of those who get in the way.

That, at least, is what at first appears to be happening in XO. But this being Deaver, nothing should be taken at face value. When the first deaths appear, everything points to Edwin. But that, surely, is too easy, too obvious. Is Edwin the killer or is he not? Deaver keeps us hanging on until the very end in a flurry of doubt.

The highly successful Kayleigh Towne is a friend of Kathryn Dance, the California Bureau of Investigation Agent who specialises in kinesics. Dance is in the area recording traditional music when Towne's techie is killed, apparently crushed under a lighting unit that has mysteriously moved several feet from where it should have been. At first, her offer of help is rejected by the local sheriff but then accepted when she pushes the investigation along ways that had been ignored. The sensitivities and independence of the local agents when confronted with the CBI are handled particularly well by Deaver, a nice example of rounding out all your characters and not just the chief protagonists.

This is the "third and a half" novel, according to Deaver, that has featured Kathryn Dance. Introduced cautiously in The Cold Moon to gauge reader reaction, she has become a firm favourite, her specialism in body language and behaviour patterns allowing her creator more freedom than the forensics speciality that is more common in Deaver's other books. As he has pointed out in interviews, Charles Manson is in prison for life for the murder of Sharon Tate but there was never any forensic evidence to link him to her murder. Kinesics offers another dimension and different possibilities.

It is, however, typical of Deaver's twists and turns that having given himself this freedom he then rejects it by making Edwin Sharp unreadable. His body language gives nothing away and even when Dance is allowed to interview him directly, she is baffled by the way in which he presents himself. Perhaps he is innocent after all and being set up, as he claims, by others. Cue the entry of paraplegic Lincoln Rhyme, another well-established Deaver character, to review the evidence from yet another perspective.

I am not of course going to give anything more of the plot away, except to assure you that it contains all the twists and turns that you would expect from a Deaver novel. For every three developments a reader might anticipate, Deaver always sets up a fourth. It is an invitation to pit your wits against him but one pretty much guaranteed to fail.

It is well known that Deaver was an attorney and a journalist before becoming a writer of bestsellers but probably less well known that he was a singer/songwriter. An affection for country music is at the heart of this book and the lyrics of the songs Kayleigh Towne sings provide clues and direction to the action.

Written by Deaver, the lyrics are appended to the main body of the text but quoted throughout. In what may be a crime thriller first, they have also been set to music and recorded by a very accomplished country band. The resulting album is available as a paid download from jefferydeaverxomusic.com; The Shadow, with which I opened this review, is also available as a free download.

There is no denying that XO is a very good read. I would not call Deaver a sophisticated stylist but he is a sophisticated plotter and when it comes to writing page turners he has few equals. He long ago mastered the art of placing a hook at the end of every chapter to ensure yet more stolen moments from getting out of bed, going to work or doing household chores. So save XO for a wet weekend when you can give it your guilt free attention.

If you like crime thrillers, Deaver is on top form with XO.

No lost treasure

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 12:49 AM PDT

The Lost Years
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 292 pages

IN her acknowledgements, Mary Higgins Clark says she almost didn't write this book, but a little voice would not leave her alone until she did.

I kinda want to slap that little voice.

Not the worst of writers when she sticks to what she knows, with The Lost Years Higgins Clark bit off far more than what she can comfortably nibble.

Jonathan Lyons has been murdered at the ripe olde age of 70. His daughter Mariah discovers her mother smeared in his blood and holding the murder weapon standing over his body. Kathleen, in the late stages of Alzheimer's, knew Jonathan was unfaithful. She did not know he had recently ended the affair. Beyond the two women scorned, the list of suspects grows when it is learned that Jonathan supposedly found one of the most valuable documents of the modern world: the only letter still in existence written by Jesus Christ. Stolen from the Vatican library five centuries ago, if recovered this letter would be a game changer for the church.

It's a little late in the day for an author to be hopping onto The Da Vinci Code Express but even if it long left the station, Higgins Clark still takes a flying run at her own Vatican conspiracy novel. Unfortunately, this results in a splat that leaves quite a mess on the tracks. Where Code's Dan Brown would have done something quite phenomenal with the idea of a letter written by Christ, Higgins Clark treats it as the most mundane motive for murder.

There is no real hint at its global importance. The interest of church and collectors is vague, the history and mythology is non-existent. The only ones affected or interested appear to be Jonathan's nearest and dearest. It might has well have been naughty pictures of an unfaithful spouse, an updated will, damning corporate correspondence, or any other item from the banal archive of things people kill or get killed over.

Though vague about anything to do with history or religion, Higgins Clark seems almost obsessive-compulsive about clothes, refreshments and timing: "At seven o'clock, (Mariah) changed into a long blue skirt and white silk blouse, touched up her makeup, brushed her hair loose, walked across the lawn to the Scott's home, and rang the bell. Lisa answered the door. As usual she looked glamourous in a designer multicoloured shirt and slacks, with a silver belt that hugged her hips and silver slippers with five-inch heels."

The next paragraph assures us that Lisa is not only a glamorous but a good host as we see by the cheese, crackers and wine already on the table.

This paragraph takes place at the peak of a crisis but a reader is forgiven for forgetting that a father has been murdered, a senile and terrified old woman has been arrested, a killer is on the loose, and one of the world's major religions is about to be turned on its ear. If the characters can pause for wine and cheese, so can we.

Nothing, but nothing spurs anyone to action. When one character realises that someone she loves may have been kidnapped or even killed, she is so upset that she leaves her "half-eaten Danish on her plate". Luckily, again Higgins Clark slows down the pace enough to assure her readers that even though the character's heart is "pounding with anxiety", she still "dressed in her lightweight running suit, swallowed her vitamins and hastily put on some light makeup". It is the word "hastily" that gets me. As if the tipping point from concerned to callous rests on how long one takes to apply one's makeup.

Dialogue between characters is utterly staged and entirely for the reader's benefit. In one of the more bizarre conversations, a father and son who enjoy a close relationship remind each other of their ages and shared family history: "I've been thinking a lot about the trust fund my grandfather set up for me when I was born. Since four years ago, when I turned 30, I've been free to use the money whatever way I want."

"That's right, Richard (says Richard's dad). It's too bad you never got to know your grandfather. You were just a baby when he died. He was one of those guys who started out with nothing but had an instinct for the market...."

Weirder still are what seems to be dialogue but is not: "In the hospital, I sat beside her bed all night. She was moaning and crying. I had blood all over my blouse from where I leaned over Dad and put my arms around him. The nurse was good enough to give me one of those cotton jackets the patients wear."

This is far more believable as conversation, something Mariah could be saying to a good friend or the police. Except that in instances like these, there is no dialogue because the character is talking to herself. For some odd reason, they invariably do this in first person, narrating rather than pondering.

While reading The Lost Years, the image of Dame Sally Markham, a character from the hilarious TV show Little Britain, came to mind. The dame lounges on a loveseat and strokes her little white dog as she dictates her next romance novel, filling pages with any fluff she can muster just to get the required number of pages to the publishers.

Higgins Clark must have written better books that this one to become as famous as she is. Unfortunately, with this latest book she has this reader down.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Participants attend Hijau rally (Update)

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 06:50 AM PDT

RAUB: Organisers and participants of the Himpunan Hijau broke through police barriers and marched to the Raub Australian Gold Mine Sdn Bhd premises 3.5km away in Bukit Koman to deliver a memorandum on Sunday.

The group, having marched for about 1km, was stopped from continuing when Raub OCPD Supt Wan Mohd Samsudin Wan Osman intervened.

Supt Wan Mohd Samsudin reminded the participants that one of the 16 conditions imposed on the organisers was that they should not march.

He later arranged for a representative of the company to receive the memorandum at a junction of the road leading to Bukit Koman.

After negotiations with the police, the organisers ordered the group to disperse at about 4.35pm.

The crowd, including representatives from environmental NGOs, carried placards and banners assembled at the field.

Opposition members present included PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and DAP leaders Tan Kok Wai, Dr Tan Seng Giaw, Ronnie Liu, Ng Suee Lin and Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh.

Representatives of groups from Bukit Merah, Pengerang, Rawang, Cameron Highlands and the orang asli community gave speeches urging the people to fight for their rights, welfare and future of the next generations.

Many were clapping and chanting slogans and blowing air horns.

Police were stationed at strategic locations to assist in traffic flow but no roads were closed.

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Kedah Umno supports deputy mentri besar post

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 04:41 AM PDT

ALOR SETAR: Kedah Umno will support any move to amend the state constitution in order to create the post of deputy mentri besar, said its chairman Datuk Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah.

He said he viewed the move positively in assisting Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, who has to be on frequent medical leave due to his poor health.

"Kedah Umno will support if the state government wants to create the post in the interest of the people," he told reporters after opening the Alor Star Umno division delegates' meeting.

A total of 510 delegates from 98 branches in the division attended the meeting.

It is understood that Azizan will hold a state executive council (exco) meeting this Wednesday at a private hospital where he is undergoing treatment since Aug 14. The last exco meeting he chaired was on Aug 5. - Bernama

Nik Aziz: Shameful act to step on pictures of national leaders

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 04:40 AM PDT

KOTA BARU: PAS spiritual leader and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has described the action of a few people who stepped on the pictures of the nation's leaders on the eve of the Independence Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur as a very shameful and saddening act.

He said the act did not reflect the culture of Malays and Muslims.

"This is not the work of Malays and Muslims. They are neither Malays nor Muslims.

"This is very shameful and saddening, the photograph that I saw was not of a Malay (the perpetrators of the act).

"We Muslims are taught not to disturb others. If others do it to us, we will get angry," he told reporters when attending an Aidilfitri gathering on Sunday.

He was commenting on the rude actions of a number of participants of the "Janji Bersih" illegal assembly held in Dataran Merdeka in the Federal Capital on the eve of Independence Day Aug 30.

They had stepped on the pictures of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor at the protest gathering.

Nik Aziz also did not agree with the action of the participants of changing the Malaysian flag with a new flag which was red and white, colours akin to the Singaporean flag.

"It not easy to replace (the national flag), have to discuss for years. What is our intention of changing the flag, our flag has already been accepted by the world, there is no need to smear to our flag," he said. - Bernama

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Drawing the young

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 01:14 AM PDT

Watching Penang's youth rediscover their hometown through his murals is compliment enough for a Lithuanian artist.

FORGET stuffy, CCTV-rigged art galleries where even standing too close to a painting will immediately send the security guards into a frenzy. Visit George Town's streets instead if you are in the mood for an artistic experience like no other.

The narrow criss-crossing lanes of Penang's Unesco World Heritage Site is arguably the hottest open-air gallery these days, especially among the Gen Y social networking site fans.

Log into Facebook and chances are, more than half of your friends have posted pictures of themselves with 25-year-old Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic's modern masterpieces, some measuring more than 15m high!

While excited tourists mostly flock to his two murals on Lebuh Ah Quee, the artist himself doesn't have a favourite.

"I created them all so it would be strange to prefer one or the other – it would be like having a favourite among your children," he says in an email interview.

His seven gigantic murals now adorn the pre-war heritage walls along Lebuh Ah Quee (a boy on a bike and another boy walking his pet dinosaur); Chew Jetty (a couple of children with their cat on a boat); Lebuh Muntri (Zacharevic's eight-year-old art student practising wushu as she hangs on a beam); Lebuh Canon (a boy standing on tiptoes on a chair); Lebuh Armenian (kids on a bicycle), and Upper Penang Road (a man sitting in a trishaw).

Zacharevic will be back in Geoge Town to work on what is likely to be his last wall mural in Carnarvon Street.

"I will start work at the end of September or beginning of October. Penang is quite small so I don't want to do too many murals because they will loose their appeal," he adds.

Once completed, the Murobond paint artworks imprinted on the heritage walls will be presented as part of a self-guided Art & Heritage Walk tour with their locations marked on a map featuring short stories, interesting facts on Penang and impressions of the people depicted in the murals.

Zacharevic seems genuinely surprised at the attention his work has garnered. "There is nothing special about me. I'm very simple. I like to eat, sleep and paint."

He finds his new-found "celebrity artist" status a little overwhelming.

"To be honest, it is nice that people like the murals. I get so many requests for pictures and autographs (but) I think the fact that young people are inspired to rediscover their hometown is the biggest compliment ever."

The artist credits George Town Festival director Joe Sidek for the unorthodox "canvas". The murals were created as part of the Mirrors George Town street art project for the recent George Town Festival 2012.

"Joe has a clear vision of what he wants for the festival. Without his support, this project would have never happened," Zacharevic says.

He spent some six months on the groundwork before he could start weaving his magic on the brick and mortar canvas.

"It was a very long process. First, we needed to get all the necessary permits. Then, it was choosing the walls, discussing the visuals and making sure everyone was in agreement.

"Next up was sorting out the logistics, scaffolding, etc, before I could even start painting."

It was loads of research, photo shoots, digital mock-ups, and of course, buckets of sweat under the scorching tropical sun, before the visuals – the most time-consuming process – were ready.

Zacharevic says the murals weren't too difficult to paint but the biggest challenges he faced were time limitation and the heat.

"I could not paint at night because you can't see the colours properly, so it had to be daytime. In Penang, it gets quite hot during the day."

Photographs of the murals and his artwork in the island have since been published in the Street Art Notebook.

"This is an extension of the mural project. It is like a DIY street art book in which people can draw their own murals," he says.

Zacharevic is holding a competition for the public to post their drawings, photographs, montages, or anything that is creative, on facebook.com/Ernestzachas, to win prizes. The most interesting works will be featured in an exhibition.

Besides the murals, he also joined five Malaysians in the RESCUBE exhibition (held at Beach Street, Penang, in July), which highlights the interdisciplinary marriage between visual arts and music.

The cube, now on display at the 23 Love Lane boutique hotel, is based on the structure and the concept of "one cube, six walls, one entity, six sides".

While growing up, Zacharevic had always wanted to paint – well, that and to juggle.

"I like juggling and have been doing Diabolo (an action role-playing video game) for almost 10 years now," he shares.

The Middlesex University (London) fine art graduate has studied art since he was little, attending the National Art Boarding School, where they teach sculpture, painting, design, even textiles and stained-glass.

His next big project will be in Selangor – an art installation for the Urbanscapes Festival in November.

"It should be a fun project and (Icelandic folk band) Sigur Ros is performing, so I am really looking forward to it.

"I also have a few requests to create a series of murals in Kuala Lumpur which are similar to what I've done for Penang. But that's next year, so we'll see how it goes. Most of KL's buildings do not have heritage status, so it will be very different, but still interactive and fun," he says.

Sharing his thoughts on George Town, where he is currently based, Zacharevic echoes what Penangites had been saying even before the 2008 George Town World Heritage listing – that is, the city is an amazing place to live, heat aside.

His "extended stay" was apparently unintended.

"I just came for few days and never left. Penang is an amazing place and I really like it here. My girlfriend likes it as well, so there's no reason not to extend a visit for few more months," he says.

Apparently, size does matter to him.

"I like the size of the place. It is not too big and there's a sense of community and things are accessible. Yet, it's also not too small and you can still buy the things you need, meet interesting people and eat food from around the globe."

Apart from his work in Penang, Zacharevic has also left his "mark" in Singapore's Little India district, and Shoreditch, London.

Glamour on Mumbai’s walls

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 01:12 AM PDT

Two film buffs pay tribute to the Hindi silver screen ahead of its centenary.

FRUSTRATED by the lack of old Bollywood glamour on the streets of Mumbai, two film buffs are trying to brighten up India's movie capital with mural tributes to mark the industry's 100th birthday next year.

The iconic image of a reclining, cigarette-smoking young Amitabh Bachchan, the biggest star of Hindi cinema, has been lovingly recreated on a roadside wall, replicating the dying style of hand-painted poster art. Bachchan's character Vijay joined the underworld of the city's mean streets in the 1975 hit Deewar (The Wall), but the film's antihero now has pride of place on a lane in the hip Bandra suburb, home to many film stars.

Despite the abundance of slick new posters plastered around Mumbai, artist Ranjit Dahiya says he was struck by how the city's rich film heritage was being forgotten in recent years.

"I couldn't see any Bollywood in Bombay, yet this is the city of Bollywood," adds Dahiya, using the city's old name. "So I thought I should paint the walls on the street."

The mural in Bandra was the second to be completed as part of the Bollywood Art Project (BAP), a self-funded venture set up by Dahiya and his friend Tony Peter to create film artwork "accessible for everyone".

The duo hope to finish about one painting a month in the run-up to next May, when India will celebrate a century since its first silent feature film, Raja Harishchandra, opened in Mumbai in 1913.

Getting permission is not always straightforward, with plans for a 21m dancing girl thwarted by unimpressed locals. "It depends on the people," said Dahiya. "Some people are sensible and really know about the art."

BAP began life last April with a mural of the 1953 classic Anarkali, one of the greatest hits of its decade, which told the tale of an ill-fated love affair between a beautiful court dancer and a Mughal prince.

"With Bollywood having run for 100 years, the films have run into the hundred thousands at least. We're skimming the surface," says Peter, who runs a film and design company.

Their murals also pay tribute to Bollywood's old poster painters, whose art Dahiya laments "is going to die" as digital media technology takes over. It is one of many aspects of the prolific film industry that some fans would like to see preserved in Mumbai, whose role at the heart of the movie world may have passed its glory days.

"There was a time when 'Bombay' and 'Bollywood' were synonymous," says a recent Hindustan Times article, wistfully recalling the days when more film premieres were held in Mumbai and star-struck fans thronged film studio gates.

"Since Bollywood has gone global and premieres have shifted to Dubai and Singapore, the city's studios lie forgotten."

Much of the studio action now happens in a Film City complex in north Mumbai, and film historian Amrit Gangar says that old heritage gems such as the once-famed Bombay Talkies studio have been left to crumble in recent decades.

Gangar laments India's attitude to its film heritage and history – from the studios to original film frames to hand-painted billboards – saying that it is crucial for future generations to have reference material from the past.

"At this point of time, not much has been left with us. But whatever we can salvage has to be preserved with a lot of care and respect and made public."

Next year's anniversary could provide a crucial impetus, with other projects springing up across the city in the countdown.

A recent exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art explored the relationship between Mumbai and the movies, while the first part of a museum dedicated to Indian cinema is due to open in December.

"It's going to be pretty huge," says D.P. Reddy, joint secretary of India's information and broadcasting ministry, adding that 1.2bil rupees (RM62mil) will be spent on the project.

He also lists plans for various festivals, exhibitions and other events to mark the centenary of not just Hindi-language Bollywood, but all Indian cinema.

Last March, the UTV Stars television channel launched a "Walk of Fame" in the style of the famous boulevard in Los Angeles, but Mumbai still has some catching up to do to match the legendary landmarks of the US film capital.

"Hollywood is a location but Bollywood is just an entity without a specific location," adds Peter, who hopes to attract more funding to keep their project alive. "Maybe if our paintings help to create the feeling of being in Bollywood, that will be something we have achieved." – AFP Relaxnews

Urban hub for arts

Posted: 01 Sep 2012 04:44 PM PDT

What would it take to make KL a lively arts paradise?

CAN Kuala Lumpur ever become an arts hub like Melbourne (in Australia), Seoul or Singapore?

We do have a vibrant arts scene in this country as every week sees a play or musical or art exhibition being held in KL. And although our arts community is relatively small, the practitioners are nevertheless a busy bunch.

But how ready are we to turn KL into an arts city that never sleeps?

The Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) recently held a panel discussion on "Arts and the city" with members of the arts community, on how to empower the arts community, how much money matters in artistic endeavours, and what's on the arts community's wish list.

It is the ETP's belief that arts and culture will play a major role in turning KL into "an iconic and vibrant city", from both a social and an economic perspective. Thus the panellists explored the economic value of the arts, the impact of policies and incentives, and what can be done to help KL move in that direction.

On the panel were Low Ngai Yuen, head of Kakiseni, the arts portal that organises the annual Boh Cameronian Awards; Bilqis Hijjas, president of MyDance Alliance; Lee Weng Choy, co-director of The Substation Arts Centre, Singapore; dance choreographer, writer and educator Dr Zulkifli Mohamad; and Nor Asmah Mohd Noor, senior manager of communication, content and infrastructure of Pemandu (the Performance Management and Delivery Unit).

Zulkifli felt that transparency in fund-giving is of top priority, and there should also be more spaces for different types of performances.

"Thirdly, we should have platforms. For instance, if we have a KL arts festival, then we should also have a fringe section for the more experimental works," he said.

The panellists wanted the government to lead the way, although everyone should be proactive in making things happen.

"The government should have a little bit more courage and vision in its funding," said Lee. "It can identify a few key projects and key individuals that deserve long-term investment."

He believes this will lead to the development of leadership in the arts community, which will then be empowered to speak for itself.

On whether there are models to emulate, Bilqis said: "If you look at any country or city now – Seoul, Singapore, Melbourne, Berlin – they all have enabling policies in place. But we also have to remove the disenablers, the disincentives.

"Obviously, censorship is a big issue here. Malaysian artists would feel much happier if we knew very clearly where the lines are drawn, what is allowed and what is not."

Zulkifli added that dance also has problems with censorship, citing the recent case of Singapore Dance Theatre's (SDT) permit being denied because, reportedly, the dancers had to wear tutus.

(Earlier this year, the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre claimed it was told, verbally, by a ministry official that the SDT's application to perform in KL had been rejected because of "costumes and foreign performers".

Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim later denied that the dancers' tutus were a problem, and approved the permit, by which time it was too late for the group to come.)

Lee cited the government-commissioned censorship review committees in Singapore as an example of how the arts community was mobilised to take a stand for a more regulatory position instead of censorship, even though the community had initially accepted that censorship is necessary.

On whether an arts council is needed, Low said: "A few years ago, we tried to have an arts council but it didn't happen. We are putting together something almost similar and will be moving towards a proper structure soon."

Lee said the arts needs a public figure in a high position who thinks the arts is important and will "defend" it.

For example, The Substation worked really closely with the Arts Council in Singapore, but the latter "couldn't really defend us against the higher-ups in government. That's what you really need – a really strong supporter."

Should the government should be a leader or a partner?

"The government can't be leading in everything," Nor Asmah said. "The right role for the government is that of a facilitator. Of course it would like to see the (arts scene) united and provide constructive feedback.

"We need a list of projects on a long-term basis. But this has to come from the (arts scene) itself. The government can't be expected to fund the projects 100%. We need to come up with more reliable business models.

"Matching grants would be good. At least, you can see the commitment from the private sector to make it happen. And we can tell the public, 'Look, the government is very serious about making this city a lively arts centre.'"

But is the arts community united? Bilqis replied: "Is there a community? Yes. Is there a single voice? No."

Zulkifli thought it is difficult to get everyone together. "I think that's why we have MyDance, the ballet society – all dance people but in different societies. I suppose, for the good of the arts and its future, people should get together."

The Boh Cameronian Awards is a good example of getting artists together to celebrate as a single community. But does it want to develop a voice?

"I think a lot of people will (want to work with the government)," said Bilqis. "Obviously, there will be those who are suspicious. But judging by the effort it took to set up the previous version of the arts council, a lot of people came together ... it takes a lot of work, but it's not impossible."

Said Lee: "You have so many great individuals moving in different directions. Occasionally, you get very strong leadership at a particular time, because there's an issue, opportunity or occasion. It's like history. Who knows why things happen?"

Finally, on what the focus should be to make KL a vibrant arts city, Low said discussions should be encouraged and everyone should act on whatever plans that result from that.

"This country is still in its infancy in terms of the growth of the performing arts," she added. "The growth is minimal and it needs a little push from all sectors."

Zulkifli felt the capacity of those who work behind the scenes should also be built up. "The leaders in the arts scene are not just the artists themselves but also the producers, fund-raisers, managers and technical people."

Bilqis called for greater transparency, more discussions, and more information from the government about what it is trying to do.

"Sometimes there are opportunities that no one knows about, and the government doesn't get any response to what it's trying to promote," she said.

Nor Asmah said come November, the government will hold a Kuala Lumpur Creative Content and Information Mart.

"We're trying to get all the players in the creative scene to participate and promote what they do," she said. "(We hope to have) people from the performing arts, music, film and other genres.

"There have been a series of discussions. I hope those in the arts community will take proactive steps to be involved."

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

D for the heart

Posted: 01 Sep 2012 06:52 PM PDT

Find out more about the heart benefits of vitamin D.

ACCORDING to the US-based Vitamin D Council, a non-profit organisation responsible for spreading reliable information on vitamin D, sun exposure, and the vitamin D deficiency pandemic, vitamin D deficiency is estimated to affect a third to half of the adult population worldwide.

Living in tropical Malaysia does not mean we are getting enough of the sunshine nutrient – vitamin D3. Factors affecting vitamin D production from sunlight range from the angle of the sun's rays, the time of the day, skin type, etc.

Vitamin D3 is known for helping with calcium absorption, and for building strong bones, which is why milk has been fortified with it.

But there is growing evidence to show that vitamin D deficiency is linked with numerous other health conditions and diseases, from cancer to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The heart health connection

Getting enough vitamin D3 may help your heart, according to a study published in the January 2008 publication of the Journal of American Heart Association. Researchers found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, angina or heart failure, than those who started with higher vitamin D levels.

In a randomised controlled trial consisting of 77 overweight and obese women carried out in Tehran, Iran, vitamin D supplementation has shown potential in regards to improving blood lipid profiles.

Based on a study focusing on the effects of vitamin D on heart health, conducted at the Intermountain Medical Centre based in Salt Lake City in the US, involving 27,686 patients, those with the lowest vitamin D levels were 77% more likely to die during the follow-up, 78% more likely to have a stroke and 45% more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those with normal levels. They were twice as likely to develop heart failure compared to those with normal levels.

And even those who had moderate deficiencies were at higher risk, the researchers said.

People who were vitamin D deficient were also twice as likely to have diabetes, and tended to have high blood pressure. But being vitamin D deficient was an independent risk factor for poor outcomes, regardless of other risk factors like diabetes, said Dr Joseph B. Muhlestein, cardiologist and researcher with Intermountain Medical Centre, and one of the authors of the new study.

He adds: "What we were taught in medical school about vitamin D is that it's associated with rickets and calcium metabolism."

That, however, is changing. "What's been discovered in the last few years is a significantly greater role for vitamin D," Dr Muhlestein said. "There are perhaps 200 different important metabolic processes that use vitamin D as a co-factor."

How do you get your vitamin D?

There are only two ways to receive vitamin D in the amounts necessary for proper health: ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure and vitamin D supplementation. Diet should not be considered a satisfactory source of vitamin D. The few foods that do contain vitamin D, contain too little to have any noticeable benefit.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the type of vitamin D the body naturally produces in the skin in response to sun exposure. Vitamin D2 is produced naturally when fungi (yeast or mushrooms) are exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun, or to artificial UV light. There is evidence that the body has preference for D3 over D2, showing in these studies that the body more readily uses D3 when it has both forms in the body, and that D3 is more potent than D2 for producing 25(OH)D.

The safety limit for vitamin D is much higher than commonly believed. Based on the latest evidence, it is determined that 10,000 I.U. a day is non-toxic. After all, your body can easily make 20,000 I.U. after 30 minutes at the beach between 10am and 2pm.

Published cases of toxicity, for which serum levels and doses are known, all involve intake of over 40,000 IU (1,000 mcg) per day. Many health experts recommend 1,000 I.U. to 2,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 supplements a day for the prevention of many heart-related conditions.

When taking a vitamin D supplement, try to choose a supplement made with natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).


1. Chan J., Jaceldo-Siegl K., Fraser G.E. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status of vegetarians, partial vegetarians, and nonvegetarians: the Adventist Health Study-2. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May; 89 (5): 1686S-1692S.

2. Välimäki VV, Löyttyniemi E, Välimäki MJ Vitamin D fortification of milk products does not resolve hypovitaminosis D in young Finnish men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr; 61 (4): 493-7.

3. Reinhold Vieth. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety- Am J Clin Nutr May 1999 vol. 69 no. 5 842-856

4. Vieth, R. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 May; 69 (5): 842-56.

5. Edvardsen K, Brustad M, Engelsen O, Aksnes L The solar UV radiation level needed for cutaneous production of vitamin D3 in the face. A study conducted among subjects living at a high latitude (68 degrees N). Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences. 2007 Jan; 6 (1): 57-62.

This article is courtesy of Live-well Nutraceuticals, for more information, please consult your pharmacist or call Live-well INFOline: 03-6142 6570 or e-mail info@livewell2u.com. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Looking after young eyes

Posted: 01 Sep 2012 06:48 PM PDT

By nine years of age, the visual system is fully developed in a child. Detect problems earlier before it's too late.

THE moment I was told to pen down some words on paediatric eye care, I did not have to crack my head to understand the problem faced by most parents when it comes to children's vision care these days.

I see my son Danish, who is four-and-a-half years old, sitting in front of the TV, watching his favourite programmes: cartoons – Spiderman, Transformers, Ultraman, and what not.

Also, with one hand holding an iPad, he plays games and has fun with interactive lessons available online provided by the App store.

If he is bored with all that, he will start amusing himself with colouring books. Occasionally, he will jump on his tricycle and cycle around the living hall within its four walls.

I'm sure this is a common scenario with children nowadays. Because these activities affect their vision, parents will have to address any problems for the betterment of the child's visual development.

When vision develops

Even at a newborn stage, infants are able to see. Their vision improves as they continue to grow. During their early childhood years, the visual system changes quickly, and if the child complains of visual clarity, it could be that his/her vision is not developing properly. In fact, visual development may even decrease.

Through a thorough eye exam, the doctor can detect reduced visual acuity, squint or misalignment of the eyes, amblyopia (lazy eyes), glaucoma (high eye pressure), cataract and blocked tear ducts, to name a few.

If diagnosed early, the child will have better chances of gaining back good vision.

By nine years of age, the visual system is fully developed, and usually cannot be changed. This means a child has only up to nine years of his/her life to correct any pathology in the visual system.

After that, it may be too late to consult the eye doctor for any treatment.

Signs of poor vision

Babies have poor vision at birth but can see faces at close range, even for newborns.

At about six weeks old, a baby's eyes should follow objects, and by four months, he or she should have conjugate movements, where the movement of both eyes are synchronised with each other.

Over the first year or two, vision develops rapidly. A two-year-old usually would have gained around 90-95% of their distant vision.

Given all the facts above, parents should be aware of signs of poor vision in children. If one eye turns or crosses, that eye may not see as well as the other eye.

If the child is disinterested in faces or age-appropriate toys, or if the eyes rove around or jiggle (nystagmus), poor vision may be the reason.

Another sign to watch out for is when the child tilts his/her head and squints.

Unable to complain, babies and toddlers compensate for poor vision by showing the behaviours mentioned above.

When to get an eye exam?

The first recommended eye exam for your child is between the ages of three and five years. However, a complete eye exam can even be performed on a newborn child.

Visual sharpness can be assessed on a child as young as three months to two years of age.

Prescriptions for glasses can also be measured in even the youngest and most uncooperative child by using a special instrument called a retinoscope. It analyses light reflected through the pupil from the back of the eye.

If you have any suspicion that your child is having visual problems, he/she should be examined right away.

Towards healthier activities

There must be some time allocated for parents to be with their children for at least a few hours a day.

Encourage children to indulge more in outdoor activities like walking or jogging, under their parents' supervision.

Throughout life, the eyes should be trained to look at any distance so that it does not develop significant refractive errors, be it for near or far distances.

Dr Asokumaran Thanaraj is a consultant ophthalmologist. This article is courtesy of Columbia Asia. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Treating to target

Posted: 01 Sep 2012 06:47 PM PDT

Aiming at a treatment target for rheumatoid arthritis leads to better outcomes compared to traditional follow-up care.

IF you have high blood pressure (BP) or diabetes, you should be aware of what the doctor would like to achieve with treatment.

In people with high blood pressure, the aim of treatment would be to reduce the BP to below 140/90, ie the target is to get the BP below 140/90.

If there are additional medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease or previous heart attacks, then the target would be to lower the BP even further, to below 130/80.

In diabetes, the aim is for the blood sugar to be as normal as possible. Thus, the target is for the fasting blood sugar to be below 5.5 mmol/l, or for the glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) – the measure of diabetic control over the previous three months – to be below 7.0%.

The doctor would discuss these "numbers" with you before treatment is started, and regular measurements are done to ensure that these targets are achieved during treatment. Achieving these targets leads to improved outcomes, with a reduction in organ damage/complications.

Rheumatoid control

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is chronic (ie long-term) arthritis leading to joint pain and swelling due to inflammation. Inflammation is the process in RA by which the joints get painful and swollen.

Untreated RA leads to joint damage, and consequently, physical disability, with the attendant reduced quality of life.

The need for early treatment in RA has been highlighted in many previous articles. Early treatment with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) has been shown to reduce joint damage, with ensuing better physical function.

Apart from early treatment, once patients are onmedication, tight (or good) control of their RA would lead to a better outcome.

However, in the past, there has been no consensus on such targets for RA patients.

In 2008, an international Steering Group of rheumatologists (doctors treating arthritis) and patients met to develop a set of recommendations for the tight control of RA – "treat to target" (T2T).

This was based on an extensive review of the research evidence available, followed by discussion amongst the international panel of over 60 doctors and some patients to achieve consensus.

It was felt to be a timely initiative for several reasons. Firstly, there are now various methods commonly available to measure the amount of RA activity more reliably (rather like the HbA1c for diabetic patients) so that decisions on treatment changes can be made based on recognised and accepted activity scores.

Secondly, medications have become available that can more effectively control RA compared to previously available drugs.

Thirdly, research studies have shown that aiming at a treatment target for RA leads to better outcomes compared to traditional follow-up care.

The resulting recommendations were then disseminated to rheumatologists worldwide. Overall, there was very good support from the rheumatologists, including those surveyed in Malaysia, with the recommendations.

Patient recommendations

The next step was completed earlier this year when the patient version of the recommendations was published. This was based on discussions with a few of the doctors involved in the initial T2T recommendations and nine RA patients from various parts of Europe.

The patient recommendations and its main concepts are discussed further below. It is hoped that if patients are aware of the recommendations for the treatment of RA, they can start to understand why treatment is important, and have a dialogue with their rheumatologist about the treatment aims for their disease and how it can be achieved.

The over-riding principle of T2T is that there is discussion between the doctor and patient about their treatment of RA and the goal of their treatment. Ideally, there should be agreement on the goal to maximise long-term quality of life by controlling the disease to stop joint inflammation.

There is no doubt that uncontrolled inflammation in RA leads to joint damage. So it is important that RA disease activity/inflammation is measured regularly, and the treatment adjusted if the target is not achieved.

This is an important concept – patients with RA are typically on several types of medication, and there can be a reluctance on their part to adjust medication, especially if they are already feeling better and can cope with the few swollen joints that are still present.

In addition, some RA patients are concerned that the potential benefits do not outweigh the potential harm of the treatment, which makes adjustment of, and compliance with, treatment difficult.

The recommendations that follow explain what the aim of treatment should be, and how to get there.

The best target for patients with RA would be to get to a state of clinical remission. This means that there are no swollen or tender joints, and the markers of inflammation in the blood, such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP), are within normal limits.

If remission is not possible, then a state of "low disease activity" may be an acceptable alternative. In this state, there may be still some signs of inflammation, such as one or two swollen joints, or a slightly raised ESR or CRP.

Both remission and low disease activity states significantly reduce the chances of progressive joint damage in RA, in contrast to patients with moderate to high disease activity. It is suggested that patients with moderate or high disease activity be seen in clinics more frequently, so that treatment can be adjusted until the RA goes into remission. Once under control, the frequency of the visits can be reduced.

However, the recommendations do recognise that the process should be individualised; recommendation 9 states that, "Selecting the appropriate measurement of disease activity and target may be influenced by the individual situation: the presence of other diseases, patient-related factors or drug-related safety risks".

Of course, these recommendations suggest what should happen in the ideal situation, where both doctor and patient have enough time and resources to achieve the optimum outcomes in RA.

Nevertheless, as in the other medical conditions where doctors are encouraged to treat to a target, doctors treating RA should behave no differently in treating to a target.

Even if resources are limited, there is no reason why we should not be trying to aim for the ideal and achieve as much as possible.

Therefore, to all the patients with RA reading this, talk to your doctor about T2T!

Overreaching T2T principles

·Decisions regarding the treatment of RA must be made by the patient and rheumatologist together.

·The most important goal of treatment is to maximise long-term health-related quality of life. This can be achieved through:

(i) Control of disease symptoms like pain, inflammation, stiffness and fatigue.

(ii) Prevention of damage to joints and bones.

(iii) Regaining normal function and participation in daily activities.

·The most important way to achieve these goals is to stop joint inflammation.

·Treatment toward a clear target of disease activity gives the best results in RA. This can be achieved by measuring disease activity and adjusting therapy if the target is not achieved.


1. The primary target of treatment of RA should be clinical remission.

2. Clinical remission means that significant signs and symptoms of the disease that are caused by inflammation are absent.

3. Although remission should be the target, it is not possible for some patients, in particular, those with long disease duration. Therefore, low disease activity may be an acceptable alternative.

4. Until the desired treatment target is reached, drug therapy should be adjusted at least every three months.

5. Disease activity must be measured and documented regularly. For patients with high or moderate disease activity, this must be done every month.

For patients in a sustained low disease activity state or remission, this can be done less frequently (eg every three to six months).

6. Combined disease activity measurements, which include joint examinations, are needed in routine clinical practice to guide treatment decisions.

7. Besides disease activity, treatment decisions in clinical practice should also consider damage to the joints and restrictions in activities of daily living.

8. The desired treatment target should be maintained throughout the remaining course of the disease.

9. Selecting the appropriate measurement of disease activity and target may be influenced by the individual situation: presence of other diseases, patient-related factors or drug-related safety risks.

10. The patient has to be appropriately informed about the treatment target and the strategy planned to reach this target under the supervision of the rheumatologist.


1. Smolen JS, Aletaha D, Bijlsma JWJ et al. Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: recommendations of an international task force. Ann Rheum Dis 2010; 69: 631-7. doi:10.1136/ard.2009.123919.

2. De Wit MPT, Smolen JS, Gossec L, van der Heijde DMFM. Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: the patient version of the international recommendations. Ann Rheum Dis 2011; 70: 891-5. doi:10.1136/ard.2010.146662.

Dr Yeap Swan Sim, Dr Gun Suk Chyn and Dr Heselynn Hussein are part of the Malaysian T2T Steering Committee. This article is contributed by The Star Health & Ageing Panel, which comprises a group of panellists who are not just opinion leaders in their respective fields of medical expertise, but have wide experience in medical health education for the public. The members of the panel include: Datuk Prof Dr Tan Hui Meng, consultant urologist; Dr Yap Piang Kian, consultant endocrinologist; Datuk Dr Azhari Rosman, consultant cardiologist; A/Prof Dr Philip Poi, consultant geriatrician; Dr Hew Fen Lee, consultant endocrinologist; Prof Dr Low Wah Yun, psychologist; Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist; Dr Lee Moon Keen, consultant neurologist; Dr Ting Hoon Chin, consultant dermatologist; Prof Khoo Ee Ming, primary care physician; Dr Ng Soo Chin, consultant haematologist. For more information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The Star Health & Ageing Advisory Panel provides this information for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star Health & Ageing Advisory Panel disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this article.

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