Sabtu, 6 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Man behind anti-Islam film due in L.A. court next week

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 08:38 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man behind an anti-Islam film that stoked violent protests in the Muslim world is due to appear in a federal court in Los Angeles next week for a preliminary hearing on whether he violated the terms of his probation over a 2010 bank fraud conviction, court papers show.

Mark Basseley Youssef, 55, who before went by the name Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is scheduled to go before U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder on Wednesday, the documents filed on Friday in U.S. District Court show.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (C) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California September 15, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (C) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California September 15, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman

The terms of Youssef's 2011 release from prison include a ban on using aliases without the permission of a probation officer.

The Egyptian-born Youssef has been described as the producer of a crudely made 13-minute video filmed in California and circulated online under a number of titles, including "Innocence of Muslims." It mocked the Prophet Mohammad and sparked a torrent of anti-American unrest in Egypt and other Muslim countries last month.

The U.S. Marshals Service arrested Youssef on September 27 and took him before a federal judge that day for a hearing held amid tight security at which prosecutors accused him of violating the terms of his probation.

A judge that day ordered him held without bail, and a federal prison official later confirmed he was taken to a high-rise federal jail in downtown Los Angeles.

The defendant, who had worked in the gas station industry, declared at the outset of his last hearing that he had changed his name to Mark Basseley Youssef in 2002 from his previous name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

While previous court documents referred to him as Nakoula, the latest court papers from Friday name him as Youssef. He most recently lived in a suburb of Los Angeles.

An actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, who appeared briefly in the clip, has accused him in a federal lawsuit of making the film under the alias Sam Bacile. Garcia has said she thought she was working on a historical adventure film and did not know it had anything to do with Mohammad.

Other people who appeared in or worked on the film have made similar claims.

Federal authorities have stressed that they are not investigating the film over its content, but Youssef's arrest has led to some criticism from free speech advocates.

Prosecutors did not specify which terms of Youssef's 2011 conditional release he is suspected of violating, but they said he had used aliases and that they could seek to have him sent to prison for up to 24 months if a judge finds he violated his probation.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

U.S. court fight starts for radical cleric sent from Britain

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 05:28 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - One-eyed radical Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri made his first appearance in federal court in New York on Saturday after Britain extradited him to the United States to face trial and a potential life sentence on terrorism charges.

Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri is seen in this courtroom sketch during a court appearance in Manhattan Federal Court in New York October 6, 2012. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri is seen in this courtroom sketch during a court appearance in Manhattan Federal Court in New York October 6, 2012. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

The Egyptian-born Hamza, 54, entered U.S. District Court in Manhattan after being refused the prosthetics - including his signature metal hook - that he wears because of his missing forearms.

Hamza is accused by Washington of supporting al Qaeda, aiding a kidnapping in Yemen and plotting to open a training camp for militants in the United States.

He was flown late on Friday to the United States along with four other men also wanted on U.S. terrorism charges.

Hamza is missing both his hands and an eye, injuries he says he sustained while living in Afghanistan in the 1980s and carrying out humanitarian work. Authorities say he was fighting for the Mujahideen against the Soviet Union.

Dressed in blue prison garb, Hamza spoke only once during Saturday's 10-minute court hearing before Magistrate Judge Frank Maas. Through his court-appointed lawyer, Hamza asked that his prosthetics be returned to him and that he receive proper medical attention. It was not clear why authorities did not allow him the prosthetics in court.

He will not be asked to enter a plea until he returns to court on Tuesday.

Under the terms of British and European court rulings authorizing the extradition, the five suspects must be tried in U.S. civilian courts and federal prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty.

U.S. officials said they were pleased Hamza and the other men would finally answer to the long-standing charges.

The extradition "is a watershed moment in our nation's efforts to eradicate terrorism," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Saudi native Khalid al-Fawwaz, 50, and Egyptian Adel Abdul Bary, 52, also appeared in federal court in New York on Saturday. Both pleaded not guilty to charges they and others were involved in the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

Also on Saturday, British citizens Babar Ahmad, 38, and Syed Talha Ahsan, 33, charged with supporting al Qaeda and other militant groups by operating various websites promoting Islamic holy war, pleaded not guilty before a federal judge in New Haven, Connecticut, court records showed.


Born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, Hamza moved to Britain as an engineering student in the 1970s, married a British woman and once worked as a doorman at discos in London.

A fiery anti-Western speaker, he is said to have inspired some of the world's most high-profile militants, including Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the accused September 11 conspirators.

The cleric was once a preacher at the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, but was later jailed in Britain for inciting murder and racial hatred.

After being held on the U.S. extradition warrant, he was jailed by a British court in 2006 for inciting Muslims to kill Jews and non-believers, based on extracts of speeches he had given years earlier.

Hamza was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in April 2004. He is accused of involvement in a 1998 hostage-taking in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of four hostages - three Britons and one Australian.

He was also accused of providing material support to al Qaeda by trying to set up a training camp for fighters in Oregon in the United States and of trying to organize support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

If convicted, Hamza could face up to life in prison.

He lost his eight-year battle to avoid deportation on Friday after two London High Court judges refused a last bid to delay his departure. The European Court of Human Rights refused to stop London from extraditing Hamza and the four others.


While all five defendants made initial court appearances on Saturday before judges in New York and Connecticut, there is little likelihood a full trial will begin soon.

Some U.S. officials are concerned their trials could ignite politically charged debate about security threats and whether militants are being coddled by being tried in civilian courts.

Many experts note that U.S. civilian courts have handled many high-profile cases that involved Islamist militants.

Following a closely watched trial in Manhattan federal court, Tanzanian national Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was sentenced to life in prison in January 2011 for his role in the 1998 bombings. Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversaw that trial, will also handle the cases of al-Fawwaz and Abdul Bary, both of whom are slated to appear before Kaplan on Tuesday.

Hamza's case has been assigned to Judge Katherine Forrest, who has been on the bench for less than a year. Last month, Forrest issued a controversial ruling blocking enforcement of a U.S. law's provision that authorizes indefinite military detention for people deemed to have "substantially supported" al Qaeda, the Taliban or "associated forces."

Government attorneys, who obtained an emergency suspension of her ruling from an appeals court, argued that Forrest's permanent injunction would hurt America's ability to fight wars overseas.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Obama and Democrats raise record funds, poll holds steady

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 05:15 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's campaign and its Democratic allies raised $181 million (112 million pounds) in September for his re-election effort, the largest total that either side has announced yet in the 2012 campaign.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia October 5, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia October 5, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The big September number and a good jobs report on Friday that showed unemployment dipping to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent shifted some attention from Obama's lacklustre debate performance on Wednesday against Republican Mitt Romney.

Helping buoy Obama's fundraising in September was his party's convention and a modest lead in the polls over Romney, whose campaign was plagued by his remark that the 47 percent of the population who receive government funds are "victims."

Obama's campaign said on Saturday that more than 1.8 million people donated to it last month. Of that, 567,000 were new donors. A vast majority of the donations - 98 percent - were $250 or less. The average contribution was $53.

"That's by far our biggest month yet," campaign manager Jim Messina said in an email to supporters, urging them to chip in even more as the November 6 election draws near.

Obama needs a lift after a surprisingly tame performance at the debate shook his campaign's sense that it was closing in on election victory.

However, Romney's strong showing in Denver did little to convince more voters he understands them or is a "good person," according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Saturday.

The Democratic president is ahead of his challenger on character attributes that can win over undecided voters who have not been swayed on tangible policy points, according to the online poll.

On the broad question of who they will vote for in November, Obama kept his 2 percentage point lead among likely voters - 47 percent to 45 percent - in the online survey.

The gap was unchanged from Friday, when Obama led 46 percent to 44 percent in the tracking poll. His lead was 6 percentage points before the two men first went head-to-head in Denver.

"We haven't seen additional gains from Romney. This suggests to me that this is more of a bounce than a permanent shift," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said.

Romney, enjoying a boost of support in many polls after his debate performance, addressed a boisterous crowd of 6,500 in the city of Apopka in central Florida, a state that will be critical in whether he wins the White House.

Romney kept up the pressure on Obama over the U.S. economy a day after the jobless rate dropped below 8 percent for the first time since Obama took office. He said if the size of the workforce was the same now as it was in January 2009, the rate would be much higher, but that many have given up looking for jobs.

"If we calculated, by the way, our unemployment rate, in a way that was consistent with the way it was calculated when he came into office it would be a different number. You see ... if the percentage of the American population who were in the workforce were the same today as the day he was elected our unemployment rate would be above 11 percent," Romney said.

The debate gave Romney a financial boost. A spokeswoman said his team raised $12 million online in less than 48 hours after the Republican criticized Obama in front of 67 million television viewers for his handling of the economy.

The former Massachusetts governor's campaign has not yet released its September fundraising figures, which are also expected to be high.


Both candidates continue to fight for funds even in the final month of the campaign, reflecting the importance of deep coffers to pay for the last flurry of expensive advertising.

In this bitterly contested race for the White House, on track to be the costliest in U.S. history, campaigns must fill their war chests with enough cash to make expensive media buys and wage on-the-ground operations in the nine or so swing states likely to determine the outcome of the election.

Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised more than $114 million in August, just beating Romney's $111 million. That followed three months when Romney out-raised the incumbent.

Obama's September haul was still slightly lower than four years ago, when his campaign and the DNC together brought in $193 million.

Obama advisers are proud of his campaign's base of low-dollar donors, believing that gives the president an advantage, especially at the end of the election cycle when supporters can keep giving even if they have donated before.

Since the campaign officially kicked off in April 2011, 3.9 million people have donated, it said.

Obama's poor debate may increase the need for infusions of cash to fund ads in swing states such as Ohio, Florida and Iowa.

He leaves on Sunday for a fundraising trip to California in an effort to make October a strong month as well.

Former President Bill Clinton will join Obama at an event at a private residence in Los Angeles to thank long-time donors, the campaign said.

Obama then speaks at an event with some 6,000 people that will feature music from singers Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Hudson as well as remarks from actor George Clooney.

The president will then head to a fundraising dinner with roughly 150 people who are paying $25,000 each to attend.

Obama was in Washington on Saturday and had no public events scheduled. Romney spent the morning at a Florida hotel with Ohio Senator Rob Portman preparing for his second debate with Obama on October 16.

Republicans have had greater success in raising funds from outside groups known as Super PACs or political action committees, which can spend unlimited amounts on advertising.

(Additional reporting by Alina Selyukh and Steve Holland; Editing by Alistair Bell, Xavier Briand and Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Opening Act: Reality TV series for aspiring artistes

Posted: 07 Oct 2012 02:17 AM PDT

Reality talent series Opening Act helps aspiring artistes launch their music careers.

KYLIE Morgan was 12 when she first picked up a guitar.

Her grandfather had given her the guitar – a little pink one – perhaps meant as a present simply to make the girl's day. Little did he know that Morgan, who would spend hours playing it and then posting videos of her performances on YouTube, would one day share the stage with country music star Jason Aldean.

All that came to fruition when TV host Olivia Lee surprised the now 17-yeard-old Morgan with news that she had been chosen to open Aldean's concert. The catch? They only have five days to prep, and they need to be part of a reality TV series called Opening Act.

Opening Act basically plucks unknown (and unsigned) artistes from YouTube and pair them with some of today's most popular music acts.

"The minute the Web came about, kids don't need producers and broadcasters anymore. They record themselves, they put themselves up (online) and the world either buys it or doesn't; they either get hits or they don't," Opening Act executive producer Nigel Lythgoe explained in an e-mail interview.

"I was constantly thinking of how I could make use of this tool. Then a guy called Steve Schnur came into my office and said, 'I've got this idea about searching the Web and coming up with opening acts for stars' and I thought what a great idea!" he continued.

Just like that, the show was conceived. And just like that, Morgan and many more budding artistes like her are a step closer to entering the door into the music industry that is usually hard to get through.

On each episode, after the lucky protégés are treated to a surprise message from their music idols, they immediately board a plane, heading straight to a studio in Los Angeles, California. There, they meet Lythgoe along with music producer Antonina Armato and vocal coach Nick Cooper, who scramble to prep these wide-eyed dreamers for their fast-approaching opening performance.

Then, with an assuring pat from their superstar mentors, it's make-it-or-break-it time. Instead of sitting on a couch, singing while strumming a guitar in front of a Webcam, the new talents will have to perform in front of a live audience, and there's no telling how the crowd will respond.

"It's not a competition, nobody auditions and nobody gets sent home. It isn't 'pack your suitcase, you're going home this week because America voted and you got knocked out', (there's) none of that," Lythgoe said, adding that this is what sets the show apart from other reality-based talent shows. He also said that it serves to give an opportunity to young talents.

In an interview with The Oklahoman, Morgan also lauded the show for its unique approach in finding new artistes. "There are no auditions, there are no judges ... In a sense, we've already all won. You know, we've gotten the chance and the experience of a lifetime," she was quoted as saying.

Morgan, who has performed with other country acts like Steel Magnolia, The JaneDear Girls and Ty England, also stated: "It was definitely the biggest stage I've ever performed on. I'm not used to the big lights and the big sound and all those people. It was an overwhelming experience."

It's a good thing Morgan has had some experience entertaining a live crowd. However, one may second-guess the artistes that don't. Putting an amateur artiste whose only experience of performing "in front" of anything is via the social media platform, can be a real cause for concern. To begin with, many YouTube singers rely on the "auto-tune" function to garner views. Even if they aren't auto-tuned, there is more to an artiste than just a good voice. Stage presence, charisma and spontaneity all come into play, and unfortunately, it's hard to tell if these web-born vocalists have that.

"It was a risk and we saw little cases like this in the group where one of the kid sounds like a bag of cats being thrown off the Empire State Building at one point," Lythgoe spoke candidly. However, he assured viewers that, "They sorted it out and performed on the night when it counts most."

Another apprehension one may have about the new show is whether it can truly springboard one's career. After all, these singers only appear in one episode. Viewers can barely get acquainted with them. To this, Lithgoe responded, "The idea of the show is not to provide the opening acts with overnight international success, it's a stepping stone for them to pave their career path. It will be interesting to see who grabs that with both hands and moves forward in their musical careers."

Luckily for Morgan, since her stint with Aldean she has landed a recording contract with Land Run Records, and is slated to release an album later this year.

Apart from Aldean, viewers can also expect to see Nicki Minaj, Jason Mraz, Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, LMFAO and Gym Class Heroes take these up-and-coming artistes under their wings.

Opening Act airs every Sunday at 5.30pm and 11pm on E! (Astro Ch 712).


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Germany to negotiate deal with Singapore against tax evasion

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:19 AM PDT

BERLIN: Germany will start talks with Singapore next week on a deal to prevent its citizens from evading taxes by shifting their money to the Asian state, a government source said on Saturday.

During a visit to Asia next week, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will fly to Singapore, the region's prominent wealth management centre, to try to negotiate an agreement with the government, the source said.

According to media reports, there are signs German tax dodgers are shifting funds to Singapore from Switzerland, which signed a tax deal with Germany earlier this year.

The source said hopes were high that Singapore would agree to give German authorities information on assets held in the country by wealthy German citizens as it had stressed earlier this year it did not tolerate tax evasion.

"We are acting on the assumption that Singapore is pursuing a clean money strategy," the source said.

Singapore's central bank said in August it had warned banks last year to guard against funds being transferred into the island state to evade taxation elsewhere, with an eye to new tax treaties being implemented in Europe.

It did not tolerate such flows, and Singapore was cooperating with other countries to prevent abuse of its financial system, a spokeswoman for the Monetary Authority of Singapore said.

Switzerland and Germany hammered out a new deal in April to confront tax evasion, but the centre-left SPD opposition has said it will block the pact in the upper house of parliament as it is too lenient on tax dodgers.

One of the SPD's criticisms has been that, as it stands, the agreement would allow people to evade taxes by taking their money out of Switzerland before the deal takes effect. - Reuters

Greek austerity talks to go on after eurogroup

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:13 AM PDT

ATHENS: Greece is making progress in agreeing new austerity measures with its international lenders but needs another two weeks to wrap up a deal, a senior government official said on Saturday.

The comments confirmed that Athens would fail to clinch a pact on almost 12 billion euros of savings before euro zone finance ministers meet on Monday, but both sides indicated progress was being made.

The cuts are necessary to keep the Greek budget within the targets set by the European Union and International Monetary Fund under the terms of the latest multi-billion-euro bailout staving off bankruptcy.

"There is good progress in the talks with the troika, there is convergence," a senior finance ministry official, who declined to be named, said after talks in Athens between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and officials from the troika of lenders - the EU, IMF and European Central Bank.

"We do not expect to have agreed on something before the eurogroup meeting," the official said, adding that talks would continue for another two weeks.

Greece's coalition government is trying to spare angry Greeks even deeper wage and pension cuts after five consecutive years of recession that have driven unemployment to record levels and slashed household incomes.

The official told reporters that Athens hoped for a statement from euro zone finance ministers on Monday confirming progress in the talks.

"This positive statement will be the signal for talks to continue ... next week and the week after that," he said.

Speaking in Riyadh on Saturday, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said talks on the fiscal chapter of Greece's program had been "very good and productive". The talks also cover structural reforms, financing and debt sustainability.

EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn also spoke of progress, saying negotiations had "moved on" and that agreement was possible in the coming days. - Reuters

U.S. House Intelligence panel head blackballs China's Huawei

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:10 AM PDT

WASHINGTON: U.S. companies should avoid doing business with China's Huawei, the world's No. 2 maker of telecommunications gear, for fear its equipment could open doors for spying, the head of the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee said.

"If I were an American company today ... and you are looking at Huawei, I would find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property; if you care about your consumers' privacy and you care about the national security of the United States of America," Chairman Mike Rogers said.

The Michigan Republican, a former FBI special agent, made his comments to the CBS television program 60 Minutes to be broadcast on Sunday. Excerpts provided by the program Friday did not spell out any evidence to back up Rogers' concerns.

On Monday, the Intelligence panel will release the findings of a nearly year-long investigation of the alleged security risk, both from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and China's ZTE Corp.

ZTE is also a Shenzhen, China-based telecommunications gear maker, the world's fifth-ranking. The excerpts released by 60 Minutes did not include specific references to ZTE. It was not immediately clear whether Rogers and the committee were blackballing ZTE as well.

"One of the main reasons we are having this investigation is to educate the citizens in business ... in the telecommunications world," Representative C.A. Ruppersberger of Maryland, the panel's top Democrat, told the program.

The committee believes allowing Huawei to build and maintain large swaths of America's telecommunications infrastructure opens a door for the Chinese government to spy on the U.S. government and engage in industrial espionage, 60 Minutes said.

Huawei said in response that it was "globally trusted and respected," doing business in almost 150 markets with more than 500 operator customers, including nationwide carriers across every continent except Antarctica.

"The security and integrity of our products are world proven," William Plummer, a company spokesman in Washington, said in an email. "Those are the facts today. Those will be the facts next week, political agendas aside."

The efforts of Huawei and ZTE in the United States have been stymied by U.S. concerns over allegedly mounting Chinese economic espionage, especially in cyberspace.

Huawei has marketed its network equipment in the United States since last year and has sold to a range of small- to medium-sized carriers nationwide, particularly in rural areas. It has marketed mobile phones through a broader range of U.S. carriers, for the last four years.

Both Huawei and ZTE have rejected charges that their expansion in the United States poses a security risk and argue they operate independently of the Chinese authorities. - Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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De Jonge, Blixt, Moore share Las Vegas lead

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:35 PM PDT

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge, Sweden's Jonas Blixt and hometown hero Ryan Moore shared the lead after Saturday's third round of the US PGA Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Blixt birdied six of the last seven holes, including a 28-foot birdie putt at the 18th, to fire a five-under par 66 while de Jonge birdied four of the last five holes to shoot a 66 and Moore matched them with a bogey-free 65.

All three stood on 19-under par 194 for 54 holes in the $4.5-million event, the first of four season-ending events aimed at players struggling to keep tour rights for 2013 by finishing in the top 125 on this year's US PGA money list.

Americans Jimmy Walker and Tim Herron were five strokes off the pace sharing fourth as the final trio that played together surged away from the pack.

"When everyone is playing well you can feed off each other and I think we did a good job of that today, saw a lot of putts go in," de Jonge said. "Everyone played well and hopefully we'll have more of the same tomorrow."

Blixt birdied the par-4 second, stumbled back with birdies at the sixth and par-3 eighth, answered with a birdie at the par-5 ninth only to begin the back nine with a bogey.

The Swede, in his first PGA season, caught fire with a birdie at the par-4 12th and ran off five birdies in a row before settling for a par at the par-3 17th and grabbing a share of the lead with his impressive closing putt.

"Was very relaxed out there and I just had a good time," Blixt said. "They ran away a little bit and then I got lucky. I got hot in the end and made some putts and was able to catch them. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."

De Jonge, like Blixt seeking his first US PGA title, birdied the second and fourth and closed the front nine with another birdie to stay atop the leaderboard but fell back with bogeys at the 10th and par-5 13th.

The African then birdied four holes in a row starting at the par-3 14th and ending with the par-3 17th, the streak broken when he missed by inches on a 12-foot birdie effort at 18.

"You have got to make a lot of birdies, but in saying that you've kind of got to pick and choose your spots as well," de Jonge said.

"If you don't have a great enough (shot), don't go for it just because you can see everyone is making a bunch of birdies around you. It's a matter of being a little bit disciplined as well at times."

Las Vegas resident Moore, whose only US PGA crown came in 2009 at Charlotte, opened with a birdie, added others at the par-4 seventh and 11th holes, birdied the par-5 13th and added back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th holes.

"I didn't do anything amazing," Moore said. "I just did what I've been doing this whole week - put it in play, gave myself a bunch of wedges, 9-irons into greens and was able to convert a bunch of my reasonable birdie chances."

US fan favorite John Daly followed a 63, his best round of the year, with an season-worst 86 to stumble back to 72nd on 218.

Daly, who stands nine spots outside the top 125, had a quadruple bogey, a triple bogey, two double bogeys, six bogeys and two birdies.

"I was just hoping to stop the bleeding," Daly said. "I can't remember when I had such a stretch of bad holes." - AFP

Komalam bags 100m crown in photo-finish

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:07 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The women's 100m final ended in a photo-finish, with Armed Forces' Komalam Shally Selvaratnam and Iran's Maryam Toosi touching the tape at the same time – 12.07.

The 23-year-old Malaysian was later declared the winner.

Another Iranian, Farzane Fasihi, clocked 12.27 to take the bronze.

The Ipoh-born petite Komalam was happy to win the blue riband event in her first Malaysian Open outing but disappointed with her slow time.

"It is slower than my personal best of 11.93, which I clocked in the Armed Forces meet last week. I was in high spirit after the Forces meet and was looking forward to improving my time ... but I failed," said Komalam, who hopes to win the 200m event today as well.

"I'll have to train harder to qualify for next year's SEA Games in Myanmar."

The pint-sized Zaidatul Husnia Zulkifli of Penang ended up fourth after clocking 12.35.

The men's 100m dash was also won by Armed Forces' Mohd Noor Imran Hadi, who clocked 10.61 – way off his personal best of 10.40.

Terengganu's Harith Ammar Mohd Sobri clocked 10.75 to take silver while S. Kannan of Perak took bronze in 10.78.

The Malaysian Open is 27-year-old Imran's second meet of the year as he took a break after featuring in the Jakarta SEA Games last November.

"I feel fresh after the long break. I am slowly getting back into shape and hope to start clocking better times in meets next year, said Imran.

A. Kavee Alagan, who broke the high jump record in the Pahang Sukma (Malaysia Games) by clearing 2.21m in July, could only manage a dismal 2.10m to finish second.



100m: 1. Mohd Noor Imran Hadi (ATM) 10.61, 2. Harith Ammar Mohd Sobri (Ter) 10.75, 3. S. Kannan (Prk) 10.78.

110m hurdles: 1. Abdul Aziz Al-Mandeel (Kuw) 14.09, 2. Mohd Rohaizad Jamil (ATM) 14.40, 3. Mohd Ajmal Mat Hassan (Ter) 14.60.

400m: 1. P. Yuvaraj (ATM) 48.30, 2. Anchois Aron (Sab) 48.80, 3. Mohd Azam Masri (Mal) 50.00.

800m: 1. Mohd Jironi Ridzuan (Swk) 1:51.81, 2. M. Vadivellan (ATM) 1:52.78, 3. Tseng Chiu-chin (Tpe) 1:53.56.

5000m: 1. Li Han-hsuan (Tpe) 15:33.90, 2. R. Venugopal (FT) 15:58.01, Ruburn Kummar Ramasam (Prk) 16:03.22.

20km walk: 1. G. Ummasuthhan (ATM) 1'38:22, 2. Mohd Khairil Harith (Kel) 1'39:11, 3. M. Satiyaseelan (Pen) 1'45:18.

4x100m: 1. Singapore 40.30, 2. Sabah 41.71, 3. Armed Forces 41.97.

Discus: 1. Naarong Benjaroon (Tha) 50.77m, 2. James Wong (Sin) 48.70m, 3. Mohd Irfan Shamshuddin (Nse) 44.97m.

High jump: 1. S. Navinraj (Joh) 2.15m, 2. A. Kavee Alagan (ATM) 2.10m, 3. Nauraj Singh (Joh) 2.05m. Javelin: 1. Ali Hamid (Joh) 57.50m, 2. Mohd Akmal Mohd Zain (Ked) 56.91m, Firdaus Jalak (Swk) 56.22m.

Long jump: 1. Chan Ming Tai (Hkg) 7.12m, 2. Josbert Tinus (ATM) 6.97m 3. Mohd Faizal Mustafa (ATM) 6.84m. Pole vault: 1. Fahad Al-Mershad (Kuw) 4.80m, 2. Iskandar Alwi (Joh) 4.70m, 3. Saleh Al-Shemali (Kuw) 4.50m.


100m: 1. Komalam Shally Selvatram (ATM) 12.08, 2. Maryam Toosi (Irn) 12.08, 3. Farzane Fasihi (Irn) 12.27.

110m hurdles: 1. Raja Norsheena Raja Azhar (ATM) 14.59, 2. Sepideh Tavakolink (Irn) 15.13, 3. Nur Syafiqah Anis Abu Bakar (Joh) 15.44.

400m: 1. Nurul Faezah Asma (ATM) 58.18, 2. Wendy Enn (Sin) 59.17, 3. Chau Yan Ching (Hkg) 59.32.

800m: 1. K. Ghantimathi (ATM) 2:14, 2. Faradilah Raznie (Swk) 2:20.01, 3. Noor Amelia Musa (FT) 2:20.85.

5000m: 1. Noor Amelia Musa (FT) 18:56.67, 2. Nur Aisyah Akmat (Swk) 19:08.07, 3. Iza Maryati Mohd (ATM) 20:04.50.

20km walk: 1. Norliyananan Rusni (ATM) 2'03:54, 2. Loh Chooi Fern (Sel) 2'06:30, 3. Sonaaie Chee (ATM) 2'21:00.

4x100m: 1. Armed Forces 48.18, 2. Iran 49.85, 3. Sabah 50.83. Hammer: 1. Chen Yu-ting (Tpe) 48.38m, 2. Casier Renee Lee (Swk) 46.34m, 3. Partia Pang Mei Chin (ATM) 43.97m.

High jump: 1. Kotchakorn Khamrueang (Tha) 1.75m, 2. Sepideh Tavakolink (Irn) 1.70m, 3. Yap Sean Yee (FT) 1.70m.

Shot putt: 1. Wan Lay Chi (Sin) 13.51m, 2. Siti Nurain Abdul Hamid (ATM) 13.19m, 3. Casier Renee Lee (Swk) 12.56m.

Triple jump: 1. Noor Amira Mohd Nafiah (ATM) 13.90m (national record), 2. Kee Siew Lian (Swak) 11.83m, 3. Merry Gabali (Sab) 11.29m.

Bogeys fail to stop Tze Huang from taking the lead in Sarawak Masters

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:19 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Not even a bogey and a double bogey over the last three holes could stop Singapore's Choo Tze Huang (pic) from taking a slim one-shot lead over three golfers in the third round of the PGM Sarawak Masters yesterday.

The 25-year-old Tze Huang, touted as one of the region's rising stars, seemed to be coasting towards a comfortable lead at the Sarawak Golf Club in Kuching before his late collapse left with two-over 74 for a three-day total of one-under 215 in the RM180,000 Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.

He is closely chased by Malaysia's Akhmal Tarmizee and Filipino duo Jhonnel Ababa and Charles Hong.

"I was doing well, and putting decently. But in the last three holes, I didn't quite do it. It was a bad finish," said Tze Huang.

"The greens are tough to get close to as they are firm and quick. They are really challenging and you really need to be patient out there."

With one round to go, the Singaporean is hopeful of securing his maiden title on the ADT, which rewards the top-three finishers on the final Order of Merit with Asian Tour cards for the 2013 season.

Ababa, meanwhile shot a solid round of 70, thanks to four birdies against two bogeys, to stay in the title hunt.

"I hit it good on the front nine. I'm really happy. This golf course is hard as it's long and the greens are tough," said Ababa, who finished third in the Bii Maybank ADT Challenge in Indonesia in July.

"I'm just going to enjoy the day tomorrow (today). I've won three local events on the Philippine Tour last year. But to do it tomorrow, I will need to drive the ball well ... you can't make mistakes here."

Overnight leader Hong carded a 76 yesterday while local hope Akhmal returned with 73 for a 216 total.


Leading third round scores

215: Choo Tze Huang (Sin) 71-70-74;

216: Jhonnel Ababa (Phi) 75-71-70, Akhmal Tarmizee (Mas) 70-73-73, Charles Hong (Phi) 71-69-76;

217: Peter Richardson (Eng) 75-72-70, Mitsuhiko Hashizume (Jpn) 72-74-71, S. Siva Chandhran (Mas) 72-72-73, Jeremiah Kim (Mas) 71-72-74;

218: Kenneth De Silva (Mas) 71-75-72, Sukree Othman (Mas) 72-74-72, Michael Moore (Aus) 71-74-73, Airil Rizman Zahari (Mas) 71-73-74.


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Auditor-General verifies Scorpene buy follows procedures, says Zahid

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 07:36 AM PDT

BAGAN DATOH: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Auditor-General has already explained that the purchase of Scorpene submarines was made according to legal procedures and his official report must be accepted by all quarters.

In response to the opposition's plan to bring in a French lawyer, William Bourdon, to brief the Malaysian lawmakers on court proceedings in France on the purchase of the submarines, Ahmad Zahid hoped no quarter would twist the existing facts on the matter.

He was also in the opinion that the lawyer was invited to Malaysia by the opposition merely with political motive and not so much for legal business.

Ahmad Zahid said this to reporters after opening the Sekolah Agama Rakyat Al-Ulum Al Tarbiah's Sports Day in Kampung Tanah Lalang here on Saturday.

The purchase of the submarines should be seen from the aspects of an offset programme, training, and performance assurance for certain period of time, he said.

Ahmad Zahid said this in response to the invitation made by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to a French lawyer, William Bourdon, who represented Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), to brief the Dewan Rakyat on court proceedings in France on the purchase of the submarines.

Ahmad Zahid said the invitation was made by the opposition with the aim to tarnish the image of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who held the post of Defence Minister when the submarine was purchased.

"However, I will personally defend the moves because the purchase involved a thoroughly negotiated price and specifications.

"This is really an old issue and it was brought up to create public anger and confusion," he added. - Bernama

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Health Ministry to study source of illness in Bukit Koman

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 05:34 AM PDT

Published: Saturday October 6, 2012 MYT 8:34:00 PM

ROMPIN: The Health Ministry will proceed with its study on the source of illnesses in Bukit Koman without the involvement of the anti-cyanide movement, said its minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said it was because the Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Action Committee had yet to send its list of experts to the ministry.

"We cannot wait any longer. I have directed my officers to expedite the study so the issue can be put to rest. We all want to know the root of the problem and help the patients if they are really affected by the currently unknown source of the illness," said Liow after chairing the Pahang MCA exco meeting here Saturday.

He said the anti-cyanide group had also not given its list of 383 names of allegedly sick patients to the ministry.

"Health Ministry officials have been asked to go door-to-door in Bukit Koman to conduct medical tests on the residents. We will also try to obtain support from the World Health Organisation.

"The study will be transparent so the anti-cyanide group cannot create any doubt and question the results. I hope it can be concluded by the end of the year because it cannot be dragged any longer," he said.

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S’gor PKR ticks off MB’s secretary for attacking Azmin Ali

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 05:25 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor PKR leadership has taken Selangor Mentri Besar's political secretary Faekah Husin to task for attacking PKR deputy president Azmin Ali.

Selangor PKR deputy chairman Zuraida Kamaruddin said Faekah's comments were unnecessary, and could have been made "more positive" if she could have taken the trouble to communicate with Azmin over the matter.

"As far as Azmin in concerned, time and again, he had openly shown his full support for Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as the Selangor Mentri Besar.

"Khalid has done a fantastic job of 360 degrees turnaround from the Barisan Nasional-style government. Be it in his ceramah, articles and as in his recent parliament debates, Khalid has time and again highlighted as an excellent Mentri Besar for Pakatan Rakyat, much to the envy of the Barisan government," she said in a statement.

She added that Faekah had "unwisely misinterpreted" Azmin's recent comment on Khalid, and should have finished reading the article in good faith.

Zuraida was referring to an article in Sinar Harian, where Azmin was quoted saying that Khalid may be made a federal minister if Pakatan wins Putrajaya in the 13th general election, thus implying that Selangor will have a new Mentri Besar.

"Our advice to Faekah is to break her wall of communication with the party leaders because, until today, she has yet to communicate with most state and party national leaders on party and state matters.

"As an effective political secretary, Faekah should concentrate to improve the political relationship between the Mentri Besar and party leaders, and not cause instability by unnecessarily jumping the gun," she said.

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Bond girls: From Ursula Andress to Eva Green

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:08 AM PDT

LONDON: Over 50 years of cinematic success, James Bond has exercised his masculine charms on a string of women, although the role of the "Bond Girls" has subtly evolved over the years.

Bond author Ian Fleming gave the early women characters pastiche names - Pussy Galore in "Goldfinger", Tiffany Case ("Diamonds Are Forever") and Mary Goodnight ("The Man with the Golden Gun").

"Maybe that's an indication that we are not meant to take those characters seriously," said James Chapman, historian at Leicester University in England and author of "Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond films".

But the women playing opposite Bond have evolved with the times, he noted.

"The advent of the films in the 1960s coincided with the rise of Playboy magazine and there is a strong association between the kind of Playboy ethos of modern, liberated but very voluptuous and sexy feminity and the way in which women are presented in the early James Bond films," he told AFP.

"In the 1970s things start to change, we have a response to the rise of the women's lib movement and from 'The Spy Who Loved Me' in 1977 there is an attempt to create more fully rounded female roles."

Some of the best known Bond girls are:

- Ursula Andress: The image of Andress emerging from the sparkling waters of the Caribbean, a large knife strapped around her white bikini, became a classic pin-up and exemplified the genre known as "Bond girls".

Andress, who is Swiss, is now 76. Playing opposite Sean Connery in "Dr No", she became the standard by which all subsequent "Bond girls" were judged.

- Lois Maxwell: Another longtime fixture of the Bond films, Maxwell played the role of Miss Moneypenny - the long-suffering secretary in M's office - in no less than 14 films, starting with "Dr. No" right at the start in 1962 and ending with "A View to a Kill" in 1985.

Maxwell, who was born in Canada but lived for most of her life in England, died in 2007, aged 80.

- Honor Blackman: The English actress was already well-known for her role in the TV series "The Avengers" when she was approached to play the character Pussy Galore in "Goldfinger" (1964).

Blackman, who is now 87, was unusual in being no less than five years older than the actor who played James Bond, Sean Connery.

- Michelle Yeoh: The renowned Malaysian-born actress starred opposite Pierce Brosnan in the 1997 Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies." The other "Bond Girl" in that film was the American Teri Hatcher, who was later to star in the TV series "Desperate Housewives."

- Britt Ekland: The Swede had married comic actor Peter Sellars in the 1960s but achieved fame on the screen playing the hapless Mary Goodnight in "The Man with the Golden Gun", which was shot largely in Thailand and was released in 1974. Now 69, she acts on the stage in Britain.

- Eva Green: The French actress played opposite Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale" in 2008 as Vesper Lynd, an agent for the British Treasury given the uneviable role of supervising Bond, but the spy falls for her.

As the Bond franchise has worn on, the writers turned tables, putting women in charge of giving him the orders.

- Judi Dench: The Oscar-winning British actress, now aged 77, has played in more Bond films than any of the string of young beauties cast, and typecast, as "Bond girls".

Since 1995 ("Goldeneye"), Dench has played the role of "M" - Bond's boss in the secret services - in every Bond film.

Her steely authority as "M" is based on an established career in classical acting; she started her career as a Shakespearean actress.

- Lotte Lenya: Another woman who most definitely was not a "Bond girl" was the German Lotte Lenya, best known as a singer and actress in the operas produced by her husband Kurt Weill, in the 1920 and 30s.

Lenya, who was to flee Nazism with her husband and arrive in the United States in 1935, was cast as the sadistic character of Rosa Klebb in the 1963 Bond film "From Russia with Love".

She was 65 years old at the time, and she died in New York City in 1981.

Related story:
The name's Bond, James Bond: 007 marks 50 years

The name's Bond, James Bond: 007 marks 50 years

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:07 AM PDT

LONDON: "The name's Bond... James Bond". Fans of 007 on Friday celebrated 50 years of the suave British spy's adventures on the silver screen with a day of themed events around the world.

Bond strode stylishly into a film for the first time in the now classic "Dr. No", released on October 5, 1962, introducing himself with the immortal line over a high-stakes game of baccarat.

The movie franchise has gone on to become one of the most successful in history, with the 22 Bond films taking more than five billion dollars (3.85 billion euros).

To mark "Global Bond Day", British diva Adele released a clip of the theme song for "Skyfall", the 23rd and newest Bond film, on her website as anticipation built for its worldwide premiere on October 23.

The rugged Daniel Craig is the latest of the six actors to play Bond, but some things have stayed the same - 007's taste for fast cars, beautiful women, high-tech gadgets and vodka Martinis.

"For all the attempts at change, the core of the Bondian world remains the same: obsessed with sex and violence, hypermasculine, simplistically nationalistic, and addicted to conspicuous consumption," Christoph Lindner, editor of "The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader", told AFP.

A collection of cars from the films, including the iconic Aston Martins, were gathered at Pinewood Studios near London where the movies are made.

An auction of memorabilia at Christie's in London was another highlight of the day before the action moves across the Atlantic.

In New York, the Museum of Modern Art was unveiling an installation dedicated to the title sequence of 1964's "Goldfinger," which it said "captures the sexual suggestiveness and wry humor of the James Bond mythos."

James Chapman, historian at Leicester University in England and author of "Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond films", said the "Bond Girls" - a fixture of all the films - had subtly evolved with the sexual politics of the time.

"The villains have become rather more bland whereas the female characters have been given a little bit more depth (with each new film), although I say a little bit more, because they still ultimately conform to stereotypes," he said.

Another key feature of the films, the music, was being celebrated at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, which was hosting an evening of "memorable title songs and indelible scores" from the films.

British session player Vic Flick, 75, who laid down the signature guitar riff for the James Bond theme song, is due to attend.

In Washington, the International Spy Museum is staging an interactive exhibition, "Exquisitely Evil," which pays homage to Bond's adversaries with more than 100 artefacts from the Bond movies as well as "real stories from real spies", recalling their own Bond-like moments in espionage.

London's Barbican Centre has put on an exhibition showcasing the design and style of "the world's most influential and iconic movie brand". It will move on to Toronto later this month.

Britain's tourist agency has joined forces with Bond for the first time, launching a campaign across 21 countries based around the slogan "Bond is GREAT Britain."

A new feature documentary "Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007", will also be unveiled, focusing on producers Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and 007 author Ian Fleming, the three men most responsible for building the brand.

The release of "Skyfall" caps a busy year for 007, who provided one of the highlights of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony by "parachuting" into the stadium with Queen Elizabeth II, in a well-received spoof film.

Few would have believed that Bond would become a global institution when "Dr. No", an adaptation of Fleming's 1958 novel, was released.

Critical reaction to the first film was mixed, with Time magazine calling Sean Connery's Bond - still many fans' favourite - "a great big hairy marshmallow".

Meanwhile, Adele's new track was revealed as a soaring orchestral number that seemed a return to classic Bond themes in the mould of Shirley Bassey's songs for "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds are Forever". -AFP

Related story:
Bond girls: From Ursula Andress to Eva Green

Bin Laden movie to premiere in US ahead of election

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 06:06 AM PDT

WASHINGTON: A big-name Hollywood fundraiser for Barack Obama is releasing the first feature film about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden two days before the US presidential election.

"SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden" is distributed by Harvey Weinstein, the respected movie mogul who hosted the president at a celebrity-studded fundraising event in New England last month.

In a press release, the National Geographic Channel said it would premiere "SEAL Team Six" on November 4 after its president Howard Owens and Weinstein discussed "the insight the film is sure to evoke in all Americans."

The film - directed by John Stockwell and produced for theatrical release by Nicholas Chartier, who produced the Oscar-winning war film "The Hurt Locker" - will then go onto Netflix movie screening website.

In a trailer posted online Friday, characters are heard saying "We're going to be the team that takes out Osama" and "the president of the United States is going to be staking his presidency on this call."

Obama personally gave the green light for US Navy SEAL commandos to target Bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan on May 2, 2011 in a daring night-time raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

"This portrayal of the events that took place that night is moving, to say the very least," said Weinstein in the National Geographic Channel press release.

"I anticipate audiences will be as captivated as I was from the beginning to the end," he added.

"And I'm extremely proud as an American citizen to play a role in making sure this stunning portrayal over very recent American history is available in as many homes as possible."

Opinion polls had put Obama, gunning for a second White House term, ahead of Mitt Romney prior to a televised debate Wednesday in which Romney came out the victor in the eyes of most political analysts.

Weinstein, executive producer of films as diverse as "The English Patient," "The Artist" and the most recent "Rambo" movie in a filmmaking career dating back to the 1970s, is a well-known supporter of the Democratic party.

His exclusive Obama fundraiser in August at his seaside compound in Westport, Connecticut was attended by about 50 people, the Hollywood Reporter trade journal reported. Tickets cost $38,5000 each. -AFP


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Posted: 05 Oct 2012 04:39 PM PDT

Groupon's Biggest Deal Ever
Author: Frank Sennett
Publisher: St Martin's Press

Here is another book on a company, and a business model, spawned by the rise of the Internet. A behind-the-scenes account of the rise of coupon giant Groupon which is modelled on using coupons, or gift certificates, and the story of its founder Andrew Mason. He took a huge gamble when he turned down Google's US$6bil buyout offer and laid the foundation to grow the company.

Uplifting Service: The Proven Path
Author: Ron Kaufman
Publisher: Evolve Publishing

Whether it is in the medical profession, the airline service, or just helping your client to launch a new product, the demand for good service prevails in every sector of the economy. However, sometimes there is a tendency to relegate this to junior staff, who are guided by anecdotal cliches like "the customer is always right." Author Ron Kaufman takes you on a journey into a new world of service.

Apple Revolution
Author: Luke Dormehl
Publisher: Virgin Books

Here is yet another company spawned by the Internet! Meet the people who created Silicon Valley, the hippies who started the computer club, the executive who first sketched out Apple's logo and the engineers who met in a cardboard dome at Stanford University. And at the centre of them all is the late Steve Jobs, whose singular vision would will and drive Apple, Inc.


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