Jumaat, 19 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Obama accuses Republican rival of suffering "Romnesia"

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 07:16 PM PDT

FAIRFAX, Va./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama turned his rival's name into an ailment on Friday, accusing Mitt Romney of suffering from "Romnesia" for emphasizing moderate positions rather than the conservative ones he put forward in the Republican primary race.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, October 19, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, October 19, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has closed a gap in opinion polls with the Democratic incumbent after giving a strong performance in the first presidential debate on October 3, when he sounded a moderate note on healthcare reform and the need for government regulation - highlights of Obama's platform.

After a lacklustre showing in that debate, Obama has delivered fiery retorts since, both in the second debate on October 16 - which many observers say Obama won - and on the campaign trail, with the election looming on November 6.

Obama told a crowd of about 9,000 in the election battleground state of Virginia that Romney has been backtracking on his conservative-leaning promises.

"He's forgetting what his own positions are, and he's betting that you will, too. I mean, he's changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping, we've gotta ... name this condition that he's going through," Obama said.

"I think it's called Romnesia," he said to hoots and applause from the crowd.

Romney responded at an oceanfront rally with a crowd of about 8,500 people in Daytona Beach, Florida, saying: "They've been reduced to petty attacks and silly word games."

"Just watch it, the Obama campaign has become the incredible shrinking campaign. This is a big country with big opportunities and great challenges, and they keep on talking about smaller and smaller things," Romney added, saying Obama has "no agenda for a second term."


The Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll had Obama ahead by 3 percentage points much of this week. Obama was again on top by 46 percent to 43 percent in Friday's version of the online poll.

Although Obama has lost his large lead in polls in several swing states since the first debate, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll issued on Friday showed the Democrat ahead in Iowa by 8 percentage points and in Wisconsin by 6 percentage points.

A PPP survey showed Romney ahead by 1 percentage point in Iowa, as polls gave few certainties to the outcomes of the race beyond pointing to a likely tight finish.

A CNN/ORC International poll conducted after the second presidential debate showed 49 percent of likely voters in the battleground state of Florida supporting Romney and 48 percent supporting Obama.

In an election mainly driven by the economy, new state unemployment data issued on Friday could provide momentum for Obama in some of the most important battleground states.

Unemployment fell in September in pivotal states such as Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Iowa. The jobless rate in Virginia held steady at 5.9 percent for a third straight month.

At his rally in a northern Virginia suburb of Washington, Obama took his riff on amnesia to great length, describing "symptoms" that coincided with Romney's positions on abortion and taxes for the wealthy.

"If you say you'll protect a woman's right to choose, but you stand up at a primary debate and said that you'd be delighted to sign a law outlawing ... that right to choose in all cases - man, you've definitely got Romnesia," Obama said.

"If you say earlier in the year you're going to give tax cuts for the top 1 percent, and then in a debate you say, 'I don't know anything about giving tax cuts to rich folks,' you need to get a thermometer, take your temperature, because you've probably got Romnesia."

Obama said his 2010 healthcare law, which Republicans have dubbed "Obamacare" and deride as a government takeover of the $2.8 trillion U.S. health system, is the cure for "Romnesia."


Romney's campaign shot back that Obama, who has focused a lot of attention on women voters since the debate, has promoted policies that have hurt women particularly.

"Women haven't forgotten how we've suffered over the last four years in the Obama economy with higher taxes, higher unemployment and record levels of poverty," Virginia lawmaker Barbara Comstock said in a statement sent by the campaign.

"President Obama has failed to put forward a second-term agenda - and when you don't have a plan to run on, you stoop to scare tactics," Comstock added.

It is not the first time Obama has used a distorted version of his opponent's name to try to score political points and energize his liberal base. He has used the attack line "Romney Hood" to deride his rival's tax proposals, essentially saying they would rob ordinary Americans to help the rich.

The term "Romnesia" was not invented by the Obama campaign. "Romnesia" appeared on Facebook to mock the Republican presidential challenger and has been used by liberal blogs and newspaper columnists.

Obama later returned to the White House before departing for the presidential retreat Camp David in Maryland, where he will huddle with advisers David Plouffe, David Axelrod and others to prepare for Monday's presidential debate on foreign policy.

Romney arrived in Florida, where he will spend the weekend preparing for that final debate with members of his brain trust, including U.S. Senator Rob Portman and senior adviser Stuart Stevens.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Daytona Beach, Florida; Editing by Alistair Bell and Will Dunham)

Related Stories:
In deadlocked election, one scenario: a Romney-Biden White House

As other polls show tight race, Gallup stands apart

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Boy dies in violent protests over new Panama land law

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 07:01 PM PDT

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - At least one person, a 9-year-old boy, died on Friday in violent protests over a new law allowing the sale of state-owned land in a dilapidated port city within the duty-free zone next to the Panama Canal.

Several residents and police were also injured in Colon, Panama's second-largest city, in a third day of protests against the plan, which the National Assembly approved early on Friday and President Ricardo Martinelli signed into law hours later.

People take part in a massive protest against a new government law, which allows for the sale of land in Panama's free trade zone of Colon, in Colon City October 19, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

People take part in a massive protest against a new government law, which allows for the sale of land in Panama's free trade zone of Colon, in Colon City October 19, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Hundreds of people burned tires and threw objects and shot at police, who fired back and used teargas to disperse the crowd. Local authorities instituted a 4 p.m. curfew.

Three police officers were shot and five injured, a police spokeswoman said. She said the boy was shot in the chest with bullets not used by police.

Local media reported as many as three dead, 16 injured, and 40 arrested, but police could not confirm that late on Friday.

The government argues that the sale of the land will yield greater revenues than continuing to lease it, which brings in about $33 million a year.

About 2,000 companies rent land and employ about 30,000 people in the Colon Free Trade Zone, the largest such region in the Americas.

Critics have denounced the government plan as an irresponsible political manoeuvre to cover government spending and keep the deficit low. They say selling the land will harm residents of Colon, which has one of the highest rates of poverty and crime in the tiny Central American country.

(Reporting by Lomi Kriel; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

South Sudan's vice president dismisses talk of military coup

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:37 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - South Sudan's vice president, Riek Machar, dismissed on Friday rumours of a planned military coup, saying it would be "unwise" for army officers to attempt a takeover of the year-old state.

South Sudan's Vice-President Riek Machar addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 27, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

South Sudan's Vice-President Riek Machar addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 27, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The speculation was serious enough to prompt South Sudan's President Salva Kiir to visit the headquarters of Sudan's army (SPLA) this week to warn that any successful coup leaders would be isolated internationally, according to the Sudan Tribune.

During a visit to New York to meet with potential investors, Machar laughed off the rumours of a coup as not a serious threat and said that a recently detained general had not been arrested for planning a coup, but for other issues.

"When I first heard of it, I dismissed it," he told Reuters. "The nature of the state of South Sudan is borne out of an exercise of (the) right to self-determination. ... It would be unwise for military officers to say 'there is a takeover.'"

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July 2011. The move came six months after a referendum agreed to under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war that left more than 2 million people dead.

Distrust between the neighbours runs deep and tensions erupted into fighting along the border in April, when South Sudan's army briefly occupied the Heglig oilfield, which is vital to Sudan's economy.

The two countries agreed late last month to set up a demilitarized border zone and resume oil exports from the landlocked south after South Sudan shut them down in a dispute with Sudan over transit fees.

The deal failed to resolve problems including where to draw the final border, what to do with the disputed Abyei area and how to end rebellions in both countries that each government blames the other for backing.


Machar said the government was working to resolve a small two-year-old revolt in eastern Jonglei state that has been further fuelled by a heavy-handed government bid to collect thousands of weapons left from the civil war.

Rights groups have accused the army of shooting, torturing and raping people during the campaign.

"All those who committed atrocities were apprehended," Machar said of those allegations. "It did cause resentment. ... We are concerned about it. That area is developmentally backward. We want it to join the rest of South Sudan in development instead of being theatre for conflict."

"We don't want to start a new state with a rebellion," he said of efforts to reach peace in the east.

Machar accused Sudan of recently air dropping weapons to the rebels. He said he hopes with the "new mood" between the neighbours that led to the oil and border zone deal last month Sudan "will stop meddling in the affairs of South Sudan."

Sudan's government and military routinely deny South Sudan's accusations that Sudan is backing insurgencies.

Machar said he had been meeting with investors in New York to urge them to spend in South Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries, on agriculture to make the state the "breadbasket for East Africa."

"Our people, their expectations are so high, so great, that with the declaration of independence they want South Sudan to be at the same level with neighbouring countries," he said. "This is our biggest challenge."

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

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Man’s addiction to gold

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 05:32 PM PDT

I AM not a gold bug. Gold is an artefact from early history. So much so it is deeply rooted in the collective human consciousness.

The last time I wrote about it in this column was two years ago on Jan 16. Then, as now, I am not the most optimistic about gold as an investment. But I am a realist. Over past 50 years, capital gain on gold averaged 2%-5% annually over each decade. Stocks were a better investment about double to three times the gold "yield." This is not surprising since gold has no real intrinsic value. It is sterile, making it difficult to value can't assign a credible PE (price-earnings ratio).

So long there is love, lust and guilt, there is a demand for this "barbaric relic" (Lord Keynes). But in this uncertain world, many see it as a sexy investment. That's why gold scams thrive. It is still scarce, readily malleable and will always command a price. Since the summer, even the darnest optimist got worried as prices lurched down to US$1,500 a troy ounce (from a Sept 2011 high of just above US$1,900), wondering whether the decade-long bull run had ended.

No longer. Since US Fed launched its third round of quantitative easing (QE3) in mid-September, gold has yet to catch its breath, rising 12.5% by Oct 6 to its highest level in nearly a year at US$1,795 per troy ounce. As reported, in terms of euro and Swiss franc, gold hit an all-time high this first week of October.

QE infinity

Sentiment in favour of gold has turned. Since the magic trio (the US Fed, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan) decided to create indefinite flows of liquidity (dubbed "QE infinity" i.e. they generate new streams of US dollars and euros with no limit), gold investors have re-focused their attention, based on fears of competitive devaluation, currency debasement and prospect of soaring inflation.

Bill Gross of US Pimco (world's largest bond fund manager) warned: If the United States failed to put its finances in good order, "bonds would be burnt to a crisp (since yields will rise, implying a sharp fall in bond prices) and stocks would certainly be singed."

He concluded: "Only gold and real assets could thrive." That's a clean dose of reality! Today, gold is a safe haven, a hedge and a speculative play. Whatever it is, gold has reached near mythical status.

To understand the role of gold in the international monetary system (IMS), it is important to appreciate its evolution since the 19th century. Under bi-metallism (1815-1873), gold and silver served as basic reserve assets with France and the United States managing the system.

Price ratio of gold and silver was fixed around 15:1, providing a fixed anchor exchange between nations on the gold and silver standards. But from 1862-1870, the United States left the gold standard (GS) after experiencing persistent inflation as gold flowed-in following trade surpluses.

In the 1870s, France and Germany went to war; so both left GS, thereby ending bi-metallism. Deflation set in as nations moved to GS, creating excess demand for gold (i.e. tight money) until 1896, when rising gold supplies following discovery of gold in South Africa exposed the world once again to inflation.

By 1914, Europe went off GS in order to fund deficit spending. So, gold flowed into the United States and the newly created Fed (US central bank) monetised the gold, forcing its price to double, followed by inflation.

From 1914-1924, the United States was the only major nation left on GS. US gross domestic product (GDP) was then equal to that of the United Kingdom, Germany and France combined. And so, other economies began to base their currencies on US dollar rather than on gold.

Germany went back to GS in 1924 to contain hyperinflation; the United Kingdom followed suit in 1925, and France in 1926. So the world returned to GS. Just as in 1914 when nations went off GS and created inflation, this time their return to GS created excess gold demand, thereby causing deflation leading eventually to the Great Depression (1929-1932).

Once again, the United Kingdom went off GS in 1931 and the United States in 1933. The US dollar devalued and the United States went back to GS in 1934 (and raised the gold price) and France followed in 1936. By 1937, gold became overvalued causing a US dollar shortage that lasted until 1948.

US dollar standard

The 1936 Tripartite Monetary Agreement established the new US dollar-gold standard, and US dollar became the only currency anchored to gold. The United States held 70% of world's gold by 1948. This system lasted until 1971 when President Nixon took US dollar off gold in August. The world then moved to a regime of flexible exchange rates for a brief period, with US dollar as the main intervention currency. For the first time, the world moved to a pure US dollar standard (ignoring gold) by December 1971.

But the real challenge was that this only works if the main "reserve currency" nation stays rooted in monetary discipline. Not unexpectedly, the United States subsequently pursued a monetary policy that was too loose and hence, inflationary.

In February 1973, the US dollar devalued once more. Since then, more and more US dollar started flowing abroad and the euro-dollar market was born. Eventually, to counter the weakening US dollar, the deutschemark assumed European leadership.

By June 1973, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) moved the world to a regime of floating exchange rates to put a lid on inflation. The United States and Europe struggled to manage flexible exchange rates in the midst of facing the most inflationary peacetime monetary policies: US inflation in the 1970s rose to 13%-14% per annum and the price of gold shot up above US$50 per troy ounce in February 1980.

Fear that the United States has lost its monetary discipline and the US dollar would continue to depreciate forced Europeans to act decisively to counter US dollar weakness and maintain price stability, by launching of European Monetary System in 1978. It severed the world economy into two parts. Gold stocks in the European Union were nearly double that of the United States.

By 1985, the Plaza Accord moved the world's exchange rate regime to a managed US dollar system of floating relative to European currencies. In the process, Japan was "forced" to appreciate the yen against US dollar.

Unlike what Nobel economics laureate M. Friedman had predicted that nations don't need reserves under flexible exchange rates, economies in practice are needing more and more reserves today under a floating exchange regime than they ever needed under fixed exchange rates.

Gold and SDR

So much for the past. In the 21st century, US dollar remains the world's predominant reserve currency as the euro is seen to struggle for survival. Today, it's just too feeble and unstable to pose a major threat to US dollar's reserve role.

Yuan of China (the world's second-largest economy) will certainly take many years to become truly convertible, let alone assume the role of a proper reserve currency.

The Special Drawing Right (SDR) is a "book facility" created by the IMF in 1968 (i.e. providing a unit of account in its books) to act as a new reserve asset to de-emphasise gold. Despite much promotion, SDR has remained a "wallflower" of IMS. It was initially given a gold guarantee, which would have benefited it today. But this was "stripped" in early 1970s when the price of gold soared.

With high hopes for SDR, IMF and the United States sold-off part of their gold holdings. Others, however, held on to eventually reap huge unrealised capital gains when the price of gold rose in the late 1970s. A few nations (notably the Netherlands and Canada) sold gold to help finance their large budget deficits.

By and large, gold holdings of all central banks were maintained (at around one billion ounces). Despite attempts to demonetise it, gold has maintained its allure. The mystique of gold is intact. It just won't go away.

Future of gold

Officially, the superpower of the day plays the central role in IMS. This has been true going back to the Roman denarius, Islamic dinar, etc as it has for the familiar pound sterling in the 19th century and the US dollar in the 20th century until today.

Indeed, the superpower holds the veto over the future of IMS. We saw this at Bretton Woods (BW) in 1944 when the "desired" creation of a world currency ("Unitas" proposed by the United States, and "Bancor" by the United Kingdom) fell prey to nationalist self interest.

As I see it, BW did not create a new IMS; it merely kept what was in place since 1934. To be fair, BW did create the IMF and World Bank to independently manage the IMS anchored on US dollar. It gave US dollar a new supranational status and a new legitimacy.

I agree with my friend Nobel laureate R. Mundell that in today's world, neither the United States nor the European Union nor China will ever "fix their respective currencies to gold. More likely, gold will be deployed at some point (maybe in 10-15 years) when it has been banalised among central bankers, and they are not so timid to speak about its use as an asset that can circulate between central banks. Not necessarily at a fixed price, but at market price."

Like it or not, the world stock of gold is going to continue to be regarded as a reserve asset. It can't be wished away. If nothing else, it will remain to act as a useful warning signal on inflation.

Gold is here to stay. It's going to be part of the structure of IMS in the 21st century. But not in the way as it had been historically as the centrepiece of GS. That's the unique part of its history.

Even "gold bug" French President Charles de Gaulle admitted that "the gold exchange standard no longer corresponds to present realities." But he maintained that a true IMS should act on "an undisputable monetary basis bearing the mark of no particular country." He meant gold.

Gold's role as an alternative currency will evolve and its price will reflect inflationary expectations. As of now, I don't see gold price collapsing since real interest rate (adjusted for inflation) are already set by the Fed to hold until 2015.

But why this obsession with gold? Some believe tying money to gold prevents its over-issue. That's not true. Historically, declaring a gold parity for currency has certainly not prevented governments from over-issuing currencies and experiencing price inflation. Again, others believe gold provides the discipline governments need to maintain price stability. Certainly not.

History is full of instances where mercantilist excesses led to inflation at home and deflation overseas, and vice-versa. Yet, there are those who believe gold provides a sustainable form of settlement for international payments. Not true. Growth of international commerce requires flexible access to an adequate money supply to meet its needs gold does not meet this need in any stable way.

Also, many believe gold serves as a good store of value. Again, no. Because it is sterile, it is not a good store of value compared with other assets. According to billionaire W. Buffett, US$100 invested in gold in 1965 is worth US$4,455 at the end of 2011; this same amount invested in S&P 500 stocks is worth US$6,072 after the same 46 years.

What, then, are we to do?

Gold is limited. Since old Egyptian days, the stock of gold in the world totalled less than 170,000 tonnes, worth US$9.5 trillion at today's price. About one-third is parked in vaults of central banks; close to one-half is in jewellery and ornaments; the rest is in speculative hands.

According to the World Gold Council, two-thirds of today's flow of gold ends up in China (26%) and India (40%). In India, it's almost all in jewellery, whereas in China, it's part jewellery, part investment.

Indian households hold the largest stock of gold in the world (18,000 tonnes or 11% of world stock). At today's prices, that's worth US$1 trillion or more than 50% of India's GDP. Up to 8% of India's household savings is held in gold. So, India's obsession with gold reflects a unique fascination, not unlike in other parts of Asia.

That's why Asians are often the target of bogus gold schemes and scams. We see this in Malaysia and Singapore where investors flock only to be cheated wholesale by so-called "gold guarantee" schemes that are clearly designed to defraud and sure to collapse. Simply because monies collected are unscrupulously invested in high risk, "get-rich" ventures that are fraudulent from the start and doomed to failure every time.

My advice: avoid investing in any of them at all cost!

Central banks will keep on printing money, having created US$9 trillion since the financial crisis. Inflationary expectations will evolve in time, off and on. And with it, occasional outbreaks in price of gold, leading to bond sales which drive-up interest rates. Use of gold for monetary purposes is an anachronism, capable of causing terrible damage because it is so utterly inappropriate in today's world.

Yet, the reality is that the world will not be able to find genuine financial stability until it comes to terms with and accommodate the dominant position gold now holds in Asian economic life.

Former banker, Dr Lin is a Harvard educated economist and a British Chartered Scientist who speaks, writes and consults on economic and financial issues. Feedback is most welcome; email: starbizweek@thestar.com.my.

Something WIQD this way comes?

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 05:31 PM PDT

TRY to keep yourself free on April 27 next year. It's Save the Frogs Day. Yes, there is such a thing.

Billed as the "world's largest day of amphibian education and conservation action", Save the Frogs Day is said to be the brainchild of the scientific community "in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of amphibians".

First celebrated in 2009, the annual event is slated at the end of April mainly because that's when frogs in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere are active.

The point is, every good cause deserves its own day, or better yet, its own week, month, year or even decade.

The United Nations and the organisations under its umbrella have a string of observances every year. Several are familiar to most of us, such as International Women's Day (March 8), Universal Children's Day (Nov 20), World Environment Day (June 5) and World AIDS Day (Dec 1).

Among the rest are a few esoteric but no less worthy ones: Day of the Seafarer ("recognising the invaluable contribution seafarers make to international trade and the world economy, often at great personal cost to themselves and their families"), World Post Day (the anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Postal Union), and International Mountain Day (which aims to "raise awareness about the relevance of mountain forests and the role they play within a Green Economy as well as in climate change adaptation measures").

Apparently, some observances need more time to make an impact. Hence, we have World Breastfeeding Week, International Week of Science and Peace, and Disarmament Week.

And did you know that 2012 is both International Year of Cooperatives and International Year of Sustainable Energy for All? And that last year was the start of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, UN Decade on Biodiversity and Decade of Action for Road Safety?

Despite this heavy schedule of activities, the UN should consider introducing another international observance in light of events this week. There ought to be a World "I Quit" Day (WIQD, pronounced as wicked).

Between Monday and Wednesday, a series of high-profile resignations have highlighted a few issues that arise when a key figure leaves an organisation, particularly when the reasons provided for the exit are vague or questionable.

On Monday, British-born financier Nat Rothschild didn't just step down quietly from the board of Bumi plc, a coal mining group he had co-founded and that's now grappling with allegations of financial and other irregularities.

His letter to the chairman was made available to the press and in it, Rothschild made scathing remarks about Indonesia's Bakrie family, his partners in Bumi. He directs his displeasure at the family's proposal to buy back assets they had previously injected into Bumi.

Rothschild accuses the Bumi board of not protecting the interests of minority shareholders, and offers himself as their champion. "I am determined to fight for my fellow investors and can do that better from outside the tent," he wrote.

However, a Financial Times journalist disputes Rothschild's attempt to cast himself in the role of activist investor. In the newspaper's website, Neil Hume points out that when Rothschild was facilitating the reverse takeover that resulted in Bumi today, it was highly unlikely that he had not known about the Bakries' track record for giving loans to affiliated companies and doing leveraged deals.

Hume labels Rothschild latest statements and actions as "some fairly low-grade PR".

There were two headline-making resignations on Tuesday. The first was that of Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, and the other was that of European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli.

The press release announcing the changes at Citigroup was typically bland and safe. "Given the progress we have made in the last few years, I have concluded that now is the right time for someone else to take the helm at Citigroup," it quoted Pandit as saying.

Of course, that didn't stop the media from reporting that his departure was after he had clashed with the board over performance and strategy.

The announcement of Dalli's resignation didn't skirt around the fact the European Union's anti-fraud office is investigating a complaint that a Maltese entrepreneur had used his contacts with Dalli, who's also from Malta, to try to gain financial advantages.

The statement from the European Commission says Dalli rejected the findings of the probe and he "decided to resign in order to be able to defend his reputation and that of the Commission".

On Wednesday, it was Lance Armstrong's turn to quit amid mounting controversy. Dogged by a doping scandal that threatens to erase his legacy as a great road racing cyclist, he resigned as chairman of Livestrong, a cancer support foundation he founded.

He says he left "to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career".

It was also on Wednesday that Corporate Malaysia had a newsworthy board resignation. Actually, it was one guy, Edwards John Richard, quitting as executive director of three interlinked listed companiesKluang Rubber Co (Malaya) Bhd, Kuchai Development Bhd and Sungei Bagan Rubber Co (Malaya) Bhd.

Richard, a British lawyer, joined the companies last December. Bursa Malaysia's listing rules demand that a reason be given when a director resigns. His reason in all three cases: "Differences in approach."

At the same time, Richard also declares that he has no disagreement with the boards of directors and that there are no matters that need to be brought to the attention of the shareholders.

It's situations like these that cry for WIQD, a day to raise awareness of the importance of clarity and transparency when a key officer resigns from an organisation.

Stakeholders are entitled to know the circumstances behind the departure. There are always push factors when somebody quits, especially if it seems that he hasn't done so to move to greener pastures.

Also, resignations shouldn't be used as gambits to draw sympathy, mislead people or gain the upper hand in negotiations.

It'll be great if the UN or anybody else takes the lead in pushing for WIQD. The top guys are expected to be forthright and professional, even when they're about to walk away. Or is that too big a leap to make for non-amphibians?

Executive editor Errol Oh is glad that last month, the UN General Assembly proclaimed June 1 the Global Day of Parents. But what will happen to Mother's Day and Father's Day?

Tan Thiam Hock is back

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 05:30 PM PDT

Readers of StarBizWeek would have noticed that Tan Thiam Hock is back to share with us his down-to-earth entrepreneurial wisdom through his column On Your Own.

Tan had taken a break in July after attending an advanced management programme at Harvard Business School in the United States from April to May.

Interestingly enough, he had ended his column of July 21 with these words: "Now that I have told you what I wanted you to know for the last 22 weeks, it is time to tell myself that I have run out of stories, fact or fiction. As such, I will be on indefinite leave from this column, hopefully snatching a Sunday golf game or two on a summer holiday with my family."

That was when readers refused to let him go, sending him a slew of email and SMS-es that necessitated another article the following week, before Tan was able to take his break.

In today's column, Tan shares his views about "get-rich-quick" schemes, a timely topic indeed. Check it out at Watch out for get-rich-quick schemes.

> We are also happy to note that our young writers have generated quite a following with their reflections through In A Sense.

Today we have Fintan Tan, Liz Lee and Daniel Khoo giving their thoughts on our built heritage, friendship and public transport.

They remind us that the views from the bottom-up are necessary if we are to help companies and policy-makers make the right decisions.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Cricket: Rain robs rusty Pietersen of batting practice

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:36 PM PDT

DURBAN: Recalled England batsman Kevin Pietersen was robbed of much-needed batting practice Friday when a Champions League Twenty20 fixture scheduled for Kingsmead was washed out.

Pietersen was part of the Delhi Daredevils team scheduled to play Auckland Aces in the Indian Ocean city, but steady rain over three hours forced the organisers to concede defeat 70 minutes before the cut-off time.

The batsman was added to the England squad Thursday for a November tour of India two months after being kicked out of the team for criticising teammates in text messages to South African opponents during a home Test series.

His only competitive action since came last Saturday near Pretoria when he scored 14 runs off 18 balls as the Daredevils defeated fellow Indian Premier League outfit Kolkata Knight Riders comfortably in a first round game.

The presence of Pietersen is one reason a star-saturated Daredevils squad are among the title favourites and their next fixture is against the Perth Scorchers at Newlands in Cape Town Sunday.

Often controversial Pietersen has been moving well below the radar since arriving in South Africa last week with few sightings of the 32-year-old by domestic media.

He was spotted in t-shirt and jeans walking alone in an upscale northern Johannesburg shopping mall with no sign of the mobile phone that triggered so much trouble during August.

"Could this be the same man who has made a career out of riling some of the people all of the time? Was this nondescript really KP, slayer of bowlers, both demon and dull?," asked the Johannesburg Times.

"It was. The expensive aroma of arrogance, even at 15 metres and after everything the world had done to Pietersen recently, was unmistakable," it added.

Pietersen was also seen at a plush nightclub in the same mall with Daredevils teammates, dancing, joking and showing a fondness for champagne.

Pietersen was the centre of attention at the packed club and proved he has more to offer than brilliant batting strokes as he hit the dance floor with Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene and Australian David Warner. - AFP

Tennis: Stosur sets up Ivanovic clash in Moscow

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:34 PM PDT

MOSCOW: Top-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur eased into the Kremlin Cup semi-finals on Friday with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 win over Czech Klara Zakopalova to set-up a clash with former world number one Ana Ivanovic.

Stosur, currently ninth in the WTA rankings, was in command from the start breaking Zakopalova's serve three times for a one-set lead in 27 minutes.

In the second set, Stosur was trailing 3-1 after Zakopalova broke in the third game. But the 2011 US Open champion then broke back twice to win the set and the match.

Stosur will now face Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion and fourth seed, who also advanced into the semi-finals beating unheralded compatriot Vesna Dolonc 6-4, 6-1 in an all-Serbian quarter-final.

"It's going to be a tough match as we didn't play each other for a long time," Stosur said about Saturday's semi-final.

"I'm going to be ready for anything. I shall concentrate on my own game, be ready to work hard and be also ready for long rallies."

Third seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated defending champion Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia to also advance. Former world number one Wozniacki won 6-2, 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 to record her ninth win over Cibulkova, who is 14th in the rankings, in their 12th head-to-head meeting.

"It was a very good match as both of us played very well," Wozniacki said.

"The difference at the end was that I could just keep my highest level up and I managed to win the most important points, especially at the beginning of the third set."

The 22-year-old Dane, who is currently 11th in the world but could still break into the top 10 by season's end, broke twice in winning the opening set.

Cibulkova pulled the scores level at one set all after winning the second set tiebreak, but early in the deciding set the 23-year-old Cibulkova needed treatment on her bandaged right leg.

The Slovak never fully recovered, unable to resist the power and precision of Wozniacki, who broke twice to take the set and the match on her first match point. In Saturday's semi-final, Wozniacki will face Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden.

Arvidsson, 46 in the world, saw off seventh seed Maria Kirilenko, the last Russian player in the draw, 6-3, 6-3. In the men's section of the event, Malek Jaziri beat Czech Lukas Rosol 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to become the first Tunisian player to reach an ATP semi-final.

"I'm really happy to reach the semi-finals," Jaziri said. "And if I'm lucky enough, why not make my first ATP final?"

In the Saturday's match for a place in the final, Jaziri will face second-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy who eased past Japan's eighth seed Tatsuma Ito, 6-2, 6-1.

Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic also breezed into the semis, beating Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

He will face fourth seeded Brazilian Thomaz Belluci, who beat Pole Jerzy Janowicz 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), for a place in the final. - AFP

Tennis: Del Potro, Tipsarevic roll into Vienna semis

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:29 PM PDT

VIENNA, Austria: Top seeds Juan Martin del Potro and Janko Tipsarevic boosted their chances of reaching the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals on Friday when they eased into the Austrian Open semi-finals.

Number one seed Del Potro, playing his first event in a month after a wrist injury suffered in the Davis Cup semi-finals, had too much class for Australia's Marinko Matosevic, 6-2, 6-2.

Tipsarevic, still jet-lagged from playing in Shanghai last week, enjoyed a swift 6-2, 4-2 passage after

Slovenian opponent Aljaz Bedene quit with a thigh injury.

The 63-minute result was welcomed by the second seed, who had played both singles and doubles the day before.

But there was disappointment for third-seeded Tommy Haas as the German veteran went down on six breaks of serve to Grega Zemlja of Slovenia, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, just a day after notching his 500th career win.

On Saturday, Del Potro will face Gilles Muller who beat Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-4 while Tipsarevic will get a re-run of a US Open match-up when he faces Zemlja, ranked 70th.

Del Potro and Tipsarevic are chasing two of the three remaining places in the eight-man World Tour Finals which start on November 5 in London.

With this weekend, and two more weeks of play remaining, every match counts.

"I had a good match but you can always improve some things," said Del Potro. "Against Muller, I will have to try and break his big serve and hold my own.

"I'm ready for a tough match, I need more matches since I've only played two since returning this week. I need to improve for the semi-finals."

Tipsarevic stands ninth in the race to London and is doing his best to keep his mind in the present.

"I would lie if I said I was not thinking about London," said the Serb, now 55-22 this season with a title from Stuttgart.

"It is in the back of my mind. But this is an important tournament for me. I'm trying not to think too far ahead. Doing so only creates added pressure which is not helpful.

"I'm only thinking about my next match - I'm trying not to care about London right now."

Zemlja said he quickly got over pre-match nerves to reach his first ATP semi-final.

The Slovenian, who often trains in Austria, broke Haas in the fifth game of the final set to run out the winner.

"I did well, I showed that I can beat a lot of good players. In the third set I felt his forehand was getting vulnerable. I just stayed steady with my game." - AFP

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Najib: 372 nurseries identified for immediate registration through new initiative

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 07:29 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Welfare Department (JKM) has identified 372 nurseries for immediate registration under Phase 1 of a new initiative to facilitate and expedite the registration of nurseries.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this number was from a total of 1,180 applications for registration.

"The initiative was introduced so nurseries which meet the department's minimum requirements in terms of development, safety and well-being of children such as training of minders, minder to child ratio, activity schedule and parental involvement under the Childcare Centres Act 1984, can register with the department straight away," he said in a statement here Friday.

Najib, who is also Acting Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said nursery operators previously required approval from technical agencies such as the local authorities, Health Department and the Fire and Rescue Department before they are registered.

According to Najib, 1,395 nurseries were already registered with the department until October this year.

"Nursery operators can contact the nearest district welfare office for registration purposes or by visiting ezi2care.jkm.gov.my," he added. - Bernama

Chor urges commercial banks to ease housing loan conditions

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:37 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung urged commercial banks to ease the conditions for housing loans, in particular to buyers under the My First Home Scheme.

Many housing developers have complained, claiming that sales were hampered due to potential house buyer's difficulties in obtaining loans, he said.

"Although the stringent terms are set by Bank Negara Malaysia, the commercial banks should also assess if the borrowers are able to repay their loans," he told reporters after opening the 2012 Malaysia Property Expo (MAPEX), at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre, here Friday.

Chor said the younger generation would be able to own homes at an earlier age if the commercial banks were flexible with their terms. "The flexibility will also boost the real estate and housing development industry and spur the country's economic growth," he said.

The three-day event is jointly organised by REHDA Malaysia and the Federal Territory and Selangor branches.

Eighty property developers and 14 banks are participating at the expo which is open from 10 am to 9 pm. Entrance is free. - Bernama

Bungalow owner: Contractor applied for approval for renovation

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:29 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: The owner of the bungalow involved in the roof collapse tragedy in Section 7, here Thursday had asked the contractor responsible for renovations to arrange for approval from the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA).

He said to his knowledge, the contractor had submitted an application for approval of the renovation end of last year.

"According to the contractor, they have applied for the approval and I expected the approval was obtained...I do not want to comment further on this matter," he said when contacted.

Shah Alam Mayor Datuk Mohd Jaafar Mohd Atan had earlier told a press conference that the owner failed to seek approval for the renovation plan under Section 70(1) of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974.

Mohd Jaafar said the bungalow involved was one of 26 bungalow units built in five different designs on land owned by the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS), with an estimated value of RM1.2mil per-unit at the time it was advertised.

He said out of the 26 units, four bungalows were undergoing renovation but only two had obtained approval for the renovation plan, while two others did not.

Commenting further, the businessman in his 50s who declined to be identified said the bungalow was purchased two years ago and obtained a certificate of fitness (CF) last April.

He said the renovation process began in July and was expected to be completed by year-end or early next year.

"When I was informed of the matter yesterday...I was shocked by the unfortunate incident. I would visit the house at times to see the construction work being done," he said.

The businessman also said a police report was lodged last night and he has provided the police a statement this morning. Meanwhile, Shah Alam Police Chief ACP Zahedi Ayob said they were collecting statements from several witnesses and victims to find out the actual cause of the incident.

"We've taken statements from relevant quarters and are still waiting for forensic reports from the MBSA.

"We also confirm that there are no more victims trapped in the rubble and rescue operations ended this morning," he said. - Bernama

Related Stories:
Owner of bungalow whose extension collapsed and killed 2 workers had no renovation permit
Construction worker killed in Shah Alam bungalow collapse (Updated)

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Worlds of Wonder: Spooky street sister

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 07:23 AM PDT

When there is something strange in Manila's neighbourhoods, they call Trese.

Trese Vols 1-4
Writer: Budjette Tan
Artist: KaJo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visprint

THE name's Trese. Alexandra Trese. She is the spook detective who protects Manila, the Philippines, from the evil and mystical monsters that roam its streets.

Her partners-in-crime are a pair of Kambal (which literally means twins in Tagalog) bodyguards – floating half-paranormal beings in theatrical masks who might remind you of the Matrix twins.

Trese's phantasmic abilities run in the family, and she became a Pinoy ghost-hunter supremo to continue her father Anton's fight against evil spirits after his death.

It's not like she had a choice – the capital city of her realm is overrun by underworld creatures who have crossed the "borders" for, yup, a better life. They not only control the crime syndicates of the city, they also rule the high offices of government and business.

Luckily, Trese has the backing of the city cops who have her number on speed dial for when their case turns weird, which in this horror/crime comic series by their homegrown comic writer Budjette Tan and artist KaJo Baldisimo, seems to happen a lot.

I've heard a lot about the Philippines comic scene, especially those who had made their mark internationally at DC Comics and Marvel (since the 1960s!), but Trese is my first Filipino comic. And boy, am I kicking myself for not venturing there earlier.

With Trese, Tan and Baldisimo created a dark world which melds the Metro Manila vibe to a universal intrigue that channels Warren Ellis and Mike Mignola. (The two would not stop raving about them in their prologues!)

Each volume is designed as an anthology of crime horror stories that follow a certain formula – there is a mysterious crime with some kind of supernatural genesis, neighbourhood ghostbuster Trese parachutes in, nabs the ghoul and solves the case.

Quite frankly, it could have quickly descended into monotonous drudgery if not for Tan's writing, which weaves engrossing grandmother stories that pack a surprise or two. There are inevitable traces of the X-Files, Twilight Zone and, most of all, True Singapore Ghost Stories, yet, he somehow manages to find fresh twists to the campfire tales and urban legends that we must have heard millions of times before.

Credit also goes to Baldisimo whose gloomy art manages to capture the tightly wound suspense of Tan's plots while pumping up the action.

For those wary of taking the creatures of Philippine mythology full on, really, you have nothing to fear. You will be surprised at how familiar many of the ghoulish criminals are, some even have almost similar names to our own ghosts - Manananggal, Tiyanak and sytan. There is even one that looks like a toyol (the little boy thief ghost).

Still, you might want to have a glossary of Filipino monsters and mystical beings on hand – not that your comprehension will be hampered without it, but your appreciation of the stories will be heightened with the insight.

This is most pertinent in Our Secret Constellation, story No.4 in Volume One. On the surface, it provides a cautionary tale along the vein of Twilight Zone. A young woman's life is destroyed after she is gang-raped, sending her brother out on a vengeance call. But as we later find out, she is attacked only because her brother had taken away her "weapon", to stop her from going out on her own vigilante missions for justice. Only those familiar with Philippines' legendary version of a Wonder Woman-like superhero, Darna, would catch the irony.

Darna is an alien warrior who gets her power by swallowing a stone from her home planet Marte. In Tan's version, her brother hides the stone for her safety, but instead leaves her vulnerable to her enemies.

Knowledge of the popular Darna mythos adds poignancy to this post-feminist twist in the story, which takes more than a swipe at Asian patriarchal beliefs.

Another is the last story of Volume Four, Fight Of The Year, about the burden of a national hero, boxing champion Manuel, who literally has to box evil for the future and happiness of his countrymen. The thinly veiled homage to Philippine's boxing hero Manny Pacquaio gives new meaning to the salutary phrase "nation's hope".

Amidst these two dark tales are the murkier yarns of your favourite lady-in-white accident victim ghost, suburban zombies, vampiric foetuses in the mall and an unholy conspiracy in a gated community.

Not a fan of True Singapore Ghost Stories, my main grouse with Trese is that the cases are given prominence over Trese's own story.

Sure, her genesis, as well as that of her Kambal bodyguards, is given in Volume 3 but beyond that, the character development in the series is sorely lacking.

The crumbs offered about our kick-butt paranormal "police" – who runs a monster-friendly club, The Diabolical, when she is not ghost hunting – are barely satisfying.

As enthralling as the paranormal creatures are, Tan and Baldisimo will need to start giving some page-time to their titular character's story if they want to get at least a quarter of the cult following of the popular Singapore series they seem to be emulating.

Trese is available at Kinokuniya, Suria KLCC.

All Woman And Springtime: A tale of two women

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 07:22 AM PDT

A riveting and touching book that takes the reader from the depths of despair to the heights of hope.

All Woman And Springtime
Author: B.W. Jones
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 372 pages

THE friendship between the two North Korean protagonists is uncanny, for Gi and Il-Sun share an intimate bond that words can't describe. The girls work in a clothing factory, sharing the ups and downs of their lives in a tightly-controlled country.

How controlled? Well, Gi and her family are thrown out of their home because of their accidental neglect of the portraits of the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, and his son, the Dear Leader Kim-Jong-il. Too harsh? Definitely! However, that is life in the world's least known state.

Il-Sun and Gi's relationship takes on a somewhat forbidden tone – but only to a certain limit, as though they are both afraid of crossing the line, fearing that doing so would jeopardise their closeness.

This book is astonishing and provocative at the same time. The reader is soon engrossed in the way the characters seem to desire something; something that is raw and tangible at times and yet unseen and ambiguous at other times. Author B.W. Jones doesn't skip a beat in describing her main characters, their strengths as well as weaknesses, all leading to the portrayal of a believable and likeable pair of young women.

As the book moves from one phase of the girls' lives on to another, we are left wanting to linger over each little anecdote with its humour and quirkiness, and sometimes its tragedy and helplessness. As Il-Sun embraces womanhood and all the surprises it brings, Gi hovers nervously on the brink, looking to her friend to fill the void within her.

When the time finally comes for escape, we are left gritting our teeth in suspense and anticipation. Will they make it across the border to South Korea? What ensues after the escape, however, is almost half-expected.

Little things like fast food outlets and warm showers are potently pleasant to the girls as much as they are foreign and unreal. But none of the modern conveniences make up for what the girls have to go through to make their way in this strange, foreign land.

Suffice to say that the book does not leave much to the imagination, as the girls learn to fight their own nightmares. By this time, the reader is left appalled by the way things are going for the girls and can't help but root for them as they make yet another attempt to escape their hard lives.

From one let-down to another, it seems impossible for them to run away. After their plan fails, they discover that their punishment for escaping may just be the way out of their dreaded lives. In the last chapters of the book, we struggle to find a happy ending (or maybe just a better ending) to the story. The girls have gone through too much and the immensity of tragedy in their lives is almost too much for the reader to take in.

In the end, the strongest survive, or so they say. If at first the book focused mainly on Il-Sun, then later it zeroes in on Gi, who finally finds herself in a land of opportunity, where her talent for mathematics is discovered, and we are left with the assumption that she pursues her dream of an education.

All in all, this book is riveting and touching, giving us a taste of poverty, homelessness and starvation while balancing the misery with moments of happiness, contentment and, most of all, the beauty of the strong bond between women.

The book ends rather suddenly but not without giving us renewed hope for Gi, as she embraces her new life. We see a ray of hope amidst the darkness that shines in the name of love, survival and the drive to persevere for a better tomorrow.

Sequel selection

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 01:00 AM PDT

Prince Of Thorns
Author: Mark Lawrence
Publisher: Harper Voyager, 399 pages

FOURTEEN-year-old Jorg Ancrath is the charming, immoral leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs who make their living killing, robbing and raping through the countryside.

But he wasn't always so. At the age of nine, the young prince witnessed the murders of his beloved mother and brother by the evil Count Renar, even as he was hung from a bush of thorns, setting him on his path of destruction. Now, he aims to retake the throne that is rightfully his, but dark magic and treachery await him in his father's castle.

Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Harper, 294 pages

IN this sequel to Firelight, we meet draki shapeshifter Jacinda and her family as they try to get back to the hidden draki community after Jacinda reveals her secret to save her human boyfriend – and draki hunter – Will.

Pursued by the hunters, Jacinda is ostracised by her fellow drakis for her actions, while her sister Tamra is now the favoured one after having manifested as a rare shader draki.

However, Jacinda finds some consolation in the arms of fellow draki Cassian. That is, until Will, who supposedly had his memory wiped of her existence, comes looking for her and asks her to run away with him.

Brothers To The Death
Author: Darren Shan
Publisher: HarperCollins, 240 pages

THIS is the last book in The Saga Of Larten Crepsley, the prequel to The Saga Of Darren Shan, which tells us the origins of the vampire Larten Crepsley.

The story starts near the beginning of World War II, with the Nazis trying to recruit the vampires as allies in their cause.

But there is another war a-brewing as Wester Flack continues to try to persuade more vampires to aid his vendetta against the vampeneze. The final straw for Crepsley comes when he loses a loved one to the vampeneze Randel Chayne.

Those who have read Cirque Du Freak know how the story ends for Crepsley, but the journey is more complicated than it appears.

Through Her Eyes
Author: Jennifer Archer

Publisher: HarperTeen, 374 pages

SIXTEEN-year-old Tansy Davis is used to moving whenever her horror novelist mother starts a new book. That doesn't make it any easier, however, when her mother packs them up and moves them back to her grandfather's hometown of Cedar Canyon, Texas.

In the house that they move into, the ghost of Henry, a troubled teen who committed suicide there decades ago, waits for someone to help him. Soon, Tansy discovers that she can experience Henry's world through her camera and a crystal pendant of his that she finds in the cellar, along with his journal and pocket watch.

But as she gets more and more absorbed by Henry's world, she starts to lose touch with her own.

Author: Robison Wells
Publisher: HarperTeen, 310 pages

AFTER the events in Variant, Benson and Becky have managed to escape the robot-run Maxfield Academy. However, with Becky wounded badly, they cannot run far. Benson discovers a town where people he recognises from the Academy live; people he thought he had killed, or had died. The pair discover that these are the real teens, connected to their robot counterparts in the academy via a chip in their brain.

Benson vows to free them, but that means going back to Maxfield Academy....

Department 19: The Rising
Author: Will Hill
Publisher: HarperCollins, 702 pages

IT is 12 weeks after Lindisfarne, and 91 days until the Rising. Jamie Carpenter, Kate, and vampire Larissa are recovering at the super-secret Department 19's headquarters – Britain's classified government agency for policing the supernatural – after the events in Department 19.

Dracula's ashes have been stolen, the vampires are gathering, and his Rising is imminent unless the department's operatives can find a way to stop it. The hunt is on to find out where the father of vampires is hiding before he can regain his full strength and become invincible.

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Movies Coming Soon

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 03:48 AM PDT

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D – Six years after the first film, we get a sequel that takes place ... six years later. Heather (Adelaide Clemens) is now a teenager who is haunted by horrific nightmares. These nightmares are – of course – real, something she discovers when her father disappears, and it is up to her to save him from the place.

Frankenweenie – Director Tim Burton presents a stop-motion film, in black and white, to tell a story about a boy and his dog. When the dog dies, it is somehow brought back to life with science, causing terrible consequences. Some of the voices featured in this film include Charlie Tahan, Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short.

First Look: About Time

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 03:27 AM PDT

Director and writer Richard Curtis (Love, Actually) has the talented Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson headlining his romantic comedy, which is scheduled for a release next May. According to Hollywood Reporter, the story revolves around a man and his ability to travel through time. Well, travel to his past, to be specific. McAdams plays the girl he falls for during one of these travels. This film sure sounds like a prequel to The Time Traveler's Wife, which starred McAdams and Eric Bana.

Also in the film are Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander and Margot Robbie.

Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel to wed this week?

Posted: 18 Oct 2012 11:14 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actors Justin Timberlake and fiance Jessica Biel will be walking down the aisle in a star-studded wedding ceremony this week in Italy, according to celebrity magazine Us Weekly.

The couple threw a casual pre-wedding party on Wednesday in Puglia, Italy, at the Cala Masciola beach on the Adriatic Sea, the magazine said. Guests included comedian Andy Samberg, who co-starred with Timberlake in an Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live digital short and the film Friends With Benefits, a romantic comedy.

Representatives for Timberlake and Biel did not return calls from Reuters for comment.

This is the first wedding for singer-actor Timberlake, 31, and Total Recall actress Biel, 30, who have been dating on and off since 2007. They announced their engagement at the beginning of this year.

Timberlake has previously had high-profile relationships with pop singer Britney Spears and actress Cameron Diaz.

Tennessee native Timberlake, who rose to fame as a singer in boy band N'Sync, forged a successful solo music career before moving into films. He played Napster founder Sean Parker in the Oscar-nominated Facebook film The Social Network and more recently starred alongside Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood in Trouble With The Curve.

Biel, who was born in Minnesota, started her career on television in the long-running family drama 7th Heaven. She broke into movies with a starring role in the 2003 remake of horror flick Texas Chainsaw Massacre and has since been seen in The A-Team and New Year's Eve.

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