Isnin, 22 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Bad to the bone

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 03:58 AM PDT

When it comes to vile and loathsome villainy, TV certainly isn't a wasteland.

VILLAINS are truly compelling to watch, aren't they? Especially when they're ordinary people (not monsters or aliens) who are driven by very basic and ordinary desires: power, money, control … you know, things you and I sometimes think about.

Over the years we've seen many villains on TV in varying degrees of "evilness". In my mind, a character like Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) on Ugly Betty isn't really a villain; she's a problem.

Then we have Stewie Griffin of Family Guy. Stewie is a lot more disturbing than Wilhelmina – he's a one-year-old on steroids who wants to kill his mother, for goodness' sake. Here are a couple of my favourite (that's a funny word) villains whom I love to hate.

The first is Roman Grant, the prophet (aka polygamist leader) of Juniper Creek on the TV show Big Love. He is, perhaps, one of the vilest and most morally reprehensible characters I've come across on the small screen in a while.

Usually, TV villains have at least one redeeming quality about them: maybe it's the love they have for a pet or a child or something. Even Stewie has some redeeming qualities: he does show some compassion to his sister Megan. Sometimes, at least.

But Grant has absolutely no redeeming qualities and actor Harry Dean Stanton (at 82), does an excellent job in making him look as hateful as he behaves.

Grant excommunicates and expels a potential rival from the commune, Bill (Bill Paxton) - the grandson of his former leader. Grant is a megalomaniac who will stop at nothing in his quest for power and this includes manipulating the lives of his children (he has 31 children from 14 wives).

But my No 1 TV villain of the moment has to be Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) from Game of Thrones. Joffrey started off as a whiny, lying, spiteful spoilt brat who was heir to the throne. When King Robert Baratheon dies from a hunting injury, Joffrey ascends the throne.

As King of Westeros, he is still spiteful (in fact, more so), and just as whiny, smug and spoilt ... also, incredibly lily-livered. Yes, he is cowardly and pathetic and makes up for it by being a really wicked ruler. His reign is cruel and sadistic, and begins with numerous executions (just for the sport of it) such as that of Ned Stark (Sean Bean … weep!) in a pathetic show of authority.

Joffrey is not King Robert's son but the product of incest between his mother Cersei (Lena Headey) and her twin brother Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).

Cersei thoroughly spoilt the boy, resulting in his gigantic (unwarranted) sense of self-worth. He sees himself as a great king though he is nothing but a weak coward with great power.

Game Of Thrones has more than its fair share of villainous characters but Joffrey's on top of my list. Having not read the books, I can only hope he gets what he deserves – payback in spades! S.I.

** BAD guys on TV... I'm trying to think of some and it's strangely difficult, possibly because on weekly crime dramas (my staple TV diet), the bad guy usually changes and is brought to justice within the hour-long episode. Although, every now and then there are recurring characters like Arthur Miller aka the Trinity Killer (played murderously well by John Lithgow) or the Ice Truck Killer (Mark Sanchez) on Dexter: both of them were psychopathic serial killers, as was Nate Haskell (Bill Irwin) in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. And while they were only on TV for short stints at most, they remain fresh in the mind as bad guys with gumption. What makes a bad guy good to watch?

Take True Blood's Russell Edgington, for example. Once the vampire king of Mississippi, this 3,000-year-old fella is probably the oldest and most powerful vampire in Bon Temps. He's crazy and it took more than a whole tentful of fairies to finally get rid of the guy, but he sure gave us something to remember in terms of a creepy, you-don't-want-to-mess-with-this-dude-ever performance.

Then there are the "bad guys" like Mr Burns on The Simpsons. Charles Montgomery "Monty" Burns is the kind of boss everyone loathes. Ably voiced by Harry Shearer, Mr Burns is only interested in wealth and power and doesn't give two hoots about his employees, one of whom is Homer. And as lazy and obnoxious as Homer is, you just got to empathise sometimes when his boss makes a mockery of him.

One of my favourite bad girls, ahem, is Number Six (Tricia Helfer in the Battlestar Galactica reboot). One of 12 Cylons, Number Six is a humanoid version who is extra seductive, and she basically works as a double agent or infiltrator. When you're faced with a bad girl like that, what chance do you have really?

Sylar Gray (Zachary Quinto in Heroes) was another quite outstanding villain. A hateful mutant, Sylar was able to make your blood curdle, with his vile ways and icy glare, and Quinto personified the role with malevolent flair.

And that's about all I have for this episode. Oh wait, do Skeletor (He-man And The Masters Of The Universe) and Mumm-ra (Thundercats) count as villains? What about the Hash-slinging Slasher (Spongebob Squarepants)? If you haven't yet watched it, catch the Graveyard Shift which finds Squidward and SpongeBob working late into the night at the Krusty Krab, and Squidward tells SpongeBob the story of the fictional "Hash-slinging Slasher" ... which suddenly then becomes reality. It's way cool. – AMC


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Mexican police arrest three in killing of politician's son

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 08:51 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican authorities arrested three suspects, two of them police officers, on Monday for involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Jose Eduardo Moreira, the son of a prominent politician.

Both Victor Landeros, alias "The Iguana," and Jorge Tenorio, or "The Taka," served as municipal police officers in Ciudad Acuna, the northern border town where Moreira, the son of Humberto Moreira, ex-chairman of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was killed on October 3.

Jose Eduardo Moreira (R front row), the son of the former chairman of Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and ex-Coahuila state governor Humberto Moreira, poses for a photograph with others in Acuna August 28, 2012. Jose Eduardo Moreira, who worked for the state government, was found shot to death near Ciudad Acuna, across the Rio Grande river from Texas, late on October 3, 2012 the state's public safety director said. Picture taken August 28, 2012. REUTERS/State Government of Coahuila/Handout

Jose Eduardo Moreira (R front row), the son of the former chairman of Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and ex-Coahuila state governor Humberto Moreira, poses for a photograph with others in Acuna August 28, 2012. Jose Eduardo Moreira, who worked for the state government, was found shot to death near Ciudad Acuna, across the Rio Grande river from Texas, late on October 3, 2012 the state's public safety director said. Picture taken August 28, 2012. REUTERS/State Government of Coahuila/Handout

The three suspects were found in Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila state, with four different cellphones and two small arms, police said in a statement.

On the day of Moreira's murder, police said, Landeros and Tenorio tricked him into meeting them. The pair then handed Moreira over to two members of the Zetas drug cartel who took him away. His body was found a few hours later.

The third man, Roberto Barcenas, acted in an auxiliary role, providing food and accommodation to Landeros and Tenorio, the federal police said.

Mexican police are frequently implicated in violent crimes, as drug cartels infiltrate their ranks, bribing the poorly paid officers.

Roughly 60,000 people have died since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a military offensive against the warring drug cartels in 2006.

Humberto Moreira was a critic of Calderon's tactics until he stepped down as PRI party chairman last December after a scandal over his handling of Coahuila's state finances. The state's debt ballooned under his watch.

(Reporting By Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

NYPD informant who tracked militants quits, denounces police

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 07:58 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An informant recruited by the New York Police Department to collect information on suspected Islamic militants has quit and denounced his police handlers, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the case.

The informant, a 19-year-old American citizen of Bangladeshi descent, was recruited by the NYPD recently as part of an expansive intelligence-gathering program the department launched after the al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001. His assignment was to make contact with suspected Islamic extremists to try to determine if they had any inclinations to engage in violence, the source said.

A pedestrian walks past a line of New York Police Department (NYPD) cars parked at Times Square in New York, October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

A pedestrian walks past a line of New York Police Department (NYPD) cars parked at Times Square in New York, October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

On October 2, however, the informant, whom the source did not name, posted a message on his personal Facebook page exposing himself as an informant to people he had been in contact with. He declared that he had quit as a police informant.

"I was jus (sic) of pretending to be friends with ya cuz I honestly thought i was fighting terrorism, but let's be real, it's all a f...king scheme," the informant wrote, according to the source. "It was all about the money," he added.

The source said that the informant was not involved in an investigation that led to the arrest of a Bangladeshi man last week in connection with an alleged scheme to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan.

New York law enforcement sources have said that the NYPD has used foreign-born confidential informants to uncover several alleged plots by militants, including one involving a possible attack on a subway station at Herald Square and another involving alleged plans to kill U.S. soldiers returning to New York from Afghanistan and Iraq.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said that candidates to join the force as sworn officers must be U.S. citizens. But he said 20 percent of the department's recruit classes were foreign-born.

"We have a deep bench of foreign speakers whose first languages include Urdu, Arabic, and scores of others," Browne said. "Most CIs (confidential informants) perform invaluable, life-saving service; some don't work out," he added, while declining to comment on the specific current case of the informant who quit.

(This story corrected to show informant was U.S. citizen not Bangladeshi)

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball Editing by Warren Strobel and Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Britain to double number of drones in Afghanistan - report

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 07:39 PM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is to double the number of armed drone aircraft flying combat and surveillance operations in Afghanistan, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

In a new squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), five Reaper drones will be sent to Afghanistan and be in operation within six weeks, with control coming, for the first time, from terminals and screens in Britain, the newspaper said.

Pilots based in a high-tech site at RAF Waddington, a military base in England, will fly the recently bought American-made UAVs, according to the Guardian.

Britain's existing five Reaper drones, which are used to target suspected insurgents in Helmand province in Afghanistan's southwest, have been operated from a U.S. Air Force base in Nevada because Britain has not had the capability.

The government has yet to decide whether the aircraft will remain there after the end of 2014, when most NATO soldiers are scheduled to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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Cycling set for reform in wake of Armstrong scandal

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 06:55 PM PDT

GENEVA: World cycling officials said they could make reforms as early as this week in the wake of ratifying a life ban for global cycling icon Lance Armstrong.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday effectively erased Armstrong from the cycling history books when it decided not to appeal sanctions imposed on the American by the United States Doping Agency (USADA).

A damning report by USADA last week concluded that Armstrong helped orchestrate the most sophisticated doping programme in the history of sport.

He will now lose all of his results from 1998, the year he resumed racing after successfully battling cancer, and a year before the first of his seven consecutive yellow jersey wins from 1999-2005.

Having failed to catch Armstrong in over 200 anti-doping tests, the UCI believes it is now far better equipped and says it has the support of many in the sport, including riders who want to leave the murky doping past behind.

But UCI president Pat McQuaid said recent events had forced a rethink on how the entire sport is structured and run. He hinted at proposals to change how the gruelling three-week races, the Grand Tours, are held.

"This affair has been hanging over us for quite a while now and I would hope today is the culmination of this affair. We can now put it behind us and move forward," McQuaid told reporters.

"We want to take what we can learn from it and put in place measures to make sure it doesn't happen again."

The UCI's management committee, which can make changes to the rules of the sport, is set to meet on Friday.

As the fall-out from Armstrong's downfall gathers pace, McQuaid said issues like the return of prize money and the re-attribution of placings would be discussed, as well as changes as to how cycling is run.

"It's up to the UCI to look at the sport, look at team structures, look at race structures and try to create an environment for this to not happen again," he added.

"Let's face it, most of our problems revolve around our teams in Grand Tours. Let's look at that.

"I have some ideas I'm going to put forward on Friday, and we may make some decision on Friday with relation to this."

Asked if that would include the reduction in the number of nine-man teams, McQuaid said: "Possibly."

After an in-depth investigation into his former team US Postal by federal agent Jeff Novitzky, Armstrong's fate was virtually sealed by the 11 former teammates who gave damning evidence against him.

Some of those riders, according to the USADA, were coerced and, in some cases, according to McQuaid, "forced" into taking performance-enhancing drugs to support Armstrong's Tour de France campaigns.

"When reading the affidavits, you realise that most of the guys who were on that (Armstrong's) team had no intention getting into doping," McQuaid told AFP.

"They were coerced into it, and even one or two were forced into it."

David Zabriskie, a former US Postal rider who was told he must take EPO if he wanted to remain on the team, was one of the riders who testified against Armstrong.

"The way he (Zabriskie) was coerced and forced into doping is just mind-boggling. I just found it hard to understand," said McQuaid after reading the report.

Another American, Christian Vande Velde, was put in a similar corner before having to adhere to a programme organised by Armstrong's notorious sports doctor, Italian Michele Ferrari.

"I was in the doghouse and the only way forward with Armstrong's team was to get fully on Dr. Ferrari's doping programme," Vande Velde said in evidence against Armstrong.

The UCI's aim is now to "ensure that riders are not put under the type of pressure that these riders were put under, or can be put under, to demand results or deliver for a big star," said McQuaid.

In a later interview with AFP, McQuaid said the landscape has changed significantly.

"The athletes of today don't want to get into doping, and the structures that are being built around athletes by their professional teams now are much better than they were in those days," he said.

"Structures of support, not structures of doping as they were in the USPS (US Postal) team, who assist athletes, when they get into trouble physically or emotionally.

"I think the sport is in a very good place at the moment, we've had to deal with this crisis but I look upon this as an opportunity.

"When you look at the fantastic London (Olympic) Games as an example, the public and the fans were there and they understand what is going on and that a lot of work is being done in the anti-doping field at the moment.

"I'm not going to say this will definitely change things for the good. But I am confident that more and more of our teams and riders and stakeholders realise they don't want to go into a situation like this." -AFP

Federer opens bid for sixth title with win

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 07:01 PM PDT

BASEL, Switzerland: Roger Federer began his bid for a sixth title at the Swiss Indoors by beating substitute opponent Benjamin Becker 7-5, 6-3 on Monday to reach the second round.

The German ranked 83rd with one career title had replaced injured Frenchman Jeremy Chardy as the first opponent for the Swiss home hero and world number one.

Federer, who has won five of the last six editions at the St Jakobshalle where he got his start in tennis as a ballboy at the tournament almost two decades ago, needed to work to get past the persistent Becker, whom he beat in their last two meetings, the last in 2010.

"I was well-prepared to play Becker instead of Chardy," said Federer, bidding for his 77th career title this week and after more than 300 weeks spent as the ATP number one.

"You have to keep the game of these guys in mind, You don't play them that much but you need to know how they play,"

The winner advanced in just under 90 minutes after a first set which took an hour and fired 10 aces in victory.

But the Swiss didn't have it all his own way, missing on six break points in the opening set and going down a break in the second before finally settling in, taking charge and running out the winner.

"I don't know exactly how I changed it around," said Federer, playing his first match since losing a Shanghai semi-final nine days ago to Andy Murray, sitting out this tournament with a back injury.

"He broke me at 2-3 but I was able to get it straight back. It all went so fast at the end, but the first set was really tough."

Federer's win was his 65th of the season against nine losses. He owns an ATP-leading six titles in 2012.

"It is just so great to play at home as world number one after the season I've had," said Federer. "It's a wonderful feeling to be here playing at the top of my game.

"Sometimes things just all come together."

Federer is making his 13th appearance in his hometown tournament and now stands 44-7 at the event. Besides his five titles he also played finals in 2000-01 and 2009.

The winner will await an opponent from Brazilian Tomaz Bellucci, finalist at the weekend in Moscow, and Japan's Go Soeda.

Elsewhere in the first round, Julien Benneteau of France beat Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 while Pole Lukasz Kubot advanced over Slovak Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4. -AFP

Superb local fan support ensured a great time on and off the track

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 05:26 PM PDT

IT WAS definitely the most exciting weekend in my 13 years of covering races at Sepang.

I believe the record-breaking 77,178 spectators who braved the torrential rain on Sunday for the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix will agree with me.

Most of them were soaked getting back to their vehicles – and then had to endure the nightmare of a terrible jam on the exit road to the main highway.

But I am sure they will remember this memorable day for as long as they live for they were part of an historic occasion.

Yes, it was the day where not just one but two youngsters showed the world that Malaysians can be challengers on the world stage.

Who would have imagined that a Malaysian rider would start on pole position in a FIM World Motorcycle Championship race?

But that's what happened last weekend.

Banting-born Zulfahmi Khairuddin not only did that but he even had the audacity to lead the exhilarating Moto3 race and was only passed by German's Sandro Cortese on the final lap.

Zulfahmi, who fittingly romped to pole position on his 21st birthday, still ended up a history-maker as his second placing was not only a career first for him but also the country's first-ever in any world championship in motorsport.

His young German rival Cortese, whose win saw him crowned the Moto3 world champion with two races to spare, later apologised to Malaysians for ruining Zulfahmi's hopes of winning in his own backyard. Cortese even paid tribute to Zulfahmi for the great fight he put up.

The excitement in the paddock had hardly died down when another enthralling race unfolded before our eyes in the Moto2 race.

Malaysia's 18-year-old Hafizh Syahrin, riding on a wildcard ticket, slithered his way through the grid from 27th position to end up fourth.

He even led the race at one point before tyre wear held him back.

And mind you, this was a wet race where even the most seasoned riders got caught out.

To put it into perspective, Hafizh's performance is nothing short of breathtaking considering the fact that it is so much more competitive in the Moto2 class.

His achievement is even more astonishing when one considers that Hafizh collected 13 points to surpass Thai's Ratthapark Wilairot, who has earned only eight points as a full-season rider.

It was only a few years back that many felt we did not have anyone good enough to be given the wildcard slot to ride in our home race.

The slots are usually taken up by the Thais or Indonesians but credit should be given to the Sepang International Circuit and Two Wheels, the organisers of the Malaysian Cub Prix, for joining forces to initiate the Malaysian wildcard programme in 2009.

That was how Zulfahmi got his break to ride in the 125cc class in the Malaysian race that year before earning his full stripes the following year.

Hafizh was already earmarked as a future champion by Petronas and was absorbed into their talent development programme two years ago.

It takes many years and often more lows than highs before the fruits of labour are seen.

Many other riders had also shown promise but just as many too have fallen by the wayside due to the lack of proper support and guidance.

There are also the critics who do not have faith in the abilities of Malaysians in motorsports, hence, the difficulty in securing sponsorship.

But all that is in the past.

Zulfahmi and Hafizh made everyone proud to be a Malaysian at the track on Sunday.

The roars that greet them each time their bikes blazed past are a testament to that.

Well done, boys!


The Star Online: Business

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Pelikan advances on CSL share swap

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 06:23 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Pelikan International Corp Bhd advanced in early trade as investors were positive to the proposed share swap agreement with China Stationery Ltd (CSL).

At 9.10am, Pelikan was up 2.5 sen to 76.5 sen. There were 114,000 shares done. CSL was flat at RM1.06.

The FBM KLCI fell 3.53 points to 1,658.42. Turnover was 56.03 million shares valued at RM27.02mil. There were 87 gainers, 64 losers and 118 counters unchanged.

On Monday, CSL proposed to buy a 9.79% stake in Pelikan for RM50mil via a share swap, which would enable both companies to collaborate to grow the business.

CIMB Equities Research described the proposal by some Pelikan's shareholders to swap their share with CSL as a positive surprise.

"Pelikan should benefit from CSL's strong distribution network in China and elsewhere in Asia," it said.

However, CIMB Research said this development would however still not be enough to offset declining Europe revenues.

Is it time to buy Astro?

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 06:18 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd's share price fell due to the overall weak market sentiment and the perception that the shares might have been overvalued.

However, analysts said the freed supply of shares could also open doors to investors who failed to hop on the initial public offering (IPO) bandwagon. Affin Investment Bank Bhd, in a recent report, had valued the shares at RM3.12.

Astro shed 23 sen to RM2.77 or 7.7% lower on volume of over 120 million shares traded. The shares fell to an intra-day low of RM2.73.

An Affin Research analyst said Astro was a stock with potential although the upside might not be that interesting.

"It is a stock investors should own, provided the valuations are reasonable. Currently, it is still rich compared with its peers," he said, reiterating a consensus opinion among analysts.

"However, the current dividend yield is not that exciting and though the yield, at 2% , should jump to 3% in one or two years, it may not be exciting enough" he added. Affin valued Astro's dividend yield for the financial year 2015 to be 3.1%, from the current 2.3% calculated based on the RM3 IPO price.

Some market watchers added that Astro's sell-down could have been driven by cornerstone investors dumping shares as they were not subjected to any lock-up period.

Aberdeen Asset Management Sdn Bhd managing director Gerald Ambrose said the rules for the major pay-TV operator's listing had been somewhat "perverted", allowing cornerstone investors to cash out earlier than the usual moratorium period of a few months.

"The rules have been tweaked (for this IPO). The cornerstone investors were allowed to dispose of their shares unlike in the IHH Healthcare and Gas Malaysia listings," he said.

Ambrose believed the issue of Astro not setting aside shares for retail investors as well as the high price could dampen market interest. "Companies usually leave a bit (of shares) on the table. The fact that it has taken a high price and was oversubscribed could have failed to raise conviction among the investors," Ambrose said.

KLCI slips in early trade

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 06:12 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips fell in early trade on Tuesday, dragged down by losses in banks and Petronas Chemicals, though in razor-thin trade.

At 9am, the FBM KLCI was down 1.15 points to 1,660.80. Turnover was 16.56 million shares valued at RM4.89. There were 44 gainers, 25 losers and 68 counters unchanged.

JF Apex Research said market direction will continue to be influenced by US corporate earnings as well as other economic data namely, housing data on Wednesday and third quarter GDP on Friday.

Public Bank foreign fell 14 sen to RM14.80 and AmBank nine sen to RM6.30 with 100 shares done.

PetDag lost 12 sen to RM22.02, PetChem seven sen to RM6.44 while BAT gave up six sen to RM63.80. Sime was down five sen to RM9.75 and Axiata three sen to RM6.63.

However, UMW rebounded, up 14 sen to RM10.12 and Maybank gained six sen to RM9.10.


The Star Online: Nation

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Only court can decide on gold seized in raids, says Bank Negara

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 08:48 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Assets seized during investigation on criminal cases involving illegal financial schemes using gold can only be dealt with via court order.

Bank Negara Malaysia said in a statement that investors may file third party claim to the court for return of their money or gold, but they would only be notified when court proceedings were over.

The raids to find and seize the assets were to prevent the suspected companies from concealing evidence, other than preventing them from being lost as it would have negative impact on investors.

The statement said that the seized assets and gold during the raids would be carefully documented, accounted for and kept in a safe place.

It was issued jointly with the police, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry and Companies Commission of Malaysia in response to public queries on raids against companies suspected of conducting illegal financial activities using gold.

The statement said that the investigation is still ongoing but the investigation depends on the complexity and seriousness of the cases.

"The complexity level has increased due to the international dimension of such cases.

"This investigation remains a top priority and all resources have been mobilised by relevant law enforcement agencies to expedite investigation."

The public is advised to be wary of investment schemes that promise high returns with low risk and refer to relevant agencies when dealing with companies or individuals offering unlicensed financial services. - Bernama

Najib urges more companies to carry out corporate social responsibility

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 08:44 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has urged more companies to carry out corporate social responsibility (CSR) to help those in need for a better future of the country.

"It is the kind of corporate ethos that will help Malaysia achieve its economic aims without forgoing human development," he said at Parkson's 25th Anniversary Gala Night, here.

His wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Lion Group executive chairman-cum-Parkson Holdings Berhad chairman Tan Sri William Cheng were also present.

Najib said through promotions and marketing programmes, foundations and charity drives, Parkson, under the stewardship of the Lion Group, was working to make society stronger.

"Its focus is education and medical care - two of the most powerful tools to help those in need," said Najib.

"I've been informed that every year, the Lion Group Foundation funds scientific research and awards scholarships and loans to undergraduates, and Parkson also each year asks the public to donate school supplies and then distributes them to needy schoolchildren," he said.

Najib said the Lion Group Medical Assistance Fund helped the less fortunate access medical care, besides paying for surgery and medications and purchasing hospital equipment.

He said these were not just publicity stunts designed to puff up the annual report, but they reflected a deeper commitment to improving the lives of the underpriviledged.

"Parkson has recognised that a truly sustainable business is a business that sustains society. We need more companies who think this way," he added.

At the event, Najib witnessed the presentation of a mock cheque for RM750,000 from Parkson to World Vision, a worldwide humanitarian organisation helping the underpriviledged, as well as improving the quality of their living environment. - Bernama

Shahrizat supports Raja Nong Chik for Lembah Pantai

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 07:51 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has declared her support for Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin as the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat in the upcoming general election.

The former Lembah Pantai MP said there was no one more qualified for the post than Raja Nong Chik, who is an Umno Supreme Council member, due to his hard work in the constituency.

Shahrizat, the former women, family and community development minister, said: "Actually, I've supported Datuk Raja Nong Chik since three years ago but only today that I'm declaring it."

"This is because we have been working together for 15 years when I was the Lembah Pantai MP for three terms," she told a press conference with Raja Nong Chik also present.

Shahrizat was Lembah Pantai MP since 1995 after she defeated former chief justice Tun Mohamad Salleh Abas from Semangat46 with a 13,361-vote majority, but failed to retain her seat in the 2008 general election.

In that elections, she lost to PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, who had a 2,895-vote majority.

Raja Nong Chik said he always had a good relationship with Shahrizat although there were allegations that he had caused the end of her political career.

"I used to sit next to Datuk Seri Shahrizat in the cabinet. I admit that sometimes we had differences of opinion but we had never quarrelled.

"Actually, it's the opposition who very much wish to see us quarrelling. They want Umno to be divided so that they can easily win (the elections)," he said. - Bernama


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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'Trekkies' break world record at London convention

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 11:19 PM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Star Trek fans made history on Saturday by breaking the record for the largest gathering of people dressed as characters from the TV series at the Destination Star Trek London convention.

An estimated 1,083 costume-clad "trekkies" assembled at the event at London's ExCel centre, narrowly beating the previous record of 1,040 characters, which was set at the bigger, annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas in August.

The achievement will be officially verified by Guinness World Records within a few days, but organisers were confident they had topped the Las Vegas record.

The majority of record-breakers dressed in the colour-blocked uniforms of the Starfleet, with Vulcans, Klingons and Romulans peppering the crowd.

Trekkie Mark Whitfield went to extreme lengths to participate, wearing a full-body suit to emulate a mugato, a beast from Star Trek: The Original Series.

"It looks silly, it's just a gorilla suit painted white with horns on it. It's very, very hot. In fact, I was on the verge of collapse when a very kind person gave me a bottle of water because I dehydrated quite badly," he said.

Destination Star Trek London is the first live Star Trek event in Britain for over a decade. Around 17,000 fans came to London to celebrate the 46-year-old TV and film franchise, which has spawned six television series and 11 feature films.


Dawn Harris, 26, who had created an Orion slave girl costume and painted herself metallic green, said there was great enthusiasm for the world record attempt.

"There just hasn't been a convention in the UK for so long. So I think everyone wants to be involved in everything as much as they can. Everybody saw that guy jump out of a plane in space so people are drawn to things like that," she said, referring to Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking jump from a balloon near the edge of space last Sunday.

"Nerds like achieving missions. We've been set a quest and it must be achieved," Harris's fiancé, Ryan Croft, added.

Outlandish costumes were ubiquitous at the event, which saw Britain's first Klingon wedding on Friday. Swedish couple Jossie Sockertopp and Sonnie Gustavsson tied the knot in full Klingon attire and exchanged vows in the fictional and guttural-sounding language of the Star Trek characters.

The three-day convention also saw all five captains from the TV series appear on stage together for the first time.

The captains played by actors William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway) and Scott Bakula (Captain Archer) joined forces to officially open the convention on Friday night.

Speaking ahead of the opening ceremony, 81-year-old Shatner appeared moved when discussing the show's loyal and sometimes obsessive fans in an interview with Reuters.

"It's an accumulation of a lot of work and a lot of people travelling from all over the world here. It's sort of monumental in its worth," Shatner said.

The veteran actor turned filmmaker has released the documentary Get A Life!, which examines why fans attend conventions.

"The conclusion that I come to is that it's (Star Trek) mythological," Shatner told Reuters. "It's a desire for mythology that we don't have in this age."

Veteran film-maker Yash Chopra dies at 80

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 09:10 PM PDT

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Veteran film-maker Yash Chopra, known as India's king of celluloid romance, died on Sunday just weeks after announcing he would not direct any more movies. He was 80.

A Yash Raj Films spokeswoman said Chopra died in the evening. The film-maker had been admitted to a Mumbai hospital last week and was being treated for dengue fever.

"I'm in shock and numb, can't believe the news, the man who immortalised love, Mr. Yash Chopra is no more," actor Akshay Kumar said on Twitter.

Chopra is survived by his wife Pamela and two sons -- Aditya and Uday.

Born in 1932 in Lahore, now in Pakistan, Chopra was favoured by leading Indian actors with his movies seen as a sure-fire way to become a hit with audiences.

The film-maker proved his mettle with intensely emotional and tragic movies, many of which went on to become box-office blockbusters.

Chopra's Bollywood career spanned five decades, and at an event marking his 80th birthday last month, Chopra narrated how he came to Mumbai with 200 rupees in his pocket, hoping to make it as a film director.

Since then, Chopra made some of Indian cinema's most memorable films -- such as Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila and Chandni. His flamboyant style of film-making, movies filmed in exotic locales and mellifluous music became a hallmark, endearing him to filmgoers.

Chiffon sarees and the Swiss Alps are so synonymous with Chopra's style of film-making that Switzerland Tourism even offered visitors a guided tour of the places where the director filmed some of his most famous songs and scenes.

Riding on his success, Chopra established Yash Raj Films, one of Bollywood's biggest production houses, churning out at least three movies a year. In November, the film studio announced its foray into Hollywood, signing on actors such as Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman for its overseas productions.

Chopra also produced Indian cinema's longest-running blockbuster, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), which marked the debut of his son Aditya as director.

"I have never made romantic films. I have made films on human relations, and humans are complicated people," he said at the event in September.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan, with Chopra at the helm for the last time, opens in cinemas in November, eight years after his last project Veer-Zaara, a passionate tale of love across borders.

The film features Shah Rukh Khan, one of Bollywood's biggest stars, along with Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma.

'Paranormal Activity 4' haunts top of movie charts

Posted: 21 Oct 2012 08:22 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The fourth Paranormal Activity fright flick crept into the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office with US$30.2 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales.

Iran hostage thriller Argo earned US$16.6 million and took second place, studio estimates released on Sunday showed. Two-time box office leader Taken 2 fell to the No. 4 spot with US$13.4 million from Friday through Sunday.

Low-budget Paranormal Activity 4 opened short of distributor Paramount's projection for at least US$35 million in domestic receipts during the movie's lead off weekend. The film also trailed its predecessor in the haunted house series. The third Paranormal rung up US$53 million in its debut last October.

But with US$26.5 million more from international markets, the fourth installment already had grossed far more than its tiny production budget of US$5 million.

"We're thrilled," said Don Harris, Paramount's president of domestic distribution. "It was in a slightly more crowded market than a year ago."

The strong showing for the film bodes well for more to follow. "It is highly likely that we will do another," he said.

The new Paranormal chronicles the strange events that haunt a neighborhood after a woman and her young son move in. As in the earlier films, the movie uses a "found footage" style by capturing mysterious encounters with invisible forces on surveillance cameras.

The franchise produced by Jason Blum has brought in big bucks since the original hit theaters in 2009. The first three Paranormal films grabbed US$577 million in global ticket sales. Each movie was produced for US$5 million or less.

Receipts for "Argo" dropped 15 percent from a week earlier. The movie has earned glowing reviews from critics and a rare "A+" grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

Argo is based on the real-life rescue of U.S. government employees from Iran in 1979 under the guise of a fake movie production. Ben Affleck directs and stars in the film.

In fourth place, Taken 2 stars Liam Neeson as a former spy who is kidnapped in Istanbul. The action film has grossed US$105.9 million through three weekends.

In the No. 3 slot, family movie Hotel Transylvania pulled in US$13.5 million at North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters. Global sales for the animated film reached US$119 million through Sunday.

Alex Cross starring Tyler Perry debuted in fifth place with US$11.7 million domestically, was on the mark with the predictions by distributor Summit Entertainment.

The movie features Perry outside of the popular comedic role of Madea that he created. In Alex Cross, the actor plays a psychologist and homicide detective in hot pursuit of a serial killer played by Matthew Fox. The film is based on the character at the center of a series of best-selling crime novels by James Patterson.

Paramount Studios, a unit of Viacom Inc released Paranormal Activity 4. Argo was distributed by Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc. Taken 2 was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp. Sony Corp's film studio released Hotel Transylvania.

Alex Cross was distributed by Summit Entertainment, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment, in the United States.


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Metro Watch

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 06:50 AM PDT


HOPE worldwide Free Mobile Clinic visits communities in sub-urban and rural areas in Northern Malaysia and the Orang Asli settlements. Their Free Paediatric Clinic located in Lintang Macallum 2, has also been giving free treatments and medicine to children from underprivileged families. They would like to request doctors and nurses to join their team. For details, call 012-240 9152 (Joey Tan) or email to or visit


SYARIKAT Bekalan Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) is carrying out water cuts on those who have not settled payment. This affects Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Hulu Langat, Klang / Shah Alam, Hulu Selangor, Gombak, Kuala Selangor, Sepang and Sabak Bernam districts. Those who fail to make payments will have their supplies cut and imposed RM25 for the discontinuation as well as RM25 for reconnection of the water charges. For details, call Puspel at 1-800-88-5252.


IN conjunction with Deepavali, essential food supplies are sought for the Sri Lanka Tamil refugees in Malaysia who are living in distress. Items such as rice, sugar, milk, dhall, curry powder, cooking oil, Milo and biscuits are welcome. For details, call Eashvaralingam, the coordinator for the Sri Lanka Tamil Refugees Humanitarian Program at 016-688 0455.


A "Berry Berry Scary Culinary" cum art party for five to 12-year-old children will be held on Oct 27 at Livingfood Bistro and Cafe, Menara Tan and Tan, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur from 3pm to 5pm in conjunction with Halloween. For details, call 014-736 6799 or email to


YMCA KL and ADA is organising a youth camp titled "Developing The Leader In You". The camp will be held from 9am to 5pm daily, from Nov 21 to 23. The venue is at YMCA KL, Brickfields. This camp is targeted for youths aged 14 to 17. For details, call 03- 7886 7655 or email to to book a seat.


The second Buddhist Pastor Ordination Ceremony will be held in conjunction with His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche's 47th Birthday at Kechara House on Oct 24 from 7pm to 10pm. A free vegetarian dinner will be served to all from 5pm to 6.30pm. For details, log on to


St George's Institution Class of 1962 will be celebrating its 50th golden anniversary on Oct 26 to 28 in Taiping. For details, call James Foo at 016-489 0268 or email to

Bintang tackles US Navy men

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 06:50 AM PDT

WHEN the US Navy aircraft carrier USS George Washington makes its scheduled port calls at various countries, a team of about 30 officers take on the locals in a friendly game of rugby.

"We're out at sea for about six months in a year and when we do stop at a country, rugby is a great way to promote friendship and interact with the local population," said Petty Officer Second Class Sean Whaley, who is also the team captain.

Whaley, 28, who hails from Kalamazoo, Michigan, said only a handful of players from the team have played rugby.

"The rest of us are actually new to the game and we just keep recruiting people as they join the ship.

"I played American football before this and only started playing rugby two years ago. Rugby is more international and there's more of a social feel to the game where you play for 90 minutes and then you can go off to a pub and have a round of drinks with the other team.

"We are based in Japan and I play for two local teams there. Some of the best friends I have in Japan I've met through playing rugby," he said.

During their recent visit to Malaysia, the Navy team had scheduled a match with the local Bintang Rugby Club at the Padang Utara in Petaling Jaya at 3.30pm but due to a confusion in transport arrangement, a majority of the team was delayed in their journey from Port Klang.

In the spirit of good sportsmanship, the game commenced nevertheless with the two Navy players who joined a team of Bintang players led by Simon Farahar.

The rest of the US Navy team arrived at about 5pm and the Bintang team won the game 19-10.

Lieutenant Beau Brodtmann, 26, from Mississippi, said they usually trained at port and besides promoting goodwill, the arranged rugby games provided them an avenue to play a full game with the local teams.

Several Americans among the Bintang team supporters also cheered on the US Navy players in the spirit of patriotism.


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Return of Clazziquai

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 01:42 AM PDT

ELECTRONIC acid jazz band Clazziquai is eyeing a comeback to the South Korean music scene soon.

An official from its agency Fluxus Music said that the Love Again singers will drop a new single next month.

He added that the band is also preparing to release a full-length album next January, but details have yet to be unveiled.

Composed of Alex, Horan and Clazzi, the trio burst into the music scene in 2004 with its debut album Instant Pig, which quickly gained overwhelming popularity from K-Pop fans.

The group shot to stardom in 2005 when it appeared on the soundtrack to the MBC hit drama My Name Is Kim Sam-soon. Since then, Clazziquai's electronic pop music has been used in various television commercials, dramas and films.

The trio also expanded the group's career into the Japanese and Taiwanese music market by releasing albums there and have collaborated with famed Japanese electronic artistes such as Fantastic Plastic Machine and M-Flo. – Reuters

CNBlue’s new concert

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 01:42 AM PDT

ROCK band CNBlue is hyping up its fans by announcing its fourth exclusive concert tour in South Korea.

FNC Entertainment said in a press statement released last Wednesday that the Hey You singers are embarking on their yet-to-be-titled concert tour with the first stop at the Handball Stadium in Seoul's Olympic Park on Dec 15 and 16.

Having a lot on its plate this year, the band has concurrently been hosting its Japan tour, dubbed CNBlue Arena Tour 2012 – Come One, which kicked off in Nagoya on Oct 2.

Composed of Jung Yong-hwa, Lee Jung-shin, Kang Min-hyuk and Lee Jong-hyun, CNBlue made its debut in 2009 as an indie rock band in Japan with the album Now Or Never. In 2010, the band burst into the South Korean music scene with its first EP Bluetory.

CNBlue has since released a slew of hit singles and albums and expanded the careers of its members into acting on the small and big screen. – Reuters

Sparkling gem

Posted: 22 Oct 2012 01:41 AM PDT

Jewelry's former member Seo In-young (pic) will bring back some intensity to the stage with the release of her second solo single. The Cinderella singer released her dance single Let's Dance last week, according to her promoter Lune Communication. The cross-genre single is mixed with electronic and disco sounds, exuding the alternative music styles of the 1980s, Lune officials said.

Seo teases fans with glimpses of the new album through a series of dazzling stills. The singer broke into the music scene in 2002 as a member of female group Jewelry. She kicked off a solo career in 2007 and her efforts spawned hit songs like I Want You, Cinderella and Love Is Bitter, Pain Is Calling.

She garnered huge popularity in 2008 by appearing on MBC's We Got Married with South Korean rapper Crown J and has since starred in several variety shows in the small screen. Currently, the popstar is hosting channel SBSE!'s Star Beauty Show, which introduces South Korean female stars' favourite cosmetics products. – Reuters


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