Selasa, 23 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

In final stretch, Romney seeks to turn momentum into votes

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 07:33 PM PDT

MORRISON, Colo. (Reuters) - Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney kicked off his sprint to the election finish line on Tuesday, seeking to harness momentum from his three televised debates with President Barack Obama to energize supporters in an extremely tight race.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R) get off their campaign plane in Denver, Colorado October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R) get off their campaign plane in Denver, Colorado October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

While Obama was judged by polls as the winner of Monday's debate over foreign policy, Romney was reckoned to have performed well enough to pass the "commander-in-chief" test.

He has rebounded in polls since trouncing Obama in the first debate on October 3 and was only 1 point behind in a Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday that had Obama ahead by 47-46 percent. A Washington Post/ABC poll gave Romney the lead by 49-48 percent.

"These debates have super charged our campaign, there's no question about it," Romney told a rally in Nevada.

"We're seeing more and more enthusiasm, more and more support. We're going to make sure that these campaigns and the message of these debates, rather, these messages, keep going across the country," he told a crowd, estimated by his campaign at 6,000 people, in Henderson, Nevada.

In what was easily the biggest rally of his campaign, a capacity crowd of as many as 10,000 people showed up - and thousands more were turned away - to listen to Romney and musician Kid Rock at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, another state that could be critical to Republican hopes.

Romney was joined by his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan.

"We're in the homestretch now, and I think the people of Colorado are going to get us all the way there," Romney said.

He is expected to spend much of the last days before the November 6 election in the key state of Ohio. No Republican has ever won the White House without it.

Romney needs to "do better than (2008 Republican presidential candidate John) McCain did among working-class whites in Ohio," said University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala.

Polls show Obama slightly ahead in Ohio, but Scala said Romney can swing the state - and perhaps the presidential race - if he manages to rally Republicans in counties won by conservative rival Rick Santorum in the primary vote earlier this year.

Now that the debates are over, Romney has turned his full attention to voter contact and has no more fundraisers scheduled, although his wife Ann and Ryan will still do fundraising events.

As part of his message to voters, Romney and his campaign have made central to their argument in recent days that Obama has not offered an agenda for his second term.

"And that's why his campaign is taking on water, and our campaign is full speed ahead," Romney said.

Senior adviser Kevin Madden said Romney will spend most of his time down the stretch in Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and Virginia.

"We're going to be in multiple states in single days," Madden said.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Powerful quake strikes Costa Rica, no initial reports of damage

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 07:11 PM PDT

SAN JOSE (Reuters) - A powerful earthquake struck western Costa Rica on Tuesday, shaking buildings in the capital and sending residents running onto the streets, but there were no initial reports of damage or injuries.

Inhabitants of San Jose ran out of buildings after the 6.6 magnitude quake hit, following another big quake last month. Many went back indoors soon afterward, a Reuters witness said.

The quake was centred about 38 miles (61 km) south of Liberia, in Guanacaste province, at a depth of 24.5 miles (39.5 km), the U.S. Geological Survey said. The USGS had initially measured the quake at a significantly shallower depth.

National television station Telenoticias reported that goods fell off shelves in supermarkets in Cabano, a town in Costa Rica's Nicoya peninsula inside Guanacaste.

Both the Red Cross and the National Emergency Commission said no injuries had been registered so far.

The quake struck in a tourist area close to where the Central American nation was rocked by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake on September 5, which damaged buildings but caused no deaths.

Guanacaste's head of police, Rafael Angel Araya, said there had been no reports of damage to buildings or injuries, and that police were heading out to inspect the province.

"They're starting out with any buildings slightly damaged in the previous tremors as a precautionary measure because these are the structures that could potentially fall," he said.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Teen brothers charged with death of 12-year-old New Jersey girl

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 07:04 PM PDT

(Reuters) - Two teenage brothers face murder charges for strangling a 12-year-old New Jersey girl after luring her to their house with an offer of parts for her bicycle, authorities said on Tuesday, a day after her body was found in a recycling bin near her home.

The girl, Autumn Pasquale, was last seen alive on Saturday riding her bicycle in Clayton, the town of 8,100 where she lived. Her body was discovered on Monday in a curbside bin about four blocks from her home, a spokesman for Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said.

The teens, ages 17 and 15, whose names were not publicly disclosed, lived on the same block where the body was found, according to the spokesman, Bernie Weisenfeld.

The boys were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, disposing of a body, tampering with evidence and theft. It has not yet been decided whether they will be charged as adults, according to Weisenfeld.

The county medical examiner determined that 12-year-old Pasquale died of blunt force trauma consistent with strangulation, and there was no sign of sexual assault, according to the prosecutor's office.

The boys' mother contacted authorities regarding postings by one of the boys on Facebook, and a search of the boys' home turned up the girl's bicycle and other personal belongings, Dalton said.

"Today we mourn the loss of a young girl named Autumn Pasquale, whose life was tragically cut short before it really began," Dalton told a news conference.

"It's my hope that the arrests today provide a measure of closure that the individuals responsible for their daughter's death will be held accountable," he added.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Murder by myths

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 02:59 AM PDT

Another fairytale-based TV show hits our screens, but it's more about murderous monsters than magical creatures.

IF you've been scratching your head, wondering why homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) in the television series Grimm looks so familiar, let me put you out of your misery. Giuntoli bears an uncanny resemblance to Brandon Routh, of Superman Returns (2006) fame. They may not look identical when put side by side, but on my first viewing of Grimm, I kept wondering where I had seen Giuntoli before!

Now, Grimm isn't the first fairytale-based TV series to hit our small screens in recent times; that would be Once Upon A Time. The two inevitably invite comparison, but their premises are actually quite different.

Once Upon A Time is based on the idea that all our familiar fairytale characters have been exiled to a town on Earth by a vengeful spell performed by Snow White's evil stepmother.

Grimm, on the other hand, revolves around the concept that The Brothers Grimm were part of a line of familial "guardians", tasked with protecting humanity against "bad" Wesen, or fairytale creatures.

As we find out in the pilot, Nick, who works with the Portland Police Department, is a descendant of the Grimms.

When we first meet him, Nick is just starting to see creatures behind human faces that no one else sees. Wesen tend to accidentally reveal their true faces to those who have the ability to see them when they are startled or experiencing strong emotions.

He thinks that he is going crazy, but then his Aunt Marie (Kate Burton), who raised him after his parents died, comes to town. Marie – whom some viewers have described as an older version of Buffy Summers (from Buffy The Vampire Slayer) – is dying of cancer, which is why Nick is starting to develop or "inherit" his Grimm abilities.

Although she isn't able to tell him much before she dies, Marie manages to leave Nick a mysterious key pendant, and her trailer full of weapons and reference material.

In addition, Nick meets a reformed Blutbad, the inspiration for the Big Bad Wolf from Red Riding Hood, called Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). Although Nick initially suspects Monroe of kidnapping a little girl, and Monroe himself is naturally suspicious of a member of the family that killed many of his ancestors, Nick manages to enlist Monroe as his reluctant sidekick. This also provides Nick with information and help when he has to deal with Wesen.

I have to say that, despite the predictability of his character development, Monroe is quickly becoming my favourite character on the show, with some of the best one-liners.

The first three episodes have been about Nick investigating deaths that are usually related to the much-wider supernatural world he has just been introduced to.

Each episode starts with a line from a fairytale, which hints at which story and creatures the episode is referencing. For example, the second episode starts with teenagers Gilda (Amy Gumenick) and Rocky (Alexander Mendeluk) breaking into the homes of the three Rabes, who turn out to be Jägerbären – bear-like creatures.

And the opening line is from Goldilocks And The Three Bears: "She looked in the window, and then peeped through the keyhole; seeing nobody in the house, she lifted the latch." In addition, there are subplots in each episode that indicate that Nick is unknowingly involved in something far larger than his homicide investigations. Something that his very own boss, Captain Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz) – who is more than what he seems – has a hand in.

There are many obvious questions that viewers are probably expecting to be addressed: Will Nick's live-in girlfriend Juliette Silverton (Bitsie Tulloch) and his partner Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) find out about his secret? How will they react? Will Nick meet up with other Grimms, and how will that turn out? And what is this big conspiracy going on about Nick?

All I hope is that the show doesn't fall into the "monster of the week" trap. If it manages to stay away from that, and develop the characters and plots well, then I think Grimm can become a really gripping show.

Grimm airs every Thursday at 10pm, on Diva Universal (Astro Ch 702).


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

FBM KLCI is up, bucks regional bearish trend

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:55 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday October 24, 2012 MYT 9:55:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: The local bourse bucked the regional bearish trend in early Wednesday morning trade, as Asian stocks dropped after investor confidence was rattled by weaker corporate results in the United States and concerns about further deterioration in the euro-zone economy. At 9.17am, the FBM KLCI was up by 1.50 point to 1,666.40. Scomi Group Bhd and Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd were the most active in early morning trade. At 9.20am, Scomi lost 1.5 sen to 41 sen while Astro gained 3 sen to RM2.75. Among top gainers were UMW Holdings Bhd which gained 12 sen to RM10.10, Country View Bhd which rose 8 sen to 90 sen and Bhd which rose 5 sen to RM5.53.

Muhibbah Eng outlook intact

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:49 PM PDT

Muhibbah Engineering (M) Bhd
By Kenanga Research
Market perform (maintained)
Target price: 92.5 sen

We are neutral on the news that Asia Petroleum Hub Sdn Bhd (APH) had been wound up on Oct 19 and that the court had appointed an official receiver as a provisional liquidator.

As at the first half of 2012, the amount due from APH was up to RM400mil for the work done duly certified, of which Muhibbah Engineering had already made a RM160mil provision in the past years.

Going forward, the recoverable amount from APH is still too early to be estimated. Nonetheless, we think that the liquidation will somewhat be speeded up.

We are unsure of the amount to be recovered from the liquidation process.

However, the legal move above is expected to address the creditors' interests in the next 21 days, which include the debt to share swap exercise.

The management sees this news as positive as it will speed up the decision-making to solve the overhang issue in APH.

To recap, Muhibbah Engineering had previously proposed the debt-to-equity swap as part of the settlement of the outstanding amount.

We do not discount that the liquidator will revisit this debt-to-equity swap settlement with the creditors.

Muhibbah Engineering's long-term prospect remains intact, underpinned by its ongoing projects, which are worth about RM2.2bil, with the order book lasting up to the next three years. We are maintaining our numbers at this juncture pending further development on this news, such as the possible write-off of the remaining outstanding amount due from APH.

We have increased our target price on Muhibbah Engineering to 92.5 sen from 83 sen as we are lowering the rate of the write-off on the RM395mil receivables due from APH to 50% from 60% previously.

The risks include delays in project execution and a spike in building material prices.

Axis Real Estate Investment Trust
By Maybank Investment Bank Research
Hold (maintained)
Target price: RM3.04

AXIS REIT (AXRB)'s nine month to Dec 31, 2012 results (RM59mil net profit; +23% year on year (YoY)) came in as expected, accounting for 71% of our and consensus full-year estimates. The proposed 4.3 sen dividend per unit for the third quarter (Q312) (year-to-date DPU: 13sen) was also in line.

We fine-tune our financial year 2012 to FY14 earnings forecasts by -0.4% to 1.4% and discounted cash flow-based target price to RM3.04 (+24sen) as we roll forward the base year for our valuation and lower our interest cost assumption to 4.6% (-5basis points).

Axis REIT's Q312 net profit of RM19.2mil (+18% YoY) took the nine-month earnings to RM58.9mil (+23% YoY). The YoY growth in earnings was mainly due to: 1) full-year contributions from assets acquired in 2011, 2) new assets in 2012 such as its Seberang Perai Warehouse 3, Bayan Lepas Distribution Centre and Emerson Industrial Facility Nilai and 3) positive rental reversions.

Q312 net profit declined by 3% quarter on quarter due to lower occupancy rates in Kayangan Depot (KP) and Wisma Bintang (WB). The disposal of KP is expected to be completed by year-end, whilst WB is undergoing some enhancement exercises. However, we expect fourth-quarter earnings to pick up, boosted by full-quarter contributions from newly-acquired Wisma Academy, the annex (Oct 2012) and Emerson Industrial Facility Nilai (Aug 2012).

More assets to come. To retain its financial flexibility, AXRB has proposed a placement of up to 90.8m new units. Assuming an issue price of RM2.87 (a 5% discount to the current price), we expect AXRB's gearing to drop to 0.21 times (x) from 0.34x as at Sep 2012.

To mitigate the dilution impact on earnings, Axis Reit normally matches the placement with new acquisitions. Negotiations for the injection of industrial assets worth RR608mil are currently underway, we understand.

We fine-tune our FY12 to FY14 earnings forecasts to factor in: 1) the acquisitions of Wisma Academy and the annex, completed in Oct 2012 instead of Jan 2013, 2) lower occupancy rates at Wisma Bintang due to refurbishment works and 3) a larger unit base due to its income distribution reinvestment plan.

Telecommunication Sector
By CIMB Research
Neutral (Maintain)

AN empowered group of ministers headed by India's Finance Minister has recommended to the Indian Cabinet that telcos be charged a one-time fee for their 2G spectrums exceeding 4.4MHz in all circles.

Details such as the timeline and pricing have not been ironed out.

The Cabinet was scheduled to take up this issue on Oct 16.

Meanwhile, the government has also decided to hold an auction for 1,800MHz spectrum on Nov 12. The reserve price for nationwide coverage has been set at US$2.7bil (RM8.3bil) with an annual 3% revenue-sharing component.

We view any such fee as negative for Bharti Airtel (Bharti), India's largest telecom operator as well as for another Indian player Idea Cellular (Idea) as it will put pressure on their cashflows, with Bharti and Idea having to pay US$732mil (RM2.25bil) and US$443mil (RM1.36bil) respectively.

As for the 2G auction, we expect Idea to fork out US$380mil (RM1.17bil) and foresee intense bidding for the seven circles for which it had lost its licences in February.

On the bright side, we do not expect cash calls by Bharti and Idea for both the one-time fee and 2G auction as they should be able to fund them via internal cashflow and new debt.

What you should do is stay invested in Malaysia's Axiata Group Bhd, where India contributes only 6% of our target price versus 18% for Singapore's Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.

We like Axiata for its resilient earnings despite regional currency weakness. Catalysts are earnings surprises. Axiata is also the cheapest Malaysian telco and one of our regional telco top picks.

By RHB Research
Trading Buy (Upgraded)
Fair Value: RM2.18

WE expect the Iskandar region to keep up with its news flow after the opening of Legoland, Lifestyle Mall, Marlborough College as well as other key infrastructure and highways in the recent months.

Based on our recent conversation with the management, we believe Gerbang Nusajaya is ready to set in to maintain the growth of Iskandar and hence UEM Land. We have earlier mentioned that a reputable Singapore-based industrial player will soon take part in an industrial property development which is as big as 500 acres, out of the entire 4,500 acres land at Gerbang Nusajaya.

While we were unsure with the timing earlier as it could be hindered by the general election, we understand that the negotiations have largely been substantiated. The entrance of this renowned industrialist is a promising catalyst to create job opportunities, business activities and hence population, which is now the key to fill in the newly developed properties in Iskandar. Substantial spillover can be expected for the properties located near to Gerbang Nusajaya, namely Nusajaya, Medini and Leisure Farm.

(Editor's note: UEM Land yesterday signed a joint-venture agreement with Singapore's Ascendas Land International Pte Ltd to develop a tech park in Nusajaya.)

UEM Land has also made considerable progress since the sluggish first half. With a gross development value of RM1bil (higher than the original RM900mil), Teega @ Puteri Harbour (formerly known as CS2) is slated for launch next month. The management has guided good margins for this project given its design which will not incur high construction cost. We expect this project to receive a positive response considering the sell-out of Somerset as well as the 90% take-up rate of Imperia at Puteri Harbour. Both push and pull factors are working in favour to Iskandar and hence UEM Land.

While more projects will be spearheaded by reputable Singapore players, and amenities and infrastructure are all in place, the influx of liquidity driven by low interest rate as well as strong Singapore dollar and stringent regulations on home purchases in Singapore are the key drivers to pull the Singaporeans over to Iskandar. According to Urban Redevelopment Authority, new private home sales rebounded strongly by 84% month-on-month in September, signaling the significance of quantitative easing (QE3) that props up demand for properties.

Our forecast remain unchanged. We turn more positive on UEM Land. Strong news flow is likely over the next two to three months, and the announcement of the big names should lift the entire Nusajaya (plus Gerbang Nusajaya) to the next level. We upgrade our call to "trading buy". Our fair value is raised to RM2.18 (from RM2.05), at 15% discount to revised net asset value.

Union Investment RE plans to grow portfolio

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:40 PM PDT

Kuala Lumpur: Union Investment Real Estate (Union Investment RE) plans to grow its portfolio of property investments by one billion euros over the next five years with interest in Seoul, South Korea and Singapore.

It first entered Malaysia in 2007 when it purchased Cap Square Tower from Bandar Raya Development Bhd (BRDB) for RM440mil. The building is currenlty 40% leased.

Union Investment RE Asia Pacific managing director Ulrich Dischler told StarBiz the German fund made global investments amounting to 2.5 billion euros this year.

The Hamburg-based asset management firm said most of its allocation will be for purchases in Europe and the United States although there have an interest in Singapore despite the slower growth expectations and a lack of of investment opportunities in the city state as prices have gone up considerably.

"While Malaysia is more stable, and offers a better yield compared with Singapore's 3.5% currently, when measured against its three-year fixed terms of between 2% and 2.5%, there is still a positive yield in Singapore," he said.

The annual yield for Grade A buildings in Kuala Lumpur is 5% but the interest rate is a lot higher by comparison, he said.

The fund currently has over 300 properties. It has assets under management of some 21 billion euros in eight real estates funds.

Dischler said the fund's interest is in Grade A green buildings with certification, be it from Singapore, Malaysia or from the United States and with ready tenants.

"Multinational companies, if they were to rent, will need buildings which come with green certification," he said.

Bloomberg News reported on Oct 18 that Union Investment GmbH, Germany's second-largest property fund manager, started a 500 million-euro (US$655mil) fund to buy offices, shops and hotels.

The UniInstitutional German Real Estate, aimed at institutional investors, will acquire properties valued at about 20 million euros to 50 million euros, the company said in a statement.

German property has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the European debt crisis as investors seek a safe place to put their money.

Investors poured about 2.6 billion euros into open-ended German real-estate funds in the first eight months of this year, more than three times as much as in the same period a year ago, according to data compiled by the German Funds Association BVI.


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Armstrong facing big financial hit over doping ban

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:10 PM PDT

PARIS: World cycling's decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his record seven Tour de France wins could cost the shamed US rider millions, as calls mounted on Tuesday for tougher action to restore the sport's shattered image.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday gave its backing to a damning US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dossier that placed the Texan at the heart of the biggest doping programme in sport, erasing his record back to August 1, 1998.

But as the 41-year-old's major triumphs were scrubbed from the history books and officials vowed to up the fight against banned substances, moves began to recoup his prize money, bonuses and other pay-outs.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme is seeking repayment of nearly 2.95 million euros ($3.8 million) from Armstrong's successes in cycling's most gruelling and celebrated race between 1999 and 2005.

During that period, Tailwind Sports, the parent company of his US Postal Service team, took out a policy with sports insurance firm SCA Promotions, paying a premium to cover bonuses paid for his Tour victories.

SCA withheld a $5 million bonus due after Armstrong's sixth Tour win in 2004 because of doping allegations in Europe. The rider took the Dallas, Texas, firm to court and was awarded the cash, plus $2.5 million in legal fees and interest.

The firm's lawyer, Jeffrey Dorough, told AFP: "Mr Armstrong is no longer the official winner of any Tour de France races and as a result it is inappropriate and improper for him to retain any bonus payments made by SCA."

The Velonation cycling news website reported that SCA paid out a total of $12 million in bonuses to Armstrong over the years. Dorough said he could only confirm the lower figure but added: "Any sum that was paid by SCA would be in play."

Elsewhere, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper has said it is considering legal action against Armstrong to recover money spent defending a defamation case over doping allegations, which was settled in 2004.

The settlement was not disclosed but reports have suggested the case cost the weekly one million pounds ($1.6 million, 1.2 million euros).

Armstrong, who reportedly has an estimated net worth of $125 million, has already taken a financial hit, as high-profile sponsors including sportswear firm Nike have dropped him from marketing campaigns.

Business magazine Forbes said on its website on Monday that Armstrong could lose $15 million a year in endorsements and speaking fees.

On the legal front, he could yet face court action for perjury after swearing under oath that he never doped. The maximum penalty is up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.

The Armstrong case has cast a dark cloud over world cycling, with its most recognisable star fallen from grace and the USADA dossier outlining the extent and scope of the use of banned substances in the sport in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Current and former cyclists have said they feel cheated by Armstrong, who battled back from life-threatening cancer to stage what was billed at the time as the greatest comeback in sport.

Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain, though, said he still believed Armstrong was innocent, even as another of the American's team-mates, Norwegian Steffen Kjaergaard, admitted taking the banned blood booster erythropotein (EPO).

That Armstrong deceived everyone for so long has also hit the credibility of the UCI, who have been accused of, but strongly deny, turning a blind eye to his activities and even accepting donations to cover up positive tests.

The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, John Fahey, said Tuesday that the sport's administrators had to take responsibility for that time when "everybody doped", despite UCI president Pat McQuaid's insistence that only riders were to blame.

Fahey told Australia's Fox Sports that cycling would only regain credibility when the senior officials on watch during the "debacle" were removed.

"I don't think there's any credibility if they don't do that and I think they need to get confidence back into the sport," he said.

Scott Mercier, a former teammate of Armstrong, called for McQuaid to resign for not doing more to uncover the Armstrong doping scandal.

"When Pat McQuaid says that he has no responsibility, it's quite simply not true," Mercier told Sky Sports News. "Directors have to be accountable. The UCI has to get rid of Pat McQuaid.

"In any other business, in the same circumstances, the president would resign or be sacked. The sport can't change, at least at a professional level, as long as he remains in his position." - AFP

Tsonga hit by back injury

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:07 PM PDT

VALENCIA, Spain: French tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's hopes of making the end of season ATP Masters finals suffered a blow on Tuesday as he was forced to withdraw from the Valencia Open with a back problem.

The 27-year-old - who presently occupies the eighth and last spot for the November 5-11 tournament - had called for the physiotherapist in only the second game of his first round match with Belgian Xavier Malisse.

However, despite the treatment the tournament second seed - who got to the final of the Stockholm Open last Sunday - had to give up when trailing 3-1 in the first set.

The Frenchman's evening slightly improved when his closest challenger for the Masters spot Janko Tipsarevic was also forced out, retiring in the first set of his clash with Gilles Simon with the Serbian trailing 5-4. - AFP

Bolt ready to try football after running at Rio

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:06 PM PDT

RIO DE JANEIRO: Usain Bolt, the world record-holder at 100 and 200 meters, said Tuesday he likes his chances at starting up a football career after he retires from athletics after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"I would love to play," Bolt said. "I've played football. I've played charity matches. Something I really want to try.

"And after Rio, I'll just retire and just try and see if I'm any good in soccer, but I think I'd be pretty good because I play with my friends. I've played charity matches in Jamaica. I think I'm pretty good."

If he does make a leap onto the pitch, his signature "lightning Bolt" stance could serve as a stellar goal celebration move.

After winning Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008 and London this past August, Bolt will try to "three-peat" at Rio in the 100, 200 and with the Jamaican 4x100m relay.

Bolt, a Manchester United supporter, had looked at the long jump for Rio but wants to ease the punishment on his knees.

"The plan was the long jump maybe before the Olympics but I've talked to my coach (Glen Mills) and he showed a little concern about the fact long jumps always create problems for the knees," Bolt said.

"We are going to sit down and re-evaluate if we really want to do it as I might prejudice my opportunity to come to Rio so I might not do the long jump."

Even Bolt at age 26 must fight to keep Father Time at bay for four more years.

"Depends on how I manage these four years," Bolt said. "I'm thinking that if I do my time, try not to work too hard... I can work over those four years.

"It should be OK. I'm not really worried." - AFP


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Psyche of “natural born lovers”

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 07:16 AM PDT

What happens when a woman is insanely in love? Funny things.

What is the measure of true love? Why is it beautiful for some and painful for others? Releasing yet another of his quirky love stories, Hong Kong filmmaker Patrick Kong (also known as Yip Lim Sum) examines how love can drive a person insane in Natural Born Lovers.

The movie revolves around the relationship of popular pastry chef Tailam and neurotic nurse Meibo.

Things are great at first but soon, it becomes apparent that Meibo is an obsessive lover: she's suspicious, jealous, controlling and even slightly violent! The over-sensitive girlfriend keeps tabs on her handsome new beau by tracking his whereabouts, and even secretly checks his computer, cellphone, blog and social media accounts to spy on his private life.

This, of course, drives Tailam crazy and prompts him to investigate the reason why Meibo acts in such a way.

In separate telephone interviews with Kong, 37, and the lead actors – Hong Kong actor Chilam Cheung, 41, and Taiwan-born actress Annie Liu, 31 – Star2 delves into the psyche of "natural born lovers".

"It's actually inspired by a true story that grabbed headlines in Hong Kong recently, so I decided to make it the theme of my once-a-year Hong Kong love story," offered Kong, who made two romantic comedies, Love Is The Only Answer and Mr And Mrs Single, as well as horror flick, Hong Kong Ghost Stories, last year.

"There was a girl who continually harassed her ex-boyfriend after they broke up, and their affair made a huge impression on Hong Kong natives.

"This sort of thing may be scary to the victim, but turns out to be rather amusing when made into a movie. Also, I look at the whole affair differently.

"To me, the girl's insane behaviour is directly proportional to her love for her intended. Hence, the more she loves him the crazier she behaves," explained Kong, who added all the episodes of the female character harassing her boyfriend were completely fictitious.

Meanwhile, Cheung who plays Tailam, shared, "I've previously filmed a music video with Annie, and she is really a kind woman. But, the director has made it such that I became the kind fellow, while she morphs into this scary person.

"Since Annie is not at all like that, and the character is rather extreme, I imagine she also had quite a fun time playing Meibo," said Cheung who has a six-year-old son named Morton with fellow actress Anita Yuen, his wife of eleven years.

So, between him and the equally-outspoken Yuen, who is the "natural born lover"?

"I'm the clingy one. I even check her WhatsApp!" teased Cheung, alluding to the excessively neurotic antics of the "obsessive lover" in Natural Born Lovers.

The dashing actor is also featured in two other movies, The Grandmasters and Uncle I Love You, as well as a TVB series Triumph In The Skies 2, this year.

Playing the girl who becomes crazy for love, Liu opined, "If you look at things from her point of view, you will sympathise with her. She finds many ways to love Chilam's character but forgets how to love herself.

"She does all these things, and ends up hurt too, but cannot stop herself. Unfortunately she doesn't realise this because she is a very insecure girl," said Liu, who is playing the character of an unreasonable girl for the first time.

Commenting on the extreme behaviour of the nurse character, Liu reasoned, "Those who watch this movie, whether male or female, will probably see themselves reflected in the characters in some way or other. For those who have devoted so much of themselves to their love, it is too hurtful to be so easily forgotten after a breakup."

Liu also stars in the last episode (titled Artist) of the 10-episode mainland Chinese "nano-movie", Refresh 3 + 7.

Natural Born Lovers opens nationwide on Thursday.

Game on

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 03:51 AM PDT

Visit Silent Hill: Revelation 3D and get your fill of nightmarish things and beings.

ON the set of Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, actress Adelaide Clemens would give a piercing scream each time she did a new take. Far from being a scream queen, this was her way of getting ready to play the main character Heather Mason in the film, a sequel to the 2006 film based on the popular video game.

In a telephone interview with director Michael J. Bassett – who was doing press rounds for Silent Hill in New York – he and his crew would take off their headphones when Clemens was about to give one of her earth-shattering screams.

"When we first started shooting, Adelaide needed to find a way of getting herself into the place where Heather would be in this fearful world," said Bassett, whose previous directorial work was Solomon Kane.

"What she finally discovered is that, if she gave a really, really, ear-piercing scream before every take, she could really focus her energy. It was important to her to find that special place, and so we have hundreds and hundreds of out-takes of her screaming that we could do a compilation and put in the DVD."

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D picks up where the first film left off six years ago.

The little girl Sharon who lost her mother in the desolate town in Silent Hill is now 18-year-old Heather who is on the run with her father (Sean Bean). While she doesn't know why they are constantly moving, she finally figures out it may have something to do with her nightmares of – wait for it – a desolate town where terrible creatures and things live. But this new knowledge comes with a price – her father is taken to this God-awful place and it is up to her to save him. Naturally, the journey is not easy.

Having been a fan of the video game and the 2006 film, Bassett found the opportunity to immerse himself in the world of Silent Hill too good to resist.

"When I was younger and played the game, I didn't realise it had details and complex storytelling. Only when I went back (to the game) to research for the film, did I notice the level of thought that is incorporated even in the smallest of characters."

When producer Samuel Hadida and Bassett came together to work on the project, they talked about how they were going to put the movie together as the first movie ended in a particular way.

Bassett was also in a conundrum as to which game was the best one to adapt to film. Then again, Bassett also discovered that having too much information could be overwhelming.

After some trial and error as to how to approach the story, he decided to concentrate on the third game of Silent Hill to further the story in the film.

"When you have hours and hours of game-play, there is lots of material. So I had to figure out what was the film-storytelling and game-storytelling. The real challenge is to put a human story in the middle of a nightmarish fantasy," he said.

The human element materialised when producer Hadida – serendipitously – spotted Clemens at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and immediately thought that she looked just like the character in the third game of Silent Hill. Bassett shared that, at that point, Hadida didn't even know if the young lady from Australia was an actress.

"Thank God she was," recalled Bassett. "Playing Heather is very tricky – she's someone who chooses to go into this horrifying world to rescue her father so she has to have strength and at the same time a kind of vulnerability.

"Adelaide really captured that. I direct very physical movies and Adelaide got bruised and beaten up all the time, but she never backed down or said I need five minutes to get it all back together. She's just wonderful."

While having a young woman in danger has always been a tradition in horror films, it is not unusual that this female protagonist ends up as the one who saves the day.

Bassett felt that having a woman as a lead works well in this genre because, unlike a man, she has to find her strength before being empowered. Hence, the male character – played by Kit Harrington – is there not to save the girl, but to help and support our heroine.

Another dimension

An element that goes hand-in-hand with any horror-based film is the monsters. Of late, filmmakers have opted to create these other-worldly creatures digitally. Not Bassett though. Well, not if he can help it.

Wanting to keep things real, Bassett and his "creature team" comprising Patrick Tatopoulos and Paul Jones designed new monsters on top of the ones that they've taken from the game.

"One of the things about the monsters in Silent Hill is they have to grow out of the psychology of the character. I have to make sure in some ways they mean something to Heather in a deep, sort of, dark psychological way.

"In the Silent Hill mythology, the executioner is from way back during the British Colony, so I had to find a way to make him resonate with Heather. There are really, really, cool monsters."

The creature designers, a special make-up artist and creature effects designer all worked together to bring these cool monsters to life. There is the fan favourite, The Nurses (these really grotesque, but sexy, ladies in strange latex skin-tight uniforms who are out to disembowel you), portrayed by dancers with more, erm, flexibility and The Missionary, the Silent Hill assassin with a featureless face.

Of course, not all monsters can be done up with prosthetics and make up. The Mannequin Monster – a creature with human body parts and spider-like moves – is a fully digital creature. Nonetheless, Bassett prefers to keep CGI creatures to a minimum.

"It's so much better to have an actor in prosthetic make-up standing in front of the performer. As a director, I can direct the monsters on the set ... there's really no comparison with something that's not there. (With digital monsters) an audience would psychologically know and that divorces them from the fear."

To heighten the horror element further, Bassett turned to using 3D in the film. Bassett confessed that he wasn't initially a fan of 3D because a lot of films he's seen in 3D were done in post-production, rendering the extra dimension as a mere gimmick and the end product not looking very good. So what he decided to do was to shoot the film live in 3D, which would allow him to use it as a tool to enhance the viewing experience.

"On the set, you can see the exact dimension you are going to put in that shot. That was something that was of importance to me, to make the best possible use of it – I realise that it was an interesting and creative tool.

"In (Silent Hill: Revelation 3D), we have the real world, we have the fog world and we have the world of darkness. In the fog world, we have ash falling all the time and it's really beautiful in 3D. It was something that was worth exploring. Worthwhile, to me, visually.

"My concern is the audiences who don't like 3D will go and see the 2D, and the truth is there is no real 2D version of this movie. It is shot in 3D, and the editing is done in 3D pacing, so if you choose to see it in 2D, then you are not seeing the movie I made. I would encourage the audience to watch it in 3D."

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D begins its scream fest this Thursday.

'Songlap' creating waves

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 02:08 AM PDT

THE critically-acclaimed local film Songlap (by Grand Brilliance), released in Malaysia 10 months ago, is now creating waves in the international film arena. The movie was recently seen in two prestigious international film festivals in Hamburg, Germany and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

At Filmfest Hamburg, Songlap was one of the 151 films that made up this year's impressive line up. Filmfest Hamburg ran from Sept 27-Oct 6, and was held at seven venues across Hamburg, receiving an audience of around 40,000 people.

Among the celebrated guests who attended the fest were Hamburg mayor, Olaf Scholz, and renowned film and stage actor, Willem Dafoe.

Songlap's co-director Effendee Mazlan was on-hand to introduce the film in person. The movie was screened twice in the Asia Express section of the festival, a new section featuring seven films that take viewers on a fascinating cinematic trip through unusual and emerging Asian film cultures.

Meanwhile, the invitation from the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) marks the Middle Eastern premiere of Songlap. ADFF is now in its sixth year and ran from Oct 11-20 at two glitzy locations: Marina Mall and Emirates Palace.

Effendee presented Songlap in the ADFF when it was screened at the New Horizons competition section. The New Horizons section featured a selection of 17 international feature-length narrative films by first-time directors.

"We are very honoured to receive these two invitations and extremely thankful to be given the chance to share this film with new audiences and open their eyes to what Malaysian filmmakers can do," said Tengku Iesta Tengku Alaudin, general manager of Grand Brilliance.

Songlap deftly probes the lives of two brothers, portrayed by Shaheizy Sam and Syafie Naswip, who are tangled in an illegal human trafficking syndicate.

The film takes you through the gritty underbelly of Kuala Lumpur's sprawling metropolis and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you join the brothers in their search for utopia.

Songlap was also screened at the 14th Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy in April and at the Asian Pacific Film Festival in Los Angeles, California in May.


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Selangor govt hypocrite over IPP, toll issues, says Khairy

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 08:35 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin has labelled the Selangor government hypocrite for raising the independent power producers (IPP) and toll issues while at the same time has interest in companies involved in both activities.

Khairy said the Pakatan Rakyat state government, which often criticised the federal government over the two issues, has interest in first generation IPP, Genting Sanyen (M) Sdn Bhd and Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas).

"They criticise, oppose, but at the same time receive benefits in the form of dividends from the IPP investment. It shows their hypocrisy and unapologetic nature.

"The investment maybe made before they took over Selangor but it has been four years and no efforts were done to divest the shares or investment in Genting Sanyen," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

The Umno Youth chief said that if they did not agree in principle with the investment, it was only proper for the Selangor government to dispose the shares.

Khairy said Worlwide Holdings Berhad, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) has 25 percent stake in Genting Sanyen.

It is also hypocritical of Pakatan Rakyat which promised to abolish highway toll while the Selangor government has 20 percent stake in Kesas Expressway. - Bernama

13 who impersonate Kedah royal family members nabbed

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 08:08 AM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: Thirteen men were detained by the police on suspicion of impersonating the Kedah royal family members at a hotel at Jalan Penang here.

Penang police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said the suspects, aged between 38 and 61, were detained about 3pm at a ceremony to appoint members of the Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islamiah Malaysia Diraja where they were guests-of-honour.

He said the function, scheduled from 3pm to 5pm at the hotel, was attended by about 120 guests, comprising individuals involved with the management of entertainment outlets in the state.

Following the raid which was based on public information, police seized a BMW car, documents and sashes, which the suspects claimed belonged to them. - Bernama

Banting murders trial: Accused denies conspiring to not involve Pathmanabhan

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 05:43 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: The second accused in the murder trial of cosmetics millionairess Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three others denied he had conspired with two other accused to not involve former lawyer, N.Pathmanabhan in the case.

T. Thilaiyalagan, 21, also refuted Deputy Public Prosecutor Ishak Mohd Yusoff's suggestion during cross-examination that it was the reason why he told the court he did not know Pathmanabhan's mobile phone number.

He also denied that Pathmanabhan had gone to Ladang Gadong, Banting, on Sept 6 2010 to meet him and the other accused, R.Matan and R. Kathavarayan.

"I put it to you that the meeting on that day was for Pathmanabhan to brief you on what to do if you were caught by the police," said Ishak, to which Thilaiyalagan disagreed.

N. Pathmanabhan, 43 and farm workers, T. Thilaiyalagan, R. Matan, 22, and R. Khatavarayan, 32, were ordered to enter their defence against the charges of murdering Sosilawati, 47, bank officer Noorhisham Mohamad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32 and Sosilawati's driver, Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44.

They allegedly committed the offence at Lot 2001, Jalan Tanjong Layang, Tanjung Sepat, Banting, between 8.30 pm and 9.45 pm on Aug 30, 2010, and face the mandatory death sentence upon conviction under Section 302 of the Penal Code.

Ishak: "Did you hear the prosecution witness' testimony earlier, saying there were traces of blood found on the walls of Matan and Ravi's (Kathavarayan) quarters at the farm?" Thilaiyalagan: "Yes."

Ishak: "How did the blood get on the walls?"

Thilaiyalagan: "Animal blood maybe, I don't know anything else."

Ishak: "Did you hear the prosecution witness' testimony earlier that human bones were found on the farm?"

Thilaiyalagan: "The doctor (witness) said it could have been human bones."

To another question, the second accused denied that a cricket bat found on the farm belonged to him.

In a previous proceeding, 86th prosecution witness, Chemist Department's Forensics Division director, Lim Kong Boon, had confirmed that blood stains on the cricket bat had matched Noorhisham Mohamad's DNA profile. The trial before Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir resumes on Thursday. - Bernama


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Singapore Writers Festival starts on Nov 2

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 05:56 AM PDT

Across the Causeway, a literary brew is coming to a boil.

THE Singapore Writers Festival is into its 15th edition this year. Beginning on Nov 2 and lasting for 10 days, it will turn the island's Bras Basah-Bugis districts into a literary hub where some 185 writers from Singapore, Malaysia and further afield will share their thoughts and expertise at workshops, readings and storytelling sessions.

Organising this year's literary smorgasbord will cost the Singapore National Arts Council some S$1.5mil (RM3.73mil). It is hoped that the allocation, largely used to fly in and accommodate some 50 international writers – including our very own Star columnist, Marina Mahathir – will add sparkle to the ticketed events that will give literary fans the chance to rub shoulders with internationally bestselling authors the likes of Pico Iyer and Michael Cunningham.

But even festival director Paul Tan is uncertain if the council will make its money back. Last year's turnout numbered 58,000 but ticket sales barely covered costs. Fortunately, they had revenue sponsors.

How then has this bookworm party survived for a decade- and-a-half?

Well, to flex one's spending power in Singapore, there are shopping carnivals; to party till you drop, there are the renowned full-moon parties; and to get one's brain juices flowing, to exchange thoughts and listen to opinions from the people who have seen history in the making, there is this writers' festival on this island republic.

It is said that by words, we learn thoughts, and by thoughts we learn life. The festival, says Tan, 42, is where an audience can get an insight into life, to gain new wisdom.

Call it a gathering of minds, if you wish. Brand it as a meeting of intellectuals, if you must. But getting down to its roots, it is simply a collected effort, spurred by the publishing industry, to get people to R.E.A.D.

The English language publishing industry in Malaysia and Singapore is still an infant by comparison with the Western hemisphere.

Speaking from experience as a published author of three poetry books, Tan reveals that local print runs for fiction writers rarely exceed 1,000 copies. Non-fiction fares a little better, though only books by famous names like Lee Kuan Yew and Tun Mahathir Mohamad sell in the hundreds of thousands, Tan believes.

But one name sticks in his mind, Nirosette who, at merely 19, wrote this sentence in her novel, Cerita Kaseh: "I'll never leave you. Even if I do, my shadow will follow you, my scent will fill your air and my voice will echo wherever you are."

According to Tan, the Singaporean writer who graduated from Madrasah Al Maarif has sold 15,000 copies of one of her novels, so things are looking up for fiction.

But then, this festival is not about chasing the money. It is about inspiring new talent, encouraging existing ones, and spreading the love of the written word. A workshop tells parents how stories can come to life with ice-cream sticks and coloured paper. There is even a session on how to convert the reluctant reader.

"The day people stop reading will be the day civilisation ends. Just imagine, to know what we need to do tomorrow, reading is required. And that's not including the tweets and sms-es that are transmitted every second," says Tan.

Ultimately, there are lessons in the written word.

Tan shares an anecdote by frisking out Shadow Play, a detective novel written by Barbara Ismail. It is a story about a police man from Ipoh who is sent to solve a murder in Kelantan. Unable to understand the peculiar local dialect, he enlists the help of a makcik to act as translator. The storyline is something that must be left for the reader to discover but Tan shares that it is how he discovered the famed Malaysian East Coast dish, nasi kerabu (herbed rice).

So deliciously was it described in one passage that he was inspired to try it out. A new gourmet experience, gained from the simple pleasure of reading. And let's not discount the creative energy that can be tapped.

In looking at this year's theme, "Origins", Tan hopes for budding writers to explore their origins and to reflect on what those roots mean. He is sure it will be the starting point of many thought-provoking conversations, something that audiences have come to associate with the festival.

The line-up is an interesting one.

In the non-fiction category, Singapore Straits Times editor Cheong Yip Seng is billed to appear with Cherian George, author of Freedom From The Press: Journalism And State Power In Singapore. Fireworks are expected to fly there.

There is one unlikely candidate in Mick Foley, better known to wrestling fans all over the world as "Mankind". In truth, when Tan first heard about Foley, his first reaction was to put the retired American wrestler on the shelf. Smack down action, in Tan's opinion, is best kept to a wrestling ring. But on digging further, Tan discovered that Foley is a New York Times bestselling author as well as a children's book author. One of the latter, Tietam Brown, a coming of age story published in 2005, was nominated for the US People's Choice Awards.

"That was when I looked at him in a whole new way," says Tan, who is sure Foley will be an audience favourite.

As one of the very few multi-lingual literary events in the world, the Singapore Writers' Festival will spotlight works from the Middle East. This new wave is touted to be the next literary tsunami. In the recent past, writers from China and India, either writing in English or translating their works into English, have enjoyed this sudden global popularity surge (indeed, this year's Nobel Prize for Literature winner is mainland China author Mo Yan).

When the sun dips and the sky turns a shade of violet over Singapore, there is "Origins Of Desire", a nighttime programme that will examine the different facets of desire and the manifestation of sexuality in books, films, performances and visual arts. It is expected to make one go "Aaaha!" it seems.

A sexy lit fest? Why not? Reading is sexy.

Visit for more information.


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