Rabu, 24 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Disabled South Koreans protest "inhumane" benefits system

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 08:22 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - Wheelchair-bound Choi Jong-hun spends most Fridays in a makeshift tent encampment in one of Seoul's busy subway stations, eating instant noodles as commuters dodge and weave around him and a handful of fellow demonstrators.

He's part of a protest that has lasted more than 60 days and aims to change South Korea's benefits system, which campaigners say humiliates disabled people by "grading" them according to their disability.

While South Korea has made the leap from poverty to rich nation in a generation, its conservative culture, which prizes physical perfection, still largely fails to come to grips with the challenges of disability.

Choi and other campaigners say the government's assessment system, which determines the access to crucial basic pensions worth up to $100 a month, as well as awarding support services such as home help, is degrading and inhumane.

"How dare (the government) label us like meat?" demanded Choi, a 48-year-old former construction worker who had a stroke in 2002 that left him partly paralysed.

"No senior citizens or women are graded when the country provides welfare services. It's only the disabled," echoes one of the group's brochures.

Things are tough for the handicapped in other ways as well. They may be neglected by family members, who don't understand what state services may be available, while opportunities for self-support and mainstream jobs are also limited.

For example, visually handicapped people can't take the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) exam - required by South Korean companies on job applications - more than four times total, while ordinary people are allowed to take it 14 times a year, said Moon Jae-in, a liberal presidential candidate from the major opposition party.

As a result, the poverty rate for the disabled in South Korea- who make up around five percent of the 50 million population - is more than twice that of other rich nations, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"The classification system for the disabled ignores their dignity," Moon said.

In Choi's case, the assessment of his medical needs - including language problems as a result of his stroke - has been set as a "level 2" disability, which means he is not entitled to help with his laundry and cooking.

That forces him to live with another disabled person who has the highest level of incapacity classification, entitling him to a carer to help with daily tasks for free.

"The problem is that the criteria to classify disabilities and the demand for social services from disabled people does not match," said Jeong Jong-hwa, a social welfare professor at Sahmyook University in Seoul.

In particular, the strictly medical assessment system has problems since it fails to take into account the different nuances of disabilities, resulting in potential unfairness.

An official at South Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare, which administers the benefits, says that it is aware of some of the issues and is studying the problem, although it may be moving too slowly for the country's human rights body, which is considering asking parliament to revise the system.

The official declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to media.

Until any revision takes place, however, protests may be the only way to go. In the early 2000s, a number of disabled people shackled themselves to subway tracks to demand improved access to public transport, resulting in elevators in some stations.

"Passers-by sometimes say "why don't you have talks (with the government)?" said 38-year old Kim Jin-woo, who has muscular dystrophy and is taking part in the protests.

"But they have no idea. There's no other way to make this change."

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Suspected gunman in custody after Atlanta church shooting

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 07:10 PM PDT

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A former employee at a suburban Atlanta megachurch was taken into custody on Wednesday, only hours after he allegedly walked into the church with a gun and opened fire, killing a man leading a prayer service, police said.

Multiple gunshots rang out in the chapel of the World Changers Church International in College Park, Georgia, around 10 a.m.

The suspected gunman was identified as Floyd Palmer, a 52-year-old former church maintenance worker who resigned from his job in August, said Fulton County Police Corporal Kay Lester.

Palmer was arrested in an Atlanta shopping mall, nearly six hours after the shooting, said Jeff Foley, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

"He did not put up a fight," he said.

As many as 25 people were inside the church when Palmer walked into the service and began shooting, Lester said. He fled the scene in a car.

Police identified the victim as Greg McDowell, a church member and volunteer. McDowell, 39, was taken to a local hospital and later pronounced dead, Lester said.

No one else attending the prayer service was injured or wounded. Police were trying to determine a motive in the shooting.

Palmer was charged with homicide and possession of a firearm during the commission of a homicide, and additional charges are pending, Lester said.

The church, one of the largest in the United States, is led by the Reverend Creflo Dollar, a prominent black preacher. Dollar was not at the church at the time of the shooting.

Earlier this year, Dollar was arrested on domestic violence charges stemming from an alleged assault on his teenage daughter. He denied the charges from the pulpit in June.

World Changers Church International serves nearly 30,000 members and has at least 10 satellite churches, according to its website.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Gray and Dan Burns; Editing by Eric Beech)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Texas executes man for 1991 stabbing-strangulation murder

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 07:08 PM PDT

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas prison officials on Wednesday executed a man for the gruesome 1991 murder a women who was stabbed repeatedly with an ice pick and strangled with stereo wire at her Dallas-area apartment, state officials said.

Bobby Lee Hines, aged 19 at the time of the killing, was sharing a next door apartment with a maintenance man who had master keys to all the units in the building, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Hours after neighbours heard screaming and other loud noises coming from the apartment of Michelle Wendy Haupt, 26, her body was found just inside the door of her unit, covered with about 18 puncture wounds, according to a summary of the case from the Texas attorney general's office.

Hines' fingerprint and bloody palm print were found in the apartment. Haupt's gold sand-dollar charm was found in Hines' pants pocket.

Hines was put to death by lethal injection at a state prison in Huntsville, Texas. He was pronounced dead at 6:28 p.m. local time (2328 GMT), said Jason Clark, a spokesman for the criminal justice department.

Hines, 40, was the 11th person executed this year in Texas and the 33rd in the United States.

In his final statement, Hines asked Haupt's family for forgiveness, according to a copy of the statement provided by Clark.

"To the victim's family, I am sure I know that I took somebody special from y'all," Hines said. "I know it wasn't right, it was wrong."

He also said that God has forgiven him and that being locked up for the rest of his life would have been more of a punishment.

"I wish there was some other way to show I'm sorry," he said.

Hines' execution was scheduled for earlier this year, but it was postponed so that DNA testing could be conducted on fingernail clippings collected from Haupt's body. The testing did not exclude Hines as a source of the DNA, according to the attorney general's office.

(Reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Eric Beech)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Wooing fans

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 03:45 AM PDT

Teen actor Lee Hyun-woo charms his way into fans' hearts.

A DISARMING smile and a cheery demeanour were all it took to get Malaysians to warm up to teenage South Korean actor Lee Hyun Woo.

"I never expected to get so much support from Malaysians," said Lee, who was pleasantly surprised at the turn-out at his fan-meet at Sungei Wang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur, where fans were continuously screaming his name.

It was the actor's first trip here and the adventurous lad had already visited our local pasar (market).

"I've tried local roadside food like char kuey teow, which tastes a bit like how we make our fried rice in Korea," Lee enthused at a recent press conference in KL to promote To The Beautiful You or Areumdawoon Geudaeege.

The 16-episode series is the fourth TV adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, following one Taiwanese (Hua Yang Shao Nian Shao Nu, 2006) and two Japanese (2007 and 2011) TV adaptations.

Apart from the charming Lee, the series also stars K-Pop artistes Choi Min-ho of boy band Shinee and Sulli Choi of girl group f(x).

Min-ho plays Kang Tae-joon, a college high jump champion who decides to retire after an injury. Sulli plays Goo Jae-hee, a fan who disguises herself as a boy to transfer to the boys' school so that she can encourage Kang to jump again.

Lee plays an innocent college football player Cha Eun-gyeol who gets confused when he develops feelings for Jae-hee, not realising she is a girl.

"Cha Eun-gyeol is a bright and fun-loving guy with a pure and honest personality. He's actually a lot like me.

"And, that worked well for me. Also, I like to tell jokes like Cha Eun-gyeol. So, it's actually been a fun role," Lee described his happy-go-lucky character in To The Beautiful You.

Like many other boys, Lee said he too loved football and would play quite often with his friends. Yet, he did not take his role lightly but trained for a month with a professional football player to improve his skills and make his character appear more credible.

Another similarity was his character's passion for posting regular updates on social media platforms.

"Like Eun-gyeol, I have a Twitter account, too. I also upload current photos and post updates, but not as often as Eun-gyeol does," shared the 19-year-old Lee, who added that he enjoys reading messages from fans and supporters.

Although there were three previous TV adaptations, Lee said he did not watch any of them.

"I refrained from watching them, because I hope to make the character my own," said Lee, who described his most memorable scene in the series as the one in which the whole group played on the beach.

After collaborating with Min-ho and Sulli who are both singers, Lee was often asked whether he was interested in pursuing a singing career. Although he expressed an interest in singing and even releasing an album, Lee was of the opinion that "one need not have to become a singer as many actors do release albums as well".

Lee is signed to KeyEast Entertainment, which manages big-name South Korean stars like Bae Yong-joon, Kim Hyun-joong and Kim Soo-hyun.

The chatty lad is already training for his upcoming movie Covertness or Eunmilhage Widaehage (literally Secret To Greatness), which co-stars Kim Soo-hyun, currently seen in South Korean blockbuster The Thieves.

"Covertness has not started production yet because it's about North Korean spies and more research is required. I'm spending some time learning the North Korean accent, and I hope to give a good performance."

Currently enrolled in The Theatre and Film department of Dongguk University, Lee began his acting career as a child actor at a tender age of 12. The young actor already has seven movies and 15 TV series under his belt.

> Catch Lee Hyun-woo in South Korean idol drama To The Beautiful You, airing every Wednesday and Thursday at 9.05pm on One / One HD (Astro B.yond Ch 393).

A wealth of choices on TV

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 03:44 AM PDT

TELEVISION viewers certainly have something to look forward to with the launch of three channels – now International, now Mango and now Hairun – by Telekom Malaysia Berhad's (TM) IPTV service, HyppTV.

The new additions are available exclusively to the Malaysian audience as a result of a collaboration between TM and Hong Kong's PCCW Media Ltd, the company operating now TV, one of Hong Kong's largest pay-TV service providers.

The three channels offer programmes from different genres. Now International is a Cantonese channel that delves into the finer things in life with its range of lifestyle, travel, entertainment and variety shows such as One Life One Earth and Chef Corner.

The Mandarin channel, now Mango, a joint venture between now TV and the Hunan Broadcasting System from China, brings viewers closer to celebrities like Zhang Ziyi, Aaron Kwok and Faye Wong through its talk shows Happy Camp and World Of Women.

Drama lovers are not forgotten as now Hairun boasts of high quality Hairun Media productions from the mainland such as The Era Of Late Marriage and Special Citizen, featuring stars from mainland China and Hong Kong.

TM's executive vice president of New Media, Jeremy Kung, said at the channels' launch that TM was delighted to be working with Hong Kong's biggest pay-TV operator PCCW Ltd.

"With the three channels, we not only have among the best in Asian entertainment and lifestyle content on our platform, but also one of the biggest collections of Chinese dramas ever assembled on HyppTV," he said.

Meanwhile, PCCW's managing director of TV and New Media, Janice Lee, said that one of the company's strategies for growth is international expansion.

"Malaysia has one of the largest overseas Chinese populations in South-East Asia and we are excited to have TM as a partner. We will be working closely to provide Malaysian viewers with the best in Chinese programmes," she said.

The three channels – now International (Channel 155), now Mango (Channel 156) and now Hairun (Channel 157) – are available for free to HyppTV subscribers from now till Nov 14.

For more information, visit tm.com.my/hypptv/ or tm.com.my.

Dark streak

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 04:13 AM PDT

Actor Rich Sommer talks about how his goody-two-shoes character, Harry Crane, is changing on the 1960s drama Mad Men.

HE messed up," Rich Sommer commented on his Mad Men character's unexpected dalliance with a secretary, in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles.

Fans of the four-time Emmy-award winning series Mad Men must have collectively held their breaths in the penultimate episode of season one when devoted husband Harold "Harry" Crane cheated on his wife.

"I had a lot of people who used to come up to me and say 'Oh it's so nice to have Harry as the good guy, we need a good guy in the office'.

"But because I always knew at the back of my mind what was to come, I thought to myself, 'I'm glad you like him, but you're gonna hate him soon'," Sommer said sarcastically.

Mad Men is a series set in the 1960s that probes into the workings of a New York-based advertising agency, Sterling Cooper. By day, its employees are busy finding a way to push the envelope and produce ground-breaking advertising campaigns.

By night, these advertising men hang up their coats, loosen their ties and party up a storm, often with some female company in tow. But not so for Harry Crane. No, he is the nerdy, bespectacled media buyer that holds fast to his traditional Midwestern beliefs and is content on spending his "happy hour" with his wife. Or so we thought.

Harry's uncharacteristic behaviour definitely took viewers by surprise, but Sommer pointed out that there were little hints dropped throughout the season, suggesting that he was already facing marital problems. "There was one time when somebody was talking about women and Harry said 'why can't they stop asking for things?'.

"Add an unhappy marriage to a drunk celebratory moment and a pretty girl who's hugging you, and it can lead to trouble," he explained.

So, now the question is, whether Harry will get darker in the upcoming season or will he turn from his philandering ways. While Sommer did not confirm whether Harry's cheating will persist, he revealed that Harry's nature does get darker in other aspects, "He begins to get more powerful, and with more power, he finds an eagerness to get even more power.

"As such, in an effort to continue ascending the ranks, he makes some questionable decisions."

This "power" comes in the form of Harry's new job title – head of Sterling Cooper's television department. At the start of the next season, senior partner Roger Sterling (John Slattery) calls the man into the office and commends him for taking the initiative to pitch an advertising idea to a client even though he was only a media buyer. In return, Harry asks for a raise and an opportunity to spearhead the company's television department.

However, Harry is not the only one proving his worth and climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder. In the first season, we saw the plain, naive secretary Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) defy conventions by becoming the firm's first female copywriter. While her talent and influence continue to grow in the upcoming season, so will her battles against gender discrimination.

The 34-year-old Sommer, who has welcomed a baby girl and boy since the show started, is grateful that the days of sexism are over now.

"People say things like 'weren't the 1960s cool?' or 'don't you wish it was the 1960s?' But from what I understand – particularly, with regards to the mistreatment of people – I think the 1960s were socially terrible.

"Realising this, it definitely helps me be a better father. I don't want my daughter thinking there isn't anything she cannot do because of her gender."

On a lighter note, Sommer confessed there is one thing he enjoys from the 1960s: The clothes!

It isn't an overstatement to say the series has sparked a retro fashion comeback as fashion retailers like Banana Republic has launched three Mad Men-inspired collections to date, while singer Lana Del Rey is also sporting similar looks in this year's H&M collection.

If the actor makes a trip to these stores, there's no brownie point for guessing what he'll come out with – a bow-tie, of course! The actor shared that he enjoyed wearing it on the show so much that he's learned how to tie it himself and even rocks the look when attending formal events.

When asked whether he has "borrowed" any from the set, Sommer maintained he hasn't but has taken something else instead: "I've stolen business cards. Harry has actual business cards with his name and job title on them."

No interview on Mad Men would be complete without asking about the dashing Jon Hamm, who plays the cocky creative director Don Draper. Sommer gushed about the lead actor, stating that Hamm is (fortunately) nothing like his character.

"He is a very generous and funny guy and I think the entire mood on our set is as positive as it is because Jon and the show's creator Matthew Weiner are so open and kind. It really sets the tone that trickles down to everyone else on the set."

> For those who missed season two of Mad Men, catch the premiere tonight at 10pm on Sundance Channel (Astro Ch 438). For season five, FX HD (Astro Ch 726) is currently airing the show daily at 5pm.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Canada province probes complaint over China workers

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 07:03 PM PDT

NEW YORK: British Columbia authorities said on Wednesday they are investigating complaints by a labour group that local mining jobs are being advertised in China by recruiters in exchange for hefty recruitment fees.

The investigation stems from accusations by the B.C. Federation of Labour that recruitment firms in China are charging as much as C$12,500 (7,860 pounds) in fees to find temporary jobs for Chinese labourers at a mining development in the province owned by HD Mining International Ltd.

Last week, local online newspaper, theTyee.ca, reported that labourers are promised the "possibility of immigrating to Canada" and the ability to "sponsor your family to Canada, too."

The news site reported that a journalist posing as a mine labourer on an online Chinese jobsite was connected with recruiters who claimed to be hiring for the mining project.

HD Mining, which is jointly held by Huiyong Holdings Ltd and Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc, has denied any link to a recruiting scheme.

The company has secured permits to import up to 201 foreign labourers under Canada's temporary foreign worker program, which it has said it needs to complete a bulk sample study at its Murray River coal project in remote north-eastern British Columbia.

The province's Labour Minister Pat Bell confirmed on Wednesday that his office was investigating the "serious" allegations. "The investigation is specific to the fee allegation that has been made," he said.

It is against Canadian labour law to charge a foreign temporary worker a fee for employment information and support, and workers cannot be forced to pay back recruitment costs to employers. Skilled temporary workers can apply to immigrate to Canada after four years of working in the country.

The controversy comes at a time of heightened sensitivities over Chinese ownership of Canadian resource assets. A contentious C$15.1 billion bid by state-owned CNOOC Ltd to take over Canadian oil producer Nexen Inc is being reviewed by federal authorities.

Canada's official opposition, the left-leaning New Democratic Party, called on Wednesday for the immediate cancellation of HD Mining's temporary foreign worker permits and a full investigation into the company's hiring practices.


Outrage has swelled in British Columbia in recent weeks as unions and labour groups spoke out over HD Mining's plans to use foreign workers at the Murray River project.

The company has insisted that it would only bring over existing employees of parent-company Huiyong Holdings and that they would return to their existing jobs in China upon completion of the development project.

HD Mining spokeswoman Jody Shimkus said the company had tried to hire locally but was unable to find people with the skills to operate the specialized mining equipment that will be used at the project.

"We're using highly sophisticated, mechanized, underground long-wall mining equipment, which is currently not being used in Canada," she said. "One of the challenges we have is that equipment is not yet here, so it's difficult to train people."

Local labour groups have said the jobs were not advertised at going wage rates and that no effort was been made to train local workers.

The United Steelworkers Union has accused HD Mining of intentionally excluding most Canadian workers from jobs by including Mandarin as a required language in postings.

Jobs now posted on the company's website do not require Mandarin language skills and start at $25 an hour for mechanics. The going rate for mine labourers in British Columbia is more than $30 an hour, the union said.

HD Mining's first 13 foreign workers are due to arrive in rural British Columbia this month, with more expected as the project progresses. The company is currently doing bulk sampling work at the project, which is still years away from production. - Reuters

Best Buy warns on profit; U.S. unit head to leave

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 07:01 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Retailer Best Buy Co Inc warned that earnings and same-store sales would fall for its third quarter, and said the head of its U.S. business will leave as the world's largest consumer electronics chain starts to restructure under a new CEO.

The news, which pushed its shares down 6.8 percent in after-hours trading, came less than a month before the unofficial start of the biggest selling season of the year.

U.S. business president Mike Vitelli will exit at the end of the current fiscal year in early February with a lump-sum payment of $1.45 million, and the executive vice president of U.S. operations, Tim Sheehan, will leave the company at the end of this month.

The move is the first big structural change under new CEO Hubert Joly, who was brought in as the company grapples with the rising trend of shoppers who treat its stores like showrooms for cheaper online retailers.

While a new chief executive will often overhaul management, especially at an underperforming company, the restructuring will leave Best Buy's retail and online businesses, as well as other groups, to report to Joly, who most recently headed hospitality and travel company Carlson.

"The one thing that Joly does not have is retail experience. So you would think that he would really kind of lean on Vitelli," BB&T Capital Markets analyst Anthony Chukumba said. He added that Vitelli, a retail veteran was "very well respected on the Street."

Joly, who also drove the turnaround of the French unit of EDS, now part of Hewlett Packard, and led the restructuring of Vivendi's videogame business, said the elimination of the top layer of U.S. operations management was meant to streamline the organization.

"One thing I have learned in helping turn companies around is that a business needs to have a nimble organization," Joly said in a news release on Wednesday evening.

Analysts were also troubled by Best Buy's forecast.

Best Buy said it now expects earnings for the fiscal third quarter ending November 3 to fall "significantly below" those of a year earlier, excluding one-time items, due to falling margins and declines at sales at established stores.

"You start to wonder, 'Are the wheels kind of coming off here?'," said Chukumba, who added that the retailer's outlook for the quarter was worse than what Wall Street was expecting.


As part of the executive shuffle, the company named Shawn Score as the head of its U.S. retail channel. Score was formerly the president of Best Buy's mobile business.

The changes in the executive suite came two months after Best Buy suspended profit forecasts and share buybacks for the year to give its newly named chief executive time to construct his own turnaround plan. In early October, the company said CFO James Muehlbauer had decided to leave as well.

The company is also waiting for its former CEO and largest shareholder, Richard Schulze, to decide whether he can put together a buyout bid.

Schulze, who is trying to take the company private, is expected to make his next move in mid to late November. That move could be in the form of a formal bid along with other private equity partners or a request for more time to prepare a formal bid, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday.

The source declined to be named as the information is not yet public.

One analyst said the most troubling news of all was a decline in the company's gross margins, which suggests how aggressive it has become with promotions to lure customers.

"If they try to compete on price they are doomed. Their cost structure doesn't allow that," said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. "They have to figure out how to charge a higher price and make shopping in their stores a rewarding experience."

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S on average had expected earnings per share of 36 cents in the quarter. In the fiscal third quarter a year earlier it earned 47 cents per share on an adjusted basis.

"I think people were looking for more out of the third-quarter results given that we had some big product launches," said Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy. "Even though it was toward the end of the quarter, you had the iPhone 5 out there."

Analysts were hoping the consumer electronics industry would get a boost from the recent or upcoming debuts of Windows 8, the iPhone 5, the Nintendo Wii U video game console, and stronger videogame title releases this year.

On Wednesday, Best Buy also warned same-store sales would decline in the low-to-mid single digits for the third quarter. The retailer has already posted same-store sales declines in eight of the last nine quarters.

Best Buy shares fell to $15.77 in after-hours trading from a $16.92 close on the New York Stock Exchange. The company also said Wednesday that it would hold an investor day on November 1 to discuss Joly's plans for the future. - Reuters

Preview - Apple's Mac flies in under the radar

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 06:58 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO: Amid the fanfare accompanying the noisy launch of the iPad mini this week, Apple Inc also took the wraps off new Mac computers.

The facelift may help revitalize an important lineup that -- while seeing growth tail off in the early part of 2012 -- yields 14 percent of revenue and still racks up sales growth numbers that are the envy of a flagging PC world.

On Tuesday, Apple took the lid off a slimmed-down iMac and a 13-inch laptop with a vastly improved screen, setting the stage for a potential revival in sales even as Hewlett-Packard and Dell Inc struggle just to stay level.

Earlier this year, Apple had also launched an updated MacBook Air - a product analysts say spawned over 20 touch-enabled designs from rivals called "Ultrabooks," which run Microsoft Corp's upcoming Windows 8 software.

Apple remains No. 3 in U.S. market share behind HP and Dell. But the Mac's premium pricing, at $1,000 and above, and its subsequent outsized margins mean a spike in revenue growth can give its bottom line a significant boost.

"The pricing and feature set of the refreshed iMac present an attractive combination, and I would not be surprised to see the new iMac stimulate desktop sales in the December quarter and beyond," Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said.

The decades-old Macintosh line that helped set a stumbling computer company back on its feet -- today overshadowed in both revenue and media appeal by the popular iPhone and iPad -- saw growth drop to single-digit percentages in the first two quarters of 2012 for the first time since 2009.

Yet sales outgrew the PC market, overall, by more than seven times over the 12 months to June, according to CEO Tim Cook, and has outpaced PC growth over the last six years.

Apple reports fiscal fourth quarter results on Thursday. The company will likely have sold 5.1 million Macs in the October quarter, up just 5 percent, Piper Jaffray & Co analyst Gene Munster estimates.


On Tuesday, Apple Marketing Chief Phil Schiller called the Mac "what began it all," and he claimed the Mac was America's No. 1 laptop and desktop among individual models. Research houses Gartner and IDC figures place Apple third in the United States with a market share of about 13 percent.

Regardless where it places, at prices starting at $1,000 for its MacBook Air and going all the way close to $4,000 and growth -- while well off the 30-percent range of 2010 -- still defying the market, the Mac has proven a consistent money-spinner for the company even during troubled times for the traditional PC.

Intel Corp , HP and other stalwarts of the PC industry are now fighting to sustain growth as tablet computers eat into their PC-related businesses.

While the Mac line has not completely side-stepped PC market trends, it has held up better partly because it is targeted at a higher-spending clientele that values its consistency, vis-a-vis the often fragmented PC, where multiple vendors supply different components that don't always work seamlessly.

But it also owes its success in large part to a so-called halo effect stemming from consumers' experiences with the iPhone and iPad, said Loren Loverde, analyst with research firm IDC.

"They are on the positive end of halo effect both in terms of traffic and brand image," Loverde said, adding that Apple also has yet to fully realize the international growth opportunities for Mac, and expects the new products to see good demand during the holiday quarter.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh in 1984, and it became the first successful computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface -- a model that has stayed intact through the succeeding decades. The desktop Mac itself stuck to that interface but has radically shifted in design over the years, to today's slim, all-in-one form.

Analysts say the redesigned Macs may give Apple's December quarter an extra lift, but the quarter will hinge mostly on how many consumers bought iPads and iPhones, which combined accounts for 72 percent of the company's revenue.

Cook and other executives are likely to be questioned on the smartphone's supply issues and the ramp-up of the new "iPad mini," available in stores on November 2.

"The bigger question is likely the company's ability to ramp supply to meet the strong demand," Baird Equity Research analyst William Power said. Recent investor concerns regarding Apple have included "perceived slowing iPhone innovation, the lack of a strong developing market strategy for iPhone and current iPhone supply constraints."

Apple's stock has reflected some of those concerns. While the stock is up 52 percent this year, it is down 12 percent from its record high of $705 on September 21. Despite the pullback, Apple is trading at 11.6 times next year's estimated earnings, same as the S&P 500 and far lower than some rivals like Amazon.com Inc , which trades at 100 times estimated 2013 earnings.

Investors will focus initially on the headline shipment numbers during the fiscal third quarter on Thursday. It is estimated to have sold between 24 million and 26 million iPhones in the July-September period.

And Apple said on Tuesday that it sold its 100 millionth iPad two weeks ago, which means that the company sold under 16 million last quarter. This is below the 17 million to 18 million some analysts had forecast.

Longer term, Apple could also face margin pressure as smartphones pass the 50 penetration rate in major developed markets, said BGC analyst Colin Gillis.

"The next stage of smart phone growth could be more focused on mid-to-lower priced offerings," Gillis said. "Apple may find it difficult to maintain margin while growing massive scale, particularly as the overall market for smartphones slows." - Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

McGinley backed for Ryder Cup captain

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 07:06 PM PDT

SHANGHAI: Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald have backed Paul McGinley to be Europe's next Ryder Cup captain as they prepared for China's $7 million BMW Masters starting on Thursday.

Northern Ireland's McDowell told AFP it seemed to be a straight fight between two of 2012 captain Jose Maria Olazabal's assistants from Chicago - McGinley and former Open champion Darren Clarke, who are also playing in Shanghai.

The victorious European team of last month have been reunited this week, with only Sergio Garcia absent, for the first time since their historic 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 defeat of the United States at Medinah.

Former US Open winner McDowell and England's Donald believe that either of the Irish pair would be a great choice but that they would plump for McGinley to be given the captaincy first, at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014.

Clarke, they added, should then be given his chance for the next battle, in the United States in 2016.

The 2011 British Open champion Clarke this week batted away questions about the captaincy but McDowell and Donald were happier to talk about the subject that has become almost a taboo among the team since the celebrations in Medinah died down.

"Both Paul and Darren would be great captains in their own right but then Paul has kind of forged a little niche for himself given the way he has conducted himself in the Seve Trophy and the Ryder Cup vice-captaincy roles," said McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion.

"He's a scholar of the game and a strategist and would probably be technically, if that's the right word, a good captain.

"Darren would emotionally be a great captain and a great motivator, and also with that big personality he possesses," he added.

World number three Donald agreed either man would make an inspiring captain, but at Gleneagles he would also prefer to see McGinley in charge.

"Personally, probably I have spoken a little bit more to McGinley," he said.

"He always seems very up for the challenge. I do believe that if he doesn't get it this year, he probably won't get it. Whereas I feel like Darren will have other opportunities."

McDowell explained that, in his view, the captaincy role is not just about past playing success.

"If it should boil down to pure playing credentials, of course Darren would win hands down as the next captain.

"However, that opens a can of worms on the Ryder Cup captaincy debate because are we looking for a captain who has the right playing credentials or are we looking at Ryder Cup captains who will be great captains?

"You've got to look at what makes a great captain and it's personally being able to relate to 12 very individual players in a team."

And McDowell hinted that maybe the European Tour's players committee, which will announce the next captain at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January, could decide a few captains in advance.

"There should a pecking order of guys who are next in line, and Paul McGinley really has good enough credentials to be a Ryder Cup captain," McDowell said.

"Darren... would make for a great captain in America as they love him over there. His personality suits America and they see him as the cigar-smoking, Guinness-drinking nice guy that he is." - AFP

Azarenka edges nearer top spot after cliffhanger

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 06:08 PM PDT

ISTANBUL: Victoria Azarenka had to draw on all her reserves by saving two match points in a heroic three-hour six-minute tussle with Angelique Kerber in the WTA Championships.

The top-seeded Belarussian beat the German revelation 6-7 (11/13), 7-6 (7/2) 6-4 in an encounter full of magnificent rallies and surprises. Her win leaves Azarenka needing just one more win to guarantee her finishing the year as world number one.

Azarenka saved both match points by following up sound serving with bold and courageous driving. That helped make up for the five set points that Kerber had enterprisingly denied the top seed in the first set tie-break.

Had Azarenka lost either of them - from 4-5, 15-40 in the second set - a pathway might have opened up for Maria Sharapova to sneak through to the summit instead.

Azarenka would now have to lose both her remaining group matches for this to happen, even though Sharapova later made sure of a place in Saturday's semi-finals by beating Agnieszka Radwanska, the Wimbledon runner-up from Poland, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in another three-hour encounter.

"I felt I had to go for it on both match points," Azarenka said. "I felt she would not miss, so I didn't want to wait for her to make a mistake - I was determined to make it happen.

"I wanted to change the momentum and take destiny into my own hands. I had a clear mind of what I had to do. It takes time to go through (what's needed) and learn that.

"I feel really proud I was a part of this match.

Honestly you feel like you don't want to leave the court, the atmosphere is so good!"

Azarenka's three-set encounter also guaranteed that Serena Williams' second success of the tournament earned the American a semi-final place.

The Olympic, US Open and Wimbledon champion won 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 against Li Na, the former French Open champion from China, but only after a noisy, and surprisingly fraught performance.

Williams had to overcome the emotions which impelled her to smash a racket and earned her a code violation warning.

That happened during a weird fourth game in which one of the finest servers in the history of the game delivered two successive double faults to go a break down.

"I guess I was angry and I wasn't able to control myself," she said. "But sometimes I play better when I get angry."

Hers was a triumph of will more than anything, for she landed less than 50 percent of her first serves, dropped service games five times, and needed an hour and 50 minutes to get the win.

"I lost serve today more often than all of Wimbledon," Williams said. "I was just thinking about it too much. I didn't serve well yesterday and I thought about it. I just need not to think.

"But to win with a zero serve, compared with what I normally do, is something I can take from the match." - AFP

Chun Seang and Wei Feng through to second round in France

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 05:58 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian camp experienced mixed fortunes on the opening day of the French Open in Paris.

While men's singles shuttlers Tan Chun Seang and Chong Wei Feng enjoyed a good start, there were early exits for Zulfadli Zulkifli (men's singles), Gan Teik Chai-Ong Soon Hock (men's doubles) and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles).

Apacs-sponsored Chun Seang had the easiest time after receiving his second free ride in two weeks when top seed Simon Santoso of Indonesia pulled out.

Chun Seang, who left the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) two years ago, had also received a walkover at the Denmark Open last week before going on to beat Simon and reach the quarter-finals.

The 26-year-old Kedah shuttler will now face former world junior champion Viktor Axelsen in a bid to make the last eight in quick succession.

The much-improved Wei Feng also made up for a disappointing first round exit in Odense last week by dispatching German qualifier Lukas Schmidt 21-8, 21-14 in 22 minutes.

Reigning world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli came close to ousting world No. 5 Kenichi Tago before succumbing in three games.

Zulfadli, who came through a pair of qualifying matches on Tuesday, started brightly against Tago but his inexperienced showed as the Japanese came back strongly to win 18-21, 21-4, 21-14.

The top mixed pair of Peng Soon-Liu Ying, ranked fifth in the world, were again a pale shadow of their usual selves as they failed to keep up with China youngsters Tao Jiaming-Tang Jinhua, losing 17-21, 17-21.

The fourth-ranked Chinese pair will take on South Korea's Shin Baek-cheol-Eom Hye-won in the second round.

In men's doubles, reigning Dutch Open runners-up Teik Chai-Soon Hock fell 19-21, 19-21 to seventh seeds Bodin Isaara-Maneepong Jongjit of Thailand.

Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki caused the biggest shock of the day by ousting fourth seed Du Pengyu of China.

Pengyu, who pushed world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei to the limit in Denmark on Sunday, failed to shine and went down 21-23, 21-16, 10-21.

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Jonas Brothers wow the teen crowd in Stadium Negara

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 07:33 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Jonas Brothers met screaming fans as they made their first appearance Wednesday night in Stadium Negara as part of their world reunion tour.

The atmosphere in the stadium was filled with excitement even when American solo singer Anna Maria, who was a supporting role of Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, Camp Rock and its sequel, opened up the stage for the JoBros.

The crowd of about 1,000 people who were mostly teens, managed to amplify their cheers to the extent that it sounded as if the stadium was filled with twice the number of people as they impatiently waited to see their stars.

The concert was heated up even more when the brothers performed hit songs like Burnin' Up, SOS and Paranoid.

The trio managed to captivate the hearts of the crowd, turning them into their very own choir, leaving parts of song When You Look Me In The Eye for the crowd to sing.

The brothers also introduced a new song called First Time, a song that contains more rock elements compared to their usual pop-driven tunes.

The Jonas Brothers, who are Nick, 20, Joe, 23 and Kevin Jonas, 25, parted ways with in 2009 to venture into their own solo careers after the release of their fourth studio album Lines, Vines and Trying Times.

After three years, they are now finally back together to perform and work on their fifth album.

Federal govt allocates RM17.49mil for small rural projects in Kelantan

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 06:55 AM PDT

KOTA BARU: The Federal government has allocated RM17.49mil for 219 small projects to transform the rural areas in Kelantan this year.

Kelantan Federal Development Department director, Datuk Makhtar Mustafa said RM5.71mil was allocated to the Rural and Regional Development Ministry to implement 40 projects like community centres, small bridges, rural roads and futsal courts.

The Health Department was allocated RM5.46mil for implementing 22 projects like upgrading of rural health clinics.

Makhtar said the Education Department was allocated RM3.32mil to implement 56 projects, including building and upgrading new suraus.

"The Drainage and Irrigation Department was allocated RM3mil to implement 101 projects like upgrading ditches," he told reporters after chairing the department's working committee meeting here Wednesday.

A total of 152 of the 219 projects have already been completed while the remaining 67 projects are expected to be completed by year-end. - Bernama

Indonesians make up nearly half of the 1.58 million legal foreign workers in the country

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 05:59 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesians top the list of registered foreign workers in the country, making up 48.5% of the total 1.58 million employees.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said as of July 31, there were 1,581,264 legal foreign workers in Malaysia.

"This total represents foreign workers who are paid legally and were issued temporary work passes by the Immigration Department," he said in a written reply to Karpal Singh (DAP - Bukit Gelugor).

Indonesian workers made up the most of the foreign employees, with a total of 767,590 in Malaysia, followed by Nepal with 279,421 and Myanmar with 137,784 workers.

There are 134,148 Bangladeshi workers and 91,222 employees from India, according to Hishammuddin.

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From zero to hero

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 03:01 AM PDT

This sequel sees a dim-witted man's journey to becoming a Tai Chi Hero.

OUT to debunk the impression that tai chi was a sedate form of exercise mostly practised by old folks, the makers of the Tai Chi trilogy pulled out all stops to come up with a hard-hitting form of the martial art in an effort to crank up the cool factor for its younger crowd.

For those who watched Tai Chi 0 (also known as Tai Chi Zero), welcome to its sequel Tai Chi Hero, where the protagonist Yang Luchan goes from zero to hero.

The cast of the oriental steampunk feature comprises Jayden Yuan Xiaochao, Angelababy, Eddie Peng, Tony Leung Kar Fai, Shu Qi, William Feng, Daniel Wu and Yuen Biao who worked with action director Sammo Hung and tai chi experts to create a modern jaw-dropping kung fu style.

A genuine martial arts exponent, Yuan, 24, who was Asian Games 2006 and 2010 gold medalist (Men's Changquan Wushu), makes his acting debut as Yang Luchan, a fool who fights against impossible odds, gets the girl and becomes the future of tai chi martial arts. Portraying his love interest is Angelababy, 23, whose pretty Chen Yuniang is a traditional physician as well as an accomplished kung fu exponent.

Tai Chi Hero is also part two of the Tai Chi trilogy and picks up from where the first one left off.

Basically, the story tells of how Yang had an unusual growth on his head that would make his kung fu more powerful but at the same time threaten his life. Advised to learn Chen-style tai chi as a remedy, the dim-witted Yang is saved by a warm-hearted Yuniang, who marries him and puts him on a rigorous training programme to reverse the effects of the growth.

In his director's statement, Hong Kong filmmaker Stephen Fung, 38, said: "Tai Chi is an action adventure trilogy about a hero's journey that takes place within an 'altered history' universe. Instead of working in the realm of a clear historical background, it mixes elements from different eras in China's past and brings together different film genres in a unique way.

"When it came to how the film should look, producer Chen Kuo Fu and I were in complete agreement that we needed to create something fresh that would appeal to a younger audience.

"As fascinating as the true history of tai chi martial arts may be, our intention was never to preach about its philosophy. Instead, we let the true spirit and philosophy of tai chi seep into the story naturally whenever it serves the purpose of the narrative.

"I am a huge fan of the steampunk genre and animation, especially the works of acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. Making Tai Chi has allowed me to step outside the boundaries of a specific genre and to incorporate so many elements that inspire me."

The movie was filmed on location in an abandoned village hidden within a valley located three hours north of Beijing, where the production team created an idyllic new world with an ancestral temple, an outdoor market, a post office and a bank. Since the film is not faithful to any period, it employs elements from different historical eras and Japanese animation to create something new.

Influencing the design at every stage is the fact that each citizen of Chen Village practises tai chi martial arts in their daily lives.

This determined not only the architecture of the village streets, but also the interiors such as the shelving within the medical store where Yuniang works.

Great attention was given to the smallest details to reinterpret traditional designs.

For example, Yuniang's bedroom was carved into the side of a mountain above the village with its own luscious garden courtyard.

There is a small bridge that one must cross to enter that also serves as a viaduct for its elaborately designed watering system. Inside the bedroom, there are antique books, intricate ornaments and a chess table from art director Tim Yip's personal collection.

Tai Chi Hero kicks its way into local cinemas tomorrow.

Bruce Lee's Hong Kong home to go on sale

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 02:21 AM PDT

HONG KONG - Kung fu legend Bruce Lee's former residence in Hong Kong will be put up for sale after a plan to turn the property into a museum dedicated to the icon failed, a report said Wednesday.

Philanthropist Yu Panglin, who owns the mansion, which became a rundown 'love hotel', said he was planning to sell the property for HK$180 million ($23 million) after talks with the government for the museum collapsed last year.

"I'm no longer considering (the museum plan) since the government is not supportive," the 90-year-old billionaire told Hong Kong's Chinese-language Singtao Daily in an interview.

"I'm running out of patience, I don't want to wait anymore," he said, adding that the hotel owner had failed to pay rent for two years due to poor business, with the property in urgent need of refurbishment.

Lee's legions of fans have long-demanded a significant hometown tribute to the Chinese-American star, who died in 1973 at the age of 32 after helping to bring martial arts to the mainstream with classic kung fu films such as "Fists of Fury" (1971) and "Enter the Dragon" (1973).

However they were left disappointed after the Hong Kong government shelved the museum plan in June last year, saying it failed to reach a consensus with Yu following two years of negotiations, without giving details.

Yu told Singtao Daily the government rejected his proposal to expand the mansion - Lee's last residence - by adding three floors to include a cinema, library and martial arts training centre, which were his conditions to donate the property.

The 5,000 square-foot (460 square-metre) two-storey house in Hong Kong's upscale residential district of Kowloon Tong was turned into a short-stay hotel with rooms rented for as little as US$25 an hour, usually to amorous couples.

Yu could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

The star died in Hong Kong after a severe reaction to medication. His fans have criticised the lack of a larger memorial to their hero in his hometown, except for a statue on the waterfront Avenue of Stars.

Authorities said in October last year a gallery would be set up in Lee's honour at the government-run Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

New Bond film 'Skyfall' gets royal red carpet premiere

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 06:14 PM PDT

LONDON: Daniel Craig thrilled James Bond fans in London Tuesday when he stepped onto the red carpet with co-stars Judi Dench and Javier Bardem for the world premiere of the 23rd Bond film "Skyfall".

Craig, making his third outing as Bond, said it had been a "real honour" to play the role in the franchise's 50th anniversary year, as he swept past a giant 007 logo and the secret agent's favourite Aston Martin.

The rugged Craig stars with Dench, again playing his controller 'M', and Spaniard Bardem as the spy's latest nemesis Raoul Silva.

Heir to the British throne Prince Charles attended the screening, which fittingly took place amid the regal splendour of the Royal Albert Hall.

Critics have declared the 23rd Bond film one of the finest in the British secret agent's half century on the silver screen.

The prince hailed Bond as "the most famous secret service agent of all time" in a letter included in the screening's programmes.

The release of "Skyfall" has special resonance because it is half a century this month since Bond strode stylishly into a film for the first time in "Dr No".

"It is just a real honour to be part of it and to have a chance to make a movie in this 50th year," Craig told Sky News on the red carpet.

"There is nothing quite like it, but this feels even more special for me than the ones that have gone before," Craig said of the premiere.

In "Skyfall", Britain's foreign intelligence agency MI6 comes under attack, leaving Bond to hunt down the threat.

Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes hands 'M' a more prominent role than in recent Bond adventures, giving Dench a chance to develop her testy personal relationship with Craig's inscrutable 007.

"There was lots more to explore - a continuation of what has been happening to us over several years," Dench said at the premiere. "I boss him about all the time."

She said the Bond films remained popular 50 years on because "he (is) just very British" and "a hero that we love".

Even for a veteran of dozens of films, acting in a Bond movie was a unique experience, Dench told BBC TV.

"It is quite different from any other film. And they make you very, very welcome and they make you feel part of the franchise and part of the family."

Mendes meanwhile described taking charge of his first Bond film as a nerve-wracking experience.

"You're looking after something that is public property and you have to treat it properly," he said before the screening.

"I just wanted to make a film that I would like to see. If you spend too much time worrying about the Bond the world wants to see, there is no perfect Bond.

"And I just wanted to channel my inner 13-year-old boy," he said.

Other luminaries include Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw, playing a younger version of Bond's gadgets man "Q" than his predecessors Desmond Llewelyn and John Cleese.

"Skyfall" opens with a spectacular scene in an Istanbul market but returns to home ground with a terror attack in London.

In his two previous outings in "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace", 44-year-old Craig has played Bond as a brooding presence, which critics say is far closer to the agent portrayed in the novels by his creator Ian Fleming.

Craig said he hoped "Skyfall" would show a lighter side too.

"It's a good, dense storyline but it's adult in many ways. It's also got a lot of fun in it, and people might be surprised by the fact that there's a lightness of touch in the movie that hasn't been in the last two," he told Time Out magazine this month.

Time Out's critic found it a "highly distinctive Bond movie", praise echoed by most reviewers.

The Daily Mail on Tuesday touted it as a candidate for the "best ever" Bond film with Bardem "one of the scariest" ever villains while the Daily Telegraph suggested Dench could be in line to pick up an Oscar for her performance.

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

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Monthly goodies from Borders

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 02:44 AM PDT

OUR special monthly giveaway this time around features Witch Craft by Margaret McGuire and Alicia Kachmar, a guidebook that shows you how to whip up wicked accessories, creepy-cute toys, magical treats, and more. Borders Bookstore is giving away two copies worth RM57.90 each.

To grab one, complete the slogan, "I love homemade Halloween costumes because ..." in not more than 20 words and send it to star2@thestar.com.my, with the header "Craftypedia Monthly Giveaway".

All submissions for this instalment must reach us by Nov 14, 2012, and should include your full name, IC number, address, and contact details (phone, e-mail).

Entries will be judged on creativity. The judges' decision will be final. The monthly winners will be notified by Borders Bookstore.

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