Jumaat, 26 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

NY nanny attempted suicide in front of dead children's mom - police

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:46 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The nanny suspected of slaying a Manhattan professional couple's two young children began stabbing herself as the mother entered the bathroom and began screaming when she saw the dead bodies in the bathtub, New York's police commissioner said on Friday.

Flowers are left on columns of an apartment building where two children died in a stabbing, on New York City's upper west side of Manhattan early October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Flowers are left on columns of an apartment building where two children died in a stabbing, on New York City's upper west side of Manhattan early October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The nanny, YoSelyn Ortega, had been employed by the family of Kevin and Marina Krim for two years before she killed their children and attempted suicide on Thursday in the family's luxury apartment, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Ortega, who lived with her son and sister near the Krims' apartment off Central Park, has been a naturalized U.S. citizen for a decade, Kelly said, adding that she had been referred to the Krims by another family.

New York police were hoping to interview the critically wounded nanny later on Friday, said an NYPD official who requested anonymity. Ortega, 50, has not been charged because police have not been able to interview her.

"We know now that the nanny began to stab herself as the woman entered the bathroom," Kelly said. "We initially thought it was, it had already been done, but now information is coming out that she did it as the mother entered the room."

Ortega remains the prime suspect in the stabbing death of the two children, Leo, 2, and Lulu, 6, Kelly said.

Marina Krim had entered the apartment at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday with her 3-year-old daughter, returning home after Ortega failed to meet her as planned at a local dance studio with the two other children.

Krim saw that the apartment was dark and returned to the lobby to ask the doorman if the nanny and kids had gone out, Kelly said. The doorman said no, and she returned to the apartment and went into the bathroom, he said.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said the children suffered "multiple stab wounds," and were pronounced dead after being rushed to a nearby hospital.

Kevin Krim, the children's father and an executive with CNBC, had been heading home from a business trip, He was met by police at the airport and notified of the killings, police said.

A spokesman for CNBC released a statement Friday expressing the "sadness we all feel" for Krim and his wife. The couple's "unimaginable loss ... is without measure."

Marina Krim, whose Facebook page lists her as originally being from Manhattan Beach, California, taught art classes to children, according to a website for the Hippo Playground Project, a New York organisation where she volunteered.

She also maintained a photograph-laden blog to document her daily life with her children, with the final entry dated Thursday, three hours before the discovery.

"Leo speaks in the most adorable way possible," she wrote. "And he does things like, '(I) want a fresh bagel' and 'Lito (what he calls himself) wants cold milk' and most adorable of all, 'No thank you' - he never uses 'No' alone, it's always paired with 'thank you.'"

The blog was later blocked from public view.

A source at NBC News confirmed that the blog - which contains pictures of the Krim family - was Krim's.

(Editing by Dan Burns, Doina Chiacu and Philip Barbara)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

In echoes of Obama, Romney seeks to adopt mantle of change

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:45 PM PDT

AMES, Iowa (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attempted to adopt the mantle of change on Friday in an economic speech in which he vowed to bring a fresh start to Washington to generate stronger job growth.

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney talks with a man in the crowd after delivering a speech on the U.S. economy while campaigning in Ames, Iowa October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney talks with a man in the crowd after delivering a speech on the U.S. economy while campaigning in Ames, Iowa October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Romney's address in the swing state of Iowa was an effort to take on the role President Barack Obama played in 2008, that of an outsider who would represent an abrupt change if he wins the tight 2012 presidential race.

The threat of Hurricane Sandy swirling toward the East Coast disrupted the campaign, with Romney forced to cancel a Sunday rally in Virginia Beach, Virginia. It was unclear what impact the storm might have on early voting taking place in states in the potential storm zone.

In his speech, Romney dismissed Obama as a shadow of his former self, one who wants to protect the status quo and has no plan to repair the weak U.S. economy.

"This election is a choice between the status quo - going forward with the same policies of the last four years - or instead, choosing real change, change that offers promise, promise that the future will be better than the past," he said.

Billed by his campaign as a major speech, Romney's address was a summing up of his economic argument aimed at voters who have yet to make up their minds, with the November 6 election only 11 days away.

Romney has frequently dropped the words "change" or "big change" into campaign speeches in recent days, although he has not made the theme as central to his argument as Obama did in the 2008 election.

In this speech, he used the word "change" at least 16 times, including five times in one breath.

"What this requires is change, change from the course of the last four years. It requires that we put aside the small and the petty, and demand the scale of change we deserve: we need real change, big change," he said.


U.S. gross domestic product growth for the third quarter of this year was reported at 2 percent on Friday, a figure that both campaigns seized on to support their arguments.

The Obama camp said it was proof that economic growth is taking place, albeit slowly.

"While we have more work to do, today's GDP growth report, showing the 13th straight quarter of growth, is more evidence that our economy continues to come back from the worst recession since the Great Depression under President Obama's leadership," the Obama campaign said.

Romney, on the other hand, said the report was discouraging.

"Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay. This is what four years of President Obama's policies have produced," he said.

His speech lacked specifics on what exactly Romney would do to boost the economy other than his five priorities of boosting energy production and trade, improving education, cutting debt and deficits and building small businesses.

Instead, he focused on the big picture, the challenges that await the next president, and stressed he would not replicate Obama's 2009 $787 billion job stimulus package.

"This is not the time to double down on the trickle-down government policies that have failed us. It is time for new, bold changes that measure up to the moment, that can bring America's families the certainty that the future will be better than the past," he said.

Polls show a race that is too close to call. Romney, the underdog all year, made up ground during three presidential debates with Obama this month and vaulted into an even position with the Democratic incumbent.


The latest Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll had Obama leading Romney among likely voters by 47 percent to 46 percent.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Romney up 3 percentage points nationally, by 50 percent to 47 percent for Obama. In battleground states where the election will be decided, a dogfight was still unfolding.

An NBC/Marist poll had Obama up 3 points in Nevada, 50 percent to 47 percent, while in Colorado - which Obama won in 2008 - the two men were tied at 48 percent apiece.

Romney sought to reassure those who fear he would simply cut the federal budget regardless of the consequences.

He said he and his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, would tackle intractable problems like overhauling Medicare and Social Security, but would do so in a way that protects the programs for current and near retirees.

He said he would "reform healthcare to tame the growth in its cost," a reference to the overhaul Obama conducted of the U.S. healthcare system that Romney wants to repeal and replace.

But he insisted he would preserve popular parts of the Obama healthcare law such as ensuring consumers with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be denied insurance coverage.

(Writing by Steve Holland; Editing by Alistair Bell and Todd Eastham)

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Obama shrugs off Romney adviser's comment on Powell endorsement

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

U.S. Senator Reid treated for minor injuries in car crash

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:15 PM PDT

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was treated for minor rib and hip injuries on Friday after the vehicle in which he was riding was involved in an accident on a Las Vegas interstate highway, his office said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington in this file photo taken August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington in this file photo taken August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files

The 72-year-old Democratic senator, who was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident, walked in on his own to the University Medical Center Hospital, his office said in a statement.

Reid was released from the hospital later on Friday.

"He's fine," said University Medical Center spokeswoman Karen Gordon.

Some of Reid's security detail and a staffer also had minor injuries and were evaluated at the hospital, the statement said.

Reid has been campaigning for President Barack Obama and fellow Nevada Democrats in recent weeks ahead of the November 6 elections.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper said the accident involved six vehicles, including four that were part of Reid's motorcade.

The newspaper said Reid was due at its offices on Friday afternoon for an editorial board meeting with its Spanish-language publication.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Uproar in US over Disney's first 'Latina princess'

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 06:24 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES, California: Once upon a time a major US animation studio crowned a character who was billed its first Latina princess. Then out came the big bad critics, and Disney ran away.

Some fans were pleased that "Sofia the First" could have a Latina lead - after all, the European, African American, Arab, Asian, Native American and Mermaid communities already have Disney princesses to call their own.

But when footage emerged, a row erupted. Sofia's skin is snow white and her eyes blue. Could she really represent Latin America? Disney is now backpedaling furiously, insisting she was never meant to be Hispanic after all.

And the blogosphere is sizzling with comments blasting both sides in this small war over a cartoon, which is aimed at kids aged two to seven, scheduled for release as a TV movie next month and due to become a series in 2013.

The fracas started last week when a Disney executive casually told a journalist at the film's unveiling that the princess is Latina.

When the magazine Entertainment Weekly ran a headline wondering aloud if this would in fact be Disney's first Hispanic princess, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, a Latino media advocacy group, complained loudly.

Wrong skin tone, said Alex Nogales, the coalition's president.

"If you're going to promote this to the public, and Latinos in particular, do us a favor and make it a real Latina," he told Fox News Latino.

Enter a crowd of irate Latino bloggers who insisted that fair skin and blue eyes are no bar to membership of their community - after all, Latin America is a genetically diverse place.

"My son is Latino, and I have dark hair and dark eyes, but he is blonde and blue eyed. And he is Latino and will get upset if someone suggests otherwise," webuser Mandy Verdugo wrote on the troubled princess's Facebook wall.

"Just because she doesn't conform to some people's standards of what Latino is doesn't make her not Latina. It's rather insulting."

But others backed the Hispanic media group. A woman named Julie Holdridge wrote: "I hope some day there is a Latino princess that makes my Latino daughter see that Disney made a princess that looks more like her."

Some recalled that the blonde Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz, for instance, has Cuban roots.

Others noted that Disney cartoons have featured royals of many other ethnic groups - "Mulan" was Chinese and "Pocahontas" a Native American - but had made no such coronation for Hispanics.

The United States is home to some 52 million Hispanics who, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, which is part of the University of Georgia, command yearly purchasing power of $1 trillion.

Disney eventually backtracked, denying Sofia was meant to be Latina.

"Some of you may have seen the recent news stories on whether Sofia is or isn't a 'Latina princess'," said Nancy Kanter, head of Disney Junior Worldwide.

"What's important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world," she continued.

"All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures."

On Tuesday, Nogales said he had met Kanter and said she had told him "that 'Sofia the First' is in fact not a Latina character and that the producer of the television program misspoke.

"We accept the clarification. ... We appreciate Disney-ABC's commitment to diversity and look forward to seeing more Latino lead characters as the stars of their shows," he added.

Entertainment Weekly gave this explanation: The film's executive producer Jamie Mitchell responded that the princess is Latina when asked by a journalist why her mother Miranda had darker skin.

After Disney's denial, Craig Gerber, the tale's screenwriter, added a new twist by saying the mother was from an enchanted kingdom that draws its inspiration from Spain.

The voice of the princess is that of Ariel Winter of the sitcom "Modern Family" and that of her mother, Sara Ramirez, a Hispanic actress who stars in the popular hospital drama "Grey's Anatomy." - AFP

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Motorcycling: Stoner dominates practice ahead of qualifying

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 07:33 PM PDT

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia: Casey Stoner again led the way as he clocked the fastest lap time in third practice ahead of Saturday's qualifying for the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

The home hero on a Repsol Honda posted a best lap time of one minute 29.665seconds. Also quickest in both sessions on Friday, he is the only rider to go under 1min30sec ahead of Sunday's race.

Stoner, who is chasing a sixth consecutive Australian MotoGP victory this weekend in his farewell season, was 1.019sec quicker than world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.

The Aussie rider Stoner was 1.3sec faster than his Honda teammate and championship contender Dani Pedrosa, indicating his mastery of the Phillip Island circuit.

Lorenzo leads Pedrosa by 23 points in the championship and can take his second MotoGP world title with victory on Sunday.

Stoner is battling the effects of recent surgery on torn ligaments and fractures to his ankle, tibia and fibula he suffered in a crash during qualifying for the Indianapolis MotoGP in mid-August.

The Aussie's hopes of defending his world title were ruined by the track mishap and he is out of contention, well back in third spot on the championship standings with two races left this season.

Yamaha's British rider Cal Crutchlow was fourth fastest ahead of teammate Andrea Dovizioso, but nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was struggling in ninth spot, some 2.3secs behind Stoner.

Qualifying for grid position takes place later Saturday. - AFP

UCI unveil Pinocchio as mascot for road race champs

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 06:36 PM PDT

ROME: With world cycling chiefs reeling from the fall-out of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, an unlikely mascot has been unveiled for next year's UCI World Road Race Championships in Italy - Pinocchio.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) have come under increasing scrutiny over their handling of the Armstrong affair, and the choice of the wooden, fictional character whose nose grows when he lies could be seen as highly unfortunate.

"Ours is a Pinocchio connected to his origins, happy, athletic and attentive," organisers said on the official toscana2013.it website.

"He is looking at the horizon, expressing an optimistic attitude versus the future. The expression of his face is smiling, happy, positive and at the same time astonished."

They added: "Our Pinocchio is happy that his land, Tuscany, has been chosen to host the World Championships of Cycling. The outline is athletic and slim like a real rider." - AFP

Vettel rejects suggestion of Red Bull duel

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 06:31 PM PDT

NEW DELHI: Defending champion Sebastian Vettel rejected all suggestions that the Indian Grand Prix will be a private duel between him and his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber after the pair dominated practice Friday.

The two drivers were six-tenths of a second clear of the field after both sessions with Webber close enough to justify his defence of his right to fight his German team-mate for victory in his own bid to win the world championship.

The Australian may lie fifth in the standings, 63 points behind Vettel, but, with 100 points still up for grabs in the remaining four races, he retains a chance of wrecking Vettel's dream of delivering a hat trick of titles.

"This weekend if I have the chance to win the Grand Prix, I'll go for it," said Webber.

"Mathematically I have a chance [to be champion]. So, if I'm in the lead, I'm not pulling over for anyone."

Knowing this, and aware of the heat of their intra-team rivalry, Vettel was deliberately circumspect in his comments after dominating in practice on Friday.

He was 0.118sec faster than Webber in second practice but focused his thoughts on the bigger picture and his other championship rivals.

"It's not between Mark and myself, I think it's between all of us," said Vettel.

"I think Friday is always difficult on a day like this and on a circuit like that because when you are out doing your new tyre run, track improvement is quite big.

"I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow looks a little bit different, but we've had worse Fridays so I'm quite happy."

He added: "I think we can be quite happy that we didn't have any major issues. We were able to test a few things and now we need to see whether we made progress and hope we make more tomorrow."

Lap times dropped significantly as the track conditions improved and Vettel said that meant the timing of a driver's fast lap was often more important than the time itself.

"The track improvement is massive, at least that's what we found," he said.

"I don't know how the others did because I usually switch off the timing screens on a Friday, but the circuit kept improving and there was quite a lot of grip at the end as the circuit just got better.

"I was quite surprised on the long run and I think it was the same for everyone as lap times just kept getting better." - AFP

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Energy to move on

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:25 PM PDT

Losing the recent round of electricity-generation-capacity bid in Malaysia will not dampen YTL Power's spirit to keep seeking new opportunities for growth

WHAT is YTL Power International Bhd's (YTLP) plan for its existing power plants in Malaysia?

That's the question among market observers following confirmation that the multi-utility giant will not get its power purchasing agreement (PPA) with state-owned Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) extended upon expiry on Sept 30, 2015.

There are talks that YTLP will sell its power plants in Malaysia, but the company's managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh has not been very forthcoming about the company's plans as yet.

"People like to speculate but we are known to do what needs to be done, and to announce the things that we need to announce at the right time," Yeoh quips when StarBizWeek asks whether there is indeed any plan to dispose of the company's power plants as the market is speculating currently.

"One thing is for sure, we will continue to grow and expand. We have new opportunities coming up different (kind of opportunities), and it will surprise you," Yeoh says.

YTLP is one of the three first-generation independent power producers (IPPs) that did not secure a renewal for their PPAs that would be expiring between 2015 and 2016. The other two IPPs are Powertek Bhd, which belongs to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), and Port Dickson Power Sdn Bhd, which is a joint venture between Sime Darby Bhd, Malakoff Bhd and TNB.

As announced by the Energy Commission early this month, following the completion of a renegotiation process with the first generation IPPs, only Genting Sanyen Power Sdn Bhd, which 1MDB now owns, and Segari Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd, which Malakoff owns, would be granted a 10-year extension to their PPAs upon maturity in December 2015 and June 2017, respectively.

For YTLP, it seems like a double blow of sorts.

Besides not being able to secure an extension for its PPA, the company has also lost out in its joint bid with its Japanese partner Marubeni Corp for the 1,000MW-1,400MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant project in Prai, which has gone to TNB's pocket.

Plants for sale?

YTLP has two power plants in Malaysia; one in Paka, Terengganu, and another in Pasir Gudang, Johor. The company wholly owns both the gas-fired plants that come with a combined generation capacity of 1,212MW, or about 30% of the total electricity generated by IPPs under the first-generation PPAs.

According to analysts, YTLP's Paka and Pasir Gudang power plants, which are built on land leased from TNB, are already near the end of their lifespan and are therefore no longer operating competitively.

Analysts suspect plans are already under way for YTLP to hive off its Malaysian power plants, which they claim is in line with recent developments in the country's power-generation industry that saw tycoon T Ananda Krishnan selling his Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd to 1MDB in a RM8.5bil deal in March and Genting Bhd selling its Genting Sanyen to 1MDB in a RM2.3bil deal last month.

"Judging from recent trend, it won't be surprising if YTLP were to sell its Malaysian power plants to someone else. It makes sense for the company to do so and perhaps this is the only plausible plan for YTLP at this juncture," an analyst says.

"The non-renewal of YTLP's PPA with TNB implies that the former's power plants will be of no use after September 2015, and YTLP will then have to vacate from the land (which belongs to TNB) by dismantling its power plants. This clearing process' will incur additional costs," he explains.

Analysts assert that the effect of YTLP selling its Malaysian power plants will be a positive one on the company, although the pricing will be an issue.

"The valuation may not be that attractive given that the power plants have aged considerably," an analyst says.

When it comes to who could likely emerge as the potential buyer of YTLP's Malaysian power plants, the common answer among analysts seems to be found in 1MDB.

"It's clear that 1MDB has embarked on a plan to become a major power player in the country. Its strategy so far has been by acquiring existing power assets," an analyst says, adding that it is believed 1MDB have started doing its due diligence on the potential to acquire YTLP's power plants.

Yeoh, however, refuses to comment on whether the group has received any offer for its Malaysian power plants, asserting that the announcement (if any) will be made through the proper channel.

Growing business

Meanwhile, Yeoh seems unfazed about not getting the renewal for YTLP's PPA that is due for maturity in Sept 30, 2015.

"Malaysia makes up only a small portion of our business. The bulk of our business revenue come from outside Malaysia," he explains, to which analysts agree.

Besides the power plants in Malaysia, YTLP also has power businesses in Singapore, Indonesia and Australia, and operates a water and sewerage business in the United Kingdom through its wholly owned Wessex Water Services Ltd.

Apparently, the stock market has already priced in the possibility of YTLP not getting renewal of its PPA with TNB. This, according to analysts, is evidenced in the recent movement of YTLP's share price.

The counter has been on a downtrend since mid-August, losing 23 sen, or 12.7%, from RM1.81 on Aug 15 to a low of RM1.58 on Oct 12. The outcome of the renegotiation of PPAs between first generation IPPs and TNB, and the winner of the 1,000MW-1,400MW CCGT power plant project in Prai were announced on Oct 9.

YTLP on Thursday closed at RM1.61, unchanged from a day earlier.

Analysts think YTLP's shares are significantly undervalued at present. Based on the company's fundamentals, the average target price among analysts who cover the counter is valued at more than RM2 a share.

"We are not overly concerned about YTLP not getting an extension for its PPA, as the company's power business in Malaysia contributes not more than 20% to its earnings, and only around 10% to the YTL Corp," an analyst says.

"Its big business comes from overseas, and these businesses have so far been performing quite healthily despite the global economic uncertainties," he adds.

In another note, a market observer points out that YTLP not getting an extension for its PPA will not have an immediate impact on the company's earnings.

"We have to be reminded that until the end of September 2015, operations at the Paka and Pasir Gudang power will remain status quo, and YTLP will still be deriving income from those operations," he highlights.

"It's still some time to go, so the company may likely have something new up its sleeves already, given the business acumen of YTLP's management," the analyst explains.

With a cash pile of RM9.5bil as at the end of June 30, 2012, (up from RM7.1bil a year ago), analysts reckon that YTLP has the capability to expand through new acquisitions, or the development of new capacities.

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Be flexible with young talents

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:16 PM PDT

THE lingering issue of the shortage of young talent in the advertising industry can be tackled if proper steps are put in place to attract this group, according to a veteran in the ad industry.

Naga DDB chief operating officer David Mitchell says ad agencies need to understand how this group thinks and what is their purpose in life if they were to retain young talents in the competitive creative industry.

"The onus is on the industry to make it attractive for the younger group to join the creative industry, as this will help minimise the shortage of talent facing the industry.

"The younger generation now has more options compared with 15 or 20 years ago as they now no longer look solely at, among others, remuneration," he tells StarBizWeek in an interview.

Mitchell, who is also the Kancil Awards 2012 organising chairman, says agencies need to be flexible when dealing with this group and provide them a balance between the serious nature of the work and fun.

For example, the design of the office and ambiance must be conducive to the younger group for them to stay on, he adds, noting that banking on consumerism and brands alone is not enough to attract young talents but rather promoting social change and clearly spelling out the purpose in life is the way forward.

Some ad agencies, he says, have realised this phenomenon and are taking steps to better understand this group so as to retain them over the long term.

Meanwhile, Mitchell says he is confident that Malaysian creative work can compete globally and can be of worldwide standard.

To achieve this, close collaboration between agencies and the relevant parties, including agency team members, clients, suppliers and vendors is needed to develop a true Malaysian ad campaign.

For example, he says, the late Yasmin Ahmad won international recognition by winning an award in Cannes as she told "Malaysian stories from the Malaysian context", adding that creative work and campaigns have to be authentic and of true Malaysian spirit and identity.

On the issue of scam ads competing in events, Mitchell says it has declined dramatically as it is not a true representation of creative work although it was an issue in the past.

Apart from digital media, he says, one of the trends in the ad industry, moving forward, is also about effectively engaging with clients and not a one-way communication alone.

The Kancil Awards 2012, organised by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As), has to-date attracted 30% more entries than last year's competition. According to 4As, the Posters category received the largest number of entries, followed by the Cyber and Film/Radio categories.

Non-Broadcast Film, a new category this year, has drawn about 50 entries. Another new category is Radio Non-Broadcast for radio ads that are not aired on radio stations but over PA systems in supermarkets, shopping malls, petrol stations, elevators, buses and telephone.

This year's awards ceremony will be held on Nov 2 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, with the theme "Stop Dreaming".

Leo Burnett, Arc Malaysia appoint Kay managing director

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:15 PM PDT

LEO Burnett Malaysia and its sister division, Arc Worldwide, have appointed Robert Kay as its new managing director.

"Kay's passion for creativity and brands has allowed him to engage with some of the most recognised names in travel (Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways), financial services (Westpac, NAB and Invest AD), automotive (Mercedes-Benz and Fiat), beverages (The Coca-Cola Co, Lion Nathan and Carlsberg Tetley) and technology (HP and StarHub)," said Leo Burnett in a recent statement.

"His work has been recognised at Cannes, One Show, D&AD and Campaign Press & Posters and at major effectiveness awards."

Leo Burnett Group Malaysia chief executive officer Tan Kien Eng said Kay's vast experience in a variety of fields would be "a plus" in ensuring the agency's growth.

"We have had amazing growth for the past five years, almost doubling an already large scale agency. This is the perfect time as we are at a stage where we need to strengthen our management team to ensure that we have the best people to take us on to the next phase of growth," he said in the same statement.

Over the years, Kay has worked for a number of world-class companies including in managing all aspects of marketing and product development for Australasia within a US$2.2bil division of The Coca-Cola Co; as account leader for Saatchi & Saatchi in both the United Kingdom and Australia; and as leader of one of Asia's most awarded marketing-services companies.

"His most recent experience in Abu Dhabi as managing director for TBWA included working with the national airline of the UAE, Abu Dhabi's Formula 1, and the government's Media Zone Authority and investment fund in this rapidly growing city at the crossroads of East and West," said Leo Burnett.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Live chat with Hugh Jackman and James Mangold

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 05:20 AM PDT

The timing kind of sucks for those of us living on this side of the globe, but it remains an opportunity of a lifetime, especially if you are seriously waiting for next year's film, The Wolverine.

Actor Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold, who are about to wrap up the filming process in Sydney, Australia, will be participating in a live global fan chat from the movie set at 4am, on Oct 30 (Malaysian time and date).

So, if you have anything you want to ask, visit The Wolverine on Facebook (facebook.com/TheWolverineMovie) or on Twitter (twitter.com/wolverinemovie) to submit those burning questions. Be sure to include the hashtags #TheWolverineMovie or #TheWolverineLive when you send your questions. If you are still unsure of how or what to do, let Jackman and Mangold do the explaining of how this live chat thing works at http://youtu.be/bJ0TysDdbBk/.

Come Oct 30, check out what the duo have to say about the film or see whether they answer your questions via YouTube (youtube.com/thewolverinemovie) or the film's official website at TheWolverineMovie.com. The host for the night will be Marvel's Agent M. No, really.

The live chat will then be available on The Wolverine, X-Men and Marvel social pages (facebook.com/xmenmovies and facebook.com/Marvel), as well as on Jackman's Facebook fan page (facebook.com/HughJackman).

The Wolverine opens in cinemas in Malaysia on July 25, 2013.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Thief 'shocked' to death while trying to steal power cable

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:34 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: A 40-year-old man was electrocuted while trying to steal a power cable in Kampung Muhibbah, Bukit Jalil at 4.30am Friday.

Cheras District Police chief ACP Mohan Singh Tara Singh said the victim, who has past criminal records, leaves behind a wife and three children.

Mohan Singh said the victim's body was sent to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre for post mortem. - Bernama

Govt urged to seek public consultation over proposal to defer death penalty for drug traffickers

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:25 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government should seek public consultation before a final decision is taken on reviewing the mandatory death penalty for drug offenders, said Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

He said although this proposal was made to save Malaysians who became drug mules abroad, but in cases in Malaysia, it was a known and established fact that the introduction and implementation of the mandatory death penalty for drug offenders had not been a deterrent to drug trafficking.

"In my view, the reason is not cogent enough to justify the removal of the death penalty, much as we want to help save the lives of Malaysian drug mules detained abroad," he said in a statement here Friday.

He said there must be more convincing reasons to scrap the death sentence for drug offenders, considering the fact that drug offences were more serious than murder as drugs could ruin the young generation, the community and the nation.

Furthermore, there were no studies to suggest that the death penalty had deterred drug traffickers and there were still many cases of arrests either for trafficking or possession of drugs.

"My argument is that we should not rush through such an important matter before we are convinced that the decision we take is right and appropriate.

"It should not be just based on human rights or humanitarian reasons, for if that is so, then what about the rights of those who were ruined by drugs," he said.

He again stressed there was no certainty that drug-related offences would reduce if the mandatory death sentence was abolished.

"And if we are to do away with the death penalty, why confine only to drug offenders and not to others. Are we prepared to consider abolishing the death penalty for all offences as capital punishment is incompatible with a modern, civilised justice system?

"So there are many issues to ponder over before the Government makes the ultimate and critical decision, and rationale must prevail," he said.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz made the proposal to defer the mandatory death sentence for offenders convicted under the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1952 and brought the proposal to Cabinet for consideration. - Bernama

Related Stories:
Cabinet to get proposal to defer sentences of those on death row for drug trafficking
Death penalty may be scrapped for drug offences

KK airport likely to be closed Friday night as well; RMAF flying in portable runway lights as temporary measure

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 04:18 AM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu Internationl Airport (KKIA) here is likely to remain close for a second night as officials seek Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) assistance to put up temporary portable lights on the runway to allow landings.

It is learned that the portable lights were being flown in from the RMAF base in Subang and might arrive late Friday as an emergency measure to facilitate late night landings.

Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) and its engineers were still trying to find what triggered a major blackout on the runway at 6.20pm Thursday.

MAB, which has remained tight-lipped over the incident or steps being taken to resolve it, is keeping the airport open for now and is very likely to shut down the airport again by 6.30pm if the lights are not available.

At least 4,000 passengers, including many returning home for Aidiladha celebrations, were left stranded after 40 flights were cancelled or rescheduled following the sudden closure of the airport Thursday.

Meanwhile, in a statement Friday evening, MAB said the runway would remain closed for night operations until 10.00pm while it made attempts to rectify the situation.

"Efforts are being made to install a backup portable lighting system to enable restricted night operations.

"Further updates will be made in due course as soon as the backup portable lighting system is in place," it added.

Related Stories:
Power supply to KK airport stable and uninterrupted, says SESB
Flights resume at Kota Kinabalu International Airport
Faulty runway lights cause standstill at KKIA

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Big ramifications for Marvel universe as crossover event ends

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 07:35 AM PDT

Marvel's big crossover event of 2012 comes to an end, with huge ramifications for the entire Marvel universe. Warning, spoilers ahead!

Avengers Vs X-Men #12 (of 12)
Writers: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Artists: John Romita Jr, Adam Kubert and Oliver Coipel
Publisher: Marvel Comics

IT usually starts with a bang, but ends with a whimper – this has been a consistent trend with the last few Marvel mega-crossovers, i.e. Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion and Fear Itself. Therefore, as I reviewed the finale to this year's Avengers Vs X-Men (AVX), I felt a glimmer of hope that the House of Ideas will finally live up to its namesake.

Starting off on a positive note, AVX #12 finally brought closure to 2005's House of M event, in which the Scarlet Witch cast the omnipotent "No More Mutants!" spell, which consequently downsized the mutant population to fewer than 200 members. Things will be different after this issue, though, as the Mutant gene pool receives an unexpected boost albeit with drastic ramifications.

The mutant repopulation is not the only thing that AVX should be remembered for. Other highlights of the series include Professor X's "death", the return of the Phoenix Force, the emergence of Hope Summers, Scarlet Witch's redemption, and the end of Cyclops' reign as mutantkind's spokesperson.

With all of the above packed into a dozen issues (plus preludes, spin-offs and epilogues), we should have been in for a treat, right?

Well, yes and no. With great creative powers come great expectations, and AVX sizzles and fizzles throughout the journey. While the battle scenes trigger some adrenaline rush, the "rush effect" is also evident in the art work and plot, especially when trying to do justice to Phoenix Force's role.

Marvel helpfully breaks the 12-parter story into three acts, namely "It's Coming!", "No More Avengers" and "There Can Only Be One". The first act focuses on Phoenix Force's return to Earth in search of a new host. With Hope Summers identified as the host, both the X-Men and Avengers have separate plans to capitalise on (or neutralise) the situation. While Cyclops views this as a turning point for mutantkind, Captain America (and the Avengers) perceives the Phoenix as a bringer of chaos. Inevitably, both teams engaged in several mouth-watering clashes – with Iron Man's attempt to destroy the Phoenix Force resulting in it being separated into five parts and possessing the "Phoenix Five" – Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Magik and Colossus.

With the Phoenix's might shared by five mutants, the balance shifts towards the X-Men, as Cyclops retaliates with a "No More Avengers" battle cry. Act two of AVX outlines the dark side of the X-Men as the Phoenix Five are gradually corrupted by their newfound powers (Magik's act of bringing Limbo to Earth and using it to "host" captured Avengers is a good example of this).

With the Phoenix Five dedicating their powers towards remodelling Earth in Utopia-fashion, the Avengers and governments are wary of their intentions and opt for the offensive, with Hope as their main protagonist. Having trained under Cyclops' "tough love" regime, Hope's mutant abilities are enhanced via the "Kun Lun experience" on the ways of the Iron Fist. In between, Wakanda gets the dubious honour of becoming this mega event's first ground zero, as Namor wrecks havoc on the Black Panther's home turf. It takes the combined might of the Avengers to halt Namor's trail of destruction but the outcome proves futile, as his "Phoenix essence" is transferred to the other four hosts after his defeat.

With the odds against the Avengers seemingly insurmountable, the usual head-on collision and test of brute strength is cast aside in preference of an unorthodox combination – Hope and Hex (Scarlet Witch's chaos magic). Ironically, the two mutants are humanity's last hope (no pun intended) and it takes a combination of good luck and greed for the Avengers to defeat the remaining Phoenix hosts (Cyclops excluded). However, these victories ring hollow as Team-Avengers suffer a massive casualty in Professor X – who is killed by his greatest prodigy, Cyclops.

Realising that having just half of the Phoenix Force is insufficient against an evolving Hope, Cyclops usurps the other half from Emma Frost, which completes his transformation into Dark Phoenix! However, even that proves inadequate against the combined might of Hope and Scarlet Witch, as they thrash Cyclops and Hope fulfills her prophecy by becoming the new Phoenix. Fortunately, then comes the twist, with the Scarlet Witch redeeming her past sins by collaborating with Hope to cast a "No More Phoenix" spell. Reversing her earlier "No More Mutants" spell, this new spell disperses the Phoenix force and reactivates the mutant gene pool.

As the main culprit behind this whole fracas, Cyclops certainly deserved the worst punishment; but somehow only gets thrown in prison, and is even playing the martyr who "saved mutantkind". To prevent an immediate mutant resurgence, Captain America and Wolverine form a new Uncanny Avengers team to hunt Cyclops' former followers, who are now in the wind. These post-events form the foundation to the upcoming Marvel Now books, but what I am more interested in is the restoration of Wakanda, and the irreconcilable state of affairs between ex-couple, Storm and Black Panther.

Overall, AVX is not the finished article, just like the mega events of the last few years. Combining the X-Men, Avengers and Phoenix in one plot is a no-brainer when it comes to sales, but the creative team's failure to capitalise on the "ingredients" resulted in a rather shallow plot. No doubt, AVX turned out to be quite eventful, especially with milestones such as the mutant gene pool being reactivated, Scarlet Witch's redemption and Professor X's death, but the manner in which the Phoenix Five was formed and defeated seems rather haphazard, and provided minimal build-up space.

Marvel's persistence in applying the crossover approach to its books is fast losing appeal and runs the risk of over-hyping its universe. Compounding matters further is the exploitation of characters like Wolverine and Spider-Man, both of whom feature in a combined double-digit number of monthly titles. Perhaps it is best that Marvel consolidates its machinery and spends more time focusing on individual characters (like what they are doing with Daredevil), instead of relying on mega-sleepovers like AVX.

Comics courtesy of earth638 (2nd Floor, Kelana Mall, Jalan SS6/12, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel: 03-78048380, email: earth638@yahoo.com)

Book review: Carnival of Souls

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 07:34 AM PDT

At the Carnival of Souls, daimons can fight in the once-in-a-lifetime Competition to become a ruler of the City.

Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: HarperCollins, 306 pages

THE Carnival of Souls is the heart of The City, the other dimensional home of daimons and, once upon a time, witches.

A war between the witches and daimons resulted in the victorious daimons exiling the witches to our Earth, where they live in hiding. The only exceptions are a few "tame" witches under the control of their daimon owners.

In the rigid daimon caste system, there is little room for social advancement except through the once-in-a-generation Competition organised by Marchiosas, ruler of the City.

Kaleb is a cur, a member of the lowest daimon caste. Tired of killing and selling his body to survive, he joins the Competition to seek a better life for himself and his packmate, Zevi.

Aya is of the ruling caste, but being female means that her only option is to marry and bear children for her husband. However, Aya carries a secret that makes it impossible for her to do this, even though she is in love with fellow ruling caste member, Belias, who has proposed to her. Her only option is to join the Competition, where the prize is to become one of the true rulers of the City.

Meanwhile, Mallory is a regular teenage girl on our Earth. Or as regular as you can get, with an adopted father who is a witch, and constant moving around to avoid daimon detection. Although she thinks she is just a human girl, Mallory's heritage is more complex than she knows. Things get more complicated when she develops a crush on Kaleb, who, unbeknownst to her, has been contracted to travel to Earth to track her down and keep an eye on her.

The lives of these teenagers come together in an unexpected way, and their decisions may determine the fate of the City and the outcome of the vendetta between daimons and witches.

Author Melissa Marr obviously has a very well-realised vision of her fantasy world in Carnival Of Souls, which translates into her writing. However, she appears to sometimes forget that the reader doesn't know this world like she does, and certain basic concepts are either left to the reader to figure out, or explained only much farther into the story – which basically means you spend the first part of the story trying to guess what certain things mean.

She also drops us right into the middle of the action, with Kaleb and Mallory already having known each other for a month or so, and the Competition already moving into the final stages, with 10 fighters left. This can be irritating if you're the type of reader who likes to follow a story right from the proper beginning. Personally, this decision of Marr's didn't bother me too much.

I do wish that she had fleshed out the City and the Untamed Lands that surround it a bit more, though. Marr concentrates fully on describing the Carnival of Souls, leaving the rest of the daimons' dimension a rather blankish slate, even though she does drop tantalising hints about what may be out in the Untamed Lands (where Zevi spent a large part of his life).

And you have no idea how grateful I am to be reading a Young Adult story where there are no love triangles!

Conflicted romance there definitely is, what with Mallory discovering that Kaleb is a dreaded enemy daimon, and Aya stabbing Belias to death when they are matched against each other in the Competition. But at least who likes who is clear enough, even though they all have various issues – and some pretty big secrets and revelations – to work through.

The story is told from the various points of view of the main characters, and Marr has chosen to give them a very stream-of-consciousness type of narrative style. While the style, to me, reflects the way thoughts would run through a typical teenager's mind, it did tend to get a little too much at times – possibly a reflection of my age (sigh).

Otherwise, I would recommend this book to supernatural fantasy book-lovers of the witchy and magic persuasion. Do note that the ending indicates a sequel is planned.

Malaysian Booker Prize nominee Tan Twan Eng wants to keep evolving as a writer

Posted: 26 Oct 2012 07:33 AM PDT

Having been shortlisted for the literary world's most prestigious prize, Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng is our best bet at eventually winning it. But while his fans might wait with bated breath, all he wants to do is keep evolving as a writer.

TAN Twan Eng, the first Malaysian to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, has had a busy couple of weeks. In London last week, his schedule was so packed that he declined to meet for an interview, preferring to respond to questions via e-mail instead.

His busy schedule is not surprising considering that Oct 16 was the day that the prize winner was announced. (It was Hilary Mantel, for Bring Up The Bodies.)

An e-mail interview with Tan had to suffice, and it turns out that his answers are as fascinating for the way they are crafted as they are for their content. Here's his description of how he first heard, while he was in London, that his second novel, The Garden Of The Evening Mists, had been shortlisted: "I was walking up and down Oxford Street on the morning Sir Peter Stothard and the other judges were going to reveal the six names they had whittled down from 12. It was early and many of the shops had not opened their doors."

Tan goes on to explain that he managed to forget about the announcement while reading the newspapers at a cafe. Then, "My agent rang me at around 11.30am. I had made the shortlist. I looked at the people around me, a huge silly smile breaking over my face. It was hard to restrain myself from telling all of them the news," he writes.

Later that the evening, he attends a dinner hosted for the shortlisted authors to meet the judges, members of the press and other people connected to the prize: "They packed hundreds of people into The Orangery in Holland Park. The noise level was crushing."

That he would be so descriptive in merely a reply to a nosy journalist not only indicates how well Tan tells his stories but perhaps also how much he loves doing so. After all, the Penang-born Tan, 40, gave up a career in law to write full time; he has written two books so far in his current base in South Africa.

Tan's first book, The Gift Of Rain, published in 2007, was critically acclaimed and has been translated into several languages. Set in Penang during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya during WWII, the book was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize – not a bad feat at all for a debut.

The long-listing brought Tan a lot of attention, but even he did not expect it to scale to the level that it has with the shortlisting.

"I thought I had my experience of being longlisted a few years ago to rely on, but I have discovered that the media scrutiny is much, much more intense and demanding," he says, adding that he has had to start making time for interviews and deal with requests to write articles.

However, the publicity also brought him much support. "The goodwill expressed to me by people from around the world – friends, strangers, and interviewers – was immense. They were all so enthusiastic in cheering for me, and I was disappointed for them when I did not win," he says.

And he's no sore loser: Tan has only good things to say about Mantel.

"I'm sure all five of us shortlisted authors were disappointed we didn't win. But we lost to a formidably talented writer," he says before going on to do what he does best, elaborate on his story: "Before I met (her), I thought she'd be a difficult person to get along with, but within minutes of our first meeting I found her to be a lovely person – gracious, extremely friendly, down-to-earth, and sincere. A week before the dinner at the Guildhall I told my agent, 'If I don't win, then I hope Hilary does.'"

Even though Tan had made it a point not to read the books of his fellow nominees until after the winner had been announced, he admits to having "cheated" and read a couple of pages of Mantel's book – and "It was extremely difficult not to keep on reading. I'm very keen to get started on her book now," he says.

A good storyteller doesn't only work with his or her words, but also keeps the audience – in this case, the reader – in mind every step of the way. In an interview with The Star in 2007, Tan explained his formula for keeping the pace of his book entertaining for readers: "I thought that if I got bored writing a scene, then people were going to get bored reading it. And I get bored easily."

Five years on, Tan still thinks of his reader's experience as much as he did before. When asked if he has any actors in mind for the lead characters from his books should they be adapted for the screen (Mantel had recently announced that her two books would be turned into stage plays), Tan declines to answer.

"I never state my preference for any actors to play the lead characters – it would reduce my readers' enjoyment of my books as they already have their ideas of how the characters look like," he says, adding that, while he has received adaptation offers, he has not yet found the right people "for various reasons".

Tan's rise to success as a fiction writer seems to be moving at a steady pace and in the right direction. His first book was long-listed while his second was shortlisted. Could a win be in sight with his third? This might just be the case if Tan has anything to do with it.

"Even if I had not been long-listed or shortlisted, I'm always striving to improve my writing, to evolve. Each book I write has to be better than the previous one. That's the only way a writer can grow," he says.

That response suggests that a third book is in the works, although Tan does not want to discuss it ("I don't like talking about my works-in-progress; I'd rather be writing them"). Still, it would appear that storytelling is what Tan will continue doing and, no doubt, with the success of both his books – Tan said that the shortlisting has boosted the sales of both his books tremendously – the literary world awaits his third with bated breath.

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