Isnin, 12 November 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Three rockets hit Afghan capital - police

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 08:35 PM PST

KABUL (Reuters) - A rocket landed near the Afghan intelligence agency in Kabul and two others struck near the airport highway and a private television station, security officials said.

The rocket attacks were a reminder of Afghanistan's security challenges as most NATO combat troops prepare to withdraw at the end of 2014.

Kabul Police Chief Ayoub Salangi said insurgents positioned the rockets on the eastern outskirts of Kabul. He said three civilians were wounded and one was in critical condition.

Militants have in the past launched several high-profile attacks in Kabul.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Miral Fahmy)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Three rockets hit Afghan capital-police

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 08:08 PM PST

KABUL (Reuters) - A rocket landed near the Afghan intelligence agency in Kabul and two others struck near the airport highway and a private television station, security officials said.

The rocket attacks were a reminder of Afghanistan's security challenges as most NATO combat troops prepare to withdraw at the end of 2014.

Kabul Police Chief Ayoub Salangi said insurgents positioned the rockets on the eastern outskirts of Kabul. He said three civilians were wounded and one was in critical condition.

Militants have in the past launched several high-profile attacks in Kabul.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Miral Fahmy)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

FBI agents search house of Petraeus' former mistress

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 08:01 PM PST

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - FBI agents searched the North Carolina house of Paula Broadwell on Monday, signalling renewed activity in the investigation that revealed her extramarital affair with CIA Director David Petraeus that led to his resignation.

Agents entered the house in Charlotte, North Carolina, carrying boxes around 9:00 p.m. (0200 GMT Tuesday) and were still there almost two hours later.

Commander of the International Security Assistance Force/U.S. Forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus shakes hands with author Paula Broadwell in this ISAF handout photo originally posted July 13, 2011. REUTERS/ISAF/Handout

Commander of the International Security Assistance Force/U.S. Forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus shakes hands with author Paula Broadwell in this ISAF handout photo originally posted July 13, 2011. REUTERS/ISAF/Handout

U.S. officials had said in recent days that their investigation in the Petraeus affair was largely complete and that prosecutors had determined it was unlikely they would bring charges in the case, which started as suspected cyber-harassment involving Broadwell and Jill Kelley, a Petraeus friend.

Lawmakers and others have questioned whether Broadwell, who co-wrote a biography of the decorated former general, obtained classified information from him or another source.

There was no sign that Broadwell or members of her family were at the house during the FBI search.

Shelley Lynch, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Charlotte, confirmed that agents were at the house but declined further comment.

(Reporting by David Ingram and Rick Rothacker; editing by Philip Barbara)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Twilight' fans camp out for vampire farewell

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 06:06 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Thousands of excited "Twilight" fans have been camping out in Los Angeles to await the last episode of the blockbuster saga - and not even chilly temperatures could cool their vampire passions.

The past few nights have been decidedly brisk by California standards, but that has not deterred what has become something of a November tradition: a small tent city sprouting up outside the Nokia Theatre in downtown LA.

"Robeeeert!", "Kristeeeen!" and "Tayloooor!" come the regular cries from teenage fans agog to see their heroes at the red carpet - sorry black carpet - premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" Monday evening.

The "Twilight" mini-camp began last Thursday, with some willing to camp out for days for an autograph, a photo or just a smile from the stars of the movie, the fifth and final installment of the saga.

"I've been here since 'New Moon'," 19-year-old Sean Evans told AFP, referring to the second "Twilight" movie in 2009.

"Before, it was on a first-come, first-served basis, but this year, they had a lottery, and I didn't get camp number 1. I'm on 6, in a parking lot," he said, visibly disappointed.

Camp number 1, which is right next to the black carpet, is clearly the best location but only houses a small fraction - in six rows of tents - of the 2,200 places allocated by lottery by Lionsgate-Summit, which produces the saga.

Fans have traveled from around the world to be here: flags from Britain, Venezuela, France, Spain, Australia and Canada hang from tents alongside posters and other knick-knacks.

One tent is draped with white flowers as a make-shift wedding chapel for "Twilight" heroes Bella Swan, played by Kristen Stewart, and Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson.

Thais Santos came from Belem in northern Brazil with her mother Maria, and won a prized place in Camp Number 1. "My mom helped me because she knows it's my dream," she said.

Her excitement knew no bounds when three actors from the movie - not the major stars themselves - turned up to greet fans in the afternoon, provoking near-hysteria.

"It's an amazing experience. I made so many friends here. I just met the actors and that was amazing, I have autographs and everything ... It's a dream come true," said the 19-year-old.

She said her world is divided into Before Twilight and After Twilight.

"I like Harry Potter, I grew up with Harry Potter," she said, referring to J.K. Rowling's boy wizard. "But in the middle of this 'Twilight' showed up and it was amazing, because I was kind of sad at that time," she said.

"I had problems in my family and 'Twilight' made me happy. Since then I'm another person, it changed me.

I'm a more happy person, I made so many friends with 'Twilight'."

Her biggest wish is to meet Stewart, she says.

"I'm crazy about her. I love her more than anything, she's my diva. I want to touch her, just to see if she's real. I hope she will sign on a piece of paper because I want to make a tattoo with it," Santos said.

"I love, love, love her. She's so nice, she's so cool."

Californian Evans says his "hero" is Taylor Lautner, who plays shape-shifting wolf-man Jacob Black. "I've gotten a picture a few time but it's the last premiere, the last time I'm going to camp out for a movie.

"So hopefully I get one last one," said Evans, one of the few boys camping out in a sea of teenage girls.

Well, not only girls: there is also, a little further away, a group of "Twilight Moms."

Jenny Updike left her five children at home in Draper, Utah to come camp out in LA.

"It's such a refreshing love story. I think that Edward, the character, he speaks to every woman's heart. It's the kind of communication and the kind of companionship that every woman wants," she said.

And what is she going to do, once the "Twilight" saga is over? "Just keep my friends, these are my friends and we're going to stick together and have 'Twilight' reunions all the time," she said.

"And have another baby, a sixth one," added the 37-year-old. - AFP

Sesame Street puppeteer denies underage sex claim

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 06:06 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: The puppeteer behind Elmo on "Sesame Street" said Monday he was taking time out from the US children's TV show to fight a "defamatory" claim he had a sexual relationship with an underage boy.

Kevin Clash, the man behind the furry red character's high-pitched voice and frenetic gestures, admitted he had a relationship with his accuser, who claims he was 16 years old when they started dating, according to studio officials.

But Clash said the accuser was not under the age of consent, which is 17 in New York, where the show is made.

"I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter. I had a relationship with the accuser," said Clash, in a statement forwarded to AFP by publicist Risa Heller.

"It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation."

Sesame Workshop, the studio behind the legendary show, said it was contacted by a man who claimed to have had a relationship with Clash seven years ago, when he was 16. Clash was reportedly 45 at the time.

"In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a then 23-year-old man who alleged that he had a relationship beginning when he was 16 years old with Kevin Clash," it said.

"We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action," it added, noting it had interviewed both the accuser and Clash about the claims.

"We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated," it said.

"Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage and he was disciplined.

"Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory and he has taken actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so."

The studio insisted the claim would not have an impact on the show, or the character, saying: "Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world."

The story is the second involving "Sesame Street" to make headlines in recent months after fellow character Big Bird became embroiled in the US presidential campaign, when Mitt Romney vowed to end public subsidies for the program.

Republican Romney, who was much lampooned for his Big Bird comment during a debate with Democratic President Barack Obama, lost the election on November 6.

The program, which first appeared on public television in November 1969, teaches children the basics of reading, writing and counting. - AFP


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Rivalry with top stars keeps Federer coming back

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 05:09 PM PST

LONDON: Roger Federer insists his dramatic defeat against Novak Djokovic in the final of the ATP Tour Finals was exactly the kind of epic showdown that stops him thinking about retiring.

Federer's two-year reign as Tour Finals champion was brought to an end by a brilliant display from Djokovic, who underlined his status as the world number one by taking everything the Swiss great could throw at him and then hitting back even harder.

Djokovic eventually won 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 after two hours and 14 minutes of enthralling action at London's O2 Arena on Monday, denying Federer the chance to add to his six Tour Finals titles and leading the 31-year-old to acknowledge the thrill he gets from going toe to toe with such a spirited rival.

"It's part of the puzzle that makes me motivated, trying to play against the likes of Novak, Andy (Murray) and Rafa (Nadal)," Federer said.

"I think we had some great stuff out there. It was good playing such points.

"It's great playing against these guys because the ball does come back a few more times than against other players and you get those great rallies going.

"I love playing against the young guys as well, because to many of them I'm an idol which is kind of strange to me.

"But it's nice seeing them grow, see what the next generation comes up with."

Federer admitted he was frustrated to let the title slip through his fingers after leading by a break in each set.

But the 17-time Grand Slam champion acknowledged Djokovic had come up with some superb shots at the key moments.

"Maybe I have a bit of regret because I had the lead twice first before him," Federer said.

"But at the end of the day, that doesn't matter. You have to get over the finish line in the set and then obviously at the end of the match. He was better at that today.

"You have to talk about me serving really fast three or four times and him bringing back a bullet. I think this is where he gets me on the back foot."

Although Federer's 2012 campaign ended on a low note, a season which includes winning Wimbledon for the seventh time, as well as taking a silver medal at the London Olympics, can't be regarded as a failure and the Swiss is already plotting how to add more silverware to his trophy cabinet next year.

"I reflect in a nice way. I think it's been a fantastic season to be part of," Federer said.

"I'm very pleased that I was able to pick up my performance at the end of the season, like I played now this week. So obviously that gives me confidence for next year.

"I haven't really set clear goals yet for next year. I first have to make sure I create my schedule so it makes sense.

"I need to practice a whole lot more next year, because this year, I hardly did have an opportunity to do. I have some catching up to do in that standpoint." - AFP

Indian duo defeated in doubles final

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 04:36 PM PST

LONDON: Indian duo Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna crashed to a 7-5, 3-6, 10/3 defeat against Spain's Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in the doubles final at the ATP Tour Finals on Monday.

Bhupathi and Bopanna were bidding to win the season-ending event for the first time, but Granollers and Lopez held their nerve in a super tie-break to become the first Spaniards to take the doubles crown at Tour Finals since Juan Gisbert and Manuel Orantes in 1975.

The Indian fifth seeds, who won their first Masters 1000 doubles title in Paris earlier this month, had already enjoyed a significant success at the Tour Finals after beating compatriot and old rival Leander Paes, and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek, in a semi-final grudge match.

But they were unable to maintain their momentum against the Spanish sixth seeds, who had the better of a hard-fought encounter at London's O2 Arena.

It was an especially painful defeat for Bhupathi, who has now lost in the final of the Tour Finals on five occasions, with his previous defeats coming with Paes, before their acrimonious split, in 1997, 1999 and 2000 and in 2010 with Max Mirnyi.

"I was telling Rohan, Now I know how (Ivan) Lendl feels at Wimbledon, five times in the final but I haven't got the title here," Bhupathi said.

"But 15 days ago, we were fighting to make it here.

If you told us we were going to win Paris and make the finals of the Tour Finals, we would take it.

"It's always tough playing Granollers and Lopez.

They're not a conventional doubles team. They make it very, very difficult in more ways than one.

"We fought hard to stay in the match and got ourselves again into a tie-breaker. This time I think we just played a bad tiebreak. That sums it up."

Granollers and Lopez, playing in the Tour Finals for the first time, won the only previous meeting between the teams in the Rome semi-finals in May and that result was to prove a good omen.

The Spaniards had already defeated top ranked American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan in the group stages and they continued their impressive run after taking control of a tight first set when they broke for a 6-5 lead.

Bhupathi and Bopanna made them sweat as they earned a break point in the next game, but the Spaniards were able to serve it out.

Both teams had chances to win the second set, but it was the Indian duo who made the decisive break for a 5-3 lead and then held their nerve to level at one set all.

That meant a super tie-break was needed to settle the match and the Spaniards took the initiative as they raced into a 4-0 lead.

Bhupathi and Bopanna had no answer to that early barrage and they were eventually beaten in one hour and 29 minutes. - AFP

Vonn hospitalized with undisclosed illness

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 03:21 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Four-time alpine World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn has been admitted to hospital in Vail, Colorado, with an undisclosed illness, her spokesman confirmed Monday.

Lewis Kay declined to disclose any further details about Vonn, who cancelled a promotional event in Vail on Friday because she did not feel well.

Vonn skipped a World Cup slalom in Finland at the weekend, preferring to prepare for the giant slalom and slalom set for Aspen, Colorado, on November 24-25.

Vonn, who has won four of the past five women's downhill season crowns, had hoped to compete against men at Lake Louise, Canada, on November 24.

However, that request was turned down by the International Ski Federation. - AFP


The Star Online: Business

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Belize wants to quiz anti-computer virus guru McAfee in murder probe

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 05:01 PM PST

BELIZE CITY: Police in Belize want to question U.S. anti-computer virus software pioneer John McAfee in connection with the murder of a neighbour he had been quarrelling with, but they say he remains a person of interest at this time and is not a suspect.

McAfee, who invented the anti-virus software that bears his name, has homes and businesses in Belize, and is believed to have settled in the country some time around 2010.

"He is a person of interest at this time," said Marco Vidal, head of Belize's police Gang Suppression Unit. "It goes a bit beyond that, not just being a neighbour."

Police officers were looking for the software engineer, said Miguel Segura, the assistant commissioner of police.

Asked if McAfee was a suspect, he said: "At this point, no. Our job ... is to get all the evidence beyond reasonable doubt that Mr A is the one that killed Mr B."

"He (McAfee) ... can assist the investigation, so there is no arrest warrant for the fellow," added Segura, who heads the Criminal Investigation Branch.

McAfee's neighbour, Gregory Viant Faull, a 52-year-old American, was found on Sunday lying dead in a pool of blood after apparently being shot in the head.

McAfee has been embroiled in controversy in Belize before.

His premises were raided in May after he was accused of holding firearms, though most were found to be licensed. The final outcome of the case is pending.

McAfee also owns a security company in Belize as well as several properties and an ecological enterprise.

Reuters was unable to contact McAfee on Monday.

Segura said McAfee had been at odds with Faull for some time. He accused his neighbour of poisoning his dogs earlier this year and filed an official complaint.

"There was some conflict there between (them) ... prior to the death of the gentleman," Segura said. "But those dogs didn't have a post mortem to see if the toxicology would confirm what type of poison, if any."

McAfee previously accused the police Gang Suppression Unit of killing his dogs during the May raid.

McAfee was one of Silicon Valley's first entrepreneurs to amass a fortune by building a business off the Internet.

The former Lockheed systems consultant started McAfee Associates in 1989, initially distributing its anti-virus software as "shareware" on Internet bulletin boards.

He took the company public in 1992 and left two years later following accusations that he had hyped the arrival of a virus known as Michelango, which turned out to be a dud, to scare computer users into buying his company's products. - Reuters


China's financial reformers adapt Party rhetoric in low-key pitch

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 04:59 PM PST

BEIJING: Reform-minded members of China's Communist Party hierarchy this week argued for far-reaching changes to the country's financial system in order to help fix broader social problems, like a divisive gap between rich and poor, and ruin of the environment.

Making their pitch at a gathering of the twice a decade party congress which will climax on Thursday when a new leadership line-up is unveiled, the advocates of change warned China's economic star would fade without pro market reforms.

Contained in otherwise bland statements meant to project an image of unity, the reformers struck at the heart of state economic planning by urging for market forces to be given more influence over credit allocation, that could increase for example innovation in technology, and for restrictions on cross-border capital flows to be relaxed.

To argue their case, the reformists strove to connect their agenda, sometimes tenuously, to broader goals laid out in outgoing President Hu Jintao's keynote speech to the opening of the Congress last Thursday.

Addressing the Congress shortly after Hu, the deputy governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC) and director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, Yi Gang used the president's words to remind the party that the evolution of the financial system was pivotal to the Chinese people's future.

"We all know that after 30 years of development, the gap with developed countries in terms of the food we eat and the clothes we wear isn't very large," Yi said.

"Where there's still a pretty large gap is in terms of air quality, water quality, and other kinds of pollution and environmental problems.

"The construction of a civilised natural environment - this actually involves an incredibly broad range of areas, including how we shape our financial system."

Buried in their carefully worded statements, reformers made veiled calls for further liberalisation of interest rates, which could increase private businesses access to capital, as well as increase interest income for China's vast population of savings account holders.

Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, zeroed in on Hu's call for the development of "multi-level capital markets", arguing that such development would enable China's economy to move up the value chain.

"The real economy is still focused on low value-added production. It is intimately related to the fact that our financial system is not developed. The real economy lags behind because financing is difficult and expensive," Guo told the Congress.

Reformers hope to build on some recent progress. China has launched a high-yield bond market, and granted banks more flexibility to set loan and deposit rates, while there are also plans for the country's domestic commodities exchange to begin trading crude oil futures soon.

According to industry sources, the Shanghai Futures Exchange has sounded out international trading houses which could be allowed to crude oil futures without having a presence in China.

"The speed of internationalisation is going to accelerate over the next few years, both for foreign firms trading into China and Chinese companies going into overseas exchanges," Lili Wang, general manager at Nanhua Futures' International Department, told Reuters.


Opposed to reform are powerful vested interests who benefit from the status quo.

Officials from the big state-owned firms, in their speeches to the Congress, also drew on Hu's speech to argue for the preservation of their near-monopoly position, while calling for more investment in their companies.

Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan, widely seen as a conservative associated with disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai, highlighted the dangers of financial liberalization by pointing to failings in the U.S. financial markets that led to the global financial crisis.

"Everyone has seen what has happened in Western society during this crisis," Huang said. "But it did not happen in China and will not happen."

That, Huang said, was because the Communist Party promotes "the scientific outlook on development", referring to Hu's vision that the benefits of economic growth should be increasingly shared with workers and farmers.

In contrast, advocates of reform have made scant mention of the vague philosophy, which Hu sees as his lasting legacy.

At a media briefing on Sunday chaired by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, not a single reference was made to any communist theories.

Zhou, traditionally a vocal advocate of capital market reform, suggested the pace of interest rate liberalisation should be gradually accelerated.

"If I had to choose between a faster or slower pace, I would say a moderate pace is best," said the central bank chief. "However, we have picked up speed." - Reuters


Google's Android finally earns respect with developers

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 04:51 PM PST

SAN FRANCISCO: The mobile video game Kingdoms at War is popular with owners of Apple Inc's iPhone and Google Inc's Android smartphones alike. But for the game's maker, there is a very important difference - it earns more than double the money on iPhones and iPads than it does on Android devices.

The disparity is a weakness for Android, which has emerged as the world's most widespread mobile operating system, but has long suffered second-class status among software app developers who prefer the prestige, higher revenue potential and uniformity of Apple's rival platform.

But app developers say that is changing fast.

Just three years after Google and partners from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to HTC Corp launched a frontal assault on the iPhone, Android is coming into its own with an improved built-in payment system, a growing fleet of high-end devices and a redesigned app store. That translates into increasing revenue for apps developers.

"When Android first launched, we didn't even really consider going on Android," said Wilkins Chung, the co-founder of Thinking Ape, which makes the Kingdoms at War app.

"Now it's at the point where it makes business sense to invest more resources on Android and try to get there faster. Even though we monetize less, it's still a significant amount of revenue."

Smule, another mobile app developer, released its first Android app this Spring, roughly a year after the iOS version appeared, and in July the company launched an app on both Android and iOS simultaneously. Next year, Smule hopes to launch all its new apps on both platforms at the same time, said General Manager Prerna Gupta.

The monetization level of the Android apps is not as good as it is on Apple's iOS, she conceded, but added: "We've been pleasantly surprised."

A prosperous network of quality app developers is critical for Android as competition among Google, Apple, Amazon.Com Inc and Microsoft Corp in the fast-growing mobile gadget market heats up.

Eye-catching design and top-notch hardware components are key selling points for smartphones and tablets, but vibrant digital apps and content are becoming equally essential to a product's overall appeal.

"Clearly it's gone from being a device war only, to being an ecosystem battle," said Richard Wong, a partner at venture capital firm Accel Partners, which has invested in Rovio, the maker of the hit mobile video game Angry Birds.


During the past year, Google stepped-up efforts to make apps and other digital content into more prominent features on the phones and tablets that use its Android software.

In March, Google overhauled its app store and re-branded it Google Play, with a niftier look and a selection spanning digital music, movies, games and apps all within the same storefront. Google Play now boasts 700,000 Android apps, equal to Apple's collection, although analysts say there are more high-quality apps in Apple's App Store.

Google has also expanded the number of countries in which developers can sell Android apps, added support for monthly and annual app subscriptions and partnered with wireless carriers such as Verizon Wireless and Japan's NTT Docomo Inc to let consumers charge purchases directly to their cell phone accounts.

Roughly three quarters of app purchases on Google Play occur through carrier billing when the option is available, Google has said.

"You just need to make it as easy as possible for consumers to purchase that content," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner.

She noted that Android is particularly popular in emerging economies, where credit cards are less pervasive and thus carrier billing is especially important.

In China, Android-based smartphones accounted for 87.7 percent of smartphone shipments during the third quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, compared with a 60.5 percent market share in the United States.

Yet while Google may enjoy an edge in global market share, Apple and Amazon.Com can draw on years of retail business experience to deftly weave online purchasing capabilities into their mobile devices. With a vast collection of consumer credit cards already on file, both companies have made it a snap for users of their gadgets to quickly buy a digital song, a movie, or an app.

"You buy on your phone with pretty much a click and a password entry," said Jason Titus, the Chief Technology Officer of Shazam, one of the most popular apps on Android and Apple phones, referring to Apple. "They've done a great job of doing a deep integration and making that a seamless experience.

"On Android the music purchase flow is something that has been steadily improving over time, but it still has a little ways to go to get as smooth and easy as it is on iPhone."

Apple has said it has 400 million active accounts with credit cards and that it had paid out a total of $6.5 billion to developers as of October, up from $4 billion in January. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of transactions made in its App store. Google, which has a similar revenue sharing agreement with app developers, declined to provide comparable figures.


In April, app maker Pocket Gem released Tap Dragon Park, a video game exclusively for Android. The monetization was lower than it likely would have been on Apple's iOS, said Chief Operating Officer Ben Liu, but he noted that it was still a commercial success, particularly as Google promoted the app in the Play Store.

"The game made a lot of money for the company," Liu said, and it was an important learning experience in a market that looks increasingly attractive.

The growing number of high-end Android devices - Samsung recently announced it sold 30 million Android-based Galaxy S III phones in five months - is especially appealing for developers. They have often struggled with the many different versions of Android that are available for different types of hardware.

"If you look at the high-end part of the market and do apple to apples of high-end Android phones with iPhones, then I think some of the monetization metrics are comparable," said Liu.

Smule's Gupta pointed to another benefit of releasing an Android app. Shortly after the Google Play store promoted the Android version of AutoRap, an app that records a person talking and transforms it into a rap song, there was a spike in installations for the iOS version.

"It basically enhanced the word-of-mouth growth we were getting for our product and it led to literally millions of downloads," she added. - Reuters



The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Metro Watch

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 06:02 AM PST


The Malaysian Highways Authority (LLM) is offering various discounts and rebates as part of its corporate social responsibility programme. In addition, selected major routes will also be offering rebates for Awal Muharam on Nov 15. The discount rates and rebates will vary between five per cent and 37.5%. The highways involved are the North-South highway, Elite, Seremban-Port Dickson, Kulim-Butterworth, SecondLink, Akleh, Guthrie, LKSA, Cheras-Kajang, New North Klang Straits Bypass (NNKSB), KL-Putrajaya, Duke, Smart, Senai-Desaru, NPE, Besraya, Lekas, Kesas, SKVE, LDP, Sprint, East Coast Phase 1 (LPT 1), KL-Karak (KLK) and KL-Kuala Selangor (Latar).


The Korean Women's Association is organising a Korean charity bazaar on Nov 21 at the Taming Sari Ballroom in the Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur. The bazaar will feature Korean handicrafts, accessories, garments, cosmetics, agricultural and local products. Tickets are priced at RM10 (early bird) and RM15 (on the day of event). Tickets can be purchased at Korean supermarkets and restaurants, For details call 016-306 4811 / 012-205 7300.


Ricoh is calling out to all Malaysians to participate in their 'Make A Change In 100 Minutes' contest. Submissions for the contest will close on Nov 18. Visit for details on how to win cash and prizes worth more than RM 10,000.


The Philatelic Society of Malaysia is organising a stamp fair on Dec 1 and 2 at the PJ Community Library, Lot 389 Jalan Selangor, Seksyen 3, Petaling Jaya from 9.30am to 5.30pm. There will also be a colouring competition for children and daily lucky draws. Pos Malaysia will also be in attendance. Entrance is free. For details call Maniam (012-6043563) or Wong (012-6797931).


Non-profit family support group Ibu, will be hosting its Christmas charity bazaar at the Whitebox and Art Row in Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 18 from 10am onwards. Entry is free. Money raised from table sales and lucky draws will be divided between ibu and it's chosen charities. For details call 03-6211 9183 or visit


Muar High School Class of 1962 will be holding its Golden Anniversary Reunion Dinner in early December in Kuala Lumpur. For details, contact Divakaran at 019-335 2618 or 012-234 0972.


The InsightKIDs child development centre will be hosting the "Un-Halloween Party" to raise funds for the benefit of the Lighthouse Children Welfare Home. The party will be held on Nov17, from 2pm to 6pm at the Olympia Hall, Lower Ground, The Club @ Bukit Utama, 1 Club Drive, Bukit Utama, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya. For details, call 03-2093 6178 (Layka Sethuram), or go to

Toh the tiny terror

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 06:02 AM PST

LITTLE Toh Ro Yong was crowned as the overall champion of the boys' Under-12 category in the three leg Race Walkers Association of Malaysia (RWAM) junior development programme.

In the final leg at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, Ro Yong finished second in a time of 7:37 behind Rahmad Budiman Irja who completed the 1,200m race in 7:37. In third place was See Yee Jiet on 8:11.

As the competition rules, the best two results combined from the three legs will determine the overall champion. Ro Yong's combined time was 14:44 while Rahmad settled for the second spot on 15:08 followed by Gamal Arif Fikri (16:01).

RWAM deputy president Khoo Chong Beng, a former international and IAAF walks judge, said the circuit was a success and was a platform for budding walkers to gauge their progress.

"We are happy with the participation of these young walkers. With this competition, we would be able to correct their techniques and also guide them on their shortcomings. We hope to see more participants next year,'' said Chong Beng.

The circuit which catered for the boys and girls Under-12, Under-15 and Under-18 , was organised by the RWAM with support from Milo.

To encourage the seniors, the RWAM had also included a men and women's category. The men's category covered a distance of 10,000m while it was 3,000m for the women.

Jakarta SEA Games gold medallist Lo Choon Seng was the winner in the men's Open. He clocked 48:06 to win the gold medal in the 10,000m. In second place was Mohd Azizi Anuar (56:41) followed by Cheah Chee Keong (1'36:34). Choon Seng was also the overall champion.

International Norliana Muhd Rusni continued her winning ways in the circuit by bagging the top spot in the women's Open category. She completed the 3,000m walk in 16:45. Another promising national junior Song Gie Chee was second on 18:02 while Chin Fah Mong clocked 24:34 to win the bronze. Norliana was also adjudged as the overall champion in the women's Open category.

Meanwhile, the RWAM has received encouraging response for the Putrajaya International 12-Hour Walk on Dec 8. A maximum 1,200 participants have registered for the event. The event will be flagged off at 8pm.

In conjunction with the 12-Hour Walk, the RWAM will also be organising a 1km walk on Dec 9. The 1km walk, limited to the first 100 participants, is for the Under-12 age group.

For more information, log on to or call 012-200 7716.


Under-12 (1,200m): 1.Rahmad Budiman Irja 7:37; 2. Toh Ro Yong 7:39; 3. See Yee Jiet 8:11

Under-15 (2,000m): 1. Teh Wai Kit 10:10; 2. Muhammad Nuraiman Hamzanye 14:20

Under-18 (3,000m): 1. Mohammad Akram Ismail 17:20; 2. Hafizudin Abdul Salim 19:42


Under-12(1,200m): 1. Celeste Ho Wing Sum 7:49; 2. Nur Ilyana Hazmi 8:19; 3. Aina Natasya Shah 8:20

Under-15 (2,000m): 1. Aina Fadlin Syahmina Abas 12:41; 2. Nur Fadihilah Nasrul 13:35.

Under-18 (3,000m): 1. Charmayne Lee 25:04

Men Open (10,000m) : 1. Lo Choon Seng 48:06; 2. Mohd Azizi Anuar 56:41; 3. Cheah Chee Keong 1'36:34

Women Open (3,000m): 1. Norliana Muhd Rusni 16:45; 2. Song Gie Chee 18:02; 3. Chin Fah Mong 24:34.



Under-12: 1. Toh Ro Yong; 2. Rahmud Budiman Irja; 3. Gamal Arif Fikri

Under-15: 1. Teh Wai Kit; 2. Syed Ahmad Syed Salim; 3. Mohammad Nuraiman Hamzanye

Under-18: 1. Mohammad Akram Ismail; 2. Hafiuzudin Abdul Salim


Under-12: 1. Celeste Ho Wing Sum; 2. Nur Ilyana Hazmi; 3. Aina Natasya Shah

Under-15: 1. Aina Fadlin Syahmina Abas; 2. Nur Fadihilah Nasrul; 3. Mary Magdalene Serina

Under-18: 1. Yap Hui Shan

Men Open: 1. Lo Choon Seng

Women Open: 1. Norliana Muhd Rusni; 2. Song Gie Chee; 3. Lee Siew Keng


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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A one day only Twilight marathon

Posted: 11 Nov 2012 09:55 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: There will be tears shed and sad good-byes to say when the final Twilight installment airs in cinemas next week but fans of the box-office phenomenon can re-live the experience of what has become a multi-million dollar franchise when Nusantara Ederan Filem and Cathay Cineplexes bring you for one day only, the Twilight Saga Marathon.

To be held at Cathay Cineplex e@Curve, The Twilight Saga Marathon is scheduled to begin at 9pm on 23 November 2012 (Friday). The marathon will end with the final and latest Twilight movie, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

The Twilight Saga is based on Stephenie Meyer's popular novels and tells of the developing relationship between Bella Swan, a human, and Edward Cullen, a vampire. As the story develops audiences meet several other characters including Jacob Black, Alice Cullen, Rosalie Hale, Alice Cullen and Carlisle Cullen.

Meyer's novels about Bella, Edward and Jacob ends with Breaking Dawn but Hollywood decided to break the final chapter into two parts. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 was released in 2011 and ended with the birth of Bella's and Edward's miracle child Renesmee.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 opens in cinemas nationwide on 21 November and sees the return of fan favourites , Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner in the lead roles.

Thanks to Nusantara Ederan Filem and Cathay Cineplexes, we have 25 pairs of tickets to the Twilight Saga Marathon. For more details on how you can win a pair of tickets, go to ecentral's facebook page at

New Bond film 'Skyfall' tops N. America box office

Posted: 11 Nov 2012 03:43 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: The new James Bond movie "Skyfall" swept North American box offices this weekend, crushing second-place animated feature "Wreck-It Ralph", industry estimates showed Sunday.

The 23rd episode of the spy thriller series - and the third starring Daniel Craig in the lead role - took in $87.8 million in its first weekend of release, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"Wreck-It Ralph," the animated Disney film about a video game villain with dreams of becoming a hero, garnered $33.1 million, dropping from the top spot it held last week.

"Flight", starring Denzel Washington as a troubled pilot who crash-lands a plane and becomes a national hero, only to have his alcohol and drug problems made public, was third at $15.1 million.

In fourth place was "Argo," based on a true story about six Americans spirited out of Iran during the 1979-80 hostage crisis; the film directed by and starring Ben Affleck earned $6.7 million.

Next in the rankings was "Taken 2" - Liam Neeson's return as ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills - which stayed in fifth place with earnings of $4 million this weekend and $131.3 million since its release.

"Here Comes the Boom," a comedy starring Kevin James as a high school teacher intent on becoming a mixed martial arts fighter to raise money for his school, moved up to sixth place with $2.55 million.

The number seven spot went to the genre-busting, time-traveling "Cloud Atlas," in which Tom Hanks and Halle Berry each play six different roles set across a 500-year span. It took in $2.52 million.

"Pitch Perfect," a musical-comedy about a cappella singing groups, earned $2.5 million to move back into the top 10 in eighth place.

In ninth place was action film "The Man with the Iron Fists," starring Russell Crowe and set in feudal China, which took in $2.5 million.

Rounding out the top 10 was "Hotel Transylvania" about an overprotective vampire dad intent on guarding his adolescent daughter against a budding romance with a human boy. It earned $2.35 million.

Final figures are due out Monday. - AFP


The Star Online: Nation

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Muhyiddin hopes Deepavali will help overcome obstacles to racial unity

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 06:08 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin hopes that Deepavali or the Festival of Lights for the Indian community will help overcome obstacles to unity between various races in this country.

He said this is to ensure that the people enjoy a harmonious life based on the tolerance policy that is very important in a multi-racial country like Malaysia.

In conjunction with the festival celebrated not only by the Indian population but other ethnic groups, he urged the people to be united in building a peaceful and developed Malaysia.

"Deepavali which is a public holiday and falls during the school holidays is the best chance for us to visit and appreciate the contribution of the Indian community which plays a role in developing our beloved country Malaysia."

In his Deepavali message on Monday, Muhyiddin said Deepavali is a symbol celebrating victory of good over evil and light over darkness.

"May the Deepavali celebration this year light up the Indian community in the country to enjoy a better life and lasting prosperity.

"To all Malaysian Hindus, I wish them a Happy Deepavali," he added. - Bernama

Girl killed by falling tree branch

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 06:04 AM PST

BALING: An eight-year-old girl, Nurhanis Abdul Rahman, was killed when a dead tree branch fell on her while she and two others were playing under the tree in Kampung Keda Banggol Petai, Mukim Bogor, here on Monday.

She died about 3pm during treatment at Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital (HSB)in Alor Setar.

Her father, Abdul Rahman Ismail, 42, said the incident occurred about 8.15am in front of the family home.

"My daughter was injured on the shoulder and head and was unconscious. We sent her to the Baling District Hospital, where she was then transferred to HSB for further treatment, but died later," he said when contacted by Bernama.

He said his daughter's two friends were slightly injured in the incident.

Abdul Rahman said he was not at home when the incident occurred.

Baling district police chief Supt Mat Daud Md Hassan confirmed the incident when contacted. - Bernama

Gaharu poachers strike again

Posted: 12 Nov 2012 05:46 AM PST

GEORGE TOWN: Two Cambodian men were caught red handed stealing prized gaharu (agarwood) wood by felling the trees in Mount Erskine here.

The men, believed to be in their late 20s, were nabbed by the State Forestry Department at around 5pm who ambushed them at the forest following a tip-off from Penang Hash House Harriers runner Gurdial Singh.

Two other men, also believed to be Cambodians, managed to flee the scene. One of the suspects then led the State Forestry Department officers to their site where the wood will be sort into smaller pieces.

The officers also recovered items such as axes, machetes and chisels.

According to the suspects, there were six of them operating in the forest and the buyer of the gaharu wood is a local.

Sunday Star, in its exclusive report on Feb 12, highlighted local syndicates with foreign connections were allegedly felling agarwood trees illegally in the rainforest near the Penang Botanic Gardens here and in other places.

The gaharu resin, whose oil extract is much sought after in the Middle East, can fetch lucrative prices of up to RM20,000 per kg.

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Illegal logging for agar wood continues in forest reserve


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Added attraction in Johor

Posted: 11 Nov 2012 04:14 PM PST

THE opening of another theme park in Iskandar Malaysia is set to attract more tourists to Johor and boost the state's tourism sector.

The Puteri Harbour Indoor Theme Park is the second to open in Nusajaya last month after Asia's first Legoland Theme Park opened in September this year.

The four-storey indoor theme park which opened its doors on October 26, offers theme cafes, seven rides including a train, windmill, helicopter and bumper car for both children and adults.

Popular caricature Lat's Kampung Boy café is expected to open at the end of the year.

The RM115mil theme park houses the first Sanrio Hello Kitty Town in the world outside Japan.

HIT Entertainment's The Little Big Club lovable characters like Bob the Builder, Barney, Angelina Ballerina and Thomas and Friends also have made the park their "home".

Children as well as adults were equally excited at the sight of the adorable cartoon characters came "alive" right before their very own eyes.

They could pose photographs with the life-sized mascots of Hello Kitty and her friend Daniel.

Or learn ballet moves with Angelina Ballerina and even watch live performances by Barney and Thomas and Friends.

Visitors especially children were seen squealing in excitement as they went into Hello Kitty's multi-hues coloured complete with furniture.

Best friends from SJKC Ming Terk in Gelang Patah, Tin Jing Xian and K. Anusha, both 11, said that they could not sleep the night before because they were too excited to visit the theme park.

"The Hello Kitty mini street parade is my favourite part of the theme park as the characters are very entertaining with their lively dance and colourful costumes,'' said Tin.

Anusha on the other hand, enjoyed the Thomas and Friend bumper car rides.

Singaporean Mohd Hashim Abu Othman, 50, said he and his 26-year old wife jumped at the chance to visit the theme park.

"The hotel staff told us about its opening, so we decided to visit it as well as the Legoland. My wife was more excited than our two-year old son and she kept snapping photos of the rides on her mobile phone,'' he said.

Police report lodged against officers

Posted: 11 Nov 2012 04:02 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: The Johor DAP Youth wing have lodged a police report against a group of police officers who allegedly forced them to sit at the police station until 3am on Oct 28 after one of the officials lost their video camera during a ceramah organised by the Opposition in Seri Alam here on Saturday night.

State DAP Youth Chief Tan Hong Pin said that he was unhappy with the policemen who forced the organising person of the ceramah, DAP member Leong Wai Sheng, and his team to wait at the police station for more than three hours without providing an explanation.

"The policeman who lost his video camera had actually left it on the stage unattended.

"The device was spotted by one of our speakers Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) coordinator Badrul Hisham Shaharin who then asked the crowd several times if the camera belonged to anyone," he said during a press conference.

Tan said that no one claimed to own the device and Badrul Hisham then said that he would keep the video camera until the owner came forward.

"After the ceramah ended at around 12am, several plain clothes police officers then came up to us and said that their video camera was missing.

"They told us that we would have to be responsible for the loss of the device as we had organised the event," he said adding that he quickly called Badrul Hisham who admitted that the device was with him but told Tan that he was already on his way back to Seremban.

Tan said that he then informed the police officers but they insisted that they wanted the video camera.

Tan added that after a long discussion, Badrul Hisham agreed to return the camera to the police station in Seremban but the officers were still unhappy with the suggestion.

"They kept on saying that we were responsible and told us that we would have to go to the Seri Alam police station for questioning.

"We cooperated although we did not do anything wrong but the police continued to ignore us when we asked them why we were being held," he said.

He added that suddenly at around 3am, a police officer told the group of 33 Opposition members that they could go home.

Tan said that the whole group was annoyed at the irresponsible attitude of the policemen and he eventually lodged a police report on the matter at around 9.30am on Sunday at the Mutiara Rini police station.

"We hope that disciplinary action would be taken against the officers concerned," he said.

Meanwhile, Seri Alam OCPD Supt Ruslan Zainuddin, when contacted, declined to comment on the matter.

Last minute Deepavali shoppers hit the streets in the city

Posted: 11 Nov 2012 04:08 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Hundreds of last minute Deepavali shoppers hit the streets yesterday to take advantage of good discounts and purchase clothes and cookies for the Festival of Lights which falls tomorrow.

R. Malathy, 40, said she had travelled from Singapore at around 8am just to beat the traffic and cross over to Johor Baru.

"I heard from a friend that the prices of clothings are considerably cheaper here and I was hoping to get some nice traditional wear for myself and my family," she said when met at one of the stalls along Jalan Ungku Puan yesterday.

Malathy, who was seen holding several shopping bags said she managed to get a saree and a couple of Punjabi suits but was still looking around for some nice decorations for her home.

Another last minute shopper, P. Seggaran, 28, said he was tied up with work for the past one week and decided to rush to the bazaar to get some cookies for visitors.

"Many working adults never have the time to do Deepavali shopping during the weekdays so we are forced to rush over at the last minute," he said.

He added that although the weather was hot and there were many people, he still managed to purchase an array of cookies at the bazaar.

"I even managed to get some delicious homemade vegetarian cookies for a reasonable price," he said.

Angeline Goh, 27, who was also seen browsing through some items at the bazaar said that she decided to stop over after noticing the crowds of people from the main road.

"I just finished having breakfast with a friend and was intrigued by the colourful attire hung at the stalls at the bazaar," she said.

She added that she had not bought any Indian traditional wear so far but was hoping to purchase a simple Punjabi suit for a good price.

"Many of the traders have slashed down their prices as Deepavali is just a couple of days away and I am more than happy about that," she said while grinning away.


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