Selasa, 13 November 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Row flares over global fight against fake medicine

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 08:51 PM PST

LONDON (Reuters) - A group of experts calling for a global treaty to stop the lethal trade in fake medicines has been barred from attending a World Health Organisation meeting, highlighting deep divisions that are blocking progress on the subject.

Leading academics and health professionals hoped to provoke debate on the need for a new international law to prevent falsified and substandard drugs reaching the market with a paper published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday.

Their article, which sets out a clear case for a fake drugs treaty similar to existing ones on money laundering and human trafficking, comes a week before 100 states hold the first meeting of its kind to discuss the problem in Buenos Aires.

But lead author Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa said he was told on Monday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that he and other non-governmental representatives could not attend, following an objection by India.

A WHO spokeswoman declined to comment on the details of particular invitations but said it was up to member states to determine who was permitted to attend. Indian officials, whose government is wary of multinational drug firms using the issue to curb competition, were not immediately available for comment.

Attaran called it a "scandal" that only government officials would be at the meeting in Argentina to discuss strategy.

The clash exposes distrust among governments, the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare campaigners about how to tackle fake and dangerous medicines, which are a growing problem in both poor countries and rich. Risks include ineffective material packaged as medication and real drugs made in poor conditions.

In developing countries, the WHO estimates that more than 10 percent of medicine may be fake or substandard, with bogus malaria drugs a particular threat in parts of Asia and Africa.

But the danger is real in the rich world, too.

Earlier this year, fake vials of Roche's cancer drug Avastin were found in the United States, while a recent U.S. meningitis outbreak, due to contaminated steroid injections, shows the country is not immune to quality problems.

In the European Union, medicines are now the top illicit product seized at the border and authorities have found fake versions of drugs purporting to come from companies including Sanofi, Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca.


The need for action seems clear enough - but advancing the debate involves navigating some big divides.

India, whose large drugs industry produces cheap generic versions, is concerned that Western governments backed by Big Pharma are using the fight against fakes as a cover to restrict trade in unpatented medicines much needed by the world's poor.

Some health activists support New Delhi's charge that worries about counterfeit drugs are being hijacked by "Big Pharma" global pharmaceutical companies to protect their profits and patented products against legitimate generic competitors.

In east Africa, for example, international drug companies have taken advantage of anti-counterfeiting laws that are sometimes poorly drafted to curb sales of otherwise legitimate generics, threatening the availability of essential drugs.

India is particularly resistant to any role for pharmaceutical firms in setting the agenda, and Brazil has expressed similar concerns in the past.

Given the distrust, the authors of the paper in the BMJ - who include leaders of nursing, pharmacy and public health bodies - argue there is a need to find neutral ground to address what appears to be a gaping hole in international law.

They point out that thanks to a new convention on tobacco control, international law is now tougher on counterfeit cigarettes than it is on fake medicines.

"We hope that this will form the basis for getting some consensus on a definition of counterfeit drugs, which would then be transferable into a legal instrument," said another of the paper's authors, Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The lack of a treaty means there is no agreement on which medicines are illegal and criminals can do business in countries where laws or enforcement are lax. There is also no requirement for police and prosecutors to co-operate across borders.

(Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Suspected North Korea missile parts seized en route to Syria in May

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 08:49 PM PST

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A shipment of graphite cylinders usable in a missile program and suspected to have come from North Korea were found in May aboard a Chinese ship en route to Syria in what appears to have been a violation of U.N. sanctions, diplomats said on Tuesday.

South Korean officials seized the shipment of 445 graphite cylinders, which had been declared as lead piping, from a Chinese vessel called the Xin Yan Tai, U.N. Security Council diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

South Korean authorities stopped the ship at the South Korean port of Busan, the envoys said, adding that the cylinders were intended for a Syrian company called Electric Parts.

South Korean officials informed the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee about the seizure on October 24, the envoys said, adding that China had offered to help investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"It appears the cylinders were intended for Syria's missile program," a diplomat said. "China assured us they will investigate what looks like a violation of U.N. sanctions."

Diplomats said the graphite cylinders appeared to be consistent with material usable in a ballistic missile program and that South Korea would be jointly investigating the case with China.

The shipment to Syria was arranged by a North Korean trading company, diplomats said. One diplomat said the Syrian company that was to have received the cylinders may be a subsidiary of the North Korean Korean trading firm.

North Korea is barred from importing or exporting nuclear and missile technology under U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on Pyongyang because of its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

There are U.S. and European Union sanctions on Syria, but no U.N. arms embargo against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has led a 20-month military campaign against an increasingly militarized opposition.

Russia and Iran have been Assad's main arms suppliers.

Earlier this year, the Security Council's Panel of Experts on North Korea, a group of independent experts that monitors compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime, said it was investigating reports of possible weapons-related deals between Pyongyang and Syria as well as Myanmar.

"The DPRK (North Korea) continues actively to defy the measures in the (U.N. sanctions) resolutions," the panel said in May.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Suspected North Korea missile parts seized en route to Syria in May

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 08:24 PM PST

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A shipment of graphite cylinders usable in a missile program and suspected to have come from North Korea were found in May aboard a Chinese ship en route to Syria in what appears to have been a violation of U.N. sanctions, diplomats said on Tuesday.

South Korean officials seized the shipment of 445 graphite cylinders, which had been declared as lead piping, from a Chinese vessel called the Xin Yan Tai, U.N. Security Council diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

South Korean authorities stopped the ship at the South Korean port of Busan, the envoys said, adding that the cylinders were intended for a Syrian company called Electric Parts.

South Korean officials informed the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee about the seizure on October 24, the envoys said, adding that China had offered to help investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"It appears the cylinders were intended for Syria's missile program," a diplomat said. "China assured us they will investigate what looks like a violation of U.N. sanctions."

The shipment to Syria was arranged by a North Korean trading company, diplomats said. One diplomat said the Syrian company that was to have received the cylinders may be a subsidiary of the North Korean Korean trading firm.

North Korea is barred from importing or exporting nuclear and missile technology under U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on Pyongyang because of its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

There are U.S. and European Union sanctions on Syria, but no U.N. arms embargo against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has led a 20-month military campaign against an increasingly militarized opposition.

Russia and Iran have been Assad's main arms suppliers.

(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Sesame puppeteer relieved as sex claim dropped

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 09:31 PM PST

LOS ANGELES - The puppeteer behind Elmo on "Sesame Street" voiced relief Tuesday, after a man who accused him of underage sex was reported to have dropped the claim.

The makers of the beloved US children's television show - who said Monday they were letting Kevin Clash take time off to deal with the claims - also welcomed the withdrawal of the accusation.

"I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further," said Clash, in a statement sent by his publicist Risa Heller.

Sesame Workshop, which makes the long-running TV show, added on its website: "We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode."

The reactions came after lawyers for the unidentified accuser, Andreozzi & Associates, said he "wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.

"He will have no further comment on the matter," the law firm said, cited by the New York Times. The firm did not immediately respond to requests for the statement.

Clash - the subject of an award-winning documentary last year - said Monday he was taking time out to handle the matter - and denied the accuser was 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," Clash said Monday.

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

Clash was the subject of last year's "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey," a documentary narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, which won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

"Sesame Street," which first appeared on public television in November 1969, teaches children the basics of reading, writing and counting.

Sesame Workshop said Monday that the claim would not have an impact on the show.

"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," it said. - AFP

Hard-hitting issues in The Slap

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 07:51 PM PST

Hard-hitting issues are slapped into consciousness in The Slap.

WHAT'S the big deal?" I found myself asking that question at the end of the pilot of Australian television series, The Slap.

It is a warm, sunny afternoon at a suburban neighbour in Melbourne. Hector (Jonathan LaPaglia) is turning 40 and has invited some of his closest friends and family members over to celebrate his birthday.

Everything seems to be going well until the sound of a sharp crack pierces through the merry atmosphere, bringing every movement and every conversation to a sudden halt. A loud, anguished wail quickly follows.

A boy has been slapped.

Hector's cousin, Harry (Alex Dimitriades), slapped a misbehaving three-year-old Hugo (Julian Mineo) on his cheek, in an attempt to discipline the out-of-control child.

Hugo's parents, Gary (Anthony Hayes) and Rosie (Melissa George), immediately ran to his side, taking the boy in their arms. After ensuring that he was alright, the couple turned to Harry, seething with anger. They began shouting indecencies. Gary tried to throw some punches, but Hector intercepted in time. Meanwhile, Harry stood firm with arms folded, convinced that he has done nothing wrong.

Gary and Rosie announced they were going to press charges.

Perhaps it is because I grew up in a strict Asian household or perhaps it is the assortment of "punishment tools" – rotan canes, metal rulers, the bottom end of feather dusters – that were readily available at home, or perhaps it is the fact that I have been whipped and walloped into a pulp (okay, I exaggerate) and saw that I had turned out pretty decent in spite, or should I say, because of it, that I found The Slap's premise a frustrating one to grasp.

But it's a good thing I didn't flip the channel and give up on the series just yet. From the second episode onwards, viewers will realise that this hour-long series touches on more than just the difference of opinions the two parties have on child discipline.

The events that follow after the slap – such as Harry's attempt to make things right with the couple, culminating in his trial – is told through the eyes of each person who attended the party.

This makes the show an interesting watch as viewers get to understand the motives that govern each character's actions. Far too often, in a desperate effort to create exciting storylines, television shows are jam-packed with jaw-dropping plot twists at the expense of unexplored, under-developed characters. In this series, viewers plumb the depths of each character to the point that it's hard not to feel for them.

The pilot titled Hector, for instance, is told through the viewpoint of Hector who feels conflicted when his wife, Aisha (Sophie Okonedo), pressures him into believing that Harry's actions are wrong although he sympathises with his cousin. Meanwhile, the show also reveals Hector is going through a midlife crisis and is falling for his teenage babysitter.

In the second episode, Anouk, viewers step into the shoes of Hector's friend Anouk (Essie Davis), who finds herself embroiled in the controversy when Harry seeks her help to testify in his defence. The show digs deeper still into Anouk's life and finds that the forty-something woman has been contemplating on aborting the child she is having with her boyfriend who is half her age.

As such, not only do viewers get a well-rounded view of the effects the slap has on the lives of the characters, they will discover that the supposedly "act of violence" is a catalyst used to raise a variety of issues that plague today's society – infidelity, abortion, racial prejudices, class division and addiction – just to name a few.

And mind you, these issues aren't just lightly grazed on the surface but are told in painful detail. It seems Harry's action not only scathed the boy's cheek but had slapped these universal struggles into consciousness as well.

By now, the show's storyline should have rung a bell in the minds of most avid book readers. Yes, the series is based on Australian author Christos Tsiolkas' 2008 award-winning novel of the same name. Having read the book, I am happy to report that the show has pretty much stayed true to its raw, unpolished feel.

The show isn't edited to look like a scene off a dimly-lit, smoky soap opera set (let's admit it, given the various human interest elements, it could have easily gone that way). Instead, the shots look so untouched, viewers will find that the camera lingers longer than necessary in some scenes (way after the dialogue is over).

Also, the scenes are usually cold, grey and bland-looking, perhaps to mirror the dark emotions felt by the characters. Even sound effects and background music are kept to a minimum, letting the "music" of everyday life that's so often taken for granted become its soundtrack.

Credit must also be given to the actors, as their portrayal of the characters truly brings the story to life. The series pulls out all the stops by enlisting an A-list actress like Okonedo, a Best Supporting Actress nominee in the 2005 Academy Awards for her performance in Hotel Rwanda.

She effectively portrays an exhausted career woman who struggles to strike a balance between her family life and her veterinary business.

Nevertheless, it is actress George who steals the spotlight with her ability to switch from vulnerable, insecure mother at one moment to strong, unyielding defender of justice at another. Her stellar performance in the series was even recognised by Australia's most prestigious television awards, winning the recent Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actress.

With that said, The Slap is not your typical, cookie-cutter family drama aired for folks looking to kill some time. It is hard-hitting, it is thought-provoking, it is controversial. It will raise a few eyebrows, throw out our mouldy conventions and fuel many heated arguments – all in one tight slap.

The Slap airs every Thursday at 9pm on Sundance Channel HD (Astro B.yond Ch 438).

Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us premieres worldwide

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 07:53 PM PST

Learn more about the human race in Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us.

THERE'S an exciting new programme that history buffs and movie lovers should look out for. Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us, dubbed the most in-depth series ever produced by History Channel, will premiere worldwide today.

The 12-hour series was filmed in locations all over the world, including China, Morocco and South Africa, and takes us from the initial civilisation in Mesopotamia to the discovery of America, as well as from the rise and fall of the world's greatest societies to the milestones that led to our modern world – from creating the alphabet to domesticating crops.

The documentary brings to life the history of the human race through the ages, using CGI technology and dramatic reconstructions of the most critical events. It's the most expensive and boldest documentary the channel has ever undertaken, and production began almost three years ago, with the help of dozens of consultants and notable historians to ensure an objective and credible story.

In a recent phone interview from New York, Julian Hobbs, History Channel's vice president of programming and development and executive producer of Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us, talked about how the project came about following the global success of America: The Story Of Us, a series about the history of the United States. Hobbs was also responsible for other top notch programmes like IRT Deadliest Roads, Gettysburg and Around The World In 80 Days.

Yet, Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us is different from the others in that it encapsulates some pretty bold theories. Seeing how people get bored with history, Hobbs felt that their biggest challenge was to get people "engaged and be excited about the greatest adventure of all time".

"It's a phenomenal story that we tell through CGI and bold story-telling.... It's by a series of amazing events, people, conflicts, struggles and adventures that have made us the dominant species on this planet," he added.

As expected, they had a hard time selecting the milestones to be featured. "We tried to choose the important moments when humankind was changed forever. We tried to pick stories that made an impact on all civilisations, not just one culture or on a specific person. It was one key moment that we can all look at and see ourselves in it, which could have happened 50 or 500 years ago.

"They are like the keys that unlock us today, like the discovery of fire, agriculture and industrial revolution."

Hobbs said time, logistics, accuracy, objectivity and tough editorial decisions made up a major part of the challenges faced. He added: "It involves recreating the key moments in human history where costuming, props and sets have to be recreated for historical accuracy. I think the uniqueness of this programme is for everybody around the world to see something that isn't about just one nation.

"When we tell the story, we are focused on the material objects that change mankind. This has to do with invention of weapons, the Great Wall of China, Machu Pichu and the building of ships, inventing and engineering our world."

Hobbs also explained how the show was structured like a movie franchise. "Today's challenge is with the dominance of Hollywood and this is why you have to present history in a dynamic and engaging way.

"We look at the technique used in Hollywood's storytelling and apply it to history. That's not a hard thing to do because the greatest story is always a historical one. Think how many times Hollywood has gone into historical moments like in Gladiator and Braveheart. All of the greatest movies are based on historical events."

Making a series that would appeal not just to history buffs, Hobbs enthused: "We recreated some of the greatest moments in human history. When we are in the position to recreate the very first steps of humans emerging out of Africa and the discovery of agriculture, you see that come to life and you put yourself in their shoes. The feeling is amazing. There are so many astounding moments. It's like taking a tour through history on a high speed plane."

Finally, Hobbs reiterated how Mankind tells history "from the point of view of mankind".

"Mankind is a species that should never have survived. Ninety-nine per cent of the species on Earth have gone extinct. At the very beginning, we were a small tribe in Africa with a population of less than 10,000 people. We could have been eradicated by the quick outspread of a disease. Now, we are spread globally with a population of over seven billion. This is the story of an unlikely hero. That hero is us," he concluded.

Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us premieres on History/History HD (Astro Ch 555/575) today at 9pm. The line-up are Inventors (today), Empires (Nov 21), Survivors (Nov 28), New World (Dec 5), Revolutions (Dec 12) and New Frontiers (Dec 19).


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Genting Bhd falls after weaker earnings from Genting Singapore

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 06:33 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Genting Bhd's share price fell in active trade on Wednesday as analysts reduced their forecasts after Genting Singapore (GENS) posted weaker earnings.

At 10.15am, Genting fell 18 sen to RM9.31. There were 652,700 shares done.

The FBM KLCI fell 1.49 points to 1,636.10. There were 159.15 million shares traded valued at RM167.18mil. There were 150 gainers, 153 losers and 229 counters unchanged.

CIMB Equities Research had reduced its target price for Genting to RM10.90 from RM11.60. GENS makes up just over 40% of Genting's net profit, it said.

The research house said GenS reported poor Q3, 2012 numbers that were well below expectations.

It said Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) is adjusting to find a steady state of growth in the face of tough regulation.

However, CIMB Research said Genting's diversified earnings base remains the best proxy for the group.

"We cut our EPS forecasts by 3%-9% following our earnings revisions for GENS. Our RNAV-based target price is lowered to RM10.90 following the revision in our target price for GENS, which makes up 45% of Genting's RNAV. M&A and restructuring opportunities remain key catalysts for Genting. Maintain Outperform," it said.

Support Line

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 05:36 PM PST

Wednesday November 14, 2012

BY K.M. Lee

AXIATA Group pulled back from an all-time high of RM6.83 on Oct 5 to a low of RM5.80 on Nov 7 before stabilising. Technically, the uptick of the stochastic from the oversold territory suggests more rebounds but the upside potential is likely to be capped at the RM6.27-RM6.37 band. If the recent ebb is violated, look for the RM5.63 level as the next downside support.

METRONIC Global recovered to a 4-month high of 13.5 sen during intra-day session. With most of the short-term indicators painting a positive landscape, there may be more upside in the pipeline. Initial resistance is seen at the 14.5-sen level, followed by the 19-sen hurdle. Current support is resting on the 10-sen mark.

SUPERMAX Corp shares were trapped within a narrow range on consolidation since late September. Apparently, indicators are mixed, suggesting extended sideways pattern until a clearer picture emerges. A slip below the RM1.93 line will have a negative impact, but a push above the RM2.13 barrier may propel prices to the RM2.25 level.

  • The comments above do not represent a recommendation to buy or sell.
  • Microsoft shares fall after departure of key executive

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 05:32 PM PST

    SAN FRANCISCO: Shares of Microsoft Corp slid on Tuesday after the surprise departure of a key executive, who analysts said marks the loss of the driving force behind the company's biggest product.

    The shares were down 2.8 percent in afternoon at $27.21.

    Microsoft on Monday night announced the departure of Steve Sinofsky, a 23-year veteran of the company and head of its flagship Windows unit, just two weeks after launching the Windows 8 operating system.

    Analysts fear that Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is driving out talent just as the company needs it most.

    "Sinofsky may have ruled the kingdom with an iron fist, but he performed amazingly well in rescuing Windows following Vista," Wells Fargo analysts said in a research note on Tuesday, referring to Microsoft's previous operating system. "While we think Windows 8 and Surface have promise, there is still a ton of work ahead to catch iOS and Android."

    Apple and Google are seen as holding the lead for systems for mobile computing, a huge growth driver.

    Ballmer has replaced the heads of Microsoft's five main operating units in the past four years.

    Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial, said that while he generally has applauded bringing in new blood, "in this case I don't applaud it.

    "This is a negative. If I was the CEO, I would have kept him," he added.

    Ballmer may have been unhappy with Sinofsky's ability to work with other business units, or the pace of progress under him, analysts said.

    Sinofsky's abrasive management style may also have contributed to his departure, analysts said.

    Microsoft on Monday named two executives who are relatively unknown outside of technology circles to assume Sinofsky's responsibilities, something that analysts said could also be dragging on the stock. Julie Larson-Green will head the Windows hardware and software division, while Tami Reller will remain chief financial officer of the Windows unit and assume responsibility for the business of Windows.

    In a statement issued Monday night, Ballmer said it was "imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings." - Reuters


    The Star Online: Sports

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    The Star Online: Sports

    Schwartzel determined to keep SA Open at home

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 06:07 PM PST

    JOHANNESBURG: South African Charl Schwartzel, 2011 Masters champion, is determined to join a formidable list of fellow countrymen to hold up the SA Open trophy - the second-oldest in the world - this week.

    Schwartzel hopes to add his name to those of previous winners Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman and Retief Goosen, when the tournament kicks off Thursday at the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate in Ekurhuleni west of Johannesburg.

    "The SA Open is definitely one of the events I want to win in my career. When you look at the players who have won the Championship in the past, it would be an honour and a privilege to see my name alongside theirs on the trophy," said the 28-year-old.

    "South Africans have obviously got a great record in the event, so hopefully this year it can be my turn to give the home crowds something to cheer about."

    After a rather disappointing year, his prospects have been on the rise recently after he beat world number one and two Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland and American Tiger Woods in play-offs at the World Golf Final in Turkey last month.

    This week the Gauteng-province native will just need to drive a few kilometers from his home to compete in the 102nd edition of the world's second-oldest tournament after the R&A Open Championship.

    But it's not a done deal yet, with the likes of former world number one Martin Kaymer, who sank the ball that kept the Ryder Cup in Europe this year, also competing.

    And Kaymer has been trying out the course ahead of the tee-off.

    "You really have to place the ball in certain areas in order to have a good chance to make birdie. But the rough is also very thick, so you have to keep it on the fairway," he said.

    Outside of playing the German was amazed at his South African fan base.

    "A lot of people have been shaking my hand and welcoming me to South Africa. I'm surprised because that doesn't happen very often to me," he said.

    Defending champion Hennie Otto, also from the area, won the title last year on the 780-hectare estate, which sports a 27-hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

    "It hasn't been a good year, what with my back injury, but hopefully I can find something special," said the 36-year-old.

    "My putting during the tournament last year was tremendous, which is important there because the greens are tricky."

    Countryman Brendan Grace, 24, this year became the first player in the European Tour, which co-sanctions the South African Sunshine Tour event, to win his first four European Tour titles in one season.

    He too is hungry for glory.

    Others to look out for include Henrik Stenson, the Swede with six European Tour titles, and former winners Richard Sterne and Martin Kingston.-AFP

    A must-win for Malaysia but Australia won’t be easy to crack

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 06:25 PM PST

    JOHOR BARU: It was bound to happen. The Malaysians have found themselves backed against the wall after losing 5-2 to New Zealand in their second Sultan of Johor Cup match at the Taman Daya Stadium here on Monday.

    The Malaysians now find themselves facing a must-win situation against Australia today – or, at the very least, a draw.

    But it won't be easy as the Aussies too need a win against Malaysia.

    Coach K. Dharmaraj's boys should have collected full points against the Kiwis, having gone into the game with a morale-boasting 3-2 win over Germany.

    They even led 2-1 at half-time before capitulating after the break.

    Dharmaraj admitted the speed and fitness level of the Kiwis caught his team by surprise.

    "Their fast game surprised us. Our players were also a little tired after the hard game against Germany," he said.

    "Now we have to get a result against Australia. Losing is not an option ... the players know what is at stake."

    Malaysia, as defending champions, began well when they came back from two goals down to beat Germany.

    It was their second-half performance in that game which caught the attention of many. Unfortunately, they could not reproduce that form against New Zealand.

    Malaysia have the experience and players to win any match. After all, they are the defending champions and champions of Asia as well.

    Dharmaraj has time and again called on the team to adopt a winning mentality.

    "Yes, having a winning mentality has been my objective all along. We need not fear any team. The players have to play like champions to be one. So, against Australia, we will go for a win and nothing else.

    "Both teams are looking for a win and, if the boys can play to instructions, we stand a good chance," he said.

    Australia are familiar foes for Malaysia, who know the kind of damage the Aussies can do if given too much space.

    We all know how the national team tend to crumble at crucial times. One can only hope that this junior team are made of sterner stuff.

    Meanwhile, Australian coach Paul Gaudoin acknowledged that Malaysia have the advantage but "we have the material to beat the home team".

    "You learn from every match and we will continue to push for a final place. Beating Pakistan has given the players greater confidence. I am sure we can match the Malaysians," he said.

    India lead the six-team standings with six points while New Zealand are second with four points. Malaysia and Australia have three points each while Pakistan have just one point. Germany prop up the table with no points.

    Shahrol: Zulfahmi can fight for the title

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 06:22 PM PST

    PETALING JAYA: He has a small physique but Zulfahmi Khairuddin can walk tall in the motor-racing arena knowing he has shattered the perception that Malaysians cannot compete on the world stage.

    With the psychological barrier broken, former ace Shahrol Yuzy expects Zulfahmi to scale greater heights in the Moto3 World Cham­pionships next season.

    The AirAsia-SIC-Ajo rider closed off his third season in style – with a second career podium finish in a thrilling Valencia Grand Prix race on Sunday.

    Zulfahmi fought his way back from 17th on the starting grid to take a well-deserved third place.

    His first podium – a second placing at his home race in Sepang last month – was a breakthrough as he was only denied the chequered flag at the second last turn by German Sandro Cortese, who went on to take the world title.

    But his second podium was equally satisfying as he achieved it on a wet track and after struggling throughout the weekend.

    Zulfahmi finished eighth overall with 128 points, an improvement from last year's 18th placing with 30 points. It was no surprise then when he earned the Most Improved Rider in Moto3 award from the organisers.

    Team owner Aki Ajo had offered a race seat in the factory outfit for the 21-year-old Malaysian even before he secured his first podium and his faith has been justified.

    With better crew support and more confidence, Shahrol believes Zul­fah­mi can reap more success next year.

    "He got the top bike this year and was able to produce competitive lap times. It's just that he was a bit afraid to be aggressive in the first few races," said Shahrol.

    "But towards the second half of the season, we saw him leading races on a few occasions, though he could not hold on till the end.

    "Winning the first podium at Sepang gave him the perfect confidence boost and now this. I watched on television and I was proud with the way he fought his way up in Valencia.

    "It's not easy handling a bike on a slippery track and, what more, in Spain – where the current world champions all come from.

    "I believe Zulfahmi has what it takes to fight for more podiums and win races. If he starts doing that, there is a chance to fight for the championship next year.

    "I am proud as he showed the world that Malaysians can be competitive if we have the right support, patience and commitment," added Shahrol, who raced in the 250cc class of the World Motorcycle Champion­ships from 2000-2002 and now manages the Pachie Yuzy Honda Racing team in the AAM Malaysia Petronas Cub Prix Cham­pion­ships.

    It was also Shahrol who discovered and polished Zulfahmi's riding skills – paving the way for his entrance into the world stage.


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    Anifah: Foreign Ministry views seriously alleged rape of Indonesian woman

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:44 AM PST

    KUALA LUMPUR: The Foreign Ministry views seriously the alleged rape of an Indonesian woman by three policemen in Prai, Penang last Friday.

    Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, in a statement issued on Tuesday, noted that the three policemen were now under remand over the incident alleged to have occurred at 7am on Nov 9.

    "The ministry has contacted the Penang Criminal Investigation Department head, SAC Mazlan Kesah on the day of the alleged incident to obtain more details.

    "We were informed that the three policemen involved were being remanded and investigated under Section 376 of the Penal Code," he said in the statement.

    Anifah said the ministry was also informed that the completed investigation report would be forwarded to the deputy public prosecutor for further action, while a special team had already been formed by Penang police to investigate the case thoroughly.

    "The ministry will follow closely the development and will give its full cooperation to the Indonesian government over this case," he said.

    Earlier, state police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said police have recorded statements from 10 witnesses in the alleged rape.

    He said the investigation papers would be submitted to the deputy public prosecutor soon for further action.

    He assured that the investigation was being conducted transparently without protecting certain quarters and that a special team had been formed to expedite the investigation.

    In JAKARTA, a group of people held a protest over the alleged rape.

    Some 20 people, who were said to represent Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat (Bendera), took to the street near the residence of the Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia in Jalan Patra Kuningan Utara. They burned the Malaysia flag and urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to deport the ambassador, failing which they called for his resignation.

    The police closed a road leading the ambassador's residence to prevent the demonstrators from making their way through.

    The demonstration lasted for about 50 minutes, during which the participants, including children and women, held placards, which among others, read "Evict the Malaysian ambassador, Crush and Fight Malaysia".

    Indonesian police, including members of the bomb disposal unit, guarded the Malaysian ambassador's residence and the Malaysian Embassy in Jalan H.R. Rasuna Said, Kuningan during the protest.

    A bus ferrying Bendera protestors passed through and headed for their headquarters in Jalan Diponegoro without stopping there. - Bernama

    PPP submits names for four parliament, 12 state seats

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:43 AM PST

    KUALA LUMPUR: The People's Progressive Party (PPP) has submitted the names of candidates for four parliamentary and 12 state seats in the upcoming general election.

    PPP senior vice-president Datuk Maglin Dennis D'Cruz said the candidates comprised mostly of new faces, except for PPP president Datuk M. Kayveas, and this reflected the transformation made by the party.

    He said it would be up to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to decide on the candidates.

    "We have submitted our list. We believe our candidates are highly qualified and have the credibility to ensure victory for BN (Barisan Nasional) in the general election," he told reporters after attending the Deepavali open house organised by the Federal Territories PPP here.

    Asked whether his name was included, Maglin said he would not be contesting to make way for new faces.

    He said if the party's candidates were not selected, it would not stop PPP from working closely with BN for their mutual benefit.

    In the 2008 general election, PPP was allocated only two seats, namely Taiping parliamentary seat and Pasir Bedamar state seat.

    In Taiping, Kayveas lost to DAP's Nga Kor Ming by 11,298-vote majority, while in Pasir Bedamar, PPP's Lee Heng lost to DAP's Seah Leong Peng by 7,914-vote majority. - Bernama

    Couple, their youngest child, maid killed in pre-dawn fire (Update)

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:31 AM PST

    TAIPING: A couple, their youngest child and a maid were killed in a pre-dawn fire at a double-storey bungalow in Taman Pegawai Kanan, Assam Kumbang here Tuesday.

    Mohd Hakimi Zubair Puteh, 40, a chartered accountant with the Royal Bank of Scotland, his wife IT expert Leila Sahak, 40, and three-year-old Ahmad Fariz Mohd Hakimi, and the maid, known only as Risky, 40 were sleeping on the second floor of the bungalow during the fire.

    All of them were trapped on the floor and were believed to have died of suffocation due to the smoke.

    Mohd Hakimi's three other children, Lokman, 13, Ain Najwa, 11 and Azad, 8, who were sleeping downstairs escaped the fire together with his father, Zubair Puteh, 73.

    Zubair said his son and his family came to visit him during the Deepavali holidays and were planning to return home later.

    Taiping Fire and Rescue chief Hasna Rashid said they received a call on the fire at 12.24am.

    "The four victims who were on the top floor are believed to have suffocated to death.

    "One of the victims was found at the exit door to a balcony while the three others in the master bedroom.

    "When firemen arrived, almost half the bungalow was in flames. The fire started at the upper floor, " he said.


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    Spielberg makes history personal with 'Lincoln'

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 05:15 AM PST

    LOS ANGELES: Steven Spielberg said it was tough to persuade British actor Daniel Day-Lewis to play Abraham Lincoln - but the result was worth the struggle, winning rave reviews and Oscars speculation.

    "Lincoln," released in the United States this weekend, is an intimate portrait of the 16th US president as he struggles to change history by abolishing slavery amid the still-raging the Civil War.

    The veteran director had wanted to make a film about Lincoln, probably America's most revered president, who was assassinated in April 1865, for more than a decade.

    "I've just always had a personal fascination with the myth of Abraham Lincoln," he said ahead of the film's red carpet premier at the American Film Institute (AFI) festival, which traditionally starts the annual Oscars race.

    Spielberg lamented that Lincoln has been reduced to "a kind of cultural national stereotype," and no-one has made a film about him since 1939's "Young Mr. Lincoln" by John Ford, in which Henry Fonda played the president.

    The three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker decided from the start not to attempt to tell the Republican politician's whole life story, saying: "We would have been dilettantes as filmmakers and as actors.

    "We would have just been hitting all the high points and just giving you the headlines, and not giving you any sense of the depth of this character, this man," he told reporters.

    With screenwriter and playwright Tony Kushner - who won a Pulitzer prize for the play "Angels in America" in 1993 - Spielberg opted to focus on the final months of Lincoln's life and his battle to abolish slavery.

    The result is an intimate film mostly shot in interiors, apart from an opening battle scene, where the drama is driven by dialogue and a stellar cast including Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

    Day-Lewis's performance has already got some talking about the possibility he could win a third best actor Oscar to go with his golden statuettes for 1989's "My Left Foot" and 2008's "There will be blood."

    The actor, known for his pickiness in choosing roles, hesitated for a long time to portray a "life that has been mythologized to that extent."

    He said he wasn't sure he'd be able to take on the part "in such a way that you can get close enough to properly represent it."

    "Least of all did I want to be responsible for irrevocably staining the reputation of the greatest president this country's ever known," he added.

    Spielberg confirmed: "It was hard to get him to say yes," adding: "If he had finally and ultimately said no, I would never have made the movie Abraham Lincoln ... It'd be gone."

    The director added that he deliberately planned the film's US release - it comes out in January or February in most other countries - for after the US presidential elections to prevent it being used by either side politically.

    "There's a lot of confusion about the political ideologies of both parties, (which) have switched 180 degrees in 150 years. It's just too confusing, everybody claiming Lincoln as their own," he said.

    "I just wanted people to talk about the film, not talk about the election cycle. So I thought it was safer to let people talk about film during the election cycle in this run-up with ads on TV and posters going up and all that.

    "But the actual debut of the film should happen after the election's been decided. That was my feeling." - AFP

    Twilight cast bids farewell at final premiere

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 03:22 AM PST

    LOS ANGELES: Thousands of screaming fans lined the black carpet late on Monday for the final "Twilight" film premiere as the cast of "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" bid farewell to the franchise and its loyal followers.

    Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and other cast members greeted fans known as "Twi-hards," many of whom had camped out for days in downtown Los Angeles to catch a glimpse of their favorite actors and see the film before it is released in theaters on Friday.

    Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will see the love story of human Bella Swan (Stewart), vampire Edward Cullen (Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob Black (Lautner) come to a tantalizing end, when Bella and Edward are forced to protect their child from an ancient vampire coven.

    Stewart, who was finally able to embrace her wild side by playing Bella as a vampire, hoped people would enjoy the ultimate transformation of her character in the film.

    "Bella has worked pretty hard to get to the point where they can have it all, and it's fun to be there. She's always been human, but now that she's not, you're just in full blown vampire land and it feels funny in a great way," Stewart told Reuters.

    More than 2,200 fans from all over the world came to camp out on a concrete plaza in downtown Los Angeles last week, where Twilight movie studio Summit laid out activities and marathon screenings of the previous movies.

    All of the film's main actors spent time signing autographs and posing for photographs with the loyal fans who had camped out in chilly November weather over five days.

    Pattinson, who plays vampire Edward Cullen, said he hoped the fans would like the franchise's swan song.

    "I hope they feel it kind of respects them, because I think in a lot of ways that's what we were thinking when we were making it," the actor said.

    Lautner, who plays werewolf Jacob, said he'd be sad to say goodbye to the films and his character and hoped fans would be happy with the conclusion of the final film.

    "I'm feeling fantastic, sad, emotional, there's a lot of things going on inside of me right now but I'm just trying to soak up every moment because this means the world to me," Lautner said.

    The three lead stars were joined by fellow cast members including Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning, as well as director Bill Condon and author Stephenie Meyer, whose Twilight novels kicked off the franchise and phenomenon.

    Meyer said she would miss watching the three lead cast members evolve as actors and characters in the films.

    "It's really been great to watch them grow up, particularly Kristen because her character gets to evolve so much in this film, and to watch her be all powerful and really get to where the character was always meant to go, to be the fiercest of the fierce, was really rewarding for me," the author said. - Reuters

    Buzz building for debut of Wii U videogame console

    Posted: 12 Nov 2012 05:57 PM PST

    SAN FRANCISCO: Pre-orders for Wii U have been hot ahead of the Sunday release of the new Nintendo videogame console that the Japanese electronics titan hopes will catapult it to renewed glory.

    Nintendo is hoping for a repeat of the runaway success it had with original Wii consoles, which lured legions of "casual gamers" into the videogame world with the introduction of motion-sensing controls.

    Promising signs in the market included US consumer electronics chain Best Buy informing people that it was sold out of Wii U consoles for pre-order online but that they could try their luck at real-world stores on launch day.

    At Internet retail titan, Wii U consoles were being offered at opening prices hundreds of dollars above list prices of $300 for basic models and $350 for "deluxe sets."

    A grand Wii U event is planned at Nintendo World in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza on Saturday night ahead of the consoles going on sale there at midnight.

    "The Wii U is exactly what the game industry needs right now," said Tony Key, vice president of sales and marketing at French videogame star Ubisoft.

    "Consumers are looking for a fresh experience and to have fun, and this is our chance to deliver."

    Nintendo unveiled Wii U in June, vowing to start a trend in "asymmetrical play" that lets players using GamePad tablets have different in-game perspectives and roles than those using traditional wand controllers.

    "At its core, the Wii U does three different things," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said during the unveiling.

    "Change your gaming, change how you interact with gaming friends and change the way you enjoy your TV," he continued.

    "It stands to revolutionize your living room." Nintendo has shown off a "TVii" application that lets people use the Wii U tablet-style "GamePad" controllers to access television programs or video online at services such as YouTube and Netflix.

    More than 50 games tailored for play on Wii U will be available when the consoles hit the market, according to Nintendo.

    Titles will include the latest installment in Ubisoft's blockbuster "Assassin's Creed" franchise and a version of beloved "Call of Duty" from Activision.

    "The integrated second screen of the GamePad creates new possibilities for how games can be played," said Activision chief executive Eric Hirshberg.

    "We're excited for our fans to experience the biggest franchises, like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Skylanders Giants and Transformers Prime, in new ways made possible on Wii U."

    Ubisoft's Wii U lineup includes action, dance, fitness, adventure and sports titles.

    A "ZombiU" zombie killing game geared for mature audiences takes an ambitious approach to using the GamePad controller that is a key feature of the Wii U.

    Ubisoft designers turned the GamePad into a "survival kit" for players in the horror-action game.

    Ubisoft hits being tailored to take advantage of Wii U touch-screen controls included the company's iconic "Rayman" and the slapstick "rabbids."

    "People may not quite understand yet what is so special about the system because they haven't been able to experience it themselves," Key said. "That was the problem with the Wii too, and we saw how that turned out."

    Kyoto-based Nintendo is counting on the new Wii U to boost the company's fortunes the way the original Wii console did after its introduction in 2006.

    Nintendo said it aimed to sell 5.5 million units of the new Wii U by the end of March.

    The company has struggled against competition not only from traditional rivals such as PlayStation maker Sony and Microsoft's Xbox, but also cheap online games that can be downloaded to smartphones and tablet computers. - AFP


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    Australian rockers INXS confirm retirement

    Posted: 12 Nov 2012 10:13 PM PST

    SYDNEY: Australian rock band INXS, one of the world's biggest acts throughout the late 1980s and early '90s, confirmed Tuesday their retirement after 35 years.

    In a statement the band, whose original frontman Michael Hutchence committed suicide 15 years ago, said media reports of their demise were true.

    "We understand that this must come as a blow to everybody, but all things must eventually come to an end," said band members Tim, Andrew and Jon Farriss, Kirk Pengilly and Garry Beers.

    "We have been performing as a band for 35 years, it's time to step away from the touring arena. Our music will of course live on and we will always be a part of that."

    The band, which formed in 1977 and has sold more than 30 million records, played to stadiums across the globe at their peak but the death of the charismatic Hutchence hit them hard.

    He was found dead in a Sydney hotel room in 1997, leaving behind a daughter, Tiger Lily, from a relationship with British TV presenter Paula Yates, who died of a heroin overdose in 2000.

    Tiger Lily now lives with her legal guardian, Yates's former husband Bob Geldof.

    Since then INXS has hired several other singers and performed with the likes of Terence Trent D'Arby and Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes, but they were never able to revisit their early success.

    "We lived for each other in the trenches and we loved each other. It was the six of us against the world and then suddenly and inexplicably we were but five," said Jon Farriss.

    "We were lost right at the moment we were on top."

    His brother Andrew said they could have quit when Hutchence died but opted to carry on.

    "We never took a soft option, it was the adversity, the challenge and the struggle that forged us into the live working band we became," he said.

    "And this was as big as it could possibly get when it came to a challenge, and in the end we decided for a whole bunch of reasons to march forward." - AFP


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