Khamis, 15 November 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Wedding Band premieres

Posted: 16 Nov 2012 04:43 AM PST

Wedding Band checks its songlist to give audiences a LOL soundtrack.

ON June 24 this year, Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox got married on a beach in Hawaii, with only Green's son – 10-year-old Kassius (whose mother is Green's ex, Vanessa Marcil) – in attendance. Reports say that it was an intimate event that took place as the sun was setting. The low-key affair may have something to do with the fact that Green hates weddings.

In a telephone interview with the 39-year-old actor, Green confesses that he literally cringes when he is invited to a wedding. "It's all about the after-party at the end of the day, and not about the wedding," notes Green candidly.

It is ironic then, that Green is sharing this particular information with a group of journalists while promoting his new series, Wedding Band. The show revolves around a four-member band called Mother Of The Bride that performs at weddings and various other parties. And get this: Green's character is the band's womanising bachelor who knows how to work the crowd – most of the time – to his advantage. As if to pronounce just how very different Green is to his character, his six-week-old baby (with Fox) decides to make some noise as Green is talking.

But wanting to be present at the "wildest parties in town" is not a concept that is totally alien to the Los Angeles-based actor, who has had his share of wild bachelor days. He says: "If I rewind my own life back to when I was 17, that's my guy on the show. If I take away any responsibility I have now and throw it away, I get Tommy (his character). He doesn't want any responsibility. It doesn't matter to him where he lives, what he drives, as long as he's alive at the end of the day, that's a good day. That's the most connection I have with myself.

"Sometimes I think what a dummy this guy is. When you get married and have a family, you realise what is important in life and what the great things are. And to play a character who has no concept of what is great outside of 'yeah man, I was on stage!', there's just not much in that. His doesn't see very far ahead, he's just very in the moment."

Another difference between Green and his character: even though he sings on the show and has had a crash course on playing the guitar, Green says he would not let anyone pay him to be a singer or be a musician. "I love and respect music too much to call myself one."

Once upon a time, however, Green harboured dreams of becoming a musician (a drummer, to be specific). He grew up in a musical family – his father was a country musician – and even attended a music school. He even released a hip-hop album in 1996, but his effort was shot down by critics.

Hence, acting became his sole occupation – he is perhaps best known for his work in the original Beverly Hills, 90210 – but revels that he gets to do both acting and singing on Wedding Band.

"I listen to a lot of alternative and classic rock right now; I sort of go through phases. I listen to hip-hop and then cut back and listen to other stuff. But it doesn't really influence the character. He is a rocker, he likes getting in front of the audience and screaming at the top of his lungs. We couldn't be more different that way," Green shares.

To prepare for the musical numbers, he and his co-stars – Peter Cambor (as Eddie, a married guy with two children), Derek Miller (the band's drummer Barry, who wishes he was Jack Black) and Harold Perrineau (Steve, a successful sessions musician who becomes the band's newest member) – do a couple of days of rehearsals before going into a recording studio. "We do that while we're shooting, so it's a lot of work. It's a lot to squeeze into an eight-day shoot."

Luckily, Green enjoys the company of his fellow actors and vice versa. According to him, they spend a lot of time together.

"To the point, everyone will group-text each other and after my phone has beeped like 35 times in an afternoon because everyone is texting in a group conversation, I will just sit down and send one text out: 'OK. Shut the f*** up. Go be with your family.' (laughs). It's nice. I haven't experienced that in so long, really, since 90210. It's like an extended family."

No wonder then, that Green has no qualms about getting his wife, Fox, on one of the show's earlier episodes. She plays a lead actress of a sci-fi series, who tells Tommy a secret subplot about the show. Tommy, not caring about this detail, ends up revealing this subplot which gets him in trouble with the fans. "It's a really funny episode," shares Green.

There are nine episodes in the first season and each episode is titled after a name of a song. Typically a "buddy comedy", the hour-long sitcom revolves around these four guys, each with some sort of screw-up issue that they are refusing to address. Inadvertently, each episode sees them in the middle of a crazy situation – say an "Elvish" wedding – that generates the laughs. Also in the picture is an event planner (Melora Hardin), a determined woman who takes no prisoners when it comes to her success, but at the same time has to concede that a wedding band is an important ingredient for an occasion.

Which brings us to the question: Would Green have invited Mother Of The Bride to play at his wedding if it had adhered to a traditional setting? "No, never," he answers with no hesitation and a laugh.

Wedding Band premieres today on beTV (Astro B.yond Ch720). A new episode airs every every Friday at 8.30pm.

Bruce Boxleitner lends voice in Tron: Uprising

Posted: 16 Nov 2012 04:44 AM PST

Bruce Boxleitner lends his voice to animated series Tron: Uprising.

THIRTY years ago, Bruce Boxleit-ner was in Tron, a science fiction movie about a computer programmer who is taken prisoner in the virtual world of the computer mainframe called the Grid. Actor Jeff Bridges was cast as the lead, Kevin Flynn (whose digital world character is Clu), while Boxleitner played his sidekick Alan Bradley, another programmer (whose character is called Tron in the cyber world).

Tron proved to be a sleeper hit: Ideologically, it was decades ahead of its time – handphones didn't yet exist and the Internet was still undiscovered but here was a movie about real-life programmers getting lost and fighting for their survival inside a digital arena "where love and escape do not compute" (that's a line from the trailer to the original movie).

Acting in a science fiction movie wasn't exactly in Boxleitner's career trajectory at the time. In fact, according to a 1982 report in People magazine, the tall handsome actor was being groomed (by then manager Jay Bernstein) to be "the next Clark Gable and Alan Ladd". But Boxleitner accepted the role because he found the concept intriguing and it gave him the opportunity to work alongside Bridges, someone Boxleitner had "admired for years".

Tron has since become a cult classic to science fiction fans across generations (Pixar's John Lasseter has said that "without Tron there would be no Toy Story") and has since spawned a series of video and computer games (Tron 2.0, Tron 2.0: Killer App), a movie sequel, Tron: The Legacy (2010), and most recently an animated TV series, Tron: Uprising.

"Well, I am surprised (at how popular Tron still is) and I think everyone who did (the movie) is, as well. I'm very happy that it is a hit. It is very rare that you have a project that lives on past a couple of years. I've done so many other different things over the years and yet Tron seems to be the one that still resonates with newer audiences. I think it is because of its subject matter – the younger generation uses technology as their language and that's basically what Tron was about. In its own sweet, naive way, it was about computers and technology and ... look how far we've come," says the 62-year-old actor in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, California.

The latest incarnation, Tron: Uprising, is the best so far, says Boxleitner enthusiastically.

"It takes place seven years after the original Tron and just before Tron: Legacy (in which Flynn's son Sam goes into the Grid in search of his father). Our scriptwriters – very wisely, I thought – took Tron to a darker place. This is an older, scarred, battle-weary Tron who is bent on Clu's destruction. Our writers have given me such a range (to portray), which is very exciting for an actor."

In a career that has spanned 40 years (Boxleitner first arrived in Hollywood in 1972 where he guest- starred in The Mary Tyler Moore Show), he has played the whole gamut of TV and movie roles – acting in westerns (How The West Was Won, The Gambler series), sitcoms (Scarecrow And Mrs King, GCB), horror (Area 51) and science fiction (Tron, Babylon 5).

Boxleitner revels in new and challenging roles, and he didn't hold back when approached to reprise his role as Tron, whom he reckons is "the ultimate video game character".

"I'm selfish," he declares. "I don't want anyone else doing it. And why shouldn't I (reprise my role)? I was part of creating that character and creating that film … it is part of me and part of what I have done in my life. Besides, I do like the character. I like that he keeps evolving. I am just continually interested in where they take the characters and the story."

Stellar voice cast

Although Tron: Uprising is an animated TV series, Boxleitner cautions fans against assuming it to be just a cartoon. The series introduces Beck, a young programmer who goes all out to free his friends from the villainous Clu. Beck is trained by Tron who shapes him from an impulsive fighter into a courageous and powerful warrior, worthy of becoming the next leader.

"It's not a kiddy show. It's not a cartoon. It's a show all Tron fans will enjoy. It has a great deal of style and action and our writers have done a great job in tying the story together. It's part of the whole saga," he says.

Tron: Uprising is directed by Charlie Bean (who directed TV's Robotboy and was the storyboard artist for shows like The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory) and boasts a stellar voice cast which includes Elijah Wood, Emmanuelle Chirqui, Mandy Moore, Lance Henricksen and Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman).

"Charlie was really the driving force behind this. Voice acting is very different. You have to try to 'physicalise' emotions and actions with just the voice. In the fight scenes, I have to .. well, I don't want to say grunt ... but exhale and bring that level of emotion and exertion into the voice. Sometimes, we act along with the animation, but a lot of the times, we don't see what is happening. Thank God we have Charlie because he is really good at telling us what we need to bring to a line or a scene. With Tron, I had to sort of bring a fatigue to my voice while maintaining a sense of command because he is tougher here and he's bent on destroying Clu. I had to add a huskier quality to my voice, if that makes sense. Of course, I am older and have a huskier voice so that worked out well," Boxleitner shares.

What took some getting used to, however, was seeing himself as an animated character that's somewhat physically different.

"The first time I saw (myself) I went: 'Whoa!' I wish I had a jaw like my animated character has. Gosh, what a strong jaw," he says with a laugh. "But, that's part of the stylisation of the series. I love the look of it. I think it's phenomenal how we've expanded the Grid to include all these cities, different landscapes, oceans. It reflects a darker, more dangerous and realistic game grid, which in turn reflects the type of games we have now. The original Tron almost seems sweet and innocent in comparison."

Boxleitner is game to reprise his role once more should a third Tron movie materialise: "I hope there will be one. I know that there is a story in development but I don't know when that will be out."

He, however, isn't too keen on many more remakes; except perhaps of the 1980s hit Scarecrow And Mrs King. Boxleitner reveals that after Tron, Scarecrow is possibly the character he is best known for, particularly among women "of a certain generation".

"I would love to (reprise Scare-crow) if someone had a terrific storyline that could work at our ages," he says, adding that he had re-connected with Scarecrow co-star Kate Jackson a couple of years ago and the two had laughed about the possibility of a remake.

"But there is one problem with that," he adds. "I don't want to relive my whole career again … an older, creakier version at that! I'm still interested in doing new things. I've got a lot yet to give."

Tron: Uprising premieres on Disney XD (Astro Ch 617) and Disney HD (Astro Ch 637) tomorrow at 2pm.

Grab your share

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 11:28 PM PST

Red FM loves rewarding its listeners with amazing prizes.

RED FM is the official radio station for the Miss Universe Malaysia pageant. With this, Red FM is offering you the opportunity to be as stylish as the contestants.

Starting Monday and for the next four consecutive Mondays, The Red Breakfast Show will be giving away prizes in conjunction with the five-episode Miss Universe Malaysia reality show aired on 8TV. Simply answer a question regarding the episode aired the night before and you can win yourself merchandise worth RM500 from Oris and RM200 shopping vouchers from Fashion Valet.

Red FM is also the official radio station for the Penang Island Jazz Festival. For the next two weeks, The Red Hub (Mondays to Fridays, 1pm-4pm) and The Red Room (Mondays to Fridays, 10pm-1am) will be giving out passes for you to experience great music on the gorgeous island. It's the end of the year, so win these passes for a well-deserved getaway.

The much-anticipated last instalment of the Twilight saga is finally here and Red FM is offering you a unique viewing experience. Red FM is the first radio station to give you The Twilight Saga Movie Marathon, thanks to Cathay Cineplex e@Curve in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. On Nov 23, from 8pm to 8am the following day, all four movies will be screened back-to-back. Calling all Edward Cullen and Jacob Black fans, here is your chance to get your fix of these two hotties. Come in your best Twilight outfit to take part in the Best Dressed competition. There will be other prizes to be won during the breaks between movies. For more information, check

So don't miss out on the opportunity to listen to great jazz music, ogle at good looking vampires and werewolves while being dressed stylishly. Keep yourself tuned to Red FM.

For more information, log on to Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page on and follow them on Twitter @iloveredfm. Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

Red FM's station frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1FM; George Town and Seberang Prai: 107.6FM; Ipoh, Perak: 106.4FM; Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9FM; Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6FM; Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9FM; Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8FM.


The Star Online: World Updates

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South Korea warns of rolling power blackouts after nuclear closures

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 08:40 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea may have to bring in rolling power blackouts this winter after the closure of nuclear plants for safety checks means the electricity network will have less than a third of normal reserve capacity.

Asia's fourth-largest economy said it plans to add 4,000 megawatts (MW) of power supply capacity through savings and new plants in a bid to head off potential blackouts.

The nuclear problems have increased the risk of power shortages in the harsh Korean winter after the closure of two reactors to replace parts with fake certificates and an extended shutdown of another reactor where microscopic cracks were found.

The northeast Asian country is heavily dependent on oil, gas and coal imports, but usually supplies about a third of its electricity from nuclear power generation from its 23 reactors.

Economy minister Hong Suk-woo said it remained uncertain whether reactors would be restarted in December after parts were replaced because the approval of the regulator was necessary, as well as support from residents.

"This winter will be very, very difficult for us to cope with," he said, when asked what would happens if reactors did not restart as planned in December

Under the government's plans, an additional 1,270 MW of power capacity would come from private and public power generators, a statement from the economy ministry said.

A further 3,000 MW is targeted from power savings including less heating at firms and public places, switching off neon lights and even a campaign to wear thermal underwear.

Without this, South Korea's excess generating capacity in January is forecast at 1,270 MW, or 28 percent of the margin that the government aims for to guarantee supplies, the statement said.

With little spare capacity, the grid would be vulnerable to power outages. If two 1,000-MW nuclear reactors fail to restart by the end December, the margin will drop sharply.

"It is important that no more power plants have outages from now on," said an economy ministry source, declining to be named.


South Korea would have to conduct rolling blackouts in the public sector if excess power generating capacity falls below 2,000 MW, the ministry said.

If the margin goes down below 1,000 MW, nationwide rolling blackouts could occur, a ministry source said, similar to what happened in September of last year when there was maintenance during a period when demand unexpectedly spiked due to hot weather.

The economy ministry said that shortage of power supply was expected to improve from 2014 as a combined 7,000 MW from power plants would be added to a total of more than 80,000 MW of power generating capacity by the end of 2013.

Minister Hong said South Korea may need to buy more fuel on spot markets to provide extra power.

"We would buy on the spot markets if necessary. At the moment we don't need to do as there are enough stocks."

South Korea said this week it lost two December LNG shipments from Indonesia after a fire at a terminal there. The cancelled volume was equivalent to 0.3 percent of South Korea's natural gas consumption of 35.41 million tonnes of LNG equivalent, it said.

South Korea is the world's second-largest LNG importer after Japan and its stocks stand at more than 80 percent of storage capacity.

Spot LNG prices are still far below the peak of $18 per million British Thermal Units (mmBtu) seen earlier this year caused by the closure of all of Japan's nuclear capacity over safety concerns after the Fukushima disaster.

(Additional reporting by Jane Chung, Eunhye Shin in Seoul, and Rebekah Kebede in Perth; Editing by Ed Davies)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Japan finance minister to visit Seoul next week amid diplomatic tensions

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 07:01 PM PST

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Koriki Jojima said on Friday he would visit Seoul on November 24 to meet with his South Korean counterpart at a finance dialogue, in a sign of some thawing in bilateral relations amid tensions over a territorial dispute.

The dialogue, the fifth of its kind, marks the first fully-fledged official meeting between the two Asian neighbours since the territorial spat flared up in the summer.

Talks had been postponed since Jojima's predecessor Jun Azumi cancelled his trip to Seoul in August when President Lee Myung-bak's visit to the islands that both countries claim sovereignty over sparked the political row.

South Korea controls the islands, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese, equidistant from the mainlands of both countries. Japan is also embroiled in a dispute with China over a different group of islands in the East China Sea.

Jojima said he would discuss Europe's problems, emerging market economies as well as the bilateral economic issues with South Korean Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan during his visit.

He shrugged off some doubt about the significance of the meeting as it comes just before elections in both countries due next month, which may result in a change of government.

"Even if a change of government occurs, it is still meaningful to carry out the dialogue under the current administration," he told reporters.

Japan is set to dissolve parliament's lower house on Friday for a December 16 election that is likely to return the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to power with a conservative former prime minister at the helm.

Tokyo and Seoul agreed last month not to renew a $57 billion currency swap facility designed to shield their economies from financial crisis, a decision they said was based on economic grounds and unrelated to the territorial dispute.

But Japan is still considering purchasing South Korean government bonds to promote bilateral economic cooperation.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Egypt PM to visit Gaza in support of Hamas against Israel

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 06:48 PM PST

GAZA (Reuters) - Egypt's prime minister prepared to visit the Gaza Strip on Friday in an unprecedented display of solidarity with Hamas militants embroiled in a new escalation of conflict with Israel that risks spiralling into all-out war.

Palestinians extinguish a fire after Israeli air strikes targeted an electricity generator that fed the house of Hamas's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Majdi Fathi

Palestinians extinguish a fire after Israeli air strikes targeted an electricity generator that fed the house of Hamas's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Majdi Fathi

Two rockets from Gaza crashed near Tel Aviv in the first such attack on Israel's commercial capital in 20 years. One fell into the Mediterranean Sea and the other in an uninhabited part of one of the Tel Aviv suburbs south of the city.

Two days of Israeli air strikes have killed 19 Palestinians, including seven militants and 12 civilians, among them six children and a pregnant woman. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday morning.

The latest upsurge in the long-running conflict came on Wednesday when Israel killed Hamas' military mastermind, Ahmed Al-Jaabari, in a precision air strike on his car. Israel then began shelling the coastal enclave from land, air and sea.

Israel says its offensive responded to increasing missile salvoes from Gaza. Its bombing has not yet reached the saturation level seen before it last invaded Gaza in 2008, but Israeli officials have said a ground assault remains possible.

The Gaza conflagration has stoked the flames of a Middle East ablaze with two years of Arab popular revolution and a civil war in Syria that threatens to spread farther afield.

Israeli warplanes bombed targets in and around Gaza City, rattling tall buildings. In a hint of escalation, the spokesman for Israel's military said it had received the green light to call in up to 30,000 reserve troops.

Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, viewed by Hamas as a protector, led a chorus of denunciation of the Israeli strikes by allies of the Palestinians.

Mursi's prime minister, Hisham Kandil, is to visit Gaza on Friday with other Egyptian officials in a show of support for the enclave, an Egyptian Cabinet official said. Israel promised the delegation would come to no harm.

An Egyptian government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said officials accompanying Kandil would explore the possibility of brokering a ceasefire.

Mursi faces domestic pressure to act tough. But Egypt gets $1.3 billion a year in U.S. military aid and looks to Washington for help with its ailing economy, constraining Mursi despite his need to show Egyptians that his policies differ from those of his U.S.-backed predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.


Air raid sirens sent residents running for shelter in Tel Aviv, a Mediterranean city that has not been hit by a rocket since the 1991 Gulf War, when it was targeted by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The Tel Aviv metropolitan area is home to more than 3 million people, more than 40 percent of Israel's population. "This escalation will exact a price that the other side will have to pay," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a television broadcast shortly after the strike.

But an Israeli Cabinet statement on Wednesday spoke only of "improving" national security - acknowledgement that the Jewish state had no illusions about crushing the militants once and for all.

Speaking at the same time in Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urged Egypt to do more to help the Palestinians.

"We call upon the brothers in Egypt to take the measures that will deter this enemy," the Hamas prime minister said.

The resurgent conflict will be the biggest test yet of Mursi's commitment to Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which the West views as the bedrock of Middle East peace.

Cairo recalled its ambassador from Israel on Wednesday. Israel's ambassador left Cairo on what was called a routine home visit. Israel said its embassy would remain open.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which brought Mursi to power in an election after the downfall of Mubarak, has called for a "Day of Rage" in Arab capitals on Friday. The Brotherhood is seen as the spiritual mentor of Hamas.

The Israeli army said 300 targets were hit in Gaza, including more than 130 militant rocket launchers. It said more than 270 rockets had struck Israel since the start of the operation, with its Iron Dome interceptor system shooting down more than 130 rockets bound for residential areas.

Expecting days or more of fighting and almost inevitable civilian casualties, Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets in Gaza advising residents to stay away from Hamas and other militants.


U.N. diplomats said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would head to Israel and Egypt next week to try to mediate a ceasefire, although they gave no further details.

The United States has asked countries that have contact with Hamas to urge the Islamist movement to stop its recent rocket attacks from Gaza, a White House adviser said.

"We've ... urged those that have a degree of influence with Hamas, such as Turkey and Egypt and some of our European partners, to use that influence to urge Hamas to de-escalate," Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, said in a conference call with reporters.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in an interview with Voice of America: "I understand the reasons Israel is doing what they're doing. They've been the target of missiles coming in from Gaza..."

He added, "Our hope is that in striking back that they can minimize the civilian deaths that are likely to occur."

French President Francois Hollande began talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other world leaders in an attempt to avert an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Jean-Francois Ayrault said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Netanyahu too, saying Hamas bore the principal responsibility for the crisis.

Israel's sworn enemy Iran, which supports and arms Hamas, condemned the Israeli offensive as "organised terrorism."

Lebanon's Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim militia Hezbollah, which has its own rockets aimed at the Jewish state, denounced strikes on Gaza as "criminal aggression," but held its fire.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation condemned Israel's action.

(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations and Phil Stewart in Bangkok; Writing by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem, Editing by Mark Heinrich, Todd Eastham and Peter Cooney)

Related Stories:
Factbox - Assassinations claimed by or blamed on Israel

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


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Portuguese rider dies in Macau qualifier

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 07:24 PM PST

HONG KONG: Portuguese motorcycle rider Luis Filipe de Sousa Carreira was killed in an accident during a qualifying session for the Macau Grand Prix, organisers said.

The organising committee said Carreira died from injuries sustained in the crash on Thursday afternoon.

"No other rider was involved in the incident, which occurred at Fisherman's Bend ... The qualifying session was immediately red flagged," the committee said in a statement.

"As a result of the doctors' diagnosis, Mr. Carreira was immediately evacuated by ambulance to the hospital."

The 35-year-old from Lisbon died about 30 minutes later, it added.

"The Macau Grand Prix Committee has contacted the family and the members of the team, and the committee expresses its sincere condolences," it said. - AFP

Australia's Leisel Jones retires

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 07:23 PM PST

SYDNEY: Australian triple Olympic gold medallist Leisel Jones Friday retired from swimming, saying she had achieved all she ever could in the sport after her fourth Games in London.

Champion breaststroker Jones, 27, said she had spent the months after the Olympics considering her future and decided to pull the plug on a career which spanned more than a dozen years.

"It's a very hard decision to come to and I took my time after London to make sure it was the right decision for me," she told reporters.

"I've come to the conclusion that I've ticked every single box that I have ever wanted to in my career and there is nothing more that I could ever achieve. So I am very happy with my career."

Jones said the decision had nothing to do with media criticism in the lead-up to London that the former world breaststroke record holder was overweight and not taking her fourth Olympics seriously.

"This decision came from a personal place," she said.

"I've done everything I've ever wanted; there is no more I could have achieved. I'm very happy with my London performance, it's better than I ever could have imagined."

Jones, the first Australian swimmer to qualify for four Olympics, won a silver medal in the 4x100m medley relay in London. She came fifth in the 100m breaststroke.

Over the course of her career she won nine Olympic medals, including three gold - two in Beijing in 2008 in the 100m breaststroke and 4x100m medley and one in Athens in 2004 in the 4x100m medley.

She also bagged 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals, seven World Championship gold medals and 23 national long course titles.

Jones, who began swimming at the age of just two, said she would always have a warm place in her heart for swimming and would like to continue helping youngsters in the sport.

But she insisted: "I'm not one for comebacks." Jones said she may study a psychology course at university next year. - AFP

Three share lead at LPGA titleholders

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 04:54 PM PST

NAPLES, Florida: Norway's Suzann Pettersen birdied the final hole on Thursday and joined South Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Sun Young Yoo atop the leaderboard at the LPGA's season-ending Titleholders.

Pettersen, winner of back-to-back LPGA titles in Asia last month, had six birdies and no bogeys in her six-under 66 at TwinEagles.

Yoo got as low as nine-under, but closed her round with a double-bogey and a bogey to fall into a tie for the lead in the $1.5 million tournament.

"I hit the ball great all day, but I'm a little disappointed how I finished the last couple of holes," Yoo said of the two three-putts that ended her round.

"But still, six-under was a good score," added Yoo, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship this year when I.K. Kim missed a one-foot putt for the victory then lost to Yoo in the playoff.

"I still have 54 holes to play, so I feel good," Yoo said.

Ryu, who has already locked up Rookie of the Year honors, had seven birdies and just one bogey for her share of the lead.

The top trio were one stroke in front of a quartet of players on 67: South Korea's Na Yeon Choi, Australian Lindsey Wright, France's Karine Icher and American Cristie Kerr - the winner on Sunday of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico.

South Korea's Jiyai Shin was among another four players tied on 68 on the tightly bunched leaderboard.

Player of the Year Stacy Lewis, who needs a victory to have a shot at capturing the LPGA money title, settled for a 70.

Pettersen has come alive late in the season, winning the LPGA HanaBank Championship in a playoff in South Korea then following up with a victory in Taiwan.

"I feel like my shoulders are fairly freed up after winning two in Asia," Pettersen said. "I don't feel like I really have to go out and do anything. That makes the game that much easier.

"My big goal now is to prepare and be well for 2013 and hopefully come out strong the way I finish, and hopefully get another three rounds together and see where that takes me for this tournament."

Pettersen was paired with Kerr, whose victory last week was her first in two years.

"I played awesome last week and carried that into this week," Kerr said.

Optimum scoring conditions saw 48 players in the field of 73 at par or better.

Not everyone could take advanage, however. Michelle Wie posted an 81, while world number one Yani Tseng opened with a 75. - AFP


The Star Online: Business

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KLCI reverses gains, TM, Genting drop

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 06:26 PM PST

Published: Friday November 16, 2012 MYT 10:27:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips fell in late morning trade on Friday, giving up its early gains, as fund took profit on Telekom Malaysia and SP Setia while Genting Bhd extended its decline.

At 10.08am, the FBM KLCI was down 5.29 points to 1,626.39. Turnover was 161.89 million shares valued at RM243.76mil. There were 134 gainers, 189 losers and 231 counters unchanged.

Bloomberg reported Asian equites rose, led by Japanese consumer stocks amid speculation an election next month will hand power to an opposition party that advocates more aggressive monetary easing in the world's third-biggest economy.

Maybank KE Research said following the KLCI's fall on Wednesday to 1,631.68, the index's resistance level of 1,631 and 1,650 would cap market gains, whilst weaker support areas are at 1,609 and 1,621.

"The FBM KLCI made an all-time high of 1,679.37 on Oct 29, 2012. Negative price action has resulted in the index forming a Bearish Engulfing Pattern for its weekly chart in early November, with further downside confirmation.

"As such, all rebound rallies should be sold. With the Dow's fall over the last two days, expect a volatile day to the downside locally," it said in its technical outlook for the KLCI.

At Bursa Malaysia, TM fell 13 sen to RM5.42, PetGas 12 sen to RM19.16 while HLBank dropped 12 sen to RM14.42.

SP Setia lost 19 sen to RM3.37 with 793,300 shares done and it was the second worst performer.

Genting Bhd extended its decline from Wednesday from the weaker Genting Singapore results.


KLCI opens higher, Maybank, PetGas lift

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 05:16 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips opened higher on Friday, boosted by gains in Maybank and Petronas Gas in line with the steadier Asian markets.

At 9am, the FBM KLCI was up 3.30 points to 1,634.98. Turnover was 13.13 million shares valued at RM21.79mil. There were 58 gainers, 26 losers and 73 counters unchanged.

BIMB Securities Research said investors' sentiments are currently at a slump following a host of political and economic developments worldwide.

"Locally, the FBMKLCI was down 5.91 points to 1,631.68 on Wednesday on low volume as many investors are sidelined on a shortened trading week of only 3 days. We believe trading to remain ominous today with the immediate support at 1,630 level," it said.

Reuters reported Asian shares steadied on Friday after falling nearly 2 percent this week amid concerns about the looming U.S. "fiscal cliff", while Japanese stocks rallied for a second day on expectations of further monetary policy easing after an election next month.

It said overnight on Wall Street, stocks were little changed on Thursday as the prospect of a drawn-out battle over impending tax and spending changes made investors wary of getting into the water, while retailer Wal-Mart tumbled after disappointing sales, Reuters reported.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.23% to 12,542.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 0.16%, to 1,353.33. The Nasdaq Composite Index was off 0.35% to 2,836.94.

At Bursa Malaysia, BAT rose 50 sen to RM56.98, PetGas 18 sen to RM19.46 and PetDag added 10 sen to RM21.78.

Bursa rose seven sen to RM6.33 while Maybank and Axiata edged up five sen each to RM9.10 and RM5.99. Top Glove jumped 13 sen to RM5.58.

Among the plantations, Genting Plantations jumped 41 sen to RM8.88 and KL Kepong 12 sen to RM20.92.

However, Public Bank Bhd shed 10 sen to RM15.36, HLFG eight sen lower at RM12.62, HL Bank eased four sen to RM14.50 and Astro dropped two sen to RM2.70.


Strong UEM Land Q3 results seen

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 05:13 PM PST

Friday November 16, 2012

PETALING JAYA: Although UEM Land Holdings Bhd might miss its RM3bil target, RHB Research believed that its third-quarter results, scheduled to be announced on Nov 28, will be much stronger.

In a recent note, the research house said the developer's third-quarter earnings would be much stronger with its annualised earnings potentially surpassing the previous full-year forecast.

This would match the management's key performance index of 40% growth at the profit after tax and minority interest level, the research firm noted.

"Progress billings are expected to pick up more substantially, mainly from East Ledang, Nusa Bayu, Nusa Idaman, MK28 and Quintet," RHB Research said.

"New projects will also flow in progressively, such as Somerset, Imperia, Summer VOS and Arcoris."

As at October, about RM1.4bil to RM1.5bil sales were achieved, much higher from the RM795mil secured in the first half, the research house said, noting that news flow ahead would largely centre on the development of Gerbang Nusajaya.

The research unit has raised UEM Land's financial year ending Dec 31, 2012 (FY12) to FY14 earnings forecasts upward by 16% to 28%, with anticipation of stronger second half of 2012 results and better property sales.

Its fair value was raised to RM2.48 from RM2.18 with a "trading buy" call.



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Salesgirl unwittingly smothers newborn to conceal birth

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 06:13 AM PST

KLANG: A salesgirl unwittingly smothered her newborn baby boy to death when she hid him under a mattress to conceal the birth at a house in Jalan Meru.

As the woman behaved suspiciously, her older sister, aged 27, checked the former's bedroom and found the lifeless infant under the mattress.

Police have detained a 24-year-old woman to facilitate investigations.

North Klang police chief ACP Mohd Shukor Sulong said the woman was believed to have delivered the baby about 4pm Wednesday.

"The suspect's sister lodged a police report after stumbling on the dead infant.

"A police team went to the house and found the dead baby's umbilical cord in a plastic bag.

"The suspect claimed that the baby's father was a Bangladeshi who had returned to his country last March," he said.

Mohd Shukor said the woman was sent to the Tuanku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital for examination. - Bernama

Dewan Ulama: Nurul Izzah's statement small matter, no need for debate

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 04:13 AM PST

KOTA BARU: PAS' Dewan Ulama has described the statement by PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar pertaining to religious freedom as a small matter with no necessity for debate.

Its chief, Datuk Dr Harun Taib, said the PKR leader did not have to repent as she had not committed a major sin.

"The Nurul Izzah issue is not a big issue, I don't have time to debate it," he told reporters after opening the 51st PAS Dewan Ulama Conference at the Perdana Resort, here.

Harun was asked to comment on statements by several leaders, including former PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, calling on Nurul Izzah to repent after her allegedly controversial statement on religious freedom.

A pro-opposition news portal, in a report on Nov 3, had quoted Nurul Izzah as saying that people should not be compelled to adopt a particular religion, and that this should also apply to Malays.

DPM launches network to connect Malaysian scientists worldwide

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 03:55 AM PST

GOLD COAST: The Malaysian Scientific Diaspora Network (MSDN), which was launched here Thursday, will serve as a key platform to connect Malaysian scientists worldwide and promote collaborative research in their areas of expertise for the country's benefit.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is on nine-day working visit to Australia, said the initiative is part of the national agenda to tap local talent abroad to contribute to the country.

Speaking at the launch with about 100 of Malaysia's best minds in Australia, Muhyiddin said the global Malaysian scientific community could use the network to discuss general scientific and research issues and represent the voice of the Malaysian scientific community across the world.

They could also use the network to provide valuable collective ideas to improve scientific research and development in Malaysia, promote research collaborations and knowledge sharing, and provide guidance for young researchers, he said.

"We believe that this scientific diaspora network is a valuable source of talents that can be tapped to enhance knowledge and skills transfer, and in turn, strengthen scientific research in Malaysia.

"Indirectly, Malaysian scientists working abroad can contribute to our national progress and development through their collaborative work with Malaysian researchers," he said.

Muhyiddin said it was a new approach to get the best Malaysian minds to reinvigorate scientific research in Malaysia and help transform the country into a high-income developed nation by 2020.

"This innovative way of 'brain gain' will of course, be mutually beneficial for both Malaysian scientists working abroad and those working in Malaysia.

"With the strength of one million diasporas abroad based on the World Bank Report, where about 120,000 of them are in Australia, Malaysia was looking at a new way to tap those talents for the interest of the nation.

"The Malaysians overseas work as professionals in various sectors of the economy including banking, engineering, medicine and some of them work as lecturers or researchers in universities, and many others run their own businesses," he said.

The deputy prime minister said, the MSDN offered strategic benefits which included global exposure to education, technology and business, providing inputs for the formulation of national strategic plans and policies, opportunities for collaboration and partnership, participation in academic and business forum, consultation, seminars and dialogues.

The network would also allow researchers to utilise resources beyond individual organisations and provide strategic direction in the development of human resource capability towards enhancing national competency, he said.

Muhyiddin said it was envisioned that the newly-launched MSDN would comprise Malaysian researchers working in Australia, non-Malaysian researchers working in Australia who are interested to collaborate with researchers in Malaysia, and Malaysian and non-Malaysian researchers working in Malaysia.

For the Australian chapter, the network aimed to connect with prestigious scientific community in Australia such as the Australian Academy of Sciences, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, he said.

Expressing delight that Malaysia's higher education ministry had taken the initiative to establish the MSDN, Muhyiddin hoped the network would be strategically managed and utilised to allow Malaysian scientists to contribute effectively to knowledge transfer and growth in Malaysia.

"Malaysian diasporas are great assets to our country, an asset that we would like to continuously nurture and develop for the benefit of our nation," he said. - Bernama


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Red Lights - Thriller with supernatural overtones

Posted: 16 Nov 2012 04:42 AM PST

A Spanish filmmaker sees a future in making supernatural-themed movies.                             

Some years ago, Rodrigo Cortes was in Hollywood trying to find support for a film he had written when he happened to read a script about a man buried in a coffin while still alive. He thought the screenplay was brilliant.

"Nobody wanted it. They thought it was impossible to film. Everyone in Hollywood thought the material was great, but that it was not meant to be a movie.

"I became obsessed with it," says the 39-year-old Spanish filmmaker.

Written by screenwriter Chris Sparling, the entire story takes place inside the coffin, with the only visible character that of the trapped man. Conventional wisdom ruled that no one would watch a film that felt so claustrophobic, even if a director could get around the technical difficulties of filming inside a box barely large enough to hold one person, much less making it visually interesting.

"I wanted to do it, maybe because it was such a foolish idea," says Cortes.

Actor Ryan Reynolds believed in the project and signed on. His cachet helped raise the production budget of US$2mil (RM6mil). Buried was a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, winning notices for the technical brilliance of the directing and Reynolds' gripping performance. It has now earned 10 times its cost of production.

The film that Cortes was trying to produce before he was sidetracked by Buried is Red Lights, which opens in Malaysia this week.

Compared with the minimalist casting of Buried, his first English-language feature, Red Lights, a thriller with supernatural overtones, is bursting at the seams with A-listers. They include Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy and Toby Jones.

Like Reynolds in Buried, "the actors are in this film because they want to be in it", not because they are being paid their usual fee, says Cortes in a phone interview from from Salamanca, a city in the west of Spain, where he is doing research for his next film.

The stars of Red Lights are taking far less than their usual amount to meet the film's US$15mil (RM45mil) budget. The story takes place in the United States, but to stretch his money, Cortes filmed the interior shots in Barcelona, Spain, and the exteriors in Toronto, Canada, dressed up slightly to look like an American city.

To be working with screen icons such as De Niro in only his second English-language feature posed an interesting challenge for Cortes.

"You have to disconnect your brain, in a way. If you focus on it, you are going to die, under the pressure of his legend," he says.

Directing these veterans proved to be easy, he says, in that they are no different from other experienced actors he has worked with in their enthusiasm and willingness to serve the character.

Cortes, born in the north-western region of Galicia, speaks English fluently though not in an idiomatic way. He had always intended for the story of Red Lights to be set in the United States, and for the protagonists to be Americans. He wrote the script in Spanish, then worked with a translator to produce a version in English.

The story comments on the revered status of magicians such as David Blaine, he says, but the character of the superstar psychic Simon Silver (De Niro) also bears the traits of the televangelist and the demagogue politician.

"There is a huge business in the US. It is fascinating to see this need to believe and how it has become showbusiness," he says.

Because Red Lights pits the supernatural against the rational and is structured as a thriller with a surprise ending, there has been some comparison between Red Lights and the works of M. Night Shyamalan. It has not helped that the film's poster bears the phrase "This year's Sixth Sense".

Cortes dislikes that phrase because it sets up the wrong expectations, but there is little he can do, he says. This is the nature of the business. For distributors, films are just products that need to be packaged in formats familiar to the consumer, he says.

"That is what happens when movies are released. For a couple of months, they are like hamburgers." – The Straits Times Singapore/Asia News Network

Trailer Park

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 11:25 PM PST

World War Z

AFTER much delay, World War Z, the movie based on Max Brooks' brilliant book, is finally here. The book tells of how the world went from bad to worse through interviews conducted by a journalist who goes to different parts of the globe. He speaks to a survivor who reveals what went on at a place where he was when the world was fighting an unstoppable zombie outbreak – also known as World War Z.

The film looks somewhat different. It focuses on one United Nations employee (played by Brad Pitt) who must race against time to stop the outbreak of a deadly zombie pandemic. But from the trailer it's obvious that they haven't totally abandoned the concept of the book, as our hero goes to other parts of the world to see what's going on. Its hook is definitely the scene in which a massive number of zombies are trying to get over a wall.

Quickly read the awesome best-selling book before the film comes to our cinemas on June 20, 2013.

Movies Coming Soon

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 11:25 PM PST

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two — Stephenie Meyer's drawn-out tale about a teenager finding herself after falling in love with a vampire reaches the end. Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.

Rise Of The Guardians — The Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, Mr Sandman, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy must work together when darkness threatens the innocence of children around the world. Featuring the voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower — Author Stephen Chbosky directs the adaptation of his book of the same name. It revolves around an introverted freshman who finds his place in the world when two seniors befriend him.

This film is featured in Golden Screen Cinemas' International Screens and stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller.


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Age-old story of hair

Posted: 10 Nov 2012 11:18 PM PST

A tribal arts museum in Paris puts the spotlight on a 'seat of human dignity'.

WHAT do Louis XIV, the Kanaks of New Caledonia and the punk generation have in common? For starters, all paid a great deal of care to their hair, the subject of a major new show at Paris' museum of tribal arts.

Forget the cliche of the wild-haired caveman. "Humans have cut, arranged and coiffed their hair since at least 21,000 BC," explained Yves Le Fur, curator of the 10-month show dubbed Cheveux Cheris (Dear Hair), which opened in September.

From jewels, wigs and headdresses to talismans, mummies – or human scalps – the Quai Branly Museum's treasure trove of artefacts from Africa, Oceania or Latin America provide the backbone of the exhibit. But the show takes the millennia-old history of hair in its stride, from the way a hairstyle defines us to its shifting fashions and codes, why people grow or shave it, and what happens when we lose it.

To set the scene, a gallery of busts in marble and bronze from the 16th to 19th centuries depicts the European greats of the day, opposite no less gloriously-coiffed figures from Africa or China.

Chosen pieces from the Western canon capture the poetry of hair, from a 14th-century statue of Mary Magdalene, locks flowing to her ankles, to a 1900 stone naiad, L'Aurore, smiling at daybreak behind a veil of parted curls.

Cut to the 20th century, where giant portraits of Brigitte Bardot and Ava Gardner recall the iconic blondes, brunettes and redheads of the screen age – their impeccable curls more than matched by the Bouffant Belles, an all-female Texan running team from the 1960s.

Captured in the glossy blonde chignons at a 1924 Parisian coiffure evening, the Western ideal is set opposite the looped and tressed hairstyles of Mahafaly women from Madagascar, in a shot taken 15 years later.

Likewise, hair-as-rebellion is spotlighted in a video installation featuring punk Mohicans and edgy catwalk looks, alternating with similar hairstyles worn perfectly seriously in traditional societies.

But beyond the to and fro between Western and non-Western cultures, the show makes a broader point. Under the Carolingian kings in mediaeval times, long hair was a sign of royalty. Elsewhere long hair stood for religious devotion, for mourning or hippie rebellion. Soldiers, monks and skin-heads have in common their shaved skull.

"Hair does not have a fixed meaning. It's like a conduit for social codes," explained Le Fur.

These codes are on full display in part two, which explores what happens when we lose our hair, wilfully or otherwise.

Three blonde curls, fastened with a bow into a poignant relic, are all that remains of Emma, who cut off her hair to enter a Carmelite nunnery in 1900. From Gabon, Guinea, Japan or Brazil, video archives from the 50s to the 80s highlight the initiation ceremonies where shaving the head is a rite of passage.

But the dramatic keynote comes from photo and video footage dated August 1944, showing French women, one of them with babe in arms, paraded before a hateful crowd, their heads shaved as punishment for cavorting with German troops.

For Helene Fulgence, the museum's director of exhibitions, the cruel images get to the heart of the matter.

"These women weren't injured, hair grows back. And yet this is truly an act of torture and humiliation. It is extreme evidence of the fact that hair is one of the seats of human dignity."

Dignity is also at stake in the melancholy room devoted to extreme old age – featuring a shot of a nearly-bald William S. Burroughs in 1995, two years before the Beat Generation writer died.

Which leads into the final section, displaying decorative and ritual objects made of human hair, with toucan feathers on a hairpiece from Ecuador, or matted on the macabre "shrunken heads" created as trophies by Amazonian tribes.

"Each one of these objects contained – at a given moment – the energy of a human being," said Le Fur. "Because hair doesn't rot, it provides a gateway between the living and the dead."

Nowhere is this more true than in New Caledonia, where Kanak mourner-priests let their hair grow for three years, to create giant domes of hair mounted upon wood-and-feather masks.

"They believe the hair connects them to their ancestors like a cable," said Fulgence. "Which just goes to show hair is about much more than looks." – AFP


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