Rabu, 28 November 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Riot police move in to end Myanmar copper mine protest

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 07:53 PM PST

YANGON (Reuters) - Riot police fired water cannon and tear gas early on Thursday to break up a three-month protest against a vast copper mining project run by the powerful Myanmar military and its partner, a subsidiary of a Chinese arms manufacturer.

After decades of oppression, the Monywa mine has become a test of Myanmar's commitment to reform as protesters probe new-found freedoms, including a relaxation of laws on protests that took effect in July.

It also illustrates growing resentment towards Chinese companies that have expanded in recent years across the country.

Witnesses said truckloads of police arrived at camps near the mine in the Sagaing region in Myanmar's northwest, where thousands have demonstrated against a $1 billion expansion of the project, which they say has caused the unlawful confiscation of more than 7,800 acres (3,160 hectares) of land.

Shin Oattama, a Buddhist monk who had helped the villagers, told Reuters by telephone security forces began to use water cannon and other weapons at about 3 a.m., wounding 10 monks, two of them critically.

"They shot some sort of canisters that caused fire at the camp. We just don't know what sort of weapon it was," he said. "We are now seeking refuge at a nearby village. There's no ambulance, no doctor to take care of the injured," he said.

Land disputes are a growing problem in Myanmar. Protests were suppressed quickly under a military junta in place until last year but have become more common as President Thein Sein opens up the country, also known as Burma, and pushes through reforms.

"This is an example of the skin-deep nature of Burma's reforms," said Mark Farmaner of the London-based advocacy group Burma Campaign UK.

"The new right-to-protest law was hailed as a major reform but it is clear there is still no right to protest in Burma."

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace laureate and a member of parliament, was going ahead with a scheduled visit to the site on Thursday, her National League for Democracy (NLD) party said. She intended to speak to the protesters about their grievances.

NLD official Ohn Kyaing told Reuters by telephone she had flown to the central city of Mandalay and was going on to Monywa by road.

The mine, Myanmar's biggest, is run by a unit of China North Industries Corp, a leading Chinese weapons manufacturer, under a deal signed in June 2010 after Canada's Ivanhoe Mines Ltd pulled out in 2007. It is backed by the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL).

UMEHL operated with impunity under the military regime that ruled Myanmar for almost half a century until 2011.


The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by China's Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, said in an editorial published on Thursday it would be a "lose-lose situation for China and Myanmar if the project is halted".

"Only third parties, including some Western forces, will be glad to see this result," it said, blaming "some Westerners" and non-government organisations for instigating the protests.

"We must not give up on the project. Even if it is eventually stopped, Chinese companies should receive compensation according to the contract and international practice," it said.

As the number of land disputes increase, villagers appear emboldened by reforms under Thein Sein, who took office in March 2011, and are pushing back.

Authorities warned the protesters late on Tuesday to clear the site by midnight that day so that a parliamentary commission could carry out an investigation.

State television said all project work had been halted since November 18 because of the protests.

Myo Thant, a member of the 88 Generation Students Group who has been monitoring the situation in Monywa, said: "Police used tear gas canisters. Gun shots were not heard. So far as we know, three Buddhist monks were injured in the fire that broke out at one of the camps. Nobody knows for sure how the fire started."

Protests stretching back at least three months have involved thousands of locals and supporters. They told Reuters in September four of 26 villages at the project site had already been displaced, along with monasteries and schools.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Writing by Alan Raybould and Jason Szep; Editing by Paul Tait)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

U.S. flight delayed after passenger finds shotgun shell

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 07:45 PM PST

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Delta flight from Milwaukee to Detroit was delayed on Wednesday after a passenger found a live shotgun shell by his seat and everyone on board had to pass through a security check a second time, a sheriff's official said.

The passenger found the shell at 6:47 a.m. local time in the seat-back pocket in front of him, said Fran McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office. The incident occurred at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport.

A sheriff's canine unit swept the plane and found no other shell casings, McLaughlin said.

The Transportation Security Administration rescreened all the passengers aboard the flight. After a one-hour delay, the plane took off for its original destination of Detroit, she said.

Representatives from Delta and the TSA could not be reached for comment.

The man who found the shell was interviewed by investigators, who found nothing suspicious about him, McLaughlin said. It remained unclear how the shell ended up on the flight.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

UN chief recommends "offensive military operation" in Mali

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 07:44 PM PST

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday recommended that the Security Council approve an African Union peace enforcement mission be deployed to combat Islamist extremists in northern Mali, but did not offer financial support from the world body.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stands during Yemen's national anthem at a ceremony in Sanaa November 19, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stands during Yemen's national anthem at a ceremony in Sanaa November 19, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Diplomats and U.N. officials say that peace enforcement missions allow the use of lethal force in serious combat situations, while peacekeeping operations are intended to support and monitor an already existing ceasefire.

The last U.N.-led peace enforcement mission approved by the 15-nation Security Council was in Somalia in the early 1990s when 18 U.S. troops were killed in the "Black Hawk Down" incident, an event that led to U.S. withdrawal of combat troops from U.N.-commanded peacekeeping operations.

Ban's cautiously worded recommendation made clear that the world body is still wary of getting back into the peace-enforcement business. He said that the council should ensure that political, human rights, training and operational benchmarks be met before any military offensive commences.

As planning for the mission continues, Ban said the 15-nation council could "authorize member states of the African Union to establish AFISMA for an initial period of one year, comprising 3,300 (international) personnel to take all necessary measures to assist the Malian authorities."

AFISMA is the proposed acronym for the U.N.-mandated African force in Mali.

"Fundamental questions on how the force would be led, sustained, trained, equipped and financed remain unanswered," Ban said. "Plans for both the international force and the Malian security and defence forces need to be developed further."

One Security Council diplomat was furious at Ban's recommendation against granting the AU request for U.N. funding for the operation, which U.N. diplomats estimate will cost $300 million to $500 million.

"I think it's quite insulting to a number of countries, in particular to some AU countries," a Security Council diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Another diplomat said the council was under no obligation to follow Ban's recommendations, although he added that it might be hard to secure a majority in favour of overriding them in order to provide U.N. funding to an AU operation in Mali.

Ban suggested that the funding for the initial military combat operations could be through "voluntary or bilateral contributions" - which diplomats said meant European Union member states would be asked to cover costs.


The fall of Mali's north to Islamists, including AQIM, al Qaeda's North African wing, has carved out a safe haven for militants and international organized crime, U.N. officials say, stirring fears of attacks in West Africa and in Europe.

African leaders are seeking a U.N. mandate to send a mainly West African force to rebuild Mali's army and back operations to win back the occupied desert zones.

Ban expressed reservations about the United Nations' capacity to take on "terrorists and affiliated groups."

"Targeted military operations may be required to dislodge them from northern Mali, in which case member states may decide to directly support the military activity needed to combat these groups," Ban said.

He added that once major combat operations the council could consider authorizing an actual U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Council diplomats said that could take the form of special forces units from individual U.N. member states.

Diplomats say they want to adopt a resolution authorizing the mission before the end of the year.

African officials estimate there are 2,500-3,000 core fighters amongst the Islamists coming from Africa, Europe and Asia. The U.S. estimates the hard-core contingent of Islamists much lower at between 800 and 1,200. The conflict has forced 400,000 Malians to flee their homes.

Regional powerhouse Algeria says it prefers a negotiated solution.

U.N. diplomats and officials say the Algerians are concerned that a military offensive against the Islamists in northern Mali could push them across the border into Algeria, though Algiers has indicated its cautious support for the undertaking.

Last week former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, the U.N. envoy to the troubled Sahel region, which includes Mali, ruled out imminent action, saying it would not be possible before September or October next year.

The European Union is planning to send 200 troops to Mali to help with training. But like the United States and former colonial power France, which is the keenest of Western nations for military action, Brussels has ruled out a combat role.

West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS agreed this month to commit the 3,300 troops for the international force. The troops would mostly come from Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso, but other West African countries and two or three non-African states may also contribute, said Ivory Coast President Alassane Outtara.

Once viewed as an example of progress towards democracy in Africa, Mali fell into chaos after a coup in March that toppled the president and left a power vacuum that was quickly exploited by rebels to take over the north.

(Editing by Stacey Joyce and Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Homeland', 'Mad Men' nominated for Producers Guild Awards

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 07:56 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Emmy-winning dramas Homeland, Mad Men and British period piece Downton Abbey will compete for the annual Producers Guild Awards for the top shows on U.S. television, organizers announced on Wednesday.

But last year's winner - HBO's lavish Prohibition-era gangster drama Boardwalk Empire - failed to make the cut this year with the Producers Guild of America, one of the leading professional guilds in Hollywood.

Instead, the producers of popular fantasy drama Game Of Thrones and drug underworld show Breaking Bad round out the nominees for the top PGA prize in television.

The PGA also nominated the producers of comedies Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Louie, 30 Rock and Larry David's wry Curb Your Enthusiasm as contenders for its 2013 awards on the small screen.

In the reality genre, singing contest The Voice will go head to head with fashion show Project Runway, Top Chef, Dancing With The Stars and Emmy darling The Amazing Race.

Hollywood's guilds represent professionals in their respective industries, and recognition by peers can go a long way toward boosting a producer's career.

The PGA will announce nominees in its closely watched movie category in early January, and hand out its awards for film and television at a ceremony in Hollywood on 26 January.

No more damage

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 12:49 AM PST

Glenn Close and Rose Byrne dish out the last season of Damages, the crime thriller that has redefined women on television.

FIVE years ago, young and idealistic law graduate Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) accepts a job at one of New York City's top law firms, Hewes and Associates, in the ground breaking legal thriller Damages.

Parsons is warned by her peers that working for the brilliant, but ruthless litigator Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) will change her irrevocably; not for the better. But being ambitious and at the same time extremely naive, Parsons disregards the warnings for a chance to work with Hewes, one of the few women to command attention and respect in the largely male-dominated legal world.

As Hewes' protegĂ©, Parsons is confronted by some unexpected truths – how ruthless her boss really is and the lengths she is willing to go to win a case. Parsons learns that with Hewes there is always collateral damage.

As the series progresses, the relationship between the two changes as dramatically as the twists and turns of the plot. Parsons shifts from being the young, hopeful protege to being the unfortunate victim in Hewes' end game and ultimately a worthy adversary.

In its five-year run, Damages has proven to be arguably one of the best legal thrillers on TV. But no matter how compelling the cases are, the focus of the series has always been the complicated and intense relationship between the two female leads.

In a telephone interview from Los Angeles, California, both Close and Byrne talk candidly about their characters and the series, which is currently in its fifth and final season.

But first, we have to get past the laughter. Just seconds into the interview, Byrne breaks into a fit of giggles which takes a couple of minutes to subside.

"I'm sorry," offers Close, clearly amused at her co-star. "Rose gets this way at times. She can get into these giggling fits where she can't stop. She has no control and tears start rolling down her face and we don't quite know what to do. I mean, we can't look at her because we'll start laughing and the crew starts laughing … and the poor producers are looking at their watches."

Byrne barely pulls herself together and apologises.

"I think the tone of the show was so heavy so it was good to keep things a little light," explains Byrne in a thick Australian accent, which she skilfully masks on the show.

"We have a lot of fun on the set," adds Close, "We're funny people. Ted (Danson) is funny and Tate Donovan … he's a really funny guy. He has a great sense of humour. I mean he can't remember his lines … but he's a really funny guy."

The two, particularly Byrne, break out in laughter again as they talk about Donovan, but this time it's more contained.

The laughter helps break the ice as telephone interviews are never easy, particularly when the show is so serious and the talents are so accomplished.

"I think our writers were excited about writing for women and I think Rose and I brought some real collaboration with the development of those characters. It (the relationship between Hewes and Parsons) is very much a love-hate relationship. You feel that these women will never work with someone like each other again.

"They know that they make an extraordinary team and I always felt that Patty sees Ellen as this daughter she never had. This love between them makes it much more difficult and complex," says Close.

Adds Byrne: "This whole thing with Patty and Ellen … their relationship isn't about men. It's a far more complicated relationship about power, struggle, manipulation and about teaching and learning. I can't recall seeing that between two women on TV. It's really fascinating the way that they've (the show's writers) chosen to examine a relationship. And unique."

The 32-year-old actress from Sydney, Australia, got her start in acting when she was 13, landing a role in Australian film Dallas Doll, co-starring American actress Sandra Bernhard. Her first Hollywood role was as Dorme, hand maiden to senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) in Star Wars: Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (in a past interview, Byrne joked about her role in the movie saying, "… blink and you'll miss me.

"Basically, I was just standing behind Natalie Portman looking really serious). She went on to act alongside Brad Pitt in Troy. It was, however, her role in Damages that brought her to the forefront.

"I've never played a character with such an extreme arc as Ellen, in terms of where she started and where she finishes and that was really wild. Playing a character on a long running series is like being in a novel because you don't really know what's going to happen next. It's very day-to-day and I've never experienced that before," says Byrne who recently won praise for her comedic role in Bridesmaids (2011).

Close, 65, is certainly no stranger to picking challenging roles: from Alex Forrest, the jealous mistress in the hit movie Fatal Attraction, to the scheming Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons and more recently, Captain Monica Rawling on cop series The Shield.

And although Hewes is largely seen as the "villain" on the show, Close sees a vulnerable side to her which she says viewers too will get to see by the end of the series.

"I'm not going to give anything away, but near the very end, you get a revelation about Patty that makes you understand why she is the way she is and that is pretty powerful.

"The writers explained a whole lot about her that had never been dramatised before and I was really moved by it.

"It gave me real insight into this character that I have been playing for five years and I think, on the writers' part, that was quite an astounding achievement … to be able to learn something new about the character on the last episode of the fifth year. I have utmost respect and awe of what they did," the actress discloses.

Regardless, Close has never shied away from expressing her admiration for the uncompromising Hewes and the strength she represents for women on TV as well as in life.

Choosing roles that empower women is something Close does deliberately.

"As women, what we choose to do and the types of shows we choose to be in … that's our contribution. I take that quite seriously. I don't like to do scripts that denegrade women or have violence against women. There are some things I won't do because I don't want to perpetuate an idea or blow up an issue that I don't think should exist," she says emphatically.

Despite their love for the show, both women are ready to say goodbye to their roles. Byrne feels that her character comes full circle in the final season and that fans will not be disappointed with how the show ends.

"Being on the show was a turning point in my life but I think the time was right for the writers and everyone to end on a really high powerful note. This season really explores Ellen's character. It is Ellen becoming an adult. In Season One, she was a child growing up and then we see her rebelling against Patty to finally blossoming into her own. It is a really powerful show and very haunting," says Byrne.

The end of the series, reckons Close, does not quite mean saying goodbye to her character.

"I think you never really let a character go, especially one that you've played for five years. The characters stay with you pretty much forever. What you take away from that character … it becomes part of your library and I just feel incredibly privileged to play Patty Hewes."

She, however, reveals that Damages may well be the last TV series for her.

"(When you do a series), you have to sign your life away for possibly six years and at this point in my life … (laughter)… that's a lot. I love television and if there is a great miniseries or a TV movie, I'd love to do it. But not for six years. But then again …. who knows?" she says, laughing along with Byrne once again.

> Damages Season Five premieres on beTV (Astro Ch 720) today and airs every weeknight at 10.10pm.

Dallas reboot

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 12:53 AM PST

The Ewings return with more family drama.

GET ready for big oil, Stetson cowboy hats and manipulation as the next generation of Ewings take ambition and deception to another level.

After a 21-year hiatus, the Ewings are back and ready to grace our TV screens with more antics as the battle for energy, power, love and money rages again.

Since ruthless oil baron J.R. Ewing (the late Larry Hagman who died of cancer last week) had a gun pointed to his head in the 1991 series finale, the new Dallas has a younger generation of actors joining the iconic original stars Hagman, Patrick Duffy (as Bobby) and Linda Gray (as Sue Ellen) at the Southfork ranch in Dallas, Texas.

The new series was created by Cynthia Cidre (The Mambo Kings, Cane) from the original Dallas and Knots Landing series crafted by David Jacobs. The new Dallas co-stars Josh Henderson (Desperate Housewives, 90210), Jesse Metcalfe (John Tucker Must Die, Desperate Housewives), Jordana Brewster (The Fast And The Furious films), Julie Gonzalo (Veronica Mars) and Brenda Strong (Desperate Housewives).

The sprawling white Southfork family ranch, theme song and three-way split screen opening titles remain the same as the predecessor series.

In the latest production, John Ross (Henderson) – J.R. Ewing and Sue Ellen's son – is determined to undermine his grandmother's legacy by drilling for oil on Ewing land.

Christopher (Metcalfe), Bobby's adopted son, hopes to take the family business away from oil and in the new direction of alternative energy sources. Complicating matters is the presence of the ambitions Elena Ramos (Brewster), John Ross' girlfriend and Christopher's former fiancée.

The series also finds good-hearted Bobby as the family patriach while the conniving J.R. – who missed the mark with his suicide attempt – stays in an assisted living facility. Alcoholic Sue Ellen has turned over a new leaf and is planning to run for governor.

"Bringing a show like Dallas to the 21st century has been both exciting and daunting," said executive producer Cidre, who took up the challenge of writing the pilot for the new series, in a press release.

"It would have been very easy for the show to devolve into camp or cheap melodrama. Instead, we decided to concentrate on making a smart, passionate family drama told on an epic scale. We're especially thrilled to work so closely with the leaders of Dallas in making the city a key character in the show."

With Hagman's passing, Cidre said: "Larry Hagman was a giant, a larger-than-life personality whose iconic performance as J.R. Ewing will endure as one of the most indelible in entertainment history.

He truly loved portraying this globally recognised character, and he leaves a legacy of entertainment, generosity and grace. Everyone at Warner Bros and in the Dallas family is deeply saddened by Larry's passing, and our thoughts are with his family and dear friends during this difficult time."

Website bbc.co.uk reported that the new Dallas will be rewritten to reflect the death of Hagman. A statement from the Britain broadcaster Channel 5 said: "Dallas is midway in production on Season Two and this sad news will be incorporated into the storyline.

> Dallas premieres tonight at 10pm, on Warner TV (HyppTV, Ch 162).

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

McDowell back chasing title at Tiger's event

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:50 PM PST

THOUSAND OAKS, California: Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell says he's happy to be back at the World Challenge invitational hosted by Tiger Woods, a tournament that has been key in his career.

McDowell won the tournament in 2010, following up his US Open triumph earlier that year up the Pacific coast at Pebble Beach.

But he still believes it was his runner-up finish in 2009, when he received a last-minute invitation, that set the stage for his 2010 breakthrough.

"There's no doubt, I always look back fondly not only at 2010 when I won here but I look fondly at 2009, as well, as certainly something that kick-started a bit of a chain reaction of amazing events that would be a very defining year for me in my career so far."

McDowell said geography played into his decision not to defend his title at Sherwood Country Club, in rolling countryside west of Los Angeles, last year.

Instead he played in the Nedbank Challenge at Sun City in South Africa.

"I decided to go to Sun City before the Race to Dubai Championship because I figured it would be an easier journey from South Africa to Dubai," he said. "So it's great to be able to come back here this year. It's a good golf course and there are good memories for me here."

Two notable absentees this year are world number one Rory McIlroy and number two Luke Donald.

Woods, ranked third in the world, ended a two-year global victory drought here last year and he also carried the momentum forward. He won three US PGA Tour titles this season, although he was unable to add to his total of 14 major championships.

"I'm very excited because last year at this point in time I was still not quite where I wanted to be physically," Woods said.

"I've played a full schedule for the first time in a very long time, and just very pleased with what I've done overall with my game. But obviously there's always things we need to work on." - AFP

Report: Ferrari may appeal Vettel title

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:49 PM PST

LONDON: Ferrari are considering an appeal against an over-taking manoeuvre by Sebastian Vettel at Sunday's chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix which could see the German stripped of his title, it was reported Wednesday.

The Daily Mail claimed that YouTube footage appeared to show Vettel, the youngest triple world champion in Formula One history, overtaking Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne under yellow flags in the early laps of the rain-affected race at Interlagos.

Overtaking under caution is outlawed and is usually punished with a drive-through penalty.

However, in cases where the infringement is not spotted, the newspaper claimed, the sanction is a 20-second penalty handed out retrospectively.

Vettel was sixth in Sunday's season-ending race while double world champion Fernando Alonso was second in his Ferrari behind winner, McLaren's Jenson Button.

The result allowed Vettel to beat Alonso in the title race by just three points.

The aftermath of Sunday's thrilling race in Sao Paulo was overshadowed by Ferrari insisting that Alonso should have been crowned champion, pointing to controversial races in Belgium and Japan to support their argument.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said that Alonso paid a heavy price for first lap exits in Belgium and Japan where he was shunted out of contention by Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen respectively.

The Italian giants had been further aggrieved when Vettel, accused of blocking Alonso in qualifying in Japan before going on to win the race, escaped with just a reprimand.

"We are proud of Fernando," said Domenicali. "But we are very disappointed because the one who deserved this championship was really him.

"It is a shame because, after such a long season that we really fight in all conditions, we raced 18 races and not 20 - and being second by three points is not a lot.

"Watch the facts. Zero points in two races (Belgium and Japan) so we have done what we have done with 18 races. The others had 20 - and the points were over 20 races. These are facts, not words."

Alonso also insisted his campaign had been undermined at Spa and Suzuka.

"The championship was not lost here," said the two-time champion. "The championship was lost when (Romain) Grosjean flew over my head (at Spa) or when Vettel surprisingly only got a reprimand after qualifying in Japan."

Vettel refused to get involved in a war of words although he did allude to his rivals' controversial decision last weekend in Texas to change the gearbox on Felipe Massa's Ferrari in order to allow Alonso to enjoy a starting advantage on the grid.

"A lot of people tried to play dirty tricks but we did not get distracted by that and kept going our way and all the guys gave a big push right to the end," Vettel said. - AFP

Pandelela is first Universiti Malaya Olympian fund recipient

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:16 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Teenagers from humble background who aspire to make it in life should look no further than national diver Pandelela Rinong Pamg for inspiration.

The 19-year-old Bidayuh girl, whose father worked as a contract labourer to raise the family, was announced as the inaugural recipient of the Universiti Malaya Olympian Fund, which entitles her to full scholarship, at their annual sports recognition ceremony yesterday.

Pandelela made the country proud when she became the first female Olympic medallist in the 10m platform competition in London in July.

She enrolled for a Sports Science course at UM recently.

Pandelela will enjoy fee exemption from tuition and accommodation as well as earn subsistence and training allowances worth RM30,000 a year.

The funding is from September this year until her graduation in February 2015.

Pandelela divides her time between lectures at the Sports Science faculty and daily training at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil.

The UM Olympian Fund was initiated to provide encouragement to athletes who excel in sports and have good potential for further academic studies at the university.

The scholarship will be made available to all athletes who win a medal in Olympic competition and intend to pursue further studies at UM.

"I'm so happy and proud to be named the initial recipient of the Olympian fund.

"I've always dreamt of becoming a scholarship recipient. I may not be a scholar but it gives me equal joy to receive it as an athlete," said Pandelela.

Also launched last night was the Pandelela Olympian UM Fund, which is aimed at taking care of the welfare of undergraduates who are Olympians and help the country produce highly-educated athletes.

Deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Bulgiba Awang Mahmud said it was their hope that the two new initiatives would help the country produce athletes who excel in both sports and studies.

"We want to attract more national athletes to further their education at UM," he said.

Awards were also presented to UM sports staff and students in the development of sports and recreational activities.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

French government says has buyer for ArcelorMittal site

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:05 PM PST

PARIS: The French government has found an industrialist willing to invest 400 million euros ($516.4 million) to renovate ArcelorMittal's Florange steelworks in northeast France, a minister said on Wednesday.

Raising pressure on the group to agree to a sale, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg told lawmakers the interested party was a private steel industry investor who wanted to inject money into the site with financial backing from the state.

Montebourg has been pushing hard for the Florange steelworks to be taken temporarily into state hands if Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal refuses to keep two threatened blast furnaces running.

"(The party) is ready to invest nearly 400 million euros to renovate this site," Montebourg told parliament during question time, without giving the potential investor's identity.

Montebourg, who spoke as metal workers protested outside the National Assembly, said the aim was for the operation to have zero cost to public finances and that government stakes in other companies could be used to finance a purchase of Florange.

He added that France was ready to move ahead with a temporary takeover of the site if no deal was reached. The government would compensate ArcelorMittal for the takeover and let a private industrialist run the steelworks while it looks for a permanent buyer to operate it.

Union officials later said Montebourg had told them the government was considering selling a 1 percent stake in energy group GDF Suez to finance a rescue of the steelworks, which has become emblematic of President Francois Hollande's struggle to stem a wave of industrial layoffs.

However, Montebourg later issued a statement saying that the sale of GDF shares was not under consideration. It said that he had told unions that a temporary nationalisation would have no net impact on the state finances if it were offset by the sale of state-held shares.

CFDT union official Jean-Marc Vecrin had earlier told reporters that the government had told union members that it expected it could raise 420 million euros from the sale of GDF shares. A second CFDT union official had also said the government was mulling the sale of GDF shares.

President Francois Hollande told journalists in Paris that talks were taking place with ArcelorMittal and potential buyers, a day after he pressed Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal to keep the furnaces running.

"He is waiting for Mr. Mittal to come up with a proposal other than the site's closure, or else the government intends to nationalise it temporarily," said Edouard Martin, a Florange union leader camping in front of France's finance ministry.

ArcelorMittal has so far said it wants to sell only the idled furnaces and not the entire site, a steelworks that employs some 600 people in the heart of what was once French steelmaking country near the German border.

The company has told France's Socialist government that it plans to shut the furnaces, which it says are no longer economically viable, unless a buyer willing to take them over can be identified by December 1.

Steel industry experts say it would be tough to find a buyer for the furnaces alone without the adjacent steel plant.

"Discussions are ongoing," a London-based spokesman for ArcelorMittal said when asked if the firm would be ready to sell the Florange steelworks. He would not elaborate.

Earlier, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the prospect of a temporary nationalisation of Florange was a special case and did not meant that further state takeovers for threatened factories were being prepared.

The government owns 36 percent of GDF Suez. One percent of the company's capital would be worth 408 million euros at Wednesday's share price of 16.92 euros. - Reuters

Fidelity pushes BNY Mellon for better foreign-exchange pricing

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:04 PM PST

BOSTON: Fidelity Investments is pushing BNY Mellon Corp and other custody banks for stricter pricing on certain foreign currency trades, the latest sign of how big investment managers are using the same tactics as public pension funds to cut expenses.

BNY had been taking advantage of customers like Fidelity and overcharging on so-called standing instruction FX trades, according to lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and others. Now customers are paying more attention, putting pressure on the bank's revenue.

Fidelity, the second-largest U.S. mutual fund company, has not filed a lawsuit of its own, but the firm is not waiting around for the litigation to wend its way through the courts, either.

The Boston-based firm is now requiring more data from BNY and others about the specific timing and pricing of any foreign-exchange trades that aren't directly negotiated, Fidelity spokesman Steve Austin said. And Fidelity has enhanced its forex cost analysis as it works to lower expenses for its mutual fund investors, Austin added.

In the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, BNY Mellon is battling the Justice Department, which is pursuing a $1 billion-plus civil fraud case against the bank. The bank argues in court filings its trade-pricing policies were permissible and did not violate any laws.

BNY Mellon spokesman Kevin Heine declined to comment on Fidelity, but said BNY foreign-exchange products continue to evolve in response to client demand and marketplace changes.

Large investors typically negotiated specific pricing only when trading large amounts of foreign currency at a time. But for most smaller transactions, say the conversion of a dividend payment received by a U.S. fund from a non-U.S. stockholding, investors relied on so-called standing instructions that gave the banks leeway in pricing.

Peter Weiler, head of global sales for Abel Noser Solutions, which analyzes the cost of foreign-exchange trades, said mutual fund boards, for example, are keen to know how their costs stack up against industry peers.

"Interest has really taken off in the last 12 months or so," Weiler said.

Fidelity ranked as one of BNY Mellon's largest standing instruction forex customers, according to the DOJ's lawsuit. The mutual fund giant lost more than $50 million on standing instruction trades with BNY Mellon from 2007 to 2010, according to DOJ filings.


Meanwhile, BNY Mellon's foreign-exchange business, once one of its most lucrative operations, is doing a fast fade. In the third quarter, BNY Mellon's total revenue for all types of foreign-exchange trading was $121 million, a year-over-year drop of 45 percent.

Before the flurry of lawsuits, revenue from foreign exchange and other trading activities accounted for as much as 12 percent of the bank's total fee revenue. It was about 6 percent in the third quarter, the bank said in financial statements.

BNY Mellon and other custody banks embroiled in litigation like State Street Corp also have been hit by a becalmed foreign-exchange market, where volatility is far below the levels seen in 2008 and 2009, reducing the volume of trading. And the banks are dealing with a wiser clientele, thanks to the many lawsuits that have exposed their big profit margins. As a result, customers are finding cheaper ways to trade, including on electronic platforms, which BNY and State Street provide.


Although Fidelity has not joined any of the foreign-exchange trading lawsuits, the Justice Department cited its losses as a key argument in recent legal briefs in the case against BNY Mellon.

That is because prosecutors are pursuing a novel use of a statute originally designed to protect financial institutions following the 1980s savings and loan crisis, attorneys said.

The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) was intended to protect federally insured deposits, so the DOJ's latest brief emphasizes BNY clients, including Fidelity, that have at least some banking activities.

The statute helps prosecutors because it provides a 10-year statute of limitations rather than a traditional five-year period. Under FIRREA, the government can recover civil penalties, up to $1 million for each violation or up to $5 million for a continuing violation.

"FIRREA is a very powerful statute. The Justice Department is broadly interpreting the statute, stretching it in ways not originally contemplated," said Adam Lurie, a partner in Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, who recently served as a DOJ white-collar crime prosecutor.

Lawyers for BNY Mellon, in legal papers and background discussions with journalists, say the government can't prove that the bank's alleged foreign-exchange fraud imperiled any financial institution's federally insured deposits.

BNY cited Franklin Templeton's $4.8 million alleged loss from standing instruction trades in 2010, for example. The loss was inconsequential because profits that year were $1.4 billion, BNY's lawyers wrote.

"Absent concrete allegations, it is simply implausible that a comparatively tiny loss, 0.33 percent of profits ... would have had an effect - let alone a sufficiently direct one - on Franklin Templeton's federally insured subsidiary," BNY Mellon lawyers said in recent court filings. - Reuters

Day of reckoning for Cameron and British press

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 05:59 PM PST

LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron faces a no-win dilemma on Thursday when a far-reaching inquiry into British newspapers delivers its verdict on how to curb the excesses of the country's notoriously aggressive press.

Cameron, who was embarrassed when details of his personal links to Rupert Murdoch and his media empire emerged at the inquiry, will have to decide whether to accept its findings, which risk dividing his coalition government and angering an already hostile press.

He will give his response to the Commons after the report is published at 1330 GMT, under scrutiny from the chamber's public gallery filled with high-profile figures who have campaigned for a clampdown on an industry they say ruins lives.

The inquiry was ordered by Cameron following public outrage at Murdoch's now defunct News of the World tabloid, whose journalists had hacked the phone messages of schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who was later found dead.

Exposing the cosy relationships between political leaders, police chiefs and press barons, the inquiry revealed the "dark arts" of journalists seeking ever more salacious stories in a bid to hold up dwindling circulation figures.

Huge attention will be focused on whether Lord Justice Brian Leveson, one of Britain's top judges, recommends a new body to regulate the press with powers enshrined in law, or merely says the existing system of self-regulation should be overhauled.

He could also criticise Cameron's government, including one of his most senior ministers, Jeremy Hunt, for close ties to Murdoch's News Corp and their handling of the company's aborted bid to take control of pay-TV group BSkyB in what would have been its largest acquisition.

The press, backed by some 80 members of parliament, has lobbied hard for Cameron to resist calls for legislation, arguing it would curb freedom of speech and mean newspapers requiring state approval for the first time since 1695.

However, a similar number of MPs, as well as academics and celebrities, favour statutory regulation while opinion polls suggest the public also agrees.

The issue has divided the cabinet and could put the prime minister at odds with the leader of the Lib Dems, the junior partners in the coalition government.

"The status quo is unacceptable and needs to change," Cameron told parliament on Wednesday. "This government set up Leveson because of unacceptable practices in parts of the media and because of a failed regulatory system."

Some media have speculated that Cameron will give the press one last chance to get its house in order even if Leveson backs a new law, although critics say there have been similar repeated warnings for half a century, all of which have been ignored.

Under the watchful eye of Leveson, celebrities - including Hollywood actor Hugh Grant, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, singer Charlotte Church, Dowler's parents and other unknown Britons who found themselves in the media spotlight, told the inquiry how they had been harassed, bullied, and traumatised by the press.

Four prime ministers including Cameron were also quizzed in great detail about their links to newspaper owners, especially Murdoch, who himself endured two days of grilling, during which he denied playing puppet-master to those running the country.

The inquiry heard intimate emails and text messages between Cameron and Murdoch's top lieutenant Rebekah Brooks, who goes on trial next year over the alleged phone hacking.

"A lot of these very difficult decisions are no-win situations politically but what the prime minister wants to do is to do the right thing, and that's the kind of decision that will stand the test of time," Hunt, a former Culture Secretary and now Health Secretary, told Sky News. - Reuters

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Sungai Selangor level rises above danger mark

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 07:09 AM PST

Published: Wednesday November 28, 2012 MYT 11:09:00 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The Drainage and Irrigation Department(DID) Wednesday cautioned people living near Sungai Selangor in Rantau Panjang, Kuala Selangor to be on the alert as the water level in the river has crossed the 7.31m danger level.

Meanwhile, the National Security Council portal reported that the number of flood victims staying at temporary flood relief centres remained at 18.

They are being housed at Surau Sungai Nilam, Sungai Selisek, Hulu Bernam, Hulu Selangor. - Bernama

Employee detained over sexual abuse allegations at boys' home

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:05 AM PST

Published: Wednesday November 28, 2012 MYT 10:04:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday November 28, 2012 MYT 10:05:11 PM

MALACCA: Police have arrested an employee of a welfare home for boys here to facilitate investigation in connection with allegations of sexual abuse.

Malacca CID chief ACP Raja Shahrom Raja Abdullah said the suspect, 31, was remanded for four days after turning himself in at the police headquarters here Tuesday.

"Police have opened investigation papers after reports were made by three students aged between 13- and 14 years staying at the shelter home," he said in a statement here Wednesday.

Once completed, the investigation papers would be referred to Bukit Aman and the deputy public prosecutor's Office for further action.

The case is being investigated under Section 377 E of the Penal Code E for stimulating children to commit extreme obscenity.

It was earlier reported that Welfare and Social Organisation Malaysia (Perbak) had urged police to investigate allegations of sexual abuse after three children were forced into obscene acts before an employee of the shelter home. - Bernama

Related Stories:
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NGO: More boys being sexually abused at orphanage

Kelantan to discuss hair salon issue with two Chinese associations

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 05:34 AM PST

Published: Wednesday November 28, 2012 MYT 8:57:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday November 28, 2012 MYT 9:34:15 PM

KOTA BARU: The Kelantan PAS government will discuss with two Chinese organisations Thursday to resolve summonses issued to a hairdressing salon for alleged breach of licensing conditions.

State local government, tourism and cultural affairs committee chairman Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (pic) said he was given mandate by the state executive council to resolve the issue.

Takiyuddin and state information development, science and technology committee chairman Datuk Mohd Fadzli Hassan will hold the discussion at Kompleks Kota Darulnaim here.

"The two Chinese organisations will be represented by chairman of Federation of Kelantan Chinese Associations, Oie Poh Choon and chairman of Kelantan Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Goh Tee Chew," he told reporters after the weekly state exco meeting chaired by Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat here Wednesday.

He was commenting on action by the Kota Baru Municipal Council (MPKB) in summoning a salon operator for using female workers to cut the hair of male customers although they were non-Muslims.

A salon operator was reportedly summoned more than 10 times by MPKB enforcement unit.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh had urged the Kelantan government to clarify why Islamic law was imposed on non-Muslims in the state.

The Bukit Gelugor MP stressed that non-Muslims in Kelantan summoned under Islamic law can challenge the case in court.

Takiyuddin reportedly said policies implemented by the state government were in line with provisions of the constitution and for the good of everyone. - Bernama

Related Stories:
Nik Aziz admits oversight' in gender policy on hair-cutting
MCA leaders slam DAP for failing to defend non-Muslim rights in Kelantan
Don't pay the summonses, salons told
Leading hairstylist slams Jurassic' rule
PAS supporters club wants Nik Aziz to help resolve problem
Kelantan refuses to budge from unisex hair salon ruling
Khairy: Gender-segregation regulation clear sign PAS not sensitive to non-Muslims
DAP worried hudud will cover non-Muslims

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Just the right voice

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 03:25 AM PST

Best known for her salty jokes, comedian Sarah Silverman talks about the sweet experience of voicing a little girl in Disney's latest animated feature.

WHEN you think "family-friendly animated film", the first name to come to mind would most likely not be Sarah Silverman. After all, if you're like most people, you would know of the 41-year-old American comedian and actress from her razor-sharp and often controversial stand-up comedy, or from her Comedy Central sitcom The Sarah Silverman Program.

You might also know her as the host for the 2007 MTV Movie Awards, where she bitingly lampooned celebrities like Paris Hilton.

And you might even remember her for that clip that became a sensation on YouTube, a spoof music video that she premiered on then-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel's show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, titled (ahem!) I'm ****ing Matt Damon.

None of which, you have to admit, scream "kid-friendly". So, when you hear that Silverman is voicing an adorable nine-year-old girl – named Vanellope von Schweetz, no less – in Disney's latest animated feature Wreck-It Ralph, you'd be forgiven for doing a double take.

"Well, I'm good at shock, right? So, there you go, it's shocking!" quips Silverman during a recent e-mail interview. "When Disney approached me with it, I was like, 'You want Sarah Silverman?'

"In a way, I understand (why it's surprising), but in another way, nobody is just one thing. I've found success with one side of myself, but I have done some kids' things before, like Yo Gabba Gabba (a Nick Jr television show).

Silverman says she adores entertainment targeted at children, pointing out that popular American children's TV host Mister Rogers is one of her personal heroes.

"And people forget that there was also a very dirty comedian named Eddie Murphy who found a home in children's media!" she adds. (Murphy is the voice of Donkey from the Shrek series of movies.)

This newest offering from the House of Mouse tells the story of Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), an arcade video game villain who longs to be more than just the "bad guy".

In his quest to be seen as a hero, Ralph travels between the various games in the arcade, and runs into Vanellope in Sugar Rush, a go-kart racing game set in a world made of candy.

Vanellope dreams of racing like the other girls in her game, but can't because she's a "glitch".

How Ralph and Vanellope, the unlikeliest of partners, work together to achieve both their dreams, makes up the story of Wreck-It Ralph.

Directed by Rich Moore, who is known for helming many episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama, Wreck-It Ralph is already gathering rave reviews for its delightful story and inventive visuals. The movie is a treat not just for animation fans, but also video game enthusiasts, paying homage to classic arcade games like the Mario series, Street Fighter and Pac-Man. Rounding up the eclectic voice cast are Jack McBrayer as Fix-It Felix Jr, the hero of Ralph's game, and Jane Lynch as Calhoun, a tough-as-nails sergeant from a first-person shooter game called Hero's Duty.

As someone who has had to overcome her fair share of personal challenges (she's open about her lifelong battle with clinical depression), Silverman says she can completely relate to the story of Wreck-It Ralph.

"I think Ralph and Vanellope so badly want to be heroes in their lives but are relegated to something else. What you learn in the movie is that the things that hold us back can in some ways be harnessed to be our greatest asset; it can be the thing that propels us or becomes our superpower.

"I grew up a bed-wetter, and had to go to sleep-away camp. It was a constant stream of humiliation. (But then), as a stand-up comedian, the idea of bombing in front of strangers was never daunting because I had this power of being a bit fearless, as nothing compared to what I'd experienced as a child," she says.

A huge Disney fan, Silverman was delighted to be asked by the studio to be a part of Wreck-It Ralph, and even more so after discovering how connected she felt to her character.

"Vanellope's this obnoxious, precocious, scrappy, tough kid, and like most tough kids, she's a scared little girl underneath. She's protecting something with that toughness. I think everybody can relate to that."

Getting into character, says Silverman, was "oddly easy".

"I felt like I had a handle on her right away. Finding the voice took only a minute. I knew she was spunky and I picture her having a permanent cold and being a scrappy kid."

She shares that it's "extra special" that Vanellope resembles her physically.

"As the sketches came in, I remember seeing her big, thick, black eyebrows and ponytail, and thinking, 'Aha, there she is!' I fell in love with her, but she was mirroring me. She was like my cartoon daughter!

"All four of us kind of resemble our characters a little bit; with Ralph you can see the loveable lug of John C. Reilly, and the sweet wide-eyedness of Jack McBrayer in Felix, and Jane Lynch looks exactly like (Calhoun)! It's so cool!"

Working with this "dream cast", she adds, was great.

"To do things together was such a joy because I love hanging out with them. I got to record with (Reilly) and it was so special, because we were just looking across at each other and really playing the scenes. We got to improvise and go off on crazy digressions.

"I think it provides a kind of special sauce and a subtle nuance between the characters that you don't necessarily see if we had done it alone in a booth," she explains.

And it is this relationship between Ralph and Vanellope that gives the story of Wreck-It Ralph its heart.

Says Silverman: "It's paternal, but it's love. We all, if we're lucky, grow up and find our own families with our friends and the people we connect with. They both live such solitary lives, but when they find each other, it's just so heartwarming."

Wreck-It Ralph opens in Malaysian cinemas today.

Middle Earth mania for Hobbit debut

Posted: 28 Nov 2012 02:21 AM PST

WELLINGTON - Huge crowds swarmed into central Wellington on Wednesday for the world premiere of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit", an event that has sparked Middle Earth mania in New Zealand.

Presenters on national radio greeted listeners in the fictional language elvish on Wednesday morning, while newspapers came with complimentary Hobbit posters, and sculptures of characters from the film dotted the capital.

Hundreds of fans, many in costume, staked out spots hoping for a glimpse of stars such as Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood and Martin Freeman treading a 500-metre (550-yard) red carpet leading to the Embassy Theatre.

"It's going to be magical," said Mia Ramsden, who travelled from Melbourne, Australia, for the premiere and camped overnight dressed as the elf queen Arwen to claim a prime position to view the stars.

Wellington has renamed itself "The Middle of Middle Earth" for the event and the New Zealand tourism industry has launched a major promotional push on the back of the movies, hoping to revive flagging international visitor numbers.

Jackson admitted he was nervous about the reception his three-part prequel to the blockbuster "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy would receive, saying he had "lost all objectivity" during a lengthy and gruelling shoot.

"Nothing's ever perfect and it never will be, it's a real mistake if you say we're stopping now because we've made the perfect film," he told Radio New Zealand. "You never have and you never will."

He added that he was making changes to the film until the last minute.

"I've got severe fatigue right now, but only because I've just finished the film," he told reporters. "There's been all sorts of obstacles."

The films, which were shot back-to-back in New Zealand with an estimated budget of US$500 million, depict Bilbo's quest to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.

Bringing the trilogy to the screen proved a saga in itself, taking more than six years since the project was first mooted in September 2006.

Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro was initially poised to direct, but quit in 2010 after years of delays due to legal wrangling between Hollywood studios over the rights to the book, forcing Jackson to take over.

When a green light to begin shooting was finally obtained, a union dispute threatened to move the production offshore - robbing it of its sweeping New Zealand backdrops - until the government intervened by changing labour laws.

Jackson was also struck down by ill health and last week there were allegations - strongly denied by producers - of animal cruelty and a US lawsuit filed by Tolkien's heirs over marketing rights.

Critics have also questioned if a three-part saga is necessary, given the original book is barely 300 pages long, suggesting box-office returns - US$2.9 billion for the "Rings" trilogy - may have trumped artistic considerations.

There were no such reservations from Tolkien fan Theresa Collins, who was confident Jackson could repeat the success of his first Tolkien epic, which won 17 Oscars to become one of the most successful franchises in movie history.

"I think it's going to be different, not as dark (as "Lord of the Rings")," she told AFP. "It will still have that fan base from Lord of the Rings and will probably build on that."

The first movie "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will be released globally in December.

The second, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", is due in December 2013 and the final chapter "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" follows in July 2014. - AFP

US author sues Tyler Perry over plot of 2012 film

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 08:06 PM PST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An American author sued the prolific filmmaker Tyler Perry in a federal court on Tuesday, accusing him of lifting the plot of his 2012 movie, Good Deeds, from her book.

Terri Donald, who also writes under the pseudonym TLO Red'ness, says Perry based the film on her 2007 book, Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit.

The lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia, says Donald sent a copy of her book to Perry's company before production on the movie began.

Donald is seeking US$225,000 in initial damages as well as an injunction requiring the company to add a credit for her book in the opening and closing credits. The lawsuit also calls for the company to provide an accounting of the movie's revenues.

The drama, which stars Perry as a wealthy businessman who meets a struggling single mother, earned approximately US$35 million at the box office after its February release.

Representatives for Perry and Lions Gate Entertainment, which released the film and is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Perry is best known for his portrayal in drag of the character Madea in several of his films.

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