Rabu, 5 Disember 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Software guru McAfee arrested in Guatemala for illegal entry

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 07:21 PM PST

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - U.S. software guru John McAfee, on the run from authorities in Belize seeking to question him in a murder probe, was arrested by Guatemalan police on Wednesday for illegally entering the country, that nation's interior minister said.

John McAfee, anti-virus software guru, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Guatemala City, December 5, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

John McAfee, anti-virus software guru, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Guatemala City, December 5, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

McAfee, who had been in hiding for three weeks, crossed into Guatemala with his girlfriend, Samantha, to evade authorities in Belize who wanted to question him as "a person of interest" about the killing of fellow American Gregory Faull.

"The (Guatemalan) police issued an arrest warrant for John McAfee and captured him for entering the country illegally," Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said. McAfee was taken to a residence belonging to the immigration department guarded by a policeman.

On Tuesday, McAfee said he would seek political asylum in Guatemala, which has been embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute with Belize. There is no extradition treaty between the two countries, and there is no international arrest warrant out for McAfee.

McAfee says he fears Belizean authorities would kill him if he returned to Belize for questioning. Belize's prime minister has denied the claim, calling the 67-year-old paranoid and "bonkers."

McAfee has been living in the tiny Central American nation for about four years.

He was one of Silicon Valley's first entrepreneurs to build an Internet fortune. The former Lockheed systems consultant started McAfee Associates in the late 1980s. McAfee currently has no relationship with the company, which has been sold to Intel Corp

Related Stories:
Guatemala government to seek expulsion of software guru McAfee

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Occupy Wall Street protester whose tweets were subpoenaed to plead guilty

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 06:29 PM PST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Occupy Wall Street protester who has waged a legal battle to keep his tweets from falling into prosecutors' hands will plead guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct on Friday, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

The case against Malcolm Harris, 23, one of hundreds arrested during a mass march across the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011, had drawn the attention of electronic privacy advocates who worry that it could limit the rights of Twitter users in the future.

Harris' attorney, Martin Stolar, said he has conferred with Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino and expects that Harris will be sentenced to time served when he pleads guilty.

The maximum penalty is 15 days in jail, though first-time offenders are rarely imprisoned.

The judge could not be reached for comment after regular business hours. A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office said prosecutors have not agreed to any plea deal.

Stolar said he did not need prosecutors' approval because Harris is willing to plead guilty to the offense with which he is charged.

The Brooklyn Bridge protest occurred at the height of the Occupy movement, which drew thousands of activists in New York and across the country angry at what they called an unfair economic system.

Prosecutors filed a subpoena on Twitter seeking months of Harris' tweets before and after the march, claiming they could undermine his defence that police appeared to lead protesters onto the bridge's roadway before arresting them for obstructing traffic. The tweets are no longer available online.

Both Harris and Twitter are challenging the subpoena in court. But Sciarrino rejected their arguments in separate rulings earlier this year.

Twitter handed over the tweets in September after Sciarrino threatened it with civil contempt and hefty fines.

Harris will also have the right to appeal the subpoena ruling once his criminal case is resolved, Stolar said.

By pleading guilty, Harris likely would ensure that his tweets remain out of view, rather than becoming public as trial evidence. Stolar said Harris had some concern that the tweets could implicate other Occupy defendants.

"This is a way to preserve his right to appeal (the Twitter issue), which is more significant than going to trial on disorderly conduct," Stolar said.

The case addresses a broader legal question that courts have rarely, if ever, tried to answer: whether a Twitter user can fight a law enforcement request for their tweets.

Sciarrino has said that only Twitter can mount a legal challenge, as it is the company, and not the user, that owns the content. That runs counter to Twitter's own stance, which holds that users have a proprietary interest in their own tweets.

Several privacy advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have filed an amicus brief in support of Twitter's appeal. The concern is that Sciarrino's holding could set a precedent putting the burden on social media companies to protect their users from criminal prosecution.

In ruling against Twitter in June, Sciarrino said there could be no expectation of privacy for users when they publicly post messages on the Internet.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Lisa Shumaker)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Philippines hopes for survivors as strongest typhoon kills 325

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 05:56 PM PST

NEW BATAAN, Philippines (Reuters) - Dozens of soldiers and rescue workers pulled out bodies from mud-drenched debris after the strongest typhoon this year killed at least 325 people in the southern Philippines, with hundreds still missing.

Hundreds of residents left homeless in Compostela Valley, the worst hit province decimated by flash flooding and destructive winds, were being evacuated by trucks to crowded shelters in town centres on Thursday.

Typhoon Bopha, with central winds of 115 kph (75 mph) and gusts of up to 145 kph (93 mph), was moving west-northwest of the central Philippines and was expected to be over the South China Sea on Friday.

Based on tallies from the national disaster agency, 325 people were killed and 379 were missing after Bopha triggered landslides and floods along the coast and in farming and mining towns inland in the southern Mindanao region.

The death toll could rise further, with local government officials reporting higher numbers of missing and dead.

About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, often causing death and destruction. Almost exactly a year ago, Typhoon Washi killed 1,500 people in Mindanao.

Arturo "Arthur" Uy, governor of Compostela Valley, said latest estimates show 200 died and almost 600 remained missing in his province. Official tally by the disaster agency show 184 died and 356 missing in Compostela Valley.

Uy said search and rescue operations were continuing, particularly in far-flung areas in New Bataan town, where a three-year old child was plucked from under a crumpled house on Wednesday, more than 24 hours after the typhoon hit land. The child's mother and a sibling are missing.

"I believe we can rescue more people," Uy said.

"This is the first time a typhoon with signal number 3 crossed our province. We evacuated people from riverbanks and shorelines. But the floods and strong winds battered not just the riverbanks but also places where residents were supposed to be safe."

Uy said a village hall, health centre and covered court in New Bataan, where residents took shelter ahead of the typhoon, were completely washed away by floods and mud.

Hundreds of thousands of people remained in shelters in more than a dozen provinces in the southern Philippines, as officials appealed for food, water and clothing.

Some residents in Compostela Valley started repairing their houses, while housewives washed mud-drenched clothes and used fallen trees for cooking in makeshift stoves outside homes.

(Additional reporting by Rosemarie Francisco and Manny Mogato)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Pumped up to pimp

Posted: 06 Dec 2012 05:39 AM PST

Have an old battered car that gets more mockery than mileage? Pimp My Ride is here to the rescue.

SOME people say that the car you drive defines who you are. Well, that is cool if you happen to be driving an Aston Martin, but snap out of it people. Most "ordinary" folks drive ordinary cars and their primary use is to get from point A to point B – come rain, shine and the infamous Malaysian traffic jam.

However, there are those who drive "special" cars – rusty, breakdown-prone, tin cans on four wheels which unfortunately get the driver a snigger, a whisper and a curious look or two when they stop at traffic lights. Oh, and these cars may also be hazardous to their drivers as well as other road users out there.

Cue Pimp My Ride Malaysia, the saviour of all dying vehicles.

Based on the hit original MTV series of the same name (well, except the "Malaysia" bit), Pimp My Ride Malaysia is hosted by MTV VJ Rich and local rapper Altimet. The show is set to rescue all vehicles that are nearing their "retirement" age and breathe new life into them.

"I had been in cars that were as bad (as the ones that were brought in) and I even owned a car that had a leak, so I can understand the situation. (People) do want nice cars ,but at a certain point in time, they just can't get a better car," said Altimet in an interview last month.

"It's great to have a Malaysian version of this programme and Pimp My Ride is definitely one of my favourite MTV shows. Co-hosting with VJ Rich is such an honour and getting actively involved in the show is icing on the cake for me."

He added that looking at the old and beaten up cars selected for a makeover definitely brought back some fond memories of his first car.

"My first car was a Toyota Corolla. I bought it for RM7,500 in cash, 'cause you know how rappers do it right? They buy everything in cash!

"I gave him (the dealer) a wad of bills and he gave me the key to the car," said Altimet.

That got Rich talking about his first car as well, a 1985 Ford Bronco, but mind you, it's not like the "cool, white" one that former American football player OJ Simpson drove during his infamous police chase in 1994.

"It was kind of boxy and it just swallowed petrol. I had to drive it to high school 35 to 40 minutes on the highway, and it didn't want to go on the highway. It made a really loud noise when you stepped on the pedal, and not in the 'acceleration' kind of way ... but it sounded more like it was 'ugh' (dying)," said the American-born Filipino, VJ Rich with a laugh.

"It's like a domino effect. When one thing goes wrong, everything else can go wrong, too. When you let one thing go, it just gets worse and before you know it, it takes over the whole car," he added.

Because the hosts know what it feels like to be stuck with a beaten up car, they are really excited to be part of a show that helps transform these damaged vehicles.

For the next three months, viewers will get to follow Altimet and Rich as they spend time at automotive workshops in the Klang Valley, helping car owners to pimp out their cars.

From custom rims and paint work, to body kits and lowered suspensions, to plush interiors and the latest in lighting, audio and video accessories, six lucky car owners will get their cars tricked out.

"It's fun working on this gig. We come in and there's something new everyday," said Rich.

In last week's Pimp My Ride Malaysia premiere, the audience got to see Mohamad Zariq Mohd Zaki, a 20-year-old student from Kuantan, Pahang who entrusted his hand-me-down car to the crew.

"The crew members and I took turns to drive it down to Kuala Lumpur from Kuantan. It was quite an experience," shared Altimet.

Although the hosts are not heavily involved in the creative process, they do have a general idea of how the car would turn out in the end.

"We know the direction of the team with a vehicle, but in terms of how the car turns out, it's based on the person's interest and what the team can do with it. Of course when you give them a lot of time to work on the car, they can do more but one of the challenges here is that they have to work within a certain time frame," said Altimet.

In the next episode, the viewers will get to see a questionable-looking car which the rapper drove from Terengganu.

"The air conditioner didn't work, it smelled and because of a leak, the glove compartment was filled with water. It was a manual car and it didn't have a gear knob," Altimet recounted his experience with a laugh.

To see how the car gets all smart and shiny, check out Pimp My Ride Malaysia tonight at 8.30pm on MTV (Astro Channel 713).

Catch Pimp My Ride Malaysia repeats on Dec 8 at 1am and 10pm on MTV (Astro Channel 713).

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

SP Setia slips, investors await more details of RM1b project

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 05:48 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of property developer SP Setia Bhd slipped on Thursday as investors awaited more details about its proposed development of the British High Commission land here.

At 9.34am, it was down two sen to RM3.06. There were 151,500 shares done at prices ranging from RM3.06 to RM3.11.

The FBM KLCI was up 3.94 points to 1,617.73. Turnover was 82.47 million shares valued at RM80.81mil. There were 131 gainers, 79 losers and 158 counters unchanged.

SP Setia had successfully tendered for another the British High Commission land, measuring 3.1 acres situated along Jalan Ampang for RM295mil or RM2,200 per sq ft.

It would build investment-grade commercial and residential properties with a potential gross development value (GDV) of RM1bil.

Public Investment Research said SP Setia would have no problems financing the deal, given its balance sheet strength, that is net gearing of 0.3 times and the planned private placement that could raise RM1bil.

"We maintain our Outperform Call and RM4.40 TP (10% discount to RNAV of RM4.87). We still favor SP Setia for its sizable and well-located landbank, consistent performance and good earnings visibility," it said.

Malaysia blue chips edge higher, Astro slips

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 05:30 PM PST

Published: Thursday December 6, 2012 MYT 9:30:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI extended its gains in early trade on Thursday, supported by fund buying of consumer stocks and UMW but Astro fell in active trade after the recent run-up.

At 9.10am, the FBM KLCI was up 3.53 points to 1,617.32. Turnover was 30.94 million shares valued at RM22.29mil. There were 89 gainers, 54 losers and 110 counters unchanged.

Nestle was the top gainer, up 92 sen to RM63.90 with 2000 shares done while BAT added 22 sen to RM57.92.

Insurer Alllianz gained nine sen to RM7.17 while interest in PPB saw the share price climb eight sen to RM11.98 and UMW extended its gains, adding six sen to RM11.38.

Astro fell four sen to RM2.93 with 1.37 million shares done after it announced its results a 1.5 sen net dividend per share. CIMB Equities Research kept it an Outperform but lowered its target price from RM3.30 to RM3.28.

Top Glove fell the most, down eight sen to RM5.62, Petronas Dagangan and MISC slipped four sen each to RM23.10 and RM3.95 while FGV shed three sen to RM4.58.

CIMB Research keeps telco sector as Neutral, Axiata top pick

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 05:13 PM PST

Published: Thursday December 6, 2012 MYT 9:13:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Equities Research is keeping its Neutral outlook for the telco sector while Axiata remains its top pick.

On Wednesday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has allocated the 2600 MHz spectrum band to eight companies which will allow them to provide 4G services.

The eight are Celcom Axiata Bhd, DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd, Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd, Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd, REDtone Marketing Sdn Bhd, U Mobile Sdn Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd.

CIMB Research said the regulator has finally assigned the 2.6GHz spectrum, allocating Maxis and Celcom spectrum that gives them two possible partners to share spectrum with to achieve an optimal 2x20MHz block.

"DiGi could be locked out and may have to contend with sub-optimal allocation. LTE will not be a game changer in Malaysia, in our view, given the limited coverage.

"We think that Maxis will be the key beneficiary of LTE given its profile of higher-income users who are likely to be early adopters of LTE devices," it said.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Radwanska headlines Sydney draw

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 07:35 PM PST

SYDNEY - Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska will lead a field featuring seven of the top 10 women players for next month's Sydney International, organisers said on Thursday.

World number four Radwanska is the likely top seed but will face a fierce challenge from three Grand Slam champions, China's Li Na, the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova and Australia's Samantha Stosur.

Angelique Kerber, French Open finalist Sara Errani and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki are the other top 10 players in the draw.

The men's line-up features the French pair of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet.

The Sydney International takes place from January 6 to 12. - AFP

Tomic axed from Davis Cup over behaviour

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 04:28 PM PST

SYDNEY - Captain Pat Rafter will not consider bad boy Bernard Tomic for Australia's opening Davis Cup tie next year due to concerns over his on and off-court behaviour, a report said on Thursday.

Rafter took the decision two months before his side's opening match against Taiwan in February, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

Tomic, 20, has fallen foul of Tennis Australia several times over the past 18 months since reaching the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2011.

"Pat has made the decision early that for the first tie next year Bernard will not be selected," Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia's director of tennis, told the newspaper.

"As a team, we just felt that part of the commitment that we make to athletes and athletes make to the sport is they always put 100 percent commitment and effort in competing for their country."

Rafter had been particularly scathing of Tomic's performance in losing to Andy Roddick in the second round of this year's US Open, describing his final set capitulation as "disgraceful".

US tennis great John McEnroe said Tomic, currently ranked 52nd in the world, seemed to give up during his 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 loss to Roddick at Flushing Meadows.

Tomic also admitted that he had given only "85 percent" in his 6-4, 6-0 defeat to German Florian Mayer at the Shanghai Masters in October, saying the pressures of the tennis tour were taking their toll.

In the same month, he was questioned by police after a fight with a friend on Australia's Gold Coast.

Tomic was found guilty last month of failing to stop for police on the Gold Coast in his high-powered, bright orange sportscar and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

"We just felt that this decision should provide additional motivation every time (Tomic) walks on the court, to be a total professional in his approach to not only his preparation but competing in the match and post-match," Tiley said.

"And it would be no different if he was the number one player in Australia or the number 100 player, or a junior." - AFP

Ramy takes his passion to world championships

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 04:27 PM PST

DOHA - Ramy Ashour is hoping that his bid to win back the world title will be a bit of a morale booster during Egypt's ongoing political revolution.

The 25-year-old from Cairo has made visits to join protesters in Tahrir Square, and has been tweeting his support of them whilst preparing his bid to raise the trophy again in the world championships from December 7-14.

Ashour is as passionate about the state of his country as about proving that he is again the world's best player. If he achieves that, more people may listen to his words.

"I love my country but we are struggling at the moment," he said. "I feel for the less fortunate people, as the revolution was basically raised to help them. But now they are the ones who are suffering the most."

Despite this heartache - or perhaps because of it - Ashour has been in outstanding form this year, winning three Super Series tournaments, the most recent being the Hong Kong Open title on Sunday.

It has made the fifth-seeded Egyptian the unofficial favourite for the title, even though two Englishmen, world number one James Willstrop and World Open champion Nick Matthew, are the top two seeds.

Ashour beat both in Hong Kong last week, having also overcome Matthew while winning the US Open title in Philadelphia last month, and Willstrop in the El Gouna International final in Alexandria in April. That was Egypt's first tournament for 18 months since the revolution.

"This is how the true real moderate Egyptians unite and stand up for themselves," he tweeted on Wednessay, showing quotes and images from people before the Presidential palace.

Ashour could hardly be more ambitious about his profession.

"I am doing my best to get back to the top," said Ashour, who has just risen one place to fourth in the world rankings but can reach number one again if he wins the world title. "I am proud of my achievements, but more is yet to come."

Even Matthew acknowledges the revival of the Ashour threat, partly an outcome of avoiding injuries which have plagued him in the past.

"While Ramy doesn't have consistency within matches - he has more peaks and troughs in terms of winners and errors - overall his end product is getting more consistent by the day," the world champion said.

If the 32-year-old Matthew does triumph again, it will be for the third successive time, something no Englishman has ever achieved.

However both he and Ashour may be hindered by an unkind draw, which lands them in the same half, along with Gregory Gaultier, the former world number one from France, and with Amr Shabana, the four times former World Open champion from Egypt.

Ashour and Gaultier, whose form has improved since becoming a father three months ago, should meet in the quarter-finals, with Matthew likely to face Shabana, the enduring 33-year-old legend, at the same stage.

An easier route appears to have appeared in the top half for Willstrop, who could have a semi-final with Karim Darwish, the former world number one, or another Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy, the former world junior champion. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Romantic links

Posted: 06 Dec 2012 05:40 AM PST

It was a match made by their parents. He was a dopey London-based 30-year-old graduate student writing a thesis about the psychology of women. She was a flighty Hong Kong-based 18-year-old high school student. To please their folks, they got married but had no illusions of living happily ever after. However, Cupid's arrow found its way around them and the quirky pair decided to make the marriage work.

That was the premise of the 2002 Hong Kong romantic comedy My Wife Is 18.

Fast forward 10 years later and their marriage begins to see signs of trouble in the sequel My Sassy Hubby, again helmed by James Yuen. Meanwhile, Charlene Choi (of Hong Kong pop duo Twins) and Ekin Cheng reprise their roles of Yo-Yo Ma and Sub-Sam Cheung, respectively.

In the sequel, Yo-Yo is the co-owner of a fashion boutique, while Sub-Sam is a college professor teaching psychology. The couple find that their marriage has lost its zing and their differences have become too overwhelming – they both end up seeking solace in the arms of others.

Yo-Yo bumps into her wealthy childhood sweetheart Lam Shu Ho played by the dishy Izz Tsui, while Sub-Sam meets Beijing student-cum-fashion model Tong Yi, played by the delectable Zhang Xinyi. With such intense competition, can Cupid work his magic again?

Despite a packed schedule, both Cheng, 45, and Choi, 30, were in high spirits at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur last week to promote My Sassy Hubby.

"Of all our collaborations, Yo-Yo Ma and Sub-Sam Cheung are the two characters we feel for the most, as we had lots of chemistry going on between us," offered Choi, who has worked with Cheng in The Twins Effect (2003) and Storm Warriors (2009).

"In our other collaborations, we had numerous fight scenes and there was always lots of action going on around us. But in this movie, we can achieve a lot with just a wide shot, with the camera focused on the two of us," continued Cheng, who will next be seen in Ronny Yu's Saving General Yang playing the eldest son of the famed Yang Clan.

Choi recalled how Cheng had to take the blame for her mistakes during the filmming of My Wife Is 18. "I was just a newbie, and knew nothing about camera angles and framing. So, I had to depend on him. But, every time I went out of the frame, he was the one the director reprimanded. I sort of miss those days now.

"These days, filming has gotten much smoother but less fun as there wouldn't be as many amusing moments."

Starring in a romantic comedy like My Wife Is 18 was also something out of the ordinary for Cheng, who was accustomed to being cast as a triad leader or action hero or even supercool racer. "It was also a challenge for me. I asked the director whether he made a mistake. Then, when I saw that I was to be paired with her, I was even more apprehensive. Fortunately, it all worked out, despite my initial misgivings. So, 10 years later, here I am, back for more," Cheng noted.

My Sassy Hubby was filmed in Queensland, Australia, at Choi's suggestion and features up-and-coming actors like Joyce Cheng (who is Lydia Shum's daughter), Lo Hoi Pang and Siu Yam Yam.

My Sassy Hubby opens in local cinemas today.

First film on Steve Jobs to debut at Sundance

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 01:20 AM PST

LOS ANGELES: The first film on the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs since his death, with Ashton Kutcher in the title role, will debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival, organizers said.

The film "jOBS" directed by Joshua Michael Stern, known for the 2008 movie "Swing Vote," chronicles "the defining 30 years of Steve Jobs' life," according to a statement Monday from the Sundance Institute.

The film written by Matt Whiteley is described as "a candid, inspiring and personal portrait of the one who saw things differently."

The movie aims to tell the story of Jobs's life from wayward hippie to co-founder of Apple and revered creative entrepreneur.

The Facebook page for the film said "jOBS" "is the incredibly powerful and true story of the visionary who set out to change the world, and did."

The producers said on Twitter that "jOBS" will be the closing film at Sundance, which takes place January 17-27 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.

Joining Kutcher in the cast of "jOBS" are Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons and Matthew Modine.

Sony Pictures is also developing a movie about Jobs, based on the bestselling book by Walter Isaacson that was released after the Apple chief's death last year. It will be scripted by "Social Network" writer Aaron Sorkin.

Kutcher, 34, was best known for TV shows including "That 70s Show" and "Punk'd" before he replaced Sheen last May at "Two and A Half Men."

Jobs died October 5, 2011 at the age of 56 after a long battle with cancer. -AFP

'The Hobbit' gets mixed reviews from critics

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 08:40 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The long-awaited film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey got a mixed response in early reviews on Tuesday, with some critics deeming it dull and over-detailed, and others disappointed by its new take on 3D technology.

An Unexpected Journey, the first of three cinematic installments from Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Hobbit, took more than a decade to bring to fruition.

An Unexpected Journey, which will open around the world next week, is estimated to rake in a bumper US$137 million in its opening weekend in North America. Jackson turned his Lord Of The Rings trilogy from 2001-2003 into a US$3 billion box-office hit worldwide.

But with a running time of three hours and nine minutes, the first Hobbit movie was overly long for some critics' tastes, according to early reviews.

TheWrap.com's Leah Rozen said that although fans of the books will "doubtless love this movie," the film is "ambitiously epic and visually inventive, (but) it's neither as engrossing nor exhilarating as the first time around with Rings."

Variety's Peter DeBruge criticized Jackson for adding a "mythologically dense, computer-generated-heavy prologue" that was devised outside of Tolkien's original narrative.

"For the sake of spectacle, this unnecessary pre-title sequence recalls set pieces from the second and third Lord Of The Rings movies, as if to assure fans they can expect more of the same," DeBruge said.

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said the film makers "have created a purist's delight" by translating "every comma, period and semicolon in the first six chapters" of the book.


The film follows the epic fantastical journey of hobbit Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, as he travels with a band of dwarves to steal treasures from the dragon Smaug.

The film also stars Richard Armitage and Benedict Cumberbatch, while Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood reprised their Rings roles.

Reporter Neala Johnson of Australia's The Herald Sun said British actor Freeman, best known for his roles in TV shows The Office and Sherlock, is "the perfect Bilbo - equal parts wide-eyed wonder, fearful bumbling and dry humor."

ScreenCrush's Jordan Hoffman said Freeman played Bilbo "charmingly and effectively."

Jackson chose to shoot the 3D film using the 48 frames-per-second format as opposed to the normal technique of 24 frames per second.

But the New Zealand Herald reported on Monday that fans attending advance screenings claimed they felt nauseous and dizzy from the higher frame rate.

Rozen said the film's look was "so hyper-realistic that it is both jarring and, ironically, serves to make scenes look fake."

DeBruge said 3D effects caused "odd, eye-boggling moments," and the higher frame rate led to "an overblown, artificial quality in which the phoniness of the sets and costumes becomes obvious."

The Hobbit, produced by MGM and Time Warner Inc , will be released as three films, with the final installment arriving in July 2014.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

PM Najib to make several important announcements during Penang visit on Saturday

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 07:14 AM PST

GEORGE TOWN: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will make several important announcements, including on the 1Malaysia People's Housing programme (PR1MA), during his visit to Penang Saturday.

Penang Umno Liaison Committee chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman said Najib will make the announcements during the Promises Fulfilled Tour at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

He said more than 50,000 people were expected to attend the programme themed "People's Housing" to be held at 10am.

Najib, who will be accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, will go on a walkabout at the Bayan Baru Market before launching the Tour, Zainal Abidin said Wednesday.

He added that Najib was later expected to join the Bayan Baru residents for lunch at the Umno office there.

He said Najib was also scheduled for a walkabout at the Tanjung Tokong area in the evening to survey the housing projects developed by Uda Holdings Bhd.

The various promises announced by the Barisan Nasional government for the people of Penang prior to this have been fulfilled, among them the widening of the Penang Bridge and Mengkuang Dam, despite the state being ruled by the DAP-PKR-PAS coalition, said Zainal Abidin.

"I'm confident that if the people of this state give Barisan Nasional the mandate to rule Penang at the coming general election, definitely much more will be provided for them," he said.

Meanwhile, Tanjung Tokong Federal Village Security and Development Committee chairman Idris Bakar said Najib's presence in the area will recall the nostalgic moment when Najib's father, former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, visited the area in 1972.

He said the residents in the area were excited to meet the Prime Minister and hoped his presence would bring about positive changes in social development and community harmony.

"This is the moment the Tanjung Tokong residents have been waiting for and as a native of this area, I warmly welcome his presence. In 1972, Datuk Seri Najib's father who was the Prime Minister at the time, came here and after 40 years, Najib is coming," he said. - Bernama

Postmen get five-day week at work from Jan 1

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 07:07 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 8,500 postmen nationwide will enjoy a five-working-day week from Jan 1 compared to six presently.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the postmen are part of 16,500 employees of Pos Malaysia Berhad (Pos Malaysia) who deserved to enjoy new working hours.

However, for postmen in Sabah and Sarawak, the new working hours would only be effective on Feb 1 as Pos Malaysia required more time to make the adjustment.

"For these two states (Sabah and Sarawak), Pos Malaysia will need four weeks more than peninsula to prepare for operation and administration and taking into account the geography," he told reporters after a 'Ramah Mesra' programme with representatives of Pos Malaysia Workers Union here Wednesday.

Also present were Deputy Minister of Information Communications and Culture Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf and chairman of Pos Malaysia Berhad Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil.

Rais said employees who had to work on weekends, especially in shopping malls, could claim for reasonable overtime.

"The adjustment of working hours from six working days to five working days proves that the government transformation programme has the people at heart," he added.

Meanwhile, the president of Assistant Executive Union of Pos Malaysia Berhad Jamaluddin Kassim said the new working hours would allow Pos Malaysia employees more time with their family.

He said the fight to reduce the working hours began in 1992. - Bernama

120 Malaysians depart on Gaza solidarity mission

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 06:37 AM PST

Published: Wednesday December 5, 2012 MYT 10:33:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday December 5, 2012 MYT 10:37:24 PM

SEPANG: A total of 120 Malaysians left for Gaza, Palestine Wednesday on a solidarity mission as a sign of moral support to the Palestinians affected by the conflict between Israel and the Hamas.

The group comprising politicians, community leaders, athletes and members of non-governmental organisations departed from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport here.

Aman Palestin Bhd executive chairman Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman, who sent off the group at the airport, said a RM1.8mil fund would also be distributed to the affected victims.

"This is the largest Malaysian delegation to send emergency aid to our friends over there. This mission aims to show our solidarity and moral support to the victims of the Israeli attacks on Palestine," he told reporters.

Since Aman Palestin was formed in 2004, RM12mil has been sent to Palestine, including RM4mil this year, he said. - Bernama

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Metro Watch

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 04:05 AM PST


Syabas is advising users from Klang Valley to pay off outstanding water bills this month. Water supply will be cut for those who fail to pay the outstanding bills and users will be charged RM25 separately for termination and reconnection of water supply. For enquiries, call toll free line 1-800-885-252.


The National Blood Bank is holding blood donation drives today at the Economics and Management Faculty (9.30am-4pm) and the Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty foyer (9am-4.30pm), UPM, Serdang, Wisma MBSM, KL (10am-4pm), Asia Pacific University College of Technology Innovaion, KL (10am-4pm), Wisma Hamzah-Kwong Hing (8.30am-1pm), MCMC hall, Cyberjaya (9am-4pm), Masterskill University College of Health Sciences G8, Cheras (9am-4pm), Economy and Management Faculty foyer, UKM, Bangi (10am-4pm). For details, visit www.pdn.gov.my.


Soka Gakkai Malaysia Selangor Branch and Klang Artists Society will be co-organising "Art For Peace Exhibition 2012", until Dec 9 at SGM Selangor Culture Centre, Taman Klang Jaya. Opening hours are 8pm-9.30pm (until Dec 7), 10am-9.30pm (Dec 8) and 10am-3pm (Dec 9). Call 012-211 0160 (Lim) for prior appointment. For details, call 03-3324 3120 or e-mail sgmsgor@sgm.org.my.


The Peace Clinic is organising a free health talk at Heartworks, No. 14B-2 (2nd Floor), Jalan 25/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, on Dec 13 and 16 from 2pm to 4pm. The fi rst 20 people to register will get free stress and blood circulation assessment and water test (bring your own water). For details, email jaime.shun@the-peaceclinic.comor call 012-377 1191.


Prince Court Medical Centre will hold an Open Day Carnival on Dec 8 and 9 from 9am to 5pm. For details, visit www.princecourt.com or call 03-2160 0720.


Catch the marching band musical performances at Concourse Level, Sungei Wang Plaza on Dec 8, 9, 22, 23 and 25 For details, contact 03-2148 6109 or visit www.sungeiwang.com.


Ecoba Restaurant and Bar is organising a Big Fest: Raise Your Voice music fest from 6pm-3am (Dec 7) and (5pm-3am) Dec 8 to raise funds for the PT Foundation and to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS among youths. Minimum entrance fee is RM20. For details, call 03-7710 1118 (Kean).


Africa Asia Destitute Relief Foundation (ADRF) is having a gathering to talk on "Volunteerism and Humanitarianism" at 20, Jln 20/18, Paramount Garden, PJ on Dec 15 from 10.30 am to 1pm. Admission is free but registration required. For details, call 03-7865 3648 (Asya) 012-210 2404 (Dr Sharon).

MPAJ seeks to auction land to recover more than RM1mil in arrears

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 04:04 AM PST

THE Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) will be applying to auction a plot of 1.21ha land to recover more than RM1mil in arrears owed by the landowner.

MPAJ's Valuation and Property Management Department valuation officer Khairul Azmi Abd Rahman said since the council was established in 1992, no assessment tax was paid and the owner owed more than RM1mil in arrears and incurred penalties.

The land, located behind the Ampang LRT station, was estimated to be worth RM10mil.

"We thought the land did not belong to anyone," he said.

Khairul Azmi added that a few years ago, an individual claimed ownership after a development proposal was submitted to MPAJ.

"The person had a valid land grant. However, we were unable to contact the person again as no details were given. We were back to square one," he said, adding that the quit rent for the land was paid.

MPAJ's decision to pursue the matter at the High Court was made earlier this year and advertisements to reach out to the owner was expected to be published in newspapers soon.

"The landowner can still discuss the matter with us, up to 14 days from the publication of the ad, before we apply to court to auction the land," he said.

This landmark case could set a new procedure for MPAJ should such cases crop up in the future.

Meanwhile, Khairul Azmi said MPAJ takes the soft approach when it comes to collecting arrears from the public.

"In 2010, we went door-to-door to hand notices to individuals who owed taxes for five terms and more," he said.

Khairul Azmi said MPAJ managed to collect 60% out of 4,000 landed property and 30% of 10,000 strata property tax arrears in 2010.

One of the main challenges faced by the council when it came to tax collection was tracing property owners.

"Often we find that the contact details of the owners are incorrect and the mailing addresses are not the same as the property we are collecting taxes for. This is often the case for strata property owners," he said.

MPAJ had also successfully collected arrears in the form of assets when it comes to corporate owners.

"In the case of large businesses which were unable to pay taxes, we have initiated a contra system where we negotiate the transfer of assets to MPAJ. The property value will go to reducing the arrears," he said.

This was done twice in the past with MPAJ gaining two condominium units and six office units in Ampang that is currently being rented out while the negotiation process for a clubhouse is ongoing.

Khairul Azmi said the lackadaisical attitude of ratepayers was one of the main reasons for accumulated arrears.

"We are always open to discussions and open to win-win solutions on a case-by-case basis," he concluded.

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Korea's Youn Seok is in love with Malaysia

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 01:24 AM PST

He may not understand a word of Malay or have any inkling what goes into the making of our local foods, Korean K-pop star Youn Seok confessed he is in love with Malaysian food and Malay songs.

The 32-year-old celebrity, in town recently for the third time in four years, was promoting his latest album, The Birth – 5. His favourite Malaysian foods? Roti Canai, Nasi Lema  and sambal. And his favourite song is Kau Ilhamku by Man Bai.

"I'm definitely going to record the song because the melody is simply too beautiful to ignore. In fact I can hum the tune and sing the melody now," said Youn Seok who has picked up a few Malay words and plans to record a few Malay songs in his new album.

He said the three weeks he spent in the country was a great experience and says he felt at home here. "I love how warm the people here are. My fans here have been so welcoming, friendly and supportive. I often get a dozens of annyeong haseyo (hello) and saranghaeyo (I love you) where ever I go and even from men too. I hope to impress the Malaysians further," he said.

He adds, "The spicy food here is simply irresistible especially the chilies and the after taste. In fact, the spicier the food, the better it is. The food reminds me of Korean food in a way. There are quite similar in certain ways," said the singer who is also a popular composer and an actor.

His visit here was rather timely with the Korean craze for K-pop, Korean dramas, and of course the famous Gangnam Style, not to mention the hot Korean fashion many youngsters are into. The impact has been phenomenal and has made all of Korea proud, he said of the craze.

Of the Korean popularity, he said: "It's just very unique and fun and has something for everyone. Everyone will fancy a certain K-pop star, Korean fashion style, and certain Korean drama actors. Though I know this is just a phase, I think it's been a great development not just for the Korean economy but also for Korean talents. Our culture will be recognized globally.

"As Koreans, we feel very lucky to be given the chance to bring so much joy to people around the world. I believe that nothing lasts forever but I'm confident this Korean wave will run on strong for the next few decades. Just like any other trend, there will be a different music genre or different dance but the K-pop craze will never be forgotten," said Youn Seok who is the younger of two siblings.

As for Gangnam Style, popularized by Korean pop star Psy or Park Jae-Sang, Youn Seok shares the success with much pride. "Gangnam Style has been amazing and I'm so proud of its success. Firstly, the song and dance moves appeals to everyone of all ages and races and it puts people in a happy mood. Secondly, Psy has not just done the Koreans proud but also introduced what an Asian man is capable of. This is why I always feel that music is the best language to unite the world," said Youn Seok who is better known as a rock ballad singer back home.

According to him, rock ballads will never go out of style. "I don't think rock ballad is a seasonal genre. Singers like me might have to look into getting a new image or new sounds and new technology or instruments," explained the still single Youn Seok.

Ironically, before he plunged into show business, Youn Seok never gave any thoughts to becoming a singer. He aspired to be a composer but a chance meeting with veteran director Seo Se-Wan who visited the Northern Illinois University, where he studied vocal training changed his career path. It was Seo Se-Wan who Youn Seok said set him on the path of becoming the singer he is today. In 1994, Youn Seok decided to cast aside his degree course to instead cut his debut album, The Birth – 1.

Like most androgynous-looking Korean male celebrities, Youn Seok said he acquired a certain style too. "I know what people say about Korean male celebrities. But I'm normally dressed more GQ and smart when I'm working but outside the office, I dress differently. I prefer to dress for comfortably. I like being in casual t-shirt, jeans, beanie or sneakers. It works best for me," he said.

This soft-spoken singer, who has an amazing vocal range, said he has enjoys a rather a good rapport with his fans and the media. "The media have always projected me as a cool quiet character. When I'm not rushing because of work, I'm actually a rather talkative and playful person. But I have to admit that I probably feel more relaxed with the media when I'm out of Korea because I feel more at ease. However, I do have some close friends from the media and we often go out for casual dinner or drinks back home," he said.

As for fans, he interacts mainly on Facebook. Since he launched his Facebook fan page less than three months ago, almost 34,000 fans have signed up and the number grows by the minute. "I try to keep in touch with my fans. I try to get to know each one. I need their constant encouragement to keep me motivated with my work. Every time I read their comments about my songs, I'm reminded of their expectations and I just want to do better," said the singer who is working on materials for his new album which he explains will be interesting and fresh.

The album will include some cover version songs from Malaysia and other parts of South East Asia. "The songs will be from this side of the world. It would be what I've wanted to do all this while but never got a chance to do it. It will be something new and exciting," said Youn Seok who has been making waves in both Malaysia and Indonesia.

Christmas cheer with Rod Stewart

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 12:15 AM PST

If you've been out of the house lately you would have noticed that Christmas is just around the corner. Shopping malls are fully decorated for shutterbugs alike and shoppers can't get enough of the decorations and the abundance of candy in particularly every corner of the mall.

Playing in the background are Christmas carols from notable singes like Nat King Cole, Michael Buble and even Mickey Mouse. If you've caught yourself humming or sing along, you won't the the only one doing it this season.

Joining the array of singers with Christmas albums in the market, is Grammy Award-winning, two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Rod Stewart with his very first Christmas album, Merry Christmas, Baby.

The album, produced and arranged by David Foster, is filled with traditional Christmas songs which the raspy-voiced Stewart sings with guests that includes Michael Buble (Winter Wonderland), Mary J. Blige (We Three Kings) and Cee-Lo Green (Merry Christmas, Baby).

"I've always been tempted to do a Christmas album," says Stewart. "And now that I once again have young children, the timing couldn't be better. Additionally, Merry Christmas, Baby gave me a chance to reunite with David Foster."

Of the team-up, Foster says: "I'm thrilled that this is the first project for both of us on Verve Music Group."

Also in the market is Katherine Jenkins' My Christmas. The multi-award winning Welsh soprano released her Christmas album shortly after turning 30.

My Christmas consists of 12 tracks that would give you a different feel of Christmas this year. Some of the songs include Panis Angelicus, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, The Prayer and Ave Maria.

Both Merry Christmas, Baby and My Christmas are distributed by Universal Music and are currently on sale at all major record shops.

'The Message' deemed Greatest Hip Hop song ever

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 11:21 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The 1982 hit The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was named the greatest hip hop song of all time on Wednesday, in the first such list by Rolling Stone magazine to celebrate the young but influential music genre.

The Message, which tops a list of 50 influential hip hop songs, was the first track "to tell, with hip hop's rhythmic and vocal force, the truth about modern inner-city life in America," Rolling Stone said.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, a hip hop collective from the south Bronx in New York, was formed in 1978 and became one of the pioneers of the hip hop genre.

The full list spanned songs ranging from Sugarhill Gang's 1979 hit Rapper's Delight, which came in at No. 2, to Kanye West's 2004 hit Jesus Walks, which landed at No. 32.

"It's a list that would have been a lot harder to do ten or 15 years ago because hip hop is so young," Nathan Brackett, deputy managing editor of Rolling Stone, told Reuters.

"We've reached the point now where hip hop acts are getting into the (Rock and Roll) Hall Of Fame... it just felt like the right time to give this the real Rolling Stone treatment."

Rolling Stone's top 10 featured mostly hip hop veterans, such as Run-D.M.C.'s 1983 track Sucker M.C.'s, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's 1992 hit Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang, Public Enemy's 1990 song Fight The Power and Notorious B.I.G's 1994 hit Juicy.

Other influential artists in the top 50 songs included Beastie Boys, who came in at No. 19 with Paul Revere, and recordings by Jay-Z, Eminem, Missy Elliot, Outkast, Lauryn Hill, LL Cool J, Nas and the late rapper 2Pac.

The list of 50 songs was compiled by a 33-panel of members comprising Rolling Stone editors and hip hop experts. They included musician Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of The Roots, who Brackett described as "an incredible encyclopedia" of both old and new hip hop knowledge.

Brackett noted that some songs considered to be one-hit wonders, such as Audio Two's 1988 hit Top Billin," made the final selection.

"The references in those songs become the building blocks of all these other songs down the road ... they become touchstones, really part of the meat of hip hop songs going forward," Brackett said.

The full list will be released online at RollingStone.com and in the pop culture magazine on newsstands on 7 December. The issue will feature four different covers of Eminem, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac.

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