Rabu, 12 Disember 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Australia launches inquiry into royal prank call

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 08:09 PM PST

CANBERRA/LONDON (Reuters) - Australia's media regulator launched an investigation on Thursday into a prank call by a radio station to a London hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife as condemnation grew after the death of the nurse who took the call.

The body of nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found last Friday, days after she put the hoax call through to a colleague who disclosed details of the treatment being given to William's wife Kate, who is suffering from acute morning sickness.

The prank made headlines around the world, as did news that Saldanha, who was married with two children, had then apparently committed suicide.

British lawmaker Keith Vaz, who represents Saldanha's family, said he had written to Southern Cross Austereo, parent company of Sydney radio station 2Day FM, to express his dissatisfaction.

"There has been no written apology, no request for a meeting with the family and no attempt to travel to the United Kingdom to express contrition," Vaz wrote in a letter to Southern Cross chief executive Rhys Holleran that he released to the media.

Southern Cross, which has apologised for the stunt, said on Tuesday it would donate its advertising revenue until the end of the year to a fund for Saldanha's family, with a minimum contribution of A$500,000.

"I would be grateful if you could let me know how you arrived at this figure and why you think this adequately deals with this serious and important issue," Vaz wrote.

Southern Cross and its two presenters, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, have faced a barrage of criticism since Saldanha, 46, was found dead in staff accommodation near London's King Edward VII hospital.

Greig and Christian have both been suspended and their show has been scrapped. They appeared on Australian television to say the death had left them heartbroken.

In a brief statement on Thursday, broadcast media regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority said it had opened a formal inquiry to see if 2Day FM had breached its licence conditions and commercial radio codes of practice.

The radio codes state that a radio station must not broadcast words of an identifiable person unless they have given permission for the broadcast. The station has said it tried to contact the station several times before it broadcast the prank.

The authority can impose new licence conditions if it finds a breach or, in extreme cases, can suspend or cancel a broadcasting licence.

British newspapers have reported that Saldanha was found hanged and had left a note for her family. London police said they would not comment on the reports and that details of her death would be presented at an inquest opening on Thursday.

The hospital has said Saldanha had not been criticised or disciplined for taking the call, although Vaz said he wanted an inquiry to establish the facts.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Clinton to testify on Benghazi report on December 20

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 08:22 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify on December 20 before the House of Representatives and Senate foreign affairs committees on a report on the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, the committees said on Wednesday.

The attack on September 11 killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, and raised questions about the adequacy of security in far-flung posts.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech "Frontlines and Frontiers: Making Human Rights a Human Reality" at Dublin City University in Ireland December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech "Frontlines and Frontiers: Making Human Rights a Human Reality" at Dublin City University in Ireland December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Republicans have criticized Democratic President Barack Obama's administration for its flawed early public explanations of the attack.

They have also criticized shifting explanations of why talking points given to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice were changed to delete a reference to al Qaeda. Some Republicans have used that criticism to question Rice's suitability as a candidate to replace Clinton, if Obama were to nominate her.

Clinton has said she planned to retire from her post at State after Obama's first term.

An accountability review board convened by the State Department is expected to release a report on the Benghazi attack before Clinton testifies.

The board, led by veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering, is expected to consider whether enough attention was given to potential threats and how Washington responded to security requests from U.S. diplomats in Libya.

Democratic Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement: "We ask our diplomats and development personnel to operate in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. We owe it to them, and we owe it to the memory of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his three fellow Americans who lost their lives in Benghazi to get past the politics and focus on the substance of what happened and what it tells us about diplomatic security going forward."

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

For North Korea, next step is a nuclear test

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 08:12 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea rattled the world on Wednesday by putting a satellite into orbit using the kind of technology that appears to demonstrate it can develop a missile capable of hitting the United States.

A screen shows a rocket being launched from an onboard camera at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at North Korea's satellite control centre in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province, in this photo released by Kyodo December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Kyodo

A screen shows a rocket being launched from an onboard camera at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at North Korea's satellite control centre in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province, in this photo released by Kyodo December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Kyodo

Its next step will likely be a nuclear test, which would be the third conducted by the reclusive and unpredictable state. Its 2009 test came on May 25, a month after a rocket launch.

For the North and its absolute ruler Kim Jong-un, the costs of the rocket programme and its allied nuclear weapons efforts - estimated by South Korea's government at $2.8-$3.2 billion since 1998 - and the risk of additional U.N. or unilateral sanctions are simply not part of the calculation.

"North Korea will insist any sanctions are unjust, and if sanctions get toughened, the likelihood of North Korea carrying out a nuclear test is high," said Baek Seung-joo of the Korea Institute of Defense Analyses.

The United Nations Security Council is to discuss how to respond to the launch, which it says is a breach of sanctions imposed in 2006 and 2009 that banned the isolated and impoverished state from missile and nuclear developments in the wake of its two nuclear weapons tests.

The only surprise is that the Security Council appears to believe it can dissuade Pyongyang, now on its third hereditary ruler since its foundation in 1948, from further nuclear or rocket tests.

Even China, the North's only major diplomatic backer, has limited clout on a state whose policy of self reliance is backed up by an ideology that states: "No matter how precious peace is, we will never beg for peace. Peace lies at the end of the barrel of our gun".

As recently as August, North Korea showed it was well aware of how a second rocket launch this year, after a failed attempt in April, would be received in Washington.

"It is true that both satellite carrier rocket and (a) missile with warhead use similar technology," its Foreign Ministry said in an eight-page statement carried by state news agency KCNA on August 31.

"The U.S. saw our satellite carrier rocket as a long-range missile that would one day reach the U.S. because it regards the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea) as an enemy."


The end-game for the North is a formal peace treaty with Washington, diplomatic recognition and bundles of cash to help bolster its moribund economy.

"They might hope that the U.S. will finally face the unpleasant reality and will start negotiations aimed at slowing down or freezing, but not reversing, their nuclear and missile programmes," said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in Seoul.

"If such a deal is possible, mere cognition is not enough. The U.S. will have to pay, will have to provide generous 'aid' as a reward for North Koreans' willingness to slow down or stop for a while."

Recent commercially available satellite imagery shows that North Korea has rebuilt an old road leading to its nuclear test site in the mountainous in the northeast of the country. It has also shovelled away snow and dirt from one of the entrances to the test tunnel as recently as November.

At the same time as developing its nuclear weapons test site, the North has pushed ahead with what it says is a civil nuclear programme.

At the end of November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the construction of a light water reactor was moving ahead and that North Korea had largely completed work on the exterior of the main buildings.

North Korea says it needs nuclear power to provide electricity, but has also boasted of its nuclear deterrence capability and has traded nuclear technology with Syria, Libya and probably Pakistan, according to U.S. intelligence reports.

It terms its nuclear weapons programme a "treasured sword".

The missile and the nuclear tests both serve as a "shop window" for Pyongyang's technology and Kookmin's Lankov adds that the attractions for other states could rise if North Korea carries out a test using highly enriched uranium (HEU).

In its two nuclear tests so far, the North has used plutonium of which it has limited stocks which fall further with each test. However it sits on vast reserves of uranium minerals, which could give it a second path to a nuclear weapon.

"An HEU-based device will have a great political impact, since it will demonstrate that North Korean engineers know how to enrich uranium, and this knowledge is in high demand among aspiring nuclear states," Lankov said.

(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Venezuela's Chavez in delicate state after surgery

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 07:34 PM PST

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in stable but delicate condition after his latest cancer surgery, the government said on Wednesday in a sombre assessment that could indicate an end to his 14-year rule.

A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez kisses a poster of him after a mass for his health and recovery at the Venezuelan embassy in Panama City December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez kisses a poster of him after a mass for his health and recovery at the Venezuelan embassy in Panama City December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

"Having been through a complex and delicate surgery, he is now in an equally complex post-operation process," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on national television. "We trust in his strength."

In an earlier broadcast, Vice President Nicolas Maduro spoke of "difficult" times ahead, urging Venezuelans to pray for Chavez and to keep faith that he would come home soon from Cuba, where he underwent the surgery on Tuesday.

Chavez's downturn has opened gaping uncertainty about the future of his self-styled socialist revolution in a nation of 29 million people with the world's largest oil reserves.

A frequent critic of the United States, Chavez has spearheaded a resurgence of the left in Latin America, galvanized a global "anti-imperialist" alliance from Iran to Belarus and led a decade-long push by developing nations for greater control over natural resources.

A close ally, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, sought to put a more positive spin on the cancer operation, telling reporters in Quito that Chavez was doing all right.

"He is fine, even though the surgery was complex," Correa said, but he added that the future was not certain.

"If the gravity of his illness meant he could not continue to lead Venezuela, the revolutions must continue, in Venezuela, in Ecuador, in Argentina, in Bolivia."

At home, Chavez has won cult-like status among the poor with his charisma and oil-financed largesse from health clinics to free homes. But he has alienated business with frequent nationalizations and angered many Venezuelans by putting ideological crusades over basic services.

Maduro, whom Chavez has named as a preferred successor should he be incapacitated, offered no medical details on Wednesday but urged Venezuelans to stay hopeful.


Supporters have been holding prayer vigils, while opponents also sent Chavez best wishes for a successful recovery. Senior government ministers and military commanders attended a Mass to pray for Chavez's health, which was broadcast live on state TV.

"He is fighting for life," the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, told the congregation.

In a plaza near the centre of Caracas, neighbours came to write well wishes for Chavez on a white cloth. But government officials appeared to be cautiously preparing the president's supporters for the worst.

Villegas said in a statement that Venezuelans should view Chavez's situation like that of an ill relative and have faith that he will return.

"If he doesn't, our people should be ready to understand. It would be irresponsible to hide the delicate nature of the moment we are currently living," he wrote.

One government source said Chavez was in critical condition early on Wednesday, but since then his vital signs had improved.

State media ran hours of tributes to the president, and of rank-and-file supporters around the country gushing with admiration. "He is a second Jesus Christ," one woman beamed.

The stakes also are enormous for allies around Latin America and the Caribbean who rely on generous oil subsidies and other aid from Chavez. President Raul Castro's communist government in Cuba is particularly vulnerable because of its dependence on more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day from Venezuela.

Wall Street investors are also watching closely in the hope that Chavez's intransigent socialism will give way to a more market-friendly administration.

Venezuela's global bonds, which usually rise on bad news about Chavez's health, saw a muted reaction on Wednesday.

The operation was Chavez's fourth in Havana since mid-2011 for a recurring cancer in the pelvic region.

Opposition leaders have criticized the government for lack of transparency, pointing out that other Latin American leaders provided detailed reports of both diagnoses and treatments.

Chavez is due to start a new, six-year term on January 10 after his October re-election.


The Chavez health saga has eclipsed the buildup to regional elections on Sunday that will be an important test of political forces in Venezuela at such a pivotal moment.

Of most interest in the 23 state elections is opposition leader Henrique Capriles' bid to retain the Miranda governorship against a challenge from former Vice President Elias Jaua.

Polls have been mixed with one showing Capriles way ahead and another giving Jaua a 5 percentage point lead.

Capriles must win if he is to retain credibility and be the opposition's presidential candidate-in-waiting should Chavez's cancer force a new election. Even though it may be premature, many Venezuelans already are asking themselves what a Capriles versus Maduro presidential election would be like.

Capriles, who favours a Brazilian-style government promoting open markets with firm welfare safeguards, won 44 percent in the election, a record 6.5 million votes for the opposition.

Although past polls have shown Capriles more popular than all of Chavez's allies, that would not necessarily be the case against a Maduro candidacy imbued with Chavez's personal blessing and with the power of the Socialist Party behind him.

(Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Eyanir Chinea, Mario Naranjo, Efrain Otero and Daniel Wallis in Caracas, and Eduardo Garcia in Quito.; Editing by Kieran Murray and Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Sick Norman withdraws from Australian PGA

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:53 PM PST

COOLUM (Australia): Illness forced former world number one Greg Norman to withdraw from the Australian PGA Championship on Thursday after just two holes of his first round.

Norman, 57, made two bogeys on the resort course at Coolum on Queensland's Sunshine Coast before pulling out because of suspected food poisoning.

"He is quite ill, we understand," PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn said. "He is getting medical attention. We wish him a very speedy recovery this morning.

"One person described him as being as sick as a dog. I think Greg was trying to soldier through and clearly it wasn't possible."

The tournament is co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia and offers prize money of US$1,250,000. - AFP

Clijsters bids farewell with Venus Williams win

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:52 PM PST

ANTWERP (Belgium): Former world number one Kim Clijsters celebrated the end of her sparkling tennis career with a victory in an exhibition match against American rival Venus Williams on Wednesday.

The Belgian, who won 41 career singles titles, played her last official match at the US Open in August, but was keen to play for one last time in front of her home support.

With a crowd of 13,000 looking on, the 29-year-old beat Williams 6-3, 6-3.

"I had no regrets at stopping my career on August 29 at the US Open, and I still don't have any. Sorry to stop you," said Clijsters.

"There's not just tennis in my life. I like cooking, gardening, reading, decorating the house, putting up the Christmas tree and running."

Clijsters retired for the first time in 2007 to give birth to daughter Jada with no plans to return, feeling she had accomplished her Grand Slam dream with a 2005 US Open title.

But she returned in 2009 and with only two tune-up events captured the US Open title - becoming the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since 1980, then defended the crown in 2010 and added a 2011 Australian Open title just for good measure. - AFP

Watson a prime candidate for Ryder Cup job

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:50 PM PST

NEW YORK: Eight time major champion Tom Watson appears to be the frontrunner to be named the United States Ryder Cup captain on Thursday for the 2014 edition in Gleneagles, Scotland.

The PGA of America could be poised to pick the former captain and five-time British Open winner as their next skipper, Golf Digest reported on its website.

Watson told reporters at the Australian Open in Sydney last weekend that, if named, he would welcome the role, describing it as "an honour".

David Toms and Larry Nelson are also in the running for the job after the Americans suffered a shocking defeat to Europe two months ago in Chicago.

The PGA of America plans to announce the next Ryder Cup captain during a morning talk show Thursday on American broadcaster NBC Inc.

Nothing is official but if they choose Watson it would be a departure from their recent pattern of picking former major champions who still play on the PGA Tour.

Watson was captain when the Americans won their last Ryder Cup in Europe in 1993 at The Belfry.

Watson will be 65 by the next Ryder Cup which would make him the oldest skipper in American history. Watson has not played full-time on the Tour in 14 years. Sam Snead was 57 when he captained the US team in 1969.

Nelson is a three-time major championship winner and the 45-year-old Toms won the 2001 PGA Championship. - AFP

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The Star Online: Business

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EU okays pacts with Latin America

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:24 PM PST

BRUSSELS: European Union (EU) lawmakers have approved free trade accords with Colombia, Peru and six Central American nations, giving them permanent access to the EU's 500 million consumers and offering the EU's stagnant economy new markets for its cars and luxury goods.

Setting aside doubts about Colombia's human rights record, the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted to allow the deals to come into force next year, building on the eight countries' separate free trade agreements with the United States.

"At a time when our economy is struggling, it is vital that the EU forges stronger links with emerging economies," said Catherine Bearder, a British liberal lawmaker who voted for the pacts.

With global trade talks stalled, the EU is trying to sign free trade deals with fast-growing economies in Asia and Latin America, as well as with developed countries including Japan and the United States, to revive its economy.

For Latin America, the accord means most of the region's Pacific economies now have trade pacts with both the EU and the United States. That deepens a divide between these nations and Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela on the Atlantic, which have been more reluctant to drop barriers to trade.

The accords, signed in June, mark another step in Colombia and Peru's efforts to modernise their economies after decades of guerrilla and drug-related violence. They join Chile and Mexico as major Latin American economies seeing trade as their best chance to achieve sustained economic growth.

"This is our bet," Colombia's ambassador to the European Union, Rodrigo Rivera, said. "It's been a difficult debate at home, but we believe free trade is the way forward."

Peru and Colombia, whose trade ties with the EU were worth 21 billion euros in 2011, currently benefit from an arrangement under which the EU imposes low or zero tariffs on imports, but that is due to expire in 2013.

The European Commission, which negotiates trade deals for the EU's 27 member states, sees EU exporters to Colombia and Peru saving at least 250 million euros in duties a year within a decade. This agreement could boost Colombia's economic output by 1.3% and Peruvian output by 0.7% in the long term. The trade agreements also go beyond tariffs, to include intellectual property rights and liberalisation of services, benefiting sectors such as banking.

For the smaller, poorer economies of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, which also have trade deals with Washington, the accord should help in gradually moving away from banana and other fruit exports and building on successes such as Costa Rica's in making microchips.

"In Costa Rica and Panama, they don't export what they produce, instead they produce to export," said Jonathan Menkos, executive director of the Guatemala City-based Central American Institute of Fiscal Studies. - Reuters


PetroChina in LNG project

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:20 PM PST

SYDNEY: China's PetroChina Co Ltd has agreed to pay US$1.63bil for a minority stake in a controversial Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, as it steps up efforts to source more of its energy in foreign countries.

Mining and energy giant BHP Billiton said it would sell PetroChina its share of the Browse LNG project, estimated to cost US$30bil to build, after deeming it a "non-strategic" asset.

China's state-owned energy giants have been bidding aggressively for foreign oil and gas fields as Beijing looks to secure future energy supplies to meet rising demand. China also aims to double the share of gas in its overall energy mix to more than 8% by 2015, while coal will be cut to just over 60%.

The Browse stake marks Petrochina's first major acquisition this year after it set aside US$16bil for overseas investment as part of a plan to have half its production outside of China within eight years.

"PetroChina is under pressure to grow its overseas output," a source familiar with the company's strategy said. PetroChina could not be reached for immediate comment.

The Browse project has been plagued by controversy over its proposed location at James Price Point on the northwestern coast of Australia, which has been opposed by some project partners, environmentalists and aboriginal landowners.

The investment also comes against a backdrop of soaring costs for some US$170bil worth of LNG export projects under construction in Australia, owing to labour shortages, construction challenges and the strength of the Australian dollar. Chevron Corp last week revised up the cost of its Gorgon LNG export complex by US$15bil to US$52bil.

"For (PetroChina), obviously that particular country probably is not just worrying about the next couple of years. They've got a long-term requirement for energy," said David Lennox, a mining resources analyst for Fat Prophets in Sydney.

"You'll find a lot of Chinese companies are stepping into the operational phases of projects like this to learn the trade," he added. "Possibly they can take those skills back to what they are doing in their own offshore region."

The sale hinges on the remaining joint venture partners Woodside Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP, Japan's Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp choosing not to exercise rights to match the offer from PetroChina.

The Browse deal follows Canada's approval last week of China's biggest overseas energy acquisition, a US$15.1bil takeover by state-owned CNOOC of Canadian oil and gas producer Nexen.

BHP said it expected the deal to close in the first half of next year, pending regulatory approvals.

"We believe the sale is a positive given it was a minority stake in a non core asset," Citi resources analyst Clarke Wilkins said in a note. "BHP prefers to have operating stakes in its operations."

BHP's exit coincides with a major shift in the gas sector, with a dramatic rise in US production due to the development of shale deposits causing a global rethink on how markets will be served in coming years.

With excess gas at home, and prices far below global levels, companies are scrambling to export US gas to highpaying markets in Europe and Asia. Fifteen projects are in the early stages of approval to export, according to government records.

Still, US President Barack Obama may be reluctant to endorse exports, as it could push up prices for domestic users. - Reuters


Barry Callebaut to buy Petra Foods cocoa unit

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:18 PM PST

Thursday December 13, 2012

ZURICH: Barry Callebaut said it would buy the cocoa ingredients business of Singapore-based Petra Foods for US$950mil in cash, making the Swiss firm the world's largest processor of cocoa.

Barry Callebaut, which manufactures chocolate for Nestle and Hershey, is buying the operations in a bid to support further partnerships with big confectioners.

Barry Callebaut also said the deal would boost sales volumes in the fast growing emerging markets by 65%, taking its share of total sales volume to a third.

Petra Foods is the largest cocoa products supplier in Asia with sales of US$1.3bil in 2011.

Integrating the Petra Foods unit into Barry Callebaut would result in estimated one-off costs of 10 million to 15 million Swiss francs (US$11mil to US$16mil) in the first two years, the company said, with an additional one-off transaction cost of 10 million francs.

The proposed acquisition includes Petra's entire cocoa ingredients business, including seven factories in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and France as well as sales offices in Singapore, the Netherlands and the United States. Reuters


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The Star Online: Nation

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Customs Dept targets RM33bil collection in 2013

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 07:33 AM PST

Published: Wednesday December 12, 2012 MYT 11:32:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday December 12, 2012 MYT 11:33:45 PM

TAWAU: The Customs Department hopes to collect between RM33bil and RM34 billion next year, said its director-general Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad.

However, the actual break down, details and strategy to achieve the target would be discussed and finalised during a three-day meeting with all Customs directors here, he said Wednesday.

Khazali said the target for next year would be an increase from this year's collection, which reached RM30.47bil as of Tuesday.

The meeting, held once in four months, was officially opened by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. - Bernama

Police detain mechanic over child abuse video clip on Facebook

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 06:30 AM PST

KLANG: The police have detained a mechanic for allegedly abusing a three-year-old boy, following a video clip which went viral on Facebook on Tuesday.

North Klang police deputy chief Supt Jani Ahmad said the 32-year-old suspect, who is the step-father of the victim, was picked up at his house in Taman Mas, Kapar here about 8pm Tuesday.

He said the arrest followed a police report from an individual who knew the suspect featured in the video clip.

Jani said, during the raid, the suspect was with the victim.

"We have detained a man, while the child has been sent to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital here for treatment of injuries, believed to have been sustained from the abuse," he said Wednesday.

Elaborating, Jani said the police were unsure of the actual date of the incident, adding that the mother of the child could not be contacted.

Meanwhile, according to the police Facebook page, the man was being investigated under Section 31 (1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 and if convicted, can be fined not more than RM20,000 or jailed not more than 10 years, or both.

The latest entry on the site said the child was now being treated at the hospital and placed under the care of the state welfare department.

The eight minute, 33-second video clip shows a man in a blue shirt and a pair of jeans hurling and kicking the child who was crying incessantly. - Bernama

MB Khalid: Selangor willing to stall Langat 2 project for '100 years'

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 05:43 AM PST

Published: Wednesday December 12, 2012 MYT 9:43:00 PM

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor government will stall the construction of the Langat 2 water treatment plant for as long as needed to get the water restructuring plan started.

"I have written to the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister (Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui) and the Deputy Prime Minister numerous times to say that returning water assets to the state government is the only way forward," said Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, adding that he had yet to received a positive response on the issue.

"So, we will wait even up to 100 years for this," Khalid told reporters Wednesday after chairing the weekly executive council meeting.

Chin had said that the Langat 2 and the distribution system was suffering a delay of up to 40.55% - or about 29 months from the original schedule - due to the refusal of the Selangor government in giving the required approval.

According to the original schedule, he said the project should be 68.95% ready but as of October, the status of the project construction was only 28.40%.

The state government has been adamant about restructuring the water industry and has refused to give the green light for the construction of the multi-billion ringgit project.

Khalid and several water experts hired by the state government to speak about the issue have said the construction of the Langat 2 would cause an increase in water tariffs, which would deny the free water scheme to residents in Selangor.

Related Stories:
Pahang-S'gor raw water transfer project 66% ready, state assembly told
Peter Chin: Langat 2 delayed by 29 months due to non-cooperation from Selangor govt

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Jennifer Lawrence named 'Most Desirable Woman'

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 01:50 AM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jennifer Lawrence, you are the world's most desirable woman, according to an international poll released on Tuesday by the website AskMen.

The Hunger Games star rose to the top of the list from No. 47 last year on the heels of the box-office smash while buffing her credibility as a quirky, sex-mad young widow in the independent film Silver Linings Playbook, AskMen editor in chief James Bassil said.

"Overall, there's a sense that she's a little more authentic than other actors," Bassil said, adding that the public still knows too little about the 22-year-old actress (pic) to form a negative opinion.

"She's fresh because we haven't seen her all over the gossip pages for the past three or four years," Bassil said.

Lawrence bumped last year's winner, Sofia Vergara of Modern Family fame, down to No. 12, while reality star Kim Kardashian plummeted to No. 98.

The poll surveyed 2.4 million readers asking them to vote on which celebrity they would choose as a prospective partner, according to the website, which is a unit of News Corp. The top 99 are then compiled into the annual poll.

Rounding out the top five were actress Mila Kunis, model Kate Upton, R&B star Rihanna and Crazy, Stupid, Love actress Emma Stone.


Bassil said that lots of publicity often correlates to higher desirability ranking from men, but too many headlines can leave men looking elsewhere.

The most notable drop was socialite Kardashian, who fell 90 places from last year's No. 8 ranking.

"Kim Kardashian is petering off and basically dropping off the list at this point even as she's become more visible," Bassil said.

Youth also appears to have taken a backseat in men's tastes as this year's rankings feature a handful of women over 40.

"We've seen that increasingly over the past two or three years," Bassil said. "Like most things in life, attractiveness is extending into middle age ... Who knows? In 20 years we could see 60-year-olds on the list."

Those over the age of 40 on the list include U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, 48; comedienne Sarah Silverman, 42; actress Lucy Liu, 44; and British actress Rachel Weisz, 42.

New Yahoo! President and Chief Executive Marissa Mayer was the only business executive to make list at No. 59.

'Lincoln' gets record 13 critics choice nominations

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 01:43 AM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Steven Spielberg's Lincoln landed a record-breaking 13 nominations for the Critics Choice Movie Awards on Tuesday, ahead of musical Les Miserables and indie comedy Silver Linings Playbook.

Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, was nominated for best picture and best director, while actors Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field got individual nods as well as one for best acting ensemble.

It is the first time a film has landed 13 nominations for the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Black Swan, with 12 in 2011, held the previous record.

Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty, which has been winning accolades in early awards circles, picked up only five nominations from the group.

The Critics Choice Movie Awards are handed out by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), which represents more than 270 television, radio and online critics. Winners will be announced in the California beach city of Santa Monica on January 10.

The Critics Choice list come ahead of this week's Screen Actor's Guild and Golden Globe nominees, all of which are indicators for potential Oscar glory in February.

The BFCA gave Les Miserables, based on the hit stage musical, 11 nominations, including best actor for Hugh Jackman, best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway and best director for Tom Hooper.

David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, a quirky romance between a young widow and a bipolar man, picked up 10, including acting mentions for leads Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, best supporting actor for Robert DeNiro and best director.

Lawrence was the most nominated actor, winning four mentions overall for her roles in Silver Linings and in the action film The Hunger Games. Cooper led male nominees with three nods.

Other nominees included Ang Lee's Life Of Pi with nine and Iran hostage thriller Argo, cult drama The Master and James Bond movie Skyfall with seven each.

This year, the BFCA added five new categories in comedy and action to recognize achievements in genres sometimes overlooked in favor of drama. They included best actor/actress in comedy and in action, and best sci-fi/horror movie, in which Looper, The Cabin In The Woods and Prometheus landed nods.

"This has been a truly spectacular year in filmmaking and our voters had an embarrassment of riches to choose from," Joey Berlin, president of the BFCA, said in a statement.

Movie fans will also for the first time be given the opportunity to vote online for their favorite film franchise, including Harry Potter, Twilight, Batman, Lord Of The Rings, James Bond and Spider-Man.

Quentin Tarantino nominated for top Image Award

Posted: 11 Dec 2012 08:54 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director Quentin Tarantino's slavery era Western Django Unchained and mythological indie film Beasts Of The Southern Wild, were among the top film nominees on Tuesday for the annual NAACP Image Awards.

The NAACP also nominated Flight, starring Denzel Washington as an alcoholic airline pilot, African-American wartime pilots film Red Tails, and Tyler Perry's Good Deeds for a best movie Image Award, which honor achievements by people of color in film, television, music and literature

Washington and Perry were nominated best actor, along with Jaime Foxx for Django Unchained, while the NAACP also recognized the amateur stars of Beasts Of The Southern Wild - nine year-old Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry - in the acting categories.

In television, best comedy nods went to Glee, Modern Family, The Mindy Project, The Game and Soul Man. In the drama category, the NAACP picked Boardwalk Empire, Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, Treme, and True Blood.

Bruno Mars and Alicia Keys won multiple nominations in music categories, while late pop greats Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston were nominated respectively for the 25th anniversary edition of album Bad, and greatest hits compilation I Will Always Love You; The Best Of Whitney Houston.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founded in 1909, is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States.

The 44th Image Awards will be handed out a ceremony in Los Angeles on February 1.

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DID urges Federal Territory Land Office to investigate sand washing site

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 04:12 AM PST

THE Kuala Lumpur Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) has sent a letter to the Federal Territory Land Office, urging them to investigate a sand washing operation in Taman Seri Sentosa, Old Klang Road.

Kuala Lumpur DID director Abu Bakar Mohd Yusof, who visited the site recently, said they found that water was pumped from Klang River to wash sand in a site located behind a petrol kiosk in Jalan Seri Sentosa.

"Water is channelled back into the Klang River after the washing process.

"We have taken pictures and we will file a report to the Federal Territory Land Office.

"We have no authority to stop this activity but the Federal Territory Land Office has the power to do so.

"DID can only seize the water pump. We need cooperation from the Federal Territory Land Office,'' said Abu Bakar.

On Nov 26, StarMetro published an article "Eye on sandy washing" exposing the illegal sand washing area and that the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission was keeping close tabs on what was happening in the area.

Abu Bakar said earth and debris was brought from somewhere else.

"Water from the Klang River is used to wash the earth and debris where sand is collected and materials such as metal, concrete and waste are disposed of nearby," he said.

Matters come to a head over balloting session

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 04:10 AM PST

SERDANG MCA complaints bureau committee member Wong Jung Lik shaved his head in protest and is demanding for an apology from Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah within 24 hours.

He claimed that Ean Yong had tarnished his image by saying he (Wong) had caused a ruckus during the balloting session for hawker lots at the Seri Serdang Multipurpose Hall on Nov 29.

The night market hawkers were supposed to relocate from the old market area in Jalan Besar Seri Kembangan to Jalan Jinma 7, Pusat Perdagangan Seri Kembangan on Jan 7, 2013.

"After receiving complaints from hawkers that day, I went to see the problem for myself, as a member of the complaints bureau.

"He also said I had pretended to be a hawker to register for a booth and this claim has made people think I was trying to take advantage of the situation.

"This has brought me shame and stress," an emotional Wong said during a press conference yesterday.

He added: "As a Christian, I swear that what I said is the truth. I did not cause a disturbance at the hall.

"I am disappointed with Ean Yong's lies. It is a way for him to achieve his political motives."

He also claimed he was manhandled by two men during the balloting session.

"I was grabbed by the scruff of my neck and thrown out by men who looked like gangsters.

"Why were these people there?" he asked, adding that he had lodged a police report over the incident.

When contacted, Ean Yong said he has photos to prove that Wong had indeed caused a ruckus.

"Wong's claims are without basis, it is merely a political drama.

"The DAP members were there on Nov 29 to aid Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ)," he said.

Serdang MCA public complaints bureau chief Allan Liew Sin Kim, who was also at the press conference, said he will lead some traders to see the MPSJ president next week.

He urged MPSJ to have a dialogue session with the night market traders, give priority to traders who have been carrying out their business for more than 30 years, be more transparent during the balloting session, release the namelist of traders who have successfully obtained lots and postpone the relocation to after Chinese New Year as their income would be affected during the festive season.

"We have written letters since Dec 5 but have yet to receive a reply. We will deliver another memorandum by hand when we see him next week," he said.

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Difference between anal fissures and haemorrhoids

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 07:28 AM PST

Learn the difference between anal fissures and haemorrhoids.

I WAS in England recently and I had constipation because of the cold weather. This caused me to strain in the toilet. Suddenly, and very alarmingly, I felt something pop out. I believe it was a pile. I came home and went to a surgeon who told me I not only had piles, but also anal fissures. What is the difference?

Piles are also called haemorrhoids. They are masses or pieces of tissue inside your anal canal that contain blood vessels. The surrounding tissue is made up of supportive tissue, muscles and fibres.

If you are unsure about what constitutes your anal canal, it starts from the anus, which is the hole or opening outside that is present between your buttocks, and extends up to four centimetres all the way to the rectum.

Haemorrhoids are present in every single person. It's only when they are enlarged that they are considered abnormal.

An anal fissure is, as its name suggests, a tear occurring in your anus that can extend up to your anal canal. They are very common, and can happen at all ages, including in infants.

My goodness, this sounds painful. How will I know if I have anal fissures?

People with anal fissures experience pain, which becomes worse with bowel movement. You don't experience pain all the time, but certainly, when you sit on the toilet to pass motion, there will be pain, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain, especially when your stools are hard.

This pain may be brief, or it can last for a long time after your bowel movement. Some people who experience severe pain are almost afraid to go to the toilet.

Sometimes, this pain can also affect your urination by causing frequent urination, pain during urination, or even the inability to urinate.

Anal fissures can also cause bleeding in small amounts and anal itching. If infected, there can be a smelly discharge of pus.

Anal fissures can be divided into acute fissures and chronic fissures.

An acute fissure will look like a longitudinal tear to the surgeon. A chronic fissure is usually associated with skin tags at the edge of your anus, which are called sentinel piles, and thickened edges at the fissure.

How is this different from piles?

Haemorrhoids are divided into internal and external haemorrhoids. Internal haemorrhoids are usually painless because the nerve fibres that supply them belong to the nerve supply of the intestine, which cannot be felt.

An enlarged internal haemorrhoid may pull down the surrounding tissue and protrude from the anus.

Haemorrhoids can bleed, especially when hard stools injure the lining of the anal canal. Sometimes, they can also prolapse, meaning they protrude from your anus.

There is a grading system for haemorrhoids:

  • First degree: These bleed, but do not prolapse.
  • Second degree: These prolapse, usually after defecation, but retract on their own back into the anal canal.
  • Third degree: These prolapse, but cannot retract on their own. They must be pushed back with a finger, but will stay inside after being pushed back.
  • Fourth degree: These prolapse and cannot be pushed back inside.

External haemorrhoids are different though. They can be felt as bulges at your anus. They are easily prey to blood clots, which can make them very painful. Sometimes, they may heal and leave a tag of skin protruding from the anus.

What causes anal fissures?

They are caused by any sort of injury to the anus or anal canal. This usually comes from constipation, which gives rise to hard stools. Many people can remember the exact bowel movement that triggered the pain.

However, diarrhoea can also give rise to anal fissures, especially after repeated episodes.

Sometimes, the injury comes from the insertion of an instrument, like a thermometer, proctoscope, colonoscope or ultrasound probe, to examine the prostate. Needless to say, if you have anal sex, this can also be a cause.

Sometimes, a tear can also come after childbirth. Most anal fissures that result from injury occur in the midline, either in the front or the back (facing the spine).

Fissures that occur in any other position should be investigated for an underlying sinister cause like infections, tuberculosis, or even, anal cancer.

How do I get my anal fissures treated?

The majority of acute anal fissures heal. But chronic fissures don't heal that easily.

Treatment includes adding 'bulk' and 'fibre' to the stools. You should increase your liquid intake, avoid 'sharp' foods like popcorn, nuts etc, or take stool softeners.

You can take sitz baths after defecation as they are very relaxing and cleansing.

You may be given anaesthetic creams or steroids by the doctor to apply before defecation. If all else fails, you can opt for a simple surgery.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Three simple steps to better digestive health

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 07:27 AM PST

The pledge, Guard Your Gut, emphasises three simple steps to better digestive health.

MALAYSIANS nowadays are becoming increasingly aware of what they put into their mouths.

Whether it be food or drink, information on the nutrients and substances contained within edible items are more easily available now than they were decades ago.

However, while we may know what we are eating, are we equally aware of the digestive process that extracts and absorbs all the nutrients we require from what we consume?

Earlier in the year, Malaysia commemorated World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) at the Curve shopping mall in Selangor.

WDHD is an initiative of the Digestive Health Advisory Board (DHAB), which was established to address the increasing prevalence of digestive problems in the country.

DHAB is supported by the Vitagen Healthy Digestion Programme (VHDP), which aims to raise awareness of digestive health through various events.

Vitagen deputy general manager Michael Ong observes that the prevalence of digestive diseases are on the rise.

"Many people are unaware of the seriousness of digestive problems. It is usually seen as less life-threatening when compared to other diseases like heart disease.

"However, a healthy digestive system is particularly important to one's health.

"Therefore, we hope that by organising these roadshows and activities, the public will be more aware of the seriousness of digestive diseases, and be empowered to take better care of their digestive health," he says.

This year's WDHD features a nationwide pledge, aptly called "Guard Your Gut", which urges Malaysians to take care of their digestive health.

The pledge emphasises three simple steps to better digestive health: practising healthy dietary and eating habits, leading a healthy lifestyle, and going for regular health screenings.

The purpose of the pledge is to highlight the importance of healthy digestive habits and to encourage Malaysians to take up the challenge to lead a healthier lifestyle.

After taking the pledge, they can share it with their friends via Facebook and Twitter, and be eligible to participate in the I Love Vitagen Pix & Video contest to win attractive prizes.

More than 3,700 people have taken the pledge since its launch in May.

As part of the planned activities for WDHD, KSL City Mall, Johor Baru, hosted the third roadshow on Nov 30-Dec 4, while Terminal 1, Seremban, hosted the final roadshow of the year on Dec 7-9.

The roadshows featured various educational and fun games, as well as activities. The highlight of these activities was the Healthy Digestive Journey, an educational walk-through structure that contains information about digestive system disorders, and the various warning signs to look out for.

The display also incorporates an educational and informative game, which allowed both adults and children to test their knowledge on digestive health.

Members of the public were also able to measure their height, weight, body mass index and body fat percentage, as well as obtain healthy eating advice by nutritionists at the health screening area provided.

In addition, gastroenterology nurses were on hand to provide advice on digestive health problems.

Free copies of digestive health publications and InfoGuides (published by DHAB this year) were distributed at the roadshows.

For more information on how you can make the pledge to "Guard Your Gut", and to download e-versions of the InfoGuides, visit www.vitagen.com.my/digestivehealth or contact the secretariat (Lim Sue Hui/Chan Li Chuin) at 03-5632 3301/5637 3526 or 016-468 6324/605 6424.

What to do when your child is too sick to eat

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 07:26 AM PST

What happens when your child's illness makes feeding a near-impossible task? Paediatricians offer some tips.

WHEN your child is sick, he is usually less enthusiastic about eating. You know it is important your child continues to eat, so you offer small meals, cajole and persuade him to take a bite, and even tempt him with his favourite foods.

But what happens when your child simply will not eat, despite your best efforts? Paediatricians warn that there is a possibility that the child's persistent refusal to eat is a sign of a more serious problem, one that requires intervention and careful management.

Children with transient illnesses such as fever or cold generally show poor appetite that will improve as the child gets better. However, there are certain medical conditions that, if left unchecked without proper medical treatment, will severely affect the child's appetite.

Hand, foot and mouth disease, for instance, can cause blisters to form on the child's tongue and in his mouth. These blisters can pop and form painful ulcers, making eating an excruciating experience for the child.

Neurodevelopmental disorders and heart diseases are other examples of medical conditions that can give rise to persistent feeding difficulties.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Woon Teck Kim explains that feeding difficulties due to an organic disease can cause inadequate food intake, failure to gain weight or even weight loss. The child's recovery will be affected, and in severe cases, his health may further deteriorate.

Treating a child with this feeding difficulty requires the paediatrician to first identify the medical condition that is the cause of the problem. Usually, the child will recover his appetite once the medical condition is cured.

In situations where longer periods of treatment are needed, the paediatrician may prescribe alternative feeding methods, such as via a syringe. A balanced and complete liquid nutritional supplement may also be useful.

Tears for fears

Sometimes, the child becomes terrified of eating after recovering from a medical condition. They show signs of fear, such as crying or trembling, at the sight of certain foods or even eating utensils.

Dr Chai Pei Fan, a consultant paediatric gastroenterologist, explains that there are many possible triggers that can cause a child to link food intake to a bad experience.

"For example, a child may be unwell due to common illnesses, such as fever or some respiratory illnesses. He has reduced appetite as a result.

"Some anxious parents may attempt to force-feed the child into eating more, causing the child to feel stressed and anxious. The child, as a result, may develop a fear of feeding," he says.

Fear of feeding can also develop in children with a medical condition that requires them to be tube fed. Transitioning to solid food can be a stressful and even traumatic experience for them. For instance, many usually choke while trying to chew, and a particularly traumatic choking experience can cause a fear of feeding to develop.

Many parents have a hard time understanding the child's fears. Driven by desperation, they may force the child to eat, a move that only worsens the condition.

Treatment for fear of feeding varies depending on the complexity of the problem, but it often involves helping the parents adopt the right approach in encouraging the child to eat while desensitising the child's fears.

Paediatricians can help

In the past, diagnosing these feeding difficulties was akin to searching for a needle in a haystack.

Fortunately, the situation is changing. According to consultant paediatric gastroenterologist and hepatologist Professor Lee Way Seah, recent medical developments like the Identification and Management of Feeding Difficulties (IMFeDTM) toolkit allow paediatricians to conduct thorough investigations on the child's medical background and feeding history.

This makes the diagnosis process more accurate and less time-consuming.

Therefore, parents should not hesitate to consult a paediatrician if they have persistent problems in feeding their children.

The toolkit is created to provide a systematic diagnostic framework for paediatricians to identify and manage children with feeding difficulties.

It is the first of its kind, and developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts under an educational grant from Abbott Nutrition.

  This article is contributed by the IMFeDTM programme, spearheaded by the Malaysian Paediatric Association in collaboration with Abbott Nutrition Malaysia.

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