Ahad, 20 Januari 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

South Koreans face lonely deaths as Confucian traditions fade

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 08:57 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - When South Korean widow Yoon Sook-hee, 62, died after a bout of pneumonia in mid-January, she joined a growing number of old people in this Asian country who die alone and was cremated only thanks to the charity of people who never knew her.

Once a country where filial duty and a strong Confucian tradition saw parents revered, modern day South Korea, with a population of 50 million, has grown economically richer, but family ties have fragmented. Nowadays 1.2 million elderly South Koreans, just over 20 percent of the elderly population, live - and increasingly die - alone.

Yoon's former husband, whom she divorced 40 years ago, relinquished responsibility after being contacted by the hospital and told of her death. Her only son was unreachable as he had long broken off all contact with his parents.

"There are many elderly people who are incredibly depressed because they don't have a place to put their bodies after they die," said Kang Bong-hee, representative of a federation of funeral directors that manages funerals free of charge for those who are unable to afford their own.

"They collect what little money they have and they come and ask us what to do (with their bodies) after they die."

Kang was one of the volunteers who put together a makeshift funeral for Yoon, with most of the funds coming out of his own pocket.

South Korea is ageing at the fastest pace of all industrial nations, with the proportion of elderly rising to 11.8 percent of the population in 2012, up from 7.2 percent in 2002 and just 3.8 percent in 1980.

A report from the Welfare Ministry published in May last year predicted the ratio would grow to 15.7 percent in 2020 and to 24.3 percent in 2030, thanks to a declining birth-rate that has dropped from six per woman of childbearing age to just one.


While South Korea and Seoul were catapulted onto the global map by rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style" hit featuring the affluent suburb south of the Han River, the reality for older people is far less glamorous.

A toilet is the first thing you see when you step into 73-year-old Kong Kyung-soon's tiny apartment. It has barely two square meters of living space despite being adjacent to Gangnam.

Kong, who boils water in a rice cooker to save money, divorced more than 30 years ago after her husband was caught having a string of affairs. A love child, she says, was the final straw.

"If I get sick, it will just be the end for me," she said, adding she pays 360,000 won (214.2 pounds) a month for rent and living costs out of the roughly 500,000 won she gets from government welfare checks and public transportation subsidies.

She is one of 234,000 elderly South Koreans, or 19.7 percent of all those over 65 years old, living alone as of last year, who were living on government welfare. No data is available on what percent of those are female.

When asked why she didn't ask for help from her children, Kong said times have changed and she should care for herself.

"Whenever I tell my sister I want to die, she tells me I can after I make 500,000 won for my funeral expenses," said Kong, wiping tears from her eyes. Her sister, two years her senior, lives with her husband in another neighbourhood.

"I have prayed to the Lord that I will do good if he can spare me just 10,000 won."

The South Korean government tries to help, but in a nation where welfare spending came at second lowest among OECD countries in 2009, resources are limited.

It passed its first wide-ranging law on welfare for the elderly in 1981, focusing on the early detection and treatment of illnesses as well as the well-being of the elderly.

Services that send a caretaker to visit the home of elderly people living alone at least once a week started in 2007. These caretakers usually keep in contact with an average of 30 elderly citizens and are instructed to call them frequently.

Local governments in some areas take a more subtle approach by leaving small bottles of popular yogurt drinks at front doors every day. If unopened bottles start piling up, it's usually a bad sign.

Still, that doesn't address the main problem of the old, Kang said.

"From where I see it, the elderly just want someone to talk to. What's most important about elderly welfare is to prevent them from feeling lonely."

(Additional reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Elaine Lies)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Triple suicide bomb attack targets Afghan government building

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 08:03 PM PST

KABUL (Reuters) - A coordinated attack involving at least three suicide bombers and a powerful car bomb took aim at the headquarters of the Kabul traffic department on Monday, followed by a clash between at least one insurgent and security forces, police said.

The attack took place just days after six suicide bombers attacked the Afghan spy agency in Kabul, killing two.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday's attack.

"Today at 5 o'clock in the morning (1:30 a.m. British time) a number of mujahideen martyrs entered a government building close to an American training centre... Heavy fighting is ongoing," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a text message to media.

Police said it was not immediately clear if there were any casualties in the attack, which involved a second bombing, a tactic favoured by Islamist insurgents elsewhere but relatively rare in Afghanistan.

"About an hour after the initial attack (triple suicide bomb attack) a fourth man drove a car to the same compound and detonated another bomb," the head of the Kabul police criminal investigation department, Mohammad Zahir, told Reuters.

Violence across the country has been increasing over the last year, sparking concern over how the 350,000-strong Afghan security forces will be able to manage once foreign troops withdraw by 2014.

(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Obama starts second term in low-key White House ceremony

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 07:48 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama took the official oath for his second term on Sunday at the White House in a small, private ceremony that set a more subdued tone compared to the historic start of his presidency four years ago.

U.S. President Barack Obama takes the official oath of office from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as Obama is sworn in for his second term as the 44th President of the United States, at the White House in Washington January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

U.S. President Barack Obama takes the official oath of office from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as Obama is sworn in for his second term as the 44th President of the United States, at the White House in Washington January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

Gathered with his family in the Blue Room on the White House's ceremonial main floor, Obama put his hand on a family Bible and recited the 35-word oath that was read out loud by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.

"I did it," Obama said as he hugged his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia. "Thank you, sweetie," he told Michelle when she congratulated him.

"Good job, Dad," 11-year-old Sasha told her father. "You didn't mess up."

It was a low-key start to the first African-American U.S. president's second term, which is likely to be dominated - at least at the start - by budget fights with Republicans and attempts to reform gun control and immigration laws.

Obama, 51, will be sworn in publicly on Monday outside the West Front of the Capitol overlooking the National Mall in front of as many as 800,000 people, a much bigger ceremony replete with a major address and a parade.

Downtown Washington was all but locked down with heavy security. Many streets were closed and lined with barricades. Outside the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, an elaborate presidential viewing stand, encased in bullet-proof glass, was set up for Obama and other VIPs to watch the parade.

Sunday's ceremony, shown live on television, was needed because the U.S. Constitution mandates that the president take office on January 20. Planners opted to go with a private ceremony on the actual date and then hold the ceremonial inaugural activities the next day.

At a reception on Sunday night, Obama thanked supporters and joked that he did not want to give too much of a preview of his upcoming address.

"Tonight I'm going to be pretty brief because, you know, there are a limited amount of good lines," he said to laughter.

"What the inauguration reminds us of is the role we have as fellow citizens in promoting a common good," he continued, more seriously. "What we're celebrating is not the election or swearing-in of a president, what we're doing is celebrating each other and celebrating this incredible nation that we call home."

By Monday, Obama will have been sworn in four times, two for each term, putting him equal to Franklin Roosevelt, who won four terms. A second Obama swearing-in was deemed necessary in 2009 when Roberts flubbed the first one. On Sunday, Roberts read the oath carefully from a card and there were no mistakes.


Obama, who won a second four years on November 6 by defeating Republican Mitt Romney after a bitter campaign, opens round two facing many of the same problems that dogged his first term: persistently high unemployment, crushing government debt and a deep partisan divide over how to solve the issues.

This has taken some of the euphoria out of his second inauguration, with TV pundits debating how successful he will be and whether he can avoid policy over-reaching, which often afflicts two-term presidents.

"The newness has already worn off. Last time it was the inauguration for our first black president. Now, four years later it is a bit of old news," Mark Hoye, 52, of Sterling, Virginia said at an inauguration ball at a hotel in Washington.

If the president harboured any doubts himself, there was no sign of it as he attended a rousing service at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington where he and Michelle, who is sporting a new hair style featuring bangs, clapped and swayed to gospel music.

"Forward, forward," shouted Reverend Ronald Braxton to his congregation, echoing an Obama election campaign slogan.

Early on Sunday morning, Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, making her the first Hispanic judge to administer an oath of office for one of the nation's two highest offices.

Obama and Biden then joined forces to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in a remembrance of those killed in the line of duty.

Biden's family, about 120 guests and a few reporters witnessed the swearing-in ceremony in the main foyer of his Naval Observatory residence. Biden used a Bible with a Celtic cross on the cover that has been in his family since 1893.

The audience for Monday's ceremony is not expected to be as big as in 2009 when a record 1.8 million people crammed into the National Mall to witness the swearing-in. Turnout is projected at 600,000 to 800,000, with millions more watching on television.


Obama's Inauguration Day speech will set the tone for the start of his second term and gives him a chance to lay out his vision of where he would like to lead the country. He has been drafting the speech on yellow legal pads and working with his speech writers.

Senior Obama adviser David Plouffe told CNN the president would talk about how "our political system doesn't require us to resolve all of our disputes or settle all of our differences," but that it does encourage common ground.

"I think it's going to be a hopeful speech," Plouffe said.

Lately the president has been using a more combative tone against his Republican opponents, a possible foreshadowing of a more aggressive effort at trying to get his way.

After his tumultuous first term during which he achieved an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, his second term opens in the midst of a feud with congressional Republicans over taxes and spending.

His top policy goals for the first year, so far, include tightening gun regulations in response to the massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school a month ago. Obama is also seeking an overhaul of immigration laws and tax reform.

Abroad, he is facing a challenge from a resurgence of Islamist extremists in North Africa exemplified by the recent hostage-taking that turned deadly at an oil facility in Algeria. He is also winding down the war in Afghanistan and dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Obama will save specific policy proposals for his annual State of the Union speech before Congress on February 12.

In his inaugural address, Obama is expected to talk about the need for political compromise where possible, a reminder of the intense battles in his first term that led to paralysis and dysfunction in Washington.

"It'd be great if the inauguration were a unifying moment - though I honestly can't say it will be. But just maybe for a day they can bury the hatchet and celebrate an important day for American democracy," said Brian Hurley, 57, a local salesman.

With the public ceremony falling on the national holiday honouring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Obama will also have a chance to draw historic parallels. While taking the oath on Monday, he will place his left hand on two Bibles - one once owned by Abraham Lincoln and the other by King.

The Obamas will attend two official inaugural balls, far fewer than the number they visited in 2009.

But Obama supporters partied throughout the weekend at many other unofficial balls in Washington. Dancers swung their hips to traditional songs, and some partygoers sported tuxedos with Hawaiian-print cummerbunds as they ate suckling pig at a Hawaii State Society inaugural ball.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Alistair Bell and Christopher Wilson)

Related Stories:
Obama weighs in on his wife's hair, says he likes her bangs

Hurry up Mr Vice President, I've got a train to catch
No flubs, no re-dos for Obama and Roberts at swearing-in

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Catch actor Daniel Henney in 'Hawaii Five-O'

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 11:50 PM PST

Korean-American actor Daniel Henney checks in to Hawaii Five-O.

BEING part-Korean, we can't help but include Daniel Henney in the global hallyu wave phenomenon. Is he sick of a certain K-Pop hit that has got the world dancing like a horse since last year?

"(Laughs) No, I'm not sick of it! I was just at a party in – of all places – Michigan, recently. There was this kid dancing to Gangnam Style and it makes me proud. Plus, I know Psy personally and I think he deserves every bit of the recognition he's getting," said Henney during an exclusive phone interview from his home in Los Angeles, California.

With a combination of killer good looks (courtesy of his Korean-American mother and British-American father), charm and a wicked sense of humour, it's hard to imagine Henney as a regular guy, though he insists he is.

"I live generally in the United States and I stay away from it (the limelight) because I think it can do strange things to your mind. I think it's important to stick to your family and what you know. I'm just a guy from Michigan who loves to play basketball and catch fish," said the actor and model.

Henney, 33, first burst onto the scene with a supporting role in the hit Korean television series My Name Is Kim Sam-Soon (2005), a role which he mainly credits for his success.

"It's the best thing that ever happened to my career!" he said.

His success on the romantic comedy led him to starring roles in the film Seducing Mr Perfect (2006) and TV programme Spring Waltz (2006). He also starred in the film My Father (2007), and was honoured with a Best New Actor award at the Sixth Korean Film Awards. Henney's convincing portrayal of a man searching for his biological father earned him rave reviews.

The actor also had a stint in Hollywood playing Agent Zero in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), which starred Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber.

For now, fans can catch Henney alongside Alex 0'Laughin, fellow Korean-American actors Daniel Dae-Kim and Grace Park in the hit television series Hawaii Five-0. Henney guest stars as Michael Noshimura, the younger brother of Adam Noshimura (played by Ian Anthony Dale), the head of a Japanese crime syndicate in Hawaii.

Henney described the process of getting into the character as a "fun challenge".

"The guy in the series is very distant from who I am in real life. I didn't know how to play an ex-con or someone who has been in prison for 15 years. The minute they put the tattoos on me, I immediately jumped into character; it became so much more easier for me," he said with a laugh.

Henney's character has a different persona from Dale's Adam Noshimura. According to him, Michael is not fond of the changes that his brother is setting upon the family business.

"My character is someone who is very close to his (late) father. As part of the Yakuza family, my character doesn't want to hear about the way the business is changing. He wants to continue making money and doing things the old school way," Henney explained.

Henney is no stranger to American television. Previously, he had a starring role on the medical drama Three Rivers (2009) which incidently also starred Alex 0'Laughin from Hawaii Five-O. Henney was excited about being able to work with a former co-star again.

"When I learned that I was going to be on the show, he was the first to send me a text to welcome me to the set. It was great being back with Alex and I'm extremely happy to see him do so well in Hawaii Five-O."

Henney admitted that he gets nervous about the prospect of working at a new place (so he really is like a regular guy after all!).

"It's been a long time since I did a television show in the US. Therefore, it's always good to reconnect with people you've worked with before; you're less nervous and you'd have more things in common to talk about."

On the big screen, Henney can be seen alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action flick The Last Stand, which is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.

"My character in The Last Stand is basically just a right-hand man to the character Forest Whitaker plays, an FBI agent. He has a lot of expository dialogue and he explains the whole movie. He's a very straight-laced kind of guy." Fans can also look forward to the release of Shanghai Calling within the next few months.

He described the romantic comedy as "something fans would love". As for himself, it's a welcome break from action flicks.

"In a romantic comedy, you're doing a dialogue with – usually – a woman and it's a situation that you're used to in life. It's much more fun and the stakes are not that high. Plus, generally, I get to work with a beautiful woman and that's a great thing!" he shared, laughing.

Henney said working on action movie sets can get pretty mundane after a while.

"Trust me, it gets old when you're on set with like, 30 guys doing an action movie for two months."

n Hawaii Five-O airs tonight at 10pm on AXN/AXN HD (Astro Ch 701/721).

988’s CNY songs on iTunes Store

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 11:48 PM PST

988 takes its Chinese New Years songs to greater heights.

To ensure everyone in Malaysia – and beyond – enjoys a cheery Year of the Snake, 988's catchy Chinese New Year songs are now available on the iTunes Store.

The two songs, Ular La Guo Hao Nian (Ular La Have A Good Year) and Zou Xiang Qian (Move Forward), are available for download from the store for USD$0.99 (RM3) each. Always in tune with its listeners' evolving habits in mobile lifestyle, 988 is the first radio station in Malaysia to "digitalise" its music offerings on the iTunes Store.

With the digital releases, on top of the conventional CD and DVD releases distributed in collaboration with Eu Yan Sang, even more people will get to enjoy the special cheery tunes during Chinese New Year.

What better way to celebrate the festive occasion than to happily sing along to the catchy songs on your cellphone, tablet and laptop?

To purchase the songs, just head to https://itunes.apple.com/my/album/988-ular-la-2013-guo-hao-nian/id593536351.

What's on this week:

Street Cases:
Monday-Friday, 8am-9am

The announcement on annual bonus payment hardly fails to send the entire office buzzing with excitement.

So, how many months of bonus payment do you expect to get for all your hard work last year? Find out what others are getting for their year-end bonus and how yours fare against theirs.

The Feature:
Monday-Tuesday, 9am-10am

Marriage is an art. May it be the preparation before marriage or the sweet yet challenging life after nuptials. Both provide much headache to men and women alike. Still, the reward of a love-filled companionship is absolutely worth it all. So, if you're thinking of taking the plunge, tune in to learn more about how you could make your marriage last forever.

Street VIP:
Wednesday-Friday, 9am-10am

Based in Singapore, Xiaohan's lyrics are sought after by many top-selling artistes. Since breaking into the industry in 1998, Xiaohan has since established herself as a leading Mandopop lyricist and is a consistent nominee and winner in most major music award shows. So how much of her life story was often penned into her work? Or were they mostly fictional?

Music Gets Crazy:
Monday-Friday, 1pm-4pm

In Stars Guide this week: Everyone knows about Christine Fan Wei Qi's (aka Fan Fan) group of BFFs. But if she could only pick one to talk about in our "Ming Xing Hao Machi" (Stars' Best Buddy), who will she choose? Elsewhere, Hebe Tian Fu Zhen reveals some secrets.

Music VIP:
Monday-Friday, 2pm

Taiwanese singer Claire Guo Jing's music is like a girl's best friend. Her gentle and harmonious voice can often provide comfort and soothe our aching heart, just like how a best friend does. Find out in this candid interview if Guo portrays these same traits in real life.

For more information, log on to 988.com.my. 988 is owned and operated by The Star.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Kuznetsova upsets Wozniacki at Open

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 07:17 PM PST

MELBOURNE: Two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova upset Danish 10th seed and ex-world number one Caroline Wozniacki in a tense three-set battle to make the Australian Open last eight on Monday.

The experienced Russian won 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 and will meet either top seed Victoria Azarenka or Russian Elena Vesnina in the quarter-finals.

It was a courageous win by Kuznetsova, who at 75 is the lowest ranked player left in the tournament after an injury to her right knee forced her to miss a big chunk of 2012, spending two months on crutches.

The injury meant she missed all post-Wimbledon events last year including the US Open, which ended her streak of 40 straight Grand Slam appearances dating back to 2002 at Flushing Meadow.

But Kuznetsova, who won the 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open, said she was feeling fresh again and delighted to be in the quarter-finals.

"I'm really happy with the result because in the second set I got stuck a bit," she said. "But I came out fighting in the third, and it's great.

"After 10 years of travelling I was getting tired," she added of her time on tour. "But I'm feeling fresh again and very happy to be in the quarter-finals because I struggled last year."

It was Wozniacki struggling on Monday. Her preparations for Melbourne were hurt by going out early at both the Brisbane and Sydney International tournaments, and her lacklustre form continued in Melbourne.

It was Kuznetsova who knocked her out of Sydney in the second round and while both players held their opening serves, the Russian put the Dane under pressure with some aggressive groundstrokes in the third game.

She won a crucial advantage on the second break point to go 2-1 ahead and consolidated the break by holding serve.

Kuznetsova kept pressing and got a second break in the seventh game when Wozniacki smashed a forehand into the net. She served out for the set but against the run of play, Wozniacki broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set.

The Russian lost her momentum and the Dane pushed on to get another break and take the set in 33 minutes.

It set up a tense decider and the Russian came out refreshed, taking a break for 2-1 with Wozniacki's frustration clear as she slammed her racquet to the ground.

The Dane dug deep to immediately break back as Kuznetsova lashed a forehand wide. The set became a battle with each player desperately trying to outsmart the other.

Kutznetsova finally got the breakthrough when Wozniacki netted a forehand on her serve to hand the Russian a 5-4 lead and she served out for the match.-AFP

Red-hot Radwanska wary of Li threat

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 06:42 PM PST

MELBOURNE: Agnieszka Radwanska is the hottest player on the women's tour this year but is not underestimating the threat posed by Li Na as she bids for a place in the Australian Open semi-finals.

Poland's top player, seeded four at Melbourne Park, beat the Chinese number one 6-3, 6-4 at the lead-up Sydney International tournament, an event she went on to win.

It followed her victory in Auckland the previous week which coupled with her run to the last eight here gives her an enviable streak of 13 unbeaten matches without dropping a set, unmatched by anyone else so far.

Li fought hard in the Sydney semi-final, but errors at crucial times ultimately cost her dearly.

Radwanska, though, is wary of the Chinese star as she searches for her first Grand Slam title, with the Wuhan native also carrying solid momentum into their showdown on Tuesday.

"It's always tough against her," Radwanska said of the sixth seed, who made the Melbourne final in 2011 and was a semi-finalist in 2010. She fell in the fourth round last year.

"She's always playing very solid tennis. I think I really have to play aggressive against her, definitely serving good, really playing my hundred percent best tennis. Otherwise I'm not going to win.

"She's a very consistent player and moving very well."

Until now, Radwanska has proved far too powerful and consistent for her opponents this year, and comfortably dismantled the game of 13th seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round.

Neither Radwanska, who has never gone beyond the last eight at Melbourne in six previous tournaments, nor Li have the best serve on tour and the Pole feels their game will be a baseline slugfest. "Well, I think in our matches it's not about the power on the serve," she said.

"I think we both have other shots, other type of games that we are good at. That's why even against the players that's serving 200 kilometres per hour, we are still able to beat them. "Tennis is not about the serve only."

Li swept impressively into Tuesday's showdown by beating Germany's 18th seed Julia Goerges 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 as she targets her second Grand Slam title.

Li, who became Asia's first Grand Slam champion at the 2011 French Open, showed her pedigree by saving a first-set set point in a tense tie-breaker. After that she was untouchable.

The 30-year-old is happy to have made it so far after last year's heartbreak when she went out at the same hurdle to Belgian Kim Clijsters, the woman who beat her for the title in 2011.

"Really looking forward to the quarter-final," she said.

"For one and a half years, I always lose in the fourth round. So for me it was very important (to win the fourth round match)." -AFP

Gay wins Humana Challenge in playoff

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 05:48 PM PST

LA QUINTA, California:Brian Gay birdied the second hole of a three-man playoff Sunday to win the US PGA Tour's $5.6 million Humana Challenge.

Scott Stallings, who took a five-shot lead into the final round, hit his second shot at the par-five 18th into the water and didn't make the playoff that included Gay, Sweden's David Lingmerth and Charles Howell.

The trio finished 72 holes on 25-under 263. US tour rookie Lingmerth had 10 birdies in his 10-under 62 on the Palmer course, where the final round was played after the first three rounds were played over three courses in the southern California desert.

Gay had nine birdies in his nine-under 63, and Howell countered two bogeys with 10 birdies in his eight-under 64 on Sunday.

Gay had a birdie chance at the last which would have given him the outright lead, but missed his eight-footer.

Howell had an 88-foot eagle putt at 18 but three-putted while Lingmerth birdied the last hole of regulation.

All three were in the fairway off the tee at the first playoff hole, the 18th. Gay then found the greenside rough, Howell was on the green and Lingmerth was in the water and couldn't match the pars of the other two.

They headed to the par-four 10th for the second playoff hole. Gay found the fairway and hit his approach to five feet while Howell was in the right rough and from there into a bunker behind the green.

After Howell missed his par attempt, Gay made his birdie putt to claim the fourth US PGA Tour title of his career and his first in four years.

Stallings had five birdies but also three bogeys, his two-under effort giving him a 24-under total of 264. He was tied with James Hahn, who had two eagles in a 62 on another day of ideal scoring conditions.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Selling pressure picks up on bank stocks

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 06:09 PM PST

Published: Monday January 21, 2013 MYT 10:09:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's FBM KLCI extended its decline on Monday as selling pick up pace with banks stocks including Public Bank and Hong Leong Bank among the major decliners.

At 9.56am, the KLCI was down 12.17 points to 1,664.27. Turnover was 227.15 million shares done valued at RM163.56mil. There were 96 gainers, 296 losers and 199 counters unchanged.

Maybank KE Research said the KLCI fell 6.26 points to close at 1,676.44 last Friday. The local market fell on consistent selling of selective blue chips like Telekom Malaysia and Sime Darby.

"The weak support areas for the KLCI are in the 1,632 to 1,674 zone. The key resistance levels of 1,676 and 1,699 will see some heavy profit-taking activities," it said.

Public Bank fell 28 sen to RM15.86 and its foreign shares 20 sen down to RM15.96. Hong Leong Bank lost 18 sen to RM14.50.

Dividend stocks also fell, with BAT down 38 sen to RM59.52, Ducth Lady 34 sen to RM44.50 and Carlsberg 14 sen to RM12.20.

Foreigners snap up RM952m of Malaysian equities in week ended Jan 18

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 05:39 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign investors bought net RM952.20mil of Malaysian equities in the week ended Jan 18, 2013, making it the sixth week in the row, according to MIDF Equity Research.

It said on Monday that on a net basis, the RM952.20mil of Malaysian equities purchased by foreign investors in the open market was the highest in 27 weeks.

Foreign funds remained net buyers on every trading day of the week. The buying streak has now extended to 18 consecutive trading days. Heavy buying was recorded on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday when net buying exceeded RM200mil.

"For the year until last Friday, foreign investors have bought RM2.1bil of Malaysian equity. In 2012, they bought RM13.7b," said the research house.

MIDF Research said foreign volume was relatively unchanged. The rate of participation (average daily gross purchase and sale) was RM820mil, which was still moderate (RM750mil to RM1bil).

However, local investors continued to withdraw from the market and the rate of withdrawal accelerated again last week.

The research house said retailers were net sellers for the seventh consecutive week, pulling out RM179.2mil. Participation rate was relatively unchanged at RM605mil and they were sellers throughout the entire week.

As for local institutions, MIDF Research said they cleared aggressively again, off-loading net RM773.0mil last week, the highest since the second week of July 2012.

The research house said daily average participation rate surged to RM1.77bil, the highest since September 2012, and 13% higher than the weekly average in 2012. For 2013, local institutions have so far sold net RM1.67bil. In 2012, local institutions sold, on net aggregate, net RM9.54bil of shares in the open market.

KLCI starts week in the red, Sime, Public Bank down

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 05:26 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips started the week on a cautious note on Monday with the FBM KLCI in the red, on some mild selling of Sime Darby and Public Bank.

At 9.05am, the KLCI was down 4.08 points to 1,672.36. Turnover was 53.24 million shares valued at RM16.62mil. There were 78 gainers, 68 losers and 110 counters unchanged.

SJ Securities Research, in its technical outlook for the KLCI, said the short term trend has turn bearish or down as the KLCI was now closing below the five, 10 and 20-day SMA, and the key index is likely to slide lower towards the 30-day SMA support at 1,668, which is an important short term support as of now.

"A further break of this support level will see the FBM KLCI falling towards the critical medium term support zone of 1,652 to 1,647, and stronger buying support for key blue-chip stocks are expected at this level.

"Nonetheless, the medium and long term uptrend still remained intact at the moment. For the coming week, blue-chips are likely to continue their correction and consolidation, while the second and third liners are likely to continue their rotational play," said SJ Securities Research.

Dutch Lady fell the most, down 54 sen to RM44.30 with 900 shares done while BAT lost 10 sen to RM59.80 and Lysaght 36 sen to RM2.

Among the banks, BIMB fell 13 sen to RM2.90, Public Bank 12 sen lower at RM16.02 and Public Bank foriegn six sen to RM16.10 but HLFG added eight sen to RM14.60 and RHB Cap four sen to RM7.96. Insurer Allianz shed seven sen to Rm7.48.

Heavyweight Sime Darby lost five sen to RM9.34 and Genting Malaysia five sen to RM3.61.

Petronas Dagangan gained 26 sen to RM23.26, UMW 10 sen to RM12.70 and IJM eight sen to RM5.08.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Don’t count the cash

Posted: 19 Jan 2013 11:52 PM PST

THE next time you're in a bookstore, go to the fiction section and spend some time really looking at all the books on all the shelves there. Pay attention to the names of the authors, starting from the A's and right down the alphabet, as far as they go (are there any authors with surnames beginning with Z?). How many names do you recognise? I'm willing to bet that unfamiliar authors will outnumber familiar ones at least 10 to one.

So ... most of these names mean nothing to you? Well, they're the names of published authors.

Publishing houses took a gamble on these people and their books. The fiction these writers created made it all the way to the shelves of your bookstore. Yet, you might as well be reading names off the pages of a phone directory. Lillian Stewart Carl who? John Berger who?

Actually, John Berger won the Booker Prize in 1972 (for G) and Wikipedia tells me he's published 48 books. Yet I'd never heard of him until I read Ways Of Seeing, his collection of essays, for a course I'm taking.

However, never mind that John Berger, unlike J.K. Rowling, is not a household name. He, at least, is able to make a living from writing. There are not many authors who are able to write full-time. Many, despite being published, have "day jobs" that allow them to pay the bills, support their families and "indulge" their true passion: writing.

I get e-mail from aspiring authors who tell me that they plan to make a lot of money with the books they have yet to even start writing. They say, "Look at Suzanne Collins. Look at Jeff Kinney. Look at Stephanie Meyer. Look at J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman."

These authors are the minority – the ones whose talent and hard work, combined with good luck and good timing, have resulted in huge sales, movie deals, fame and fortune. The majority have to juggle writing books with something else that guarantees a steady income. Despite the struggle and despite the lousy money, they continue to write because they love it. They can't stop. They have to write. They need to write. They'd write even if they knew that no one would publish their books. If they were asked, "Why do you want to write books" their answers would not include "Don't know", "So cool what", "Easy money, right?" and "Better than multi-level marketing".

Unfortunately, those are the sorts of answers I get all the time from those who contact to me for advice about writing stories. They talk a lot about writing but don't actually write. Some don't even seem to read much. It seems to me that they just like the idea of being an author, and/or they really do expect to make a heap of cash.

Sadly, most authors will never get rich from writing. It's even less likely if you're published solely in Malaysia. Books don't sell tens of thousands of copies here, especially not locally-published books, but even if you sold 10,000 (highly unlikely) copies of your book and each book costs, say, RM30, your royalties (about 10% of the retail price) would only total RM30,000. It sounds like a lot, but spread over a year, this would be just RM2,500 a month – still not enough to live on, especially if you live in a city and have dependents, mortgages, loans and other financial commitments.

If you want to write children's books (or any kind of book), take money out of the equation. Don't count on it to enable you to feed yourself (and others). Write because you want to and need to write. Write because you have a story to tell. Write because the words come and have to be shared.

If you get published and do, indeed, end up bigger than Rowling, celebrate – but don't count on it.

> Daphne Lee reads to wonder and wander, be amazed and amused, horrified and heartened and inspired and comforted. She wishes more people will try it too. Send e-mails to the above address and check out her blog at daphne.blogs.com/books.

Author Imran Ahmad’s appearance

Posted: 19 Jan 2013 11:51 PM PST

Sunday January 20, 2013

The Perfect Gentleman author Imran Ahmad will not be appearing at Kinokuniya Bookstores, Suria KLCC today as stated in our announcement on Friday (Meet a gentleman). Instead, you can catch him there this Tuesday (Jan 22) at 6pm. Look out also for our interview with Imran in Star2 on Tuesday.

The dream is not over

Posted: 19 Jan 2013 11:47 PM PST

Aspiration to become a writer continues.

AS a child, I had always wanted to be a writer. I was mesmerised by stories, so at about 11, I started to write my own stories. And I thought I was pretty good at it.

My father chuckled every time he read my little tales, all based on the same protagonist – me. He thought they were fairy tales, but he never knew they came from my imaginations, only through which could I elude real-life hardships and the bitterness arising from them. My imaginations, fluffily cloud-like and soothing, came to haunt me at night when I lay in bed. Rather than fending them off, I immersed myself in them, conjuring up other mute characters waiting for me to enliven. I wanted to be a writer for as long as I'd lived and each and every night when I snuggled up in the bottom bunk, where, with a torchlight in hand, I read, I saw myself as one.

But in the derelict house we used to live in, my mother had endless chores to attend to than to encourage me to write. She thought I should learn how to cook instead. So, she insisted on teaching me. And I learned, imagining the spatula as my pen, stirring and whipping up colourful dishes as beautiful as any of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales.

I concede now, as I so often do, that my dream of becoming a writer has yet to come true, but I have become a darn good cook. I have not made it to becoming a writer, and the farthest I have gone is being a columnist, but I can make any dish you fancy thanks to my mother's strict culinary lessons.

So, tonight as I made the very first dish that she forced upon me to learn at the age of 12, I reminisced on the past. All those years of churning out stories secretly in bed, sneaking out to the library and coming home late to help out in the kitchen, and those lonely moments when rain came so unexpectedly that I did not have a book to read and resorted to making up stories, wafted before me like air carrying smells of those moments. Tonight, I thought of my passion for reading and writing, recalled my sequestered nook in my bunk bed and felt more deeply the serenity of words, each so seemingly miniscule but profound enough to strum the string of my soul. Where are all those scribbled notes, I now wonder.

Someone once said, "Thanks to weirdos like poets, writers, musicians, misfits, rapists, criminals, corrupted officials and actors, we see the world in a different way." I cannot agree more. I am one of those weirdos who see the world slightly differently. During a speech in a business course when I proposed that we motivate employees literarily, I raised many brows. The professor, having cleared his throat as if to refrain himself from humiliating a poor student who chose literature over pragmatism, asked what title I would propose for employees to read? "Anything by Jane Austen," I exclaimed. The male students chuckled uproariously, my best friend included.

Weirdos often try in vain to get others into their worlds. Just as now as an adult and a parent, my habit of using analogies to teach my children often is remarked as absurd. I call that creativity because it not only allows me to have fun quickly conjuring up an original proverb, but also enables my children to enjoy the thrill of random storytelling. I once told my son to be a friendly tree that grows branches wide and strong to allow birds of any kind and size to perch on. Not only did he understand that literally, he did as told and became one of the friendliest boys at school. The analogy stays with him, and I can imagine him telling his sister the same story when she attends school this year.

I am a weirdo who sees the curtains of my home as strings of sentences hung temporarily for me to weave together a story. I am also a weirdo who bought a handmade second-hand lamp from a flea market and imagined it to have shone a light for a writer attempting to write his story. But I am not yet a writer.

"What does you mum do, Jonn?" my son's friend asked, having come to our home for the first time for dinner and seen our bookshelves and noticed the couple of review copies just delivered by the postman.

"She writes, though I think she had wished to be a chef," my son replied mindlessly.

Dinner was hence served, and the friend thought I could have been an exceptional chef.

> Abby Wong wants to write about her mother.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Police: No ransom demand made for missing boy

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 06:30 AM PST

SUBANG JAYA: The case of missing six-year-old William Yau Zhen Zhong is still being classified as a Missing Persons Report' as no ransom has been demanded from his family to secure his release, said Subang Jaya police chief ACP Yahaya Ramli.

He said the police believed an individual might have met the boy who was reported missing in Putra Heights here on Wednesday, before hiding him.

"We have also received many calls from people with regards to the case. Three of the callers said they had spotted Zhen Zhong but investigations later revealed the information was untrue," Yahaya told reporters at the boy's home on Sunday.

Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil also visited the family on Sunday.

She told reporters that the 22,000 Wanita Barisan Nasional branches nationwide would assist by distributing Zhen Zhong's pictures. She added that the Wanita Umno Sayang Squad nationwide had also been deployed to find the boy.

Help find William Yau Zhen Zhong

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 05:45 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: Let's do our part to help find six-year-old William Yau Zhen Zhong, who has been missing since Wednesday (Jan 16). Print this poster and stick it up to help with the efforts to find the boy, who was last seen at Jalan Putra Mahkota 7/6c in Putra Heights.

Abang Johari: Sarawak to discuss oil royalty review

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 03:23 AM PST

KUCHING: The Sarawak government may propose a new petroleum royalty formula to the federal government following the latest discovery of rich deposits of crude oil and gas in Miri, said state housing minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg on Sunday.

He said the new formula might not involve the demand for an increase in the current five percent royalty received by Sarawak, but instead, for a certain percentage in share equity in any future discovery of rich deposits of crude oil and gas in the state.

"We are talking about a new approach which we believe the federal government leaders will also recognise because its going to be a win-win situation for both sides," he told reporters after officiating the new SK Rakyat school hall here, Sunday.

He said the state government already had a formula, which involved more benefits to Sarawak, but this could not be revealed at present as further discussions with the federal government was pending.

Elaborating further, Abang Johari said, the step taken by the state government in acquiring its stake in Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd, which is basically a federal port, also might be considered in the new petroleum royalty formula.

He also reminded the people not to be influenced by new polemics that because of the new discovery, therefore, there must be an increase of royalty up to 20 per cent from the current rate paid by federal government.

On Friday, Petronas announced the discovery of oil and gas via the Adong Kecil West-1 well in Block SK333, onshore Sarawak, located about 20 km northeast of Miri city and the first onshore oil and gas discovery made in Malaysia after 24 years. - Bernama

Related Stories:
Rich deposits of crude oil and gas discovered in Sarawak's inland areas

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Payback’s a witch

Posted: 20 Jan 2013 12:00 AM PST

If there's someone weird in your neighbourhood who rides on a broom and kidnaps children out of the blue, who do you call? Hansel and Gretel, of course.

WHEN Jeremy Renner was given a script about fairytale siblings Hansel and Gretel as travelling witch-hunters, 15 years after their gingerbread house encounter, he was immediately intrigued. It also helped that he had been doing many heavy dramas before the script landed at his door, so he was ready to do something that was fun.

Director/writer Tommy Wirkola conceptualised Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters as an action-packed, somewhat dark but humorous film. In this extension of the famous fairytale, Hansel has developed a coping mechanism for the trauma of being captured by a witch as a child: a dry wit and unparalleled weapon skills which serve him well on his hunt for other witches.

In the production notes provided by United International Pictures Malaysia, Renner shares: "When I read the script, my first thought was 'I can't believe this hasn't been done yet.' It's such a great idea with so much potential. I loved that what Tommy wrote left so much room for character and I thought it would be exciting to explore an amazing brother and sister bond inside a fantastical world."

The shoot required both Renner and his co-star, Gemma Arterton (as Gretel), to be in great shape. While Arterton had never really tackled action roles on the big screen before and had to really brush up on the physicality part of the role, Renner had just come off shooting Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and was in good enough shape. But, as it turned out, there was another form of fighting discipline he had to learn for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Renner says: "I had to get beat up pretty good (laughs). It was kind of like taking a gymnastics class – tumbling, diving, rolling and just getting used to your body flopping around and hitting the ground safely, that sort of thing. So, I wasn't that concerned with the physical stuff. I actually spent more of my time with Gemma trying to ground the movie in our brother-sister relationship."

In the process of flopping and rolling, Renner confesses he did get "banged up" here and there. But the 42-year-old Californian dismisses it by saying: "If you don't get a few bumps and bruises, you're not doing your job."

Norwegian Wirkola had held on to the horrors of the Hansel and Gretel story since he heard it as a child, and had wondered what would have happened to them when they grew up. That they'd be witch hunters seemed like a natural progression. Wanting to stay true to the original fairytale – while mixing it with touches of modernity – he created a whole other world that's quite apart from our own.

The film was shot at Babelberg Studios in Berlin, Germany. "It was exciting to shoot there at Babelsberg and be in that part of the world where the fable actually has its origins," Renner says.

"While there's some CGI in the movie, it's not a lot compared to (other films). We built all the sets, all the costumes, the witch stuff, everything done practically rather than things created in a computer. The troll character, for example, is an animatronic. It really made (the film) a lot more fun to shoot."

One other aspect of the story that made things fun for the actors is that Hansel and Gretel do run into trouble and find themselves on the losing end sometimes, which makes the film both serious and funny.

It was also imperative that the actors not only look somewhat alike, but have a believable relationship as brother and sister too. Apparently, Renner and Arterton uncovered a natural rapport on the set, which they brought to the screen.

Renner says: "Finding the right gal was important … When I saw her photo on the board, I asked, 'Who is this?' because we could be brother and sister – physically. She had sent in a tape and we all sat down, looked at her work and were like, 'She's phenomenal.' We spoke on the phone and after 30 seconds, I was sold – she couldn't be more lovable, creative, thoughtful and smart. I also knew I'd learn a lot working with her."

Arterton, the 27-year-old beauty from England, adds: "The sibling relationship is such a great one to explore. Hansel and Gretel have this unstoppable bond but they're also so different from each other. She's the brains of the operation. He's the brawn. He's the joker and the show-off. She's more the watcher, the researcher, the one who tries to really understand witchcraft. They have to each play to their strengths."

Producer Kevin Messick adds: "Jeremy has that Han Solo kind of quality. To have such a great actor play Hansel in this fantasy world really helps ground the movie. And Gemma creates the perfect brother-sister balance with him. She's very sexy and tough but she also brings you into their sibling relationship. They have that love-hate relationship of two people who grew up going through an incredible ordeal together; it's just that their ordeal was witches." By Mumtaj Begum

> Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters opens nationwide on Jan 24.

Oscars bank on MacFarlane to woo young viewers

Posted: 19 Jan 2013 11:07 PM PST

ORGANISERS of the annual Oscars ceremony have made little secret of their desire to reach a younger, edgier audience. And they are hoping this year's host Seth MacFarlane can hit the right spot.

Judging by the Family Guy creator's turn at last week's nomination announcement – and notwithstanding a cringeworthy Nazi joke – he could be just what they need, after a couple of years of arguably hosting miscues.

MacFarlane, who is also behind the recent foul-mouthed big screen hit Ted, is arguably a risky choice to host the Academy Awards, the time-honoured showcase of Hollywood's movie establishment, scheduled for Feb 24.

While the Golden Globes – sneered at by Oscars insiders as the product of a celebrity-loving foreign journalists' group – can afford to have British comic Ricky Gervais lampoon them, the Oscars have standards to keep up.

But at the same time, they are painfully aware of the need to widen their audience beyond viewers tuning in for traditional Oscar fare.

Two years ago, a clear get-the-young-viewers ploy, with actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway jointly fronting the show, was widely criticised, with Franco's wooden performance drawing particular scorn.

Last year, Eddie Murphy was initially down to host, but he pulled out at the last minute after an embarrassing gay slur row, and the Academy fell back on veteran Billy Crystal, fun hosting for a ninth time but hardly young.

This year, they have MacFarlane – who delivered a series of wisecracks as he and actress Emma Stone unveiled the nominees for this year's show, with Steven Spielberg's political drama Lincoln leading the pack.

"These are adapted screenplays, keep in mind, so that means the writers just copied stuff from Microsoft Word and pasted it into Final Draft," he said, of the short lists for one of the below-the-line technical categories.

Of the best film and foreign language film nominee Amour, he said: "I read Amour was co-produced in Austria and Germany. The last time Austria and Germany got together and co-produced something, it was Hitler, but this was much better."

A series of TV advertising spots unveiled hours later includes one in which MacFarlane walks onto a statuette-flanked stage, saying "Hi, I'm Seth MacFarlane – ask your parents."

"Look, I'm a huge Seth fan. What he brings first is a sense of joy. He wants to be there," ABC programming chief Paul Lee said when asked about the Hitler joke, according to a Washington Post blog.

"He brings a lot of energy to it ... He's coming to the Oscars with a great sense of respect, but brings a really contemporary feel," he said.

MacFarlane, who launched the Emmy-winning animated sitcom Family Guy in 1999, said when he was named last October: "It's truly an overwhelming privilege to be asked to host the Oscars.

"My thoughts upon hearing the news were, one, I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors; and two, I hope they don't find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen Roast."

MacFarlane, who won plaudits for Ted – about a foul-mouthed, drug-taking and womanising cuddly toy bear – hosted the event for perennially troubled TV actor Sheen last year.

All eyes will now be on his Oscars performance in the Dolby Theater, Hollywood, in a month and a half's time. – AFP

New version

Posted: 19 Jan 2013 11:07 PM PST

Iran is to make its own movie about the American hostage drama during the 1979 Islamic revolution to counter the "distorted" film Argo by Ben Affleck, which swept the Golden Globe awards.

Iranian actor and filmmaker Ataollah Salmanian was quoted in reports as saying the screenplay for the Iranian movie was ready.

"The draft of the movie, Setad Moshtarak (The General staff), has been approved by (Iran's) art centre and it awaits budget to start shooting," Salmanian said.

"The movie is about 20 American hostages who were handed over to the US embassy by Iranian revolutionaries at the beginning of the (Islamic) revolution. This movie ... can be an appropriate response to distorted movies such as Argo."

On Nov 4, 1979, Iranian Islamist students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took American diplomats hostage, holding them for 444 days in an action that caused the rupture of diplomatic ties between Washington and Tehran.

Argo chronicles the hostage drama, with Hollywood actor-director Affleck playing a CIA agent who rescues six US diplomats from the Canadian ambassador's residence in Tehran.

The movie has been accused of taking liberties with history, notably by exaggerating the role of the CIA in getting the US diplomats out, at the expense of the Canadian envoy in Tehran at the time.

Affleck won the best director award while the movie received the best dramatic film honour at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this week.

Argo has been banned in Iran but pirated copies are being circulated in the country. Iranian media dismissed the movie's success and criticised the Golden Globes as a "political ceremony".

"Argo is a sign of Ben Affleck's attempt to recreate Tehran in 1980. While his attempt might be ridiculous for Iranians, it has delighted American experts and critics," said the daily 7Sobh. – AFP

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