Isnin, 28 Januari 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Kris Jenner gets her own talk show

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 08:19 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kris Jenner, the matriarch of the Kardashian reality television family, is getting her own daytime TV talk show later this year, U.S. broadcast network Fox said on Monday.

Jenner's show, which will be called Kris, will begin a test run in the summer on Fox affiliates in Los Angeles, New York and other cities.

If expanded nationwide, the show could catapult Jenner, 57, from manager to lifestyle expert alongside daughters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe who have starred on reality series on U.S. channel E!.

The daily, one-hour show will feature celebrity guests and address lifestyle trends, Fox said. Jenner has previously been a guest host on CBS daytime talk show The Talk.

"This is something I have wanted to do all my life so it's definitely a dream come true! I can't wait for this new adventure to begin," Jenner said in a statement.

Jenner, who was married to the late attorney and businessman Robert Kardashian, is now married to Olympic decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner, 63.

Top Gear Korea into second season

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 05:11 AM PST

Top Gear Korea host Yeon Jung-Hoon talks about his love of cars as he brings his entertainment skills to infotainment.

We love cheap cars!" This would not have been the expected comment to hear from one who has sped Lamborghinis, Jaguars, Mercedes and BMWs to at least 320km/h, and who now owns a Ferrari 458 Spider.

But having said that, Yeon Jung-Hoon is not the glamorous K-pop actor who only brings good looks.

Together with Kim Jin-pyo and Cho Min-ki, who are both notable Korean racing celebrities, he will be offering viewers more spellbinding thrills in the second season of Top Gear Korea, including car skydiving stunts in Arizona, United States, an automobile football match between Korea and Japan, and racing Ferraris in Shanghai, China to name a few.

"There is a vast difference in Season Two. In the previous season, we had a lot of ideas and concepts, but we could not implement them. This season, however, with a bigger budget, we managed to work up a larger scale production that will bring more excitement," said 34-year-old Yeon who was in Kuala Lumpur recently to promote the motoring show.

The show is known to test cars to their limits, and although motorsports can be as perilous as bullfighting where just one careless mistake at the eighth of a second can send one to the grave, Yeon seems to be having fun in this automobile journalism career that was once his hobby.

"I'm glad that I can make money out of my hobby. It's fun and exciting to be able to drive so many different cars and explore them firsthand. For instance, I got to do a comparison between Lamborghinis and also race Ferraris. I found this interesting because in reality, Ferraris are so valuable that you wouldn't even think of actually racing one on the road!"

Yeon was educated in the United States, where he had his first car, a Nissan 240SX. The chap has adored cars ever since he could remember.

Throughout the years, he has also been experimenting with different ways of enhancing a car's performance.

"I used to modify cars back when I was in high school, starting with my first car. I also did that with my third car. However, I began to realise that there wasn't much meaning in making so many modifications, because at the end of the day, the modifications cost more than buying a new car.

"Also, when you sell the car, it would not reflect much in the car's value. So, if I want to tune a car, I might as well save the money and buy a better car," added Yeon who first came to fame because of the 2008 MBC drama, East Of Eden.

Despite having the opportunity to drive an array of luxury automobiles, Yeon still insists that posh cars might not make good cars.

"It all boils down to the driver. A good driver is one with whom a passenger feels comfortable with."

When asked whether his wife, actress Han Ga-in feels safe with him performing death defying feats, he explained, "It is actually safer to race in the track than to drive on the street. In producing our show, all the cars have to be pre-ridden and every act is monitored closely. And I have been involved in motor racing for many years now, so she is totally fine with it."

From acting to automobile journalism, it takes more than just skills to make it this far. In this era where cars have been made accessible, there are many youths out there who would want to pursue a similar career, and this is Yeon's advice to them.

"After coming on the show, I realised that having a solid foundation of knowledge is very important. If you know the background of the mechanism, when it comes to troubleshooting the problem, you can easily assess the situation.

"So, you need to try out and get a feel of as many cars as you can. When you feel it, experience it and execute it, the knowledge becomes yours. This is something articles won't give you," he advised.

Nonetheless, Yeon admitted that to be able to achieve what he was saying is indeed a costly affair. He added that it all boils down to passion.

"With passion, everything is possible!" exclaimed Yeon.

He recalled the days back in college when he used to have discussions with his peers, and how they used to scour automobile magazines for the latest information.

Though Yeon has now outsteered his career expectations, he noted that he is still an actor first and an automobile journalist, second. And it looks like Yeon will definitely race ahead in his automotive endeavours.

Top Gear Korea Season 2 airs every Tuesday night at 9pm on KIX HD (Astro Ch 729).


The Star Online: World Updates

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: World Updates

Bodies of missing Mexican band members found in well

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 06:57 PM PST

MONTERREY (Reuters) - Police found a dozen bodies inside a well in northern Mexico, some of them members of a band abducted last week by an armed group, a spokesman for the state of Nuevo Leon, Jorge Domene, said on Monday.

Authorities have identified four of the bodies, including that of a Colombian national. All were wearing jeans and T-shirts with the logo of the music group - "Poderoso Kombo Kolombia."

One band member who managed to escape told police that after he and the others were kidnapped, their armed men captors asked them if they belonged to an organized crime gang. They were shot when they refused to answer.

It was not clear how the surviving band member escaped or whether he was wounded. Domene said he had fled Mexico after reporting the attack.

A total of 18 men, 12 musicians plus staff, were abducted on Thursday at a party in a bar near the industrial city of Monterrey, Domene said.

"Presumably there could be more bodies so we will extend the search as far as conditions allow it," he told a press conference.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has vowed to reduce criminal violence that spiralled after his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, launched an assault on drug cartels in December 2006. Some 70,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since then.

(Reporting By Gabriela Lopez; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

IRS can seek UBS records for taxpayers hiding income at Wegelin

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 06:42 PM PST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday authorized the Internal Revenue Service to seek records from UBS AG of U.S. taxpayers suspected of hiding their income in accounts with Swiss bank Wegelin.

The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at their offices in New York December 19, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton

The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at their offices in New York December 19, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton

Wegelin, the oldest Swiss private bank, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court on January 3 to charges of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through secret accounts and then announced it would close down as a result.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan granted the IRS's request to issue a "John Doe" summons, which seeks information about possible tax fraud committed by individuals whose identities are not known, on UBS for the names of taxpayers who may have hidden income at Wegelin and other Swiss banks.

A UBS spokeswoman declined to comment on the ruling.

When the government indicted Wegelin nearly a year ago, it alleged that the bank used a U.S. correspondent account at UBS to handle funds for American clients, a standard industry practice for foreign banks. By covertly transferring money from undeclared Swiss accounts, Wegelin allowed clients to avoid paying income taxes in the United States, the government alleged.

Wegelin became the first foreign bank in recent memory to be indicted by U.S. authorities last February, opening a new chapter in a broad probe into Swiss bank secrecy. As part of its guilty plea, the bank agreed to pay $57.8 million (36.8 million pounds) in fines after admitting to helping U.S. clients evade taxes on at least $1.2 billion for more than a decade.

It announced on the same day that it would shut its doors permanently after more than 270 years in operation.

In 2009, UBS entered into a deferred-prosecution agreement, turned over 4,450 client names and paid a $780 million fine after admitting it provided tax-evasion services to rich Americans. Since then, dozens of Swiss bankers and their clients have been indicted in a crackdown on the practice.

(Editing by Tim Dobbyn, Bernard Orr and Edmund Klamann)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Employers encouraged by proposal to fix U.S. immigration chaos

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 06:40 PM PST

LOS ANGELES/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The first big political push for an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws in more than five years holds out some promise for employers who have long complained that the current system is broken and inhibits hiring.

From farmers who cannot find Americans to pick their crops to technology firm who need more engineers from abroad, the bipartisan plan from eight U.S. senators announced on Monday offered solutions like a "workable" program for seasonal farm labour and a commitment to "attracting and keeping the world's best and brightest."

"We are encouraged by the momentum on these important issues," said Microsoft general counsel and executive vice president Brad Smith.

Companies and business groups of all stripes have come out in favour of immigration reform, hoping to tap the immigrant labour force that has long been a key to growth of the U.S. economy.

But Smith said Microsoft needs to see the details of the legislation, which has not yet been crafted, and that it hopes the reform will expand the so-called H-1B visa system for highly skilled workers.

The government now offers a quota of 65,000 H-1B visas per year, a number unusually met in a few weeks of applications and far fewer than the U.S. technology sector says it needs to innovate and remain competitive.

The eight senators said that any immigrant who receives an advanced degree in the United States in science, technology, engineering or math (collectively known as STEM), should be given a green card, shorthand for legal residence and work permit.

"It makes no sense to educate the world's future innovators and entrepreneurs only to ultimately force them to leave our country at the moment they are most able to contribute to our economy," the senators said.

The proposal from the senators, who include Arizona Republican John McCain and New York Democrat Charles Schumer, goes so far as to offer a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Schumer said he hoped a bill would pass Congress as early as mid-year.

But it also offers provisions to make legal immigration more efficient and to bolster an employment verification system to help companies know if they are hiring illegal migrants.


While the U.S. government's "E-Verify" program is now only required in some states, a mandatory beefed-up system that takes the burden off companies for detecting fraud in identity documents and places it on the government might be welcomed.

A one-step process in which the employer enters data and awaits a government approval "could be a very effective system," said Eleanor Pelta, head of immigration law at the Washington law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

Several high-profile companies, including burrito chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc, have been investigated after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audits turned up problems with their employment paperwork. ICE started investigations at nearly 4,000 workplaces in fiscal 2012.

Chipotle moved to E-Verify almost two years ago after ICE audits revealed it had hired hundreds of illegal immigrants. Company spokesman Chris Arnold said that mandating a similar system would be "pretty much moot" for the 1,300-restaurant company.

While passage of the proposal into law is far from assured, farm organizations may have most reason to be encouraged, given its emphasis on meeting the needs of the agriculture industry.

"I see this absolutely as our best opportunity that we've had in a generation to get ... a solution to our immigration problems," said Charles Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

In the nation's largest food-producing and exporting state, California, farmers said they hoped immigration legislation would catch up to the reality of America's food supply.

"Many of the people who tend to the food we eat are not properly documented," said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

(Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Sports

Badminton icon Eddy Choong was a great inventor of shots

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 04:34 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: He stood at five feet four inches but to the badminton world, Datuk Eddy Choong was the giant of his era.

Yesterday, the 82-year-old Eddy (born on May 29, 1930) passed away in a private hospital at Penang after bleeding in the stomach – to leave all Malaysians mourning over the death of another great badminton icon.

Two other greats – Eddy's talented brother David and the legendary Datuk Punch Gunalan – also passed on due to illness in 2011 and 2012 respectively. All of them left behind a rich badminton legacy for the newer generation to embrace.

Eddy was the country's star of the All-England tournament. He had won it seven times – four singles crowns in 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1957 – and three doubles titles with David in 1951, 1952 and 1953.

In fact, he is the only Malaysian player to win both the singles and doubles titles in the same year of the oldest tournament – in 1953. He was also a member of the 1955 Thomas Cup-winning team.

And the player – dubbed as the Pocket Rocket, Mighty Midget, Mighty Atom and Jumping Jack to name a few – because of his small stature but explosive moves on court – ruled the world of badminton during the 1950s-1960s, winning numerous international titles.

After his playing days, Eddy ventured into coaching and was known as a great inventor of badminton shots.

Former Thomas Cup champion and two-time All England winner Datuk Tan Yee Khan recalled the times when he stayed in Eddy's house for three months hoping to learn the tricks of the trade from his "sifu".

"I was 17 years old when I went to stay with him in Penang. I respected him because he was smart and had great knowledge of the game. And he was willing to teach all he knew about the game. I remember all those long hours of advice and also the painful and gruelling hill training," said Yee Khan.

"As a player, he had invented a lot of badminton shots like the attacking lob. He would send the serve high enough to give him time to run back and take position against his opponent.

"I remember this one funny incident too. His opponents especially the English players were wary of him and some of them wanted to know whether Eddy had springs hidden in his shoes because he could jump so high.

"When I became a national coach, I did not forget his words of wisdom. I implemented some of his moves and techniques. He had been a mentor and a friend. He will be deeply missed," added the 73-year-old Yee Khan.

The friendly and charming Eddy was also well-known among the international fraternity. One of the awards given by the World Badminton Federation (BWF) for their promising players had been named after him – Eddy Choong Player of the Year award.

BWF's chief operating officer Thomas Lund said Eddy knew the whole history of badminton.

"I consider him the most loyal and faithful badminton player, coach and fan.

"His knowledge of the game was immense. He was also a dear friend of mine," said Lund.

Lund added that the All-England had a special place in Eddy's heart.

"During my playing days, I saw him in every All-England. When I joined the BWF, he was also a regular spectator there.

"He always had badminton on his mind. He loved the game."

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Ng Chin Chai said: "We are very sad over his passing. He has contributed so much to the game and is truly an icon.

"At one stage, he was the BAM's head coach of the women's team. He was also the deputy president of the Penang BA for many years.

"For his wealth of knowledge, BAM had also appointed him to lead the think-tank committee. He contributed his ideas to help rejuvenate the sport. Most of our BAM officials will be heading to Penang to pay our last respects."

National No. 2 Wee Wern blows away Camille in Connecticut

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 05:00 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: World No. 7 Low Wee Wern delivered another masterclass as she blew away France's Camille Serme to make the final of the US$35,000 Greenwich Open squash championship in Connecticut, the United States, on Sunday.

Wee Wern, who injured her hamstring when she faced Serme in last month's Hong Kong Open, had no problems this time as she scored an 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 win.

"I definitely did not expect to make the final ... but it has been a really good start to the year," said Wee Wern. "Camille was pretty tired after beating top seed Raneem (El Weleily) in the quarter-finals a day earlier.

"I was tired too but I managed to stay in front and had a healthy lead in the first two sets. In a way I was pretty much in control of the match.

"The third set was much closer, up to 7-7 before I managed to score three points in a row which helped me out a lot," added Wee Wern.

The Penangite will next take on impressive Egyptian teenager Nour El Sherbini, who crushed Australia's Kasey Brown 3-0.

"I have not faced Sherbini in years ... maybe four years ago when she was really young," said Wee Wern.

"She has improved a lot. She's obviously been playing well, being in the top six. It will be tough but I will definitely give it a go against her."

While Wee Wern was celebrating her great run, men's national No. 1 Ong Beng Hee's title defence of the Motor City Open in Detroit came to an end in the quarter-finals.

The 33-year-old Beng Hee started well against top seed Mohamed El Shorbagy, but the Egyptian's tenacity and stamina prevailed in the end for a 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 14-12 win in 75 minutes. Shorbagy will face compatriot Amr Shabana for a place in the final. Shabana scored an easy 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 win over Colombia's Miguel Angel Rodriguez.

The other semi-final is also an all-Egyptian affair between Karim Darwish and Omar Mosaad.

Tiger Woods carves out six-shot lead at Torrey Pines

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 04:14 PM PST

LA JOLLA (California): Tiger Woods strengthened his hold on the Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday, carving out a six-shot lead with 11 holes to play at the Torrey Pines course where he has won seven titles.

Seeking the 75th victory of his legendary career, Woods fired a three-under 69 in a third-round that was wiped out on Saturday by fog, then birdied three of the first seven holes in his fourth round before darkness halted play.

Woods was on 14-under 202 after 54 holes, then birdied the par-three third, par-four fourth and par-five sixth before a par at the seventh at dusk left him on 17-under at a course where he has won six PGA events and the 2008 US Open.

"I drove it great in the morning. I drove it on a string all day," Woods said. "I've got 11 holes to play and I've got to go out and play them well."

Americans Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker shared second at 11-under with Canada's Brad Fritsch fourth two shots further back.

Snedeker had five holes to play. Watney had twice as many. Fritsch had 11 to finish.

No other rivals were within nine strokes of Woods, who could beat his record victory margin at the US$6.1mil event, an eight-stroke triumph in 2008.

Woods has been the sole leader of an event 41 times after 54 holes and won 39 of those tournaments.

Past success at Torrey Pines has been a precursor to strong seasons from Woods, a 14-time major champion who at age 37 hopes to close the gap on the career record 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus after seasons diminished by injuries and the aftermath of an infamous sex scandal.

A victory would put Woods seven shy of Sam Snead's all-time PGA title mark of 82. The Farmers would be the third event Woods has won seven times in his career, joining tournaments at Bay Hill and Firestone and all one shy of Snead's PGA record eight career wins at Greensboro.

Woods wore a gray sweater in cool conditions for the fourth round start but said he would don his familiar red shirt for the concluding holes.

Defending champion Snedeker, who rallied from seven strokes down to win the event last year, birdied three of the first six holes to charge again, but was only one-under over the next seven holes while Woods pulled away.

Watney's charge fizzled as well. He birdied three of the first four holes and then scored four pars before darkness fell. — AFP


The Star Online: Business

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Business

Malaysia's blue chips advance in cautious trade

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 06:36 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips rose on Tuesday after an extended weekend, with the FBM KLCI rising to a high of 1,646 before some mild profit taking set in, mirroring the cautious Asian markets.

At 10.15am, the FBM KLCI was up 2.16 points to 1,639.29. Turnover was 259.17 million shares valued at RM308.55mil. There were 180 gainers, 228 losers and 227 counters unchanged.

Reuters reported Asian shares rose on Tuesday after solid US data, but investors remained cautious ahead of more US economic reports and a Federal Reserve policy decision later in the week that may offer clues to the Fed's stimulus plans.

Maybank KE Research said in its technical outlook report that after the KLCI tumbled 39.34 points to close at 1,637.10 last Friday, the very weak support areas for the index were in the 1,602 to 1,634 zone.

"The key resistance levels of 1,637 and 1,699 will see some heavy liquidation activities," it said.

Among the gainers were PPB Group, up 24 sen to RM12.46 and KLK 20 sen higher at RM22.06. Lafarge added 23 sen to RM9.63, F&N and UMW 16 sen each to RM18.14 and RM12.26 while HLFG rose 12 sen to RM13.82.

MMHE and MISC rose 10 sen each to RM4.30 and RM4.45 while Faber Group added nine sen to RM1.48.

IHH fell six sen to RM3.245 in active trade, with 4.18 million shares done. Its call warrants IHH-CO lost six sen also to 20 sen.

BAT was the top loser, down 34 sen to RM58, Tasek and Genting Plantations 10 sen each to RM14.40 and RM8.45 while HL Bank shed eight sen to RM14,14, Top Glove and Maxis seven sen each to RM5.18 and RM6.31.

Foreign funds net buyers of Malaysian equities at RM27.6m

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 06:12 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign funds were net buyers of Malaysian equities in the week ended Jan 25, 2013, though at a very much smaller scale of RM27.6mil of equities in the open market, MIDF Equities Research said.

The research house said on Tuesday despite the sell-off on Jan 21, it said foreign funds remained net buyers of Malaysia equities for the seventh week in a row, albeit marginally.

"On a net basis, foreign investors bought RM27.6mil in the open market, compared with RM952.2mil the week before," it said.

MIDF Research said this was hardly surprising amidst the strong tide of global liquidity that is currently washing ashore Asian Emerging markets.

"Foreign funds were only marginal net sellers on three out of four trading days last week. They were buying on weakness on Tuesday, the second day of the sell-off, indicating that foreign fund managers find value in Bursa when the KLCI is at around the 1,620 mark," it said.

The research house said for the year until last Friday, foreign investors bought net RM2.09bil of Malaysian equity. In 2012, they bought net RM13.7bil of equities.

"We believe the initial selloff on Monday was triggered and exacerbated by speculative retailers as their participation rate (gross purchase and sale) surged to RM1.13bil on the day, the first time it exceeded the mark since October. Local retailers were net sellers throughout the week, offloading net RM203.6mil, the highest in a week since September.

"This, we believe, was also attributable to momentum selling from the week before. Foreign investors were not aggressively selling on Monday and effectively squared their position on the day. They were back buying on Tuesday," it said.

MIDF Research said local institutions were clearly in the market to support prices. Participation rate (average daily gross purchase and sale) surged to RM2.18bil, the highest since August 2012. Local institutions mopped up net RM176mil last week, the first buying in seven weeks.

TTDI Ascencia condo will have rail connection

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 05:44 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: The close proximity to the upcoming Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) My Rapid Transit (MRT) station is TTDI Ascencia's selling point which will attract potential buyers or investors.

According to Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd senior general manager for marketing and sales Mohd Johan Shadzli Mohd Daud, its location will enable residents in the upcoming condominium development to "have a seamless connection" to the MRT and wider rapidly developing rail networks in the country.

"We expect that once we officially launch this, TTDI Ascencia will be easily sold due to the MRT station factor. With the MRT station, residents (here) can take the train to places such as 1 Utama, The Curve or even Kajang. It's convenient to escape road congestion," Johan said.

The entrance of the 36-storey freehold condominium development is located several metres away from the staircase leading up to the overhead bridge that leads to the TTDI MRT station, according to the building model showcased at its sales gallery.

The development consists of 154 units on 0.9 acre with individual sizes ranging from a studio of 520 sq ft-1,600 sq ft with internal configurations of one to three bedrooms.

"Sitting on a small land size of 0.9 acre, we have to ensure that the design is maximised yet accomodative to the size (of land) we have. We are also mindful that per unit sizes cannot be (too) big because selling prices per sq ft is not cheap today," he said.

TTDI Ascencia is designed by GDP Architects and units are semi-furnished with kitchen cabinet, hood, hob, wardrobe in the master bedroom, hot water supply, a minimum of two air-conditioners and plaster ceiling.

The early bird package which will be offered for a limited time will give buyers a 5% discount (bumiputra buyers will get an additional 5%), loan and the sale and purchase agreement fees waived, and first-year maintenance waived (thereafter at 35 sen per sq ft for the first two years).

"Price per sq ft for this development is slightly more than RM1,000 and we have enquiries on this development mainly from residents staying in TTDI itself. The people staying seem to be more inclined to buy the units here either for investment or for their children as they are used to the locality of Taman Tun," Johan said.

"Rental yields will be attractive and will easily be more than RM2,000. This is the kind of yields we can expect from this area," he added.

The development is expected to be completed in 42 months from the launch date at the beginning of February.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Double triumph

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:22 AM PST

A blind pianist beats the odds to become a movie star in his native Taiwan.

HUANG Yu-siang was born with a gift and a devastating disability. He has a huge talent for music, but he is blind. His story has become a movie that has captivated audiences in his native Taiwan.

The film, Touch Of The Light, marks a double triumph for the 25-year-old. First he overcame adversity by becoming a successful pianist in real life. Then he beat the odds once more by playing himself on the big screen.

"I was surprised by the warm reactions at home and abroad. Many people told me they were encouraged by the film to persist in their dreams," Huang said.

Huang's musical gift was discovered at the age of two when he could play on the piano songs he had heard only once.

He went on to win many competitions and became the first blind person to obtain a bachelor's degree in music majoring in piano in Taiwan.

His story was made into a short film in 2008 by Taiwanese director Chang Jung-chi, which attracted the attention of acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, who encouraged Chang to build it into a full-length feature.

It has become a top-grossing movie in Taiwan since its release in September last year, winning over fans including President Ma Ying-jeou, who praised its "subtle character portrayals" on his Facebook page.

The film has also been welcomed by civil groups that hope it will sharpen the focus on the plight of the island's blind.

While attitudes towards those with disabilities have improved in recent years, support groups and charities say Taiwanese society still has some way to go when it comes to equality.

Taiwan prides itself on its facilities for the physically impaired – wheelchair ramps abound in the cities – but the fact remains that blind people face drastically limited opportunities.

"The visually-impaired are a minority among the minorities, as employers are more willing to hire the physically or hearing-impaired," said Chiang Pei-fen, a spokeswoman for Taiwan Foundation For The Blind.

"The majority of the visually-impaired are still limited to working as masseurs or in telemarketing, and even though general workplace acceptance is improving, there is still a big gap between the number of job seekers and employers willing to hire them," added Chiang.

Despite his gift, Huang himself has not avoided discrimination. He said he was mocked by fellow students at school and was rejected by a junior high school music programme because he could not see the scores.

The real shock came when Huang left home to attend university, where he struggled to cope, with some classmates reluctant to accommodate him.

"It was a difficult time adjusting to a new environment but I came to realise that I could not always sit back and wait for other people to come to me. I had to take the initiative to make friends," he said.

His adjustment process and the friendships he eventually developed form the bulk of the plot in Touch Of The Light.

The experience has transformed Huang from a "shy, introverted" boy who dared not respond to people greeting him, he said, to a celebrity musician and actor who mingles with fans and has travelled abroad to promote his work.

"Acting makes me feel more confident and I have become more outgoing and more active, reaching out to other people," said Huang, who is now a household name in Taiwan and often approached by fans in the street.

Even though the movie is based on Huang's experiences, director Chang stressed that it is really about "pursuing dreams and breaking stereotypes".

"In the movie, the character's friends are not overly protective or treat him like an 'endangered species' as I want to break the sentimental pitying or worrying for the blind or other minority groups," said Chang.

Huang was nominated for the Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker category that encompassed actors, directors and other aspects of film at last year's Golden Horse Film awards, regarded as the Chinese-language Academy Awards. Chang won for best new director.

Touch Of The Light will also be screened at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival, which kicks off on Feb 7.

However, the jury is still out on whether the film's success will translate into greater acceptance of the blind into Taiwan society.

"It draws attention to the challenges visually-impaired people face but it remains to be seen how much can be translated into actual support for them," said Chiang of the Taiwan Foundation for the Blind. – AFP

'Hansel & Gretel' tops N. America box office

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 01:42 AM PST

LOS ANGELES: A horror-movie twist on the classic "Hansel and Gretel" fairy tale broke out in the top slot at the North American weekend box office, industry estimates showed Sunday.

"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," in which the once lost brother and sister have grown up to become grim-faced bounty hunters, debuted in first place with $19 million, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The supernatural thriller screamed past fellow horror flick "Mama," which fell into the second slot in its second weekend in theaters.

"Mama," in which a shadowy being trails two young children rescued after being lost in the woods when their parents died, took in $12.9 million.

The dark romantic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook," still riding a boost after its star Jennifer Lawrence scored a best comedy actress Golden Globe, stayed in third place, pushing the Oscar-tipped bin Laden manhunt movie "Zero Dark Thirty" down to fourth.

"Silver Linings," which was in 10th place just two weeks ago before the Globe win, was set to earn $10 million this weekend.

The acclaimed but controversial "Zero Dark Thirty" was just behind with $9.8 million in box office sales.

Another new release, "Parker," starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez as an unlikely pair working together on a heist, opened in fifth place, with $7 million in its opening weekend.

Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino's blood-soaked spaghetti Western tribute "Django Unchained," which took home two Globes and four Oscar nominations, rose to sixth place, earning slightly more than $5 million at the box office.

That put it just barely ahead of the third new release to open in the top ten this week. Star-studded "Movie 43," a comedy featuring interconnected short films that follow three kids' search for the most banned movie in the world, earned $5 million in ticket sales.

Trailing just behind were Sean Penn action flick "Gangster Squad," with $4.2 million, and crime drama "Broken City," at $4 million.

And rounding out the top 10 was musical adaptation "Les Miserables," which took in $3.9 million. - AFP

'Argo' triumphs with top prize at Screen Actors Guild

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 01:41 AM PST

LOS ANGELES: Iran hostage drama "Argo" won the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, while Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence took acting honors, as Hollywood celebrated its own and helped sharpen the race for Oscar glory in February.

Sunday's best ensemble cast win for "Argo" was the film's second award in two days. The win boosts the thriller's chances of winning a best picture Oscar in a race that is considered wide open.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) ceremony is among the most-watched during Hollywood's awards season because actors make up the largest voting group in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which chooses the Oscar winners. The SAG honors are selected by about 100,000 actors working in the United States.

SAG prizes acting over directing, screenplay writing and other skills that usually factor into the Oscar best picture choice.

On Saturday, "Argo" won the Producers Guild Award in Los Angeles on Saturday, beating "Lincoln," "Les Miserables," and "Silver Linings Playbook," which are all Academy Award best picture contenders.

"Argo," directed and starring Ben Affleck, is the true story of the rescue of U.S. diplomats stranded in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

British-born Day-Lewis, who has picked up a slew of awards for his intense portrayal of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln," confirmed his status as front-runner for what would be his record third Oscar on February 24.

"It was an actor that murdered Abraham Lincoln and therefore it is sometimes only fitting that now and then an actor tries to bring him back to life again," Day-Lewis said, accepting his award.

In one of the most closely contested categories, Lawrence, 22, was chosen best lead actress for playing an outspoken young widow in "Silver Linings Playbook" over Jessica Chastain's feisty CIA agent in Osama bin Laden thriller "Zero Dark Thirty."


Tommy Lee Jones, 66, won the best supporting actor trophy for his turn as radical Congressman Thaddeus Stevens in "Lincoln," beating strong competition from Robert De Niro, who played a gruff father in "Silver Linings Playbook."

Anne Hathaway, 30, won her first SAG award for her supporting role as the tragic Fantine in musical "Les Miserables."

"I got my SAG card when I was 14 ... And I have loved every single minute of my life as an actor," said Hathaway, accepting the statuette.

Lincoln," about U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's battle to end slavery, French revolution musical "Les Miserables," and comedy "Silver Linings Playbook," about a bipolar man's unlikely romance, went into Sunday's show with four nominations apiece.

"Argo" had two nominations, along with British comedy "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" about a group of seniors who retire to a ramshackle hotel in India.

SAG also handed out awards for performances in TV dramas, comedies and mini-series, and bestowed a lifetime achievement award to actor Dick Van Dyke.

In TV drama, the British cooks and countesses period show "Downton Abbey" won best ensemble cast. "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston was named best actor and "Homeland's" Claire Danes best actress.

"Modern Family" won the best comedy cast ensemble award for a third consecutive time. Alec Baldwin won best TV comedy actor for the 8th time for his role as an egotistical executive in "30 Rock" and his co-star Tina Fey took the honors for comedy actress ahead of the show's final episode on Thursday. - Reuters

Related Stories:
Daniel Day-Lewis wins best actor award from Screen Actors Guild
Jennifer Lawrence wins best actress award from Screen Actors Guild
Winners at the Screen Actors Guild awards


The Star Online: Nation

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Nation

The William Yau Zhen Zhong tragedy (Update)

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:14 PM PST

Published: Tuesday January 29, 2013 MYT 10:24:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday January 29, 2013 MYT 7:14:24 AM

‘Parah’ to represent Malaysia in World Theatre Festival

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:13 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian play Parah will represent the country in the World Theatre Festival 2013 in Brisbane, Australia, next month.

The play will be performed over five days at the Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse from Feb 13.

"I'm happy to be able to take a quintessentially Malaysian play outside of Malaysia.

"This year, there are plays from Iran, Belgium, the United States, Germany, Ireland, Australia and Britain.

"I'm looking forward to meeting artists from these countries, finding out more about their theatre and sharing our work with them." said director Jo Kukathas, who also directed the play during its critically-acclaimed run at KLPAC in February last year.

Kukathas said Parah's involvement in the festival had been the idea of Sreedhevi Iyer, a Malaysian researcher living in Brisbane.

She said Sreedhevi had brought the play to the attention of World Theatre Festival Artistic Director Andrew Ross, who enjoyed the play, and later invited them to be part of the festival.

"Like Malaysia, Australia is a multi-cultural country coupled with a complex history of migrations. Therefore, issues of race, identity and politics are close to the surface.

"Malaysia, with its hybrid culture and simmering racial and religious mix, is a country which holds many stories that would resonate in many places across the globe." Kukathas said.

The cast of Parah comprise young actors Farah Rani, Iedil Putra, Branavan Aruljothi and Gregory Sze, who reprise their roles from last year's production.

"I am very excited but it does feel surreal, really. I don't think it will properly kick in until we're actually there." Farah said about the experience.

Written by Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa'at and inspired by the late Yasmin Ahmad's final film, Talentime, as well as Abdullah Hussain's novel, Interlok, Parah examines themes of identity, belonging and the power of words.

End of the road for Mat Rempit

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:12 PM PST

IT was probably not the smartest idea by a bunch of Mat Rempit to taunt the police right in front of their headquarters in Kuantan, as 11 people were arrested, including three minors, for riding their machines dangerously.

Utusan Malaysia reported that a group of motorcyclists had brazenly performed dangerous stunts along the road fronting the police headquarters for a few years now, prompting the police to put an end to their dangerous ways.

> Kosmo! reported that police in Kelantan said that horse steroid pills were popular among students as a cheap way to get high.

Kota Baru OCPD Asst Comm Azham Othman said students as young as 15 were hooked due to the easy availability of the pills outside school.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Andrew Barber's Kuala Lumpur during WWII

Posted: 27 Jan 2013 06:04 AM PST

A new book traces the history of our capital city during World War II.

WE know what happened in World War II during the fall of Singapore. Noel Barber and many other authors have written about it. We can also find accounts of the effects of the war on Penang. We also know about the sinking of the British warships, the Repulse and the Prince of Wales. But how much do we know about what actually happened in Kuala Lumpur during the war?

Author Andrew Barber (no relation to Noel) felt that there has never been much emphasis on the capital city when it came to historical accounts of WWII, for some reason. So he set himself the task of retracing the city's history during those times. The result is a book entitled Kuala Lumpur At War 1939–1945, an intriguing, suspenseful and sometimes humorous account of the days leading up to the Japanese invasion and thereafter.

"I had already written a book about Penang," says Barber at a recent interview, "and I kept on getting references to things happening in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. I couldn't use them in the Penang book (Penang At War, published in 2011), so it was a shame.

"Some people had written about Singapore, a lot has been written about the military side of things, the defeat of the British, but not so much about the Japanese occupation and what happened.

"When I got into it, I was amazed at things like what had happened in Pudu prison and the comfort houses, and the commandos and Force 136 guerillas."

Pre-war life

Kuala Lumpur At War provides a vivid picture of pre-war life in the city. While trouble was brewing in Europe and elsewhere, KL-ites lived under a false sense of security, believing that the British would provide enough protection should the Japanese attack. Life went on as usual, with newspapers advertising dinner dances next to reports of the war, and businesses going on as if nothing important was happening. It was December 1939 and preparations for Christmas were on-going, especially in the expatriate community.

On page 41, Barber wrote: "Initially, despite an air of foreboding, life in Kuala Lumpur carried on as much as it ever had. The city worked as normal and the main shops were firmly into the Christmas season and would not be distracted from their commercial imperative by the irritant of a Japanese invasion."

But as the Japanese got ever closer, panic started to set in.

Barber, who studied history at Cambridge University, writes with an academic posture as much as he does with a full-on thrilling and often times scary narrative of a ripping good yarn. He conveys a palpable sense of inevitability as an ill-prepared urban society realised that the lack of British aerial and ground firepower to match the Japanese Zeroes and advancing tanks would be the making of the city's downfall. Then began the city folk's frenzied, terror-fuelled exodus.

The Japanese actually landed in Malaya just one hour before the infamous attack on the US Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor (Dec 8, 1941 in Malaya, Dec 7 in the United States). Barber details the advance of the Japanese from the north of Peninsular Malaya until the British's last stand in the battle of Slim River, Perak. In KL itself, there was actually very little fighting.

Barber first came to Malaysia as a diplomat in 1998. After some years, he returned to London to work at the Foreign Ministry. Today, he runs AB&A, a corporate research company based in KL, and has been doing so for the last 12 years.

"I wrote some articles for Expat magazine," Barber explains. "After about a year-and-a-half of writing monthly articles, I thought, why don't I pull all these articles together? I had the bones of a small book. All I needed were photographs."

It became his first book, Malaysian Moments – A Pictorial Retrospective, a collection of "small stories about Malaysian history" accompanied by some lovely photographs. The profits from the sale of the book were donated to the Lighthouse Children's Home.

He subsequently wrote Malaya, The Making Of A Nation: 1510–1957 and Penang Under The East India Company: 1786–1857, followed by Penang At War.

Immersed in history

For Kuala Lumpur At War, Barber, who describes himself as an "amateur historian", spent two years on research, with a bulk of the work carried out in London. He also found a lot of good historical records in our Arkib Negara, and talked to war survivors.

"If you enjoy it, it doesn't feel like work," says Barber. "To be honest, I probably neglected my office. I would go to the archives, and I would tell my office I would be about half an hour. But it would take five hours!"

A lot of interesting and rich stories emerged that surprised even Barber himself. In the book, he fleshes out various aspects of life during the Japanese occupation. There are the brutal kempetei (Japanese military police) and its reign of terror; the harrowing conditions in Pudu prison, and the trials and tribulations of the various communities, from the Malays, Chinese and Indians to the Eurasians. (Spencer Chapman of The Jungle Is Neutral fame also gets a few mentions.)

Then there is also the wartime economy, when funnily, even panties became a controlled item, and food shortages led to cows' tails being cut and stolen by thieves for meat.

One of the most heart-rending stories is the one about Doris Van der Straaten, an Australian woman who was eventually killed by the kempetei under dubious circumstances.

Her extraordinary story led her from the jungles of southern Thailand to the Taiping prison hospital in Perak. Then she became the concubine of a Japanese colonel before the Japanese arrested her and she was thrown out of a window.

"Amazingly, despite the fact that this woman plunged to her death from the top floor of the kempetei headquarters during interrogation, her interrogator was not convicted."

Telling it like it is

Barber is also unflinchingly honest about the failure of the British in defending Malaya and their unpreparedness. They relied instead on optimistic propaganda that helped to buoy a false sense of security among the residents of KL. On page 36, Barber wrote: "Observant witnesses, however, might have noted in the array of military equipment being paraded through the streets of Kuala Lumpur that the British lacked tanks on the ground and modern fighter aircraft in the sky."

"I couldn't do anything else but be honest," says Barber. "The British performance was pretty poor. But this isn't saying there wasn't a lot of individual bravery. A lot of British people died.

"Normally when you're in a defensive position, as the military, you would expect the attacker to have a much higher level of casualties, usually two to one. But if you look at the casualty rates among the British and Indian troops, they were higher than among the Japanese. So there was no lack of bravery.

"What there was, was a lack of competence ... the British were very stretched at that stage; they didn't have tanks or aircraft. So technologically they were behind. But they had a lot of people and artillery, and the advantages of defence. But you have to give credit to the Japanese. They were a formidable machine, they were very hardened. They had seasoned troops and had been in Manchuria."

Barber had many people read various drafts of the book to weed out factual errors and inaccuracies. "Hopefully, it is a piece of light history that a student or just anybody can pick up," says Barber. "Equally, I do hope that the scholarship and the research are sound."

Asked what the reaction has been to an "outsider" like him writing about local history, Barber replies: "People have been really generous. There were some who said, 'We should be doing it. Why should it take a foreigner to write about our history?' And I agree. I wish more Malaysians would be interested, because the history is so fascinating. They might end up with very different comments and views."

> Kuala Lumpur At War 1939–1945 is available in all major bookstores.

Korean cooking comic gets first release

Posted: 27 Jan 2013 06:01 AM PST

Korean cooking comic gets first release.

THE first part of the Say Kimchi! Korean Food Comic has been released on iPad for those wanting a guide to Korean cooking that is easy on the eye.

The comic series published by O'ngo, a cooking school and culinary tourism company in Seoul, explains local dishes to Korean food novices, but goes beyond a simple recounting of bibimbap and galbi.

Instead the series looks to include dishes that have unusual aspects to them or interesting stories behind them. Did you know, for example, that Andong jjimdak was developed in the 1980s to compete with the rising tide of fried chicken restaurants?

There are eight chapters, including sections on hotteok and "goldfish bread," yukhoe (raw beef), and hwangtae gui (braised pollock), although the bonus section on Korean table etiquette has perhaps more value as a point of interest than a practical guide.

Additional notes on how the foods are made and cultural features of Korea such as jjimjilbang sauna complexes can be accessed through "learn more" snippets on the pages.

Dan Gray, one of the authors of the book and a co-owner of O'ngo, expects the next edition to be available by the end of this month.

There are due to be three instalments of the comic, and Gray said that the first had been doing better than expected, with some publishers in the United States looking to publish the full set in a paper edition.

"A lot of people have contacted us to tell us it's very helpful," he said.

He said an application version for Android and iOS was planned, but that the dates and whether or not it would be paid-for or free to download had not yet been decided.

The book was partly paid for through crowd-funding, but non-backers can buy Volume 1 via the iBook store. – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Going great guns

Posted: 27 Jan 2013 03:59 AM PST

Two decades on and one of crime fiction's most engaging and interesting detectives is still irritating his bosses and still doggedly getting his man.

The Black Box
Author: Michael Connelly
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing,403 pages

THE Black Box is the 18th Harry Bosch novel and it marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first, The Black Dahlia, published in 1992. In those 20 years, Michael Connelly has established one of the most convincing and enduring investigators in the canon of crime fiction and one of the most reliable "good reads" in the genre.

So to mark the anniversary, it is worth asking why this particular series has received so much critical acclaim and along the way notched up worldwide sales of some 40 million books.

Harry Bosch himself is, of course, a large part of the appeal. When Harry first appeared he was emotionally damaged after a fraught and dislocated childhood, armed with a sense of social justice and a personal code of ethics best summarised in the catch phrase that "everyone counts or nobody counts".

Bosch's pursuit of the criminal and evil was relentless and authority figures were brushed aside if they stood in his way. No respecter of rank or power, Bosch's commitment to the victim and to justice was absolute. It was a trait that did not sit well with a number of his superior officers and it is a trait that has endured throughout the series, as much a part of the The Black Box as of any of its predecessors.

The 20 years have seen Bosch change without altering the principles that initially inspired him to become a cop. In those years he has loved and lost, been suspended and re-instated, retired from and returned to work, abandoned current crime and taken on "cold cases" that have languished unsolved, the souls of their victims left crying for justice.

One of Connelly's skills has been to make Bosch credible at all stages of his life and to flesh out the police operative into a full human being. The Black Box sees him trying too hard with his prickly 16-year-old daughter and Connelly's writing of those intimate family scenes is as convincing as his charting of Bosch's professional life.

Which brings us neatly to the mechanics of a police procedural. I doubt that there is anyone writing anywhere who is better at describing the mechanics of police work than Connelly. In part, of course, this harks back to his days as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times but for sure one of the fascinations of reading any of his novels is the detailed way in which cases are investigated and leads pursued.

The key word here is "detailed" – each Bosch case unravels with care, precision and logic. In The Black Box this process starts with the slenderest of clues: a bullet casing from a murder committed 20 years earlier. But the casing leads Bosch to a bullet and the bullet to a gun and the gun to a source in the US military ... it is logical, precise and inexorable. Connelly has always been a master plotter and The Black Box is no exception.

And then there is the writing itself. Connelly contrasts quite noticeably with another of my favourite crime writers, James Lee Burke, in that he makes no attempt to bring a poetic note to his work. Perhaps this is a function of place: Burke is clearly enchanted by the beauty of the bayou and America's Deep South whereas Los Angeles, the setting of virtually the entire Bosch series, is a cold, hard and frequently brutal cityscape.

What you get instead is terse description and outstanding dialogue that both nails character and moves the plot forward. Despite the apparent simplicity, there is a considerable amount of technical skill involved.

So, finally, to The Black Box itself. Bosch is back working unsolved cases and the one he picks is "Snow White", the murder of a white female photojournalist from Denmark, killed execution style in an alleyway during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles (sparked by the acquittal of white policemen accused of beating up King, a black man).

There is nothing to go on, except for the bullet casing, and Bosch's desire to follow this case rather than the many cases involving black victims is politically unpopular with his superiors whose eye is always on media coverage. Undeterred, Bosch follows one of the oldest mantras in crime detection: follow the gun. But first he has to find it.

It is a process that leads him into the gang-ridden backstreets of LA, to characters with names like 2Small and Tru Story, then back to the gun's source and on to sordid events involving US military personnel. The killing, it turns out, was not random at all and was certainly not an unfortunate by-product of the riots. Whoever had it in for Anneke Jespersen had a clear and planned agenda.

As Bosch nears his final retirement there are hints in The Black Box of where Connelly may take us next. Maddie, his daughter, is firmly convinced that she too wants to join the force. Are we to see a new generation and a new approach? Possibly, but for now I'll more than happily settle for an ageing Harry Bosch and the meticulous police work that has brought so many evil "perps" to final justice.


The Star Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved