Selasa, 29 Januari 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Japan's ANA replaced 10 Dreamliner batteries before emergency landing

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 08:35 PM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]TOKYO (Reuters) - All Nippon Airways said it had replaced 10 below-par lithium-ion batteries on its Boeing Co 787 Dreamliners in the months before one of the passenger jets was forced to make an emergency landing due to an overheated battery triggering smoke alarms.

Brazilian cities crack down on nightclubs after deadly fire

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 07:24 PM PST

SANTA MARIA, Brazil (Reuters) - Cities across Brazil are cracking down on nightclubs to ensure that they comply with fire regulations after a weekend blaze destroyed a club in the southern university town of Santa Maria, killing 235 people.

People inspect the Boate Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles (301 km) west of the state capital Porto Alegre in this handout released by the Policia Civil (Civil Police) January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Policia Civil/Handout

People inspect the Boate Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles (301 km) west of the state capital Porto Alegre in this handout released by the Policia Civil (Civil Police) January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Policia Civil/Handout

The fire was Brazil's deadliest in half a century and the tragedy resonated across the country, with many people demanding those responsible be prosecuted and that the government tighten up on safety.

Police said a flare that ignited the fire and was used by the band for visual effects was meant for outdoor use, the club's emergency exit signs were not working and the only available exit was too small.

Outraged Brazilians blame what they see as lax regulation and corrupt officials for the tragedy. There are fears that similar fires could break out at other clubs and public venues, especially as the country gears up to host the soccer World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in 2016.

Sensitivity is also growing in the run-up to next month's Carnival celebrations, which feature throngs of unruly revellers in parades and street parties in cities across the country.

As funerals and an official investigation proceeded, government officials and lawmakers pressed for tougher laws. President Dilma Rousseff, who visited Santa Maria over the weekend, urged local officials on Monday for more rigor in enforcing safety regulations.

Cities across the country quickly responded.

"We were all evidently shocked by the Santa Maria tragedy," Bosco Saraiva, the acting mayor of Manaus, a city of 2 million people in the Amazon region, told Reuters. "Yesterday we started a total cleanup."

The campaign featured club inspections and city authorities closed 17 because of fire hazards and expired permits. Americana, a city in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo, issued a blanket order for all nightclubs to shut down temporarily while new safety standards are discussed.

Brasilia and other cities including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have also deployed inspectors. In Salvador, Brazil's third-biggest city, the mayor ordered inspections of all entertainment venues, including Carnival installations now being erected.

Safety experts have criticized carnival floats and decorations in the past because they are often made with paper, plastics and other highly flammable materials.


Cries of "Justice!" rose from a crowd of 15,000 people who marched through the centre of Santa Maria on Monday night. Marchers carried flowers to a local gym that has served as a morgue and funeral parlour since the fire early on Sunday.

The death of a 21-year-old man at a hospital in nearby Porto Alegre raised the death toll to 235, authorities said on Tuesday. An additional 121 people were still hospitalized, 83 of whom were in critical condition.

Most of the dead were students suffocated by toxic fumes that rapidly filled the club after the flare set fire to soundproofing material on the ceiling. Others were trampled as they stampeded toward the sole exit of the "Kiss" nightclub, whose permits were under review.

Witnesses said club bouncers initially blocked the exit because they thought fleeing customers were trying to leave without paying for their drinks.

Families of the victims demanded explanations.

"Somebody has to be responsible," said Elaine Marques Gonçalves, who lost one son in the fire and has another critically injured.

"I will not get my son's life back, but I want the authorities to investigate and act, for the sake of other young people," she said in a video interview on the website of the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

Police have detained the two owners of the club and two members of the band whose performance led to the blaze. No charges have been filed against them, and prosecutors said they could be held for up to five days for questioning.

The popular club was authorized to hold 690 people and was believed to have been packed with about 1,000 revellers at the time of the fire, police said.

Santa Maria's police chief, Marcelo Arigony, said the band had bought a $1.25 (80 pence) outdoor flare at a local shop instead of spending $35 on a flare for indoor use. He said the club's fire extinguisher tags were either expired or falsified.

"Any child could tell the place wasn't safe," Arigony told a news conference.

Experts say Brazilian safety laws seem sufficient on paper but that enforcement is weak and codes can vary from state to state.

The Kiss nightclub appeared to have no fire escape, no alarm and no sprinklers. Experts said the soundproofing material that caught fire was banned.

"Inspection in this country is a joke. It's time for that to change," said the owner of several nightclubs in Sao Paulo, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of his position.

(Additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello and Peter Murphy in Brasilia, and Eduardo Simões and Asher Levine in Sao Paulo; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Kieran Murray, Christopher Wilson and Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Australian PM surprises with September election call

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 07:13 PM PST

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stunned voters on Wednesday by setting a national election for September 14, eight months away, in her first major political speech for 2013.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks during a news conference at the 5th Bali Democracy Forum in Nusa Dua, Bali November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Murdani Usman

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks during a news conference at the 5th Bali Democracy Forum in Nusa Dua, Bali November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Murdani Usman

Elections must be held in Australia by the end of the year, but Gillard said she wanted to end political uncertainty by setting the date now.

"It is not right for Australians to be forced into a guessing game, and it's not right for Australians to not face this year with certainty and stability," Gillard said.

"So in the interests of certainty, in the interest of transparency, in the interest of good governance, I have made the date clear today."

Gillard's minority Labour government holds a one seat majority with support from a group of independents and the Greens, and polls suggest the Liberal opposition would easily win office if an election were held now.

The election will decide whether Australia keeps its controversial carbon tax, and a 30 percent tax on coal and iron ore mining profits, which the conservative opposition has promised to scrap it if wins power.

But apart from these two policy differences, the government and opposition differ little on domestic issues, and both firmly support greater involvement with China, the country's biggest trade partner.

Gillard said the governor-general would dissolve the current parliament on August 12, giving the government two more sessions of parliament to pass laws and deliver its May budget.

Gillard used the speech to the National Press Club to lay the groundwork for an election year battle focused on the economy, arguing that a strong economy is necessary to ensure fairness in education and disability services -- two key election policies aimed at Labour heartland voters.

Australia's resource economy is expected to slow this year as a stubbornly high currency crimps export earnings and a boom in mining investment plateaus. Australia's A$1.5 trillion (970.7 billion pounds) economy has grown for the past 22 years and has overtaken Spain as the world's 12th largest economy.

"We just don't have the sense that the economy will go into hibernation just because an election is coming in eight months time," said Michael Turner, a strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

There was no discernible reaction in financial markets on Wednesday. The Australian dollar remained firm, hitting its highest level against the Japanese yen in over four years. The share market reached a fresh 21-month high and government bonds were steady.

Though the government has dropped its pledge to reach a budget surplus for 2012/13, any deficit is still likely to be a fraction of the economy's A$1.5 trillion in annual economic output and no worry to investors.

Under Australian laws, governments serve for three-year terms and the prime minister has the right to decide the election date. By calling a September election, Gillard's government will have served a full term.

Gillard said she did not want her announcement to mark the start of an eight-month election campaign.

"I do so not to start the nation's longest election campaign - quite the opposite," she told the National Press Club.

"It should be clear to all which are the days of governing and which are the days of campaigning. Announcing the election date now enables individuals and business, investors and consumers to plan their year."

(Additional reporting by Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Veg out, lose out?

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 12:25 AM PST

A claim that marathon TV viewing can shorten your life by five years has our Spudniks scrambling to change their ways. Or at least think about it.

WHEN Lorelai cheated on Luke at the end of Season Five of Gilmore Girls, I was crushed. No, really. I was multitasking – moving the the towers of books that had collected on the side tables in my living room to the nearby bookshelf, all while I watched the show. So, when Lorelai actually climbed into bed with Christopher, her ex and the father of her daughter, Rory, I was gutted.

My jaw dropped and so did the books I was holding (these were thick, hardcover cookbooks; Nigella Lawson was in the pile) and they landed right on my feet. Oh, the excruciating pain … from both my feet and my heart. How could Lorelai? How could I (be such a klutz)?

Lesson learnt: never multitask when watching a drama, especially when the plotline is getting intense.

The truth is, some shows (like Dexter, Homeland, The Big Bang Theory) require full attention and others (Blue Bloods, Two And A Half Men, The Mentalist and Friends), well, not so much.

Take the reality singing show The Voice, for example. It's the perfect show to have on in the background while I go about clearing, cleaning, Facebook-ing and maybe even catching up on my reading.

After all, apart from knowing who is singing what, there is no need to actually watch the performances in full. The only time I don't avert my eyes is when the judges give their comments because they're pretty entertaining and yeah, Adam Levine is so fine.

Will & Grace is another show which I can half-watch. To be honest, I tune in to the show to watch the supporting stars rather than Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) and so, when the camera isn't on Jack (Sean Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally), I go about my own business.

Multitasking while watching TV is a good way of making sure I don't become a stereotype: the sedentary couch potato. You know, lying on the sofa, with all manner of crumbs lodged in the folds of my pyjamas, hair tousled and teeth not yet brushed. Ack!

New York Times physical education columnist Gretchen Reynolds wrote about the health risks from sitting in front of the TV for a long time in her blog last October. Reynolds quoted a study that was published in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine which found that "every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer's life expectancy by 21.8 minutes."

What? Wait, there's more. The researchers concluded that an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV (and this, they claim, applies even to those who are fit and exercise regularly).

Oh boy! That's simply not fair! I can practically see five years of my life being snatched from me. Six hours a day is at least the number of hours I spend in front of my TV every day. And what about those mad marathons during the weekends to allow us to catch up on an entire season of a particular series? Those marathons are lethal, I tell you.

When the Supernatural marathon aired some time ago, I remember spending most of my weekend in my pyjamas, eating just snacks for meals and getting up only for bathroom breaks.

To be honest, I was exhausted and maybe even a little ill by the end of it.

So when the Mad Men marathon commenced a little later that year, I tried to add some activity into the schedule: I changed into my exercise gear and actually did a few stretches and squats in front of Don Draper and his crew (pardon me if that sounded improper). I ran into the shower (sacrificing a good 10 minutes of the show), wrote out my grocery list and even cut my vegetables and prepped the day's meal on the dining table.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm not your stereotypical couch potato. You can take three years of my life, but not five! – SI

■ UH-OH. This does not bode well for me. Exercise and watch TV at the same time? Multitask? Prep the day's meal while trying to figure out Stewie's life philosophies on Family Guy or keep up with the eight hundred different dramas on Modern Family? You have got to be joking. I surrender. Gretchen Reynolds can have five years of my life. Go ahead. I'm not about to do sit-ups in front of the TV, thank you very much.

The television is like a shrine in my home. We pay homage every time we walk past it. (I am kidding, don't get your holier-than-thou knickers in a twist.) So look, I agree that there are some shows which you can pretend you're actually watching and get away with flipping through The Star. You can run to the kitchen and whip up a coffee, or make a quick dash to the toilet before anything really important transpires. (Warning: This rule does not apply to football matches. What? I was gone for all of three seconds and they scored a goal?)

Let's see ... I usually am only using like half of my brain when I'm watching any CSI episode these days, or any police procedural for that matter. I've watched so many such episodes, I can guess whodunit, how and why, all before you can spell Marg Helgenberger backwards. So technically, if I were forced to multitask for a TV show, I possibly could, during something like CSI or any of the sitcoms or reality shows. (For American Idol, these days, I just sit in my bedroom and listen to the goings-on in the living room as my son Ryan still tunes in ... Ryan, what's wrong with you?!) Although truth be told, when I was watching all those Bachelor and Bachelorette episodes, they had my undivided attention (don't laugh, I'm only human).

Now, if the series is something I am really into – Revenge (for a while), Dexter (first season), Big Bang Theory (I mean, you have to pay attention when nuclear physics or Leonard Nimoy is involved) – then, I have to say I will not budge from my couch.

I am happy to look slovenly, just so I can watch as many episodes as possible on the weekend before having to go to work on Monday. I remember being super-glued to my TV, trying to finish each season of Battlestar Galactica in one sitting.

I was so sleepy and tired, I swear I kept seeing armoured automatons at the office during those BSG-filled days, and more than once, I thought my computer terminal had transmogrified (yes, I'm a Calvin And Hobbes fan too, as if my life weren't complicated enough) into a Viper.

Yep, it can be physically gruelling. My kids seem to have no problem doing it for shows like True Blood and Supernatural. Maybe I have just passed my use-by date. So, yeah, five years of my life? They can have it. I'm happy to veg out when a good show comes along. That reminds me – I've just got myself the entire run of X-Files and I hear it calling. – AMC


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

SIC target 130,000 fans for this year’s F1 race

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 03:26 PM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]KUALA LUMPUR: The Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix is now 15 years but still going strong.

Lotus eyeing a top-three finish

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 03:19 PM PST

LONDON: Lotus have set their sights on a top-three finish in this year's Formula One world championship after becoming the first team to unveil their car for the forthcoming campaign.

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen and team bosses gathered at their headquarters in Enstone, Oxfordshire on Monday to reveal a car they believe is capable of making a significant impact on the track this year.

With few significant changes to the regulations for 2013, the E21 bears what technical director James Allison described as a "family resemblance" to last year's model but with some key improvements.

Last year Raikkonen finished third in the drivers' championship, with Lotus finishing fourth in the constructors as they amassed over 300 points, just 75 adrift of third-placed McLaren.

With Red Bull and Ferrari also ahead of them in the pecking order, it appears a tall order for Lotus to overhaul such rivals in the constructors' chart.

But chairman Gerard Lopez and team principal Eric Boullier are confident they can show last season was no flash in the pan.

"Third place is at least an achievement we would like to have this year," Boullier said.

"We obviously expect to pick up the momentum from 2012. There is some stability in the regulations, with both drivers more eager than ever. We will fight with everything we can to be in the top three."

It was an impressive campaign for Lotus last year as Raikkonen, returning to F1 after two years away, finished in the points in 19 of the 20 races.

The Finn scored the team's first win since 2008, when they were formerly known as Renault, by taking the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi in November.

Raikkonen concedes it will be tough to repeat that feat, but he is determined to do everything possible to make it happen.

"It's not going to be easy to improve on what we did last year," he said.

"But that's the aim, to do better, and hopefully we can do it. We put our trust in the people who made last year's car and who have made this one.

"We try to improve in all areas. If you can qualify further up the grid, then it gives you a better chance to win races and makes your life a lot easier on race days.

"It's the whole package they've tried to make faster, and hopefully we've managed to do it." — AFP

New Indonesian coach raring to get down to coaching doubles pairs

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 03:24 PM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]PETALING JAYA: Newly-hired men's doubles coach Paulus Firman is not a superstitious sort of guy. If he had been, he would not have accepted the "jinxed" post.

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

IHH Healthcare up, but seen ahead of fundamentals

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 06:32 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: IHH Healthcare Bhd managed to advance in Wednesday, recouping part of the previous day's losses after the moratorium for its 22 pre-initial public offering cornerstone investors ended last Friday.

At 10.16am, it was up two sen to RM3.23. There were 841,700 shares done at prices ranging from RM3.21 to RM3.24.

The FBM KLCI fell 1.15 points to 1,636.19. Turnover was 312.39 million shares valued at RM299.63mil. Losers overtook gainers, 171 to 157 while 264 counters were unchanged.

At RM3.23, IHH Healthcare is still 43 sen or 15.3% above its listing price of RM2.80 last July when it raised RM5bil.

Alliance Research initiated coverage on IHH Healthcare with a Sell recommendation and a target price of RM2.86 based on its sum-of-parts valuation. "In view of its aggressive expansion plans, we are projecting a strong core earnings growth of 136.7%, 76.5% and 22.1% for FY12-FY14 respectively. Although we remain optimistic of the group's long-term growth prospects, we believe that its share price has run ahead of its fundamentals," it said.

Alliance Research said IHH Healthcare was trading at a forward price-to-earnings of 34.1 times, which it described as rich and provided limited upside potential.

"Furthermore, its low CY13 dividend yield of 0.2% is also not attractive and non-supportive of its rich valuation, in our view," it said.

Affin Fund Management targets more than RM3b assets

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 06:13 PM PST

Published: Wednesday January 30, 2013 MYT 10:13:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Fund Management Bhd's assets under management will exceed RM3bil with the launch of three funds.

It said on Wednesday the new funds -- Affin 2-iWholesale, 3-iWholesae and 4-iWholesale -- would create an additional RM1.5bil to its current RM1.93bil in assets under management as at Dec 31.

China Auto under spotlight; drives trading volume

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 05:49 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: China Automobile Parts surged in very active trade on its first day on Wednesday, as its trading volume accounted for one-third of the total turnover in the first half-hour.

The FBM KLCI rose 2.27 points to 1,639.61. Turnover was 153.27 million shares valued at RM111.44mil. There were 128 gainers, 83 losers and 162 counters unchanged.

China Auto was the top gainer and most active. Its share price surged 44 sen to RM1.12 and it saw 55.06 million shares done.

BAT rose 18 sen to RM57.42 while among the finance stocks, HLFG and Hong Leong Bank rose 10 sen each to RM13.80 and RM14.22.

The Store and Tradewinds rose nine sen each to RM2.12 and RM9.17 while Genting Plantations added eight sen to RM8.28.

United Plantations fell 24 sen to RM25.92, Xiang Leng 16.5 sen to 13.5 sen while Shangri-La lost 15 sen to RM3.73 and MISC four sen lower to RM4.49.

Meanwhile, Maybank KE Research said in its technical outlook that while the KLCI gained 0.21 of a point to close at 1,637.34, its resistance level of 1,635 and 1,674 would cap market gains, whilst weaker support areas were at 1,602 and 1,630.

"The KLCI made a key all-time high of 1,699.68 on Jan 4, 2013. A spell of persistent price weakness will now emerge. Despite the US markets' mixed tone last night, we expect the local index to be weaker on heavy foreign liquidation activities," said the research house.


The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

No one injured after tyre bursts on KL Monorail train

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 07:21 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Swift action by a driver of the KL Monorail ensured the safety of the passengers after a rubber tyre burst on a Titiwangsa-bound train near the Chow Kit station on Tuesday.

Rizalman Rosli, 37, managed to bring the train, with over 160 passengers inside two coaches, to a halt in the 6.30pm incident.

Another train was dispatched to the scene, which stopped alongside the stranded train to allow the passengers, who included 103 women, 60 men and a child, to board.

The train proceeded to the Chow Kit station where the passengers got off at about 7.30pm. "The evacuation process went smoothly. The air-conditioning on the train was operational throughout the evacuation," said KL Monorail chief operating officer Abdul Hadi Amran.

Hadi said alternative transportation would be provided at the affected stations until the full service resumed.

The blown out tyre was repaired at the Chow Kit station before the train was "towed" to the depot.

Motorcyclist scoots off with two money bags

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 07:10 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: A motorcyclist helped himself to two bags containing RM540,000 as the security guards were busy transferring the money bags to a bank in Kelana Jaya.

Petaling Jaya police chief ACP Arjunaidi Mohamed said in the 2am incident on Tuesday, four guards were transferring several money bags from the van into the bank's premises while the driver was at his seat.

While this was going on, the motorcyclist rode by and picked up the two bags from the van and rode off.

"Preliminary investigations showed that the driver was unaware of the robbery.

"As the motorcyclist was fleeing with the loot, one of the staff realised what was happening and raised the alarm," ACP Arjunaidi told Bernama.

Police have detained all five guards, including the supervisor, who were tasked with delivering the cash.

They have not ruled out the possibility of an inside job.

"We are studying the CCTV in front of the bank and elsewhere to get leads," ACP Arjunaidi said.

He also appealed to anyone who had information on the robbery to contact any police station. - Bernama.

The Star Online still the favourite news portal

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 06:35 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: The Star Online ( is Malaysia's favourite online news portal with over 25 million page views last month, according to an online ranking by the Malaysian Digital Association.

Harian Metro Online ( came in second while the Utusan Malaysia Online portal ( was third.

Malaysiakini ( and the Malaysian Insider ( came in fourth and fifth spots respectively.

The Star Online is also ranked the fourth most visited local website, behind local buy-and-sell site, and topped the list with a total of over 355 million page views.

In the combined list of international and local websites most visited by Malaysians, social media site Facebook topped the ranking, followed by Google and YouTube.

The report said there were 34.8 million unique browsers on websites in Malaysia last month, a 25.2% increase compared with last November.

Over 1.6 billion webpages from websites in all categories were viewed last month, with 15.3% of it accessed using mobile devices.

The highest daily activity over the Internet was recorded on Dec 3, with nine million unique browsers collected.

This is 170% higher than the activity recorded on Dec 30, which had the lowest activity in the month.

The association is the representative body comprising digital publishers, advertising agencies, creative agencies and digital service providers.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Fifty Shades harder

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 02:37 AM PST

HARDCOVER first editions and paperbacks for the masses – that might be the established standard, but the Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy by E.L. James is travelling in the other direction, with 200,000 hardcover copies due for release today.

The Fifty Shades series first made waves in online form as an illicit tribute to Stephanie Meyer's Twilight novels, before its transformation into a bestselling paperback. So why produce a hardback edition now, after totting up 65 million sales worldwide without it?

Well, with Valentine's Day approaching, publisher Vintage hopes that the hardcovers will bring with them not only the allure of a collector's edition but also the prospect of becoming a gift for that special someone.

Certainly, the hardback has a different market in mind, trading at US$26 (RM79) instead of the US$10 (RM30) cover charge that a paperback or e-book version would ask.

Romantically minded gift-givers should also bear in mind that the Fifty Shades hardcover comes a day after the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice, for which an anniversary edition has, of course, been made available. – AFP Relaxnews


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Metro Watch

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 04:02 AM PST


There will be a temporary night lane closure, located immediately after the junction of Jalan Jejaka and Jalan Cheras, from Jan 29 to 31 starting from midnight to 6am to facilitate MRT works. For details, visit or, twitter @MRTMalaysia or twitter @MyMRT Underground or call 1-800-82-6868.


The SMART Highway will be closed to traffic on Jan 30 from 11pm till 6am the next day to facilitate routine maintenance to the motorway tunnel system. For enquiries, contact 1-300-88-7188.


Kelana Jaya Medical Centre with the National Blood Bank will be organising a blood donation drive at its premises on Feb 16 from 9am to 12.30pm. For details, call 03-7805 2111.


Experience "The Power of Coaching" organised by the Asia Pacific Institute of Coaching. Workshop starts from 8pm to 10pm on Jan 31 at Starbucks TTDI, Kuala Lumpur. Limited seats. For details, call 012-303 8311.


THE Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) has opened a mobile counter to facilitate assessment tax payment from Feb 16-17 and Feb 23-24 at Aeon (Jusco) Taman Equine from 11am to 8pm. MPSJ ratepayers can check, make enquiries and payment, print bills, update mailing address and apply for property transfer via the mobile counter. For details, call 03-8026 3286/ 3285/ 4317/ 4316/ 4314.


Beyond Petroleum will be giving a free lunchtime seminar on Jan 30 from noon to 2.30pm at Bankers Club, Level 22, AMODA Building, Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur. The seminar will be led by programme director StØre Nordgaard. For details, call 012-315 3246 (Nur Azida), 012-370 1246 (Dalila), 012-382 0823 (Alex) or 019-221 9024 (Shamini).


Take part in the "Some Of Us – S.O.S" charity campaign and donate food items for Jumble Station, a community project for the underprivileged at LG2 of Sunway Pyramid until Feb 24. Items needed are instant noodles, instant beverages, oats, milk powder, crackers, biscuits, cooking oil, salt, sugar, pasta and canned food. For details, call 03-7494 3035.


A free talk titled "Connection to Life Purpose" will be held on Feb 7, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Silva Method Malaysia, Mid Valley City. For details, call 03-2282 9939 or email or visit


Former Universiti Sains Malaysia student T. Balasubramaniam is organising a get-together for USM students and friends from all faculties in the 1970s. To be held at noon on Feb 3 at Kelab PJ. For details, call 03-7877 8714 (Narane) or 012-208 9544 (Bala).

Groupon Malaysia raises RM113,160 for Unicef’s polio vaccination drive

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 04:01 AM PST

IT WAS far from a 'silent night' at Groupon Malaysia's cheque presentation ceremony for the recently concluded 'Inspired Gift' fund-raising campaign held in collaboration with Unicef Malaysia.

"The elves at Groupon Malaysia and Unicef Malaysia cooked up something special last Christmas season to create greater awareness and support in polio vaccination for children. Once again, our valued subscribers answered the call and we raised RM113,160 for this noble cause," said Groupon Malaysia head of sales Rafiq Razali.

Through a special deal site hosted by Groupon from Dec 12 to 21 last year, 9,430 Malaysians demonstrated the inspiring strength of group action. Each contribution of RM12 for the campaign equated to 20 doses of oral polio vaccine, enough to fully vaccinate up to six children. The vaccine will be distributed by Unicef to those in need throughout the world.

Unicef's private sector fundraising and partnership chief Choon Bow Bow said that since the inception of the Global Polio Eradication initiative in 2011, spearheaded by Unicef, there has been a 99% decrease in polio but outbreaks of the deadly virus were still known to occur in Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chad, China and West Africa.

For details, visit

"While significant strides have been made in battling this deadly disease, we at Unicef are committed to providing support to communities for so long as the need continues to remain. To that end, we are grateful for the opportunity given by Groupon as it has empowered individuals to take action," said Choon.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

A pre-breakfast workout may burn more body fat

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 03:52 AM PST

If you're trying to lose weight, opt for a morning workout routine: researchers say that you can burn 20 percent more body fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach.

Researchers from Northumbria University in the UK recruited 12 active men to perform a bout of treadmill exercise at 10 am, after they had either eaten breakfast or not eaten anything since the evening before.

After the workout, all subjects drank a chocolate milkshake recovery drink. Then later in the day they ate a pasta lunch, where they were asked to eat until they felt "comfortably full."

Morning exercisers didn't consume additional calories to compensate for their earlier activity, and those who worked out in a fasted state burned almost 20 percent more fat compared to those who had eaten breakfast beforehand.

The findings are published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

A separate study announced last year suggests that a brisk morning workout may reduce your appetite throughout the day. Researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) in the US recruited 35 women in their study, with findings published in the October issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise - Relaxnews

Health apps abound, but usage low: study

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 03:41 AM PST

US consumers are being offered a cornucopia of smartphone apps to track or manage health, but only a small number of people are using them, according to a survey released Monday.

The Pew Research Center's study found that only about seven percent of people surveyed used a smartphone app to track a health indicator like weight, diet, exercise routine or to monitor a chronic disease such as diabetes.

"There's still a low uptake in terms of apps and technology," said lead researcher Susannah Fox.

"It is surprising. We've been looking at health apps since 2010, and health app uptake has been essentially flat for three years."

The research suggests that consumers are slow to latch on to smartphone technology for health even in a market with hundreds of new apps coming on the market to manage weight and track blood pressure, pregnancy, blood sugar, diabetes or medication.

"There's a proliferation of choices, and consumers are being faced with a food court of options," Fox told AFP.

"What we see is that consumers are losing their appetite." Fox said her research and other studies have shown that systematic tracking for health issues is helpful.

"People are reporting that tracking as an activity is having an impact," she said.

"But I can't make a judgment on whether it's better to use paper and pencil or an app."

The researchers found that 19 percent of smartphone owners have downloaded an app related to health, although these were not necessarily used for monitoring a specific health issue. Exercise, diet and weight features are the most popular types of health apps downloaded, the study found.

Some 38 per cent of health app users track their exercise, 31 percent monitor their diet and 12 percent use an app to manage their weight.

Around one in seven adults surveyed track a health indicator like weight, diet or exercise routine for themselves or another person. Roughly half of those tracking their health or symptoms said they keep track of progress "in their heads," with that 21 percent use some form of technology, which could include spreadsheet, medical device or app.

The study found that a third of all "trackers" share their data with someone else, most often a medical professional.

The survey found that a "notable number" of trackers with chronic conditions said they do not keep formal records."

Some 37 percent of people with two or more conditions said they memorize progress notes, as do 48 percent of those who are monitoring a single health issue. - Relaxnews

Loading up your day’s essentials with goodness from nature

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:49 PM PST

Protein is found in every single cell in the body. An important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood, high quality protein provides all of the essential amino acids needed by healthy adults and growing children. People who don't get enough of this important macronutrient will lack energy, and they will see their muscles and immune systems weaken.

To help people meet their daily protein needs, leading direct selling company Amway is introducing NUTRILITE™ All Plant Protein Powder which helps to load up your day's essentials by unlocking more goodness from nature. The unique tri-blend of soy, wheat and pea provides the right combination of proteins and amino acids to keep you feeling healthy and energetic, without animal products or dairy side effects.

"As one of the macronutrient foundations of a balanced diet, protein needs to be consumed each day to maintain health," says Gene Maly, Senior NUTRILITE Research Scientist. "Most people have difficulty consuming the recommended amount of protein in their diet, which is why adding a high quality protein source, like NUTRILITE All Plant Protein Powder, helps people give their bodies the fuel to power their cells, provide energy to their bodies, and with the recommended amount of 25 grams of soy protein per day, also helps to reduce cholesterol."

But most people associate protein with meat, poultry, eggs and dairy. In today's world, that isn't always what people want to hear. Many people want to incorporate as many plant-based options as they can into their diets.

A simple observation Many of the essential amino acids found in NUTRILITE's previous version of Protein Powder came from dairy, essentially from cows.

In the history of NUTRILITE, observing the diet of cows signified an "ah-ha" moment for its founder, Carl Rehnborg. After a return from China in the early nineteen hundreds he made a simple observation that the healthiest cows ate a diet of alfalfa and water -- they had shinier coats, they produced the most milk, and they gained the most weight. He realized that for cows to thrive, they needed the essential nutrients found in plants like alfalfa.

Today, NUTRILITE scientists have taken Carl Rehnborg's observation one step further by going back to the natural source, creating a plant-based protein powder that provides all of the essential amino acids people need in their diets to maintain cellular health throughout their body. This simple idea has resulted in NUTRILITE All Plant Protein Powder.

Protein keeps us feeling healthy by acting as a cell repair nutrient, it provides energy by producing hemoglobin – the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout our bodies, it builds lean muscle, and it supports the immune system by manufacturing antibodies, the substances that fight off illness.


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Pahang government to move families into new housing settlement

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 01:30 AM PST

KUANTAN: The state government is working towards resettling all squatters to permanent low-cost housing schemes as part of its long-term efforts to eradicate such colonies.

Pahang state secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Safian Ismail said for a start, a total of 22 squatter families residing along flood-prone Sungai Galing and Galing Besar would be relocated to Kampung Permatang Pak Mahat housing scheme.

Muhammad Safian said the families could move in to the new housing settlement comprising 832 units by the end of this month.

"They are required to pay RM125 a month as rental starting from February.

"Each unit has three rooms and two bathrooms, in addition to other facilities such as surau, shops, a community hall, a court and a library," he told a press conference here.

Muhammad Safian said priority was given to resettle squatters in state land and those badly affected by floods.

He said the local council would then move in to demolish the illegal structures within two weeks after they had shifted out.

"We would clean up the whole site and convert it into a public recreation area overseeing Sungai Galing.

"Our next target is to relocate eight other squatter settlements around Kuantan town involving 632 households in stages," he said, adding that 126 squatter families in Tanjung Api and the adjacent Tok Keramat would be the next batch to be shifted into the same housing scheme by the middle of this year.

On a separate matter, Muhammad Safian said the state government was in the midst of finalising a proposal to build a new administration centre for the state near Kota SAS in Indera Mahkota.

He said the project estimated to cost about RM400mil would take three and a half years to complete.

"Once finalised, we will submit the proposal to the Federal Government to seek an allocation," he said, adding that the project would only proceed if given the green light by the Federal Government.

Easing the burden of the needy

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 01:31 AM PST

KUANTAN: A group of deserving recipients were given RM100 cash vouchers each to purchase groceries and other basic necessities to lessen their burden.

The "Jom Shopping" initiative was mooted by Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh and Kuantan PKR service centre executive director Sim Chon Siang.

The 35 recipients spent about one hour in a shopping mall near Tanah Putih here assisted by staff and volunteers of the party in choosing items of their choices.

Fuziah said the allocation distributed was courtesy of several philanthropists.

She said the recipients were mostly single mothers and senior citizens from poor background.

"We would try our best to assist the poor regardless of race and religion.

"About two weeks ago, we launched the programme which saw 20 deserving Kuantan folks getting the cash vouchers," she said, adding that more recipients would be identified and given assistance in due course.

Fuziah urged more donors to come forward to support the party in assisting needy groups.

3,000 to receive BR1M in Teruntum

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 01:33 AM PST

KUANTAN: Recipients of the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) under the Teruntum state constituency will be receiving the financial aid on Feb 1.

Teruntum assemblyman Datuk Chang Hong Seong said more than 3,000 recipients who had submitted their applications for the aid would receive a notification to attend the presentation ceremony.

"Due to the large number of recipients involved, the presentation would be given out in four batches at the Sultan Ahmad Shah silver jubilee hall in Jalan Teluk Sisek.

"We hope the recipients would turn up according to the time stipulated to minimise waiting time," he said after presenting school aid to parents at SM Tengku Ampuan Afzan here.

Chang said those celebrating the coming Chinese New Year could utilise the allocation to purchase festive goods and help lessen their financial burden.

The second round of BR1M was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the tabling of budget last September.

On the school aid, he said the state government under Pahang Foundation also extended aid to the needy and those from poor family background.

"Students in Forms One, Four and Six who meet the criteria can apply for financial assistance from the foundation," he said.

Chang said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob was all for education and would expedite approval for all deserving cases regardless of race and religion.


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Guns 'n' Roses to rock F1 post-race concert

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 04:11 AM PST

IF there is one party to set your pulse racing, it is the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix 2013 post-race concert on March 24 in Sepang, Kuala Lumpur featuring legendary rock band Guns 'n' Roses.

Formed in Los Angeles in 1985, Guns 'n' Roses will topline the post-race party and make it a rocking 15th anniversary celebration for the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix.

It is also Guns 'n' Roses' first concert in Malaysia.

The Grammy award-winning Guns 'n' Roses, which has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, is best known for rock classics like 'Welcome To The Jungle', 'Sweet Child O' Mine', 'Paradise City', 'Patience', 'Don't Cry', 'Estranged' and 'November Rain'.

The band, now led by frontman Axl Rose, 50, has kept its major hits on the current tour playlist as well as newer songs such as 'Chinese Democracy', 'Better and 'This I Love.'

As the sole original member left in the band, Axl Rose is backed up by guitarists Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal, DJ Ashba and Richard Fortus, bassist and backing vocalist Tommy Stinson, drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardists and backing vocalists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman.

Guns 'n' Roses was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last April.

The band has included the Malaysian stop on March 24 as regional concert exclusive after its Australian tour in March. More details soon at (

New year, new Yuna

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 02:42 AM PST

THERE was not much fanfare surrounding Yuna's quick return to Malaysia recently. The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 18 and the very next day, she held an interview session with the media at Traders Hotel in the city.

"I'm feeling a bit jet-lagged. Tomorrow, I'll be holding a kenduri doa selamat (thanksgiving) to show appreciation for the recent Anugerah Juara Lagu 27 win for Best Song. (Singer) Aizat Amdan will be there too. Then, on Monday, I'll be flying back to the States," said Yuna.

Earlier this month, Aizat sang Yuna's song Terukir Di Bintang at the popular song contest awards in Kuala Lumpur.

Of course, as Yuna recently tweeted, she "can't be in two places at once" and she is no Mary Poppins.

But the 26-year-old hasn't forgotten about her fans here. She keeps them in the loop as much as possible.

In fact, her video updates and tweets are substantial enough to find out the mundane and exciting parts of Yuna's life. As we learn, she misses hanging out with her local bandmates and some home comforts (especially forgetting to pack some Nescafe!) for her Los Angeles pad but she is handling her hectic music career the best she can.

Stepping stone

Last year was a stepping stone phase for Yuna in the American music scene. Her self-titled debut album, released under the New York-based independent label Fader, made the rounds in the American music scene. One of her tracks on the album, Live Your Life, produced by Pharell Williams, also grabbed the hipster media headlines.

But that Fader deal was just a career taster. That contract ended late last year, and Yuna is ready for bigger things.

Yuna's successful stint in the United States continues with her signing with Verve Music Group early this month. The American jazz record label is currently headed by Grammy award-winning music producer David Foster. Some of Yuna's new labelmates include the likes of Diana Krall, Jamie Callum and Melody Gardot.

"David Foster is my new boss and he's a legend. He's someone who has worked with (the late) Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. I feel really happy and touched to be a new member of the Verve family," she added.

Just like Hong Kong star Karen Mok (who released her English language debut album under jazz label Decca Records in London this month), Yuna is also expected to attract more international attention and acclaim with this Verve label contract.

During her recent interview in Kuala Lumpur, Yuna said she's currently hard at work on tracks for her new album under Verve in Los Angeles.

"I'm working with a lot of different producers and in the midst of writing songs. Hopefully, I'll be able to work with David Foster on some material soon."

Dream come true

At present, Yuna is working on tracks with Incubus guitarist Mike Einzieger in the LA studio.

Of course, she has Malaysian fans to thank for making that dream collaboration come true.

"It happened when I did a cover version of one of Incubus' songs, I Miss You. When Mike was in Malaysia for a concert, fans told him about it. He saw the cover and then reached out to me saying, let's work together!" she revealed.

Yuna added it's amazing to be able to work with Einzieger.

"I think it's really cool going from a fan to like being a friend of Mike's. It's the same kind of feeling I get from working with (music producer/Hujan guitarist) AG Coco. I knew him as part of the band Hujan. It's awesome to be a part of a creative collaboration with people I look up to."

Yuna hinted that her new album will feature unique (Asian) musical arrangements.

"I'm taking a different approach to the musical arrangements in my next album. There will be elements of traditional Malay instruments like the gambus. For example, for this song called I Wanna Go, I put a lot of percussive kompang-inspired beats to it. I also want to try incorporating the sound of the sitar in other songs."

Besides her upcoming album, fans can also anticipate the release of a new single and music video under Samsung's Galaxy Wonderland project. The project invites Malaysians to contribute ideas and illustrations that will inspire Yuna's next single. The creative collaboration will see Yuna teaming up with music video director Quek Shio Chuan (who previously directed her award-winning video Sparkle) and long-time collaborator AG Coco.

"I get inspired by the entries that were sent in and I want it to be a song about home."

Yuna explained that despite spending most of her time abroad for work, she will always be a Malaysian girl at heart.

Being true to oneself

"When I'm overseas, that is when I'm more in touch with myself as a Malaysian. I see the world as a Malaysian, and I always think, 'Oh, we don't normally do that. In Malaysia, we eat that instead'. I think about what I feel about home when I'm away. The song that I'm writing (for the Samsung GALAXY Wonderland Project) is going to be about missing home and being true to yourself. It's telling people that no matter where you go, you'll remember who you are and never forget your roots."

Yuna added the new single and video for the Samsung Galaxy Wonderland Project will be ready in February.

She also assured fans that her next album under Verve Music Group will be available before her next trip home.

"Hopefully, (the album will be out) in June or July. AG and me will be releasing a Malay single here. I'm working hard now so that I can come back home for Hari Raya."

Starting Fresh

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 01:27 AM PST

Dia Leif Frampton or known simply as Dia, first made her foray into the music industry when she formed the band Meg and Dia with her sister, Meg Frampton.

The inevitable question she often gets asked is, if she is in any way related to the singer Peter Frampton, to which her answer is a resounding, no.

The 25-year-old lass from Draper, Utah, was in Malaysia as part of her Asian tour to promote her first solo album Red, released after she became runner-up in the inaugural season of the American reality talent show The Voice.

At a press conference, Dia spoke about fighting her way to becoming a recognised singer and offered advice to aspiring musicians.

"I think Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are such great social media networks that are available to people. I think that's partly the reason why I'm here; I'm able to tweet and tell people where I'm performing, but it's also a bad thing because a lot of people get stuck posting video clips in Facebook and YouTube when the most important thing is performing in front of an audience. Go play at your local bar, go play at your cousin's birthday party, sing in front of an audience, practice being nervous, I think that's really important."

Dia had the most humblest of beginnings in her journey to becoming a singer. "I started in a very unglamorous way. At the age of nine and 10 I was playing almost every month at any old folks' home. I'd go during lunch time and I would sing for 30 minutes and I always sang older songs because they were people in their 60s and 70s. And then I'd sing in rodeos and county fairs where there would be 60 people watching. I was about 17 when I went on my first real tour. We slept in parking lots and on park benches."

Cocoon, an album by her band Meg and Dia, proved to be the catalyst for her participation in The Voice. She admits her sole objective for taking part in the reality show was to promote the album. However, Cocoon received a lukewarm response in comparison with her solo album Red, which she released after her performance in The Voice.

Although Meg and Dia have been singing since they were kids, Meg has decided to break away to concentrate on her online jewellery company but the two remain close. "I saw her for Christmas and Thanksgiving. I invited her to join me on this tour but she had college classes."

Being on her own and traveling has given Dia the opportunity to find herself. "I've always been in (Meg's) shadows, not in a sad way because I do look up to her a lot. She's been such an influence in my life. But now that she's not with me I have to rely on myself and it has forced me to become more solid in my convictions."

She says that taking part in The Voice has allowed her to work with producers, songwriters and singers she has looked up to for many years. Working with her coach, country super star Blake Shelton was a thrill she says, crediting him for her getting this far.

What does the future hold for Dia Fampton? An album for sure. "I'm taking things day by day," she says. "There are so many things going on at the same time and there are so many things I want to do. The only thing I can do every day is wake up and try to figure out what I can do to make that day the most beneficial. How do I get the most of time for that day."


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