Khamis, 7 Februari 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

China, Japan engage in new invective over disputed isles

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 10:32 PM PST

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and Japan engaged on Friday in a fresh round of invective over military movements near a disputed group of uninhabited islands, fuelling tension that for months has bedevilled relations between the Asian powers.

An increasingly muscular China has been repeatedly at odds with others in the region over rival claims to small clusters of islands, most recently with fellow economic giant Japan which accused a Chinese navy vessel of locking radar normally used to aim weapons on a Japanese naval ship in the East China Sea.

China's Defence Ministry rejected Japan's complaint about the radar, its first comment on the January 30 incident. It said Japan's intrusive tracking of Chinese vessels was the "root cause" of the renewed tension.

A Japanese official dismissed the Chinese explanation for incident saying China's actions could be dangerous in the waters around the islets, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, believed to be rich in oil and gas.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led his conservative party to a landslide election victory in December, promising to beef up the military and stand tough in territorial disputes.

On Thursday, another border problem was brought into focus when Japan said two Russian fighter jets briefly entered its air space near long-disputed northern islands, prompting Japan to scramble combat fighters. Russia denied the accusation.

The commander of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific said the squabble between Japan and China underlined the pressing need for rules to prevent such incidents turning into serious conflict.

"What we need in the South China Sea is a mechanism that prevents us turning our diplomacy over to young majors and young (naval) commanders ... to make decisions at sea that cause a problem (that escalates) into a military conflict that we might not be able to control," Admiral Samuel Locklear told a conference in the Indonesian capital.

China is in dispute with several Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines and Vietnam over parts of the South China Sea, which is potentially rich in natural resources.

Locklear said governments and their leaders had to understand the potential for things to get out of hand.

"In this case, I think that point has been made pretty clear," he said in reference to international reaction to the dispute between China and Japan.


China's Defence Ministry, in a faxed statement late on Thursday, said Japan's complaints did not "match the facts". The Chinese ship's radar, it said, had maintained regular alerting operations and the ship "did not use fire control radar".

The ministry said the Chinese ship was tracked by a Japanese destroyer during routine training exercises. Fire control radar pinpoints the location of a target for missiles or shells and its use can be considered a step short of actual firing.

Japan, the ministry said, had "made irresponsible remarks that hyped up a so-called China threat, recklessly created tension and misled international public opinion".

"Japanese warships and airplanes have often conducted long periods of close-range tracking and surveillance of China's naval ships and airplanes," the Chinese Defence Ministry said.

"This is the root cause of air and maritime security issues between China and Japan."

In Tokyo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Japan could not accept China's explanation and Japan's accusation came after careful analysis.

"We urge China to take sincere measures to prevent dangerous actions which could cause a contingency situation," Suga said.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said this week that the radar incident could have become very dangerous very quickly, and it could have been seen as a threat of military force under U.N. rules.

Hopes had been rising recently for an easing of the tension, which was sparked, in part, by Japan's nationalisation of three of the privately owned islets last September.

Fears that encounters between aircraft and ships could bring an unintended clash have given impetus to efforts to improve links, including a possible summit between Abe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who takes over as head of state in March.

(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg in TOKYO, Joathan Thatcher in JAKARTA; Editing by Ron Popeski and Robert Birsel)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Dozens missing as Bangladesh ferry sinks

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 10:03 PM PST

DHAKA (Reuters) - A ferry carrying more than 50 people sank on Bangladesh's giant Meghna River on Friday after colliding with a sand barge and dozens were missing, officials said.

About half the passengers managed to swim ashore and a search had been launched, said Mohammad Saiful Hassan Badal, administrator of Munshiganj district, where the accident happened.

The Meghna River is one of three rivers that form the Ganges Delta.

Survivors said the ferry was carrying around 100 people. District officials said it was not overloaded.

Unregulated and overcrowded ferries often run in to trouble on low-lying Bangladesh's extensive network of rivers. Hundreds of people are killed in accidents every year despite government vows to crack down on unlicensed operators.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

New England to bear brunt of powerful blizzard

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 09:25 PM PST

BOSTON (Reuters) - New England braced on Thursday for a possibly record-setting winter storm, with forecasts of up to 2 feet (60 cm) of snow already causing airlines to cancel thousands of flights and utilities to prepare for power outages.

The storm was blowing in from the Midwest where it began dropping snow on the Chicago area on Thursday afternoon. It was due to bring light snow to the Northeastern United States on Friday morning before ramping up to blizzard conditions by afternoon.

In Boston, which was expected to see some of the heaviest snowfall, Mayor Thomas Menino ordered the city's schools to close on Friday and urged businesses to consider allowing staff to stay home, to reduce the risk of commuters getting stranded.

"We are hardy New Englanders, let me tell you, and used to these types of storms. But I also want to remind everyone to use common sense and stay off the streets of our city. Basically, stay home," Menino told reporters. "Stay put after noontime tomorrow."

City officials up and down the northeastern United States were bracing for the storm, readying fleets of plows and salt trucks to keep streets clear, while airport officials advised travellers to try to reschedule flights ahead of the storm.

The National Weather Service said Boston could get 18 to 24 inches of snow (45 to 60 cm) on Friday and Saturday, its first heavy snowfall in two years. Light snow is expected to begin falling around 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT) on Friday, with heavier snow and winds gusting as high as 60 to 75 miles per hour (95 to 120 km per hour) as the day progresses.

"It's the afternoon rush-hour time frame into the evening and overnight when the height of the storm will be," said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Cities from Hartford, Connecticut, to Portland, Maine, expected to see at least a foot of snow.

Airlines have already cancelled more than 2,200 flights planned for Friday, according to the website, with the largest number of cancellations at airports in Newark, New York, Chicago and Boston.

Nearly 500 flights have been cancelled for Saturday, according to the flight-tracking site.

Officials at airports across the region warned travellers to expect more delays and cancellations on Friday.


Shelves at many stores were picked clean of food and storm-related supplies such as shovels and snowblowers as residents scrambled to prepare.

Jackie Hooper, a florist from Brighton, Massachusetts, said she had a hard time finding salt to melt ice from the sidewalk outside her home.

Hooper said she had been hired to provide flowers for a wedding on Saturday, but that the storm may derail those plans.

"We've stocked up on flowers, but we don't know what's going to happen with the reception รข— they may cancel it, they may not," she said. "How sad is that?"

By Thursday afternoon the storm had begun to make its way through the Midwest, with the first traces of snow falling in Chicago.

In New York, forecasts called for 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of snow. Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters he hoped that he hoped the forecasters were "exaggerating," but noted that the city would nonetheless have snow removal crews ready to act.

Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said power outages were a top worry.

"It being winter, folks losing their power means they're also losing their heat, and if you lose heat during the middle of the storm, you're not going to be able to go out to get to a shelter," he said.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Lovering and Tim McLaughlin in Boston, and Colleen Jenkins in North Carolina; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Leslie Gevirtz, Bob Burgdorfer and Lisa Shumaker)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

12yr old kid charged for 'swatting' prank on Ashton Kutcher

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 10:02 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Prosecutors charged a 12-year-old boy on Thursday with making a false emergency call that sent police swarming to the home of actor Ashton Kutcher in a "swatting" prank.

The name of the boy, who was arrested by Los Angeles police in December, was withheld due to his age. He was scheduled to be arraigned in a juvenile court in Los Angeles on Friday.

The trend toward placing false emergency calls is known as "swatting" because SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) officers often are sent to the purported crime scenes. Authorities say such situations can be dangerous due to the risk of a misunderstanding between police and occupants of a building.

The boy has been charged with two felony counts each of making false bomb threats and computer intrusion in connection with the 3 October emergency call that drew police to the Hollywood Hills home of Kutcher, star of the sitcom Two And A Half Men, and a similar call on October 10 that sent police to a Wells Fargo Bank.

Authorities have accused the boy of having reported men armed with guns and explosives in Kutcher's home and that several people had been shot. Dozens of emergency personnel were sent to the house. Kutcher was not home at the time.

Swatting calls in recent months have also sent police to the homes of singers Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.

TV dramas are nothing without writers

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 06:37 AM PST

Our favourite TV characters owe more to the unsung behind-the-scenes heroes — the writers — than we realise.

OFTEN, we identify a television show with its cast and the characters they play. Claire Danes and Damian Lewis (and their characters, Carrie Mathison and Nicholas Brody), for example, are what comes to mind when we think of spy-thriller Homeland and James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano), as contemptible as his character may be, is THE face of The Sopranos.

But the truth is, TV dramas would be nothing without their writers. There would be no Carrie or Nicholas without show creators Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and their team, nor would the Soprano clan exist if not for David Chase, Terence Winter and their team of about a dozen scribes.

For the most part, these writers remain nameless and faceless. There are the exceptional few like JJ Abrams (creator/writer of series like Alias, Lost and Fringe) and Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal) whose successful shows made them well known in turn.

But we often don't see the talented writers who back them up – those who actually provide the dialogue, sustain the story and shape the characters we know and love.

As much as they seem real and relatable, TV characters aren't real. They are the result of random events, emotions and impulses that are thrown together by this group of men and women who huddle together in a room, exchanging thoughts, ideas, life stories, secrets and gossip. The sum of this exchange – which takes place in what is dubbed "the writers room" – results in some of the best shows on TV. Well, and also some of the not-so-successful ones.

"Every show you have seen on TV gets its start in the writers room," says Adele Lim, a Malaysian writer who has written for popular American dramas like Private Practice, Life On Mars and One Tree Hill.

"The writers room is where an idea is developed into a complete story. It's where the writers pitch their ideas ... where writers spend 90% of their time. It's partly brainstorming, partly story collaboration and also partly a group therapy session because, really, the best stories have their roots in personal experience.

"There is a lot of sharing intimate details of what we've each been through. I know a lot of personal stories and intimate details about most (of the) writers I work with ... things even their wives and husbands don't know. We're talking about experiments with drugs, fantasies, affairs, brushes with the law … things we don't usually share with anyone, we end up talking about in the writers room.

"Sure, you go in thinking that you are not going to share details of your own stories. But let me tell you this: after being in a room with the same people every day, for hours and hours, for many months … you're going to be telling them everything!" says Lim, with a laugh.

The 35-year-old was recently in Malaysia to visit her family. A former columnist with The Star, she readily agreed to speak on the subject of screenwriting for television dramas to an audience comprising writers and budding writers while she was back on holiday.

During the session, which was open to the public, Lim shared her story of how she broke into TV writing. She also spoke about the role of writers in television, offering insight into the industry which is not common knowledge.

The pecking order

"In America, TV writers run the show," she says. The writers room typically has between four and 12 writers, each at different levels – you have the executive producer, co-executive producer, producer, co-producer, executive story editor, story editor, staff writer and writers' assistant. The titles are misleading … essentially, everyone is a writer.

"A writer is always involved in some level of production. The titles are based on the level of experience and pay grade. The main person running the show is the show runner (who) is responsible for (its) creative direction," she explains.

Lim got her start in TV writing in the late 1990s when she applied for the position of writers' assistant for the fantasy adventure series Xena: Warrior Princess.

"You can get in (the industry) through all kinds of ways. You may come out of college with an amazing (writing) sample and get work immediately but generally in TV, you move up the ranks by first being a writers' assistant. I got very lucky. I got my 'in' pretty early, as a writers' assistant for Xena, which, though a rather ridiculous show, was very well written.

"I applied for the position after seeing an ad in a trade magazine. It was a miracle that I got the job because my resume was nonexistent. I later found out that the executive producer who interviewed me had a 'thing' for Asian girls and that's how I landed the position! No, no ... he was really very nice and didn't try anything with me although there was a string of Asian-sounding girls calling the office asking for him!

"I didn't become a writer for that show but it's gave me my 'in'. The writers on the show were all very helpful … they helped me with my writing samples and also helped me get representation which then landed me my first writing job. (On John Doe, starring Prison Break's Dominic Purcell, which ran from 2002-2003.)

"Newbies don't generally send their material out to shows; they have to have an agent. And it isn't easy getting an agent… you generally have to be recommended by others and the way you do this is by first becoming a writers' assistant," she shared.

Paying your dues

A writers' assistant's duties are wide-ranging: from note-taking (writing down detailed notes for the writers as they discuss and break down story ideas) to acting as a personal assistant, fixing appointments, answering phone calls and doing coffee runs.

"An assistant's job is really good training. Sure, you will have to run around and perhaps organise your boss' cat's acupuncture session and pick up his dry cleaning but, more importantly, you get to learn all about the craft and how the process works. You are in the room where all stories get discussed, taking notes as the ideas are broken down.

"You basically learn everything ... so that when you do get your first job as a writer, you're not an idiot. You already know how everything works," says Lim.

While getting a foot in the door is tough enough, staying in the industry is equally hard.

"Many writers don't stay because they don't do well in the writers room. 90% of the game is survival and being able to make it from year to year. I've been very lucky and I have been able to get on shows every year. The key is building good relationships. When a show runner is putting a writers room together, he (or she) will tend to hire writers they are sure of to work on the show … people they have worked with before. Which is why it is important to have a good reputation and to be easy to work with," she says.

A writer's longevity also depends on their ability to write seamlessly to someone else's vision and work the rigours of production where a new script is required to be written and ready to be shot every five to seven days (this is including the many re-writes).

"People don't think about the production schedule when they are watching a show. The schedule is relentless! You have to shoot a new episode every seven or eight days and this schedule keeps on going regardless of whether the script is ready.

"Sometimes, the writers get stuck on a story and can't figure their way out … and this is why you find that even in the best series, you have a few episodes in a season that are just so-so … that don't completely make sense.

"It's not because the writers don't care but it's because we literally run out of time and have to put something together because the episode has to run. Sometimes, the script isn't all ready when shooting begins and the writers give the cast a few pages of the script while completing the rest! Often, this occurs when something unforeseen happens. It's not ideal but a few episodes will be sub-par," Lim explains.

Her advice for aspiring writers who hope to break into TV writing is to "keep at it".

"If you are a writer who really loves what you do, keep writing. If you stick with it, have good material and build a good reputation, you will continue to work. Writing is a creative endeavour and you have to trust your instincts and write from your heart in order to make a good show.

"Having said that, TV shows are about what people want and sometimes, people don't always know what they want. You've got to give them something new and see if it works. But you must have faith in yourself."

Dear Lil Kev

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 06:40 AM PST

WALKING around the Red FM office, we stumbled upon JJ's laptop. He's the new DJ on The Red Breakfast WTF! show. There was a page left open and it was an e-mail he had written to his on-air partner, Lil Kev.

We thought we would be sneaky and share it with the world. (Note: Annae is older brother in Tamil.) Also, we hear there may be a reply from Lil Kev soon on

For more information, log on to Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page on and follow us on Twitter @iloveredfm. Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

Red FM's station frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1FM, Georgetown and Seberang Perai: 107.6FM, Ipoh, Perak: 106.4FM, Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9FM, Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6FM, Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9FM, Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8FM


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Wong Kar Wai martial arts epic opens 63rd Berlinale

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 02:36 AM PST

BERLIN: The 63rd Berlin film festival opens Thursday with a gala screening of Chinese director Wong Kar Wai's martial arts epic about the mentor of kung fu superstar Bruce Lee.

Wong, who is also leading the Berlinale's jury this year, is using the event as a launch pad for the worldwide release of "The Grandmaster", which has opened in China to rave reviews and a box office bonanza.

The film, whose original two-hours-plus length has been chopped slightly for the world market, stars Hong Kong heart-throb Tony Leung, who became an international star in Wong's 2000 hit "In the Mood for Love", and Beijing-born star Zhang Ziyi ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon").

Wong "has added a new and exciting facet to his body of work, and created an artful, visually powerful genre film," festival director Dieter Kosslick said.

The film spans several decades of Chinese history to tell the story of legendary martial artist Yip Man, who went on to train Lee, and features dazzling battle scenes between rival fighters.

Wong, 54, told reporters in Beijing last month he was confident the movie, which is screening out of competition at the 11-day Berlinale, had global appeal.

"There is no such thing as a Western or Eastern audience... The elements of cinema are the same worldwide, although their expression is different," he said.

The film follows Leung as the Grandmaster through some of China's most tumultuous recent history including the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.

It spent nearly a decade in gestation, amid rumours of extensive re-shooting and injured actors.

Wong made his international breakthrough in 1994 with "Chungking Express" and was the first Chinese director to sit on the jury at Cannes.

He will head the panel handing out the Berlinale's Golden and Silver Bear top prizes among 19 contenders on February 16.

The first major European film festival of the year and traditionally its most politically minded, the Berlinale this year is showcasing pictures about the human impact of the West's economic crisis, two decades of upheaval in eastern Europe as well as a fresh releases from US independent directors.

Matt Damon teams up with US director Gus Van Sant for the first time since their 1997 Oscar winner "Good Will Hunting" in "Promised Land", as a fracking firm executive pressuring cash-strapped farmers to sell their property.

Steven Soderbergh will enter the running with "Side Effects", billed as his last movie before he heads into semi-retirement, featuring Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones as psychiatrists handing out drugs to stressed-out Americans.

The grandes dames of French cinema Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche will all be unveiling new work.

And Poland's Malgoska Szumowska, one of three women vying for the Golden Bear, will tackle the tale of a gay Roman Catholic priest with the keenly awaited "In the Name of".

Iran's Jafar Panahi, a director who has scooped up international prizes for socially critical movies that are banned at home, will present "Closed Curtain" about two fugitives hiding from the police.

Oscar-winning Bosnian film-maker Danis Tanovic ("No Man's Land") returns with "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker", exposing the wretched conditions in a poor and isolated Roma community.

Last year the Golden Bear went to Italian veterans Paolo and Vittorio Taviani for the docudrama "Caesar Must Die" about prison inmates staging Shakespeare.

With more than 400 films due to screen at the festival, much of the buzz is expected to come from beyond the race for the key prizes.

"Dark Blood", the last film with River Phoenix, the US rising star who died of a drug overdose at 23 two decades ago, will show out of competition, as will Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy's final chapter in their slow-burn romantic trilogy, "Before Midnight" by Richard Linklater. - AFP


Posted: 07 Feb 2013 01:32 AM PST

Taiwanese entertainer Show Lo spills the beans on his role in Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons.

THE next time Stephen Chow says he'll meet you for a drink, you'd better believe it. Taiwanese singer, dancer and actor extraordinaire Show Lo was told not to get his hopes up when he met the legendary actor at an event last year.

"I saw Stephen Chow and being a long-time fan, I called out to him! I just wanted to say hello. Then he said, 'You know what; next time we should sit down and have a chat over coffee'," said Lo during an exclusive interview at the Le Meridien hotel in Taipei, Taiwan recently. The 33-year-old entertainer, dubbed Asia's Dance King, also recalled his colleague telling him to pretty much forget about it.

"My colleague said, usually when someone says, 'next time'; it means there won't be a next time," he said with a laugh. To Lo's surprise, he received a phone call from Chow and the two met over coffee to discuss a possible film role.

"To be honest, I was still trying to get over the fact that Stephen Chow actually called and said he wanted to meet me. During our first meeting, I wasn't really listening to anything he said because I was starstruck!

"When Lo made this admission, 50-year old Chow was sitting just right next to him, smiling at how earnest he was about their first proper meeting. "I just kept staring at the way Chow spoke because he talks exactly like how he does in his movies! And then he said something about appearing in his next movie project, and I immediately agreed, without even carefully listening to what he said."

Lo can be seen in Chow's upcoming Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons. The action-comedy flick, written, produced and directed by Chow, revolves around the adventures of an amateur demon hunter in a time when ancient China is plagued by supernatural beings. The film is, of course, an adaptation of one of the most popular classical novels in Chinese literature.

There is much anticipation surrounding Chow's first directorial effort in five years (CJ7 in 2008 being the last time Chow directed and appeared on-screen). The film also stars Chinese actor Wen Zhang, Hong Kong screen siren Shu Qi and award-winning Taiwanese actor Huang Bo.

For Lo, who plays Prince Important; being in a movie with other big names in Asian cinema was a humbling experience.

"My role was very small compared to the role these guys played." In his trademark comedic dead-pan, Chow quickly added; "You were involved in a big fight scene at the end! And you had the opportunity to act with four 'pretty' ladies. You should feel privileged, and everyone was jealous, okay."

Chow's remark got Lo laughing. For those who have yet to watch the movie, let's just say 'pretty' doesn't even begin to describe what the ladies really looked like.

The chemistry between Chow and Lo was obvious. Despite this being their first collaboration, they played off each other like how old friends would.

Jokes aside, Lo said there was a lot of pressure for him to avoid playing his character the way Chow would. He also hasn't had a feature film role since 2001's Expect A Miracle.

"I had to tell myself to not 'act' like Stephen Chow or imitate his style. I didn't want to end up being a poor imitation of him, so much so, I stopped myself from watching his movies for awhile."

The character Lo plays is an expert demon hunter who is also vain and can't seem to get a break with the ladies, a far cry from Lo's public persona as the smooth talker with killer dance moves. Chow was full of praise for the way Lo played his role.

"I think Lo is a good actor. In each take, he portrays his character in different styles."

Then Lo said; "Most of the time, whatever Stephen Chow asked me to do, I tried to do something else. As the director, Chow gave us a lot of space and freedom to improvise from the script."

What Lo didn't know was that Chow had intended to play the character himself.

"There is a certain trait about Prince Important that I can relate to. Then I met Lo, and he just seemed like a better person to play that role."

Chow also mentioned that he wanted to focus more on directing, instead. For long-time fans who feel they've missed out on another opportunity to catch Chow on the big screen, he assures fans that Lo fits the role perfectly.

"You want to know what makes me laugh? There (pointing at Lo), he makes me laugh."

> Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons opens nationwide today. Look out for more stories in Saturday's Star2.

'Hitman' to return to cinemas with Paul Walker

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 01:28 AM PST has revealed that Fast And Furious star Paul Walker will replace Timothy Olymphant as the professional assassin who is the star of the Hitman video games.

Five years after the first adaptation by Xavier Gens, agent 47 is getting ready to return to the big screen.

This time, Fox studios have chosen Paul Walker to play the bald assassin who is the product of genetic experiments. The character was seen on a PC for the first time in 2000.

Filming on the movie, which will be called Agent 47, should begin next June. Ad director Aleksander Bach will direct the movie which will be set in Berlin and Singapore.

Paul Walker will join the rest of the production team at the end of the summer once he has finished the international promotion of The Fast And Furious 6.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Green tea and red wine may help fight Alzheimer's disease

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 10:41 PM PST

Green tea and red wine have been touted as being heart healthy and a possible weapon against cancer, now new evidence shows that compounds in both may help fend off Alzheimer's disease.

University of Leeds researchers have found that natural chemicals -- EGCG in green tea and resveratrol in red wine -- may disrupt a key step of the Alzheimer's disease pathway.

Researchers were able to interrupt a process that allows harmful clumps of proteins to latch onto brain cells using purified extracts of EGCG and resveratrol.

"This is an important step in increasing our understanding of the cause and progression of Alzheimer's disease," says lead researcher Professor Nigel Hooper. "It's a misconception that Alzheimer's is a natural part of aging; it's a disease that we believe can ultimately be cured through finding new opportunities for drug targets like this."

The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. - Relaxnews

Fitness success: The missing piece of your weight loss puzzle

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 08:40 PM PST

When it comes to weight loss (fat loss) and fitness, people focus almost exclusively on nutrition and working hard in the gym. However, they nearly always neglect the other side of the coin that makes it all possible — recovery and stress management. People who are frustrated with their results look at activities like breathing and stretching as a complete waste of time. After all if it's not hard, how can it help?

Let's talk about how.

The limiting factor in how hard (intensely) you can even work in the gym is your recovery. Results — especially fat-loss results — require intense work, and without a mind to recovery this becomes less and less possible over time. Ignoring recovery is like driving a car without ever going to a gas station: You can push the gas pedal hard for a limited amount of time, but eventually you're going to be broke down and stuck.

Recovery comes down to just a few things: nutrition, rest, stress management, and repeatable workouts.

1. Nutrition: It's a given. There's plenty of information out there.

2. Rest: Getting enough quality sleep can literally double your fat-loss results (without changing your diet and exercise plan) because of the positive effect that this has on your hormones.

3. Stress: When it comes to fat-loss, hormones run the show. How you manage your stress has a huge role to play in whether your body works with you or against you in the quest for lasting weight loss (fat-loss).

One of the most fascinating studies on relaxation was done in 2010. In this study a group of obese women were able to reduce their body fat by three full points in one month just by doing deep breathing exercises. The researchers found huge improvements in various stress hormones during this same month.

Breathing is one of the simplest and most powerful tools that you have at your disposal to manage your stress and tension levels.

It's important to remember that relaxing is not just some mental or emotional thing that happens independent of the body. The reason people drink coffee (into the body) is because it improves how the mind works. They're not separate. This is just like when you almost get into an accident on the way home from work — that's a mental experience, but it has a huge impact on your body that you can see with your heart pounding and hands shaking.

High stress all of the time makes for very difficult fat-loss for most people. (There are the exceptions of those who tend to get too thin when under high levels of stress, but most of us get too fat.) Your breathing is one of the best and easiest tools for managing your stress levels and helping your body get leaner and healthier.

4. Repeatable workouts: You can't repeatedly push yourself to your actual limits. If you push to 100 percent on Monday, you will not be able to repeat that on Wednesday. For some people, you might not be able to repeat that 100 percent workout for a month. One awesome workout a month is not a very effective training programme!

Once you get past 30, draining yourself in the gym sets up an impossible recovery task for your body. In general work at 70 percent, 80 percent with the occasional 90 percent thrown in for fun, and your workouts will leave you continuously looking and feeling better.


1. Train, don't drain: Working out should make you feel better, not leave you feeling like a truck hit you. Regular, repeatable workouts that allow you to improve will lead to the greatest results over the longest period of time. Don't exceed your capacity to recover by working yourself into the ground.

2. Take five: Take a five minute relaxation/breathing break once a day. Lying face down (or face up if needed) for slow, deep breathing that starts in your abdomen not your chest and shoulders is an incredible fat-loss booster that also increases alertness and mood, and helps most people get better sleep.

3. Hormones run the show: Use good nutrition, smart exercise and good recovery to get your body to work with you instead of against you in your quest for lasting fat-loss and fitness. You already know how hard it is to fight your body. - McClatchy-Tribune

Breakfast refuels a kid's brain: study

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 08:32 PM PST

A new study finds that children who eat breakfast every day scored significantly higher on a range of IQ tests, suggesting that the first meal of the day "refuels" a child's brain, scientists say.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing examined data on 1,269 six-year-old children in China who performed a series of IQ tests.

Children who often skipped breakfast scored 5.58 points lower on verbal, 2.50 points lower on performance, and 4.6 points lower on total IQ scores than kids who ate breakfast almost or always. The researchers controlled for socio-demographic factors as well.

"Childhood is a critical period in which dietary and lifestyle patterns are initiated, and these habits can have important immediate and long-term implications," says lead author Dr. Jianghong-Liu, associate professor at Penn Nursing.

"Breakfast habits appear to be no exception, and irregular breakfast eating has already been associated with a number of unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, frequent alcohol use, and infrequent exercise."

At six years old, a child's verbal and performance levels are rapidly developing, and both the nutritional and social aspects of breakfast play key roles. The meal not only refuels their brain, the scientists say, but chatting with their parents during the meal expands their vocabulary and verbal skills.

Adults do well to eat their breakfast too. A study last year found that breakfast-skippers tend to weigh more and have other unhealthy habits, such as consuming too many sugary drinks or high-calories snacks. That study was presented last summer at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2012 Annual Meeting & Food Expo. - Relaxnews


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PSY: Looking funny is a serious issue for me

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 01:16 AM PST

KOREA (Reuters) -- Pop sensation PSY revealed what he has been up to ahead of releasing the follow-up tune to his world smash-hit Gangnam Style. The singer opened up about the much-awaited tune and its dance, plus the most-anticipated music video to local reporters en route to Los Angeles at Incheon Airport in Korea on 5 February.

During an unexpected two-day break at his hometown PSY caught up with his choreography team and discussed what would follow the horse-riding dance.

He mentioned it would not be a sports-themed dance in a previous interview with reporters.

"The music video is likely to be the most essential part of the next song project. This must be how director Kang Woo-suk felt when he was making Two Cops 2 [the hit comedy movie whose original movie scored a huge success in 1993 in Korea]," said PSY.

"It'll be all over when I hear that Gangnam Style can't hold a candle to the new song," the 36-year-old singer continued, "I'm taking the issue of looking funny very seriously indeed.

"I wonder whether there will be times like last year again in my life. People say it must be stressful and yes, it is. It gets more stressful when I try not to get stressed," he said about his insanely tight schedule around the globe last year. During the upcoming Lunar New Year's Day holiday, the pop star will again be busy at the 2013 Rio Carnival in Brazil and the event here in Malaysia.

US singer back in court for alleged sentence breach

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 10:53 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: A judge ordered a probation report Wednesday into allegations that US singer Chris Brown has breached the terms of a sentence imposed for his notorious 2009 assault on then girlfriend Rihanna.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin said Brown must appear in court again on April 5, and ordered him to contact his probation officer within 48 hours, following the prosecution allegations this week.

The R&B singer was sentenced to five years of probation, a year-long domestic violence program and 180 days of community service after assaulting Rihanna on the eve of the 2009 Grammys.

A photo of Rihanna's bruised face triggered shock and anger at the singer. Although he remains on probation, Brown had been repeatedly praised by the judge for complying with the terms of his sentence.

But in court papers filed Tuesday, prosecutors claimed that the singer had failed to complete the community labor as ordered, and was in fact elsewhere on some of the dates he claimed to be carrying out his sentence.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Murray cited "significant discrepancies" and "sloppy documentation" in reports about the 23-year-old's reported community labor work in his native Virginia.

Brown and Rihanna were photographed being clearly intimate and affectionate with each other in public last month, at an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks in Los Angeles.

The Grammys, the music industry's biggest awards showcase, are scheduled to take place Sunday at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. -AFP

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Rihanna attends boyfriend Brown's community service hearing

Rihanna attends boyfriend Brown's community service hearing

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 10:53 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday ordered a new report on singer Chris Brown's community service after prosecutors said he cut corners while fulfilling work requirements imposed after his 2009 assault on girlfriend Rihanna.

Rihanna accompanied Brown, 23, to court in a show of support for the man who pleaded guilty to punching and beating her four years ago. The couple have recently rekindled their romance.

Brown is serving five years probation and last year was deemed to have completed 180 days of community service and domestic violence counseling.

During Wednesday's brief hearing, Brown sat expressionless with his hands folded in a dark sport coat. Rihanna sat behind him dressed in a white top and black pants.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin ordered Brown to meet with his probation officer to address claims by prosecutors that his community service records contain "significant discrepancies, indicating, at best, sloppy documentation and, at worst, fraudulent reporting."

The "Don't Wake Me Up" singer was ordered back to court on April 5 at which time Brandlin will set a date for another hearing on whether to revoke his probation.

Brown's community service involved tasks like cutting grass, picking up trash and removing graffiti. He was allowed to complete it in his home state of Virginia.

This week Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Mary Murray accused Virginia authorities of poor management of the singer's service and records and said his community service case should be transferred to Los Angeles.

Outside court, Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos, accused the District Attorney's office of persecuting Brown.

"I've ... never, ever had a client that has been tortured by a DA's office on probation like Chris Brown has," he said. -Reuters

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US singer back in court for alleged sentence breach


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MCA stays strong despite DAP’s claim of getting support from the Chinese community

Posted: 06 Feb 2013 05:26 PM PST

BENTONG: The DAP's claim of getting support from 90% of the Chinese community will not dampen the MCA's spirit to continue to serve the people well.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said MCA had always banked on good services to win the people over, and also to counter the DAP's tactic of tarnishing the party's image.

"Let them (DAP) continue to talk and lie.

"We (MCA) must be always confident and never give up fighting for the future of the people and country," Dr Chua said during the Pahang MCA 64th anniversary celebrations at Dataran Bentong in Bentong last Sunday.

While the Barisan Nasional and MCA are not perfect, Dr Chua said the people would not be easily misled by DAP's tactics of inciting anger and hate towards the ruling coalition.

Contrary to DAP's claim that MCA would wind up after the last general election, more than 80,000 people had joined MCA since then till last year, he said, adding that only 985 MCA members left the party within that period.

"This shows that the people still harbour hopes on MCA," he said.

MCA, the second largest Barisan component party, only retained 46 parliamentry and state seats in the last elections against 107 in 2004.

Dr Chua said the people's response to MCA's determination and sincerity to serve them had resulted in encouraging response.

Apart from that, he said the people were also aware that political and social stability in the country was the foundation that must never be compromised.

Dr Chua pointed out that the foundation was not by accident, but a result of Barisan's ability to create and maintain a harmonious multi-ethnic society for more than five decades.

"The foundation can be fragile if we do not make a conscious effort to protect it," he cautioned.

Dr Chua said politicising each and every issue would not find solutions to the problems.

While Barisan was aware of issues that needed to be resolved and taking steps to do so, the MCA president said the coalition needed the people's support to do so.

Dr Chua said the country's economy had been able to flourish because a stable government could boost investor confidence.

He said a good and strong economy would enable the Government to continue the implementation of projects that benefit the people.

Dr Chua said facts and figures were the best proof of the country's performance, pointing out that the country's foreign direct investment was RM34bil in 2011 against RM5bil in 2009.

He was confident that the good performance would continue, and be even better, when Barisan under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's leadership is returned to power with a bigger mandate this coming elections. With elections expected to be held anytime now, Dr Chua advised MCA grassroots leaders to intensify their efforts to reach out to the people on the ground with sincerity and humility.

He believed the people could feel the difference and recipocrate accordingly.

Sungai Melaka rehabilitation and beautification project continues

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 01:33 AM PST

MALACCA: The Natural Resources and Environmental Ministry has allocated RM285mil to spearhead the second phase of the Sungai Melaka rehabilitation and beautification project.

The project that commenced in 2011 as part of extending the river cruise passage to cover more sites is expected to be completed by 2014.

Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas who took a tour along the river to evaluate the project revealed that the water quality along the second phase would also be improved.

"With the success of the first phase that covers from the tip of the rivermouth to Hang Tuah bridge, we are optimistic that the second parcel would meet our desired standards," he said, adding that the first phase of the project witnessed the construction of two new jetties and an archway across the river.

Uggah Embas said phase one of the project had brought about numerous advantages to the state government in terms of prospering its tourism industry.

He revealed that the second parcel was also executed with the same aim and also to improve the water quality of the river while turning the project into a most sought after tourism product.

Apart from that, Uggah Embas said the second phase would also see the debut of water taxis in Malacca.

He said the location of the second phase would start at the Hang Jebat bridge up to the Tidal Control Gate at Batu Hampar, covering 5.2km.

Uggah Embas said the consecutive phase would be divided into three main work packages, where the first would cover a 2.4km waterway from the Hang Jebat bridge to the Tun Razak bridge, followed by 1.2km from the Tun Razak bridge to the Melaka Sentral bridge, and the final package from the Melaka Sentral bridge to the Tidal Control Gate that stretches for 1.6km.

He said the three packages had been awarded through an open tender, where the work scopes include, deepening the depth of the river, constructing walls and walkways along the river, landscapes, three water taxi stations at Taman Rempah and Jusco AEON, building unique bridges and beautifying the corridors of the river.

"Once the project is completed, we expect the water quality of Sungai Melaka to improve from class 111 barometer to class 11B by the year 2015.

"The project would see a 50% increase in the arrival of tourists to Malacca, to generate more revenue for the state government," he added.


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