Jumaat, 15 Mac 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.S. drone strikes violate Pakistan's sovereignty - U.N.

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 08:04 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States has violated Pakistan's sovereignty and shattered tribal structures with unmanned drone strikes in its counterterrorism operations near the Afghan border, a U.N. human rights investigator said in a statement on Friday.

The United Nations logo is displayed on a door at U.N. headquarters in New York February 26, 2011. REUTERS/ Joshua Lott

The United Nations logo is displayed on a door at U.N. headquarters in New York February 26, 2011. REUTERS/ Joshua Lott

U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, visited Pakistan for three days this week as part of his investigation into the civilian impact of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killings.

"As a matter of international law, the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan is ... being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate Government of the State," Emmerson said in a statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

"It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty," he said.

Emmerson said in January he would investigate 25 drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. He is expected to present his final report to the U.N. General Assembly in October.

Washington had little to say about Emmerson's statement.

"We've seen his press release. I'm obviously not going to speak about classified information here," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. "We have a strong ongoing counterterrorism dialogue with Pakistan and that will continue."

Spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House would withhold judgment until it sees Emmerson's full report.

"We have a solid working relationship with them (Pakistan) on a range of issues, including a close cooperative security relationship, and we're in touch with them on a regular basis on those issues."


Emmerson said the Pashtun tribes of north-western Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, Pakistan's largely lawless region bordering Afghanistan, have been decimated by the counterterrorism operations.

"These proud and independent people have been self-governing for generations, and have a rich tribal history that has been too little understood in the West," he said. "Their tribal structures have been broken down by the military campaign in FATA and by the use of drones in particular."

The tribal areas have never been fully integrated into Pakistan's administrative, economic or judicial system. They are dominated by ethnic Pashtun tribes, some of which have sheltered and supported militants over decades of conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Clearing out militant border sanctuaries is seen by Washington as crucial to bringing stability to Afghanistan, particularly as the U.S.-led combat mission ends in 2014.

Most, but not all, attacks with unmanned aerial vehicles have been by the United States. Britain and Israel have also used them, and dozens of other countries are believed to possess the technology.

"It is time for the international community to heed the concerns of Pakistan, and give the next democratically elected government of Pakistan the space, support and assistance it needs to deliver a lasting peace on its own territory without forcible military interference by other states," Emmerson said.

The U.N. Human Rights Council asked Emmerson to start an investigation of the drone attacks following requests by countries including Pakistan, Russia and China.

Criticism of drone strikes centres on the number of civilians killed and the fact that they are launched across sovereign states' borders so frequently, far more than conventional attacks by piloted aircraft.

Retired U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, who devised the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, warned in January against overusing drones, which have provoked angry demonstrations in Pakistan.

Civilian casualties from drone strikes have angered local populations and created tension between the United States and Pakistan and Afghanistan. Washington has sought to portray civilian casualties as minimal, but groups collecting data on these attacks say they have killed hundreds of civilians.

(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.N. body agrees on women's rights policy, skirting sexual politics

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 07:31 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. policy-making body agreed upon a declaration Friday urging an end to violence against women and girls despite concerns from conservative Muslim countries and the Vatican about references to women's sexual and reproductive rights.

Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of United Nations (UN) Women Michelle Bachelet (C) of Chile dances with women upon her arrival at Ushafa pottery village during an official visit to Nigeria's capital Abuja January 11, 2013. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of United Nations (UN) Women Michelle Bachelet (C) of Chile dances with women upon her arrival at Ushafa pottery village during an official visit to Nigeria's capital Abuja January 11, 2013. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, Nigeria and Sudan, along with Honduras and the Vatican, expressed reservations about the declaration of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, but did not block adoption of the 18-page text.

While the declaration of the commission, created in 1946 for the advancement of women, is non-binding, diplomats and rights activists say it carries enough global weight to pressure countries to improve the lives of women and girls.

"People worldwide expected action, and we didn't fail them. Yes, we did it," Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile and head of U.N. Women, which supports the commission, told delegates on Friday after two weeks on negotiations on the text.

Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women's Health Coalition, said the declaration was a victory for women and girls, but could have gone further to recognize violence faced by lesbians and transgender people.

"Governments have agreed to take concrete steps to end violence," she said. "For the first time, they agreed to make sure that women who have been raped can get critical health care services, like emergency contraception and safe abortion."

Earlier in the talks Iran, Russia, the Vatican and others had threatened to derail the declaration with concerns about references such as access to emergency contraception, abortion and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, activists said.

A proposed amendment by Egypt, that would have allowed states to avoid implementing the declaration if they clashed with national laws, religious or cultural values, failed. Some diplomats said it would have undermined the whole document.

But on Friday, Egypt's delegation said it would not stand in the way of the declaration for the sake of women's empowerment. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Islamists had warned on Thursday that the declaration could destroy society.


The United States welcomed the declaration but lamented that references were not made to lesbian and transgender women and that the term "intimate partner violence" was not used to capture the range of relationships in which abuse can happen.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice last week boasted that all 50 U.S. states have laws treating date rape or spousal rape as equal to that of rape by a stranger. In contrast Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood decried the idea of allowing women to prosecute their husbands for rape or sexual harassment.

Last year, disagreements over sexual and reproductive rights issues prevented the commission from agreeing upon a declaration of a theme of empowering rural women. The commission was also unable to reach a deal a decade ago when it last focused on the theme of ending violence against women and girls.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said states now had a responsibility to turn the 2013 declaration into reality.

"Violence against women is a heinous human rights violation, global menace, a public health threat and a moral outrage," Ban said in a statement. "No matter where she lives, no matter what her culture, no matter what her society, every woman and girl is entitled to live free of fear."

Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig said the declaration was balanced and strong. "It sends a much-needed message to the women around the world: your rights are crucial," he posted on Twitter (@GermanyUN)

The full declaration of the Commission on the Status of Women can be seen at: www.unwomen.org

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kerry voices conditional U.S. support for U.N. arms treaty

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 07:29 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced support on Friday for an international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global arms trade, but restated Washington's "red line," affirming that it would not accept limits on U.S. domestic gun ownership.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to U.S. embassy staff in Doha, March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to U.S. embassy staff in Doha, March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/Pool

The U.N. General Assembly voted in December to hold a final round of negotiations from March 18 to 28 on what could become the first international treaty to regulate international weapons transfers after a drafting conference in July 2012 collapsed because the United States and others wanted more time.

Arms control campaigners say one person every minute dies worldwide as a result of armed violence and that a convention is needed to prevent the unregulated and illicit flow of weapons into conflict zones fuelling wars and atrocities.

"The United States is steadfast in its commitment to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that helps address the adverse effects of the international arms trade on global peace and stability," Kerry said in a statement.

"An effective treaty that recognizes that each nation must tailor and enforce its own national export and import control mechanisms can generate the participation of a broad majority of states, help stem the illicit flow of conventional arms across international borders and have important humanitarian benefits."

But he repeated that the United States - the world's No. 1 arms manufacturer - would not accept any treaty that imposed new limits on U.S. citizens' right to bear arms, a sensitive political issue in the United States.

"We will not support any treaty that would be inconsistent with U.S. law and the rights of American citizens under our Constitution, including the Second Amendment," he said.

"International conventional arms trade is, and will continue to be, a legitimate commercial activity," he said, adding that countries should work to prevent arms from reaching those who commit "the world's worst crimes, including those involving terrorism and serious human rights violations."

The point of the treaty is to set standards for all cross-border transfers of any type of conventional weapon - light and heavy. It would also set binding requirements for nations to review all cross-border arms contracts to ensure the munitions are not used in human rights abuses, do not violate embargoes and are not illegally diverted.


The leading U.S. pro-gun group, the National Rifle Association, has vowed to fight the treaty, dismissing suggestions that a December U.S. school shooting massacre in Connecticut bolstered the case for such a pact.

If a treaty is approved, it will require ratification by countries' legislatures before it goes into effect. The NRA has warned the arms trade treaty would undermine the right to bear arms and says it will fight hard to prevent ratification if the Obama administration supports the treaty.

Backers of the treaty accuse the NRA of deceiving the U.S. public about the pact, which they say will have no impact on domestic gun ownership and would apply only to exports.

Some 150 countries will participate in the negotiations that begin on Monday at U.N. headquarters.

Human rights groups and other advocates of the treaty welcomed Kerry's statement.

"While the U.S. government reaffirms its red line on the Second Amendment, it did not issue any new red lines or demands on the international community," said Frank Jannuzi of Amnesty International. "We hope that this means that they will lead the next round (of negotiations) to consensus."

Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, said Kerry's remarks were a "long overdue positive statement that makes it clear the administration is dedicated to pursuing a robust treaty."

He added that it was positive Kerry did not raise the issue of ammunition, something the United States had previously demanded be excluded from the treaty. Supporters of a tough treaty in Europe and elsewhere insist on including it.

Last month, U.S. National Security Council deputy spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Washington would continue to oppose the inclusion of ammunition in the draft treaty.

"Ammunition is a fundamentally different commodity than conventional arms," Hayden said. "It is fungible, consumable, reloadable, and cannot be marked in any practical way that would permit it to be tracked or traced."

A U.S. official told Reuters on Friday that Washington's position against including ammunition had not changed.

(Editing by Todd Eastham and Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Golf: Choi and Scott charge but Stefani keeps US PGA lead

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 07:10 PM PDT

PALM HARBOR, Florida: Australia's Adam Scott and South Korea's K.J. Choi charged into contention on Friday at the US PGA Tampa Bay Championship, but US rookie Shawn Stefani clung to the lead after 36 holes.

Choi opened with an eagle on his way to firing a four-under par 67 while Scott fired a bogey-free 66, but Stefani's 70 was enough to keep him ahead on seven-under par 135 after the second round at the $5.5 million event.

Scott and Choi shared second on 136 with Americans Brian Harman, Harris English, Jason Dufner and Peter Tomasulo another stroke off the pace and Spain's Sergio Garcia and American Tag Ridings sharing eighth on 138.

Choi, who won the Tampa Bay title in 2002 and 2006, followed his stellar start with a birdie at the sixth but stumbled with a bogey at the par-3 eighth.

Birdies at the par-5 11th and par-3 13th and 15th holes lifted Choi into a share of the lead, but a bogey at the par-4 16th dropped him back as he bids for his first US tour triumph since the 2011 Players Championship.

"This course is very comfortable for me," Choi said.

Scott, coming off a share of third last week at Doral, birdied all four par-5 holes on the Innisbrook Copperhead layout - the first, fifth, 11th and 14th - and birdied the par-3 fourth as well.

"To go bogey-free anywhere is good," Scott said. "Here is particularly good. It is quite a tricky golf course and mistakes are easily made."

Scott, who made bogeys on the last four holes to fall to Ernie Els at last year's British Open, last won a US event at the World Golf Championships event at Firestone Country Club in 2011.

Stefani, who has not cracked the top 35 at a PGA event, birdied the sixth hole, took a bogey at seven, then answered with a birdie at the eighth. After starting the back nine with a bogey, he birdied the 15th and parred in.

"The lead is one thing but leading on the weekend is another," Stefani said. "I just wanted to go out there and play golf and hit each shot the best I could and really have some fun. That's really what I did. I really had a lot of fun out there, even though I didn't really play my best."

South Africa's George Coetzee, Australian Greg Chalmers and American Ben Kohles shared 10th on 139 with England's Brian Davis and Aussie Mark Leishman among nine others on 140. - AFP

Olympics: TV-friendly squash right for Games, says president

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 07:07 PM PDT

PARIS: Squash's evolution as a TV-friendly sport, played against some of the world's most dramatic backdrops, should serve it well in its bid to become an Olympic sport in 2020, its federation president told AFP on Friday.

Squash lost out to rugby sevens and golf in the campaign to replace baseball and softball for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But the World Squash Federation (WSF), under the presidency of India's Narayana Ramachandran, has implemented revolutionary changes which have boosted its attraction for the global television viewer.

This aspect had already weighed heavily on IOC members' minds when they came to vote in 2009.

However, Ramachandran, who was elected to the post in 2008, told AFP he and the federation had learnt from the previous candidacy and, having consulted with IOC members after the 2009 decision, had taken steps to fine-tune this new bid.

"It is totally different to two to three years ago," he said, speaking by phone from London.

"There are all glass courts, glass floors, under-floor lighting, we have Hawkeye like in cricket and tennis, reviews by referees and slow motion replays.

"In short we have more broadcast experience and our own specialised team that goes from event to event. We can say that our sport has the highest broadcast quality."

Ramachandran said another benefit of squash was its inexpensiveness and that it can be played at some spectaular sites.

Tournaments over the past few years have been played in iconic locations such as The Pyramids, Grand Central Station and alongside Hong Kong Harbour in front of IOC members.

"All we need is two courts which can be set up in iconic locations at whichever bid city wins the right to host the 2020 Games. So, for instance, it could be near the Blue Mosque in Istanbul," he said.

"We will only have 64 competitors - 32 men and women, and 20 officials. So it is very economical."

Squash, which appears at every other major multi-sport event, from the Asian Games to the Commonwealth Games, has truly become a global sport, said Ramachandran.

"Anyone can pick up a racquet and a ball and hit it against a wall," he said.

"We now have tournaments as far afield as Paraguay and China. There have been world champions from all five continental federations and thus it is a sport that offers genuine medal prospects to a whole host of countries.

"In terms of prize money we are moving towards equality for both men and women."

Squash is in competition with six other sports bidding for inclusion plus wrestling, which was recommended to be excluded by the IOC's 15 member Executive Board in February.

All eight sports will make presentations to the Executive Board at a meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, at the end of May.

They will then vote and could recommend up to three sports.

The final decision as to which of the sports appear at the 2020 Games will be put to a vote of all IOC members at their Congress in Buenos Aires in early September. - AFP

Del Potro upsets Murray to reach Indian Wells semis

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 07:02 PM PDT

INDIAN WELLS, California: Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro upset World No. 3 Andy Murray 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Indian Wells Masters.

Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, beat reigning US Open champion Murray for just the second time in seven meetings and booked a clash with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for a place in the final.

Djokovic earlier remained unbeaten in 2013 with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The defeat means Murray will have to wait longer for a chance to overtake Roger Federer for the second spot in the world rankings.

Murray could have risen to No. 2 for the second time in his career by reaching the final here after Federer bowed out in the quarter-finals.

But the Scot was undone by eight double faults, the last coming on match point to bring things to a close after two hours and 32 minutes. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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Eye on stock

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 04:40 PM PDT

RIMBUNAN Sawit Bhd attempted to resume the rally two months after peaking out temporarily at an all-time high of RM1.22 on Feb 20 last year, but momentum fizzled out at the RM1.16-level on lack of buying conviction.

Subsequently, prices retreated and after spending several months in the doldrums, the stock made another move to advance. Again, the effort was futile, as the upward thrust once again punctured at the RM1.16 barrier.

Thereafter, shares were on the downtrend, which saw prices touching a 16-month low of 72 sen on March 1 before rebounding marginally on renewed bargain-hunting interest.

This stock hit to a high of 78 sen during intra-day session yesterday. Based on the daily chart, Rimbunan Sawit appeared to have found the bottom and is currently in the midst of building up the pace for recovery. But further observation is needed before we could confirm the trend ahead.

Technically, the daily slow-stochastic momentum index had indicated a tentative curving up sign from the mid-range.

Likewise, the 14-day relative strength index improved marginally from a reading of 42 on Thursday to end at the 64 point-level yesterday.

Elsewhere, the daily moving average convergence/divergence histogram expanded positively against the signal line. It had issued a buy call on March 6. Indicators are looking better, implying prices may firm in the short term.

Initial resistance is envisaged at the 50-day simple moving average (SMA) of 79 sen. The next upper hurdle is resting at the 84-sen line, also the 100-day SMA, of which a clear penetration would signal a bullish reversal, en route to challenge the greater resistance of 93.5 sen.

Important support is pegged at the recent ebb of 72 sen, of which a crack would signal a downtrend continuation.

> The comments above do not represent a recommendation to buy or sell.

Cautious approach

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 04:36 PM PDT

REVIEW: Wall Street's iconic indicator, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, added another 67.58 points to settle at a new record of 14.397.07 the previous Friday on optimism the world's largest economy was on a solid mending path following the release of payrolls data.

In spite of the bullish ambiance, stocks on Bursa Malaysia kicked off the week on the negative side, with the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KL Composite Index (FBM KLCI) shedding 1.64 points to 1,652.32 in early deals, as investors took the excuse of a mixed performance in regional markets and the growing overbought condition to book gains after the recent climb.

However, the pullback was cushioned by sporadic foreign accumulation in certain blue chips and consequently, the local bourse was kept within a narrow range on consolidation.

Apparently, that was the trend until the late hour where fresh buying emerged suddenly from the sidelines, bidding up the quality issues and helped stocks changing directions.

At the close, the key index eked out a slight gain of four points to 1,657.96 in mixed note Monday.

Risky assets in the United States extended their rally, taking the Dow to another fresh peak of 14,447.29, up 50.22 points, aided by signs of improvement in the US economy.

On the back of the positive setting, many people had expected stocks across the Asia-Pacific to follow suit the next day but in an unprecedented move, they were either little changed or on the slide on concerns about China after economic figures came in below expectations.

Though the FBM KLCI jumped to a high of 1,664.39 in early business, reacting to the strong performance in Wall Street overnight, the lacklustre showing in regional bourses weighed on the local sentiment, prompting investors to sell into strength.

In the wake of profit-taking activity, the local bourse surrendered early advances to settle down 1.42 points to 1,656.54 on Tuesday.

Overnight Dow continued to set new record following the recent major breakout but it failed to bolster Asian shares, including Bursa Malaysia once again, as the upward thrust in the United States showed signs of losing momentum.

With sellers leading the market, the FBM KLCI succumbed to tremendous stress to retreat, shedding 10.32 points to 1.646.22 in mid-week.

Thereafter, profit-taking activity dominated the floor, with quality issues continuing to suffer amid lack of compelling leads on the horizon.

In sluggish trade, Bursa Malaysia eased 5.48 points to 1,640.74 on Thursday and an extra 13.10 points to 1,627.64 on extended correction yesterday.

Statistics: On a weekly basis, the major index slumped 26.32 points, or 1.6% to 1.627.64, against 1,653.96 at the close on March 8.

Turnover for the regular week amounted to 4.317 billion units worth RM9.142bil, compared with 4.530 billion shares valued at RM8.327bil changed hands previously.

Technical indicators: After triggering a short-term sell at the top, the oscillator per cent K and the oscillator per cent D of the daily slow-stochastic momentum index continued to weaken, ending at the 18% and 37% level respectively.

Similarly, the 14-day relative strength index pulled back to the mid-range after peaking out at the overbought reading of 80 points on Monday.

Though the daily moving average convergence/divergence (MACD) histogram retained the buy signal, it had indicated a tentative topping out pictogram.

Weekly indicators deteriorated slightly, with the slow-stochastic momentum index keeping the buy and the weekly MACD resuming the downward expansion against the weekly trigger line.

Outlook: Despite overnight Wall Street breaking records almost on a daily basis, Bursa Malaysia plunged into correction mode, as investors opted to take profit rather than bidding stocks the past week.

Prior to this, the local bourse has been on an uptrend and just when the landscape is shaping up nicely and the outlook appearing promising, following the recent multiple bullish breakouts and various positive crosses of the moving averages, a fresh bout of liquidation emerged to hit the market.

As we can see, Bursa Malaysia is pretty fragile and based on the daily chart, the unexpected selling, especially in the mid-week, has dragged the FBM KLCI out of the existing upward channel to the downside.

Theoretically, the latest development does not bode well for the market, going forward, and hence, investors are advised to take a cautious approach in the short-term.

Technically, indicators are weakening, implying the local bourse may extend the correction this week, unless fresh catalyst emerges.

Initial resistance is now at the 1,665 points, followed by the all-time high of 1,699.68 points or the 1,700-point psychological barrier.

The immediate support floor has been lowered to the 1,597-1,600-point level.

Adex soars on pre-election spending

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 04:35 PM PDT

THE high 24.4% jump in media advertising expenditure (adex) last month was within expectations and can be attributed to pre-election spending, according to industry experts.

"The adex growth in its majority is attributed to the pre-election spending, and only a few advertisers trying to launch and promote their campaigns before the election period," says Omnicom Media Group (OMG) managing director Andreas Vogiatzakis.

"Having said all this, we also believe that by looking at first-quarter adex, we should not decipher the entire year's trend from that, as the first quarter definitely looks optimistic due to the upcoming general election," he adds.

Vogiatzakis says there has yet to be any increase in ad spend by local political parties.

"Political parties have yet to see encouraging spending mainly because the political motive ads are now driven by the Government (the Prime Minister's Department particularly), contributing RM50.8mil or 6% to total adex in January."

According to market research firm Nielsen, the PM's Department's adex soared 2,600% in the first two months against the same period a year ago. The PM's Department ranked number one among all advertisers and 1Malaysia For Youth was at 9th rung.

Besides the Government, advertising for passenger cars above 2,000cc also saw a big growth, with spending doubling.

While the retail market was "still holding its momentum," Vogiatzakis, citing Nielsen's Confidence Index, notes that Malaysians' confidence dwindled two points from 105 in the third quarter of 2012 to 103 in the following quarter.

"This is partly due to the heightened political climax and it may get better or worse depending on the result of the election. Hence, it is not surprising if such sentiment will prompt a more cautionary approach among the advertisers. Having said that, this will likely be cushioned by spending from the Government or ruling parties as they will be all out to win votes."

A media analyst also concurs that adex in February was boosted by pre-election initiatives.

"With the impending election, many awareness campaigns were initiated in the early part of this year," he says.

Total adex in February rose 24.4% to RM792.06mil compared with RM636.82mil in February a year earlier, according to Nielsen's data.

Adex growth during the month was led by pay television, radio and free-to-air television (see table).

Newspapers still continued to command the lion's share of total ad spend, accounting for 33.3% of total adex in February.

Year-to-date February 2013, total adex, excluding Internet ad spend, grew 21.3% to RM1.7bil from RM1.4bil a year earlier.

During the two-month period, the product/service categories with the highest ad spend were local government institutions, mobile line services, women's facial care, fast-food outlets, and tonics and vitamins.

Vogiatzakis says he foresees adex trending upwards in the near term.

"We continue to foresee growth in the first quarter, mainly on the election and government spends. Advertisers (in general) will likely take a more cautionary approach until after the election. Barring other non-spending related factors (increase in channel monitoring, etc), we predict first quarter adex to surpass RM3bil this year, compared with RM2.3bil last year.

"Also, Nielsen will not be able to capture the full growth momentum as some mediums are not monitored.

"YouTube advertising is increasing - by looking at the huge amount of advertising during the Chinese New Year period and with the expected general election in March, for example."

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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Syndicate selling subsidised gas at lower prices busted

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 08:56 AM PDT

SEMENYIH: A syndicate that stole subsidised liquid petroleum gas and sold it to industrial companies at lower prices was crippled on Friday by a joint operation by Domestic Trade Ministry, Co-operatives and Consumerism and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The syndicate had been operating in a rented factory at Kampung Sungai Purun, Jalan Bangi, Semenyih here for the past six months.

Ministry deputy director of enforcement (development) Datuk Iskandar Halim Sulaiman said they raided the premises at about 4.45pm.

He said officers from the ministry and MACC had been observing of the syndicate's activities for almost three months before the raid.

They also arrested 16 local workers including a supervisor and a 15-year-old boy.

"We also seized 1,500 14kg gas cylinders and 200 50kg gas cylinder," he said adding that all the 50kg cylinders and 400 14kg cylinders were filled with gas.

Investigation revealed that the syndicate would buy the subsidised 14kg gas cylinder illegally from wholesalers before decanting it into the 50kg cylinder.

They would sell it to companies at a lower price as a 50kg cylinder gas would cost about RM130 and is not being subsidised by the Government.

"The syndicate can easily make RM1mil in this illegal activity as it is getting the gas at cheaper price," he added.

Lahad Datu: Azzimudie has fled and left his men behind, says Armed Forces chief

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 07:16 AM PDT

Published: Friday March 15, 2013 MYT 9:58:00 PM
Updated: Friday March 15, 2013 MYT 10:16:21 PM

KOTA KINABALU: Sulu terrorist group leader Azzimudie Kiram has fled to his native southern Philippines, Armed Forces chief Tan Sri Jeneral Zulkifeli Mohd Zin said.

He said security forces had come to this conclusion after vetting through information received and intelligence.

"Azzimudie has abandoned his men and fled to his homeland," Zulkifeli said in a joint media conference here with Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar late Friday.

Ismail said feedback from security forces commanders on the ground had also indicated that Azzimudie was no longer with his men.

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Tourist, cabbie in bloody brawl over high fare

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 06:48 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: A tourist here lost his cool and allegedly punched a taxi driver who quoted him an exorborant fare for a short-distance ride.

Witnesses said the incident occurred around 11.15am Friday near Jalan Alor, off Jalan Bukit Bintang, as the foreigner in his 40s was waiting outside a hotel near the area.

"He had asked about five taxis earlier to drive him to a certain location. But all of them refused to use the meter and were asking him to pay a high fare.

"When he reached the sixth taxi, he must have already been angry by then and when the taxi driver asked for a similar exorborant fee, he started shouting explicit language at the driver.

"The driver shouted back at him and got punched in the face," said a witness who declined to be identified.

The 51 year-old-taxi driver, furious at being punched twice in the face, got out of his cab, pulled out a small stick and hit the foreigner on the head.

This led to a full-blown brawl between the two that bystanders were powerless to stop.

The foreigner also grabbed a rock and smashed the back window and side mirror of the taxi.

DBKL enforcement officers and policemen arrived at the scene soon after to break up the fight.

Both men were left bloodied from the multiple injuries they suffered on their bodies, head and hands.

The tourist was taken to the Tun H.S. Lee police station for questioning and the taxi driver lodged a report on the matter.

City CID chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ku Chin Wah said the matter would investigated further.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Fiery fact and fiction

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 01:34 AM PDT

Newton's Fire
Author: Will Adams
Publisher: Harper, 502 pages

IF you are a fan of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, then Newton's Fire will be your cup of tea.

Historian Luke Hayward is at an all-time low point in his life after having been black-balled from academia for some supposedly ill-judged opinions.

So when a friend offers him a job that would require Luke to delve deeper into the subject of his career, Sir Isaac Newton, he quickly accepts. But when he discovers some hidden Newton papers alluding to an ancient conspiracy, Luke's life takes a turn for the worse, as he finds himself accused of murder and on the run not only from the police but a mysterious global organisation.

Luke now has to uncover a secret that survived the Great Fire of London and lies buried beneath major historical sites like St Paul's Cathedral and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Also, after it is militant Jewish priest Avram Kohen who wants to spark a worldwide holy war and rebuild old Jerusalem. And Kohen has the backing of powerful men from around the globe on his side.

The story weaves through Sir Issac's real history and includes his friendships with the great Englishmen of his era the likes of Sir Christopher Wren and John Evelyn; author Will Adams adds further authenticity by basing his premise on the fact that Newton did indeed make a prediction about Armageddon occurring in 2060 and was fascinated by the occult.

Architecture fans will also discover fascinating facts about the origins of certain significant British monuments. Another discovery those who aren't familiar with Newton will make is that the great thinker is believed to have been autistic – and Adams deals with the subject compassionately in this novel.

The plot interweaves pricelessly rich British history with fictional additions, all the while solving mind-bending puzzles and codes. While it might seem similar to Da Vinci's Code, Newton's Fire differs in how it jumps straight into the action; Brown's story took a while to get going, if you remember. Also, I feel Luke and the woman who ends up helping him, Rachel, are more realistic and believable characters. Both are good Samaritans trying to help people but who find themselves pushed to the fringes of their chosen careers in the process.

The research is well done, with details of Newton's lesser-known history at the Royal Mint explained as well as his obsession with alchemy. There are a number of twists in this story rich with history, which they make you want to get to the end as soon as possible to find out how it all turns out. In other words, Newton's Fire is one good read that will make you want to burn through it as soon as possible. (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun!)

Dealing with depression

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 01:32 AM PDT

A young adult novel takes on a subject that affects all ages.

Lovely, Dark And Deep
Author: Amy McNamara
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 342 pages

WHETHER it is a story about the sole survivor of a three-car pile up or an article about a man who was too ill to go to his office in the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001, do you wonder what goes through a person's mind at having escaped such situations? Do they feel gratitude or disbelief? Or do they feel guilty at being spared when others weren't?

In the young adult novel Lovely, Dark And Deep, we are introduced to Wren. Through her eyes we witness just how debilitating survivor's guilt can be.

Our story starts with Mamie, or Wren as she now calls herself, having left Mamie behind in her "old life", reminiscing about the events that have brought her to where she is in this point in her life, the events being a breakup with her boyfriend and his subsequent death in a car accident that she survived. The reason for Wren's guilt is not apparent at first, you just know she somehow feels responsible when she says "be careful what you wish for".

Her mode of coping with his death involves hiding out in her father's art studio in the woods instead of heading off to college as originally planned. Friends, family, and anyone else for that matter, are farthest from her mind as she gradually retreats further and further into her own thoughts.

Unlike so many other books where boy meets girl at some point in chapter three, in Lovely, Dark And Deep, Wren meets Cal very early on. A relationship is the last thing Wren wants but something about Cal intrigues her, not the least being the fact that he seems to have secrets. She tries to push him away like she does with everyone else, but even she knows that her attempts to do so are failing.

I like stories written in the first person, as I like to put myself in the protagonist's shoes and feel what he or she is feeling in order to understand motives. Unfortunately, even the first person narrative in this book couldn't help me. I very much wanted to like Wren, or at least understand the pain she was going through, but I simply could not get over her selfishness at times. There were so many people trying to help her out, both by being overly involved as well as by giving her space that I couldn't actually tell what she wanted.

Perhaps it is a credit to the author that she has provided a very clear insight into the mind of a person going through severe depression, and this confusion is true to life. Although everyone copes with grief differently, the author didn't try to make light of the heavy topic she was writing about. While it wasn't the best choice for me, perhaps someone who has gone through a similar situation or has coped with grief the same way the main character does will find a friend in Wren or, at the very least, understand her better.

One of the things that bothers me most in many young adult novels is the lack of parental involvement, and this lack stands out like a sore thumb in this book. I am not sure what sort of parent would leave their child unattended, especially one who has dealt with a horrific situation and is clearly suffering from depression. I know that watching a potentially suicidal person 24/7 is impossible, but it seems to me that most of the time, Wren is either by herself or under the care of someone unrelated such as her father's art student. Cal seemed to be left to his own devices as well, though I won't tell you why I thought this was a bad idea lest I spoil the story for you.

One thing that is great about this book is its cover. I have a tendency to be drawn to beautiful covers that convey some sort of meaning or at least reflect the story, and this one did so very well. The cover perfectly captures Wren's loneliness and despair and is probably one of the better covers I've seen in a while.

While the book didn't do much for me, I do salute the author for taking on a very difficult topic, one that clearly affects people of all ages, and putting it into perspective. It may not have worked for me, but hopefully someone will see him/herself in Wren and learn from her mistakes.

Secrets and revelations

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 01:29 AM PDT

The Vanishing Point
Author: Val McDermid
Publisher: Little, Brown, 434 pages

LOSING a child is every parent's worst nightmare and that is exactly what happens to Stephanie Harker on her way to an idyllic holiday with her son when five-year-old Jimmy is kidnapped from a busy airport.

When the FBI begins investigating the crime, it becomes apparent that Jimmy and Stephanie aren't exactly a normal family.

British author Val McDermid leaves her usual subjects of twisted serial killers and tortured detectives (she writes the Tony Hill series, which has been made into the Wire In The Blood TV series) and steps into a family drama.

Of course, this being McDermid, the drama comes wrapped in a thriller involving celebrities and murders.

God: A Story Of Revelation
Author: Deepak Chopra
Publisher: Harper One, 278 pages

IN his latest work, the New York Times bestselling author Deepak Chopra takes his readers on a journey to discover the evolution of God.

He focuses on the lives of 10 historical prophets, saints, mystics and martyrs whom he believes were touched by a higher power, and how humans have a constantly changing perspective on divinity and God.

Chopra also reveals the defining moments of some of the world's most influential sages and uncovers the universal lessons of the true nature of God.

The Honey Queen
Author: Cathy Kelly
Publisher: Harper Collins, 406 pages

EVERY town is not what it seems to be – that's what Australia-raised Lillie discovers when she comes to Ireland in search of long lost family and ends up in the small town of Redstone, where the locals stop to chat with one another and the cafes are always buzzing with activities.

Francesca and Peggy are two members of the jovial Redstone community. The latter has a sunny disposition on everything in life, even when going through menopause, while Peggy is a free spirited woman approaching her 30s who recently achieved her dream of opening a knitting shop. As Lillie settles in, though, she realises that the picturesque town is not all quite it seems.

The Forgotten
Author: David Baldacci
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 424 pages

ARMY Special Agent John Puller is back to catch the baddies.

In this second book, the combat veteran becomes involved in a case close to home when his aunt is found dead in the coastal Florida town of Paradise.

The local police have ruled the death an accident, but Puller is suspicious as his father received a letter from the victim – sent just before she died – that talks about mysterious goings-on at night in the town.

When Puller arrives in Paradise and begins poking around, he finds himself battling unknown conspirators who seem willing to go to extreme lengths to keep the truth about the town hidden.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Coming soon

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 01:37 AM PDT

The Croods — This 3D animated movie circles around the first pre-historic family in existance who find themselves in search for a new home after an earthquake forces them to leave behind their old way of life. Voiced by Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener and Clark Duke. The soundtrack also features Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna collaborating with US pop act Owl City on the song Shine Your Way.

Olympus Has Fallen — Mike Banning is dismissed from his job as a bodyguard to the US President when a mistake happens and he has to take the fall for it. However, his services are needed when the White House is attacked. Starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart.

Side Effects — Said to be Steven Soderbergh's last film, it revolves around a young woman whose life changes drastically after taking a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist. Starring Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rooney Mara.

Newcomer Colin Trevorrow to film 'Jurassic Park 4'

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 01:14 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood newcomer Colin Trevorrow was named the director of the long-awaited fourth installment of dinosaur movie franchise Jurassic Park on Thursday.

Universal Pictures said that Steven Spielberg, who directed the first two movies in the US$1.9 billion worldwide franchise, would be the executive producer of Jurassic Park 4, but he would not direct.

Trevorrow, 36, is little known in Hollywood. He made his feature film directorial debut with the independent time travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, shown at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and has made a TV movie and documentary.

Universal said Jurassic Park 4 would be made in 3D and was scheduled for release on 13 June 2014.

Spielberg announced in 2011 that a fourth film was in development, and speculation had been rife about whether he would direct it.

Jurassic Park III, directed by Joe Johnston, was released 12 years ago, but its US$368 million worldwide box-office take was well below that of the first two films.

The original Jurassic Park, first released in 1993, will return to U.S. movie theaters in April in a 3D conversion.

Universal gave no details of casting or the plot for Jurassic Park 4.

Cops: Missing Hollywood studio executive most likely slained

Posted: 14 Mar 2013 11:56 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Detectives are investigating the disappearance of a Hollywood studio executive as a homicide 10 months after he vanished under suspicious circumstances, and are seeking the public's help in solving the high-profile case, authorities said on Thursday.

Gavin Smith, a 57-year-old film distribution executive for 20th Century Fox, was last seen on the night of 1 May 2012, driving in his black Mercedes Benz away from a friend's house in the community of Oak Park, northwest of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that the Mercedes had been found in late February in a storage facility in Simi Valley, about 20 miles away by freeway.

The storage facility has been linked to a man currently being held at a Los Angeles County jail on an unrelated narcotics conviction, according to the sheriff's department. That man, John Creech, has not been named as a suspect in Smith's disappearance.

"Based on the vehicle's condition and information developed from persons cooperating in the investigation, homicide detectives are now investigating this case as a homicide," the sheriff's department said.

"Gavin's body has not been recovered," it said.

Detectives were looking for assistance from the public in identifying anyone who may have been involved in moving the Mercedes from the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles to the storage facility about a week after Smith went missing.

The sheriff's department did not say how they believe the Mercedes came to be in Porter Ranch, about 40 minutes by car from Oak Park.

When Smith drove away from his friend's home, wearing purple athletic pants belonging to one of his sons, he left behind his cellphone charger, shaving kit and other personal items, authorities say.

The disappearance of Smith, also known for playing on UCLA's 1975 national championship basketball team under legendary coach John Wooden, made local headlines and family members pleaded for help from the public in finding him.

His son Evan Smith, a forward for the University of Southern California basketball team, took to Twitter to get the word out, tweeting such messages as "I will not stop until I find my father."

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Metro watch

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 06:02 AM PDT


In conjunction with Women's History Month in March, the Lincoln Resource Center invites Malaysian students between the ages of 16 and 23 to participate in a photography contest honoring women and their achievements in the modern world. Submissions end on March 21. For details, visit malaysia.usembassy.gov/lincoln.html


There will be a series of eight free talks on being debt free and managing one's finances starting March 17 at the Ti-Ratana Penchala Community Centre. Enrolment is free but seats are limited. These talks will run from 1.30pm to 4.30pm and delivered by former accountant Chris Chin. To register, call 03-7784 9002 / 012-231 8408 (June) or visit www.ti-ratana-penchala.com.my


Shelter Home for Children is organising a "Climb of Hope" up Mount Kinabalu from May 29 to June 1, with the aim of raising RM100,000 for the education, healthcare and protection of children-at-risk under their care. Those interested can call 03-7955 0663 (Roland/Edwin), email jallehshelter@gmail.com or visit www.shelterhome.org


Canine SportzClub, a community school for canine training, is having a potluck party for dogs and their owners this Sunday from 8am to 11am at Central Park, Bandar Utama. Please bring food and drinks to share with other participants. For details, visit Facebook.com/Canine.Sportzclub or www.mnawf.org.my or call 019-211 2150 (Chris).


Tung Shin Hospital will be holding two talks on Saturday from 1.30pm to 5.30pm. The topics are "Antenatal Care" and "Baby's Journey After Birth". Both talks will be conducted in English and Mandarin. Refreshments will be provided and registrations is free. For details, 03-2037 2288 or email cherylchia@tungshin.com.my


Tropicana Medical Centre will be organising a free public forum on sleep deprivation this Saturday from 10am to 1pm. There will be talks on sleep apnea and its cure as well as insomnia by the centre's consultants. Lunch is provided. To register, call 03-6287 1206 (Mei Yee) / 019-288 6789 (Huda) or email your full name and contact number to meiyees@tropicanamedicalcentre.com


As part of the fringe events for the 15th Petronas Grand Prix, Jalan Ampang and Jalan P. Ramlee will be closed in stages, from noon to 7.30pm on Sunday for the Petronas Motorsports Demo Run. Similarly, parts of Jalan Ampang will be closed off on March 22 and 23 from 4pm to 2pm to host the Twin Towers Concert @Live 2013.


There will be a dhamma talk titled "Taking Up the Biggest Challenge — 37 Factors of Enlightenment" today at 8.15pm at the Buddhist Maha Vihara, delivered by Ven Dr Sangharatana Thera. For details, visit www.buddhistmahavihara.com, call 03-2274 1141 or email rogleestar@gmail.com


Online registration for the Nottingham Charity Run 2013 is open until March 24. The run will take place on April 7 in Jalan Broga, Semenyih. All proceeds will go to Hospis Malaysia. For details, visit the run's Facebook event page or call 017-390 0983 (Qirunnisa).

National cyclist wins men’s open sprint in Shah Alam Criterium

Posted: 15 Mar 2013 06:02 AM PDT

NATIONAL cyclist Anuar Manan showed off his prowess during the Shah Alam Criterium recently where he came out tops in his category.

Anuar, known to many as the speed king, sprinted through the 15 laps of the race which took riders around the city's Persiaran Tasik.

During each of the 2.2km loop, he was calm and controlled, despite the challenging mix of flat and hilly stretches throughout the route.

Fellow teammates Ahmad Fakhrullah Alias and Mohd Fakhruddin Daud, who have also represented the country in various cycling tournaments abroad, gave Anuar a close chase when the two came in second and third, respectively.

Last year's SEA Games gold medallist Fatehah Mustapha, claimed top spot in the women's open category with ease.

The 23-year-old, who is preparing for her Asian Championship in New Delhi, India this month, proved that she is on top of her game when she completed the race ahead of fellow cyclists Jupha Somnet and Maziatul Radzi.

This year's race attracted 400 participants from various cycling clubs as well as amateurs and seasoned riders across the country.

The annual competition was divided into two sessions where riders on mountain bikes, BMX and children competed in the morning while the sprint riders raced in the evening.

"Cycling is a popular sport in Shah Alam and many more are picking up the sport along with their children," said Shah Alam City Council corporate communications deputy director Shahrin Ahmad when speaking about the new category to include children aged four and five in the race.

He said the council had been helping to boost the sport through various cycling events.

"We have also paved a 6km route around Section 4, 5 and 6 for cyclists to ride safely," said Shahrin, adding that the route would be open soon.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Universal Music 100% Guarentee Album Wave

Posted: 14 Mar 2013 09:42 PM PDT

Would you like a chance to be part of the 100% Guarentee Album Wave conducted by Universal Music Malaysia?

Aimed to introduced the highly anticipated band Imagine Dragons (discovered by The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers), Universal Music is offering a great deal for all.

All you need to do is purchase Imagine Dragons' album, 'Night Vision' at participating CD stores, play it and if you are not satisfied with it, you will be offered a chance to exchange the album to either a same or lower valued album from any of the Universal Music label titles within seven days of purchase with the original receipts.

So in a nutshell, go to participating CD stores, buy the Night Vision album and take it home. Listen to it and if you aren't satisfied with it, bring it back to these participating stores and get a replacement album of a same or lower price.

This promotion ends on 1 April 2013.

Imagine Dragons is quickly achieving fame with its platinum-selling single It's Time. The song reached the top five in the Billboard Alternative and Billboard Rock charts upon release. The single has also been covered by Glee and was featured in NBC's Gossip Girls and Basketball Wives.

For more information, log on to: www.universalmusic.com.my

Pet Shop Boys switch labels for new 'Electric' album

Posted: 14 Mar 2013 09:20 PM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Pet Shop Boys have left the record label Parlophone after 28 years and will release their new studio album Electric through independent music publisher Kobalt in June, the British duo said on Thursday.

The chart-toppers, whose 1980s hits include West End Girls and It's A Sin, said further details of their 12th studio album would be released soon.

The move by the duo, who have sold 50 million records worldwide since getting together 32 years ago, comes a month after it was announced that Parlophone was being sold to Warner Music.

Parlophone was previously one of EMI's most prized assets but Vivendi's Universal Music Group agreed last year to sell the label to satisfy European regulators over its US$1.9 billion purchase of EMI's recorded music business.

The Pet Shop Boys said when they signed with Parlophone, whose artists also include Coldplay, they had no idea how long or how successful the relationship would be.

"However it is also exciting now to commence a new phase working with a new team in a new business structure and we look forward to a creative and equally fulfilling relationship with Kobalt," bandmates Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (pictured above) said in a statement on their website.

Kobalt is a fast-growing independent music publisher set up in 2000 by Swedish businessman Willard Ahdritz who established a new publishing model to release and market records while giving the musicians greater control and ownership of their work.

The label's first international album release, Push The Sky Away by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, debuted this year at No. 1 in seven countries and in the top four in 13 other countries.

Depeche Mode, 'pessimists at heart', never imagined longevity

Posted: 14 Mar 2013 09:11 PM PDT

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Depeche Mode has come a long way since its 1980s debut as part of Britain's New Wave scene, and as it prepares to tour behind its 13th album, no one appears more surprised at the group's longevity than the band members themselves.

The British synthpop pioneers - singer Dave Gahan, guitarist-keyboardist Martin Gore and keyboardist Andy Fletcher - are marking their fourth decade in the music industry with the release of Delta Machine on 26 March.

"We've always been pessimists at heart, so we never think further ahead than whatever's coming next," Gore, 51, told Reuters at the South by Southwest Music Conference this week.

The band has sold more than 100 million records worldwide since its 1981 debut album Speak & Spell, thanks to hits along the way like 1984's People Are People and 1989's Personal Jesus.

Depeche Mode's textured sound and moody lyrics made it one of the biggest bands to emerge from the British New Wave in the early 1980s, alongside groups such as The Boomtown Rats.

The title Delta Machine reflects the musicians' contradictory sounds - they're influenced by the Delta blues, but they also use technology like computers and synthesizers.

"We feel like our music is a blend of organic and inorganic," Gore said.


The band's appearance at the SXSW conference is unusual, as was its performance on The Late Show With David Letterman this week. Depeche Mode has typically gone straight from rehearsal to tour without leaving time to properly promote a new album, Gore said.

"You'd think that we would have done that at some point in this career, but we haven't," he said, referring to promoting albums prior to release.

Depeche Mode will embark on its 17th tour in Tel Aviv on 7 May, with the North American leg scheduled to begin in Detroit on August 22.

Gore, having spent a significant part of the last three decades on the road and given up drinking seven years ago, said touring these days is different.

"The last tour I really enjoyed because it was the first one that I'd really been lucid enough to take in everything and enjoy the concerts and then enjoy the cities the next day," he said. "So I'm really looking forward to this one."

Life has also improved for Gahan, 50, a former heroin addict who attempted suicide in 1995, almost died after an overdose in 1996 and got sober about two years later.

"My life has just progressively got better," Gahan told an audience at conference. "I feel like I participate in it in a very different way."

Asked how he manages to remain so active on stage, Gahan replied that when he gets up in front of people who have bought tickets, he does his best to entertain them.

There's nothing worse, he said, than performers on stage staring at their shoes while wearing "camping clothes."

"This is rock and roll," Gahan said.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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