Selasa, 26 Mac 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

F-35 fighter transforming defence industry says retiring chief

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 08:22 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The retiring chief of the trouble-plagued F-35 Joint Strike Fighter says he remains bullish about the hi-tech war plane, with costs soon to be further reduced as production takes off, and believes the program will transform the aerospace industry.

Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp's factory located in Fort Worth, Texas in this October 13, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin. REUTERS/Lockheed Martin/Randy A. Crites/Handout

Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp's factory located in Fort Worth, Texas in this October 13, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin. REUTERS/Lockheed Martin/Randy A. Crites/Handout

Tom Burbage, a former Navy test pilot and general manager of the F-35 program since its inception 12 years ago, said the $396 billion weapons program, which will create a supersonic, single-engine fighter jet for use by the United States and its allies, still made strategic sense.

Mounting budget pressures and escalating threats made the coalition and joint-service warfare of the F-35 fighter more important than ever, Burbage, a top executive with manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp, said on Tuesday.

"The value proposition as it was stated then is even more important today," he told reporters.

The F-35's development has been hit by a spate of technical setbacks, is 70 percent over initial cost estimates, been restructured three times, and is now years behind schedule.

As a result, the United States has postponed some orders of F-35s and other nations are re-considering their plans.

Some U.S. officials are worried that any further reductions in orders by the U.S. military or allies overseas could trigger a classic death spiral in which rising costs spark reductions in orders, which in turn trigger further cost increases and so on.

Burbage, who will retire in March, said the company would soon be producing larger numbers of F-35s than any other military aircraft in recent history, which would help drive costs down further.

"We're going to wind up being very competitive in the long run," he said, adding that the F-35 already cost 50 percent less to produce than when the first planes rolled off the assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas five years ago.

Burbage said further reductions were expected in the next two production contracts now being negotiated with the Pentagon.

Pentagon officials and Lockheed have said they expect to wrap up those contract talks by this summer after long delays in the negotiations for the two previous batches of planes.

Burbage said there was a risk that further delays in U.S. orders, which had already added billions to the cost of the program, would slow cost cutting.

But he said the large number of countries involved and growing interest from additional buyers in Asia should help offset the impact of any budget-driven cuts in U.S. orders.

"It's important to get that leveraged buying power of a larger production base than just the airplanes the U.S. is buying," he said.

Along with the United States, eight countries are helping fund the F-35's development: Britain, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. Israel and Japan have also placed orders.

Burbage said much of the F-35 cost-cutting will come from suppliers that produce about 70 percent of the state-of-the-art plane, a big change from earlier weapons programs, when a given prime contractors built about 70 percent of a plane.

The F-35's supply chain was spread around the world, a deliberate move aimed at ensuring continued commitment to the new weapons program by participating nations, he said.

"In many ways we're recapitalizing the aerospace and defence industry while we're recapitalizing the multi-role fighter forces," Burbage told the reporters.

Working together with Lockheed, smaller companies in the partner countries developed new ways of machining parts out of titanium, working with advanced composite materials, and processing complex engineering models, he said.

The F-35 program had led to the creation of four to five advanced composites factories around the world that would be available for work on other aerospace projects in the future.

In the Netherlands, Fokker Elmo, the company that produces the wiring harnesses for the F-35, has already parlayed its work on the F-35 into additional orders for other warplanes and military and commercial engines, Burbage said.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Quake measuring 6.1 shakes Taiwan, no reports of damage

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 08:17 PM PDT

TAIPEI (Reuters) - An earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.1 shook Taiwan on Wednesday, official agencies said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey registered the quake with a magnitude of 6.3. The epicentre of the quake was near central Taiwan at a depth of about 15 km (9 miles), said Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau, which uses the Richter scale.

Earthquakes occur frequently in Taiwan, which lies on a seismically active stretch of the Pacific basin. In September 1999, a 7.6 quake killed more than 2,400 people and destroyed or damaged 50,000 buildings.

(Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Paul Tait)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Knox, Sollecito to face Italy retrial in Kercher murder

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 05:32 PM PDT

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's top court on Tuesday ordered a retrial of American Amanda Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, re-opening a case that prompted harsh criticism of the Italian justice system.

Amanda Knox pauses emotionally while speaking during a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport, Washington after landing there on a flight from Italy, in this October 4, 2011, file photo. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante/Files

Amanda Knox pauses emotionally while speaking during a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport, Washington after landing there on a flight from Italy, in this October 4, 2011, file photo. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante/Files

Kercher's half-naked body, with more than 40 wounds and a deep gash in the throat, was found in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia, where both were studying during a year abroad in 2007.

Prosecutors accused Knox and Italian Sollecito of killing the 21-year-old Leeds University student during a drug-fuelled sexual assault that got out of hand.

The two, who always professed their innocence, were initially found guilty in 2009 and sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison respectively after a trial that grabbed headlines around the world.

In 2011, their convictions were quashed after forensic experts challenged evidence in the original trial, prompting accusations of a botched police investigation and leaving many aspects of the killing unexplained.

They were released after four years in prison and Knox returned to her family home near Seattle immediately afterwards.

On Tuesday, the Court of Cassation overturned the acquittal and accepted a request for a retrial from prosecutors and Kercher family lawyers who had criticized the earlier ruling as "contradictory and illogical".

Unlike law in the United States and some other countries, the Italian system does not contain so-called "double jeopardy" provisions that prevent a defendant being tried twice for the same offence.

The court has not yet provided a full reasoning of its decision and a date has not yet been set for the new trial, which will be held in an appeals court in Florence, rather than Perugia, where the original trials were conducted.

The decision was immediately welcomed by the Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca who said it would provide an opportunity to find out what happened to Meredith.

"This is an important day for the Italian justice system," he said outside the court, criticizing the earlier judgment acquitting Knox and Sollecito as "extremely superficial".

"I've spoken to the family and Stephanie, her sister, is very happy, she's trying to understand what happens now."


Knox released a statement through her spokesman David Marriott describing the court's decision as "painful" and said the prosecution's theory had repeatedly been revealed as "unfounded and unfair,".

She has not yet discussed whether she will return to Italy for the trial, Marriott said.

Knox, dubbed "Foxy Knoxy" in many early media reports, was initially portrayed as a sex-obsessed "she devil" by prosecutors but a lobbying campaign by her family helped change perceptions and she is due to publish a book of memoirs in April.

"She was very sad, she thought that this nightmare was over," Carlo della Vedova, one of her legal team told reporters after speaking to Knox. "At the same time she is ready, we went through all this before, we are strong enough and strong enough to fight again."

Tuesday's ruling examined whether there were procedural irregularities which gave grounds for a retrial, rather than assessing the details of the case, which remain obscure in many particulars.

A lawyer for 29-year-old Sollecito said the decision was not a guilty verdict for her client but just meant the court wanted a more in-depth examination of some aspects of the case.

"Unfortunately we have to continue the battle," Giulia Bongiorno told reporters.

Sollecito was continuing studies in the northern city of Verona, another lawyer was quoted as saying by Ansa news agency.

Maurizio Bellacosa, a criminal law professor at Rome's LUISS University, said he expected the new trial would begin in less than a year.

If Knox is convicted of murder in the new trial, her lawyers will be able to appeal again, said criminal law expert Graziano Cecchetti from Italian law firm Giambrone Law.

Both experts said for now Knox was free to decide herself whether to return to Italy or not but the Italian government could request extradition if she is found guilty of the murder and her conviction is backed by the Court of Cassation.


Around Seattle, where Knox and her family live, people expressed support for their neighbour.

A "Free Amanda Knox" bumper sticker had been affixed to a red car in the driveway of Knox's mother's house. The message, "The world loves Amanda Knox" had been carved into a gray cement block that was propped against the garage.

A young woman who answered the door at the two-story house and identified herself as Amanda's younger sister declined to comment.

Nearby, neighbour Lois Silver said she had been saddened by the news that Italian authorities wanted to retry Knox.

"If there's no proof, why put her through this? I wish it were over for them," she said. "I wish they didn't have to go through this."

Robb Orr, a 35-year-old writer who said he lives in Amanda Knox's neighbourhood, was sympathetic.

"The case seemed really poorly put together. It seemed more like a witch hunt," Orr said. "I am sure it was a horrible, horrible thing to go through, and it would be nice if she could just move on with her life."

Much of the attention of the case was focused on the carefree image of foreign students enjoying a year abroad in the medieval town in central Italy as well as on lurid stories of sex and heavy partying.

Prosecutors had said that Kercher was held down and stabbed after she resisted attempts by Knox, Sollecito and a third man, Ivorian Rudy Guede, to involve her in an orgy in the apartment the two women shared in the town.

However their case was weakened by forensic experts who undermined the credibility of DNA evidence provided by police and made strong criticisms of their first response procedures at the scene of the killing.

(Additional reporting by Eric Johnson and Laura Myers in Seattle and James Mackenzie and Gavin Jones; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Cougar Town' returning for fifth season

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 08:53 PM PDT

TBS, the new broadcaster of Cougar Town, has announced that the comedy will be back on American TV in 2014 for a fifth season.

The cable network has granted Cougar Town a new 13-episode season that will follow the romantic adventures of Jules Cobb, a realtor in her forties played by Courteney Cox.

TBS bought the ABC comedy last year and saved it from cancellation due to poor ratings. The cable network has been satisfied with the ratings of the series since it began airing on 8 January.

Every week, 2.8 million viewers watch Cougar Town. The fourth season will come to an end on 9 April.


Subtle messages behind anime Doraemon

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 02:41 AM PDT

A cartoon boy and his robot cat show us the importance of doing things in moderation.

THERE are few people who wouldn't recognise the theme song to Doraemon, the Japanese anime with a global following that even Psy cannot compete with. Hopefully.

Created in 1969 as a manga by artist Fujiko Fujio, Doraemon became a full-fledged TV series in 1979 (there are also more than a handful of feature films) and has since been shown all over the world, including in Malaysia.

Here, the programme is dubbed in Bahasa Malaysia, and although some of the voices do not sound quite right for the characters, most of us have become so used to it that we simply close one eye ...ear.

In fact, we're so used to hearing the squeaky high-pitched voices that we don't let it spoil our viewing experience of Doraemon (currently showing on ntv7). Well, at least some of us don't. Backed with solid storylines, the Malaysian edition of Doraemon can be quite funny sometimes.

Whoever is in charge of translating the Japanese script does a good job of doing so, as they have managed to avoid turning the show into one that's preachy or completely different from the original.

If you have no idea what Doraemon is about, well it's an anime that features an anthropomorphic robot cat named Doraemon who is sent from the future by a young boy who wants to change his great-grandfather Nobita's luck for the better. You see, the boy's life is in tatters because Nobita is a loser in present-day Japan; if he prospers, there's a chance that the boy's fortune will improve too.

So, Doraemon does all he can – he has a magic pocket (poket ajaib!) that contains gadgets from the past, present and future – to help Nobita get his life on track but it isn't easy as the latter is lazy, not that smart and sometimes, even a little spineless. While you could say that Doraemon acts as Nobita's moral compass, there are times when the robot himself can't help but be a little mischievous.

In last week's episode, Nobita complained about how his father drank too much and constantly came home drunk.

After swearing off alcohol, Nobita decided to take a sneak peek into his own future and visit his "son" to advise him not to drink. To his horror, Nobita turned out to be exactly like his father, coming home drunk and stupid to a disappointed wife and son!

The episode may have hit home for some of us who spent the last few weekends over-indulging at music festivals and concerts in conjunction with the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix ...

Speaking of which, Secret Celebrity on E! is one show that gives new meaning to "over-indulgence". On the show, "celebrities" go undercover and attend an event or something, all the while pretending to be someone else.

Last week, former Mr Jessica Simpson and current "why is he famous again?" celebrity Nick Lachey was featured giving some sort of talk to a group of aspiring dancers. His disguise was a curly-haired wig, spectacles and an effeminate voice (which was pretty good, actually).

Halfway through the show – you just knew it was time to change the channel once Lachey asked the girls to come up with a signature dance for "him" – it became very difficult to understand why Secret Celebrity was ever created.

Has anyone ever seen the show OK Karaoke on MTV? It's basically a show that features the music videos of some of today's hits, with on-screen lyrics for karaoke lovers to sing along. It's fun, until they start showing K-Pop music videos – it really is no easy feat trying to read Korean words, let alone sing them.

Another music-based programme on TV that does not feature annoying judges is Kalapaddam (TV2), a variety show in Tamil that was previously aired on the local radio station, Minnal FM. Kalapaddam also has other segments within it like news and community updates. Sometimes, guests are even invited to the show to give their views on current hot topics, or even sing!

Although the show does not have subtitles (which means that only Tamil-speaking viewers would be able to watch it), it is still refreshing to see local Indian content on television. Perhaps it is time that Indian entertainment – be it in television, film, music or theatre – in Malaysia gets a bigger boost.

> If you know of any other local Indian or Chinese programmes that could use some exposure, do let us know on Twitter (@MyStarTwo).

Love’s labour’s lost

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 03:02 AM PDT

The Spudniks don't spare the drama when their favourite TV characters go from being day-time friends to prime-time lovers.

I AM so glad that Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) were never romantically linked in Law & Order: Special VIctims Unit. Sure, we could all see how special their partnership was: the chemistry between them was palpable and there were more than a few hints at their mutual attraction for each other.

Sure, at times I did feel that Olivia would be good for Elliot: she understood him and could relate to the anger and frustration he had inside him because of the nature of their job. But, a romantic liaison between the two? I think that would have ruined the show and our appreciation for both characters. It would have been too cheesy, too convenient and too predictable.

We've seen this happen many times on TV: two characters who have been friends for so long become romantically involved and all of a sudden, the show we love becomes becomes a hot mess.

I admit, I could not wait for Dr Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) and Dr Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) to get together on House M.D. After all, they seemed so good for each other; Cuddy was the only one who could reign in the acerbic House and the only one who could make him … feel. But when it finally did happen in Season 7 of the series, I was devastated.

The relationship seemed awkward and it turned both of them into huge jerks. The show went from funny to annoying fast and, truth be told, I stopped watching entirely. All of a sudden, House stopped being about the genius of the good doctor and his rapport with his team of diagnosticians.

It was just a soppy mess about the drama between two characters. Urrgh. I hear the series picked up in the final season but I couldn't be bothered any more. I broke up with House!

TV writers have it tough: a series is compelling when there is some romantic tension between two seemingly combative leads. Play this out too long, however, and viewers just get bored. Give in to the romance too early and the dramatic tension dies and the show suffers creatively.

We've seen it happen more than a few times – on the 1980s hit show Moonlighting, when Maddie Hayes (Cybil Shepherd) and David Addison (Bruce Willis) finally got together, the show tanked. It stopped being witty and, like House, became annoying and dull. It was a disaster and gave rise to the term "Moonlighting Syndrome": when a show suffers because of the romance between its two leads.

The same can be said of the romance between Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) on The X-Files. I liked the tension between the two. Mulder came alive with Scully as his partner on his hunt for aliens and it was nice to see that complicated relationship develop. But when the two hooked up (even though it wasn't ever really played out on screen), it was kind of a let-down. Some things are better left as is. Some things are just not meant to be.

To be fair, there have been some shows that have transitioned the "friends to lovers" relationship between two characters quite well. In Cheers, Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane (Shelley Long) actually did get together and though they later broke up again, the series didn't suffer at all. It was still funny and fans still felt the love for the show. The characters involved also remained true to their original selves and the relationship was believable; we could see the attraction between the two and we could also see how implausible it was that they could even be together, and that's exactly how it was played out.

In Gilmore Girls, the romance between Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Luke (Scott Patterson) was drawn out for four seasons. Fans couldn't wait for them to get together and when they did, it was perfect. This was one show that seemed to have developed the romance well – or so it seemed at first. But the Lorelai-Luke romance wasn't all smooth sailing. They broke up after one season and quite literally stopped talking to each other and this was torture for fans.

Ask any true-blue fans and they'd most likely agree that Season 6 (when the two had broken up) was the most frustrating of all Gilmore Girls seasons. Thankfully, the series ended on a high with the two finding their way back together in the very last episode.

So, should friends become lovers? It's a tough call and right now I've got knots in my stomach as I watch the relationship between Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) develop on my new TV addiction, Castle (yeah, hearing Ann Marie wax lyrical about Fillion and Katic week after week got me curious. She's right. It's fabulous!). Here's hoping the series doesn't succumb to Moonlighting Syndrome. S.I.

I GET so annoyed everytime friends turn into lovers on TV because things are bound to turn sour eventually. Yeah, even in art, the greatest loves are tragedies. Indra has already mentioned Moonlighting's Maddie Hayes and David Addison. I loved watching the show when there was that unspoken chemistry between them; it was almost palpable, but not quite... you know? The same goes for Mulder and Scully, and Castle and Beckett.

Granted, there have been numerous entanglements that worked for a while – when Friends Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courteney Cox) eventually hooked up, fans were pleased. And they even got married. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), although never as successful with her liaisons, also seemed to get by whether she was in love with Ross (David Schwimmer). And fans of the show stuck by their favourite characters through thick and thin.

Somehow, the sitcoms always seem to pull these little love affairs off with great panache. Both How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory have featured very successful romances – Cobie Smulders' Robin has had relationships with both Neil Patrick Harris' Barney as well as Josh Radnor's Ted; Kaley Cuoco's Penny and Johnny Galecki's Leonard hooked up, and much more importantly Jim Parsons' Sheldon teamed up with Mayim Bialik's Amy (go on, Sheldon, spank her already).

I'm not quite sure what their secret is, but the sitcom writers seem to have got it down pat (Cheers was a sitcom too, by the way ... and wait, don't forget Jim and Pam in The Office!) where the dramatic series writers fail.

But there are exceptions to the rule, I guess. For example, in The Closer, I never really minded when Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) hooked up with FBI special agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney). And in fact, they provided many interesting plot lines as husband and wife.

Similarly, on Battlestar Galactica, there were numerous relationships which were woven into the series, be it between cylon Number Six (Tricia Helfer) and treacherous scientist Dr Gaius Baltar (James Callis) or Lieutenant Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) and Samuel T. Anders (Michael Trucco) or Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) and President Roslin (Mary McDonnell), all of which were pretty entertaining.

Booth and Bones (Emily Deschanel as Dr Temperance "Bones" Brennan and David Boreanaz as Seeley Booth) also seemed to buck the trend and even end up having a baby!

And currently, I'm tripping out on Fringe. At first I was a little upset when Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) hooked up with "Fauxlivia" Dunham (Anna Torv) from the Other Side but thankfully there are two universes to contend with, a pregnancy, emotional baggage, experiments on children, as well as a host of interdimensional problems.

Suffice to say, I'm still hooked on the series, and the chemistry between the protagonists, be they from our world or over there. Maybe true love can exist on TV after all. I want to believe. A.M.C.


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Elvinn dishes out a stunner, Nafiizwan through to next round of qualifier

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 05:59 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Former national player Elvinn Keo made the most of his chances to score a stunning win over Hong Kong's Leo Au in the first qualifying round of the CIMB KL Open at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The 25-year-old Elvinn was dropped from the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia's (SRAM) elite programme last year due to a lack of progress.

The Penangite, who is currently ranked 127th in the world, had to train on his own after being axed.

But that did not stop Elvinn from dishing out one of his finest performances to beat world No. 40 Au 13-11, 3-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6.

Elvinn, the 2007 SEA Games champion, had received a wildcard to compete in the qualifiers.

It was only his second win against a top 50 player, after beating Czech Republic's Jan Koukal (now No. 55) last year.

"It was definitely a tough match against Leo. I guess I got lucky but I'm happy to have won," said Elvinn.

"I've known Leo for a while and he's actually a much better player. In fact, he was in the second round of the Kuwait Cup this year, which is a Super Series event ... that shows just how good he actually is.

"I've already exceeded my own expectations ... hopefully, this win proves that I can still play at a high level."

Elvinn's reward is a clash against compatriot Ivan Yuen in the second qualifying round.

Ivan defeated South Korea's Seung Yong-yoo yoo 11-2, 11-8, 11-8.

The last time the duo met, Elvinn threw away a two-set lead to lose in five sets in the semi-finals of the NSC Series No. 1 two weeks ago.

Reigning Asian champion Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan was the third Malaysian through to the next round, but not before warding off a strong challenge by Sanjay Singh Chal.

The 27-year-old Nafiizwan won 11-5, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 and will face India's Harinder Pal Sandhu next.

The dice falling Low’s way

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 04:20 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: National No. 2 women's squash player Low Wee Wern's luck seems to be getting better and better.

Wee Wern was initially drawn to meet Australia's world No. 17 Donna Urquhart in a tricky first round tie of the CMIB Kuala Lumpur Open today.

But a redraw, following the left-handed Australian's late withdrawal, has now pit her against a relatively easier opponent in world No. 29 Lauren Briggs.

"It was quite a stroke of good luck indeed as Donna would have been a tougher opponent," said Wee Wern.

"But I'll still need to be on my toes as Lauren won't be a pushover."

Still, the re-draw has been kind towards Wee Wern, who recently signed a core sponsorship deal with AirAsia.

"My partnership with AirAsia simply could not have come at better time in my playing career. At 22 years old and ranked sixth in the world, this is just the beginning of my journey," said Wee Wern.

"It's really an honour to be associated with AirAsia and I really want to thank them for supporting my dream.

"I also want to thank my other sponsors – Harrow, Herbalife, Puma, Mizuno and Astro Arena – for their continued support and contributions.

"And let's not forget the National Sports Council (NSC) for all their fundings.

"With everything going my way lately, including the re-draw, I'm really looking forward to a good run now."

The other Malaysian women in the main draw are world No. 1 and seven-time world champion Nicol David, and national No. 3 Delia Arnold.

Meanwhile, Malaysia fared badly in the women's qualifying rounds when Siti Munirah, Rachel Arnold, Vaness Raj and Celine Yeap all crashed out.

Zulhijjah Azan was the only one to win when she beat Hong Kong's Liu Tsz Ling 12-10, 4-11, 11-5, 3-11,11-7.

National No. 4 Siti Munirah's poor run of form continued as she was pummelled 3-11, 6-11, 9-11 by South Africas' Siyoli Waters while 16-year-old Rachel, who made the final of the NSC Series No. 1 earlier this month, went down 6-11, 7-11, 5-11 to Czech Republic's Lucie Fialova.

Fellow juniors Vanessa and Celine, both from Penang, were also comprehensively beaten by Scotland's Lisa Aitken and New Zealand's Kylie Lindsay respectively.

Joshna in seventh heaven after making main draw

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 06:00 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: India's Joshna Chinappa (pic) was once tipped to be a potential world class player but an unfortunate anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury two years ago has halted her progress.

The lanky Chennai native, however, managed to hang in there and recover from an injury which could have ended her career prematurely.

Now ranked a career high 27th in the world, the lanky Joshna is definitely enjoying a new lease of life and simply happy to be back in the thick of the action.

She enjoyed a stellar season last year – since returning to action last April – winning the Chennai Open and Penang Open, and picking up impressive wins over world No. 10 Annie Au of Hong Kong and compatriot Dipika Pallikal.

"When I was injured, all I wanted was to get back on court and play once more. That was probably the main reason I never gave up," said Joshna.

"Deep down, I always knew that I'd make a comeback one day ... I just had to be remain fit and be patient.

"Besides, after doing nothing but eating chocolates and watching television for the first four months of my injury, I knew I had to get back on the court once more."

And the 26-year-old proved that she's slowly but surely getting back to her brilliant best with a good start in the CIMB KL Open, beating France's Coline Aumard 11-4, 11-1, 11-1 in the first qualifying round.

"I thought my performance was quite good and I'm quite happy with the scoreline too," said Joshna.

"It's also great to make the main draw for the first time in the KL Open because I really have great memories playing in Malaysia.

"I've been coming here since I was 12 – for the Milo All Stars and Asian Juniors. I basically spent my entire childhood here.

"So it's just great to come back here and play well and get a good result here because it really feels like home."

While many who have been out of the game for a long time would not want to face the world's best, Joshna is just the opposite.

"It would be really nice though to face Nicol (David) in the first round of the main draw because I really like to play against the world No. 1 in front of her own fans," she said.

Nicol and Joshna met once last year – with the Indian player giving the Penangite a very uncomfortable time in the first round of the Malaysian Open.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

HDBS initiates coverage on Muhibbah, TP: RM2.15

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 06:51 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday March 27, 2013 MYT 9:52:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday March 27, 2013 MYT 10:11:49 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: HwangDBS Vickers Research (HDBSVR) has a Buy call on Muhibbah Engineering with a target price of RM2.15, citing value in the company.

In an initiation report on Wednesday, it said Muhibbah was a strong proxy to the oil and gas industry.

HDBSVR said Muhibbah's niche strengths in marine infrastructure and construction would leave it nicely poised to win additional contracts in both the booming domestic oil and gas (O&G) industry as well as abroad.

"We believe the Asia Petroleum Hub (APH) could be given a new lease of life by Muhibbah, as the group could be planning to take over and resume the development of APH," it said.

It said the company has bitten the bullet on this project, recognising a provision of RM245mil in fourth quarter 2012, resulting in a steep loss of RM98mil for 2012. Total provisioning so far has amounted to RM405mil.

"In spite of this, Muhibbah's book value was RM1.11 per share due to the strong earnings delivery in 2012.

"All is not lost for its APH project as we understand a recovery plan is in place and we may see some light, post GE. If this happens, we expect possible writebacks of RM405 million (RM1/share), further boosting our forecasts," it said.


Perodua expands parts distribution ops centre

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 06:47 PM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: Perusahaaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) has expanded its parts distribution operations centre to a larger facility here to better serve its customers in Sabah and Sarawak via faster delivery time for parts as well as a larger inventory.

The new centre will allow Perodua to increase the number of line items by 300% to 6,600 units from 2,200 units to effectively increase the total stock value by 329% to RM1.2mil from RM280,000 previously.

The centre will also be almost 2.5 times larger than the previous centre with a total land size of 20,000 square feet from about 8,200 square feet.

"With this centre fully operational we are targeting an annual growth of 26% (for Sabah)," managing director Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said at the soft launch of the new parts distribution centre here yesterday.

"In terms of parts sales in Sabah, I am very pleased to say that it has been growing very strongly – ranging from 20% to 34% between 2009 and 2012," he added.

Aminar said the centre would improve Perodua's delivery to its parts outlets in Kota Kinabalu which will receive their stock on the same day, while delivery to other outlets will take between one and three days.

"This centre is all about keeping our customers happy as we cut down delivery time of much needed parts to our customers."This will help us in both retaining our customers and at the same time ensuring their safety by providing them high quality genuine parts as imitation parts may affect a vehicle's performance or worse compromise their safety," he said.

On Perodua's sales performance in Sabah and Sarawak, Aminar said Perodua sold some 26,500 units last year, which was a 4% increase if compared with 23,400 units sold in 2011."

On after sales, Perodua recorded some 238,700 intakes in 2012 and posted RM20.8mil in parts sale last year, an increase of 1% and 8% respectively from 2011.

In Sabah, Perodua sold 11,300 vehicles in 2012, while after sales recorded 101,100 intakes with nearly RM12mil in parts sales.


Local aerospace company inks RM763mil deal with US company

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 06:43 PM PDT

LANGKAWI: Aerospace manufacturer UPECA Aerotech Sdn Bhd (UPECA) has signed a RM763mil contract with US-based aerospace company UTC Aerospace Systems to manufacture precision machined components on their fan cowl assemblies over the next 17 years.

UTC Aerospace System's Aerostructures business unit developed the fan cowl for the General Electric and Rolls-Royce engines on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the fan cowl for the Airbus A350 XWB. The company awarded UPECA the components to manufacture, making UPECA the single-source producer of these parts worldwide.

This will be UPECA's biggest contract award to date and will cover all aspects of manufacturing development, design and fabrication of all jigs and fixtures, procurement of raw material, machining, testing, treatment and assembly of the machined components.

Under the agreement, the first-article components of the 787 fan cowl will be completed by May 2013, and A350 XWB component development will begin subsequently.

The contract was signed by Tim Martin, Vice President of Supply Chain and Strategic Initiatives at UTC Aerospace Systems - Aerostructures and Simon Yew, chief executive officer of the UPECA Group of Companies.

The contract award ceremony was conducted at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima 2013) and was witnessed by Mida chief executive officer Datuk Noharuddin Nordin.

Datuk Noharuddin said: "We are honoured to witness this important milestone.

"This project is a testament of the capabilities of the Malaysian companies.

"Not only is UPECA is one of few Malaysian companies to achieve AS/EN9100 approval, they also carry approvals from Airbus, Spirit AeroSystems, Honeywell, Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing (SAM) and Meggitt, enabling them to produce a range of aircraft components that include aerostructures, avionics components, and aircraft engine casings."

"We are proud to have UPECA as a partner in Malaysia, to support key machined aerospace products for United Technologies Aerospace Systems. "These parts will be used on key Boeing and Airbus platforms". says Tim Martin.

"This agreement with UTC Aerospace Systems is a significant milestone for UPECA and we are very proud of this award and to be associated with the company, one of the world's largest suppliers of technologically advanced aerospace and defense products." said Yew.

"We are highly committed to growing our business with UTC Aerospace Systems' Aerostructures business unit."

Yew explains that this project will involve investment in high-technology CNC machines and utilisation of UPECA's NADCAP-approved facility. The projected investment for this contract is valued at RM30 mil over the next three years and will create more than 100 jobs in Malaysia.

"When this project is at full capacity, we will have a combined total of 81 CNC machines in our facility and total employees of more than 400 persons.

"We have also upgraded our treatments facility and currently have 26 NADCAP approved special processes.

"All the components will be manufactured, completed with treatments and assembled at our Shah Alam plant," Yew added.

NADCAP accreditation is a universal standard for aerospace special processes to ensure treatments and testing of manufactured aircraft and aero-engine components are of the highest quality.

Established in 2005, UPECA, part of the Upeca Technologies Group of Companies, has secured its position as a key supplier to major aerospace companies worldwide.

UPECA currently operate from a 110,000 sq ft facility in Shah Alam, housing technologically advanced Computer Numerical Control machines and a NADCAP approved surface treatment and inspection facility. - Bernama



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Robert Redford may join 'Captain America'

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 02:32 AM PDT has announced that legendary actor and director Robert Redford is in talks to star in Marvel's next superhero movie.

This would be Redford's first big Hollywood blockbuster since Tony Scott's Spy Game in 2001. The 76-year-old is apparently eyeing the part of a leader in SHIELD, a government organization responsible for monitoring the presence of superheroes on Earth.

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chris Evans will reprise his role as Steve Rogers, who has become a genetically modified soldier. Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Toby Jones and Hayley Atwell, who featured in the first film in 2011, will also be back. Scarlett Johansson and Cobie Smulders will represent the Avengers.

The cast of Anthony and Joe Russo's movie will also include Anthony Mackie and Franck Grillo as The Falcon and Crossbones. Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be released on 4 April 2014 in North America.


Five jailed in Britain over movie tax scam

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 09:19 PM PDT

LONDON: Five people were jailed for more than 20 years in Britain on Monday for pretending to make a Hollywood blockbuster to secure millions of pounds in tax breaks from the government.

They had told tax inspectors that their film, Landscape of Lives, had a budget of 19.6 million (23 million euros, $30 million) and involved veteran British actor Jeremy Irons.

To lend credibility to the scam, an innocent writer was hired to pen the script and he was told it would be filmed in Egypt and would star Omar Sharif, Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

In fact, only seven minutes was ever shot and the footage, filmed in a flat at a cost of just several thousand pounds, was of "completely unusable quality", the court heard.

The fraudsters used fake documents to apply for special tax breaks for the film industry, submitting or preparing to submit claims worth 2.78 million, although they only received 800,000.

When they were arrested, the team hastily arranged for a different film entitled Landscape of Lies to be made on a shoestring in an attempt to cover the scam. It was released on DVD in 2011.

"This was an extraordinary scheme created to attack the public purse," said Sue Patten, head of fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service.

"The defendants put in claims on a ghost film called Landscape of Lives with the sole intention of criminally exploiting a tax relief system designed to support the UK film industry."

There was no suggestion that Irons or Sharif were involved, or that the actors who did take part knew anything of the fraud.

Bashar Al-Issa, a 34-year-old former Iraqi national who is now British, orchestrated the scam and was sentenced to six and a half years in jail for cheating the public revenue.

Aoife Madden, a 31-year-old British and Irish actress, was sentenced to four years and eight months.

Two other members of the scam, Pakistani national Tariq Hassan and Iraqi national Osama Al Baghdady, were given four-year terms, while another, Ian Sherwood, received three and a half years.

Madden had pleaded guilty while her co-conspirators were convicted in a trial earlier this month. -AFP

Oscars date later next year, to avoid Olympic clash

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 06:28 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: The Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 2 next year, later than usual to avoid clashing with the Winter Olympics, organizers and insiders said Monday.

The Oscars are usually held on the last or next to last Sunday in February, but that would compete for TV audiences with the Feb 6-23 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The later date for the Oscars - the climax to Hollywood's annual awards season - will also allow for a more relaxed nomination and voting period, after some complaints this year, according to industry journal Variety.

Voting for nominees will run from December 27-January 8, with nominations announced on January 16. Final voting will start on February 14 and end on February 25, said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Organizers were criticized this year over the limited time Academy voters had to consider late-season releases. There were also some teething troubles with online voting, introduced for the first time.

The March date for the Oscars means that the Golden Globes, Tinseltown's next most high-profile awards show, will be held on January 12, while the Grammys are tipped to be held on January 26, according to Variety.

In 2015 the Oscars will be held on February 22, back in its more traditional slot, the Academy announced. -AFP


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PKR: Permatang Pauh and Lembah Pantai MPs alleged sex videos are fake

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 08:51 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: PKR will not be intimidated by threats made by certain parties that they would be releasing sex videos allegedly involving the Permatang Pauh and Lembah Pantai MPs.

PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution told a press conference at the PKR headquarters here on Tuesday that some party members had watched the allegedly incriminating clips.

"A few of us were given previews of the alleged videos, which we believe are digitally manipulated.

"These accusations will not scare us. It will make us more determined to move forward in our political battle," he said on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his daughter Nurul Izzah, who is also PKR vice-president, are the MPs for Permatang Pauh and Lembah Pantai respectively.

He added that the people who had shown the alleged sex videos also warned them that there were more such videos implicating other party leaders.

Saifuddin said that the allegations would not in any way impact the Opposition's preparations for the upcoming general election.

Meanwhile, PKR communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the party remained firm on its stand to turn down Radio Televisyen Malaysia's (RTM) offer of a 10-minute airtime for political parties to present their election manifestos.

Nik Nazmi said the offer insulted the rakyat's intelligence and alleged it misrepresented the media's role in democracy.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim had announced that political parties will be given 10 minutes airtime each on RTM to present their manifestos after Parliament is dissolved to pave the way for the 13th general election.

However, Rais said the pre-recorded presentation of the manifestos must be done according to the terms and conditions set by RTM, and would be supervised by the ministry's secretary-general and a panel headed by the director-general of Broadcasting.

Nik Nazmi added that PKR was also seeking a televised debate between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Anwar.

GE13: Selangor assembly to be dissolved April 22, says MB

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 08:42 AM PDT

Published: Tuesday March 26, 2013 MYT 9:21:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday March 26, 2013 MYT 11:42:20 PM

PETALING JAYA: The Selangor state assembly will be dissolved on April 22, if Parliament is not dissolved before or by then.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the move would be proposed to other Pakatan Rakyat-led states so that their respective state assemblies be dissolved on the same date as well.

"This is to put pressure on the Federal Government to dissolve the Parliament," he told reporters at the PKR headquarters here on Tuesday.

Khalid said since holding separate state elections was not possible, he felt Selangor should initiate the simultaneous dissolution of state assemblies in Pakatan-ruled states.

On another matter, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim rejected the offer by Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim to enable each political party to get 10 minutes of airtime on RTM to speak about their election manifesto.

"We want the principle of free and fair media coverage to be upheld. If that can be offered, Pakatan will consider it," he said.

For more election stories, please visit The Star's GE13 site

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Veteran RTM presenter Alan Zechariah dies

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 08:08 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Veteran English language radio presenter Alan Zechariah passed away aged 71 at the University Hospital at 1.30pm on Tuesday.

Known for his distinct voice and great selection of music, especially jazz, Zechariah reportedly died of a heart attack after complaining of a cold the day before.

He was born in Kuala Lumpur on Mar 23, 1942. Zechariah received his primary and secondary school education at St John's Institution in Kuala Lumpur.

The popular deejay joined RTM in 1966 and retired in 2000.

In his early years, he was known for his morning shows (Good Morning Boy) and his long-running Sunday night show called Memories Are Made Of These, which he co-hosted with Reezal Abdullah.

In the late 1980s, he also did a show called the Sunday Morning Breakfast Show.

In an interview with The Star in 1984, Zechariah was quoted as saying he needed three alarm clocks to wake up at 4am to get ready for his breakfast show that began at 6am.

Zechariah was a multi-talented musician before he joined radio and made a name for himself nationwide.

He was initially offered a temporary position at RTM, which he turned down.

Seeking a more permanent post, he took the post of broadcasting assistant at the station, which entailed duties as a emcee of certain shows as well.

Zechariah jumped into his new job without any prior experience, but he quickly developed a liking for his work.

He was also a reviewer for Movie Magazine in the 1980s.

He was also a bookworm with a passion for sci-fi novels, such as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.

Zechariah loved to play jazz guitar and his idols were Charlie Byrd, George Benson and even blues guitarist B.B. King.

Close friend and fellow musician Edwin Nathaniel said; "He was the Voice of Malaysia! It's sad to see him passing. He was such a nice guy and a pioneer of radio deejays."

Yasmin Yusuff, a former RTM colleague tweeted about Zechariah's demise saying, "RIP your man on the mic' Alan Zechariah, a pioneer Malaysian breakfast show radio star and the originator of the egg joke! A sad day."

Zechariah also played in a band called "Z".

Fellow band member Seto Chark was shocked to hear of his demise.

"We were supposed to celebrate his birthday and practice on Monday but we were jolted by the news that he was admitted into the hospital.

"We are all shocked by this news and our prayers go to his family," said Seto.

Ronnie Atkinson, his colleague at RTM for more than 30 years said, "We were great friends and go back a long time. He was the best man at my wedding in 1969.

"I remember him being a dedicated presenter and he just loved music.

"He was a great guitarist and he used to also sing harmony vocals with his late brother Derrick. They were known as the local Everly Brothers," said Atkinson, who added that he produced the Talentime programme in the 1970s that featured Zechariah as the emcee.

"We travelled to different states together in search of talent, and he captivated the crowd always," said Atkinson.

As a young boy, former RTM presenter and colleague Neubert Ambrose used to tune in to his shows.

"I will never forget his Memories Are Made of These show thanks to his great selection for jazz songs.

"He was a gentle person but had a strong, distinct voice. One thing for sure, I will never forget his wonderful smile," said Neubert.

His funeral will be held at St Ignatius church in Petaling Jaya on Thursday morning.


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"Poetry Under The Stars" at the Emirates Airline Literature Festival 2013

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 04:25 AM PDT

What better way to experience poetry than by flickering torchlight under the stars in a trackless, dark desert?

THE night was warm, and the desert seemed expansive, rising around us in gentle peaks like poised waves about to slump into the valley below. I stepped out of the 4WD vehicle and my feet instantly sank into powder-fine sand. This far away from the glitter of Dubai, capital of the United Arab Emirates, from the solidity of paved roads, a sense that I was floating encompassed me as I gazed around, a feeling similar to being out at sea.

With all the deep-held mysteries that the desert holds for man's imagination, what better place to listen to some of the best writers in the world romance the languages through that most magical of word-based mediums, poetry?

Thus did I and 200 eager participants find ourselves on a moonless night at a Bedu encampment as attendees of "Poetry Under The Stars", one of the many highlights of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, an annual event held in Dubai that brings together international talents in celebration of the written and spoken word from more than 30 countries around the world. This gathering, the fifth, took place from March 5 to 9.

Tonight, fest visitors would be treated to a star-studded cast of poets who would share their works with us around a bonfire in a torch-lit desert camp. The line-up included such lauded names as Simon Armitage, Roger McGough, Sjon, Ben Okri, and Jeet Thayil, together with local Arabic poets Adel Khozam and Nujoom Al Ghanem.

A chorus of Harabiya singers greeted us in their immaculate dishdasha (white robes) and stark white headdresses, singing and dancing in sequence and waving their camel sticks. We learnt later that the headgear is held in place by a black rope known as an agal, which is traditionally used to secure the headdress during the day and to hobble the camels by night so they don't wander too far from the campsite.

The campsite itself was grand and invoked just about every fantasy one has of the desert – flickering torches, rustic wooden shelters, a ground strewn with carpets and pillows, and, to complete the picture, a herd of camels actually made an appearance!

It brought a whole new perspective to one's previous idea of what "attention to detail" entailed.

The night's moderator was Paul Blezard, whose refined sense of humour had us in a semi-permanent state of chuckles with his witty introductions of each performance and the occasional wry remark at the festive flight of airplanes flying overhead.

I found myself spellbound, soaking in the atmosphere and capturing minute details with ecstatic, elevated senses. It was hard to imagine a more surreal setting than being taken out into the night from which all evidence of man's urban stamp has been removed and in which one is dwarfed by nature; where one is almost naked, ready and receptive to perceive new images and experience new emotions and perspectives.

It was a privilege to hear a string of human stories uttered as a thundering proclamation, or rattled out in staccato, or gently released into the night as if each syllable was a newborn dove. At such a time and in such a place, it is easy to recollect Stephen Fry, who once said that poetry was a primal impulse within us – perhaps as natural to us as our inclination to appreciate music and other forms of aesthetics.

I closed my eyes and listened to the words and experienced the way poetry as a medium delivers on the promise of expanding one's imagination and more – in flowering imageries that left a smoky echo in the corners, subtle but indelible. It was an incredibly intimate and moving experience.

During the recital His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, dropped by and shared the cushioned ground with us to the delight of all present. After the recital, we were served a traditional Arabic supper, and were free to purchase books and mingle with the authors.

It was an extraordinary series of performances that will not soon be forgotten, and neither will the ideas shared and friendships formed that night, under the desert sky.

‘No better festival’

Posted: 26 Mar 2013 04:21 AM PDT

THE Emirates Airline Literature Festival, now in its fifth year, took place in Dubai's Festival City in the United Arab Emirates from (UAE) March 5 to 9.

The five-day festival offered a smorgasbord of literary offerings catering to a wide range of ages and tastes – from the everyman (and child) down to veteran publishers, literary critics, and writers.

Weaving together such diverse tastes and interests as cooking and recitals to history and music, the festival managed to fulfil a symposium as wide as it was diverse – with 120 authors from more than 30 countries coming together to showcase a mosaic of lectures, recitals, roundtable discussions, masterclasses and workshops... in other words, all things celebratory of the written word.

The festival was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in partnership with Emirates airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, in a liberal display of cross cultural pollination showcasing Dubai's diversity.

Authors in attendance included such eminent names as Jeffrey Archer, Shashi Tharoor, Ian Rankin, Dan Rather, Alia Mamdouh, Waciny Laredj, Antony Beevor, Anupam Kher, and very proudly, Malaysia's winner of the Man Asian Booker prize, Tan Twan Eng.

In what can only be called a fantastic feat of organisation, the event halls were filed with the lively buzz of conversations as award winning authors rubbed shoulders with political journalists and children's book writers, with publishers and poets, students, hobbyists, and avid readers.

Lines snaked around author booths as fans queued up to memorialise meeting their favourite authors with autographs and photo opportunities.

Events open to participation included everything from poetry to politics, with key events including an opening anthem composed by Yousef Khan in recognition of the 2013 festival theme "Heroes and Villains", which was voiced by 200 children.

Another notable tribute to this character-driven theme was a traditional whodunnit murder-mystery dinner theatre enacted by the Dubai Drama Group, with top crime writers including Boris Akunin, Lynda La Plante, Ian Rankin and Jeffrey Deaver tasked to put their sleuthing skills to the test, together with festival participants.

Occurring alongside and simultaneously with the literature fest was the Penguin Fringe festival, which had many children's events and a line-up of recitals, debates and performances from talents both international and local.

More than 30,000 visitors thronged various halls and locations over five days, and more than 200 unique sessions were taught, presented or chaired by some of the most brilliant and informed literary minds of the day.

Perhaps a good representative comment of the crowd's enthusiastic appetite for this event is famed American crime writer Jeffery Deaver who, among other notable achievements, has the distinction of having written a James Bond novel.

A self-confessed aficionado of literary festivals, he enthused, "There is no better festival in the world than the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature."


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