Jumaat, 29 Mac 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Lilyhammer: Life in Norway

Posted: 30 Mar 2013 05:30 AM PDT

Lilyhammer star Steven van Zandt on 'taking care of business' in Norway.

IT'S not hard to make Steven van Zandt, 62, laugh. You just wouldn't expect it from an actor who played Tony Soprano's loyal consigliere (Italian for "counsellor") in the award-winning mob drama The Sopranos.

When the HBO series concluded in 2007, van Zandt's character Silvio Dante was lying comatose in the hospital while old friend Tony looked on. Silvio had a knack for "taking care" of informants and traitors in the series, but it appears that ultimately, he did not recover from an assassination attempt.

After The Sopranos, van Zandt said he had no further interest in acting. He chose to focus on his other ventures like hosting his weekly radio show, managing his record label and of course, being the lead guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

Then in 2011, he was approached by a husband-and-wife team with an idea for a television show. The pitch? A New York mobster who testified against his bosses in court is put into the witness protection programme in, of all places, Norway.

"I was not expecting to play a gangster again but it (Lilyhammer) was such a good idea! I couldn't resist it," he says in an exclusive interview organised by Maxman.TV via Skype from Oslo, Norway, where filming for Season 2 is currently underway.

"As you know I'm never a cold, winter person (his nickname is Miami Steve). But I love it now. You have to become a snow person here. I can only imagine that the weather in Malaysia is much nicer," he says when asked about the weather there.

In Lilyhammer, which has become a hit, Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano (van Zandt) testified against his mob colleagues in court. Fearing for his safety, he asks to be put into witness protection in Lillehammer, a small town in Norway. He is attracted by the "clean air, fresh white snow and gorgeous broads" which he saw in a clip of the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Van Zandt gleefully describes the premise as "the ultimate fish out of water story".

"Here, we have a New York gang member who is going through life – in Norway – the American way. He is trying to apply the Italian-American gangster mentality in a country where there is virtually no crime!"

He gives a hilarious example of the law-abiding nature of Norwegians: "In Norway, if the light is red, they don't cross the street! And here is Frank, someone who is not used to following the rules. He becomes frustrated by the system and tries to find his way around it."

To top it all off, Frank mistakes his neighbour for a postal worker; the lady turns out to be the local chief of police.

Van Zandt adds that the fact not a lot of people know about Norway adds layers to the show's dark, gritty humour.

"In my country, people think Norway is the capital of Sweden. You can't really name too many celebrities from Norway. It's such an obscure country that people don't know much about it. We're able to use that aspect in our show, and let viewers discover Norway through Frank's eyes."

Frank has to warm to the town anyway, since he can't go back to New York. Eventually he opens up a bar and falls in love with Sigrid, a single mum. In one episode, Frank is seen giving advice on women to Sigrid's son Jonas.

We asked van Zandt if he'd take Frank's word on women; he burst into laughter. "Would I take Frank's advice? (laughs) It would be interesting if the series continues, and Frank has a daughter. How would he deal with her after what he said earlier about women being men's reward after a hard day's work.

"It's the kind of love that you want to consume, or own. It's actually quite complicated – sort of a philosophical thing – which we don't have time for now," he says while laughing away.

Free-spirited van Zandt is tight-lipped about details of Season 2, but he is happy to divulge a little bit on Frank's new business – fatherhood.

"He and his girlfriend are expecting twins, so there's that (laughs). They are also going to start the season with a bunch of new characters coming into town starting a car-related business. Well, because apparently the economy is so bad everywhere except in Norway. And then these new characters clash with Frank and his gang."

As for how Frank is dealing with fatherhood, let's just say his character's no-nonsense, tough-talking demeanour gets him in a little bit of trouble with his better half.

"It's safe to say that Frank is not going to cut down on swearing. In fact, a funny thing happens with his kid because of that," he says and there goes that laugh again.

It's evident that van Zandt is very fond of his character in Lilyhammer. He even says he doesn't mind what some viewers might say about him pretty much reprising the same role from The Sopranos.

"It was the first thing I thought of as well. I asked myself; do I care about how much people think of me as a versatile actor? Then I realised that I don't care."

He adds: "If people are going to think of Lilyhammer as Silvio Dante (from The Sopranos) waking up from a coma and ending up in Norway, then let them! All I care about is doing good work."

Van Zandt also gives his one-line pitch on why viewers should catch Lilyhammer: "TV is mostly full of s**t but this (Lilyhammer) is a really a good show," and having said that, he's laughing again.

Go to www.maxman.tv to catch full Season 1 episodes of Lilyhammer.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Pope leads traditional Good Friday rite at Rome Colosseum

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 05:57 PM PDT

ROME (Reuters) - Thousands of people holding candles turned out at Rome's Colosseum to see Pope Francis mark the first Good Friday of his pontificate with a traditional "Way of the Cross" procession around the ancient amphitheatre.

Pope Francis lies as he prays during the Celebration of the Lord's Passion in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

Pope Francis lies as he prays during the Celebration of the Lord's Passion in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

Francis, who was elected on March 13, sat under a red canopy on Rome's Palatine Hill as representatives of the faithful from around the world alternated carrying a wooden cross on the day Christians commemorated Jesus's death by crucifixion.

"Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent," the Argentine pope said, speaking slowly in Italian and in a sombre voice at the end of the evening service.

"And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us," he said.

"Christians must respond to evil with good," he said, urging them to beware "the evil that continues to work in us and around us".

The meditations for the 14 "stations of the cross" which commemorate events in the last hours of Jesus's life - from when Pontius Pilate condemned him to death to his burial in a rock tomb - were written by young people from Lebanon.

The wooden cross was passed from one group and person to another - including a person in a wheelchair. Those who carried it came from Italy, India, China, Nigeria, Syria, Lebanon and Brazil.

Several of the meditations, read by actors, referred to conflict in the Middle East and the suffering of its people.

One meditation called the Middle East "a land lacerated by injustice and violence".

Francis praised those Lebanese Christians and Muslims who tried to live together and who, he said, in doing so gave a sign of hope to the world.

Prayers were read our for exploited and abused children, refugees, the homeless and victims of religious intolerance, war, violence, terrorism, poverty, injustice and drug addiction.

There were also prayers against abortion and euthanasia.

Good Friday is the second of four hectic days leading up to Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar.

On Holy Thursday, two young women were among 12 people whose feet the pope washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite.

After celebrating an Easter eve service, on Easter Sunday he will deliver his first "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message in St. Peter's Square.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

North Korea says to enter "state of war" against South Korea - KCNA

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 05:23 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Saturday it was entering a "state of war" with South Korea in a continuing escalation of tough rhetoric against Seoul and Washington after coming under international sanctions for its nuclear test.

"From this time on, the North-South relations will be entering the state of war and all issues raised between the North and the South will be handled accordingly," a statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency said.

KCNA said the statement was issued jointly by the North's government, ruling party and other organizations.

North Korea has been threatening to attack the South and U.S. military bases almost on a daily basis since the beginning of March, when U.S. and South Korean militaries started routine drills, and has ordered its armed forces on the highest alert.

But the impoverished state has kept a joint industrial zone that is the source of hard currency where hundreds of South Korean workers and vehicles cross enter daily after crossing the rival Koreas' heavily armed border.

Few believe North Korea will risk starting a full-out war.

The two Koreas have been in a technical state of war because their 1950-53 conflict ended under an armistice and not a peace treaty, although Pyongyang earlier in March declared the truce no longer valid.

(Reporting by Sung-won Shim; Editing by Jack Kim)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kenyans await ruling in disputed presidential race

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 04:35 PM PDT

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's Supreme Court rules on Saturday on a challenge to Uhuru Kenyatta's presidential election win, a judgment seen as a test of the democratic system five years after another disputed vote triggered tribal bloodshed.

President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta displays the certificate from Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declaring him the winner of the country's presidential election in Nairobi March 9, 2013. REUTERS/Noor Khamis

President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta displays the certificate from Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declaring him the winner of the country's presidential election in Nairobi March 9, 2013. REUTERS/Noor Khamis

The country's outgoing president called for calm ahead of the decision that will either confirm the victory of Kenya's richest man Kenyatta or force another vote.

Defeated candidate Raila Odinga says the March 4 poll was marred by technical problems and widespread rigging. Both politicians have promised to abide by the court's final word.

Many ordinary Kenyans insist they will not allow a repeat of the anarchy that killed more than 1,200 people and hammered the economy following a dispute over the last election in 2007.

"We have moved on," said Monica Njagi, 28, owner of an Internet cafe in the port city of Mombasa. "Whatever the ruling, we shall go by it ... We have enough useful lessons from our past."

Peaceful voting this time round, and the fact that the dispute is being played out by lawyers not machete-wielding gangs, has already helped repair the image of east Africa's largest economy.

Saturday's ruling will test whether Kenyans trust their reformed judiciary and whether supporters of rival candidates will accept the result quietly in a nation where tribal loyalties largely determine political allegiances.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has yet to set a time on Saturday that he and his panel of judges will issue a verdict. Comments at a brief hearing on Friday suggested it might not come till later on Saturday.

"As the country awaits the Supreme Court ruling which is due this Easter weekend, I call upon all of us to accept the ruling and maintain peace," outgoing President Mwai Kibaki said in a message to mark the Christian Easter holiday.


Western donors are watching the fate of a trade partner and a country they see as vital to regional stability. But they also face a headache if Kenyatta wins, because he is facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

Kenyatta is accused of helping incite the violence after the 2007 vote but has denied the charges and promised to cooperate to clear his name.

Western nations have a policy of having only "essential contacts" with indictees of the court. They say that will not affect dealings with the government as a whole. But they still face a delicate balancing act to avoid driving a long-time ally of the West closer to emerging powers such as China.

Neighbouring African states are also keeping a careful eye on the proceedings after they were hit by the knock-on effects when vital trade routes through Kenya were shut down five years ago.

Kenyatta comfortably beat Odinga in terms of votes won, 50.07 percent versus 43.28 percent, but only narrowly avoided a run-off after winning just 8,100 votes more than the 50 percent needed to be declared the winner outright.

In the Supreme Court's hearing on Friday, the legal teams reviewed results of recounts ordered in 22 of the 33,400 polling stations after Odinga said more votes were cast than registered voters. Both sides said the recounts supported their arguments.

Odinga's team argued that the failure of technology in tallying undermined the vote. Rival lawyers said any irregularities or technical hiccups had an insignificant impact and did not change the overall outcome.

International observers said voting itself was credible, but diplomats say observers did not watch the full five-day count.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

HLB chief to retire on June 30 to pursue her next chapter of life

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 06:13 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: In an announcement that caught the market by surprise, Hong Leong Bank Bhd (HLB) says its group managing director and chief executive officer, Datuk Yvonne Chia (pic), will be retiring effective June 30, after a decade at the helm.

The bank said in a press release that a successor would be announced in due course, subject to approval by Bank Negara.

In the statement, Chia, 60, said she truly believed that HLB was the "finest bank in the region."

"It has been a privilege to lead this wonderful organisation through both the best and challenging times for our industry. Our success is owed to the resilience and quality of our management team and the stewardship of our chairman and board of directors.

"Hong Leong Bank has always remained profitable, paid steady dividends and maintained the highest standards while consistently investing in better ways to serve our customers, including adopting new online and mobile banking technology," she said.

She added that "with the bank having emerged to a strong and prosperous future, it is now a good time to exit and pursue the next chapter of my life."

Analysts said they were surprised by the Chia's decision to retire. "It is definitely a surprise as Chia is essentially the face of Hong Leong," an analyst said.

Another analyst concurred that the move came as a surprise, though added that the bank would be in good hands after Chia left.

"A big organisation like HLB will certainly have its own succession planning strategies in place and certainly has already a worthy successor in mind," she said.

In addition to her leadership at HLB, Chia also served as a director of Hong Leong Financial Group, HLB and Hong Leong Islamic Bank Bhd, as well as chairman of the AFC Merchant Bank Ltd, a regional merchant bank owned by banks and financial institutions from Asean.

She is a council member of the Association of Banks Malaysia, Institute of Banks and also a director of MEPS, an industry payment network and ATM systems.

Chia will probably be best known for her determination in integrating HLB with EON Bank Bhd in 2011, a RM5.06bil deal that took some 15 months to be concluded.

Hong Leong Financial Group president Raymond Choong said in a statement that the bank's board of directors "are truly appreciative" of Chia's leadership with the organisation for more than 10 years.

"Datuk Yvonne has led the transformation and growth of HLB into one of the most successful banks in the financial industry.

"She has guided HLB through an incredible period of change and growth and has done so with utmost integrity and a sharp focus on creating value for our customers, shareholders and employees.

"Shareholder loyalty and employee commitment have remained solid, and we have achieved prudent growth. I want to express the gratitude of our board of directors and shareholders for Datuk Yvonne's role in these achievements, and wish her great success as she embarks on a new phase in her life," he said.

What keeps Sogo on the go

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 05:49 PM PDT

FOR this week's Power Lunch interview we had the opportunity to catch up with Andrew Lim, managing director of Sogo (KL) Sdn Bhd, at the Sogo Siang Seafood restaurant.

Upon introduction and query as to my background, Lim informed me that we have a shared a similar background. We were both from Penang, reading law and working with newspapers, although not quite sharing the rapid pace in rank promotion.

"I was a cub reporter in 1977 with The Straits Echo. I became a reporter and was promoted to sub-editor. I was there for a year, then I went to the UK to continue my studies in Law (Cardiff University). I was an English Literature student at Penang Free School. I was in the Middle Temple and got my barrister-ship way back in 1981. I didn't even have money to stay on. The call was in July, so I couldn't afford the three months. So, I was an absent chair. I've been practising for 25 years in Penang. My father and sister are barristers. We have 13 lawyers in the whole extended family," Lim informs me before explaining how his involvement with Sogo started.

Sogo was originally fully owned by Sogo Japan. Lim was previously their legal advisor and a board member of Sogo KL. In 2002 Lim initiated the management buyout and Sogo is today 100% Malaysian owned and operated, but with a franchise agreement with Sogo Japan to allow the continual usage of the Sogo name.

100% Malaysian

He tells me that the agreement was structured in such a way that they have full control over the management of the store and since then, they have adapted it to fit the needs of their Malaysian customer base.

"This is not McDonald's where you can have uniformed standardisation. We have a mass of products and customers here and each customer has his or her individual need and requirements. We incorporated the best of what they have in Japan and adapted to what the customers wish for in Malaysia."

For a brief run-through of their story, Lim shares how Sogo was previously focused on international luxury brand goods. From 2002, it has focused on high-end Malaysian labels but an emphasis on maintaining a 5-star ambience.

He says all the Malaysian brand names have worked closely with Sogo. He, however, prefers to view this not just as a supplier-client relationship but rather a partnership as he says the relationship with the brand owners has spanned over a decade.

"Malaysia MODA started in KL Sogo. In those days, the 7th floor had an allocated space for all the young designers of Malaysia to design clothes. Carven Ong was one of them. It's was like a little boutique environment for them to conduct their business," he says, showing pride in our home-grown designers.

He tells me that if I were to look into their backgrounds, I would be impressed by how much they've trained in perfecting their art and by how far they've come.

"SS Chiang of Bonia is very low profile and a wonderful man. He's a leather craftsman. He started off as an apprentice making handbags in Penang. In those days, Penang island had free-port status and all the leather went there free of tax. All the apprentices would go there to learn to make things. Datuk Jimmy Choo also started his shoe-making trade in Penang. We carry all the top Malaysian brands. We deliberately niched away' from the international brands."

As we discuss the brands that are carried in the Sogo store, Lim explains that some people don't realise it but brands such as Bonia, sourced their leather from Italy, worked with Italian designers and have steered away from manufacturing in China to maintain a high-standard of quality.

Departmental store

As we discussed the brands that they're currently carrying and their future plans, I can't help but wonder if it's in their books to anchor a mall. Since many departmental stores have gone from starting as standalone formats, but have embraced the change to a smaller presence in shopping malls. "We have had many proposals coming to us requesting us to consider anchoring them. But, they don't have that large a space... It's sometimes difficult to work with developers who can accommodate our large format. We have been actively considering plans for the last three years and have two or three sites under discussion," he says without giving away anything further away.

However, for the moment they're focusing mainly on improving the shopping experience at their KL Sogo departmental store. Informing me that the ongoing renovations are just the tip of the iceberg and that they've engaged an American design team to do a makeover on their store.

"They're very well-established in California as well as in Japan. In the worldwide retail trade, the Americans have actually refined retail to a very high pinnacle. They can measure the light factor, they call it the lux factor. They've studied what kind of lighting is suitable for customers mood to shop, what sort of lighting is suitable for them to feel comfortable."

KL Sogo stands at a gross of 1.2 million sq ft with 700,000 sq ft available as shopping floor space. However, only 450,000 sq ft of that is currently being used for departmental store sales. Lim explains that the remaining has been sectioned for restaurants, lounges and a soon-to-open wellness centre. He informs me that there are two floors offering dining options. The lower ground floor comprises franchise food outlets, the sixth floor offering a food court to satisfy all palates, and their Sogo managed Chinese and Japanese restaurants to satisfy the gastronomic needs of the leisurely patron.

Shopper priority

After telling me about the layout of their floor space, he throws in a line while feigning grudge, before laughing it off. "The most important human being in the retail industry are the lady shoppers," he says, while acknowledging it's something they have taken to heart to respect.

This is most reflected in their ladies focused lounge.

"Basically, it's a very women orientated lounge. Manicure, pedicure, spas, saunas, steam baths and gym area for ladies only. Men are very badly treated. We just throw them to a small gym. They can use the karaoke room and access our computers. The platinum lounge is a place where they can chill out. This is basically meant for all the Datuk's and Tan Sri's to sit there while their wives shop. Then they'll call up and say, darling come down with your credit card. You have to pamper your top customers," he shares with a hearty laugh.

But, for the men out there, don't fret. Its wellness centre will be set to cater to both men and women. Peak Fitness, is set to soft-launch in May/June and to hard launch by year-end. Lim tells me that it's not just a gym but that they have taken to overlay the usual gym facilities with wellness advice and counselling. They'll be offering diet advice and even simple medical testing.

"We want you to live long so that you can carry on being our customers."

On why they have chosen to undertake the wellness centre themselves and not to simply lease it out to external operators, Lim shares that it's always been their preference to be able to self-manage.

"We like to control the level of service and the experience that our customers have. You can't do that when you're working with a tenant. So long as you pay me rental I have no say in what you do when you are actually administering. I cannot micro-manage the administration of your services."

Online shopping and credit cards

In addition to the wellness centre and extensive makeover, Sogo KL is taking baby-steps to add to their appeal by including Sogo's own products. They currently do have Sogo branded supermarket products and are exploring their online possibilities.

"We are actually putting in our online platform and have done a lot of study on e-commerce. The challenge is actually the logistics of the delivery of goods to your customers. We went to do a study trip in San Francisco and were very lucky to get a briefing by Macys. We met Kent Anderson, the president in charge of Macys.com, and he told us that they had to build up a critical mass of products on their website. You need to have that mass of products so that you become an active website. If you have only 10 products, nobody cares," he shares, while inquiring about my online shopping habits while I was living in the US.

Admittedly, I did partake in quite a bit of it, and have the store branded cards and credit cards to prove it. Which brought me to enquire as to whether there will be a progression their current Sogo card would be taking. Slightly cautious to not spill the details too soon, Lim tells me that it is indeed in their plans.

"We are working with a bank to make it into a credit card. I think we're going there and have just finalised our discussions with them. We are waiting for them to come back, I think they are offering both Visa and MasterCard facilities," he says.

And the end of this year should see the launch of their Sogo credit card. With my tummy happily satiated and the topics for our interview discussed, we adjourned to tour the departmental store and to explore their Gold and Platinum lounges.

Eye on Stock

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 05:47 PM PDT

KOMARKCORP Bhd advanced to a high of 46 sen during intra-day session, also the best level since August 2007 amid fresh buying momentum before trimming gains slightly in late session to settle at 45 sen, up 5.5 sen yesterday.

The recovery in the price of this stock was evidently steeper in the past three days, supported by growing trading volumes.

Elsewhere, a significant positive breakthrough was sighted on the daily bar chart. Combined together, the bullish development is likely to open the window for a higher move going forward.

The immediate upside objective would be to challenge the relatively strong resistance, resting at the 5557 sen band. The upper stiff hurdle is expected at the 66 sen mark, at which a decisive major breakout may see the bulls becoming more aggressive. if so, the next target to look for would be the 90 sen level.

Apparently, the daily slow-stochastic momentum index attempted to reverse up from the 63% level. It had retraced from the top earlier of the week.

In addition, the 14-day relative strength index continued to climb from a reading of 43 to close at the 89-point level yesterday.

Meanwhile, the daily moving average convergence/divergence histogram expanded positively and sharply against the daily signal line to stay bullish. It had issued a buy signal on Tuesday.

Technically, the indicators are pretty promising, suggesting Komarkcorp shares are poised to scale up in the short term.

As for the downside, the initial support is envisaged at the 40 sen level. The lower support of 35 sen is viewed as a more solid floor.

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

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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Baseball: Giant $167 mil deal for San Francico catcher Posey

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 06:36 PM PDT

SAN FRANCSICO: The World Series champion San Francisco Giants kept a key piece in place Friday, agreeing to a nine-year contract worth a reported US$167 million with National League Most Valuable Player Buster Posey.

The contract covers three years in which the star catcher would be eligible for salary arbitration as well as five years of free agency.

It also includes an option for 2022 and a no-trade clause, according to a report on MLB.com.

The nine years covered by the deal, including the 2013 season, make it the longest ever for a catcher and the reported value eclipses the six-year, $127.5 million deal inked by pitcher Matt Cain prior to last season as the richest in Giants club history.

Posey came back from devastating injury to help the Giants win the World Series last season with a four-game sweep of Detroit.

He was the National League batting champion with a .336 average, joining two-time winner Ernie Lombardi as the only catchers in the league's history to win batting titles.

Posey had missed most of the 2011 campaign with a broken bone and torn ligaments in his left ankle as the result of a collision at the plate May 25 of that year.

He drove in 103 runs, hit 24 home runs and caught Cain's perfect game last June 13 against the Houston Astros. - AFP

Golf: Drowsy Dufner sparks Twitter trend

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 06:26 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: US golfer Jason Dufner's laid-back lounging at a charity youth center visit sparked a Twitter trend on Friday as his fellow pros - and a host of others - posted pictures of themselves "Dufnering".

"What can I say, I was tired, my back hurt from sitting on the floor, and we were talking about relaxation and focusing," Dufner tweeted after the picture of him lolling on the floor with a group of children became a social media sensation.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy was among the many to tweet a picture of himself sprawled in a "Dufnering" pose.

"It's the best thing ever," McIlroy enthused of Dufnering after firing a second-round 70 at the Houston Open on Friday.

US golfer Keegan Bradley had posted the picture of Dufner on Twitter on Thursday evening.

Luke Donald Dufnered, as did fellow English golfer Ian Poulter.

Bradley, Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson posted a picture of themselves Dufnering together at the golf course.

LPGA golfer Paula Creamer got in on the act, posting a picture of herself on Twitter Dufnering in the shade of a bougainvilla, a stuffed Pink Panther Dufnering right alongside her.

"I've never had so much entertainment," McIlroy said.

"I was on my own last night in the room and just going through things. The laughs, it's just so much." - AFP

Rugby: Hauraki fails to prevent Castleford slump

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 06:23 PM PDT

LONDON: A Weller Hauraki-inspired comeback proved in vain for Castleford Tigers who fell to the bottom of Super League after going down 37-16 to Wakefield Wildcats on Friday.

Second-row Hauraki was the catalyst for a second-half resurgence from the Tigers with three unanswered scores from Jordan Thompson (2) and Richard Owen offering hope after they went into the interval 25-0 adrift.

But the Wildcats, who had Tim Smith, Danny Kirmond, Peter Fox and Richard Mathers on the scoresheet in the first half, wrapped the game up late on with further tries from Fox and Lee Smith.

Earlier in the day, Huddersfield Giants missed the chance to reclaim top spot with a last-gasp 21-20 defeat to lowly Salford City with Marc Sneyd's late drop goal proving the difference.

Rhys Hanbury crossed twice and Patrick Ah Van notched 18 points for Widnes Vikings as the strugglers got back to winning ways against Warrington Wolves, triumphing 38-22.

The Vikings had fallen to a 62-4 hammering at Wigan Warriors on Saturday but responded with key performances from New South Wales-born Hanbury and Ah Van.

Ah Van touched down once and kicked seven goals as the Vikings fought back from a half-time deficit.

Meanwhile, two tries from David Hodgson saw Hull KR emerge from cross-city rivals Hull FC with the bragging rights and a 23-10 win.

Former Black and Whites hooker Josh Hodgson was also on the scoresheet for the visitors who claimed their sixth win in seven seasons on KC Stadium soil.

Wigan moved back to the top of the table after Pat Richards' double saw off arch rivals St Helens 28-16.

Richards, who recently surpassed 200 appearances for the Warriors since his move from Wests Tigers in 2006, scored either side of the break, the second of which halted the Saints' second-half fightback.

Tries from Richards, Sam Tomkins and Josh Charnley put Wigan 18-0 ahead before Paul Clough, Francis Meli and Tommy Makinson gave the visitors hope.

But Dom Crosby and a late Richards effort sealed the points for 2010 Grand Final winners.

On Thursday, Bradford centre Adrian Purtell scored his first try since recovering from a heart attack, helping the Bulls to an 18-18 draw against Leeds Rhinos in the process.

Purtell, a 2012 signing from Penrith Panthers, only returned to action earlier in March after suffering a heart attack in May 2012 and grabbed the Bulls' first try of the evening at Headingley.

Mitchell Achurch had sent the sides in level 12-12 at half-time with a well-worked try before Jamie Peacock put Leeds in control after the break.

But Adam Sidlow's late score and Jamie Foster's kick secured the Bulls a dramatic point.

New Zealand international Zeb Taia grabbed two quickfire tries for Catalan Dragons who saw off London Broncos 30-24. - AFP

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Michelle Yeoh names turtle hatcheries after family members

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 07:46 AM PDT

SEMATAN: Visitors to Sarawak's Talang-Satang National Park can now visit the Sy Kai, Michelle Thompson, Caroline and Christian Hu Hu turtle hatcheries, named after international movie star Datuk Seri Michelle Yeoh's family members.

Yeoh (pic) was in Pulau Talang Besar, an island in Talang-Satang National Park to promote conservation of the state's marine turtle population, and was impressed by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation's (SFC) efforts.

"The SFC did an incredible job and I am sure everyone, including the media, will continue to pledge their support to make this programme even better.

"This is very important work. If we do not protect them, they (the turtles) will be gone," she said.

During the visit, Yeoh released 17 newly-hatched turtles into the sea, adopted and named 10 turtle hatcheries which contained 800 eggs.

Talang-Satang National Park covers a total area of approximately 19,400 hectares (19.4 sq km), and is approximately 20-minutes away from the coastal town of Sematan by boat.

Talang-Satang National Park accounts for 95% of all the turtle landings in Sarawak, mainly that of the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) species. - Bernama

Lahad Datu: Fewer than 10 Sulu gunmen remain, says Sabah police chief

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 06:09 AM PDT

LAHAD DATU: Fewer than 10 Sulu gunmen remain from the 200 that landed in Kampung Tanduo, said Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib.

"I can't say that there are no more terrorists. I believe they still exist but their number is small, probably less than 10," he told a press conference at Ops Daulat headquarters in Felda Sahabat 16 on Friday.

To date, security forces have killed 68 terrorists while 121 people were detained under the Security Offences Act (Special Measures) 2012 and 443 others for various offences.

Mopping-up operations have cleared five villages that were the scene of clashes between security forces and terrorists.

With Kampung Tanduo, Kampung Tanjung Batu and Kampung Tanjung Labian clear, security forces are now focusing on Tanjung Bilis and Lok Buani.

Residents of Kampung Tanjung Labian will be allowed to return after family and village heads inspect their houses with an assessment team on Saturday.

Hamza added that 20 to 25 residents of Kampung Tanjung Batu whose houses were not seriously damaged would be allowed to return home on Saturday, while those with destroyed houses would continue staying at temporary evacuation centres.

Security forces will remain stationed in the villages as a security measure.

"In addition, we will also perform other policing services to restore the confidence of the people," Hamza added. - Bernama

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Malaysia Airlines gets sixth Airbus A380

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 05:55 AM PDT

SEPANG: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) took delivery of its sixth Airbus A380 aircraft on Friday, the last of a purchase order made by the carrier in Dec 2003.

MAS group CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the plane was also the 100th A380 to be released from its assembly plant in Toulouse, France.

"It's a long time coming, and we're very happy to receive the sixth aircraft," he told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

According to MAS, the aircraft departed from France on Thursday before arriving in Malaysia at around 3:30pm.

With a capacity of 494 seats, MAS plans to use the plane as part of the A380 fleet's double daily trips to London and single daily trips to Paris.

The A380s will also fly daily trips to Hong Kong, starting May 1, 2013.

Ahmad said the A380 will replace MAS' single daily flight to Hong Kong with its Boeing 777 flight, as the carrier was confident of an increased passenger volume.

On the possibility of adding new A380s to the MAS fleet, Ahmad said the company wanted to get used to the aircraft first before making any decisions.

MAS' first A380 touched down in KLIA on May 30 last year. The airline received another three aircraft in 2012, with the fifth arriving in February.

Ahmad added that MAS was looking for more pilots with the expansion of its fleet, and actively recruiting cabin crew.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) senior general manager (operations) Datuk Azmi Murad congratulated MAS on its latest addition.

He said that MAHB had upgraded KLIA's runaways, taxiways, parking aprons and gates to prepare for the arrival of the A380s.

According to Azmi, only Emirates and MAS operated A380s at KLIA so far.

He added that KLIA would serve as an "alternate aerodrome" for Singapore International Airlines in the event of bad weather or Changi Airport's closure.

Video: A milestone takeoff for MAS' first A380 in 2012

Malaysia Airlines' no. 1 A380 takes off from Airbus' Toulouse, France facility on 28 June 2012 for a flight to Kuala-Lumpur in advance of the milestone jetliner's 1 July service entry. This 494-seat aircraft which is the first of six the airline has on order will operate on Malaysia's Kuala-Lumpur to London route when it begins revenue operations.

Video: MAS' first A380 being prepared for delivery

The first A380 for Malaysia Airlines is prepared for its 2012 delivery in this video montage, which highlights the milestone jetliner's final assembly, painting process, cabin installation and more. Malaysia Airlines' no. 1 A380 which features a special livery accommodates 494 passengers in a three-class configuration.

Video: Farnborough 2012 - An attention-grabbing A380 flight demonstration

The second A380 for Malaysia Airlines took centre stage during its flight presentation at the 2012 Farnborough International Airshow, which demonstrated the double-deck jetliner's excellent handling qualities, maneuverability and performance.

Related Stories:
MAS begins daily flights to Paris on Airbus A380
MAS to begin KL-Paris flights daily on A380 from March 1
MAS to fly daily to Paris from March 1
MAS takes delivery of third Airbus A380 for London route
MAS launches super jumbo A380 service to Heathrow
A380 arrives 10 years after it was ordered
The A380 has landed

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Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths dies aged 65

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 07:16 AM PDT

LONDON: British actor Richard Griffiths, best known for his roles as Harry Potter's uncle and in the cult film "Withnail & I", has died aged 65, his agent said on Friday.

The portly star of stage and screen, one of Britain's best loved character actors, died on Thursday from complications following heart surgery, Simon Beresford said.

Griffiths will be forever remembered as Uncle Monty by fans of cult classic "Withnail & I", although he reached his biggest audience as Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films.

Daniel Radcliffe, who played the boy wizard in the blockbuster Potter series, led the tributes to a man he said had offered him "encouragement, tutelage and humour".

The two men worked together on the Harry Potter films and later in the play Equus.

"Any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence. I am proud to say I knew him," Radcliffe said in a statement.

Griffiths was born on July 31, 1947 in Yorkshire in northern England, the son of a steelworker. His parents were both deaf so he had to learn sign language at an early age.

He left school at 15 and worked as a porter for a while, but his boss persuaded him to go back to education, to study drama. He later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, excelling in playing the clown.

Early film credits included "Chariots of Fire", "The French Lieutenant's Woman" and "Gandhi", before he landed a starring role in the 1987 comedy "Withnail & I".

Griffiths played the eccentric gay uncle of Withnail, an out-of-work, alcoholic actor played by Richard E. Grant, in a film now regarded as a British classic.

Grant said in a message on Twitter: "My beloved 'Uncle Monty' Richard Griffiths died last night. Chin-Chin my dear friend."

Nicholas Hytner, the director of London's National Theatre who directed Griffiths in one of his biggest stage hits, The History Boys, said he was "the life of every party".

He recalled anecdotes that "would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting. The only way to stop them was to tell him you were walking away".

Griffiths won a Tony and an Olivier award for his role as an inspirational teacher in The History Boys, and was nominated for a Bafta for best actor for the film version.

"His performance in The History Boys was quite overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously," said Hytner.

As a stage actor, Griffiths demanded his audience's full attention, having twice stopped a show to order people out of the theatre after their mobile telephones rang out.

He also had a successful television career, starring as a crime-solving chef in TV series "Pie In The Sky" in the 1990s, and he was awarded an OBE for services to drama in 2007.

Last year Griffiths starred alongside Danny DeVito in The Sunshine Boys in London and was due to reprise the role in Los Angeles in September.

In a statement, Beresford said his client had "brightened my days and enriched the life of anyone he came into contact with", and said his thoughts went out to Griffiths' wife Heather.

"Richard gave acting a good name. He was a remarkable man and one of our greatest and best-loved actors. He will be greatly missed," the agent said. - AFP

Movies Coming Soon

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 01:45 AM PDT

The Host – Director Andrew Niccol tackles Stephenie Meyer's tale involving aliens and a bizarre love story.

Humankind is threatened when an unseen enemy takes over people's bodies, erasing their memories in the process.

One young woman decides to risk everything to protect the people she cares for.

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and Diane Kruger.

Codename: Jackal – This 2012 Korean film will be in limited release from April 11.

It revolves around Bong Min-jung (Song Ji-hyo), a super-efficient assassin who is hired to kill a celebrity (Kim Jae-joong).

Ryan Gosling, Charlize Theron may star in Pistorius biopic

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 12:57 AM PDT

According to The Daily Mail, Ryan Gosling (pic) and Charlize Theron are apparently being wooed to play Paralympic Gold medalist Oscar Pistorius and his deceased girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a biopic.

According to the British tabloid, Hollywood is already working on a movie about the criminal case that has rocked the sports world since February.

Two screenplays are currently being written, one of them under the banner of a large studio.

These two cinema projects are still at the rumor stage for the moment.

Oscar Pistorius had his two shinbones amputated before he was a year old and has gone on to compete as a runner in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In February, the 26-year-old was accused of shooting and killing his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

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Friendship across racial divide

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 07:02 AM PDT

The story of an unexpected friendship that blossoms, and survives, despite seemingly impossible odds.

The Housemaid's Daughter

Author: Barbara Mutch

Publisher: Headline Review, 401 pages

EVERY once in a while, you come across a book that grips you, that grabs you by the shoulders and the heart and keeps you engrossed until the very last page. This is what Barbara Mutch does with her debut novel, The Housemaid's Daughter.

Narrated in the starkly honest and compelling voice of the titular character, African-American Ada, The Housemaid's Daughter tells the story of two lives bound together by loyalty, friendship, music, and love.

In 1919, Cathleen Harrington travels from Ireland to South Africa to marry her fiancé, who she has not seen for five years. Estranged from her family and finding herself at odds with the harsh landscape of South Africa, Cathleen develops an unlikely friendship with Miriam the housemaid, and later, with Ada.

In Ada, Cathleen finds a kindred spirit, someone who not only understands her but also someone that she can understand and relate to in a way that she cannot with her own daughter and her disengaged husband.

And so, Cathleen educates Ada, and under her guidance, Ada blossoms into not just a highly literate individual, but an accomplished pianist as well.

Ada's love and passion for music is chronicled throughout the novel, and in many instances, it is music that saves Ada during the bleakest periods of her life.

During the course of World War II, Cathleen's son Phillip – who is close to Ada – joins to army, and returns injured and severely traumatised. It is Ada who nurses him through this dark time, and who offers him comfort.

Mutch doesn't sugar coat the horrors of the war and nor does she attempt to soften the harshness of South African history.

The increasing racial prejudice that has been ever present in Ada's life takes on a darker tone as she grows up. For example, a seemingly simple action, when Phillip hugs Ada goodbye at the train station, has poignant resonance because a white boy just didn't do that in South Africa at that time. And that he does so in full view of everyone endears him to Ada more than ever.

The introduction of apartheid, the system of racial segregation enforced by South Africa's National Party through legislation beginning in 1950, puts Ada and eventually the Harringtons in a potentially explosive political situation.

And when Ada is thrown in jail simply because she tries to help a friend, she unintentionally becomes a symbol of hope for the black community.

Mutch also draws attention to the position of mixed race people during this period. Not quite white and not quite black, these people were ostracized by both communities simply because they were different. Through Ada's eyes, we learn how difficult life is for mixed-race people particularly children.

If there is one problem I have with this book, it is with the character of Cathleen Harrington.

For a character who plays such a central role in Ada's life, she at times appears lacklustre and lost. Even her "secret conversations" with Ada did not forge a connection with me. This made it quite difficult to empathise with Cathleen even during her most vulnerable moments, which is a shame because so much of what Ada was and what Ada became can be attributed to the friendship and affection that Cathleen shows her.

Despite the one-dimensionality of her character, however, Cathleen's love and affection for Ada and Miriam does come across as genuine, and Ada's love and loyalty to "madam" does much to endear Cathleen to the reader.

Some have called The Housemaid's Daughter the South African version of Kathryn Stockett's The Help (2009), which is about black maids in America's segregated South and which is also set in the 1950s. Although there are similar issues discussed in the novels, they are not the same.

The Housemaid's Daughter stands on its own as a story of loyalty, duty, love, and music. It is a story of a friendship that survives seemingly impossible odds. But most of all, it is a story of hope.

Author David Finch seeks to be a better husband

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 05:11 AM PDT

The Journal Of Best Practices: A Memoir Of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, And One Man's Quest To Be A Better Husband

Author: David Finch

Publisher: Scribner, 224 pages

DAVID Finch discovers that he suffers from Asperger syndrome five years into his marriage, when wife Kristen sits him down with a diagnostic questionnaire. The discovery does not astonish him; rather, it allows him to understand the root cause of his behavioral issues and sets him on a journey of self-discovery, self-improvement and, finally, self-acceptance.

Realising the impact his condition has on his roles as husband and father, Finch embarks on a mission to become better in these areas, relying for strength on his sense of humour and kaleidoscopic thought processes. Finch shares the details of his quest here through collected notes, Post-Its, and elaborate schemes in what he calls The Journal Of Best Practices.

With honesty and self-deprecating humour, Finch allows the reader into his life of obsession, preoccupations and compulsions. Quirky details of his condition, such as the need for routine and uniformity (lining items in a particular order, circling the house every night, and checking each lock twice), are shared shamelessly. His easy going and comical writing works well to soften the disturbing details of his condition, yet one can still feel the struggle Finch and his wife face in managing their marriage and family through this ongoing and lifelong ordeal.

Each chapter of the book is a delightful reminder Finch has prepared for himself – ranging from the general "Be her friend, first and always", "Just Listen" or "Go with the Flow" to the very specific "Give Kristen time to shower without crowding her" or "Laundry: Better to fold and put away than to take only what you need from the dryer". Finch meticulously describes all the acts that would displease Kristen and describes at length his mitigation plans. To be honest, though, reading some of the chapters did make me wonder if I was suffering from a mild case of Asperger syndrome – or, to be stereotypical about it, aren't all men like this?

There are, however, serious parts to the book, where Finch narrates the damning effects his mental blockages have on natural human emotions. Particularly painful to read are his confessions of selfish preoccupation with himself and his emotional needs, overlooking those of his wife and children. The full extent of anguish and frustration that Asperger syndrome can cause within a family is well documented, with illuminating experiential explanation from Finch. I found these chapters deeply moving because here is a man who has found a platform on which he can stand tall and distinguish between himself and normalcy.

The last pages of the book deserve a special mention. There is an excerpt of an interview that the publishing house had conducted with David and Kristen, and to me, the entire excerpt is a testimony to a marriage that has been saved. The camaraderie and banter between David and Kristen is heart-warming to read. It gives the reader a glimpse of the outcome of the Journal Of Best Practices when implemented, which is a marriage founded upon mutual respect and understanding.

Finch easily wins his way into the heart of the reader, for who wouldn't admire a person who does so much just to be the right kind of husband to a deserving wife? Asperger syndrome or not, Finch proves that with a determined effort anyone can be the best version of themselves. And what better reason to make that effort than love?

Motivating success

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 01:23 AM PDT

How To Create Chemistry With Anyone

Author: Leil Lowndes

Publisher: De Capo Life Long; 254 pages

SINGLE ladies and men, this is your chance to learn how to attract the person of your dreams ... well, hopefully. Through this book, Leil Lowndes hopes to "spark that elusive feeling of chemistry with almost anyone – and sustain it when the relationship moves to the next level, from marriage to parenthood and beyond".

Although chemistry is required in almost all relationships, most people don't understand how it works nor what makes it last forever. That's where Lowndes steps in and provides 75 easy communication strategies and techniques that show you what to do – and what not to do – when it comes to finding and keeping love.

How To Get Things Done When You're Not The Boss

Author: Nan S. Russell

Publisher: Advantage Quest Publications, 231 pages

ACCORDING to Nan S. Russell, it's not the position you're in that gets things done at the workplace or anywhere else, but the action that you take. So, if you're complaining about things at work and feel that you cannot do anything about it simply because you don't have the job title – stop whining. The author hopes to activate your inner leader and help you discover uncommon behaviours that will help you practice "title-less" leadership.

Russell has shared her wisdom with a wide variety of people, from coal miners and navy engineers to college students and consulted at many Fortune 100 corporations.

How They Made It

Author: Lucy Smith & Jessica Spencer

Publisher: Advantage Quest Publications, 221 pages

HAVE you always had a dream job but have been too scared to go after it? Want to be the next Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg or Ryan Seacrest but don't know where to start? How They Made It takes a look at 22 successful people from a diverse range of industries to discover the secrets behind "how they made it". The book showcases exclusive interviews with people like The Smiths' guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr, Shameless screewriter Paul Abbott, violinist Joshua Bell and many more.

How They Made It also reveals the highs and lows of each individual's career path and their tips on how you could succeed in life as well.

Your Next Big Thing

Author: Ben Michaelis

Publisher: Advantage Quest Publications, 237 pages

ARE you one of those people who needs to be motivated at all times? Even for simple things like doing the laundry or picking up your children from school? Well, then maybe this book will be of use to you.

Your Next Best Thing aims to help you set goals and, more importantly, achieve them while you're still alive. It also provides tips on how to get things moving in your stagnant life and get happy while meeting the targets you set along the way.

The author has also included 10 strategies that may help you move with purpose and enjoy setting goals as well as achieving them.

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