Isnin, 8 April 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

TV show 'Defiance' to weave show with online game

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 08:51 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Science-fiction drama Defiance wants to go where no television series has gone before, weaving a show with an online video game to achieve the elusive goal of parlaying success on one entertainment platform to another.

The new series, which premieres on U.S. cable channel Syfy on 15 April, tells the story of frontier town Defiance, formerly St. Louis, in the near future following a 30-year war between humans and seven alien races.

Syfy last week released a multi-player, plot-based video game, developed with Trion Worlds, that lets users build their own personas and explore the landscape of a reshaped Earth in the San Francisco area. The game is made for Sony's PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox360 and PC.

Spinning a film or TV series into a video game, or vice versa, is nothing new. But producers say Defiance is the first to weave both game and show together at the same time. The video game alone took some five years to create.

Known in the entertainment industry as the "second screen," the concept lets viewers engage with a show on a second platform on which networks pin hopes for additional advertising sales and cementing a dedicated fan base.

"What's unusual about what we're doing ... is we're building the second-screen concept into the actual DNA of the show-game combo," Defiance executive producer Kevin Murphy told Reuters.

"We're working to make a terrific serialized drama that stands on its own, but we understand that what has people watching us is the fact that this cross-platform promotional is something very, very desirable."

Defiance will be a guinea pig for the viability of merging media like video games with TV shows.

"Nobody has done this before, that's the scary part," he said. "The wonderful part is that there's nobody to say, 'No, no, no, that's not the way it's done.

"It's something (Syfy President) Dave Howe always refers to as the holy grail of entertainment," he added.

Syfy spent about US$100 million to develop the game and show, and the network expects about 20 percent of viewers and players to cross over between the two platforms.

"We're very cautiously optimistic," Howe said, adding that it will still take the standard four or five weeks to know if Defiance will be renewed for a second season.


The Defiance cast is led by ex-Marine and vagabond Nolan, played by Liz & Dick star Grant Bowler, and his adopted alien daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas).

The two finally become tied down helping Defiance Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) defend the town from invasion.

Murphy, whose past credits include writer and producer on TV drama Desperate Housewives, said there are plans for several crossovers between the series and game, including adapting user-created personas from the game into subsequent seasons of the television show.

Murphy said he wanted to depart from the recent popular television series of dark, dystopian sci-fi, such as AMC's Walking Dead and Syfy's Battlestar Galactica.

"I think this is sort of a tip of the hat more to the old-school science-fiction like Star Trek and Star Wars, which were very hopeful, optimistic worlds," Murphy said.

The show often reflects American challenges of an ethnically diverse and often divided society.

In the pilot, polyglot alliances are tricky as humans and some races of aliens must reluctantly brush aside differences to protect the town from automatons known as the Volge.

"On our show, the aliens are not invading us," Murphy said. "The aliens are part of the melting pot .... They each have their own sort of social mores that they left behind and have been challenged because they've come to a new world."

Disney child star, 'beach' movie star Funicello dies

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 06:52 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES - US actress Annette Funicello, who first gained fame as a "Mickey Mouse Club" member and later starred in 1960s "Beach Party" films, died Monday aged 70, entertainment giant Disney announced.

Funicello died of complications from multiple sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years and whose sufferers she championed through charity work in later life.

She was one of the original "Mousketeers" on America's "Mickey Mouse Club" variety television show in the 1950s, before growing into a star of the teen "Beach Party" movies in the 1960s.

Cast alongside teen idol Frankie Avalon, the raven-haired actress starred in "Beach Party" (1963), "Muscle Beach Party" (1964), "Bikini Beach" (1964), "Beach Blanket Bingo" (1965), and "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" (1965).

"Everyone who knew Annette loved and respected her. She was one of the loveliest people I've ever known, and was always so kind to everyone," said Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney.

"She was also the consummate professional, and had such great loyalty to my father," she added.

Funicello was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987, and went public with the illness in 1992, establishing The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases.

Despite her health challenges she founded a business selling collectible teddy bears and launched her own perfume line, before withdrawing from public appearances in the late 1990s.

Walt Disney Company chairman Bob Iger said: "Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend.

"She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney's brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent." - AFP


The Star Online: World Updates

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: World Updates

Venezuela's Maduro vows to battle corruption

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 08:08 PM PDT

CARACAS (Reuters) - Acting President Nicolas Maduro vowed on Monday to stamp out corruption following days of accusations by his election rival Henrique Capriles that ruling party officials were plundering Venezuela's oil wealth.

Venezuela's acting President and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro holds a child dressed as soldier during a campaign rally in Cumana, in the eastern state of Sucre, in this picture provided by Miraflores Palace on April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout

Venezuela's acting President and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro holds a child dressed as soldier during a campaign rally in Cumana, in the eastern state of Sucre, in this picture provided by Miraflores Palace on April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout

Corruption has been a perennial problem in the country and was a primary campaign issue for the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez when he was first elected in 1998. His death from cancer last month triggered the April 14 election.

Polls show Maduro comfortably winning the election thanks to the goodwill generated by Chavez's social spending measures, although opposition critics had for years accused Chavez of allowing graft among allies to go unchecked.

"I'm going to pursue corruption where ever it is. I'll give my own life to combat corruption if it's necessary," Maduro, who Chavez endorsed as his successor, said at a campaign rally in the eastern city of Maturin.

"We've got great challenges to overcome bureaucracy, corruption and indolence of some officials who turn a blind eye to the problems of the people."

Opinion polls, which are controversial and divergent in Venezuela, give Maduro a double-digit lead over Capriles. The latest private survey by local pollster Datanalisis, cited by the Eurasia Group think tank, gave him 50.2 percent, compared with 32.4 percent for his opponent.

That was a wider gap than in a Datanalisis poll last month that gave Maduro 49.2 percent and Capriles 34.8 percent.

Capriles has in recent days promised to end special favours for those who are "plugged-in" - a reference to friends of party leaders who gain quick access to social benefits such as newly built homes while others remain stuck on waiting lists.

Chavez's first election in 1998 drew heavily on popular outrage over widespread corruption in the 1990s, when poverty rose dramatically as oil prices remained low.

But the issue became less important during his 14-year rule as rising oil prices spurred economic growth and Chavez used windfall revenue to build free health clinics and subsidized grocery stores and provide pensions to the elderly.

Corruption accusations during Chavez's presidency have focused almost entirely on opposition leaders or elected officials who defected from the Socialist Party ranks. Critics say he avoided pursuing charges against allies.


Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor who lost a presidential election to Chavez last year, says Venezuela needs a fresh start after 14 years of Chavez's hardline socialism.

He says the frequent nationalizations under Chavez's government allowed corrupt officials to control the sale of products ranging from cement to coffee and require desperate buyers to pay bribes to access them.

Capriles wants to install a Brazilian-style administration of free market economics with strong social policies, although former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has publicly endorsed Maduro as his friend Chavez's heir.

Underlining the deep polarization that is one of the late leader's many legacies, police fired in the air as "Chavista" youths fought with opposition student protesters who had set up camp in a Caracas square to demand a fair election.

The government said seven of the students were injured in the clash, which took place in the capital's wealthy La Castellana district, in a plaza overlooked by three European embassies and a five-star hotel.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol promised to investigate.

"We reject and condemn these developments," he told state television. "Wherever it comes from. We are going to investigate ... We call for peace and sanity."

Tensions have risen in recent days, fuelled by duelling allegations of dirty tricks, and claims by hardliners on both sides that the others are planning violence.

Maduro has accused a Capriles campaign official of conspiring with mercenaries from El Salvador, who the acting president said had entered Venezuela with the aim of killing him and sabotaging the power grid to sow chaos.

The opposition, meanwhile, warned of a government plot to plant illegal arms and explosives on senior opposition officials in order to arrest them before Sunday's vote.

Maduro has also accused the U.S. government of plotting to kill Capriles and then blame it on his administration to trigger civil unrest. Washington denied it.

Capriles has ridiculed Maduro's claims and likened them to Chavez's many denunciations of assassination plots, which critics saw as attempts to distract voters from daily problems such as violent crime, high prices and creaking public services.

On Monday, a right-wing Salvadoran congressman dismissed accusations by Maduro that he was involved in a plot to kill him, saying that Venezuela's acting leader wanted to direct attention away "from what is really happening in that country."

(Additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago, Eyanir Chinea and Mario Naranjo; Writing by Brian Ellsworth and Daniel Wallis; Editing by Bill Trott and Doina Chiacu)

Related Stories:
Salvadoran official denies role in alleged Maduro murder plot

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

North Koreans don't show for work at Kaesong factory park

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 07:05 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean labourers did not show up for work on Tuesday at a factory complex operated with South Korea, companies with operations there said, effectively shutting down the zone for the first time since it began shipments in 2004.

North Korean workers make shoes at a factory of a South Korean shoes company in the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea, in this October 16, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool/Files

North Korean workers make shoes at a factory of a South Korean shoes company in the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea, in this October 16, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool/Files

Pyongyang's decision to halt work at the Kaesong industrial park coincided with speculation it would carry out a missile launch, or even another nuclear test, in what has become one of the worst periods of tension on the peninsula since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

About 475 South Korean workers and factory managers remain in Kaesong, a few kilometres inside the border with North Korea. The South Korean government said 77 would return on Tuesday.

Many South Koreans have been reluctant to leave, worried about the impact on their companies and jobs.

"North Korean workers didn't come to work today, and production has halted in our Kaesong facilities," said a spokeswoman for Shinwon, a women's clothing maker.

A spokesman for textile company Taekwang Industrial and at least two other firms also said North Koreans workers did not show up on Tuesday and that production had stopped.

More than 100 representatives from businesses operating at Kaesong were holding an emergency meeting at the complex that started at about 0100 GMT, Reuters witnesses said.

An executive at another South Korean apparel firm running a factory in Kaesong said late on Monday his employees had told him they would stay.

"I don't know what to do, honestly. I can't simply tell my workers to leave or stay," said the executive, who requested anonymity.

Tension has been rising since the United Nations imposed new sanctions on the North for carrying out its third nuclear test in February. Pyongyang has been further angered by weeks of military exercises by South Korean and U.S. forces and threatened both countries with nuclear attack.


Few experts had expected Pyongyang to jeopardise Kaesong, which accounts for $2 billion in annual trade and employs 50,000 North Koreans making household goods for 123 South Korean firms.

North Korea said on Monday it would suspend operations at the park, its sole remaining major project with the South. No decision had been made on closing Kaesong permanently, it said.

"They're using this as shock therapy because, regardless of what they say, if they close Kaesong the damage they will sustain will not be small," said Moon Seong-mook, a retired South Korean brigadier general who took part in previous military talks with the North.

"This is just another negotiating card they can use with South Korea."

The North's official KCNA news agency said Seoul was trying to "turn the zone into a hotbed of war" against the North. It did not elaborate.

North Korea has also bridled at suggestions from Seoul that it would keep the park open because it needed the cash. The zone generates more than $80 million a year in cash in wages - paid to the state rather than to the workers.

South Korean firms pay between $8 million and $9 million in wages a month for about 53,000 North Korean workers in Kaesong. Any delay in payment of those wages could become another flashpoint because the North could demand payment of interest on the delayed wages, Yonhap reported.

The turmoil has hit South Korean financial markets, which have usually shrugged off the North's rhetoric.

Seoul stocks have fallen nearly 3 percent since Wednesday, when the North first blocked access to the zone amid steep foreign selling. Shares in some firms known to have operations in Kaesong fell sharply on Tuesday.

The won currency has fallen by more than 2 percent against the dollar since access to the park was first barred.


The zone is practically the last vestige of the "Sunshine Policy" of rapprochement between the two Koreas and a powerful symbol that the divided country could one day reunify.

South Korean companies are estimated to have invested around $500 million in the park since 2004.

But corporate giants such as Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor, the sort of companies that could sustain losses from the park's closure, do not have operations in Kaesong.

South Koreans had been leaving the park gradually in the past week as raw materials and food run out.

North Korean authorities told embassies in Pyongyang they could not guarantee their safety from Wednesday, after saying conflict was inevitable amid the joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises due to last until the end of the month. No diplomats appear to have left the North Korean capital.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Seoul this week and the North holds celebrations, and possibly military demonstrations, next Monday to mark the birth date of its founder, Kim Il-Sung - grandfather of the current leader, 30-year-old Kim Jong-un.

Pyongyang has shown no sign of preparing its 1.2 million-strong army for war, indicating the threats are partly intended for domestic purposes to bolster Kim, the third in his family dynasty to rule North Korea.

But it has moved what appears to be a mid-range Musudan missile to its east coast, according to media reports last week.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter urged China - the North's sole financial and diplomatic backer - to use its influence with the North, something he said Moscow wanted Beijing to do as well.

"I think Russia, like others beholding this situation in North Korea, would like to see China exercise more of the influence that it evidently has with North Korea," Carter told a forum in Washington.

China's leaders rebuked North Korea at the weekend but most experts believe Beijing will not push too hard to punish Pyongyang because of concerns its troublesome neighbour could collapse.

Some experts also say China's influence over North Korea has waned over the years.

(Writing by Dean Yates; Editing by Paul Tait)

Related Stories:
South Korea president: no company will invest in North if it shuts Kaesong

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Colombia's president says enemies poisoning peace process

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 06:52 PM PDT

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's attempt to bring an end to five decades of war with Marxist FARC rebels faces "enemies," President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday, calling for unity to support the process and assure its success in the next several months.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos waves during the delivery of 568 new homes to families living in high-risk areas in Buenaventura, Valle, February 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos waves during the delivery of 568 new homes to families living in high-risk areas in Buenaventura, Valle, February 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

In a televised address on the eve of an organized march against violence, Santos expressed optimism that the nation is close to achieving a historic agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, and an end to bloodshed, but he slammed those who are poisoning the effort and spreading lies.

"While some remain trapped in the past, clinging to a vision of Colombia condemned to violence, of a Colombia frozen with fear and polarization, we, the immense majority of Colombians believe in our future," said Santos of the peace negotiations taking place in Havana, Cuba.

Without naming his former boss, Santos alluded to ex-President Alvaro Uribe, who has been against the negotiations since their announcement in September. Uribe has used his Twitter account to drum up support for his efforts against Santos, once his defence minister.

"To the enemies of peace I say: in place of poisoning the process, in place of spreading lies - like saying there would be peace with impunity when we haven't even discussed the issue - be prudent."

Thousands are expected to march in Bogota on Tuesday to demand an end to violence and in solidarity with victims of the conflict. The gathering is being held 65 years after the assassination of presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, whose murder unleashed a wave of violence that continues today.

Latin America's longest-running insurgency has left tens of thousands dead, seeded vast rural and mountainous areas with landmines and left scores of villages and towns economically isolated.

While a 10-year military offensive against the FARC has pushed the rebels deep into inhospitable territory and helped rejuvenate the economy, the FARC is still a formidable presence and able to sow fear and cause damage to the nation's economic infrastructure.

The FARC is considered a terrorist group by the United States and Europe.

The president also expressed hope there would "sooner rather than later" be a similar peace process with the second-biggest rebel group, the National Liberation Army.

Santos, who has faced a barrage of criticism in recent months for failing to provide sufficient details on what is being discussed in Havana, said he understood the nation's scepticism and asked for patience while the two sides agreed on terms. Any accord would need to go to a referendum, he said.

"It's normal that Colombians would be sceptical after so many deceptions. But the truth is the process is going well."

"It's a difficult and complex process," he said, adding that peace could come in months if the current pace of talks is maintained.

Numerous peace efforts in Colombia since the 1980s have brought mixed success, with some smaller armed groups demobilizing. But the FARC, Latin America's biggest rebel group, has pressed on, funded in large part by drug trafficking.

At the last peace talks in 1999-2002, former President Andres Pastrana ceded the FARC a safe haven the size of Switzerland to promote talks.

But the rebels took advantage of the breathing space to train fighters, build more than 25 airstrips to fly drug shipments and set up prison camps to hold its hostages.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Business

WCT falls after RM1bil Oman contract cancelled

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 06:41 PM PDT

Published: Tuesday April 9, 2013 MYT 9:41:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of WCT Bhd fell to as low of RM2.38 in early trade on Tuesday after its RM1bil Oman highway job was cancelled.

At 9.31am, WCT fell five sen to RM2.40. There were 1.15 million shares done at prices ranging from RM2.38 to RM2.41.

The FBM KLCI rose 0.23 of a point to 1,688.22. Turnover was 150.28 million shares valued at RM113.43mil. There were 170 gainers, 128 losers and 168 unchanged.

CIMB Equities Research described the cancellation of WCT's Oman highway job as a negative surprise.

"We are disappointed as the RM1bil project was the largest secured in 2012. Major works have not started, suggesting minimal claims. The impact on EPS and RNAV is minimal but the order book declines 22%," it said.

CIMB Research trimmed its FY13-15 EPS to reflect the cancellation. Its target price dropped slightly from RM2.58 to RM2.55, still based on a 40% RNAV discount.


IMF hails BoJ policy, says Japan’s monetary move will support world growth

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 06:37 PM PDT

BOAO, China: The head of the International Monetary Fund hailed Japan's unprecedented monetary policy boost this week as a welcome support for a world economy that she said has improved from a year ago.

Christine Lagarde said on Sunday the radical US$1.4 trillion stimulus from the Bank of Japan (BoJ) would help strengthen the advanced economies, saying growth in countries such as the United States was gaining speed.

But without referring specifically to Japan, Lagarde warned policymakers against thinking that superloose monetary policy alone could do the heavy lifting in reviving economies, when growth may instead be stifled by unhealthy private and public finances.

"Monetary policies, including unconventional measures, have helped prop up the advanced economies, and in turn, global growth," Christine Lagarde told a forum in south China.

"The reforms just announced by the Bank of Japan are another welcome step in this direction," she said.

"There is, however, a limit to how effectively monetary policy can continue to shoulder the lion's share of this effort."

Central banks still need to heed broken balance sheets that impede lending and plan for and guard against uncertainties arising from any policy change, the IMF chief said.

Japan stunned investors on Thursday by unleashing the world's most intense burst of monetary stimulus, which will pump US$1.4 trillion into its economy in under two years. It hopes the shock therapy will end two decades of stagnation.

But the move is a huge gamble. It heavily exposes the BoJ to Japan's mountain of public debt and carries the potential for big losses if inflation spikes and investors lose faith in its viability.

Japan's government debt, at twice the size of its US$5 trillion economy, is proportionally the highest among developed nations.

Lagarde said fiscal problems in developed nations such as Japan and the United States marred the global economic recovery and contrasted with emerging economies, where a broadening rebound is brightening the outlook.

Lagarde said the IMF expected Asian economies to grow by nearly 6% this year, "an enviable performance by any measure", as resilient domestic demand and accommodative policies power the region.

She said the impressive growth rate is customary for Asia, which has accounted for twothirds of global growth in the last five years since the financial crisis struck.

Asia's buoyancy has rubbed off on the rest of the world.

"A substantial portion of the global economy looks better today than it did last year," Lagarde said. "And we are beginning to see momentum pick up in the United States."

In the euro zone, however, she said debt problems are weighing on growth and dragging out a recession.

Lagarde said the main task for the currency zone right now is to push for a banking union, a plan that is meant to put an end to the euro zone's debt troubles by severing the link between sovereign borrowers and banks.

Last month, however, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said European aid for troubled banks is a last resort, which raised doubts about the plan for a banking union.

Dijsselbloem made the comments after a rescue programme was agreed for Cyprus that imposed steep losses on depositors, leading to suggestions that the Cypriot deal could serve as a precedent for future bank bailouts in the bloc. - Reuters


HTC profit hit by delayed phone launch

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 06:30 PM PDT

TAIPEI: HTC Corp reported a record-low quarterly profit that missed analysts' estimates after it delayed the full launch of its 2013 flagship smartphone model, which will now debut against Samsung Electronics' newest Galaxy.

A shortage of cameras meant HTC managed to introduce its latest HTC One phone in just three markets by the end of the first quarter instead of the planned 80.

It does not expect to kick off sales across Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region before the end of April.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has said its Galaxy S4 will be available in 155 countries by the end of April.

HTC said its unaudited net profit was T$85mil (US$2.85mil) in its January-March first quarter, compared with T$1bil in the prior quarter and T$10.9bil in the same period last year. It was the lowest since HTC began reporting quarterly profits in 2004.

The Taiwanese smartphone maker was expected to post a net profit of T$467.5mil, according to the average forecast of 18 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

First-quarter revenue was T$42.8bil, lower than the T$50bil-T$60bil range that HTC had forecast in February. Revenue in the fourth quarter was T$60bil.

"As HTC failed to establish its brand image by selling its most important flagship phone on time, it'll be very difficult to push on the mid and low-end phones when HTC launches them in Q3-Q4," said Dennis Chan, an analyst with Yuanta Securities in Taipei. "Sales in the second quarter will bounce, but they will lose momentum again in Q3-Q4."

The company has partnered with Facebook Inc which unveiled new software last week called "Home" that replaces the home screen on some Android smartphones, and introduced a US$100 HTC-made handset that is preinstalled with the new app.

"The Facebook phone is not enough to turn HTC around," said Daiwa analyst Birdy Lu, speaking before HTC's results were released. "Facebook Home could be only good for Facebook addicts, and the distribution channel for HTC First is very limited. HTC's 2013 performance is still highly dependant on HTC One."

HTC was the world's 10th-biggest smartphone maker by shipments in the fourth quarter, according to IT research firm Gartner, jostling in a crowded field behind the top two heavyweights Samsung and Apple Inc.

Shares of HTC have lost more than half of their value in the past 12 months, underperforming a slight rise in Taiwan's main TAIEX index. Yesterday, HTC shares closed down 2.2% before the earnings were released, compared with a 2.4% fall in the main index. Reuters



The Star Online: Sports

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Sports

Tiger Woods feeling great as Masters week opens

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 04:22 PM PDT

AUGUSTA (Georgia): World No. 1 Tiger Woods arrived at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday to begin a challenging week that he hopes will culminate in a fifth Masters title and a 15th Major championship victory.

Fifty years to the day since Jack Nicklaus won his first Masters title, the man trying to break Nicklaus' record of 18 Major crowns spent about 20 minutes on the practice range and played a practice round with pal Steve Stricker.

"I feel great," Woods said. "Everything is good."

Woods is the only three-time winner on Tour this season after triumphs at Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill and tops the money list with US$3.8mil ahead of his 19th Masters start.

Woods, 37, has not won a Major since the 2008 US Open and last won the Masters in 2005. His other Masters titles came in 1997, 2001 and 2002.

On the day before the first public practice session ahead of Thursday's start of the 77th Masters, ticket brokers were already lined along the highway leading to the course hoping the cash in on the event's popularity.

Inside the fences and just beyond the clubhouse at the end of Magnolia Lane, players enjoyed one last chance at solitude, or for some a first chance at learning some secrets from the legends of the Masters.

Fourteen-year-old Guan Tianlang of China, who will become the youngest player in Masters history, chatted with two-time Masters champion Tom Watson.

Adam Scott, hoping to become the first Australian to win the Masters, took a few moments to appreciate the flowers and scenic beauty on offer amid the towering pine trees.

"It's so quiet you can enjoy the course, get your bearings and have no distractions," Scott said. — AFP

Argentina and Serbia reach Davis Cup semis in style

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 04:40 PM PDT

PARIS: Argentina are into the Davis Cup World Group semi-final after their world number 71 Carlos Berlocq (pic) beat 13th-ranked Frenchman Gilles Simon to hand the South Americans a 3-2 win on Sunday.

A distraught Simon, who saved five match points before finally succumbing, said it was the lowest point of his tennis career.

"By a long way that was the most difficult defeat to accept of my entire career," he said.

"What disappointment, it was a very important match for everyone. I had to win it, but didn't.

"I did the best I could.

"All I wanted to do was win — for me, for the others, for Jo (Tsonga) who didn't deserve to lose after winning two matches."

Argentina will face defending champions the Czech Republic after they eliminated Kazakhstan earlier in the day. Serbia and semi-final newcomers Canada also won their quarter-finals on Sunday.

Berlocq said he didn't want to let down his family, friends and team-mates who were pulling for an Argentina victory at the Parque Roca in Buenos Aires.

"When you are in your own country, with everyone around, your family, your friends, who have confidence in you, their confidence is contagious.

"All the team believed victory was possible. It was a battle, fortunately we won it."

France had levelled the quarter-final tie earlier after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga dismantled Juan Monaco 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in one hour, 42 minutes to force a deciding rubber.

Against the odds, that went to Berlocq, who fought back to prevail 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 against Simon who was called in late to replace Richard Gasquet.

David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos had also come from behind to win Saturday's doubles, which gave the hosts the upper hand going into the final day.

World No. 1 and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic's victory over Sam Querrey of the United States on Sunday advanced Serbia into the semi-finals.

Djokovic, who had to battle through an ankle injury he suffered in the opening set, earned a 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-0 win to give the Serbians an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five tie.

It is the second win for Serbia in four years over the 32-time winners US. In their only other previous Davis Cup encounter Serbia defeated the Americans in Belgrade in 2010.

"I am sorry for team USA but it was a thrilling weekend for all of us," Djokovic said.

Djokovic had to play through the pain of a bad right ankle, which he sprained in the third game of the opening set.

"I took some anti-inflammatories, and they kicked in at the end of the second set," he said.

The 25-year-old Djokovic clinched the victory over world number 20 Querrey with a backhand winner, ending the two hours, 35 minutes match.

Serbia will now meet Canada after Milos Raonic sent the Canucks to their first-ever semi-final by beating Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

The 22-year-old Raonic overpowered Seppi with his booming serve before Seppi stepped up and won the third set in Vancouver, British Columbia.

But Raonic rebounded to win the fourth, finishing the match with 35 aces to complete the historic win for Canada, who will travel to Serbia for the semi-finals in September. — AFP

Jazeman secures six points on his Formula Renault debut

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 04:41 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Jazeman Jaafar began his Formula Renault 3.5 Series (FR3.5) campaign on a strong note, finishing third in the rookie class and an impressive seventh overall in the first race of the season at Monza, Italy, on Sunday.

Jazeman, however, suffered a big blow in the second race. He was punted from behind and was forced to retire after suffering a punctured rear tyre.

Jazeman's weekend began promisingly.

He made good use of the two test sessions to acclimatise himself to the circuit. A solid effort from Jazeman put him 11th on the grid for the first race. He was the fourth quickest rookie in the field on a wet and slippery track.

The Petronas talent programme driver made a good start in the race, slotting into 10th place at the end of the first lap. He benefited from drivers ahead making mistakes to eventually finish seventh.

The qualifying session for the second race was again held in wet conditions and Jazeman finished 18th fastest. He made a brilliant start, making up six places in the first lap to lie in 12th spot. Unfortunately, he was hit from behind and had to abandon the race.

Jazeman, however, was delighted to have collected six points on his debut.

"The first race was good. I enjoyed being able to battle with the cars around me and running at a good pace. I could not have asked for more as I managed to score some points on my first outing," said the 20-year-old.

Jazeman added that he was disappointed not to make an impact in the second race.

"I was on the receiving end of another driver's mistake and ended up losing out big time. These things happen in racing. I made a really good start. I thought I could get in the points again, but sadly it wasn't the case.

"I have to quickly put it behind me and move on. On a positive note, I'm 10th in the championship and fourth in the rookie standings," added Jazeman.

Jazeman will resume his racing programme on April 27-28 with the second event of the nine-round series taking place at Motorland Aragon in Spain.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Carrying it forward

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 03:19 AM PDT

HER time spent volunteering with Voice Of the Children, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for children's rights in Malaysia, clearly left a impact on Quek Sue Yian. Coupled with her experience at the Asian Festival of Children's Content in Singapore in May 2012, it got her to thinking about how to get quality books to poor children.

Hence, publishing company Magicbird was born – and alongside it, the One For One initiative, where for each book purchased, another is given to a under-served child or community.

"We work very closely with the CIMB Foundation. The people there have believed in our vision from the very beginning. They have an English Literacy Programme and a mobile library. They have taken a large percentage of our books and channelled them to these causes as well as the charities they work with," says Magicbird founder Quek.

She says that they also rely on books that they sell directly, whether online through, at trade fairs, or purchased from Borders bookstores where the books are exclusively available.

Magicbird has a list of beneficiaries these books are donated to at Since May last year, a total of 1,648 books have been sold, and 1,359 books donated nationwide.

Magicbird also welcomes other English children's books publishers who are interested in coming onboard the One For One initiative, as well as writers, illustrators and other individuals who would like to assist.

"We are really looking for anything that could help scale up and increase our impact on getting free quality books to under-served children," says Quek.

Reflecting on reality

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 03:18 AM PDT

A new publisher of children's books takes a closer look at real life.

ONCE upon a time, there lived a homeless little girl named Maya who wandered the streets for all 18 pages of the children's book Who Am I? She doesn't have a best friend, she doesn't have a pet dog, she doesn't have loving parents to look after her. There's no happy ending for Maya.

Sounds a little unconventional for a children's book? Sure.

But the intention is not to insist on ending on a sad note; the ending is such because the story is meant to offer a more realistic look at life and stimulate discussion about the issue at hand.

"Maya's problems are not resolved by the end of the book, and this mirrors reality. To many children living on the street, there seems to be no solution," explains Quek Sue Yian, 38, founder of children's book publishing company Magicbird.

"It is not about the ending being happy or sad; the aim is to have thought-provoking endings. We don't want to romanticise poverty or homelessness. Life is not always like it is in Slumdog Millionaire, and we don't want to sugarcoat it," she adds, making reference to the Danny Boyle-directed movie about an orphan from the Mumbai slums who wins it big on television game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Founded in May last year, Magicbird now has three books to its name, the latest addition being Norico Chua's A Cake Reaching To The Sky (see The sky's the limit, below).

Each book revolves around a theme: Who Am I? by Marcy Dans Lee addresses the issue of homelessness; Do Noses Grow Long When Lies Are Told? by C.K. Koh and Quek delves into truthfulness; and Chua's A Cake Reaching To The Sky touches on family time.

"Apart from the thematic thread running through them, each book has a list of questions that comes after the story that can be used as a guide for discussion," explains Quek.

"We have a group of friends comprising teachers, activists, book publishers and mothers that we bounce ideas off. We affectionately call them our Wise Owls. They provide the input on themes and questions for each book," says Quek, who works a full-time job at a management company while also running Magicbird.

She points out that "a child will not dance through childhood" without questioning things they see around them. And sometimes what they see can be the hard, cold facts of life that might not be easy to discuss.

"We try not to be about just a pretty story, we try to lead into a discussion on topics that might be difficult to talk about. It's sometimes easier to refer to a third person when doing so. These books can help us talk about such issues. The questions help with this, and hopefully it will help the child reader make sense of reality," she says.

A child can certainly read the book on his or her own, but Quek maintains that some guidance would be best.

And just like real life, it's certainly not all gloom and doom with these books; projects in the pipeline include books about a dog that eats nightmares, a fantastic dream box, and a dancing bear – whimsical concepts used to explore serious issues like child labour and the difference between dreams and reality.

"We are also thinking of looking at Malaysian folklore, in particular some of the wayang kulit tales," says Quek.

While she says there is nothing wrong with a happily ever after tale, don't expect to read about princesses sitting around waiting to be rescued by Prince Charming in books published by Magicbird.

Quek's vision is "to flood Malaysia with really nice books, books that give children the freedom to think and ponder".

These books might be sans princes and princesses, and the typical happy endings that come with these characters, but Magicbird shows that it is certainly possible to have fun – and learn while you are at it! – even without them.

The sky’s the limit

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 03:17 AM PDT

HOW does the author of A Cake Reaching To The Sky describe her book?

"It is about brownies made of despair and mint leaves made of hope," Norico Chua writes in an e-mail interview from her hometown of Hyogo, Japan.

It is hardly a typical description, but then again, there is more than one unusual thing about her book.

Firstly, the book is read from the bottom of the page upwards, reflecting, one would deduce, the protagonist's dream of reaching to his grandmother in the sky. (The boy's life is represented by an array of delicious sweet treats that he bakes in an attempt to reach her.)

Secondly, despite the illustrations looking like watercolour paintings, Chua says that they are computer graphics. She was quoted in a press release as referring to the technique as a "trade secret". Not that she offered any further insight in the interview with this writer, but she candidly says that she considers herself "not good at hand-drawing like other picture book authors".

She comments that she is "not proud of the technique used" because she "believes that hand-drawing is the best". She adds, however, that it makes her happy if such illustrations set her book apart from other children's books.

The book comes with a Japanese translation on the outer band on the book and is aimed at children aged three and above.

Chua, who is a 2007 graduate of The One Academy in Malaysia, is married to a Malaysian and has a year-old son. It was through spending time with her son that she decided to write a book for children.

"Children sometimes surprise you with the most amazing ideas, ideas that adults have long left behind in their childhood days. For example, when my son sees that it is raining outside, he says, 'Mummy, the rain misses me. He is looking for me'. Or when he looks up to the sky and tells me, 'My hand can't reach the moon. Let's go there'. Normality becomes fantasy in his wondrous world," Chua relates.

In working on this book, the illustrations came before the text; she worked on the images for two months at a stretch, two hours each day, and the entire process of producing the book took almost two years in total.

Chua believes that such tales of reunion and family are timeless, particularly as the story can convey different meanings at different stages of one's life.

"Sooner or later, we have to face the fact that we have to be apart from someone we love in our lives. I thought that it would be nice if after this loss, we build our lives as colourfully as we can," she says.

Her advice? Be kind, stay healthy, smile, be happy and live well until the day we fly up to the sky with wings.

"Then we can relate this story of a colourful life to our loved ones when we see them again, up in the sky," she concludes.


The Star Online: Nation

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Nation

GE13: Johor PKR chief Chua Jui Meng to contest in Segamat

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 09:39 AM PDT

Published: Tuesday April 9, 2013 MYT 12:12:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday April 9, 2013 MYT 12:39:37 AM

JOHOR BARU: Johor PKR chief Datuk Chua Jui Meng has been named as the candidate for Segamat.

PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced this at a ceramah in Tangkak.

He also announced five other candidates.

Johor deputy vice president Hassan Karim will contest the Ledang parliamentary seat, state election committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar will contest the Sri Gading parliamentary seat, the Juleily Semani will run for the Sekijang parliamentary seat, Onn Abu Bakar for Sembrong and PKR Johor deputy chief Dr Ahmad Faidi Saidi for Pasir Gudang.

Related Stories:
GE13: Malay candidates for Prime Minister and Mentri Besar if Opposition wins
GE13: Nurul: Delay in name list causing bad blood
GE13: DAP won't give up Kulai, Bakri
GE13: Bakri and Kulai are DAP seats, says Kit Siang
GE13: Jui Meng accepts there is no seat for him in polls
GE13: Bakri BN: We will expose' Jui Meng if he contests

GE13: Anwar announces two PKR candidates for Malacca

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 09:29 AM PDT

MALACCA: Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced two parliamentary candidates to contest under Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) banner in Malacca.

Malacca PKR chief Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin was named candidate for the sub-urban Bukit Katil parliamentary constituency while former Sabah Headmaster Council chairman Rahim Ali, 67, would vie for the Tangga Batu parliamentary constituency.

The two were introduced to party supporters during a gathering at Taman Putra in Bukit Baru, here Monday night

While Shamsul's candidacy was no surprise to the media, Rahim's debut during the event caught many by surprise as he had formerly contested and lost against Tamrin Abdul Ghafar Baba in Batu Berendam parliament seat in 1990 where the former ontested under Semangat 46 ticket.

Rahim, the father of seven had joined PKR in 1998 in support of Anwar, his senior in university, when he was removed as Deputy Prime Minister then.

The academician was the chairman of Sabah Headmasters Council between 1979 to 1981.

Rahim who was born in Bukit Rambai here is now the PKR's Tangga Batu chief.

GE13: Let the people be the judge of my promises, says Najib

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 08:42 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: As the Barisan Nasional's manifesto, unveiled on Saturday, continues to resonate on the ground Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Monday the people will be the judge of his pledges to bring about a better future for all Malaysians.

The Prime Minister, who is also the Barisan chairman, again assured that the government would fulfill and deliver on its promises to the people.

Stumping for his first election win as prime minister, Najib took his campaign to hundreds of government pensioners at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre earlier Monday.

In an exclusive interview with Bernama TV Monday night, Najib stressed that the coming general election must bring far greater benefits to the people than what they have now.

He said the question must be asked whether the opposition parties can run the country well when they have diverse opinions among themselves and cannot even agree on direction and basic policies.

"Changing for the sake of change is not something wise. Instead, we must bring about changes which give us far greater benefit compared to our present situation," he replied when asked about giving the Opposition a chance to be in power.

In the interview, Najib appealed to the Indian community to place their "nambikei" (trust in Tamil) in the Barisan, adding that although they do not make up the majority in any parliamentary or state seat, they can be a deciding factor in states like Selangor, Perak, Penang, Johor, Negri Sembilan and Kedah.

Reiterating his commitment to uplift the economic status of the community so that it has three percent equity ownership in the country, Najib urged the Indian voters to regard MIC candidates as part of his team and support them if they want him to continue to lead the country.

The Election Commission will meet on Wednesday to set the nomination and polling dates. - Bernama


The Star Online: Metro: Central

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Metro: Central

Former Chelsea captain Dennis Wise in town to promote EPL Malaysia Cup

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 04:40 AM PDT

IT TOOK more than two decades for former English midfielder Dennis Wise to revisit Malaysia.

Recently, the 46-year-old was in town to promote the upcoming fifth Standard Chartered EPL Football Malaysia Cup scheduled at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil on April 21.

Leading up to the six-a-side indoor meet, the former Chelsea captain teamed up with former Liverpool great Dietmar Hamann of Germany to introduce the notable names forming the Liverpool Legends, Manchester United Legends and EPL All Stars.

Wise, who took charge as manager at several clubs including Leeds and Millwall after his playing career, said he was thrilled to be part of the EPL All Stars line-up and rated the duo of Frank Leboeuf and Tore Andre Flo as key players in the team.

"I am happy with the selection of players in my team. I have stayed in shape and others in the team are also up to the challenge. We have a good chance of doing well. We want to put up impressive displays for the fans," he added.

Among the players in the EPL All Stars are Stephane Henchoz, Sasha Ilic, Michael Mols, Michael Thomas, Savo Milosevic and Phil Babb.

Besides acknowledging former Dutch striker Mols' lethal strikes in making opportunities count, Hamann jested that former Liverpool and Swiss defender Henchoz should be featuring for defending champions Liverpool instead of EPL All Stars.

"We (Liverpool) have a good side. We are hopeful of retaining the title going up against our contemporaries and strong opponents in the other teams," he added.

Liverpool will have the services of David James, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Jason McAteer, Steve Harkness, Dominic Matteo, Bjorn Tore Kvarme and Rob Jones.

Manchester United will rely on Andy Cole, Lee Sharpe, Ronnie Johnson, Clayton Blackmore, Carl Muggleton, Paul Parker, David Johnson and Lee Martin for the campaign.

Meanwhile, Zainal Abidin Hassan is expected to lead the Malaysian Legends.

Easter fun for families

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 04:39 AM PDT

CHILDREN had a whale of a time while adults enjoyed good company over a wide variety of scrumptious dishes and colourful desserts during the celebration of Easter Sunday at the Utara Coffee House of Armada Petaling Jaya.

An Easter egg hunt saw children scrambling around the outlet while an Easter Bunny went around giving candies and hugs to every child.

To add to the Easter atmosphere, the service staff wore bunny ears, bob tails and cute bow ties.

The children also enjoyed a game of Musical Chairs, which got them grooving to the music while a live-sized 'Snake and Ladder' game saw them becoming their own 'game piece', moving up or down every time they threw the dice.

The activity that got the whole family working as a team was the Easter Egg Hunt which had the teams searching around the outlet for hidden Easter Eggs.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Ten ways to work out at work

Posted: 07 Apr 2013 10:34 PM PDT

The human body is made to move, not sit for hours a day in an office chair, health experts urge (and they've got the mounting scientific evidence to prove it). For desk jockeys who can't find time to hit the gym, here are a few mini-workouts you can actually do at work.

Any amount of exercise helps, even 60-second to 10-minute bursts, experts urge, and the benefits are cumulative. And while your boss may prefer you glued to your office chair, moving around throughout the day can increase productivity by keeping your body and brain fresh, reports WebMD.

1. Check your screen: First order of business is to avoid bad posture by ensuring that your screen is high enough so you're not looking down, which can put strain on your head and neck, advises SpaFinder. A good rule of thumb: the center of your screen should be at eye height.

2. Take the stairs, two at a time, at least five or seven times a day, WebMD recommends.

3. Make getting to work a workout: Park in the farthest part of the lot, or walk or bike.

4. Combat computer slouch: Strengthen your rhomboid muscles (the ones that squeeze your shoulder blades together) to avoid wrecking your posture from long hours at the computer. SpaFinder recommends this: While seated at your desk, reach your arms out straight from your sides. Rotate your hands so your thumbs are pointing behind you. Then squeeze your shoulder blades together by trying to move your hands further behind you.

5. Move around, go outside: Get up, walk outside, for as much as 15 minutes for every 45 minutes of work, recommends Lifehacker. Chances are you're productive for shorter bursts of time, and frequent, small breaks help you keep energized throughout the day. Suggest "walking meetings" and get up from your desk to see a colleague rather than email.

6. Shadow box: Use a vacant conference room or office and shadow box for a few minutes, suggests WebMD. Or simply walk around the room as fast as you can.

7. Office chair core workout: Sit in your chair with your legs crossed and your feet on the seat, recommends Forbes. Then place your hands on the armrests, tighten your stomach muscles and raise yourself a few centimeters above the seat, using your belly, muscles and hands. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat five times.

8. Office chair leg workout: While seated in your chair, extend one leg out straight in front of you, Forbes advises. Hold for two seconds. Then raise it up as high as you can, and hold it again for two seconds. Repeat with each leg 15 times.

9. Push-up and squats: Every time you take a bathroom or coffee break, commit to doing 10 push-ups and 10 squats, advises Lifehacker.

10. Get a standing desk: While your boss may not want to fork out the cash for a hydraulic-powered standing desk, Livehacker recommends jerry-rigging your own. Search for "standing desk" ideas. -- AFPRelaxnews


The Star Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved