Jumaat, 12 April 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

A great start

Posted: 13 Apr 2013 02:22 AM PDT

Singer-actor duo talk about working together on upcoming television drama.

BOTH Lee Seung-gi and Bae Sue-ji (aka Suzy) – stars of MBC's upcoming fantasy drama Kangchi, The Beginning – boast a massive following.

Girl group member and actress Bae tweets to over 1.6 million followers, while singer-actor Lee is back to the small screen after a successful music debut in Japan, where he dropped his first Japanese single and held a solo concert in Tokyo.

Now, Lee and Bae are ready to tackle their first period piece in what looks like a surefire hit, especially with A Gentleman's Dignity director Shin Woo-chul and Bread, Love And Dreams scriptwriter Kang Eun-kyung on board.

Then again, actress Kim Tae-hee is starring as the ill-fated Jang Hui-bin in SBS' Jang Ok-jeong, which is also scheduled to premiere at the same time as Kangchi.

Despite Kim's formidable star power, Miss A's Bae seemed unruffled at the drama's press conference in Yeouido, Seoul, recently, tossing out a light-hearted jest: "She is very beautiful, but I am younger."

The 18-year-old K-pop idol then took a slightly more serious tack with, "I will work extra hard. Passion! That's what I can bring to the table."

Bae explained that as this is her third TV drama to date, she "prepared a lot for this role."

"When I saw the script, I was immediately drawn to this tale of a demigod," Bae revealed, adding that she was a little sorry she did not get to play the half-spirit, half-human lead herself.

While Bae's heroine Dahm Yeol-wool may not have a demigoddess background, Bae was able to draw similarities between herself and her character.

"Yeo-wool is far from feminine," said Bae, who connected to that aspect of her tomboy heroine. "When other kids were playing house, I grew up smashing objects with my hands and feet. You see, my father was head of a taekwondo school."

Co-star Lee praised Bae, saying, "She isn't busy trying not to get hurt. She is tough and doesn't complain."

Indeed, Bae seems well suited for her turn as a Joseon-period martial arts instructor who crosses paths with a demigod, played by Lee.

Of his role as hero Choi Kang-chi, Lee said, "Up until now I felt like it was me, Lee Seung-gi, acting. I mean, how should I put it in words? I worked hard then, but now that is a given."

Explaining that he sees his latest work as an opportunity to take his craft further, the 26-year-old actor said, "Now it hinges on the actor's ability to interpret a role. I guess you could call this subtext.

"So, at the moment, I am focusing on how I will portray Choi Kang-chi."

Lee looks like he will have his hands full playing a demigod whose action-packed struggles to become human are central to the series.

Then again, this is a star who has managed to successfully balance his work as an MC, actor and singer over the years, and who, according to news reports, even served as the inspiration for the character of Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto's upcoming work.

"I am very honoured," Lee said of having a prominent author model a character after him.

Lee added, "Someone told me Yoshimoto was a fan of my work but I didn't believe it at the time. I also heard that she watched my television dramas when she needed to rest and heal." – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Beijing reports first case of new bird flu strain

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 06:30 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese capital Beijing reported on Saturday its first case of a new strain of bird flu, state news agency Xinhua said, the first time it has been found in a human outside of eastern China.

The seven-year-old child is in a stable condition in a Beijing hospital, the report said.

A city management officer holds a chicken as a boy rides past in a residential neighbourhood of Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, April 11, 2013. REUTERS/William Hong

A city management officer holds a chicken as a boy rides past in a residential neighbourhood of Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, April 11, 2013. REUTERS/William Hong

Two people who have had close contact with the child have shown no signs of being infected so far, Xinhua added.

A total of 11 people have died of the H7N9 bird flu strain since it was confirmed in humans for the first time last month, with 44 infections in all having been reported to date.

Shanghai and the eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui had been the only confirmed locations of infection until the Beijing case.

The source of infection remains unknown, though samples have tested positive in some birds in poultry markets that remain the focus of investigations by China and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The new virus has caused severe illness in most of the people affected, leading to fears that if it becomes easily transmissible, it could cause a deadly influenza pandemic, though there has been no indication of that happening.

In a bid to calm public jitters over the virus, Chinese authorities have detained a dozen people for spreading rumours about the spread of bird flu.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.S. names 18 people as alleged human rights abusers in Russia

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 04:12 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday designated 18 people under a U.S. law requiring a list of alleged human rights abusers in Russia, in a move that could cause more friction in U.S. ties with Moscow.

Attorneys of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky sit in front of an empty defendants' cage during a court session in Moscow in this March 22, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky/Files

Attorneys of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky sit in front of an empty defendants' cage during a court session in Moscow in this March 22, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky/Files

The list includes 16 people directly related to the case of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in his jail cell in 2009, as well as two others, a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity. Those named on the list will be subject to visa bans and asset freezes in the United States under a law passed by Congress last year.

One U.S. lawmaker said the list was "timid" with "significant omissions," while a senior Russian lawmaker said he thought President Barack Obama had done the minimum possible under the law so as not to worsen ties with Moscow.

U.S.-Russia relations are strained by what critics say is a crackdown on dissent in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, and disputes over security issues such as the war in Syria, which is a Russian ally.

"The appearance of any lists will doubtless have a very negative effect on bilateral Russian-American relations," Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in Siberia earlier on Friday. Peskov could not be reached for comment once the names on the list were known.

But Alexei Pushkov, the head of the State Duma's international affairs committee, said the United States drew up a "minimal" list.

"The U.S. presidential administration decided not to take the path of aggravating a political crisis with Moscow," Pushkov was quoted as saying by Interfax after the list was released.

The list was published three days before Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, is due in Moscow for talks that Russia said would include U.S. missile defence plans.

The names released by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control included several officials who worked in the Russian Interior Ministry, and others who worked in courts, prosecutors' or tax offices.

Also listed was Kazbek Dukuzov, one of two natives of the Chechnya region who were tried for the 2004 killing in Moscow of American journalist Paul Klebnikov. Both were acquitted in 2006.

Not listed was a close Putin ally whom some human rights advocates wanted to see named - Alexander Bastrykin, who heads Russia's equivalent of the FBI. He has said there is no evidence Magnitsky death was connected with actions by officials.

Putin has said that Magnitsky's death at age 37 was caused by heart failure. But the Kremlin's own human rights council has aired suspicions that Magnitsky was beaten to death. His death spooked investors and tarnished Russia's image abroad.

Congress passed the Magnitsky Act in December as part of a broader bill to expand U.S. trade with Russia. The Obama administration was never keen on the Magnitsky provisions, but the president signed the bill into law in December.

The law requires an initial list by Saturday of people linked to the Magnitsky case or other alleged "gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights" in Russia.

Russia considers the Magnitsky Act outside interference in its affairs, and warns it may respond by issuing a list of alleged U.S. human rights abusers. Moscow has already retaliated by outlawing adoptions of Russian children by American couples.


Democratic Representative James McGovern, one of the sponsors of the Magnitsky Act, called the list "timid" with "significant omissions." Late last month, McGovern sent the White House over 230 names of people he said could potentially be included.

Not on the list but named in the Magnitsky Act itself for "wrongdoing" is Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of Russia's Chechnya region.

Kadyrov has not been linked to the Magnitsky case, but the U.S. State Department has noted allegations of his involvement in several killings, including that of human rights worker Natalia Estemirova. Kadyrov has denied involvement.

McGovern said in a statement he was told by the administration that the investigation was continuing and more names would be added as new evidence came to light.

The senior State Department official denied that political or diplomatic concerns were a factor in drawing up the list.

"I've learned not to try to take action based on what you think the Russian reaction might be. It's better to do what's in the law and what's right and what reflects American interests and American values on human rights, and then you let the chips fall where they may," the official said. "We played this one straight. We haven't tried to game it."

Russia expert Matt Rojansky of the Carnegie Endowment think tank said, "It makes a lot of sense that the administration would not want to deepen the tension in relations" on the eve of the Donilon trip to Moscow. Rojansky said Donilon's visit was expected to include discussions of a possible Obama-Putin meeting at a gathering of the G-8 in Northern Ireland in June.

Rojansky noted there was also a classified annex to the list, which might include more politically sensitive names.

But Republican Senator John McCain, who presumably had seen the classified annex, said in a statement about the classified part, "Even that list is inadequate."

Magnitsky worked for the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management in Moscow and was arrested on tax fraud charges shortly after he levelled similar accusations against Russian state officials in 2008.

Magnitsky is now being tried posthumously for tax evasion in Moscow.

The U.S. list included a number of people U.S. lawmakers and rights activists have urged be listed because of alleged links to the jailing of Magnitsky or a cover-up over his death.

Among them were Oleg Silchenko, a senior investigator at the federal Interior Ministry, who was allegedly in charge of the investigation into Magnitsky and ordered his detention.

Also named was Pavel Karpov, a senior investigator in the Interior Ministry at the time of the 2007 police raids on Hermitage Capital, and Artyom Kuznetsov, another Interior Ministry official who allegedly took part in the police raids.

Karpov, who has initiated a libel case against William Browder, the chief of Hermitage Capital, denied the accusations.

"I am expecting soon the decision from the high court of London which will confirm the falsehood of the accusation" Karpov told Interfax.

The list also included Olga Stepanova, an official from the Moscow Tax Office that authorized part of a $230 million (150 million pounds) tax refund that Magnitsky had told officials was suspect.

Another name on the list was Yelena Stashina, a judge who allegedly prolonged Magnitsky's detention, and Andrey Pechegin, who worked in the general prosecutor's office and allegedly denied complaints from Magnitsky about his treatment.

In addition to Dukuzov, the other name unrelated to the Magnitsky case was Lecha Bogatyrov, who has been implicated in the killing of Umar Israilov, a former bodyguard of the Russian Chechen leader Kadyrov. Israilov was shot to death in Vienna in 2009 after turning against Kadyrov. Bogatyrov reportedly escaped arrest and returned to Russia.

(Additional reporting by Paul Eckert and Doug Palmer in Washington, and Steve Gutterman and Thomas Grove in Moscow; Editing by Warren Strobel, Paul Simao and Peter Cooney)

Related Stories:
Obama wants no crisis with Moscow - Russian lawmaker

Factbox - Who's who on the U.S. Magnitsky list

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

IMF recognizes Somali government, offers economic advice

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 03:27 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund officially recognized the Somali government on Friday, ending a 22-year hiatus and allowing the Fund to provide economic policy advice to Somalia.

The move opens the way for donors and other development banks to resume relations with Somalia, whose economy is in tatters after more than two decades of conflict.

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud arrives at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud arrives at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Donors are expected to meet officials from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund during meetings of world finance leaders in Washington next week.

"The decision is consistent with broad international support and recognition of the federal government," the IMF said in a statement. The IMF said, however, that it will not be able to approve lending to Somalia until the government clears $352 million (229.4 million pounds) in debt it owes to the IMF.

The United States has said it will work with the World Bank and the IMF to help Somalia clear the debt. The country also owes the World Bank about $250 million, which is preventing the institution from providing development aid to the government.

Major Western donors, including the United States, Britain and countries in Europe, have slowly been re-engaging with the Mogadishu government since the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud last year. It was the first vote of its kind since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

In subsequent years, al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents seized control of large swathes of the south and central parts of the country. An African Union force has had some success in driving the insurgents out of the capital.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Christopher Wilson and Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Rugby: Biarritz leave quarantine after mumps scare

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 06:04 PM PDT

BORDEAUX: Biarritz's players were allowed out of quarantine on Friday following a mumps scare, giving them two days to prepare for their next Top 14 clash with Perpignan.

The French Rugby League (LNR) had banned the Basques' players and coaches from meeting up for seven days after fly-half Julien Peyrelongue caught the mumps and back-row Benoit Guyot was also suspected of being infected.

Biarritz were quarantined immediately after returning from their 41-31 Challenge Cup quarter-final success away to Gloucester, for which both Peyrelongue and Guyot were forced to sit out.

Sunday's clash against the Catalans is crucial for the battle for seventh place, and with it a potential qualification for the European Cup next year.

Both sides are still in contention to win the Challenge Cup - Perpignan having knocked out French champions Toulouse in their quarter-final - which brings with it a place in next season's European Cup.

Should they fail there, though, and another French side wins either the European Cup (Toulon and Clermont are still in contention) or the Challenge Cup (Stade Francais are also in the semis) then seventh place would also be good enough to qualify for the top European competition next season. - AFP

Rallying: Ex-F1 ace Kubica suffers Portugal blowout

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 05:59 PM PDT

LISBON: Ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica saw his Rally of Portugal hopes crumble on Friday after a series of punctures trumped his total of remaining spare tyres.

Kubica, 28, whose F1 career careered to a halt when he suffered a horror crash in an Italian rally in February two years ago, was second in the standings in the production class when his race ended early Friday.

His Citroen suffered three punctures on the first four stages, and with only two spare tyres left, the Pole was unable to complete the 206km drive to the final stage in the Portuguese capital.

Kubica, making his gravel rally debut in the world championship, had been fourth quickest though Friday's opening stage and went third fastest on the next despite slipping into a ditch.

He was second quickest on stage three and again on four, but at the expense of another two flat tyres.

"He did a great performance today,"the head of Citroen Racing, Yves Matton told www.wrc.com.

"His style is good - it's very similar to the top drivers. He's trying to drive where the grip is the best.

"For sure he had some punctures this morning but it's something you have to learn."

Kubica, who drove for Renault in the Formula One world championship, suffered life-threatening multiple injuries in an accident at the Ronde di Andora Rally in 2011.

His right-hand was partially severed in the crash in northern Italy when he hit a safety barrier and had to be cut free from his car.

He also suffered serious injuries to his shoulder and leg.

France's Sebastien Ogier, in a Volkswagen, finished the day in the overall lead.

The world championship leader was four seconds ahead of Spain's Dani Sordo in a Citroen, and 11 seconds up on Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala in the second Volkswagen. - AFP

Golf: Tiger falls from share of Augusta Masters lead after unlucky shot

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 05:51 PM PDT

AUGUSTA, Georgia: World number one Tiger Woods fell from a share of the lead Friday at the Masters with a bogey at the par-5 15th after his approach struck the flagstick and the ball rolled into the water.

Australian Marc Leishman and 53-year-old American Fred Couples share the 36-hole clubhouse lead, Couples firing a one-under par 71 while Leishman shot 73 to leave both men on five-under 139.

Also at five-under was Australian Jason Day, who had four holes to play in the day's final group.

Woods, in the day's penultimate group, arrived at the 15th with hopes of a birdie to seize the lead.

After putting his tee shot into pine straw right of the fairway, he punched out to set up his approach to a water-fronted green.

The ball hit the flagstick and rolled back into a water hazard.

After a penalty stroke, Woods put his next try at the same shot close enough for a tap-in bogey putt that he made to fall only one back of the leaders.

Leishman and Day hope to become the first Aussie to win the Masters.

Americans Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker and Argentina's Angel Cabrera, the 2009 Masters winner who birdied five of the last six holes, were on 140.

In the clubhouse at 141 were Aussie Adam Scott, American Jason Dufner, South Korean K.J. Choi and England's Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and David Lynn. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Bursa still bullish

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 05:04 PM PDT

REVIEW: Shares on Bursa Malaysia started out the new week on a concrete platform, with the FBM Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (FBM KLCI) jumping 3.02 points to 1,691.67, extending the previous week's winning streak on continuous bargain hunting interest.

However, there was no fresh market-stimulating leads on the horizon to boost follow-through interest after overnight US markets suffered a fall on weaker-than-expected jobs data while investors watched reaction to the Bank of Japan's stimulus.

A poor showing in most of the stock exchanges in the Asia-Pacific region was another factor weighing on the local sentiment.

Consequently, the key index came under pressure to reverse early gains. It touched an intra-day low of 1,683.59 in mid-morning before bouncing off to trade in a pretty tight range around the flat line for the rest of day.

While blue chips were in consolidation mode, second and lower liners were mostly steadier on speculative plays ahead of the general elections and the trend was clearly displayed on the score card.

Despite the index shedding 0.66 of a point to settle at 1,687.99, winners beat decliners by 472 to 268 on Monday.

Nevertheless, US markets staged a rebound the next day, with the Dow recovering 48.23 points to 14,613.48 and crude oil prices rising 66 cents to US$93.36 a barrel, but trading was volatile while investors looked ahead to an earnings season, expecting to show modest growth.

As expected, Asian markets rose on renewed buying momentum, underpinned by benign inflation data from China.

Unlike overseas peers, the local bourse was trapped on extended consolidation, with the FBM KLCI flirting between an intra-day high and low of 1,690.45 and 1,685.61 respectively, a tight 4.84 points range throughout before ending up 2.28 points to 1,690.27 on Tuesday.

Thereafter, world equities sustained the upward thrust, as investors indulged in bargain hunting amid growing optimism about the global economic outlook.

Against the bullish backdrop, stocks on the domestic front, swung back on renewed interest and gains in the quality issues propelled the key index up 5.93 points to 1,696.20 in mid-week.

In line with the global trend, the FBM KLCI charged ahead and smashed the four-day-old peak of 1,700.55 to established a new all-time high of 1,710.35 before trimming advances slightly to settle up 10.84 points to 1,707.04 on Thursday.

And yesterday, the local bourse set another record of 1.716.47 in the morning but ended 8.51 points lower at 1,698.53 owing to profit-taking activity.

Statistics: Week-on-week basis, the major index perked up 9.88 points, or 0.6% to 1,698.53, versus 1,688.65 at the close on April 5.

Total turnover for the regular week amounted to 5.535 billion shares valued at RM9.124bil, compared with 4.918 billion units worth RM9.77bil traded the prior week.

Technical indicators: The daily slow-stochastic momentum index appeared in danger of slipping below the 80% bullish line after triggering a short-term sell at the top yesterday.

In a similar pattern, the 14-day relative strength index had indicated a mild curving down pictogram from a reading of 87 to finish at the 78 points level yesterday.

On the contrary, the daily moving average convergence/divergence (MACD) histogram continued to expand upward against the daily trigger line to stay bullish.

Weekly indicators still were firm, with the weekly slow-stochastic momentum index and the weekly MACD keeping their buy signal.

Outlook: Riding on the strength of overseas markets, especially from Wall Street, the FBM KLCI eclipsed Thursday's new intra-day milestone of 1,710.35 to set a fresh historic high of 1,716.47 in the morning session before reversing trend to end the week at 1,698.53, cut short by an apparent profit-taking activity yesterday.

Nevertheless, sentiment was seen improving and the market appeared steadier since the dissolution of Parliament on April 3, but trading volumes, which is the most important ingredient to sustain any rally, still is missing, thus raising a big concern among the investors out there.

Needless to say, this area needs to be enhanced further and only then will it elevates investors' confidence and optimism about the market going forward.

Technically, indicators are pretty encouraging but the growing overbought condition of the other short-term measurements may entice investors to take profit, which is likely to drag the market into correction mode this week.

If that happens, investors can consider accumulating more, as the market is firmly bullish for now, with the key index flirting above all the moving average on our tracking system.

Resistance is expected at every 20 points or 30 points interval above the 1,700 points psychological barrier.

Support is envisaged at the the 14-day SMA of 1,683 points, 21-day SMA of 1,665 and the lower floor resting at the 1,643-1,650 points band.

Eye on Stock

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 05:03 PM PDT

TELEKOM Malaysia Bhd went through two rounds of correction recently due to profit-taking.

After finding support at the 8-month low of RM5.13 on Feb 20, this stock drifted sideways to slightly steadier on renewed bargain hunting interest, which saw prices mending to a high of RM5.57 during intra-day session yesterday.

For now, Telekom Malaysia is still in an adjustment mode despite the recent recovery. But given the compelling fact of the principal market hitting an all-time high level, suggesting funds was flowing back to the quality issues, this blue-chip counter, which has a 2.133% weighting on the FBM KLCI, appears to have a fairly good chance of ending the correction phase.

A breach of the short-term descending line, resting at the RM5.60 level, followed by a decisive penetration of the 200-day simple moving average (SMA) of RM5.70 would give investors the confirmation. So, check out on that.

Upon breaking out, target the RM6.05 barrier. The next objective would be to challenge the historical peak of RM6.40, established on Oct 5, last year. The oscillator per cent K and the oscillator percent D of the daily slow-stochastic momentum index were firming. It had issued a short-term buy at the mid-range in mid-week. Similarly, the daily moving average convergence/divergence histogram climbed steadily, in tandem with the daily signal line to keep the bullish note. A buy call was issued on Feb 26.

Meanwhile, the 14-day relative strength index improved sharply from a reading of 64 on Tuesday to settle at the 86 points level yesterday.Technically, indicators are pretty encouraging, implying a positive breakout may be on the cards. Initial support is pegged at the 50-day SMA of RM5.34. The lower floor of RM5.13 will now act as a base.

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

Be realistic when buying your 1st house

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 05:00 PM PDT

A Cantonese phrase commonly heard and used by the community peng, leng, zheng literally means "cheap, beautiful and good" in English.

It is a catchy phrase that truly illustrates a purchaser's wish list when he or she is out shopping. But as most people find out very quickly, it is often unrealistic to expect to get all three in life.

In the context of buying a property, the equivalent mantra would be low price, landed and good location. These criteria are held dearly by young working adults when seeking their first home.

While it is ideal to want to own a home that ticks all the boxes, the execution part is in fact challenging if purchasers confine their selection to this formula.

Meeting one or two of these criteria is less daunting and more achievable. This observation holds water when one seeks to purchase a property in major cities.

Scarcity of land makes it not viable to build landed properties on prime areas and at the same time, market them at low prices.

So, what are the factors to consider when young working adults seek to buy their first home?

To understand the thoughts of a young working adult who is all eager to purchase a first home for himself or family, let us imagine being one of these purchasers.

It would not be difficult to realise that the first few thoughts that come to mind are the criteria mentioned earlier.

The important thoughts that come next are questions on how to get such a property and how to pay for it. This requires having a panoramic view of all the factors involved in purchasing a property and opening one's options.

Compared to purchasing a vehicle which costs less, has a shorter instalment period, does not require intensive research and mostly required for mobility, purchasing a property is one of the biggest and most difficult decisions encountered by the young working adults.

It involves searching hard for the right home, saving for the down payment before buying a home and subsequently, paying instalments for a longer period.

However, acquiring a property beats acquiring a vehicle hands down with appreciating value.

Saving to make a down payment for a property should start from early days of working life. If the savings are spent to buy a car first, the cost of owning a property will increase later due to inflation.

Apart from accumulating financial muscles, other chief considerations for buying a home are affordability, location, financial planning and desired lifestyle.

Affordability is the most fundamental consideration in acquiring the first property.

The monthly loan repayment must be within one's means without creating financial burden. It is common to see young working adults having preference for new property developments due to brand new designs and lower maintenance requirement.

However, second-hand properties will open up more choices as there are plenty of good deals at reasonable prices in the secondary market. Such properties can be converted into brand new homes after some renovations.

Closely tied to affordability is the location of the property. We normally seek housing hotspots near the city centre for own occupation or investment. Young working adults on the other hand, have tighter budgets and ought to expand the radar screen to include suburban areas.

There are many housing developments in the suburban areas which offer an ideal home environment at decent prices. Many of these developments have the potential to grow into thriving neighbourhoods with healthy population growth and proper infrastructure in place.

First home purchasers should also consider their overall financial planning. Buying a home is not the only commitment in life; the cost of living, other financial requirements such as family expenses and investment needs should be considered as well.

The ideal lifestyle is a subjective topic with different people having different preferences. Some will prefer a property that is self-contained or come with a wide range of facilities to meet their dynamic lifestyles. A high rise development would be a good option for them.

The ideal concept of "cheap, beautiful and good" in the context of buying a property especially in the major cities may be too good to be true.

There are always choices available for people buying a property if they are fully aware of all the factors involved in purchasing the property and are keen to explore more possibilities before taking the leap.

When you look out for property next time, and this peng, leng, zheng phrase crosses your mind, perhaps you should think twice and leave more options open.

FIABCI Asia-Pacific regional secretariat chairman Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email feedback@fiabci-asiapacific.com.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

GE13: MCA, DAP supporters face off in debate

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 08:48 AM PDT

KLANG: Hundreds of youths here were treated to a preview of the general election as two young supporters of the MCA and DAP faced off in a debate on various national issues.

Both in their 20s, Shen Yee Aun and Chong Zhemin, supporting MCA and DAP respectively, captured the attention of a rapturous crowd at the Klang Hokkien Association Hall in the debate entitled: "Barisan Nasional vs Pakatan Rakyat: Which is the better choice?"

Some of the topics debated include political stability, vernacular education, racism and national unity, economy and corruption.

Both Shen and Chong were a bit nervous at the start but quickly warmed up as the debate progressed.

Shen argued that Barisan was more stable politically, as in 55 years, the coalition of 14 parties never suffered a broken marriage.

"Nobody said 'over my dead body' if the 1Malaysia (concept) was implemented," he said, in reference to DAP's reaction to PAS' intention to set up an Islamic state.

He said Opposition parties had split and made up many times, from being called Barisan Alternatif to Pakatan.

"Why after five years, Pakatan still cannot come up with a single ideology?" he said.

Chong responded by saying the Pakatan ideology was to set up a welfare state.

On economy, Shen also said Barisan was better than Pakatan, citing Malaysia's recent performance such as the GDP, foreign direct investment and competitiveness index.

"Penang's GDP is -1.8%, but Malaysia's DAP is 5.6%.

"Under Barisan, Kedah's debt was RM1bil but in five years under Pakatan, the debt is now RM3bil," he said.

Chong said Penang's investments had doubled between 2008 and 2013 under the leadership of DAP's Lim Guan Eng, compared with the previous five year period under Barisan's Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon.

"In Selangor, there was a budget deficit for six consecutive years under Mentri Besar Dr Khir Toyo, but now we have RM2.6bil," he said.

On corruption, Shen accused Pakatan of being "the fastest in getting corrupted".

"Barisan was punished in 2008 and we have transformed. After March 2008, there is not much corruption in Barisan, but DAP and Pakatan is the fastest to get corrupted," he alleged.

Shen cited the case of a former Perak state exco member from DAP who gave his wife's company a tailoring contract after 55 days in power.

Chong rebutted by saying that the court had cleared the individual of any wrongdoing.

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

GE13: Chinese business community in Kedah paying price for choosing PAS

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 07:56 AM PDT

ALOR SETAR: The Chinese business community in Kedah is getting weary of the PAS-led state government's inefficiency.

A local businessman said the lack of economic development was the price people in Kedah had to pay for voting in PAS in the last general election.

"Since the state government had few means to generate revenue, deforestation activities were actively carried out near Kuala Nerang, causing the rivers there to be polluted," said the businessman, who did not want to be named, on Friday.

He added that the business community in Kedah was also largely unhappy with several policies implemented by the state government.

"The lack of efficiency of the local government offices was apparent since PAS took over, problems like this will no doubt impede our business dealings," he said.

Also, local housing developers were said to be in a bind over many unsold units due to the 50% housing quota allocated for Bumiputera buyers, he added.

He urged the electorate to vote for the candidates rather than party in GE13 on May 5.

Another Chinese voter said PAS should not be given free rein to continue its incompetent governance just because the people wanted to punish Barisan Nasional.

Kedah Chinese Assembly Hall chairman Cheng Lai Hock said he believed that the Chinese community in the state would be able to make wise decisions in GE13.

"Whichever party that is governing, we hope that the interests and welfare of the Chinese community will be looked after," said Cheng.

The Alor Setar parliamentary seat, with a 34% majority Chinese voters, is set to be a major battleground between Barisan and Pakatan Rakyat.

MCA vice president Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung narrowly won the seat in the last general election by 184 votes against PKR candidate Gooi Hsiao Leung.

Chinese voters also have huge power to sway votes in the Derga state seat constituting 40% of the electorate while Padang Serai is an ethnically mixed seat with 56% Malays, 22% Indian and 21% Chinese.

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

GE13: Kita to field 11 candidates in Kedah

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 07:48 AM PDT

SUNGAI PETANI: Independent party Kita has introduced its first line of candidates that will stand in Kedah state and parliamentary constituencies in the 13th general election on May 5.

They will comprise 11 candidates who will contest in a total of nine state assembly and three parliamentary seats.

The parliamentary seats are Sungai Petani (Suhaimi Hashim), Pendang (Sanan Maniratana Eplatand) and Padang Serai (N. Periasamy).

The state seats are Gurun (Azhar Ahmad), Bukit Selambau (Kamal Nasser Thow Beek), Lunas (N. Prebakaran), Sidam (Vincent Uh), Bakar Arang (Suhaimi Hashim), Kuala Ketil (Datuk Dr G Krishnan), Sg Tiang (Chearean Isan), Pedu (Samransak Kram) and Merbau Pulas (Arun Appadorai).

Three of the candidates are of Siamese descent, which the party reckons is a first in Malaysian history.

Kedah Kita chairman Kamal Nasser Thow Beek said they hoped to present Kita as the political "Third Force".

"We are a neutral party, we don't support Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat," he told reporters here Friday.

He asked Kedahans to support Kita by voting them in the GE13, claiming "strong" grassroots support.

Kamal added that Kita intended to announce another five more state assembly and three more parliamentary candidates.

Many of those listed by Kita tonight appear to be either businessmen, non-governmental organisation leaders and in one case, a former national football player (Samransak).

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

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Former Bond girl gets a taste of the future in Oblivion

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 03:18 AM PDT

IN Oblivion, the future earth has become a place beyond recognition after an alien attack. The year is 2077 and the only two people on this devastated and uninhabitable planet are security repairman Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), and his colleague Vika (Andrea Riseborough) – left behind to oversee the extraction of earth's vital resources before the planet is abandoned for good. In the words of Harper's character, the two make up the mop-up crew.

Then, an astronaut (Julia, portrayed by Olga Kurylenko) crashlands on earth after many years of sleep in space. Her arrival impacts Cruise's character. In an interview transcript provided by film distributor, UIP Malaysia, Kurylenko said: "My character brings more questions than answers!"

Oblivion is directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) from a 12-page story he wrote back in 2005 (which later became a graphic novel before being adapted for the big screen).

Although Kurylenko has never read the graphic novel, she was intrigued by the script as she found the characters and the plots interesting. The actress shared: "Even though we've seen post-apocalyptic films before, this was a different story. This was an original story and there was a beautifully described romance. I really liked my character, too. Of course, the opportunity to work with Joe Kosinski and Tom Cruise was quite appealing."

Although she could dig into the emotional aspect featured in the film, the 33-year-old actress had a little trouble imagining the look of the future as well as the machines used in the world as envisioned by Kosinski when she first conversed with the director. And these are the precise elements that leap out from the screen in the film. (The film was shot in 4K resolution, which means four times the resolution of an HD image, giving the picture more depth and clarity when projected on an IMAX screen.)

Luckily for Kurylenko, Kosinski could explain everything to her. "I had to meet with Joe to get his vision. I was like, 'Now explain to me what this machine does.' When you step on the set and see it all, you just go, 'Wow! You actually built that?' From everything I've seen, it's going to be such a cool-looking movie.'

According to producer Dylan Clark, they needed an actress who is as tough as Cruise to meet the demands of the physical scenes in the film. To test her, the production team put Kurylenko through all kinds of action. Obviously, the Ukrainian-born Kurylenko passed with flying colours. The actress, who rose to fame when she became the Bond girl in the 2008 Quantum Of Solace, confessed "... the role is so physical with all kinds of action, which I had never done before."

Comparing Oblivion and Quantum Of Solace, Kurylenko noted that there were a lot more blue-screen work on this film – especially when her and Cruise's characters are in a futuristic helicopter called Bubbleship. "It was really cool. We sat in this gimbal with mounted cameras that rotated in different ways."

Like Quantum Of Solace, however, Kurylenko is partnered with someone who is only too happy to be doing physical action. Describing Cruise as a great guy, she added: "He's a fascinating person. He manages to do everything he wants in his life. On the set, he was an actor and a producer. He's involved in everything and he's great at his job. He's a fascinating actor. I could watch him for hours. He's also a generous and supportive actor. If the camera was on me, and he needed to be somewhere else, he'd insist on being there to support me. For him, your work is just as important as his own. He's very caring and attentive to everyone on the set."

Currently based in London, England, Kurylenko started out as a model after she was spotted by a talent scout in a crowded Moscow subway. She was just 13 then. Five years later, her face has graced the covers of countless magazines including Marie Claire and Vogue. In 2005, she made her debut as an actress in the film Iris, followed by other features including Centurion, Hitman and the more recent British flick, Seven Psychopaths.

In the transcript, she described acting as being much more intense than modelling. "It's more difficult. It requires more involvement and research. With modelling, you don't do research before you go in front of the camera. You just wake up and you go! There's nothing to prepare. Acting is more expressive."

She has no regrets going into acting and is grateful for her career. "I'm so happy that I did it. At first, it was simply because it looked fun. But once I started doing it, I realised how much I learned from it. ... When you're a kid, sometimes you are asked to recite poems and you just recite them. But once I started acting, I realised there are feelings behind the words. Acting teaches you to see that. I suddenly discovered this amazing world behind the words."

Oblivion is now showing in cinemas nationwide.

Movies coming soon

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 03:12 AM PDT

Drug War – Director Johnnie To cast Louis Koo and Sun Honglei in a film revolving around a drug cartel boss. Once arrested, he is coerced into betraying his former accomplices as part of an undercover operation.

Broken City – Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is a New York city police officer who is discharged from the force by his captain (Jeffrey Wright) after he kills a rapist instead of arresting him. His services, however, are appreciated by Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe), a powerful man who has his own view on how to run his city.

Liam Neeson, Woody Harrelson for 'Highwaymen'

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 11:32 PM PDT

According to Deadline.com, Liam Neeson and Woody Harrelson are being wooed to participate in the crime drama Highwaymen.

Highwaymen will focus on Frank Hamer, an elite Texas Ranger who became the brains of the operation to hunt down and arrest Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. The Blind Side director John Lee Hancock will direct.

Filming is expected to begin at the start of 2014.

Before then, Frank Hamer will be the subject of a mini-series shown on Lifetime and History.

William Hurt will play the lawman, while Holliday Grainger and Emile Hirsch will star as the criminal lovers who terrorized the US during the Great Depression until they were killed by police in 1934.


Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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Book reviews

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 06:38 AM PDT

Wabi Sabi Love: The Ancient Art Of Finding Perfect Love In Imperfect Relationships

Author: Arielle Ford

Publisher: Harper-Collins, 244 pages WABI Sabi is the Japanese concept of honouring the beauty in all things worn, imperfect and transient. Author Arielle Ford uses this idea to teach couples how to find joy in their relationships by seeing past each other's bad behaviours.

The noted relationship expert gives advice on how to look past your partner's annoying habits by being thankful for the relationship you have, and seeing new perspectives. She also includes real-life examples of couples who applied the art of Wabi Sabi to sort out their troubled love lives.

My Last Empress

Author: Da Chen

Publisher: Crown Publishers, 273 pages THE wealthy young Samuel Pickens fell passionately in love with Annabelle, a girl who was raised unconventionally in China – only to lose her when she dies young. Unable to forget her, Samuel eventually ends up in China where he meets the Emperor as well as a concubine who looks exactly like his beloved, dead Annabelle.

In the midst of the upheavals of 19th century China, just as the previously closed country is opening up to the Western world, Samuel indulges his obsession and begins a dangerous liaison with the emperor's concubine that will test how far he will go for the sake of love.

A Dog's Journey

Author: W. Bruce Cameron

Publisher: Pan Books, 336 pages BUDDY is an ageing Labrador that lives on a farm where he watches over the granddaughter of his late master, Clarity, doing his best to keep her out of trouble. But Clarity is growing up to be a troubled teenager and Buddy realises that she needs him now more than ever. Just as her life begins to spiral out of control thanks to her unruly mother and obsessive boyfriend – in fact, just as Clarity needs Buddy the most, they are suddenly separated by events. Can the good dog find his way back to Clarity again?

This book is the sequel to the New York Times bestselling (and tear-jerking!) A Dog's Purpose.

Hef's Little Black Book

Authors: Hugh Hefner & Bill Zehme

Publisher: It Books, 223 pages EVER wondered what life must be like for the founder of Playboy magazine Hugh Hefner? Well, here's your chance. In this book, the epitome of the suave man-about-town offers readers some wisdom and thoughts on subjects like business and romance, not to mention tips on how to win at games like Monopoly and backgammon.

Hefner also shares some exclusive photographs and a floor plan of his infamous Playboy mansion. And he spills the beans on the kind of "activities" that take place in the mansion. Surprisingly, those include "Mansion Movie Nights" – Hefner, it seems, is a huge fan of Humphrey Bogart movies.

Whitney Houston: The Voice, The Music, The Inspiration

Authors: Narada Michael Walden & Richard Buskin

Publisher: Insight Editions, 144 pages MUSIC producer and longtime friend Narada Michael Walden tells the story of Whitney Houston through the experiences they shared during the late singer's rise to stardom in the 1980s. Walden also includes stories from those who have personally worked with the singer.

Each chapter opens with a quote about Houston and features personal photographs that reflects the late diva's spirit and tenacity in the music industry. Walden also includes a chapter on his last meeting with Houston, a year before her tragic death in 2012.

Top Dog: The Science Of Winning And Losing

Authors: Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

Publisher: Twelve, 335 pages

THIS book unveils the neurological and psychological factors that determine the outcome of a competition. Discover what makes it easier for male Wall Street analysts to get promotions, what miserable musicians mean for orchestras, and what nuclear engineers can learn from professional tennis players.

Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman reveal that when it comes to competition, what matters is the "size of the fight", or determination, in all of us.

Notorious Nineteen (a Stephanie Plum novel)

Author: Janet Evanovich

Publisher: Bantam Books, 312 pages FIESTY New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum may have bitten off more than she can chew this time around when she accepts an assignment to track down con man Geoffrey Cabbin who has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after emergency surgery. Desperate for clues, Stephanie even gets Grandma Mazur to go undercover and dig. However, when another felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie has to work with cop Joe Morelli to crack the case. In the meantime, she also accepts another job as a bodyguard. Her mentor Ranger is being targeted by a deadly ex-special forces agent.

Can Stephanie get her (con) man and keep her other "job" alive?

Live By Night

Author: Dennis Lehane

Publisher: Harper-Collins, 402 pages SET in Boston during the 1920s, this book follows Joe Coughlin as he climbs up the ladder of organised crime.

The youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain has turned his back on a life of virtue for a career with some of the city's most fearsome mobsters. But as the criminal lifestyle takes him from flashy jazz clubs in Boston to the sensual streets of Cuba, Joe learns that all the vice comes with a heavy price.

Some trivia that gives this work by acclaimed American author Dennis Lehane some added weight: Ben Affleck confirmed that he is adapting it for his next film.

The Quickening - A deceptively simple read

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 06:36 AM PDT

The Quickening
Author: Julie Myerson
Publisher: Hammer, 288 pages

THERE is a perennial debate that occurs in the literary world, as regular as cherry blossoms but a good deal more frequent, concerning the thorny issue of genre. Critics often talk about literary versus commercial fiction as if it's a bit like smoking or non-smoking: you're one or the other. Writers themselves rarely sign up to this polarisation: most are writing the books that are in their hearts, to the best of their abilities – and then handing them over to their publisher, whose job it is to apply the label.

In an interesting exercise, the once-famous horror movie company Hammer, in partnership with Arrow books, has taken three well-known literary voices and given them the challenge of writing genre fiction, contributing to a series of books loosely based on a horror theme in the old-fashioned Hammer sense, ie psychological horror rather than the torture-porn version that does depressingly well in film.

Helen Dunmore and Jeanette Winterson have already produced Hammer novellas (The Greatcoat and The Daylight Gate respectively) and now it's the turn of Julie Myerson, with a gripping tale of a honeymoon couple in the Caribbean being haunted by spirits and strange events that turn out to have their origins very close to home.

Rachel and Dan arrive on a beautiful island for the holiday of a lifetime – newly wed, newly pregnant – but even before they check in to their luxurious hotel, the locals are warning Rachel that her husband is in danger. Rachel is soon haunted by poltergeists, nightmares and a malign figure with soil in his face and hair. When staff at the hotel begin to be murdered, the threat becomes much more concrete.

Myerson couldn't be a better choice for this sort of book: her novels have been full ghosts, real and imagined, often as functions of a heroine's disordered mind. Her first book, Sleepwalking, was published 20 years ago but I can still remember the chilling image of a dead grandfather looming over a newborn baby's cot as the mother frantically bats the apparition away. Sleepwalking was as much about inheritance as spirits – the terrifying thought that when we produce our own children we bequeath them, unwittingly, the way in which we were raised ourselves. The Quickening may be a specific commission but it is still Sleepwalking's grandchild, parented by Myerson's intervening novels, particularly Laura Blundy and The Story Of You.

The main concession Myerson has made to the demands of genre is the rather perfunctory opening to this book, a short preamble where Rachel's loving but controlling husband makes the surprise announcement of their forthcoming trip. Dan is a frighteningly realistic portrayal of the kind of man who loves surprising his wife, not to delight her but to keep her constantly off-guard. When he presents her with a ring he hides it in a fist and invites her to tap. She chooses the left hand and he gleefully announces, "Wrong as usual".

This scene and their arrival in the Caribbean are a little too speedy, as though Myerson has been told to get to the horror as quickly as possible, but her trademark attention to detail soon evidences itself. In their air-conditioned hotel room, Dan empties something out of his shoe, "round and bright and shiny and red" – a cherry tomato from the salad he ate on the aeroplane. It's an early clue that strange and unlikely things are happening. When the phantom with soil in his hair appears, he is all the more sinister because he shows up in bright hot sunshine next to a sparkling sea.

At times it seems that the real horror in this book, of which the ghosts are only metaphors, is the fear of being married to the wrong man. But as Rachel's behaviour becomes more deranged, the reader is forced to consider whether Dan is lovingly concerned for an unstable wife, or a murderous psychopath. Myerson keeps the reader guessing until the very end and provides no easy answers in a deceptively simple read that will compel horror fans while being just as satisfying to her own readership.

Author Louise Doughty's new novel, Apple Tree Yard, will be published by Faber in June.

Marvel resurrects two space-faring titles

Posted: 12 Apr 2013 06:34 AM PDT

Marvel reaches for the stars by resurrecting two of its space-faring titles.

WHAT do Superman, Spider-Man and Batman have in common? Well, aside from the "-man" suffix, they all grew up without their biological parents and set the benchmark for superheroes to come.

While I am not saying that orphans have a higher chance of saving/dominating the world, statistics in the world of comics seem to imply that as a prerequisite – Captain America, Daredevil, Magneto, and Victor Von Doom were all orphans as well.

Hence, while reviewing today's comics, I wondered if the likes of Nova and Star-Lord could also be on their way to greatness, considering they both have only one parent, and are now undergoing their umpteenth revival attempt via the Marvel Now line. Read on to see how they fare.

Guardians Of The Galaxy #0.1 and #1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Steve McNiven

THIS is like a cosmic version of the Avengers, complete with the presence of a rather subdued Iron Man on the roll call (temporarily) to help elevate the team's status. You can understand Marvel's logic behind this decision – after all, how many people (outside avid comic readers) have read, or even heard, about Rocket Raccoon, Drax The Destroyer, Gamora, Groot and Star-Lord?

If you dig into the Marvel history banks circa the late 1960s right up to the 90s, and then look back on the last five years or so, you will find a Guardians of the Galaxy team in both eras, albeit with different members altogether. The original Guardians suffered because they could not find their niche in the Marvel Universe – they certainly weren't Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but they weren't the Galaxy's Mightiest Heroes either, despite the namesake.

Sadly, the only milestone I can recall from that early team is the involvement of a certain Jim Valentino, who used it as a springboard to co-found Image Comics.

In 2008, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning revived the Guardians concept with a new roll call (similar to the present-day one but with the inclusion of the Micronauts' Bug) and higher-profile adventures involving Thanos and the Inhumans. The ensuing War Of Kings and Thanos Imperative story arcs helped reposition the team within the Marvel Universe, making this latest revival attempt perfect to reintroduce the team before the upcoming live-action Guardians Of The Galaxy movie next year.

The "Point One" issue functions focuses on the origins of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, the leader of the team. Despite being the heir to the intergalactic Spartax Empire, his loyalty remains solely to Earth – his birthplace. Thirty years ago, J'son (Peter's dad) crashed his spaceship on Earth and was rescued by an "Earthlet" named Meredith. After a hostile first impression, romance gradually blossomed between them, resulting in Peter's conception. However, before Peter's birth, J'son left to continue his galactic war and never returned.

A decade after J'son's departure, two aliens came knocking on Meredith's door. Their objective was brutally straightforward – to end the Spartax bloodline! Although they failed to terminate Peter, his mother died in the attack. The tragedy changed Peter's life, leading him on a journey to find his real father, via orphanages, foster homes and NASA.

The official first issue of Guardians Of The Galaxy does reunite Peter with his father, but it's not a happy get-together, with Peter resenting his father's inaction all these years. Conversely, J'son is unhappy with his son's attitude, which is not reflective of his royal stature. The already tense relationship worsens when J'son orders his son to stay away from Earth, citing that it has been designated as off-limits to all extraterrestrial interaction.

Obviously, this "decree" does not go down well with Peter, who feels that this designation will only paint a target on Earth – especially to the Badoon or Thanos. True enough, Peter and his new Guardians team soon cross paths with a Badoon warship near Earth's atmosphere. Although they succeed in stopping one warship, they are unable to prevent a full-scale invasion of Earth!

Well, I'm hooked! These two issues, courtesy of Bendis' plot and McNiven's pulsating pencils, are enough to convince me that the Guardians deserve a place in the Marvel Universe. While the sight of Iron Man playing second fiddle to Star-Lord and even Rocket Racoon (at times) takes a lot of getting used to, the team dynamics offers a lot of potential for tinkering. When they first announced that a Guardians movie was on the cards, I thought it was a perplexingly absurd idea – but after reading these books, I must say this certainly justifies their journey to the silver screen.

Nova #1 and #2
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Ed McGuiness

I HAVE a soft spot for Nova, as this was the character that got me started on comics and inspired me to write a proposal to Marvel during their Epic imprint days. While the content of that proposal is a story that will follow me to the grave, what's relevant here is that we have another attempt to resurrect the Human Rocket.

Concept-wise, Nova was a way for his co-creators Marv Wolfman and Len Wein to pay homage to Spider-Man.

Richard Rider, the original Nova, was a teenager with great powers who struggled on all fronts to fulfil the responsibilities. From his education to his relationships, Richard had worse "Parker luck" than Peter Parker himself. Hence, the decision to make this new Nova title Richard-free is perfectly understandable and apt.

Those of you who followed Avengers Vs X-Men would have already met the new Nova, aka Sam Alexander. Barely old enough to apply for a driving licence, he is the newest inductee into the Nova Corps, after his father (Jesse, a Nova Corps member) mysteriously disappears.

Sam used to have a dead-end life in a town named Carefree. Despite not having any powers, he had a lot of responsibility – besides being a student, he also doubles as the school's de facto janitor because of his father's inability to carry out the job.

Sam's dad has been in a delusional state for some time, desperately clinging to his glory days as Nova. Once his high-flying days were tragically interrupted, his yearning to get back into action severely impacted his daily life and most importantly, his fatherly duties. When the call of duty eventually arrives, it also signals a passing of the mantle to Sam. Here's where the excitement begins, with a guest appearance by the Guardians of the Galaxy's Rocket Racoon and Gamora!

I attribute all the past failures at resurrecting Nova to the excess baggage in Richard Rider's life. The clean slate that Sam provides makes him a good sponge to soak up a host of exciting experiences – case in point, his first steps towards flying, which reminded me of 1980s TV show The Greatest American Hero. Here's hoping that this new Nova manages to soar!

Comics courtesy of Earth 638 (Tel: 03-78048380, email: earth638@yahoo.com).

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