Rabu, 17 April 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Hundreds believed injured in Texas fertilizer plant blast

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 08:32 PM PDT

WEST, Texas (Reuters) - Hundreds of people were likely injured in a fiery explosion on Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas, that damaged or destroyed numerous buildings including a nursing home, authorities said.

A column of smoke rises after an explosion at a fertilizer plant north of Waco, Texas April 17, 2013. Police are reporting a large explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas. Local police scanner traffic reports multiple structures on fire with many people trapped, according to news reports. REUTERS/Joe Berti/Twitter

A column of smoke rises after an explosion at a fertilizer plant north of Waco, Texas April 17, 2013. Police are reporting a large explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas. Local police scanner traffic reports multiple structures on fire with many people trapped, according to news reports. REUTERS/Joe Berti/Twitter

The blast was reported at about 8 p.m. CDT (0100 GMT on Thursday) in West, a town of some 2,700 people about 80 miles (130 kilometres) south of Dallas and 20 miles (32 km) north of Waco.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, D.L. Wilson, told Reuters the blast had probably caused "hundreds of casualties" and damaged many homes.

He added that a nearby nursing home collapsed from the explosion and that people were believed trapped inside.

A Reuters reporter observed that a middle school and several homes in the area appeared to have been severely burned.

More than 100 people injured in the blast and fire were being taken to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, said vice president of hospital operations David Argueta.

Hillcrest CEO Glenn Robinson told CNN that the hospital was seeing "everything from orthopaedic injuries to patients that are experiencing serious blood loss."

Governor Rick Perry issued a statement saying his office had "mobilized state resources to help local authorities" deal with the incident.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman, Tim Gaynor and David Bailey; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Xavier Briand)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

North Korea demands end of sanctions if U.S. wants dialogue

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 08:23 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea demanded an end to U.N. sanctions against it and a U.S. pledge not to engage in "nuclear war practice" before any dialogue with Washington, its most explicit conditions for talks after weeks of tension and threats of war.

A North Korean soldier looks out of the window of a guard tower, on the banks of Yalu River, about 100 km (62 miles) from the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, April 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jacky Chen

A North Korean soldier looks out of the window of a guard tower, on the banks of Yalu River, about 100 km (62 miles) from the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, April 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jacky Chen

North Korea's top military body also said the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula would begin when the United States removed nuclear weapons that the isolated state claims it has deployed in the region.

"Dialogue and war cannot co-exist," the North's National Defence Commission said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency on Thursday.

"If the United States and the puppet South have the slightest desire to avoid the sledge-hammer blow of our army and the people ... and truly wish dialogue and negotiations, they must make the resolute decision," it said, before listing its conditions.

The United States has offered talks, but on the pre-condition that they lead to North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons ambitions.

North Korea deems its nuclear arms a "treasured sword" and has vowed never to give them up.

Nevertheless, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who ended a trip to the region early this week that was dominated by concern about North Korea, stressed his interest in a diplomatic solution.

South Korea which is conducting military exercises with U.S. forces, to the anger of North Korea, has also proposed talks.

North Korea stepped up its defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions in December when it launched a rocket that it said put a scientific satellite in orbit. Critics said the launch was aimed at nurturing the kind of technology needed to deliver a nuclear warhead with a long-range missile.

That was followed in February by its third test of a nuclear weapon. That triggered new U.N. sanctions in March, sharply toughening existing measures, which in turn led to a dramatic intensification of North Korean threats of nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States.

"Firstly, the sanctions resolutions by the U.N. Security Council that were fabricated with unjust reasons must be withdrawn," the North's top military body said in its statement.

"The denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula can begin with the removal of the nuclear war tools dragged in by the U.S. and it can lead to global nuclear disarmament," it added.

(Editing by Robert Birsel and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Police report fertilizer plant explosion near Waco, Texas

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 07:26 PM PDT

(Reuters) - Authorities in Texas reported a large explosion on Wednesday at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, near Waco, and local media said that there were a number of injuries reported.

The blast, reported shortly before 8 p.m. CDT (0100 GMT), was confirmed to Reuters by Waco police dispatch operators, who could not immediately confirm reports of damage or injuries.

The Waco Tribune newspaper, in an online account, quoted an emergency dispatcher calling for multiple ambulances and saying, "we have a lot of injured here."

The Tribune said several buildings were reported to be on fire, including a middle school in West, a town of some 2,700 people about 80 miles (129 km) south of Dallas and 20 miles (32 km) north of Waco.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman, Tim Gaynor and David Bailey; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Troian Bellisario: Pretty multi-talented star

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 04:16 PM PDT

Troian Bellisario is not only the star of TV's Pretty Little Liars, but also wrote and produced her own short film.

ON hit TV series Pretty Little Liars, the four leading lasses are a catty, backstabbing bunch who turn on one another for personal gain.

In real life, however, the actresses portraying these roles are anything but that.

The teen mystery-drama stars Troian Bellisario, 27, Lucy Hale, 23, Shay Mitchell, 25, and Ashley Benson, 23.

In an interview in Singapore recently, Bellisario says the cast have become such fast friends that a co-star even recommended Bellisario over herself to directors for certain roles.

Looking chic in a pink blazer and cream high-waisted shorts, the leggy brunette says with a laugh: "Lucy, for example, went out to lunch with this director for a movie role, but she acted like my agent the whole time. She was, like, 'Listen, you don't want me, you want my friend Troian for this role.'

"So because of that, I got to have lunch with this director later on. And he said to me, 'You know, your friend on the show pitched you harder to me than your agent.' So maybe I should start giving commission to Lucy Hale."

Pretty Little Liars, which is loosely based on Sara Shepard's best-selling book series, follows the lives of four girls whose clique falls apart after their leader disappears and is then found dead.

Bellisario says with a chuckle: "The thing is, all four of us girls are so different from one another, so there really is no room for competition."

The Los Angeles native, who plays the wealthy and incredibly smart Spencer Hastings in Pretty Little Liars, recalls how she bonded with the other three girls, long before the series took off.

Shooting the show pilot coincided with the American holiday of Thanksgiving, so they celebrated together over dinner and clicked instantly, she says.

"The pilot was shot in Vancouver, Canada, and we were all away from home, so we sat down to this dinner with no idea who the others are or what they're like. But by the end of the dinner, we were four best friends.

"I think because we all came onto this crazy rollercoaster together that is the show, we understand each other and the chemistry is just there."

Bellisario is the daughter of producer and screenwriter Donald Bellisario, who created several hit TV series such as Magnum P.I. (1980-1988), Jag (1995-2005) and NCIS (2003-present). Her mother is Deborah Pratt, a screenwriter and actress who has appeared in TV dramas such as Quantum Leap (1989-1993) and Airwolf (1984-1987). The pretty actress has been dating actor Patrick J. Adams, the lead in hit TV series Suits, for the past four years.

So even though female relationships are so often seen as mean or malicious onscreen, Bellisario says that she, for one, "would not know what to do" without her co-stars.

She says seriously: "There is no one else who understands how hard it is to go through relationships or how hard it is to get roles in this business, than these girls. It's actually pretty amazing to know that you're not alone."

You have been playing Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars for three seasons. Do you still find it fresh, playing this character?

Yes, and I think she has grown a lot over the seasons. She becomes a fleshed-out person and not just a caricature. And the way I look at it is that, as long as there is still something to say about the character, then it's okay doing it. Like you see what (screenwriter) Alan Ball did with Six Feet Under – he could have gone on for 10 seasons because it was so great, but he did only five because he'd rather have the show go out when everyone still loved the story and the characters, than for everyone to eventually lose interest. For me, I think there is still more that we can see develop from Spencer, so I'm not bored yet.

Pretty Little Liars is among many shows that centre on young women, such as Girls, The Carrie Diaries and 2 Broke Girls. Do you feel like women are getting more variety in TV roles these days?

Yes, definitely. One of my great inspirations is (writer-creator) Lena Dunham and what she has done for Girls, because in that show, she portrays the women as not just hot TV babes. They are so real. They cry and their boobs are out. And even on our show, we have these moments where the girls are really very flawed and unlikeable, roles which I think women struggled to find just a few years ago. Everyone says that today, TV is experiencing a golden age, and I really think that's true. It's exciting to be part of TV now, where all these possibilities are popping up.

You received a Teen Choice Award last year for Choice Summer TV Star: Female for your role in Pretty Little Liars. What was that like?

Winning that was really surreal because you do a lot of work and you want to be recognised, but the Teen Choice Awards is also oddly like a popularity contest. Everyone I was up against that night was amazing and does awesome stuff, but maybe I won only because more of my fans happened to show up to vote that day. I'm honoured by the win, but it's also odd because it's like winning the prom queen title or something. Now that you mention this, I have yet to actually get hold of the award, which is a surf board.

You wrote, produced and starred in your own short film Exiles (2011), inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet. Are you going to do more writing and producing of your own?

Absolutely. My parents are both writers and producers, and they instilled in me that I should never wait around and I should go out there and create the job I want to perform in. So I wrote this short film, got some of my best friends together and just made it. We're still waiting on festivals but we are so proud of it.

This was a character that I wanted to explore and play and that's what's so awesome about doing your own project. I play Spencer Hastings for nine months of the year and I love her, but it's nice to write characters that will hopefully allow people to see me in a different light. And when you write your own character, you love every bit of her. It's not like when you're given a script, where you may love the character but there are certain bits about her that you find annoying. I loved every aspect of the character that I wrote.

Your actor boyfriend Patrick J. Adams shoots TV series Suits in Toronto but you film Pretty Little Liars in Los Angeles. Do you have to fly back and forth often?

I practically live on the airplane, flying back and forth to see him. I call myself the foldable girl because I've gotten so used to folding myself in a position to tuck myself nicely into the plane seat. That's why I'm into yoga. Most people would say it's for flexibility or for health. For me, it's so that I can be a collapsible person.

You co-starred with him in the short film The Come Up (2012). What was it like working with your boyfriend?

It was actually really wonderful because he was so supportive throughout. Before filming The Come Up, I had just gone through something like 36 straight hours of shooting, so I was completely exhausted and probably delusional. And our first scene for the film was this massive monologue, where I had to recite a lot of lines, and I wasn't even sure if I made any sense. But after every take, Patrick would always say, "Don't worry, baby, you're doing a great job." In between takes, he would even find cars for me to go sleep in. It was a blessing for him to be there.

How would you like to be remembered?

I turned 27 and it wasn't until a few days after that I realised this is the age when a lot of famous people died, like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. So I was like, I better start living. If I die now, the headline will just say, "Pretty Little Liars star dies at 27". There is still so much more I want to do. So hopefully, I get a beautiful run on Pretty Little Liars and eventually get to segue into more wonderful roles and be remembered for those. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Controversy lingers as F1 heads to Bahrain

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 07:08 PM PDT

MANAMA - Formula One moves to Bahrain this weekend, with the Grand Prix in the tiny, resource-rich Gulf kingdom again taking place against a backdrop of long-running dissent and continued protest.

The race was shelved in 2011 due to pro-democracy protests by the minority Shia Muslim population but resumed last year, despite calls for it to be axed due to claims of human rights abuses and heavy-handed police tactics against protesters.

The race itself passed off without incident, although four members of the Force India team were caught up in a petrol bomb attack and two returned home early.

The run-up to Sunday's race has again witnessed an increase in protests by hardline groups and a crackdown by the Bahrain authorities, prompting fresh calls for F1 to question its annual presence in the country on ethical grounds.

Young Shiite protesters who took the streets sounding drums have called the race "the Formula of blood".

Formula One supremo supremo Bernie Ecclestone, though, has dismissed concerns about holding the race in the country, while the Bahrain government has pledged to take "appropriate" measures to ensure security.

One notable absentee from the race will be Jean Todt, as he seeks re-election as president of world motorsport governing body the FIA, a number of newspapers, including Britain's The Guardian and The Times, have reported.

On the track, Germany's Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull leads the drivers' championship on 52 points from Finland's Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus (49) and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso (43), who won last week's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai with ease.

Mercedes team chief Ross Brawn, though, believes that the race will show whether they have a car fast enough to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari after Lewis Hamilton secured pole position and then finished a creditable third in China.

Brawn, who masterminded Michael Schumacher to his seven drivers' titles with Benetton and Ferrari, said he felt Mercedes were within reach of fighting for titles but needed to confirm their potential on Sunday.

"The pleasing thing is we've been to three races this year and we have not been bad. Bahrain will be the final one of the opening quartet that will tell us if we have a car that we can get to work at most places," he said.

"We seem to have but we have to lift the performance another two or three tenths compared to the opposition - and we know it is a moving target."

Brawn told Autosport magazine that there were plenty of encouraging signs that Mercedes had a much better car this year.

Last year in Bahrain, Mercedes followed up German Nico Rosberg's stunning victory in China by taking fifth place in qualifying and the race.

This year they are hoping for something better - and the 2008 champion Hamilton, who has already delivered two podium finishes and a pole position this season, said the team was strong enough to challenge for the title.

The British driver, 12 points adrift of defending triple champion Vettel, said he felt sure he was capable of being involved in the title fight - as long as they improved their pace from China.

Ferrari's team chief Stefano Domenicali was also confident following Alonso's triumph in Shanghai.

The team's Ferrari F138 car was already more competitive than last year's F2012 at the same time, he added.

"The car seems better this year in terms of pure performance, even though that is not enough because we need to make it better and better," he explained.

On Sunday's race he said: "We have another situation in Bahrain with different conditions. We will see where the performance of our car relative to the others will be there."

Three former world champions have won this year's opening three races, while the once-dominant Red Bull team has been troubled by internal strife.

Australian driver Mark Webber struggled in the season's opener in Melbourne - his home race - then was stunned in Malaysia when Vettel ignored team orders and snatched victory from him.

In China, he ran out of fuel in qualifying and then collided with Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso and lost a wheel.

That clash has brought Webber a grid penalty this weekend but team chief Christian Horner has backed him to make his mark.

"He will be fine. He is a tough competitor and he was driving very well," he added.

Horner also rejected all suggestions that the team was involved in any kind of conspiracy to favour Vettel and undermine Webber. - AFP

Day seeks to bounce back from Masters loss

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 05:35 PM PDT

HILTON HEAD, South Carolina - Australian Jason Day is among the players seeking to bounce back from disappointment at the Masters by playing at the $5.8 million US PGA Tour Heritage tournament starting Thursday.

Day, fellow Australian Marc Leishman and American Brandt Snedeker were all in contention in the final round of the year's first major, but fell short.

Day, who admitted the pressure at Augusta National "got to me a little bit," surrendered a last-round lead with back-to-back bogeys and failed to make a playoff in which Aussie Adam Scott triumphed over Argentina's Angel Cabrera.

Day said he was glad to have a new challenge to focus on.

"It's nice to be here and have sunshine and just kind of relax," he said. "I've got to move on to the next one and try and win this one."

Leishman finished tied for fourth with Tiger Woods at Augusta while Snedeker shared sixth place. It's not the first time Day has arrived at Hilton Head's Harbour Town Golf Links after a Masters letdown.

In 2011, he shared second place at Augusta National and finished tied for ninth at Harbour Town - when Snedeker won in a playoff.

Snedeker admitted he had trouble sleeping on Sunday, after his putting let him down on the rain-soaked greens at Augusta.

"Any time you have a chance to win a major championship and you don't do it, especially the Masters ... a tournament I'd give my whole career to win, it's tough," Snedeker said.

But being at Hilton Head "definitely gets it out of my mind. I did a lot of great stuff last week, but I need to get my head around what I need to do to play well."

Last year the Heritage was won by Sweden's Carl Pettersson, who fired a two-under par 69 in the final round for a five-stroke victory.

Pettersson will defend his title, part of a field that includes major winners Graeme McDowell, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer.

Ten of the top 25 players in the world rankings are entered, including England's Luke Donald.

Donald managed just a share of 37th place last year to see his world No. 1 ranking go to Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy. - AFP

Weiron sizzles in debut at Donington Park

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 05:52 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian driver Weiron Tan enjoyed a perfect start to his European campaign in the Protyre Formula Renault Championships — sealing a hard-fought podium finish in the first race at Donington Park on Sunday.

With the schedule packed into one hectic day, Weiron embarked on his first qualifying on the national circuit at Donington Park with the Fortec Motorsports team.

The 2013 Protyre Formula Renault has a strong 18-car grid, with drivers competing from across 10 nationalities.

Weiron performed well in his first qualifying session, setting the fourth fastest time to secure a second row starting spot.

In race, one Weiron initially dropped a position to fifth before coming back strongly to seal the final rostrum position.

He did not finish race two.

Weiron was tapped from behind while attempting to pass for the lead and it sent him hurtling into the gravel trap.

The next round of the Protyre Formula Renault takes place at Snetterton on May 11-12. The next meet will comprise three races.

"Overall, I'm really happy with my weekend. It was my first time at Donington and my first race in this championship, so I think it was a good start to the season," said the 18-year-old.

"Because of the compact schedule, we had no practice session, it was straight to qualifying.

"To secure P4 and P2 for the races was a very positive start, particularly with the knowledge that I was the only driver with no experience at the circuit.

"Race one went pretty well. I knew I had the pace for a podium and, if it hadn't been for a small mistake, the win could have been ours.

"The second race was good and bad. We were the fastest on the track and could have taken the win but I was tapped and it sent me into the gravel ... and that was it for race two.

"I'm heading for Snetterton feeling positive and with some good momentum."

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

KLCI opens slightly lower in cautious trade

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 06:16 PM PDT

Published: Thursday April 18, 2013 MYT 9:17:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's key stock index, the FBM KLCI fell in early trade on Thursday on profit taking, mirroring the cautious regional markets and after the overnight fall on Wall Street.

At 9am, the KLCI was down 0.58 of a point to 1,719.39, after closing at a record high of 1,710.9 on Wednesday. Turnover was 8.62 million shares valued at RM8.27mil. There were 46 gainers, 52 losers and 65 counters unchanged.

BIMB Securities Research said despite the sell-down on equities in the US and Europe, the local bourse might find some support from the buying momentum although the index may find it hard to proceed further.

"Therefore, we expect the market to consolidate at current level with 1,700 as the psychological support," it said in its market outlook.

Genting Plantations fell 20 sen to RM8.70 with 100 shares done, UMW 10 sen to RM13.40 and IOI Corp seven sen lower at RM5.05 while Genting Malaysia shed four sen to RM3.73. Gamuda was down six sen to RM4.12 and Astro four sen to RM2.86.

Among the consumer stocks, GAB and Nestle lost eight sen each to RM17.70 and RM61.46. Glove maker Top Glove shed six sen to RM6.63 after the strong run-up on Wednesday.

Konsortium gained seven sen to RM1 and Catcha five sen to 48.5 sen while TM added three sen to RM5.53. Among the finance and banking stocks, MBSB gained six sen to RM2.75, MBSB-WA five sen to RM1.72 and AmBank three sen to RM6.53.


MISC under selling pressure

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 06:08 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: MISC Bhd, which is the subject of a takeover bid by its parent company, saw some selling pressure at below the RM5.50 buyout price, leading to opportunistic investors punting on the stock.

As a result, a whopping 17.09 million shares changed hands at prices ranging from RM5.30 to RM5.46. The counter closed at RM5.37, 1.8% below the RM5.50 price.

Still, investors buying MISC shares were aware of the risk of buying below the buyout price.

"It isn't clear why there's so much selling going on," said one investor, who picked up some four million MISC shares at prices between RM5.36 and RM5.40 individually.

Another investor said that this was an easy wager to make. "If indeed the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) decision is the decisive stroke, then surely this deal would be done at RM5.50. You have a 10-sen difference here, which is about a 1.8% return."

These investors are, therefore, puzzled as to why some shareholders were dumping the stock. To be noted is the fact that the offer expires this Friday.

To recap, on April 11, the EPF, which held the largest minority block at 9.5% in MISC, had accepted Petroliam Nasional Bhd's (Petronas) revised offer of RM5.50.

The national oil company had raised the offer by 20 sen from the original RM5.30 made at end-January, following resistance from the EPF, which had held out for a higher price.

With the EPF's acceptance, Petronas' total shareholding in MISC now stood at 79.77% short of another 10.2% equity interest to touch the required 90% shareholding level for the offer to become unconditional.

Although the EPF has given its support to the deal, there is an off chance that other minority shareholders could rally together to fight for a higher price. MISC's second-largest minority group after the EPF is Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), which has a 6.35% equity interest via its various unit trusts.

In the event PNB does not support the deal and had the support of at least another 3.85% of minority shareholders, then the deal could, theoretically, fail.

However, some investment bankers rule this out and reckon that the Government-linked fund would eventually support the deal. It is noteworthy that PNB has not come out to say how it viewed the MISC buyout offer, even after it had been revised.

MISC's other minority shareholders are the Penang Development Corp and Pacific Mutual Fund Bhd, which hold a 1.3% and 0.09% interest, respectively. They had also previously said that Petronas' offer undervalued the company.


CPI up on increase in food and non-alcoholic beverages index

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 06:04 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Prices for March as measured by the consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.6% to 106.2 compared with a year ago mainly due to a 3.3% increase in the food and non-alcoholic beverages index.

For the January to March period, the index was up 1.5% to 106.1 on year-on-year basis while compared with February, the index increased by 0.1%.

"The index for food and non-alcoholic beverages and non-food for the month of March 2013 showed increases of 3.3% and 1% respectively as compared to the same month in 2012.

"For the period January to March 2013, the index for food and non-alcoholic beverages and non-food increased by 2.9% and 1% respectively," the Statistics Department said in a statement.

"Compared with the previous month, the index for non-food increased by 0.2% while the index for food and non-alcoholic beverages remained unchanged at 110.2."

Other notable increases among these main groups with high weights were housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels at 1.3% and transport at 0.6%.

Alliance Research chief economist Manokaran Mottain said in a report that inflationary pressures would be edging up further, moving forward, due to an anticipated recovery in global prices of selected commodities and in view of the impending subsidy rationalisation programme, which would likely be imposed after the general election.

"We maintain our forecast on inflation at 2.5% in 2013, still remaining under control," he said, adding that Bank Negara had made assumptions for this year's inflation on US$100 per barrel for crude oil and RM2,500 per tonne for crude palm oil.

Manokaran said given the low risk of inflation to recovery, the central bank would have more room to keep the country's benchmark overnight policy rate at 3% this year.


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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

GE13: PAS’ Nik Aziz and son will seek re-election in Kelantan

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 09:43 AM PDT

MACHANG: Kelantan PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and his son Nik Abduh will be contesting in the general election.

Kelantan PAS deputy commissioner III Datuk Mohd Amar Abdullah made the announcement at the district council field here on Wednesday night, saying that PAS would field 16 new faces for the parliamentary and state seats.

The octogenarian Nik Abdul Aziz will defend his seat in Chempaka for the fifth time while Nik Abduh will be fielded in the Pasir Mas parliamentary seat.

However, Mohd Amar said the candidates for the two state seats allotted to PKR - Guchil (Kuala Krai) and Paloh (Gua Musang) would be announced later.

GE13: Malacca – Yeo threatens to withdraw if Lim continues interfering with DAP candidates list

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 08:38 AM PDT

MALACCA: Damien Yeo has threatened to pull out from the elections if DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng continues to meddle in the state's candidates list.

Yeo, the DAP candidate for the Alor Gajah parliamentary seat, said in a Facebook posting Wednesday night that he would withdraw from the race if Lim does not respect Malacca DAP chairman Goh Leong San's decision on the candidates.

Yeo is slated to face Koh Nai Kwong from the MCA.

It was also learnt that Goh has threatened to pull out all his candidates if no consensus is reached on the stalemate in the next few days.

The issue on the seat began after Betty Chew Gek Heng decided not to re-contest the Kota Laksamana seat.

The Malacca DAP submitted the names of three female candidates - Teoh Beng Hock's sister Lee Lan, Kuek Teng Ling and Chong May Lee - but all were rejected by Lim.

When the state DAP announced its list, the candidate's name for the Kota Laksamana seat was left out.

State DAP publicity chief and Ayer Keroh assemblyman Khoo Poay Tiong was absent during the announcement, fuelling speculation that there was a disagreement between the Malacca DAP and Lim over the choice of candidates.

It is no secret that there are two factions in Malacca DAP, one is aligned to Lim and the other to Chew.

It was learnt that Lim had lobbied for Dr Wong Ho Peng to be slotted for the seat vacated by Chew.

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

Barking dogs save mother and daughter from fiery death

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 08:30 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: A mother and daughter narrowly escaped a fiery death when they were alerted to a fire in their single-storey wooden house in Jalan Kepong by the barking of dogs.

The 10.30am incident razed the house to the ground and also destroyed a furniture store nearby, said Jinjang Fire and Rescue Station operations chief Zainal Abidin Mukri.

"Four fire engines with 35 firemen from the Jinjang, Hang Tuah, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Chow Kit stations rushed to the scene and the fire was brought under control in 10 minutes," he told reporters at the scene.

He said the cause of the fire and losses were still being investigated.

Fire victim Anna Chiew, 45, said she was in the house with her 15-year-old daughter when they heard dogs barking.

"I saw the back of my house on fire, and we dashed out to save ourselves just in time," she said.

Chiew said the other five members of her family were not at home when the fire occurred.

The housewife estimated her family's losses at RM70,000 and claimed the fire was caused by open burning of rubbish. - Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Bollywood star Dutt ordered to jail in four weeks

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 01:05 AM PDT

NEW DELHI: India's top court on Wednesday granted Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt four weeks of freedom before he must return to prison for firearms offences, but refused him more time to meet filming commitments.

Dutt, who was convicted for possessing arms supplied by the plotters of deadly blasts in Mumbai in 1993, had appealed on humanitarian grounds for another six months of freedom because of his on-set commitments.

In a ruling by the Supreme Court, a two-judge bench said they were "not inclined to extend the time" by the six months Dutt had requested.

The muscular, tattooed 53-year-old was freed on bail in 2007 after serving 18 months of a five-year sentence and was allowed his liberty while appealing his conviction.

But last month the Supreme Court ruled he must return to jail by April 18 to serve the remainder of his sentence for the possession of firearms supplied by gangland bosses who staged the string of bombings that killed 257 people in Mumbai.

At an emotional press conference last month, Dutt, whose late parents were two of India's biggest film stars, said he would accept his fate and surrender to prison authorities before his deadline.

He tearfully said at the time: "I am a shattered man, my family is shattered. These are tough times in my life."

The actor, whose mother was Muslim and whose father was Hindu, was acquitted in 2007 of conspiracy charges over the blasts staged by Mumbai's criminal world.

The bombings across the city were seen as retaliation for religious rioting in which mainly Muslims died following the razing of an ancient mosque.

Despite the acquittal Dutt was found guilty of possession of an automatic rifle and a pistol, which he insisted were only meant to protect his family amid the highly charged atmosphere in Mumbai following the mosque's destruction.

Analysts estimate there are some 2.5 billion rupees ($45 million) riding on Dutt in Bollywood, with four or five films in the pipeline.-AFP

Kate Upton in talks for 'The Other Woman'

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 12:55 AM PDT

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that American model and actress Kate Upton (Tower Heist, The Three Stooges) will team up with Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann against Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in The Other Woman, a comedy about adultery.

On discovering that she is a mistress in The Other Woman, Cameron Diaz's character will decide to join forces with the duped wife (Leslie Mann). The two women will then get back at the unfaithful husband (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).

Kate Upton (pic) will play one of the unfaithful husband's other mistresses. Her character will decide to take part in the plan hatched by the two other women.

Director Nick Cassavetes (Alpha Dog) is expected to start filming in New York before the summer using a screenplay by young screenwriter Melissa Stack.


Stanley Tucci joins 'Transformers 4'

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 12:22 AM PDT

Director Michael Bay announced during CinemaCon in Las Vegas that Stanley Tucci (pic) is on board for Transformers 4.

He also promised that he would soon reveal the name of a new actor joining the cast.

The part planned for Stanley Tucci (Hunger Games) is still a secret, just like the plot of this fourth installment.

Transformers 4 (an official title has yet to be revealed) will fall somewhere between a sequel and a reboot. It will kick off a new trilogy in keeping with the plan established by Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures.

This fourth movie should be darker than the previous three starring Shia LaBeouf.

Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz will also feature in this movie, which is set to begin rolling out internationally in late June 2014.

Michael Bay is expected to start filming in early May in Detroit and China.


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Rosmah: Another 28 Permata- Kemas kindergartens to be set up

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 06:29 AM PDT

A TOTAL of 28 more Permata-Kemas kindergartens will be opened this year, said the Prime Minister's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Rosmah, who is also Permata Negara patron, said the kindergartens, a collaboration between Permata and the Community Development Department (Kemas), will add to the 354 existing Permata-Kemas kindergartens nationwide.

The Permata Negara programme, which was set up by Rosmah in 2007, was specially formulated using the "learning is fun" concept to nurture the optimal potential of children aged below five.

It was also tailored specially for children living in rural areas or whose parents earn less than RM2,000 a month.

"The kindergartens, and 665 other child-learning centres opened by Permata since 2007 and located all over the country, have benefitted more than 22,500 children nationwide," she said in her speech during a meet-and-greet session held at Sekolah Kebangsaan Ampang Campuran yesterday.

The event was also attended by more than 500 children from kindergartens and child-learning centres in the area, along with their parents.

Rosmah lauded the school for its special needs class, which currently has two specially-trained teachers and 21 children with learning disabilities.

"With the opening of the autistic centre under the Permata Kurnia programme, I hope to see more children with special needs having their untapped potential nurtured.

"This is because even though they are disabled, many of them have special talents in specific areas such as music or painting," she said, before visiting the school's special needs and pre-school classes.

Last week, Rosmah announced that work on a RM28mil autistic learning centre in Jalan Sentul would begin by August this year, and it is expected to be completed next year.

Metro watch

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 06:27 AM PDT


TOLL Plaza A on LDP (Sunway to Puchong bound) will be closed from 6am to 10am from today until April 19. For details, call 03-7494 7333.


KUALA Lumpur and Selangor Self-Realisation Society is having an introduction to Kriya Yoga and a video screening on the life of Paramahansa Yogananda at 17-4, Jalan 1/114, Kuchai Business Centre, off Jalan Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur on April 20, from 3pm to 5pm. To RSVP, send an SMS to 012-385 0267 / 016-535 7335 or visit www.klsrf.net or www.facebook.com/KLSelangorSRF


PRANIC Healing Centre Malaysia is having a free preview on Pranic Healing on April 19 at 7pm at the Centre For Prana Yoga and Self Transformation, Zenith Corporate Park, Block D, Unit 41-1, Jalan SS7/26, Kelana Jaya. For reservations, call 012-974 2028 / 03-7887 1028 or visit www.pranichealingmalaysia.org


FIVE top speakers from 25 clubs will be delivering world-class speeches at Division E International Speech and Table Topics Contest hosted by Open University Malaysia (OUM) Toastmasters Club at Theatrette, OUM, Jalan Tun Ismail, Kuala Lumpur on April 20, 1pm. Admission is free. For details, call 013-308 4321 (Robert) or 012-673 8674 (Odett).


THE Mines Shopping Mall is organising 'My Mum, Our Story' contest. Participants are invited to share an interesting story of them and their mothers. It is open to contestants aged 18 years and above. Deadline is May 4. For details, call 03-8949 6333 or visit www.facebook.com/theminesshoppingmall


STYLIST Winnie Loo will be having a talk titled 'Beauty and The Best' at Sunway Mas Community Centre, Jalan PJU 1/3G, Pusat Dagangan Sunway Mas, Petaling Jaya on April 27, at 9.30am. Admission is free. Register by April 22 by calling 012-707 2095 (Deborah) or email to smcc.community@gmail.com.


GGP Grief Support Group are inviting grieving adults to come for meetings every Sunday from 2pm to 4pm from now until July 7 at 3rd floor, Bangunan Yin (SIBKL) Jalan Damansara, KL. Admission is free. To register, call 012-387 8668 or email to ggpoutreach@gmail.com.


THERE will be a Dhamma talk titled 'Dhamma is not upheld by talking about it but by living in harmony with it' on April 19 at 8pm, at the Buddhist Maha Vihara. For details, call 03-2274 1141 or visit www.buddhistmahavihara.com.

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The asthma-rhinitis connection

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 02:44 AM PDT

As asthma and rhinitis commonly co-exist, controlling allergic rhinitis can help a child with asthma manage her symptoms better.

HAS your child been sneezing repeatedly, and complaining about a runny or stuffy nose? Is this accompanied by itchy and teary eyes?

Watch out, because these symptoms could signal a condition other than a common cold. It could be rhinitis, where there is inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose, eyes, Eustachian tubes, middle ear, sinuses, and pharynx.

Allergic rhinitis is recognised as a global health problem, and it has the potential to cause significant debility.

Over the past 50 years, it has been shown that allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma often co-exist. Many children with the kind of asthma that is easily triggered by allergens are also prone to having rhinitis.

When these two conditions are present in the same individual, he or she is likely to suffer more severe asthma attacks and may need stronger medications to control their asthma.

One airway, one disease

Asthma is a risk factor for rhinitis. But asthma is also more commonly found in patients with rhinitis. Many studies have found that:

·70-90% of patients with asthma also have rhinitis.

·40-50% of patients with allergic rhinitis also have asthma.

A study that was conducted among 366 patients at four major hospitals around Malaysia found that 92% of patients with nasal symptoms also had allergic rhinitis.

This goes to show that allergic rhinitis is common in people suffering from respiratory problems.

So, if you have a child with asthma, pay close attention to how your child is feeling, and how it fluctuates, or if new symptoms appear from time to time.

Early diagnosis of rhinitis can give you and your child a headstart in taking steps to manage and cope. If proper treatment and management is administered, it is more likely that your child will be less affected by the debilitating effects that might affect her home, school and social life.

Control allergic rhinitis to control asthma

Controlling allergic rhinitis can help a person with asthma manage his symptoms. Allergic rhinitis can be classified as intermittent when the symptoms occur for less than four days in a week or lasts for less than four weeks, and persistent if the symptoms occur for more than four days a week and last for more than four weeks.

Some of the precautions you can take include:

Allergen avoidance

Learn how to avoid potential triggers that may set off a child's condition.

·Vacuum your home often to reduce the number of dust mites.

·Provide adequate ventilation to reduce humidity.

·Remove carpets, pets and stuffed toys from the bedroom.

·If you have a garden, consider planting low allergen plants.

·Keep windows closed at home and while riding in a car.

·Advise your child to stay indoors early in the morning, during windy days and after thunderstorms, as these are times when environmental allergens are usually at peak numbers.

·If you have furry pets, try to keep them outside the home or bathe them regularly.

·Eradicate cockroaches using appropriate gel-type, non-volatile insecticides.

·Encourage your child to shower right after they arrive home and clean their eyes with a wet washer.

·Tell your child to carry a supply of tissues wherever they go.


Generally, medications for rhinitis work by either blocking allergic responses or reducing the severity of inflammation.

·Antihistamines are the most frequently prescribed medication for treating allergies. It is the first-line treatment for mild allergic rhinitis, and is effective for sneezing, nasal itchiness and runny nose.

·Oral antihistamines can reduce itching and redness in the eyes.

·A doctor may prescribe decongestants to help relieve allergy symptoms.

·Children with persistent allergic rhinitis will require nasal corticosteroids. It is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It is effective in treating all nasal symptoms, which include nasal obstruction, and is safe to use in children.

Be mindful to observe and identify the specific allergens that tend to trigger asthmatic or rhinitis symptoms in your child and come up with ways to avoid them.

Rhinitis is a long-term condition, but by practising good control measures to manage the condition, it would increase the chances of your child being able to live a normal, active and productive life, without too much respiratory health problems. References:

1. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/tc/allergic-rhinitis-home-treatment

2. http://www.whiar.org/docs/ARIA-Report-2008.pdf

3. http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=18&cont=239

4. http://www.allergymsai.org/ article.php?aid=38

5. http://www.worldallergy.org/ public/allergic_diseases_center/caras/

6. http://www.allergyuk.org/allergic-rhinitis-in-children/allergic-rhinitis-in-children

7. http://www.medicinenet.com/asthma_complexities/page9.htm

8. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Rhinitis---allergic/Pages/Causes.aspx

9. http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_general_guidelines_treating_allergic_rhinitis_000077_7.htm

10. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/allergic- rhinitis/overview.html

Dr Norzila Mohamed Zainudin is a consultant paediatrician and paediatric respiratory physician. This article is courtesy of Positive Parenting Programme by the Malaysian Paediatric Association, supported by an educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline. The opinions expressed in the article are the views of the author. For further information, please visit www.mypositiveparenting.org. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Beetroot and green veg found to reduce blood pressure

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 11:56 PM PDT

A cup of beetroot juice a day, or a generous helping of green vegetables, may help lower blood pressure, a new British study finds.

The findings come from a small study of 15 men and women with high blood pressure, published in the journal Hypertension on April 15.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry found that people who drank 250 mL of nitrate-rich beetroot juice a day experienced blood pressure reductions of around 10 mm Hg. The reduction was highest around three to six hours after imbibing the beetroot juice, but the effect lasted 24 hours later.

While beetroots contain heart-healthy compounds like vitamins C and K, fibre and polyphenols, scientists say it's the high nitrate content that's likely responsible for the ability to reduce blood pressure.

Other nitrate-rich vegetables include lettuce, cabbage, and fennel, which researchers say are likely to have the same effect.

"I don't think anybody would have liked it if we'd juiced lettuce leaves and cabbage," lead researcher Amrita Ahluwalia told WebMD.

In prior research, scientists from Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, found that within hours of drinking beetroot juice, a group of healthy men saw their blood pressure drop by an average of four to five points. The study was published in December in Nutrition Journal. -- AFPRelaxnews

No health risks from taking too much vitamin E, study says

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 07:48 PM PDT

Despite prior concerns that too much vitamin E could be a health risk, a new scientific review finds this to not be the case.

Researchers from Oregon State University conclude that biological mechanisms exist to routinely eliminate excess levels of the vitamin, which makes it "almost impossible to take a harmful amount," they said on April 15.

"I believe that past studies which have alleged adverse consequences from vitamin E have misinterpreted the data," said lead researcher Maret Traber.

"Taking too much vitamin E is not the real concern," she said. "A much more important issue is that more than 90 percent of people in the US have inadequate levels of vitamin E in their diet."

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and a very important nutrient for proper function of many organs, nerves and muscles, and is also an anticoagulant that can reduce blood clotting.

You can find vitamin E in oils, meat, leafy greens, avocados, and nuts, but it is often consumed at inadequate dietary levels, especially with increasing emphasis on low-fat diets, the researchers noted.

In the review of how vitamin E is metabolised, researchers found that two major systems in the liver work to control the level of vitamin E in the body, and they routinely excrete excessive amounts. Very high intakes from supplementation only succeed in doubling the tissue levels of vitamin E, which is not harmful, they said.

"Toxic levels of vitamin E in the body simply do not occur," Traber said. "Unlike some other fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and D, it's not possible for toxic levels of vitamin E to accumulate in the liver or other tissues."

Vitamin E, because of its interaction with vitamin K, can cause some increase in bleeding, research has shown.

Findings of the new study were published in the Journal of Lipid Research. -- AFPRelaxnews

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