Isnin, 22 April 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Bye-bye Khloe, says The X Factor

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 09:28 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian will not be returning to The X Factor after just one season as co-host of the TV talent show.

Fox television on Monday announced that presenter and actor Mario Lopez would return for a second season but the statement made no mention of Kardashian.

An X Factor spokesman said Kardashian, 28, who with her California socialite sisters Kim and Kourtney rose to fame in Keeping Up With The Kardashians, would not be returning when the U.S. version of the singing competition returns in September.

"We really enjoyed working with her and wish her all the best in the future," the spokesman said.

Kardashian, one of the most popular faces on U.S. television, was brought in by X Factor creator Simon Cowell last year as part of a revamp that included the hiring of singers Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges after a disappointing first season in 2011.

A source close to the show said Kardashian, who had no previous experience as a TV host, was not asked to renew her contract.

Spears quit after one season and her replacement has yet to be named but Lovato will be back in September.

Kardashian married basketball player Lamar Odom in 2009, and the pair got their own spinoff show. She has more than 8 million followers on Twitter and has been in the news for several months over the couple's efforts to have a baby.

Lopez, a former actor, is the co-host of entertainment magazine show Extra and radio show On With Mario Lopez. He is also an author of several fitness books.

"I'm thrilled Mario is back for Season Three of The X Factor," Cowell said in a statement. "Hosting a live show and keeping the judges - especially Demi - in line, is not an easy job, but Mario is a pro and we are glad he's coming back."

Game Of Thrones returns to the small screen

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 09:11 PM PDT

Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin, Game Of Thrones is an epic story of treachery and nobility set on the continent of Westeros, where summers and winters can last years, and only the lust for power is eternal.

Just renewed for a fourth season, this Emmy and Golden Globe-winning HBO Original Series returned to Asia for its 10-episode third season on Saturday, 20 April at 9pm, exclusively on HBO (Astro Ch 411) and HBO HD (Astro Ch 431) with brand new episodes airing weekly at the same time.

At the end of season two, after the Battle of the Blackwater, the victors consolidate their power and rebuild King's Landing. But new challengers for the Iron Throne rise from the most unexpected places. Characters old and new must navigate the demands of family, honor, ambition, love and – above all – survival, as the Westeros civil war rages into autumn.

At the start of season three, the Lannisters hold absolute dominion over King's Landing after repelling Stannis Baratheon's forces. Yet Robb Stark, King in the North, still controls much of the South as well, and has yet to lose a battle. In the Far North, Mance Rayder has united the wildlings into the largest army Westeros has ever seen.

Only the Night's Watch stands between him and the Seven Kingdoms, but nobody knows what happened to its Lord Commander and the force he led beyond the Wall. And across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen – reunited with her three growing dragons – ventures into Slaver's Bay in search of ships to take her home and allies to conquer it.

Returning series regulars this season include Emmy and Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) John Bradley (Samwell Tarly) and Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth).

Recently we had a chat with Gwendoline Christie about her character and some of the the challenges she faces shooting this award-winning TV series

In the show you wear heavy armour. It must be physically demanding. How does it feel wearing that and getting through a scene, or have you just gotten used to it?

I don't think I'll ever quite get used to it. By the end of the filming period, you tend to have a bit more resistance, but I do quite a lot of physical training in order to not only portray the character with as much reality as possible, but also there's a kind of resistance that you need to the elements around you when you're filming.

The armour is really heavy. They've done what they can to make it as comfortable as possible but you have to have a lot of internal strength. Traditionally the men wearing armour were incredibly fit and strong. And it just encourages you to really find the reality of what Brienne of Tarth is having to go through in order to pursue her sense of honour.

Brienne is a character of few words, but of great authority.

She speaks with her actions. Brienne of Tarth is exclusively married to her moral code and her sense of honour. And I think that maybe that is something which isn't so prevalent today, but it's actually very exciting to get back in contact with as an actor and a person because it's something so alien from our everyday existence.

The story we hear is that there was a website that was pushing for you to be Brienne even before you considered the part. Is that true?

It's actually true. A friend of mine told me there was something on the Net about me being involved in a HBO show. I saw there were all these forums with thousands of fans and I realised how much they loved Brienne. It was all very exciting, but I also realised that more than ever I had a duty to portray her well because a lot of people were very passionate about her.

Did you know anything about this character?

As soon as I saw the part I started reading the books and I couldn't believe that it was a part that I had always wanted to play. I saw a lot in her character that scared me and it intrigued me more to want to play her.

If it were up to you, who would win the Game of Thrones?

I'd like the Daenerys to win the Iron Throne and then the whole Westeros would return to a kind of Eden-like environment. But that probably won't be the most interesting end.

Game Of Thrones shows every Saturday at 9pm on HBO (Astro Ch 411) and HBO HD (Astro Ch 431)


The Star Online: World Updates

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Japan nationalists near disputed isles, MPs visit shrine

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 07:27 PM PDT

EAST CHINA SEA (Reuters) - Japanese nationalists sailed a flotilla of boats on Tuesday in waters near islands at the centre of a row between China and Japan, putting further strain on Tokyo's tense ties with Beijing as a group of more than 160 Japanese lawmakers visited a shrine seen by critics a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

A group of lawmakers including Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker Hidehisa Otsuji (front 3rd L), Japan Restoration Party member Takeo Hiranuma (front L) and LDP member Sanae Takaichi (front 2nd L) are led by a shinto priest as they visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo

A group of lawmakers including Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker Hidehisa Otsuji (front 3rd L), Japan Restoration Party member Takeo Hiranuma (front L) and LDP member Sanae Takaichi (front 2nd L) are led by a shinto priest as they visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo

Last year members of the same right-wing group landed on one of the disputed islets and triggered anti-Japanese protests in China, where lingering bitterness over Japan's wartime aggression has been rekindled in recent days.

China blasted Tokyo for a lack of contrition over its past on Monday after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an offering and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and two other ministers visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours 14 leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal along with Japan's war dead.

South Korea's foreign minister cancelled a trip to Japan. Homage paid by leading Japanese politicians at the Tokyo shrine typically angers Japan's neighbours, who contend that it glorifies wartime atrocities.

"It is natural for lawmakers to worship at a shrine for people who died for the nation and every nation does this," Hidehisa Otsuji, a ruling Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) lawmaker who chairs the parliamentary group behind the visit, told a news conference. "I don't understand why we get a backlash."

A group of 169 lawmakers visited Yasukuni for its spring festival, more than double the usual number in recent years.

Aso also shrugged off the rebuke. "I first visited Yasukuni on April 28, 1953 and often went there ever since," Aso, who doubles as finance minister, told reporters.

"I go there two or three times every year and it's not something that should be taken up now. There's a reaction from overseas? But that's their reaction and I don't think it will much affect Japan's diplomatic relations with other countries."

A group led by LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura has cancelled a trip to China planned for early May, but said the move was not related to the Yasukuni visits.

Abe who has enjoyed sky-high popularity ratings of more than 70 percent since he took office in December and launched his "Abenomics" plan to boost growth and beat deflation with hyper-easy monetary policy, spending and structural reform.

The prime minister, who has said he regretted not visiting Yasukuni during his 2006-2007 term in office, has been walking a fine line between talking tough in the territorial row over the chain of rocky islets and leaving the door open for dialogue with Beijing.

Voters want Abe to put priority on fixing the economy rather than other issues close to Abe's heart, such as revising Japan's pacifist constitution, an opinion poll showed this week.


Japanese and Chinese patrol ships have been playing a cat-and-mouse game near the Japanese-controlled East China Sea islands, where China is seeking to assert its claim to sovereignty by sending ships into the disputed waters.

The flotilla of 10 boats carrying about 80 activists from the nationalist Ganbare Nippon ("Stand Firm, Japan") group sailed into waters around the islets early on Tuesday but then began to withdraw from the area on the orders of Japanese Coast Guard patrol ships, because Chinese government surveillance ships were nearby.

The Coast Guard, which had 13 ships shadowing the flotilla, said eight Chinese patrol ships had entered what Tokyo considers its territorial waters near the uninhabited isles, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

"The intrusion into territorial waters is extremely regrettable. In any case, the Senkaku islands are Japan's own territory without a doubt," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

"Japan strictly protests through diplomatic channels and demands they leave our waters swiftly."

Ganbare Nippon had said the purpose of their trip was to survey fishing grounds. Last August, about 10 activists from the group landed on one of the islets.

"This is all about asserting our ownership of the islands, going there to conduct a fishing survey to prove that Japanese fishermen can indeed make a living there," said group leader Satoru Mizushima.

Tit-for-tat landings by Chinese and Japanese nationalists last summer preceded a sharp flare-up in the dispute when Japan nationalised the islands in September, drawing angry rhetoric from Beijing and anti-Japanese demonstrations across China.

"If you encounter problems from Chinese vessels, please run away," Mizushima, a right-wing filmmaker, told activists at a briefing before the flotilla departed from Ishigaki, a Japanese island west of Okinawa, on Monday.

"Don't let them come on board, but try to avoid fighting or shouting insults. We want to show everyone that we are polite and upstanding Japanese citizens."

Japanese ships are allowed to sail to waters around the islets, but the Japanese government generally prohibits landing.

The waters around the islets are rich fishing grounds and also have potentially huge oil and gas reserves.

The territorial dispute has escalated in recent months to the point where China and Japan have scrambled fighter jets while patrol ships shadow each other, raising fears that an unintended collision could lead to a broader clash.

Ganbare Nippon is not officially affiliated with any political party, but its members have organised rallies to support Abe, who swept to power last December promising economic revival and a more assertive stance towards Japan's neighbours.

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Writing by Antoni Slodkowski and Linda Sieg; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Suspect charged in hospital with Boston Marathon bombing

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 06:38 PM PDT

BOSTON (Reuters) - Prosecutors formally charged Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the bombings at the Boston Marathon in a hearing held on Monday in his hospital room, accusing him of crimes that carry the possibility of the death penalty.

Officers embrace near the site of the explosion on Boylston Street after the FBI officially returned jurisdiction of the area over to the city in Boston, Massachusetts, April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Chitose Suzuki/Boston Herald/Pool

Officers embrace near the site of the explosion on Boylston Street after the FBI officially returned jurisdiction of the area over to the city in Boston, Massachusetts, April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Chitose Suzuki/Boston Herald/Pool

The 19-year-old ethnic Chechen can be seen in video taken by security cameras placing a backpack near the finish line of the world-renowned race last Monday, the criminal complaint said, alleging he acted in concert with his older brother, who was killed during a shootout with police early Friday.

The brothers carried two backpacks containing pressure cooker bombs that ripped through the crowd near the finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 200, the complaint said. Ten people lost limbs from the bombs packed with nails and ball bearings.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators in his hospital room that he and his brother acted alone, without any help, according to reports by CNN and the New York Times. He said his older brother was the driving force behind the bombings, CNN reported. The Times said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev admitted to investigators to being involved in planting the bombs. These reports could not be independently confirmed.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured late Friday after a massive manhunt. He was hospitalized with what the criminal complaint said were gunshot wounds to his head, neck, legs and hand.

The charges came one week after the bombings, as Boston slowly returned to normal, but a fresh security scare arose as Canadian police said they had thwarted an "al Qaeda-supported" plot to derail a passenger train.

U.S. officials said the attack would have targeted a rail line between New York and Toronto, although Canadian police said only that the plot involved a train route in the Toronto area.

Tsarnaev was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and with malicious destruction of property resulting in death. Each count carries the possibility of the death penalty if he is convicted.

More charges are likely, legal experts said.

The 10-page complaint drew from video and still images captured by security cameras, the media and the public at the race before and after the bombing. It did not mention a motive, leaving that as one of the mysteries of the investigation.

According to a transcript of the bedside legal proceeding, the teenager, mostly unable to speak due to his injuries, nodded when questioned by federal Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler, who asked him if he could answer questions and could follow what was happening. The judge also read him his constitutional rights.

Asked by the magistrate if he could afford a lawyer, Tsarnaev said "No." Three public defenders, appointed by the court, were in the room. They did not respond to requests seeking comment afterward.


A sworn FBI statement in support of the criminal complaint revealed the recollection of a man whose car was allegedly hijacked by the brothers while they tried to escape on Thursday night.

"Did you hear about the Boston explosion?" one of the brothers is said to have told the carjack victim. "I did that."

On Monday, Boston-area hospitals were still treating at least 48 people, with at least two listed in critical condition.

The complaint said that 30 seconds before the first explosion, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev started fidgeting with his cellphone. After the blast, virtually everyone around him turned toward the blast "in apparent bewilderment and alarm," while he appeared calm, it said.

He then left his backpack on the ground and walked away, the complaint said. About 10 seconds later the second explosion ripped through the crowd.

At 2:50 p.m. (1850 GMT) on Monday, the city paused to mark the moment a week earlier when the bombs exploded. A funeral was held for Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager who was killed in the bombings, as was a memorial service for another victim, Chinese graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23.

An 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, was also killed.

Police on Monday searched a parking area in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where an owner of an auto service business across the street said the Tsarnaevs' father used to work on cars.

Officials did not say what police were looking for.

Near the site of the bombings, Kevin Brown, a 59-year-old carpenter minding one of the many makeshift memorials to the victims, said he hoped Tsarnaev would be convicted and face the death penalty.

"His bomb was the second one which killed that little boy," he said. "He doesn't deserve to live."

Tsarnaev's capture capped a tense 26 hours after the FBI released the first pictures of the two bombing suspects, still unidentified, on Thursday.

Five hours after their faces appeared on TV screens and websites around the world, the brothers shot and killed a university policeman, carjacked a Mercedes and sought to evade police by hurling bombs during a shootout in a Boston suburb, police said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot in an exchange of gunfire with police and run over by his younger brother, police said. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev later abandoned the car and fled on foot, evading police for nearly 20 more hours until he was found hiding and bleeding in a boat.


"Although our investigation is ongoing, today's charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston, and for our country," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

In choosing the civilian justice system, U.S. authorities opted against treating Tsarnaev, a naturalized U.S. citizen, as an enemy combatant.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a legal U.S. resident, visited relatives in the volatile region of Chechnya for two days during his six-month trip out of the United States last year, his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva and aunt, Patimat Suleimanova, told Reuters in Dagestan on Monday.

U.S. authorities were investigating whether he became radicalized and if he was involved with or was influenced by Chechen separatists or Islamist extremists there.

That trip, combined with Russian interest in Tamerlan Tsarnaev communicated to U.S. authorities and an FBI interview of him in 2011, have raised questions whether danger signals were missed.

U.S. lawmakers planned to question senior security officials this week about whether the FBI mishandled information on the elder brother, who was flagged by Russia as a possible Islamist radical.

The Tsarnaev brothers emigrated to the United States a decade ago from Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim region in Russia's Caucasus. Their parents, who moved back to southern Russia some time ago, have said their sons were framed.

The elder brother twice disrupted sermons to challenge views expressed by preachers leading services at a Cambridge mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston said on Monday.

But neither brother "expressed any hint of violent sentiments or behaviour," the group said in a statement. "If they had, the FBI would have immediately been called."

Neither was a member or regular attendee of the Cambridge mosque, it said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was married, and a crowd of reporters and photographers gathered on Monday outside the home of his wife in North Kingston, Rhode Island. Several family members came and went without making any comment.

(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Makhachkala and Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Tim McLaughlin, Scott Malone and Samuel P. Jacobs in Boston; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Frances Kerry and Eric Beech)

Related Stories:
What next for Boston bombing suspect?

Boston Islamic Society confirms outbursts by bombing suspect
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Timeline - Lives of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 2006-2013
Factbox - Charges filed against Boston Marathon bombing suspect

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Canada thwarts "al Qaeda-supported" passenger train plot

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 06:30 PM PDT

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian police said on Monday they had arrested and charged two men with plotting to derail a Toronto-area passenger train in an operation they say was backed by al Qaeda elements in Iran.

A Via Rail Canada passenger train pulls into Dorval Station in Montreal, in this July 22, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Shaun Best/Files

A Via Rail Canada passenger train pulls into Dorval Station in Montreal, in this July 22, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Shaun Best/Files

"Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured," Royal Canadian Mounted Police official James Malizia told reporters.

The RCMP said it had arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto in connection with the plot, which authorities said was not linked to last week's Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three and injured more than 200 people last week.

Neither is a Canadian citizen, and police did not reveal their nationalities. Two sources following the investigation said one of the two was Tunisian.

Canada's spy agency has long expressed concern about the possibility that disgruntled and radicalized Canadians could attack targets at home and abroad.

Police gave little detail about the alleged plotters, but said a tip from the Muslim community had helped their year-long investigation.

Esseghaier has been a doctoral student at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique near Montreal since 2010 and was about midway through his degree, the school said.

"He is doing a PhD in the field of energy and materials sciences," Julie Martineau, the school's director of communications, told Reuters.

A bail hearing for the two will take place in Toronto on Tuesday morning.

Malizia said there was no indication that the planned attacks, which police described as the first known al Qaeda- backed plot on Canadian soil, were state-sponsored.

U.S. officials said the attack would have targeted a rail line between New York and Toronto, a route that travels along the Hudson Valley into New York wine country and enters Canada near Niagara Falls.

Canadian police said only that the plot involved a VIA train route in the Toronto area. VIA is Canada's equivalent of Amtrak and operates passenger rail services on track owned primarily by Canadian National Railway Co.

New York Police chief spokesman Paul Browne told Reuters that the NYPD and Commissioner Ray Kelly had been kept informed of the investigation from "early on."


Malizia said the RCMP believed the two had the capacity and intent to carry out the attack, but there was no imminent threat to the public, passengers, or infrastructure.

The plot is one of a handful of terrorism-related investigations involving Canadians or Canadian residents.

Police said earlier this year that Canadians took part in an attack by militants on a gas plant in Algeria in January, while Canadian and Somalia authorities are investigating whether a former University of Toronto student participated in a bomb attack on Mogadishu last week.

And in 2006, police arrested and charged nearly 20 Toronto-area men accused of planning to plant bombs at various Canadian targets. Eleven were eventually convicted.

"Today's arrests demonstrate that terrorism continues to be a real threat to Canada," Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters in Ottawa.

"Canada will not tolerate terrorist activity and we will not be used as a safe haven for terrorists or those who support terrorist activities."


The Canadian authorities linked the two to al Qaeda factions in Iran, to the surprise of some security experts.

"The individuals were receiving support from al Qaeda elements located in Iran," Malizia said.

Iran did host some senior al Qaeda figures under a form of house arrest in the years following the September 11 attacks, but there has been little to no evidence to date of joint attempts to execute violence against the West.

However, a U.S. government source said Iran is home to a little-known network of alleged al Qaeda fixers and "facilitators" based in the Iranian city of Zahedan, very close to Iran's borders with both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The source said the operatives serve as go-betweens, travel agents and financial intermediaries for al Qaeda operatives and cells operating in Pakistan and moving through the area.

They do not operate under the protection of the Iranian government, which has a generally hostile attitude towards Sunni al Qaeda militants, and which periodically launches crackdowns on the al Qaeda elements, though at other times appears to turn a blind eye to them.

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Louise Egan in Ottawa; writing by Cameron French; editing by Janet Guttsman, Mary Milliken, Eric Walsh and Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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League champs KLHC now aiming for fifth double

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 04:38 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) will turn their attention to winning their fifth double after picking up the Premier Division crown in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

The star-studded side, previously known as Ernst and Young, swept to their eighth straight league title with two matches to spare when they defeated Maybank 4-2 in Penang on Sunday.

KLHC led by national player and veteran Chua Boon Huat have 28 points after 10 matches in the seven-team league, nine more than second-placed Maybank. Tenaga Nasional are third on 18 points.

Said KLHC team manager George Koshy: "We are a little lucky to win the league title this time. The matches are getting tougher to win and all the teams have strength in depth. It is just unfortunate that they dropped points to allow us to wrap up the title earlier than expected."

He added that KLHC, the 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 double champions, would use the remaining matches to iron out the flaws in the team.

"Our game is not perfect yet. There are many areas where work is needed. So it is important that we pay more attention to these areas and use the matches as a stepping stone for the overall title," said Koshy.

Being the Premier Division champions, KLHC have been given a bye in the quarter-finals. The second-placed team will also proceed to the semi-finals.

Joining KLHC in the knockout stage from the Premier Division are Maybank, Tenaga, Sapura, Universiti Kuala Lumpur and Terengganu.

The focus this weekend will be on the battle for second place between Maybank and Tenaga. There is also an interesting battle at the other end of the table. Fourth-placed Sapura (14 points), fifth-placed Terengganu (10) and sixth-placed UniKL (10) are the teams involved in avoiding the drop to Division One.

Bottom side Nur Insafi, with only a point, will play in Division One next season.

Malaysia to rev up with China friendly and South Africa tour

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 03:27 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: A five-match series with China in Kuala Lumpur and a tour of South Africa will be the final phase of preparation for the national hockey team prior to the FIH World League semi-final in Johor Baru from June 29-July 9.

The World League semi-final, involving eight teams, is a qualifier for next year's World Cup.

World No. 1 Germany, England, South Korea, Pakistan and Malaysia have already confirmed their places. Three more teams will be finalised after the second round of the World League in early June.

The national team will only resume their training after the final of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) which is slated for May 19.

The team will go to Johor Baru for a three day-stint once the training squad have been named.

Said national coach Paul Revington: "The matches with China will be held from May 21 until the end of the month.

"We hope to go off to Johannesburg on June 3. There are no other matches lined-up as I feel these matches will be sufficient for our purpose."

Revington has been watching almost all the MHL matches to select the best available players. Last week, he held a training session for 15 players.

He hopes to bring in more players for the second session next week.

Besides the World League semi-final, the team are also preparing for the Asia Cup in Ipoh in August.

The Asia Cup is also a World Cup qualifier with the champions gaining an automatic berth.

If Malaysia fail to get among the top four in Johor Baru, then they must aim to win the Asia Cup.

Otherwise, they will miss another World Cup. Malaysia last featured in the World Cup in 2002. Then, they were automatic qualifiers by virtue of being the host nation.

Coach Yang admits Pandelela must improve in future meets

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 04:50 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's Pandelela Rinong was given a timely reality check after a dismal performance in the individual 10m platform final of the FINA Diving World Series in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Sunday.

The London Olympic bronze medallist was unable to repeat the consistency she showed in the semi-final. As a result, she plunged to the bottom of the six-woman final in the series' third leg.

The 20-year-old Bidayuh lass was looking good for a medal finish given her comfortable semi-final win and the absence of world and Olympic champion Chen Ruolin. But Pandelela, who won a bronze in the opening leg in Beijing last month, started on the wrong foot. She made two poor dives that earned her only 61.50 and 63.80 points. From there onwards, it was obvious that the podium was out of her reach.

She garnered 73.60 in the third dive but flopped again in the fourth with a disastrous 59.20.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist signed off with a 72.00 for a 330.10 total.

China, the world's diving superpower, picked up the gold through 14-year-old Si Yajie. The world junior champion was a runaway winner, accumulating 405.60 points.

Compatriot Liu Huixia took the silver with a 374.50 total while Mexican Alejandra Orozco chalked up 367.45 points for the bronze.

Said Malaysian head coach Yang Zhuliang: "Pandelela did not do badly, it is just that the standard of competition is high at the World Series. It is a good wake-up call. Now she needs to work a lot harder on her consistency ahead of the World Championships in Barcelona in July."

Nevertheless, it was still a good outing for Malaysia with Pandelela-Leong Mun Yee winning the silver in the 10m platform synchro and a bronze through Cheong Jun Hoong-Wendy Ng Yan Yee in the 3m springboard synchro.

The medal won by Jun Hoong-Wendy was Malaysia's first in the discipline at a world-level competition.

The Malaysian squad will head for Moscow tomorrow for this weekend's fourth leg. The last two legs will be in Guadalajara (May 17-19) and Mexico City (May 24-26).


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Plantations lead decliners on weaker CPO outlook

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 07:15 PM PDT

Published: Tuesday April 23, 2013 MYT 10:16:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of plantation stocks fell in early trade on Tuesday after the weaker crude palm oil (CPO) prices dampened investors' sentiment.

At 10am, the FBM KLCI was down 5.93 points to 1,700.75. Turnover was 100.57 million shares valued at RM134mil. There were 96 gainers, 198 losers and 206 counters unchanged.

KL Kepong fell the most, down 32 sen to RM21.32, Sarawak Oil Palms fell 20 sen to RM5.50 while Far East was down eight sen to RM7.80.

On Monday, CPO for third month delivery closed at RM2,255 per tonne, the lowest since mid-December 2012.

Reuters reported the volatility in commodities markets overall and losses in soybeans weighed, with investors also wary ahead of slowing export demand.

Exports of Malaysian palm oil products for April 1-20 fell 6.4% to 864,206 tonnes from 922,987 tonnes shipped during March 1-20, cargo surveyor Societe Generale de Surveillance said on Monday.


Malaysia's KLCI falls in early trade, MISC rebounds

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 06:44 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips fell in early trade on Tuesday but managed to stay above the key 1,700 level as investors stayed on the sidelines.

At 9.26am, the FBM KLCI was down 2.39 points to 1,704.29. Turnover was 47.57 million shares valued at RM57.69mil. There were 105 gainers, 96 losers and 134 counters unchanged.

Maybank KE Research said the KLCI's resistance levels of 1,706 and 1,716 would cap market gains, whilst obvious support areas were at 1,688 and 1,702.

Reuters reported Asian shares steadied on Tuesday, supported by overnight gains in global equities, but were capped ahead of China's first economic report for the second quarter due later in the session.

News overnight of weaker-than-expected U.S. existing home sales added to worries over the growth prospects of growth in the U.S. economy, focusing even more scrutiny on the China data.

At Bursa Malaysia, BAT fell 14 sen to RM62.36, MMHE five sen to RM3.92 while RHB Cap shed three sen to RM8.40 and RHBCap-HB was down nine sen to six sen.

SOP was the top loser, sliding 25 sen to RM5.45.

Destini was the most active, with 9.21 million shares done, adding one sen to 36.5 sen after it was removed from the Practice Note 17.

MISC managed to stage a mild rebound, up six sen to RM4.63 in active trade after the selldown on Monday seemed to have eased.

Maybank rose two sen to RM9.79 in active trade while UMW gained 10 sen to RM13.50.


M’sian firms urged to venture into Latin America, Caribbean

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 06:20 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) is urging Malaysian companies with strong business linkages with China to explore partnership options with their Chinese partners to venture into Latin American countries and the Caribbean.

In a statement yesterday, Matrade said the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) had last month announced a China Co-financing Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean, another initiative by China to increase bilateral trade with these two regions.

It said the fund, aimed at supporting public and private sector projects that promote sustainable economic growth in the region, was the first of its kind established by China and a multilateral development bank.

"The proposed US$2bil (RM6.09bil) contribution by China would be used to co-finance a total of up to US$500mil of IDB public-sector loans and up to US$1.5bil for loans made by the bank to private-sector entities," it said.

It said prior to this fund, the IDB had approved US$153mil in loans for the establishment of a new equity investment platform for Latin America and the Caribbean in partnership with the Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM).

"This platform is expected to mobilise as much as US$1.8bil from a diversified pool of investors, including Chinese investors, to fund equity investments that would support economic and financial integration between Latin America, the Caribbean and China," it said.

According to Malaysia's Trade Commissioner in Mexico, Remee Yaakub, China became a member of the IDB, the largest regional development bank and the main source of multilateral finance for the Latin America and Caribbean region, in January 2009. He said China was among the 22 non-borrowing members of IDB together with the United States, Canada, Japan, Israel, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China and 16 European countries that included France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. "Non-borrowing members benefit from the procurement standpoint in that only suppliers from member states could provide goods and services for IDB-financed projects," he said.

Trade between China and Latin America has increased at an annual average rate of 25% since 2000, reaching an estimated US$236bil in 2011. The southern Latin countries, together with Peru and Venezuela, have enjoyed booming exports to China, with Brazil, Chile and Peru registering bilateral trade surpluses. — Bernama



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Keanu Reeves joins 'Passengers'

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 12:30 AM PDT has revealed that Keanu Reeves will play the lead in Passengers, the first foray into cinema for TV director Brian Kirk (Game Of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire).

Passengers will be set in a spaceship carrying thousands of people in a cryogenic sleep on its way to a faraway planet.

Because of a technical problem, one of the passengers, played by Reeves, wakes up 90 years earlier than everyone else. As he is afraid of dying alone, he wakes up another traveler, which lead love to blossom.

The screenplay of the sci-fi romance will be written by Jon Spaihts, who worked on Ridley Scott's Prometheus. No actress has yet been attached to the lead female role.

Passengers will be at the next Cannes film market.


'Life Of Pi' star Suraj Sharma set for 'Million Dollar Arm'

Posted: 21 Apr 2013 11:59 PM PDT

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Indian actor Suraj Sharma has been chosen to star opposite Jon Hamm (Mad Men) in a movie about baseball.

Hamm, who is known for playing ad man Don Draper in Mad Men, will play a sports agent on the lookout for new baseball talent in this Disney movie.

To find a new star player, he will head to India, where sports culture is more geared towards cricket. When he realizes how similar the two sports are, the agent will decide to recruit his future stars through a reality TV program, Million Dollar Arm.

His two 19-year-old protégés, Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, will become the first Indian players to join the American professional league. However, this radical change will entail some difficulties. Sharma, the hero of the 2013 Oscar-winning Life Of Pi, will play one of the two young Indian players.

The movie will be directed by Craig Gillespie (Fright Night, United States Of Tara). Filming on this movie, which is based on the true story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein, will start in India and Atlanta in May. The screenplay was written by Tom McCarthy (Up).


'Oblivion' obliterates box office rivals

Posted: 21 Apr 2013 09:35 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: "Oblivion," a post-apocalyptic action flick starring Tom Cruise, obliterated the competition in its debut this weekend, taking in about $38.2 million, industry estimates showed Sunday.

The film earned more than a third of this weekend's box office revenue - about 37.41 percent of ticket sales, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations - as it jettisoned last week's winner "42" from the top spot.

"42," a biopic about trailblazing black baseball star Jackie Robinson, which stars Harrison Ford as the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who signed him, this week came in second place, with $18 million in ticket sales.

Stone-age cartoon "The Croods," from DreamWorks Animation, was third with $9.5 million, followed by "Scary Movie 5," the latest installment in the slasher-comedy franchise, which earned $6.3 million.

Action sequel "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," was fifth, with $5.8 million.

In sixth place was "The Place Beyond the Pines," starring Oscar nominees Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, which earned $4.7 million.

Action thriller "Olympus Has Fallen," in which terrorists capture the White House and hold the president hostage, was in seventh place with $4.5 million.

"Evil Dead" - a reinvention of Sam Raimi's cult 1981 film about a group of friends hunted by demons in the woods - came in eighth with $4.1 million.

The 3D re-release of Steven Spielberg's 1993 dinosaur classic "Jurassic Park" took in $1.7 million for ninth place.

Rounding out the top 10 was Walt Disney's 3D fantasy adventure flick "Oz the Great and Powerful," which this weekend earned $3 million for a seven-week total of $224 million. - AFP


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GE13: EC enforcement team to take down defamatory banners

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 10:03 AM PDT

IPOH: Campaign material found to be defamatory will be taken down by Election Campaign Enforcement Teams set up in every constituency, said Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof.

"If there is a report lodged by the public about any posters or banners defaming or tarnishing the image of the contesting candidates, the team will convene a meeting and decide whether or not the posters and banners should be taken down.

"Any campaign material which does not display the names of publisher or printer will definitely be taken down," he told a press conference after visiting the Perak EC office here Monday.

He said the team would monitor all materials put up during the campaign period.

Abdul Aziz said the team comprised a chief appointed by the EC, a police inspector, representatives of the local authority and representatives of each party contesting in the constituency. - Bernama

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

GE13: Muhyiddin assures Chinese of continued political and economic policies

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 08:06 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has urged the Chinese to continue supporting Barisan Nasional for political stability and economic growth.

The Barisan Nasional deputy chairman said Barisan has proven to be capable of achieving stability through the implementation of policies, including pro-business ones.

"We give the assurance that we will continue with the same policies and implement even better ones if BN is still in power after the general election," he told a ceramah organised by Bandar Tun Razak MCA in Taman Connaught here.

"We as the government is aware that the Chinese are very concerned about political and economic stability and we will never neglect these aspects," he said.

Present was Tan Kok Eng, MCA's candidate for the parliamentary seat, and Bandar Tun Razak BN coordinator Datuk Seri Tan Chai Ho.

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

GE13: Group of DAP supporters in Sekinchan switches camps

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 07:14 AM PDT

SEKINCHAN: Some 200 people here claiming to be DAP supporters have shifted allegiance to Barisan Nasional.

The group brought down DAP banners at the Sungai Leman operations centre here around 2am Monday and replaced them with Barisan banners.

One supporter, Asri Zainian, 64, claimed the Opposition party had not kept its promises.

He said he was originally a PAS member and had supported DAP for five years.

Asked if he had withdrawn his PAS membership, he said he would submit the documents soon.

The operation centre was set up two weeks ago by DAP supporters. Sited 10m from the gate of the polling station in SK Sungai Leman, is a strategic location for drawing votes.

Sungai Besar Umno committee member Jamil Ramli said the group comprised Malays aged 21 to 50, who were either PAS or PKR members.

Another supporter who defected, Zulkifli Idris, claimed the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition's promise of street lights and other amenities had not been delivered.

"Our village is still in darkness."

The population of Sungai Leman is 3,500, with 2,500 of the residents being voters.

The 13th general election, in which 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats are being contested, will be held on May 5.

Meanwhile, Sekinchan incumbent Ng Suee Lim said not more than 10 people claiming to be DAP supporters had contacted the party a few days ago and volunteered their assistance for the elections.

He said he had not expected them to defect to Barisan Nasional.

He added that the group had contacted one of the two DAP Malay exco members to pledge support and its number was not 200 as claimed by Jamil.

"I only knew them for these few days when one of them volunteered his house to be used as a DAP operatiosn centre in Sungai Leman," he said Monday.

He said it did not occur to him to check their background and motive before accepting their offer to assist the DAP but would be more careful from now.

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


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Finding peace in chaos

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 07:35 AM PDT

The hustle and bustle of city life can be overwhelming for those who seek quiet time after work and on weekends.

I think it is time to break the silence on making a racket, not badminton rackets. I am referring to noise of course and, oh boy, there is never a shortage of that here.

Working in textile manufacturing has always been a noisy job. It is part and parcel of weaving, there is no avoiding it, which is probably why after 10 stressful, hot and noisy hours at work, I like my quiet time.

I like to drive when there are fewer cars and I like to spend time in quiet places either cycling or walking. I don't like clubs anymore, despite being a deejay many years ago. I now prefer a nice chat with a few cool beers rather than the screaming and shouting of dinners in restaurants. I like my zen time to be zen.

In the UK, I lived out in the countryside and life was quiet in the quiet time and noisy at work, it had a great balance and I was very happy.

Moving to Kuala Lumpur was a culture shock of the most abrupt kind; the city is inherently busy, bustling and extremely noisy.

In the UK we have times that are acceptable to make noise and times that are definitely not. For example, you cannot sound your car horn between 11pm and 7am. The same applies to loud music, parties, general noise, screaming and shouting, they are all classed as public disturbance.

Some things we can't avoid. For instance the bird that lives outside my apartment window that sings at 4am, then goes quiet again till 5am and then again till 6am, and has obviously recently gone on holiday and been replaced by the "woo woo" bird, you know the one that that always sounds overexcited but he is lazy and doesn't wake up till 6am.

I am woken almost daily by the noise of lorries, sports cars and motorcycles with broken or over-inflated exhaust pipes in the early hours of the morning and amusingly enough, 6am Saturday morning in Plaza Mont Kiara is as busy as any weekday evening, with double parking and lots of what look like foreign students arguing, shouting and urinating in bushes.

There are reports in the UK of court cases because of noise and people have been locked up — it is serious to disturb the public peace but difficult for individuals to try to deal with it themselves, especially in Asia where a blind eye is an easy solution to any problem.

With drunken people from youths to senior citizens making noise in the carpark at 2am and 3am, I have been forced to shout at them, which usually results in a quick end to the problem that the security personnel seem hard-pressed to deal with.

However, what happens when it's contractors? Are there laws against excessive noise?

I'm pretty sure contractors are prohibited from making noise between 5pm and 8am Monday to Saturday, which is most usually upheld, but recently I had an eye-opening experience when a utility company dug the carpark outside my apartment at 2am with a huge digger and several trucks. I captured a video of it as it was too surreal to miss.

When I called the helpline the person explained that the reason was power outages, though I was standing in my hall with the lights on. I expressed my amazement that a corporate company would do this, only to have the call hung up on me. I certainly did not expect this from a public company.

When I spoke to friends about it the common response was "Welcome to Malaysia mate, they probably just thought you were another loud-mouth mat salleh making noise and ignored you," which actually made me smile because though I am opinionated, I am still polite and considerate of others' thoughts and feelings and I know exactly what my friend meant as I recalled one mat salleh chap making a huge stink at a restaurant because his whisky soda was not right. He made so much noise my friend and I left; we are not all so quiet you see.

So if I am not hearing someone talking on their mobile phone at high volume about multi-million dollar deals, it is someone scolding and cursing with foul language and foaming mouth, as if everyone needs or wants to know their personal matters.

People in general seem to find it difficult to translate problems constructively without losing control and shouting and screaming, and as I said before, just taking a little dinner in certain places can be a very, very noisy experience.

Of course, I don't want to walk into a bar or restaurant that is as quiet as a morgue. Malaysia has many vibrant places that are abuzz with chat, music, laughter and city sounds, but it's only looked upon as vibrant when it's not on your doorstep.

In many places in the UK, a noisy individual would be asked by other people to keep the noise down. People are forthcoming in speaking their mind, it helps to get things done and problems fixed.

It would seem from my experience in Malaysia, at least, that people are very sensitive to being told that something is wrong and their reaction may range from getting upset to getting violently (and noisily) angry.

I was even threatened at a coffee outlet when a friend asked the carpark attendant to turn down (not off) his laptop that was playing loud dance music right next to our table. After about five minutes, a large unfriendly chap showed up and started shouting at us after the attendant called him. Were we in the wrong? I think not.

So the rule of "I want to do what I want" is in force and the "What can you do about it?" attitude is the answer to moving forward.

The lack of EQ that is happily the measure of defining one's character seems far easier to adopt as a persona than trying to understand the feelings of others and to work out a "win-win" situation.

I don't want to shout at drunken old men, young people or the employees of public companies at 2am when I have work the next day, it's like trying to put out a fire with petrol.

I can't do much about Mr "woo, woo" bird, though I do wish he'd learn another song. And my advice to cellphone users is, save yourself the monthly costs and just shout at the person you want to contact, because at that volume they can probably hear you on the moon.

But seriously, if we can't rely on public services to be managed correctly and create, define and uphold standards, what can we rely on?

Well, for me, I think unless I move out of the city I guess it will be a case of "No rest for the wicked" and I will have to enjoy those brief snatches of zen that the weekend brings.

So until the next time it's a fond "Woo, woo, woo, woo" from me…

A weaver by trade and general manager by profession, Rob has been residing in Malaysia the past 10 years after moving here from England in search of adventure and professional experience. He's a proud Hasher, a serious music lover and absent diver.

Zaimah on the fast track

Posted: 21 Apr 2013 04:01 PM PDT

BUDDING athlete Zaimah Atifah is setting her sights on showing greater potential at the four-day Kuala Lumpur schools (MSSWPKL) athletics meet at the SMK Seri Permaisuri Mini Stadium in Cheras starting today.

The SMK Bandar Tasik Selatan Form Two student will be vying for honours in three individual events — 400m, 800m and 1,500m — in the girls' Under-15 category.

Although she was not fielded in the 800m at the MSSWPKL Bangsar zone athletics meet earlier last month, Zaimah said she was prepared to rise to the occasion and improve on her current personal best of 2:34 in the 800m at the championships.

"I am delighted to be allowed in the 800m race. My aim is to prove that I deserve the chance and I am a worthy competitor in one of my favourite events," she said.

At the recent Bangsar zone meet, Zaimah sprang a surprise when she clocked 5:38 to renew the meet's record for 1,500m in the girls' Under-15 group.

She also captured the gold medal with another personal best hand-timed effort of 60.8s in the 400m.

Based on her current form, Zaimah admitted that it was beyond her reach to break the Bangsar zone record in the 400m.

"It was great to chalk up a modest progress, bettering my previous best of 60.9s in the early part of the season. The current record holder has set a very high standard for others to match," said Zaimah.

Last month, Zaimah also finished 13th in the girls' Under-15 group at the national schools (MSSM) cross country in Kelantan.

MSSWPKL athletics technical chairman Hisham Mustaza Ibrahim said Zaimah had also showed that she was a good sprinter by clocking an encouraging 26.7s in the 200m sprint recently.

"It is premature for her to specialise and solely concentrate on certain events. We are continuing to expose her to other areas to become a more versatile athlete with all-round qualities. She will definitely have to push harder to fend off the stiff challenges from stronger competitors in the ongoing MSSWPKL meet," he said.

"The MSSWPKL will serve as an avenue for the selectors to get a clearer picture before naming her for suitable individual events at the MSSM (to be held in Pahang from May 19 to 23).

"She is certainly an asset in beefing up the MSSWPKL squad for the MSSM. She will have another year on her side to stamp her mark in the Under-15 group."


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