Selasa, 23 April 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.S. lawmakers grill FBI on Boston bombing investigation

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 08:05 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers grilled top security officials on Tuesday about the handling of the Boston Marathon bombing investigation and why one of the suspects flagged as a possible Islamist radical was not tracked more closely.

Pall bearers hug following the funeral for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police officer Sean Collier in Stoneham, Massachusetts April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Pall bearers hug following the funeral for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police officer Sean Collier in Stoneham, Massachusetts April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

FBI officials briefed members of Congress behind closed doors in Washington about the investigation into the April 15 blasts that killed three people and injured 264 others.

Authorities say the ethnic Chechen brothers, who immigrated to the United States a decade ago from the predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan in Russia's Caucasus, detonated two bombs made from pressure cookers near the finish line of the iconic foot race.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police and his younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, lies wounded in a Boston hospital charged with using weapons of mass destruction.

Investigators have focused on a trip to Dagestan last year by Tamerlan Tsarnaev and whether he became involved with or was influenced by Chechen separatists or Islamist extremists there.

Russian authorities flagged him as a possible Islamist extremist in 2011. The FBI interviewed him in Massachusetts but found no serious reason for alarm. Some lawmakers have questioned if more could have been done at the time.

Senators said after a briefing by FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce and other officials that there may have been a breakdown in communication that kept authorities from tracking his apparent radicalization.

Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, said the briefing raised questions about the flow of information among law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

"I think there has been some stonewalls, and some stovepipes reconstructed, that were probably unintentional, but we've got to review that issue again, and make sure there is the free flow of information," he said.

"I can't say the FBI dropped the ball. I don't see anybody yet that dropped the ball," he said. "That may develop."

The senators said there was tough questioning during the briefing.

"We had a full discussion back and forth over the process that's followed, and we need to keep at that, and we need to see if there are any loopholes in it, and that we fix those loopholes," said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who chairs the committee.

Lawmakers said they were unable to confirm an NBC report that the Tsarnaev brothers had been motivated by the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or speculation that they had used fireworks to provide the explosives used in their bombs.


The wife of the dead bombing suspect is assisting authorities and in absolute shock that her husband and brother-in-law were accused of the deadly blasts, her lawyer said.

"She cries a lot," attorney Amato DeLuca said of Katherine Russell, 24, an American-born convert to Islam who married Tamerlan Tsarnaev in June 2010. "She can't go anywhere. She can't work."

People interviewed by Reuters described Tamerlan Tsarnaev as proud but angry, never quite achieving his own idea of the American dream, and instead finding solace in a radical form of Islam adopted by fighters in his homeland.

The sisters of the bombing suspects said they too did not know what had happened to their brothers.

Ailina Tsarnaev, who lives in West New York, New Jersey, and her sister Bella issued a statement through their attorneys expressing their sadness over "such a callous act."

"As a family we are absolutely devastated by the sense of loss and sorrow this has caused," they said. "We don't have any answers but we look forward to a thorough investigation and hope to learn more."

But relatives interviewed in Russia said they did not believe the brothers carried out the bombings. "No one is accusing them of anything here," Said Tsarnaev, a local photojournalist, told Reuters.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's condition improved to "fair" from "serious" on Tuesday as he recovered from gunshot wounds at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where in an impromptu hearing on Monday he was charged with two crimes that could result in the death penalty if he were convicted.

Since recovering enough to communicate by nodding his head and writing, the younger Tsarnaev has told authorities he and his brother acted alone, learned to build the bombs over the Internet and were motivated by a desire to defend Islam because of "the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," NBC News reported.

NBC cited an unnamed U.S. counterterrorism source who has received multiple briefings on the investigation. Reuters could not confirm the information.

Tsarnaev was captured on Friday night following a massive, daylong manhunt that shut down greater Boston.

Police say the Tsarnaev brothers also killed a university police officer on Thursday night and wounded a transit police officer on Friday morning.

The family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest person to die in the attacks, privately buried their son on Tuesday.

"This has been the most difficult week of our lives and we appreciate that our friends and family have given us space to grieve and heal," parents Denise and Bill Richard said in a statement. "We laid our son Martin to rest, and he is now at peace."

(Additional reporting by Scott Malone in Boston, Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Providence, Rhode Island, Richard Cowan in Washington and David Jones in New Jersey; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Eric Beech and Lisa Shumaker)

Related Stories:
Chechen relative of Boston suspects alleges Russian plot

Suspect's widow drawn into Boston bomb investigation

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.S. drops charges against Mississippi man in ricin letters case

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 07:20 PM PDT

TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors dropped charges on Tuesday against a Mississippi man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a state judge, according to court documents.

Paul Kevin Curtis is seen dressed as an Elvis impersonator in this picture taken in 1999. REUTERS/Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

Paul Kevin Curtis is seen dressed as an Elvis impersonator in this picture taken in 1999. REUTERS/Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

The surprise decision came hours after Paul Kevin Curtis was released from a Mississippi jail on bond.

Prosecutors said the "ongoing investigation has revealed new information," but provided no additional details, according to the court order dismissing the charges.

Curtis told reporters he respected Obama. "I would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official," he said. "I love this country."

He said he had no idea what ricin was. "I thought they said 'rice,' I told them I don't eat rice," he said.

Curtis, who is 45 and known in Mississippi as an Elvis impersonator, had been released from jail on bond earlier on Tuesday after a judge indefinitely postponed a court hearing on his detention. The case was later dismissed "without prejudice," meaning the charges could be potentially reinstated if warranted.

Later on Tuesday federal law enforcement officials searched the house of a second Mississippi man, Everett Dutschke, Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson told Reuters.

It was not clear if the search was related to the ricin case.

A representative for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oxford, Mississippi, did not return calls for comment.

Dutschke is "cooperating fully" with the FBI, his attorney Lori Nail Basham told the Northeastern Mississippi Daily Journal. Dutschke has not been charged in the ricin case, she said.

Basham said Dutschke and Curtis were acquaintances and believed the two men had known each other for several years.

Deborah Madden, an FBI spokeswoman in Jackson, Mississippi, declined to comment. Phone calls to a number listed for Dutschke and his attorney went unanswered.

In 2007, Dutschke ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate against Stephen Holland, an incumbent Democratic state representative from the Tupelo area. Holland's mother, Sadie, is the judge to whom one of the ricin-tainted letters was mailed this month.

During the state campaign Dutschke produced a video titled "The Aliens are Coming," attacking his opponent for being soft on immigration, which stated that Holland was a "friend" of the September 11 hijackers.


Christi McCoy, Curtis's attorney, told CNN she believed her client had been framed.

"I do believe that someone who was familiar and is familiar with Kevin just simply took his personal information and did this to him," McCoy told CNN. "It is absolutely horrific that someone would do this."

Curtis was arrested on April 17 at his home in Corinth, Mississippi. He was charged with mailing letters to Obama, Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Sadie Holland containing a substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin, a highly lethal poison made from castor beans.

The letters were intercepted by authorities before they reached their destinations. The poison scare put Washington on edge during the same week the Boston Marathon bombing occurred.

Over the weekend, investigators searched Curtis's home, his vehicle and his ex-wife's home, but failed to find any incriminating evidence, McCoy told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

In a statement last week, Curtis's family said they had not been shown any evidence of the charges against him. They said he suffers from a long history of mental illness.

Typewritten on yellow paper, the three letters contained the same eight-line message, according to an affidavit from the FBI and the Secret Service filed in court.

"Maybe I have your attention now / Even if that means someone must die," the letters read in part, according to the affidavit. The letters ended: "I am KC and I approve this message."

The initials "KC" led law enforcement officials to ask Wicker's staff if they were aware of any constituents with those initials, and the focus of the investigation then turned to Curtis, the affidavit said.

Also on Tuesday, a Pentagon spy agency said tests found no suspicious letters after an alert during a screening of incoming mail at a military base in Washington, D.C.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Defence Intelligence Agency had said security personnel detected a potentially harmful substance during routine screening of incoming mail at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, and initial tests indicated the presence of "possible biological toxins."

(Additional reporting by David Adams, Tom Brown, Phil Stewart, David Lawder, Emily LeCoz; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Jane Sutton, Gerald E. McCormick, Andre Grenon, Dan Grebler and Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Bomber targets Pakistan's Hazara minority in run-up to elections

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 05:37 PM PDT

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - A prominent leader of Pakistan's ethnic Hazara minority narrowly escaped a suicide attack that killed six people on Tuesday, underscoring the growing threat militants pose to secular politicians in the run-up to next month's general elections.

Security officials investigate the site of a bomb blast in Quetta April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed

Security officials investigate the site of a bomb blast in Quetta April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed

The blast in Quetta was the worst attack since a series of bombings in the city at the start of the year killed almost 200 people, briefly drawing global attention to a growing campaign of persecution of the Hazaras by sectarian militants.

The 500,000-strong community in Quetta has been subjected to an escalating campaign shootings and bombings by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), a militant group dedicated to attacking Pakistan's Shi'ite Muslim minority, which includes the Hazaras.

Khaliq Hazara, the chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party, the main Hazara political organisation, said the blast occurred shortly after he had finished addressing a small outdoor election meeting in a Hazara enclave in the east of the city.

"I was doing my campaigning in my own community," Hazara told Reuters. "The government should give us security."

Hazara, who is running for a National Assembly seat at the May 11 elections, said he suspected the bomber intended to kill him and his advisers. "We were the target," he said.

LEJ's spokesman claimed responsibility for the blast via telephone from an undisclosed location, though he did not specify whether the HDP leader was the target.

The HDP is a secular party that has emerged to press Pakistan's government to take greater action to protect Hazaras from attacks that have killed hundreds of people in Quetta in recent years. The party's previous chairman was shot dead in the city in 2009.

The proximity of the blast to the HDP gathering will fuel fears that Islamist militants are determined to disrupt campaigning by secular parties ahead of the polls, Pakistan's first transition between elected civilian governments.

The suicide car bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle after being stopped at a nearby checkpoint manned by the paramilitary Frontier Corps, according to a security official. He said a member of the force was among the dead.

The blast occurred shortly after three smaller, hidden bombs exploded at various locations in the city, wounding nine people, police said.

LEJ's activists subscribe to the hard-line Takfiri Deobandi school of Islam, which is followed by a small minority of Pakistanis. The most violent members see it is a sacred duty to kill Shi'ites, who are known in Pakistan as Shias.

Hazaras are both Shi'ites and members an ethnic minority who originally migrated from Afghanistan, leaving them vulnerable to a double layer of discrimination.

LeJ's campaign of violence against the Hazaras has placed the community under siege in Quetta, leaving many people afraid to venture out of Hazara enclaves and disrupting business and education. Thousands of Hazaras have fled Quetta to seek asylum in Europe and Australia rather than face LeJ's death squads.

In a separate attack on Tuesday, a bomb exploded in the commercial capital Karachi near a gathering of activists of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), the dominant political party in the city. Police said two people were killed.

The MQM, a secular party, is locked in a battle with various rival contenders for influence in Karachi, including Pakistan's Taliban movement, which has sought to gain a foothold in various districts on the outskirts of the city in recent years.

The worst attack on an election event occurred last week when at least nine people were killed in bomb attack on a rally held by the Awami National Party in the north-western city of Peshawar.

The ANP, a secular party, is locked in a bitter struggle with Pakistan's Taliban movement, which has staged numerous attacks on its members over the years and has vowed to step up its campaign in the run-up to the polls.

(Writing by Matthew Green; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'M*A*S*H' actor Allan Arbus dies at 95

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 08:37 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. actor Allan Arbus, best known for his role as Army psychiatrist Sidney Freedman on the 1970s hit television series M*A*S*H and as the husband of the late photographer Diane Arbus, has died at the age of 95.

Arbus, who gave up his photography for acting, passed away from congestive heart failure at his home in Los Angeles on Friday, his second wife Mariclare Costello Arbus told Reuters.

"At 95, doctors didn't want to do surgery and Allan didn't want it at all," said Costello Arbus, an actress who married Arbus in 1976.

"He just slowed down," she said. "He just got weaker and weaker and was at home with his daughter and me."

Arbus' first major acting role came as Christ-like figure Jesse in director Robert Downey Sr.'s 1972 cult film Greaser's Palace, which also starred the director's young son, Robert Downey Jr.

He shot to prominence the role of the acerbic psychiatrist Sidney Freedman on M*A*S*H in 1973, a year after the Korean War comedy-drama began.

Arbus' final credited television role was in an episode of comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2000, according to Hollywood database

Arbus was born in 1918 in New York and began his career as a photographer in the 1940s and served as an U.S. Army photographer during World War II.

In 1941, he married Diane Nemerov - who later earned artistic acclaim for her photos of marginalized people. The couple started a photography studio together which shot photos for magazines Vogue and Glamour, among others.

The couple separated in 1959 and divorced a decade later. Diane Arbus committed suicide in 1971.

Arbus is survived by his three children; Amy Arbus and Doon Arbus from his first marriage and Arin Arbus from his second.

From xeno to hero

Posted: 24 Apr 2013 02:31 AM PDT

More US shows are hearing the thunder from Down Under.

I'M pretty excited by the latest TV show to come our way – Hannibal. A new dimension to the story of Hannibal Lecter, perhaps the most loved/feared serial killer in popular culture, is something I just cannot resist. And, judging by the first two episodes, it might just turn out to be one of the show's I'll be rushing home to watch.

Apart from the intriguing plot line – the show focuses on Dr Lecter before he is imprisoned for multiple grisly murders – interestingly, both the lead actors (Mads Mikkelsen who plays Hannibal and Hugh Dancy as FBI profiler Will Graham) aren't American!

Mikkelsen (who was Le Chiffre, the villain with the bloody eye in the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale) is Danish, while Dancy (Confessions Of A Shopaholic, The Jane Austen Book Club) is British.

This got me thinking about how so many of the American shows I am currently watching have foreign actors in either leading roles or significant supporting roles. No, I'm not talking about Hugh Laurie's character on House M.D. – that's soooo yesterday.

Having said that, House alumnus Jesse Spencer (who is Australian, in case you didn't realise) has moved on from his supporting role as one of Dr House's diagnosticians to being the lead in Chicago Fire, an American show about firefighters.

Spencer is just one of many Australian actors making an impact in Hollywood – there's Simon Baker, who plays independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation, Patrick Jane, on The Mentalist; Ryan Kwanten, who is Jason Stackhouse on True Blood; Anna Torv, who is FBI agent Olivia Dunham on Fringe (I must say that I saw her first on Aussie drama McLeod's Daughters – a show that everyone laughed at me for being hooked on, but at least I can now say I saw Torv back then); Alex O'Loughlin, who is Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O; Yvonne Strahovski, who is murderer-on-the-run Hannah McKay on the latest season of Dexter; and Clare Bowen, who plays up-and-coming country singer Scarlett O'Connor on Nashville.

And speaking of Nashville (if you aren't watching this stellar drama, you really should), Scarlett's singing partner Gunnar Scott (played by Sam Palladio) is British. How the two of them have mastered not just the American accent but the Southern twang is really quite remarkable.

What is it about these Australians? Sure, they're all really good actors but I'm convinced there's more to it than that. Their sun-kissed skin? The ability to speak American? Their easygoing, fun-loving personalities?

I often wonder if this foreign invasion is getting Americans riled up at all. I'm being silly? Check out which shows American actor Brian Guest (who has appeared on Southland and Hawaii Five-O) in a spoof about Australians in Hollywood. In it, he plays an American actor who is fed up by the lack of roles for Americans, particularly after his agent tells him: "You're doing great work, you're just not Australian". Fed up, he decides to show up for a casting call in Australia in full Crocodile Dundee gear! Hilarious. – SI

HEAR, hear, to Australians. This week, I am in full support of television stars from Down Under. In fact, I am going to pay homage to one in particular, the inimitable John Noble. I recently finished watching all five seasons of Fringe, so I am still freshly bowled over by Noble's character of Walter Bishop in the epic science fiction series (yeah, I say epic ... for all its loopholes and crazy timelines, from an observer's point of view, Fringe did pretty fine).

Noble is outstanding and steals the limelight every time he is on screen. I think he personifies what every good actor should be and in Fringe especially, he was able to embrace his character so well – playing him cerebral, kind, ruthless at times, perpetually the boy stuck in a man's body, funny, witty, sassy.

Noble, now 64, is a film and television actor, and theatre director of more than 80 plays, who hails from Australia (born in Port Pirie, South Australia ... so he's really like a kampung boy) but now lives in America.

You might also recognise him as Denethor from The Lord Of The Rings, or as Anatoly Markov in the sixth season of the series 24. He's also got a fantastic voice and his enunciation gives me goosebumps. I don't really know what I'm going to do now that I've run out of Fringe episodes, how am I going to get my Noble fix? Watch old episodes of Home And Away and All Saints? Eek!

Like Indra mentioned, there's a whole slew of them Aussies invading TV screens, but my favourite wizard of Oz will (I think) always be John Noble. Time for some best Walter Bishop moments on YouTube, methinks. – AMC

Beauty tips by make-up guru Junior Cedena

Posted: 24 Apr 2013 02:35 AM PDT

FASHIONISTAS and glamour queens, take note. Renowned make-up artist and member of Dior's Make-up Pro Team, Junior Cedena will be dispensing valuable beauty secrets on Capital FM 88.9 tomorrow.

A former model, Cedena has worked his magic for brands like Prada and Yves Saint Laurent as a freelancer before joining Dior in 2000. Some of the celebrities he has worked with include Angelina Jolie and Penelope Cruz, as well as models Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell.

Tune in to Capital FM on Jam Break with Deborah and Non (April 25, 6pm onwards) for an exclusive live interview with Cedena. The make-up guru will be talking about his experience with Dior as well as share some beauty tips.

Capital FM will also be giving away Dior make-up sets worth RM365 on Jam Break (4pm-8pm) from now till April 26. n To listen online, log on to Capital FM is part of The Star Media Group.


The Star Online: Sports

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Time to Jaze it up

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 04:47 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's leading international racing ace Jazeman Jaafar is looking forward to another highly competitive round of the Formula Renault 3.5 series (FR3.5) at the Motorland Aragon Circuit in Spain this weekend.

Jazeman, a Petronas Talent Programme driver, is in 10th position in the drivers' championship after the first two races and looking for a strong showing to improve his position.

"I'm going to Aragon with the confidence of having enjoyed a good start to my Formula Renault 3.5 campaign at Monza earlier this month,"said the 20-year-old.

"Although I've not raced at the track, I have tested there this season, so I'm familiar with it. We'll have an extra practice session on Thursday as a replacement for a test day we lost to snow ... so, I'll be well acclimatised for the start of the racing on Saturday.

"I'm hoping to continue with the consistency and race pace from Monza and work with my experienced Carlin team to produce the results we're aiming for," added Jazeman, who is looking forward to his first mandatory pitstops.

"As well as the first time racing at Aragon, it will also be my first time experiencing mandatory pitstops. But we've been practising these, so I'm feeling quite positive and excited for this extra challenge.

"The first races at Monza were everything I had expected. It was very competitive racing throughout the whole race distance, which required a very high level of concentration and focus for a longer period than I've experienced as these races are longer than the previous series I've raced in.

"It's great to get more mileage per race and push yourself harder ... it adds to the challenge."

Each race on Saturday and Sunday will be 45 minutes long.

Malaysian drivers out to give eye-catching show in Europe

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 04:40 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: It will be an exciting weekend for Malaysian motorsports with the country's bright talents getting ready for action in Europe.

Jazeman Jaafar will be battling it out in the second round of the Formula Renault 3.5 series in Spain while Nabil Jeffri will be looking to make a good debut for Petronas in the German F3 championships in Oschersleben after positive test results.

Rahul Raj, however, did not have such luxury but he'll still be hoping to put on an eye-catching show when he makes his European debut in the BDRC Formula 4 championships at the Silverstone Circuit this Saturday.

His car was scheduled for seat and pedals fitting on Monday to get the 16-year-old to be ready for his first testing the following day.

However, the transporter truck was involved in an accident on the way to pick up the car and the truck driver had to be taken away in an ambulance.

The truck has been compounded by police, resulting in all testings being cancelled for the week.

"I have to go straight to race this Saturday without doing any testing at all. Twenty-one other drivers have been practising daily for the past two weeks and have a better understanding of their cars and should be more confident of handling ther machine.

"It's going to be a tough race for me as they have a huge advantage over me," he said from England.

Nevertheless, Rahul, who finished second overall in the Formula Gulf 1000 championships recently, is excited to be given the opportunity to showcase his talent in Europe and acknowledged that it won't be easy racing against some of the top up-and-coming drivers from Europe.

"My aim will be to get as much experience as possible in the first race.

"I'll take it one race at a time and move my way up the grid. I hope to finish in the top 10, at least," said the optimistic lad.

Nabil will be drawing on recent positive results in pre-season testing when he makes his debut in the German F3 series.

He adapted well to the Oschersleben track and was consistently in the top five in the timesheets. Nabil, driving for Eurointernational, was just 0.5 seconds off the fastest man Emil Benstoff of the Lotus Motopark team and is confident of setting top five finishes as his primary target in the opening three races.

"It was a good outing over the two days and I was able to adapt to the Oschersleben track quickly," said Nabil.

"It's a short track with lots of fast turns.

"Physically, it is demanding but I'm comfortable with it.

"Emil is the benchmark as he has the experience of competing in the F3 Euroseries last year."

The 18-car grid sees the last year's JK Racing Asia runners-up competing against a field of some seasoned F3 drivers.

Suppliers to hold talks over Formula One’s controversial fast-wearing rubber

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 04:38 PM PDT

MANAMA: Pirelli are expected to hold talks at their Milan factory to decide what, if any, changes are needed to improve the performance of their controversial Formula One racing tyres.

After four races dominated and decided by tyre-wear and the strategy required to cope with this season's fast-wearing rubber, F1's leading teams are keen to see Pirelli switch to producing more conservative tyres that help ensure truer racing for the drivers.

Despite seeing his defending triple world champion driver German Sebastian Vettel claim his second win this season to open up a 10-points gap in the title race, Red Bull's chief Christian Horner said he remained critical of the tyres and still wanted changes.

"I think the tyres are still too on an edge," he said.

"Needing to four-stop in a race is I think a bit too extreme.

"There are other teams that look like they have bigger issues than Red Bull with their tyres, but you need to speak to them to ask their opinion.

"But I do feel the tyres are on an edge and just need to come back a little bit."

Vettel's dominant showing in the Bahrain Grand Prix did nothing to persuade Horner to change his mind.

Red Bull still wants Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli to change their tyres for the remainder of the season, even though they triumphed at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"These tyres are very complex and we got it just right here," he told reporters.

"The strategy worked, the strategy from qualifying worked in the race, and Seb had plenty in hand.

"When you're in the window with the balance with these tyres, then you can have a dominant display.

"But that window is very, very fine and if you're outside of it then you can be four or five-stopping."

Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembrey, who spent most of the Bahrain race weekend fending off criticisms and questions about the unpredictable tyres, said the Italian company planned to hold a meeting to evaluate how their tyres performed in the opening four races.

He said that the extreme cases of tyre-degradation seen at the Bahrain International Circuit, where several drivers experienced tyres that appeared to throw off their entire tread blocks, were due to the unique combination of heat, dust and a demanding track layout.

"We are at extremes, as we were last year, when there were similar comments like, 'oh my god, you have gone too far,'" he said.

"If we made products that would just work here, we would find we had major problems when we got to the rest of the season. So, it is a balancing act and that is what we have to look at."

While Vettel revelled in the conditions to romp to a surprisingly easy win, German Nico Rosberg, who took pole for Mercedes with a blistering lap on Saturday, found himself facing a struggle to cope with the demands of the race – due to the high wear of his rear tyres.

"I think that, in terms of the way, we manage the tyres and the tyre temperatures, we took a step in the wrong direction and didn't get the best out if it.

"Altogether, from first to ninth was unreal. I can't believe it. This sport is tough sometimes.

"As nice as it was on Saturday with the pole, it was a terrible Sunday. But there we go. The great thing is we have a great car. We just need to sort out these tyre issues, which is easier said than done.

"It is a massive mission and it is the same for everyone. Some people are doing a better job so we are pushing hard for that." — AFP


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HSBC to shed 1,149 UK jobs in new round of cutbacks

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 06:35 PM PDT

LONDON: HSBC is cutting 1,149 jobs in Britain in another round of redundancies to save money and slim down Europe's biggest bank.

The cuts are part of a three-year revival plan designed by Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver to reduce costs, raise returns and focus on profitable areas.

But Unite, Britain's biggest trade union, said it may ballot its members at the bank to see if they want to strike in protest at the latest job cuts and accused HSBC of "putting profits before people".

Banks across the world are shedding thousands of staff to try to increase profitability, improve technology and cope with tougher regulations brought in after the financial crisis.

In Britain banks have also axed thousands of jobs in response to new rules on how they sell investment products to retail customers, and HSBC said its latest cuts reflected this changing nature of customer behaviour and regulation.

The bank said as a result of these changes its customers will have a single advisor for both their banking and wealth management needs and while 3,166 UK jobs would be affected by the plans the bank expects to redeploy 2,017 staff.

The net loss in jobs adds to 2,200 UK job cuts made a year ago.

The bank employs just over 47,000 staff in Britain, or about 40,000 excluding its investment bank and head office.

The latest cuts will mostly come from wealth management, where HSBC said it is shifting advisors into its consumer retail banking business from June. Some 942 relationship management roles will go, including commercial banking financial advisor positions.

Staff will also be affected in support roles and commercial banking.

Gulliver has cut 34,500 global jobs since taking over in early 2011, or 12 percent of staff, which has slashed annual costs by 2.3 billion pounds.

He is expected to say next month he is targeting another $1 billion of annual savings, which could result in another 5,000 redundancies this year, analysts estimated.

Gulliver has axed jobs across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, excluding Hong Kong. He said he expected to shed 30,000 jobs by taking out bureaucracy and underperforming businesses when he laid out a three-year revival plan in May 2011, but said he also wanted to add 15,000 in faster growing areas.

Although he has surpassed his target to slice $3.5 billion off annual expenses, costs accounted for 62.8 percent of income last year, well above another target to get that ratio below 52 percent.


HSBC said it would support staff who do not currently give financial advice to take the diploma they would need to become a wealth adviser, although Unite said it is a tough qualification that about a quarter of people fail after two attempts.

"HSBC is making staff suffer in the search for ever greater profits. The bank's behaviour is a disgrace," said union officer Dominic Hook.

Hook said it followed other moves to cut pensions, holidays and sick pay. "Staff are at the end of their tether and we will be asking them in due course if they are prepared to take part in a strike ballot to oppose this unprecedented attack by this very profitable bank."

HSBC made a profit of $20.6 billion last year, down 6 percent on 2011.

Chairman Douglas Flint said on Monday that less affluent customers could lose access to basic financial services under the new regulatory regime for giving investment advice in Britain.

More than 80,000 banking jobs have been shed in Britain since the end of 2008. Most have come at Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland which have axed about 32,000 and 25,000 UK jobs respectively.

Barclays' chief executive Antony Jenkins has warned that as technology improves about 40,000 jobs could go across its operations over the long-term, or about a quarter of staff. - Reuters

FedEX signs new US$10.5bil contract with United States Postal Service

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 06:31 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 9:31:00 AM

NEW YORK: FedEx Corp said its FedEx Express subsidiary has entered into a seven-year express air transportation contract with the United States Postal Service for about $10.5 billion.

FedEx's current contract ends in September 2013, and the new contract will begin in October 2013.

The company on Tuesday also launched a new service to let customers select from a range of options to schedule dates, locations and times of delivery. Rival UPS began offering its "UPS My Choice" service more than a year ago. - Reuters

KFC parent Yum profit beats even as bird flu batters China sales

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 06:26 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 9:26:00 AM

NEW YORK: KFC parent Yum Brands Inc on Tuesday reported that quarterly profit fell less than Wall Street expected, despite a sharp drop in sales in its top market of China, and the company's shares jumped 6.5 percent.

Sales at established restaurants in China fell 20 percent during the first quarter and Yum warned that fears surrounding a bird flu outbreak there were continuing to depress sales already struggling to recover from a previous food safety scare.

The fast-food operator reaps more than half of its overall sales in China, where most of its nearly 5,300 restaurants are KFCs.

The drop in sales was a major contributor to the first quarter's profit decline.

Net income fell to $337 million, or 72 cents per share, from $458 million, or 96 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, first-quarter earnings were 70 cents per share, 10 cents better than the average of analysts estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Yum shares were up $4.18 at $68.33 in extended trading. - Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Free Identity Thief tickets

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 12:33 AM PDT

Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy's identity.

Catch Identity Thief starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy on us. We have 20 pairs of tickets to a special screening. All you have to do is print this page and bring it along with you to our redemption table at GSC Mid Valley.

Please note that tickets will be given on a first come, first served basis. Each person will be given only one pair of tickets.

For more chances to win the ticket, visit our Facebook site at

Redemption Details

Date: 29 April 2013 (Monday)

Time: 8.30pm

Venue: GSC Mid Valley

Screening Details

Date: 29 April 2013 (Monday)

Time: 9.30pm

Venue: GSC Mid Valley

Rules & Regulations

1. This redemption is open to all eCentral fans.

2. Print out the contest page and redeem it at the venue given in this article.

3. Each page entitles you to two movie tickets only. Each person is allowed to redeem only once.

4. Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis.

5. Queue-jumping and reserving places in line during the redemption are strictly prohibited. The organizers reserve the right to refuse tickets to anyone found doing so.

6. Tickets are not exchangeable for cash.

7. This movie is not yet rated.. Movie ratings will strictly apply for this movie. The organizers reserve the right to refuse entry to the cinema hall to those not within the permitted age limit. No exceptions will be made at any time for any reason.

8. I hereby expressly consent to the collection, collation, use and/or disclosure of all my personal data by Star Publications (M) Berhad for the purposes of the Identity Thief contest.

9. For enquiries, please e-mail

Reese Witherspoon says sorry

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 09:35 PM PDT

REUTERS - Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon's initial court date on a disorderly conduct charge was pushed back for a month on Monday after the squeaky-clean Legally Blonde star admitted she had drunk too much and was "deeply embarrassed" by her behaviour.

Witherspoon, 37, one of Hollywood's most beloved celebrities, was arrested in the early hours of Friday morning in Atlanta, after arguing with police who stopped her husband James Toth on suspicion of drunken driving.

A first court hearing set for Monday was rescheduled for 22 May, Atlanta municipal court officials said. Her talent agent husband Toth will have a hearing the following day.

In a statement released late Sunday, the American actress said she could not go into detail about what happened, citing legal reasons.

But she added: "I do want to say I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said," Witherspoon said in the statement.

"It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that was no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I am very sorry for my behavior."

Witherspoon, who has recently dyed her signature blonde hair brown, appeared in New York on Sunday as scheduled for the premiere of her latest film Mud, as news of her arrest began to break.

The actress, who won an Oscar in 2006 for playing country star June Carter Cash in Walk The Line and made her movie debut at age 15, had until now avoided the kind of scandal that hits many Hollywood stars.

According to the police report, Toth, 42, was pulled over when he drove across a double line on the road. Appearing disheveled, smelling of alcohol and with bloodshot eyes, he then failed a blood-alcohol breath and a field sobriety test.

Witherspoon was warned to stay inside the vehicle but after her husband's arrest, she got out of the car and said, "she was a 'U.S. citizen' and that she had the right to 'stand on American ground.'"

Witherspoon was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct.

The actress asked if he knew who she was, saying: "You're about to find out who I am. ... You're going to be on national news," the police report said.

The couple was released from custody at about 3.30am on Friday.

Witherspoon has been in the Atlanta area filming her next movie The Good Lie, based on the real life story of a refugee from the Sudanese civil war.

Toth and Witherspoon married in 2011 and have a son together. Witherspoon has two children from her first husband, actor Ryan Phillippe.

Women directors growing presence at Tribeca Film Fest

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 08:33 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Women directors are making their mark at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, crafting entries such as a psychological thriller about a person's disappearance, a look at a same-sex couple's rights and a story about sisters.

Twenty-six feature films, about a quarter of the total to be presented during the two-week festival, are by women directors, including the first feature film by a female Saudi filmmaker shot entirely in her country.

Although the number is still small compared to male directors, festival organizers said women's participation has been growing annually.

"Women have always played prominent roles and creative roles in the film industry. As far as directing, it seems more women are taking on that role," said Genna Terranova, the vice president of programming at the festival.

The choice of films at this year's festival that runs through April 28 is as varied as the women themselves.

In The Moment, a mystery starring Jennifer Jason Lee as a photojournalist in a fragile mental state following the disappearance of her lover, director and co-writer Jane Weinstock examines relationships and recovery.

Linda Bloodworth Thomason, a television writer and producer who financed her film through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, chronicles the story of a gay man after his partner's death in Bridegroom.

In her first feature film, writer-director Jenee LaMarque focuses on the bond between sisters in The Pretty One.

Wadjda, Saudi writer-director Haifaa Al-Mansour's tale of a 10-year-old girl in Riyadh trying to buy a bicycle, is being screened at Tribeca after winning awards at festivals in Dubai and Venice.

"Women are not only making just one type of movie," Terranova told Reuters. "They are making the types of movies that interest them and that they are passionate about."


While women have made strides in other areas of the film industry, directing has remained a largely male domain, particularly in Hollywood.

In 2012, women accounted for nine percent of directors working on the top 250 films, a four percent rise from the previous year, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

The number of women directors is slightly better in independent films at 16.9 percent and documentaries at 34.5 percent, according to research by the University of Southern California.

"It's just an easier place for people to make films," said Marina Zenovich, whose documentary Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic, about the late American comedian that premieres at Tribeca, referring to independent filmmaking.

The two-time Emmy Award winner believes women are making progress in what she described as a tough industry for both sexes.

"But it is harder for female filmmakers and it always has been," she said. "It is a fight that a lot of women in the industry are perking up to. We are half the population."

Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow made history when she became the first woman to win the Academy Award for best director for her 2008 film The Hurt Locker. She is among only four women to have been nominated for the prize.

Zenovich sees Bigelow as "a total role model." Terranova agrees.

"For any female director who is struggling or maybe doing a different kind of movie, seeing Kathryn Bigelow win that award is a very inspiring moment," she said. "It certainly helps you when you see people achieve goals that you aspire to."


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Green Flavours

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 04:41 AM PDT

IT'S an organic green issue this month, as the Flavours team reports on visits to farms to see where the ingredients for all the delicious recipes the magazine features comes from.

Wanting to highlight good produce as opposed to the piles of unmindfully raised vegetables and meat in the market in this month that celebrated Earth Day yesterday, the team was humbled by the resolve of the people they met who are trying to care for the planet as they feed us.

Flavours does its part to support such efforts with features not only on people who are providing us with better food options but also on the action plan for sustainable eating. Also in this issue is an introduction to the vegan way of eating healthy.

The featured ingredient this month is the buah keluak, aka the "black truffle of Asia", no less. You'll be astonished at how some of the top chefs use this exotic and still-relatively-unknown-on-the-world's-culinary-stage ingredient.

Up close and personal with award-winning author Tan Twan Eng

Posted: 22 Apr 2013 05:41 PM PDT

On World Book Day today, we celebrate Malaysia's Man Asian Literary Prize winner, Tan Twan Eng.

THE only moment Tan Twan Eng allows hesitancy to show during our conversation is when I ask him how he had reacted to hearing his name being announced as the Man Asian Literary Prize winner. His eyes, low and searching briefly, unmasked his answer before it arrived.

"It was actually a blur. It sounds like a cliché but it was.... The moment my name was called out I was almost on automatic pilot. I said to myself, 'You have to get up. You have to get up.' And I got up, went over and kissed my agent and ... I was still in shock. Suddenly, I realised that I had to make a speech," Tan muses as his soft voice swings to the lower reaches.

Tan had just met fans and responded to questions about his success in a mixture of on-the-job earnestness and jocularity at the Kinokuniya bookstore in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month. A group of 70 had assembled to welcome the 41-year-old Penangite after his The Garden Of Evening Mists had claimed the top Asian literary accolade at an the event held in Hong Kong on March 14.

The Independent was the first British newspaper to review it and its literary editor, Boyd Tonkin, offered that the novel "moves between three levels, which never quite coincide. In the present – given the chronology, the late 1980s – Teoh Yun Ling writes her memoirs before the aphasic dementia that has begun to afflict her reduces language and memory to trackless jungle.

"In the early 1950s, as a rebellious young prosecutor furious that the British rulers of Malaya have done so little to help victims of Japanese war crimes, she fled to the highlands to learn garden design from (Nakamura) Aritomo." As the retired judge dredges her memory to remember her past as a Japanese prison camp survivor, she also learns to construct more than a garden in memory of her sister.

The book had, late last year, been on the shortlist of the prestigious Man Booker Prize too, though that prize was eventually claimed by Hilary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies. Tan explains how, after losing out on the Booker, he had decided he wouldn't win the Asian prize. The night before the Man Asian was to be announced, his agent and a friend asked if he had prepared a victory speech.

"I said 'Why? I wrote one for the Booker and I didn't use it, I crumpled it up. So I'm not going to write (another).' But they kept on pestering me and I wrote a short one – literary two paragraphs."

While Tan has only two novels under his belt, both have impressed internationally, with even his debut novel (about the relationship between a half-British trader from Penang and a Japanese diplomat before the war), The Gift Of Rain, making the Booker Prize longlist in 2007. Yet the one-time intellectual property lawyer demonstrates a refreshing humility laced with self-effacing humour as he shares a generous amount of time to reflect on the creation of his award-winning work.

How difficult was it to describe a period in history that many Malaysians would not be fully aware of?

It was hard because for some strange reason there aren't many books on Cameron Highlands in that era (post-World War II). I didn't find any (on tea plantations), I tried looking for one of (Boh Plantation's books) and they said it was out of print.

I only went to speak to the owner when the book was almost done and I was editing it. I was in town, in KL, and managed to get an interview with Tristan (Beauchamp) Russell (son of Boh Plantations founder, John Archibald Russell). He spent about an hour talking to me and that was about it.

I read up a lot on the tea plantations in Assam (in India). I tried to see what the routine was like, I had to learn about growing tea and how they roasted and fermented the leaves. A lot of the stuff was cut out of the book in the end anyway ... a lot of the gardening stuff, Japanese woodblock printing, and tattooing went out as well.

I was trying to put my research to good use so that I didn't feel that I wasted all those days and weeks reading up on the subjects. As a reader, I like learning stuff when I read so when I write, the temptation is to put in chunks and chunks about the history of gardening but in the end, it was just too much – because it is interesting to me, but not necessarily other people.

How do you decide what engages the readers?

I would say gut feeling and editors as well. I've got good editors and they would say that this is too much and that is not enough. I love rewriting; I love editing. I could work on a book for years; it's so nice playing around with words. With each edit, I would cut out more and more and you tend to realise what's not essential.

But there's a danger there as well, because you are so familiar with the facts, you say this is not essential or that I already know that. It's quite a difficult balancing act to do. You tend to think that everyone knows that anyway. I still get comments from readers who say that there were never enough facts and some other readers say that there were too many and it was boring. In the end, you can't please everyone.

What were the other difficulties that you faced while writing The Garden Of Evening Mists?

Trying to make it better than the first book. I felt the pressure but I also wanted to improve as well – each book has to be a growth. In a way, I wanted my writing style to evolve as well, with each book, it has to be slightly different and changed, become more refined and with less description. It was basically trying to write a book that was better than the first one.

That was hard … there was also that awareness. In the first book, by this page, there was already so many things happening and in this one the two are still sitting there and looking at each other.

Eventually, I had to forget the first book, this was a different book but I took a long time to do that.

Tell us about the rewriting and editing processes.

A lot of things you only find out when you're editing the book. Suddenly I need her to be a harder character because of what happens later on or I need her to be softer and more submissive because I want to show a certain growth. So you change here and there.

I love the editing because you already have a work that you can chip away at, whereas with writing, there's nothing there with the first draft.

Once you have the block there, you can start changing the colour and cutting it away to change the shape. I find it very enjoyable and I could go on doing it.

Once I'm satisfied with it, I'll send the manuscript to the editors, they will come back with their comments and suggestions. I'll read them, some I won't like but if I feel that they might help, I'll try it on and give them what they want. I get annoyed, I get furious sometimes but you leave it for one or two days and then you go back to the comments again.

I'll try (to make the amendments) and a lot of times, their suggestions do work so I always give it a try just to see whether it works or not. I'm quite open to their ideas.

I have one or two readers I trust as friends and I let them look at the manuscript and take in their criticism and comments.

It's better to be criticised and critiqued in the privacy of your own home and produce something good in the end than to hand out a piece of garbage and let the world start criticising you in public. That is even worse!

It is really a question of whether an author can deal with that kind of criticism, isn't it? It can either crush you or make you work harder. How did you deal with rejection?

It was a great disappointment. I asked my agent to find out why they rejected it (The Gift Of Rain) and the majority of the comments were that they didn't know how to market it. Their marketing department said this is a tough book to sell and we're passing it on.

There were some who said that this is the most boring book that they have ever read and they really can't bear reading it – yes, there was that as well. But most of it was, they didn't know how to sell it.

I just knew that there was no way I could change their perception and their timidity as well in marketing books. My agent said we would keep sending out the manuscript, as each time there is a change in personnel, they might review their decision. He also advised me to start writing my second book and finish it.

For some reason, I refused to and went back to law – the same company and even same room. That was in 2004 and I was back in KL; shortly after that, this new publisher said that they would like to publish (The Gift Of Rain). They were very new and mine was probably the fourth or fifth book that they signed up. The publisher liked it!

And we have to say, therein lies a lesson for other Malaysian authors: persistence pays off. Thank goodness for a stubborn literary agent, otherwise we wouldn't be able to lay claim to a Man Asian Literary Prize winner.


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GE13: Prime Minister can be from any race, says Kit Siang while endorsing Anwar as Pakatan's choice

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 09:49 AM PDT

Published: Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 12:50:00 AM

JOHOR BARU: Any Malaysian regardless of race can be made the Prime Minister of the country said DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang at a political rally.

Lim said that DAP however had to accept the current political reality that the Prime Minister's post can only be held by a Malay. "This is the political reality of today and the forseeable future," he said when addressing a crowd at Stulang here on April 24. Lim, who will also be contesting for the parliamentary seat of Gelang Patah here however stressed that the constitution does not say that a non-Malay cannot be made Prime Minister of Malaysia. "For now, I publically declare that our party endorses Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as our Prime Minister is we manage to topple Barisan in GE13," he said.

Taxi diver shot dead while having dinner at Puchong restaurant

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 09:34 AM PDT

PUCHONG: A taxi driver was gunned down by masked men in front of his family during dinner in a restaurant here.

During the 9.30pm incident, the victim, identified as 36-year-old A. Siva, was having dinner with his wife and eight-year-old daughter when he was shot multiple times.

According to eye witnesses, two men wearing ski masks alighted from a car and walked up to the Siva before one of them opened fire.

Subang Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Yahaya Ramli said Siva was shot at least four times before the gunmen fled in their car.

"We have the license plate number of the car but we have to determine if this is a fake," he told reporters when met at the scene on Tuesday.

Although Siva, who was shot in the chest, was rushed to a nearby clinic, he succumbed to his injuries on arrival.

"We are interviewing the staff at the restaurant and another patron who saw the incident," said ACP Yahaya.

Police, he said, were also checking if the incident was linked to a failed assassination attempt on another man which took place nearby last week.

It is believed that the victim knew the man.

ACP Yahaya said Siva, who was previously detained under the Emergency Ordinance, had been working as a taxi driver since his release.

"We are checking if the shooting is also linked to his past," he said, adding that Siva regularly ate at the restaurant.

The body was sent to Hospital Serdang for a post-mortem.

GE13: Silent majority supports BN, says Dr Chua

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 09:23 AM PDT

Published: Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 12:23:00 AM

JOHOR BARU: Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is confident that the silent majority supports Barisan Nasional.

He said that while certain vocal supporters gained all the attention, Barisan supporters' silence does not mean that they are not on Barisan's side.

"There is something called the silent majority where people keep quiet but in reality their support is with us," he told reporters after attending a dinner with 96 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at SJKC Johor Jaya here Tuesday night.

Dr Chua, who is MCA president, urged the Chinese community to recognise the work done of the Barisan government in the past five years, including allocating land for Chinese schools and giving out various financial aid to the lower income group.

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


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