Khamis, 9 Mei 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

China's Xi urges Netanyahu to quickly restart peace talks

Posted: 09 May 2013 09:20 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's President Xi Jinping urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restart peace talks with the Palestinians as soon as possible, days after he tried to convince Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to revive discussions.

China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing May 9, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing May 9, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Xi's comments to Netanyahu and Abbas this week reflect China's intent to strengthen its diplomatic role in a region where its influence has historically been weak. On Monday, Xi floated China's "four-point proposal" for peace with Abbas, who was visiting China in the same week as Netanyahu.

The moves by China come as the United States is engaged in a fresh diplomatic campaign to revive peace talks, which collapsed in 2010 over Israel's continued expansion of settlements.

Netanyahu - the first top Israeli leader to visit China since former prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2007 - met Xi on Thursday, part of a five-day visit to China aimed at boosting bilateral trade with China.

"I hope the two sides can make joint efforts to take practical measures to gradually build up mutual trust, to restart peace talks as soon as possible and achieve substantive progress," Xi told Netanyahu, according to a statement carried on the website of China's foreign ministry late on Thursday.

"Only by protecting the legitimate rights and interests of all countries, having respect for each other's concerns can there be true realisation of regional peace and stability," Xi told Netanyahu.

Xi, who took office in March, did not outline any specific proposals for the resumption of peace talks to Netanyahu, who did not meet Abbas in China.

Netanyahu told Xi that "Israel is well aware of the pain caused by war, welcomes and desires peace, and is willing to achieve peace through negotiations," according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

Netanyahu's remarks come amid reports that he has quietly curbed new building projects in Jewish settlements, in an apparent bid to help U.S. efforts to revive peace talks with the Palestinians.

China has traditionally had a low profile in Middle East diplomacy, but is keen to assert its role as a force in international politics.

Beijing has maintained close relations with the Palestinians for decades. In recent years it has also cultivated ties with Israel, though Israel is wary of China's links with Iran.

China, Iran's top oil customer and a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has opposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran such as those imposed by Washington and the European Union, and has called repeatedly for talks to resolve the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme.

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

A "caged parrot" - Indian judge describes top police agency

Posted: 09 May 2013 08:29 PM PDT

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A packed New Delhi courtroom sat in rapt silence this week as an irate Supreme Court judge denounced the elite Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India's version of the American FBI, as a "caged parrot" and "its master's voice".

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attends the annual general meeting and national conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi April 3, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attends the annual general meeting and national conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi April 3, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Justice R.M. Lodha loudly berated the attorney-general, the government's top lawyer, for what he said was clear evidence of interference in a CBI inquiry into alleged irregularities in the allocation of coalfield licences to private companies, a case dubbed "Coalgate" by the Indian media.

The Supreme Court judge's statement gave, for the first time, an authoritative voice to opposition complaints that for years India's Congress party-led government had been using the investigating agency to cover up wrongdoing, keep fickle coalition allies in line and political opponents at bay.

Government ministers and the CBI have repeatedly denied such accusations.

"The CBI conducts all investigations in a free, fair and impartial manner as per the law," said CBI spokeswoman Dharini Mishra.

The judge's unusually harsh criticism has shone a spotlight on the role of the CBI - which has a mandate to investigate corruption and all major crimes - and its relationship with governments of the day in the world's largest democracy, in particular the nine-year-old Congress government, which has been battered by a series of corruption scandals.

It has given ammunition to anti-corruption campaigners who say political interference in the CBI reinforces the need for an independent anti-graft body that can investigate corruption involving government officials. Legislation to set up such an agency is stalled in parliament.

Two former CBI directors told Reuters that the agency was subject to political influence, irrespective of which party happened to be in power at the time.

"The political class will never give independence to the CBI," said former director Joginder Singh, who says he was forced out after refusing to back off from an investigation into a chief minister of the eastern state of Bihar in the 1990s.

Vijay Shanker, who was CBI director between 2005 and 2008, said there was "no question" that political pressure was brought to bear on the agency, although he declined to say whether he had personally experienced such interference.

The CBI, which proudly proclaims its motto to be "Industry, Impartiality and Integrity", has denied the latest allegations and said the government made only minor changes to a confidential progress report on its Coalgate investigation. Not so, said Judge Lodha. The "heart of the report" had been altered, he thundered at a hearing on Wednesday.


Opposition parties accuse Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress - which rules as part of a minority coalition - of dirty tricks to bully powerful but capricious regional parties to help keep it in power and support it on key parliamentary votes.

Nominally the CBI is independent. But administrative control is with the Department of Personnel and Training, which falls under the prime minister's office.

On operational matters, the agency has a number of masters, including the courts and the anti-graft Central Vigilance Commission.

"We have never, never misused our authority or position for the purpose of arm-twisting any of our alliances. The CBI has been functioning independently," Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy told Indian media recently.

A key ally of the government, Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party provides crucial support to the coalition in parliament, said in April he was at the mercy of the CBI, which is investigating him for allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to his income.

"It's not easy to fight with the government. It has a thousand hands and can use the CBI and put one in jail," complained Yadav, whose party rules the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of 200 million.

The CBI investigation into the source of Yadav's wealth, launched in 2007, is still ongoing.

Yadav is not alone. The CBI is investigating similar allegations involving Mayawati, the leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party, another Uttar Pradesh party on whom the government relies heavily for support in parliament.

India's main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has alleged that the government used the threat of the CBI investigation to force Mayawati to back a controversial proposal to open up the country's retail sector to foreign investors even though she is on record as being opposed to it.

Two days after another key regional ally, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, pulled out of the government in March, CBI agents raided the home of a party leader, ostensibly in connection with a tax evasion case.

The prime minister swiftly distanced himself from the action, but the damage was already done. Political opponents and local media interpreted the raid as an act of revenge for the DMK pullout, which whittled down the government's dwindling number of seats in parliament.

"Considering the enormous amount of misuse of political clout, the CBI has lost its credibility," Arun Jaitley, the BJP leader of the opposition in the upper house of parliament, said after the latest Coalgate revelations.

When the BJP was in power from 1998-2004, however, it was also accused of using the CBI for its own ends.

"Every political party wants to accuse the political rival in power of misusing the CBI," former CBI director Shanker said. "And, the cycle continues."

(Additional reporting by Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow and Annie Banerji in New Delhi; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Republicans look for cover-up as Benghazi debate revived

Posted: 09 May 2013 06:28 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top Republican in Congress demanded on Thursday that the Obama administration release emails about its handling of last year's deadly attack in Libya, after a dramatic congressional hearing breathed life into the party's accusations of negligence and cover-up.

House Speaker John Boehner holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 21, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

House Speaker John Boehner holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 21, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner called on the White House to order the State Department to make public more internal emails sent after the killings in Benghazi of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

Boehner's remarks kept up pressure a day after the hearing - dismissed by Democrats as mostly partisan posturing - won front-page headlines following months of Republican accusations that Washington failed to respond quickly enough to the assault by suspected Islamist militants on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

"Last November, the president said he was 'happy to cooperate in any way Congress wants,'" Boehner told a news conference. "This is his chance."

Republican critics believe the emails could reveal evidence that the administration initially tried to play down the assault in Benghazi as stemming from spontaneous demonstrations by Libyans, as opposed to being a planned militant operation.

The emails are believed to detail senior diplomats' views of who was behind the September 11, 2012, attacks and how administration officials discussed ways to present the incident to the public.

The State Department said it had already been working with Congress to provide the emails it wants - a process complicated by secrecy rules.

Republicans have been complaining loudly about the Benghazi attack for eight months, often without much attention in the mainstream media.

The killings and their aftermath have - until this week at least - failed to inflict much political damage on President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, who headed the State Department at the time of the attack and is considered the top Democratic prospect for the 2016 presidential race.

Clinton is clearly a major focus of Republicans' attempts to get to the heart of what they believe is a national security scandal.

Foreign Policy magazine counted 32 separate discussions mentioning Clinton during Wednesday's hearing of the House Oversight Committee. The featured witness was Gregory Hicks, a former top U.S. diplomat in Libya who gave a dramatic account of the night that Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.

Congressional committees have held about a dozen hearings on Benghazi and more are in the works. There are five different committees of the Republican-led House investigating Benghazi: Oversight, Intelligence, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Judiciary.


Chris Lehane, a veteran of congressional investigations of former President Bill Clinton's White House, said Republicans were using the hearings just to pressure the Obama administration.

"Congress using and sometimes abusing the investigative process is about as predictable as the cicadas coming to D.C., although it happens much more frequently," said Lehane, referring to an insect that emerges in huge numbers on the East Coast periodically.

The White House dismissed suggestions of a cover-up, noting that administration officials had testified at 11 congressional hearings and provided more than 25,000 pages of documents.

Republicans deny political motivation, and say any information that explains what happened in Benghazi is worthwhile.

Email traffic is central to what they say is the administration's attempt to diminish the seriousness of the assault in Benghazi at the height of the U.S. presidential election campaign.

"The story of Benghazi is that after the attack, seven weeks before an election, there was an effort by some senior people to put a political spin on this," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "Rather than tell the story that it was a terrorist attack from the get-go because it was so close to the election."

At Wednesday's hearing, Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina read what he said was an email sent by Acting Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones on September 12 blaming the violence in Benghazi on a group affiliated with Islamist militants.

Boehner said the State Department did not let House committees keep copies of the email and urged Obama to order State to release it.

He also called for the release of emails that a House report said showed that Obama's White House and State Department were involved in rewriting "talking points" on Benghazi used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to give the administration's version of events on television talk shows shortly after the attack.

Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who helped lead an investigation into the attack, scoffed at Republican allegations. "From my own personal perspective, it was tantamount to Pulitzer Prize-level fiction if one could find a cover-up here," Pickering said.

Lehane, a crisis communications specialist, said Clinton appeared to be shielded from accusations that she handled Benghazi badly because she was careful right after the attack not to misspeak.

"This is a basic principle of crisis management," he said. "It's a complicated world and it's a dangerous world, but the way they evaluate you is how you handle it in the aftermath. If you do it in an honest way, then you protect yourself."

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Mark Felsenthal and Paul Eckert; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Who will win 'American Idol'? We rather know who's leaving

Posted: 09 May 2013 08:54 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Viewers are gearing up to crown the first female winner of American Idol in six years, but the biggest drama at the once-dominant Fox TV singing contest is taking place backstage over which of the celebrity judges will be voted off.

Audiences for what was the most-watched TV show in the United States for eight years have slumped to new lows in the current 12th season, despite the addition of singers Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban to the judging panel.

Veteran record producer Randy Jackson, the only member of the panel to have been with the show since it started in 2002, announced on Thursday that he was quitting after viewers vote for their winner next week.

Jackson's announcement came a day after entertainment website TheWrap reported that Carey, Minaj and Urban would not be asked back, along with the show's longtime executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe. said that Fox television was turning against paying huge salaries for big-name judges, only to see ratings fall.

Fox and production company FremantleMedia on Thursday declined to comment on the overhaul reported by TheWrap that have overshadowed the battle between singers Angie Miller, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison to reach the two-part finale.

Carey, one of the world's best-known recording artists, is getting a reported US$17 million salary, with rapper Minaj pulling in about US$12 million and country singer Urban around US$7 million a year for their jobs on the contest.

Audiences for American Idol have fallen to around 12 million viewers per episode in recent months, compared to about 30 million during the show's heyday in 2006 and 2007.

The show is facing stiff competition from NBC rival The Voice.

The report by TheWrap followed a story in The Hollywood Reporter last month that said producers had considered a mid-season replacement of Carey with Jennifer Lopez, who had quit the panel in 2012.

A Fox television spokeswoman termed that report "another ridiculous Idol judge rumor."


Minaj told Idol host Ryan Seacrest in a Thursday interview for his E! News show that she enjoyed being a judge. But she dodged the issue of whether she would be back.

"I feel happy here and I have to thank them for giving me this chance. They could have picked anyone in the world. And they picked me. So that's all I'll say about that," Minaj said.

Lyndsey Parker, managing editor of Yahoo! Music, said that Minaj had been met with a backlash from the core, middle-aged and family Idol audience, especially after reports last year of a feud between her and Carey.

"I think they were hoping she would bring in some kind of youthful audience but that doesn't appear to have happened," Parker told Reuters.

As for Carey, "she came to the panel with a lot more credibility than many others, but I don't think she is very good TV - a little bit low energy - and she rambles," Parker said.

The backstage drama comes in a strong season for women, with female singers dominating the final rounds for the first time in years.

On Thursday night, Seacrest will announce which contestants viewers have chosen to be in the finale in Los Angeles next Wednesday and Thursday.

Battling for the two spots are piano-playing pop singer Miller, 18, from Massachusetts; former travel agent turned powerhouse soul singer Glover, 23, from South Carolina; and 22-year-old country singer Harrison, from Texas, whose personal story and the loss of both her parents has won as many hearts as her voice.

Whoever is crowned the new American Idol will be the first female winner since Jordin Sparks in 2007.

Randy Jackson leaving 'American Idol' after 12 years

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:30 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Veteran "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson said on Thursday he was leaving the Fox TV singing contest to focus on his other business ventures.

Jackson, who has been a judge on the show since its start in 2002, made the announcement amid falling ratings and rampant rumors about the future makeup of the celebrity panel.

"Yo! Yo! Yo! To put all of the speculation to the rest, after 12 years of judging on American Idol I have decided it is time to leave after this season," Jackson told entertainment news outlet E! News.

"I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry. It's been a life changing opportunity but I am looking forward to focusing on my company Dream Merchant 21 and other business ventures," the record producer said.

Entertainment website reported this week that producers were considering a major shake-up of the panel after the end of the season on May 16.

Citing unidentified sources, TheWrap said singers Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and country artist Keith Urban, who were brought in this year in a bid to refresh the show, would all be replaced as judges for the 2014 season.

Fox television declined to comment on the report.

Ratings have slumped this season for "American Idol," which last year lost its eight-year crown as the most-watched show on U.S. television. Fox is a unit of NewsCorp. -Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Murray battles past Simon and into Madrid quarters

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:05 PM PDT

MADRID: Andy Murray battled his way into the quarter-finals of the Madrid Masters with a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(8/6) victory over 16th seed Gilles Simon in just shy of three hours.

The world number three started in the worst possible fashion as he was broken in the opening game and Simon went onto break again as he comfortably took the first set 6-2.

Murray seemed to have turned the match around when he took the second, after being down an early break, 6-4 and then surged 3-0 ahead in the third.

However, Simon broke back to level at 3-3 and then saved three match points to take the set to a tie-break.

The Scot though eventually got the job done with his sixth match point in the tie-break to set up a meeting with Tomas Berdych in the last eight. - AFP

Olympic sailing medallist killed after America's Cup boat capsizes

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:26 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO: British double Olympic sailing medallist Andrew Simpson died Thursday after the catamaran of a Swedish team training for the upcoming America's Cup races capsized on San Francisco Bay, officials said.

Simpson - who won Olympic gold in 2008 and silver in 2012 in the keelboat star class - was trapped under the Artemis Racing boat for about 10 minutes, according to a statement on the America's Cup website.

"It is with immense sadness that Artemis Racing confirms the tragic death of crew member Andrew 'Bart' Simpson today in San Francisco," the team said in a statement.

"Despite attempts to revive him, by doctors afloat and subsequently ashore, his life was lost," it said.

"The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened," said Artemis chief executive Paul Cayard. "Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew's wife and family."

A spokesman for the San Francisco Fire Department, Mindy Talmadge, said Simpson was pronounced dead at the St Francis Yacht Club.

"Our despatch centre was notified... that an Artemis boat had capsized and one person was reportedly in the water 10 or 15 minutes. One of the chase boats pulled the gentleman out of the water and began CPR," Talmadge told AFP.

"Rescue workers continued CPR as the man was transported to the St Francis Yacht Club, where paramedics were waiting. Unfortunately, they ended up pronouncing him dead at the Saint Francis Yacht Club," she said.

A second crew member suffered injuries not thought to be life threatening, she said. Twelve people were on the boat when it capsized and all have been accounted for.

The yacht involved is a AC72 catamaran, the Swedish team's first, according to the online statement, which said the incident occurred between 12.30pm and 1pm (1930-2000 GMT).

The AC72 boats in the America's Cup were described by event organisers as "speedsters" powered by 130-foot (39.6m) tall wing sails and with the ability to hydrofoil - essentially rise out of the water to reduce drag.

They can reach top speeds in excess of twice the windspeed, and place strenuous physical demands on crew members.

The catamarans have been adopted for the venerable yachting competition this year in a bid to make the event more exciting.

The Oracle syndicate, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, defeated Switzerland's Alinghi in a trimaran to win the last edition of the America's Cup in 2010.

Ellison pushed for the switch to the catamarans as part of an effort to make the event more television-friendly.

The Louis Vuitton Cup to decide a challenger will be held July 4 through Sept 1. The winner will take on Oracle Racing for the America's Cup from Sept 7-22.

Oracle Racing's AC72 capsized in spectacular fashion in October on San Francisco Bay, but no one was injured.

Veteran skipper Russell Coutts capsized a similar catamaran in San Francisco Bay in June 2011.

Talmadge said she did not know what sequence of events led to the Artemis Racing craft's capsizing.

The Artemis team was aware of the challenges and dangers as they planned their preparations for the competition, and hoped to give their crew members adequate opportunity to learn to handle the AC72.

"Before performance, there is the safety of our team," Cayard said when they launched their boat in Spain last year. "San Francisco Bay in July and August is an unforgiving place." - AFP

Furious Chong Wei blasts BWF for Lin Dan inclusion

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:41 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: China's superstar Lin Dan will defend his title in the World Championships after all – albeit through the back door. And the news has left his nemesis Lee Chong Wei quite upset.

Yesterday, the Badminton World Federation (BWF)'s decided to award a wild card to four-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan to participate in this year's edition from Aug 5-11 in Guangzhou.

The BWF's Committee of Management chose the world No. 41 ranked Lin Dan as the sole wild card entry because the latter had failed to qualify for the world meet on merit after staying away from tournaments for eight months since retaining the gold medal at the London Games last year.

The committee said they were compelled to choose the 29-year-old Chinese because they felt his stature and fan appeal would significantly enhance the event.

With the decision, China will have a maximum of four players in Guangzhou.

The other three who qualified are reigning All-England champion Chen Long, Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming.

World No. 1 Chong Wei was not pleased the decision, describing it as "unfair."

"How can BWF give another slot to China when they already have three players in the fray," said Chong Wei.

Would it not made more sense to give the wild card to a country who have no representative in the world championships?

"A player can stay away for eight months and still be considered for the world championships! What about the others who have worked hard to qualify for the event.

"He is one of the players, who had conceded walkovers and turned his back on BWF's tournaments many times. Yet, he is rewarded with a wild card.

"I do not know what to say about BWF's rules and regulations any more.

"Rather than qualifying, I should have waited for a wild card too."

According to BWF's ruling on qualification for the world meet, a country can have three representatives if they are in the top eight of the world rankings.

And a country can have four players in the event if they are ranked in the top 24.

Chong Wei said that his reaction had nothing to do with his fear of facing Lin Dan although the Chinese had been his biggest stumbling block in all the major tournaments.

"Initially, I did not want to say anything because people will assume that I fear him. No, this is not the reason," he said.

"I do not mind if he qualifies as anyone else" added Chong Wei.

"I am sure everyone wants to see both of us play and yes, that will be good for the sport.

"But I do not agree with the way it is being done right now ... that's all."


The Star Online: Business

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KLCI falls nearly 14pts at opening, but seen overdone

Posted: 09 May 2013 06:14 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips fell at the start of Friday's trade as the market extended its consolidation phase, with investors seen taking profit on banks and Genting Bhd, but the selling could be overdone as the broader market displayed resilience and trading volume low.

At 9am, the FBM KLCI was down 13.76 points to 1,752.31. Turnover was 18.86 million shares valued at RM15.39mil. There were 70 gainers, 36 losers and 86 counters unchanged.

Maybank Investment Bank Research said the KLCI's resistance level of 1,766 and 1,826 will cap market gains, whilst obvious support areas are located at 1,718 and 1,764.

It said the KLCI's recent swings were: 1,699.68 (high), 1,597.00 (low), 1,664.39 (high) and 1,613.94 (low).

"We prefer to take a Trading' stance on the index as a gap-up move between 1,718.44 (previous all-time high) and 1,743.14 (Monday's low) has emerged. As the key blue chips were softer, there were rotational activities into mid-cap and lower liner stocks. Pre-weekend profit-taking may emerge today," it said.

Petronas Dagangan fell 56 sen to RM23.80, Genting 38 sen to RM10.42 while Petronas Chemicals gave up 20 sen to RM6.38 and Tenaga fell nine sen to RM8.18.

Among the banks, HL Bank lost 28 sen to RM14.32, Maybank eight sen to RM9.90 and CIMB six sen to RM8.25.

As for plantations, heavyweight Sime Darby lost 23 sen to RM9.28 and PPB Group six sen lower at RM12.84.

CIMB Research upgrades construction sector to Overweight

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:59 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Equities Research is upgrading Malaysia's construction sector from Neutral to Overweight and raised all stocks to Outperform with Gamuda and Mudajaya as the top picks.

It said on Friday, in the medium term, it expects greater conviction on the part of the government in the rollout of major projects.

"We scale back RNAV discounts by 10 to 20 percentage points across the board and raise our target construction price-to-earnings (P/E) from 13.5 times to our new target market P/E of 15.6 times," it said.

CIMB Research said post elections, public transportation upgrade returns as the key theme for the sector.

"We expect to see a revival of this theme in H2, 2013. The list of projects is no different but the scenario has changed in that there is now continuity of the government's public transport upgrade initiatives under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

"There seems to be similar optimism on the ground. SPAD said that the recent elections have made it even more motivated to continue with the public transport transformation plan," said the research house.

It added that the MRT Corp had stated the public should expect more news on MRT 2 & 3 in the coming weeks or months.

CIMB Research said that political risks have been considerably reduced, putting the spotlight on the RM40bil to RM50bil MRT 2 & 3, RM30bil KL-Singapore high speed rail (HSR), various rail and double tracking upgrades, and the RM8bil Gemas-Johor Baru double tracking.

Consolidation on Bursa Malaysia set to continue

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:45 PM PDT

Published: Friday May 10, 2013 MYT 8:45:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Hwang DBS Vickers Research (HDBSVR) expects the consolidation pattern on the Malaysian bourse to carry on for a while more.

"After a jump of 71.3-point or 4.2% thus far this week, the benchmark FBM KLCI is expected to digest the recent gains by swinging between 1,750 and 1,785 in the meantime," it said on Friday. HDBSVR said that news flows to be out around noon include the monthly plantation report for April. The latest statistics on production, export and inventory may cause movements in the crude palm oil (CPO) price, which has been stuck between RM2,200 and RM2,600 per tonne since late September last year. The research house said on the corporate front, there could be share price actions in CIMB, as the banking group has decided to resume with its dual listing plan in Thailand.

Also attracting interest could be Encorp, which secured a RM42.7mil contract to construct buildings.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Bertolucci to lead Venice film festival jury

Posted: 09 May 2013 03:41 AM PDT

ROME: Oscar-winning Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci will lead this year's Venice film festival jury, organisers said on Thursday, defining the filmmaker as "one of the most influential in cinema history".

Bertolucci, 72, the author of "The Conformist", "Last Tango in Paris" and "The Last Emperor" among many others, will decide on the Golden Lion prize at the festival which begins on August 28.

"Few directors can bring together like Bertolucci a long experience with the fact of living in the present of cinematography," festival director Alberto Barbera said in a statement.

Bertolucci, who previously headed the jury in 1983, accepted the post, saying the festival "manages to probe the most mysterious cinematographic niches of the most mysterious countries in the world".

Bertolucci started out working with Pier Paolo Pasolini on "Accattone" (1961) and his latest film "Me and You" came out in 2012.

"The Last Emperor" in 1987 won nine Oscars and was the first and only Italian film to receive a golden statue for best director.-AFP

'Jurassic Park 4' movie put on hold

Posted: 09 May 2013 01:10 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The anticipated June 2014 release of the fourth installment of Jurassic Park, one of the highest-grossing film franchises, has been put on hold, Universal Pictures said on Wednesday.

The decision was made to give "the studio and filmmakers adequate time to bring audiences the best possible version" of Jurassic Park 4, the studio said in a statement.

The film was slated to be released in theatres on June 13, 2014. Universal has yet to announce a new date for the release.

The three Jurassic Park films generated US$1.9 billion in worldwide ticket sales between 1993 and 2001, according to the movie website Box Office Mojo.

Steven Spielberg directed the first two and will be taking on the executive producer role for the fourth film, while newcomer Colin Trevorrow will direct.

No announcement has been made on casting or on whether franchise stars Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough will return.

The first film, released in 1993, captured audiences with its story of a theme park of cloned dinosaurs and generated US$967 million in worldwide ticket sales, according Box Office Mojo, ranking 16th among best-selling films in the United States.

It has generated US$400.9 million in domestic sales to date, including $42.5 million from its limited theatrical re-release in 3D in April.

'Stepford Wives' director Bryan Forbes dies aged 86

Posted: 08 May 2013 05:18 PM PDT

LONDON: British film director Bryan Forbes, who made the 1970s sci-fi horror classic "The Stepford Wives", has died aged 86, a family friend said on Wednesday.

Forbes passed away at his home in Surrey, southern England, "following a long illness" and was surrounded by his family, including the actress Nanette Newman, according to his friend, the journalist Matthew D'Ancona.

"Bryan Forbes was a titan of cinema, known and loved by people around the world in the film and theatre industries and known in other fields including politics," D'Ancona said in a statement.

"He is simply irreplaceable and it is wholly apt that he died surrounded by his family."

"The Stepford Wives" (1975) based on a novella by Ira Levin, tells the story of a woman who moves to a conservative American town only to find out that the bland, submissive women who live there are actually robots.

Forbes also directed "Whistle Down the Wind" (1961), about three English farm children who discover a fugitive living in their barn and believe he is Jesus. - AFP


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Three possible causes of William Yau's death

Posted: 09 May 2013 07:30 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: There were three possibilities which caused the death of six-year-old William Yau Zhen Zhong who went missing in Putra Heights on Jan 16, a Coroner's Court was told.

Pathologist Dr Nur Ayutimasery Abdullah, 38, said firstly, the boy could have been hit by a strong force on the head and died.

Secondly, he could have fallen into a drain filled with water and fractured his skull and died; and thirdly he fell into the drain, knocked his head and died.

To a question by DPP Lee Keng Fatt on the possibility that the boy drowned, Dr Nur Ayutimasery said: "No."

Dr Nur Ayutimasery from Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, explained that a person who died due to drowning would have its lungs filled with water and there would be foam in the respiratory tract which came out from the nose and mouth.

"In this case, I did not find any of these symptoms as the body had decomposed," she said adding that she conducted an autopsy on the body on Jan 25.

She said the boy died a week before the post-mortem was conducted.

Dr Nur Ayutimasery was giving her testimony in the inquest into the death of the boy who was found dead at the Kampung Sungai Sireh jetty in Port Klang on Jan 24, eight days after he was reported missing in Jalan Putra Mahkota, Putra Heights.

William's father Yau Kok Kang and his mother Goh Ying Ying had gone to an electrical shop on that day to buy a washing machine, leaving William and his two other siblings in the car.

Explaining on what she meant by "animal activities" in her post-mortem report, Dr Nur Ayutimasery said when a body was abandoned especially outside the house, predators would come and eat the body and lay eggs. She said signs of animal activities were traced on the deceased's buttock, right forehead, scalp, left calf and neck; and fractures on his skull and right rib cage.

Asked whether she agreed that the cause of the fracture on the skull was due to blunt force trauma, she replied, "Yes, I agree."

She also said there was no possibility of William Yau having been abused.

Questioned by Coroner Mohd Hezri Shaharil on scratch marks found on the deceased body, she said from the shape of the marks, it could have been caused by the paws of cats or dogs.

The inquest continues on Monday.

GE13: Lay off MB issue, Wanita PKR chief Zuraida tells DAP, PAS

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:32 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Wanita PKR chief Zuraida Kamaruddin (pix) wants coalition partners DAP and PAS to stay out of the Selangor Mentri Besar issue.

In an interview with news portal Antara Pos, Zuraida said: "When I read the newspapers that PAS and DAP wanted the MB to be retained...and Rani (Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abdul Rani Osman) said he's ready to be the MB.

"I thought, what is wrong with these people? Are they power crazy? Are they crazy for titles?" she added.

Zuraida, re-elected Ampang MP in Sunday's polls, said: "A decision has yet to be made by PKR (on MB's post). The post is for Keadilan (PKR), why are they so eager to offer themselves and to name anyone for the post?"

On Twitter, Zuraida had congratulated Puchong PKR division leader S.Murali for expressing his support for PKR deputy president Azmin Ali as the Mentri Besar.

Azmin's brother, TV personality Azwan Ali, had also thrown his support behind Azmin.

"I have heard this news about my brother becoming MB since 2011, so it isn't something new.

"It is a real bonus for Selangor because he is a great leader and will bring the state to greater heights," Azwan was quoted as saying.

PAS and DAP won 15 state seats each while PKR managed one less with 14 in Sunday's polls. However, PAS and DAP have endorsed Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as mentri besar.

The controversy about who should be mentri besar surfaced in October last year when Azmin reportedly said that Khalid would have to vacate the post as he would be made a minister should Pakatan Rakyat forms the federal government.

Azmin later clarified that his statement was taken out of context.

Azmin retained the Gombak parliamentary and Bukit Antarabangsa state seat at Sunday's polls.

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

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GE13: Khalid and Azmin in tussle over Malaysia's richest state
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GE13: Khalid Ibrahim awaits PR nod on second term as MB

GE13: Foreign envoys congratulate Barisan on polls victory

Posted: 09 May 2013 04:53 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign envoys congratulated Barisan Nasional's victory in the 13th general election under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and commended the election process, saying it was conducted in a democratic way.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in congratulating Najib, said the victory was achieved under his able leadership.

He also congratulated Najib on his reappointment as the Malaysian prime minister and noted that the scenario could be construed as a strong backing for the policies of Barisan.

In a statement issued by the Iranian embassy here, Ahmadinejad said he was optimistic that bilateral relations under Najib's leadership and guidance would continue to grow strongly and "increase by the day, more so than in the past."

"I pray that Allah grants your excellency and the government and people of Malaysia good health, success and prosperity," he said.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's ambassador-designate, Prof Dr Qaley Allahverdiyev, said that the polls were conducted in a very democratic and peaceful way.

"Taking into consideration that there were protests which took place last year and earlier this year, the recent election and the campaigns were really good," he said.

In congratulating Najib, he hoped that Barisan would fulfill all its promises and that "the people can feel or understand the changes that they will do for the betterment of the country."

Ukraine ambassador Ihor V. Humennyi said he was impressed with the elections, including the campaigns, which were well-organised and peaceful.

The Malaysian people's active involvement in the election proved that democratice development in the country was getting stronger and people were more politically conscious, he said in a statement.

However, he noted that the election results revealed polarisation of the Malaysian society on ethnic grounds and hoped that this could be overcome.

The May 5 polls saw Barisan returned to power, fending off a strong challenge from the Pakatan Rakyat, after winning 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats to form the new federal government. - Bernama


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Italian label Ermenegildo Zegna dresses up the modern dandy

Posted: 08 May 2013 04:53 PM PDT

Ermenegildo Zegna celebrates the inherent beauty and wearability of superfine Australian wool.

THERE is certainly something to be said about a man in a good suit. Currently, we see a trend for the younger generation of guys to embrace a need for suiting up – whether it be for business, or to fulfil a more casual inclination.

While it would seem that some men are rather unfussy about the designs they put on, the make and material of a particular suit nevertheless have come to be held in high regard.

Which isn't so much off the mark with respect to a reconciliation of style for the modern dandy. After all, you could say that fashion trends come and go, but the appreciation for exceptional quality in a garment will certainly remain.

Take for example Italian luxury menswear label, Ermenegildo Zegna. Its legacy denotes a lasting heritage and tradition in dressing men with fine, well-cut suits. The focus is not only on the facets of design, but also the fundamentals of material selection and manufacture.

Founded in 1910, Ermenegildo Zegna has remained a family business till today – and it is now managed by the fourth generation of the Zegna family. What started as a mere textile company is now globally recognised for being a successful fashion brand.

As general merchandising manager and group fashion co-ordinator for Ermenegildo Zegna, Stefano Miglio says: "The success of the Zegna name is attributed to the company's efforts to be the first amongst its peers."

"With change, you cannot be a follower. You have to be a leader – both in the past, in real time and in the future," commented Miglio during an interview with Star2 in Sydney, Australia recently.

Which says a lot about Ermenegildo Zegna's relevance in today's fashion. Miglio explained that the label updates its designs frequently. "We stay current with the trends so our customers constantly have an updated look created with quality fabrics."

With regard to suiting, the use of superfine wool has always been the material of choice for Ermenegildo Zegna. After all, there are few fibres in the world, natural or man-made, that can offer all the characteristics of pure, high-quality wool.

Especially so when it comes to Merino wool. Merinos are regarded as having some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep and in Australia – where the country is reported to have a perfect climate for the breed – the wool growers there have flourished with the production of this prized material.

According to Miglio, the wool industry is evolving very much compared to the past. He said: "In the very early years, wool was mainly for winterwear – but now wool is becoming the yarn that we use for a variety of fabrics. Wool is becoming more and more transitional."

With an apt reverence to this, the company has established the annual Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Awards. The namesake event has awarded and rewarded the Australian wool growers' commitment to quality since 1963, this year being the 50th anniversary of its founding.

The 50th Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Awards in Sydney saw VIPs, celebrities and friends of Zegna in attendance.

The event also featured what was reported as the longest men's fashion show in Australia, with more than 60 male models outfitted in the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection and the presentation of the Australian Celebration Collection, a capsule dedicated to celebrate Zegna's golden relationship with Australia.

Miglio described the capsule collection as a combination of old and new. He also explained that it was a nod to the 60s with the unveiling of an exclusive new fabric: the Trofeo Natural Comfort.

"In a classic pied-de-poule pattern inspired by the styles produced in the 1960s, and in reference to the winning wools from the first Wool Awards, the Trofeo is the feature in the capsule collection."

Gracing the event were Gildo Zegna, CEO of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group and chairman Paolo Zegna. They announced the winner of the 50th Edition Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Award for Superfine Wool and the prestigious Vellus Aureum Trophy, both won by Ed and Jill Hundy of Windradeen farm in New South Wales.

The Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Award for Superfine Wool (18.5 microns and finer) evaluates fleeces according to the following criteria: trueness of type, conformity and length, soundness, handle, colour, character, density, evenness, yield and quality. The Vellus Aureum Trophy then takes it even further, judging wool that are finer than 13.9 microns.

Guests were joined by some big names during the evening. Australian movie star, Chris Hemsworth (who's now based in Hollywood), Korean-American actor, Daniel Henney and Beijing-born, Hong Kong-based actor-singer, Leon Lai all made appearances to commemorate the important milestone.

No stranger to dressing up, the trio certainly embodied the spirit of impeccable style which Ermenegildo Zegna champions. While Hemsworth wore an Ermenegildo Zegna three-piece suit ensemble from the Australian Celebration Collection, Lai and Henney chose a two-piece and double-breasted suit respectively, both from the label's Autumn/Winter 2013 collection.

Related Story:
From farm to fashion

From farm to fashion

Posted: 08 May 2013 04:53 PM PDT

TO have a better understanding of the type of wool Ermenegildo Zegna uses, media members were brought on a farm tour of Armidale in the New South Wales region of Australia.

There, within this nucleus that hundreds of Australian wool growers call home, we had the opportunity of witnessing firsthand the process of which wool is grown.

From the history of wool growing in Australia, right up to the intricacies of shearing process and beyond, it proved to be an eye-opener. It also helped to make us appreciate all the hard work that goes into producing superfine Merino fleeces.

While it only takes one-third of a particular sheep's wool to make an Ermenegildo Zegna suit, the effort to bring about such fine quality of wool is nothing to be taken lightly.

It should also be noted that a Zegna suit is made only of the finest parts of the Merino sheep. The fleece from the sides and shoulders are chosen for its superior quality and only these are taken into consideration when the label purchases the superfine wool it requires for suiting.

rIt is this connection – one that defines the link between the dusty farm roads and the sleek runway – that Ermenegildo Zegna has always sought to remember, as the wool produced by the wool growers build the foundation of the fashion we celebrate.

Related Story:
Italian label Ermenegildo Zegna dresses up the modern dandy

A new facade

Posted: 09 May 2013 03:53 AM PDT

Zara is back with a new collection and it's a commendable one for Spring.

WITH spanking new refurbished stores in Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, popular Spanish brand Zara is back with a bang. Both the Women's and Men's stores got the makeover treatment.

Now it's easier to shop because each of the sub-collections has its own space and so it's more systematic.

What has also received a fresh look is Zara's fashion; their Spring/Summer 2013 collection is vibrant and bright with some colours even doing the acid trip route. Both the women's and the men's collections feature a bright light orange that is the colour of the season. Add to that bright apple green, blue and red.

Of course, we can't do without our usual blacks and whites, and the shades in between and some earthy nude shades.

For this writer, the most welcome theme is the use of ethnic prints, especially with the men's collections. The brand has referenced some tribal motifs from countries across the region including the seldom used Laotian-inspired prints.

What's impressive is that they look fashionable and trendy. The ethnic print detailing is used on many of the items – nice little touches on cuffs, collars and even on pockets.

There are two-tone strips, different colour buttons, brocade-work, sleeve patches and stitchwork details on many of the clothes, both men and women. This is a collection that pays as much time and detail to the men.

For women, there are the basics that one cannot do without. The collection is enhanced by more luxurious fabrics for those that want a more sophisticated look.

Meanwhile, sporty looks for men feature shorts that play a key role this season. The office wear range offers shirts and suits that are more structured while military and sporty jackets make a comeback.

The ladies have lots of accessories to play around with and shoes including gladiator heels come in solid colours. To make a quirky statement, one can pair feminine dresses with sporty shoes. – S.S.Yoga

For the women's collection, prices range from RM79.90 to RM999 with the accessories going for RM49.90 to RM599. The men's range is from RM119.90 to RM999 with accessories from RM59.90 to RM599. Available at all Zara stores in the Klang Valley.


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DBKL issues slope alert

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:08 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR City Hall (DBKL) has issued a slope alert for the next few weeks due to the current rainy spell.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib said DBKL officers and contractors will be on alert to prevent any mishaps, adding that Public Works Institute of Malaysia (Ikram) has been roped in to assess slope stability in landslip prone areas in the city.

"We have identified high-risk areas such as Federal Hill, Kampung Attap, Langgak Tunku and several areas in Cheras with hilly terrains," Ahmad Phesal said.

He the team would be monitoring hilly terrains where soil had been loosened due to heavy rain.

He also said DBKL has deployed a team from their Landscape and Recreation Department to monitor areas with big, old trees.

"Heavy rain and strong winds have uprooted trees or caused branches to break and fall off," he said.

Ahmad Phesal advised the public to take safety measures to protect lives and property.

Tuesday's thunderstorm caused damage in many areas of the city, resulting in landslips.

"Rainfall was recorded at 147mm in many areas and that is a very high reading," Ahmad Phesal said.

He said five areas were badly affected, including a private parking lot in Jalan Ampang, where nine cars were damaged in a landslip.

Other areas include Jalan Mahameru, opposite Wisma Tani, Jalan Sultan Salahuddin, Jalan Kasah, Medan Damansara and Taman Shanghai in Jalan Kelang Lama.

Over in Jalan Mahameru, parts of a road near the Jalan Parlimen junction, leading to the Putra World Trade Centre PWTC, was closed to traffic to facilitate cleaning works by DBKL contractors.

At Sam Mansion in Kampung Atap, a huge tree fell and damaged several cars parked there.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment said the Klang Valley would experience thunderstorms in the evenings until the end of May.

The depart­ment's forecast said rain was expected almost every day now, as this was a normal occurrence during the inter-monsoon season.

For details, call 03-7967 8116.

Fixing the damage in Bukit Gasing

Posted: 09 May 2013 05:11 AM PDT

PETALING Jaya City Council (MBPJ) workers were kept busy clearing broken tree branches and debris on Jalan 5/60 and 5/64 in Bukit Gasing yesterday morning following a downpour on Tuesday night.

MBPJ personnel from the council's Quick Response Team as well as Fire and Rescue Department personnel were on hand to help clear the roads.

The landslip is the latest to occur, after a similar incident in Jalan 5/64 on Sunday afternoon.

Nearer to Fraser Tower, contractors were seen cutting an uprooted tree which had fallen and damaged a resident's car on Tuesday night as she was driving back to her condominium.

MBPJ Engineering Department deputy director Abdul Shukor Mohamed Noor and slope consultants engaged by the council to find ways to strengthen the slope also visited the site yesterday morning to assess the situation.

Council public relations officer Zainun Zakaria said a preliminary study on May 6 found that the slope failure area covered 1,625 sq m, and was due to soil erosion.

Among the possible causes of the slope failure was the sloping topography and constant heavy rain.

"We have put in place short-term measures, such as clearing trees and undergrowth at the affected area and near drains, as well as placing tarpaulin on the surface to prevent erosion," said Zainun.

In addition, a contractor has been hired to build a gabion wall along Jalan 5/60, measuring two to three metres in height, to prevent mud flow.

The uprooted tree, blocking the roads was also cut up and removed.

Zainun said the council would be using the prism method to monitor soil movement.

For the long-term, however, a soil nailing system, together with a beam grid, will be used to create a berm along the slope.

Additionally, the drainage system near the slope will also be upgraded to reduce water seeping into the soil.

"The contractor for the soil nailing project also just received his letter of appointment today, and will start clearance work as soon as possible to prevent further mishaps," said Zainun.

The contractor has been given seven months to complete the project.


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