Selasa, 14 Mei 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Christina Aguilera in talks to return to 'The Voice'

Posted: 14 May 2013 08:45 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pop singer Christina Aguilera is in discussions to return as a judge on NBC television singing competition The Voice next season, sources with knowledge of the talks said on Tuesday.

Aguilera, 32, went on hiatus from the program this season to promote her latest album, Lotus, with a concert tour. The singer (pic) had been a judge on the first three seasons of the program, which debuted in 2011.

The sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the talks, said the former Disney child star would earn about US$12 million to serve as a judge, less than the US$15 million Britney Spears reportedly earned on rival The X Factor.

Representatives for Aguilera and NBC did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Aguilera and R&B singer Cee Lo Green both left the show last year. They were replaced by Colombian singer Shakira and R&B singer Usher, who joined returning judges country singer Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, frontman of pop-rock band Maroon 5.

If Aguilera returns, it was unclear who she would replace on the current judging panel when the next season starts in September.

The Voice, which competes against rival broadcaster Fox's singing contests American Idol and The X Factor, averages about 14 million viewers over its two weekly shows.

Its finale is set for June 18.

Upfront season in the US

Posted: 15 May 2013 01:21 AM PDT

Some of your favourite TV shows will not be returning for a new season. Ever.

IT'S upfront season in the United States! Upfront is a period in the US television industry during which broadcasters and networks announce new, returning and cancelled programmes for the coming months.

Last week, a number of major networks revealed what they have in store for viewers, and which shows have received the unkindest cuts. More shows will be unveiled throughout this week, and we do hope some of our favourite shows will survive the "ordeal".

Among the programmes that have been renewed for the 2013-2014 season include numerous shows on Astro like Criminal Minds (Fox), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (AXN), Blue Bloods (Diva Universal), Community (Fox), The Good Wife (Diva Universal), Modern Family (Fox), Nashville (beTV) and Once Upon A Time (Fox Movies Premium); on HyppTV like Arrow (Warner TV), Chicago Fire (Universal), The Big Bang Theory (Warner TV) and The Mentalist (Warner TV); as well as shows on free-to-air TV including 2 Broke Girls (last seen on 8TV), The Carrie Diaries (8TV), The Vampire Diaries (8TV) and Nikita (Ntv7 and Warner TV).

Meanwhile, shows that have either ended their run or have been cancelled include the long-running CSI: NY (AXN), the cult favourite Fringe (formerly on Fox) and the multiple-award winning 30 Rock which, unfortunately, stopped showing here a long time ago. In Malaysia, TV channels Diva Universal and Star World seem to have suffered the most blows with series like Don't Trust the B* In Apartment 23, Touch, Body Of Proof, and 90210 (Star World), as well as Smash, Up All Night, Go On and Guys With Kids (Diva Universal) all cancelled or ending within the next few months.

And then there's the cancellation of the ever-hilarious Happy Endings (why?!), which was previously shown on Star World. It's amah-zing (a catchphrase from Happy Endings) how sitcoms like New Girl and Two And A Half Men can survive and Happy Endings can't. But then again, this is just a personal grouse from a disappointed fan.

Also a surprise is the continuing survival of reality-based programmes like America's Next Top Model, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (all of which are/were on Star World's schedule). Guess the market for reality shows is growing stronger each season.

Apart from all these renewals and cancellations, there are also some brand new shows that look promising. One of the biggest – and most exciting – news to hit the stands is the ordering of Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. to a full series. It revolves around the lives of S.H.I.E.L.D (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) agents and the mysterious cases they work on. Clark Gregg, who has played Agent Phil Coulson in four of Marvels' superhero films (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and The Avengers), leads the cast in this new programme, alongside actors Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward), Ming-Na Wen (Agent Melinda May), Iain De Caestecker (Agent Leo Fitz) and Elizabeth Henstridge (Agent Jemma Simmons).

Oh, and one little thing: Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is directed and co-written by Joss Whedon. There's no US release date yet, but there is a promotional clip that suggests it's "coming soon". It would be really great, and wise, if one of the channels in Malaysia could pick this series up.

Another interesting new show is The Michael J. Fox Show that stars, er, Michael J. Fox. The sitcom is about news anchor Mike Burnaby who returns to work after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which the 51-year-old actor is also suffering from. It would be nice to see Fox in action on a sitcom again, even though he did a good job playing a recurring role of a lawyer in The Good Wife.

There's also a new drama called Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, which is a spin-off of Once Upon A Time. Loosely based on Alice In Wonderland, it stars Sophie Lowe, Peter Gadiot, Michael Socha and Emma Rigby, with John Lithgow providing the voice for the White Rabbit. Not sure how this one will pan out but it does have some interesting visuals so far.

While we wait for local channels to reveal which shows they will pick up from the ongoing upfront season, let's divert our attention to one programme that's currently playing on Malaysian TV – How I Met Your Mother. Star World is airing the latest season (that would be season eight), although we're a little behind from the US air date. The finale was shown in the US on Monday and "The Mother" is finally revealed! If you don't want any spoilers, then avoid entertainment news portals at all cost.

Tell us which of the new TV shows that you most likely want to see aired in Malaysia, and we'll inform the TV channels and networks here. Tweet us at @MyStarTwo.

Supernatural back with new season

Posted: 15 May 2013 03:13 AM PDT

Do the Winchester brothers still have their hunting groove on?

I don't know why, but my main thought leading up to the premiere of Supernatural's eighth season was a fervent hope that this would not be the season the show jumps the shark for me.

Perhaps it had something to do with the finale of the previous season: The Winchester brothers had destroyed head Leviathan Dick Roman (James Patrick Stuart) – the chief baddie of the season – but at the expense of Dean (Jensen Ackles), Castiel (Misha Collins), Prophet of the Lord Kevin Tran (Osric Chau) and demon Meg (Rachel Miner).

As those who follow the show know, Dean and Castiel got caught up in the backlash of Roman's explosive demise, sending them to Purgatory – the prison from which the Leviathans escaped – thanks to Castiel's misguided attempts to gain enough power to win the civil war in Heaven back in Season Six.

There, in the home of all the worst monsters in creation, Castiel promptly wigs out, leaving Dean to face the horrors of Purgatory all alone.

In the meantime, King of Hell Crawley (Mark A. Sheppard), now once again the baddest supernatural monster around with Roman gone, quickly grabs Kevin and Meg, and mocks Sam (Jared Padalecki), who has seemingly lost everyone he cares about, and is left all alone to carry on the fight ... or not.

The heart of Supernatural has always been the relationship between the two brothers, and their separation didn't seem to bode well for the show.

Plus, I was really disappointed with the decision to let Castiel abandon Dean in the middle of the most dangerous place in creation for him; I mean, this is where all the monsters that Dean has ever killed ended up, for Pete's sake!

Anyway, it turns out that the show's producers decided to do another jump in time, and this season begins a year after the incidents in Season Seven. (The previous one-year jump was between Seasons Five and Six, when Sam was trapped in Lucifer's cage and Dean started to build a normal life with ex-flame Lisa and their son Ben.)

The first episode, appropriately (and amusingly) named We Need To Talk About Kevin, starts with Dean arriving on Earth, having successfully managed to escape Purgatory, carrying the soul of a vampire called Benny in his arm.

The two of them part ways once Dean releases Benny into a body, but their meaningful goodbye looks obviously imply a lot of history between them (and any slash fiction fans out there can get their mind out of the gutter!) from their time in Purgatory.

Sure enough, we are treated to flashbacks from both Dean and Sam about their time apart – an ongoing gimmick that seems set to be the trend for this season.

Three episodes in, and we discover how Dean came to ally with Benny, that Castiel is indeed still trapped in Purgatory with Dean and why he seemingly abandoned Dean. There's also the implication that Dean might have been responsible for Castiel's "death".

Meanwhile, Sam appears to have started living the normal life he always wanted, acquiring both a dog and a new girlfriend Amelia (Liane Balaban), and turning his back on the hunting life. So much so, that he never got the desperate voicemail from Kevin, who managed to escape from Crawley.

Kevin seems set to be part of the main story arc of the season, as he is the only one able to read a tablet containing instructions on how to permanently close the gates of Hell, effectively stopping any demons from ever manifesting on Earth again.

But Dean's willingness to kill his demon-possessed mother (Lauren Tom) in the second episode What's Up, Tiger Mommy?, wrecks his faith in the Winchesters, and he disappears into the wind with his now near-catatonic mother.

The third episode Heartache marked the return to the monster-of-the-week type episodes that are the mainstay of Supernatural. In fact, the current storyline is maintaining my interest far more than whatever may have happened in the past year, Supernatural time.

However, the main tension between the brothers – Sam wanting a normal life, and Dean insisting that they are meant to be hunters – is getting really old, really fast. Considering that Dean himself had a shot at the normal life three seasons ago and took it, it seems unfair that he would deny Sam the same chance. And Sam meanwhile has just been going on and on about wanting a normal life for way too long – ever since we first met him, in fact.

I just hope that the writers manage to solve this situation quickly before the whining really does become overbearing. After all, Supernatural has recently been picked up for another season, and showrunner Jeremy Carver has announced plans for a running story arc lasting until a possible Season 10. I certainly don't want to be too irritated by my favourite TV brothers by then!

Supernatural is showing every Friday at 10.10pm, on AXN (Astro Ch 701).


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.N. General Assembly to vote on Syria resolution; Russia opposed

Posted: 14 May 2013 09:06 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly is set to vote on Wednesday on a draft resolution that condemns Syrian authorities and accepts the opposition Syrian National Coalition as party to a potential political transition.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a news conference at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a news conference at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is opposed to the resolution, which was drafted by Qatar and other Arab nations and circulated among the 193 U.N. member states. Some Western diplomats said it was unlikely to win as many votes as a resolution that passed last year with 133 in favour.

No country has a veto in the General Assembly.

"I'm convinced a lot of countries voted for this text because they believed they were voting for the winning side," a senior western U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in reference to the August, 2012 resolution. "They are not so sure anymore."

"Now also you have the Islamist, terrorist factor which is much more conspicuous," he said.

The Syrian conflict started more than two years ago with mainly peaceful demonstrations against Assad, but turned into a civil war in which the United Nations says at least 70,000 people have been killed. Islamist militants have emerged as the most potent of the anti-Assad rebels.

Wednesday's vote comes as Washington and European governments have been mulling the benefits and risks of supplying arms to Syrian rebels.

Another senior U.N. diplomat, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said this draft resolution was stronger than the earlier resolution, prompting Russia to write to all states to complain that it was unbalanced. The diplomat said Russia had also warned that it could hinder preparations for a Syria peace conference, as agreed by Russia and the United States.

A dispute between Russia and the United States over how to end Syria's war has left the U.N. Security Council paralyzed to act. They both agreed last week to convene a peace conference on Syria, but that plan already appears to be hitting snags over who should represent the opposition.

The current draft U.N. resolution welcomes the establishment of the Syrian National Coalition "as effective representative interlocutors needed for a political transition."


But diplomats said some countries may be concerned that the draft resolution could be considered as official U.N. recognition of the coalition as the representative of the Syrian people.

"It's very likely the vote will not be as high as last year," said another senior western U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "But we clearly don't want the numbers to go below 100 or 110."

The Syrian National Coalition has been recognized by the 130 international representatives comprising the "Friends of Syria" group of nations and the Arab League as "the legitimate representative of the Syrian people."

The draft resolution condemns "all violence, irrespective of where it comes from," continued escalation in the use of heavy weapons by Syrian authorities, the shelling and shooting by Syrian troops into neighbouring nations and human rights abuses.

It also demands that the Syrian authorities grant unfettered access to a U.N. team investigating allegations that chemical weapons have been used in the conflict. The Syrian government and the opposition have accused each other of carrying out chemical weapons attacks. Both deny the accusations.

The draft resolution further welcomes Arab League decisions relevant to reaching a political solution, but does not reference an agreement by the league that member states have the right to provide military support to Syrians fighting Assad's troops.

In August there were 12 votes against the Syria resolution and 31 abstentions and some countries did not participate. Russia was among those that opposed it. China, Iran, North Korea, Belarus, Cuba and other states that often criticize the West also voted against it.

The draft resolution reaffirms U.N. support for U.N.-Arab League Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who recently agreed to stay on in the role despite his frustration at the international deadlock that has prevented Security Council action to halt the conflict.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Four men in Minnesota sentenced to prison for aiding Somali rebel group

Posted: 14 May 2013 08:26 PM PDT

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A federal judge sentenced four men to prison on Tuesday for helping recruit young men in Minnesota to travel to Somalia and fight for the militant group al Shabaab.

Investigators believe about 20 young, ethnic Somali men left Minnesota from 2007 to 2009 to go to Somalia to fight for al Shabaab, which the United States designated a terrorist organisation.

Three men who cooperated with investigators were each sentenced to three years and a fourth man was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

"These defendants, by providing material support to a designated terrorist organisation, broke both the law and the hearts of family members across the Twin Cities," U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said in a statement.

Eighteen men were charged after a four-year investigation. Eight were convicted and the rest are thought to be fugitives or to have been killed in Somalia while fighting for al Shabaab.

On Tuesday, Omer Abdi Mohamed, 28, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty in July 2011 to one count of conspiring to provide material support to co-conspirators who intended to murder, kidnap, or maim Ethiopian and Somali government troops.

Mohamed, of Minneapolis, admitted that he helped recruits get plane tickets and helped to raise money for them to travel to Somalia to fight with al Shabaab in 2007.

Three men who cooperated with investigators were each sentenced to three years in prison by Chief Judge Michael Davis in Minneapolis federal court. Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, Salah Osman Ahmed, and Ahmed Hussein Mahamud had each pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to al Shabaab.

Isse, 29, and Ahmed, 30, both of Minneapolis, admitted travelling to Somalia in December 2007, where they both stayed at al Shabaab safe-houses or training camps. They left Somalia together in the spring of 2008.

Mahamud, 28, a Westerville, Ohio, resident who had lived in a Minneapolis suburb, admitted in February 2012 that he helped provide al Shabaab with money and people from 2008 through February 2011.

Isse, Ahmed, and Mahamud testified at the trial of another man, Mahamud Said Omar, who was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison for his 2009 conviction on five counts for providing money and aiding the travel of men to Somalia for al Shabaab.

Omar, a Somali citizen who lived legally in the United States, was accused of aiding al Shabaab from September 2007 through August 2009. He was accused of providing hundreds of dollars to al Shabaab for assault rifles and of helping six men travel from Minnesota to Somalia in the fall of 2008.

Also on Monday, Davis sentenced Minneapolis resident Kamal Said Hassan, 28, to 10 years in prison. He admitted going to Somalia, where he trained at an al Shabaab camp and participated in an attack on Ethiopian soldiers, prosecutors said.

Hassan pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding al Shabaab and one of lying to investigators.

The earliest of the travellers left the United States in October and December 2007, followed by more in 2008 and 2009. Two of the travellers, Shirwa Ahmed and Farah Mohamed Beledi are believed to have blown themselves up in attacks in Somalia.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Kevin Gray and Lisa Shumaker)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Exclusive - Financial sanctions delay North Korea's nuclear arms work: U.N.

Posted: 14 May 2013 08:07 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Increasingly tough financial sanctions, an arms embargo and other international restrictions on trade with North Korea have significantly delayed expansion of Pyongyang's illicit nuclear arms program, according to a confidential report by a U.N. panel of experts seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd R) speaks during a visit to a construction site of the North Korean army, in this picture released by North Korea's KCNA news agency May 7, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd R) speaks during a visit to a construction site of the North Korean army, in this picture released by North Korea's KCNA news agency May 7, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

The latest annual report by the U.N. sanctions-monitoring group comes as the United States seeks to persuade China that applying economic and other sanctions against its neighbour is crucial to halting the program.

"While the imposition of sanctions has not halted the development of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, it has in all likelihood considerably delayed (North Korea's) timetable and, through the imposition of financial sanctions and the bans on the trade in weapons, has choked off significant funding which would have been channelled into its prohibited activities," the 52-page report said.

The document covers the period up through last month, diplomats said, so it was too early to measure the effect the latest round of U.N. sanctions adopted in March.

In the report to the U.N. Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee, the panel also recommended sanctioning three North Korean entities and 12 individuals. It will be up to the 15-nation council whether or not it follows the recommendations.

The three entities the panel said should be blacklisted are the newly created Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, the Munitions Industry Department of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party (KWP), and the State Space Development Bureau.

The individuals the panel wants sanctioned include the atomic energy industry minister, once he is nominated, and four senior officials at the KWP Munitions Industry Department.

It also recommends the blacklisting of one national from Kazakhstan, Aleksandr Viktorovich Zykov, and two from Ukraine, Iurii Lunov and Igor Karev-Popov, for their involvement in North Korea-related arms deals.

The panel listed North Korea's February nuclear test and its rocket launches as examples of violations of Security Council resolutions that have increased international concerns about Pyongyang. It was North Korea's third nuclear test since 2006.

Pyongyang is under U.N., U.S., European Union and other sanctions, including a U.N. ban on all arms exports, due to its nuclear weapons program.


Among potential violations the panel listed were the seizure by a U.N. member state of aluminium alloys suspected to be nuclear-related in August 2012 and the seizure of missile-related items bound for Syria in May 2012.

Previous breaches included shipments of arms-related material to Syria in November 2010 and rocket fuses for Iran in 2008, the panel report said.

"The DPRK has continued its efforts to import and export items relevant to missile and nuclear programs and arms," it said.

The panel said countries should be on the lookout for North Korean attempts to procure the following key items for Pyongyang's nuclear program - maraging steel, frequency changers, high-strength aluminium alloy, fibrous or filiamentary materials, filament winding machines, ring magnets, semi-hard magnetic alloys in thin strip form and other items.

U.N. diplomats said that China, North Korea's principal ally and trading partner, continues to play a key role in enabling Pyongyang to skirt sanctions, though this is not discussed explicitly in the panel's report.

Beijing has vowed full implementation of the latest round of U.N. sanctions adopted by the council in March, though it remains unclear how much China was keeping that promise.

Recently Bank of China Ltd shut the account of North Korea's main foreign exchange bank, the state-run Foreign Trade Bank, which was hit with U.S. sanctions in March after Washington accused it of helping finance Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

That closure was the first significant, publicly announced step taken by a Chinese firm to curb dealings with North Korea.

Washington has urged Beijing to apply economic sanctions against North Korea to help cripple a nuclear arms program that Beijing has made clear it disapproves of, diplomats say.


The U.N. financial restrictions are working, the panel said.

"The panel is highly confident that financial measures of the resolutions in general are being effectively implemented by major banks," the experts wrote.

"It has concerns, however, about the ability of banks in states with less effective regulators and those unable to afford effective compliance to detect and prevent illicit DPRK transfers," said the report, citing a case involving the Bank of Congo in the Republic of Congo.

It said the Bank of Congo processed a wire transfer linked with an attempted arms shipment in 2009 to an account in the name of a diplomat at North Korea's embassy in Beijing, but Banque de France refused to accept the transfer.

"This case illustrates how the DPRK makes use of its diplomatic officials in the conduct of prohibited activities ... and in the using bank accounts to shield illicit fund transfers from bank's due diligence procedures," the experts said.

The report also said a diplomat at the North Korean embassy in the Republic of Congo has been actively involved in negotiating the contracts for the arms shipments.

The Security Council sanctions resolution adopted in March drew attention to North Korean bulk cash deliveries, an issue the expert panel also touched on in its report. U.N. envoys say such transfers are often carried out by North Korean diplomatic personnel.

The panel report referred to North Korea's "trade-based money-laundering via front companies and agents to pay for illicit procurements and to transfer proceeds of sales of weapons and WMD-related items."

The panel also said North Korea continues to violate the Security Council ban on luxury goods. It said that since May 2012 Japan has reported nine cases of suspected violations of the ban involving luxury goods including alcohol, tobacco, electronic items, automobiles and cosmetics.

"The DPRK circumvented sanctions using ... false shipping and customs declarations and the use of intermediaries to make payments either through hand carrying or wire transfers. In at least two instances the end users were falsely declared as a diplomatic mission in Pyongyang," it said.

It said the panel had also requested information from China on six earlier luxury goods cases.

"China's customs officials told the panel that goods covered by the panel's 2012 report were not considered luxury goods," the experts wrote.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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Dhabitah gives a sterling performance in Fort Lauderdale

Posted: 14 May 2013 06:09 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia may have bagged two medals at the just-concluded FINA United States Grand Prix but it was the performance of young diver Nur Dhabitah Sabri that was the talking point at Fort Lauderdale.

Though Nur Dhabitah did not win any medal, she still managed to make an impression in her first major international outing – thus raising hope that she can be the next Pandelela Rinong.

At 13, Dhabitah just missed out on making the women's 10m platform semi-finals after finishing 14th in the preliminaries.

London Olympic bronze medallist Pandelela skipped the individual event and partnered Leong Mun Yee to a silver in the platform synchro.

Traisy Vivien Tukiet, who featured in the World Championships in Shanghai in 2011, did reach the semi-finals in 12th place but had a dismal performance in the preliminaries – failing to even breach 300 points (294.00).

Traisy fared even worse in the semi-finals, scoring lowest with 223.70 points.

Dhabitah garnered 264.70 points in the preliminaries but she could have earned more if not for a disastrous final attempt.

What makes Dhabitah's efforts more compelling is that coach Yang Zhuliang had made her dive with a higher level of difficulty compared to Traisy and Pandelela.

It was also the first time that Dhabitah was diving from the 10m height. Previously, she had the option of performing her routine from either the 5m or 7m height at the junior level.

Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) secretary Edwin Chong said there were no plans to drop Traisy from the world meet in Barcelona in July just because of one bad performance.

"With the exception of those who took part in the Diving World Series, the rest of our divers have not gone for any competition so far," said Edwin.

"We have to be fair to them. Likewise, Dhabitah has done well for someone who has not competed at the Grand Prix meet before.

"We want to start her on a higher level of difficulty so that she can challenge strongly in a few years' time.

"The competition is not getting any easier ... we want her to be ready when the time comes.

"We will consider taking her to the SEA Games in Myanmar at the end of this year."

Dhabitah was promoted to the elite diving squad this year after shining in her first senior international competition by bagging a double at the South-East Asia (SEA) Swimming Championships in Singapore last June.

She went on to win two gold medals at the Kuantan Sukma a month later.

Afiq gets off to a flying start in Formula China Series

Posted: 14 May 2013 04:17 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Afiq Ikhwan Yazid of Team Meritus GP made a perfect start to his Formula Masters China Series campaign when he won the first race in Zhuhai yesterday.

After a good start from sixth position, he quickly made up the ranks by overtaking Chinese driver Yuan Bo at the first turn.

Afiq, the 2011 JK Racing Asia runner-up, was charging for third when the safety car was deployed.

The race re-started on lap 10 and, with six laps remaining, Afiq piled on the pressure to force both Aidan Wright and Ren Nagabuchi to move into the inside line.

Afiq took advantage after team-mate Wright, who led from the start, and Nagabuchi made unforced errors and spun off the track to clinch his first win of the season with a time of 1:38.741.

Afiq was primed to take his second win in Race 2 after starting from second position.

However, his hopes were dashed when he was hit from behind by Nagabuchi in the second lap. Afiq finished the race in fifth position.

In Race 3, Afiq again found himself in the lead, with almost a one-second gap, before the safety car was deployed.

However, his car got stuck in the gravel and he was forced to retire.

"I want to thank my team for my first win of the season. Unfortunately, things didn't go so well in Race 2 and Race 3 – but that's racing ... anything can happen," said Afiq.

"Hopefully, we will fare better in the second round of the championship in two weeks' time."

KLHC reserve defender Kaza surprised to get national call-up

Posted: 14 May 2013 07:35 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: When Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin opted out of the national hockey team in 2010, to pursue a degree in Human Resource from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), he thought that was the end of his international career.

So, the 25-year-old KL Hockey Club (KLHC) defender was pleasantly surprised when he was recalled to the national team by new coach Paul Revington on Monday.

The Kuantan-born player, who will be graduating from UPM next month, admitted to being frustrated when he wasn't recalled last year.

"I played well for my club KLHC in the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League) and I was expecting a call-up. But it never came," said the player fondly known as Kaza.

"I didn't expect to be recalled this time either because KLHC had two experienced defenders in Mohd Razie (Abdul Rahim) and Pakistan's Muhammad Imran.

"I was more off a reserve defender and did not score a single goal from penalty corner drag flicks.

"But it's not going to be easy for me to find a place in the final squad as there are other experienced defenders in the training squad, like Razie, Mohd Amin Rahim, Azlan Misron, Faiz Helmi Jali and Baljit Singh.

"I really want to thank national coach Paul (Revington) for having faith in me."

Kazamirul made his international debut for Malaysia in the World Cup qualifier in Invercargill, New Zealand, in 2009 and has nine international caps thus far.

Kazamirul, who also featured in the 2009 Junior World Cup in Johor Baru, is also delighted to be playing in his third consecutive MHL final.

"Being recalled to national training has motivated me to give my best in the final (against Tenaga Nasional) and win a third straight overall title," he said.

Kazamirul said that his focus now was to help KLHC beat Tenaga and retain the overall title.

He admitted that it won't be a walk in the park against Tenaga, who held them to a 3-3 draw in a Charity Shield match in March.

"They also gave us a good fight in the second round match before losing 4-2. So, we are expecting another tough time in the final on Sunday," said Kazamirul.


The Star Online: Business

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Prestariang jumps to record high of RM1.77

Posted: 14 May 2013 06:46 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday May 15, 2013 MYT 9:46:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Prestariang surged to an all-time high of RM1.77 early Wednesday as CIMB Equities Research viewed there was more upside for the ICT and education-based company.

At 9.30am, it was up 23 sen to RM1.77. There were 4.73 million shares done.

The FBM KLCI inched up 0.51 of a point to 1,788.94. Turnover was 626.04 million shares valued at RM210.74mil. There were 362 gainers, 96 losers and 190 counters unchanged.

CIMB Research initiated coverage of Prestariang, Malaysia's largest ICT training and software licence service provider, with an Outperform call. Its target price is RM2.79.

It said 60% of Prestariang's revenue was recurring and its projected 16% three-year earnings per share (EPS) compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) should be supported by existing services and its new ICT university, UniMy.

"We initiate coverage with an Outperform call. Our target price is based on 12.5 times CY14 price-to-earnings (P/E), which is based on the domestic education sector's P/E," it said.


European authorities raid Shell, BP and Statoil offices to probe suspected manipulation of oil prices

Posted: 14 May 2013 06:26 PM PDT

LONDON/OSLO: European authorities have raided offices of oil majors Shell, BP and Statoil in an investigation of suspected manipulation of oil prices, one of the biggest cross-border actions since the Libor rigging scandal.

Authorities have sharpened scrutiny of financial benchmarks around the world since slapping large fines on some of the world's biggest banks for rigging interest rate benchmarks.

On Tuesday, the European Commission said it was investigating major oil companies over suspected anti-competitive agreements related to submission of prices to leading oil pricing agency Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Group.

"Officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in and providing services to the crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels sectors," the Commission said. The inspections took place in two EU member states and one non-EU country, it said.

"The Commission has concerns that the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products," it said.

The Commission also said companies may have prevented others from participating in the price assessment process, with a view to distorting published prices.

Statoil said the suspected violations were related to the Platts price assessment process and may have been ongoing since 2002.

The probe will shine a light on the methodology designed by Platts for daily assessments on the physical oil markets, used to close deals worth billions of dollars.

The so-called Platts window, or market-on-close (MOC) system, is a daily half-hour period in which it determines cash prices through a series of bids, offers and trades.

Critics say the system is only a snapshot of the market, because it excludes trade outside the window - one reason that it can be vulnerable to manipulation.

"I remember looking at these sorts of issues 10 years ago, and nothing has changed, it's sort of an accident waiting to happen," said Craig Pirrong, Professor of Finance at the University of Houston, noting that after the Libor scandal, price assessment agencies were under "incredible scrutiny."

"Regulators and law enforcement officials are quite upset with this sort of alleged conduct and they have proven that they are willing to go after companies that misreport for very large sums of money," Pirrong said.

"Potentially the exposure is quite large."


The Commission said that even small distortions of assessed prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers.

It added the fact inspections had been carried out did not mean the companies were guilty of anti-competitive behaviour.

The Commission did not make clear whether it was investigating a specific incident. These investigations typically take years to draw final conclusions.

Platts, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Statoil said they were cooperating with the probe.

French major Total said there had been no inspections at its offices. The Commission did not list the companies being investigated, and it was not clear whether other companies were included.

Statoil said authorities had inspected its office in Stavanger on the request of the European Commission on suspicions of anti-competitive behaviour.

The Norwegian state, the controlling shareholder of Statoil, said the probe was a matter for the company's management to handle and declined further comment.

Platts said the European Commission had "undertaken a review at its premises in London this morning in relation to the Platts price assessment process".

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) is running a wider review of benchmarks, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is looking into the setting of gold and silver prices in London.

IOSCO said it was not involved in the oil enquiry. The CFTC declined to comment, and the Federal Trade Commission had no immediate comment.

Thomson Reuters, parent of Reuters news, competes with Platts in providing news and information to the oil market. - Reuters


Malaysia's blue chips eye critical 1,800 level

Posted: 14 May 2013 06:14 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday May 15, 2013 MYT 9:14:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips rose at the start of trade on Wednesday, as investor confidence was underpinned by the overnight rally on Wall Street and fresh corporate news.

At 9.01am, the FBM KLCI was up 4.26 points to 1,792.69. Turnover was 125.56 million shares valued at RM34.35mil. There were 195 gainers, 29 losers and 110 counters unchanged.

JF Apex Research said after the KLCI closed at a fresh record high on Tuesday 1,788.43, "the bullish US market could lead the KLCI to fresh highs. We expect the KLCI to remain positive and could re-test the resistance of 1,800".

Petronas Gas was the top gainer, up 50 sen to RM21.50 while MPHB added 13 sen to RM4.09 and UMW 10 to RM14.40.

Among consumer stocks, BAT added 36 sen to RM65.14 and Carlsberg gained 10 sen to RM15.58.

As for plantations, PPB Group rose 11 sen to RM13.70 while IOI Corp extended its gains as trading interest was galvanised by its demerger exercise.



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Former judge Mohd Noor Abdullah to talk about constitutional issues over Astro

Posted: 14 May 2013 08:14 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Appeals Court judge Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah is scheduled to appear in an interview programme, "Helo Malaysia," on Bernama TV at 10pm Wednesday via Astro Channel 502 to discuss issues relating to the Federal Constitution.

He will be appearing with Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association president (PPMM) Datuk Zainul Rijal in the hour-long interview to be moderated by Dahlan Maamor.

The programme is entitled 'The Philosophy of the Federal Constitution which guarantees equality and justice for all races in Malaysia'.

Mohd Noor is also expected to comment on his earlier statements, among which related to the position of Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (SJKs) or National-Type Schools according to the constitution, which sparked polemics among politicians recently. - Bernama

Related Story:
GE13: Expect backlash from Malays, warns former judge Mohd Noor Abdullah

GE13: Huge crowd at PR's post-election rally in Kuantan

Posted: 14 May 2013 08:33 AM PDT

KUANTAN: Despite a last minute change of venue, a huge crowd turned up for the Pakatan Rakyat rally to protest the 13th general election results here on Tuesday.

The huge crowd, mostly clad in black T-shirt, thronged the old PKR headquarters in Jalan Beserah here after the organisers switched the venue from Mahkota Aman a few hours earlier.

It was learnt that the organisers did not receive the permission of the police to hold the rally at the Mahkota Aman field, thus the change of venue.

Vehicles were parked by the roadside for several kilometres as the participants walked around the traffic congestion to the venue behind the old headquarters.

PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim addressed the crowd after speeches by state PKR chairman Datuk Fauzi Abdul Rahman and several PAS leaders.

Pakatan's first rally was held in Kelana Jaya last Wednesday followed by one in Penang on Saturday and in Ipoh on Sunday.

Related Story:
Pakatan's post-GE13 rally in Kuantan illegal, says OCPD

Banting murders: No homicidal death involving Sosilawati and three others, says lawyer

Posted: 14 May 2013 05:54 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: There is no direct evidence to show that there was a homicidal death involving cosmetics millionaire, Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three others at a farm in Tanjung Sepat, Banting on Aug 30, 2010, the High Court was told on Tuesday.

Counsel Manjeet Singh Dhillon, who is representing first accused, N. Pathmanabhan, also said that there was no direct evidence to show that Sosilawati, bank officer Noorhisham Mohamad, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim and her driver, Kamaruddin Shamsuddin were murdered by the four accused.

"Not a single witness has testified on oath and given any evidence concerning any of the ingredients necessary to make out a case," he said in his submission.

Pathmanabhan and three farm workers T. Thilaiyalagan, R. Matan and R. Khatavarayan are charged with the murder of Sosilawati, 47, Noorhisham, 38, Ahmad Kamil, 32 and Kamaruddin, 44, at Lot 2001, Jalan Tanjong Layang, Tanjung Sepat, between 8.30pm and 9.45pm on August 30, 2010, and face the mandatory death sentence, if convicted under Section 302 of the Penal Code.

Manjeet Singh said the prosecution's case appeared to be simply that Sosilawati went to Banting with some others, purportedly they went to Pathmanabhan's farm and they never returned.

He said that there were a lot of people on the farm including those who remain unidentified but whose DNAs were there, but the prosecution wants the court to disregard this and just concentrate on the four accused and say 'hang them' because that is what they want.

"This court cannot surely give in to their demands just like that. The law has to be upheld. The law and evidence in this case say there is no credible case and that must, I submit, be the rightful verdict at the end," he said.

Manjeet Singh further submitted that this case received wide coverage in the media which seemed to have their own theory on the matter based on rampant speculation and that the four accused would have stood very little chance of a fair trial and a judgment based on law and evidence.

Therefore, he said, the court needed to ignore the myriad theories suggested and had to listen only to the law and the evidence and allow nothing else to pollute the reasoning.

Manjeet Singh also urged the court to consider new evidence presented in the trial through counsel Roslie Sulle who represented mechanic K. Sarawanan in 2010, that the lawyer played a role in the manipulation of witnesses.

Sarawanan, 22, and another man, U. Suresh, 29, are currently serving 20 years' jail at Sungai Udang prison in Malacca after pleading guilty to four counts of disposing evidence related to the alleged murders.

"Was there a crime on the farm on the evening of Aug 30, 2010? The blogs and soothsayers seem to want to say there was and the prosecution speculates similarly, but there is no proof," he said.

The hearing before judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir continues on Wednesday. - Bernama

Related Stories:
Banting murders: Defence closes case, judgment on May 23
Banting murders trial: Lawyer did not know client would plead guilty
Banting murders: There was no conspiracy, police tell court in Sosilawati case
Banting murders: Conflicting testimony about presence of accused at court complex
Banting murders: Witness says he did not sign up for witness protection programme for money
Banting murders: Accused denies murdering Sosilawati
Banting murders trial: Accused saw Sosilawati nine days after murder


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Win The Good Food Cook Book!

Posted: 13 May 2013 11:53 PM PDT

HYPPTV is giving awayThe Good Food Cook Book to 10 lucky readers.

For a chance to win the book (priced at RM150) as well as HyppTV goodies, fill in your name, address, I/C no, phone no, e-mail address and answer the questions below. Send your entry on a postcard to Star2-HyppTV Contest, New Media, Level 41, South Wing, Menara TM, Jalan Pantai Baharu, 50672 Kuala Lumpur by May 21, 2013.

Please note that the distribution of prizes is at the sole discretion of HyppTV and no correspondence will be entertained.

1. What is the name of Nigella Lawson's new cook show on BBC Lifestyle?

2. What is the new channel number for BBC Lifestyle on HyppTV?

3. I love BBC Lifestyle because (complete the slogan in 20 words or less)


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I had a double mastectomy, says Angelina Jolie

Posted: 14 May 2013 12:21 AM PDT

REUTERS - Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie said on Tuesday that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy after finding out she had a gene mutation that leads to a sharply higher risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.

Jolie (pic), writing in the New York Times, said her mother's death from cancer at 56 and the discovery that she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation led to her decision out of fears she might not be around for her six children.

"We often speak of 'Mommy's mommy', and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me," wrote Jolie, 37, in the editorial My Medical Choice.

"I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a 'faulty' gene," she added.

Her doctor estimated that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

"Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy," she said.

Three months of surgical procedures were completed at the end of April, throughout which Jolie continued to work. She said her partner, Brad Pitt, was by her side throughout, and thanked him for his love and support.

She said she was revealing her decision to help dispel the shadows that still hang over cancer and to enable other women to get testing and make informed treatment choices, as she had.

"The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy to have made," she said, adding that her chances of developing breast cancer had dropped from 87 percent to 5 percent.

Spokesmen for Jolie and Pitt, one of Hollywood's biggest power couples, were not immediately available for comment.

Jolie, who won a best support actress Oscar for her work on Girl, Interrupted in 1999, is raising six children with Pitt. The couple got engaged last year.

DiCaprio, Christie's raise US$32 million for environmental causes

Posted: 13 May 2013 09:22 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Christie's auction house raised nearly US$32 million for environmental causes on Monday at a charity art auction.

DiCaprio, the star of the new film The Great Gatsby, organized the so-called The 11th Hour Auction along with his foundation and Christie's to protect the last wild places on Earth and their endangered species.

The 33 works of art, many of which were created for and donated to the auction by the artists, sold for US$31.74 million in spirited bidding in a packed auction house. Art collectors from around the globe also placed bids by telephone.

"All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you," DiCaprio told the audience at the end of the auction, which raised more than double the pre-sale estimate.

In addition to the sale, which set records for 13 artists including Carol Bove, Joe Bradley, Mark Grotjahn, Raymond Pettibon and Mark Ryden among others, a US$5 million matching donation for three of the lots and US$1.15 million in other donations raised the overall total to nearly US$38 million.

At the opening of the auction, DiCaprio, who has supported environmental issues through his foundation since 1988 and also produced and narrated the 2007 documentary The 11th Hour about the state of the environment, urged the audience to dig deep into their pockets.

"Bid as if the fate of the planet depended on us," he said.

And they did. All of the 33 works were sold and many fetched prices that were three or four times their pre-sale estimates.

The top lot of the sale was an oil on cardboard mounted on canvas by Mark Grotjahn called Untitled (Standard Lotus No. II, Bird of Paradise, Tiger Mouth Face 44.01), which sold for US$6.2 million as two determined bidders pushed up the price.

Zeng Fanzhi's The Tiger, an oil on canvas, fetched nearly double its high estimate with a price of US$4.8 million, and Bharti Kher's sculpture The Skin Speaks a Language Not Its Own, went for US$1.7 million.

Each of the three works had a pre-sale estimate of US$1.5 million to US$2.5 million.

DiCaprio donated Ocean V by Andreas Gursky, which sold for US$600,000, and he bought an acrylic on canvas by Takashi Murakami for US$700,000.

A portrait of DiCaprio painted by Elizabeth Peyton sold for US$1 million.

Loic Gouzer, international specialist at Christie's and the head of the sale, said many of the works were of a quality never seen at auction before.

A panel of environmental experts and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation will decide which conservation projects will benefit from the proceeds of the sale.

Gouzer said he and DiCaprio had approached the artists and explained what they had hoped to accomplish with the auction, which they have been planning for a year.

"We explained that we wanted great works and they were very reactive because of the cause. The artists are very sensitive to the fact that we are destroying our planet," Gouzer said in an interview ahead of the sale.


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Two cars buried in Ampang landslide yet to be removed

Posted: 14 May 2013 05:05 AM PDT

LOGESWARAN Murugan, whose brand new car was buried by a landslide in Jalan Ampang last Tuesday, is frustrated that his car has yet to be removed from the site.

He said neither the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) nor the Public Works Department (JKR) had made an effort to remove the two cars still buried at the site.

"I called them but was given the run-around. Yesterday, I was told JKR would undertake the clearing works but now they say they have to study the condition of the site before starting any work.

"I do not know how long this will take," said Logeswaran, adding that he was afraid his car would be more damaged if left like that.

The landslide occurred at a car park along Jalan Ampang, near the Jalan Dang Wangi intersection. Nine cars were affected, while two are still buried there.

No casualties were reported.

Logeswaran, 28, said he had bought the Honda City only two months ago. The vehicle has yet to be salvaged.

The other victim, Nurul Nadiah Bidi, 27, said it was an unfortunate that she parked her car at the site.

"I usually take the train to work but on that particular day, I decided to drive as I had to attend a class in Gombak and wanted to save time.

"It is my first car and I have had it for only two years," said Nurul, adding that she was still paying the bank loan for the car.

Nurul is also worried as she cannot claim for damages from her insurance company.

"The insurance company said it was a natural disaster and as such, they cannot compensate me for my losses. Now I am stuck with a car loan, but there is no car," she said.

"Yesterday, a DBKL officer told me that they could not carry out any works as yet as they are worried that there would be more soil movement if they removed the cars.

"It has not rained for the past five days, so I don't see why they cannot retrieve the cars now," said Nurul.

Logeswaran concurred.

"The weather has been good for the past few days but this could easily change.

"I am worried that it will rain again soon and our cars will be stuck there longer. I wish the authorities would shed some light on what they intend to do, especially about our cars," he said.

Public should be informed of disruption earlier, say passport renewal applicants

Posted: 14 May 2013 05:05 AM PDT

MEMBERS of the public who went to the Kelana Jaya Immigration Department yesterday were disappointed when services at the passport renewal counters were disrupted.

The crowd, which had gathered as early as 7.30am to renew their passports, were informed about the system malfunction at the centre.

The notices put up at the Kelana Jaya and Shah Alam Immigration Department offices stated that the disruption was due to the nationwide exercise to upgrade existing machines to polycarbonate passport machines.

J. Raj, 36, said he arrived at the department in Kelana Jaya at 8am yesterday and found that a long queue of people had already formed.

"I went to the department on Friday morning as well but found it closed to facilitate works to upgrade the system. The officers told us to go to the Jalan Duta Immigration Department but the situation over there was the same," he said.

Hoping the works would have been completed, Raj went back to the office in Kelana Jaya yesterday but found that the system was still disrupted.

"It was such a waste of time.

"A family was there as well. They had brought their children along to apply for passports. The children missed school to do this but the day was wasted," he said.

An agent at the Kelana Jaya Immigration Department, who declined to be named, said there were disruptions from Friday.

"When the system was up and running, we immediately advised all those waiting to submit their documents for processing," he said.

Due to the disruption, the departments also could not provide the passports within an hour, as practised before.

A check by StarMetro at the Kelana Jaya Immigration office yesterday revealed that the department had started using the upgraded system.

Raj said he was dissappointed that the department had not informed the public about the problem earlier.

"As it was a nationwide exercise, we should have been alerted about upgrading works and not find out about it only after going there," he added.


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