Jumaat, 17 Mei 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Commuter trains collide in Connecticut, injuring up to 60 people

Posted: 17 May 2013 08:23 PM PDT

FAIRFIELD, Connecticut (Reuters) - A commuter train travelling eastbound from New York City derailed near the Connecticut suburb of Fairfield during the evening rush hour on Friday and collided with a westbound commuter train, injuring up to 60 people, three critically, officials said.

Passengers wait to be picked-up after two commuter trains collided in Bridgeport, Connecticut causing one to derail injuring numerous passengers, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/ Michelle McLoughlin

Passengers wait to be picked-up after two commuter trains collided in Bridgeport, Connecticut causing one to derail injuring numerous passengers, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/ Michelle McLoughlin

The collision of the two Metro North trains forced Amtrak to shut down service indefinitely between New York and Boston, the national railroad said.

Three people were critically injured and 60 people were transported to area hospitals, police said.

"It's pretty devastating damage to a number of cars," Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told a news conference. "These cars came into contact (and the impact) ripped open the siding of one of the cars. There is extensive damage in the front and the wheels."

The accident occurred shortly after 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT), authorities said.

"All of a sudden the train started to shake a little bit ... like something was bumping into it," passenger Rowana Shepherd told CBS television. "One entire compartment from the other train was completely ripped open. The whole side was gone and people were lying in between the trains."

The eastbound train was headed to New Haven, Connecticut, when it derailed and collided with the westbound train that was running to New York's Grand Central Station, said Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs the commuter railroad.

"The head end of both trains, the front end of both trains, collided and received sustained damage. ... But it was not a full head-on collision," Donovan said.

Metro North is a commuter railroad serving the northern suburbs of New York City. It is operated by the MTA, a New York State agency. Fairfield is about 50 miles north of New York City.

The number of injured could rise because hospital officials were told to prepare to receive up to 180 patients total. Metro North trains can carry up to 300 passengers when full.

Thirty-three people were transported to St. Vincent's Medical Center and 27 to Bridgeport Hospital, police said.

Bridgeport Hospital had two patients with critical injuries, and the others could be described as "walking wounded" with a variety of lesser injuries, spokeswoman Anita Shrum said.

One person had serious head and neck injuries at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport and the others had minor injuries, spokeswoman Dianne Auger said.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately known. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of investigators to Connecticut to look into the accident.

Malloy said the collision would have a big impact on the vital rail corridor between Boston and New York City for days.

The Westport and Fairfield stations will be closed to commuter rail and Amtrak service at least through the weekend as workers repair the damage and investigators probe the derailment, he said, adding that there was no reason to believe that it was anything but an accident.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein, David Bailey, Kevin Gray and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Philip Barbara)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Venezuela frees opposition activist jailed over post-vote violence

Posted: 17 May 2013 06:34 PM PDT

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela on Friday released an opposition activist who had been jailed on accusations of inciting violence in the wake of President Nicolas Maduro's narrow election victory in April.

Retired General Antonio Rivero, who government critics described as the first political prisoner of Maduro's government, told a local television station he had been released after nearly three weeks in jail.

Retired General Antonio Rivero speaks during an interview with Reuters in Caracas April 27, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Retired General Antonio Rivero speaks during an interview with Reuters in Caracas April 27, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

"Right now I'm just going to focus on my health," Rivero, who had been on hunger strike during part of his detention, told the Globovision station. "I urge Venezuela, in the name of God, to continue the struggle."

A court had charged him with "conspiracy" and "public instigation" after authorities showed a video of him helping coordinate protesters in the capital's streets during a wave of violence that killed 11 people in the wake of the April 14 vote.

Maduro and allies said opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro by 1.5 percentage points, fomented the violence in an effort to seize power by force.

They also say anti-government demonstrators burned down state-run health clinics staffed by Cuban doctors, accusations that were later disputed by a prominent human rights group.

The country's congress set up a special commission staffed only by pro-government legislators to investigate the incidents.

Capriles describes Maduro as an illegitimate president and is challenging the results of the election in the country's top court, though few expect it to rule in his favour.

Days before Rivero's arrest, authorities jailed American filmmaker Tim Tracy on accusations that he was working as a U.S. spy and advising opposition student groups on how to destabilize the country.

His family said he was making a documentary, and U.S. officials dismiss the accusations as absurd.

(The story is refiled, changing that to who in first paragraph)

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

One dead, dozens wounded in sectarian clashes in Egypt

Posted: 17 May 2013 05:33 PM PDT

ALEXANDRIA (Reuters) - One person died and dozens were wounded during clashes between Muslims and Christians late Friday night outside a Coptic church in Egypt's second city, state newspaper al-Ahram reported, in the latest violent sectarian row in the Muslim-majority country.

A quarrel between two young men, one Christian and one Muslim, morphed into a family feud that sparked clashes in a western district of Alexandria.

The two sides threw firebombs at each other before security forces intervened and cordoned off the area around the church.

Police arrested eight people after about two hours of fighting, a security source told Reuters.

In addition to the political and economic turmoil Egypt has endured since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February 2011, tensions have risen between Muslims and Christians, especially since the election of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in June.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 84 million people and have complained that the authorities have failed to protect them since Mubarak was ousted, giving radical Islamists a free hand.

At least five people were killed and more than 80 injured in clashes last month between Christians and Muslims at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo after a funeral service for four Christians killed in sectarian violence with Muslims.

(Reporting by Islam Rifae in Alexandria and Ahmed Tolba in Cairo; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Bill Trott)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Can’t sing for his supper

Posted: 18 May 2013 12:27 AM PDT

Foo Yoh, whose fame has been compared to William Hung from American Idol, turns rejection on its head to rake in some cash.

He's no reject; he's your lovable, not-so-polished singer who wanted to share his wealth with Red FM's listeners.

Chang Foo Yoh, or better known as Foo Yoh, is a singer with a claimed net worth of RM1.5mil. He amassed his fortune from being paid NOT to sing!

Born in Gopeng, Perak, Foo Yoh picked up his love for singing while studying in Boston, United States.

He even visited many record labels to showcase his talent. Unfortunately, he didn't land any record deal.

All the rejections only fuel his passion for music even more. He even approached venues like Wimbledon and Madison Square Garden for a chance to perform. However, his perseverance has paid off ... well kind of, as he was given cash to disappear.

On a recent trip back to Malaysia, he approached Red FM with a proposal that would allow him to showcase his "talent" on air and give out cash generously.

Red FM's Foo Yoh Mega Mash Up was a competition run on Red FM from 8 April to 10 May with a total of RM25,000 given out during that period. Many listeners walked away with extra cash in their bank account by calling in to Red FM and identifying the songs sung by Foo Yoh.

So, what about him that caught Red FM's attention? "Regardless of the quality of his performance, Foo Yoh exhibits the Red FM spirit of Living It!" said Lil' Kev of The Red Breakfast WTF.

He added: "We thought it would be entertaining and fun for our listeners whether they participated or tuned in while stuck in traffic. I would compare him to William Hung of American Idol fame; Foo Yoh would have definitely struck a record deal had he been on the show!"

Foo You said: "I know I am different from the rest of the chart topping artistes out there. I've faced a lot of rejection but I have never let that changed me. Auto tune is just not for me."

Neo Teng Chia, who works as a research manager in a bank, was the first winner of Red FM's Foo Yoh Mega Mash Up.

"Music is my escape and I enjoy the music played by Red FM, I have been a huge fan since 2009. When I heard Foo Yoh sing, it didn't take me long to identify the songs. Although out of tune, I could tell that they are my favourite songs – Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen. Thank you Foo Yoh for the RM800 that I'm going to use on a shopping spree," said Neo.

Keep tuning in to Red FM for great music and entertaining competitions to win cash and more.

Red FM is a subsidiary of Star Radio Group.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

CEO: Catcha Media won’t be taken private — for now

Posted: 17 May 2013 05:17 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Catcha Media Bhd would not be taken private for the time being, although major shareholders might do so if its shares remained flat till the end of the year, said chief executive officer Patrick Grove.

The integrated media outfit's founder told StarBizWeek that several private equity funds had approached him about the possibility of buying out the company. However, the long-time entrepreneur told them that he would prefer to keep it listed.

Though he did not name the parties, Grove said two funds, one local and the other a US-based firm regionally headquartered in Singapore, had expressed interest in taking Catcha Media, which debuted on the ACE Market in 2011 at 75 sen a share, off the market. Grove was responding to a research report by CIMB Research issued yesterday that suggested Catcha Media could be privatised by private equity funds.

"We gather from a recent visit that management may consider this option if Catcha Media's share price remains depressed. In our view, any buyout price is likely to be above the 75 sen initial public offering (IPO) price, as this would alleviate the pain of long-suffering shareholders.

"Management is also seeking to sell equity in Catcha Media's subsidiaries, which would establish their valuations," the brokerage said.

CIMB Research opined that Catcha Media was "deeply undervalued", as its current share price stood at a 51% discount to the research house's target of 96 sen.

"At Catcha Media's current price, its market valuation is approaching irrational levels, as this is 15% below its holdings in iCar Asia. This means investors are getting the advertising and e-commerce businesses for free," CIMB Research wrote.

Australia-listed iCar Asia is 30%-owned by Catcha Media and Asean's top online auto classified portal.

Grove echoed these sentiments. "We aren't considering a privatisation right now, but we might think about it seriously if our shares continue to trade at these levels."

Together with his partners, 39-year-old Grove has 58.5% control of Catcha Media. Other notable shareholders who had invested at the point of the IPO include Genting Group scion Datuk Justin Leong with a 5% stake and Star Publications (M) Bhd with 4.9%.

Catcha Media has slumped 15% since listing, although it hit a peak of 90 sen in mid-2011.

CIMB Research attributes the underperformance to the myriad media platforms owned by Catcha Media and "Malaysian investors' failure to understand high-growth Internet models", given the lack of such listings on the local bourse.

Catcha Media also announced on Tuesday a RM60mil merger between its digital and publishing business and social media marketing website Says.com, creating one of the country's largest digital advertising groups by reach, clients, spend and profitability.

Catcha Media will own 70% of the new company and Says Sdn Bhd the balance 30%, implying a RM42mil value for the former's stake. Says.com serves over 80 leading brands, including Nike, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Maxis and Nestle.

"The merged entity aims to be a major player in Malaysia's online advertising space by combining Catcha Media's established advertising base with Says.com's social media expertise.

"The new entity is not expected to require external funding, as existing operations are already profitable. Both teams at Catcha Media and Says.com intend to expand this business regionally, and the expected profitability of the merged entity should pave the way for an IPO in the next 12 months.

"The merger is positive for Catcha Media, as it enables the company to tap Says.com's social media expertise. This is critical for Catcha Media, as consumer trends show social media marketing is a fast-growing media category and advertisers are increasingly turning to social media to reach consumers," CIMB Research explained, adding that Catcha Media could be another Jobstreet in the making.

The firm's shares rallied three sen to close higher at 63.5 sen yesterday, with 2.4 million shares being done.

Sarawak politically-linked stocks rally

Posted: 17 May 2013 05:17 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Sarawak-based politically-linked companies have rallied strongly, with key stocks making new highs and gaining more than 25% over the past two weeks since the elections.

Fund managers have been realigning their portfolios by taking positions in stocks deemed to be obvious beneficiaries over the next five years in the resource-rich state following the strong Barisan Nasional win.

Since May 6, the benchmark FBM KLCI has soared 16 points in buoyant trading. Yesterday, the FBM KLCI closed 2.44 points higher at 1,769.16 on volume of 2.11 billion shares. The FBM KLCI touched an all-time high of 1,788.43 on May 14.

Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMSB) was the leader of the pack among the Sarawak-based stocks, which saw gains over the two-week period. It gained 46% over this period to close 31 sen higher at RM5.11, also the counter's all-time high. The stock touched an intraday high of RM5.15.

The counter continues to be actively traded, with some 2.83 million shares changing hands yesterday.

CMSB's market capitalisation has also ballooned to RM1.7bil due to its rising share price.

Analysts said CMSB's earnings outlook remained bright over the long-term, due to the company's being the direct proxy of Sarawak's growth story and in large part being the sole supplier of cement in the state.

It also has exposure to the extremely lucrative Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) project through its 20% stake in OM Materials Sarawak.

Moreover, the company has other businesses linked to the state's development plans including in property, construction materials, quarry and road maintenance.

Property developer Naim Holdings Bhd also emerged as another hot favourite, with its share price rising 27.7% over the last two weeks to RM3.37 on volume of 1.13 million shares as of yesterday.

Naim recently launched a mixed commercial, residential and leisure project in Bintulu with a gross development value of RM2bil.

Naim's 30% associate, Dayang Enterprise Holdings Bhd, has always been a hot favourite among investors and analysts, with many research houses recommending a "buy" on the stock.

Dayang's share price has also surged, closing eight sen higher yesterday at RM4.78 on volume of 3.73 million.

The stock touched an all-time high of RM4.95 on May 14.

Hong Leong Research analysts have revised their forecasts to include RM4bil (from RM2.5bil previously) of contract wins from an estimated RM10bil of offshore hook-up and commissioning construction work for Dayang.

This indicates a fair value range of between RM6 and RM9. They like this Miri-based integrated oil and gas service provider due to higher margins, skilled execution and valuation.

Infrastructure specialist Hock Seng Lee Bhd has also appreciated 14% over the past two weeks. It closed yesterday up five sen to RM1.83.The company has some 30 projects in-hand worth close to RM2bil, with more than half being outstanding projects.

Jala: GST could add up to RM27bil to country’s income

Posted: 17 May 2013 04:10 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will be able to rake in an additional income of up to RM27bil if the proposed goods and services tax (GST) is implemented at 7%, similar to Singapore's.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala said the new taxation mechanism could guarantee additional revenue of RM20bil to RM27bil, at maturity.

"At maturity is when every Malaysian starts to contribute towards the GST. It must be implemented as soon as Malaysians are ready to accept the mechanism," he added.

Speaking at the forum, "GE13 – What it means for Business?" here yesterday, Jala said education on what the GST was all about and how it benefited the country's economy was very important, as well as for Malaysians to understand and accept the taxation mechanism moving forward.

He also said GST would provide extra funds for the Government to spend on the well-being of Malaysians, according to what was promised in Barisan Nasional's manifesto before the general election.

"Even though a new tax is being introduced, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had committed to reducing corporate as well as personal income taxes. This shows that the Government wants a balance in every move that it makes, whether economically or politically," said Jala, who also heads the Performance Management & Delivery Unit (Pemandu).

Meanwhile, he denied claims that the pre-election promises made by the Government will increase the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, from the current 53%.

He said the Government was committed to maintaining its debt at well below the 55% debt to GDP ceiling that it had set before this.

Jala also said Malaysia was on track to report a budgetary surplus by 2020.

He said that in the past four years with Najib as premier, the country's budget deficit had shown significant decrease year-on-year.

"Last year it was 4.5%, and this year we expect it to decrease to 4%. With all the efforts being taken, I am very sure the day will come when we can report a budget surplus." he added.

On the Government's role in business, Jala said it would gradually move out of more businesses this year and in the future.

Through the Government's Role in Business, he said the Government had already pared down or even phased out its stake in 13 companies, from the 33 entities identified by Pemandu to do so. — Bernama

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Formula One: Increased venom as F1 tyre war erupts again

Posted: 17 May 2013 06:09 PM PDT

LONDON: Formula One's increasingly-bitter 'tyre war' erupted again, with increased venom, this week when Ferrari followed Lotus in hitting out at rivals Red Bull and accusing the champion team of having a selective memory and tyre suppliers Pirelli of bowing to pressure.

In an astonishing succession of statements, following Pirelli's decision to change the structure of their under-fire tyres from next month's Canadian Grand Prix, it became clear that both Ferrari and Lotus believe Red Bull has pressurised the Italian rubber company into complying with their own wishes.

Pirelli has denied that is the case, but in a row that has intensified significantly since last Sunday's chaotic, pit-stop strewn Spanish Grand Prix, the paddock has divided and feelings are running wild in the run-up to next weekend's showpiece Monaco Grand Prix.

In the 'Horse Whisperer' column on their own website, Ferrari - who won that race with a four-stop strategy for Spaniard Fernando Alonso - on Friday declared: "It seems one must almost feel ashamed for choosing a strategy that, as always for that matter, is aimed at getting the most out of the package one has available.

"On top of that, if this choice emerges right from the Friday, because all the simulations are unanimous in selecting it, then why on earth should one feel embarrassed when compared to those who have gone for a different choice, only to regret it during the race itself?"

The 'scarlet scuderia' also stressed that Red Bull's criticisms about the tyre strategies in Spain came two years after their world champion driver Sebastian Vettel triumphed in Catalonia with a four-stop strategy.

"These are difficult times for people with poor memories," they wrote. "Maybe it's because of the huge amount of information available today that people are too quick to talk, forgetting things that happened pretty much in the recent past.

"Or maybe the brain cells that control memory only operate selectively, depending on the results achieved on track by their owners.

"A classic example of this is the current saga regarding the number of pit stops. Voices have been raised to underline the fact that various teams, some of whom got to the podium and others who were quite a way off, made four pit stops in the recent Spanish Grand Prix, making the race hard to follow.

"It's a shame that these worthy souls kept quiet two years ago when, at the very same Catalunya Circuit and on the Istanbul track, five of the six drivers who got to those two podiums made exactly the same number of pitstops as did Alonso and (Brazilian Felipe) Massa last Sunday in the Spanish Grand Prix."

Ferrari's outburst has come just five days after Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz attacked the state of F1, after the Spanish Grand Prix, claiming the sport was no longer about racing, but instead was simply about tyre preservation.

Defending triple world champion Vettel floundered as Red Bull failed to make a three-stop plan work and had to slot in an extra change of tyres as they failed to finish with a car on the podium.

Lotus boss Eric Boullier expressed his frustration on Thursday that teams could potentially be penalised for better adapting their cars to 2013's more aggressive rubber.

He said: "There aren't many sports where there are such fundamental changes to an essential ingredient part-way through a season.

"Just imagine for a moment that because a football team can't run as fast as its opponent, the dimensions of the pitch are changed at half time!" - AFP

Rugby: It's all I have to play for, says Wilkinson

Posted: 17 May 2013 06:05 PM PDT

DUBLIN: Jonny Wilkinson admitted Friday that getting a first taste of a European Cup final at the age of 33 represents all he has to play for.

The former England international will be key to Toulon's hopes of victory in Saturday's final against fellow French side Clermont.

"There's no doubt that at this stage in my career, this is all I have got to play for. This gives you an idea of what this represents," said the 2003 World Cup winner.

"These days, I try to make the most of one match at a time.

"But to have the opportunity to play in a game like this for the first time at this stage of my career, it's incredible."

Wilkinson, the leading points scorer in the French Top 14 this season, has known only disappointment in Europe.

He has played in two losing Challenge Cup finals including last year when Toulon were beaten by Toulouse. But he has been a key player in this season's European Cup quarter-final and semi-final wins over Leicester and Saracens respectively.

"It was my first semi-final a few weeks ago and this is my first final," said Wilkinson.

"I realise every day the luck that I have had being here and with this squad which has given me the opportunity. I want to make the most of it. "I am proud to be here, we have done a lot of work this season."

Clermont are the favourites on Saturday where they will attempt to become the first team since 1996 to go through the campaign undefeated.

On Saturday, Wilkinson will come up against opposite number, Australian fly-half Brock James who expressed his admiration for the Englishman during the week.

"I have great respect for his play and also for the man he is," said Wilkinson. "Having someone like him, that's good for Clermont. Playing against him will be a big challenge." - AFP

Doping battle at breaking point

Posted: 17 May 2013 06:02 PM PDT

LAUSANNE: The fight against doping cheats in sports could reach breaking point if more money is not found to finance testing programmes, a top official told AFP.

The director-general of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), David Howman, believes that his organisation is under increasing pressure to catch cheats.

But governments, already feeling the pinch of the global economic crisis, have been unwilling to match their demands with hard cash.

"It really worries me because I think nobody knows how much we have to do now," Howman said in an interview.

"It seems that each year we get asked more and each year we do not get any more money. "At some stage, things will break and I do not want to be there when it happens because it would be very embarrassing for everyone."

He added: "This year we have to sit down with as many people as possible and show them that if we do get more money that certain things that we have been asked to do just will not get done."

Howman was responding to a report given last weekend to the executive committee which examined the alleged "ineffectiveness of testing" programmes, as less than one percent of the approximately 250,000 tests conducted every year lead to a positive case.

The report was put together by an ad-hoc working group, chaired by former WADA president Richard Pound.

A number of suggestions and recommendations were made to improve the system. Some of them have been already included into the last draft of the next world anti-doping code that will be adopted in November, including the obligation for anti-doping bodies to submit their testing plans for approval by WADA.

"It is not just a WADA issue, it is an issue for all the members of the anti-doping community to say: are we really doing a good job or are we pretending we are doing?" said Howman.

"If we are doing a good job, many of those cheats, the sophisticated cheats, would be getting caught, and they are not. Something is not quite right.

"The idea behind the report was to look at anti-doping everywhere, so everybody that is involved is really part of the question to be asked - is it the laboratories, testing agencies, governments, everybody."

Howman is also concerned about the lack of incentives to catch dopers observed in the international federations or the national anti-doping agencies, who are often reluctant to see major names caught up in a doping scandal.

"Nobody wants a controversy. You don't want your heroes testing positive," said the New Zealander. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Three men to be charged for election-related offences

Posted: 17 May 2013 06:42 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Solicitor-General II Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah said three men will charged in the Magistrate's Court for committing election-related offences.

One will be charged in the Magistrate's Court in Yan, Kedah on Sunday for intentionally causing hurt to the complainant armed with a knife, he told a press conference here Friday.

Two more men, one will be charged in the Magistrate's Court in Klang and Keningau, Sabah respectively on Monday for intentionally causing hurt to the complainants.

Tun Abdul Majid said that since Monday, 25 cases have been directed for further investigation, but no further action will be taken on 29 cases. - Bernama

Singapore confirms Ghani Othman did not commit offence during GE13 campaigning

Posted: 17 May 2013 06:40 AM PDT

SINGAPORE: The Singapore authorities have clarified there was no offence on the part of former Johor menteri besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman when he visited the republic during the campaigning period for the general election.

In response to media queries and a police report on Abdul Ghani allegedly canvassing for votes in Singapore on May 2, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs issued the following statement:

"The Singapore Police Force confirms that a report was lodged regarding Mr Ghani's visit to Singapore on May 2, 2013. The police's assessment is that no offence is disclosed from this report.

"The acts referred to in the report such as arriving in Singapore, having breakfast or speaking to reporters do not constitute an offence.

"In the case of Mr Ghani, it would appear that there was no campaigning, although some members of his team were wearing campaign shirts," it said.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has registered with the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore that campaigning activities by foreigners are not allowed in Singapore.

"In particular, the wearing of campaign shirts by some of Mr Ghani's team in Singapore during the Malaysian General Election period could be misconstrued and such cases should not recur."

Ghani lost to DAP's Lim Kit Siang in the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat by a majority of 14,762 votes.

Rural-based PRS will only accept posts related to people

Posted: 17 May 2013 06:51 AM PDT

KUCHING: Parti Rakyat Sarawak's parliamentarians should be given Cabinet posts that are relevant to the people they represent, says president Tan Sri James Jemut Masing.

Masing told reporters after chairing a special supreme council meeting at the party headquarters near Jalan Pending here that being a rural-based party, PRS would not accept other posts given to it.

He said the rural areas of Sarawak, being Barisan's "fixed deposit", should be taken care of properly, otherwise the voters would withdraw their support.

"That is what we are worried about," he said adding that he would meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the party's disappointment over the appointment of its MPs as federal ministers.

He said Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum's decision not to accept a deputy tourism minister's position reflected the attitude and pride of the new generation of Dayaks who felt that if something was not done properly, they would stand their ground.

In this respect, he said PRS' stand was that the party be given posts or portfolios that were relevant to the people it represented and it would not accept just any post.

"We think that whatever position is given to PRS must be one which can be of help to the rural people. Not just any position will do. It's the portfolio that counts most," he said.

Asked what portfolio would be appropriate for PRS, he said it could be anything that dealt with the progress and well-being of the rural people in the state.

Asked if PRS would pull out of Barisan if its request was not met, Masing said that had never crossed their mind, adding: "We are true blue Barisan people."

On PRS deputy president Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun's hesitation to accept the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department post, Masing said it was because it was not known what responsibility Entulu would have.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

The travelling Guy

Posted: 16 May 2013 04:54 PM PDT

Guy Delisle's travelogue graphic novels are a wonderful window to some of the most culturally enigmatic places in the world.


AS a comic book fan, my desire to escape into these fantastical worlds of wonder sometimes leads me to forget that I already live in a world full of wonders.

However, as much as I would love to travel the world and visit each and every wonderful country out there, there are still limits to where I can go.

Fortunately, we've got people like Guy Delisle, who has had the privilege and opportunity to travel the world and tell us about it in comic book form.

Hailing from Quebec, Canada, Delisle is a cartoonist and former animator most famous for a series of bestselling travelogue graphic novels. The first two – Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China (2000) and Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (2003) – were based on his experiences working as an animator in China and North Korea; while in Burma Chronicles (2007) and his latest, Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City (2011), he recounts his experience being a stay-home father to two children in those vastly different countries.

Reading more like journals about his own experiences than a comprehensive guide to those countries, Delisle's books are fascinating in the sense that they are set in places most of us would probably never ever set foot in, let alone survive in for a year.

Sure, China and Myanmar may not seem as exotic to us as they would to a Canadian cartoonist living in France, but his insights on Jerusalem and Pyongyang, on the other hand, are fascinating peeks into life there.

Pyongyang, in particular, seems to be the book that resonates most with readers, to the point that a movie adaptation is already planned – to be directed by Gore Verbinski (who directed the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and the upcoming The Lone Ranger), no less.

It's hard to see Verbinski making a movie that stays true to Delisle's book, though, as most of the pages feature the animator slouched over computers, eating alone in empty restaurants, and talking to his translator.

As an insight into the secretive world of North Korea, however, Pyongyang is a fascinating read. Drawn in a clean and uncomplicated cartoonish style, the book maintains a largely neutral tone throughout, with Delisle wisely choosing to focus solely on the things he witnesses and experiences rather than pass judgement on the country and its culture.

Hence, what we get here is a charmingly honest and frequently witty journal about an expatriate's life in North Korea, and the culture shock that comes with it.

Sure, this sometimes limits many of his panels to lonely and sometimes mundane scenarios at his hotel, his restaurant, or offices, but these scenes feel authentic and real – not some fabricated, over-dramatised fairytale or Hollywoodproduction.

It's not terribly exciting stuff most of the time (for instance, the opening of a new restaurant is a "big deal" in his "little universe", while in another panel, he gets so bored that he scrutinises the toothpicks and concludes that they are hand carved), but what makes the story so fascinating are his astute observations about the eccentricities, oddities and beliefs there, which actually made me want to visit the country just to see if they are really true.

Compared to the loneliness and otherworldly atmosphere that resonates throughout Pyongyang, there seems to be a lot more happening within the pages of Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City. The city is right smack in the middle of the Israel-Palestine conflict zone after all, so it stands to reason that Delisle would have a lot more to write and draw about in this book than in his previous ones.

Being a stay-home father in Jerusalem (his partner was an administrative worker with Doctors Without Borders) meant he was largely left to his own devices and could wander around the city making the sort of quaint observations that normal tourists probably would not notice.

To his credit, he also tries to find out as much as possible about the country as he can – making the effort to visit different significant places and proactively seeking out new experiences, including a visit to a border checkpoint where he witnesses a fracas involving stones and tear gas.

Significantly thicker than his previous books, Jerusalem is also a much more comprehensive and informative tome, with some good observations on the complicated religious, social and political structure in the city, and some detailed yet easy to understand explanation about the history of the region and as well as the conflict itself.

It's not all guns, bombs and tear gas, of course – ultimately, this is still a book about a cartoonist and stay-home dad trying to raise his family and live a normal life in Jerusalem. Besides his adventures and his observations on the country, Delisle also writes about normal, everyday subjects like traffic jams and grocery shopping, even dedicating three whole pages to an attempt at retrieving his car keys from the gap between an elevator and the floor.

The combination of Delisle's simple and mundane everyday life and the ways he copes with the eccentricities and obstacles he faces makes his travelogues fascinating reads.

It also helps that he's pretty witty, and has the knack of seeing the funny and lighter side of things, even when he is writing about heavy subjects like war and oppression.

If you're looking for a sociopolitical analysis or a detailed cultural critique on North Korea or Jerusalem, then you're reading the wrong books. Delisle isn't interested in telling you what to think about these countries, he merely shows you what he saw and experienced when he was there.

By the time you've seen these countries through his eyes (and drawings), though, you will be ready to find out even more about – and perhaps, all set to visit – these little worlds of wonder yourself.

> Guy Delisle's graphic novels are available at Kinokuniya bookstore, Suria KLCC. For further enquiries, call 03-21648133, email ebd3_kbm@kinokuniya.co.jp, or visit kinokuniya.com/my.

Rembrandt’s dark genius shines in new comic

Posted: 17 May 2013 03:39 AM PDT

A NEW no-holds-barred graphic novel biography of Rembrandt strives to fill in the often dark, drunken and erotic gaps in the tragic life of one of the most famous of Dutch artists.

Rembrandt by comic book artist Typex shows the painter as you've never seen him before: cantankerous, obsessive and unfaithful.

Rembrandt's life, 1606-1669, spanned the height of the Golden Age, when the Netherlands was awash with bourgeois and aristocratic money, much of it spent on acquiring art, and the book is both sociological and historical.

"High quality art is a sound investment," dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh, who helped launch Rembrandt's career, tells the young artist in the book. "It gives status and prestige."

Rembrandt is being published as his most famous painting, The Night Watch, is moved back into Amsterdam's revamped Rijksmuseum, which commissioned the book during its 10-year renovation.

The book features characters from Rembrandt's life and art, including the main figure in the centre of The Night Watch: black-clad, red-sashed militia leader Captain Frans Banning Cocq.

Banning Cocq at one point questions Rembrandt about an 18-year-old Danish girl the artist slept with the night before, who ended up killing her employer with an axe.

Typex, 50, described by Australian singer Nick Cave as "the second greatest Dutch artist" after Rembrandt, wrote and illustrated the book by "squeezing five years into two-and-a-half years", with 14-hour workdays, a tempo the obsessive Rembrandt would likely have respected.

"I read a bookcase of books about Rembrandt, made a lot of notes, put all the books to one side and got to work," Typex told AFP.

"A lot is not known about Rembrandt. What's known are the official papers, the property contracts, marriage and death records. That's known, and here and there (is) a small commentary," Typex said.

As a result, much of the book is based on anecdotes, but hung on an accurate framework of names and dates.

The book illuminates the art record of Rembrandt's life, which literally fades into the obscurity of his increasingly dark self-portraits.

"You never do paid work any more," laments Rembrandt's long-term lover Hendrickje Stoffels, his former maid. "Just one self portrait after another. I'm really worried."

Rembrandt's wife, his lovers, children and even artistic competitors die, and the artist grows steadily more quarrelsome.

"He had a lot of tragedy, everyone around him died, that's how it was in those days," said Typex. "But I didn't want to make just a sad book.

Typex notably takes a novel approach to the death of Rembrandt's common-law wife Stoffels.

"I told it all from the perspective of the rat that brings the plague – it's not at all a sad event for the rat, he gets food and is having the time of his life," Typex said.

Friend and rival painter Jan Lievens keeps popping up, apparently more commercially successful than Rembrandt in the roaring 1660s.

"These are the sixties," social climber Lievens tells Rembrandt. "People are spoilt. The customer is king. So he thinks."

Rembrandt is shown admiring and then signing in his own name a painting by one of his most gifted students, Carel Fabritius.

Fabritius thanks Rembrandt for having signed the painting in his name, a tradition behind much 21st century confusion about which Rembrandts are really his.

Florentine grand duke Cosimo de' Medici is shown arriving in Amsterdam, trying to track down Rembrandt.

"Stupid tourists," Rembrandt's daughter Cornelia says at the sight of the grand duke trying to pick up Dutch girls in a scene reminiscent of Amsterdam today.

"Tell him that for paintings with pretty girls and bright colours he should look to the print dealer on the corner, not me!" a virtually destitute Rembrandt tells the grand duke.

"And now, all of you get out. Piss off out of my house. Capisce? Arrivederci," a typically irritable Rembrandt cries.

"He was a difficult man, obsessed," said Typex.

"He could have had it easier if he'd been less outspoken, fallen in with the tastes of rich people. But he just didn't have the social capacity for that." – AFP Relaxnews

A loaf affair

Posted: 16 May 2013 04:56 PM PDT

Beautiful bread and yummy recipes from mummies are just two of the features that make this month's issue of Flavours a great pick-me-up.

IT'S a product of passion. Artisanal bread makers address the rise in interest in unique breads, lovingly and slowly made with levain, what the French call the pre-ferment culture that leavens the bread; this is deemed "real" bread due to its nutritional values and preservative-free nature.

Sporting an almost edible-looking cover, the May issue of Flavours talks to bread lovers running bakeries right here in Malaysia that experiment with crunchy baguettes, focaccia, ciabatta and sourdough, among others, and why there's a growing market of young people who adore artisanal breads.

Nothing taste better than food sprinkled with love, of course, and in Mummy's Yummies, squash queen Datuk Nicol David, singer Yuna, Capital FM DJ Alison Victor, theatre veteran Jo Kukathas and others share with readers their favourite homecooked dishes prepared by their mothers. Don't wait till Mother's Day next year to present mum with one of these lip-smacking authentic dishes that you can make from the recipes provided.

If you're looking for something healthy, look no further than ulam, that uniquely Malay version of salads. Restaurateur and chef Shukri Shafie attributes his sharp mind and fit body to the green wonder, very much part of the traditional Malay cooking that inspires him.

And what about the environment in which you're going to try all the delicious recipes featured this month? World's Coolest Kitsche-en features Marco Polo Design that can bring colour to monotonous kitchens with images and shades inspired by the classic 1960s movie, La Dolce Vita.

Enjoy a cuppa after every meal? So do the Thais, apparently. The Coffee Culture column visits the independent espresso cafes that are popular in Chiang Mai. The 700-year-old city is commonly regarded as the coffee capital of the nation and hosts the Thailand Royal Coffee Research centre. Hop on as the writer tours the outlets and gets a whiff of coffee culture, Thai-style.

And, as always, Malaysia's premier food and lifestyle magazine doesn't disappoint when it comes to news bites and useful tips: Find out why olive oil keeps hunger pangs away, for instance, or, if you are a tortilla fan, discover the brand that can sate your needs.

Do you prefer the salty, crispy version or the mild, chewy ones? Get the low-down on chips. And to mitigate that guilty pleasure, why not focus on fresh herbs? Choose the ideal one among the herb-cutters featured in the issue to save your ringgit.

> Get your copy of Flavours at all good newsagents and bookstores nationwide. And make sure you get the free booklet featuring The Art Of Simple Cooking that comes along with this month's issue.

Flavours is published by Star Publications (M) Bhd.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Watson sheds Harry Potter image for Coppola Cannes pic

Posted: 17 May 2013 12:25 AM PDT

CANNES (AFP) - Harry Potter star Emma Watson abandons magic for pole-dancing and cat burglary in Sofia Coppola's latest movie, one of two Cannes contenders on Thursday with twists on the girls-gone-wild theme.

The Bling Ring is based on true events in fame-fixated Los Angeles where a gang of teenagers in 2009 broke into the mansions of celebrities including Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox.

Snatching millions of dollars' worth of jewellery and designer frocks, they sought to grab a piece of the A-list lifestyle, becoming minor social media stars themselves in the process.

"The story couldn't have happened 10 years ago and so I thought it was an interesting story for a movie that said so much about our culture today," Coppola told reporters.

The British Watson puts on a Valley Girl accent to play Nicki, the product of New Age home-schooling and flashy consumer culture who links up with a group that learns that globe-trotting stars often don't bother much with home security.

Watson said moving from her role as Hermione in one of cinema's biggest franchises to an unsympathetic mall rat required her to take in hours of reality television.

"I watched a lot of the Kardashians, I watched a lot of Paris Hilton, I watched a lot of The Hills," she said.

"It would be very easy for Nicki to feel like a parody, not real, and somehow I had to understand and empathise with her and that was really my biggest challenge, second to getting the accent down -- it's a very specific dialect."

Paris Hilton, who leaves her house keys under her doormat, is an early victim and Coppola's camera ogles her wardrobe of slinky dresses and hip-hop-calibre baubles, and a private nightclub festooned with animal prints.

It is there that Nicki gives Hilton's dance pole a spin, prepping for nights out clubbing when she hopes to get noticed by a producer and be cast in a music video.

Watson said Coppola allowed her to ad-lib and let her hair down on set, which she described as a welcome change.

"It was nice to work with someone that's really spontaneous as well and I could work in a way that was a lot more loose than I was really used to -- I'm used to really having to stick to my lines," she said.

When the ring is finally caught thanks to grainy security video at another star's home and their own selfies (photographs of oneself taken with mobile phones) on Facebook, Nicki proves a master at media spin.

Opening Cannes' Un Certain Regard sidebar section for edgy new cinema, The Bling Ring drew polite applause at a packed press screening ahead of its red-carpet premiere. Hilton, who lent Coppola her home for the filming, has said she plans to attend.

Britain's daily Guardian called it "an interesting surprise".

"It puts you inside the unwholesome opium den of celeb-worship, and when the gang infiltrate Hilton's bizarre home, a Tutankhamun's tomb of kitsch, there is a real frisson," it said.

Meanwhile in the main competition, France's Francois Ozon unveiled Young And Beautiful set among Paris' gilded youth with their own ennui-driven lives on the edge.

Seventeen-year-old Isabelle spends a sun-kissed family vacation in southern France where she loses her virginity to a sweet German fellow tourist.

Once back at school, Isabelle -- played by Marine Vacth -- inexplicably begins turning tricks, promoting herself online.

One regular john is a Viagra-popping married man in his 70s. When he has a fatal heart attack during one of their trysts, Isabelle is questioned by the police and her double life comes to light.

No one, least of all Isabelle, can articulate why she turned to prostitution but the sly smile that crosses her rosebud lips when clients flood her phone with text messages provides a vague clue.

"In all the films, French and others, I had the impression that youth was idealised while I have a painful memory of my own adolescence," Ozon said after a well-received screening.

"The idea was to create a portrait of a young girl today rooted in a certain reality but not to give all the answers, sharing the mystery (of Isabelle) with the audience."

Young And Beautiful is one of 20 films in competition for the coveted Palme d'Or top prize at Cannes which wraps up on May 26.

Scarlett Johansson to direct 'Summer Crossing'

Posted: 16 May 2013 09:21 PM PDT

Scarlett Johansson is finalizing plans to adapt Truman Capote's long-lost first novel, Summer Crossing, the starlet announced at the Film Market during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

Johansson (pic) began working on the Summer Crossing project in 2011. This will be the 28-year-old actress's first shot at directing a feature-length film.

She has made one short already, called These Vagabond Shoes, which came out in 2009.

Truman Capote started writing 'Summer Crossing' in 1943 and trashed the unpolished manuscript about 10 years later, feeling it was "thin, clever, unfelt."

But his house-sitter in Brooklyn Heights rescued the manuscript from the trash and the house-sitter's nephew discovered it among Capote's old papers 50 years later, tried unsuccessfully to auction it off through Sotheby's and eventually sold the papers to the New York Public Library.

The novel was finally published in 2005 with the permission of Capote's publisher. It tells the story of doomed love between a 17-year-old New York high-society debutante and a Jewish parking lot attendant in the summer of 1945.

Scarlett Johansson and her partners plan to start shooting in 2014.


Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt back in jail

Posted: 16 May 2013 08:25 PM PDT

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Actor Sanjay Dutt, one of Bollywood's biggest stars, has returned to prison to serve the remainder of a five-year sentence for firearms offences during the Mumbai bombings 20 years ago, forcing at least one film onto the back burner.

Dutt, popular for his role as a do-good gangster in the Munnabhai films, was sentenced to six years jail in 2007 for acquiring illegal weapons from men convicted for the 1993 attacks that killed 257 people.

He served 18 months but then was out on bail, fighting the conviction until a court in March ordered him back to jail.

Projects worth up to 2.5 billion rupees and the fate of several Bollywood movies hung in the balance after the March ruling, but the actor was said to have wrapped up filming for most pending projects in the last few weeks.

But at least one film, the third Munnabhai comedy in which Dutt (pic) was to reprise his role, has been put on the back burner.

Dutt returned to prison late on Thursday night. He was later expected to be moved to a jail in the western city of Pune.

Clad in white kurta pyjamas and sporting a traditional Hindu "tilak" mark on his forehead, Dutt waved at waiting reporters before leaving his house amid heavy security. The actor was accompanied by his wife and sister.

Television showed Dutt being taken to a Mumbai court. He was swamped by media at the court complex and had to beg reporters to move back so that he could get out of his car.

"I have to surrender," the actor said, gesturing with folded hands. "Please move back! I need to go upstairs."

The beefy action hero was the most high profile of 100 people involved in the Mumbai bombings trial, which ended in 12 people receiving the death penalty and lifetime sentences for others.

In 2007, Dutt was cleared of conspiracy charges in the attacks but found guilty of illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a pistol, which he claimed he required to protect himself and his family during a period of rioting in Mumbai.

In March, the Supreme Court reduced the 53-year-old actor's sentence to five years and ordered him back to jail, but in April it gave the actor four extra weeks of freedom to finish some of his Bollywood films. A last-ditch petition was dismissed by the court on Tuesday.

Dutt is best known for his turn in Lage Raho Munnabhai, a comedy about a gangster espousing Gandhian values that won the popular film prize at the National Film Awards for 2006.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Metered cab option available at KLIA

Posted: 17 May 2013 05:40 AM PDT

The new taxi service system that allows city cabs to pick up passengers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) received overwhelming response from taxi drivers.

Although the official starting time for this initiative was 12.30pm on Wednesday, about 140 city cabs started queuing up at the central holding bay near the airport at 9am.

The drivers arrived early in a bid to be the first to pick up passengers from KLIA.

Previously, city cabs could only send passengers to the airport. The right to pick up passengers was given to premium taxi concessionaire Airport Limo (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) decided to introduce the new two-tier service system, involving both limousines and city cabs, to reduce waiting time for passengers to under 10 minutes.

To join the queue for the metered city cabs, passengers have to buy a RM2 coupon at designated counters. Fares are then charged according to the meters.

The city cabs operate from Level One of the KLIA main terminal building while limousines, which charge according to a zone coupon system, operate from Level Three.

During a StarMetro visit to KLIA around 1pm, about 30 city cabs were seen waiting for their turn to pick up passengers.

When approached, the taxi drivers said they welcomed the new initiative and hoped to earn more money by picking up passengers at KLIA.

Nonetheless, they said they were disappointed with the long waiting hours, as supply was more than demand at that time.

At 1pm, 17 coupons were sold at the city taxi counter at Level One. Two other counters were set up at the international and domestic arrival halls to inform passengers of the additional choice.

In response to the cab drivers' complaint, SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar explained that the peak hours were in the morning and evening.

"We understand that the drivers might be frustrated but we are monitoring this new initiative closely and will make improvements as and when necessary," he said.

One of the locals who purchased the coupon, Low Kim Soon, said he preferred the city cabs for their cheaper fare.

The 50-year-old was confident that it would most probably cost less to take the metered city cab from KLIA to USJ.

However, he said the new service should be publicised more within the airport.

"The promotional material should also be in a few different languages," he suggested.

Residents concerned over ominous cracks appearing at their flats

Posted: 16 May 2013 06:59 PM PDT

RESIDENTS at four blocks of low-cost flats with 160 units in Pinggiran Batu Caves, Batu Caves are living in fear after cracks appeared on the ground floor of each block.

The road near the parking area and the culverts has also sunk about one foot.

B. Thuraisingam, 60, who has been living in Block B for 20 years, said the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) had not carried out any maintenance work at the flats for a very long time.

"Besides the cracks at the four blocks, the drains are broken, with concrete slabs covering them missing.

"Water is also seeping underground.

"The flats look shabby as they have not been painted for about 15 years.

"The main entrance to the flats is riddled with potholes and residents, especially the elderly, find it difficult to walk here," he said adding that there was also no proper lighting at the walkway to the flats.

Another resident, Abd Halim Jusoh, 54, who has lived there for 20 years, said he was disappointed with MPS for its lack of care and maintenance.

"Only rubbish is collected.

"Everything else has been left to rot.

"We stopped paying maintenance fees more than a decade ago and only pay our assessment fees now.

"However, this does not mean that we should be neglected.

"We have complained to MPS about the bad conditions here numerous times but to no avail.

"Most of us are still servicing bank loans for our units and we have no other place to go to," said another long-time resident Azhar Kuyob, 50, from Block A.

"I hope MPS will carry out repairs and help maintain the flats," he added.

Another resident T. Puspalingam, 63, who has been living here for 11 years, said MPS should not shirk its duties to the people.

MPS public relations director Mohd Zin Masoad said as there was no joint management body (JMB) for the blocks, the residents' complaints were left unattended to.

He said as the residents had stopped paying maintenance fees, the JMB that was maintaining the flats had been terminated several years ago.

"MPS was not aware of the residents problems.

"We did receive their calls but they must have a meeting and appoint a JMB to look into their welfare," he said.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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