Selasa, 4 Jun 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Brazil calls in army to defuse conflicts over Indian lands

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 07:40 PM PDT

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - President Dilma Rousseff's government said on Tuesday it would send 110 federal troops to the Brazilian farm state of Mato Grosso do Sul to try to prevent more violence between Indians claiming their ancestral territory and ranchers.

Munduruku Indians, many of who are flying for the first time, board a Brazilian Air Force plane to fly to Brasilia for talks with the government, in Altamira June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Lunae Parracho

Munduruku Indians, many of who are flying for the first time, board a Brazilian Air Force plane to fly to Brasilia for talks with the government, in Altamira June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Lunae Parracho

The government has been struggling to defuse tensions with indigenous tribes over farmland in several states as well as over hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.

Tensions escalated in a disputed property in Mato Grosso do Sul that was invaded last week for a second time by Terena Indians angered by the fatal shooting of one of their tribe's members. Local media said the man's cousin was shot and injured on a nearby ranch on Tuesday.

"We must avoid radicalizing a situation that goes back a long way in Brazilian history," Justice Minister Jose Cardozo told reporters after meeting lawmakers from Mato Grosso do Sul in Brasilia.

"We're not going to put out the flames by throwing alcohol on the bonfire," he said.

However, protests have now erupted across the country.

In Rio Grande do Sul state, about 2,000 Kaingang and Guarani Indians were blocking roads to protest the government's decision to put on hold the granting of ancestral lands to indigenous communities, a concession to Brazil's powerful farm lobby.

"The government has abandoned us. Dilma isn't supporting indigenous peoples," Indian chief Deoclides de Paula said by telephone from a blocked highway.

In Curitiba, the Parana state capital, 30 Kaingang Indians invaded the offices of the ruling Workers' Party on Monday and only agreed to leave 10 hours later when they were promised a meeting with Rousseff's chief of staff, Gleisi Hoffmann.

Hoffmann, who will run for governor of Parana next year, said last month that the role of the government's Indian affairs office, Funai, in land decisions would be restricted.

Cardozo, however, stressed on Tuesday that Funai would not be gutted and would continue to play a central role as the main institution that defends Indian rights, though others will be brought in to improve the process of deciding ancestral lands.


The government has been scrambling to avert violence since a 35-year-old Indian man was shot dead last week when police evicted 200 Terena from the disputed cattle ranch of a former congressman.

Angry Terena Indians armed with sticks, bows and arrows reoccupied the property on Friday and set fire to fields and blocked roads on Tuesday.

Late on Monday, a local judge extended for 36 hours the eviction order, allowing more time for a peaceful resolution.

Brazil's indigenous land policy, established in the country's constitution, is considered one of the most progressive in the world, with about 13 percent of the huge South American nation's territory already set aside for Indians.

Farmers say Funai is trying to create reservations on land that has belonged to European-descended settlers for 150 years.

In another move to ease tensions with Brazil's indigenous population, one of Rousseff's ministers, Gilberto Carvalho, met in Brasilia with Munduruku Indians flown in on air force planes from the Tapajos, the only major river in the Amazon basin with no dams.

They want the government to shelve plans to build a dozen dams there, while the government hopes to finish work on the controversial Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River, a huge project aimed at feeding Brazil's fast-growing demand for electricity.

Last week Indians paralyzed work at one of three building sites at Belo Monte, which is slated to become the world's third-largest dam, capable of producing 11,233 megawatts of electricity - equivalent to about 10 percent of Brazil's total current generating capacity.

Belo Monte is a pet project of Rousseff, but has become the target of international criticism by environmental groups. It has also become a stage for Indians from other parts of the Amazon.

"We went to see for ourselves what a hydroelectric dam is and we saw that it has nothing good in store for us," a Munduruku leader told Carvalho, adding that promised development had not benefited the Indians of the Xingu. "We saw Indians being humiliated and we do not want that for our region."

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman and David Brunnstrom)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Magnitude 5.6 earthquake strikes Pacific Ocean near Hawaii

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 06:36 PM PDT

(Reuters) - A 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Hawaii's big island on Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury and no tsunami was generated, a spokesman for the governor said.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean 33 miles (54 km) southeast of Pahala on the big island of Hawaii.

A spokesman for Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said the temblor was felt across the big island and Maui but that authorities had not received any reports of damage or injuries.

Darryl Oliveira, director of the Hawaii County Civil Defense, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the agency sent out a mass notification of the quake via text messages, email and radio broadcasts.

"It was a pretty significant jolt," Oliveira told the newspaper.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

China, Mexico vow broad cooperation as Xi visits; no trade pact soon

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 06:32 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - China and Mexico promised broad cooperation on issues ranging from energy to mining and infrastructure during a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, but any free-trade pact between the emerging market powers is still some way off.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) and China's President Xi Jinping show their documents before a news conference at Los Pinos Presidential Palace in Mexico City June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) and China's President Xi Jinping show their documents before a news conference at Los Pinos Presidential Palace in Mexico City June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico's government has voiced worry about its massive trade deficit with China, an imbalance Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wants to set right.

Mexico wants "to find a greater equilibrium in our trade balance," Pena Nieto said during a joint address to the media with Xi. They did not take questions.

He said the two countries had also agreed to defuse a standoff over textiles that had resulted in litigation.

The two governments signed agreements to cooperate on commercial defence, and agreed on access for Mexican tequila and Mexican pork to the Chinese market.

State oil monopoly Pemex said Export-Import Bank of China would provide it with a $1 billion (653 million pounds) credit line to buy ships and offshore equipment. It also signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Xinxing Cathay International Group to explore ways to work together on pipelines.

More than 15 percent of Mexico's imports came from China in 2012 - an amount worth $57 billion - while just 1.5 percent, or $5.7 billion, of Mexican exports went to the Asian giant.

Xi said China planned to sign commercial contracts to buy an additional $1 billion worth of Mexican goods, but did not specify what.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade said it was too soon for a free-trade agreement between the two countries - something China is eager to pursue.


"I think at this stage it is too early to talk about a free-trade agreement," Meade told local radio.

"I think we are still at a stage at which we are becoming aware of opportunities, opening a space for business dialogue, so it does not seem to be the instrument or path which best serves us," he added, saying it was an alternative to evaluate in the future.

Mexico ran a slight surplus with its global trading partners last year, but posted a huge deficit with China, largely because of an influx of manufactured goods.

Mexico and China have been direct competitors to supply the U.S. market with manufactured goods and Mexican producers have fought to keep the Chinese off their turf.

"We have agreed on the importance of reinforcing mutual political trust, and broadening cooperation," Xi said through a Spanish translator.

Xi is set to address Mexico's Congress on Wednesday before heading to the ancient Maya pyramids of Chichen Itza. He then flies to the United States to meet President Barack Obama later in the week.

Mexico has regained U.S. market share in recent years as the labour-cost differential with China has narrowed sharply, eating into a Chinese cost advantage.

A decade ago, Mexico's average labour costs were nearly three times higher than China's but, according to at least one report this year, hourly wages in Mexico are now lower.

Mexico is part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which aim to boost trade among the Americas, Asia and Australasia. The talks include the United States, Canada and other major economies on the Pacific rim.

China has said it will study the prospect of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

(Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Those crazy, hazy school daze

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 02:44 AM PDT

A great old show and a terrific new one about school life, in a sense, are on the Spudniks' radar this week.

IF I had to go to a school on TV, I'd prefer not to go to William McKinley High School – you know, where the school "rejects" or geeks band together and form a glee club and proceed to sing their problems away ALL THE TIME? Yeah, I'm just not a fan these days.

To me, Glee isn't really about the underdogs anymore – the New Directions are now an award-winning group and goodness knows the kids behave almost as badly as the so-called popular kids in the school. So what's the point again? That with some grooming and attention, underdogs can be obnoxious too?

Shows that revolve around high school or college students aren't supposed to be realistic. It's TV, after all, and we want a little bit of escapism. I mean, really, who wants to watch an hour-long show about a stimulating Maths lesson or a riveting History class or a mind-bending English Literature lesson?

Having said that, one of my most favourite classroom-set shows where the lessons (and the way they were delivered) were actually central to the story was Mind Your Language, a British comedy series in the 1980s about an English teacher – Mr Jeremy Brown (whom I used to think quite handsome, in a geeky way) – and the diverse group of students in his English As A Foreign Language class.

When Oxford graduate Mr Brown turns up for his first day at work, he is warned that the teacher he was replacing had been driven insane by the students. He isn't put off at all ... even after coming face-to-face with the terrifying (I've had nightmares about that woman) Miss Courtney, the headmistress!

While it does appear that Mr Brown is sometimes nearly driven insane, he actually develops quite a rapport with the group of students whose level of English is so terrible it's just ridiculously funny.

Among the motley bunch are Giovanni Capello (George Camiller) who insists that the phrase is "okey-kokey" and not "okey-dokey"; Ranjeet Singh (Albert Moses) who, upon being corrected (which is almost always), put his hands together in prayerlike manner, and says his catch phrase – "a thousand apologies", Ali Nadeem (Dino Shafeek), whose favourite two phrases are "Oh! Blimey" and "squeeze me please", by which he of course means "excuse me please" and Chung Su-Lee (Pik-Sen Lim), who always mixes up her "Rs" and "Ls" (when she says "Mr Blown not alive yet", she means "Mr Brown hasn't arrived yet") and never, ever goes anywhere or does anything without first consulting her Little Red Book Of Mao.

The characters were so stereotypical, but they weren't offensive, really. Much of the humour stemmed from the students' literal and sometimes all-too-creative interpretations of the English language.

In one episode, Mr Brown asks Giovanni to take over his class while he steps out for a minute. Giovanni decides to test the class's vocabulary. He asks Greek student Maximillian Andrea Archimedes Papandrious to tell the class the antonym of the word "bitter".

Max's answer: Lotta.

When asked to explain his obviously wrong answer, Max says: "Sure it is (the right answer!). Opposite of "a bitta (bit of) money" is "a lotta money".

These days, like Ann Marie, I'm on the Community bandwagon. I'll leave it to her to tell you why this whacked-out bunch of maladjusted adults have caught our fancy (lest she say I stole her ideas yet again!). – SI

I ALWAYS loved school. But I must admit, thanks to TV, I did occasionally wish that I was in an American school. When I was a kid, I remember watching Square Pegs, and wanting so much to be in that environment. And even much later on in life, shows like Veronica Mars and The O.C. made me wish I had had a different schooling life – with lockers and water coolers and moving classrooms.

These days I watch nothing but Community, like Indra just alluded to. It is one of the best shows I have watched in a long time. Created by Dan Harmon, the sitcom follows a group of students that belong to a study group at a community college in Greendale, Colorado (no such place in real life I think). The ensemble cast is so diverse and eccentric, you just instantly fall in love with them. I want to introduce each one to you in loving detail but I have a word count to stick to. So I'm going to boil it down to my favourites – the gorgeous Jeff Winger (team leader, portrayed by the oh-so-handsome Joel McHale) and obligatory Arab kid, Abed (played by the amazing Danny Pudi).

To put things in perspective though, Abed is not your ordinary Arab kid, he's part Polish and has Asperger's. I am so enamoured by Abed, that I have started to envision everyday scenarios the way he does – as if they were television plots. Chevy Chase and Ken Jeong bring cinematic credentials to the TV show to boot.

The series is especially awesome because it relies heavily on pop culture references, and takes the mickey out of film and television clich├ęs – Abed as Batman kills me every time, the paintball wars and the end of Season 1 and 2 were to die for, Abed's Claymation Christmas episode gave new meaning to the day even for me, the Pulp Fiction parody ... I could go on and on. The truth is, as much as I loved it before, school was never this much fun. – AMC

Crossword champs!

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 02:47 AM PDT

TWO weeks ago, the Sofa Spudniks column celebrated its second birthday and we ran a crossword puzzle challenge for our fans (well ... we hoped we had fans).

At first we waited with trepidation; what if no one wrote back? Then ... hooray! We got a whole stack of mail (pic, some via PosLaju to boot) and we've narrowed down our winner's list to these lucky five all-correct, first-in entries. And the winners are (drum roll please):

1. Viranee Intachat (IC No: 73xxxx-xx-5600)

2. Donovan Choo Min Wy (IC No: 89xxxx-xx-5947)

3. Chee Wai Hook (IC No: 71xxxx-xx-5015)

4. Deepak Gidvani s/o Ashok Kumar (IC No: 85xxxx-xx-5319)

5. Hazlina Teh Muhammad (IC No: 67xxxx-xx-5036)

You five will be receiving your goodies soon as Indra gets herself to the post office.

Thank you Viranee of Jitra, Kedah, for your confidence-boosting note. She said:

Dearest Indra and Ann Marie, Thank you for two great years and may there be more to come! I grew up in the 70s and 80s and I love it when you review or mention TV shows from that era.

Many times your articles make me chuckle aloud or get me teary-eyed too! Keep up the good job and may TV live long and prosper.

P.S. For clue No16 (across), although I answered Peyton Place (for Ryan O'Neal), wasn't Lee Majors the only husband Farrah Fawcett ever had? Ryan was only her lover and partner for many years.

Gursharan Kaur of PJ wrote: Ann Marie, thanks for making me mental with Peyton Place. LOL.

Tung Soo Sze, also of PJ, said: I love reading your column, especially on the 70s and 80s TV shows. Have more puzzles like this, it's very enjoyable and fun. Definitely reminded me of my childhood. Do keep up the good work!

Thank you all. Just to set the record straight, Ann Marie (she cringes in shame) was wrong – Ryan O'Neal was not married to Farrah Fawcett. Thanks everyone for your participation. It was great fun doing this!

Tales worth telling

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 02:48 AM PDT

Star2 takes a stab at scriptwriting to pen their dream plots for some high-profiled spin-offs.

THE past few weeks have seen some surprising changes in the American television scene, thanks to this year's upfront sessions. Many shows that were initially thought to be doing well have been cancelled, while some programmes that have waned in popularity are still getting the greenlight for another season or two.

New series have also been ordered by a few of the big studios, and the more promising – or exciting – ones include Almost Human, Believe (both of which are produced by director J.J. Abrams' company, Bad Robot), About A Boy, Mom, Michael J. Fox Show and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There are also a number of spin-offs or prequels of really popular shows like The Originals (The Vampire Diaries), Ravenswood (Pretty Little Liars), 24: Live Another Day (24) and Once Upon A Time In Wonderland (Once Upon A Time).

Here's our quirky take – our wishlist, if you will – on these four new spin-offs.

The Originals

From: The Vampire Diaries

Advertised storyline: In The Originals, werewolf vampire hybrid Klaus (played by actor Joseph Morgan) returns to the French Quarter of New Orleans, and viewers get to learn more about his mysterious origins. The upcoming series also focuses on the "Original" family of vampires when Klaus reunites with his former protege, the dreaded Marcel (Charles Michael Davis). Later on, he learns that a former one-night stand, Hayley (Phoebe Tonkins) is pregnant with his child.

What we want to see: Judging from the way the writers outlined the plot, it looks like Klaus is in for some big-time dramatic family reunion. I'd like to see Klaus retire from searching for a cure for his werewolf "curse" and just focus on being a dad. This way, he gets to take his kid hunting for vampires, terrorise humans and you know, just be their own wolfpack. They should also rename the show Modern Werewolf Family.

Dream cast: Who gets to play the kid? That Luke Dunphy boy (Nolan Gould) from Modern Family would be a great candidate. Maybe Benicio Del Toro (simply because he was the "Wolfman") as Klaus' long-lost brother, so that the kid gets a great uncle who'll take him to do stupid things. Oh, Wesley Snipes can be the family guardian. Just because. – Angelin Yeoh


From: Pretty Little Liars

Advertised storyline: Set in the fictional town of Ravenswood, Pennsylvania, the series follows five strangers whose lives become intertwined by a deadly curse.

What we want to see: In Ravenswood, which is just one town over from Rosewood – where Pretty Little Liars is set – lives (horror! shock!) Alison (Sasha Pieterse)! Yes, the very same Alison who is supposed to be dead (you'd know this if you watched PLL). Never mind that; in soap operas, characters who are dead have been known to be resurrected. Student by day (karma's a b**** as she's being bullied in her new school), Alison moonlights as a call girl at night. Why? She needs the money to fund the on-going torture of her four friends in Rosewood. Yes, Alison is "A" and is in cahoots with Red Coat (who still remains a mystery) to inflict emotional and psychological pain on Hanna, Spencer, Aria and Emily. Her illicit occupation soon leads her to another problem. One of her regular Johns is found dead in her boudoir but Alison couldn't have killed him as she was in Rosewood spying on her friends. She can't possibly go to the police without her identity revealed. So, her madame helps discard the body ... but Alison has a hefty price to pay!

Dream cast: Marcia Cross (as the Madame), Julian McMahon (as the dead John appearing in flashbacks), Becki Newton and Lindsay Lohan (as Alison's colleagues), Amanda Bynes (as the Queen Bee who bullies Alison), Colton Haynes (as Queen Bee's boyfriend who might or might not have some feelings for Alison) and Christopher Meloni (as Alison's principal who has a dark past).

– Gordon Kho

Once Upon A Time In Wonderland

From: Once Upon A Time

Advertised storyline: Loosely based on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, this fantasy drama is set in Victorian times in London, where a more grown up Alice is institutionalised by her father who thought that she had lost her mind after talking about falling in love with a genie named Cyrus and hanging out with a talking rabbit. Just as she's about to get a "permanent cure", in walks a Leather Jacket-Wearing stranger ...

What we want to see: Instead of forever pining for her lost love aka Cyrus, Alice should concentrate on her career as a much sought-after nanny in the "other wonderland", which I'm hoping is a lot like Beverly Hills. Or perhaps even Beverly Hills itself. Since Alice has a proclivity to fantasies and talking rabbits, kids just adore her. Her daily routines and dramas would include ducking sexual advances from employees, hiding from a stalker (Cyrus!), avoiding confrontation from "The Mothers", a group of loveless, bitter careerwomen whose kids prefer spending time with the help than them. Oh, and her love life is rocking, thanks to Leather Jacket-Wearing stranger.

Dream cast: AnnaSophia Robb as Alice, with Kristin Chenoweth as leader of The Mothers. Robert Pattinson can be Cyrus (the character wears a big ruby necklace, which would go well with Pattinson's glistening chest), while James McAvoy is perfect as Leather Jacket-Wearing stranger. – Melody L. Goh

24: Live Another Day

From: 24

Advertised storyline: Jack Bauer returns.

What we want to see: The show is set several years following the events of the final season of 24, when Jack Bauer walked into the unknown. He resurfaces after a newly elected president decides to acknowledge the sacrifices and good work Jack has put in over the years to keep the country safe. A press conference is called at the White House, and Jack arrives with his daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) and best friend Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) – and yes, he's wearing a smile, for a change. Of course, that is also the day when a disgruntled soldier decides to strike an attack on the White House with his loyal men. Kim is caught in the crossfire and dies (to the delight of fans, yay!). The entire season – which is just 12-episode long this time around – is shot within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – from the West Wing to the President's living quarters to the secret labyrinth beneath the grounds of White House. Jack has to put away his grief – and get back into action to save White House, and all in it, from going down.

Dream cast: It would've been great if Homeland's Damian Lewis was available for the role of the soldier. Since that's not going to happen, we'll take Matthew Fox. To keep the 24 tradition of casting against type when it comes to POTUS, I vote for Jennifer Beals. She plays a strong willed president of multiracial background, whose life partner is a woman. Other actors involved in this political thriller include Madeleine Stowe as the scheming vice president, America Ferrera as the clumsy, and poncho-wearing, press secretary and Tricia Helfer as the hot tempered chief of staff. Yes, it is an all-female administration. – Mumtaj Begum


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

KLCI shrugs off early losses, MMHE, UMW in focus

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 06:49 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips extended their gains on Wednesday, underpinned by some buying of MMHE and UMW, which lifted the FBM KLCI out of its early losses.

At 9.25am, the KLCI was up 0.07 of a point to 1,776.81, after rising 10.41 points on Tuesday. Turnover was 329.39 million shares valued at RM204.14mil. There were 177 gainers, 139 losers and 186 counters unchanged.

Reuters reported Asian res were steady on Wednesday as investors marked time before key U.S. jobs data later this week amid speculation over when the US Federal Reserve's would begin scaling down its massive stimulus programme.

US stocks ended lower on Tuesday, resuming their recent decline as investors sold growth-oriented sectors on worries over a shift in the Fed's current policy, while the dollar was underpinned by the potential for less monetary stimulus.

Hwang DBS Vickers Research said the overnight fall on Wall Street, where the key indices fell between 0.5% and 0.6% at the closing bell, could temper buying interest in Malaysian equities.

It cited that apart from worries of the Fed slowing its bond-purchasing programme, the widened trade deficit for the US in April 2013, there was continued uncertainty in the world economy.

"The local bourse (Malaysian equities) could see challenges with its immediate resistance level standing at 1,785," HDBSVR said.

KLCC was the top gainer, adding 20 sen to RM7.25, MMHE 17 sen to RM3.63 while UMW added 16 sen to RM14.68. Petronas Gas advanced 14 sen to RM21.34.

Leong Fuat, which made its debut on the Main Market, rose 3.5 sen to 63.5 sen. It was the second most active counter with 34.95 million shares done.

MAS was the most active with 123.66 million shares done. It fell two sen to 32.5 sen.


RHB downgrades KNM to Sell, lower fair value of 42 sen

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 06:57 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday June 5, 2013 MYT 9:32:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday June 5, 2013 MYT 9:57:43 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research is downgrading KNM Group Bhd (KNM) to "Sell" from "Neutral" with a reduced fair value of 42 sen from 69 sen in line with its lower earnings projection and uncertainties in KNM's prospects.

RHB Research said on Wednesday its unit KNM Project Services had sold its entire 80% stake in Energy Park Investments for 800 pound sterling (RM3,790) to explore an alternative corporate structure and to finance its 80MW waste-to-energy plant in Peterborough, England.

"While the announcement does not mean that KNM will abort the Peterborough project, we believe there could be potential delays as funding would likely be an issue. KNM's balance sheet will be stretched if it was to undertake the project," it said.

RHB Research lowered its estimates due to KNM's weak prospects for its order book replenishment and weak operational capabilities to execute its projects.

"We lower our financial year (FY) 2013 and 2014 revenue forecasts by 15.4% and 15.5% respectively. Consequently, we reduce our earnings projections by 24.8% for FY2013 and 20.1% for FY2014," it said.


RHB Research maintains Buy on Alam Maritim, FV RM1.65

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 06:59 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research is maintaining its "Buy" call for Alam Maritim Resources Bhd with an unchanged fair value at RM1.65 due to its success in securing contract awards.

"The stock's key re-rating catalysts are more contract awards for its subsea division, and success in its bid for contracts in the Pan-Malaysia transportation and installation project which is under its offshore installation and construction division," it said on Wednesday.

RHB Research said its unit received a RM71.5mil contract to provide one anchor handling tug supply vessel.

"With the win, we estimate that some 80% of Alam Maritim's vessels are currently on long term charters, which will boost to the company's earnings visibility for the next four years," it said.

The research house said Alam Maritim's earning are expected to be supported by its dominanti offshore support vessel divisions, underpinned by steadier utilisation and charter rates.

"Also, the company's subsea division is no longer a liability, having secured a three-year contract from Talisman earlier this year.

"We also see further upside in its subsea division, as we understand that other production-sharing contractors such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Murphy are likely to award their inspection, repair and maintenance jobs very soon," it said.



The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Khairy emphasises importance of sports science

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 03:52 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly-appointed Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has laid down his plans for Malaysian sports – highlighting the importance of sports science and grassroots development.

Khairy, who assumed the post last month when he took over from Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, also intends to make the National Sports Institute (NSI) a world class unit in terms of facility and personnel.

"Right now, we are in the final phase of a strategic plan in making the NSI a world class facility by 2020," said Khairy, who visited the NSI in Bukit Jalil for the first time with Deputy Minister Datuk M. Saravanan yesterday.

"The first part of the plan revolves around increasing the staff at NSI, not just in quantity but in quality as well. For me, the NSI is important because I truly believe in sports science and evidence-based sports development.

"And for that, my ministry will give a lot of support to NSI in order to produce athletes who can perform at their best at the highest level.

"Right now, the level of awareness towards sports science by our athletes is still quite low. I want to work closely with NSI, the National Sports Council (NSC) and all the national sports associations to encourage the application of sports science in training and preparation.

"I don't want all the resources to be channelled towards game reviews only. I want the athletes to use the sports science facilities we have for their own preparations in terms of nutrition, psychology and physical conditioning.

"In fact, it's not just the athletes who need to adapt, it's the coaches too who must believe in sports science ... because that's how modern sports is. We will not interrupt the regular training routines but coaches have to be serious with sports science too.

"A fine example of an athlete who truly believes in sports science is (Lee) Chong Wei. He's really serious about this and it shows because even though he's 30 years old, he still performs at the highest level."

Khairy, who also met several athletes at the NSI, added that the second part of his plan was to have a talent identification programme to spot bright talents at an early age.

"I will chair a workforce, which will enlist the help of the Education Ministry, that aims to identify talented athletes at a younger age," said Khairy.

"If we do not have a good talent identification programme, we will not have any good talent in the next five to 10 years.

"That's why we need to identify these young talents early – preferably from primary school onwards and expose them to the NSC and NSI training system early in order for them to become future national athletes."

Cyclists face stiffer test in second leg of South-East Asian GP

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 03:44 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian cyclists may have dominated the first-leg of the South-East Asian Grand Prix, which concluded at the Cheras Velodrome on Monday, but there's nothing for them to gloat about.

Their real test begins this weekend, when they go up against stronger riders from Iran, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Australia.

Except for world keirin champion Shane Perkins and his Australian team-mate Scott Sunderland, who won the gold medal in the 1km time trial at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the locals were pitted against each other in almost every other discipline.

As such, national cyclists like London Olympian Fatehah Mustafa and top junior Muhd Firdaus Mohd Zonis breezed through their events.

Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad, however, is aware that things will be different in the second leg this weekend.

"There are not many races in Asia offering Olympic ranking points," he said.

"A Grand Prix meet has to have the participation of four foreign countries for it to be eligible to give out ranking points.

"Fatehah won her events (sprint, team sprint and keirin) but she wasn't eligible for points as there were no foreign entries for women's elite.

"It'll be different this weekend as the Australian national women cyclists will be here.

"Even the men's field will be exciting. Our top cyclists – Azizulhasni Awang and Josiah Ng – are flying home from their Melbourne base with coach John Beasley.

"It will be a good gauge of their preparations for the new track cycling season."

Fatehah too is looking to pick up ranking points in the second leg this weekend.

"I know that Australia's Kaarle McCulloch, who partnered Anna Meares for the women's team sprint bronze medal at the London Olympics last year, is coming," Fatehah said.

"I often raced against the Australians in Melbourne and am looking forward to the challenge.

"This will be a test for me to prepare myself before I compete in the German Grand Prix, which also offers ranking points, later this month."

Third time’s the charm as Linda lands floor exercise gold

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 03:45 PM PDT

SHAH ALAM: Third time's the charm for Sarawak's Linda Lim as she won gold in the floor exercise of the National Schools (MSSSM) artistic gymnastics championships at Dewan Gimnastik, Selangor National Sports Council, Seksyen 6 in Shah Alam.

Competing in the girls' Under-12 category, Linda marked her third MSSM outing by scoring 12.20 points to win her first medal of the championships.

"I'm so happy!," she said.

"I was very determined to bring home a medal this year."

The 12-year-old SJK (C) Chung Hwa student from Kuching, Sarawak, had been longing for a medal after coming up short in 2011 and 2012.

Selangor's Khaliesa Zaiful Azian took home the silver medal with 11.85 points while Sarawak's Cassandra Lavigne (11.80) finished third.

In fact, Sarawak's girls performed well in the floor exercise with all five girls finishing in the top six among the 40 competitors as the other three girls in the team – Sufi As-Sofiyah Kadir (11.70), Audrey Jude Rendih (11.65) and Nur Sofea Idayah Abdullah (11.35) – finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

Linda also won a silver in the uneven bars, scoring 10.05 points to finish behind team-mate Sufi As-Sofiyah (10.35). Selangor's Khaliesa clinched bronze with 8.65 points.

It was a good day for Sarawak as Esmelda Arecia Menti Alfred Geling also delivered two gold medals for the state – winning the uneven bars (12.00) and floor exercise (12.95) in the girls' Under-15 category.

In the boys' Under-12, Selangor's Douglas Ng, who is being coached by former national gymnast Ng Shu Wai, opened his account with two medals – gold in the parallel bars (18.95) and bronze in the vault (8.45).


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MoCS: Form a Barisan-Pakatan ‘coalition of national reconciliation’

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 08:15 AM PDT

KUCHING: A reform movement has proposed the formation of a "unity government" between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat to restore national understanding and unity which it claimed had taken a beating following the recent general election.

The Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) said the country had been "besieged with negatives" like street demonstrations and protests in the last one month.

"We are now a nation badly divided. Politics has torn the people asunder in a way never witnessed before," said Francis Paul Siah, the movement's coordinator.

He said Pakatan led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's Barisan coalition should defuse the volatile political atmosphere by holding talks to form a "government of national reconciliation".

"I appeal to Najib and Anwar to lead Malaysians on the journey towards national reconciliation. Let the politics of conscience' be the guiding light and cast aside the politics of pride and ego," he said.

Stressing that it was not a case of Pakatan joining Barisan, but about Pakatan and Barisan coming together to form a new coalition government as partners, Siah said the details and intricacies of the new government such as the cabinet appointments could be sorted out.

"But at the outset, perhaps key positions could be organised in this manner.

"Najib is to remain as prime minister with Anwar as senior minister, holding the finance portfolio.

"(Tan Sri) Muhyiddin Yassin is Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) 1 and can continue at education. Lim Kit Siang is DPM 2 and also anti-corruption minister. DPM 3 is Hadi Awang who is also in charge of Islamic affairs.

"The other portfolios will be organised in a manner that where a Barisan representative is a minister, the deputy will be from Pakatan. The same guideline follows vice versa," he added.

Referring to recent events which he termed as worrying, he said it was disappointing to note politicians from both sides of the political divide no longer sitting down and talking, choosing instead to run to the media to get their messages across or to badmouth one another.

Worse still, the people challenging the election results and expressing their dissatisfaction over electoral discrepancies were taking to the streets, he added.

"We now seem to be a people who enjoy taking part in street demonstrations and public protests.

"Why, do we seriously believe we can create an Arab Spring' here in Malaysia? Let's get real. We are still Malaysians.

"What has become of us? Shouldn't we be ashamed of ourselves? Our behaviour of late is not something we can feel proud about," Siah said.

Though he felt that Anwar and Pakatan leaders had the right to challenge the polls results, staging street demonstrations and illegal protests, however, was not the answer.

In the May 5 elections, Barisan was returned to power but it suffered its worst electoral performance in history, winning only 133 seats against 140 in 2008.

Pakatan, on the other hand, which had earlier voiced its confidence of marching to Putrajaya, won 89 seats, seven more than in the previous general election. However, the Opposition refused to accept the results, claiming electoral discrepancies.

Siah said it was about time that politicians and their supporters stop indulging in "anything negative, either through words or deeds".

"We, the majority of Malaysians who are not politicians, must take a stand and make a decision.

"We must demand that they and their cohorts stop their public mudslinging, their accusations and counter-accusations at once. We must let them know that we have had enough of their nonsense over the past month," he said.

He said what Malaysians wanted was for politicians from Barisan and Pakatan to lead the way towards the change and transformation they had hoped for.

High water level postpones attempt to refloat stuck boat

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 07:48 AM PDT

BELAGA: Two bulldozers from a logging camp have successfully made a temporary road to the left bank of Sungai Rajang where an express boat had sunk in Giam Bungan.

However, attempts to refloat the boat had to be put off as the water level was still high.

The overloaded Kawan Mas capsized on May 28. One person died, two are still missing and 2005 survivors

Belaga District Police Chief, DSP Bakar Sebau said the effort to construct a temporary road started at 1.30pm Tuesday, and the distance between the river bank and the location of the sunken boat was about 50 metres.

"Two bulldozers from the Iron Wall Logging Camp, about 30km from the location of the mishap, successfully made the temporary road on the left bank of the river near where the capsized boat is located.

"According to our plan, scuba divers will hook cables on the boat to be pulled by both bulldozers. However, the water level is still high and the divers cannot do their work," he told reporters at the location, here.

Bakar said the heavy rain Monday night was said to be among the factors causing the level of Sungai Rajang to go up.

The Sarawak Hydro management had been directed to close the dam to enable the water level in the river to drop.

A Bernama survey at the location found the scuba team headed by ASP Saga Chunggat was still waiting for the water level to drop to install the cable to the sunken boat.

Bad weather hampers rescue of 2 M’sian climbers - one dead, one critically ill

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 08:06 AM PDT

NEW DELHI: The unfavourable weather condition is delaying the rescue mission for two Malaysian climbers, one of whom is critically ill and the other confirmed dead.

"The evacuation process is on the way but the weather condition is not favourable to move the young trekker's body and another person who is critically ill," a Malaysian official in Kathmandu, Nepal said.

The climber who died is Mohamad Shahrulnizam Ahmad Nazari, 25, an employee of Putrajaya Corporation.

Both the climbers suffered from acute mountain sickness (AMS) while heading to the Mount Everest base camp on Monday and one died at 5pm (Nepal time) on Monday, he told Bernama when contacted Tuesday.

"The nearest exit point is Lukla Airport. We have to wait for the weather condition to improve before we can bring back the body and the critically ill Malaysian to Kathmandu."

Tenzing-Hillary Airport, also known as Lukla Airport, is a small airport in the town of Lukla, in Khumbu, Solukhumbu district, Sagarmatha zone, eastern Nepal.

"The process of sending them back to Malaysia can only be done once they are in Kathmandu," the officer said. - Bernama


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It's going to cost more to see Mickey Mouse

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 08:47 PM PDT

REUTERS - Walt Disney Co raised single-day admission prices as much as 6.7 percent over the weekend at its theme parks in Florida and California, hikes that are more than five times the rate of inflation.

Higher prices for Disney's theme parks have become an annual tradition. The theme parks and resorts unit provided 20 percent of the company's overall profits in the financial year that ended in September 2012, second only to the company's media unit that includes the behemoth sports channel ESPN.

As of Sunday, one-day entry to Disney's Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida, costs US$95 for a person age 10 or older, a 6.7 percent increase.

A single-day pass to one of two parks at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, rose 5.7 percent to US$92. A park hopper ticket for entry to both California parks on the same day increased 9.6 percent to US$137.

The Consumer Price Index, which measures a sample of goods and services Americans pay for, increased at a 1.1 percent pace for the 12 months that ended in April. A narrower measure of the cost of sporting events rose 1.6 percent.

Disney offers discount prices through multi-day tickets and other tailored offerings. Most patrons choose a multi-day ticket and don't pay the single-day rate, Disney spokesman Bryan Malenius said.

Michael Douglas denies blaming oral sex for his cancer

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 05:36 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: A spokesman for Michael Douglas denied Monday that the Hollywood veteran actor had blamed his throat cancer on oral sex, in a British newspaper interview.

The spokesman said the 68-year-old "Fatal Attraction" star had discussed the link between oral cancers and oral sex, among other risk factors, but was not referring to his own specific case.

"Michael did not say cunnilingus was the cause of his cancer," spokesman Allen Burry told AFP, referring to the star's interview with British daily the Guardian.

"He certainly discussed oral sex in the article, and oral sex is a suspected cause of certain oral cancers, as the doctors in the article did point out. But he did not say this was the specific cause of his personal cancer."

In the newspaper interview Douglas, who stars in the just-released biopic of flamboyant entertainer Liberace, "Behind The Candelabra," said his cancer was caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

"Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus," he was quoted as saying.

"I did worry if the stress caused by my son's incarceration didn't help trigger it. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer," he added, referring to his son Cameron's jailing for drug offenses.

But Douglas's spokesman said the actor was talking in general, not personal terms. "This is not the cause of his cancer," he said.

"Is this a cause of oral cancers? Yes, along with drinking, along with smoking, along with stress, along with pollution. All of those things cause oral cancer.

"Did he specifically say this was the cause of his cancer? No," he added.

A spokesman for Guardian News & Media said: "To the best of our knowledge we have received no complaints about the articles in question from Michael Douglas or his representatives.

"We would of course investigate any complaints about our journalism that we received."

Burry said he had not sought a correction from the British newspaper. "I'm not asking the Guardian to do anything, I think they did enough already," he said.

The two-time Oscar winner revealed in 2010 that he was battling with stage-four cancer, but beat the disease thanks to a grueling regime of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

"I have to check in regularly - now it's every six months - but I'm more than two years clear," he told the Guardian. "And with this kind of cancer, 95 percent of the time it doesn't come back."

Research studies from Malmo University's Faculty of Odontology and in The New England Journal of Medicine both suggest a correlation between oral sex and throat cancer.

HPV infection is also the cause of 99 percent of cases of cervical cancer, according to studies cited by Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

Douglas' wife, Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones, in April received further treatment for bipolar disorder.

The Welsh actress, 43, won an Academy Award in 2003 for her supporting role in "Chicago" and has appeared in films such as "Traffic" and "Ocean's Twelve." - AFP

'Fast 6' tops US box office, as Will Smith flick tanks

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 05:34 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: "Fast & Furious 6" remained in the lead at the North America box office for a second weekend, figures showed Monday, but the big story was the dismal showing for Will Smith's "After Earth."

The post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure, co-starring the Hollywood veteran's son Jaden, made a less-than-stellar $27.5 million to be pushed into third place, behind crime-caper "Now You See Me."

Industry journal Variety called the opening weekend a "crash landing," saying its makers must now pin hopes on the film doing well internationally, where it opens mostly in the next week or two.

"Could 'After Earth' end Will Smith's box office domination?" asked the Hollywood Reporter, noting that the film marks his worst summer opening in two decades.

Every one of Smith's summer event movies has opened at the top of the box office, from "Independence Day" to the "Men in Black" movies, it said.

The 44-year-old is the only actor to have eight films in a row make more than $100 million at the US box office and 10 consecutive films over $150 million internationally, it noted.

Smith is part of "an elite male actor's club whose upper echelons" include Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise, it said. "But, as has already happened to both Cruise and Hanks, Smith is suddenly finding his status as leading man challenged."

"Fast and Furious 6," the action sequel starring Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, stayed in pole position with $35.2 million, ahead of $29.3 million for "Now You See Me" with Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.

"Star Trek: Into Darkness," another sequel, was in fourth spot with $16.8 million, a whisker ahead of computer animated fantasy-adventure "Epic" on $16.6 million at the weekend, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said.

Slipping down to sixth from second spot last week was "The Hangover Part III," starring Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis. The final film in the series, given a thumbs down by many critics, earned $16.4 million.

Robert Downey Jr's return in "Iron Man 3," meanwhile, took seventh place with $8.4 million, while "The Great Gatsby," Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the literary classic, slipped two places, earning $6.5 million in eighth place.

Rounding out the top 10 were a new entry from Bollywood, "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani," a coming of age drama, which earned $1.6 million, and "Mud," with Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, which took $1.2 million in sales. - AFP


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MBSA: Hourly fee of 60sen may start as early as next month

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 05:54 AM PDT

AFTER more than a decade, the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) will increase its parking rate from 40sen an hour to 60sen at all public parking areas in the city.

Shah Alam mayor Datuk Mohd Jaafar Mohd Atan said this was the first time the rate would be increased since 1998.

"The current rates are no longer suitable as we are a city now, not a municipality," he said when met.

At present, the 40sen an hour rate is said to be the lowest in the state when compared to neighbouring councils in Klang, Sepang, Subang Jaya, Kajang and Ampang.

"With the new roads to be gazetted soon, we will be able to reduce parking problems in such areas," said Mohd Jaafar at a fullboard meeting recently.

With the new rate of 60sen an hour, MBSA will now match the parking rate charged by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), while the monthly parking pass will increase from RM60 to RM90 a month.

MBSA also intends to raise the monthly rental of each parking lot managed by parking concessionaire Suasa Efektif Sdn Bhd starting next month from RM15.28 per box to RM22.92

There are a total of 55,842 public parking bays and MBSA hopes to collect some RM1,279,898 in revenue once the new rate takes effect.

Another 16,449 bays which have been gazetted and rented out will contribute some RM377,011.

From this month, a further 9,644 parking bays that will be rented out are expected to bring in an additional RM221,040.

Mohd Jaafar said the increase might come into effect next month or later as they needed time to finalise issues such as the parking machines as well as the gazetting of roads.

Meanwhile, Selangor MCA Youth deputy chairman Datuk Dr Ching Eu Boon questioned why the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor Government waited until after GE13 to increase the parking rate.

He said raising the parking rate in Shah Alam was an inconsiderate move as being the state administrative centre, many government offices were located there.

Civil servants and private sector employees working in Shah Alam will likewise be affected by the higher rate, he said.

"Pakatan touts itself as a government that cares for the people's welfare, but it has glossed over day-to-day matters that impact ordinary Malaysians.

"If the Selangor Pakatan government was sincere, why did it not introduce these new charges before May 5, unless they feared losing votes?," asked Dr Ching.

"Barisan Nasional, on the other hand, has proven our sincerity in alleviating the rakyat's burden.

"As early as Feb 17, 2011, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced a reduction from RM1.60 to RM1 for the toll between Petaling Jaya Selatan and Kampung Medan along the New Pantai Expressway.

"On Jan 28, 2011, the premier also announced there would be no increase in toll for the next five years at the Karak and East Coast Phase One highways.

"He also announced toll rates at PLUS expressways would be frozen for five years when tabling Budget 2011," added Dr Ching

50% off for the disabled

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 05:54 AM PDT

DISABLED people who own and live at the same address in Selangor will be given a 50% discount on their assessment tax to ease their burden as most of them often live on a fixed income.

Petaling Jaya mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad said people with serious or permanent disabilities could apply for the discount.

Selangor government made the decision in March at the state executive council meeting.

"MBPJ has been informed of this decision to give a 50% discount on assessment tax for the disabled to ease their difficulties as most of them live on a fixed income from the state's Welfare Department or do simple jobs," she said after the council's full board meeting.

"Our officers will get the details of the discount scheme sorted out with the state officials for a smooth implementation.

"MBPJ is eager to implement this scheme as it is an important initiative to make it possible for the disabled to live in their homes without the added burden," she said.

She stressed that the council would be strict on the applications as it must be the applicant's principal place of residence and the property must not be rented or leased out.

"Discounts are given to a disabled person who owns and lives in the said property.

"The council's Evaluation and Property Management Department will conduct a visit to the house or apartment and confirm that it is the applicant's residence," she said.

For assessment tax purposes, MBPJ's definition of residence will depend on two factors — physical presence and intention.

Alinah said the application would have to be made on an annual basis by Feb 28.

Disabled people are given a discount according to the following criteria:

·Has lost the use of both limbs. Losing the use of a limb means that the limb has been amputated or its use has been lost by reason of paralysis or other muscular degeneration,

·Is blind in both eyes and has a visual acuity of 5/200 or less, or visual field to five degrees or less, and

·For disabled persons with a Welfare Card, the council's assessor must consider the application without subjecting the person to further medical documentation.

Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association president Anthony Thanasayan said the 50% discount was a good gesture but it does not go far enough.

"Disabled people must be given a total waiver as this is more appropriate. Just like in the case of a total exemption of Malaysian passport and road tax fees for the disabled," he said.

Anthony added that most disabled people were still unemployed and faced a high cost of living for medication, assistive devices and rehabilitation therapies.

"Government entities must strive to improve their services for the disabled and must not make money from their misfortune and be aware of their hardship," he said.


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Soul singer Sharon Jones says she has cancer, postpones album

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 09:05 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Soul group Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings on Monday postponed the release of its forthcoming album and tour after Jones was diagnosed with early-stage bile duct cancer, according to a statement on the band's website.

The singer, 57, is to undergo surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery but will require a "lengthy" rehabilitation period, the statement said.

"Over the last few weeks I haven't felt good and I didn't know what was going on," Jones said in a statement. "We just found out that I have a stage-one tumor on my bile duct. Luckily we caught it really early and fast and the doctors say it's operable and curable!"

Bile ducts carry bile produced by the liver from the gallbladder into the small intestine to aid with digestion.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are best known for the 2007 song 100 Days, 100 Nights and 2010's I Learned The Hard Way.

The group's fifth album, Give The People What They Want, was scheduled to be released on August 6. A new release date has not been announced.

The band is credited with reviving interest in soul music over the past decade and preceding such acts as the late British soul singer Amy Winehouse.

Without Jones, the brassy Dap-Kings have also provided backing music to such artists as Winehouse and British rockers The Heavy and Muse.

Lou Reed says he's 'bigger and stronger' after liver transplant

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 08:57 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lou Reed says he is "bigger and stronger than ever" after a life-saving liver transplant and is looking forward to getting back to performing on stage.

"I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry," the 71-year-old rocker said on his website after his wife revealed news of the transplant at the weekend.

"I am bigger and stronger than ever. My Chen Taiji and health regime has served me well all of these years," Reed said, referring to a traditional martial arts workout regime aimed at promoting health and relaxation.

"I look forward to being on stage performing, and writing more songs to connect with your hearts and spirits and the universe well into the future," said the veteran musician and songwriter, who rose to prominence as the frontman of the 1960s rock band, The Velvet Underground.

Reed's wife Laurie Anderson told The Times of London in an interview published on Saturday that Reed "was dying" before a liver transplant in April.

"My husband had a big surgery, which went very well ... a liver transplant," she said. "It's as serious as it gets. He was dying. You don't get it for fun."

Reed canceled numerous performances scheduled in California in April, including two at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

The singer of now classic songs such as Sweet Jane has enjoyed a successful solo career with 20 studio albums and numerous collaborations with other artists, including country singer Vince Gill and rock group The Killers.

He married Anderson, a performance artist and experimental musician, in 2008. She is six years his junior.

Many shades of Blush

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 02:16 AM PDT

It is hard enough for a band to stay united when its members come from the same background. When they hail from five different cultures, it can seem a recipe for disaster.

But Blush, an all-Asian female pop group comprising members from the Philippines, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and India, say they turn their multifarious nature into an advantage.

Hong Kong native Victoria Chan, 30, says: "There is a lot more diversity in our thoughts and ideas, and we're all impacted by our culture and experiences, so that gives us a lot to work with. The times we've done songwriting, the songs always come from personal real-life experiences ... you bring different things to the table. It's definitely a pro rather than a con."

Natsuko Danjo, 22, from Japan, adds: "As a solo singer, you write all the songs alone but with five of us, each one has gone through different things and has different stories to tell."

The group – including Angeli Flores, 23, from the Philippines; Alisha Budhrani, 21, from India; and Ji Hae-lee, 27, from South Korea – says every member has an equal role in the songwriting process, from composing melodies and beats to penning lyrics.

They came together in 2010 through a talent search across Asia comprising more than 3,500 auditions in China, India, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Their journey was documented in an eight-part mini-series aired on Channel V last year.

Since the group's inception, they have opened for Canadian pop star Justin Bieber and performed alongside dance-pop singer Jessie J, American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson, boy band The Wanted and pop group Black Eyed Peas. Their chart successes include Undivided and Dance On, both which reached top three positions on the Billboard Dance and Club Play Chart.

Blush is working on an upcoming album with multiple Grammy winner Quincy Jones on board as executive producer. Says Budhrani of working with the famous music producer who has collaborated with the likes of Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington and Stevie Wonder: "He tells us about his life experiences and shares with us, words of wisdom such as, 'When it rains, get wet.'"

Chan adds: "He's like Uncle Quincy or family to us. He's really embraced us and is always telling people good things about us." The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network


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