Sabtu, 8 Jun 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Britain's Got Talent' show won by... Hungarians

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 05:33 PM PDT

LONDON: A troupe of Hungarian shadow dancers won the television show "Britain's Got Talent" on Saturday - outshining a slew of homegrown performers and leaving viewers wondering if the programme's name could do with a change.

The eight-member dance group, named Attraction, beat ten British acts to win the public vote on the primetime ITV show and walked away from the final with a 250,000 ($380,000, 290,000 euro) prize.

They had wowed viewers with a series of dance routines performed behind a screen, twisting their bodies to form silhouettes in the shape of everything from Queen Elizabeth II to an elephant.

The Budapest-based group were hot favourites to win - an irony that was not lost on the British press, with The Sun's front-page headline on Saturday reading: "Er, Hungary's got talent".

Simon Cowell, the music mogul who is one of four judges on the panel, said of the result: "It just shows that this country welcomes people from all over the world and they obviously loved this act."

Attraction's leader Zoltan Scuzs described the win as "amazing", adding: "Thank you to all the British public."

The troupe paid tribute to Britain in their final performance, using the red, white and blue flag as their backdrop and contorting themselves into the shape of the British isles, Winston Churchill and the queen.

Along with their 250,000 prize, they won a place on the stage at this year's Royal Variety Performance, an annual gala evening attended on alternate years by the 87-year-old monarch or her heir, Prince Charles.

Attraction have previously competed in both the Hungarian and German equivalents of Britain's Got Talent. - AFP


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U.N. say Mali still precarious, future peacekeepers need equipment

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 09:15 PM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Armed groups in Mali continue to pose a serious security threat to the entire region while African troops forming the core of a U.N. peacekeeping mission deploying next month are not yet properly equipped, the U.N. chief said in a new report.

Brazil President Rousseff's popularity falls for first time - poll

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 08:44 PM PDT

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's approval rating fell for the first time since her term began in January 2011 as concern about inflation and sluggish economic growth grew, the Datafolha polling agency said on Saturday.

Brazilians rating Rousseff's presidency as "good" or "excellent" fell to 57 percent from 65 percent in the previous poll. The Datafolha survey was published in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff attends the launching ceremony of sectoral plans for the mitigation of climate change at the meeting of the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change in Brasilia June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff attends the launching ceremony of sectoral plans for the mitigation of climate change at the meeting of the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change in Brasilia June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

The decline was seen in all age and income groups and in all regions of Brazil, Datafolha said.

While Rousseff, a member of Brazil's Workers' Party, remains the favourite to win presidential elections in October 2014, Datafolha said her weakening popularity reflects Brazilians' dissatisfaction with the performance of their economy and rising concern that consumer prices and unemployment will rise.

The percentage of Brazilians who expect the inflation rate to rise from current levels rose to 51 percent from 45 percent, the poll said.

Inflation rose to 6.5 percent in the 12 months ended May 30, Brazil's IBGE statistics agency said on Friday. It is now at the top of the government's own inflation targeting range of 4.5 percent plus or minus two percentage points.

Economic growth in the first quarter came in below expectations, with gross domestic product rising only 0.6 percent compared with the fourth quarter. Annual GDP growth in 2012 was 1.4 percent.

The risk of inflation limits the ability of Rousseff to promote the expansionist economic policies that have won her many supporters. It also prompted the central bank to raise interest rates to 8 percent from 7.5 percent last week, a move that could hurt already sluggish growth.

On Thursday, Standard & Poor's downgraded its outlook for Brazil's foreign currency debt rating to "negative" from "stable". S&P said deteriorating budget fundamentals and slow growth under Rousseff's left-leaning government, could undermine the country's ability to pay its debt and jeopardize its BBB long-term rating.

Economic difficulties and policy doubts come as Rousseff also faces growing resentment from members of her ruling coalition in Congress.

Despite a strong coalition majority in both houses of Congress, legislators have overridden Rousseff's line item vetoes of a controversial royalty provisions in a major oil law and resisted voting in favor of high-profile legislation written by the executive aimed at improving the country's clogged and inefficient ports.

Despite the declines in popularity, Datafolha said Rousseff remains the favourite among the most likely candidates in an October 2014 presidential election.

According to the Datafolha, she is the favorite of 51 percent of those polled, followed by Marina Silva, a former Brazilian environment minister with 16 percent, and Aecio Neves, a former governor of Minas Gerais state with 14 percent. Neves is the leader of Brazil's main opposition party, the PSDB.

The Datafolha poll was conducted on June 6 and 7 and surveyed 3,758 people. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

Later this month, the Ibope public opinion research group plans to release another poll measuring Rousseff's popularity. The Ibope poll is commissioned by National Industrial Confederation, or CNI, Brazil's largest industrial lobby group.

(Reporting by Sabrina Lorenzi; Additional reporting by Jeb Blount; Writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Brother-in-law of Chinese Nobel winner jailed for 11 years

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 07:44 PM PDT

HUAIROU, China (Reuters) - A Chinese court on Sunday sentenced the brother-in-law of jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison on charges of fraud in a case that rights activists have called another example of official retribution on the Liu family.

Liu Xia, wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, waves as she arrives at a court in the Huairou district of Beijing June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

Liu Xia, wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, waves as she arrives at a court in the Huairou district of Beijing June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

Supporters of Liu Hui say his case was trumped up, aimed at thwarting the increasing attention by the rights community on the plight of Liu Xia, who has remained under effective house arrest since her husband Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Prize in 2010.

The court in Huairou, a one-hour drive northeast of Beijing, convicted Liu Hui, a manager in a real estate company in the southern city of Shenzhen, on charges of defrauding a man called Zhang Bing of 3 million yuan (314,930 pounds) with another colleague, lawyer Mo Shaoping told reporters.

"As Liu Hui's defence attorney, I definitely do not approve of this verdict, because we see this fundamentally as a civil issue, and it fundamentally does not constitute criminal fraud. Also, there is not sufficient evidence," Mo said.

Liu Hui has maintained his innocence, according to his lawyers.

In a rare statement to media, a weeping Liu Xia told reporters from the front passenger seat of her car as she drove away from the courthouse that she was extremely angry with the verdict and vowed to launch an appeal.

"I absolutely cannot accept this. This is simply persecution," she said. "This is completely an illegal verdict."

Liu Xia said she had "completely lost hope" in the government.

"I can't even leave my house."

After about two minutes, security forced journalists away from the car, which moved off.

Liu Hui was out on bail last September, but then arrested again in January, after several rights activists and foreign reporters forced their way past security guards late last year to visit Liu Xia, one of his other lawyers, Shang Baojun, told Reuters before the verdict.


The ruling is seen as a setback for hopes for political reform from new Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose government has detained anti-corruption activists and tightened free expression on the Internet following his appointment in March.

"Everything related to the Liu Xiaobo case previously could have been seen as the legacy of the previous leadership," said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group.

"But with this sentence the new leadership buys into this suppression and persecution of the family. It deems the prospect unlikely that the government is amenable to the release of Liu Xiaobo, or will make any concessions on the case."

The case will also renew international criticism of the plight of Liu Xiaobo's family.

The verdict was handed down within hours of Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama completing an informal summit in California. U.S. and European diplomats were present outside the courthouse in Huairou, a one-hour drive northeast of Beijing.

Speaking in California after the summit, China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi defended the country's achievements in human rights as "there for all to see".

"With China's economic and social development, human rights causes in China will enjoy even greater progress in the future," Yang told reporters, though he did not refer directly to the Liu Hui trial.

Liu Xiaobo, a veteran dissident involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests crushed by the Chinese army, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges for organising a petition urging the overthrow of one-party rule.

His wife Liu Xia is rarely allowed out and is almost never allowed to receive visitors. She has not been convicted of any crime.

(Additional reporting by Maxim Duncan and Sui-Lee Wee, and John Ruwitch in RANCHO MIRAGE, California; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


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27th SEA Games will mark a milestone for Malaysia

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 03:55 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The 27th edition of the SEA Games in Nayphidaw, Myanmar, in December will mark a milestone for Malaysia in the series.

The third gold medal that Malaysia win at the Games will be the country's 1,000th since the series began as SEAP Games in 1959.

Malaysia have amassed 997 gold medals – just three short of the magical 1,000 mark.

Naturally, the big question that's foremost on the minds of Malaysians is who will be the 1,000th gold medallist for the country.

It's hard to say which sport will win the 1,000th gold medal as the Games' schedule is not ready yet.

Usually, swimming and shooting are held in the opening days of the Games and Malaysia certainly stand a good chance of winning in these two events.

At the last Games, co-hosted by Palembang and Jakarta, Malaysia returned home with 59 gold medals.

It would have been 60 but the 4x400m athletics relay team tested positive for doping and their gold medal was taken away.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary general Datuk Sieh Kok Chi admitted that it would be a great milestone for Malaysia to pass the 1,000-gold mark.

"Yes, it will be special and I am sure that we will remember Myanmar for it," he said.

"I just hope that the sport that delivers the 1,000th gold medal is an Olympic sport. That would make it more glamorous.

"Nevertheless, it'll be a milestone to be cherished."

Only two nations have hauled in more than 1,000 gold medals in the series – and they are both fast closing in on the 2,000-gold mark!

Thailand lead the way with 1,887 gold medals – just 113 short of the 2,000 mark, which they should achieve in Myanmar.

A total of 460 gold medals is at stake in Myanmar with 33 sports being contested.

Indonesia are ranked second in the gold medal haul with a total of 1,602.

Malaysia are third and the Philippines fourth with 835 medals.

The Games started in 1959 as the South-East Asian Peninsula Games (SEAP Games) with seven teams – Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore.

In 1977, it was renamed the South-East Asia Games (SEA Games) with the inclusion of Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei.

Timor Leste joined the ranks in 2003 and have only one gold medal to their name – courtesy of Julianto Danabere in kempo at the 2011 Games in Indonesia.

For the record, Myanmar will be hosting the SEA Games for only the third time. But the first two – in 1961 and 1969 – were still known as SEAP Games and the country was then called Burma.

Gary believes he can recover in time for Myanmar

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 05:20 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Harimau Muda A midfielder Gary Steven Robbat is confident he can shrug off his back injury and be ready for the Myanmar SEA Games in December.

The Harimau Muda starlet picked up the back injury during a friendly against Harimau Muda B in January. He aggravated it during the team's ongoing training-cum-playing stint in Europe.

The 21-year-old was sent home by coach Ong Kim Swee last month to consult a specialist and Gary said that he's getting better.

"The scans revealed that I have a slipped disc and an injury to the facet joint on my back. I was given a jab and put on rehab," he said.

"I've been undergoing rehabilitation at the National Sports Institute (NSI) for nearly a month and it's been a big success. My recovery process is starting to look promising as I feel better now."

The Kulim-born player missed out on the 2011 Indonesia SEA Games, where Malaysia won a gold medal, with a hamstring injury. But he's hoping he won't have to miss out on the Myanmar Games.

"I hate to be in this situation.

"I missed the last SEA Games and the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 through injuries," said Gary.

"I was devastated when I was sent home from training in Europe. I thought I blew my chances of playing in the SEA Games yet again.

"My chances of making the SEA Games squad look better now but I have to be careful not to push myself too hard during recovery."

Malaysia eyeing fine start in France

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 03:47 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will look for a strong start in a bid to make the top eight when they take on newcomers Botswana in the Men's World Team squash championship in Mulhouse, France, today.

Fifth seeds Malaysia finished fifth in the World Teams two years ago but, then, they had former world No. 10 Mohd Azlan Iskandar in the squad.

This year's team will be led by Ong Beng Hee, Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan, Mohd Asyraf Azan and 19-year-old Sanjay Singh Chal.

Although Malaysia are favourites to cruise into the next round from Group E, they'll still need to be on their toes against debutants Botswana, led by world No. 15 Alister Walker.

The 33-year-old Beng Hee, ranked 23rd in the world, is aware of the African threat and believes that winning his match would be crucial for the team.

"Botswana may be new to the tournament but they are certainly no pushovers. With Alister in their side, it makes our job extra tough, especially for me," said Beng Hee, who has beaten Walker twice in three Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour meetings.

Malaysia will face their toughest group opponents – New Zealand – tomorrow before wrapping up their final group match against Poland on Tuesday.

Nafiizwan, who made the semi-finals of the HKFC Open in Hong Kong last month, believes that beating the Kiwis will set them on course for a top-eight finish.

"We need to win all our group matches to avoid the likes of Egypt, England and even France in the second round. New Zealand will definitely be our toughest group opponents. But, if we play well and take our chances, we can do well in this tournament," said the 27-year-old Nafiizwan.

Defending champions and favourites Egypt will take on Kuwait in Group A today while second seeds England will be up against Colombia in Group B.

Hosts France, seeking to win their first team tournament, have recalled retired former world No. 1 Thierry Lincou to share the burden with current world No. 2 Gregory Gaultier. France will face Holland in their first Group C match.


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Wall Street week ahead: 'Just right' jobs data could help equities

Posted: 07 Jun 2013 10:30 PM PDT

NEW YORK: The U.S. May jobs report came in just right for investors - neither too weak nor too strong to rock the boat - but market participants are now questioning what's next for stocks.

The equity market is on nebulous middle ground. The S&P 500 is just 1.5 percent away from its all-time closing high, but other than Friday's rally on the jobs data, it has been stuck in a period of uncertainty.

The Labor Department added 175,000 jobs in May, slightly higher than expected, but at a level that indicates the status quo should hold for the Federal Reserve's stimulus program.

Some had worried that if job growth far exceeded expectations, the Fed would reduce bond-buying sooner than expected, while others were concerned that an exceptionally weak number would reveal a fundamentally soft labor market. The data's ability to relieve both fears may benefit stocks.

"The number had a little something in it for everybody, in terms of those who suspect tapering might begin sooner and those who think it might start later," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist of Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, adding that the May payrolls figure could "prime market participants to be more positive toward equities leading into next week's trading."

The program is widely cited as a major contributor to the S&P 500's <.spx> surge of 15.2 percent in 2013, when it has hit a repeated series of record highs.

Wall Street's performance has been closely tethered to the Fed's stimulus program, benefiting from the belief that the economy is just weak enough to keep the Fed buying bonds.

When Fed Chief Ben Bernanke said on May 22 that the central bank may decide to reduce purchases if the economy shows signs of significant improvement, stocks fell and bond yields surged.

The uncertainty has also increased volatility, with the S&P 500 frequently making daily moves of 1 percent or staging dramatic midday reversals. The CBOE Volatility Index <.vix>, or VIX, has risen more than 20 percent over the past three weeks, although at a level of 15.14, it is still at a level associated with a relatively calm environment.

"Equity markets are in a period of adjustment," said Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York, which has about $400 billion in assets. "If there's an unannounced change in policy, that could be a shock to the downside."

That adjustment is likely to keep trading in a narrow range. On Thursday, the S&P 500 briefly fell under its 50-day moving average of 1,604, as well as below the psychologically important level of 1,600, before rebounding. However, the benchmark index remains below its 14-day moving average of 1,645.08.

This year's gains have been broad, with all 10 S&P 500 sectors sharply higher, so it is difficult to determine which sectors may be the most vulnerable to a market pullback. The best-performing sector of the year - health care <.spxhc>, up 20 percent - is a defensive group, as is telecom <.splrcl>, one of the year's weaker performers, with a gain of 8.6 percent for the year to date.

Cyclical sectors, which are tied to the pace of economic growth and have been especially sensitive to any indication that Fed policy may be changing, have also outperformed the broad market this year. However, despite those gains and the Fed uncertainty, they may not be vulnerable going forward. The shakier sectors have been the big dividend payers, because higher yields on safe government debt would make those shares less attractive.

"Investors haven't simply been 'selling the winners,'" Bespoke Investment Group wrote in a note to clients this week. "What investors have been selling are the high dividend payers, which is not usually what happens on pullbacks. In fact, the opposite usually occurs, as investors flock to 'safer' plays."

For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> rose 0.9 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.8 percent and the Nasdaq <.ixic> advanced 0.4 percent.

Next week, there appear to be few obvious catalysts to change the equation. Only two S&P 500 companies - H&R Block and PVH Corp - are scheduled to report results.

The economic data calendar is light, though May retail sales on Thursday and the preliminary reading on June consumer sentiment on Friday will be closely watched.

Inflation data will also be on the agenda. The U.S. Producer Price Index, set for release on Friday, is forecast to rise just 0.1 percent in May, according to economists polled by Reuters, after a drop of 0.7 percent in April. On a year-over-year basis, overall PPI is expected to rise 1.4 percent in May, the Reuters Poll showed.

"It looks like we're shaping up for a traditional summer where we'll build a base and perhaps enter into the doldrums of summer trading," said Frank Davis, director of trading at LEK Securities in New York.

With the exception of consumer stocks, which could be affected by the retail data, Davis added, "I'm not anticipating any meaningful follow-through to next week, but I'm not anticipating any measurable pulldown either."

Vodafone says paid no UK corporation tax in two years

Posted: 07 Jun 2013 10:27 PM PDT

LONDON: Vodafone Group Plc said it paid no corporation tax in Britain for the year to March 2013, prompting fresh criticism from campaigners who have made the UK mobile telephone group a target in the debate on corporate tax payments.

Revelations of profit shifting by big companies have provoked anger among austerity-weary citizens across Europe and political leaders have pledged to act.

Vodafone's annual report published on Friday said the absence of a UK income tax bill for the second year running reflected tough operating conditions at its British operations.

Reported profits at Vodafone's main UK unit have collapsed in the past decade, even as sales rose sharply. The company said the cost of buying its third generation (3G) phone license and falling profit margins weighed on UK earnings, although both factors were also observed at its German unit, which has continued to report big profits and tax bills.

UK press including British investigative magazine Private Eye have noted strong profits at Vodafone's subsidiaries in Luxembourg, where it has few customers or employees but where companies can enjoy tax rates below 1 percent.

Vodafone Procurement Co Sarl, which buys equipment for the group, reported profits of 215 million euros ($284.2 million) for the year to March 2012 and paid no income tax, according to accounts for the period, the most recent for which figures are available.


Vodafone Luxembourg 5 Co Sarl, which lends money to other group units, reported profits of $2.43 billion for the year to March 2012 and reported a tax bill of less than 1 percent, its accounts show.

A Vodafone spokesman said the company did not shift profits out of the UK and that its Luxembourg operations had no impact on its UK tax bill. He said the low Luxembourg tax bill was tied to the fact the units there can offset income against writedowns in the value of assets held by these companies.

Vodafone said it also paid hundreds of millions of pounds in other taxes in Britain, such as payroll taxes and value added tax (VAT), a European form of sales tax.

The company added on its website: "Companies have legal obligations to pay tax, but those obligations do not extend to paying more than the amount legally required. Companies also have a legal obligation to act in the interests of their shareholders".

The company has been under scrutiny since a 2010 deal under which it paid the UK tax authority, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), 1.25 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to settle a back-tax claim, for which it took a 2.2 billion pounds provision in its accounts.

Some lawmakers criticized that deal as pointing to a too-cosy relationship between big business and HMRC. A subsequent review by a government watchdog said the deal was "reasonable" but criticized processes at HMRC.

Tax campaigner Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK said Vodafone's explanation for its lack of a UK tax bill did not stack up.

"Vodafone would like us to believe that because they pay their property taxes, VAT and staff's national insurance, that they don't have to pay tax on their income," he said. "That's not the way it works for the rest of us and it's not the way it should work for Vodafone either." ($1 = 0.7564 euros) ($1 = 0.6436 British pounds). - Reuters

Wall St. rallies after U.S. jobs data, ends up for week

Posted: 07 Jun 2013 10:25 PM PDT

NEW YORK: The Dow shot up more than 200 points, scoring its best day since January 2, and the S&P 500 ended a two-week losing streak on Friday after U.S. jobs data eased investors' worries that the Federal Reserve may be reducing its stimulus program in the near future.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq posted their best daily percentage gains since April 16.

All three major U.S. stock indexes rose more than 1 percent for the day, extending gains toward the session's end, with the S&P consumer discretionary index <.splrcd> and other growth sectors leading the way higher. The consumer discretionary index rose 1.8 percent. The S&P industrials index <.splrci> also advanced 1.8 percent.

Microsoft , up 2 percent at $35.67, was among stocks giving the biggest lift to both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

Stocks have rallied for most of the year. But the market began to lose ground following Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments on May 22 that the central bank may decide to ease back on its bond-buying programs in the next few policy meetings if data shows the economy is showing improvement. Last Friday, the S&P 500 marked two consecutive weeks of losses for the first time this year.

"The market earlier this week traded off precipitously, believing the Fed was close to stopping. Today's numbers make it pretty clear the Fed can't stop or even start tapering in September like they'd like to, so ironically the stock market is up," said Brian Amidei, managing director of HighTower Advisors in Palm Desert, California.

The Labor Department's data showed job gains of 175,000 in May, slightly above the economists' forecast, while the U.S. unemployment rate increased to 7.6 percent last month from 7.5 percent in April.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> surged 207.50 points, or 1.38 percent, to close at 15,248.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> advanced 20.82 points, or 1.28 percent, to 1,643.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> climbed 45.16 points, or 1.32 percent, to end at 3,469.22.

For the week, the Dow gained 0.9 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent, and the Nasdaq added 0.4 percent.

The U.S. job market has remained one of the economy's weakest areas since the recent downturn. The Fed, in turn, has linked its monetary policy to improvement in the country's job market. Economists say job gains of at least 200,000 per month over several months are needed to significantly reduce high unemployment.

The market's recent volatility suggests investors are starting to price in the eventual end of Fed stimulus, analysts said, raising concerns about how well stocks will fare without it.

The stock market's rally this year has largely been driven by the Fed's continued bond purchases.

The Dow is up 16.4 percent for 2013, while the S&P 500 is up 15.2 percent and the Nasdaq is up 14.9 percent.

"I think the rally is running out of steam," Amidei said, noting that investors have already begun to sell stocks to lock in profits in some industries and sectors.

High dividend-yielding shares, which led this year's rally, have been among the weakest performers over the last two weeks.

On Friday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc shares rose 0.9 percent to $76.33 and helped lift the Dow after the world's largest retailer said its board had approved a new $15 billion stock-repurchase program, the first in two years.

Shares of video recorder pioneer TiVo Inc lost 19 percent to $11.10. Tivo said it would receive $490 million after settling a patent lawsuit with Google Inc's Motorola Mobility, Cisco Systems Inc and Time Warner Cable Inc just days before the case was to go to trial.

Volume was roughly 6.4 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, in line with the average daily closing volume of about 6.4 billion this year.

Advancers outpaced decliners on the NYSE by a ratio of about 7 to 3. On the Nasdaq, nearly two stocks rose for every one that fell. - Reuters


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Penang ramp collapse: State won't allow work to resume until proven safe, says CM

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 08:52 AM PDT

Published: Saturday June 8, 2013 MYT 11:49:00 PM
Updated: Saturday June 8, 2013 MYT 11:52:15 PM

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state will not allow work on the Second Penang Bridge to continue until the Federal Govt proves that it is safe.

"What types of safety measures were used?

"We hope the Federal Govt can give a full explanation on the accident.

"We have issued a stop work order for entire bridge. Prove to us that it is safe," he said in his speech during a thanksgiving dinner by Karpal Singh here Saturday.

A ramp leading to the the under-constructed bridge collapsed Thursday night, killing a motorist and injuring several others.

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Najib: ABNxcess rollout a 'new era' for Malaysian television

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 07:47 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's first digital cable TV network ABNxcess, which carries an initial 50 channels, was officially launched by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Bukit Jalil here Saturday.

Hosted by Asian Broadcasting Network (ABN) Sdn Bhd, the event saw the rollout of ABN's new high-speed broadband (HSBB) and pay TV service.

Speaking at the launch, Najib said the service signified a "new era" for Malaysian television.

"I am confident that this launch will signify a new era in information and entertainment dissemination across the country," he said in his speech at at the Putra Stadium.

He was accompanied by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek and ABN Media Group executive chairman Tan Sri K.K. Eswaran.

Najib congratulated ABN on its new service, adding that the advent of digital cable TV here would bridge the digital divide for all Malaysians.

"This is what the Government wants to see," Najib said.

He also hoped that with ABN's presence, Malaysians would also get the chance to showcase locally-made content through the network at a regional and international level.

ABN promised subscribers that they wouldn't have to worry about bad weather interrupting their TV experience.

"Those with ABNxcess can enjoy high-definition TV without weather disruptions," said ABN chairman Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor.

For its broadband service, ABN is offering 10Mps, 30Mbps and 50 Mbps packages at RM129, RM219 and RM369 per month respectively.

The ABNxcess pay TV service will cost an extra RM29.99 for 50 channels plus free-to-air TV, radio and games applications.

ABNxcess will also include 10 high-definition (HD) channels at no extra charge.

ABN did not specifically mention which channels would be part of its pay TV package.

It was previously reported that ABN planned to push its number of available channels to up to 500 in the future.

The cable service will be rolled out to an initial 24 areas in the Klang Valley and Johor Baru, with an expected expansion to other regions over the next five years.

Lock-up deaths: Japanese detainee found hanged in lock-up at USJ 8 police station

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 08:04 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A Japanese man who was arrested for allegedly brandishing a knife at auxiliary police after trespassing into a university near here on June 2, was found hanged at the grille of his lock-up cell at the USJ 8 police station, Subang Jaya, early Saturday.

Selangor deputy police chief Datuk A.Thaiveegan said Nobuhiro Matsushita, 33, was found dead at 4am and was believed to have hanged himself on the grille bar by using his own shirt.

"An autopsy report issued by the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre found that the suspect died as a result of hanging and that there were no injures on his body.

"Initial police investigations also confirmed that no foul play was involved in his death," he told a press conference here.

He said an inspection by a lock-up policeman an hour before had found that all detainees, including the man, were in good condition.

Thaiveegan said the suspect, who was arrested on June 2 after making criminal threats to the auxiliary police personnel who wanted to arrest him for allegedly intruding into a store at the university, was initially placed in a cell with other detainees before he was segregated for intrusiveness on the other detainees.

"The man was arrested and remanded until June 17 for criminal intimidation and criminal invasion.

"An inspection on his passport also found that were no records of his entry into the country and his detention was also related to Immigration matters," he said.

Thaiveegan said police had several times called in a translator from the the Japanese Embassy for the purpose of the investigation because the suspect did not speak English.

He said police had contacted his family through the embassy to inform them of the incident and were informed that it would take some time for them to come over.

"We are waiting for a full report from the pathologist and when we've received it, we will submit the investigation file or the sudden death report to the Attorney-General's Chambers for further instructions... so we are following everything according to procedure," he added. - Bernama


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Living it simple

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 04:55 AM PDT

Selangor is offering homestay programmes at several Malay villages for tourists to sample the quintessential kampung life.

FOR a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, and an opportunity to experience the kampung life, take a short break and explore the various homestay programmes offered in Selangor.

Recently, Gaya Travel magazine and the Malaysia Co-Operative Societies Commission (MCSC) organised a four-day, three-night trip for the media to showcase some of the tourism-related products and services offered by MCSC.

During the trip, participants were given the opportunity to sample village life by staying with various keluarga angkat or host families.

The first stop was in Sungai Sireh, Tanjung Karang.

The picturesque village is a two-hour drive from the Kuala Lumpur city centre and has been labelled one of the important rice-growing communities in Malaysia.

Set amidst acres of padi fields, the village offers views of sweeping vistas and can be considered a quintessential Malay kampung.

The villagers in Sungai Sireh are a friendly lot and most actively participate in the homestay programmes.

Once the visitors had settled down, they were introduced to their hosts.

Two of the hosts were Mohd Tohid Ahmad Jumadi and his wife, Sudarwati Abd Rahman, who put up four of the participants.

After a sumptuous meal cooked by Sudarwati, who insisted on being called mak (mother), the participants retired to their rooms for some much-needed rest.

During their stay, the participants were given the chance to participate in various activities in the village, including helping Mohd Tohid, or Wak as he prefers to be known as, harvest homegrown vegetables and fruits such as cili padi, ubi kayu (tapioca), bananas and passion fruit.

Participants were also given the chance to experience other typical activities in the village, including catching eels, fishing in the nearby river and harvesting rice.

For dinner, the participants joined the villagers for the iconic nasi ambeng, a local favourite, while watching cultural shows presented by youths from the village.

Surprisingly, some of the villagers, including mak, can communicate in basic Korean, an ability they picked up after welcoming hundreds of South Korean guests to the village as part of the homestay programme.

The second stop for the group was in Sungai Lang, Banting, where the host families included Othman Johari and his wife, Umi Salamah Dalail.

Here, the participants had the opportunity to sample Malay-Javanese cuisine.

Activities planned for the group included All-Terrain Vehicle rides to visit the various SME businesses run by the villagers.

To wrap up the expedition, the organisers arranged for the participants to take to the air, with paragliding in Bukit Jugra on the agenda.

While gliding serenely in the sky, the participants witnessed the beauty of Selangor's coastline set against a scenic panorama of the Straits of Malacca.

To find out more about the Sungai Sireh homestay programme, contact Faez at 019-318 8220 or Selamat at 013-305 1470 while the Sungai Lang homestay programme can be contacted at 03-3180 1021 or 016-341 7539.

Alternatively, visit for more information.

Eurasian settlers imbued Pulau Tikus with a melting pot of cultures

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 04:24 AM PDT

STUDYING in St Xavier's Institution (SXI) in Penang, it is almost impossible not to have a classmate, or at least a schoolmate, from the Eurasian community.

In any case, there were many Eurasian teachers in the Catholic school. The Eurasians were referred to as the Seranis colloquially.

There were plenty of students and teachers with surnames such as Rozells, Boyle, Robless, Nonis, Cornelius, James, Capel, Barbosa, Danker, Foley, Jeremiah, Green, Reutens, Coombs, Andrew, Aeria, Beltram, Moreira, Gomes, Rozario, Mcintyre, Scully, Cardoza and Byrne.

Across the road, there was the Convent Light Street (CLS), which also had a strong Eurasian population, as did Convent Pulau Tikus (CPT) located further away.

As a teenager, I spent a lot of time at Solok Serani or Eurasian Close, which is a minor street off Kelawei Road in Pulau Tikus.

Having many Eurasian friends, it was only natural that I would meet up with my schoolmates there.

Needless to say, that included meeting up with friends from the opposite sex, namely the girls from CPT, whenever we had Boy Scouts-Girl Guides joint activities!

But there was also a more serious side — I had personal tuition in Mathematics from a classmate, Tony Mariadass, who stayed in Kampung Serani, behind the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the area.

I was completely hopeless in maths, excelling better in languages and arts-related subjects, and the late Tony guided me in that tricky subject.

In my time, we had to sit for the Lower Certificate of Education, now known as the Penilaian Menengah Rendah, and failing maths meant getting kicked out of school.

There was no such thing as continuing one's study until Form Five if one failed the compulsory Bahasa Malaysia or Maths papers in Form Three.

Maths was also an important subject in the Malaysian Certificate of Education exam or the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.

So, I had to depend a lot on Tony to teach me in the afternoons before I sought divine intervention inside the church sanctuary.

Today, the Penang Eurasian Association building stands proudly at the end of the road.

The first group of Eurasians arrived in Penang from Phuket with founder Captain Francis Light in 1786. The group included his Eurasian wife, Martina Rozells.

These Eurasian settlers had escaped from the Burmese who had targeted the Catholics in their attacks in Phuket.

Settling down in George Town around China Street and Bishop Street, they built a wooden church called the Assumption Church.

According to researcher Eustace Nonis, it was in 1810 that the pioneer group of Portugese Eurasians relocated from Phuket to Penang, where they chose Pulau Tikus to build their settlement.

The focal point, he wrote, was the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which they built.

A school commonly known as the "Noah's Ark" was built to serve the community with the entire area eventually known as Kampung Serani.

Because of their fluency in English, in later life, many were recruited into the civil service including the then City Council of Penang. Many also became teachers.

The community also played a major role in the development of two premier schools — SXI and CLS — as well as the Church of the Assumption in Farquhar Street.

SXI teacher Jimmy Boyle created history when he composed Putera Puteri and Kemegahan Negara Ku — which were played at midnight in 1963 when Malaysia was born. As a true Xaverian, he returned to teach in his alma mater after graduating from the Raffles College in Singapore.

Another SXI teacher from the community was the late Colin Rozells.

Born and bred in Penang, Rozells taught Math and English at SXI and was best remembered as a discipline master.

Rozells was also remembered by those in the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, an organisation he was most passionate about.

After he retired from teaching, he worked at the Malaysian Red Crescent Society headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The school also produced a famous 1980s local band, The Sweet September, which included founding members who were mostly Eurasians.

The late Michel Barbosa taught at SXI and went on to coach the national badminton team.

In The Star newspaper, my predecessor, Michael Aeria, was also from SXI and dedicated his life to being a newspaperman.

A colleague, Ronald Bryne, who wrote a similar column on the street names of Penang in the 1980s, is today based at our headquarters in Petaling Jaya.

Then, there is another long-time colleague, Ian McIntyre, in Penang.

Some of the early Eurasian settlers chose to make Argus Lane their home, which is near the Cathedral of the Assumption.

Interestingly, the island's first independent newspaper, the Pinang Argus, was published from 1867 to 1873 while the country's first newspaper Prince of Wales Island Gazette was published in Penang in 1805.

According to Boon Raymond, who writes extensively on Penang history, there were 27 English newspapers published in Penang between 1806 and the 1970s.

The Star, of course, was also founded in Penang by KS Choong with its first office at Weld Quay, before moving to its current office in Pitt Street or Jalan Mesjid Keling.

From education to professional jobs, certainly Penang has a rich history, much of which was contributed by the Eurasian community.


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Johor getting strict on licensing of cyber cafe outlets

Posted: 07 Jun 2013 07:26 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Johor government is to impose strict regulation on the issuance of cyber cafe licences to weed out illegal gambling activities taking place at these outlets statewide.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the licence, which was classified as the family oriented entertainment outlet, was issued by the local councils here.

He said as of recently, the police had conducted raids at 155 illegal gambling dens, include cyber cafes, which have been turned into gambling centres by the operators.

"It is hard for the authorities to clamp down the outlet as most of them disguised as family entertainment centres.

"The state government will make some changes in the regulation on family oriented entertainment as well as working closely with the police and other related agencies to monitor such cyber cafes," he said.

Mohamed Khaled also added that the state government would also seek the advice of Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to curb illegal gambling centres in Johor.

"The illegal gambling den problem is not only happening in Johor only but also in other parts of the country and I hope that the relevant authorities to take stern actions against these operators," he said when met after visiting the state police headquarters here recently.

Separately, Mohamed Khaled also blasted certain quarters for labelling Johor as the crime capital of Malaysia.

"Instead of giving negative remarks, critics should come out with ideas to help the police combat crimes," he said.

He pointed out that the police had managed to bring down the crime rate in the state in the past five years by introducing new programmes such as the SafeCam, Community Alerts (CommAlerts) and placing more omnipresence at several hotspot areas.

Mohamed Khaled added that the responsibility of ensuring safety in the state does not fall on the police shoulder alone but the rakyat must also play their part in it.

"The Federal Government has allocated more than RM2bil to the state government to improve infrastructures and introduce crime prevention programmes.

"There are more than 9, 514 police officers and personnel in the state where the numbers keep increasing yearly by the Federal Government to make Johor a safe place to live and invest," he said.

Less members, less hassle in cooperatives

Posted: 07 Jun 2013 04:11 PM PDT

KUANTAN: Smaller number of members in each cooperative would be better and more ideal as it could be managed properly and give better returns.

State Cooperatives, Entrepreneur and Consumerism Committee chairman Datuk Shahiruddin Ab Moin said the Government will encourage the setting up of the cooperatives within the family members, professionals and youths, however, their respective members and management teams should possess high quality skills.

Shahiruddin said too many members within a respective cooperative would go through difficult situation because their demands would be higher but would be tally with their contributions.

He said with strong financing and proper management, the respective cooperatives could grow stronger and lead to wider profits.

"There are the communities in the state who ran cooperatives within their family members and close friends with high investment and we found that these cooperatives have been prospering.

"There were only some 20 to 30 members in these cooperatives where it involved a huge capital. They manage the cooperatives well and are able to reap RM2,000 and above every month.

"This is way better than cooperatives with many members and managed poorly. Here each member can only earn less than RM100 per month as dividends," Shahiruddin said after chairing the state Malaysian Cooperative Commission here.

Shahiruddin was also briefed on the cooperatives' matters and activities by the commission's director Mohd Zawawi Mahmud.

He said there were a total of 805 cooperatives comprising micro, medium and big clusters of cooperatives which have the total investment of RM907mil.

Shahiruddin said the cooperatives had been the third largest contributors to the state economic development.

He said it was important that the cooperative matters and programmes are aimed at the younger generation, schools and in remote areas as it could also be an additional source of income.

Shahiruddin said the success stories of cooperatives in other countries could be used as guidelines and good examples for them to learn from.

Snatch thief caught by victim’s spouse

Posted: 07 Jun 2013 07:26 PM PDT

TEMERLOH: The reign of a habitual snatch thief came to an end when he was arrested by the husband of his latest victim with the assistance of several passers-by.

The 24-year-old jobless suspect from Batu Caves suffered injuries when he tried to flee after falling off his motorcycle.

Temerloh OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Aziz Salleh said however, two of the suspect's accomplices managed to speed off in their machines.

ACP Abdul Aziz said the victim, aged 37 and five months pregnant, had been warded at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Hospital for further observation.

"We commended members of the public for helping out the couple during the incident on Wednesday at about 11.20am.

"The town will be much safer and peaceful with more people helping out the authorities to make a citizen's arrest," he told a press conference.

In relating the incident, ACP Abdul Aziz said the couple was walking to a shopping mall in Mentakab when three motorcyclists rode past.

He said one of them tried to snatch the victim's handbag but she held on tight.

"The suspect then resorted to snatch her gold chain but he failed again in the second attempt.

"Both the suspect and the victim fell down in the ensuing struggle," he said, adding that the victim's husband quickly pinned down the suspect with the assistance of passers-by.

ACP Abdul Aziz said police arrived minutes later and took custody of the suspect and sent him for outpatient treatment.

He said initial investigations showed the suspect had committed similar crimes in the Klang Valley and had been arrested for snatch thefts and drug-related offences.

"We have also seized a motorcycle used by the suspect to commit the acts," he said, adding that the case would be investigated under Section 394 of the Penal Code for causing hurt during a robbery, which carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine or whipping.


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Elton John: People who inject drugs deserve help

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 05:06 AM PDT

PARIS: Rock icon Elton John has urged compassion for people who inject drugs, saying "stigma and criminalisation" robbed them of their humanity and exposed them to a life of addiction and disease.

Clean needles, opiate substitution therapy and sound advice can help drug users reduce the risk of overdose and HIV and set them on the path towards overcoming addiction, he told AFP.

"In the 1980s and 1990s, we saw HIV cut down hundreds of thousands of people while governments did nothing," the British rock musician and AIDS campaigner said.

"It was clear then, and is still clear, that many governments don't value the lives of their own citizens because of needless stigma and criminalisation of drugs and sex."

John, who has in the past admitted to narcotics use, was speaking to AFP in an email exchange ahead of an International Harm Reduction Conference opening in Vilnius, Lithuania on Sunday.

His Elton John AIDS Foundation supports the conference, which will gather hundreds of scientists, politicians, researchers, health workers, doctors and activists from about 70 countries.

"Harm reduction" refers to programmes that seek to help intravenous drug users, one of the highest-risk population groups for the AIDS virus.

Injecting drug users may be addicted, poor and marginalised, which makes them more at risk of contracting -- or spreading -- a virus by sharing a syringe or working in the sex industry to pay for drugs.

The four-day conference will focus on an HIV hotspot: central and eastern Europe and central Asia, where there are more than 3.7 million injecting drug users, almost a quarter of the worldwide tally.

Eastern and central Europe has the fastest-growing HIV epidemic of any region in the world, with injecting drug use accounting for around three-quarters of new cases, according to the UN agency UNAIDS.

In Russia, some 1.5 million people are living with HIV compared to some 100,000 a decade ago.

John blasted politicians who, he said, appealed to selfishness rather than compassion.

"Laws are passed that shun the poor, show no forgiveness for those who break the law and discriminate against immigrants and minority communities."

But the United States was a good example of how progress was possible, he said.

"Conservative politicians have banned the use of national government funding for syringe exchange," he said.

"But at state and city level, governments are changing laws to reduce restrictions on pharmacy sales of syringes, allow people to legally carry syringes and through national healthcare reform there will likely be increased access to medical care, mental health care, opiate substitution therapy and overdose prevention."

The flamboyant artist said his foundation spent about $1 million (770,000 euros) a year on harm reduction in the United States, mainly for syringe access.

John appealed for tolerance.

Everyone is susceptible at some point to a bad choice or situation that exposed them or others to harm, he said, citing reckless driving, smoking, teenage drinking or depression.

"None of us is perfect," said John.

Pussy Riot rockers in US to fight for jailed bandmates

Posted: 07 Jun 2013 07:46 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Two members of the Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot on Friday urged the United States to help free their bandmates jailed last year for an anti-government protest performance.

The two women, who slipped into the country on a surprise visit, met with US lawmakers as well as White House and State Department officials in a bid to publicize their friends' plight and press for their freedom.

Maria Alyokhina, who has just celebrated her 25th birthday, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, are being held in separate Russian penal colonies to serve two-year jail terms imposed for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The sentences -- handed down after the balaclava-wearing band of rockers performed a protest song against President Vladimir Putin in an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow in February 2012 -- have been met with global condemnation.

A third member of the band, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was convicted but later released on appeal with a suspended sentence and strict probation conditions.

The visiting band members, who wanted to be known by the pseudonyms Fabra and Shaiba, on Friday shed their brightly-colored headgear, revealing their faces at a small press conference hosted by rights watchdog Human Rights First.

But they asked that no pictures or video be taken and that their voices be disguised in audio-tapes, fearful of repercussions by Russian authorities.

"We came to Washington, DC specifically... to meet with several members of Congress and politicians to discuss our situation," Shaiba said. "We asked them for their help."

The sentences imposed on their bandmates are a "vicious example of injustice and a vivid demonstration of the violation of freedom of speech and human rights and self-expression," she added, speaking through a translator.

The women urged US officials to raise the case with Putin and Russian authorities, and to seek to visit Alyokhina, who has just ended an 11-day hunger strike, and Tolokonnikova in the prison colonies where they are held.

Both jailed rockers have recently lost appeals against their sentences, and their friends are increasingly worried for their health, particularly Tolokonnikova who has been suffering from "tremendous headaches," Shaiba said.

In the colonies, far from Moscow, about 120 people live together in one big room, working, showering and eating together.

Denouncing the fact that the jailed band members are being held alongside convicted murderers and drug offenders, the women said their friends are also forced to sew military police uniforms.

"It is a humiliation, because they are making uniforms for the people who have imprisoned them and are keeping guard," Shaiba said.

© / Kris Connor

Protestors attend the Solidarity Vigil For Pussy Riot Performance Anniversary in Washington on February 20, 2013

Their friends were being particularly targeted by the camp authorities, who have also tried to turn other inmates against them.

"They pay close attention to them, because they attract a lot of media attention and extensive international support," Shaiba said.

But she insisted it was "very important" for foreign governments and the media to keep a spotlight on the issue "because it doesn't allow the government to be completely out of control and it actually forces them to be more careful and attentive towards the laws of the Russian federation," Shaiba said.

World music icons such as Madonna and Paul McCartney have also backed calls for the two jailed band members, who both have young children, to be freed.

Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First, said the watchdog "remained committed to shining a light on the politically-motivated Russian laws" that led to the prosecution of the Pussy Riot members.

Such laws were intended to be used to prosecute violent hate crimes such as those carried out by skinheads, but are now "being used to silence government critics," she said.

Out of safety concerns, the two women refused to say how they arrived in the United States, their future plans or if they would visit other countries.

But they said they wanted to keep making music, even though all their videos and songs are currently banned under Russia's draconian laws.

They said the band, which has about eight members, formed in October 2011 ahead of presidential elections the following year, which saw Putin return to power after briefly handing over the post to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Pussy Riot also wanted to show opposition to the "sexist society" in Russia and the macho image presented by its leadership, including Putin.


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