Isnin, 10 Jun 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Guantanamo prosecutors charge Iraqi with unlawful war tactics

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 08:21 PM PDT

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - An Iraqi prisoner identified as a senior al Qaeda commander has been charged in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal with firing on a medical evacuation helicopter and using unlawful tactics to wage war on U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military made the charges against Abd al Hadi public in a statement as it prepared to start two weeks of pretrial hearings on Tuesday for other alleged al Qaeda operatives in the tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

The cases are plodding along despite President Barack Obama's renewed pledge last month to shut down the Guantanamo detention operation.

Prosecutors allege that Abd al Hadi funded and oversaw all of al Qaeda's operations against U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan from March 2002 to 2004.

They say he directed his forces to use a variety of unlawful means, such as attacking civilians, detonating car bombs and suicide vests in civilian areas, and videotaping the resulting deaths for propaganda purposes.

The charge sheet links Hadi and his forces to numerous attacks on U.S. military targets, several of them deadly, and to a failed plot to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in the spring of 2002. It accuses him of paying a reward to the Taliban for assassinating a civilian United Nations worker in Afghanistan in 2003.

Hadi, who is 51 or 52, faces four specific charges alleging acts that violated international rules governing armed conflict. He could face life in prison if convicted by a tribunal of U.S. military officers at the Guantanamo base, where he has been held since 2007.

Specifically, Hadi is charged with "denying quarter," by ordering his forces to kill all U.S. and allied forces on the battlefield, including the wounded, without accepting surrender or taking prisoners.

He is charged with attacking protected property - namely by firing on a medical evacuation helicopter that was marked with a red cross and carrying a wounded U.S. military member from a battlefield in Afghanistan in September 2003.

Hadi is also charged with "perfidy," or carrying out attacks that rely on deceit, by packing civilian cars with explosives and detonating them next to military vehicles.

One such attack targeted a bus full of German military personnel in Afghanistan in 2003, while another targeted a convoy of British and Estonian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2004. The charge sheet said each attack killed at least one person but did not elaborate.

After leading al Qaeda's insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hadi went to Iraq at the behest of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to perform a similar role there, the charge sheet said.

Pretrial hearings are set to resume on Tuesday in the death penalty case against prisoner Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who is accused of directing suicide bombers to ram a boat full of explosives into the side of the USS Cole while the warship was fuelling off Yemen in 2000. Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed in the explosion.

Pretrial hearings are set next week in the case against five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

That is also a death penalty case and the defendants include the alleged mastermind of the attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and David Brunnstrom)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Tech experts tie WikiLeaks soldier to database breach

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 07:48 PM PDT

FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - Computer forensic experts testified on Monday that they traced break-ins to a secret U.S. government website to Bradley Manning, the American soldier charged with the biggest leak of classified files in U.S. history.

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) departs the courtroom after day four of his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) departs the courtroom after day four of his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

The testimony came as the court-martial of the private first class entered its second week. Manning, 25, is accused of providing more than 700,000 secret files to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks while serving in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.

He is accused of 21 charges, including aiding the enemy, and could face life in prison without parole if convicted in the case, which has raised questions about the limits of openness and secrecy in the digital age.

The trial was gathering pace as officials search for more details about an ex-CIA employee who leaked details of a top secret U.S. surveillance program in which security services monitored data about Americans' phone calls and internet usage.

Manning, who was arrested in May 2010, is charged with downloading intelligence documents, diplomatic cables and combat videos and forwarding them to WikiLeaks.

Government witnesses told the court-martial they had traced breaches of the U.S. government's secret Intelink intelligence database to Manning's user name and Internet Protocol address. The testimony was presented as prosecutors seek to prove that Manning orchestrated the release of documents, including secret diplomatic cables.

Manning was a low-level intelligence analyst when he allegedly released the documents to WikiLeaks, a move he said was intended to provoke a more robust debate in the United States on the military and foreign policy. U.S. officials said the breach put lives at risk.

In written testimony, National Security Agency contractor Steven Buchanan said computer audit logs showed secret Intelink information was successfully accessed by Manning in 2009 and 2010.

David Shaver, another computer expert, also testified that large amounts of classified information were downloaded from Intelink and traced to Manning's computer.


Defense attorney David Coombs sought to cast doubt on whether all the unauthorized computer use attributed to Manning could have been done by him. Some of the more than 800 Internet searches from Manning's computer could have resulted from malfunctioning equipment, or activity by other persons, he said.

"You don't know who did those searches," Coombs said while questioning Shaver, who answered that this was correct.

Later, military computer crimes investigator Mark Mander said he used Internet searches to link leaks of classified information to WikiLeaks, gleaning some of the evidence from Internet sites such as Google and

Mander said the sites displayed chat logs that show when internet users post information and his review showed a large amount of classified U.S. military information was transferred without authorization.

"It appeared that the organisation WikiLeaks was the recipient of the information," said Mander, who also reviewed postings to social media such as Twitter. WikiLeaks sometimes uses a Twitter account to send and receive messages, he said.

One January 2010 Twitter message anonymously offered secret U.S. military information to WikiLeaks, Mander said. A later WikiLeaks tweet requested U.S. military information.

Defense attorneys sought to show that the evidence to prove Manning was responsible for this was weak.

Asked by Coombs if he had found any evidence that Manning personally viewed the Tweets, Mander said: "I did not."

The attorneys also argued that Mander's knowledge of search engines was too sparse for him to be a reliable witness on Internet postings.

Mander also acknowledged Manning did not display anti-American sentiments: "I did not find anything where he wanted to help the enemy," he said.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.S. contractor who leaked NSA files drops out of sight, faces legal battle

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 06:31 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked details of top-secret U.S. surveillance programs dropped out of sight in Hong Kong on Monday ahead of a likely push by the U.S. government to have him sent back to the United States to face charges.

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is seen in this still image taken from a video during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Courtesy of The Guardian/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Handout

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is seen in this still image taken from a video during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Courtesy of The Guardian/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Handout

Edward Snowden, 29, who provided the information for published reports last week that revealed the NSA's broad monitoring of phone call and Internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook, checked out of his Hong Kong hotel hours after going public in a video released on Sunday by Britain's Guardian newspaper.

The disclosures by Snowden have sent shockwaves across Washington, where several lawmakers called on Monday for the extradition and prosecution of the ex-CIA employee who was behind one of the most significant security leaks in U.S. history.

There were some signs, however, that Snowden's stance against government surveillance and his defence of personal privacy was resonating with at least some Americans.

Supporters flocked to Snowden's aid on the Internet - more than 25,000 people signed an online petition urging Obama to pardon Snowden even before he has been charged. A separate effort on Facebook to raise funds for Snowden's legal defence netted nearly $8,000 in just a few hours.

In Hong Kong, officials were cautious in discussing a spy drama that could entangle U.S.-China relations just a few days after U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at a summit in California where cyber security was a prime topic.

Snowden told the Guardian that he went to Hong Kong in hopes it would be a place where he might be able to resist U.S. prosecution attempts, although the former British colony has an extradition treaty with the United States.

On Monday, some local officials suggested that Snowden might have miscalculated.

"We do have bilateral agreements with the U.S. and we are duty-bound to comply with these agreements. Hong Kong is not a legal vacuum, as Mr. Snowden might have thought," said Regina Ip, a Hong Kong lawmaker and former security secretary.

Snowden said he turned over the documents to The Washington Post and the Guardian in order to expose the NSA's vast surveillance of phone and Internet data.

The former technical assistant at the CIA, who had been working at the NSA as an employee of contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, said he became disenchanted with Obama for continuing the surveillance policies of George W. Bush, Obama's predecessor.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things ... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded," Snowden told the Guardian, which published the video interview with him, dated June 6, on its website.

In Washington, several members of Congress and intelligence officials showed little sympathy for Snowden's argument. The U.S. Justice Department already is in the initial stages of a criminal investigation.

"Anyone responsible for leaking classified information should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.


James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told NBC that the leaks "violate a sacred trust for this country. The damage that these revelations incur are huge."

Some lawmakers were more cautious, however, saying the surveillance programs revealed by the Guardian and The Post raised concerns not just about citizens' privacy, but also whether the Obama administration had done enough to keep Congress informed about such surveillance, as required by law.

"The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. We need to know more about what the government is doing," said Ron Paul, a former House member and unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate in 2012 who has long said that the U.S. government is too intrusive into Americans' daily lives.

"We should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden," Paul said.

At the White House on Monday, Obama spokesman Jay Carney sidestepped questions about Snowden. Responding to questions about the White House's efforts to brief Congress about the NSA's surveillance programs, a senior administration official released a list of 22 briefings that had been conducted for lawmakers over a 14-month span.

There will be more briefings on Tuesday, when a half-dozen national security, law enforcement and intelligence officials will meet with House members. The Senate will be briefed on Thursday.

Snowden, who the Guardian said had been working at the NSA for four years as a contractor for outside companies, told the Guardian he had copied the secret documents at the NSA office in Hawaii three weeks ago and had told his supervisor that he needed "a couple of weeks" off for epilepsy treatments. He flew to Hong Kong on May 20.

Staff at a luxury hotel in Hong Kong told Reuters that Snowden had checked out at noon on Monday. Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian journalist, said later in the day that Snowden was still in Hong Kong.

"He didn't have a plan. He thought out in great detail leaking the documents and then deciding rather than being anonymous, he'd go public. So he thought that out in great detail. But his plans after that have always been vague," MacAskill said.

"I'd imagine there's now going to be a real battle between Washington and Beijing and civil rights groups as to his future," MacAskill said. "He'd like to seek asylum in a friendly country but I'm not sure if that's possible or not."


Legally speaking, where does Snowden go from here?

If Snowden is charged on criminal counts as many lawmakers and officials expect, the focus will turn to the extradition treaty that the United States and Hong Kong signed in 1996, a year before the former British colony was returned to China.

The treaty, which allows for the exchange of criminal suspects in a formal process that also may involve the Chinese government, went into effect in 1998.

It says that Hong Kong authorities can hold a U.S. suspect for up to 60 days after the United States submits a request indicating there is probable cause to believe the suspect violated U.S. law. In Snowden's case, such a request could lead Hong Kong authorities to hold him while Washington prepares a formal extradition request.

Snowden could try to stay in Hong Kong by seeking political asylum. Simon Young, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, said there are strong protections for people making asylum claims under Hong Kong's extradition laws.

A decision this year by Hong Kong's High Court requires the government to create a new standard for reviewing asylum applications, putting the cases on hold until the new system is finished.

"He's come really at probably the best moment in time because our asylum laws are in a state of limbo," Young said.


Snowden's revelations launched a broad national debate on privacy rights and the limits of security programs in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

On Monday, Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian's lead reporter on the Snowden case, used Twitter to chide Clapper for claiming that Snowden's disclosures harmed national security. Greenwald also suggested that there were more revelations to come.

"Clapper: leaks "literally gut-wrenching" - "huge, grave damage" - save some melodrama and rhetoric for coming stories. You'll need it," Greenwald tweeted.

Many members of Congress have expressed support for the surveillance program but raised questions about whether it should be more tightly supervised and scaled back.

"In my mind, things that may have been appropriate in the aftermath of 9/11 and in the weeks and months and even years after that, may no longer be appropriate today," Republican Representative Luke Messer of Indiana said on MSNBC.

Some officials said the U.S. government might need to reconsider how much it relies on outside defence contractors who are given top security clearances. As of October 2012, about 483,000 government contractors has top-secret security clearances, according to a report issued in January by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"We do need to take another, closer look at how we control information and how good we are at identifying what people are doing with that information," said Stewart Baker, former general counsel at the NSA and former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

(Additional reporting by James Pomfret, David Ingram, Mark Hosenball, Susan Heavey, Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Lindsey, Jim Loney and Mohammad Zargham)

Related Stories:
Hero or traitor, Snowden driven by fear of government intrusion

NSA leak prompts questions over U.S. reliance on contractors
If past is indicator, ex-NSA contractor may escape long jail term

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'American Idol' producer replaced due to ratings drop

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 09:10 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Swedish producer Per Blankens will be taking the lead on a revamped season of American Idol, the show's production company said on Monday, after long-time British producer Nigel Lythgoe said he was fired from the show due to falling ratings.

Blankens most recently was the executive producer of Idol, Sweden's version of the popular televised singing competition and helped the show garner strong ratings on Swedish TV.

He will oversee the upcoming 13th season of American Idol, due to premiere in January 2014.

"(Per) is extremely passionate about Idol and I'm very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping Idol creatively vibrant. He brings the talent and energy needed to keep American Idol strong," Trish Kinane, executive producer of the Fox competition show, said in a statement.

Lythgoe, who is the creator and judge of Fox's So You Think You Can Dance competition show, tweeted over the weekend "just had 10 days in the Bahamas, rain everyday. I get back to the States and get fired. Sad!"

In a follow-up statement on Monday, Lythgoe said he was sad to be leaving a great team.

"If the executives that are now in charge of American Idol believe that the ratings will improve with my departure, I have no complaints. It has been a great ride and I've loved every moment of it," Lythgoe said.

His departure comes after judges Mariah Carey, Minaj and Randy Jackson announced they were leaving the show, along with Fox's reality programming chief Mike Darnell, who will be leaving the network at the end of June.

American Idol, which premiered in 2002 and became Fox's ratings juggernaut with more than 30 million viewers during its peak years of 2006 and 2007, has suffered from a slump in viewership in recent years.

Last month, the season 12 finale drew the lowest audience yet despite the star power of Carey, Minaj and country singer Keith Urban on the judging panel, with 14.2 million tuning in to see vocal powerhouse Candice Glover win the competition.

The ratings drop came as a blow to American Idol, which had revamped its panel with high-priced talent. Carey reportedly earned $18 million and Minaj an estimated US$12 million for one season.

Pop singer and actress Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler left Idol in 2012 after two seasons and used their increased visibility from the show to relaunch their music careers.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Blue chips inch up in early trade, HLFG up

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 06:49 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips rose in early trade on Tuesday, buoyed by gains in Hong Leong Financial Group (HLFG), in line with the steadier key regional markets.

At 9.22am, the FBM KLCI rose 0.17 point to 1,787.97. Turnover was 277.49 million shares valued at RM137.33mil. There were 224 gainers, 115 losers and 199 unchanged.

Reuters reported Asian shares and the dollar steadied on Tuesday, after Standard & Poor's removed the near-term threat of another credit rating downgrade for the United States, just as data last week pointed to no imminent shift in the Federal Reserve's huge monetary stimulus.

Still, uncertainty over the timing of the Fed's eventual reduction of its massive bond-buying programme, concerns over China's growth outlook and doubts about the sustainability of Wall Street's rally may cap share prices, it said.

Maybank Equities Research said after the KLCI rose 12.21 points to close at 1,787.80 on Monday, its resistance levels of 1,792 and 1,826 might cap market gains, whilst obvious support levels were at 1,743 and 1,764.

HLFG rose 16 sen to RM14.98. GAB was the top gainer, rising 86 sen to RM22.40, CountryView 53 sen to Rm3.50 and HDBSVR 17 sen to RM4.52.

Yinso rose 13 sen to RM4.89 when it resumed trading after proposing a RM551mil takeover of a Norwegian oil & gas related company.

BAT was the top loser, down 24 sen to RM63.32, Goldsta 11 sen to RM1.45 and Allianz 10 sen to RM9.40. Genting Plantations lost 10 sen to RM9.70 and Genting Bhd eight sen to RM10.52.


Yinson surges on RM551m takeover plan

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 06:20 PM PDT

Published: Tuesday June 11, 2013 MYT 9:17:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday June 11, 2013 MYT 9:20:39 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Yinson Holdings Bhd surged to another fresh record high of RM5.02 on Tuesday when it resumed trading after proposing a RM551mil takeover of a Norwegian oil & gas related company.

At 9.05am, it was up 26 sen to RM5.02. There were 595,300 shares done.

The FBM KLCI slipped 0.96 of a point to 1,786.84. Turnover was 103.34 million shares valued at RM47.50mil. There were 170 gainers, 48 losers and 128 counters unchanged.

On Monday, Yinson announced plans to buy Fred Olsen Production ASA (FOP) for 9.40 Norwegian krone (RM5.20) per share, in a deal that would propel the company to number six on the global floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) league table.

Yinson would undertake a general offer for FOP's shares. If it manages to secure 100% acceptance, then it would have to fork out RM551.34mil for the transaction.


Affin maintains "Buy" on Bonia, fair value RM2.42

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 06:21 PM PDT

Published: Tuesday June 11, 2013 MYT 9:21:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Research is maintaining its "Buy" call for Bonia Corporation Bhd with a fair value of RM2.42 after its unit's partnership with an Italian company.

Affin said Bonia's Singapore-based unit Active World Pte Ltd tied up with Bruno Magli SPA to set up Bruno Magli South Ease Asia Pte Ltd (BM) under the Singapore Companies Act to market and sell BM's products brand in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesian, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

"We view the deal positively for Bonia in the longer-term as the joint venture is a strategic alliance to bring in and market the luxury brand in the Asean countries. After acquiring Braun Buffel in late 2010, Bonia is moving further into the high-end market via the latest collaboration," it said.



The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Yee Khan urges BAM to hire a former champ to run the show

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 04:14 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: A former champion should be appointed as the chairman of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)'s coaching and training committee to save Malaysian badminton from a slump.

This is the earnest wish of old timer Datuk Tan Yee Khan.

The 73-year-old Yee Khan, a former All-England men's doubles champion with Ng Boon Bee in 1965-1966, fears that Malaysian badminton will sink into oblivion once world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei retires and BAM need experienced and knowledgable people to revive the sport.

He hoped that when the BAM's exco headed by Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh meet today, his plea to give calibre former players influential roles in coaching and training structures would be one of recommendations that they would take to heart.

The exco will also decide on a date for their election in July, whereby a new president and coaching and training committee chairman will be chosen.

Nadzmi is not seeking re-election while the current training committee chairman Ng Chin Chai said he would be giving up the post after three years following Malaysia's dismal showing in the Sudirman Cup last month.

Malaysia lost to Taiwan and Germany and failed to make the top eight – despite having the home advantage in the world mixed team event.

Yee Khan hopes that Nadzmi would get one thing right before he leaves the BAM as the president after more than a decade – by giving the local ex-international shuttlers a break, and a mandate to turn things around for Malaysia.

"A former champion will be an ideal person to head the coaching and training committee on a full-time basis. And this person must be given the full authority and responsibilities to run the show," said Yee Khan.

Yee Khan felt that the previous coaching and training committee had not addressed several issues.

"My heart aches when I look at the state of Malaysian badminton. I wonder what will happen when Chong Wei retires. I foresee a gloomy future if no measures are taken to improve the situation," he said.

"Just look at Indonesia. Their coaching staff comprise former champions.

"Their consultants and advisers are former greats.

"And there is already transformation in the Indonesian team. Countries like Thailand and India are improving but we are not moving forward," said Yee Khan.

"We have tolerated many coaches who like to be compromising. They give in to players' demands and are unable to earn respect from their players. No wonder we are still way behind China, who give utmost priority to discipline in their training camp.

Yee Khan said that the BAM should stop giving excuses that they could not find suitable candidates among the locals.

"There are no perfect candidates. Please, I am tired of the national body giving excuses that there are no local former internationals who are good enough for the job.

"Former players are experienced and they can contribute.

"Give them a chance to prove themselves," he said.

A few names have been tossed around like Cheah Soon Kit, Wong Choong Hann, Kwan Yoke Meng, Razif Sidek, Misbun Sidek and Datuk James Selvaraj but it seems that the BAM are not going to give them absolute authority to run the show.

Gentle Liu Ying out to show her tough side in Indonesia Open

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 05:16 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Soft-spoken mixed doubles shuttler Goh Liu Ying is ready to show her tough side in the Indonesian Open starting tomorrow in Jakarta.

After several limp performances of late, a determined Liu Ying is hoping to restore some order in her partnership with Chan Peng Soon in the Indonesia Open, dubbed as the mini World Championships, as the tournament has attracted all the big names in the mixed doubles event.

The Indonesian Open is Peng Soon-Liu Ying's last tournament before the World Championships in Guangzhou in August, where the Malaysians target to reach at least the semi-finals.

Liu Ying was disappointed with herself during last month's Sudirman Cup. Together with Peng Soon, they lost to Michael Fuchs-Birgit Michels in the opening match of the Group C tie against Germany and it eventually led to Malaysia's 3-2 shock defeat and failure to make the top-eight cut.

In fact, the duo have yet to produce any outstanding displays this year since their runners-up finish at the Malaysian Open in January.

"It was a painful lesson for me and Peng Soon at the Sudirman Cup. We were not tough enough to handle the pressure of playing in the team event. Personally, for me, I just need to toughen up," said Liu Ying.

"The Indonesian Open is our last tournament before the world championships.

"We just want to go all out and for once, be satisfied that it was our best efforts in a tournament," she said.

Liu Ying, who recently celebrated her 24th birthday on May 30, said that even an intimidating draw had not dampened her spirit.

"I would consider the Indonesian Open as the mini World Championships. All the top players are here and it will be competitive from the first round. The draw is tough.

"We cannot change the draw but Peng Soon and I can change the way we play," she said.

"We are not troubled over our opponents.

"It does not matter who we play but what matters is that we give a solid show. Peng Soon and I had a more fruitful time in training before arriving in Jakarta and that is good," she said.

World No. 5 Liu Ying-Peng Soon have been drawn to meet Qiu Zihan-Bao Yixin of China in the opening round.

In their half are second seeds and home favourites Ahmad Tantowi-Lilyana Natsir and Mohd Rijal-Debby Susanto; South Koreans Yoo Yeon-seong-Eom Hye-won; and Denmark's dangerous pair of Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen.

The top half are equally challenging with China's two top pairs – top seeds Ma Jin-Xu Chen and third seeds Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei – expected to fight for the ticket to the final.

They are expected to stave off stiff assaults from Indonesian siblings Markis Kido-Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth, South Koreans Ko Sung-hyun-Kim Ha-na, Poland's Robert Mateusiak-Nadiezba Zieba and Thailand's Sudket Prapakamol-T. Saralee.

For the record, Malaysian players have never reached the mixed doubles final in the Indonesian Open since the tournament's inception in 1982.

If Liu Ying-Peng Soon can achieve a breakthrough, it will surely put them in good stead ahead of the world meet.

Young pairs to speed up progress by sparring with seniors

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 04:14 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Two months of solid training and special sparring sessions with the seniors are among the plans to speed up the progress of Malaysia's former world junior boys' doubles champions Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi and Chooi Kah Ming-Ow Yao Han.

Wei Keat-Ee Yi and Kah Ming-Yao Han showed that they are still not ready for the big game after crashing out in the second round of the Thailand Open Grand Prix in Bangkok, which ended on Sunday.

Wei Keat-Ee Yi went down to eventual champions Shin Baek-cheol-Yoo Yeon-seong of South Korea while Kah Ming-Yao Han lost 15-21, 16-21 to Indonesian veterans Alven Yulianto-Markis Kido.

National doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her had mixed feelings over the performances of his future stars in Thailand but was confident that with the right guidance, the two pairs will make it big.

"Wei Keat-Ee Yi avenged their defeat to a young Indonesian pair (Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira-Ade Yusuf) in the first round. They had lost to this pair last year (at the Indonesian Open Grand Prix). So, I am happy with that," said Kim Her.

"They, however, lost to more experienced pairs in the second round although I had hoped for a breakthrough.

"Both pairs are still trying to establish themselves. Their goals are to win Satellite and Grand Prix tournaments this year and beating a higher ranked pair is a bonus."

Kim Her said that he would continue to give more attention to these young pairs. In fact, he will be taking both of them as sparring partners to the World Championships-bound pairs during the centralised training.

"The focus will be on the team getting ready for the World Championships in August (in Guangzhou) and I have included them as sparring partners.

"There will be no tournaments for them for the next two months and they will spend quality time in training," he said.

"Hopefully, after that, we will see them playing with more confidence and winning titles.

"For now, Wei Keat-Ee Yi need to focus on improving their physical strength while Yao Han-Kah Ming need to polish up their court strategy."

With more focus and constant exposure, Malaysia can expect Wei Keat-Ee Yi and Kah Ming-Yao Han to mature into dependable men's doubles pairs for the country – in the next two years.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

'The Purge' scares off 'Fast 6' to take box office lead

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 08:43 PM PDT

HOLLYWOOD (Reuters) - Low-budget horror film The Purge scared up US$36.4 million in ticket sales to lead the domestic box office in its first week in domestic theaters, zooming past the car-racing action film Fast & Furious 6.

The Internship, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson based on the antics of nerds in search of a job at internet giant Google, sold US$18.1 million worth of tickets to finish fourth, according to studio estimates of sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters.

The film reunited Vaughn and Wilson who teamed to make Wedding Crashers in 2005. That movie generated US$209.3 million in domestic ticket sales, according to the site Box Office Mojo.

The duo's latest effort was projected by industry experts to gross a modest US$17 million in ticket sales.

The Purge, made for US$3 million by the producer of the low-budget Paranormal Activity horror series, stars Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey in a futuristic story of the United States in 2022 in which the government reduces crime by allowing almost all crime to go unpunished during a 12-hour "purge" period.

Part science fiction, part horror film, The Purge was dismissed by critics but eagerly awaited by horror fans. Industry experts had forecast it would sell US$20 million worth of tickets.

Universal Studios' president for domestic distribution Nikki Rocco attributed the film's success to its marketing and social media campaign.

Rocco also said that the time was ripe at the box office for a low-budget horror film like The Purge.

"The timing was perfect," she said. "In the last month or two there's been a definable slot for this kind of movie."

Fast & Furious, the sixth installment of the series starring Vin Diesel racked up US$19.8 million to take second place, bringing its total since Memorial Day to nearly US$202.9 million domestically and US$584.6 million globally.

The sixth installment in the billion-dollar franchise takes the action to London, where Diesel and co-star Dwyane Johnson lead their crew on a mission to take down an international ring.

In third place, the comedy heist caper Now You See Me continued its stronger-than-expected showing with US$19.5 million at North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters, finishing in third place.

The post-apocalyptic After Earth, starring Smith and his teenage son Jaden Smith, continued its weak showing at the U.S. and Canadian box office with US$11.2 million.

The film has generated US$46.6 million in total domestic sales, Will Smith's weakest performance since the 1993 film Made In America that grossed US$44.9 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

After Earth did perform strongly overseas, opening with US$45.5 million in 60 territories over the weekend.

Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures' president of worldwide distribution, said that Sony was happy with the overseas opening and expects much of the film's ticket sales to come from international markets.

"It definitely was the exciting start we were looking for internationally," he said.

Sam Mendes in talks to direct the next Bond flick

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 02:13 AM PDT

Skyfall director Sam Mendes is back at the negotiating table to make the 24th instalment of the British spy film series, relays

After being courted for a long time to make the next Bond picture, Mendes withdrew from the project in early March owing to commitments up to 2014. The film franchise producers subsequently decided to wait for Mendes so as to capitalise on the unprecedented success of Skyfall, which grossed US$1.11bil (RM3.4bil) at the box office, outselling all the other Bond films to date.

During the three months of uncertainty about Mendes, EON Productions sifted through a whole slew of resumes from other filmmakers capable of handling action and suspense well and with a modicum of artistic credibility. The shortlisted candidates included Christopher Nolan (Inception), Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives), Tom Hooper (The King's Speech), Ang Lee (Life Of Pi), Shane Black (Iron Man 3) and David Yates (last four films in the Harry Potter series).

The follow-up to Skyfall is slated for theatrical release by 2016. Daniel Craig is currently discussing the terms of reprising the role of Agent 007. Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, who played the new M, Miss Moneypenny and Q in the last picture, are attached to reprise their roles in the next one. - AFP Relaxnews


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Traders and residents restless over fights among Myanmar nationals

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 07:52 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Fights and killings among Myanmar nationals at Selayang wholesale market have caused anxiety among traders and local residents around the area.

The existence of too many Myanmar nationals had turned the market into a 'Little Myanmar', where they can seen at eateries as well selling contraband cigarettes and betel.

A Bernama survey at the market on Monday found that most of the traders and patrons complaining about the deterioration of their business due to several fighting incidents.

Several fights between the Myanmar nationals were reported in the market and Kampung Baru Ampang since early this month with three Myanmar men being killed, due to the spillover of the Muslim-Buddhist religious conflict in their home country.

Fruit seller, Ng You Loy, 52, said since the quarrel, which led to murder at the market, customers who patronised his shop began to drop.

"Before this, many people stopped by to buy the fruits. The fewer customers may be due to the cases that occurred recently," he told Bernama here on Monday.

R. Lechumie, 54, a vegetable seller since 20 years ago at the market, said she had cold feet to run her business as she worried if similar incident will recur.

"They (Myanmar) always make trouble, when they are rowdy we are the ones who find difficult to earn a living," she said.

Lechumie, however, was relieved that the police regularly patrolled the location to ensure the peace.

Ariffin Abdul Rahman, 52, who had been selling fish for ten years, said although there were fights before, he still continued with his business as usual.

"I do not want to interfere in the issue of the fighting between them (Myanmar nationals), as long as they do not mess up with me, I will continue to do business as usual," he said.

Restaurant operator, Muhammad Shafawi Baharom, 34, said he still bought groceries from the market although scared with news of fights at the market.

Housewife, Rokiah Mohd Arriff, 57, said although she worried about her safety, she believed that action taken by the authorities would resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, some Myanmar nationals feared to reveal their identity due to the incident with some of them asking journalists for identification card before being interviewed.

Last week, Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh warned Myanmar nationals residing in this country not to create tension as a result of political affiliation in their country of origin that could jeopardise national security.

As a preventive measure, the police have collected information from 400 Myanmar nationals who work in the Klang Valley, including at the market, to be stored in the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) database system to easily detect if they are involved in any crime in this country. - Bernama

Related Stories:
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Myanmar national runs amok at police station
Malaysian advised against all but essential travel to Myanmar's Mandalay, Bago regions

Cops nab men who took woman on terror ride and nearly raped her

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 07:33 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Carjackers put a woman through a terror ride and they tried to rape her as she fought them.

The 33-year-old woman was traveling in the car with her elder sister when they stopped at a traffic light near Taman Cheras Indah 4.15am on Saturday.

Ampang OCPD Asst Comm Amiruddin Jamaluddin said Mondaythat two men, aged 17 and 20, appeared, opened the door punched the sister and pulled her out of the car.

"They took her handbag, got into the car and drove off," he said when contacted.

With the help of some passers-by, the elder sister managed to alert a police patrol car nearby.

ACP Amiruddin said the patrol car spotted the hijacked vehicle at Pandan Perdana and gave chase.

The car chase proved short when a second police patrol car joined the chase and helped corner the hijackers.

Police arrested both men and rescued the traumatised sister.

Both men, who had no prior criminal records and tested negative for drugs, have been remanded until June 16.

31 men arrested over fight at Karak police station

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 05:53 AM PDT

BENTONG: Police have detained 31 people in connection with a fight which broke out at the Karak police station on Sunday.

Bentong police chief Supt Mohamad Mansor Mohd Nor said Monday they would be detained until Thursday to facilitate investigations, but declined to elaborate on the incident.

However, it is learnt that police were forced to fire a warning shot to disperse a fight between members of two groups who went to the Karak police station, purportedly to lodge a report.

The fight was prompted by an earlier incident where two men, aged 19 and 20, belonging to one of the groups, were allegedly caught stealing scrap metal from a premises in Karak.

This prompted the workers at the scrap yard to seek the help of their friends to catch the alleged thieves, who fled in a car.

According to police sources, the two groups met at a location and a quarrel broke out when the two men denied stealing from the scrap yard.

The timely arrival of the police at the scene prevented the situation from getting worse, but they were told to go to the Karak police station to lodge a report.

However, he said, a fight broke out between the two groups again in the police station where the officer-in-charge at the station, Sub Insp Nik Hamdan Mamat, fell after being pushed while trying to disperse them.

He said police were forced to fire a warning shot when members of the two groups went out of control and continued fighting.

Seven of them were injured and sent to Bentong Hospital for treatment, he added. - Bernama


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Motorists find it hard to make sense of poorly planned road signage

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 06:35 AM PDT

FRUSTRATED motorists are dubbing Klang Valley the "land of signs and wonders". You follow the road signs, and then wonder where you are!

Driving on the network of highways and byways here is not for the faint-hearted.

Not only do you have to contend with errant drivers, traffic jams and the terrible road conditions, driving to an unfamiliar destination becomes more complicated because of confusing signboards or the lack of proper ones.

For those not in possession of a global positioning system (GPS) device, accurate and visible signboards are a necessity.

A recent StarMetro check with drivers in the Klang Valley revealed that there was still much to be done to improve signboards in and around the cities.

The most common grievances highlighted by motorists was that road signs were either blocked, unsuitably placed or even overcrowded.

Old road signs, new diversions and upgrading works also contribute to motorists getting lost.

Auditor Thevendra Naido, 26, said the road signs located near Glenmarie Shah Alam heading towards Sungai Buloh/Ipoh were confusing.

"The road sign that states 'Ipoh' does not take you to the New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), but instead takes you to Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE).

"The GCE is a shorter route only if you are heading towards Rawang or north to Ipoh and Penang.

"However, if you are planning on heading towards Sungai Buloh, Kepong and Kota Damansara, this expressway is a longer route with two tolls.

"These signboards are misleading, and a first-time user on this route will be led to using the longer route," Thevendra said, adding that the relevant authorities should correct this signboard.

Another motorist, Vincent Fatianathan Kolandasamy, 58, is annoyed that many signboards had been unsuitable placed in locations that can confuse motorists or, even worse, cause them to drive recklessly.

"This is a recurring issue especially on our highways. For example, if you are travelling from Subang Jaya and want to head to Bangsar via the New Pantai Expressway (NPE), the first signboard before the toll shows Bangsar.

"But the next signboard is about 100m after the toll, which is too far a distance to read properly, so the driver cannot safely make a decision ahead of time regarding which turnoff to use," said Vincent.

A drive along this route proved to be true as the second signboard was located at the junction between the two turnoffs — Pusat Damansara/Bangsar on the left and Seremban/Sungai Besi on the right.

This is a potential hazard as the eight lanes at the toll had merged into four, with some motorists resorting to criss-crossing the entire width of the road.

There is also a small sign to indicate directions to popular tourist destinations such as KLCC, which is easily missed and consequently people take the wrong turn.

Too many signboards could prove detrimental too. For example, if one was to head to Kepong via the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP).

The numerous signboards after Bandar Utama make it difficult to navigate, especially if the driver is unsure of the route.

Most of the time, motorists end up paying extra for toll and making a few more rounds before reaching their intended destinations.

Another common sight are the many signboards and street signs completely covered with illegal advertisement stickers or blocked by structures and tree branches.

Writer Samantha Chow, 22, is fed up with badly-maintained and vandalised signboards.

"For example, there is a no-entry sign at the corner of a one-way street in Jalan SS24/2, Taman Megah in Petaling Jaya.

"As I am not familiar with the area, I have unknowingly driven through the street from the wrong end as I cannot see the sign at all, only to block the cars coming from the other side.

"People who live in the area may be familiar with the roads and know that it is a one-way street but for those like me, we need clear and visible signboards so that we do not make mistakes," said Chow.

She added that this could be dangerous for both motorists and pedestrians.

Pump failure in Wangsa Maju causing water cuts

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 06:35 AM PDT

ANOTHER pump failure at the Wangsa Maju pump house on Saturday has caused water supply disruption to 76,012 homes in Ampang and Kuala Lumpur.

This was the final straw for many residents who have been facing frequent water supply disruption this year.

Last month, there was a two-week 'drought', also due to a broken pump at the same location and at the Pudu Hulu Baru pump house.

According to an official Syabas statement, the Number 5 pump had broken down at about 3pm on Saturday and was only operating with three pumps with a capacity of 150 million litres a day compared to the requirement of 180 to 190 million litres.

Areas affected are Lembah Jaya Utara, Desa Lembah Permai, Kampung Muhibah, Kampung Tasek Permai, Kampung Tasek Tambahan, Taman Sri Baru, Taman Dagang Jaya, Kampung Ampang Campuran, Flat Desa Pandan, Taman Dagang, Taman Nirwana, Bandar Sri Permaisuri, Taman Shamelin, Jalan Yaakob Latif and Jalan Ikan Emas.

Syabas first posted a Facebook update on Saturday at 9.30pm, about six hours after the pump broke down.

Irate customer Irwan Ismail complained that the Lembah Jaya area faces water supply disruption every two weeks and wanted Syabas to buck up.

Others such as Steven Liew and Mohd Shah Rezan were unhappy that Syabas did not inform them earlier.

"Again Bandar Sri Permaisuri? Every month (there is) water problem. We are so tired of dealing with this," Sangeetha Jayaram commented on the official Puspel Syabas page.

Twitter user @fizakamarudin wrote that ironically, when it rained there was a water supply disruption in Ampang.

Syabas corporate communications and public affairs assistant general manager Priscilla Alfred said they were still fixing the pump at press time.

"We have activated our Green Code Emergency Response Plan and water tankers are on standby to be deployed to areas affected by the situation," she said.

She added that consumers were advised to use water wisely as generally there is a shortage because of higher usage during the hot weather.

Alfred also revealed that the tender to upgrade the pumps was awarded last month and they expect work to be completed in February next year.

For updates, follow Syabas on its Facebook or Twitter accounts or call 1800-88-5252.


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'Kinky' musical snaps up Tonys

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 02:53 AM PDT

NEW YORK: With lots of big stars on hand showing Hollywood can do Broadway, '80s rocker turned musical-maker Cyndi Lauper won her first Tony for "Kinky Boots" at the 67th Tony Awards.

"I can't say I wasn't practicing in front of the shower curtain for a couple days for this speech," Lauper said Sunday, picking up one of six gongs for the show, for best original score.

"All right, I gotta thank my mom for sharing all that wonderful music. I wrecked all her Broadway musicals when I was a kid, the cast albums. That's how I learned how to sing, and I want to thank her for sharing the music with me," Lauper added.

The show, which was nominated 13 times, also won best musical and best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical, as well as three other categories.

Based on a British movie, "Kinky Boots" tells the story of the unlikely reincarnation of a near bankrupt shoe factory. Lauper -- famous for her song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" -- wrote the music and lyrics.

Another top winner for the night was Broadway stalwart "Pippin," which won in four out of its 10 nominations: best revival of a musical, best actress in leading and featured roles in a musical, and best direction of a musical.

Television actor Neil Patrick Harris, hosting in New York, welcomed presenters and performers like Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Kendrick, Martha Plimpton, Sigourney Weaver, Zachary Quinto and Sally Field.

Hanks, better known for his work on the big screen, was considered a favorite for the best actor prize for his performance in "Lucky Guy," a Nora Ephron play about the ups and downs of controversial New York journalist Mike McAlary.

But Hanks was passed over in a surprise upset when the award went to playwright and actor Tracy Letts for his performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Letts had won a Tony previously for his writing.

Veteran actress Cicely Tyson, whose stage and screen credits date back to the 1950s, won best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play for her role in "The Trip to Bountiful." It was the first time the Tyson, who has won an Oscar and numerous Emmys, had been nominated for a Tony.

"Matilda," the adaptation of the beloved children's book by Roald Dahl, was another favorite of the night, with 12 nominations. The musical won four awards, including best book of a musical and best performance by an actor in a featured role.

"Matilda," which recounts an exceptionally -- and supernaturally -- gifted girl's determination to make something of her life, has enjoyed rave reviews and is produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The nominations list snubbed some major stars, including Johansson in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and Al Pacino in the intense real estate salesmen drama "Glengarry Glen Ross." - AFP

Jefferson Airplane drummer Covington dies at 67

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 01:24 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Joey Covington, former drummer with 1960s US psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane, has died in a car crash in California, officials say. He was 67.

Covington, who lived in Palm Springs, was driving alone when his car veered off a curve and smashed head-on into a wall Tuesday, said the Riverside County Coroner's office east of Los Angeles.

He was a member of Jefferson Airplane, led by charismatic vocalist Grace Slick, from 1969 to 1972, as well as of blues-rock band Hot Tuna, formed with Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Cassady.

The drummer subsequently launched a solo career, and played in the the 1980s and 1990s on the San Francisco Allstars. He was known for playing locally around Palm Springs in later years.

Jefferson Airplane, which debuted in 1965, had hit singles with White Rabbit and Somebody To Love from the album Surrealistic Pillow and played at such celebrated 1960s festivals as Woodstock and Altamont in 1969.

A friend of Covington, Keith McCormick, told the Desert Sun newspaper that the drummer's wife suspected that a stroke or a heart attack had led to the crash. Police said they did not believe drugs or alcohol were involved.

Judge wants probe into Paris Jackson suicide attempt

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 11:56 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ordered a probate court investigator to make recommendations about the "health, education and welfare" of Paris Jackson, teenage daughter of late singer Michael Jackson, after an apparent suicide attempt this week, according to court documents.

Judge Mitchell Beckloff ordered the investigator to "address the status of the minor child, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, and recent media reports concerning her welfare," court documents filed on Thursday said.

The teenager was rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital on Wednesday after attempting suicide, her biological mother Deborah Rowe told the TV program Entertainment Tonight.

Paris' grandmother, Katherine Jackson, said a statement distributed on Wednesday by her attorney, Perry Sanders, noted that "Paris is physically fine and is getting appropriate medical attention."

"Being a sensitive 15-year-old is difficult no matter who you are," Katherine Jackson said in her statement. "It is especially difficult when you lose the person closest to you."

Celebrity news website TMZ first reported the apparent suicide attempt, and said Paris was under psychiatric evaluation.

Pop singer Jackson died in 2009 at age 50 from a lethal dose of surgical anesthetic propofol in Los Angeles while preparing for his This Is It series of concerts in London.

Paris and her two brothers Prince Michael and Prince Michael II, also known as Blanket, live under the joint custody of their 83-year-old grandmother Katherine and their cousin T.J. Jackson, son of Jackson's older brother Tito.

Rowe, who was married to Jackson from 1996 to 1999 and had two children with him, turned over custody of the children to Jackson as part of their divorce, but she had recently rekindled her relationship with Paris.


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