Khamis, 13 Jun 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Hunger Games' star Wes Bentley joins HBO's Ryan Murphy pilot

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 08:10 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES ( - Gearing up for production this fall, Glee and American Horror Story co-creator Ryan Murphy and Dexter's Lauren Gussis' HBO drama pilot, Open, has cast Wes Bentley.

TheWrap has learned that Bentley will play Evan Foster.

The character is described as "handsome and knows it, arrogant and completely charismatic, a bit of a blowhard who loves espousing his theories on human sexuality."

Bentley played Seneca Crane on The Hunger Games. His other film credits include American Beauty and Lovelace.

Previously, Bentley was in the HBO pilot, Tilda, with Ellen Page and Diane Keaton, which the network didn't pick up.

Written by Murphy and Gussis, the pilot project is executive produced by Glee and American Horror Story's Dante Di Loreto for Ryan Murphy Television and 20th Television's cable arm Fox 21 under Murphy's overall deal with the studio.

The drama pilot is described as a "modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships."

Murphy is also executive producing TV movie, The Normal Heart, for HBO.


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Czech cabinet in crisis after police sweep government offices

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 08:51 PM PDT

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic's main opposition party demanded on Thursday that Prime Minister Petr Necas step down after police raided government offices, seized documents and detained a woman who for years has been one of his closest aides.

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Necas makes a statement at the Czech Government headquarters in Prague June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Petr Josek

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Necas makes a statement at the Czech Government headquarters in Prague June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Petr Josek

Necas said he would not consider resigning after the raids, but the investigation is a severe blow to his government, which does not have a stable majority in parliament and has already come close to collapsing several times.

Hundreds of officers from the organised crime unit, some armed and wearing balaclavas, conducted sweeps of the government headquarters and the Defence Ministry. They also searched safe deposit boxes in a bank, seized documents at the capital's city hall, and raided private homes.

One anti-graft campaigner said it was the biggest operation in the past 20 years to tackle corruption in the Czech Republic, a European Union member of 10.5 million people.

Among those detained was Jana Nagyova, the head of the prime minister's office who has been, in effect, his long-standing personal assistant.

Police refused to give details of their investigation or disclose the names of the people they had detained. Necas himself, in a statement to the media, revealed that Nagyova was among people from his office who had been detained.

The police operation triggered a political crisis, with parliament interrupting its session, the crown currency dropping slightly, and the president scheduling a meeting with Necas and the head of the national police for Friday.

Bohuslav Sobotka, head of the centre-left opposition Social Democrats said the country should hold an early election and his party would start consultations with political partners and the president to secure that aim. The opposition party needs allies, as it alone does not have enough votes to dismiss the cabinet.

"The Social Democrats demand an immediate resignation of the prime minister," Sobotka told reporters.

The Czech Republic became a beacon of liberty in 1989 when former dissident Vaclav Havel led the "Velvet Revolution" against communist rule. But since then, successive governments have been dogged by accusations and rumours of corruption - though none has ever led to a high-profile conviction.

In a statement to the media, Necas said: "I am personally convinced that I did not do anything dishonest and that my colleagues have not done anything dishonest either. Therefore I do not have any reason to consider a resignation and, thus, the fall of the government."


Referring to his aide's detention, Necas said: "I can only comment that my confidence in her has not declined and I have no reason to believe that she committed anything illegal."

Interior Minister Jan Kubice said that Necas himself had been visited late on Wednesday by the head of the organised crime unit and two state attorneys. But he gave no further details and it was unclear what the visit was about.

Petr Honzejk, a commentator at the daily Hospodarske Noviny newspaper, said the raids were the most serious blow yet to the centre-right government led by Necas.

"I think Petr Necas cannot survive this," he said. "Everyone knows how close she (Nagyova) is to him."

A senior government official told Reuters that Nagyova was personally close to Necas for years, and acted as a gatekeeper for people who wanted to see the prime minister.

The government switchboard directed calls for Nagyova to the press department, which refused to comment.

It was Necas who tried to break with the pattern of corruption being swept under the carpet by appointing prosecutors with a free hand to pursue sleaze cases.

"This is clearly the biggest police operation concerning corruption ... in the past 20 years," said Radim Bures of anti-graft group Transparency International.

"For the past year and a half police and the state attorney's office have shown they are not scared."

Necas said that people from his office were detained apparently in relation to a case last year when three former deputies from his party quit parliament after abandoning a rebellion that could have toppled the government. Two of them were later given top positions at state firms.

Czech media said police also searched the premises of politically-connected businessmen.

There was no indication from police or prosecutors of what corrupt activities they suspect in the case, but Czech media and politicians have long talked about the country being plagued by sleazy practices.

These have included overpriced IT, legal, services and equipment procurement contracts at various levels of state administration, often won by companies with anonymous owners in off-shore tax havens.

(Additional reporting by Jana Mlcochova and Jan Korselt; Editing by Pravin Char)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Iran begins vote to choose Ahmadinejad's successor

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 08:45 PM PDT

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranians began voting on Friday in a presidential election unlikely to result in seismic shifts in its troubled relations with the West and Gulf Arab neighbours, but which could bring a softening of the confrontational style personified by outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Motorists drive past election posters hanging off a pedestrian crossing in Tehran June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Fars News/Ashraf Tabatabaei

Motorists drive past election posters hanging off a pedestrian crossing in Tehran June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Fars News/Ashraf Tabatabaei

World powers embroiled in talks with Iran over its nuclear programme are looking for signs of a recalibration of its negotiating position after eight years of intransigence under fiery populist Ahmadinejad.

Iran's Gulf Arab neighbours are also wary of Iran's influence in Iraq next door and its backing for President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese allies Hezbollah in the Syrian civil war. The Sunni Arab kingdoms are backing the rebels in Syria.

Of five hardline candidates professing unwavering obedience to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, three are thought to stand any chance of winning the vote, or making it through to a second round run-off in a week's time.

Of those three main conservative hopefuls only one, current chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, advocates maintaining Iran's robust, ideologically-driven foreign policy.

The other two, Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, have pledged never to back away from pursuing Iran's nuclear programme but have strongly criticised Jalili's inflexible negotiating stance.

They face a single moderate candidate, the only cleric in the race, Hassan Rohani. Though very much an establishment figure, suspicious of the West, Rohani is more likely to pursue a conciliatory foreign policy.


With no independent, reliable opinion polls in Iran, it is hard to gauge the public mood, let alone the extent to which Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards will exert their powerful influence over the ballot.

State media reported that polling began on schedule at 0330 GMT. Voting lasts for 10 hours, though this can be extended if need be. There are more than 50 million Iranians eligible to vote, 1.6 million of them first-time voters.

But security has been tight and campaigns subdued compared to the euphoric rallies that preceded the last presidential election in 2009, when reformist supporters thought they scented victory and the prospect of change in Iran.

Those hopes were dashed when Ahmadinejad was returned to office by results the reformists said were rigged.

The large street protests that broke out were met with a tough crackdown in which several people were killed and hundreds arrested. The reformist candidates who lost in 2009 are now under house arrest and have little contact with the outside world.

Human rights groups have criticised Iran for further arrests and curbs on activists and journalists ahead of Friday's poll and the disqualification of 678 people registered as candidates, including Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the founders of the Islamic Republic.

Iranian officials dispute accusations of human rights abuses and call the charges politically motivated. They also say elections in Iran are free, fair and democratic.

(Writing by Jon Hemming, Additional reporting by Zahra Hosseinian, Editing by Andrew Roche and William Maclean)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Iranians start voting to select successor to Ahmadinejad

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 08:41 PM PDT

Motorists drive past election posters hanging off a pedestrian crossing in Tehran June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Fars News/Ashraf Tabatabaei

Motorists drive past election posters hanging off a pedestrian crossing in Tehran June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Fars News/Ashraf Tabatabaei

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranians began voting on Friday to choose a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state television reported.

The election, in which voters have a choice of six candidates, is the first for a head of government since a disputed 2009 ballot touched off months of political unrest in the Islamic Republic.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Zahra Hosseinian, Editing by William Maclean)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


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Affin Research maintains "Buy" on Gamuda

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 06:20 PM PDT

Published: Friday June 14, 2013 MYT 9:21:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Research is maintaining its "Buy" call on Gamuda Bhd with a target price of RM5.29.

Affin said Gamuda had on June 13 announced that it accepted TPPT Sdn Bhd's RM620mil offer in relation to the proposed acquisition of 724.3 acres of land in Rawang, Selangor.

"Funding for the proposed acquisition is not an issue given its high cash reserves and low net gearing at RM1.7bn and 0.1 times respectively as at Jan 31, 2013 and good profits from its construction and property divisions," it said.

Affin added Gamuda intends to duplicate its success in Kota Kemuning,Bandar Botanic and Horizon Hills, and to develop the land into a premiere residential and commercial enclave.

"Given the increasing scarce supply of land in the Klang Valley and the intended development, we believe the acquisition price of RM19.65 per sq ft is fair," it said.

Affin said Gamuda is confident of the long-term prospects of the property development business in Malaysia and the proposed acquisition is in line with its plans to spend RM3bil in the next three years to increase its land bank in a few major cities.


KLCI rebounds, Petronas Gas, Genting up

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 06:13 PM PDT

Published: Friday June 14, 2013 MYT 9:13:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips opened firmer on Friday, staging a rebound from Thursday's sell-off, as investors scouted for battered down but fundamentally strong stocks like Petronas Gas and Genting Bhd.

At 9am, the FBM KLCI was up 6.27 points to 1,749.14. Turnover was 32.06 million shares valued at RM20.24mil. There were 175 gainers, 23 losers and 58 counters unchanged.

Petronas Gas rose 46 sen to RM21.30, Genting Bhd and UMW 10 sen each to RM10.44 and RM14.24 while UEM Land added nine sen to RM3.21. Sime Dary rose eight sen to RM9.54.

F&N was the top loser, down 52 sen to RM18.38 on profit taking after Thursday's sharp gains. Top Glove fell nine sen to RM6.26 and Petronas Dagangan eight sen to RM24.94.

RHB Cap lost four sen to RM8.57, MPHB three sen to RM3.65and TM two sen to RM5.40.


BIMB Research sees Malaysian equities rebounding

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 05:56 PM PDT

Published: Friday June 14, 2013 MYT 8:56:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: BIMB Securities Research expects Malaysian equities to rebound on Friday after it was oversold on Thursday as investor sentiment should perk up on the firmer overnight close on Wall Street.

The research house said the local market was affected by strong sell-off in regional market as well where the FBM KLCI lost 32.25 points or 1.82% to end at 1,742.87 dragged down mostly by banking stocks.

"Trading participation shows net buying from local retail and institutions while foreign institutions were net sellers.

"The volatility in local market remains high but we believe the local market was oversold yesterday and expect to rebound today with immediate resistance at 1,745/50 while support at 1,740/35," it said.

Over on Wall Street, the S&P 500 marking its best day in five months, bolstered by upbeat economic data and a late session report that eased worries about the Federal Reserve's monetary policy.

The DJIA and S&P500 rose 1.21% and 1.48% respectively to finish at 15,176.08 and 1,636.36 respectively.



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Mickelson withstands endurance test to seize Open lead

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 04:13 PM PDT

ARDMORE, Pennsylvania: Phil Mickelson played the first round of the US Open on Thursday at Merion on only three hours of sleep after a cross-country flight so he could see daughter Amanda's eighth-grade graduation.

Battling exhaustion and a formidable course, Mickelson fired a three-under par 67 - his lowest US Open first round since 1999 - to seize the early lead at a long-sought major where he has settled for second a record five times.

"Yeah, it might be abnormal, but it actually worked out really well," said Mickelson. "I got all my work done on Merion when I was here a week and a half ago. I knew exactly how I wanted to play the golf course."

Mickelson, an American left-hander who turns 43 on Sunday and the clear fan favorite in cheers, departed Merion on Monday for his Southern California home and spent two days sharpening his game on his personal practice area.

"I didn't feel I needed more time at Merion. What I needed was to get my game sharp," he said. "And having a nice practice facility and nice weather for the last couple of days allowed me to do that."

Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion who also won the PGA Championship in 2005, was the US Open runner-up in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009 but hopes to finally collect that trophy on Father's Day.

"If I never get that win, it would be a bit heartbreaking," Mickelson admitted.

Being with his daughter was as important as preparing for the Open to Mickelson.

"Really proud of her. She did a great job. I was really glad I was there," Mickelson said.

"She told me, 'It's fine. Stay. It's the US Open, I know how much you care about it.' And I told her that I want to be there. I don't want to miss that. I don't want to miss her speech.

I don't want to miss her graduation. She has worked very hard and I'm very proud of her."

The last time Mickelson started a US Open this well, 14 years ago at Pinehurst, he was awaiting a potential pager call that would have sent him walking off the course to attend Amanda's birth.

The call never came but Amanda did the next day, with Mickelson there after finishing second to the late Payne Stewart.

Mickelson tried to say his cross-country flight wasn't unusual but he had only done it before for corporate outings and he wasn't planning on doing it again before round two, saying, "I don't want to push it, no."

Mickelson caught a flight at 11 p.m. Merion time, landed two hours before arriving at the course 94 minutes before his 7:11 a.m. tee time. He also napped for an hour during a 3 1/2-hour storm interruption.

"I feel great," he said. "I'll just go back tonight and rest, and I'll have all day tomorrow to rest and it's fine. It shouldn't be a problem."

Mickelson opened with a bogey at the par-4 11th, used as a starting hole due to Merion's layout, but rallied with birdies at the par-3 13th, the first and seventh and a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-3 ninth to take the lead.

"It was as good a putt from 30 feet as I could have," Mickelson said. "The odds aren't good, but it rolled in and felt great."

At the ninth tee, Mickelson had admitted to caddie Jim Mackay he was fading.

"I told Bones on nine tee box that I kind of hit a wall. And he said, 'Well, let's just take a little mental break as we walk down there.' And I ended up making the putt. So being able to tune in and tune out was kind of nice the last hole or two.

"Lefty" began to fade before he began his birdie run on the first nine.

"I might have used just a little caffeine booster at the turn, just to keep me sharp," he said. "I just wanted to make sure I had enough energy."

Mickelson warned the course was only going to get tougher as dry weather arrives through the weekend.

"This was as easy as this golf course is going to play," he said. "We had the best opportunity to score low. And we are all struggling because it's such a penalizing golf course.

"It's a course that's withstood the test of time and it's challenging the best players in the world." -AFP

Storm could dampen thrill of Open’s top-three group

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 05:28 PM PDT

US OPEN organisers put Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott – the world's three top-ranked golfers – together on the first two days to create an electric atmosphere at Merion.

But a severe thunderstorm predicted to hit in the afternoon could bring more lightning than the US Golf Association (USGA) really wanted to see when world No. 1 Woods, McIlroy and Scott tee off.

A course that has already soaked up 6.5 inches of rain in four days has enjoyed two dry practice days but forecasters expect up to three inches of rain on the first day with severe conditions including a flash flood watch.

"There could be some really high winds with us, potentially damaging winds, even some hail," USGA executive director Mike Davis said. "It depends on really what hits us or how lucky or unlucky we are."

The course figures to be jammed with spectators watching the feature trio of 14-time Major champion Woods, seeking his first Major crown since the 2008 US Open, second-ranked McIlroy, the 2011 US Open winner, and third-ranked Adam Scott, the reigning Masters champion from Australia.

"Some energy and electricity, playing with him at any time," Scott said. "And given the hype around this grouping and being a Major, it's going to be an intense couple of days."

Sunny skies are expected the next three days but an already-saturated course figures to produce less of a challenge in the year's second Major championship with greens holding more approach shots, although dense rough remains a threat.

Mud clinging to golf balls in another worry with no lift, clean and place rules being used as players would normally have in PGA Tour events.

"We wouldn't be adopting that rule this week," USGA championship committee chairman Tom O'Toole said. "And if it was so bad, then the obvious response to that, or consequence, would be we probably wouldn't be playing."

But US veteran Steve Stricker warned that mud balls could decide a winner and 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell echoed that notion.

"Mud balls are a problem. I think they're unfair ... it literally can cost you shots," McDowell said.

"When it bakes and tops a little bit, there are going to be a lot of mud balls. I hope they make the right call. If it's picking up mud then I think we need to lift, clean and place just for a level playing field."

A field of 156 players from 21 nations will compete over the 6,996-yard layout where Bobby Jones completed a 1930 sweep of the US and British Opens and Amateurs and Ben Hogan won the 1950 US Open after a near-fatal auto accident.

Woods, chasing the all-time record 18 Majors won by Jack Nicklaus, seeks a fourth US Open crown after 2000, 2002 and 2008 titles to match the all-time record shared by Nicklaus, Hogan, Jones and Willie Anderson.

"I would like to obviously put my name there at the end of the week," Woods said. "But I've got to do my work and put myself there."

Woods, 37, has won four times this year, giving him 78 career PGA titles, four shy of the late Sam Snead's all-time record. He expects mud balls could be a factor by Sunday as well.

"We haven't dealt with teeing it up in a tournament yet with it raining and drying out for a couple of days and the mud balls appearing," Woods said. "That is going to be interesting, especially the longer holes."

Phil Mickelson, a five-time US Open runner-up longing to finally capture the only American Major that has eluded him, has a start after flying across the United States hours earlier to attend his daughter Amanda's eighth-grade graduation, missing two days of practice at Merion.

Amanda is the same child whose impending birth in 1999 had Mickelson's caddie carrying a pager at the US Open at Pinehurst in case his wife went into labour so he could leave and be with his wife. Mickelson finished second.

"I'll be ready on Thursday," Mickelson said.

Merion offers front-loaded birdie chances on a mix of long and short holes, including two par-five sin the first four holes and a 115-yard par-three 13th, but the final five formidable holes will have players clawing to avert bogeys or worse.

"You have to hang on for dear life those last five holes," McDowell said. "I can't think of a tougher finish that I've seen at a US Open."

"Once you get to 14 it's going to be tough to make birdies," Woods said. — AFP

Basket cases added as markers for Merion challenge

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 05:29 PM PDT

AT MERION Golf Club, host to this week's 113th US Open, there are the usual sand traps, water hazards and out of bounds and then there are the wicker baskets.

Unique to championship golf, the historic layout in the suburbs of Philadelphia does not use flag-topped sticks to mark where the holes are and instead employs small oval-shaped baskets made out of wicker.

Looking for all the world like the punching bags used by boxers, they are painted red on the front nine and orange on the back.

They are eye-catching and peculiar and add to the quirky charm of the East Course, which was opened in 1912, but helpful to golfers they most certainly are not.

Flag-topped pins have the advantage of flapping in the prevailing wind and lending valuable insight to what shot needs to be played.

No such help comes form the stubbornly stoic wicker baskets.

Lee Trevino, one of four players to have won the US Open at Merion's East Course, in 1971 when he defeated Jack Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff, recently summed up the problem they pose.

"I thought they were the most amazing thing," Trevino, now 73, said.

"They actually affect the way you play, because you always rely on the flag to tell you which way the wind is blowing.

"The wicker baskets tell you nothing."

How the baskets came to be used at Merion remains unclear with the club's website stating that the origin of the baskets "is a mystery to this day".

One theory has it that they were the brainchild of the course's designer, Hugh Irvine Wilson, a Scottish immigrant who returned to his homeland for inspiration and liked the look of shepherds' staffs while on his scouting trip.

More likely, though, was that at that time, such baskets were used at some British links courses to withstand seaside breezes and Wilson could have seen these, liked the look of them and brought the idea back with him to Philadelphia.

Whatever the origins, the baskets will confront a new generation of golfers this week as the last time the US Open was held at the course was in 1981 when David Graham became the first Australian to win the title.

Rory McIlroy, US Open champion at Congressional in 2011, encountered some modern-day technological problems right away when getting in some practice at the course last week.

He and his caddie found that the lasers they use to gauge distances to the holes for their yardage books would not register on the wicker baskets in the same way they did on flags. — AFP


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Give us more powers in asset declaration, says MACC chief Abu Kassim

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 08:18 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) wants the government to give it additional powers to compel anyone to declare their assets without the need to prove an element of corruption.

MACC chief Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohamed (pix) hoped the government would consider the proposal by the Special Committee on Corruption for an amendment to Section 36 of the MACC Act 2009, that would provide such authority to the commission.

Currently the commission does not have any legal provision to compel a person to declare his or her assets without any investigation on a corruption allegation against the person, he said at an MACC management-level dialogue with more than 30 editors representing various media agencies at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy, here.

"The initiative, if implemented, would impact positively on the government and would enhance the people's confidence in the MACC," he said, adding that the recommendation had been made in the committee's annual report in 2011.

The committee, comprising MPs from the government and opposition is one of five special panels set up in January 2009 as a check and balance mechanism on the MACC.

The four other panels are the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, the Complaints Committee, the Operations Review Panel, and the Corruption Consultation and Prevention Panel.

Abu Kassim said the Special Committee on Corruption would also propose to the government to find the best mechanism, be it from the legal or procedural aspect, to resolve the 'legally right morally wrong' issue.

In this regard, he said the MACC needed the overall support of all parties, besides new and more effective provisions to combat corruption in the country.

Abu Kassim said without such overall support and more effective legal provisions, the fight against corruption would not have the far-reaching impact expected by the people.

"We must be in it together, regardless of political ideology, because corruption is a crime. If the law is insufficient we must make amendments, we must support," he said. - Bernama.

Woman caught right in the middle of the storm

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 08:09 AM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: A woman watched as several makeshift stalls came flying in her direction, blown by a massive storm at Batu Ferringhi on Thursday.

It left her with little time to decide how to get out of the dangerous situation.

Here is Mislina Mustaffa's account of the few moments when terror struck.

"Today the Homeless by Choice Project Protest Camp on the beach is 4 months; and an hour ago, we've been hit by big tornado, the strongest wind ever and heavy downfall.

"As I was struggling to save whatever I can, 3 out of 6 yellow stalls were driven hard by the wind at high speed and I was stuck in the middle with Atan in my arms, Koffi and Rowti at my side.

"I was startled and for a moment I looked at a small drain in the middle of the car park and thought to myself, I should jump inside; for the stalls were moving towards my direction.

"As I wanted to run towards the drain, all the 3 stalls collided and toppled on top of each other right on top of that very drain.

"Nobody was at the beach. Mar In was already at the cafe. Only Khalid, our Egyptian squatter far away at the other end of the beach.

"Just before the storm, we had late lunch and just finished drinking tea and he went off to fetch some water to wash the dishes.

"In the heavy rain, I saw his hands waving and pointing towards a direction that I can run safely to.

"The downfall lasted only for 20 minutes but we've lost our Yellow Settlement of Homeless by Choice, including our lunch of rice, potato and salad that we kept for dinner; and my sleeping bag; and Patrick my old red stuffed dog that I used as my pillow.

" But the bonfire is still going on strong; and a pot of tea is boiling on top of it.

"I took it as a sign from nature that although I've been broken enough with a lot of other happenings here; there is still hope to continue this resistance of mine."

Related story:

Storm blows giant pole off roof top, causes gridlock on major roads in Penang

Northern states can expect afternoon storms till next week

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 08:39 AM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: The northern states can expect thunderstorms in the afternoon until Monday.

The Meteorological Department's forecast for the coming days is one of heavy rains and strong winds to fall over the northern states.

However, rain is most likely to occur only in the afternoon.

The possibility of thunderstorms is due to the combination of rain and strong wind due the southwest monsoon, according to the department.

The public are advised to be careful and stay away from coastal activities.

Related story:

Storm blows giant pole off roof top, causes gridlock on major roads in Penang


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Trailer shows Bilbo faces Smaug in the second chapter of 'The Hobbit'

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 12:03 AM PDT

A trailer has been revealed for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.

Scheduled for cinema release next December, Peter Jackson's movie follows Bilbo Baggins's epic and unexpected adventure through Middle-earth to help thirteen dwarves reclaim Erebor, which is occupied by Smaug, a terrible dragon.

The trailer reveals several major parts of the original book by J.R.R. Tolkien, giving a peek at the elf-inhabited Black Forest and the human village of Lake-town.

Various new characters make an appearance in the two-minute trailer, including Thranduil and Bard the Bowman, played by Lee Pace and Luke Evans.

Orlando Bloom is also back as Legolas, although the character does not feature in the book The Hobbit, nor does elf Tauriel (played by Evangeline Lilly), a character created for the movie.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug will release in December. The third and last chapter, The Hobbit: There And Back Again, featuring The Battle of Five Armies, will be released in late 2014.


Carey Mulligan says no to Hillary Clinton biopic

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 11:52 PM PDT

British actress, Carey Mulligan turned down the leading role in the movie Rodham, a biopic about Hillary Clinton, says The Hollywood Reporter.

The producers have resumed their search, which shouldn't be too hard, given that Scarlett Johansson, Amanda Seyfried, Emma Stone and Reese Witherspoon had all been mentioned as possibilities.

Directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now), Rodham will tell the story of Hillary Clinton as a promising Democrat called to take part in the jury for Richard Nixon's impeachment in 1974.

The script by Young Il Kim will also depict how the young woman put her own career aside to support her husband, Bill Clinton.

Rodham is expected for 2016 -- the year when Hillary Clinton could be after the job of US President.


Ashton Kutcher's 'Jobs' opens in August

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 11:40 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES ( - Open Road Films will give Jobs, which stars Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, a wide release on August 16, TheWrap has learned.

Originally scheduled for release on April 19, Jobs will now open against Universal's Kick-Ass 2, Relativity's Paranoia and the Weinstein Company's historical drama The Butler. Also opening in limited release that day are four fellow Sundance entries -- IFC's Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Magnolia's Prince Avalanche, Sony Classics' Austenland and Radius-TWC's documentary Cutie And The Boxer.

Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) directed Jobs, which follows the co-founder of Apple from his early years as a wayward hippie to eventually becoming one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of our time.

Matt Whiteley wrote the film, which co-stars Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak, as well as James Woods, Matthew Modine, Dermot Mulroney, Lukas Haas and Ahna O'Reilly.

Five Star Institute's Mark Hulme financed and produced the movie, which Open Road acquired in a service release deal prior to this year's Sundance Film Festival, where "Jobs" was the closing night film. Both sides decided to wait and create proper buzz before releasing Jobs rather than rush the movie out so soon after Sundance.

By opening after most summer blockbusters (Sony's Elysium is the last major title on August 9) rather than mid-April, Jobs now stands a better chance to succeed and distinguish itself in the marketplace.


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Total turf replacement at Dataran Merdeka

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 05:13 AM PDT

DATARAN Merdeka field is all set for a RM3.9mil facelift with a new turf made of hybrid grass species.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) spokesman said the third and final phase of the square's upgrading initiative would include a total replacement of the field with new earth fill that has adequate nutrient content underlain with sand and aggregate fill to improve drainage system. A new irrigation system (sprinkler system) will also be installed. This is needed because the site is a popular venue for events.

"The new turf will have a relatively high-wear tolerance.

"The last turfing was done in 1989. The exhausted soil that has been used from then till now has attained an unhealthy level of micronutrients and pH level. It is not conducive for the present grass.

"The soil profile is found to be inconsistent throughout the field, which generally shows signs of too much compaction of soil and no sign of functioning of the existing subsoil drainage system.

"The overall irrigation system is not functioning too," he said, adding that too many types of wild grass species were also growing on the field.

DBKL confirmed that turfing work is scheduled to start on July 1, and is expected to be completed in April next year. No field bookings are allowed during that period.

The tender was awarded to RS Greenmaster (M) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the RS Group.

Its research and development director R. Subramaniam said the field would be constructed using the Greenmaster Applied Turf (GAT) technology.

"Its technology centres on a range of organic derivatives that are blended with fine wash river sand, biofiber and biosorb on improving or modifying root zone condition.

"The sand base field offers several key advantages that cannot be provided by native soil.

"It enables high-water permeability, which allows for internal rapid surface water removal. Properly designed and installed sand-base root zone will protect against a field's worst enemy, which is compaction," he said.

Sand-base fields also have disadvantages in terms of surface firmness or strength, referring to the ability of a sand layer to resist surface forces such as foot and equipment traffic.

"Sand layers constructed from any size particles tend to lack firmness, and this can be a special problem when the turf becomes thin or non-existent.

From a field standpoint, footing and traction can quickly deteriorate under this condition. Sand also lacks water-holding capacity.

"However, inclusion of amendments such as organic matter or inorganic matter will improve their performance as a growing medium or a playing surface.

"Today, amended sand fields are being used more commonly. When properly designed and installed, they can offer dramatically improved playability," said Subramaniam

Project consultant Sewajar Maju CSG Engineers principal engineer Y. H. Lee said amendments might take place during the returfing work should there be any site constraint.

"Currently, we do not know the exact condition of what lies beneath the field as the records of the field plan cannot be traced.

"Only the layers above the concrete slab will be dug up and replaced.

With the new turfing technology complemented by proper maintenance, we can guarantee zero pooling during rain.

"The water will seep through and channel into discharge points around the field that connects to an existing drain," he said.

The first two phases costing RM4.5mil are complete. The highlights include three new fountains and a mural.

One fountain has been built at the podium area of the square, facing the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the main road Jalan Raja.

Two more fountains are identically designed and are mirror images of each other. These have been built at the podium area of the square, facing the main field.

The mural incorporates pictures of all past and present prime ministers, made out of glass mosaic specially cut and arranged by a specialist.

Drains, walkpaths, planters box, podium floor on the main flag pole and the road in front of Sultan Abdul Samad Building, among others, were also upgraded.

Be a mobber

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 05:13 AM PDT

Thursday June 13, 2013

CHECK out these highlights from Download the Metro Online Broadcast (MOB) app via MOBiPhoneApp (iOS) and Also, visit to write and share your stories.

Discovering Kampar by bike

The first Kampar Majesty Ride 2013 got off to a promising start when 139 cyclists from all round Malaysia took part in the 55km ride at the former tin mining town.

Run for charity

Undergraduate students of Unitar International University recently organised a 6km Unitar Costume Charity Run 2013 for the first time at their new campus in Kelana Jaya.

Selangor award for sports men and sportswo men

Swimmer Khoo Cai Lin and Petanque player Mohamad Nuzul Azwan Ahmad Termizi were named the 2012 Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year respectively.


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Visitors have a merry good time at carnival in Kuantan

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 02:54 AM PDT

KUANTAN: Tens of thousands of people flocked to the MPK2 field here over the weekend for the Jom Heboh carnival, held for the 11th consecutive year.

The stop in Kuantan was the fourth in the country after the previous legs in Pulau Warisan, Kuala Terengganu; Angsana, Johor Baru and Presint 2, Putrajaya.

Among the latest attractions this year were Selera@Jom Heboh featuring food demonstrations by celebrity chefs and competitions; Wow Booth selling an assortment of exclusive souvenirs; Bananana! Land with booths for children such as Birthday Bash, B-Insta Snap, B-Model, Bananana! Squad Studio, Out of the Box and Little Kitchen while Cereka, Studio 3 and Kota Ilmu provide audience with updates on latest drama series, documentaries and religious programmes, as well as lucky draws and a chance to meet up with TV personalities.

In addition, there were also one stop service counters such as Pos Malaysia, telecommunication firms and state agencies to facilitate the people in carrying out transactions.

Many firms selling food stuff, clothings, health products, souvenirs, cosmetics, toys and other accessories were doing brisk business due to the high volume of visitors.

Some of the innovative staff went to the extent of dressing up with colourful hairdo and costumes to attract crowd to their booths to boost sales.

Despite the sweltering heat and hot weather, there was no letting up as the crowd kept increasing by the hour right up to the highlight of the evening - a concert featuring Estranged, The Pilgrims, Azlan & The Typewriter and Drama Band.

Other TV personalities and artistes who made appearances include Ahmad Fedtri Yahya, Hazlin Hussain, Irin Putri Azmi, Maria Tunku Sabri, Adam Shah, Leez Rosli, Nur Risteena, Jay Iswazir, Azlee Khairi, Nadia Aqilah, Chef Zaidah and Lya Uzir.

Earlier, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob also lend his support to the programme by paying a visit to the secretariat office.

Several donation boxes were also set up to receive public donations for the Lahad Datu Fund.

Prior to the carnival, a gotong-royong activity was held to refurbish a community hall in Tanjung Lumpur.

The carnival met its objective in bringing together people from all walks of life to partake in leisure and recreational activities under one roof.

The next stop of the carnival will be in Kelantan, Sabah, Sarawak and Penang before ending in Kuala Lumpur.

Pahang JPJ to target illegal motorcyclists during operations

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 02:53 AM PDT

TEMERLOH: Motorcyclists and their pillion riders will be top on the list of vehicles targeted for inspection by Pahang Road Transport Department (JPJ) during its integrated operations this year.

State JPJ director Datuk Zakaria Man said efforts were underway to detect and reduce the number of illegal motorcyclists on the road.

"Based on statistics, accidents involving motorcyclists and their pillion riders resulted in high number of fatalities and serious injuries.

"As such, we only want motorcyclists who are qualified and possess all the relevant requirements to be on the road," he said after supervising an integrated operation here recently.

Zakaria said presently, quite a number of the motorcyclists were riding without valid licence or possess expired licence or without road tax.

He said by reducing their presence on the road, it would cut down accidents and fatalities, in addition to lessening the risk posed on other road-users.

On the operation, he said a total of 40 enforcement officers from JPJ, police, Environment Department and National Anti-Drugs Agency participated to inspect about 300 vehicles.

"We issued 62 summonses for various offences including expired road tax discs and driving licence as well as excessive modifications.

"Such integrated operations would be conducted from time to time to nab offenders who flout the laws," he said, adding that road-users should ensure that they had all the proper documentations and their vehicles were road-worthy.

Zakaria said the department would also work closely with other agencies to nab motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Johor government raising funds to buy back land in Senibong

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 01:45 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The state government is raising RM23mil through its Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor Sdn Bhd (KPRJ) to buy back 14.16ha of land in the Senibong area to fulfill its promise of issuing land titles to the villagers.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said buying the land back from Tebrau Teguh Bhd would allow the state government to fulfill the promise made by his predecessor Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

"Tebrau Teguh is made aware that the villagers have sent an application to the state government to purchase the land before this was bought over by the company from KPRJ.

"We have informed Tebrau Teguh not to carry out any development project within the area or sell the land to another party before the issue is resolved," he told reporters after opening the Kampung Senibong Warisan Cooperative annual general meeting in Permas here recently.

The state government, he said, was currently reviewing the application made by the villagers.

Besides Kampung Senibong, other villages still awaiting their land titles were Rumah Plentong 10, Kampung Plentong and Seri Bahagia, he said.

Mohamed Khaled said such actions by the state government did not mean that it was against development, adding that developers must ensure that local residents were not neglected, especially over land matters.

On another matter, he urged cooperatives in the state to grab the opportunities afforded by the economic boom in Johor by venturing into new sectors, including tourism.

Senibong, which was well known for its seafood delicacies, should set up a homestay, pointed out Mohamed Khaled.

"This will help the cooperatives to find new financial resources as well as attract more people, especially foreign tourists," he said.


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