Selasa, 25 Jun 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Paul Giamatti heads to Downton Abbey

Posted: 26 Jun 2013 03:26 AM PDT

Carson better stock up on the Pinot Noir: Sideways star Paul Giamatti (pic) will be a guest star on Downton Abbey in its upcoming fourth season, it was announced Monday.

According to a news release from Carnival Films, Masterpiece and PBS, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor, perhaps best known for his role as a schlumpy wine snob in Alexander Payne's Oscar-winning film, will star as Harold, Cora's "maverick, playboy brother" in the season finale.

It's the latest surprising casting news for the costume drama, which will look quite different when it returns to TV in the United States on Jan 14 next year.

Following the departure of series regulars Dan Stevens, Jessica Brown Findlay and Siobhan Finneran, Downton Abbey will welcome a crop of new cast members that includes Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Gary Carr.

Giamatti will appear alongside Shirley MacLaine, also slated to return in Season Four following a brief guest role in Season Three.

"We're excited that Paul Giamatti will be joining us on Downton to play Cora's brother Harold, the rather free-spirited uncle to Mary and Edith," said Carnival Films' managing director Gareth Neame.

"We can't wait to see him work alongside Shirley MacLaine, who are both sure to upset the Granthams' apple cart in this year's finale."

Giamatti is no stranger to period drama, having won an Emmy for playing the title role in the acclaimed HBO miniseries John Adams. He also starred as comic book artist Harvey Pekar in American Splendor and, more recently, in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis. – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Imagine living in a world without electricity

Posted: 26 Jun 2013 03:28 AM PDT

There's nothing revolutionary about Revolution's premise but its stunning visuals and a compelling cast make all the difference.

SOMETIMES, I wish the world would just come to an end already so we don't have to endure more end-of-the-world themed flicks. TV land has been invaded with zombies and extraterrestrials with shows like The Walking Dead and Falling Skies respectively, and let's not forget Discovery Channel's reality series, The Colony, where 10 contestants brave through a simulated post-apocalyptic environment.

To be fair, in Revolution, the world didn't come to an end or get destroyed or get infested with zombies and aliens. It simply has no electricity (Okay, the world might as well come to an end). Conveniently called the "Blackout", the power goes out one night in every corner of the world, like a global short circuit.

Only the power never came back on.

The sci-fi drama takes place 15 years after the Blackout. Families have fled the city and were driven into the wild. Governments fell and militias rose. In the pilot, the show zeroes in on Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee) and his family who live in a rural farming village. He gets an unwelcomed visit from Major Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito), commander of the Monroe Militia, who suspects that Ben knows something about the Blackout.

The meeting ends in a skirmish where Ben is killed, but not before handing his neighbour, Aaron Pittman (Zak Orth), a mysterious pendant and telling his daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) to find her uncle Miles (Billy Burke). In the scuffle, Ben's son Danny (Graham Rogers) is also taken captive. From here on, Charlie, Aaron and Ben's girlfriend, Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) embark on a journey to save their loved ones, uncover the truth about the Blackout and in doing so, attempt to turn the lights back on.

As mentioned earlier, given our post-apocalypse-saturated media landscape, I approached the series hesitantly. Will Revolution bring anything new to the table? As it turns out, my main criticism of the show's premise isn't so much the post-apocalypse setting but its potential for longevity. Every episode chronicles the Mathesons' adventures, and with 20 episodes to cover, it feels like creator Eric Kripke is deliberately stretching out the storyline.

I feel agitated with the introduction of numerous characters that neither help nor serve as interesting obstacles in the main characters' journey to achieve their goal. For example, the kind-hearted Charlie and Aaron feel the need to save everyone who comes their way! At times, the storyline feels like it is headed nowhere and writers are just making things up as they go along. But having said that, if viewers can hang on long enough, the show gets it together in the last five episodes and delivers a mind-blowing finale.

Flashbacks make up a big part of Revolution's format, as it is with the trend in TV shows these days (think Psych, Once Upon A Time). What I enjoy most about flashback scenes is seeing the juxtaposition of the characters pre- and post-Blackout. For instance, in next week's episode, viewers will learn more about the tough Major Neville, who was anything but tough before the Blackout. Then there's Miles who is helping Charlie with her cause to make up for his violent ways in the past (in episode two, it was revealed he co-founded the tyrannic Monroe Republic, which is policing certain parts of the US after the Blackout). These flashbacks are an examination of the human heart and what it is capable of in times of trouble.

But the best thing about Revolution has got to be its cast. Esposito (Breaking Bad) and David Lyons (Safe Haven) give hair-raising performances as villains Major Neville and president of Monroe Republic, Bass Monroe respectively. Esposito, in particular, stands out in this week's episode. After the roof collapses on his character, Major Neville, he convincingly manipulates Danny (who is trying to run away from him!) to save him. Another great performance is by Burke (Twilight) who plays the cool, suave Miles who can take down the bad guys in his sleep. I just wished he showered more often, though.

Disaster flicks always make for stunning visuals, and Revolution holds nothing back. From dilapidated iconic buildings to tattered memorabilias from the yesteryears, the set looked real and effortless. But my heart always skips a beat when I see scenes on the night of the Blackout. A sweeping view of cars piling up for miles and miles on the highway and skylines all around the world turning dark strike me as strangely beautiful. Perhaps, it's the appeal of seeing what the modern world would look like without power.

Ultimately, Revolution works because it is a sci-fi series that everyone can relate to. The concept isn't far-fetched, it's simple: imagine living in a world without electricity. It would flip a switch in all of us.

> Catch Revolution every Wednesday at 9.50pm on Fox (Astro Ch 710 / HD 726).


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Mexico rescues 52 migrants kidnapped near U.S. border

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 07:32 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican security forces on Tuesday rescued 52 kidnapped migrants, mostly Guatemalans, who were being held in a house in the violent state of Tamaulipas near the U.S. border.

The migrants had been held for several days in a house in the city of Reynosa, where they were found by a group of federal and state police, officials said.

The group was made up of 48 men from Guatemala, two from El Salvador and two more from Mexico, a press release from the state government said.

Mexico's army earlier this month rescued 165 migrants kidnapped by a gunman in the same state, less than a mile (1.5 km) from the U.S. border.

It was the biggest single discovery of its kind during a bloody drug war that has killed an estimated 75,000 people since 2006. Mexican cartels have moved into human smuggling in recent years, kidnapping migrants and extorting money from them or forcing the to carry drugs across the border.

(Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Mexico arrests ex-governor accused of embezzlement

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 07:00 PM PDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico on Tuesday arrested former state governor Andres Granier, who has been accused of embezzling millions of pesos of public money in a scandal that will test the new president's promise to crack down on corruption.

Granier, who was governor of Mexico's southern Tabasco state until his term ended in December and is a member of President Enrique Pena Nieto's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was released from a Mexico City hospital into the custody of state prosecutors, said a legal source with knowledge of the situation.

"He was arrested on charges of money laundering and tax evasion," the source said. He will be brought before a judge in the next few hours to make a preliminary statement, the source added.

The former governor's lawyer, Eduardo Luengo, confirmed his arrest in a conversation with a local radio station.

A state judge in Tabasco had ordered Granier's detention on June 14 after police found 88.5 million Mexican pesos ($6.6 million) in an office used by his former finance minister.

But Granier avoided questioning after he was hospitalized that same day, complaining of heart problems.

Granier has denied accusations his administration embezzled at least 1.9 billion pesos of public funds in 2011 and 2012.

The PRI, which ruled Mexico for much of last century, was mired in accusations of corruption by the time it was voted out of office in 2000, but Pena Nieto has promised a break with the past.

The Granier case provides a test of his commitment to root out corruption and its handling could have implications for the fate of the pact he has forged with the country's two opposition parties to implement major reforms.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, Luc Cohen and Miguel Angel Gutierrez)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Putin rules out handing Snowden over to United States

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 06:28 PM PDT

MOSCOW/NAANTALI, Finland (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed on Tuesday a former U.S. spy agency contractor sought by the United States was in the transit area of a Moscow airport but ruled out handing him to Washington, dismissing U.S. criticisms as "ravings and rubbish".

An exterior view shows Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

An exterior view shows Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

In his first public comments since Edward Snowden flew in on Sunday, Putin appeared to make light of the diplomatic uproar over the fugitive, whose flight from U.S. authorities is becoming a growing embarrassment for President Barack Obama. Asked by a journalist about the affair, he smiled fleetingly.

"I myself would prefer not to deal with these issues. It's like shearing a piglet: there's a lot of squealing, but there's little wool," Putin told a news conference in Finland.

Snowden, who worked as a systems administrator at a U.S. National Security Agency facility in Hawaii, is facing espionage charges from the United States after leaking details about secret U.S. surveillance programs to the news media.

Two U.S. national security sources said intelligence agencies have detected that members of targeted militant organizations, including both Sunni and Shi'ite Islamist groups, have begun altering communications patterns, believed to be in response to the leaks on eavesdropping programs.

NSA Director Keith Alexander sought to reassure his employees that the outcry over surveillance programs leaked by Snowden was not directed at them and that agency leaders would "take the heat.

Putin's refusal to hand back Snowden risked deepening a rift with the United States that has also drawn in China and threatens relations between countries that may be essential in settling global conflicts including the Syrian war.

Republican lawmakers in Washington seized on the Snowden saga to portray Obama as an ineffective foreign leader.

Washington has gone to great lengths to try to ensure that Snowden has nowhere to go to seek refuge. But Putin said Russia had no extradition treaty with the United States and suggested that Moscow would expel Snowden only if he were a criminal.

"He has not crossed the state's border, and therefore does not need a visa. And any accusations against Russia (of aiding him) are ravings and rubbish," Putin said in an appearance with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

Shortly after Putin's comments, the White House said Moscow had a "clear legal basis" to expel Snowden because of his revoked passport and the outstanding charges against him.

"Accordingly, we are asking the Russian government to take action to expel Mr. Snowden without delay and to build upon the strong law enforcement cooperation we have had, particularly since the Boston Marathon bombing," said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

She said the United States agreed with Putin's comment in Finland that it did not want the incident to negatively affect U.S.-Russia relations, but members of the U.S. Congress denounced Putin's stance and said it would have an impact.

"It should cause a profound reevaluation on our relationship with Russia and with Vladimir Putin, something that a lot of us have been saying for a long time," said Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential contender.

Hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had cautiously questioned the Russian approach.

"It is accurate there is not an extradition treaty between Russia and the United States, but there are standards of behaviour between sovereign nations," Kerry said, in Jeddah.

Republican critics of the president said the Snowden furore was a sign of Obama's weakness and declining international stature, and Russia was taking advantage of the United States.

"They know that he's weak. They know that he's so fearful about getting involved in balance-of-power foreign affairs and they're playing on it, and they're enjoying it very, very much," said Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Snowden has applied for asylum in Ecuador but Quito is still considering his application and the United States is trying to persuade the governments of countries where he might go to hand him over. His plans remain unclear.

Ricardo Patino, Ecuador's foreign minister, said during a visit to Vietnam that he had asked U.S. authorities to provide written communication to analyse alongside Snowden's request.


Putin said the 30-year-old Snowden was in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and, not having gone through passport control, was free to leave.

"The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it would be for us and for himself," Putin said.

Russian law requires travellers who spend more than 24 hours in the airport's transit area - as Snowden has done - to get a transit visa. It was unclear whether Snowden had sought or received a transit visa.

There has been speculation in the Russian media that Snowden may be talking to the FSB, the Russian security service, and could be involved in a prisoner swap. Putin said Russian security agencies "never worked with ... Snowden and are not working with him today".

The U.S. State Department said diplomats and Justice Department officials were talking to Russia, suggesting they sought a deal to secure his return to face espionage charges.

Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday, and the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group said he was headed for Ecuador and is travelling on a refugee document of passage provided by Ecuador.

Journalists camped out at the airport have not spotted him inside, or leaving, the transit area. He has not registered at a hotel in the transit zone, hotel sources say.

U.S. officials admonished Beijing and Moscow on Monday for allowing Snowden to escape their clutches but the United States' partners on the U.N. Security Council, already at odds with Washington over the conflict in Syria, hit back.

"The United States' criticism of China's central government is baseless. China absolutely cannot accept it," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing, also dismissing U.S. criticism of Hong Kong, a Chinese territory, for letting Snowden leave.


Putin also praised WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who himself is a fugitive from U.S. justice, and questioned whether he or Snowden should be treated as criminals.

"Ask yourself: should such people be handed over to be imprisoned or not?" said Putin, who last week was smarting at being isolated over Syria at a summit of the G8 industrial powers and sees Washington as an overzealous global policeman.

Advisers to Assange declined to comment on the situation.

Fallout from a protracted wrangle over Snowden could be far-reaching, as Russia, the United States and China hold veto powers at the U.N. Security Council and their broad agreement could be vital to any settlement in Syria.

International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he was pessimistic an international conference on Syria could take place in July as hoped and urged Russia and the United States to help contain a conflict which has killed almost 100,000 people.

Talks between the United States and Russia to set up a Syrian peace conference produced no deal on Tuesday, with the powers on either side of the two-year civil war failing to agree when it should be held or who would be invited.

(Additional reporting Gabriela Baczynska and Lidia Kelly in Moscow, Alexandra Valencia in Quito, Mark Felsenthal, Paul Eckert, Rachelle Younglai, Laura MacInnis, Mark Hosenball and Patricia Zengerle in Washington.; Writing by Timothy Heritage and John Whitesides.; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Christopher Wilson)

Related Stories:
Republicans blast Obama over Snowden as case turns partisan

Australian spy bosses brief govt on possible Asian fallout over Snowden - report
U.S. taps Kerry's deputy as point man with Russia on Snowden
NSA director gives pep talk to employees
Russia spies may be chatting with 'tasty morsel' Snowden

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Affin Research maintains "Buy" on Tropicana

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 06:59 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday June 26, 2013 MYT 10:00:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Research is maintaining its "Buy" call on Tropicana Corporation Bhd with a target price of RM2.50 due to its high project concentration in the high-rise and integrated segment.

It said Tropicana has a sizeable gross development value of RM70bil which are spread across key property hotspots where Klang Valley is valued at RM34.5bil, Iskandar Malaysia RM25.2bil and Penang at RM10.2bil.

"Tropicana plans to launch RM3bil worth of new properties in 2013, a 250% jump from RM1.2bil in 2012.

"We view Tropicana's RM3bil property launches pipeline favourably and expect the group to achieve a strong property sales of RM2.1bil for 2013, up 113% on-year, slightly ahead of management's target of RM2bil," it said.

It said Tropicana is also including include a de-gearing exercise via the disposal of land parcels and non-core investment assets, institutionalisation of shareholders base and establishment of an informal policy to payout 40% of earnings.


Midf Research maintains its "Buy" call on Glomac

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 06:28 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday June 26, 2013 MYT 9:28:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Midf Equities Research is maintaining its "Buy" call on Glomac Bhd with a target price of RM1.46 due to its record sales, core developments and the unofficial dividend payout ratio of 40%.

It said Glomac posted record earnings of RM101.5mil in its financial year 2013, where its earnings grew 2.1% on-year from lower minority interest which was RM6.1mil from RM34.4mil in 2012.

"Lower minority interest was mainly due to the completion of Glomac Tower. Glomac Tower was a 51% owned development which was completed in financial year 2012," it said.

It added Glomac sales increased by 21% on-year to RM802mil in 2013 due to the consistent sales from township developments, successful launch of new flagship development and strong take up rate of strategically located mixed developments.

"Township projects like Saujana Rawang and Bandar Saujana Utama in Sungai Buloh collectively contributed RM200mil-RM300mil for each of the past three financial years. Maiden launch of its flagship development, Lakeside Residence had generated strong interest with a take up rate of 94% for the RM276mil worth of properties," it said.

Midf said Glomac has also set new records with total sales of RM802mil, unbilled sales of RM888mil as at end financial year 2013, and full year dividend of 6.5sen which is a 44% payout.

"Glomac plans to launch RM1.3bil worth of developments in financial year 2014 in order to achieve 10%-12% growth in sales," it said.


Trading ideas: Perisai, IHH Healthcare, Mah Sing

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 05:45 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday June 26, 2013 MYT 8:45:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Hwang DBS Vickers Research (HDBSVR) expects Perisai Petroleum, IHH Healthcare and Mah Sing to attract trading interest on Wednesday as the market stages a technical rebound.

The research house said Perisai Petroleum is targeting a 30% growth in profit for the next three years while IHH Healthcare aims to grow its revenue by strong double-digits this year.

As for Mah Sing, the property developer indicated that it was on track to achieve its RM3bil sales projection for 2013.

On the market outlook, HDBSVR said a technical rebound was on the cards for the Malaysian equities.

"The benchmark FBM KLCI could recoup parts of its cumulative loss of 45.4 points or 2.6% (suffered over the last five successive days) as it makes its way towards the immediate support-turned-resistance line of 1,750 ahead.

"Essentially, Asian equities may track an overnight rise on Wall Street. Leading US bellwethers rose between 0.7% and 0.9% at the closing bell on hopes that its economic recovery remains on track," it said.



The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Djokovic, Serena cruise, Robson gives Brits boost

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 04:35 PM PDT

LONDON: Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams cruised into the Wimbledon second round on Tuesday as the All England Club recovered from the shockwaves of Rafael Nadal's exit 24 hours earlier.

World number one Djokovic, the 2011 champion, beat Germany's Florian Mayer 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, in the Serb's first grass-court outing of the season and his first match since his shattering five-set semi-final loss to Nadal at the French Open.

"It was a big pleasure to play in front of a packed Centre Court against a tricky rival like Mayer. He's got a great variety of shots and his game is well-suited to grass," said Djokovic, who next faces Bobby Reynolds of the United States.

Defending champion Williams, chasing a sixth Wimbledon title and 17th major, racked-up her 32nd successive win, cruising to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Luxembourg's Mandy Minella.

Her 57-minute romp on Centre Court briefly deflected attention away from the storm surrounding her controversial comments on a US high school rape case and the fall-out from her criticism of Maria Sharapova's love life.

The 31-year-old took out her frustrations on the hapless Minella, the world number 92 who has never defeated a top-30 player let alone one of Williams's calibre whose French Open title three weeks ago took her majors haul to 16.

Victory was also her 75th in her last 78 matches, a run that stretches back to her shock first round departure at Roland Garros in 2012, the worst Grand Slam exit of her career.

Tuesday's 32nd successive win took her to within just three of the record set by older sister Venus in 2000.

"I never think about the run, I just treat every match like a new one," said Williams.

"It was special coming out as defending champion. I played great and I have some great memories."

Williams did not concede a single point on her serve in the first set and finished the match with 25 winners to Minella's five.

She goes on to face French qualifier Caroline Garcia, who she beat in the second round in Paris, for a place in the last 32.

Russia's Maria Kirilenko, who made the quarter-finals last year, slumped to a first round exit at the hands of Britain's world number 38, Laura Robson, who claimed a 6-3, 6-4 win.

"That was a big one for me just because of all the nerves and playing in front of your home crowd at Wimbledon," said Robson, a former junior champion.

On a bad day for Russians, 21st seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova slumped to a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova who made the semi-finals in 2010.

Russian 13th seed Nadia Petrova went out 6-3, 6-2 to Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Kimiko Date-Krumm, just three months shy of her 43rd birthday, made the second round with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Carina Witthoeft, an 18-year-old German qualifier, who was just four when the Japanese star made her Wimbledon debut in 1989.

"I'm taking care of my body, because of course the most difficult thing is recovery. I need more training. But if I do too much I feel tired," said Date-Krumm, a semi-finalist in 1996.

"I like Chinese tea. Sometimes Japanese tea. I drink a lot. I have a tea pot I always I carry. It's here with me now."

Li Na, the Chinese sixth seed, enjoyed a comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Dutchwoman Michaella Krajicek.

The 31-year-old former French Open champion next faces Romania's Simona Halep.

"It was a pretty good start to Wimbledon. Because the last two years I didn't do well on the grass court," said Li, twice a quarter-finalist.

"I have to get used to playing on the grass. I was feeling pretty happy."

Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska enjoyed a 6-1, 6-1 win over Austrian qualifier Yvonne Meusberger.

Radwanska, the runner-up to Williams last year, next faces Mathilde Johansson of France.

In the men's first round, Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer beat Argentina's Martn Alund 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Bulgarian 29th seed Grigor Dimitrov, the man at the centre of the Williams-Sharapova spat, cruised past Italy's Simone Bolelli, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.

Argentinian eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro, who missed the French Open through illness, saw off Spain's Albert Ramos 6-2, 7-5, 6-1.

Australia's Bernard Tomic put out American 21st seed Sam Querrey, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 2-6, 6-3.

Tomic, a quarter-finalist in 2011, was playing without his controversial father in the crowd.

John Tomic, who is facing a criminal charge in Spain for assaulting his son's hitting partner, has been banned from the club by Wimbledon authorities. -AFP

Unknown Darcis basks in the sun after sinking teeth into Nadal

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 04:25 PM PDT

STEVE Darcis basked in his nickname of 'Shark' as he sunk his Belgian teeth into Rafael Nadal on Monday, but his reaction to discovering who he was playing at Wimbledon was not so intimidating.

"S***!," said the world No. 135 when asked what his initial thoughts were when he had been drawn to face the 2008 and 2010 champion in the first round.

It was a reasonable reaction for a 29-year-old who has never got beyond the second round at the All England Club in his career and arrived in London having won just two matches on the Tour all year.

On the other side of the net was Nadal, fresh from a record eighth French Open title, having won 43 of 45 matches and seven titles since his return from a seven-month injury lay-off in February.

But Darcis, buoyed by having defeated top 10 player Tomas Berdych on the Wimbledon grass at the Olympics, knew he had a chance if he could exploit the grasscourt uncertainty caused by Nadal's lack of action on the surface this year.

Darcis's nickname comes from having a tattoo of shark on his right shoulder.

"Why? Because my astrology sign is fish. I love sharks. It's like an S, like Steve. So I did it like few years ago, and that's why," he explained.

On his disappointing year, he added: "I had many injuries and many problems, like private. Really, I couldn't play for two, three months. I was playing really bad.

"I was also a little bit unlucky. Two times I lost with match points two weeks in a row."

Darcis, with career titles at Amersfoort in 2007 and Memphis the following year, now faces the less attractive prospect of taking on Poland's Lukasz Kubot for a place in the third round which would equal his best performance at a major.

"This is my biggest win, so I have to be happy," said Darcis.

"I heard also this is the first time Nadal lost in the first round of a Grand Slam, so it's even tougher I think for him.

"Maybe he was not in the best shape ever. Maybe he didn't play his best match.

"But I have to be proud of me, I think.

"I played a great match and I fight from the beginning till the end, and I played unbelievable tennis." — AFP

Serena lets her racquet talk by racking up 32nd successive win

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 05:02 PM PDT

LONDON: Five-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams shrugged off her bitter rift with Maria Sharapova to rack up her 32nd successive win with a 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Luxembourg's Mandy Minella in the first round yesterday.

World No.1 Williams came into her title defence opener at the centre of a storm for her controversial comments on a US high school rape case and for her dig at Sharapova's romance with her own ex-boyfriend, Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov.

The 31-year-old took out her frustrations on the hapless Minella, the world No. 92 who has never defeated a top-30 player, let alone one of the calibre of Williams, whose French Open title three weeks ago took her majors haul to 16. Victory was also her 75th in her last 78 matches, a run that stretches back to her shock first round departure at Roland Garros in 2012, the worst Grand Slam exit of her career.

Yesterday's 32nd successive win took her to within just three of the record set by older sister Venus in 2000.

"I never think about the run, I just treat every match like a new one," said Williams after her 57-minute win.

"It was special coming out as defending champion. I played great and I have some great memories."

Williams did not concede a single point on her serve in the first set but Minella, playing in only her eighth Grand Slam compared to the American's 52nd, at least had the consolation of breaking her opponent's serve for a 2-0 lead in the second set.

But she couldn't capitalise on that slim opening and Williams roared back, finishing the match with 25 winners to Minella's five.

Williams goes on to face French qualifier Caroline Garcia, who she beat in the second round in Paris, for a place in the last 32.

In another match, Kimiko Date-Krumm rolled back the years as the Japanese veteran thrashed German teenager Carina Witthoeft 6-0, 6-2 also in the first round.

At 42, Date-Krumm is the oldest player competing in the main draw at the All England Club, but age trumped youth on Court 14 as she crushed Witthoeft, an 18-year-old qualifier, in just 44 minutes, hitting 17 winners to her opponent's two.

Date-Krumm had won just once in her last five matches, but the world No. 84 is ranked 109 places above Witthoeft and she ruthlessly exposed her young opponent's lack of experience.

Witthoeft was making her Wimbledon debut and her first appearance at a Grand Slam.

In contrast, Date-Krumm was playing in her 103rd Grand Slam match and competing at Wimbledon for the 12th time.

Date-Krumm, who next faces Romania's Alexandra Cadantu, said she carefully manages her training schedule to avoid burn-out and drinks a lot of Chinese tea.

"I'm taking care of my body, because of course the most difficult thing is recovery. I need more training. But if I do too much, I feel tired," she said.

Li Na, the Chinese sixth seed, raced into the second round with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Dutchwoman Michaella Krajicek.

The 31-year-old former French Open champion next faces Romania's Simona Halep.

"It was a pretty good start to Wimbledon. Because the last two years I didn't do well on the grass court," said Li, twice a quarter-finalist. "I have to get used to playing on the grass." — AFP


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Tray-table tomes

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 03:42 AM PDT

CALLING the airplane the final bastion for the old-fashioned paperback novel, Aussie airline Qantas is launching a series of specially written books that can be read from start to finish within the duration of a flight.

Aimed at appealing to the carrier's frequent flyers – most often business travellers – the strategy is meant to strengthen the brand's image as a sophisticated, premium airline, particularly in light of its recent partnership with luxury Middle Eastern airline Emirates.

The collection of books called Stories For Every Journey were written in collaboration with the publisher Hachette and invites digitized passengers who've grown accustomed to e-readers like Kindle and Nook, to rediscover the pleasures of thumbing through a good paperback novel.

Their target audience, meanwhile? The Qantas Platinum Flyer: ie, male.

That means books are predominantly non-fiction, thrillers and crime-based short stories, written to match the flight time of each route.

The average reader, for instance, consumes between 200 to 300 words a minute, which is equal to about a page per minute, said partner and ad agency Droga5 Sydney's David Nobay.

Book covers are designed by award-winning art director Paul Bedford who has worked on The Economist, Sony Playstation and Waterstones, and include forwards from the airline.

Meanwhile, Time magazine came up with its list of "airport books", a genre of easy-reading novels and reads to pass away the passive flying time.

Calling them "tray-table tomes", the list includes page-turners like Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. – AFP Relaxnews


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Honoured - captain who helped unpaid crew of Tanzanian ship

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 06:23 AM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: Captain Abdul Karim Stuart Russell's noble act of helping unpaid crew members of a Tanzanian ship in Johor Port has earned him a special recognition from the Marine Department.

However, Russell, 65, who is now a marine adviser with Johor Port in Pasir Gudang, confessed to feeling slightly embarrassed by the award.

"I was not doing it to get known but it would encourage people to help others," said the Briton.

"It is what you do for people. You want to help but it is not to become well-known," he added at the Seafarers Day at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal here Tuesday.

The crew members, who were from Ghana, had not been paid their wages on board the Tanzanian ship even as the food supply ran out.

When Russel heard about their plight, he contacted the Marine Department's head office in Selangor and the relevant embassies for assistance.

He even forked out his own money to pay for a flight ticket for one of the crew who needed to urgently return home.

Russell, who first went out to sea on a British ship in 1966 before arriving in Malaysia 10 years later for work, said the crew were now expected to be paid their wages next month.

Department director-general Datuk Captain Ahmad Othman, who launched the event, said there was an abundance of jobs in the shipping sector.

"The Central Mercantile Marine Fund has a record of 57,000 local seafarers, of whom over 35,000 are aged below 30. There are 17,000 foreigners.

"All of them are now serving in more than 5,000 ships registered with the fund," he said.

"Ship owners are urged to give priority to hiring local seafarers."

Capt Ahmad said he hoped that the Government would also ratify the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention 2006 soon.

He said currently, local ships in foreign ports had to adhere to provisions under the convention.

Haze: Health Ministry expands distribution of free masks

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 06:01 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has expanded its distribution of free surgical masks at public places.

Apart from public hospitals and clinics nationwide, minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said ministry staff would also give away the masks at selected schools, shopping malls and Government offices.

He said the ministry will continue to monitor the haze situation and distribute the masks at places where a need arose.

"We would like to remind the public to adhere to health advisories issued during the haze period by reducing physical activities outside of home and remaining indoors as much as possible.

"If you have to be outdoors, put on a suitable mask to cover your nose and mouth," Dr Subramaniam said in a statement here Tuesday.

On top of these, Dr Subramaniam also advised the public to reduce other sources of air pollution such as by abstaining from smoking.

"When driving, set the air-conditioner to the mode which circulates the air flow inside the vehicle.

"Drink plenty of water, at least eight glasses daily, and wash your hands and face with soap and water thoroughly after an outdoor activity," he said.

Those with haze-related illnesses such as cough, asthma, eye discomfort and chronic lung infections are also advised to seek immediate medical attention.

Prevention measures of health complications that could be caused by the haze can be obtained from the ministry website.

Haze: Palanivel on Indonesia trip to discuss issue with counterpart

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 05:55 AM PDT

Published: Tuesday June 25, 2013 MYT 8:52:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday June 25, 2013 MYT 8:55:10 PM


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Star power: Depp, Cruise hail producer Bruckheimer

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 02:46 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise hailed veteran producer Jerry Bruckheimer on Monday, as the man behind Top Gun and Pirates Of The Caribbean got a star on Hollywood's storied Walk of Fame.

The A-listers joined Bruckheimer at a ceremony adding his name on the famous stretch of Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk, which is lined with stars in tribute to generations of entertainment celebrities. Depp, who starred as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films and as Tonto in Bruckheimer's latest film, The Lone Ranger, hailed the 67-year-old as a legend.

"Without Jerry, there would be no Pirates, there would be no Captain Jack," Depp said. "Without Jerry, there would be no Lone Ranger, there would be no reinvigorated Tonto. "So I have a lot to thank him for. The man is a legend to me, a legend to us all, hence this congregation to celebrate him for his long-deserved star on the Walk of Fame. I, for one, could not be more honored to be here."

Bruckheimer, whose films have made more than US$16 billion at the box office, got the 2,501st star on the Walk of Fame, in a prime location outside the El Capitan Theatre opposite the famed Chinese and Dolby theatres.

"My lifelong dream began when I was a young boy in Michigan, and it always remained the same -- to be a filmmaker," he said. "It's been a long exciting journey from the streets of Detroit to the sidewalks of Hollywood, to be given a star to mark my contribution to an industry I love so much," he added.

Other celebrities at the ceremony, which came a week or so before the release of The Lone Ranger, included director Gore Verbinski, actor Jon Voight and actress Marg Helgenberger.

Bruckheimer called the star an "unbelievable honor," noting that fellow honorees on the tourist-crowded Walk of Fame, which stretches for a mile or two along Hollywood Boulevard, include Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock.

"I won't get too big-headed, though, because the list also includes Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and the Three Stooges," he added.

'Kick-Ass' creator baffled by star's rebuke of film's violence

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 02:19 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The creator of the Kick-Ass action film franchise said on Monday that he was "baffled" over why its star Jim Carrey has publicly objected to violence in the movie since Carrey's character takes an anti-gun stance and refuses to fire a weapon.

Comedic actor Carrey, 51, said on Twitter that the December shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, had changed his mind about the violent superhero film that is due to open in theaters in August.

"I did Kickass a month b4 (before) Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence," Carrey posted on Twitter on Sunday.

The shooting killed 26 people, including 20 children and intensified a push for gun control in the United States.

Mark Millar, who wrote the comic books on which Kick-Ass and its sequel Kick-Ass 2 are based and serves as a producer on the films, rebutted Carrey's comments in a post on his website, saying the film deals with the "consequences of violence."

"I'm baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn't in the screenplay eighteen months ago," Millar said. "Yes, the body-count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin."

Carrey, who in the past has spoken out in support of gun-control, said on Twitter he was not ashamed of the film but that the Sandy Hook shooting "caused a change in my heart."

The Ace Ventura star plays Colonel Stars and Stripes in Kick-Ass 2, the follow-up to 2010's Kick-Ass, starring Chloe Moretz and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, in which a young girl teams up with a nerdy teenage boy to fight evil bullies.

"Ironically, Jim's character in Kick-Ass 2 is a born-again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place," Millar said.

"Ultimately, this is his decision, but I've never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life," Millar added.

Adrien Brody joins cast in 'American Heist'

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 02:01 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES ( - Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Fast And Furious star Jordana Brewster and rapper Akon will join Hayden Christensen in the action-thriller American Heist.

American Heist is the first feature from Christensen's newly-formed production company Glacier Films, which has financing in place and plans to produce 11 movies over the next three years.

Sarik Andreasyan will direct American Heist, which is a remake of the 1959 Steve McQueen movie St. Louis Bank Robbery.

Story follows two brothers with checkered pasts who get involved in an ill-fated bank robbery spearheaded by a gang of dangerous criminals. The heist tests the strength of their sibling bond and how far they will go for family.

Tove Christensen, Gevond Andreasyan, Georgy Malkov and Vladimir Poliakov are producing, while Christensen and Brody will executive produce with Joseph Nasser and Jack Nasser of Nasser Entertainment Group and Jojo Ryder.

Glacier Films is financing with Warren T. Goz. Production starts today. Paradigm is repping domestic distribution rights, while Voltage is handling international sales.


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Total ban on open burning

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 04:30 AM PDT

Klang Valley residents are limiting their outdoor activities as the Air Pollutant Index remains unhealthy in many areas. The DOE is on high alert while face masks in several pharmacies are reportedly sold out.

THE Department of Environ-ment (DOE) is on high alert as the quality air in parts of the Klang Valley worsened yesterday.

It said the Air Pollutant Index (API) had exceeded the 100 mark in some areas.

At 11am yesterday, the API was recorded at 288 in Port Klang, making it the highest reading in the Klang Valley. It is considered a very unhealthy level.

Batu Muda in Kuala Lumpur recorded a reading of 198, Petaling Jaya (193), Banting (180), Shah Alam (162), Cheras (160) and Putrajaya (152), all in the unhealthy category.

A reading of 0-50 is categorised as good, 51 to 100 as moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201 to 300 as very unhealthy and 300 and above as hazardous.

In a statement, DOE director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan said among the steps taken to reduce air pollution was completely banning open burning in four areas — Terengganu, Pahang, Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur.

"DOE officers are monitoring the situation and will nab those who carry out open burning.

"I hope the public will also help by calling us about open burning activities," she said.

"The public should also take safety measures in view of the situation, like drinking plenty of water and wearing a mask at all times. If possible, stay indoors," said Halimah.

Those caught for open burning can be punished under Section 29A of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, which carries a RM500,000 maximum fine or five years' jail, or both.

Local councils are also taking precautionary measures in view of the haze.

Selayang Municipal Council public relations director Mohd Zin Masoad said all their 300 general workers and enforcement staff were given face masks yesterday.

"Our enforcement officers are also monitoring dumpsites to ensure no open burning is carried out.

"We have also advised contractors to stop earthworks temporarily, until the air quality improves,'' he said.

As for Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), its corporate affairs deputy director Shahrin Ahmad said their emergency response team was on alert against open burning activities.

"We are also working with the Fire and Rescue Department on this,'' he said.

Those with information on such activities can call the MBSA hotline at 03-5510 5811, the Fire and Rescue Department or DOE at its toll free line 1-800-882-727.

More calling in sick due to worsening haze

Posted: 25 Jun 2013 04:00 AM PDT

WHILE the haze is more dangerous for young children, their parents have not been spared with many feeling ill after breathing in polluted air.

Abdul Raof Radif, 36, said he was unsure if his health could hold up if the haze worsens.

"Both my children, ages eight and 11, and my father, who is 65, are down with sore throat and runny nose.

"I cannot afford to fall sick or else there would be no one to take care of them," he said.

A check at a pharmacy in Port Klang showed that face masks were selling like hot cakes.

Apart from face masks, a pharmacist said medication to treat runny nose and sore throat were also in demand.

"Over-the-counter medication is selling fast but we are restocking. So customers can be assured that we will not run out," she said.

On Saturday, non-governmental organisation Stop Air Pollution (SAPO) staged a peaceful demonstration urging the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to do something about the open burning in Sumatra immediately.

Its Klang branch chairman B. K. Tan said more than 50 people in the area had fallen sick after the air quality dropped.

"This is not the first time the haze is affecting us. The governments must find a long-term solution so that the health of our people will not be affected" he said.

Warehouse supervisor V. Navin Kumar said he has to put a mask on every time he steps out of his office in Port Klang.

"The air condition is very bad. I was down with sore throat three days ago and I have not recovered completely," he said.

His colleague Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, who also complained of sore throat and eye irritation, said he hoped the hazy days would come to an end soon.

"I cannot take it any more. Breathing is difficult," he added.

Selangor Environment Depart-ment director Siti Zaleha Ibrahim meanwhile, said air quality was expected to improve in the next few days.

She also said the department would take stern action against those carrying out open burning.


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24 organisations and schools benefit from annual Malakoff event

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 07:11 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Malakoff Corporation Bhd, an independent water and power producer, has raised RM172,700 for charity through cycling.

A total of 80 Malakoff employees and business associates participated in the Malakoff Annual Charity Ride and rode their bicycles through 480km from Johor Baru to Kuala Lumpur over three days.

Malakoff chief executive officer Zainal Abidin Jalil said the event that was held for eighth consecutive years was part of the company's corporate social responsibility to help the needy.

He said the fund was distributed to 24 welfare organisations and schools for the underprivileged.

"This is in line with Malakoff's commitment to be a responsible and active participant of the local community," he said in a press statement.

Among selected 24 welfare organisations and schools benefited from the event were Pusat Jagaan Nur Muhammad, Asnaf Murni, Malaysian Association for the Blind, Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Orang Kerdil Malaysia, Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Pendidikan Raudhatul Ikhwani, SK Andek Mori, SK Sungai Boh, SK Seri Sinaran Chokoh and SJK (C) Pei Chiao.

Zainal Abidin said the annual charity ride also provided a platform for the company to foster friendship with its stakeholders while encouraging a healthy lifestyle.

He said 28 of its business partners and associates contributed and participated in the event.

"I am pleased that our business partners and associates share our passion for charity and sports.

"Thank you for making this year's sport for charity ride another outstanding event," he said, adding that he hoped the company's business partners and associations would continue to participate in the future events.

Funds raised from business associates over the past seven years amounted close to RM750,000.

Since the inaugural ride, it had covered a total distance of 3,575km in Peninsula Malaysia and contributed to more than 90 charitable homes and orphanages.

Apart from this, Malakoff will organise the Malakoff Interstate Fellowship Ride, another community-based cycling event in Penang at the end of this year.

For more details on the upcoming sports events, visit, and

Protecting the wildlife population

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 05:42 PM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government's move of increasing the amount of protected forests has drawn praise from two environmental NGOs as this was positive for wildlife population dispersal.

Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) executive director Cynthia Ong said the move of establishing forest contiguity between Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon was fundamental in tending towards ecosystem resilience.

"We are in a critical region, at a critical time. Political courage and leadership from government is essential. Such courage and leadership from all sectors – civil society, industry and communities, is equally important for us to make shifts to tip the balance towards deep sustainability for all.

He was commenting on a recent report in The Star that Sabah has one of the single largest conservation areas in the country that is nearly 15 times the size of Penang Island.

Ong said the upgrading of the Malua Forest Reserve to Class I was particularly significant as the area is host to the Malua BioBank, the world's largest tropical conservation bank that is rehabilitating a critical habitat for Orang Utan and other threatened species.

The Malua BioBank generates Biodiversity Conservation Certificates that are sold to restore and conserve the forest reserve on a sustainable basis.

Borneo Rhino Alliance executive director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne said any commitment to conserve logable forests is a good move.

For the record, the area of more than 400,000ha encompasses the three crown jewels of Sabah's environmental conservation efforts — Danum Valley, the Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon.

Over the past several years, the Sabah Government has been linking tracts of the forests in the three conservation areas by reclassifying those designated for logging and other commercial activities into protected zones.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said the last piece fell into place when the State Assembly passed amendments to the Forestry Enactment 1984 on Thursday under which 23,135ha of forests were re-classified as protected areas.

"We now have this huge conservation area that is totally protected and cannot be taken away," he said.

He said work was under way to restore degraded areas of the newly protected areas that were once commercial forest reserves.

Management plans for places like Gunung Rara, Ulu Segama and the Malua Forest Reserve were now being drawn up, Mannan added.

He said the restoration work involved replanting native tree species in the affected areas.

The forest link between the Danum Valley, Imbak Canyon and the Maliau Basin was also crucial as some of these areas were habitats for wildlife such as the orang utan, he added.

Biggest seizure of fake goods until May this year

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 07:09 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) has seized more than half a million worth of goods in the first five months of this year.

Director Ayub Abd Rahman said until May this year, the department recorded 188 cases under various offences and seized RM542,807 of goods.

He added that between June 11 and 13, the department had conducted raids at several known hotspots here.

Ayub also said that during the operation, the department seized various fake goods worth RM37,370 and 17,389 units of pirated DVDs worth RM86,945.

"In total, the department recorded 34 cases and seized RM126,220 of goods making it the biggest for this year," he told a press conference at KPDNKK store here.

He also said that for the first five months of this year, Johor recorded the highest numbers of offences under the Trade Descriptions Act 2011 and Supplies Control Act which recorded 124 cases with goods seize worth RM512,797.

"The department also recorded 43 cases under the Consumer Protection Act including 13 offences for Weights and Measures Act 1972.

"We have seen traders tampering with the weighing machine to charge higher prices to make more money," he said adding that the department also seized tempered weighing machines worth RM1,810.

Ayub urged those who have information on such activities especially selling of fake goods and pirated DVDs to contact the department's hotline at 1-800-886-800.

He added that KPDNKK is committed in ensuring that such fake goods will be taken off the shelves.

"The department would continue monitoring and conducting raids in the near future to get rid of fake goods in the state especially here," he said.


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