Khamis, 1 Ogos 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Cheers for Thai king as he leaves hospital


BANGKOK: Thailand's revered but frail king left the hospital where he has lived for almost four years, as thousands of flag-waving well-wishers cheered him on his way to his coastal palace.

Crowds shouted "long live the king!" as 85-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej was driven away from Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital, where he was admitted in September 2009.

The king, wearing a salmon pink jacket, waved acknowledgement to supporters lining the route, many of whom were respectfully on their knees and clad in the royal colours of yellow and pink.

The world's longest-serving monarch, treated as a near-deity in politically turbulent Thailand, left for his residence in the seaside town of Hua Hin, about two hours' drive south of Bangkok.

epa03809586 epa03809534 Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (L) and his wife Queen Sirikit (R) sit in a van as they depart Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 01 August 2013. The 85-year-old king, the world's longest-reigning monarch and and his queen left the hospital to live at Klai Kangwon seaside Palace in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Bhumibol has been residing in hospital since September 2009 as he is suffering from a variety of ailments while Sirikit, 80, was admitted to the same hospital in July 2012.  EPA/STR  EPA/STR THAILAND OUT

Thai king passes by in a car as he leaves Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok.-EPA

He was accompanied by 80-year-old Queen Sirikit, who has also been in hospital for the past year.

"The tears came automatically, I was so happy I could not hold them back," said one onlooker, Sasitorn Intarachit after the convoy had passed.

The 27-year-old said that the day-long wait in the tropical heat had been worth it for a sighting of the monarch.

Bangkok traffic police said there were between 20,000 and 30,000 people out to show their devotion to the Thai monarch. — AFP

Crematorium at revered Nepal site alarms Unesco


KATHMANDU: The UN's cultural body has voiced alarm at the building of a giant crematorium within a fabled temple complex in Nepal, worried it will become an eyesore at one of the world's holiest Hindu sites.

Pashupatinath, a temple complex which sprawls over a 2.6 sq km area near Kathmandu on the banks of the Bagmati river, attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims every year from neighbouring India.

Parts of the complex date back to the early fifth century and it was awarded World Heritage Site status in 1979 by Unesco, putting it on a par with structures such as India's Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

But now Unesco has pleaded with temple authorities to rethink plans for the construction of a mass electronic crematorium as well as ongoing work to build a road which cuts through the site, fearing irreparable damage.

The organisation's country chief, Axel Plathe, confirmed that the projects were "a concern for Unesco" and had asked them to come up with an alternative.

"Construction began without proper authorisation from the competent Nepali authorities as per the established integrated management plan for the property," Plathe added.

In particular, Unesco is unhappy at the construction of a two-storey building which will house three separate crematoriums.

While defenders of the project said it is more environmentally-friendly than burning bodies in the river, Plathe said no assessment study had been conducted and warned that a giant chimney at the top of the building "will have an adverse visual impact".

Govinda Tandon, the member-secretary of the Pashupatinath Pashupati Area Development Trust, said management was trying to address Unesco's concerns and wanted to avoid endangering its special status.

"If the temple gets delisted from the World Heritage Site, it will be damaging for us," Tandon said.

"Because there are several government offices involved with the construction works, we are consulting with them."

However he defended the crematorium project, saying it was being built "in order to reduce the environmental pollution because dozens of bodies are cremated on the banks of Bagmati River, using firewood".

A correspondent who visited the site on Tuesday saw dozens of workers laying bricks on the building.

And while construction work on the contentious road through the complex has been halted, several cars could be seen driving across what is currently an unpaved track.

"I use it every day and so do thousands of others because this is convenient for us. I can reach my home in 15 minutes. Otherwise I would have to take a big detour," said 24-year-old student Dipak Rijal.

While Unesco has not issued an explicit threat to revoke Pashupatinath's heritage status, Tandon said it had been given a deadline of early 2015 for the situation to be resolved.

To date, only two sites have ever lost their world heritage status.

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman was removed from the list in 2007 due to the government decision to reduce the size of the protected area by 90 percent.

In 2009, Germany's Dresden Elbe Valley, a 20km cultural landscape in the city of Dresden was delisted after a four-lane bridge was built in the area. — AFP

Delays expected at checkpoints


Travellers have been told to expect delays at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints next week with Hari Raya and National Day falling back-to-back on Aug 8 and 9.

The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a statement yesterday that traffic is expected to build up from Wednesday and will continue to be heavy through the weekend.

It urged travellers to adjust their travel plans if possible to ease the expected surge of vehicles or to car pool or use public transport.

Singaporeans issued with the BioPass or registered with the National Registration Office are also encouraged to use the automated clearance lanes at the bus halls for quicker passage.

Those leaving Singapore by either land checkpoint may keep tabs on traffic conditions there in advance by checking the advisories installed along the major expressways.

Travellers may also call the traffic information hotline at 6863-0117, listen to TrafficWatch on the radio, or visit the Land Transport Authority's One Motoring website at

ICA added that travellers should carry their own passports before presenting themselves for immigration clearance at the checkpoints. Travellers presenting the wrong passports at immigration will slow down the clearance process and cause inconvenience to other checkpoint users.

In addition, travellers should also make sure that they do not bring unlawful or prohibited goods into or out of Singapore, advised ICA. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

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The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews


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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Let the haunting begin


The Conjuring's Vera Farmiga talks about scary movies.

GROWING up with strict immigrant parents in New Jersey, Vera Farmiga was not allowed to watch scary movies.

Thanks to her best friend Missy, however, Farmiga was introduced to the horror films of Freddy Krueger.

Thirty years after feasting on A Nightmare On Elm Street and its sequels at Missy's house, the 39-year-old actress said she is ready to scare a new generation of overprotected children with the terrifying new film The Conjuring.

Farmiga, who was nominated for an Oscar opposite George Clooney in Up In The Air and is one of the stars of Bates Motel, portrays real-life paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren in the new film. Warren, a clairvoyant, and her husband Ed Warren, a demonologist played by Patrick Wilson, investigated thousands of hauntings, including those that inspired the films The Amityville Horror and The Haunting In Connecticut.

What or who was the key in making The Conjuring work?

It was Lorraine. She is an influential and fascinating person. That was the draw for me. And, of course, Patrick Wilson playing Ed was the cincher. I just worked with his wife (Dagmara Dominczyk) on Higher Ground and I adored her.

I know Ed Warren has passed away, but did you get to meet with Lorraine?

I did. I had just read their book The Demonologist. It was unlike any book I've ever read. It's about mystical phenomena. It just scared the daylights out of me. It details all their cases. There are things that go down in this book that are absolutely unfathomable, so far-fetched and so diabolical. Then they have their museum of the occult that is located near their house.

That museum, which contains objects from their most celebrated cases, plays a significant role in the movie. Did you take a tour of it?

I opted not to see it. I decided that I was only playing Lorraine Warren. I didn't need to be around the psychic energy of these things. It would have done nothing for me. Just knowing about the terror and dread these objects instilled was enough for me. Patrick wasn't afraid; he even posed with the Annabelle doll.

Was Lorraine okay with you not going through the museum?

She doesn't go through there much since Ed's passing. They have a priest who lives on the property and continues to bless the items and pray over the household every night.

That's pretty creepy.

That's what I'm telling you. Her nephew will tell you that there is an active energy to those objects, even though the priest prays over them.

How much did she share about the demons she's met?

She doesn't like to dwell on the past, and she's never told anyone, including Ed, what she saw in the house that night. I assume she saw death in the face, whether it was hers or her children, nobody knows. You can only imagine what she saw. She doesn't go there. And I think she maintains power over it by not talking about it. I mostly just watched her gestures and how she spoke. I absorbed whatever I could.

Is it scary on the set when you're making a scary movie?

Only if your co-workers are scary. We are responsible for the energy we create. Some strange things happened on the set, but we have decided not to discuss it because it gives that mysticism negative energy.

Are your children too young to see this movie?

Oh, yeah (laughs). They're two and four.

When will you let them see it?

After they turn 40. – The Orange County Register/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

The Conjuring's Vera Farmiga on scary movies.The Conjuring opens in cinemas nationwide on Aug 1.

'Horror film' puts Internet privacy under spotlight


Stalking isn't Cullen Hoback's style, but the chance to confront Mark Zuckerberg about the dark side of the Internet was just too good to pass on.

"Mr Zuckerberg? I'm working on a documentary," the independent filmmaker asked the Facebook founder, strolling in a T-shirt and jeans on the leafy sidewalk outside his southern California home.

"I was wondering if I could just ask you a couple of questions? Do you still think privacy is dead? What are your real thoughts on privacy?"

"Are you guys recording?" Zuckerberg sheepishly replied. "Will you please not?"

"I can stop," said Hoback, switching off his video camera, prompting Zuckerberg to loosen up, smile and invite Hoback to connect with Facebook's PR team – unaware that Hoback was still recording with a pair of spy glasses.

It's a telling scene in Terms And Conditions May Apply, in which Hoback raises disturbing questions about the mountains of online data being collected, shared and stored by governments and Internet giants alike.

The title derives from the rambling fine print most Internet users never bother to read when they sign on to a new online service or app – blissfully ignoring that they're entering into a legally binding contract.

"I think the craziest thing about this whole experience is that I didn't realise I was making a horror film," the Los Angeles-based Hoback told AFP in a telephone interview.

Two years in the making, Terms And Conditions was pretty much complete by the time Edward Snowden came forward with his revelation, leaving Hoback just enough time to tack a quick mention of the whistleblower onto the end of his film.

"The story is constantly evolving, and it's hard sometimes to put the keyboard down and stop editing," he said.

While it makes no blockbuster revelations, Terms And Conditions succeeds in weaving a series of Internet privacy issues over the years into a single narrative that's still playing itself out in real life.

For a typical Internet user, it says, it would take 180 hours – the equivalent of one full month of work a year – to fully read all the terms and conditions attached to his or her favourite websites.

"They're poorly written and they're exhaustive. They take into perpetuity everything you could ever imagine," said Hoback, for whom Internet privacy is "the biggest civil liberties issue of our time."

Google's terms of service, for instance, clocks in at 1,711 words, according to an AFP count, not including a separate 2,382-word privacy policy that is still about 1,000 words shorter than the Google Chrome browser policy.

Terms And Conditions also explains how Internet users, by clicking on a website's "agree" button, consent to their online lives being archived, shared with third parties or passed on to government agencies without notice.

"I really think of the audience as the main character, because this has been happening to us for all of these years," said Hoback, whose 2007 documentary Monster Camp examined the cult world of action-figure enthusiasts.

"The problem is, right now, you either get the service (you want to use on the Internet) or you don't," he said. "There's no one sitting at your side of the table negotiating these contracts."

As for his sidewalk encounter with Zuckerberg, whose social media colossus has come under fire for modifying its user policies without notice, Hoback said he wanted to make a point.

"I just wanted him to say, 'Look, I don't want you to record me,' and I wanted to say, 'Look, I don't want you to record us'," he said. "That was really the motive there." – AFP

Lord of social media


[unable to retrieve full-text content]Peter Jackson celebrates the end of 'The Hobbit' filming with his cat, Mr Smudge.

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Nepal bans chicken sales after bird flu outbreak


KATHMANDU: Nepal on Thursday banned the sale of chicken after health workers found cases of bird flu at several poultry farms on the outskirts of the capital Kathmandu, officials said.

Officials at Kathmandu District Animal Health Office said the government had imposed a week-long ban on the supply and sale of poultry products to prevent the H5N1 virus from spreading to humans.

"We have taken this decision to save both human lives as well as the industry," said Bolraj Acharya, the head of the office.

He said authorities could extend the ban unless the virus was under control within a week, adding that security forces had been deployed in markets to enforce the restrictions.

"We have also sent surveillance teams in the poultry farms. They will report to us if there's any violation of the ban," Acharya said.

Since the latest outbreak of bird flu two weeks ago, health workers have culled 20,000 chickens and destroyed more than 12,000 eggs at 30 affected farms, said Bijay Kant Jha, the head of the government-run Directorate of Animal Health.

"This is the biggest outbreak in Nepal so far," he said.

Nepal's first outbreak of bird flu in poultry was in January 2009. Since then, a total of 200,000 chickens have been culled and more than 400,000 eggs destroyed, Jha told AFP.

H5N1, a common strain of bird flu, killed 377 people globally from 2003 until July 5 this year, according to the World Health Organisation. -AFP

Australian nursing home killer jailed for life


SYDNEY (AFP) - A man convicted of deliberately lighting a blaze that ripped through a Sydney nursing home, killing 11 elderly residents, was Thursday sentenced to life in jail with no chance of parole.

Roger Dean, a nurse at the facility, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of murder, telling police after the fire in 2011 that he had been "corrupted with evil thoughts".

"You won't believe it, but it was like Satan saying to me that it's the right thing to do and I try very hard to not do that," he said.

He also admitted eight counts of causing grievous bodily harm to other mostly infirm residents of the home, some of whom suffered from dementia or were blind.

Judge Megan Latham said the 37-year-old's crimes were in the worst category, calling them "heinous", "atrocious" and "greatly reprehensible" with his victims vulnerable and elderly people who were under his care.

"The pain and terror suffered by all of the victims must have been horrific," she said.

"For those who were unable to move independently and who faced the prospect of being burnt alive or suffocated by smoke, a worse fate is difficult to imagine."

Three residents perished during the inferno Dean started and eight others died later from their injuries.

The Supreme Court heard that he started the blaze at two separate points in the building as part of a "considered plan" to distract police officers and hospital management from his theft of more than 200 prescription pills.

At the time Dean was described by locals as a friendly but quiet man who kept to himself, and he was initially hailed a hero after talking to media outside the home as firefighters battled to contain the flames.

He told reporters then that he "just quickly did what I could to get everyone out".

Dean was addicted to prescription painkillers and suffered from a personality disorder, but the court was told there was no evidence he was suffering from a significant mental illness at the time.

Outside court, relatives and friends of the victims cheered and embraced.

Elly Valkay, whose mother Neeltje Valkay, 90, died in the blaze said the life sentence was "wonderful".

"I hope he suffers as much in jail as my mother suffered in the last days of her life, which was horrendous," she told reporters.

Lorraine Osland's mother Lola Bennett also perished in the fire and she said what Dean did would stay with her for the rest of her life.

"It wouldn't matter what they gave him. It would never ever be any different for us. He got a life sentence and so did we."


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Malaysia’s KLCI climbs, banks, Tenaga advance


[unable to retrieve full-text content]Malaysia's blue chips extended their gains for the second day on Friday, as investors picked up sold-down stocks after Wednesday's rout sparked off by Fitch Ratings downgrade of the country's outlook.

Billionaire Icahn Sues Dell In Latest Attempt To Foil US$24.4bil Buyout


NEW YORK: Activist investor Carl Icahn sued Dell Inc and its board on Thursday, his latest attempt to derail aUS $24.4 billion buyout bid by the computer maker's founder and CEO Michael Dell.

Icahn asked a court to block rule changes Michael Dell has proposed ahead of a shareholder vote set for Friday. Icahn and his affiliates also want the court to stop Dell from changing the record date by which shareholders must have purchased their shares in order to vote.

They want to stop Michael Dell from voting any Dell shares acquired since February 5 at any annual shareholder meeting. The February 5 date was when his buyout bid was announced. The lawsuit also seeks the court to bar the company from changing any shareholder voting requirements.

The lawsuit, filed in the Court of Chancery of Delaware, seeks to force the company to call an annual shareholder meeting on the same day as the special meeting on the buyout in case Dell Inc sets a new record date.

"My personal reaction, bombastic," said Larry Hamermesh, a professor at the Widener University School of Law in WilmingtonDelaware, referring to the lawsuit. "The linchpin of it seems to be that it's inappropriate to move or create a new record date because that takes advantage of a cynical effort to put shares in the hands of arbitrageurs who will want to vote for the deal."

Hamermesh pointed out that the judge who is likely to take this case, Leo Strine, often made the point in the takeover battle by industrial gases companies Air Products of rival Airgas that arbitrageurs are shareholders with the same rights.

Icahn, who views Michael Dell's offer as too low, has amassed an 8.7 percent stake in Dell and is leading a charge with Southeastern Asset Management against the buyout with an offer of his own. He has been campaigning to get Dell to set a date for the annual shareholder meeting so he can put up his own slate of directors for the company.

A spokesman for Dell Inc declined to comment on the suit but said Dell board has always sought to act in accordance with its fiduciary duties.

"Tenuous" talks between the buyout group and Dell's special board committee for a higher bid are continuing and they're "making progress," CNBC said on Thursday.

The debate over the go-private transaction has dragged on for months, jeopardizing the future of the computer maker facing a decline in its core business of personal computers amid the growing popularity of tablets. Michael Dell has said a turnaround of Dell should be done away from the scrutiny of public investors.


A vote on the buyout, which has been postponed twice, is now scheduled for Friday and sources familiar with the matter have said another adjournment is unlikely.

The special committee has said it would put the original buyout offer of $13.65 per share up for a shareholder vote.

Dell's special board committee rejected new voting terms in a revised bid by Michael Dell and Silver Lake, which raised their offer price last week by 10 cents to $13.75 per share on the condition the voting rules were changed.

Currently, shareholders who abstain are counted as voting against the deal, but the buyout group wanted those investors to be excluded from the tally.

Michael Dell's unusual demand sparked outrage among major investors, but the buyout group had said about 27 percent of the unaffiliated shares had not yet been voted and the presumption that these shares should be treated as if they had voted against the transaction was unfair.

The votes that have come in so far are split evenly between yes and no, sources have said, but there appears to be some signs that Michael Dell could get more votes.

Some of Dell's largest investors, who have abstained from voting on the buyout, told the company's board this week that they would back the deal at the buyout group's latest offer price, three sources close to the matter have told Reuters.

Dell's shares closed up 2.3 percent at $12.96 on the Nasdaq.- Reuters

Google Bets Customization Will Be Moto's X-Factor


NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO: Motorola on Thursday unveiled a new smartphone that consumers can personalize with a choice of colors and materials, hoping to stand out in a crowded market and justify the $12.5 billion that Google Inc paid for the ailing handset maker.

The highly anticipated "Moto X" marks the cellphone maker's first flagship device since Google bought the company in 2012, and is its latest attempt to break into a smartphone market dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.

The phone's customization options are a novel touch which may appeal to fashionistas, analysts said. But some analysts questioned whether the Moto X offers the kind of technological breakthroughs that will vault Motorola back into the top rungs of the mobile rankings.

"We would have expected magic from somebody like Google, and this is not magic," Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics, said.

"Motorola could have done this without Google equally well. Or for that matter, another hardware manufacturer not owned by Google could have made this phone," he said, citing the phone's average hardware specifications.

The Moto X will go on sale in the United States at the end of August or the beginning of September for a suggested retail price of $199.99 to customers who sign a two-year contract at five of the biggest U.S. mobile network operators.

Google faces a steep climb in its effort to revive Motorola, which once claimed the No. 2 spot in the global phone market but according to research firm Strategy Analytics now commands a mere 2 percent market share. Shut out of the Apple-Samsung battle, Motorola competes with other smaller players such as HTC <2398.TW>, Nokia <NOK1V.HE> and BlackBerry <BBRY.O?.

Motorola is betting that it can win over consumers by offering a huge palette of colors to personalize their phones, as well as unusual phone materials such as wood.

"They're not playing the 'mine is bigger than yours game,'" Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis, said. "Their approach is that this is what consumers actually need.

"I have no doubt there are people who want to customize their phones. The question is how many of them," Greengart added.

AT&T Inc <T.N>, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service provider, will have exclusive rights to let its customers customize the phone from a selection of 18 colors for the back, two for the front and seven accent colors for an undisclosed time period.

While AT&T will allow customers to customize their phones, rivals Verizon Wireless <VZ.N> , Sprint Corp <S.N>, T-Mobile US <TMUS.N> and U.S. Cellular <USM.N> will only be able to offer black-and-white versions of the device.

In order to promise delivery of customized phones within four days, Motorola had contract manufacturing partner Flextronics International Ltd <FLEX.O> build a factory in the United States.


The Moto X launch comes as speculation grows that Apple will unveil a less expensive version of itsiPhone later this year. There are also rumors that is developing a low-cost smartphone, to follow up on the success the e-commerce company has had with its Kindle tablets.

Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners, said the Moto X's is too expensive given the market's shift to lower-priced phones. Motorola is "chasing after the high end right when the high end is dead," he said.

The phone's price and its lackluster features will hamper Motorola's efforts to return to profitability, said Gillis.

"Motorola has been in the money-losing club and clearly they want to stay there," he said.

Since it bought Motorola, Google has promised that it would rationalize the company's phone range, which included as many as 45 phones in 2011. Along with the Moto X and three Motorola Droid phones, Motorola will likely have just one more phone launch this year, said Rick Osterloh, Motorola's vice president.

A Motorola spokesman told Reuters that the next phone would be less expensive than the Moto X.

Analysts also noted that the Moto X does not include the newest version of Android, the mobile operating system software that Google gives away for free and which is featured on three out of every foursmartphones sold worldwide.

Google must walk a fine line in its ownership of Motorola, to make sure that other phone vendors that use its Android software - including Samsung - do not feel that Motorola receives preferential treatment.

Motorola, which Google runs as a separate company, does not get early access to new versions ofAndroid, a spokesman said, noting that the newer 4.3 version of Android was only made available last week.

Google primarily makes money off of Android from online advertising when consumers access its services on Android-powered devices.

Rick Osterloh, Motorola's vice president for product management, said consumers have shown that they are interested in putting their personal stamp on a phone, seen in the popularity of phone cases featuring various colors and sparkly surfaces.

Motorola is still working out which wood to use, he said. Aside from cosmetic concerns, the decision will have technology ramifications because different woods "respond differently" to radio signals.

In addition to industrial design changes such as a curved back and the choice of colors, the phone's key features found in its camera and a voice-activated user interface are the same as what Motorola introduced in its line-up of new Droid devices last week.

Motorola said that Moto X would become available in Canada and Latin America as well as the United States around the same time.

Motorola said it has yet to establish a price for customers who want to pay the full retail price without signing a contract.

Shares of Google closed up 1.9 percent at $904.22 on Nasdaq on Thursday. - Reuters


The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Najadi's killer identified


[unable to retrieve full-text content]KUALA LUMPUR: Police have identified the main suspect behind the murder of Arab Malaysian Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi and arrested a 44-year-old man believed to be the driver of the getaway taxi.

Dog trainer in video arrested over clip showing her celebrating Raya with canines


PETALING JAYA: Maznah Mohd Yusof, the woman who was featured in a controversial video celebrating Hari Raya with her dogs, has been arrested.

CID Director Comm Datuk Hadi Ho Abdullah said the 38-year-old dog trainer, who also goes by the name Chetz Togom, was picked up from her house in Rawang yesterday and is now being held for questioning at the Bukit Aman police station.

He said a report was lodged against Maznah in Segamat, Johor, on Tuesday and another at the Dang Wangi police station yesterday.

"The case is being investigated under Section 298 of the Penal Code for insulting a religion, and the Sedition Act. We will liaise with Johor police on the investigation," he said.

When contacted, Maznah said she was being detained at the Bukit Aman police station and was waiting for her lawyer.

"The police say they can detain me for 24 hours. The officers are nice, though," she said.

In her Facebook account, Maznah, who is an engineer, stated that the video was shot in 2010 and had nothing to do with insulting Islam.

She has been at the centre of a social media storm after a video of her celebrating Hari Raya with her dogs three years ago was uploaded to YouTube on Monday.

The 104-second clip, titled "Video Menghina Islam 1 Hari di Hari Raya" shows Maznah walking near a mosque with three dogs with the Takbir Raya (a special takbir recited on the first day of Hari Raya) playing in the background. She is also seen washing their paws and feeding them cookies.

Mechanic gets more jail time for abusing three-year-old stepson


SHAH ALAM: A mechanic who was convicted for abusing his three-year-old stepson last September, got more time in jail by High Court on Thursday.

Judge Datuk Nurchaya Arshad raised the sentence to two-and-a-half years on T.Rajasegaran, 32, after allowing the prosecution's appeal.

Nurcahaya also imposed two years of good behavior bond with RM5,000 as security deposit.

On Jan 15, Rajasegaran was sentenced to a year in jail by the Magistrate's Court in Klang after he pleaded guilty of abusing his three-year-old-son with a rice ladle and muruku mould at a house in Kapar, at about 12.30pm, in September last year.

The charge was made under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 which provides for a maximum jail sentence of 10 years or fine up to RM20,000 or both upon conviction.

In the judgement, Nurcahaya said the jail sentence of two-and-a-half years was imposed after taking into account the public interest on this abuse case.

"In this case, the respondent not only slapped and kicked the victim but also picked him up on a sofa until the child fell on the floor," she said.

Earlier, the respondent's lawyer, Shahrul Nizam Azwir asked the court to impose a lighter or maintain the one-year jail after Rajasegaran pleaded guilty and regretted the offence.

However, it was objected by deputy public prosecutor Mirza Mohamed.

Rajasegaran's abuse on the victim received public attention when it was recorded on video lasting eight minutes and 33 seconds and posted on Facebook. – Bernama


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central


[unable to retrieve full-text content]

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South &amp; East

India&#8217;s poor turn to bloodletting to treat illness


NEW DELHI: Mother-of-three Lilavati Devi stood perfectly still in the hot sun in Old Delhi as a practitioner and his assistants checked the veins in her hands.

Then, armed with razor blades, the practitioner sliced neatly into her skin and lets the "impure blood" drain out.

Devi suffers from chronic arthritis and firmly believes that her elderly "doctor" or practitioner, Mohammed Gyas, has the skills to cure her and others through the ancient treatment of bloodletting.

"Science and modern medicine have failed," Devi said , as an assistant poured cold water on her bleeding hands and sprinkled them with a grey-coloured herbal powder.

The 82-year-old Muslim man's treatment "was the only way to end the severe joint pain," she said.

Doctors used the thousands-year-old practice to treat illness until the late 19th century, when it was mostly abandoned and overtaken by modern medicine.

TO GO WITH India-therapy-health-doctors,FEATURE by Rupam NairIn this photograph taken on July 2, 2013 an Indian woman covers her face in pain as she is cut on her hand by Mohammed Iqbal, (R), son of elderly doctor Mohammed Gyas, at their open air clinic outside the Jama Masjid in the old quarters of Delhi.   Among a handful of poorer, and sometimes remote, communities in India, traditional practices like bloodletting are favoured.  About 50 patients queue each day at the open-air clinic in the shadow of India's largest mosque, the Jama Masjid, for the treatment which Gyas says can cure everything from paralysis to diabetes and even cervical cancer.     AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA

Blood rites: A woman in pain is covering her face as her hand is cut by Iqbal at the open air clinic outside the Jama Masjid in the old quarters of Delhi.-AFP

But among a handful of poorer, and sometimes remote, communities in India, where medical services are too costly, waiting lists too long or modern doctors simply not trusted, traditional practices like bloodletting are favoured.

About 50 patients queue up each day at the open-air clinic in the shadow of India's largest mosque, the Jama Masjid, for the treatment which Gyas says can cure everything from paralysis to diabetes and even cervical cancer.

"The basic tenet of the therapy is the belief that impure blood is the root cause of all ailments.

"Get rid of the impure blood and your health problem is solved," said Gyas, who learnt the skill from his father and has been treating people here for more than 40 years.

"Tracking the flow of impure blood is the biggest skill required. Incisions are not made randomly, every vein has to be checked," he said.

The practitioner finds what he calls blockages, knots, clots and lumps in veins and makes incisions to unclog them, removing blocked blood and improving flow.

Before starting treatment, Gyas instructs patients to stand in the sun for about 40 minutes at the clinic, where nearby ducks and goats wander, and Muslim vendors sell mutton curry, prayer beads and skull caps.

His assistants tie cloth strips around his patients' limbs to restrict blood flow, making veins bulge nearer to the surface of the skin in preparation for a series of small incisions.

Gyas says that he does not charge patients, most of whom are poor. However they pay about 40 rupees (67 cents) to his assistants for their work – about 10 times less than what homeopaths, popular alternatives in India to GPs, charge for a consultation.

"When people come to me, they have very little money. What can I take from such people?" he said.

Gyas depends financially on one of his sons who is a shopkeeper, while another son is following in his footsteps, learning the practice from his father.

"Our treatment is like any other traditional form of medicine.

"We are not commercial doctors because people's well-being is what matters to us," said his son Mohammad Iqbal.

Bloodletting may still be practiced in some parts of India but conventional doctors dismiss it as quackery.

Diabetes specialist Rajesh Keswari said that he regularly sees patients who have put their health at risk by trying unscientific therapies and remedies such as draining blood or drinking herbal potions.

"Diabetes has to be controlled from day one, what has happened is that many people, especially uneducated and poor people, go to such quacks, take treatments which obviously do not work," said Keswari.

Although India has world-class hospitals, many Indians cannot afford them.

A decade of rapid economic growth has allowed the government to boost spending on poor and rural communities, but the public health system still falls short of meeting the needs of its 1.2 billion people, according to a 2013 Oxfam report.

Patients are not drawn to bloodletting as a last, low-cost resort.

Instead they swear by the treatment itself, describing successful results, after numerous consultations.

"Earlier, I was unable to sit or stand," said Jayant Kumar, 42, who was left physically disabled by a road accident four years ago.

"Now I can even walk without any support." — AFP

'Not all stripes to be deactivated'


Several banks will not deactivate the magnetic stripes on local credit and debit cards that have been used overseas at least once in the past year.

But it is understood that the new rule to reduce fraud, which consumers have criticised for its inconvenience, will still hit most users here.

Ong-Ang Ai Boon, director of the Association of Banks (ABS), which imposed the new policy requiring users to "activate" the magnetic stripes on their cards for overseas use, yesterday said banks may exempt frequent travellers and those who are residing overseas.

Out of the 10 card-issuing banks here, five, including Maybank, will not deactivate local cards that were used overseas at least once in the past year.

A sixth bank said it would exempt cards that had been used overseas at least once in the past six months.

All the six banks will be sending letters to exempted customers, giving them the option of deactivating their cards.

These exemptions were allowed as banks were concerned about inconveniencing customers who live overseas or travel often, said Ong.

But she reiterated the need for the new rule, adding: "It was a collective decision taken for the good for the financial sector and for consumers.

The Straits Times reported earlier that all 10 card-issuing banks here will deactivate the magnetic stripes on credit and debit cards by Oct 1. The stripes on all newly issued credit cards will also be inactive by default.

Experts say magnetic stripes pose a real security risk, unlike EMV chips that store data in an encrypted form, making them harder to break into. While all credit and debit card payments here are processed using EMV chips, magnetic stripes are commonly used abroad.

"Anyone can buy an electronic reader to extract the information from the stripe, then clone cards for use," said Samson Yeow, a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's school of digital media and infocomm technology.

According to a global survey last year by financial consulting firm Aite Group, 26% of Singapore respondents had experienced some form of card fraud in the past five years.

Singapore resident Ian Farr, 36, who has three credit and debit cards, was a victim.

He received a call from HSBC in December 2011 to verify a S$700 (RM1,780) transaction made on his credit card at a McDonald's outlet in Johannesburg, South Africa. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Drivers say no to setting out early despite ERP rate hikes


Motorists say the latest round of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) rate hikes may make it more expensive to drive, but is not likely to change their travelling habits.

From next Monday, drivers passing through the gantries on the East Coast Parkway (Fort Road) and Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) slip road into the ECP between 8.30am and 9am will be charged S$6 (RM15.30) – the highest rate since the ERP system started operating in 1998.

Using the Central Expressway (CTE) will also cost more with rates set to go up by 50 cents or S$1 (RM1.27 or RM2.55) at certain times.

Investment analyst Mark Tan, who drives from Marine Parade to his Raffles Place office daily, currently pays S$5 (RM12.70) for using the ECP.

He said he will pay the extra S$1, but does not expect traffic to improve.

"Even now when I pay S$5, I'm stuck in the jam for more than 20 minutes. Paying more is not likely to make the roads any smoother."

Josephine Chia, who uses the ECP to get to work in Bugis, also doubts the record-high S$6 surcharge will improve the road congestion.

"We already pay so much for our cars, why would an extra S$1 stop us from driving," said the marketing manager, 37.

Drivers, many of whom said they did not have flexible work arrangements, insist they are not likely to wake up earlier, or shift their journeys from the peak period just to pay less.

A check yesterday morning found that westbound traffic slowed to a crawl along the ECP (Fort Road) stretch at 8.30am, although roads started to clear within 15 minutes. The situation along the southbound CTE was no better, with the bottleneck building up after Braddell. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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Children breastfed longer are smarter


Want smarter kids? Breastfeed for at least a year, suggests a new study.

THE longer mums breastfeed, the smarter their kids. That's the gist of a new US study which explored the relationship between breastfeeding duration and cognitive skills of children later in life.

The overarching conclusion? Breastfeed as long as you can – at least until they're a year old – to boost your kids' IQ.

For their study, published by JAMA Pediatrics, researchers who followed over 1,300 mums and children found that longer breastfeeding duration was associated with better language skills at the age of three, and improved verbal and non-verbal intelligence at the age of seven compared to kids who were formula-fed.

"These findings support national and international recommendations to promote exclusive breastfeeding through age six months and continuation of breastfeeding through at least age one year," the authors conclude.

And while most women in the US will start their babies off with breast milk, by the age of six months, 35% of women have stopped breastfeeding, notes an accompanying editorial. That figure drops to 20% among African-American women.

The latest study builds on previous research which likewise found that breastfed children showed improved brain development compared to formula-fed babies.

A 2010 study out of Oxford University, for instance, found that as little as four weeks of breastfeeding in a newborn baby had significant, long-term effects on cognitive development later in life.

After following up with the children to the age of 14, scientists found that their test scores in reading, writing and math were notably higher in breastfed kids, compared to their counterparts. – AFP Relaxnews


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Making their mark


Actors with disabilities are moving front and centre on prime time.

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