Jumaat, 2 Ogos 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro


Bus tickets to Malaysia sold out

Posted:

THOSE hoping to take a coach to Malaysia next weekend but have yet to buy their tickets might have to change their plans.

Many coach companies have sold all seats, given that Hari Raya Aidilfitri and National Day fall on Thursday and Friday respectively to make an extra long weekend.

First Coach, Golden Coach, Aeroline and Causeway Link Express all reported that bus trips from Singapore to popular Malaysian destinations such as Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh are fully booked on Aug 7 and 8.

Meanwhile, Grassland Express & Tours and StarMart Express Air Asia Liner are also sold out for Aug 7, and have only the less popular night tickets left for the next day. Tickets are still available for Aug 9.

Coming back in time for the work week might also be tricky, as return trips for Aug11 have all been snapped up. Those for Aug 12 are quickly running out.

Coach companies attribute the spike in ticket sales to the fortuitous timing of the back-to-back public holidays.

"Singaporeans are all kiasu because of the long weekend," quipped Grassland Express & Tours ticket agent Stanford Ee, 65.

"We are very crowded, just like Chinese New Year."

Said Aeroline customer service officer Nashira Ersham, 25: "Many even called a couple of months earlier to check for tickets."

Most bus operators sold all their tickets as early as a month ago. To deal with the demand, several added more bus trips at a higher price.

According to a StarMart Express Air Asia Liner ticket agent, it will dispatch about twice as many buses for its Thursday evening trips to Kuala Lumpur.

These rides will, however, cost S$60 (RM150) instead of the usual S$30 (RM75).

While many are flocking to Malaysia next week, others like National University of Singapore student Alexis Ng prefer to skip the crowd.

"I'm not going this time because I want to avoid the jam," said the 23-year-old, who regularly visits her relatives in Penang.

"Besides, I usually prefer to fly because it's safer and more convenient." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Former minister fined for drink driving

Posted:

FORMER minister of state Chan Soo Sen said raising a toast at a charity event led to him being fined S$2,000 (RM5,100) and banned from driving for a year.

After admitting to drink driving, the 56-year-old said he had made the "careless" mistake of not getting someone to drive him home from the event where he had been drinking red wine with its organisers.

A father of two, Chan was a People's Action Party MP from 1996 to 2011 and had been a minister of state three times.

The traffic court heard yesterday that he had been travelling along Cantonment Road towards Outram Road when he was stopped at a police roadblock just before midnight on July 13.

An officer noticed that he "smelt strongly of alcohol" and he admitted to having had drinks. He failed a breathalyser test and was arrested. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Hun Sen vows to lead government

Posted:

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed to establish a government under his leadership despite allegations by the opposition party of massive electoral fraud.

Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) on Sunday claimed it had secured an estimated 68 of the 123 lower house seats, shading the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) which won 55.

The CNRP rejected the results, citing widespread voting irregularities, and vowed to press for nationwide protests unless an independent probe is launched.

According to the Cambodian constitution the kingdom's National Assembly must have "at least 120 members" and hold its first session within 60 days of the election, leaving the CPP well short by its own reckoning of the seats if the opposition chose to boycott parliament.

But in a defiant radio address yesterday the premier said his party has an "absolute majority" and will "proceed to set up the leadership of the parliament and government. They will not wait for you (the opposition)".

"There will be no stalemate... I am the Prime Minister. I will continue to be the Prime Minister," he added.

"The law does not specify how many lawmakers are needed for the first meeting."

He also urged the CNRP to join talks over participating in the next parliament.

The first parliament meeting will be convened by late September.

The CNRP has already called for a United Nations-backed investigation into allegations that 1.25 million legitimate voters were culled from the electoral roll, while more than one million "ghost names" and a further 200,000 duplicated names were added to the list.

Rainsy has said his party had in fact won a majority of 63 seats and repeated a vow to prevent the CPP "stealing victory".

In a statement, the opposition said its leader Sam Rainsy will announce the "CNRP's stand related to election results" on Tuesday.

Hun Sen, 60, a former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected from the murderous regime, has vowed to rule until he is 74.

He oversaw Cambodia's transformation from a nation devastated by the "Killing Fields" genocidal era in the late 1970s to become one of South-East Asia's most vibrant economies.

The premier – who has been in power for 28 years – is regularly accused of ignoring human rights and muzzling political freedoms. — AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio


Making their mark

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Actors with disabilities are moving front and centre on prime time.
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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates


Moroccan police break up protest against royal pardon of Spanish paedophile

Posted:

Rabat (Reuters) - Riot police broke up a protest by hundreds of Moroccan demonstrators late on Friday against a royal pardon for a Spanish paedophile serving a 30-year sentence for raping and filming children as young as 4.

In running clashes with the demonstrators, baton-wielding police prevented them from gathering in front of the Moroccan parliament in the centre of the capital Rabat, injuring several people including journalists.

The convicted paedophile is among 48 jailed Spaniards who were pardoned by King Mohamed VI on Tuesday at the request of Spain's King Juan Carlos, who visited Morocco last month.

"We are here to know who is responsible for that pardon. It is a shame, they are selling our children," Najia Adib, president of Don't Touch My Children association, told Reuters moments after she and her teenage daughter had been attacked by riot police.

The demonstration followed an online campaign by outraged activists. Protests were also reported in several other cities in the North African country.

Protesters demanded that the royal pardon be revoked and the Spaniard be brought back to jail. The government said the man had been expelled to Spain.

Hamid Krayri, a lawyer for families of the victims, named the paedophile as Daniel Vino Galvan and said he had been convicted 18 months ago by criminal courts in Kenitra, near Rabat, of raping and filming children aged between 4 and 15.

"He is a retired Spaniard who owns two flats here in Kenitra," Krayri, who is a member of Morocco's Human Rights Association, told Reuters. He said he had filed a complaint against Galvan three years ago when activists showed him discs containing footage of the Spaniard and his victims.

The royal palace made no immediate comment, but the Justice Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the pardon had been issued based on Morocco's national interests under the friendly relations between the two countries.

"That person is banned in Morocco's territory, he cannot return," Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid told Reuters on Thursday.

The king, like some other Middle Eastern rulers, often pardons prisoners on special occasions, such as Throne Day on July 30, but the decision to release the Spaniards at the request of the monarch of a former colonial power has riled many Moroccans.

"It is a big mistake. We want the annulment of the king's decision and apologies for the victim families and the Moroccan people," Abdelali Hamieddine, a member of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), the senior partner in Morocco's coalition government, said during the protest.

He said the government is not to blame because the pardon came from the royal palace.

"This is proof that our justice is a toy," said Hamza Mahfoud, one of the protest organisers.

Tunisian forces dismantle explosive in third bomb scare of day

Posted:

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian security forces dismantled a bomb found near the home of a military colonel on Friday, witnesses said, the third bomb scare to be reported in the same day.

Security forces have declined to officially comment on the incident, but some said privately that Islamist militants appear to be launching an intensified campaign against Tunisian security forces.

"I think the terrorists are trying to send a message to the army and security forces," a policeman near the site of the dismantled bomb said. "We've received the message and we're going to defend our nation from them, and they will not succeed."

On Monday, Islamist militants ambushed and killed eight soldiers in a remote region near the Algerian border, in one of the deadliest attacks in decades.

The assault followed two bomb attacks near security forces in Tunis, the first time the capital has suffered such attacks. No one was hurt.

The North African country is now struggling to combat rising instability amid a growing political crisis, as the secular opposition tries to oust the moderate Islamist-led government.

Tunisian forces also on Friday launched a heavy ground and air strike campaign on militants at Mount Chaambi near the Algerian border, a remote area where the army has been hunting Islamist militants since December.

Residents of the wealthy Menzah 9 district in Tunis said they had seen two men on a motorbike place a box near the house of a general next door and immediately phoned the police.

A Reuters reporter in the area saw policemen with dogs imposing a security cordon before dismantling the bomb.

"The box had a battery, a cord, and a letter in it. The police took the box away after dismantling the bomb," a resident said.

Earlier on Friday, a man in a neighbourhood 10 kilometres (6.3 miles) north of the capital was killed when he accidentally blew himself up preparing a bomb. Another man in a nearby suburb blew off his own hand as he prepared an explosive device. He was arrested and taken to hospital.

Security forces around the capital appeared to be on high alert, setting up checkpoints on several main streets around the capital.

(The story is refiled to add reporting credit)

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Eric Walsh)

U.S. issues global travel alert, cites al Qaeda threat

Posted:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States issued a worldwide travel alert on Friday warning Americans that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in August in the Middle East and northern Africa.

The State Department travel alert was based on the same intelligence information that prompted it to close 21 U.S. embassies or consulates this Sunday, a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula," its statement said.

It attributed the threat of attacks "between now and the end of August" to al Qaeda and affiliated organizations.

On Thursday, the department said U.S. embassies that would normally be open this Sunday would be closed that day because of unspecified security concerns.

On Friday, it released a list of the 21 diplomatic missions, including those in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Sudan, among other countries.

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, said on Friday that he and several other lawmakers met two days ago with Vice President Joe Biden on the threat.

"It's my understanding that it is al Qaeda linked ... and the threat emanates in the Middle East and in Central Asia," Representative Royce said CNN's "New Day" program.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Susan Heavey, David Lawder; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz


Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]
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The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

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The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews


Top money earner

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The Hollywood actresses who are raking it in.

Movies coming soon

Posted:

Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters – This sequel to Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief released in 2010 continues the quest of Percy Jackson and his friends who venture into the Sea of Monsters to look for the mythical Golden Fleece. And Percy learns that he has a half-brother. Starring Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Jake Abel and Leven Rambin.

The Smurfs 2 – The blue men must once again work with their human friends (Neil Patrick Harris) when Smurfette is kidnapped by Gargamel. Meanwhile Smurfette, not realising the imminent danger she is facing, has a fun time with Gargamel's newest creation – creatures called the Naughties. Katy Perry, Brendon Gleeson, Christina Ricci, the late Jonathan Winters, George Lopez and Anton Yelchin make up some of the voice cast.

Tales From The Dark 2 – Some of us are not even over Tales From The Dark 1, showing in cinemas last month, and the second part is already here. Since these films are based on Lilian Lee's stories, there are, presumably, plenty of tales to tell. Among the directors participating in this outing include Gordon Chan, Lawrence Lau and Teddy Robin.

Let the haunting begin

Posted:

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.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business


Factory rental price seen flat

Posted:

PETALING JAYA: The rental price for factory space is expected to remain flat this year despite stable demand for industrial buildings, say experts.

Midas Properties negotiator Justin Tia said there was steady demand for factory space within the Klang Valley.

"Demand is still there, but mostly for rental space rather than for purchase. Prices are considered high and many people are maintaining a wait-and-see approach," he told StarBizWeek.

Tia said buying into industrial buildings meant high renovation costs would have to be incurred by the purchaser.

"There is a lot of renovation cost to be incurred when the property is for their own use, and it usually takes a while to recover (that cost). So, many prefer to just rent."

Tia said the average price of factory space at Westports (Klang) was RM1 per sq ft and RM1.30 per sq ft for old and new buildings, respectively.

"In Shah Alam, it's RM1.20 per sq ft (old buildings) and RM1.80 (new buildings). We believe that rental prices of factory space would remain flat this year."

One industry observer concurred, saying: "With tighter credit control from banks, many choose to rent rather than buy."

According to CH Williams Talhar & Wong's 2013 Property Market Report, the asking monthly rentals for detached factories in the Klang Valley ranged between RM1.20 and RM2.50 per sq ft, while industrial land prices ranged from RM55 to RM85 per sq ft.

It said rentals had remained stable for properties in prime locations in the Klang Valley in 2012, with the bulk of the demand leaning towards warehousing as well as logistics facilities.

"In the future, the industrial property market, especially on semi-detached factories, is expected to further bustle due to the continuous active transactions.

"Semi-detached factories are moving towards more modern and contemporary designs which include modern fa├žade elements, bold and distinct image presence as well as a smart and intelligent interior layout."

It noted that industrial properties located within prime locations such as Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Kota Damansara and Puchong were expected to continue enjoying high demand in the second half of 2012, made even more attractive by government incentives.

Maybank CEO to focus on M&A

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]PETALING JAYA: Datuk Abdul Farid Alias, in his first day on the job as Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) head honcho, said he would focus on bringing the group to a higher level, particularly through mergers and acquisitions in the region to boost its income contribution from regional businesses.

AirAsia X aims to expand in North Asia

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia X Bhd, the long-haul, low-cost affiliate of the AirAsia Group, aims to grow the North Asia market, in particular, Japan and South Korea.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf


The Universe Versus Alex Woods

Posted:

Unpredictable, genre-defying, multi-layered. And always entertaining.

I'M sure authors don't like being compared to other authors – it smacks of a lack of creativity, usually. However, in the case of Gavin Extence, being compared to Mark Haddon cannot be a bad thing.

While Extence's debut novel, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, is certainly not a Haddon knock-off, admittedly there are shades of Haddon-esque influence, in particular from Haddon's award-winning The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (2003).

When the novel opens, Alex Woods, the titular protagonist, initially comes across as a typical teenager. He is 17, bored with his existence, wants adventure and is in search of something to quell his boredom and give his existence some meaning.

The search for meaning, the thirst for adventure and an "I-don't-give-a-damn" attitude contribute to the opening pages of the novel.

Our hero is making his way back to Britain from an extended trip on the continent. Extence does not waste time in informing his audience that Alex is stopped by customs in Dover with 113gm of marijuana and an urn full of ashes sitting next to him, and soon has an entire nation in an uproar over his supposed crimes.

While the customs officers scramble to figure out what to do with Alex, our protagonist remains calm, confident in the belief that he has not done anything wrong. To Alex, the marijuana and the urn full of ashes (both of which are explained through flashbacks later on in the novel) are mere props that happen to be illegal substances. ("What's a bit of marijuana going to do to anyone?" he innocently asks.)

In contrast to our first impression of Alex, Extence provides the first of many twists in his beautifully layered novel. Through flashbacks, for instance, we learn that Alex has had an unconventional upbringing, having been raised by a clairvoyant single mother which caused more damage than anything else – his mother was never able to warn Alex of the bullies that beat him up.

Alex also knows that the most dubious and random events can happen in life – he has the scars to prove it.

As the novel progresses, the novel's time frame spans five years, Alex from age 12 to 17. At different junctures in his life, improbable incidents occur, causing those scars, both physical and emotional. Though some of the incidents seem far-fetched and border on the ridiculous, they do provide lashings of humour.

Things take a change for the funnier when Alex meets reclusive widower Mr Peterson, who teaches Alex a thing or a dozen about life and about making the right choices. ("The choice you make today may not necessarily agree with you – or anyone else for that matter – tomorrow, but what the hell, you've made it and you learn to live with the consequences, be they good or crap," Mr Peterson tells Alex.)

Written in the first person throughout, Alex is the novel's voice and heart, sharing his thoughts and observations on life, death, and the causes and effects of one's behaviour.

Through Alex, Extence explores the idea of seeing every situation and the resulting consequence through to the very end, come hell or high water.

While Extence does explore some rather heavy issues – death and the meaning of life, anyone? – the author manages to phrase his thoughts in a way that engages the reader. Such explorations can fall flat in a mess of psychobabble that goes nowhere, but they don't in this case. Kudos to Extence for not taking himself too seriously, as the end result is both touching and thought-provoking and not at all preachy.

I believe part of the success of Extence's exploration of heavy subjects is due to the author's simple manner of writing. He may spend more than two chapters exploring death and its afterlife but his thoughts are filtered through the mind of a teenager, which makes the author's ideas and concepts easy to comprehend. Plus, Extence is not without humour – Alex's sarcastic insights about death make the subject more laughable than depressing.

Within the first three chapters, a variety of genres crossed this reviewer's mind. With a title like The Universe Versus Alex Woods, one would categorise the novel as New Age fiction with a slant towards psychology. However, with the opening chapter putting Alex at loggerheads with customs, the novel could also be a coming of age tale. As the novel progresses, there are also elements of a mystery/thriller. Like Haddon's The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time, Extence's The Universe Versus Alex Woodsis layered and defies pigeonholing.

Unpredictable, genre-defying and multi-layered, this is a beautifully crafted novel.

Bodyguard: Hostage

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Meet a new type of hero: kid bodyguards with scary talent.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies


Top money earner

Posted:

Angelina Jolie has topped Forbes magazine's annual list of top-earning actresses after pulling in an estimated US$33mil (RM107mil) in a year, marked by her decision to have a double mastectomy.

Last year's top earner Kirsten Stewart slipped to third in the list with US$22mil (RM71mil), behind Jolie and second-placed Jennifer Lawrence, whose Oscar for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook helped her pick up US$26mil (RM84mil).

Jolie's bumper earnings reflected her return to blockbusters with the 38-year-old having signed up to star in Disney's Maleficent, a new version of Sleeping Beauty which began filming last month and is due for release in 2014.

The film is the celebrated beauty's first since she revealed in May that she had undergone a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after being diagnosed as having a gene which gives her a very high chance of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.

The decision to go public over a choice influenced by the loss of her mother to ovarian cancer at the age of 56 was widely praised as empowering for other women facing a similar dilemma, and appears to have had no impact on Jolie's standing in the business.

"Hollywood hasn't shied away from Jolie," Forbes reporter Dorothy Pomerantz wrote. "She's still one of the few actresses who can demand a paycheck north of US$15mil (RM49mil) for the right movie."

Lawrence meanwhile earned relatively modest fees for her Oscar Best Actress role and for starring in the hugely successful first movie in The Hunger Games series. But, according to Forbes, she was able to leverage that success into much bigger cheques for the upcoming Catching Fire, which hits theatres in November, and for co-starring in the next X-Men film, Days Of Future Past.

Stewart's fortunes meanwhile appear to be on the wane, now that her mega-hit franchise, the Twilight series, has ended.

Former Friends star Jennifer Aniston placed four on the list with estimated earnings of US$20mil (RM65mil) while newcomer Emma Stone came fifth, with US$16mil (RM52mil). – AFP Relaxnews

Movies coming soon

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Smurfs 2 and Tales From The Dark 2.

Let the haunting begin

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]'The Conjuring' star Vera Farmiga talks about scary movies.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation


Malaysian duo's sous-vide cooking device successfully 'Kickstarted'

Posted:

PETALING JAYA: Two young Malaysians in the UK have successfully raised £128,961 (RM633,085) on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, one of the highest amounts ever pledged for a Malaysian-led initiative.

Co-founders Grace Lee and Tan Xi Yen surpassed their initial goal of £100,000 (RM490,912) a full five days ahead of their July 28 deadline.

Even three-time Olympian Josiah Ng did not enjoy the same success, as the cyclist only raised US$54,168 (RM175,314) in pledges out of an intended goal of US$200,000 (RM647,300) for a dual video sports camera project in 2012.

Codlo co-founders Grace Lee (left) and Tan Xi Yen.

Codlo co-founders Grace Lee (left) and Tan Xi Yen.

Now, Lee and Tan's compact sous-vide controller called Codlo, has commanded the attention and financial assistance of 1,139 backers on the crowdfunding platform in just one month, earning the project fourth place in Kickstarter's 'Most Funded' under its Food category.

In sous-vide cooking, food is sealed in airtight pouch - such as a Ziploc food bag - and cooked in a precisely heated water bath.

Favoured by top chefs in Michelin-starred restaurants since the 1970s, the method takes the guesswork out of cooking.

"Building a product to address the users' need was key to Codlo's success. It makes sous-vide cooking simple and affordable without sacrificing precision," said Lee when contacted by The Star Online.

As ingredients are cooked at a precise and controlled temperature, sous-vide cooking produces a "just right" result. The time-saving technique is touted as the end of overcooking and a way to retain maximum nutrition in gently-cooked food.

For the sake of steak

Lee was first exposed to the science of cooking during her training at Le Cordon Bleu London, a branch of one of the world's most-respected gastronomy schools.

"To make great food, you need to understand your ingredients well. For one, I was intrigued by the different coagulation temperatures for egg white and egg yolk," said the 28-year-old economics graduate of the experience that sparked her interest in the subject.

It was only after many failed attempts to cook the perfect medium rare steak that Lee finally discovered sous-vide cooking.

However, current sous-vide devices cost anywhere from £400 to £1,000 (at least RM2,000), and are either too bulky or too complicated for the home cook.

Given Tan's qualifications in manufacturing engineering, Lee turned to the 29-year-old for help in hacking together a functional prototype.

Both Cambridge University graduates have spent the last 10 years in the UK.

"We made our first sous-vide chicken breast, and it was super moist, juicy and rather mind-blowing … that's not something you normally say about chicken breast meat!" said Lee.

That culinary experience made them question existing presumptions of what food should taste like, so they set out to build something that would bring sous-vide cooking to the masses.

Kickstarter-ing on the right foot

Coming up with the idea was easy, but executing it well was the tricky part.

It was the duo's first attempt at designing, creating and manufacturing a cooking appliance, and the year-long effort on Codlo was bolstered by their complementary skill sets.

Kuantan-born Lee had food, finance, legal and operations experience, while Tan, a Johorean, provided his expertise in manufacturing, design and engineering.

"This helped immensely in the product concept creation stage. We have a team of 12 working on this, including us both: two product designers, two engineers, two product safety experts and four in manufacturing," said Lee.

The Codlo works in tandem with a rice or slow cooker.

The Codlo works in tandem with a rice or slow cooker.

Their creation aims to make sous-vide cooking easy, affordable and intuitive with the help of a rice or slow cooker, and will retail for at least £129 (RM638).

After considering sous-vide's niche market, Codlo's new approach to sous-vide cooking, and the fundraising needed to bring Codlo to production, they pinpointed Kickstarter as the perfect testing ground for their idea.

When asked about their ambitious bid to raise over £100,000 in only one month, Lee maintained that it was the time frame recommended by Kickstarter's extensive studies.

"Backers may lose interest in a project that lasts too long. Plus, running a good Kickstarter campaign takes a lot of effort and time!" she said.

The last Kickstarter project with Malaysian involvement, successfully raised US$1.4mil (RM4.53mil) on June 30 this year. The project, a 3D printer called Buccaneer, was initiated by Pirate 3DP Pte Ltd - a Singapore-based start-up co-founded by Malaysian Robert Chang.

The are three colour options for the Codlo.

The are three colour options for the Codlo.

Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing funding policy. According to the site, if a project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged.

The highest pledge they received was more than £500 (RM2,454), which earns an Uber Early Adopter reward.

"At that pledge level, backers get to receive and play with a pre-production unit early, test it and provide feedback, and receive another final unit once Codlo is shipping," said Lee.

The team also prioritised interaction with all their backers and benefited from instant feedback.

"During the campaign, we worked hard to modify our design after receiving suggestions to incorporate an interchangeable temperature probe," said Lee.

The team is expected to ship Codlos to their backers in March next year.

"It's time for us to work hard to bring Codlo to full manufacture and pass all the relevant product safety tests before we ship it out to our backers worldwide!" she added.

Codlo should be available in various regions at the same time, latest by mid-2014.

For a limited time only, pre-order Codlo at an introductory price of £99 (RM486). For more information, visit www.codlo.com.

Boat sinks off Tanjung Siang, 36 Indonesian illegals feared drowned

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]JOHOR BARU: An Aidilfitri "balik kampung" (returning home) trip for a group of Indonesian illegal immigrants ended in tragedy when 36 of them went missing and are feared drowned after the boat smuggling them out of the country sank about 13.55 nautical miles off Tanjung Siang, Kota Tinggi, Thursday night.

Major signalling problem temporarily halts KTM Komuter train service

Posted:

PETALING JAYA: The KTM Komuter train service has malfunctioned, and services to all destinations delayed indefinitely as at 9.50pm Friday.

"Due to major signalling problem @ track crossing near Bangsar, komuter services to all destination has been delayed indefinitely due to a major signalling problem," tweeted @ktmkomuter at 9.19pm.

The earliest indication of a breakdown was at 7:48pm when the same account tweeted that the train service was experiencing delays and apologised for the inconvenince.

However, some commuters were not as forgiving, such as Metzelder Siow (‏@siowhou); "No PA to passengers inside train regarding blackout to whole KTM Komuter line. I'm one of the victim who want to rush back home."

"So KTM Komuter is having blackout now and they keep quietly from passengers. Sell ticket and make us wait inside. @transitmy," he tweeted.

Similarly, Mohd Shaik.Firdaus:D (‏@M_am_U 2h) tweeted; "I got a train to catch in an hour, and I haven't even berbuka, ktmb you'll pay grrrr."

Other, such as Ken Chuan (‏@piercelkc) tweeted; "hello I have my ETS train in 805pm and now I still stuck at ktm komuter... Please be responsible.

He also attempted to claim the cost of the ETS (Electronic Train Service) ticket, which he had missed due to the delay by tweeting "@ktmkomuter how can you pay back my lost?"

He later received a reply from the @ktmkomuter account, asking for his contact details.

Calls to the KTMB Call Centre at 1-300 88 5862 were not successful as the line got disconnected a few seconds after hearing the ringing tone.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Cheers for Thai king as he leaves hospital

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[unable to retrieve full-text content]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.

Crematorium at revered Nepal site alarms Unesco

Posted:

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

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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[unable to retrieve full-text content]
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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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[unable to retrieve full-text content]
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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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15 ways to burn 300 calories

Posted:

Want to know how many calories you burn while playing your favourite sport?

WHEN it comes to weight loss, the math is simple: burn more calories than you eat. While certainly easier said than done, here are a few easy ways to shave off a few calories.

The following activities can burn 300 calories:

1. Frisbee: 80 minutes

2. Volleyball (relaxed game): 80 minutes

3. Walking: 60 minutes

4. Badminton: 54 minutes

5. Weeding: 52 minutes

6. Skateboarding: 48 minutes

7. Playing with kids: 48 minutes

8. Golf (while carrying clubs): 44 minutes

9. Hopscotch: 49 minutes

10. Cross-country hiking: 40 minutes

11. Rollerblading: 35 minutes

12. Tennis: 35 minutes

13. Biking (moderate): 30 minutes

14. Jogging: 24 minutes

15. Jumping rope: 24 minutes

Note: Values are based on data from Harvard Medical School. Calorie burn is for a person weighing 155 pounds/70.45kg.

Find out how many calories you'll burn with your favourite sport here: http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc. – AFP Relaxnews

The amazing story of IVF

Posted:

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The birth of Louise Brown, the world's first IVF baby, 35 years ago this month, was the start of a revolution in fertility treatment.
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The Star eCentral: TV Tracks

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Urban on 'Idol'

Posted:

Country singer Keith Urban returning as 'American Idol' judge.

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

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