Jumaat, 23 Ogos 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Lee speaks to youth leaders on how he remains positive


BEING proud of what you are doing, and having thick skin: these are the two elements of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's resilience in the face of a hostile cyberspace.

At a dialogue last night with 60 youth leaders, Lee was asked by a participant from the Singapore Kindness Movement how he remains positive, for example on his Facebook page, when online commentators are unkind.

"First of all, you must not be ashamed of what you are doing," he said. "If there are some naysayers, you must decide if you have the majority with you or not."

He said that in cyberspace, "some generally disagree, some are just looking for things to disagree with you about".

"But if you want to do something for Singapore, you should not be deterred because there are some nasty postings. In public life, you must learn to have thick skin at the right places, in the right times."

While noting that it can be intimidating for those not in public life to be flamed online, he said: "I am in public life. You flame me, I'm flame-proof!"

Lee also told the audience that there are limits to how widely, and for how long, his government can consult the public before deciding on policy.

While he thought that the "Our Singapore Conversation" mass engagement exercise was very successful, Lee noted that if there was an emergency or "if you have a difficult situation and you must move quickly, you cannot spend one year talking about it".

Citing as an example the issue of whether to raise taxes, he said "we will never finish the discussion".

"But one day, if I need to, I have to decide and do this, and persuade the people." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Gay man applies for protection against workplace prejudice


A FORMER Robinsons employee filed an application at the High Court for constitutional protection against the workplace discrimination of homosexual men.

Lawrence Bernard Wee Kim San, 40, had previously brought a suit against his former employer in December 2012, claiming to have been harassed into resigning because he is gay. The suit has been dismissed on purely contractual grounds.

In filing the application, Wee cited Article 12 of the Singapore Cons­titution, which states that "all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law". He sought the Court to declare that this is so regardless of sexual orientation.

His lawyer M. Ravi, said that there is a lack of guarantee by the courts for equal treatment under the Constitution for homosexual men, because Singapore has no legislation that prohibits employment discrimination against gays.

"This is a glaring omission," wrote Wee in his affidavit. Ravi said that this is especially so, given that Singapore has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which would protect lesbians. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Ex-driver fined over man's death


A FORMER mini-bus driver who caused the death of a pedestrian by negligence was fined S$8,000 (RM20,632).

Mohd Hanafi Maulud, 53, was also banned from driving for eight years after he admitted to causing Ayasamy Soundarajan's death while making a right turn into Bedok North Road last November.

A district court heard that Hanafi was driving the vehicle along the Bedok Reservoir Road at about 6.20am on Nov 21. As he approached the signalised junction of Bedok Reservoir and Bedok North roads, he noted that the traffic signal showed only a green light without a green right-turning arrow.

Hanafi made a right turn into Bedok North Road and knocked into the 53-year-old pedestrian. Ayasamy was pronounced dead at 6.53am. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.S. repositions naval forces, no decision on Syria strike


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday was repositioning naval forces in the Mediterranean to give President Barack Obama the option for an armed strike on Syria, although officials cautioned that Obama had made no decision on military action.

A defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. Navy would expand its presence in the Mediterranean to four destroyers from three.

Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, en route to Asia, said Obama had asked the Pentagon for options on Syria, where an apparent chemical weapons attack that killed as many as 1,000 civilians has upped pressure on Washington to respond.

"The Defence Department has responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies," Hagel said. "And that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options - whatever options the president might choose." He did not elaborate.

The defence official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the USS Mahan, a destroyer armed with cruise missiles, had finished its deployment and was due to head back to its home base in Norfolk, Virginia. But the commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet has decided to keep the ship in the region, the defence official said.

The official stressed the Navy had received no orders to prepare for any military operations regarding Syria.

Obama's senior national security advisers will convene at the White House this weekend to discuss U.S. options, including possible military action, against the Syrian government, another U.S. official said on Friday.

A senior State Department official said no final decisions were expected from the meeting, pending a further review of intelligence on the attack. Secretary of State John Kerry planned to attend via videoconference. The meeting was expected to take place on Saturday.

The U.S. president has been hesitant to intervene in Syria's 2 1/2-year-old civil war, sentiments he repeated earlier on Friday.

But, in a development that could increase the pressure on Obama, American and European security sources said that U.S. and allied intelligence agencies had made a preliminary assessment that chemical weapons were used by Syrian forces in the attack near Damascus this week.


The security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the assessment was preliminary and, at this stage, they were still seeking conclusive proof, which could take days, weeks or even longer to gather.

Opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad braved the front lines around Damascus to smuggle out tissue samples from victims of Wednesday's mass poisoning,.

The Syrian government denies being responsible and has in the past accused rebels of using chemical weapons, an allegation that Western officials have dismissed.

In his first public comments since Wednesday's attack in the Damascus suburbs, Obama called the incident a "big event of grave concern" and one that demanded U.S. attention, but said he was in no rush to get war-weary Americans "mired" in another Middle East conflict.

Members of Obama's National Security Council, the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies met at the White House late on Thursday, but made no decisions on what to recommend, officials said.

One U.S. official acknowledged that the participants in Thursday's White House meeting aired "differing viewpoints," but rejected the notion that the administration, whose Syria policymaking has been marked by internal dissent in the past, was sharply divided on a response.

"It's not like people were screaming at each other," the official said.

International powers - including Russia, which has long shielded Assad from U.N. action - have urged Assad to cooperate with a U.N. inspection team that arrived on Sunday to pursue earlier allegations of chemical weapons attacks.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said there was "some evidence" of chemical weapons use in the latest incident, but stopped short of saying an official conclusion was reached.

While the West accused Assad of a cover-up by preventing the U.N. team from visiting the scene, Moscow said the rebels were impeding an investigation.

The United Nations released data showing that a million children were among refugees forced to flee Syria, calling it a "shameful milestone."


While the preliminary U.S. assessment was that Assad loyalists carried out Wednesday's attack with high-level authorization, one U.S. source closely monitoring events in the region said it was also possible that a local commander decided on his own to use gas to clear the way for a ground assault.

"What we've seen indicates that this is clearly a big event, of grave concern," Obama said in an interview on CNN's "New Day" program that aired on Friday.

Asked about his comment - made a year and a day before the toxic fumes hit sleeping residents of rebel-held Damascus suburbs - that chemical weapons would be a 'red line' for the United States, Obama expressed caution.

"If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it," Obama said. "The notion that the U.S. can somehow solve what is a sectarian complex problem inside of Syria sometimes is overstated."

Obama's caution contrasted with calls for action from NATO allies, including France, Britain and Turkey, where leaders saw little doubt Assad's forces had staged pre-dawn missile strikes that rebels say killed between 500 and well over 1,000 people.

But two years into a civil war that has divided the Middle East along sectarian lines, a split between Western governments and Russia again illustrated the international deadlock that has thwarted outside efforts to halt the killing.

At Thursday's White House meeting, which lasted more than three hours, Obama's aides had a "robust discussion" of the diplomatic and military options available to the president, U.S. officials said.

Among the military options under consideration are targeted missile strikes on Syrian units believed responsible for chemical attacks or on Assad's air force and ballistic missile sites, U.S. officials said. Such strikes could be launched from U.S. ships or combat aircraft capable of firing missiles from outside Syrian airspace, thereby avoiding Syrian air defences.


Kerry, who took part in Thursday's meeting by secure video link, advocated the use of air strikes in White House meetings in early June preceding an announcement of military aid to the rebels, a person familiar with the talks said. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey argued that such a mission would be complex and costly.

The White House on Friday reiterated Obama's position that he did not intend to put "boots on the ground" in Syria, and an administration official said Thursday's meeting also steered clear of the idea of enforcing a "no-fly" zone there.

Another possibility would be to authorize sending heavier U.S. weaponry, such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft rockets, to the rebels in addition to lighter arms approved in June. But even those limited supplies have yet to start flowing to the rebels.

The top Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee urged Obama on Friday to order air strikes against Assad's government.

Representative Eliot Engel cited Obama's statement that the use of chemical weapons by Assad's forces would cross a "red line" and cause the United States to act to halt such violations of international law.

"If we, in concert with our allies, do not respond to Assad's murderous uses of weapons of mass destruction, malevolent countries and bad actors around the world will see a green light where one was never intended," Engel wrote in a letter to Obama and obtained by Reuters.

With Obama's international prestige seen on the line, a former senior U.S. official said the suspected chemical attack was likely to prompt Obama to use limited force, but he did not expect him to try to topple Assad.

"They will feel obliged to do something because … the credibility issue is very high here," the former official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Obama's failure to confront Assad with the serious consequences he has long threatened would likely reinforce a global perception of a president preoccupied with domestic matters and unwilling to act decisively in the volatile Middle East, a picture already set by his mixed response to the crisis in Egypt.

Obama has shown no appetite for intervention. Polls by Reuters/Ipsos and others have shown that most Americans, weary of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are increasingly aware of the Syria conflict but remain opposed to U.S. involvement there.

(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Beirut, Mark Hosenball, Arshad Mohammed, Roberta Rampton, Jeff Mason, Andrea Shalal-Esa, Patricia Zengerle, Phil Stewart and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Warren Strobel and Peter Cooney)

Colombia peace talks suspended after FARC call for pause


BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's government and Marxist FARC rebels suspended their participation in peace talks in Cuba on Friday, complicating nine months of painstaking negotiations aimed at ending five decades of bloodshed.

President Juan Manuel Santos called his negotiating team home from Havana hours after the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, said it would "pause" the talks to review a government plan to put any peace deal to a popular vote.

It was the first interruption to the talks that began last November and a sudden dent to hopes the two sides would soon see the difficult talks through to the end, after recent comments from the FARC had given cause for optimism.

While the halt to talks will worry Colombians, analysts said there is little reason to suspect the two sides will not resume talks again.

Santos, who bet his political legacy on bringing peace to the Andean nation, sent a bill on Thursday to Congress that calls for a referendum on any peace accord during national elections in either March or May next year.

"The FARC has decided to pause the discussions at the table, to focus exclusively on analyzing the implications of the government's proposal," Pablo Catatumbo, one of the lead FARC negotiators, said in a statement.

Santos said discussions would only resume when the government considered it appropriate.

"We are going to assess their statement, their behaviour toward the government initiative (which aims) to accelerate the solution of the conflict," Santos said in a brief statement at Bogota's military airport.

"In this process, the one who makes pauses and establishes the conditions, is not the FARC."

The FARC has said repeatedly it sees a constituent assembly as the best way to enshrine the tenets of the peace accords in the country's constitution and does not trust that a referendum would protect agreements reached in Havana.

Colombians are desperate to see an end to the war that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions since it began in 1964. Santos is also eager to negotiate peace with the National Liberation Army, a smaller rebel group known as the ELN. He has said he wants the FARC peace accord by November.


In the final year of his four-year term, Santos has ruled out a constituent assembly and said the Colombian people must support any deals reached before an end to the war can be declared. Santos has not said if he will seek re-election.

He accepted the FARC's right to study the government proposal, but urged the rebel negotiators not to take too long.

"The FARC has left the negotiating table to study the proposal and it's legitimate and valid that it should, but time is passing and the patience of the Colombian people has a limit," Santos said earlier on Friday.

Some analysts say the unilateral decision by the government to seek a referendum goes against the spirit of the initial agreement that led to talks, in which it was clear both sides would decide jointly how to ratify any deal.

"This incident weakens the peace process," said Carlos Lozano, political analyst and editor of the left-leaning weekly magazine Voz. "But it is not at risk because it is just an incident and can be overcome."

The FARC has battled a dozen governments since it began as an agrarian struggle against rural inequality. Even while it has been severely weakened in the past 10 years by a heavy U.S.-backed offensive, it remains a formidable threat to the government and civilian population.

More than three dozen FARC commanders are in Havana working through a five-point agenda involving agrarian reform, reparation to victims, stemming the illegal drug trade, an end to the conflict and the FARC's inclusion in the political system.

The disruption in talks comes on the heels of several comments from the FARC in recent days that appeared to show irritation with comments from Santos, but the group also recently expressed optimism that progress had been made.

In a recent interview, Santos told Reuters the rebel leadership could face jail terms if peace were achieved. He also said FARC negotiators would need to return to Colombia's jungle and face capture or death in battle if talks collapse.

(Additional reporting by Nelson Acosta and Marc Frank in Havana and Monica Garcia and Fernando Peinado in Bogota; Editing by Peter Cooney and Ken Wills)

Guardian teams up with New York Times over Snowden documents


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Guardian has agreed with the New York Times to give the U.S. newspaper access to some classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, both papers said on Friday.

In a brief story posted on its website, the Guardian said it "struck a partnership" with the Times after the British government threatened the Guardian with legal action unless it either surrendered or destroyed files it received from Snowden about Government Communications Headquarters - Britain's equivalent of NSA.

"In a climate of intense pressure from the UK government, the Guardian decided to bring in a US partner to work on the GCHQ documents provided by Edward Snowden. We are working in partnership with the NYT and others to continue reporting these stories," the British newspaper said in a statement.

The Times' executive editor, Jill Abramson, confirmed the collaboration.

"We don't usually comment on our reporting before publication, but in this case we will make an exception since it is already public. The Times is reporting on material from The Guardian as well as other matters related to Edward Snowden," the Times quoted her as saying.

A source familiar with the matter said the partnership deal had been struck several weeks ago and that Abramson was personally involved in negotiating it.

The website Buzzfeed reported that Scott Shane, a Times reporter who covers national security and intelligence, was working on a series of stories expected to be published next month jointly with the Guardian.

The Guardian said in its story that its partnership with the Times would enable it to "continue exposing mass surveillance by putting the Snowden documents on GCHQ beyond government reach."

It said Snowden, who disclosed documents on U.S. internet and phone surveillance programs in June and has obtained asylum in Russia, was aware of the deal.

The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, revealed earlier this week that under the supervision of representatives of GCHQ, Guardian staffers had destroyed computer equipment containing Snowden files after the newspaper was threatened with possible legal action by senior British government officials.

Rusbridger said he had put British officials on notice that copies of material which had been destroyed had been sent outside British government jurisdiction.

British authorities say they launched a criminal investigation this week following the temporary detention and questioning at London's Heathrow Airport of David Miranda, domestic partner of Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil-based Guardian writer who has led coverage of leaks from Snowden and communicated directly with the former NSA contractor.

British officials have said that Snowden's leaks have gravely damaged national security and could put lives in jeopardy if more secrets are disclosed.

The Times and the Guardian previously collaborated on stories related to alleged phone hacking by British tabloid newspapers and on coverage of secret U.S. military and diplomatic documents made available by U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning to the WikiLeaks website.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Wentworth Miller says he's gay


The Prison Break actor comes out of the closet, turning down an invite to a Russian film vestival.

Actor and screenwriter Wentworth Miller, best known for his leading role in the Fox television drama Prison Break, came out as a gay man yesterday in a letter declining an invitation to attend a Russian film festival in light of Moscow's recently adopted anti-gay laws.

Miller, 41, turned down an offer to attend the St Petersburg International Film Festival as a "guest of honour" in a letter posted on the website of advocacy group GLAAD, which monitors media representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people and issues.

"Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes. However, as a gay man, I must decline," Miller wrote to festival director Maria Averbakh.

Miller wrote that he was "deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government", and did not want to attend a festival in a country where "people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly".

Russia's parliament banned the spread of gay "propaganda" among minors in a law passed in June, which includes imposing fines on those holding gay pride rallies. The move has attracted international condemnation.

Miller, who played incarcerated structural engineer Michael Scofield in Fox's Prison Break from 2005 to 2009, has recently turned his hand at screenwriting, penning the script for this year's dark thriller Stoker, starring Nicole Kidman. Miller's letter comes after Bravo channel host and executive producer Andy Cohen told E! News last week that he would not be co-hosting Donald Trump's Miss Universe pageant this year in Moscow because he "didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia." — Reuters

Rambo on TV?


Sylvester Stallone is in talks to do a Rambo television series.

Sylvester Stallone could soon be blowing stuff up and mangling people on the small screen.

The actor is in negotiations to take part in television series based on his iconic movie Rambo. Entertainment One is co-developing the project. Should Stallone sign on, he would be involved on a creative level, and could potentially reprise his role as Rambo.

Entertainment One is developing the project with Avi Lerner – the producer behind the 2008 film Rambo and the The Expendables movie series, which also stars Stallone – and Nu Image. Under the agreement, they will collectively develop the series and shop it to broadcasters in the US and internationally.

"I'm happy to be partnering with a prolific company like Entertainment One who has a track record of creating high quality programming for their broadcast partners around the world," Lerner said.

"And I'm excited by the prospect of collaborating again with my good friend Sly for an encore in this next phase of the Rambo legacy." — Reuters

Back on board, temporarily


Marg Helgenberger is staging a return to the crime lab for the 300th CSI episode.

Catherine Willows is back on the case ... at least for one night.

Former CSI: Crime Scene Investigation star Marg Helgenberger, who played Willows on the series until her departure from the series last year, will return for the CBS drama's 300th episode, which will air Oct 23 in the United States.

On the episode, Willows will help solve a cold case that has haunted the team for 14 years. The episode will be a call-back to the show's beginnings, as the team investigates a homicide in the home of a reclusive former casino mogul who was a suspect in a similar crime in 2000.

The CSI team recalls who they were and where they were in order to solve the cold case.

Helgenberger stars in the network's upcoming drama Intelligence, a high-tech intelligence operative enhanced with a super-computer microchip in his brain. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation returns for its 14th season on Sept 25 in the US. — Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Homes measuring 1,000 to 1,500 sq ft are affordable now


The trend for developers in Penang is to build smaller-sized stratified homes which are considered affordable in view of a cooling property market.

Henry Butcher Malaysia (Penang) vice-president Shawn Ong says in an interview that the trend started last year.

"It is easier to market a 1,000 sq ft condominium priced at RM550 per sq ft compared with a similarly priced 2,000 sq ft unit, as the smaller unit falls within the income range of most investors.

"The smaller stratified homes usually have built-up areas ranging between 1,000 sq ft and 1,500 sq ft, and are priced from RM500 per sq ft onwards.

"There is at least a 20% difference between the asking price and the actual transacted price for sub-sales properties," Ong says.

In the North-East district, the trend of developing "buy-to-let" high-rise properties, which have proven to be successful in United States, Hong Kong, and Singapore has caught on in prime locations such as Tanjung Tokong.

Developers such as BSG Property, the property arm of Boon Siew Group, see opportunities in building corporate suites which can be leased out for guaranteed returns in view of the growing tourism market and the shortage of hotel rooms in George Town.

Most of the smaller sized stratified properties, with built-up areas between 1,000 sq ft and 1,500 sq ft, are being developed in the South-West district of Penang and are priced between RM530 per sq ft and over RM600 per sq ft.

For the second half of 2013, some RM1.32bil worth of smaller affordable condominiums are being developed in the South-West district, which comprises residential-cum-commercial neighbourhoods such as Batu Maung, Balik Pulau, Sungai Ara, Bayan Lepas and Relau.

Ideal Property Sdn Bhd is launching the second phase of Imperial Residences which is located on a six-acre site in Sungai Ara. It will have a gross development value of RM470mil and the RM250mil Solaria condominium scheme in Bayan Lepas later this year.

"There are 816 condominiums in the three towers for the second phase of Imperial Residences while the Solaria project comprises 285 condominiums and 20 double-storey shops," its managing director Datuk Alex Ooi says.

The Solaria units have built-up areas of 1,130 sq ft and are priced from RM600 per sq ft onwards.

Ideal is currently undertaking some 1,200 condominiums in Bayan Lepas and Sungai Ara, which are over 80% sold, and are scheduled for completion in three years.

These are condominiums with built-up areas of 1,000 sq ft and above and are priced from RM400 per sq ft onwards.

SP Setia Bhd plans to launch the RM600mil Setia Sky Vista condominium project later this year in Relau.

"The Setia Sky Vista, comprising 400 condominiums in four blocks, is located on a 15-acre site," SP Setia Property (North) general manager Khoo Teck Chong says.

The built-up areas of the units ranged between 973 sq ft and 1,500 sq ft and the selling price starts from RM550 per sq ft.

Khoo says the group will also be launching the RM140mil Setia V Residence Tower B on a 1.8-acre site in the fourth quarter this year.

Besides these projects, the group will still have 56.8 acres of land in the South-West district to launch some RM1.13bil worth of properties.

"This includes projects for a RM148mil landed property project on a 20-acre site in Balik Pulau planned for next year," he says.

In the higher-end category, Mah Sing Group Bhd plans to launch a RM200mil project for Southbay City in Batu Maung comprising 100 condominiums, 126 office suites, and 12 two-storey shops in the fourth quarter 2013.

Group deputy general manager Yeoh Chee Beng says the residential units, in a 30-storey block, have built-up areas of 1,200 sq ft onwards.

"The offices, in an 18-storey tower, and shops have built-up areas that starts respectively from 600 sq ft and 1,050 sq ft onwards.

"The selling price for the properties are approximately RM1,000 per sq ft," Yeoh says.

BSG Property business development manager Chong Hock Aun says the group is undertaking the development of 242 corporate suites for The Landmark commercial-cum-residential scheme in Tanjung Tokong. This is scheduled for completion in 2017.

The 242 corporate units are in a 41-storey tower, which also has 66 residential condominiums. The residential units will have their own separate lift lobby.

The fully-furnished corporate suites, which have built-up areas ranging between 799 sq ft and 1,899 sq ft are targeted at investors who are looking for steady returns, as there is a 6% guaranteed rental returns per annum for two years, according to Chong.

"They can either live in the units, which are designed for family dwelling and corporate use, or lease it.

"This is a low-risk real estate investment scheme, as the properties will be rented out on a daily basis by a reputable hotel operator.

"The targeted segments are the tourism and the corporate markets.

"This scheme has been tried and tested and proven to be successful in countries such as United States, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

"We will explore more such 'buy-to-let' schemes in the future," Chong says.

According to the Penang Valuation and Property Services Department report, the volume of residential property transactions for the first quarter 2013 declined by 15.7% to 4,200 units from 4,981 units in the same period of 2012.

Henry Butcher Penang vice-president Shawn Ong says the slowdown in residential property transactions will continue in the second half due to tighter credit conditions imposed by banks.

"There is still interest in property purchases. However, due to the high and unreasonable pricing, property investors are waiting for prices to readjust before buying," he says.

Raine & Horne Malaysia (Penang) director Michael Geh says that both the value and volume of transactions will contract this year by double-digits.

According to the latest National Property Information Centre's (Napic) report, there is an existing stock of 367,158 units of residential properties in Penang in the second quarter 2013, compared with 366,265 units in the previous quarter.

The report says until the second quarter of 2013, there is an incoming supply of 48,076 units, while 45,153 units are under construction.

The planned new supply for the second quarter is 46,610 units, the report adds.

According to NAPIC, the total transactions of residential properties in Penang dropped to 23,266 in 2012 from 30,674 in 2011.

The total value of transactions has also dropped to RM7bil in 2012 from RM7.7bil in 2011, the Napic report said.

"However, the average price of a unit has increased by 21% in 2012 compared with 2011," Ong says.

Newspapers and radio still on growth path


TRADITIONAL media, namely newspapers and radio, are still the advertisers' preferred choice. They are the only media monitored by Nielsen − other than pay TV − to register advertising expenditure (adex) growth last month.

According to Nielsen, newspaper and radio adex in July grew 4.1% and 12.4% respectively compared with a year earlier, while ad spend for pay TV surged 74.2%. The increase in share of voice for pay TV in 2013 was partly due to additional channels being monitored, according to Nielsen.

The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) president Datuk Johnny Mun says newspapers and radio are still considered to be among the most effective forms of media.

"Traditional media have always been the driving force for marketers and advertisers when it comes to reaching their target audience. Digital is growing and is still in its infancy stage.

"But the reach of traditional media, such as newspapers and radio, is still considered the stronghold. It's still strong compared with what most people think."

An industry observer concurs that traditional media are still a preferred choice for most advertisers.

"It's still considered a safe bet. Yes, digital advertising is growing but many are still testing the waters when it comes to this medium."

Total adex in July, excluding Internet ad spend, rose 16.7% to RM1.2bil from RM1.03bil a year earlier. For the first seven months of the year, total adex grew 19% to RM7.25bil from RM6.10bil a year earlier.

Excluding pay TV, adex grew only 1.9% for the January-July period.

The product/service categories with the highest ad spend in the first seven months of 2013 were local Government institutions, women's facial care, fast-food outlets, mobile line services and haircare products.

Nielsen measures advertising spending based on published rate cards, except for outdoor ad spend which is based on actual spending.

Starcom Malaysia managing director Nick Drew says he expects total adex to record single-digit growth, ranging between 5% and 6%, this year.

For comparison, the global advertising market is expected to grow 3.5% this year, a repeat of last year's growth (based on the forecast by ZenithOptimedia).

"The word which I am sure everyone is using, is cautious. Despite the gross domestic product growth in Malaysia, the marketplace remains relatively cautious," he says.

This week Bank Negara revealed that the economy grew by 4.3% last quarter, but it revised downward its growth forecast for the year to between 4.5% and 5%.

On the perception that multinational companies were waiting until after the general election (GE) to spend on advertising, Drew says that Starcom's multinational clients had actually continued to spend around the GE period.

"If you take out the Government spending, it is still the traditional product categories like toiletries that drive adex growth. The top advertisers are still Unilever, Nestle and Samsung," he says.

According to Nielsen's data, Unilever was the country's biggest advertiser in the January-July period. It boosted spending by more than 60% year on year. Rounding up the top five advertisers list are the Prime Minister's Department, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Samsung.

Drew says Malaysia is seeing about 20% growth in digital billings, noting that even globally, digital is still the fastest growing advertising medium.

Two divisions boost Scomi Q1 profit


PETALING JAYA: Scomi Group Bhd posted a net profit of RM1.48mil on revenue of RM377.49mil for the first quarter ended June 30, buoyed by an overall increase in gross profit margins and a higher profit posted by its oilfield services and marine services divisions.

As Scomi Group and its subsidiaries had changed their financial year-end to March 31 from Dec 31 previously, no comparative figures from a year earlier apply.

Revenue rose 15% to RM377.49mil from RM327.8mil in the preceding quarter, as its results continued to improve for the third successive quarter, driven by its energy services unit, it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia.

"Strong demand for drilling fluids and drilling waste-management solutions in Malaysia, Thailand, Turkmenistan and West Africa contributed significantly to the group's financial performance," it said.

The company's listed oil and gas unit, Scomi Energy Services Bhd (formerly known as Scomi Marine Bhd), recorded a net profit of RM23.52mil on revenue of RM320.9mil for the quarter.

The 13.3% increase in revenue from RM283.2mil in the preceding quarter was mainly due to its oilfield services segment, which recorded a higher revenue from South-East Asian markets, particularly Malaysia, as well as from West Africa, due to increased drilling activities.

"For marine services, the higher tonnage transported and increased utilisation rates of vessels contributed to increased revenue compared with the preceding quarter," it said.

However, its transportation solutions arm, Scomi Engineering Bhd, saw a net loss of RM16.5mil on the back of RM56.62mil in revenue.

It attributed the RM14.9mil pre-tax loss to net unrealised foreign exchange losses of RM14.7mil from both the Mumbai and Sao Paulo Line 17 projects, as the Indian rupee and Brazillian real had weakened. Its income was contributed by the progress of its projects in Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Three students held over m-cycle thefts


IPOH: Police have arrested three students at Kampung Seri Kinta here for motorcycle thefts.

According to Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Sum Chang Keong, police acted on a tip-off and ambushed the trio at a house in the village at about 1pm on Tuesday.

"During the ambush, we arrested two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old.

"Two motorcycle engines, two motorcycle frames, tools used to steal motorcycles and dismantled motorcycle parts were recovered," he said.

"We are trying to determine the scope of the trio's activities and their modus operandi," he said during a press conference here yesterday.

On a separate case, ACP Sum said police had solved a car theft reported on Aug 8 with the arrest of two men on Tuesday.

"A police MPV patrolling Taman Puncak Jelapang Maju noticed two men in a silver Honda Civic behaving suspiciously at about 5pm.

"When the officers approached the men, they sped off but lost control of the car and crashed about 1.5km away.

"One of the men was arrested on the spot while another was caught an hour later at Taman Rishah," said ACP Sum, adding that police found two parang, a screwdriver, tape, masks, keys and a bag in the car.

The two men are now under remand.

The owner of the Honda Civic, construction worker Wong Loo Kheong, 48, was present to retrieve his vehicle and thanked the police for solving the case.

Sundry shop owner gets rude awakening


IPOH: A sundry shop owner got the shock of her life when she woke up and found a masked man brandishing a parang at her in her Cameron Highlands shophouse.

The 23-year-old woman had woken up at 4pm on Wednesday when she heard a loud noise and went out to investigate.

"When she saw the man, she screamed but was forced to keep quiet by the robber, who later rounded up her three family members into a room," Cameron Highlands OCPD Deputy Supt Wan Mohd Zahari Wan Busu said.

"The man and his three accomplices then ransacked the place before fleeing in the victim's van," he said.

DSP Wan Mohd Zahari said the suspects made off with valuables and jewellery worth about RM88,000.

The van was found abandoned a few kilometres from the scene at about midnight the same day.

Former Pulau Tikus rep vents displeasure via Facebook


GEORGE TOWN: Former Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai is venting his displeasure online after he was dropped as the director of Penang International Halal Hub.

The controversial Koay, who is from DAP, said in his Facebook posting that he tendered his resignation after he was ordered to do so by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is the party secretary-general.

"I will release more inside information via Facebook," said Koay, who on Tuesday posted a Chinese proverb ri jiu wei bi sheng qing, dan ri jiu yi ding jian ren xin (time might not forge a closer relationship but it definitely shows the true colours of a person).

Koay told Chinese daily Kwong Wah Yit Poh the following day that he has more information to reveal on Facebook, just like "new developments in a soap opera".

He said the proverb referred to Lim, but did not elaborate.

Koay added that he was still director of Penang Global Tourism Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Penang Development Corporation.

However, Koay texted that he has "no comments" when contacted by The Star.

On Jan 11, Koay was suspended for six months by DAP, which was later reduced to one month, for not attending a crucial meeting in the state assembly on Nov 1, 2012, meant to pass the Penang Constitutional Enactment (Amend­ment) Bill 2012. The Bill was intended to prevent party-hopping among Penang state assemblymen.

Three days into his suspension, Koay removed all DAP logos from his service centre and announced that he would serve his constituents as an "independent" representative.

Koay's wife's Facebook posting during that period also became a talking point after she stated that her husband was in that situation as he did not pray to the tokong (deity).

Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press reported that Lee Su Li posted in Chinese: "Teng Hai, Teng Hai! You pray in almost all the temples in Penang but you forget to pray to 'The One'".

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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'Fifty Shades Of Grey' may have found its star


Producers are eyeing actress Dakota Johnson to star in the highly-anticipated movie.

The Fifty Shades Of Grey rumours are flying fast and furiously on the Universal lot as the film – set to fog up theatres less than a year from now – prepares to finally tie down its all-important cast.

The latest actress to emerge as a serious contender for the coveted role of Anastasia Steele is Dakota Johnson, the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. Johnson started out as an IMG model before transitioning to acting and launching a movie career, including a memorable scene with Justin Timberlake in The Social Network.

At this point, nothing is firm – Johnson is just one of the up-and-coming starlets currently being considered to play Steele, according to individuals familiar with the project. At the very least, interest in Johnson indicates the type of actress the filmmakers are considering for Anastasia: She's 23 years old, and though she isn't quite a movie star (yet), she has acting credibility and a rising feature career.

Representatives for Johnson and Universal had no comment.

Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) is directing from a script by Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr Banks), who adapted the erotic literary sensation by E.L. James. Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti are producing Fifty Shades Of Grey, which is set up at Universal Pictures and Focus Features.

By all accounts, the part of Anastasia Steele is a potential star-maker, which means there's limited upside for an established star; and the chosen actress will have to be comfortable with on-screen nudity and kinky sex. Johnson may not be a household name, but as a former model, she's already comfortable flaunting her body for the camera.

While Fifty Shades has not been offered to anyone officially, several rising actresses are believed to have taken themselves out of the running, including Shailene Woodley and Alicia Vikander. Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid Love) – like Johnson, a young model with a budding acting career – was also considered at one point.

Dakota Johnson 

In the Twilight-inspired book, James describes Anastasia as an average 22-year-old girl with delicate features such as long, dark brown hair (Johnson is usually blonde, but has gone brunette before), pale skin, big blue eyes, full lips and an upturned nose (the one feature Johnson lacks). Slender and petite, she's described as pretty – but not too pretty.

Johnson got Hollywood's attention with her scene-stealing turn as a college girl who sleeps with Timberlake's character in The Social Network – which was also produced by De Luca and Brunetti. The last time an actress with a bit part in The Social Network was rumoured for a high-profile literary adaptation, Rooney Mara won the role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

After supporting roles in 21 Jump Street, The Five-Year Engagement and Beastly, Johnson landed her own Fox TV show, Ben And Kate. She also recently appeared in the series finale of The Office and next stars alongside Aaron Paul in DreamWorks' action movie Need For Speed. Johnson will soon begin filming Michael Almereyda's Cymbeline.

As for the role of Christian Grey, the movie website Twitch reported earlier that producers are looking to cast Pacific Rim star Charlie Hunnam as the kinky billionaire. Hunnam would fit the project's Anglo bent, as Taylor-Johnson, James, Marcel and Universal co-chair Donna Langley all hail from overseas. That said, an individual familiar with the project tells TheWrap that a decision regarding Christian's casting won't be made until after the filmmakers know who will play Anastasia.

Back when Taylor-Johnson won the director's chair in June, TheWrap reported that Felicity Jones was being considered to play Steele, though there doesn't appear to have been any movement on that front. But the clock is running out on Fifty Shades Of Grey, and Universal needs to get the cameras rolling before Halloween to make their date. — Reuters

A face for movies


Lily Collins makes a huge career leap with The Mortal Instruments.

The lovely Lily Collins is getting her share of crazy. "We were doing a mall tour of different cities," said the 24-year-old star of The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, which is released today in Malaysia. "And we were meeting all these fans, which is great, because they're the people who are responsible for where we are."

Uh-huh. Yeah. And?

"One girl fainted when she saw Jamie," Collins said of co-star Jamie Campbell Bower. Another showed Collins her runes – mystical marks, etched or tattooed onto the skin, and corresponding to those borne by the characters in the Cassandra Clare novels on which the movies are being based.

Better yet: "One named their baby after Jace," Collins said of the character played by Bower, who – like Collins' character, Clary Fray, is a Shadowhunter, dedicated to hunting down demons.

"It's crazy," the actress said, in the way one does when stating the obvious. "Maybe I wouldn't name my baby after Jace, but people are passionate about these stories. And the first one's not even out yet and they're acting this way."

The first one – City Of Bones – is just the beginning of what everyone involved hopes will be a series to rival (or surpass) the Harry Potter, Twilight and Percy Jackson franchises. The author, Clare, has just finished the sixth in her kitchen-sink fantasy series, and while the first movie adaptation is new in theatres, Collins and company will start shooting the second title, City Of Ashes. The other books in the series are MI: City Of Glass, City Of Fallen Angels, City Of Lost Souls and City Of Heavenly Fire).

"We are signed up for three," Collins said of her principal co-stars. "But, when you take into account that Cassandra is now publishing the sixth one, it could go longer. When you take on a series like this, you can never assume it's going to grow to that many, but you hope you'll get the opportunity to do a character for as long as people want you to do it."

The daughter of rocker Phil Collins, the actress was born in Surrey, England, but after her parents' divorce, she moved with her mum to Los Angeles, where she was educated, majoring in broadcast journalism at University of Southern California. Having begun acting on British TV at age two, Collins has more recently been seen in the fantastical Mirror Mirror, where she played Snow White to Julia Roberts' evil Queen; Priest, in which Paul Bettany hunted vampires; and the less phantasmagorical Stuck In Love (formerly Writers) with Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly, and The English Teacher, with Julianne Moore and Nathan Lane.

"The new Audrey Hepburn!" declared one British website, after Collins did a retro-Hollywood photo spread for the London Tatler magazine. She does have a face for movies, though she doesn't want them full of shadows and ghouls. Not all the time.

"Since I finished filming the first one," she said of Mortal Instruments, "I did a film in Dublin called Love, Rosie, which is really the opposite kind of movie, I play a mum, 10 years older, British. Since day one, from The Blind Side to Priest, Mirror Mirror to The English Teacher, I've made a conscious effort to switch it off and have people seeing me do different characters. Because the last thing I want is to get pigeonholed."

It's a comfortable trap. "But I think when you look at Jennifer Lawrence and Kristen Stewart," she said, referring to the stars of Hunger Games and the Twilight movies, "they've been able to do a franchise and still do other things, and have an identity aside from those movies."

Mortal Instruments could offer a warm embrace, or a stranglehold. According to Publisher's Weekly, Clare has 12 million books in print domestically (US), 24 million internationally, and her sales have jumped 150% since last year, presumably on the strength of the movie hype. Curiously enough, when the author was getting started, publishers wanted her to change her central character, Clary, from female to male. They had other reservations, too, in those pre-Twilight days (City Of Bones was published in 2007; the initial Twilight movie was released in 2008).

"They said, 'Who's going to be interested in werewolves and vampires?'," Collins laughed. "I know, right? But Cassandra was very passionate and confident that having a young female heroine was important."

What's also important – and could be a key in whether Mortal Instruments takes off the way other demon-populated movie series have – is that the core story works in or out of the supernatural.

"It's so great to portray a young woman who's not afraid to be vulnerable and confused," said Collins. "A young woman who is going through an identity crisis about life and love, and searching for her mother (Lena Headley) and her own voice ... At the same time, the vampires make it alluring – because people love the unknown. It's sexy. They're from an otherworldly place, a fantasy world."

But director Harald Zwart, she said, wanted a movie that would work in a world of Shadowhunters and demons, or in New York City – the same place, in the case of Mortal Instruments.

"He wanted the characters to have the same emotional outcome regardless if they were fantasy characters or real," said Collins. "And it was important for him that we play them that way." — Newsday/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

  • The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones opens in cinemas nationwide today.
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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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Stolen: Escape From Syria


FIRST there is the tale. Then there is the teller. And finally there is the book.

So let us start with the tale, which is an extraordinary and exciting account of a mother's escape from war-torn Syria with her six-year-old daughter. It was on Wednesday, Sept 7, 2011, that Mostafa Assad arrived at the Cyprus home of Louise Monaghan and their daughter, May, ostensibly to take May to the beach.

In recalling the worst day of her life, Monaghan claims that she knew something was wrong from the start and that the husband she had recently divorced was behaving oddly. But May went off with her father and
Louise went off to work. When she called his mobile phone a little later on, there was no answer. When she went to the beach to find them, they were not there.

Mostafa, it transpired, had abducted his daughter and taken her to Syria, his country of birth. The timing was significant: the next day May was to have started at an international school. Mostafa, despite not practising the faith himself, wanted her brought up as a Muslim. His solution was to take her, despite
her having no valid passport and being on a stop list, from Cyprus and into Turkey, then out of Turkey and into Syria.

From this point on, Monaghan's sole reason for living was to get her daughter back. At first this involved pretending to play along with Mostafa's wishes and join them in Syria to reunite as a family, despite the recent divorce and the fact that Mostafa already had a wife and two children back home.

Whilst doing everything that she and her sister Mandy could to get official support and intervention, she assured Mostafa that she would join him. Getting into Syria was the easy part; it was getting out again with May that proved the tricky bit.

From this point on, the story is one of subterfuge, bribery, people smugglers and incompetent officialdom. It climaxes with Monaghan and May walking over mountain passes to reach Damascus and into the
relieved arms of the Irish Embassy.

So far, so good; it is an impressive act of courage and fortitude, a heartwarming tale of a mother's absolute love for her child. And that, no doubt, is the story that Monaghan and her co-author wanted to tell.

Now for the teller. Stolen is a very personal account and it is also, as far as one can tell, an honest one. But it is staggering how many bad life decisions one person can manage to make. Monaghan's relationship with Mostafa was clearly doomed from the start. Almost immediately after meeting her he proved to
be controlling and over-possessive: "Looking back on things now, I believe that from day one he was either following me himself or he had one of his friends or his cousin doing it for him and reporting back."

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but even at the time her far more sensible sister, Mandy, saw straight through him. So did her father.

So did her friends. And even one of his own family warned her not to get involved with him because he was a bad lot. When they lived together she paid all the bills and all the expenses and he contributed nothing.

He used her car. He refused to let her go out in the evenings whilst he went out until the early hours of the morning. He swore at her and repeatedly beat her. He was abusive and controlling to an extreme degree. Yet despite just about every warning sign you could ask for, and knowing all this, she still married him.

On this level, it is almost impossible to sympathise with Monaghan and even less possible to empathise with her. She is startlingly naive, ill-informed, irresponsible and stubborn. Her complete lack of common sense even extends to her choice of clothes as she escapes from Syria: she has uncovered blonde hair, a short dress, tights and wedge shoes. Her redeeming feature is her determination to do what she believes to be right for her child, whom she clearly loves deeply. But, my goodness, she taxes the reader's patience.

And so, finally, there is the book. Louise Monaghan wrote her story with Yvonne Kinsella, a journalist and friend. I can only think that their intention was to allow the "authentic voice" of Monaghan to take precedence over style, grammatical accuracy and eloquence. That would be my kindest explanation and excuse for a book littered with infelicities from beginning to end. To take but one example: the incorrect (though increasingly common) use of the first person reflexive pronoun "myself" as in "between myself and her father" and "May and myself jumped into the back of the taxi". This occurs throughout the book, as does the excessive overuse of the word "lovely" to describe just about anything that Monaghan likes. It is one thing to opt for a simple, direct voice, but it is another to publish a work so clearly badly written.

So, there you have it: a tale more than worth telling, a deeply flawed teller and an ill-written and edited book. How much the last two features are likely to annoy you will probably determine whether or not you
submit to the tale. For me, it was just about worth it.

Go Big Or Go Home: Taking Risks In Life, Love, And Tattooing


I HAVE always liked Kat Von D, even when she was the annoying female tattoo artist in the hit reality TV series, Miami Ink. Despite her moody behaviour, her artistic talents were undeniable as she designed intricate tattoos on that show, specialising in black and grey portraits as well as intricate calligraphy. She knows how to put her clients at ease and had a good rapport with most of her colleagues, even after she moved on to star in her own reality TV series, L.A. Ink.

At least judging from what we could see on television, Kat seems like a nice, hardworking girl with little to no luck in the love department (she did infamously dat e Sandra Bullock's cheating ex-husband Jesse James and is now in an on-and-off relationship with Deadmau5).

But who knew that she is also a b estselling author on top of being one of the most sought after tattoo artists in Hollywood? I didn't.

Flipping through the book, one first notices the awesome artwork on each page – there seriously isn't one page that is not decorated in some way – and they are really amazing. Then, when you finally get to the
story, you will realise that Kat actually has some serious – but relatable to ordinary people – issues to talk about.

Here we learn that Kat has always wanted to sing in public but had never found the courage to tell anyone about it ... until now.

"I wanted to sing out loud, and in front of anybody and everybody. And it wasn't because I was bred or because I had something to prove, but because something inside me demanded that of me. I hate to
blame it on 'universal calling', but I struggle to find any other way to describe it. Wanting to sing was like the urge I felt in my early teens to pick up a tattoo machine – there wasn't a hint of intent behind the doing. The doing just was."

Okay, so she wants to sing and has decided that the best way to get to it was to write about the process of making her dream come true. Of course, that's the way to do it (note: sarcasm). Obviously the people who
just get up and do it have totally missed cashing in on writing about their journey to achieving any of their dreams.

For those who have read many selfhelp books which advise you to carpe diem, believe in yourself and live and let live ... Go Big Or Go Home has nothing new to offer, unfortunately.

Kat tells her readers what they most probably already know except that unlike most writers, she accompanies her advice with lots of creative artwork – which makes the book a lot easier to read than other motivational books out there. (There were times when I just flipped through the pages admiring
the artw ork, not paying attention to the words right next to them.)

Oh, and to classify this as a motivational book is not completely accurate, but it's not incorrect either. What she hopes to tell through this book is that it is high time to take the bull by its horns, jump off a cliff
(with a parachute that works, of course), sing out of tune in a bar full of people and basically live life. But you already know that, right?

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Return to Shakespeare


Kenneth Branagh to make NYC stage debut with 'Macbeth'.

British actor Kenneth Branagh will make his New York stage debut next June when he brings his acclaimed take on William Shakespeare's Macbeth to the state.

However, the Oscar-nominee will not be appearing on Broadway. Instead, he plans to stage his version of the "Scottish play" at the Park Avenue Armory.

Joining him in all the palace intrigue will be Alex Kingston (ER) as Lady Macbeth. The pair starred in a critically heralded revival of the dark tragedy that was staged at the Manchester International Festival in Britain this summer. The show was performed at St Peter's Church, with the audience sitting on wooden benches giving them a front row seat to the carnage and elemental forces like rain and fire.

It marked Branagh's first stage performance of a work by the Bard in more than a decade. His return to the playwright who helped make him an international star in films like 1989's Henry V was appreciated.

In the New York Times, Ben Brantley hailed Branagh's take on the role and praised the shows lean and mean pacing.

"Fast, furious and unstoppable, time keeps rushing forward in this Macbeth, knocking the breath out of everyone, audience included," Brantley wrote.

Though theatrical legend holds that Macbeth is cursed – with some actors refusing to even utter its title while inside a theatre – the show has proved enormously popular in recent years.

Alan Cummings recently headlined a one-man take on the play that was well-received and Ethan Hawke is planning to star in a revival this fall. Park Avenue Armory said additional casting and performance dates will be announced in the coming months. — Reuters

In natural light


Early and rare images of The Beatles on tour in the United States – taken with no flash.

David Mapes loves the photograph in a very "Yesterday" kind of way.

The moody black-and-white image shows Beatles drummer Ringo Starr days after the band's 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, the TV programme where American teenage girls screamed and fainted and welcomed British rock 'n' roll to the United States.

Mapes is an art gallery owner in Taos, New Mexico, and knows a one-of-a-kind work when he sees it.

"It shows Ringo at the Washington Coliseum. He's sitting there dressed in a hat, with a cigarette in his hand, rings on his fingers," says Mapes.

"He's so contemplative. It's just such a natural moment captured on film."

The picture is one of 25 early images of the Fab Four for sale during a month-long exhibition at Mapes' David Anthony Fine Art gallery in Taos. But the story behind the pictures is what sets them apart.

Photographer Mike Mitchell, then just 18, shot them without a flash in the dim light of the Washington arena. The result is a collection filled with ghostly shadows and streaming light, not to mention a rare glimpse of one of pop culture's defining moments.

Mapes tells the story. "Mike was working as a photographer when he found out that the Beatles were coming to town. So he went over to a magazine and finagled press credentials, an unrestricted backstage pass. But he rushed to the show without a flash," the gallery owner said.

"So he made the best of things with his Nikon SP. He was horrified that he was having so much trouble without a flash. He did his best to use any ambient or stage light he could find."

Mitchell remembers how hot it was inside the coliseum. The crowd was deafening but the resonating bass beats were unmistakable. He said the Beatles were "on fire" that night.

Mitchell said his goal was simple. He wanted to make great portraits of the Beatles while discovering a little more about who they really were.

With no flash, he waited for the perfect time to snap the shutter. His photographs immortalised the important details of the moment in a bath of light while the rest faded into darkness. It was the concert that marked the beginning of his fascination with light.

"I think that was the first time in my life that I had to really look more deeply at light and take my cues from what the light was doing," he told the Associated Press. "I learned to sort of feel from the light."

But at the time, the results of his hard work didn't pay off.

"The negatives were so dark they were hard to print with the existing darkroom technology," said Mapes.

They sat in a shoebox for 50 years, he said, until recent advances – and 1,000 hours in front of the computer – changed all that.

"The negatives were digitally scanned and the new process allowed him to print them," said Mapes.

"While he was cleaning them, a friend realised what he had in his hands. He hooked him up with the Christie's auction house. And the rest is history."

The display of the 25 photos, mostly large black-and-white prints, will represent the first time the works have been exhibited since their 2011 unveiling at a Christie's auction in New York. The top price was US$68,500 (RM205,500). Mapes' versions will sell for between US$2,000 (RM6,000) and US$24,000 (RM72,000) he said.

Mapes said one photograph of the four band members, their backs to the camera with a thin ribbon of light outlining their silhouettes, made him tear up.

"It brought back memories of that time," he said. "I was a teenager and it was so much about love and everything was optimistic feeling." – Los Angeles Times/ McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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