Selasa, 4 Februari 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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Indonesia seeks to protect ancient tribe

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 07:54 PM PST

TANA TOA, Indonesia: Deep in a remote forest in the Indonesian archipelago, the Kajang tribe lives much as it has done for centuries, resisting nearly all the trappings of modern life.

Their lifestyle has drawn comparisons with the Amish in the US, but they live in even more basic conditions, residing in houses on stilts and dressing only in black sarongs and headdresses.

It is in stark contrast to even many rural areas of Southeast Asia's biggest economy, where the rapid growth of the middle class has led to an explosion in the number of vehicles on the streets and people with smartphones.

But fears have been growing in recent years that the traditions of the Kajang, who live in a densely forested area called Tana Toa on the central island of Sulawesi, are increasingly vulnerable.

Officials worry there is little protection for the forests considered sacred by the tribe in a country where environmental destruction is rampant and that a sudden influx of technology could overwhelm their way of life.

Now the local government in Bulukumba district is hoping it can use a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court of Indonesia as a launchpad to grant the Kajang the right to manage their own forests, instead of it being owned by the state.

Tribal rights group AMAN said it would be the first area in Indonesia to use the court ruling to grant an indigenous group such autonomy - a milestone in the fight for the rights of the country's approximately 70 million tribespeople.

This picture taken on August 12, 2013 shows a Kajang man walking towards a village hall for a meeting with Indonesian officials at Amatoa village where the Kajang tribe live in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi. -AFP

'Make this earth last longer'

The attempt to help the Kajang is driven by outsiders and the tribe itself harbours some suspicions about any sort of external interference in their affairs.

However the so-called "ammatoa", or chief, Puto Palasa said he did not object as long as the effort did not change the tribe's traditional ways, and recognised the attempts to help his beloved forest.

"Preserving the forest will make this earth last longer," Palasa, who has never set foot outside the Kajang's tribal heartland and has received no formal education, told AFP.

"Leaves invite the rain to fall, roots are home to springs, the forests are the world's lungs," he added in his native language called "Konjo".

Signs of modernity are undoubtedly creeping in to the land of the Kajang, who number around 5,000, with the majority strictly following the tribe's traditions, according to a local government official.

On a recent visit to Tana Toa, AFP saw some of the young Kajang clutching mobile phones while others were wearing sandals - the most ardent followers of tribal tradition prefer to go barefoot.

Nevertheless much remains as it has done for centuries. Scores of men were seen lifting enormous tree trunks to build a traditional house while candlenuts, an oily nut which burns for a long time once lit, are the only lights at night.

The Kajang even has its own mini-government, made up of 37 "ministers", including an agriculture minister who tells people when and where to plant their crops by studying the stars.

They dole out punishments - which include fines and caning - for infringements of their rules, such as removing a tree that has fallen naturally or catching shrimps from rivers, activities the tribe believes create imbalances in the ecosystem.

Little is known about the tribe's origins or how long they have been around but they claim to be one of the first peoples on earth, and say they are duty-bound to protect their ancestral lands. Their religion is a mix of tribal beliefs and Islam.

Their total land covers around 760 hectares (1,900 acres), while the area of forest considered "sacred" - the tribe's heartland - covers some 330 hectares, according to research group the World Agroforestry Center.

Controlling destiny

Bulukumba officials fear this ancient way of life could be wiped out if the Kajang are not given the right to manage their own lands, a move they believe would encourage the tribe to preserve its traditions.

They hope to use the court ruling passed in May as the basis for a local bylaw to give the Kajang this right.

The ruling said that indigenous people owned forest on their ancestral lands. Previously the state claimed ownership of all the country's forests.

As with many such rulings made centrally in Indonesia, it still needs to be applied locally. Bulukumba officials argue the decision gives the Kajang the right to manage all their densely-forested land.

The latest draft bylaw seen by AFP says that the land can be only traded among the Kajang. Officials hope it will be passed in the coming months.

As well as giving the Kajang more control over their destiny, the bylaw would also overturn an official decision taken in the 1990s to allow some logging on their land.

In reality the only logging in the area since then has been carried out by the Kajang themselves, who allow small numbers of trees to be cut down in certain areas for purposes such as building homes.

Officials fear this could change at any moment - many tribes across Indonesia have lost their rainforest homes due to logging.

Bulukumba forestry chief Misbawati Wawo says that in areas of the district outside the Kajang's lands, there has been widespread logging to make way for clove, cocoa and coffee plantations.

"Our concern is if we don't make a written bylaw to protect these people, who can guarantee their traditions will still exist in 20 to 30 years?" she told AFP. -AFP

SIA grounds A380 after scratches found on fuselage

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 09:16 PM PST

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines said Wednesday it had grounded an Airbus A380 superjumbo for further inspection after scratches were found on its fuselage.

The scratches were discovered after the double-decker plane, the world's biggest passenger aircraft, arrived in Frankfurt on Sunday from New York, SIA said in a statement.

There were 126 passengers and 26 crew onboard.

"The aircraft was subsequently grounded for checks and passengers were either transferred to other airlines or accommodated in hotels," the statement said.

"Following inspections by engineering teams in Frankfurt, it was determined that the scratches posed no safety issue and the aircraft was cleared for departure."

The plane arrived in Singapore on Tuesday after a 23-hour delay and has been grounded for further checks.

SIA said the cause of the scratches has yet to be established.

"Our engineers are currently performing further checks on the aircraft, and it will resume service once cleared," the airline said.

It was the second incident for SIA in less than a month involving an Airbus 380.

Last January 6, an SIA A380 en route from London to Singapore lost cabin pressure, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku.

Oxygen masks were activated during the emergency procedure which some passengers described as "frightening".

The stranded 467 passengers and 27 crew on board were flown back to Singapore with a replacement aircraft.

The plane involved in the Baku incident was back in service, SIA said Wednesday, but added that the "root cause" of the incident remained under investigation.

SIA had previously said that focus of the probe was a door on the main deck that appeared to have suffered a leak, leading to the change in cabin pressure.

There are 119 Airbus A380s in operation globally, according to latest data from the company.

Singapore Airlines currently has a fleet of 19 A380s, with five others on order. -AFP

Chinese scientists sound warning over new bird flu

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 07:03 PM PST

PARIS: Chinese scientists sounded the alarm Wednesday after a new bird flu virus, H10N8, killed an elderly woman in December and infected another individual last month.

The fifth novel influenza strain to emerge in 17 years, the virus has a worrying genetic profile and should be closely monitored, they reported in The Lancet medical journal.

It appears to be able to infect tissue deep in the lung and may have features allowing it to spread efficiently among humans, they said.

"The pandemic potential of this novel virus should not be underestimated," said the team headed by Yuelong Shu from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Beijing.

The warning stems from analysis of a virus sample taken from a 73-year-old woman who died in Nanchang, in southeastern Jiangxi province, on December 6 after being diagnosed with severe pneumonia and respiratory failure.

The Chinese authorities announced her death from H10N8 on December 18.

The Lancet study disclosed that a second case of H10N8 was recorded in Nanchang, on January 26. It did not give further details.

They are the first known human cases of H10N8, a virus that has been found only twice before in China - once in a water sample from a lake in Hunan in 2007, and the second time in live poultry in Guangdong province in 2012.

But this particular strain is different from the ones found in those two samples, the study said.

Genetic profile of virus

The big contributors to its genome are reshuffled genes from the H9N2 virus, the authors said.

This is a bird virus that erupted in Hong Kong in 1999 and has also contributed to the dangerous H5N1 and H7N9 flu viruses, the probe said.

Avian flu viruses pass from infected birds to humans in close proximity but typically do not transmit easily between humans.

The worry for health watchdogs is their potential to acquire an ability to jump easily from person to person.

H7N9, which emerged last year, has led to 159 human infections in China, including 71 deaths, according to a combined toll of official figures and an AFP tally of reports by local authorities.

H5N1, which first occurred among humans in Hong Kong in 1997, has caused 648 infections with 384 deaths since 2003, according to figures cited in The Lancet study.

The genome of H10N8, it said, pointed to a mutation in its so-called PB2 protein that, previous research has found, suggests an ability to adapt to mammals.

The virus also has a mutation in its haemagglutinin protein - a spike on the virus surface that enables it to latch onto other cells - that suggests it can infect deep in the lung, like H5N1, rather than the upper respiratory tract, the trachea.

Lab tests on the sample showed it could be attacked by Tamiflu, the frontline anti-viral drug.

Many questions remain, including how the woman was infected.

She had bought a live chicken at a poultry market several days before falling sick.

But she may have become infected beforehand, the scientists said. She did not handle the bird and no virus traces were found in poultry at the market.

In addition, the woman may have been an easy target for the virus because of poor health - she had coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and a muscle-weakening disease called myasthenia gravis.

Tests on people who had been in close contact with her concluded that no one else had been infected.

The second case of H10N8 "is of great concern", said co-author Mingbin Liu of the Nanchang branch of China's CDC.

"It reveals that the H10N8 virus has continued to circulate and may cause more human infections in the future." -AFP

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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Kaitlyn Dever: Massively skilled

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

Kaitlyn Dever has a booming career – at just 17.

FOR Kaitlyn Dever, time is passing too quickly. She turned 17 in December, for Pete's sake.

"I'm the opposite of all my friends," says the little scene stealer from Tim Allen's comedy Last Man Standing.

"They can't wait to be 18 and driving and heading off to college. I'm kind of panicking. I wanted to be 16 a little longer."

If your career were booming like hers, you might want to stop and smell the residuals, too.

In addition to Last Man Standing, on which she plays flinty youngest daughter Eve, she reprised her role recently as the dangerously resourceful teen Loretta McCready on Justified. Loretta is the firecracker who dared shoot Mags Bennet (Margo Martindale), the kid who keeps drawing the protective instinct out of Raylan (Timothy Olyphant).

At the moment, Dever is backstage on the Last Man Standing soundstage, waiting for a table read. She's sitting in what serves as the classroom for her and Flynn Morrison, eight, who plays Boyd on the show.

"I'm a junior learning Algebra 2," she says, "and I'm in with a third grader."

Lately, she has been playing hooky a lot. But she has a note from her agent.

Kaitlyn Dever stars in Justified.

Dever as Loretta McCready in Justified

Dever has been splitting her time between the sitcom and the set of Men, Women & Children, an Ivan Reitman comedy with Emma Thompson, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner, now filming in Texas.

It's one of five films she has done in the last two years, including the forthcoming Laggies with Keira Knightley.

It's unusual for a network to give a series contract player so much latitude, but ABC realises what they have in Dever and makes every effort to accommodate her.

"She's a massively skilled actress," says Last Man Standing's executive producer Tim Boyle. "It may get to the point where she's at a Jennifer Lawrence level, where we can't hold onto her, but we want it to last as long as possible."

The fact that Last Man Standing runs with clockwork efficiency affords Dever more away time. The lead, Allen, is a seasoned pro, and he brought over an old hand from Home Improvement, director John Pasquin, who stresses rehearsal. The result is quick tapings.

"It's great for the (studio) audience," Dever says. "It keeps them happy and awake. If you have to do multiple takes, they tend to fade."

It would be easy to call Kaitlyn precocious, except she has had her eyes on this particular prize since she was a child in Dallas, Texas.

"I've always been good at doing impersonations," she says. "When I see a person on TV, within three minutes, I can do all their mannerisms and their voice. Acting has always come naturally to me.

"I kept begging my parents to let me take acting classes," she says. "I came home from the first day of classes and said, 'Mum, that was the best day of my life!'"

Dever was spotted by a talent agent who was convinced the kid would take Hollywood by storm. Thus started another long siege campaign of her parents.

The Devers were ice skating coaches in Phoenix until Kaitlyn's father, Tim, won a nationwide cattlecall to become the voice of Barney, the purple dinosaur. (He would later go on to voice another popular children's character, Bob the Builder.) Tim's voice work took the Devers to Dallas.

But uprooting the whole family (Kaitlyn is the oldest of three sisters) for something as iffy as a child actor's chances? On the other hand, Kaitlyn was incredibly persistent.

So they compromised: Mum Kathy would take Kaitlyn out to Los Angeles so the nine-year-old could see what a discouraging job acting was. Then duly chastened, Kaitlyn would buckle down in Dallas. That was the idea anyway.

"I booked the first thing my agent sent me out on," says Dever. "For a while, we'd go back to Dallas every summer.

But I kept booking more and more things, so three years ago, we all moved out."

Before we lose you to the table read, Kaitlyn, what would you say is your best impersonation?

"I got it from The Best Of Will Ferrell collection. I put on a wig and giant glasses and act like Harry Caray." OK, did not see that one coming.

"I want to host Saturday Night Live. And I want to be on Jimmy Fallon's show," Dever gushes. "He was on SNL, and he's the funniest guy." — The Philadelphia Inquirer/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' headed for TV

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 07:05 PM PST

Author will be involved in adaptation as a producer.

NEIL Gaiman's fantasy novel will be made into a TV series, according to the North American division of FremantleMedia, which has just acquired the rights to the book.

Published in 2001, the British author's American Gods is a fantasy adventure novel that draws its references from both ancient mythology and modern-day American pop culture. In particular, the story focuses on Shadow, a man who has lost his wife and his best friend in a car accident.

Fresh out of prison, the protagonist is hired as a bodyguard by a mysterious character, Wednesday, who turns out to be an incarnation of the ancient Nordic god Odin. Engaged in a battle against America's modern-day divinities, such as the media and drugs, Odin makes a cross-country trek to rally support from other ancient gods and mythical creatures.

Neil Gaiman will take part in the adaptation as a producer. In 2011, HBO expressed interest in the project, with Tom Hanks on the production team.

FremantleMedia is currently developing a US remake of the French zombie series The Returned (Les Revenants) for A&E. – AFP Relaxnews

Second bowl of shark spin soup

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

It's the follow-up to Sharknado.

IAN Ziering and Tara Reid will once again live through a freak storm of sharks in the follow-up to Sharknado, the campy Syfy TV-movie that gained an unexpected following thanks to Twitter.

Former Beverly Hills 90210 star Ziering and American Pie star Reid have both agreed to reprise their roles as Finn and April, former husband and wife, in Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Expected to air in July, the sequel will be based on the same premise as the original: a tornado pulls sharks into the air and then rains them down on the city, leading to massive mayhem.

After the first movie set in Los Angeles, the sequel will take place in New York, where filming will begin from Feb 13.

Sharknado became one of Syfy's most commented-on productions when it aired last July. As many as 5,000 tweets per minute mentioned the movie during the peak of Sharknado fever. – AFP Relaxnews

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The Star Online: World Updates

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Snow storm slams U.S. Plains, heads for Northeast

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 08:20 PM PST

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - An unusually heavy winter storm slammed into the nation's mid-section Tuesday, heading east and threatening roughly two-thirds of the country with what forecasters said could be up to a foot (30 cm) of snow.

The storm system forced the closing of many state offices and schools in hardest-hit Kansas, where Governor Sam Brownback declared a state of "disaster emergency."

Authorities in Kansas and neighbouring Missouri advised residents to stay in their homes and the National Weather Service (NWS) warned of extremely difficult travel conditions.

At least two people died in a car accident in Crawford County in southeast Kansas due to the treacherous conditions, state officials said. The Kansas National Guard was deploying soldiers and Humvees to transport emergency and medical workers and assist stranded motorists.

"We still have some of the most difficult conditions ahead of us as the snowfall is followed by heavy winds and bitterly cold temperatures," Brownback said. "Travel will remain treacherous and temperatures will be dangerously cold."

The conditions were so poor that part of Interstate 70, a key road artery connecting Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri, was closed in both directions Tuesday morning near Columbia, Missouri, after several tractor-trailers collided, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

"Kansas City and eastern Kansas is going to get a lot of snow," said Greg Carbin, meteorologist for the NWS Storm Prediction Center. "It's remarkable weather. Winter is entrenched. It doesn't appear to be wanting to go anywhere."

Numerous additional accidents were reported in Missouri as cars skidded off slick highways, the state patrol said.

More than 7 inches (18 cm) of snow had fallen in the Kansas City area by early evening, with more expected before the system moves northeast early Wednesday, according to the NWS.

The heavy snow and ice tracking through the central United States was headed northeast into Pennsylvania, New York and New England, forecasters said.

Areas from the lower Great Lakes eastward through central New England should see a foot or more of snow before the system moves out to sea by Wednesday night, according to the NWS, and heavy rains could result in flooding across the Tennessee Valley and Ohio Valley.

FLIGHTS DELAYED, CANCELED

More than 9,500 flights were delayed across the country on Tuesday and nearly 1,800 were cancelled, according to Flightaware.com, a website that tracks air traffic.

The storm set up Monday night over southwestern Kansas and was peaking over Kansas City on Tuesday.

This event is uncommon, said NWS meteorologist Dan Hawblitzel, as only about 3 percent of the winter storms that hit Kansas City total more than 6 inches (15 cm) of snow.

Eying the approaching storm, other states were taking precautions. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy postponed his state of the state address by a day and said the impending storm was also causing state legislative leaders to push back by a day the start of the joint legislative session.

"While I hope the storm is not as bad as predictions suggest, I also don't want to put anyone in harm's way," Malloy said in a statement announcing the delay.

Schools in Providence, Rhode Island, were ordered closed Wednesday due to the approaching storm.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and ordered state offices closed on Wednesday for all non-essential workers.

"I encourage all New Jerseyans to drive carefully and remain off the roads if possible so that our first responders and public safety officials can safely respond to any emergency situations," Christie said in a written statement.

New York issued a hazardous travel advisory for Wednesday and Mayor Bill de Blasio told residents to prepare for a difficult commute.

"If you do not need to use your car, don't use your car. If you can use mass transit, please use mass transit," de Blasio said.

The snow storm comes after a fast-moving winter storm hit the U.S. Northeast on Monday, forcing flight cancellations throughout the region and tying up road traffic the day after the NFL's Super Bowl championship game in New Jersey.

On Sunday, the famed groundhog "Punxsutawney Phil" emerged from his burrow in the small Pennsylvania town, saw his shadow and - as the legend goes - predicted six more weeks of winter.

(Additional reporting by Steve Barnes in Little Rock, Arkansas; Scott Malone in Boston and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by G Crosse, Gunna Dickson, Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker)

U.S. discusses Afghan troop levels; Kabul holds talks with Taliban

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 07:45 PM PST

WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama met his senior military commanders to discuss the American presence in Afghanistan as officials in Kabul confirmed President Hamid Karzai's government has been holding secret talks with Taliban insurgents.

The United States said it welcomed any talks that would bring peace to Afghanistan.

"It's important to note here that we've long strongly supported an Afghan-led reconciliation, which would, of course, be Afghans talking to Afghans," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "So the notion that we wouldn't support that dialogue is inaccurate."

She added that the United States was not in discussions with the Taliban.

In Kabul, Karzai's spokesman confirmed a New York Times report that the government was holding talks with the Taliban in the hope of persuading them to make peace.

"I can confirm that ... Taliban are willing more than ever to join the peace process," Aimal Faizi said. "Contacts have been made and we are also in touch with them."

A member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council also confirmed that talks had taken place, but was measured in his assessment of their success.

"Talks took place in Dubai three weeks ago between government officials and Taliban who flew from Doha, but we are still waiting to see the result," he told Reuters.

Western and Afghan officials speaking to the Times also said the talks had borne little fruit so far. The contacts had not even progressed as far as opening negotiations for a tangible peace agreement, the paper said.

Obama's talks with U.S. military commanders focused on whether U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after this year, as they end their 13-year mission in the country that began shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. U.S. troops helped oust the Taliban regime from power after the Islamic militants refused to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and have since been helping the Kabul government fight the group.

No decisions on troop levels were made at the meeting.

NO SECURITY AGREEMENT YET

The United States would like to leave more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan for counter-terrorism and training of Afghan forces. But Karzai has refused thus far to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) that Washington insists must be approved before it will agree to leave the troops behind.

A White House spokeswoman, Laura Lucas Magnuson, said Obama had a useful, constructive meeting with the military officials, who included General Joseph Dunford, commander of international forces in Afghanistan; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and other defence and White House officials.

"The president continues to weigh inputs from military officials, as well as the intelligence community, our diplomats, and development experts and has not yet made decisions regarding the post-2014 U.S. presence," Magnuson said.

Karzai's relationship with Washington has come under increasing pressure since November, when he announced his intention to avoid signing the BSA until after a presidential election on April 5.

His decision to drop a deal that had taken about a year to hammer out shocked Western diplomats. The uncertainty about Afghanistan's fate after U.S. troops pull out has also weighed on the economy.

Karzai's refusal to sign is sapping already scant support for the war in Washington, which has halved aid for civilian assistance in the fiscal year 2014.

Washington has signalled it could pull all troops out after 2014 unless a deal is signed soon. This would leave Afghanistan's fledgling security forces to fight the Taliban insurgency alone, without U.S. financial and military support.

The Taliban have vowed to derail the election, and have stepped up attacks in Kabul despite the peace talks.

January's tally of attacks was the highest since 2008, according to security officials, and the trend has continued into February, with two bombs going off in Kabul on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Jessica Donati in KABUL, and Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and David Alexander in WASHINGTON; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan Editing by Alex Richardson)

U.S. sharply curtails drone strikes in Pakistan: report

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 07:15 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has cut back sharply on drone strikes in Pakistan after the Islamabad government asked for restraint while it seeks peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The Post quoted a U.S. official as saying, "That's what they asked for, and we didn't tell them no." The newspaper said there had been a lull in such attacks since December, the longest break since 2011.

The newspaper said the Obama administration indicated it would continue carrying out strikes on senior al Qaeda officials if they were to become available or to thwart any immediate threat to Americans.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report.

The Post quoted a senior Obama administration official as denying an informal agreement had been reached, saying, "The issue of whether to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban is entirely an internal matter for Pakistan."

While some Pakistanis welcome the strikes, saying they kill fewer civilians and are more effective against Taliban militants than traditional military operations, others argue the strikes still cause civilian casualties, terrify residents and violate Pakistani sovereignty.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he wants the drone strikes to end.

The Post said the current U.S. pause came after a November strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

That attack took place a day after Pakistan's foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying the United States had promised not to conduct drone strikes while the government tries to engage the Taliban in peace talks.

An annual study by a British-based organization found that CIA drone strikes against militants in Pakistan killed no more than four civilians last year, the lowest number of reported civilian deaths since the drone program began in 2004.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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The Star Online: Business

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AirAsia X gets go-ahead for Thai operations

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia X Bhd associate Thai AirAsia X Co Ltd (TAAX) has received the Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) from the Department of Civil Aviation of Thailand, clearing one of its final hurdles to begin operations in Thailand.

The company said the AOC would pave the way for TAAX to proceed with the application for operating permits and slots to its intended international routes.

"The commencement date of commercial operations and the official launch of its hub in Bangkok will be announced once the operating permits and slots are obtained," it said in a statement.

AirAsia X, which is a low-cost, long-haul air transportation services company, holds a 49% stake in TAAX.

It said that TAAX would lease two Airbus A330-300s with 377 seats from a subsidiary of the company in its first year of operations, and would commence services from Bangkok's Don Mueng International Airport.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X also announced the appointment of Nadda Buranasiri as TAAX chief executive officer.

It said Nadda had more than 20 years of international general management experience across global multinational organisations.

"The announcement of Nadda Buranasiri as CEO of TAAX has come at an opportune time, as we finally received the approvals for the AOC," said AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani in the same statement.

"TAAX is expected to offer connecting fly-thru services with Thai AirAsia's short-haul domestic and regional network, offering greater connectivity options from hubs in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

"The establishment of our Thai hub will see the beginning of AirAsia X's strategic multi-hub plan turn into reality," he added.

Aeon advances in thin trade, more upside seen

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 06:03 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Aeon Co. (M) Bhd rose in thin trade on Wednesday while Affin Investment Research upgraded it to a Buy and raised the target price from RM11.90 to RM13.95.

At 9.53am, it was up 12 sen to RM12.02 but with only 300 shares done.

The FBM KLCI rose 5.31 points to 1,784.14. Turnover was 332.92 million shares valued at RM198.74mil. There were 265 gainers, 108 losers and 171 counters unchanged.

Affin Research said further downside to stock price was limited as it upgraded Aeon from Reduce to a Buy with a higher target price of RM13.95,  pegged to an unchanged 18 times calendar year 2014 earnings per share (EPS).

"The higher TP was due to an upward revision in our FY14-15 EPS forecast of 0.9% and 4.1% respectively, which takes into account: 1) the additional revenue contribution from the opening of 4 new AEON malls (2 each in FY14 and FY15), with an average same store sales growth of 3%; and 2) a higher average occupancy rate assumption of 98% (from an average of 96% previously)," it said.

Affin Research said Aeon is expected to announce its FY13 results on Feb 27 and the research house believes Aeon's result would likely achieve a net profit growth of at least 10% to RM235mil, in line with its net profit forecast of RM241mil.

Aeon's share price has declined by 32% from its peak in May 2013 (down 12% YTD), and is currently trading at its two-year historical low, while valuations are more attractive at 15.6 times FY14 EPS.

"The sharp underperformance in Aeon's share price can be attributed to: 1) its lofty valuations (traded up to 22 times at its peak); and 2) investors' concerns over an overall slowdown in consumer spending following the government's subsidy rationalisation programme.

"This resulted in Aeon's major shareholders, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Aberdeen Asset Management paring down their stakes. Aberdeen Asset currently owns 20.3% of Aeon's stake vs its peak at 22.5% in May 2013, while the EPF currently owns 9.1%, fell from its peak at 11.3% in January 2013," it said.

Bernas jumps on second offer though price unchanged

Posted: 04 Feb 2014 05:46 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) neared the unchanged offer price of RM3.70 in early Wednesday trade after a second offer was put forward by the joint offerors.

At 9.35am, Bernas had risen 20 sen to RM3.68. There were 73,900 shares done.

The FBM KLCI rose 5.99 points to 1,784.82. Turnover was 238.61 million shares valued at RM125.81mil. There were 235 gainers, 81 losers and 142 counters unchanged.

On Tuesday, the parties attempting a takeover of Bernas put a second offer on the table, but with no changes to the price tag of RM3.70 cash per share.

Bernas said it had received an unconditional takeover offer from Perspective Lane (M) Sdn Bhd, Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd, Seaport Terminal (Johore) Sdn Bhd and Acara Kreatif Sdn Bhd to acquire the remaining 76.7 million shares, or 16.31%, of the company.

The joint-offerers and Tradewinds (M) Bhd already hold an 83.69% stake in Bernas.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Be proactive and reduce global cancer burden

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: With more people expected to be diagnosed with cancer in coming years, there is an urgent need for Malaysians to undergo screening and early diagnosis for successful treatment and improve their chances of survival.

According to the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, about 37,000 new cancer cases and 22,000 cancer deaths are reported yearly.

Its president Dr Saunthari Somasundram said screening was the most sustainable way to reduce the global cancer burden in the long term.

"Cancer screening and early diagnosis have a major impact on the survival rate of patients in most types of cancer, including the more prevalent ones such as breast, cervical, colorectal and lung.

"Appropriate screening and secondary preventive interventions promote more successful treatments," she said in her message for the World Cancer Day celebration today.

She said effective cancer prevention should begin at the national level, with a control plan responding to the country's cancer burden and risk factor prevalence.

Dr Saunthari said early screening reduced the incidence of deaths from cancer, adding that early detection would make treatment easier and more effective compared to when the cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage.

"With the knowledge that more than a third of cancers are preventable and a third of cancers are curable if detected early and treated correctly, public education and screening should continue to be the key areas of focus in the years ahead," she added.

Dr Saunthari said there was also a need to address cancer challenges such as negative beliefs and attitudes and for new campaigns conducted via websites and social media to reinforce the importance of cancer screening and early detection.

She added that the government, communities, employers and the media should play their roles to challenge perceptions about cancer in a culture where people are empowered to access quality cancer prevention and care.

Highways jammed with returning city folk

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Traffic heading to Kuala Lumpur on the North-South Expressway was slow and congested at certain stretches yesterday, as many people returned to the city after the Chinese New Year and Federal Territories Day holidays.

A spokesman of the Traffic Control Centre at Plus Expressways Berhad said the congestion occurred on the highway from Port Dickson heading towards the Seremban R&R area; before the Juru toll plaza heading to Tambun; from Kuala Kangsar to the Sungai Perak R&R and from Ipoh to Simpang Pulai.

There was also congestion from just before the entrance to the Menora Tunnel heading towards Ipoh; from Gopeng to Tapah; from Bidor to Slim River and from Rawang to Rawang Selatan.

A Malaysian Highway Authority spokesman reported slow traffic and congestion from Port Dickson heading towards Nilai; from the Juru toll plaza heading towards Bukit Tambun and from the Bentong and Gombak toll plazas heading to the city.

He also said several accidents along the highway also contributed to the traffic congestion.

More information can be obtained from the toll-free Plusline at 1800-88-0000, the toll-free MHA line at 1800-88-7752 or on www.twitter.com/plustrafik or www.twitter.com/llminfotrafik. — Bernama

D-minus on student affairs

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: The majority of complaints received by the Educati­on Malaysia Global Services, the one-stop centre for international students, concern issues connected to their universities.

For instance, EMGS investigations showed that the primary reason for students having their documents delayed was either due to late renewal submissions by the institutions or their failure to even make the applications to the centre.

"The institutions collected the (students') passports early but didn't put in the renewal application, which must be done at least six weeks before the expiry of existing passes," said EMGS chief executive officer Yazid Abdul Hamid (pic).

"EMGS doesn't need the students' passports to process renewal applications," he said.

He told The Star that the centre only needed the passports when the renewal applications would be given support letters and were ready to be submitted to the Immigration Depa­rtment for passport endorsement and sticker pass issuance.

"There were also many cases where we could not find the student's renewal application in our systems," he added.

Yazid said the centre went thro­ugh 65 cases with Deputy Education Minister II P. Kamalanathan last Dec­ember and found almost 90% were attributable to the university's own issues.

He admitted that while there were some applications which were stuck within the EMGS system, it was due to irregularities or infringements, such as the universities applying for visa renewals for students who did not meet the approval requirements of a minimum 80% class attendance and 2.0 CGPA.

"In this case, we can either reject the application, request an explanation or ask the institution to appeal to the department of Higher Education."

Another serious infringement was renewal applications for different courses from what the student originally enrolled in.

"This means the student pass and visa was approved for a certain course but renewed for a different one."

EMGS started last year to promote Malaysia as a global education hub. It was also set up to gather data on the quality of higher education institutions, monitor foreign students and approve foreign students' application process.

Last year, EMGS processed 24,506 applications, a 6% increase from the 23,107 processed in 2012.

The Star revealed last year that thousands of illegal workers had entered the country posing as foreign students, aided by dishonest education centres and colleges working with human trafficking syndicates.

The higher learning institutes and centres would go so far as to falsify attendance records and progress reports for the Immigration Department. Universities also profit off foreign students by charging exorbitant visa prices, with some demanding up to RM1,000 for a processing fee, which costs a mere RM140 with EMGS.

Other universities charge up to RM2,000 for a medical check-up. EMGS does it for only RM250.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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Faster than lightning: My autobiography

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 03:00 PM PST

THESE are the chronicles of Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who has become a global superstar in the track and field arena. The reigning 100m, 200m and 4x100m world record holder with six Olympic gold medals to his name, writes the story of his humble beginnings in Trelawny, Jamaica, and his rise to international superstardom in this book.

None of the bullish demolition of his rivals, the after-race flamboyance, or the fancy poses and dance celebrations on tracks around the world prepared me for the self-aggrandizement that is a recurring theme of this autobiography.

From the first chapter entitled "I Was Put on This Earth to Run" to the boastful declaration of "I am a living legend. Bask in my glory," at a media conference during the 2012 London Olympics, Bolt litters his life story with the kind of self-importance many would argue is a trait of champions. Fortunately, Bolt's easy going nature and fun-loving character does make the egotistical overtones easier to accept.

Having said that, I couldn't help but be amazed by the sheer talent of Usain Bolt and his insatiable desire to be the best at whatever he does. He talks candidly about picking up golf and almost immediately giving up the sport because he knew he would never be the best at it. Even with other sporting passions, like cricket and football, that he does not compete in, Bolt shares that his competitive nature always drives him to win at all costs. And this drive is mirrored in every race – every loss is translated into an intense determination to avenge it, and every win keeps him hungry for more.

In the book, Bolt sheds light on the rivalries between the world's top runners, especially the battle between him and American sprinter Tyson Gay. According to Bolt, the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, marked the start of the intense rivalry between the two when, finishing second, Bolt realised he was "able to step up in the biggest events ... I was on Tyson Gay's tail for real". But being able to step up wasn't enough for Bolt, who was dissatisfied with coming in second: "I had only one thought on my mind: Yo Tyson Gay, you got lucky."

The book is a great read for track and field fans, as Bolt allows the reader into the camaraderie between the esteemed Jamaican sprinters, the intense training that makes him the fastest man in the world, and personal details of his conversations with his coach, Glen Mills. It was Mills, for instance, who convinced Bolt he was gifted, pointing out that the world's best sprinters take 45 steps to finish the 100m while Bolt would only require 41 due to his height. This and the high standards the coach set for him spurred Bolt to believe in his ability and to start working towards achieving unprecedented success.

Track fans will also love the chapters on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London. Details of the training in preparation for the Olympics, and the mental exhilaration and physical exhaustion experienced as Bolt broke three world records in Beijing are chapters that prompted me to search for clips of the races on the Internet to re-live the moments. The London Olympics also offered a lot of fun details, especially on the words exchanged between Bolt and his fellow countryman and rival Yohan Blake as their psychological warfare intensified towards race day.

Bolt also reveals details of his battle with scoliosis (an abnormal curving of the spine), his constant quest for fitness, and his fight against fatigue and laziness. Through these honest revelations, Bolt comes off as an athlete with commitment issues, which only adds to the wonder of all his achievements.

His dietary indulgences (chicken nuggets), his late night partying, and dalliances with fast cars and loose women are all openly discussed, including the 2009 car crash from which he was lucky enough to emerge unscathed. I could see the battle that he fights day in and day out in managing his celebrity status while still trying to maintain the discipline to stay on top, and Bolt makes it evident through his misgivings that this is easier said than done.

In my opinion, the book does not represent a motivational story about a man's hard slog to the summit of success. It is not the story of discipline and determination that takes a person through turbulent days. Rather, Faster Than Lightning is the story of an immensely gifted man who has realised his potential by making a few right decisions and listening to a few good people. And that, I think, is the ultimate take away message.

Born of illusion

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 03:00 PM PST

THEY say you should never judge a book by its cover, but how can you help it with Born Of Illusion?

The striking cover makes many promises: you expect mystery, intrigue, danger and just a touch of romance. And while the tale that subsequently unfolds may not be entirely enchanting, it definitely is entertaining.

Born Of Illusion revolves around Anna van Housen, a talented magician and escape artist who assists her mother Marguerite in stage performances and private seances. While her mother is nothing more than a cunning fake playing on the emotions of those longing to connect with a deceased loved one, Anna suspects she may just have powers that aren't so practised. Supposedly Harry Houdini's illegitimate daughter, Anna is able to sense emotions and glimpse the future.

When the duo settle in New York City, Anna hopes she can finally live a normal life. But after meeting mysterious British neighbour Cole Archer, becoming involved with the Society for Psychical Research and dealing with the charming Owen – who is pursuing her in earnest – Anna's chance at a normal life looks slimmer than ever.

The situation spirals out of control when 16-year-old Anna begins battling her mother for control of the stage and the chance at her own show, a conflict tempered by the mysterious visions she begins to receive of her mother in grave peril.

Set in the glitzy, bootleg gin and tonic-laced 1920s, readers will fall in love with the fashion and glamour intricately outlined by Brown in her novel. Bursting with magic, thrilling stage shows, dashing men and a heady dollop of danger, Born Of Illusion is a safe bet if you're looking for an entertaining young adult (YA) fiction read. Brown captures the jazz era with panache, drawing in plot twists that could have come off as clich├ęd – a mobster with a heart of gold, for instance – but thankfully don't. Nothing is hashed to death, making for a quick, snappy read.

Born Of Illusion is well-paced and thoughtful; it's refreshing to find a YA fic love triangle sub-plot where there's no Romeo-and-Juliet style whirlwind feet-sweeping. Anna is savvy, smart, and level-headed. The love triangle, too, is not where the emotional meat of the story comes from: that honour goes to the relationship between Anna and her mother, something with which many girls can probably sympathise. Marguerite fears her daughter's maturing while Anna is torn between resentment and loving duty.

Which is not to say the love triangle is dull – the dark-haired, secretive Cole measures up nicely against light, charming Owen who parties all night and promises romance at the drop of a hat. While it may not be too clear at the onset how the love triangle will culminate, you definitely end up rooting for the right person. The lack of fraught back-and-forth not only makes Anna a strong feminist character who isn't defined by the men in the novel, but also makes for a nice change from the other YA supernatural mysteries in the market right now.

The book is strongly character driven, and Brown makes us fall in love with even the secondary roles to an extent where you don't really mind some pointless meandering. Crotchety neighbour Mr Darby is particularly likable, with his protectiveness and sarcastic streak making for some lighthearted moments. There's also vivacious flapper and trophy wife Cynthia, who is far more intelligent than she lets on, as well as the magnetically-written Houdini himself.

Born Of Illusion is the first in a series, with sequel Born Of Deception slated for a June 2014 release.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman's standout performances

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

Oscar-winner Philip Seymour, who was found dead in his New York apartment on Feb 2, was a celebrated "actor's actor". Here are some of his most notable roles and awards.            

Capote (2005, as Truman Capote)

Hoffman won a Best Actor Oscar for his mesmerising performance playing the title role of author Truman Capote. The film was also nominated for Best Motion Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Achievement in Directing and Best Writing for Adapted Screenplay. He also won a Best Actor award at the Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards in Britain and Screen Actors Guild Awards among others.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013, as Plutarch Heavensbee)

In one of his most recent roles, Hoffman was seen in the second instalment of the blockbuster The Hunger Games franchise. He had also been cast in two more instalments of the series set for release in Nov 2014 and Nov 2015, respectively.               

Jack Goes Boating

(2010, in title role as Jack)

The drama-comedy marked Hoffman's cinematic directorial debut, and he scored a Best Actor win from the Chlotrudis Awards for independent film.

The Master

(2012, as Lancaster Dodd)

Hoffman's perfomance as a charistmatic cult leader opposite a troubled World War II veteran played by Joaquin Phoenix landed him his fourth Oscar nomination.

The Ides Of March

(2011, as Paul Zara)

Hoffman's performance as senior Democratic presidential campaign manager Paul Zara earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at Britain's Bafta Awards. The film was nominated for Best Writing at the Oscars and got four Golden Globes nods.        

Synecdoche, New York

(2008, in lead role as Caden Cotard)

In this critically acclaimed film, Hoffman stars as a struggling theatre director who mounts an ambitious production: a life-sized replica of New York City inside a warehouse.        

Doubt

(2008, as Father Brendan Flynn)

Hoffman starred alongside Meryl Streep in an Oscar-nominated role as an anguished Catholic priest suspected of molesting a teenage boy, earning an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor. Based on John Patrick Shanley's successful stage play, the film is celebrated for scenes in which Hoffman's character wages verbal warfare with his accuser, Streep's Sister Aloysius.

Charlie Wilson's War

(2007, as Gust Avrakotos)

Hoffman is compelling in his Oscar-nominated role as a foul-mouthed CIA

agent. The film, which also stars Tom Hanks, was also nominated five times at the Golden Globes, including one nod for Hoffman.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (2007, in lead role as Andy)

In an unlikable turn, Hoffman plays a character who organises with his brother the robbery of their parents' jewelry store. But the job goes horribly wrong.

Magnolia (1999, as Phil Pharma)

Hoffman plays a nurse who finds a dying show producer's estranged son in the film, nominated three times for an Academy Award.

The Talented Mr Ripley (1999, as Freddie Miles)

Although cast alongside A-list favourites Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, Hoffman steals the show in a supporting role as the duplicitous preppie Freddie Miles.               

The Big Lebowski

(1998, as Brandt)

In a rare comedy appearance, Hoffman plays mediator between an unemployed Los Angeles slacker and a millionaire of the same name for whom he is mistaken.               

Boogie Nights

(1997, as Scotty J)

In his breakout performance, Hoffman plays an insecure gay boom operator who has a crush on a porn star, played by Mark Wahlberg. – AFP      

Related story:
Inner turmoil

Philip Seymour Hoffman vehicle 'Happyish' unlikely to continue

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 06:45 PM PST

Actor was in lead role.

THE loss of the Oscar-winning actor, who was found dead in his New York apartment on Feb 2, translates into an uncertain future for the comedy in development at Showtime.

The premium cable channel has yet to officially decide the future of Happyish, a series in development with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead role. Nonetheless, rumours in the Hollywood trade press indicate that Showtime is likely to drop the series following the death of the actor, who earned an Oscar in 2006 for his performance in Capote.

Showtime had high hopes for Happyish, which had been in development for over two years. The network did not order a pilot until the summer of 2013, when Philip Seymour Hoffman agreed to take on the title role. In the test episode, Hoffman played Thom Payne, an ageing advertising executive whose firm has been bought out, and who is being upstaged by young talent.

The actor's death is not expected to have an impact on the next installment of The Hunger Games. In the role of the head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire, Hoffman was slated to return in The Mockingjay, which will be released in two parts. The actor had already filmed the majority of his scenes and was scheduled to spend just seven more days on the set. Lionsgate has not made any announcements on the matter, but excepting any surprises, the next two Hunger Games films should still arrive in theatres in the fall of 2014 and 2015 as initially announced.

On the other hand, the film Ezekiel Moss will need to find a new director. Hoffman had planned to helm his second feature in 2014, four years after Jack Goes Boating. Over the weekend, just before the actor's death, the trade press announced that Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams would star in the Prohibition-era drama.

Audiences will be able to see the actor in his last roles during 2014. The actor will appear in theaters in Anton Corbijn's A Most Wanted Man alongside Rachel McAdams and Robin Wright and in John Slattery's God's Pocket with Christina Hendricks and John Turturro. – AFP Relaxnews

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Horses fight in Chinese New Year battles

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

TIANTOU VILLAGE: In southern China, many ushered in the Year of the Horse with hooves clashing in mid-air and stallions biting opponents as cheers rang in the air.

For the residents of Tiantou, a remote village in the Guangxi region, the 500-year-old tradition which pits male horses against each other in a fight over a female was the only way to kick off the Lunar New Year.

"Without horse fighting it wouldn't feel like a new year," said Pan Jianming, whose horse Little Black reared-up on its hind legs and bit its opponent's neck to scoop victory in a competition this weekend.

"He stood up and hit the other horse straight away," Pan, a 31-year-old air conditioner repairman, said.

"If he likes the female horse, it doesn't matter how much pain he's in, he won't run away," he added, his black and white shirt stained with blood which dripped from a gash on his horse's nose.

"We have medicine to treat his injuries, and he will gradually get better," added Pan, who claimed a champion's prize of 500 yuan (RM276).

Fifteen animals fought in bouts, which saw horses jump into the air with their front hooves spinning before crashing down on their opponents and biting their head or neck, sometimes drawing hair and blood.

Horse fighting competitions held by the Miao – an ethnic group living in mountain areas of Southern China and South-East Asia – date back more than five centuries, according to locals.

The first battle is said to have been held to settle a dispute between two brothers who both hoped to marry the same woman.

But the fights, held in small mountain villages in Southern China every year with prizes of up to 10,000 yuan (RM5,520), have been condemned by animal rights groups.

In 2010, Hong-Kong based Ani­mals Asia called horse-fighting a "horrific spectacle", accusing the scraps of causing "abuse and suffering to animals in the name of entertainment".

The stallions are encouraged to fight by the presence of a female horse, who is kept metres away from the clashing pairs by a villager armed with little more than a stick.

The horse which successfully defends its position close to the female is declared the winner.

Animals Asia has said that the female horses are sometimes "induced into season through the injection of hormones".

In Tiantou, hundreds of spectators gathered just metres away from the battling equines – without any barriers separating them from the action.

Onlookers scramble to escape when pairs of bucking mares periodically galloped towards them.

Others shouted: "Fight, Fight!" as the animals clashed but most insisted the contest was not cruel. — AFP

At least four killed in grenade attack on cinema

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

PESHAWAR: At least four people were killed and 31 wounded when unidentified attackers hurled two grenades at a cinema in northwest Pakistan, police and medics said.

The attack on the Picture House cinema in Peshawar, the region's main city, took place as some 90 people were watching a late night show of the film Ziddi Pakhtun (Stubborn Pushtun), police said.

"Attackers hurled two grenades and fled the scene," Faisal Mukhtar, a senior police official said.

A stampede following the blasts was responsible for many of the injuries, Mukhtar added.

Jamil Shah, a spokesman for Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital said three dead bodies and 31 injured people had so far been taken to his hospital.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but police said that cinema houses in the city were already under threat.

"We had informed the cinema owner about the possible threats," Najeeb-ur-Rahman, a senior police officer said.

Peshawar is a frontline city in Pakistan's battle against Islamist insurgents, who regard films as sinful. The Taliban closed down cinemas in the scenic Swat valley in the country's northwest which they controlled from 2007-2009.

The decline of cinema houses in Peshawar has also been accelerated by the advent of videos, DVDs and the Internet and today only seven remain. — AFP

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Robert Capa in colour lights up New York

Posted: 03 Feb 2014 07:15 PM PST

Much if renowned photographer's work is forgotten.

ROBERT Capa was one of the world's most renowned photographers covering 20th century war and politics, and a new exhibition showcases his dazzling work in colour, much of it forgotten.

A Hungarian who studied in Berlin and fled the Nazis in 1933, Capa shot to fame with his coverage of the Spanish civil war, World War II and the Israeli war for independence in 1948.

Most of his iconic war pictures were shot in black-and-white film.

Capa was killed when he stepped on a landmine at the end of the French Indochina war in 1954, but between conflicts he travelled around the world taking colour photographs of everyday situations and of his celebrity friends.

The exhibition that opened on Jan 31 at the International Center of Photography in New York includes pictures of Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Truman Capote, Orson Welles and other stars.

His friends allowed Capa to photograph what would have otherwise been private moments: for example, there is a picture of Pablo Picasso with his family on the beach in the south of France, and another of writer Ernest Hemingway at home in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The exhibition "gives a first look of colour photographs of Robert Capa. Some of the work have never been seen before," said ICP director Mark Lubell.

The ICP found around 4,200 colour negatives of Capa, curator Cynthia Young told AFP.

"This exhibition is also about how Capa reinvents himself as a photographer during the years when he is not covering war and political conflicts," she said.

Capa founded the legendary Magnum Photos agency with French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1947, and colour photos at the time played a huge part in meeting demand from magazines.

Capa first experimented with colour in 1938 while covering the Sino-Japanese war.

But of the 12 Kodachrome rolls he requested, only four prints were published, all related to the battle for control of the Yangtze river.

Starting in 1941 Capa began to take colour photos regularly. From then until his death in 1954 Capa always travelled with two cameras, one with black-and-white film, and the other with colour.

"Black and white was cheaper, but colour was glamourous and they were used pretty regularly on covers," said Young.

"It was a world that demanded colour. Colour was in the movies, colour was in advertisement," Young said.

Capa's war photographs were almost entirely taken in black-and-white because it at the time it took too long to process, censor, edit and publish colour photos. "Colour was not a great medium for spot news," said Young.

The exhibition closes with heartbreaking photos taken by Capa shortly before he died on May 25, 1954, in Vietnam on the route between Namdinh and Thaibinh, where he stepped on the landmine.

Capa in Color will be on display at the ICP until May 4. – AFP Relaxnews

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