Isnin, 10 Mac 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

China has not ruled out terrorism

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

BEIJING: China has not ruled out terrorism is the disappeance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in which 153 Chinese/Taiwanese were on board.

The China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial that the fact that some of the passengers on board were travelling with false passports should serve as a reminder to the whole world that security can never be too tight.

Mystery of MH370

"Terrorism, the evil of the world, is still trying to stain human civilisation with the blood of innocent lives," it said.

Some family members are saying they would not go to Kuala Lumpur today as there has been no information forthcoming.

"There is more we can do here in China," one woman told AFP. "They haven't even found the plane yet."

The lack of information is also said to have irked Chinese authorities.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted as saying that the Chinese government wanted "the Malaysian side to step up their efforts to speed up the investigation and provide accurate information to China in a timely fashion".

"They should also properly manage work related to family members of passengers and follow-up issues," he added.

Qin noted that "the incident is still under investigation", but China's state-run media minced no words, lashing out at Malaysia and its national carrier over its handling of the missing jet, demanding answers despite the early stage of the investigation.

"The Malaysian side cannot shirk its responsibilities," the Global Times newspaper, which is close to China's ruling Communist Party, wrote. "There are loopholes in the work of Malaysia Airlines and security authorities."

For its part, MAS said in a statement that it is deploying an additional aircraft today "to bring the families from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur".

Malaysia's acting Transport Mini­ster Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, however, denied the allegation that Chinese authorities are unhappy with how Malaysia is handling the matter.

"Far from it." he said. "We are cooperating very closely on three aspects, namely search and rescue operation, identifying those who travelled on false passports and dealing with the families of the passengers.

"We have been in contact from the outset with China. Now, there is a special task force stationed here to help us on the three aspects," he said. "I have had a long discussion with the Chinese parties and from the ministries. The ambassador has seen first-hand what we are doing."

The aircraft's disappearance came one week after a deadly attack at a train station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, in which a group of knife-wielding assailants killed 29 people and wounded 143.

Both Beijing and Washington have condemned the mass stabbing as an act of terror, with Chinese authorities blaming it on separatists from the restive far western region of Xinjiang.

Even as information remains sparse and the hours tick by, many relatives in Beijing continue to believe that the passengers may yet be found, according to one US-trained psychologist who counselled about 20 families awaiting news at a hotel.

"I think most of them are holding onto that thin ray of hope," he said. "Whether they believe it to be realistic or not, most of them are not letting it go." — Agencies

Case of duo with stolen identities leads investigators to two travel agencies

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

BANGKOK: Two passports stolen in Thailand and later used to board the Malaysia airliner that vanished with 239 people on board were never used to leave the kingdom, the commander of the investigation division at the Immigration Bureau revealed.

It is believed the passports were stolen and taken out of Thailand without being used at immigration checkpoints, Pol Maj-Gen Warawut Taweechaikarn said yesterday.

Mystery of MH370

The officer said criminals faced difficulties producing fake passports due to sophisticated anti-counterfeiting techniques, so resorted to buying real passports from gangs of thieves, which targeted foreign tourists in Thailand.

The gangs would replace the passport holders' photos and alter certain information in the documents before using them, he added.

Fears that terrorism may be linked to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 arose after Austria and Italy said passports used by two male passengers were stolen from their citizens.

Interpol said in a statement that at least two passports recorded in its database, one Austrian and one Italian, were used by passengers on the flight after being reported stolen in Thailand.

Two passengers using Italian and Austrian passports of Luigi Maraldi, 37, and Christian Kozel, 30, had consecutive ticket numbers, according to the Chinese e-ticket verification system Travelsky.

Both tickets were issued on March 6, according to the website of China Southern Airlines Co, which was a code-share on the flight.

Thai police and Interpol investigated two travel agencies – Six Stars Travel and Grand Horizon – where two persons suspected of using fake passports tried to buy tickets.

Six Stars eventually issued online tickets, after receiving copies of the passports, police said. They are still looking into the transaction with Grand Horizon, which had passed on the purchase to Six Stars.

Britain's Financial Times quoted Benjaporn Krutnait, owner of the Grand Horizon travel agency, as saying an Iranian, a long-term business contact whom she knew only as "Mr Ali", had first asked her to book cheap tickets to Europe for the two men on March 1.

Benjaporn initially reserved one of the men on a Qatar Airways flight and the other on Etihad. But the tickets expired when Benjaporn did not hear from Ali.

When he contacted her again on Thursday, she rebooked the men on the Malaysia Airlines flight through Beijing because it was the cheapest available, the paper said.

A friend of Ali paid Benjaporn cash for the tickets, the paper reported, adding that there is no evidence that Ali knew the two men were travelling on stolen passports.

Benjaporn said she did not believe Ali was linked to terrorism, particularly as he had not specified booking the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight but had instead asked for the cheapest route to Europe, Financial Times reported.

Benjaporn was quoted as saying that she was speaking about the case because she was concerned over the speculation about a terrorist attack and wanted the facts to be known.

Thai police said Pattaya had no record of the stolen passports.

Police have yet to pin down suspects.

"We still don't have any information on suspects, because they used the copy of the fake passports so they can be issued tickets," Supachai said.

Rommel Banlaoi, an analyst on terrorism in South-East Asia said Thailand had been used by some international terrorist groups as a zone of operation, to raise funds or to plan attacks.

But Banlaoi stressed that the false passports used on the Malaysia flight "could also be linked to other criminal activities, like illegal immigration".

"It's not just linked to terrorism but to other crimes. It's a complex network, connected to other networks," said a Thai Intelligence source. — Agencies

Powerful 6.9 quake strikes off US coast

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES: A powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern California, the US Geological Survey said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or a tsunami threat.

The quake struck at 0518 GMT (1.18am Malaysian time) with an epicentre located 77km west-northwest of the town of Ferndale and at a depth of 7km, said the USGS, which monitors earthquakes worldwide.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, but early reports indicate the quake was felt as far away as San Francisco, around 400km south of Ferndale.

Authorities in Humboldt County, the part of sparsely-populated northern California some 400km up the coast from San Francisco, said they had no calls about damage of injuries, local media reported.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a bulletin announcing the quake, but downplayed any danger.

"A widespread destructive tsunami threat does not exist based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," the Center said.

The USGS said there is a 90% probability of a "strong and possibly damaging aftershock" of magnitude 5 or more in the next seven days, and a 5-10% chance of a quake equal to or great than Sunday's temblor. — AFP


The Star Online: World Updates

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: World Updates

El Salvador ex-rebel's lead 'irreversible,' rival wants recount

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 09:00 PM PDT

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - A former Marxist rebel commander's tiny lead in El Salvador's presidential election is irreversible, the country's electoral tribunal said on Monday, but his right-wing challenger demanded a full recount, insisting he was the real winner.

Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which as a rebel group fought a string of U.S.-backed governments in the 1980-1992 civil war, claimed victory on Sunday after preliminary results showed he had won 50.11 percent support.

Challenger Norman Quijano, a former mayor of San Salvador and candidate of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party, had 49.89 percent support.

The two men were separated by just 6,634 votes.

Quijano said in a Tweet on Monday that he wanted a "vote-by-vote" recount, calling the election tribunal biased and insisting that he was the president-elect.

"The behavior of the Supreme Election Tribunal has never been clean; they were tainted before and during the electoral process," Quijano said.

He also asked the country's attorney general to guard all electoral material and urged international observers to remain in El Salvador a few more days.

But Eugenio Chicas, head of the tribunal, said the law did not allow for a vote-by-vote recount, but that a recount of disputed polling stations would begin Tuesday.

The election tribunal has not formally declared Sanchez Ceren the winner, pending the review of challenges to some ballots and a definitive vote count.

Chicas told reporters earlier on Monday: "We put our technical teams to work all night, which is why I can tell you with certainty that the result of this election is irreversible."

Quijano later vowed to exhaust all legal avenues to challenge the result, and called for all ballot boxes to be opened.

"We're not going to allow them to steal the election from the people," he told reporters. "Once we have gone through this process with international organizations observing, once legality is respected and a definitive result springs from that, we will respect it."

However it is resolved, the victor will have a weak mandate to govern.

The FMLN and Arena - founded by the late Roberto D'Aubuisson, who had links to death squads - were fierce enemies during the civil war that killed about 75,000 people.

Quijano accused the election tribunal of corruption and hinted at foul play. He also warned on Sunday the armed forces were watching the election process.

"We are not going to allow fraud ... We are 100 percent convinced that we have won," he said. "They are not going to steal this victory. We will fight, if necessary with our lives."

While viewed as inflammatory political rhetoric, some saw a worrying tactic to undermine the result.

"I take it seriously as a political tactic rather than as a literal call, though I was troubled by his call to the army," said Hector Perla, an expert on Central America at the University of California Santa Cruz.

"All the rhetoric indicates that they are not going to accept, even if they do have the recount, they are not going to accept this other legitimate outcome," he added.

Sanchez Ceren claimed victory after the preliminary results showed him winning and he promised to govern for workers and business leaders alike.

"We are going to govern for everyone, for those who voted for us, and those who did not," Sanchez Ceren told supporters.

A carpenter's ninth son, Sanchez Ceren was a rural school teacher before joining the FMLN guerrilla movement and he then rose to lead one of its five main factions during the war.

Along with other FMLN leaders, he has moderated his policies since the peace accords were signed in 1992 and the rebel group became a political party.

The affable, media-shy 69-year-old has said he will build on its social programs, which include a glass of milk a day for children and free school uniforms, shoes and supplies.

(Additional reporting by Noe Torres in San Salvador and Dave Graham, Miguel Gutierrez, Alexandra Alper and Julia Symmes Cobb; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Kieran Murray, Ross Colvin and Lisa Shumaker)

A missing plane and emotional reunion, played live on Twitter

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 07:45 PM PDT

(Reuters) - Hours before Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was scheduled to depart on Saturday, a U.S. woman tweeted to her co-worker who was on a business trip that she was feeling ill and overworked.

He agreed to pick up the slack and missed his Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing flight, which then vanished and is presumed to have crashed with 239 people aboard.

The anguish and relief played out live on Twitter.

Reuters could not independently confirm whether the man, who goes by the Twitter name @KaidenDL, was indeed booked on the flight. Cylithria Dubois, in an emailed response to Reuters, said Kaiden was her "love and business partner".

"I am deeply chagrined by the attention that Kaiden and I drew upon ourselves with our tweets," Dubois wrote in the email. "At a time when the focus should be upon those aboard the ill-fated flight and their loved ones, I feel rather dumb speaking at all."

Dubois, whose Twitter handle is @cylithria, sent out a series of anguished messages on Saturday about the missing plane and how she couldn't contact Kaiden.

About 90 minutes later, he replied.

"@Cylithria can't reach you by phone. We missed the flight. Rory and I are OKAY Ria. I'm NOT ON THE FLIGHT RIA. I'M OK."

Kaiden did not respond to requests for comment. In his Twitter postings, he said he was angry at his girlfriend because "she'd gotten sick and I had to cover her. I was working on that, missed my flight to China. Grew angrier.

"But for the grace of God we'd be on that flight. Damn my ego. Instead of updating her, the office, I stewed," he wrote.

(Reporting by Emily Kaiser; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Nepal's miracle gel saves newborns from infection

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 07:35 PM PDT

DHULIKHEL, Nepal, March 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - S angita Shrestha desperately waits in a hospital bed to see the baby girl she has just delivered. In the next room, a nurse applies a gel to the stump of the newborn's umbilical cord, wraps her in cloth and places her in a cot next to her mother.

"I was naturally worried and getting impatient. Now I am happy to know that my daughter is safe from infection," 18-year-old Shrestha said at the Dhulikhel hospital, 30 km (19 miles) east of Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.

The baby was briefly separated from her mother when an antiseptic gel known as "Navi Malam", or chlorhexidine, was applied to avoid umbilical cord infection - a main cause of newborn deaths in the impoverished Himalayan nation.

Made by local firm Lomus Pharmaceuticals and backed by the government, the U.S. aid agency and other donors, the gel was introduced in 2011 in hospitals across Nepal and has helped to reduce the number of babies dying from umbilical cord infection.

Trials have shown a 23 percent drop in newborn deaths due to infection since the gel was introduced, according to USAID.

Nepal was the first country to adopt chlorhexidine for newborn cord care, with Nigeria and Madagascar in the process of implementing it in their health programmes.

"The United States will work to bring the chlorhexidine to the world," Rajiv Shah, the head of USAID, said during a visit to Nepal last month while presenting the government with the "Pioneers Prize" for leading the cord care programme.


Nepal emerged from a decade-long civil war in 2006 and political infighting since then has deepened the economic woes of its 27 million people, a quarter of whom live on less than $1.25 a day. The crisis has hit development efforts, driving thousands of young people to seek work abroad.

Experts say Nepal's public health sector is in tatters, with fewer than 2,000 doctors and some 63,000 health workers at about 100 hospitals. Many of the country's 4,000 villages do not have a health facility and nearly two-thirds of babies are born at home without the presence of skilled midwives.

Part of the reason for the high number of newborn deaths, experts say, is because pregnancy in the majority-Hindu nation is attached with taboos that confront women with social and religious hurdles to safe delivery.

Many women cannot discuss pregnancy with anyone or take a decision to seek medical help without the family's consent.

Families often apply a paste of turmeric powder, mustard oil and ash to the newborn after cutting the umbilical cord, raising the risk of infection and death.

The newborn and the mother are considered "unholy" for 11 days after delivery and often have to live in a dark, cold and unhygienic room with the mother lacking a nutritious diet.

Government officials say many people are still unaware that they should go to health facilities and seek the assistance of skilled birth attendants.

"But things are gradually changing," said Baburam Marasini, a senior Health Ministry official. "The use of the simple technology and the low-cost naval gel has made a positive impact in reducing newborn deaths due to infection."

(Editing by John O'Callaghan)


The Star Online: Business

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Business

Better prospects for PPB divisions this year

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT


By Hwang-DBS Vickers Research

Hold (maintain)

Target price: RM15.30

HWANG-DBS Vickers Research said PPB Group Bhd was on firmer footing this year backed by better prospects for most key divisions.

The research house said PPB's second 1,000 tonnes per day flour mill that was commissioned in Indonesia in November and an additional 150 tonnes per day mill in Vietnam, should bring higher volumes to its flour and feed milling and grains trading divisions.

Hwang-DBS initially assumed PPB's margins would expand to 7.3% in the financial year ending Dec 31, 2014 from 6.6% in 2013 on the back of stable wheat prices, and better efficiency and scale at its Indonesian operations. However, it said the company could face some downside risks should the Ukraine issue persists, as it was the sixth largest wheat exporter in the world, adding that the continuous unrest in Ukraine had pushed wheat prices up to its highest in 18 months.

Hwang-DBS Vickers said the cinema division had been performing consistently, with the delivery of 15% growth in earnings before interest and tax to RM50mil in 2013, adding that PPB planned to open six more cinemas (60 screens) in 2014, bringing the total screens to 293.

It said GSC had about 29% in market share by screens and 40% by revenue and that there was room to grow for at least three to five more years. PPB was budgeting RM440mil for capital expenditure over the next one to two years, which would be used mostly for flour and feed milling, and cinema. The research house said PPB's valuation was fair at 17.5 to 18 times 2014 to 2015 price-earnings, on the back of modest growth.

Its relative bet is Wilmar, which has a cheaper valuation. It said PPB's market capitalisation was at a large premium to its share of Wilmar's market capitalisation.


By AmResearch

Buy (maintain)

Target price: RM4.50

AMRESEARCH has reaffirmed its "buy" recommendation for Bonia Corp Bhd, with an unchanged target price of RM4.50 per share, pegged to a 10 times price-earnings over Bonia's calendar year 2015 forecast earnings.

It believed Bonia's growth in the next few years would be driven by rising sales volume, on the back of strong brand recognition, compelling product range and increasing regional footprint.

It said although Bonia would be selective in new boutique openings, it would continue to strengthen its brand recognition and expand aggressively into Indonesia.

AmResearch also said Bonia was also well-positioned to capitalise on the economic recovery in Vietnam with an extensive distribution network of 17 boutiques and 28 counters. It said expansion of Braun Buffel would be through company-owned boutiques, exports of licensing. It said Bonia currently exported Braun Buffel products to Indonesia and has given out a licence in China, where the licensee owned more than 100 outlets. AmResearch said Bonia's in-house brands and Braun Buffel could enter new markets, particularly in Asia by potential tie-ups with established partners.

It said Bonia traded at an undemanding valuation of only nine times 2015 price-earnings, taking into account its significant earnings expansion and a robust three-year compounded annual growth rate of 35%.


By AmResearch

Buy (maintain)

Target price: RM2.00

FOLLOWING Berjaya Food Bhd's weaker-than-expected third quarter results, AmResearch has maintained its "buy" recommendation on the stock, with a lower target price of RM2 per share.

Net profit for the company rose 26% year-on-year for the nine-month period ended Jan 31, 2014, driven by increased sales. No dividends were declared during the quarter.

AmResearch said the nine-month results represented 67% of its full-year projections of RM26mil, below its expectations.

It said third quarter sales were affected by the flood situation in Kuantan, closure of Genting Outdoor Theme Park, temporary closure of Ipoh Parade Mall, softer consumer spending and slower-than-expected sales for Jollibean Singapore.

Nine-month same-store-sales growth (SSSG) were 2% for Kenny Roger Roasters (KRR) Malaysia, 5% for KRR Indonesia, and 13% for Starbucks Malaysia.

AmResearch trimmed the earnings per share forecast by 13% to reflect flat SSSG for KRR Malaysia and Jollibean Singapore. It forecast 2014 earnings to grow by 22% to RM23mil. It said Starbuck's exponential expansion and robust consumption demand was expected to remain strong and that prospects of its foray into Brunei in February look promising. The research house expected minimal contribution in 2014.

It added Berjaya Food was expected to open four outlets for KRR Malaysia, two outlets for KRR Indonesia, 11 outlets for Starbucks Malaysia, and two outlets for Jollibean Singapore by the end-2014, bringing the total to 336 outlets.

KLCI inches up, HL Bank, plantations climb

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 06:15 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI inched up early Tuesday, boosted by gains in Hong Leong Bank and plantations but analysts are still cautious especially after the selling the previous day.

At 9.02am, the KLCI was up 2.42 points to 1,824.48. Turnover was 29.69 million shares valued at RM15.62mil. There were 103 gainers, 67 losers and 121 counters unchanged.

Hwang DBS Vickers Research said the FBM KLCI, after plunging to a low of 1,817 before staging a subsequent partial recovery to close at 1,822 on Monday, the 30-stock index could face renewed selling pressure on Tuesday.

"Technically speaking, the KLCI's upside may be capped at the immediate resistance threshold of 1,825 with its key support currently seen at the psychological 1,800 level," it said.

Plantations were among the major gainers, underpinned by the firm crude palm oil prices as production shrinks.

United Plantations rose 70 sen to RM25 while PPB added 26 sen to RM16.40, KL Kepong 20 sen to RM23.98 and Genting Plantations 16 sen to RM11.04.

Hong Leong Bank rose 22 sen to RM14.18 but Public Bank shed eight sen to RM18.96.

Kian Joo jumped 29 sen to RM3.50 after it received a letter of interest from Toyota Tsusho Corporation for a possible purchase of 51% of its paid-up capital at a tentative maximum price of RM3.74 per share.

MAHB fell 14 sen to RM8.10 on concerns about rising costs. Petronas Gas lost 14 sen to RM22.84 and Petronas Daganagan 1`0 sen to RM29.88.

Puncak Niaga fell eight sen to RM3.27. In the latest development, Gamuda and Puncak Niaga rejected the offer by Selangor government to take over their water assets.

Boeing joining Malaysia Airlines crash investigation

Posted: 10 Mar 2014 05:43 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Boeing said Monday it has joined an official US team investigating the still-mysterious disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines 777 aircraft, feared to have plunged into the Gulf of Thailand.

Boeing said it would act as technical advisor to the US National Transportation Safety Board team already in Southeast Asia to offer assistance.
The Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing Saturday on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was a Boeing 777, a model which up to now has seen only one fatal crash.
The popular family of long-range, wide-body, twin-engined planes have a solid safety record and have been among the world's most widely flown passenger jets since first entering service in 1995.
In the sole fatal crash involving the planes, a Boeing 777-200 operated by South Korea's Asiana Airlines skidded off the runway upon landing at San Francisco's international airport in July 2013, with three dead as a result.
The Malaysia Airlines flight that lost contact with authorities Saturday was a Boeing 777-200, with 239 people aboard.

Boeing said in a statement that it "continues to offer its thoughts and deepest concern to the families of those aboard Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which went missing on March 8." - AFP


The Star Online: Nation

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Nation

Wan Azizah replaces Anwar in by-election

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

KAJANG: The PKR's "Kajang Move" initiative continues with its president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the candidate for the March 23 by-election and she is out to prove that she is no seat warmer for her husband.

Dr Wan Azizah said she was willing to take up the challenge after Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim lost his eligibility to contest following his sodomy conviction, adding that it was her responsibility as party chief to follow through with the struggle.

"People can call me a seat warmer or whatever they like. But I know and the party knows that I'm more than that. I'm here with a purpose, which is to fight for the people," she said.

This is not the first time that Dr Wan Azizah is contesting "on behalf" of Anwar. She stood in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency in the 1999, 2004 and 2008 general elections, a seat held by her husband before he was jailed for corruption.

However, a few months after the 2008 polls, she relinquished her post to make way for a by-election which Anwar won.

Anwar could not contest in the Kajang by-election after the Court of Appeal on Friday overturned his acquittal on sodomy charges and sentenced him to five years in prison.

Asked why Dr Wan Azizah was chosen although 12 other names, including PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution, were put forward, Anwar said:

"Yes, Saifuddin's name was included and I was keen for him to take over. However, he is very reluctant and wants to focus on his job as secretary-general.

"He also feels that in light of these circumstances and to represent the values and struggle of the Kajang Move, Wan Azizah is the best candidate for Kajang."

Vowing to campaign daily in Kajang, Anwar said: "My wife is contesting. Of course, I will be campaigning for her."

Probe into passport ring in Phuket

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Investigations have begun into a "passport ring" as details emerged of bookings made in Thailand with stolen European passports for the vanished Malaysia Airlines flight.

Two European names – Christian Kozel, an Austrian, and Luigi Maraldi of Italy – were listed on the passenger manifest of the flight MH370, but neither man boarded the plane, officials said.

Both had their passports stolen in Thailand over the past two years.

A senior Thai police official said authorities were probing a passport racket on the resort island of Phuket, where Maraldi's passport was stolen.

"A police team combined with local police and immigration are working to track down a passport ring," southern police commander Panya Mamen told AFP.

Malaysia has also launched a terror probe investigating the suspect passengers and the United States has sent in the FBI to assist.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Aloyah Mamat will head the probe into how two men used the stolen passports to board the missing MH370.

"We want to find out how these two impostors passed through Immigration and boarded the plane," said Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

However, he said it was possible for stolen passports to slip through, especially if they did not have hi-tech features.

"Unlike the Malaysian passport, which has a chip, biometric and barcode features, passports issued by some countries are not as sophisticated," he added.

He said the department would only be informed of stolen or lost travel documents if the country had a transborder agreement with Malaysia. Bukit Aman is also focused on identifying the two men.

According to police sources, cases of stolen passports are common in Thailand.

According to several websites, the flight tickets under Maraldi's name was for the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route on MH370/CZ748 (code sharing with Malaysia Airlines and China Southern Airlines), the Beijing-Amsterdam route on CZ767 and onward to Copenhagen on CZ7737.

As for "Kozel", he was supposed to travel on the same flights to Amster­dam and then to Frankfurt on CZ7689.

It has been speculated that the impostors might know each other as the tickets were bought together and the ticket numbers were in sequence, indicating that they were issued together.

Meanwhile, Interpol has expressed regret that few member countries systematically search its database to determine whether a passenger is using a stolen or lost travel document to board a plane.

"If Malaysia Airlines and all airlines worldwide were able to check the passport details of prospective passengers against our database, then we would not have to speculate whether stolen passports were used by terrorists to board MH370," said its secretary-general Ronald Noble in a statement posted on the organisation's website.

Many theories on how plane could have disappeared into thin air

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: With little or no progress in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, many theories are being put forward over how it could have just disappeared.

There are suspicions that the Beijing-bound jet, with 239 people on board, may have been hijacked or bombed after the discovery that two passengers were found to be using stolen passports.

Reuters reported that it was possible that the plane disintegrated in mid-flight.

It quoted a source who is involved in the investigations in Malaysia as saying: "The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet."

"If the plane had plunged intact from such a height, breaking up only on impact with the water, search teams would have expected to find a fairly concentrated pattern of debris," said the source, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly on the investigation.

He shared this shortly before Vietnamese authorities said a military plane had spotted at sea objects suspected to be parts of the missing airliner.

Asked about the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play and that the aircraft could have broken up due to mechanical issues.

The authority said it was too dark to be certain if the objects were part of the missing plane, and that more aircraft would be sent to the site, in the waters off southern Vietnam, today.

"We received information that our planes found two broken objects, which seem like those of an aircraft, about 50 miles (80km) to the south-west of Tho Chu Island," said a Vietnamese official.

Malaysian officials had earlier said no wreckage had yet been found.

A more sinister theory arose after a Chinese blogger claimed that a "Muslim minority group" which had been deported from Malaysia claimed responsibility for the disappearance of the plane.

Several Uighurs were deported to China from Malaysia in 2011 and 2012 for carrying fake passports. The claim comes a week after knife-wielding assailants killed at least 29 people at a train station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming.

A Malaysian official said the authorities were not ruling out Uighur involvement.

"This is not being ruled out. We have sent back Uighurs who had false passports before. It is too early to say whether there is a link," the official said.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Aaron Paul gets into full gear

Posted: 08 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST

The Breaking Bad star hits breakneck speed in his new movie.

ONE of the most successful racing video game series, Need For Speed, is now a movie headlined by Aaron Paul. In his first lead role in a big-budget film, the 34-year-old American – most famous for portraying Jesse Pinkman in the acclaimed drama series Breaking Bad – not only gets to play "a man's man" but he also gets to drive all kinds of vehicles, especially iconic muscle cars.

As it turns out, Paul is a fan of cars, especially the classic vintage muscle cars – "Yeah, who isn't into cars, right?" he said in a transcript provided by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. He also digs the video game: "I've definitely played the multiple games and it's fun because all you're doing is just driving these crazy exotic super cars."

The film revolves around Tobey, a mechanic who's trying to keep his family-owned garage business going by participating in illegal street racing. In a desperate move to stay afloat financially, he teams up with Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) who feeds him to the police instead, landing Tobey in jail for a crime he didn't commit.

Two years later, Tobey gets out of jail and is set on a revenge against Dino through a series of high-stake races. Only problem is, he must get from one coast to the other if he wants to enter this secret underground race. He must also dodge pursuing cops and avoid someone cashing in on the bounty Dino has put out on him.

"What's so great about the games is that they're full of adrenaline, and there's no narrative. So we had a giant blank slate to make it how we wanted, and tell this story however we wanted."

He added: "This film is not just a car movie, but it's a throwback to the classic car culture films. When I met with Scott Waugh, our director, he gave me this amazing pitch. He said it would be like a Steve McQueen-era film.

"That got me really excited. That's what first intrigued me about this story. And then he delved deeper into how he was going to tell the story. It's great because I think car movie buffs deserve something like this. It's not just a flashy car movie. I mean it does have that element to it, but it has an incredibly interesting story behind it."

To keep things real, the action sequences were shot with a stunt team, actual cars and very little special effects. This allowed Paul to do some of the "wild driving" which he described as super fun.

"Before we started shooting they wanted me to go through this crash course – so to speak – just to learn how to do drifts, and slides, and reverse 180s, and even 360s. And I learned all this in the first three days, and it's incredible. It's hard not to do it in your day-to-day life. Once you know how to really use the emergency brake properly you just don't want to ever stop doing it.

"Nowadays, the emergency brake doesn't really grip as well as it should on a lot of cars. So it doesn't allow you to kind of drift and slide the way you want to. But they have these cars all rigged up for us. They're just giant toys." 

Need For Speed opens in cinemas nationwide on March 13.

Trailer Park: Extinction event

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST

DOES anyone even remember how the 2011 film ended? All we remember about that film is there were a lot of explosions, buildings were destroyed, and in the middle of all that, a pretty girl managed to do a lot of posing for a camera only she could see.

Anyway director Michael Bay says goodbye to Shia LaBeouf and casts Mark Wahlberg as an all-American fella doing his best to earn money for his family so he can afford to put his very beautiful daughter (Nicola Peltz of Bates Motel) through college. He does this by collecting junk and then selling it. Well, wouldn't you know it – one of the old trucks he buys turns out to be a Transformer, one that is out of commission until Walhberg's character – get this – jumpstarts it.

Figures, only Bay would think of this; or maybe it's an allegory for getting the franchise going again.

There are a couple of funny scenes too – other than Wahlberg jumpstarting a Transformer, the best one has Stanley Tucci shouting "Oh my God!!!" while mayhem is happening around him.

But any good Transformers film is all about action – and Optimus Prime gets the ball rolling by breaking out of a barn, and then later taking down a Dinobot. Prime's pals and enemies are featured in the more exciting bits of the trailer. Whatever Bay's flaws may be in storytelling and character development, he pulls out all the stops when it comes to the action sequences and special effects – once again, all the robots look great and move flawlessly.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction is scheduled to open in Malaysia on June 26.

Now showing in Malaysian cinemas

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST

American Hustle

CON artist Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is hoping to hustle his way out of a prison sentence by helping FBI agent Richard DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) nab mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and his gangster friends for fraud. Besides having to deal with the mob and a publicity-hungry FBI agent, Irving also has to make sure his unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) doesn't get in the way of his plans. Then there is his partner in crime and lover Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), whose true intentions are no longer clear to him.

American Hustle is a highly engrossing film with colourful characters and plenty of intrigue. Nothing seems to go the way you think it should because the film introduces characters who disrupt the flow to make things more interesting.

Lawrence is a scene-stealer with her performance as the flamboyant (and somewhat dimwitted), estranged wife of Irving. There's also Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), a Mafia boss who makes things very difficult for Irving and Robert. He quizzes Irving's friend – a man pretending to a wealthy Arab sheikh – in Arabic and you simply have to watch it to find out how Irving gets out of that situation. – Angelin Yeoh (4/5 stars)

Non-Stop features Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore


Well, there was certainly non-stop suspense in this airplane-hijacking thriller from the moment US Air Marshal William "Bill" Marks (Liam Neeson) starts getting text messages from an anonymous number on his secure phone on board a flight from New York to London.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra helpfully zooms in on certain passengers to help us narrow down the suspects list, but the final reveal was a surprise to me.

Neeson seems to be coasting along on his by-now familiar performance of a flawed (very flawed, in this case) anti-hero with a gun and a noble purpose. Not to say he doesn't play the role well, just that this role ain't adding anything to his acting portfolio.

The few close-quarters fight sequences were well done, I thought – direct and brutal. But I do wish some of the implied relationships between the characters were more fleshed out.

If you're all about the journey and enjoy suspenseful thrillers, then I would definitely recommend Non-Stop. However, if you like a nice tidy end, then you might want to think about it, because the reason for the hijacking turns out to be rather lame. I would have given this a higher score, if it weren't for that. – Tan Shiow Chin (3/5 stars)

Chris Evans in Snowpiercer


With a short intro on how an experiment to stop global warming goes disastrously wrong – it's the Ice Age again! – director Bong Joon-ho immediately zooms in on the living conditions of the survivors on board a very long train. For 16 years, the train and its occupants have been ceaselessly moving (otherwise they all freeze, see), and it hasn't been an easy road.

Based on a French graphic novel, the story illustrates social classification in an enclosed space and the result is just amazing – it is as if everything has been put under a microscope, amplifying the dire situation.

Other than translating the comic-book imagery onto the big screen successfully with an impactful storyline, director Bong draws brilliant performances from his cast especially Chris Evans and Jamie Bell. Tilda Swinton in particular, with fake teeth and hair, is a standout.

This is one future apocalyptic movie that you won't want to miss. – Mumtaj Begum (5 stars)

The Monuments Men

If you're looking for a different type of World War II movie, sometimes funny, occasionally touching, and somewhat philosophical, then this movie might be your thing.

Admittedly, I wasn't quite sure I could buy into the idea of saving great works of art from the Nazis when so many lives were being lost, even though the story is based on real events.

But my heart still broke a little at the senselessness of it all when the Germans torched some of the stolen masterpieces.

The Monuments Men is entertaining, but doesn't quite achieve its full potential – the story is not quite tight enough, the characters a tad underdeveloped, and the transitions from comical to touching not always smooth.

However, it's a character-driven movie, and I particularly enjoyed the affectionately antagonistic relationship between Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Cate Blanchett's all-too-human Claire Simone, and Hugh Bonneville's flawed Donald Jeffries.

A decent option, particularly for those who enjoy World War II movies. – Tan Shiow Chin (3/5 stars)

Kit Harington leads the cast of Pompeii


This is a mash-up of a disaster movie, a gladiatorial epic, a tale of star-crossed lovers and a revenge flick.

It's not as bad as it sounds, but neither is it awesome (depending on your sensibilities).

It's just ... all right.

As disaster movies go, the eventual eruption of Mount Vesuvius is pretty well done, bar the way the tsunami came to a weird, abrupt end.

The gladiator-love-revenge bit is all right too – nothing groundbreakingly original, but entertaining enough.

And that about sums up the movie; it's a perfectly average epic, good to while away a couple of hours, but not particularly memorable, except maybe for the exploding volcano bit.

Note: Fans of Kit Harington should definitely check out this movie, as he is in superb physical shape here. – Tan Shiow Chin (3/5 stars)


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Nailing his point

Posted: 08 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST

Contemporary artist H.H. Lim uses any method he can to get his ideas across.

It is difficult to pin down exactly what H.H. Lim does as an artist. From energetic ink drawings to hypnotic video installations to nailing his tongue onto a table, the neo-conceptual artist's works run the gamut from beautiful to bizarre. And yet, through them all runs a thread of engagement and introspection of the here and the now, and a desire to break down contemporary experiences to their individual parts.

Born in Kedah and raised in Penang, Lim found his way to art in 1976 in Rome, Italy. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome (from 1967) and continued to live in the city state, and immersed himself in the art scene there ever since. His artful resume ranges from painting, sculpture, installation, video and performance.

In the following decades, his works have been exhibited at numerous prestigious venues and events around the world – most recently, he showed at the 2013 Prague Biennial, the 2013 Venice Biennial, and the National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow, Russia.

With his latest solo exhibition, The Beginning Of Something, at Wei-Ling Contemporary gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Lim situates aspects of current daily life within the larger universal cycle of life and death.

Despite the pelting rain, helicopters and rockets, Hard Rain, acrylic on canvas, is a reflection on our constant quest for hope - it has its inspiration in Akira Kurosawa's short film Sunshine Through The Rain.

Despite the pelting rain, helicopters and rockets, Hard Rain, acrylic on canvas, is a reflection on our constant quest for hope - it has its inspiration in Akira Kurosawa's short film Sunshine Through The Rain.

It is his first full show in Malaysia, and Lim admits that he was initially hesitant about completely unleashing his creativity here.

"It's that thought that, now that I'm in my hometown, maybe I should behave myself," he says.

"I was ambivalent about whether I should tell the real story of how I saw the world. Because the real story is not just beautiful publicity; it's dirty, it's embarrassing, and it's the artist's job to tell it. But (Wei-Ling Contemporary founder and owner) Wei-Ling was brave enough to encourage me to tell one part of the real story."

The works in the exhibition represent the culmination of several different inspirations. A scarlet landscape painting of flying helicopters, formed by vigorous scribbles of acrylic, is reminiscent of the iconic scene from Apocalypse Now with its immediate association with war and violence.

Yet, beneath that surface, the piece, called Hard Rain, is also a reflection on our constant quest for hope - it has its inspiration in Akira Kurosawa's short film Sunshine Through The Rain, in which a boy sets off in search for the root of a rainbow.

"My main idea is to search for the root of the rainbow, so for me, the piece is very hopeful, it's about making dreams come true," Lim explains.

The Beginning Of Something also engages with the idea of consumerism and its prevalence in modern life.

"It began with me realising how quickly I consume my ideas. I make one thing, and then it's gone. Similarly, the way we consume material goods are so fast, so constant," says Lim.

Stomp! Rome-based artist H.H. Lim boldly proclaims that 'art needs to be destroyed in order to live.' His current show The Beginning Of Something at Wei-Ling Contemporary, The Gardens in Kuala Lumpur is an eye-opening experience.

Stomp! Rome-based artist H.H. Lim boldly proclaims that 'art needs to be destroyed in order to live.' His current show The Beginning Of Something at Wei-Ling Contemporary, The Gardens in Kuala Lumpur is an eye-opening experience. 

In the installation piece What I Need Is Love, luxury watches and jewellery are displayed haphazardly in a dustpan, a commentary on the perceived and inherent value of these prized products.

"It is not a moralistic piece, but more a confrontation of high consumerism and what it says about our priorities and values," he says.

The entire exhibition, Lim says, is tied together with the idea that is expressed in its title, The Beginning Of Something, which carries with it a subtext of consuming and being consumed.

"I am very interested in this idea of something becoming nothing, and conversely, nothing becoming something," he explains. "That is the cycle of consumerism."

Tiger And A Box On A Trolley, for instance, is an installation in which an ink drawing by Lim is crumpled up and displayed in a glass display case on a trolley – a literal depiction of that cycle, of something becoming nothing and then being made into something again.

The idea was executed on a large scale at the launch of the exhibition, where a massive ink drawing of 11 tigers and two goats, carrying a seven-figure price tag, was completed by having ink poured on it and getting guests to walk over it.

"My intention with that piece was to examine the concepts of 'something' and 'nothing'. The work of art may end up becoming nothing, but then that nothing could become something too," says Lim.

To him, the blurred space between traditional, contemporary and performance art that he works in is not a considered decision, but rather, a natural progression of his ideas.

"I am an artist because I have something to say," he says. "Artists have to fight so hard to convince you, we're always saying 'Hear me, hear me!'. So as an artist, you have to grab whatever that helps you say what it is you want to."

The Beginning Of Something by H.H. Lim is showing daily, 10am to 9pm till March 31 at Wei-Ling Contemporary (G212 and 213A, Ground Floor, The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur). For more information, call 03-2260 1106 / 03-2282 8323 or visit


The Star Online: Metro: Central

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Metro: Central

Jakarta fears the worst over MH370

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

JAKARTA: The government will work with the Malaysian government to assist the families of seven Indonesians who were on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, lost en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Foreign Ministry director for legal aid and protection of Indonesian nationals overseas, Tatang Budie Utama Razak, said the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had been working and sharing data with the Malaysian government since the plane was declared missing early on Saturday morning.

At the time of going to press, the search for the plane was still ongoing and the government feared the worst for all the Indonesian passengers.

Firman Chandra

"We will decide whether we are going to bring the families of the victims to Kuala Lumpur or cities near the location of the plane crash or directly send the bodies (in the worst case) of the victims to Indonesia when the exact location of the ill-fated plane is determined," Tatang said.

According to the flight manifest issued by Malaysia Airlines, seven Indonesians were aboard the missing aircraft. They have been identified as Ferry Indra Suadaya, Herry Indra Suadaya, Indra Suria Tanurisam, Willy Surijanto Wang, Firman Chandra Siregar, Lo Sugianto and Chynthia Vinny.

If the whereabouts of the Indonesian victims could not be located, Tatang said, the ministry would try to find the best solution to facilitate the families.

The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has opened a command post for the families of the Indonesian passengers aboard the missing Boeing 777-200 aircraft. The embassy can be contacted by phone at +60321164016/4017, by fax at +60321417908 or by email at

Tatang said the ministry had assigned its officials in KL International Airport to keep in touch with Malaysia Airlines. He added that the ministry had received the passport numbers of all of the Indonesian passengers and contacted their families.

CH Siregar, the father of Firman Chandra, said in Medan that his son had just got a job with oilfield service company Schlumberger. He was supposed to be posted to Beijing for three years, media reports have said.

Johannes Sutrysno Pangaribuan, a former fellow student at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) said Firman Chandra was a diligent student and was active in ITB's North Sumatra Art Unit (UKSU).

"He was a representative council member of the UKSU. It is like the House of Representatives in the organisation, and we both had a pretty good interaction there," he said.

He said Firman Chandra was involved in many activities in the Electrical Engineering Union (HME). Both Johannes and Firman Chandra took the same sub-major, electrical power, as their focus of study.

Indonesian Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Hadi Tjahjanto said they would respond to any request to help search for the missing aircraft, using their base in the Natuna Islands, in Riau province.

Hadi said that the air force would be ready at any time to assist in the search operation.

"As soon as we receive a request, we could help the Malaysian government to search for the missing passengers. Our Natuna-based team is still observing the conditions in the South China Sea at the moment."

Transportation Ministry acting spokesman Bambang S. Ervan said that Malaysia Airlines was one of the most popular South-East Asian airlines for Indonesian international travelers.

Bambang said that the airline had been able to fill the gap in limited international capacity for air passengers in the country.

"Malaysia Airlines keeps expanding its business in Indonesia and it shows the strong demand for international travel services among people here," he said.

Malaysia Airlines has been operating in Indonesia for more than 40 years. At the end of 2012, they increased their Jakarta–Kuala Lumpur service from six to seven times daily. The airline also connects Malaysia's capital city to Medan, North Sumatra and Denpasar, Bali. — The Jakarta Post / Asia News Network

Singapore sends more help in search for plane

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

SINGAPORE has sent more military planes and ships to help in the six-country search for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane that went missing on Saturday.

Two military transport planes, a naval helicopter, two warships and a submarine support and rescue vessel are currently involved in the search, said the Defence Ministry in a statement yesterday.

These exclude the first military transport plane that had been deployed on Saturday which has since returned, the ministry added.

In a post on its Facebook page at about 9am yesterday, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) said that its missile corvette, frigate and Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter joined in the search for MAS flight MH370 at 2am.

All hands on deck: A combo picture showing the 'MV Swift Rescue' joining the search effort for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the South China Sea.  -SINGAPORE NAVY VIA FACEBOOK

The naval helicopter – which can drop sonar underwater – is on board the RSS Steadfast, one of the navy's Formidable class of frigates – its most advanced warships that are designed for stealth, speed and manoeuvrability.

The RSS Vigour belongs to its Victory class of missile corvettes, which are fast attack vessels with search capabilities that form what the navy calls "the backbone of the RSN's strike capability".

The RSN added that its submarine support and rescue vessel, the MV Swift Rescue, which had been preparing for the operation through the night, joined in later.

The submarine support and rescue vessel is equipped to search underwater and has divers on board.

In a tweet yesterday morning, the Singapore Army wished them success.

Earlier, on Saturday, the first Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130 aircraft took off at noon to assist in the search, which the RSAF, Singapore Rescue Co-ordination Centre and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore are helping to coordinate.

It returned on Saturday night, and two other C-130 planes have since taken its place, the ministry said.

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen called his counterpart, Malaysia Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, on Saturday night to convey Singapore's sympathies and offer assistance.

On top of the military transport plane, he also offered the use of the submarine support vessel, which Hishamuddin, who is also Acting Transport Minister, accepted.

On Saturday, both Singapore's Chief of Navy, Rear-Admiral Ng Chee Peng, and Chief of Air Force, Major-General Hoo Cher Mou, spoke to their counterparts, the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy, Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Haji Jaafar, and the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, General Tan Sri Dato Sri Rodzali Daud, to coordinate the details of the Singapore Armed Forces' assistance and offer additional assistance if required.

Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, China and the United States are also involved in the search for the missing plane. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

To live past 100 years

Posted: 08 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST

The key to a long life, experts agree, is moderation and involvement.

AFTER celebrating his 100th birthday in Sacramento, California, with friends and family, Lou Weintraub headed to sea for a 10-day cruise with his wife.

"You should have seen the number of older people on the cruise," said Weintraub, who retired from work as a non-profit executive in 1979.

"They weren't older than you," said his wife, Roz Levy-Weintraub, 82, who still works selling real estate.

"But they looked older," said Weintraub.

"And they seemed older," agreed Levy-Weintraub.

He was born to Polish immigrant parents in New York on Jan 25, 1914, the middle of their three offspring. Weintraub was a child of the hard Depression years, and later, as a young man, he served as a clinical psychologist in the military during World War II.

Sharp and involved in the community as a volunteer even today, he remembers it all.

As a centenarian, Weintraub is part of another significant moment: the rapid demographic shift into very old age.

According to the 2010 US census, America is home to the world's largest population of centenarians, more than 53,300 people 100 years old and older.

That number represents an astonishing 66% increase over the nation's centenarians in 1980. During the same time, the country's total population grew by 36%.

And California leads the way with the oldest of the old: In 2010, according to the census, the state was home to 5,921 centenarians, or more than one-tenth of the US's total population 100 years old and older.

Celebrating a 100th birthday – that special milestone for centenarians – is becoming statistically commonplace.

"We've seen life expectancy make gains in the past 100 years," said Joe Rodrigues, long-term care ombudsman for the California Department of Aging. "We used to say the fastest-growing segment of our oldest adults was 85 and older. Today, it's 100 and older."

People are paying attention to that statistical reality: To recognise people turning 100, Assembly member Mariko Yamada of Davis, California, established what she calls the Century Circle of centenarians in her district.

Since 2010, her office said, she has honoured 91 100-year-olds.

And there are enough people living to 100 that the Social Security Administration has created the Centenarian Project, which seeks to verify that centenarians receiving benefits are really still alive.

Experts on ageing know that centenarians are most likely to be female and white, residents of the West or the South, and living on their own or with family members, not in nursing care.

But why are so many more people today living so much longer?

Winning the genetic lottery plays a big role – Weintraub's older sister, for example, lived to age 102. But genes aren't the whole story.

"Genes are 30% of healthy aging," said Cheryl Osborne, chairman of the California State University-Sacramento gerontology programme. "The other 70% involves what we do with what we've got.

"To live to 100, you have to be well physically and socially and psychologically and spiritually. These are not people who are dying in skilled nursing. They're actively living in the community."

And they've been lucky. To live to 100, today's centenarians had to survive their earliest years: More than 25% of children born in the early 1900s died before they reached school age.

Life at the turn of the last century was hard, and often, it was short. The average life expectancy was 47.

Today's centenarians had to survive the war years, as well as the diseases that in the 1960s struck down so many of their generation in middle age, such as heart attack and cancer.

"We've seen many advances in medicine," Rodrigues said, "and we've seen people manage chronic disease with medication. Now we're living longer but we're living with more chronic conditions, like heart disease and arthritis – but those conditions are managed with medication."

To live to 100, the oldest Americans long ago learned to keep going, to walk and garden, to spend time with family and friends. The key to a long life, experts agree, is moderation and involvement.

"In every centenarian study I've seen in the past 20 years, the data is consistent," Osborne said. "You've got to believe in something beyond yourself. You have to take care of yourself. You've got to exercise in some way. You need to be around people and give back to your community.

"You have to have a purpose for getting up every day."

Lou Weintraub does. Really, he always has.

A long-time executive with San Francisco's Jewish Community Federation before he retired, he has served on the board of a number of commissions and non-profits in Sacramento, where he moved in 1989.

His eyes bother him a bit these days. He was diagnosed with macular degeneration at age 98. That's when he gave up his driver's license and stepped back a bit from some of his activities.

But he still works out at the gym three times every week, and he still attends Renaissance Society classes on the CSUS campus. He goes to meetings with his volunteer groups and does his own taxes.

"What I see about Lou is that he cares more about other people than himself," his wife said. "He's always caring about somebody else."

Weintraub's congregation, Mosaic Law, honoured his birthday during a shabbat service and lunch afterward.

"Mr Weintraub has the energy of a 50-year-old," Rabbi Reuven Taff said. "He's not somebody who looks for honours. He's one of the most humble guys but he possesses tremendous strength of character."

But Weintraub doesn't pretend to have answers for his longevity.

"People ask how I've lived to be 100," he said. "You can say you've had the best medical care, but so have others.

"You trust. You have to believe. All I can think is, someone up there has said, 'Stay alive.'" – The Sacramento Bee/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

The super broccoli

Posted: 08 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST

A new technique boosts broccoli's shelf life and health benefits.

BROCCOLI has long been celebrated for its many nutritional benefits, including its anti-cancer properties.

In addition to ongoing research involving the veggie's use in preventing cancer, researchers at the University of Illinois, US, have found a way to prolong broccoli's shelf life.

The research, recently published in the medical journal PLOS ONE, details a reportedly natural, inexpensive way to produce broccoli that won't spoil quickly and features even more health benefits.

Jack Juvik, a University of Illinois crop sciences researcher, discussed how a combination of two plant compounds not only increased "the presence of cancer-fighting agents" in the vegetable, but also contributed to longer shelf life.

"We had figured out ways to increase the anti-cancer activity in broccoli, but the way we figured it out created a situation that would cause the product to deteriorate more rapidly after application," Juvik said. "If we could figure out a way to prolong the appearance, taste, and flavour long after harvest and maintain the improved health-promoting properties, that's always of great interest to growers."

Researchers began by spraying broccoli plants with methyl jasmonate (MeJA), a reportedly non-toxic plant-signal compound, four days before harvest.

This compound intensifies the vegetable's cancer-fighting properties by triggering gene activity associated with the biosynthesis of glucosinolates (GS), compounds found in broccoli and other brassica vegetable tissue.

Glucosinolates are considered anti-cancer agents due to their ability to induce detoxification enzymes, which cleanse and remove carcinogens from the body.

While MeJA increases the veggie's cancer-fighting abilities, it also "signals a network of genes" that release ethylene, thus causing plant decay.

Researchers then applied recently developed compound 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) to the same broccoli plants, as the compound, also said to be non-toxic, interferes with receptor proteins sensitive to ethylene, thereby stopping or slowing the decay.

"It's very cheap, and it's about as toxic as salt," Juvik said of 1-MCP. "It's volatile and disappears from the product after about 10 hours," he claimed, also noting the positive effect these treatments could have.

"These are not pills that go in and take away or change damaged tissues, but it's a way to protect people by reducing the risk they currently have to different diseases," he said.

Meanwhile, since 2011 shoppers in the UK have been able to buy a so-called "super broccoli" called Beneforté. Developed by British researchers using conventional breeding techniques, it is said to contain extra potent levels of glucoraphanin, thought to help lower the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Late in 2010, controversial agribusiness giant Monsanto and Apio Inc quietly launched a US-grown version of the super broccoli. – AFP Relaxnews

Diabetes: Making the right choices

Posted: 08 Mar 2014 08:00 AM PST

Does having diabetes mean you have to forgo all that delicious food?

MALAYSIA is renowned as a food haven. We have a diverse range of cuisines to tease our palates.

Can delicious food still be a choice for people with diabetes? To answer this, let's review how diabetes is managed with dietary modification over the past 30 years.

Healthy eating is part of an important component of a healthy lifestyle for people with diabetes. Do they need to choose foods differently from the general population? Not really.

If you were to compare the dietary recommendations for the general population and those for people with diabetes, you will find that they are actually similar.

Both recommend foods that are low in fat, salt and sugar, and high in fibre. Foods are to be chosen from all major food groups – grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein-rich foods. The key principles in making healthy food choices are balance, variety and moderation.

A major difference between the two dietary recommendations is people with diabetes must regulate their carbohydrate intake carefully.

Carbohydrate from food gets digested to form glucose, and this results in an increase in blood glucose.

Food rich in carbohydrate include grains, rice, noodles, bread, starchy vegetables, fruits, beans, milk and sugary foods.

Thus, consuming a consistent amount of carbohydrate distributed throughout the day with regular meals helps to keep blood glucose levels more constant.

People with diabetes should avoid skipping meals. They should also not have double servings of carbohydrate rich food, e.g. two bowls of rice instead of one for lunch, and adjust for it following dinner with no carbohydrate intake.

This helps prevent wide and undesirable fluctuations of blood glucose levels. Thus, regular food quantity and timing is as important as the amount of food consumed.

Is sugar allowed?

What about sugars and sweets? For many years, people with diabetes were told to avoid sugar, sweets and some starches. Now, it is known that a small amount of sucrose or table sugar can be incorporated into a healthy eating plan, provided the carbohydrate contribution is accounted for.

When table sugar is used judiciously, it can help to make some food more appealing and improve its palatability, for example, adding half a teaspoon of sugar in a bowl of oats porridge with skim milk.

Research has shown that small amounts of table sugar does not raise blood glucose as rapidly as we used to think. However, foods or drinks concentrated with sugar are not encouraged as they do not provide much nutritional value. This is more so for those who are overweight or have high triglyceride (a certain type of abnormal blood cholesterol pattern) in their blood.

Carbohydrates – the new sin?

Carbohydrates from different types of food are absorbed into the blood stream at different rates. Complex carbohydrates, e.g. whole grain, is absorbed slower than simple sugars, and do not spike up blood glucose level after eating.

Nevertheless, total carbohydrate intake rather than the type of carbohydrate has a greater impact on blood glucose. Hence, people with diabetes need to keep track of the amount of carbohydrate they consume to keep to the recommended portions within the meal plan.

It is best to choose healthy carbohydrate-rich foods, with at least half of the carbohydrates as whole grains. Regular fruit intake is also encouraged.

Monitoring carbohydrate intake by carbohydrate counting, or experience-based estimation, remains a key strategy in blood glucose control. Use carbohydrate food exchange lists, nutrition information on food labels and nutrition food databases as tools to help in carbohydrate counting.

You can also use a healthy food plate model as a visual concept to help control carbohydrate intake through portion control and balance. (See illustration – Healthy Food Plate Model).

A healthy balanced meal should include plenty of vegetables, with moderate amounts of carbohydrate and some protein.

Food choices should be low in fat, especially saturated fats (e.g. curries rich in coconut milk, fatty meats).

Saturated fats, trans fats (which act like saturated fats) and cholesterol from food increase blood cholesterol levels. High blood cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart problems, a major cause of death for most people with diabetes.

In addition, gram for gram, fats provide more than double the energy compared to protein and carbohydrates. All types of fats (including healthy unsaturated fats) are dense in energy.

For those who need to reduce weight, reduce caloric intake by lowering fat intake. Choose foods prepared with little oil or fats, and those of a lower fat alternative, e.g. skim milk or low fat milk replacing full cream milk.

Over the past 30 years, dietary recommendations for people with diabetes have been revised. Current recommendations have moved away from focusing on what foods to avoid, to adopting smart healthy eating as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Make the right food choices at the right portions and have them regularly at the right time. For the change to be sustainable, foods should remain interesting, appealing, and taste delicious.

Lee Lai Fun is dietician and diabetes educator. Dr Hew Fen Lee is a consultant endocrinologist. This article is contributed by The Star Health & Ageing Panel, which comprises a group of panellists who are not just opinion leaders in their respective fields of medical expertise, but have wide experience in medical health education for the public. The members of the panel include: Datuk Prof Dr Tan Hui Meng, consultant urologist; Dr Yap Piang Kian, consultant endocrinologist; Datuk Dr Azhari Rosman, consultant cardiologist; A/Prof Dr Philip Poi, consultant geriatrician; Dr Hew Fen Lee, consultant endocrinologist; Prof Dr Low Wah Yun, psychologist; Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist; Dr Lee Moon Keen, consultant neurologist; Dr Ting Hoon Chin, consultant dermatologist; Prof Khoo Ee Ming, primary care physician; Dr Ng Soo Chin, consultant haematologist. For more information, e-mail The Star Health & Ageing Advisory Panel provides this information for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star Health & Ageing Advisory Panel disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this article.


The Star Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved