Selasa, 27 Mei 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

China sentences 55 in mass trial at Xinjiang stadium

Posted: 27 May 2014 11:11 PM PDT

BEIJING: Authorities in China's mainly Muslim Xinjiang mounted a mass sentencing in a stadium for 55 people on offences including terrorism, state media said Wednesday, as they press a crackdown on escalating violence.

About 7,000 people and Communist Party officials in Ili prefecture attended the "mass gathering for public sentencing, public arrests and public criminal detention, punishing a group of violent terrorist criminals in accordance with the law", said an online report by the official news agency Xinhua.

Judicial officials at the stadium issued punishments for crimes including murder, separatism and organising, leading or participating in a terrorist group, harbouring criminals and rape.

Three were sentenced to death for using hatchets and other weapons to murder a family of four last year "using extremely cruel methods", the report said.

At the stadium, police also announced the formal arrests of 38 suspects and detained another 27.

Photos showed armed officers guarding the premises, and the accused crammed into backs of lorries wearing orange vests and bent forward as helmeted security forces stood over them.

The event was intended to demonstrate authorities' "resolute determination crack down on the 'three forces' of violent terrorism", Ili's deputy party chief was cited as saying, referring to separatism, extremism and terrorism.

China used mass trials in the 1980s and 90s to try to combat the rise in crime driven by the social upheavals that accompanied the country's dramatic Reform and Opening economic overhaul, but the practice later faded.

Beijing at the weekend vowed a year-long crackdown on terrorism following a string of attacks blamed on militants from Xinjiang, home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority, with violence in recent months increasingly targeting civilians and spreading elsewhere in China.

Last week five suspects killed 39 people and wounded more than 90 at a market in the regional capital Urumqi.

On April 30, the final day of a visit by President Xi Jinping to the region, attackers killed one person and wounded 79 at an Urumqi railway station.

In March knifemen killed 29 people and wounded 143 at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming, an incident dubbed "China's 9/11" by state media.

Beijing says it faces a violent separatist movement driven by religious extremism and backed by overseas terrorist organisations.

But experts question how organised the groups in Xinjiang are, while rights groups point to cultural repression of Uighurs and economic favouritism towards an influx of the ethnic majority Han into the resource-rich region.

Dilshat Rexit, a spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, said in a statement: "The judiciary has become a means of assisting China's crackdown against Uighurs.

"China's provocations will spur even more despairing Uighurs to fiercer resistance." - AFP

Cambodia jails three foreigners for smuggling heroin

Posted: 27 May 2014 11:06 PM PDT

PHNOM PENH: A Cambodian court sentenced three foreigners from Australia, France and Nigeria to between 23 and 27 years in prison on Wednesday for attempted heroin smuggling.

Australian woman Yoshe Ann Taylor, 41, and French woman Charlene Savarino, 19, were arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport with 2.2 kilos (4.8 pounds) of heroin in a backpack in September last year.

Precious Chineme Nwoko, 23, from Nigeria was arrested the same month at his rental home in the capital.
Judge Kor Vandy at Phnom Penh Municipal Court said the three defendants were guilty of "cross-border smuggling of illegal drugs".

Savarino was sentenced to 25 years in jail, while Taylor was handed 23 years and Nwoko received a 27-year jail term.

They declined to comment when asked about the court ruling.

Two other Nigerian men, who remain at large, were sentenced in their absence to 27 years in jail each for their involvement in the case.

During their trial last month, the two women said the backpack belonged to Savarino's boyfriend Nwoko and that he was sending it to an unidentified man in Australia.

Cambodia has become a popular smuggling route for narcotics, particularly methamphetamines and heroin, since neighbouring Thailand toughened its stance on illegal drugs in 2002.

Cambodia has ramped up its war on drugs in recent years, resulting in hundreds of arrests, some involving senior officials.- AFP

Bangladesh ready to work with new Indian PM Modi

Posted: 27 May 2014 10:52 PM PDT

TOKYO: Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Wednesday she was ready to work with her new Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, despite his hardline image.

Hasina, who is serving as premier for the third time, said she has dealt with four different Indian governments - "This is the fifth one" - and was keen to maintain a working relationship with her powerful and populous neighbour.

"He has his own ideas. Now he has become the prime minister of India, I hope he will also act as the prime minister of India," she told a press conference in Tokyo, on the fourth day of her visit to Japan.

Modi, sworn in Monday after a landslide election victory earlier this month, has an image as a hardliner, even within his own Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He is regarded with deep suspicion by many in Pakistan after deadly anti-Muslim riots erupted in his western fiefdom of Gujarat in 2002.

However, Hasina said Muslim-majority Bangladesh has had good relations with India where differences have been resolved through discussions, such as concluding a treaty on water resources.

"What I believe is that through bilateral discussions, if there is any problem, we can solve it," she said.

She stressed the region shares a "common enemy" in poverty, which it needs to fight through economic development.

"Bangladesh's foreign policy is very clear. Friendship to all, and malice to none," she said.

Hasina also suggested that Bangladesh was ready to withdraw its rival candidacy against Japan for a non-permanent member seat on the UN Security Council, if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were to visit her nation.

Abe, who met with Hasina on Monday, gave $5.9 billion economic aid.-AFP


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

On The Air: 3 Days

Posted: 27 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

I CAUGHT 3 Days for three reasons: Park Yoochun, Park Yoochun, Park Yoochun. There, I said it.

After watching the 16-episode series that centres on an elite presidential guard, it has not convinced me to become a fan of action thrillers.

It stars the good-looking triple threat; as a member of the South Korean boyband JYJ, Park sings, dances and acts (quadruple threat, if you count knitting. He knits!).

The show is redolent of the real-time format of the successful Hollywood TV series 24 is rather confusing and devoid of humour and romance. What it has are endless car chases, gun fights and gratuitous killings, but lacking in character development.

The main culprit, portrayed by Choi Won-young, is a mercenary, warmongering Dr Strangelove. It gets tiresome watching his murderous bids.

All said, however, I still find Park a competent actor with an improved range in his acting. Can I say it again? He is smokin' hot! — Looi Lai Yee

3 Days airs every Wednesday and Thursday at 8.55pm on One HD (Astro Ch 393).

On The Air: American Horror Story: Coven

Posted: 27 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The third season of Ryan Murphy's horror anthology goes behind the doors of a boarding school in New Orleans that houses a coven of Salem descendants. But Hogwarts, Miss Robichaux's Academy is not.

To begin with, there are only four students – the spoiled teenage movie star Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) who also happens to move things with her mind, clairvoyant Nan (Jamie Brewer), human voodoo doll Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) who seems to hmm ... you know what, I still haven't the faintest idea what Zoe's power is.

The girl accidentally killed her boyfriend after sleeping with him (making the scene part of television's greatest celibacy campaigns).

For all its spellbinding characters and wickedly delicious female ensemble (Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett are regulars), the series suffers from a chaotic narrative that tries to incorporate too much – controversial historical figures, racism, oppression, female empowerment – within indistinct story arcs.

Coven is cerebral when it should have just been dramatic and explicit when it should have just been campy. — Chester Chin

American Horror Story: Coven airs every Thursday at 11pm on FX HD (Astro Ch 726).

On The Air: Castle

Posted: 27 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

AFTER a lacklustre fifth season finale – a romantic proposal coupled with bittersweet news that Kate Beckett may leave for a job in Washington, D.C. – Season Six begins with ... more lacklustre action.

Of course Beckett said yes! Of course Castle agrees to support her career move! But, wait! Does Beckett and Castle's long-distance relationship mean we will see less of Esposito and Ryan?

I've come to adore these two characters especially after the couple went all sappy on us! Thankfully, Beckett returns to the NYPD and the foursome are reunited.

But even better than that, their brief separation seems to have revived the series almost back to orginal form. Almost. There is more focus on the weekly criminal cases and less sappy love drama. Hopefully, the season will have some pizzazz. — S. Indramalar

Castle airs every Monday at 9.50pm on Fox (Astro Ch 710).


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Emblematic Venezuelan prisoner begins hunger strike for freedom

Posted: 27 May 2014 09:00 PM PDT

CARACAS (Reuters) - An imprisoned former Caracas police commissioner at the centre of stalled political talks between Venezuela's government and opposition went on a hunger strike on Tuesday, demanding he be released due to frail health.

Ivan Simonovis, 54, was sentenced to 30 years behind bars after being convicted of participating in the assassination of four protesters during a march that triggered a brief coup against the late President Hugo Chavez in 2002.

Freedom for Simonovis has become a rallying cry for the opposition, which has expressed outrage at his imprisonment in a small cell and says his osteoporosis requires urgent medical attention.

The issue was a factor in this month's collapse of negotiations between the opposition and President Nicolas Maduro's government. The talks had been aimed at ending street protests that had been raging since February.

Protesters staged near-daily marches over three months to decry crime, inflation and food shortages. It was the worst unrest since a tumultuous two-year period around the time of the coup.

The demonstrations have ebbed in recent weeks but Simonovis' announcement may rekindle passions in deeply polarized Venezuela.

"All the legal and political efforts to receive a response to the (release) demands I made 10 months ago have been exhausted," Simonovis said in a letter read by his lawyer in front of the Supreme Court.

"I'm tired of acting in accordance to the law, yet no one listens to me. Despite my health condition and against the will of my family, I've decided to start a hunger strike in my cell as of today," the letter said.

Simonovis is one of the highest-profile cases among several dozen opposition-linked figures who ended up in prison during Chavez's 14-year rule from 1999.

For government supporters, Simonovis is a dangerous and violent saboteur who played a role in illegally unseating a democratically elected president. He was sentenced in 2009 after lengthy proceedings. Several other officers were convicted.

Later on Tuesday, Maduro slammed mainstream media for seeking to "convert a murderer into a victim."

"I won't waver in ensuring justice is done," he said during an hours-long radio program called "In Contact with Maduro."

"One sees that there's not even a minimum of reflection, of regret here. To the contrary, (opponents) continue to seek the same thing, to use violence to impose a capitalist, retrograde and repressive regime in Venezuela."

In recent months, the government has arrested more than 3,200 people during protests, of whom 224 remain behind bars, according to government figures. The best known is Leopoldo Lopez, a hardline opposition leader.

Senior Socialist Party official Jorge Rodriguez infuriated Simonovis's supporters earlier this month, saying the man's case was not on the agenda of the now-suspended talks despite opposition assertions his release was being negotiated.

"Those were vivid fantasies," Rodriguez said.

Simonovis's family say his health is so weak he runs the risk of breaking bones from simple acts such as lacing up his shoes.

The case may evoke memories of farmer Franklin Brito, who died in 2010 after a hunger strike to protest against Chavez's land takeovers.

(Writing and additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Jonathan Oatis and Paul Tait)

Australia opposition leader expects mining, carbon taxes to be repealed

Posted: 27 May 2014 08:50 PM PDT

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten said on Wednesday he expects the mining and carbon taxes introduced by his party in the previous parliamentary term to be repealed despite opposition from Labor and some minority parties.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made repealing the taxes a centrepiece of his government's agenda, but doubts have grown about the ability to pass the legislation given stated opposition from lawmakers including mining tycoon Clive Palmer's Palmer United Party.

"The mining tax, I suspect will be repealed despite Labor's position," Shorten said in response to questions at a meeting of mining executives in Canberra.

Shorten also said that he believes the carbon tax would be repealed this year, after a new upper house Senate is sworn in July.

(Reporting by James Regan; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

Thai military rulers appoint advisers; economy in doldrums

Posted: 27 May 2014 08:35 PM PDT

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's junta has appointed as advisers two retired generals with palace connections, putting powerful establishment figures hostile towards former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra firmly in the ascendant in the country's long-running power struggle.

Hoping to show things are getting back to normal, the military has also relaxed a night-time curfew brought in after it seized power in a May 22 coup, and is expected to speed up efforts to get the economy moving again after months of debilitating political protests.

Data on Wednesday showed factory output fell 3.9 percent in April from a year earlier, the 13th monthly drop in a row.

Figures later in the day are forecast to show imports tumbled 18.2 percent that month. Exports may have risen marginally, but that will not be enough to offset the depression in the domestic economy.

The team of advisers announced in a brief statement late on Tuesday included a former defence minister, General Prawit Wongsuwan, and former army chief General Anupong Paochinda.

The two are towering figures in Thailand's military establishment and have close ties to coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha. All three are staunch monarchists and helped oust Thaksin, who remains at the heart of the political crisis, in a 2006 coup.

A Reuters report in December revealed that Prawit and Anupong had secretly backed the anti-government protests that undermined the government of Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. She was removed by a court on May 7 for abuse of power and the coup ousted remaining ministers two weeks later.

Also among the advisers is Pridiyathorn Devakula, overseeing the economy. A former central banker, he was finance minister in an interim government after the 2006 coup when strict capital controls were introduced to hold down the baht, causing the stock market to plunge 15 percent in one day.

Thailand's gross domestic product shrank 2.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014 as the anti-government protests frequently shut down ministries, damaged confidence and scared off tourists.

The military has moved quickly to tackle economic problems, notably preparing payments for hundreds of thousands of rice farmers that the ousted government was unable to make.

But General Prayuth has not set any timetable for elections, saying broad reforms are needed first.

That may further complicate relations with foreign governments that have called for a speedy return to democracy, an end to censorship and the release of politicians, protest leaders, journalists and others detained.

"We're going to have to continue to calibrate how we'll work with the government and military when they don't show any pathway back to civilian rule," a senior U.S. official told Reuters in Washington. "We're very concerned and there will be an impact on our relationship."


Scores of politicians and activists have been detained as the military moves to stifle resistance to its takeover.

There have been daily, peaceful protests against the coup in Bangkok with crowds calling for elections and confronting troops, although the number of protesters had dwindled to about 200 on Tuesday from about 1,000 on Sunday.

A seven-hour curfew the army imposed after the coup from 10 p.m each night will from Wednesday be shortened to four hours starting from midnight.

Thaksin has not commented on the coup except to say he was saddened and hoped the military would treat everyone fairly. Yingluck has been released from detention but remains under some restrictions, officers and aides say.

Soldiers detained a former education minister, Chaturon Chaisang, on Wednesday after he had emerged from hiding to denounce the coup, saying it would only worsen conflict. He said people in detention were not being treated badly.

Years of political turmoil have polarised Thailand.

The Shinawatras' strength is in the north and northeast, populous, mostly rural regions that have won them every election since 2001. Some Thaksin loyalists had vowed to resist a coup and the army and police are hunting for weapons.

Many Bangkok voters support the establishment and approve of the coup if it means ending Thaksin's influence. They say he is corrupt and disrespectful to the monarchy. He denies that.

Most Thais express steadfast loyalty to 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

"This is a good coup," said Chanchai Thonprasertvej, 54, a doctor at a small pro-coup gathering at Bangkok's Democracy Monument on Tuesday. "The army can protect the land and the king. It will protect my country from Thaksin."

(Additional reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Orathai Sriring in Bangkok, Andrew R.C. Marshall and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Writing by Robert Birsel and Alan Raybould; Editing by Alex Richardson)


The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

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The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

Exclusive Tiger Translate passes up for grabs

Posted: 25 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Be a witness to the collaboration of music and arts.

WHEN it comes to an exciting combination of art and music in one event, look no further than Tiger Translate. To be held on June 14 at Kenanga City in Kuala Lumpur, this event features live performances by English alternative band Editors, indie rock outfit Chochukmo and Manic Sheep. Local musician OJ Law will be bringing his signature electro-pop music to the event as well.

The event will also see graffiti artiste Kenji Chai, tattooist Lynda Chean with graphic designers Tsu Ann and Jayme from Kickatomic collaborating for a live art project.

Since 2005, Tiger Translate has been showcasing the best collaboration of music and arts in various cities including New York, London and Dubai.

The platform aims to celebrate global creativity through the exposure of various cultures and experiences.

The exclusive event is by–invitation only and Star2 wants you to be a part of it.

For a chance to walk away with a pair of passes to Tiger Translate Malaysia 2014, answer the following question: which country is the Editors from? There are 300 passes up for grabs.

Send your answer to now! Don't forget to include your name, IC number and phone number. Contest ends June 6, 2014. Terms and conditions apply.

The Tiger Translate event in Kenanga City, Kuala Lumpur on June 14 is strictly open to non–Muslims aged 18 years and above. For more on Tiger Translate and its past events, please visit


The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Exclusive Tiger Translate passes up for grabs

Posted: 25 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Be a witness to the collaboration of music and arts.

WHEN it comes to an exciting combination of art and music in one event, look no further than Tiger Translate. To be held on June 14 at Kenanga City in Kuala Lumpur, this event features live performances by English alternative band Editors, indie rock outfit Chochukmo and Manic Sheep. Local musician OJ Law will be bringing his signature electro-pop music to the event as well.

The event will also see graffiti artiste Kenji Chai, tattooist Lynda Chean with graphic designers Tsu Ann and Jayme from Kickatomic collaborating for a live art project.

Since 2005, Tiger Translate has been showcasing the best collaboration of music and arts in various cities including New York, London and Dubai.

The platform aims to celebrate global creativity through the exposure of various cultures and experiences.

The exclusive event is by–invitation only and Star2 wants you to be a part of it.

For a chance to walk away with a pair of passes to Tiger Translate Malaysia 2014, answer the following question: which country is the Editors from? There are 300 passes up for grabs.

Send your answer to now! Don't forget to include your name, IC number and phone number. Contest ends June 6, 2014. Terms and conditions apply.

The Tiger Translate event in Kenanga City, Kuala Lumpur on June 14 is strictly open to non–Muslims aged 18 years and above. For more on Tiger Translate and its past events, please visit


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

China CNPC to invest at least US$2bil in Peru after Petrobas deal

Posted: 27 May 2014 07:23 PM PDT

LIMA: The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) expects to invest at least US$2bil in Peru over the next 10 years, after having recently bought Petrobras' assets in the country, a top CNPC executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We are looking for more opportunities in Peru, to acquire companies or to participate in the bidding of oil fields," Gong Bencai, head of CNPC's Latin America division, said in an interview at CNPC's Lima offices.

Peru has already approved an environmental permit allowing CNPC to conduct US$1bil of exploratory work in a natural gas block purchased from Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras.

More investment is likely on the way, the CNPC executive said.

In particular, he said CNPC is eyeing a US$4bil gas pipeline project in southern Peru.

"We are very interested in the southern pipeline," Gong said.

The pipeline would transport natural gas from the Andean Camisea deposit to thermoelectric plants on Peru's Pacific coast.

US Fed's Lockhart says some parts of US job market near full employment

Posted: 27 May 2014 07:16 PM PDT

BATON ROUGE: U.S. labor markets may be approaching full employment in certain industries and regions, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart said on Tuesday, pointing to skilled trades in places such as Louisiana's oil sector.

The situation has created a patchwork across the country, with many other aspects of the job market still weak and in need of continued loose monetary policy.

Lockhart said that in order to support full employment he was willing to tolerate an overshoot of the Fed's 2 percent inflation target to as high as 2.5 percent.

He also said he felt markets would respond better if the Fed continues reinvesting the proceeds of any maturing bonds until after the point when it has decided to begin increasing interest rates.- Reuters

US Fed's Lockhart sees neutral Federal Funds Rate around 4%

Posted: 27 May 2014 07:13 PM PDT

BATON ROUGE: The long-term neutral federal funds rate remains around 4 percent, not the lower levels some have said may result from a weakened economy, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart said on Tuesday.

Lockhart said he thought the economy would be strong enough over time to warrant a federal funds rate close to the long-term average. He also said he was confident that workers have not been locked out of jobs because of skills mismatch and will come back to work as conditions improve.- Reuters


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Meant For Each Other

Posted: 26 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A Malaysian-made tale of aliens and ancient secrets.

AS the nation has developed, so too has our local comics scene expanded and improved in recent years. After finishing Meant For Each Other (MFEO), I now believe that that local comics can be compared favourably to more internationally-known Japanese manga.

MFEO is a comedy-adventure drawn by Lu Wun Khang, who uses the pen name Zint in all his works. The artist/writer, known for stories like the Under 18 series, The Adventures Of Kroit and 2 Dudes, has more than 20 titles under his belt.

His latest work deals with extraterrestrial beings who invade Earth in search of an ancient power. Malaysian locations like the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the jungles of Sarawak figure prominently in the story.

In brief, MFEO revolves around a 17-year-old boy named Feroz who unsuspectingly swallows an "inkrip", the energy source of his newfound alien pet called Zouk. Feroz is joined by his friends, Amri and Isma, who coincidentally meet other alien beings similar to Zouk, from the planet Tation.

These beings are on a quest: to find the Mazazon, a power that will enable its wielder to rule Tation. They are constantly under attack from other alien beings that also seek it, only for evil purposes.

As the group closes in on the prize, it discovers an ancient secret that has been lost in time, just waiting to be uncovered.

With so much drama in the plot, the comic is gripping and a delight to read.

The Adventures Of Kroit

Posted: 26 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Step into the realm of divine and supernatural entities with the 'King of Thieves'.

ONCE again, another fantastic comic by local talent Zint.

This is the story of a thief named Kroit who calls himself the "King of Thieves". One unfortunate day, he is arrested and thrown in prison where he meets a mystical creature named Sagittarius Ecronomicon Frelia, who takes on the form of a flower.

Kroit discovers that Frelia was cursed, turned into a flower – a talking flower at that – and sent to Earth.

Frelia only seeks to return to his homeland, the magical city of Sorga Loka, which is in an alternate universe. He requires a human spirit to travel from Earth to Sorga Loka, and eventually uses Kroit as his "host" – fusing himself to Kroit's left arm, also to prevent Kroit from bailing on him.

The fully coloured comic takes readers into the realm of divine and supernatural entities. Along the way, they meet allies like King Doros and Stinky, who help them in their effort to reach Sorga Loka.

For them to get there, however, they must navigate the depths of the abyss called Dark Village, a hellish place filled with creatures that feed on human spirits; venture through the dense jungles of the Shadow Forest; and cross the Lava Canyon (the same says it all). In each place, they face strange creatures that seem to have it in for them.

While the plot keeps things interesting, the timeline seems to be somewhat inconsistent as the story begins in the Middle Ages and ends in an era that looks a lot like the 21st century.

It's also worth noting that humour is a major element in the comic and even the plot revolves around it. There is a running joke throughout the story in which Kroit is continually mugged for money and he retaliates by claiming that he is the real king of thieves.

Visit for more titles. Comics by Zint can be purchased at major bookstores in Malaysia.

Revival Vol 1: You’re Among Friends

Posted: 26 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Another tale of the undead ... only these ones aren't zombies.

IN the sleepy mid-western American town of Wausau, Wisconsin, something strange is happening. A mysterious event known as "Revival Day" has brought the recently deceased back to life.

Dubbed "revivers" or "revitalised citizens", the newly risen dead are not mindless zombies like those fromThe Walking Dead. In fact, they still act and behave like normal people, just as they were before they died.

Some of these revivers take the experience well and just continue with their lives, though others can't come to grips with it and their state of mind is affected.

Complications arise as the living are forced to live side by side with the revivers, and it is not long before protagonist Dana Cypress, a local cop, is called into action to investigate strange events that have shaken up the community.

Each issue of Revival is structured like an episode of a TV show with multi-layered stories that follow different characters.

Apart from Dana, Revival follows the exploits of her younger sister Em who, we discover by the end of the first issue, is also a reviver.

The book also provides a third point of view from the perspective of reporter May Tao, who is determined to uncover the truth behind the event.

Like an episode of The X-Files, the story skilfully balances the elements of mystery, horror and drama that pull all the different characters together.

It certainly is interesting to see the characters debate the implications of a world where people who die don't stay dead.

Even the US Government gets in on the action, imposing a quarantine on the town. It makes for a tense situation as both the living and the revivers have to get along within this confined area.

To be honest, artist Mike Norton's art style is not as realistic or gritty as it should be to match the serious tone of the story. It is a shame that Jenny Frison's beautiful, eye-catching cover art is not echoed in the book's interiors.

On the plus side, Norton's art does successfully capture the look and feel of rural America showing the snow-covered, open expanses of the farmlands and backwoods of Wisconsin.

And he does give ample variety to the characters, from their style of dressing to their facial expressions when talking or reacting to danger.

Sure, the first issue is rather slow-moving as the story builds the suspense before the reader's first encounter with a reviver.

But once you get past it and move on to the second and third book, Revival successfully hooks you and keeps you reading to see what happens next.

Be warned, though, that Revival is not for young readers; there is a lot of strong language and some brutal violence.

Having said that, Revival Vol 1: You're Among Friends serves as a great trade paperback that collects the first five issues of the series and serves as the perfect gateway into this world of supernatural mystery.

Collected editions of Revival are available at the graphic novel section of Kinokuniya, Suria KLCC. Call 03-2164 8133 or e-mail or visit


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

'Frozen' becomes fifth highest-grossing film in box office history

Posted: 26 May 2014 07:15 PM PDT

Thanks to the Japanese, the animated movie is still popular after six months.

Since its release in November 2013, Disney's seasonal animated feature Frozen has brought in over US$1.2bil in theatres worldwide, placing it ahead of Iron Man 3 in the ranking of the most lucrative blockbusters at the global box office.

Thanks to its popularity with Japanese moviegoers, Frozen is still putting money in Disney's coffers six months after its premiere. As of Sunday, May 25, the movie had earned a cumulative total of US$1,219,179,972 in theatres. This impressive result makes Frozen the fifth highest grossing feature in the history of the box office.

The story of Anna and her sister Elsa overtook Iron Man 3, which grossed US$1.215bil during its run in theatres. At the top of the podium are Avatar (US$2.7bil), Titanic (US$1.8bil), The Avengers (US$1.5bil) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (US$1.3bil).

Frozen has also become Disney's highest-grossing feature – another title taken from Iron Man 3 – and the only animated feature among the top 10 highest-grossing films at the worldwide box office. However, Frozen is not the only animated movie to break the symbolic US$1bil barrier at the box office: Toy Story 3, in 12th place overall, grossed US$1.063bil in theatres. – AFP Relaxnews

Julianne Moore, Timothy Spall win at Cannes

Posted: 24 May 2014 08:45 PM PDT

She plays ageing Hollywood actress; he is painter JMW Turner.

Julianne Moore won the best actress prize at the 67th Cannes Film Festival on May 24 for her role as a shallow starlet in Canadian director David Cronenberg's biting Hollywood satire Maps To The Stars.

In the film, the 53-year-old redhead plays an ageing actress feeling increasingly sidelined by an industry obsessed with youth.

When the young son of a rival for new film role is killed in a freak drowning accident, Moore does a dance of joy that remained one of the enduring shocks of this year's festival.

"Vive Los Angeles, Vive David Cronenberg, vive Julie Moore et vive la France," the film's screenwriter, Bruce Wagner, said as he picked up the trophy for Moore, who was not in Cannes.

Moore has played everything from a porn star to an FBI agent over a two-decade big screen career that has already brought four Oscar nominations, two Golden Globes and a Primetime Emmy to her name.

Her best-known films include 1998's The Big Lebowski, Crazy Stupid Love (2011) as well as The Hours and Far From Heaven, both from 2002.

Timothy Spall poses during the Award Winners photocall after he won the Best Performance by an Actor award for his role in the movie Mr Turner at the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 24, 2014. – Photo EPA

The best actor award was won by British actor Timothy Spall for his role in a lush historical portrait of painter JMW Turner, by director Mike Leigh.

Mr. Turner stars the 57-year-old Spall, credited with blazing a trail for modern art of the time, in a grunting, snorting, spitting, womanising, warts-and-all performance that critics hailed as riveting.

"I am trying to hold back my tears," an emotional Spall told the audience after receiving the prize, lauding his decades of collaboration with Leigh.

One of Britain's best-regarded character actors, and better known abroad for a recurring role in the Harry Potter movies, Spall is credited with a gift for invoking empathy with otherwise unlovable protagonists.

For his role as Turner, Spall practised painting for two years before starting to film with Leigh and said his extensive research revealed the British artist to be "a man of mystery".

Best director

Bennett Miller scooped up the best director award at Cannes for Foxcatcher, a film based on the real-life murder of an Olympic wrestler by multi-millionaire John du Pont.

The 47-year-old's third feature film had critics raving and viewers were left particularly stunned by Steve Carell, whose performance as the deranged, sinister du Pont marked a complete turnaround from his previous funny man roles.

The film also stars Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as Mark and Dave Schultz, two wrestling-champion brothers.

Miller has only made three feature films, but already he is a regular at international award ceremonies.

He directed his childhood friend Philip Seymour Hoffman to Oscar glory with Capote, his 2005 biopic of author and playwright Truman Capote.

Some of the winners of the 67th Cannes Film Festival. – AFP

Main prize-winners at Cannes Film Festival

Palme d'Or: Winter Sleep, Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Best Director: Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Best Actress: Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars by David Cronenberg

Best Actor: Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner by Mike Leigh

Best Screenplay: Andrei Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin for Leviathan.

Grand Prix (runner-up to Palme d'Or): The Wonders, by Alice Rohrwacher

Jury Prize: Mommy by Xavier Dolan and Goodbye to Language by Jean-Luc Godard. – AFP Relaxnews


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Philippine police shoot dead eight suspected robbers

Posted: 27 May 2014 06:58 AM PDT

Manila (AFP) - Police shot dead eight suspected robbers in an gun battle at a checkpoint near the Philippine capital on Tuesday, a statement said.

It said officers in the town of Silang, 44 kilometres (28 miles) south of Manila, received a tip that nine men riding four motorcycles were on their way to rob a store.

Police set up a checkpoint but the motorcycle riders drove through it, sparking a shootout.

Eight of the suspects were killed and eight handguns recovered afterwards with one suspect escaping, added the statement from the local force.

National police spokesmen in Manila could not be contacted for comment on the incident.

In the past Philippine police have been accused of illegally "rubbing-out" suspects and then reporting they were killed while resisting arrest.

In July two policemen were charged with killing two gangsters in their custody while 14 others were charged with trying to cover up their crime.

More foreign drug firms face scrutiny in China

Posted: 26 May 2014 11:49 PM PDT

SHANGHAI, May 27, 2014 (AFP) - China is putting more foreign drug firms under scrutiny, state media said Tuesday, days after the conclusion of a police probe into alleged bribery by employees of Britain's GlaxoSmithKline(GSK).

Earlier this month, Chinese authorities ended a nearly one-year probe into GSK, accusing a top British executive of ordering employees to commit bribery and handing the case over to prosecutors.

Health authorities in the eastern city of Hangzhou were looking into the business practices of further drug companies, including US-based Eli Lilly, Britain's AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk of Denmark, the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported, citing an internal document.

Another company, Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche, said last week that Chinese officials had paid a visit to its offices in Hangzhou.

The GSK case came to light in June last year through a local investigation, after police in the central Chinese city of Changsha announced they were examining the company's employees for "economic crimes".

The 21st Century Business Herald said Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk were required to conduct self inspections for kickbacks and report to local authorities.

But Eli Lilly on Tuesday denied it had been approached by Hangzhou authorities.

"Lilly has not been contacted by (the) Hangzhou Health Bureau," the company said in a statement provided to AFP. "We fully cooperate with any inquiries we receive from (the) government and its agencies in China."

AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk did not immediately respond to request for comment.

China's healthcare sector is widely considered to be riddled with graft, given the opaque tendering system for drugs and doctors' low salaries.

The government last year launched sweeping probes into alleged malpractice by foreign companies in several sectors, and against the backdrop of an anti-graft campaign backed by President Xi Jinping to root out official corruption.


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Court of Appeal dismisses convert's bid to keep son

Posted: 27 May 2014 08:13 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Muslim convert N. Viran (Muslim name Izwan Abdullah) has to return his six-year-old son from a marriage to a Hindu woman to his mother S. Deepa.

This follows the Court of Appeal's dismissal of Izwan's application to stay the Seremban High Court order which had given custody of the two children to Deepa.

The three-member panel of Justices Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus, Aziah Ali and Lim Yee Lan, unanimously held that the court did not find any special circumstances in the present case to grant the application.

Mohd Hishamudin said the conduct of the applicant (Izwan) in violating the order of the High Court dated April 7, 2014, had precluded him from making the application.

 "Therefore, the application is dismissed with costs," he said, adding that as agreed by both parties the court ordered the applicant to pay RM8,000 in costs to the respondent (Deepa).

Later, when asked on the court ruling, Izwan's counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla told reporters he would inform his client on the court order.

Haniff added that the next course of action would depend on Izwan's instructions.

In the application, Izwan had sought to stay the High Court ruling pending hearing of the appeal proper. However, the date for the hearing of the appeal was not fixed.

He had filed the appeal to challenge the decision of High Court Judge Zabariah Mohd Yusof.

Zabariah had allowed Deepa's application for an order of custody of their son, Mithran and nine-old-year daughter, Sharmila, and had allowed Izwan weekly visits.

She also allowed Deepa's application to dissolve her civil marriage as the husband had converted to Islam.

The couple got married in March 2003.  Izwan, who became a Muslim in 2011, converted the children without his wife's knowledge in the same year.

Izwan subsequently obtained an order for the custody, care and control of the children from the Seremban Syariah Court.

Deepa's lawyer, K. Shanmuga said the High Court granted custody of the children to the mother after the judge had interviewed them.

Shanmuga said the husband had forcibly taken Mithran away from the mother two days after the court ruling on April 9, adding Irwan had also breached a May 21 Recovery Order for him to return the son.

 "Though a copy of the order had been served on his solicitors and on the police, Deepa had not received her son," added Shanmuga. - Bernama

Malaysia's unemployment rate down to 3pc in March

Posted: 27 May 2014 05:46 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's unemployment rate decreased to three per cent in March this year.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in expressing his appreciation to all those who had ensured that the marketplace for jobs in Malaysia was always stable, said in his Twitter update:

"I thank all sectors for working hard to maintain our job market's stability."

Najib said this in reference to the Malaysian Labour Force Statistics monthly release for March 2014 which cited that the unemployment rate in Malaysia was 3.0 per cent in March 2014, down 0.2 per cent from the 3.2 per cent in the previous month.

According to the report that was released Tuesday, as of March 2014, the Malaysian labour force was 13,843,500, with 13,427,800 employed and 415,700 unemployed.

Perkasa: Dyana's mum shouldn't have kept mum

Posted: 27 May 2014 05:19 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The Malay right wing group Perkasa has spoken out regarding the departure of Yammy Samat, the mother of DAP's Teluk Intan candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, saying that it was sad she had taken so long to admit she was part of Perkasa's leadership.

In a press statement, Perkasa's secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali said this delay had made her daughter's campaign more difficult. 

"It is sad for us to see Malays forced to lie about being associated with Perkasa because they want Chinese votes. Isn't it honest to be frank and clear and speak the truth? Muslims must speak the truth, not admit when they are exposed. She hasn't been elected yet and is already lying to the rakyat," said Syed Hassan.

He said that up to now, Perkasa had not received any letter or notification from Yammy that she was leaving the non-governmental organisation. 

"Whatever reason she has for leaving Perkasa, it is no problem to us. Every day we process membership cards for 250 new members, so what is the big deal if one or two leave," he added. 

Syed Hassan said Perkasa would feel sadness and a sense of loss if a real leader who had sacrificed all for the Malay race without care for personal gain, one willing to be mocked by other races for defending Malay rights wished to leave Perkasa.

"We thank Yammy for having been with Perkasa's central leadership, and for all the effort and time she has contributed while being with Perkasa," said Syed Hassan.

On Tuesday, Yammy had said she was quitting the group after being questioned repeatedly on her links with them during a press conference in Teluk Intan.

Yammy said she no longer agree with Perkasa's stance after they began veering into politics.

"I joined them as a non-governmental group to help the Malays.

"But after its establishment, it ran from its intention so I left," she said, adding that it was officially over now.

"I felt there were other ways to go into politics to help the Malays," she added.


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The timeless poetry of Sebastiao Salgado's photographs

Posted: 24 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A homage to the pristine beauty of far-flung corners of the world through photographer Sebastiao Salgado's lens.

AT the turn of the millennium, famed Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado made up his mind to go back in time.

The 70-year-old, well-known for his marathon photo projects on gritty social issues such as migrant communities and manual labourers, had set his sights on a new mission – to document a world and a way of life as it was in the beginning, where man lived in and with nature as one.

His quest to capture the pristine beauty of the world became an epic 12-year project titled Genesis.

He spent four years on intense research, planning and fund-raising to meet the project's budget of 8mil (RM35.2mil). In the following eight years, he made perilous expeditions to 32 remote countries and regions where he faced extreme climates and diets, and a few close shaves with death.

It was anything but a walk in paradise, but the hardbitten photographer never gave up. "I had a big motivation to do this story and I was willing to accept anything," he said at the recent Asian premiere of Genesis at the National Museum of Singapore.

Sebastiao Salgado's 'The Antarctic Peninsula.'

Iceberg between the Paulet Island and the Shetland Island, Antartica.


The source of his quenchless drive: a visceral experience of the marvellous resurrection of 810ha of forest land that his family owns in Brazil.

Salgado, who was largely based in Europe, returned to his childhood home in Brazil in 1998 after completing a gruelling photo project, Exodus, on people fleeing genocides. The brutality he witnessed on the job had sickened him thoroughly and he sought respite in the familiar.

The verdant rainforest that gave him great pleasure as a child, however, was no longer – industrial activity had turned it into barren land.

So with his wife, Lelia Deluiz Wanick, 66, they set about planting trees to reforest the land, determined to return it to its former lushness. The transformation came quickly.

He added, his voice rising with excitement: "We saw the coming back of nature, the water, the birds, the mammals, the crocodiles, everything came back. And that gave me a wish to photograph again, but to photograph nature, what was pristine in the planet."

He had stumbled on some of these secluded, little-known pockets of Eden while working on past photo projects, including a spectacular habitat of gorillas in an area bordering Rwanda and Congo, and he knew he had to return to these "incredible places" to photograph for Genesis.

He also conducted in-depth research in the archives of non-profit environmental organisation Conservation International in the United States and Unesco's World Heritage Centre in Paris, to identify places where nature remains unsullied and human communities untouched by modern-day progress.

That was the first of many steps taken to create Genesis.

Together with his team of nine at Amazonas images, a Paris-based press agency he set up in 1994 to manage his work, he also had to seek permits from various authorities to enter inaccessible locations and find anthropologists or linguists working with tribes in the areas who were willing to broker introductions and spend up to three months on the expeditions as translators.

Each trip also required elaborate route-planning, coordination of manpower and, sometimes, arrangements for emergency help to be on stand-by.

Sebastiao Salgado's 'Fishing On Piulaga Lake, Mato Grosso in Brazil.

Fishermen on Piulaga Lake, Mato Grosso in Brazil.


For example, on an expedition to north Ethiopia where Salgado walked 850km over hilly terrain that had not been crossed by man in recent times, an Ethiopian marathon runner had to be roped in to help carry fragile equipment and arrangements had to be made for helicopters to be on hand for any emergency. Fortunately, there was none.

But there were narrow escapes in the eight years, from ground that gave way easily underfoot in a mountainous region in Venezuela because of soft soil, to a steep, snow-covered hill in Argentina that he crossed alone and nearly slipped and fell.

Once, he was in Botswana photographing wildlife from a helicopter when his camera equipment caused his safety belt to come undone.

"I was about to drop from the helicopter," he revealed, "when my assistant grabbed me and brought me back in. Phew."

Beyond close shaves with danger, he also had to overcome tests of endurance. The 47 days he spent photographing a group of Nenets, an indigenous people in northern arctic Russia, and the 7,000 reindeers they were herding, were particularly memorable. He said: "It was incredible in that it was very difficult in those temperatures, varying between minus 45 deg C and minus 35 deg C. As a Brazilian going to this very cold place, I was afraid. You're trapped with ice around you all day long."

It did not help that the many layers of clothing he brought with him were useless against the cold. The Nenets, noticing how cold he looked on the second day, gave him coats made of reindeer skin. "The way they made it, you are always hot and it was possible for me to stay outside for eight hours a day with them."

The diet also took getting used to. He said: "Every four to five days, they kill a reindeer by strangulation. Then they open the reindeer, take out all the intestines immediately and everyone sits around with a small cup and drinks the hot blood of the reindeer. After that, they slice the heart, liver, kidneys and eat them straightaway." The rest of the meat is cooked, stored in snow and consumed over the next few days."

While the experiences were novel, they did not surprise the well-prepared Salgado. He mentioned: "You must know where you are going and you must read a lot beforehand. You must be really prepared for the place you believe in and have real pleasure being there because for a project like this of eight years, if you don't have a deep sense of identification with it, you cannot do it, you cannot hold out in a place for months living in small camps, sleeping in hammocks.

"And you ask me about food? In reality, you eat with your mind. Your mind must be prepared for what you are going to be eating."

The journey, though, did bring unexpected epiphanies. For example, he was amazed by the placid bond between the Nenets and their bitter environment.

"I was asking the questions every day, 'What will happen tomorrow? How will I survive in the middle of this cold weather?' And for them, it was so normal, so natural."

He added: "The Nenets travel with minimal stuff because they cannot bring with them many things, which are carried by the reindeers, and I learnt from them the concept of what is essential."

For him, it would be his two bags of photography gear, each weighing 25kg and packed with two cameras (he uses Canon EOS 1DX) and two spares, an assortment of camera lenses that he needs, solar panels to charge his batteries and a few camera repair tools.

Film negatives would have been in those bags too, until 2008, when he switched to working with digital cameras. It was a pivotal change that came as he found himself close to giving up on Genesis.

Tightened airport security in the years following Sept 11, 2001, subjected the film negatives he carried to multiple X-ray screenings.

"Once, when I left Sumatra for Paris, I crossed seven X-rays. It's no problem to put your film through an X-ray once, but after two or three times, it starts to affect the film ... it became hell. For a moment in 2008, I might have given up Genesis."

But he adapted quickly to the new technology and the transition made travelling through airports a breeze. He said: "At the end of the digital process, I finish off with one negative and we get away with having exactly the same quality or probably better than when I photograph directly with film."

What also remains unchanged is the grainy film-like quality of his black-and-white images, a signature since his early days with news photography agencies in the 1970s, where high-speed film used to capture fleeting moments resulted in a grainy look.

Salgado, a former economist turned self-taught photographer who works only in natural light, said: "I introduce the grain of the film that I used to work with into the digital work because I was made with it. For me, the look with this grain is complete and it gives an aesthetic quality to my pictures that makes it special.

"Some times people say, 'Oh, you create a kind of pattern'. But it's not a pattern, it's a film that I've worked with my whole life and this film dictates the pattern."

This timeless poetry sweeps across the 245 images in the Genesis exhibition, which was curated by his wife.

While some critics and viewers of the Genesis exhibition, which opened in Europe last year, may charge that the heightened majesty and fragility of the images romanticise nature and man, Salgado remains nonchalant about their reactions.

He said: "Each photographer takes an image in his own way. You photograph with your past, your future, your religion. I photograph my way, I have not two ways to photograph.

"If people like it, they like it. If they don't like it, they criticise, but that is not my problem."

Neither is he interested in being seen as an artist with a message, although Genesis points to a way to turn back the clock on a relationship between man, earth and wildlife that has been largely lost with urbanisation.

Salgado, who just returned last month from photographing a new series about Indian tribes in the Amazon, is self-deprecating about his work.

He said: "I'm nothing, I'm just a photographer and it's a big privilege to be a photographer." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Sebastiao Salgado's Genesis exhibition is on at the National Museum of Singapore (No. 93, Stamford Road, Singapore) till July 27. Opening times: 10am to 6pm daily; admission is free. More info at


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