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Book review: The Rooster Bar

John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar is inspired by a newspaper report that highlights the disturbing world of for-profit legal education.

Three friends and third-year law students – Mark Frazier, Todd Lucero, and Zola Maal – dream of changing the world but instead find themselves deep in debt because of their student loans.

All they want is to finish their last semester at Foggy Bottom Law School (FBLS) in Washington, D.C., and just graduate.

But their world changes when their friend and classmate, Gordy Tanner, commits suicide before he can reveal publicly the conspiracy he’s unearthed – that FBLS admits unqualified students in order to profit from their student loans.

And the school’s owner, a Wall Street lawyer turned investor, owns a bank that specialises in student lending.

Gordy’s suicide make the trios realise that they are victims of a scam, so they decide to drop out of school, change their identities to avoid creditors, and practise law without a license.

After making a series of missteps, the three friends’ disgruntled clients and creditors start to close in on them.

But they still manage to pull off the perfect crime and finish what Gordy has started. Mark and Todd feel conflicted at times by what they are doing, but their need to bring the crook to justice drives them to take the risk, even taking on the FBI.

This intriguing story has some suspenseful moments in its multi-layered plot which Grisham has managed to sustained throughout.

This book opens up the readers to the scandal of the ruinous repercussions of graduate debt and the peril of ‘diploma mill’ colleges. A compelling read.

Get another 10% off with this coupon for this book at all BORDERS stores from Sept 26, 2018 – Oct 23, 2018. Not applicable with ongoing promotions. Terms and conditions apply.

Book Review: Warlord

DANNY Black is back in action in this novel by Chris Ryan.

The SAS has been asked to send a covert team to the Mexican border in an attempt to cripple one of the biggest drug gangs in the region.

It’s a challenging task because the Zeta gang has its origins in a unit of rogue Mexican special forces, ironically trained by the SAS.

These rogue soldiers had driven the other cartels out of business and now control the supply of drugs using a lethal combo of military knowledge and violence.

Black and his four-man team is tasked with bringing down the Zetas.

They include his best mate Spud Glover, Spud’s young cousin Spike who is a bomb-making and demolitions expert, and Jack Fletcher, better known as Tyson, one of the men who had earlier trained the Mexico’s rogue soldiers.

The team enters the US covertly and reports to CIA agent Ethan Kleinman, their liaison man.

Kleinman is determined to take down the Zetas for personal reason, but to do that, the team has to kill Z1, the chief drug lord.

As events unfold, it soon becomes clear to Black that the Zetas are always one step ahead of them.

After one of his men died, Black suspects a spy within.

Ryan never fails to deliver where action is concerned.

He writes believable characters, even with a stereotype one like Tyson.

As a result, Warlord is an explosive, hard-hitting and brutal story of a war with many collateral damages and casualties all over the world.

The war against the drug lords is also a personal crusade for Black as his own brother Kyle is an addict.

Exciting and suspenseful all the way and fans of action thriller will enjoy this book.

Going back to ABCD

BACK IN 2001, Sasi the Don had just released his debut album, Manitha Piravi, and was invited to be the opening act for a concert headlined by two South Indian singing superstars, Anuradha Sriram and Shankar Mahadevan, in Kuala Lumpur.

Anuradha later complimented Sasi on his music – something that stayed with him through the years, even as he released more albums and worked with international artistes such as Apache Indian, Dr. Alban and Maxi Priest, and won several music awards along the way.

Some two decades later, Sasi got the chance to collaborate with his idol, Anuradha, on his comeback song, ABCD, after having taken a four-year hiatus from the music industry.

ABCD will be featured in his upcoming album, Timeless.

Sasi (full name Sasidharan Chandran) is well-known for his songs which encompass reggae, pop and world music.

He said ABCD, which will be released one month before Deepavali (which falls on Nov 6), is essentially about him going back to where it all started.

That is why he decided to name the song ABCD, because “when you go to school, you learn the basics like ABC”, adding that “no matter how far you go in life, sometimes you need to go back to basics and live your life again”.

Describing the opportunity to finally work with the singer he has long admired, Sasi said he met Anuradha again at Chennai airport in 2009 when he was there to sort out his album, Hello India.

He was surprised and thrilled that she not only remembered him, but his music as well.

They kept in touch, and when he began planning his comeback, he thought it would be perfect if he recorded the song with Anuradha.

“I made a call a month ago and told her about the song, and that I was going to record it. In the process of doing this, I knew I had to have a purpose for coming back.”

Anuradha, who was present at the press conference with Sasi, said she sees the opportunity to work with the singer as “fate”.

“I guess I always believed whatever happens, it happens for the best,” she added.

“That is what my father taught me.

“Whenever something good happens, we thank God.

“If things don’t go our way, we blame God.

“We fail to realise that when something doesn’t happen, it was just not good for you.

“I always believe in giving your best, and if you are worthy, people will come back to you.”

On what she saw in Sasi all those years ago, Anuradha said: “He was doing something new back then.

“Now, you see many Malaysian rappers in the Tamil industry, but he was doing that two decades ago. “

She added that she and Sasi had talked about collaborating in the past, but never acted on it.

Now with ABCD, she is also happy that the track has Sasi paying homage to her old Tamil movie hit songs.

This Indian superstar has performed all over the world, and always has regular gigs despite never having to promote herself on social media.

She is grateful that people love her work.

Having recorded over 3,000 songs in her career, she is now semi-retired, as most music directors nowadays prefer working with new singers rather than experienced ones like her.

In a way, ABCD is a comeback song not only for Sasi, but also for Anuradha.

Action all the way with MacGyver and Five-O

TWO OF AXN’s top-rated action series – MacGyver and Hawaii Five-0 – return Sept 29, with new season premieres.

They will air back-to-back on the same day as the US starting at 9.05pm with the third season of MacGyver.

The season premiere takes place three months after MacGyver (Lucas Till) has quit The Phoenix Foundation when he found out who his father is, and moved to Nigeria.

But he decides to put aside his differences with his father, and returns when he hears Jack (George Eads), his former partner, has become the target of a murderous dictator he once double-crossed.

Season nine of Hawaii Five-0 next premieres at 10pm on the franchise’s 50th anniversary with a homage to the original series.

It gives a re-telling of the original pilot episode, Cocoon, in which Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) braves a torturous sensory deprivation tank in the course of tracking a killer, while Tani (Meaghan Rath) wrestles with the decision of telling McGarrett about the murder weapon she found at Adam (Ian Anthony Dale)’s house.

Movie review: Langsuir

THIS movie has so much potential to be a touching love story.

Unfortunately, the entire cast failed to deliver convincing performances.

Some overacted, while others underacted.

I understand that these are young faces in the industry, and for many of them, this is their first feature film.

But their inexperience is no excuse for putting on a bad performance.

Director Osman Ali has never failed to bring out the best from his cast in his previous films, but this time around, he has failed miserably.

The story is about the forbidden love between Azlan (Syafiq Kyle) and Suri (Hannah Delisha), a langsuir which inhabits a haunted island.

A langsuir is a creature who takes the form of a beautiful woman to seduce men and later drink their blood.

When Azlan first meets Suri, he falls deeply in love with the beautiful girl.

Even when he discovers her true nature, he still refuses to give her up.

In order to save Azlan, his friends decide to put a nail in her head which is one way to stop Suri from turning back into a langsuir.

However, Suri’s sister Dewi (Julia Farhana Marin) is so infuriated when she discovers what the boys have done, that she starts tormenting Azlan and his friends.

And the only thing that stands in Dewi’s way is Suri.

Disregarding the bad acting, the highlight of this film has to be the beautiful location shots that will take your breath away.

The 98-minute romantic horror film was shot at several scenic spots in Langkawi, such as Gua Langsir, Gua Tembus, Pantai Talam Dua Muka, and Teluk Datai.

Perhaps director Osman was so enamoured by the beautiful locations that he forgot that the key element of a beautiful film is a beautiful performance from the cast.

Eversendai secures new projects worth RM404m

PETALING JAYA: Eversendai Corp Bhd has secured four new projects worth RM404 million, bringing its total project wins to RM1.12 billion to-date.

The group said in a statement that the new additions include the construction of one of the largest glass roof structures in the world in Dubai, United Arab Emirates as well as the structural steel fabrication and construction package for a combined cycle gas power plant project in Malaysia.

In Mumbai, India, the group secured the construction award of a 45-story high-rise residential tower while its oil and gas sector secured a project to fabricate and assemble leg sections for the Offshore Wind Installation Jack Up Vessel (Deme Innovation) located in Europe.

The new projects strengthen Eversendai’s geographical footprint in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and India. The group’s outstanding order book stood at RM2.37 billion as at June 30, 2018.

“We are experiencing yet another busy period in our business with numerous projects in hand and more exciting ground-breaking projects in the works. With our world class expertise and our reputation as a world leader in structural steel fabrication with an excellent track record, we are able to take on opportunities to further bolster our business and bring to life works of engineering marvels,” said its executive chairman and group managing director Tan Sri A K Nathan.

“We are constantly looking into expanding and developing the group’s business and knowledge-base by undertaking highly complex structural projects, ensuring on-time delivery, without compromising on safety and quality,” he added.

Wan Azizah to pay last respects to late Vietnamese president Tran Dai Quang

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will travel to Vietnam today to represent the Malaysian Government and pay her last respects to the late President Tran Dai Quang.

In a statement issued today, the Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) said the ceremony will be held at the National Funeral Hall in Hanoi.

The state funeral is scheduled to be held tomorrow at the Kim Son district cemetery, Ninh Binh province, the birthplace of President Quang.

The Wisma Putra statement also said, in their condolence messages, both Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah expressed sadness on the demise of President Quang and paid tribute to the late President’s contributions in enhancing bilateral relations between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Senator Datuk Marzuki Yahya will be signing the condolence book at the Vietnamese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur today.

President Quang passed away on Sept 21 at the age of 61. — Bernama

Paskal personnel to be doubled: Commander

KUALA LUMPUR: The number of Special Navy Warfare Force (Paskal) personnel will be doubled starting this year, said its commander First Admiral Anuar Alias.

He said the strength of the elite team, whose numbers were kept secret, should be increased following the current challenging maritime threat.

“I have been instructed to increase the number of existing personnel using various approaches.

“My approach is the transformation of basic commando courses. Of the 25 successful candidates for each previous intake, we can improve with the transformation of the training system without affecting the quality of the results,” he said.

He said this after participating in the ‘Ruang Bicara’ talkshow entitled ‘Paskal Collaborates to Produce Movie’ on Bernama News Channel here last night.

Anuar said each Paskal personnel had to pass three courses, namely basic commando, diving and basic parachuting.

Asked if Paskal, which was set up on Oct 1, 1982, would consider the involvement of women, he said the force was not ready for it but it could be done starting with female divers.

Directed by Adrian Tan, ‘Paskal’ tells the story of the dedication and sacrifice of members in the elite squad and also revolves around rescue missions executed by members of the squad in Angola back in 1998 and the MT Bunga Laurel hijacking in 2011.

The cast list includes Hairul Azreen, Ammar Alfian, Henley Hii, Taufiq Hanafi, Gambit Saifullah, Hafizul Kamal, Theebaan G and Jasmine Suraya Chin. — Bernama

George Kent’s Q2 earnings fall 3.1% on lower contribution from metering segment

PETALING JAYA: George Kent (Malaysia) Bhd saw a 3.1% decline in net profit to RM24.58 million for the second quarter ended July 31, 2018 against RM25.38 million in the previous corresponding period, due to lower sales and gross profit margin for the metering division.

Revenue was down 39.8% to RM112.93 million from RM187.57 million.

The group has proposed to declare an interim dividend of 2 sen per share for the quarter under review.

George Kent said in a filing with the stock exchange that its results for the quarter under review were credible in spite of the progress of work being affected by the restructuring of the LRT3 project.

“Negotiations are ongoing to redesign the project, and construction is anticipated to resume in the second half of 2019.”

Going forward, George Kent said it will continue to focus on its long-stated strategic plan to broaden the income base by channeling substantial resources to further expand the metering business, which contributes substantially to the group’s profit.

Its order book currently stands at just over RM5 billion and will continue to provide earnings visibility over the next few years.

George Kent also noted that the group is exploring opportunities in the regional railway space, leveraging on the expertise it has cultivated through its participation as the rail systems specialist in past domestic MRT and LRT projects.

“The group’s extensive network with global rail specialists stands it in good stead for projects that require international collaborations through joint ventures or other forms of strategic alliances.”
 
George Kent’s first-half net profit rose 5.1% to RM46.12 million from RM43.87 million, while revenue declined 32.9% to RM212.7 million from RM316.99 million.

At the noon break, its share price slipped 1 sen or 0.7% to RM1.39 on 2.35 million shares done.

Pogba not to captain Man Utd again, Mourinho confirms

LONDON: Paul Pogba has been stripped of the vice-captaincy of Manchester United by manager Jose Mourinho as tensions between United’s star midfielder and manager continue to rise.

Pogba has deputised as skipper in the absence of club captain Antonio Valencia on three occasions this season against Leicester and Brighton in the Premier League and a Champions League trip to Young Boys.

However, the French World Cup winner’s latest outspoken comments criticising United’s overly negative tactics after a 1-1 draw at home to newly-promoted Wolves on Saturday have provoked a reaction from Mourinho.

“The only truth is I made the decision of Paul not to be the second captain anymore,” said Mourinho after Tuesday’s League Cup defeat to Derby County on penalties for which Pogba was rested.

“I am the manager I make these decisions, no fall out at all, no problem at all. The same person who takes the decision to make him second captain makes this decision now.”

According to The Times, Mourinho informed Pogba in front of his team-mates on Tuesday, claiming the 25-year-old “doesn’t represent what a captain is and Manchester United is bigger than anyone”.

The decision is the latest twist in an acrimonious relationship between the pair dating back to Mourinho dropping Pogba routinely for big games last season.

“Mourinho’s message to the United squad, delivered at Carrington today, was designed to underline his authority and remind the players that he is in charge,” added The Times report.

Fresh from playing a pivotal role in France’s World Cup success, Pogba, who cost United a then world record £89 million (RM485.5 million) to bring back to the club from Juventus in 2016, has started to deliver on his price tag this season.

He has scored four times in seven appearances and also set up Fred’s opener against Wolves at the weekend.

However, he was also at fault when losing possession for Wolves’ equaliser that left United already eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool after six games.

“We are at home and we should play much better against Wolves. We are here to attack,” Pogba told the media after the match.

“I think teams are scared when they see Manchester United attacking and attacking. That was our mistake.”

Pogba has already been linked with a move away from Old Trafford with Barcelona interested before the close of the summer transfer window.

That speculation is unlikely to die down as long as Mourinho, who signed a extended contract until 2020 earlier this year, remains in charge.

An early Cup exit to Championship Derby, managed by one of Mourinho’s former pupils at Chelsea Frank Lampard, intensifies the pressure on the Portuguese. — AFP