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TODAY Will Be Different has been picked up by HBO, which as a result will be broadcasting the TV series debut of film star Julia Roberts.

Adapted from the Maria Semple novel, limited series Today Will Be Different centres upon Eleanor Flood, an ambitious woman determined to take control of her life over the course of a single day.

As well as starring in the show, Julia Roberts is also participating as a producer through Red Om Films, in collaboration with Annapurna Pictures, Variety reports.

It’s to be the first time the Academy Award winner has starred in a TV series, but not the first time she’s been involved in TV projects – she led HBO’s own 2014 television movie The Normal Heart. — AFP Relaxnews

JASMINE Abuslin of Oakland, California was underage when she started her sex trysts, under the name Celeste Guap.

Dozens of police officers had sex with her at 16, and Abuslin claims only three officers actually paid her money for sex, while others offered food like Cheeto crisps, as payment.

Apart from encouraging her “profession”, she says an officer even tried to act as her pimp, aside to confessing to having sex in the patrol car.

An officer even warned her off roads where other agencies were carrying out undercover police work to catch prostitutes – all their communications were exchanged on Facebook and text messages, which she kept.

She opened up about her encounters last year after a suicide case in 2015 involving one of the police officers, Brendan O’Brien, after she contacted police to expose him, according to Daily Mail. He wrote a suicide note, confessing that he and other officers had been sexually involved with her.

Abuslin filed a lawsuit against the city in August last year claiming she was “sexually victimised and exploited” by the officers, and the story of her sex scandal has led to the charge of seven current and former officers, with one pleading guilty.

On Wednesday, the court reached a settlement worth nearly US$1 million with the Oakland City Council as the officers allegedly violated at least 11 federal and six state laws, paying to have sex with a minor.

She was awarded US$989,000 (RM4.2mil) in damages by the court in the Californian city – a fraction of the US$66mil she had been asking for – with about a third of it going to the attorney fees.

“The settlement occurred with no admission of liability, but obviously if you pay US$1 million, you figure you got some responsibility,” said her lawyer John Burris.

“I never came up with those numbers, those large numbers, I never came up with those,” Jasmine said, as reported by ABC7.

While the public is disgusted by the police officers’ misconduct, Oakland City Council member-at-large Rebecca Kaplan said, “We need to ensure that we are building the conditions that make it possible to have trust and healing between the community and our law enforcement officers, and cut sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse.

“It’s time to pay the settlement agreement to let this young woman get on with her life and her healing, but also for Oakland to step up and change the culture in the police department and change how we recruit and train our officers.”

Abuslin is no longer a prostitute. Now, she plans to return to school, and hopes to one day work with animals.

LONDON – At least six people were killed by attackers near London Bridge on Saturday, police said.

Police said three attackers drove a vehicle into pedestrians on London Bridge and then stabbed people in Borough Market.

“Armed response officers then responded very quickly and bravely and confronted the three male suspects who were shot and killed on Borough Market,” Mark Rowley, Britain’s top anti-terrorism officer, said.

“Sadly, six people have died in addition to the three attackers shot by police,” he said.

“The suspects had been confronted and shot by police within eight minutes of the first call. The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but these were later established to be hoaxes,” he said. — Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR – The economies of scale factor which has eluded national carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd for a long time, can be achieved via its newly-signed strategic partnership agreement with China’s Geely, a research institute director said today.

Dr Irwan Shah Zainal Abidin, Director of the Asian Institute of Banking and Finance at Universiti Utara Malaysia, said with the deal, Malaysians can also expect a gradual reduction in car prices in the future, a key objective of the National Automotive Policy (NAP).

“I see the partnership as a huge opportunity for Geely through Proton to access the 600-million ASEAN market. For Proton, it is a chance to penetrate the vast China market,” he told Bernama.

He said the transformation of Volvo in less than five years after being acquired by the Chinese carmaker would be replicated at Proton as well, because Geely is a highly market-driven entity.

The company’s track record shows it has turned around several ailing car manufacturers. In acquiring a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton, its founder, Li Shufu, must surely be confident of putting the ailing Malaysian company back on the right track.

“Li Shufu is an industrialist and entrepreneur who won’t just buy something for the sake of acquisition. He must have studied the risks and viability, both over the short and long terms, and at Proton’s production capacity of 400,000 cars that is currently under-utilised.

“Geely has just set up a plant at London Taxi, specifically to work on electric and hybrid car models, and this will have a positive impact on future production at Proton,” Irwan Shah said.

DRB-Hicom Group Managing Director Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar said last week that as part of the agreement, Geely would inject a sports utility vehicle (SUV) platform into Proton and offer its best-selling SUV.

This enables Proton to enter into a new segment that had grown tremendously over the past years.

Syed Faisal also said Geely made the best partner for Proton as the former had agreed to retain the carmaker’s nameplate and aimed to reclaim the number one spot in the country.

Irwan Shah said some Malaysians, sceptical of the tie-up, were those who still believed in the old ways of of the automotive industry and oblivious to changes in its business models and trends.

This latest partnership is just one of many to have taken place worldwide as the industry’s bottom line is the production of quality cars that can compete in the global and open market.

SIK – About 5,000 local and foreign needy Muslims are expected to benefit from the Imarah Ramadan 1438/2017 Humanitarian programme jointly organised by the Islamic Aid Malaysia (IAM) and Radio Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (IKIM.fm), this year.

IAM president Zawahir Abdullah said through the programme, being organised for the sixth year, aid would be distributed at 30 identified local and foreign locations.

“Apart from packed food, basic necessities like rice, sugar, milk, canned food would be distributed to needy people within the country while contributions to needy people in foreign countries would be based on their respective requirements in their countrries.

“Sik in Kedah is the second location (after Klang, Selangor) where aid was distributed while similar programmes will be held in Teluk Intan, Perak and Gelang Patah, Johor,” he told reporters after the Imarah Ramadan 1438H programme at Masjid Al-Maarif, Jeneri, near here, yesterday.

Also present was Radio IKIM.fm senior producer Fairuz Nordin and Etiqa Takaful Berhad, Alor Setar branch manager Hanafi Abidin.

“Under the programme, aid was distributed to 100 individuals in Sri Lanka and similar programmes will be held in Nepal, Indonesia and Thailand,” he said.


KOTA KINABALU – The Kota Kinabalu Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) seized a local fishing boat suspected to be involved in fish bombing activities in the waters off Pulau Sepanggar yesterday.

Kota Kinabalu Maritime director First Admiral Adam Aziz said the boat was detected at around 9.40am when it was located 0.2 nautical miles from Pulau Sepanggar.

“As the patrol boat came near, the boat operator acted aggressively and sped off. After a short chase the boat was detained at 10am but the suspects in the boat had escaped by jumping into the sea,” he said in a statement here today adding that fish weighing about 10kg, believed to have been caught using fish bombs were seized from the boat.

“The boat was then taken to the MMEA jetty for further investigations,” he said.

According to Adam, the agency views fishing activities using bombs seriously and continuous operations would be carried out to curb such activities.

“As such we urge the maritime community, especially those in Kota Kinabalu, to provide information to ensure our waters are free from criminal activities involving fish bombing,” he said.


PEKAN – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Saturday announced a windfall of RM106.81 million in ‘duit raya’ via dividends for 33,864 smallholders nationwide.

Of the amount, RM38.16 million is allocated to 16,080 participants of the Cluster New Planting Scheme (RTBB), while RM68.64 million for 17.784 participants of the Commercial Replanting Scheme (TSK).

Najib said the dividend was increased by RM12.2 million compared to the RM94.5 million last year.

“As a government, we never stop looking for ways on how to safeguard the welfare of the people especially of those living in rural areas, including small holders who are given proper attention and assistance.

“This is because farmers and the rural communities are the core support of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government today,” he said when speaking at a ceremony for the presentation of dividends by the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) at the Pekan Convention Hall, here.

The event was also attended by Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, his deputy Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub, and Risda chairman Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin.

Najib said the rural development agenda must be continued because the government wants the country’s development to be carried out fairly and equitably regardless of urban or rural areas, ethnicity and age.

“One of the features of development in Malaysia that does not exist in other countries is that the development of the country is carried out in a balanced and fair manner in contrast to other countries of the world, where development is mainly concentrated in the capital and cities only.

“In Malaysia, we extend development to every nook and corner of the country and to some extent it can offset the development achieved in urban areas.

“While it may not be the same as in urban areas, but at least the gap does not differ much,” he said.

According to Najib, the economy of the world and the nation were in a better condition this year as compared to last year and Malaysia in the first quarter of this year recorded an economic growth rate of 5.6 percent, which is among the highest in the world.

“Commodity prices are also showing signs of recovery, and this is happening not only because the current world economy is improving, but also due to efforts taken by the government.

“For example, during my visit to China at the end of last year, I requested that they increase palm oil imports and recently when I visited the country, the republic’s supreme leader informed that because of my request, they have increased the purchase (palm oil).

“The purchase increased by 70 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year and likewise when I went to India, I also asked them to increase palm oil imports,” he said.

He said the efforts taken, had resulted in other commodity prices also rising, including the price of rubber.

Meanwhile, at the event, Najib also presented RM10,000 to five mosques in the Pekan parliamentary constituency in conjunction with the holy month of Ramadan.


JOHOR BAHRU – PAS will be contesting 17 parliamentary and 40 state seats in Johor in the 14th General Election (GE14), according to state PAS commissioner Abdullah Husin.

He said that the party had identified the seats but would not reveal them for now.

“The candidates are from various backgrounds including religious scholars, professionals and social activists,” he told reporters after chairing a meeting of the party’s state liaison council here Saturday.

Johor has 26 parliamentary seats and 56 state seats.

In GE13, PAS won four state seats in Johor but lost one after the assemblyman crossed over to its splinter party, Parti Amanah Negara.


BAGAN DATUK – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi performed tarawih prayers at Masjid Al-Wastiah in Kampung Sungai Haji Muhammad last night.

He arrived at 8.30 pm and was received by the committee members of the mosque and worshippers.

Earlier, Ahmad Zahid performed isyak prayers with about 500 worshippers before performing tarawih prayers which was led by his private secretary Ustaz Mohd Sharizal Kadir as imam.

After performing the tarawih prayers, he handed over contributions to the mosque committee members and also enjoyed a feast in the mosque (moreh) and mingled with the worshippers.

Prior to that, Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, opened the the 2017 National Level Malaysia Islamic Economic Development Foundation Malaysia (Yapeim) Ramadan SPM & UPSR ‘Inspirasi’ programme and Ramadan Inspirasi’ programme at Masjid Al-Khairiah in Selekoh.

During the event, he handed over cash contribution of RM680,000 from Yapeim o 12,600 orphans from 12 districts in Perak represented by their respective district officers.

Earlier, Ahmad Zahid broke the fast with 1,000 worshippers before performing maghrib prayers.


KUANTAN – The security forces in the country including the police and military have been asked to embrace the principle of ‘wala’ or loyalty to the leader to ensure that the peace and progress achieved by the nation are maintained.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that in Islam, such a principle has been highly emphasised so long as the leader did not instruct to do something that was against Islamic laws.

“We should be loyal to the leader, we should know that a civilisation can be destroyed if we do not adopt the principle of ‘wala’.

“For instance, the Lahad Datu intrusion four years ago in February 2013 in which there had been our own people betraying (their) own friends and leaking information on the movements of our troops to the enemy.

“As such, the enemy had waited and when our police teams went to a water village, the enemy ambushed them causing six police personnel and a special branch officer to die in a cruel manner,” he said.

He said this at a ‘moreh’ (supper) event and handing over of donations to disabled persons and Muslim converts at Dewan Serbaguna Rumah Kakitangan Angkatan Tentera (RKAT), 10th Mile Camp, here Saturday night.

Also present were Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and 4th Brigade (Mechanised) Brig Gen Datuk Md Din Abu.

Earlier, Najib and Adnan had also performed the Isyak and Terawih prayers at Surau Al-Ikhwan with a congregation of over 1,000 comprising military officers and men from the 10th Mile Camp.

The prime minister said it (the Lahad Datu case) was a sad incident as the concept of loyalty must be deeply ingrained among the members of the security forces, in addition to a high standard of discipline.

He also said the peace being enjoyed by the country did not exist by chance, instead it was due to the blood and sweat of the security forces over the years.

“Although there have not been any kind of deadly attacks like what happened in neighbouring countries, the security forces must be ready to face such threats.

“Improve strengths by increasing professionalism, concerted action and intelligence gathering…We can overcome any threat in the future if we act as such,” he said, adding that the government would continue to take care of the welfare of the security forces in the country to the best of its ability. – Bernama