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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

SBY Satisfied on Leaving Office

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Aug 26, 2014

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)

Sydney. Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Tuesday he leaves office with a sense of satisfaction after strengthening democracy and the economy during a decade in power.

The former general stands down in October when Joko Widodo, the reform-minded governor of Jakarta who won July’s presidential polls, takes the reins of Southeast Asia’s top economy.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Yudhoyono admitted there was more work to be done, but said he had accomplished much.

“I leave my office with a sense of satisfaction that I have tried to do my best to serve the nation, and that at the end of my 10 years in office Indonesia is a stronger nation, a stronger democracy and a stronger economy,” he said.

Yudhoyono took on a nation suffering widespread graft, an insurgency in Aceh province and bombings by the Jemaah Islamiyah network when he was elected in Indonesia’s first direct presidential poll in 2004.

“We had many challenges but, one by one, we fixed our problems,” he said.

“We resolved the longstanding separatist conflict in Aceh. We stabilized the situation in Papua. We survived the tsunami crisis [of 2004] and many other natural disasters.

“We fought corruption hard, not always successfully. We neutralized and disrupted terrorist groups. We pursued a more active international engagement in a turbulent world,” he added.

Yudhoyono said Indonesia, where around half of the mostly Muslim population of 250 million are poor, had also weathered the global financial crisis and completed direct elections for all local leaders.

Economic growth had been healthy, averaging 5.9 percent during the period of 2009 to 2013, he said.

And although it had fallen to 5.2 percent in the first part of 2014, Indonesia was still experiencing higher economic growth than many other nations.

“In fact, in the G20, Indonesia has the second highest growth after China,” he said, adding that he expected growth to reach 6.0 percent or more within two years.

The president said that while he had made the unpopular decision to increase the price of petrol last year, and this year hiked electricity and gas, costly fuel subsidies had needed to be adjusted.

“My hope is that the new government will give the subsidy to the poor. We should not give the subsidy to the commodities but to the people who need it: the poor,” he said.


President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Ani Yudhoyono at
the legislative complex in Senayan on Friday. (Antara Photo/Ismar Patrizki)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Popular Taipei temple goes green, bans burning of incense

Want China Times, CNA 2014-08-25

People worship in Xing Tian Temple, Taipei, Aug. 24. (Photo/Chao Shuang-chieh)

Xing Tian Temple, a popular worship site in Taipei, announced Sunday that from Aug. 26, it will remove its big incense burner and offering tables to save resources and help protect the environment.

The decision was made in line with rapid changes in the environment and the increasingly serious global warming — trends that temple managers said remind them of the need to make better use of resources and treat all beings with kindness and compassion.

Instead of offering cakes, fruit and flowers and burning incense, the temple suggested that believers show their respect to the deities by simply clapping their hands and praying sincerely.

When lining up for the shoujing (a kind of exorcism) ritual, believers are advised not to chat, eat or use cell phones but rather to pray in a devout manner.

Xing Tian Temple, also known locally as Enzugong, promotes public good through charitable work and seeks to enlighten people's hearts, enhance spirituality and create a harmonious society.

To achieve those goals, the temple works to promote the concept of true faith, foster self-examination and respect for the deities, and devote itself to enlightening believers.

Xing Tian Temple also provides religious services such as exorcism rituals, services of prayers for peace and explaining divination results.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Indonesia calls off search for Spaniards in boat sinking

Asia One – AFP, Aug 23, 2014

In this file photograph taken on December 3, 2010, boats depart from Rinca island
part of the Komodo National Park, home of the Komodo dragon. Eight foreigners
 and five Indonesians were rescued on August 18, 2014 two days after their tourist
 boat sank during a storm in the archipelago, having survived by huddling in a
lifeboat or floating in their life jackets.

JAKARTA - Indonesian authorities called off their search for two Spanish men Saturday, finding no sign of them one week after their tour boat sank in central Indonesia.

The boat carrying 25 people departed from the island of Lombok near Bali and was headed east toward Komodo Island, a popular tourist destination, when it hit a reef and later sank in stormy weather on August 16.

The 18 other foreign tourists on board, as well as four Indonesian crew and one guide, survived the horrific ordeal.

A team with three rescue boats and three fishing vessels combed the seas around several islands in the area for the final day of the search, to no avail.

"We found no sign of the men at all. There are many fishermen in the area looking out for them, and they will continue to do so, even though we've ended our official search," local search and rescue chief Budiawan, who goes by one name, told AFP.

"Of course we'll come back out if there is any sign of them." Indonesian authorities were unable to confirm the men's full names, while Spain's foreign ministry identified one as 43-year-old lawyer Victor Garcia Montes from Seville, according to Spanish media reports.

The two men had been with a group of 10 others who swam some five kilometres (three miles) to the volcanic island of Sangeang. The 10 reached the island, where some drank their own urine and ate leaves until they were rescued the following day.

Another group of 13 people who went out with the vessel's small lifeboat survived. They had to switch between swimming and sitting from more than 40 hours as the boat could hold only seven at a time.

All survivors were treated on the central Indonesian island of Sumbawa.

The foreigners rescued were from New Zealand, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy.

Komodo is one of several islands that make up the Komodo National Park, a protected area. Its eponymous lizards are a major tourist attraction that grow up to three metres (10 feet) long and have a venomous bite.

Indonesia relies heavily on boats to connect its more than 17,000 islands but has a poor maritime safety record. Boat sinkings involving foreign tourists, however, are rare.

Related Article:


First Ethnic Chinese Governor of Jakarta Takes Indonesia Forward

Jakarta Globe, Tobias Basuki, Aug 22, 2014

 (JG Graphics/Josep Tri Ronggo Laksono)

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, will be the first ethnic Chinese to govern Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta.

Ahok is not the first ethnic Chinese to gain political prominence in Indonesia, where the Muslim-Javanese group dominates political positions. But he may be the first to break unspoken barriers of expected behaviours and norms of an ethnic Chinese participating in politics.

The outspoken and sometimes brash deputy governor will take over Jakarta’s helm when the incumbent Joko Widodo, the country’s president-elect better known as Jokowi, takes office in October.

Ahok is a distinctive figure in Indonesian politics. This is not simply due to his “double minority” status as Chinese Indonesian and Christian but also a result of how he regards or disregards those labels.

In Indonesia, ethnic Chinese were subjected to discriminatory laws during Suharto’s dictatorship. When Suharto fell from power in 1998, they were the targets of anti-Chinese riots.

Ahok never shied away from his ethnicity. In his campaigns and when dealing with political situations, he often mentions his Chinese heritage. He has told self-deprecating jokes by referring to himself as a pork-eating infidel. When he ran for governor of Bangka Belitung, an archipelagic province off Sumatra, his campaign material had a picture of him in full Mandarin outfit.

But Ahok does not use his ethnicity to gain popular support. While some Chinese Indonesians form part of his support, his base of voters has never been built on ethnicity or identity politics.

This is different from most Chinese Indonesians who climbed the “political track.” Elected leaders of Chinese ethnicity would typically be in charge in areas with a large Chinese population such as Singkawang, West Kalimantan.

There are exceptions. The recently elected mayor of the Central Java city of Malang, Mochamad Anton, is Chinese Indonesian. But Anton is a Muslim. His ethnicity is diluted by his religious identity.

Anton holds the prestigious title of haji. He is also part of the local Nahdlatul Ulama chapter, Indonesia’s biggest Islamic mass organisation. His appointment has not created much buzz due to these factors.

Some Chinese Indonesians gain political prominence by being appointed as ministers or to other bureaucratic posts. In such cases, the president or regional leaders appoint them mostly for their skills, usually in the fields of economics, finance and trade.

This is where Ahok is different from other prominent Chinese Indonesians. Ahok is not a technocrat. He has held political positions in areas where Chinese Indonesians are minorities.

Ahok started his political career in a region where his ethnicity is not political capital to run for local government. He first served as a councilor in Belitung Timur, in the Bangka-Belitung Islands made famous by “Laskar Pelangi” (“Rainbow Warriors”) author Andrea Hirata. He became district head of Belitung Timur in 2005.

After two years as district head, Ahok ran for Bangka-Belitung governor and lost in a close race. He continued his political progress by becoming a parliamentary member representing the region.

He rose to his current position by adamantly pursuing his political ambitions. When not endorsed by his party (Golkar) to run as governor of Jakarta in 2012, he ran as an independent before the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party a recruited him. He then ran as deputy governor with Jokowi.

But does Ahok’s rise show a shift in Indonesia’s sociopolitical atmosphere in regard to identity politics? Do Indonesian people no longer care about their leaders’ ethnicity and religion?

Jakarta’s 2012 gubernatorial election and the nation’s July 2014 presidential election tell us a few things.

In both elections, Jokowi and Ahok (2012) and Jokowi (2014) had huge public support and enthusiasm behind them. And in both contests opponents used smear campaigns on religious and ethnic issues.

The smear campaign against Jokowi, who was accused of being a secret Christian of Chinese descent, almost worked. He lost his double-digit lead in opinion surveys just weeks before the election. Jokowi won, but with a close margin of 53 percent, against 46 percent for his rival.

Ethnicity and religion do have traction in elections, but they are not make-or-break factors. Religious identity in general is a more significant factor than ethnic identity.

Based on the results of a March 2014 CSIS national survey, it appears that Indonesia is not ready for people from minority groups to lead the nation. When asked if they objected to having an ethnic Chinese as president or vice-president, close to two-thirds of respondents said they did. The percentage rose to 71.7 percent when asked if they objected to having a non-Muslim president or vice-president.

But when we replace the conceptual question with real-case scenarios the results differ. The same survey presented several presidential pair scenarios. Interestingly, pairing Jokowi and Ahok as presidential and vice-presidential candidates did not diminish Jokowi’s electability.

It has often been overlooked that Chinese Indonesians are very heterogeneous socially and politically. Yet they are often treated and viewed as a monolithic group.

There is a variety of views in regard to the political participation of ethnic Chinese. Some are still cautious, traumatized by the 1998 riots. Others are quite enthusiastic about entering the political sphere.

The same varied views apply to Ahok. Some are proud and supportive of his accomplishments, while others are apprehensive. There are those who have reservations due to a fear that his brash demeanor may create a backlash against the Chinese, while a smaller minority are not supportive of him as he does not give special privileges.

Regardless of the changes in political dynamics nationally and among Chinese Indonesians, Ahok is pushing the nation forward. He is breaking barriers that had defined Indonesia’s socio-political environment. He has changed the game by having voters appraise politicians on their merits instead of ethnic and religious markers.

Yet Ahok is also an Indonesian politician who is unashamedly Chinese and Christian. He carries his background with pride, not for his identity but for Indonesia’s multicultural potential.

Tobias Basuki is a researcher at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta.

The Conversation

Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.
(JG Photo/ Afriadi Hikmal)

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"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

The Unthinkable… Politics, A Review

Humans will begin to search for integrity and fairness and it's going to happen in the places you never expect. I said this last week, so this is a review. There'll come a time when you will demand this of your politics - fairness and integrity. So when the candidates start calling each other names, you will turn your back on them and they won't get any votes. They're going to get the point real fast, don't you think? How about that?

Let me give you another potential. This country that I sit in right now [USA] will set the mold for that particular attribute. I have no clock. Watch for the youngsters to set this in motion, and they will, for they are the voters of tomorrow and they do not want the energy of today. To some of them, it's so abominable they won't even register to vote in this energy. You're going to see this soon. That was number five.. ..."

Bridging the divide between young Israelis and Palestinians

While bombs are killing people back home, a group of young Israelis and Palestinians are in Germany trying to make sense of it all and come up with a solution for peace.

Deutsche Welle, 22 Aug 2014


It is a difficult beginning. Israelis and Palestinians fill the conference room near the German city of Bonn with crying and arguing, accusations and reproach. Sitting together seems impossible, unbearable. Yet when those participating in the two-week event start to talk about the fates of their families, the lines that divide them begin to fade.

The some 50 Israelis and Palestinians communicate in Arabic and Hebrew, with translators on hand to help express the intensity of their experiences and feelings.

"You hear tough stories, and its really touching when other people have empathy," Palestinian Suad said. Sitting across from her is Amit, an Israeli who increasingly realizes how little the two sides know about each other.

"I don't believe our media, it is too much a part of the conflict," she said. Like others here, she wants to form her own, comprehensive picture of the situation, to have the chance to speak "directly" with those deemed to be the enemy.

The participants get to know each
other while they are in Germany
Back home, Amit and Suad only live 20 minutes apart. But they are, in fact, worlds apart. Amit lives in Jerusalem, Suad in the Palestinian territories, and to cross the border she needs special permit. Now they are both in Germany, in a building near the city of Bonn with others like them.

Private initiative

The event is organized by the Committee for Basic Rights and Democracy, a group run by peace activists and funded exclusively by private donors. They have been facilitating meetings between young Palestinians and Israelis far from the scene of the conflict since 2002.

Their idea is to offer participants the opportunity to forget their prejudices and learn that people on both sides share the same basic yearnings and feelings. The association covers all costs, but relies on partner organizations such as "Breaking Borders" to use word of mouth to find potential participants in the conflict region.

All told, some 2000 young adults, including many students, have so far been able to travel to Germany to meet others like them and share their stories. Against the backdrop of the current Gaza conflict, many of those in Germany now told their relatives and friends back home that they were going to a holiday camp. For many, the truth is simply too sensitive.

White lies

Barbara Esser, one of the organizers of the "Holiday from War" project, understands the reasons for these white lies.

"It is not acceptable where they come from," she said. "Anyone who attempts to make contact with the other side is deemed a traitor." She recalls one Israeli who wanted to be friends with a Palestinian on Facebook but didn't know if he could without upsetting his friends.

"Anyone who attempts to make contact
 with the other side is deemed a traitor,"
Esser said
At the heart of the program is a mutual willingness to listen. Esser says it is not about forcing friendships, but creating understanding and tolerance. They use role play to stage peace negotiations and come up with suggestions for solutions to the Middle East conflict.

Amit describes the experience as a chance to dream. "Positive visions of the future help generate hope and to believe in the goal." But very few participants believe the conflict will be solved by a younger generation.

The basic problem

During their discussions, Israelis and Palestinians pinpoint the basic hurdle to progress. It is the fear of having to make too many concessions and ultimately being the losers. There is a broad base of agreement on the importance of overcoming that feeling.

Suad is positive about the work they are doing together and sees how it can break down barriers. "Even the right-wing conservatives on both sides have started to change their thinking," she said.

Some 50 young Israelis and Palestinians share their experiences and feelings

Whenever things get particularly tense, and those in charge show participants how they are slipping back into old patterns of thought, both Israelis and Palestinians are surprised.

Ultimately the ice breaks whenever there is a chance for people to get to know each other better. Apart from playing games and going on trips, there are designated evenings devoted to the presentation of the different cultures.

After cooking and eating together, there is often music, and then Israelis and Palestinians even dance together. No photos are taken, for fear that they could be misunderstood. There is a meeting of the ways here, and although participants agree that they did not have a holiday from war, they did lay the groundwork for talking about the possibility of working together.

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“… What have we told you about the bridge? Actually, not much except that in crossing the bridge, the old energy ones were not going to like it. Old energy does not want you to escape! Old energy doesn't want you to cross the bridge because it can't cross. Did you know that? It can't cross. The old paradigms of Human nature that you've known all of these millenniums have to stay on the old side of the bridge. It cannot cross, for the bridge rejects all that is not in love, compassion and light. Those things that are dark, including Human nature of the past, will not be able to go. But the ones I speak to right now are already on the bridge. That was your design, old soul, and those are the words that are ringing in your ears to this day and the ones given at the wind of birth, that this might happen in your lifetime. So what's going to happen next?

Swords

Let us talk about the swords: When you hear the word sword, the first thing that occurs to you is battle. The Bridge of Swords is a battle and we told you that as well. Swords are metaphoric and they mean many things, so let us describe the things we mean them to say to you.

Number one: They are indeed a weapon in a battle. There is a battle coming. "Kryon, does that mean there's going to be a war?" Potentially, yes. Right now we will tell you that the Middle East cooks itself. You've noticed, haven't you? What do you know about the Middle East, dear one? Let's start examining things for a moment. What energy did you grow up in? What was the energy of the Middle East? In the '40s, what was the energy? With the establishment of the state of Israel, you built a wall of hate, both sides. The wall was so thick that the children of both sides were taught to hate one another as soon as they were able to understand the language. They were told who their enemies were. Now, where were you then?


Some of you weren't here yet. By the time you arrived, in your youth, were you aware of the Middle East? Not particularly. "What's the hatred about?" you might ask. What if I told you it's about a family feud? Two sons of a Jewish master are involved. One founded the Arabs and one remained a Jew. They don't want to hear this, but they are all Jews. (Don't tell them this.)


If you look at the lineage, it's pretty obvious and yet it's a complete and total set-up for either solution or war. The set-up would have this world ending in a conflagration that would have been brought about by this hatred. That's in the prophecy of Nostradamus and your scripture, but it is no longer the prophecy of the planet. Yet the hatred still exists. The hatred is as great today as it was then, but where was all the terrorism 40 years ago? It was isolated.


Those in Israel and Palestine and surrounding areas took the brunt of it, but now it's seemingly everywhere - and you're worried. Why would this be? The answer is that the old energy was happy to have this hatred contained, for it would keep it going and never involve outsiders. Outsiders tend to bring unwanted light to the party. Suddenly, the whole earth is involved and can see the entire scenario before them. The old guard wants war, just like all the eons before them. The ones on the bridge are holding the light and showing the earth how to cross. Even many younger ones in Israel and Palestine and Iran are holding light! It's all around the old guard and they are furious, for they are losing the "battle of hatred." …

Friday, August 22, 2014

After Extra Time, Jokowi’s Presidency Still Not Settled

Jakarta Globe, Camelia Pasandaran & Kennial Laia, Aug 22, 2014

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo demonstrates his penalty-taking technique in
Pluit, North Jakarta on Aug. 17. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro)

Jakarta. If Joko Widodo’s supporters thought that Thursday’s Constitutional Court ruling had removed the final obstacle standing between their man and the State Palace — they had underestimated the ability of Indonesian law to throw in one last Kafkaesque twist.

Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi urged Joko on Friday to hand in his resignation as Jakarta Governor to the Jakarta Legislative Council (DPRD) at the earliest possible opportunity.

“He should step down, because he should not hold two state official posts. A governor is a state official, so is a president,” Gamawan said, as quoted by the state-run Antara news agency. “His resignation has to be approved by the Jakarta Legislative Council.”

But the DPRD does not have to accept Joko’s resignation, which could mean Joko is unable to take his seat in the State Palace in October.

There is a precedent.

When Fauzi Bowo served as Jakarta governor, his deputy, Prijanto, handed in a letter of resignation in March, 2012, but it was not ratified by the DPRD. Prijanto was forced to continue as deputy governor until Joko won the next election.

Gamawan said Joko required a minimum of 54 councilors voting in favor of his resignation.

“I’ve counted it, Joko’s coalition at the Jakarta DPRD consists of only 50 seats,” Gamawan said. “He needs at least 54 councilors to approve his resignation. I hope there will be no rejection.”

Joko’s coalition at the DPRD consists of, in fact, only 49 seats — this does not include the Democratic Party, which has 10 seats. The Merah Putih coalition led by Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party controls 47 seats.

Joko said on Friday that he would file his resignation after the new DPRD members were inaugurated on Monday.

“There’s still the inauguration of DPRD members, then the selection process of the DPRD speaker. Let’s wait until the entire process is done,” Joko said, as quoted by Antara on Friday.

Politician Poempida Hidayatulloh, a fired Golkar Party legislator and close aide of vice-president-elect Jusuf Kalla, said that Joko had no option but to reach out to other parties.

“Whether he likes it or not, he should make room to ask other parties to join him,” Poempida said. “There should be a political compromise to reach a deal.”

Refly Harun, a constitutional law expert, criticized Gamawan for his comments and said the potential legal quagmire had to be avoided.

“Even though the DPRD has the authority to reject the resignation, they is no rationality behind it,” he said. “[Joko] has been elected president, I do not think it is logical to use the procedure as a tool for political bargaining. Resignation is the right of a state official.”

“People might think that Joko’s victory could be annulled,” Refly said. “It’s improper for the minister to say that.”

Refly said a DPRD rejection of Joko’s resignation could lead to a power vacuum.

“It’s not only about the regulation and the law, but the ethics in government,” he said. “People should comply with the regulations, but not use the regulations to hamper the greater good.”

Related Article:


Indonesia court upholds Joko Widodo poll victory

BBC News, 21 August 2014

Supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto gathered
outside the court ahead of the verdict

Indonesia's top court has rejected an appeal from defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto over the results of July's presidential poll.

The constitutional court's decision upholds the results from the elections, which Joko Widodo won by a 6% margin.

Mr Subianto had claimed widespread electoral fraud, and taken his case to the court.

Hundreds of Mr Subianto's supporters gathered outside the court ahead of the verdict, clashing briefly with police.

The court decision means that Mr Widodo, who was declared president last month, has his position firmly sealed, the BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta reports.

The constitutional court is the highest authority in the country - and the decision from the court is final, our correspondent adds.

Mr Widodo's win was seen as heralding a new era for Indonesia, whose leaders have generally been drawn from the military and political elite.

Mr Prabowo is a former army general closely associated with the traditional elite, while Mr Widodo, a former furniture-maker who grew up in a small village, has promised a decisive break with Indonesia's authoritarian past and better social welfare for the poor.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Surabaya Zoo Gets Necessary Wildlife Conservation Permit

Jakarta Globe, Aug 18, 2014

Young komodos are in a special enclosure at a nursery in
Surabaya Zoo on Aug. 9, 2014. (Antara Photo/Eric Ireng)

Jakarta. Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini has announced major changes in the running of the city’s zoo, notorious for its high rate of animals deaths, after the city administration was finally granted a wildlife conservation permit to manage the facility more comprehensively.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan handed Rismaharini the permit on Monday at Surabaya Zoo, dubbed “the zoo of death” by the international media for the high number of animals that die under suspicious and often harrowing circumstances there.

The wildlife conservation permit will allow the city administration, which runs the zoo, to kick off a much-needed overhaul of the facilities to improve animal welfare, which Zulkifli stressed should be the main priority of all stakeholders in the zoo.

Crucially, it will finally allow the zoo to resume its animal exchange program, in which sick or stricken animals can be sent to other, better-equipped zoos and conservation centers where they can get the treatment they need.

The zoo lost its conservation permit in 2010 over a tug-of-war over control of the zoo by the previous management. The management fiasco resulted in the massive neglect of the animals and dozens of deaths, including of critically endangered species, and the loss of some animals suspected to have been sold into the illegal wildlife trade.

Rismaharini, whose administration subsequently took over the zoo but was unable to make any significant changes pending the issuance of a new wildlife conservation permit, said on Monday that one of her priorities would be to expand the total area of animal enclosures, including by reclaiming an existing parking lot.

She also promised to build a new water treatment facility.

The animal exchange program will also be resumed, according to Ratna Achjuningrum, the chief director of the city-owned company in charge of the zoo.

Zulkifli said he hoped that with the new permit and the changes it would usher in, the city would be able to reverse the tide of animal deaths at the zoo.

“It’s much better now. Of course there are a few problems that pop up, but the improvements are continuing,” he said as quoted by Tempo.co.

The zoo has come under international scrutiny because of the number and manner of animal deaths there.

Earlier this year, a lion was found strangled to death in its enclosure after getting tangled in a cable that was hanging loose near its door.

In 2012, the zoo’s only giraffe was found dead with a 20 kilogram ball of plastic trash in its stomach. The plastic was believed to have accumulated from trash thrown into the giraffe’s enclosure by visitors.

There was also the case in 2011, still unsolved, when three baby Komodo dragons went missing. They were suspected to have been sold into the illegal wildlife trade.

An adult Komodo dragon was the latest casualty at the zoo, dying on Aug. 7. An autopsy indicated it died of a digestive tract problem.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ten foreigners, five locals missing as Indonesia tour boat sinks

Yahoo – AFP, Andy Amaldan, 17 Aug 2014

Survivors rescued after a tourist boat sank rest at a house near to the
Indonesian town of Bima on August 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Andy Amaldan)

Bima (Indonesia) (AFP) - Ten foreign tourists and five Indonesians were missing Sunday after a boat sank as it travelled between islands in the east of the country, while 10 others have been rescued, search and rescue officials said.

The vessel went down Saturday after being caught up in a storm en route from Lombok island to Komodo island, the home of the Komodo dragon -- the world's biggest lizard and a draw for tourists.

Those rescued were from New Zealand, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and France, said search and rescue official Budiawan, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. They had all received medical treatment, officials said.

Indonesian Muslim devotees arrive on a
 boat to attend the morning prayer to 
celebrate the Eid al-Fitr festival at the
 historic Sunda Kelapa port district of 
Jakarta on July 28, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Romeo Gacad)
The nationalities of the foreigners still missing was not immediately clear. The missing Indonesians were four boat crew members and a tour guide.

Bertrand Homassel, a French survivor, said the boat started sinking slowly after its hull was damaged in a storm on Friday night, and he and several others had to swim a long distance to a volcanic island to save themselves.

"Six people were in the lifeboat. The others climbed onto the roof of the boat, which had not completely sunk," he said, speaking from a hotel in Bima on Sumbawa island, where the survivors were taken after being rescued.

"We waited until midday on Saturday. We were five kilometres (three miles) from the coast -- there were many big waves separating us from the coast.

"People started to panic... Everyone took the decision to swim to the closest island, five kilometres away, where there was an erupting volcano."

He said that they swam for six hours and arrived on the island, Sangeang, as the sun was setting. They spent Saturday night there, surviving by drinking their own urine and eating leaves.

On Sunday, they attracted the attention of a passing boat by waving their life jackets, and were rescued and taken to Bima, he said.

"I was really very lucky," Homassel added.

Budiawan, the search and rescue official, said that 10 foreigners and five Indonesians were still missing after the boat sank, and efforts were ongoing to find them.

Suryaman, a search and rescue official in Bima, said five of the tourists were rescued by fishermen at night, and five others were saved by a sailing boat.

Fishing boats anchor at Waibalun bay in East Flores, East Nusa Tenggara
on May 21, 2013 (AFP Photo/Sonny Tumbelaka)

The British embassy said two British nationals had been admitted to hospital.

"We are in contact with the local authorities and stand ready to offer consular assistance to any other British nationals who may be involved," a spokesman said.

Komodo island is one of several islands that make up the Komodo National Park, a protected area that is home to the Komodo dragon. The huge lizards can grow up to three metres (10 feet) long and have a venomous bite.

Indonesia relies heavily on boats to connect its more than 17,000 islands, but has a poor maritime safety record.

Two vessels sank last month in different parts of the archipelago as millions travelled for the Muslim Eid holiday, leaving at least 36 people dead.

Fatal boat sinkings involving asylum-seeker vessels trying to make the treacherous sea crossing from Indonesia to Australia are also common.

But boat sinkings involving foreign tourists are rare, with accidents in Indonesia's booming aviation sector more of a danger for overseas visitors in recent years.


Foreign survivors receive medical treatment after being rescued
 from a sinking tourist boat on the outskirts of Bima, West Nusa
Tenggara, on Aug. 18, 2014. (EPA Photo/Yudha Hendrawan)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

School Fosters Tolerance in Nation’s Millennial Generation

Jakarta Globe, Dyah Ayu Pitaloka, Aug 17, 2014

High school students develop their knowledge and skills through a variety of
 traditional and non-traditional subjects at Selamat Pagi Indonesia, or Good
 Morning Indonesia, a free educational institution in Batu, East Java, which aims to
promote religious tolerance and entrepreneurship. (JG Photos/Dyah Ayu Pitaloka)

That morning, Stefani Ditya Kristanti is assigned to lead the daily prayer in front of her. The 12th-grader asks for permission from her peers at the Selamat Pagi Indonesia, or Good Morning Indonesia, High School to lead the prayer according to her Christian faith. Her classmates proceed to bow their heads but pray according to their own beliefs.

“Every student gets the chance to lead the morning prayer,” says Stefani. “Which is why I know how Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics and Muslims say their prayers.”

Established in 2007, SPI high school, located in the town of Batu, East Java, promotes tolerance to its students by providing free education to teens of different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Founder Julianto Eka Putra believes that by allowing students from across the country to study and live together, they will learn more from each other about different cultures and religions found in Indonesia, an archipelago home to 250 million people of different ethnic groups, cultures and dialects.

Julianto, a successful businessman who hails from Surabaya, was saddened by a wave of religious intolerance sweeping the nation, threatening the country’s national motto of “Unity in Diversity.”

And so in 2007, he bought a 3.3 hectare property in Batu, built the school and a dormitory and began hiring teachers and staff with a total investment of Rp 10 billion ($856,500).

He then turned to social media for the enrolment process, hand-selecting 40 students — the same number he is willing to accept each year — making sure that they are of different religious and ethnic backgrounds. He prioritizes those who are orphans or come from poor families.

From the day they first set foot on school grounds, Julianto teaches them about tolerance and appreciating diversity.

“Every year, I hold a contest challenging any student who can find two objects, animate or inanimate, that are exactly the same, I will give them Rp 1 billion. To this day, no one has claimed the prize,” he says.

Stefani, who hails from Pacitan, East Java, says she is fortunate to learn about different cultures and customs from her peers. She shares a room with students from Kalimantan, Papua and East Java.

“I just found out that people from Banyuwangi call cassava, sawi, but where I’m from sawi is another vegetable [leaf mustard],” she said.

For Stefani, the experience has led her to appreciate Indonesia’s diverse cultures and made her eager to learn more about other regions across the archipelago.

Meanwhile, for Ridwan Dinar Maleo, his experience at the school has proven to have a more profound impact. Hailing  from Bandung, West Java, he concedes that before enrolling at SPI, he only had friends who are Muslims. Socializing only with Muslims led him to be more conservative and less tolerant towards people of other faiths.

He admits he used to think that all other religions are wrong. But that all changed when he joined SPI and shared a room with a Christian boy from Poso, Central Sulawesi.

“He told me he feels traumatized whenever he meets a Muslim,” Ridwan said.

Between 1998 and 2005, Poso was the scene of a bloody sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians, which led to the deaths of hundreds of people. The conflict has since receded but isolated clashes and terrorist acts continue to disrupt the peace several times a year. Security officials still consider the area conflict-prone and a terrorism hotspot.

Ridwan says meeting a Christian student from Poso changed his life and altered his views on the various religious groups who call Indonesia their home.

“All religions teach people to do good. It is people who don’t [follow that tenet]. That is the most important lesson we have received here,” he says.

Ridwan now calls students from various beliefs his friends and proudly boasts that he has helped organize every single religious celebration at the school: Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist. 

Stefani and Ridwan are among the 123 students currently studying at SPI. In addition to attending regular subjects, students also learn through informal classes and discussion groups on subjects not found in any other school, such as personal finance and entrepreneurship.

Students also profit from the school’s many benefits, which include health care and monthly allowances. 

But school founder Julianto says people haven’t always been trusting of what he is trying to do. The surrounding community used to suspect he was running a Christianization scheme, while students and parents always associate free education with low quality.  

“Now a lot of parents and students are competing to be accepted here. But our quota for each region and background is limited,” he says

SPI vice principal Didik Tri Hanggono says he hopes the school will one day accept students who practice the Chinese-based faith of Confucianism.

“To this day, we haven’t been able to find a Confucian religious teacher with a college degree [in Confucianism]. All high school teachers are required to have a [relevant] college degree,” he said, adding that he has big plans for SPI, but he wants to improve its quality without focusing on increasing the student population or adding another branch to the school. 

In line with SPI’s philosophy,  Didik is  more concerned about eradicating poverty by providing his students with a sense of entrepreneurship and job skills.

“If someone is prosperous … they can fulfil other needs, like access information through the Internet, mass media, newspapers and television. So doctrines [of intolerance] can be easily dismissed when [students] are better informed and not easily provoked,” he says.  

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"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod / CreatorReligions/Spiritual systems  (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it),  Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse),  Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) (Text version)

“… New Tolerance

Look for a softening of finger pointing and an awakening of new tolerance. There will remain many systems for different cultures, as traditions and history are important to sustaining the integrity of culture. So there are many in the Middle East who would follow the prophet and they will continue, but with an increase of awareness. It will be the increase of awareness of what the prophet really wanted all along - unity and tolerance. The angel in the cave instructed him to "unify the tribes and give them the God of Israel." You're going to start seeing a softening of intolerance and the beginning of a new way of being.

Eventually, this will create an acknowledgement that says, "You may not believe the way we believe, but we honor you and your God. We honor our prophet and we will love you according to his teachings. We don't have to agree in order to love." How would you like that? The earth is not going to turn into one belief system. It never will, for Humans don't do that. There must be variety, and there must be the beauty of cultural differences. But the systems will slowly update themselves with increased awareness of the truth of a new kind of balance. So that's the first thing. Watch for these changes, dear ones.  …”