Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/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)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Batik, Batik, Batik: Textile Dominates Plaza Indonesia Fashion Week 2018

Jakarta Globe, Sylviana Hamdani, March 20, 2018

The organizers and designers of Plaza Indonesia Fashion Week 2018 at a press
conference at the mall last Thursday (15/03). (Photo courtesy of Magnifique PR)

Jakarta. Plaza Indonesia Fashion Week or PIFW, the annual fashion shows held at premium shopping mall Plaza Indonesia in Jakarta, started on Monday (19/03).

This is the eleventh PIFW held by the mall.

"PIFW is proof of our consistent support for Indonesia's fashion industry," Zamri Mamat, Plaza Indonesia's marketing general manager, said last Thursday.

This year, PIFW showcases the collections of 22 local and international labels at The Warehouse on the fifth floor of the mall.

A series of fashion shows by well-established Indonesian labels opened PIFW on Monday.

At 5.30 pm, Bin House by Indonesian textile maker Josephine Komara showcased its Spring/Summer 2018 collection.

"This is our first fashion show at PIFW. Our collection combines traditional batiks and edgy fashion," Wita, the in-house designer of Bin House, said.

The second show on Monday was SEBASTIANred by Indonesia's high-fashion legend Sebastian Gunawan.

Seba, as the designer is affectionately known, showcased his Lebaran and Summer 2018 collection called "Reminiscence," inspired by old photos.

Black, white and sepia dominated SEBASTIANred's evening gowns on the runway.

The first day culminated with "Nuswantara," a special collection by Iwan Tirta Private Collection (ITPC).

"This is our Spring/Summer 2018 collection," Era Sukamto, creative director of ITPC, said.

"The style is young and fresh. We also showcased old batik motifs collected by the late Iwan Tirta from Cirebon, West Java, that are heavily influenced the Chinese and Japanese," she said.

On Tuesday, Indonesian quirky ready-to-wear label Danjyo Hiyoji, in collaboration with local textile factory Lucky Trend, will present its Spring/Summer 2018 collection called "Splendor Force."

"The collection is inspired by millennials, it encourages freedom of expressions," Liza Mashita, co-founder and co-designer of Danjyo Hiyoji, said.

"We'll be using a lot of prints by Lucky Trend in the collection," Dana Maulana, co-founder and co-designer of the label, said. "We want to prove that Indonesian factories can also produce good quality textiles."

On Wednesday, toy company Hasbro will launch a special collection called "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic."

The collection features a range of shoes and ready-to-wears and is a collaboration with eight prominent Indonesian designers, including Lenny Agustin, Ria Miranda and Ni Luh Djelantik.

"This is the first collaboration with local designers that Hasbro Southeast Asia Consumer Products has been involved in, and also the first of its kind globally, with so many designers interpreting the story of 'My Little Pony,'" Bambang Sutedja, Hasbro International's Southeast Asia rep, said.

On Thursday, ready-to-wear brand (X) S.M.L will showcase its Autumn/Winter 2018 collection, called "Streetstyle."

"It's the same collection we'll showcase in Tokyo Fashion Week on March 19," Jun Mardian, creative director of the label, said. "We have 48 looks ready with deconstructed silhouettes and monochromatic colors."

Another interesting collection to be shown on the same evening will be a collaboration between premium batik brand Alleira and young designer Rama Dauhan.

"This collection will be fun and playful," Rama said last Thursday. "Alleira is known for its classic, mature styles, I'm more crazy and edgy. But we've worked together to create new oversized batik motifs with youthful colors that really pop up, such as pink, orange and purple."

PIFW as always keep the most exciting shows for the final day of the festival on Friday.

"The final day's theme is 'Kain' (textile)," Ria Juwita, Plaza Indonesia's events manager, said. "We'll highlight Indonesian textiles, especially batik."

"Batik is now part of our lifestyle," Ria continued. "They are office wear, street wear and gala wear. The possibilities [of using them] are endless."

The first show on Friday will feature a another collaboration between batik house Parang Kencana and young local designer Wilsen Willim.

Wilsen is known for understated and sleek monochromatic designs. It will be interesting what he comes up with working with Parang Kencana's rich, even loud, batik motifs.

Another exciting collaboration to be shown on Friday night will be between Iwan Tirta Private Collection and young couture designer Auguste Soesastro.

"This collaboration combines Auguste's strong designs and the deep philosophy of our batik pieces," Era Sukamto said. "It's been a very explorative experience for both of us."

The fashion week will conclude with a show by Populo Batik, who will present its Autumn/Winter 2018 collection called "Purity," which takes its inspiration from the Gandaki River in Tibet.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Dutch packaging industry has two years to solve plastic bottle problem

DutchNews, March 10, 2018

The Dutch government has given the packaging industry until 2021 to boost the recycling of small plastic bottles or face the introduction of a deposit system. 

‘Litter is bad for the environment and the public mood,’ junior environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven said in a briefing for MPs about the plans. ‘We’ve all seen the pictures, the roadside full of litter, the Bali beach covered in bottles, animals full of plastic in the oceans. It has to stop.’ 

The industry must ensure 90% of throwaway plastic bottles are recycled and that the number of plastic bottles in litter is cut by 70% to 90% to avoid the introduction of deposits of 10 to 15 cents on plastic bottles. 

The results of the industry’s efforts will be assessed in autumn 2020. If the target has not been met, deposits will be introduced on small bottles from January 1, 2021, the minister said. 

Almost 200 Dutch local authorities and other organisations have now signed up to a campaign aimed at bringing in deposits on cans and small plastic bottles. 

The Statiegeldalliantie was launched in November with 21 organisations, including the North Sea foundation and aims to persuade Dutch and Belgian governments to widen the use of deposits. 

In 2015, the Dutch government tore up an agreement with the packaging industry to end the current system of deposits on plastic bottles. The industry argued there would be major cost advantages if deposits were scrapped but the cost savings, in a report commissioned by the industry, were later shown to be exaggerated.

The Indonesian holiday island has become an embarrassing poster child for the
country's trash problem (AFP Photo/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

Related Article:

Monday, March 5, 2018

Women's March Jakarta 2018

Fears PNG death toll will rise after 'worst quake in century'

Yahoo – AFP, March 4, 2018

Australian air force personnel along with high commission officials and Papua New
Guinea locals unload aid from trucks onto an RAAF C-130J aircraft in Lae, bound
for earthquake-hit areas (AFP Photo/David Gibbs)

Local communities are struggling to cope with the aftermath of a major earthquake that hit Papua New Guinea's remote highlands almost a week ago, reports said Sunday, amid fears of a rising death toll.

The highlands in the Pacific nation's interior about 600 kilometres (370 miles) north-west of Port Moresby were struck by a 7.5-magnitude tremor early on February 26.

The region has also been shaken by a series of strong aftershocks in subsequent days, the latest a 6.0-magnitude tremor recorded by the United States Geological Survey that struck about 0.30am local time Monday (1430 GMT Sunday).

The government has declared a state of emergency and sent relief workers to the Southern Highlands, Western, Enga and Hela provinces, which have been hit by downed communications, landslides and sinkholes, as well as toppled homes and buildings.

"This was the biggest earthquake in a hundred years (in the highlands) and it spread 150 kilometres across the fault line," humanitarian duty officer Darian Clark of the Australian High Commission (embassy) said in a statement Saturday.

"A number of urban settlements, as well as villages, have been affected, many in the form of landslides and landslips, which means that roads have been cut off, water contaminated, power knocked out and other widespread effects for the local people."

Numerous communities have yet to be reached by aid workers and it was not known how badly they were affected, seismologist Mathew Moihoi of PNG's Geophysical Observatory told AFP Sunday.

No official death toll has been released by the government, but various PNG media reports have cited local officials on the ground who spoke of dozens of casualties.

The PNG Post-Courier newspaper has collated unconfirmed reports of more than 50 dead from the initial quake.

"The figures (for the death toll) have been coming out from areas where there is access, but there might be areas which are not accessible and it is a little bit hard to get to those areas," Moihoi said.

"There might be some casualties there, we just don't know. It's going to be a little bit difficult to get the figures at this stage."

Local news website Loop PNG cited a police officer as saying that starvation and looting were on the rise in the affected communities.

The situation was worsening on the ground every day, the website added Sunday, quoting local advocacy groups mobilising to help stricken communities.

"People are crying and they are shouting when they are calling us," Cathy Alex from the Advancing PNG Women's Network said as she pleaded for public donations.

"We can't just sit and wait for the (government-pledged disaster funding of) 450 million kina (US$140 million)."

Besides the government's aid efforts, oil and gas companies ExxonMobil and Oil Search, which operate in the area, have assisted relief and recovery efforts.

The Australian military said Saturday it had arrived in PNG and was distributing relief supplies and conducting aerial surveys of quake-hit areas.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Foreign tourist numbers to the Netherlands hit 17.6 million

DutchNews, January 22, 2018

The number of foreign tourists visiting the Netherlands reached a new record last year, soaring 11% to hit 17.6 million, the national tourism and convention board NBTC reported on Monday

Tourists spent a total of €12.9bn during their stay, the figures show. 

Most foreign visitors – 42% – came from Germany and Belgium. German tourists numbered more than five million and the NBTC said it is clear that the German economy is improving because of the increase in short breaks. 

More than 2.2 million Belgians visited the Netherlands last year while Britain was in third place with nearly 2.2 million visitors. The NBTC expects visitor number to top 18.5 million in 2018, a rise of 5% on last year. 

The popularity of the Netherlands, especially for weekend breaks, has led the NBTC to develop a new strategy to try to better spread tourists across the country. 

‘We need to invest more in accessibility, new and more varied experiences, and appropriate places to stay,’ director Jos Vranken said. ‘On Wednesday we will urge MPs to focus on the need to strengthen and speed up the implementation of the HollandCity strategy.’ 

The HollandCity strategy involves promoting the Netherlands as a single metropolis with lots of districts, such as Lake District Friesland and Design District Eindhoven.

Related Article:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Europe brings on charm and blue skies to lure Chinese tourists

Yahoo – AFP, Céline CORNU, 20 January 2018

Europe brings on charm and blue skies to lure Chinese tourists

Venice (AFP) - Chinese tourists are big spenders and with the numbers visiting Europe set to soar by nearly 70 percent over the next five years, the countries of the Old Continent are rolling out the red carpet to make the guests feel welcome.

A total 12.4 million Chinese, mostly in guided tour groups, came to Europe in 2017, according to the European Travel Comission. And the Chinese Tourism Academy (CTA) is expecting the number to reach 20.8 million by 2022.

"A few years ago, the Chinese came to Europe solely to do some shopping. Now, they're increasingly keen to get know the culture and the countryside," CTA president Dai Bin told AFP, speaking in Venice, at the launch of the year of tourism between the EU and China.

Festivals, cooking courses... "they want to have personal experiences and visit areas where they don't see any other Chinese," said ETC's executive director, Eduardo Santander.

"They like the cuisine, the music, the blue skies... most of them come from the coast, where pollution is extremely high," Santander said.

And some were surprised that they can "breathe without coughing," he added.

China is the world's biggest market for foreign tourism -- with 129 million Chinese holidaymakers travelling abroad, they account for one fifth of the total number of tourists globally.

And they spend more than twice the amount that, say, US tourists do -- $261 billion in 2016 compared with $123 billion.

Hot water and credit cards

Small gestures can go a long way towards making Chinese tourists feel more at ease in Europe, said Jacopo Sertoli, head of Welcome Chinese, a body that awards certificates to tourism companies catering for Chinese customers.

"You can make them very happy by offering them a glass of hot water," he said, noting most Chinese families drink water at that temperature rather than cold.

Chinese language television stations and good wifi in hotel rooms are a good idea while payment methods favoured by the Chinese, such as UnionPay, the only credit card issuer in China, WeChatPay or Alipay are a must.

CTA chief Dai Bin said Europe should reduce the red tape for its Chinese visitors.

"We hope Europe will make is easier for Chinese to get a visa," he said.

"In a number of eastern European countries, for example, it's easy. But it's very difficult in others. And when Chinese tourists visit Europe, they want to visit several countries, not just one," Dai Bin said.

By reciprocation, China would become "more flexible when granting visas and Europeans can stay in Beijing or Shanghai for 144 hours -- or six days -- without a visa," he promised.

According to ETC data, France is the number one desired destination in Europe for Chinese tourists, with 61 percent of visitors hoping to go there, followed by Germany with 37 percent and Italy with 28 percent.

Nevertheless, that picture has started to change in recent years, and travel to eastern Europe is booming, not least because of the easier allocation of visas and the increased availability of cheap flights. The string of terrorist attacks in France and Germany in recent years is also a factor.

In 2016, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Serbia, for example, rose by 173 percent, and numbers were up by nearly 90 percent in Montenegro.

But while "the Chinese are very alert to questions of security, they tend to forget more easily than other tourists," Santander said.

Popular for perceivedly having deep pockets -- a result of the Chinese tradition of giving presents -- Chinese visitors haven't always enjoyed a reputation for their savoir-vivre.

But that's an image which China is itself keen to remedy, with "some tourist agencies offering lessons to customers before they go to Europe," said CTA president Dai Bin.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Spain expected to replace US as 2nd tourism destination

Yahoo – AFP, 15 January 2018

Catalonia has remained a tourism magnet despite a terror attack in August
and a political crisis over independence

Spain is expected to replace the United States as the world's second tourism destination while France has retained the top spot, the UN World Tourism Organization said Monday.

"It is expected" that Spain will take the second position with some 82 million visitors last year, UNWTO chief Zurab Pololikashvili told reporters, adding however that definitive figures would be published in the spring.

He did not give any details about the United States, nor did he explain why Spain took the second spot despite a terror attack in August and a highly mediatised independence crisis in tourism magnet Catalonia.

John Kester, head of tourism trends at the UN agency, added that "everything indicates" that France would retain its top spot in 2017 -- a good year for the industry as the number of global tourists leapt seven percent on 2016, the biggest increase in seven years.

Europe was the star of the show as it attracted a large number of visitors, up eight percent from the previous year, lured in particular by the Mediterranean's sea and sun.

This contrasts sharply with 2016 figures that saw security fears hit visitor arrivals in Europe.

"We do see that demand for European destinations has been very strong," said Kester.

"We also see important recovery in France," he added, without giving further details about a country that was hard hit by extremist attacks.

Spain also suffered a deadly jihadist attack in August in Catalonia, the same region whose leaders tried unsuccessfully to break away from Spain, triggering a major crisis that shook Europe.

And while the political crisis sparked a drop in visitor numbers to the northeastern region, it does not appear to have dented overall tourist figures for Spain in 2017.

In 2016, Spain welcomed 75.3 million visitors, just behind the United States with 75.6 million, while France -- despite its own terror woes -- easily remained the world leader with 82.6 million visitors, according to the UNWTO.

Indonesia, Netherlands to Boost Cooperation on Rule of Law, Security

Jakarta Globe, Sheany, January 15, 2018

Indonesia and the Netherlands will discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral
cooperation on the rule of law and security during a meeting in Jakarta this week
 involving key representatives of the two countries, the Dutch Embassy said on
Monday (15/01). (Antara Photo/Rosa Panggabean) 

Jakarta. Indonesia and the Netherlands will discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral cooperation on the rule of law and security during a meeting in Jakarta this week involving key representatives of the two countries, the Dutch Embassy said on Monday (15/01).

Indonesia and the Netherlands have over several years forged cooperation in these fields in various ways, including capacity building for new judges, joint research, technical training and exchanges, according to a statement issued by the embassy.

The meeting, titled 2018 Indonesia-Netherlands Rule of Law and Security Update, will take place on Wednesday and Thursday.

It seeks to highlight what the two countries have achieved together, but also identify ways "to further strengthen and develop mutual collaboration for the years to come."

National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro, Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, Supreme Court Chief Justice Hatta Ali and Maarten Feteris, president of the Dutch Supreme Court, will participate in the meeting, which will also be attended by representatives from government, academia, civil society and independent state institutions in both countries.

According to Hatta, collaboration between Indonesia and the Netherlands is both important and strategic, especially since their legal systems share common roots. In addition, an equal partnership will also be necessary to improve the quality and effectiveness of Indonesia's judicial system.

Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch for more than 300 years and the country therefore has the same legal system, with some laws dating back to the colonial era.

Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly spoke about possible Indonesia-Netherlands 
cooperation in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals during the 
2018 Indonesia-Netherlands Rule of Law and Security Update in Jakarta 
on Wednesday (17/01). (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Related Articles:

Firefighters tried to rescue priceless collections from Jakarta’s Maritime 
Museum that was engulfed in flames on Tuesday (16/01). (Photo courtesy of 
Maritime Affairs Coordinating Ministry

Monday, January 8, 2018

New-born baby found dead on plane in Indonesia

Yahoo – AFP, January 7, 2018

The body of a new-born baby has been found in an airplane toilet at Jakarta's
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (AFP Photo/BAY ISMOYO)

Indonesian police Sunday detained the suspected mother of a new-born baby who was found dead in a aircraft toilet at Jakarta's international Airport.

Hani, a 37-year-old migrant worker from Cianjur in West Java, was held soon after arriving from Bangkok at Soekarno-Hatta airport around 1:00 am, said airport police chief Ahmad Yusef.

"She didn't look healthy and won't be questioned until she is fit. The woman is now at the airport's health centre," Yusef told AFP.

Police suspect that Hani, who had worked as a domestic helper in Abu Dhabi for four years, secretly gave birth during an Etihad flight from there to Jakarta on Saturday.

Around four hours after take-off she began bleeding, forcing the captain to divert to Bangkok.

"The woman was in economy class but then laid on a business-class seat with an oxygen mask. The captain then announced we should divert to Bangkok," passenger Francesco Calore told AFP.

A medical team boarded the plane to evacuate Hani after the Airbus A330 landed at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, he added.

The flight left for Jakarta around an hour later without the sick woman, who flew home on a later flight.

Ground cleaners in Jakarta found the full-term dead baby wrapped in a plastic bag in a drawer in one of the plane's toilets, Yusef said, adding the cause of death had yet to be determined.

An estimated five million Indonesians work abroad, of whom around 70 percent are female domestic helpers.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Bali declares 'garbage emergency' amid sea of waste

Yahoo – AFP, Bagus SARAGIH, December 28, 2017

The Indonesian holiday island has become an embarrassing poster child for the
country's trash problem (AFP Photo/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

Kuta (Indonesia) (AFP) - Bali's palm-fringed Kuta beach has long been a favourite with tourists seeking sun and surf, but nowadays its golden shoreline is disappearing under a mountain of garbage.

Plastic straws and food packaging are strewn between sunbathers, while surfers bobbing behind the waves dodge waste flushed out from rivers or brought in by swirling currents.

"When I want to swim, it is not really nice. I see a lot of garbage here every day, every time," Austrian traveler Vanessa Moonshine explains.

"It's always coming from the ocean. It's really horrible," she adds.

Often dubbed a paradise on earth, the Indonesian holiday island has become an embarrassing poster child for the country's trash problem.

The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is the world's second biggest contributor to marine debris after China, and a colossal 1.29 million metric tons is estimated to be produced annually by Indonesia.

The waves of plastic flooding into rivers and oceans have been causing problems for years -- clogging waterways in cities, increasing the risk of floods, and injuring or killing marine animals who ingest or become trapped by plastic packaging.

Officials in Bali have declared a "garbage emergency" across a stretch of coast that 
includes Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak beaches (AFP Photo/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

The problem has grown so bad that officials in Bali last month declared a "garbage emergency" across a six-kilometre (3.7-mile) stretch of coast that included popular beaches Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak.

Officials deployed 700 cleaners and 35 trucks to remove roughly 100 tons of debris each day to a nearby landfill.

"People with green uniform were collecting the garbage to move it away but the next day I saw the same situation," said German Claus Dignas, who claimed he saw more garbage with each visit to the island.

"No one wants to sit on nice beach chairs and facing all this rubbish," he added.

Bali's rubbish problem is at its worst during the annual monsoon season, when strong winds push marine flotsam onto the beach and swollen rivers wash rubbish from riverbanks to the coast, according to Putu Eka Merthawan from the local environment agency.

"This garbage does not come from people living in Kuta and nearby areas," he told AFP.

"It would be suicidal if Kuta people were doing it."

War on waste

Some 72 kilometres from Kuta, Mount Agung has been threatening to erupt for two months, prompting tourists to cancel visits and displacing tens of thousands of villagers living within a 10 kilometre-radius of the volcano's crater.

Indonesia is the world's second biggest contributor to marine debris after 

But the island's waste problem is no less of a threat, said I Gede Hendrawan, an environmental oceanography researcher from Bali's Udayana University.

"Garbage is aesthetically disturbing to tourists, but plastic waste issue is way more serious," he told AFP.

"Microplastics can contaminate fish which, if eaten by humans, could cause health problems including cancer."

Indonesia is one of nearly 40 countries that are part of UN Environment's Clean Seas campaign, which aims to halt the tide of plastic trash polluting the oceans.

As part of its commitment, the government has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70 percent by 2025.

It plans to boost recycling services, curb the use of plastic bags, launch cleanup campaigns and raise public awareness.

Still, the scale of the problem facing Indonesia is huge, due to its population of more than 250 million and poor waste processing infrastructure.

Hendrawan, who says both locals and tourists are responsible for the island's rubbish problem, urged authorities to invest more resources to tackle the problem.

"The Bali government should spare more budget to raise people's awareness to take care of local rivers, not to dump waste," he said.

"The central government should boost the campaign to reduce use of plastic packaging and ban free plastic bags at convenient stores."

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Australian gran escapes death in Malaysia drugs case

Yahoo – AFP, Patrick Lee, 27 December 2017

Exposto is escorted upon arrival in court before her acquittal

An Australian grandmother who said she was tricked into carrying drugs into Malaysia after falling for an online romance scam was Wednesday cleared of trafficking, a crime punishable by death.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto wept and hugged her son after being found not guilty of smuggling crystal methamphetamine, a rare outcome in a country where hundreds of people have been sentenced to death for drugs offences in recent years.

"I'm happy now that I'm free," said the 54-year-old, as she was ushered out of the courtroom after the verdict.

But prosecutors have indicated they want to appeal the acquittal, her lawyer said, meaning Exposto won't be able to go back home yet and there is still a chance she could be sentenced to death.

She was arrested in December 2014 while in transit at Kuala Lumpur airport with 1.1 kilos (2.4 pounds) of the drug stitched into the compartment of a backpack she was carrying.

The mother of four argued she did not know about the hidden stash of "ice". She said she had been fooled into carrying the bag after travelling to China to see someone she met online called "Captain Daniel Smith", who had claimed to be a US serviceman.

Anyone caught with at least 50 grams (1.75 ounces) of crystal meth is considered a trafficker in Muslim-majority Malaysia, and death by hanging is mandatory in the case of a conviction.

However handing down his verdict at the High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Judge Ghazali Cha accepted the defence's argument that Exposto did not know the bag contained drugs and acquitted her.

"I agree with the defence lawyer that the accused did not have knowledge about the drugs," he said.

"I believe that at that time her (Exposto) feelings of love towards 'Captain Daniel Smith' overcame everything, including her own husband, her family and her future."

Hundreds on death row

Exposto's lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah welcomed the verdict but said he was surprised at prosecutors' intention to appeal as the judge had sided firmly with the defence. Prosecutors have 14 days to lodge the challenge.

After engaging in a long online romance, Exposto had travelled to Shanghai to see "Smith".

But she did not succeed in meeting her supposed love interest while there and ended up being given a bag by a stranger, who asked her to take it to Melbourne.

When she arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport to change flights, she mistakenly went through immigration as she was unfamiliar with the airport.

She voluntarily offered her bags for customs inspection and the drugs were discovered.

There are at least 900 people on death row in Malaysia, officials have said, but executions have been rare in recent years.

Malaysian lawmakers voted last year to amend legislation so that capital punishment is no longer mandatory in drug-trafficking cases.

But the changes have not yet come into force as they must be passed by the upper house, meaning that in the case of a conviction in Exposto's case, the judge would have had to impose the death penalty.

Two Australians were hanged in Malaysia in 1986 for heroin trafficking -- the first Westerners to be executed in the country -- in a case that strained relations.

In 2013 Dominic Bird, a former truck driver from Perth, was acquitted of drug trafficking charges after he was allegedly caught with 167 grams of crystal methamphetamine.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Soekarno-Hatta Airport Launches Sky Train

Jakarta Globe, December 26, 2017

The sky train at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport operates 20 hours
a day, from 4 a.m. to midnight. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Iqbal)

Jakarta. State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II launched the inter-terminal sky train, known as Kalayang, at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Tuesday (26/12).

The sky train will be operating 20 hours a day, from 4 a.m. to midnight, in line with the airport's operational hours.

Angkasa Pura II president director Muhammad Awaluddin said the sky train reflects the company's efforts in providing comfort to passengers and innovating the airport's services.

"We hope that with this new facility Soekarno-Hatta International Airport will become one of the best airports in the world and will be among the best airports on [airline ranking site] Skytrax," he said.

The train is now available at Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

"We plan to connect the sky train to Terminal 4 in the future, and to the sky hub commercial area," Awaluddin said.

A rail link to the airport from Sudirman Baru Station in Central Jakarta will also open on Tuesday. Tickets will be sold at a discounted price of Rp. 30,000 ($ 2.21). On Jan. 2 the fare will increase to Rp. 70,000.

The airport train will stop at the Duri and Batu Ceper stations before reaching the airport. Soon the link will be extended to Manggarai Station in South Jakarta.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Thai street food cook feels heat of Michelin fame

Yahoo – AFP, Joe Freeman, 21 December 2017

Jay Fai's eponymous streetside eatery shot to global fame overnight after it
was awarded a Michelin star this month at the launch of Bangkok's first guide

Wearing her trademark ski goggles for protection from flying sparks, Thai cook Jay Fai hunches over two sizzling woks as tourists from around the world line up in three-hour-long queues at her modest streetside eatery.

The 72-year-old's crab-stuffed omelettes have always been popular among local gourmands, but her eponymous restaurant shot to global fame overnight after it was awarded a Michelin star this month at the launch of Bangkok's first guide.

While she is proud of the achievement, former dressmaker Jay Fai is still adjusting to the media frenzy that has seized her open-air kitchen in Bangkok's old quarter.

"There are advantages and disadvantages," she told AFP as she flung ingredients into a wok, explaining she did not have time for a formal interview.

"The downside is being exhausted ... Also, the government wants me to promote Thailand. I feel like I don't have a choice," she added.

She has been asked to appear at the seaside town of Hua Hin for an international tennis tournament this weekend, where she will teach top-ranked players to make her signature crab omelette and the Thai soup dish Tom Yum Kung.

"I will not be selling for two days," she said ruefully, adding that she would even consider handing back the coveted star if it meant returning to her normal routine.

Any distraction from work means a loss of business for Jay Fai, whose spirited cooking style -- a flurry of activity from grabbing handfuls of raw seafood to dishing out plates of the finished product -- is one of the main attractions.

Her supersized portions of crab and jumbo prawns are also part of the draw, though the dishes are far pricier than the city's average street vendor at upwards of $20 a pop.

The unflashy eatery, which has partial indoor seating, was the only streetside venue among the 17 Bangkok restaurants awarded stars on December 6, when Michelin unveiled its first guide for the Thai capital.

Michelin only awards stars to establishments with fixed addresses, leaving many of Bangkok's famous roadside stalls out of the running at a time when the city is attempting to move them off the pavements and into organised markets.

Jay Fai had heard of the brand name Michelin but was not aware that the French tyre company had anything to do with cooking.

She is not the first chef to feel the heat over the flood of attention that comes with a Michelin star.

In September a chef in southern France with three stars said he wanted to be stripped of the award because of the "huge pressure" to meet its standards on a daily basis.

But Jay Fai's colleagues are not worried about her.

"She's quite strong. She never gets ill," said Kung, an assistant who has worked there for 10 years.