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. …

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A World Heritage Dance Meets a High-Tech Stage

Jakarta Globe, Grace Susetyo, December 22, 2012

Performers during the Saman Summit after UNESCO recognized the Gayonese
Saman Dance as an Indonesian Cultural Intangible Heritage. (JG Photo)    
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In a melodious chorus of assalamualaikum, the Arabic greeting meaning “may the peace of God be upon you,” a group of young boys deliver a flawless, lively and somewhat spine-chilling welcome dance.

Dressed in elaborately embroidered black vests and trousers, with red, gold and green thread, the boys, aged from 6 to 12, skillfully drum their chests in perfect rhythmic percussion. They are performing Saman, a dance native to the Gayo highlands of central Aceh and a tradition ingrained deep within their ethnic roots.

This performance was one of several to celebrate Unesco’s recent recognition of the Gayonese Saman dance as an Indonesian Cultural Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

The celebratory summit, held last weekend in Taman Fatahillah, Kota Tua, North Jakarta, was hosted by the Ministry of Education and Culture. It showcased the various forms of Saman and an array of related Indonesian Islamic dances on a spectacular high-tech multimedia stage.

“We present the Saman Summit to give thanks for Unesco’s recognition of Saman as a world heritage,” said Wiendu Nuryanti, deputy minister of education and culture, in the opening speech. The recognition was made official in Bali on Nov. 24.

Committee member Risman Musa said the summit was held in order to introduce the origins of Saman and to provide an intelligent forum enriched by expressions of Indonesian tradition, thus fostering a sense of belonging among the people.

The dance group profiles and the history of the dances were projected through widescreen video onto the white exterior of Museum Fatahillah, accompanied by high fidelity audio. The committee hoped that the highly technological presentation will attract young Indonesians to express contemporary creativity and thus preserve ancient traditions.

The boys performing at the celebration were very quick to master the dance because “it is already in their blood,” said the group’s coach, Syarifuddin.

“Since birth, these boys grew up watching their fathers and elder brothers dance and sing in the community. They watched Saman videos in kindergarten and imitated the singing or the moves during playtime,” Syarifuddin explained.

“Almost every Saman performer in Gayo is self-taught. All they need to do is to be part of the community, and join in the dance and music,” he added.

Saman is commonly performed during special occasions and Islamic holidays, and sometimes as a friendly competition between villages. Having evolved and been transmitted almost exclusively by oral tradition, each village in Gayo has its own Saman style. However, some rules of thumb are to be followed in order for the art form to qualify as Saman.

Firstly, Saman is performed by an odd number of performers, usually between 11 and 17, kneeling in one line facing the audience. A lead singer kneels exactly in the center, and there are moves that require alternating coordination among the dancers.

Secondly, the singing is performed in a combination of Arabic and Gayonese and conveys Islamic messages.

Thirdly, Saman is only to be performed by men or boys.

“It is taboo for females to perform Saman,” said Ben Saifuddin, who has taught Gayonese and Acehnese dances in Sanggar Pesona, Langsa, for nearly two decades. “This is because Saman music is exclusively produced through body percussion. It involves drumming the chest, which would be offensive on women or girls.”

Despite the taboo that prohibits females from performing Saman, the summit featured women dancers as well.

Meuseukat is an Acehnese dance, which, like Saman, is performed by 13 kneeling singing dancers. To make music, the women carry hand drums called rebana . Instead of sitting in the center, the lead singer separates herself from the rest of the dancers, chanting Koranic verses and religious words of wisdom.

The only unisex dance performed was the Tarek Pukat from Langsa, a town in the southeast coast of Aceh. Tarek Pukat, which means “pull the net,” is a prayer dance of the fishermen and their wives.

“As fishermen prepare to venture out to sea, their wives at home weave nets for them while praying to Allah to bless their journey with plentiful fish. Fish, as the main source of protein for coastal peoples, symbolize life, nourishment and prosperity,” Ben explained.

In addition to the Gayonese and Acehnese dances, the summit also featured performances of Islamic dances from other regions, including Pariaman, Cirebon, Jombang and Lombok.

One of the most interesting dances was Rodat Syi’iran, performed by the people of Banyuwangi, East Java.

Rodat is a dance that takes a V-formation like the flight of heron birds, and “syi’iran” means poetically lyrical.

Rodat Syi’iran was originally performed exclusively by men, but in recent years women have been allowed to participate as was the case at the Saman Summit. The reasons, as Gandrung leader Haidi puts it, are “purely aesthetical.”

The Provincial Secretary of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Tengku Setia Budi, hopes events such as the Saman Summit will help construct a new positive image for his homeland.

“We hope that in the future Aceh will be known for Saman, not just for tsunamis and civilian conflicts,” he said. “We would be delighted if people around the world would start learning Saman.”

Unesco has also recognized batik, keris, and wayang as Intangible Cultural Heritages belonging to Indonesia. Saman is currently the only one originating from outside Java.

With Saman now recognized as a World Heritage, various people outside Java are hoping their customs will make the Unesco list as well, prompting pride and a significant effort to conserve them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Changing of the Guard

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“… There are some beautiful souls of compassion and love who know nothing about Ascension, and they will also join up with the Lightworkers. As the changes are put in hand there will be much to do for those who are enlightened and wish to serve others. For a while needs such as healing will be handled in many different ways, until you all have access to local centers with modern healing facilities. Some difficulties may arise until your society has been fully integrated into the new way of life. Having been brought up in the Space Age you will of course adapt to it very quickly. New technologies will overcome most of your problems in quick time, and we are urging our Earth allies to push forward with the promotion of free energy devices.

General conditions on Earth are getting worse due to weather variations, and also interference in markets that are being manipulated for gain. Whether it be food or money, speculators continue to bring misery in a world that is already in a turmoil. However, these conditions will not last very long and not allowed to be repeated. Big business and especially the banks will be totally re-organized, so as to ensure there is never again a collapse like you recently experienced. Monetary systems will in any event change, and a fairer system of valuation introduced. It will result in honest trading and put an end to corrupt practices. As we have told you many times, wealth also will be re-distributed and we are already starting to recover hidden caches of valuable metals. Add to it St. Germain's World Trust Fund, and you will have sufficient to ensure that everyone is above the poverty levels that so many are experiencing now.

Money and valuables acquired honestly will be kept in possession of the bona fide owners. However, anything else that has been obtained dishonestly will be recovered. A feature of your future lives will be that criminality will disappear, as such actions will not enter the minds of those who have ascended. Consciousness levels will be so high that honesty in all dealings can be taken for granted. Plus the fact that people that are cared for and have their needs covered, are happy and at One with everyone else. Yes, Dear Ones so much is about to change that you have nothing to worry about, but please exercise patience while matters are being sorted out. Our absence so far is not to be seen as a deliberate act on our part, as we would have liked to come out openly some time ago. However, what you are achieving by your own endeavors is a credit to your intent to see the way clear to Ascension. We have helped of course to stop interference that would seriously hamper your work. …”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Erasmus Huis Showcases Sustainable Architecture, Past, Present and Future

Jakarta Globe, Katrin Figge, December 16, 2012

Floating houses are one of the ingenious projects highlighted at the
‘Architecture  of Consequence’ exhibition, currently showing at Erasmus Huis.
(JG Photo/Katrin Figge)

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With rapid urbanization happening all around the world, architects are facing more challenges than ever before: to find solutions on how to make good use of limited free space and come up with viable solutions to make living in a crammed environment worthwhile, while also taking into account things like water management and environmentally friendly construction.

But architects from the Netherlands Architecture Institute have created a new engagement and approach to their field. Through its program called “Architecture of Consequence,” the NAI has continuously shown that architecture is an integral part to solving the colossal tasks people are dealing with around the globe.

Erasmus Huis is showcasing projects of the NAI in a new exhibition.

“By juxtaposing work of the past and the present, the exhibition aims to demonstrate the ongoing commitment of Dutch architects and planners in [different] fields,” an introduction to the exhibit reads. “The exhibition serves as a catalogue of ideas intended to seize opportunities and contribute to shaping a more sustainable future.”

By highlighting different projects of the NAI, visitors see how Dutch architects and urban planners have taken on many different challenges since 1840.

One intriguing project shown at the exhibition falls under the section of mass housing. During the 1950s and ’60s, an enormous housing shortage resulted in the erection of many cheap high-rise buildings. Not much thought went into aesthetics and beauty, as the focus was purely on speedy construction, and many criticized the “unimaginative and dull concrete blocks.”

One such example was the neighborhood of Ommoord in Rotterdam, which proved to be a thorn in the public’s side.

“It was not only regarded as desolate and somber, but over time it became troubled by social issues such as crime and low general welfare,” reads the caption under images of the gloomy buildings. “In the 1990s, the majority of the flats were in poor condition and no longer measured up to current standards. Reviving them was deemed useless.”

But despite the perception of the public, the tenants of Ommoord enjoyed living in the area. And so they decided to come together and fight for a better image of their neighborhood. Their efforts created a close-knit community that was able to rescue the flats from demolition.

An architecture office then committed to a project that saw the altering of four flats in 1999 to improve the image of Ommoord: two of them underwent adjustments to be fit for the elderly, while the other two were renovated and refurbished to be put on the market for rent and sale.

Through this renovation, it became clear that “the main challenge for architecture is not in production, but in maintenance, renovation and reuse.”

Another project that has seen a lot of media coverage takes visitors to the city of IJburg, located close to Amsterdam.

This floating city came into being when city planners realized that Amsterdam was growing rapidly, and there was a dire need for housing.

But with almost every inch of land already occupied, a more innovative approach was required.

IJburg is an entire district that has been built on a series of man-made islands on Lake IJ, featuring a central transport link to Amsterdam’s city center. It is a neighborhood of floating homes, designed for the tenants to have an uninterrupted view of the water. The first residents moved into their houses in 2001.

The houses are constructed from a concrete base that sits half a storey below the water level. During the summer, residents can literally jump into the lake from their doorstep for a refreshing swim, while in winter time they can strap on a pair of ice skates and glide along the frozen lake.

To keep the houses from rocking, they are anchored at opposite points to the front and back. To guarantee the stability of the houses in the water, the furniture must be arranged in a way that they keep the balance.

The exhibition also showcases projects of the future that have not been realized yet, such as the model called Park Supermarket. This project is based on the cultivation and harvesting of food in the parks of big Dutch cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The plan is for shoppers to pick fresh fruit and vegetables directly from the plots where they have been grown.

Architecture of Consequence
Through Dec. 28
Erasmus Huis
Jl. Rasuna Said Kav. S3
Kuningan, South Jakarta
Tel. 021 524 1069

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In North Jakarta, New Potential for an Old City

Jakarta Globe, Nadia Yusuf, December 11, 2012

Kota Tua features almost 200 historic buildings, but many owners are
reluctant to restore the old structures. (JG Photo/Nadia Yusuf)
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Strolling through Jakarta’s crumbling yet cultural Kota Tua, it’s easy to see the potential of transforming the area into a hub for tourists and citizens alike. Unfortunately, as it currently stands now, the former colonial city is failing to reach its full potential.

Though it does contain some interesting sites, especially its museums, the buildings are in dire need of restoration. Kota Tua contains 182 old edifices, but many owners are reluctant to renovate them due to excessive bureaucratic regulations surrounding the process.

Fortunately, Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama recently announced during a meeting with stakeholders that he was prepared to allot Rp 150 billion ($15.5 million) to revitalize the area. He also noted that he will commence plans to renovate the area to “look like Venice” and become Jakarta’s historical center by 2014.

With Kota’s rich cultural history and ambitious renovation plans in mind, my friends and I decided to make a day out of touring the old city by foot, accompanied by Kartum Setiawan, chairman of Komunitas Jelajah Budaya, an organization focused on promoting cultural art and historical sites around Jakarta. We wanted to see what it looks like now while imagining what would happen if Basuki’s plans are realized.

Kota Tua, also known as Old Batavia, spans 1.3 square kilometers and was previously dubbed “the Queen of the East” by European sailors in the early 16th century. Built around a canal system, the Dutch government mainly utilized the city as a base for commerce and military defense, as well as an administrative center. The walls that used to contain the city have since been torn down, but Kota still maintains its original design, making it relatively simple to navigate compared with the rest of Jakarta.

Over time, the capital’s city center was gradually repositioned further south toward the National Monument area in Central Jakarta’s Merdeka Square, but the antiquated remnants of the Dutch architecture in Kota Tua remain intact — some buildings are abandoned, while others have been converted into museums, banks, offices and commercial stores.

We started our journey at Museum Mandiri — an art deco building originally built in 1929 for the Dutch Factorij Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij, or the Netherlands Trading Corporation. NHM shipped and sold commodities, though it eventually progressed from commerce into banking.

Bank Mandiri later acquired the building and has transformed the former factory into a museum dedicated to Indonesia’s banking system in the 1930s. Located across Stasiun Kota, Museum Mandiri was designed by J. de Bruyn, A.P Smits and C. Van der Linde. Admission to the museum is free.

We found our way in quite easily and were greeted by two statues of old guards in colonial garb and a display that simulated a Dutch teller. The original black, gray and red tiles still adorn the floor, while a large, well preserved ledger showing company accounts between 1833-1837 is on display in the middle of the room. The museum also dedicated an area to the Chinese clients, who were holders of large plantations and trade companies at the time.

The basement houses a safe deposit vault, a cash room, individual lockers and old bank documents such as deposit slips, checks and stock certificates. In one room, pieces of tram tracks that were torn down during the time of Sukarno’s administration are displayed, showing what Kota Tua could have been like today if the tram was still around.

A computerized map in the museum compares and contrasts old Batavia with today’s Kota, showing the gradual construction of the city and its canals over time.

As it was a Sunday, the terrace gardens accommodated small local bands that have been playing in rotation since early last month.

We made our way through the noise and up the stairs to the top floor, passing by stained glass windows made by Cornelis de Houtman, the first Dutch captain to set his sails for Indonesia.

The upper floor of the museum showcases old layouts of boardrooms, antique furniture, calculating machines, manual presses and old currencies.

“If you want to see a currency collection more extensive than this, you will have to visit Museum Bank Indonesia, but this museum is the only one that displays old banking documents,” explained Kartum as we headed down on a mahogany wood lift. We made our way out of the museum toward Kali Besar by way of Jl. Pintu Besar Utara, passing by Bank Indonesia.

“Most of these old buildings are properties owned by Bank Mandiri that were acquired overtime through the merging of the different banks,” Kartum noted while guiding us through the roads.

Straight roads and stone pavement from when the streets were first built are still perfectly intact throughout the district. If you factor out the cleanliness and frantic traffic, the walk easily resembles walking along the old city in Singapore.

We stopped by the bridge on Kali Besar to take in the view. Considering all of the floating garbage and the strong odor emanating from the water, the fact that it was once used by the Dutch as a canal system and means of getting around seems so unlikely nowadays. We tried to imagine how beautiful it could be if it was sanitized and illuminated at night.

Our group strolled through the sides of the canal, passing by old colonial houses and office buildings. Some were dilapidated former printing houses with chipped paint and corroded brick walls. Wooden benches sit underneath trees on the sides of the canal.

We stopped in front of the newly restored Toko Merah, a building located on the west side of Kali Besar. The building, known for its red facade, was constructed in the 1730s, making it one of the oldest buildings in Jakarta. It served as the Dutch Naval Academy, which is believed to be the oldest Naval Academy in Asia. It then was converted to a residence for several governor generals of Batavia. Now a conference hall and commercial gallery, it hosted Basuki when he spoke about the area’s future restoration plans.

“Lets walk towards Museum Fatahillah,” Kartum suggested, as we moved forward to the pedestrian-only area. Hawkers, side squatters and vendors lined the roads leading to the square where the museum is located.

A large stone fountain in the center of the square could easily be Jakarta’s version of the Fontana di Trevi in Italy.

I imagined how wonderful it could be if the whole district was fully restored. If the area was cleaned and the hawkers were relocated to a collective market, the area could be a cultural hub of sorts, a center much like Amsterdam Square with museums, art schools, renovated antique hotels and a tree-lined boat canal with wooden benches to lounge on during a sunny day.

Previous governors have planned to restore the old city, but as admitted by a source in the government who wished to remain anonymous, a lack of coordination between different governmental agencies and excessive bureaucratic hierarchy caused delays in the implementation of a master plan.

Perhaps granting permits for commercial development, with strict regulations for the preserving architectural heritage of the city in conjunction with supervision from Ikatan Arsitektur Indonesia could be an effective method for restoring Kota.

If it is continuously and properly maintained, Kota Tua has the potential to change Jakarta for the better for generations to come.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

US Diplomat Hopes Song Can Win Over Pakistan

The Jakarta Globe, Damon Wake, December 07, 2012

Jenaiy from Black Box Sounds on Vimeo.
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In this picture taken on Dec. 5, 2012, 
Shayla Cram,  a US public diplomacy
 officer assigned to Peshawar, sings a
 Pashto song on her guitar in Islamabad. 
(AFP Photo/Aamir Qureshi) 
Islamabad. A US official is taking a novel approach to diplomacy in Pakistan — singing in a local language to build bridges in one of the world’s most dangerous countries, where anti-Americanism runs rampant.

Shayla Cram, a public diplomacy officer assigned to Peshawar, the gateway to Al-Qaeda and Taliban strongholds in the northwestern tribal belt, has not only learnt Pashto but has penned her own Pashto-style song.

“Jenaiy,” which means “girl,” is a tribute to Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting education for girls.

It features Cram on guitar and vocals and a Pakistani musician on the rabab — a traditional stringed instrument — and urges girls to have hope for the future and pursue their dreams.

“There’s definitely need in Pakistan to encourage young girls and females in their education and leadership, to make them young leaders, and that’s the basic message of my song,” Cram told AFP.

Women in Pakistan, particularly in northwestern rural areas, are frequently treated as second-class citizens, subjected to horrific violence in the name of family “honor,” and denied education.

Nationwide, fewer than half of women can read and write and militants are violently opposed to girls going to school — as showed by the October attack on Malala, now recovering in Britain.

Despite the anti-American feeling, Cram says the song has had a good response so far. She now plans to work with local musicians to record a whole album in other Pakistani languages.

“I would say 97 percent has been overwhelmingly positive and the other few people who have said that [given negative reactions], for example on our embassy Facebook page, are always our harshest critics no matter what we do,” she said.

Pakistan-US relations are on the rebound from a series of crises in 2011 that saw a CIA operative held for double murder, Osama bin Laden killed by US troops and botched air strikes kill 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Peshawar is regularly hit by militant bombings, including a deadly suicide attack on a US government convoy in September — and American diplomats’ movements are tightly controlled due to security worries.

Reaching out across the airwaves is a cheap and easy way to get around the frustrations of restrictions to make contact with people, Cram says.

“How can you do that for example in Peshawar when you can’t leave the [consulate] gates? How do I reach someone’s heart and let them know who I am and what I’m about as an American when I can’t physically go out?” she said.

“One of the most effective ways I think is through music, because it’s something people can connect to and understand in a simple way.”

The 29-year-old is no stranger to the musical limelight — she taught herself the guitar while working in west Africa, writing songs about HIV/AIDS and child trafficking that were still played on Togolese radio after she left the country.

While the embassy has been supportive, Cram received no financial assistance.

“Jenaiy” was recorded in a studio with the help of Pakistani friends in the music industry, and a slick video was shot in someone’s garden on the edge of Islamabad. The track has been sent to radio stations across the northwest.

Pastun culture has a rich and vibrant musical tradition, but critics warn Cram faces a tough task in trying to win over the public.

Sher Ali, a music journalist for English-language newspaper The Express Tribune, said success would depend on how much air play the track gets.

“The key is to get on the regional networks which connect to people in the grassroots,” he told AFP.

“The music is very mainstream and will connect with a certain class of urban listener, but Pakistan is very divided and a lot of the population you want to connect to with this message is working class or in rural areas.”

Rasheed Safi, head of news at Buraq Radio, one of the biggest stations in the northwest, welcomed Cram’s efforts but said her accent — picked up from her Afghan teachers in the US — might put listeners off.

“This is a good attempt and I appreciate that a US diplomat has learnt Pashto language and then sung a song, but the accent is Afghani, which is less attractive for Pakistani Pashto music lovers,” he told AFP.

The video can be seen at

Friday, December 7, 2012

Italian Police Arrest Mafia Boss in Bali

Jakarta Globe, December 07, 2012

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Rome. Italian police have arrested a fugitive mafia boss living in a luxury home on the island of Bali in a joint operation with Indonesian authorities, the police said on Friday.

Antonino Messicati Vitale has served 10 years in prison in the past for mafia association and is wanted on new charges of extortion.

He is believed to be head of the Sicilian Mafia clan of Villabate, which was at the center of a bloody gang war in the 1990s.

Messicati Vitale, whose father Pietro was gunned down in 1988, was one of the most high-profile mafia bosses still on the run.

"The fugitive's residence was in a luxurious residence in a seaside resort in Bali," a police statement said.

Investigators tracked Messicati Vitale by bugging and wiretapping his family and allies and then tracking a group of his relatives who traveled to Bali.

Agence France-Presse

The suspect was living in a luxury flat near Kuta Beach

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unesco Names Papua’s ‘Noken’ to Cultural Heritage List

Jakarta Globe, December 05, 2012

Noken, a multifunctional woven bag from Papua, was placed on Unesco's 'List
of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding' at a Unesco session
in Paris on Tuesday. (Photo from
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Unesco has placed noken, a traditional multifunctional woven bag from Papua, on its “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.”

The listing was made official during a Unesco session in Paris on Tuesday, the UN body said in a statement published on its website.

Noken is a knotted net or woven bag handmade from wood fiber or leaves, by people in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Men and women use it for carrying produce, fish, firewood, babies or small animals, as well as for shopping and storing things in the home. Noken may also be worn, often for traditional festivities, or given as peace offerings.

“The number of people making and using noken is diminishing, however,” Unesco said.

“Factors threatening its survival include lack of awareness, weakening of traditional transmission, decreasing numbers of craftspeople, competition from factory-made bags, problems in easily and quickly obtaining traditional raw materials, and shifts in the cultural values of noken,” it added.

The inclusion of noken on the list, Unesco says, is expected to help mobilize international cooperation and assistance for stakeholders to undertake appropriate safeguarding measures.

Indonesian Deputy Education and Culture Minister Wiendu Nuryanti, who attended the Paris session, said Indonesia first submitted the proposal to put noken on Unesco’s World Heritage list four years ago, and it was revised several times since then.

“Today, at 10:30 a.m. Paris time, noken was acknowledged by Unesco. The Indonesian delegation [attending the session], including from Papua, and all of us Indonesians must thank God and be proud of Papua for this,” Wiendu wrote of the achievement in a text message sent to Indonesian news portal

“We’ll work together with various parties to increase the selling value of Papua’s noken. For example, we will join hands with Indonesian designers to make noken a material or accessory for their fashion works,” she added.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Indigenous Communities Want Religion Scrubbed From ID Cards

Jakarta Globe, Amir Tejo, November 28, 2012

Dede, a member of the Baduy tribe, sits on a natural root bridge after a long
 barefoot trek in this November 2011 file photo. The Baduy, with their traditional
 faith Sunda Wiwitan, is among Indonesian traditional communities not allowed
 to put their non-mainstream beliefs on ID cards. (JG Photo/Emily Johnson)
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Surabaya. A coalition of indigenous tribes urged the Indonesian government to omit a citizen’s religion from national identification cards on Wednesday, arguing that an adherence to six officials religions fails recognize their traditional faiths.

More than 700 representatives from 300 traditional communities from across the archipelago voiced their opinion during the closing ceremony of the National Congress of Faiths To One and Only God on Wednesday.

“ID cards only displays six religions, not traditional faiths,” congress chairman A. Latif said.

Indonesia only recognizes six official religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism and Confucianism. Some of the nation’s traditional indigenous people practice forms of animism that predate the six official religions’ dominance in Indonesia.

But practitioners of traditional religions have to choose one of the official faiths when applying for a national ID card.

“To justly accommodate the beliefs of cultural and traditional faith communities, the religion section must be omitted,” Latif said.

The congress also recommended the government institute moral education classes in the national curriculum and urged lawmakers to pass a law protecting the free practice of traditional faiths.

The Ministry of Education and Culture said it would bring the recommendations to the House of Representatives, but said it could not guarantee any action.

“The government’s authority is limited because it has to coordinate with the House of Representatives, so the government will ask for support from cultural communities,” said Gendro Nur Hadi, director of traditional faith development at the ministry.

Gendro told the assembled people that the government would not turn a blind eye to the nation’s traditional faiths.

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"Perceptions of God" – June 6, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Quantum Teaching, The Fear of God, Near-death Experience, God Becomes Mythology, Worship, Mastery, Intelligent Design, Benevolent CreatorGlobal Unity.... etc.) (Text version)

“.. For centuries you haven't been able to think past that box of what God must be like. So you create a Human-like God with wars in heaven, angel strife, things that would explain the devil, fallen angels, pearly gates, lists of dos and don'ts, and many rules still based on cultures that are centuries old. You create golden streets and even sexual pleasures as rewards for men (of course) - all Human perspective, pasted upon God. I want to tell you that it's a lot different than that. I want to remind you that there are those who have seen it! Why don't you ask somebody who has had what you would call a near-death experience?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UNESCO Urges Bali to Pass Bylaw Protecting Subak Rice Fields

Jakarta Globe, Made Arya Kencana, November 26, 2012

A tourist walks past a paddy rice field in Jatiluwih, Bali, in May. The Balinese
 traditional irrigation and farming system, also known as Subak, was officially
 named as a UNESCO world heritage site during a meeting of the UN's cultural
agency in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (EPA Photo/Made Nagi)
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Bali’s terraced “subak” rice fields need to be protected from encroaching development, the United Nation’s cultural agency UNESCO urged on Monday, warning that the world heritage sites faced similar threats as Sumatra's disappearing rain forests.

The agency pushed for Bali administration to issue a bylaw preventing the conversion of subak rice paddies for the construction of hotels or other tourism-focused facilities. UNESCO named the island’s subak rice paddies a world heritage site in May.

“We’ve visited four districts whose subak fields have been named a world heritage and asked the district heads to issue a bylaw in line with [UNESCO’s] global guidelines [for world heritage sites],” Arief Rachman, chairman of the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, told the Antara News Agency.

The cooperatively managed canal system dates back to the Ninth Century and reflects the philosophical concept Tri Hita Karana, which focuses on bringing together the spirit, human and natural worlds. There are some 303 hectares of subak rice paddies still in existence, according to tourism officials.

“The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago despite the challenge of supporting a dense population,” UNESCO explained on its website.

The island’s administration has drafted the conservation bylaw, but is still waiting for public officials to endorse it, Bali Tourism Agency head Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu said.

Bali’s large tourism industry has taken a toll on the subak rice fields as local residents choose to work in the hotel and restaurant industries instead of farming rice, he said. The farms themselves are being sold off to hotel developers eager to build on new land.

“The number of farmers is also getting low because more residents choose to work at hotels now,” Subhiksu said. “According to a survey we did, many farmers’ children did not want to be farmers when they grow up.”

UNESCO named Sumatra’s rain forests as a world heritage site in 2004, citing the once-lush forests’ biodiversity. But after years of deforestation, the cultural agency was forced to place the forests on its “Danger List.”

“Tropical rainforests in Sumatra are facing a threat to be removed from the world heritage list because of development activities, which have led to forest clearings,” Arief said.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Three Rare Sumatran Tiger Cubs Born at Medan Zoo

Jakarta Globe, November 14, 2012

Three four-week-old cubs sit inside a cage at a zoo in Medan, North Sumatra
on  Wednesday. A critically endangered Sumatran tiger has given birth to three
cubs  at an Indonesian zoo, a veterinarian at the facility said on Wednesday.
(AFP Photo/Atar)
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Medan. A critically endangered Sumatran tiger has given birth to three cubs at an Indonesian zoo, a veterinarian at the facility said on Wednesday.

“She gave birth naturally, without human intervention. The three cubs are all healthy. Two are male, while we haven’t been able to get close to the other to identify it,” Suci Terawan, a veterinarian at Medan Zoo in North Sumatra, told AFP.

The 13-year-old Sumatran tiger named Manis, or Sweetie in English, gave birth to the cubs on Oct. 18, just over a year after she successfully bore three male cubs, Terawan said.

“This is our latest contribution in conserving the critically endangered species,” he said, adding that the zoo now has six cubs, and one female and two male adults.

Earlier this year, a Sumatran tiger at a zoo on the island’s Jambi province gave birth to three cubs, but only two survived.

Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild, conservationists say, with several dying each year as a result of traps, poaching and other human intervention.

Agence France-Presse

Sunday, November 11, 2012

To Reform the United Nations, BDF Needs Global Support

Jakarta Globe, Pitan Daslani, November 11, 2012

A more democratic United Nations was on the agenda of the Bali Democracy
 Forum attended by leaders such as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono,  Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Afghan President Hamid Karzai
 and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AFP Photo/Sonny Tumbelaka)
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The issue of reforming the United Nations Security Council loomed large during the two-day Bali Democracy Forum, which was attended by 11 heads of state and government.

The essence of their speeches on this particular topic was to restructure the council, or UNSC, to the extent that it represents “actual realities” of the present-day global constellation so that the world’s most powerful authority is not “undemocratically controlled” only by the five permanent members, often referred to as the “Perm Five.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recognized that the current constellation of the UNSC was the result of a global power imbalance in the aftermath of World War II. Now that this reason is out-dated, he said, it is time for the council to be restructured.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also spoke about the need to overhaul the UN system and make it more democratic because the current constellation is “no longer suitable” for present-day realities.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gave a broader perspective on the issue and emphasized the need to democratize the United Nations to the point that it reflects the globe’s potential strengths in all fields. This would include rewriting the criteria for membership to the UNSC.

To do so, the UN Charter must be amended. And that is where huge problems arise. If amending a country’s constitution is a big and very sensitive issue, more so is the proposition to amend the UN Charter.

Where to begin? Who will have the authority to conduct reform? And, the most crucial question is, how to get the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France to agree to relinquish their exclusive veto rights? These states would then no longer enjoy the exclusivity of such rights and be “downgraded” to the level of ordinary, non-permanent members. Reforming the UNSC would mean scrapping exclusive rights and sharing them with the rest of the UNSC members.

What the Bali Democracy Forum leaders had in mind was that if the UNSC could be reformed, it should begin by abolishing the distinction between permanent and non-permanent membership, thereby sharing the exclusive veto right equally among all members as a matter of democratic fairness.

The next step would be to rewrite the criteria for obtaining UNSC membership status.

That should reflect the real strength of the world, from economic to socio-demographic, technological, geo-strategic and soft-power excellence, and not merely based on perception of a country’s military strength, which is how it has been done for nearly seven decades.

Idealistically, that would usher in a more balanced global order in which key decisions on global peace, security, governance and economic policy formulation are made democratically by a reformed UN whose resolutions would no longer be suspected of advancing or siding with the agendas of certain countries.

In step with such endeavors, the UN General Assembly must be given greater authority to establish a “democratic superbody” under its auspices with the mandate to appoint the right people to lead various international agencies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and all UN organs.

The conduct of the assembly, or UNGA, itself needs to be reformed so that it no longer becomes a forum for adversaries to attack each other, as in the ugly annual shows by warring countries, or those involved in various kinds of undeclared, yet open, war.

Delegates to UNGA should be required to present their best practices so others can learn from and their concerns and propose solutions to global problems affecting their existence.

That way, the UNGA could become an annual forum for obtaining answers and solutions instead of a platform for displaying hegemony, hatred, provocation and enmity. What a wonderful world the final outcome would be! In fact, US President Barack Obama has for some time envisaged such a UN. But for now, these reforms remain in my daydreams after reading the speeches of the Bali Democracy Forum leaders.

The speeches taught me to dream about a new world in which the UN is the peacemaker and problem-solver for its member countries. I was taught by those speeches to smile optimistically at future harmonious international relations, rather than frowning at the current realities.

But after a while, I realized that none of what those leaders were saying about UN reform during the forum was actually new.

Even as early as 1992, when leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) gathered for their 10th summit in Jakarta, they had already issued a joint declaration that aimed to, among other things, reform the UN.

Even before that, Ali Alatas, who served as Indonesia’s foreign minister from 1988 to 1999 and was very well respected for his diplomatic acumen, strove through various international forums to achieve a consensus for reforming the UN.

Alatas — who co-chaired the Paris International Peace Conference on Cambodia with then-French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas and was the spokesman of the Third World Group of 77 for talks with advanced countries — used Asean, the Group of 77, NAM, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and other forums to advance this goal. And yet untilhis death, he had not seen his painstaking efforts come to fruition.

The global power constellation remains undemocratic despite the rhetoric of those self-proclaimed “champions of democracy.” It is a big illusion to expect the Bali Democracy Forum to correct the situation by relying on its own network.

BDF needs to be expanded to include the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France as permanent participants, as well as other regional powers such as Brazil and Mexico to represent South America; South Africa, Egypt and perhaps Nigeria or other strong economies on the African continent; as well as Germany, Canada and OIC members.

Besides, leaving NATO members out of the picture would be counterproductive — if indeed reforming the UNSC is part of the goal that BDF leaders had in mind during their Bali meeting. The time is right because NATO does not have an enemy today to justify its huge weaponry.

Before talking about reforming the UN what BDF must do is strengthen its membership network to represent the actual strength of international constellations so that its aspirations can be supported by those participants that represent the majority of global strength.

But that alone is not enough. How the BDF can amend the UN Charter and reform the UN is a wilderness that has yet to be explored.

Perhaps it will remain in my daydreams for many more years until I give up and acknowledge that this is not simple work that can be solved through a loose forum’s appeals and declarations.

The world needs a new democratic conscience movement to push such strategic issues forward. And it needs great statesmen to make it happen.

The next BDF needs to go a lot further than just a collection of keynote speeches. The forum must attract other centers of power so that they too may lend a helping hand in creating a more balanced global order.

Pitan Daslani is a senior political correspondent at BeritaSatu Media Holdings, of which the Jakarta Globe is a subsidiary. He can be reached at

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