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, February 28, 2015

Awesome Tapes From Africa Head to Jakarta

Jakarta Globe, Marcel Thee, Feb 23, 2015

Popular DJ and music blogger Brian Shimkovitz will perform a set from his
Awesome Tapes From Africa blog in Jakarta on March 13. (Photo courtesy of
Valerie Paulsgrove)

First going online in 2006, Brian Shimkovitz’s Awesome Tapes From Africa blog has grown from a personal online journal of collected African music to one of the most respected music-centric blogs around.

It only makes sense then, that the popular blogger would visit Jakarta to perform a set in front of the city’s ever-growing horde of culturally hyper-aware megapolitans.

This will happen on March 13, with opening acts London-via-Berlin Perera Elsewhere and Batavia’s own Ffonz (who is a part of the W Music collective). The venue where this will be happening has yet to be confirmed, but those interested in attending should check out the Facebook page of the organizer, Ashram Project, for updates.

Brian has spent the last few years, aside from running his blog-turned-label, DJ-ing across the world. His set often includes a good mix of folkloric pop, left-field dance-floor tracks and a variety of hip-hop music he’s discovered on foot in African marketplaces. His sets tend to run for a while, ranging between two and three hours and he often uses a rather retro-ish twin tape deck and other analog equipment.

In an editorial written for Britain’s The Wire, Brian wrote of how Awesome Tapes From Africa first came into being.

“I started Awesome Tapes From Africa as a way to make artefacts [sic] available from the cassette-based music economy I have encountered around Africa. Something that began quite innocently as a means of filling the wide gaps in international music distribution — nearly every musician and producer I’ve met in West Africa wants to find a way to get their music beyond their borders — has become a spark in the often fiery debates surrounding suspected post-colonial tendencies of the Western music industry vis-a-vis the developing world.”

Awesome Tapes From Africa’s popularity gave Brian plenty of chances to develop his blog into something more, which he did. In 2011, the blog was developed into a now critically acclaimed vinyl-focused label. It began re-releasing older records by under-appreciated — at least by the international music scene — African artists such as Bola, Dur-Dur Band, Hailu Mergia and Penny Penny.

According to its official bio, the label “plays an essential role in furthering Brian’s mission to build an international audience for African music through touring and re-issues.”

Through his vast African cassette archive, Brian fills his blog and DJ sets with less-traversed genres such as highlife, fuji, benga, tsonga disco, soukous, hip-hop, rhumba and ethio-soul.

Opener Perera Elsewhere is the pseudonym of singer-songwriter-producer Sasha Perera who also DJs under the name Mother Perera.

Jakarta’s own Ffonz will DJ a mix of his signature classic hip-hop, old Soul, and vintage beats.

For more information check out

Death Row Convict Requests Judicial Review

Jakarta Globe, Fuska Sani, Feb 28, 2015

A woman with a battery powered candle takes part in a vigil against the
death penalty in Sydney on Jan. 29, 2015. (AFP Photo/Saeed Khan)

Yogyakarta. A Filipina drug convict on death row, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, filed a request for judicial review on Friday after President Joko Widodo denied her clemency request.

Veloso was arrested on April 24, 2010 at Yogyakarta’s Adi Sucipto Airport attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin. After exhausting her appeals, Joko refused her plea for pardon in Presidential Decree No. 31/G/2014.

The Sleman State Court in Yogyakarta has received the judicial review request and court proceedings will start on Tuesday.

“The judicial review trial for Mary Jane will take place at the Sleman State Court next Tuesday,” Nikolaus Kondomo, head of the Yogyakarta state court, said on Friday.

The Yogyakarta Attorney General Office’s crime official, Tri Subardiman, said that his office concurred with the Sleman State Court that a judicial review could advance despite Joko’s refusal.

“It’s her legal right as a convict to request a judicial review,” Tri said.

The Sleman Court will check and validate the evidence that Veloso’s legal representation will present and then it will forward the evidence to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will decide whether to grant Veloso’s request for a judicial review and retrial.

“Only once [Veloso] has exhausted all her legal rights can we move forward on her execution date,” Tri added.

The Yogyakarta chapter head of the National Anti-Narcotics Movement, Feryan Nugroho, welcomed Veloso’s bid for a lesser penalty but pointed out that Joko’s refusal for a pardon might prejudice her case even further.

“[Requesting a pardon] means that she has admitted her guilt,” Feryan said. “Let’s just wait for the judicial review trial. We still hope for the fairest decision.”

Indonesian Bishops, Migrant Activists Reject Death Penalty

'This is extraordinarily vicious, to make someone wait for death instead of freedom'

Jakarta Globe, Yustinus Paat,  Feb 27, 2015

Heavily armed police officers surround Myuran Sukumaran, a convicted Australian drug
trafficker, who is scheduled to be executed soon. (Antara Photo/Nyoman Budhiana)

Jakarta. The death penalty is an inhuman form of punishment and not effective in deterring crime, the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI) said on Friday, ahead of the pending execution of 11 drug convicts.

“Apart from moral considerations, we deem the death penalty ineffective and inhuman,” Pastor P.C. Siswantoko, the executive secretary of the KWI’s Commission for Justice and Peace, said at a discussion on Friday.

The pastor said that to tackle drug-related crime, consistency in the rule of law should be the government’s priority.

“Crime, especially the problem of drugs, will not decrease as long as law enforcers are not even-handed in carrying out their duties,” Siswantoko said.

He added that the government should also try to make the market for drugs smaller — by developing strategies to prevent youths from falling prey to substance abuse — instead of merely trying to cut supply.

The religious leader also described capital punishment as a violation of human rights that causes immense suffering and amounts to torture of the convict, citing in particular the long wait before execution.

“This is extraordinarily vicious, to make someone wait for death instead of freedom,” Siswantoko said, mentioning also the possibility of convicts becoming the subject of political maneuvers or the fatal victims of miscarriages of justice.

A total of 11 drugs convicts, including two Australian ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine gang, are awaiting imminent death by firing squad. A date for their execution has not been publicly announced but Joko as well as other senior state officials have been adamant that the killings would go ahead despite mounting international pressure.

The Australians have been on death row since 2006. Six people, five foreigners and one Indonesian national, were already executed last month.

The pastor said the KWI had asked President Joko Widodo to reconsider his decision to proceed with the executions.

Anis Hidayah, who heads Migrant Care, said at the same discussion on Friday that her advocacy group absolutely rejects the death penalty, citing the right to live and flaws in the Indonesian legal system among the reasons for the group’s position.

She added that the president’s refusal to grant drug convicts clemency also hampered the work of her organization.

“In the years 2004-14, three Indonesian nationals have been executed abroad. Another 360 could face the death penalty and 17 among those have already been convicted,” Anis said. “If Indonesia applies the death penalty, that means negotiations with other countries [to prevent Indonesian migrant workers from being killed] will be more difficult.”

“Jokowi shouldn’t look at this purely from a legal perspective, but also value the lives of people who are set to be executed, both here and abroad.”

Indonesia to Deport Australian Journalist Covering Death Row Story

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Feb 27, 2015

Journalists, left, wait for the arrival of family members of two Australian prisoners
 on death row, part of the so-called ‘Bali Nine’ heroin smuggling gang, outside
Kerobokan prison in Denpasar, Bali on Feb. 17, 2015. (AFP Photo/Sonny Tumbelaka)

Jakarta. An Australian journalist was to be deported from Indonesia on Friday after being caught covering the story of two Australian drug traffickers on death row without the correct visa, immigration authorities said.

Candace Sutton, a reporter for the Daily Mail, was taken in for questioning by immigration officials on Wednesday as she interviewed a relative of one of the Australian convicts at a hotel on Java.

The interview was taking place in the port town of Cilacap, close to a prison island where the traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan are to be put to death.

The men, ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug smuggling gang, are facing imminent execution after the president rejected their pleas for clemency, typically a death row convict’s last chance of avoiding the firing squad.

No date has been set for the executions.

Immigration department spokesman Heriyanto said that Sutton “failed to show a journalist visa” and had violated immigration laws by working while on a tourist visa that she bought on arrival in Indonesia.

She will be put on a flight late on Friday from Jakarta back to Sydney, authorities said.

The Australians are among a group of foreigners, including a Frenchman and a Brazilian, who are likely to be executed soon.

Canberra has made repeated pleas for their citizens to be spared but Jakarta has insisted it will push ahead with the executions.

The looming executions have drawn global media attention, and hordes of journalists have descended on Cilacap.

Agence France-Presse

Thursday, February 26, 2015

SBY Honored, Along With Companies, for Green Growth

Jakarta Globe, Feb 26, 2015

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when he was still president of Indonesia. (EPA
Photo/Bagus Indahono).

Jakarta. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was among a diverse group of winners of awards for sustainable business practices whose names were announced on Wednesday evening, with the former Indonesian president receiving praise for “his achievements in developing green growth in Indonesia and his commitments to action on climate change globally.”

A Special Award for Leadership in Green Growth and Development was presented to Yudhoyono at the Shangri La Hotel Jakarta, during a ceremony attended by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sofyan Djalil and other ministers, as well as CEOs, heads of international agencies and media.

“Development and growth is something that needs to be planned carefully. It needs to ensure social inclusiveness. It needs to protect the environment, it needs to correspond to climate challenge, it needs to go on for the long term,” Yudhoyono said at the award ceremony.

The 2014 Sustainable Business Awards Indonesia were organized by Global Initiatives in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) and the Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The organizers said in a press release that cement company Holcim Indonesia emerged the overall winner, but companies such as Bank BNI, Astra International, Bukit Asam, Nestle Indonesia, Bumi Serpong Damai and Unilever also won in various categories.

Tony Gourlay, CEO of Global Initiatives, said in the press release: “For the third year in a row, we are pleased to showcase companies in Indonesia who have embedded sustainability in their corporate mission and whose leadership shares this vision. We encourage other companies to follow their lead and communicate their sustainability efforts more widely.”

The complete list of SBA winners


Overall Winner: Holcim Indonesia

1. Strategy and vision: Unilever Indonesia
2. Workforce: Holcim Indonesia
3. Community: Astra International
4. Energy management: Holcim Indonesia
5. Water management: Bukit Asam
6. Waste & material productivity: Danone Aqua Group
7. Climate Change: Holcim Indonesia
8. Supply Chain: Nestle Indonesia
9. Land Use, Biodiversity and the Environment: Monsanto Indonesia (Branita Sandini)
10. Business Responsibility and Ethics: Unilever Indonesia

* Environmental Disclosure: Dupont Agriculture Products Indonesia


1. Pioneer in Green Finance in Indonesia: Bank Negara Indonesia
2. Outstanding leadership in sustainable agriculture: Great Giant Pineapple
3. SME placing sustainability at the core of its business: Pulau Nikoi
4. Outstanding Energy Management in the mining sector: Vale Indonesia
5. Outstanding Water Management in the property sector: Bumi Serpong Damai

Special Award for Green Growth & Leadership: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Indonesia Demands Explanation From Brazil Over Diplomatic Snub

Jakarta Globe, Suara Pembaruan, Feb 24, 2015

Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi, left, accompanied by the Indonesian
 ambassador-designate to Brazil Toto R.J., right, gives a statement to the press
 regarding the delay in delivery of the ambassador’s credentials to Brazil, after meeting
 President Joko Widodo at the Presidential Palace, in Jakarta on Feb. 24, 2015.
(Antara Photo/Ismar Patrizki)

Jakarta. Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has demanded an explanation from Brazil after President Dilma Rousseff refused to accept the diplomatic credentials of Indonesia’s ambassador-designate.

The diplomatic snub was reportedly over the imminent execution of a Brazilian convict on death row for drug trafficking in Indonesia, but Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP. Marsudi has summoned the Brazilian ambassador for an official explanation.

“We don’t know the official reason, the information received by the ambassador[-designate] from the Brazilian foreign affairs minister was the postponement was related to the execution,” Retno said on Tuesday.

Toto Riyanto, Indonesia’s incoming ambassador-designate to Brazil, was informed that his credentials would not be accepted after he had arrived at the president’s palace, expecting to become an ambassador.

Toto has since been recalled to Indonesia and will meet with President Joko Widodo when he returns.

The incident is just the latest diplomatic spate that has been caused by Joko’s decision to press on with the execution of inmates — a practice that was only resumed in 2013 after a four-year de-facto moratorium.

The Australian government has been vocal in its opposition to the death penalty and has requested clemency for two members of the “Bali Nine” drug trafficking ring, who are among the next group of inmates scheduled to be shot.

Brazil and the Netherlands withdrew their ambassadors from Indonesia “for consultations” last month after two of their citizens were among six people executed for drugs offenses.

Retno said Joko was noticeably upset with Brazil’s latest action.

“This is about the country’s dignity and sovereignty because an ambassador’s presence represents the Indonesian president,” Retno said.

The foreign affairs minister said the Indonesian government was confused by Brazil’s actions, especially as the two countries had until recently enjoyed good bilateral relations.

Dina Wisnu, an international relations expert from Paramadina University, said as a president, Joko has an obligation to explain to Brazil why the execution was deemed necessary. Brazil abolished capital punishment in the 19th century, the academic said.

“Brazil will be willing to have their citizens found punished if they were guilty, but not executed,” Dina said, adding the government should not be reactive to Brazil’s protest.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

Related Articles:

Critics tear their hair over Malaysia PM's wife

Yahoo – AFP, 24 Ferbuary 2015

Malaysia's first lady, Rosmah Mansor, pictured during an 
interview with AFP, in Putrajaya, in 2009 (Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP)

The wife of Malaysia's prime minister, who is widely mocked over reports of her taste for luxury, drew fresh scorn on Tuesday after she complained about the rising cost of house calls from hairdressers and tailors.

Rosmah Mansor, 63, is a controversial figure in Malaysia, where she is routinely portrayed by critics as out of touch with ordinary citizens struggling to make ends meet.

The wife of Prime Minister Najib Razak handed her critics new fuel with comments on Monday lamenting the 1,200 ringgit ($330) she has to spend on house calls by stylists to dye her substantial head of hair, and 500 ringgit for tailored dresses.

"We have to make beautiful clothes to attend functions, but the prices are way too high. For those who can afford, it's all right. But what about housewives like us, with no income?" she was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Insider news portal.

Malaysia's minimum wage is 900 ringgit per month, though critics say it is seldom enforced.

Rosmah made the comments at a public event to discuss the introduction of a new consumer tax in April.

"Is this woman for real? Some families have to live on what she pays to have her hair dyed," said one Facebook user, among a flood of social media postings poking fun at her on Tuesday.

Said a post on Twitter: "I hope to become a poor housewife of a civil servant just like you Rosmah."

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C-L) arrives with his wife Rosmah 
Mansor for an official dinner in Nusa Dua, on Indonesia's island of Bali, in 
October 2013 (Photo: Dita Alangkara/AFP)

Since her husband took office in 2009, Rosmah has faced periodic criticism over reports of luxury overseas shopping sprees.

The New York Times ran a report earlier this month detailing purchases of high-end US real estate by people close to Najib, and said it also had obtained documents showing millions of dollars in jewellery purchases for Rosmah.

In a statement to AFP after the New York Times report, the prime minister's office said "We prefer not to comment on unsourced speculation concerning the private finances and spending of the prime minister and his family."

Malaysian police on February 14 seized a shipment of books lampooning Najib and Rosmah by one of the country's best-known political cartoonists.

Last year an opposition lawmaker was charged with sedition for producing a satirical video that included a character widely viewed as representing Rosmah.

Related Article:

Jakarta Court Dismisses Death Row Challenge From Bali Nine Duo

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Feb 24, 2015

In this file combined photograph taken on Feb. 14, 2006 Australian drug smugglers
 Andrew Chan, left, and Myuran Sukumaran, right, the ringleaders of the ‘Bali Nine’
drug ring, are seen at a court holding cell during their trial in Denpasar, Bali. (AFP
Photo/Jewel Samad)

Jakarta. A Jakarta court on Tuesday dismissed a bid by two Australian drug traffickers on death row to avoid execution by challenging the president’s rejection of their pleas for clemency.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug smuggling gang, were arrested for trying to traffic heroin out of Indonesia in 2005 and sentenced to death the following year.

Their appeals for presidential clemency, typically a death row convict’s final chance of avoiding the firing squad, were rejected by new President Joko Widodo in recent months.

On Tuesday, the State Administrative Court, or PTUN, in Jakarta dismissed the men’s application to challenge Joko’s refusal to grant them clemency, a rare move that was seen as having little chance of success.

Rejecting Sukumaran’s application, presiding Judge Hendro Puspito said: “Clemency is the prerogative of the president … the state administrative court has no right to rule on the challenge.”

He also rejected Chan’s application. The judge said that the pair had 14 days to lodge an appeal, and their lawyers said they would.

The pair’s legal team had earlier applied for a second judicial review of their cases, but judges also rejected that application.

Authorities originally said the pair would be put to death in February but last week announced that their executions would be delayed by up to a month. They blamed “technical reasons,” insisting that sustained diplomatic pressure from Canberra had nothing to do with the decision.

The men’s lawyers have launched a series of last-ditch legal moves in a bid to save the pair, in their early 30s, from the firing squad, despite the government’s insistence nothing more can be done for them.

Their legal team have argued that they have been rehabilitated in prison and Joko had failed to consider the cases properly.

It is not clear when the pair will be put to death, although the head of the prosecutor’s office on Bali, where the pair are in prison, previously said it is “very likely” that they will be transferred this week to an island off Java where the executions will take place.

Authorities have to inform the men 72 hours before they are executed.

The looming executions have dramatically heightened tensions between Australia and Indonesia, fraying ties that were only just recovering from a spying row.

Chan and Sukumaran are among seven foreigners — including citizens from France, Ghana, Brazil and Nigeria — who have lost their appeals for presidential clemency, the final hope of avoiding the firing squad.

Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Police to Drop Rape Case Against Solo King

A Royal Mess: King Pakubuwono XIII faces allegations of rape and child trafficking, but a lack of ‘solid evidence’ may ultimately clear him of any wrongdoing

Jakarta Globe, Ari Susanto, Feb 23, 2015

King of Solo Pakubuwono XIII is shown here in this file photo.
(Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Solo. Police have announced that an investigation into allegations of child trafficking and sexual abuse against the King of Solo, Pakubuwono XIII, will be discontinued due to lack of evidence.

Sukoharjo Police in Central Java revealed they did not have grounds to interrogate Pakubowono XIII, who has been accused of raping a 16-year-old girl and fathering her child.

Police have questioned several witnesses in the case, but none gave sufficient testimony about the king’s involvement in the alleged rape other than the victim.

Without additional testimony, the allegations are too weak to prove, Sukoharjo Police chief, Adj. Sr. Cmr. Andy Rifai said.

“We need at least one additional witness who can confirm the victim’s accusations before we can bring the king in for questioning,” he added.

Police have also searched for evidence in the hotel room where the rape allegedly took place.

However, investigators were unable to retrieve the necessary CCTV footage as the hotel’s security device automatically overwrites previously recorded videos every two months.

The victim claims she was raped in March last year but did not report the incident to the police until July.

Investigators are still searching for a former hotel employee who may be a key witness of the alleged assault.

The 10th grade vocational high school  student claims a woman with the initials W.T. offered to give her a job working for the king but instead “sold” her for Rp 2 million ($155).

W.T. is currently being held in a Solo, Central Java, prison, but her testimony did not correspond to that of the victim’s.

The student also claims she lost consciousness in car after eating candy given to her by the king. She then woke up naked in a hotel room with Pakubowono XIII, who proceeded to give her money.

The girl fell pregnant and gave birth to a son in Solo Central Hospital in November.  The king, through his lawyer, has refused to provide a DNA sample to conduct a paternity test.

Sukoharjo Police are reluctant to name a suspect due to the severe lack of evidence, Andy said. As the girl was allegedly raped while unconscious, her testimony requires further corroboration, he added.

The victim’s lawyer has called on the king to undergo a DNA test, but police have yet to follow up on the demands.

Investigators have earlier said they would approach Pakubowono XIII with a request for a DNA sample should he refuse to come in for questioning.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Easter Island’s Carnival Magic Seduces Tourists

Jakarta Globe, Mike Leyral, Feb 22, 2015

People take part in dance contest in Hanga Roa on Chile's Easter Island (or Rapa
 Nui as its inhabitants call it) in the Pacific Ocean on Feb. 10, 2015 as part of the 47th
 edition of Tapati, an all-out 15-day contest between rival teams to crown a new monarch.
(AFP Photo/Gregory Boissy)

Far from home on Chile’s Easter Island for Carnival festivities, one middle-aged American woman throws caution to the wind. Stripped down to a thong, she lets a local reveler paint her chest.

“If someone had told me I would end up walking down the street almost naked, I would never have believed it,” the woman, who only gave her first name Susan, said.

Susan is one of a few thousand tourists who joined the Pacific island’s 9,000 residents for Tapati, an exuberant mix of music, dance and traditional sports that takes place for two weeks every February.

In the island’s only town Hanga Roa, revelers wait in a long line under the blistering tropical summer sun to take part in a time-honored ritual — a plunge in an old tub filled with clay.

A man known as Ale then spreads with his hand this reddish-brown natural paint on the bodies of other locals — and any tourist ready to participate.

Then, other lines form in front of tubs filled with white and yellow paint.

It’s time for the Rapa Nui — the Polynesian word for both the island and its residents — to paint symbols, inspired by the local Birdman legend, or characters from the long-lost Rongorongo system of writing.

Shortly after 5:00 p.m., a warrior blows into an enormous shell, signaling the start of the nightly parade, which features colorful floats and dancers in elaborate costumes, not unlike the massive Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro.

The Tapati festival is at once a test of masculine strength and feminine grace celebrating Polynesian pride.

Easter Island is at the southernmost point of the so-called Polynesian Triangle — a Pacific region with Hawaii and New Zealand at the other corners.

The Unesco World Heritage Site is famous for its nearly 900 massive stone monuments — the Moai, carved by the Rapa Nui hundreds of years ago.

Rival teams are locked in an all-out contest to crown a new Tapati queen, who reigns for a year.

Numerous races and other contests take place — including reed board surfing, underwater fishing, fruit-carrying, a triathlon and horse races — but the nightly parades and dance competitions are the highlight.

Locals spend months carving out large wooden statues for the parade floats from Eucalyptus trees representing deified ancestors, such as the mystical Moai stone giants or the Birdman.

One night, a man draped in animal skins leads the way on his motorcycle, featuring a bull’s skull on the steering wheel.

Behind him, a woman dressed as a mermaid — her costume made of all-natural materials including a tail taken from a tuna caught just that morning — poses on a float decorated with huge wooden octopuses.

People originally from the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia play large pahu drums, while the Rapa Nui prefer horse jaws that make a light sound close to maracas when the teeth hit one another.

Some of the Tapati activities reflect a more Latin vibe taken from Chile — the elderly do battle to be the accordion king, as young people display their tango skills.

But the Polynesian dance competitions are fierce.

At the Hanga Vare Vare, the main festival stage in Hanga Roa, dancers sway sensually to the Polynesian drum rhythms.

Indonesia recalls new envoy to Brazil amid death penalty row

Indonesia has recalled its envoy to Brazil after the South American nation delayed finalizing his appointment. The countries are locked in a dispute over the planned execution of a Brazilian citizen for drug trafficking.

Deutsche Welle, 21 Feb 2015

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday it "strongly protested the unfriendly action" by Brazil's government and had recalled newly assigned ambassador, Toto Riyanto, who was selected for the post in October.

Riyanto was to present his credentials for approval during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Brasilia on Friday, but Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (pictured above) decided to hold off on the step at the last minute.

"The manner in which the foreign minister of Brazil suddenly informed (us of) the postponement ... when the ambassador designate was already at the palace, is unacceptable to Indonesia," the Indonesian Foreign Ministry statement said.

Relations between the two countries have been tense since the execution of Brazilian national Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira last month. The 53-year-old was charged with drug smuggling in Indonesia was put before a firing squad, despite a personal appeal from Rousseff for clemency.

Brazil is now trying to prevent the execution of Brazilian citizen Rodrigo Gularte, 42, who is on death row for drug trafficking, along with a number of other foreigners from France, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines and Australia.

Jakarta has twice rejected appeals for mercy from Brazilian authorities, who have argued that Gularte is a paranoid schizophrenic and in need of psychiatric care. While no date has been given for the executions, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has indicated they could take place within the next few weeks.

Diplomatic tensions

Rodrigo Gularte has been on death
row since 2004 for smuggling cocaine
At the ceremony in Brasilia on Friday, Rousseff said the approval of the Indonesian representative would be "held up a little."

"We think it is important that there is an evolution in the situation in order to clarify the state of Indonesia's relations with Brazil," she said.

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told news agency AFP the case showed "immaturity for a head of state."

"As a sovereign and democratic country which has a legal system that is independent and impartial, no foreign country or any party can interfere with law enforcement in Indonesia, including in its law enforcement in combating drugs trafficking," an Indonesian foreign ministry statement added.

Indonesia has some of the strictest drug trafficking laws in the world, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo has repeatedly pledged to give no clemency to drug offenders.

Australia has also clashed with the southeast Asian nation over the planned execution of two Australian members of the "Bali Nine" drug smuggling ring. Jakarta had vowed to put the pair to death before the end of February, but agreed to a one month delay under heavy pressure from the Australian government.

nm/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)
Related Article:

Aceh residents use #KoinUntukAustralia campaign to offer to repay Australian aid

Province reacts in outrage to Australian PM Tony Abbott linking the gift of $1bn in aid after 2005 tsunami to a clemency bid for Australians on death row

The Guardian, Kate Lamb, in Jakarta, 21 February 2015

Banda Aceh, January 18, 2005. Acehnese have protested at the Australian prime
 minister’s attempt to link his country’s donations to the tsunami-hit province with
a clemency appeal for two Australians on death row. Photograph: Max Blenkin/AAP

Enraged citizens from the tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh, Indonesia, have started a movement to collect coins to “pay back Australia” in a backlash against provocative statements by the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott.

Venting their anger on Twitter under the hashtag #KoinUntukAustralia, or Coins for Australia, Acehnese have taken to the social network in droves to lambast the Australian leader.

Posting a photo of a 1,000 rupiah coin (worth less than 10 cents in Australia) stuck to a piece of paper with six zeros cheekily added next to it, one Twitter user Nikita Paradisa asked: “Is it enough? Ur bank account please, Mr Tony Abbott.”

As diplomatic efforts have ramped up to save Australians Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, from imminently facing an Indonesian firing squad, Abbott controversially suggested that Indonesia should “reciprocate” for the $1bn pledged in tsunami aid by sparing the lives of the two Australians.

A notoriously proud people, the Acehnese say the Australian prime minister should be ashamed of his comments and they will gladly return the money.

“We never asked for their aid, they offered it to us as courtesy,” Dina Handayani, 27, a Banda Aceh resident and civil servant told the Guardian.

Conceived initially between friends during a heated discussion at an Aceh coffee shop, postgraduate student Burhanuddin Alkhairy, 26, told the Guardian his friends started the Twitter hashtag as a way to get their message across to the Australia PM.

“We regret the link the Australian prime minister made between tsunami aid and the execution of the drug dealers, they are two very different things,” Alkhairy said. “This is our moral protest to his statement.”

The Acehnese, he said, were angry that Abbott would suggest that aid pledged after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami – a disaster that killed more than 170,000 people in their province alone – would be offered conditionally and retroactively.

Alkhairy says his group never intended to take to streets and actually collect coins but the movement has inspired others to do just that.

One Muslim Student Action Union group on Friday set up a post in a main street in the capital to collect donations.

“We are ready to return the funds, and we ask that the death penalty continues to save the young generation of Aceh and Indonesia,” said Aziz Darliz, a member of the student group.

Pictures on Twitter showed that collections continued in Banda Aceh on Saturday with volunteers holding boxes with pictures of the Australian flag stuck on the side asking motorists for donations.

“This movement needs to be serious,” said annoyed civil servant Handayani, “It should not just be happening on social media but in real life. We should collect the coins and send them to Abbott.”

Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has attempted to smooth over any fallout from Abbott’s comments, but in Jakarta the remarks have not been well received either. “Threats are not part of diplomatic language,” was the spiky reply from the foreign ministry earlier this week.

“We do not respond to statements that are emotional, by nature threatening. No,” the Indonesian foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, told reporters at the presidential palace on Friday.

Indonesia has been forced to justify its use of the death penalty, arguing that capital punishment is in line with international law and is necessary to counter the country’s purported “drug emergency”.

Sentenced to death for their role in the Bali Nine heroin trafficking ring, Chan and Sukumaran are next in line to be shot dead by an Indonesian firing squad. The executions were postponed last week, but officials have stressed the delay is only temporary.

Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, said on Friday the executions were delayed for technical reasons only, while the attorney general has emphasised that “nothing whatsoever” will prevent them from going ahead.

Related Article:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Syncretist Celebrations of Imlek, Lent and Tolerance

Red-Letter Day: Catholics and Confucians join in shared celebrations across Indonesia

In Malang, East Java, a model in Chinese costume celebrates Lunar New Year,
which starts the Year of the Goat. (AFP Photo/Aman Rochman)

Jakarta. With the Chinese New Year coinciding with the second day of Lent, Chinese Catholics and Confucians in several cities across Indonesia staged joint ceremonies on Thursday in a show of religious tolerance.

Joint prayer ceremonies were observed at the Hallowed Cross Catholic Church in Cilincing, North Jakarta, where parishioners say the church has staged Chinese New Year celebrations for the past 10 years.

“This year’s celebration is much simpler because it coincides with our pre-Easter rituals,” said Widiyoko, the church’s Chinese New Year chief organizer.

Celebrations at the church, where 25 percent of its 6,000 members are ethnic Chinese, began at 8 a.m. with a mass and ended with a lion dance performance.

The church also gave alms to hundreds of impoverished locals, mainly Muslims.

“Events like this add to the spirit of togetherness. It makes us appreciate one another and not differentiate people based on their ethnicity or religion,” churchgoer Florentina Ninie said.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin wished Indonesians a prosperous Chinese New Year on Thursday, urging that celebrations be allowed to take place with tolerance.

“I think our society has already been shown to be tolerant, even though there are many religious communities who do not accustom themselves to Imlek,” said Lukman, referring to the Lunar New Year by its Indonesian name.

A similar joint celebration was also observed at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Cibinong, Bogor, according to Bogor’s bishop, Paskalis Bruno Syukur, who presided over the mass.

The Jakarta Police deployed more than 3,000 officers to boost security in the city ahead of the festivities.

The festivities at the start of the Lunar New Year are most commonly associated with ethnic Chinese, but are also celebrated by other communities, including those who identify as Korean (who call it Seollal) and Vietnamese (who speak of Tet).

During the 32-year rule of the late strongman Suharto, the festivities for the start of the Lunar New Year, as well as other expressions of Chinese cultural identity, were banned.

In 2001, then-president Abdurrahman Wahid, popularly known as Gus Dur, revoked the discriminatory regulations and in 2002, then-president Megawati Soekarnoputri declared Chinese New Year a national holiday; it was celebrated as such for the first time in 2003.

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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. ...."