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. …

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The first museum dedicated to Palestinian art in the US opens its doors in Connecticut

Friday, April 27, 2018

Heavy security as Philippines closes Boracay to tourists

Yahoo – AFP, Ayee Macaraig, April 26, 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shutdown this month after calling the resort
 a "cesspool", dirtied by tourism-related businesses flushing their raw sewage
directly into the ocean (AFP Photo/NOEL CELIS)

Boracay (Philippines) (AFP) - The Philippines shuttered its most famous holiday island Boracay to tourists on Thursday for a six-month clean-up, which the government has imposed with a muscular show of its security forces.

Coast guard boats were on patrol and assault rifle-wielding police were posted at entry points to the once-pristine island that has become tainted by heavy commercialisation and overdevelopment.

Regional police head Cesar Binag told AFP the shutdown began past midnight, with tourists barred from boarding the ferry that is the main way onto the island.

"Boracay is officially closed to tourists. We are not closing establishments but tourists cannot enter. We are implementing the instruction of the president," Binag said.

About 600 policemen were deployed, with some performing life-like drills including riot officers battling bottle-hurling protesters and mock hostage taking of sunbathers -- all before startled locals.

"My nephews and nieces were afraid," Filipino tourist Tara Calcetas told AFP. "It was scary because there were people swimming yesterday (at the beach) and the police were firing guns as if there was a criminal here."

Map and factfile on the Philippines' best known holiday island 
Boracay. (AFP Photo/Laurence CHU)

The government conceded on Thursday there was no real threat, with interior ministry assistant secretary Epimaco Densing telling AFP the security presence was "just part of preparing for the worst".

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shutdown this month after calling the resort a "cesspool", dirtied by tourism-related businesses flushing their raw sewage directly into the ocean.

During the closure, only residents with ID cards are allowed to board ferries to Boracay, which is home to around 40,000 people.

People on the so-called "party island" held a final bash on the beachfront on the eve of the closure, complete with a fireworks display and cheers of "Bye, Bye Boracay".

But on Thursday, residents had the swaying palms, turquoise waters and usually mobbed white-sand beaches mostly to themselves.

"This is what you call an island, a paradise. Boracay looks like its original beautiful self," said restaurant cook John Reymar.

The Philippines has pledged to take advantage of the calm to spruce up the 1,000-hectare (2,470-acre) chunk of bruised paradise.

There are plans to bulldoze illegal or dilapidated structures, to shore up the island's infrastructure and clean up the mess left by years of unchecked growth.

Volunteers help to clean up Boracay's Bulabog beach (AFP Photo/NOEL CELIS)

However, plans to help the up to 30,000 people who had been employed by the island's bustling tourist trade were less clear. Though Duterte has promised some $38 million in funds to help workers, they say they haven't seen a cent yet.

The workers were drawn by the relatively good wages on the island that has seen the number of visitors roughly quadruple to two million since 2006.

Those tourists, a growing number of whom are Chinese and Korean, pumped roughly $1 billion in revenue into the Philippine economy last year.

But its growth from a sleepy backpacker hideaway into a mass-tourism hub with fast food outlets on the beach has taken a toll.

Unchecked construction has eaten away at the island's natural beauty, while slimy algae-filled waves in some areas and mountains of discarded drink bottles are problems acknowledged even by critics of the shutdown.

"I'm all for rehabilitation and preserving it but clearly this is not the way to do it," Philippine politics expert Ashley Acedillo told AFP.

He called the closure an "ill-thought through, unplanned and knee-jerk action" that did not take into account the economic impact on the island's workers and business community.

Reymar, the restaurant cook, agreed: "But maybe without tourists, what is the use of having a beautiful island?"

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Dance music superstar Avicii dead at 28

Yahoo – AFP, Shaun TANDON, April 21, 2018

Avicii, seen here performing in the southern Swedish city of Malmo in 2016, was
among the first DJs to break through in the mainstream as electronic dance music
grew over the past decade from nightclubs to Top 40 radio (AFP Photo/Bjorn Lindgren)

New York (AFP) - Avicii, one of the world's most successful DJs who helped usher in the global boom in electronic music but struggled to cope with the hard-partying lifestyle, died Friday in Oman, his representative said. He was 28.

Two years after his unusually early retirement from touring amid recurring health scares, the Swedish DJ was found dead in the Gulf sultanate's capital Muscat.

"It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii," his management said in a statement, without specifying the cause of death.

"The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time. No further statements will be given."

Maitrai Joshi, a DJ at the Muscat Hills Resort, said he had spotted Avicii and understood the dance superstar was on vacation in Oman for the first time and had extended his stay.

"I saw him again the next day and again he was friendly, humble and took some photos," Joshi told AFP by email.

Avicii was among the first DJs to break through in the mainstream as electronic dance music grew over the past decade from nightclubs to Top 40 radio. He created a global hit out of Coldplay's "A Sky Full of Stars," to which he added a layer of energetic electronica.

He also helped produce Madonna's last album. On Instagram, the pop icon posted a picture of herself in the DJ booth with Avicii and wrote: "So Tragic. Goodbye Dear Sweet Tim. Gone Too Soon."

His biggest individual hits included "Wake Me Up," which went to number one across Europe in 2013 and featured the soul singer Aloe Blacc.

Avicii was one of the world's most successful 
DJs (AFP Photo/Jason Merritt)

In 2015, he DJ-ed the wedding reception of Sweden's Prince Carl Philip and his bride Sofia. The couple mourned him in a statement, saying: "We had the honor to have known him and admired him both as an artist and the beautiful person that he was."

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called Avicii "one of the greatest names of music in Sweden in modern times."

Scene 'not for me'

Avicii has spoken publicly in recent years about his health problems, including pancreatitis, triggered in part by excessive drinking.

The condition forced him to cancel shows in 2014 as he had to have his gallbladder and appendix removed.

In 2016, Avicii stunned fans by retiring from touring when he was just 26.

"The scene was not for me," he told music magazine Billboard after his decision.

"It was not the shows and not the music. It was always the other stuff surrounding it that never came naturally to me. All the other parts of being an artist," he added.

"I'm more of an introverted person in general. It was always very hard for me. I took on board too much negative energy, I think."

Avicii later returned to the more quiet life of a studio artist. Last year, he put out a six-song EP that featured British pop singer Rita Ora.

'Genius and musical innovator'

The son of Anki Liden, a prominent Swedish actress, Avicii had his start uploading tracks on the internet and was discovered by Dutch superstar Tiesto, who invited him to play at his residency in the clubbing hub of Ibiza.

Avicii, seen here at the Sziget festival in Budapest in 2015, took his stage name 
from the Sanskrit word for the lowest level of hell in Buddhism, adding an 
additional "i" at the end (AFP Photo/Attila KISBENEDEK)

His breakthrough single, "Levels," adapted a sample of soul singer Etta James and earned him one of his two Grammy nominations.

He took his stage name from the Sanskrit word for the lowest level of hell in Buddhism, adding an additional "i" at the end.

In 2014, he was tied with Tiesto as the third top-grossing DJ in the world on the list of Forbes magazine, which estimated his earnings for the year at $28 million.

Pop star Charlie Puth paid tribute to Avicii as "a genius and a music innovator" and said he "really opened my eyes to what my production could one day sound like."

Deadmau5 -- an outspoken top DJ who had mocked Avicii when he quit touring so young -- offered his "sincerest and most heartfelt condolences."

"Banter aside, nobody can deny what he has accomplished and done for modern dance music and I'm very proud of him," Deadmau5 tweeted.

Fellow star DJ David Guetta, who collaborated with Avicii on "Sunshine," wrote: "We lost a friend with such a beautiful heart and the world lost an incredibly talented musician

Electronic producer Diplo on Instagram called Avicii "the gold standard" in setting musical trends.

"I know you had your demons and maybe this wasn't the right place for you sometimes, but we need to protect true artists like you at all costs because there are not enough left and we are losing too many," Diplo said.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Street side: Indonesia slum kids eye youth 'World Cup'

Yahoo – AFP, Bagus SARAGIH, April 16, 2018

Nine of the players from Indonesia's street children football team "Garuda Baru"
will head to Moscow to play against teams of disadvantaged children from
two dozen nations (AFP Photo/Elisabetta ZAVOLI)

Jakarta (Indonesia) (AFP) - Somad rarely ventures beyond his impoverished Jakarta neighbourhood, but the 14-year-old is now gearing for a trip to Russia next month as a player in the 2018 Street Child World Cup.

It's the journey of a lifetime for the aspiring striker and eight other Indonesian kids set to compete against teams of other disadvantaged children from two dozen nations.

The event's third edition in Moscow is a long way from Bekasi on the outskirts of Indonesia's teeming capital where Somad's father sorts through foul trash heaps to find and sell usable goods.

Along with his food-seller mother, the teen lives in a 45-metre (485 square foot) makeshift home shared with four other families.

"Not many kids can be as lucky as I am," says Somad, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

"I want to make my parents and friends proud so we can have better lives and have no need to be scavengers anymore."

Somad lives with his family in a crowded neighborhood of scavenger families in
Bekasi on the outskirts of Indonesia's capital Jakarta (AFP Photo/Elisabetta ZAVOLI)

The slum is mostly populated by trash pickers who live in its hundreds of shacks. A potent smell of garbage is everywhere in the district where stray animals wander along its muddy roads.

More than 200 children are participating in the seven-a-side tournament, which kicks off ahead of this year's Russia-hosted World Cup.

Off the pitch, the kids will take part in art lessons, workshops and there is a conference focused on disadvantaged youth.

"I want to help Indonesia win the competition. But if we do win, I don't want to show off," says striker Bayu, picked for the Indonesian contingent from among more than 90 children.

"I want to share the experience with my friends when I'm back."

In 2014, the boy's team from Tanzania won the tournament while the girl's trophy was claimed by hosts Brazil.

The inaugural 2010 event, started by British charity Street Child United, was played in South Africa.

More than 200 children are participating in the seven-a-side tournament, which
kicks off ahead of this year's Russia-hosted World Cup (AFP Photo/Elisabetta ZAVOLI)

Indonesian team coach Wahyu Kurniawan said children from poor neighbourhoods have a vitality that is key to breaking into professional football.

"Kids from the street are more active and tend to have more power and spirit," he told AFP.

"My job is to convert those qualities into good football skill and sportsmanship on the field."

But the tournament is about more than just sports -- it's to give a voice to marginalised children.

"Achievement in the tournament is not our main priority, it's a bonus," said Jessica Hutting from Kampus Diakoneia Modern (KDM), a children's rights NGO that selected the Indonesian players.

"We use football as a tool to bring street-connected children together in a safe space where their voices can be heard."

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Aboriginal abuse victim throttles himself in Games protest

Yahoo – AFP, Apr 13, 2018

Aboriginal protesters have led repeated protests against this year's Commonwealth
Games in Australia (AFP Photo/Ye Aung THU)

Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) - An Aboriginal man whose abuse in custody shocked Australia tried to throttle himself in the back of a police van following angry protests at the Commonwealth Games on Friday.

Police said Dylan Voller, whose mistreatment in juvenile detention triggered a national inquiry, tied part of his T-shirt around his neck and was gasping for air before he was cut free.

Voller, 21, was one of five activists who were arrested during Friday's confrontation with a heavy police presence, the latest in a series of protests during the Games.

"(Police) found that the individual had actually torn part of his T-shirt and tied it around his neck and tied a knot and appeared to be grasping for air and choking as a result of that," police assistant commissioner Brian Codd said.

Police stopped the van and used a penknife to cut through the material, Codd said. Voller received medical attention under police custody but is not in a serious condition.

"My fear is that if they hadn't of done that we could have had a very, very serious outcome," Codd said.

Voller and four others were arrested after dozens of indigenous activists attempted to disrupt a live TV broadcast on a beach at Gold Coast, the Games' host city.

They chanted "No Games, no justice!" as they were blocked by a heavy police presence who stopped them marching to the scene of the TV broadcast.

Protesters who have dubbed the event the "Stolenwealth Games" have staged a number of demonstrations including at the opening ceremony, where three people were arrested in clashes with police.

The treatment of Voller became the focus of public outrage after footage was broadcast of prison guards assaulting mostly indigenous boys in the Northern Territory, including stripping them naked and using tear gas.

Images released in 2015 showed Voller, then 17, hooded and shackled to a mechanical restraint chair and left alone for two hours.

It prompted a Royal Commission into treatment of children in detention, which last year made multiple recommendations, including the immediate closure of the Don Dale detention centre in which Voller was held.

Aboriginal culture stretches back tens of thousands of years but indigenous people are now the most disadvantaged in Australia, with higher rates of poverty, ill-health and imprisonment than any other community.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Trouble in Paradise: Tourism surge lashes Southeast Asia's beaches

Yahoo – AFP, Lillian SUWANRUMPHA with Joe FREEMAN in Bangkok and AFP bureaus,  April 11, 2018

Thailand received 35 million tourists last year, of whom nearly 10 million hailed
from China, according to official data (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

Hordes of tourists clamber across the white sand with selfie sticks as Thai park rangers wade into turquoise waters to direct boats charging into the cliff-ringed cove.

Made famous by the 2000 movie "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Maya Bay on the western Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Ley is now a case study in the ruinous costs of runaway tourism, swamped by up to 4,000 daily visitors.

"There is too many people here, it's bad," lamented Saad Lazrak, a 61-year-old from Morocco, as crowds around him swallowed the stretch of sand encircled by an amphitheatre of limestone cliffs.

Across the region, Southeast Asia's once-pristine beaches are reeling from decades of unchecked tourism as governments scramble to confront trash-filled waters and environmental degradation without puncturing a key economic driver.

Thailand's Maya Bay will be off limits for four months from June to September, officials announced last month, in a bid to save its ravaged coral reefs.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered this month the Boracay beach resort closed to tourists for up to six months from April 26, describing the destination as a "cesspool" tainted by sewage dumped directly into the sea.

Indonesian officials, meanwhile, declared a "garbage emergency" last year swamping a six-kilometre stretch of coast along the island of Bali.

The island's grim coastal pollution was highlighted in March by British diver Rich Horner's viral video of swimming through a sea of trash swirling off shore.

"Plastic bags, more plastic bags, plastic, plastic, so much plastic!" Horner said in a Facebook post that has been viewed more than a million times.

Thailand's Maya Bay will be off limits for four months from June to September 
in a bid to save its ravaged coral reefs (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

Breathing space

Conservationists and governments are worried about the health of coral reefs, which are in a dire state globally due to climate change and rising sea temperatures.

When exposed to warmer waters, they shed the algae that dazzle the eye and are vital to marine eco-systems, leaving the corals diseased or bone-white in a process called bleaching.

Environmental stress, including pollution, human contact and exposure to plastics that comes with mass tourism are also major threats to reefs that are part of the draw for snorkellers and scuba-divers.

"Tourism has a series of detrimental effects on coral health," said Eike Schoenig, a Thailand-based marine biologist at the Center for Oceanic Research and Education.

Countries in Southeast Asia are looking to stem the threats without cutting off the cash flow of a regional tourism boom, led by China, the top source market for travellers to the region.

Thailand received 35 million tourists last year, of whom nearly 10 million hailed from China, according to official data.

But what is good for business can be bad for beaches.

Songtam Suksawang, Thailand's National Park Office Director, told AFP he personally inspected the beach at Maya Bay and said it "must definitely be (temporarily) closed" in order to rehabilitate it.

He said authorities are discussing new rules once the shut-down is lifted, such as restrictions on the number of daily visitors, better regulation of boats and a higher entrance fee.

Made famous by the 2000 movie 'The Beach' starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Maya Bay
 on the western Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Ley is now a case study in the ruinous 
costs of runaway tourism (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

Tourism costs

Thailand is also conducting studies on six other marine parks, while the Philippines is weighing action on other top destinations buckling under mass tourism.

But governments are wary of curtailing an industry that creates jobs and buoys economies.

Spending on travel and tourism contributed nearly $136 billion to the region's GDP in 2017, a figure forecast to rise to $144 billion this year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

The cost of the closures is already being felt in the Philippines, where hundreds of Boracay hotels and tour companies are facing steep losses from cancelled rooms, flights and other bookings.

But some countries are not taking such dramatic steps.

In Indonesia, the tourism ministry said there were no plans to close Bali or any other holiday destination in the archipelago, although it acknowledged that pockets of the tropical paradise were under strain from heavy tourism.

"Shut down Bali? I don't think we will need to do that yet," said ministry spokesman Guntur Sakti. "Bali is the centre of Indonesian tourism."

In fact, Indonesia has identified 10 other destinations where it is trying to boost visitors and replicate Bali's success, including neighbouring island Lombok and Lake Toba in Sumatra.

Experts are also sceptical that short shut-downs will have lasting effects.

Fire dancers perform for tourists on the southern Thai island of Koh Phi Phi, which
is swamped by up to 4,000 daily visitors (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

"Bottom line is that temporarily closing the beach is probably not the optimal solution to these problems. It only take a day for a bunch of incompetent snorkellers to trash a small reef," said Andrew Baird from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia.

In Thailand, the government hopes to draw people to lesser known beaches.

"We are working very hard to spread people out, not to go to one condensed area," said Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine expert working with the parks and tourism authorities.

Travellers to Maya Bay might like the idea.

"It's very touristy. There wasn't a patch of sand that didn't have people laying down on it, taking photos," Oliver Black, a 22-year-old tourist, said of his afternoon at the destination.

As for his thoughts on the looming closure?

"It would not really upset me if I wasn't able to go to (back to) Maya beach," he told AFP.

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