Hundreds airlifted from Peru site when skies clear

Skies cleared over the fabled Machu Picchu citadel Thursday, speeding the evacuation of thousands of stranded tourists, many of whom were left to eat from communal pots and sleep outdoors after flooding and mudslides cut access to the area.

Helicopters had taken 700 people by mid-afternoon from the remote village, the closest to the ancient Inca ruins 8,000 feet up in the Andes mountains.

About 2,000 travelers were trapped in the town for days, strapping resources and testing travelers' patience.

"It's been an adventure, a bit more than we bargained for," Karel Schultz, 46, of Niagara Falls, N.Y., told the Associated Press as she waited to be airlifted out.

Authorities say if the weather holds, they may be able to have all tourists out by Saturday. The Machu Picchu site is closed and will remain so for weeks until the government can repair highway and railroad tracks washed out by mudslides and the raging Urubamba River.

Dozens of ragged-looking, middle-aged tourists lined up outside the train station, where they waited to make the walk of a few hundred yards to a makeshift helicopter clearing. Younger backpackers played soccer with locals and lent a hand stacking sandbags and clearing train tracks to pass the time.

The evacuation was being carried out by age, oldest first. The elderly and children were among the 1,131 tourists evacuated through Wednesday.

Tourists grew frustrated in recent days over chaotic relief efforts, price-gouging and scarce food, but the mood lightened Thursday as the weather cleared, helicopters descended from the skies and soldiers brought order to the evacuation.

When Sunday mudslides destroyed the railway, the only form of transit into Machu Picchu Pueblo, many hotels and restaurants hiked prices exorbitantly - separating wealthier tourists who could afford to pay extra from those who spent days sleeping in train cars and waiting for delayed food shipments.

Dina Sofamontanez, who runs Hostal El Inka, said she dropped prices when tourists ran out of money, while some hotels on the main avenue raised theirs fivefold up to $50 a night.

"The people here are abusive. It's all about money," she said.

Many backpackers who ran out of money when ATMs ran dry slept in the central plaza.

"We had to eat what the locals gave us, out of communal pots. There are young people who are having a real rough time because they don't have money. The last few days I've shared beds with other people," Argentine tourist Sandra Marcheiani, 34, told The Associated Press.

Sme 400 Americans were said to be among those stranded. Schultz said most Americans paid for beds and bought their own food, while those that slept in the streets were typically Argentines and other South American backpackers.

"Young backpackers from our (South American) countries have taken it all in strie ... we've had a melting pot out here where we share everything, and that's what we will take away from it," said Marcheiani.

Stranded tourists quickly outstripped resources in the village of 4,000 people.Wedged between a sheer, verdant mountainside and the raging Urubamba River, difficult terrain and ba weather have slowed rescue efforts.

Rain prevented helicopters from landing in the town until after midday both Tuesday and Wednesday, but clear skies allowed operations to begin at 8 a.m. local time on Thursday.

"They are going like clockwork now," said Schultz.

U.S. Embassy spokesman James Fenell told the AP that helicopters had ferried out 700 tourists by 2 p.m., including 53 Americans. At least 1,500 tourists were still stranded Wednesday night.

Evacuation efforts have been complicated by the arrival of hundreds more tourists on the Inca trail hiking path, a popular four-day trek that ends i Machu Picchu.

Some 250 more tourists reached the village on Wednesday and more could arrive on Thursday, though the head porter of Llama Path tourist agency, Fredy Condori, told the AP that almost all those who set out on the path on Monday turned back when they heard the citadel was closed.

Authorites closed the Inca trail Tuesday after a mudslide killed two people.

Also stuck were 150 local porters who carry tourists' packs and equipment for as little as $8 a day, said Jose Antonio Gongora, owner of tour agency Llama Path. Authorities were keeping them from returning along a river on foot.

"They are always the last considered and they'll be the last ones to be evacuated if they don't let them walk. There's little food there, nothing. It's rough," Gongora said.

Teenager Buried Alive for 15 Days

French rescuers have pulled a teenage girl out of the rubble of the destroyed College St Gerard in Port-au-Prince, a stunning recovery 15 days after an earthquake devastated the Haitian capital. A cousin says Darlene Etienne had just started studying at the school when the disaster struck.

"We thought she was dead," the cousin said The French rescuers rushed her to a field hospital.

On Tuesday, Haitians pulled a man from the rubble of a downtown store. He later said he had been trapped since one of the quake's early aftershocks.

At least 83 UN staffers died in the earthquake and 32 remain unaccounted for, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says. President Rene Preval says "nearly 170,000" bodies have already been counted, substantially higher than previous toll estimates of 150,000.

"In 15 days many efforts have been made. The National Equipment Company (NEC) has made great efforts in removing nearly 170,000 dead from the streets and clearing the roadways to facilitate traffic," Preval told a press conference on Wednesday.

On Monday, Health Minister Alex Larsen said he expected a final death toll of about 150,000 from the earthquake, the worst disaster ever recorded in the Americas. Pillagers have run rife in the ruins of the capital, while there is no sign of the tent camps promised by the government for the hundreds of thousands of homeless people fleeing grim conditions in Port-au-Prince.

Just four blocks from the destroyed presidential palace as crowds queued under a blazing sun, Immacula Cadet said she was hungry, but was afraid of being hurt in the long lines if fighting erupts over the handouts.

"I don't want to battle in the road to have a little bread," she told AFP. "We really have problems. We need all that (aid). We need food, we have no water."

Up to a million people were left homeless and destitute by the 7.0-magnitude January 12 quake, which destroyed much of the capital city of the impoverished Caribbean nation and left 150,000 dead. A massive aid effort has swung into place, but many Haitians, left living in makeshift camps dotted around Port-au-Prince, say they have yet to receive vital supplies of food or water.

Haitians are "desperately in need of meals ready to eat" and tents ahead of the rainy season, senior UN humanitarian official Catherine Bragg said at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

In the Cite Soleil slum on Tuesday, several thousand desperate people converged on a walled police compound for sacks of relief supplies, surging against the steel gates.

Across the city, walls have been scrawled with messages. "We need help. Food, water, medicine," said one in Spanish and English.

Some 20,000 US troops have been sent in to help distribute food and water, with the US saying it had begun to hand out 14 million meals and was aiming to supply half a million people with fresh water within a few days.

5.0 Magnitude Quake Strikes Maluku

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said a 5.0-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday at 11.14 p.m local time. The quake’s epicenter was located 237 kilometers northwest of Saumlaki, Maluku, 8.46 degrees southern latitude and 129.24 degrees eastern longitude.

The quake which struck at a depth of 10 kilometers has no potential to trigger a tsunami. Its epicenter was also located 406 kilometers northeast of Dili, Timor Leste; 496 kilometers northwest of Darwin, Australia; 499 kilometers southwest of Tual, Maluku; and 2,502 kilometers southeast of Jakarta.

North Korea resumes firing artillery amid tension

North Korea resumed firing artillery Thursday near its disputed western sea border with South Korea, an official said, a day after the country fired dozens of shells and prompted South Koreat o fire back a barrage of warning shots.

North Korea fired several rounds of artillery toward the border early Thursday and the shells are believed to have landed in North Korean waters, an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The official, speaking condition of anonymity citing department policy, said South Korea didn't respond.

The poorly marked sea border is a constant source of tension between the two Koreas, with their navies fighting a bloody skirmish in November that left one North Korean sailor dead and three others wounded. They engaged in similar bloody skirmishes in 1999 and 2002.

On Wednesday, North Korea fired about 30 artillery rounds into the sea from its western coast in the morning and South Korea immediately responded with 100 warning shots from a marine base nearby, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The North fired more later Wednesday, with its military issuing a statement saying the firing was part of an annual drill and that the shelling would continue.

No casualties or damage were reported, as the North's volleys landed in its own waters while the South fired into the air, South Korean military officials said.

The exchange of fire came two days after the North designated two no-sail zones in the area, including some South Korean-held waters, through March 29.

The two Koreas are still technically at war because their 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

South, West Sulawesi police deploy 12,000 personnel to guard rallies

The South and West Sulawesi Police have deployed around 12,000 personnel to guard rallies held Thursday to mark President Susilo BambangYudhoyono's 100th day in office, reported.

The provincial police chief Insp. Gen. Adang Rochyana said that the police personnel, which measure two-third of the total personnel number in the jurisdiction, would blend in with protesters.

Rallies in the province will be held mainly in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi.

Similar massive rallies are held in other big cities in the country, including the capital Jakarta and Surabaya.

Tens of thousand of people are expected to gather in the rallies to be held at a number of areas in Jakarta, with state palaces were being heavily guarded while Yudhoyono is away to launch a power plant project in Banten, 90 kilometers from the capital.

A Need of Clarity on Foreign Ownership on The Eve of FIABCI

The issue of foreign ownership in the Indonesian property must be resolved before the World Congress by the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) in Bali next May 2010. This issue is urgent to solve as the future of Indonesian property lies in it as one of its foundation.

This was stated by the State Public Housing Minister, Soeharso Monoarfa; the Indonesian Real Estate central board chairman, Teguh Satria; and deputy chief of property from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), James T. Riady, Tuesday.

The State Public Housing Minister, Soeharso Monoarfa confirms that the issue of foreign ownership is still under consideration, and of course the sooner it's resolved the better. While Teguh Satria, REI central board chairman, hopes that the regulation that allows foreign citizens to own Indonesian property can be ratified before the FIABCI congress in Bali.

Currently the Indonesian property business is not as competitive as those in other Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and China, and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). "Property rights in Malaysia and Singapore can be valid for 99 years, or even for 999 years," said Teguh Satria. In Malaysia there is a "my second home" program, Thailand has "long stay" program, the Philippines the "retired" program, all of which invite foreigners to own property there. "Only Indonesia is left behind due to unconducive regulations on the property industry."

James Riady: make it 80 years

The deputy chief of property from Kadin, James T. Riady, believes that the government should resolve three issues before the FIABCI World Congress in Bali starts.

"First the Kadin asks that the right of every citizen with a residence or house to be respected. That's so the citizen's main asset can have a high value and can be made into a business capital.

Therefore the Building Rights on Land should be made for 80 years. Currently people always extend it. Imagine if every valuable asset of the people can be pledged to start a business."

Second, said James, who is also the CEO of Lippo Group, foreign ownership should be allowed for 70-80 years. "In Singapore it can be for 99 years, or even 999 years. We'll be giving way for foreign parties to build in Indonesia. This has been done on other Asian countries, including China and the UAE."

The point is, he stated, not to restrict foreign parties, but to give insentives. For example, inspection at airports shouldn't be complicated. "Foreigners bring a tremendous domino effect. They have (need for) house-keepers, drivers, doctors, and other things."

Third, the land title strata for offices and apartments, and land use rights, should be joined into just the land use rights. "If the government can do all three before the FIABCI Congress in May, the Indonesian property industry will roll. So far the property industry has not moved on in Indonesia, while in many countries it already is." James added that this can be realized without waiting for the regulations.

He said that foreign ownership for Indonesian property should be limited to over 100,000 US dollars or around Rp. 1 billion, referring on the prices of premium apartments in Jakarta which are around 10 to 20 million US dollars. This policy will motivate new infrastructure constructions and, most importantly, the property industry would become more lucrative.

James also believes that the government should set aside 5 percent of the gross domestic product for infrastructure constructions. "Currently it's only one percent. Indonesia is definitely behind Singapore and China that both allocate 5 percent of their GDP for constructing infrastructures."

Indonesia-US Interfaith Cooperation
Wake-up Call for All Religions

While religion is a very potent motivator, yet no religious group has truly succeeded, according to Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, one of the US delegates speaking at the Indonesia-US Interfaith Cooperation, especially regarding good governance. Indonesia as a good representative of moderate Islam has the opportunity to bridge differences with the western world.

The Indonesia-US Interfaith Cooperation, a joint event by the Indonesian and US Foreign Ministries from January 25 to 27, 2010, continues Tuesday, at Borobudur Hotel, Jakarta, with plenary and closed workshops.

"No collective engine in human history motivates people to go out there and make a difference like religion," Rabbi Brad Hirschfield commented during the plenary regarding the potential of religion to make the world a better place, however he also admitted that all religious groups are, "still doing a poor job."

He mentioned that while religious groups are doing some good works, but there is also a tendency to turn a blind eye when it comes to helping people who are different or "those who don't pray like us, or eat like us."

Perhaps we can relate his opinion with an equally double-edged example recently, as reported in the New York Times and CBS News. In America, the Operation Blessing group by evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson is sending millions of dollars in medication and relief workers to quake-struck Haiti. However, on the other side, after the Haiti quake, the preacher has also rebuked Haiti for being "cursed by one thing after another" since they "swore a pact to the devil."

Hirschfield, the author of "You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism", illustrated with a touch of humor that it's easy for a bunch of people of the same religion to gather and tell each other that they're doing a good job.

But the real test is, "to turn beyond our community and ask how are we doing (in improving things)?" He mentioned ideas like measuring the success of religion by looking at the literacy or poverty rates, and not by looking at just how many people belong to what group.

Indonesia's role

As a prelude to the Indonesia-US Interfaith Cooperation, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Harvard University, September 29, 2009, has offered Indonesia's readiness to play the role as a bridge builder between Muslims and the Western world, as documented by the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs.

Syekh Dr Yusuf Al Qardhawi, a prominent Islamic figure also concurs because he believes that Indonesia, with its majority of moslems, is a good representative of moderate Islam to promote interfaith harmony, as reported by Antara.

Action plans

As stated by the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs, this interfaith event is more than just a dialogue, but will be applicable in the form of real actions from Indonesia and the US. Thus, we hope that this event, through its workshops and dialogues can come up with some good action plans and results in its press conference, Wednesday, at 9.30 am, at Borobudur Hotel, Jakarta.

One real interfaith issue that's happening in our region is the court ruling in Malaysia late last year regarding the use of the word "Allah" for non-moslems, which has led to the vandalism of churches and mosques. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for Indonesia to prove its mediating capacity for the sake of peace and harmony for its neighbour.

"This event is not related with Malaysia," said Teuku Faizasyah, the spokesman of Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs, when asked whether the US-Indonesia Interfaith Cooperation will also discuss the possibility of Indonesia assisting Malaysia. He explained that, "this event is more focused on learning from the experiences of both countries (Indonesia and the US) in interfaith issues to come up with concrete matters, such as for education, good governance, and how interfaith religious figures can improve the environment."

It's Time to Apply Eco-Property

The International Real Estate Conference by FIABCI (The International Real Estate Federation) will be held in Bali in May. Indonesia is honored to host the event. One of the main agenda in the coming conference is: green property. To further discuss about the conference, we invite Mr. Teguh Satria, REI chairman or president of FIABCI Indonesia, and Mr. Pingki Elka Pangestu, chief organizer for the 61st FIABCI conference who is also the president of FIABCI Asia Pacific.

Thank you for coming Mr. Teguh Satria and Mr. Pingki Elka Pangestu.

FIABCI will hold a conference in Bali. How could Indonesia be appointed as host of the FIABCI World Congress this year?

Teguh Satria: It's quite a long story. We fought hard so that Indonesia could become host. We first offered to be host in 2008, in Amsterdam. We had promotions there, but because of some changes in the system it couldn't be decided in Amsterdam. So it was to be decided in Beijing, China at the 60th World Congress, but then it was disrupted by the H1N1 virus so that it was cancelled.

(Besides that,) the meeting to determine the host of the 61st World Congress was done from October 6 to 8, 2009, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. At that time we competed with other countries, which were Italy and Norway. We had some very difficult questions, among which regarding safety, the Bali bombings and such. But we tried to convince our colleagues in FIABCI that we are able to host the event.

Actually we were appointed (as host) in 1998, and the reason for their doubt was that in 1998 the conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, was canceled due to multidimensional crises, and at that time it was May. So we had to give our best effort to convince them, and it even called for two votings. Finally because Italy declined, there were only Indonesia and Norway. And (in) the two votings, we happen to gain the upper hand, so that finally Indonesia was appointed as the host for the 61st FIABCI World Congress in Nusa Dua, Bali, which will be held from May 24 to 28, 2010, at Grand Hyatt Nusa Dua, Bali.

How far is the preparation for the 61st FIABCI World Congress?

Pingki Elka Pangestu: Usually, as Mr. Teguh mentioned, a congress should have two years for preparation. But in this case we only have a very short period: six months, so that the preparation is rushed. Currently we could say we are 80 percent ready for the event, including for the permits, venues, tours, and ceremonies, all of which are being designed. And, God willing, we will go to Bali for the finalization. Soon everything should be on.

Reportedly a number of world figures such as Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, former US President Bill Clinton, Temasek CEO Madame Ho Ching, will attend this event.

Teguh Satria:
Mr. Pingki will explain in detail about the speakers. We are hoping, and we have sent the (invitation) letter to the President of the Republic of Indonesia Mr. SBY, that he would be willing to do the opening of this event. Because this is a very important event, not just for us, but we hope that with this world event we can introduce the Indonesian property to a world scale. I'm sure that our products can match other world class (property) products. For the details of who will be the speakers and so on, Mr. Pingki as chief organizer can explain.

Okay, Mr. Pingki, other than the three mentioned earlier, who else will be at the world congress?

Pingki Elka Pangestu
: We hope the three speakers alternatively will be (giving) the keynote speeches, they will give insight about the overall world condition. next there will be five forums discussing that real estate is now integrated. For this we will present a number of social figures, for (talking about) what we dub as social networking like Facebook and others. So we'll try Mark. There will also be some renowned architects, for landmark buildings, icons.

Next we will exclusively discuss about finance. There is Mr. James Riady from Indonesia, whom we hope to be one of the speakers. There will also be CEOs from Asia Pacific and Europe. We are also inviting speakers for green building and eco-tourism, such as the founder of Banyan Tree. Last we will try to relate to socio-cultural issues, among which we will ask for the Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika to be a speaker because Bali is one place where world integration and harmony happen.

From Indonesia, other than James Riady and Made Mangku Pastika, who else will share their experiences?

Pingki Elka Pangestu: We're hoping for Mr. Ciputra, the real estate figure and one of the founders of Indonesian real estate. And from the government there will be Mr. Jero Wacik, the minister of culture and tourism, and the state public housing minister, and other figures.

The conference is themed 'eco-property'. What's the principle behind the eco-property theme for the congress?

Pingki Elka Pangestu: If we look at the title (theme), (it's) Green Shoot for Sustainable Real Estate. Green shoot is the sappling for world resurgence for the property field that has been down. We also see this as an opportunity to introspect a little, ahead, the real estate world must be continuous, this means it extends to environmental and economic issues, and even from the aspect of socio-culture. So eco-property is one topic that we must face. The world trend is going there. And in Bali, as it happens, some of our projects have applied the green property principles.

Mr. Teguh, how far has the Indonesian property industry applied the eco-property concept currently?

Teguh Satria: There has been much intention, but practically, those who fulfill all the eco-property requirements are probably few. But one good news is that they are proud (of their achievements), as you can see from various ads, there're green buildings this and that and so on. With this opportunity we'd like to invite the experts to introduce what eco-property really is, it's not just 'green' as it turns out. At least, the positive news is that both developers and consumers are aware and proud (of eco-property), so we can sell by stating it's a green building, a green design and so on. And the buyers feel proud of the products. This is one good capital. It's good that some have started to apply (the eco-property principles), although we still need better socialization.

Mr. Teguh and Mr. Pingki, what will the landscape of Indonesia be if developers apply green property, green building, and eco-property principles?

Pingki Elka Pangestu: It's obvious that one of these projects (The Pakubuwono Residence Jakarta), is the winner of the Prix d'Excellence Awards by BNI and FIABCI Indonesia. What is visible is the green environment. But actually the things behind that are what matters: infrastructure, recycling, mitigating polution et cetera. So this is one example of applying 80 percent of the green aspect, but behind that, which matters more, is that we can give the best for the residents.

China salutes Zheng Jie's Aust. Open win

Back home, Zheng Jie is being hailed as "China's golden flower."

The 26-year-old player advanced to the Australian Open semifinals Tuesday, marking a second day of good news for China.

Compatriot Li Na reached the last eight a day earlier, which gave China two players in the quarterfinals at the same Grand Slam for the first time.

"It's a big surprise for China," Zheng said, after beating Russian Maria Kirilenko in a convincing 6-1, 6-3.

Her next opponent will be seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin, who has reached the semis in her Grand Slam comeback after taking 20 months off from tennis.

Zheng was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2008, the best run by a Chinese player at a Grand Slam. She teamed up with compatriot Yan Zi to win both the Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles titles in 2006 for China's first Grand Slam trophies.

But she had never made it beyond the fourth-round in Melbourne in four previous appearances - and was openly savoring the moment and full of admiration for Henin.

"Justine is my favorite player," said Zheng, who is ranked No. 35. "I'm lucky I can play against my favorite player, and I just want to enjoy the tennis."

The two share similar traits: Both are not very tall but very quick on their feet.

When asked how their styles differ, Zheng thought a second and said, "No difference."

Both have been working to improve upon a common weakness - their serve - and both have shown positive results in Melbourne.

The 5-foot-4 (1.64-meter) Zheng, who is coached by her husband, said she has also taken on a new American coach who has helped her serve. Henin is a year older at 27 and slightly taller at just over 5-foot-5 (1.67 meters)

Kirilenko, who had an upset win over 2008 champion Maria Sharapova in the first round, said she noticed Zheng was serving "not so fast" but to positive effect.

"She was serving to the body a lot, kind of a slice serve, soft," Kirilenko said. "It's difficult to attack from this kind of serve when it's coming low."

Kirilenko took breaks during the match to treat first a sore right leg, then her left leg.

"I was kind of feeling pain everywhere," the Russian said. "But I know I lost today not because of my pain in my legs, just because she was playing much better than me."

To win the match, Zheng broke Kirilenko in her final serve when the Russian double-faulted on the last point.

The China News Agency applauded the victory with the headline, "China's golden flower has made history at the Australian Open!"

The article noted that the crowd "paid respect to this tough and brave Chinese woman."

After Li's entry to the quarterfinals on Monday, China's national broadcaster CCTV ran highlights of the match throughout the day. Their matches are broadcast live on TV.

No Chinese player has ever broken into the top 10 or won a major singles title.

The No. 15-ranked Li faces Venus Williams in her quarterfinal Wednesday. They played only once before - at the 2008 Beijing Olympics - when Li won 7-5, 7-5.

Baby trafficking syndicate uncovered in Salatiga

Central Java Police have uncovered the operation of a baby trafficking syndicate in Salatiga with the recent arrest of a housewife who sold her newborn baby to a buyer from Jambi, an officer said Tuesday.

“We've arrested six people involved in baby trading and investigated the case to see whether it involves possible local or international syndicates,” Salatiga Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Rochmat said.

Agus explained that the arrest started with the housewife, 21, who delivered her baby on Jan. 12, 2010, and sold it to a 46-year-old resident of Meranti Baru, Mendiang district, Jambi, at a cost of Rp 4.3 million (US$470).

The baby sale was made possible with the help of middleman, 35, who is also a snack seller at Tingkir area, Salatiga, Agus said, adding that he later contacted a colleague, 28, from Klaten, Central Java.

The two men, together with three others, later went to Salatiga to settle the deal after paying Rp 800,000 for the labor process at a clinic.

“Fortunately the baby had not been sent to other islands. We arrested the six in Klaten and named them suspects,” Agus added. The baby is now at Salatiga Hospital.

Nadal out of Australian Open with injured knee

Defending champion Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian Open after retiring with an injured knee during his quarterfinal against Andy Murray.

No. 5-seeded Murray became the first British man in 25 years to reach the semifinals in Australia. Murray was leading No. 2-ranked Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (2), 3-0 on Tuesday night when the Spaniard said he could not continue.

Nadal needed a medical timeout during the second game of the third set for treatment on his right knee.

Nadal struggled with knee tendinitis and was unable to defend his Wimbledon title last season after beating Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, his first major on hard courts.

Long Way to Go for KPK to Resolve Century

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) cannot conclude its investigation yet regarding the suspicion of corruption on the Century Bank bailout.

Commission III asked regarding the investigation of Century Bank. Answering the question, the KPK admits that the investigation is ongoing intensively. Currently it's on the indepth stage.

"Indepth inquiry is still ongoing and the result cannot be concluded yet. According to the KPK regulations, there should be at least two substantial evidences that can be acted on for investigation. In this stage it takes a long time so as to give the impression that it's slow," said KPK deputy chief Chandra M. Hamzah during a public hearing before the Commission III, at the House of Rep. building, Jakarta, Monday.

Chandra stated that since the KPK received the investigative audit from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) last November, it has issued an investigation letter.

A number of coordination have been done with the BPK, Capital Market and Financial Institutions Supervisory Agency, and the Financial Transaction Analysis and Report Center. The KPK has also obtained the statements from 14 Bank Indonesia officials, seven from the Deposit Insurance Agency, and two from the Department of Finance.

KPK Accounts for Century before Commission III

Commission III of the House will hear the development from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in resolving the Century Bank case in a public hearing, Monday.

Commission III member Panda Nababan confirms that the latest development of the case will be the mani focus of the House. Previously, KPK deputy chief M. Jasin, last Friday, stated that the KPK will be blunt regarding its investigation that implicates state officials before the Commission III of the House.

"If I explain it (now), I'd be overstepping. Monday we're having a public hearing, you'll see transparently what the KPK has been doing while so far it's considered not fast enough in resolving the Century case."

Meanwhile, approximately at 10 am, the meeting has begun, presided by the Commission III chief, Benny K. Harman. From KPK there are the KPK acting chief Tumpak H. Panggabean with its other leaders, M. Jasin, Bibit S. Rianto, Haryono Umar, and Chandra M. Hamzah, who was still on his way when this news was first issued.

Italy official: Haiti relief effort 'pathetic'

Italy's top disaster official has called the Haiti quake-relief effort a "pathetic" failure, criticizing the militarized approach of the US as ineffective and out of touch for the emergency at hand.

Guido Bertolaso, Italy's well-respected civil protection chief, said Sunday that what was needed was a single international civilian coordinator to take charge, and for individual countries and aid agencies to stop flying their flags and posing for TV cameras and get to work.

"Unfortunately there's this need to make a 'bella figura' before the TV cameras rather than focus on what's under the debris," said Bertolaso, who won praise for his handling of Italy's 2009 quake in Abruzzo.

In particular, he criticized what he called the well-meaning but ineffective US-run military operation. The US military has more than 2,000 troops on the ground, helping to deliver humanitarian aid.

US officials have defended their presence and dismissed such criticism, which has most vocally been leveled by leftist Latin American leaders.

The American presence and willingness to send in a floating hospital, cargo planes, troops and aid was "commendable" and absolutely necessary, Bertolaso told Italy's RAI state television from Port-au-Prince. "Unfortunately it's a massive presence, but it's not been used in the best way," he said, criticizing the fact that American military officers were running a civilian relief operation.

Bin Laden claims airline bomb attempt on Christmas

Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas in a new audio message released Sunday threatening more attacks on the United States.

A senior U.S. intelligence official in Washington said there is "no evidence whatsoever" that bin Laden had any involvement on the Christmas Day attack - or even knew about it beforehand. The message suggests the al-Qaida leader wants to appear in direct command of the terrorist group's many affiliates around the world at a time when some analysts have suggested he is mostly a figurehead.

In the minute-long recording carried by Al-Jazeera Arabic news channel, bin Laden addressed President Barack Obama saying the Christmas attack was meant to send a message similar to that of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The message delivered to you through the plane of the heroic warrior Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes of the Sept. 11," he said. "America will never dream of security unless we will have it in reality in Palestine," he added.

"God willing, our raids on you will continue as long as your support for the Israelis continues."

On Christmas Day, Nigerian Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up his Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit Metro Airport. But the explosive powder he was hiding in his underwear failed to detonate.

He told federal agents shortly afterward that he had been trained and given the explosives by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen.

The U.S. intelligence official said the Yemen-based group is linked with the central al-Qaida group that bin Laden heads and recent intelligence indicates there are ongoing contacts between al-Qaida in Yemen and Pakistan. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

Bin Laden's message, coming long after AQAP gave its own claim of responsibility, appears to be an effort on his part to stay relevant, said Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror."

"The training and the definition of the attack was by the local leaders of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, so in many ways you can say bin Laden is exploiting for his benefit this particular attack," he said. "Bin Laden still wants to claim leadership for the global jihad movement."

Of all the various offshoots and branches of al-Qaida around the world, Gunaratna said the group in Yemen is one of the closest to bin Laden since it is made up of bodyguards and associates of the organization's top ideologues. Yemen is bin Laden's ancestral homeland.

"Today the operational relationship has somewhat suffered, but the ideological relationship is very strong and that is why bin Laden claimed this attack," Gunaratna said.

Two of the group's top members were former detainees released in November 2007 from the U.S. military prison Guantanamo Bay.

Since the Christmas Day attempt, the Yemeni government, at the U.S.'s urging has stepped up its attacks on the group's hideouts in the rugged country's remote hinterland.

Analysts have long debated how much control bin Laden, who is believed to be somewhere in Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, really has over the various organizations using his group's name.

The Yemen-based group, however, has closer ties than most to bin Laden and his key lieutenants, many having once been their bodyguards.

There was no way to confirm the voice on the audio message was actually that of bin Laden, but it resembled previous recordings attributed to him.

The U.S. says it can't immediately authenticate the message but White House adviser David Axelrod told CNN's "State of the Union" that whatever the source, the message "contains the same hollow justification for the mass slaughter of innocents."

In the past year, bin Laden's messages have concentrated heavily on the situation of the Palestinians in attempt to rally support from Muslims around the world.

Some analysts say bin Laden is focusing on the close U.S.-Israeli relationship because he is worried about Obama's popularity across the Middle East with his promises to withdraw from Iraq and because his father was a Muslim from the African nation of Kenya.

The plight of the Palestinians, especially in the blockaded Gaza Strip where 1,400 were killed in an Israeli offensive a year ago, angers many in the Arab world.

"The Palestinian conflict was never part of the al-Qaida original mandate, but Osama is clearly exploiting it," Gunaratna said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Andy David dismissed the latest al-Qaida message and its attempt to link Israel with attacks on the U.S.

"This is nothing new. He has said this before," he said. "Terrorists always look for absurd excuses for their despicable deeds."

The last public message from bin Laden appears to have been on Sept. 26, when he demanded that European countries pull their troops out of Afghanistan. The order came in an audiotape that also warned of "retaliation" against nations that are allied with the United States in fighting the war.

Associated Press Writers Lara Jakes and Salah Nasrawi in Cairo and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Mass rallies to call for SBY's resignation

Around 10,000 people grouped under Petition 28 are expected to join in a rally on Thursday, to mark President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s first 100 days in office for his second term, demanding that he step down for his failure to make people prosperous.

Adhie Massardi from the Awakening Indonesia Committee said on Sunday that the protesters would strongly demand the President resign.

“We have a clear demand. Failing means resigning,” Adhie said as quoted by

Another activist, Hilman Afriandi, that the planned demonstration had been coordinated with NGOs in 20 cities across the country.

“We will stage the rally at the presidential palace, while those who are outside the capital will hold protests in regional representative council (DPRD) buildings in their area,” Hilman said. (ewd)

ACFTA Bears Tight Competition with Chinese Cell Phones

Even before the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) has been applied on January 1, 2010, Chinese brand mobiles phones flooded the Indonesian market, but a number of mobile retailers in Mangga Dua don't think the FTA has affected their sales that much.

Is there an increase on sales or visitors asking for Chinese mobiles after the ACFTA at the beginning of 2010? "Not really," said Septi, a mobile phone retailer at Jembatan Niaga II, Mangga Dua mall, Friday.

She said that the phones were cheap even before the ACFTA. "People do buy them because they're cheap but with lots of features." She even believed that those Chinese brands are a big hit because they have qwerty keypads like a BlackBerry but much cheaper. She claimed that in a day she could sell about five units of Chinese mobiles, although there were quiet days also.

The ACFTA has invited many brands, but most retailers only bring forward one brand that's already well-known, so only that one brand remains a best-seller.

"At the beginning it was a boom, but now they're all average because there are many types, the best selling is probably Nexian," said Adi, a retailer from Jembatan Dusit ITC Mangga Dua, Friday. Adi also explained that the low-end segment has been dominated by Chinese mobiles.

"If your budget is only Rp. 800,000 what can you get from Nokia? The best additional feature is probably just a radio," then he showed a Chinese brand that can be purchased with the same budget, but already with dual SIM cards, able to browse Facebook and other social networking sites, and with VGA camera.

But he claimed that people with a higher budget who are specifically looking for special features like a better camera would still go to the established brands like Nokia or Sony Ericsson. "The expensive Chinese mobile types dont' sell. Just the low-end (sells)."

Price not as advertised

Another interesting point was that how cheap the Chinese brands are, the price can't be exactly as advertised in newspapers and other mass media. Adi showed an ad for Nexian G522 that said in big fonts 'Rp. 599,000' but he thinks that in the market it can't be bought with that exact price. "You can probably get it at Rp. 650,000." Other shops also confirms Adi's words on this matter.

SBY Orders Paspampres to Prepare for Heavier Duties

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked the Presidential Security Guards Force (Paspampres) to always be in a state of preparedness to face ever heavier challenges in the days ahead. "There are at least four challenges the Paspampres will face in the next five years," the head of state said in his directives to all Paspamres members at the force’s headquarters here in Friday.

The president said his activities in serving the state and nation would increase in the next five years. "The next five years will be my last term in office and therefore I will be more active in carrying out my duties in serving the state and nation, both at home and abroad," the president said.

Yudhoyono added that in the coming years many international events would be organized in Indonesia, namely an Asean summit in 2012 and an APEC summit in 2013. He said many heads of state and government would attend the Asean and APEC summits in Indonesia.

"In addition, the Papampres should increase its alertness because the threat of terrorism against me, such as the character assassination planned by certain elements a few months ago, has not abated," he said.

Therefore, the president said, Paspampres should continue to update its armament systems. "I do not want Paspampres’ armament systems to be less sophisticated than those of its counterparts in other countries or those of terrorists," the head of state said.

2010 Australian Endeavor Awards Presented to 20 Indonesians

Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Bill Farmer on Thursday night honored 20 high-achieving Indonesian recipients of the Australian Government Endeavor Awards for 2010. According to Australian Embassy media release, the recipients included two winners of The Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavor Award, a prestigious scholarship newly announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"Australia is very proud of these high-achieving Endeavor Awardees," Farmer said, adding that the recipients of these prestigious Awards would continue to strengthen research and professional linkages between Australia and Indonesia and enhance their professional careers in their chosen field.

A recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavor Award, Agustian Sutrisno, National Program Officer for UNESCO, said that furthering studies at a PhD level in Australia will refine his educational management skills by conducting research based on actual educational management practices.

"Qualified researchers in the field of education are very rare in Indonesia and, by completing my PhD, I will be a researcher and an academic who is able to provide evidence-based inputs and advice on the development of our educational sector," Sutrisno said.

Ms Agnes Sumargi, a senior lecturer at Widya Mandala Catholic University in Surabaya, is also a recipient of The Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award and plans to research the effect of parenting education programs on parenting skills in Indonesia.

Australia has been providing scholarships to Indonesia for almost 60 years. The Endeavor Awards are an internationally competitive, merit-based scholarship program providing opportunities for leading researchers and professionals to undertake short or long term study, research and professional development in a broad range of disciplines.

This year six Australians also won Endeavor Awards to conduct research in Indonesia. For more information on the Endeavour Awards, please visit: or

Indonesian Maid Dies in Malaysia

An Indonesian maid, Nurul Aida, dies in Melaka, Malaysia, around 21.55 local time for unknown reasons, a source said. According to information from a staff at the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Nurul Aida was working with an Indian family when three Malaysian women appears to be her agent, found her unconscious in her employer’s house.

"The three women then brought Nurul Aida to the Indonesia Embassy," Satya, the embassy official said here on Friday. Unfortunately, he said, the embassy away by car from Melaka. Nurul Aida was may have passed away during the journey to the embassy.

Satya explained that one of Aida’s agents, had said the poor Indonesian maid’s body was producing smell during the journey to the embassy that the other two maid agents removed Aida’s body to the car’s trunk. "When the three agents arrived at the embassy, I asked them to go to the hospital for an autopsy and later report the case to the police," he said.

Two other agents are now held at the Kuala Lumpur police station for questioning. According to the police, the three were no official maid recruiting agents.

To help Nurul Aida enter Malaysia, a tourist passport was used. Based on the passport, she should have left Malaysia in March 2009.

4 injured in explosion at Bekasi home

An explosion that police believe was caused by a gas leak injured four people in a residential house in Kampung Pondok Benda, Bekasi, on Saturday morning.

Local police chief Adj. Comr. Ahmad Kusnindar told that although police were still investigating the case, but suspected that gas leaking from a stove in the house caused the explosion.

The explosion blasted doors and windows, and also tore the roof of the house, which is located at Firadaus IV housing complex.

Local residents are flocking around the house as police officers examine the blast scene.

Rainy afternoon in Jakarta today

Moderate rain will pour in almost every part of Greater Jakarta areas in the afternoon on Saturday, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said.

The agency that rain will start falling in North and West Jakarta and Tangerang in the morning before hitting other areas in Greater Jakarta.

Rain will continue to fall, although lessening, in the evening, with only North Jakarta and Thousand Islands left with moderate and heavy rain, respectively.

Average temperature is predicted to be between 24 and 30 degree Celcius with 67 to 96 percent humidity.

10 days after quake, 2 rescued from Haiti rubble

Searchers pulled two survivors from the rubble of Haiti's devastating earthquake on Friday, rescuing a man and an elderly woman a staggering 10 days after homes collapsed on top of them.

In one part of the capital city, an Israeli search team pulled a 22-year-old man from a crevasse in what once was a three-story home, according to an Israeli Defense Forces statement and video of the rescue obtained by The Associated Press.

An Israeli military statement said local residents led the team to the site, adding that the man was in stable condition at an Israeli field hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Shirtless and covered in dust, the man appeared to be either unconscious or barely conscious as he was hoisted onto a stretcher.

Elsewhere, an 84-year-old woman was said by relatives to have been pulled from the wreckage of her home, according to doctors administering oxygen and intravenous fluids to her at the General Hospital. Doctors said she was in critical condition.

The European Commission says international rescue crews have rescued more than 125 people since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Jan. 12.

However, much of the focus of the quake's aid workers has shifted to helping the hundreds of thousands of newly homeless in the impoverished nation and some rescue crews have started to depart because of the time since the quake.

"The more days that go by without signs of life, the dimmer these hopes will become," said David Wimhurst, a spokesman for the UN mission in Haiti.

Stay Indoors, Respect Traditions in Bali

Hindunese celebrate Silence Day by obeying the prohibitions, one of them is amati geni (no fire). During the day, all of roads in the island of gods look empty as people stay silent at their houses - Australians travelling to Bali in March have been warned to respect strict laws surrounding the local new year. Custom requires that all people in Bali observe a day of silence from 6am on Tuesday, March 16 until 6am Wednesday, March 17 - the Balinese New Year.

Authorities require that all people in Bali stay indoors, make no noise and switch off all lights for the duration of this period. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs says tourists must remain in their hotels during this 24-hour period and seek the advice of hotel management regarding movement around the hotel grounds.

Balinese across the island strictly observe this tradition and people leaving their homes or hotels between between these times risk being forcibly returned to their homes or hotels by Balinese traditional village level security personnel.

DFAT says this is an important cultural event for the people of Bali and Australians are urged to be sensitive and strictly observe local custom to avoid giving offence. The Australian Consulate-General in Bali will be closed on Tuesday, March 16 and reopen at 8am on Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DFAT's general travel advice for Indonesia remains unchanged and includes a warning of the possibility of terror attacks. Three Australians were among the nine people killed in the suicide bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta last July.

Experts Disagrees with BI on 2008 Crisis

Two out of three expert witnesses before the legislature's inquiry committee on the Century scandal, Thursday, disagreed that the 2008 crisis triggered a systemic effect.

Hendri Saparini and Ichsanudin Noorsy stated that the crisis was a ripple effect from the crisis in the United States of America, and it didn't make the Indonesian banking precarious. "There is a connection, even if there was a lag time and it wasn't a direct effect. The crisis in the US and the on in Indonesia are different," stated Hendri.

The crisis transmission in 2008 was also different from the one in 1997-1998, especially since the Indonesian economic structure in 2008 was quite well ordered. In 1997-1998 there was monetary crisis while the world demand was high, in 2008 it's not like that.

"In 1997-1998 we had a fragile banking industry, the CAR (Capital Adequacy Ratio) was down to minus 15. There were two weaknesses, in monetary and in banking. In 2008, all banking indicators were on the rise; asset, third party fund, credits, non-performing loans, and loan to deposit ratio were stable. There was a decline on foreign exchange reserves, yes, but it's a different matter from the banking condition."

Henri opined that Bank Indonesia (BI) wasn't quite right when they tightened the interest rate and the fiscal side simultaneously. This step, he believed, pressured the banking.

Therefore, he thought that the Century Bank bailout was unnecessary. "There wasn't such a big pressure."

Ichsanudin concurs. He said that the systemic reason for the Century Bank bailout was premature. "A systemic effect in that country (US) isn't necessarily so here, it depends on the Indonesian banking condition. The Indonesian banking does have stress resistance."

Benny and Gayus in Fierce Debate, Hearing Suspended

A fierce debate between members of the ligislature's inquiry committee investigating Century Bank erupts again, Thursday, regarding the expert witness. This time, committee deputy chuef Gayus Lumbuun and member Benny K. Harman argued. The hearing had to be suspended for around three minutes.

The argument was triggered when Benny questioned the capacity and competence of Ichsanuddin Noorsy as an expert witness for political economy. "Mr. Ichsanuddin claims to be an economy expert, but what is the credential of expertise?"

Before Ichsanuddin could answer, Gayus who was leading the hearing opposed Benny's way of questioning. According to Gayus, Benny shouldn't have asked that and questioned Ichsanuddin's expetise. His reasoning is that Icsanuddin has been summoned before the committee because he is already an expert.

"If you're talking about the Law of policy perspective, how can you determine whether someone is an expert or not? What's the theory?" Benny asked. Gayus opposed Benny's question again. The PDI-P politician asked for Benny to just listen.

Benny, from the Democratic Party, responded to Gayus' opposition with a raised tone. Committee member Agun Gunanjar then also interrupted by stating the same objection as Gayus' on Benny. "I object this method of Benny's questioning, the reason is we've all agreed that these three people are to be summoned before the committee within the capacity of an expert."

Eva Sundari, from PDI-P, also objected, stating that the expert witnesses shouldn't be blamd. The hearing was continued after a short discussion among the fraction leaders in the committee and a deal was struck during the suspension.

Jakarta water privatization a major failure: NGOs

Water privatization in Jakarta has entered its 12th year, but there has been little improvement in water services to residents, activists said on Thursday.

“[Privatization] has severely harmed Jakarta residents, especially the poor,” Hamong Santono, the national coordinator of the People’s Coalition for the Right to Water (Kruha), told a press conference, which was also attended by the Amrta Institute for Water Literacy.

The current contract between the city-owned public utility PD PAM Jaya and its two private operators, PAM Lyonnaise Jaya and PT Aetra Air Jakarta, will end in 2022.

Many residents pay high rates but have to buy clean water for drinking due to the poor quality of tap water. They sometimes experience water disruptions and lack of water supplies for days.

The NGOs called for the termination of the water privatization and urged PD PAM Jaya to revamp its management of the company to improve public services.

Doctors want more local funds to fight TB

Doctors urged the government Thursday to increase the annual national budget health allocation from 4 percent to the international standard of 30 percent in order to facilitate the ongoing battle against tuberculosis and other killer respiratory tract diseases.

“We need political support from the government because Indonesia is still dependent on the US$70 million in foreign aid for tuberculosis and other health programs,” said Achmad Hudoyo of the Indonesian Tuberculosis Eradication Association.

Indonesia ranks third in the list of 22 high-burden TB countries in the world.

The Indonesian Society of Respirology and eight other medical organizations launched the Year of the Lung 2010 public awareness campaign at the Persahabatan Hospital in East Jakarta on Thursday with a call for political support from the government to expand the national health budget. (rch/nvt)

Susno Foments JK's Testimony

Former chief detective, Comr. Gen. Susno Duadji before the inquiry committee, Wednesday, confirms a number of statements by former VP Jusuf Kalla, at the House of Rep. building, Jakarta.

In his testimony Susno confirms that he received the command to detain Century Bank's owner, Robert Tantular, from the National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso, implementing the command given previously by Jusuf Kalla.

Robert was detained on November 25, 2008, two hours after the command came down from Jusuf Kalla. "The National Police chief pointed out, as commanded by the current VP that time, Jusuf Kalla, that they shouldn't loose Robert because his family has escaped abroad. At that time Robert was still in Jakarta. But several of his communication numbers have been monitored to be in Singapore already," said Susno.

Besides confirming the arrest, Susno also said that initially Bank Indonesia (BI) questioned whether the police had had enough evidences to arrest Robert. This concurs with Kalla's statement. Before the inquiry committee last week, Kalla said that the arrest was commanded because BI never came to the National Police regarding the banking crime suspicion done by Robert.

For the arrest, Susno formed two teams. One was led by himself, that went to BI, and the other went after Robert. "My team went to BI. There was a meeting at that time. I met Mrs. Fadjriah (deputy governor for monitoring). I reported that we were about to detain Robert Tantular, the owner and director (of Century Bank). When asked whether I had evidences, I said that we had evidences, but they would be completed within 1x24 hours."

To complete the evidences, Susno asked for a team from BI to assist the police. "BI thought there werent' enough evidences, almost all the meeting attendants said so. I said, if there weren't enough then we'd let him (Robert) go. I asked for BI's team to come that night, but no one came."

BI's team only came on November 27, 2008, two days after the arrest. "Even that was after I sent a letter to request the presence of a supervisor to back up the evidences. So, BI reported after Robert was arrested." said the former West Java police chief.

Former BI governor, now VP, Boediono denies of having received Kalla's order to report Robert to the police.

Regent sued for defamation

Contradicting the normal practice, a regent in North Sulawesi is facing a lawsuit for alleged defamation filed by his people.

Former head of regional manpower and transmigration agency Ibrahim Polakitan and former head of agricultural agency Roly Soputan have filed the libel lawsuit against Southeast Minahasa Regent Tely Tjangkulung with the police.

“The police are still investigating the case,” spokesman for the provincial police Adj. Sr. Comr. Benny Bella told Antara on Wednesday. He added a number of witnesses had been questioned in connection with the case.

One of the witnesses, Novry Kolinung, said the regent had told protesters who rallied to question the dismissal of Ibrahim and Roly on Dec. 9, 2009 that the two were replaced due to an alleged love affair out of wedlock and alleged extortion in a project. Both Ibrahim and Roly deemed the regent’s statement that was made in public as slanderous.

In most defamation cases, it is public officials who file the lawsuits against ordinary citizens, not the other way around.

Rivals break bows, arrows to bury the hatchet

Two rival groups engaged in a tribal war over the past two weeks in Kwamki Lama village in Mimika regency, Papua, held a traditional peace ceremony on Wednesday marked by the breaking of bows and arrows.

Among those attending the ceremony at the village’s Kiosk Panjang market compound were Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Muhammad Sagi, Mimika Military Command chief Let. Col. Refrizal, Papua Police Mobile Brigade Unit commander Comr. Yustanto, Mimika Baru district head James Noldy Sumigar and a number of local figures.

The peace ritual commenced when hundreds of residents from the rival groups carried bows and arrows into the market compound.

After a brief prayer led by Rev. Melkianus Kum, four war chiefs from both sides stood under triangular bamboo poles and separated residents from both groups.

The groups each brought in a pig and shot them dead with arrows, handing them over to their rivals.

Villagers flee as elephants run amok

Dozens of residents of Pauhranap village, Peranap district, Indragiri Hulu regency, Riau, have left their village for the last three days to avoid rampaging wild elephants.

Peranap district head Hariyadi said Wednesday some 50 people had fled to a neighboring village after their village was ransacked by elephants.

The villagers had tried to stay put and rebuild their houses damaged or destroyed by the elephants, while attempting to scare off the protected animals with loud noises and campfires, he added.

However, their efforts did not work as the number of elephants storming the village continued to increase throughout the day.

“They can no longer stand facing prolonged terror by the elephants. They have always been frightened and their safety is increasingly under threat,” Hariyadi told The Jakarta Post.

“Some villagers are seeking shelter at their families’ homes, while others have opted to establish huts at [neighboring] Lubuk Kandis village, which they believe is safe from elephant attack,” he added.

According to the district chief, the conflict between human and elephant at Pauhranap village has been going on for a long time, claiming several lives.

Last September, 27-year old plantation guard Rinto Lumbangaol was trampled to death by elephants.

“Local residents are worried that such a tragic incident might happen again,” Hariyadi said.

Antasari, Blindly Charged or Public Misleaded?
Legal representative of former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chief Antasari Azhar deems the death penalty requested by the public prosecutor without factual base from the trial. But prosecutors think Antasari and his legal counsel are misleading the press and people.

"These (the charges) are blind shots because they aren't in accordance with the facts during trial," said Juniver Girsang, one of Antasari's legal representatives after the trial, South Jakarta State Court, Tuesday.

According to Junier, Antasari shouldn't be threatened with death penalty if all were according to the facts on trial. "The problem is: what is the base for the death sentence? If the public prosecutors used the facts during trial, we're sure there wouldn't be the request for a death sentence for Antasari."

He added that for the coming defense from Antasari's side, unlike the prosecutors, their side would use the facts from the trial.

While reading the charges, one of the prosecutors, Cyrus Sinaga also mentioned that Antasari's legal counsel often attempted to blur the case by accusing that there was tampering by the police and Attorney General. "This is unfortunate because it can mislead the people."

"The people think it unlikely Antasari would harass Rani Juliani. It's normal and logical (for the people to think so). But, though a former KPK chief, Antasari is still a human being, a normal man without fault-free."

Kraft Foods, Cadbury agree $19.5b deal

After months of fierce resistance, Cadbury's about-face to accept a sweetened 11.5 billion pound ($19.5 billion) takeover from Kraft Foods Inc. - forming the world's biggest candy company - has alarmed British unions, lawmakers and chocolate lovers.

With Cadbury shareholders expected to agree to the deal and a rival bid from The Hershey Co. looking less likely, opponents fear the US multinational's impact on one of Britain's oldest and best-loved brands.

Just days after Cadbury declared its suitor a "low growth" company with a "long history of underperformance," the British maker of Dairy Milk chocolates and Dentyne gum capitulated to a raised bid of 840 pence ($13.78) per share.

The deal, comprising 500 pence cash and 0.1874 new Kraft shares for each Cadbury share, is a 9 percent premium to its previous 770 pence offer and 50 percent higher than Cadbury's market value before Kraft, based in Northfield, Illinois, went public with its approach in September.

Cadbury stock was trading just under that level, at 836.5 pence, up 3.6 percent, in Tuesday afternoon trade. Shares in Kraft, the maker of Toblerone chocolate, Velveeta processed cheese and Oreo cookies, were down 2.5 percent at $28.85.

The combination of the pair would create the world's biggest confectionary company, replacing Mars Inc., and Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld said the deal provides "both immediate value certainty and upside potential" as she tried to appease concerns about the loss of Cadbury's iconic status.

PAM’s glass half empty: Regulators

Jakarta tap water providers’ glaringly slow progress in improving services may drive away valuable customers, experts say.

“Some companies have begun to plan ways to recycle their water using reverse osmosis technology,” said Riant Nugroho, a member of the city’s water regulatory body, during a discussion on Tuesday.

PT Pembangunan Jaya Ancol, which owns Ancol Dreamland Park, and PT Pelindo II, one of Indonesia’s seaport operators, had both begun researching this option, Riant said.

The companies’ move toward recycling water is in line with the city’s environmental campaigns, but it will also cause PAM Jaya to lose income that would otherwise cover its losses from customers in the lower-income bracket, he said.

PAM Jaya provides tap water to residents through two private water contractors, PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) and PT Aetra Air Jakarta.

Under their contracts, PAM Jaya pays Palyja and Aetra water charges for the water they provide to customers. The latest water charge PAM Jaya paid the contractors, however, was above the average water rate customers paid PAM Jaya, which was Rp 7,000 (around 70 US cents) per cubic meter.

Based on their income brackets Jakartans pay different water rates to PAM Jaya, with the lowest rates just over Rp 1,000 per cubic meter and the highest at around Rp 14,000.

This arrangement has continually caused PAM Jaya losses because most of its customers pay less than the standard water rate.

“75 percent [of customers] pay less than the standard rates,” Riant said.

Last year, PAM Jaya director Haryadi Priyohutomo said the company’s debts amounted to Rp 300 billion. (dis)

Yudhoyono fumes over political deal speculation

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday angrily struck out at media reports of his alleged plan to replace Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati in an attempt to end the prolonged Bank Century bailout saga.

According to the President’s official website (, the President told a forum in Madiun, East Java, that the alleged deal between him and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie to replace Mulyani was “poor fiction”.

“This is exceptionally creative, but awful fiction. This [speculation] won’t benefit the people. This is the politics of fiction; they made up what’s not there,” he said.

“This is dirty politics, maybe they’re trying to play off the finance minister and the President. It was said I would replace her with someone with the initials AA. I don’t know who AA is,” he added.

Speculation is widespread AA refers to the head of the Fiscal Policy Agency, Anggito Abimanyu.

Yudhoyono also expressed concern the speculation could destabilize the Rupiah and disrupt the economy.

The lost fortunes of Kemarau

Happy face: A corpulent, happy Golden Buddha suggests prosperity may lie on the island.

Tales about the island of Kemarau, located near Palembang along the 800-kilometer Musi River that meanders across South Sumatra, are abound, with two of the most recounted riches-to-rags stories involving Chinese ships sailing down the river.

Both regrettably tragic tales could easily pass for mythology rather than straight history. The most popular one about this low-level island — often described as “the island that floats the river” as it mysteriously never seems to flood despite heavy rainfall — recounts the story of a Chinese commercial ship sailing down the river after its captain earned a fortune trading goods in Palembang.

Inebriated from celebrating his success, the captain neglects his sailing duties, sinks his ship near the island and spills all his riches into the river there. Since then, people have been searching the river to recover the fortunes believed to have sunk around the island.

In the second tale, which claims to explain how the island came to exist, a Chinese man by the name of Tan Bu An comes to Palembang to study and falls in love with a local princess called Siti Fatimah.

He asks for her hand in marriage but her parents insist upon gifts to allow the wedding to go ahead.

Tan Bu An sends a messenger back to his father in China asking for such gifts to be provided. When the messenger returns with fruits and vegetables, Tan Bu An is so disgusted he throws the gifts into the river, not realizing his father had placed money inside the edible gifts.

Upon finding out about the subterfuge, the enamored Chinese man frantically jumps into the river to find the discarded treasures, but soon drowns. Siti Fatimah, who rushes to the river the instant she finds out her love is lost in the river, also sadly drowns.

It seems however she had a premonition about her fate, so before entering the river’s waters, she leaves a message saying land may form in the place she will die, and the tree that will grow will be one of love.

Spell of beauty: The tall pagoda is the most outstanding feature of the island.Spell of beauty: The tall pagoda is the most outstanding feature of the island.

The land that emerged is said to be Kemarau Island. It is also believed the spirit of Tan Bu An remains on the island and over the years, the local Chinese community has consequently come to see Kemarau as a special place.

Nowadays, the main attractions are a Chinese temple and pagoda, built as a result of those mythical stories.

The Taoist temple, dedicated to a deity that protects homes, villages and rural areas on the island, was erected in the 1960s and receives a fairly constant flow of worshippers. Those visitors usually brave the murky waters of the river by slow sampan (a flat-bottomed skiff usually propelled by two short oars) or fast speedboat to make offerings and say their prayers.

A tall Chinese pagoda erected in 2006 is now the most distinctive feature of this otherwise flat island.

Many Chinese figures are represented in relief or statues, with the most alluring of these being a huge venerable golden standing Buddha, seemingly laughing out loud looking across the river. The island tends to fill up during festival times such as the Chinese New Year, but otherwise remains a haven of peace the rest of the year.

A peaceful moment: Worshippers make their offerings and say their prayers at various locations around the island.A peaceful moment: Worshippers make their offerings and say their prayers at various locations around the island.

Pilgrims — local and sometimes from Singapore and Malaysia — who come to pay respect to their deities, leaving the sweet smell of their burning incense sticks to waft across the island.

How much truth there is to the tale of Tan Bu An and Siti Fatimah cannot really be said, but hopefuls can still be seen scouring the river looking some of the lost riches of that wedding gift.

With many believing the island is still haunted by the spirit of Siti Fatimah’s suitor, Kemarau remains a sleepy little outcrop of Indonesia, enveloped by the Musi River’s murky waters.

While much of the surroundings are industrial, the island remains a charming get away for those seeking quietness.

Crème de la crème of scanners

I still remember the first scanner I ever bought. It was an HP ScanJet, from the US, which I brought back to Indonesia when I repatriated.

It was pretty heavy. I felt so proud to have it, as it was perhaps the first scanner anybody had in Indonesia at that time. It had its own SCSI card. Scanners have evolved a lot since then.

We know a scanner comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, if we need to scan an image, we have to use an image scanner. A scanner of this type is suitable for this purpose. If we need to scan a document, then a flatbed scanner would do the job well. A flatbed scanner looks like a copier. In fact, a copier also has a scanner, and a scamer is also used in barcode scanner. Have I lost you yet?

A scanner, as you should know, makes a digital image of whatever we place on its screen. What we do not always know is that they come under different brands. We have scanners from Canon, HP and Epson. Another brand that may sound a bit alien to us is Bowe Bell+Howell, which is now part of Kodak.

Another brand that we are not so familiar with is Fujitsu.

Fujitsu makes a variety of document scanners, most of which are intended for special uses. They have scanners for medical and healthcare, government, financial services, insurance and education.

Document scanners usually come with an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), so we do not have to manually place the documents on the bed. A good ADF should have a straight paper path in order to prevent paper jam. Some more sophisticated scanners also have the duplex scanning capability, which enables them to scan both sides of the document at the same time.

In addition to the ADF, Fujitsu scanners also have different specifications. For example, they may differ in the speed at which they scan documents. This is indicated by the page per minute (ppm) number.

Another indicator of the speed is the image per minute (ipm). The so-called Production Model, which is used in organizations that do mass production scanning, has a high 100 ppm speed. Individual or small office home office (SOHO) users can buy the 20 ppm entry level scanner.

Workgroups in larger organizations can buy the network scanners, so they can share a single scanner without having to add a Belkin Network USB Hub that was reviewed last week.

For the Indonesian market, Fujitsu offers three scanner models: the fi-6140, fi-6240 and S310. The fi-6140 and fi-6240 models can digitize the image of photos, business cards and documents as large as A4-size. They are also equipped with an ADF with the 50 ppm scanning speed, can read barcodes and patchwork.

The two of them can certainly scan in color, grayscale and monochrome (black and white), with the resulting document in PDF format too.

If we need a scanner to go with our notebook, we can buy the ScanSnap S300.

Most scanners work with Microsoft Windows. However, Macintosh users can also use Fujitsu scanners.

The “M” at the end of the model name, such as Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M, tells us that it is meant to be used with an iMac, for example.

The fi-6240 can scan at 60 ppm or 120 ipm in grayscale and monochrome, or 40 ppm or 80 ipm in 300 DPI. It also has Fujitsu’s Paper Protection Technology, which helps preserve the paper document by stopping the scanning process when it detects an imminent paper jam.

Fujitsu is strong in research and development (R&D). Its Intelligent MultiFeed Function (iMFF), implemented on the fi-6140 and the fi-6240 simplifies pre-scanning preparation and improves efficiency by ignoring documents that trigger false multi-feed alerts. This usually happens when we have a photo or sticky note on the multipage document that we are scanning.

Fujitsu’s Intelligent Capture Correction Function (iCCF) automatically recognizes color and detects document size.

What many of us like most is the auto “de-skew”. One of the problems we usually have when scanning photos for Facebook is the vertical and horizontal alignment. The auto de-skew feature helps solve the problem.

Incidentally, according to the latest press release posted on the company’s website, the US Buyers Laboratory has selected Fujitsu as the First Ever “Scanner Line of the Year” Award Winner.

To receive the award, the company must have collected the largest number of “Highly Recommended” and “Highly Reliable” office equipment.

Mutilation victim buried in Cakung

Ardiansyah, the 8-year-old boy who was murdered, sexually assaulted and then mutilated, was laid to rest Tuesday in a cemetery in Cakung, East Jakarta.

Ardiansyah, a street singer, was believed to have been the latest victim of Baekuni, a coordinator of street children in Pulogadung bus terminal, who confessed last week that he had killed seven and sodomized more than a dozen children.

Hundreds of street children attended the funeral.

“They consider Ardiansyah a hero. His murder has unveiled a series of killings of children,” Arist Merdeka Sirait ofthe Commission on Child Protection said.

Ardiansyah’s decapitated torso was found earlier in the month in Cakung, East Jakarta.

His body was then kept for autopsy at the hospital. (dis)

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