American historian wins Holberg Prize

American historian Natalie Zemon Davis has won Norway's 4.5 million kroner ($785,000) Holberg International Memorial Prize for her narrative approach to the field of history.

The Norwegian awards committee says the 81-year-old Detroit native "shows how particular events can be narrated and analyzed so as to reveal deeper historical tendencies and underlying patterns of thought and action."

The award citation praises Davis as "one of the most creative historians writing today." It says she has inspired a generation of younger historians and promoted "cross-fertilization between disciplines."

Davis is a professor at the University of Toronto and professor emerita at Princeton University, where she taught for many years. The award will be presented in June.

Police seize weapons from soccer fans

Jakarta Police seized dozens of weapons, including daggers and sharpened spears, from supporters of Persija Jakarta soccer club, during a crackdown on Jl. Gatot Subroto of South Jakarta, on Tuesday.

Thousands of orange-emblazoned Persija supporters (known as Jak Mania) from Greater Jakarta, many crowded onto the roofs of buses, descended on Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Central Jakarta to watch a game between Persija and Persipura of Jayapura, Papua.

Buses carrying the fans were forced to enter Jakarta Police Headquarters' compound where officers searched for weapons.

Weapons were confiscated and displayed at Jakarta Police’s Traffic Management Center, reported.

Apply smoking fatwa to Muhammadiyah members first, PPP lawmaker says

Muhammad Romahurmuziy, the party chairman of Islam-based United Development Party (PPP), criticized the issuance of a 'haram' fatwa (edict) on smoking by the second-largest Muslim organization in the country, Muhammadiyah.

Romy, the nickname of Romahurmuziy, said that banning smoking was endorsed but should be implemented gradually.

“Muhammadiyah’s edict should be effective on its organizational members first before it acts as a fatwa affecting every Muslim in the country,” Romy said.

He said that banning smoking for Muslims nationwide could lead to a massive negative impact.

“Millions of Indonesians are currently tobacco farmers and cigarette workers. The edict may seriously affect the economy,” Romy said.

Banten lacks nurses and midwives: Governor

Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosia, said Tuesday that her province needed more nurses and midwives in community health centers (Puskesmas).

“We have sent a request to the Administrative Reforms Ministry to increase the quota of nurses and midwives in Banten,” Atut told

Banten Health Agency head Djaja Budi Suhardja, said that Puskesmas in around 545 villages out of a total 1,545, urgently needed nurses and midwives to reduce the rate of mother and infant mortality, which was 256 cases per 1,000 births in 2008.

Dr. says Beckham's Achilles' tendon totally torn

David Beckham is expected to play again after undergoing surery to repair his torn left Achilles tendon. When and where he comes back remain uncertain.

The Achilles' tendon was totally torn, and the doctor who performed the surgery on Monday said the 34-year-old Beckham is expected to be out of action for about six months.

"He is doing well and the operation lasted just under an hour. It went very well," Dr. Sakari Orava told The Associated Press. "He will have to take it very easy during the next two to three weeks or a month, and then he will continue with a recuperation program slowly. The foot won't take much strain for two to three months."

Orava also sid it would be "four months to running" and another two months before playing.

Beckham's spokesman, Simon Oliveira, said the tendon was completely repaired, and he expected the former England captain to play again.

"David is expected to make a full recovery," Oliveira said.

Beckham was injuredin the closing minutes of AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday. He was on his second loan to the Italian club from Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy.

Orava said Beckham planned to spend Monday night at the clinic and likely will leave Finland on Tuesday. A statement from AC Milan said Becham will remain under observation for a few days.

Using crutches, Beckham hobbled out of a private jet at Turku airport in southwestern Finland on Monday, arriving minutes later at the clinic surrounded by security guards amid cheers from hundreds of fans who had gathered outside the entrance.

"I am set but (want) to thank everyone for their messages of support," Beckham said in a statement posted on his personal Web site before his arrival. "I hope to make a swift and full recovery."

The injury shattered Beckham's hopes of becoming the first English player to appear in four World Cups and put hisfuture on the national team in doubt. He will miss most of the MLS season.

"Injuries are an unfortunate part of our game and they are even more disappointing when they happen to a player who was so close to realizing his dream of representing his nation at this summer's World Cup," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said Monday. "David remains an important player for the Galaxy and we look forward to welcoming him back to the club and assisting him in his recovery."

With only a few minutes remaining in the Chievo game and the score 0-0, Beckham was by himself in the center circle when he took a pass with his left foot, stepped back awkwardly, then stepped forward and started hopping on his right foot with an expression of pain on his face.

Visibly in pain and in tears, Beckham went to the touchline for medical attention.

Orava told the AP the tendon "was totally torn," not just a small rupture.

Milan's medical staff consulted with the Galaxy's medical team, and Milan organizing director Umberto Gandini spoke with Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Galaxy.

"It was the player's decision," Gandini told the AP on Monday. "It's the player who decides for his own health, and the player's decision was to go to Finland where there is a surgeon who specializes in these injuries."

While Beckham has not been a starter for England in recent matches, he was likely to make the World Cup squad. Beckham was still prized for his free kicks and crosses, especially when England needed second-half goals.

And for many, he is the best-known soccer player in the world, a fashion icon with a celebrity wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star has scored 17 goals for England and made 115 appearances, second in England history behind only goalkeeper Peter Shilton's 125 from 1970-90.

It was also a blow for MLS, already facing the threat of a players' strike ahead of the season opener on March 25. Beckham is the league's highest-paid player with a $32.5 million, five-year contract - and its biggest draw.

Obama will be in Indonesia on March 23: Minister

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Monday that US President Barack Obama will visit Indonesia on March 23.

"That's the information I have received," Marty said as quoted by

"I do not know for how many days and any other detail."

Obama was scheduled to visit Indonesia from March 20 to March 22, but he decided to delay the visit to concentrate on a health bill at home.

Obama will be in Indonesia on March 23: Minister

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Monday that US President Barack Obama will visit Indonesia on March 23.

"That's the information I have received," Marty said as quoted by

"I do not know for how many days and any other detail."

Obama was scheduled to visit Indonesia from March 20 to March 22, but he decided to delay the visit to concentrate on a health bill at home.

RI economy to expand above 5 pct in Q1: BPS

Indonesia's economy may expand above 5 percent in the first three months this year on the back of stronger exports and investment, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said.

BPS head Rusman Heriawan said with a low baseline of growth components in 2009, an increase in the components would significantly drive the economy this year.

"So a small increase in exports will result in a high percentage. And those drive economic growth in the first quarter of 2010. I'm optimistic a 5 percent (growth) is achievable," he said before a meeting at the State Palace.

The central bank last week revised up its growth forecast in 2010 to between 5.5 percent and 6 percent, and 6 percent to 6.5 percent in 2011.

Traffic worsens as chicken vendors stage protest

Around 1,500 people from various chicken slaughter houses in Jakarta staged a protest in front of the city council in Central Jakarta on Monday morning, causing a severe congestion from Jl. Jati Baru to Jl. Kebon Sirih.

A five-minute ride with public buses from Tanah Abang to the council building became 20 to 30 minutes because of the protest, which was held for the fifth this year.

The traffic got worse as the protesters parked dozens of mini buses and trucks on the street in front of the council building.

The protesters demanded that the councillors revise the 2007 bylaw that limits slaughterhouses across the city to five.

India's missile interceptor test fails

India's homegrown missile interception system failed to shoot down an incoming missile during a test Monday, a Defense Ministry official said.

A medium-range and nuclear-capable Prithvi II surface-to-surface missile was fired from a test site in the eastern state of Orissa, but the interceptor missile failed to take off due to a technical snag, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Other details were not available. The test was believed to be routine and part of an ongoing series of trials.

Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan usually notify each other ahead of major missile tests, in keeping with an agreement between the two nations.

It was not immediately known whether India informed Pakistan about Monday's test. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.

"It would undergo several more tests before the design is technologically confirmed," saidRahul Bedi, a South Asia analyst with London-based Jane's Defense Weekly.

The system is part of an anti-ballistic sheet that would provide protection against incoming missiles, Bedi told The Associated Press.

"The level of errors in this game is very high. It's important because basically it is aimedas a defensive measure against nuclear rivals China and Pakistan," he said.

India has carried out three successful tests, starting with one in 2006.

If the interceptor missile can be transformed into a viable defense system, it would see India join an elite club of nations with working missile shield.

Swallow factory lacks fire safety standard: agency

The city firefighter agency said that the lack of fire safety standard ensured the fire at Swallow sandal factory in West Jakarta became a fatal incident.

Agency head Paimin Napitupulu said among the indications were the absence of emergency exits and sufficient fire extinguishers.

"It is clear that the building failed to meet minimum fire safety standards," Paimin told reporters.

The fire broke out at the factory where 200 workers were working on Thursday afternoon killing at least four.

As of Monday, the agency still could not extinguish the fire, which it claimed as "the most difficult blaze it had handled in 91 years" because chemical substance spillage under iron rubble could ignite another fire.

The police said they would start a "scientific investigation" after the fire was extinguished.

PKS to initiate impeachment unless KPK speeds up Bank Century probe

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) says it will voice an impeachment against Vice President Boediono if the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is slow in investigating the Bank Century bailout.

"We feel the KPK is reluctant to investigate the case. If this continues, then PKS will initiate the right to state a political opinion on the case," PKS secretary-general Anis Matta told reporters in Jakarta on Monday.

A political opinion right is an initial part of the impeachment process at the House of Representatives.

The Bank Century case revolves around a bailout that ten folded to Rp 6.76 trillion President, and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

US cautious on removing nuclear arms from Europe

The US is taking a go-slow approach on one of the touchiest and least discussed national security issues: whether to remove the last remaining Cold War-era U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe.

Some officials in Germany and other U.S. allies in Europe are advocating a withdrawal, citing President Barack Obama's call last year for a nuclear-free world. But the U.S. is putting off an early decision, preferring to consult within NATO, starting at a meeting of foreign ministers in April that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to attend, according to several Obama administration officials.

The officials discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because details are secret and the administration is in the midst of an internal review of the role and purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The estimated 200 weapons in Europe are a fraction of that total.

Results of the review, originally due to Congress in December, have been delayed repeatedly and now aren't expected before April.

The study, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, is expected to call for a reduced role for nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy, as reflected in the substantial reductions being negotiated with Russia in a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START.

That negotiation does not apply to the U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, which are categorized as "nonstrategic" because they are short-range bombs designed to be launched by fighter jets based in Europe - including by NATO members' jets.

Ivo Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said on Feb. 23 that the review "will not make any decisions that preclude any option with respect to nuclear weapons and NATO."

The START negotiations aim to reduce U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear weapons, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles carried on submarines. Talks have bogged down for months. The White House said Obama on Saturday had an "encouraging" telephone conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about prospects for an early end to the arms negotiations.

The bombs in Europe are a sensitive subject because they reflect a long-standing U.S. military and political commitment to the defense of its European allies, who have relied on the U.S. nuclear "umbrella" as an alternative to developing their own nuclear weapons.

Washington has a similar commitment to Asian allies, including Japan and South Korea, but it has maintained that role with U.S.-based long-range nuclear weapons. Asia-based U.S. nuclear arms were withdrawn in the early 1990s by President George H.W. Bush.

The U.S. government as a matter of policy will not confirm the location of U.S. nuclear weapons, but it is well known that the sites in Europe are in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey. The U.S. has had nuclear arms in Europe since the 1950s.

Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, which advocates nuclear arms control, believes the administration is inclined to remove the nuclear weapons from Europe but wants to take a cautious approach.

"The Obama administration came in with a strong pledge to mend ties with the allies, and so the last thing it wants to be seen to do is to make a decision over the heads of the allies," he said in an interview Sunday. "The U.S. would move these weapons tomorrow if this were just its own decision."

One apparent impediment to an early withdrawal of the weapons is the view of newer members of NATO - those closer to Russia, such as the three Baltic states, which were former Soviet republics. They see the U.S. weapons as an important symbol of a NATO guarantee of their territorial integrity.

Older NATO members see it differently.

Five of them - Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Norway - in February called for consultations on the question of a U.S. nuclear withdrawal, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said this month that "a hot issue like our nuclear posture" will be on the agenda, beginning at the April foreign ministers meeting.

The consultations are likely to last for months, possibly into 2011.

Parliament members from several European NATO countries are circulating a letter to be sent to Obama stating that the elimination of short-range nuclear weapons in Europe is an urgent matter and should be addressed once the U.S. and Russia complete their START treaty.

"It is the sincere wish of the majority of people in Europe that tactical nuclear weapons are withdrawn from Europe and eliminated," the letter says, according to a copy published by the Global Security Institute, an international group that advocates nuclear disarmament.

The traditional U.S. view of the nuclear bombs in Europe is that they are a pillar of NATO unity and that they link U.S. and NATO security. Even so, they are not targeted at any specific country and the aircraft used to launch them are not as ready for combat as in years past.

An in-depth study of the issue by an expert panel assembled by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, made public one month before Obama took office, said that since 1995 the aircrafts' ability to go into combat with the bombs "is now measured in months rather than minutes."

That study also revealed internal NATO divisions, saying that some senior U.S. officials at NATO's military command headquarters in Mons, Belgium, do not support having U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. It quoted one unnamed U.S. general as saying that the weapons are not needed because the American role of deterring a nuclear attack on its allies can be performed with weapons outside Europe.

Budget cut plan for KPK is a warning: House deputy speaker

House of Representatives deputy speaker Anis Matta from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) says the recent idea to cut the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) budget is a warning for the antigraft body to be more serious in handling the Bank Century bailout.

"Initially, the KPK wanted an audit to be conducted on the Bank Century bailout, but when the audit is published we can see the commission is reluctant to follow it up," he told reporters at the House on Monday.

"The KPK needs to investigate the case more seriously to maintain the public trust on its image, which has been considered as trustworthy," he added.

The Bank Century case revolves around a bailout that ten folded to Rp 6.76 trillion (US$716 million). It was authorized in November 2008 by the then Bank Indonesia governor, Boediono, now Vice President, and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

Firms given two years to come clean

The government has warned companies operating without environmental standards to start complying with environmental regulations, giving them a two-year grace period before it starts revoking business permits.

Companies without environmental impact assessment (EIA) have until October 2011 to submit an environmental audit.

“Two years is more than enough time for companies to prepare an environmental audit,” Ilyas Asaad, an environmental compliance official at the Environment Ministry said Thursday.

The audit will assess businesses’ levels of compliance with government policies to protect the environment.

“If they fail to meet the deadline, the companies will be deemed as operating illegally. We will impose sanctions as stipulated in the 2009 Environmental Law,” he said.

Ilyas said there were thousands companies believed to be operating without EIAs.

The need for an environmental audit is stipulated in the 2009 Environmental Law, which says that if businesses fail to fulfill their obligations on environmental audits, the Environment Ministry can assign an independent auditor to assess the company.

Police collect evidence on PKS's Misbakhun case

The National Police said Thursday they had collected evidence on the alleged fictitious letter of credit (L/C) issued by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Muhammand Misbakhun to Bank Century.

"We have questioned witnesses," National Police detective chief Comr. Gen. Ito Sumardi said Thursday.

However, he said, police had not yet decided whether the L/C was fictitious or not.

There is no plan to increase fuel prices: finance minister

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said Thursday that the government had no plan to raise fuel prices as long as the assumptions in the 2010 State Budget remained unchanged.

Sri Mulyani said the assumptions included the crude oil price of US$75 per barrel, the exchange rate of Rp 9,500 (US$9) per US dollar, and the domestic fuel consumption of 36 million kiloliters.

"As long as those assumptions work well, fuel prices will not rise. I call on the people to remain calm and I will manage the state budget prudently," she said as quoted by

Dulmatin's wife, kids leave home in Sukoharjo

Wife of dead terrorist Dulmatin, Istiada, and her six children have left their home in Tulakan hamlet, Sukoharjo regency, Central Java.

A neighbor said Istiada and her children, who just moved to Tulakan from Pemalang regency in February this year, were taken by several people aboard a car.

Istiada's latest whereabouts is now unknown.

Dulmatin was killed in a police raid in Pamulang, south of Jakarta on Tuesday.

Police to question Anand next Monday

Enny Wulandari , The Jakarta Post

Jakarta Police have announced they will question spiritual guru Anand Krishna on March 15, in relation to sexual harassment claims made against him.

The city police spokesman, Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar, said Thursday that Anand would be questioned as a witness at 10 a.m.

One of Anand's students, Tara Pradipta Laksmi, filed a report against the spiritual guru for sexual harassment last month.

She said she was hypnotized by Anand when the molestation took place, leaving her unable to refuse his advances. Anand has repeatedly denied the accusation.

China orders reporters trained in Marxist theory

The Associated Press

China will toughen requirements for reporters by launching a new certificatio system that requires training in Marxist and communist theories of news, a media official said, citing problems with the current crop of mainland journalists.

The South China Morning Post reported Thursday that Li Dongdong, deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, said some eporters were giving Chinese journalism a bad name because they hadn't been properly trained. She didn't give any specific examples.

Similar comments by Li were posted on the Web site of the official Xinhua News Agency. It was not clear how such training would be administered, but foreign journalists are exempt.

Communist theories of journalism say media should serve the leadership and not undermine its initiatives - a stark contrast to the independent government wahdog role many democracies embrace.

Government censors keep a tight grip on news content and routinely ban reporting on issues deemed too politically sensitive or destabilizing, and many media outlets in China serve as mouthpieces for the state.

But recently some have become more freewheeling since newspapers and broadcasters began relying increasingly on advertising instead of just Communist Party patronage for their survival. Some have run afoul of the government for reporting accurately on stories that officials didn't want publicized.

There have been also problems with reporters demanding payment for positive news coverage or to bury a story, and instances of reporters fabricating news.

"Comrades who are going to be working on journalism's front lines must learn theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics and be taught Marx's view on news, plus media ethics and Communist Party discipline on news and propaganda," Li told Xinhua on Monday.

A senior editor with the Beijing-based Economic Observer said this week he had been punished for co-authoring an editorial that urged the government to scrap an unpopular household registration system, saying it discriminated against the poor.

ASEAN education officials meet in Jakarta, action plan

Dina Indrasafitri , The Jakarta Post

High ranking education officials from Southeast Asian countries met Thursday in Jakarta to discuss a number of issues and future plans, including harmonizing higher education in Southeast Asia, assuring a quality framework and implementing mobile learning programs.

This year marks the fourth meeting of director generals, secretary-generals and commissioners of higher education in Southeast Asian Region. Countries in which these officials work in are members of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Higher Education and Development (SEAMEO RIHED).

SMEAO itself was established in 1965.

One of the key issues to be discussed at the meeting is promoting student mobility in Southeast Asia. This program will help university students transfer their studying credit from one university in one ASEAN country to another. This program will commence this year in the form of a pilot project between three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

"So even though he is at the UI [the University of Indonesia] and he studies in Thailand for a semester, the UI will have to consider credit points and the grades he obtained in Thailand as part of the learning process in UI from Thailand," the Education Ministry directorate general of higher education Fasli Jalal said.

There are several subjects included in the pilot project: agriculture, tourism, language and culture, food technology and international business.

The media also heard about the urgency of setting up a quality assurance network for the Southeast Asian region.

"We hope in the next five years we will have a team of [quality assurance] assessors...," Supachai Yavaprabhas, director of SEAMEO RIHED, said.

Damages during fatal raids in Pamulang to be compensated

Multa Fidrus , The Jakarta Post-The police will pay for compensation to all damage caused by Tuesday’s fatal raids at the Multiplus Internet cafe in Pamulang, South Tangerang.

“The ant-terror squad chief, Sr. Comr. Petrus Golize, promised that the police would pay for the compensation to all damage Friday,” Linda Diana, Internet café manager, said Thursday.

Linda said the deadly raids had damaged the ceiling on the second floor of the Internet cafe and several computers sets, as well as several other facilities.

However, she could not calculate the amount of loss from the damage because the police had the door key to the cafe.

Multiplus Internet café, where wanted terror suspect Dulmatin was killed in gun shootouts, was still guarded by the police as of Thursday.

Many residents were curious to see the incident site, causing traffic congestion on nearby streets.

Separately, Tangerang Mayor Wahidin Halim admitted that Fauzi Syarif, the owner of the house used by the terror suspects, is an official at the municipal administration.

He said Fauzi works as the administrative staff chief at a public health center in Karang Tengah district.

Police officers also guarded Fauzi's house, where two terrors suspects identified as Nur Hasan and Ridwan were shot dead.

President told to reopen Munir case

A solidarity group for the murdered activist Munir has given the President a list of legal options to unravel the mystery behind the murder after the last suspect in the case was exonerated by the Supreme Court.

The Solidarity Action Committee for Munir (Kasum) on Tuesday met with the presidential advisor Jimly Asshiddiqie.

The group’s coordinator, Usman Hamid, said his team had proposed several possible ways to find the long-awaited justice in the murder of Munir Said Thalib on board a Garuda Indonesia flight to Amsterdam in 2004.

“We gave our recommendations to Pak Jimly to be forwarded the President,” he added.
Among the recommendations is a call for the police to open a new investigation into the case to find new evidence and new suspects.

Choirul Anam, a member of Kasum, said the investigation should not start from scratch.

“Instead, police should use the facts that have been revealed in previous trials and use the facts that were uncovered in the dossier but were never brought to trial,” he added.

They also demanded President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono immediately consider the recommendations made by an independent public examination team set up by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

The examination team was established in February last year to verify a 2008 court verdict that acquitted former deputy of the National Intelligence Body (BIN), Muchdi Purwopranjono, who was accused of masterminding the murder.

Kasum also asked the President to ensure that a case review request on the verdict would be filed immediately.

The team recommended that Muchdi be retrialed, saying that the legal process omitted several facts that would have allegedly exposed the involvement of certain parties, including the BIN and national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia.

Jimly said Kasum has brought in some realistic recommendations and others that were difficult to be realized.

“[Their recommendations of measures] to prevent such cases from happening again in the future can be discussed; but those that relate to cases past will take longer and be more difficult to discuss,” he added.

He declined to elaborate on which of Kasum’s recommendations are more feasible than others.
“I do not think their recommendations are possible — whether it is for future prevention or for finding the solution for past cases — to be realized; those things are not easy [to do],” Jimly said.

Usman said Jimly preferred to “push for a new investigation into the case should a case review proves to be problematic”.

Jimly said, “I cannot promise anything because I am only one member [of the advisory council].”
He, however, promised to discuss the matter with the other council members before going to the

“For a part of our society, Munir’s death is an unfinished business. And the state has to find the solution.

“But they have to be realistic at the same time. For me, Munir has become a symbol. This alone should be something to be thankful for.

This does not mean the case is solved, but we need to discuss which of [Kasum’s recommendations] are possible and which are difficult,” he said.

House questions plan to raise power tariff

The House of Representatives questioned on Tuesday the government’s proposal to raise the base electricity tariff by 15 percent, saying PLN’s efficiency should be audited first.

“It’s not fair if the public and the state budget must be burdened due to inefficiency within PLN. Therefore, we will ask the BPK [state audit agency] to carry out an audit of PLN’s performance,” Chairman of the House’s budget committee Harry Azhar Azis said Tuesday.

Harry added the audit results would be taken into consideration by the House in responding to the government’s proposal.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati announced Monday that the government might increase the electricity tariff fairly soon.

“There is a possibility that the electricity tariff will be increased by 15 percent starting from July 2010,” Mulyani said as quoted by Antara newswire.

The government said it would not raise the tariff in the first half of the year in a bid to maintain current economic growth. “For various reasons, we will not raise the tariff in the first half of the year as we are focusing on improving electricity services so that blackouts will no longer occur,” Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s director general for electricity and energy use J. Purwono said the 15 percent figure mentioned by the finance minister was the average figure. “The increase will vary depending on the customer category,” Purwono said, adding that this matter would be discussed further with the House.

“Whether the tariff will be increased or not, and how much the increase will be, are subject to the House’s approval,” Purwono said.

Harry said the House budget committee was looking forward to hear more detail explanations about the proposal. “We need to know further about which customers will be affected by the policy,” Harry said.

Harry added that he personally wanted the policy would not affect the lower middle class in the society. “Higher spending on electricity may make them reduce their spending on health and education,” he said.

“I have no problems with reducing the spending on the electricity subsidy , because the amount saved can be used to build economic infrastructure,” he quickly added.

Lawmaker Satya Widya Yudha from the House Commission VII overseeing energy and mineral resources said the commission would evaluate whether it is the right time to increase the electricity tariff. “We will study the way the 15 percent figure is determined considering that our economic growth is only 5.5 percent. We will also see whether this is the right time for the tariff increase,” he said.

PLN’s president director Dahlan Iskan refused to comment on the government’s proposal. “The tariff increase is in the government’s domain,” he said.

RI, Malaysia promote new approach to CPO exports

Indonesia and Malaysia — the world’s two largest crude palm oil (CPO) producers — seek to jointly professionalize dispute management on environmental issues and public relations to counter EU negative campaigns.

Indonesian Palm Oil Board vice chairman Derom Bangun admitted that a memorandum of cooperation between the two countries’ producers just inked last Friday did not include a dispute settlement mechanism if CPO buyers unilaterally revoked contracts with their suppliers over environmental issues.

“No, there is no specific point [on a dispute settlement mechanism stipulated in the memorandum],” he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

“[But] perhaps that will be in place later during the joint implementation of the memorandum. What was signed was only a cooperation framework,” he said.

The memorandum was signed by the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) and the
Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA).

The Indonesian Oil Palm Farmers Association (Apkasindo),the Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation
Owners Association (SOPPOA),the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and the Association
of Plantation Investors of Malaysia in Indonesia (APIMI) are also

The memorandum is aimed at mitigating negative campaigns on palm oil, while setting up a task force on best sustainable development practices, Antara reported.

Agriculture Minister Suwono, who also attended the signing, said Indonesia and Malaysia, controlling 85 percent of the world’s output and could control global prices, as well as fight negative campaigning which claimed producers were clearing rainforests illegally.

Indonesia’s CPO production last year topped 20 million tons and is projected to reach 40 million tons in 2020. Suswono said cooperation was to help prevent repetition of unilateral revocation of supply contracts on the lines of the Netherlands-based consumer goods giant Unilever which had ended deals with Duta Palma and PT SMART.

In December, Unilever said in a statement that it had suspended all future purchases of palm oil worth up to US$33 million from SMART after obtaining photographic evidence of Sinar Mas clearing protected rainforests, including reserves for Indonesia‘s endangered orangutan population.

SMART, Indonesia ’s largest CPO producer, is a Sinar Mas Group subsidiary. Unilever was following up a report by the environmental NGO Greenpeace that had detailed serious allegations against the environmental practices of Sinar Mas.

Two months later, Unilever blacklisted Indonesian planter Duta Palma and told its dealers not to source palm oil from that company on concerns over rainforest destruction, Reuters reported.

Duta Palma corporate secretary Sasanti dismissed Unilever’s allegation that it had destroyed forests to produce CPO, Bisnis Indonesia daily reported in its Feb. 27 issue. For the time being, Derom, who is also the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association’s (Gapki) representative in the Malaysia-headquartered Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), said disputing parties could report to the RSPO by also providing clear evidence to help settle any case of unilateral revocation.

What we could expect from Obama’s visit

Barring any unforeseen trouble ahead, US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Indonesia and Australia in the second half of March.

For both President Obama and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), the visit will be a welcome diversion from domestic political headaches that currently grip both leaders.

Of course, this will also be a great photo opportunity for both Presidents. Obama will be able to show the folks back home that he is still the most popular president on the face of the Earth and still commands respect and admiration from a country with the highest Muslim population in the world.

Meanwhile, SBY will relish the international spotlight while showing off Indonesia as one of the most beautiful and important countries in the world.

The million-dollar question is what Indonesia should expect from President Obama’s visit.
The bad news is that Indonesia should not expect too much from this visit. Aside from reaffirming Indonesia as one of the US’s major trading and security partners and his personal visit to his childhood “kampung” in Menteng, it is very unlikely that Obama will bring anything major to the table.

With the US congress is in uproar thanks to his healthcare mess and the US economy just starting its slow rebound, Obama’s options are limited.

On the other hand, in light of Indonesia’s recent successes in tackling radical Muslims (e.g. Noordin M. Top), considering Indonesia’s willingness to help the US over the past several years, and not to mention Obama’s personal attachment to Indonesia, SBY needs to capitalize on this occasion to press the US on several important aspects, notably on the issue of trade, security and education.

Trade, of course, will always be one of the most important aspects of this visit. Aside of course, hoping to increase US investment in Indonesia, President Yudhoyono should also focus on trying to increase Indonesia’s exports to the US.

Facing the flood of cheap Chinese goods, thanks to the implementation of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, Indonesian manufacturers need to increase exports, especially on high-quality or highly specialized goods in order to survive.

Regardless of the economic crisis and high unemployment rate, the US remains one of the richest countries and one of the largest markets in the world.

Its economy has also improved far better than those in Europe. As a result, Indonesia needs to try to increase its market share in the US.

The second important aspect is the military aspect. While the US had lifted its arms embargo on Indonesia, Indonesia still faces difficulties in procuring more arms from the US due to cost, bureaucratic hassle and congressional hostility. Of course, it can be argued the Indonesian military needs to undergo structural reform first.

Still, the fact remains the Indonesian military is vastly under-equipped and needs more equipment and spare parts to defend the huge expanses of Indonesian territory.

As US forces are stretched thin due to commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and all over the world, the US needs a friendly Indonesia to maintain the stability of the region in the face of threats from a rising China and radical religious terrorists, not to mention criminal elements such as human traffickers or drug smugglers. It is only fair the US help Indonesia modernize and equip its military forces.

While the US Congress, especially the Democrats, are usually pretty hostile and critical toward the Indonesian military, Obama actually could persuade his Democrat party colleagues and more friendly Republican congressmen to back more military aid to Indonesia in order to improve regional security and stability.

The debate over the US policy on Afghanistan showed that Republicans were more than willing to support President Obama’s military buildup, so Obama just needs to convince his Democratic colleagues to support more military aid to Indonesia by arguing that it is in the interest of improving regional security.

The third important aspect is education, especially more opportunity for civilians and military officers to pursue higher education at American universities.

While the quality of Indonesian education is steadily improving, Indonesia still needs more capable civil and military scholars to help further improve its higher education institutions.

In addition, SBY should urge American universities to open branches in Indonesia, as they have in Singapore.

For the US, this is a win-win proposition, an increase in the number of Indonesian scholars studying there means that they will be immersed in American values and share them back in Indonesia when they return.

These scholars can help improve the image of the US and its reputation in Indonesia, which took major beatings under George W. Bush.

On military affairs, as Indonesian Army officers become more professional, they will help reform the Indonesian military and strengthen democracy in Indonesia.

In the end, while Indonesia should not expect much from Obama’s visit, SBY still needs to capitalize on it and push for more cooperation in trade, security and education.

Herbal cures touted for treating cancer

While herbal remedies have increasingly gained better place in the society here in Indonesia, the use of them in therapy is still welcomed with indifference by medical practitioners, an observer says.

The reason is simple: Very few of these remedies are clinically tested, Aldrin Neilwan, secretary-general of the Herbal Doctors Association of Indonesian (PDHMI), said.

“So far we’ve never recommended the use of herbal medicine for therapy. We can’t, however, forbid patients from taking them, as long as they consult with us,” he said.

Despite the lack of clinical tests to prove the effectiveness and safety of herbal therapy, he said, there was an increase in its use over the last few years, especially among cancer patients, mainly driven by the prohibitively high cost of imported drugs.

Aldrin, a doctor at state-run Dharmais Cancer Hospital in Central Jakarta, said 80 percent of the hospital’s patients used herbal remedies in combination with the medical treatment they received.
“It is our duty as doctors to educate them in using herbal remedies,” he said.

A common misconception among cancer patients, Aldrin said, was that they can use herbal remedies in place of chemotherapy. “Herbal remedies can only be used to supplement the main treatment.”

He acknowledged, however, that herbal remedies could be effective in preventing disease and promoting health, and could be useful in the palliative and rehabilitative stages of cancer treatment.

Some herbal remedies have proven to be effective on cancer patients, he said, by working to enhance their immune systems so it can fight cancer cells.

Others, Aldrin added, contained high amounts of antioxidants that combat free radicals, often a trigger in the formation of cancer cells.

He was speaking at a seminar entitled “The Use of Herbal Remedies in Supporting Cancer Treatment”, which was attended by cancer patients and their families.

He said the event was aimed at giving cancer patients a better understanding of the effectiveness and safety of herbal remedies, which he said were often mistakenly viewed as effective medication with no side effects.

Dharmais spokesman Bambang Purwanto said the hospital was trying to develop herbal remedies for cancer treatment in an effort to provide more affordable and less toxic alternative treatments for cancer patients.

Aldrin named three other hospitals in Indonesia also developing herbal remedies: Persahabatan Hospital in East Jakarta, Dr. Soetomo Hospital in Surabaya, and Kandou Malalayang Hospital in Manado.

Many Indonesians practice the tradition of drinking herbal concoctions called jamu. Several jamu producers have evolved into large companies but traditional producers remain popular and sell their elixirs without certification.

Not afraid to dream


The 18-year-old 2009 Putri Indonesia Qory Sandioriva is not afraid to dream.

In fact, the Aceh representative for Indonesia’s beauty pageant told The Jakarta Post that in the long run, she not only aspired to be a musician, but also a diplomat and the president of Indonesia.

But for now, it is all about being Miss Universe.

She was sitting in a classroom of the ILP language school after her public speaking class with Putri Indonesia runner-ups zukhriatul Hafizah and Isti Ayu Pratiwi.

The Putri Indonesia Foundation, organizer of the Putri Indonesia pageant, has been working with ILP since 2007 to teach winners of the pageant public speaking skills when addressing crowds in English.

The training was also part of Qory’s preparation for the Miss Universe pageant. In 2006, then Putri Indonesia Nadine Chandrawinata – who spoke limited English – mistakenly referred to Indonesia as a beautiful city, an honest mistake that made her a laughingstock on the Internet.

Speaking to the Post, Qory talked about how difficult it was to learn another language, the protests over her not wearing a headscarf in the Putri Indonesia pageant while representing the sharia-ruled Aceh province, her dreams and her role models.

“Honestly, I find it difficult to speak in public if it is not in my native language,” she said. “But, I am learning to engage with the audience through body language and eye contact.”

“I find my self-confidence is growing. In other words, whether I make mistakes [in English] or not, I keep going forward,” she said.

She will still have an interpreter during the Miss Universe pageant, she said, to make sure her messages come across the right way.

In her public speaking class, she had to present a PowerPoint slide show on Indonesian tigers to a group of native English speakers. She was also asked to discuss women issues such as the role of headscarves and women in Indonesian society.

Qory said her daily schedule was packed with all sorts of classes preparing her for the Miss Universe pageant, from public speaking classes at ILP to lessons at the Mooryati Soedibyo training center.

She follows local and international news to keep up with current affairs and as Indonesia’s Tiger Ambassador, she also has to monitor tiger conservation developments.

What else does Qory do? She regularly goes to spa for skin treatments and takes jamu (herbs) to stay healthy and slim.

“If you ask me whether I’m ready to be the Indonesian delegate for Miss Universe, then, yes, I’d have to say I am,” she said.

And while she of course aspires to win the international pageant, she said she wouldn’t push too hard. “I’ll just walk through it naturally.”

“I am hoping I will do better than Artika Sari Devi. Mba Artika ended up in the top 15 [in the Miss Universe pageant]. Hopefully, I can reach the top 10 or top five,” she said. Artika Sari Devi became Putri Indonesia 2004 and represented Indonesia in the 2005 Miss Universe pageant.

While senior clerics in Aceh have criticized her for “misrepresenting” her home province by not wearing the jilbab or Muslim headscarf, she is still the first woman representing the province to have won the Putri Indonesia title. Born and raised in Jakarta, Qory, of Aceh Gayo ethnicity, has in fact never worn a jilbab.

“I’m from Aceh. A lot of people say I have to wear a jilbab. I stick to my principles. I’m a Muslim. The choice to wear a jlbab is personal,” she said.

Aceh is the country’s only province that applies Islamic sharia law, and in September the local legislature endorsed a set of strict Islamic codes, or qanun, including a controversial ruling allowing the caning and stoning to death of adulterers.

“Thank god, I managed to stay calm about the controversy [surrounding her representation of Aceh]. I appreciate everyone who gave his or her opinion. Indonesia is a democratic country, everyone is free to have an opinion,” she said.

“Even though the comments were negative, I’ll still take away the positives. I’ll learn from what people have given me,” she added.

“I love Indonesia. Whatever people say, I’ll stay positive. I will not let myself feel down,” she said.
Qory said she would be herself when representing Indonesia in the Miss Universe pageant.

“In my view, Indonesian women have had the freedom to choose, be independent, even before Indonesia was free from colonial rule. I want to keep that image,” she said.

Her role models include Acehnese heroine Cut Nyak Dien and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

“They are humble women who are true to themselves. They love their family and home country, and they have a strong sense of struggle to fight for their country – jihad in the right way,” she said referring to the Islamic term for struggle.

“I want to be the president of Indonesia,” she said.

Currently studying French Literature at the University of Indonesia, Qory also has plans to study International Relations to become a diplomat.

Her dream is to promote Indonesian art and culture through diplomacy. She added that she chose French Literature because France is a country where art is highly appreciated.

Politics aside, Qory said she had a musical side to her as well. Having learned classical, jazz and pop piano, she is currently taking singing classes.

“I want to sing while playing the piano…That will be my life long passion.”

Cell Phones Latest Tool to Beat HIV-AIDS in Africa

Mobile phones may be a key weapon in the war against HIV and AIDS in Africa, says to the UNAIDS chief. The relatively new technology has a role to play in a continent plagued by inadequate health centres and dilapidated infrastructure, said Michel Sidibe, the executive director of the United Nations AIDS agency.

“You can talk about different policies, about capacity building, but you can’t beat this kind of epidemic with facility-based approach only,” he added. A major mobile telephone operator in Nigeria already runs a toll-free call scheme that links callers to counsellors on HIV-AIDS concerns. “It’s a fascinating initiative,” said Sidibe.

“Its advantage is that you don’t have to move from your place to a centre where... you may be stigmatised. “You have free communication and quality advice, which can help you take a decision.” With basic intensive training and armed with mobile phones, local community or village workers could be a part of the health service delivery system, he said.

For despite the resources poured in years into Sub-Saharan Africa to combat HIV-AIDS, the region remains the world’s most heavily affected, accounting for 67 percent of HIV infections, according to UNAIDS’ own figures. “You need first to look at a community-based approach, tap on non-conventional facilities,” Sidibe told AFP during a recent trip to Nigeria.

It was time that Africa, saddled with a myriad of economic, political and social woes, got back to basics, he argued. “I don’t think in any of our African countries we will be able to wait to have professionals, or to have enough of those people.” “It is time to reinforce our capacity to use the modern technology differently,” he said.

Africa, a continent with one of the highest numbers with access to cellular phones, should take advantage of the digital revolution to reach out widely, he said. “It’s something we need to start replicating in Africa, remember we have more mobile phones in African than in north America,” he added.

Nigeria has more than 70 million cellphone line subscribers: about one line for every two people. A pilot project using cellphones is underway in the Nigeria’s northern Kaduna State and southwestern Ondo State.

Village workers — who have barely been through secondary school — have been trained to identify symptoms of minor ailments. They tour villages examining patients and use their mobile phones to call up trained medical workers at a major referral centre to get diagnosis and prescriptions dictated over the phone.

“Community health workers go out with a mobile phone connected to a central referral hospital, can take temperatures... and doctors at the referral units advise on drugs to administer,” said Sidibe.

“Using all these types of approaches can help us improve information systems and expand delivery by reaching the poor in the community,” he said. Despite prevention measures, which he said had helped avert 400,000 new infections in the past eight years on the continent, sub-Saharan Africa had the highest number of new infections in 2008.

The rate runs at 71 percent according to UNAIDS. Most of those infected were sex workers, drug users and homosexual males.

About three million Nigerians, or just under five percent of Africa’s most populous nation are infected with HIV. Sidibe said he visited Nigeria and South Africa because the two economic giants account for more than 50 percent of all HIV cases in Africa.

`Basterds' Star Waltz Wins Supporting-Actor Oscar

Christoph Waltz won the supporting-actor Academy Award on Sunday for his role as a sociable fiend of a Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds."

The first award of Oscar night went to Austrian-born Waltz, a veteran stage and television actor in Europe who had been virtually unknown in Hollywood before Quentin Tarantino cast him as the prattling, ruthless Jew-hunter Hans Landa in his World War II saga.

His award was presented by last season's supporting-actress winner, Penelope Cruz, who gave Waltz a kiss as he took the stage.

"Oscar and Penelope. That's an uber-bingo," Waltz said.

Waltz beat four Hollywood veterans: Matt Damon for "Invictus," Woody Harrelson for "The Messenger," Christopher Plummer for "The Last Station" and Stanley Tucci for "The Lovely Bones."

An Oscar for Waltz seemed a foregone conclusion since last May, when "Inglourious Basterds" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won him the acting prize there.

Waltz delivers a virtuoso performance as charming but deadly opportunist Landa, expertly flinging about Tarantino's manic dialogue in four different languages.

The actor creates one of the great screen heavies, a lovably loathsome psycho who gets an agonizing comeuppance at the hands of Brad Pitt, playing the leader of a band of Allied Jewish commandos that terrorizes the enemy, collecting German scalps and carving swastikas into Nazis' foreheads.

"Quentin with his unorthodox methods of navigation, this fearless explorer, took this ship across and brought it in with flying colors, and that's why I'm here," Waltz said. "This is your welcoming embrace, and there's no way I can ever thank you enough."

Oscar voters are expected to go very big or very small on their best-picture choice. The two favorites in the expanded field of 10 best-picture nominees are the as-big-as-it-gets blockbuster "Avatar" and the critical darling "The Hurt Locker," which drew a tiny fraction of the audience its mammoth competitor pulled in.

Either movie would represent a first at the Oscars. James Cameron's "Avatar" would be the only science-fiction film ever to take home the best-picture prize. While war films have done well at the Oscars, Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" would be the first winner centered on the war on terror, a subject that has stirred little interest among movie audiences shell-shocked by news coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The other eight films competing for best picture: the football drama "The Blind Side," the sci-fi thriller "District 9," the British teen tale "An Education," the World War II saga "Inglourious Basterds," the Harlem story "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," the Jewish domestic chronicle "A Serious Man," the animated adventure "Up," and the recession-era yarn "Up in the Air."

Intermittent showers and then a downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning pounded Hollywood Sunday afternoon, but a plastic tent over the red carpet kept celebrities dry as they entered the Kodak Theatre.

"It's a beautiful day," said Anika Noni Rose, a voice star of "The Princess and the Frog," nominated for best animated feature.

Among other celebrities arriving early were "Precious" stars Mo'Nique and Paula Patton, accompanied by her husband, soul singer Robin Thicke, Anna Kendrick of "Up in the Air" and Ed Asner, voice star of "Up."

Fans in bleachers yelled out as they spotted stars in the red carpet gridlock.

"Tina Fey, you rock!" screamed Pauline An, 38, of Golden, Colo., drawing a thumbs-up reply.

"This is my first Oscars and the Saints won the Super Bowl — I couldn't ask for anything more," said "The Hurt Locker" star Anthony Mackie.

Leaders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences widened the best-picture category from the usual five films to expand the range of contenders for a ceremony whose predictability had turned it into a humdrum affair for TV audiences.

Oscar ratings fell to an all-time low two years ago and rebounded just a bit last year, when the show's overseers freshened things up with lively production numbers and new ways of presenting some awards.

The overhaul continues this season with a show that farmed out time-consuming lifetime-achievement honors to a separate event last fall and hired Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as the first dual Oscar hosts in 23 years.

But Sunday's ABC Oscar broadcast could have several million fewer viewers after the network switched off its signal to 3.1 million Cablevision subscribers in the greater New York area in a dispute over fees.

Going into the show, Oscar frontrunners "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" lead with nine nominations each, including director for Cameron and Bigelow, who have a personal history that spices up the competition. They were married from 1989-91.

Cameron took the directing prize at the Golden Globes, but Bigelow earned the top honor from the Directors Guild of America, whose recipient almost always wins the same award at the Oscars.

If it happens, Bigelow would be the first woman in the 82-year history of the Oscars to win best director. Four first-time winners are expected to triumph in the acting categories.

Audience darling Sandra Bullock is the best-actress favorite for "The Blind Side," which brought her the first Oscar nomination of her career. Jeff Bridges, nominated four times previously without a win, looks like a lock for best actor for the country-music tale "Crazy Heart."

Both Bullock and Bridges already had won other awards this weekend. At Friday's Spirit Awards honoring independent film, Bridges earned the best-actor prize for "Crazy Heart."

On Oscar eve Saturday night, Bullock won the worst-actress prize at the Razzies for her romantic comedy flop "All About Steve." A good sport about her worst-actress nomination throughout awards season, Bullock was a rare winner who showed up to accept her Razzie, tugging a little red wagon full of DVDs of "All About Steve" for the Razzies audience.

Boas Dared to Fight Terrorism till The End of His Life

Among the anti-terror squad, Densus 88 mobile brigade, First Brigadier Boas Woasiri has been known to be a strong and courageous soldier. He proved his mettle during the raid on the terrorists in Bayu woods, Lamkabeu, Seulimeum, Aceh Besar.

Unfortunately, he had to pay the ultimate price, he was killed in action. Boas was shot by a terrorist during the raid.

A source from the mobile brigade recounted that before the fatal shot, Boas had already been grazed by a bullet. "He was grazed by a terrorist's bullet," the source revealed to, before the burial of Boas in Pemuliaan Cemetery, at the training grounds HQ, Cikeas, Bogor, West Java, Sunday.

Boas was still lucky that the first bullet didn't hit any vital organ. Although wounded, he was able to survive the battle, and furthermore, the initial would enraged him. He then rushed to chase the terrorist who shot him. "Maybe he got emotional, he jumped into pursuit."

Boas' chase led to his death. Throwing caution to the wind, he chased the terrorists, even to the area beyond the police's net. Boas was berserking. "He gave chase without body armor. He probably thought he was invincible."

Shots were exchanged in greater intensity. Luck didn't favor Boas a second time as he was shot down.

The source admitted that Boas was a brave soldier. His colleagues acknowledged his bravery on the field. "In the face of combat, he was courageous."

Boas wasn't the only casualty. Two others from the Aceh mobile brigade were also killed during the raid. Second Brigadier Darmansyah and Second Brigadier Suhandri Kusumo Malau were also killed by the Aceh terrorists.

Second Brigadier Darmansyah and Second Brigadier Suhandri Kusumo Malau have been interred in Aceh. The police have given honors and awards for the three deceased soldiers.

First Brigadier Boas Woasiri, Second Brigadier Darmansyah and Second Brigadier Suhandri Kusumo Malau have been promoted and given posthumous awards. They've all been made brigadiers.

8 Cases Worth of Being Bartered with Century

Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) listed at least eight cases most likely to be bartered to settle the Century Bank scandal. These eight cases implicate upper echelon politicians from parties whose views are on the direct opposite of the Democratic Party's regarding Century Bank's scandal.

"ICW listed eight major cases, whether of corruption, tax manipulation, banking crime such as fictive letters of credit, murder, or even cases from long ago such as suspicions of human rights violations in East Timor," stated ICW agency worker, Febridiansyah, Jakarta, Sunday.

According to Febri, these eight cases can potentially be drawn to the non-legal corridor and become bargaining chips if the government and law enforcers intentions aren't built upon the realization of the supremacy of the law. "The police, AGO, directorate general on taxation, or even the judicial mafia task force shouldn't be used as political tools to pressure and hamper the root problem of Century Bank's scandal from being exposed."

At least three cases threaten Golkar party, among which are tax crimes suspected of implicating Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie. There is also the case that might implicate Golkar fraction chief, who's suspected to be involved in the Association of Village Unit Cooperatives case, and a taxation case worth RP. 122 billion. In regards to these cases, the legislature's inquiry committee chief on Century Bank, Idrus Marham, is also insinuated to have known thoroughly about the rice transaction.

Besides with the party bearing the banyan tree, there's also the potential of case bartering with PDI-P, especially one politician, initialed ZEM, who's suspected to have received part of the Century Case disbursement.

The ICW also mentioned the case of the release and discharge (R&D) issued during the time of Megawati Soekarnoputri as being a potential bartering chip.

There are also cases about the suspected fictive L/C implicating a PKS cadre and regarding the prosecutor case-review plan for Munir's murder which implicates Muchdi PR. The latter might deter the Gerindra party. "Until now, the AGO's plan to submit a case-review is still on hold," Febri stated.

After Much Anticipation, It's Finally Oscar Time

The big day is here. Anticipation for the Academy Awards has been building all week, and finally, it's time.

The entire area around the Kodak Theatre is closed. Traffic is shut down on Hollywood Boulevard. Tourists can only get as close to the action as barricades and security will let them.

The stars are ready for their red-carpet arrivals, and the theater is ready to host the movie industry's biggest night.

Here's the latest:


BLEACHER CREATURES: Don't show up in front of the Kodak Theatre hoping to get a spot in the bleachers with the fans. Most of them planned six months in advance, registering online for a ticket lottery. Exactly 705 people won seats in the bleachers. They show up early, go through metal detectors and camp out for hours before the red carpet parade really starts. Some groups wear matching shirts and others plan their vacations around the event. Rick Grimaldi, 64, a dentist from Connellsville, Penn., brought his wife and daughter to Los Angeles for a long weekend. He said his patients back home were "insanely jealous. We got phone calls from people saying, 'You lucky dog.'"


OSCARS WEATHER UPDATE: Mother Nature was having her way with the Academy Awards red carpet. First the sun blasted through the clear plastic tarp, baking the fans in the bleachers. Then a sprinkle of rain fell. Drops of rain caused hot lights to explode. At first, fans were startled, but after three booms, they stopped jumping up to see what had happened and went back to screaming at Ryan Seacrest.


Fans waited hours in the sunshine before celebrities began to show up on the red carpet. The tedium was broken only by boxed lunches and watching TV crews set up. So when Mary Hart, the longtime host of Entertainment Tonight, stepped out to record teases for her show, the bleachers went crazy. Hart teetered on a wooden box, surrounded by a phalanx of cameras, lights, makeup artists and crew. A director cued the crowd to cheer and they obliged

"We have to cheer on cue and I'm getting hoarse," said Cindy Callihan, a retired administrative assistant from Riverside.

"I'm just waving and smiling. No screaming for me," said her friend, April Talbot.

Hart stopped to chat with fans, telling Pauline An, a bleacher fan who came from Golden, Colo., about how she started work at 10 a.m.

"Mary's so sweet," cooed Bobbye Welch, 63, a legal secretary from the San Fernando Valley.


OSCARS? WHAT OSCARS?: Angelenos studiously avoid the traffic nightmare that is Hollywood on Oscar weekend. Metro trains bypass the station underneath the red carpet all day Sunday and freeway exits are temporarily closed. Parking, which is never easy, becomes impossible. But tourists are often surprised to run into so much hubbub.

"Why are the streets closed?" asked Metta Kurniawan, 19, a petite young woman from Indonesia who was lugging two huge suitcases. She and her bleary-eyed friends, who had just arrived on an early bus from Las Vegas Sunday, had no idea that the Academy Awards would be held there in a few hours.

A police officer patiently explained that they'd have to walk several blocks out of their way to get around the red carpet.

"I'm crying now," Vicky Koo, 21, said. "I'm so tired."


BLOGGERS: Just in case there isn't enough Internet buzz about the Oscar red carpet, the motion picture academy and sponsor Kodak invited a few bloggers to tweet from the fan bleachers this year.

Marsha Takeda-Morrison, who blogs about parenting in Los Angeles at, posted a link to a photo of herself on Twitter. "Me on (OK — near) the Red Carpet!" she tweeted. "I think the companies are starting to see the power of social media and word of mouth," Takeda-Morrison said as she took her seat.

Her friend and fellow blogger Donna Schwartz Mills, who writes, tweeted to an online friend, "If I get the chance to kiss Colin Firth, I'll tell my husband it's for you."

Mills was rooting for "Up" or "Avatar" to win on behalf of her 13-year-old daughter. She said she wants Jeff Bridges to win best actor, because "he's always good and he's been overlooked for so many years." Bloggers on the carpet "adds a more personal touch," she said.


Security has gotten tighter every year since the Academy Awards moved to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, according to residents of the area. Onlookers on Sunday could only gaze at the end of the red carpet from across the street and behind a chain-link fence that confined them to the sidewalk.

"I have no idea what they're looking at, because it's just an empty carpet now," said 20-year Hollywood resident Alex Constantine, who was drinking his morning coffee outside a Starbuck's on Hollywood Boulevard. "I don't mind the commotion but security seems to be clamping down more every year."

People were lining up a block away, waiting for police officers to let them approach the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue and snap photos of the red carpet.

"The security is excessive, completely exaggerated," said Alfonso Puicercus, a hotel manager from Barcelona, Spain, who wanted to see the red carpet for himself. "They treat these stars like gods who can't mix with the rest of us. But they're not."

The motion picture academy does not comment on security issues, but Oscar veterans suggest the increased restrictions have more to do with worldwide terrorism than star treatment.


: Workers erected a clear plastic tarp above the Oscar red carpet to keep the rain off during Saturday's overnight storm. But it was still up on Sunday morning, and even though it was only 65 degrees outside at noon, the Southern California sunshine created a greenhouse effect on the carpet underneath.

It was even worse in the fan bleachers, where the sun beat down through the tarp and cooked the eager folks awaiting the parade of stars. People who came with sweaters and jackets and ready for a drizzle, stripped down to T-shirts and tank tops, fanning themselves with magazines. Others took refuge in the shade behind the bleachers.

Squinting fans slathered on sunscreen they found in the motion picture academy's gift bag and waited for the sun to set behind the building and for the stars to come out.


: Reporters, vendors and other non-famous folks had a chance to party like movie stars Saturday at the Governors Ball preview.

Guests got a glimpse at the art-deco, supper-club setting inside Hollywood & Highland's grand ballroom. They sampled the paella, sushi and tiny crab cakes that A-listers will eat Sunday after the telecast. Hundreds of waiters and the 18 members of the ball's all-girl band will wear costumes designed by party organizer Jeffrey Kurland.

"This is the first time we are extending the look and feel of the ball to the actual staff," he said, adding, "there will be 18 women in the orchestra dressed in the same gown."

He also called attention to the ball's new engraving station, where Oscar winners can have their trophies personalized instantly on site (winners used to have to send the statuettes to the film academy's headquarters in Beverly Hills to have their engraved nameplates attached).

Cheryl Cecchetto, who has designed Oscar's after-party for 23 years, said they were very proud of the fiber-optic crystal chandeliers and recessed lighting.

"We're very proud of this year," she said. "And we'll make it even better next year."


MIXED COMPANY: Monks mingled next to former General Motors employees at one especially electric Oscar soiree.

HBO honored the subjects and filmmakers from Oscar-nominated documentary films at a posh Saturday evening party in the Veranda Room at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Attendees included "Super Size Me" filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and Paul "Popeye" Hurst, a bearded toolmaker featured in "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant" from filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert.

"I don't care about the rules," Hurst joked while chatting with partygoers. "If they win, I'm going up on stage."

Former Washington governor and right-to-die advocate Booth Gardner, subject of "The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner" from Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher, planted himself at a table near a piano player while disabled Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Prudence Mabhena, subject of "Music by Prudence" from Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett, chatted with guests around the room.

Jon Alpret, co-director of the Oscar-nominated short documentary "China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province," cheerfully introduced his mother — his date to Sunday's ceremony — to other partygoers. The longtime documentary filmmaker said he was enthusiastic about his first Oscar nomination but acknowledged he wasn't totally in his element at the ritzy affair.

"Anything in Beverly Hills makes me feel weird," he said.


: It takes a star ship crew.

The three-person Oscar-nominated makeup team for "Star Trek" were quick to point out that it took dozens of hair and makeup artists to bring the Vulcans, Romulans and other species to life in the reimagined "Trek" during a Saturday afternoon symposium featuring this year's batch of Oscar-nominated hair and makeup artists.

"We're thrilled there were 40-plus makeup artists, 12 of which are out here today, who stood beside us," said "Trek" makeup department head Mindy Hall at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "They weren't behind us. They were beside us, taking the designs and bringing them to life."

Clips highlighting the work from the three nominated films were shown, and nominees took questions from the audience. The "Trek" makeup team, which also includes alien designers Joel Harlow and Barney Burman, revealed they went through seven different designs for the villainous blunt foreheaded Romulan race.

Other panelists included "Il Divo" hairstylist Aldo Signoretti. ("Il Divo" makeup artist Vittorio Sodano won't be attending the Oscars due to a death in his family. The hair and makeup team from "The Young Victoria," Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore, missed Saturday's panel because the Brits were stuck at the airport.)


GOING FOR THE GOLD: Argentine director Juan Jose Campanella isn't modest about his passion to win his first Oscar.

Campanella, whose crime drama "The Secret in Their Eyes" is nominated in the foreign language category, made no bones about his intense desire to take home a little gold man during a Saturday morning symposium featuring clips and the directors of the five nominated foreign language films.

"You put me in any game, and I want to win," Campanella declared. "There's nothing more boring than playing cards with four people who want to lose."

"The Secret in Their Eyes" is up against France's "A Prophet," Israel's "Ajami," Peru's "The Milk of Sorrow" and Germany's "The White Ribbon," the black-and-white film that took the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Campanella was nominated in the same Oscar category in 2002 for "Son of the Bride."

The nominations of "The Secret in Their Eyes" and "The Milk of Sorrow," directed by 33-year-old Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa, mark the first time that two films from South American countries have been nominated.

3.1M Customers Face Oscar Night without Broadcast

Rata Penuh

Cablevision subscribers were scrambling Sunday to hook up antennas or find live TV on the Internet in order to watch the Academy Awards after ABC's parent company Walt Disney Co. switched off its signal in a dispute over fees.

The standoff affected 3.1 million subscribers to Cablevision Systems Corp. in parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It was the first time in a decade that a major broadcast station went dark in a dispute with a cable company.

As Cablevision customers and consumer groups fumed, lawmakers including U.S. Sen. John Kerry, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey and Governor David Paterson said Disney and Cablevision should agree to binding arbitration if they cannot resolve the dispute on their own. "It is imperative that consumers be held harmless during this process by having the signal restored immediately," said Lowey, D-N.Y. The companies traded blame for the stalemate ahead of one of the most-watched nights of television.

"Cablevision has once again betrayed its subscribers," said Disney spokeswoman Charissa Gilmore. "Cablevision pocketed almost $8 billion last year, and now customers aren't getting what they pay for ... again."

ABC said Sunday afternoon that it had sent Cablevision a new proposal and was awaiting a response. No details on the new proposal were provided.

Cablevision said Sunday it would agree to binding arbitration and blamed the stall in negotiations on Disney CEO Bob Iger. "We remain deeply disappointed that ABC Disney has put their own financial interests above their viewers and pulled the plug on ABC," said Charles Schueler, Cablevision's executive vice president of communications. "We have communicated our position to the highest levels of the FCC and urged the agency to appropriately involve itself in this process."

Federal Communications Commission spokesman William Lake said Sunday that the agency has been in touch with both companies and was monitoring the situation closely. Disney spokeswoman Karen Hobson did not say whether the company also would agree to arbitration, but stated that "it would be more constructive for Cablevision to deal with the offer that we have on the table...The ball's in their court."

ABC's signal can still be pulled from the air for free with an antenna and a new TV or digital converter box. But Cablevision customers were angered over being the losers in a fight between two corporations.

"It's not fair," said Ranee Gaynor, who said Cablevision is the only cable provider available in her Bronx neighborhood. "We don't have a choice."

Gaynor said she would try to watch Sunday night's Academy Awards show on the Internet. "Either that or go to someone's house in Manhattan," she said. Juliana Mapson of Brooklyn said she might try to hook up an antenna before the show started.

"What can I do?" she asked. "I don't understand why they couldn't come to some conclusion."

The dispute is another example of how networks are struggling to find profits as advertising revenue dwindles and programming costs grow. Networks are transmitted freely over the airwaves, but expensive event programming has led the companies behind them to increasingly demand fees from cable TV and satellite operators for retransmitting those signals.

Cablevision has argued that Disney is seeking an additional $40 million a year in new fees, even though the company pays more than $200 million a year to Disney. Disney counters that Cablevision charges customers $18 per month for basic broadcast signals but does not pass on any payment for ABC to Disney.

The dispute is similar to a standoff at the end of last year between News Corp. and Time Warner Cable over how much Fox television station signals were worth. That tussle, which threatened the college football bowl season and new episodes of "The Simpsons," was resolved without a signal interruption.

Cablevision also feuded with Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. in a January dispute that temporarily forced the Food Network and HGTV off the service. Neither side provided terms of an agreement that restored the channels after three weeks.

Disney is asking Cablevision to pay about $1 per subscriber per month, the same amount that News Corp. demanded from Time Warner in their dispute. Some analysts think News Corp. eventually accepted about 50 cents per subscriber.

Derek Baine, a senior analyst at SNL Kagan, said that if all four networks charged $1, that would total $4 a month in new fees. Most cable companies couldn't absorb that cost increase and would have a hard time passing them onto consumers, he said.

"That's a lot of money," Baine said. "They're just playing chicken here."

Disney's previous contract with Cablevision expired more than two years ago, but it was extended month by month as talks continued. Under previous arrangements, Disney was paid for cable channels such as ESPN and Disney Channel, but gave its ABC broadcast signal away for free, a situation that most broadcasters are now trying to change.

"We can no longer sit back and allow Cablevision to use our shows for free while they continue to charge their customers for them," WABC-TV general manager Rebecca Campbell said. WABC-TV is the most-watched TV station in the country, said Disney, which is based in Burbank, Calif.

Almost 500 Thousand Foreign Tourists Visit Indonesia

The number of foreign tourists arrivals in Indonesia increased 4.20 percent to 493 thousand in January 2010 from 473.2 thousand in the same period a year earlier, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS). However, if it is compared with their arrivals in December 2009, the number of arrivals in January dropped by 21.17 percent, because January is not a peak season for foreign tourists to come to Indonesia.

BPS chief Rusman Heriawan said that in January the hotel room occupancy rate in the country’s star-rated hotels in 14 provinces was recorded at the average of 46.11 percent, a decline of 6.45 percent compared with that in December 2009 which stood at 52.56 percent. The average length of stay of foreign tourists at star-rated hotels in 14 provinces in January 2010 was 2.08 days, an increase of 0.11 percent compared with that in December 2009, he said.

About this blog

Friend Comment

ShoutMix chat widget

Blog Archive

country visitor

free counters


Traffic Rank