Sunday, June 19, 2011

Let’s Keep Cycling Fun (and Lycra-Free)

By Vyt Karazija

Bike-riding is on the increase in Bali. I’m not talking about motorbikes, but pushies. Sepeda. Deadly treadlies.

Oh, there have always been frighteningly fit expats around who power through the streets, easily keeping pace with nominally faster motorbikes in our terminally clogged thoroughfares. There have always been those expat women floating serenely through the traffic on their traditional-style ladies’ bikes, wearing elegant, long-flowing dresses and looking utterly unfazed by the heat.

And there have always been local kids zooming around on tiny, erratic, bug-like things that are obviously an interim stage before they graduate to motorbikes at about 8 years of age. But there seems to have been a quantum leap in the numbers of cyclists recently, and this is getting scary.

Soon after sunset, when the air cools, big platoons of young riders appear on the roads and continue swooping and darting through traffic until late at night. They seem like organised groups, and are obviously having fun. Most seem to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of road mores, in the sense that they at least – generally – stay to the left. But there is not a helmet to be seen, none of their bikes have lights and riding three or four abreast seems to be the norm. While I hope fervently that it won’t happen, it is only a matter of time before a car ploughs into one of these nocturnal groups.

Children naturally imitate their elders, so it should have been no surprise for me to encounter such a group in one of the smaller streets in Legian last week. The trouble was, all 30 or so of the tiny riders were in pitch-darkness and all were riding fast. The entire width of the lane was occupied by excited kids looking sideways while yelling happily to each other as they swept around a blind corner, straight at me. I managed to stop my motorbike before any contact, but two of the budding BMXers still ended up wobbling into each other and falling off. Sadly, they both gave me the traditional dirty look reserved for bules in Bali, because naturally, it must have been entirely my fault.

No one denies the health benefits of bicycle-borne exercise, or that the carbon footprint of a bike and its rider is much smaller than that of a motorbike. Except for the occasional release of methane in an exertion-induced kentut, bicycle riding is generally regarded as more friendly to the environment than motorised transport. And I am the first to encourage it – as long as this laudable pursuit does not go down the same path as it has in Australia.

On my last trip to Melbourne I arrived on a weekend. I needed to drive to a bayside suburb along a main road which follows the line of the bay. To my surprise it was completely closed to cars – something that apparently happens every weekend. Not for a scheduled bike race, I hasten to add, just so that recreational riders can use a main arterial road without the hassle of dealing with cars. Cyclists are the only ones who can use the road, causing untold angst to thousands of residents who have to find their way to their destinations through choked back streets that eventually feed into overloaded main roads many kilometres away. Maybe the preponderance of surrealistic Green-dominated local councils has something to do with it. Maybe it’s just that social engineering in Melbourne has finally tipped over the edge into unbridled lunacy. Who knows? While some of those weekend riders are no doubt motivated by opportunities for healthy exercise, many unfortunately give the impression of being self-centred fanatics, if not complete psychopaths.

It wasn’t enough that many of these “enthusiasts” in their visually confronting harlequin-bug costumes saw fit to dominate the only viable thoroughfare; they also took over the side streets. Negotiating those congested minor routes was a nightmare. As well as the displaced cars, these streets also had to cope with clots of angry, Lycra-clad ectomorphs oozing endorphins, and consumed with an irrational rage towards anything on four wheels. They ignored stop signs and traffic lights, cut in, changed lanes without warning and overtook cars on the left and on the right. Thank the gods that none had mountain bikes, or they would have ridden over the top of my car. Some even thumped my roof as they passed, glaring and yelling “Bloody Cager!” as they passed. Apart from anything else, I resent their hijacking of the motorcyclists’ term of endearment for a car driver. Bloody cheek!

Then, at a roundabout in Elwood, where I was going straight ahead, a pair of suicidal idiots shot past me on my left and promptly turned right across the front of my car. I stopped abruptly, despite a strong urge to keep going and reduce their bikes to scrap metal. Incensed, they promptly yelled abuse at me for daring to get in their way, for daring to drive a car, and for “destroying the planet.” Wow. L’il ol’ me – actually inciting passion in someone. Then, like a disturbed wasp nest, the other riders in the area swarmed to the defence of the aggrieved riders. Several dozen of them immediately entered the roundabout and circled endlessly, screaming epithets at me – and at all the other drivers blocked from entering the intersection. Very mature. After five minutes of this, they apparently decided I had completed my penance and rode off to find other targets.

But that’s Melbourne; this is Bali. So far, cycling here is at the same stage as it was in my youth – a time of pleasure in healthy physical activity, a time of freedom and joy in self-powered motion. Let’s preserve that if possible; let’s encourage safe cycling through education and socialisation. Let’s do that before cycling becomes a hip fashion, a form of institutionalised arrogance and a cult politicised by inane do-gooders who have no idea of the ramifications of their actions.

Filed under: Vyt's Line

Flailing Al-Qaeda’s Messages Are Falling on Deaf Ears

By Novar Caine

Now that Osama has been wiped out, Obama has set his sights on the late Al-Qaeda leader’s second-in-command, who has undertaken the brave task of running the scattered militant organisation and is issuing edicts Osama-style.

In his latest audio message, released this week and picked up by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant-themed media, including radical blogs and forums, Ayman al-Zawahiri eulogised his deposed boss and vowed to carry on his work. “The man who terrified America in his life will continue to terrify it after his death,” al-Zawahiri declared.

But that frail individual – videoed by an acolyte as a feeble, blanked-shrouded person rocking back and forth as he relived what he surely believed were his glory days of militancy as relayed on looped television broadcasts – was in the end himself terrified of America, which wound up sending him to a watery grave. Now his deputy, far from cowed, is in Washington’s firing line.

“We will pursue the jihad until we expel the invaders from Muslim lands,” he was quoted as saying, adding: “You will continue to be troubled by his famous vow: You shall not dream of security until we enjoy it and until you depart the Muslims’ lands.”

Sadly for Al-Qaeda and its many variants in the Arab and Southeast Asian worlds, the group’s glory days are waning. Thankfully, for the rest of the (right-thinking) world, ordinary people’s moderate voices count far more than that of fanatics’. In al-Zawahiri’s homeland of Egypt, long decades of dictatorship have fallen to what is hoped will become a strong democracy; and elsewhere in Arab lands change from despotic regimes is underway, as one of the greatest people revolts in the history of civilisation maintains its fervent momentum.

The Western-war debacle that has become Libya has already dragged on for far too long, however, and it is arguable it should never have begun. Western gains in battling terrorism and bringing communities together for understanding are at risk of unravelling as long as the US, Britain and their allies sustain their bombing campaign to oust Moamer Kadhafi. The Libya attack rational could easily be applied to Syria, which is also stamping out a rebellion with almighty force. But the most that’s been formulated in opposing direction is a UN Security Council resolution, an insipid pronouncement of little effect that limply “condemns the violence” that has killed hundreds since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in January.

Worryingly, the US’ top commander, Admiral Michael Mullen, could not give an assurance this week as to when the allied strikes on Libya would end.

“It’s the US position that Kadhafi has to leave and it is a challenge for anybody to put a timetable to that,” he said in Cairo.

“From a military perspective, everything I see indicates a continued drum beat to continue to raise the pressure, if you will, to force Kadhafi to depart.”

It’s one tale for one country that has been massacring its people and quite another for a nearby nation that has also been mowing down dissenters. It is a deadly disparity whose origin is transparently obvious to those that seek an unstated reason for going to war against oil-rich countries and those with few natural resources. Broken Iraq, long since having stoked militants’ ire, is only haltingly beginning to pick up the pieces as the US walks out.

As long as the pounding of Tripoli and its surroundings continues, it gives fuel to Al-Qaeda’s dimming fire. In countries like Muslim Indonesia, both a repeat target of the network’s bombs and a breeding ground for suicide bombers, it pits the firepower of Western, Christian countries against an under-siege Muslim country and engenders rage and hate that is sucked up by radical recruiters. “Just look at what they are doing over there. We must rise up!” will scream the clarion calls.

The social-media-assisted Arab Spring carries hope for people not just in whose lands it is happening, but for people everywhere. It promises previously undreamed-of expectations of a time when peace and real prosperity really can settle. Who could have imagined that this time last year Hosni Mubarak’s days were numbered, that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was on the way out, that the ever-potent Kadhafi would be cowering under waves of NATO bombings?

Al-Qaeda may see great opportunities in the political vacuums of these countries, in infiltrating the ranks of protesters to garner fresh support. Such an assumption is wrong, however. It is not to wage war against perceived Western powers that the majority in Muslim lands desire; it is to live a self-determined life of personal gain and comfort.

The revolutions roll on, and all the while misguided groups like Al-Qaeda are finally being consigned to the dustbin of history.

Filed under: At Large

Forecasts for week beginning June 11, 2011.

By Jonathan Cainer

June’s second big eclipse takes place later this week. Have you seen any magic in your life yet? Have unimagined possibilities arisen? If not, why not? Might it be because you have not really tried to reach for change? Have you dared to dream? Have you allowed yourself to stretch your imagination and open your heart? It’s not too late. Think a positive thought. Invent a solution to an old problem. Don’t tell yourself it can’t work. Tell yourself that it can. No matter what sign you are… it CAN!

ARIES (March 21 – April 20)
People believe what they want to believe. They see what they want to see. They hear what they want to hear. That’s why there are so many misunderstandings. We talk but we don’t listen. We interpret signs and signals. We read meaning into messages. We assume agreement, often without good reason. We expect disagreement, even when there is far more common ground. As we approach a lunar eclipse, you are about to make a precious discovery. For a while after that you may not be sure what you believe. But then, you’ll have clarity and confidence.

TAURUS (April 21 – May 21)
Write a letter but don’t press send. Get your feelings down, then put them away. Press delete on the keyboard. Or set fire to the paper. Don’t feel obliged to communicate your deepest truth to anyone else. Once you have fully articulated it to yourself you’ll clear up all you need to and you’ll see why it’s such a good idea to be discreet. Understand what you need to understand then say only as much as anyone else can understand and accept. More than that, there is no point in saying. What matters is not that another knows the score – but that you do.

GEMINI (May 22 – June 22)
If it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts, why do we bother with finishing lines? What’s so exciting about watching some competitor shave a millisecond off some previous participant’s best time? Why don’t we just applaud the slowest or most creative contestant? People have a hollow obsession with getting the better of each other. This may have its place in sport, but your life is not a game and it is certainly not a competition. Go easy on yourself and others this week. The lunar eclipse suggests far less than you think is urgent.

CANCER (June 23 – July 23)
Think big. Be ambitious. Don’t dismiss an idea just because it sounds far-fetched or turn down an offer because it might challenge an existing arrangement. Even if you’ve got practical concerns, you can accept the inspiration that accompanies a suggestion or the spirit behind a positive possibility… and then let this help you open up other doors in other areas of your life. The world is a big place. A lot of magic happens within it. It’s simply not appropriate to assume that none of this is going to make its way into your world. A lunar eclipse later this week is your promise of a minor miracle happening very soon for you.

LEO (July 24 – August 23)
Do you think that, perhaps, you deserve a little break? How about some time off from struggle and stress? A holiday from controversy or conflict. It’s a nice thought and it really ought to be a feasible thing. Probably, though, it won’t come quite yet. Before you can walk away from a tense situation, you first have to resolve it – even if this means making things temporarily more stressful. Don’t be put off by this. The eclipse, this week, is a kind of cosmic promise. It says that if, now, you do all you can for the best, the best is what you’ll end up getting.

VIRGO (August 24 – September 23)
They say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They say, “When you find a successful formula, stick to it.” They say, “The old ways are the best ones.” They say an awful lot of things, but they are not necessarily right. It is now time for a change. You cannot keep living your life by the same old set of rules. These are restricting you and becoming increasingly irrelevant. Something is broken. It needs to be fixed. A process is not working as well as it could. It needs to be changed. The right kind of progress is about to start happening. Give it the help it needs.

LIBRA (September 24 – October 23)
Remember the tale of the tiny mouse who extracted a thorn from an elephant’s foot? The elephant never forgot. Did you once do a favour for a fairy? It looks as if you are about to be rewarded for a deed done long ago. Don’t rest on your laurels. Do more this week, where and when you can. Still, though, don’t be too surprised when someone allows or enables you to take part in a pleasing, profitable activity or to share a pleasurable experience. Previous doubts about your place in the world will soon be soothed. You’re about to be well taken care of.

SCORPIO (October 24 – November 22)
Breathe in please. Very good. OK. Hold it a moment. Then breathe out. That’s great. Now repeat the whole exercise. What a natural you are. I think you’re ready for the hard part now. Can you keep this up all day? And what about the ultimate challenge: can you keep this up in your sleep? Sounds daunting, doesn’t it, when you put it like this. But of course, the magic of the reality is that it all happens automatically. Many things are better left to nature this week. Don’t try to force what’s going to happen naturally if it’s going to happen at all. Deepen your trust.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 – December 21)
Pick up one twig and try to snap it. It’s easily done. Now pick up a bunch together and repeat the exercise. There’s strength in numbers. There’s also, though, if you happen to be a twig, the rather annoying drawback of needing to sit so close to all those other twigs. A lunar eclipse in your zodiac sign, this week, suggests that your desire for independence must play second fiddle to your need for support. There are people around who can help you now. There are offers of assistance already – and more can be easily elicited. Don’t resent help. Accept it!

CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 20)
When you have a talent, you often don’t realise how special it is. To you, it seems natural. You can’t quite believe that everyone else isn’t blessed with the same ability. You forget that others need help to accomplish what comes so easily to you and you also forget that, to them, your special gift is of great value. Somewhere in your world, something is being taken for granted. That’s not a situation that can be allowed to continue. There needs to be respect and recognition. It’s time to hold your head high, and embrace the success now on offer to you.

AQUARIUS (January 21 – February 19)
Can you get a quart into a pint pot? Sure. You just have to condense it. A square peg into a round hole? Easy. Just sand the corners off the peg. Need to prove that two and two makes five? Go see a statistician; they can make numbers mean anything. There is more flexibility than you think in your current situation. Some things really are impossible. Others just seem impossible until you use your imagination. Mystics say a portal between worlds opens when there’s an eclipse. Use your ingenuity and you’ll certainly bring something amazing into being.

PISCES (February 20 – March 20)
Naturally enough, we get upset when we think about how short our time on this earth is. Yet what if we were to be told that we could live forever? Surely, that would be truly tragic. Outlive all our friends and contemporaries? Then who would we have left to relate to? Discover that they could all become immortal too? Hey! Surely if you knew them for all eternity you’d get bored with them? Treasure what you’ve got, while you’ve got it. And this week, while an eclipse brings the possibility of deep transformation, treasure what’s changing, too.

To purchase a full personal chart reading based on your exact date, place and time of birth, or to hear Jonathan’s weekly spoken forecast for your sign, visit www.cainer.com.

Filed under: Week Ahead

WHO Carries Out Assessment of Rabies Outbreak

DENPASAR

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in cooperation with the Animal Health Directorate, Directorate General of Animal Husbandry and Animal Health and Denpasar Veterinary Office, has conducted epidemiological studies of the rabies outbreak in Bali.

“The study is connected with antibody response of dogs that have been vaccinated in Bali, except Nusa Penida, a separate island in Karangasem district,” Bali administration I Ketut Teneng said on Tuesday.

He said the study result indicated that dogs antibody was still low, namely 41.88 percent of 1,354 samples in laboratory tests, and protective ones were only 567 samples.

According to Ketut Teneng, an audit result from an integrated team against rabies vaccine cold chain storage of the available amount recommended was only 50 percent.

Therefore, Bali’s rabies team and the Agriculture Ministry’s Directorate of Health agreed to implement phase two of a mass rabies vaccination across the island.

Teneng said the second phase of rabies vaccination was conducted in three districts – Bangli, Klungkung and Jembrana – from May 25 and would be continued in five other areas – Badung, Karangasem, Buleleng, Tabanan and Denpasar – starting on June 11 and then in July in Gianyar.

The vaccination will be done on all domestic dogs until August or September this year.

Teneng said the first phase of vaccination of 80 percent of the dogs in Bali was conducted from October 2010 to March 2011.

Since rabies broke out in southern areas of Bali in late 2010, around 120 people have died from the virus.

Filed under: Headlines

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Death-Row Chan Loses Final Appeal

JAKARTA

Australian drug smuggler sentenced to death in Bali has lost his appeal against the punishment, his lawyer said on Friday.

Andrew Chan learned of the decision when the Supreme Court posted its ruling, dated May 11, on its website, lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis.

“We just found out today that Andrew Chan’s judicial review has been rejected,” he said.

He said he did not know the grounds for the rejection or why it took five weeks for Chan, 27, to become aware of his fate.

“I’m very disappointed about this decision because I don’t think Andrew deserves the death penalty. I’m very sad,” he said.

It was not clear if Chan would be able to seek any further judicial review of his sentence, his lawyer said.

Chan was a member of the so-called Bali Nine drug gang that attempted to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin into Australia from the Indonesian resort island of Bali in 2005.

Another member of the gang who is facing the firing squad, Myuran Sukumaran, also has an appeal pending.

A third member, Scott Rush, won an appeal against his death sentence last month, and is now serving life in jail.

Six other gang members are serving lengthy jail sentences.

Filed under: News Alerts

10 June-16, 2011

By Dr Robert Goldman

Longevity News and Review provides readers with the latest information in breakthroughs pertaining to the extension of the healthy human lifespan. These news summaries are compiled by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M; www.worldhealth.net), a non-profit medical society composed of 24,000 physician and scientist members from 110 nations, united in a mission to advance biomedical technologies to detect, prevent and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimise the human aging process. Dr Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, and Dr Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.

Musical Training Boosts Memory
In that much of our daily communication occurs in the presence of background noise, compromising our ability to hear, the ability to understand speech in noise is a challenge that becomes increasingly difficult as we age. Nina Kraus, from the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois, and colleagues enrolled 18 musicians and 19 non-musicians, ages 45 to 65 years, in a study in which each subject completed a number of tests for speech in noise, memory and processing ability. The team observed that the musicians – who began playing an instrument at age nine or earlier and consistently played an instrument throughout their lives – beat the nonmusician group in all tests, except one where they showed nearly identical ability.  Speculating that the experience of extracting meaningful sounds from a complex soundscape – and of remembering sound sequences – enhances the development of auditory skills, the researchers posit that musical training helps the brain to be more adaptable to aging and make adjustments for declines in the ability to remember, or ability to separate speech from background noise. Writing that: “older musicians demonstrated enhanced speech-in-noise perception relative to nonmusicians along with greater auditory … working memory capacity,” the team concludes that: “Our results imply that musical training may reduce the impact of age-related auditory decline.”

Dr Klatz observes: Finding that musicians are more likely to keep their memories active, as well as their hearing intact, this team suggests an intriguing anti-aging role for musical training.

Dark Chocolate Aids Post-Exercise
In that humans naturally produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are necessary for a range of functions, including cell signaling, overproduction of ROS – which can occur as a result of high intensity exercise – may overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defenses and can lead to oxidative stress, a condition that is linked to an increased risk of various diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. Glen Davison, from Aberystwyth University in Wales, and colleagues have found that dark chocolate containing 70 percent cocoa was associated with a blunting in oxidative stress after exercise. The researchers recruited 14 healthy men to participate in a study in which subjects consumed 100 grams of dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa), a control bar or nothing. Two hours later, each subject bicycled for 2.5 hours at 60 percent of the maximal oxygen uptake level. The team found that the intake of the dark chocolate resulted in an increase in antioxidant status before the cycling, and reduced levels of F2-isoprostane, a marker of oxidative stress, one hour after the cycling had finished, compared with the control bar. In addition, insulin levels were also increased before the trial and after cycling for men who consumed the dark chocolate, suggesting a better maintenance of plasma glucose concentration. There were no changes in markers of immune response, which is known to be affected by rigorous exercise.

Remarks Dr Goldman: Consuming flavonoid-rich dark chocolate prior to exercise may decrease the potential muscle damaging effects of oxidative stress, a finding that adds to the growing body of evidence supporting a functional health role for this food.

Quality Sleep Essential for Wellbeing
New research suggests that changes in sleep that occur during late middle-age appear to have a significant effect on cognitive function later in life.  Jane Ferrie, a senior research fellow at University College London Medical School in the UK, and colleagues studied data from 5,431 people taking part in the on-going Whitehall II study of more than 10,000 office staff aged 35-55, which began in 1985. Normal sleep duration was measured during Phase 5 (1997-1999) and Phase 7 (2003-2004) of the study.  Results showed that 7.4 percent of women and 8.6 percent of men reported sleeping for longer than the seven to eight hours reported at Phase 5. In comparison with participants whose sleep duration had not changed, this increase in sleep duration was associated with lower scores at follow-up on five out of six cognitive function tests.  On the other hand, 25 percent of women and 18 percent of men reported sleeping for less than the “six, seven or eight hours” reported at Phase 5. This shift was also associated with a decline in cognitive function, with participants scoring lower at follow-up on three out of six cognitive function tests. Results also showed that, for women, seven hours of sleep per night was the most beneficial in terms of cognitive function, closely followed by six hours of sleep per night. For men six to eight hours was optimal. The researchers concluded that their findings suggest that women and men who begin sleeping more or less than six to eight hours per night are subject to an accelerated cognitive decline that is equivalent to four to seven years of aging. “The main result to come out of our study was that adverse changes in sleep duration appear to be associated with poorer cognitive function in later-middle age,” said Ferrie. “Given that our 24/7 society increasingly impinges on the lives of many people, it is important to consider what effects changes in sleep duration may have on health and wellbeing in the long term.”

Comments D Klatz: Reporting that people who begin sleeping more or less than six to eight hours a night during late middle age appear to undergo an accelerated cognitive decline that is equivalent to aging four to seven years, these researchers reaffirm the vital role of quality sleep to restore and rejuvenate key biological processes.

Anti-aging medicine is the fastest-growing medical specialty throughout the world and is founded on the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders, and diseases.  It is a healthcare model promoting innovative science and research to prolong the healthy lifespan in humans.  As such, anti-aging medicine is based on solid scientific principles of responsible medical care that are consistent with those applied in other preventive health specialties.  The goal of anti-aging medicine is not to merely prolong the total years of an individual’s life, but to ensure that those years are enjoyed in a productive and vital fashion.
Visit the A4M’s World Health Network website, at www.worldhealth.net, to learn more about the A4M and its educational endeavors and to sign-up for your free subscription to Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.

Filed under: Longevity News & Review

Disarmament Is Essential for World Peace

Through history, mankind has pursued peace one way or another. It is too optimistic to imagine that world peace may finally be within our grasp? I do not believe that there has been an increase in the amount of people’s hatred, only in their ability to manifest it in vastly destructive weapons. On the other hand, bearing witness to the tragic evidence of the mass slaughter caused by such weapons in our country has given us the opportunity to control war. To do so, it is clear we must disarm.

Disarmament can occur only within the context of new political and economic relationships. Before we consider this issue in detail, it is worth imagining the kind of peace process from which we would benefit most. This is fairly self-evident. First we should work on eliminating nuclear weapons; next, biological and chemical ones; then offensive arms; and finally, defensive ones. At the same time, to safeguard the peace, we should start developing in one or more global regions an international police force made up of equal number of members from each nation under a collective command. Eventually this force would cover the whole world.

Because the dual process of disarmament and development of a joint force would be both multilateral and democratic, the right of majority to criticize or even intervene in the event of one nation violating the basic rules would be ensured. Moreover, with all large armies eliminated and all conflict such as border disputes subject to the control of the joint international force, large and small nations would be truly equal. Such reforms would result in a stable international environment.

Of course, the immense financial dividend reaped from the cessation of arms production would also provide a fantastic windfall for global development. Today, the nations of the world spend trillions of dollars annually on upkeep of the military. Can you imagine how many hospital beds, schools and homes this money could fund? In addition, as I mentioned above, the awesome proportion of scarce resources squandered on military development not only prevents the elimination of poverty, illiteracy and disease, but also requires the sacrifice of precious human intelligence. Our scientists are extremely bright. Why should their brilliance be wasted on such dreadful endeavours when it could be used for positive global development?

REAL ISSUES

The great deserts of the world such as the Sahara and Gobi could be cultivated to increase food production and ease over-crowding. Many countries now face years of severe drought. New, less expensive methods of desalinization could be developed to render seawater suitable for human consumption and other uses. There are many pressing issues in the fields of energy and health to which our scientists could more usefully address themselves. Since the world economy would grow more rapidly as a result of their efforts, they could even be paid more!

Our planet is blessed with vast natural treasures. If we use them properly, beginning with elimination of militarism and war, truly, every human being will be able to live a wealthy, well-cared-for life.

Naturally, global peace cannot occur all at once. Since conditions around the world are varied, its spread will have to be incremental. But there is no reason why it cannot begin in one region and then spread gradually from one continent to another.

I would like to propose that regional communities like the European Community be established as an integral part of the more peaceful world we are trying to create. Looking at the post Cold War environment objectively, such communities are plainly the most natural and desirable components of a new world order. As we can see, the almost gravitational pull of our growing interdependence necessitates new, more cooperative structures. The European Community is pioneering the way in this endeavour, negotiating the delicate balance between economic, military and political collectively on the one hand and the sovereign rights of member states on the other. I am greatly inspired by this work. I also believe that the new Commonwealth of Independent Sates is grappling with similar issues and that the seeds of such a community are already present in the minds of many of its constituent republics. In this context, I would briefly like to talk about the future of my own country, Tibet and China.

MULTINATIONAL CHINA

Like the former Soviet Union, Communist China is a multinational state, artificially constructed under the impetus of an expansionist ideology and up to now administered by force in colonial fashion. A peaceful, prosperous and above all politically stable future for china lies in its successfully fulfilling not only its own people’s wishes for a more open, democratic system, but also of its eighty million so-called “national minorities,” who want to regain their freedom. For real happiness to return to the heart of Asia – home to one-fifth of the human race – a pluralistic, democratic, mutually cooperative community of sovereign states must replace what is currently called the People’s Republic of China.

Of course, such a community need not be limited to those presently under Chinese Communist Domination, such as Tibetans, Mongols and Uighurs. The people of Hong Kong, those seeking an independent Taiwan, and even those suffering under other communist governments in North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia might also be interested in building an Asian Community. However, it is especially urgent that those ruled by the Chinese Communist consider doing so. Properly pursued, it could help save China from violent dissolution; regionalism and a return to the chaotic turmoil that has so afflicted this great nation throughout the 20th century. Currently china’s political life is so polarised that there is every reason to fear an early recurrence of bloodshed and tragedy. Each of us – every member of the world community – has a moral responsibility to help avert the immense suffering that civil strife would bring to China’s vast population.

I believe that the very process of dialogue, modernisation and compromise involved in building a community of Asian states would itself give real hope of peaceful evolution to a new order in China. From the very start, the member states of such a community might agree to decide its defence and international relations policies together. There would be many opportunities for cooperation. The critical point is that we find a peaceful, non-violent way for the forces of freedom, democracy and moderation to emerge successfully from the current atmosphere of unjust repression.

Filed under: The Dalai Lama

Bali To Become ‘Economic Corridor’: Governor

DENPASAR

Bali is ready to become an economic corridor, Governor Made Mangku Pastika declared this week.

The governor said that for Bali to become an economic corridor was in line with the central government’s Master Plan of the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development.

“In [master plan] Bali is defined as the corridor and gateway for tourists who want to visit East Java, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT),” Governor Mangku Pastika said.

He said that in terms of infrastructure the province was ready to become gateway of tourism, not only for tourists who wanted to visit East Java, NTB and NTT, but also to Makassar, Papua and other destinations across the country.

In the near future another international airport will be built in the northern part of Bali, a toll road across water, an underpass at the Dewa Ruci junction in Kuta and a rail road around the island for railway tourism, he said.

“And again I say that Bali is absolutely ready to support the [master plan],” the governor said.

He asserted that there was no problem with tourism planning in Bali as a gateway for tourism in Indonesia.

Filed under: Headlines

Friday, June 17, 2011

What a Lot of Plans

Our government has never been as busy – at least on the drawing board. There’s a dizzying array of projects lined up to bring this island into a new era of development and tourism.

That’s the plan anyway. Whether anything will come out of these large-scale projects remains to be seen with our own eyes.

Governor I Made Mangku Pastika, who appears to be gearing up to run for a second term, has done much already for the people of Bali. Among his biggest achievements is the commendable Bali Mandara healthcare system that provides free treatment to those who cannot afford it.

Perhaps engendered – emboldened, even – by his successes and the public’s fond recognition of his work, the governor has over recent months rolled out a collection of high-value projects that are projected to combat a variety of problems.

Even the governor’s high-wire act has been accepted, with the announcement this week by PLN chief Dahlan Iskan that the “Bali Crossing” – a series of pylons carrying power lines over the sea from Java to Bali – is going ahead and work is set to start later this year, with a targeted 2013 completion date.

Meanwhile, an underpass in Kuta is to relive chronic traffic congestion; a new airport in the north will bring balance to the tourist divide and relieve pressure on the south; an over-sea toll road is projected to shorten journey times; and the governor’s pet island-wide railway project will provide a whole new experience to visitors (and residents).

And if that’s not enough, Bali is destined to become an “economic corridor,” according to Governor Pastika, a sort of gateway to other regions of the country, including the underdeveloped east.

All of these heady developments are, we are told, part of the central government’s nationwide development plan. But they will be laudable only if they come to fruition, when the perilously short lead time would appear to suggest otherwise.

Still, if we get only half of what’s promised, we’ll be doing well.

Filed under: Editorial

Saturday, June 11, 2011

AIDS Prevention Should Target Foreigners Says Health Chief

DENPASAR

Health officials have announced that foreigners as well as locals in Bali need to be aware of the risk of HIV-AIDS, and have revealed that as of March there were known to be 29 foreign citizens suffering from the disease in Bali.

Speaking last weekend, the head of the Bali Provincial Health Office Dr Nyoman Suteja said that data about foreign patients was collected alongside that for Indonesian citizens.

He said that amongst the HIV-positive foreigners in Bali as of March 2011 there were six Dutch citizens, five Americans and four East Timorese.  There were also smaller numbers of HIV-positive French, Italians, Canadians, Swiss, Australians, Japanese, Spanish and Irish.

Suteja said that historically a total of 4314 HIV-AIDS cases had been recorded in bali, and added that foreigners should not be ignored in prevention programs.

He said that Bali as a province ranked fifth highest nationally for incidence of the disease, after West Java, East Java, Papua and Jakarta, but that per head of population Bali had the second highest levels of HIV-AIDS after Papua.

Filed under: Headlines

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Decade of Dirty Water in Klungkung

KLUNGKUNG

Tap water provided by the state-owned Regional Water Company (PDAM) in Klungkung regency is contaminated with the potentially deadly E. coli virus, according to officials from the Bali Health Department.

Ministry head Dr Nyoman Sutedja told reporters on Monday that every one of 16 routine samples collected from Klungkung in the past decade had showed contamination with E. coli, which can cause severe intestinal problems, and can be fatal for the elderly, young children or those with pre-existing health problems.

He warned consumers to be particularly careful not to consume unboiled or untreated water in the regency.

“We don’t yet know the cause of the contamination of the PDAM water in Klungkung, but contamination can be caused by things such as punctures in pipes which can allow unsterilised water to enter the supply,” he said, adding that the department had sent an official warning to PDAM’s Klungkung branch instructing them to take measures to improve the quality of water in the regency.

Gede Darsana, spokesman for the water company in Klungkung, said he was surprised by the results of the tests, and called their accuracy into question.

“We feel that the water is unpolluted because every month we do our own tests and the results show zero percent contamination.  If it really was polluted then the hospitals would always be full of people suffering from diarrhoea after drinking our water,” he said, adding that the company would nonetheless cooperate with the department.

PDAM has 21,000 registered consumers in Klungkung, and the regency uses on average 70 litres of tap water a second.

Filed under: Headlines

Free Cataract Treatment for Poor Patients

DENPASAR

Fourteen poor patients with eyesight problems received free cataract surgery funded by the Denpasar mayor’s office and the Indonesian Humanitarian Foundation on Tuesday.

Head of the Bali Health Office Luh Putu Sri Amini said that cataracts were a significant problem in bali, due in part to bright sunlight, and the fact that many older people had spent their working lives out of doors.

A total of 60 people had registered for the free treatment, she said, but only 14 were found to require surgery.

“Only 14 people were found to be suffering from cataracts that required immediate surgery. The other patients just needed glasses,” she said.

Amini said that any residents with eyesight problems should be examined by medical professionals.

“We need to inform people to go to the nearest community health centre to get their eyes tested,” she said.

Filed under: Headlines

Regent Demands Disclosure of Illegal Villas

BADUNG

The regent of Badung has demanded that a full list of illegal, unlicensed hotels and villas in his regency be released by hospitality organisations.

Speaking on Wednesday Anak Agung Gede Agung demanded that the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Indonesia (PHRI) provided data on unlicensed properties.

“I’m asking the PHRI to announce which hotels and villas are illegal.  Don’t allow tourists to stay in hotels or villas which are unlicensed.  The rules need to be enforced in Badung, and I’m asking PHRI to help in this.”

Agung said that as well as a large number of villas, there were also hotels that had not obtained necessary paperwork.

“There are still illegal international class hotels; they are recalcitrant and don’t want to obtain licenses, they don’t care about the rules,” he said.

Chairman of the Badung branch of the PHRI, Gusti Rai Suryawijaya, said he agreed with the regent’s points.

“There are hotels with investments amounting to billions of rupiah, but they can’t arrange permits.  I will not support that sort of businesses in Bali,” he said.

Meanwhile, chairman of Bali Villa Association (BVA), Ismoyo S Soemarlan, complied with the regent’s request and announced that of 811 villas known to exist in Bali only 425 had correct operating licenses.

“Based on our data, the number of villas in Bali villa currently amounts to 811.  There are 425 with licenses, so the rest are still illegal,” he said.

Soemarlan said that the BVA did not support illegal tourism businesses.

“There are four things that make us unsympathetic to these illegal villas.  The first is that they don’t make any contributions to regional administration. The second is that they don’t create healthy competition; they don’t treat their human resources well; and they don’t protect the environment.  Also, most break-ins occur at illegal villas because their security isn’t good,” he said.

Filed under: Headlines

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Europe’s Particle Collider Smashes Another Record

The world’s biggest particle collider set a new record this week, a feat that should accelerate the quest to pinpoint the elusive particle known as the Higgs Boson, a senior physicist said.

“Last night, a symbolic frontier was crossed,” said Michel Spiro, president of the board of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), explaining that the rate of sub-atomic smashups in its vast machine had multiplied tenfold in the space of a month.

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is housed in a 27-kilometre ring-shaped tunnel 100 metres below ground, straddling the French-Swiss border.

It is designed to accelerate beams of protons to nearly the speed of light in contra-rotating directions.

Then, using magnets, the beams are then directed into labs where some of the protons collide while others escape.

Detectors record the seething sub-atomic debris, hoping to find traces of particles that can strengthen fundamental understanding of physics.

A month ago, the LHC set a record of 10 million collisions per second.

“This is now 100 million collisions per second,” Spiro said at a conference in Paris on the “infinitely small and the infinitely big.”

Among the puzzles that physicists are seeking to answer is the existence of the Higgs, which has been dubbed “the God particle” for being mysterious yet ubiquitous.

If found, it would explain the nature of mass, filling a major piece of the theoretical construct of physics known as the Standard Model.

In London last week, CERN physicists said they believed that by the end of 2012 they could determine once and for all whether the Higgs existed or not.

Spiro said that this search would certainly be helped by the stepped-up pace of collision, which is the equivalent to sifting more earth in search of nuggets of gold.

“If we’re lucky, and it (the Higgs) is in the right zone for expected mass, we may be able to find it this summer,” he said. “On the other hand, ruling it out will take us to the end of next year.”

To provide a confirmation would require notching up “at least 15? detections, he said.

The first proton collisions at the LHC occurred on September 10, 2008. The smasher then had to endure a 14-month shutdown to fix technical problems.

It had been due to shut down in early 2012 for work enabling it to crank up to full power. But a decision was made several weeks ago to delay closure for a year to help the Higgs hunt.

Filed under: Perspective

Lawyer Claims ‘Scam’ Headmaster Was Hypnotised

DENPASAR

The lawyer of the headmaster accused of cheating 137 would-be civil servants out of millions of rupiah has claimed that his client had himself been tricked by the alleged scam mastermind, a Jakarta-based businessman.

As reported in The Bali Times last week, I Ketut Arnawa, 59, headmaster of Penatih Elementary School IV, was arrested earlier this month after allegedly taking large payments from people hoping to obtain government employment without having to sit the stringent civil service entry scams.

Arnawa is alleged to have taken up to Rp70 million (US$8,152) from each victim, promising them that jobs in education and health would be made available for him.  The case came to light when three disgruntled victims who had waited for several years without obtaining a position reported the teacher to the police.

Arnawa told police that he was working for a businessman, Bambang Subekti, who is originally from Magetan in East Java, but who is believed to be based in Jakarta.  Arnawa claimed that he believed that Subekti was a genuine civil service recruitment agent.

This week, Arnawa’s lawyers, IGN Wisnu Wardana and I Komang Darmayasa, told reporters that their client was himself a victim.

“Our client has been made a scapegoat.  Our client was only to receive a fee if the applicants successfully became civil servants,” Wardana said.

Wisnu said that according to Arnawa’s arrangement with the businessman, orgainsed during a meeting in Jakarta in 2007, applicants were to pay Rp40 million as a deposit, all of which was to be deposited in Subekti’s account.  Arnawa himself would receive the outstanding Rp40 million only if the application was successful.

Last week Arnawa was reported as having told police that he had taken a Rp7.5-million (US$874)) commission directly from the Rp40-million downpayments, but Wardana said that this was incorrect.

“All of the deposit was transferred to the account of Bambang Subekti in bank Mandiri,” he said.

Wardana also claimed that his client had never actively sought victims, but that all of the would-be civil servants had sought him out.

“My client is also shocked by what has happened.  He feels like he was hypnotised,” he said.

Wardana said that East Denpasar Police, who are investigating the case, should have brought forward some of the alleged victims as witnesses, and that they should have targeted Bambang Subekti before arresting Arnawa.

“It should have been Bambang who was arrested first so they could find out Arnawa’s exact status,” he said.

East Denpasar Police Spokesman Agus Prihadinika said that the case was being handled correctly.

“Our actions have been in accordance with the law.  The suspect was arrested because there is legal evidence against him.  We are still pursuing Bambang in Jakarta,” he said.

Filed under: Headlines

Plastic Pistol Robbers Arrested

KUTA

Kuta Police arrested two men who had mugged people by threatening them with a toy pistol in the early hours of Thursday morning.

“The two suspects were arrested early in the morning at around 3am on Jl Kunti Timur in Kuta,” said Kuta Police chief, Gede Ganefo.

The pair were identified as Hisham, 30, and Ayub Khan, 33.

Ganefo said the men were caught after officers conducting routine checks on passing vehicles in the area of Basangka market received a complaint from three victims.

“At that time three men told them that they had just been robbed at gunpoint,” he said; “they conducted a brief interview and asked for the characteristics of the perpetrators and about the motorbike they had used, and then they set out in pursuit.”

The officers subsequently spotted a motorbike fitting the description given by the victims outside a boarding house on Jl Kalimuti, in Monang-Maning, Denpasar.  The engine was still warm so they entered the property and arrested the owner, Hisham.

“At first he refused to admit to his actions, even though he fitted the description of the mugger.  He even blamed his friend and told police where to arrest him,” Ganefo said.  Officers then arrested Khan, who lived nearby on Jl Subur.

Various items were seized during the arrests, including the motorcycles that had been used in the attacks.  The two men later admitted to the muggings, saying that their mode of operation was to follow a car on their motorbike before riding alongside it at an intersection and threatening the occupants with a concealed weapon.

The weapon was a child’s plastic toy.

Filed under: Headlines

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As World Hesitates, China Stands Firm on Dissent

The international community’s mixed response to China’s crackdown on dissent – ranging from public criticism to total silence – has handed Beijing leeway to maintain its hard line, experts say.

Since Chinese authorities, apparently spooked by the pro-democracy uprisings sweeping the Middle East, began detaining lawyers, artists and other activists in February, a parade of Western leaders have met with Beijing’s top brass.

Some have slammed China over the clampdown — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this month called it a “fool’s errand.”

Others such as Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who visited Beijing last month, have avoided making criticism in public.

Jean-Philippe Beja, a China expert based in France, said Beijing has appeared inflexible “because Western countries have not really exerted any significant pressure.”

“Among the few dissidents who have been freed, their releases have only been secured after public pressure,” Beja said.

Human Rights Watch Asia researcher Nicholas Bequelin agreed, suggesting that the West was in part compromised by its commercial relations with the world’s second-largest economy.

“Many Western countries scuppered international principles by treating China differently” from other hardline governments due to their “economic interests”, but also to a “lack of realism” about China’s political system, Bequelin said.

The veteran Hong Kong-based HRW researcher said the detention last month of avant-garde artist Ai Weiwei – a government critic well known in the West who could face tax evasion charges – symbolised the failure of foreign governments to exert pressure on Beijing.

Bequelin said Ai’s detention was made possible because there were “very few international reactions” calling Beijing to account from the start of the crackdown, the worst seen in China since the post-Tiananmen era.

The United States has been the most strident in its condemnation. President Barack Obama pressed Beijing on rights issues during high-level talks in Washington this month, while Clinton called China’s record “deplorable.”

In late April, US Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner accused China of “serious backsliding” on human rights following talks in Beijing and indicated that Chinese leaders had rebuffed appeals to soften the crackdown.

Also last month, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she had raised a range of human rights “concerns” in talks in Beijing with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who told her China had not taken a “backward step.”

But others have been more muted in their criticism.

Just last week, European Union President Herman van Rompuy said the “underlying fundamentals of rule of law, social justice, and human rights” are key to sustainable economic and social development.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero Rodriguez took an even less robust stance, voicing support for “freedom and fundamental rights”… across Asia.

The public silence of Brazil’s Rousseff was apparently matched by that of French parliamentary leader Bernard Accoyer, who met Chinese President Hu Jintao in late April.

One Western diplomat based in Beijing admitted EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had “not exactly been reactive on these issues”, adding: “One gets the impression that she’s dragging her feet.”

And former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who travels several times a year to China, said: “The rules of diplomacy generally rule out public challenges.”

Raffarin said that each time he comes to China, he “directly” raises human rights issues, and added that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had debated the topic with Hu in late March.

In the face of public and private official pressure, China – concerned above all with maintaining social stability – has remained firm.

State Councilor Dai Bingguo, one of the two officials who led the Sino-US talks in Washington, spoke of the “enormous progress” China has made on several fronts including human rights.

Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying meanwhile accused Europe of a “condescending” attitude towards Beijing at talks in Hungary this month, and a foreign ministry spokeswoman said other countries should stop commenting on Ai’s case.

Talks with China are “a dialogue of the deaf”, said the Western diplomat. “They don’t understand why we are interested in these cases, in these ‘anti-Chinese’ people.”

Beja said the rights approach taken by Beijing may not enjoy universal approval within the ruling Communist party, noting that pushing on the issue could “reinforce those who are convinced the party line must be softened.”

A concerted collective effort by the West on specific cases like that of Ai or jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo “could make the cost of their continued detention too high”, he added.

Filed under: Perspective