Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Australian Teen Electrocuted in Bali


An Australian teenager holidaying in Bali was fatally electrocuted by live wires, officials said on Sunday, with reports his friends initially thought it was a prank.

Jake Flannery, 18, died on Saturday after touching live wires in the popular Jl Legian tourist area, where he was celebrating finishing high school with friends, according to Australian media reports.

The foreign office confirmed that they were providing consular assistance to “the family of a teenager from New South Wales who died in Bali on 26 November as a result of accidental electrocution.

“The Australian Consulate in Bali will facilitate the return to Australia of the teenager’s remains, in close consultation with his family, Indonesian authorities and funeral directors in Bali and Australia,” a foreign office spokesman said.

Friends who had been holidaying with Flannery were also being offered support, he added.

Flannery was out celebrating when he received the electric shock at about 3am, according to local media reports.

“At the time, the victim and his two friends were walking on the pavement on Jl Legian,” Kuta Police Chief Gede Ganefo was quoted as saying by the Antara news agency.

The pavement was blocked by construction works and Flannery had tried to squeeze through two piles of concrete slabs, accidentally touching signage and an electricity pole.

“At that point, the victim was electrocuted and he screamed for help,” Ganefo said.

Flannery’s mother, Cheryl, told Australia’s Sunday Telegraph that her son’s friends thought he was “playing a joke.”

The teenager graduated from school last week and his mother said she had been “so stressed out” about the trip, his first overseas, but he was “very excited” and sent her a message on Thursday saying he had been having a great time.

Some passing Australian lifeguards who saw the jolt rushed to his rescue but he was unable to be revived, the Telegraph said.

“This wasn’t what I was worried about. You don’t think about something as simple as leaning on a pole,” Flannery’s mother told the newspaper.

“You can’t imagine it happening in Australia.”

Filed under: News Alerts

Aussie Drugs Teen Jailed For Two Months


The Denpasar District Court has sentenced a 14-year-old Australian boy to two months in jail for possession of marijuana.

The boy, who wore a colourful Balinese shirt and a balaclava to hide his identity, will be freed on December 4 after the court ruled the nearly eight weeks he has already spent in jail should be counted against the sentence.

The teenager bowed his head as judge Amser Simanjuntak pronounced sentence on Friday.

He was arrested with 6.9 grammes of marijuana on October 4 in the tourist area of Kuta, where he was on holiday with his parents, and charged with possession.

As a minor, the boy could have been jailed for up to two years but prosecutors only sought a three-month term, considering his youth and the likelihood he would change his behaviour.

He also avoided a lengthier sentence by agreeing to undergo drug rehabilitation. He had admitted to having the drugs.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd thanked Indonesian authorities for their speedy handling of the case.

“This has been obviously a traumatic time for him and his family. I’m sure there are lessons to be learned by this young man as well,” Rudd said.

“We’d like very much to thank the Indonesian authorities for their assistance in the conduct of this case, for the speedy way in which it’s been handled against all Indonesian norms,” he added.

“I think it’s good that this family and this young man, it looks like, will be home for Christmas.”

The judge said the boy had conducted himself well throughout the trial.

“The defendant has never committed any crime before. He has always been polite during hearings,” the judge said.

“He regretted the crime he committed. He promised to never repeat the same mistake and his parents have promised to send him to a rehabilitation centre as he is still in junior high school.”

After sentence was passed bodyguards immediately encircled the teenager to protect him from dozens of journalists, who were for the first time allowed to witness the trial.

The boy had arrived at the court with his father and six bodyguards from his lawyer’s office. They were forced to push through a scrum of journalists to reach the courtroom.

Despite the light sentence, the boy’s lawyer said he was disappointed with the ruling.

“We had expected that the boy would be returned to his parents immediately to undergo a rehabilitation programme,” Muhammad Rifan said.

The boy’s father, donning a baseball cap and sunglasses, stood by his son during the trial, while the boy’s mother “was not strong enough” to attend, Rifan said.

“The boy’s parents are considering the ruling. They most probably won’t appeal as this is likely the best result, realistically,” Rifan said.

The teenager’s legal team argued he belonged in rehabilitation rather than jail because he had a history of drug use.

Several Australians have been arrested for drug possession on Bali in recent years, including two traffickers on death row and six serving life sentences.

Filed under: Headlines

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 18-24, 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.

Immune Markers Characterise Exceptional Health  
Exceptional cognitive and physical function in old age leaves a telltale immunologic fingerprint and, conversely, older adults who have mild impairments bear a distinct immunologic pattern as well. Abbe N. de Vallejo, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues collected blood samples from 140 subjects, ages 78 to 94 years, enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study for nearly two decades. The team also gathered information about the participants’ health and function, medical history and hospitalisations and self-rated health, and assessed their cognitive and physical function using standard tests. Those participants who were most physically and cognitively resilient had a dominant pattern of stimulatory NK receptors on the T-cell surface, and these unusual T-cells could be activated directly through these NK receptors independently of the conventional ones. The functionally resilient elders also were observed to have a distinct profile of blood proteins called cytokines that reflect an immune-enhancing environment. The researchers showed mild health impairment had a dominant pattern of inhibitory NK receptors on their T-cells, and they have a cytokine profile indicating a pro-inflammatory environment. Writing that: “Collectively, these data demonstrate the importance of immunological parameters in distinguishing between health phenotypes of older adults,” the team submits that their findings suggest “novel immunopathway(s) that could be exploited to improve immunity in old age.”

Dr Klatz observes: Reporting that exceptional cognitive and physical function in old age leaves a tell-tale immunologic fingerprint, these findings open new avenues for research in aging intervention that focus on an immune-based approach to longevity.

Physical Fitness May Promote Eye Health    
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. Paul J. Foster, from University College London, and colleagues examined the relationship between physical activity and low ocular perfusion pressure (OPP), an important risk factor for glaucoma. The team analysed data collected on 5,650 men and women, ages 48 to 90 years, residing in the UK and who were initial enrollees in The EPIC-Norfolk Eye Study in 1993. Using a detailed self-administered health and lifestyle questionnaire, participants were assessed for combined physical activity at work and leisure. From 2006 to 2010, study participants were examined for intraocular pressure (IOP), as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements. The results showed that moderate physical exercise performed approximately 15 years previously is associated with a 25-percent reduced risk of low OPP. Writing that: “Lower levels of physical activity were associated with lower [ocular perfusion pressure],” the researchers submit an association between a sedentary lifestyle and factors which increase glaucoma risk.

Remarks Dr Goldman: This large-scale study finds that an active lifestyle helps to reduce the risk of glaucoma. As well, the association between a sedentary lifestyle and increased risk of glaucoma, encourages the notion of regular physical activity to prevent the leading cause of blindness around the world.  

Green Vegetables Boost Immune System    
Green vegetables have been found to be the source of a chemical signal that is vital for a fully-functioning immune system. Previous research by Marc Veldhoen of The Babraham Institute in Cambridge, England, and colleagues revealed that green vegetables, in particular cruciferous vegetables, contain a compound that can be converted into a molecule that triggers the production of a cell-surface protein called aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). While their latest study has shown that AhR is vital for the correct functioning of immune cells in the gut and the skin known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs), which act as a first line of defence and play a role in wound repair. Results showed that mice fed a synthetic diet lacking this key compound experienced a significant reduction in AhR activity and a significant loss of IELs. The loss of IELs resulted in lower levels of antimicrobial proteins, heightened immune activation and greater susceptibility to injury. “I would have expected cells at the surface would play some role in the interaction with the outside world, but such a clear-cut interaction with the diet was unexpected. After feeding otherwise healthy mice a vegetable-poor diet for two to three weeks, I was amazed to see 70 to 80 percent of these protective cells disappeared,” commented Veldhoen.

Comments Dr Klatz: Identifying that a chemical signal key to a properly functioning immune system is present in green vegetables, these researchers document a potentially important dietary approach for immune optimisation that warrants further investigation.

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 endeavours and to sign-up for your free subscription to Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.

Filed under: Longevity News & Review

Pioneering Liver Treatment Cures Baby

British doctors say they have cured a baby boy of a life-threatening liver disease using a pioneering treatment in which cells are injected into the abdomen.

The team from London’s King’s College Hospital treated eight-month-old Iyaad Syed by injecting him with a group of cells, which acted as a temporary liver while his real organ recovered from damage caused by a virus, the BBC reported.

“This is the first time this treatment has been used to treat a child with acute liver failure,” said professor Anil Dhawan, a liver specialist at the hospital.

“It’s only a few months back when I first saw this child who was so sick requiring support on dialysis and a breathing machine.

“We think we have given him another chance of life and seeing him now six months down the road with nearly normal liver function is remarkable.”

Syed would normally have been put on the transplant waiting list when his liver began to fail, but the hope now is that more cases will be cured using the new technique rather than relying on a scarce supply of donor organs.

Doctors injected liver cells which then processed toxins and produced proteins, fulfilling the role of a temporary liver while his own began to recover two weeks later.

The cells were treated with a chemical to prevent them from being destroyed by the youngster’s immune system.

Iyaad’s father, Jahangeer, called his son “a miracle boy,” adding “it is brilliant and we are very proud of him.”

The treatment’s development now depends on an extensive clinical trial.

Andrew Langford, head of the British Liver Trust, told the BBC on Tuesday: “The principle of this new technique is certainly ground-breaking and we would welcome the results of further clinical trials to see if it could become a standard treatment for both adults and children.

“Sadly, we have reached a breaking point with our transplant list in the UK, where approximately 100 people die waiting for a donor liver to become available each year.”

Filed under: Health

US to Base Marines in Australia


The United States will deploy up to 2,500 Marines to northern Australia as the two nations expand their 60-year-old military alliance, the US and Australian leaders announced, rankling China.

The announcement by President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday came as the allies adapted their military posture to face a new security era marked by the rise of China.

The first deployment of around 250 US Marines will be sent to the city of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory in mid-2012, kicking off a rotating six-month presence of as many as 2,500 US troops Down Under.

“We have agreed joint initiatives to enhance our alliance, 60-years-old and being kept robust for tomorrow,” Gillard told a joint news conference in Canberra.

“It is a new agreement to expand the existing collaboration between the Australian Defence Force and the US Marine Corps and the US Air Force.

“Over a number of years we intend to build on this in a staged way,” she said of the deployment.

Beijing reacted angrily, saying the US military deployment to Australia “may not be quite appropriate.”

“It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries within this region,” foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters in response to a question on the deployment.

The troops, whose nations are also allied in Afghanistan, will conduct exercises and training on a rotational basis on Australian bases with the Australian Defence Force.

The leaders also agreed to enhance cooperation between their air forces that will result in increased rotations of US aircraft through northern Australia, which is closer to Asia than it is to Sydney and Melbourne.

Obama said the announcement of the joint task force and his trip to the booming Asia-Pacific, which began Wednesday with his arrival in Canberra, sent a clear signal to America’s allies in the region.

“We are two Pacific nations and with my visit to the region I am making it clear that the United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific,” he said.

“This deepening of our alliance sends a clear message of our commitment to this region, a commitment that is enduring and unwavering,” he added ahead of the East Asia Summit in Bali later this week.

Obama added that he was in the Pacific because it was the fasting growing economic region in the world.

“The second message I am trying to send is that we are here to stay,” he said.

“This is a region of huge strategic importance to us. Even as we make a whole host of important fiscal decisions back home, this is right up there at the top of my priority list.

“And we’re going to make sure that we are able to fulfil our leadership role in the Pacific region.”

Washington appears to be sending a signal to China and its expanding military with its deployment in Australia, but also wants to extend its capability to deploy for disaster relief missions in Southeast Asia.

But Obama insisted that the boosted military alliance should not be seen a threat to China, although he warned Beijing it should “play by the rules”.

“The main message that I’ve said not only publicly but also privately to the Chinese is that with their rise comes increased responsibility.”

Filed under: Headlines

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bali’s Economy Surges Ahead


Bali’s economy is continuing to buck the global trend, and is surging forward, according to figures released by the government statistics agency.

Gede Suarsa, head of the statistics agency’s Denpasar branch, said that growth in the third quarter of 2011 had reached 6.54 percent, slightly higher than the national growth average of 6.5 percent.

Suarsa said that from Bali’s current performance officials were hoping for a further increase in the final quarter.

“We hope that economic growth in the fourth quarter this year will be even better, especially because we still have the peak season of tourist arrivals at the end of the year,” he said.

Suarsa said there had been a marked increase in the rate of growth across the year, fuelled mainly by the booming tourist economy and increasing visitor arrivals. He added that recent local festivals, including Idul Fitri and Galungan had boosted the domestic consumer market.

Suarsa said the internal boosts from consumer goods and tourism had mitigated a slump in exports caused by the global economic downturn.

Head of the provincial Trade and Industry Department Gede Darmaja said there had been a 17.72-percent drop-off in export takings in Bali in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2010.

“The global crisis did not significantly affect Bali’s economy in general, but the producers and exporters were much more affected. Therefore, we should expand the domestic market,” he said.

Filed under: Headlines

More Early Warning Systems After Floods


With the rainy season getting underway more flash floods hit Bali at the weekend, with damage caused to properties in Jembrana on Sunday.

Torrential downpours at dawn saw homes in Yeh Embang Kauh inundated. A house belonging to local man Ketut Wita was completely destroyed. In nearby Penyarinagan two other properties were damaged by flooding.

Ketut Metra, 69, the owner of one of the affected houses, said he had been lucky to escape.

“The water swept me, my wife and one of my children away. Luckily, we were able to grab a trunk of a tree and did not let go,” he said, adding that he had suffered only minor injuries.

There was also a landslide triggered by the rain on the outskirts of Sekar Kejula hamlet.

Meanwhile, Badung government announced that floods on November 8 had led to total damages of around Rp1.4 billion (US$155,700). The Denpasar municipality suffered losses of Rp5.2 billion during the same floods.

“The losses were mostly in the form of damage to infrastructure and public facilities,” said Denpasar government spokesman Dewa Gede Rai.

Rai said the major damages were those caused to the Mandala Wangi bridge connecting Jl Biak and Jl Nusa Kambangan.

“The bridge, which was built in 1993 as a joint project by the army and the local community, was cut at one end by the flooding,” he said, adding that there had also been damage to several school buildings in the city.

He said a total of 995 Denpasar residents were displaced by the November 8 floods, though he added that most of them were able to return home later that day as the waters receded.

Head of the Denpasar disaster management agency (BPPLD) I Made Sudhana Satrigraha said two early warning systems recently installed on the Tukad Badung and Tukad Mati rivers had worked during the floods, but that more such systems needed to be installed across the city.

“Last month, we installed one unit in Tukad Badung, near Peken Badung, the island’s largest traditional market, and another one on the Tukad Mati, near Demak temple,” he said, adding that warning lights and sirens had sounded as waters rose on November 8, alerting local residents to the danger.

However, Satrigraha said more warning units were needed so that a larger number of people living near rivers would be within range.

“That’s why we will install more units to gradually establish an extensive network of flood warning systems across the city,” he said.

He said at least two more units would be added before the end of the year. Each unit costs an estimated Rp100 million.

“We will coordinate with the public works agency to determine the best places to install the units. Those places should maximise the units’ ability to alert and save human lives,” he said.

More units are expected to be added in 2012.

Filed under: Headlines

Forecasts for week beginning November 19, 2011.

By Jonathan Cainer

The end of this week brings a partial Solar Eclipse. It’s not visible from many places but that doesn’t mean we won’t feel the influence. Nor should we belittle this rare event because it is only ‘partial’. Some students of mystic symbolism say there’s far more meaning in an event if it doesn’t go ‘all the way’. It awakens an idea. It sparks off an interest. It ends up having a lasting impact. Look out in your life soon, for the realisation that something you thought of as ‘too complete to challenge’ can be chipped away at and changed.

ARIES (March 21 – April 20)
They say, ‘There’s safety in numbers’. Perhaps so. But there is also stupidity. Think of the millions who have spent hard-earned money on atrocious clothes or appalling songs, all in the name of fashion. Consider the hordes who faithfully flock to vote for their preferred politician, only to be rewarded by a string of mediocre performances and broken promises. The majority of people would probably not approve of your current plan. Why, though, should you care about that? No matter what’s worrying you, there’s a way to make it all okay.

TAURUS (April 21 – May 21)
Faith, they say, can move a mountain. Indeed it can, but it can move it all the more efficiently if it happens to be equipped with a large stack of dynamite and a bulldozer. You now fervently believe that something is possible. You have high hopes – and rightly so. This does not mean, though, that you can now sit back and wait for everything to fall into place. Your great objective is only just attainable. To reach it you will have to expend a great deal of effort. So roll up your sleeves and sharpen your focus this week. You will eventually get the results you seek.

GEMINI (May 22 – June 22)
We can draw up quite a list of people who feel sure that a part of you belongs to them. You are ‘spoken for’ in lots of ways. This is all very flattering, but it implies a great responsibility. It also explains why you are sometimes plagued by a sense of guilt. But if others have projections upon you or expectations of you, can this all be your fault? And how many of those demands are you obliged to comply with? This week’s challenge involves breaking free from easy but unsatisfactory arrangements. You must be strong enough to be yourself.

CANCER (June 23 – July 23)
Do I know you from somewhere? Surely, it can’t be… well I never, it’s you! I do apologise. It’s just that I hardly recognise you. You may look much the same but don’t forget, I can’t see you in that way, any more than you can see me. This astrological communication between us, takes place in the psychic realm and it is at that more subtle energetic level that I perceive such a difference in your moods and attitudes. I don’t expect it can be long now before the rest of the world notices too. You had best prepare to start making a powerful impression this week.

LEO (July 24 – August 23)
Will you get what you want? Probably. But only on one condition: that you find out what it is that you really DO want. If you don’t resolve that question, you will end up getting something you don’t really want but merely think that you do. Or worse, you will get what you want, but you will not realise that it is what you want – so you will send it away with the word, ‘unwanted’ stamped on it. A forthcoming solar eclipse insists that opportunity has rarely been greater. It’s discrimination that’s in short supply now. So make that what you want to find in yourself… and you will.

VIRGO (August 24 – September 23)
How would you feel if I were to tell you that your week was due to present you with a new difficulty at every turn? Would you clasp your hand to your head in horror and say, ‘Oh no’ or would you shrug your shoulders and say, ‘Hey ho, business as usual.’ You have all but forgotten what it feels like to lead an easy life. You are expecting more trouble. You are beginning to suspect that this must be what you deserve. But you face no problem that you cannot solve, no obstacle that you cannot conquer. No matter what’s worrying you, you can make it okay.

LIBRA (September 24 – October 23)
Who’s fooling whom? Could it be that in an effort to protect someone, you are withholding sensitive information? Your intentions are noble, but by keeping back a part of the truth, you are creating an imbalance and an obstacle. Meanwhile, it looks very much as if a certain someone is being similarly tactful with regard to news that you really ought to have. Indeed, it could well prove to be the case that you are tiptoeing round the very person who is tiptoeing around you! Find a table and place your cards on it. Take your sleeve, and wear your heart on it!

SCORPIO (October 24 – November 22)
We all hate to wait. We live in a world that is ruled by the clock. We need to be at work at this time, at home by that time. We have appointments to keep and expectations to meet. Not only are we expected to be punctual in all these cases, but we are also governed by deadlines and time targets of our own invention. A part of you is now in a great hurry. Circumstances, somehow, are seemingly conspiring to hold you back. This could be because it is ultimately better if you do not attain your goal. What if it isn’t as urgent as you think it is?

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 – December 21)
Venus is in your sign. This auspicious astrological omen does not, sadly, guarantee overnight improvement in your material status. But it does suggest you are going to get a push to set your financial wheel spinning a little faster. If that wheel is somehow stuck or rusty, the experience may at first prove more frustrating than enriching. You may be able to sense the opportunity, but find yourself unable to take it. Don’t let that happen. Work now on being open to the possibility of a better way to move forward… and loosen whatever is stuck.

CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 20)
Children are always being encouraged to act more like adults. They are told that their natural sense of fun is far too frivolous. They are urged to become serious and responsible, no matter how dull this makes them. When, though, are adults ever encouraged to be more like children? When are they told to lighten up and be less pompous – or to take more risks and be more honest? It may not be appropriate now for you to become more childish but you could certainly benefit from being more childlike. An open heart will open many doors.

AQUARIUS (January 21 – February 19)
Football teams know that if they are playing in their home town they will always have an advantage. Most people in the crowd naturally tend to be on their side. The players will feel supported and this will reflect on their performance. Will they sense the same enthusiasm if their fans are only watching them on TV? It’s a moot point. You can argue that in ‘willing something to happen’, even though you are a long way from the action, you are wasting your time. But it can make a big difference. You have many supporters. Focus hard and don’t worry this week.

PISCES (February 20 – March 20)
Remember when yoghurt was just something you made by accident? Or when Crocs were worn only by eccentrics? Suddenly, somehow, these things went from the minority to the mainstream. The change seemed to happen almost overnight. Transforming processes often follow a trend like this. They look, for ages, as if they are never going to catch on. Then, before you know it, they have taken hold and there is no turning back. Now, about that big, brave, new idea you have been contemplating for so long. You may just find that the time has come.

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

Stalemate in Turkey’s Kurdish Issue Demands Heroic Moves

By Kaya Genç

Who could have imagined that one day pedestrians in Istanbul’s most artistic and liberal neighbourhood of Cihangir would stumble upon a massive wall of graffiti that read, simply and terrifyingly, “Exterminate all Kurds”? That day came earlier this month.

Something has happened in Turkey that has made racism, once again, an everyday occurrence. Yet there are concrete steps that can be taken to halt a seemingly endless cycle of hatred.

Turkey’s 30-year conflict with Kurdish separatists has created an ideal habitat for racism. Ethnically different from the majority of Turks, many Kurds have supported a political movement that has aimed, among other things, to legalise the use of the Kurdish language and expand Kurdish rights in the public sphere. Kurds have also felt discriminated against in terms of where they could live and the schools they could enrol in. One radical group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), adopted a secessionist agenda and has used violence against Turkish security forces, as well as civilians, sparking sporadic clashes between the PKK and the Turkish government over the last three decades.

Over the years, a number of attempts have been made to defuse the conflict. For instance, in 2002 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an lifted the state of emergency in the Kurdish-populated areas in eastern Turkey and in 2009 his government began what he called the “Kurdish opening”, a multi-pronged approach to resolving tensions between the Turkish government and the country’s Kurdish population.

Turkey’s state television soon began broadcasts in Kurdish, and economic and political relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq provided a more peaceful and democratic atmosphere that was publicly supported by both Turkish and Kurdish intellectuals.

During the last two years, however, things began to go alarmingly wrong, resulting in public disputes between Turkish and Kurdish politicians. Some of Erdo?an’s political manoeuvres were labelled fascist by Kurdish politicians, while Kurds were accused of pursuing an uncompromising agenda. Both sides then reached, once again, for their weapons.

It is time that both sides search for democratic and non-violent solutions.

A great responsibility lies with Erdo?an’s government. His party should press strongly for dialogue and reform that will provide political solutions to the inequalities Kurds have been subjected to for so long. We don’t yet have comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, and so Turkey should ratify all international agreements aimed at ending racial discrimination.

Furthermore, the government and civil society must reassess Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which forbids insulting Turkish identity, Turkey or its government institutions, makes it extremely difficult to have an open discussion on matters related to national identity. It is still in place and used arbitrarily, and is a threat to anyone who belongs to a political or ethnic minority.

The responsibility to find democratic and peaceful solutions also lies with Turkish Kurds. Political violence in the form of suicide attacks and assaults to military bases have proved to be extremely injurious for Kurdish rights. Putting an end to aggressive attacks towards Turkey’s security forces can contribute to solving the current impasse. Kurdish politicians have enormous influence over their people. They have earned their people’s trust and respect and they will need to take the lead in any political solution.

After all, the question “What do Kurds want?” is not very difficult to answer. Turkey’s election limit, which excludes parties that have less than 10 percent of all votes from the parliament, makes it difficult for comparatively smaller parties – such as the Peace and Democracy Party which represents Kurdish interests – to participate in the political arena. This cut off point should be done away with to allow democratically elected political representation from minority political movements.

Revising the definition of “Turkishness” in the constitution – making it a general concept rather than one related to a specific race or ethnic group – will also go a long way toward building goodwill.

In addition, Kurds are asking the government to improve prison conditions for Kurdish political prisoners, including PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Even though conditions for inmates have improved dramatically over the last decade, the prison environment for political inmates still remains a concern for many.

It is not force but an ambitious new political agenda that will bring resolution to Turkey’s greatest conflict of the last century. For Erdo?an and his Kurdish counterparts, these steps will cost little, allowing Turkey to win a long-deserved peace, hopefully wiping out once and for all the horrifying graffiti of the past.

Kaya Genç is an Istanbul-based novelist and scholar specialising in late.

Filed under: Opinion

Paris to Bali, With Love


American socialite Paris Hilton visited Bali last week, describing the island via Twitter as one of the most “incredible places I have ever been.”

The reality-TV star and hotel heiress arrived in Bali on November 9 after a stopover in Singapore. She kept fans informed with a constant stream of Twitter updates during her stay, and writing about the island on her personal website.

“Bali has been pure paradise! I can’t beleive [sic] I didn’t come here sooner! I have seen so many beautiful places around the world, but I definitely believe that Bali is one of the most incredible places I have ever been,” the 30-year-old said.

She visited two orphanages and attended the opening of a hairdresser’s in Seminyak, departing Bali on November 16.

Tourism-industry figures hope her visit – through media coverage and her 5.3-million Twitter followers – will help to raise the island’s profile.

Filed under: Headlines

Reframing the Debate on Islam in France

By Tareq Oubrou

Why does the public expression of Islam pose a problem – not just in France, but all over Europe? Yesterday, it was the construction of minarets in Switzerland; the day before, it was the headscarf. Today, it is the demand for halal (permissible according to Islamic law) meat in canteens and banned street prayers that have fuelled a sense of exclusion and led to tensions within French society.

It’s in this context that a new report on Islam in the Arab majority French suburbs was published in October. Titled Suburbs of the Republic, this report by Gilles Kepel, a French political analyst specialising in Islam and the contemporary Arab world, comes a few months before the French presidential election, and confronts both politicians and Muslims with reciprocal responsibilities.

Suburbs of the Republic, which addresses some of the issues regarding Muslim integration in France since the 1980s, notes that there has been a strengthening of religious feeling in poorer districts. This increased religiosity in the suburbs is partly due to insensitivity and negligence on the part of political and public authorities. Because of the isolating social housing policy upheld by both leftist and rightist governments for decades, for example, Muslims immigrants have often had to live in homogenous communities, rather than in diverse ones.

When it comes to the failure of education in these parts of the country (more than 50 percent of students in these suburbs do not obtain an advanced degree), who is responsible? For obvious reasons, Kepel highlights education as a major challenge in his main conclusion, which is directed at the government.

These socioeconomic issues are bound to have a negative impact on Muslims dealing with their identity, leading them to feel that being Muslim might equal exclusion from French society. But this phenomenon is not unique to matters of religious identity; it is also an issue of being part of an underprivileged social class. Kepel explains that “this assertion of identity should not be understood too literally; it is also another way of asking to integrate in society, not necessarily to reject it.”

In no way does this absolve French Muslims of their responsibility. In fact, addressing the other side of the problem falls to religious, intellectual or cultural Muslim leaders themselves. This recent eruption of the public expression of Muslim faith has been sudden, often chaotic, identity-based and at times reactive. The majority of Muslim leaders have yet to realise the level of concern this has triggered in secular societies, such as France’s.

One thing is certain: everyone agrees on the values of the French republic. The issues under question are strictly of a technical and ethical nature. I propose two principles that might help us, within existing laws, to find viable ethical-technical solutions. Discourse ethics is a concept coined by German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas, for whom mutual understanding is the product of debate and discussion. Additionally, reasonable accommodation, a legal concept invented by Canadians to allow accommodations when possible in order to avoid discriminating against minorities, could also offer a general framework for the resolution of this major social issue of integration.

Take the example of Muslims praying on the street. The street prayer ban in September made media headlines. The solution to this problem involving the perceived takeover of public space is incredibly simple and can be addressed through the Canadian principle of reasonable accommodation. Namely, since Friday prayers are fairly short a mayor could, for example, rent out a room to those observing it for a few hours, pending the purchase of their own facility.

In the absence of any other solution, and to accommodate the needs of the faithful, a Muslim congregation could also conduct two or three prayer services every Friday, instead of just one in which people spill over onto the street. This canonical option is indeed possible.

With a modicum of goodwill and common sense, a solution can always be found, provided ideology, politics and fanaticism don’t mix. The key is a desire to live together in respect and fraternity – the national motto of France.

Tareq Oubrou is Director of the Bordeaux Mosque and president of the Imams of France Association.

Filed under: Opinion

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Arab Spring Carves Out Potential Role for Arab Israelis

By Natalia Simanovsky

Pictures of unarmed demonstrators clashing with police and security forces have become the defining images of the Arab Spring. The wave of mass protests and demonstrations has led to the collapse of despotic regimes including those led by Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

In all three cases, the overthrow of these leaders did not come at the hand of the military – the traditional guardian of revolution and political change in the Middle East – but through civil society. In fact, with the orchestration of the Arab Spring, civil society is proving to be a major player in domestic and regional politics.

Although its influence on politics and policy should not be overestimated, civil society’s growing role in shaping policy in the Middle East is creating new potential for cooperation among civil society networks between states, and perhaps between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

Undoubtedly, the Arab Spring has presented challenges for Israel. Yet the opportunities for greater understanding and cooperation also exist in the form of people-to-people relations, whereby civil society organisations could take the lead in forging links between citizens of Arab states and citizens of Israel.

It is no coincidence that social justice protests spread across the entire Middle East, with Israel also staging its own protests, culminating in the largest demonstration in the state’s history. And while the socio-political and economic conditions in the Arab states and Israel could not be any more different, they share a common feature: Arabs.

Many Arab Israelis joined the protests across Israel to back the Arab struggle for equality. The events of the Arab Spring and the Israeli social justice movement have now positioned Arab Israelis as a group with the most potential to bridge the gaps between Israel and its Arab neighbours provided, of course, that their role is cultivated.

The Arab Israeli community is arguably the most vulnerable sector in Israeli society, with Israeli Jewish organisations (in addition to foreign organisations) working to improve its socio-economic wellbeing. A more determined effort on behalf of Israel to improve this particular community’s conditions would have a positive effect not just on Jewish Israeli and Arab Israeli relations, but also on some of Israel’s Arab neighbours, such as Egypt.

The potential for Egyptian civil society networks to be more open and willing to partner with Israeli networks on, for example, economic issues would increase. In other words, Arab Israelis could be a conduit for greater civil society cooperation between Arab states and Israel.

An area with potential to develop as a source of stronger regional cooperation between Israel and Arab states is natural disaster recovery and relief. For example, the recent earthquake in Erci?, Turkey provided an opportunity for a thaw in Turkish-Israeli relations, with Israeli specialists providing badly needed assistance to Turkish earthquake victims. And while it is unfortunate that it takes something like a major disaster to spur on cooperation, tragedy has been known to sow seeds of cooperative behaviour.

Here, too, Arab Israelis could play a leading role whereby they would receive emergency training and assist in rescue operations. Training and subsequent employment would lead to better socio-economic conditions and contribute to the greater good of Israeli society in particular, and Arab society in general.

Of course cooperation between civil society organisations in the Arab states and Israel will be significantly affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Chances for success are directly linked to Israel’s actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians east of the Green Line; yet, the more Israel is viewed by the regional community to be genuinely committed to ending the Occupation, concluding final status negotiations with the Palestinians and bringing its Arab sector into the fold, the greater the chance for genuine regional cooperation.

While it may be too early to say that civil society can cure the ills of Middle Eastern societies, its ever-increasing role may be the starting point for new and perhaps surprising cross-border alliances.

Natalia Simanovsky has worked as a research officer at multiple think-tanks in North America and the Middle East.

Filed under: Opinion

Thursday, November 17, 2011

President Urges End to Freeport Strike


President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called for an immediate resolution of a nearly two-month strike by workers at a giant US-owned gold and copper mine in Papua province.

About one-third of the 23,000 workers at Freeport McMoRan’s Grasberg mining complex, who have been on strike since mid-September over better wages, threatened on Tuesday to extend their action until mid-December if no agreement is reached this week.

Freeport, the largest taxpayer to the government, has said the strike is costing it losses of US$19 million a day.

“I’ve given a special order for the labour dispute at Freeport to be managed properly to find an immediate solution,” the president said at a meeting with cabinet members at the state palace on Wednesday.

Late last month Freeport declared force majeure on shipments from the Grasberg mine, saying it was unable to make good on contractual obligations, triggering a spike in global copper prices.

“The central government has an obligation to facilitate and mediate in order to help find a solution,” the president said.

Freeport’s losses are also losses for the government, which collected $1.4 billion in taxes and royalties in the first half of the year, and dividends on its 9.36-percent stake in the company.

The workers originally demanded drastic wage increases, from a minimum hourly rate of $1.50 to $3.50 an hour, and are now calling for $4 an hour.

They claim to be Freeport’s lowest paid workers in the world.

The strikes have also triggered ambushes and clashes with police that have killed eight people in the vicinity of the mine north of Timika town.

In the latest unrest unknown gunmen opened fire on Monday at a Freeport vehicle in the mine area, injuring a police guard in the face, national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution said.

Last year, Freeport reported sales revenues of more than $5 billion from Grasberg.

Filed under: The Nation

US Secret Service Arrives for Summit Preps


An American Secret Service team has arrived in Bali ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama for an ASEAN summit next week.

The president is expected to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting, which will be held in Nusa Dua from November 14 to 19.

According to Jumarto, commander of the Ngurah Rai Airbase, which shares a runway with Bali’s commercial airport, a US Air Force plane carrying the specialist team arrived on Monday afternoon.

“It landed at 3pm,” he said.

Jumarto said he did not know the full details of the plane’s role, but said that it had carried all the American security staff intending to guard the president and oversee security during his visit, as well as security equipment.

“In addition, the plane was also carrying all the fittings and items required by protocol for Obama during his stay in Bali,” Jumarto said.

The full details of Obama’s arrival and length of stay have yet to be made public. However, he is expected to visit the craft village of Mas near Ubud on November 18.

“We’ve been coordinating and meeting with Bali Police on technical issues related to security,” said Klungkung Police chief Hadi Purnomo, adding that Obama was expected to visit the Rudana Museum in Mas.

Meanwhile, domestic security forces have continued to make wider preparations for the summit, with Bali Police holding a joint exercise in Denpasar on Monday.

Bali Police chief spokesman Hariadi said the exercise, which involved officers from various police areas in Bali as well as civilian security staff, was intended to create better teamwork and a unified vision.

“This exercise was to create a unified vision amongst all territorial units, especially the police. Each unit has its own task, for example the traffic unit, who will have to escort the state guests en route to their hotels,” he said.

Police have also prepared crowd-control equipment including water cannons in anticipation of major protests, while 80 specialist vehicles have been provided by the national government to aid with security operations.

Filed under: Headlines

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 11-17, 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.

Dietary Habits May Help to Prevent Alzheimer’s  
The most common form of dementia among the aging population, Alzheimer’s Disease may be beneficially impacted by dietary habits. Fiorella Biasi, from University of Turin, and colleagues authored a review of studies regarding the influence of dietary habits on the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. The team reports that changes in the metabolism of lipids, with the accumulation of oxidized derivatives, may contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Specifically, the researchers take note of a critical balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and cholesterol, as a key contributor to the onset of Alzheimer’s, because these nutrients are essential for brain homeostasis. As well, the team notes that several studies indicate the consumption of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant vitamin, corresponds to a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s. The authors conclude that:  “The use of a diet with an appropriate [omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids] ratio, rich in healthy oils, fish and antioxidants, such as flavonoids, but low in cholesterol-containing foods, can be a beneficial component in the clinical strategies of prevention of [Alzheimer's Disease].”

Dr Klatz observes: Concluding that a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as antioxidant vitamins, may beneficially impact the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, these researchers submit key evidence supporting the notion that dietary interventions that may help to delay dementia.

Exercise & Healthy Fats Boosts Bone Health      
Studies have suggested that dietary fats and physical activity influence bone health. B. Tartibian, from Urmia University in Iran, and colleagues enrolled 79 healthy post-menopausal women, assigning them to one of four groups: group 1 was the control (no supplements or exercise); group 2 engaged in aerobic exercise (walking and jogging, achieving up to 65 percent of maximum heart rate); group 3 received a daily supplement of 1000 mg omega-3 (as 180 mg EPA/120 mg DHA); and group 4 received both the supplement and engaged in aerobic activity. After 24 weeks, the team found that the combined omega-3/exercise group displayed bone mineral density (BMD) increases of 15 percent in the lower back, and 19 percent in the thigh bone at the hip. As well, inflammatory markers among the combined omega-3/exercise group improved: levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) were reduced by 40 percent, and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) decreased by 80 percent. The study authors submit that: “The present study demonstrates that long-term aerobic exercise training plus [omega-3] supplementation have a synergistic effect in attenuating inflammation and augmenting [bone mineral density] in post-menopausal osteoporosis.”

Remarks Dr Goldman: Finding that postmenopausal women who engage in aerobic exercise and consume of omega-3 fatty acids have improved bone mineral density (BMD), this team submits an effective approach to bone health that is accessible and easy to implement.

Ginger May Reduce Colon Cancer Risks      
Previously, a number of studies have demonstrated ginger’s potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. Suzanna M. Zick, from the University of Michigan Medical Center, completed a study involving 30 men and women, who consumed either a supplement containing 2 g of ginger extract (equivalent to 20 g of raw ginger root), or a placebo, daily for 28 days. The researchers found that certain markers of inflammation, known as eicosonoids, were reduced by 28 percent among the subjects who consumed the ginger supplement. The team reports that: “Ginger has the potential to decrease eicosanoid levels … [and] also seemed to be tolerable and safe.”

Comments Dr Klatz: By reducing inflammation, ginger may help to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. This is an important discovery that furthers the evidence suggesting a functional health role for this food.

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 endeavours and to sign-up for your free subscription to Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.

Filed under: Longevity News & Review

Ex-Citibank Manager on Trial for Fraud

An former senior executive of Citibank Indonesia went on trial this week for bank fraud and allegedly embezzling US$5 million from customers’ accounts, crimes which carry a 15-year jail term.

Inong Malinda Dee, 49, allegedly embezzled the money from wealthy customers’ savings accounts between 2007 and February this year when she was a premium client manager at the bank.

“The defendant has proceeded with transfers of money from customers’ savings without their consent at least 117 times,” prosecutor Tatang Sutarna told South Jakarta District Court.

Dee, who was dismissed from her post in June, also allegedly laundered the stolen money through other bank accounts to try to cover her tracks, he said.

“The defendant could be jailed up to 15 years jail if proven guilty of violation of bank procedures and money laundering,” the prosecutor added.

In May the central bank temporarily barred Citibank from opening new branches or issuing new credit cards due to the alleged misconduct in the local subsidiary of the US lender.

The trial will resume next week.

Filed under: The Nation

Rainy Season Could Exacerbate Bird Flu

The start of the rainy season could see an increase in incidents of bird flu amongst humans, as the damp conditions encourage respiratory infections, health experts have said.

Ngurah Mahardika, a flu specialist at Udayana University, said bird-to-human transmission of the disease was more likely during wet weather.

“In high humidity, the virus is able to survive a little bit longer. Besides, in the transition period between the dry and the rainy seasons, poultry easily get sick and are therefore more vulnerable to the virus,” he said.

However, Mahardika said that it was still only those who lived in close proximity to poultry who were at serious risk.

“It would require proximity of less than 10 meters between a sick bird and a human for the virus to spread. A person can also easily be infected when in contact with the body fluids of sick poultry. This can also happen in the dry season, not only in the rainy season,” he said.

“The public should not worry too much. As long as they don’t come into contact with sick poultry or with meat from sick poultry, they will not be infected,” he said, adding that people should always be careful when buying poultry, either for home consumption or as offerings for religious ceremonies.

“Many cases have occurred in areas where a major religious ceremony was held. If not necessary, people shouldn’t buy live poultry or meat, unless they buy it from a trusted slaughterhouse or breeder,” he said.

Mahardika said no human-to-human transmission of the disease had yet been recorded in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, head of the Bali Animal Husbandry Department, Putu Sumantra, said another increased risk factor was the continuing smuggling of live poultry into Bali from other parts of Indonesia.

“An outbreak could occur due to the increasing number of poultry being transported to the island,” he said.

Filed under: Health

Security Tightened at Gilimanuk


Police at Gilimanuk Port in Jembrana have begun to increase security measures against illegal migrants ahead of the ASEAN summit.

Head of the Gilimanuk maritime police Made Prihenjagat said his officers were anticipated all potential threats.

Gilimanuk is the main point of access for passengers and road traffic from neighbouring Java, and the major entry point for migrant workers coming to the island.

Prihenjagat said that as well as making closer checks of the baggage and identity of travellers, officers at the port would also be conducting more thorough examinations of vehicles arriving in Bali.

They would also be conducting checks of migrants resident in the surrounding community, which is home to a large number of settlers from across the water in Java.

“For this operation against the immigrant population we will work side by side with the local communities,” he said, adding that they would have access to local and regional residency records ahead of the sweeps.

Meanwhile, security staff at Ketapang, the port in Banyuwangi on the opposite side of the Bali Strait, have also tightened security ahead of the summit.

Banyuwangi Police spokesman Soejarwo said that around 900 extra officers would be deployed around the port during the summit.

“Security is a priority because Ketapang harbour area is one of the major entrances to the island of Bali. We must guard against all threats,” he said.

Soejarwo said all Bali-bound passengers would undergo ID checks before boarding the ferries for Gilimanuk.

“The examinations will focus on the identity of the passengers and their luggage, so that passengers who do not have ID cards will not be able to cross over to Bali,” he said.

Filed under: Headlines

HIV Training Given to Medical Staff, Students

Udayana University’s medical faculty hosted a training session on Sunday to teach health workers how to avoid the risk of HIV infection from patients.

Around 300 medical students, as well as professional midwives, were taught various skills and risk factors.

Yudha Ganesa, a member of university staff who helped organise the session said that awareness of the risk of HIV infection was essential for all health professionals.

“In older days, many physicians refused to provide health services to patients with HIV-AIDS because they did not know how to protect themselves from the disease,” he said, adding that as awareness increased such stigma was reduced.

Ganesa said that Udayana hosted the training session on an annual basis.

“The number of medical school students participating in the training and joining the student group has steadily increased,” he said.

The head of infectious diseases at Bali’s main Sanglah Hospital, Tuti Parwati Merati, said health workers needed to be fully informed about HIV prevention.

“At Sanglah we use two approaches – the implementation of universal precautionary measures and limited quarantine,” she said.

Meanwhile, other officials at Sanglah have announced that a free HIV test programme for pregnant women will be expanded, to help reduce mother-to-baby infections.

“Women who have been married more than once or who display physical symptoms generally associated with HIV-AIDS will be offered the screening test,” maternity nurse Gusti Ayu Erawati said, adding that the test was not compulsory.

According to Erawati, if a pregnant woman was diagnosed before giving birth, special measures could be taken and the risk of transmission to the child could be greatly reduced.

Since launching its Mother-to-Child Transmission Prevention scheme (PMTCT) in 2005, a total of 142 HIV-positive women have successfully delivered babies without infection at Sanglah.

“The number of pregnant women joining the programme has steadily increased over the years. The highest increase took place in 2010, when the number of participants rose by 37 percent compared to the previous year,” Erawati said.

Filed under: Health

No Talking Shop, Please

Members of the dreary Association of Southeast Asian Nations need to do something worthwhile in their week-long series of meetings here next week to convince their respective populations that they are capable of anything other than vapidity.

Their docile leaders, who traditionally eschew criticising the excesses of fellow member nations, including human rights abuses, due to the unwritten rule of “non-interference” even when sagacity demands otherwise, will have the ear of the world insofar as the United States is concerned as least.

During his attendance at the annual jamboree – each year derided by commentators as little more than a talking shop where nothing of substance is ever decided, much less achieved – President Barack Obama will be hoping for progress in matters concerning US relations with members of the 10-nation bloc that has its secretariat in Jakarta. He should also press leaders to take forceful stands internally and goad ASEAN into becoming a force for good.

Sadly, the grouping’s maxim, One Vision, One Identity, One Community, is a dream that has been punctured by years of inaction and a singular lack of ambition.

As the Western world, long the established powerhouse region, drowns in seemingly insurmountable debt oceans, it is the vibrant countries of Southeast Asia that have been rising. While many, including Indonesia, were felled by the Asian financial crisis of 1997, all have escaped the fiscal contagion swirling around the US and Europe since 2008 that now threatens a double-dip as countries in Europe declare bankruptcy in domino effect. The savings and spending power of people around Southeast Asia, coupled with robust manufacturing exports, ensures continued stability.

It is against this enviable backdrop that political and human rights issued must be tackled. It is incontestable that abuses are being committed in countries that are members of ASEAN, and as they come together in Bali next week they must be held to account. The conventional reserve of Asian cultures should have no place at the discussion table.

Filed under: Editorial

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beggars Swept Up


The Bali authorities have ordered a clampdown on beggars in the run-up to the ASEAN Summit and US President Barack Obama’s visit.

The Denpasar and Badung authorities have been conducting sweeps of local streets since the weekend, focussing on intersections with traffic lights, popular spots for beggars and itinerant hawkers to target motorists.

“We continued to sweep until Tuesday, November 8, so they will no longer be interfering with the beauty of the city,” said head of the Manpower and Social Affairs Department Erwin Suryadarma.

Suryadarma said the significant numbers of beggars in the Bali capital came from both within the province and beyond.

“Many visitors will come to the city of Denpasar during the summit, including state guests, and it’s important that they are not disturbed by beggars,” he said.

During the initial sweep on Saturday night, ministry officials targeted Jl Mahendradatta, Sanglah market, Kreneng market, Badung market, Jl Hasanudin and Jl Diponegoro.

A total of 25 beggars, including 11 children, were detained.

Suryadarma said six of the beggars came from East Java; the rest were from Bali.

“They were placed at a halfway house and we will send them back to their respective home villages on Tuesday,” he said.

Filed under: Headlines

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Three Months’ Jail Sought for Aussie Drug Teen


Prosecutors recommended on Friday a three-month jail sentence for an Australian teenage boy charged with drug possession on the resort island of Bali.

The 14-year-old boy was facing a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment after being caught in Bali last month with nearly seven grams of marijuana while on holiday with his parents.

“We demand the defendant spend three months in prison, less than the usual sentence time. We have taken into consideration that he is a child and that his behaviour can change,” prosecutor I Gusti Putu Gede Atmaja said after the closed-door hearing.

Under articles 127 and 128 of Indonesia’s narcotics law, if the boy as a minor has a documented history of drug use, he could escape a prison term altogether and undergo rehabilitation instead.

“We have asked for the boy to be excused under article 127 and 128, all our evidence and witnesses support that. We hope the judge will rule fairly,” the boy’s lawyer, Muhammad Rifan, said.

The defence has provided the court with a letter from an Australian doctor describing the boy as a drug user, and a local psychologist who has examined the boy since he was arrested more than a month ago supported the argument.

The boy has been detained since October 4, when police arrested him in Kuta.

The judge’s verdict is scheduled for November 25.

Filed under: Headlines

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Drug Teen’s Parents Deny Media Deal


The parents of an Australian teenager on trial in Bali for drug possession have denied selling rights to his story to a media network for a six-figure sum.

The 14-year-old boy is facing a maximum of six years in prison after being caught last month with nearly seven grams of marijuana in Kuta, where he was on holiday with his parents.

“There are so many journalists from Australia here looking for stories, they simply make them up,” the boy’s parents said in a statement on Monday.

Australia’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that the boy’s parents had sold exclusive rights to their son’s story to the Nine television network for between A$200,000 (US$208,000) and A$300,000.

The network spokesman David Hurley said there was “categorically no deal.” There are concerns that such a deal could hurt the boy’s chances of escaping a jail sentence.

The statement said that the boy’s father was a “successful businessman and does not need the money that has been suggested.”

The Sunday Telegraph reported that the deal was clinched by a celebrity agent and included an interview with the network’s 60 Minutes current affairs programme and Woman’s Day magazine.

A 60 Minutes team was reportedly preparing to fly to Bali to interview the boy after Friday’s hearing, in which prosecutors will recommend a sentence.

Detained since October 4, the boy is hoping to evade a jail sentence by proving he was already addicted to the drug when he came to Indonesia and should instead be sentenced to rehabilitation.

Filed under: Headlines

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

3 Days in Bali: Itinerary Ideas

by Cristina | September 14th, 2011  

Bali is one of the most sought after travel destinations in Asia. Honeymooners love it for the romantic feel and lovely weather; budget travelers enjoy it for the variety of experiences and the low budget needed for lodging, food and sightseeing. Those who seek a cultural experience will definitely enjoy Bali and those looking for bargains and traditional goods will be in heaven.

Three days in Bali is not enough to experience what this place is about, but it gives you the time to see some of the highlights. We assume you’ll be staying in Ubud, a city popular among many types of travelers. The itinerary takes you to the famous Money Forest, some temples, the seafood stalls located right on the beach, the crafts villages, the volcano, the rice terraces and even to a Bali dance performance.

After you land at Denpasar, take the regular public bus to Ubud. Tickets cost Rp 8,000 and the travel time is about an hour. However, this is a good choice if you arrive before 4 p.m. since most buses run until then. A more expensive option – ticket: Rp 50,000 – are the private buses which link the airport directly to Ubud and they run four times a day.

You can start exploring Bali with a visit to the Monkey Forest. This is a sacred forest inhabited by monkeys. Make sure to walk through the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, a temple of the dead, as well. Don’t bring any food as you really don’t want the moneys to bite you.

In the late afternoon, go to the Jimbaran Seafood stalls. This a 3 km area of beach side cafes , in total about 40 places to eat. Make sure to try the seafood and don’t be afraid to taste the local delicacies.

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel and then it’s time to do some shopping.

The road to Sanur passes through a series of crafts villages. Celuk is known for the silver jewelry, Mas for the wood carvings, Batuan for the paintings and Batubulan/Singakerta for the stone carvings. Either rent a car with driver or take the local bus and spend some time haggling for interesting souvenirs to take back home.

Get back to Ubud and eat lunch. Then, it’s time to see the Tegallalang area. It’s located just 15 min drive outside Ubud (so you can take the bus). The area is well known for the green terraced hillside, home to traditional rice paddies.

Come back to Ubud and attend a Balinese dance performance at the Palace Ubud. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. And it’s considered one of the best such shows. Tickets cost Rp80,000 (about US$10).

Wake up early in order to catch a morning bus to Kintamani area. Here you can find Mount Batur – which is an active volcano – and Lake Batur. The scenery from the viewing point is worth the trip. This is a famous tourist place and it will get crowded. It’s best to arrive as early as possible. Plus, the most spectacular views are between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. especially when the weather is clear.

Get back to Ubud for lunch and then go to Gunung Kawi, the presumed burial complex of King Anak Wungsu and his many wives. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes as the temple is reached after climbing 371 steps.

It’s time to travel back to the airport and catch your flight home.

Photo credits: Monkey forest , Tegallalang rice terrace , Mount Batur

What to Eat in Bali: Famous Indonesian Foods

by Nick | September 15th, 2011  

Balinese food is somewhat different to Indonesian food in that it often includes pork items (lawar, babi guling etc.) and tends to more pedas (spicy) and less manis (sweet) than Javanese cuisine, which has a wider range of sauces.

However, authentic Balinese food is rarely enjoyed by the tourists as it’s seldom served in hotels and restaurants. The staple daily food is rice, accompanied by vegetables and a small amount of fish or other meat. Of course, condiments are always used.

The food most tourists see as Indonesian food comes from Java. Here are some popular dishes from Indonesia, that you might get served in Bali.

Ayam goreng – fried chicken, often served with rice and lalapan.

Bakso – spicy meatball soup. This dish is influenced by the Chinese meatballs.

Bakmi goreng – fried noodle, meat and vegetables.

Botok daging sapi – spicy minced beef, tofu, tempeh and coconut milk.

Bubur ayam – chicken porridge. Served at the pasar pagi (morning markets).

Cap cay – mixed fried vegetables (originally a Chinese dish, similar to the Cantonese style).

Es campur – fruits, gelatin, chocolate sauce, milk with shaved ice.

Gado gado – steamed cabbage, bean sprouts, potato and other vegetables served with peanut sauce.

Kangkung – water spinach (a popular, stringy vegetable).

Krupuk – prawn crackers in a range of sizes, served with nasi campur.

Lalapan – raw vegetables (green beans, cabbages, cucumbers, mint leaves) served with sambal. Accompanies ayam bakar and ikan bakar (grilled chicken and fish).

Lontong – Steamed rice compressed into a roll, inside a banana leaf. Often served with sate ayam at street-side sate vendors.

Lumpia – spring rolls containing diced carrot, bean sprouts and other items. Semarang Java is famous for lumpia.

Nasi campur – the national dish. Means ‘mixed rice’ and is a portion of steamed rice with an assortment of meats, vegetables, tofu, tempeh and hot sambal.

Nasi goreng – fried rice. The most common Indonesian food item served in tourist warungs and restaurants. Often served with a fried egg on top.

Nasu putih – white rice. Other options include nasi kuning (yellow rice) and nasi merah (red rice).

Pisang goreng – fried banana. Popular at local markets where you can get 4 small fried bananas for 1,000rp.

Rijstaffel – rice table. The Dutch colonial version of how to serve Indonesian food. Many dishes with meats, fish and vegetables.

Rujak – Indonesian fruit salad made from unripe papaya, apple and other fruits. Served with chili, salt and caramel.

Rujak petis – fruit and vegetable salad with spicy peanut and shrimp sauce.

Tahu goreng telur – an omelette with tofu.

Sate – sometimes called ‘satay’. Small strips of meat cooked over charcoal. Javanese sate vendors sell sate ayam (chicken sate with peanut sauce) and sate kambing (goat sate). Balinese sate vendors often sell sate babi (pork sate with a deliciously tangy, spicy sauce), especially outside ceremonies. Generally a Balinese sate vendor will sell you 10 pieces for 5,000rp.

Sayur bening – spinach and corn soup.

Urap-urap / urap timum – vegetables in shaved coconut and chili. A Balinese dish which is a pleasant surprise when found in a warung.

The best ways to explore Indonesian food are to:
1) Visit a night market and try some things.
2) Have lunch at a warung popular with locals, pointing out items you’d like to try.
3) Stop at the road side for some sate or other local snack.

Photo credits: Ayam goreng , Bakso , Bakmi goreng , Bubur ayam , Cap cay , Es campur , Gado gado , Kangkung , Krupuk , Lalapan , Lumpia , Nasi campur , Nasi goreng , Pisang goreng , Satay , Sayur bening

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Getting from Bali to Lombok (and return)

by Cristina | September 13th, 2011  

Lombok is an island in Indonesia, part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is separated from Bali by the Lombok Strait. Lombok is what travelers consider “unspoiled Bali”, with pristine beaches, lovely waterfalls and a volcano overlooking the island. It’s still not overrun by travelers and thankfully the island still retains the traditional way of life. While there are expensive hotels here, those are the exceptions as most accommodation is cheap and traditional.

Quick summary

There are three ways to get from Bali to Lombok: by plane, by high speed ferry and by public ferry. The backpacker’s way is definitely by slow pubic ferry. For under US$5 you can get between Bali and Lombok in about 4-5 hours.
If you are in a hurry, then consider flying. Since airfare is comparable to high speed ferry ticket, it’s definitely worth it to travel in about 35 min between the two places.

Selaparang International Airport (airport code: AMI) is the only airport serving the island of Lombok. Flights to/from Denpasar (Bali) are run by Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia Air Transport, Lion Air, Merpati Nusantara Airlines, TransNusa Air Services, Trigana Air Service and Wings Air.

On large booking engines (eg. Kayak), you can find one way tickets from US$154. The flight takes 35 min and is operated by Garuda Indonesia. However, if you run a search online, you can find flights from Bali to Lombok for fares starting at US$28 one way, on Lion Air. Even flights from Garuda Indonesia can be book for fares starting at US$78 one way. But please note that the fares are time sensitive and you can book cheaper flights if you wait until two weeks before departure. Otherwise, expect to pay from US$78 one way.

There are quite a lot of ferry companies running services between Bali and Lombok.

Blue Water Express fast boat runs services to Lombok from either Serangan or Padang Bai. Boats from Serangan depart at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. (this one makes a stop in Padang Bai), while the boat from Padang Bai departs at 11:25 a.m. The travel time is between 1 h 15 min and 2h 30 min.

Rates start at IDR 690,000 / US$80 one way if you depart from Serangan and IDR 590,000 / US$68.44 one way if you depart from Padang Bai. Children (age 3-12) get discounts (IDR 590,000 / US$68.55 from Serangan, IDR 490,000 / US$57 from Padang Bai respectively).

Cheaper alternatives can be found. For example, Ocean Star also runs services from Padang Bai to Lombok. Ferries leave at 8 a.m. and arrive at 10:30 a.m. and the rates are Rp. 660.000 / US$76.56 one way for adults and Rp. 350.000 / US$40.60 for children (age 2-10).

Narooma fast boat services runs ferries from Benoa Harbour Bali island to Lombok. Ferries depart daily at 8 a.m. and arrive at 10:30 a.m. Rates are Rp. 680.000/ US$79 one way for an adult and Rp. 480.000 / US 55.70 for a child (age 2-10).

If you purchase a return ticket, from any company, you’ll get a discount.

The public ferry is the cheapest way to get between Bali and Lombok. Ferries depart from Padang Bai (East Bali) every 2 hours and they also carry vehicles. There are departures between 9:20 p.m. and 9:50 a.m. The travel time is between 4 and 5 hours. The prices are really cheap compared to the high speed ferries. Adult rates are IDR 31,000 /US$4, while children pay IDR 19,000 / US$2.20 one way.

Photo credit

Australian Teen to Stand Trial Next Week


A 14-year-old Australian being held in Bali for alleged drug possession is facing three charges, and may stand trial as soon as next week.

The authorities have said that the trial will be kept as low-key as possible to avoid “intimidating” the youth, with judges and prosecutors wearing batik shirts instead of formal robes and the proceedings closed to the public. And instead of the usual three judges in adult trials, there may be just one hearing the case.

The boy, who has been named as Lewis Mason, is from Morisset Park, south of Newcastle, New South Wales.

He was arrested on October 4 with 6.9 grams of marijuana. He had allegedly bought the drug from an unidentified dealer in Kuta and was returning to the hotel on Jl Padma where he was staying with his parents when he was arrested.

On Tuesday Mason was formally handed over by police to prosecutors, and three charges were filed, opening the way for a trial to begin. The most serious of the charges faces a possible 12-year sentence, though this is often halved for juveniles.

A large crowd of reporters surrounded Mason and his parents as they arrived at the prosecutor’s office in Denpasar, and his lawyer, Mohammad Rifan, later said that the teenager had been frightened by the attention.

“It’s like a nightmare for him,” he said.

Amser Simanjuntak has already been appointed as chief judge for the trial, but he said that preparations would take at least three days, and that the trial was unlikely to begin before Tuesday.

Chief prosecutor I Gusti Gede Putu Atmaja said that although efforts would be made to expedite the process the trial could still take several weeks, adding that the court would be closed and efforts made to ensure the defendant was not unduly intimidated.

“We’re going to wear batik to make it less frightening to the child,” he said.

After the hearing at the prosecutor’s office Mason was returned to the immigration detention centre in Jimbaran where he has been held since being moved from Police headquarters in Denpasar on Saturday.

He is now being held in a 35-square-metre room with access to a PlayStation games console. His parents are allowed regular access.

“Considering his age, we have decided to move him to the immigration detention while waiting for the prosecutors to process the dossier and bring it to the court,” Taswem Tarib of the Bali Legal and Human Rights Department said.

“Indonesia is a lawful country, with a sense of humanity. We protect children’s rights. We consider that it is impossible to move him to Kerobokan Penitentiary because of the limited space and unfavourable conditions,” he added.

Southern Bali does not have a specialist detention centre for juveniles, and 11 underage Indonesian citizens are being housed alongside adults in the main Kerobokan Prison, nine of them sharing a single 15-square metre room.

Tarib dismissed claims that Mason had received special treatment as a foreigner.

“This is not a discrimination against Indonesian child prisoners,” he said, but he pointed out that the immigration detention centre was designed to handle foreign inmates.

Australia’s foreign minister Kevin Rudd welcomed the boy’s transfer, which came after reports that he could be moved to Kerobokan.

“We are also grateful for the intervention by the Indonesian authorities to ensure the boy has been held in appropriate detention facilities,” he said, adding that despite the efforts to fast-track the case and to avoid the customary four-month wait for trial, the process could still take some time.

“We respect Indonesia’s laws and will continue to work with the Indonesian legal processes,” he said.

Indonesian officials, meanwhile, have denied that there is any connection between the expedited trial process for Mason, and the extradition to Indonesia of a suspected Australian paedophile who is alleged to have abused boys while working as a teacher at an international school in Jakarta.

Tommy Watiliu, deputy chief of the national police’s special crimes unit, said that no deal had been done.

“This is nothing to do with that. This case is simply based on an extradition agreement with Australia,” he said.

Filed under: Headlines

Hospital Calls for Help in Bird Flu Fight

Staff at Bangli General Hospital have called on the national and provincial governments to provide additional assistance to help treat cases of suspected bird flu.

The hospital has come in for criticism for failing to diagnose two children who were suffering from bird flu, and who subsequently died after being transferred to the main Sanglah Hospital earlier this month. The children’s mother also died.

However, hospital director Wayan Sudiana said at the weekend that the Bangli facility lacked sufficient specialist equipment and specialist staff to deal with an outbreak of the disease.

He said the authorities needed to provide training for staff, and new facilities such as isolation rooms.

He added that the hospital was not equipped with a lab to test for bird flu. The two boys who subsequently died were diagnosed as suffering from pneumonia by Bangli doctors.

“We would like our hospital to become a centre for bird flu treatment, but of course, we need assistance to set up facilities such as isolation rooms, and for training of our existing staff,” Sudiana said.

There are currently three hospitals officially designated as treatment centres for bird flu in Bali – Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar, and the district hospitals in Tabanan and Gianyar.

Filed under: Health

Six Arrested over $1.5m Drugs Seizure


Customs officials arrested six people after they foiled another two attempts to smuggle crystal-methamphetamine worth Rp13.6 billion (US$1.5 million) into Bali in the past week.

The first arrest came on October 19. Brett Savage, a 44-year-old South African citizen, was caught at Ngurah Rai International Airport after arriving on a Singapore Airlines flight from Johannesburg via Singapore.

After noticing an unusual item during a routine x-ray of his baggage, officers opened his suitcase and found the drugs hidden inside. A total of 2.993 kilograms of shabu-shabu, as the drug is locally known, was seized, customs chief Made Wijaya said on Wednesday.

Wijaya said that following Savage’s detention two other people were arrested, an Indonesian citizen identified as SH who was suspected of being the receiver of the drugs, and a Nigerian identified as EP, who was arrested in Jakarta.

A further arrest came on Sunday as another South African, 38-year-old Kedibone Motsweneng, who arrived on the same Johannesburg-Singapore-Denpasar route, was caught carrying 2.458 grams of shabu-shabu.

Two further arrests followed, of a female Indonesian identified as AR in a hotel in Bali, and another Indonesian identified as ES in Surabaya, East Java.

Wijaya said that the similarities between the two cases suggested that they were connected.

“Given the modes used, it does seem that the cases are very similar,” he said.

Both South Africans face a possible death sentence under Article 113 of anti-narcotics laws.

Filed under: Headlines

10 Days in Indonesia: Itinerary Ideas

by Cristina | September 20th, 2011  

Bali is one of the most famous places to visit in Indonesia. It is totally different than the rest of the country and offers a wealth of culture, beaches and friendly atmosphere. You can spend an entire 10-day vacation in Bali but it’s also worth it to check out some other places in Indonesia as well.

This itinerary starts in Bali , explores some of its landmarks and the takes you to Lombok for a day. Then you’ll enjoy an active day on Kanawa Island before heading to the capital of Jakarta, from where you’ll fly back home.

Itinerary assumptions:

fly into Denpasar (Bali) fly out of Jakarta use the public transport and limit the use of domestic flightsstay in 2-3 star hotels

Arrive in Denpasar . Spend the rest of the day exploring at least one of the temples located in the city. Pura Maospahit is definitely a good choice. It’s an ancient temple, with history dating back to the 14th century. Much of it was destroyed during an earthquake but there are some original parts still standing. Enjoy some traditional food at dinner.

Travel to Ubud and check in at the hotel. On your first day, take a bus to Tegallalang area and enjoy the lovely scenery, with the rice terraces and the green hillsides. Come back to Ubud and explore the Monkey Forest. Then, in the evening, check out the Jimbaran Seafood stalls and make sure to enjoy some traditional Balinese foods.

On your second day here, take the morning bus to Kintamani area. Spend the day soaking up the atmosphere and the scenery. Mount Batur and Lake Batur are popular spots for the tourists but totally worth your time. Enjoy a relaxing evening.

>>read more about 3 Days in Bali: Itinerary Ideas

Before departing for Lombok, spend some time at the Badung Central Market, which is at its best in the morning. Buy some treats for the long journey ahead of you.
Board a bus from Denpasar to Padang Bai (1-2 hours, depending on the traffic). Now take the ferry from Padang Bai to Lembar (Lombok). The journey takes about 4 hours.
Spend the rest of the day soaking up the atmosphere and checking out the area.

>>read more about Getting from Bali to Lombok

In the morning, head to Tanjung A’an, a lovely area near Kuta Beach. It is famous for its sand which looks like pepper. Arrange with a guide (preferably someone recommend from the hotel or a travel agency) to take you to the 3 famous waterfalls located close to Lombok. The first one is on the slopes of Mount Rinjani, the second one is a further 1 hours walk and the 3rd one is the hardest to get to and requires some climbing experience. Spend the evening relaxing at the hotel.

From Lombok, take the public bus to Bima. Then board the mini bus to Sape (about 2 hours travel time). Now board the ferry from Sape (Sumbawa Island) to Labuan Bajo (West Flores). This part of the journey takes about 8 hours.
Enjoy dinner and get a good night’s sleep.

Prepare for a day in the nature, burning some calories. It’s best to arrange with a local guide, preferably recommended by the hotel staff or a travel agency. Before leaving, don’t forget to pack some food for the day.

Kayak to the Kanawa Island (about 2 hours) and then walk up the hill for some lovely views of the area. It is also possible to snorkel here.

Fly from Labuan Bajo to Jakarta. The flight time is 1h 35 min on Merpati. Please note that it’s not possible to book the flights on the very well known booking sites. You’ll have to do a bit of searching.

Now that you’ve arrived in the Big Durian, check in the hotel and start to explore this large city. There are plenty of museums to visit , including the National Museum which houses large collections of prehistoric, ethnographic and archaeological artifacts. Don’t miss “Monas”, Jakarta’s best known landmark.
You can also visit the Istiqlal Mosque, which is the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia.

>>read more about Cheap Flights to Jakarta

In the morning, explore the Pasar Baru, a market dating back to the Dutch colonial era. There are quite a lot of stores to check out and, with a bit of luck, you can find interesting and cheap things here. Then, for a unique shopping experience, stroll the Jalan Surabaya, which houses the open-air antique market.

Spend the rest of the day playing bowling and enjoying karaoke, which is one of the favorite ways to spend the time with friends. Or you can check out one of the many shopping malls.

Before heading to the airport for your flight back home, make sure to sample some of the street food.

Photo credits: Ulun Danu Temple in Bali , Kuta Beach , Kanawa Island , Jakarta antique