Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bali Gets Facelift as Cosmetic Surgery Offered to Tourists

The hotel lobby-like entrance to the BIMC Hospital in Nusa Dua.

Article Revised

DENPASAR

A 50-bed tourism hospital has been unveiled on a one-hectare site in Bali’s swish Nusa Dua area, making it the first tourism hospital in Indonesia.

The BIMC Hospital is being run in conjunction with the Marriot hotel group “to provide the country’s first-ever medical tourism packages and services to inbound travellers visiting Bali,” Deddy Suhartawan of BIMC told The Bali Times.

The Bali International Medical Centre (BIMC) has an established clinic in Kuta.

The new facility features a hotel-like lobby and also provides dialysis and dental treatments.

A room at the new hospital.

It is equipped with three operating theatres that are being managed by medical teams from Australia, Indonesia, the United States, Britain, Germany, Sweden and New Zealand.

As well as medical treatment, the hospital also provides cosmetic procedures and surgery.

“Our CosMedic Centre offers a full range of aesthetic treatments, including skin rejuvenation, injectables, fillers and more complex plastic surgery with treatment performed in a discreet, spa-like atmosphere,” said Suhartawan.

Filed under: Headlines, Health

Suharto-Era Billionaire Tycoon Salim Dies Aged 97

Liem Sioe Liong.

JAKARTA

Liem Sioe Liong, who used his ties to former dictator Suharto to build a small peanut oil business into leading Indonesian conglomerate Salim Group, has died aged 97.

The Chinese-born tycoon, whose Indonesian name was Soedono Salim and whose group is now one of Asia’s biggest businesses, passed away in Singapore on Sunday, a statement from Indofood, one of his companies, said on Tuesday.

“The Soedono Salim that we know personally is a visionary, simple, humble, tenacious, hardworking, disciplined and loyal,” said the statement.

Salim Group businesses range from Indofood, the world’s largest maker of noodles, to telecoms, property and palm oil plantations.

The group includes Hong Kong-based First Pacific which operates businesses in telecommunications and food, and is present in more than 40 countries.

His son Anthoni Salim, who now heads the business empire, was listed in Forbes in 2010 as Indonesia’s fifth-richest man, worth US$3 billion.

Tourism Minister Mari Elka Pangestu paid tribute to Liem: “Indonesia has lost a pioneer in the field of entrepreneurship that has contributed to the country’s development.”

Liem arrived in Indonesia from Fujian province in southeast China in 1936 to join his brother and brother-in-law in Medan, North Sumatra.

He began selling medical supplies and other items during the Indonesian war of independence against the Dutch.

It was during this period he got to know Suharto, then an army officer, and the pair formed a lifelong friendship.

Over the next 50 years, Liem built one of the most successful business groups in the country.

Following anti-government riots in 1998, which led to Suharto’s overthrow following some three decades in power, Liem fled to Singapore after his house was raided and ransacked by mobs, leaving the day-to-day running of the business to Anthoni Salim.

Pangestu said that his businesses had “contributed to development at every stage. In the early period of development, when we needed cement, he started a cement business and then foods.”

“When we entered a period of industrialisation, we needed cars and his business expanded into the automotive field, and then banking and finance,” she added.

Liem is survived by his wife Lie Las Nio, and four children — Albert Halim, Andree Halim, Anthoni Salim and Mira Salim.

Filed under: Headlines

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Watchdog to Seek Elusive Seal to Access Iran’s Nuclear Sites

VIENNA

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog will push Iran in fresh talks Friday to strike a deal on access to sites where Tehran is suspected of working on an atomic bomb, particularly the Parchin military base.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s representatives will be going into the meeting looking for progress, after its director general Yukiya Amano signalled on Monday that differences between the two parties had “narrowed.”

However, the United States’ envoy to the IAEA, Robert Woods, dampened expectations that a deal can be struck at Friday’s discussions in Vienna, saying that he is “not optimistic.”

“I certainly hope an agreement will be reached,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors. But he added: “I’m not certain Iran is ready.”

Western powers and Israel suspect Iran is trying to develop a bomb behind the veil of its civilian nuclear programme, a charge Tehran denies.

The IAEA is particularly interested in the Parchin military base near Tehran, where it believes suspicious explosives testing has been carried out. Its repeated requests to visit Parchin in months have been rebuffed by Tehran.

IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts and deputy director general Rafael Grossi will meet Iran's ambassador to the agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, in Friday's meeting.

Soltanieh has so far kept an upbeat tone.

"We'll try to continue to work on the text of a structural approach. Hopefully we will be able to conclude it," he said.

"I'm always optimistic," he added. "I hope that both sides will be able to find a common denominator."

Amano made a whirlwind trip to Iran last month after a promising round of talks in Vienna, and said after his return that the two sides were close to a deal.

But Western diplomats have since said Iran seems to be dragging its feet.

On Wednesday, the European Union called on Iran to "conclude the agreement without further delay."

Israel has repeatedly threatened military action to stop Iran from developing a nuclear warhead.

The so-called P5+1 - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - revived talks with Iran in Istanbul in April and met again in May in Baghdad, though little was achieved.

Iran and the six world powers are due to meet again in Moscow on June 18 and 19. Barring progress, an EU oil embargo against Iran will come into force on July 1.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday that Israel and the US are also discussing new sanctions against Iran if the Moscow talks fail.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for his part said Wednesday that more sanctions against Iran would be "counterproductive."

In November, the IAEA said in a report that it had "credible" intelligence suggesting Iran had worked toward building nuclear warheads.

The watchdog is seeking a deal that would enable it to answer lingering questions raised in the report - which drew on its own information, foreign intelligence and limited input from Iran itself - by giving its inspectors access to all sites, documents and people involved in the nuclear programme.

Parchin base is of particular interest. The IAEA has said new satellite imagery indicates "extensive activities" at the base, which experts see as signs of a clean-up.

Filed under: Our World

100 Killed in New Syria ‘Massacre’

DAMASCUS

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “massacred” about 100 people, including women and children, the opposition said, as the US demanded a full transfer of power in the country.

The call by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set the stage for a renewed diplomatic stand-off over Syria, after Russia and China said they were strongly against intervention and regime change.

If reports of the killings in the central province of Hama prove accurate they will rank among the worst atrocities in Syria’s 15-month uprising against Assad’s embattled regime.

“We have 100 deaths in the village of Al-Kubeir, among them 20 women and 20 children,” Mohammed Sermini, spokesman for the exiled opposition Syrian National Council, said.

He accused the regime of being behind the “massacre.”

Other sources also reported a mass killing had taken place in the same area, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tentatively put the number of dead at 87.

On Thursday, the Syrian government denied responsibility, saying in a televised statement: “What a few media have reported on what happened in Al-Kubeir, in the Hama region, is completely false.”

“A terrorist group committed a heinous crime in the Hama region which claimed nine victims. The reports by the media are contributing to spilling the blood of Syrians,” the statement said.

But the Britain-based Observatory said in a statement that pro-regime shabiha militia armed with guns and knives carried out the “new massacre” at a farm after shelling by regular troops.

"What is certain is that dozens of people died, including women and children," the watchdog's Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Both Sermini and the Observatory urged UN observers to immediately head to the region to investigate.

The reports come after at least 108 people were killed in a two-day massacre that began on May 25 near the central town of Houla, most of them women and children who were summarily executed, according to the United Nations.

News of the new incident came after Russia and China said they were "decisively against" intervention or regime change in Syria, as Arab and Western calls mounted for strong international action in the conflict.

The United States endorsed an Arab proposal to invoke the UN Charter's tough Chapter VII, while refraining from supporting its powers to initiate military intervention.

Meanwhile Clinton, who has voiced mounting frustration with the Chinese and Russian positions, sought to mobilise support in Turkey, calling on the international community to "close off the regime's economic life lines."

"We can't break faith with the Syrian people who want real change," said a State Department official who briefed reporters on Clinton's meeting in Istanbul with officials from 16 regional and European powers.

Clinton set forth "essential elements and principles that we believe should guide that post Assad transition strategy, including Assad's full transfer of power," the official said.

Other elements include "the establishment of a fully representative and inclusive interim government which leads to free and fair elections, a ceasefire to be observed by all and equality for all Syrians under the law," the official said.

But Clinton's Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov warned regime change in Syria would lead the Middle East to "catastrophe."

Beijing and Moscow said after two days of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders that they strongly opposed intervention and regime change.

"Russia and China are decisively against attempts to regulate the Syrian crisis with outside military intervention, as well as imposing... a policy of regime change," a joint statement said.

Speaking in the Chinese capital, Lavrov urged the international community to resist calls from the exiled opposition to help oust Assad's regime.

Opposition groups "outside Syria appeal to the world community more and more to bomb the Assad regime, to change this regime. This is very risky. I would even say it is a way that will bring the region to catastrophe," he said.

Lavrov hit out at the rebel Free Syrian Army's announcement it was no longer bound by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, and proposed a high-level conference with the participation of Iran among other powers.

His proposal was given a cool reception by Clinton, as well as by the French and British foreign ministers.

Russia and China have vetoed two Security Council resolutions against Assad's regime, but backed Annan's blueprint to end the conflict in which more than 13,500 people have died since March 2011, according to the Observatory.

The Annan plan was supposed to begin with a ceasefire from April 12 but doubts have emerged about its effectiveness as violence has raged on despite the deployment of nearly 300 UN observers.

In other violence, rebels went on the offensive in and around Damascus and 46 people were killed across the country, the Observatory said.

Rebels clashed with troops in Harasta and near Douma, Irbin amd Zamalka, all in the Damascus region, among other parts of the capital, according to the watchdog which says at least 168 soldiers have been killed in the past week.

Assad appointed loyalist Riad Hijab as prime minister in a move France dismissed as a "masquerade."

Analysts said Syria risks descending into a long and bloody civil war with the Annan plan at a stalemate, the opposition badly fragmented and fierce resistance to any real changes by the Assad regime.

Filed under: Our World

Minister to Explain Energy Policy

JIMBARAN

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik has said he will explain the energy resilience policy at the 18th Asia Coaltrans Conference in Nusa Dua this week.

“We are going to explain the energy resilience policy, especially regarding coal, because many countries need coal energy,” Wacik remarked.

The minister noted that Indonesia has vast coal resources, which should be used optimally for the interests of the local people.

“We know that all countries need coal energy, which is available in Indonesia. Therefore, it must be used optimally to meet the domestic need,” he stressed.

He added that apart from domestic use, coal was also exported to boost the state’s foreign exchange reserves.

“We export 30 million tons of coal per year, earning a foreign exchange of US$20 billion,” the minister said.

Around 2,200 people are expected to participate in the Asia Coaltrans Conference.

Filed under: Headlines

Forecasts for week beginning June 9, 2012.

By Jonathan Cainer

Hot on the heels of last week’s Venus transit, we now see Jupiter arriving in Gemini for the first time since 2001. It stays in this sign for just over a year, heralding a brighter, more optimistic outlook on life for many people, no matter when they were born. Mercury, meanwhile, has moved into Cancer. While this development lasts only 18 days or so, it also has an influence that spreads far and wide. And later this month, the ongoing ‘dance of tension’ between Uranus and Pluto will culminate, giving many people at least a brief break from recent worries.

ARIES (March 21 – April 20)
Every day, we have to eat. Every night, we have to sleep. Our physical lives are full of processes that we must repeat and experiences that we must keep on having. In our emotional lives too, we require repetition and renewal. We can’t live on the memory of a feeling, no matter how profound. So, here you are, back in a situation that you have been in before. Are you just doing something you have already done? Not quite. What’s happening this week is similar but different. If you want something to change a little, it can.

TAURUS (April 21 – May 21)
The recent transit of Venus, has helped the ship of your life to set sail in a new direction. You are starting to envisage a different destination You know you want to get there, you can feel, in your bones, that this is the right thing to be doing. Yet how can it happen? Major changes must surely occur if success is ever to be possible. Here, this week, comes yet another important astrological development. Jupiter leaves your sign and enters your second solar house. That will soon help you to feel much more secure.

GEMINI (May 22 – June 22)
Jupiter hasn’t been in Gemini since 2001. This week, it returns to your sign and will remain a powerful, positive influence until mid-2013. It is as if the recent transit of Venus picked you up and took you to the top of a high hill from which you could look down on your problems and see them in perspective and identify hidden opportunities. Have you had to come back down to earth since then? Perhaps. But now the universe is giving you a vehicle of your own in which you can gradually reach that height once more.

CANCER (June 23 - July 23)
Mercury has just moved into your sign. That's really good news. It suggests that you will soon be in an excellent position to negotiate a deal or strike a bargain. Even if you have no commercial interests to protect or trading activities to increase, you will find you can use this astrological advantage in your personal and emotional life. Old arrangements can be adjusted. Misunderstandings can be cleared up. Wherever the balance of power has come to rest within an unsatisfactory place, you can now put this right.

LEO (July 24 - August 23)
The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. The higher the hope, the deeper the fear. The stronger the enthusiasm, the greater the risk of disappointment. Your life is now full of profound contrasts. All is fine as long as you are looking in the right direction. But when you turn around, you begin to wonder if you have been looking in the right direction after all. Perhaps all those negative factors deserve more attention than you are giving them. Actually, they don't and it is very important that this week, you focus on the positive.

VIRGO (August 24 - September 23)
Mercury, your ruler, now moves into the sector of the sky that traditionally governs your alliances and allegiances. Where you already have good strong bonds and social connections, you can deepen these and make them more rewarding. You can help others; they can help you. And where life might be so much sweeter, if only you knew the right people to talk to or to turn to? Well, soon you will meet them and they will prove surprisingly eager to assist. You no longer need to face a problem on your own. Now you have a team.

LIBRA (September 24 - October 23)
'When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you.' So goes the old song. But what about when you are grouching? Or grumbling? Or finding fault with others? Well, as you may have noticed, the world is equally happy to join in with these activities. In theory, the solution to this problem is simple; just keep smiling! And in practice? Well, you are not entirely convinced that you have that much to smile about right now. But events this week should prove very reassuring and once you feel better, everyone else will too.

SCORPIO (October 24 - November 22)
All you want this week is a simple answer to a simple question. Why then, is it proving so hard to get? Is someone being deliberately deceptive? Are they obfuscating a point to suit their own purposes? Just before you explore that possibility, check whether your query is as straightforward as it seems. Perhaps your question is too simple. Or perhaps it does not properly allow for a rather complicated set of secret circumstances. You will yet get to the bottom of a baffling mystery if you patiently persevere.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 - December 21)
Well, here we are at last. The moment you have been waiting for. The week you have been anticipating for months, even years. Perhaps you didn't know that you were biding time and holding out till Jupiter arrived in your opposite sign. Maybe you just had a vague sense of the possibility of imminent improvement. But once things begin to change for the better, as they will start to do this very week, you will see that you have at last reached a turning point in your fortunes. It may also bring a pleasing change in your love life!

CAPRICORN (December 22 - January 20)
Do you have something to apologise for? Are you secretly guilty of some heinous crime? Of course not! I'm not saying you are perfect (well, I'm not saying you are not perfect, either, but you know what I mean). I'm just keen to tell you that this week, you have every reason to hold your head high and to act with confidence. If something isn't working out, this is not your fault. Trust that. Hold steady and you will yet turn your fortunes around. And if someone else thinks you are wrong? The likelihood is, they are wrong!

AQUARIUS (January 21 - February 19)
Really, this week, you ought to have your own bugle player and drummer. If the physical world understood its obligation to the cosmic climate, it would also supply you with a team of carpet-fitters who would walk in front of you wherever you go, laying out a continuous red rug. Flag waving fans would cheer upon your approach. Your every move and decision would be reported on the nightly news. Are you really that important? Do you deserve this much respect and attention? In a strange way, yes! It is time to be bold.

PISCES (February 20 - March 20)
As Jupiter arrives in a new sector of the sky this week, your domestic life begins to feel a whole lot less claustrophobic. Somewhere on the home and family front, things have been difficult for a while. You have had to make a lot of compromises. Your own choices and preferences have had to give way under pressure from others. Not everything is now about to go your way, but at least one source of stress is no longer so strong. Prepare to feel more loved, more secure and more comfortable about your future.

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

Building a Better Home with Energy Fields and Good Flooring

By S.BS. Surendran

The ancient Indian art of vaastu and the oriental art of feng shui are effective tools to reflect the love and affection between the occupants of a building and their abode.

There are many types of imbalances in a place of dwelling as we are subjected to many kinds of energy fields, such as solar-energy fields, geo-magnetic fields and thermal imbalances.

Research has shown that most often one side of a house is subjected to intense solar radiation while the other side remains in a shadow region. This gives rise to the formation of what is known as “thermocouple” in the space around the house and leads to an energy imbalance in the premises.

The higher the imbalance, the more severe its effect on the occupants. This kind of imbalance gives rise to the formation of “nodes” and these are nothing but distorted energy fields. They trap the subatomic particles travelling along these fields and start resonating to give rise to micro-level hazardous radiation which affects the existence of life forms – in other words, the occupants of the home.

When left unchecked, these thermal imbalances impede the smooth flow of energy in and around the place of dwelling. The art of restoring the imbalance or equalising the thermal difference and providing a harmonious place of dwelling is the key to good design. Some of the general guidelines to counter thermal imbalance in a place of dwelling are:

• More open spaces in the north and east.
• Thicker walls and no openings on the southern side.
• Planting more greenery or trees in the south to have a humid environment.
• Most importantly: choosing good flooring.

Flooring in a building not only breathes life in terms of décor and aesthetics but also defines how the energy (known as chi in feng shui) flows there. Careful selection of materials means you can fine-tune the atmosphere of your house or apartment. Big surface areas such as flooring will have the greatest influence, and it is worth taking great care over the materials you use.

Flooring plays a significant role in beautifying the look of a house. Flooring can be natural wood, stone, carpet or earth. Among the natural-segment flooring we have marble, granite and slate. Marble has never been out of fashion and is available in a variety of colours. Bricks are available in different shades of red and orange and can also be used as ethnic flooring. In some parts of the world, bamboo flooring is used and it gives a feel of being connected to nature.

Natural materials tend to carry chi energy more easily than synthetic materials - an example of this is wood, where the chi continues to flow along the grain.

Some synthetic materials impede the passage of chi and create stagnating energy fields within your home and build up static electricity (if the material is nylon); this interferes with the feng shui and your personal energy field or your aura. However, if it is rough, textured surfaces (such as a carpet), it slows down the chi, making it more yin; and hard or shiny surfaces (such as ceramic tiles) speed up the flow of chi, creating a more yang atmosphere. One can comprehend from this that the type and colour of flooring contributes towards better energy flow and in turn good vaastu or feng shui.

Each type of material encourages a certain flow of chi. Hence, applying the transparency of the eight directions, you can establish which materials naturally suit each part of your home. Using the specific materials will lead to a more harmonious exchange of chi and will develop distinct atmospheres in each part of your home. For example you could think of:

• White marble, which enhances positive energy and reflects and polarises sunlight, in the northeast.
• Shades of yellow towards the southwest are good.
• Shades of blue, or tint of blue on a white base or marble, at northwest is preferred.
• Red stone or shades of pink are considered appropriate for the south and southeast.

By knowing the compass directions, you can adapt a blend of design and aesthetics by choosing appropriate flooring. And you can introduce the colours required for the different areas in the form of floor décor in case you prefer to have a uniform floor colour throughout the house.

By doing so, your home will not only be vibrant with good energy and prosperity but the occupants will be motivated to think better and live better.

S.BS. Surendran is an accredited master feng shui consultant, traditional vaastu practitioner and bio-energetician based in Bangalore, India. He can be contacted via fengshui@fengshuiserver.com

Filed under: Harmony

Govt Seeks Out Older Tourists

DENPASAR

The Bali government has announced a plan to establish a special body to develop tourism for older visitors, citing a rising trend among elderly travellers across the globe.

The head of the Bali’s tourism agency, Ida Bagus Kade Subikshu, said organisations should make every effort to tap into the potentially growing segment of the tourism industry resulting from an aging global demographic.

“The prospect for elderly tourism is huge. We’ve been discussing the plan to establish the body with relevant organisations,” Kade said in Denpasar on Thursday.

Among the organisations, he said, were the Bali administration’s legal bureau, tourism companies and associations and the immigration office.

Kade said that Bali had so far failed to effectively cater to an older tourist segment.

“Bali has 16 tourist areas. We may develop some of them to accommodate older tourists,” he added.

Bali is Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination. It drew 2.7 million foreign visitors in 2011, which represents over one-third of the total visitors to Indonesia.

Kade said older visitors, or those over 55 years of age, made up a large percentage of tourists coming from the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Filed under: Headlines

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mr Bean Fans Warned over Indonesian Film

A poster for the film Mr. Bean Possessed by D.P.

Mr Bean fans in Indonesia have been warned to beware of a locally made spoof horror film called Mr. Bean Possessed by D.P. that stars an unknown actor that bears a resemblance to the popular character.

The official Facebook page for Mr Bean, a comedy about a socially awkward man played by the British comedian Rowan Atkinson, said: “We have just heard that there is a new film out in Indonesia with ‘Mr Bean’ in the title.

“Please be aware that it has nothing to do with with your beloved Mr Bean or Mr Rowan Atkinson, so please avoid being disappointed.”

The producers of Mr. Bean Possessed by D.P., starring the well-known actress Dewi Perssik, denied they were attempting to pass the film off as an original Mr Bean movie.

“We never mentioned Rowan Atkinson’s name. We only said the film would star Mr Bean,” producer K.K. Dheeraj, from K2K Productions, said.

“There are so many things called bean — coffee, fruit. We can use the name too, if we want.

“For example, in Malaysia there are Mr Bean snacks, but that doesn’t mean they’re Rowan Atkinson’s products.”

In the movie released last week, Mr Bean, played by an unknown British actor, is a mummy-like ghost shrouded in white who becomes entranced by the buxom Perssik, who is commonly known by her initials D.P.

Local media reported last month that Perssik said Atkinson would star opposite her in the film, but the popular actress maintained on Monday that she only ever said “a Mr Bean” would play the role.

“It’s a business trick,” she said on Twitter.

Dheeraj declined to name the male star of the film, saying only that he is British, while Perssik tweeted: “I don’t know his name. I only know him as Mr Bean.”

The original Mr Bean, a television and film series that brought Atkinson international fame, is popular in Indonesia, where the character is found on mobile phone covers and pencil cases.

Filed under: Headlines

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Forecasts for week beginning June 2, 2012.

By Jonathan Cainer

This is the month we have been waiting for. June brings a glorious lunar eclipse plus a rare transit of Venus. It also brings yet another sharp encounter between Uranus and Pluto. These two planets have been squaring up to each other for a couple of years, like boxers trading insults before a fight. Every so often, they get into the ring, creating dramas in the world of global finance and politics. Yet the overall message from the sky is one of ‘softening and sweetening’. The main thing we’ll notice is how much more inspired and hopeful we feel.

ARIES (March 21 – April 20)
Sometimes, we all push our luck a little. Life without adventure of some kind is really no life at all. What you are doing now may not be wise, but, at least, it is fun! Or, at least, it has the potential to bring you great enjoyment, as long as you don’t push yourself too far, too fast. June brings a glorious lunar eclipse and a rare, wonderful transit of Venus. These two events promise a month of discovery and delight. Prepare to learn more about yourself, your potential to be successful and your ability to deepen an essential relationship.

TAURUS (April 21 – May 21)
There is nothing ordinary about a transit of Venus. You can’t expect your life to proceed as ‘normal’ under such an influence. It doesn’t necessarily follow, though, that some enormous drama is about to be enacted. A coming development is about to make a very big difference. But the development itself may prove surprisingly small. An exchange of information. The dawn of a new idea. A subtle but powerful realisation. Be open to the idea that a seed planted in your heart, could grow in time into a whole forest.

GEMINI (May 22 – June 22)
This month’s rare transit of Venus takes place while the Sun is in your sign. Venus, obviously, is in your sign too! As if that weren’t portentous enough, we get a lunar eclipse in your opposite sign as well. This is deeply auspicious. It might be best interpreted as the sky pointing a giant finger straight at you, singling you out for special attention. Whatever the cosmos can do to help better your lot, deepen your understanding and improve your ability to enjoy life in June, it will do. All you have to do, is accept that help.

CANCER (June 23 – July 23)
Can’t you go a little faster? Can’t you try harder? Isn’t there more you can do? Have you no other tricks up your sleeve? I don’t mean to add to the pressure that you are already starting to experience, but I do need to highlight the way in which you are continually being made to feel as if nothing is good enough. It seems as though you are being weighed and found wanting, yet you have nothing to apologise for. You deserve appreciation not castigation. June’s rare transit of Venus will address that imbalance.

LEO (July 24 – August 23)
Think of some of the tastes and flavours that you have gradually learned to like. At some point in your life, you stopped screwing up your nose in disgust, gave a dish a cautious nibble and said, ‘Actually, I like it.’ Then it earned a real place in your heart. Acquired tastes are always more rewarding, once we have acquired them. June is an historic and exciting month. It brings a rare transit of Venus and suggests you are about to develop an appreciation for a new experience that could change more than you think.

VIRGO (August 24 - September 23)
While Mars has been in your sign, you have been travelling at such a speed as to cause all passing scenery to become a blur. Finally, you are slowing down. You can see clearly. You have not reached your destination but you have reached a place to pause for reflection. This month's historic transit of Venus implies a sense of elevation and illumination. You are rising higher than you have been for some while. Others (rightly) are starting to look up to you and you will see many reasons to feel proud of yourself in June.

LIBRA (September 24 - October 23)
A thought-provoking conversation will soon cause you to think rather differently about an important matter. Venus traditionally rules your sign - and this month's rare transit of Venus, suggests a host of exciting opportunities in store for you. They have not just suddenly arrived, they have been there for some while waiting for you to recognise them. As you now begin to understand what could be possible, your heart should grow full of enthusiasm. Allow yourself to become motivated. You can set out on a journey to a whole new life in June.

SCORPIO (October 24 - November 22)
Little escapes your eagle eye. Somehow, you can instinctively see where the needle is hiding in the haystack. Every so often, though, you become like a deity who has descended to the mortal realm and is now choosing to function without the use of their godlike powers. Right now, you face a situation that sorely requires analysis and understanding. The transit of Venus invites you to draw on your hidden, higher self. You will soon see a way to clear up a mystery that seems to be baffling many people. Trust what inspires you.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 - December 21)
It is easy to forget how insecure most people are. Not only do we do things that others find hard to accept, we refuse to understand why anyone should object. Yet, when we are unreasonable, it is because deep down, we are afraid. June's lunar eclipse helps you understand something useful about your own deepest fears. And a rare transit of Venus speaks of your chance to understand a loved one's behaviour or the reason why someone is often difficult to deal with. Thus it brings hope and harmony.

CAPRICORN (December 22 - January 20)
This month's rare transit of Venus, creates a climate in which candid exchanges can be safely conducted. But it is always very difficult to tell someone the truth if you feel that they are not going to enjoy hearing it, or if you suspect that your honesty could result in a punishment. To take advantage of this celestial opportunity, you must overcome your own sense of insecurity. You don't have to tell everyone everything but someone needs to know something! Someone needs to tell you something too. You will benefit from all of this.

AQUARIUS (January 21 - February 19)
We all know that people have selective memories. Often too, they have selective perceptions of the present. They see what they want to see. If they find themselves seeing something that they do not want to see, they soon find a way to see it the way they want to see it! June is due to be an exceptional month. A transit of Venus will soon occur, opening your eyes to truths that you have been reluctant to acknowledge, whilst opening your heart to a hope that, up until now, you have felt afraid to embrace. Trust this.

PISCES (February 20 - March 20)
It is always easier to love someone from afar than to appreciate a companion. We can dream about those remote figures and imagine that they will be wonderful in every way, should we ever be lucky enough to spend time with them. When we project the same hopes and wishes on to those who are a little nearer to us, we keep encountering their faults and foibles. Yet June's rare transit of Venus enables you to see just how wonderful someone really is. Someone you are close to. This discovery may yet lead to a marvellous month.

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

Emergency Plan Launched for Endgame of Polio Eradication

An international group tasked with ridding the world of polio has said it is shifting to “emergency mode” as the fight enters its final stretch.

Polio remains endemic in just three countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan – after India was taken off the list in February.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) says accelerating efforts now could wipe out polio for good: if not, its spread to other countries remains a constant risk.

If stamped out, polio would be the second infectious disease affecting humans after smallpox to be completely eradicated.

The GPEI, spearheaded by the World Health Organization and UNICEF among others, says failure could lead within a decade to 200,000 children being paralysed each year.

Aside from the health benefits, it also estimated savings of $40-50 billion by 2035 by taking into account cash spent on campaigns and treatments and gains in productivity.

"Polio eradication is at a tipping point between success and failure," WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.

Polio is a highly infectious disease which affects mainly the under-fives and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. Some cases can be fatal.

The GPEI's Emergency Action Plan aims to boost vaccination coverage in the three remaining endemic countries, but says it has a 50 percent funding gap of US$945 million until the end of 2013.

The group hopes a resolution being considered by health ministers this week in Geneva declaring polio eradication "a programmatic emergency for global public health" will mobilise the political commitment and resources needed to make up the shortfall.

Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan saw an unexpected rise in cases in 2011, according to experts, who said conflict, political change and poor infrastructure all make vaccination programmes difficult.

Outbreaks in recent years in China, spread from Pakistan, and in West Africa, transmitted from Nigeria, highlight the continued threat of resurgence.

"The polio map looks better than it ever has before, (but) at the same time the programme is a little bit on the edge because the funding support needed to get that final mile isn't really there," said Jay Wenger of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports the GPEI.

India was taken off a list of polio endemic countries by the WHO on February 25 after more than a year passed with no new cases.

Worldwide, polio cases have dropped by over 99 percent since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 infections to 1,352 reported in 2010.

"We know polio can be eradicated, and our success in India proves it," said Kalyan Banerjee, president of GPEI partner Rotary International.

UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said the group's efforts were at risk until every child was fully immunised against polio.

"We have come so far in the battle against this crippling disease. We can now make history - or later be condemned by history for failing," said Lake.

Filed under: Health

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

C151 Wins Luxury Villa of the Year

SEMINYAK

The C151 villa resort in Seminyak has won Bali’s prestigious Luxury Villa of the Year award, the fourth time it has achieved such an accolade from the government.

C151 general manager I Gede Suarsa received the award from I Gusti Ayu Ambari, the tourism secretary at the Office of the Governor of Bali, at an industry event at The Patra Bali Resort and Villas in Kuta last Friday.

The event, organised by the Entrepreneur Achievement International Association, recognises the achievements of companies in the sectors of spas, banks, educational institutions and villas and hotels.

The award places an emphasis on those that make outstanding economic achievements under Indonesian and international standards.

C151 is the luxury accommodation brand of developer the Hanno Group, a leading investor in Bali, with developments elsewhere in Indonesia and including a new cliff-top resort on the Bukit in Bali.

Previously, C151 has received government-backed awards in design innovation and excellence; hotel and service excellence; best service excellence; and best luxury villa.

Filed under: Headlines

Why You Should Add Bali to Your Round the World Trip

by aseper | December 21st, 2011  

The entire region of Southeast Asia is a hotbed for backpackers and those on long-term trips, and Bali is at or near the top of the list. And why wouldn’t it be? The beaches, the rice terraces, the temples, the food, the drinks, and the super cheap prices have travelers coming back for more. No matter what type of trip you’re on, adding an island paradise is always a good idea. If you are planning a RTW trip, then it makes perfect sense to add Bali to your itinerary.

While Bali is definitely the most touristy part of Indonesia, there’s a reason for that. Unfortunately because of the popularity, there are those travelers who leave Bali off their list. Long-term, RTW travelers love to find new and off-the-beaten-path locations, and even if you are not the type who likes super touristy destinations, there are plenty of ways to experience the Indonesian culture in a place like Bali.

Our sister site over on BootsnAll has been putting together city guides that focus on long-term, RTW travel. They have been updating, revamping, and adding tips and advice for getting the most indie experience out of a trip to any city. If you are thinking about adding Bali to a RTW trip, then it’s a good idea to head on over to Boots and see what they have to say.

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Denpasar Reports 2,408 HIV/AIDS Cases

DENPASAR

The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Denpasar reached 2,408 as of March 2012, an official said.

“The Denpasar community are heterogeneous and have high mobility, so we do not rule out the possibility that the number of HIV/AIDS cases will increase. These HIV/AIDS cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” head of the Denpasar City AIDS Prevention Commission I Gusti Ngurah Jaya Negara said.

The number of HIV/AIDS cases included 1,218 HIV carriers consisting of 457 women and 761 men, said Negara, who is also Denpasar’s deputy mayor.

He said the number of AIDS cases alone reached 1,190 consisting of 376 women and 814 men.

“We have tried to handle the cases by making all elements of the community, including students, cafe workers, massage-parlour workers and commercial sex workers aware of the danger of HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ketut Sukanata, a member of the Bali Provincial AIDS Prevention Commission, said the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Bali was rising significantly every year.

“In 2010, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS reached 4,210. The figure rose to 5,222 at the end of 2011,” he said.

Of the total, 1,197 were 20-29 years old, 969 were 30-39 years old, 333 were 40-59 years old and 19 were less than one year old, he said.

Filed under: Headlines

New Therapy Helps Tinnitus Sufferers

Tinnitus, an incurable ringing in the ears that can wreck the lives of those that suffer from it, can be significantly eased by a new combination of therapies, The Lancet medical journal reported.

The approach uses psychological training and audio therapy in small groups to reduce distress and refocus the mind so that it does not dwell on the sound.

Dutch researchers tested it on 245 adults with tinnitus while 247 others were given “usual care,” meaning they were referred for standard counselling at a hearing clinic.

After 12 months, patients in the specialised care group had an average improvement of 33 percent in problems caused by severe tinnitus, compared to a gain of 13 percent in the “usual care” group.

The specialised care group also saw significant improvements in quality of life and distress, as measured by scientifically validated questionnaires.

The research was led by Rilana Cima and Johan Vlaeyen at Maastricht University.

"We do nothing about the sound per se," Cima told AFP.

"Even though people still hear the sound after the intervention, they say they feel cured. I say to my patients, 'tinnitus has to be like the shoe on your foot - it has to be something that you can continuously feel if you want to, but you don't (feel it) if you make it neutral."

Up to a fifth of adults are affected by tinnitus at some point in their life, but treatments are costly and there is no benchmark of proof to show whether they are effective or not.

Cima acknowledged that the therapy seemed expensive, given that it required the help of several specialists working in small groups over a long time.

"It is costly, but we have done an extensive economic analysis and from a societal perspective, it is only slightly more costly than usual care," she said.

In a commentary, German tinnitus specialist Berthold Langguth of the University of Regensburg, said the individual techniques used in the Dutch research were not new in themselves.

What was novel, he said, was the way treatments were put together in a multidisciplinary team whose results were then scrutinised with rigour.

While not a cure, the experiment was greatly beneficial, marking "the end of therapeutic nihilism" towards tinnitus, he said.

Filed under: Health

Strong Earthquake Strikes Java

JAKARTA

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Bali’s western neighbour Java on Monday, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake struck 121 kilometres southwest of Sukabumi in West Java at 6:18pm at a depth of 24 kilometres, the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency said.

The powerful quake was felt in the capital Jakarta, 214 kilometres northeast of the epicentre.

Filed under: Headlines

Palestinian Hunger Strikes Take Non-Violent Struggle to New Level

By Dawoud Abu Lebdeh

When Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan went on a hunger strike last December he started a new chapter in the Palestinian non-violent movement, which ended successfully two weeks ago when Israel agreed to several of the key demands made by Palestinian prisoners. Adnan’s 66-day strike ended in February after Israeli authorities agreed to release him in April. It was followed by hundreds of other prisoners who also went on hunger strikes in multiple Israeli prisons in a step that proved that non-violent actions on a large scale can be more effective than violence.

Hana Shalabi, the second hunger striker, persuaded prison authorities to release and deport her to the Gaza Strip. Then came Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, who went on strike for 76 days, breaking the earlier record of the Irish activist Bobby Sands, who died in a British prison after a hunger strike lasting 66 days.

In April, Diab and Halahleh were joined by some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners across Israel who fasted for 28 days, only ending their strike on 14 May once Israeli authorities made a fair compromise with their key demands, which included limitations on solitary confinement, the ability to study while in prison and visitation rights for prisoners from Gaza, including the right to physical contact with their families.

Open hunger strikes are among the peaceful popular resistance tools political prisoners use to demand the rights accorded to them by international conventions.

Once the strike was rolled out across the prisons it brought the hunger strikers’ cause to the attention of international circles, especially human rights organisations. Sit-ins in support of the striking prisoners were organised across campuses in Europe.

At the local level, including in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and inside Israel, the hunger strike found support from the Palestinian people, who pitched tents in city and village centres, and organised marches in support of the prisoners. Many of these marches headed for Ofer, one of the central prisons in the West Bank, where they were met with crowd dispersal measures like tear gas and rubber bullets, despite the fact that the demonstrators were completely peaceful.

The route of non-violence is an important one for the Palestinian leadership and its cause, building a Palestinian state. In the leadership’s view, the achievements of the Palestinian Authority’s state building project in bolstering the Palestinian economy and laying the infrastructure for the political institutions of a state would be harmed by a return to violence. Moreover, they understand that it would also damage the international public relations efforts that the Palestinians have been making in the past few years.

Other notable non-violent campaigns across the West Bank have also borne results. The village of Budrus, which struggled non-violently for years against plans to build the separation wall on its land, succeeded in influencing the Israeli authorities to change the route of the wall. Similar campaigns are taking place in other villages across the West Bank such as Ni'lin, Bil'in and Nabi Saleh.

The prisoners’ hunger strike, which unified prisoners from different political groups, has shown both the Palestinian people and the international community what can be achieved through a common cause using non-violence. Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from the prisoners’ hunger strike is that a peaceful and non-violent struggle on a mass scale is arguably one of the most effective forms of resistance. It clearly demonstrated the need for an overall collective plan for the Palestinian people that would be acceptable to all parties and the need for the multiple factions within Palestinian society to work together to implement such a plan. It showed that the Palestinian people have to return to the streets and demand their right to a state through a non-violent popular struggle.

Jewish Israelis watching these developments should understand that these developments represent a profound shift within Palestinian society towards non-violence and see it as an opportunity. The non-violent struggle for a state of our own is a crucial step toward a two-state solution that will benefit both peoples.

Dawoud Abu Lebdeh is a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem.

Filed under: Opinion

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ugandan Arrested Over Drugs

DENPASAR

A Ugandan man has been arrested in Bali for allegedly importing drugs.

The man, identified as Bashir Palikoko, 39, was stopped by customs officials after he arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport on Monday.

The man allegedly brought 1 kilogram of cocaine into the country.

He is the latest in a string of recent arrests over drug trafficking in Bali.

Last week, police announced they had arrested four Britons and an Indian national who are suspected of involvement in a drug-trafficking ring on the island.

Filed under: Headlines