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Updated: 1 year 33 weeks ago

Lawmakers oppose Israel's call to have ties with Indonesia

Wed, 2016-03-30 20:29

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu poses for photos with a delegation of senior Indonesian journalists in a meeting in Jerusalem on Monday.(Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairsicial website/Haim Zach )

Following Israel's call for official bilateral relations with Indonesia, this country's lawmakers will keep pushing the government to not establish diplomatic ties with Israel as Indonesia strongly opposes the former's occupation of Palestinian land .

Israel has long wanted to have bilateral relations with Indonesia, Tantowi Yahya, a lawmaker from the House of Representatives commission I that oversees foreign and security affairs said on Wednesday.

Indonesia's stance in support of Palestine was taken in accordance with the Constitution, which asserted that independence was the natural right of every nation. Israel's wish to have formal ties with Indonesia would remain a mere wish as long as the country still occupies Palestinian land, said the Golkar lawmaker.

"We will not forge diplomatic ties with a country that colonizes another country. That is the mandate of our Constitution," Tantowi said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had expressed his hope for Indonesia and Israel to begin official relations to a delegation of senior Indonesian journalists invited to the country on Monday.

Netanyahu said both countries had many opportunities to cooperate, such as in the fields of water and technology. He also said Israel has good relations with several countries in Asia, particularly China, Japan, India and Vietnam.

"The time has come to change our relations; the reasons that prevented this are no longer relevant and I hope that your visit will help with this," he said as quoted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry's website, www.mfa.gov.il, on Monday.

Commission I chairman Mahfudz Siddiq criticized the senior journalists' visit to Israel, saying it clashed with Indonesia's full support of Palestinian independence from occupation by Israel.

He said the journalists' decision to accept Israel's invitation reflected their insensitivity toward Indonesia's policy of support for Palestinian independence.

He also slammed Israel's ambitious move to start diplomatic ties with Indonesia and invited the journalists to help create an alternative public opinion about Israel.

Mahfudz added that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had reaffirmed Indonesia's stance against Israel during the the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit in Jakarta earlier this month, when he called for countries to boycott products made in the occupied territories.

"Not only because Indonesia strongly refuses any form of occupation in the world, but also because Israeli actions against Palestine have been condemned by many countries in the world," said the Prosperous Justice Party lawmaker as quoted by tribunnews.com. (afr/rin)

Categories: Indonesian News

Vietnam jails 3 women for waving flags of former South

Wed, 2016-03-30 20:29

Vietnam's prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (left) and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy stand together during a trial in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 23.(Vietnam News Agency via AP/Bui Doan Tan)

A Vietnamese court has sentenced three women who held up the flags of the defeated US-backed South Vietnam to up to four years in prison on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda, media reported Wednesday.

The women were convicted of holding anti-state banners, the flags and chanting anti-state slogans outside the United State diplomatic mission in Ho Chi Minh City in July 2014, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

Their trial lasted half a day Wednesday. Ngo Thi Minh Uoc, 57, got four years, and Nguyen Thi Tri and Nguyen Thi Be Hai, both 58, were given three years in prison by the People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City.

The newspaper said the three were also given two years of house arrest after serving their sentences.

It quoted the verdict as saying their action was "very serious, infringing on national security, distorting, instigating, causing suspicion and mistrust of the people in the (Communist) Party and state."

Such open defiance of the government involving waving the flags of former South Vietnam in the former capital of Saigon is extremely rare.

The three women previously had been fined for disturbing public order by participating in illegal protests, it said.

The sentences came a week after a court in Hanoi sentenced a prominent blogger to five years in prison for posting anti-state writings.

International human rights groups and the US and other governments often criticize Vietnam for jailing dissidents, but Hanoi maintains that it only punishes only those who break the law. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Kylie Jenner for Puma

Wed, 2016-03-30 20:29

Reality star Kylie Jenner is the latest celebrity to front Puma's new shoe launch.(Puma)

First came Rihanna. Now reality star Kylie Jenner is the latest celebrity to front Puma's new shoe launch. The Puma Fierce fitness footwear range features lightweight and laceless shoes.

They boast features that claim to enhance performance, such as a supportive midsole and a flex grooved outsole that allows for fast and dynamic multi-directional movements.

The shoe, priced at $169, comes in black, white, grey and gold. More colours will be available later this year.

It goes on sale from April 1 at Puma and Limited Edt stores. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Deregulation and better infrastructure will help RI be more competitive: Jokowi

Wed, 2016-03-30 17:58

Vice President Jusuf Kalla speaks to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during a meeting at the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry in Jakarta.(Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

Deregulation and the improvement of infrastructure across the country should be extended to help the country survive amid the tougher global completion, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Speaking at a public discussion held by the Indonesian Economists Association (ISEI), Jokowi said that in the midst of global competition and a rapidly changing world economy, the government needs to be quicker and more flexible in making decisions.

"Our focus ahead is deregulation and infrastructure development. Even though I know industrialization is also important, the development of human resources is very important in order to be prepared, but we will proceed with deregulation and infrastructure first," Jokowi said.

Thus, the 11 economic policy packages that have been released by government since September last year have focused on simplifying and accelerating the process of licensing and fair competition.

"Our orientation should be results-oriented, but speed ​​is also required in competition," he said.

One of the concrete efforts undertaken was to instruct the Home Affairs Minister to remove 3,000 problematic local government regulations. In total there are 42,000 regulations in the country, according to Bappenas data.

"They ensnare and limit our flexibility and speed of action. This is what we want to remove. I ordered the home minister to remove the 3,000 problematic regulations. There is no need for them to be examined again," he said.

ISEI chairman Muliaman Hadad said that what is needed to support competitive economic growth is macroeconomic stability through price stability. "In particular, the price of food and the healthy management of the state budget," he said.

The government needs to introduce special policies to revitalize the manufacturing industry and the acceleration of competitive and export-oriented manufacturing. "Increased productivity is also a key," Muliaman added.

To increase productivity, Muliaman continued, infrastructure needs investments, especially in transportation and logistics, focusing on ports and shipping, railways, roads and internet networks.

"Structural transformation is also needed to sustain growth and the reallocation of labor to added-value and higher productivity sectors," he added. (bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

More political parties slam House's grand library construction plan

Wed, 2016-03-30 17:58

A lawmaker attends a plenary meeting to pass the Disability Law at the House of Representatives complex on March 17.(Antara/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

More political party factions at the House of Representatives are expressing opposition to the House speaker's costly new library construction plan, saying such a project is unnecessary in the country's current economic situation.

The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Golkar Party joined the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), NasDem and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) in rejecting the ambitious plan.
House Speaker Ade Komarudin revealed last week a plan to build Southeast Asia's biggest library using funds from the state budget.
The library plan, which would cost Rp 570 billion (US$42.69 million), could be postponed because of a state deficit of almost Rp 300 trillion, PDI-P faction deputy chairman Hendrawan Supratikno said.

"Both of the government and the House must focus on the spending priorities. The ones that are highly prioritized should come first," he told journalists on on Tuesday.

PAN faction secretary Yandri Susanto suggested that the money for the construction plan could be used instead for public facilities for the betterment of the people.

Speaker Ade pushed for the planning for the library to start the immediately, arguing it would be beneficial to meet the needs of intellectuals.

The design would imitate that of the US Library of Congress and the funds would be taken from this year's budget, Ade said.

He insisted that it is of high importance for the House to build the biggest library in Southeast Asia that would accommodate up to 600,000 books to compete with the Singapore's National Library, which has 500,000 books.

The Gerindra, NasDem and Hanura factions expressed their disagreement with the plan on Monday, when they said they believed the House would be able to work without a new library, especially in the current  unfavorable economic conditions. (rin)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Author writes that rape in her novel came from her life

Wed, 2016-03-30 17:58

Jessica Knoll, writing on a website for young women that's co-managed by Lena Dunham, said that since the book came out last year she has deflected questions about similarities between herself and the protagonist, TifAni.(shutterstock.com)

The author of the best-selling novel "Luckiest Girl Alive" posted an essay online Tuesday saying that the gang rape in high school her character suffered was based on an assault in her own life.

Jessica Knoll, writing on a website for young women that's co-managed by Lena Dunham, said that since the book came out last year she has deflected questions about similarities between herself and the protagonist, TifAni.

"I've been running and I've been ducking and I've been dodging because I'm scared," she wrote on www.lennyletter.com.

"I'm scared people won't call what happened to me rape because for a long time, no one did. But as I gear up for my paperback tour, and as I brace myself for the women who ask me, in nervous, brave tones, what I meant by my dedication, What do I know? I've come to a simple, powerful revelation: everyone is calling it rape now. There's no reason to cover my head. There's no reason I shouldn't say what I know."

Knoll, a former editor at Cosmopolitan, wrote in her essay that readers had been curious about the book's dedication: "To all the TifAni FaNellis of the world, I know."

"It means I know what it's like to not belong, I waffle in response to readers, usually women whose albatrosses I can sense, just as they sense mine," she said. "What I don't add: I know what it's like to shut down and power through, to have no other choice than to pretend to be OK. I am a savant of survivor mode."

Knoll's novel has been optioned for a feature film, with Reese Witherspoon expected to produce. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Govt cuts taxes on real estate investment trusts

Wed, 2016-03-30 17:58

Real estate development company Lippo Group previously announced a plan to shift two of its real estate investment trusts (REITs), together worth Rp 35 trillion (US$2.6 billion), from Singapore to Indonesia.(Courtesy of/lippokarawaci.co.id)

The government is cutting the tax on real estate investment trusts (REITs) to boost local use of the financial mechanism that employs commercial properties like malls, hospitals, warehouses, hotels and office buildings as underlying assets.

Indonesia only had two REITs created in the country in the past nine years, namely Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust (created in November 2007) and DIRE Ciptadana Properti Ritel Indonesia (created in November 2012).

"Some local businessmen have created REITs in neighboring countries, but we saw only one REIT created in Indonesia after 2012. The higher tax compared to in neighboring countries is the main problem," said Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The government, he explained, issued the 2015 Finance Ministry Regulation to remove a double taxation in REITs. However, the tax is still much higher than that in neighboring countries especially amid economic slowdown and the Rupiah weakening.

The government tried to address the issue in its fifth economic stimulus package by cutting a multiple tax previously imposed on REITs and it further cut the tax from 5 percent to only 0.5 percent in its newly released 11th package.

The government also plans to issue a regulation to cut the land and building acquisition taxes (BPHTB) from 5 to 1 percent. "There will be several regulations issued by local governments that aim to utilize REITs in their region," Darmin said. (ags)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Fuel subsidy cut announced today, minister say

Wed, 2016-03-30 16:29

A worker checks the sales records at a fueling station in Jakarta.(tempo.com)

The government will announce a fuel subsidy cut after a limited Cabinet meeting at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, said Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Minister Sudirman.

"The fuel subsidies will be cut. There's no hurdle at all right now. We don't want to make difficulties for the public because fuel prices are highly correlated to the prices of goods," Sudirman told thejakartapost.com on the sidelines of a Centre for Strategic and International Study (CSIS) seminar on Optimizing Indonesia's Energy Resources Using Digital Technology.

He said that the exact size of the cut will be decided at the meeting.  Analysts suggest a cut of Rp 200 to Rp 500 per liter.

Currently in Java, Madura, and Bali, the price of Premium (subsidized gasoline) stands at Rp 7,050 (52 US cents) per liter, while the price outside the area is Rp 6,950. Solar (subsidized diesel) costs Rp 5,669 per liter and kerosene Rp 2,500.

He said the subsidy cut will not affect the prices of the subsidized fuels because government will adjust the cut to the selling price. "Our prediction is that in this year and even until 2017 there will be no significant rise in global oil prices, so we can still manage it," he said.

Sudirman was also speaking about the government’s intention to further cut subsidies on diesel so that the government had much more money to develop infrastructure. Right now the diesel subsidy is Rp 1,000 per liter.

He said that the House of Representatives’ Commission VII overseeing natural resources had agreed with the plan. "We appreciate the Commission VII support to use the money for more productive sectors," He said.

The minister said that the subsidy cut would help biofuel producers because currently the subsidized diesel price is too cheap compared to the vegetable oil. Ideally, diesel needs to be sold at about Rp 5,000 to Rp 6,000 to make biofuel production economical.

The energy subsidy in 2016 costs Rp 85.4 trillion. (bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Yellen stresses that Fed foresees gradual pace of rate hikes

Wed, 2016-03-30 16:29

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen addresses an Economic Club of New York luncheon, on March 29, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the Fed still envisions only a gradual pace of interest rate increases in light of global pressures that could affect the U.S. economy.

Her comments spurred a rally on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing at its highest level this year.

Yellen didn't specify a timetable for further hikes to follow the Fed's rate increase in December from record lows. She said risks to the United States appear limited but cautioned that that assessment is subject to "considerable uncertainty."

Speaking to the Economic Club of New York, Yellen said the central bank is monitoring a global economic slump, sharply lower oil prices and stock market turbulence, which she said have hurt some U.S. consumers and key sectors such as manufacturing.

Singling out China — the world's second-largest economy, after the United States — Yellen noted widespread uncertainty over how well Beijing will manage a delicate slowdown in coming years.

She said that because foreign economic growth seems to have further weakened this year, the Fed will "proceed cautiously" in raising rates.

In light of her comments, most economists expect no hike at the Fed's next policy meeting — April 26-27 — despite remarks last week from other Fed officials that had raised the possibility of a rate increase then.

Investors welcomed Yellen's message that the Fed would move slowly in raising rates. The Dow surged nearly 98 points, or 0.6 percent. And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note sank to 1.80 percent from 1.89 percent.

"Despite a growing chorus of calls from even centrist-leaning officials to resume raising policy rates, Chair Yellen stuck to the dovish script of the March meeting statement," when the Fed expressed concerns about the global economy and kept rates unchanged, said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Yellen noted that the U.S. job market and housing recovery have lifted the economy close to full health despite the risks that remain. She observed that the economy has benefited from low long-term U.S. borrowing rates.

Those rates have been held down by money flowing into U.S. bonds from investors, who have scaled back their expectations for the number of Fed rate hikes this year from four to two at most.

The Fed chair said that while stock prices have rebounded to roughly where they were when 2016 began, "in other respects economic and financial conditions remain less favorable than they did" in December, when the Fed raised its key rate modestly after keeping it near zero since 2008, when the financial crisis erupted.

Subject to revision

Yellen cautioned that the Fed's expectations for rates remain subject to revision to reflect any significant changes in the U.S. or international economic outlook.

"I anticipate that the overall fallout for the U.S. economy from global market developments since the start of the year will most likely be limited, although this assessment is subject to considerable uncertainty," she said.

She said she still thought inflation will rise gradually over the next two to three years to the Fed's target of 2 percent annual increases in prices. Inflation has been running below this level for nearly four years. But Yellen warned that if oil prices began falling again, it could have "adverse spillover effects to the rest of the global economy."

Such expressions of concern about risks, which were sprinkled throughout her speech, help explain why Yellen seems inclined to keep rates unchanged in the near future.

Responding to a question after her speech, Yellen said the Fed foresees U.S. worker productivity, which has been historically low in recent years, eventually rising but says that assessment is "a source of huge uncertainty." Productivity — the average output produced per hour of work — is needed to boost living standards.

When the Fed met two weeks ago, it signaled the likelihood of just two rate increases this year — half the number that Fed officials had envisioned in December. As a result, most economists concluded that no rate increase would likely occur before June.

But comments last week from several of the Fed's regional bank presidents had raised the possibility that the central bank would decide to raise rates in April.

One of them, Dennis Lockhart of the Fed's Atlanta regional bank, said in a speech that he thought the strength of the most recent U.S. economic data could justify a rate increase as early as April. The views expressed by Lockhart, who is regarded as a centrist in his approach to interest rates, was echoed by some other Fed regional bank presidents.

Whatever decision the Fed does make in April will hinge on its view of the economy's durability. In the past week, some reports have produced weaker-than-expected readings, including a sharp drop in orders for long-lasting manufactured goods and tepid consumer spending.

Those reports have led some economists to downgrade their forecasts for growth in the current January-March quarter from a 2 percent annual rate to a lackluster 1 percent.

The consumer spending report also showed that the Fed's preferred inflation gauge is still signaling that inflation remains well below its target level. For the 12 months that ended in February, inflation rose just 1 percent. "Core" inflation, which excludes the volatile items of food and energy, increased 1.7 percent. (ags)

Categories: Indonesian News

Activists call on wise men to solve historic human rights abuses

Wed, 2016-03-30 16:29

Activists from the Victims Solidarity Network for Justice (JSKK) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) held their 436th Kamisan, a silent protest held every Thursday to push the government to settle historic human rights abuses, across the from the State Palace on March. 24. The families of the victims rejected the government's plan to focus on reconciliation in the settlement of the historic violations instead of taking the perpetrators to court. (Antara/Wahyu Putro)

Activists are urging the government to form an independent commission made up of civilian "wise men" to push for a legal settlement of Indonesia's historic human rights abuses to bring justice to the victims and their families.

The commission's members must be representatives of the public and not public officials from institutions involved in the violations, the human rights advocacy group Setara Institute suggested.

Setara and family members of victims of past human rights abuses held a closed door meeting with the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres) to convey to it the proposed formation of a Presidential Commission on the Disclosure of Truth and the Recuperation of Victims on Tuesday.

"It's impossible for governmental elements or officials to be part of this commission because in this case the state itself is subject to law that holds it responsible for historic human rights abuses, even though the current government is not the actual offender," Setara's deputy chairman, Bonar Tigor Naipospos said.

Together the activists met with Wantimpres chairwoman Sri Adiningsih and member Sidarto Dabusubroto to create a commission consisting of well-informed civilians, and not government officials, in the pursuit of a judicial resolution of seven main cases of violations.

The commission's duties would be to validate data that has been investigated by the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to see what can be taken to court and handled judicially, or alternatively, for the government to issue a formal apology by way of reconciliation.

The ad-hoc committee would be under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo with the authority to produce binding presidential decrees, Bonar said.

Jokowi has repeatedly reiterated his commitment to settling historic rights abuses that have been declared gross human rights violations by Komnas HAM.

The formation of the commission comes in response to a long-delayed bill on truth and reconciliation that is before the House of Representatives, which is apparently an alternative way in case government officials fail to find a better solution for all.

The selection of the committee members itself would be the prerogative of the President, Bonar said, adding that the backgrounds of the members would be important.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that the government aimed to settle all human rights violations cases by early May through reconciliation only and not through judicial processes because there was a lack of evidence. Such a deadline was "absurd", Bonar said.
Setara chairman Hendardi also derided Luhut's statement, calling it overly ambitious, hasty and unrealistic, as well as unacceptable to the families of the victims who sought for justice.

"There would be no reconciliation without the revelation of the truth," Hendardi said.
Human rights groups and families of the victims are pushing for the resolution of the cases judicially as stipulated in the 2000 law on human rights courts.

Hendardi admitted that with the case of the 1965 communist purge, a judicial settlement would be difficult because of a scarcity of proof and witnesses.

However, he underlined other newer cases must be resolved at court with transparent legal procedures.
Maria Katarina Sumarsih, member of the the Victims Solidarity Network for Justice (JSKK), said her community, along with the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), recently held its 436th Kamisan (a silent protest held every Thursday) across from the State Palace.

The protesters will continue to do so until the government takes concrete steps.

Maria, whose son Bernardus Realino Norma Irawan died in the First Semanggi tragedy in 1998, said the solving of the Semanggi cases could set a precedent as a step forward toward a positive future when the government would be proactive in addressing issues to clear the history.

The unresolved cases consist of a 1989 massacre in Talangsari, Lampung, the forced disappearance of anti-Soeharto activists in 1997 and 1998, the 1998 Trisakti University shootings, the Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1998 and 1999, the mysterious killings of alleged criminals in the 1980s, the communist purges of 1965 and various abuses that took place in Wasior and Wamena in Papua in 2001 and 2003, respectively. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

US orders diplomatic, military families out of south Turkey

Wed, 2016-03-30 16:29

In this July 28, 2015 file photo, a U.S. Navy plane maneuvers on the runway of the Incirlik Air Base, in Adana, in the outskirts of the city of Adana, southeastern Turkey. The State Department and Pentagon ordered the families of U.S. diplomats and military personnel on March 29 to leave posts in southern Turkey due to "increased threats from terrorist groups" in the country. The two agencies said dependents of American staffers at the U.S. consulate in Adana, the Incirlik air base and two other locations must leave. The so-called "ordered departure" notice means the relocation costs will be covered by the government. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The State Department and Pentagon ordered the families of U.S. diplomats and military personnel Tuesday to leave posts in southern Turkey due to "increased threats from terrorist groups" in the country.

The two agencies said dependents of American staffers at the U.S. consulate in Adana, the Incirlik air base and two other locations must leave. The so-called "ordered departure" notice means the relocation costs will be covered by the government.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said no specific threat triggered the order, but said it was done "out of an abundance of caution" for the safety of the families in that region. He said he was not aware of a deadline for the families to leave, but said "this will move very quickly."

In a statement, the military's European Command said the step "allows for the deliberate, safe return of family members from these areas due to continued security concerns in the region."

The orders cover the Adana consulate, U.S. military dependents in Incirlik, Ismir and Mugla as well as family of U.S. government civilians at Ismir and Mugla. The State Department also restricted official travel to that which it considers "mission critical." Cook said that the order does not affect about 100 family members who are based in Istanbul and Ankara.

The move comes amid heightened security concerns throughout Turkey due to the ongoing fight against Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and Iraq and was accompanied by an updated travel warning advising U.S. citizens of an increased threat of attacks. It also comes as Turkey's president is set to arrive in Washington to attend President Barack Obama's nuclear security summit.

"We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism," the European Command statement said.

Incirlik is a critical base in the fight by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group, and includes strike aircraft, drones and refueling planes.

Turkey's decision last year to allow the coalition to conduct airstrikes with aircraft based at Incirlik shortened the time and distance required to conduct airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, compared with strikes flown from bases in the Persian Gulf area. And it increased the number of U.S. personnel at the base.

NATO's Allied Land Command is based at Ismir and there is a Turkish base at Mugla where some U.S. military personnel go for training and other missions.

It was not immediately clear how many family members would be affected in total. The Pentagon said the order would affect about 680 military family members and roughly 270 pets. The State Department and Pentagon had begun a voluntary drawdown of staff at the two posts last September after Turkey announced it would take a greater role in the fight against Islamic State militants.

At the time, military officials said they had recommended the voluntary departure from Incirlik because of specific calls by militants for lone wolf attacks against the air base.

On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Turkish Foreign Mevlut Cavusoglu. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the two discussed measures to secure the Turkey-Syria border and disrupt extremist networks.

According to a U.S. official, the decision to order families to leave stemmed from the ongoing assessment of security threats in Turkey. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The decision comes a day after Israel issued a new travel advisory for Turkey, warning its citizens to leave the country as soon as possible and to avoid any traveling there. (ags)

Categories: Indonesian News

2 policemen killed, 4 injured in Venezuela street protest

Wed, 2016-03-30 16:29

Two women take part in an opposition protest in Caracas, Venezuela, March 12. Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro marched Saturday demanding his resignation after the opposition coalition announced a new campaign of protests, and proposals for legislative reform to reduce his presidential term. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

People demonstrating against a bus fare hike killed two police officers Tuesday in the restive western Venezuelan town of San Cristobal as informal protests sweep the troubled country.

The officers, aged 21 and 25, were killed by a bus hijacked and later abandoned by protesters in Tachira state, according to the Tachira police. Four other officers were seriously injured when masked protesters drove the hijacked bus through a police line, according to posts from the Tachira police Twitter account.

Earlier this month, the government doubled bus fares.

At least 31 people were arrested during the protest, according to Tachira Secretary of Public Security Ramon Cabeza.

Gov. Jose Vielma Mora decried the killings on his Twitter account.

"We reject any act that threatens stability and the lives of citizens. Violence brings bad consequences," he wrote. "Honor and glory to the brave men and women of the police force, who risk their lives to protect the people."

Informal street protests have become more common in recent months, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, as Venezuelans struggle with raging inflation, worsening shortages of basics such as like medicine and water, and proliferating food lines.

The country has seen an average of 17 small-scale protests a day so far this year, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, with a majority seeking to bring attention to the lack of basic services and food.

An anti-government protest at one of the city's largest universities continued into the afternoon, apparently unrelated to the protest that turned deadly in the morning.

The city is known for its frequent student demonstrations Protests in San Cristobal against the country's socialist administration two years ago helped spark a nationwide street protest movement. The town's mayor was imprisoned for his involvement. (ags)

Categories: Indonesian News

Elton John sued by off-duty officer alleging sex harassment

Wed, 2016-03-30 16:29

In this March 2 file photo, Elton John appears during the "Hillary Victory Fund I'm with Her" benefit concert in New York. John was sued on March 28, for sexual harassment by an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who worked on his security detail, who claims he was repeatedly groped by the Grammy winner. John’s attorney calls the lawsuit baseless and says the officer is trying to "extract an undeserved payment." (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

A decorated Los Angeles police captain has sued Elton John, claiming he was repeatedly groped by the singer while he was working off-duty on the Grammy winner's security detail.

The lawsuit filed Monday by Capt. Jeffrey Wenninger alleges the groping and sexually suggestive comments by John occurred in early 2014. Orin Snyder, an attorney for John's Rocket Entertainment Group, denied the allegations.

"This baseless lawsuit is brought by a disgruntled former security officer seeking to extract an undeserved payment," Snyder said in a statement. "These claims are patently untrue and contradicted by numerous previous statements made by this plaintiff."

Wenninger was employed off-duty through a private company that he also is suing, alleging he was improperly removed from working with John in September 2014. That lawsuit states he found out about the change after he requested to work with the singer.

Wenninger's attorney Marla A. Brown refused to address why her client would be seeking work after the alleged incidents occurred.

Wenninger's lawsuit against John accuses the singer of groping him while riding to an airport in late March 2014. Roughly two weeks later, the suit alleges, John committed other acts.

"The unwelcome touching of plaintiff by (John) occurred on many other occasions over the span of several years since plaintiff began his employment in 2002, escalating in frequency and intensity after 2010," the lawsuit states. "At no time did plaintiff consent to defendant Elton John touching him in this offensive manner, or in any other manner."

The lawsuit against Wenninger's employer alleges he was effectively fired from John's security detail because he had reported a fellow officer for overtime theft.

That officer also works for the security firms J Bondi, Inc. and Hamitsu, which have denied Wenninger's claims of unfair retaliation.

Wenninger received the LAPD's Medal of Valor for being part of a group of officers who helped evacuate 80 senior citizens from a burning retirement home in 1996. (ags)

Categories: Indonesian News

City won't remove historic Luar Batang Mosque: Ahok

Wed, 2016-03-30 15:00

Children are seen playing in front of the Luar Batang Mosque in North Jakarta. The historic building has attracted attention as the residents around the mosque are objecting to a supposed plan by Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to relocate them. They have asked for legal aid from former justice and human rights minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra, who apparently spread the rumor and is among the potential candidates to run for Jakarta governor in the 2017 election. (Kompas/Lasti Kurnia)

Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has denied accusations the city plans to remove the historic Luar Batang Mosque and a sacred tomb in North Jakarta, saying that the administration would only evict illegal settlers from the nearby riverbanks.

Previously, former justice and human rights minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said the city administration warned the residents around the historic mosque and tomb that they would be relocated, without compensation.

"We don't want to clear the Luar Batang village, but only install sheet piles along the river in the area. If Yusril said that I want to clear such areas, it is slander," Ahok told the journalist on Tuesday in Jakarta.

The administration, he continued, would only relocate illegal houses built near the river and sea. He underlined that no historic buildings would be demolished, especially the Luar Batang Mosque, which has a legal permit.

According to Ahok, the sheet piling will be installed in April and the mosque and the surrounding area would be beautified to become a cultural tourism site. "The mosque will look impressive. If you observe it from the Sunda Kelapa Harbor, you will be able to see it directly," he said.

He added that although he had not visited the mosque, he ordered the administration to repair the roads to it, put up some lamps and repaint the historic building, which dates back to about the year 1700.

"We have installed nice lamps in the tower and opened the veranda, so it looks beautiful at night. I want to make it fascinating if people look at it from the sea," Ahok said. (ags)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Woody Allen's 'Cafe Society' to open Cannes Film Festival

Wed, 2016-03-30 15:00

Woody Allen's latest film, "Cafe Society," will open this year's Cannes Film Festival.(shutterstock)

Woody Allen's latest film, "Cafe Society,'' will open this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Programmers say the movie, starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, will have its red-carpet premiere at the French Riviera festival on May 11.

Blake Lively, Parker Posey and Steve Carell also appear in the film, set in Hollywood in the 1930s.

Tuesday's announcement confirms Cannes' love affair with the 81-year-old American director. It's Allen's third film to open the festival, after "Hollywood Ending'' in 2002 and "Midnight in Paris'' in 2011.

"Cafe Society'' is not in competition for the Palme D'Or and other prizes, to be awarded by a jury headed by "Mad Max'' director George Miller.

The 69th Cannes Film Festival runs May 11-22. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Venezuela: Argentina can't "disappear" leftist TV network

Wed, 2016-03-30 15:00

In this July 24, 2005, file photo, workers set up for the inauguration of Telesur in Caracas, Venezuela. Argentine Minister of Communication Hermann Lombardi announced on March 28, that the country is pulling out of the Spanish-language television network started by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a vehicle for promoting leftist politics in Latin America. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Monday that Argentina would not be able to "disappear" the Telesur regional television network as it erased the lives of people during the country's military dictatorship.

"The same actors who disappeared 30,000 young people in Argentina are trying to disappear Telesur," Maduro said of the conservative Argentine government that announced Sunday it would pull its nearly 20 percent stake out of the Spanish-language network.

Argentina said it was leaving because it had been shut out of financial and editorial decisions.

Maduro said the left-leaning network started by his predecessor President Hugo Chavez would continue to inform the Argentine people and stand for truth and freedom of expression in Latin America.

Venezuela's socialist president said in televised remarks on Monday that Argentine President Mauricio Macri could not make the network go away, or prevent people from accessing Telesur's reporting online.

Argentina's Minister of Communications Hernan Lombardi said on Twitter that Maduro's statements did not merit a response.

Argentina is the first partner to pull out since a coalition of governments launched the channel in 2005.

As many as 30,000 people were killed or disappeared during a crackdown on leftists by Argentina's military dictatorship from 1976-83. (ags)

Categories: Indonesian News

Hmong American poet Mai Der Vang wins prize for best debut

Wed, 2016-03-30 15:00

In this undated image provided by The Library of America, American writer Walt Whitman is seen. A rare Whitman "soldier letter," one of only three known to exist, was discovered last month by a National Archives volunteer who is part of a team preparing Civil War widows' pension files to be digitized and placed online.(AP/The Library of America)

A Hmong American poet is this year's winner of the Walt Whitman Award, given for an outstanding debut book.

The Academy of American Poets told The Associated Press on Wednesday that 34-year-old Mai Der Vang will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a six-week residency in Umbria, Italy. Her collection "Afterland," inspired by the flight of the Hmong people caused by the so-called Secret War in Laos during the Vietnam War era, will be published next year by Graywolf Press. The academy will purchase thousands of copies for its members and will feature Mai Der Vang in its American Poets magazine and on its website, www.poets.org.

Previous winners of the Whitman prize, established in 1975, include Nicole Cooley, Eric Pankey and Alberto Rios.(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Nigerian official: Surrendered bomber not a "Chibok girl"

Wed, 2016-03-30 15:00

In this file photo taken from video released by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, May 12, 2014, shows missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. A teenage who surrendered before carrying out a suicide bombing attack in northern Cameroon has told authorities she was one of the 276 girls abducted from a Nigerian boarding school by Islamic extremists nearly two years ago, authorities said on March 26. (AP Photo)

A Nigerian official says a girl suicide bomber who surrendered in Cameroon is not one of the 276 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from a school in the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok nearly two years ago, but is from a nearby community.

The official says Cameroonian authorities gave them the names of the girl and an older accomplice but are holding them for questioning about how the Islamic extremists operate. The official in Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital, is waiting for the girls to be handed over. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press on the sensitive matter.

The girl, who turned herself in on Friday with explosives strapped to her body, appeared to be heavily drugged and suffering injuries, Cameroonian officials said. She said she was from Chibok and appeared to be about 10 years old.

In Nigeria, Chibok Parents Association chairman Yakubu Nkeki said he is waiting to go to Cameroon to see the child. Nkeki's niece was one of the youngest students abducted from a government boarding school in Chibok. She was 14 at the time of the mass kidnapping in the early hours of April 15, 2014. Dozens of the girls escaped on their own but 219 remain missing.

Boko Haram continues to kidnap even as Nigerian troops have rescued thousands from captivity in recent months. None has been from the Chibok school.

The failure of Nigerian officials and the military to rescue the girls promptly brought international condemnation and helped President Goodluck Jonathan lose in elections last year.

The Chibok kidnapping propelled Boko Haram into notoriety but Human Rights Watch said little has been done about another mass kidnapping, calling it "the largest documented school abduction." Boko Haram kidnapped some 300 students aged 7 to 17 and 100 women from a school in northeastern Damasak town a year ago Monday, said the London-based body.

"Three hundred children have been missing for a year, and yet there has been not a word from the Nigerian government," said researcher Mausi Segun. (ags)

Categories: Indonesian News

Pertamina cuts non-subsidized fuel prices by 1 US cent

Wed, 2016-03-30 13:58

A gas station employee serves motorists in Cikini, Central Jakarta. State-owned energy firm Pertamina has said it would cut the prices of non-subsidized fuels by Rp 200 per liter.(Antara/Sigid Kurniawan)

State owned energy firm PT Pertamina is planning to cut non-subsidized gasoline and diesel prices by Rp 200 (1 US cent) per liter starting March 31 at 12 midnight. However, subsidized fuel prices is yet to be decided.

Pertamina's vice president of corporate communications, Wianda Pusponegoro, said this would be the second time Pertamina cut non-subsidized fuel prices this year, following a previous cut in mid-March. She didn't say anything about subsidized fuel prices, which would be discussed in limited meeting Wednesday before the announcement.

"Therefore, in this month alone, Pertamina has cut the prices of Pertamax, Pertamax Plus, Pertamina Dex and Pertalite fuel by Rp 400 per liter," she said in Jakarta on Tuesday, suggesting that such a measure would encourage consumers to purchase better quality fuel.

Furthermore, Wianda explained that Pertamina would closely monitor the availability of fuel stocks in gas stations. "With prices cut, consumption usually increases. To ensure that the people are served well, we has been instructed to prepare all gas stations with enough stock," she said.

With a Rp 200 cut per liter, the new prices would change to Rp 7,550 per liter for Pertamax gasoline and Rp 7,100 for Pertalite gasoline. On the other hand, the high-quality diesel Pertamina Dex is set at Rp 8,400 and Pertamax Dex at Rp 8,450. The price of conventional non-subsidized diesel would drop from Rp 7,150 per liter to Rp 6,950.

"The Rp 200 per liter price reduction is to be applied equally throughout the entire region," said Wianda. (ags)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

SoundCloud expands into mainstream with paid streaming plan

Wed, 2016-03-30 13:58

SoundCloud hopes to distinguish itself with its massive variety and huge audience of 175 million monthly listeners. (Shutterstock.com/Denys Prykhodov)

SoundCloud is entering paid music streaming, hoping to turn its huge community of cover singers, dubstep remixers and wannabe stars into a bigger source of revenue.

Since its launch in 2007, the Berlin-based online music service has allowed pretty much any audio to be uploaded to its cloud — from Kanye West outtakes to teenagers singing over canned music. It has slowly introduced tools to earn revenue, introducing paid services for artists in 2008 and ad revenue sharing for invited musicians in 2014.

But after signing deals with major labels, including holdout Sony Music this month, SoundCloud is adding a subscription plan for consumers, giving them ad-free listening and a whole range of music from mainstream artists that had shunned the service because it only gave tracks away for free, including top acts like Taylor Swift.

SoundCloud, privately held and with tech investors like Union Square Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, will have a staggering 125 million tracks available when the paid tier, SoundCloud Go, launches Tuesday. That's about four times other paid services.

The fast-growing field of paid music subscription services is already crowded, led by companies like Spotify, with 30 million paying subscribers, and Apple, which jumped to 10 million after launching last year.

SoundCloud hopes to distinguish itself with its massive variety and huge audience of 175 million monthly listeners.

"We're at the very early days of streaming," said Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder and chieftechnology officer, in an interview. "The pie is going to be very large over time."

SoundCloud Go will cost $10 a month and offer ad-free offline playback on mobile devices. It'll also allow artists to choose whether to give away tracks for free or reserve them for paying customers — an option not allowed by Spotify, which depends on having quality free music to draw in prospective paying customers.

Wahlforss said a key selling point for consumers is the many tracks on SoundCloud you won't find elsewhere.

"You're going to be able to listen to a Rihanna next to an emerging artist, next to a DJ set, next to a mashup in the same playlist," said Wahlforss. "It's new for us, it's new for the world."

For example, on SoundCloud you can find gems like a John Legend's cover of the Adele hit, "Rolling in the Deep." Or a 4-minute version of "30 Hours," a shortened take of one of the songs from Kanye West's latest album, "The Life of Pablo." The album version is exclusively streaming on competing music service Tidal.

SoundCloud's reputation for hosting music that is off the beaten path is what drew DJ Kaskade to the platform. Without saying whether he'll put music behind the pay wall, Kaskade's manager Stephanie LaFera said it has long been a place for the DJ to connect with fans looking to dig deeper than a standard release.

"We feel like we're speaking to an audience that's already with us, fans that are open to experimentation, sub-genres and all the quirks that come with the world of electronic music," she said.(+)

Categories: Indonesian News