United Nations Declaration (Articles 1 - 30):

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts

Incoming UN chief names three women to top posts
Nigerian Minister of the Environment Amina Mohammed, seen in 2015, will be the UN's number two official (AFP Photo/Mireya ACIERTO)
Sustainable Development
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Timing of the Great Shift" – Mar 21, 2009 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Text version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


The Declaration of Human Freedom

Archangel Michael (Via Steve Beckow), Feb. 19, 2011

Every being is a divine and eternal soul living in a temporal body. Every being was alive before birth and will live after death.

Every soul enters into physical life for the purpose of experience and education, that it may, in the course of many lifetimes, learn its true identity as a fragment of the Divine.

Life itself is a constant process of spiritual evolution and unfoldment, based on free choice, that continues until such time as we realize our true nature and return to the Divine from which we came.

No soul enters life to serve another, except by choice, but to serve its own purpose and that of the Divine from which it came.

All life is governed by natural and universal laws which precede and outweigh the laws of humanity. These laws, such as the law of karma, the law of attraction, and the law of free will, are decreed by God to order existence and assist each person to achieve life’s purpose.

No government can or should survive that derives its existence from the enforced submission of its people or that denies its people their basic rights and freedoms.

Life is a movement from one existence to another, in varied venues throughout the universe and in other universes and dimensions of existence. We are not alone in the universe but share it with other civilizations, most of them peace-loving, many of whom are more advanced than we are, some of whom can be seen with our eyes and some of whom cannot.

The evidence of our five senses is not the final arbiter of existence. Humans are spiritual as well as physical entities and the spiritual side of life transcends the physical. God is a Spirit and the final touchstone of God’s Truth is not physical but spiritual. The Truth is to be found within.

God is one and, because of this, souls are one. They form a unity. They are meant to live in peace and harmony together in a “common unity” or community. The use of force to settle affairs runs contrary to natural law. Every person should have the right to conduct his or her own affairs without force, as long as his or her choices do not harm another.

No person shall be forced into marriage against his or her will. No woman shall be forced to bear or not bear children, against her will. No person shall be forced to hold or not hold views or worship in a manner contrary to his or her choice. Nothing vital to existence shall be withheld from another if it is within the community’s power to give.

Every person shall retain the ability to think, speak, and act as they choose, as long as they not harm another. Every person has the right to choose, study and practice the education and career of their choice without interference, provided they not harm another.

No one has the right to kill another. No one has the right to steal from another. No one has the right to force himself or herself upon another in any way.

Any government that harms its citizens, deprives them of their property or rights without their consent, or makes offensive war upon its neighbors, no matter how it misrepresents the situation, has lost its legitimacy. No government may govern without the consent of its people. All governments are tasked with seeing to the wellbeing of their citizens. Any government which forces its citizens to see to its own wellbeing without attending to theirs has lost its legitimacy.

Men and women are meant to live fulfilling lives, free of want, wherever they wish and under the conditions they desire, providing their choices do not harm another and are humanly attainable.

Children are meant to live lives under the beneficent protection of all, free of exploitation, with unhindered access to the necessities of life, education, and health care.

All forms of exploitation, oppression, and persecution run counter to universal and natural law. All disagreements are meant to be resolved amicably.

Any human law that runs counter to natural and universal law is invalid and should not survive. The enactment or enforcement of human law that runs counter to natural and universal law brings consequences that cannot be escaped, in this life or another. While one may escape temporal justice, one does not escape divine justice.

All outcomes are to the greater glory of God and to God do we look for the fulfillment of our needs and for love, peace, and wisdom. So let it be. Aum/Amen.



Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit

Pope Francis arrives for historic first US visit
Pope Francis laughs alongside US President Barack Obama upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, on September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)


Today's doodle in the U.S. celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech on its 50th anniversary (28 Aug 2013)

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'

'Love is love': Obama lauds gay marriage activists in hailing 'a victory for America'
The White House released this image, of the building colored like the rainbow flag, on Facebook following the supreme court’s ruling. Photograph: Facebook

Same-sex marriage around the world

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'

Merkel says Turkey media crackdown 'highly alarming'
Reporters Without Borders labels Erdogan as 'enemy of press freedom'

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Internet failure hits two continents


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (
CNN) -- Large swathes of Asia, the Middle East and north Africa had their high-technology services crippled Thursday following a widespread Internet failure which brought many businesses to a standstill and left others struggling to cope.

Hi-tech Dubai has been hit hard by an Internet outage apparently caused by a cut undersea cable.

One major telecommunications provider blamed the outage, which started Wednesday, on a major undersea cable failure in the Mediterranean.

India's Internet bandwidth has been sliced in half, The Associated Press reported, leaving its lucrative outsourcing industry trying to reroute traffic to satellites and other cables through Asia.

Reports say that Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain are also experiencing severe problems.

Nations that have been spared the chaos include Israel -- whose traffic uses a different route -- and Lebanon and Iraq. Many Middle East governments have backup satellite systems in case of cable failure.

An official at Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was believed that a boat's anchor may have caused the problems, although this was unconfirmed, AP reported. He added that it might take up to a week to repair the fault.

Rajesh Chharia, president of India's Internet Service Providers' Association, explained that some firms were trying to reroute via Pacific cables and that companies serving the eastern US and the UK were worst affected, AP added.

Besides the Internet, the outage caused major disruption to television and phone services, creating chaos for the UAE's public and private sectors.

There were contradicting reports on the real cause behind the disruption, but Du, a state-owned Dubai telecom provider, attributed it to an undersea cable cut in the Mediterranean Sea between Alexandria, Egypt and Palermo, Italy.

A Du internal memo, obtained by CNN, called the situation in Dubai "critical" and stated that the cable's operators did not know when services would be restored.

"This will have a major impact on our voice and Internet service for all the customers," the memo stated. "The network operation team are working with our suppliers overseas to resolve this as soon as possible."

The outage led to a rapid collapse of a wide range of public services in a country which proudly promotes itself as technological pioneer.

Sources from Emirates Airlines confirmed to CNN Arabic that the outage did not affect its flight schedules -- a statement which assured hundreds of travelers worried after rumors about the possibility of rescheduled flights due to the faults.

However, Dnata, a government group in charge of providing air travel services in the Middle East and ground handling services at Dubai International Airport, acknowledged facing problems because of the outage, sources from its technical department confirmed to CNN Arabic.

The outage heavily crippled Dubai's business section, which is heavily reliant on electronic means for billions of dollars' worth of transactions daily.

Wadah Tahah, the business strategies and development manager for state-owned construction company EMAAR, told CNN Arabic that it was fortunate the outage started Wednesday, when there had been only moderate activity in the UAE markets. He said that softened the blow to business interests.

But Tahah warned that if the outage continued, "such a situation could create problems between brokers, companies, and investors due to loss of control."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Suu Kyi 'not satisfied' by talks

BBC News

Burma's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is "not satisfied" by recent discussions with the country's military leaders, said her party.

Ms Suu Kyi's comments followed her fifth meeting with the official appointed to liaise with her and the National League for Democracy (NLD).

She also met NLD party members for the second time since last year's protests.

Ms Suu Kyi's party said she was concerned that the meetings might raise false hopes of political reform.

Labour Minister Aung Kyi was appointed to negotiate with Ms Suu Kyi amid the global outrage which followed the deadly crackdown on political protestors in September 2007.

But NLD spokesman Nyan Win told reporters: "Aung San Suu Kyi is not satisfied with her meetings with the relations minister, mainly because there is no timeframe."

The junta has said it is drawing up a roadmap to democracy, but the plan has been widely dismissed as a sham by observers.

House arrest

Mr Win read out a statement from Ms Suu Kyi in which she told her party to "hope for the best and prepare for the worst," reported Reuters news agency.

She said she had not received any clear messages from the government, but urged party members to remain united.

"We have to be patient, as we have sacrificed for many years," said the statement.

"I don't want to give false hopes to the people. I will tell the people more when the time comes."

Ms Suu Kyi also repeated her insistence that talks about political reform must involve pro-democracy groups and representatives of Burma's ethnic groups.

The NLD won elections in 1990 but has never been allowed to take power. Ms Suu Kyi has spent 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest in Burma's commercial capital, Rangoon.

Kenyans call for an end to bloodshed

By Andrew Cawthorne and Jack Kimball, Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:11am EST,

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyans pleaded on Wednesday for an end to violence that has killed 850 people and created unprecedented horror in the east African nation's darkest moment since 1963 independence.

Protests over President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election in a December 27 election have degenerated into cycles of killing between rival tribes, and there is increasing evidence of gangs being well organized on both sides.

"Peace", "Love", "Sorry", read cards on wreaths of flowers among dozens starting to be laid by peace activists and other concerned citizens at Nairobi's "Freedom Corner" in the centre of the capital.

"Stop The Killing Now," read another.

The violence has taken the lid off decades-old divisions between communities over land, wealth and power that hark back to British colonial rule and have been stoked by politicians at election time over 44 years of independence.

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan was planning to stage a second day of talks between Kenya's feuding political rivals to try to halt the bloodshed after bringing them together on Tuesday.

Used to their nation being seen as a relatively peaceful haven in a turbulent region, Kenyans are aghast at scenes of people being hacked, burned or clubbed to death in Nairobi slums and around the volatile Rift Valley.

More than 250,000 people are living as refugees -- a sad irony not lost on Kenyans more used to receiving the displaced from war-torn neighbors like Sudan and Somalia.

Many blame President Mwai Kibaki and opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga for unleashing the chaos by failing to reconcile their political differences more quickly, and then not standing up to stop the violence.

The worst violence has been between Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe on the one side, and the Luos of Odinga's community plus the mainly pro-opposition Kalenjins on the other.

OUTSIDE HELP?

"Every image of a razed house, every shot of a drying patch of blood is a chilling reminder of the deep fissures which have turned Kenya's fabled unity into a mirage," wrote Kenya's leading newspaper, the Daily Nation, in an editorial.

"The fear of civil war is not far-fetched and the prospect of healing wounds and reconstruction is simply daunting," it added, warning that Kibaki, as the man in the top office, must take ultimate responsibility "if Kenya disintegrates."

Annan, facing one of the toughest tasks of his lengthy diplomatic career, launched formal mediation talks on Tuesday.

Annan said he was confident "immediate political issues" could be resolved within four weeks, but broader issues underlying the crisis may take a year.

Small negotiating teams for both sides were due to meet again on Wednesday -- but the parties remained far apart.

Kibaki, 76, wants recognition as president first, although he has said he will consider a power-sharing arrangement.

Odinga, 63, says he is the legitimate president but was robbed by fraud during the vote count. He wants Kibaki to stand down or allow a new election after a period of power-sharing.

Hardliners in both camps are stalling progress.

The crisis is wreaking havoc in Kenya's economy, east Africa's largest and previously one of its brightest.

The $1 billion a year tourism industry faces collapse, flower production and transport round the lakeside town of Naivasha has been disrupted in the run-up to the lucrative Valentine's Day period, and growth forecasts have been cut.

The currency is near a three-year low, stocks are down.

"This is little short of a disaster," said a white Kenyan farmer, whose workers on his Naivasha estate have scattered due to ethnic differences and fear of violence. "We are seriously thinking of leaving the country for the first time."

A civil society group, the National Community-Based Organisation Council, called on Wednesday for African Union or United Nations peacekeepers to come and help "overwhelmed" security services. The group put the number of dead across Kenya at 2,000, and displaced at more than 500,000.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Sudah and Duncan Miriri; writing by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Keith Weir)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

'Opinions carelessly expressed can hurt business environment'


Debnath Guharoy, Consultant, The Jakarta Post

It was a volatile seven days in Indonesia last week. Influenced by the stock-market roller-coasters around the world, the Jakarta stock market had its own fall and recovery. In another realm, a Garuda pilot was sentenced to 20 years for Munir's murder but Gus Dur reflected the views of many when he said the real killers were still at large.

The unnecessary development of the week, however, was General Djoko Santoso's comment that Indonesia wasn't ready for democracy.

Ever since the measurement was introduced three years ago, the Roy Morgan Good Governance monitor has reflected the people's resounding vote for democracy.

Since that time, around 70 percent of the population have consistently said they believed "democracy is working". The military general is obviously among the 30 percent who disagreed.

Ten years ago, the wisdom of Indonesia's generals facilitated a smooth transition of power from dictatorship to democracy. Since then, the collective efforts of the world's fifth largest population have made it a beacon for the Islamic world. The current President is a true believer of democratic principles, a conviction he often reiterates.

The conflicting view of his chosen commander, expressed and explained in public, is more than confusing. It has raised eyebrows, not just in Indonesia.

Several institutions and many of their associates make strenuous efforts to promote Indonesia to prospective investors around the world. One of the new attractions is Indonesia's successful record as a ten-year-old democracy.

If the armed forces are seen as anything other than a defender of democracy today, they will send shock-waves across the business community, internationally.

Not because businesses care too much about democracy itself, but because they know there is no going back to authoritarian rule again. The people would not accept a breach, endlessly. The turmoil in Pakistan today is living testimony.

Public servants accustomed to years of total authority can find the behavioral adjustments required by a democracy, difficult.

Though the armed forces are not public servants in the same way bureaucrats or politicians are, they cannot ignore the fact that their own welfare is also dependent on the efforts of the people. Everybody has a role, and a responsibility.

As Indonesia continues to consolidate its position in the free world and the global economy, the pain is being felt most of all by the humble worker. That includes the small business owner.

The necessary removal of subsidies and the impact on the price of fuel created an even greater burden on the vast majority of breadwinners. While the 17 percent inflation that was triggered in September 2005 is currently hovering around 6 percent, the price of essentials is continuing to hurt almost all Indonesians.

Most people have always led a modest life in Indonesia, but the struggle in recent times has become even harder.

Based on the national average, the Main Income Earner was barely able to meet the needs of his/her household, even before September 2005. Though many more are doing more than one job nowadays and there is a noticeable increase in the average earnings of Main Income Earners, they are still unable to take care of all the needs of their families.

Other members of the family, or the extended family, are now compelled to contribute. That is because the average household expenditure has also crept up at a level higher than income.

The two graphs are beginning to merge again, after two years. The two trendlines met at the Rp 800,000 mark in September 2005, crossed over and grew apart while they climbed. They merged again for the first time in September 2007 at around Rp 970,000.

The next few quarters will offer a better understanding of the alleviation, if the gap doesn't adversely widen again.

These observations are based on Roy Morgan Single Source, the country's largest syndicated survey with over 27,000 Indonesian respondents each year. The results are updated every 90 days.

While it is easy for affluent homes to take luxuries off the weekly shopping list, it is difficult for everybody else to eat less tahu. The longer term easing of the proverbial national belt can only happen with more jobs and higher earnings.

Investments, from within the country and from without, are essential prerequisites. Political stability is an equally important backdrop for investment.

In a democracy, the people expect the armed forces to be in a permanent state of readiness, a last resort in quelling disturbances or attending to emergencies beyond the capacity of the police.

To say or do anything that contradicts that role cannot be good for the stability of Indonesia's current democracy, its businesses or jobs.

The writer can be contacted at Debnath.Guharoy@roymorgan.com

Pancasila, development top Soeharto's legacies


The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The death of Soeharto seems unlikely to change the public's perception of the former leader and his socio-political legacy for the country.

Many Indonesians today seem to perceive Soeharto as a repressive former leader who should be held accountable for numerous wrong doings during his 32 years of rule.

Others, however, have recalled the bright side of Soeharto, especially the long period of political stability under his rule that allowed the country to accelerate development.

Political analyst Muhammad Qadari said Monday during Soeharto's New Order government from 1966 to 1998, Indonesian politics was far from democratic.

Entities like political parties, non-governmental organizations, labor unions and civil organizations were all repressed and required to embrace the one and only ideology, Pancasila.

"On the other hand, the authoritarian and undemocratic political system that led to state stability was very crucial for the success of the nation's development," Qodari said.

Political researcher Saiful Mujani said the most obvious legacy of Soeharto in Indonesia's political system was the existence of Pancasila as the country's single ideology.

Mujani said although Pancasila was promoted by Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, he had not possessed the ability or determination to make it the one and only ideology for Indonesia.

The strength of the ideology during Soeharto's reign saw the powerful religion-based organization Muhammadiyah accept Pancasila as its core ideology.

"Soeharto succeeded in building the foundation that Indonesia needed at that time," Mujani said.

"That foundation, Pancasila, was needed because without it, the country would emulate the crisis of the 1950s, when frequent regional upheavals and religious conflicts impeded Indonesia's attempts to develop," he said.

Mujani said Pancasila was still relevant now because it could accommodate a potential for the culturally diverse Indonesian people to apply democratic values.

However, he said the stability Indonesia had experienced during Soeharto's term in office was gained at the expense of the people's freedom to think and speak.

"For 32 years, stability was maintained by curbing the people's right to participate in politics by controlling the mass media and by repressing the political parties."

Mujani said when the success of economic development started to make Indonesians realize their political rights, Soeharto should have gradually lessened his government's control toward the public's participation in politics.

"In the early 1980s, when Indonesia's economy reached a stable and high level of growth, Soeharto should have started the succession process from him to another leader," Mujani said. (uwi)

A political timeline during Soeharto's rule

  • 1966 : Indonesian Communist Party is banned based on the March 11 presidential order (Supersemar)
  • 1966 : Communism, Marxism, Leninism is outlawed under a Provisional People's Consultative Assembly decree
  • 1966 : The Indonesian Armed Forces dual function is extended to ideological, social, political, economic and cultural affairs and economic development that requires political stability is introduced during a seminar at the Army Staff and Command School.
  • 1967 : Restriction against Chinese-Indonesians
  • 1971 : Floating mass policy that bans political parties from operating at village level is introduced ahead of the first general election since 1955.
  • 1975 : Simplifies multi-party system into three-party system.
  • 1975 : Invades and annexes East Timor
  • 1978 : Normalization of student campuses, banning students from political activities.
  • 1978 : Introduces mandatory Pancasila proselytization course and single loyalty to Pancasila ideology for parties and mass organizations.
  • 1989 : Launches military operation to crush rebellion in Aceh.
  • 1996 : Approves a splinter group of the Indonesian Democratic Party following a bloody takeover of the party's head office.
  • 1997 : Crackdown on government critics and student activists.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Soeharto era comes to a close

Jusuf Wanandi Jakarta, The Jakarta Post

Soeharto died on Sunday after a series of illnesses since stepping down in May 1998. He achieved substantial development and improvements in Indonesia since he reluctantly took over from Sukarno. However, he destroyed his own achievements because he overstayed his time and effectiveness and became isolated, surrounded by sycophants, as so often happened with authoritarian rulers.

SOEHARTO JP/P.J. Leo

In 1965 he was a hero to many Indonesians when he outlawed the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), which tried to instigate a coup on September 30, 1965, and step by step removed Sukarno reluctantly. In the vacuum of power that ensued, a few hundred thousands members and supporters of the Communist Party were killed, and he did not do much about it.

He rehabilitated the economy that was in tatters due to Sukarno's negligence, and embarked on economic development, which after 20 years made Indonesia one of the tigers of Southeast Asia. However, he damaged his achievements afterwards when he practiced KKN (corruption, cronyism and nepotism). He encouraged bribes and corruption, and the society is still suffering from it today. His poor governance worsened the financial crisis.

In the beginning he did pay a great deal of attention to the farmers and did a lot for the poor through education, basic healthcare and family planning. But the crisis in 1998 erased most of the achievements, as unemployment, underemployment and poverty started to increase again.

He brought political stability following the upheavals in the late 1960s, but his increased autocratic ways became a renewed source of instability, local conflicts and rebellions.

In the end only his foreign policy was a success. He ended Konfrontasi, the confrontation with Malaysia, in August 1965 despite Sukarno's opposition. ASEAN was established in 1967, and with this, he placed Indonesia in a regional structure. He earned the trust of the other members, and as Lee Kuan Yew has acknowledged, it was the leadership of Indonesia that sustained ASEAN.

Despite being close to the West for economic reasons, especially early in his presidency, he managed to stay as free and independent as any non-aligned country. He got a lot of recognition from UN agencies such as the FAO and others.

What legacies has he left behind? He created a middle class which has made democracy a more viable political system in Indonesia, and paired with the decentralization that was introduced following his demise, Indonesia has been kept together following the upheavals after the crisis of 1997-98.

He created a more balanced foreign policy, which had become highly adventurous during the Sukarno presidency. This was more in accordance with Indonesia's free and independent principles laid down by the Founding Fathers, especially Mohammad Hatta and Sutan Syahrir. In other areas, he started well, but then it became disjointed because of his authoritarian rule and for staying in power for too long. He opened the economy, but he also introduced KKN into the system, which has become a curse until today.

He was unwilling to prepare a new generation of leaders, and as a result all the four presidents after him were not up to the task.

Soeharto's reign was indeed a very mixed blessing for the country and society. Our feelings for him are at best very ambivalent. On the one hand he was a hero, but he overstayed in his job and a created a lot of excesses that were unacceptable and could not be condoned. That is why strengthening state and society institutions should be our main focus in the future, and the country should no more rely so heavily on strongmen and charismatic leaders.

The writer is vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta

Vancouver is 'best place to live'

BBC News

Vancouver is the world's best place to live, a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has found.

The EIU ranked 127 cities in terms of personal risk, infrastructure and the availability of goods and services.

All the cities that fell into the top "liveability" bracket were based in Canada, Australia and Western Europe.

The worst places were Algiers in Algeria, and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea because "many aspects of daily life present challenges", the EIU said.

Safe havens?

Canadian cities scored well, as did Austria's Vienna and Switzerland's Geneva, because they are not seen as targets for terror attacks.

TOP TEN

Vancouver
Melbourne
Vienna
Geneva
Perth
Adelaide
Sydney
Zurich
Toronto
Calgary

Source: EIU

The main uncertainty for people living in those cities was climate-related, the EIU said.

"In the current global political climate, it is no surprise that the most desirable destinations are those with the lower perceived threat of terrorism," said Jon Copestake, editor of the EIU report.

The survey has produced a mixed picture of the world's cities. London was ranked in the 10th group, on a par with Dublin and Los Angeles, but one place below Manchester, four behind Berlin, five lower than Tokyo, and six off Helsinki, Frankfurt and Stockholm.

Bottom 10 cities

Tehran
Douala
Harare
Abidjan
Phnom Penh
Lagos
Karachi
Dhaka
Algiers
Port Moresby

Source: EIU

In Latin America, "no city manages to present ideal living conditions, neither do any fall into the category where extreme difficulties are faced", the EIU said.

Montevideo in Uruguay, Santiago in Chile and Buenos Aires in Argentina offer the region's best conditions. Bogota in Colombia and Caracas in Venezuela score the least favourably.

In Asia, cities in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and Taiwan all score well, as do Australia's main hubs.

Africa and the Middle East fare less well, with the EIU citing concerns about terror attacks, and economic and political instability.

Some of the worst performing cities include Harare in Zimbabwe and Lagos in Nigeria.

World leaders praise stability Soeharto gave Indonesia

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - World leaders on Sunday praised the late Indonesian president Soeharto for the stability and growth he brought to the region but said serious rights abuses marred his long rule.

The former general, 86 when he died on Sunday, ruled with an iron fist for 32 years, allowing rapid development and holding together the diverse nation.

But his time in power, which ended in 1998 after mass protests, also witnessed corruption, massacres and human rights abuses, particularly in separatist hot spots such as Papua and East Timor.

"Former President Soeharto was one of the longest-serving heads of government of the last century and an influential figure in Australia's region and beyond," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was quoted by Reutersa as saying in a statement.

"The former president was also a controversial figure in respect of human rights and East Timor and many have disagreed with his approach," said Rudd, who praised Soeharto for modernising Indonesia and his efforts to forge a united region.

"Singapore would like to convey our deepest sympathies to the Indonesian people for their profound loss," a spokesman from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said via email.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, another Muslim nation in the region, said Soeharto's death was a great loss to both countries.

"We pray to Allah to bless Pak Harto's soul and to place him among the blessed," Abdullah told reporters, using the popular name for Soeharto.

Stability, suffering

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 82, whose time in office overlapped Soeharto's for nearly two decades, told the Bernama state news agency: "I regarded him as a friend of Malaysia and as a personal friend.

"Even though Indonesia was not an ideal democracy during Soeharto's time, the fact remained that he brought stability to Indonesia. Of course, there is a price to be paid," Mahathir said, acknowledging that some people had suffered under Soeharto's administration.

Mahathir said his country was indebted to Soeharto for his role in ending the Indonesian "Confrontation" against Malaysia.

Sukarno, Indonesia's first president, had declared a "Confrontation" against Malaysia in 1964, which then included Singapore along with the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Sukarno believed all of Borneo belonged to Indonesia and announced his intention to arm a million leftist peasants and workers to do battle with Malaysia.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said: "Under Soeharto's rule, Indonesia experienced a period of relative stability. The economy grew strongly, notably in the 1980s.

After he stepped down, Indonesia democratically chose a new leader. That confirms that Indonesia is a democratic country where the people have the last word."

The Netherlands is Indonesia's former colonial master.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda offered condolences via a telegram. Japan invaded and briefly overthrew Dutch rule during World War Two and is now a key investor in the nation.

Bangladesh described Soeharto's death as "the end of an era" but also noted the inconsistencies in his rule.

"Soeharto leaves behind a mixed bag of legacies, while his supporters see him as the father of development, his opponents describe him as dictatorial," said Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, adviser on foreign affairs to Bangladesh's interim government.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Soeharto: Demise of a master


JAKARTA (
Jakarta Post) : The father of development is dead.

Venerated for much of his 32-year tenure as the liberator he appeared to be after more than two decades of authoritarian rule under his predecessor, Sukarno, and vilified near its end for his authoritarian rule and for the corruption he appeared to condone in his later years in office, Indonesia's second president, Soeharto died quietly Sunday aged 86 at Pertamina Hospital.

A complication of illnesses had sapped the former military strongman of his vitality during the last years of his life. He leaves behind the partially grown seeds of an ambitious industrial modernization plan and a legacy of sectarian strife and unbridled corruption.

Soeharto's rise to the peak of executive power began in 1968, in the wake of the abortive communist coup three years earlier. The ascension of the unassuming, quietly smiling general, the polar opposite of the charismatic and hugely popular founding president Sukarno, took many of his countrymen by surprise, many of whom believed Sukarno had a unassailable hold over the nation.

And yet, given the country's political makeup and power constellation of the day, Soeharto quickly established he was more than enough equipped for the post he was to assume, despite humble beginnings and earlier frustrations.

Some confusion regarding his origins aside, the official accounts record that Soeharto was born on June 8, 1921, to a poor but not unimportant farmer's family in Kemusuk, about 15 kilometers northwest of Yogyakarta. His father, Kertosudiro, was a village irrigation official in charge of overseeing the allocation of water to irrigate the different fields in the village. His mother, Sukirah, was a village woman from a neighboring hamlet.

The marriage broke down just a few weeks after Soeharto's birth and the child was entrusted to the care of his paternal great aunt, from where he returned to live with his mother only after she remarried. And although schooling began when he was only four years old -- a most unusually early age, especially forIndonesian village children of that time -- his formal education was disrupted several times because the young child's frequent shuttling between relatives in his extended family.

From this troubled, itinerant youth, Soeharto was later to remember with special fondness and gratitude the time he spent with the family of one of his paternal aunts, the wife of a senior agricultural official, Mas Ngabei Prawirohardjo. It was here at Wuryantoro that Soeharto appeared to have spent his most formative period. It was here too, through his relationship with the Prawirohardjos, that he was to meet his future wife, Siti Hartinah, the daughter of the district chief of nearby Wonogiri, RM Soemoharjomo.

After completing his secondary schooling in 1939 at the age of 17, Soeharto left a troubled childhood behind and started work as a clerical assistant at a local bank in Wuryantoro. The job didn't last long. Soon after he started work, his banking career was terminated after he tore a piece of his clothing, which he said he could not afford to replace.

Desperate for work but not very successful in finding a suitable job, Soeharto enlisted with KNIL (Royal Netherlands Indies Army), where he began service on June 1, 1940, and it was there that he received his basic military training. But although he reportedly did well and was later accepted to the KNIL officer training school in Gombong, Central Java, in December of that year, his real opportunity for a solid military career came in March 1942, with the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies and the subsequent proclamation of Indonesia's independence on Aug. 17, 1945.

After the establishment of the BKR (the People's Security Body) and subsequent TKR (People's Security Army) -- both forerunners of the Indonesian National Army, or TNI -- in which he took an active role, Soeharto's military star steadily rose.

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1945, he distinguished himself during the Dutch military occupation of Yogyakarta, the new Republic of Indonesia's war capital. Despite some controversy over the exact role he played in the renowned March 1, 1949, daytime assault on Dutch strongholds in Yogyakarta, his leadership as commander in the field at the time remains undisputed and the attack served its purpose of convincing the world that the Indonesian Republic continued to exist and had not succumbed to the superior Dutch military might.

The same tactical and strategic mastery that Soeharto had displayed during the war for independence served him well during and after the traumatic days of October 1965, following the alleged communist coup in September. And those who have ever wondered how Soeharto had managed to wrest the seemingly absolute powers from the hands of his predecessor, Sukarno, and go on to become a near-absolute ruler himself, will have to admit that Soeharto's tactical and strategic mastery in politics was virtually unrivaled for his time.

With patience, skill and resolve -- and a philosophical world view that he conceivably acquired from his troubled childhood and his typically Javanese upbringing -- Soeharto always remained true to the Javanese saying alon-alon waton kelakon (slowly but surely) and never made a move, in war or in politics, until he was certain that the victory would be his. Given the right moment, however, he could strike swiftly and with the ruthlessness of a Javanese potentate of old. With that skill and patience, he moved to gradually unseat Sukarno from the presidency, defying protests that he was moving too slowly.

On March 11, 1966, while still only a commander of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) leading the fight against the coup's plotters, he sent four of his generals to Bogor, Sukarno's sanctuary, to wrest from the president the authority to take whatever action he thought was necessary "to restore orderand protect the president." Mysteriously, the original document has since disappeared.

With that mandate in hand, however, Soeharto quickly moved to outlaw the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), dismiss and arrest 15 of Sukarno's cabinet ministers, and appoint a new cabinet with Soeharto himself as head of the presidium.

From that point on, history proceeded quickly.

Soeharto undid all of Sukarno's left-leaning policies. He stabilized the economy, restored good relations with Malaysia and foreign investments were welcomed. Appointed Acting President as a stand-in for the now socially and politically isolated Sukarno, Soeharto was named full president on March 27, 1968 by a People's Consultative Assembly whose members were, discreetly, handpicked by Soeharto.

Like his predecessor Sukarno, left, Mr. Suharto, right, worked to forge national unity in a fractious country of 200 million people comprising 300 ethnic groups speaking 250 languages and inhabiting more than 17,000 islands spread over a 3,500-mile archipelago.
(The New York Times)

Under Soeharto's New Order, old roads were repaired and new roads constructed, irrigation ditches were built, factories rose across the country and the banking industry seemed outwardly to flourish. A master in translating complicated issues into a language the common people could understand, he regularly captivated audiences of peasants in the villages. A picture of rising wealth and growing prosperity was painted for the people to refute the increasing grumbles of hardship, earning him the designation of Indonesia's "father of development."

To govern effectively and to carry out his economic programs without disruptions, however, political stability was needed. Therefore, open dissent was suppressed. For the purpose of keeping political parties -- and the legislative bodies, the House of Representatives and the People's Consultative Assembly(MPR) -- in rein, a machinery, was created in the form of Golkar to make sure that Soeharto, the president, won the majority of votes in support of his policies every time.

Within the judiciary and throughout the entire bureaucracy, the same policy was pursued: to make sure that officials toe the government line while preserving an outward facade of democracy, all the state institutions were revamped and peopled with New Order supporters. But while in this way political stability was indeed ensured, at least for the time being, those policies provided a fertile breeding bed for corruption, which, indeed thrived and blossomed beyond imagination and, over those three decades under the New Order, quickly came to infest nearly all walks of life.

In the end, however, the 1997 Asian financial crisis burst to expose the ersatz glitter and, combined with the discontent that had been simmering domestically among the oppressed masses, proved too much for even Soeharto to handle. In May 1998, Indonesia's longest-ruling president was forced to resign amidriots and popular protests the extent and ferocity of which the nation had seen only a few times before.

Mr. Suharto after he was forced from office. He managed to escape criminal prosecution for embezzling millions of dollars, possibly billions, by having himself declared too ill and mentally incapable to stand trial. A civil suit against him was pending at the time of his death.
(The New York Times)

The father of development is dead. But as for Indonesia, Soeharto's demise, and that of the New Order he founded, marks not only the end of the remarkable life and the loss of a great if controversial leader, but hopefully the end of an era of extended autocratic presidencies as well.

Indonesia`s former president Soeharto dies

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Former President Soeharto (86) died on Sunday (Jan 27) at 13:10 after he was treated about two weeks at the Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta.

The Indonesian second president was admitted to the Pertamina Hospital last Friday on January 4, 2008, for suffering from anemia and severe edema.

Soeharto began his New Order government after then President Soekarno authorized him in March 1966 to overcome the chaotic situation in the aftermath of the aborted Communist coup in 1965.

A special session of the provisional People`s Consultative Assembly (MPRS) in March 1967 appointed Soeharto acting president and he was officially sworn in Indonesia`s second president in March 1968.

Soeharto who was born in Kemusuk village, Yogyakarta, on June 8, 1921, ruled the country for 32 years through six consecutive general elections.

Between 1960 and 1965, the national economy grew merely by an average of 2.1 percent annually. The inflation rate reached over 250 percent in 1961-1965 and even jumped to 650 percent in 1966.

After the stabilization and rehabilitation drive carried out by the New Order in 1966 and 1968, economic growth reached an average of six percent.

Thus, in 1969, Soeharto began to implement his ideas to lift up the country from poverty through five-year development plans called "Repelita".

At the start of Repelita I, Indonesia`s per capita income stood at US$70, and Indonesia was rated as one of the poorest countries in the world.

About three decades later, the country`s per capita income went up to US$1,155 and Indonesia was regarded a middle income country. The economy grew convincingly by an average of seven to eight percent a year over a period of 25 years.

Entering the 80s and the 90s, the inflation rate was maintained at an average of 10 percent, and in 1996 it reached 6.5 percent.

The result of Soeharto`s economic programs made Indonesia which had been crippled by poverty in the previous three decades, one of the newly emerging economies in South East Asia.

The number of poor people declined from 60 percent in 1967 to 40 percent in 1980 and 21 percent or 37 million people in 1987. With a population of about 200 million, Indonesia was able to further reduce the number of its poor to 11.3 percent or 22.5 million in 1996.

The success of his economic development earned him the title "Bapak Pembangunan" (Father of Development) which was conferred on him by the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR) in 1983 in recognition of his success.

Through diversification in the agricultural sector, Soeharto also succeeded in turning Indonesia from a rice-importing to a rice-exporting nation.

In 1980, Soeharto declared Indonesia self-sufficient in rice and traveled to Rome in 1985 to receive a crowning award from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

The New Order era leader resigned from the presidential post on May 21, 1998.

Satellite is weeks away from hitting Earth

CNN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A large U.S. spy satellite has lost power and propulsion and could hit the Earth in late February or March, government officials said Saturday.

A senior government official says lawmakers and other nations are being kept apprised of the situation.

The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret.

"Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

"Numerous satellites over the years have come out of orbit and fallen harmlessly. We are looking at potential options to mitigate any possible damage this satellite may cause."

He would not comment on whether it is possible for the satellite to be perhaps shot down by a missile. He said it would be inappropriate to discuss any specifics at this time.

The largest uncontrolled re-entry by a NASA spacecraft was Skylab, the 78-ton abandoned space station that fell from orbit in 1979. Its debris dropped harmlessly into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia.

In 2000, NASA engineers successfully directed a safe de-orbit of the 17-ton Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, using rockets aboard the satellite to bring it down in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.

In 2002, officials believe debris from a 7,000-pound science satellite smacked into the Earth's atmosphere and rained down over the Persian Gulf, a few thousand miles from where they first predicted it would plummet.

Market turmoil fuels new gold rush

Sydney (ANTARA News) - Turbulence on world stock markets has fuelled a new gold rush, sending high-tech traders in search of the same "barbaric" treasure mankind has lusted after for millenia.

It was British economist John Maynard Keynes who called gold a "barbaric relic" early last century, but modern investors are showing the same enthusiasm for the precious metal as the grizzled prospectors of legend.

"We have to put gold into perspective right now with the meltdown in the financial system," Warwick Grigor, chairman of Far East Capital, told AFP.

"There's great fear out there, and gold stands out as a safe haven.

"When there's fear of inflation gold is something investors want to purchase because there is a very limited supply -- you can't flood the market with gold.

"Governments can print money -- that creates inflation. Paper money is just a promise and that promise gets abused constantly by governments."

Gold hit an all-time peak of 923.73 dollars an ounce on the London Bullion Market on Friday after a week in which global stock markets plunged on fears of a recession in the United States.

To staunch the bloodbath on the markets, the US Federal Reserve intervened with a surprise 75 basis points cut in interest rates, a move Grigor described as a short term fix which would push up inflation.

While gold's rarity is cited as the main reason it will maintain its value in volatile times for stocks and paper money it also seems to wield a primitive fascination beyond its worth.

"Gold may not be rational but human beings are not necessarily rational either," said author and analyst Trevor Sykes.

"Gold has been around for about 3,000 years whereas paper money has been around for only a couple of hundred years and the way things are going I would back gold to outlast most of the paper money in this world.

"It does make nice jewellery, it's very attractive, it appeals to our primeval urges and it looks like it's got a terrific future."

It has been used for centuries as a symbol of wealth in anything from jewellery to gold bathroom fittings or even the coffin of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who died more than 3,000 years ago.

As currency, the history of gold coins is usually traced through the Roman Empire back to Lydia in what is now Turkey, where it is believed the first real coins were struck around the 6th century BC.

In modern times, the Bretton Woods system introduced after World War II obliged countries to maintain the value of their currencies in a tight link to gold, but the mechanism collapsed in 1971.

Recent events, however, have shown that when stocks and paper money are stumbling, investors head to the soft, malleable metal with its seductive gleam.

As safe as houses? Dutch history suggests not

Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:32pm EST

By Emma Thomasson

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The house sugar merchant Cornelis Sasbout built in 1617 at number 150 on Amsterdam's Herengracht canal tells a cautionary tale about investing in property -- prices fluctuate wildly, but are ultimately flat.

From boom to bust, the plot Sasbout bought for 4,600 guilders (2,100 euros) and which today might sell for several million euros on the prestigious canal, will in the long run always revert to some kind of price equilibrium.

This can be seen in a unique index dating back 350 years, drawn up by Piet Eichholtz, a real estate professor at Maastricht University using records of house prices on the canal. Even for people with no intention of buying property, it has been cited by Yale economist Robert Shiller for its reflection of the inexorable logic that bubbles always burst.

Just now for Eichholtz, the arrow is pointing down. He says home-owners worldwide may need to brace for double-digit losses in once-booming markets, and even more in places with low birth rates like eastern Europe as well as Japan and South Korea.

"I'm really concerned about housing markets where the demographics look bad," he said. "Then prices can really fall a long way."

His Herengracht index came to prominence in 2005 when Shiller, whose book "Irrational Exuberance" forecast the 1990s stock market bubble would burst, picked up on it as an ill omen for the U.S. house market.

Shiller and fellow economist Karl Case did the pioneering research in the 1980s that produced the S&P/Case-Shiller index of the U.S. housing market which has shown big recent falls.

Eichholtz says what makes his index stand out from house price histories in other cities is what he calls "constant quality" -- the Herengracht has always been prime real estate. The index corrects for rising consumer prices but not wages.

Read More ....

Saudi Arabia deports 2,700 Indonesians

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - At least 2,700 Indonesian nationals have been deported from Saudi Arabia, and some 267 of them arrived here with Vice President Jusuf Kalla and his entourage on Friday.

Kalla and his wife Madame Mufidah arrived at Soekarno-Hatta international airport aboard a Garuda Boeing 747-400 jetliner after performing a minor hajj pilgrimage and witnessing the washing of the Kabah in the holy land.

Earlier, there had been no certainty about the time of the deportation but Kalla`s visit to Saudi Arabia helped expedite the expulsion of the Indonesian migrant workers and the minor hajj pilgrims who had overstayed in Saudi Arabia.

"I am happy to have returned to Indonesia on the same aircraft as the vice president. Otherwise. I would have come under extreme stress and desperation," said Nasitoh, a female worker hailing from Sukabumi, West Java.

Nasitoh ran away from her Saudi Arabian employer who had not paid her salary for more than one year.

During the flight from Riyadh to Jakarta, Kalla and Immigration official Muhammad Indra took a few minutes of their time to greet and patiently listen to the complaints of the deported Indonesians. .

According to Nasitoh, more than 600 Indonesian problematic migrant workers had been taken into custody by Saudi Arabian police and Immigration officials at an accommodation for foreigners.

She said most of them were under great stress because they had no money at all and wanted to return home soon but did not know when.

Meanwhile, Rina, another worker who returned with the vice president, said she ran away from her employer because she could not stand the repeated instances of sexual harassment she was subjected to by her employer.

"I was afraid of my employer because he frequently insulted and chased me," Rina said.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

F-16s at Scene of U.F.O. Sighting in Texas

By Mike Nizza, The New York Times

As the hype around a U.F.O. sighting in Texas garners an unusual amount of attention, a local Air Force reserve base stepped up on Wednesday with a statement that either completely debunks the story or fuels it further, depending on whom you ask and when you ask them.

In the days since the reported sighting — which one witness said was of an object in the sky “bigger than a Wal-Mart,” with the addition of many, many strobe lights — officials at the airbase initially said that none of their aircraft were flying on the night in question.

But they changed their story on Wednesday: now they say that 10 F-16 fighter jets were indeed airborne between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. local time that night, on a training mission. That includes the 5-minute period when unidentified flying objects were sighted.

So is it time to say, “So much for aliens in Texas dairy country”?

Not if you ask The Associated Press, which published that line in an early version of its report before switching to a much more noncomittal lead paragraph.

One of the people expressing doubts about the F-16 explanation was Kenneth Cherry of the Mutual UFO Network, who asserted, “This supports our story that there was U.F.O. activity in that area.” He was apparently referring to one witness’s claim that the fighter jets were there to chase the U.F.O.

There are several others.

Video images that seem to show strange patterns of lights in the sky have surfaced on local television, but none have been deemed convincing by authorities whether they believe in aliens or not. A $5,000 reward for video proof has been offered by a Texas businessman.

The Dallas Morning News tries to answer an interesting question raised by the military’s announcement: Could 10 F-16’s, doing whatever they were doing, have been mistaken for something else?

In the article, which also runs down some alternate theories from an aviation expert that don’t pan out, the paper puts that question to Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing, which operates out of the airbase. Major Lewis’s door-slamming response will doubtless strike U.F.O. buffs as both unsurprising and revealing in its reticence:

“What we do down there falls under operational procedures that cannot be released because of operations security for our mission,” he said.

He also seemed to slam the door on the long-cherished hope Mr. Cherry expressed to The A.P.: “What we want is the government to admit there are U.F.O.’s.”

29 ministers confirm participation in UNCAC in Bali

Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) - A total of 29 ministerial level officials have confirmed participation in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in the Indonesian tourist resort province of Bali on January 28 - February 1, 2008.

"Twenty nine ministerial level officials have until today confirmed participation in the conference. But we believe that more than that would attend it," Bali Police Chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Purwoko said here on Friday.

Paulus said he would field some 1,500 police personnel to maintain security during the conference. Besides the police, hundreds of military personnel will also be deployed to help maintain security.

He said that the United Nations would also send at least 10 security officers headed by Hassan Rahimmy of Germany.

Rahimmy has been in Bali for an inspection of a drill by security groups, along with Paulus on Friday evening.

The UNCAC meeting will be held at Bali`s International Convention Center, Westin Resorts, Nusa Dua.

Thousands of delegates from 140 countries, 284 non-governmental organizations, 21 national and international organizations are expected to attend the conference.

In the meantime, the conference scheduled to be opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, will be covered by about 1,300 local and foreign journalists.