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News Week Ending 24/08/08

Sumatra is having its fair share of woes lately. The train crash last week has certainly been a sad one. The incident occurred after the Limex Sriwijaya passenger train, traveling from Kertapati station in Palembang, South Sumatra, to Lampung’s Tanjung Karang station, moved onto the wrong tracks, crashing into a Babaranjang coal train waiting for the passenger train to pass. Let us hope that those who were severely injured heal quickly. Add to this the suspension bridge that collapsed in West Sumatra killing three people and injuring 11 others happening on Sunday afternoon in Pakandangan village, it will no doubt have the people of Sumatra wondering what’s going to happen next. Nothing I hope. Here’s an odd one. A foodstuff consortium from Middle-East countries planning to investment some Rp14 trillion through Bin Laden Group in South-East Sulawesi province according to a senior adviser. No, it’s not the dude that is No.1 on Bush’s hit-list.

Stung by high oil prices, Indonesia plans to tap more into renewable energies and change course from a “nation that splurges” to one that saves. The soaring prices of oil on the global level during these last six years has reminded the leaders of the importance of safeguarding energy security in our homeland. Now here is the interesting bit. They are raising the energy supply capacity through accelerated energy diversification, the utilisation of non-fuel oil alternative energy, including new and renewable energy such as micro-hydro, geothermal and biofuel. However, at what cost to the environment. The mind boggles.

And the wheel keeps going around and around. It appears the three Islamic militants on death row over the Bali bombings will not be executed before the holy fasting month of September according to Indonesia’s Attorney General. Attorney-General Hendarman Supandji said the formal paperwork had yet to reach his office, handing the three men a slight reprieve. Now, why am I not surprised. Still, it keeps getting better in the news with a new report accuses the Indonesian military of being behind the murder of two American schoolteachers and an Indonesian colleague in Papua in 2002. Seven pro-independence Papuans were jailed for the attack, but human rights groups have long accused the military of involvement. Who opened Pandora’s Box?

Being a hiker and regular camper in the outdoors, this latest news is really not new to me and I am surprised that it has taken so long for it to come out in Indonesia. Many Indonesian households boil water for drinking, when in fact boiled water can still contain harmful E. coli bacteria according to a health ministry conference heard Wednesday. A 2007 study found that 99.2 percent Indonesian households knew only of boiling as a means to purify water for drinking, but tests showed that even after raising it to 100 degrees Celsius, 47.5 percent of the liquid was still contaminated with deadly bacteria. Whilst on the subject of outdoors, a new population of rare leopard has been found living in thick forests on the Indonesian half of Borneo Island, a researcher said on Thursday. Camera traps in Sebangau National Park in Central Kalimantan province have snapped pictures of two adult male Bornean clouded leopards in an area once decimated by logging, British zoologist Susan Cheyne. One can only hope they keep the location a secret.

In an Islamic Indonesia, homosexuality is a crime. In other words, in a country where mainstream religions condemn homosexuality as ungodly, but now many have taken up a position at either extreme of the spectrum but few have actually attempted to bridge the gap. It should be bridged and each other’s choice of partners their own decision. One institution you won’t find any homosexuality is TNI, the armed forces. They have had a bad image of late but now, in an effort to shed its tarnished image as a violent and abusive institution, the Indonesian Military (TNI) on Friday began a three-day training program for senior officers on human rights and the Constitution. That’d be interesting.

And to finish off this week, the East Java administration is planning to build a jewellery business center near the Juanda airport in Surabaya.The administration has set aside 140 hectares of land for the facility, according to provincial industry and trade agency head Cipto Budiono.

And Folks, that’s the news that is the news from around the archipelago this week, or at least, that what is worth mentioning!.