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People

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Trading places

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Indonesian diplomats injured in Texas car crash

first_imgA car carrying three Indonesian diplomats crashed in San Antonio, Texas, United States, on Thursday at 3 p.m. Central Standard Time (4 a.m. on Friday in Jakarta), injuring the passengers, Indonesia’s mission in Washington, DC confirmed.The United States Diplomatic Security Services (US DSS) told the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC that the accident involved three vehicles, one of which was an official vehicle carrying the Indonesian consul general in Houston, Nana Yuliana, consular officer Dian Hapsari and the vehicle’s driver, identified only as Dede.The accident was caused by a swerving truck that hit two other cars around it. Nana and the two other staff members were immediately taken to Broke Army Hospital in San Antonio, according to a statement from the Indonesian Embassy.Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah confirmed the incident with The Jakarta Post.”Currently, Dr. Nana Yuliana and the staff are in intensive care at the hospital. According to information from Texas’ DSS, their condition is not life-threatening, but they must stay in the hospital’s care,” the embassy said.Officials from the Indonesian Consulate General in Houston, Texas have arrived at the San Antonio Military Medical Center to ensure the chief of mission’s condition was stable but that he was being examined further in the emergency room, alongside driver Dede.Meanwhile, consular officer Dian is still in the ICU to receive treatment for fractured ribs, the embassy said.Their families and staffers from the consulate general are making their way to the hospital, located some three hours away from Houston. (asp)Topics :last_img read more

Ministry rolls up sleeves to finish Rp 1.3t of Labuan Bajo projects by yearend

first_imgThe Public Works and Housing Ministry has stated that it will finish constructing several infrastructure projects in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), including roads and bridges, by end of the year.Out of the total Rp 1.31 trillion (US$92.2 million) budget, the ministry has allocated Rp 67.7 billion for building a water distribution system, including a coastal protection infrastructure on Rinca Island, and Rp 420 billion for building roads and bridges, including a port access road.Another Rp 646.3 billion has been allocated for infrastructure developments in the designated creative hub of Puncak Waringin, and Rp 174.5 billion will be used to build 315 houses in West Manggarai regency.“The first thing that must be improved is the infrastructure, [and then] the amenities and events, and finally, massive promotion,” public works minister Basuki Hadimuljono said on Sunday as quoted by tempo.co.”If the infrastructure is not [there], tourists will come only once and won’t return. That’s what we must manage properly,” Basuki added.Read also: Virus spread starts to hit Indonesian tourism as foreign arrivals coolTo reinforce infrastructure connectivity in Labuan Bajo, the ministry has signed a Rp 55.8 billion package comprising five projects, including building a 9.97-kilometer paved road with drainage.”This package is no joke, so everything must be readied with seriousness and later, we will discuss the details of the work [entailed] with all parties involved,” said the head of the Kupang National Road Implementation Center (BPJN), Muktar Napitupulu.Read also: Indonesia introduces super-priority tourism destinations at ASEAN forumThe ministry has also allocated Rp 6.39 trillion in infrastructure funds for four other destinations designated National Tourism Strategic Areas. The funding breaks down into Rp 1.35 trillion for Borobudur Temple in Central Java, Rp 2.31 trillion for Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Rp 903.4 billion for Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara and Rp 520 billion for Likupang in North Sulawesi.Labuan Bajo and the four other strategic areas are part of the 10 “New Bali” destinations that the government has targeted for development to increase foreign and domestic tourism. Tourism is expected to be a mainstay industry for generating foreign exchange, create jobs and drive the economy. (eyc)Topics :last_img read more

Jakartans give GBK sports complex wide berth in virus crisis

first_img“It is 30 minutes to one hour [per] session. We keep practicing to maintain our health, as it is in line with the government’s advice,” Wina said. “Until there is an announcement from the government declaring that the situation has returned to normal, we will not conduct any on-site sessions.”The Youth and Sports Ministry released a protocol last Tuesday on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the sporting world. The protocol focuses not only on athletes, but also the general public. It recommends that people who want to continue exercising in groups avoid direct physical contact.On Friday, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan declared a state of emergency in the capital, limiting public transportation and urging offices to suspend operations for 14 days as of Monday. He urged everyone – including corporations, social organizations and religious groups – to take drastic action to prevent the spread of the disease during the state of emergency, in what experts believe resembles a soft lockdown.GBK complex management (PPK GBK) will not prohibit anyone from conducting workouts on the premises during the outbreak but has promised to step up precautionary measures, including by spraying disinfectant solution.“We are aware that people need a place for exercising, an outdoor area where they can get sunlight during their practice. We now regularly spray disinfectant at GBK and its surroundings. We pay extra attention during weekends when crowds often flock to the area,” PPK GBK head Winarto said.“Aside from that, we also advise the GBK visitors to maintain social distance while they are exercising at the GBK, which is regularly broadcast via loudspeakers. The chairs at cafes inside the sports complex are also arranged in a safe distance [from one another].”PPK GBK is adding more handwashing stations in the complex.Established in 1960, the GBK has long been a place for walking, cycling, jogging or practicing yoga, particularly during weekends and on Friday nights. After the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and South Sumatra’s Palembang, more and more people flocked to the GBK sports complex to stay fit by conducting a variety of workouts. This is in line with one of the Asiad’s campaigns to promote sports among the public.Amid coronavirus fears, many joggers at the site now exercise in smaller groups or alone, according to 24-year-old Jakartan named Ragil Irmalia, who decided to hit the GBK last week, partly out of boredom.“Having stayed at home during this outbreak, I feel like my body is aching. I have tried various workouts in my bedroom, but the bedroom is too small. I prefer jogging to other exercises,” said Ragil, who believed that keeping her body fit was essential during the outbreak.She would usually go jogging twice a week at GBK but now she exercises extra caution and is considering to reduce her frequency and duration.“I was quite afraid actually, but I prefer jogging in an open space because I will be able to maintain a distance from people and avoid crowds better than if I go to a gym. I like running by myself and I am not part of any community of joggers. So I think running outdoors is much safer for me,” she said.“I read information that we are allowed to run as long as we remain alert. Before and after running, I immediately clean myself.”Topics : Once a popular place for sports enthusiasts, the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) sports complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, is seeing few visitors amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.Many people and some sport communities have stopped visiting the GBK complex for their regular exercises after authorities advised social distancing to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 500 people across the archipelago. Among them is a yoga community called the Yoga Dogether GBK, which suspended its regular sessions at the sports complex to prevent any contagion.“We conducted our last session together on March 15. At the time we made the decision, authorities had not even appealed to the public to stay at home and work from home,” Yoga Dogether GBK’s social media coordinator Wina Setyawatie said.“We actually even had a debate on whether we would retain or suspend our last practice on March 15, but we came up with a decision to continue our last session but with extra attention to personal hygiene and distance between participants,” she said.The group, which was established six years ago, now provides virtual yoga sessions everyday via livestream on its Instagram account @yogadogether_gbk.last_img read more

Bulgaria’s capital Sofia sealed over coronavirus

first_imgPeople travelling for work would need to provide their employer’s contacts in addition to the letter of proof required so far. They would also be allowed to leave and return only during certain hours in the morning and evening. The strict measures were taken after long lines of vehicles formed at checkpoints around the capital Wednesday and Thursday as many disregarded calls from the authorities and left for the  countryside ahead of a four-day Easter holiday in the largely Orthodox Christian country.Previously Bulgarians have been allowed to travel from the regional centers like Sofia only for work and for a limited number of other reasons such as health treatment or the need to take care of a sick relative.But Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said that many were faking their letters of proof.  Bulgaria imposed late Thursday a ban on all travel to and from the capital Sofia after a spike in coronavirus infections and the risk for a further spread over the Orthodox Easter.”From midnight until further notice we are banning the entry and departure from Sofia of all passenger vehicles,” Health Minister Kiril Ananiev announced at a late-night press conference.Exceptions will be made for transport trucks, ambulances, police cars, vehicles transporting people for treatment or medical staff, he added. Topics :center_img “Over 5,000 vehicles were turned back because they could not prove the necessity and urgency of their trip,” Marinov said late Thursday.He could not give an exact number but said that probably several times more cars had left the capital.Bulgaria has been one of the least affected countries in Europe so far, recording 800 novel coronavirus infections and 38 deaths, mostly in the capital Sofia.The highest daily number so far of 53 new infections was recorded on Thursday.The chief of the country’s coronavirus taskforce Ventsislav Mutafchiyski cautioned that mathematical modeling showed that authorities were probably identifying only two out of every seven infections. last_img read more

Facebook seals biggest deal since WhatsApp with India’s Ambani

first_imgTopics : Jio Platforms, a wholly owned unit of Reliance Industries, brings together Jio’s digital apps, ecosystems and the wireless platform offered by telecommunications carrier, Reliance Jio Infocomm, under one umbrella, according to the Mumbai-based company. The deal values Jio Platforms at a pre-money enterprise value of about $66 billion, the Indian company said.The partnership with Jio would allow Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to step up his expansion in a country that is rapidly embracing online payment and e-commerce as more people get smartphones. Jio Infocomm burst onto the Indian wireless market about four years ago, quickly moving into a position of dominance by offering free plans and undercutting rivals. Working with Facebook would be a boost to the ambitions of Ambani, until recently the richest man in Asia, who has been remaking his energy conglomerate as India’s first titan of e-commerce.Unusual BetIt is an unusual bet for Facebook, which typically buys into media and online properties. It underscores the potential it sees in India, which unlike China is an open market with an exploding smartphone population. Facebook may benefit from a well-connected ally in the country, where its Whatsapp is trying to launch a payments service but has run afoul of regulators over fake news and privacy concerns. Facebook will invest $5.7 billion in the digital assets controlled by India’s richest man, the US social-networking giant’s biggest deal since the 2014 purchase of WhatsApp as it seeks a broader foothold in its biggest global market.The US company will buy about 10 percent of Jio Platforms, becoming the largest minority shareholder, Reliance Industries said in a statement Wednesday. Separately, Facebook said the deal would bring together JioMart, an ecommerce venture of Mukesh Ambani and its WhatsApp platform to enable people to connect with businesses.Shares of Reliance Industries jumped as much as 12 percent on Wednesday in Mumbai, compared with the 2.3 percent gain for the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index.center_img “India is a special place for us,” Zuckerberg said in a video posted on Facebook. “We’re also committing to work together on some critical projects that we think are going to open up a lot of opportunities for commerce in India.”Zuckerberg has long aimed to roll out a digital currency as well as tools that let users make payments and buy and sell products over the social network’s messaging services in India.Alluring MarketWith its half-billion internet users, the South Asian country is an alluring market for the world’s largest technology companies, including Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google. In India, Facebook has about 250 million users, while WhatsApp has over 400 million.While India will be a testing ground for WhatsApp payment services — currently in pilot — Zuckerberg is also separately looking at the market for his crypto-currency project called Libra. Zuckerberg has said that payments and commerce are a priority, representing a major business opportunity for the company moving forward.For Ambani, 63, the deal with the technology giant comes as a boost at a time when his group is battling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and a slump in demand for crude oil. He has also been seeking to reassure investors that he will honor a pledge to reduce the group’s net debt to zero.Wallet Share“The collaboration with Facebook will give Jio a significant advantage on product and technological fronts to keep competitiors miles away and grab a larger wallet share of consumers across domains — telecom, payments, retail,” Himanshu Shah, an analyst at Dolat Capital Market wrote in a research note.The Indian company spent almost $50 billion — mostly borrowings — to build Jio Infocomm, the mobile carrier, leading to a net debt of more than $20 billion as of March 2019. In August, he told shareholders that he planned to sell a stake in Reliance Industries’ oil-and-chemicals division to Saudi Arabian Oil as part of a road map to cut net debt to zero by March 2021.With the Aramco negotiations dragging on for months, the global health crisis and the crash in oil prices have also raised doubts if that deal will be signed. As a result, shares of the Mumbai-based conglomerate plunged as much as 45 percent from their Dec. 19 record, before rebounding from their March 23 low.After building a wireless carrier and a retail business, Ambani has said he plans to rope in “leading global partners” before initial public offerings as he readies an e-commerce business, called JioMart, which would rival Amazon and Walmart in the South Asian country.In a statement delivered by video, Ambani said the tie-up with WhatsApp will help almost 30 million Indian mom-and-pop store owners to take digital payments from customers in their neighborhoods.“This means all of you can order and get faster delivery of day-to-day items from nearby local shops,” he said.Simultaneously, Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail Ltd. and WhatsApp have also tied up to help accelerate the retail unit’s e-commerce push on the JioMart platform, Reliance Industries said in the statement.The new businesses are likely to account for 50 percent of Reliance Industries’s earnings in a few years, versus a little more than 32% now, Ambani told shareholders in August.No Super AppReliance Industries and Facebook denied an Indian media report last week that they are considering creating an app similar to WeChat, the Chinese mobile messaging and payment service run by Tencent Holdings.“The intent is not to build another app, the intent is really for the two companies to collaborate,” said Ajit Mohan, vice president and managing director for India at Facebook.Now that the deal has been formally announced, the companies will start working with Indian regulators to seek approval, said Anshuman Thakur, Jio’s head of strategy.Facebook has not been consistently welcomed by Indian regulators in the past. It ran into opposition while trying to launch a payments feature inside WhatsApp in 2019, and has also faced pushback around content regulation on the app, which is encrypted. Facebook tried — and failed — to bring a service to India in 2015 called Free Basics, which would have made some internet services, including the social network, free to use on mobile devices. Critics said the app violated the concept of net neutrality by prioritizing some services over others.“Given the intent of this collaboration and the nature of this partnership, we expect people to be welcoming,” Thakur said.last_img read more

‘Punish with lashes’: Peruvian peasant militias dole out rough justice in coronavirus fight

first_imgAfter their creation in the 1970s the militias expanded throughout the country’s rural highland areas, where there is little state administration. In cities and urban areas, the police and judges enforce law and order.After a coronavirus quarantine was declared in March, the peasant brigades in Cajamarca closed their regional borders and imposed social isolation measures, which has kept cases in the area low with just over 1,000 diagnosed infections.In the southern area of Puno, with 1.2 million inhabitants, there have been 526 infections and 9 deaths. In that region the militias also took control after the start of the lockdown.”For a person to correct himself, according to our grandparents, it has to be three lashes, it has to be an odd number. If it’s two the person doesn’t correct himself, that is the belief,” said Vinter Apaza, president of one local group.While critics say these groups over-use violence, the brigades’ activities are recognized under Peruvian law after they played an important role in the decades-ago fight against leftist Maoist rebels known as the Shining Path. Topics : Peruvian peasant brigades, who decades ago battled leftist rebel groups, are now doling out rough justice in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Andean country, which has the region’s second highest number of cases after Brazil.The elected community militias, who in normal times solve odd cases of infidelity, robberies of chickens, or go after badly-behaved mayors, judges and other officials, say they now use lashes to punish those breaking quarantine.”According to the crime, you can punish with lashes,” Aladino Fernández, the president of a group in the northern highland region of Cajamarca, told Reuters by telephone. “A serious crime would be about 15 lashes.”last_img read more

South Africa virus cases surge past 100,000

first_imgSouth Africa on Monday said it had over 100,000 coronavirus cases, the highest in the continent, while the number of deaths inched towards 2,000. “As of today, the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa has breached the 100 000 mark at 101,590,” the health ministry said.Sixty-one deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 1,991. Topics : South Africa has struggled to set a strategy for dealing with the pandemic.Officials instituted a strict lockdown when the virus first hit in March but they backtracked as the rate of infections increased and opted to reopen most sectors of the economy.Despite an unprecedented $26 billion virus relief package and food parcels, many South Africans have struggled to get by.Under-fire President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted difficulties in balancing public health with saving the nation’s economy, which was already in tatters before the virus.”For a country such as ours, which was already facing an unemployment crisis and weak economic growth, difficult decisions and difficult days lie ahead,” he said in his weekly letter to the public on Monday.”We would urge that the difficult decisions to be taken are taken with care and with due regard to balancing the sustainability of companies and the livelihoods of workers.” The main opposition Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen has threatened legal action if the government refuses to completely end the nationwide lockdown.However, leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters Julius Malema said the president had “completely divorced himself from logic” by even partially reopening the economy.Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned that the gradual reopening does not mean the threat of COVID-19 has disappeared.”My fear is that by the time these pockets of society come to realize the severity of the virus, it will be far too late,” he wrote in an opinion piece in Sunday’s papers.The government is due to propose a supplementary budget on Wednesday in the face of the crisis. center_img Despite the grim death toll, data shows that the mortality rate in South Africa is at two percent, while 52.6 percent of virus patients have recovered.The worst-hit area is Western Cape, the coastal province accounting for 1,458 of the country’s deaths and more than half of its infections.According to the World Health Organization, more than half of the continents infections are in South Africa. Nigeria and Ghana are next on the list, having recorded over 20,000 and 14,000 cases respectively.last_img read more