Month: October 2020

Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, Feb. 13

first_imgOh guess who won the game? Yep, it was the Patriots. Six more years folks. Get over it.Jack OsterlitzGlenville Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionHalftime a metaphor for Dems’ bad plays Super Bowl halftime 2019 was a microcosm of Washington politics. Gladys Knight respectfully sang the national anthem as a true patriot. What followed her was a reflection of  “the haters” —  the Democrats in Congress, some whom acted like buffoons during the State of the Union address, and those who would rather see our country fail than prosper.That spectacle of smoke, flashing lights, insane dancing, crotch grabbing and high-pitched gibberish mimicked the present-day Democratic platform.While that performance was both shameful and unworthy of appearing on the same venue with the two best teams in the NFL, it was also on the wrong side of the beauty and magic of music, as portrayed by Ms. Knight.The performance reflected the Democrats’ platform of being on the wrong side of the beauty and magic of our Constitution and of being on the wrong side of pro-choice, that of tragic killing of living, human babies. Our godless governor says, “just make-em comfortable.” Democrats are on the wrong side immigration reform, shamefully denying our border patrol the necessary tools to do their appointed job. They’re on the wrong side of a collusion fantasy.   From the number of hate letters that appear on this page, it seems like the “I hate Trump“ folks took a cue from Paul Simon, author of  “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” as in 50 ways to hate our president. Shameful.center_img Cuomo to blame for gambling problemsThe recent column by Sara Foss about New York’s failure to provide assistance for problem gambling was spot on. She didn’t, however, identify the real culprit for the problem. That would be our governor, Andrew Cuomo. Ever since he took office, Cuomo has looked at gambling as the solution of all of New York’s fiscal problems. Who can forget the TV commercials with school children singing and dancing in a mini-mart urging people to buy more lottery tickets for education?My favorite example of how the state is dealing with problem gambling, however, is the commercials for NYRA instructing gamblers on how to become better horse players. These commercials are usually followed by a public service announcement on how to contact the gambler’s help line. This is like handing out Overeaters Anonymous cards at an all-you-can-eat buffet.New York does indeed have a gambling problem, and the dirty dealer’s name is Andrew Cuomo.John AngillettaScotiaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccineEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristslast_img read more

Retail: Setting up shop

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Catalyst Capital is on Laing shortlist

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South East: Small watershed

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Talk of the towns

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Palace denies 2014 Papua killings constitute gross  human rights violation

first_imgPresidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko has expressed his disagreement with the National Commission on Human Rights’ (Komnas HAM) recent declaration that the shootings in Paniai, Papua in December 2014 were a “gross human rights violation”.“We need to look at [the case] correctly. It must be seen properly because it was not a structured, systematic event. There were no direct orders from those in charge,” Moeldoko told journalists at the Presidential Staff Office in Central Jakarta on Monday.The incident, also referred to as the Bloody Paniai case, occurred when security forces opened fire at a crowd of demonstrators in the Karel Gobay Field in Madi district, Paniai regency, after the demonstrators threw stones at a military office. The protests were sparked by allegations that Army personnel had beaten local youths. Four high school students were killed instantly and one died later in hospital. They were Otianus Gobai, 18, Simon Degei, 18, Yulian Yeimo, 17, Abia Gobay, 17, and Alfius Youw, 17. Twenty-one other civilians were injured in the incident.Moeldoko, who was the Indonesian Military (TNI) commander at the time of the shooting, said that he did not think that the actions of the military personnel involved had been premeditated.Read also: ’We demand proof, not promises’: Papuans urge Jokowi to bring justice to Paniai tragedy“In my opinion, what the security forces did was a sudden reaction because they were attacked, which caught them by surprise. There was no policy to do such a thing. We need to look at it carefully and not come to inaccurate conclusions,” he said. Five years after the high-school students were shot, Komnas HAM issued its findings that the authorities had carried out “gross human rights violations” by killing and persecuting civilians.“This incident constitutes a crime against humanity,” the commission’s chief investigator Muhammad Choirul Anam said in a statement on Monday, as reported by AFP.The commission interviewed two dozen witnesses, analyzed documents and visited Paniai to determine whether the military was responsible for the deaths.Komnas HAM said it had forwarded its dossier on the incident to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) for possible prosecution. Topics :last_img read more

Disease control directorate general requests hospital pneumonia data over COVID-19 fears

first_imgThe Indonesian Health Ministry disease control and prevention directorate general has requested ministry-run hospitals provide it with data regarding cases of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases over concern that cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus remain undetected in the country.In a copy of the letter seen by The Jakarta Post, which is dated Feb. 26, director-general Anung Sugihantono requested “vertical” hospitals — those run by the Health Ministry — to send data about the number of acute respiratory infection (ISPA) and pneumonia cases between Dec. 1, 2019 and Feb. 25.He also requested data regarding the number of deaths caused by respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia.  The contents of the letter were confirmed by the directorate general’s secretary, Achmad Yurianto, who said that it was written and issued merely in the interests of better data management.“Usually hospitals send the report to the health service directorate general. We want to get the same report too so we can manage the data,” he said. “The one in the health service directorate general is mixed up with other illnesses, so it takes a long time to map them.”Yurianto claimed that there had been no significant increase of pneumonia deaths in the past three months compared to the same period last year.Earlier this month, Anung said the ministry was also actively looking into deaths from pneumonia, claiming there had been no significant increase in such deaths. However, he did not immediately provide corroborating data.Indonesia has yet to identify any confirmed COVID-19 cases, but experts and foreign diplomats have raised concerns that cases may have gone undetected because of deficiencies in the country’s testing abilities.Indonesia had tested 143 specimens as of Saturday, apart from the 188 World Dream cruise ship crew members who had started their two-week observation period on Sebaru Kecil Island, located near Jakarta, on Friday. The ministry is also planning to test the 69 Diamond Princess crew members previously quarantined in Japan, bringing the total number of tests close to 400.The number, however, pales in comparison to those of other countries such as neighboring Malaysia (1,092 tests as of Feb. 24), although Yurianto claimed that the ministry’s laboratory, the only laboratory in the country authorized to conduct the tests, could test up to 1,700 samples per day.Topics :last_img read more

Profiteers cash in on irrationality over COVID-19 face masks

first_imgThe shortage may also have been caused by Indonesia exporting masks in large quantities to China when the coronavirus started to spread there in January. Indonesia has since banned further exports. Singaporeans and Malaysians visiting Indonesia in January and February were seen buying up face masks at Jakarta’s convenient stores. Prices had been gradually increasing since but they jumped after news of the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases last week.As the most commonly sought masks, the N95, which can filter 95 percent of dust particles from air, are starting to disappear and people are turning to surgical masks, usually available at drug stores, for Rp 480,000 a box.There are also hoarders profiteering on the panic buying.The National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) reported 17 cases of 30 distributors hoarding more than 800 boxes of masks. They had been holding onto their supply, allegedly waiting for the announcement of the first confirmed cases to sell the masks at huge markups, North Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Budhi Herdi Susianto was quoted by as saying after the arrest of two suspects in his jurisdiction.Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD had called the mask hoarding by businesses “an economic crime”.The National Consumer Protection Agency (BPKN) chairman Ardiansyah Parman says police could charge profiteers with hoarding essential goods, which under the 2014 Trade Law is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of Rp 50 billion.Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto, who had made several public gaffes in his handling of the coronavirus, blamed the high prices of masks on the public. “Who asked you to buy?” he demanded, lashing out at a journalist who turned up wearing a mask to a media briefing about the first confirmed cases last week.The Health Ministry and the World Health Organization have repeatedly reminded the public that they only need to use the masks when they are sick.“Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing,” said WHO advises on its website. “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.”Zubairi Djoerban, head of the Indonesian Doctors Association’s coronavirus task force, said wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 would not be effective for healthy individuals.“If you are not used to wearing a mask, you may touch your face more often and that would increase the risk of contracting a disease,” he told the Post on Monday.Bhima Yudhistira, an economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance, said he suspected the traders orchestrated the scarcity of face masks.“This is disaster capitalism. Someone is looking to benefit from the situation,” Bhima told the Post on Friday.“Any hoarding that could potentially disturb and harm the community must be stopped because it causes scarcity and price hikes.”Naufal Abdurrahman Supangkat, a 21-year-old student living in South Jakarta, dispelled his fear over the disease and decided to wash his hands frequently to reduce his risk.“As long as I’m going to places that I know are safe, I see no need of wearing a mask outside,” he said, adding that he prefers to wash his hands regularly, in line with advice from WHO, or use hand sanitizer. (mfp)– Made Anthony Iswara contributed to this story.Topics : By Monday, one week after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced Indonesia had joined the rest of the world in being infected by the virus, the number of confirmed cases has jumped to 19. Dozens more are currently being observed by hospitals.The rush to buy face masks has inevitably led to shortages and skyrocketing prices.“I cannot keep them in stock as it was very hard to find masks in suppliers,” Dyah, the owner of a small drug store in West Jakarta, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.“When I managed to find them, they were very expensive as well,” she said, adding that a box of 50 masks now sells for about Rp 190,000 (US$13.50), up from its normal price of Rp 25,000. The government’s repeated warnings often go unheeded as irrationality prevails amidst the growing panic over news of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Indonesia in the past week.Supermarkets reported panic buying within hours of the government announcing Indonesia’s first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on March 2. One item in huge demand, which has become scarce, is face masks.This happened in spite of government’s assurances, backed by experts and doctors, that masks are unnecessary except for health workers and sick people.last_img read more

Olympics postponement gives Indonesian sports stakeholders breathing space

first_imgThe ministry allocates about Rp 99 billion (US$6 million) for Olympics preparation training and Rp 80 billion for Paralympics training.The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics came amid mounting pressure from athletes and officials around the world who felt the IOC and the Tokyo organizers should have changed the schedule from the July-August time frame much sooner, as it became clear to many that it would not work. Prior to the IOC’s announcement on Tuesday, Australia and Canada already called off deploying their squads to Tokyo. The United States’ Olympics and Paralympics Committee soon joined in, demanding the organizers postpone the Summer Games.Indonesia’s chief of the NOC, Raja Sapta “Okto” Oktohari, held off as long as he could from following in the footsteps of other countries that were withdrawing from the Tokyo Games, as he had previously said Indonesia would back any decision by the IOC regarding the schedule of the Games, putting trust in a committee he said he believes places the safety of athletes over everything else.As officials have repeatedly made clear, Indonesia plans to use the Tokyo Games as an opportunity to garner the support of other participating countries for its bid to host the 2032 Olympic Games.Separately, the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) also praised the IOC’s decision to postpone the Games, with one official saying it was a “wise decision” to prioritize the safety of the athletes, officials, spectators and other stakeholders.“Now we will wait for a decision from the Badminton World Federation [BWF] regarding the Race to Tokyo Olympics qualifiers as they are sure to make some changes there. When these adjustments have been made, we will tweak our program so we can remain on track to achieve our target of winning in the Olympics,” said PBSI secretary-general Achmad Budiharto.“This isn’t about profits or losses. We don’t have a choice because it affects us all,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.Should the BWF choose to use the current regulations for the Olympic qualifiers, Indonesia would be able to send two representatives for the men’s singles, men’s doubles and the mixed doubles categories, as well as one representative for the women’s singles and doubles.Meanwhile, NPC deputy secretary-general Rima Ferdianto said the postponement has also put the Paralympics squad at ease as they now could focus on keeping the coronavirus at bay by staying at home.“This decision means we are no longer haunted by the fear [of contracting COVID-19] during our training program. This also means that the preparation program for the Tokyo Paralympics is halted until the coronavirus outbreak in the country is contained,” Rima told the Post.“We have communicated with the Youth and Sports Ministry and they agreed to suspend training for the Paralympic athletes, so we will send them back home at the end of this month,” he said.“As for the training funds allocated to the Paralympics preparation, we will give back the remaining funds to assist the government in handling the coronavirus outbreak.”Topics : “The ministry feels that all parties, including Indonesia’s National Olympic Committee (NOC), the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) and all the heads of the sports federations, as well as the athletes who have prepared for the Games, can understand the decision, since the postponement […] not only affects Indonesia but all other countries as well,” it said.“We can imagine how difficult it is for the Japanese government.”The Games’ postponement does not mean, however, that athletes can suddenly take off for a long holiday, as the ministry has asked them to keep training to maintain their condition while ensuring physical distancing measures are taken to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.“The ministry, along with the NOC and NPC, will immediately review the available budget for our training programs, since the government is now focused on preventive measures for the coronavirus outbreak,” it said. The Indonesian sporting world appeared to breathe a synchronized sigh of relief after it was announced that this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games would be postponed for a year, allowing the government and affected sports associations to shift their focus toward keeping their athletes healthy and the global COVID-19 pandemic at bay.Months of uncertainty regarding the hosting of the Tokyo Games came to an end on Tuesday night after International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to postpone the games until 2021, allowing countries to prioritize the well-being of their athletes.The Youth and Sports Ministry announced it fully supports the move to postpone the 2020 Games, saying in a statement that it was the best decision the organizers could make during the global health crisis, which has put a lot of strain on efforts to ensure the safety of athletes and officials taking part in the quadrennial event.last_img read more

Discourse: Take preventive measures in COVID-19 fight: UN official

first_imgThe United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) has published its progress report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), concluding that the Asia-Pacific region is underperforming and on track to miss most if not all of the goals by 2030. The Jakarta Post’s Dian Septiari spoke with Armida S. Alisjahbana, the executive secretary of UNESCAP, about the report’s findings and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected progress. The following are excerpts from the interview: Question: Data from the SDG progress report shows that the Asia-Pacific is not on track to achieve any of the 17 goals, with researchers pointing to the importance of accelerated action. Where should we start? Answer: The report presents the overall picture for the region, where even though each country has differences in terms of SDG progress, overall it is more or less the same.I think the highest priority is on how to reverse the negative trends because some are in reverse and [in the] wrong direction, especially on climate change.And then related to that – the sustainable development and consumption production indicators – […] they are growing but not in a sustainable manner.The other [indicator] is about inequality – we have very slow progress there. Although [in] the past few years there has been some progress, disparity between rich and poor continues to grow. Indicators that relate to the environment, such as natural resources management and climate change, have also shown not so good signs.Meanwhile, there are several other goals that showed progress but were not fast enough, including poverty, hunger, health, gender issues, clean water and sanitation. All of these are basic services that are improving but still are not adequate enough.With this level of progress, we will not be able to meet the 2030 target.Do you think that progress on Goal 3 on health and well-being have been reflected in countries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on targets for universal health coverage, health financing and capacity for managing global health risks?Indeed, if the healthcare system in a country is already well established, they will be better prepared to face COVID-19. But it’s not a guarantee, especially when we see many European countries and American countries are also overwhelmed, even though they have good healthcare systems. Previously, China was also overwhelmed.Therefore, the lesson learned is that preventive measures must be strong.For example, some countries that feel they are overwhelmed have enacted lockdown procedures from the outset, long before the number of cases increased. [This is to] prevent community transmissions, which will be even harder to deal with.But COVID-19 cannot be seen as a benchmark because it is an extraordinary incident; it isn’t normal. Any country would be overstretched and overwhelmed.center_img Armida S. Alisjahbana, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) (Courtesy of/UN Web)What advice would you give to countries that face these challenges?This is a difficult one, but clearly we have had many lessons learned.We have learned to start from preventive measures, such as allocating a large amount of resources for research on our understanding [of the virus], on vaccines and treatments, and how once when this happens we can quickly increase capacity.For all of this, we need a basic healthcare system in place [that] can be activated immediately when needed. This is a big issue that requires global cooperation, not just one or two countries.Third, we must also have a system in place to mitigate socioeconomic impacts.Some countries have good assistance and social safety nets – this includes Indonesia, which has had direct cash assistance [provisions] under then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and which has now been expanded to other programs such as the Indonesia Smart Card.Small and medium enterprises and the service and tourism sectors would be the hardest hit and they need special support.Topics : The global economy has come to a screeching halt as countries scramble to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Can we expect further regression in the achievement of the SDGs if recession becomes inevitable?We hope it doesn’t last too long.Obviously it has a direct impact on poverty goals and other indicators. In the very short term, the most affected groups are the marginal or vulnerable groups who are slightly above the poverty line, whose daily lives depend on irregular income.Therefore, the first safety net must come from governments including Indonesia, who should provide direct assistance to mitigate impacts in the vulnerable segments of the population.last_img read more