28 January 2010

Indonesia, Armani, and a Garuda...

This is one of those times where you sit back in your chair, shake your head, and wonder out loud whether Indonesian politicians have anything better to do. I understand national pride, I understand the need to protect cultural heritage, and I understand insult.

However, I do not understand why you would want to make a mountain out of a molehill on this issue. Unless, of course you wanted to distract the people's attention from more pressing and important matters such as providing a clear explanation of the Bank Century Bailout so that even non-economic types can understand the need, as the government saw it, to bail out a bank of Bank Century's size during a global financial crisis.

Perhaps there is a need to distract people's attention from the shenanigans going on in the Antasari Azhar trial for pre-meditated murder of a love rival. Or maybe it is as simple as needing to distract people's attention away from the faltering president whose 100-day agenda is looking increasingly unlikely to transpire as opposed to just expiring in the sense of dying where it lay.

So, what is this mountain out of a molehill?

Some members of the House of Representatives (usually representing no one but themselves) decided that they were going to pursue Armani for producing a T-Shirt which allegedly desecrates the national symbol of Indonesia. The offending shirt, or at least the image off of it is in the photo above (photo courtesy of Multibrand), has caused quite a stir. The claims, including one from the Minister of Law and Human Rights, Patrialis Akbar, are that the Garuda Pancasila is patented by Indonesia. Now, if this were true, then the image on the offending Armani t-shirt would need to be more than just similar, wouldn't it?

In my mind it would have to be unmistakeably the Garuda Pancasila that everyone associates with being the national symbol of Indonesia. My guess is that most people throughout the world might have some trouble recognizing their own national symbols let alone those of other countries. Yet, in any event, this hardly seems to be a breach of patent (considering patents are for inventions and I am pretty sure that Indonesia did not invent the Garuda). It is also unlikely a breach of trademark.

If Armani was an Indonesian company, then the most likely law to pursue the company under would be the recently passed Law No. 24 of 2009 which deals with matters relating to national symbols, among other matters. Unfortunately, Law No. 24 of 2009 is not likely to have much extra-territorial application if the idea is to pursue Armani overseas. It is also unlikely to succeed in pursuing Armani stores that sell the goods in Indonesia either.

Brett over at Spruiked takes a peak at this issue in his usual forthright manner, and it is worth a read.

The real question is does the use of the Garuda in this way really offend the sensibilities of the majority of Indonesians? My guess is, No! The common sense of the vast majority of Indonesians need not be questioned. And, it is an unfortunate thing that this vast majority is not in the House of Representatives, because then Indonesians and those of us with an interest in Indonesian affairs would not have to read such drivel as a few members of the House of Representatives exploring the possibility of suing a fashion label for using an image of a mythical creature.

Maybe Indonesians are, on the whole, proud that an image they associate with is used in such a way. It is worth noting that Armani has supposedly apologized for any offense it may have caused.

There really must be more important issues of governance to attend to, right?

Mosques Facing the Wrong Way -- Indonesia

The Ministry of Religion has done a survey of Mosques in Indonesia and has determined that at least 20% of them are getting worshipers to face in the wrong direction. Muslims are required to face Mecca when they pray no matter where on the globe (or presumably in the galaxy) they are.

It seems that the majority of the Mosques that are in error are also located in areas that have frequently suffered earthquakes. Nevertheless, the Ministry has suggested that rather than wholesale renovations, or the tearing down of Mosques, that the responsible parties make the necessary corrections by informing worshipers that they need to face in a slightly different direction in order to be facing Mecca.

The Ministry survey team relied on the use of GPS devices to plot the exact location of Mecca relevant to each Mosque.

This "oops" moment follows close on the heels of a statement from Mutoha Arkanuddin, an Islamic scholar, who claimed that as many as 80% of Indonesian mosques and graves (for Muslims) were not facing in the 'right' direction.

I am not a Muslim, so I really do not know how big a deal this is in the big scheme of things. But, I would imagine that if you were the family member of a Muslim whose grave was facing in the wrong direction, the you are like to be a little concerned about what this means for your deceased loved one.

I wonder if there is going to be widespread exhuming and repositioning of loved ones with the use of GPS?

27 January 2010

UPH -- National Champions -- Jessup International Law Moot...

My congratulations go out to the Universitas Pelita Harapan Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition Team who recently won the National Round of the Jessup.

This is the culmination of a lot of hard work over a lit of years. I am proud of their achievement. It seems I should of hung around for another year in Indonesia, and then I could have claimed some responsibility for their convincing win. I would have been their coach and had another trip to Washington DC.

But, on a serious note. Congratulations!

Your success is well deserved. Hopefully, that success is not over and you can improve on last year's performance at the international rounds. The competition gets fiercer every year. So, preparation is always key, you never really can do too much preparation. Yet, do not forget to enjoy the moment, as these moments do not come along all that often.

So, to the team...congratulations and good luck!

You know where to find me if you need anything.

25 January 2010

Prisoner Transfer Agreements -- Australia and Indonesia...

The purpose of a Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) is to allow foreign nationals incarcerated overseas to serve out the remaining portion of their sentence in their home countries. A PTA between Australia and Indonesia is something that has been in the pipeline for a while. If you are an Australian or an Indonesian incarcerated in a foreign prison, then that pipeline has been very long to date, and would seem to be a little longer still before there is any light at the end of this pipeline.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marty Natalegawa, has admitted as much. Natalegawa is a talented young diplomat who in a rapidly rising career leading to his appointment as FM held key ambassadorial posts in the UK and at the UN. He is a very intelligent man who is economical in his choice of words and rarely misspeaks. So, when he speaks it is probably worth paying attention to.

So, when Natalegawa said to the Australian Associated Press (AAP) that the negotiations for a PTA had not stalled, but rather taking time as a consequence of Indonesia being new to the PTA game, then that is where the game is at. The PTA will impact on the lives of those prisoners who have not been sentenced to death in an Indonesian court. Unfortunately, for those Australians on death row there is zero chance of them being repatriated to Australia to serve out the remainder of their respective sentences and executed.

However, a PTA will potentially permit the likes of Schapelle Corby and Renae Lawrence to be returned to Australia to serve out the remainder of their custodial sentences in an Australian prison.

The devil is in the detail of a PTA. And, this is where negotiations have slowed to a trickle in the very long pipeline that Natalegawa has alluded to. For example, Indonesia has taken a very strong public international stance on drugs and drug smuggling. Therefore, there are quarters within the Indonesian community that are reluctant to include drug smugglers on the list of prisoners who can be returned under a PTA. There is a fear that Australia does not deal with drugs as harshly as they do in Indonesia. And, they are right, we do not execute people period. That fear is that Corby and Lawrence would be returned to Australia under a PTA and then released shortly after their return.

The details are likely to include specific conditions on how much time is to be served in Australia prior to a release. The difficulty here is that Indonesia works on a remission system where prisoners sentences are cut each year, sometimes twice a year, on religious / national holidays for good behaviour. In contrast, the Australian system works on a head sentence and a non-parole period. Ultimately, the same amount of time will conceivably be served under both situations but these are the sorts of details that need to be hammered out before an agreement can be reached.

Another critical issue still to be agreed is how much time prisoners will be required to serve before becoming eligible for a PTA return to their home country. There have been suggestions that Australians serving time in Indonesian jails will have to do almost 3/4 of their sentence before becoming eligible. However, this is unlikely, assuming those on the Australian side of the debate are knowledgeable and well-informed on the Indonesian system. A person convicted in Indonesia is likely to only do 3/4 of their original sentence, and in all likelihood less than 3/4, with remissions for good behaviour and the like.

The classic example here is none other than the son of the former president (dictator), Tommy Soeharto. Tommy was convicted of a little graft and then the subsequent premeditated murder for hire of a Supreme Court justice. The man ended up doing about 2/3 of his original sentence.

So, in that regard a PTA might not make a lot make a lot of sense for most Australians incarcerated in Indonesia. It is also unlikely that the 3/4 of the sentence demand will be met.

It would seem that a PTA will become a reality in the future, but how far into the future remains to be seen.

24 January 2010

SBY -- When the Going gets Tough, the Tough get Singing...

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has found time in his hectic schedule of governing the Republic of Indonesia to release his third album of songs. This is pretty funny on so many levels. The president has laid out a pretty ambitious agenda for his first 100 days of his second term, and seems to be failing pretty miserably on all fronts of that agenda. Further into the equation comes the shenanigans he is facing in the ongoing enquiry related to the Bank Century bailout.

But, amongst the seeming unravelling of his second term in office, the president felt it necessary to take a break and release his third album, "Ku Yakin Sampai ke Sana"(or 'I Believe I Can Get There'). The album is nine songs long and includes the involvement of some of Indonesia's more recognizable musical talent, such as Rio Febrian, Elfa Singers, and Tantowi Yahya, among others.

According to SBY, the songs are reflective of his mood. The songs are supposed to communicate this mood to the people, and to highlight the president's commitment to serving them and serving them well. Perhaps, rather than cooing and singing to the masses, the president can actually do some work and solve some of the problems afflicting his administration. Simply, if he did the work and then claimed the victories of that work then the masses of Indonesians who voted for him might enjoy a whole lot more prosperity and good fortune rather than the empty promises of a few songs.

Just a thought.

Renae "The Protector" Lawrence...

It was with some interest that I read an article by Tom Allard in today's (24/01) Sydney Morning Herald. It was with interest because there are two pieces of relevant information provided in the article.

In Allard's opinion from what he has witnessed during a brief visit is that Schapelle has deteriorated both physically and mentally. Nevertheless, the prospects for an imminent or early release have faded. And, that Renae Lawrence has taken on the role of 'protector'.

The second important piece of 'news' was that Renae Lawrence is pretty angry about the book written by Kathryn Bonella titled "Hotel Kerobokan" which Corby supporters are promoting as the god-given truth of what conditions are like inside. To the contrary, Lawrence claims the book is nothing more than a pack of lies. Of specific concern seems to be the claims that Lawrence frequently indulges in lesbian orgies in her queen-sized bed.

I wonder if Kathryn Bonella is going to come out and defend herself against the claims reported by Lawrence? Simply, if Bonella is not telling the truth about Lawrence as Lawrence claims, then this brings into question the content of the whole book.

The prison authorities have consistently denied that the conditions are as bad as Bonella makes out. In fact, the prison authorities recently held a media open day to highlight the very fact that conditions are not as bad as they are claimed to be. They have also denied that Schapelle is in a desperate place and situation that requires her immediate removal to a mental health facility or her immediate repatriation to Australia.

It will be interesting to see if there is any response to this Tom Allard article from either side of the debate.

22 January 2010

Mahatir, 9/11, and Jews...

There is one thing you can always count on from the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, controversy. Whether what he says is true or not seems to be irrelevant. But, on some issues the man is downright creative in the manner he constructs his conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, probably more disturbing is the suggestion that the targeting and killing of Jews has failed to solve the "Jewish problem" at least as he sees it. I wonder if I am reading too much into the implied 'if you are going to do it, then do it right' sentiment that he appears to be suggesting.

If the quotes attributed to him are correct then he paints a pretty disturbing picture of what goes on in his head. It would seem that the only difference between him and Ahmadinejad (who is supposedly of Jewish ancestry) is that Mahatir does not deny that a massacre (probably a little less severe than a using the terms genocide or holocaust to describe the 'Final Solution' envisaged by the Nazis) took place during the Second World War.

The conspiracy theory that if the US can put together a film like Avatar, then they are more than capable of perpetrating the 9/11 attacks and blaming them on Muslims as an excuse to wage war on Muslims. The idea that the 9/11 attacks were not all that they seem, and that the US may have been involved in setting up the attacks on themselves is not a new one. Let's face it, even Rosie O'Donnell is on the record saying that the 9/11 attacks were staged and that the World Trade Centers were brought down with strategically placed bombs.

However, it is his comments about Jews that are most disturbing. Mahatir seems to think that the world's problems are caused by Jews and some kind of Jewish lobby. This is not new either as a conspiracy theory. Nevertheless, what is a little disturbing is that he seems to think that confining the Jews to ghettos and then periodically massacring them is not necessarily a bad idea, but rather it has not been done properly as the Jews have always managed to rise up again and thrive once again.

Mahatir is quoted as saying, "even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world."

Then again, one needs to take whatever Mahatir says with a grain of salt, the man is renowned for his anti-US and anti-Semitic stances. I guess he is certainly not putting his name forward as a man of peace and reconciliation.

21 January 2010

Women's Tennis -- The Tennis or The Fashion? (Part II)

It would seem that Maria Sharapova is not the only female tennis star running up against the fashion police. Venus Williams wore a revealing little yellow number in her most recent match. And, in a distinct difference to Ms. Sharapova, the dress did not affect her performance as she ran out a comfortable winner.

It appears that the [mini] dress was a little more revealing than some people had hoped for, and probably not revealing enough for others, and sparked a bit of debate as to whether she was wearing any underwear, knickers, panties, or whatever the undergarments are called in sport.

The photos do not leave much to the imagination. Venus is clearly wearing underwear. She is most definitely not going commando.

I guess if you win your matches easily then the press needs to drum up interest in other parts of the performance.

20 January 2010

Obesity Discrimination?

Sooner or later airlines were undoubtedly going to require obese people to purchase two seats if they wanted to fly to their destination. Air France and KLM will charge obese passengers 75% of the cost of a second seat. Essentially, this is the cost of the seat without the taxes thrown in.

Air France and KLM are claiming that the obese passenger two-seat policy is for safety reasons. The key safety reason being that the obese person cannot be safely buckled into one seat. The policy is one that applies to fully booked flights only at this stage (for tickets booked after 1 February 2010 and for flights after 1 April 2010 - April Fool's Day joke?). According to Air France and KLM, where a flight is not fully booked, the obese passenger will be given a refund on the purchase price of their second seat.

The dimensions of aircraft seats range between 43cms and 44cms wide, and this seems to be the key safety measurement if the two-seat policy is going to work.

Nevertheless, the question is how is the policy going to be enforced? Do travel agents have to make a determination at the time a ticket is booked and paid for as to whether the prospective passenger is obese? Or will it be a requirement for all Air France and KLM flights that when booking a ticket a passenger must supply a doctors certificate stating their weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), and perhaps critical measurements when sitting (will they fit comfortably in a 43cm or 44 cm seat)? Or are the airlines going to not only weigh one's checked in baggage but require the passenger to jump on the scales as well?

The mind boggles.

My guess is that not all airline passengers are going to be concerned about this development. In fact, I am guessing that there will be plenty who fully endorse the move and wonder why it has not happened sooner.

Women's Tennis -- The Tennis or The Fashion?

It would seem that Maria Sharapova's choice of tennis attire gained as much, if not more, attention than the quality of her loss.

I wonder what is more important, what women wear when they play tennis or the quality of tennis that they play?

No one seems to be saying that Sharapova lost her first round match because of a wardrobe malfunction or because her outfit was inappropriate for tennis. The majority just seem to think her fashion sense is poor. Maybe it is time that the focus returns to more substantive matters such as whether the quality of her play justifies the huge endorsement contracts that she has. Or, even more simply, to issues like congratulating the solid play of the young woman who beat her, Maria Kirilenko.

But, a Maria Sharapova post lends itself to some pictures.


18 January 2010

Little Johnny -- Fascinate...

Keeping with the change of pace.

This is a joke that was sent to me recently. I would reckon that a "Little Johnny" search on Google will turn up thousands of jokes (I might go check it out after this post). Perhaps, even a version of this one.

Seeing that I am getting into teaching (received a scholarship for that very purpose) makes this particular joke even funnier.

A teacher asked her students to use the word "fascinate" in a sentence.

Matilda said, "My family went to the Taronga Zoo, and we saw all the animals. It was fascinating."

The teacher said, "That was good, Matilda, but I wanted you to use the word 'fascinate.'"

Sheila raised her hand and said, "My family went to the Western Plains Zoo and saw the animals. I was fascinated."

The teacher said, "Good Sheila, but I wanted you to use the word 'fascinate.'"

Little Johnny raised his hand.

The teacher hesitated because Johnny was notorious for his bad language. She finally decided there was no way he could damage the word "fascinate," so she called on him.

Johnny said loudly, "My sister has a sweater with 10 buttons."

The teacher said, "That was good, Johnny. However, you did not use the word 'fascinate' in your sentence."

Little Johnny continued, "But her boobs are so big, she can only fasten eight!"

And a bonus for those of you who enjoy Little Johnny's ability to make anything funny...

Little Johnny is walking down the hall when he hears a noise from his parents room. He knocks on the door and asks his mom what’s going on. “Playing cards,” she replies. “Who’s your partner?” asked little johnny. “Your father!”

Content with his answer, Little Johnny walks further down the hall towards his room when he hears the same noise coming from his sister’s room. Again, he knocks on the door and asked his sister what was she doing. “Playing cards.” “With who?” he asks. ”My boyfriend!” she says.

A short while later, Little Johnny’s father is walking down the hall and hears a noise coming from Little Johnny’s room. He knocks on the door and asks ”What are you doing?” “Playing cards!” replied Johnny. ”Who’s your partner?” asked his father…

Little Johnny answers promptly, “With a hand like this who needs a partner?”


A change of pace. I figured that a photo to make you smile would make an interesting change from what I have been posting of late; for you and for me.

This photo was sent to me as part of an Irish joke. It also included a sentence about it being a 'real' photograph. I am always a little weary of real photographs and the internet. The cold hard reality is that there are some real masters out there of the technology and software who can manufacture 'real' photos.

I cannot make the writing out on the street signs so the photo could really be anywhere. Maybe someone recognizes the buildings or the signs. Supposedly the footpath is the one outside the Royal Hospital in Belfast.

It is kind of funny and put a smile on my dial. People really cannot be that silly can they? Those bollards, at least one of them, must lift out and then can be replaced and then locked, right?

Oh well!

Just a Thought...

I regularly see the following quote "those who can, do; those who can't, teach." The quote I find to be an interesting juxtaposition when read together with this quote "a teacher affects eternity; no one can tell where his [or her] influence stops."

The first is attributed to George Bernard Shaw and the second to Henry Adams. Perhaps this is interesting because Shaw was one of the founders of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The quotes resonate with me as I am about to embark on a Masters degree that will take me away from what I have been doing and place me fair and square within the ranks of educators. I have always believed that teachers are the most influential people in our lives after our parents. So, I agree with the sentiments expressed by Adams (although I added the [or her] to the original quote).

However, I am also tempted to tinker with Shaw's quote so that it reads, those that can teach, do; and those that can't, do something else. My version probably will never be all that well-received or widely used, but I believe that you really have to want to teach in order to be a teacher, because if you are not committed to the cause then you will never do it well.

Such is life.

"Pants on the Ground" -- General Larry Platt

I watched American Idol this morning. It is the audition rounds again. This means you get to seem some really good potential and some real shockers. It also means that you get a chance to see the weird and sometimes inspiring.

One of my favourites was General Larry Platt and a song he wrote himself "Pants on the Ground". There is not a lot going on in the song. However, it was interesting to see that Simon Cowell suggested that he had a funny feeling that the song could be a hit. Cowell might be right. The song has already been covered by Jimmy Fallon doing a Neil Young inspired version of it (awesome) and Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings has done a version of it post-game in the Vikings locker room.

Here are all three versions for your easy viewing pleasure.

17 January 2010

"Negro", "Black", or "African-American"?

This blog of mine generally focuses on issues relating to Australia and Indonesia. However, the whole point was that the blog was to be a place that I could write about anything that piqued my interest or that I wanted, or felt the need, to pass comment on.

Politically correctness and racism are issues that pique my interest. They do so because I sometimes feel that the drive towards politically correctness is a hindrance to full, frank, and open debate about issues. In this case, the issue is race. Race is an issue that is highly emotionally charged, and is one where there are quite divergent opinions amongst those who are subject to the terms that politically correctness generates for us.

This brings me to the substance of this post. I read an interesting article today over at Slate today. The article was discussing when the word "Negro" became taboo. The taboo came soon after the book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation was published in 1968 (cover of the 1992 version is above).

The purpose of the Slate article seemed to be exploring the drive to political correctness in making the term "Black" taboo in preference to the use of the term African-American. I would encourage those with an interest in this sort of subject matter to read the article.

The parts of the story that I found most interesting related to how organizations deal with the changing dynamics, and the drive, to replace certain words with new words while simultaneously stigmatizing the previous term. Also interesting to me was that the move towards the term "African-American" does not have universal support as a majority of people are seemingly non-plused one way or the other with respect to African-American or Black.

With regards to organizations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has not changed its name but uses the word 'colored' in very limited contexts. The United Negro College Fund tends to go by the initials, UNCF, rather than the full name. Seemingly, this is an exercise in re-branding a familiar and ongoing concern that helps a lot of young people achieve their goals. Indeed, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Bringing this back home for me got me to thinking about how we refer to Aboriginal Australians. There was a time where the were referred to as Blacks. There was also a time where the preferred term was Aboriginal, and seemingly of late there has been a move towards the term "Indigenous Australians". I am sure organizations in the Australian context would encounter similar considerations in relation to names. For example, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) before it was dissolved.

I do not know about anyone else, but I find this sort of 'stuff' interesting.

16 January 2010

Child Pornography...

Are there any lines to be drawn in the sand as to what constitutes child pornography? It would seem that for some the definition is clear and for others the definition is less than clear. In fact, the definition can be interpreted in any old fashion that may be required for the purpose of an arrest and a subsequent prosecution.

For example, is the possession of photographs of a child in a swimming costume playing in a pool or riding in that same swimming costume in the back of a truck or sitting on a relative's lap a case of being in possession of child pornography? Would it make any difference if that child was a relative of the person in possession of that photograph. Perhaps even more personal, if I am in possession of a photograph of my son swimming naked in the pool, am I in possession of child pornography? Would it make any difference if I then placed that photograph on my blog or used it as a screen saver on my computer?

These are important questions for many reasons. Personally, I find child pornography abhorrent and do not condone its production or distribution. However, I cannot reconcile that me having a photograph of my own son swimming naked in my pool is child pornography. I also cannot reconcile that placing that photograph on my blog would be tantamount to disseminating or distributing child pornography online. I appreciate that there are evil people out there who might get some degree of cheap sexual pleasure from the photograph, but should that mean my posting of the photograph or even having it in the first place be considered as being in possession of child porn?

The idea that any image of a naked child is child pornography means that there is no artistic merit exception for artists that produce images of naked children. I am not an artist and therefore cannot give an adequate answer as to the artistic need for such images, but I believe that artists can make a case for the need for such an exception. The furore that erupted over images produced by Bill Henson last year is an example of do we need to draw lines in the sand, and if we do, then where do we draw them?

An interesting case has arisen in the US military where a National Guard soldier has been found in possession of images of a child, his four-year-old relative in a swimming costume. The images were sent to him by his mother as an attempt to relieve some of his homesickness associated with being posted on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The US Army brass has decided to purse an investigation of the images with a view to a court martial. The penalty under US Army law is potentially a ten-year jail term. The rest of the soldier's unit has already returned back to the US after their tour of duty.

If this case is as simple as this soldier having a couple of images of a four-year-old relative in a swimming costume, then the US Army is wasting its time. Simply, it is making mountains out of molehills. By all accounts the images found by the US Army do not include any naked images. The closest you have to a porn image is a partially exposed buttocks (apparently still in a swimming costume).

The definition of what constitutes child pornography is going to have to be very tight. And, there will need to be consideration given to intent. There simply must be a mens rea component to the charge. If there is not a mens rea component then any image of a child may give rise to a possible child pornography charge. Seriously, is a shot of a young girl in a pose for a beauty pageant to be considered sexual or seductive?

The mind boggles as to where this can lead.

Although this post might lend itself to a photograph or two, I am not posting any...a silent protest (sort of).

15 January 2010

Have You Seen This Man -- Osama bin Laden...

It has been a few years since Osama bin Laden, or Usama bin Laden depending on your preference, has made a public appearance anywhere or a photo of him has been released showing him alive and well. Nevertheless, with technology at the level that it is, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) convinced that the world's most-wanted man is alive and out there somewhere, they have released the above digitally age-enhanced images of Osama bin Laden and another 17 most-wanted fugitives. The digitally and age-enhanced images are available via the US State Department and the Rewards for Justice program. They are also available on the FBI site in their most-wanted terrorists section.

The fact that there is an image of Osama bin Laden with a head of hair and his beard shaved off and in western style clothes seems to suggest that the FBI has no idea where the fella is at, and concede that he might be living somewhere where a suit and tie would help him blend into the crowd.

So, if you see this man, or any of the others, you should probably contact your nearest law enforcement office and the FBI. You should probably also expect that they do not, and will not, want to go quietly so a citizen's arrest is probably not a good idea. All are considered to be armed and dangerous.

Raped by a Genie -- Indonesia

This is one of those stories where you find yourself sitting back in your chair as you read it and shaking your head incredulous to how creative some people are when they plan to do something wrong or have been caught out having done something wrong. I guess I will never be a novelist because it had never occurred to me that one could blame their raping of a 15-year-old student under their care on a genie that had not been fed in a while.

The story goes that a principle at an Islamic Boarding School in Tangerang, Banten, West of Jakarta, raped and impregnated a 15-year-old girl under his care. The young girl had not revealed the rape to anyone, but it became increasingly difficult for her to conceal her pregnancy.

The girl, who has been identified by the initials KHF, alleges she was raped by the principal. However, the principal has supposedly said that it was not him but rather the genie that did it. The principal, who has been identified with the initials HDN, allegedly told the girl that if she had sex with him or the genie, then the genie would give her special powers. The girl claims she rejected the genie principal's advances and in her embarrassment decided against reporting the incident.

It would seem that the genie was not to be denied. A few days later the girl again found herself alone with the genie principal. However, this time she claims that she became incapacitated in the presence of the genie principal and when she later regained consciousness she was sore in places where she should not have been sore.

This is where the story gets even a little more bizarre. The girl's parents confronted the principal, as you would if your daughter had told you she had been raped by her principal. However, the principal denied that he raped the girl, but apparently confessed to the parents that it was his pet genie that did it. And, that the genie probably did it because he had not been fed in a few months. But what is really weird is that the principal agreed to a DNA test and is seemingly pretty confident that the DNA results will prove that he did not do it and that the genie did.

Nah, if my understanding is correct then the genie sort of appears and takes over the body of the host and then has his way with the girl. If this is the case then I am thinking that perhaps the DNA of the host rather than the genie is likely to turn up in any subsequent DNA test. Then again, I am no scientist, so I do not know for sure how these things work.

I am wondering whether this is a confession that there have been other girls who have fallen victim to the hungry genie in times previous to this account.

Nevertheless, it seems that the principal has realized that the allegation of rape of a minor is a little more serious than he envisaged at first and he is now backing away from the genie claim. The principal is now suggesting that the young girl is pregnant to her boyfriend and in her embarrassment and shame on that front she is seeking to blame the principal for her troubles.

The Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (Perhimpunan Bantuan Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia Indonesia / PBHI) has taken up the case, and they have reported the alleged crime to the Indonesian police who are now reportedly investigating the claims. Perhaps they need to get a psych report done on the alleged perpetrator who seemingly thinks he is harbouring a genie or two.

Another interesting twist in this story is that the principal's family are now claiming that it is impossible for him to impregnate the young girl because he is a diabetic with extremely high blood sugar levels. And, the family claims, that it is a medical fact that diabetics cannot get erections. The family does not seem to be entertaining the idea that the genie did it either. But there have been no reports as to whether the genie is diabetic as well.

Apparently the DNA tests have been done and when the results come back from the lab, then it is expected that the families of the girl and the principal will have a clearer picture of what transpired or did not transpire. As will the police and just about everyone else following this story.

Whatever Happened to Playboy Indonesia?

Early this evening I was checking out my blog statistics. I sometimes do this to see who is looking for what, what pages people are viewing, what people are downloading off of my blog, and what sorts of search terms they are using to find certain posts. There is lots of handy software for this sort of thing.

Anyways, this little stroll into blog statistics alerted me to the fact that lots of people are using search terms to find images of Indonesian and Japanese women that have been in the news. However, a recent trend has seen people searching for "Playboy Indonesia". So, with that in mind, I thought perhaps a Playboy related post was in order (and some happy snappies that are freely available on the internet).

Indonesian Playboy Magazine had a short run. I can only recall three issues being published. Although, I have to admit I was not a regular purchaser of the magazine. In fact, my guesstimates on the number of issues is based on the number of different covers that were thrust up against the window of the taxi I was in when I was stopped at traffic lights throughout the city. To be honest, if one is looking for pornography in the printed form in Indonesia then my guess is that the toll gates over Kebon Jeruk way might be a good starting point. I recall a couple of taxi rides back from the Universitas Pelita Harapan campus, which takes you past these particular toll gates, and some interesting picture material thrust up against the window of the taxi and accompanied with, "Hey Mister, picture good, cheap, only 20 thousand!"

Oh well, enough of the reminiscing and back to the post. Playboy, at least the Indonesian version, seems to have faded into extinction. It might make a comeback one day. Who knows?

Nevertheless, the furore that it generated was interesting because it is the only Playboy magazine that I can recall that really was not a skin magazine. The pictures, and some are attached here, were really tame. Tame in the PG sense of tame. It is also the only version of Playboy magazine that when you said, "the only reason I bought a copy was to read the articles" was in fact the truth. The articles were generally OK. The pictorials left way too much to the imagination. There simply was no titillation whatsoever.

It was funny to watch people come out and claim that the magazine was all about pornography, and that even if the pictures were not pornographic that it was still porn anyway by reason of the name of the magazine. In any event, a couple of the models were pursued for a while and the editor was tried for being a purveyor of porn and other indecent material. As I recall, nothing much came of the pursuit of the models and the editor was eventually acquitted. In the trial of the editor the judges took time out in their decision to provide a bit of a rebuke of the prosecution case and how it was poorly thought out and constructed.

The anti-porn law should put paid to an eventual comeback, but one never knows. It would be an interesting test case for the law.

For those of you searching for "Indonesian Playboy" I am almost certain that this post will not satisfy your curiosity...keep searching! However, here are some happy snappies of Andhara Early and Joanne Alexandra from Playboy and other places. Enjoy!

Special Privileges in Indonesian Prisons...

Sometimes it pays to keep things quiet, particularly if you are enjoying the benefits of paying a little extra for better prison living conditions and other special privileges that are not being enjoyed by the masses.

Artalyta Suryani and a couple of other inmates of the Pondok Bambu Women's Prison in East Jakarta were discovered to be enjoying special privileges and living conditions which they were supposedly self-funding. However, that game came to a rather abrupt end when the Minister of Law and Human Rights, Patrialis Akbar, determined through his Department to transfer Suryani, and two others, Aling and Darmawati, to the women's prison at Tangerang where they will share a 2.5m x 3m cell with another woman.

The days of flat screen televisions, karaoke machines, refrigerators, spa treatments, and the like are over, at least for the foreseeable future for these women.

The moral of this story might simply be that sometimes it is better not to talk about the advantages one enjoys during their incarceration for the fear of losing those privileges permanently and much more quickly than they took to acquire in the first place.

The Corby family and her supporters are quick to note that they have partaken of the "system" in order to facilitate better conditions for Schapelle during her incarceration in Kerobokan prison in Bali. The photos and videos of Schapelle's living quarters show a spartan but relatively clean existence. Nevertheless, maybe it might not be in Schapelle's best interests to wage a very public media campaign regarding the ability to purchase better conditions and favours.

Perhaps Suryani and her fellow formerly 'lucky' prisoners wish that they had kept a lid on the luxuries that they were enjoying.

Just a thought.

14 January 2010


This is something I have seen around the traps a number of times. However, the most recent sighting of it has been over at my good friend the Treespotter's work-related blog, (you can find it here) and his blog is well worth a visit or ten.

Censorship is something that rears its ugly head every now and then in just about all countries.

Indonesia has had a recent bout with censorship relating to the screening of the film Balibo. This bout of censorship failed miserably as some organizations defied the ban. The ban has really been a bit of a non-event because pirated copies of the film are readily available in just about every roadside stall that sells disks.

Australia is also under the censorship gun as the government seeks to legislate internet filters that are supposedly designed to prevent certain types of nasty information and sites from every seeing the light of day in the land downunder. Unfortunately, those in the know have shown how silly this piece of legislation is as the filters are easily bypassed by using proxy servers that 10-year-olds can master. A bit fraudulent in that sense seeing the claim of the government is that this legislation and filters are needed to protect our children from the seedy side of the internet.

Oh well. Enjoy the picture!

Indonesian Prison Cells for the Rich and Famous...

Well, it seems that money is not only an asset on the outside, but it is also an asset on the inside as well. In this case, being on the inside refers to how much luxury one can afford to pimp out their cell with.

The above picture is of a cell occupied by Artalyta Suryani. Now, Suryani is enjoying her five years behind bars for bribing public prosecutors with regular spa treatments, plasma televisions, a karaoke room, a private bedroom, and a room to receive guests (the photo). Of course, all these special privileges are denied from ever being present or occurring. Nevertheless, perception is a powerful tool. Most Indonesians believe that the rich and famous can buy their way to special treatment in prisons,and this little expose by a government appointed fact finding team (a team tasked with rooting out and eradicating the judicial mafia) seems to confirm it.

On the luxury jail front. There were always rumours that Tommy Soeharto led a comfortable existence on Nusakambangan when he was incarcerated there. There were not only rumours about luxury living conditions, but also special "passes" for some cruising to Singapore for weekends away and the like. It is worth pointing out that I have not read anything that confirms those Tommy related rumours. However, the luxury living conditions seem to be standard fare for the well-to-do prisoners.

It would seem that perhaps Schapelle Corby is not living in the laps of luxury at Kerobokan that some other well-heeled prisoners enjoy in other jails throughout the archipelago.

Oh well.

13 January 2010

Schapelle Corby's Prison Cell...

Here is a picture that allegedly shows Schapelle Corby's cell at Kerobokan Prison. This is the cell that Schapelle Corby shares with six others. This picture, and the accompanying video, has been made available as part of a media open day.

This picture certainly does not seem to fit the hell hole image of life inside Kerobokan as portrayed in the recent book, Hotel Kerobokan, by Kathryn Bonella (an interesting discussion of the book and its merits can be found here). Then again, maybe this is not the cell that Schapelle inhabits. I have never been there, Kerobokan that is.

The video can be found on the Herald Sun website (here).

On this particular post I am going to restrict my views to the comments section. Simply, if anyone comments, then I will respond with what I think. Otherwise, you are free to draw your own conclusions to the picture and the video.

With or Without You...

This is one of my favourite U2 songs of all time.

I am sure there are plenty of arguments as to what the lyrics mean. Yet, my take is that songs are intensely personal affairs that we find individual meaning in for ourselves. I am sure that the lyrics have a particular, and special, meaning for Bono. However, it does not really matter what that meaning is in the grand scheme of how each of us personalize the experience of the music and the lyrics.

This post is not about indulging my readers of the intensely personal meaning that the song has for me. To the contrary, the post is more of an opportunity to post a good version of the song along with a interesting video clip of it being performed live.


10 January 2010

Child Pornography and Artistic Merit...

It would seem that NSW is about to introduce legislation that removes artistic merit as a defense for images of children that are determined to be pornographic. The NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, has said that a working group tasked with making recommendations on this matter has recommended that a defense of artistic merit must lapse once an image has been deemed to be pornographic.

Simply, whether the 'artist' in question produced the image as art or not becomes irrelevant with respect to the charge of producing, possessing, or distributing child porn material.

The question then becomes what about images that are not produced for artistic purposes, but rather are nothing more than personal family photos. For example, what if the Attorney-General had a happy snappy of one of his children or his grand children taking a bath. Is this producing or possessing child porn? What if in his apparent pride he shows the photograph to a colleague or places it on his computer as a screen saver and it is seen by members of his staff? Is this distributing child porn?

I am totally against child pornography. I find it objectionable in the extreme, abhorrent. I am certain that my views on this topic and subject have hardened since the birth of Will. The thought of him being exploited for child pornography is repugnant in the extreme. However, I really do not see what harm there is in either his mother, his grandparents, or his aunts and uncles having a picture of the little fella swimming but naked in the pool. I cannot fathom how I could be investigated, arrested, and prosecuted for producing, possessing, or distributing child pornography.

On the artistic front. I am not an artist and cannot make the arguments for artistic expression that an artist might need in producing images of children that may or may not push the boundaries of art and child porn. However, I do accept that artists have a right to that freedom of expression. An artist who takes a semi-naked picture of a child with the full consent of the parents of that child for the purposes of creating art that may later be exhibited should not lose the right to claim artistic merit as a defense because someone, probably a bureaucrat, has deemed the image to be child porn. The current recommendation would see a panel created to determine whether or not the image was a valid image of a child.

I am wondering whether in the common law there is a requirement for the commission of a crime to include not only the actus reus or the act, but also a requirement for mens rea, the intent. Before a crime can be proven is there not a need to determine the intent of the alleged offender to commit the crime charged?

It would seem to me that the removal of artistic merit as a defense removes a right to create art. Clearly, Bill Henson's work is not everyone's cuppa tea, but all the same neither is what Picasso or Rembrandt produced either.

Interestingly, many are arguing that this working group was set up in response to the furore surrounding Bill Henson and the closing down of an exhibition of his work. If this were true, then it seems a little silly considering his work was assessed by the relevant classification authorities in this area and determined to not breach any standards with respect to images involving children (including the photograph above).

There is certainly a need to tighten child pornography laws and to eliminate this scourge from the community. However, it seems that artists who produce images of children are the softest target available for the government on this front. The idea of removing the artistic merit defense for artists is evidence of the government's inability to deal appropriately and comprehensively with the scourge of child pornography.

There will undoubtedly be more to follow once the legislation is introduced to the NSW parliament.

Pornography -- By The Numbers...

The Numbers Behind Pornography
Source: Online Education

This is the first of a couple of porn related posts. The second one will be about the NSW government's plan to introduce legislation that would in essence remove artistic merit as being an acceptable defense to the production of a pornographic image. The amended legislation is designed to ensure that images of child pornography never see the light of day under the guise of art. The amended legislation is supposedly in response to the Bill Henson shenanigans of last year.

However, this post can be found at Online Education (which bills itself as the place where you can learn "the stuff they don't teach you in college..."). It makes for interesting reading. For example, the disparity in income potential between male and female porn stars. Even more interesting is that Asia (in the guise of China, South Korea, and Japan) account for 3/4 of all porn revenue. And, that this revenue totals some USD 97 billion annually.

Considering that only 43% of all internet users search for porn and view it, then the market potential remains huge in this industry sector.

Oh well, gotta go...

Tiger Woods and Gay Sex...

It has been a spectacular fall from grace for the world's first billion dollar sportsperson. However, no matter how spectacular the fall, there is always an opportunity for redemption. The game now is whether Tiger Woods can trek that path to redemption.

In many respects the only way that things can go from here are up. There are probably some who might wonder how a professional golfer with a squeaky clean image can recover from one affair let alone fourteen or so of them over a relatively short period of time. Perhaps, therein lies the answer. Tiger Woods is the golfer of his generation, and perhaps overtime the greatest golfer of all time, and herein lies the opportunity for redemption. His name and reputation may be forever marked by this myriad of indiscretions, but the situation is not beyond repair in most facets of his existence.

That said, I would reckon the situation might be beyond repair on the marriage front, but being a divorced father is probably not the end of his world. I don't envy the man's task in having to tell or explain to his children how and why things went the way they did. Nevertheless, we are all human and we all make mistakes, the key is getting back up off the ground when we get knocked down, either by our own doing or by someone else's.

Tiger Woods will be back.

Considering the title of the post, I guess there should be a few words about the allegation that Tiger Woods has either indulged in, or had fantasies about, gay sex.

Now, one of the women Tiger is alleged to have been doing the deed with has decided to write a tell all book. The major selling point of the book seems to be not only Tiger's appetite for sex with women, but also with men. According to Loredana Jolie, she has seen Tiger having sex with men. Not sure that there are any photos floating around of these gay sex encounters, but if there were I am guessing that they would be selling for a pretty good price.

The idea is not outside the realm of possibility. It seems that Tiger had a bit of a fetish for threesomes and had a fantasy of being part of one with one of his other mistresses, Rachel Uchitel, and Derek Jeter or David Boreanaz. Derek Jeter is a New York Yankees legend and David Boreanaz is the star of the show Bones.

In any event, the timing of the recent Vanity Fair cover was particularly opportune, don't you think?

08 January 2010

Hate Crime in Australia...

The murder of a 21-year-old Indian student, Nitin Garg, in a West Footscray park is a tragedy. The young man studying in Australia was on his way to work at a local Hungry Jacks when he was stabbed and killed. However, the murder is certainly testing the bilateral relationship between Australia and India, particularly so with the publication of the above cartoon.

The cartoon, published in Delhi's Mail Today, depicts an Australian police office in Ku Klux Klan garb. The suggestion being that Australian police are racist and not doing enough to solve the murder of Garg. The further suggestion is that Australia is a overtly racist country that is not only unwelcoming of foreigners but a country with a long history of racism towards the indigenous population (Australian Aborigines).

It is not like Australia is the only country in the world that has issues to deal with on the racism front or the treatment of its indigenous population. It is not all that difficult to find Australians who acknowledge as much. However, the majority of Australians are good people, welcoming, caring, understanding, and humble. There are those, though, that exhibit none of these redeeming features. The reality though is that this is true of all countries. India, for example, is not a place that is free from the scourge of racism or violence. The simple truth being that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

The murder of any person I find abhorrent. And, it is no different in this case.

However, to state that the murder of this young man was racially motivated is premature to say the least. It is premature because at this point in time there is not a suspect, at least not that is being publicly discussed. This murder may be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet, let the police do their job, and if it turns out that the crime is racially motivated, then that is something we as a community must address and deal with no matter what colour, religion, gender, or political persuasion we might have and irrespective of whether we be citizens, residents, tourists, or international students.

The cartoon is offensive. However, I personally do not feel that it goes beyond the line in the sand with respect to what constitutes free speech. The cartoonist is entitled to his opinion, which he has seemingly expressed through this cartoon. Nevertheless, offensive or not, the cold hard reality is that police still have a job to do, and that is everything that they can to find the young man's killer(s).

Perhaps rather than cartoons designed to inflame the situation further we should come together as a community and seek ways to address the concerns of racism and violence in our communities in constructive ways that will see us all creating a better community for our children and our children's children.

Innocent Explanations...

I am sure that this is not what it seems. There is undoubtedly an innocent explanation for a gestation period that is seemingly at least 12 months in duration.

Either that or daddy will undoubtedly have some questions that he might need answered.

The picture comes via The Huffington Post.

Expatriate Property Ownership -- Indonesia...

The idea that expatriates (expats) may one day be able to own property in Indonesia has been tossed around for years. But, as is usually the way, nothing has become of those ideas until now. However, it would seem that there is still some ways to go before the ideas become reality. Yet, it is interesting to see that the State Department of Public Housing is making rumblings to the effect that there are moves afoot to loosen the prohibitions on expats owning Indonesian property.

The current state of affairs permits expats to take 25-year extendable (once) leases on property. There are other ways that expats go about "owning" a property in Indonesia. The most common of these is a nominee structure that involves the property being purchased by an Indonesian and then used as collateral in a loan agreement with the expat. This type of structure is one that is frequently used in Bali.

The current discussion appears to suggest that cities and special economic zones are the most likely areas to see the prohibitions eased. Nevertheless, the talk also suggests that the ownership of property in city areas is likely to be restricted to apartments. This in essence would mean that there is still likely going to be high demand for the nominee structure to remain if expats are more interested in a house as opposed to an apartment.

Yet, this is definitely a move in the right direction.

I guess time will tell whether there will be a full liberalization of the real estate sector that would allow foreigners to own property, and as much of it as they can afford. Maybe if the rules do change I might even be tempted to get into the market myself.

06 January 2010

Good Governance -- Indonesian Style?

I found the above on one of my recent internet surf trips. I figure it is worth posting here.

I find that it makes an interesting comment on the current state of play in Indonesia. Some might agree with the message it is advocating. Others might vehemently oppose the insinuations that it makes.

Who would have ever thought that SBY would be taking lessons from the former president, and now deceased, Soeharto.

In any event, it is worth a look.

01 January 2010

Happy New Year!

May 2010 be all that each of you hope it to be.

May the coming year see all your hopes and dreams come to fruition.

So, Happy New Year to You and Yours from Me and Mine!

To ring in the new year, here are some images from last night's fireworks display in Sydney.