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The secret deal to destroy paradise

The secret deal to destroy paradise

first_img“The secret deal to destroy paradise” is the third installment of Indonesia for Sale, an in-depth series on the opaque deals underpinning Indonesia’s deforestation and land-rights crisis.The series is the product of 22 months of investigative reporting across the Southeast Asian country, interviewing fixers, middlemen, lawyers and companies involved in land deals, and those most affected by them.“The secret deal to destroy paradise” is based on a cross-border collaboration between Tempo, Malaysiakini, Mongabay and Earthsight’s The Gecko Project. (Baca dalam Bahasa Indonesia)Prologue: Johor Baru, 2012In December 2012, at a press conference on the sidelines of an Islamic business forum in Malaysia, a man named Chairul Anhar made a bold claim. His company, he said, held the rights to 4,000 square kilometers of land for oil palm plantations in Indonesia.If true, it would make Chairul one of the biggest landowners in the country. That land was not just anywhere, but in New Guinea, a giant island that glittered in the eyes of investors. Shared by Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, the island had the world’s biggest gold mine, untapped oil and gas, and the largest remaining tract of pristine rainforest in Asia. For the companies that had steadily logged their way through the rest of Southeast Asia, New Guinea was the last frontier. For the investor who could tame it, a fortune awaited.Then in his mid-40s, with a stout build, a thin moustache and a buzz cut, Chairul presented himself as such an investor. He claimed to be the president, CEO and owner of a sprawling conglomerate, the Menara Group. He traveled in a Bentley and private jets, and rubbed shoulders with the political elite of Malaysia and his native Indonesia.Chairul AnharThe basis of his claim was the Tanah Merah project, a plan to generate billions of dollars by logging untouched rainforests, home to indigenous tribes and a treasure trove of biodiversity, then razing what remained and replacing it with oil palms. If fully developed, it could become the single biggest palm oil plantation in Indonesia. But Chairul’s business, and his connection to the project, was more convoluted than the image he presented.The rights to the land in Indonesia’s Papua province had been acquired through a maze of shell companies. The shareholders were mostly fronts, controlled like puppets on a string. The companies were a façade, masking whoever was truly set to benefit from the project — whether Chairul or someone else.By the end of 2012, most of the equity in these shell companies — and with them the rights to the project — had been sold to offshore firms based in the Middle East and Singapore. Those sales channelled at least $80 million, likely several times more, back to the web of shareholders connected to Chairul, and brought a varied cast of new actors into the project: a former Indonesian chief of police, a secretive Yemeni family, a notorious logging firm from Borneo, and a conglomerate connected to a major Malaysian corruption scandal.The rainforest of Boven Digoel. Image by Nanang Sujana for The Gecko Project.By the time of the press conference, Chairul had only a slender claim to the land. He was the business Svengali who had brought these other interests together, generated a fortune, and lit the fuse on an environmental disaster that is only now beginning to unfold.The threat to the rainforests of Indonesia was very real. Since the turn of the century, only Brazil has lost more rainforest than Indonesia. One of the leading causes of this deforestation was a boom in industrial-scale plantations that began in the early 2000s. Those plantations enabled Indonesia to become the leading producer of palm oil, an edible oil used in an endless array of consumer products. But it also sparked an environmental crisis, as the carbon locked up in rainforests was released into the atmosphere.The volume of greenhouse gas emissions from Indonesian rainforests has made it a matter of international concern. Norway has pledged $1 billion in an attempt to incentivize reforms to curb them. Since 2015, the administration of President Joko Widodo has sought to rein in the plantation industry, most recently by enacting a temporary ban on any new permits for palm plantations. Though just a small proportion of the Tanah Merah project has been developed, the permits were issued before the ban came into force, and the forest remains slated for destruction.Today, an area larger than Manhattan has been cleared within the Tanah Merah project. This is only a fraction of the total project area. If the rest is bulldozed as planned, it will release as much emissions as Virginia produces by burning fossil fuels each year. If the giant sawmill that is today being constructed on the land is completed, it will suck in timber for years to come, settling the fate of swathes of rainforest in southern Papua.In the decade since the inception of the project, the ways in which the rights to it have been obtained and moved have been shrouded in secrecy. The companies involved have employed all of the tools of corporate secrecy that prevent key questions from being answered. Critical aspects of the permitting process that underpin the entire project are being withheld from public scrutiny. The true owners of the companies clearing the forest today remain hidden.A cross-border investigation involving news organizations from four countries — The Gecko Project, Mongabay, Tempo and Malaysiakini — attempted to pull back the corporate veil. We sought to find out who had obtained the rights to a project of such magnitude, and, perhaps more importantly, how. Our investigation exposes the methods apparently employed to ensure the people who control the fate of these forests — through their money, power and political decisions — have covered their tracks.Part One: ‘I wasn’t going to issue permits to just anyone’last_img read more

Arrested businessman seeking legal advice for redress

Arrested businessman seeking legal advice for redress

first_imgParking metersCity businessman Timothy Tucker is seeking legal advice on the way forward after he was arrested and charged for allegedly attempting to cut the boot placed on a vehicle driven by his daughter.Tucker is also being charged for allegedly assaulting the officer who arrested him. He is expected to appear in court on Friday.Businessman Timothy Tucker being assaulted by a City Constable (Newssource photo)Tucker told Guyana Times that he is currently seeking legal advice regarding the upcoming court matter, after which he will deliberate with his lawyers the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the City Council and/or the parking meter company, Smart City Solutions (SCS).The businessman’s daughter had stopped outside of the Outdoor Store on Church Street to enquire if they sold the prepaid parking meter cards. She spent no longer than two minutes when a parking meter warden placed a boot on the vehicle.Tucker, after receiving a call from his daughter, arrived on scene with a pair of shears.He said when he was walking towards his daughter’s car; a City Constable tapped him on his shoulder and informed him that he is under arrest.But Tucker said he then asked the Constable what was the charge since he did not cut anything.However, the officer returned the shears to his vehicle and then attempted to make his arrest in a hostile manner.On February 2, Minister of State Joseph Harmon disclosed that in spite of Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan already signing off on the By-laws governing the controversial operation of the parking meter system implemented throughout Georgetown, Attorney General Basil Williams is currently reviewing the documents before they are approved for gazetting.last_img read more

Varela last gasp strike saves Ronaldo

Varela last gasp strike saves Ronaldo

first_imgHowever, with only seconds remaining one sublime cross from a pretty anonymous Ronaldo was met by Varela and it soared past Tim Howard to give Portugal a lifeline as a further defeat after the 4-0 hammering by Germany in the opening game would have seen them out.The United States — who reached the last 16 in 2010 only to lose to Ghana — are on four points along with Germany, who they play in their final group game, and who their coach Jurgen Klinsmann led at the 2006 finals.Ghana and Portugal both have one point and play also on Thursday.Klinsmann, who was also within seconds of being the first coach to guide the USA to two successive wins at a finals since 1930, was phlegmatic about the dramatic dashing of their hopes.“Obviously the last second is unfortunate but my guys were magnificent,” said Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup as a player.“We just have to get a result against Germany. Obviously the Germans have a day more to recover and we have had further to travel for our game but then the big guys are the ones that get the favourite treatment.“My guys went to the limit but now they have to pick themselves up and despite this result we will go into the game with a lot of confidence.”The Portuguese got just the start they needed to settle their nerves as a terrible defensive error by Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron — the ball flying off his boot to Nani — saw the Manchester United winger wait for Howard to commit himself before rifling the ball into the net.It had been preempted by an outrageous piece of skill by Ronaldo down the left side, completely bewitching three American players as they tried to corral him out on the touchline, only for a series of step overs and a backheel to see him squirm through the three of them.Conditions even in the evening were so draining that five minutes from the break, when Jermaine Jones received some treatment, the referee allowed both sides to rehydrate with a drinks break.Howard, who was earning his 102nd cap, kept his side in the game on the stroke of half-time as he somehow managed to stick a hand out as he dived the wrong way to tip a pointblank shot by Eder over the bar.There was an even finer block the other end 10 minutes into the second-half as Bradley’s goalbound effort from only 10 yards out saw defender Ricardo Costa spread himself deflect the ball off his knee for a corner, earning a well deserved kiss on the head from goalkeeper Beto.The Americans, though, deservedly levelled in the 64th minute as Jones produced a pearler of a right-footed shot from outside the area, leaving Beto rooted to the spot.Ronaldo and the Portuguese appeared shellshocked and it was the Americans who grabbed a second as Bradley’s shot rebounded to Graham Zusi off a defender and his cross was put into the net by Dempsey’s stomach for his fourth goal at a World Cup finals.That looked to be that until, like Lionel Messi with his late goal against Iran on Saturday, Ronaldo summoned up one piece of class with his pinpoint cross, which was enough to break American hearts.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000MANAUS, June 23- A superb header by Silvestre Varela deep into time added on saved world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal from crashing out of the World Cup finals on Sunday as it secured a 2-2 draw with the United States.The Americans had looked to be safely into the last 16 after second-half goals by Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey saw them come back from 1-0 down — a goal by Nani — to lead.last_img read more

Whittier OKs pot dispensaries

Whittier OKs pot dispensaries

first_imgWHITTIER – Over objections from two school board trustees, the Whittier City Council approved a marijuana dispensaries ordinance allowing pot-providing collectives to open in certain areas within city limits. Before affirming a Dec. 13 vote on the ordinance, council members Tuesday night heard from Whittier Union High School District and Whittier City School District trustees, who said making pot dispensaries legal in the city sends the wrong message to young people. They also heard from a local psychologist who told them marijuana can have medicinal benefits. “Many (doctors) favor marijuana in the case of chronic pain,” Whittier psychologist Jeremy Sarchet told the council. But Whittier Union High School District trustee Leighton Anderson said allowing marijuana to be sold with a doctor’s prescription from city sanctioned locations undercuts his district’s efforts to curb the drug’s use among teens. “It undermines what we are trying to do as a high school district, with regard to safety and the security of our campuses, because of the mixed message it sends,” Anderson said. “What message does it send to our kids?” agreed Whittier City School District board trustee Linda Small. “The sale of pot is not a welcome venture.” Even so, the council, in a 3-2 vote, officially adopted the law, which goes into effect in 30 days. After that, any marijuana dispensary applying to open in Whittier must open in areas zoned for manufacturing. The establishments also must be no nearer than 1,000 feet from any school, library, day-care facility or park. Anyone under 21 is prohibited from entering a marijuana dispensary under the city’s new law, which also limits their hours of operation to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and requires the facilities to provide security guards. “We’ll at least know where they’ll be,” said Mayor Greg Nordbak, who voted yes, along with council members Bob Henderson and Doug Lopez. “We’ll have control over them.” Council members Cathy Warner and Owen Newcomer again voted against the ordinance. Had the city had an ordinance in place, Nordbak said, it could have applied the zoning regulations to the Whittier Collective, a marijuana dispensary that opened – apparently without the city’s knowledge – in the Washington-Whittier Medical Center, across the street from the Tri-Cities Regional Occupational Program for high school students. “Had we had this ordinance a year ago, this facility wouldn’t be across the street from the ROP,” the mayor said. As it is, the new ordinance doesn’t apply to the Whittier Collective. The city’s lawyers are now determining whether the collective can legally stay at its location and for how long. Medical marijuana dispensaries are legal under state Proposition 215, approved by voters in 1996. State law allows people with doctors’ prescriptions to use the drug for medicinal purposes. But marijuana remains illegal to possess and use under federal law. Henderson and Lopez said they believe that marijuana has helped people in pain. “In the last month of his life, he was on morphine drip and that put him in a coma,” Lopez said, referring to his father, former Councilman Vic Lopez. “I believe that medical marijuana could have been of value to him.” mike.sprague@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

No Champions League would see Mourinho branded a failure, says ex-United star

No Champions League would see Mourinho branded a failure, says ex-United star

first_imgRay Wilkins insists Jose Mourinho’s first season at Old Trafford will be a failure if they don’t qualify for the Champions League.United are still in the hunt for a top four finish in the Premier League, and could also book their place at Europe’s top table with victory in the Europa League.And Wilkins claims it’s vital they get that by one route or the other.Asked on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast how the season would be judged if Untied miss out on that target, Wilkins replied: “I would say it’s been a failure. Manchester United can’t afford to be out of the Champions League.“They should coast this Europa League and that’s why Jose was so disappointed last night [following the draw with Anderlecht] because he sees this as the best route into the Champions League. And don’t forget that would be a second trophy this season [after the League Cup], so already he’d be starting to win for Manchester United.“It’s imperative they qualify for the Champions League otherwise [any deal for] Griezmann will go out of the window, [any deal for]  Lukaku will go out of the window and Pogba will be wondering what he’s done because that will be the second year without it.”last_img read more

Water center, closed by storm, reopens today

Water center, closed by storm, reopens today

first_imgNearly two years since a torrential storm knocked out water service to the state’s premier water museum in a series of landslides north of Santa Clarita, repairs are complete and the center will reopen today. The Vista del Lago Visitors Center, which attracted some 160,000 people each year, is reopening on its perch over Pyramid Lake with no fanfare, but with sighs of relief statewide. “They weren’t sure it could reopen until they could check safety issues with the foundation,” Don Strickland, spokesman for the state Department of Resources, said Tuesday. “Apparently everything worked out.” The 14-year-old center is filled with exhibits showing how water flows from the verdant north to thirsty Southern California. Displays show just how much water it takes for a variety of chores and activities. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECalifornia’s bungled $1 billion accounting system The state used the center’s down time to upgrade. “They did some painting, recarpeting, fixed some cracks,” Strickland said. The visitors center closed after the surrounding hillsides saturated in a February 2004 rainstorm that caused massive landslides. Ironically, the slides knocked out water lines to the center. The heavy rain also buckled a nearby section of Interstate 5, which is still undergoing reconstruction. Initially, it was uncertain whether the center could be saved. Sensors placed in the ground around the museum monitored the surface for movement for six months, but found nothing out of the ordinary, according to a Water Resources report. The Vista del Lago Center is west of the I-5 at Smokey Bear Road. pat.aidem@dailynews.com (661) 257-5251 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

American Idol Auditions to Begin at Disney Springs

American Idol Auditions to Begin at Disney Springs

first_imgShare This!©Rikki NiblettHave you always wanted to hear the words “This is American Idol” in person? Well, you may very well be in luck.For those who don’t know, ABC is bringing back the singing competition and auditions for this new season are kicking off at Disney Springs on August 17. So, if you think you can be the next “American Idol“, you’ll want to audition in front of of the American Idol producers as they cruise into town with their bus tour. (Sorry, Katy Perry – one of the new celebrity judges – won’t be there.)Guests are encouraged to arrive early, as parking will be available beginning at 4:00 a.m.  There will be no overnight camping, so don’t arrive before 4:00 a.m.! Parking will be available at the surface parking lot on the West Side of Disney Springs, near House of Blues and Cirque du Soleil.Registration will begin at 6:00 a.m. and auditions will start at 8:00 a.m. Do keep in mind that registration will close at 12:00 p.m or sooner, depending on capacity. Do keep in mind that auditions will take place outdoors. A few rules to keep in mind. As per the American Idol rules, all singers must be at least 15 years old to audition. Guests are encouraged to pre-register and can do so by visiting www.americanidol.com. Those auditioning can bring one Guest to accompany them, but that Guest must be over 5 years old.For those who don’t know, the American Idol audition bus is heading around the country. Here are the other locations where you can audition in: August 17: Orlando, FLAugust 17: Portland, ORAugust 19: Miami, FLAugust 20: Oakland, CAJack London Square472 Water StreetOakland, CA 94607August 22: Atlanta, GAPiedmont Park – Oak Hill371 10th St NEAtlanta, GA 30309August 23: Provo, UTCourthouse Square51 South University AvenueProvo, UT 84601August 25: Charleston, SCCharleston Area Convention Center5001 Coliseum DriveNorth Charleston, SC 29418August 26: Denver, COAugust 27: Asheville, NC68 Haywood StreetAsheville, NC 28810August 29: Omaha, NELewis and Clark Landing345 Riverfront DriveOmaha, NE 68102August 30: Louisville, KYWaterfront Park401 River RoadLouisville, KY 40202September 1: Tulsa, OKGuthrie Green111 East M.B. Brady StreetTulsa, OK 74103September 3: Pittsburgh, PABakery Square6425 Penn AvePittsburgh, PA 15206September 4: Shreveport, LASeptember 5: Annapolis, MDSeptember 7: The Shoals, ALAlabama Music Hall of Fame617 U.S. 72 WTuscumbia, AL 35674September 8: Boston, MASeptember 11: Chicago, ILSeptember 14: New Orleans, LA Will you be auditioning for American Idol this year?last_img read more

Banyana star aims at success

Banyana star aims at success

first_imgFresh from the University of Johannesburg‘s triumph in the inaugural Varsity Football competition, Amanda Dlamini speaks about her decision to relinquish the national captain’s armband and her work in the development of women’s soccer.In March, the Banyana Banyana midfielder gave up the captaincy, after two years at the helm, to focus on her own game and her tertiary studies.“It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make regarding my footballing career. It’s something that needed to be done for me to be content with myself, my game and my studies.”Higher education was a priority, said the third-year Road Transport Management student, even for those young women carving out a career in professional sport. “Women’s sport still lacks the sponsorship needed to make a good living. So should anything happen, such as a career-changing injury, one should be able to continue having a full life through your chosen field.”Dlamini is currently back home in Harding, KwaZulu-Natal, while she completes a module via correspondence, and plays for Durban Ladies in the Sasol provincial league.She has already made 66 appearances for the national squad and notched up 21 goals in the process.HIGHLIGHTUniversity of Johannesburg and Banyana Banyana midfielder Amanda Dlamini in action during the inaugural Varsity Football series (Image: Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA)The highlight of her tenure as captain was leading the first ever Banyana team to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2012.She hopes to still be an integral part of South Africa’s plans to qualify for the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup and their quest to win the African Women’s Championship.Earlier this year, this sporting role model established the Amanda Dlamini Girls’ Foundation, which aims to inspire young girls from rural areas to pursue their dreams.“As a rural girl, I know how it feels to be isolated from all sporting activities. Because I have experienced these challenges, I felt the need to go out there and motivate these young girls not to give up, no matter what.”As part of the programme, Dlamini shares her footballing experiences and some of the challenges that female athletes face. She said the emphasis was on balancing education and sport, providing coaching in life skills and football.“We offer career guidance and teambuilding exercises. There’s also something called ‘my sacred space’ – which is where I tell them about my upbringing and relate to them and answer one-on-one questions.”Dlamini, who scored two goals in UJ’s 6-0 drubbing of Tshwane University of Technology, believes it was depth of experience that gave her side the edge in the Varsity Football competition in September. Although the presence of past and present national players like herself, Noko Matlou and Disebo Mametja had no doubt strengthened the side, she preferred to focus on the entire unit.“We work as a team and shy away from focusing on individuals. We work very well as a unit and not as a group of stars. We are always mindful of complacency and therefore work hard at training sessions to complement the massive talent we have in our squad.”ADDING VALUEThe 25-year-old said the Varsity Football series had added great value to the game by ensuring constant competition and providing a visible and equal platform for women’s football.“This shows that women’s sport as a whole is on the rise and being taken seriously.”Dlamini’s greatest ambition is to one day have her own football academy for women. According to her, her own start was slightly less auspicious, following her cousin and brother to the fields where they played.“One day I was asked to play because they were a man short and I grabbed that chance with both hands. At first it was just a hobby – little did I know the only little girl playing with boys would one day get this far.”last_img read more

Technology: Off-Shore becomes Next-Door

Technology: Off-Shore becomes Next-Door

first_imgContinued limits on the high demand for skilled foreign workers in the US and the continued love-hate relationship that companies in the US feel towards distant low-cost off-shore outsource companies are driving a new trend: Next-Door outsourcing.Oursource companies are setting up shop in Canada and Mexico to provide a same-time-zone competitively-priced source of labor. Similar to the lure of crossing the border to purchase certain goods that may be banned or highly taxed, these companies are providing convenient services just across the border.For example, WiPro announced their recent opening of a location in Mexico. Infosys followed suit in Mexico. Wipro is in Canada too. And there are growing areas like the Canadian Technology Triangle. This is partly being fueled by the fact that immigation into both Canada and Mexico is significantly simpler than into the US. Given the US restrictions, it’s very likely that this will be a trend that will continue to grow.last_img read more

Can Bitbucket Challenge GitHub with Free Repositories?

Can Bitbucket Challenge GitHub with Free Repositories?

first_imgjoe brockmeier 1 The bulk of users are on GitHub, and while BitBucket may have a slightly nicer price point, it’s pretty clear that the Atlassian folks are taking a big cue from GitHub with regards to features and user interface. That’s putting it lightly, of course. Another way to say it is that Bitbucket looks a lot like a clone of GitHub, and I’m not sure that developers will clamor to use a copy of GitHub just because it’s cheaper. GitHub still has the edge on a few features of interest to some developers, too. For instance, there’s the GitHub for Mac client so that developers on the Mac OS X platform have a native GUI client for GitHub features. There’s also the Gist text pastebin service that integrates with Git tools. I’m curious to hear from developers on this one, though. Is the price enough to jump ship, especially given that it’s easy to import Git repositories to Bitbucket? Or does the size of the GitHub community and its first-mover status on features keep GitHub at the top of the stack? These Mistakes Can Derail a Legacy Software Con… How AI is Learning to Play with Words One year after acquiring Bitbucket, Atlassian is taking aim at GitHub. The company announced Git support with free, unlimited private Git repositories today. Git support is new to the Bitbucket service, which started around Mercurial repositories.In addition to Git support, the company also announced a new importer for GitHub as well as importers for other hosted code collaboration services like Google Code, CodePlex and SourceForge.GitHub allows free accounts with no private repositories, or a “Micro” account for $7 a month that allows up to five private repositories and one developer/user on GitHub. Bitbucket now starts with a free plan that allows five users and unlimited public and private repositories. The first paid plan for Bitbucket starts at $10 a month for 10 users. GitHub MomentumCompeting on price is one way to challenge GitHub, but that seems to be the only feature where Bitbucket is competitive at the moment. While the free offering puts the heat on GitHub, there’s a lot of momentum behind GitHub – to the tune of more than two million repositories. Tags:#Bitbucket#GitHub#hack#news#source code#source code access Why Your Company’s Tech Transformation Starts W… Leveraging Big Data that Data Websites Should T… Related Posts last_img read more

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