More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission
Analsyts say it is irresponsible to link the crash of a Ukraine International Airline Boeing 737-800 to the 737 MAX accidents (AFP Photo/INA FASSBENDER)

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chinese take over the reliable Volvo

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, by Abel Borghuis + agencies, 29 March 2010 - 5:06pm

Volvo C30

Volvo Cars is now in the hands of Chinese automobile manufacturer Zhejiang Geely, a few months after another Swedish car brand, Saab, was sold by General Motors to the Dutch company Spyker. So the future of the Swedish auto industry has been assured – at least for now.

The Chinese hope to achieve the success with Volvo that has eluded Ford in the past decade. Geely sees enormous potential in the Swedish brand, not only internationally but especially on the domestic market in China, which overtook the United States as the world's No.1 auto market last year.

Like many Chinese automakers, Geely hopes someday to emulate the global success of Japanese and Korean players like Toyota, Honda Motor Co and Hyundai Motor Co. Owning a global brand like Volvo gives Geely a chance to build up its profile in China, where it is known more for small, inexpensive cars, and to catch up with its bigger state-owned rivals, who have long partnered with the likes of GM and Volkswagen, analysts said.

Li Shufu, the chairman of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, is a self-made entrepreneur who built Geely from nothing into the country's 10th-biggest car maker in less than two decades, and is banking on China as a saviour for Volvo. The charismatic founder said on Monday that he aims to turn around Volvo within two years. He is already planning a factory in Beijing that will make 300,000 Volvo branded cars a year, doubling its current output.


For years, Volvos have been known as reliable family cars. Another distinguishing feature is their safety. Fifty years ago, Volvo was the first manufacturer to fit three-point seatbelts as standard in its cars. But safety has faded into the background as a ‘unique selling point’ over the past couple of decades, simply because other brands have caught up with Volvo. For the Swedes, as a relatively small producer, it became increasingly difficult to stand on their own feet due to the rising costs of developing new models.

In 1999, the American giant Ford indicated that it wanted to position Volvo at the higher end of the international market. Ford put 6.4 billion dollars on the table and spent billions more on modernising the brand. But despite the investment, it failed to make a success of Volvo, and now, a little over a decade later, it has sold the brand for just 1.8 billion dollars – less than a third of the price it paid in 1999 - to Geely.

Own vision

Geely says it will do everything possible to allow Volvo to retain its own identity, as long as it’s made clear what precisely its own vision is. The Swedish brand will retain its own management, with Gothenburg as its headquarters. The Swedish unions have received assurances that the factories in Sweden and Belgium, which employ a total of 22,000 people, will remain open. But Jacques Wallner, car editor of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, urges caution. "China has no tradition of unions, co-determination and respect for workers ... it is a hierarchical society. Hopefully, Geely and China will learn more from Volvo than just the technology," he said.

At the moment, the plans for Volvo’s future are not really concrete. In the short term, the Chinese will profit from the western technological know-how that Volvo has in house. The question is whether Geely is prepared, as Ford did, to invest billions in the development of new Volvos.

Related Article:

China's Geely to pump up to $900 million into Volvo

Monday, March 29, 2010

Editorial: Clearer Steps Needed to Clean Up Jakarta's Skies

Jakarta Globe, Editorial, March 28, 2010

Jakarta is infamous for its air pollution. (Photo: SP)

Blue skies are a rarity in Jakarta. On most days, residents of the capital are subjected to pollutants that are considered serious health hazards. During the dry season, pollution can get so bad that a continual haze hangs over the city like a blanket.

Much of this pollution is caused by motor vehicles. Although new emissions standards have been introduced, they are often not enforced, particularly for public transportation vehicles. Buses continue to spew thick black smoke from their badly maintained diesel engines.

Efforts have been made to reduce the level of pollution in the capital. Beginning in 2007, the Jakarta administration introduced a car-free day on the last Sunday of every month along Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin, which has since expanded to other areas. Starting this month, locations such as Old Town in West Jakarta, Rasuna Said in South Jakarta, Boulevard Artha Gading in North Jakarta, Jalan Pemuda in East Jakarta and Jalan Letjen Suprapto in Central Jakarta will hold car-free days at least twice a year.

These efforts have had some results, at least according to the city’s environmental agency, which declared that this year’s car-free days helped to improve air quality in Jakarta more than in previous years.

“The most recent measurement showed that the car-free days had helped to reduce dust particles by up to 40 percent, carbon monoxide was reduced by 63 percent and nitrogen monoxide by 71 percent,” said Rina Suryani, head of natural resources monitoring at the Jakarta Environmental Management Board (BPLHD).

Despite these claims, however, car-free days have minimal impact on air quality in Jakarta. The level of pollution may be reduced on a particular Sunday, but no doubt shoots straight back up as millions of vehicles take to the roads for the start of the work week.

City police data show that last year the number of vehicles in Jakarta rose to 9.9 million, including 133,000 public transportation vehicles, while the number of residents, based on data from the Jakarta Population and Civil Registration Agency, was 8.5 million. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment reported that the city produced 13,000 tons of carbon dioxide daily last year.

Clearly, concrete action needs to be taken if we are to tackle air pollution. For starters, authorities must move swiftly to crack down on public buses that are the biggest polluters. They must be replaced by cleaner hybrid buses. Tougher emissions standards must also be enforced for private vehicles to ensure that only cars that use unleaded gasoline are allowed on the roads.

Clean air is a basic right, just as clean water is. The government has introduced regulations to ensure that all citizens have access to clean air. But as the heavy smog that envelops the city on most days illustrates, enforcement has been weak or nonexistent. How long must Jakartans continue to endure these unacceptable conditions?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jakarta launches Transjakarta website, SMS center

The Jakarta Post | Sun, 03/28/2010 1:33 PM

The Jakarta administration on Sunday launched the Transjakarta busway website,, to provide passengers with information related to its services.

“The website provides a complete map of the Transjakarta busway routes and updated information in relation to bus services. If you need any information about Transjakarta, just click on the website,” Jakarta administration officer Rina Suryani said, on the sidelines of “Jakarta Great Clean 2010” event, as quoted by

Transjakarta also launched a short message service [SMS] center 9250 for customers’ queries or complaints.

Sudirman, Thamrin streets closed for six hours

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sun, 03/28/2010 10:04

The Jakarta government is banning auto vehicles from passing through Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin this morning to celebrate an anti-pollution campaign.

The two main streets closure began from 6 a.m., and will end at 12 p.m.

"Now we have closed these streets from motorists 35 times for an environment purpose," Rina Suryani, city government anti-pollution division head, said as quoted by

The anti-pollution campaign, which called Jakarta Great Clean 2010, was attended by thousands of local people.

Related Article:

Air pollution level in Jakarta drops

Friday, March 26, 2010

Come clean

Indah Setiawati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 03/26/2010 5:35 PM | Jakarta

Come clean: Jakarta government employees hang two containers carrying 20 cubic meters of garbage in front of the National Monument in Central Jakarta. The display marked the launch of to promote a clean city by Governor Fauzi Bowo on Friday. - JP/Indah Setiawati

Japan carmakers eye green car project

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 03/26/2010 8:47 AM

Japan’s four major automobile producers have expressed keen interest to join the government’s program to produce eco-friendly and low-cost cars, Industry Minister M.S. Hidayat said in Jakarta on Thursday.

The minister said representatives of Daihatsu, Toyota, Suzuki and Nissan had all expressed interest.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with executives of Nissan in his office, Hidayat said executives of Daihatsu, Toyota and Suzuki had met him earlier to discuss the program, expected to begin by 2011.

“They [Daihatsu, Toyota and Suzuki] are very serious. They have all submitted business plans,” said Hidayat, adding Daihatsu had shown the government its prototype.

Hidayat said the low-cost green car program is open to all car producers but interested parties would be selected based on government criteria especially on the proposed local content for car production.

The government is now drafting a regulation on the program, which also involves other ministries and state agencies, as well as regional administrations.

The regulation is expected to be issued by the end of this year.

According to Hidayat, interested producers have requested fiscal incentives such as lower value added and income taxes as well as reduced vehicle tax and vehicle ownership tax, both of which are collected by regional administrations.

According to Hidayat, the market for the low-cost green car which would carry a price tag of between Rp 70 million (US$7,630) and Rp 80 million would be quite promising given the surge in per capita income.

Hidayat said that his eventual aim would be that the local content of the car would be between 60 and 80 percent of its total composition.

“Our income per capita now stands at around US$2,500 a year.

Next year, it will probably reach $3,000,” Hidayat said. In addition to providing affordable cars to Indonesia’s lower-middle class consumers, the program is also designed to build up a stronger base for the country’s automotive industry especially in anticipation of the establishment of the ASEAN economic community in 2015, said Budi Darmadi the Industry Ministry Director General for Transportation, Telecommunication and IT industries.

Because one of this long-term strategic objective to strengthen the Indonesian automotive industry, carmakers taking part in the program should be committed to optimum use of local components in the production of the car, Budi said.

He added that local components should therefore be used in all parts of the car including the body, tires, wheels, interior, engine and transmission.

China Railway Wins $4.8 Billion Indonesia Project

BusinessWeek, March 25, 2010, 6:10 AM EDT

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- China Railway Group Ltd. won a $4.8 billion order from PT Bukit Asam, Indonesia’s state-owned coal producer, for a coal transport project on Sumatra island.

PT Bukit Asam Transpacific Railway, a unit of Bukit Asam, and China Railway signed the contracts on March 23, Tanjung Enim, South Sumatra-based Bukit Asam said in an e-mailed statement today. The contracts include rights to build and operate the facilities, the Chinese railroad builder said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Inadequate infrastructure outside Java, Indonesia’s most populated island, has hindered companies’ ability to develop resources in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. The railway project will enable Bukit Asam to tap the bulk of the company’s coal reserves on Sumatra, boosting its annual output.

The railway, which is scheduled to start operating in 2014, will increase Bukit Asam’s coal transport capacity by 25 million metric tons a year, the company said.

Bukit Asam and partners are in talks with four Chinese lenders to finance 70 percent of the project and the rest will come from internal cash, the statement said.

The project will help Bukit Asam increase its annual coal- transport capacity to 40 million tons by 2013, Achmad Sudarto, the company’s corporate secretary said on Oct. 21.

Shares of Bukit Asam gained 450 rupiah, or 2.75 percent, to 16,800 rupiah a share in the Indonesia Stock Exchange at 3:07 p.m. Jakarta time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jian Guo Jiang in Shanghai at; Yoga Rusmana in Jakarta at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Ahlstrand at;

Dubai Group Ready to Start $1b Rail Project in Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, Dion Bisara, March 25, 2010

Vice President Boediono calling for more private-sector investment in infrastructure in Jakarta on Thursday. (JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)

MEC Holdings, a subsidiary of the Dubai-based Trimex Group, said on Thursday that it had completed acquiring land for its $1 billion railway project in East Kalimantan and is ready to begin construction in the first half of this year.

The 130-kilometer railway is part of MEC’s plan to invest a total of $5.2 billion in the province, including in a coal terminal, an aluminum smelter and a power plant.

The projects will be developed by a joint venture with the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority and India’s largest aluminum producer, National Aluminium, MEC said in December.

The railway project will be run and operated by MEC Infra, a joint venture between MEC and Ras Al Khaimah. MEC Infra has obtained Indonesia’s first private railway license to develop a 130km integrated freight corridor from a mine site in Muara Wahau to a port in Bengalon, East Kalimantan.

Mashael Al Naimi, head of corporate communications at MEC, said in an e-mail to the Jakarta Globe that the major land acquisitions had been completed, with construction planned to start by the end of the first half.

MEC has said it expects the first commission of a cargo train in 2011.

Although many foreign developers have complained about the complex land-acquisition process and the frequent difficulties with local villagers, Madhu Koneru, the chief executive of MEC Holdings, said he did not find these traditional hurdles so severe.

“We were dealing with many stakeholders such as ministries in Jakarta, politicians, regional governments and villagers. The biggest concern they talked about was villagers who will not give up their land,” Koneru said.

He was speaking during The Economist’s Indonesia Summit in Jakarta on Thursday, which was attended by hundreds of prominent local and foreign business executives.

“But the truth is villagers are the easiest people to talk to. If you go to them and tell them that your plan will create jobs, they will give you their land,” he said, adding that government also proved especially cooperative in drafting the right policies.

Gita Wirjawan, the chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), said MEC’s experience demonstrated that the usual roadblocks deterring many foreign investors from investing in Indonesia have been reduced.

“Their ability to clear most of the land for the 130km corridor in just a few months goes against the traditional perception that land clearance is nearly impossible to do in Indonesia,” Gita said.

Foreign investors have long complained of the difficulties they face in acquiring and clearing land for large infrastructure projects. Part of the problem is that land owners tend to demand excessive prices for their property once they know that a major developer is interested.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

'Ladies and gentlemen, on your left you will see an erupting volcano': The stunning sight Caribbean holidaymakers saw from plane

Daily Mail, by Daily Mail Reporter, 11:06 AM on 25th March 2010

As in-flight entertainment goes, this certainly beats watching the latest Hollywood flop on a ten-inch screen.

Passengers flying off on a Caribbean holiday were stunned when they spotted a massive volcanic eruption, which sent a huge plume of ash skyward.

The explosion of the Soufriere Hills volcano, on the island of Montserrat, sent ash bellowing up to 40,000ft.

The spectacle was spotted by the pilot of a plane travelling to the island of St Lucia. He immediately alerted his passengers who dashed to the side of the 737 jet to catch a glimpse.

Front-row seat: A photo taken by a passenger from the window of her holiday jet shows the Soufriere Hills volcano erupting on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean

The mushroom-shaped cloud went so high that it even caused some flights to nearby islands to be delayed because of the danger of ash getting into the engines.

Hairdresser Mary Jo Penkala, who was flying with her partner Barry Steinfeld, grabbed her camera as soon as she saw the ash cloud.

Ms Penkala, 49, said: 'We were up in the air and I noticed an unusual cloud formation above the regular lower clouds you see when you are flying at a high altitude.

'The formation of the clouds looked very odd and I could see it was coming from an island.

Watch out: The eruption sent ash up to 40,000ft into the sky

'I could see bursts of cloud that seemed to be forming layers so I grabbed a camera and started taking pictures.

'I had no idea what it was until the pilot told us all to look out of the window on the left of the plane because there was a volcano going off on the island of Montserrat.

'He said he had been watching for a long time since it had started.'

Holiday snaps: Mary Jo Penkala on her holiday after the memorable flight

Ms Penkala, from Calgary, Canada, said the 737 plane's passengers, who were flying from Toronto, rushed to the side of the aircraft to grab a view of the spectacular sight.

She said because she was sitting on the left, passengers from the other side passed their cameras to her so she could grab some snaps.

She added: 'When we arrived at our resort in St Lucia everyone was talking about the volcano.

'We heard that some flights to the island had been delayed because the volcanic ash in the air was dangerous for the engines of the plane.

'Everyone who has seen the picture has been amazed. We were so lucky to see the volcano in all its glory.

'It was certainly an interesting start to our vacation.'

The huge cloud of ash is thought to have been caused by the partial collapse of the volcano's lava dome.

After a long period of dormancy, the Soufriere Hills volcano became active in 1995, and has continued to erupt ever since.

Its eruptions have in the past rendered more than half of Montserrat uninhabitable, destroyed the capital city, Plymouth, and caused widespread evacuations.

In June 1982 British Airways Flight 9 flew into a cloud of volcanic ash thrown up by the eruption of Mount Galunggung, in Indonesia, resulting in the failure of all four engines.

The Boeing 747, flying from London, was forced to glide as it fell 23,000 feet without power and some passengers wrote last notes to loved ones believing they would die.

Space view: La Soufrière erupting, seen from space

Captain Eric Moody made an announcement to the passengers that has since been described as 'a masterpiece of understatement'.

He said: 'Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have a small problem.

'All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them under control.

'I trust you are not in too much distress.'

Incredibly, after 12 minutes with no power the aircraft exited the ash cloud and all engines were restarted, allowing the aircraft to land safely.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lion Air plane tire bursts after landing in Makassar

Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Wed, 03/24/2010 5:31 PM

One of the tires of a Lion Air passenger jet with flight number JT 796 burst after the plane landed at Hassanudin Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Wednesday.

All 191 passengers and eight crew members were unharmed.

State airport management company PT Angkasa Pura I staff member Kintoron said the tire of the Boeing 737-900 ER jet, which was on a stopover on its way to Ambon, Maluku, punctured as it entered the taxi way to the apron at about 11:30 a.m. local time.

“The plane landed normally, but as soon as it entered the taxi way, one of its tires suddenly punctured, thereby forcing it to stop,” Kintoron said.

The emergency stoppage of the plane, however, did not affect the flow of flights at the airport.

Kintoron said after all the passengers and crew members had been evacuated, the plane was dragged onto the apron. The evacuation process took around one hour, he said.

Kintoron said he could not provide further details on the cause of the incident as he was still waiting for results of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Committee.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Editorial: Jakartans Shouldn’t Accept Traffic, Floods

Jakarta Globe, March 22, 2010, Editorial

Jakarta has shown a lack of initiative in facing the traffic problem, even as a gridlock crisis looms. (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

For the 12 million people who call the Indonesian capital home, there may be no other city they would choose to live in. But life in Jakarta is certainly not all rosy, as residents are forced to battle horrendous traffic congestion and pollution each day. And when the rains come, many have to tolerate the inconvenience and destruction of flooding, including of their homes, and also the millions of rupiah in damage that comes with the rising waters.

Because Jakartans have had to live with traffic congestion and floods for so long, many residents have come to accept such inconvenience as part and parcel of living and working in the city. But as Vice President Boediono has pointed out, this sorry situation can and must change.

Many other cities in the world and in the region have overcome similar challenges and there is no reason why Jakarta cannot do the same if the political will is there. The Jakarta administration and the central government must work together with the full support of the bureaucracy if the capital is to take its place as among the most livable cities in the region.

What is badly needed, as the vice president noted, is a comprehensive transportation plan that incorporates all public transportation, the use of private vehicles on public roads and proper housing planning within the city center. In this regard, the city government must work with the large property companies to reach a win-win situation.

It is now widely acknowledged that if there is no improvement in managing Jakarta’s traffic, the capital will face gridlock in a few short years. Yet there seems to be no sense of urgency on the part of city officials to tackle this pressing problem. For all purposes, progress seems to move at a snail’s pace, if at all, when it comes to dealing with traffic.

Like many other cities, Jakarta has no option but to build more high-rise apartments within the city to lessen the time and distance that residents have to travel. But Jakarta must also offer proper recreational facilities and green spaces to encourage and attract people to live in the city. It is telling that a city the size of Jakarta has practically no large open public space, let alone a New York City-style central park.

Now that the vice president has publicly raised this issue, we sincerely hope the bureaucracy will take up the challenge. There is no shortage of urban planners in the country. If needed, we can also use the expertise of countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, which have successfully developed modern public transportation systems with proper city planning. It is time Jakarta stopped being identified worldwide with crippling traffic jams and annual destructive flooding. We can and we should do better.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

North Jakarta to host Car-Free Day on Sunday

The Jakarta Post, Sat, 03/20/2010 1:38 PM

Residents of Kelapa Gading area in North Jakarta are called to take note of the traffic being shifting around Jl. Boulevard Artha Gading and Jl. Kelapa Nias Raya during Car-Free Day this Sunday.

Like the monthly car-free events held on Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin in Central Jakarta, the one in Kelapa Gading is expected to apply from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m and will see motorcycles, cars, taxis and three-wheeled vehicles barred from the roads, in a bid to reduce air pollution in the city.

During car-free days, residents take up exercise, while organizations set up booths to campaign for environmental awareness, and sporting clubs take to the streets to play sports like futsal.

The program, however, often draws complaints from drivers because of the abysmal congestion created along outlying roads.

The city repeatedly claims that the program, held since September 2007, is effective in reducing air pollution in the city.

Friday, March 19, 2010

US helping Indonesian air force improve aircraft safety

Antara News, Friday, March 19, 2010 17:29 WIB

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The US Embassy`s Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) is assisting the Indonesian Air Force improve the safety of its aircraft, the US Embassy here said in its webiste.

The Indonesian military and three US Air Force Technical Coordination Groups (TCG) have recently conducted reviews on F-5, F-16, and C-130 aircraft. This was the first in-country review in 2 years, and the most in depth ever.

Team members traveled to Bandung, Halim, Madiun, and Malang Air Force Bases to work directly with air crews and maintenance teams to help them remedy some of their long-standing maintenance problems.

The TCG, a team of technical experts, come from various US Air Force Bases within the United States. They travel worldwide to assist countries resolve critical maintenance issues, and to brief on the latest innovations in the world wide fleet of Lockheed Martin built C-130 `Hercules` aircraft, F-16 `Fighting Falcons,` and Northrop`s F-5 `Tiger.` The Indonesian Air Force Hercules aircraft were all built between the 1960`s and the mid-1980`s.

Although the US sanctions with Indonesia were officially lifted in 2005, maintenance issues have been a challenge for the Indonesian military. In recent years, the ODC at US Embassy - Jakarta has been cooperating with the Indonesian Air Force.

"Bringing the TCG teams back is one of the first steps," Lt. Colonel Alex Thagard, Director of Air Force Programs at ODC, explained. "Many of the programs and platforms used by the Indonesian Air Force require immediate updates, in order to keep pace with changes that have occurred within the US Air Force over the last two decades."

The ODC is also cooperating with the Indonesian Air Force and the US State Department to provide grant funding to send their C-130`s to the United States for Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) inspections.

The first airplane for inspection and maintenance is scheduled to fly to the US in June.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

International Flight Safety Certificate

Tempo Interactive, Thursday, 18 March, 2010 | 20:38 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:PT Mandala Airlines has obtained a flight safety certificate from the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).

IOSA is an internationally acclaimed flight safety accreditation for airlines which fulfill global flight safety standards.

“Mandala is the first private airline in Indonesia to obtain an IOSA safety certificate,” said Mandala President Director Diono Nurjadi in Jakarta, on Thursday (18/3).

He explained that the IOSA certificate was designed by IATA as the standard to evaluate airlines compliance in fulfilling quality and international flight safety standards.

Mandala Chief Operations Officer (COO) Stephen Wilks added that the certificate was obtained after an international independent auditor analyzed more than 900 operational standards.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Int'l airport in Lombok to be in operation soon

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 03/16/2010 3:10 PM

An international airport facility, currently under construction in Central Lombok regency, West Nusa Tenggara, is scheduled to be in operation in the next several months, an official said on Tuesday.

Spokesman of local provincial administration Ahmad Baharuddin said that a soft opening for the airport was originally scheduled this month, but was delayed due to the lack of supporting facilities, especially access road from the capital to the airport.

“State owned PT Angkasa Pura I, which is in charge of managing the airport facility, has not been ready for the soft opening,” Baharuddin said in Mataram as quoted by the Antara news agency.

The soft opening will possibly be delayed until June or July, he said, adding that the delay was mainly caused by the fact that the local administration was in short of money to finance land clearance for the construction of a bypass leading to the airport.

The Rp 110 billion (US$11.80 million) airport project is designed to have a 1,750-meter runway and be completed with various facilities, including two aprons with 62,072 square meter spaces, Baharuddin said.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sorry, Private Vehicles are Not Allowed to Use Subsidized Fuel!

Tempo Interactive, Friday, 12 March, 2010 | 21:42 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: The government is to forbid the use of subsidized fuel for private vehicles.

"We are serious about this," said the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Darwin Zahedy Saleh in Jakarta, on Friday (12/3).

He said that this measure was being taken because the government had had a hard time controlling the global crude oil price which impacted on fuel subsidies.

Besides that, according to him, the subsidies should be aimed at poor people.

Darwin hoped that it could be applied this year.

“We are starting to design a trial (in Bintan and Bangka Belitung), but we do not know its realization yet,” he said.

Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani previously said that fuel subsidies this year would increase from Rp89.3 trillion to Rp98.7 trillion.

This subsidy increase was because of changes in macro assumptions and fuel price benchmarks in the budget.

The government proposes an oil price assumption from between US$65 to US$77 per barrel.

Darwin confirmed that the government would not increase subsidized fuel prices this year, even though the global fuel price right now is in the range of US$ 80 per barrel.

“We will try not to increase them unless absolutely necessary,” said Darwin.

He explained that the Indonesia Crude Price (ICP) tolerated by the 2010 State Budget, if approved by the House of Representatives, was 10 percent of US$ 77 per barrel.

"If the ICP is still US$85, then the state budget is safe," he said.

The Director General of Oil and Natural Gas at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Evita Herawati Legowo said that the ICP price for all this year was around US$80 per barrel.

"The premium economic price is US$1 per liter (Rp9,300 against the US$)," she said.


Honeymoon tourism in Puncak

Theresia Sufa , The Jakarta Post, Bogor | Fri, 03/12/2010 11:20 AM

Love mountain: Many large villas dot the hills of North and South Tugu villages, in the mountainous Puncak area, Bogor, West Java. While the area is known as a weekend getaway for wealthy Indonesians, it is also a popular spot where Arab tourists marry Indonesian women unofficially for a short period of time.

Mention the villages of North Tugu and South Tugu in the Cisarua district, Bogor regency, and most people will promptly associate them with the Puncak tourist zone, Arab visitors, and contract-based or unregistered marriages locally called nikah siri.

The two neighboring villages, only separated by the Puncak highway, have become a money circulation center where tourists, mostly Arab visitors, exchange their dollars in 17 moneychangers to the average sum of US$1,000 per person a day. In North Tugu, during the Arab tourist visit season, the money exchanged in seven changers may reach Rp 7 billion ($700,000) a day.

May, June and July is the peak season for Arabs tourism. Not surprisingly, all local shops, salons, money changers, travel agencies, villas, rental cars and car wash stations use Arabic characters for their names and notices.

Then vice president Jusuf Kalla once jokingly said the Arab tourist arrivals for unregistered marriages would result in good-looking offsprings and future TV drama stars. At that time, Kalla suggested promoting Puncak for tourists from Middle East countries. He later retracted his statement, saying it had been misunderstood.

Arabs are renowned for coming to Puncak — which they refer to as Jabal (mountain) — for holidays and “dates” with Indonesian women.

In fact, transactions with prostitutes and contract marriage arrangements start as soon as the Arab visitors set foot in Jakarta International Airport.

Now the dangdut or jablai, the local term for working girls, not only include women from Cianjur, Cimahi and Garut, West Java, but also from Jakarta and Cengkareng, Tangerang.

While in previous years Puncak foreign visitors always used airport taxis, today rental car drivers from Tugu villages are picking up Arab tourists at the airport and helping them pick out girls they like. These rental cars are known as “Arab taxis.”

Ready to go: Several drivers sit in a car rental shop in North Tugu village. They are on standby, ready to take Arab tourists around or pick them up from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

“A driver introduced me to an Arab tourist at Soekarno-Hatta, who was attracted to me. He asked if I was ready to accompany the Arab to Puncak, I accepted the offer as I needed some money, just as long as he wouldn’t be rough with me,” Alia said.

The 30-year-old, who met The Jakarta Post at a small salon in a villa in Sampay, North Tugu village, said she worked in karaoke parlors in the area of Cengkareng, employed to keep guests “company”.

“I’ve a child with my Indonesian boyfriend but now he’s left me. So I’m serving karaoke guests in Cengkareng, who sometimes take me to Jakarta. I have to work as a prostitute to raise my child, but I make fairly large sums of money,” continued Alia, as she had her hair styled before a mirror.

Alia claimed she had been married to an Arab tourist but only for a short time.

“I do not want to be in another one of those contract marriages as I’ve gained no benefit and I don’t want to be bound by vague ties. I will accompany the Arab man I meet at the airport for the two months he’s here, and get paid Rp 400,000 a day for it.”

— Photos by JP/Theresia Sufa