INDONESIAN GOVT DELAYS FILM TAX REVIEW DECISION


If you have been waiting patiently for the past month, popcorn box in hand, to find out whether there will be any fresh Hollywood films to watch on the big screen anytime soon, you may have to keep on waiting.

Pemerintah pada hari Rabu gagal untuk keluar dengan keputusan dijanjikan pada pajak film impor, mengatakan perundingan belum menyimpulkan belum. The government on Wednesday failed to come out with a promised decision on the tax on imported films, saying negotiations hadn't concluded yet.

Menteri Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata Jero Wacik, yang sebelumnya berjanji bahwa Rabu akan menjadi hari ia akan mengungkapkan keputusan mengenai isu pajak yang telah menyebabkan importir film asing untuk menghentikan membawa judul baru, mengatakan skema belum diselesaikan. Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik, who had earlier promised that Wednesday would be the day he would reveal a decision on the tax issue that has led foreign film importers to stop bringing in new titles, said the scheme had yet to be finalized.

"Kita tidak bisa mengumumkan skema pajak film yang tepat namun karena masih sedang dibahas, dengan mempertimbangkan tiga peraturan, di bea cukai, pajak dan juga film," kata Wacik. “We cannot announce the exact film tax scheme yet because it is still being discussed, taking into consideration three regulations, on customs, tax and also films,” Wacik said.

Kebijakan tersebut menyebabkan anggota Motion Picture Association memutuskan untuk menghentikan ekspor film ke Indonesia. The policy in question led to members of the Motion Picture Association deciding to halt exports of films to Indonesia.

Inti dari masalah ini terletak dalam perhitungan nilai pabean film impor, yang sebelumnya didasarkan pada panjang fisik gulungan film, dengan setiap meter sebesar 43 sen. The core of the issue lies in the calculation of the customs value of imported films, which was previously based on the physical length of the film roll, with each meter valued at 43 cents. Tetapi pemerintah sekarang ingin royalti pajak di depan di bawah hukum adat tahun 2006 yang menetapkan bahwa royalti harus dimasukkan dalam pajak impor. But the government now wants to tax royalties up front under a 2006 customs law that stipulates that royalties should be included in the import tax.

Pemerintah, meskipun, telah mengirim pesan yang membingungkan. The government, though, has sent out mixed messages. Sedangkan Direktorat Jenderal Bea dan Cukai telah muncul tegas tentang pelaksanaan perhitungan royalti baru, Departemen Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata telah menyatakan bahwa pemerintah terbuka untuk negosiasi dengan importir film. While the Directorate General of Customs and Excise has appeared resolute about implementing the new royalty computation, the Culture and Tourism Ministry has maintained that the government was open to negotiations with film importers.

"Saya ingin memastikan bahwa film asing masih masuk ke Indonesia," Jero menegaskan kembali pada hari Rabu. “I want to make sure that foreign films are still entering Indonesia,” Jero reiterated on Wednesday. Dia tidak merinci pernyataan tersebut, bukan mengumumkan bahwa pajak impor yang terpisah pada peralatan produksi film akan dihapuskan untuk membantu produsen film Indonesia memberikan dorongan. He did not elaborate on the statement, instead announcing that a separate import tax on film production equipment would be scrapped to help give Indonesian film producers a boost.

Departemen Pariwisata telah sebelumnya mengatakan mendorong industri film lokal adalah alasan di balik kebijakan royalti baru. The Tourism Ministry has previously said boosting the local film industry was the rationale behind the new royalty policy.
"Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono menyarankan pengembangan industri film nasional dengan mengurangi pajak bagi para pembuat film Indonesia, jadi kita akan menerapkan pajak nol persen pada peralatan produksi film," kata Wacik. “President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono suggested developing the national film industry by reducing taxes for Indonesian filmmakers, so we are going to apply a zero percent tax on film production equipment,” Wacik said.

Ia mengatakan produksi film peralatan dan material selalu terdaftar sebagai barang mewah dan karena itu ditampar dengan pajak yang tinggi. He said film production equipment and materials have always been listed as luxury items and therefore were slapped with high taxes.

"Selain itu, kita akan mengurangi pajak nilai tambah ke tingkat minimum," katanya, tanpa menjelaskan lebih lanjut. “Other than that, we are going to reduce the value-added tax to a minimum level,” he said, without elaborating.
Wacik mengatakan tingkat produksi film saat ini negara tidak dalam posisi untuk memenuhi tuntutan 672 rumah pemutaran di seluruh bangsa. Wacik said the country's current film production levels were not in a position to meet the demands of the 672 screening houses across the nation.

"Itulah sebabnya film-film asing yang diperlukan, untuk memenuhi permintaan dari layar dan juga untuk menjadi referensi bagi para pembuat film Indonesia untuk meningkatkan kualitas film mereka," kata Wacik. “That is why foreign films are needed, to meet the demand of the screens and also to become references for Indonesian filmmakers to improve the quality of their films,” Wacik said. "Kami tidak ingin membuat kebijakan yang menyakitkan banyak orang, termasuk penggemar film Hollywood dan karyawan bioskop." “We do not want to create a policy that hurts many people, including Hollywood film fans and cinema employees.”

Wacik mengatakan rezim pajak film impor bertujuan untuk melindungi industri film nasional, sementara pada saat yang sama tidak merugikan impor film asing. Wacik said the tax regime on imported films was aimed at protecting the national film industry while at the same time not harming foreign film imports.

"Kami hanya ingin melihat film asing masuk ke Indonesia tanpa melanggar peraturan. “We just want to see foreign films enter Indonesia without violating the regulations. Sejauh ini, Direktorat Jenderal Pajak telah memutuskan skema pajak, namun belum menyelesaikan keputusan mereka, "katanya. So far, the Directorate General of Taxation has decided on a tax scheme, but it has yet to finalize their decision,” he said.

Dalam rangka membantu masyarakat meningkatkan nilai untuk film, Wacik mengatakan pihaknya mengusulkan untuk memiliki puluhan mobil proyeksi film yang tersedia pada tahun 2012 untuk melayani daerah tanpa bioskop. In order to help increase public assess to films, Wacik said his ministry proposed to have dozens of film projection cars available in 2012 to cater to areas without cinemas.

"Ide ini pada dasarnya untuk membawa film untuk semua warga negara Indonesia. “This idea is basically to bring films to all Indonesian citizens. Dengan cara itu, film akan menjadi bentuk hiburan tidak hanya dinikmati oleh orang kota tetapi juga oleh orang-orang dari kota-kota kecil atau desa-desa kecil "kata. Jero. In that way, films will be a form of entertainment not only enjoyed by city people but also by people from small towns or small villages.” Jero said.

INDONESIA STILL WAITING TO HEAR FINAL DECISION ON FOREIGN FILM TAX


Despite previously promising to announce the final foreign film tax on National Film Day today, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has postponed its announcement because the government institutions involved are yet to reach a conclusion on the matter.

Menteri Pariwisata Jero Wacik mengatakan, pelayanan, Departemen Keuangan dan Direktorat Jenderal Pajak masih finalisasi peraturan tentang film-film asing. Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said the ministry, Finance Ministry and Directorate General of Taxation were still finalizing the regulation on foreign films.

"Kita tidak bisa mengumumkan skema pajak film yang tepat namun karena masih sedang dibahas," kata Jero. “We cannot announce the exact film tax scheme yet because it is still being discussed,” Jero said.

"Peraturan tersebut bertujuan untuk melindungi industri film nasional tanpa merugikan impor film asing. “The regulation is aimed at protecting the national film industry without harming foreign film imports. Kami hanya ingin film-film asing untuk masuk ke Indonesia tanpa melanggar peraturan tersebut. We just want foreign films to enter Indonesia without violating the regulation. Sejauh ini Direktorat Jenderal Pajak telah memutuskan skema pajak, tetapi belum untuk menyelesaikan keputusan mereka. " So far the Directorate General of Taxation has decided on a tax scheme, but is yet to finalize their decision.”

Nilai pabean film impor sebelumnya didasarkan pada panjang fisik gulungan film, dengan setiap meter senilai 43 sen. The customs value of imported films was previously based on the physical length of the film roll, with each meter valued at 43 cents. Pemerintah sekarang ingin royalti pajak di depan di bawah hukum adat tahun 2006 yang menetapkan bahwa royalti harus dimasukkan dalam pajak impor. The government now wants to tax royalties up front under a 2006 customs law that stipulates that royalties should be included in the import tax.

Perhitungan pajak baru berada di belakang langkah baru-baru ini oleh Motion Picture Association untuk menghentikan ekspor film ke Indonesia. The new tax calculation is behind a recent move by the Motion Picture Association to halt the export of films to Indonesia.

CITIBANK MANAGER MONEY TO COMPANY ACCOUNT : POLICE


A Citibank Indonesia manager accused of embezzling up to Rp 17 billion ($2 million) siphoned customers' money to an account at another bank before re-transferring it to a company account, the police said on Wednesday.

"[Malinda Dee] dibantu oleh seorang teller di bank lain. “[Malinda Dee] was assisted by a teller at another bank. teller kemudian akan mentransfer uang untuk sebuah perusahaan, yang ternyata menjadi perusahaan MD sendiri, "juru bicara Kepolisian Nasional Insp. The teller would then transfer the money to a company, which turned out to be MD's own company,” the National Police spokesman Insp. Jenderal Anton Bachrul Alam mengatakan pada konferensi pers, seperti dikutip oleh kantor berita banyak pada hari Rabu. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said at a press conference, as quoted by numerous news agencies on Wednesday.

"Kami tidak bisa menyebutkan nama perusahaan karena penyelidikan masih berlangsung," kata Anton. “We can't mention the company's name because the investigation is still ongoing,” Anton said.

Polisi telah menyita aset, termasuk sebuah kendaraan sport Hummer dan apartemen mewah. Police have seized her assets, including a Hummer sport utility vehicle and luxury apartment. Dia sekarang ditahan polisi dan sedang dipertanyakan. She is now in police custody and is being questioned.

Setidaknya tiga Citibank pelanggan telah mengajukan keluhan dengan polisi, dengan indikasi bahwa jumlah digelapkan bisa jauh lebih tinggi daripada total dihitung sebelumnya sebesar Rp 17 miliar. At least three Citibank customers have lodged complaints with the police, with indications that the total amount embezzled could be much higher than the previously calculated total of Rp 17 billion.

Sementara juru bicara Kepolisian Insp. Meanwhile National Police spokesman Insp. Jenderal Anton Bachrul Alam mengatakan detektif menyelidiki kasus ini juga menangkap seorang kasir Citibank yang dicurigai sebagai kaki-tangan. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said detectives investigating the case had also arrested a Citibank teller suspected of being an accomplice.

Citibank pada hari Senin meyakinkan pelanggan bahwa dana mereka aman. Citibank on Monday assured customers that their funds were safe.

"Kami sepenuhnya bekerja sama dengan semua instansi terkait," kata Ditta Amahorseya, perusahaan bank urusan kepala, dalam sebuah pernyataan. “We are fully cooperating with all relevant authorities,” Ditta Amahorseya, the bank's corporate affairs chief, said in a statement.

GOVT STILL IN THE DARK ABOUT PATEK


The government was still unable to confirm on Thursday whether a suspected terrorist recently arrested in Pakistan was in fact Umar Patek, an Indonesian who is wanted here in connection with the 2002 Bali bombings.

"Kita sekarang silang informasi," kata Sutanto, Kepala Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN), di Istana Negara. “We are now crosschecking the information,” Sutanto, head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), said at the State Palace. "Foto identik, tetapi kita perlu memeriksa lebih." “The photo is identical, but we need to check more.”

Umar Patek, diduga anggota Jemaah Islamiyah, kelompok teroris regional yang terkait dengan Al-Qaeda, dilaporkan ditangkap di Pakistan awal tahun ini. Umar Patek, a suspected member of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda, was reportedly arrested in Pakistan earlier this year. Pemerintah mengatakan tim yang terdiri dari pejabat intelijen dan polisi telah dikirim ke Pakistan untuk menentukan identitas orang itu. The government says a team of intelligence officials and police officers has been sent to Pakistan to determine the identity of the man.

Namun Sutanto mengatakan meskipun ia adalah positif diidentifikasi, pemerintah masih akan tidak memiliki yurisdiksi langsung atas Patek. But Sutanto said even if he was positively identified, the government would still not have direct jurisdiction over Patek.

"Dia juga melanggar hukum di sana," katanya. “He also violated the law there,” he said. "Jadi kita harus menghormati hukum di Pakistan." “So we need to respect the law in Pakistan.”

Patek, kata dia, sudah melawan penangkapan dan melukai seorang pejabat keamanan Pakistan saat dibawa ke tahanan. Patek, he said, had resisted arrest and injured a Pakistani security official while being taken into custody.

Kapolri Jenderal Timur Pradopo, sementara itu, mengatakan mereka masih menunggu di DNA dan verifikasi sidik jari. National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, meanwhile, said they were still waiting on DNA and fingerprint verification.

"Sekali lagi, saya mengatakan ada belum ada konfirmasi dari identitasnya," katanya. “Once more, I say there has not yet been any confirmation of his identity,” he said.

Menteri Luar Negeri Marty Natalegawa mengatakan bahwa pemerintah telah sehingga informasi ini hanya menerima sekitar penangkapan dari media, dengan Islamabad belum memberikan pemberitahuan resmi. Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said the government had so far only received information about the arrest from the media, with Islamabad yet to provide official notification.

"Kita harus mengikuti semua tahapan, termasuk verifikasi identifikasi dan konfirmasi," katanya. “We need to follow all the stages, including identification verification and confirmation,” he said. "Dan kemudian aparat penegak hukum akan memutuskan apa yang harus dilakukan." “And then the law-enforcement officers will decide what to do.”

Djoko Suyanto, Menteri Koordinator Bidang Politik, hukum dan keamanan, mengatakan pemerintah masih diperlukan untuk menentukan apakah tersangka ditahan ternyata Patek. Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said the authorities still needed to determine if the detained suspect was in fact Patek. "Dikatakan bahwa ia telah ditangkap, tetapi kita perlu pergi ke sana untuk memastikan hal ini," katanya. “It is said that he has been arrested, but we need to go there to ensure this,” he said.

Pada hari Rabu, pejabat keamanan Pakistan, berbicara dengan syarat anonim karena sifat sensitif masalah ini, menegaskan penangkapan. On Wednesday, Pakistani security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, confirmed the arrest.

"CIA tipped kami off bahwa dia mungkin bepergian di sini," kata seorang pejabat, namun menekankan bahwa itu adalah "operasi semata-mata Pakistan." “The CIA tipped us off that he might be traveling here,” one official said, but stressed that it was a “solely Pakistani operation.”

Sutanto mengatakan bahwa istri Patek itu juga diyakini berada di Pakistan. Sutanto said Patek's wife was also believed to be in Pakistan. "Dia pergi ke Pakistan dengan Umar Patek," katanya. “She went to Pakistan with Umar Patek,” he said.

Dia mengatakan bahwa sejak Patek juga diduga melanggar hukum Pakistan, setiap keputusan oleh Islamabad pada apakah dia harus diekstradisi akan dihormati. He said that since Patek was also suspected of violating Pakistani law, any decision by Islamabad on whether he should be extradited would be respected.

"Kami akan memeriksa [apakah mungkin], karena ia juga melanggar hukum di sana dan kita harus menghormati itu," katanya. “We will check [whether it is possible], as he has also breached the law there and we should respect that,” he said.

Sementara itu, sumber di unit antiterorisme Kepolisian Nasional mengatakan kepada Globe Jakarta, Kamis bahwa meskipun tim telah tiba di Pakistan minggu lalu, itu belum dapat menentukan identitas tersangka. Meanwhile, a source at the National Police's antiterrorism unit told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that although a team had arrived in Pakistan last week, it had not yet been able to determine the suspect's identity.

"Kami masih menunggu konfirmasi. “We are still waiting for the confirmation. Tim terdiri dari peneliti kami dan anggota Badan Intelijen Negara, "kata sumber itu, menolak untuk mengkonfirmasi apakah tim Indonesia telah diberikan akses ke Patek. The team consists of our investigators and members of the State Intelligence Agency,” the source said, declining to confirm whether the Indonesian team had been given access to Patek.

PAKISTAN CONFIRMS BALI BOMBING SUSPECT ARREST


Pakistan's Foreign Ministry has confirmed the arrest of a man believed to be the main Indonesian suspect in the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali that killed 202 people.

Spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua told reporters Thursday that Indonesian consular officials will be allowed to visit the man to determine if he is indeed Umar Patek. She did not provide further details.

Pakistani security officials have said a CIA tip-off led to the arrest of Patek in Pakistan. They said he is being questioned and will eventually be given to the Indonesians. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The arrest of Patek, who has a $1 million American price tag on his head, ends a 10-year international manhunt.

NATO TAKES SOLE CONTROL OF LIBYA AIR OPERATION


NATO's chief said Thursday the alliance doesn't support US and British suggestions that the U.N. mandate for the international military operation in Libya allows arming rebels who are fighting Moammar Gadhafi's troops.

NATO assumed command of all air operations over Libya early Thursday, taking over from the US, which had been eager to be rid of that responsibility. NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Stockholm that NATO's position is that "we are there to protect the Libyan people, not to arm the people."

Britain and the US believe that existing U.N. Security Council resolutions on Libya could allow for foreign governments to arm the rebels, despite an arms embargo being in place.

The NATO secretary-general said he has "taken note of the ongoing discussions in a number of countries but as far as NATO is concerned ... we will focus on the enforcement of the arms embargo."

Fogh Rasmussen said the transition to its command was completed at 0600 GMT (2 a.m. EDT) Thursday, giving NATO sole responsibility for all aerial and naval operations in the region. A rebellion against Gadhafi's 42-year rule erupted last month, and international forces including the US, France and Britain stepped in March 19, just as it appeared Gadhafi was on the verge of crushing the revolt.

Gadhafi's forces were heavily bombarded, effectively turning the US-led air assaults into an unacknowledged aerial arm of the ragtag rebel force fighting the government's army.

The NATO operation - code named Unified Protector - includes enforcement the U.N. Security Council resolution mandating an arms embargo on Libya, enforcement of a no-fly zone and the protection of civilians from Gadhafi's troops.

The takeover comes at a sensitive moment in the war between the rebels and loyalist forces. On Wednesday, Gadhafi's ground troops recaptured a strategic oil town and moved within striking distance of another major eastern city, nearly reversing the gains rebels made since the international airstrikes began.

Asked where NATO is now that the rebels ae being pushed back, Fogh Rasmussen answered, "We are there. We are there to take action with the aim to protect civilians against any attack."

"And if and when our military commanders feel that civilians are threatened then they will take, asis stated in the U.N resolution, take all necessary measures to protect civilians against such attacks," he said.

The battlefield setbacks will likely increase calls for the international community to supply weapons to the lightly armed rebels.

The operation is being commanded by Canadian Lt. Gen. Chrles Bouchard from NATO's operational center in Naples, Italy. There was no word on how many airplanes and military staff would be involved, but officials say dozens of fighters, fighter-bombers, air refueling tankers, AWACS surveillance planes, maritime patrol aircraft and search-and-rescue helicopters will lkely be required for the operation.

They will be based at a string of NATO bases along the Mediterranean, including Italy, France, Greece and Turkey.

"The transfer of authority on air assets is now complete," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said. "Everything that has been offered to us has been hand over.

"NATO is the only one issuing operational orders for the international effort," she added.

NATO's governing body, the North Atlantic Council, has approved the alliance's operations for up to three months. That period could be extended if necessary, officials said.

While Western powers ae keeping up the pressure to force Gadhafi out with air strikes, diplomats are attempting to persuade him to leave without military force. A senior Ugandan official said a day after his country first offered Gadhafi refuge that the leader has not asked for political asylum in his country.

Security MinisterAmama Mbabazi, who was meeting with Russia's foreign minister in Moscow on Thursday, told reporters that Ugandan authorities have therefore not formally made an offer to him.

ATTACK ON LIBYA MOTIVATED BY OIL


Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) senior politician Hidayat Nur Wahid said Sunday the current attacks on Libya were based on interests to revive the European economy and to seize the nation’s oil.
“European countries have suffered from the economic recession. They need new resources to revive their economy,” he said, as quoted by kompas.com
He said that a war in Libya could bring new income to the European countries through weapon sales.
He also said that the U.S. and its allies were aiming to control Libya’s oil with the attacks.
PKS urged the government to demand that the United Nations Security Council issue a new resolution against the attacks.

RECALLING PRIOR AID BANTUL NOW EAGER TO HELP JAPAN

Civil servants in Bantul regency, Yogyakarta, have been asked to set aside a small portion of their wages to donate to the Japanese disaster relief effort as a token of their appreciation for Japan’s help after the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake.“We will encourage civil servants to voluntarily donate some of their salary and invite people to do the same to help the victims of the Japan disaster,” Bantul Regent Sri Suryawidati said Wednesday.
The regent said that the people of Bantul were eager to repay Japan, which was one of many countries that donated money in the wake of the devastating earthquake that killed almost 6,000 people and displaced 1.5 millions others in 2006.
She said the donations would be sent to Japan. “This is our way of showing our care and gratitude for what the Japanese did for us during our hard times,” she added.
“Japan is much richer than us. So, don’t look at how much we give but at how we respond to their suffering,” she said.
She said the regency administration would also organize for volunteers, including Indonesian Red Cross workers, to go to Japan to help in the relief effort.
Widodo, a resident of Sumberagung, Bambanglipuro, said Japan deserved Indonesia’s help because it had helped Bantul cope with its emergency and in the ensuing reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.
After the 2006 earthquake, Japanese citizens and their government sent logistics and emergency field hospitals to Bantul.
During the rehabilitation period Japan organized various livelihood programs, including facility and business building.
Japan also provided Rp 18 billion (US$2.07 million) worth of lavatories to 59 schools for the disabled in the affected regions across Yogyakarta province.
The disaster that hit Japan’s northeastern prefectures of Fukushima and Miyagi has moved not only the Bantul administration but also other community groups and institutions in the area.
Gadjah Mada University set up facilities for the Japanese students studying at the university to monitor the news from their hometowns and get in contact with their families and friends.
Hundreds of children in the province held a program called Jogja Kids Act for Japan, in which they wrote good-will messages on postcards addressed to Japanese children, and made origami to be exhibited at a museum in Osaka, Japan.
Bali also organized events to honor the people affected by the Japanese disaster.
World Silent Day (WSD) supporters created 1,000 individual origami in the form of birds, and presented them to Deputy Consul General of Japan in Denpasar Hirashima Shusaku during the commemoration of World Silent Day, which fell on March 21.
“The origami birds symbolize hope and peace as well as support for the Japanese people,” said the statement from WSD’s members.
“We express our deepest empathy and solidarity to the people of Japan in this difficult time. Our prayers and thoughts are with those who have suffered due to the tsunami and connected disasters in Japan, including the possible radiation disaster due to the accident at the nuclear power plant.”
Shusaku responded, “We are thank-ful for the solidarity and sympathy of the Balinese people toward the people of Japan who are currently suffering from tremendous disasters.”

SPY AGENCY EYES TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

The National Intelligence Agency (BIN) is planning to monitor accounts on social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook that they deem suspicious.

“We will of course monitor those that endanger, those that are inclined toward terror and subversion. But we will forward the data to the Communications and Information Technology Ministry,” BIN head Sutanto said Tuesday during a discussion about the draft of the intelligence bill with the House of Representatives’ Commission I.

He said that the decision to determine what steps should be taken to monitor an account lay with the Communications and Information Technology Ministry.

Sutanto added that “certain parties” could take advantage of social networking sites.

“We only provide early warnings to related institutions, for instance, with legal matters we hand them over to the police, smuggling to the customs and excise office. We want to strengthen the related departments,” he said.

Social networking sites are thriving in Indonesia where millions of people are now connected to the Internet. Such sites have been used to organize several online movements to criticize the government.

During the hearing, Sutanto asserted that the BIN would never become a super body because its operation and coordinating function was subject to law and close supervision by the lawmakers.

“BIN will never abuse its power because the agency and other institutions with intelligence functions are ‘confined’ by the laws on human rights, state secrets and free-flowing information and their day-to-day operations are closely supervised by the House. It can no longer function as it did during the New Order era, but it has to make adjustments to fit with the current democratic situation.”

He defended a much-criticized bill that would give the BIN the authority to plant bugs and carry out arrests, to bolster its effectiveness, but said that such operations would be conducted in compliance with the law and under close supervision of the House.

“BIN will not carry out arrests and interceptions arbitrarily because any arrest would be processed by law enforcers such as the police, attorneys and court judges and most interceptions will be conducted with approval from the court. In emergency cases, arresting may proceed without court approval,” he said.

The bill has drawn strong opposition from pro-human rights nongovernmental organizations, who are concerned that the law lends the BIN significant powers and indirectly allows intelligence agents to go against the human rights law in conducting their operations.

In anticipation of any power abuses committed by intelligence agents in the field, the House’s commission has proposed the establishment of a coordinating body so that all state institutions with an intelligence function cannot arbitrary abuse their power.

Ramadhan Pohan of the Democratic Party, Effendy Choirie, who was recently dismissed by the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Tri Tamtomo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said the bill had to define clearly the terms of dangers and threats because not all illegal activities could be interpreted as endangering the state and national interests.

Effendy asked that the bill’s deliberation be open to the public and for the commission to remain open to any input from the public. “All journalists should be given access to information and be informed about controversial issues discussed by the commission and the government,” he said.

Law and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar, who accompanied Sutanto at the bill’s deliberation, said the proposed coordinating body was not needed because all intelligence functions would be integrated under the coordination of the BIN and it would likely slow down the BIN’s operations.

“The integration will facilitate the BIN in conducting its operations and its coordinating function more effectively,” he said, adding that the proposed establishment of a small supervisory team from the House commission also was not necessary because the House could summon the BIN chief any time it wanted.

FM EXPRESSES CONTENT OVER VIOLENCE IN LIBYA

Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa has expressed concern over the violence in Libya - both the attacks by Gaddafi forces against the local people and the air assaults by coalition aircraft to implement the UN`s no fly zone resolution.

"I am concerned that the situation in Libya has led to a justification of violence as a tool to solve the problem there," Marty said here on Tuesday.

He said, in the end, the conflict in Libya should be resolved through political dialogue. "Looking at the violence there, it is hard to imagine that there will be conditions suitable to conduct such a dialogue," he said.

The minister called on the coalition forces, in executing its mandate from the UN Security Council, to make civilians` security in Libya their top priority.

"The implementation of the UN resolution about Libya must be in line with the spirit of protecting civilians and not create new problems," he said.

Earlier, US President Barack Obama has reiterated the US demand for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down, stressing that the goal of the international military operation in Libya was to protect its citizens.

Speaking during a joint news conference with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Santiago on Monday, Obama said the UN-sanctioned operation was aimed at averting "the humanitarian threat posed by Col. Gaddafi to his people."

The United States could not "simply stand by with empty words" while Gaddafi, who had "lost his legitimacy," was "carrying out murders of civilians" and "threatened more," the U.S. president said.

"It is U.S. policy that Gaddafi needs to go," he added.

Obama said the United States would soon hand responsibility over to allies who will maintain a no-fly zone over Libya, adding that this was "a matter of days," not weeks.

"Obviously, the situation is evolving on the ground, and how quickly this transfer takes place will be determined by the recommendation of our commanding officers," he said.

A military operation against Libya`s strongman Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for more than 40 years, began on Saturday. On Monday, Western forces launched a second wave of air strikes on Gaddafi`s positions under a UN resolution authorizing military action to protect Libyan civilians.

Libyan television has reported that at least 50 civilians have been killed and over 150 wounded in the UN strikes and that many health and education facilities have been destroyed.

REPORT: COST OF JAPAN DISASTER UP TO 300 $ BILLION

The economic newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun says the government estimates the economic toll from Japan's earthquake and tsunami could exceed $300 billion.

The newspaper said Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano will present the estimate of 15 trillion yen to 25 trillion yen ($185 billion to $300 billion) at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The March 11 magnitude-9.0 quake and tsunami devastated Japan's northeastern coast and triggered a crisis at a nuclear power plant.

Utilities have imposed power rationing, many factories remain closed and key rail lines are impassable.

YOGYA CARE FOR JAPAN THIS WEEKEND

Various arts and cultural communities in Yogyakarta will hold a series of programs on Saturday for the tsunami and earthquake victims in Japan.

The event will take place at the Yogyakarta Expo Center with the theme “Jogja Care for Japan - Let's Support and Learn from Japan”, organizing committee chair GKR Pembayun said Wednesday, kompas.com reported.

During the day, visitors can learn about origami, ikebana and Japanese martial arts, as well as enjoy Japanese cuisine. In the evening, pop band Sheila on 7, dancer Didik Nini Towok and mime Jemek Supardi will entertain the public.

Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengku Buwono X and the Japanese ambassador to Indonesia are scheduled to attend the event.

The Hoshizora and Atsuki communities, in cooperation with a cosplay community in Yogyakarta, collected money at schools and other places in the city on Wednesday.

Atsuki also organized the folding of 1,000 origami cranes and collected 1,000 signatures as a symbol of their solidarity with the Japanese.

DOLPHIN RESCUED FROM FIELD AFTER JAPAN TSUNAMI

Japanese animal rescue volunteers saved a porpoise from a rice field after it was washed two kilometers inland by the March 11 tsunami, the Asahi daily reported on Wednesday.

Ryo Taira and his group were in the devastated area around Sendai rescuing cats and dogs when they received a phone call that took them a while to comprehend, the mass-circulation daily said in an online report.

“There’s a dolphin in the rice fields!” said the caller, Masayuki Sato, 55, confusing the baby porpoise with the similar-looking sea mammal.

The volunteers rushed the site at nearby Ishinomaki, where they saw the animal -- a finless porpoise or “sunameli” (Neophocaena phocaenoides) -- wriggling in a flooded rice field.

They made a stretcher from car parts and a futon mattress they found in the tsunami wreckage, and tried to catch the porpoise with a net.

When the animal eluded them, Taira waded into the field in his rubber boots and picked it up in his arms, the report said.

With local aquariums damaged by the disaster, the volunteers decided to cover the animal in wet towels, put it in their car and return it to the sea.

Sato, the caller, later told the Asahi: “Immediately after I spotted it, I realized I could not ignore it. I had to do something. This was also a victim of the tsunami.”

He said he remembered seeing the animal rescuers’ phone number on a poster in a quake and tsunami evacuation centre.

Taira told the newspaper of his thoughts as he watched the animal swim off into the Pacific Ocean: “I don’t know if it will survive, but it’s much better than dying in a rice field, right? It’s good

SHOCK ARREST FOR MURDER OF JAKARTA TEENAGE GIRL

South Jakarta Police say they believe they have solved the mystery of who murdered attractive teenager Agnes Kharisma — the victim’s own mother.

In the early stages of the investigation, police announced they were wanting to speak to three people of interest, including two foreign boyfriends.

On Wednesday, however, South Jakarta Police Chief Sr. Comr. Gatot Eddy Pramono said Agnes’ mother, identified only as ‘M,’ her stepson, 27, and his friend, 31, had been arrested.

“Her testimony kept changing. In the end, she confessed that she killed [Agnes],” Gatot said.

He said M told police that she had been treated badly by her daughter and murdered her.

“She admitted that she was kicked out of Agnes’ house and she was upset at being treated like that by her own daughter.”

Agnes was found dead and semi-naked in a gutter on Jalan Joe in Jagakarsa on Feb. 13. She had marks around her neck.

Gatot said the accused had admitted to undressing the victim to make it appear that she had been raped.

The mother, M, allegedly paid her stepson and his friend Rp 2 million to take part in the murder.

corporate earning lift mood in lokal market


Rising commodity prices and higher profits reported by local companies lifted the Jakarta Composite Index to a 1.1 percent gain on Wednesday.

“The Jakarta Composite Index always gets some sort of adjustment from the global market movement, and earning reports that were expected by investors earlier this week are showing some significant increases. That led the index to rise today,” Hendri Effendi, a fundamental market analyst with Citi Pacific Sekuritas, told the Jakarta Globe.

The JCI advanced 38.50 points to close at 3,556.23. About 2.9 billion shares worth Rp 4.1 trillion ($471.5 million) changed hands. Gainers outnumbered decliners 134 to 70.

Aneka Tambang, the nation’s second-largest nickel producer, gained 1.2 percent to Rp 2,200. Its shares rose after the miner announced its net income had more than doubled to Rp 1.68 trillion in 2010, from Rp 604.3 billion the previous year.

Agung Podomoro Land, an integrated property developer, climbed 4.7 percent to Rp 335. The developer’s 2010 net income increased by almost 600 percent to Rp 241.9 billion last year, from Rp 35.1 billion the previous year.

Mitra Adiperkasa, one of the country’s largest retailers, advanced 2.9 percent to Rp 2,675. The company, which operates Starbucks and Burger King franchises, said its 2010 net income climbed 22.6 percent to Rp 201.1 billion from Rp 163.9 billion a year earlier.

Timah, the country’s largest tin producer, rose 3 percent to close at Rp 2,575. Tin for three-month delivery climbed 0.3 percent to $30,250 per ton as the London Metal Exchange closed on Tuesday.

Astra Agro Lestari, the nation’s largest listed plantation firm, gained 2.7 percent to Rp 22,600. Rubber for August-delivery gained 3 percent to 446.9 yen per kilogram ($5,524 per ton) on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange on Wednesday.

The rupiah was flat at 8,722 to the dollar as the local market closed on Wednesday, inching down from 8,721 on Tuesday, as rising oil prices and renewed concern about Europe’s debt crisis dampened demand for emerging-market assets.

“Investors are concerned about the developments in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa,” Prakriti Sofat, a Singapore-based economist at Barclays Capital, told Bloomberg.

“Escalating oil prices are fanning inflationary pressures and weighing on current-account balances in the region.”

US JET CRASHES IN LIBYA PILOT SAFE



A U.S. fighter jet crashed in Libya after an apparent equipment malfunction but both crewmembers were able to eject and were back in American hands with only minor injuries, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The F-15E Strike Eagle jet was conducting a mission Monday night against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses when it crashed at 2130 GMT (5:30 p.m. EDT), said Lt. Cmdr. Karin Burzynski, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Africa Command.

A spokesman for the Libyan opposition, Mohammed Ali, said the U.S. plane went down about 25 miles (40 kilometers) outside of the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city.

Britain's Telegraph newspaper published a series of photographs it said was the wreckage of the plane, showing people milling around the burned-out aircraft in a Libyan field.

One of the jet's airmen landed in a field of sheep after ejecting from the plane, then raised his hands and called out "OK, OK" to a crowd who had gathered, the Telegraph cited witness Younis Amruni, 27, as saying.

"I hugged him and said: 'Don't be scared, we are your friends,"' Amruni told the newspaper, adding that people then lined up to shake the airman's hand.

"We are so grateful to these men who are protecting the skies," he said. "We gave him juice and then the revolutionary military people took him away."

A Marine Corps Osprey search and rescue aircraft retrieved the main pilot, while the second crew member, a weapon systems officer who is also a pilot, was recovered by rebel forces and is now in American hands, a U.S. official said in Washington. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

Amruni said the Osprey fired shots to keep locals away, then swooped in and rescued the second crew member.

The two were separated after ejecting from the crippled jet at high altitude and drifting down to different locations, Africa Command spokesman Vince Crawley said, adding they sustained minor injuries.

The aircraft, based out of Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, was flying out of Italy's Aviano Air Base in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. The cause of the crash is being investigated.

The Air Force has said only that B-2, F-15 and F-16 fighters are participating in operations over Libya. The U.S. involvement in Libya is being run by Africa Command, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany.

The air campaign by U.S. and European militaries that began Saturday has rearranged the map in Libya and rescued rebels from what had appeared to be imminent defeat.

On Monday night, Libyan state TV said a new round of strikes had begun in the capital, Tripoli, marking the third night of bombardment.

But while the airstrikes can stop Gadhafi's troops from attacking rebel cities - in line with the U.N. mandate to protect civilians - the United States, at least, has appeared deeply reluctant to go beyond that toward actively helping the rebel cause to oust the Libyan leader.

PLANE SHOT DOWN OVEER REBEL-HELD CITY IN LIBYA





Libyan rebels shot down a warplane that was bombing their eastern stronghold Saturday as the opposition accused Moammar Gadhafi's government of defying calls for an immediate cease-fire.
An Associated Press reporter saw the plane go down in flames outside Benghazi early Saturday, sending up a black cloud of smoke after the city came under attack. The sound of artillery and crackling gunfire was heard in the distance.
Trying to outmaneuver Western military intervention, Gadhafi's government declared a cease-fire on Friday as the rebel uprising faltered against his artillery, tanks and warplanes. But the opposition said shells rained down well after the announcement and accused the Libyan leader of lying.
Wary of the cease-fire, Britain and France took the lead in plans to enforce a no-fly zone, sending British warplanes to the Mediterranean and announcing a crisis summit in Paris with the U.N. and Arab allies. In Washington, President Barack Obama ruled out the use of American ground troops but warned that the U.S., which has an array of naval and air forces in the region, would join in military action.
There should be no doubt about the Libyan leader's intentions "because he has made them clear," Obama said. "Just yesterday, speaking of the city of Benghazi, a city of roughly 700,000, he threatened 'we will have no mercy and no pity.' No mercy on his own citizens."
In a joint statement to Gadhafi late Friday, the United States, Britain and France - backed by unspecified Arab countries - said a cease-fire must begin "immediately" in Libya, the French presidential palace said.
The statement called on Gadhafi to end his troops' advance toward Benghazi, the rebel headquarters, and pull them out of the cities of Misrata, Ajdabiya and Zawiya, and called for the restoration of water, electricity and gas services in all areas. It said Libyans must be able to receive humanitarian aid or the "international community will make him suffer the consequences" with military action.
Parts of eastern Libya, where the once-confident rebels this week found their hold slipping, erupted into celebration at the passage of the U.N. resolution. But the timing and consequences of any international military action remained unclear.
Misrata, Libya's third-largest city and the last held by rebels in the west, came under sustained assault well after the cease-fire announcement, according to rebels and a doctor there. The doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals, said Gadhafi's snipers were on rooftops and his forces were searching homes for rebels.
"The shelling is continuing, and they are using flashlights to perform surgery. We don't have anesthetic to put our patients down," said the doctor, who counted 25 deaths since the morning.
Libya's deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaim, denied late Friday that government forces had violated the cease-fire and invited four nations to send observers to monitor compliance: Germany, China, Turkey and Malta.
"The cease-fire for us means no military operations whatsoever, big or small," he told reporters in Tripoli.
He said military forces were positioned outside Benghazi but that the government had no intention of sending them into the city.

FIRST WAVE OF ALLIED ASSOULT: 112 CRUISE MISSILES


U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses Saturday and a senior American defense official said it was believed substantial damage was inflicted.
In the strikes, 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya's air force.
While U.S. defense officials cautioned that it was too early to fully gauge the impact of the onslaught, the official said that given the precision targeting of the Navy's cruise missiles, they felt that Libya's air defenses suffered a good deal of damage.
The official spoke on grounds of anonymity because the ongoing mission.
In announcing the mission during a visit to Brazil, President Barack Obama said he was reluctant to resort to force but was convinced it was necessary to save the lives of civilians. He reiterated that he would not send American ground troops to Libya.
"We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy," he said in Brasilia.
While U.S. defense officials said it was too early to gauge the impact of the onslaught, one senior official said that given the precision targeting of the Navy's cruise missiles, they believe Libya's air defenses suffered a good deal of damage.
It was clear the U.S. intended to limit its role in the Libya intervention, focusing first on disabling or otherwise silencing Libyan air defenses, and then leaving it to European and perhaps Arab countries to enforce a no-fly zone over the North African nation.
Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, told reporters the cruise missile assault was the "leading edge" of a coalition campaign dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn. Its aim: prevent Moammar Gadhafi's forces from inflicting more violence on civilians -- particularly in and around the rebel stronghold of Benghazi -- and degrading the Libyan military's ability to contest a no-fly zone.
"This is not an outcome the U.S. or any of our partners sought," Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. "Our consensus was strong, and our resolve is clear. The people of Libya must be protected, and in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians our coalition is prepared to act, and to act with urgency."
A chief target of Saturday's cruise missile attack was Libya's SA-5 surface-to-air missiles, which are considered a moderate threat to some allied aircraft. Libya's overall air defenses are based on older Soviet technology but Gortney called them capable and a potential threat to allied aircraft.
Also targeted: early warning radars and unspecified communications facilities, Gortney said. The U.S. military has extensive recent experience in such combat missions; U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft repeatedly attacked Iraq's air defenses during the 1990s while enforcing a no-fly zone over Iraq's Kurdish north.
Cruise missiles are the weapon of first choice in such campaigns; they do not put pilots at risk, and they use navigational technologies that provide good precision.
The first Tomahawk cruise missiles struck at 3 p.m. EDT, Gortney said, after a one-hour flight from the U.S. and British vessels on station in the Mediterranean.
They were fired from five U.S. ships - the guided-missile destroyers USS Stout and USS Barry, and three submarines, USS Providence, USS Scranton and USS Florida.
The U.S. has at least 11 naval vessels in the Mediterranean, including three submarines, two destroyers, two amphibious warfare ships and the USS Mount Whitney, a command-and-control vessel that is the flagship of the Navy's 6th Fleet. Also in the area are Navy P-3 and EP-3 surveillance aircraft, officials said.
Gortney initially had said that it could take as long as 12 hours to assess the effectiveness of Saturday's strikes. Then a high-altitude Global Hawk unmanned surveillance plane would overfly the target areas to get a more precise view, the admiral said. He would not say how long the attacks on Libyan air defenses would last, but he stressed that Saturday's assault with cruise missiles was the first phase of a multi-stage mission.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was scheduled to fly to Russia on Saturday afternoon to begin a week-long overseas trip, postponed his departure for 24 hours. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates decided he should remain in Washington to monitor developments in Libya at the outset of U.S. strikes.
Gates had been skeptical of getting involved in Libya's civil war, telling Congress earlier this month that taking out Libya's air defenses was tantamount to war. Others have worried that the mission could put the U.S. on a slippery slope to deeper involvement in yet another Muslim country - on top of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attended an international conference in Paris that endorsed military action against Gadhafi, the U.S. and Britain kicked off their attacks.
At a news conference in Paris, Clinton said Gadhafi had left the world no choice but to intervene urgently and forcefully to protect further loss of civilian life.
"We have every reason to fear that, left unchecked, Gadhafi would commit unspeakable atrocities," she told reporters.
Clinton said there was no evidence that Gadhafi's forces were respecting an alleged cease-fire they proclaimed and the time for action was now.
"Our assessment is that the aggressive action by Gadhafi's forces continues in many parts of the country," she said. "We have seen no real effort on the part of the Gadhafi forces to abide by a cease-fire."
In addition to the three submarines and two destroyers, the U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean include two amphibious warships, the USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce, and a command-and-control ship, the USS Mount Whitney.

CHINA EXPRESSES REGRET OVER ALLIED STRIKE IN LIBYA


China expresses "regret" over punishing airstrikes by the U.S. and European nations against Libya to enforce a U.N. no-fly zone.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu says China "consistently disagrees with the use of force in international relations" and expressed "regret" over the Saturday attacks.
In a statement posted Sunday on the ministry's website, Jiang said China "hopes the situation in Libya resumes stability as soon as possible" in order to avoid escalation of a military conflict.
China was among five countries that abstained from Thursday's vote on the U.N. resolution to allow "all necessary measures" to stop Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. It was approved with the backing of the United States, France and Britain.

LIBYAN TV CLAIMS 48 KILLED IN US, EUROPEAN ATTACKS


The U.S. and European nations pounded Moammar Gadhafi's forces and air defenses with cruise missiles and airstrikes Saturday, launching the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war in support of an uprising that had seemed on the verge of defeat. Libyan state TV claimed 48 people had been killed in the attacks, but the report could not be independently verified.
The longtime Libyan leader vowed to defend his country from what he called "crusader aggression" and warned the involvement of international forces will subject the Mediterranean and North African region to danger and put civilians at risk.
The U.S. military said 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from American and British ships and submarines at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya's air force. French fighter jets fired the first salvos, carrying out several strikes in the rebel-held east.
British military spokesman Maj. Gen. John Lorimer said British fighter jets also had been used to bombard the North African Nation.
President Barack Obama said military action was not his first choice and reiterated that he would not send American ground troops to Libya.
"This is not an outcome the U.S. or any of our partners sought," Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. "We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy."
Thousands of regime supporters, meanwhile, packed into the sprawling Bab al-Aziziya military camp in Tripoli where Gadhafi lives to protect against attacks.
Anti-aircraft guns could be heard firing overnight in Tripoli.
The strikes, which were aimed at enforcing a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone, were a sharp escalation in the international effort to stop Gadhafi after weeks of pleading by the rebels who have seen early gains reversed as the regime unleashed the full force of its superior air power and weaponry.
Libyan TV quoted the armed forces command as saying 48 people were killed and 150 wounded in the allied assault. It said most of the casualties were children but gave no more details.

OBAMA: US LAUNCHES MILITARY ACTION AGAINST LIBYA

Brasilia. US President Barack Obama authorized limited military action against Libya on Saturday, saying Moammar Gadhafi's continued assault on his own people left the US and its international partners with no other choice. The Pentagon said 112 cruise missiles were launched from US and British ships and subs, hitting 20 targets.

Obama said military action was not his first choice.

"This is not an outcome the US or any of our partners sought," Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. "We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy."

A senior military official said the US launched air defenses Saturday with strikes along the Libyan coast that were launched by Navy vessels in the Mediterranean. The official said the assault would unfold in stages and target air defense installations around Tripoli, the capital, and a coastal area south of Benghazi, the rebel stronghold.

Obama declared once again that the United States would not send ground forces to Libya, though he said he is "deeply aware" of the risks of taking any military action.

Earlier in the day, Obama warned that the international community was prepared to act with urgency.

"Our consensus was strong, and our resolve is clear. The people of Libya must be protected, and in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians our coalition is prepared to act, and to act with urgency," Obama said.

As the military action was announced, French fighter jets swooped over Benghazi, the opposition stronghold that was stormed by Libyan government forces earlier Saturday, in defiance of a proclaimed cease-fire.

France, Britain and the United States had warned Gadhafi on Friday that they would resort to military means if he ignored the UN resolution demanding a cease-fire.

The United States has a host of forces and ships in the area, including submarines, destroyers, amphibious assault and landing ships.

FIGHTER PLANE SHOT DOWN AS QADHAFI FORCES PUSH INTO BENGHAZI


Benghazi, Libya. A fighter plane has been shot down in Benghazi, eastern Libya, according to witnesses, after Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi's forces pushed into the rebel-held city on Saturday, defying world demands for an immediate ceasefire.

"I saw the plane circle around, come out of the clouds, head towards an apparent target, and then it was hit and went straight down in flames and a huge billow of black smoke went up," Reuters correspondent Angus MacSwan said.

"It seems it was attacking the Benghazi military barracks."

Explosions shook Benghazi while a fighter jet was heard flying overhead, and residents said the eastern rebel stronghold was under attack from Qaddafi's forces.

"The explosions started about 2 a.m. Qaddafi's forces are advancing, we hear they're 20 kilometers from Benghazi," Faraj Ali, a resident, said.

"It's land-based fire. We saw one aircraft," he added.

Qaddafi's forces advance into Benghazi preempted an international meeting hosted by France on Saturday to discuss military intervention in Libya. The meeting will be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Arab leaders.

"We saw Qaddafi's tanks, cars and missile trucks less than five km away," a rebel fighter giving his name as Mohammed told Reuters.
Libya had declared a unilateral ceasefire on Friday after the U.N. Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya.

But the United States accused Qaddafi of defying international demands for an immediate ceasefire, and France's U.N. envoy predicted military action within hours of the Paris meeting on Libya on Saturday.

Libyan rebels said they were being forced to retreat by Qaddafi's forces. Black plumes of smoke could be seen on the road to the west of the city, a Reuters witness said.

"They were 60 kilometers away yesterday, today they are 20 kilometers away and they can be here in a half hour to 90 minutes," rebel fighter Khalid Ahmed told Reuters at a rebel base on the western edge of the city.

"We have no hope in the Western forces," Ahmed added as around him rebel forces pulled back from the advancing front-line.

Elsewhere in the city, rebels also reported skirmishes and strikes by Qaddafi forces.

"Fighter jets bombed the road to the airport and there's been an air strike on the Abu Hadi district on the outskirts," Mohammed Dwo, a hospital worker and a rebel supporter, told Reuters.

He was speaking at the scene of an apparent firefight between rebels and what they claimed were two mercenaries who had infiltrated the city and were driving in a car which they said contained a crate of hand grenades.

The two men, in civilian clothes, had been shot and killed and rebels produced blood-soaked identity papers they said showed them to be of Nigerian nationality.

"We were sitting here and we received gunfire from this vehicle then we opened fire and after that it crashed," rebel fighter Meri Dersi said.

Jamal bin Nour, a member of a neighborhood watch group, told Reuters he had received a call to say government forces were landing by boat, but it was impossible to confirm the information.

The city has been so rife with rumors and hearsay that it is virtually impossible to verify due to lack of communications.

A unilateral ceasefire declared on Friday by the Libyan government appeared to have done little to convince outside powers to hold off on plans for air strikes to force an end to an increasingly bloody civil war.

Within hours of President Barack Obama saying the terms of a U.N. resolution meant to end fighting in Libya were non-negotiable, his U.N. envoy, Susan Rice, asked by CNN whether Gaddafi was in violation of these terms, said: "Yes, he is." Gaddafi said there was no justification for the U.N. resolution.

"This is blatant colonialism. It does not have any justification. This will have serious consequences on the Mediterranean and on Europe," he said in comments reported by Al Jazeera television.

France, which along with Britain has been leading a drive for military intervention, will host a meeting on Saturday on Libya which will be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Arab leaders.

"So I guess that after this summit, I think that in the coming hours, I think we will go to launch the military intervention," the French ambassador to the United Nations ambassador Gerard Araud told BBC's Newsnight.

Obama made clear any military action would aim to change conditions across Libya -- rather than just in the rebel-held east -- by calling on Gaddafi's forces to pull back from the western cities of Zawiyah and Misrata as well as from the east.

"All attacks against civilians must stop," Obama said, a day after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing international military intervention.

"Gaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zawiyah, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

"Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable ... If Gaddafi does not comply ... the resolution will be enforced through military action." In Tripoli the government said there had been no bombing since it announced the ceasefire.

"We have had no bombardment of any kind since the ceasefire was declared," Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told journalists when asked about reports of continued government operations in Misrata and other parts of the country.

Kaim said Libya was asking China, Germany, Malta and Turkey to send observers to monitor its adherence to the ceasefire.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Friday everything was ready to launch military strikes in Libya.

The United States, after embarking on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had insisted it would participate in rather than lead any military action. Obama said the United States would not deploy ground troops in Libya.

ALLIES HIT LIBYA AS GADHAFI ATTACKS REBELS


Benghazi. French fighter jets fired the first shots at Moammar Gadhafi's troops, and the US military launched a missile attack against Libya's air defenses on Saturday, launching the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war in support of an uprising that had seemed on the verge of defeat.

Libyan state TV claimed the airstrikes hit civilian areas in Tripoli and fuel tanks supplying the besieged city of Misrata and surrounding areas.

Mohammed Ali, a spokesman for the exiled opposition group the Libyan Salvation Front, said the Libyan air force headquarters at the Mateiga air base in eastern Tripoli, and the Aviation Academy in Misrata had been targeted. Neither report could be independently confirmed.

Thousands of regime supporters, meanwhile, packed into the sprawling Bab al-Aziziya military camp in Tripoli where Gadhafi lives to protect against attacks.

In the hours before the no-fly zone over Libya went into effect, Gadhafi sent warplanes, tanks and troops into the eastern city of Benghazi, the rebel capital and first city to fall to the rebellion that began Feb. 15. Then the government attacks appeared to go silent.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after an emergency summit in Paris that French jets were already targeting Gadhafi's forces. The 22 participants in Saturday's summit agreed to do everything necessary to make Gadhafi respect a UN Security Council resolution Thursday demanding a cease-fire, Sarkozy said.

"Our consensus was strong, and our resolve is clear. The people of Libya must be protected, and in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians our coalition is prepared to act, and to act with urgency," President Barack Obama said in Brasilia, Brazil, on the first day of a three-country Latin American tour.

A senior US military official said later that US Navy vessels in the Mediterranean Sea had launched missiles aimed at sites along the Libyan coast.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive military operations, said the assault would unfold in stages and strike at air defense installations around Tripoli and a coastal area south of Benghazi.

The rebels, who have seen their advances into western Libya turn into a series of defeats, said they had hoped for more, sooner from the international community, after a day when crashing shells shook the buildings of Benghazi and Gadhafi's tanks rumbled through the university campus.

"People are disappointed, they haven't seen any action yet. The leadership understands some of the difficulties with procedures but when it comes to procedures versus human lives the choice is clear," said Essam Gheriani, a spokesman for the opposition. "People on the streets are saying where are the international forces? Is the international community waiting for the same crimes to be perpetrated on Benghazi has have been done by Gadhafi in the other cities?"

A doctor said 27 bodies had reached hospitals by midday. As night fell, though, the streets grew quiet.

Libyan state television showed Gadhafi supporters converging on the international airport and a military garrison in Tripoli, and the airport in Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, in an apparent attempt to deter bombing.

In an open letter, Gadhafi warned: "You will regret it if you dare to intervene in our country."

In Paris, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Gadhafi's government had lost all legitimacy and lied about the cease-fire.

"We have every reason to fear that left unchecked, Gadhafi will commit unspeakable atrocities," she said.

Saturday's emergency meeting involved 22 leaders and top officials, including Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the foreign ministers of Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. It was the largest international military action since the beginning of the Iraq war, launched almost exactly eight years ago.

Earlier Saturday, a plane was shot down over the outskirts of Benghazi, sending up a massive black cloud of smoke. An Associated Press reporter saw the plane go down in flames and heard the sound of artillery and crackling gunfire.

Before the plane went down, journalists heard what appeared to be airstrikes from it. Rebels cheered and celebrated at the crash, though the government denied a plane had gone down — or that any towns were shelled on Saturday.

The fighting galvanized the people of Benghazi, with young men collecting bottles to make gasoline bombs. Some residents dragged bed frames and metal scraps into the streets to make roadblocks.

"This city is a symbol of the revolution, it's where it started and where it will end if this city falls," said Gheriani.

But at Jalaa hospital, where the tile floors and walls were stained with blood, the toll was clear.

"There are more dead than injured," said Dr. Ahmed Radwan, an Egyptian who had been there helping for three weeks.

Jalaa's Dr. Gebreil Hewadi, a member of the rebel health committee, said city hospitals had received 27 bodies.

At a news conference in the capital, Tripoli, the government spokesman read letters from Gadhafi to Obama and others involved in the international effort.

"Libya is not yours. Libya is for the Libyans. The Security Council resolution is invalid," he said in the letter to Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

To Obama, the Libyan leader was slightly more conciliatory: "If you had found them taking over American cities with armed force, tell me what you would do."

In a joint statement to Gadhafi late Friday, the United States, Britain and France — backed by unspecified Arab countries — called on Gadhafi to end his troops' advance toward Benghazi and pull them out of the cities of Misrata, Ajdabiya and Zawiya. It also called for the restoration of water, electricity and gas services in all areas. It said Libyans must be able to receive humanitarian aid or the "international community will make him suffer the consequences" with military action.

Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said that Libyan officials had informed the UN and the Security Council that the government was abiding by the cease-fire it had announced Friday and called for a team of foreign observers to verify that.

"The nation is respecting all the commitments put on it by the international community," he said, leaving the podium before answering any questions about Benghazi.

In the course of the rebellion, Libya has gone from a once-promising economy with the largest proven oil reserves in Africa to a country in turmoil. The foreign workers that underpinned the oil industry have fled; production and exports have all but ground to a halt; and its currency is down 30 percent in just two weeks.

The oil minister, Shukri Ghanem, held a news conference calling on foreign oil companies to send back their workers. He said the government would honor all its contracts.

"We are still considering all our contracts and agreements with the oil companies valid," he said. "We hope from their part that they will honor their agreements, that they will send back their experts and their people to work."

He suggested future decisions on oil deals would favor countries that did not join the international force against Gadhafi: "A friend in need is a friend indeed," he told reporters in Tripoli.

Italy, which had been the main buyer for Libyan oil, offered the use of seven air and navy bases already housing US, NATO and Italian forces to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya.

Italy's defense minister, Ignazio La Russa, said Saturday that Italy wasn't just "renting out" its bases for others to use but was prepared to offer "moderate but determined" military support.

A French fighter jet fired Saturday on a Libyan military vehicle, the first reported offensive action in the international military operation against Gadhafi's forces, French Defense Ministry spokesman Thierry Burkhard said.

Warplanes from the United States, Canada, Denmark arrived at Italian air bases Saturday as part of an international military buildup. Germany backed the operation but isn't offering its own forces.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said after the summit: "The time for action has come, it needs to be urgent."

OLD PLAYERS COULD HAVE BEEN BEHIND JAKARTA BOMB TERROR

Head of National Antiterror Agency (BNPT) Ansyaad Mbai said the bomb terror that had continuously rocked Jakarta this week could be the work of "old players".
"Considering the raw materials and bomb detonator (used in the ’book bomb’), I think it could be the work of old players." he told participants of a seminar on the book bomb issue here Saturday.
Ansyaad Mbai argued that the bombs planted inside books the terrorists had sent to a number of important people this week had generally the same types as those ever made before. Therefore, the acts of terrorism through the book bombs were likely done by old players who had been recruited by "new operators", he said.
The book bomb terrorists could be from the old group of late Imam Samudra or a group which had nothing to do with the old one. The bomb makers could also be individuals who were inspired by the previous acts of terrorism, he said adding that the police had to reveal the book bomb cases and bring all perpetrators to court.
Ansyaad Mbai also warned the people of being more careful with and alert to any suspicious package sent by the people that they did not know. "If the packages are sent by unknown people and the contents are suspicious, please immediately report to the police," he said.
A series of bomb threats have rocked some parts of Indonesia this week. On Tuesday, four packages containing books with bombs planted in them were sent to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, activist of the Islam Liberal Network, Goris Mere, the chief of the National Anti-Narcotics Agency, Yapto Soeryosumarno, the chief of the Pancasila Youth organization, and Ahmad Dhani, a musician.
Then, a plastic bag containing a bomb was also found in Cibubur, Bogor district. A Bank Central Asia (BCA) building at Serpong Road, Banten Province, also received a bomb threat on Friday.
On Saturday, a church at Titi Papan Road in Medan, North Sumatran province, also received a bomb threat. However, a bomb planted in a book in Jakarta on Tuesday exploded and injured three people.
Indonesia has been fighting terrorist cells in the country since the 2002 Bali bombings that claimed 202 lives, including 88 Australian holiday makers. Two years before the terrorists attacked the resort island of Bali, Indonesia was rocked by the Christmas eve bombings in 2000.
The latest bombing incident occurred in July 2009. At that time, two suicide bombers simultaneously attacked two luxurious hotels in South Jakarta, killing several people.