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Indonesia arrests ex-rebel turned governor in Aceh over graft

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Jakarta: Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency has arrested the governor of Aceh province over accusations that he took illegal fees for projects funded from more than $500 million of state funds, the latest high-profile target in a battle on graft.

 

Irawandi Yusuf, a former separatist rebel, became the first directly elected governor of the northwestern province after a peace deal to end years of conflict was signed with Jakarta in the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami.

Yusuf, who escaped from a jail where he had been serving a sentence for treason after it flooded during the tsunami, was reelected in 2017 for a second term as governor.

The province has a high level of autonomy and is the only Indonesian area to use Islamic law.

The governor had been named a suspect, along with two businessmen and another official, said agency official Basaria Panjaitan.

“There was an alleged corruption offence for receiving gifts or promises by Aceh’s governor, related to the allocation and distribution of Aceh’s special autonomy budget,” Panjaitan said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“This is really costing the people of Aceh,” she added, saying that a budget of 8 trillion rupiah ($555.17 million) had been allocated for projects such as road building, poverty eradication, education and health.

Nine people were initially detained in Aceh before the four suspects were flown to Jakarta, Febri Diansyah, a spokesman for Indonesia’s corruption eradication commission (KPK), said in a text message.

Reuters could not immediately reach Yusuf, who is being held in a KPK detention centre, or his lawyer, to seek comment.

The Antara state news agency cited Yusuf as denying he had received any illegal fees for infrastructure projects.

The KPK has jailed a string of high-ranking officials in the past decade, but Indonesians still have to contend with high levels of graft in many areas of their lives.

The southeast Asian nation placed 96th among 180 countries in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index last year, on par with neighbouring Thailand and Colombia.

The KPK will prosecute Yusuf under Indonesian law, rather than Islamic law, media quoted Panjaitan as saying.

Under Islamic law, Aceh has imposed public caning for crimes such as theft, gambling and adultery.

 

 

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International

Trump says he misspoke on Russia meddling

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Washington :United States President Donald Trump has said that he believes in the assessment of his intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in American elections in 2016 and his remarks contrary to this a day earlier in Helsinki was a case of misspeaking.
His statement came after he faced a barrage of criticism from his opponents and even from his own party for not backing the American intelligence community’s assessment during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies, always have. And I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying and I’ve said this many times, I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“Could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all, and people have seen that and they’ve seen that strongly. The House has already come out very strongly on that, a lot of people have come out strongly on that,” he said amidst a national political outrage over his remarks that the Russians did not interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.
At the Helsinki press conference, Trump had said “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia that meddled in the US election.
Trump, however, said that he misspoke.
“It should’ve been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case I wasn’t. A key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’. The sentence should have been I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t or why it wouldn’t be Russia,” he said.
“So just to repeat it, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’, and the sentence should have been — and I thought I would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video. The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia. Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.
“I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections,” said the US President.
Trump alleged that unlike previous administrations, his administration has and will continue to move aggressively to repeal any efforts and will stop and repel any efforts to interfere in US elections.
“We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018. We have a lot of power. As you know, President (Barack) Obama has given information just prior to the last election 2016, and they decided not to do anything about it. The reason they decided that was pretty obvious, cause oh, they thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.

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China sets up unmanned weather station in Tibet for help in ‘live-fire conflict’ with India

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BEIJING: China has set up an unmanned weather station in Tibet which can be used for military purpose in the event of an armed conflict with India, according to a report.
According to the state-run Global Times, this unmanned automatic weather observation station has been set up in the Yumai township in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region close to the Indian border.
The construction of the station started in early 2018, but it was severely hit due to extremely bad weather in the area. It was finally completed in June and the station transmitted its first weather data on June 22, the report said.
The unmanned weather station set up near Arunachal Pradesh will provide meteorological support to the Chinese military and assist operations of aircraft and missiles in case of “regional live-fire conflicts,” the report said.
The weather station in the Yumai township under Lhunze county of Shannan Prefecture in Tibet will eliminate a blind area of meteorological services, said the state-run Global Times report.
It will also provide strong meteorological support for national defence and further promote border development as well as military-civilian integration, according to a statement by the Tibet weather bureau.
“The station can observe six factors, including air temperature, air pressure, wind speed, wind direction, humidity and precipitation, with more accuracy than before,” Tashi Norbu, a technician in charge of the station, was quoted as saying by the state-run daily.
“Yumai is at the border. The station could provide data to help with transportation and communication in national defence. It could also offer support during regional live-fire conflicts,” Norbu said.
The unmanned weather station is significant since regional weather is an important factor that could influence the take-off and landing of aircraft and the launch of missiles during a battle, Song Zhongping, a military expert, was quoted as saying by the Global Times.
The small weather observation station could provide such information, the Chinese military expert said. Grasping accurate weather information could help seize good opportunities in the battles, Song added.
The Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China covered 3488-km which includes Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by China as part of southern Tibet.
Yumai, which is China’s smallest township in terms of population, has just nine households and 32 residents. It is located in the southern foothills of the Himalayas and affected by the monsoon climate of the Indian Ocean.
Yumai is connected to the outside world with a road which has been under construction since 2017.
More weather stations are likely to come when the construction of the road is complete, a Chinese official said.

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Scientists discover new ‘Meghalayan age’ in Earth’s history

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London:Geologists have classified the last 4,200 years as being a distinct Earth age and are calling it a new chapter — the “Meghalayan Age” — the onset of which was marked by a mega-drought that crushed a number of civilisations worldwide.
They divide up the 4.6-billion-year Earth existence into slices of time. Each slice corresponding to significant happenings — such as the break-up of continents, dramatic shifts in climate, and even the emergence of particular types of animals and plant life.
The current age in which we live is called the Holocene Epoch, which reflects everything that has happened over the past 11,700 years — since a dramatic warming kicked us out of the last ice age, the BBC reported.
But the Holocene itself can be subdivided, according to the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).
The ICS is the official keeper of geologic time and it proposed three stages be introduced to denote the epoch’s upper, middle and lower phases. These all record major climate events.
The Meghalayan, the youngest stage, runs from 4,200 years ago to 1950. It began with a destructive drought, whose effects lasted two centuries, and severely disrupted civilisations in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Yangtze River Valley, the BBC report added.
To win the classification, a slice of geological time generally has to reflect something whose effects were global in extent, and be associated with a rock or sediment type that is clear and unambiguous.
For the famous boundary 66 million years ago that marks the switch in period from the Cretaceous to Tertiary, this “golden spike” is represented by traces in sediments of the element iridium. This was spread across the planet in the debris scattered by the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
For the Meghalayan, the spike is epitomised in specific chemical signatures, the finest example of which can be seen in the layers of stalagmites on the floors of caves in the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya.
It was likely triggered by shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation, the ICS said.
The Meghalayan Age is unique among the many intervals of the geologic timescale. Its beginning coincides with a global cultural event produced by a global climatic event, said Stanley Finney, Professor at Long Beach State University and Secretary-General of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), which ratified the ICS proposal.
The middle phase of the Holocene will be referred to as the Northgrippian, and runs from 8,300 years ago up to the start of the Meghalayan. The onset for this age was an abrupt cooling, attributed to vast volumes of freshwater from melting glaciers in Canada running into the North Atlantic and disrupting ocean currents.
The oldest phase of the Holocene — the exit from the ice age — will be known as the Greenlandian.
The International Chronostratigraphic Chart, the famous diagram depicting the timeline for Earth’s history will be updated, the BBC reported.

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