Russia jails ex-US marine Paul Whelan for 16 years over espionage

first_imgWhen asked about such an idea, the Russian Foreign Ministry told the RIA news agency it had proposed prisoner swaps to the United States many times but gave no further details.Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington to secure the release of two Russian nationals – convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot serving 20 years in the United States for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the country.Zherebenkov said Whelan had no objection to the idea of formally asking Russia to pardon him, something that if granted could secure his release.Whelan will serve his sentence in a maximum security prison, Moscow’s city court said. His trial was closed because authorities said it involved the discussion of state secrets.State prosecutors, who accused Whelan of having at least the rank of a US military intelligence colonel, had asked the court to sentence Whelan to 18 years in a maximum secuTopics : A Russian court found former US marine Paul Whelan guilty of spying for the United States on Monday and sentenced him to 16 years in jail, a move the US ambassador to Moscow called an egregious violation of human rights that would harm ties.Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained by agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service in a Moscow hotel room on Dec. 28, 2018.Russia says Whelan, 50, was caught red-handed with a computer flash drive containing classified information. Whelan, who pleaded not guilty, said he was set up in a sting and had thought the drive, given to him by a Russian acquaintance, contained holiday photos. US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan told reporters after the verdict that no evidence had been produced to prove Whelan’s guilt and demanded he be released immediately.”His conviction is a mockery of justice,” said Sullivan.He said the ruling would not have “a good influence” on already poor ties between Moscow and Washington, but that dialogue would continue.Vladimir Zherebenkov, Whelan’s lawyer, said his client had been told when detained that he would be part of a prisoner swap with a Russian national held in the United States.last_img read more

Governor allows 500 Chinese workers to enter Southeast Sulawesi after previous refusal

first_imgAll of the foreign workers would be subject to health protocol and put in quarantine before they were allowed to work on the project site, Ali said.”They’re working here to support investment in Southeast Sulawesi, so that our economy can recover after the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.Read also: Police slammed for arresting producer of video showing 49 Chinese workers arriving in KendariIn April, Ali and the Southeast Sulawesi Legislative Council (DPRD) had refused entry to the foreign workers, supposedly due to concerns over COVID-19 transmission. Southeast Sulawesi Governor Ali Mazi has allowed some 500 Chinese workers to work on nickel smelter projects in the province’s Konawe regency after previously blocking their entry.Ali said he had given permission to the Chinese workers after receiving orders from Jakarta.”Regional administrations should not contradict orders from the central government,” Ali told Kompas TV on Tuesday. The Chinese workers were hired by Chinese-backed mining company PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry (VDNI) and PT Obsidian Stainless Steel (OSS) to install 33 pieces of smelter equipment belonging to PT OSS in Southeast Sulawesi.The companies said they had to bring in the Chinese workers because of a lack of capable local workers and said that, once the equipment was ready, the company would hire 3,000 local workers.The foreign workers were scheduled to be in Indonesia for six months and return to their home country once the installation was complete.PT VDNI external affairs manager Indrayanto said the recruitment process for the local workers had already been completed.”If the 500 foreign workers from China were to be denied entry, then around 3,000 local workers were at risk of losing their jobs,” Indrayanto said on May 11.The foreign workers are expected to come to Konawe gradually in several batches. The first 146 people are scheduled to arrive on June 23. (nal)Topics :last_img read more

11 start-ups graduate Gojek’s business accelerator program

first_imgGojek’s new business accelerator program, Gojek Xcelerate, announced Wednesday that 11 new start-ups that directly served customers had graduated from its fourth batch.Gojek Xcelerate chief Yoanita Simanjuntak said the latest batch focused on direct-to-consumer (D2C) start-ups as consumers were increasingly seeking accessible products and services on digital platforms“Gojek has seen success in applying the D2C business model. We observed that the D2C model works well for start-ups, as it allows them to directly gather insights and feedback, and make timely adjustments for product improvement. This makes the D2C model very relevant,” she told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. She went on to say that the accelerator program alumni would have the opportunity to integrate with the Gojek ecosystem.The D2C start-ups are art supplies and tutorial start-up Bartega; fashion e-commerce and service GetGo, KEROKOO, Mena Indonesia, Sare Studio and WATT; as well as make-up companies TROPE cosmetics and Rollover Reaction.Read also: Talent procurement hampers tech start-ups in implementing AIOther start-ups are in the health and wellness sector, namely Elio and PURA, along with environmental service company Jejak.in. Elio founder Walton Hartanto said the digital men’s health company was looking for US$1 million to enhance product development and ramp up marketing, as the consumer health market was projected to reach $6 billion by 2024“We see that there is significant under-penetration of men seeking medical treatment for problems such as acne and hair loss, and this is what we want to address,” he said during the start-up demonstration day on Wednesday.The start-ups received training and mentorship from Gojek, its accelerator partner Digitaraya, McKinsey & Co, UBS Bank and Google Developers Launchpad since its launch in September.“Despite the uncertain economic projections, start-ups have the advantage to innovate and adapt quickly in responding to the changing economic climate,” said Digitaraya managing director Nicole Yap.Since it first launched in 2019, the program has trained 35 start-ups. The first batch of the accelerator program trained five start-ups that use machine learning, the second batch trained 10 start-ups with women founders and the third focused on nine Indonesian start-ups with “daily consumer innovation.” (eyc)Topics :last_img read more

Tearful Mexican cartel chief threatens government after mother’s detention

first_imgTopics : “I’m going to be a stone in your shoe. I’m going to blow up, you will see,” Yepez, wearing jeans with a rifle slung over his should, said in the video. Reuters was not able to independently verify the videos.Mexican security forces on Sunday said they arrested members of an organized crime group in a raid in Celeya, where they found a about 1 kilogram of a something resembling methamphetamine and 2 million pesos ($88,000).”Among the detainees are Maria “N”, Juana “N” and Rosalba “N”, alleged financial operators of the criminal organization,” Mexico’s security agencies said in a joint statement, without naming the Santa Rosa cartel or its leader.El Universal newspaper said Yepez’ mother, sister and girlfriend were all arrested.Yepez said he feared the authorities would frame his mother as one of the leaders of the cartel. “In my mother’s and my people name…I don’t fear you,” he said.Yepez also said he could form a coalition with the Sinaloa cartel or other crime groups in the north to fight Santa Rosa’s arch-foe Jalisco New Generation cartel, which has been on a bloody expansion drive to take over rivals’ territories across the country.  One of the most wanted Mexican cartel leaders threatened the government and his arch-foes in highly unusual video messages, including one where he can be seen fighting back tears after his mother was detained over the weekend.Jose “El Marro” Yepez, leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, that has been a thorn in the side of the President Andres Lopez Obrador’s government due to his gang’s industrial-scale siphoning of petroleum from state-run oil company Pemex.In one of the videos widely shared on social media, Yepez can be seen lashing out against the government after his mother was allegedly arrested in a major security operation in the city of Celeya in Mexico’s bloodiest state, Guanajuato.last_img read more

China launches political policing task force: State media

first_imgThe main responsibility of the taskforce is to safeguard China’s political system. “Political security is related to national safety and people’s well-being,” according to the notes.Referencing the fight against coronavirus, the notes said a government can only guarantee its people’s safety if it maintains a stable political environment.The taskforce is part of the “Build a Peaceful China” coordination group set up in April and led by Guo Shengkun, China’s top law enforcement official.It’s launch comes after China’s parliament passed national security legislation for Hong Kong at the end of June which punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.Hong Kong has been rocked by large, and sometimes violent, pro-democracy protests since mid-2019.The new security laws have been criticized by pro-democracy activists, lawyers and foreign governments who fear it would be used to stifle dissent and undermine freedoms the former British colony was promised when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.The day after the law came into effect, one man was arrested for carrying a Hong Kong independence flag.  China has launched a special taskforce to ramp up political policing to maintain social stability, said the official Procuratorial Daily, the latest move to rein in dissent over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus and protests in Hong Kong.The taskforce should “crack down on all kinds of infiltration, subversion, sabotage, violent terrorist activities, ethnic separatist activities, and extreme religious activities,” according to the undated notes from a meeting of the taskforce published in the paper on Monday.The news of the taskforce came on the same day that a Beijing law professor who has been an outspoken critic of China’s ruling Communist Party and President Xi Jinping was taken away by authorities. Topics :last_img read more

Indonesia farms see boom in online sales of sacrificial animals for Eid

first_imgMahir farm has sold 15,000 goats, sheep and cows via social media platforms ahead of the festival that starts on Friday, accounting for at least 80% of the season’s profit, Gaffar said.The animals at the farm are also certified as COVID-19 free and undergo daily health checks by a veterinarian, he said.Another farm owner in the area, Ahmad Risyad, said having online sales meant buyers did not have to visit his premises.And for one of his customers, buying livestock this way has clear advantages.”It’s safer to do the transaction online, and it is much cheaper,” said Reza Wibisono, 24, who received a delivery of sheep purchased online for 3.1 million rupiah ($214). As Indonesian Muslims prepare to celebrate the Eid al-Adha festival, farms are seeing a boom in online sales that limit the need for people to visit farms during the pandemic to buy the goats, sheep and cows traditionally sacrificed at this time.Health experts have been concerned about the risks of the coronavirus being spread during religious festivals in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country when people typically gather in mosques and homes, or travel to their home towns.Mahir Farm launched online sales of livestock in 2018 and this year the farm near Bogor, south of the capital Jakarta, has seen sales surge 50% compared to 2019. Topics :center_img “We know that people rarely go out or they are worried about interacting with others during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Azmi Abdul Gaffar, 22, who is one of the farm’s owners.Indonesia has reported more than 100,000 coronavirus cases and over 4,800 fatalities, the highest toll in East Asia.”That’s why this [selling online] is an answer to the problem,” said Gaffar.During Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world traditionally purchase livestock and after slaughter the meat is distributed to poorer members of the community.last_img read more

Virus toll surges in Madagascar, land of COVID ‘cure’

first_imgAmbulance sirens wail almost incessantly, the hospitals are swamped and the sports stadium has been turned into a 250-bed field hospital.Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, is grappling with a flood of coronavirus cases — a surge starkly at odds with the country’s flamboyant claim to have devised a herbal cure for COVID-19.On Tuesday, the impoverished Indian Ocean island passed the symbolic threshold of 10,000 recorded cases, 93 of which have been fatal.  Presidential push CVO was launched to the world in April by Rajoelina himself. “This herbal tea gives results in seven days,” he said, sipping a dose. “I will be the first to drink this today, in front of you, to show you that this product cures and does not kill.” The drink is prepared with artemisia, a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment. But there is no scientific evidence to back the claims — and a host of medical experts, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), have loudly warned of the risk of taking concoctions that have not been vetted for safety.Many in Madagascar clearly have doubts of their own.”To see whether CVO works, all you have do to is look at the number of cases,” said Mirato Rabearson Mahefamanana, a general practitioner. “Why are there so many right now?”Former education minister Paul Rabary told AFP he had scrupulously drunk CVO — and still caught the virus.”I consulted four private doctors, and none of them prescribed me with Covid-Organics.”Marcel Razafimahatratra, a sociologist, said: “If I am unfortunate enough to catch this disease, I prefer to be treated by doctors who don’t use CVO.” Today, the caseload is rising by between 300 and 400 each day, nearly triple or quadruple that of a few weeks ago.The authorities have several explanations for the phenomenon. One is that a rise in testing has uncovered more positive cases. A second is that infections are being driven by the capital’s dense population. And then there is a third explanation: that people fell sick because they failed to drink Covid-Organics — the concoction, also called CVO, that President Andry Rajoelina is controversially pitching as a cure for the virus.”The number of cases is rising more and more… We are only admitting the seriously ill,” the director of the city’s Andohotapenaka Hospital, Nasolotsiry Raveloson, told AFP. Health Minister Ahmad Ahmad sounded the alarm last week — but at a political cost to himself.He sent out a letter to international aid donors, saying the trend was now “very critical… with notable flare-ups in certain regions, particularly in Antananarivo.”Urgent needs included 337 ventilators, 2.3 million face masks, 697,000 pairs of gloves, 533,200 medical blouses as well as oxygen bottles.The government reacted tartly, describing the appeal as “a personal initiative”, taken “without consulting” either the government or Rajoelina.”It is clear that many crucial points in the management of this health crisis have escaped the vigilance of the minister of public health,” it said scathingly.center_img Less visible Yvonne Ravaoalisoa, a 60-year-old trader who lives with her two nieces, disagreed.”Since we’ve been taking CVO, none of us at home has fallen sick,” she said.Opposition MP Liantso Bina Andriamanjato is also a fan. “It’s a simple but effective remedy, which cured me,” he insisted.After its blockbuster introduction, CVO was sold in retail outlets, given to schoolchildren and distributed to health centers, although its visibility has discreetly declined in recent weeks.Madagascar dispatched the drink to several African countries, but doubt about its claims prevail there too.In the Republic of Congo, “test results point towards limited effectiveness,” said Alexis Elira Dokekias, a senior official in charge of coronavirus admissions.In Nigeria, the national drugs watchdog found no evidence of curative properties, according to the health ministry, and stocks of the drink sent by Madagascar remain in storage. Topics :last_img read more

Mount Sinabung erupts again after year of inactivity

first_imgAfter being inactive for more than a year, Mount Sinabung in Karo regency, North Sumatra erupted early on Saturday morning, spewing ash 2,000 meters into the air.The volcanic ash reached Berastagi, which is located around 30 kilometers from the volcano.Muhammad Nurul Asrori of the Sinabung observation post said the volcano began erupting at 1:58 a.m. and continued for one hour. He advised local residents and tourists to stay outside a 3-km radius from the mountain top. “We need to stay cautious because Mt. Sinabung’s status is still at level III, Siaga [Alert],” Nurul said.There were no casualties in the eruption, but several local residents living around the volcano were shocked by the event. The ash covered the residents’ plantation and killed crops.Read also: Threat of Mount Sinabung eruption threatens Lake Lau Kawar tourismA villager of Naman Teran, Pelin Depari, said residents living 5 km from the volcano could hear the mountain rumbling, although they could not see the eruption directly because Sinabung was covered by fog. Topics :center_img “It is traumatic because it has been a year since the last time Mt. Sinabung erupted,” said Pelin on Saturday.He added villagers were now cleaning their houses and fields of the volcanic ash.Karo Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) acting chairman Natanael Perangin-angin said the last time Sinabung erupted was in June 2019. “We thought we were safe. I hope there won’t be another eruption.”He added that at least four districts were affected by the eruption, namely Naman Teran, Merdeka, Berastagi and Dolat Rayat.Although the volcanic ash covered the districts, authorities said no residents had been displaced by the eruption, Natanael went on to say.Officials of the disaster agency, along with local military and police personnel, had distributed 1,500 masks and assisted locals in cleaning the volcanic ash. The local fire department dispatched five trucks to help the cleaning.Read also: Mountains rumbling: Five most active volcanoes in the archipelagoThe 2,460-meter Mt. Sinabung roared back to life in 2010 for the first time in 400 years. After another period of inactivity, it erupted once more in 2013 and has remained highly active since.Sixteen people died in one of Sinabung’s eruptions in 2014. Two years later, another eruption killed seven people.Apart from Mt. Sinabung, volcanic authorities have also placed Mt. Karangetang in North Sulawesi at alert level Siaga.Indonesia is home to about 130 volcanoes because of its position on the Ring of Fire, a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs. (kuk)last_img read more

Is this Neymar’s time in the Champions League? Injury-hit PSG hope so

first_imgMbappe a major doubt And how PSG — in the week they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the club’s founding — need him as coach Thomas Tuchel has all sorts of selection concerns elsewhere.His other superstar forward, Kylian Mbappe, is expected to be on the bench at best as he battles to shake off an ankle injury suffered in last month’s French Cup final against Saint-Etienne.Angel Di Maria is suspended, while the club’s all-time record goal-scorer, Edinson Cavani, left at the end of June when his contract expired. Ironically, he has been tipped to move to Lisbon to sign for Benfica.Perhaps most worryingly of all, midfield maestro Marco Verratti is out with a calf injury and reports claim the Italian would possibly not even be fit for the final should PSG make it.To top it all, Tuchel is on crutches too, the German coach breaking his fifth metatarsal and spraining his left ankle during a workout.But as long as Neymar is fit, PSG will remain hopeful of progressing to a semi-final next week against Atletico Madrid or RB Leipzig.”We’re a very strong team together, we’ve won four titles already this season, and I’m very happy to be the Paris Saint-Germain manager,” Tuchel told PSG TV this week. “It’s a gift for me.” That night Neymar scored the opener in a 2-0 win as they overturned a first-leg deficit.After the game, the Brazilian sat on a step high up in the stands at the Parc des Princes and cried tears of joy.After all, his first two seasons in Paris following his 222 million-euro ($264 million) transfer from Barcelona were marred by injuries at the worst possible moments.First there was the broken metatarsal that saw him miss the last 16, second leg against Real Madrid in 2018 as PSG were knocked out by the reigning champions. Paris Saint-Germain have once again been hit by a flood of injuries going into a crunch Champions League knockout tie, but this time Neymar is fit and seemingly ready to live up to his status as the world’s most expensive player.PSG face Atalanta in Lisbon on Wednesday in the first quarter-final of the ‘Final Eight’, after UEFA turned the latter stages of Europe’s elite club competition into something akin to a World Cup after the long coronavirus shutdown.There will be no fans in the Estadio da Luz, but the French champions coped just fine behind closed doors when they beat Borussia Dortmund in their last 16, second leg in March. And history repeated itself a year later, as another metatarsal injury forced him to miss the defeat against a mediocre Manchester United, when they contrived to throw away a 2-0 first-leg advantage.Since then, the much talked about move back to Barcelona has not happened and does not look likely to happen in the post-pandemic market.Wednesday’s game comes a day short of three years after Neymar made his debut for PSG following that stunning, 222 million euros transfer from Spain.Aged 28, Neymar now finally seems settled in Paris and is in fine shape to lead his team against Atalanta as they look to progress to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since the Qatari takeover in 2011.”I think I’m having my best time since I came to Paris,” he said in an interview with the club’s website last week. Topics :last_img read more

Wage subsidy may continue into next year, minister says

first_imgSome 15.7 million workers earning less than Rp 5 million (US$339.6) and who are registered with the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) will receive Rp 600,000 in monthly assistance over four months. The government has allocated Rp 37.7 trillion from the state budget for the program.The government started the cash aid disbursement last week as part of its latest measure to boost consumer spending. It had transferred the aid to 1.9 million workers as of Wednesday, according to Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah as reported by kompas.com.The government has allocated Rp 695.2 trillion in stimulus to jack up the economy, which is expected to shrink by 1.1 percent at worst or grow by 0.2 percent at best this year, marking the worst economic performance since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.The economy contracted 5.32 percent in the second quarter as household spending, which accounts for more than half of Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP), shrank by 5.51 percent.Despite the falling consumer spending, the government had only disbursed around 28 percent of the stimulus as of Sept. 2, five months after the start of the outbreak, as red tape and a lack of citizens’ data held up the release of the much-needed assistance.Topics : The government’s wage subsidy program may continue into next year as the government works to boost people’s purchasing power and stimulate consumer demand, State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir said on Wednesday.“We are hoping that if the program turns out to be effective, we can continue it [next year]. But the decision now is that the program will run until December,” he told reporters on Wednesday.The government will transfer the cash aid for millions of workers in September or October, as well as in November or December, he went on to say.last_img read more