Wednesday, February 15, 2006
  Info Scraps.

Those of us who comment on current affairs for a pastime, or even for a living, are rarely able to give a complete perspective. We are selective in our sources, dependent on our perspectives, prejudices and paymasters.

Although Jakartass takes a strong stance on several concerns, there are times when I know that my arguments may be missing a sliver of elucidation. Well, it's only fair that when I can fill those information gaps, I should.

For example, I wasn't aware that when I commented last Sunday on Jusuf Kalla's utterances it was his birthday!

Wow. serendipity or what?

What, actually, as the information is given on his website, a very boring site with just one vaguely interesting piece of information ~ his wife and five children are all called Jusuf Kalla.

His wife is Ny. Mufidah Jusuf Kalla and his children are, respectively, Muchlisa Jusuf Kalla, Muswirah Jusuf Kalla, Imelda Jusuf Kalla, Solichin Jusuf Kalla and Chaerani Jusuf Kalla.

His boss, popularly known as SBY, also has a website, launched this week. It's a much better looking and definitely more interesting site than JK's, not least because there's an English archive of speeches from the past year.

There's loads of info on how to contact SBY, but it's not very useful.

If you are one of the millions awaiting a response after sending a letter or SMS of complaint to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, don't take it personally.

Only a fraction of the nearly two million short message service complaints and thousands of letters sent to PO Box 9949 have been referred to related government institutions since the President launched the service for public feedback last June.

And, despite the President's order for follow-up, most institutions who have received complaints have dragged their feet in responding,

A total of 1,006 reports have been referred to ministries, institutions and local administrations from the 1.92 million SMS and 15,528 letters received as of Feb. 6, Sardan Marbun, the President's special staff for legal and corruption eradication and manager of PO Box 9949, said yesterday.

It's a reasonable website but I think he was conned on the setup costs. Did it really take Rp.84 million (US$9,032) to create the site? And how about Rp.28 million for the monthly rental of server? A bit steep isn't it?

Still, at least the serfs on the service aren't being overpaid: Rp.16 million per month for the salaries of a technician and five journalists seems positively miserly.

But those five journalists are probably as pleased as their colleagues that the House of Representatives are proposing to take the government's new Broadcasting Bill to the Supreme Court for review.

The government has insisted on enforcing the controversial regulations that many see as favoring the interests of broadcasting owners. The House, while it can publicly condemn the new laws, does not have the power to stop their implementation.

The new rules have set the stage for a confrontation between the government and major electronic media owners on one side and the commission and the House on the other.

This is an issue that Jakartass has looked at, as has Yosef Ardi.

Yes, we bloggers do our bit. We can be an alternative news source when the mainstream media isn't particularly interested. It's not just opinions and analysis that we offer.

There is also hard information which, if disseminated by the major news media, could change public perceptions and ally fears that lead to emotional and violent reactions.

I'm talking, of course, about the Cartoon Controversy. I suggested a week ago that I felt that malevolent forces with a hidden agenda were at work. After all, why should it have taken five months since their original publication in Denmark for the cartoons to inflame sensibilities?

It's all very well for the pious press and politicians in the USA and Britain to mouth platitudes about not offending Muslim sensibilities. But did they know that the cartoons were published in a major Egyptian newspaper, Al Fagr, last October, shortly after their original publication?

This information surfaced in two Egyptian blogs last week, Freedom for Egyptians and Ramblings of a Sandmonkey. Both bloggers are unhappy with the Egyptian regime, and both have scans of the newspaper carrying the cartoons.

And they seem to agree with me that something sinister is/was afoot.

This irrelevant outrage timing is but a sign that this violent response to the cartoons is politically-motivated by Muslim extremists in Europe and the so-called secular governments of the Middle East.

Or could this be a disinformation scam dreamt up by western governments in order to irritate those illiterate imams who can be expected to inflame the passions of their congregations? Then we can blame Islamic terrorists for the world's ills whilst we grab those oilfields in Iraq and Iran.

Far-fetched? Maybe not if you consider World Television (which) produces fake news. ... its efforts are entirely funded by the Foreign Office (FCO), which spent £340m on propaganda activities in the UK alone in 2001. A comprehensive post-9/11 overhaul means that this figure has probably markedly increased since then.

The British Satellite News website says it is "a free television news and features service". It looks like an ordinary news website, though its lack of copyright protection might raise some questions in alert journalists. Broadcasters can put BSN material "directly into daily news programmes".

According to World Television, by November 2003 BSN "news" was being "used regularly by 14 of the 17 Middle East countries". "Over 400 stations around the world receive BSN stories," it claims. "185 are regular users of the stories, including broadcasters in Russia, Germany, Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Australia."

The BSN contract with the Foreign Office was 'enhanced' in October last year. Interesting timing, especially as, according to the FCO, BSN has a particular but not exclusive focus on the Islamic and Arab world.


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