Bali Nine: Australia recalls ambassador as world condemns executions

Indonesia’s execution of eight drug offenders on Wednesday drew international condemnation and swift diplomatic retaliation from Australia, which announced the recall of its envoy to Jakarta over the “cruel and unnecessary” killings.

Supporters of Mary Jane Veloso, a woman from the Phillipines who was also scheduled to die, celebrated her “miraculous” last-minute reprieve from the firing squad as Indonesian officials stressed her death had been “postponed, not cancelled”.

Along with Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, four Nigerian men, an Indonesian and a Brazilian were executed by firing squad at 12:30am, local time, on the Indonesian prison island of Nusa Kambangan.

The deaths of Chan and Sukumaran, convicted for their part in the so-called Bali Nine plot to export 8.3kg of heroin from Indonesia into Australia, came despite years of high-profile campaigns and high-level representations by Australian diplomats.

It can’t be ‘business as usual’ with Indonesia after Bali Nine executions, Tony Abbott says

The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, announced the recall of ambassador Paul Grigson from Jakarta on Wednesday morning.

“These executions are both cruel and unnecessary; cruel because both Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran spent some decade in jail before being executed, and unnecessary, because both of these young Australians were fully rehabilitated while in prison,” the prime minister said.

Ministerial contacts between the two countries had been suspended “and they will remain suspended for a period”, Abbott said.

“This is a dark moment in the relationship [but] I am confident that the relationship will be restored.”

Indonesia’s attorney general, HM Prasetyo, said the withdrawal of the ambassador would be only “momentary”.

“The Netherlands have done the same thing in the past. Brazil has done the same thing,” he said. “I think this is just a momentary reaction, and this will be settled within the diplomatic sphere. What we are doing is carrying out the court decision. Every case should have an end.”

Nigerians Raheem Agbaje Salami (also known as Jamiu Owolabi Abashin), Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Martin Anderson and Okwuduli Oyatanze were also executed on Wednesday morning, along with Indonesian Zainal Abidin.

Veloso was temporarily spared after the woman she claims recruited her as an unknowing drug courier handed herself into Philippines police on Tuesday, hours before Veloso was scheduled to die.

Prasetyo said on Wednesday her death sentence had been “postponed, not cancelled”, after the government acceded to a request by the Philippines to allow Veloso the chance to testify against the courier, Maria Kristina Sergio, and others in human trafficking cases.

“That was why, in the end, we decided to respect the legal process going on in the Philippines, postponing the execution,” he said.

But he maintained that Veloso’s attempt to smuggle heroin into the country would still be taken into account. “Even if she was discovered to be a victim of human trafficking, the fact is that she was caught bringing heroin into Indonesia. [Being a victim] will not erase Mary Jane’s criminal responsibility,” he said.

He refused to answer whether Veloso’s sentence would be reduced if she was discovered to be a victim, but said that she was allowed to file another case review.

Asked whether Indonesia would consider a moratorium on the death penalty, he replied he would “have to think about it”.

“Particularly if we relate that to Indonesians facing death penalty in other countries. Let’s say we implement a moratorium on death penalty, will other countries do the same? There’s no guarantee, right?” he said.

News of Veloso’s eleventh hour reprieve caught out newspapers in the Philippines, whose front pages on Wednesday carried dramatic headlines announcing her death.

“Farewell, Mary Jane”, read the black-themed front page of Manila’s best-selling Filipino-language tabloid Abante. The Philippine Daily Inquirer announced: “Death came before dawn”.

Others such as the tabloid Standard declared, “PNoy is to blame”, blaming the supposed “negligence” of the Philippines’ president, Benigno Aquino, for failing to save the woman whose case has gripped the country.

Details emerged of the final moments of the eight prisoners, who declined to be blindfolded and reportedly sang hymns including Amazing Grace as their executions loomed.

“They were praising their god,” Pastor de Vega, who was present on the island, told Fairfax Media. “It was breathtaking. This was the first time I witnessed someone so excited to meet their god.”

The Brazilian government expressed its “deep sadness” at the execution of one of its citizens, 42-year-old Rodrigo Gularte, which it called a “serious event” in bilateral relations.

Gularte, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was caught at Jakarta airport in 2004 with 6kg of cocaine hidden in a cavity in his surfboard.

He is the second Brazilian to be executed in Indonesia this year. In January, Marco Moreira was also shot by a firing squad after being convicted of drug trafficking.

The earlier execution prompted a diplomatic crisis. The Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, said she was “appalled and outraged” by what happened, recalled the country’s ambassador in Jakarta for consultations and refused to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador in Brasilia.

The latest killing would prompt a further review of relations, diplomats said. “Both governments had categorised their ties as strategic and important, but obviously the fact that so many presidential appeals and other efforts of the Brazilian government have failed to produce a satisfactory answer is something that should be evaluated,” ambassador Sérgio França Danese said.

The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran arrived at a funeral home in West Jakarta on Wednesday afternoon, local time, and will be flown to Australia on Friday.

In a short statement the families of the two Australians thanked supporters. “Today we lost Myuran and Andrew. Our sons, our brothers. In the 10 years since they were arrested they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none,” they said.

“They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful.”

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has announced his intention to clear the country’s death row of drug traffickers, insisting that narcotics are “a national emergency” that require an unforgiving response.

More than 30 foreigners are estimated to be on death row in Indonesia, but plans for a third round of executions have yet to be announced.

Nepal earthquake death toll expected to rise sharply

In the former royal city of Bhaktapur, dozens of traditional temples have been reduced to dirt and palaces have lost entire wings. Damage to the famous Unesco-listed durbar squares of the city has been extensive; the Dharahara tower, one of Nepal’s most famous landmarks, was reduced to rubble, killing up to 180 people and leaving up to 200 people trapped inside. Masonry lay scatted across the stone paving. An ornate dragon’s head lay next to a chipped effigy of a god.

Rescuers used their bare hands, with no protective gear or heat detectors, in their optimistic search for survivors. The narrow alleys would stop cranes, earthmovers or diggers reaching most of the houses that have collapsed, even if the aftershocks hadn’t scared workers out of even trying, said Shyam Adhikari, the local police chief.

“Anyway, there’s not much point. There are some entire families buried. We know because no one reported them missing. No one is alive under the rubble,” he told The Guardian.

Nepal earthquake: hundreds of people dead – live updates

Thousands of people in Kathmandu are bedding down outside tonight for fear of further aftershocks from the massive earthquake which struck Nepal this morning.

In the old city of Patan, which adjoins southern Kathmandu, local residents walk through the narrow streets clutching blankets, to gather in open areas and temple grounds.

“Everyone is scared of a repeat,” said Rabin Shakya, 29. “I rushed outside when I felt the earthquake. I was terrified. I’ve stayed outside all day.”

Shakya will spend the night in a local plant nursery alongside about 200 other residents of Tapahita Nyadhal.

Another local settling down for the night outdoors is 70 year old Laxmi Bhatacharja. “When the earthquake happened I ran outside without my shoes. My heart was racing. I’m staying here outside. I’m too afraid to go back indoors.”

In the neighbouring community of Nyakha Chowk around 1,500 residents have gathered around a Buddhist temple for the night. Nearby dinner is being cooked in two giant pots for the whole community. “Everyone has made a donation,” said Vidho Ratna.

Some of Patan’s historic buildings have fared less well. At least two ancient temples in the historic Patan Durbar Square have been completely destroyed. However, for the most part, Kathmandu has shown remarkable structural and communal resilience.

Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupts

The Calbuco volcano has erupted for the first time in 42 years, billowing a huge ash cloud over a sparsely populated, mountainous area in southern Chile.

Chile’s Onemi emergency office declared a red alert following the sudden eruption at around 18.00 local time (21.00 GMT), which occurred about 1,000km (625 miles) south of Santiago, the capital, near the tourist towns of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt.

An evacuation radius of 20km has been established, authorities said. As night fell, about 4,000 people had so far moved out of the area.

President Michelle Bachelet is scheduled to travel to the affected area on Thursday.

There are no reports of deaths, missing persons or injuries, interior minister Rodrigo Penailillo said. He urged residents to evacuate and warned of possible lahars, a mix of water and rock fragments that flow down a volcano’s slopes and river valleys.

“For us it was a surprise,” said Alejandro Verges, regional emergency director of the Los Lagos region, where the eruption took place. He said Calbuco was not under any special form of observation.

Smoke and lava spew from the Villarrica volcano on 22 April. Photograph: Reuters

Authorities said a large amount of ash had been observed, but no hot rocks or lava so far. Winds blowing northeast were pushing the column of ash and smoke toward Argentina.

Calbuco last erupted in 1972 and is considered one of the top three most potentially dangerous of Chile’s 90 active volcanoes.

“In this situation, with the eruption column so high, the main risk is that it collapses, falls due to gravity because of its own weight and causes a pyroclastic flow,” Gabriel Orozco, a vulcanologist with Chile’s geological and mining service, said on local TV.

A pyroclastic flow is a superheated current of gas and rock that can destroy nearly everything in its path and travel at speeds upwards of 200km to 300km per hour.

LATAM Airlines said it has canceled flights to and from neighbouring Puerto Montt, the area’s largest city, due to the presence of volcanic ash, which can potentially damage aircraft and make flying dangerous.

The education ministry canceled school in communities near the volcano.

Trevor Moffat, who lives in Ensenada, some 10km from the volcano, said he and his family fled when the volcano erupted. The 2,003m-tall Volcano Calbuco saw its last major eruption in 1961.

A view from Puerto Varas, southern Chile, of the eruption. Photograph: Giordana Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

“It sounded like a big tractor trailer passing by the road, rattling and shaking, guttural rumbling … We left everything there, grabbed my kid, my dog, got in the car with my wife,” Moffat said.

“All the neighbours were outside, a lot of young people crying. Armageddon type reaction,” said Canada-born Moffat, who was driving to nearby Puerto Varas.

Television pictures showed a spectacular mushroom-shaped column billowing into the sky with occasional lighting bolts shooting through. The eruption was seen in towns at least 50km away.

“There are a lot of people out in the streets, many heading to the gas stations to fill up on gas,” Derek Way, a resident of Puerto Varas, said. “A friend told me to fill everything we have with water.”

Chile, on the Pacific “Rim of Fire,” has the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world after Indonesia, including around 500 that are potentially active.

Villarica, one of South America’s most active volcanos, erupted in southern Chile last month, spewing heavy smoke into the air as lava surged down its slopes and forcing authorities to evacuate thousands of people. The 9,000 foot (2,847m) volcano sits above the small city of Pucon. Tourists flock there for outdoor activities, including hiking around the volcano.

“This is clearly a much larger eruption than the one we saw with the Villarica some weeks ago and therefore we need to take bigger and faster measures,” interior and security minister Rodrigo Penailillo said.

He said that the government was sending water in case resources were contaminated by ash and that police and military officers had been deployed to ensure safety and help with evacuations.

Children watch the Calbuco volcano erupt, from Puerto Varas, Chile. Photograph: Carlos F. Gutierrez/AP

Migrants cling on to debris in Rhodes Island boat tragedy

Another boat packed with migrants has run aground – this time off the Greek Island of Rhodes.

Footage has just emerged of people on the rocky shoreline helping to pull survivors out of the water

Italian PM Matteo Renzi has led calls for more European Union action on sea migration after the recent tragedies in Mediterranean waters.

Demanding a summit on the issue, Mr Renzi said trafficking was “a plague in our continent” and bemoaned the lack of European solidarity.

Yolande Knell reports.

700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck

A major rescue operation is under way in the Mediterranean after as many as 700 migrants are feared to have drowned just outside Libyan waters, in what could prove to be the worst disaster yet involving migrants being smuggled to Europe.

Italian coastguards have retrieved 49 survivors so far and about 20 bodies, according to the interior ministry, after the boat went down overnight about 60 miles (96km) off the Libyan coast and 120 miles (193km) south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, told the Guardian that up to 700 may remain in the water, according to numbers supplied by a survivor. The accident happened after the migrants saw a merchant ship in the distance and scrambled to attract its attention, over-balancing the fishing boat in which they were travelling.

Barbara Molinario, a spokeswoman for UNHCR in Rome, said: “They wanted to be rescued. They saw another ship. They were trying to make themselves known to it.”

If confirmed, Sunday morning’s accident means that at least 1,500 migrants have died so far in 2015 while on route to Europe – at least 30 times higher than last year’s equivalent figure, which was itself a record. It comes just days after 400 others drowned last week in a similar incident.

The deaths prompted fresh calls for Europe to reinstate full-scale search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Last October, the EU opted not to replace the Italian-run operation Mare Nostrum, which saved about 100,000 lives last year, amid fears that it was encouraging smugglers and migrants to organise more trips to Europe.

Pope Francis, an outspoken advocate for greater European-wide participation in rescue efforts, reiterated his call for action during mass on Sunday after learning of the latest disaster.

“They are men and women like us – our brothers seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war,” he said from St Peter’s Square.

Save the Children, one of the primary aid agencies working with migrants arriving in Italy, called on EU leaders to hold crisis talks in the next 48 hours and to resume search-and-rescue operations.

“It is time to put humanity before politics and immediately restart the rescue,” the organisation said in a statement. “Europe cannot look the other way while thousands die on our shores.”

Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, called for an emergency meeting at Palazzo Chigi with top government ministers, including foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni, on Sunday to discuss the crisis. The EU commission for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is due in Italy on Thursday.

But the huge rise in deaths in 2015, and the largely similar levels of arrivals in Italy, suggest the tactic has not worked. In Tripoli on Saturday, a smuggler told the Guardian he was not aware of Mare Nostrum in the first place, nor knew that it had finished.

“I’ve not heard of that. What is that – from 2009?” said the smuggler, who says his network organises 20 trips a week during the busy summer months. “Many people would go on the boats, even if they didn’t have any rescue operations.”

Migrants interviewed this week in Libya, the main launching pad for those seeking to reach Europe, say the demand will continue despite the deaths. Mohamed Abdallah, a 21-year-old from Darfur who fled war at home to find another war in Libya, said he could not stay in Libya, nor return to Sudan.

“There is a war in my country, there’s no security, no equality, no freedom,” Abdallah said. “But if I stay here, it’s just like my country … I need to go to Europe.”

In Misrata, a major Libyan port, coastguards told the Guardian that the smuggling trips would continue to rise because Libyan officials were woefully under-resourced.

In all of western Libya, the area where the people-smugglers operate, coastguards have just three operational boats. Another is broken, and four more are in Italy for repairs. Libyans say they have been told they will not be returned until after the conclusion of peace talks between the country’s two rival governments.

“There is a substantial increase this year,” said Captain Tawfik al-Skail, deputy head of the Misratan coastguard. “And come summer, with the better weather, if there isn’t immediate assistance and help from the EU, then there will be an overwhelming increase.”

Save the Children has been on the front lines in the migrant crisis, and said it was growing increasingly worried about an expected increase in children making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.

On Friday, it reported that nearly two dozen badly burned Eritreans had landed in Lampedusa that morning, the victims of a chemical fire in the Libyan factory where they were held before their departure.

According to witness accounts, five people, including a baby, died in the blast – which occurred after a gas canister exploded – and the rest of the victims were not brought to a hospital by the smugglers holding them. Instead, the injured were put on a ship bound for Italy a few days later. The victims were airlifted to hospitals across Sicily on their arrival.

The story was confirmed by UNHCR, which also interviewed survivors.

BBC to introduce product placement on world news channel

The BBC will turn to product placement on its global news channel for the first time as it seeks new ways to fund its worldwide news operations.

The move is likely to be controversial a year after the BBC was criticised by MPs and the National Union of Journalists for taking advertising and sponsorship on the World Service for the first time.

BBC World News will feature product placement on programmes such as technology, sport and travel documentaries, but not on its core news and current affairs output.

The BBC took on funding responsibilities for the BBC World Service on 1 April last year following the 2010 licence fee settlement.

The BBC has had an occasionally troubled history with sponsorship following a row over drinks brand Robinsons’ sponsorship of the 2007 Sports Personality of the Year.

It prompted a ban on the event’s sponsorship for the next eight years, lifted only earlier this year when the trust approved new arrangements allowing it to be sponsored by non-commercial charities, trusts or foundations.

The BBC increased investment in the World Service following big cuts in government funding, but it has indicated that further cost savings of £15m will be required. Its current annual spend of £245m is guaranteed until the end of 2016.

Its then chief, Peter Horrocks, said last year that commercial revenues could account for as much as 10% of the global news operation’s total budget (although initially only 2.5%).

Critics included the former World Service managing director John Tusa who dubbed it a “facile” rush to commercialism.

The BBC Trust approved product placement on BBC World News in February, in minutes of the meeting published on Thursday. There is already product placement on the BBC’s other commercial channels.

The extension, to include “sponsored references in sponsored programmes” on BBC World News, will be reviewed in 12 months. The change will take place with immediate effect.

A BBC Global News spokeswoman said: “BBC World News will trial product placement within a limited number of its non-news programmes for an initial period of a year, after which the policy will be reviewed.

“This change brings BBC World News in line with the BBC’s other commercial channels. Each proposal to reference a sponsor will be carefully considered at group director level on a case by case basis and will only be allowed when it is both editorially justified and in line with Ofcom’s guidelines.

“On those occasions it will be clearly marked with the universal product placement logo to ensure transparency for the audience.”

Media regulator Ofcom changed broadcasting rules in 2011 to allow product placement.

Japanese artist goes on trial over ‘vagina selfies’

A Japanese artist who made a kayak modelled on her vagina has denied obscenity charges at the start of her trial in a case that has drawn accusations of censorship and double standards.

Megumi Igarashi, who calls herself Rokudenashiko – which roughly translates as good-for-northing girl – was first arrested last July after distributing 3D scans of her genitalia to people in return for donations to her project to create the unusual artwork.

She was released days later following a public campaign supporting her right to freedom of expression. She was rearrested in December, however, and charged with obscenity.

The 43-year-old artist told the Tokyo district court on Wednesday that her “vagina selfies” were not obscene. “I do not dispute the facts [of the charge], but my artwork is not obscene,” Igarashi said, according to the Kyodo news agency.

Defence lawyers will argue that using the penal code to punish obscenity violates Igarashi’s constitutional right to freedom of expression. “Even if it were constitutional, the defendant’s work is not a precise reproduction of the vulva and does not cause sexual arousal,” Kyodo quoted a defence counsel for Igarashi as telling the court.

If found guilty, Igarashi could face up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of 2.5m yen (£14,200) for distributing obscene objects.

She is accused of distributing data to people in return for donations to the crowd-funding kayak project. The recipients could use the data to print 3D images of her genitalia.

Her vagina-inspired artworks were also exhibited at a sex toy shop in Tokyo, according to the indictment. The 44-year-old owner of the shop, Minori Watanabe, was arrested and ordered to pay a 300,000 yen fine.

Igarashi said she had sent the data to people who had donated more than 3,000 yen to the kayak project. She said she was prepared to take her case all the way to Japan’s supreme court if necessary.

Igarashi has made a name for herself with her Decoman “Decorated Vagina” series of sculptures. The titles of the works incorporate the word “man”, from manko, the Japanese slang for vagina.

Her case has attracted worldwide attention and criticism of the apparent double standards in the Japanese law’s treatment of sexual imagery. While the country has a thriving pornography industry, its obscenity laws ban the depiction of genitalia, which usually appear pixelated in images and videos.

Commentators pointed out the hypocrisy of her initial arrest, which came soon after Japanese authorities resisted pressure to ban pornographic images of children in manga comics and animated films.

Watanabe, who writes under the pseudonym Minori Kitahara, said at the time: “Japan is still a society where those who try to express women’s sexuality are suppressed, while men’s sexuality is overly tolerated.”

Igarashi has said she wants to use her art to “demystify” female genitalia in Japan, where 3D images of male genitalia draw thousands of visitors to the Kanamara penis festival at a Shinto shrine in the city of Kawasaki, near Tokyo, every April.

Life & Style: Summer decorating ideas


IM Blog Archive


By Leslie Linsley

Contributing Writer


(April 13, 2015)

I put this in the category of dreaming of summer. I know. I’m
rushing the season. But this is such a beautiful oasis in one of my
favorite Key West homes that I have to share. And while the palm
trees aren’t found on Nantucket, this casual porch scene could be


Bamboo furniture is hot again. I’m not sure if it ever went out of
style but it’s sturdy and light, carefree maintenance and good-looking. It can be left outdoors and if you cover the cushions with
Sunbrella or another weather-resistant fabric it’s pretty durable for
our weather.


The thing I like are the playful retro accessories. The homeowner
collects early sand pails with delightful illustrations on them. She
buys them on eBay. The old-time radio is another artifact from the
past, retrofitted to work.. Even the lamp made of bamboo spokes was
an eBay find. I love a table lamp in an outdoor room. It turns it into
a real living-room feeling.


The turquoise fabric and the white orchid add an element of elegance.
This little vignette would be simple to duplicate on your Nantucket
deck sans palm trees. Big pots of ferns or grassy plants around the
perimeter could be just as effective. Or even pots of white hydrangea


Another interesting material for summer furniture is sea grass. It’s
sturdy and good-looking. We don’t usually see this on Nantucket.


Much of the interior decorating in Key West is downright creative.
It has personality. There are not too many rules and lots of individuality. The
only consistent object that’s ubiquitous is the orchid. It’s kind
of like our hydrangea. If you don’t see the orchid (or hydrangeas)
on the table – well, the décor falls flat. I know it’s a cliché.
I get it. But I’m a victim like everyone else. When in Key West I
have orchids. If it’s June on Nantucket its gotta be a vase filled
with roses and if it’s August, OMG if you don’t have a few fat
blue blossoms in a clear glass vase. It just plain works! No sense
protesting against a sure thing. This year I’m going to get daring
and favor all white hydrangeas.



But you have to admit, this all-natural room has character. While
it’s in Key West a lot of the details translate to a Nantucket
home. Those carved wooden shell valances alone. You could make this
by painting a plain wood valance white and then covering it with
shells so they overlap each other. Use a glue gun to secure them.
What fun! I think I might try this in my powder room which I plan to
paint black. I’ve been planning to paint this room for ages. Last
year I had decided on Mole’s Breath, a gray color from Farrow
Ball. The year before it was celadon green. In the fall I thought
about sailcloth. After a winter in Key West I thought coral would be
good. But a friend of mine painted her bathroom black with pure white
glossy trim. It is so sensational! That is what I am going to do as
soon as I stop procrastinating.


I got a great e-mail from someone names “Jack”. He wants to know two
things: 1. What kind of iron do I use? and 2. How do you fold fitted
sheets? Any suggestions?


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