Norsk Hydro’s Alunorte aluminum refining facility in Barcarena municipality, Pará state, has been accused by Brazilian authorities of contaminating the local waters of several communities with toxic waste that overflowed earlier this month from a holding basin.The firm denied the allegation, but has agreed to provide water to local residents, and is investigating.The government also accused the company of having a “clandestine pipeline to discharge untreated effluent,” an allegation that the Norwegian state firm has since admitted to being true.Officials have yet to determine the full cause, scope or consequence of the spill, while locals complain that this isn’t the first time. According to IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, Norsk Hydro has not paid fines set at R $17 million to date (US $5.27 million), after a toxic overflow in 2009 put the local Barcarena population at risk. Flooding at the Norske Hydro Alunorte facility following heavy rains in February. Photo by Instituo Evandro ChagasNorsk Hydro, a bauxite and aluminum mining and refining company also known as “Hydro” whose majority and controlling shareholder is the Norwegian government, has been accused by the Brazilian government of a toxic waste spill from holding basins at its Hydro Alunorte facility. The operation, located in Barcarena municipality, Pará state, near the mouth of the Amazon River, is the largest aluminum refining plant in the world. The company denies responsibility for any spill, but says it is cooperating fully with officials.Also last week, Norsk Hydro was accused of possessing a “clandestine pipeline to discharge untreated effluent” into a set of Muripi River Springs in a report by the Evandro Chagas Institute of Brazil’s Ministry of Health. The Norwegian mining giant at first denied this accusation, then admitted to it.“During one of the inspections, there was a pipeline with a small flow of reddish water in the refinery area,” the company says. “As requested by the authorities, the company is making the necessary investigations to identify the origin and nature of the material, as well as carrying out the immediate sealing of this pipeline.”The Norske Hydro Alunorte facility tailings basin that Brazilian officials say overflowed. Photo by Amazonia Real found on TwitterNorsk Hydro spill under investigationMajor storms on February 16 and 17 allegedly caused Norsk Hydro’s toxic holding basin to overflow, resulting in contamination of water used by Bom Futuro and several other nearby villages. Locals worry the accident could be similar to Brazil’s worst mining disaster ever, the Mariana spill on the Doces River in 2015.High levels of lead, aluminum, sodium and other toxins have been detected in drinking water up to two kilometers away from the Norsk Hydro property, according to the Ministry of Health. The pH recorded in the waters was 10, extremely alkaline, likely due to caustic soda used to process bauxite, the raw material for making aluminum.Pará State Attorney General Ricardo Negrini said in a Friday news conference there is “no doubt” a spill has occurred, but there is no data yet regarding the incident’s cause, size, or consequence.After initial complaints were made by community residents about the spill, Hydro sent a note to its customers describing the episode as “rumor,” stating that “there were no leaks or ruptures” in the waste holding basin.A satellite view of the Norske Hydro Alunorte facility as seen from space. Satellite image from Google Maps.The company also denied the spill on its website Sunday, saying that, “Internal and external inspections have not found proof of overflow and leakage from the bauxite residue deposits at Hydro Alunorte,” and that “The water has been collected, channeled and treated in the industrial effluent treatment station as normal.”However, the company told BBC Brazil “it is committed to correct any problem that may have been caused by its operation,” adding that “Hydro Alunorte informs that it is immediately providing potable water to the communities of Vila Nova and Bom Futuro, with the support of Civil Defense. The company undertakes to collaborate with the communities where the samples were collected by the Evandro Chagas Institute, to find permanent access solutions to drinking water, together with stakeholders.” The firm also said it would launch a task force to investigate.According to a health expert, “The [local] population uses these waters [near the storage basins] for recreation, consumption and capture of fish,” so that proximity could lead to contamination of soils and bio-accumulation. Results of tests for toxins done on hair and skin of those living near the spill won’t be available for several weeks.Asked about the clandestine pipeline described by the health ministry report and its denial of the spill, the company said it is waiting to receive an official report before commenting further.The Norwegian government stated that it would not be able to respond to questions submitted by Mongabay in a timely manner for this story.A view of the flooding around the Norske Hydro Alunorte operation in Barcarena municipality, Pará state, Brazil, during February 2018. Photo by Instituo Evandro ChagasBrazil responds to the spillLast Friday, the independent prosecutors of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and Pará state sent Norsk Hydro a document requesting immediate closure of the Norsk Hydro holding basin. According to the agencies, there is a risk of a breach of the waste pond, which has raised fears of a tragedy similar to that of Mariana in 2015, when a toxic mud wave buried the village of Bento Rodrigues and spread down the Doce River for 500 miles to the Atlantic Ocean.However, Luiz Jardim, a geographer and State University of Rio de Janeiro professor, told BBC Brazil that the dams at Mariana and Barcarena “have different natures,” with the Norsk Hydro holding basin presenting less of a threat. “In Mariana, the dam [was] much higher,” he said. But the slope is much less “in the Amazon, where there is a fluvial plain, so the force of the rupture, if it occurs, will be smaller. Barcarena [municipality does, however have the] potential for contamination by tailings.”In June of last year, BBC Brazil revealed that Hydro was the target of a series of denunciations by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) of Pará, as well as almost 2,000 lawsuits for contamination of rivers and communities in Barcarena.According to IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, the company has not paid fines set at R $17 million (US $5.27 million) to date, after a toxic overflow in 2009. According to IBAMA, the leak at that time put the local Barcarena population at risk and generated “significant destruction of biodiversity.”Memories of this previous trauma may have augmented concern expressed by local residents over the new spill. “This is not the first leak,” said Sandra Amorim, a resident of the São João quilombola (made up of former slave runaways), a kilometer from the Norsk Hydro holding basin. Back then, she said, “They first denied it, and after the report they said it had a leak. They promised that they [would] start distributing drinking mineral water and food. That’s not enough for us, we do not want crumbs, we want this situation solved.” She added that there are currently “people with itchy bodies and people getting sick” in the community. There is as yet no official confirmation of contamination of local residents by the Evandro Chagas Institute.The Brazilian Bar Association in Pará (OAB-PA) said that in response to the discovery of the illegal pipeline that they will request the removal of the Secretary of Environment of Pará, Thales Belo, and ask for judicial intervention in the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainability of Pará (SEMAS), the state’s environmental agency. “It caused special indignation [when the health ministry found] a ‘clandestine’ drain, whereby the company, with the acquiescence of SEMAS, drained tailings when the rains intensified,” said OAB-PA.An aerial view of the flooding at the Norske Hydro Alunorte compound. Photo by riotimesonline.com found on TwitterA region benefited and harmed by miningBarcarena, an estuarine region broken up by small rivers and islands, has seen its population grow at a rate three times faster than the rest of Brazil over the last 40 years, thanks to jobs generated by mining companies. But the province has experienced disorderly growth as it has become a major exporter of mineral commodities (bauxite, aluminum and kaolin), soy and cattle.“The history of environmental accidents in Barcarena is impressive, an average of one per year,” Attorney General Bruno Valente, who signed a public civil action filed in 2016, told the BBC last June. “Sludge overflow from Hydro’s tailings basin affected a number of communities in 2009, and to date there has never been a compensation or fine payment,” he said.Norwegian mining and processing companies are major producers of the world’s aluminum. The Norwegian government gained international headlines last year by publicly criticizing Brazil’s rising Amazon deforestation rate during a state visit by Brazilian President Michel Temer to Norway. In December, the Scandinavian country reduced by 60 percent to $42 million its annual contribution to Brazil after another annual rise in forest destruction.Some question whether the Norwegian government is acting fairly by causing environmental degradation in Brazil via its mining operations while simultaneously withholding funding due to its criticism of increased deforestation under the Temer government.Max Nathanson is a graduate student in the University of Oxford’s Department of International Development and a freelance photojournalist. See his work at maxnathanson.com and follow him on Twitter @TheMaxNathanson.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Glenn Scherer Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Amazon Dams, Amazon Destruction, Amazon Mining, Amazon People, Chemicals, Controversial, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corruption, Dams, Disasters, Environment, Environmental Crime, environmental justice, Environmental Law, Featured, Flooding, Green, Infrastructure, Law, Mining, Monitoring, Pollution, Rainforest Mining, Rivers, Saving The Amazon, Social Justice, Threats To The Amazon, Water Pollution
In the leadup to the release of the second installment of Indonesia for Sale, our series examining the corruption behind Indonesia’s deforestation and land-rights crisis, we are republishing the first article in the series, “The Palm Oil Fiefdom.” This is the fourth part of that article. The first part described a secret deal between the son of Darwan Ali, head of Indonesia’s Seruyan district, and Arif Rachmat, CEO of one of Indonesia’s largest palm oil companies. The second part gave Darwan’s backstory. The third part chronicled Seruyan’s plantation boom. The story can be read in full here.Indonesia for Sale is co-produced with The Gecko Project, an initiative of the UK-based investigations house Earthsight.Cover image for ‘The Palm Oil Fiefdom.’One day in early 2007, a car rolled up outside the home of Marianto Sumarto, the sawmill owner who had helped Darwan Ali get elected. He lived in Kuala Pembuang, a small coastal town that serves as Seruyan’s capital. Marianto recognized the man behind the wheel as a government official, as he rolled down the window to hand over a bundle of papers.“Take a look at these — there are some issues,” the man said flatly, before driving off.When Marianto examined the dossier, he found copies of plantation permits Darwan had given to a handful of companies, with a list of directors and company addresses. He immediately recognized the names of some of Darwan’s relatives. Among the addresses, he noted the Kuala Pembuang home of Darwan’s brother.“I don’t know why he brought me that data,” Marianto told us earlier this year, sitting outside the same house where he had met the whistleblower. “Maybe he cared about Seruyan and wanted to right the ship. Maybe he felt disappointed with how things were going and thought I’d be brave enough to do something about it.”Marianto examines an oil palm concession map at his home in Kuala Pembuang.A migrant from the island of Java, Marianto had arrived in Kalimantan in 1985, joining a friend’s shipping company before switching over to a Malaysian-run timber outfit. He learned on the fly, eventually striking out on his own as an “illegal logger,” as he put it.When Seruyan formed, Marianto became head of the PDIP party within the new district, at the same time that Darwan was leading the party in neighboring East Kotawaringin. He joined his campaign to become bupati, in 2003, and his brother-in-law became Darwan’s first deputy. But by the time he met the whistleblower, Marianto had soured on Darwan’s rule. He felt he had betrayed the hope that Seruyan would be developed for the benefit of its people. The plantations he had allowed to flood in were having the opposite effect. “That’s what I saw,” Marianto told us. “Maybe I’m the most critical person in this district.”Wiry and tall, Marianto had a bald head, a raspy voice and a grin that curled upward. When we met, two of his fingers were wrapped in gauze; he had damaged them in a car accident a few days earlier and lost both fingernails. His nickname, Codot — meaning “bat” — was a relic from his days in an amateur rock band in the 1980s. “I know just about everyone in Seruyan,” he declared. “And everyone in Seruyan knows of me.”A few days after the leak, Marianto and a friend made the four-hour drive to Sampit, to check out a collection of other addresses in the documents. He recognized the first as the home of Darwan’s son Ahmad Ruswandi. They had held campaign meetings there in the run-up to his selection as bupati. Once or twice Marianto had stayed the night. He knew the next one too. It belonged to Darwan’s tailor, who had made their PDIP party shirts.“The thing is, our country is a corrupt country,” Marianto told us. “A lot of public officials, they didn’t want to bring Seruyan to life. They just wanted to suck it dry.”***The Gecko Project and Mongabay pieced together the story behind Darwan’s licensing spree based on stock exchange filings, government permit databases and company deeds. More information and testimony were provided by Marianto, and a local activist named Nordin Abah, who separately investigated Darwan around the same time as Marianto. We corroborated our findings in interviews with people involved in several of the companies.The picture that emerges is an elaborate and coordinated scheme to establish shell companies in the names of Darwan’s relatives and cronies, endow them each with licenses for thousands of hectares of land, and then sell them on to some of the region’s biggest conglomerates. Those involved stood to profit to the tune of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of dollars. If the plan was carried through to completion, it would transform almost the entire southern stretch of the district, below the hilly interior, into one giant oil palm plantation. If Darwan had his way it would be possible drive 75 kilometers east to west and 220 kilometers south to north through a sea of palm.Licenses issued to companies owned by Darwan Ali’s family and cronies threatened to turn the southern reaches of Seruyan into one vast oil palm plantation.The scheme involved a cast of more than 20 people who appeared as directors or shareholders in the shell companies. They included members of Darwan’s family, associates from his time as head of a building contractors association, members of his election campaign team, and at least one person who said his name was used as a front.Darwan’s wife, Nina Rosita, was a shareholder in one. His daughter Iswanti, who would go on to serve as a provincial politician herself, was a director and shareholder in one, a shareholder in a second and director of a third. His daughter Rohana was also a director. His son Ruswandi got a more prominent role, as director of several companies and a shareholder in at least one more. His older brother Darlen had two companies, his younger brother Darwis one. It stretched into his extended family, through Darwan’s nephew and the husband of his niece.IswantiIn total, we identified 18 companies that connected to Darwan. Three were incorporated several years before he became bupati. That shows that his interest in large-scale oil palm predated his political career, but that it had stalled: The companies remained inactive until after he assumed office. Two more were formed in 2004, a year into his reign, and then in early 2005 the real flurry of activity began.Five companies cropped up in a two-day window in late January; another appeared two weeks later. We were able to determine the directors for all of the companies, and the shareholders for all but six.Almost all of the companies involved at least one of Darwan’s family as a shareholder. His name did not appear on any of them, but Marianto came to the view that he was coordinating the scheme. “They’re like pawns on a chessboard,” he said. “Darwan moves the pieces.”***Most of the names were used sparingly. But some cropped up more often than others, and these would provide important clues as to how the scheme functioned. The first was Vino Oktaviano, who was named as a shareholder in three companies set up on the same day, and a director in one.Nordin Abah, the local activist who carried out his own investigation of Darwan, happened to know Vino well; they sent their children to the same school and sometimes met for coffee. In the wake of the scandal around BEST Group and the national park, Nordin sought out the names behind Darwan’s permit spree. When he found Vino’s name, he challenged him over it. Vino told Nordin that Darwan had used his name, and that he had no actual role in the companies.“He thought it was normal, that nothing would come of it,” Nordin told us at the Palangkaraya office of his NGO, Save Our Borneo. “He just didn’t want to take any responsibility for it.”Nordin Abah sinks into the memory of his investigation during an interview in 2017.Vino worked as a building contractor, obtaining jobs from Darwan’s administration, and was a nephew of Darwan’s wife. The name of his boss, a confidante of Darwan’s from his days in a trade association, also appeared in company documents.“You’re going to go to jail Vino, if this thing blows up,” Nordin recalled telling him. “They made me do it, Din.” Vino replied. “I was tricked.”Where Marianto was a political insider, a mover and shaker in the logging game who soured on the man he once considered an ally, Nordin was a campaigner who hounded the palm oil companies ravaging Seruyan. He also had strong connections to and within the district. His uncle had served as the regional secretary, the highest position in its civil service. On Darwan’s trail, he set about tapping his own relatives in the bureaucracy for leads. He had managed to uncover most of the names involved, noting like Marianto that many of the addresses to which the companies were registered were either duds or owned by the bupati and his family.Nordin observed that a plantation company would need to operate a factory to mill the fruit, and Vino “couldn’t even run a tofu factory.” He was adamant that other people had been used in the same way. “You might be a teacher, you might be a journalist, you might be a contractor — there’s no way someone like that can get a permit for a plantation,” Nordin explained. “You don’t know how to develop an oil palm company. And you don’t have the money. It’s just for selling. The story is, I use your name to make a permit to sell to someone else.”The name Ambrin M Yusuf appeared as director of one of the companies. Nordin identified him as a confidante of Darwan from their time in the East Kotawaringin builders association. We tracked him down to his house in Kuala Pembuang, where he had recently returned after serving a jail term for his role as a bag man delivering cash in a local bribery scandal.Ambrin M Yusuf at his home in Kuala Pembuang.He admitted to being a political ally of Darwan, and said that intermediaries had asked him to put his name to the company. But he claimed, implausibly, that he had turned them down, and that the person named in the documents was another man with the same name. He nevertheless admitted that it was “normal” for a bupati to give permits to a family member.Yusuf and Vino’s stories suggested that cronies were being used as fronts, potentially to keep someone else’s name — the true beneficiary — off company documents. Nordin and Marianto believed that other people whose names appeared were more complicit. They both pointed to a man named Khaeruddin Hamdat as a central figure.Khaeruddin Hamdat alias DaengKhaeruddin appeared as director of three of the companies, though never a shareholder. Marianto, Nordin and others identified him as Darwan’s “adjutant.” It is a term commonly used in Indonesia for the person who serves variously as the advisor, right-hand man and fixer for important politicians. Known as Daeng, an affectionate term for a man from his home island of Sulawesi, Khaeruddin was only in his mid-30s by the time the companies were formed. Nordin described him variously as the “boss in Jakarta” and Darwan’s gatekeeper, meeting with palm oil executives in a posh hotel in the capital. (Khaeruddin declined to comment for this article.)“Because Darwan has to protect himself,” Nordin said. “No way he uses his own name to cut a deal.”Most of those involved in the scheme proved to be elusive or declined to comment when they got a sense of what we were asking questions about. But one of the few people we knew for sure where to find was Hamidhan Ijuh Biring. He had been jailed for yet another corruption scandal, and we tracked him down to a prison on a main boulevard in Palangkaraya, the provincial capital.Hamidhan’s name appeared as a director and shareholder of one of the 18 companies. He was also married to Darwan’s niece. He told us that he had set up the company and received a license from Darwan, but lacked the capital to develop a plantation. Darwan encouraged him to sell the company to a political ally in Jakarta who also served as director of an existing plantation company in the district. After the deal went through, Hamidhan received one portion of the payment but the second, he later discovered, went directly to Darwan. “It turns out Darwan was inside, telling him, ‘No need to pay Hamidhan’,” he said bitterly.Before his relationship with Darwan soured, Hamidhan was an insider, campaigning with him ahead of his 2008 reelection bid. He corroborated Nordin and Marianto’s claim that Khaeruddin Hamdat served as Darwan’s adjutant. He said that whenever he met the bupati, Khaeruddin was there with him.***The sequence of events after the shell companies were formed tells us two things. Firstly, that the intent was never for the founders to develop the plantations themselves. Between December 2004 and May 2005, Darwan gave 16 of the companies permits for plantations. By the end of 2005, at least nine of them had been sold on to major palm oil firms for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It seems implausible that a series of interconnected people, in many cases family members, would concurrently form companies only to decide that they lacked the capacity to run them. The sole explanation is that they were set up to be sold, endowed with assets from Darwan.Darwan Ali provided licenses to 18 companies owned by his family and cronies. Almost all of them were sold to Triputra Agro Persada and to the Kuok Group’s oil palm arm, PPB Oil Palms, which was later merged with Wilmar International. Source: Bursa Malaysia, Ditjen AHU, Nordin Abah, Marianto Sumarto and others.Secondly, it tells us there was a strong degree of coordination in the ways they were both formed and sold. Most of the companies were established within a small window of time, many of them just days apart. Several were also sold within a small period of time some months later.Eight of the shell companies were bought by the Kuoks in late 2005. Darwan’s family and cronies would eventually derive just under a million dollars from the deals with the Malaysian billionaires. In the scheme of things, it was a pittance, a fraction of what the Kuoks would earn from the plantations if they were developed. But in these deals, the shareholders linked to Darwan also kept a 5 percent stake in each of the companies, which could make each of them multimillionaires in their own right.The Kuok Group’s PPB Oil Palms announces a deal to buy 95 percent of a company owned by Darwan Ali’s brothers and a Seruyan politician, in October 2005. The company had been incorporated nine months earlier. Source: Malaysian stock exchange.The evidence Nordin obtained of the connection between Darwan’s family and the companies sold to the Kuoks was first outed in an international NGO’s report, in June 2007. It was just two weeks before two of the Kuok family companies were merged under the name Wilmar International, forming what is now possibly the world’s largest palm oil firm. Wilmar was already attracting heat for a litany of illegalities and social and environmental abuses across its plantations. The same year, a consortium of NGOs filed a complaint with the World Bank ombudsman, providing evidence, later upheld, that the institution had breached its own safeguards by financing the controversial firm.Though the allegations regarding Darwan’s licenses only received a brief mention in the NGO report, the whiff of a corruption scandal may have proved too much. In an email responding to questions for this article, Wilmar told us that it had decided to mothball the companies issued by Darwan after engaging with NGOs. It declined to mention when the decision was made, and continued to list the companies in its annual reports as late as 2010.Triputra Agro Persada, presided over by the young Arif Rachmat, bought seven companies from the bupati’s family. (Triputra declined several requests for an interview, directed to Arif Rachmat, although they did respond to some questions via email.) Four of these companies were later mothballed, but the other three, which were developed, linked directly to Darwan’s son Ruswandi. By the end of 2007, two of these companies had already begun clearing vast tracts of forest, peat soil and farmland. Triputra would emerge as one of the worst oil palm companies in Seruyan for people and the environment, in a crowded field.***Marianto was certain that Darwan had betrayed his constituents. By the time he met the whistleblower in early 2007, the plantation boom was fully underway, yet the average Seruyan resident remained worse off than in the era of logging. Now, the only option for many farmers was to earn a pitiful wage as a laborer on one of the estates. They were losing their farmland, the destruction of forests deprived them of food and other resources, and fishing grew increasingly difficult in polluted waters. Above all, the promise that the mega-plantations would be accompanied by smallholdings for the farmers, thereby cutting them in on the spoils, went undelivered.Marianto placed the blame for the problems that were emerging at Darwan’s door. The bupati had the power to revoke licenses as well as issue them; if he was motivated to do so, surely he could force the companies to deliver for Seruyan’s people? The leak confirmed that his motivations lay elsewhere.Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission, the KPK, born after the fall of Suharto, was emerging as a new force in the fight against graft by public officials. In June 2007, as Indonesia passed Malaysia to become the world’s top palm oil producer, Marianto packaged up his findings and traveled to Jakarta to deliver them to the agency in person.As 2007 drew to a close, delegates from around the world arrived on the Indonesian island of Bali for the 13th annual UN climate change conference. The fate of the earth’s forests was firmly on the agenda. But in the high rises of Jakarta a different game was afoot. Four days before the UN summit began, as Darwan Ali prepared to campaign for his first direct election, his son Ruswandi stepped into the Kadin Tower for his meeting with Arif Rachmat, to cut another deal with Triputra.***After Suharto resigned there was optimism that the grand larceny of his regime would recede. It was hoped that the rapid decentralization of authority would shift accountability for political decisions close to the people affected by them. But by 2008, the year of the first direct vote for bupati of Seruyan, it was increasingly clear that corruption had simply been moved down through the system.In a forthcoming book entitled Democracy for Sale, political scientists Ward Berenschot and Edward Aspinall write that Indonesia’s districts came to be dominated by “a netherworld of personalized political relationships and networks, secretive deal making, trading of favors, corruption, and a host of other informal and shadowy practices.”Elections were a cornerstone of this game. They had become hugely expensive affairs, with the cost proportionate to the amount of power over lucrative projects or natural resources the winner could dole out to supporters. For bupatis governing land- and forest-rich districts, they routinely ran into the millions of dollars. Berenschot, Aspinall and other academics who have studied Indonesian elections over the past two decades have identified a uniform, systematic process by which candidates spend their money.First, they pay off officials in their political party to ensure their selection as a candidate. Next, they recruit an extensive group of political activists and influential figures to join their “success team.” Then they provide cash for the success team to buy up the support of local powerbrokers — village chiefs, religious leaders and the heads of sports clubs who enjoy extensive influence in some places. These individuals in turn solicit the support of people within their own spheres of influence.Candidates organize expensive rallies and concerts, paying for popular singers to perform and handing out free meals. Finally, they engage in what is generally referred to as a “dawn attack,” organizing dozens of supporters to hit the streets and knock on doors, handing out money directly to voters to solicit their endorsements. This, Berenschot told us, is the costliest part for candidates. He estimated the price of running for bupati at between $1.2 million to $6 million.The funds come from local businesspeople and contractors, in the expectation of rewards if the candidate is successful. “After the election, it is payback time, and campaign donors and workers can expect to be rewarded by winning candidates with jobs, contracts, credit, projects and other benefits,” write Berenschot and Aspinall. But they also note that incumbents start from a position of advantage, having built up a “war chest — typically by engaging in various forms of corruption,” for the next election. “The exchange of favors and material benefits at every stage of the electoral cycle is so pervasive that it is apt to think of democracy in Indonesia as being for sale.”By his own admission, Hamidhan Ijuh Biring, the husband of Darwan’s niece who obtained a license from the bupati, played such a role in the 2008 campaign. At the time, Hamidhan told us, he already believed that Darwan had ripped him off. But he still thought he could be rewarded if the incumbent retained his seat, and he was in on the winning ticket.Hamidhan Ijuh BiringHamidhan told us he contributed $50,000 to Darwan’s campaign ahead of the election. He understood he was joining a cast of characters who had benefited personally from the bupati’s patronage: building contractors to whom Darwan had handed lucrative projects without public bidding, which was then legal; plantation bosses who could instruct their workers, many of them migrants from other islands, to vote for the incumbent. In the dawn attack, he said, cash worth $10 to $25 would be attached to the back of instant noodle packets and distributed to voters.In February 2008, Darwan won the election and resumed his position as bupati of Seruyan for a second five-year term. To celebrate, his brother Darlen organized a concert near the lake, featuring the singer Rhoma Irama, known as the King of Dangdut. No one had stood a chance of making a meaningful challenge to Darwan given the spending advantage provided by his hold on the bupati’s chair. He prevailed despite a brewing storm, as resentment of the plantations grew. The consequences of the land deals he presided over would soon become fully apparent to the people of his district.Read the entire the story here. And then follow Mongabay and The Gecko Project on Facebook (here and here in English; here and here in Indonesian) for updates on Indonesia for Sale. You can also visit The Gecko Project’s own site, in English or Indonesian. Read the article introducing the series here. Anonymous Companies, Climate Change Politics, Corporate Environmental Transgressors, Corruption, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Politics, Forestry, Forests, Palm Oil, Plantations, Threats To Rainforests, Transparency, Tropical Forests Article published by mongabayauthor Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored
The Property Finance Academy was initiated in response to the relatively small property industry skills base, with a limited pool of resources in South AfricaThe Nedbank Corporate Property Finance Academy held its eighth national graduation ceremony at its head offices in Sandton, Johannesburg, on 4 March 2014.Fourteen Nedbank employees from across the country were rewarded for successfully completing a 10-month, six-module programme featuring lectures and assignments on property finance, group property services, leasing, business banking, Nedbank retail, and the property industry.The academy was launched in February 2008 and has been running in partnership with Wits Enterprise, a University of the Witwatersrand initiative that oversees short courses to maintain professional standards. Wits Enterprise issued a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 6 certificate to each graduate. An NQF level 6 certification is equivalent to a three-year Bachelor’s degree or a higher diploma.Cebo Nikelo, a lending analyst at Nedbank and academy graduate, said, “I feel that this programme has helped me learn and understand more about the great opportunities which lie within our country’s property industry and with that knowledge I now have a better work ethic because of the skills I learnt.”“The Property Finance Academy was initiated in response to the relatively small property industry skills base, with a limited pool of resources in South Africa,” said managing executive at Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, Frank Berkeley.Currently the programme is only available to Nedbank employees in Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Cape Town; since its launch it has issued certificates to 853 graduates from the three regions.“We are proud to be part of a learning culture and pleased to be giving back to the South African property industry. This graduation ceremony is one of the many ways in which Nedbank aims to make a tangible contribution towards accelerating transformation at Nedbank and in the property industry,” said Berkeley.The academy was awarded the 2010 Financial Sector Award at the Skills Summit’s Achiever Awards, which recognises companies, government departments and organisations that have demonstrated a commitment to advancing their employees’ skills through effective training programmes.The academy is supported by the South African Property Owners Association, the representative body for commercial and industrial property in South Africa.For more information visit www.nedbank.co.za, or email Joanne Isaacs at email@example.com
9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Tags:#Cartoons#web 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Related Posts 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… A Great Consultant deane rimerman A new cartoon series called Agents of Digital is a compilation of stories that are all too familiar to those who work in Web development and Web marketing.ReadWriteWeb reader Fred Roed, co-founder of World Wide Creative, is behind this new series. He says it’s “a cartoon strip about a fictional digital marketing agency called Schitzen & Plumstead. The agency is run by two veterans of the internet.” Our five favorite cartoons poke fun at the all-too-familiar delusions of entrepreneurs, programmers, social networking enthusiasts and misguided clients. You can grab the comic’s feed here. For a feed of ReadWriteWeb’s very own cartoonist, Rob Cottingham, go here. And if you know of other aspiring Web tech cartoonist please let us know by posting links to them below. Client Misunderstandings Five Types of Programmers Social Networking Enthusiasts 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App Entrepreneurs
The former UAAP Best Setter gave nod to the contributions of the Thai coach to her career, saying that she wouldn’t be able to get to the level she’ isnow in if not for the hard practices Bundit subjected the Lady Eagles to.“I wouldn’t be where I am today if he didn’t coach us,” she said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutMichelle Morente also acknowledged multi-titled mentor’s huge part in helping her become one of the best opposite spikers in college today.“When I heard the news, I was saddened because we spent a lot of years together and I learned a lot from him,” she said. “I’m so thankful to him because I know I improved a lot as a player. I got my physical and mental toughness from him.” For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion LATEST STORIES Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA Middle blocker Aerieal Patnongon, meanwhile, will always be grateful for Bundit for helping them reaching greater heights, especially with their breakthrough title in 2014.“Coach Tai gave me one of my most memorable moments in college which is to be a part of Ateneo’s history as we won the school’s first women’s volleyball championship. Though we had a love-hate relationship, I still loved and respected him despite all the pains we had to endure during training, some of which even made me cry,” she said.With Bundit at the helm, Ateneo was able to go to four Finals appearances and win the UAAP titles in Seasons 76 and 77.He has reportedly been at odds with the current group of Lady Eagles, with the main issue stemming from the bench tactician’s hard practices.Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ had already stepped in to find a resolution to both parties, with the amiable priest saying that Bundit is still the team’s coach.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Coach Lue says Cavs’ losses ‘unacceptable’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Read Next Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netMembers of Ateneo’s back-to-back women’s volleyball champion teams couldn’t help but feel sad following the reported rift between coach Tai Bundit and the current Lady Eagles.“Of course, it’s sad because he really gave a lot for the school,” said setter Jia Morado.ADVERTISEMENT View comments
TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Nice chief Julien Fournier a target for Southamptonby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveNice chief Julien Fournier is a target for Southampton.The Daily Mail says Fournier, the general manager of French club Nice, is lined up to be the next director of football at Southampton.The vastly experienced 44-year-old who played a key role in persuading Patrick Vieira to become Nice’s manager, has worked previously as secretary general of Marseille and was the youngest president of Strasbourg.Southampton sacked Les Reed as vice-chairman in November and technical director Martin Hunter.The club’s Chinese owner, Gao Jisheng and his family, who took control in the summer of last year, have been working on a restructure of the club after appointing highly-rated Ralph Hasenhuttl as manager.
TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Fulham eyeing Leicester fullback Danny Simpsonby Paul Vegas9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveFulham are eyeing Leicester City fullback Danny Simpson.The Mirror says Cottagers boss Claudio Ranieri wants a Leicester reunion with Simpson to help Fulham ‘s battle against relegation.Ranieri led Leicester to the title in 2016 and is desperately looking to strengthen his squad in the January window.Leicester full back Simpson, 32, could be available to loan this month.
‘Approximate computing’ improves efficiency, saves energy This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. When the cryptocurrency mining company Hut 8 opened Canada’s largest bitcoin mining project outside Medicine Hat, Alta., environmentalists sounded the alarm. The plant consumes 10 times more electricity, largely produced by a natural gas-fired power plant, than any other facility in the city. Globally, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the information, communication and technology (ICT) sectors are forecast to reach the equivalent of 1.4 gigatonnes (billion metric tonnes) of carbon dioxide annually by 2020. That’s 2.7 per cent of global GHGs and roughly double Canada’s total annual greenhouse gas output.By designing energy-efficient computer processors we could reduce energy consumption, and we could reduce GHG emissions in places where electricity comes from fossil fuels. As a computer engineer specialized in computer architecture and arithmetic, my colleagues and I are confident these positive effects can be achieved with almost no impact on computer performance or user convenience. Powerful connectionsThe Internet of Things (IoT) —made up of the connected computing devices embedded into everyday objects —is already delivering positive economic and social impacts, transforming our societies, the environment and our food supply chains for the better. These devices are monitoring and reducing air pollution, improving water conservation and feeding a hungry world. They’re also making our homes and businesses more efficient, controlling thermostats, lighting, water heaters, refrigerators and washing machines. With the number of connected devices set to top 11 billion —not including computers and phones —in 2018, IoT will create big data requiring huge computations. Citation: How to make computers faster and climate friendly (2018, September 26) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-faster-climate-friendly.html Your smartphone is far more powerful than the NASA computers that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969, but it is also an energy hog. In computing, energy use is often considered a secondary problem to speed and storage, but with the rate and direction of technological advancement, it is becoming a growing environmental concern. Provided by The Conversation Making computation more energy efficient would save money and reduce energy use. It would also allow the batteries that provide power in computing systems to be smaller or run longer. In addition, calculations could run faster, so computing systems would generate less heat.Approximate computingToday’s computing systems are designed to deliver exact solutions at a high energy cost. But many error-resilient algorithms like image, sound and video processing, data mining, sensor data analysis and deep learning do not require exact answers.This unnecessary accuracy and excessive energy expenditure is wasteful. There are limitations to human perception —we don’t always need 100 per cent accuracy to be satisfied with the outcome. For example, minor changes in the quality of images and videos often go unnoticed. Computing systems can take advantage of these limitations to reduce energy use without having a negative impact on the user experience. “Approximate computing” is a computation technique that sometimes returns inaccurate results, making it useful for applications where an approximate result is sufficient. At the University of Saskatchewan’s computer engineering lab, we are proposing to design and implement these approximate computing solutions, so that they can optimally trade off accuracy and efficiency across software and hardware. When we applied these solutions to a core computing component of the processor, we found that power consumption dropped by more than 50 per cent with almost no drop in performance.Flexible precisionNowadays, most personal computers contain a 64-bit standard numerical format. This means that they use a number with 64 digits (either zero or one) to perform all the computations. 3-D graphics, virtual reality and augmented reality require the 64-bit format to work. But basic audio and image processing can be done with a 32-bit format and still provide satisfying results. Moreover, deep learning applications can even use 16-bit or 8-bit formats due to their error resilience The shorter the numerical format, the less energy is used to perform the calculation. We can design flexible, yet precise, computing solutions that run different applications using the most appropriate numerical format so that it promotes energy efficiency. For example, a deep learning application using this flexible computing solution could reduce energy consumption by 15 per cent, according to our preliminary experiment. In addition, the proposed solutions can be reconfigured to simultaneously perform multiple operations requiring low numerical precision and improve performance. The IoT holds a great deal of promise, but we must also think about the costs of processing all of this data. With smarter, greener processors we could help address environmental concerns and slow or reduce their contributions to climate change. Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. The Internet of Things could improve quality of life, but it will also consume vast amounts of electricity and boost greenhouse gas emissions. Credit: Shutterstock
Uber wants to be at the forefront of the driverless car revolution Explore further © 2019 AFP The latest cash injection, expected to close in the third quarter this year, came amid fevered anticipation of Uber’s public share offering which is expected to be the largest in the tech sector for years.Toyota has already invested $500 million in Uber as the firm races Google-owned Waymo and a host of other companies, including major automakers, to develop self-driving vehicles.The latest investment, which also involves Japanese parts maker DENSO, will go to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in a bid to “accelerate the development and commercialisation of automated ridesharing,” the firms said in a statement.Toyota and DENSO are stumping up $667 million and SoftBank Vision Fund, the investment arm of Japanese tycoon Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank, will pour $333 million into the venture. It is already the top shareholder in Uber, holding 16 percent.The Japanese car firm said it would also contribute “an additional $300 million over the next three years to help cover the costs related to these activities.” Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said driverless cars would “transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more liveable.”His firm is aiming to go beyond car rides to becoming the “Amazon of transportation” in a future where people share, instead of own, vehicles.If all goes to plan, commuters could ride an e-scooter to a transit station, take a train, then grab an e-bike, share a ride or take an e-scooter at the arriving station to complete a journey—all using an Uber app on a smartphone.Uber is also seeing growing success with an “Eats” service that lets drivers make money delivering meals ordered from restaurants.’Sharing economy’Last week, Uber filed official documents for its much-anticipated public share offering.The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said it operates on six continents with some 14 million trips per day and has totalled more than 10 billion rides since it was founded in 2010.The filing contained a “placeholder” amount of $1 billion to be raised but that figure is expected to increase ahead of the initial public offering (IPO) expected in May.The Wall Street Journal said earlier this month that Uber was seeking to raise $10 billion in what would be the largest stock offering of the year.Media reports said the ride-hailing giant was likely to seek a market value of close to $100 billion.Uber is the largest of the “unicorns” or venture-backed firms worth at least $1 billion to list on Wall Street, and is one of the key companies in the “sharing economy” based on offering services to replace ownership of cars, homes and other commodities.Its revenue grew 42 percent last year to $11.2 billion but it continued to lose money from its operations. A net profit was reported for the year from a large asset sale, but operational losses were more than $3 billion.And some analysts have voiced caution over the forthcoming IPO given a relative lacklustre debut for Lyft, the main US rival.Khosrowshahi has promised greater transparency as he seeks to restore confidence in the global ridesharing leader hit by a wave of misconduct scandals.In October, Toyota and SoftBank announced the creation of a joint venture to create “new mobility service” including driverless vehicles for services such as meal deliveries.The new company—called “Monet”, short for “mobility network”—is majority owned by SoftBank.SoftBank started as a software firm but has increasingly been pushing into investments under tycoon Son, one of Japan’s richest men. Japanese car giant Toyota and investment fund SoftBank Vision Fund on Friday unveiled an investment of $1 billion in US company Uber to drive forward the development of driverless ridesharing services. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Uber wins $1bn investment from Toyota, SoftBank fund (2019, April 19) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-toyota-softbank-fund-denso-invest.html Japan’s Honda, Hino join SoftBank-Toyota mobility venture