Retno Wulandari  20 March 2017 12:00

If you have quite a few million dollars to burn, what are you going to do? Traveling around the world might be too common for a millionaire, so why not buying a town that’s all yours, and yours alone?

If that’s what you’re currently thinking, there’s actually a perfect chance for you to have a town of your own.

Tiller is surrounded by many beautiful rivers (Photo credit: Landandwildlife.com)

(Photo credit: Landandwildlife.com)

The picturesque city of Tiller in Oregon is currently offered at USD 3.8 million (roughly Rp 50 billion). Considering that the city is a riverfront paradise, it seems worth the price. The city located about 362 kilometers from Portland and it stretches for about 101 hectares.

Included in the package are an apartment building, six houses, a post office, an abandoned petrol station, and a store. Well, if you want to start a colony here, those would be a perfect start.

Abandoned school building in Tiller. (Photo credit: Landandwildlife.com)

Beautiful little house in Tiller. (Photo credit: Landandwildlife.com)

Tiller isn’t actually a ghost town. It has two residents, a former school teacher and a pastor, but their lands aren’t included in the package.

“The new owners will find unique opportunities with a wide variety of different zonings along the South Umpqua River,” said the advertisement.

But the big question is, where are the people? Why did they decide to leave?

The store is still open for business. (Photo credit: Landandwildlife.com)

(Photo credit: Landandwildlife.com)

Formerly, around 250 people lived in Tiller. But then the local government decided to shut timber mills down. They were residents’ primary income sources. Knowing that nothing left for them in the town, one by one they started to move and left Tiller abandoned.

An investor from China has reportedly shown interest, not to spend their old days enjoying a beautiful panorama but to open a hemp plantation there instead.

But the town is still available should you want (and can afford) it!

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  16 March 2017 13:30

A computer security firm on Wednesday revealed a flaw that could let hackers break into WhatsApp or Telegram messaging accounts using the very encryption intended to protect messages.

Check Point Software Technologies said that it alerted Telegram and Facebook-owned WhatsApp last week, waiting until the vulnerability was patched before making it public.

Check Point did not specify how many messaging accounts were at risk, but did say the flaw posed a danger to "hundreds of millions" of users accessing the messaging platform from web browsers in computers, as opposed to mobile applications.

"This new vulnerability put hundreds of millions of WhatsApp Web and Telegram Web users at risk of complete account take over,” Check Point head of product vulnerability Oded Vanunu said in a release.

"By simply sending an innocent looking photo, an attacker could gain control over the account, access message history, all photos that were ever shared, and send messages on behalf of the user."

The vulnerability made it possible for an attacker to booby-trap a digital image with malicious code that could spring into action after the picture is clicked on for viewing, according to Check Point.

The malicious code could then hijack an account, and even spread itself like a virus by sending infected messages to those listed as contacts.

WhatsApp and Telegram use end-to-end encryption designed to make certain only senders and recipients can see what is in messages.

The privacy protection had the side effect of preventing the services from being able to discern whether message contents included malicious code, according to Check Point.

To remedy the situation, both services shifted to finding and blocking viruses before messages are encrypted, the security researchers said.

WhatsApp is one of the most popular instant messaging services in the world with more than a billion users. Telegram claims only 100 million or so users, but is often cited as a preferred communications tool of jihadists because of encryption to keep messages from the eyes of authorities.

Agence France-Presse

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  15 March 2017 19:30

Germany's justice minister proposed a law Tuesday that could see social networks such as Facebook slapped with heavy fines if they fail to wipe illegal hate speech from their sites.

The minister, Heiko Maas, who has been highly critical of Facebook's efforts to clamp down on outlawed racist and xenophobic posts and comments, said the new measures could carry penalties against the offending company of up to 50 million euros (Rp 710 billion).

He noted the draft law, which would still require the approval of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet and then the parliament, followed several months in which companies had been allowed to take voluntary measures.

"These have proved insufficient, and they (the posts) are not being deleted quickly enough," Maas told reporters, citing data provided by internet watchdog jugendschutz.net.

A surge of hate speech on Facebook and other social media in Germany has raised the political heat on the companies ahead of a general election in September.

Facebook and other web giants pledged in 2015 to examine and remove within 24 hours any hateful comments spreading online, in particular over the mass influx of migrants and refugees.

However Maas said Tuesday that "networks aren't taking the complaints of their own users seriously enough".

He said that of the content reported by users deemed to run afoul of Germany's strict hate speech laws, Twitter only took down one percent and Facebook 39 percent.

Google's YouTube video sharing platform fared better, with a rate of 90 percent according to jugendschutz.net data cited by the minister.

Maas's draft law stipulates that social networks must offer users clear and easily accessible means to file complaints, review them quickly and delete blatantly illegal content within 24 hours.

At the latest, offensive posts would have to be taken down within one week after a complaint is submitted. 

Companies would also be required to file quarterly reports on their efforts to crack down on hate speech.

Maas's hard line, among the toughest in the European Union, has its critics within the government.

This month Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries, like Maas a Social Democrat, warned against a sweeping law, saying responsibility for enforcing hate speech legislation should not be "privatised". 

However the Central Council of Jews in Germany welcomed Maas's proposal, saying stronger measures against "incitement of racial hatred, glorification of National Socialism and Holocaust denial on social media" were "urgently required".

© Agence France-Presse

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  13 March 2017 17:45

Saudi Arabia's powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, seeking foreign investment in an economic reform plan, left for the US Monday to meet President Donald Trump, state media said.

Prince Mohammad will be the highest-ranking Saudi official to hold talks with Trump since the US leader took office in January. 

The visit, which officially begins Thursday, focuses on the "strengthening of bilateral relations... and regional issues of mutual interest," the Saudi Press Agency said.

Second in line to the throne, Prince Mohammad is the son of King Salman and holds the post of defence minister, although much of his focus is on economic issues.

He is the chief proponent of Vision 2030, a wide-ranging social and economic reform plan begun last year to diversify the oil dependent economy.

Washington and Riyadh have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil.

But ties became increasingly frayed during the eight-year administration of former president Barack Obama.

Saudi leaders felt Obama was reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria and was tilting towards Riyadh's regional rival Iran.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has expressed optimism that the Trump presidency will be more engaged in the region, particularly in containing Iran.

Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Iran of interfering in the affairs of its neighbours, particularly in Yemen where Tehran backs rebels fighting the internationally recognised government.

The US provides weapons, refuelling and intelligence support for a Saudi-led coalition helping Yemen's government battle the Huthi rebels and their allies.

Prince Mohammad's trip comes as King Salman, 81, is on an Asian tour lasting about one month and emphasising economic ties.

A foreign diplomat told AFP the king is travelling with a large cross-section of the royal family and the tour is seen by some as a way to help him build loyalty to Prince Mohamad.

Analysts have pointed to rivalry between Prince Mohammad and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 56, the first in line to the throne who is also interior minister.

Agence France-Presse

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  10 March 2017 18:10

Refugees who sheltered fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong are formally seeking asylum from the Canadian government as their lawyers said Thursday their lives are in danger.

The impoverished refugees living hand to mouth in the city took in the former National Security Agency contractor in 2013, helping him to evade authorities by hiding him in their cramped homes after he initiated one of the largest data leaks in US history. 

Their stories only emerged late last year and lawyers say they are now in the spotlight of Hong Kong and their home countries.

The refugees say they have been specifically asked about their links to Snowden by Hong Kong authorities. 

Their lawyers and some city legislators say two Snowden hosts, from Sri Lanka, have been targeted by agents from their own country who have travelled to Hong Kong. 

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Canadian lawyer Marc-Andre Seguin said: "It is a matter of life and death." 

Seguin is one of a legal team for the refugees trying to raise awareness of their situation in Hong Kong, Canada and around the world.  

The lawyers say they want Canada to consider taking them in because of their "exceptional circumstances", rather than trying to set any kind of precedent. 

Canada has a track record of accepting refugees.

The asylum petition has been lodged with the Canadian government.

"What we're asking is that he (the immigration minister) expedite the process and give priority given the exceptional circumstances," Seguin said.

"What adds to the exceptional nature of the case is that there are three stateless children who are involved here and affected by that," he added.

After leaving his initial Hong Kong hotel bolthole for fear of being discovered, Snowden went underground, fed and looked after by refugees for around two weeks.

Hong Kong is not a signatory to the UN's refugee convention and does not grant asylum.

However, it is bound by the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) and considers claims for protection based on those grounds. 

It also considers claims based on risk of persecution.

After government screening, claimants found to be at risk of persecution are referred to the UN's refugee agency, which can try to resettle them to a safe third country.

But with fewer than one percent of cases successfully substantiated by city authorities, most refugees live in fear of deportation.

Like Snowden's hosts, Hong Kong's 11,000 marginalised refugees spend years in limbo, hoping the government will eventually support their claims.

Vanessa Rodel from the Philippines, who has a five-year-old daughter and is one of those seeking asylum in Canada, has said she has no regrets about taking Snowden in.

"I am hopeful that we can get into Canada and start a new life (with) safety and freedom," she told AFP.

Agence France-Presse

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Retno Wulandari  06 March 2017 16:30

The government is exploring the possibility to revise the Law on Narcotics. Current law criminalizes most drug users. Users arrested with small amount of drugs and users who decided to go to rehab are theoretically exempted from the punishment, though in fact most of them are still going to be imprisoned. Harsher punishments apply to drug dealers, ranging from years of imprisonment to death penalty.

But is criminalization the best way to win the war against drugs? A talkshow held by the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) last week explained why it might be not.

In 1971, US President Richard Nixon officially declared a war on drugs and said that illegal drug use is the ‘public enemy number one’.

The US government started to treat drugs as a criminal issue rather than a health issue. The same approach was (and still) used towards users struggling with addiction.

By 2016, US authorities have arrested 1.5 million Americans every year for drug-related crimes and incarcerated hundreds of thousands of them.

“Drug use hasn’t been reduced and deaths caused by overdose have continuously increased. People were arrested and imprisoned, and only a few of them were treated for drug abuse,” said Kaitlyn Boecker, the policy coordination for Washington-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), last week.

Criminalization of drug users and addicts has led to mass incarceration that brings even more problems to the American society.

“Mass incarceration also caused racial disparities, while it didn’t reduced crime, drug use or drug sales,” said Boecker. “And it also wastes money. The US spent at least $50 billion per year on prisons or around $31,000 per prisoner.”

Criminalization also hinders users and addicts to seek medical and psychological treatment.

“Criminalization, the widespread stigma about drug addicts and the shame make it hard for people to seek out treatment,” said Boecker. “It’s made worst with the expensive treatment cost and the long waiting list at rehab facility. The government spent most of the resources on law enforcement instead of treatment.”

According to DPA’s research, drug users in the US face social rejection, labeling, stereotyping, and discrimination —all lead to worse addiction. People are afraid to ask for help and information about drugs, making inaccurate information continues to spread. As a result, it becomes more difficult for people and policymakers to understand and make decisions about the problem.

“Harsh drug law enforcement practices are also strongly associated with higher HIV/AIDS rate,” said Boecker.

International outreach coordinator for the Students for Sensible Drugs Policy (SSDP) Jake Agliata raised the same issue —that criminalization for drug use harms young people in the US. 

Young drug users have to stop their education and face other problems in prison like sexual assault and physical abuse. There’s also an issue of child neglect due to parents’ imprisonment as around 2.7 million US children have to grow up without one or both parents who were jailed for drug-related crime.

 

 

 

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  01 March 2017 12:45

By Eileen NG

Appearing calm and solemn, two young women accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader, were charged with murder Wednesday.

The women, who arrived at court under the protection of special forces wearing masks and carrying machine guns, are at the center of a bizarre killing at a busy Kuala Lumpur airport terminal. Many speculate the attack was orchestrated by North Korea, but Pyongyang denies any role.

Wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans, Indonesian suspect Siti Aisyah nodded as her translator told her: "You are accused of murdering a North Korean man at the departure hall" of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The other suspect, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, wore a yellow shirt and blue jeans and said "I understand" in English as the charge was read. She looked briefly at the public gallery as she was led out and bowed her head.

The women did not enter pleas because the magistrate court where they appeared has no jurisdiction over a murder case. Lead prosecutor Iskander Ahmad told the court he will ask for the case to be transferred to a higher court and for both women to be tried together.

They face a mandatory death sentence if convicted.

Kim Jong Nam was attacked as he waited for his flight home to Macau on Feb. 13. He died shortly after two women went up behind him and wiped something onto his face.

Both women have reportedly said they thought they were part of a prank TV show playing harmless tricks on unsuspecting passengers. Aisyah told authorities that she was paid the equivalent of $90.

Meanwhile, Kim's corpse is at the center of a growing diplomatic battle between North Korea and Malaysia.

Speculation is rampant that North Korea was behind the killing, particularly after Malaysia said Friday that VX had killed Kim. Experts say the oily poison was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory.

On Tuesday, a high-level North Korean delegation arrived in Kuala Lumpur seeking custody of the body.

North Korea opposed Malaysian officials even conducting an autopsy, while Malaysia has resisted giving up the body without getting DNA samples and confirmation from next of kin.

The delegation includes Ri Tong Il, a former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, who told reporters Tuesday outside the North Korean Embassy that the diplomats were in Malaysia to retrieve the body and seek the release of a North Korean arrested in the case. He said the delegation also wants "development of the friendly relationship" between North Korea and Malaysia.

Malaysian officials have confirmed that the victim of the attack was Kim Jong Nam. North Korea, however, has identified him only as a North Korean national with a diplomatic passport bearing the name Kim Chol.

Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said Malaysia will continue to insist that the body be identified by medical examiners through DNA or other means before it can be released. He said the protocol is to release it to the next-of-kin once identification is completed.

Asked how long Malaysia can keep Kim's body at the morgue, he said "we can keep as long as we want." Police have said that the body will eventually have to be released to the North Korean embassy if there is no claim by Kim's family members.

The killing of Kim Jong Nam appeared to be a well-planned hit. Malaysian authorities say North Koreans put the deadly nerve agent VX on the hands of two women who then placed the toxin on Kim's face. Kim died on the way to a hospital, within about 20 minutes of the attack, they say.

Arrmanatha Nasir, the spokesman for Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Ministry, said Aisyah's lawyers have already begun preparing her defense. Indonesia expects Malaysia will uphold a legal process based on the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, he said.

"Is she an intelligence agent or not? Let's see the hearing process and what she says through her lawyers," Nasir said. "If there is information like that, of course we would get it either from our own intelligence services or from foreign intelligence services which have cooperation with us, and so far we have no such information."

Malaysia has also detained a 45-year-old North Korean, Ri Jong Chol, whose role in the killing is unclear. Asked if the North Korean will be charged, Apandi said it depends on the outcome of the investigation.

Authorities are seeking seven other North Korean suspects, four of whom fled the country the day of Kim's death and are believed to be back in North Korea. Others sought include the second secretary of North Korea's embassy and an employee of North Korea's state-owned airline, Air Koryo.

Malaysia hasn't directly accused North Korea of having masterminded the killing, but South Korea has. It has not provided evidence.

South Korean lawmakers said Monday that the country's National Intelligence Service told them in a private briefing that four of the North Koreans identified as suspects are from the Ministry of State Security, the North's spy organ.

Kim Jong Nam was estranged from Kim Jong Un. He reportedly fell out of favor with their father, the late Kim Jong Il, in 2001, when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

He had been heading to Macau, where he has a home, when he was killed.

Isolated North Korea has a long history of ordering killings of people it views as threats to its regime. Kim Jong Nam was not known to be seeking political power; he was best known for his penchants for drinking, gambling and expensive restaurants. But his position as eldest son of the family that has ruled North Korea since it was founded could have made him appear to be a danger.

Malaysia continues to seek DNA samples from Kim Jong Nam's immediate family. He is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau.

Associated Press

 

 

 

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