Ukraine Russia war: US warns Avdiivka could fall

The US has warned that Russia could seize Ukraine’s key eastern town of Avdiivka – the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in recent months.

“Avdiivka is at risk of falling into Russian control,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, citing Ukraine’s ammunition shortages.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to do everything to “save as many Ukrainian lives as possible”.

Russian troops have made gains in Avdiivka, threatening to encircle it.

The town – which has been almost completely destroyed – is seen as a gateway to nearby Donetsk, the regional Ukrainian capital seized by Russian-backed fighters in 2014 and later illegitimately annexed by Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

At Thursday’s briefing in Washington, Mr Kirby said Avdiivka could fall largely “because the Ukrainian forces on the ground are running out of artillery ammunition”.

“Russia is sending wave after wave of conscript forces to attack Ukrainian positions,” he said.

“And because Congress has yet to pass the supplemental bill, we have not been able to provide Ukraine with the artillery shells that they desperately need to disrupt these Russian assaults.

“Russian forces are now reaching Ukrainian trenches in Avdiivka, and they’re beginning to overwhelm Ukrainian defences.”

Earlier this week, the US Senate approved a $95bn (£75bn) foreign aid package – including $60bn for Ukraine – after months of political wrangling, but it faces an uphill battle in the House of Representatives.

Ukraine is critically dependent on weapons supplies from the US and other Western allies to be able to continue fighting Russia – a much bigger military force with an abundance of artillery ammunition.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Thursday that the US failure to approve continued military assistance to Ukraine was already having an impact on the battlefield.

Smoke rises near the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant in the town of Avdiivka in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, as seen from Yasynuvata (Yasinovataya) in the Donetsk region, Russian-controlled Ukraine, February 15, 2024
Image caption,Smoke rises over an industrial site in Avdiivka on Thursday

In his video address late on Thursday, President Zelensky said: “We are doing everything we can to ensure that our warriors have enough managerial and technological capabilities to save as many Ukrainian lives as possible.”

On Friday, Mr Zelensky is visiting Berlin and Paris where he is expected to sign security pacts with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

A similar agreement on security co-operation was signed between Ukraine and the UK in January.

Late on Thursday, Ukrainian General Oleksandr Tarnavsky admitted that “fierce battles” were taking place “within” Avdiivka.

“We value every piece of Ukrainian land, but the highest value and priority for us is the preservation of the life of a Ukrainian soldier,” he said.

Ukraine’s military spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy acknowledged that Ukrainian troops in Avdiivka were being forced to “sometimes move to more advantageous positions… in some places leaving positions”.

In its update on Friday, the military general staff said “the planned strengthening of units” was being carried out, as well as “a troop manoeuvre in directions that are under threat”.

Some Ukrainian soldiers have privately admitted the town could fall at any moment.

“We’re upset,” Ukrainian officer Oleksii, from Ukraine’s 110th Mechanised Brigade in the Avdiivka area, told the BBC earlier this week, standing beside a huge mobile artillery piece as Russian guns boomed in the distance.

“Currently we have two shells, but we have no [explosive] charges for them… so we can’t fire them. As of now, we have run out of shells,” said Oleksii. He suggested that the shortages were widespread and having a dramatic impact on the fighting in Avdiivka.

“We feel a very strong responsibility for our guys fighting right now in the town, armed only with assault rifles.”

Ukraine’s newly appointed commander-in-chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, visited the frontline in the Avdiivka area this week, acknowledging that the situation there was “difficult”.

He said the Russian military did not “count losses”, using its troops as cannon fodder.

Kyiv says an elite Ukrainian brigade has now been sent to Avdiivka and reserve artillery has been deployed.

In unverified reports, Russian military bloggers said on Thursday that a key Ukrainian defence position in southern Avdiivka – known as Zenit – was now under Moscow’s control. https://juswortele.com/

ISW map of Avdiivka

Tucker Carlson interview: Fact-checking Putin’s ‘nonsense’ history

Putin
Image caption,Mr Putin began the interview by claiming that 862 was the year of the “establishment of the Russian state”

US talk show host Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin began with a rambling half-hour lecture on the history of Russia and Ukraine.

Mr Carlson, frequently appearing bemused, listened as Mr Putin expounded at length about the origins of Russian statehood in the ninth century, Ukraine as an artificial state and Polish collaboration with Hitler.

It is familiar ground for Mr Putin, who infamously penned a 5,000-word essay entitled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” in 2021, which foreshadowed the intellectual justification the Kremlin offered for its invasion of Ukraine less than a year later.

Historians say the litany of claims made by Mr Putin are nonsense – representing nothing more than a selective abuse of history to justify the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Regardless of the historical realities, none of Putin’s assertions would form a legal justification for his invasion.

A state-centred narrative

Mr Putin began the interview by claiming that 862 was the year of the “establishment of the Russian state”. This was the year that Rurik, a Scandinavian prince, was invited to rule over the city of Novgorod, the capital of the Rus – the people who would eventually develop into today’s Russians.

Mr Putin contrasts what he claims is the unbroken tradition of Russian statehood dating back to the 9th Century with the modern “invention” of Ukraine – a country he insists was “created” as late as the 20th Century.

An engraving of Prince Rurik in 862
Image caption,An engraving showing Prince Rurik in 862

But Sergey Radchenko, a historian at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, says the president’s claim is “a complete falsehood”.

“Vladimir Putin is trying to construct a narrative backwards, saying Russia as a state began its development in the 9th Century. You could equally say that Ukraine as a state began its development in the 9th Century, exactly with the same kind of evidence and documents.

“He’s trying to use certain historical facts to construct a state-centred narrative that would favour Russia as opposed to any alternative agglomerations.”

Ronald Suny, a professor at the University of Michigan, says the Rus was made up of “a bunch of bandits, who burned their own capital repeatedly”.

He adds that Mr Putin is repeating an “established mythology made up at certain points in the past by Muscovite tsars who trace their lineage back to Rurik.”

“This mythology was crystallised in Moscow to justify their imperial hold over Ukraine.”

A ‘special ethnic group’

Mr Putin told Tucker Carlson that by the 17th Century, when Poland came to rule over parts of present-day Ukraine, they introduced the idea that the population of those areas “was not exactly Russians. Because they lived on the fringe, they were Ukrainians.”

“Originally the word Ukrainian meant that the person was living on the outskirts of the state, along the fringes.”

But Anita Prazmowska, a professor emerita at the LSE, says that although a national consciousness emerged later among Ukrainians than other central European nations, there were Ukrainians during that period.

“[Vladimir Putin] is using a 20th Century concept of the state based on the protection of a defined nation, as something that goes back. It doesn’t.”

Mr Suny says that while it may be true that Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians “came from the same stock … through time, they developed into different peoples.”

‘New Russia’

Mr Putin claims that areas in the south and east of Ukraine “had no historical connection with Ukraine whatsoever”. Conquered from the Ottoman Empire by the Russian Empress Catherine the Great in the 17th Century, the Russian president says that means these lands are in fact rightfully Russian. Mr Putin later refers to them using the 18th Century term “Novorossiya” – New Russia.

Mr Suny points out that the inhabitants of these lands when they were conquered by Russia were neither Russian nor Ukrainian, but Ottoman, Tatar or Cossacks – Slavic peasants who had fled to the frontiers.

Statue of Catherine the Great
Image caption,Catherine the Great conquered parts of present-day Ukraine

But claiming that these territories are in reality rightfully Russian serves Mr Putin’s interests, as they are precisely the areas that Russia is attempting to conquer from Ukraine during the now decade-long conflict with its neighbour.

So-called Novorossiya includes Crimea – illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014. New Russia also covers areas around Kherson, Mariupol and Bakhmut, which Mr Putin declared part of Russia in 2022.

An ‘artificial state’

Mr Putin went on to claim that “Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at [Joseph] Stalin’s will,” arguing that Ukraine was created by the Soviet leadership in the 1920s and received lands to which it had no historical claim.

In a sense, he is correct, says Prof Radchenko. The Soviet leadership drew up the borders of Soviet republics “almost like the Western colonial powers drew up borders in Africa – kind of randomly.”

“But that does not mean that Ukrainians did not exist.”

More broadly, Mr Radchenko denies Mr Putin’s claims that Ukraine is not a real country because it was formed in its modern form in the 20th Century. “Any country is a fake country, in the sense that countries are created as a result of a historical process.”

“Russia was created as a result of decisions taken by the Russian tsars, such as the colonisation of Siberia, which came at the considerable expense of the local population.

“If Ukraine is a fake country, then so is Russia.”

‘Collaborating with Hitler’

Perhaps Mr Putin’s most inflammatory claim was regarding Poland. Mr Putin claimed that Poland – which was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 – “collaborated with Hitler”.

The Russian president told his interviewer that by refusing to cede an area of Poland called the Danzig Corridor to Hitler, Poland “went too far, pushing Hitler to start World War Two by attacking them”.

For Prof Prazmowska, President Putin’s interpretation of history is a flawed reading of the historical record. She says that while it is true that there were diplomatic contacts between Poland and the Nazis – the first treaty Hitler signed after coming to power was a non-aggression pact with Poland in 1934 – Mr Putin is conflating diplomatic outreach to a threatening neighbour with collaboration.

“The accusation that the Poles were collaborating is nonsense,” says Mrs Prazmowska.

“You can’t interpret these things as if this were collaboration with Nazi Germany, because it just so happened that the Soviet Union also signed treaties with Germany [at the same time].”

In September 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland according to the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed between both states earlier that year. https://juswortele.com/

Hungary resignations leave Viktor Orban in biggest crisis yet

Hungarian President Katalin Novak delivering her speech in the Alexander Palace in Budapest, Hungary, 10 February 2024
Image caption,Katalin Novak resigned as president on Saturday, then the justice minister stood down as an MP

This has become the biggest threat to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s rule since he returned to power in 2010.

Hungary has been shaken by the sudden resignations of the two most popular and successful women in an otherwise strongly male-dominated governing party.

President Katalin Novak and former Justice Minister Judit Varga have both taken responsibility for the decision to grant clemency to Endre K, former deputy director of a state orphanage.

Endre K was jailed for persuading children to withdraw their testimony against the director of the orphanage for sexual abuse.

He was one of 25 people pardoned by the president during a visit by Pope Francis last year. But his name only became public on 2 February.

The issue has become deeply problematic for a government which has made protection of children and traditional family values the cornerstone of its policies.

Worst of all for Mr Orban and his party, the departures of the two women have been followed by an avalanche of allegations about the way he runs the country.

And this double resignation, coming amid increasing protests, has deprived Viktor Orban of two very different but essential allies.

President Novak radiated a “mother of the nation” image, closely identified with popular policies to encourage couples to have more children. She also promoted a more inclusive, less aggressive style than the prime minister in her largely symbolic role as head of state.

The tough-talking Judit Varga had been due to lead the governing Fidesz party into battle against the “Brussels bureaucrats” in the European elections in June. Now she has resigned as an MP and withdrawn from public life.

Former Hungarian Minister of Justice Judit Varga in Brussels in July 2023
Image caption,Until her resignation, Judit Varga was a high-profile Fidesz figure destined to play a key role in the European elections in June

Two other key figures have come under attack too – Mr Orban’s communications chief Antal Rogan, who is also in charge of the secret services, and Zoltan Balog, a Protestant bishop and personal adviser to the prime minister.

Mr Balog is alleged to have lobbied behind the scenes for the presidential clemency in the Endre K case. He has denied the allegation.

Within minutes of Judit Varga’s resignation, her ex-husband, powerful Fidesz insider Peter Magyar, announced: “I do not want to be part of a system for a minute longer where the real culprits hide behind women’s skirts.”

“For a long time, I believed in an ideal, in a national, sovereign, civic Hungary,” he complained. “However, over the past few years and especially today, I have come to realise all this is indeed just a political product, a sugary coating that serves only two purposes: to conceal the operation of the power factory and to acquire enormous wealth.”

He followed that up with a 100-minute interview on Sunday evening to the government-critical Partizan channel on YouTube, which has now been viewed 1.4 million times.

Each day, he posts new criticism of government figures on Facebook.

On Tuesday, he singled out Antal Rogan, the government’s communications maestro, asking him why he was staying silent, hiding behind the prime minister’s spokesman.

“You used to cut a much tougher figure,” he said. “Why are you hiding from your constituents? Why haven’t you held a press conference for years? Are you afraid to answer questions?”

Then he turned on Istvan Tiborcz, the son-in-law of the prime minister and husband of Mr Orban’s daughter Rahel.

“Dear Stephen [Istvan], you are a really talented person, at the age of 37, you have 100bn Forints (£220m), so many hotels, banks, fund managers, valuable former state-owned properties.”

“What other companies have you taken over lately? What is the total of government loans or grants you received to build your portfolio? Have you recently visited villages in Borsod [in northeast Hungary], where children sometimes play in the yard without warm clothes in winter?”

People walk on the Chain Bridge as they take part in a protest to demand the resignation of Hungarian President Katalin Novak
Image caption,Ahead of President Novak’s resignation protesters marched in Budapest to object to the pardon she had given last year

Opposition parties have tabled demands to investigate how the clemency was granted, how the state is run, and to call for the direct election of the next president.

The response of the government and of pro-government media has been furious.

“We do not respond to the desperate attempts of people in hopeless situations,” insisted the prime minister’s spokesman, Bertalan Havasi, about Peter Magyar.

“We must demonstrate our strength, because the pack of hyenas, these completely amoral, lying bastards… now smell blood because they think that the moment has come,” wrote Zsolt Bayer in the government flagship daily, Magyar Nemzet.

He went on to propose a show of strength by government supporters on 15 March, a national holiday: “”Let’s show them that the moment hasn’t bloody well come!”

Another commentator, Zsolt Jeszenszky, did not hold back in the government tabloid, Pesti Sracok.

“Those who proclaim [Judit Varga] an ally of paedophiles, who foam at the mouth demanding her head, are the same vile, satanic mob who demanded the death of Christ from Pontius Pilate,” he fumed. “The scum, the sewer rats, have not changed in 2,000 years.”

From the prime minister himself there has been strict silence. At least for now.

It is without doubt his biggest challenge in 14 years of uninterrupted Fidesz rule and the high-profile resignations have dented but not yet seriously damaged his power.

An anti-Orban protest is planned for Friday, but the prime minister will come out fighting, presumably on Saturday when he is due to deliver his annual state of the nation address. https://juswortele.com/

Why US economy is powering ahead of Europe’s

Shopper in a mall

While countries around the world have struggled to recover from the economic setbacks brought on by the pandemic, one has emerged particularly strong.

With a fast-growing economy, a strong labour market and falling inflation, the US has outpaced its counterparts in Europe and elsewhere.

In terms of GDP, it posted a 3.3% gain in the fourth quarter of 2023, far exceeding economists’ expectations of 2%.

That put the US at 2.5% over the course of the year, outpacing all other advanced economies and on track to do so again in 2024.

“The US is holding up much better than other countries,” said Ryan Sweet, Chief US Economist, Oxford Economics. “It seems like the engine of the US economy continues to hum along where it’s sputtering in other nations.”

Chart showing US growth v other countries

Experts say that there are several reasons why the US is outperforming other nations.

1. Pouring trillions into the economy

When the Covid-19 pandemic slowed in-person work and social life to a halt, countries had to grapple with how to support their stuck-at-home citizenry – including many who lost their jobs or couldn’t work.

In March 2020, Congress rushed to pass a $2.2tn economic stimulus bill that sent cash into the pockets of American workers, families, and businesses. Two more pieces of legislation followed to keep small businesses afloat and workforces employed.

This was the largest influx of federal money into the US economy in history. Some $5tn flowed to everyone from individuals making an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits to state and local transit agencies strapped for cash without commuters.

“I think there was a whole generation of policymakers that came out of 2008 and 2009 with the lesson that if you don’t go big and go bold, the problems last for a long time,” said Aaron Terrazas, chief economist at Glassdoor.

“If you’re tentative, you prolong the pain. So I think that’s one reason why the fiscal response was so much more forceful this time.”

That stimulus is still being credited with sustaining consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of economic activity. That capacity to spend despite high inflation has been a buoy.

Shoppers in Brooklyn

Some of the money put into households’ pockets ended up in excess savings, said Ryan Sweet, a war chest for Americans to tap into when they need it.

The size of the US rescue deal dwarfed what other countries did, although some like Japan, Germany and Canada also went big.

European countries have a more robust social safety net than the US and were able to adapt existing programmes without increasing spending. But this short-term advantage could not make up for the huge gap in stimulus size.

2. A flexible jobs market

High inflation has been a painful experience for many Americans and has shaped their view of how the economy is faring. But a strong jobs market has helped disposable income, which is the engine behind consumer spending.

The unemployment rate in the US has been below 4% since February 2022, which is on a par with historic lows. And while prices climbed steeply, real wages have risen too. Low-income households have seen some of the strongest real wage growth.

The US has also enjoyed a productivity spike in 2023, growing at its fastest pace in years.

Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, points to the flexible labour laws which allowed companies to slash workforces at the start of the pandemic. This produced short-term pain for workers but allowed companies to adapt to the moment and invest in new technologies.

She cited the example of hotels, which laid off workers and haven’t hired back to pre-pandemic levels.

“They’ve simply changed a lot. They’ve introduced self-checkouts and mobile check-in technology. They’ve reduced the frequency of room cleaning, they’ve eliminated room service, because now customers tend to prefer to use Uber Eats anyway, and pick up orders and deliveries.”

Hotels have become lighter and leaner and less personnel intensive, she said, a shift that meant they lived on which, in the longer term, benefits workers.

Jobs fair in Los Angeles

The US enjoys another advantage – an ability to resupply its labour market, especially through immigration at a time when the retirement of the baby boomer generation has slowed population growth.

The European approach favoured paying companies to keep workers on their payrolls when lockdowns crippled businesses. The UK furlough scheme paid employees 80% of their wages and lasted more than 18 months.

The US had more severe unemployment as a result but laid-off American workers were eligible for newly-expanded unemployment benefits, which sent cash directly into pockets.

3. Energy (in)dependence

The US is a net exporter of energy and experts say that’s helped the US economy’s strength.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and energy prices soared, Europe absorbed the impact much more than the US. Germany, a major European manufacturing hub, imported much of its natural gas from Russia via its Nord Stream pipeline. Its productivity took a hit.

Higher energy prices pushed up inflation in Europe, in what experts called a “double-shock” – the pandemic and then Ukraine.

The impact of the Ukraine war on energy prices was a lot worse in Europe than in the US, said Ben Westmore, who oversees surveillance of the US economy for the OECD.

Gas prices in Europe between early 2021 and 2022 shot up by something close to 20%, he says, whereas in the US, it was only 3-4%.

He pointed out that European countries have seen not only a bigger increase in prices, but also a greater propensity for businesses to pass them on to consumers.

“Both of these factors have helped U.S. inflation moderate to a faster extent than in many countries, especially Europe,” he said. https://juswortele.com/

Starbucks dan McDonald’s Kompak Salahkan Israel, Ada Apa?

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Dua perusahaan restoran terbesar di Amerika Serikat (AS), McDonald’s dan Starbucks, menyatakan bahwa serangan Israel di Gaza, Palestina menjadi penyebab kerugian penjualan perusahaannya pada akhir 2023 lalu.

Melansir dari CNBC International, McDonald’s dan Starbucks adalah perusahaan besar di AS yang mengatakan bahwa konflik di Timur Tengah telah merugikan penjualan mereka dan kemungkinan besar akan menekan permintaan di kuartal-kuartal mendatang.

Saham McDonald’s turun hampir 4 persen pada Senin (5/2/2024) kemarin setelah perlambatan penjualan di Timur Tengah dilaporkan berkontribusi terhadap penurunan pendapatan pada kuartal keempat.

Penjualan McDonald’s pada kuartal keempat di Timur Tengah merosot setelah waralaba (franchise) di Israel memberikan makanan gratis dan diskon khusus kepada Israel Defense Forces (IDF) atau Pasukan Pertahanan Israel.

Menurut analis TD Cowen, Andrew Charles, biasanya Timur Tengah menyumbang sekitar 2 persen dari penjualan global McDonald’s dan 1 persen dari pendapatan global sebelum bunga dan pajak.

Salah satu restoran cepat saji McDonald's di kawasan Jakarta, Kamis (28/12/2023). (CNBC Indonesia/Tri Susilo)

CEO McDonald’s, Chris Kempczinski, mengatakan bahwa perusahaannya melihat penjualan yang menurun di Timur Tengah dan negara-negara mayoritas Muslim, seperti Indonesia dan Malaysia.

Tidak hanya Indonesia dan Malaysia, McDonald’s di Prancis yang memiliki populasi Muslim terbesar di Eropa pun juga mengalami penurunan penjualan.

“Dampak perang terhadap bisnis lokal para pewaralaba ini mengecewakan dan tidak berdasar,” kata Kemczinski kepada para analis.

Sementara itu, saham Starbucks turun sekitar 2 persen sejak Selasa (6/2/2024). Hal ini seiring dengan Starbucks yang melaporkan bahwa serangan di Gaza mengurangi penjualan di AS dalam tiga bulan terakhir 2023.

Sebelumnya, Starbucks menjadi target boikot setelah pihak manajemen menggugat serikat pekerja, Starbucks Workers United, pada awal Oktober 2023 lalu. Gugatan tersebut muncul setelah organisasi tersebut menyatakan solidaritas terhadap warga Palestina.

Menurut keterangan resmi Starbucks, gugatan tersebut dilayangkan karena Starbucks Workers United dianggap menyalahgunakan nama, logo, dan kekayaan intelektual perusahaan.

People watch from inside a Starbucks as demonstrators march in support of Palestinians in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Washington, U.S., November 4, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

CEO Starbucks, Laxman Narasimhan, mengatakan bahwa penjualan Starbucks di Timur Tengah mengalami kesulitan. Selain itu, boikot juga merugikan kafe-kafenya di AS. Penjualan rantai toko yang sama di AS naik 5 persen pada kuartal fiskal pertama yang berakhir pada 31 Desember.

Narasimhan mengatakan, Starbucks tengah berupaya untuk kembali meningkatkan penjualan dengan menawarkan promosi baru yang lebih bertarget dan meluncurkan menu minuman baru.

Selain McDonald’s dan Starbucks, sejumlah aktivis pendukung Palestina juga menyerukan boikot terhadap perusahaan restoran cepat saji lainnya, seperti Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s, Burger King dari Restaurant Brands International, dan Pizza Hut dari Yum Brands.

Yum Brands dijadwalkan untuk merilis laporan kuartal keempatnya pada Rabu (7/2/2024) besok. Sementara itu, Restaurant Brands International diperkirakan tidak akan merilis pendapatan kuartal mereka hingga akhir bulan. https://juswortele.com/

Fans Hong Kong Kena Prank Messi, Mirip seperti di Indonesia

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Lionel Messi kembali bikin heboh. Kali ini, dia membuat ribuan penggemarnya di Hong Kong kecewa. Pasalnya, Messi batal main saat laga persahabatan antara klubnya, Inter Miami dengan Hong Kong XI pada Minggu (4/2/2024) kemarin. 

Messi bukan tak jadi datang. Dia hadir di Hong Kong Stadion, namun memilih untuk duduk saja di bangku pemain cadangan, alih-alih ikut bertanding. 

Penonton yang sudah datang dan membayar tiket mahal jelas kecewa. Menurut laporan CNN Internasional, sebanyak 40.000 tiket untuk pertandingan tersebut habis terjual. Seorang penggemar bahkan membeli tiket seharga US$624 atau nyaris Rp10 juta demi melihat sang legenda sepakbola asal Argentina tersebut.

Teriakan dukungan berubah menjadi cemoohan untuk Messi yang tak turun ke lapangan hingga akhir pertandingan, meninggalkan timnya Inter Miami yang menang dengan skor 4-1. 

Sebagian penonton yang kecewa menuntut ganti rugi. Pasalnya, muka Messi terpampang di semua promosi sebelum pertandingan. 

“Kami merasa sedikit ditipu oleh Inter Miami karena kami sudah bayar, dan saya pikir kebanyakan orang bayar untuk melihat Messi dan hampir secara eksklusif diiklankan bahwa Messi akan bermain,” kata Ada Kam, yang menuntut ganti rugi.

Pemerintah Hong Kong kecewa

Inter Miami's and Argentina's national team player Lionel Messi receives the 2023 Ballon d'Or trophy during the 67th Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) award ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Sementara itu, pemerintah Hong Kong, yang memberikan hibah lebih dari US$2 juta kepada penyelenggara pertandingan, juga mengatakan “sangat kecewa” karena Messi tidak bermain.

Padahal, Pemerintah Hong Kong sudah berulang kali meminta agar pemenang Ballon d’Or delapan kali itu bermain dalam pertandingan, namun permintaan itu tidak dijawab. 

Dalam konferensi pers pada Senin, Menteri Kebudayaan, Olahraga dan Pariwisata Hong Kong Kevin Yeung mengatakan kontrak yang ditandatangani antara pemerintah dan penyelenggara pertandingan Tatler XFEST mengharuskan Messi bermain setidaknya 45 menit, dengan memperhatikan masalah keselamatan dan kebugaran sang bintang.

Pemerintah pertama kali menghubungi penyelenggara pada awal babak kedua pada hari Minggu ketika para pejabat melihat Messi masih duduk di bangku cadangan, katanya.

Menurut Yeung, penyelenggara sudah memberi tahu pemerintah bahwa Messi mungkin tidak bisa bermain karena cedera, tetapi mereka baru mengonfirmasi bahwa Messi tidak akan bermain 10 menit sebelum pertandingan dimulai. 

Messi pernah ‘prank’ penggemar di Indonesia 

Apa yang terjadi di Hong Kong punya sedikit kesamaan dengan ‘insiden’ di Indonesia. Timnas Argentina, yang memenangkan Piala Dunia 2022, datang ke Indonesia untuk melakukan FIFA Matchday pada Juni lalu. Seluruh tiket habis terjual, banyak penggemar sepakbola Tanah Air berharap bisa menyaksikan Lionel Messi dan timnas terbaik di dunia. 

Meski begitu, Messi akhirnya tak jadi datang ke Jakarta. Pelatih Timnas Argentina, Lionel Scaloni menyebut bahwa Messi tak jadi tanding di Jakarta karena harus beristirahat.

Namun, sejumlah foto yang beredar di media sosial menunjukkan bahwa Messi sedang berlibur di sebuah pantai di Barcelona. https://juswortele.com/

Bule Pakai Tisu Buat Cebok, Ternyata Ini Alasannya…

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Soal urusan toilet dan cebok, dunia seakan terpisah menjadi dua bagian : tim cebok pakai air dan tim cebok pakai tisu. Biasanya, mayoritas yang memakai air berasal dari dunia Timur. Sementara pemakai tisu adalah masyarakat Barat.

Lalu, mengapa ini bisa terjadi?

Kebiasaan membersihkan kotoran usai buang air besar sebenarnya sudah terjadi sejak lama. Dan setiap wilayah memiliki budayanya berbeda, tetapi saat itu tentu tidak menggunakan tisu.

Biasanya, mereka membersihkan kotoran sesuai adat istiadat dan kondisi iklim. Bisa dengan air, dedaunan, rumput, batu, atau hanya tangan saja.

Seperti yang terjadi di Romawi pada abad ke-6 SM. Penduduknya menggunakan batu untuk cebok. Atau masyarakat Timur Tengah yang menggunakan air untuk membersihkan kotoran karena sesuai ajaran agama.

Dalam riset “Toilet hygiene in the classical era” (2012), penggunaan tisu sebagai pembersih kotoran justru terdeteksi pertama kali di China, bukan dunia Barat. Kala itu, penduduk China berhasil menciptakan tisu sebagai pengembangan lebih lanjut dari kertas, yang juga pertama kali ditemukan di Negeri Tirai Bambu.

Jejak tisu toilet pertama kali muncul di Barat pada abad ke-16. Sastrawan Prancis, Francois Rabelais, adalah orang pertama yang menyebut soal tisu toilet. Itupun, katanya, tidak efektif digunakan buat cebok.

Lantas, jika disebut tidak efektif, kenapa tisu toilet terus digunakan oleh masyarakat Barat atau penduduk di iklim non-tropis?

Menurut situs Buzz Feed, penyebabnya adalah faktor cuaca. Cuaca dingin tentu saja membuat masyarakat di sana malas bersentuhan dengan air. Entah itu urusan mandi atau cebok. Sementara masyarakat tropis, tentu tidak keberatan kalau bersentuhan dengan air. Malah, jika tidak terkena air, seseorang merasa akan kegerahan.

Atas dasar inilah, terjadi perbedaan penggunaan media cebok antara dua masyarakat itu. Masyarakat Barat atau secara umum masyarakat beriklim dingin menggunakan tisu. Sedangkan, sisanya menggunakan air. Plus penggunaan air untuk cebok sejalan juga dengan ajaran keagamaan, baik itu di Islam atau Hindu.

Sebagaimana dilaporkan CNN International, kepopuleran tisu sebagai alat cebok oleh masyarakat non-tropis sejalan dengan kemunculan masif pabrik tisu, terlebih usai muncul inovasi baru, yakni tisu gulung pada 1890.

Meski begitu, selain oleh faktor iklim, ternyata ada alasan lain yang memengaruhi, yakni pola konsumsi. Orang bule yang biasa mengonsumsi makanan rendah serat menghasilkan kotoran yang lebih sedikit dan rendah air, sehingga mereka membersihkannya hanya dengan tisu.

Sementara orang Asia, Afrika, dan sebagian Eropa kebalikannya. Mereka sering menyantap makanan tinggi serat yang menghasilkan lebih banyak kotoran dan air. Alhasil, metode air pun jadi jalan terbaik membersihkan kotoran.

Terlepas dari perbedaan tim cebok pakai air atau tisu, riset ilmiah telah membuktikan bahwa cebok menggunakan air lebih bersih. Kotoran yang mengandung bakteri dan kuman bisa seluruhnya hilang.

Kendati demikian, cebok pakai tisu sulit dilepaskan karena sudah terlanjur terikat kebudayaan dan mengakar lintas generasi. Jadi, itulah alasan kenapa orang bule atau secara umum masyarakat beriklim dingin terbiasa cebok hanya pakai tisu. https://juswortele.com/

Mahfud MD Resmi Mundur dari Kabinet, Tinggalkan Gaji Segini

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin (Mahfud MD) resmi mengundurkan diri dari jabatannya Menteri Koordinator Politik, Hukum dan Keamanan (Menkopolhukam). Mahfud memberikan secara langsung surat pengunduran dirinya kepada Presiden Joko Widodo (Jokowi) di Istana Merdeka, Senin (1/2/2024).

“Saya baru saja diterima bapak Presiden, bapak Joko Widodo yang ditemani bapak Mensesneg. saya menyampaikan surat tentang kelanjutan tugas sebagai Menkopolhukam,” kata Mahfud.

Dia juga menjelaskan isi pertemuannya dengan Jokowi. 

“… Bapak presiden mengatakan Pak Mahfud ini adalah Menkopolhukam terlama dalam sepanjang pemerintahan pak Jokowi. Karena dulu Pak Tedjo (Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno) tak sampai setahun, Pak Luhut (Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan) setahun empat bulan kalau tidak salah, dan Pak Wiranto 3,5 tahun lewat 2 bulan. Saya hampir 4 tahun setengah.”

Menteri Koordinator Politik, Hukum dan Keamanan (Menkopolhukam) memberi keterangan pers kepada media di kantor Menko Polhukam, Jakarta, Kamis, (1/2/2024). (CNBC Indonesia/Muhammad Sabki)

Mundur dari jabatan sebagai Menko Polhukam, Mahfud secara otomatis melepas gaji dan sejumlah tunjangan sebagai menteri negara. Sebenarnya, berapa gaji dan tunjangan yang akan dilepas Mahfud jika benar-benar mundur dari Kabinet Indonesia Maju?

Menurut Peraturan Pemerintah (PP) Nomor 60 Tahun 2000, menteri negara saat ini diberikan gaji pokok sebesar Rp5.040.000 per bulan. Besaran angka ini tercantum di dalam Pasal 2.

“Kepada Menteri Negara diberikan gaji pokok sebesar Rp5.040.000 (lima juta empat puluh ribu rupiah) sebulan,” tulis Pasal 2 PP Nomor 60 Tahun 2000, dikutip Rabu (24/1/2024).

Namun, hak yang diperoleh menteri tidak hanya gaji pokok, tetapi juga tunjangan. Besaran tunjangan para menteri di Indonesia terakhir diatur dalam Keputusan Presiden (Keppres) Nomor 68 Tahun 2001.

Dalam Keppres tersebut, pejabat setara Menteri Negara mendapat tunjangan jabatan sebesar Rp13.608.000.

“Menteri Negara, Jaksa Agung, dan Panglima Tentara Nasional Indonesia dan Pejabat lain yang kedudukannya atau pengangkatannya setingkat atau disetarakan dengan Menteri Negara adalah sebesar Rp. 13.608.000 (tiga belas juta enam ratus delapan ribu rupiah),” tulis Keppres Nomor 68 Tahun 2001 Pasal 1 Ayat 2 poin e.

Jika ditotal maka Menteri Negara, termasuk Mahfud MD, memperoleh pendapatan sekitar Rp18.648.000. Dengan demikian, Mahfud akan melepaskan pendapatan hampir Rp19 juta per bulan. Namun, angka ini belum menghitung tunjangan lainnya maupun dana operasional yang diperoleh menteri.

Perlu dicatat, para menteri juga mendapatkan tunjangan lain serta fasilitas lainnya, yakni berupa rumah dan mobil dinas. Hal ini mengacu pada PP Nomor 50 Tahun 1980 tentang Hak Keuangan/Administratif Menteri Negara Dan Bekas Menteri Negara Serta Janda/Dudanya.

Jika ditotal, komponen tunjangan dan dana operasional menteri lebih besar dari gaji mereka. https://juswortele.com/

TikTok Krisis! Taylor Swift dan BTS Kompak Cabut

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Universal Music Group menarik musik Taylor Swift dan BTS dari TikTok. TikTok dituding menebar ancaman dan bullying dalam proses negosiasi.

Kesepakatan lisensi musik antara Universal dan TikTok kadaluarsa pada Rabu (31/1/2024). Kedua perusahaan belum berhasil mencapai kesepakatan baru. Artinya, seluruh katalog musik milik Universal termasuk lagu-lagu Taylor Swift dan BTS, lenyap dari TikTok.

Lewat surat terbuka, Universal menyatakan mereka mendorong tiga hal kepada TikTok dalam proses negosiasi kontrak yaitu kompensasi yang pantas untuk artis dan penulis lagu, pelindungan dari dampak negatif AI, dan keselamatan online untuk pengguna TikTok. 

Universal menyatakan bahwa mereka memilih untuk “berhenti sejenak di TikTok” untuk mendorong platform milik perusahaan China, ByteDance tersebut, menerapkan aturan yang lebih baik dalam hak AI, keselamatan online, dan bayaran yang lebih pantas untuk artis mereka seperti Taylor Swift, Drake, dan BTS.

Menurut Universal, TikTok menawarkan pembayaran ke artis dan penulis lagu “secuil dari bayaran yang diberikan oleh platform media sosial besar lainnya.”

Bahkan, pendapatan Universal dari TikTok saat ini hanya sekitar 1 persen dari total pendapatan lisensi. TikTok padahal punya basis pengguna yang besar dan terus tumbuh dengan pendapatan iklan yang makin besar serta platform yang sangat bergantung pada konten berlatar musik.

Universal juga menuding TikTok membiarkan “rekamanan rekayasa AI” banjir di platformnya, serta menyediakan perangkat yang “memberikan kemampuan serta mempromosikan musik ciptaan AI.” Menurut Universal, TikTok menawarkan kontrak yang membiarkan konten AI menggerus royalti yang dibayarkan kepada artis manusia.

TikTok telah menerbitkan respons atas tudingan Universal. “Sangat mengecewakan, Universal Music Group mengedepankan keserakahan di atas kepentingan artis dan penulis lagu di bawah mereka.” https://juswortele.com/

Ganjar Pranowo dan Anies Baswedan Sowan Emil Salim, Ada Apa?

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Ekonom senior Emil Salim menemui dua calon presiden peserta Pemilihan Umum Presiden dan Wakil Presiden 2024-2029 pada Sabtu (27/1/2024) dan Minggu (28/1/2024). Kedua capres itu adalah Ganjar Pranowo (nomor urut 03) dan Anies Baswedan (nomor urut 01).

Ditemui selepas pertemuan, Sabtu (27/1/2024), Ganjar mengatakan, Emil menitip pesan agar berani melakukan percepatan transisi penggunaan energi dari energi fosil ke energi terbarukan.

“Beliau berkali-kali dengan tangannya mengepal gitu (mengatakan), ‘Cepat, cepat, harus ada yang berani’. Itu situasi emosional yang beliau harapkan,” kata Ganjar di kediaman Emil seperti dilansir CNN Indonesia, Selasa (30/1/2024).

Emil mengatakan, lanjut Ganjar, permasalahan itu haruslah dihadapi dengan serius ke depannya.

“Betul bahwa ‘Eh, ada kapal Titanic yang mau nabrak es, kok kita masih nyanyi-nyanyi saja sih?'” ucap Ganjar mengulang ucapan Emil.

Emil, kata Ganjar, mempertanyakan alasan hingga kini tak ada sosok pemimpin yang berani mengambil keputusan. Menurutnya, penggunaan energi kotor haruslah segera ditindak seraya mempersiapkan sumber daya manusia Indonesia dengan baik.

Pada pertemuan itu, Ganjar juga mengaku Emil menyampaikan bagaimana isu perubahan iklim haruslah mendapatkan sorotan dari seluruh kandidat di Pilpres 2024. Ia mengatakan Emil menjelaskan itu dengan sangat baik dan sistematis.

“Kita tidak bisa hanya menyelesaikan problem itu, tapi lihatlah potensi di Indonesia,” kata Ganjar menirukan pesan Emil.

Selain itu, Ganjar juga mengaku Emil memintanya memperhatikan Indonesia bagian Timur secara serius. Hal itu disampaikan berulang-ulang.

Pesan untuk Anies
Sementara itu, Anies mengaku terhormat bisa berdiskusi dengan Emil. Emil kini menginjak usia 93 tahun.

“Tapi sepanjang pembicaraan tadi tidak sedikit pun beliau berbicara tentang masa lalu. Tidak ada kata dulu, tidak ada cerita kemarin, yang ada adalah tentang masa depan,” kata Anies, Minggu (29/1/2024).

Anies mengatakan kedatangan ke kediaman Emil dalam rangka memenuhi undangan. Anies mengatakan menerima undangan itu pada 25 Januari 2024.

Mantan Gubernur DKI Jakarta periode 2017-2022 ini mengagumi sosok Emil yang peduli masa depan bangsa. Anies menilai Emil sebagai sosok teladan bangsa.

“Pertanyaan-pertanyaan tentang masa depan, hal-hal tentang masa depan, lalu dia menyampaikan pandangannya, menyampaikan paparannya, bahkan beliau menceritakan bagaimana dengan skor PISA kita. Angka PISA kita. Hanya pribadi yang mengikuti perkembangan secara terus-menerus yang bisa membahas itu semua,” jelasnya.

Anies merasa senang bisa berdiskusi dengan Emil. Anies kemudian mengenang saat pertama kali bertemu Emil di Istana Bogor.

“Saya pertama kali berdiskusi dengan Pak Emil saya SMA kelas 3. Pak Emil waktu itu adalah Menteri Lingkungan Hidup, dan saya diajak bertemunya di Kebun Raya Bogor. Pulangnya naik mobil menteri pertama kali Volvo. Diajak Pak Emil dari Kebun Raya Bogor ke Jakarta, dan itu pengalaman yang pertama. Setelah itu banyak kegiatan-kegiatan yang kami kerjakan,” tuturnya.

Anies juga mengatakan hubungan keluarganya dengan Emil cukup dekat. Sehingga pertemuan semalam juga jadi momen silaturahmi.

“Saya banyak mendengar dan banyak bercerita juga, tadi dialognya dua arah dan pesan-pesan pak Emil terkait dengan masalah lingkungan, ketimpangan, menjadi pesan yang akan saya bawa ke depan,” katanya.

“Beliau banyak bicara mengenai bagaimana memajukan tempat-tempat yang tertinggal dan teman-teman sering dengar kan saya sering bicara tentang indeks pembangunan manusia yang timpang antara Jawa dan luar Jawa. Itu juga yang jadi perhatian kami,” imbuh Anies.

Anies menuturkan diskusi bersama Emil membahas masalah yang harus diselesaikan. Salah satunya soal bonus demografi, daerah tertinggal hingga penyelesaian ketimpangan.

“Soal bagaimana bonus demografi, bagaimana krisis iklim, bagaimana daerah yang tertinggal, bagaimana ketimpangan-ketimpangan itu diselesaikan. Sangat kaya dengan nuansa intelektualitas. Berdiskusi sampai jam setengah 12 malam, usia 93 tahun, tidak ada rasa kantuk. Dan satu hal, tidak bercerita dulu,” ucap Anies.

“Kan ciri-ciri orang tua itu mulainya dengan dulu. Dulu kita nggak bisa membahas karena kita belum pernah dulu, nggak selama itu dulunya,” lanjut dia seperti dikutip detik.com. https://juswortele.com/