Two external members of the Nobel literature prize committee quit on Monday after criticizing the scandal-hit Swedish Academy.

The 233-year-old Academy was forced to introduce several new measures after a sex scandal involving the husband of a former member escalated into a bitter row that meant it had to postpone the award for 2018.

External members were added to assist the Nobel committee in choosing prize candidates for the Academy to vote on.

Author Kristoffer Leandoer said he was leaving because he had "neither the patience nor the time" to wait for the committee to complete its reforms.

"The Academy and I have a different perspective on time, one year is far too long in my life and far too short in life of the Academy," he wrote in an article in Svenska Dagbladet.

Read also: Swedish Academy defends choice for 2019 Nobel literature prize

Leandoer said his decision was not linked to the decision to award the 2019 prize to controversial Austrian writer Peter Handke, for which the Academy has received criticism both domestically and internationally.

But Gun-Britt Sundstrom said in a statement published in Dagens Nyheter that the choice of Handke had been interpreted as if literature stood above politics and she did not share that view.

Handke has been heavily criticized for his portrayal of Serbia as a victim during the Balkan wars and for attending the funeral of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic died in 2006 in The Hague, where he was about to stand trial for war crimes.

The Academy confirmed that Leandoer and Sundstrom had left the Nobel committee, which until today was comprised of four members of the Swedish Academy and five external members.

"We are grateful for the significant effort they made during the year and we are now reviewing how the work of the Nobel Committee will be organised for the 2020 Nobel Prize in literature, " Mats Malm, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, said in a statement.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to Indonesia Mohammad Abdulla Al Ghfeli reaffirmed that deep bilateral relations between his country and Indonesia had been built under the principles of cooperation and mutual respect.

"The historical visit by His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Vice Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Indonesia in July 2019, served as a milestone in the bilateral relations between the two countries," Abdulla Al Ghfeli stated at a function marking the 48th UAE National Day in Jakarta on Monday.

The visit has strongly prompted both nations to develop their cooperation into strategic partnership, he pointed out.

During the historical visit, 12 cooperation agreements were inked between both nations in addition to various investment agreements valued at US$9 billion.

On the occasion, the ambassador praised the successful visit by Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan to the UAE some time ago to follow up on the visit by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to Indonesia in July 2019.

Abdulla Al Ghfeli also extended congratulations to the Indonesian government and nation over the inauguration of Joko Widodo and Ma'ruf Amin as the Indonesian president and vice president for the 2019-2024 period.

Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian and many ambassadors from friendly countries were also present at the commemoration of the 48th UAE National Day. (ANTARA)


As many as 27 soldiers of the Marine Infantry Brigade 2 in East Java will soon depart for Lebanon to join the Mechanical Battalion Task Force of the Indonesian Military's Garuda Contingent (TNI Konga XXIII-N/UNIFIL) and Force Protection Company (FPC) Task Force.

Commander of the Marine Infantry Brigade, Colonel Agus Gunawan Wibisono, said on Monday the 27 soldiers led by Second Lieutenant Assistant, Erdi Herdiyansyah, will join the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), with 26 of them joining the Mechanical Battalion Task Force of the TNI Konga XXII-N/UNIFIL and one joining the FPC Task Force.

"We hope that all the soldiers will perform their duties with a sense of responsibility and always maintain the good image of the Indonesian Navy Marine Corps, TNI, the nation and the state since the soldiers assigned abroad serve as envoys of the Indonesian nation," he said, while dispatching the soldiers at the Marine Infantry Brigade 2 Command Station in Sidoarjo, East Java.

The assignment is part of the Marine Corps' golden ink and proves that the Indonesian Navy Marine Corps is always present on the battlefield, Wibisono stated.

"In the mission of world peace under the aegis of the UN, I am proud that you have been selected to carry out the assignment in Lebanon. Keep up the good image of the Indonesian nation," he said.

The 27 soldiers will soon depart for Jakarta and then join the Marine Corps soldiers of the Marine Corp Command Station, marine troops 1, marine troops 3 and Marine Infantry Brigade 4/BS and later the Infantry battalion 726 Tamalatea.


Dressed in her protective wetsuit and scuba gear, Antigone Kouteri jumps into the murky waters of Zakynthos harbor in search of plastics -- and promptly snags her arm on a submerged object.

"It was a tire," offers her patrol mate Efthymis, coming up with a discarded beer bottle. "My treat!" he jibes.

The Ionian island of Zakynthos is one of Greece's most pristine travel destinations, renowned for its azure waters and fabulous beaches, an environment clean enough to be a major Mediterranean nesting ground sought out by loggerhead sea turtles.

But even here, plastic pollution poses a grave threat to wildlife.

Kouteri is one of nearly a dozen volunteers from Aegean Rebreath, a Greek organization formed in 2017 to protect Aegean biodiversity from waste.

Within three hours, the team has collected four tyres, two shopping carts, a street lamp, metal boxes, plastic bags, dozens of plastic bottles and several kilometers of fishing line.

"Marine litter is a global issue, so it is (present) in Greece. More than 70 percent of marine litter is plastic in Greece," says Katerina Tsagari, a biologist at the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research near Athens.

Tsagari says her team has found litter, most of it plastic, in about 75 percent of loggerhead sea turtles tested. 

Overall, they have found plastic ingestion in between 20 and 45 percent of the species tested, which include fish and mussels.

With a coastline of some 14,000 kilometers, one of the longest in the southeastern Mediterranean, Greece attracts tens of millions of tourists every year.

It's a regional problem. The Mediterranean, a partly closed sea, accumulates 570,000 tons of plastic annually from surrounding countries, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

WWF has reported that Greece produces 700,000 tons of plastic per year, or 68 kilos per capita. Out of that, 11,500 tons end up in the sea, it said.

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