Thursday, March 29, 2012

SC gives time to Centre to decide on nat monument status for Ram Setu

The Centre was granted more time by the Supreme Court to decide whether the mythological Ram Setu could be declared a national monument.

Appearing before a bench headed by Justice H L Dattu on Thursday, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Haren Raval submitted that consultation was needed on the issue with the competent authority and sought more time to file an affidavit on it.
"Take a decision whether or not to", the bench said, while granting the government two weeks time to take a decision. The bench then posted the matter for further hearing on 19th April.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy seeking the court's direction to declare Ram Setu a national monument.
Earlier, the bench had on 27th March directed the government to file an affidavit regarding its decision within two days.
"If you say you don't want to file counter affidavit, we can go ahead with the arguments in the case," the bench had said.
The case relating to Ram Setu came under judicial scrutiny after a batch of petitions were filed in the apex court challenging the ambitious Sethusamudram project, which was alleged to cause damage to the mythological bridge.
Sethusamudram project is aimed at constructing a shorter navigational route around India's southern tip by breaching the mythological Ram Setu, said to have been built by Lord Rama's army of monkeys and bears to the demon king Ravana's kingdom Lanka.
As per the Sethusamudram project, the shipping channel is proposed to be 30 metres wide, 12 metres deep and 167 kms long.

India for avoiding political disruptions that hit trade flow

India has pitched for avoiding political disruptions that create volatilities in global energy markets affecting trade flow as the BRICS Summit began in New Delhi to discuss ways to enhance intra-BRICS trade and review the situation in the region.

Addressing the fourth BRICS Summit, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh also said that the grouping has agreed to examine in "greater detail" a proposal to set up a South-South Development bank, funded and managed by BRICS and other developing countries.
He also urged member countries to speak in one voice on key issues such as UNSC reforms.
The Summit is being attended by Brazilian president Dilma Roussef, Chinese president Hu Jintao, South African president Jacob Zuma and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev besides Singh.
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) represent over 40 per cent of the world's population and the leaders of the five countries discussed ways to enhance intra-BRICS trade and review the situation in the region.
"We must avoid political disruptions that create volatilities in global energy markets and affect trade flow... We must ensure policy coordination to revive economic growth," he said.
On UNSC reforms, Dr. Singh suggested that BRICS countries should speak in one voice on issues such as reforms of the international body.
He also said in their restricted session, the grouping also discussed the ongoing turmoil in West Asia and agreed to work together for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Touching upon the issue of terrorism, Dr. Singh said the countries should enhance cooperation against terrorism and other developing threats such as piracy, particularly emanating from Somalia.
Emphasising that the global situation presents a mixed picture, Dr. Singh said responses to these challenges by different countries may be different, "but there is much common interest that binds us together".
"We are all affected by the global economic slowdown, the volatility in food and energy prices, the challenge of reconciling growth with environmental objectives, the political uncertainty in West Asia and the rise of terrorism and extremism."
“Our responses to these challenges may be different, but there is much common interest that binds us together," he said.
He cited ten specific issues which he believed concerned all the member countries including creating jobs, energy and food security, revival of global growth, breathing life to Doha round of trade negotitions and facilitation of funds for infrastructure development.
Commenting on India's need to generate 8-10 million jobs every year in the next decade, Dr. Singh said India would like to learn from the experiences of other BRICS countries on how they are dealing with these problems.
He also sought "room to cooperate internationally" on issues like energy, food and water security, saying "it is clear that constraints such as the availability of energy and food for countries that account for more than 40% of the world population can impede the entire story."
"Water is another critical area of scarcity which needs much greater attention than it has received thus far. We have much to learn from each other in how to handle these problems, and there is also room to cooperate internationally," Dr. Singh said.
He also urged the member countries as members of G-20 that they must together ensure that appropriate solutions are found to help Europe help itself and to ensure policy coordination that can revive global growth.
"As large and diverse economies, we should make a special effort to find ways to exploit intra-BRICS complementarities. We should promote greater interaction amongst our business communities. Issues such as easier business visas must be prioritised. As large trading countries, BRICS have a strong interest in removing barriers to trade and investment flows and avoiding protectionist measures," Dr. Singh said.
"To revive global demand and growth, developing countries need access to capital, particularly for infrastructure development. We must address the important issue of expanding the capital base of the World Bank and other Multilateral Development Banks to enable these institutions to perform their appropriate role in financing infrastructure development," Dr. Singh said.
Seeking improvement in global governance, the Prime Minister said BRICS should speak with one voice on important issues such as the reform of the UN Security Council.
"BRICS countries must also work together to address deficiencies in global governance. Institutions of global political and economic governance created more than six decades ago have not kept pace with the changing world. While some progress has been made in international financial institutions, there is lack of movement on the political side," Dr. Singh said.
He emphasised on the need to reduce energy intensity of GDP by promoting energy efficiency and developing clean energy sources.
This calls for greater investments in research and development, sharing of best practices, and encouraging transfer of technology, he said.
The BRICS nations had during their last summit in Sanya in China signed a framework agreement to enable them to grant credit in local currencies.
Though the BRICS countries have sharply varying political systems, they share some common geopolitical, economic and trading interests.
BRICS has no fixed agenda, but on certain issues like reform of the United Nations; greater representation in Bretton Woods institutions; managing global financial crisis and boosting intra-BRICS trade and cooperation, they mostly have common positions.
BRICS account for 26 per cent of the world's landmass and 42 per cent of the global population, including India and China, two of the world's most populous countries.
It accounts for 40 per cent of global GDP (USD 18.486 trillion) and its proportion is rapidly increasing.
The first BRICS Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia (2009), followed by Brasilia (2010) and Sanya, China (2011).
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera calls on Japan to join TPP
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has emphasized the benefits of Japan’s full participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal.The visiting president spoke to NHK in Tokyo. Chile is one of the 4 countries that first proposed the TPP.
Pinera said Japan’s participation not only has great significance for itself, but also for all countries involved in the TPP. The President said it is better for Japan to get involved before members agree on a framework because it can discuss and negotiate the outline of the trade deal’s structure.
Pinera also said it’s uncertain whether the 9 countries currently in the negotiations can reach a broad agreement to strike a deal this year.He said that differences remain in areas such as intellectual property and service trade.

Arab league summit to open in Baghdad

First Arab League Summit in Iraq in for more than 2 decades opens in Baghdad on Thursday.The summit gives the nation, devastated by two wars, the chance to show it is stable and rebuilding, following the full withdrawal of US forces in December.
But that stability does not come easily. Some 100,000 security troops are deployed in Baghdad, effectively blockading the capital to protect it against extremists.
Iraq has seen a string of terrorist incidents ahead of its first league summit in 22 years. More than 40 people died in a series of car bombs last week alone.
Violent crackdowns on civilians and rebel forces by the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad is expected to dominate the summit’s agenda.
The Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Baghdad on Wednesday has also highlighted differences within the group.
Libya, which toppled the government of late leader Muammar Qadhafi last year, is demanding that the league harshly deal with the Assad regime.
But Syria’s neighbor Iraq has refused further intervention.
All eyes will be on the Arab league leaders to see if they can pull together and overcome their differences.

Syria accepts Annan's six-point proposal to end violence

Syria has accepted joint UN- Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace proposal to end the violence, a move which the former UN chief described as an "important initial step" to begin an inclusive process of political dialogue in the country hit by deadly protests.

"The Syrian government has written to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan accepting his six point plan, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council," Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement.
Annan in turn has written to President Bashar Al-Assad urging the Syrian government to put its commitments into immediate effect.
Annan "views this as an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to the suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," his spokesman added.
Last week, the UN Security Council had supported Annan's six-point proposal, which he had submitted during his visit to Damascus earlier this month, and had called on both Syria's government and opposition to immediately implement it.
The proposal seeks to stop the violence and the killing, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees, and start an inclusive political dialogue to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
Annan has stressed that implementation of the proposal will be key, not only for the Syrian people who are caught in the middle of the crisis, but also for the region and the international community.
"As the Syrian government acts on its commitments, Annan will move urgently to work with all parties to secure implementation of the plan at all levels," the spokesman said
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H-1B visa applications to be accepted from April 2: US

Applications for the most sought after H-1B work visa used extensively by Indian IT professionals for the fiscal beginning October 1, would be accepted beginning April 2, a federal immigration agency announced on Tuesday.

The congressionally mandated numerical limitation on H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2012-13 is 65,000, as has been in the previous years.
Additionally, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals who have earned a US masters degree or higher are exempt from the fiscal year cap.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said H1B applications will be considered accepted on the date it takes possession of a properly filed petition with correct fee and not the date on which it was sent.
"If the number of applications received exceeds the numerical cap, USCIS will randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the numerical limit from the pool of petitions received on the final receipt date," USCIS said in a statement, adding that it will reject cap-subject petitions that are not selected, as well as those received after the final receipt date.
Petitions for new H-1B employment are exempt from the annual cap if the beneficiaries will work at institutions of higher education or related or affiliated non-profit entities, non-profit research organisations or governmental research organisations, USCIS said

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Research in Real TimeNewsletter_Mar2...Madagascar  

Dear Naresh,   

Today, the Worldwatch Institute released Vital Signs 2012, a compendium of all the Vital Signs trends we posted online over the last year from our Vital Signs Online. From organic farming to global meat production and consumptionVital Signs 2012 documents 24 trends that are shaping our future in concise analysis and clear tables and graphs. Click here to purchase a copy today.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption----approximately 1.3 billion tons----is lost or wasted each year. With nearly 1 billion people suffering from hunger, this amount of wastage is unacceptable. 

Luckily, organizations, such as Love Food, Hate Waste and Practical Action, are working with consumers and farmers to reduce that waste. But we want to know, what you are doing to reduce food waste? What are steps that we all can take to reduce food waste? Email me and let me know your thoughts! We will highlight some of your suggestions on Nourishing the Planet. 
All the best,
Danielle Nierenberg
Nourishing the Planet Project Director
Worldwatch Institute
Please connect with us on Facebook
Here are some highlights from the week:

Our Nourishing the Planet TV episode this week discusses a program that is helping farmers in Tanzania work together to increase their incomes, while healing the land. CARE International's Equitable Payment for Watershed Management program encourages, and works closely with, smallholder farmers to use intercropping and terraces to help restore soil.
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The United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) and Italian energy company Enel are teaming up in an effort to address food security and climate change by providing green cook stoves and solar panels to communities. Enel Trade has committed support to WFP's Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings Initiative, which provides high-efficiency cooking stoves to schools, community centers, and poor households for use in cooking WFP food rations.  
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In this guest post, Marketing Communication and Multi-media Specialist with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Jerome Bossuet discusses a new pilot project in the Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh. Led by the Water and Agriculture Working Group and run by ICRISAT, the project seeks to scale up the adoption of water-saving irrigation practices via the development of a simple, farmer-friendly irrigation decision-making tool. The project is developing a Simple Water Impact Calculator for farmers, which estimates the impact of their current practices on water conservation, and explores ways to use water more efficiently. 
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In this post, we discussedFirst Peoples Worldwide (FPW), an indigenous-led organization that aims to strengthen indigenous communities through the restoration of control over their assets. FPW advocates on behalf of Indigenous Peoples with governments, economic development institutions, and funders. It calls for U.S. and foreign governments to work directly with Indigenous Peoples in establishing mutually beneficial agreements. 
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In this TedxManhattan talk, "Raising Pigs & Problems: Saying No to Antibiotics in Animal Feed," the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Dr. Wallinga explains that producers in the large-scale meat production industry often incorporate antibiotics into their animal feed in an attempt to ward off disease, which can spread rapidly among animals kept confined in close quarters. But widespread use of antibiotics can actually create antibiotic resistance, making it harder to fight illness among animals and humans alike. Antibiotics that are present in animal waste leach into the environment and contaminate water and food crops, posing a serious threat to public health.   
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In this guest post, Agro-Insight Director, Paul Van Mele discussed his organization's partnership with theInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropicsto create a comprehensive series of 10 farmer-to-farmer videos to combat Striga, one of the world's most troublesome weeds. The "Fighting Striga" videos have been shown in farmer exchange visits and discussed at open-air evening screenings. They are effective because they are made according to the zooming-in, zooming-out (ZIZO) method, which relies on strong interactions with farmers. The ZIZO method results in regionally relevant and locally appropriate farmer-to-farmer training videos and can be applied to many topics.  
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Check out this National Geographic article, written by Worldwatch senior fellow and Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, Sandra Postel, which discusses a new study on humanity's water consumption, or its water footprint. Many everyday items contain surprisingly high water footprints----it takes 2,700 liters (713 gallons) to make a cotton t-shirt and 2,400 liters (634 gallons) to make a hamburger. The study alerts consumers and producers to areas where they can contribute to decreasing our global water footprint.  
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The Worldwatch Institute's 16th Annual State of the World Symposium will take place on April 11 and will be hosted at the Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C. Worldwatch President Robert Engelman and senior researchers Michael Renner and Erik Assadourian will speak at the event, where they will officially release State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable ProsperityState of the World 2012 includes sustainability discussions that range from agriculture to biodiversity, green jobs to economic degrowth, communications technologies to sustainable buildings, and local politics to global governance. Click here for more information and here if you would like to register for the event. 
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What did you think of this newsletter? Please give us your feedback...we will use your comments to constantly improve our work. Write Danielle Nierenberg, Senior Researcher and Project Director of Nourishing the Planet, at
Gary Player to receive PGA TOUR’s Lifetime Achievement Award

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., March 28, 2012: World Golf Hall of Fame member Gary Player, considered by many to be the greatest international golfer of all time, has been named the 10th recipient of the PGA TOUR’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  The winner of nine major championships, the modern Grand Slam and 165 tournament titles around the world, including 24 on the PGA TOUR and 19 on the Champions Tour, Player will be honored on May 9 at THE PLAYERS Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. 

Created in 1996, the Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the TOUR over an extended period of time through their actions on and off the course.  Player joins a distinguished list of past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients: Gene Sarazen; Byron Nelson; Arnold Palmer; Sam Snead; Jack Burke Jr.; Pete Dye; Deane Beman; Jack Nicklaus; and President George H.W. Bush.  

“This is a great honor,” said Player.  “Golf has allowed me to live a truly blessed life, and I have tried my best to give something back to the sport.  Being recognized with true gentlemen of the sport like Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus is humbling, and I will continue to help promote and support this wonderful game until the day I die.

“When I first arrived in America, I was not sure how I would be received as a foreign-born player, but the PGA TOUR and the American fans were absolutely fantastic and made me feel like one of their own.  It is difficult to put into words what that meant to me and my family, and I will always be thankful for the love and support I have received from this great country.”

“As one of the most accomplished – not to mention most-traveled – players in all of sports, Gary Player’s love of golf and his desire to use his talents to help everyone he comes in contact with make him most deserving of the PGA TOUR’s Lifetime Achievement Award,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.  “You would be hard pressed to find an aspect of the game or corner of the world that hasn’t been influenced by Gary and his positive attitude over the past 50-plus years.  He epitomizes the phrase ‘lifetime achievement,’ and it will be an honor to recognize him for all of his accomplishments at THE PLAYERS in May.” 

Player was born Nov. 1, 1935, in Johannesburg, South Africa, the third of three children to Harry and Muriel Player. His father was a captain in a gold mine. His mother was a well-educated woman who died of cancer when Gary was 8. Player wrote that her loss “has been a means for me, as it were, to settle some unfathomable debt.”

He chose to try to pay it back as a golfer, although he didn’t take up the game until he was 14. He turned professional four years later, in 1953, and quickly won several times in Africa, Europe and Australia. He came to the United States in 1957, and upon seeing how far the game’s best professionals hit the ball, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound Player intensified his exercise regimen, weakened his strong grip, which encouraged a hook, and set about learning how to carry the ball farther.

The next year, he won the Kentucky Derby Open and finished second at the U.S. Open.  From there, Player was off – in his trademark all-black outfits (inspired by one of his favorite American TV characters, Paladin, from the show “Have Gun Will Travel”); fit and trim physique (from a weight-lifting program and vegetarian diet that were both 30 years ahead of their time); and bunker game (considered one of the greatest ever developed).  He won the 1959 British Open at Muirfield for his first major, made the 1961 Masters his second and the 1962 PGA at Aronimink his third. At the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive, Player defeated Kel Nagle in an 18-hole playoff to complete the modern Grand Slam by age 29. 

His other majors included the 1972 PGA Championship, the 1968 and 1974 British Opens and the 1974 and 1978 Masters. The last is perhaps Player’s proudest victory. He began the final round seven strokes out of the lead. But at age 42, he birdied seven of the final 10 holes to shoot 64 and win by a stroke.

As an international ambassador to the game, Player has spent more than three years of his life in airplanes and traveled more than 15 million miles. In each year from 1955 to 1982, Player won at least one sanctioned international tournament, an unequalled 27-year streak. He won the World Match Play title five times, the Australian Open seven times and the South African Open 13 times. In winning the 1974 Brazilian Open, he shot the only 59 ever in a national open.

Player is a renowned golf course architect with more than 300 design projects located throughout the world, including The Links at Fancourt in South Africa, the site of The Presidents Cup 2003.  Player served as International Team captain at that event, as well as in 2005 and 2007. 

Founded in 1984, The Player Foundation built the Blair Athol Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has educational facilities for more than 500 students from kindergarten through grade eight.  The foundation, which has raised more than $50 million in its time, has expanded efforts in all corners of the globe, raising funds for impoverished children through four Gary Player Invitational events – in Europe, China, the United States and South Africa. 

Player was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.  He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of St. Andrews in 1995 and was named South African Sportsman of the Century in 2000.  He earned the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 for his dedication to charity and the Order of Ikhamanga (in gold) by President Nelson Mandela of South Africa for excellence in golf and contribution to non-racial sport in his home country.  In 2006, the PGA TOUR honored Player with the Payne Stewart Award, in recognition of philanthropic achievements and the exemplary manner in which he has conducted himself on and off the golf course.

The PGA TOUR is the world’s premier membership organization for touring professional golfers, co-sanctioning nearly 100 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour.
            The PGA TOUR’s mission is to entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, generate significant charitable and economic impact in communities in which it plays, and provide financial opportunities for TOUR players.
            PGA TOUR tournaments are broadcast to approximately 715 million households in 225 countries and territories in 29 languages. Virtually all tournaments are organized as non-profit organizations in order to maximize charitable giving. In 2011, tournaments on the three Tours generated more than $118 million for local charitable organizations, bringing the TOUR’s all-time total of charitable contributions to more than $1.7 billion.
Three players share lead in the 15th leg of Women’s Pro Golf Tour

Mumbai, March 28: Three players, including Smriti Mehra were in shared lead at the end of the first round of the 15th and final leg of the of the Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour. Smriti, who is all set to claim the WPG Order of Merit, shot a two-over par 72, as did Nalini Singh Siwach and Shraddhanjali Singh. The trio was followed by Neha Tripathi with a 73.

Saaniya Sharma shot 74 to fifth and Ankita Tiwana was sixth with a round of 77.

Nalini Singh had a disastrous nine at the par-5 fourth, where Smriti had an eagle. But despite that Nalini fought back for a 72 with four other birdies. She also had two bogeys.

Smriti, on the verge of topping the Money List, had an eagle, two double bogeys and two other bogeys. She also had two birdies.

Smriti has won six of the 14 events held on the Tour this season and accumulated Rs. 7, 32, 100 while Nalini has Rs. 6,63,400. So, Smriti should win the Order of Merit for the season, even if she does not win the last leg.

Competitiveness, climate, security Finn’s priorities Ministry of Finance release Finnish road map of EU presidency. Finland i...