Thursday, September 20, 2012

  1. Visiting Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has received prestigious Congressional Gold Medal, a rare honour bestowed to any foreign leader by the US administration.
    The National League for Democracy leader also met President Barack Obama on a day when the US lifted additional sanctions on Myanmar."This is one of the most moving days of my life, to be here in a house undivided, a house joined together to welcome a stranger from a distant land. This is a moment for which I have been waiting for many years," Suu Kyi said moments after receiving the honour on Wednesday.
    An emotional Suu Kyi also addressed a gathering of top American lawmakers, in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush was present.
    In her Congressional Gold Medal acceptance speech Suu Kyi said it has always been her opinion that democracy offers the best balance between freedom and security for all of them.
    "To be a full human being, we need both security and freedom. Without security, we cannot rest in peace necessary to discover the world to be the beautiful place that it can be. Without freedom we will be deprived of the opportunities that will make us more human and more humane," she said.

    Aung Min, Representative from President of Myanmar, and country's new Ambassador Than Swe were also present at the ceremony.

    "It's almost too delicious to believe, my friend, that you are here in the Rotunda of our great Capitol, the centerpiece of our democracy as an elected member of your Parliament, as the leader of the political opposition, the leader of a political party," Clinton said in her remarks on the occasion."I am so deeply moved by what she has stood for and what she has represented, first and foremost for the people of her country, but for people everywhere who yearn for freedom, whose voices deserve to be heard," she said.
    Terming her "an advocate, a symbol and an icon" Clinton praised Suu Kyi for not getting "satisfied" upon her release from house arrest.
    Laura Bush, who had been a supporter of Suu Kyi and her efforts during the previous Bush Administration, said that the transition in Myanmar, like past events in South Africa or Eastern Europe, shows that history has a hopeful direction."It's capable of miracles. There is a part of every soul that longs for freedom. And any government built on oppression is built on sand," she said."One of the most repressive governments on earth attempted to isolate and silence one woman. It must have seemed an easy task. Instead, the regime encountered an immovable object and its legitimacy broke against here character," Bush said.

    Suu Kyi later had her first face to face meeting with Obama, during which the US President welcomed democratic transition in Myanmar, the White House said.
    "The President reaffirmed the determination of the US to support their sustained efforts to promote political and economic reforms and to ensure full protection of the fundamental rights of the people of Myanmar," it said.In the meeting, Obama expressed his conviction that the ongoing process of reconciliation and reform will offer people of that nation an opportunity to take charge of their destiny and to shape a more peaceful, free, and prosperous future.
    Earlier in the day, the Obama Administration lifted sanctions against the Myanmar President Thein Sein and Lower House of Parliament Speaker Thura Shwe Mann by removing their names from the list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN).   This provides them access to property and assets and allows them to carry transactions involving US persons or in the United States, the Department of Treasury said.

    "Thein Sein and Thura Shwe Mann have taken concrete steps to promote political reforms and human rights, and to move Burma away from repression and dictatorship toward democracy and freedom, warranting today's delisting action," said Under Secretary of Treasury David S Cohen.

    Ever since Thein Sein took office as President in 2011, he has supported far-reaching reforms in the country, and besides maintaining a dialogue with Suu Kyi, has granted amnesty to hundreds of political prisoners and overseen elections in which she and other NLD members won seats in Parliament, Cohen said.


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  2. Gurgaon, September 19: Nalini Singh Siwach was off to another great start as she carded a two-under 70 and opened a three-shot lead at the end of the first round of the Hero-WGAI Women’s Pro Golf Tour. Nalini, still looking for his first win of the season, despite having come close to it more than once, is three clear of veteran Smriti Mehra, who has already won twice in first four legs.

    Neha Tripathi and Saaniya Sharma, also winless this year, are tied for third at 74 each, while Vani Kapoor struggled on the back nine with four bogeys in her 76 that put her in fifth place. Shraddhanjali Singh (77) completed the top-six.

    Nalini, who led for two rounds before being overtaken in the final round by experienced Smriti in Srinagar last week, had two birdies in first three holes on first and third on Wednesday. She was steady with pars till the 12th, where she dropped her lone bogey of the day. A birdie on par-5 14th brought her back to two-under and she stayed there.

    Smriti Mehra with a bogey on second and seventh and a birdie on third turned in one-over. A double bogey on 14th and a bogey on 16th, put her at three-over, but the experienced Smriti turned the situation around with great birdies on 17th and 18th to stay in touch with the leader.

    Neha had just one birdie against three bogeys in her 74 and Saaniya after three bogeys had to wait till the 18th for her only birdie.Vani Kapoor bogeyed the second and then bogeyed the 10th. But three bogeys in a row from 14th to 16th saw her at five-over before a birdie on 18th gave her some consolation in a round of 76.

    This season Smriti is the only multiple winner with two titles, while Sharmila and Vani have won once each.
    In the first round Ankita Tiwana was unlucky as she was docked a two-shot penalty as her caddie took a short cart ride without the player knowing. Ankita ended the day at 80, two behind Rani Sonti and Meghna Bal, both of whom had 78.

    Last week in a similar incident Nalini Singh (Sr) had suffered a penalty and missed the cut.
    Tee times for Round 2:
    8:30 AM: Priya Puri (86) / Pallavi Jain (85)
    8:40 AM: Vandana Agarwal (83)/ Preetinder Kaur (82)/Nikki Ponappa (80)
    8:50 AM: Ankita Tiwana (80) / Meghna Bal (78) / Rani Sonti (78)
    9:00 AM: Shraddhanjali Singh(77)/ Vani Kapoor (76)/ Saaniya Sharma (74)

    9:10 AM: Neha Tripathi (74) / Smriti Mehra (73) / Nalini S. Siwach (70)


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  3. New Delhi Sept. 19, 2012. Vishwa Hindu parishad (VHP) welcomes Delhi high court ban on Beef & pork party at JNU and asks JNU & Delhi police to arrest those who were directly or indirectly organising or supporting the party. welcomming the decission shri Satyendra Mohan, secretary general VHP-Delhi said that it is the victory of all Gau Bhakts (cow worshipers) and a slap on the face of the JNU administration & Police who fails to book the culprits spreading hatred in the compus and provocating sentiments of Hindus.

    The Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Delhi police were today ordered by the high court of Delhi to ensure that no beef and pork food festival is held in the central university campus.

    "The JNU and Delhi Police are directed to ensure that no such beef and pork festival takes place on September 28 or in future," a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.


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  4. For these articles and more, connect with us on the Nourishing the Planet website!

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    Research in Real Time

    Dear Naresh,

    For the last two weeks, foodies, farmers, and scientists have been debating the validity of a study released by Stanford University about the nutritional quality of organic produce. The analysis concludes that organic foods—foods grown without pesticides and other agro-chemicals—are not superior in quality to conventionally produced varieties. According to the study, the risk of exposure to pesticides and other harsh chemicals is only negligibly higher in conventional foods. In other words, the study argues that consumers who pay higher prices for the supposed health benefits of organic foods have been wasting their money. But our friends Chuck Benbrook, Dawn Undurraga, and Francis Moore Lappe disagree.

    Although the Stanford study claims that there is a 30 percent “risk difference” between organic and conventional foods, Chuck Benbrook, a scientist and former Executive Director of the Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences, finds, “an overall 81 percent lower risk or incidence of one or more pesticide residues in the organic samples compared to the conventional samples”—using Stanford’s data. This discrepancy is the result of the Stanford researchers’ decision to omit certain criterion from their system of analysis, such as the difference between single and multiple pesticide traces (i.e. the difference between an organic apple containing a trace amount of one pesticide, and a conventional apple lathered in a highly-concentrated assortment of different pesticides).

    Even if the Stanford analysis were accurate, it wouldn't warrant the “breaking news” media attention it has received. Dawn Undurraga of the Environmental Working Group notes that as a new mom, even a 31 percent difference in pesticide residue is enough to reinforce her preference for organic foods. She reminds us that even using the low Stanford figures, a consumer is five times more likely to ingest pesticides with conventional than with organic varieties—a fact that the mainstream media has completely overlooked.

    And Francis Moore Lappe, in a Huffington Post article, reprehends the Stanford scientists for not considering long term studies of organic versus conventional consumption in their analysis (the studies they used ranged from two days to two years). Ms. Lappe notes that the short-term studies used in the research are inadequate for determining the health impacts of pesticide consumption--she says “it is well established that chemical exposure often takes decades to show up, for example, in cancer or neurological disorders.”

    And the Stanford study didn't consider the environmental impacts of organic versus conventional food production. Organic food procurement has a host of benefits, none of which are acknowledged in the report: it contributes to increased biodiversity in the field—more birds and beneficial insects, better soil biota—and to decreased pollution associated with the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. And American farm workers, who have an average lifespan of 49 years, will likely benefit from a decrease in the application of pesticides.

    What do you think about the Stanford study and the media attention is has received? Do you think that organic food is healthier? Email me with your thoughts!

    All the best,

    Danielle Nierenberg

    Nourishing the Planet Project Director

    Worldwatch Institute


    Phone: +1-202-590-1037

    P.S. Also please connect with Nourishing the Planet on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Flickr where you will find infographics, quotes, original video, articles, and news that can't be found anywhere else.

    Here are some highlights from the week:

    Mobile Farming Helps Farmers Save Time, Water, and Electricity

    Managing irrigation pumps and water systems is a difficult and costly task for many farmers in developing countries. The amount of time and energy farmers spend watering their crops often compromises time that could otherwise be used for family and community obligations. It also compromises their safety at night, when they are most vulnerable to animal predators. A new innovation from the India based company, Ossian Agro Automation, called Nano Ganesh seeks to transform the way farmers manage their water systems by giving them the freedom to turn pumps on and off, from any location, with their mobile phone.

    Benbrook Study on GM Crops and Pesticides

    New data from a study carried out by Chuck Benbrook shows that GM crops do not reduce the quantity of pesticides used in their production over time, and crops now considered herbicide-tolerant include corn (Bt corn varieties), soy, and cotton (Bt cotton varities). During 2011, over 16 million farmers worldwide were involved in planting 160 million hectares of GM crops, making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in modern times.

    Coping with Climate Change and Food Insecurity in East Africa

    A landmark study published recently by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security surveyed over 700 farming households in East Africa about how they are coping with climate change. Researchers set out to answer the seemingly simple question, “Are households that are more innovative more likely to be food secure than less-innovative farming households?”

    Saturday Series: An Interview with Ken Dabkowski

    Ken has been a part of M·CAM and the Global Innovations Commons (GIC) initiative for about 3 years. At M-CAM he helps the organization with its communications and foreign affairs. The key concept behind all M·CAM initiatives is the idea that while everyone on the planet does not have access to the same resources, everyone does have access to creativity. Prior to working with M·CAM, Ken worked at The Arlington Institute, a future technologies think tank located in Virginia.

    The United Nations Environment Programme Announces 22nd International Children's Painting Competition on the Environment

    The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is sponsoring the 22nd International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment. The painting competition has been held since 1991 and has received entries from more than three million children in more than 150 countries. This year’s theme is “Water: The Source of Life.” Children from all over the world are invited to submit their original paintings to the UNEP office in their region by February 29, 2013.

    Citywatch: Forest Gardens in Honduras Make the Best of Two Worlds

    Yorito, Honduras. The drought-parching harvests in several of the world’s most productive food baskets is the summer’s hottest global food story. Eerily, it’s matched by the season’s hottest archeological finding, which comes across as a cautionary tale. Benjamin Cook, who sifts through mountains of computerized data rather than dusting off shards of pottery like old-fashioned archeologists, developed a climate model that explains one of the great mysteries of Western hemisphere history — the sudden collapse of the advanced and mighty Mayan Empire roughly 1,300 years ago.

    Nourishing the Planet in Forbes

    Nourishing the Planet was featured in a Forbes article, “Want More than Food Porn? Try These Info-Filled Sites,” published last week. The article lists four websites that “help visualize serious issues for interested viewers.” Nourishing the Planet, the article writes, “has an overall fresh new look and feel to their site and they run several informative food and agriculture blogs.”

    Copyright © 2012 The Nourishing the Planet Project, All rights reserved.

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  5. Iqbal Khan is second recipient of The Royal Award for Islamic Finance
    Prominent Islamic banker Iqbal Khan has been announced as the second recipient of the prestigious Royal Award for Islamic Finance (The Royal Award). He received the Award from His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Almu’tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah ibni AlMarhum Sultan Badlishah, the King of Malaysia, during a Gala Dinner here tonight.

    The Royal Award is presented to Iqbal Khan for his dedication, drive and extraordinary leadership in accelerating the global growth and accessibility of Islamic finance. The award recipient was selected by a panel of seven independent international jurors. A total of 32 nominations were received, comprising influential leaders with various backgrounds in the Islamic finance industry from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North America and Asia Pacific.

    The award selection criteria focused on both qualitative and quantitative aspects to honour an individual’s exceptional contribution to the global development of Islamic finance, in the areas of financial innovation, exceptional leadership and vision, serving as an inspiration and influence towards future progress and development in this arena.

    Commenting on the recipient of The Royal Award, Jury Chairman Tun Musa Hitam said, “The Jury went through a very stringent and rigorous selection process on the nominees’ merits and achievements, which resulted in several rounds of deliberations, followed by a very robust discussion on the critical and objective assessment of the shortlisted candidates before arriving at a final decision. The Award recognises Mr Iqbal Khan’s contribution towards the development of Islamic finance that serves as an inspiration for the next generation.”

    Iqbal Khan has had a prominent role in the course of facilitating, promoting and innovating Islamic finance on a global scale. His passion in providing ethical, community-based financial services has led him to drive further interest among international financial institutions, regulators and academia towards Islamic finance.

    Iqbal Khan was instrumental in establishing a number of institutions and initiatives in the Islamic finance industry, including Citi Islamic Investment Bank, the Islamic Finance Project at Harvard University, Meezan Bank, HSBC Amanah and most recently Fajr Capital, of which he is Founding Board Member and Chief Executive Officer.

    He also had an important role in innovating and promoting global sukuk as a mechanism to raise capital by sovereign governments. With his leadership and dedication, Iqbal Khan motivated the push for global sovereign sukuk and led the Shariah thought-process towards greater understanding of the concept of foreign currency global sukuk. Successfully proven in creating the evolutionary move from basic banking and finance to more sophisticated product structures, global sovereign sukuk have today become the mainstream fund raising instrument for sovereigns.

    In his acceptance speech, Iqbal Khan said, “I am greatly honoured to receive this distinction, but our work has just begun. The Islamic finance industry has to create role model institutions and economies to create a demonstration effect across the world. Giving capitalism a moral compass is a vision we can all commit ourselves to.”

    Apart from helming Fajr Capital Limited, Iqbal Khan is also presently Chairman of the Executive Committee and board member of Jadwa Investment in Saudi Arabia.

    In 2006, he received the Euromoney Award for Outstanding Contribution to Islamic Finance, and was nominated and voted by the Islamic Financial News as the Best Individual Islamic Banker for 2005. He was also recognised by the United States House of Representatives in 2000 for his contribution in the field of finance and economics. In the same year, he won the LARIBA Award for Excellence in Islamic Banking Practitioner's Division.

    The Royal Award was spearheaded by the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) initiative and supported by Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia. The recipient of The Royal Award was selected by an independent and international jury comprising prominent individuals with diverse background, namely Tun Musa Hitam as Jury Chairman, Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Professor Dr. Volker Nienhaus, Professor Dr. Abbas Mirakhor, Dr. Mohamed Ali Elgari, A. Riawan Amin and Dr. Yahia Abdul-Rahman.

    The first recipient of The Royal Award for Islamic Finance in 2010 was Dallah Albaraka Group Founder Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel of Saudi Arabia.

    For more information on The Royal Award, please visit


    On behalf of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) Initiative


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  6. New Delhi, 20 Sep 12:Sagara Media Inc: The 31st Annual Coast Guard Commanders’ Conference was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Shri AK Antony at 0900 hrs on 20 Sep 12 at New Delhi. The conference has been scheduled for three days and will help the Coast Guard Commanders in analysis of the operational capabilities, deployment of forces and preparations for the future challenges. The Commanders will introspect the standards achieved in the wide spectrum of Coast Guard responsibilities.
    Speaking at the inauguration, the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Shri AK Antony complimented all the Coast Guard personnel for their commitment, courage and involvement while discharging their duties. He highlighted that issue of coastal security will continue to occupy a prominent position in our national security matrix. The role of fishing community is vital in strengthening of coastal security mechanism. Community interaction programmes to be given impetus in order to sensitize the fishing community on the prevailing security situation and to develop them to be the “eyes and ears” for intelligence gathering.

    The Director General, Indian Coast Guard, Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan, AVSM, NM in his address highlighted the progress made by the Coast Guard in acquisition cases of various types of ships and aircrafts, development of infrastructure, induction of manpower in the service and enhanced efforts for surveillance of the coast and the sea areas. 01 PCV, 04 IPVs, 02 ACVs, 01 IB and 04 ICs have been inducted into the service. The Coast Guard aims to achieve a force level of 150 surface platforms by the year 2018.

    01 RHQ (North East) and 05 Stations (ICGS Dahanu, Androth, Krishnapatnam, Karaikal & Kolkata) have been established till date. The remaining 06 sanctioned stations at Pipavav, Nizampatnam, Gopalpur, Frazerganj, Mayabunder & Kamorta are slated to be established by Mar 2013. One Dornier Squadron has been established at Porbandar since the last Commanders' Conference. Establishing of 02 Air Stations, 05 Air Enclaves and 04 Dornier Squadrons has also been prioritized.
     Coast Guard has been putting up concentrated efforts towards setting up of Coastal Surveillace Network (CSN) and as a part of this CSN network Maharashtra cluster, Gujarat cluster and Kerala cluster has been commissioned. The setting up of CSN will enhance the electronic surveillance capability of the Coast Guard. The surveillace Network is an important component of coastal security mechanism, which will ensure identification and monitoring of maritime traffic. The phase – I of project is envisaged to be completed on Mainland and Islands by end Oct 12 and Mar 13 respectively.

     During the last one year, a total of 348 precious lives were saved, out of which 210 lives were rescued by Indian Coast Guard independently and remaining 138 lives were saved in coordination with various maritime agencies. The coastal security mechanism has been fine tuned for optimum response to maritime threats through regular exercises & operations. 67 Coastal Security exercises and 58 Coastal Security operations have been conducted in consultation with Central/State agencies.

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  7. More than five crore business establishments all over India today kept their shutters closed today observing Bharat Vypar Bandh call given by the Confederation of All India (CAIT) in protest against decision of the Union Cabinet to allow FDI in Retail Trade . In Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat,Karnatka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Rajasthan,Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orrisa, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand,Bihar and other states , the shopkeepers kept their shops completely closed. Commercial Markets across the Country wore deserted look and no trading activity took place. The day long Bandh was supported by several political parties including BJP, CPI(M), CPI, JD (U), BSP and SP etc. More than 25000 trade bodies across the Country participated in Bharat Vyapar Bandh today.

    At Jantar Mantar in New Delhi today, large number of traders participated in a 'protest dharna". The protestors shouted anti-FDI slogans and were carrying playcards reading " FDI in Retail-Indian Trade on "Sale", Khudra Bazar Main Videshi Nivesh-Gulam Banega Apna Desh", Retail Vyapar Main Videshi Kampanio Ka Pravesh Band Ho", Hum Saaman Bechte Hain-Samman Nahin", Videshi Kampnia Aayengi-Mehngai Dahej Main Layengi", "Roll Back- FDI in Retail Trade". NDA convenor Sharad Yadav, BJP President Shri Nitin Gadkari, BJP Leader Dr. Murli Joshi, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Shri Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary Shri A.B. Bardhan alongwith leader no of other political parties joined the Protest Dharna.

    " It was a successful Trade Bandh which amply demonstrated the anger and resentment of the trading community of India on crucial issue of FDI in Retail"-said Mr. B.C.Bhartia and Mr.Praveen Khandelwal, National President & Secretary Genral,respectively of the CAIT. Not only the traders but nearly 22 crore other people including transporters,hawkers, daily wage earners,employees etc will also be adversaly affected. The FDI in Retail will also cause much damage to the farmers,added the trade leaders.

    The CAIT leaders strongly objected the statement of Government calling them as "middlemen" responsible for eating huge margin in supply chain. In last few days on media too, the persons defending the Govt are painting traders as an unwanted stuff in India. Such an attitude needs strong condemnation. The Government has utterly failed in providing necessary infrastructure required for smooth retail trade in India.It has also failed in keeping check over the mass scale hoardings being done by the domestic corporate houses and to cover up its failure,blaming the traders can not be tolerated,said trade leaders.

    Both Mr. Bhartia and Mr. Khandelwal said that the arguments advanced by the Government in support of its decision are hollow and not substantiated by any authoritative logic. They demanded the Government to consider recommondations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee which submitted its unanimous report on 8th June,2009. The said report backed by in depth research and study is a guiding document for bringing reforms in retail trade. The CAIT while demanding the Govt to withdraw the decision also demanded formation of a Joint Task Force consisting of Senior Officials and stakeholders to suggest further remedial measures for re-structuring the retail trade.

    For more information please contact CAIT, Secretary General, Mr. Praveen Khandelwal@9891015165, 9310199771.

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