Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Editorial, New Age,Hanging of Afzal Guru

The secretive manner in which the secondary accused of attack on Parliament, Afzal Guru, was hanged had expectedly given rise to a fresh bout of controversies on the whole question of our strategy to fight terrorism. While the extra nationalist forces including those who look at the entire problem of terrorism with communal angle and had been using the issue of Afzal’s hanging for limited political purposes are gloating over the hanging, the more sobre elements are worried over the way the government violated certain established legal procedures in rushing to implement the Supreme Court verdict to send Afzal Guru to the gallows, particularly about its fall out in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP for long had been campaigning for immediate hanging of Afzal Guru, who was not directly involved in the attack on Parliament as it feared that the section of society that was not satisfied with the verdict of the Supreme Court to send the accused to gallows as it was more to satisfy “the collective conscience of the nation” than on the actual evidence, may lead to fresh trial. The attack on Parliament took place when BJP-led NDA was in power and there was sudden rise in terrorist attacks on legislatures and other public institutions including J&K assembly, Akhshardham Mandir and Red Fort. This happened in the background of 9/11 attack on the symbols of military and economic might of America. It was apprehended that the Vajpayee government had swallowed the theory on global terrorism doled out by American administration, particularly the then US president George Bush who had termed the 9/11 attack as the beginning of fresh ‘crusade’.  This apprehension will continue to haunt us for long, as the anti-terrorism policy carved out by the NDA regime continues to be core of the present UPA regime as well.
It is obvious that the UPA-II government decided to hang Afzal Guru  in haste and in a secretive manner to  score brownie points over BJP in the run up to the great battle in 2014  and in the process violated rule of law and basic human rights on more than one score.  After the rejection of mercy petition by the President, the convict has the right of review petition. In this case that right has been denied. Secondly, not only as per rules but even on simple humanitarian ground, the family of the convict is allowed to have last meeting within the prison. This too has not been complied by the government. Thus it is accused of not only violating laws but basic human rights.
The most comical part of the episode is sending of the information to Guru’s family through Speed Post. As the government is very well aware that, leave apart the deterioration on postal services,  in normal course also the speed post could have not reached  the family before the actual hanging. It did so as it had decided to keep the whole thing a secret and do in haste.
The authorities may dole out the argument that “secretive approach” was adopted in view of impact on law and order situation. But it has worked contrary to the expectation. The entire valley of Kashmir had been put under curfew. There are clashes between protesters and security forces. The entire illegality and secretive approach of the government has further strengthened the sense of alienation among Kashmiris. They rightly feel that the convict has been denied legal rights that were  honoured  in the case of  hanging of killers of Indira Gandhi. This is treated as continuing the discrimination against Kashmir.
The growing sense of alienation and frustration will adversely affect the overall situation in Jammu and Kashmir that has shown remarkable return to normalcy in the past two years, particularly since the visit of all party parliamentary delegation and assurance by all parties that all genuine grievances of the people of the state will be looked into. Though the government has done nothing concrete to implement the assurance its current mis-adventure is bound to have very adverse impact.
 The government should give up the habit of taking arbitrary measures in the sensitive border state of Jammu and Kashmir and work on a plan to evolve a comprehensive policy by taking all the political parties and forces both in the state and the country as a whole into confidence. The beginning must be corrective measures, at least, regarding the demand  related to performance of last rites of Afzal Guru.  

Wrestling dropped from 2020 Olympics

Wrestling dropped from 2020 Olympics
International Olympic Committee (IOC) leaders have dropped wrestling from the 2020 Games in a surprise decision, leading to scrapping one of the oldest sports on the Olympic program.

The IOC executive board decided on Tuesday to retain modern pentathlon - the event considered most at risk and remove wrestling instead from its list of core sports.
The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic program.
Eliminating one sport allows the IOC to add a new sport to the program later this year.
Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.
The sport featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year’s London Olympics.
Wrestling will now be listed with seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020.
The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.
They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.
The IOC executive board will meet in May at St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for the 2020 inclusion.
The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball.
The two were voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games.
Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama's announcement to withdraw half the US force in Afghanistan shows his determination to end the war, but leaves open the question of long-term American support for Kabul.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama unveiled plans to scale back American forces from 66,000 to 32,000 within 12 months, as part of a long-standing goal by Washington and its allies to pull out nearly all combat troops by the end of 2014.
"Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over," Obama said.
Obama has yet to say how many troops he wants to keep in Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal in 2014, but officials have indicated the White House wants a much smaller presence than initially favored by the Pentagon.
The US will help its allies confront an evolving Al-Qaeda threat and be more transparent with the American people in the fight against terror groups, President Barack Obama said.
Al-Qaeda was now a "shadow" of the group that was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, Obama said in his annual State of the Union address.
But he warned lawmakers gathered in the imposing US Congress: "Different Al-Qaeda affiliates and extremist groups have emerged -- from the Arabian Peninsula to Africa. The threat these groups pose is evolving."
To battle the threat, the US does not need "to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad, or occupy other nations," Obama said.
"Instead, we will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya and Somalia
provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to
terrorists, as we have in Mali."
The United States has been providing support to French troops, who deployed in northern Mali last month to help the Malian army flush out Al-Qaeda-linked rebels who seized control of the area last year.

But amid a fierce debate about more secretive US actions, Obama said
Washington would not shy away from taking "direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans."
The issue burst into the spotlight after Obama was forced last week to give lawmakers access to secret documents outlining the legal justification for drone strikes that kill US citizens abroad who conspire with Al-Qaeda.
The move came on the eve of the Senate hearing on Obama's nomination of his top White House anti-terror adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency in his second term.
Some senators had warned they would use Brennan's confirmation as leverage to force the administration to share more information on the legal and constitutional grounds for the US government killing its own citizens.
Obama aides have insisted that killing Al-Qaeda suspects, including
occasionally US citizens, in hotspots like Yemen complies with US law and the Constitution, even when no intelligence links the targets to specific attack plots.
Obama said the administration had worked to keep Congress "fully informed" of counterterrorism efforts. He acknowledged though that "in our democracy, no one should just take my word that we're doing things the right way."
"So, in the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world," Obama added.

Antony Orders CBI Probe into Augusta Westland

Antony Orders CBI Probe into Augusta Westland deal for 12 VVIP Choppersn
Press reports have appeared from time to time on the subject of Italian prosecutors having initiated a probe into the alleged unethical dealings of M/s. Finmeccanica, Italy. The probe had been widened to include the Indian contract signed with M/s. Augusta Westland (UK).
The said contract was signed in February, 2010 for the purchase of 12 helicopters. In view of media reports, MoD through the Ministry of External Affairs had sought information from the Governments of Italy and UK. No specific inputs were, however, received substantiating the allegations.
In a recent report, appearing in certain sections of the media, it has been reported that the Chairman of M/s. Finmeccanica has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the case of the sale of helicopters to India. The contract signed with M/s. Augusta Westland includes specific contractual provisions against bribery and the use of undue influence as well as an Integrity Pact.
Since no specific input has been received so far from the two Governments, MoD has decided to refer the case to CBI for inquiry.

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China Food Waste
A monthly update on the Worldwatch Institute's Food and Agriculture program's latest publications, events, and research on environmental, food, and sustainable development topics.
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WW Report 179
Land makes up a quarter of Earth's surface, and its soil and plants hold three times as much carbon as the atmosphere. More than 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions arise from the land use sector. Thus, no strategy for mitigating global climate change can be complete or successful without reducing emissions from agriculture, forestry, and other land uses.  
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In China, rising incomes and urban populations are going hand in hand with a growing food waste problem.
February 11, 2013. 
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February, 2013
Dear Naresh,Top
Worldwide, 30 to 40 percent of all food produced is either lost or wasted between the stages of production and consumption. In developing countries, postharvest crop losses (i.e. crops that spoil before reaching the market) contribute to malnourishment and food insecurity, which stymie both human well-being and economic development. In all countries, food waste (i.e. food that is purchased and thrown away) contributes to global methane emissions, which are 20 times more environmentally harmful than carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Although food waste is a global concern, it occurs primarily in high- and medium-income countries. In China, for example, over 200 billion Yuans (US$32 billion) worth of food is thrown away annually, even as 128 million Chinese live below the poverty line. And in the United States, consumers generate enough food waste annually to satisfy "every empty stomach" in Africa, according to the UN World Food Programme.   

In addition to its humanitarian implications, food waste has a sizeable environmental footprint. According to the EPA, food waste is the number one material in U.S. landfills, which are in turn responsible for 34 percent of national methane emissions. Wasting food also means wasting the resources that were used to produce it, such as land, water, and fossil fuels (i.e. for farm machinery, transportation, and the production of fertilizer). This unnecessary resource consumption contributes to environmentally harmful outcomes, including deforestation, water scarcity, pollution, and climate change.

As a consumer, have you found or heard of innovative ways to curb food waste? Send your comments, and we'll incorporate your ideas into a Nourishing the Planet blog!   

All the best,
Laura Reynolds and Sophie Wenzlau
Food and Agriculture Program
Worldwatch Institute

Make a gift today! Visit our online donation page.

Despite the growing worldwide demand for organic food, clothing, and other products, the area of land certified as organic still makes up just 0.9 percent of global agricultural land. In 2010, the latest year for which data are available, 37 million hectares of land were organically farmed-an area that has grown more than threefold since 1999. Reliable data are lacking for land that is farmed using organic principles but that is not certified organic. Many farmers, particularly subsistence farmers or those selling to local markets, farm organically but do not acquire organic certification.  
As household incomes, urban populations, and overall food consumption in China continue to rise, the country faces serious problems of food waste, natural resource scarcity, and overflowing landfills. Currently, over 200 billion Yuan's (US$32 billion) worth of food is thrown away annually nationwide, even as 128 million Chinese live below the poverty line and often lack sufficient food. Fortunately, some organizations and individuals are taking steps to ensure that less food goes to waste. 

Nourishing the Planet recently spoke with Ela R. Bhatt, the founder of India's Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and several other organizations that work to economically empower women. A Gandhian practitioner of non-violence and self-reliance, Bhatt has dedicated her life to improving the lives of India's poorest and most oppressed women workers. SEWA helps women working in informal sectors, such as agriculture or childcare, gain the same rights, securities, and self-reliance as those who are formally employed. 

Around the world, gardens provide food for local communities, serve as educational tools, and empower the poor. In sub-Saharan Africa, where 22.5 million people live with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), humanitarian and environmental organizations are turning to community gardens for nutritional and social benefits for HIV patients. By disseminating resources and information, organizations are helping to increase access to healthy foods for the poor, hungry, and sick, and enable families to develop productive and sustainable food gardens just outside their front doors. 

Sea buckthorn, also known as Siberian pineapple, sea berry, sandthorn, or swallowthorn, is a deciduous shrub that grows natively across northern Eurasia. As its name suggests, sea buckthorn's branches are dense, stiff, and thorny, but its berries can provide nutrition for both people and wildlife. Beyond its human health benefits, sea buckthorn also boosts the health of the environment in which it grows. Because its extensive root system can bind together even sandy soils, sea buckthorn prevents water and wind erosion on slopes and in open areas.

Food and Agriculture Program in the NewsNews

In Web and media coverage, our recent Vital Signs Onlinetrend on global organic farming was featured in the Inter Press ServiceVoice of America, the Hindu Business Line, the Daily Monitor, and The Daily Meal
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