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Showing posts from February 24, 2008

La Niña: Bad science?

Source: Oxford Analytica La Niña, the climate event caused by unusually cool waters in the eastern Pacific, has strengthened and, according to some scientists, has been responsible for many recent extreme weather events. With the latest data on the phenomenon due out on Wednesday, this latest episode may not have reached its peak. However, there is little consensus as to what can and cannot be attributed to La Niña, and scientists are divided as to whether or not La Niña may produce more extreme weather conditions in the future. Bad girl La Niña is the meteorological baby sister of the better-known El Niño event: During an episode of La Niña, waters in central and eastern areas of the Pacific Ocean cool, while those in the west remain warmer. This is associated with the frequency of heavy rainfall on the western side of the Pacific Rim. El Niño, on the other hand, is associated with warmer waters in central and eastern areas of the Pacific. La Niña leads places such as

A word to Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram

"Competitive populism is a bottom-less pit into which many a political fortunes have sunk. If you havent already learnt this lesson from Narendra Modi in Gujarat it is no wonder you are left with a sour tone in parliament complaining that the Congress is one up on you in populist rhetoric." Source: OFFSTUMPED ( Unwritten Letter from a Farmer )

Union Budget 2007-2008 - Unwritten letter from a farmer

Source: OFFSTUMPED Date: Friday, February 29, 2008 Dear Shri P Chidambaram I gather from the news channels that you have delivered a please-all budget and that agriculture was the highlight of your budget. Out of curiosity I looked up your speech on the Internet, yeah we farmers can manage to access the internet every so often. I understand you have announced a packaged to waive farm loans. Oh by the way I noticed that your speech has mentions agriculture 16 times and farmers 11 times in stark contrast to industries which get mentioned only 10 times and mqanufacturing which gets a mention only 6 times. I also noticed that banks and credit get mentioned as many times as agriculture. I get the message you are desperately wooing us farmers. But then it got me thinking, what exactly are you wooing us with ? Knowing that you have an economist in Dr. Manmohan Singh for a Prime Minister and you yourself have been marketed in the media as being reform oriented, I started to wonder if

PDVSA in London courts to defend Venezuelan oil sovereignty in Exxon dispute

February 28th 2008, by James Suggett - Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) initiated court proceedings today in London where it will seek to overturn the freezing of $12 billion of its assets, which the U.S.-based Exxon Mobil Corporation achieved in British courts on February 7th. The hearing is expected to last 3 days and is part of a compensation dispute over the nationalization of what used to be Exxon's 41.6% stake in a Venezuelan Orinoco River belt oil project called Cerro Negro. PDVSA is expected to argue that it intends to compensate Exxon fully, as it has already honored $1.8 billion in indemnifications to other companies whose stakes in the Orinoco River belt were nationalized. PDVSA will present evidence from records that the value of Exxon's stake was $750 million when it was nationalized, and the highest amount Exxon ever solicited during negotiations was $5 billion, which PDVSA claims should be the ceiling for an

Prominent British Figures Call on ExxonMobil to Respect Venezuelan Sovereignty

February 28th 2008, by Venezuelan Information Centre Over 50 prominent figures representing a wide section of British society have signed a statement raising concern over legal action taken by oil giant ExxonMobil to prevent the Venezuelan government from exercising its right to control its natural resources. They have urged ExxonMobil to work for "the amicable settlement" of its dispute with the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA through international arbitration. The statement is published as Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA goes to the High Court to appeal an English court's decision to freeze its assets in England and Wales. The statement points out that "The action by ExxonMobil was in response to the policy of the Venezuelan government to take back majority control of their own oil resources. Unlike other international oil companies, where some 30 out of 32 contracts have been successfully renegotiated and amicable agreements and compensation terms reach

Uncle Sam's unique democracy

SOURCE: SIFY Arvind Lavakare may be 71, but the fire in his belly burns stronger than in many people half his age. The economics post-graduate worked with the Reserve Bank of India and several private and public sector companies before retiring in 1997. His first love, however, remains sports. An accredited cricket umpire in Mumbai, he has reported and commented on cricket matches for newspapers, Doordarshan and AIR. Lavakare has also been regularly writing on politics since 1997, and published a monograph, The Truth About Article 370, in 2005 . _____________________ Judging by foreign news agency reports splashed in our English press, the uninitiated Indian reader like me would be justified in believing that the long exercise for finalising the Presidential nominee of the two major political parties of the US is wastefully competitive and unusually complex. And, sometimes, comical as well. Just see Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama of the Democratic Party engaged in an intense, o

Why India prefers Israel ? The smooth and successful launch of Israel's military satellite TECSAR by an Indian space vehicle this January and the presence of a number of defence and aerospace firms from Israel at the DefExpo-2008 in Delhi in February are a clear pointer of Israel emerging as India's most-preferred defence partner in the near future. In sharp contrast, the subdued and modest presence of Russian defence entities at the Expo was a mirror to the growing friction in Indo-Russian defence ties. From being a reliable defence partner, Russia has come to be looked upon in India as an undependable supplier of military hardware, many of which have proved to be "poor performers". In fact, India is far from happy over the cost escalation, time slippages and poor after- sales service including the non-availability of spares on number of occasions in respect of many defence projects for which it has signed up with Russia. Perhaps the most

U.S. Policy Shifts Can Encourage Dawn of New Era in Pakistan

Timothy D. Hoyt 29 Feb 2008 World Politics Review Exclusive The results of Pakistan's parliamentary elections provide a genuine opportunity for Pakistan and the United States to rebalance their relationship. For Pakistan, they are a chance to re-establish representative government. For the United States, they are a chance to demonstrate support for Pakistan's democratic institutions. And for both countries, they are an opportunity to initiate a much healthier long-term relationship. Despite his recent appeals to European and American audiences for support, the Musharraf era is over. President Pervez Musharraf once could claim to rule Pakistan with the support of the public, the Army and the Americans, but not anymore. His deliberate repression of political and judicial opposition and his reluctance to yield power destroyed any sympathy among the Pakistani public. The new chief of the Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, has restricted Musharraf's access to the officer cor

PAKISTAN : ISI's new triumvirate

Commentary: ISI's new triumvirate Published: Feb. 29, 2008 at 6:33 AM By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE UPI Editor at Large WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Afghanistan, the main battleground in the war on terror, has been shortchanged by the Iraq war and its manpower and equipment priorities. Al-Qaida got trounced by U.S. forces in Iraq -- but Iraq was never the problem. Under Saddam Hussein, al-Qaida was not welcome in Iraq. After the U.S. invasion, Iraq became a force multiplier for would-be unholy warriors from Middle Eastern countries -- primarily Saudi Arabia -- and Europe's Muslim ghettos. Several hundred al-Qaida volunteers have been killed -- or gone home. But home base for al-Qaida and Taliban was and still is the weird-sounding acronym for Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Area -- FATA -- some seven fiercely independent tribal "agencies" under nominal Pakistani sovereignty that form, along with Baluchistan (one of Pakistan's four provinces), the 1,400-m

Canadian Ambassador identifies business opportunities on first visit to Erbil

Erbil, Kurdistan - Iraq ( – Mrs Margaret Huber, the Canadian Ambassador to Iraq, this week for the first time visited the Kurdistan Region to identify public and private sector opportunities for cooperation. On her three-day visit, she was accompanied by a delegation of officials from Canada’s foreign affairs ministry and from the embassy’s international trade and commerce sections. They will write a report on their visit and recommend commercial opportunities here to Canadian businesses. Ambassador Huber and her delegation were in Erbil for three days to identify public and private sector opportunities for cooperation between the Kurdistan Region and Canada. At a reception for Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials, members of the business and diplomatic communities, UN personnel and NGO representatives, Ambassador Huber said, “I am heartened by the high level of cooperation I've been afforded at all levels of the Kurdistan Regional Government and delighted at

PM Barzani: “We will not allow use of our territory to threaten others’ security

PM Barzani: “We will not allow use of our territory to threaten others’ security . Turkey is an important neighbour” Interview with Asharq Alawsat By Maad Fayad Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), expressed his concern regarding Turkey’s military incursion along the Iraq-Turkey border. He said, “We are concerned about the recent developments on the border. Experience has shown that there is no military solution to this problem.” The Prime Minister stressed that the military attacks against PKK fighters in villages and bridges in the Kurdistan Region served no purpose: “The KRG supports dialogue.” He repeated the KRG’s belief that four party-talks between Washington, Ankara, Baghdad and Erbil are needed. Prime Minister Nechirvan Barazani gave his views in an exclusive to Asharq Alawsat by phone from his office in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region. He explained the PKK problem from the KRG’s perspective. “We want Turkey to unde

Letters from Israel

In this 'Letters from...' ISN Security Watch writer Dominic Moran looks at the challenges facing local Israeli communities, relating these to wider social, security, economic and political trends. Dom Moran, ISNC ommentary by Dominic Moran in Tel Aviv for ISN Security Watch (29/02/08) "We heard screaming from outside. They were beating her. Her mother was pulling her hair, her father was slapping her, and when she fell, he was kicking her," "Iris," who asked that her real name not be used, told me. "My mum and I ran outside, and I jumped on the father's back. And my mum took her hand and ran to the house with her. And I was shouting at them to go away and we locked ourselves in." "Jamilla," also a psuedonmyn, an Arab-Israeli cleaner from the village of Jisr al-Zarqa, had been working for several months at the house of a Jewish family in nearby Binyamina when she was accused of stealing items and making calls from her employer

Kalam proposes joint investment in space by India, Israel

Tel Aviv (PTI): India and Israel should consider jointly investing up to USD one billion in selected areas in space technology based on their mutual core competence, former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam said here on Wednesday. "India and Israel should consider investing in equitable proportion to the tune of $ 1 billion investment for implementing certain selected missions based on the mutual core competence," Kalam, the keynote speaker at Israel Annual Conference on Aerospace Sciences here, told an august audience while laying out his 'World Space Vision 2050'. Pointing towards the large number of satellites in the geosynchronous orbit leading to a "clutter", Kalam, a renowned rocket scientist, emphasised on the need of immediate steps to enhance cooperation between the space-faring nations. As a first step towards achieving these goals, Kalam suggested that the Indian and Israel aerospace agencies should consider establishing a world knowledge pl

India too can hit objects in space: Kalam

February 23, 2008 By Syed Akbar Hyderabad, Feb 22: India has acquired the capability to hit foreign objects including space debris to protect its territory. "We are capable of hitting foreign objects at a height of 200 km from the ground. When some object enters the Indian territory, it is our right to hit it and protect the country and its people. We have acquired the capability," missile man and former president APJ Abdul Kalam said. Dr Kalam's statement gains significance in the backdrop of the United States of America shooting down its rogue spy satellite carrying dangerous toxic fuel. It has demonstrated the USA's effectiveness of missile defence system. India too is capable of protecting its territory from such foreign objects or rogue satellites. India will, however, utilise the technology for peaceful purpose, though developed nations are vying with one another for militarisation of outer space. Interacting with a select group of reporters after inaugurati

Cold, Hungry, and Fed Up

Transitions Online 29 February 2008 A memorably bitter winter has Uzbeks and Tajiks protesting and worrying. From EurasiaNet. UZBEKISTAN: AUTHORITIES BRACE FOR SPRING by Alisher Khamidov A winter of discontent in Uzbekistan is giving way to a spring of uncertainty. Along with neighboring states in Central Asia, Uzbekistan was battered by fierce winter weather for the better part of three months, featuring temperatures as low as minus-20 Celsius. The Deep Freeze has now given way to the Big Drench, as uncharacteristically heavy rains have pelted the country, and are forecast to continue for up to two weeks. Many Uzbeks are now worried about the possibility of severe flooding. The harsh weather provided a jolt that the country’s decrepit infrastructure could not easily absorb: perhaps millions of Uzbeks shivered this winter because of a lack of heating. The shortages were not caused by an energy crunch, as Uzbekistan devotes about 50 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas out

Russia's domestic policy under Vladimir Putin: achievements and failures

16:08 | 29/ 02/ 2008 Achievements: 1. Consolidation of state institutions and formation of the common legal space. Consolidation of the power vertical and state institutions, and restoration of the constitutional order in the entire country were one of the first steps towards overcoming Russia's systemic crisis. The common legal space has been restored, and the legislation of the regions tailored to the federal laws. At the same time, the powers of the Federation, regions and local bodies of self-government have been strictly delimited. At the same time, a considerable part of functions in the socio-economic sphere have been transferred to the regional and local levels. In other words, the powers have been seriously decentralized. 2. Social orientation in domestic policy. President Putin has adopted a new approach to social problems. He has described it as a "policy of investment in people, and, hence, in Russia's future." Government policy has focused on