Friday, August 31, 2012

Modi’s response to a question on malnutrition in an interview with Wall Street Journal

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s response to a question on malnutrition in an interview with Wall Street Journal
During an interview with Wall Street Journal Chief Minister Narendra Modi gave elaborate answer to a question regarding malnutrition.
Mr Modi said, “We are the first state in the country to raise the issue of malnutrition. It came to our mind that Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. And secondly, Gujarat is also a middle-class state. The middle class is more beauty conscious than health conscious – that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they’ll have a fight. She’ll tell her mother, ‘I won’t drink milk. I’ll get fat.’ They have money but she’s beauty conscious, she’s not health conscious. So being a middle-class state is also a problem for me. A large segment of the population in my state is middle-class. Second is vegetarianism.
“So a lot needs to be explained to both the beauty conscious and the health conscious. We have to request to them that there should be a good nutritional situation. We gave a budget of 700 crore rupees ($126 million). But these things are such that you see a sudden change in a child after the age of 13-14 years. They grow up so fast – from zero to 13 you don’t come to know how they got so big. So we are going through that stage.” he said.
“Even after a lot of improvement – we still have to measure (malnutrition), conduct surveys. Until that is done, this perception will remain. But I’m quite confident. We will try to get a drastic change in this. Just as we’ve become a model in the electricity sector, Gujarat is going to come up as a model in this also. I can’t make any big claims, because I don’t have a survey in front of me yet”, he added.
It is noteworthy that Gujarat government is taking a range of measures to tackle malnutrition problems, including ramping up spending on rural health workers, modernizing nutrition centers, and trying to better track young pregnant women.
Domino’s Pizza celebrates new milestone
August 31, 2012

Domino’s Pizza celebrates new milestone Opens 500th store in India!

New Delhi, August 30, 2012: Domino’s Pizza, India’s Pizza Delivery Expert and market leader in the organized pizza home delivery segment today inaugurated the 500th store at Rajinder Nagar, Delhi. The landmark store was inaugurated by Mr. Shyam S. Bhartia, Chairman and Mr. Hari S Bhartia, Co-Chairman, Jubilant FoodWorks in presence of Mr. Richard Allison, Executive Vice-President Domino’s Pizza International.

In the last few years Domino’s Pizza has not only aggressively expanded its footprint, but also has been focused on winning more customer hearts across India through its tasty Pizza offerings, unmatched delivery promise and warm customer service approach. Little wonder then that Domino’s India operations is the fastest growing operations in the Domino’s global system. The company also continues to be market leaders in the organized pizza market with a 55% market share (as per Euro monitor 2012 report) and 70%+ share in the Pizza home delivery segment in India. Having reached the 500th store landmark, the company plans to continue with its aggressive growth path.
Mr. Shyam S Bhartia, Chairman and Mr. Hari S Bhartia, Co- Chairman Jubilant FoodWorks Limited commented, “The opening of the 500th store is a matter of great pride for all of us and we are working towards further expanding the Domino’s network of outlets to other parts of the country. In our endeavour to expand, we have focussed not just on merely growing the number of stores but more importantly on our product quality, innovation & customer delight. To achieve this, we have put together efficient processes, talented people and robust machinery which has been able to deliver fantastic growth over last few years. We have been able to set new benchmarks in the food service category by creating many firsts. In the global Domino’s system, we are amongst top 4 countries now in terms of absolute number of stores. Our overall growth has been fuelled by customer’s love for our brand and our products”.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Richard Allison, Executive Vice President, Domino’s Pizza International said, “It is a great honour for me to be present here to witness this remarkable achievement by the Domino’s team in India. Globally, Domino’s is present in over 70 markets but certainly India operations have emerged as one of the largest and fastest growing. Domino’s India is a key market in our scheme of things. The 500th store mark achievement in India is because of dedication and constant brand nurturing efforts of the inspired leadership and team members here. The amazing growth of Domino’s India has set new records for us globally, which will certainly spur other countries to emulate the India story.”

Adding on Mr. Ajay Kaul, CEO, Jubilant FoodWorks Limited – “Every new store launch is an important occasion, as it helps us to reach more customers and offer our range of tasty products. But this 500th store opening marks a significant milestone in our successful journey in India. As a food service company, we believe in innovation; right from our lip smacking products to our exciting consumer campaigns. We are a customer centric brand and our thrust is to delight our customers in every engagement they experience with us. Our relentless focus on winning consumers has helped us to reach this historic landmark today.”

2nd ICSI CORPORATE GOVERNANCE WEEK CULMINATES AT NEW DELHI


Dr. M Veerappa Moily, Hon’ble Union Minister for Corporate Affairs & Power, Inaugurated the 2nd ICSI CORPORATE GOVERNANCE WEEK today at New Delhi .
Dr. Veerappa Moily in his inaugural address complimented the Institute of Company Secretaries of India for this initiative and said that ICSI has always demonstrated its commitment to corporate governance and is playing a leaders role in promoting good corporate governance practices amongst corporate India . Dr. Moily said that governance is the character and corporate civilisation will face disaster if there is lack of good governance as “Good Governance is effective leadership, transparency & accountability.”
He further added that reputation of corporates contributes 75% to success of Good Governance . Dr. Moily briefed about the National Policy on Corporate Governance which is being drafted by committee headed by Mr. Adi Godrej and Mr. Nesar Ahmad ,President, The Institute of Company secretaries of India is the convener & member secretary .
Dr. Moily ensured that the New Companies Bill 2011 will be passed soon and will be instrumental in enlightening the regulator environment for better sustainability . He once again stressed on the need for economic stability & progress intertwined with Corporate Social Responsibility .
Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal, Joint Managing Director ,Hero Motorcorp Ltd, while delivering his key note address complimented ICSI for initiative to observe the ICSI Corporate Governance Week 2012 and observed that there is no single individual who can work without honouring the environment .He said that governance of Countries, Families and Societies is a reflection of accepted norms. He added that a Company Secretary is a conscience keeper not just to the corporate but also to themselves. He expressed that there is need build ability and trust and in this there is need to create simple rules that are easy to understand and simple to follow . He said that people are the best asset of an organisation which appreciates with experience & exposure and the people include not just people within the organisation but also around the company. He concluded that sustainability is the collective responsibility of all of us.
Mr. U Venkataraman ,CEO –Currency Derivatives Segment and Whole Time Director ,MCX Stock Exchange delivered the Special Address and said that the Role of Stock Exchanges and institutional investors is vital in ensuring good governance . Institutional investors can act as whistle-blower, he said. He emphasised that the industry’s best practices should be showcased at the same time deterrents and penalties should be placed for misgovernance. He emphasised on striking a balance of mere compliance and earnest disclosure.”
CS Nesar Ahmad , President ,The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) informed that ICSI has been actively engaged in its commitment to Corporate Governance and has played a pivotal role in bringing about awareness on various issues impinging upon Corporate Governance . He also informed that Good Governance has intensified as an international movement . He expressed that India has Corporate Governance from the Vedic Ages and now what is needed is a hybrid approach where international practices need to be integrated with our vedic heritage. Mr. Ahamd once again emphasised that Good Governance is a Culture and a climate of Consistency, Responsibility, Accountability , Fairness, Transparency and effectiveness that is deployed throughout the business organization . He stressed upon that the essence of Corporate governance lies in promoting and maintaining integrity ,transparency and accountability in the higher echelons of management
CS P K Mittal, Council Member, The ICSI emphasised on the Role of Company Secretary in Good Governance . He reiterated that , Company Secretaries, over a period of time, have developed themselves as professionals having core competence in corporate governance , As a part of 2nd ICSI Corporate Governance Week , the Institute organised Five Mega Programmes at Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata & New Delhi.
CS Rajiv Bajaj , Chairman Northern India Regional Council , while introducing the Theme of the 2nd ICSI Corporate Governance week 2012 said that, Good Governance for Sustainability has assumed considerable significance in domain of Corporate governance. Good Governance is vital for sustainability of nations, corporate and even families . Today the concerns with regard to environment, inclusive growth and the challenges posed by globalisation have brought to fore several emerging issues of corporate governance which need to be addressed.
CS N K Jain, Secretary & CEO, The ICSI, delivered the Vote of thanks and informed about the Institute’s prestigious publications released on the occasion of the 2nd ICSI Corporate Governance at the hands of Hon’ble Union Minister for Corporate Affairs , Dr. M Veerappa Moily which are as follows:
Ø Good Governance for Sustainability
Ø Role of Company Secretaries in Good Governance
Ø Sustainability Reporting for Sustainable Future
Ø Gender Diversity in Board Rooms
Ø Responsibly Managing e-waste
He Informed that ,in addition, a number of other programmes were organized on corporate governance, sustainability & sustainability reporting, integrated reporting, responsible investment, gender diversity, waste management, whistle blowing, risk management & governance, and Good Corporate Citizenship as well as furthering “Go Green” initiatives throughout the length and breadth of the country by the Regional Councils and Chapters of ICSI.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just Foreign Policy News, August 30, 2012
Ecuador upbeat on Assange talks; cutting Pentagon vs. Social Security

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Cut Pentagon Budget, Not Social Security & Veterans' Benefits, Save 380,000 Jobs

Some people want to "save" the government $145 billion over 10 years by cutting Social Security, veterans' benefits, and federal pensions. A much better idea is to cut the bloated Pentagon budget instead. Not only would that protect Social Security and veterans' benefits and make it harder for the Pentagon to occupy other people's countries, it would save 380,000 jobs.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/cut-the-pentagon-budget-n_b_1844125.html

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Talks have resumed between Ecuador and Britain over Julian Assange, and Ecuador said it was optimistic of a deal that would prevent him being extradited to the U.S., Reuters reports. "I'm convinced we'll find a way out ... I'm hopeful because the global mood that the Julian Assange case is generating will help us to find a way out," Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said. Patino told Reuters he was optimistic that Britain would agree to compromise on Ecuador's demand that Assange be given written guarantees he would not be extradited from Sweden to any third country. President Correa has said that if Britain and Sweden agree not to extradite Assange to the U.S., Assange would decline Ecuador's asylum offer and hand himself over to Swedish prosecutors.

2) Five Australian soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan within hours of one another on Wednesday and Thursday, three of them at the hands of a turncoat Afghan soldier, the New York Times reports. Insider attacks on coalition forces that have left 45 dead this year at the hands of the Afghan security forces or other Afghans working with them. 15 members of the international coalition have been killed in insider attacks this month, 12 of them American. Earlier this year, Australia announced it would withdraw its troops by the end of 2013 - one year ahead of schedule.

3) In the weeks following the May 11 DEA shooting of civilians in Ahuas, US and Honduran officials made statements criminalizing the victims, Miskitu communities and local authorities, writes Annie Bird of Rights Action in Alternet. In response, the Miskitu indigenous federation requested that CEPR and Rights Action undertake an independent investigation. The report was released August 15. On August 27, Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Ramon Custodio announced that his commission had completed its investigation and intends to request that the US House and Senate Judiciary Committees investigate the shootings.

4) The Washington Office on Latin America says the Labor Action Plan agreed upon by Colombia and the U.S. to improve labor rights in Colombia has "only led to cosmetic changes," says Colombia Reports. "Sadly, since the plan was put in place in April 2011 we've seen that over 30 trade unionists have been killed and another 480 have received death threats," said Gimena Sanchez of WOLA. Sanchez said there have been "big reprisals" against workers who tried to organize under the plan, including mass firings and the killing of a prominent union leader.

5) Two Americans who were wounded when gunmen, including federal police, fired on an American Embassy vehicle in Mexico last week were CIA employees sent to help with the drug war, the New York Times reports. The incident casts doubt on U.S. efforts to improve the federal police, the NYT says. Some Mexican lawmakers said they would press for a full explanation of what the CIA and other U.S. agencies were doing in Mexico.

Iran
6) Western officials said that while the new IAEA quarterly report on Iran shows Iran continues to flout Security Council resolutions calling for a suspension on enrichment, there is no sign of a "game-changing" acceleration in the program that would warrant military action, the Guardian reports. Alarmed by claims by Netanyahu that the report showed Iran was "continuing to make accelerated progress toward achieving nuclear weapons while totally ignoring international demands", US and European governments took the unusual step of giving briefings, before IAEA inspectors presented the report to member states, to play down its significance, the Guardian says.

7) An ultra-Orthodox Jewish party in Israel's coalition government is wary of plans for possible military strikes on Iran, Reuters reports. Reservations by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the top spiritual authority for the Shas party, could be an obstacle to any attempt by Netanyahu to get security cabinet approval for hitting Iran's nuclear sites. "He believes the price would be too high, and for an action that may not achieve its goal," said a person briefed on discussions inside the Shas party. Yosef, a former Israeli chief rabbi, gave a sermon Saturday calling for next month's Jewish holidays to include prayers for the destruction of Iran, "those evil ones who threaten Israel.".

Ecuador
8) A judge from Ecuador's highest court has rejected an extradition request for a former police investigator from Belarus who has been jailed since June, and ordered that he be freed immediately, Reuters reports. Aliaksandr Barankov's case attracted attention after Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange. Barankov had argued he could be killed if sent back to Belarus. Barankov says he fled Belarus after uncovering an oil-smuggling ring involving senior government officials. "I'm happy. They saved my life," Barankov said.

Honduras
9) Honduran authorities announced the National Police have busted a rare, makeshift cocaine laboratory in a remote region near the Atlantic coast, AP reports. A DEA agent said such labs are rare.

Colombia
10) 74 percent of Colombians support talks to end the armed conflict with the FARC, the Washington Post reports. A key issue in the talks will be guarantees of safety for demobilized guerillas who participate in politics, the article notes: in the 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of members of the Patriotic Union, a leftist political party partly created by FARC leaders, were gunned down by death squads.

11) According to a Colombian radio report, the governments of Cuba and Norway, as guarantors, and those of Venezuela and Chile, as co-guarantors, will support the talks, EFE reports. The agenda for the dialogue, according to the document published by RCN, includes the issues of "comprehensive agrarian development policy," "political participation," "end of the conflict," "solution to the problem of illicit drugs," "victims" and "implementation, verification and endorsement." The text discusses a "bilateral and definite" ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, the laying-down of weapons and reincorporation of the guerrillas into society and politics as an opposition force.

Contents:
U.S./Top News

1) Ecuador upbeat about deal to end Assange standoff
Eduardo Garcia, Reuters, Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:43pm EDT
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/29/us-wikileaks-assange-ecuador-idUSBRE87S15I20120829

Quito - Talks have resumed between Ecuador and Britain over the fate of WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, and Ecuador's government said on Wednesday it was optimistic of a deal that would prevent him being extradited to the United States.
[...]
"I'm convinced we'll find a way out ... I'm hopeful because the global mood that the Julian Assange case is generating will help us to find a way out," Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told Reuters in an interview in Quito, confirming talks resumed in London on Wednesday.
[...].
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has granted Assange asylum and says he shares Assange's fears that he might be sent from Sweden to the United States to face charges over WikiLeaks' publication in 2010 of secret U.S. cables.

Correa fumed at a veiled British threat to enter the embassy to arrest him but said over the weekend that the threat had been lifted and he considered the "unfortunate incident" over.

Assange remains trapped in the embassy, but both sides have said they want to talk. In a sign of thawing tensions, Ecuador's Vice President Lenin Moreno met Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday during a visit to London for the Paralympic Games. Both governments said they discussed the situation with Assange.

Patino told Reuters he was optimistic that Britain would agree to compromise on Ecuador's demand that Assange be given written guarantees he would not be extradited from Sweden to any third country.

"It's possible that Great Britain could seek to move forward with the guarantees, because they have repeatedly said that they don't want to provide the safe-passage (so Assange could leave the embassy and fly to Ecuador)," Patino said.

"The option of the guarantees is possibly more feasible ... We should get clear, written guarantees from the countries with which we're negotiating."

In an interview last week, Correa told Reuters he was skeptical the British and Swedish governments would shift their stance on Assange, but that it would be "perfectly possible", in theory, for them to grant Assange the assurances he wanted.

Correa said that if Britain and Sweden agree not to extradite Assange to the United States, he would decline the asylum offer and hand himself over to Swedish prosecutors.
[...]

2) 5 Soldiers' Deaths in Afghanistan Mark Australia's Worst Toll Yet
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Matt Siegel, New York Times, August 30, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/world/asia/afghan-soldier-kills-3-australian-service-members.html

Kabul, Afghanistan - Five Australian soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan within hours of one another on Wednesday and Thursday, three of them at the hands of a turncoat Afghan soldier, making it the deadliest period in a decade of fighting here for one of the United States' staunchest allies.

Two soldiers died when their UH-1 Huey helicopter crashed in the Baghran district of Helmand Province on Thursday morning, NATO officials said. They said they did not know what caused the crash, which left other soldiers injured as well.

Three other soldiers were killed on Wednesday night when an Afghan soldier turned his gun on them in Oruzgan Province, the latest in a rash of insider attacks on coalition forces that have left 45 dead this year at the hands of the Afghan security forces or other Afghans working with them.

The attack happened at a fuel depot when a member of the Afghan National Army shot the Australians and then fled the base, coalition officials said. The international force command said that the motive was unclear and that it was investigating.

With 1,550 troops in Afghanistan - most of them in Oruzgan - Australia has the largest non-NATO military presence in the American-led coalition here. The only other Australian military fatality in Afghanistan this year was in July. Last year, 11 Australian service members were killed here, according to data from Icasualties.org.

The five new deaths stunned Australia. Prime Minister Julia Gillard called it "the most awful news" for the country.

"This is a very big toll," Ms. Gillard said during a visit to the Cook Islands, where she said she would cut her trip short to return to Canberra, the Australian capital. "This is our single worst day in Afghanistan."

She said insider attacks like the one that killed the three Australians were "corrosive of trust" and difficult to deal with.

This year, Ms. Gillard announced that Australia would withdraw its troops by the end of 2013 - one year ahead of schedule - citing what she said were security improvements in Afghanistan, while also acknowledging the unpopularity of the war.
[...]
With the latest deaths, 15 members of the international coalition have been killed in insider attacks this month, 12 of them American.

NATO officials blame Taliban infiltrators posing as Afghan soldiers or police officers for about 1 in 10 of the recent insider attacks. A somewhat larger proportion, officials believe, is tied in some way to broader Taliban influence, like coercion. But most of the shootings are seen as stemming from cultural or personal disputes.
[...]

3) Militarizing the Police and Killing Natives: How the US Drug War Is Ripping Honduras Apart
Human rights organizations investigating a deadly raid where DEA agents killed four people found a peaceful indigenous community under siege.
Annie Bird (Rights Action), Alternet, August 29, 2012
http://www.alternet.org/world/militarizing-police-and-killing-natives-how-us-drug-war-ripping-honduras-apart

Since the Central American peace processes began 25 years ago, a tremendous effort has been made to remove militaries from policing, an effort now apparently being reversed in the US's increasingly militarized and multinational war against drugs.

On May 11, the US Drug Enforcement Administration led an operation that ended in the deaths of four indigenous Miskitu villagers on the Patuca River near the town of Ahuas, Gracias a Dios, Honduras. US and Honduran officials claimed the boat that came under fire was part of a trafficking operation. Neighbors, local authorities and human rights organizations claimed they were innocent bystanders.

Though the US Embassy provided technical assistance for the Public Prosecutors' investigation, little probing occurred. In the weeks following the shooting US and Honduran officials made statements criminalizing the victims, Miskitu communities and local authorities.

In response, the Miskitu indigenous federation, MASTA, requested that two Washington-based organizations undertake an independent investigation. Through witness testimony, and interviews with Honduran and US Embassy officials, Rights Action and the Center for Economic and Policy Research brought into focus a disturbing picture of a peaceful indigenous community ripped apart by the US drug war. This disturbing picture has been created by the transfer of counter-insurgency strategies used in Afghanistan to Central America and a regional push to create militarized police forces.

The report was released August 15. Then, on August 27, Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Ramon Custodio, highly criticized for his role in the June 2009 military coup and coverup of abuses that followed, announced that his commission had also completed its investigation and intends to request that the US House and Senate Judiciary Committees investigate the shootings.
[...]
Survivors of the shooting explained that the boat had taken lobster divers to a commercial fishing boat in Barra Patuca, about six hours away. They brought passengers on the return trip, including two families moving to Ahuas from Roatan, a diver who had been treated for decompression sickness and family members of divers.

Just moments before arriving in Ahuas, the boat driver saw an apparently unmanned boat float by, and the passengers were awakened by low flying helicopters that soon opened fire on them. Survivors and the wounded explain they struggled to get to shore while two helicopters dropped security forces just 20 meters away at the town's boat landing. Hilder Lezama got a call from a survivor who had swam to shore and borrowed a neighbors' telephone to tell him that his mother, the 53-year-old boat owner, was wounded in the river. He hurried to the landing, just as the helicopters descended.

The first helicopter dropped what appeared to be Honduran police, though some spoke mostly English, and were described as "gringos." A second helicopter landed, and stayed on the ground for over two hours. All on board were white English-speaking men--even the door gunner and pilots. All wore tan camouflage with American flags on their shoulders. To one resident who had studied near the Soto Cano Airforce base where the US Army Joint Task Force Bravo is stationed, the outfits looked like US army uniforms.
[...]
In early August, the State Department issued a report explaining it was "carefully limiting assistance to special Honduran law enforcement units, staffed by Leahy-vetted Honduran personnel who receive training, guidance and advice directly from U.S. law enforcement and are not under [Juan Carlos] Bonilla's direct supervision," while it investigates allegations that the current director of Honduran police had directed a death squad in 2002.

This description appears to fit the TRT and a new security force being created as the State Department issued the report, the Intelligence and Special Security Response Groups Unit (TIGRES). Though it's unclear whether the force has received training, guidance and advice directly from the US government, the team's mandate closely matches US strategic interests in the region.

According to Honduran press, the TIGRES will live in military barracks, be commanded by military and police officers, and report directly to the Minister of Security, though they will report to the Minister of Defense in times of war. The force will focus on intelligence, information and communications technology; areal and maritime combat; control of population and territory; and combating organized crime, drug trafficking, and illicit association. The TIGRES will operate with "embedded" justice officials, public prosecutors and judges.

The day the law to establish the new force was presented, July 26, Honduran officials announced the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) would fund the force with a $57 million loan. Two hundred TIGRE agents were already in training, scheduled to be completed in August.

The IDB loan is one of 22 planned for Central America within the framework of the Central American Regional Security Strategy of the Central American System for Regional Integration [SICA], an initiative spearheaded by the Inter American Development Bank and the US Department of State. A group of friends was created to promote the strategy, including Chile, Colombia, the US, Canada, the OAS, the United Nations and others.

Chile, Colombia and the US are playing a hands-on role in implementing the strategy, which clearly promotes the use of the military in policing. Chile's Carabineros--a militarized police force renowned for forming death squads and reprimanded by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights in October 2011 for excessive use of force in recent student protests-- are working closely with SICA and the OAS to reform the region's police forces. The US has partnered with Colombian police who are training Central American police and military in a new center located in Panama.
[...]

4) Colombia-US Labor Action Plan led only to 'cosmetic changes': WOLA
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, Wednesday, 29 August 2012 07:41
http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/25772-colombia-us-labor-action-plan-led-only-to-cosmetic-changes-wola.html

The Labor Action Plan agreed upon by Colombia and the U.S. to improve labor rights in Colombia and decrease impunity for perpetrators of crimes against unionists has "only led to cosmetic changes," said think tank Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) Tuesday.

In the Washington-based organization's podcast, WOLA Gimena Sanchez expressed to be positive that "the labor situation has gotten more attention ... in the recent history of Colombia" and "the creation of the Labor Ministry" which has focused more on rights abuses in sectors wher workers have been most vulnerable.

"However, up until now, the Labor Action Plan has only led to cosmetic changes and not to major results," said Sanchez, "The situation in Colombia needs requires many years for there to be the structural changes needed for that plan to be implemented"

"Sadly, since the plan was put in place in April 2011 we've seen that over 30 trade unionists have been killed and another 480 have received death threats," the human rights advocate said.

Additionally, "since [United States President Barack] Obama was in [the Colombian city of] Cartagena in April announcing that the FTA was moving forward we've seen some big reprisals against the sectors in the Labor Action Plan."

"For example, we have seen mass firings of workers in the port sector who were trying to organize and who basically put their belief in the Labor Action Plan as the way forward for them," Sanchez said, stressing that a prominent union leader was among unionists killed and there had been a "crack down" against workers for oil company Pacific Rubiales who had demanded improved labor rights.

5) Americans Shot in Mexico Were C.I.A. Operatives Aiding in Drug War
Randal C. Archibold and Eric Schmitt, New York Times, August 28, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/29/world/americas/americans-shot-in-mexico-were-cia-operatives.html

Mexico City - The two Americans who were wounded when gunmen fired on an American Embassy vehicle last week were Central Intelligence Agency employees sent as part of a multiagency effort to bolster Mexican efforts to fight drug traffickers, officials said on Tuesday.

The two operatives, who were hurt on Friday, were participating in a training program that involved the Mexican Navy. They were traveling with a Mexican Navy captain in an embassy sport utility vehicle that had diplomatic license plates, heading toward a military shooting range 35 miles south of the capital when gunmen, some or all of them from the Federal Police, attacked the vehicle, Mexican officials have said.

The Mexican Navy said Tuesday in a statement that an American was driving the vehicle and that during the attack the captain, who was handling logistics and translating for the men, remained in the back seat calling for help on his cellphone.

The men were wounded, the Navy said, when the rain of bullets managed to tear through the car's protective armor. It was unclear if the Americans, who officials said were unarmed, were specifically targeted, if the shooting was a case of mistaken identity or if there was some other reason that the vehicle was ambushed. Mexican prosecutors have detained 12 federal police officers and have said no theory can be ruled out.
[...]
The notion that a squad of federal police officers would attack an embassy car could be another blow to the developing trust and cooperation between American counternarcotics personnel and their Mexican partners.

Through programs like the $1.6-billion Merida Initiative, the United States has spent millions of dollars on training and equipping the federal police.

Eric Olson, an expert at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Mexico Institute in Washington, said the shooting could only sow some doubts about the police, and at best pointed to a lack of communication among Mexico's military and the police. "This seems to suggest there isn't better communication between the various elements of the Mexican government," he said. "One fundamental issue is the lack of trust."
[...]
Lawmakers, instigated by the left, have hauled Mexican government officials before Congress for sometimes testy hearings and after the newspaper La Jornada first reported the C.I.A. involvement on Tuesday, some politicians said they would ask for a thorough explanation of the American role here. "It's is time to speak clearly and for us to know what institutions are intervening in what specific way in our country in regard to security,' said Iris Vianey Mendoza, a senator from the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution.
[...]
This latest episode has caused Mexicans to reflect on the quality of the federal police force, which had achieved growing respect but which has been tarnished by recent corruption scandals. "The thing that really worries me," said Gabriel Guerra, a political analyst who has worked with the three major parties here, "is that we are seeing the unraveling of what was supposed to be the main achievement in the fight against organized crime, which was the creation of a trustworthy national police."

Iran
6) Report on Iran's nuclear capabilities to show increase in enrichment equipment
International Atomic Energy Agency to put more pressure on Tehran as concerns are raised over country's nuclear aspirations
Julian Borger, Guardian, Wednesday 29 August 2012 13.35 EDT
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/29/iran-nuclear-report-tehran

The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran's nuclear programme due out on Thursday is expected to say that Tehran has rapidly increased the quantity of equipment at an underground uranium enrichment plant but has not started using the new machinery to produce nuclear fuel.

The IAEA quarterly report will say that more than 300 centrifuges have been installed at the fortified cavern at Fordow, near the city of Qom, but are not yet spinning, and the rate of uranium production has not risen since the last report in May.
[...]
Western officials said that while the new IAEA quarterly report on Iran shows that the Tehran government continues to flout Security Council resolutions calling for a suspension on enrichment, there is no sign of a "game-changing" acceleration in the programme that would warrant the military action threatened by Israel.

Alarmed by claims by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, that the report showed Iran was "continuing to make accelerated progress toward achieving nuclear weapons while totally ignoring international demands", US and European governments took the unusual step of giving briefings, before IAEA inspectors presented the report to member states, to play down its significance.

Western officials believe that while Iran is steadily increasing its capacity to make nuclear weapons in the future, its leadership has not yet made the political decision to do so. Tehran insists its programme is intended entirely for generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.

The Obama administration is particularly nervous that Netanyahu might order attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities at the height of the US presidential campaign in the hope of drawing Washington in, under pressure from pro-Israeli public opinion. A White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, broke precedent by commenting on the expected report before publication by insisting "there is still time and space" for diplomacy in the long-running nuclear stand-off.
[...]
Iran has now produced about 190kg of 20% enriched uranium, which would be enough for one nuclear warhead if further enriched. But nearly 100kg of that total has been converted into reactor fuel plates – these would harder to turn into material for a bomb.

"It's more of the same," said Jim Walsh, an expert on the Iranian nuclear programme from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, arguing that Iran's desire to install more of its centrifuges underground was understandable under threat of air strikes. He added that Iran had already entered a "zone of immunity" in Israeli terms, because if it did want to make nuclear weapons, it would probably be too late to stop it militarily. "You can't bomb the knowledge out of their heads and you can't destroy Fordow."

7) Religious Israeli government party wary of war with Iran
Dan Williams, Reuters, Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:48am EDT
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/30/us-iran-nuclear-israel-idUSBRE87T0NE20120830

Jerusalem - An ultra-Orthodox Jewish party in Israel's coalition government is wary of plans for possible military strikes on Iran, political sources said on Thursday.

Reservations by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the top spiritual authority for the Shas party, could be an obstacle to any attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to get security cabinet approval for hitting Iran's nuclear sites.

"He believes the price would be too high, and for an action that may not achieve its goal," said a person briefed on discussions inside the Shas party, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israeli leaders have long weighed the possible benefits of striking Iran with the operational and diplomatic risks, and officials say Netanyahu's inner council of nine senior ministers is split - a harbinger of deadlock should he seek a vote.
[...]
Yosef, a 91-year-old former Israeli chief rabbi, gave a sermon on Saturday calling for next month's Jewish holidays to include prayers for the destruction of Iran, "those evil ones who threaten Israel".

Though often hawkish in tone, Yosef has in the past broken with Israeli ultra-nationalists by calling on Israel to cede occupied land for peace with the Palestinians and spare lives.
[...]

Ecuador
8) Ecuador court refuses to extradite Belarussian dissident
Aliaksandr Barankov, whose case attracted attention after Quito granted Julian Assange asylum, to be freed from jail
Associated Press, Wednesday 29 August 2012 03.22 EDT
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/29/ecuador-extradition-aliaksandr-barankov-belarus

Quito - A judge from Ecuador's highest court has rejected an extradition request for a former police investigator from Belarus who has been jailed since June, and ordered that he be freed immediately.

Aliaksandr Barankov's case attracted attention after Ecuador granted political asylum to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, earlier this month.

Judge Carlos Ramirez of the national court of justice found the political refugee status granted to Barankov to be justified, according to a court official.

Barankov, 30, had argued he could be killed if sent back to his former Soviet bloc homeland, where President Alexander Lukashenko has been nicknamed "Europe's last dictator".

Barankov says he fled Belarus after uncovering an oil-smuggling ring involving senior government officials, including relatives of Lukashenko.

"I'm happy. They saved my life," an overjoyed Barankov said by phone from jail. His Ecuadorean girlfriend had notified him just moments earlier.
[...]
Barankov's case came under scrutiny when Ecuador announced it was granting Assange asylum, deeming that he ran the risk of being unfairly tried if extradited to the US, where he could face the death penalty.

The Ecuadorean president, Rafael Correa, said he would not comment on the Barankov case until the court ruled. But his deputy foreign minister said the government would treat the case with the same respect for human rights that guided it in considering Assange's asylum request.
[...]

Honduras
9) Honduran National Police bust cocaine-processing laboratory in remote mountain region
Freddy Cuevas and Martha Mendoza, Associated Press, August 29
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/honduran-authorities-bust-cocaine-processing-laboratory-in-remote-mountain-region/2012/08/29/7f9db530-f218-11e1-b74c-84ed55e0300b_story.html

Tegucigalpa, Honduras - Honduran authorities announced Wednesday that the National Police have busted a rare, makeshift cocaine laboratory hidden in a remote, mountainous region near the Atlantic coast as part of their U.S.-backed anti-drug efforts in Central America.
[...]
In March 2011, Honduran police busted a cocaine lab in what the U.S. State Department described as the "first of its kind" in Central America in recent years. The labs process relatively cheap cocaine paste from South America into higher priced, more pure cocaine destined for the U.S.

While Honduras is a major transit point for drugs heading from South America, Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Jeffrey Todd Scott in Washington said Wednesday that such labs are rare.

"While this is one of the first labs we've identified in Honduras, we're always concerned when we find any operational lab," he said. "We'll continue working with our counterparts to investigate and dismantle such sites as they are discovered."

Political analyst Robert Naiman, who studies drug policy in the region, said Honduras offers an "attractive location" for traffickers because its law enforcement agencies are plagued with corruption. "Unfortunately, I fear this development will be used to justify further militarization of U.S. drug policy in Honduras," he said.

Colombia
10) Colombia exploring peace talks with FARC
Juan Forero, Washington Post, August 28
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/colombia-explores-peace-talks-with-farc/2012/08/28/7a1fcae2-f152-11e1-b74c-84ed55e0300b_story.html

Bogota, Colombia - The Colombian government says it has embarked on "exploratory talks" with rebel commanders to end one of the world's oldest armed conflicts, a hit-and-run guerrilla war that is fueled by the cocaine trade and leaves hundreds dead every year.

President Juan Manuel Santos's brief announcement in a nationally televised address prompted cautious optimism Tuesday in a country where polls show that 74 percent of people support talks to end the conflict. Though in recent years Colombia has become more peaceful and attracted record levels of foreign investment, terrorist attacks and combat are not uncommon in the countryside far from the biggest cities.
[...]
The president did not reveal details of the talks. But RCN Radio in Bogota and Venezuela's state-run television network, Telesur, reported that Santos and negotiators from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had agreed to begin official peace negotiations in Oslo in October. Colombian media had also reported that discussions between the two sides had been secretly taking place in Cuba.
[...]
The FARC is engaging in talks with an adversary its commanders appear increasingly open to trusting: Santos, scion of a politically influential family that once ran Colombia's most important newspaper. Though Santos was a hard-line defense minister in the government of his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, he has shown that as president, he can be politically flexible in order to bring the rebels to the negotiating table.

His government repaired broken relations with Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez, whom the FARC views favorably. Santos also pushed through reforms designed to compensate victims of political violence and return land to thousands of people displaced by armed groups, including the right-wing militias that collaborated closely with military units. The FARC leadership viewed all those gestures positively.

Carlos Lozano, editor of the communist newspaper Voz and an activist who has had contacts with FARC commanders, said the guerrillas will need the state to protect them from reprisal killings as the group engages in negotiations. In the 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of members of the Patriotic Union, a leftist political party partly created by FARC leaders, were gunned down by death squads.

"The state must ensure safety, that they're not killed," Lozano said, referring to the FARC leadership. "But the state also has to guarantee them political space in which to operate."

11) Colombians Learn First Details on How Peace Dialogue Will Go
EFE. August 29, 2012
http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=566214&CategoryId=12393

Bogota – Colombians learned on Wednesday the first details about how the peace dialogue between the national government and the FARC guerrillas may go, a process that has sparked great expectations but also fear and rejection.

Amid the government's caution at engaging in such a dialogue with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC – and Bogota has only confirmed having "exploratory" contacts with the leftist rebels – RCN radio station released on Wednesday the text of the agreement to "begin direct and uninterrupted talks" with a commitment to "put an end to the conflict as an essential condition for the building of a stable and durable peace."

The document, consisting of four pages and six general points, establishes that the delegates of the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC initially will hold the talks in Oslo and later move them to Havana, which will be their permanent seat.

The governments of Cuba and Norway, as guarantors, and those of Venezuela and Chile, as co-guarantors, will support the talks, according to the RCN report.

"It's a very balanced group of countries," Leon Valencia, the director of the Corporacion Nuevo Arco Iris, or CNAI, a research center for conflict and peace, told Efe by telephone.

He said that the involvement of Cuba, which has hosted several Colombian peace dialogues, and Venezuela, which has facilitated meetings with similar aims, "gives (the FARC) a lot of confidence" in the process.

Norway and Chile also provide "a lot of confidence" to the Colombian government, Valencia said.

The CNAI director also said that Bogota has gotten along well with and been well-accepted by Cuba and currently has a "good relationship" with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
[...]
The agenda for the dialogue, according to the document published by RCN, includes the issues of "comprehensive agrarian development policy," "political participation," "end of the conflict," "solution to the problem of illicit drugs," "victims" and "implementation, verification and endorsement."

In addition, the text discusses matters such as a "bilateral and definite" ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, the laying-down of weapons and reincorporation of the guerrillas into society and politics as an opposition force.
[...]
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is in Tehran participating in the non-aligned summit, expressed through his New York office his satisfaction at the announcement of the exploratory talks between Bogota and the FARC, and he offered his mediation to help arrive at a resolution of the country's internal conflict.

---
Sharmila Nicollet storms into lead in second leg of Hero-WGAI Tour

Bangalore, August 29: Sharmila Nicollet stormed into lead with a very steady two-under 68 that put her one shot ahead of Nalini Singh Siwach (68), who, too, carded a fine 68 in the second round of the second leg of theHero-WGAI Women’s Pro Tour at Clover Greens in Bangalore.

Sharmila, who was in a tie for second overnight, was three-under through 13 holes, before her first and only mishap of the day in the form of a bogey came on 14th. She then parred the last four holes for a 68, which was the best round thus far in the tournament.

Also giving Sharmila a run for her money was young Nalini Singh Siwach (68) who overtook overnight leader Smriti Mehra (72) to take the second spot. Nalini was at even par 140, one behind Sharmila whose aggregate is 139. Smriti is lying third at 141.

Neha Tripathi (72) was placed fourth at 143 while Ankita Kedalya (72) was fifth at 147 and Shraddhanjali Singh (74) was sixth at 148.

Sharmila opened with five pars before a birdie came her way on the par-4 sixth. Five more pars elapsed before back to back birdies on 12th and 13th. Then after a lone bogey on 14th, she steadied with four pars.

Nalini was two-under through nine, but then dropped bogeys on tenth and 11th. She birdied the 14th and 15thto come back into red numbers and she stayed under par with three more pars.

Smriti’s day started with a birdie o first, but she dropped a double on the second. One more birdie against two bogeys saw her finish the front nine in 38. A double bogey on 10th meant she was four-over. But three birdies against one bogey retrieved the day and she finished at 72.

Vani Kapoor, who lost the first leg, Hero-KGA tournament, last week, shot a second successive 76 and was placed 11th, while Meghna Bal, who had a fine 71 on first day went to a 80 on second.

The event carries a purse of Rs. 5 lakhs and is the second in the schedule of the Tour which has 12 events.

Tee times for third and final round:
9:00 AM: Nalini Singh (159)/ Mita Gowande (159)
9:10 AM: Nikki Ponappa (158)/ Trisha Sunil (A)(157)
9:20 AM: Priya Puri (156)/ Pallavi Jain (156)/ Rani Sonti (155)
9:30 AM: Preetinder Kaur (154)/ Vani Kapoor (152)/ Meghna Bal (151)
9:40 AM: Ankita Tiwana (151)/ Suchitra Ramesh (A)(150)/ Saaniya Sharma (148)
9:50 AM: Shraddhanjali Singh (148)/ Ankita Kedlaya (A)(147)/ Neha Tripathi (143)
10:00 AM: Smriti Mehra (141)/ Nalini Singh Siwach (140)/ Sharmila Nicollet (139)
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Congress Anti Villagers & Farmers: Jolly
 Delhi Dehat leaders Dy. Mayor Master Azad Singh & Chairman Stndg Committee Rajesh Gehlot felicitated by Delhi Study Group

New Delhi, 30th Aug 2012: Delhi Study Group led by Ex. MLA Delhi & President Mr. Vijay Jolly organized a public program to felicitate newly elected Deputy Mayor Master Azad Singh & Chairman Standing Committee Shri. Rajesh Gehlot at Constitution Club, New Delhi. Congress is anti villagers & farmers alleged Mr. Jolly.

The Chief Guest on the occasion was Chaudhary Ram Karan Solanki, Pradhan 360 village khap panchayat. The distinguished speakers led by Delhi dehat youth leader Mr. Pravesh Sahib Singh Verma, MLAs Dharam Deo Solanki (Palam), Manoj Shokeen (Mundka), Kulwant Rana (Rohini), Parduymn Rajput (Dwarka) & Satprakash Rana (Bijwasan) narrated the tale of woes of Delhi dehat at the hands of Congress led Sheila govt. Senior MCD Councilor Smt. Sarita Chaudhary, Ex. MLA Brahm Singh Tanwar and Mehrauli BJP Leader Sher Singh Dagar accused Delhi Congress Govt. for the total neglect of Delhi dehat.   

Ex. MLA & Delhi Study Group President Mr. Vijay Jolly revealed that Delhi govt. cabinet do not have even one minister from Delhi dehat. After 66 years of independence and right under the nose of parliament, the village areas in Delhi are ‘abhav grast’ and lack civic amenities. There are no medical health care centers. And no available medicines. People are forced to drink hand pump unfiltered water. It leads to water borne diseases.

Mr. Jolly demanded relief for Delhi villages in the new master plan. The new building by - laws in villages be scrapped. There is urgent need to regularize extended lal dora aabadi areas. Mr. Jolly stressed for private & public planned housing projects to be promoted in Delhi dehat. Build pucca roads, new schools & colleges, provide drinking water, hospitals & sports facilities were vociferously demanded by Mr. Jolly.       

Elected Deputy Mayor Master Azad Singh & Chairman Standing Committee Rajesh Gehlot were honored by Delhi Study Group President Vijay Jolly with a shawl, momento & colorful village turbans (rangeen - pagaris) along with program organizer Chaudhary Amrish Kumar from Rangpuri Village & DSG Vice President Bhupendra Kansil.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

       
Join us on:
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Aug 29 Vol 01, Issue 1013
TODAY'S TOP HEADLINES
ESS closes 80% ad inventory ahead of World T20
ESS has roped in Reliance Communication and Havells as joint presenting sponsors and six others as associate sponsors for upcoming World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
DLF ends innings as IPL title sponsor, looks to other sports
The country’s largest realty firm DLF confirmed Tuesday it had chosen not to renew the title rights to the Indian Premier League it has held for the last five years.
Dhoni launches his own motorbike racing team for Supersport World C'ship
Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has launched his own motorbike racing team ‘MSD R-N Racing Team India’ that is competing in the FIM Supersport World Championship
ESPN, Major League Baseball agree 8-yr multiplatform rights extension
Expanded package includes annual wild card game as part of new and enhanced TV content; comprehensive digital, radio and international rights
YouTube launches new soccer channel with MP & Silva
Partnership creates Love Football channel on YouTube, which will include highlights from Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1, US Major League Soccer, Brazil’s Serie A and the Championship, FA Cup and Capital One Cup from England
SIX seals deal with Setanta Sports Asia for rugby content
SIX signs multi-year agreement with Setanta Sports Asia to air RBS Six Nations, Super Rugby and Rugby Championship, as well as rugby programme “The Breakdown”
ESS partners with Fox Sports and Nine to broadcast all ICC events till 2015
Agreement covers 2012 and 2014 World Twenty20s, 2013 Champions Trophy and, world cricket's premier event, the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand
Pak-Oz cricket series: TEN Sports Pakistan makes ‘bumper’ ad bookings
TEN Sports Pakistan lines up Mobilink, Pepsi, Zong and Clear Shampoo as presenting sponsors for the Pakistan vs Australia Series that kicked off Tuesday and runs through till 10 October.
Current Affairs – Love-all: Indian Olympic Team Selections and Athlete Remedies
An opportunity to represent the country at international sporting events is a highpoint in every athlete’s career. Athletes commit to training persistently for years in pursuance of this objective. In India, the Indian Olympic Association (“IOA”) performs the crucial function of finalizing athletes to represent India at the Olympics and other international sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games etc.

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