Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks to be extradited to Sweden

Britain’s Supreme court  approves the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld lower court rulings, calling Swedish authorities’ extradition request lawful.Julian Assange of  WikiLeaks  is accused of sexual misconduct against two women in Sweden. He was arrested in Britain in December 2010.

Julian Assange  had always denied the accusations during lower court hearings. He said his arrest was made for political reasons because his whistle-blowing website disclosed thousands of sensitive US diplomatic documents. Hence Assange was released on conditional bail and is staying at a friend’s house in Britain, wearing an electronic monitor so authorities can track his whereabouts.
Worldwatch Institute
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Contact: Supriya Kumar,, (+1) 202-452-1992, ext. 510
  China Leads Growth in Global Wind Power Capacity     
New Worldwatch Institute report discusses worldwide developments in wind power
Washington, D.C.----Global installed wind power capacity continued to grow in 2011, albeit at a slightly lower rate than in 2009 and 2010, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute ( for its Vital Signs Online service. The world now has approximately four times the installed wind capacity that it did in 2005, reflecting the combined effects of falling prices, improved technology, global investment, and various incentive programs. China led the way with a 43 percent share of global capacity additions in 2011, followed by the United States at 17 percent, India with almost 7 percent, and Germany at 5 percent, writes report author and Worldwatch's Climate and Energy Program Manager Mark Konold.
"China continues to lead the world in wind capacity additions, having increased its capacity a remarkable 40 percent since 2010," said Konold. "But a gap remains between this installed capacity and the amount of wind power that is actually available for use in the country. Because of grid connection challenges and other issues, China is struggling to use all of the electricity generated by its turbines."
Despite large increases in installed wind power capacity, several Chinese provinces, including Inner Mongolia and Gansu, have actually lost a significant portion of their generation capacity because of technical problems. Over the next five years, China plans to invest more than US$400 billion to make improvements to its electrical grid that will enable it to fully integrate its total installed wind capacity by 2015.
In 2011, the United States accounted for approximately 17 percent of global wind power capacity additions. Although the country generated 27 percent more electricity from wind in 2011 than in 2010, wind power still accounts for less than 3 percent of total U.S. power generation, according to the report. Konold credits much of the growth in U.S. wind power capacity to the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), which helped to finance approximately 4,000 megawatts of new capacity by reducing corporate income tax by 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour produced. But if the PTC is not extended beyond its scheduled expiration date at the end of this year, he cautions, the industry could be negatively affected.
The report also discusses wind power developments in the European Union, where Germany regained its position as regional leader for installed capacity. Currently, wind accounts for almost 8 percent of the country's electricity consumption. Although Spain added only a third of total EU capacity since 2008, wind power accounts for almost 16 percent of the country's electricity consumption. Economic instability has had some negative impacts on European wind power, however, pushing future growth projections down and potentially hampering investment.
Worldwide, wind power prices fell to $1.2 million per megawatt in the first half of 2011, mainly because of improvements in supply chain efficiency and economies of scale. Competition from Chinese manufacturers and their excess capacity to build machines and flood the market also played a role. In addition, the capacity factor of wind turbines (the ratio of actual output to nameplate capacity) continues to rise as better technologies enter the market, further driving down turbine costs. Combined, these factors are expected to bring down the cost of wind energy 12 percent by 2016, making onshore wind cost competitive with coal, gas, and nuclear power.
"Global wind power growth looks very strong and is on a continued rise, largely because of China's incredible level of investment," said Konold. "Withhold that, and the picture looks more muddled. Developed economies are not reaching their fullest potential due to financial and policy uncertainty, and many developing economies are running into technical problems, despite slightly stronger growth in wind power capacity. Although continued growth in wind power won't be as strong as it could be, as the supply increases and prices fall, wind energy is quite likely to continue its upward trend."
Further highlights from the report:
  • Global installed wind power capacity grew 21 percent in 2011, lower than the 2010 rate of 24 percent and markedly lower than the 2009 rate of 31 percent.
  • Nearly $75 billion was invested in global wind energy installations in 2011, a 22 percent decrease from 2010.
  • Although the United States lags behind Europe and China in offshore wind power capacity, the U.S. Department of Energy plans to make available $180 million over the next six years to support up to four innovative wind farms off the coasts or in the Great Lakes. 

CM Modi releases the Resurvey Manual

Shri. Narendra Modi, Hon'ble Chief Minister releases the Resurvey Manual prepared y the Revenue Department

          Land is becoming a scarce commodity. Preservation of this valuable asset and effective management strategies assume greater importance. Our foresighted predecessors have gifted us a system for maintenance of revenue records. In the era of fast urbanization and industrialization, society at large is having high expectations from the Revenue Department on the land management related issues. It is also necessary to meet the demand for government land along with far-sighted planning of its future requirements. Hence, it is inevitable to administer matters of land management with high degree of meticulousness and ensure accuracy in maintenance of records as well. A pre-requisite of modernization of land records is to capture in-situ real time land related data with the field survey of land in possession and  cultivated by farmers.
          The original survey for the areas under present State of Gujarat had been carried out from 1880-1915. The technology used for the survey was chain and cross staff. The measurements for each field were written on a paper which is known as the Tippan for that particular parcel of land. The area based on the measurements taken for the land parcel was calculated manually by using a ready reckoner. The survey number, its area, the occupant of this parcel and various other characteristics of this land parcel  were tabulated in a land record known as Akar Bandh. The sum total of the area of all survey number in a village not only gave the total area of the village, but also land area under various categories such as the cultivated land, the cultivable land, the uncultivable waste land, land under roads and other public purposes. What was lacking was the accuracy with regard to the measurements and  the survey of  land  which was done with the help of technology available at that time which had its own limitations.
          As per the provisions of the Gujarat Land Revenue Code, it is required to carry out resurvey at an interval of 30 years to recalculate assessment on agriculture land. Since the original survey, the State Government had not revised the revenue to be levied on agriculture land. Looking to the negligible amount of land revenue and to the benefit  of land holders Gujarat Government has suspended the collection of land revenue since the year 1997.
          Under National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP), the State is playing leading role in carrying out resurvey of land and it is planned to complete resurvey in entire State by year 2015 using sophisticated and latest land survey technologies like DGPS and ETS and G.I.S. based spatial data processing software (IGIS software). Digitized records will be generated by 100% survey of all agriculture land. This work is under progress and is being carried out by national level expert survey agencies under the direct supervision and guidance of the Revenue Department.
          In preparation of this manual, the experience of the field level functionaries and officers involved in the resurvey has been considered as a vital component since the programme is complex and technology driven.

The ground survey has been completed in 2742 villages out of 5297 villages of 7 districts and newly finalized revenue records of 126 villages have been promulgated by the concerned Prant Offices. GIS-ready digitized village maps, taluka maps and District maps are created integrating  new RoR data.
          Record of Rights is considered as presumptive record. There is growing awareness among the various Government  Departments about the utility of the GIS ready maps for the development planning. These maps will serve the purpose. New land  record will be prepared after surveying land as per actual possession of the holder. The State Government has taken a historic decision to alter the century old iconic format of Record of Right i.e. Village Form No. 7/12, in two separate formats. After resurvey, the new Village Form No. 7 will be provided to holder with Land Parcel Map (LPM) showing details of measurement and dimensions with allied details. With these three important components of the Revenue Department i.e. Survey, Record of Rights and Registration can be integrated and immediate consequent correction in spatial data will be possible in case of mutation. The Department has initiated e-Jamin project under which this process will be easily accommodated and maintained.
           The experiences of field level functionaries and officers of the Department involved in resurvey and reconstruction of the Revenue Records have been used to make the process simple in this high-tech programme. Through this publication, the department aims  to provide the  basic orientation to all the major stake-holders about various process and procedures related to land and its management and other important issues dealt by the Revenue and Survey Officers.  
            At this occasion Smt. Anandiben Patel, Hon'ble Revenue Minister, Shri. C.L.Meena, Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, Shri. M.V.Joshi, Settlement Commissioner & Director of Land Records, Shri. Hemendra Shah, Additional Secretary and  Shri. Himanshu Dalwadi of the Settlement Commissionerate were present. The Manual has been prepared in English and Gujarati language.

WHO raises alarm over tobacco industry’s tactics

30 May 2012, New Delhi: On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, WHO is urging governments to beware of the tobacco industry’s interference in tobacco control programme. As countries move to meet their obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the tobacco industry is becoming more aggressive in its attempts to undermine the treaty by acting against the policies contained in it.
 The industry is targeting the youth through increased advertising budgets in several countries of the WHO South-East Asia Region. One in ten school students are offered free samples of tobacco products. The tobacco industry has sued central and local governments over the pictorial warnings on cigarette packets claiming that they infringe on the industry’s rights to use their legally-registered brands and freedom of speech. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey shows that health warnings are effective and a large number of tobacco users noticed the warnings and thought of quitting. Similarly, lawsuits have been filed against smoke-free laws against the Ministries of Health. The apex courts later rejected these contentions and upheld the regulations.
 “Governments must protect people’s health from tobacco use and be vigilant about the tobacco industry’s interference in tobacco control measures” said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia. ”WHO will enhance its support to government initiatives to fight the tobacco industry” he added.
India and Indonesia are among the top ten tobacco leaf producers in the world. In addition the Region is one of the largest producers of smokeless tobacco products. Ninety percent of global smokeless tobacco users live in the Region. Sale of smokeless tobacco products in India  increased by over 25% between 2005 and 2010.
 Ten out of 11 Member States in WHO’s South-East Asia Region are party to WHO FCTC and nine counties have adopted comprehensive tobacco control legislations. Many countries have established smoke-free public places and banned cigarette advertisements. Sale of tobacco to minors is prohibited in most Member States. Global Tobacco Surveillance has been implemented in ten Member States and nationwide Global Adult Tobacco Surveys have been conducted in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Thailand.
Nepal recently prohibited smoking and chewing tobacco in public places, mandated graphic health warnings and provisions for health funds from tobacco taxation.  Thailand has declared all public places 100% smoke-free and banned display of cigarette packs at sale counters. Eight cities were declared smoke-free in Indonesia in spite of the strong influence of the tobacco industry.
Though tobacco and tobacco products are in the sensitive list in South-Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA), the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) aims to eliminate tariff barriers within the Region including tobacco. Tobacco companies in the Region are taking advantage of these liberal cross-border trade areas to the best of their advantage.
 WHO is urging governments to protect public health from the tobacco industry’s interference. Nongovernmental groups and academia must monitor and denounce this interference and the community must remain vigilant.

May29, 2012
Mr. Per Bertilsson
Executive Director
Dear Mr. Per Bertilsson,
You will be horrified to discover ‘IWMI's Mission is to improve the management of land and water resources for food, livelihoods and the environment but I have not yet come across a single document that even marginally addresses the stated objectives of IWMI.
On the contrary it can be effortlessly proved they are bunch of scoundrels – Sabotaging Indian Economic Progress Instead.
1. This inventor finds it is very funny and also very stupid when River Linkers tell us there is flood in some regions and there is drought and the River Links shall transfer flood waters to drought regions.
2. Any farmer or hunter would tell you that it is easy to catch a sitting bull or shoot a sitting leopard but these Idiots would plan to diverted rivers in flood fury to drought regions across hundreds to thousands of kilometers jumping over scores of major and minor rivers. Cover of IWNI publication illustrates ‘Jumping of Rivers.’ (Color picture page 12),
3. More than 50% of India population lives in Ganga – Indus basin and blue River Links P-12 indicates ‘Water Transfer Schemes’ in regions that have 28 BCM, barely 5% live storage capacity of Ganga Basin Flows and most of it in peninsular region, but most river links originate in Himalaya Region. (Six Clippings of basin wise storages points to South India always have twice more water in its Storage Dams yet River Links are in South Indian direction.) (Page 13-18)
4. This is even more interesting – but definitely confirms SIWI 2012 winners are absolute idiots. In the Monsoon Report for 2011 though there are not much variations in rainfall across states on seasonal basis but on daily, weekly and monthly basis variation Swings are huge. In color chart for monsoon season 2011 the variations are not much but monthly swings are huge. For example Punjab received just -7% seasonal rainfall but for June2011 it was +123%, July2011 -53%, -5% for August and +25% for September. West UP figures +137, -10%, -21% and -35% respectively, similarly for other regions. (Page 19-20)
5.  Some of my latest Research fully exposes ‘IWMI Gross Incompetence’ are also Annexed here. ‘Lame Duck Hydro Power --’ and ‘Bundelkhand Poverty--’
Surely IWMI doesn’t deserve even a wooden prize.
Thank you,
Ravinder Singh,
Inventor & Consultant
Y-77, Hauz Khas, NewDelhi-110016, India.

AP HC verdict against Muslim reservation - a slap on the face of UPA says VHP:Govts & Polititians needs to introspect & come out of apeasement politics Chandrababu should not become modern Nizam of Hyderabad
New Delhi May 29, 2012. Welcomming APHC verdict against muslim reservation VHP Delhi today passed a resolution terming it a slap on the face of UPA for its divisible politics and advise all governments and the political parties to keep away from apeasement policies based on communal grouds. After its meeting VHP state Gen Secretary shri Satyendra Mohan asked UPA for immediate withdrawal of its order and apologise to the nation in this regard.
Briefing media after the meeting in the VHP state HQtrs in Jhandewalan its Media chief Vinod Bansal said that we have already organised Hindu Sarv Jati Mahapanchayat in Talkatora stadium of the national capital last week where thousands of delegates from different sacts, casts & creeds of Hindu community determind to scrape it. Our campaign will further be intensified if union government do not roll it back forthwith. Govt should now learn a lesson as it is not new but this is forth time when high court has rejected this communal order, said Bansal. It is unfortunate that Mr Chandrababu Naidu today demands constitutional ammendment against this verdict. We advise him not to become modern Nizam of Hyderabad and should honour the constitution and the nation, VHP added.
Vinod Bansal
Media Chief

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Chandigarh, May 29, 2012: R Srinivas of Bangalore produced a sizzling
five-under-67 to claim the first round lead at the PGTI Players
Championship being played at the Chandigarh Golf Club. Chandigarh’s
Harendra Gupta and the Delhi duo of Shamim Khan and Naman Dawar are in
joint second at four-under-68.

R Srinivas had an exceptional opening round thanks to his brilliant
short-game. His first birdie of the day came on the second hole where
he chipped it to within a few inches. This was followed by a 15-feet
birdie putt on the third. The bogey on the fourth did not prove too
costly for Srinivas as he came back strongly with a brilliant
eight-iron shot to set up a birdie on the eighth.

The short and stocky Srinivas, who is yet to win his maiden
professional title, collected three birdies in a row from the 11th
through the 13th to take his score to five under. He chipped-in from
the bunker on the 11th and then missed an eagle by a whisker with his
nine-iron approach shot on the 12th. Srinivas garnered his final
birdie of the day on the 13th by sinking a 15-feet putt.

Srinivas said, “With the wind being up, club-selection wasn’t easy.
I’m delighted to have shot my best score of the season so far despite
the tough conditions. The highlight of my round was my excellent
chipping and putting. I also hit it quite close with my short-irons.”

Harendra Gupta did not have the best of starts as he bogeyed the
opening hole after a poor tee-shot. Gupta, however, picked up three
birdies in quick succession on the second, third and fifth to move to
two under. He converted a 25-footer on the third.

Harendra carried on the good work on the back-9. He sank a 15-feet
birdie putt on the 15th and then landed his chip from 15 yards to
within four feet for another birdie on the 17th.

Gupta said, “I’ve made a good start to the week. I generally play well
at my home course and therefore the confidence is high this week. I
hit some decent approach shots today and also putted well. It was
windy in the second half of the day but I hung in there and didn’t
give away any shots.”

Shamim Khan knocked down 15-feet birdie putts on the second and 12th
and landed it within a foot of the pin for birdie on the 17th in his
round of 68. He had two other birdies and a bogey.

Naman Dawar joined Harendra and Shamim in joint second after he made
an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys in the opening round thanks to
his superb ball-striking.

Manish Goyal, Rashid Khan, Shankar Das, Raju Ali Mollah and M Dharma
are in tied fifth with matching scores of three-under-69.

Shankar Das of Kolkata and Sameer M Shaikh of Pune fired a hole-in-one
each on the eighth hole.

Monday, 28 May 2012


Though there is an increase of 31% tax collection in Delhi but traders failed to get any priority from Delhi Chief Minister in her Budget 2012-13 – said the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) while commenting upon the budget. The Delhi budget is not economy driven and no steps have been taken to enhance the distributive character of Delhi trade.
CAIT Secretary General Mr. Praveen Khandelwal said that though the CM announced online availability of the VAT Department but no announcement has been made to upgrade and modernise the existing trade of Delhi. Despite yeomen contribution of the traders in enhancing the tax revenue, the CM has not announced any policy to provide necessary infrastructure in Delhi Markets.

Shri Khandelwal regretted that No announcement of any State Trade Policy for trade of Delhi has utterly dismayed the traders. Similarly in the wake of repeated incidents of loot and dacoity with traders the CM has not taken any initiative to form any Panel comprising of Police Officials, Delhi Govt Officials and traders. No steps have been announced to Remove anomalies and disparities in VAT taxation system

He further said that Walled city constitute a major area of Delhi trade and is known as the commercial hub of Delhi but the Chief Minister has not made any allocation of special fund to develop Shahjahanabad ( Old Delhi) into a modern marketing hub.

No announcement of a policy of rehabilitation and relocation of traders who have lost their business due to sealing, demolitions etc. in Delhi.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

China’s tourist rules for Tibet ever-changing, now more difficult

TibetanReview: China is reported to have made it more difficult for tourists to visit Tibet Autonomous Region, the western half of ethnographic Tibet. “National Tourism Administration of China and the Tibet Tourism Bureau have changed requirements to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit, causing disruption for many tour operators and travellers,” reported May 24.

It said permits were now being only issued for groups with a minimum of five travellers of the same nationality.

The report cited the tour group Peregrine as saying some operators had cancelled all tours to Tibet and that travellers were being stranded without land arrangements.

Referring to the difficulty of managing tours to Tibet, the report quoted Peregrine Destination Manager Ken Ismail as saying: “Tibetan Permits are complex and ever changing at the best of times. The new requirements have proven more difficult to facilitate Tibetan permits for groups; however travel is absolutely still possible and we are still taking many travellers over the next few months and well into next year.

“Of course, the situation could change at any time, but this is the situation at present. With a little flexibility in their travel date or itinerary, I am confident that we can continue to help our travellers to experience the beauty of mystical Tibet.”

Delhi govt may slash tax on petrol

Petrol prices in Delhi may come down by Rs 1.50 with CM Sheila Dikshit dropping strong hits of a possible cut in value added tax on the fuel to provide some relief to people on the lines of Congress govts in Kerala and Uttarakhand.

Dikshit, without specifying the quantum of the possible relief, said government was examining the issue and would do something similar to slashing the state tax when price of diesel was hiked last year.

"We had given relief last time when prices (of diesel) was hiked. We will do something this time as well," Dikshit said hinting that the cut in rates may be announced in the annual budget of Delhi which will be presented by her on Monday.

"Wait till Monday for my budget," Dikshit said replying to questions on whether her government was planning to provide some relief to people from Rs 7.54 hike per litre of petrol.

Following a hike of Rs 3.37 per litre of diesel in June last year, Delhi government had slashed the rate by 37 paise removing the 12.5 percent VAT component on the hiked amount.

Officials indicated that government may cut the 20 percent VAT component on the hiked amount of Rs 7.54 which will bring down the rate of per litre of petrol by Rs 1.50.

After the hike on Wednesday, the petrol price had gone up to Rs 73.18 per litre from Rs 65.64.

If the Delhi Government cuts the VAT on the increased amount, then the prices of per litre of petrol will come down to Rs 71.68.

The Congress governments in Kerala and Uttarakhand have already decided to waive off VAT on the increased amount.

Dikshit had Thursday night also indicated that Delhi government may consider cutting VAT on petrol. She, however, justified the steep hike saying oil companies were incurring huge losses and the hike was necessary.

Hazar­dous waste­ manag­ement­ & trade­ viola­te

Subor­dinat­e legislation for hazar­dous waste­ manag­ement­ & trade­ viola­te Basel­ Conve­ntion­ witho­ut legis­lativ­e manda­te
Shri P. Karunakaran,
Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Subordinate Legislation
Parliament of India
New Delhi

Through Shri Sukhi Chand Chaudhary, Director, PSC on Subordinate Legislation

Subject- Subordinate legislations for hazardous waste management and
trade under Environment Protection Act, 1986 violate Basel Convention
without legislative mandate


This is with reference to the subordinate legislations for Hazardous
Waste Management and Trade under Environment Protection Act, 1986, the
reply of Smt Jayanthi Natarajan, Union Minister of Environment and
Forests in the Lok Sabha on May 21, 2012 and Supreme CourtⳠorder
dated October 14, 2003 and February 29, 2012.

Union Minister of Environment and Forests said, "Import of such
(hazardous) wastes for disposal is not permitted. Import is permitted
only for recycling or recovery or reuse with the permission of the
Ministry of Environment and Forests and/or Directorate General of
Foreign Trade", Union Commerce Ministry.

I submit that the MinisterⳠreply that defines hazardous waste as
recyclable material appears to be an exercise in sophistry.  Her reply
and other relevant documents revealing the true nature the goings on
are attached.

I submit that the trend revealed in PSCⳠreport on
㎯n-implementation of oft-repeated recommendations of Committee on
Subordinate Legislation, Lok Sabha by various Ministries䠤ated
December 16, 2011 is being pursued even by Union Ministry of
Environment & Forests in the matter of subordinate legislations for
Hazardous Waste Management and Trade under Environment Protection Act,
1986. This is being done at the behest of Union Ministry of Commerce
and Industry.

I submit that it is clear from the existing Hazardous Waste Rules
(including the amendments till date) that it promotes trade in
hazardous waste unmindful of the National Environment Policy that
acknowledges how "Environmental factors are estimated as being
responsible in some cases for nearly 20 percent of the burden of
disease in India".

I wish to draw your attention towards the first three paragraphs of
Supreme CourtⳠlandmark order dated October 14, 2003. It reads:
ሡzardous Wastes are highly toxic in nature.  The industrialization
has had the effect of generation of huge quantities of hazardous
wastes.  These and other side effects of development gave birth to
principles of sustainable development so as to sustain industrial
growth.  The hazardous waste required adequate and proper control and
handling.  Efforts are required to be made to minimise it.  In
developing nations, there are additional problems including that of
dumping of hazardous waste on their lands by some of the nations where
cost of destruction of such waste is felt very heavy.  These and other
allied problems gave birth to Basel Convention.  The key objectives of
the Basel Convention are: 㴯 minimize the generation of hazardous
wastes in terms of quantity and hazardousness; to dispose of them as
close to the source of generation as possible; to reduce the
transboundary movement of hazardous wastes.伢r> 2.   Due to alarming situation created by dumping of hazardous waste,
its generation and serious and irreversible damage, as a result
thereof, to the environment, flora and fauna, health of animals and
human beings, the petitioner approached this Court under Article 32
complaining of violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of
3.   The petitioner has, inter alia, relied upon the Basel Convention.
The Basel Convention was signed by India on 15th March, 1990 and
ratified on 24th June, 1992.⼢r>
I submit that in a order dated February 29, 2012, Supreme Court held
that the application which 㨡s been filed by Dr. Claude Alvares,
member of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, praying for an
injunction to restrain Union of India from finalising of a
Notification on hazardous wastes dated 28th September, 2007, has been
rendered infructuous on account of the publication of the Hazardous
Wastes (Management, Handling & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008. It
appears that the prayer of Dr.Claude Alvares, a member of the SCMC did
not get relief due to limitations of jurisdiction of the Supreme

I take this opportunity to pray to PSC on Subordinate Legislation 㦯r
an injunction to restrain Union of India䠯r any other possible relief
through its examination of the Notification on hazardous wastes dated
28th September, 2007, which has been published as Hazardous Wastes
(Management, Handling & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008,
subsequent four amendments in the Rules, proposed fifth amendment in
the Rules and the ᐲocedure for grant of approval for utilization of
hazardous wastes as a supplementary resource or for energy recovery,
or after processing under Rule 11 of Hazardous Wastes Management
Rules, 2008⮠The original Notification is attached.

I submit that both the current members of SCMC who were also the
members of Supreme CourtⳠHigh Powered Committee on Hazardous Wastes
Management headed by Prof M G K Menon namely,Dr.Claude Alvares and
Dr.D.B. Boralkar should be invited by the PSC to hear their
testimonies. Prof. Menon should also be invited besides Shri Sanjay
Parikh, lawyer Supreme Court who has been pursuing the case selflessly
since 1995. They can reveal the plot being set by hazardous waste

I submit that in our country all the municipal waste to energy plants
have failed. The proposal of the hazardous waste to energy projects
through the procedure for grant of approval for utilization of
hazardous wastes as a supplementary resource or for energy recovery,
or after processing under Rule 11 of Hazardous Wastes Management
Rules, 2008 has not been examined as far as their adverse
environmental health impact is concerned. This is unfolding under
illegitimate acts of subordinate legislation.

I submit that the intent of the Commerce and Environment Ministry
stood exposed when it proposed an amendment to the Hazardous Wastes
(Management & Handling) Rules; after amendment it was to read
"Hazardous Materials (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement)
Rules, 2007. The proposed rules was to have the effect of exempting
transit countries from obtaining prior informed consent for all
shipments of hazardous waste to India. The proposal also stated that
as long as a material contains less than 60 per cent contamination by
a hazardous constituent, then it is safe for our ecology. Waste
asbestos embedded in the structure of the scrap material is not
banned.  This sleight of hand at redefinition attracted widespread
criticism from environment and public health groups. Startled by the
proposed Rules environment and public health researchers and activists
had charged that it has been done at the behest of hazardous waste
traders. Even the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) had expressed
its concerns in November 2007. The SCMC on Hazardous Wastes had also
objected. As a consequence the word "wastes" was not replaced with
"materials" but "Transboundary Movement" remains. In effect, the
original Rules were mutilated and the process of mutilating it further
is underway.

I submit that through a jugglery of words in the subordinate
legislations on hazardous wastes, Union Ministries of Commerce and
Environment have paved the way for officially opening floodgates for
the dumping of world's hazardous waste in the name of recycling. This
has unleashed unprecedented havoc on India's environment and health of
its citizens. These subordinate legislations on hazardous wastes seeks
to undo established, science-based definitions of waste and consider
waste that is being recycled somehow less hazardous than the waste
being landfilled in order to curry favor with hazardous scrapping

I submit that through a not-so-subtle mangling of international
definitions for "waste", "disposal" and "safe recycling" both these
ministries have designed a veritable global waste funnel that will
ensure that the world's waste will surge to our shores. All this is
being done in the name of recycling.

I submit that the Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and
Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008 has completely altered definitions
are contrary to the international rules of the Basel Convention, which
India is obliged to uphold.

I submit that it is illegal for both these ministries pretend to
implement the Basel Convention but utilise definitions that outwit the
intent of the treaty.

I submit following examples of departures from the Basel Convention
and international law:
妮bsp;  India has decided that transit states do not have to receive prior
informed consent for all shipments of hazardous waste.
妮bsp;   India has decided that dumping in rivers, oceans, and lakes, or
burning waste somehow does not constitute disposal and therefore that
which is dumped in aquatic environments, or burned, is not waste.
妮bsp;  The international definition of "environmentally sound management"
has been ignored in favor of a new definition of "safe for recycling"
that states that as long as a material contains less than 60%
contamination by a hazardous constituent, then itⳠsafe!
妮bsp;   India has exempted bio-medical wastes and municipal wastes from
this law yet these are meant to be covered under Basel.
妮bsp;  India appears to allow dioxin imports for disposal but not for recycling.
妮bsp;  Waste asbestos imports are banned unless they are contaminating
other substances (e.g. old ships).
妮bsp;  Fails to implement the Ban Amendment forbidding all imports of
hazardous waste from developed countries.
妮bsp;  Fails to recognize it is illegal to trade in waste with non-Parties
of the Basel Convention such as the United States.
妮bsp;  While since 1982 over 5924 dead and hazardous wastes laden ships
have been dumped in Indian waters, the Hazardous Wastes Management
(Handling & Transboundary Movement Rules, 2008) provides that the
Rules will not apply to 㷡stes arising out of the operation from
ships beyond five kilometers of the relevant baseline as covered under
the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 and rules made there
under䮠Subordinate legislations under Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
also merit attention

I submit that it is contrary to our constitution because the State is
under obligation to protect people's right to health and environment),
instead of an environmental law being protective of human health and
the environment, these subordinate legislations are trade centric for
hazardous waste.

I submit that its significance must be seen in the context of
India-Japan Free Trade Agreement and India-EU Free Trade Agreements
besides Economic Partnership Agreements with other developed countries
who wish to externalize their pollution load following Lawrence
Summers Principle of transferring harm to developing countries.

In such a backdrop, I wish to dispute the reply of the Union
Environment Minister. If this reply of Union Minister of Environment
and Forests is read with the *attached* 'Statement of Hazardous Goods
Lying at Ports' given to the Parliament by Union Minister of Shipping,
the true nature of the goings on stands exposed. How is it that waste
oil which is officially admitted as waste oil referred to as hazardous

I submit that the Ministry appears to have done its homework to
justify hazardous waste trade in various disguises. Under Rule 23 of
Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement)
Third Amendment Rules, 2008 refers to the 㒥sponsibilities of
Authorities䠷hich is specified in its Schedule VII that provides the
List of Authorities and Corresponding Duties䠷herein it is mentioned
that Directorate-General of Foreign Trade constituted under the
Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 has a duty to
ㇲant License for import of hazardous wastes䮼br>
It is noteworthy that since 1989 till 2012, there have been several
amendments to the Rules.  Interestingly, the new 7 page Draft
Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement)
Fifth Amendment Rules, 2011 engineers these Rules and inserts a new
definition of waste. It reads: "㨺ea) 㷡ste䠭eans materials, that
are not products or by-products, for which the generator has no
further use in terms of his/her own purposes or for production,
transformation or consumption, and of which he/she wants to dispose."
Its Explanation1 reads: "Wastes may be generated during the extraction
of raw materials, the processing of raw materials into intermediates
and final products, the consumption of final products, and through
other human activities. Residuals recycled or reused at the place of
generation as a part of process are excluded." Its Explanation 2
reads: "By-product means a material that is not solely or separately
produced by the production process but gets produced in the process
and is used as such." I hold that the amendments are being done under
undue influence of the global hazardous waste traders. The new Draft
Rule is attached.

I submit that the subordinate legislation with regard to Hazardous
Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008
are contrary to the orders issued by the Supreme Court. The order
dated 14th October, 2003 endorsed UNⳠBasel Convention. The new
notification is in contempt of the Court and violates the spirit of
the Basel treaty by allowing traders to deal with hazardous wastes who
are endangering public and ecological health. It is indeed strange
that while the Environment Ministry admits that there is huge deficit
of capacity to deal with hazardous wastes generated in the country,
the new Hazardous Waste Rules, Amendments and Procedures permit
traders to import hazardous wastes.

I wish to inform you that the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee
(SCMC) on Hazardous Wastes members opines that "Truly, we take three
steps forward and then five steps backward." The attached court⳼br> order that constituted the SCMC saying 㗥 constitute a Monitoring
Committee comprising of the aforesaid members as also Dr.Claude
Alvares, NGO and Dr.D.B. Boralkar. This Committee shall oversee that
the direction of this Court are implemented timely.  It would also
oversee that the aspects to which the Ministry has agreed are
implemented in letter and spirit and without any laxity or delay in
the matter.  It would be open to the Monitoring Committee to co-opt a
representative of the State Government or State Pollution Control
Boards or any other person or authority as the Committee may deem fit
and proper.  The Monitoring Committee shall file quarterly reports in
this Court.䠦nbsp;I submit that Union Ministry of Environment & Forests
has ignored the recommendations of both the court appointed members.

I submit that as per a 54 page Report of the Committee to Evolve Road
Map on Management of Wastes in India, Union Ministry of Environment &
Forests there are about 36,000 hazardous waste generating industries
in India which generate 6.2 million tonnes out of which land fillable
hazardous waste is about 2.7 million tonnes (44%), incinerable
hazardous waste is about 0.4 million tonnes (7 %) and recyclable
hazardous waste is about 3.1 million tonnes (49 %). Indiscriminate and
unscientific disposal of wastes in the past has resulted in several
sites in the country to become environmentally degraded. Isn't our own
hazardous waste sufficient?

I submit that "141 hazardous waste dumpsites that have been primarily
identified in 14 States/UTs out of which 88 critically polluted
locations are currently identified" which in effect means that there
no capacity to deal with these wastes. If they are unable to deal with
the domestically generated waste in a scientific and environmentally
sound manner and are compel them to dump them, how can Environment
Ministry's reply  to the Parliament that implies that India has the
capacity to deal with the imported hazardous waste for any purpose be
deemed convincing.

I submit that it has come to light from the Minister's statement that
a co-ordination committee comprising of representatives from the
Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, the
Ministry of Shipping, Central Pollution Control Board and select State
Pollution Control Boards has been constituted that claims to be
"working to sensitize the Customs authorities regarding enforcement of
these Rules in order to check illegal import of hazardous waste into
the country." It appears that through linguistic manipulation waste is
been re-defined as non-waste. What has become evident is that Indian
regulations offer least resistance to dumping of hazardous wastes. In
fact it welcomes hazardous wastes trade in the name of "recycling or
recovery or reuse" of hazardous wastes.

I submit that as a consequence hazardous waste importers are bringing
in lakhs of tonnes of hazardous waste into India without facing any
legal hurdle. Earlier, Environment MinistryⳠHazardous Waste Rules
prohibited import of waste oil, ash and residues from incineration of
municipal solid waste, plastic, and unsorted waste scrap. But the same
was allowed under the Open General License of the export-import policy
of the Commerce Ministry. This led to import of ash and residues from
incineration of municipal solid waste has increased by about 130 times
during 2006-2009. The import of plastic waste increased by seven times
during this period. Countries such as Netherlands, Germany and the
United Kingdom have realized that Indian regulations are hazardous
waste friendly. There was a 48 per cent increase in hazardous waste
trade import during 2006-2009.

I submit that acknowledging such a situation, the then Union
Environment and Forest Minister had written a letter to Union Commerce
Minister in April 2010 urging alignment of Hazardous Waste Rules and
Export-Import policy to reduce 㳣ope of confusion䠡t implementation
level. ㉠suggest that a joint group of the two ministries be set up
to resolve the issue䬠the minister said and had further added that
some export-oriented units especially those in the Special Economic
Zones (SEZ) were importing hazardous waste without seeking approval
from either the Ministries. They were also operating without a
mandatory 㣯nsent to operate䠵nder environmental laws aimed at
protecting the environment. The minister had said, の impression also
seems to have gained ground that such units are exempt from the
provisions of environment regulations can import hazardous wastes
without any permission. These impressions need to be corrected䮠What
has happened since then is that instead of aligning and factoring in
environmental concerns in the hazardous waste trade, blind
profiteering has taken precedence over public health concerns. The
Hazardous Wastes Rules do not apply to SEZ.  PSC should demand that
the names of SEZs which are importing hazardous wastes must be

In view of the above, your immediate intervention alone can facilitate
creation of legitimate legislative competence to regulate management
and trade in hazardous wastes.

I will be happy to share relevant documents and reference materials in
this regard.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
New Delhi
Mb- 9818089660

Shri P. Karunakaran, Chairman, PSC on Subordinate Legislation
Shri Sitaram Yechury, Chairman, PSC on Transport, Culture & Tourism
Hon⢬e Members of PSC on Subordinate Legislation
Shri Ghanshyam Anuragi,
Shri Praveen Singh Aron,
Shri Kalyan Banerjee
Shri E. T. Mohammed Basheer
Shri Ramen Deka
Dr. Mahesh Joshi
Shri Virender Kashyap
Shri Jitender Singh Malik
Dr. Thokchom Meinya
Smt. Mausam Noor
Shri Gajendra Singh Rajukhedi
Dr. Bhola Singh
Shri Vijay Bahadu Singh
Shri A.K.S Vijayan
Prof. M G K Menon, former Chairman, High Powered Committee on Hazardous Wastes
Hon⢬e Members of Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes
Dr Claude Alvares
Dr D B Boralkar
Shri Sanjay Parikh, Lawyer, Supreme Court

The Sale at Instituto Cervantes of New Delhi.

Dear all,
As you might know by now, next Thursday 31st of May we will host the performance of The Sale at Instituto Cervantes of New Delhi. Please find attached the dossier we have prepared for the press with all the information related to the author of The Sale, the story, the performers and the theatre company. You are all invited to come to the play (you will also find the invitation attached).
Kind Regards,
Raquel Folgarona
Communications Coordinator

Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi
Hanuman Road 48, New Delhi 110001
Narain Karthikeyan qualifies 23rd for Monaco GP
Monaco (Monte Carlo): Indian F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan qualified 23rd for the Monaco GP, round six of the 2012 FIA Formula 1 Championship.
The blue-riband event of the series sees drivers taketo the narrow streets of the Principality through the weekend. It was looking good for the HRT F1 driver as the opening practice session on Thursday saw him complete 26 laps, finishing ahead of the two Marussia drivers and his teammate Pedro De La Rosa.
“There were a few off-track excursions, but this is normal in Monaco when you are trying to find the limit”, he revealed.
The second Thursday practice was rained out, resulting in very little running.
This meant the one-hour final practice session was a busy effort, with the Indian completing 19 laps in final preparation for qualifying.
“It was looking good for qualifying, we had got a fair amount of running and since the circuit isn’t aero-dependent, we were closer to the cars ahead of us”, he said.
The start of the qualifying session was interrupted due to an incident which brought out the red flag.
But once the track cleared, it was back to business and after 8 laps Karthikeyan was able to post a 1:19.310, good enough for 23rd on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
However, the Indian revealed later that all didn’t go to plan.
“We both had three runs, and I was ahead of him after the first two runs on new tires when we both put on new set of super soft tyres for each outing.”
“However, when I expected the third set of new tires my engineer strangely called it off!  This meant I wasn’t able to improve a lot whereas Pedro went almost a second quicker.
“I wouldn’t have done that lap though, but I would have been closer.So I need to discuss this with the team.”
However, he remains optimistic for the race tomorrow, considering the weather forecast which predicts a chance of rain.
“It was supposed to rain during qualifying today but it didn’t. So hope we get some showers tomorrow as it will give us a chance to do something more than usual”, he concluded.

Friday, 25 May 2012

NBA confirms Monsanto/Mahyco and ors. to be criminally prosecuted in B.t. Brinjal Biopiracy Case

In its first official confirmation, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA, India's independent regulator on all matters pertaining to biodiversity protection, conservation and use) has stated that “it is proceeding with lodging of complaint against the alleged violators” of Biological Diversity Act on grounds of biopiracy in promoting B.t. Brinjal, India's first transgenic GMO food. This information was provided to Environment Support Group (ESG) in response to a Right to Information query, and a copy is enclosed. As per Indian law, the filing of the complaint against this serious environmental crime assumes launching of criminal prosecution against the violators. India has already enforced a moratorium on the commercial release of B.t. Brinjal on various scientific, legal, health and community concerns.

The undersigned on behalf of Environment Support Group had filed a complaint in February 2010 accusing the world's largest agritech company Monsanto along with its Indian partner Mahyco, Sathguru Consultants (representing USAID and Cornell University) and various public funded agriculture institutions such as University of Agriculture Sciences (Dharwar, Karnataka), Tamilnadu Agricultural University (Coimbatore) and Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (Uttar Pradesh), of accessing over 16 varieties of brinjal endemic to India in comprehensive violation of the Biological Diversity Act while promoting the commercial release of transgenic B.t. Brinjal through 2005-2010. None of the regulatory agencies, including the NBA and Ministry of Environment and Forests, had bothered to verify compliance with the B D Act throught out this period, and began to take action with much reluctance after ESG filed the complaint.

The RTI query was filed seeking all documentation pertaining to the case filed by ESG. Shockingly, and quite questionably, NBA has refused to part with the documentation even to the complainants. Justifying this stand, it has controversially and peculiarly claimed that the documentation cannot be shared with the complainants as “the matter is under advanced stage of lodging of complaint and taking into account the intricacies which involve nuances of biotechnology it is felt that it may not be appropriate to provide the documents/instructions at this juncture”. Evidently, NBA is not even sure if this is the right decision to take, and ESG will file an appeal against this decision soon.

As reported in the media, the decision to initiate criminal prosecution against this case of biopiracy was taken by NBA in its meeting held on 28 February 2012, after it was put to a vote. The vote became essential as some members of the NBA were keen on stopping the prosecution. This when when NBA had already resolved in June 2011 to prosecute the violators, a fact repeatedly confirmed in Parliament by the Indian Environment Minister Smt. Jayanti Natarajan. ESG has consistently raised concerns over such dithering by NBA to initiate action against violators of the Biological Diversity Act.

Karnataka Chief Minister urged to re-initiate prosecution against Bt. Brinjal violators

ESG has also submitted a representation to Karnataka Chief Minister Shri. Sadananda Gowda urging him to immediately revive the decision to criminally prosecute those engaged in biopiracy through the Karnataka Biodiversity Board. It may be recalled that the Board had decided to initiate appropriate legal action against University of Agricultural Sciences (Dharwar), Monsanto and Mahyco for accessing 6 local varieties of brinjal illegally from Karnataka, and converting them into transgenic B.t. Brinjal products, all in violation of the Biological Diversity Act. However, due to pressure, apparently brought by none other than the Principal Secretary of Karnataka's Environment Department (the chief custodian of Karnataka's biodiversity), the investigation built over two years was suspended in a controversial decision of the Board in January 2012. ESG initiated a mass petition in February this year against this illegal and retrograde decision to the Chief Minister. Over 500 groups and individuals across India and the world have endorsed this representation which is accessible at: A copy of the representation now made to the Chief Minister is also enclosed.

More details about ESG's efforts to tackle biopiracy in India, including documents listed above, are accessible at:

Leo F. Saldanha
and Co-complainant in the aforesaid Biopiracy case with
Bhargavi S. Rao
Coordinator (Education)/Trustee
Environment Support Group

Stand off continues in Kuwait parliament

Kuwait, the stand off between the Government and the Islamist opposition dominated parliament continues. A scheduled parliament meeting was cancelled on Wednesday after the cabinet boycotted it following a row over the plans by opposition MPs to quiz the embattled finance minister.

Local media and analysts reported that the Finance Minister Mustapha al-Shamali may step down rather than face a vote of no confidence. But, the Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak Al-Sabah made it clear that the Finance Minister Mustapha al-Shamali will not resign before being quizzed by opposition on charges of financial irregularities in departments under his control.

Shamali has repeatedly rejected the allegations and said he was willing to face questions as per the parliamentary rules. The cabinet walked out of the session on Tuesday, saying the current plan to question Shamali was unconstitutional. On Wednesday, the cabinet did not arrive for the session, indicating a simmering tension between Kuwait's government and parliament.

The new parliament was constituted after the snap polls in February in which majority of the seats were won by the Islamist opposition.

The seminar on “Emerging trends, Challenges and the way ahead” will bring together government officials, academia and stakeholders of transport sector to discus and deliberate.
State’s urban development department in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has organized a seminar on “Emerging trends, Challenges and the way ahead” on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. Urban Development minister Nitin Patel will be the Chief Guest of the seminar.
It is noteworthy that the State has seen rapid urbanization along with the unprecedented economic growth. According to the latest Census-2011, Gujarat is 42.58% urbanized besides the State having one of the highest rates of urbanization among all States in the country. In such scenario, it is of utmost important to chart out a roadmap for infrastructure development and policy implementation mechanism for urban transportation in Gujarat. 
The seminar would cover a wide range of topics of interest to stake holders in the urban transportation including integrated mobility, transport-oriented development and safer and greener transport.
The seminar would bring together senior government officials, policy and decision makers, academia, research organizations, eminent names and other stakeholders of the transport industry to discuss and deliberate on the emerging transport paradigms, latest technologies and global best practices along with the underlying challenges.

  European Union is not considering an association agreement with Ukraine over what it regards as political persecution in the country, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said on Thursday.
“The human rights situation in Ukraine, in particular political trials, arouses serious concern within the EU. Clearly, the signing of an EU-Ukraine association agreement is not being considered in this situation,” he said.
The bilateral deal aims to establish political association and economic integration between the EU and Ukraine, but European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in December the agreement is unlikely to be signed before Ukrainian parliamentary elections due in October.

The trial and subsequent seven-year jail term of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which Europe sees as politically motivated, also became a hurdle.Tymoshenko was jailed for pushing through a 2009 gas deal with Russia that Ukrainian authorities say has caused multi-billion-dollar losses to the national economy and deny accusations by Western powers and Russia that the trial was politically motivated.European parliament will vote on Thursday on a resolution calling for free and fair elections and the release of political prisoners in Ukraine.
According to a statement released by the European Parliament, EU lawmakers will discuss on Thursday the situation in Ukraine, and in particularly the treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
Vladimir Makiyenko, a pro-Europe Ukrainian lawmaker told Russian newspaper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, on Wednesday that the EU had the mechanisms and capacity to introduce sanctions against Ukraine.
“There can be made uncomfortable, and even humiliating for ordinary people, decisions as well as ones financially dangerous for Ukrainian businessmen who are close to the ruling authorities…But nothing will happen before the Ukrainian parliamentary elections,” The Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted Makiyenko as saying.
The members of the European Parliament will also consider issues relating to the signing of an Association Agreement with Ukraine, a bilateral deal aimed at establishing political association and economic integration between the European Union and Ukraine.
At the EU-Ukraine summit, held in Kiev in December 2011, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the agreement is unlikely to be signed before the Ukrainian parliamentary elections due in October. The trial and subsequent seven-year jail term for Tymoshenko, which Europe sees as politically motivated, has also became a hurdle for signing the document.
Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years for pushing through a 2009 gas deal with Russia. Authorities in Ukraine say the deal has caused multi-billion-dollar losses to the country’s economy and deny accusations by Western powers and Russia that the trial was politically motivated.
A recent appeal hearing involving Tymoshenko was delayed due to health issues surrounding the former Ukraine Prime Minister.  European leaders have called on Ukraine to ensure that she has access to effective medical care.
“The Ukrainian authorities and the parliament have agreed that medical experts will be sent to Ukraine to treat Ms Tymoshenko,” the European Parliament said in its statement.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Just Foreign Policy News, May 23, 2012
Congress says no auth for Iran war; Iran demands sanctions relief; anti-austerity bid at ILO

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Avaaz Community Petition: Support targetted boycott of Israeli Settlement Goods
Someone in Ireland has put up a petition at Avaaz' community petition site, supporting the Irish government's threat to push for an EU boycott of settlement goods if Israel does not change its settlement policy. If you're already a member of Avaaz, signing the petition takes five seconds. Why not do so?

Would It Make a Difference to Progressives if Norman Solomon Goes to Congress?
If Norman Solomon goes to Congress, he would have a powerful national platform to oppose wars of choice, and his staff would be helping anti-war initiatives move through Congress.

Gareth Porter/Shah Nouri Evidence Mounts That Afghan Massacre Was Linked to Special Operations Forces' Response to Improvised Explosive Device
According to Afghans, the massacre had a context: threats from U.S. soldiers of retaliation against civilians if they did not cooperate with U.S. troops.

FCNL: Sen. Johnson's Landmark Statement on Iran Sanctions
Senator Tim Johnson (SD), Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, clarified that "it is not and has not been the intent of U.S. policy to harm the Iranian people" by prohibiting licensed humanitarian trade. Senator Johnson called on the administration to emphasize that law-abiding banks facilitating these humanitarian transactions will not be punished.

Muhammad Sahimi: Intervention Proponents Try to Scuttle Nuclear Talks with Iran
While it is well known that Israel is not a signatory of the NPT, it is less well known that Israeli is a member of the IAEA. When AP reporter George Jahn cites an "exclusive" revelation of a dire nature, provided by an official of a country described as an IAEA "member state," that country could be Israel.

II) Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) All members of Congress are now on the record declaring that they have not authorized the use of military force against Iran in the latest round of legislation passed in the House and the Senate, writes Kate Gould of FCNL on Common Dreams. In the House, John Conyers championed the amendment to stipulate that the NDAA contained no authorizations with a bipartisan group of representatives: Ron Paul, Keith Ellison, and Walter Jones. Senators fiercely debated the same sort of provision offered by Rand Paul clarifying that the Senate sanctions bill is not an authorization of the use of force against Iran. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman blasted this 'un-declaration' of war, insisting that it be taken out and new provisions added that emphasized the "military option." These objections blocked the bill from passage until a compromise was reached that retained Sen. Paul's language but also stated that the military option is still on the table.

2) Iran demanded that world powers improve proposals made in talks in Baghdad aimed at easing the crisis over Iran's nuclear program, saying future negotiations were at stake, AFP reports. P5+1 proposals were believed to call on Iran to suspend enrichment of uranium to 20 percent in return for incentives that fell short of meeting Iran's main demand of easing [the impending oil and banking - JFP] sanctions. The P5+1 offer reportedly included a pledge not to impose any new sanctions [beyond the oil and banking sanctions currently unfolding - JFP], easing Iranian access to aircraft parts and a possible suspension of an EU insurance ban on ships carrying Iranian oil. It also reportedly included a revival of previous attempts to get Iran to ship abroad its stockpiles of enriched uranium in return for fuel for a reactor producing medical isotopes.

3) The International Labor Organization, because it includes labor unions, is an international institution that could challenge the pro-unemployment, pro-banker policies of the European Central Bank and the IMF, writes Mark Weisbrot at the Guardian. On May 28, the ILO will choose a new director general. As head of the ILO, Jomo Kwame Sundaram of Malaysia would expose the fallacies of the labor market liberalization policies currently being touted as the solution.

4) House Republicans have claimed that automatic cuts to military spending would harm national security, so they want to cut money from food stamps and health care for the poor instead, notes Katrina vanden Heuvel at the Washington Post. But military budget experts across the political spectrum say otherwise. A recent survey found that after receiving detailed information and arguments on both sides of the issue, the average American favors cutting the military budget by 18 percent. Why do House Republicans want to sacrifice the vulnerable to save unnecessary military spending? Last year, the military industry spent $131 million lobbying Congress.

5) Amateur video of Israeli soldiers watching idly as settlers opened fire on Palestinians throwing stones has emphasized the growing power of "citizen journalism" in the occupied West Bank, Reuters reports. B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, provided the cameras used to document the event, as part of a program started in 2007 whereby it has distributed around 150 camcorders to "citizen journalists" throughout the West Bank. The group aims to use social media to bring alleged violations by settlers and the military into public view.

6) A prosecutor in Turkey has prepared indictments and recommended life sentences for four senior Israeli officers over the killing of nine activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla forcibly intercepted by Israeli commandos two years ago, the New York Times reports. Israel has consistently rejected Turkey's demand that it formally apologize for the raid and lift its blockade of Gaza.

7) Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food crisis, Oxfam says, with 10 million people – 44 percent of the population – without enough food to eat. In some parts of the country, the UN found that one in three children were severely malnourished. Some donors have justified their reluctance to respond swiftly and at the scale required by pointing to the security situation, Oxfam notes. But the work of the aid agencies shows that assistance can be delivered at scale and in a manner that is transparent and accountable, despite the difficult context, Oxfam says.

8) Prosecutors in southern Mexico announced they have captured a man suspected in the killing of independent U.S. journalist Bradley Will during protests against the Oaxaca state government in 2006, AP reports. Suspect Lenin Osorio is a former state government employee. One of the protesters was arrested in 2008 for the killing but was later released.

U.S./Top News
1) Congress 'Un-Declares' War with Iran
Kate Gould, Common Dreams, Wednesday, May 23, 2012 by

[Gould is Legislative Associate for Middle East Policy for FCNL.]

All members of Congress are now on the record declaring that they have not authorized the use of military force against Iran in the latest round of legislation passed in the House and the Senate. This unanimous 'un-declaration' of war by Congress is a crucial victory, with particular significance given its passage on the eve of the U.S.-Iran talks in Baghdad.

The House was the first chamber to 'un-declare war', with its inclusion of a proviso in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that this legislation does not authorize war with Iran. This stipulation that "nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran" is a remarkably sober note of caution and common sense in an otherwise dangerous and reckless piece of legislation. The NDAA allocates billions of dollars of weapons that could be used for an attack on Iran and requires the administration to prepare for war and dramatically escalate the U.S. militarization of the Middle East. Notably, the NDAA exceeds the limitations on Pentagon spending that Congress agreed to in the Budget Control Act by about $8 billion--much of which is allotted for the anti-Iran weaponry.

Rep. John Conyers (MI) championed this amendment to 'un-declare' war with Iran with a bipartisan group of representatives: Rep. Ron Paul (TX), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN), and Rep. Walter Jones (NC). In less than a week, Congress received more than 1,000 calls through FCNL's toll-free number from grassroots activists across the country who support this and other anti-war, pro-peace amendments that FCNL was working on. Partly as a result of your advocacy against war with Iran, the Conyers/Paul/Ellison/Jones amendment was considered so uncontroversial that it made its way into the NDAA as part of a package (called 'en bloc amendments') of non-controversial amendments, rather than going to the House floor for a separate vote.

'Un-declaration' is 'Uncontroversial' in House, Hotly Contested in the Senate

Anti-Iran provisions are routinely given this special shortcut into "must-pass legislation" like the NDAA, but legislation containing the word "Iran" that is not agitating for either military or economic warfare rarely qualifies as "uncontroversial."

In fact, on the same day that the House unanimously approved Rep. Conyers' amendment, senators fiercely debated the same sort of provision offered by Sen. Rand Paul (KY) clarifying that the Senate sanctions bill is not an authorization of the use of force against Iran. Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Joe Lieberman (CT) blasted this 'un-declaration' of war, insisting that it be taken out and new provisions added that emphasized the "military option". These objections blocked the bill from passage until a compromise was reached that retained Sen. Paul's language but also stated that the military option is still on the table.

Why an 'Un-Declaration' of War Matters

While the legislation passed in both chambers of Congress has troubling implications for U.S.-Iran relations, the fact that Congress is now on record affirming that the legislation does not authorize war is a major achievement for the campaign against another war of choice. This 'un-declaration' of war sets a historic precedent that could be used to tone down the implications of future saber-rattling legislation.

And saber-rattling legislation is very much what this is all about.

The House's orders for drones, fighter jets, rockets, machine guns for mounting on warships, and heavy artillery systems designed to 'counter the Iranian threat' would escalate brinksmanship in the Persian Gulf, pushing the United States perilously close to the edge of war.

The Senate sanctions bill doesn't help matters either. The bill will further erode the President's flexibility, both technically and politically. Negotiations require compromise from both sides, and the key concession that Iran has sought is a significant easing of the U.S. sanctions regime against the Iranian economy. The "Negotiator in Chief's" ability to lift sanctions in exchange for Iranian cooperation on its nuclear program is already severely compromised.

Congress' assertion that neither the NDAA, nor a far-reaching sanctions bill, authorize the use of military force against Iran demonstrates progress.

Any progress in cooling down Congress' all-too common infliction with Iran war fever improves the broader political climate that will play into the U.S.-Iran talks on Wednesday. Given the fragility of U.S.-Iran relations, even slight progress can make the difference between a stand-off and a war.

2) World powers, Iran haggle in crunch nuclear talks
Simon Sturdee , AFP, May 23, 2012

Baghdad - Iran demanded late Wednesday that world powers sweeten proposals made in talks in Baghdad aimed at easing the crisis over Tehran's nuclear programme, saying future negotiations were at stake. "The points of agreement are not yet sufficient for another round," an Iranian official said on condition of anonymity as the meeting in the Iraqi capital looked set to enter a second, unscheduled day on Thursday.

Earlier Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton presented a new package of proposals on behalf of the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.

The EU gave no details but they were believed to call on Iran to suspend enrichment of uranium to purities of 20 percent in return for incentives that fell short of meeting Iran's main demand of easing sanctions.

Reflecting official thinking in Tehran, state media ran reports slamming the package, with the IRNA news agency calling it "outdated, not comprehensive, and unbalanced."
Iran made a five-step counter-proposal that an official said was "based on the principles of step-by-step and reciprocity," which the ISNA news agency called "comprehensive... transparent and practical."

"We need the steps that both sides have to take to be clearly defined and there is no possibility of going back on them," the official from the Iranian delegation said. "For example, that they lift sanctions that they cannot then readopt two months later under a different pretext."
Sweeteners reportedly offered included a pledge not to impose any new sanctions, as well easing Iranian access to aircraft parts and a possible suspension of an EU insurance ban on ships carrying Iranian oil.

It also reportedly included a revival of previous attempts to get Iran to ship abroad its stockpiles of enriched uranium in return for fuel for a reactor producing medical isotopes.
Iran says that a lack of fuel plates for this reactor was the reason it started in 2010 to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent, a capability that reduces the theoretical "breakout" time needed to reach a weapons-grade 90 percent.

Iran announced on Tuesday that it was loading domestically produced, 20-percent enriched uranium fuel into the reactor, and the Iranian official in Baghdad was dismissive. "A possible swap of uranium enriched by Iran for fuel isn't very interesting for us because we are already producing our own fuel," the Iranian official said.

3) New ILO Leadership Could Push For Better Economic Policies
Poised to elect a new director general, the International Labor Organization needs to challenge the pro-austerity consensus
Mark Weisbrot, Tuesday 22 May 2012 16.58 EDT

The Troika – the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission, and the IMF – is dragging Europe into its second recession in three years. The ECB by itself has the ability to end this crisis, by guaranteeing low interest rates on the sovereign bonds of countries such as Spain and Italy. Member governments would then be able to restore normal economic growth and employment.

But the ECB refuses to do this – partly because the Troika is using the crisis as an opportunity to force changes, especially in the weaker eurozone economies, changes that the people residing there would never vote for. These reforms include shrinking government, privatization, "labor flexibility", and reduced public pensions.

Since, however, Europe has by far the largest banking system in the world, the eurozone crisis is also a significant drag on growth and employment throughout most of the world. This could easily do more damage if it is not resolved.

It is in this context that a struggle is taking place both within and between governments and international institutions over the economically and socially destructive policies in the eurozone. At the latest G8 summit in Camp David on Saturday, there were noticeable differences between Presidents Obama of the US and François Hollande of France, on the one hand, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, on the other, over the wisdom of continuing to push Europe deeper into recession through fiscal tightening (as the Troika is currently doing).

While there are signs that many IMF economists and even the leadership of the IMF are not happy with the Troika's policies, the fund is not going to break with the Europeans on its board of directors. But there is one international institution that, because its governance structure includes labor unions, is sometimes able to take a more progressive stance on these vital issues.

That is the International Labor Organization (ILO), affiliated with the United Nations. The ILO is thus differentiated from such organizations as the IMF, the World Bank, or the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) – all of which have an enormous influence which tends to reinforce the status quo, or worse.

The ILO estimates that the world has lost 50m jobs since the world economic crisis and Great Recession began – and the Troika is adding to the toll. In 2009, the ILO proposed a "global jobs pact", which picked up support from the UN and the G20, but with little result. Last year, it proposed a "social protection floor", which also won international support, but again, not much effect.

On 28 May, the ILO will choose a new director general. The frontrunner is Guy Ryder, a former general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Last November, he secured the support of the workers' group, comprising a quarter of the ILO electoral college, before his rivals were even known. There are also other candidates with regional support, such as Colombian Vice-President Angelino Garzón.

But there is one candidate who is most likely to try to harness the ILO's potential to challenge the devastating economic policies that have caused so much unnecessary unemployment and suffering in the past four years. That is Jomo Kwame Sundaram of Malaysia, the only Asian candidate.

He is the Harvard-trained chief economist at the United Nations, also responsible for its technical cooperation programs. Reputedly behind the 2009 Stiglitz Commission report (pdf) on the crisis, Jomo has shown clear understanding not only of the causes of the current economic crisis, but also of the failure of the relevant government and international institutions to bring us out of it. He would also expose the fallacies of the labor market liberalization policies currently being touted as the solution. His track record indicates that he would provide the necessary leadership at the ILO.

Although the ILO's efforts to establish international conventions to promote a "rights-based" agenda for labor can be helpful, they are ineffectual in the face of high unemployment. They are also far from sufficient to advance the cause of the billions of workers who are unemployed or facing increasing insecurity due to precarious employment, stagnating wages, and declining benefits. The prospects for increasing employment, and even wages, in the near future will depend, in large part, on the macroeconomic policies pursued by governments – especially those of the largest economies.

Until now, these have been going in the wrong direction – and the ILO needs to confront these policy failures head-on.

4) The GOP's fear-mongering on defense
Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation, May 22

House Republicans voted last week to break last summer's deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default. "We are here to meet our legal and our moral obligations to lead," Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said of the occasion, without a hint of irony.

The original debt deal required a bipartisan "supercommittee" to find [$1.2 trillion] in deficit savings, or "sequestration" would automatically be triggered - an across-the-board cut of $1.2 trillion in each party's priority: domestic programs and defense. Even under that self-imposed sword of Damocles, Congress failed to do its job, setting the cuts in motion. But House Republicans argued that the requisite cuts to defense funding would harm national security. Take the money from food stamps and health care for the poor, they cried, as they cradled the defense industry in their arms.

Never mind that the Republicans are, as Jon Stewart said, turning a "suicide pact" into a "murder pact." Is this fear-mongering warranted? Will the looming cuts to the Pentagon's budget really threaten our security?

Not according to many experts on both sides of the aisle. The nuclear policy group Global Zero released a report this month recommending a significant reduction in our nation's nuclear arms arsenal. Signatories included such liberal pacifists as former Republican senator Chuck Hagel and Gen. James E. Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and nuclear forces commander.

Republican Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), a former presidential candidate, has argued that the doubling of military spending in the past decade "should be extremely troubling for those claiming to be fiscally conservative." In 2010, Paul joined Democratic Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) to convene a Sustainable Defense Task Force, which identified $1 trillion in defense cuts over 10 years.

Earlier this year the Pentagon itself proposed slowing the growth of its budget by stretching out its purchase of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, reducing ground forces, and eliminating obsolete or troubled programs. Ending the U.S. combat role in Iraq and Afghanistan will also save $44 billion a year after 2013.

At $700 billion, annual U.S. defense spending represents 57 percent of the federal government's discretionary budget and last year accounted for 41 percent of all global military spending.

Even with the proposed cuts, U.S. military spending would still be the highest in the world by an order of magnitude. "The additional $500 billion in cuts is entirely responsible," Matthew Leatherman, an analyst with the Stimson Center, an independent public policy group, wrote recently, "even if the [sequestration] process is not."

Despite the GOP's overblown rhetoric about security, the American people haven't been fooled. In a recent survey, the Stimson Center, the Program on Public Consultation and the Center for Public Integrity found that after receiving detailed information and arguments on both sides of the issue, the average American favors cutting the defense budget by 18 percent.

In other words, the American people have, once again, proven more rational than some of their representatives.

The GOP hypocrisy on the debt is thinly veiled. With most members having pledged life and limb to anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist, they refuse to consider any revenue increases, including allowing the debt-inducing Bush tax cuts to expire. Defense spending, too, is untouchable. What does it say about their commitment to fiscal responsibility when they treat the biggest pieces of the budget pie like kryptonite?

No, Republicans prefer to put a sledgehammer to the mere 18 percent of the federal budget that funds services for the neediest Americans. Those cuts won't make a significant impact on our debt, but they would have drastic consequences for people's lives. The $60 billion the House recently voted to take from these programs would push at least 300,000 children off their health coverage and 1.8 million people off food stamps.

And for what? To protect the F-35 spending - long seen and known as a boondoggle - that will cost at least $1.5 trillion?

Why do House Speaker John Boehner and his right-wing cabal want to sacrifice our most vulnerable citizens to save such programs?

Here's a hint. Last year, the defense industry spent about $131 million lobbying Congress. It contributed almost $23 million to congressional campaigns in 2010. As David Hess, chairman of the lobbying group Aerospace Industries Association, recently boasted, "We're a pretty effective group with a very loud voice." And nothing speaks louder in Washington than cash.

At a time when working families are barely scraping by, the GOP's shameless coddling of the defense industry reveals a great deal about its priorities.

5) Citizen journalism focuses on Israeli occupation
Noah Browning, Reuters, Wed May 23, 2012, 6:16am EDT

Aseera al-Qibliya, West Bank - Amateur video of Israeli soldiers appearing to watch idly as settlers opened fire on Palestinians throwing stones has emphasized the growing power of "citizen journalism" in the occupied West Bank.

Shaky footage, captured on Saturday from two angles by residents of Aseera al-Qibliya village, shows bearded residents from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar aiming a hand gun and assault rifle at the crowd, followed by sounds of gunfire.

A bloodied youth shot in the face was shown being carried away on the shoulders of fellow villagers. The video was soon posted on the Internet.

Teacher Ibrahim Makhlouf, who filmed the incident, lives by the brush scorched in the clashes on the village's edge, beneath the gaze of the prefabricated suburbs of Yitzhar, which lie outside the official settlement boundary.

"We want the whole world to see what Israel and the settlers do to us. They steal our land and they attack us, and the world said we were the terrorists and criminals," he said. "Now we can make it clear who's the aggressor and who's attacking whom. The truth contradicts their claims about our situation."

The Israeli Defence Force has ordered an investigation and confirmed that live fire was used during the confrontation. "That said, it appears that the video in question does not reflect the incident in its entirety," it said in a statement. A spokesman for the settlers said the violence flared when they were pelted with stones as they tried to put out a scrub fire allegedly started by the Palestinians.

B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, provided the cameras used to document the event, as part of a program started in 2007 whereby it has distributed around 150 camcorders to "citizen journalists" throughout the West Bank. The group aims to use social media to bring alleged violations by settlers and the military into public view.

"The importance of our work is that we show what is being done in (Israel's) name in the West Bank by our soldiers and by organs of our government," said Sarit Michaeli, B'Tselem's spokesperson. "The media might just show one minute, but anyone who's interested can watch this whole playlist and make up their own mind," she said, referring to numerous videos showing the shootings uploaded to YouTube.
A senior Israeli officer was suspended after being filmed striking a young Danish activist in the face with the butt of his rifle during a pro-Palestinian rally last month.
Lieutenant-Colonel Shalom Eisner argued that the initial video was deliberately fragmentary and concealed the violent nature of their gathering. Other clips released subsequently showed Eisner striking other people.

Circulated among army personnel, an internal memorandum obtained by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in the wake of the Eisner affair underscored mounting concern by the Israeli leadership over the influence of video on the media narrative. "Remember it takes only 10 seconds out of hours of video footage to cause irreparable damage to the image of the soldiers, the army and the state," the memo said.
In villages and at demonstrations throughout the West Bank, cameras now accompany stones and tear gas as an increasingly permanent fixture.

"Our impact is excellent if you consider that Nabi Saleh is a village of less than 600 people," said Bilal Tamimi, an activist and wielder of a B'Tselem camera from a flashpoint area near an Israeli settlement and military base in the West Bank. "People from around the world have learned what happens here through this distinct medium," he said.

6) Turkey May Indict Israeli Generals Over Flotilla Raid
Rick Gladstone, New York Times, May 23, 2012

A prosecutor in Turkey has prepared indictments and recommended life sentences for four senior Israeli officers over the killing of nine activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla forcibly intercepted by Israeli commandos two years ago, Turkish news services reported Wednesday.

The indictments, which have not been formally approved by the Turkish judiciary, could further strain relations between Turkey and Israel, which were once close but which deteriorated badly after the flotilla raid on May 31, 2010.

Israel has consistently rejected Turkey's demand that it formally apologize for the commando raid and lift its blockade of Gaza.

Turkey's semiofficial Anatolia news agency said the prosecutor, Mehmet Akif Ekinci, had prepared a 144-page indictment package that would seek life imprisonment for Gabi Ashkenazi, the former chief of general staff for the Israel Defense Forces; Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, former commander of naval forces; Gen. Amos Yadlin, the former military intelligence chief; and Brig. Gen. Avishai Levy, the former head of air force intelligence.

7) Yemen on brink of hunger catastrophe aid agencies warn
Press Release, Oxfam International, 23 May 2012

Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food crisis, seven aid agencies said today (23 May 2012) with 10 million people – 44 percent of the population – without enough food to eat. The aid agencies warned that malnutrition rates recorded by the UN in some parts of the country were alarming, with one in three children severely malnourished.

Ministers from the UK, Saudi Arabia and other countries are set to meet at the Friends of Yemen conference in Riyadh today. The agencies - CARE, International Medical Corps, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Mercy Corps, Oxfam and Save the Children – called on those attending the meeting to scale up efforts to tackle the crisis. The UN humanitarian appeal for the country is just 43 percent funded – a $262 million shortfall.

Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's International Director, who is visiting Yemen, said: "Yemeni families are at the brink and have exhausted their ways of coping with this crisis. A quarter of the population has fallen into debt trying to feed their families. Mothers are taking their children out of school to beg on the streets to get money to survive. Donors are focused on politics and security, but failure to respond adequately to the humanitarian needs now will put more lives at risk, further entrench poverty and could undermine political transition in the country."

Yemen's political crisis last year increased hunger in the country as food and fuel prices surged. Hunger has doubled since 2009. A quarter of the hungry – some 5 million people – are in need of urgent emergency aid. In Hodeidah and Hajjah, child malnutrition rates are double the emergency level. The UN estimates that 267,000 Yemeni children are facing life threatening levels of malnutrition.

Conflict in the north and south the country is also exacerbating the crisis. Over the last two months, nearly 95,000 people have been forced to leave their homes as a result of conflicts, bringing the number of people displaced in the country to close to half a million.

Women are particularly at risk, as they generally eat last and least. Oxfam partners have reported an increase in early marriage as families marry off their daughters young in order to ease the burden of the crisis.

Jerry Farrell, Save the Children's country Director in Yemen said: "Almost half of Yemen's population now does not have enough to eat. Political instability, conflict and high prices have left families across the country going hungry. We know that children always suffer the most when food is in short supply, and unless urgent humanitarian action is taken, Yemen will be plunged into a hunger crisis of catastrophic proportions."

Some donors have justified their reluctance to respond swiftly and at the scale required by pointing to the security situation and the continued political instability in the country. However, the work of the aid agencies shows that assistance can be delivered at scale and in a manner that is transparent and accountable, despite the difficult context.

Hashem Awnallah, Islamic Relief Yemen (IRY) Country Director, said: "The hungry of Yemen cannot wait. The aid community is ready and willing to scale up in Yemen. Donors need to heed the lessons of the Horn of Africa and respond now before the crisis further deepens."

There is food in local markets in most parts of Yemen, but millions of people cannot afford to buy enough food for their families. Oxfam gave cash payments to 100,000 people in Al Hodeidah helping them to purchase food, with Save the Children running a similar programme in Sa'ada. Mercy Corps has implemented cash-for-work projects in Taiz City providing a fair wage to local people with little other means to earn income and buy food. CARE's recent livelihoods project in Haradh reached 4373 people including 1794 internally displaced persons. In addition, government programmes like the Social Welfare Fund, which provides cash payments to millions of Yemenis, could be further supported and scaled up.

8) Mexico captures suspect in 2006 slaying of US independent journalist
Associated Press, Wednesday, May 23, 4:07 PM

Oaxaca, Mexico - Prosecutors in southern Mexico announced Wednesday that they have captured a man suspected in the killing of independent U.S. journalist Bradley Will during protests against the Oaxaca state government in 2006.

Suspect Lenin Osorio is a former state government employee who allegedly shot Will as he videotaped a clash between protesters and government supporters.

Osorio had worked in the state education department, but it was unclear whether he was working there at the time of the killing of the New York man.

Osorio was apparently angered by the acts of an alliance of protest groups that blocked streets and paralyzed Oaxaca's state capital for several months in 2006, said Samuel Castellanos, a special prosecutor for the Attorney General's Office.

Will was covering the conflict for He sympathized with the protesters, one of whom was arrested in 2008 for the killing but was later released.

Osorio was captured early Wednesday. Castellanos said he apparently acted alone, and had no known ties to political or union groups. He alleged fired with a .38-caliber pistol from a distance of 43 meters (yards).

The protests started as a teachers' strike to demand higher pay but quickly ballooned into a wider movement against then-Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz, who was accused of rigging his election.

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