Saturday, October 9, 2010

Updates (Oct 10, 2010)

1) Linky

Chaibasa police today apprehended a senior Maoist leader, Nalla Bhikshapati, said to be an expert in handling explosives, with the IG (operation) describing the arrest as a follow-up of the recent high-intensity operations in the forests of Saranda. According to the police, explosives and a camera were recovered from his possession. Known variously as Madhavji, Subhashji and Raviji, Bhikshapati was a member of the Central Technical Committee of CPI (Maoist) and was well-known among cadres for his ability to handle explosives. Bhikshapati also trained cadres and had been based in Jharkhand for the last two years, making the dense forests of Saranda, Latehar and Parasnath his domains. Sources said the rebel joined the Maoist fold in 1991. He had been arrested earlier and spent considerable time in Hyderabad jail. According to IG (operations) and police spokesman R.K. Mallick, Bhikshapati is a resident of Tatikaila village under Dharma Sagar police station in Warrangal district of Andhra Pradesh.

Before shifting to Jharkhand he worked for the rebel outfit in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, apart from Andhra Pradesh. Mallick said 25 gelatin sticks, 10 detonators, two boosters and flash camera were recovered from him. “Nalla Bhikshpati’s arrest is an outcome of our follow-up actions after the Saranda operations. He is a prize catch,” the senior police officer said, refusing to reveal where and when the arrest took place. The CRPF and state police had jointly carried out anti-naxalite operation in Saranda forest in late September. The forces had destroyed several Maoist camps during the operations which left several rebels dead. Forces engaged in anti-naxalite operations have achieved remarkable success in their mission. However, police officers said the on-going operation is a ‘virtual war’.

Meanwhile, SATP reports

IBN Live reports on October 8 that the Government has approved in principle the creation of an agency similar to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for developing road infrastructure in Naxal [Left Wing Extremism]-affected States. BRO is an organisation under the Defence Ministry tasked to build roads in the border areas for allowing swift movement of men and machinery there.

Meanwhile, four months after the decision to set up Unified Commands in four Naxal-affected States, the proposal is yet to take off even though the Union Government has provided a panel of retired Major Generals to head these. Sources said the Defence Ministry had furnished a list of retired Major Generals to the Home Ministry which has forwarded it to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. The States are, however, yet to take any action on this.

2) PhD stipend increase

The HRD ministry has increased PhD scholarships with effect from April this year in a move aimed at encouraging more students to take up research. Students pursuing PhD under the new regulations in research institutes and universities will get Rs 16,000 a month for the first two years, up from Rs 12,000. For the next three years, they will get Rs 18,000 per month, an increase from Rs 14,000, according to a notification. But the hike comes with a rider — for the first time, grant of fellowships will be linked to performance.

3) Talks with ULFA Linky

The Sonitpur District and Sessions Court today granted the bail of ULFA ideologue and adviser Bhimkanta Buragohain alias mama. The bail petition was pending till yesterday owing to objection shown by the Assam Government. Counsel for the Ulfa ideologue, Dulumoni Sinha, said Buragohain would be released from Tezpur jail after submission of two bail bonds of Rs 25,000 each. “However, Buragohain is likely to be released from jail only after the Puja vacations, as there is a strike by judicial employees from tomorrow,” said Sinha.

The Ulfa ideologue has been lodged in Tezpur jail, barring a few days in Guwahati central jail, since December 2003. He was apprehended by the Royal Bhutan army during Operation All Clear in Bhutan in December 2003 and handed over to the Indian army later that month.

4) Bangladesh RMG sector Linky

Bangladesh is enjoying the benefits of the EU decision to withdraw zero-tariff from Sri Lanka, among other factors now boosting garment exports. Sri Lanka was supposed to enjoy the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status from the European Union, but it was withdrawn for the country's poor human rights record after its crushing of Tamil resistance. The EU intends to make the formal move at the end of this month. The GSP+ status gives 16 poor nations preferential access to the EU in return for strict commitments on a wide variety of social and rights issues.

Exports of readymade garments (RMG) blew past the state's target in the first two months of the current fiscal year, according to the latest data from the state-owned Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). Bangladesh exported knitwear worth $1.6 billion against the $1.21 billion target in July and August, 31 percent up over the same period a year earlier. During the same period, the country exported woven garments worth $1.31 billion against a target of $1.12 billion, up 17 percent from last year.

Ahsan Kabir Khan, managing director of Interfab Shirt Manufacturing Ltd, cited two reasons for the strong orders coming to Bangladesh, including recovery from the global recession. "In the last year, buyers followed a conservative strategy in purchasing RMG products, and this year the actual business is returning," Khan said. Second is the ongoing shift of orders from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China to Bangladesh, he added. Orders, which were supposed to go to Sri Lanka, are now coming to Bangladesh, he said. China has been suffering from shortages of low-wage workers, and Pakistan has faced widespread flooding, Khan said. Part of the rise reflects the competitive level of RMG here. "We're now taking shipments against orders which were placed earlier. This might be a cause for exceeding the target," said a Spanish buyer requesting anonymity. But it is also true that many more international buyers are now placing orders in Bangladesh for its cheap prices, he added.

5) GNLA surrender Linky

The Garo National Liberation Army, a rebel group operating in Meghalaya, suffered a major setback when one its key leaders surrendered with a huge cache of arms and ammunition, a police official said on Friday. Mansrang M Sangma, founder member of GNLA, surrendered on Oct 6 before Sylvester Nongtynger, police chief of East Garo Hills district, in the wake of the ongoing combing operation code-named 'Operation Durama'. "It is a major setback for the GNLA and we are expecting more rebels to surrender," Nongtynger told IANS.

6) Glacier melting in China Linky

The average area of glaciers in western China might shrink by 27.2% by 2050 because of global warming, damaging crop production and worsening droughts, according to a report released at the UN climate talks in north China's Tianjin Municipality. The "Climate Changes and Poverty - Case Study in China" report was jointly released by organizations including the Institute of Environment and Social and Sustainable Development in Agriculture with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Xinhua quoted the report as saying that forecasts of glacier recession patterns, summer temperatures and precipitation showed that the average glacier area in western China might be reduced by 27.2% by 2050. Ocean glaciers, affected by wet airflow from the oceans, would shrink by 52.5%, and Asian continental glaciers, formed in the continental climate would shrink by 24.4%. The report warned that glacier shrinkage would also threaten China's agriculture sector and further stated that overall crop production capacity would drop by 5 to 10% by 2030 due to global warming, especially in wheat, rice and corn, and the impact would worsen after 2050.

7) The following is on the art of mathematical deception, little else needs to be said, but a plug could do Linky

Podcast: Proof and Consequences
Fake numbers are everywhere. Al Gore avoided inconvenient data in An Inconvenient Truth, and a made-up a number started the anti-Communist "red scare" in the 1950s. Quaker Oats uses fake numbers to “prove” that a few oatmeal breakfasts will lower your cholesterol, and Louis Farrakhan “proved” his Million Man March was a million strong. We may consider ourselves clever consumers of oatmeal and information, but just how well do we tell the difference between sound mathematics and deceptive data? Host Steven Cherry talks with author Charles Seife about his new book, Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception.

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