Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

Archive for June, 2011

The end of the Space Age

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 30, 2011

Inner space is useful. Outer space is history

HOW big is the Earth? Any encyclopedia will give you an answer: its equatorial diameter is 12,756km, or, for those who prefer to think that way, 7,926 miles. Ah, but then there is the atmosphere. Should that count? Perhaps the planet’s true diameter is actually nearer 13,000km, including all its air. But even that may no longer be an adequate measure. For the Earth now reaches farther still. The vacuum surrounding it buzzes with artificial satellites, forming a sort of technosphere beyond the atmosphere. Most of these satellites circle only a few hundred kilometres above the planet’s solid surface. Many, though, form a ring like Saturn’s at a distance of 36,000km, the place at which an object takes 24 hours to orbit the Earth and thus hovers continuously over the same point of the planet.

Viewed this way, the Earth is quite a lot larger than the traditional textbook answer. And viewed this way, the Space Age has been a roaring success. Telecommunications, weather forecasting, agriculture, forestry and even the search for minerals have all been revolutionised. So has warfare. No power can any longer mobilise its armed forces in secret. The exact location of every building on the planet can be known. And satellite-based global-positioning systems will guide a smart bomb to that location on demand. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hydro-diplomacy: a neglected opportunity for Nepal and India

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 30, 2011

Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy and David M. Malone

Existing water treaties are in India’s favour, which troubles Nepal and prevents the much needed development of hydro-projects there.

Water is currently a source of some tension between India and Nepal but could become the greatest asset to the relationship if a more confident, respectful and cooperative approach is engineered by the two governments.

India’s ever-increasing energy requirements speak to its potentially most important interest in Nepal — the latter’s largely untapped hydro-power capacity. A major part of the downstream discharge of the Ganga is contributed by flows either originating in Nepal or transiting Nepal from sources in Tibet, most notably the Kosi, Gandak and Karnali river systems. Because of the terrain, Nepal also provides the best, if not the only, option for downstream flood control and dry season augmentation. A change in course of the Kosi in 2008 caused massive flooding in Bihar (as well as in Nepal), displacing millions and occasioning much loss of life.

Early negotiations

The first recorded water resource negotiations between Nepal and India occurred between 1910 and 1920 when British India needed to harness the Sarda (Mahakali) river, which formed the western boundary between Nepal and British India, to develop irrigation in the United Province (now Uttar Pradesh). Nepal agreed to the 1920 Sarda treaty, involving an exchange of territory, but not an advantageous one for Nepal.

India enjoys most of the benefits of the Kosi and Gandak treaties (of 1954 and 1959), leading to the construction of dams primarily irrigating and protecting Indian lands. The outcome was viewed by many in Nepal as a “sell out” of their natural resources (although it was resistance in Nepal that prevented construction of larger dams that would have accrued more benefits to that country).

However, since then, the Nepalis have learned the value of their consent to India’s plans pertaining to water, and have expressed this mostly through the blocking of hydro development in Nepal that would also benefit India. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition Leader embraces multiculturalism as Dutch walk away

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 30, 2011

LAST Saturday, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott indicated at the federal Liberal Party council that he was embracing multiculturalism. Meanwhile, last week the Dutch government joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in rejecting multiculturalism.

A new Integration, Bonding and Citizenship Bill introduced by the centre-right Dutch government declares The Netherlands “steps away from the model of a multicultural society”.

The legislation halts special subsidies to ethnic groups and will allow for the revocation of visas for immigrants who refuse to learn Dutch. It even slashes welfare benefits for those whose “actual chances of obtaining employment [are] hindered by their behaviour or clothing”.

This legislation reflects concern in Europe at the social tensions arising from the presence in their midst of large unassimilated immigrant communities. The integration bill will pass the Dutch parliament with the support of Geert Wilders’s Partij voor de Vrijheid, the third largest bloc in the Dutch parliament.

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U.S. Economy In Permanent Decline, Say 39 Percent of Americans: Poll

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 30, 2011

As QE2 comes to an end Thursday, and experts try to predict what’s next for the U.S. economy, a new poll suggests a significant percentage of American thinks the economy will only continue to get worse, forever.

A New York Times/CBS News poll finds that 39 percent of respondents believe “the current economic downturn is part of a long-term permanent decline and the economy will never fully recover.”

The survey is only one of a recent spate indicating widespread distress over the state of the economy. On June 8, a CNN poll found that 48 percent of Americans believe another Great Depression is either very likely or somewhat likely.

A striking chart from the University of Michigan showed a steep decline in the number of consumers who expected their family income to rise within the next 12 months. Another survey, conducted by the company BIG Research, found similar results — in that poll, 89 percent of respondents said they don’t expect to receive a salary increase in the next year. Read the rest of this entry »

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NEPAL: The downside of urbanization

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 30, 2011

BANGKOK, 30 June 2011 (IRIN) – Rapid urbanization and the extension of the road network in some parts of Nepal are

Photo: Dana MacLean/IRIN Urbanization has increased access to processed foods

bringing chronic, non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease to formerly isolated rural communities, health experts say.

“Villagers are in a double whammy situation – they are already struggling with communicable diseases and are now burdened with chronic disease on top of it,” Jyoti Bhattarai, a leading endocrinologist at Nepal’s Diabetes Thyroid and Endocrine Centre (NDTE), told IRIN from Kathmandu.

“Non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure in Nepal are mostly due to rapid urbanization in rural areas,” he said. “In villages where they only ate vegetables, people are now eating all sorts of processed food.”

Up to 42 percent of deaths in Nepal are due to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, and by 2030 rates are expected to climb to 66.3 percent, according to the Nepal Public Health Foundation, a multi-sector health network for NGOs and the medical community.

Type 2 diabetes has been a pervasive problem nationally since 2008 when a recorded 15 percent of people over 20, and 19 percent over 40, had the disease, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), an umbrella organization of more than 200 diabetes organizations worldwide.

Child malnutrition, which affects 1.7 million children in Nepal, according to the UN Children’s Fund, makes people more prone to chronic disease later in life when they eat foods higher in sugar and fat, according to Rebecca Firestone, a social epidemiologist at the US-based China Medical Board.

“Individuals exposed to undernutrition in pregnancy and early childhood may be more susceptible to health risks later in life when in more calorie-rich environments,” Firestone explained.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Headin’ Out: NASA Aims for Jupiter, Mars and the Moon

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 29, 2011


Like pretty much every other agency in the government, NASA is likely to be hurting for money over the next few years.

The Mars rover Curiosity, photographed at its testing facility Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, California NASA / JPL-Caltech

The end of the Space Shuttle program, which comes with Atlantis’ final flight next month, will free up some cash. But at best, NASA’s budget will be flat in 2012, and given the mood in Congress, “at best” isn’t something to count on. And thanks to the cost overruns plaguing the yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, the agency’s science programs are especially vulnerable to cuts.

But that’s down the road. For now, things are positively hopping at the Kennedy Space Center. Last week, a brand-new Mars rover, named Curiosity, arrived at Cape Canaveral to be prepared for launch this coming November. But long before that — as early as August 5, if conditions are right — a new probe called Juno will be on its way to Jupiter, followed by the GRAIL mission in September, designed to study the Moon’s gravity field in unprecedented detail.(See pictures of NASA’s new Mars rover.)

Of the three, Curiosity is sure to make the biggest public splash. Ever since Sojourner, NASA’s first Mars rover, transfixed the world as it rolled around the Red Planet during the July 4th holiday in 1997, people have gone slightly mad over these adorable, self-propelled explorers — and after Spirit and Opportunity followed in 2004, the word “plucky” became a space cliche.

All three rovers did spectacular science as well, studying the mineralogy and topography of Mars in astonishing detail, and establishing beyond a doubt that water once flowed and pooled on the planet’s surface. The six-wheeled Curiosity will be about the size of a small car (think a Mini Cooper with many millions of dollars of instruments attached) compared to the golf cart-sized Spirit and Opportunity and the microwave oven-sized Sojourner. One thing Curiousity’s bulk will buy it is range — far greater than that of the other rovers, partly thanks to a nuclear power source in place of solar panels. That also means that the rover won’t have to slow down during the relatively dim Martian winter or worry about dust cutting down on the panels’ efficiency at any time of year.(See pictures of the rovers’ five-year history.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Kate Middleton and Prince William’s Canada visit celebrated with Royal Wedding stamps –

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 28, 2011



Kate Middleton and Prince William’s forthcoming royal visit to Canada has been commemorated with the issue of a special stamp.

The stamp features a photo of the newlyweds in their open landau as they travel from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace following their wedding service as Kate waves to the crowds.

At the side of the stamp are the French words – Vive Les Maries! – which translates into ‘Long live the married’.

Kate Middleton and Prince William’s Canada visit celebrated with Royal Wedding stamps –

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The Gurkhas

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 28, 2011

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Gaddafi Arrest Warrant Issued By International Criminal Court

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 28, 2011

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — International judges ordered the arrest of Moammar Gadhafi on Monday for murdering civilians, as NATO warplanes pounded his Tripoli compound and world leaders stepped up calls for the Libyan leader to end his four-decade rule.

The International Criminal Court said Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi are wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple Gadhafi from power, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes.

The warrants from the court in The Hague turn the three men into internationally wanted suspects, potentially complicating efforts to mediate an end to more than four months of intense fighting in the North African nation. The warrants will be sent to Libya, where Gadhafi remained defiantly entrenched.

Presiding judge Sanji Monageng of Botswana called Gadhafi the “undisputed leader of Libya” who had “absolute, ultimate and unquestioned control” over his country’s military and security forces. She said there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that Gadhafi and his son are both responsible for the murder and persecution of civilians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iran Underground Missile Silos Unveiled

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 28, 2011


TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Monday unveiled underground missile silos for the first time as it kicked off 10 days of large-scale war games, the country’s latest show of military force amid a standoff with the West over its disputed nuclear program.

State TV broadcast footage of deep underground silos, claiming that medium- and long-range missiles stored in them are ready to launch in case of an attack on Iran. The sites are widely viewed as a strategic asset for Iran to launch a strike in the event of a U.S. or Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities.

Col. Asghar Qelichkhani, a spokesman for the war games, said the silos “function as a swift-reaction unit.”

“Missiles, which are permanently in the vertical position, are ready to hit the pre-determined targets,” he was quoted as saying by state TV.

An officer in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, which is in charge of the missile program, said Tehran has constructed “numerous” underground missile silos which satellites can’t detect. He did not elaborate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dalai Lama To Host Washington D.C. Peace Festival In July

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 28, 2011

By Jack Jenkins
c. 2011 Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Dalai Lama will visit Washington next month for an 11-day peace rally that is being billed as “the largest gathering for world peace in history.”

The July 6-16 “Kalachakra for World Peace” aims to “amplify the profound, unshakable commitment of (the Dalai Lama) to values such as love, compassion, wisdom and interfaith harmony,” according to publicity materials.

The first day of the event will mark the Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday.

Event activities include dancing, chanting of prayers and teachings by the Dalai Lama on Tibetan Buddhist principles. Like other events hosted by the Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks will create a colorful and detailed sand mandala, or mural, that will be swept away to illustrate the impermanence of life.

A Kalachakra is an ancient Buddhist ceremony that is “capable of creating … peace of spirit and therefore peace in the world,” according to organizers at the Capital Area Tibetan Association, which is hosting the event. Read the rest of this entry »

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Govt is trying to silence me, says Baba Ramdev

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 27, 2011


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Pride of Britain 2011: Carol Vorderman launches nominations appeal for unsung heroes and heroines –

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 27, 2011

STEPPING away from the cameras, Carol Vorderman finally let the tears flow.



Every year she fights a losing battle to stop the overwhelming emotion of the nation’s biggest awards show from affecting her.

Last year the tears came after standing alongside PC David Rathband, the police officer who has heroically rebuilt his life after being shot in the face and blinded by fugitive gunman Raoul Moat.

And they came again when she was joined on stage by brave, dignified Battle of Britain veterans.

Carol, who is launching the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards 2011 nominations appeal, in partnership with, on ITV1’s Daybreak today, says: “I went a couple of times at last year’s show.

“Each year I try not to cry until I am alone in my dressing room. But PC Rathband’s astonishing courage, selflessness and humour took my breath away.

“To see Prince Charles hold his hand was incredible, as was seeing the Duchess of Cornwall’s eyes fill up as she heard the stories behind the awards.

Pride of Britain 2011: Carol Vorderman launches nominations appeal for unsung heroes and heroines –

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Libya Clashes Escalate But a Diplomatic Compromise Looms

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 27, 2011

Posted by 

As NATO’s war in Libya entered its 100th day on Monday, an end to the conflict may be in sight — but not necessarily a decisive one. Military and diplomatic signs point increasingly towards some measure of compromise by both sides in shaping an outcome that neither the regime nor the rebels would have countenanced when their struggle began. Rebel forces who have been consolidating their hold on villages in mountains to the West of Tripoli launched a furious assault Sunday on the approaches to the capital, but were repelled by forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The regime appears unable for the foreseeable future to restore control over those — slowly growing — parts of the country where rebel forces have broken Gaddafi’s iron grip, yet the rebels and their NATO backers so far appear unable to deal the regime’s forces a knockout blow. And while the rebel forces may be growing in confidence, the commitment of the Western allies that have enabled rebel advances is clearly finite.

The intensification of fighting so close to the capital suggests that both sides may be aware that the clock is ticking down towards what may be an inevitable negotiated solution, and are doing their best to shape it to their advantage. Recent comments by British military commanders and Defense Secretary Robert Gates underscore the sense that the European NATO members responsible for the air war will be hard-pressed to continue the campaign much beyond the current summer, and diplomatic support for the military intervention is ebbing fast: Italy last week called for a suspension of hostilities, although that suggestion was quickly squelched by NATO partners; the African Union, China, Russia and the Arab League have begun to retract their endorsement of a military campaign they authorized to protect Libyan civilians, but which has morphed unmistakably into a regime-change operation. And President Obama is under fire from both sides of the aisle over U.S. involvement in the campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roundup: Birth Defects Caused By World’s Top-Selling Weedkiller, Scientists Say

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 27, 2011

By Lucia Graves

WASHINGTON — The chemical at the heart of the planet’s most widely used herbicide — Roundup weedkiller, used in farms and gardens across the U.S. — is coming under more intense scrutiny following the release of a new report calling for a heightened regulatory response around its use.

Critics have argued for decades that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides used around the globe, poses a serious threat to public health. Industry regulators, however, appear to have consistently overlooked their concerns.

A comprehensive review of existing data released this month by Earth Open Source, an organization that uses open-source collaboration to advance sustainable food production, suggests that industry regulators in Europe have known for years that glyphosate, originally introduced by American agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto in 1976, causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals.

Founded in 2009, Earth Open Source is a non-profit organization incorporated in the U.K. but international in scope. Its three directors, specializing in businesstechnology and genetic engineering, work pro-bono along with a handful of young volunteers. Partnering with half a dozen international scientists and researchers, the group drew its conclusions in part from studies conducted in a number of locations, including ArgentinaBrazilFrance and the United States.

Earth Open Source’s study is only the latest report to question the safety of glyphosate, which is the top-ranked herbicide used in the United States. Exact figures are hard to come by because the U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped updating its pesticide use database in 2008. The EPA estimates that the agricultural market used 180 to 185 million pounds of glyphosate between 2006 and 2007, while the non-agricultural market used 8 to 11 million pounds between 2005 and 2007, according to its Pesticide Industry Sales & Usage Report for 2006-2007 published in February, 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

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