Thursday, 21 Aug 2014
Opinion & Analysis
Good Governance for Economic Growth and Development in Nepal Himalaya



The official bilateral visit after 17 years of gap by the Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi and, especially, his address to the Nepalese parliament has further brought into discussions, debates and discourses in Nepalese politics/societies from smaller teashops to the bigger institutions whether Nepal has to promptly realize the importance of economic growth and development and act accordingly or cluster to the political turn-over for shorter position and power. No doubt does the 2-Day Modi Visit to Nepal make a clear message that this is the time to make economic and development revolution for Nepal with the existing resources available within-no more application or mimicry of any kind of development model; be them Western or Latin American or Chinese or Indian or any kind; rather the Home-made model of Nepal Himalaya itself for its economic growth and development, basically strengthening hydro and tourism as the engine of the modern economy. However, there seem blurred visibility of economic growth and development in developing/least developed countries like Nepal unless ‘good governance’ is practiced, and thereby creating an environment for domestic investment, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), trade and Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) in boosting economic activities in Nepal Himalaya.

With the end of WW II, there emerges an international assistance system to assist developing nations based on the agreement made in Breton Woods conference in 1944 which further led to a Washington Consensus in late 70s (Williamson, 1990). Marshal Plan as the first and foremost foreign aid has made a remarkable success in building infrastructures in Europe. With this, a number of multi/bilateral donor agencies have made greater ODA transfer in various forms to developing nations in Africa and Asia. Most of them seem to have massive failures. However, the success stories of Mini Dragons (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) have developed newer insight- that is good governance put in priority can play major role for economic growth and development in developing/least developed countries. As a matter of fact, this is to cite that good governance as the primary concern for structural adjustment program in 80s has been largely carried in disbursing aid to developing nations (Sachs, 2005).

Looking at the situation of economic growth and development in South Korea and Taiwan, some scholars state that both of these countries have gone through authoritarian regime for longer period of time (Fritz and Rocha Menocal, 2007:536). If this is to check more minutely to the circumstances of these countries, good governance can be traced in matters like rule of law, foreign direct investment, minimal corruption and developmental ethics in most of the regimes after 1950s. Late President Park, for an instance, has had coup for political power and seems to be authoritarian in the eyes of the people; however all his activities after the presidential election looks as if he has tried his best to maintain rule of law, minimal corruption and environment for re/investment for economic activities. This is amazing that GDP of South Korea has dramatically increased up to 8-10% even in his successor s authoritarian regime. It shows that good governance is not always obtained in democratic practices. Sometimes, even autocratic and authoritarian regimes maintain good governance with the commitment and good leadership to economic growth and development.

Similarly, there are a number of countries like Chile, Cuba, Costa Rica, Brazil and Argentina in Latin America which have gone through communist, socialist and democratic regimes later in the years. However, all of them have maintained good governance to the fruition of economic growth and development. The environment for domestic investment, FDI, trade and ODA disbursement in the presence of consensus, rule of law, less corruption history and conflicts within or outside. As a matter of fact, all of these countries have turned to be upper-middle income countries which once had agrarian economy. The other corner of the globe China, India, Vietnam and Bangladesh have the same stories to tell where the state has played the greatest role for development (Evans, 1995). All of them have in one way or the other undergone communist, socialist and democratic system; however all of them have massively maintained rule of law, less corruption, inter/ intra conflicts among political parties, leadership and commitment for economic growth and development.

The major concern is of Africa where massive foreign aid has been a failure, rather promoting corruption in the country (Moyo, 2009). Moreover, nepotism and despotism in the bureaucracy, unfair election, minimal rule of law, massive inter/ intra conflicts, poor leadership and lack of commitment in the leaders which have resulted poor economic activities and development in the continent. Looking at this situation, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and other Official Economic Cooperation Development and Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) have asked the continent good governance as the pre-condition for their support. The structural adjustment program in 1980s is not other than the multiple failures of ODA in the continent; however it could not pave its way out (Fritz and Rocha Menocal, 2007: 540). In this line, this is not bad to assume that aid is no more working in Africa; instead fair trade can be apt in boosting the economies of these countries (Moyo, 2009) However, a couple of countries like Ghana, Botswana, Uganda and Mozambique are making significant progress in the midst of confusions and frustrations. This is not other than good leadership, commitment, rule of law, consensus among political parties and people and fair elections.

Sandwiched between China and India, Nepal Himalaya is away from infrastructures of development, lack of democratic practices, leading to lack of economic growth and development. Traditional agriculture, geographical complexities, and a complex portion of non/ethnic communities have got higher percentage of im/migration to plains and overseas for their economic activities (Sharma, 1997). Till the date most of the people still hang down the South, mostly India, Middle East and Europe in pursuit of employment and other economic activities. As a result, the communities have long been practicing poor governance, traditional/indigenous knowledge, cultural values and social mores in operating their everyday life which cannot create an environment for domestic investment, FDI, ODA in boosting the economies of the country in the present context.

Flashed back, the earliest form of Rana Regime has absolutely nothing to do with the people and the state itself. Personal capital accumulation, high corruption rate, luxurious life styles, shift of power from one to the other in their circles, no sense of promoting any kind of infrastructures, and discouragement in investment and economic growth. From any of the angles, the time was not in favor of the public that founded the worst life in terms of democracy, human rights and economic prosperity (Joshi and Rose, 1966:551). The first and the foremost rhetoric was that they were unlikely to promote democratic values and infrastructures of development, primarily education. A few schools were opened for their children, not for the public, thinking that it could be the major factor to overturn their regime in the long run. As a matter of fact, they carried out the basic tools like oppression, suppression and even bloodsheds in times of needs so as to make the societies live with no more voices for human rights, economic growth and development.

All the way down to Monarchial regime, government policies during the period including school education, for an instance, have promoted nation and nationalism as parameters of civilization development while other oppressed and suppressed were regarded minimal, submissive and primitive by nature (Hachhethu, 1990:178). Development programs largely subdued by so-called elites have stigmatized the disadvantaged and unwanted nationals in a number of ways. Moreover, the regional and local development projects, plans and policies of the nationals made have further displaced them and fostered greater disparity in Nepalese society. Besides, marginalized groups have not been encouraged in bringing them to mainstream economic activities.

After the success of People’s Mass Movement I (1990), the politics-led plans and policies, development practices and approaches of the past have marginalized indigenous and tribal groups. The first Eight five –year- plan (1992–97) developed by democratic government elected through popular elections following the restoration of democracy in 1990 could not officially acknowledge the existence of suppressed portion of humanity until 1997 (Srivastava, 2008:5). Therefore, the plans and projects brought into practice before were very impractical and unscientific to these groups. The Nepal government initiated plan for the ethnic groups only in the Ninth Plan (1997-2002) even if the plan got introduced in 1956 for the first time in Nepal (Srivastava, 2008:8). It is obvious that the plan made lacked quantitative and qualitative targets as per thought. Similarly, the four-pillar poverty reduction strategy, social inclusion and good governance are the targets made in the Tenth Plan 2002-07 (Srivastava, 2008:10). But because of civil unrest between the government and the Maoists initiating in 1996, the royal takeover in 2005, instable governments time and again, there appears no more improvement as expected in socio-economic, political and developmental phenomena in the country.

Even if democracy was restored in 1990, the constitution got failed in drafting absolute constitution and thereby respecting the identity of ethnic nationals, marginalized groups of people, women, children and Madhesi people at large. In the name of addressing the rights of these people, Maoists seem to have had insurgency for ten years, demanding newer constitution which could truly be the inclusion of those displaced and disadvantaged portion of the people by the state. This insight has further led to a decade long Maoists insurgency in the country and finally making people involved in People’s Mass Movement (PMM) II (2006) for Federal Democratic Country along with eliminating all the structures of Monarchial regime in the country and thereby establishing people’s regime forever. However, Ethnic and Madhes Uprisings in restructuring the state have further led to failure of the first round of Constitution Assembly (CA) a couple of years back ( Hachhethu, 2007).

What has been seen is that mostly African and Asian developing/underdeveloped countries with multi/bilateral foreign aid in the form of cash have further pushed them back in terms of economic growth and development. The emerging writer/economist Dambisa Moyo in her book (Dead Aid: 2009) writes aid is no more working in Africa, rather it has created dependency on the donors, whereas professor/economist William Easterly opines in his book (The White Man’s Burden: 2006) that these people are to be taught how to fish rather than providing them the fishing nets . In the same line the latest bilateral aid 1 billion dollar cash by Indian government is unlikely to do good for hydro and infrastructural development in the present context of Nepal where nepotism and despotism, unfair election, lack of leadership quality, lack of commitment in leaders, lack of rule of law, instable governments time and again, and inter/intra conflicts among major political parties are rampant.

Examining the situation Nepal has gone through, this is more likely to cite that ‘good governance’ has massively lacked all the way down in promoting investment, trade, FDI and the utilization of foreign multi/bilateral aid, whether it is non/concessional, in the form of cash. This scenario, if continues further, is likely to push Nepal years and years back in matters of economic growth and infrastructural development. The authoritarian or democratic regimes Nepal has made through have failed in creating an environment for re/investment, trade, use of foreign aid, and the proper utilization of existing natural resources, primarily water, medicinal herbs and all the elements of tourism. This is not other than ‘poor governance’ from the inception to all the way now and that projects the country is on the way to the verge of failure and thereby minimal economic growth and development in Nepal Himalaya.

The author can be reached at bojindratu@gmail.com

An Outsider s View of How to Calm Middle East-Gaza Tension


The Hamas arsenal of rockets keeps on coming as the Israeli military continues its offensive by hitting the Gaza Strip with its artillery fire and air strikes. It may soon try tactical incursions. Even if this strategy ends the current crisis, it will most likely prove futile in preventing any future attacks. After all, Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years. Meanwhile, the escalation of hostilities and violence is bound to further raise decade's old tensions. Result: Hopes for lasting peace pushed even farther into the future.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that the Israeli military is hitting Hamas "with growing force," and he guesses there is no end in sight. He told his ministers: "We do not know when this operation will end." Yet the mounting misery could end quickly and age-old tensions could be rapidly reduced if PM Netanyahu added a proven, advanced military technology to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) arsenal. Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) is a scientifically validated approach. Extensive in-field military experience, coupled with peer-reviewed research shows that IDT can effectively, efficiently, and quickly end the current turmoil, and eliminate the rising spiral of violence. If the IDF quickly deploys this statistically-verified approach it will not be necessary to base Israeli defense operations on guesswork or to risk the lives of Israeli and Arab citizens.
This IDT approach to reducing stress and violence has been field-tested by foreign militaries. It is validated by 23 peer-reviewed studies carried out in both developed and developing nations. They include the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Independent scientists and scholars endorse it, based on 25 years of research.
IDT uniquely neutralizes the power base of insurgent groups, which is the stress, frustration and civil unrest prevailing in the general population. By eliminating the root cause of insurgency, violent outbreaks are pre-empted and prevented. IDT is effective because it gets to the heart of the matter. Insurgency often thrives in nations in which decades or even centuries of under-employment, poverty, and hunger have created a huge societal weight of stress, frustration and unhappiness. This leads to civil unrest, social violence, and a downward spiral of economic degradation.
A specially trained military unit called a Prevention Wing of the Military uses IDT to reduce stress in the national collective consciousness. As the stress and frustration ease, the population is more capable of finding orderly and constructive solutions to their problems. Entrepreneurship and individual creativity increase. With increased intelligence, people's aspirations are raised and a more productive and balanced society emerges. Such a society abhors violence as a means for change or as an expression of discontent. And so the ground for terrorism is eliminated.
What is more fascinating is that this change takes place within a few days or weeks after IDT is introduced. The changes are measurable from such statistics as crime rates, accidents, hospital admissions, infant mortality, etc.
The IDT soldier's daily routine includes the practice of the Transcendental Meditation program and its advanced TM-Sidhi program. As a societal coherence-creating military unit, they practice these programs twice a day, seven days a week, preferably in a secure location near the targeted population. Their presence and deep-field influence operation need not be disclosed to achieve the effect of violence reduction and conflict resolution.
Such coherence-creating groups have achieved positive benefits to society, shown statistically, in even just 48 hours. Modern statistical methods used in this research preclude chance or coincidence. The IDT approach has been used during wartime, resulting in reduction of fighting and in number of deaths and casualties, and in progress toward resolving the conflict peacefully.
Societies applying IDT perform extremely well in a very short time. This is what decreased the intensity of war in Lebanon in 1984 in a dramatic way in 48 hours, to name only one of the successful experiments. In 1992, the Mozambique military carefully analyzed the IDT research and decided to try it. As predicted, violence disappeared by 1993 and Mozambique become more self-sufficient. The economic growth reached 19%. Once the poorest world country in 1992, by 2000, it had moved up to be the world's fastest-growing economy.
In summary, IDT works by deploying human resources, and utilizing the human brain mechanics, the most powerful natural resource possessed by every nation on earth. The positive transformational effects of IDT have been statistically proven numerous times to decrease and prevent violence and terrorism, and boost the economy. This defense technology supersedes all other known defense technologies (which are based on electronic, chemical, and/or nuclear forces). The military that deploys this powerful human-resource-based technology disallows negative trends and prevents enemies from arising, and as a result, it has no enemies. No enemies mean no terrorism and no insurgency.
If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders his military to establish Prevention Wings of the Military, it will ease high tensions, reverse centuries of mistrust and hatred and permanently prevent future unrest. Extensive scientific research objectively says, "Yes, the approach works." Why not use it in Israel? Time is running out. The best time to act is now before the situation worsens.

About the author:

Dr. David Leffler, Executive Director at the Center for Advanced Military Science, is the author of "A New Role for the Military: Preventing Enemies from Arising - Reviving an Ancient Approach to Peace." He is on Twitter.

Eye on the Sun Koshi Landslide: Monitoring and Infrastructure Planning Key to Minimizing Scale of Disasters

In the early hours of 2 August 2014, a landslide occurred above Jure village, about 1.4 km upstream from the Sun Koshi Hydropower project’s intake site. In an instant, a 1.9 km long slope of land perched 1,350 m above the river bed collapsed, burying two dozen houses, taking the lives of at least thirty-three people, and injuring many more. Over 150 people are still missing.
The massive landslide created a high dam across the Sun Koshi River. A river gauging station of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) at Pachuwarghat downstream of the landslide dam showed a rapid decline in water flow three hours after the landslide, after which the flow of water completely stopped for approximately 12 hours (Figure 1). An inflow of about 160 m3/sec of water quickly created a large lake behind the dam. Within 13 hours the newly formed lake – which rapidly grew to a volume of an estimated 7 million cubic metres – extended about 3 km upstream, completely submerging the 2.6 MW Sanima Hydropower station. Had Nepal’s security forces not taken timely action to release some of the stored water through controlled explosions, the backwater would have extended further upstream and caused great damage in Barabise, the nearest upstream town. However, the risk that the dam will breach still remains, bringing with it the threat of a catastrophic flood. The Home Ministry has declared the area a ‘flood crisis zone’, and has issued a warning to communities downstream, with many vulnerable villages being evacuated.
It cannot be predicted when and how the landslide dam will erode and how the stored water will be released. However, it is probable that the Arniko Highway, a major trade link between China and Nepal with exchange that stands at nearly at NPR 38 million per day (nearly USD 400,000), will remain blocked for a long time. This could mean serious medium-term impacts for Nepal. Damage from the landslide has already interrupted power supply from several hydropower plants in the valley, including the Sun Koshi and Bhote Koshi power plants, contributing to the country’s scheduled power cuts.
Monitoring Hazards to Prevent Disasters
This is not the first time the Sun Koshi valley has experienced a lethal flood, and this is certainly not the last time. Like many places around the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, the Sun Koshi’s weak geological formation and steep topography combined with frequent intense rainfall events and the increasing impact of climate change makes it prone to different types of water-induced hazards, including landslides. The valley is also vulnerable to the outburst of growing glacial lakes located in the northern part of the catchment in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. In 1981, the Zhangzangbo glacial lake located 20 km upstream from the Nepal-China border breached; the resulting flood caused extensive damage in Nepal from the border down to the village of Dolalghat.
Although we cannot control natural hazards like landslides and floods, there are many things that can be done to minimize their adverse impact on lives, livelihoods, and valuable infrastructure. More efforts to map landslide risks are needed, and much more frequent monitoring of potential landslide sites is necessary. Both will help in designing mitigation measures and reducing risks. In hindsight, photo documentation from 2013 shows a number of scars along the mountain slope in Jure. If there had been an appropriate monitoring mechanism in place, measures could have been taken to raise awareness about the potential of a larger land slip. While the exact timing and size of landslides are difficult to predict, potential landslide areas can be mapped relatively accurately and the approximate size of the potential landslide can be calculated.
Over the last 30 years, the Sun Koshi valley has experienced three major floods. In 1982, a landslide dam outburst flood (LDOF) in the Balephi River, a tributary of the Sun Koshi, killed 97 people. Another flash flood event in 1987 killed 98 people, and a 1996 flood swept away Larcha village, killing 54 people.
Landslides and other natural disasters are also common outside of the Sun Koshi valley. Nepal alone experienced 13 large landslide events between 1967 and 2010, the most recent being the 2010 Madi landslide in Central Nepal. Recent natural disasters across the rest of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region include the Swat valley flash flood and Attabad landslide disaster in Pakistan in 2010, the disastrous 2012 Seti flash flood in Nepal, the Uttarakhand disaster in July 2013, and the landslide in Badakhshan, Afghanistan in May this year.
Knowledge and information from past disasters can also support disaster risk management. Regular monitoring of hydrological and meteorological variables generates valuable information that can be fed into hydrological models. These models can be used to provide information about areas at risk of inundation during a flood event, including for potential glacial lake outburst floods. This type of analysis can be used in zoning river corridors and preparing land use plans.
Putting Planning into Practice
While zoning and land use planning are essential elements of risk management, if they are not properly implemented, these efforts are futile. Despite an entire village being washed away by the 1996 Larcha flood, a village has been resettled in the exact same location. With these settlements constructed along the flood plain, many households remain at risk of being destroyed in future floods. Even commercial enterprises are taking calculated risks, with a mini-hydropower project now constructed in Larcha. In areas with significant commercial activity like Khadichaur, the construction of settlements along the flood plain has increased in the past decade.
Across the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, improper or insufficient planning of infrastructure and settlements has put unnecessary lives and investments in harm’s way. It is believed that unregulated and haphazard development is partially to blame for the severity of the 2013 Uttarakhand disaster. During such events infrastructure may also create additional risks, for example when stored water is released from hydropower reservoirs into already full river channels.
Experience from the 1981 GLOF event in the Sun Koshi valley has shown the value of proper planning. Following the 1981 flood, more than USD 3 million was spent to rehabilitate the Arniko Highway. During this process, the 27 km stretch of road damaged by the flood was raised 20-30 m above its previous position, and the three destroyed bridges were replaced with arc structures, both of which reduced the potential losses of infrastructure during future floods.
Enhancing Cooperation to Reduce Risk
Because of the transboundary nature of rivers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, events of a large magnitude often impact more than one country. The Government of Nepal has informed the Government of India about the potential threat of flooding should there be a sudden outburst of the temporary lake formed behind the landslide dam. Recognizing the risk for communities downstream, all of the gates of the Sapta Koshi barrage, which is under the control of the Government of Bihar, were opened. The Bihar government has sounded a flood alert in eight districts and have begun the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people living along the Koshi embankment in India.
The governments of China and India have already offered technical support to the Government of Nepal in its response to the Sun Koshi event. China has good experience in managing mountain hazards, including a landslide following the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake that blocked a valley. Their technical expertise would prove invaluable in managing the massive landslide in the Sun Koshi valley. However, this cooperation should be extended beyond this particular event to long-term transboundary collaboration in managing risks, including in regular monitoring and assessment of potential risks and the implementation of early warning systems.
The scale of the Sun Koshi landslide is beyond the capacity of local communities to manage alone. However, national governments must promote the central role of communities in landslide risk management, including preparedness, adaptation, and mitigation. This is especially true in remote areas where limited access can delay the national disaster response efforts.
Consultation with local communities and the use of indigenous knowledge is crucial, particularly in the case of landslides. Use of indigenous knowledge in scientific and technical risk assessments can strengthen the resilience of communities, help communities take decisions informed by their own knowledge, and, when combined with scientific data, correct their own misperceptions about potential risks. This will help communities translate risk perceptions into enhanced preparedness for landslides and other hazards.

A team of ICIMOD experts is visiting the site on 5 August 2014 and this report will be updated as we learn more.

Bangla Nobel peace laureate wants Burma in SAARC


The emerging democracy after decades of military dictatorship in Southeast Asia, finds an unusual well wisher in Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who advocates for Burma’s entry into the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The first and only Nobel awardee from Bangladesh, who created the world famous financial institution called Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, proposes Burma (now known as Myanmar) to get inside SAARC that comprises seven member-countries namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Pakistan.
During a recent meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, also a Nobel laureate at her residence in Rangoon, Professor Yunus revealed about it. The legendary economist, who is presently preaching about social business across the globe, also urged the National League of Democracy (NLD) chief to support his agenda on Burma’s entry into the SAARC. Adjacent to Bangladesh and northeast India, Burma is a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic organisation comprising ten countries located in Southeast Asia. Once the rice bowl of Asia, Burma is closely associated with India and Bangladesh since the pre-historic era. During the freedom movement, Burma’s generous populace played an important role in favor of millions of Indian freedom fighters.
Popularly known as the banker to the poor, Professor Yunus went to Burma on 19 July 2014 with the invitation of the British Council in Myanmar to speak to the members of the government, civil society and business community about the potential of social business and the role of business in the country's development. His three-day Burma visit started with a 30 minute one-on-one discussions with Ms Suu Kyi on various socio-economic issues.
In fact, it was the first ever meeting between the two Nobel peace laureates from two neighboring Asian countries. Professor Yunus apprised Ms Suu Kyi about social business programs in Bangladesh including microcredit, health care, education & vocational training, renewable energy social businesses as well as equity investment for the development of enterprises by the unemployed youths of Grameen bank families.
Professor Yunus thanked Ms Suu Kyi for her support to Grameen microcredit replication program set up by the Grameen Trust at Myanmar’s delta zone in 1997, which is now operated by PACT, an international NGO, and is the largest microcredit program serving 700,000 clients in Burma currently, said a statement issued by the Dhaka based Yunus Centre. The pro-democracy Burmese icon, now a member of Burma Parliament appreciated the pro-poor initiatives of Professor Yunus around the world. The daughter of Burmese independence war hero General Aung San also briefed Professor Yunus about the work she has been doing in her constituency to bring development to the rural communities. Both the Nobel awardees emphasized on resolving the outstanding issues related to Bangladesh and Burma for close collaboration between the two developing countries. Professor Yunus also invited Ms Suu Kyi for visiting Bangladesh social businesses, on which she responded positively.

Apple production to increase by 28 pc in Mustang

MYAGDI, Aug 06: In Mustang, also known as the apple kingdom, apple production is expected to increase by 28 percent this year.
It is estimated that production will increase due to favorable weather, said Senior Agriculture Development Officer of District Agriculture Development Office Mustang, Rewati Raman Paudel.
Last year, it was produced 3,500 metric tonnes in the district and this year it is expected to be produced 4,500 mt, he said.
Mustang farmers harvest apples from the fourth week of August and they are happy that there is good market and increased production.
In Mustang, apple farming is in Marpha, Tukuche, Jomsom, Lete, Kagbeni, Muktinath and Jong in 867 hectares of land, said the Office.
As the production decreased last year, the price was above Rs. 65 per kg but this year consumers can get at Rs. 60 by highest. The Office said the farmers are asked to lower the price as production has increased.
Last year, 33,000 apple saplings were distributed for commercial production, and apple farmers affiliating with cooperatives have been increasing in the past few years.
As against apple saplings imported from out of the district, this year, this problem will be removed.
Some 70,000 plants are demanded annually and they will be produced in the district itself, said Poudel. Last year, the farming was expanded in 110 hectares of land and commercial farmers are increasing.

Jhapa farmers conduct frogs marriage wishing for rainfall

KAKARVITTA (JHAPA), Jul 30: Farmers in Jhapa, a Tarai district in eastern Nepal, conducted the marriage ceremony of frogs today wishing for rainfall in the district which has not witnessed rainfall till the end of July.
In the ceremony, farmers got two frogs married with all the antecedent rituals. The marriage ceremony of the frogs was held at the Durgapur-based Durga Temple in Kankai Municipality-1 with a hope that such unique ritual would make Indra, the god of Rain, happy and that he would bless them with rainfall.
The marriage was performed by temple priest Tankamani Kafle.
The bride frog was brought from Kankai- 7 and bridegroom from the Kanakai Municipality-1, according to local farmer Yashoda Bhattarai. The temple management committee made necessary arrangements for performing the event.

Monetary policy aims at economic stability, growth : Governor

KATHMANDU, Jul 29: Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Yubaraj Khatiwada has made it clear that the goals of the monetary policy is to maintain overall economic stability of the country, economic growth and price control.
At an interaction on ´Monetary policy and financial sector reform,´ organized here today by the Independent Business News Media and Research, he said monetary policy is focused on strengthening the banks and financial institutions of the country, which are in infant stage.
Stating that commercial banks were directed to increase investment in areas like agriculture, energy, tourism and small and cottage industries, as they create employment opportunities in the country, Governor Khatiwada said bank resources should be mobilized to boost the overall economic growth.
The Governor said arrangement on good governance was made for the security of amounts of the depositors for financial stability and transparency, and explained the provision of no more than two terms for bank board member and chairman.
Informing that preparations were being made for presenting bills in the parliament on banks and financial institutions act, banking crimes and punishment act and foreign exchange regularization act, Governor Khatiwada said discussion were on to formulate act on banning investment in foreign countries.
NRB former Governor Deependra Bahadur Chhetri was of the view that the monetary policy should aim at price control and criticized that the monetary policy of the previous year could not attain its goals. He, however, welcomed the compulsory provision of increase in investment in agriculture and productive sector.
At the program chaired by organization´s Managing Director Hridayaraj Gautam, Nepal Bankers Association Chairman Rajansingh Bhandari said the monetary policy should have been to increase the purchasing power of the general public and complained that the definition of the productive sector in the monetary policy were narrow-minded.

Ebola kills 84 in three days: UN

., Aug 19: The Ebola virus killed 84 people in just three days, bringing the global death toll to 1,229, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
The death toll, which passed the 1,000-mark over a week ago, soared higher from last Thursday to Saturday.
The number of confirmed infections jumped by 113 over the three days, bringing the total number of cases to 2,240, the UN health agency said.
The epidemic, which has hit four west African nations since it broke out in Guinea at the start of the year, is by far the deadliest since Ebola was discovered four decades ago in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Liberia was the hardest-hit country in the latest figures, with 48 new cases and 53 deaths.
That lifted its total count of cases to 834, with 466 deaths.
The new WHO toll predates an attack overnight Saturday on a quarantine centre in the Liberian capital Monrovia that caused 17 Ebola patients to flee who remain missing.
Sierra Leone recorded 38 new infections and 17 fatalities, the new WHO data showed.
As a result, Sierra Leone's total case count increased to 848 and its death toll to 365.
Guinea counted 24 new cases and 14 new deaths. That lifted the total number of cases to 543, with 394 deaths.
Nigeria, meanwhile, recorded three new cases but no deaths.
All told, Nigeria has now seen 15 cases and four fatalities, the data show.

WHO's Ebola guideline

GENEVA: , Aug 19: Authorities in countries affected by Ebola should check people departing at international airports, seaports and major border crossings and stop any with signs of the virus from travelling, the World Health Organisation said on Monday.
The UN health agency reiterated that the risk of getting infected with Ebola on an aircraft was small, as infected people are usually too ill to travel, and said the risk was also very low to travellers in affected countries, namely Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

9 die, over 6,000 fall sick due to hepatitis 'E'

BIRATNAGAR, May 08: As many as nine locals have died and over 6,000 afflicted by hepatitis 'E' in Biratnagar Municipality.
The disease broke out two weeks ago in the town. The cause of the disease is drinking polluted water and stale food, according to doctors.
Of the sick , 80 are in critical condition while 35 are receiving treatment in intensive care unit in different hospitals, it is learnt.
Meanwhile, Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Mahesh Acharya today met with the patients and inquired about their health.
In the context of the Hepatitis E spread in the town, the Nepal Medical Association Koshi Zonal chapter organized an interaction programme today and urged the government to take immediate measures to address the problem.
Locals have started thronging the health centres, clinics and hospitals for check up these days fearing that they might have contracted the disease, but the Health Ministry has not paid proper attention to this serious problem, said Dr Dipak Sigdel at the Koshi Zonal Hospital.
Hepatitis E was found in 400 of the 500 people who visited the hospital and various nursing homes for undergoing tests in the last two weeks, he said. Dr Sigdel said the government has not provided any financial support for carrying out the tests.
During the discussion Chairman of the Association, Dr. Mahananda Mishra, said at least a member of each family in Biratnagar Sub-metropolis is affected and the situation might become complicated day by day if the Ministry of Health did not respond seriously in time and send special teams of health workers and doctors with necessary medicines, and adopt other preventing measures.
Dr. Kailash Shrestha, Dr. Tanka Barakoti, and Dr. Narayan Kumar, among others, stressed on providing free ICU services to prevent the situation from worsening. They said if the medical services were not provided to the affected patients, it may result in the loss of many lives.
Dr. Kumar claimed the data on the number of hepatitis E patients collected by District Public Health Office, Morang, was not accurate. The office has remained indifferent towards preventing the disease, he added.
Locals said though the drinking water distributed by Nepal Water Supply Corporation was proved to be unsafe and one of the causes behind this is pollution at the water source, the administration failed to take action against the guilty.

Jackie Chan's son detained in Beijing drug bust

BEIJING, , Aug 19: Hong Kong action superstar Jackie Chan´s actor-son Jaycee Chan has been detained in Beijing on drug-related charges, the latest high-profile celebrity to be ensnared in one of China´s biggest anti-drug crackdowns in two decades.
Jaycee Chan, 31, was detained last Thursday together with the 23-year-old Taiwanese movie star Kai Ko, Beijing police said late Monday on their official microblog, identifying them only by their surnames, ages and nationalities. It was unclear why the detentions were announced several days later.
Police said both actors tested positive for marijuana and admitted using the drug, and that 100 grams of it were taken from Chan´s home.
Jaycee Chan´s management, M´Stones International, apologized to the public on his behalf for the "social impact" caused in a statement on their website. It said they would "supervise his rehabilitation and help him return to the right path."
Several celebrities have been detained on drug charges following a declaration in June by President Xi Jinping that illegal drugs should be wiped out and that offenders would be severely punished. In Beijing alone, more than 7,800 people have been caught in the crackdown, police said.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired footage of a police search of the younger Chan´s home in Beijing in which he is depicted, his face pixelated, showing officers where he stashed bags of marijuana. Police said they acted on a tipoff from the public.
Chan is accused of accommodating drug users, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of three years´ imprisonment — a far more serious charge than that of drug consumption. Two other people detained in the same case were accused of selling drugs while Ko is accused of drug consumption.
China named the elder Chan an anti-drug ambassador in 2009. Ko, the Taiwanese star, was part of an anti-drug campaign two years ago, CCTV reported, showing footage of the campaign in which he joins other celebrities in a chorus declaring: "I don´t use drugs." On Tuesday, Ko was shown on CCTV, his face pixelated, tearfully apologizing to his fans and family.
"I feel very regretful, very sorry to all the people who support me... I´ve been a very bad example, I´ve made a very big mistake," Ko said. In a statement online, his management company, Star Ritz Productions, said Ko had received a 14-day detention and also apologized to the public.
Ko, whose real name is Ko Chen-tung, became a sensation after his 2011 film "You Are the Apple of My Eye," a box-office hit in Taiwan. He won Best New Performer award for his role in the coming-of-age movie at the Golden Horse awards in Taiwan, considered the most prestigious in Chinese-language cinema.
He played the boyfriend of one of the protagonists in China-produced "Tiny Times 3.0," which appealed to young female audiences and knocked "Transformers 4" off the No. 1 spot as the most watched film after its release in the mainland last month.
Illegal drug use has ballooned in China in recent decades, after being virtually eradicated following the 1949 communist revolution. Narcotics began to reappear with the loosening of social controls in the late 1980s.
In more recent years, rising wealth and greater personal freedoms have been accompanied by a growing popularity of methamphetamines and the party drugs Ecstasy and ketamine. They are often bought on social media forums and consumed in nightclubs, leading to periodic police crackdowns.

Jennifer Lopez to perform at the World Cup ceremony

NEW YORK, Jun 11: Not so fast: J.Lo is performing at the World Cup after all.
Jennifer Lopez said in an interview with The Associated Press that she is flying to Brazil on Tuesday night to perform during the tournament´s opening ceremony on Thursday.
"I´m coming. I leave tonight. We always were going," she said. "I think people get anxious, especially with me and my schedule when I´m like, ´Ah, OK, I can leave this day, that day, I don´t know if we can make it.´"
"People get nervous and I think it was a little bit premature to announce anything," she said. "But we are definitely going."
FIFA officials announced earlier this week that the singer wouldn´t perform the official tune "We Are One (Ole Ola)" alongside Pitbull and Claudia Leitte. But Lopez said they will perform before Brazil takes on Croatia at Thursday´s opening game in Sao Paulo.
Lopez said the World Cup song was orchestrated by Pitbull, who invited her to join on the track.
"I can´t take credit for this. This was one of Pitbull´s call-ins," said Lopez, who has collaborated with the rapper on the hits "On the Floor" and "Dance Again.""He had this record and he´s like, ´I think this record could be great for the World Cup," she recalled. "He´s like, ´Will you do it with me?´ And I go, ´Yeah, of course.´"
Lopez added: "I´m so lucky that he gave me the opportunity."
The 44-year-old singer, who´s from the Bronx, is also busy promoting her new album, "A.K.A.," to be released next week.

Thai beauty queen resigns under social media fire

., Jun 10: Miss Universe Thailand has resigned less than a month into her reign after being harshly criticized on social media over her political comments and looks.
Weluree Ditsayabut, 22, tearfully announced she was giving up the title that would have allowed her to compete in the international Miss Universe pageant.
The actress and former talk show host said Monday she was initially pleased to have won the title, but that the hail of brutal comments on social media blasting her outspoken political views and calling her fat had hurt her family.
Weluree was criticized for comments she posted on Facebook attacking the "Red Shirt" supporters of the former government, whom she accused of opposing Thailand´s monarchy, and calling for the execution of their leaders. "You Red Shirts, you get out of here," she wrote in mid-November, before winning her title. "Thailand´s soil is dirty because of anti-monarchy people like you."
Weluree said that because of the criticism, "the happiness we used to have disappeared totally."
"When I saw my mom not being able to sleep at night, I couldn´t either," she told a news conference. She didn´t specify which remarks she found most hurtful.
Weluree´s comments struck at the heart of Thailand´s long-running political crisis, expressing the attitude of the country´s educated elite and royalists toward the government of then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Yingluck, who was backed by many in Thailand´s rural north and northeast, was forced to step down last month, and the military soon afterward staged a coup against the elected civilian government.
Thai society has been sharply polarized since 2006, when Yingluck´s brother, then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted in a coup and subsequently fled into exile to avoid a corruption conviction. Since then until the recent coup, Thaksin´s opponents and the Red Shirts staged competing protests in an ongoing battle for political power.

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National Headlines
Thousands set to amass to form Nepali national flag
KATHMANDU, , Aug 21: A mass formation of people will conglomerate on Saturday at Tudhikhel in the shape of Nepali national flag spreading the message that all Nepali people are under one flag that depicts the emblems of the Sun and Moon.
For the formation, 35,907 people will amass together to create a new world record that will be enlisted in the Guinness World Book of Records.
In a press conference held on Thursday in the capital city, Human Values for Peace and Prosperity (HVPP), the main organizing group, informed that the people will hold up placards to exhibit the national flag of Nepal. HVPP chairman Bhabesh Khanal said that the massive conglomeration of people at the Nepal Army ground will break the record set by Pakistan on February 15, 2014 in which 28,957 people amassed together for world record.
An engineering student of Kathmandu Engineering Campus, Durgesh Pradhan, who overlooks the technical and architectural aspect of the formation, said that each participant will hold up a placard with partial color of Nepal´s flag which combined together like a puzzle will exhibit Nepal´s national flag. Pradhan said that the formation will be 128 meters in width and 168 meters in length. The placard is 28 inches in length and 25 inches in width. Communication coordinator Prakash Koirala informed that 30,000 people had already registered for the event.
The technical aspect of the event is being overlooked by 12 engineering students pursuing B.E 3rd year in Pulchowk Engineering Campus and Kathmandu Engineering Campus.
For the event the organizers have demanded more applicants through its social networking sites facebook.com/hvpp.org and hvpp.org.
The evidences captured in five photo cameras and 14 video cameras will be sent to the Guiness Records for adjudication. The decision of the Guinness Records will be sent in two months’ time.
Each participant is required to buy a ticket costing Rs. 100. The organizers have pledged to provide the remainder of the proceeds to the victims of floods and landslides.
If the event is successful Nepali national flag will hold the world record with maximum number of people welded into a mass for its formation.
Three Bangladeshi nationals arrested in Kathmandu
KATHMANDU, NEPAL, Aug 21: The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), an investigative unit of the Nepal Police has arrested three Bangladeshi nationals for their alleged involvement on running Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services in Kathmandu on Thursday.
A team of the police became success to capture them as they had acted as a tip-off. It is said that the arrested Bangladeshi nationals includes Mohammad Hasan Iqbal, 25, Nayan, 26 and A K M Fazle,36. Police had arrrsted them from the Baluwatar and Khusibu area.
Prime Minister Koirala assures appositions not to do any agreement with India against national interest
KATHMANDU, Aug 21: Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has said no agreements would be made with India against the national interest.
The Prime Minister said this in a meeting with a delegation of 10 parties including the CPN-Maoist that had gone to meet the Prime Minister at his residence at Baluwatar today.
The 10-party delegation had gone to see PM Koirala to ask him not to sign the power trade agreement (PTA) and the project development agreement (PDA) for the Upper Karnali project with India, in haste.
Receiving a memorandum from the delegation, Prime Minister Koirala assured it that no agreement would be signed in which Nepal is in disadvantage and he would not allow the nationality to be dented, according to Prakash Adhikari, the Prime Minister´s media advisor.
The Prime Minister also told the delegation not to always see India with skepticism as the situation in India has changed.
PM Koirala also shared with the delegation that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, during their recent visit to Nepal, in talks with him, said that India wanted to promote its ties with the neighbors on the basis of equality and respect for their sovereignty and not have give-and-take with them through intimidation.
Recalling what the former Malaysian President Dr Mahathir Mohammad had said to him during a meeting while he was on a visit to Nepal that the basis for Malaysia´s development was foreign investment, PM Koirala told the delegation members not to be perturbed when foreign investment comes into the country.
He said he was still hopeful of the country´s future going by the sensitivity the opposition parties have demonstrated towards the rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the flood and landslide victims and equally their eagerness to work for the interest of the country and the people.
The three-point memorandum calls for signing an agreement with India in case it was urgent to do so only after forging all-party consensus, for the State alone constructing projects for the purpose of domestic power supply and for the private sector while generating electricity to do so with the Chilime and the Upper Tamakoshi projects as models.
The 10-party delegation comprised CPN-Maoist general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa, chairman of the Rastriya Janamorcha Chitra Bahadur KC, CPN (ML) leader Kumar Belbase, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal Rishi Kattel and leaders of other parties
Five reared dead in boat capsize
KATHMANDU, NEPAL, Aug 21: At least five persons have feared dead as preliminary investigation has shows that five among the passengers traveling in the ill fated boat have gone missing as a passenger boat capsized in the Bagmati River in Rautahat district on Thursday evening.
Tough the exact number of the passengers are yet to conform, it was believed that the boat was carrying at least 40 persons.
Among the passengers, 35 persons were rescued immediately after the ill fated boat had capsized while it was heading towards Rajbada VDC, Pipra from Sarlahi district.
Nepali U-16 cricket team returns home
KATHMANDU, NEPAL, Aug 21: The Nepali U-16 Cricket team has been welcomed in grand manner while they were arriving in the Capital following their victorious campaign in the ACC Premier League tournament held in Malaysia .
National Sports Council Member Secretary Yuvaraj Lama and other officials of the councils, officials of the Cricket Association of Nepal and other were gathered at the Tribhuvan International Airport to welcome U-16 the victorious team.
The Nepali team had defeated Malaysia by 32 runs to win the trophy on Wednesday.



Apple production to increase by 28 pc in Mustang

MYAGDI, Aug 06: In Mustang, also known as the apple kingdom, apple production is expected to increase by 28 percent this year.
It is estimated that production will increase due to favorable weather, said Senior Agriculture Development Officer of District Agriculture Development Office Mustang, Rewati Raman Paudel.
Last year, it was produced 3,500 metric tonnes in the district and this year it is expected to be produced 4,500 mt, he said.
Mustang farmers harvest apples from the fourth week of August and they are happy that there is good market and increased production.
In Mustang, apple farming is in Marpha, Tukuche, Jomsom, Lete, Kagbeni, Muktinath and Jong in 867 hectares of land, said the Office.
As the production decreased last year, the price was above Rs. 65 per kg but this year consumers can get at Rs. 60 by highest. The Office said the farmers are asked to lower the price as production has increased.
Last year, 33,000 apple saplings were distributed for commercial production, and apple farmers affiliating with cooperatives have been increasing in the past few years.
As against apple saplings imported from out of the district, this year, this problem will be removed.
Some 70,000 plants are demanded annually and they will be produced in the district itself, said Poudel. Last year, the farming was expanded in 110 hectares of land and commercial farmers are increasing.

Jhapa farmers conduct frogs marriage wishing for rainfall

KAKARVITTA (JHAPA), Jul 30: Farmers in Jhapa, a Tarai district in eastern Nepal, conducted the marriage ceremony of frogs today wishing for rainfall in the district which has not witnessed rainfall till the end of July.
In the ceremony, farmers got two frogs married with all the antecedent rituals. The marriage ceremony of the frogs was held at the Durgapur-based Durga Temple in Kankai Municipality-1 with a hope that such unique ritual would make Indra, the god of Rain, happy and that he would bless them with rainfall.
The marriage was performed by temple priest Tankamani Kafle.
The bride frog was brought from Kankai- 7 and bridegroom from the Kanakai Municipality-1, according to local farmer Yashoda Bhattarai. The temple management committee made necessary arrangements for performing the event.

Monetary policy aims at economic stability, growth : Governor

KATHMANDU, Jul 29: Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Yubaraj Khatiwada has made it clear that the goals of the monetary policy is to maintain overall economic stability of the country, economic growth and price control.
At an interaction on ´Monetary policy and financial sector reform,´ organized here today by the Independent Business News Media and Research, he said monetary policy is focused on strengthening the banks and financial institutions of the country, which are in infant stage.
Stating that commercial banks were directed to increase investment in areas like agriculture, energy, tourism and small and cottage industries, as they create employment opportunities in the country, Governor Khatiwada said bank resources should be mobilized to boost the overall economic growth.
The Governor said arrangement on good governance was made for the security of amounts of the depositors for financial stability and transparency, and explained the provision of no more than two terms for bank board member and chairman.
Informing that preparations were being made for presenting bills in the parliament on banks and financial institutions act, banking crimes and punishment act and foreign exchange regularization act, Governor Khatiwada said discussion were on to formulate act on banning investment in foreign countries.
NRB former Governor Deependra Bahadur Chhetri was of the view that the monetary policy should aim at price control and criticized that the monetary policy of the previous year could not attain its goals. He, however, welcomed the compulsory provision of increase in investment in agriculture and productive sector.
At the program chaired by organization´s Managing Director Hridayaraj Gautam, Nepal Bankers Association Chairman Rajansingh Bhandari said the monetary policy should have been to increase the purchasing power of the general public and complained that the definition of the productive sector in the monetary policy were narrow-minded.


Thai army ruler nominated as next prime minister

BANGKOK,, Aug 21: Three months after overthrowing Thailand´s last elected government, this Southeast Asian nation´s junta leader is stepping out of his army uniform for good — to take up the post of prime minister in a move critics say will only extend his time at the helm and consolidate the military´s grip on power.
Thailand´s junta-appointed legislature voted unanimously Thursday to name Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to the new job during a session in Bangkok.
There was little doubt over the outcome since Prayuth was the only candidate.
The 60-year-old leader is due to retire from the army next month but until then he can hold both positions. Thursday´s appointment appears aimed in part at keeping him at the helm as the military implements sweeping political reforms that critics say are designed to purge the influence of the ousted ruling party and favor an elite minority that has failed to win national elections for more than a decade.
Prayuth has effectively served as de facto premier since staging the May 22 coup. For several years before that, he held the position of army chief — a post that many regard as one of the most powerful and influential in a country where the military has seized power 12 times since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.
"He could have refused the job, but what would be the point?" said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai professor of Southeast Asian studies at Japan´s Kyoto University whose passport was revoked after criticizing the coup and refusing to respond to a junta summons ordering home.
Prayuth´s appointment by the National Legislative Assembly must be approved by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a formality likely to occur within a week. Prayuth will then name a 35-member Cabinet.
The vote was the latest in a series of moves by the junta to consolidate power on its own terms.
In July, the military adopted a temporary 48-article constitution. Shortly afterward, the junta appointed the assembly that is dominated by active and retired duty officers.
Earlier this week, Prayuth appeared at Parliament to present next fiscal year´s budget; he was dressed for the first time in public in a business suit, an apparent signal he was readying for the new job.
Prayuth has justified the coup by saying the army had to intervene to end half a year of protests that had paralyzed the government and triggered sporadic violence that left 28 people dead and hundreds injured. While stability has been restored and life has largely returned to normal, the junta has been criticized for cracking down harshly on even the slightest dissent.
Most politicians from the ousted ruling party, including former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, were briefly detained by the army — and released only after signing agreements effectively preventing them from speaking out. Violators, the junta has warned, will face prosecution.
Critics, though, say reconciliation — and any legitimate debate on the divided nation´s fate — cannot take place in a climate of fear.
The May putsch was swiftly condemned by Western powers, but Thailand´s relations with key Asian nations remain unchanged. Concerns over human rights abuses and the restoration of democracy were not even mentioned publicly earlier this month during a regional foreign ministers summit earlier hosted by Myanmar.
Thailand has been deeply divided since 2006, when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra — Yingluck´s brother — was toppled after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for Bhumibol.
Thaksin, a former telecommunications billionaire whose political allies have won every national election since 2001, lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai but remains an intensely polarizing figure. He is highly popular among the poor in Thailand´s north and northeast, but despised by a Bangkok-based elite backed by the army and staunch royalists who view him as a corrupt demagogue who bought votes with populist promises.
Although Prayuth has promised to eventually restore democracy and hold elections as early as 2015, Pavin, the analyst, said the junta was working to remove all traces of Thaksin´s influence before then.
Ultimately, "the elite want to gain control over politics. In the last decade, their domination was taken away by Thaksin through elections," Pavin said. "They are trying to weaken that now ... and ensure that politicians linked to Thaksin can´t come back."
Thailand has not had a prime minister since caretaker premier Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan´s government was ousted in the May coup. Niwattumrong held the position only briefly to replace Yingluck, who took office after a landslide 2011 election but was forced to resign for nepotism in a court case her supporters say was politically motivated.
Prayuth´s governance style differed markedly from his predecessor. The gruff leader has veered beyond usual government policy talk and his speeches have sometimes taken on a paternalistic tone.
Taking to the airwaves almost every Friday night to explain the junta´s objectives, Prayuth has urged people to recycle their trash, to avoid credit card debt, and even to avoid shopping if they feel stressed. He has also launched a "national happiness" campaign and spelled out the "12 core values of the Thai people," key among them, showing respect for the nation´s king.

Israeli air strikes pound Gaza; 6 dead in Rafah

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP, Aug 21: Palestinian police say at least six people have been killed when an overnight Israeli airstrike hit a densely populated neighborhood in the Gaza Strip.
Police say the strike early on Thursday destroyed a four-story structure in the southern town of Rafah and that rescue workers were still searching for people trapped in the rubble.
The strike was one of 20 the Israeli military says were carried out since midnight on Wednesday.
It followed the breakdown of Egyptian-mediated talks aimed at producing a long term truce after more than a month of fighting that has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Israel lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.
Israel says the airstrikes are in response to a resumption of Hamas rocket launches that ruptured the cease-fire Tuesday.

Obama: U.S. won't stop confronting Islamic State

WASHINGTON, Aug 21: The United States launched a new barrage of airstrikes Wednesday against the Islamic State extremist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley and that has seized a swath of territory across Iraq and Syria. President Barack Obama vowed relentless pursuit of the terrorists and the White House revealed that the U.S. had launched a secret rescue mission inside Syria earlier this summer that failed to rescue Foley and other Americans still being held hostage.
In brief but forceful remarks, Obama said the U.S. would "do what we must to protect our people," but he stopped short of promising to follow the Islamic State in its safe haven within Syria, where officials said Foley had been killed. Later, though, the administration revealed that several dozen special operations troops had been on the ground in Syria briefly in an effort to rescue the hostages, but did not find them.
And looking forward, the State Department refused to rule out future U.S. military operations in Syria, where Obama has long resisted intervening in a three-year civil war.
Western nations agreed to speed help to combat the militants — most notably Germany, which bucked public opposition by announcing it would arm Iraqi Kurdish fighters to battle the Islamic State. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he was outraged by the beheading, deeming it evidence of a "caliphate of barbarism." Italy´s defense minister said the country hopes to contribute machine guns, ammunition and anti-tank rockets.
The Islamic State called Foley´s death a revenge killing for U.S. airstrikes against militants in Iraq, and said other hostages would be slain if the attacks continued. Undeterred, the U.S. conducted 14 additional strikes after a video of the beheading surfaced, bringing to 84 the number of airstrikes since they began on Aug. 8.
Two U.S. officials said additional American troops — probably less than 300 — could be headed to Iraq to provide extra security around Baghdad, where the U.S. Embassy is located. That would bring the total number of American forces in Iraq to well over 1,000, although officials said no final decision had been made. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name.
Foley´s mother said she is praying for other hostages being held by the Sunni-dominated terror group, and described her son´s slaying as "just evil."
Obama agreed. "No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day," the president said. The Islamic State militants have promised to eliminate all people they consider heretics in their quest to create an extremist state across much of Iraq and Syria.
"We will be vigilant and we will be relentless," Obama said, urging unity among Mideast governments in order to eviscerate the extremist group´s growing power. He spoke from Martha´s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where his family is vacationing.
In capitals across the Middle East, news of Foley´s death was met largely with silence, even in Syria and Iraq — the two countries where the Islamic State is strongest. On social media, people in the region condemned Foley´s killing, but stressed that the Islamic State has been committing atrocities against Iraqis and Syrians for years.
For much of the past year, and until this summer, the Obama administration was deeply divided on how much of a threat the Islamic State posed to Americans or even other nations beyond Iraq and Syria. But since the militants´ march across northern Iraq in June, and as its ranks swelled almost threefold to an estimated 15,000 fighters, Obama has acknowledged that the Islamic State could become a direct threat to Americans.
The secret mission to rescue the U.S. hostages involved several dozen special operations forces dropped by aircraft into Syria. The hostages weren´t found, but special forces engaged in a firefight with Islamic State militants before departing, according to administration officials. Several militants were killed, and one American sustained minor injuries.
"The U.S. government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the president authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens," Lisa Monaco, Obama´s top counterterrorism adviser, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present."
Foley´s death proved to the West what many people in Syria and Iraq already knew: The Islamic State "has declared war on the civilized world," said Dr. Najib Ghadibian, the Syrian National Coalition´s special representative to the U.S. The group´s sweep also has served as a wake-up call to other Mideast governments, said Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.
"The Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Emiratis, and even the Qataris, are getting the message now," Gerges said. "I think in the last few weeks we have seen a kind of new awareness on the part of regional powers that the Islamic State does present a threat to the very social fabric and the foundation of the state system." He said Foley´s death could help intensify efforts on the part of Washington´s regional allies to make a more concerted effort to address the threat.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia, both of whom share a border with Iraq, have dispatched troops to the frontier in a bid to prevent any attempt by the extremists to attack. Iran, an ally of the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, has sent military advisers to help organize Shiite militias in Iraq and defend holy sites. Authorities from the Gulf to Egypt, as well as their peoples, have looked on with growing concern as the Islamic State group has brutally expanded the territory under its control, punctuating its rise by declaring a caliphate in lands straddling the Syria-Iraq border.
Foley, a 40-year-old journalist from Rochester, New Hampshire, was no stranger to war zone reporting. He went missing in northern Syria in November 2012 while freelancing for Agence France-Presse and the Boston-based news organization GlobalPost. The car he was riding in was stopped by four militants in a contested battle zone that both Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control. He had not been heard from since.
He was one of at least four Americans still being held in Syria — three of whom officials said were kidnapped by the Islamic State. The fourth, freelance journalist Austin Tice, disappeared in Syria in August 2012 and is believed to be in the custody of government forces in Syria.
The Islamic State video of Foley´s beheading also showed another of the missing American journalists, Steven Sotloff, and warned he would be the next killed if U.S. airstrikes continued. U.S. officials believe the video was made days before its Tuesday release, perhaps last weekend, and have grown increasingly worried about Sotloff´s fate.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says that more than 80 journalists have been abducted in Syria, and estimates that around 20 are currently missing there. It has not released their nationalities. In its annual report in November, the committee described the widespread seizure of journalists as unprecedented and largely unreported by news organizations in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help in the captives´ release.
Obama avoided specific mention of the other American hostages in Syria, and was vague on whether the U.S. would significantly ramp up its assault on the Islamic State beyond the airstrikes and small potential increase in troops in Iraq. A third senior U.S. official said the administration was well aware of the risks to the hostages once the strikes began, and would now consider as aggressive a policy as possible to obliterate the militants.
At the State Department, spokeswoman Marie Harf did not rule out military operations in Syria to bring those responsible to justice, saying the U.S. "reserves the right to hold people accountable when they harm Americans."
U.S. lawmakers, however, said they doubted the White House would expand its attacks to strike within Syria — something the Obama administration has long resisted.
"The mission already crept a bit," said Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and House Intelligence Committee member. "The administration would be wise to not get sucked in. That´s going to be very hard."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., lamented that Obama has been "unwilling to do what is necessary to confront" the Islamic State.
Lucas reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Bradley Klapper, and Josh Lederman in Washington, Jim Kuhnhenn in Massachusetts, Rik Stevens in Rochester, New Hampshire, and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.


Review Nepal Gallery


Rhododendron forest in Annapurna region, with Dhaulagiri at the background.
Photo Courtesy: trekkingnepalhimalaya.wordpress.com

Mount Everest, the highest pick of the world.
Photo Courtesy: www.mount-everest.net

Pashupatinath Temple
Photo Courtesy: nepaliadventure.wordpress.com

Lumbini is the birth of place of Lord Buddha and has been declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Shakyamuni Buddha was born in Lumbin
Photo Courtesy: www.muktinathtour.com
Interview
Sports Updates
15-year-old Norwegian to play UAE friendly

OSLO, NORWAY, , Aug 19: A 15-year-old has been selected by Norway for the country´s upcoming friendly against the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 27.
Martin Odegaard, a midfielder with Norwegian club Stromsgodset, says "it is huge" to play for a team that he has watched on television.
Born Dec. 17, 1998, Odegaard has already represented the U-17 side, including appearances against the United States, France and Scotland.
Coach Per-Mathias Hogmo included the teenager in his squad, after a string of impressive performances for his club.
Hogmo said Tuesday that he considered Odegaard "would be one of this year´s rising stars."
"I am looking forward seeing him in action," he added.
Stromgodset are currently third in Norway´s top-tier Tippeliga league.

15-year-old Norwegian to play UAE friendly

OSLO, NORWAY, , Aug 19: A 15-year-old has been selected by Norway for the country´s upcoming friendly against the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 27.
Martin Odegaard, a midfielder with Norwegian club Stromsgodset, says "it is huge" to play for a team that he has watched on television.
Born Dec. 17, 1998, Odegaard has already represented the U-17 side, including appearances against the United States, France and Scotland.
Coach Per-Mathias Hogmo included the teenager in his squad, after a string of impressive performances for his club.
Hogmo said Tuesday that he considered Odegaard "would be one of this year´s rising stars."
"I am looking forward seeing him in action," he added.
Stromgodset are currently third in Norway´s top-tier Tippeliga league.

Suarez says he won't bite again

BARCELONA, , Aug 19: Luis Suarez says Barcelona´s fans needn´t worry— he won´t bite again.
Barcelona unveiled Suarez on Tuesday, an event delayed for over five weeks since his transfer from Liverpool due to his latest suspension for biting an opponent at the World Cup.
Suarez says "I say to all the fans, don´t worry, because I won´t do that anymore."
Suarez sunk his teeth into the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in June, earning him a four-month ban from playing competitive matches and further damaging his already tarnished reputation.
At 27, Suarez has accumulated three multi-match suspensions for biting an opponent. He has also been suspended for making racist remarks.

Technology & Information
Swiss-made solar plane makes maiden flight

BERLIN, Jun 02: A Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft has made a successful inaugural flight as its makers prepare for what they hope will be the first round-the-world solar flight.
The Solar Impulse 2 team said the aircraft spent 2 hours and 17 minutes in the air above western Switzerland early Monday. They plan several other flights over the coming months.
The Solar Impulse 2 is a bigger and better version of a single-seat prototype that first took flight five years ago. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the project´s founders, say it theoretically can stay airborne indefinitely. The plane soaks up energy from the sun through some 17,200 solar cells that cover its massive wings, which span 72 meters (236 feet).
Piccard and Borschberg hope to fly the aircraft around the world next year.

TU central library developing as e-library

KATHMANDU, May 16: Efforts are on to develop the TU central library, the biggest library in the country, as an e-library according to the wish of readers and changing times.
The library was established in 2016 BS along with the establishment of the Tribhuvan University at Tripureshwar and was shifted to Kirtipur in 2020 BS.
The library had come into operation with the collection of only 200 books but now there are over 400,000 books on different subjects and a large number of national and international research journals, library sources said.
The library has made preparations to developing it into an e-library. For this purpose, the library has started microfilming the old and tattered books, chief librarian Janardan Dhungana said. The library has set up a solar panel capable of generating 12 kilowatts power, as the library was facing power shortage in the past days, he added.
Meanwhile, the library administration has started distributing digital identity cards to its users. The library also has a plan of developing a research centre and has allocated rooms for that purpose, Dhungana further said.

Samsung Selects New Mobile Design Chief

.., May 08: Samsung has replaced its chief of mobile design, following last week's resignation of Chang Dong-hoon.
Lee Min-hyouk, vice president for mobile design, will take the department reigns, Reuters reported.
The 42-year-old in 2010 became Samsung's youngest senior executive, due to his work in designing the Galaxy handset series, which has helped the South Korean company dominate the global smartphone space. Now, as Reuters pointed out, Samsung sells twice as many smartphones as Apple.
But the recent launch of its next-generation Galaxy flagship phone did not receive the same warm welcome as its predecessors. The GS5's all-plastic design—a sticking point for PCMag's reviewers—was slammed for looking cheap, while the handset's lack of hardware innovations did little to excite customers.
Samsung did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.