El Niño – Bringing up baby

IT IS a long way from the western Pacific Ocean to the flooded streets of Buenos Aires where, this month, the city’s Good Samaritans have been distributing food and candles by kayak after some unseasonably heavy rain. But there is a link. Its name is El Niño.

El Niño (Spanish for “The Boy”) is a Pacific-wide phenomenon that has global consequences. A Niño happens when warm water that has accumulated on the west side of the Pacific floods eastward with the abatement of the westerly trade winds which penned it up. (The long, dark equatorial streak on the map above, which shows sea-surface temperatures for August 10th-16th, indicates this.) The trade winds, and their decrease or reversal, are part of a cycle called ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation).

The consequences of this phase of ENSO include heavy rain in south-eastern South America, western North America and eastern Africa, and drought in Australia, India and Indonesia. Another consequence, around Christmastide, is the sudden disappearance of the food supply of the Pacific.

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via The Economist.

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Mysore tops Swachh Bharat rankings for 476 cities

Mysore city in Karnataka has topped the Swachh Bharat Rankings of 476 cities in the country with three more from the State figuring in the top 10. West Bengal does well with 25 cities/towns from the State finding a place in the top 100 cities. These rankings are based on the extent of open defecation and solid waste management practices in these cities. The city of Mysore leads the cities with minimal open defecation and extensive adoption of solid waste management practices.

39 cities from the Southern states are among the top 100 followed by 27 from the East, 15 from the West, 12 from the North and 7 from the North-Eastern States.

15 of the 27 capital cities surveyed figured among the top 100 performers while five were ranked beyond 300. Bengaluru leads the list of capitals at 7th rank while Patna came at the bottom at 429.

Among the bottom 100 cities, 74 are from the North, 21 from the East, 3 from the West and 2 from the South.

The top 10 ranked cities being : Mysore, Thiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu), Navi Mumbai, Kochi (Kerala), Hassan, Mandya and Bengaluru from Karnataka, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), Halisahar (West Bengal) and Gangtok (Sikkim) in that order.

Damoh (Madhya Pradesh) came at the bottom of 476, preceded by Bhind(MP), Palwal and Bhiwani, both in Haryana, Chittaurgarh (Rajasthan), Bulandshahar (UP), Neemuch (MP), Rewari(Haryana), Hindaun (Rajasthan) and Sambalpur in Odisha at 467th rank.

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via PTI News

Explained: Everything you need to know about Nagaland insurgency

How old is the Naga political issue?

The British annexed Assam in 1826, and in 1881, the Naga Hills too became part of British India. The first sign of Naga resistance was seen in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918, which told the Simon Commission in 1929 “to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times”. In 1946 came the Naga National Council (NNC), which, under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo, declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947. The NNC resolved to establish a “sovereign Naga state” and conducted a “referendum” in 1951, in which “99 per cent” supported an “independent” Nagaland.

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via The Indian Express

A history of accords but peace has eluded Nagaland

The landmark peace accord signed by the government and the NSCN-IM on 3 August 2015, came nearly 40 years after another similar treaty inked in Shillong that failed to establish peace and led to a fracturing of the Naga rebel movement.

On November 11, 1975, then Nagaland Governor L P Singh signed what came to be known as the “Shillong Accord” with six representatives of the Naga rebels in the capital of Meghalaya.

The ambiguous nature of the agreement–including a clause that said representatives of underground groups would have “reasonable time to formulate other issues for discussion for final settlement”–and the lack of support from hardline leaders like Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu meant that the Shillong Accord did not lead to lasting peace.

At the time, the Naga rebel movement had been weakened because China had stopped extending support to it and the creation of Bangladesh meant they could no longer seek shelter in the erstwhile East Pakistan.

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via The Hindustan Times

A guide to nuclear talks between Iran and six major powers

Iran and six world powers – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – are in what may be the final phase of negotiations aimed at securing a deal on sanctions relief in exchange for limits on Iranian nuclear activities.

The six powers have a June 30 deadline but diplomats close to the talks expect that to slip.

BACKGROUND

The nuclear standoff between Iran and the West goes back to at least 2002, when a group of exiles revealed undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) later confirmed that they were a uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy-water production plant at Arak. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful but Western intelligence agencies are convinced Iran had a nuclear arms programme that went dormant, possibly as far back as 2003.

In 2003, Britain, France and Germany began an inconclusive effort to persuade Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fissile material, the key component for an atomic bomb.

In 2006, the United States dropped its opposition to engagement with Iran and joined the three European powers, along with Russia and China, a group known both as the “P5+1” and the “E3+3”.

That year, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend enrichment and other sensitive nuclear work. This was followed by more draconian restrictions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

Negotiations stalled until Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s 2013 election. In November 2013, Iran and the six powers reached an interim deal that gave Tehran limited sanctions relief in exchange for some curbs on its most sensitive nuclear work. It was meant to buy time to negotiate a final, long-term pact. The interim deal has been extended twice, in July and November last year.

On April 2, Iran and the six agreed on the parameters for a final, long-term deal in Lausanne, Switzerland. The deadline for an agreement is June 30, though negotiations are expected to run into July.

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via Reuters

Assam inclusion paves the way for boundary pact with Bangladesh

Clearing the decks for ratification and operationalisation of a historic land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh, the Union Cabinet, on 5 May 2015, cleared  a constitutional amendment Bill for consideration and adoption by the two houses of Parliament.

The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013 now includes territories in Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura for exchange with Bangladesh. Many of these are enclaves (territory belonging to one country entirely surrounded by the other country), even enclaves within enclaves.

CLICK HERE to know the background, details of India-Bangladesh land swap deal.

Via – The Indian Express

 

What is net neutrality and why it is important

Internet is built around the idea of openness. It allows people to connect and exchange information freely, if the information or service is not illegal. Much of this is because of the idea of net neutrality. If you like the current state of the internet, you should know about net neutrality. Many web users are aware of it.

Net neutrality is an idea derived from how telephone lines have worked since the beginning of the 20th century. Some countries have rules that enforce net neutrality but most don’t. Instead, the principle is followed because that is how it has always been. It is more of a norm than a law.

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Via – Economic Times