Economy showing signs of getting back to normalcy, but medium term outlook still uncertain: Indian governor #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Economy showing signs of getting back to normalcy, but medium term outlook still uncertain: Indian governor

Jul 12. 2020

By The Statesman

Shaktikanta Das added that COVID-19 pandemic perhaps represents so far the biggest test of robustness and resilience of our economic and financial system.

India’s economy is showing signs of getting back to normalcy, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Saturday.

Delivering a keynote address at the 7th SBI Banking and Economics Conclave, Das said, “Despite the substantial impact of pandemic in our daily lives, the financial system of the country, including all the payment systems and financial markets, are functioning without any hindrance”.

“The Indian economy has started showing signs of getting back to normalcy in response to the staggered easing of restrictions,” he said.

He added that COVID-19 pandemic perhaps represents so far the biggest test of robustness and resilience of our economic and financial system.

The RBI chief, however, noted that medium term outlook still remains uncertain. He cautioned that it is still uncertain when supply chains will be restored fully, how long will it take for demand conditions to normalise and what kind of durable effects the pandemic will leave behind on India’s potential growth.

“COVID-19 is the worst health and economic crisis in the last 100 years with unprecedented negative consequences for output, jobs and well being. It dented the existing world order, global value chains, labour and capital movements across the globe,” Das noted.

Elaborating on moves taken by the RBI till the pandemic struck, Das said, “From February 2019 onward, on a cumulative basis, we had cut the repo rate by 135 basis points till the onset of COVID-19. That was done mainly to tackle the slowdown in growth which was visible at that time”.

The lagged impact of these measures was about to propel a cyclical turnaround in economic activity, the RBI chief said, when COVID-19 brought with it calamities, miseries, endangering of lives and livelihood of people.

He further elaborated that a multi-pronged approach adopted by the Reserve Bank has provided a cushion from the immediate impact of the pandemic on banks.

“Policy action for the medium-term would require a careful assessment of how the crisis unfolds. Building buffers and raising capital will be crucial not only to ensure credit flow but also to build resilience in the financial system.”

According to Shaktikanta Das, the RBI has asked financial institutions to carry out a COVID stress test to see weaknesses in their balance sheet.

“We have recently advised all banks, non-deposit taking NBFCs and all deposit-taking NBFCs to assess the impact of COVID-19 on their balance sheet, asset quality, liquidity, profitability and capital adequacy for the financial year 2020-21.

“Based on the outcome of such stress testing, banks and non-banking financial companies have been advised to work out possible mitigating measures, including capital planning, capital raising, and contingency liquidity planning, among others. The idea is to ensure continued credit supply to different sectors of the economy and maintain financial stability,” Das said.

Besides, he cited that RBI has strengthened its offsite surveillance mechanism to proactively find weak institutes and to immediately take corrective steps.

“As the lock-down has obstructed our on-site supervisory examination to an extent, we are further enhancing our off-site surveillance mechanism. The objective of the off-site surveillance system would be to ‘smell the distress’, if any, and be able to initiate pre-emptive actions.”

“This requires use of market intelligence inputs and on-going engage ments with financial institutions on potential vulnerabilities. The off-site assessment framework, which takes into account macro and micro variables, i s more analytical and forward looking and aimed at identifying vulnerable se ctors, borrowers as well as supervised entities,” he said.

Furthermore, he said the supervisory approach of the Reserve Bank is to further strengthen its focus on developing financial institutions’ ability to identify, measure, and mitigate the risks.

“The new supervisory approach will be two-pronged – first, strengthening the internal defences of the supervised entities; and second, greater focus on identifying the early warning signals and initiate corrective action,” Das said.

He cited that to strengthen the internal defences, higher emphasis is now be ing given on causes of weaknesses than on symptoms.

“The symptoms of weak banks are usually poor asset quality, lack of profitability, loss of capital, excessive leverage, excessive risk exposure, poor conduct, and liquidity concerns. These different symptoms often emerge together,” he said.

“The causes of weak financial institutions can usually be traced to one or more of the following conditions: inappropriate business model, given the business environment; poor or inappropriate governance and assurance functions; poor decision making by senior management; and misalignment of intern al incentive structures with external stakeholder interests.”

Accordingly, he said RBI is placing special emphasis on the assessment of business model, governance and assurance functions, as these have been the are as of heightened supervisory concern.

“Supervised entities generally tend to focus more on business aspect seven to the detriment of governance aspects and assurance functions. There was also an apparent disconnect between their articulated business strategy and actual business operations. The thrust of the approach, therefore is, to improve the risk, compliance, and governance culture amongst the financial institutions,” he said.

In addition, he said that post the containment of Coronavirus, “a very careful trajectory has to be followed in orderly unwinding of counter-cyclical regulatory measures and the financial sector should return to normal function ing without relying on the regulatory relaxations as the new norm”.

“The Reserve Bank is making continuous assessment of the changing trajectory of financial stability risks and upgrading its own supervisory framework to ensure that financial stability is preserved,” he said.

“Banks and financial intermediaries have to be ever vigilant and substantially upgrade their capabilities with respect to governance, assurance functions and risk culture.”

Meanwhile, in his keynote address, the RBI governor said that the MPC has decided to cumulatively slash the policy repo rate further by 115 basis points.

With this, from February 2019, the total rate cut that the RBI has undertaken would be 250 basis points.

India in talks with Sri Lanka over request for debt relief #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

India in talks with Sri Lanka over request for debt relief

Jul 12. 2020

By The Island

Talks are underway on Sri Lanka’s request to India for a moratorium on debt repayment, it was announced in New Delhi on Friday.

“The matter has progressed and technical level discussions are presently underway,” Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

He was responding to a question on the issue at an online media briefing. Sri Lanka is reeling under a major economic crisis and has requested several countries and international donors, including India to provide debt relief.

Asked about reports of Chinese envoy to Nepal Hou Yanqi meeting several leaders in Nepal and whether she was meddling in the country’s political turmoil, Srivastava refused to comment. “I have no comment to offer on the internal political situation of Nepal,” he said.

Replying to a question on the Enrica Lexie case, Srivastava said there was no delay on the part of the Ministry of External Affairs in informing the Supreme Court and the Kerala government about the verdict of an international tribunal on it.

The tribunal in its judgment said that two Italian marines who shot dead two Indian fishermen cannot be tried in an Indian court. However, it upheld the conduct of the Indian authorities following the incident in 2012.

India accused two Italian marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, on board the MV Enrica Lexie, an Italian flagged oil tanker, of shooting dead the two Indian fishermen who were on a fishing vessel off Kerala in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The incident took place off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.

Việt Nam-US ties continue to grow, says former Vietnamese Ambassador #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Việt Nam-US ties continue to grow, says former Vietnamese Ambassador

Jul 12. 2020

Former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Lê Văn Bàng in 1997 meets then US President Bill Clinton. — VNA/VNS File Photo

Former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Lê Văn Bàng in 1997 meets then US President Bill Clinton. — VNA/VNS File Photo

By Vietnam News

Ambassador Lê Văn Bàng, the first Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, tells Vietnam News Agency that he believes the Việt Nam-US relationship will continue to grow

US President Bill Clinton announced the lifting of the embargo on Việt Nam on February 3, 1994, followed by the US declaration of normalising relations with Việt Nam in July 1995. What were your feelings when witnessing the historic moment?

During 20 years of perseverance to normalise Việt Nam-US relations (1975-1995), I witnessed countless ups and downs and difficulties in the struggle and Việt Nam’s efforts. In particular, in 1986, when Việt Nam began to open its doors, the need for the lifting of the embargo was extremely urgent, so the US’s embargo was a stone blocking the door, making it impossible for us to communicate with the world ‘normally’.

Typically, around 1988-1989, there were business owners who shared with me that they sold to Indian partners US$200,000 worth of copper scrap. Indian businesses paid through a US bank, so the money was held up there, making it very hard for Vietnamese businesses.

I was assigned to be the United Nations Ambassador in 1993-1994, in charge of relations with the US. This was also the stage of normalising relations between Việt Nam and the US, starting from New York City. With the efforts of both nations, on the morning of February 3, 1994, the US Department of State invited me from New York to Washington DC to report “a special issue in the two countries’ diplomatic relations”. Here, the US Department of State announced that from 3pm on February 3, 1994, President Bill Clinton officially announced the lifting of the trade embargo on Việt Nam and asked me to report this information to Hà Nội.

Then, at 3pm the same day, President Clinton appeared on TV, announcing the lifting of the trade embargo on Việt Nam. Despite knowing the information in advance, I still could not help but shed tears of joy and happiness. That meant after 20 years of so much struggle, we had achieved our goal. Removing the embargo meant Việt Nam had the right to trade with the US and with other countries in the world without being prevented via finance, investment and trade barriers.

I remember very well a memory related to this important event. Earlier, in a conversation discussing when the US would remove the Vietnamese embargo, a US professor said: “This is very difficult”. Therefore, right after the trade removal order was issued, that friend wrote me a brief letter “You win!”. This proves the US people are very interested in the relationship between the two countries.

After the US declaration of normalising relations with Việt Nam in July 1995, I remember very clearly the first time we conducted a flag-raising ceremony, sang the national anthem and saluted the flag in front of the embassy’s headquarters in the US on August 5, 1995. To me, this was not only an important ceremony but also a glorious task, a very important task for diplomats like me in particular and Vietnamese people at that time in general.

At that time, what challenges and opportunities did Việt Nam face when the US normalised relations?

The fact that the US announced the lifting of Việt Nam’s trade embargo on February 3, 1994 followed by the declaration of normalising relations with Việt Nam in July 1995, first of all, created opportunities for Việt Nam to normalise relations not only with the US but also connect with all countries in the world, in all fields.

This was also a premise for us to achieve other important achievements such as joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1995 and joining the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) in 1998. In short, this was the starting point for Việt Nam to integrate internationally normally.

However, besides the opportunities, Việt Nam faced many challenges because of the ‘war syndrome’ between Việt Nam and the US still remained and was unable to go away in a day or two. In addition, to negotiate a trade agreement with the US, there were provisions that Việt Nam had to consider carefully, or even change laws to meet US requirements. Both countries still had to deal with the aftermath of the war, such as finding missing people, mixed-blood children, people in re-education camps.

Therefore, during my first days as a Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States, one of my main tasks was to change the public opinion and thoughts of the American people about Việt Nam, and gradually eliminate ‘Việt Nam syndrome’. At that time, I was active in many places, through many activities of sending messages of peace, co-operation, innovation and international integration of Việt Nam.

In August 1995, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs  Lê Mai assigned me the mission to come to Orange County, California, the US to meet and talk to the people here about the situation of Việt Nam about the Việt Nam-US relationship, thereby verifying public opinion and news in this locality.

This was not only a difficult and sensitive mission but also requires wit and bravery when coming to speak in front of more than 500 people with different perspectives about Việt Nam, about the relationship between the two countries. I determined that I had to really try my best to get the job done; conveying Việt Nam’s peace message to everyone. And when I did my job well, from debating, noisy reactions, and even objections, people there finally turned to ask questions and have constructive and kind discussions.

How do you assess the development of Việt Nam-US relations at present compared to 25 years ago?

It’s totally different. In the economic field, in 1994, bilateral trade reached a modest figure of about US$400 million, in 2019 it reached nearly $70 billion, an increase of more than 130 times.

In recent years, trade relations between Việt Nam and the US have begun to take off. Việt Nam has continuously experienced a trade surplus and the US has become Việt Nam’s largest export market.

Clearly, the trust between the people and senior leaders of the two countries has been significantly improved, which can be seen through high-level visits between the two countries.

Therefore, I believe that in the future, relations between the two countries will develop very well. In particular, Việt Nam and the US established a comprehensive partnership in 2013, strengthening and expanding co-operation in all fields, from politics, diplomacy, economics, investment, to defence, security, culture, education, science and technology, overcoming war. In addition to co-operation and rapid development in recent years, the two countries share the goal of peace, stability and development in Southeast Asia in particular and the world in general. I believe this goal in the future will continue to be maintained and developed.

Currently, Việt Nam’s priority issues are economic development, science-technology and access to the US market, especially high technology development. I would like to emphasise the priority of Việt Nam-US economic co-operation in developing high-tech fields such as renewable energy, clean and sustainable energy, smart city development, and high-tech agriculture, high-tech industry. However, Viet Nam needs to overcome obstacles to attract US investment in this area, especially paying special attention to overcoming the limitations of the law.

Similarly, the US  wants to join Việt Nam in maintaining peace, stability and order in Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific. Therefore, the relationship between Việt Nam and the US will continue to develop. — VNS

What does the future hold for relations between Vietnam and US?

Looking back on 25 years of Vietnam-US relations: The role of US Senators

US and Việt Nam now can call each other friends: US Ambassador

New momentum for US-Viêt Nam trade relations

Over 5,000 Myanmar seafarers stranded on ships due to Covid-19 #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Over 5,000 Myanmar seafarers stranded on ships due to Covid-19

Jul 12. 2020

By Eleven Media

More than 5,000 Myanmar seafarers are stranded on ships running in international sea territory, said San Oo, Chair of Myanmar Seafarers’ Employment Services Federation (MSESF).

They are stuck on ships as international airlines are suspended and cannot make crew change. Ships are banned in some countries and entries are banned, he said.

Seafarers, who want to change shifts with the seamen with expired employment contracts, are unable to board the ships.

“We felt distress as we cannot go back to our homes though our contracts are expired. Our families are worried about us and it makes us feel depressed,” said Captain Win Naing Nyunt.

Although some seamen can go home, they are costing a lot in the time of COVID-19 outbreak as they have to stay in quarantine centers, he said.

Seafarers from big shipping companies can go home and seafarers from small shipping companies are stuck at sea.

About 1,000 seafarers are taken back using relief flights under the arrangement of shipping companies and Myanmar embassy.

About 200 Myanmar seafarers returned home via Kawthoung port.

About 200,000 seafarers are stranded on ships across the world as international airlines are suspended.

Rage grows over ‘painful stab at press freedom’ with ABS-CBN franchise denial #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Rage grows over ‘painful stab at press freedom’ with ABS-CBN franchise denial

Jul 12. 2020

By Inquirer News

MANILA, Philippines — The outrage against the rejection of a new 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN grew louder on Saturday as more groups added their voices of protest against the House committee vote that finally closed all the network’s free-to-air radio and television stations.

The Malacañang Press Corps, which covers President Rodrigo Duterte and the Office of the President, deplored the “blatant and arrogant abuse of power” as shown in the House franchise committee’s 70-11 vote on Friday.

“This is a warning to the press: Do not offend the powers that be. One less watchdog is one step toward tyranny,” the group said in a statement.

More, not fewer, media organizations are needed, especially during a pandemic to inform the public of the dangers of the coronavirus and to make government accountable for its missteps in handling the health crisis, it said.

The group said it supported ABS-CBN’s workers.

“We stand in solidarity in their fight against this state-backed repression of private media,” it said.

“History is never kind to tyrants,” it added.

Necessity in democracy

The Defense Press Corps also denounced the franchise denial, saying: “In our view, the House of Representatives has done a disservice to their constituents and the entire nation, placing their own sentiments above the Filipinos’ constitutionally guaranteed right to information and allowing themselves to be used in muzzling the free press from speaking often unpalatable truths.”

“A free press is a necessity in any democracy and those who seek to silence the truth-tellers are complicit in letting tyranny reign,” it added.

The company continued to air a few of its television and radio programs on its cable subsidiary, Skycable, which is accessible only with paid subscriptions. ABS-CBN was shut down when its old franchise expired on May 4. It petitioned the Supreme Court to allow it to continue broadcasting while Congress was deciding on its franchise application.

The franchise committee on Friday rejected ABS-CBN’s franchise application, citing, among others, the “cloud of doubt” over the Filipino citizenship of the company’s chair emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III and the network’s use of Philippine depositary receipts which allegedly allowed foreign ownership of the media entity disallowed by the Constitution.

The committee said ABS-CBN allegedly sold its digital TV Plus boxes illegally and it also allegedly used tax shields and the franchise of Amcara Broadcasting without congressional authority.

In a statement, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines slammed the vote, calling it “a painful stab at press freedom.” It was a “dark day for journalists,” the 46-year-old group said.

Eroding trust in gov’t

“The decision deprives the Filipino people of an independent source of information when millions are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. It obliterates the livelihood of thousands of journalists and media workers who risk their lives each day to keep the public informed,” the group said.

Reporters of the Philippine Daily Inquirer also expressed solidarity with their ABS-CBN colleagues.

They said the vote against the franchise undermined the “true role of a free press: an institution duty-bound to ferret out the truth, while lifting up the marginalized sectors of society.”

“Journalists should never be the de facto publicists of politicians. Journalists are watchdogs of the government and society, armed with critical thought, as well as fair, truthful reporting to help people make informed choices about the world they live in,” they said in a statement.

The former leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said the decision not to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise will further erode the public’s trust in government.

“The President’s threats to close the station are a matter of public record. Now that the matter of the franchise has been dealt a final blow by the Lower House, can our people be blamed for the perception that Congress, supposedly a fiercely independent body of the people’s representatives, has bent over in subservience to the President? Does this not damage our people’s trust in the workings of their government?” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said.

TUCP rep’s vote

Various labor groups also protested the committee decision, which jeopardized the livelihood of 11,000 workers, and demanded one labor representative in the panel to explain why he voted to deny the franchise.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Rep. Raymond Mendoza’s vote was a complete turnaround from his position in May when he said the closure of the broadcast giant was “mean-spirited and unwise.”

“TUCP as a trade union center is for a proworker renewal of franchise. If their representative in Congress voted yes for the denial, the Nagkaisa labor coalition will ask for an explanation,” Nagkaisa chair Sonny Matula told the Inquirer on Saturday.

A letter obtained by the Inquirer showed that at least until July 6, Mendoza still advocated a proworker franchise even as he expressed concern over the supposed “deliberate misclassification” of ABS-CBN of its talents and other workers who should have been employed on a regular status.

Feeling of betrayal

He had proposed that two board seats of ABS-CBN be given to workers and the network’s employees be allowed to “participate in policy and decision-making processes … affecting their rights and benefits,” Mendoza urged that his proposal be “inserted in a proworker franchise.”

When asked about his vote, he declined to explain.

“The record is there. I won’t say any comment about that. It’s finished,” Mendoza told the Inquirer in Cebu.

Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Jerome Adonis pointed out that each vote cast against the network was a vote against workers and press freedom.

“[TUCP] should explain to the public, most especially to the workers,” Adonis said.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) said there was now a feeling of “disappointment to utter disgust” among workers’ groups toward the TUCP vote.

“We can’t blame many workers for feeling that way …. There is a feeling of betrayal,” FFW vice president Julius Cainglet said.

Sentro secretary-general Josua Mata said Friday’s vote was “a disgusting display of indifference and opportunism.”

“Instead of working on genuine solutions for problematic labor practices in ABS-CBN and across the broadcast industry, the representatives that voted did so for their own personal benefit, in accordance with the wishes of Malacañang,” he said, referring to President Duterte’s oft-repeated threats that he would block the franchise.

Ill-timed decision

Cebu City Representatives Raul del Mar of the north district and Rodrigo Abellanosa of the south district—said the committee decision was ill-timed as businesses were closing down and people were losing their jobs and going hungry.

“The decision shutting down the ABS-CBN is very inhumane, absolutely out of sense and timing,” said Abellanosa in a statement.

Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia told the Inquirer that many issues were raised against ABS-CBN but “one of the most serious” was the company’s alleged “artful dodging” of tax payments through corporate layering and tax havens. Garcia was part of the technical working group (TWG) that recommended the rejection of ABS-CBN’s franchise application.

Aside from Garcia, the TWG was composed of Representatives Xavier Jesus Romualdo of Camiguin and Stella Quimbo of Marikina. Quimbo dissented.

—With reports from Jovic Yee, Leila B. Salaverria, Patricia Denise M. Chiu, Connie Fernandez-Brojan and Ador Vincent Mayol

From legendary activist to longest-serving Seoul mayor, a prominent leader’s life ends abruptly #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

From legendary activist to longest-serving Seoul mayor, a prominent leader’s life ends abruptly

Jul 12. 2020Photo credit: YonhapPhoto credit: Yonhap

By Ock Hyun-ju
Korea Herald

Park Won-soon, 64, left his mark in South Korea’s civic activism as an avid activist and human rights lawyer, even before he was elected Seoul mayor in a 2011 by-election. He was voted to a third term in 2018, becoming the longest-serving mayor of the country’s capital, home to nearly 10 million people.

A member of President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party of Korea, Park had been considered a potential presidential candidate in the 2022 election. He had also not been shy in his ambitions to run for the highest office.

Park’s political career, however, came to an abrupt end as he was found dead Friday in an apparent suicide. It was just two days after a former secretary filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.

Born in 1956 as the sixth child of a poor farmer family in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, Park was a bookworm who had many dreams in his childhood, he recalled.

He was kicked out of the prestigious Seoul National University in 1975 for attending a memorial event for a pro-democracy activist, and jailed for four months. He graduated from Dankook University, passed the bar exam in 1980 and started his career as a prosecutor.

Less than a year later, he became a lawyer defending political activists, which he continued through the 1980s and into the 1990s.

As a lawyer, Park defended a woman sexually harassed in the 1990s to win Korea’s very first sexual harassment conviction. He had labeled himself a feminist, publicly advocating for gender equality on many occasions.

His life as a civic activist began in 1994 when he helped launch the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a nongovernmental organization fighting to tackle the country’s social and economic inequalities.

He was also a founding member of an organization of progressive lawyers — Lawyers for a Democratic Society — and the Beautiful Foundation, which promotes community service and fair trade.

As an activist, Park was at the forefront of grassroots movements — from urging voters to reject corrupt politicians to protecting minority stakeholders’ rights infringed upon by corporate interests — vocally representing the marginalized.

As mayor of the capital city, Park put an emphasis on improving the people’s livelihoods, tackling economic inequality and resolving urban problems in a departure from carrying out development-focused projects, which many of his predecessors used to promote their political profile.

Park openly supported the candlelit protests during which millions of people poured into streets in central Seoul in late 2016 and early 2017 demanding the ouster of President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. The monthslong demonstrations led to the removal of Park from office.

Known for his hardworking and detail-oriented character, the last policy project Park himself announced was a “Green New Deal” initiative seeking to reduce the city’s carbon emissions and generate jobs in the green industry on Wednesday.

“I have driven a quiet revolution in the past years,” Park said at a meeting with reporters on Monday. “It has been time to restore lives and dreams of citizens who had been pushed to the edges of the city.”

Korean child porn operator’s US extradition denied #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Korean child porn operator’s US extradition denied

Jul 06. 2020

By Ko Jun-tae
The Korea Herald

A South Korean national who operated the world’s largest child pornography website will not be sent to the US to face trial there, a local court ruled Monday, rejecting a US request for his extradition.

The Seoul High Court, at its third and final hearing on the high-profile extradition case, said that there are justifiable reasons not to extradite Son Jong-woo, the mastermind behind the US-based child porn website Welcome to Video. It is in the national interest to keep Son in Korea and further the ongoing probe into the makings of child and adolescent pornography, it added.

“It is important to consider that local investigative efforts could face roadblocks if Son is extradited to the United States. (…) It is desirable for South Korea to exercise its jurisdiction over his case.”

Following the decision, Son was set free from a detention center.

The 24-year-old has been wanted by US authorities since a US federal grand jury indicted him in 2018 on a total of nine charges, including producing, advertising and distributing child pornography, as well as conspiracy and money laundering.

According to the US Justice Department, Son’s porn site contained more than 250,000 videos, or around 8 terabytes of child pornography, making it “the largest child sexual exploitation market by volume of content.”

Son was arrested in Korea in March 2018 following a joint investigation among the Korean, US and British authorities. The same year, he was sentenced by a local court to 18 months in prison for producing and circulating images of child sexual abuse.

The child porn site operator has remained in detention after completing his prison sentence on April 27, as the extradition process opened upon the US Justice Department’s request last year.

Son’s case came to public attention when his father filed in May a public petition on the website of the presidential office, not to extradite Son to the US where he would face much stronger punishment.

In an apparent bid to block Son’s extradition and the possibility of facing harsher punishment in the US, the father even had filed a complaint against Son with the prosecution for violation of the law on concealing criminal proceedings. It is one of the nine charges Son is sought after by the US and one that he didn’t face in his trial here.

Son is suspected of collecting 400 million won ($334,378) in virtual currency for providing videos of child sexual exploitation to some 4,000 people on the dark web over a period of two years and eight months starting in July 2015.

The investigation into the money laundering charge will kick off soon, which could lead to additional prison sentence.

“The decision should not be seen as exonerating Son,” the Seoul court said in the ruling. “We hope Son to actively cooperate with the investigation and be given the right punishment for his crimes.”

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)

Eight million locusts have entered Nepal, consuming hundreds of hectares of crops #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Eight million locusts have entered Nepal, consuming hundreds of hectares of crops

Jul 02. 2020Locusts feast on long beans at Loharaula in Buddhabhumi Municipality, Kapilvastu. Manoj Paudel/TKPLocusts feast on long beans at Loharaula in Buddhabhumi Municipality, Kapilvastu. Manoj Paudel/TKP

By Kathmandu Post

Changing wind directions are likely to bring in even more locusts in the days to come, officials warn.

Lal Bahadur Kewat of Lohraula in Buddhabhumi Municipality, Kapilvastu was busy transplanting paddy on Monday when his neighbour informed him that a swarm of locusts had descended on his vegetable farm.

By the time Kewat reached his farm, his green beans and bitter gourds on one-and-a-half katthas of land had already been destroyed.

“Everything was completely ravaged. I just cried looking at the loss,” said Kewat. “We [farmers] are being hit from everywhere.”

Kewat had taken a loan of Rs20,000 for his vegetables, which had just begun to bear fruit. With green beans and bitter gourds in season, he had hoped to earn Rs150,000.

“It’s all gone,” said Kewat, who has a family of six to feed.

Farmers in Kapilvastu have lost most of their crops to a plague of locusts that arrived from India on Sunday and Monday. According to Daya Shankar Kewat, a farmer in the district, crops worth more than Rs1 million have been destroyed.

Even as farmers are grieving over their losses and officials have yet to estimate the damages done by the migratory locusts, the country is bracing for another locust assault, with more swarms headed to Nepal over the next few days, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

The first swarm of locusts, which had entered the country on Saturday morning, have already wrought havoc on a number of districts, especially in the Tarai. Since then, the locusts have quickly spread to 27 districts, including districts as high as Khotang, Okhaldhunga, Rukum West, Mustang and Solukhumbu.

These large swarms are regularly breaking off and forming smaller groups and flying haphazardly in the sky, according to the Locust Information Centre at the Agriculture Ministry, formed on Sunday to keep track of the swarms and find ways to contain them.

As per the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Management Centre’s initial estimates, around seven to eight million locusts have entered Nepal. Currently, over three million are believed to be actively flying around Nepali skies in groups that can potentially damage crops, after others died off or got separated from their large swarms. The Centre, on Wednesday afternoon, issued an alert warning farmers of swarms of locusts living along the Nepal-India border that could enter Nepal given favourable winds.

According to Subedi, who also heads the Centre’s information centre, five large swarms have been sighted in Bara, Parsa, Sarlahi, Bhairahawa and Kapilvastu.

On Wednesday, a large swarm of locusts was seen moving towards Dhaulagiri Base Camp, flying along the Myagdi river.

“Some bugs have been seen in Dhaulagiri Municipality. A big swarm is marching towards the mountains,” said Thamsara Pun, chairperson of Dhaulagiri Municipality. “We have not yet seen locusts devouring crops but we have asked locals to create smokes and chase them away.”

A small group has reached Lete in Mustang after breaking off from a bigger swarm in Pokhara.

“We have not seen large swarms capable of damaging crops, but there are small numbers of locusts in all settlements,” said Gyannath Dhakal, the chief district officer of Myagdi. “If the number increases, we will mobilise the communities to kill the bugs.”

The country’s weather, which had been impacted by westerly winds coming from the Arabian Sea in the last few days, will receive southeasterly winds for at least the next three days, according to the special weather bulletin from the Meteorological Forecasting Division.

This change in wind direction is likely to coincide with the locust swarms in India’s Bhagalpur and Motihari and another group flying towards Champaran district from Kushinagar. These swarms are likely to enter Nepal, according to an alert from the Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Management Centre.

“Relying on the wind direction and information from Indian officials, we can predict that more swarms are likely to enter Nepal,” said Ram Krishna Subedi, senior plant protection officer at the Centre. “We are constantly tracking their movement and have alerted the public.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is considered the most dangerous of all migratory pest species in the world.

The entry of locust swarms into the country is the latest of three threats—after the fall army worm and the Covid-19 pandemic—to pose a significant threat to Nepal’s food security. Food insecurity has been compounded by virus containment measures such as the lockdown, which has disrupted production and supply chains.

When the locusts entered Nepal on Saturday, there were no initial reports of agricultural damage, except in Sainamaina Municipality, Rupandehi. But in the last few days, locusts swarms numbering a few hundred thousands have ravaged crops in several districts.

Locust swarms have destroyed crops in 590 hectares in Dang district alone, according to the Ghorahi Agriculture Knowledge Centre.

In Karnali Province’s Salyan, farmers have been struggling to save crops like maize and other vegetables. According to Bir Bahadur Basnet, a farmer in Chhatreshwori, farmers have started guarding their farms, fearing a locust attack. Locals have lit fires and are banging pots to keep the locusts at bay, said Basnet.

“Last month, there were army worms and now there are locusts,” said Dev Bahadur Roka, another farmer. “We are struggling to save these crops. How will we survive?”

According to the FAO, an adult desert locust can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, which is about two grams every day.

“A swarm measuring one square-kilometre in size contains about 40 million locusts, which can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people,” says the FAO.

In Makwanpur district, swarms have destroyed maize crops in 30 to 50 hectares, according to Subedi.

As per the latest data available as of Wednesday evening, Rupandehi district had the largest swarm numbering nearly 2.5 million, followed by Makanwapur where a swarm of nearly one million is still alive and feasting.

“Damages have also been reported in Chitwan, but the biggest threat is for Dang, Pyuthan and Arghakhanchi districts where large swarms have migrated from Bhairahawa and Kapilvastu,” said Subedi. “Maize crops are mostly under attack as most of these places have maize in their fields.”

The Centre has also said that these flying bugs are not immature as reported earlier due to their pinkish appearance, but adult locusts. However, government officials say the swarms have not caused devastating damage yet, as such large groups could have done, because overcast conditions are slowing down their march and making them inactive.

So far, farmers have been fighting the pests on their own by banging pots and burning smoke, among other containment measures.

“We have not yet moved to spraying pesticide because our farms and settlements are mostly attached and pesticides can leave harmful effects on locals,” said Subedi. “If the situation worsens, we will use all possible means to control these insects.”

Manoj Paudel from Kapilvastu, Biplav Maharjan from Salyan, Sanju Poudel from Rupandehi, Ghanshyam Khadka from Myagdi, and Durga Lal KC from Dang contributed reporting. 

Eleven Media reporter from Nay Pyi Taw sued for Facebook comment about Covid-19 #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Eleven Media reporter from Nay Pyi Taw sued for Facebook comment about Covid-19

Jul 02. 2020

By ELEVEN MEDIA

Nay Pyi Taw – The government has filed a lawsuit against Nay Pyi Taw-based reporter Aung Ko Ko from Eleven Media Group under Section 68 (a) of the Telecommunications Law for writing a post on Covid-19 on his Facebook account.  

The suit was launched Ottarathiri Township Court in Nay Pyi Taw on July 1.

Police Captain Ye Aung from the Central Investigation Department, as the plaintiff, lodged a complaint to the court saying that the reporter’s remark on Facebook that the Ministry of Health “underreported and delayed” news releases related to Covid-19 situation in Myanmar and that the reporter spread misinformation with intent to harm the State image.

“When our country started to see the Covid-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health and Sports delayed issuing its new releases…..For this, I am concerned about possible infections and deaths among the public. Therefore, I was sued for writing the comment that pin-pointed the relevant organizations. Although I told the truth, I will face prosecution,” said Reporter Aung Ko Ko. 

The CID investigated Aung Ko Ko’s Facebook account and tried to sue him at the court under Section 27 of the Natural Disaster Management Law. But after the instruction, the law was changed and he was sued under Section 68 (a) of the Telecommunications Law. 

Aung Ko Ko previously worked at Eleven Media officers in Yangon before moving to capital city Nay Pyi Taw. He was granted bail on July 1. 

“Our Ottarathiri Township Court accepted the case (No.147/2020). As bail can be granted in such a case, depositing two guarantee notes worth Ks500,000 each,” said Information Officer May Su Mon Kyaw. 

The next trial set for July 16. 

Wai Phyo, Eleven Media Group’s Policy Director said Myanmar Press Council had been informed of the case as it is a direct lawsuit without going through the Council.

Landslide in Kachin kills 62 #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Landslide in Kachin kills 62

Jul 02. 2020

By Eleven Media

KACHIN – A devasting landslide at the old jade mining site near Whaykha Village, Hseikmu Village-tract, Hpakant Township, Kachin State, killed at least 62 people this morning.

Thirteen others still missing at mid morning, according to a local official.

Nearby residents said the landslide occurred after dumped soil fell into an old pit 1,000 feet below, downing those in the vicinity of the pit.

“Now, we have recovered 62 bodies. Thirteen are missing. The number may grow. Rescue work is going on. Aid and rescue groups are arriving,” said Village Administrator Kyaw Min.

According to media reports, around a hundred people were in the area at the time fled the 10-feet landslide wave.