Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Edward Snowden Alerts US Citizens on NSA Surveillance Programs

New Delhi (ABC Live): Speaking via teleconference, former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden on Monday called for more public oversight of the U.S. secret surveillance practices and better online security measures to protect the public.
Snowden, who is currently living in Russia under temporary asylum, spoke to an audience of thousands at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. This is his first public appearance to American audience since last summer.
Snowden said the NSA surveillance programs are “setting fire to the future of the Internet.”
“I took an oath to support and defend the (U.S.) Constitution and I saw that the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale,” he said, appearing on video screens with an image of the U. S. Constitution as a backdrop.
“We need public advocates. We need public oversight,” said Snowden. He accused U.S. lawmakers of “cheerleading the NSA instead of holding them to account.”
“There’s a political response that needs to occur, but there’s also a tech response that needs to occur,” said Snowden. He urged the tech companies to further tighten safeguards and called on people like the attendees at the annual festival to step up to help protect the public’s privacy.
“You guys are all the firefighters and we need you to help us fix this,” he told the audience.
Snowden’s disclosures of the NSA surveillance programs since last summer have stirred up controversy and criticism home and abroad and a foreign relations crisis with its allies for the Obama administration. The former NSA contractor is facing espionage charge for his disclosures.
Obama offered a series of proposals to change the NSA’s controversial surveillance practices earlier in January. Highlights of his proposals include pulling back part of the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ phone records.
Obama directed the Justice Department and the intelligence community to develop options for a new approach of the domestic phone collection without the government holding the metadata. They are expected to report back to Obama before March 28.
Source: ABC Live

India’s Pollution Responsible for Himalayas Glacier Melting

New Delhi: Increasing pollution is not only harming Kolkata’s citizens – it’s also a likely contributor to climate change taking place in the Himalayan region.
According to a 2012 report by the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment on air quality in Kolkata, seven out of every ten people in the city suffer from some form of respiratory ailment: not surprisingly, traffic policemen and the city’s thousands of street dwellers are among the high risk groups.
Air pollution, particularly related to diesel fuelled vehicles that jam Kolkata’s roads, is also linked to the city’s unusually high levels of lung cancer.
Meanwhile the government’s own Central Pollution Control Board gives Kolkata and New Delhi the unenviable status of being joint winners of India’s most polluted city prize.
All this is not just bad news for people living in Kolkata and India’s other major urban conglomerations. The increasing air pollution in India’s cities – particularly those in the northern parts of the country – also has an impact on the degree of melt taking place in glaciers in the Himalayas.
Diesel fumes, along with smoke from coal burning, cooking fires and the burning of waste, are among the main sources of particulate matter called soot or black carbon. Recent studies suggest that funeral pyres and even the burning of incense at temples are also contributors to the accumulation of soot.
This black carbon rises into the atmosphere and is driven by winds on to the snow or ice in the Himalayas, darkening the surface and in the process reducing reflectivity and causing the surface to absorb more heat.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), based In Kathmandu, Nepal, is the only trans-boundary organisation looking at climate developments across the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region.
According to ICIMOD estimates, black carbon is likely responsible for a large part – around 30% by some calculations – of glacial melt in the region.
It says most of the black carbon deposited in the Himalayas and in the southern area of the Tibetan Plateau comes from the plains of India, while black carbon on the eastern and northern parts of the Plateau originates in central China.
Bigger harvests
ICIMOD says that while data is limited, studies suggest black carbon may not only be a factor in hastening the melt of mountain glaciers – it could also substantially alter rainfall patters and affect the behaviour of the monsoon.
While many well-organised environmental NGOs and other groups have formed in India in recent years, the environment – and climate change – does not come high on the political agenda.
A late 2013 study by the World Bank and the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) said that up to a million deaths could be avoided each year in the Himalayan region by cutting back on emissions of black carbon and methane.
The study also said that regional yields of crops such as rice and wheat could be significantly improved by reducing black carbon.
“The health of people around the world will improve greatly if we reduce emissions of black carbon and methane”, says Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president.
“Limiting these emissions will also be an important contributor to the fight against climate change.”
Republished in interest to save environment of Earth.
Source: ABC Live

World Economic Forum Selects 15 Indians As Young Global Leaders for 2014

GENEVA, March 11 (ABC Live):the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced here on Tuesday the list of 214 people from over 60 countries who were selected as the Young Global Leaders for 2014.
Among the chosen young individuals who were recognized for their leadership and service to society, half came from the private sector and half from the public sector, including academia, arts and culture, civil society, government, media and non-profit organizations, according to WEF.
With half as females, the young global leaders for 2014 included 17 individuals from East Asia, 46 from Europe, 17 from Latin America, 18 from the Middle East and North Africa, 48 from North America, 17 from South Asia and 19 from sub-Saharan Africa.
There were 14 young indian faces among the total 17 from South Asia, rest 3 are from Pakistan.
South Asia Young Global Leaders for 2014
  1. Pallavi S. Aiyar Author and Journalist The Hindu and Free Lance India
  2. Farhan Akhtar Film Director, Actor, Screenplay Writer, Singer, Producer and Choreographer Excel Entertainment Production House India
  3. Sachin Bansal Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer India
  4. Avani Davda Chief Executive Officer Tata Starbucks Limited India
  5. Mohit Joshi Vice-President and Head, Financial Services and Insurance Unit, Europe Infosys Ltd India
  6. Roshni Nadar Malhotra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer HCL Corporation Ltd India
  7. Vishwarupe Narain Country Head Texas Pacific Group India
  8. Nandini Piramal Executive Director and Head of Human Resources Piramal Enterprises Limited (PEL) India
  9. Rishad Premji Chief Strategy Officer, IT Business Wipro Limited India
  10. Anoop Ratnaker Rao Chief Operating Officer Naandi Foundation India
  11. Chiki Sarkar Chief Executive Officer Penguin Random House India India
  12. Parmesh Shahani Head, Innovation Laboratory Godrej Industries Ltd India
  13. Anurag Thakur MP & National President BJYM (BJP’s Youth Wing) India
  14. Ratheesan Yoganathan Co-Founder and Group Chairman Lebara Group India
  15. Sabeen Mahmud Founder T2F Pakistan
  16. Ali J. Siddiqui Chief Executive Officer Mahvash and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation Pakistan
  17. Mosharraf Zaidi Founder and Campaign Director Alif Ailaan – Time to End Pakistan’s Edu
All those who made the list were chosen from over 2,000 candidates after having been evaluated according to specific criteria including their proven track record and commitment to society.

Source: ABC Live