Nepal Today

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CLOSURE OF FIVE DISTRICTS IMID AND FAR-WST CONTINUES Kathmandu, 17 April” Tharus and communities working for the community closed down five districts in the mid and far-West for the second day Thursday. The bandh brought life to a standstill of the last day of the forced closure. Demands are being pressed for probe into death of a Tharu girl killed by an employer in Lalitpur amid charges of murder. The districts are dominated by the Tharu community. Nnnn UML POLITBURO MEET CONTINUES Kathmandu, 17 April: The extended UML politburo meet continued Thursday morning. The meeting is prearing an agenda for a central committee meet while discussing strategy for second constituent assembly. nnnn UML U--TURN ON APPOINTMENT OF LOKMAN SINGH KARKI AS CIAA CHIEF Kathmandu, 17 April: A politburo meeting of the CPN-UML today decided to withdraw its support to the High Level Political Committee’s proposal to appoint former bureaucrat Lokman Singh Karki as the chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, in a move that could jeopardise the entire political development so far that culminated in current dispensation led by Khil Raj Regmi, which has already swung into action to take the country to vote, The Himalayan Times reports. The U-turn by UML, one of the stakeholders in HLPC, which had endorsed Karki’s name as CIAA chief unanimously, may cause consternation among the four major political forces that had reached an agreement to form the interim election council under Regmi. The first meeting of HLPC, chaired by Unified CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and participated also by UML Chief Jhala Nath Khanal, had unanimously decided to recommend Karki for the top constitutional job. On UML politburo’s decision, former attorney general Badri Bahadur Karki told THT that the move might raise questions about the longevity of the current dispensation led by Regmi, who is also the chief justice and responsible to the four-party mechanism. Nevertheless, the former attorney general asked, “Is UML politburo a Constitutional Council to decide whether to appoint Karki as the CIAA chief commissioner?” Another former attorney general Laxmi Bahadur Nirala said UML’s decision to overturn the HLPC’s recommendation might throw Regmi into a difficult situation. He, however, said that only the CC has the right to recommend Karki for his appointment as the chief commissioner of the constitutional anti-graft body. Nepal Bar Association Vice-president Tikaram Bhattarai linked UML’s decision to retreat from its earlier stance with some ethical issues. “If a partner in the decision backtracks, it could jeopardise the HLPC as a whole,” Bhattarai said, but added that the move should not affect Regmi. After today’s meeting, UML politburo member Pradip Gyawali had told THT that his party had decided not to support the proposal to appoint Karki for CIAA chief, as ‘his name was surrounded by controversies galore’. When asked, Nepali Congress Spokesperson Dilendra Prasad Badu declined to comment on UML’s decision, saying the issue was sub judice. Nnnn FOREIGN AID DISBURSEMENT DROPS Kathmandu, 17 April: Actual foreign aid disbursement dropped marginally to $1.04 billion in the last fiscal year, from $1.07 billion a fiscal year back, according to a report. However, the total commitment including technical assistance from development partners had crossed $1.21 billion in fiscal year 2011-12, The Himalayan Times reports.. Likewise, the priorities of the government and development partners also do not match, the Development Cooperation Report 2011-12 published today revealed. “The Three-Year Interim Plan focuses on infrastructure development, whereas aid flow seems to have been shifted more to social sectors,” said chief of Foreign Aid Coordination Division at the finance ministry Madhu Marasini, adding that aid flow has, however, shown a positive outcome on social indicators, and there is a need to align the priorities of the government and development partners in the future. Sectorwise, education is the largest receiver of foreign aid, according to the report that revealed that education had received $229.04 million foreign aid in fiscal year 2011-12, followed by local development ($154.51 million), road transportation ($116.73 million), electricity ($106.82 million) and health ($85.07 million). But the challenge is that aid in health and agriculture is highly fragmented, and aid in too many slices from too many donors will add high transaction cost and make it difficult for partner countries to effectively manage development. “On average, one donor has 11 line ministries or agencies,” said Marasini, adding that aid flow does not reach districts, where there are more poverty headcounts as the donor support is less targeted in rural areas. “The Central Development Region has the highest number of on-budget projects, whereas Western Development Region has the lowest number of projects including technical assistance,” the report revealed, adding that off-budget aid distribution stands at 23 per cent, whereas some 77 per cent aid flow is on-budget. “The government has a long way to go to bring all aid money in the red book,” Marasini suggested, adding that full entry of aid information into the Aid Management Platform is a key challenge that will not only bring aid into the national system but also enhance mutual accountability. “The new Foreign Aid Policy that will be a major policy departure will address these challenges.” The government has prepared a draft of the new Foreign Aid Policy that will be discussed with development partners at the next consultative meeting, informed finance minister Shankar Koirala, on the occasion. “The government is planning not to accept off-budget aid,” he said, adding that Auditor General has the right to audit foreign aid too, which will make aid flow more transparent. In the short run, the country needs foreign aid to finance development projects. However, in the long run, the country should be able to mobilise internal resources, he added. “Foreign aid has a key role in development but it will be reduced and concentrated on selective areas in the long run.” Nnnn PRESSURE COOKER BOMB SUSPECTED IN BOSTON BOMBING Kathmandu, 17 April: Federal agents zeroed in Tuesday on how the Boston Marathon bombing was carried out — with kitchen pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and other lethal shrapnel — but said they still didn't know who did it and why, AP reports from Boston, . An intelligence bulletin issued to law enforcement and released late Tuesday included a picture of a mangled pressure cooker and a torn black bag the FBI said were part of a bomb. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies repeatedly pleaded for members of the public to come forward with photos, videos or anything suspicious they might have seen or heard. "The range of suspects and motives remains wide open," Richard DesLauriers, FBI agent in charge in Boston, said at a news conference. He vowed to "go to the ends of the Earth to identify the subject or subjects who are responsible for this despicable crime." President Barack Obama branded the attack an act of terrorism but said officials don't know "whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual." Scores of victims remained in hospitals, many with grievous injuries, a day after the twin explosions near the marathon's finish line killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. A 9-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy were among 17 victims listed in critical condition. Heightening jitters in Washington, where security already had been tightened after the bombing, a letter addressed to a senator and poisoned with ricin or a similarly toxic substance was intercepted at a mail facility outside the capital, lawmakers said. There was no immediate indication the episode was related to the Boston attack. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the letter was sent to Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, of Mississippi. Officials found that the bombs in Boston consisted of explosives put in ordinary 1.6-gallon pressure cookers, one with shards of metal and ball bearings, the other with nails, according to a person close to the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe was still going on. The bombs were stuffed into black duffel bags and left on the ground, the person said. DesLauriers confirmed that investigators had found pieces of black nylon from a bag or backpack and fragments of BBs and nails, possibly contained in a pressure cooker. He said the items were sent to the FBI laboratory at Quantico, Va., for analysis. The FBI said it is looking at what Boston television station WHDH said are photos sent by a viewer that show the scene right before and after the bombs went off. The photo shows something next to a mailbox that appears to be a bag, but it's unclear what the significance is. "We're taking a look at hundreds of photos, and that's one of them," FBI spokesman Jason Pack said. Investigators said they haven't determined what was used to set off the explosives. Pressure cooker explosives have been used in international terrorism and have been recommended for lone-wolf operatives by al-Qaida's branch in Yemen. But information on how to make the bombs is readily found online, and U.S. officials said Americans should not rush to judgment in linking the attack to overseas terrorists. DesLauriers said there had been no claim of responsibility for the attack. He urged people to come forward with anything suspicious, such as hearing someone express an interest in explosives or a desire to attack the marathon, seeing someone carrying a dark heavy bag at the race or hearing mysterious explosions recently. "Someone knows who did this," the FBI agent said. The bombs exploded 10 or more seconds apart, tearing off victims' limbs and spattering streets with blood, instantly turning the festive race into a hellish scene of confusion, horror and heroics. The blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard, of Boston, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Medford, and a third victim, identified only as a graduate student at Boston University. Doctors who treated the wounded corroborated reports that the bombs were packed with shrapnel intended to cause mayhem. "We've removed BBs, and we've removed nails from kids. One of the sickest things for me was just to see nails sticking out of a little girl's body," said Dr. David Mooney, director of the trauma center at Boston Children's Hospital. At Massachusetts General Hospital, all four amputations performed there were above the knee, with no hope of saving more of the legs, said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery. "It wasn't a hard decision to make," he said. "We just completed the ugly job that the bomb did." Obama plans to visit Boston on Thursday to attend an interfaith service in honor of the victims. He has traveled four times to cities reeling from mass violence, most recently in December after the schoolhouse shooting in Newtown, Conn. In the wake of the attack, security was stepped up around the White House and across the country. Police massed at federal buildings and transit centers in the nation's capital, critical response teams deployed in New York City and security officers with bomb-sniffing dogs spread through Chicago's Union Station. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that the stepped-up security was a precaution and that there was no evidence the bombings were part of a wider plot. Pressure cooker explosives have been used in Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan, according to a July 2010 intelligence report by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. One of the three devices used in the May 2010 Times Square attempted bombing was a pressure cooker, the report said. "Placed carefully, such devices provide little or no indication of an impending attack," the report said. The Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the 2010 attempt in Times Square, has denied any part in the Boston Marathon attack. Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen gave a detailed description of how to make a bomb using a pressure cooker in a 2010 issue of Inspire, its English-language online publication aimed at would-be terrorists acting alone. In a chapter titled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom," it says "the pressurized cooker is the most effective method" for making a simple bomb, and it provides directions. The tightly sealed pot makes easier-to-obtain but weaker explosives faster and stronger, amplifying the blast and the carnage. Naser Jason Abdo, a former U.S. soldier, was sentenced to life in prison last year after being convicted of planning to use a pair of bombs made from pressure cookers in an attack on a Texas restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood. He was found with the Inspire article. Investigators in the Boston bombing also are combing surveillance tapes from businesses around the finish line and asking travelers at Logan Airport to share any photos or video that might help. "This is probably one of the most photographed areas in the country yesterday," said Boston police Commissioner Edward Davis. He said two security sweeps of the marathon route had been conducted before the bombing. Boston police and firefighter unions announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to arrests. nnnn


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home