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December 2019 International Affairs

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  • UAE and Oman sign MoU to enhance trade & economic cooperation
    Current AffairsThe UAE federal export credit company, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) with the Export Credit Guarantee Agency of Oman (Credit Oman) to enhance trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

    The signing took place during the 10th AMAN UNION General Assembly, held in Muscat.

    The MoU was signed by Massimo Falcioni, CEO at ECI and Sheikh Khalil bin Ahmed Al-Harthy, recently appointed CEO at Credit Oman, in the presence of senior officials from both the institutions.

    AMAN UNION is a professional forum assembling Commercial & Non-commercial Risks Insurers & Reinsurers in Member Countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and of the Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation.

  • Egypt frees ex-army chief arrested after challenging President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in presidential poll
    Egypt has released from jail a former military chief of staff arrested in 2018 after he tried to challenge President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a presidential poll.

    "General Sami Anan has been set free," the official told a news agency on condition of anonymity.

    Anan's announcement constituted "direct incitement against the armed forces with the intent of causing a rift between it and the great Egyptian people".

  • FATF seeks more information from Islamabad on action against madrassas run by terror outfits
    Global watchdog for terror financing, FATF has sought more clarifications and data from Pakistan on actions taken against madrassas belonging to proscribed outfits.

    The Paris-based FATF, which kept Pakistan on the Grey List for an extended period till February 2020, had warned in October that Islamabad would be put on the Black List with Iran and North Korea, if it did not comply with the remaining 22 points in a list of 27 questions. Pakistan submitted a report comprising answers to 22 questions to the FATF on December 6.

    The FATF's Joint Group has sent 150 questions to Pakistan, seeking some clarifications, s and most importantly actions taken against the madrassas belonging to the proscribed outfits.

    The FATF said Pakistan must demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all UN-designated terrorists like Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammad founder Maulana Masood Azhar, and those acting for or on their behalf.

    The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

  • Voting underway in Uzbekistan to elect new Parliament
    In Uzbekistan, voters are heading to the polling stations in its first parliamentary election since a new leader ushered in an era of reform after years of isolation and authoritarian rule.

    The election is the first in the nation of 33 million since Mirziyoyev took power in late 2016 following the death of strongman Islam Karimov, who had run the former Soviet republic as a police state for 27 years.

    Mirziyoyev has been lauded for doing away with many of Karimov's authoritarian excesses, releasing some political prisoners and opening up tourism and foreign investment.

    A new electoral code is in place and the changes require 30 percent of party candidates to be women. The election will see a contest between five political parties.

    A total of 500 international observers, including 12 from India, will monitor the polls.

  • 122 Chinese nationals detained in Nepal
    Nepal police detained 122 Chinese nationals for engaging in suspicious activities.

    They were held from various parts of Kathmandu.

    That detained Chinese citizens were illegally staying and engaged in some suspicious activities.

    Further investigation is underway.

    According to media reports detained Chinese nationals were overstaying their tourist visas and suspected to be involved in illegal economic activities.

  • French army carries out first-ever drone strike during Mali operations
    France's armed forces said it had carried out a drone strike for the first time, during operations in Mali at the weekend.

    40 terrorists were killed in this strike.

    The drone strike happened during a follow-up operation in which another seven terrorists were killed.

    The strike came just two days after the French army announced it had finished testing the remotely-piloted drones for armed operations.

  • China attacks US for 'weaponisation' of outer space
    China warned that the US was turning the cosmos into a battlefield, after Washington announced a new military arm called the Space Force.

    US President Donald Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which Act created a new branch of the US military.

    China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, these actions from Washington strongly violate the international consensus of the peaceful use of outer space. He said, it also poses a direct threat to outer space, peace, and security.

    Geng called for the international community to adopt a prudent and responsible attitude to prevent outer space from becoming a new battlefield.

    The Space Force will be the sixth formal force of the US military, after the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.

  • UAE and Oman sign MoU to enhance trade & economic cooperation
    The UAE federal export credit company, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) with the Export Credit Guarantee Agency of Oman (Credit Oman) to enhance trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

    The signing took place during the 10th AMAN UNION General Assembly, held in Muscat.

    The MoU was signed by Massimo Falcioni, CEO at ECI and Sheikh Khalil bin Ahmed Al-Harthy, recently appointed CEO at Credit Oman, in the presence of senior officials from both the institutions.

    AMAN UNION is a professional forum assembling Commercial & Non-commercial Risks Insurers & Reinsurers in Member Countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and of the Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation.

  • China to lower import tariffs on over 850 products from January
    China will lower import tariffs on over 850 products, including frozen pork, from January next year.

    The lowered tariffs may help ease the pressure on the country's depleted pork supply.

    China has been hit by a severe pork shortage after African Swine Fever tore through the country's pig herds.

    According to official statistics, more than a million pigs have been culled due to the disease, and prices of the staple meat have more than doubled.

    Tariffs on frozen pork to drop from 12 per cent to 8 per cent from January 1.

    Other products which will have lower import tariffs include food products -- such as fish, cheese and nuts -- pharmaceuticals and a range of chemical products.

    According to the statement, Goods from countries including New Zealand, Peru, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Iceland, Australia, South Korea, and Pakistan will also be subject to even lower levies under re-negotiated bilateral trade agreements.

  • Burkina Faso mourns as terrorists kill 35 civilians
    The West African country of Burkina Faso was in mourning after terrorists killed 35 civilians.

    The two attacks in the north were some of the deadliest assaults in nearly five years of violence.

    seven soldiers and 80 militants also died in the simultaneous attacks on the town of Arbinda and its military base in Soum province.

    The President declared 48 hours of national mourning, amid worldwide condemnation of the attack.

  • Saudi Arabia, Kuwait end dispute over shared oil fields
    Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have ended a nearly five-year-long dispute over shared oil fields and have agreed to resume oil production from the divided Neutral Zone, but stressed this would not change their OPEC commitments to crude oil production cuts.

    The allied Gulf Arab nations signed the agreement in Kuwait City on 24 December, 2019. About 300,000 barrels per day were being pumped from the area before the dispute halted production in early 2015.

    The divided zone, located between the two neighbouring countries' land borders, can produce up to half-a-million barrels per day.

    The agreement will not affect Saudi Arabia's commitments to reduce its crude output to 9.7 million barrels of per day.

  • Iranian fighter jet crashes
    An Iranian fighter jet went down on 25 December, 2019 in the north of the country, near the border with Azerbaijan.The fate of the pilot was not immediately known.

    The fighter jet was a recently overhauled MiG-29. The pilot was test flying the plane and had taken off from the Tabriz air base in northwestern Iran.

  • Iraq's parliament approves new election law amid protests
    Iraq's parliament approved a new election law on 24 December, 2019 aimed at giving political independents a better chance of winning seats in parliament. The new law changes each of the country's 18 provinces into several electoral districts, with one legislator elected per 100,000 people.

    It also prevents parties from running on unified lists, which in the past have helped them easily sweep all the seats in a specific province.

    Instead, seats will go to whoever gets the most votes in the electoral districts.

    Drafting a new election law has been a key demand for the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite south since October 1. They have already forced Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to resign late last month.

    Iraqi security forces have responded with lethal force, killing at least 400 people. Iraq's 329-member parliament was elected in May 2018.

  • Russia: Only country with hypersonic weapons
    Russia is the only country in the world that has hypersonic weapons.

    The first unit equipped with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle is set to go on duty in Dec 2019, while that the air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic missiles already have entered service.

    The missile flies 10 times faster than the speed of sound, has a range of more than 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles).

  • 30 killed in Central Republican Clashes
    Aleast 30 people were killed in fighting between militiamen and traders in a restive district of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, CAR.

    A local imam, in PK5 district said, thirty bodies were brought to the mosque. A security official also confirmed the same number, without providing any further details.

    Fighting began after traders in the district took up arms to oppose taxes levied by militia groups.

    The CAR is one of the world's poorest and most volatile countries.

    It has been gripped by sporadic violence since 2014, after the then-president Francois Bozize was ousted in a coup.

  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu declares victory in Likud party leadership race
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory in a leadership primary in his right-wing Likud party, ensuring he will lead it into March elections.

    Around 57,000 Likud members cast their ballots across the country throughout yesterday.

    A Likud tally gave Netanyahu 72.5 per cent of votes in Thursday's party ballot, against 27.5 per cent for challenger Gideon Saar, who conceded defeat

    Previous elections held in April and September saw Likud deadlocked with the centrist Blue and White party - with neither able to form a government.

  • Israel rains Gaza Strip with airstrikes after rocket fire
    Israel carried out airstrikes against the Gaza Strip overnight in response to a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave.

    The Israeli army said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was at a campaign event in Ashkelon, north of Gaza last evening when a "projectile" was fired from the strip.

    Army said the projectile was intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system. In response, planes and helicopters hit several Hamas terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.

  • Sri Lanka’s parliament speaker denies accusations of political bias
    Sri Lanka’s parliament speaker Karu Jayasuriya has denied accusations of political bias following the stand he took on the recent arrest of MP Champika Ranawaka.

    The speaker had made a public statement and also visited the MP in prison as the normal procedure before arresting an MP had not been followed.

    A decision was taken at the party leaders’ meeting that the IGP and other relevant officials would be summoned to issue a warning.

    MP and former minister Ranawaka was arrested last week over a road accident in 2016 in which a youth was seriously injured.

    He was granted bail by the Colombo Magistrate’s Court this week while his driver was remanded.

    Meanwhile, an arrest warrant has been issued against another MP yesterday over making false claims during a press conference organized before Presidential elections held last month.

  • Anti-govt protesters in Iraq blocked roads and bridges in capital Baghdad
    In Iraq, anti-government protesters blocked roads and bridges in capital Baghdad and the country's south after torching several buildings overnight.

    The demonstrators are protesting against the entire political class and have vented their anger against leaders who are negotiating to nominate an establishment insider as the next prime minister.

    Smoke and flames from burning tyres in Nasiriyah, Basra and Diwaniyah blocked major roads and bridges across the Euphrates all night.

    In Nasiriyah, demonstrators set the provincial government building ablaze overnight for a second time since the protests began, and protesters also torched the new headquarters of a pro-Iran militia in Diwaniyah.

    Iraq has been rocked by protests since October 1, prompting Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi to resign last month. Government offices and schools remain closed across almost all of Iraq's south.

    Pro-Iranian factions have for several weeks touted outgoing higher education minister Qusay al-Suhail for the post of the prime minister, but his nomination was opposed by President Barham Saleh.

    The protesters want a technocratic premier who has had no involvement in the political system set up after the US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

    Around 460 people have been killed and 25,000 wounded in nearly three months of clashes between protesters and security forces.

  • China, Russia and Iran to hold naval drills in Gulf of Oman
    China, Russia and Iran hold trilateral naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman. The move done by three countries in the volatile Middle East.

    The trilateral exercise will be held in the Gulf of Oman from December 27 to 30.

    The Chinese Navy sent a guided missile destroyer to participate in the drills adding that the exercise aims to deepen the exchanges and cooperation between the navies of the three countries and demonstrating the goodwill and ability of the three parties to jointly maintain world peace and maritime security.

    The Gulf of Oman borders Iran and Pakistan on the north, Oman on the south, the United Arab Emirates on the west and faces the Gujarat coast.

    This joint maritime exercise is normal military arrangement of these countries. The commentaries in the western media on the trilateral drill focussed on tensions between Iran and the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as ties among Iran, China and Russia, all identified as competitors by the US as the three powers showcase their unity.

  • Longest UN climate talks ended in Madrid with no deal on carbon markets
    Current AffairsThe longest UN climate talks ended in Madrid with no deal on carbon markets.

    Delegates from almost 200 countries failed to come up with more ambitious targets to cut green house gases at UN climate talks.

    It failed to fulfill the terms of the 2015 Paris agreement prompting UN chief Antonio Guterres to lament a "lost opportunity" to fight global warming.

    The two-week long negotiations which extended till yesterday saw no agreement on major issues such as Article 6, loss and damage, and long term finance.

    Under the Article 6 of the Paris agreement signed in 2015, the countries had agreed to set up a global carbon market system to help developing countries decarbonise their economies at lower cost.

    The countries have tried and failed to agree the rules governing this mechanism.

    Despite holding the longest climate talks ever in 25 nearly annual editions, the sleep-deprived negotiators, left one of the thorniest issues for next year (2020) summit COP26 in Glasgow in UK - how to deal with carbon emissions.

    Few countries came to this year's talks with the plans to reach the Paris agreement, even as the EU agreed its long-term target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

  • Sri Lankan government formally releases its new National Policy Framework
    Sri Lankan government formally released its new National policy Framework meant to guide the government ministries and departments in implementing their policies.

    The framework titled ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor’ is aimed at achieving fourfold outcome of being a productive citizen, a contented family, a virtuous, disciplined and just society and a prosperous nation.

    Among the main objectives are maintaining a 6.5 per cent or higher GDP growth rate under the macroeconomic programme, achieving a per capita income exceeding 6,500 US dollar during 2020 to 2025.

    The policy further elaborates to keep the unemployment rate below 4 per cent and the inflation rate below 5 per cent, as well as to manage the government revenue and expenditure to keep the budget deficit below 4 per cent of GDP.

    The policy mandates to implement a national and international partnership based on principles of priority to national security, friendly and non-aligned foreign policy.

    It also mandates an administration free from corruption and new constitution that fulfills people's wishes.

  • China suspends additional tariffs on US goods after two sides announce major breakthrough in trade war
    China suspended additional tariffs on US products after Washington and Beijing announced a major thaw in their trade war.

    China's finance ministry announced today that it will suspend the planned addition of 10 percent and 5 percent tariffs on some US imports.

    China will continue to suspend additional tariffs on US-made autos and spare parts.

    The move follows US President Trump's cancellation of new tariffs on Chinese products as part of a phase one trade deal.

    China's commerce ministry had agreed with the US a mini-deal that includes a progressive rollback of tariffs and the protection of intellectual property rights.

    The two sides have yet to sign the agreement, which represents a major breakthrough in the 21-month standoff between the world's two largest economies.

  • Poland left out of EU's agreement
    The European Union (EU) left Poland out of a 2050 climate neutrality agreement.

    The agreement is part of a plan to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent.

    Poland was left out as it demanded more funds for economic transition and support for nuclear power.

    The country resisted the plan during hours of intense debate and was left out of the new commitment.

  • Iraq warns against 'escalation' after attacks on US interests
    Baghdad cautioned against an escalation after attacks on US interests in Iraq prompted Washington to warn of a decisive response against Iran.

    Since October 28, ten rocket attacks have targeted areas where US soldiers and diplomats are stationed.

    These attacks have not been claimed, but the United States has blamed Iranian-backed Shiite paramilitary groups.

    Mr Mahdi said unilateral decisions will trigger negative reactions that will make it more difficult to control the situation and will threaten Iraq's security, sovereignty and independence.

  • First batch of 21 officers of CIAA of Nepal begin training on ‘Prevention of Fraud, Bribery and Corruption’
    The first batch of 21 officers of Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) of Nepal started their 6-day training on ‘Prevention of Fraud, Bribery and Corruption’ at Gujarat Forensic Sciences University in Gandhinagar.

    This is a tailor-made course specially designed at the request of Government of Nepal. The course will strengthen the institutional capacity of CIAA to curb corrupt practices and enhance good governance in Nepal.

    The course mainly focuses on identifying factors for corruption, its impact on the economy and methodology for its detection and prevention.

    The training would also enhance skills of CIAA Officers for IT-based investigations, sharpen their analytical capabilities and help them learn new methodologies which would empower them to detect, prevent and prosecute corrupt and fraudulent individuals.

    The course is fully supported by the Government of India under Ministry of External Affairs’ Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme.

    The second batch of 21 CIAA officers is scheduled to undergo training from January 11 to 16, 2020.

    The prestigious Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar trains forensic experts in the area of Forensic Science, Crime Investigation, Security, Behavioral Science and Criminology.

  • US urges North Korea to come to negotiating table
    The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun today urged Pyongyang to come to the negotiating table.

    He slammed Pyongyang's demands as hostile and unnecessary, adding that the US had a goal not a deadline.

    His comments in Seoul come days after North Korea conducted missile tests at a satellite launch site.

    North Korea has set an end-of-year deadline for the US to come up with a new denuclearisation deal that would involve significant sanctions relief. It said the US could expect a Christmas gift if it did not comply.

    US President Donald Trump will not lift sanctions until North Korea fully abandons its nuclear programme.

    US did not make an acceptable offer, it would find a new way.

  • Bangladesh celebrates Victory Day
    Bangladesh is celebrating Victory Day. It marks the day the country attained liberation from Pakistan and became an independent nation in 1971 under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

    President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid tributes to the martyrs of the Liberation War by placing wreaths at the National Mausoleum in Savar as the day broke on.

    For the first time, a 30-member Indian Army band participated in Victory Day Parade in Dhaka.

    On 16th December in 1971, the commander of the Pakistani forces in Bangladesh, General AAK Niazi along with more than 90,000 soldiers surrendered before the Indian Army and Muktibahini in Dhaka, heralding the birth of a new nation - Bangladesh.

    The victory over the Pakistan army was achieved after a nine-month-long Liberation War carried by the people of Bangladesh and supported by the Indian Armed Forces.

    Close to three million people of Bangladesh and nearly 2,000 Indian soldiers lost their lives during the War. 16th December marks a historic occasion not only for Bangladesh but for India and the entire world.

    The day changed the history and geography of South Asia and cemented the deep ties of two countries which share Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and innumerable other great personalities as revered icons.

  • UNESCO adds 'nuad Thai' massage technique to heritage list
    Thailand’s famous 2000-year-old massage, Nuad Thai was added to UNESCO’s prestigious heritage list.

    Nuad Thai is an intense form of massage in which the body is pulled and rotated well with the help of the thumb, elbow, knees and feet.

    Thai massage originated in India and was brought to Thailand about 2,500 years ago by doctors and monks who carried its secrets for generations.

  • US opposes lifting key sanctions against North Korea
    United States opposes a draft resolution proposed by China and Russia that would terminate UN sanctions on key North Korean exports.

    The US called the measure premature at a time when Pyongyang is taking provocative actions and is refusing to meet with US officials to discuss denuclearisation.

    The US President Donald Trump remains committed to making progress toward commitments he made with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at their First Summit in Singapore in June 2018.

    The draft resolution circulated to UN Security Council members would terminate sanctions on North Korean exports including textiles, seafood and statues with the intent of enhancing the livelihood of the civilian population.

    It would also lift a ban on North Koreans working overseas and terminate a decision to repatriate all those earning income abroad by December 22.

    China and Russia made these and other proposals 16 days before Kim's end-of-December deadline for the United States to come up with new proposals to revive nuclear diplomacy.

    Negotiations faltered after the US rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North's nuclear capabilities at Kim's second summit with Trump last February.

  • Bangladesh tops WEF Gender Gap Report in South Asia
    Bangladesh is the only country to feature in the top 50 of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on 17 December, 2019. It is the best performing country in South Asia in reducing the gender gap for women.

    Bangladesh retains its position at the 50th rank in the index that measures gender gap in political, economic and social spheres in a country.

    According to the Index, Bangladesh has marginally improved its score by 0.4 percentage points but falls two positions compared to its last status.

    The average estimated annual income of women is only 40 percent of the men in Bangladesh.

    In the economic sphere women participation in workforce in Bangladesh went up from 34 percent in 2017 to 38 percent in 2018.

    The male participation ratio in the workforce for the same period is 84 percent.

    The largest gender disparity in the world remains in political empowerment.

    The WEF Gender gap report points out that going by the current rate of improvement it will take 71 years to fully close the gender gap in the South Asia region.

    Overall for the world, it will take 99.5 years to close the gap.

    The WEF has been bringing out the Global Gender Gap Index since 2006 to measure the relative gap between men and women on health, education, economy and politics. This year the report provides ranking for 153 countries.

  • UN chief urges world to share refugee burden equitably
    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on countries to take joint responsibility to care for a surging number of displaced people.

    Guterres said it is a moment to build a more equitable response to the refugee crisis through a sharing of responsibility.

    The meeting is the first of its kind, pooling together heads of state, government ministers but also business leaders, humanitarians and refugees themselves to offer ideas and pledges for more efficient support.

    At the end of 2018, nearly 71 million people were living in forced displacement due to war, violence and persecution, including nearly 26 million people who had fled across borders as refugees.

  • US House of Representatives votes to impeach President Trump
    The US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump. He is accused of abuse of power and obstruction of the Congress, related to his dealings with Ukraine. He has become the third US president in history to be impeached by the House.

    Earlier, the House of Representatives where the Democrats are in a majority, held a lengthy debate whether to impeach him on these charges.

    The vote for the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, was passed 230-197 and the second, for obstruction of Congress, 229-198.

    Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were other two former presidents who had been impeached.

    As the voting took place President Trump was addressing a campaign rally in Michigan, along with Vice-President Mike Pence.

    The Republican Party has a majority in the Senate, making it highly unlikely the president will be removed from office when senators cast their votes.

  • Australia declares state of emergency as heatwave fans bushfires
    In Australia's New South Wales, authorities have declared a seven-day state of emergency as a record heatwave fanned unprecedented bushfires raging across the region.

    The state of emergency is due to catastrophic weather conditions.

    Authorities predicted more intense heat today and later in the week.

  • Poland: SC attacks govt’s proposal to overhaul judicial system
    In Poland, the Supreme Court has attacked the government’s latest proposal to overhaul the judicial system.

    The Court warned that the plan could lead to Poland leaving the European Union.

    The proposals would allow judges to be dismissed if they questioned the government's judicial reforms.

    The proposals threaten the primacy of European Union law and could be an attempt to gag the judiciary.

    Under the proposals put forward by the socially conservative Law and Justice party government, judges can be punished for engaging in political activity.

    Poland has already been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding rules for judges.

    The warning from the Apex Court is the latest salvo in a bitter battle over the rule of law in Poland that dominated the ruling Law and Justice party’s first term in office.

  • Protests over pension reform plans continue in France
    In France, thousands of protesters took to the streets in a pension reform standoff that has sparked nearly two weeks of crippling transport strikes.

    The government reiterated that it will not give in to union demands to drop the overhaul.

    Police in Paris fired teargas after protesters hurled projectiles at them.

    Teachers, hospital workers and other public employees joined transport workers for the third day of marches since the dispute began on the 5th of this month.

    The government has insisted it will push through a single points-based pension system and end the current patchwork of 42 separate schemes that offer early retirement to many in the public sector.

    The new system will be fairer and more transparent, improving pensions for women and low earners, in particular.

  • US imposes sanctions on two Iranian Judges
    United States on 19 December, 2019 imposed sanctions on two Iranian Judges.

    Revolutionary Court judge Abdolghassem Salavati had sentenced a recently freed American and also sent more than 100 people to jail for political reasons.

    The Treasury Department also targeted another Revolutionary Court judge, Mohammad Moghisseh, who it said has presided over trials of artists and over anti-regime social media postings.

    The sanctions make any transactions with the two judges a crime in the United States, with any assets they may have blocked.

  • Studying security aspect of Hambantota port deal with China says Sri Lankan President
    They are studying the security aspect of Hambantota port deal with China to ensure that the port control remains with the government.

    Such ports are vital strategic centre and only Sri Lankan government should decide which military ships enter its territory.

    Even the Chinese side has agreed that security operations should remain with the Sri Lankan government and the issue was discussed with Chinese special envoy who visited him early this month.

    They are not worried about the commercial aspect but handing over security aspect can create issues with world powers.

    The Sri Lankan President reiterated his call for investment from countries including India and Japan.

    He called for investment from Indian high tech companies in the IT sector and to use the potential within India.

    Their aviation department will discuss the Mattala airport as a second international airport and currently there are no discussions of Indian involvement.

    To a query on Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India, the government has been trying to bring them back and refused to comment on citizenship amendment bill is an internal matter of India.

  • Donald Trump becomes third US president in history to be impeached
    Donald Trump has become the third US President in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives, setting up a trial in the Senate that will decide whether he remains in office.

    The House voted on two charges - that the President abused his power and that he had obstructed Congress.

    Nearly all Democrats voted for the charges and every Republican against.

    President Trump's Republicans control the Senate so it is highly unlikely he will be removed from power.

    The President was confident that he will be fully exonerated in a Senate trial.

    Earlier, the House of Representatives where the Democrats are in a majority, held a lengthy debate whether to impeach him on these charges.

    The vote for the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, was passed 230-197 and the second, for obstruction of Congress, 229-198.

    Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were other two former Presidents who had been impeached.

  • International Human Solidarity Day is observed on 20 December
    International Human Solidarity Day is observed on 20 December every year to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity. The day celebrates unity in diversity. The day reminds the governments to respect their commitments to international agreements. It also encourages new initiatives for poverty eradication.

    It encourages debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) including poverty eradication.

    On 22 December 2005, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) identified solidarity as one of the fundamental and universal values and designated 20 December of each year as International Human Solidarity Day.

    On 20 December 2002, the UNGA established the World Solidarity Fund. It was set up in February 2003 as a trust fund of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

    The fund aimed to eradicate poverty and promote human and social development in developing countries.

  • British Parliament votes to approve Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal
    Britain's newly-elected parliament has given its initial backing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit divorce deal with the European Union.

    MPs voted 358 to 234 - a majority of 124 - in favour of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill in the House of Commons.

    The Bill will now go for further scrutiny in Parliament.

    The bill would also ban an extension of the transition period - during which the UK is out of the EU but follows many of its rules - past 2020. The UK PM said the country was now "one step closer to getting Brexit done".

    Mr Johnson insists a trade deal with the EU can be in place by the end of the transition period, but critics say this timescale is unrealistic.

    The government says it will get the bill into law in time for the 31 January Brexit deadline.

  • Sheikh Hasina opens 21st National Council of ruling Awami League
    The ruling Awami League President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 2-day long National Council of the party on 20 December, 2019. This is the 21st National Council of the Awami League.

    She hoisted the national flag and released pigeons and balloons to mark the occasion.

    At the inaugural function in Dhaka, Sheikh Hasina pledged to build a hunger and poverty-free Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

    The inauguration took place at the Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka where Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had given his famous 7th March address in 1971.

    This is also the same venue where more than 90 thousand troops of Pakistan army surrendered before the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, the liberation force of Bangladesh after being defeated on December 16, 1971.

    Thousands of Awami League workers from across the country are participating in the National Council of the party.

    National Council is the highest decision making the body of the party which elects the office bearers of the Awami League.

    The main function of the National Council will be held 21 December, 2019.

    The stage for the function is built in the shape of a boat which is also the symbol of the Awami League.

  • US House passes North American trade deal labour rules to get tougher
    US House of Representatives approved a new North American trade deal that includes tougher labor and automotive content rules but leaves $1.2 trillion in annual US-Mexico-Canada trade flows largely unchanged.

    The House passed legislation to implement the US-Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) 385-41, with 38 Democrats, two Republicans.

    The deal with the Trump administration, Canada and Mexico to strengthen labor enforcement provisions and eliminate some drug patent protections.

    This modernized trade deal between our North American trading partners will strengthen the US auto industry and the auto manufacturing supply chain.

    The changes negotiated by Democrats which include modestly tighter environmental rules will also set up a mechanism to quickly investigate labor rights abuses at Mexican factories.

    The US International Trade Commission estimated in April that USMCA boosts the US economy adding 176,000 jobs over 15 years but may reduce vehicle assembly in the United States.

    Around 40% to 45% of vehicle content must come from high-wage areas paying more than $16 an hour - namely the United States and Canada.

    Some vehicles assembled in Mexico mainly with components from Mexico and outside the region may not qualify for US tariff-free access.

  • Trade ministers from Japan, China, and South Korea to meet in Beijing
    Trade ministers from Japan, China, and South Korea will meet in Beijing on 22 December, 2019 to discuss free trade pacts.

    The ministers will talk about cooperation to get 16 Asia-Pacific nations to conclude negotiations and sign a free trade agreement by the end of next year.

    The proposed framework is known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

    The ministers will also discuss accelerating negotiations on a planned trilateral free trade agreement among their countries.

  • Phase One trade deal with China to be signed very shortly: Donald Trump
    The United States and China will very shortly sign their so-called Phase One trade pact.

    The two countries have just achieved a breakthrough on the trade deal and they will be signing it very shortly.

    The Phase One deal was announced earlier this month as part of a bid to end the months-long tit-for-tat trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

    Under the deal, the United States will agree to reduce some tariffs in exchange for a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products.

  • Brexit coins ordered again for new January 2020 deadline
    The UK government has ordered a new set of commemorative coins to mark the latest Brexit deadline of January 31, 2020 after having to melt down thousands with missed deadlines this year.

    The Royal Mint had commissioned special coins to mark the UK's scheduled exit from the European Union (EU) first by March 29 this year and then 31 October, 2019, both deadlines which were missed amid parliamentary deadlock.

    After being forced into a meltdown of those coins, the UK Treasury has now commissioned a new set for the latest deadline- which looks more promising after MPs voted decisively in favour of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons on Friday.

  • Sheikh Hasina elected Awami League President
    The 21st National council of the ruling Awami League of Bangladesh elected Sheikh Hasina for the next three years as Party President for the ninth consecutive term. She has been leading the Awami League since 1981.

    It also elected Obaidul Quader as general secretary for second term.

    Qadir is the Road Transport Minister in the Sheikh Hasina government.

    While there are no major changes in the structure of the top decision making body of the Awami league, it has inducted Shajahan Khan, Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman as three new presidium members of the party.

    The National Council of the Awami League will also elect its next central working committee.

    The number of women in the central committee is expected to be increased from the current level of 15 as the Bangladesh Constitution requires that women representation in all political parties must by at least 33 percent by 2020.

  • Eight West African nations rename common currency to Eco
    Eight West African countries have agreed to change the name of their common currency to Eco and severed their earlier currency CFA Franc's links to former colonial ruler France.

    The CFA Franc was initially pegged to the French franc and has been linked to the euro for about two decades. Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo currently use the currency.

    All the countries are former French colonies with the exception of Guinea-Bissau. The announcement was made during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer and France's former main colony in West Africa.

    Macron hailed it as a "historic reform", adding the Eco will see the light of day in 2020. The deal took six months in the making.

    The CFA franc, created in 1945, was seen by many as a sign of French interference in its former African colonies even after the countries became independent.

  • Saudi Arabia Minister condemns shooting incident by Saudi man in Florida
    Current AffairsSaudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Dr Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz has condemned the shooting incident by a Saudi man in Florida, United States.

    The Minister noted that the’ perpetrator does not represent the Saudi people and does not represent the Islamic religion.

    The incident caused ‘great pain for the Saudi people and the leadership of the Kingdom’, and its people do not approve this disgraceful act.

    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America have long-standing historical ties since their establishment by the founder late King Abdulaziz Al Saud and the American President Roosevelt and that these ties will not be affected by such a transient incident.

    Saudi Arabia is a key US ally in the Middle East and the two countries have strong defence ties.

  • Worldwide arms sales rise by nearly 5% in 2018
    Worldwide arms sales rose by nearly five per cent in 2018. According to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the market is dominated by the United States.

    The turnover of the 100 biggest arms manufacturers came to 420 billion dollars.

    US manufacturers alone accounted for 59 per cent of the market, or a turnover of 246 billion dollars, up 7.2 per cent on the previous year.

    Russia was second in the rankings for arms production, with 8.6 per cent of the market, just ahead of the United Kingdom on 8.4 per cent and France on 5.5 per cent.

    The study did not include China, for lack of sufficient data, but SIPRI estimated that there were between three and seven Chinese businesses in the top 100 arms manufacturers.

    The world's largest arms maker remains the US firm Lockheed Martin, as it has been since 2009. Its turnover last year was 47.3 billion dollars.

    Its sales alone account for 11 per cent of the world market.

  • US asks UN to discuss risk of North Korea 'provocation'
    United States has called a United Nations Security Council meeting this week on the risk of North Korean provocation as Pyongyang demands US concessions by a year-end deadline.

    The United States, which holds this month's presidency of the Security Council, is scheduling the session instead of a planned meeting on human rights in North Korea, one of the world's most authoritarian states.

    This week's meeting will provide a comprehensive on recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, including recent missile launches and the possibility of an escalatory DPRK provocation. The Security Council also met last week behind closed doors to discuss 13 missile tests by North Korea.

    That meeting was organized by European nations, which condemned North Korea's actions.

    But the request for a new session shows growing alarm by the United States on North Korea which has demanded that Washington propose a new offer by December 31 to kick-start nuclear negotiations.

  • UN Chief calls for global efforts to fight corruption
    United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for global efforts to fight corruption.

    Every year trillions of dollars, the equivalent of more than five per cent of global Gross Domestic Product, are paid in bribes or stolen through corrupt practices. It seriously undermines the rule of law and abet crimes such as the illicit trafficking of people, drugs and arms.

    Tax evasion, money laundering and other illicit flows divert much-needed resources from schools, hospitals and essential infrastructure and funds that are essential to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Corruption threatens the well-being of our societies, the future of our children and the health of our planet.

    It must be fought by all, for all.

    Later this month, governments will meet in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, to review progress and prepare for the first-ever UN General Assembly Special Session on Combating Corruption in 2021.

  • Driverless vehicles being tested on 5G technology in UAE
    In United Arab Emirates, driverless vehicles are being tested on 5G technology ahead of a planned deployment of such vehicles on roads.

    Telecommunications Regulatory Authority will expand 5G network to important sectors such as transport, health and education.

    According to industry reports, 5G-enabled driverless vehicles will be able to have more efficient and quick communication with each other and traffic infrastructure, which will help to minimize traffic jams and bottlenecks.

    The 5G technology can also enable these vehicles to identify traffics conditions and potential dangers quickly.

    The Director General of TRA added that hospitals would need 5G for conducting remote surgeries and universities would need it for research.

  • UAE, US joint military exercise 'Iron Union 12' commences
    `Iron Union 12`, a joint military exercise between the ground forces of the UAE and the United States, commenced in the presence of Major General Saleh Mohamed Saleh Al Amiri, UAE Commander of Land Forces and Lieutenant General Terry Ferrell, Commander of US Army Central, USARCENT.

    Spanning a few weeks, 'Iron Union 12' will see the two sides take part in joint military cooperation to enhance combat and tactical capabilities.

    The joint military exercises of the UAE Armed Forces with fraternal and friendly countries takes place in a manner consistent with latest developments, and reflects the UAE Armed Forces' determination to stand firmly against all threats and challenges facing the region.

  • Trump meets with Russian official as impeachment advances
    President Donald Trump on 10 December, 2019 met with the Russian Foreign Minister at the White House just hours after articles of impeachment were unveiled against him and a day after a Justice Department watchdog report declared the FBI was justified in opening an investigation into ties between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 campaign.

    Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Washington, his first since May 2017, was overshadowed by the introduction of Ukraine-related impeachment articles by the House and Mr. Trump’s complaints about the watchdog’s report.

    Mr. Lavrov met earlier in the day with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned against Russian interference in U.S. elections. He repeated denials of Russian interference, calling them “baseless.”

    Special counsel Robert Mueller, who took over the Trump-Russia investigation from the FBI, determined that Russia interfered in the election in an effort to help Trump beat his 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

  • Algeria: Court jailed two former PMs for corruption cases
    In Algeria, a court jailed two former Prime Ministers for corruption. The verdicts come ahead two days before of presidential election.

    Ahmed Ouyahia, who was Prime Minister for four times, received a 15-year jail sentence and Abdelmalek Sellal, who was twice premier, was jailed for 12 years.

    Both were accused of abusing authority in a car manufacturing embezzlement scandal. The court also handed 10-year prison terms to two former industry ministers, and sentences ranging from three to seven years to five prominent businessmen.

    It was the first time since Algeria's independence from France in 1962 that ex-prime ministers were put on trial.

  • Britain General Elections: Voting begins to elect new Parliament
    Britain general election is underway to elect new parliament in Britain.

    A snap general election was called to break the Brexit deadlock that has gripped Britain ever since the 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union, EU.

    A total of 3,322 candidates are contesting the 650 seats of Parliament this year. Britain's impending exit from the EU played a key role in the campaign this time.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson from the Conservative party has called for a big majority so that he can swiftly pull Britain out of the EU next month.

    The main opposition Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn promises a new referendum on Brexit as well as a re-nationalization of utilities.

  • US warns North Korea of consequences of weapons test
    The United States has warned North Korea of consequences if it goes ahead with its threat of a weapons test in the New Year.

    At the UN Security Council, US ambassador Kelly Craft voiced concern that North Korea is indicating it would test intercontinental ballistic missiles which are designed to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons. She said missile and nuclear testing will not bring Pyongyang greater security.

    Hinting at further sanctions, Craft said if events prove otherwise Security Council must be prepared to act accordingly.

    Craft ruled out meeting North Korea's demands for an offer in the year's final weeks, saying the United States and the Security Council have a goal, not a deadline. But she said the United States wanted to work toward a deal and they are prepared to be flexible in how they approach this matter.

  • US, Mexico, Canada sign USMCA trade deal
    The representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada inked a revamped version of their regional trade pact after months of negotiations.

    The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will now go to the countries' legislatures for final approval.

    The accord is meant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal in place since 1994.

    US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the modified agreement was definitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.

  • US House Judiciary Committee unveils articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump
    The US House Judiciary Committee has unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The first article revealed by committee Chief Jerry Nadler accuses Trump of abuse of power and the second accuses him of obstructing Congress.

    The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote this week on whether to send the formal charges to the full House of Representatives. If the House approves the articles, the Senate would hold a trial to decide whether to remove the president from office.

    The White House said, Trump would address the two baseless impeachment charges during the Senate trial, adding that he expects to be fully exonerated because he did nothing wrong.

  • U.S. Senators propose bill to clamp down on World Bank lending to China
    Three Republican Senators have tabled legislation in the United States Senate to prevent World Bank from lending to China on projects that would be used against religious and ethnic minorities.

    Introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley, Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton on 11 December, 2019, the Senate Bill instructs the US representatives at the World Bank to vote against and use best efforts to deny any loan or extension to countries that significantly exceed the graduation thresholds or that are designated as a country of concern for religious freedom.

    Grassley and Cotton also introduced an additional measure, S.3017, which is a companion to the Accountability for World Bank Loans to China Act introduced in the House Representatives.

    That legislation codifies Congress’ support for Administration efforts to graduate China from the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) lending program.

  • 2 plus 2 India-US dialogue to be held on Dec 18: MEA
    The Second India-US 2 Plus 2 Ministerial Dialogue will be held in Washington DC on 18th of December 2019.

    Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will lead the Indian delegation.

    They will meet their US counterparts for a comprehensive review of cross-cutting foreign policy and defence and security issues in India-US relations.

    In addition, both sides will exchange views on salient regional and global issues.

  • Trial run on Dhaka-Gangtok, Dhaka-Darjeeling bus routes starts
    The trial run on Dhaka-Gangtok and Dhaka-Darjeeling bus routes started.

    Official spokesperson of the Road transport department confirmed that two buses with about 35 passengers including officials of the Road Transport department left Dhaka.

    The trial run was inaugurated by Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation Chairman Ehsan Elahi.

    The bus will return back to Dhaka on December 16.

    Darjeeling and Gangtok are popular tourist destinations for Bangladeshi visitors. Currently, travellers to these destinations have to change bus on the India Bangladesh border before proceeding to Gangtok or Darjeeling.

    When fully operational, the direct bus service will provide a smooth travel experience to the travellers.

    Private operators have expressed their willingness to operate bus services on this route.

    Darjeeling via Siliguri is around 450km and Gangtok about 500km away from Dhaka.

    Currently, buses operate on five cross-border routes between Bangladesh and India -- Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka, Dhaka-Agartala-Dhaka, Dhaka-Sylhet-Shillong-Guwahati-Dhaka, Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata-Agartala and Dhaka-Khulna-Kolkata-Dhaka.

  • UK General Election: PM Johnson’s Conservative party headed for majority in exit poll
    In Britain, the ruling Conservative party led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is all set to win overall majority in the snap elections held.

    According to the exit poll, Boris will get 368 out of 650 seats in the lower House of Commons.

    Labour will get 191, the Liberal Democrats 13 and the Brexit Party none.

    The final results are expected.

    This is likely to pave the way for Britain to leave the EU next month.

  • US- China modest trade agreement
    The United States and China are close to finalising a modest trade agreement that are set to kick in on de-escalating their 17-month old trade war.

    The US Chamber of Commerce, Head of International Affairs, Myron Brilliant said they are close to a deal. He said the administration has agreed to suspend Trump's plans to impose tariffs on 160 billion US Dollars in Chinese imports to reduce existing tariffs.

    In return, Beijing would buy more US farm products, increase Americans companies' access to the Chinese market and tighten protection for intellectual property rights.

    The deal awaits final approval from President Donald Trump. However, Trump on Twitter declared he is getting very close to a big deal with China.

    that the economic and trade teams of both sides have maintained close communication. He offered no additional details to release.

    The two sides are negotiating a so-called Phase 1 agreement as part of the effort to resolve their sprawling trade dispute.

  • INTACH to provide consultancy services in Nepal
    The government of India has deployed Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to provide consultancy services for Post-Earthquake reconstruction of 11 Cultural Heritage sites in Nepal.

    An agreement in this regard was signed by Dr. Ajay Kumar, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India and Dr. C.T. Mishra, Member Secretary, INTACH in Kathmandu.

    On this occasion, Indian Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri said Nepal is one of the wonderful places on the earth which has extent civilization going back to thousands of years.

    It is the commitment and partnership of India to join hands with the people and Govt. of Nepal to utilize the best possible services in India and internationally for the reconstruction of cultural heritage sites.

    Ambassador Puri also said the services of these organizations will be used to ensure that cultural heritage preserved from hundreds of years is available to the future generations.

  • Mike Pompeo warns Iran of 'decisive response' if US interests are harmed in Iraq
    After a series of rocket attacks on Iraqi bases, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran of a decisive response if United States interests are harmed in Iraq.

    US has expressed mounting concern about the flurry of attacks on Iraqi bases used by US troops.

    Two rocket attacks this week targeted a compound near Baghdad International Airport, which houses US troops.

    Iran must respect the sovereignty of its neighbours and immediately cease its provision of lethal aid and support to third parties in Iraq and throughout the region.

    Pompeo pinned the blame for the latest attacks directly on Iran's proxies.

  • US House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Trump
    The US House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

    The final charges against Mr. Trump are, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. This action by the Judiciary Committee sets up a historic vote, making him only the third President in the US history to be impeached. During more than 12 hours of debate in the House Judiciary Committee.

    Republicans sought to position Trump's actions as reasonable within his authority to advance US anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.

  • 15 Indian-origin politicians elected to House of Commons in UK
    In the United Kingdom, 15 Indian-origin politicians have entered the House of Commons in the historic general election.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative party registered a thumping majority.

    Indian-origin candidates across both, the ruling Conservative and Opposition Labour parties registered equally strong results of seven wins each.

    Around a dozen MPs retained their seats alongside some new faces, making the number in the UK's lower house to 15.

    The former UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is likely to remain in Johnson's top team in the new Cabinet, after her comfortable win.

    Gagan Mohindra and Claire Coutinho won for the Conservative Party, Navendru Mishra for Labour and Munira Wilson for the Liberal Democrats is among the first-timers.

    Among other winners are former International Development Minister Alok Sharma, Shailesh Vara, Goan-origin Suella Braverman, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Preet Kaur Gill, Virendra Sharma among others.

  • US and China reach trade agreement calling for structural reforms & tariff concessions
    The US and China have announced the phase one trade agreement, bringing a big breakthrough after over 18-month-long bruising trade war between the world's two largest economies threatening to roil the global economy.

    The phase one of the deal requires structural reforms and other changes to China's economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange.

  • World Energy Conservation Day is observed on 14 December
    Conservation of energy means avoiding unnecessary use of energy and to use at least energy in order to save the energy sources for future uses.

    It is the duty of every individual to include energy conservation in their behaviour and to make energy conservation plan more effective.

    In India, the National Energy Conservation Day is observed on 14 December every year.

    The day is organized by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under the Ministry of Power.

    The day aims to showcase the achievements of the country in energy efficiency and conservation. National Energy Conservation Day celebrations are held in New Delhi.

    BEE observed National Energy Conservation Week from 9 to 14 December 2019, in order to drive mass awareness about the importance of energy efficiency and conservation.

    The day aims to create awareness about the use, scarcity and the impact of energy conservation on the sustainability of global eco-systems.

    The day focuses on concentrating on significant issues that will be faced by mankind with respect to energy.

    The day raises awareness regarding the need for energy conservation, energy efficiency and frugality in energy use. The most important known sources of energy are Coal, Petroleum, Products, Nuclear energy.

    National Energy Conservation Awards Programme was conferred to the winners by BEE on the day.

    The Ministry of Power (MoP) organized programmes to sensitize the school children towards Energy Efficiency and Energy.

  • Mike Pompeo warns Iran of 'decisive response' if US interests are harmed in Iraq
    After a series of rocket attacks on Iraqi bases, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran of a decisive response if United States interests are harmed in Iraq.

    US has expressed concern about the attacks on Iraqi bases used by US troops. Two rocket attacks this week targeted a compound near Baghdad International Airport, which houses US troops.

    Pompeo said Iran must respect the sovereignty of its neighbours and immediately cease its provision of lethal aid and support to third parties in Iraq and throughout the region.

    Pompeo blamed for the latest attacks directly on Iran's proxies.

    Trump administration, which is close to Iran's adversaries Saudi Arabia and Israel, has been trying to counter Tehran's influence around the region, including through sanctions aimed at blocking all its oil exports.

    The US last week imposed sanctions on three leaders of the Shiite paramilitary force Hashed al-Shaabi, accusing them of taking part in the deadly crackdown on nationwide protests.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, a close ally of Iran who also enjoyed cordial relations with the United States, resigned after the two months of demonstrations in which around 460 people have died.

  • Former Sudanese President Omar-al-Bashir sentenced to two years in jail for corruption
    In Khartoum, a court convicted former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of money laundering and corruption charges sentencing him to two years in a minimum-security lock-up.

    This is the first verdict in a series of legal proceedings against al-Bashir, who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict.

    The verdict comes a year after Sudanese protesters erupted in revolt against al-Bashir's authoritarian rule.

    During his three decades in power, Sudan landed on the US list for sponsoring terrorism and the country's economy was battered by years of mismanagement and American sanctions.

    Al-Bashir has been in custody since last April when Sudan's military ousted him after months of nationwide protests.

  • US Supreme Court to hear cases involving release of President Trump's tax returns & financial records
    The US Supreme Court has decided to hear cases involving the release of President Donald Trump's tax returns and financial records.

    Trump has been seeking to block access to his tax returns and other records in cases brought by New York prosecutors and Democratic-controlled committees in the House of Representatives.

    Lower courts have ruled that he must turn over the documents but lawyers for the president appealed to the nation's highest court, arguing that as chief executive, he has blanket immunity.

    A Supreme Court ruling in the case would come less than six months before Americans go to the polls in November, 2020.

  • UN climate summit talks dragged beyond deadline
    Impasse persists at the UN climate summit as the talks dragged on beyond the official deadline.s

    Chile's Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt, who is chairing the two-week talks in Madrid, urged officials from almost 200 countries to recognize the overall balance of the latest draft agreements.

    Diplomats from rich nations, emerging giants and the world's poorest countries - each for their own reasons - found fault in a draft agreement put forward by Chile.

    The conference has become enmeshed in deep, technical arguments about a number of issues including the role of carbon markets and the financing of loss and damage caused by rising temperatures.

    The United States, which is leaving the landmark Paris climate deal next year, was accused of acting as a spoiler on a number of issues vital to climate-vulnerable nations.

    84 countries have promised to enhance their national plans by the end of next year (2020).

    Some 73 have said they will set a long-term target of net zero by the middle of the century.

  • UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Spain from Dec 2 – 13 Current Affairs
    UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Spain from Dec 2 – 13.

    United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that the world's efforts to stop climate change have been utterly inadequate so far and there is a danger global warming could pass the point of no return.

    The U.N. Chief said the impact of rising temperatures - including more extreme weather - is already being felt around the world, with dramatic consequences for humans and other species. He noted that the world has the scientific knowledge and the technical means to limit global warming, but the political will is lacking.

    Mr Guterres said, he hoped the meeting in Madrid would see governments make more ambitious pledges ahead of a deadline to do so next year. He also said that creating a worldwide market for emissions, which is a key element of the sixth article of the Paris accord, remained one of the most contentious issues for negotiators.

    Delegates from almost 200 countries will try to put the finishing touches on the rules governing the 2015 Paris climate accord at the meeting. Organizers expect around 29,000 visitors, including some 50 heads of State and Government for today's opening, as well as scientists, seasoned negotiators and activists during the two-week meeting.

    According to the United Nations, the conference will include various important events, such as the 25th Session of the Conference of the Parties, the governing body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and also the 15th meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The main task of the conference is said to be taking a few important steps, which are the UN climate change agenda, including dealing with several issues pertaining to the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

  • Saudi Arabia takes over G20 Presidency from Japan
    Saudi Arabia has taken over the G20 Presidency from Japan. It is the first Arab nation to assume the G20 presidency.

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, hailed it as a "unique opportunity" to shape international consensus.

    The G20 presidency, which Saudi Arabia has taken over from Japan, will host world leaders for a global summit in its capital Riyadh on 21-22 November, 2020.

  • International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is observed on 2nd December
    International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is observed every year on 2 December. On this day people share their view towards slavery in writings through opinion pieces, poetry, interviews, short stories, feature articles, and other published material.
    • The day aims to raise awareness of the atrocities of modern slavery.
    • The day highlights the importance to eliminate slavery including sexual exploitation, trafficking in persons, forced marriage, child labour, etc.
    Modern slavery:
    • A report by the United Nations stated that 40.3 million people are in modern slavery. Slavery includes 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.
    • For every 1000 people in the world, there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery. The report also said the 1 in 4 victims are children.
    • Women and girls are affected by forced labour which accounts for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry and 58% in other sectors.
    • On 2 December 1949, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed resolution 317(IV) and adopted Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. The day was marked by the UN to eradicate the contemporary forms of slavery including forced labour, child labour, and trafficking.

  • Putin and Xi launched Russia-China gas pipeline
    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the Siberia pipeline project.

    The pipeline will transport natural gas from Siberia to northeast China. The move aims to boost the economic and political ties between Russia and China.
    Siberia pipeline:
    • The pipeline project shows Russia's attempts in helping China from the financial sanctions imposed by the US over China's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.
    • It is a 3,000-km-long Power of Siberia pipeline.
    • It will transport gas from the Chayandinskoye and Kovytka fields in eastern Siberia
    • The project will generate $400 billion for Russian state coffers.
    • The project began in October 2012 and it was commissioned on 2 December 2019.
    Russia's other plans:
    • Russia is planning to launch two other major energy projects.
    • One project, the Nord Stream 2 undersea Baltic gas pipeline to Germany and the other, TurkStream pipeline to Turkey and southern Europe.

  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on 03 December
    International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on 3 December every year across the world.

    The day aims to raise awareness and develop an understanding to accept people with disabilities.
    • The Day promotes acceptance and compassion on the disability issues of the disabled person.
    • The day aims to provide support for the self-respect, rights and better living of disabled persons.
    • The theme for the year 2019 is Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.
    • The theme focuses on empowering the disabled persons for equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development as anticipated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
    • In 1992, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed the resolution 47/3. The resolution aimed to promote the rights and well-being of disabled persons in all aspects of society.
    • The day was designated to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. UNGA announced 1983-1992 as the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons.

  • Roopun selected as the President of Mauritius
    Mauritius Lawmakers selected former arts and culture minister Pritivirajsing Roopun as the President of the country.

    He will take over the position which was lying vacant since March 2018.
    Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the former President of Mauritius, resigned in March 2018 after the scandal over her use of a credit card to buy luxury personal items.

  • Sundar Pichai has become CEO of Alphabet
    Pichai Sundararajan has been appointed as the CEO of Alphabet. He will replace company co-founder Larry Page as CEO of parent Alphabet Inc.

    Larry Page stepped down as head of Alphabet, Google's parent company. The co-founders of Google Page and Sergey Brin will continue as co-founders, shareholders, and members of the Alphabet's board of directors.
    Sundar Pichai:
    • Sundar Pichai was born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. He is an alumnus of Wharton, Stanford University and IIT Kharagpur.
    • He worked at McKinsey & Co before joining Google in 2004. Pichai took over Android business from its founder Andy Rubin as he was credited for making the Google Chrome browser.
    • He was appointed CEO of Google in August 2015.
    • Masatsugu Asakawa elected as the President of ADB
      Masatsugu Asakawa has been elected as the President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) by the Bank's Board of Governors.

      Mr. Asakawa is currently serving as the Special Advisor to Japan's Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. He will be assuming the office on 17 January 2020. He will be the 10th President of ADB. He will replace Takehiko Nakao.

      Mr. Nakao is on 16 January 2020. Mr. Asakawa will finish the unexpired term of President Nakao that ends on 23 November 2021.
    Masatsugu Asakawa:
    • Mr. Asakawa, 61, has extensive and diverse experience in international finance and development sector.
    • He has a career spanning experience in the field for close to four decades. He has held a range of senior positions at the Ministry of Finance of Japan, including Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs.
    • He has a good professional experience in development policy, foreign exchange markets, and international tax policy.
    • He served as Finance Deputy for the 2019 G20 Osaka Summit and the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Fukuoka, Japan.

  • Mongla and Chattogram port declared as Ports of Call
    Centre has declared Port of Mongla and Chattogram as Ports of Call under Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWT&T) between India and Bangladesh.

    Mongla and Chattogram are declared as Ports of Call under the Coastal Shipping Agreement between India and Bangladesh.

    An MoU, Agreement and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was signed between India and Bangladesh on the use of Chattogram Port &Mongla Ports for the movement of goods to and from India.
    Ports of Call:
    • The Ports of Call in India are Kolkata, Haldia, Pandu, Karimganj, Silghat, Dhubri. Similarly,
    • In Bangladesh, the Ports of Call are Narayanganj, Khulna, Mongla, Sirajganj, Ashuganj, and Pangaon.
    • Port of Call: Port of call is an intermediate stop for a ship on its scheduled journey for cargo operation.
Published on 12/27/2019 5:59:00 PM

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