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January 2019 - International news

  • India to surpass UK in world's largest economy rankings in 2019: PwC
    India is likely to surpass the United Kingdom in the world's largest economy rankings in 2019, to become world's fifth largest economy, according to a report by global consultancy firm PwC.

    The UK and France have regularly switched places owing to similar levels of development and roughly equal populations, India's climb up the rankings is likely to be permanent.

    PwC's Global Economy Watch report projects real GDP growth of 1.6 per cent for the UK, 1.7 per cent for France and 7.6 per cent for India in 2019.

    According to World Bank data, India became the world's sixth largest economy in 2017 surpassing France and was likely to go past the UK which stood at the fifth position.

    The US was the world's largest economy with a size of 19.39 trillion dollars, followed by China at 12.23 trillion dollars at the second place in 2017.

  • Rio de Janeiro will be World Capital of Architecture for 2020: UNESCO
    The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced that the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro will be the World Capital of Architecture for 2020.

    Having defeated Paris and Melbourne, Rio will be the first city to receive the title under a program launched together by UNESCO and the International Union of Architects (UIA) in November 2018.

    The city will host the World Congress of UIA, in July 2020, an event that occurs every three years.

    According to UNESCO, the World Capital of Architecture is intended to become an international forum for debates about pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture.

    As one of the oldest cities in Brazil, Rio has a mix of modern and colonial architecture, with world-renowned sites like the statue of Jesus Christ and contemporary constructions like the Museum of Tomorrow.

  • WEF, annual meet to begin in Davos
    The World Economic Forum, WEF, annual meet will begin in Davos.

    World leaders from across the globe will flock to the ski resort town on the Swiss Alps for five days to discuss what's ailing the world amid fears of the global economy sleepwalking into a crisis.

    The theme of the event would be 'Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution', which would have several India-focused sessions.

    Besides, India's political scenario may hog the limelight, with the event taking place ahead of the national elections.

  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Chad:
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 20 January, 2019 arrived in Chad on a days visit during which diplomatic ties with the African state are expected to be renewed.

    Netanyahu called the visit a "historic" hinting at the formal resumption of diplomatic relations between the countries that Chad had cut in 1972.

    Netanyahu has sought to improve ties with countries in the Arab and Muslim world and said he expected more such diplomatic breakthroughs soon. The one-day visit follows Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno's November trip to Israel.

  • World Economic Forum to begin in Davos on 22nd Jan, 2019 : 
    The annual meet of World Economic Forum (WEF) will begin on 22 January, 2019 in Davos.

    World leaders from across the globe will flock to the ski resort town on the Swiss Alps for five days to discuss what's ailing the world amid fears of the global economy sleepwalking into a crisis.

    The theme of the event would be 'Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution', which would have several India-focussed.

  • Germany sanctions Iranian airline over attacks in Europe: 
    Germany said on 21 January, 2019, it has banned Iranian airline Mahan Air from its airports, in an escalation of sanctions adopted by the European Union against Tehran over attacks on opponents in the bloc.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Cristofer Burger told at a Berlin press conference that the move was necessary to protect Germany's foreign and security policy interests.

  • Nepal’s central bank bans use of Indian currency notes: 
    Nepal's central bank has banned the use of Indian currency notes of Rs 2,000, Rs 500 and Rs 200 denominations.

    Under the new regulation issued on 20 January, 2019, Nepali citizens cannot carry these denominations to countries other than India. Similarly, Nepal is also not allowed to bring such notes from other countries.

    Indian notes of 100 or below, however, are allowed for trading and conversion.

    On December 13, the Nepal Cabinet had decided to publish the notification in the Nepal Gazette not to allow people to carry Indian currency notes above 100 denominations in Nepal.

  • US confirms meeting of its envoy and Taliban in Qatar: 
    United States has confirmed that its envoy is meeting in Qatar with the Taliban, seeking to negotiate an end to the Afghanistan war despite a new major attack claimed by the insurgents.

    Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative on Afghan reconciliation, met in the Qatari capital Doha with Taliban representatives.

    A Taliban spokesman announced the meeting with Khalilzad on 21 January, 2019, saying that the United States accepted an agenda of "ending the occupation of Afghanistan and preventing Afghanistan from being used against other countries in the future.

    President Donald Trump has ordered a halving of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan as he voices eagerness to end America's longest-ever war, launched in 2001 after the September 11 attacks.

  • Sri Lankan President instructs authorities to control ‘Sena caterpillar’: 
    Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed relevant authorities to act on a war footing to control the Sena caterpillar, which poses a massive threat to the agricultural crops.

    In a meeting held at his office on 22 January, 2019, the President further instructed to jointly implement a program to spray pesticide and launch a national programme within a time frame. He also announced setting up of a Presidential task force to supervise the program and to take swift decisions to control the menace.

    He asked that the program should be implemented with the participation of the agricultural researchers and field officers of government and private sector. Several thousands of acres of agricultural crops is reported to have been damaged by the caterpillar forcing government to take measures to control it.

    The cabinet meeting held on 22 January, 2019 decided to award 40 thousand Sri Lankan rupees for every acre of crop damaged due to the worm.

  • Israel, US successfully test ballistic missile interceptors: 
    The Israeli and US defence ministries on 22 January, 2019 said, they have successfully tested ballistic missile interceptors deployed at Israeli airbases. The tests came a day after the latest deadly exchange of fire between Israel and Iranian forces operating in Syria.

    The Arrow 3 interceptor system, designed to shoot down missiles above the atmosphere, was deployed at air force bases across Israel two years ago.

    A Defence ministry statement said, Arrow 3, launched toward the target and successfully completed its mission, is intended to serve as Israel's highest-altitude missile interception system. It said, it is a major milestone in the operational capabilities of Israel and its ability to defend itself against current and future threats in the region.

    With this, Israel has vowed to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in neighbouring Syria. Israel's Arrow system has been partly financed by the United States.

  • Venezuela announces breaking off diplomatic ties with US: 
    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced that he is breaking off diplomatic ties with the United States after his American counterpart Donald Trump recognized Opposition leader Juan Guaido as the South American country's interim President.

    Mr Maduro gave all US diplomatic staff in Venezuela 72 hours to leave the country. The Venezuelan President accused the US government of attempting a coup d’├ętat.

    Maduro was sworn-in for a second term earlier this month, following a poll considered a sham by much of the international community. Guaido, the head of the Opposition-controlled legislature, told tens of thousands of his supporters that he was declaring himself as the acting President.

    Thousands of Venezuelans are taking to the streets in protest against Maduro.

  • Three Indian expats from the UAE win prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award:  Three Indian expats from the UAE are amongst those who won the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award the highest honour conferred on Indian diaspora.

    President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the award on Girish Pant, Surender Singh Kandhari and Dr Zulekha Daud and other awardees at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention in Varanasi.

    Girish Pant, a social worker has been instrumental in rescuing several Indian sailors stranded in UAE waters. He has also helped several other Indians in distress in coordination with the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

    Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple, is a philanthropist, businessman and a long-term Dubai resident.

    Dr Zulekha, founder and chairperson of Zulekha Healthcare Group, who came to the UAE in 1964, is believed to be the first female practising doctor in the country.

  • Kamala Harris raises over 1 Million USD within 24 hrs of her presidential bid announcement:  In the United States, Kamala Harris, the first Indian-origin Senator, has raised a whopping more than 1 million US Dollar funds within 24 hours after announcing her Presidential bid for 2020.

    According to local media reports, 38,000 donors gave 1.5 million dollars to Ms Harris for her campaign. She also raised more than 110,000 dollars from merchandise.

    54-year old Harris officially launched her campaign to take on President Donald Trump on 21 January, 2019, saying she was honoured to announce her bid on a day when Americans celebrated Martin Luther King Jr who sought inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Around 61.7 million affected due to extreme weather events in 2018: UN report: 
    Earthquakes and tsunamis accounted for most of the 10,373 lives lost in disasters in 2018, while extreme weather events accounted for most of 61.7 million people affected by natural hazards, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has said.

    No part of the globe was spared from the impact of extreme weather events in 2018," said Mami Mizutori, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.

    The country most affected by disasters was India, where there were 23.9 million people hit, the country with the most deaths was Indonesia with 4,535, followed by India (1,388).

    The UN official said that time is running out for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Centigrade or 2 degrees Centigrade.

  • US orders non-emergency embassy staff to leave Venezuela: 
    The United States has ordered its non-emergency embassy staff to leave Venezuela but refused to comply with a full expulsion demanded by Nicolas Maduro, who Washington says is no longer president.

    Maduro on 23 January, 2019 gave US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country after President Donald Trump, backed by major Latin American nations refused to recognize him as Venezuela's legitimate president and instead recognized Juan Guaido, the opposition head of the National Assembly.

  • Russia slams 'usurpation' of power in Venezuela: 
    Russia on 24 January, 2019 slammed foreign interference in Venezuela and denounced the opposition's usurpation of power, calling President Nicolas Maduro the crisis-hit country's legitimate leader.

    Moscow said, only Venezuelans have the right to determine their future. Destructive outside interference, especially in the current extremely tense situation, is unacceptable.

    Russian foreign ministry warned that international support for opposition leader Juan Guaido, is a direct path to lawlessness and bloodshed in hostile country.

    During a conference Peskov said, Russia consider the attempted usurpation of power in Venezuela as a breach of the foundations of international law.

  • UN chief appeals for dialogue to stop Venezuela's political crisis: 
    UN chief Antonio Guterres on 24 January, 2019 appealed for dialogue to stop Venezuela's political crisis spiralling out of control, after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president.

    At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Guterres said, sovereign governments have the possibility to decide whatever they want.

    The United States, Brazil and other countries on 23 January, 2019 endorsed Guaido's declaration in repudiation of President Nicolas Maduro, as more protests rocked the economically strapped country.

    Maduro has presided over a deepening economic crisis that has left millions in poverty as the oil-rich country faces shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

    Some 2.3 million people have fled the country since 2015, according to the United Nations, while the International Monetary Fund says inflation will hit a staggering 10 million percent this year (2019).

  • UN chief warns, world is "losing the race" on climate change: 
    United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on 24 January, 2019 warned that the world is "losing the race" on climate change and demanded that governments make bolder commitments beyond the Paris accord.

    Speaking on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, UN chief said that he is not hopeful that nations would find the resolve but stressed that world needs political will and governments should understand that this is the most important priority of our times.

    The UN secretary-general also said the commitments made in Paris were already "not enough".

    He also called for more measures to mitigate against climate change.

    The Paris climate accord has been shaken by the withdrawal of the United States under President Donald Trump, and by threats to do the same by Brazil's leader Jair Bolsonaro.

  • UN human rights expert to visit Turkey over journalist Khashoggi murder: 
    The United Nations is dispatching a human rights expert to Turkey to inquire about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    Agnes Callamard, the UN expert on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, will head an independent international inquiry. Starting with a weeklong visit to Turkey, Callamard will evaluate the circumstances surrounding Khashoggi's murder from a human rights perspective.

    Khashoggi, who wrote critically about the Saudi Crown Prince, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October, 2018.

  • NASA’s Opportunity rover completes 15 years on Mars: 
    NASA's Opportunity rover has completed 15 years of its touchdown on the surface of Mars.

    The US space agency said it has travelled 45 kilometers and logged its 5,000th Martian day back in February 2018. John Callas, project manager for Opportunity, however, said that at present the agency does not know the rover's status.

    The six-wheeler rover had landed in a region of Mars called Meridiani Planum on January 24, 2004.

    The solar-powered rover went silent since a global dust storm in June, 2018.

    However, Opportunity's mission continues, in a phase where mission engineers at NASA laboratories are sending commands to as well as listening for signals from the rover.

  • India, 5 Central Asian nations back inclusive peace process in Afghanistan: 
    India and the five Central Asia nations have backed an inclusive peace process in Afghanistan that is Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. The understanding was reached at the first ever India-Central Asia Dialogue in Uzbekistan capital Samarkand.

    The Dialogue was chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Uzbek counterpart Abdulaziz Kamilov. It was attended by the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan.

    Ms Sushma Swaraj reiterated India's commitment to the economic reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan. She pointed out that no business development; no investment can take place in a country suffering from terrorism.

    To promote business development in the region, India agreed to fight the scourge of terrorism together. She offered to extend this partnership to Central Asia as well.

    A joint statement issued at the end of the Dialogue said, India and the Central Asian countries, along with Afghanistan, condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

  • ICC acquits former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo for crimes against humanity: The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on 15 January, 2019 acquitted former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo of all charges of crimes against humanity over post-electoral violence in the West African nation.

    The judges said prosecutors had failed to show there was evidence of a "common plan" to foment violence. The court also ordered his immediate release.

    Protests erupted in 2010 after Mr Gbagbo refused to accept that he had lost a disputed election run-off to his rival, Alassane Ouattara. 3000 were killed and 5 lakh were displaced in the violence.

    Mr Gbagbo was captured by forces supporting his rival, Ouattara and sent to The Hague in November 2011.

  • Qatar sees no need to re-open embassy in Syria: 
    Qatar has ruled out the possibility of re-opening an embassy in Damascus, calling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a war criminal.

    The normalization of relations with the Syrian regime at this stage is equivalent to the normalization of a person involved in war crimes.

    Damascus under Assad should not be allowed back into the Arab League as the Syrian people are still under bombardment by the Syrian regime.

    The comments come after Gulf neighbours the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain announced late last month they reopened their Damascus embassies.

  • US President Donald Trump nominates 3 Indian Americans to key administration post: US President Donald Trump has nominated three Indian Americans to key administration positions as per the latest list of senior nominations sent by the White House to the Senate.

    Rita Baranwal has been nominated for the post of Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy), Aditya Bamzai for Member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and Bimal Patel as the Assistant Secretary of Treasury. So far, Mr Trump has nominated or appointed more than three dozen Indian Americans in key positions.

  • Sri Lanka: Mahinda Rajapaksa took over as new opposition leader: 
    In Sri Lanka, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa took over as new opposition leader on 18 January, 2019 following political developments of last months. Mr. Rajapaksa was appointed Prime minister in October, 2018 but failed to prove his majority.

    Addressing a press conference, Mr. Rajapaksa said that he is back in office as the opposition leader and he will be committed to resolve the issues, not only of the people in the North and East but of all Sri Lankans.

  • Donald Trump cancels US delegation's trip to annual meeting of WEF at Davos: 
    President Donald Trump has cancelled the US delegation's trip to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland, due to the partial government shutdown. The announcement comes as the shutdown entered its 27th day on Thursday (17 January, 2019).

    The cancellation of the US delegation visit to the WEF meeting came on a day Trump postponed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan, citing the shutdown. The five-day summit is slated to begin at the Swiss resort town of Davos from 21 January, 2019.

    The longest-ever shutdown in US history has rendered over 8 lakh federal employees without work. It has crippled the functioning of several key wings of the government including Security and State department.

  • Without a strong border, America is defenceless: Donald Trump: 
    US President Donald Trump has said on 17 January, 2019 that without a strong border, America is defenceless, vulnerable and unprotected. He further said, except for a border wall nothing else is going to work.

    Trump's remarks came as the current partial government shutdown over the issue of a border wall along the US-Mexico border, entered into its 25th day.

    The shutdown has rendered more than eight lakhs federal employees without work, crippling the functioning of several key wings of the government including Security and State department.

  • Sri Lankan President Appoints Commission to probe corruption: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a Presidential Commission of Inquiry on 17 January, 2019 to investigate into allegations of corruption and malpractices that had taken place from 15th January 2015 to 31st December 2018.

    The commission will look into public complaints, information and conduct prompt, impartial, comprehensive investigations against persons who had held or continue to hold political office and those who have been or continue to serve as public servants and officers of statutory bodies.

    President Sirisena had announced to appoint the commission at the height of political crisis last year during which he had removed Ranil Wickremsinghe as the prime minister. Mr. Sirisena had said that he will appoint the commission to probe wrongdoings against Mr. Wickremsinghe government.

  • India signs long term contract with Uzbekistan for Uranium supply: 
    India has signed a long-term contract with Uzbekistan for supply of uranium ore concentrates to widen its source base for the nuclear fuel.

    The contract was exchanged in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who is attending the Vibrant Gujarat summit in Gandhinagar.

    The Department of Atomic Energy (DEA) and Novoi Minerals & Metallurgical Company of Uzbekistan exchanged the contract.

    Uzbekistan is the seventh largest exporter of uranium in the world.

    The Exim Bank signed an agreement with Uzbekistan to extend a 200-million US dollar line of credit for financing housing and social infrastructure projects. The credit line was announced by Mr. Modi during the official visit of Mirziyoyev last October to New Delhi. Mr. Modi held talks with Mr. Mirziyoyev.

  • EU publishes its negotiating plans for a free trade deal with US: 
    The European Union published its negotiating plans for a free trade deal with the United States, part of an effort to avert a trade war with US President Donald Trump.

    The EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told that it is not a traditional trade deal as it is limited to industrial goods tariffs only.

    Negotiating a trade deal was included in a trans-atlantic truce secured in July last year after the US slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the European Union.

    The process however has got off to a rocky start, with the US last week including agricultural products in their plans. Malmstrom, however, said that the EU is not proposing any reduction of tariffs on agriculture in this mandate.

    The mandate must now be approved by the national governments of the EU's 28 member states before negotiations actually start with Washington.

  • Sweden: PM Stefan Lofven elected for a second term: 
    In Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has been elected for a second term, ending a four-month political vacuum. Lofven's minority centre-left government, comprising his Social Democrats and the Greens, won the backing of the Centre and Liberal parties. The latter two until now were members of the four-party centre-right opposition Alliance.

    The Prime Minister is expected to formally present his new government and its full programme on 21st of January. It will be one of the weakest administrations in Sweden in 70 years, with just 32.7 per cent of voters having cast ballots for the two parties.

    Sweden's inconclusive legislative elections in September last year had not left either main parliamentary bloc with a majority.

  • Bangladesh: Sheikh Hasina to take oath as PM: Awami League President Sheikh Hasina will take oath as Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third consecutive term.

    A 47-member Council of Ministers including 31 new faces, will also be sworn in.

    President Mohammad Abdul Hamid will administer the oath of office to the Ministers at Bangabhaban.

    Awami League and its allies secured 288 seats out of elections held for 299-member Parliament recently.

    This will be the fourth government under the seventy-one-year-old leader, and third in a row, since January 2009. Earlier she was the Prime Minister from 1996 to 2001.

  • Pentagon Chief of Staff Kevin Sweeney resigns: In the United States, Department of Defence, Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney has resigned, a month after Defence Secretary James Mattis announced his departure.

    Rear Admiral Sweeney said in a statement that the time is right to return to the private sector.

    He is now the third senior Pentagon official to announce his resignation since President Donald Trump announced US forces would leave Syria.

  • World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to step down on Feb 1: In a surprise move, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced that he will step down from his position on February 1 - much before the end of his term in 2022.

    Kim, 58, has been in this position for over six years now.

    He will join a firm and focus on increasing infrastructure investments in developing countries.

    Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank CEO, will assume the role of interim President effective 1st February, 2019.

    The president of the Washington-based World Bank has always been an American citizen nominated by the United States, which is the largest shareholder of this multilateral financial institution.

  • India takes over operations of Chabahar port in Iran: India has taken over operations of the strategic Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province of Iran's southern coast. This is the first time India will be operating a port outside its territory.

    The Government of India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar, in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting held there on December 24, 2018.

    The Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich nation's southern coast is easily accessible from India's western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan's Gwadar Port located at distance of around 80 km from Chabahar.

    The Chabahar port is being considered as a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries, besides ramping up trade among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi.

  • Myanmar army to launch 'crackdown' on Rakhine rebels: The government in Myanmar has called on its military to launch operations against ethnic Rakhine rebels behind a deadly attack on four police stations.

    Government spokesman Zaw Htay said the president's office has already instructed the army to launch operations to crack down on the insurgents.

  • Malaysia’s new head of state to be appointed by January: In Malaysia, members of the royal families met and to set dates to choose a new king after the resignation of Sultan Muhammad -5 as the country's head of state.

    Sultans of Malaysia's states decided to set January 24 as the date on which they would convene to discuss the appointment of a new king, while Jan 31 as the date on which the new king will be sworn in, according to a statement by the Conference of Rulers.

    Muhammad - 5 became the first head of state to resign on 06 January, 2019, after just over two years of his mandated five-year term.

    The government hoped that the appointment would be expedited but would not interfere in the matter, as the final decision will be made by the Conference of Rulers as to whom would be appointed.

    Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, with nine sultans serving as head of their respective state and the religious leader.

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits China ahead of expected Trump summit: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping held an hour-long meeting in Beijing.

    Both leaders discussed the possible US-North Korea summit.

    The North Korean leader reached Beijing earlier in the day for an unannounced visit, at the invitation of the Chinese President.

    The visit comes amid reports that negotiations are underway for a second summit between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump.

    Mr Kim's visit, during which he is being accompanied by several leading North Korean officials, is his fourth to China in less than a year.

  • Will cultivate more effective ties with India, China: Bangladesh Bangladesh would cultivate more effective ties with India and China, pursuing vigorous economic diplomacy.

    Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed him to intensify cooperation with neighbours on the basis of "solid partnership" and ensure that the foreign office acts as a partner of other ministries to draw more foreign investments in the country.

    Bangladesh's ties with India last year grew steadily, with high-level visits from both sides.

  • Guatemala to withdraw from UN-backed anti-corruption commission: Guatemala has said it is withdrawing from a UN-backed anti-corruption commission. It has given the UN body's staff 24 hours to leave the country.

    President Jimmy Morales accused the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, commonly known as CICIG, of polarising the country and putting its security at risk.

    That the commission has violated human rights and is allied with criminal structures and terrorists.

  • US Secretary of State arrives in Baghdad to meet PM: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Baghdad on a surprise visit to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

    Pompeo also met other Iraqi officials, including the speaker of parliament Muhammad Al Halbusi. The US Secretary of State's visit to Baghdad is part of his West Asia tour.

  • Labour Party leader calls for election to end Brexit deadlock: Britain's main opposition, Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn called for a general election to resolve the current deadlock in parliament over Brexit.

    Mr. Jeremy Corbyn will renegotiate the agreement with Brussels if they come to power.

    The European Union has ruled out any renegotiation of the deal.

  • 84-km-long road, connecting border town of Gurez with Bandipora reopened: The 84-km-long road, connecting border town of Gurez with district headquarters Bandipora reopened. The road was closed due to accumulation of snow for about a week.

    Dozens of far-flung and remote villages, including those near the Line of Control (LoC) in the frontier district of Kupwara remained closed due to snowfall.

  • Unelected individuals are casting doubt over 18th amendment to constitution of Pakistan Pakistan's former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani has alleged that unelected individuals are casting doubt over the landmark 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan.

    Under the banner of South Asians against Terrorism & for Human Rights (SAATH) Forum, he, along with other Pakistani intellectuals, slammed the Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa for casting aspersions over this unanimous piece of legislation.

  • Right wing coalition is set to rule Andalusia : In Spain, a right wing coalition is set to rule country's most populous region, Andalusia.

    The conservative Popular Party will rule the region along with the Centre-right Citizens Party. Vox, an anti-immigrant party which won seats in Andalusia last year (2018), will not be part of the new government, but has agreed to support the coalition. This ends 37 years of Socialist rule in Andalusia.

    Andalusia is the main arrival point in Spain for migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

  • Tourists prohibited from hiking as Indonesia's Bali volcano erupts: Indonesian authorities have prohibited tourists from hiking in the radius of 4 kilometers from the crater of Mount Agung volcano, which erupted on 30 December, 2018.

    The eruption of Mount Agung triggered rain of volcanic ash covering eight villages and town in Karang Asem district. However, no evacuation orders have been issued. Mount Agung is situated about 70 kilometers from the Bali tourist hub of Kuta.

    The fresh eruption comes just days after Anak Krakatoa volcano triggered a tsunami that hit Java and Sumatra, killing 430 people and leaving more than 7,000 injured.

  • Russia and Turkey agree to coordinate ground operations in Syria : Russia and Turkey on 29 December, 2018 agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria. This was announced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after talks with his Turkish counterpart.

    He said an understanding was reached for military representatives of Russia and Turkey to coordinate on the ground to root out terrorist threats in Syria. The move comes after last week's announcement of a US military withdrawal.

  • Devastating storm Usman leaves 68 dead in the Philippines : At least 68 people have died in a tropical storm in the Philippines.

    Storm Usman that resulted in heavy rain and triggered deadly landslides hit the Bicol region in Manila on 31 December, 2018.

  • Russian President signs executive order to ensure country's effective participation in G20 : Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an executive order on setting up an interdepartmental commission to ensure the country's effective participation in the Group of 20 industrialized nations.

    Putin appointed Russia's G20 Sherpa Svetlana Lukash as chair of the interdepartmental commission.

    The 17 member strong commission is meant to coordinate work of federal agencies in ensuring Russia's participation in annual summits.

  • Qatar will cease to be a member of OPEC : Qatar will cease to be a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on 01 January, 2019.

    The country had sent an official notification to the OPEC expressing its wish to pull out and to focus on its liquefied natural gas production in December.

    The decision came amid the ongoing diplomatic and economic blockade imposed on the country by its Persian Gulf neighbours and several Arab states.

    These countries accuse Doha of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs. Qatar has strongly refuted these allegations.

  • US, Israel quit UNESCO citing bias : The United States and Israel officially quit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the close of 2018.

    The countries had announced their decisions in 2017 of withdrawing from the agency, accusing it of bias against Israel. America has demanded fundamental reform in UNESCO, which was co-founded by it after World War II to foster peace.

    Israel joined the agency in 1949. It is best known for its World Heritage program, which designates cultural sites and aims to preserve traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust's horrors, and to defend media freedom.

    The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the US stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state.

  • China’s two-child policy fails to make any impact : China's two-child policy has failed to make any impact on the country's low birth rate as the number of new-borns dropped by two million last year (2018).

    China ended its decades-old one-child policy in 2016 and permitted couples to have two children as the population of elderly rose with declining numbers of young people.

    China had more than 230.8 million people aged 60 or above at the end of 2016, which was 16.7 per cent of the country's total population. China reversed the one-child policy following the alarming growth of old age population.

    China's rapidly ageing population has now touched 241 million, accounting for one-fifth of over 1.4 billion people in the world's most populous country.

  • Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, takes office  : Jair Bolsonaro, otherwise called as Donald Trump of Tropics sworn in as new President of Brazil.

    He is a self-styled political outsider, has been sworn in as the 38th president of Latin America's largest democracy.

    Bolsonaro won 55 percent of the vote in a runoff against Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers' Party (PT).

  • Pakistan government to send list of 172 persons on ECL to review committee : Pakistan government has decided to send a no-fly list of 172 people, including former President Asif Ali Zardari, to a review committee.

    Influential people often fly out of the country after facing corruption cases. The apex court had directed the Cabinet to reconsider its "hasty decision" of placing the names of 172 people, on the no-fly list. The Cabinet had banned all 172 individuals from leaving the country.

    Those hit by the ban included Zardari, his son Bilawal, sister Faryal, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and several others politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats.

  • World Braille Day being celebrated-4th January : The world Braille Day is being celebrated 4th January.

    The day is marked remembering the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille - for the people with visual disabilities. World Braille Day is marked annually on January 4 after the day was proclaimed by the General Assembly last November.

    United Nations observes this is the first official World Braille Day raising awareness on the importance of Braille for approximately 1.3 billion people living with some form of distance or near vision impairment.

  • Poster exhibition on relevance of Bhagavad Gita with thoughts of Gandhi Ji being organized under aegis of Consulate General of India, Dubai: Poster exhibition on the relevance of Bhagavad-Gita combined with the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi is being organized under the aegis of the Consulate General of India, Dubai and Vijnan Vikas Pattern Institute.

    The two day exhibition which will be inaugurated this evening by the Consul General Vipul will showcase a variety of hand-crafted Khadi products from the Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan.

    The exhibition is being organized as part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi.

    The bottom-line is about tapping the infinite potential of The Self, be it in workplace, academics, home or in the society in general.

  • China develops its own 'Mother of All Bombs : China has developed a massive bomb, said to be the country's answer to the US-built 'Mother of All Bombs', the most powerful non-nuclear weapon.

    A state-run Global Times reported that China's defence industry giant NORINCO for the first time showcased the aerial bomb, the country's largest non-nuclear bomb.

  • Arab leaders urge International community to support nations hosting Syrian refugees. Arab leaders and officials have urged the international community to support nations hosting Syrian refugees and take steps to minimize the impact of the refugee crisis.

    The call was made in the Beirut Declaration at the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit that concluded in the Lebanese capital on 20 January, 2019.

    The declaration said, the refugee crisis in Arab countries is the worst humanitarian problem since World War II. It points out that the crisis leads to an economic slowdown, increases the expenditure and deficit, imposes burdens on public sectors and infrastructure and poses risks to the society.



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