Current Affairs January 2017 - International


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News 1 - The world's highest bridge inaugurated in China

World's Highest Bridge

The Beipanjiang bridge in southern China, world's highest bridge, has opened to traffic. The bridge soars 565 metres (1,854 feet) above a river and connects the two mountainous provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou.

The construction of this bridge was completed in 3 years and cost over 1 billion yuan ($144 million) to build. It overtook the Si Du River Bridge in the central province of Hubei to become the world's highest bridge.

News 2 - Romania's President named Sorin Grindeanu as the new PM

Klaus Iohannis

Romanian Prersident, Klaus Iohannis, has named Sorin Grindeanu as the new Prime Minister of the country. Grindeanu is a member of the Social Democratic Party.

Grindeanu graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of Timisoara West University in 1997. In the period December 2014November 2015 he served as Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society in Victor Ponta's cabinet. Starting June 2016, he is President of Timis county council.

News 3 - Pakistan senate approved Hindu marriage bill

Hindu Marriage Bill

The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights in Pakistan approved the Hindu Marriage Bill. The bill would become a law after it will be passed by the Senate, the upper house of the Parliament.

The bill will enable the Hindu community members to get their marriages registered and to appeal in courts of law in cases of separation. The Bill also allows Hindus to have a proof of marriage document called the ‘Shadiparat’.

News 4 - Amazon won the Patent for Flying Warehouse to Deliver Parcels via Drones

Amazon won Patent

Amazon has won a patent for a giant flying warehouse that acts as a Launchpad for drones to deliver items within minutes. Amazon filed the patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The "airborne fulfillment center" (AFC) would float at an altitude of around 45,000 ft and will be stocked with lots of products. Once an order is placed by the customer, a drone or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) would fly down and deliver the package.

News 5 - Russia delivered Sukhoi jets to China

Sukhoi Jets

Russia has delivered four Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to China as part of a deal between Moscow and Beijing on delivering a total of 24 aircraft estimated to be worth $2 billion, in 2015.

The S-35 is a 4++ generation, twin-engine, highly maneuverable multirole fighter jet. It has a maximum speed of 1,553 mph (2,500 kmph). The Su-35 is an advanced version of the Su-30s operated by the Indian Air Force.

News 6 - Third round of talks between India, Lanka on the ETCA began in Colombo

India and Lanka

The third round of talks between India and Sri Lanka on proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) began in Colombo.

The two-day talks were led by Joint Secretary in Ministry of Commerce and Industry from Indian side. The proposed agreement seeks to expand trade in goods to services and investment sector.

Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe had expressed hope that the deal could be concluded by end of 2016.

News 7 - Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu quizzed over suspicion of graft

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli police have questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for nearly three hours on suspicion of graft after the Attorney General said that the police had gathered enough evidence against him as a possible criminal suspect.

The police investigating team questioned the 67-year-old Netanyahu over suspicion that he and his family members received illicit gifts and other favours from businessmen running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

News 8 - Donald Trump named Lawyer Lighthizer as the US Trade representative

Lighthizer

US President-elect Donald Trump nominated Lawyer Robert Lighthizer as the US Trade Representative. Robert Lightizer will be his Chief trade negotiator and responsible for better deals aimed at reducing US trade deficits. He has three decades of experience arguing for punitive tariffs on overseas companies.

Lighthizer served as the Deputy US Trade Representative under President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Trump has also signalled a tough stance on trade with China, including levying a hefty tariff on Chinese imports.

News 9 - Indonesia suspended all military co-operation with Australia

Military Co-operation

Indonesia suspended all military co-operation with Australia. All forms of co-operation with the Australian military, including joint training, have been temporarily withheld due to training material found at an Australian base. The two navies had been expected to take part in multinational training exercises to be held in February 2017.

Cooperation between the Australian and Indonesian militaries had been suspended for “technical reasons that need to be discussed and cooperation would resume once those issues are resolved.

News 10 - Nepal organized the 13th Chitwan Elephant Festival

Chitwan Elephant Festival

A five-day event the ‘13th Chitwan Elephant Festival’ was organized in Sauraha, Nepal to promote tourism and exhibit human-wildlife relations. The event began with an elephant walk from the elephant breeding centre to a complete march in the entire village followed by a Tharu cultural show to the Bachauli ground in Sauraha.

Participants witnessed elephant walk, elephant polo, elephant calf football, elephant beauty contest, elephant picnic, and elephant painting at the event. Event witnessed about 20,000 domestic and foreign tourists.

News 11 - Finland launched basic income for its 25 to 58 aged unemployed citizens

Unemployed Citizens

Finland became the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens a guaranteed monthly sum of €560 (£475). The income will replace their existing social benefits and will be paid even after they find work. This 2 year nationwide pilot scheme kicked off on 1 January and around 2,000 unemployed Finns aged from 25 to 58 were given benefit.

Scheme is aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment. Basic income experiments willtake place in several cities like Netherlands, including Utrecht, Tilburg, Nijmegen, Wageningen and Groningen in 2017.

News 12 - Jovenel Moise won Presidential elections of Haiti

Jovenel Moise

Haitian businessman Jovenel Moise won the Presidential elections of Haiti with 55.6% votes. Jovenel Moise will take charge of his duties from February. He replaced Jocelerme Privert, who served for nearly a year as interim president after Michel Martelly ended his term without an elected successor.

The final official results revealed that Moise’s rival Celestin won 19.57 percent votes. Haiti is poorest in the Americas and has a debt of more than $2 billion due to lack of public and private investment.

News 13 - Tim Barrow named as the UK envoy to the EU

Tim Barrow

Britain has appointed Sir Tim Barrow as the new Ambassador to the European Union to lead Brexit negotiations. He was appointed after his predecessor, Ivan Rogers, quit due to concerns about the government's muddled strategy over exiting the economic bloc.

Tim Barrow is a senior diplomat known as a tough negotiator. He is a former ambassador to Moscow who has previously served in Brussels. He has held several roles in his 30-year career as a diplomat.

News 14 - Rajiv J Shah set to be named as the President of Rockefeller Foundation

Rajiv J Shah

Former head of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, Rajiv J Shah is set to be named as President of the Rockefeller Foundation, one of America's largest and most influential philanthropies.

He will succeed Judith Rodin. Shah will be the youngest person and the first IndianAmerican to lead the group. The Rockefeller foundation donates 200 million US Dollars each year towards improving health and wellbeing in Africa.

News 15 - Festival of India organized in Cambodia from 10th January till 16th February, 2017

Festival of India

A Festival of India is being organized in Cambodia from 10th January to 16th February, 2017. The activities of the Festival include Ramayana Performance, Rajasthani Folk Music & Dance Group (Dance Group plus Manganiyar Group), Classical Dance.

A Buddhist Mahotsav – Exhibition titled Dhamma Darshana - to explore the life, teachings and important events connected with Lord Buddha and Photo Exhibition on Buddhist religious/heritage sites in India will also be organized. The Festival events are being showcased in three cities of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang in Cambodia.

News 16 - China launched the longest high-speed train service

Longest High-Speed Train

China launched its longest bullet train “Shangri-la of the World” from Kunming, capital of south-west China’s Yunnan Province to Beijing. The train’s name highlights the world famous resort in Shangri-la of Yunnan.

China's high speed train network has thus expanded to about 20,000 kms connecting almost all provinces. The line is also the longest east-west high-speed railway in China. According to the government’s plan, the mileage will increase to 45,000 km by 2030.

News 17 - China to set up world’s highest altitude telescopes in Tibet

Highest Altitude Telescopes

China is setting up the world's highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in a Tibet prefecture close to Line of Actual Control with India to detect faintest echoes resonating from universe which may reveal more about the Big Bang theory.

Yao Yongqiang chief researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that the construction had started for the first telescope, code-named Ngari No.1. It is expected to be operational by 2021.

News 18 - China forex reserves fall by USD 320 billion in 2016

China Forex

China's foreign exchange reserve fell nearly 320 billion dollars from a year earlier, following a drop of more than 512 billion dollars in 2015. Foreign reserves stood at over three trillion dollars as of the end of December.

In December, the forex reserves dropped by USD 41 billion from the previous month which would make it their sixth consecutive monthly decline. The Chinese currency fell about 7 percent against the dollar in 2016.

News 19 - US trade deficit in November rose to the highest level in 9 months

US Trade Deficit

The US trade deficit in November rose to the highest level in nine months as imports of oil and other foreign goods increased, while American exports fell for a second month.

The Commerce Department reported that the trade deficit jumped 6.8% to USD 45.2 billion, the largest imbalance since February. Exports edged down 0.2% to USD 122.4 billion, reflecting lower overseas sales of Americanmade airplanes, autos and farm products. Imports rose 1.1% to USD 231.1 billion, led by a 7.6% jump in oil.

News 20 - Gen. Raheel Sharif to head the Islamic Military Alliance

Raheel Sharif

Former Pakistan Army chief Raheel Sharif has been appointed to head the Saudi Arabia-led 39-nation Islamic military coalition formed to combat terrorism. Raheel retired as the army chief in November 2016.

The Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) currently has 39 members. The headquarters of the Saudi-led coalition would be based in Riyadh. The coalition includes countries like Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Sudan, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen among others.

News 21 - Nana Akufo-Addo sworn in as President of Ghana

Nana Akufo-Addo

Nana Akufo-Addo has been sworn in as Ghana's new President. He won the country's Presidential election, defeating President John Mahama by 53.8 percent to 44.4 percent. Nana Akufo-Addo is the leader of New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Akufo-Addo had promised to boost growth and deliver jobs during his campaigns. Ghana is the world’s second biggest producer of cocoa after Ivory Coast and Africa’s second biggest gold producer after South Africa.

News 22 - Pakistan test-fired Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile

Cruise Missile

Pakistan conducted its first successful test-fire of a Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM). The missile, Babur-3, with a range of 450 kilometres was fired from an underwater, mobile platform and hit its target with precise accuracy.

Babur-3 is a sea-based variant of Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) Babur-2. The Babur-3 SLCM incorporates state-of-the-art technologies including underwater controlled propulsion and advanced guidance and navigation features, duly augmented by Global Navigation, Terrain and Scene Matching Systems.

News 23 - Pakistan launched its 'first submarine nuclear-capable missile'

Nuclear-Capable Missile

Babur-3 missile, a nuclear-capable missile was launched by Pakistan. It is first submarine cruise missile with 450 km range, which can handle various types of payloads. The missile features technologies such as terrain hugging and sea skimming flight capabilities. It was launched with an aim to evade hostile radars and air defenses.

Missile is underwater controlled propulsion and advanced guidance and navigation. The missile, Babur-3, was fired from an underwater, mobile platform in the Indian Ocean.

News 24 - China revised 2015 GDP to USD 9.96 trillion

China

China revised the size of its economy in 2015 to 68.91 trillion yuan (that is, 9.96 trillion US dollars), up 354.6 billion yuan from its preliminary figure.

The National Bureau of Statistics announced that economic growth for 2015 was unchanged at 6.9 per cent but the size of China's economy in 2015 has been revised to 68.91 trillion yuan (9.96 trillion U.S. dollars), up 354.6 billion yuan from its preliminary figure. China's economic growth rate objective has been set at 6.5 percent to 7 percent in 2016.

News 25 - Norway became the first country to cease FM Radio Broadcasting

FM Radio Broadcasting

Norway has become the first country to cease FM radio broadcasting as the Government plans to roll out digital-only radio over the course of the year that offers a wider range of broadcasting options and greater sound quality.

The main reason behind this technological shift is to offer a better radio service to the whole population. The process will be completed nationwide by December. There are currently 22 national digital stations, along with around 20 smaller ones.

News 26 - Daniel Ortega sworn in as Nicaragua's President for the 3rd term

Ortega

Daniel Ortega has been sworn in for a third consecutive term as President of Nicaragua. His wife Rosario Murillo was sworn in as the new Vice President.

Ortega, a 71-year old former rebel fighter, took the oath in Managua with the Presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Taiwan in attendance. Ortega and Murillo were elected in November with 72.5 percent of the vote, but with a high rate of abstentions. Their party won 71 of the 92 seats in parliament.

News 27 - Festival of India to be Organized in Ghana

India Festival

A Festival of India is being organised in Ghana from January 25 to March 16, 2017. The activities of the Festival include amalgamation of Indian classical dances, Sufi & Folk Music, and Saptarang – confluence of seven classical dance forms culminating in Vande Matram.

To complete the experience, a Food Festival, Yoga and Meditation, Film Festival will also be organised during the Festival.

The Festival events are being showcased in four cities of Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Takoradi in Ghana.

News 28 - Japan pledged 1 trillion Yen aid package to Philippines

Japan

Japanese Prime Minister inked aid package for Philippines of worth a ¥1 trillion (8.7 billion dollars) for next 5 years. With this aid package, Japan will help Philippines with Japanese technology, infrastructure development, maritime and security management. Both the countries will establish a joint committee on economic collaboration to help with Manila’s infrastructure development.

Japan and the Philippines exchanged papers on Japan providing high-speed boats to the Philippine Coast Guard in a bid to enhance maritime safety.

News 29 - India & Sri Lanka inked an MoU for rain water harvesting systems

India and Sri Lanka

India signed MOU with Sri Lanka to build 3000 rain water harvesting systems at a cost of SLR 300 million in Jaffna District. This rain harvesting MOU will help 3000 households by providing them clean water supply. It will also pave way for training of the households on operation and maintenance (O&M) of the rain water harvesting systems.

The Sri Lankan Government and the Indian government will jointly identify beneficiaries and further assist resettlement of internally displaced families in Jaffna.

News 30 - Ecuador takes over Chairmanship of G-77

Ecuador

United Nation’s Chairmanship of G-77 developing nations has been taken over by Ecuador from Thailand. G-77 promotes the interests of the 134 developing countries. Ecuador will also focus on 17 UN goals for 2030 to promote sustainable development goals and save environment.

The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations is a group of developing nations, designed to promote economic and social status of its members. There were 77 founding members of the organization, but since November 2013, the organization have 134 member countries.

News 31 - US ended the 20 year old financial sanctions on the Sudanese Government

Sudanese Government

USA ceased trade and financial sanctions on Sudanese government, after they improved on their regional security. It will be possible after twenty years that Sudanese government will be able to receive imported goods and services from the US. This has also lifted bans on Sudanese property and assets held in the US. Both the countries will be able to trade in oil and gas industry.

Some US sanctions still prevail like ban on weapons sales and restrictions on Darfur-related sanctions.

News 32 - Two ships sold to Pakistan Navy by China for maritime security

Two Ships Sold

Along the sea route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China has handed over two ships to the Pakistan to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes. These two ships are equipped with state-ofthe-art guns and will be part of Navy. China will hand over two more ships namely Dasht and Zhob to the navy, as soon as its work will be finished.

The CPEC will open new vistas of speedy development in Balochistan and create employment opportunities for its youths.

News 33 - China handed over two ships to the Pakistan Navy

China handed Two Ships to Pakistan

China handed over two ships to the Pakistan Navy for joint security to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port. The port forms a part of the $ 46 billion sea route of the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC links western China through Pakistan with the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The wo ships are named after two rivers Hingol and Basol near Gwadar. The two ships will also be used to protect the sea-lanes in the Arabian Sea. China will also provide two more ships, Dasht and Zhob, to Pakistan navy.

News 34 - Antonio Tajani elected as the new President of the European Parliament

Antonio Tajani

Italian conservative Antonio Tajani has been elected as the new President of the European Parliament.

Mr. Tajani is a former spokesman for Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and an ex-European commissioner. He defeated another Italian, Gianni Pitella, and will take over from Germany's Martin Schulz. Mr. Tajani secured 351 votes, against 282 for Mr. Pittella, a socialist.

News 35 - CEPI formally launched at World Economic Forum Davos

CEPI

World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos welcomed the launch of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations as it received contract of developing vaccines against fatal diseases worth $460-million. The three diseases for which vaccine will be developed are Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)coronavirus, Lassa fever, and Nipah virus.

CEPI is given responsibility to use contract prize of $460mn and prevent outbreaks of these 3 diseases before they become global health emergencies. CEPI aims to develop at least two vaccines for each virus within 5 years.

News 36 - Donald Trump sworn in as the 45th US President

Donald Trump

Donald Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America, took oath in front of about 8 lakh people administered by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Donald John Trump is an American businessman, television personality, politician.

Donald Trump promised Americans to bring employment to the country by not outsourcing jobs abroad and let American workers have it.

News 37 - Hong Kong withdraws visa-free entry to Indians

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has withdrawn visa-free facility for Indians from January 23, 2017, by making amendments to its visa agreement with India since Indians have been overstaying in Hong Kong violating visa norms. Under the previous visa agreement, Indian visitors could visit the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for 14 days but now Indians must pre-register themselves.

The said decision was taken to prevent illegal immigration. The pre-arrival registration will be valid for a 6 month period or until the expiry date of the Indian passport linked to it.

News 38 - Nepal launched a 10-year-plan to cut reliance on vegetable imports from India

Vegetable Imports

Nepal Government launched a 10-year-plan to cut reliance on vegetable imports and boost domestic production by adopting modern farm techniques. Nepal’s far-western region has seen a rise in commercial vegetable farming. India exports around 25,000 metric tonnes of worth Rs. 55 billion of vegetables annually.

The government has aimed at achieving selfsufficiency in wheat and vegetables by this fiscal year, and in paddy and potato in two years. It has targeted making the country self-sufficient in maize and fish by the next three years.

News 39 - China developed world’s biggest solar park

Solar Park

To improve its green energy benefits, China has developed world’s biggest solar park termed as Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, in the western province of Qinghai.

An effort that started in 2013 on 27 square km of area, can generate 850 MW of power and supply electricity to 200,000 households.

Park has capacity to produce 110GW of solar power and 210GW of wind power and slash pollution by 2020.

News 40 - UK published a draft legislation to start the Brexit process

Brexit Process

The UK government published a draft legislation in Parliament that would allow it to begin the process of leaving the EU, two days after the Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May cannot unilaterally trigger Britain's exit from the 28-nation bloc and must seek Parliament's approval. The European Union (Notification of withdrawal) Bill was published in the House of Commons.

Described as among the shortest notifications to be published in the British Parliament, the two-clause Bill had its first reading in the House as a procedural step.

News 41 - Australia celebrated its National Day on 26th January

Australia National Day

Australia Day is celebrated on 26 January, marking the arrival of the first British convict fleet in 1788.

Australia's 700,000 indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still struggle with the impacts of colonization and track near the bottom of the country's 23 million citizens in almost every economic and social indicator.

They gained citizenship in 1967 only and a vote on whether to recognize Aborigines in the constitution as the country's first people has been on hold for years.

News 42 - IMF predicted Greece's Government debt highly unsustainable

IMF

IMF predicted Greece's government debt as highly unsustainable and "explosive" in the long run. The International Monetary Fund announced its annual report on the Greek economy and stated that the debt burden of the beleaguered nation will require significant debt relief from European institutions, including dramatically extending the grace periods and maturities of the loans.

The IMF board is due to discuss the confidential report, which includes a debt sustainability analysis.

News 43 - Denmark becomes first to appoint world’s first ‘digital ambassador’

Denmark

Tto build global ties, Denmark has appointed “digital ambassador”, who will establish and build Denmark’s relations with the tech giants. With this, Denmark becomes the first country in the world to appoint a special “digital ambassador”.

Digital ambassador has not been selected yet, but the new appointment will act as tech liaison who reflects a diplomatic power shift between established nations and privatelyowned conglomerates such as Google, Apple, IBM, and Microsoft.



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