international - 2018 AUGUST

August 1

India imposed safeguard duty on solar cells imports from China and Malaysia for two years.
India imposed safeguard duty on solar panels imported from China and Malaysia for 2 years.
25 per cent safeguard duty has been imposed for July 30 to July 29, 2019, 20 per cent during July 30, 2019 to January 29, 2020 and 15 per cent during January 30, 2020 to July 29, 2020.
Solar tariffs are currently at around Rs 2.75 per unit, on par with that of thermal power, but safeguard duty is expected to raise it by at least 50 paise.
India has produced 842 MW solar cells in 2017-18. And the imports of the solar cells have jumped to 9,790 MW in 201 7-18 from 1,275 MW in 2014-15.

UAE launches amnesty scheme for overstayers.
The UAE launched a landmark three-month visa amnesty programme that will benefit hundreds of illegal foreign workers, including Indians, who are overstaying their permits. The programme allows the workers to leave the country without paying penalty and also gives them six months to find a job.
The UAE is home to 2.8 million Indian expatriates, the largest expatriate community in the country.
The government did not release specific numbers, primarily labourers from countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines, will benefit from the amnesty scheme.
As per Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), the entity responsible for entry and residence of foreigners in the UAE. Those who have been blacklisted and those who have legal cases against them are not eligible for amnesty.

August 2

World's first intertidal art gallery opens in Maldives.
An intertidal art gallery, filled with around 30 sculptures acting as a habitat for coral and other marine species, was opened in the Maldives.
The gallery, called the Coralarium, is located at the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort.
At a depth of 3 m in the lagoon, it features semi-submerged exhibits that disappear and reappear as the tide goes in and out.
Designed by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, the installation was completed after nine months of work and will live as an evolving monument in the sea.

India elected president of Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development.
India was elected as the president of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, a regional inter-governmental organisation established in 1977 under the auspices of UNESCO.
India got the presidency of the organisation, servicing countries of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development, for the first time by defeating Iran in the election that took place in Sri Lanka.
Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) was established in 1977 under the auspices of UNESCO. It is hosted by Malaysia and its secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur.
The AIBD is mandated to achieve a vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in the Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development.

August 3

China loses spot as world's number 2 stock market: Bloomberg.
China's stock market has been overtaken as the world's second-biggest by Japan's, having been swiped this year by the threat of a trade war with the United States and slowing economic growth.
The value of equities on the mainland had slipped behind those in their neighbouring country for the first time since taking the number-two spot in 2014.
The figures showed Chinese stocks were worth USD 6.09 trillion, compared with USD 6.17 trillion in Japan.

India-Israel collaborate to strengthen sectors of agri, health & environment.
The growing India-Israel relationship took a step further as six Israeli startups with innovative technologies in the fields of healthcare, agriculture and water management interacted with various Indian businesses.
The innovation was jointly started over a year ago by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu along with Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) and Invest India and represents a peak in the relationship between the two countries.
Designed with the purpose of helping Israeli companies leverage their technologies, develop, adapt and commercialize their innovation in the Indian sub-continent, the India-Israel Innovation Bridge is managed by the Israel Innovation Authority, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India and Invest India.

August 4

UN agency warns of another possible Yemen cholera outbreak.
The UN children's agency warned the potential for another cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen after airstrikes hit water facilities and other civilian infrastructure in the port city of Hodeida.
Impoverished Yemen has been devastated by a stalemated three-year civil war that has left around two-thirds of Yemen's population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starving.
UNICEF-supported sanitation center in the district of Zabid in Hodeida came under attack, damaging the facility's fuel tank. The water station in the district of al-Mina, which provides Hodeida with most of its water, was hit.

August 5

UK unveils new organ donation plan to address Indian-origin shortages.
The UK government announced new plans to change the law for organ and tissue donation to address the urgent need for organs within Indian-origin communities in the country.
The proposed new system of consent for organ and tissue donation is expected to come into effect in England in 2020 as part of a drive to help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people desperately waiting for a life-saving transplant.
Under the new presumed consent system, those who do not want to donate their organs will be able to record their decision on the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) Organ Donor Register (ODR).
Organ donation is, of course, a deeply personal choice, and for many, their faith will play an important factor in their decision, UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities.

August 6

Sushma Swaraj embarks on three-nation visit to Central Asia.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj embarked on a three-nation visit to Central Asia region. Sushma Swaraj will be visiting Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.
It should be noted that it is her first trip to these countries as External Affairs Minister.
During her visit to Astana, Kazakhstan, Swaraj will hold a bilateral meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov. She is also scheduled to interact with the Indian community in the country.

August 7

Once-eased U.S. economic sanctions against Iran back in effect.
The first set of U.S. sanctions against Iran that had been eased under the landmark nuclear accord have gone back into effect.
An executive order by President Donald Trump reimposed the sanctions on financial transactions that involve U.S., Iran’s automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold.
U.S sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be reimposed in early November. The stiff economic sanctions ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic despite statements of deep dismay from European allies. Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities.
Iran is accusing the U.S. of reneging on the nuclear agreement, signed by the Obama administration, and of causing recent Iranian economic unrest. European allies say they “deeply regret” the U.S. action.

August 8

Mendocino Complex becomes largest wildfire in California history.
The Mendocino Complex became the largest wildfire in Californian history at the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest where crews battled to keep flames from descending into foothill communities.
The Mendocino Complex Fire, made up of two separate conflagrations that merged, grew to 283,800 acres (114,800 hectares). The fire surpassed the Thomas Fire, which burned 281,893 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in 2017, as prime weather conditions are expected to persist.
The Mendocino Complex, which has destroyed 75 homes and forced thousands to flee, is the largest of eight major wildfires burning out of control across California, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a ''major disaster'' in the state.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale in U.S. ahead of 2+2 talks.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale arrived in the American capital for talks with senior U.S. officials ahead of the first India-U.S. 2+2 dialogue in Delhi. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis are scheduled to travel to India for the 2+2 dialogue with their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, respectively.
Mr. Gokhale is scheduled to meet with officials from the White House, and Departments of State and Defense .
Both sides are encouraged by the buoyancy in bilateral ties, soon after the postponement of the 2+2 dialogue that was scheduled in Washington.
India has been granted the Strategic Trade Authorisation, or STA-1, status that placed it with a group of 36 countries, mostly NATO allies. Japan and South Korea are the only Asian countries in this group. The status allows for sale of more sensitive technologies to India than was earlier permitted. Indian Navy also participated in the Rim of Pacific Multinational Naval exercise.

August 9

UAE top source of inward remittances in 2016-17: RBI.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as the top source of inward remittances, while Kerala has received the maximum funds sent from abroad.
UAE’s share in total remittances was 26.9%, followed by the United States (22.9%), Saudi Arabia (11.6%), Qatar (6.5%) and Kuwait (5.5%). 82% of the total remittances received by India originated from eight countries - UAE, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
Among destinations, Kerala has the highest share with 19%, followed by Maharashtra (16.7%), Karnataka (15%), Tamil Nadu (8%) and Delhi (5.9%). Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu together received 58.7% of total remittances.
More than half of remittances received by Indian residents were used for family maintenance, i.e., consumption (59.2%), followed by deposits in banks (20%) and investments in landed property and shares (8.3%).

August 10

Curtain Raiser: Exercise SCO Peace Mission 2018.
As part of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) initiatives, SCO Peace Mission Exercise is conducted biennially for SCO member states. The joint exercise for the year 2018 will be conducted by Central Military Commission of Russia from 22 August to 29 August 2018 at Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk, Russia.
This will be a historic occasion due to the maiden participation of India post becoming a full member of the SCO in June 2017. This exercise marks a major milestone in the multilateral relations of SCO member nations.
The exercise will involve tactical level operations in an international counter insurgency or counter terrorism environment under SCO Charter.
Indian contingent of 200 personnel is primarily composed of troops from infantry and affiliated arms & services alongwith Indian Air Force. The Indian contingent has been put through a strenuous training schedule which includes firing, heliborne operations, combat conditioning, tactical operations and house intervention drills.

August 11

Maldives seeks scaling back of Indian presence as it woos China.
The Maldives wants India to withdraw military helicopters and personnel posted their following the expiry of an agreement in June, the latest snub to New Delhi by President Abdulla Yameen's China-backed government.
India and China are going head to head in the Maldives, the Indian Ocean island chain where Beijing is building roads, bridges and a bigger airport, upstaging India which has been the country's prime provider of military and civilian aid for decades.
The tensions are impacting aid programmes such as security assistance that New Delhi has given to smaller countries in the region to help them protect exclusive economic zones.
India and the Maldives are still conducting joint patrols in the islands' exclusive economic zone every month. The Maldives, 400 km (250 miles) to the southwest of India, is close to the world's busiest shipping lanes, between China and the Middle East.

August 12

Ranil Wickremesinghe hands over India-built houses in Sri Lanka’s estates.
Over 400 families living on the famed tea estates in Sri Lanka took possession of their new houses built with Indian assistance.
The construction of the homes is part of India’s commitment to build 4,000 homes in the island’s central highlands that is home to Malayaha Tamils. During his visit to the island last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an additional 10,000 homes in the area.
The nearly million-strong hill country, or Malayaha, Tamil community, distinct from those living in the war-affected north and east, comprises descendants of labourers that the British brought down from South India to work on the estates.
The current government has taken some measures to provide individual housing to estate workers authorities have estimated 1,60,000 homes initially and India is also contributing towards the initiative, helping build 14,000 homes.

U.S. urges U.K. to ditch backing for Iran deal.
The United States urged Britain to ditch its support for the Iran nuclear deal and instead join forces with Washington to counter the global threat.
U.S. Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson criticised Tehran for funding “proxy wars and malign activities” instead of investing in its economy. America is turning up the pressure and we want the U.K. by our side.
The British Foreign Office pointed to comments from Minister of State Alistair Burt, who last week ruled out Britain going along with the United States.
The deal was an important part of regional security and that, with the European Union, the government was trying to protect British companies from the U.S. sanctions when dealing with Iran.

August 13

Trump signs $716 bn defence bill into law to authorise military spending.
US President Donald Trump signed the $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law.
The bill for the fiscal year 2019 was named after Republican Senator John Mccain, a former Republican presidential nominee and one of Trump's leading critics within the party.
The bill provides about $616.9 billion for the base Pentagon budget, $21.9 billion for nuclear weapons and $69 billion in war funding.
It also authorizes a 2.6 per cent pay raise for members of the military, boosts the ranks of the US military services by 15,600 active troops and approves the purchase of 13 new Navy warships and 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

August 14

Elon Musk says Silver Lake, Goldman advising on taking Tesla private.
Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk would work with buyout firm Silver Lake and investment bank Goldman Sachs as financial advisers on a proposal to take private the electric car maker.
Silver Lake was offering its assistance to Musk without compensation and had not been hired as a financial adviser in an official capacity. Moreover, Silver Lake is not currently discussing participating in the deal as an investor.
Musk shocked with the announcement that he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 a share, a price that valued Tesla at more than $70 billion, and that he had "funding secured''.

Australia recommences its adoption programme with India.
The Government of Australia has decided to recommence the Adoption Programme with India, as per Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption. The adoptions from India had earlier been put on hold by the Government of Australia eight years ago.
The regulation of Inter-country adoptions has been made strict by the Government of India with the enactment of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and notification of Adoption Regulations, 2017.
The Ministry of Women & Child Development along with Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) have been constantly engaging with Australian Government for recommencement of the Adoption Programme.
The recommencement of the adoption programmes will now enable large number of prospective adoptive parents including those of Indian origin settled in Australia in fulfilling their desire of adopting a child from India.

August 15

India releases additional funds for Nepal's Postal Highway.
The Indian Government released additional NPR 470 million for the Postal Highway being constructed in Southern Plains of Nepal.
Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri handed over a cheque worth NPR 470 million to the Secretary of Nepal's Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Madhusudan Adhikari.
The amount has been released to maintain fund liquidity for the ongoing construction of 14 road packages under Postal Highway Project. With this payment, a total of NPR 2.35 billion stands released to the Government of Nepal out of the total grant assistance of NPR 8.00 billion committed by the Government of India for implementing 14 packages under Packages 2-6 of Phase I of the Postal Highway Project. The highway was inaugurated on January 19 last year.

Sri Lanka gets $39 million military funding from US.
Washington D.C (United States of America) In a move to counter China's increasing influence on Sri Lanka, the United States has announced that it would grant the Indian ocean island a $39 million to boost its maritime security.
Hambantota port, which is considered the world's busiest east-west shipping route, also gave China a strong foothold in a region which was long dominated by India.
It should be noted that the United States stopped selling arms to Sri Lanka when the country was ravaged by the civil war, which came to an end in 2009. The US was also severely critical of former Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapakse on grounds of human rights.
China, on the other hand, promised Sri Lanka to provide financial help, including loans, notwithstanding the country facing mounting debt. It was in June 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailed Sri Lanka out with a $1.5 billion loan.

Transgender candidate wins U.S. primary.
Christine Hallquist won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the U.S. State of Vermont, moving a step closer to becoming the nation’s first transgender Governor, U.S.
In another ground-breaking political moment, Somali-American State legislator Ilhan Omar claimed victory in her primary in Minnesota, putting her on track to become one of the first woman Muslim members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

August 16

Pakistan telecom authority threatens to ban Twitter.
Twitter has been warned by Pakistan’s telecom authority that the micro-blogging site could be banned in the country for not complying with its directive to block objectionable content.
Facebook was banned in the country twice in 2008 and then again in 2010. In September 2012, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked access to YouTube throughout the country for over two years.
The PTA informed the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat that while Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms complied with requests from the government to block objectionable content, Twitter did not oblige.
The PTA has conveyed the court’s concern to Twitter, but has not got a response. The regulatory authority will implement court orders if Twitter does not respond to the final notice.

Thailand to ban imports of high-tech trash, plastic waste.
Thailand will ban imports of 432 types of scrap electronics within six months, the latest country to respond to China’s crackdown on imports of high-tech trash this year.
Southeast Asia nations fear they are the new dumping ground for the world’s trash after China banned the entry of several types of waste as part of a campaign against “foreign garbage”.
Thailand’s ban comes weeks after regional neighbour Vietnam would stop issuing new licenses for waste imports and crack down on illegal shipments of paper, plastic and metal.
Thailand’s military government has improving the country’s waste management infrastructure is a priority and set goals for 2021. A tax on plastic bags has also been mentioned, along with a target to recycle up to 60 percent of plastic by 2021.

Turkey retaliates against U.S. tariffs.
Turkey doubled tariffs on some U.S. imports, including alcohol, cars and tobacco in retaliation for U.S. moves, while the lira rallied further after the central bank’s liquidity moves had the effect of supporting the currency.
Ankara acted amid increased tension between the two NATO allies over Turkey’s detention of a Christian American pastor and other diplomatic issues, which have helped send the lira tumbling to record lows against the dollar.
The currency has lost nearly 40% against the dollar this year, driven by worries over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s growing influence on the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.
A decree signed by Mr. Erdogan doubled Turkish tariffs on passenger cars to 120%, on alcoholic drinks to 140% and on leaf tobacco to 60%. Tariffs were also doubled on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.

August 17

Bhutan King, ministers from South Asian neighbours to attend Vajpayee funeral.
Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk is scheduled to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with a host of global envoys and dignitaries.
Pakistan’s Acting Law and Information Minister and the foreign ministers of Nepal and Bangladesh are also scheduled to be at the cremation of the departed leader who received rich tributes from global capitals.
Mr Vajpayee was a renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations and remained a key supporter of SAARC and regional cooperation for development.
The Government and people of Pakistan extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and to the Government and people of India. There is a void in the politics of South Asia after his death. There can be political differences but the desire of peace remains present across the border.

Pakistan confirms U.S. suspended military training program.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry has confirmed the suspension of a U.S. military training program for Pakistani soldiers. Announcement by the ministry reflects continued tensions between the two allies in the war on terror.
The training of Pakistani soldiers in the United States is the latest program to be hurt by the cutoff of security aid to Pakistan, which was announced at the beginning of this year.
The United States often accuses Pakistan of harboring militant groups and providing safe havens for insurgents who carry out attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies and says U.S. criticism is unfair.
Pakistan also repeatedly reminds the United States that it has lost thousands of soldiers more than the U.S. and NATO combined in Afghanistan fighting militants on its territory.

August 18

Maduro unveils reforms to revive crisis-hit economy.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced a single exchange rate pegged to his government’s petro cryptocurrency, effectively devaluing by 96% in a move economists would fan hyperinflation in the chaotic country.
In one of the biggest economic overhauls of Mr. Maduro’s five-year government, the former bus driver and he would hike the minimum wage by over 3,000%, boost the corporate tax rate, and increase highly-subsidised gas prices in coming weeks.
But economists expressed doubts that Venezuela’s cash-strapped government, which faces U.S. sanctions and has defaulted on its bondholders, would succeed. Venezuelans will see their meagre salaries further eroded and companies will struggle with major increases to both taxes and the minimum wage.

Saudi Arabia tests Japan-inspired ‘nap pods’ for hajj.
Mansour al-Amer swipes a card to reveal a narrow sleep pod, reminiscent of Japan’s famed capsule hotels. But this pod is in Saudi Arabia, where the Muslim hajj pilgrimage begins.
The kingdom has plans to introduce capsule rooms in the western city of Mina in the coming days, as an estimated two million Muslim faithful gather for the six-day hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Amer is the head of a Saudi charity, the Haji and Mutamer Gift Charitable Association, which is offering between 18 and 24 capsule for pilgrims to nap in for free in the coming days.
Each napper will have three hours of access to the pods, which are imported from Japan at cost of around $1,114 (1,000 euros) each.

August 19

Taiwan improves missiles to counter China military expansion
Defense experts Taiwan is responding to China’s arms buildup by developing missiles and interceptors of its own that could reduce Beijing’s military advantage over the self-ruled island.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, Taiwan has deployed one set of missiles, perfected another and sped production of a third. Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken a hard line against advocates of independence for the self-governed island democracy and has sent warships, bombers and fighter planes on training missions circling the island in a show of strength.
Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan, says while Beijing has an increasingly overwhelming military advantage, Taiwan’s missile systems advance its odds of holding off China in asymmetrical warfare.

August 20

Germany to trump Japan again with world’s largest current account surplus: Ifo.
Germany's current account surplus is set to remain the world's largest this year despite increased trade tensions, the Ifo institute, in an estimate likely to renew criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel's fiscal policies.
Germany's current account surplus which measures the flow of goods, services and investments - will remain the world's largest for the third year running in 2018 at $299 billion, followed by Japan with $200 billion.
The Netherlands are likely to come in third with a current account surplus of roughly 110 billion dollars while China will not be among the top three surplus countries due to a surge in imports and lower returns from capital held abroad.
The Turkish lira has lost nearly 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year, hit by a worsening diplomatic rift with the United States and by investor alarm about President Tayyip Erdogan's influence over monetary policy. Germany is the second biggest foreign investor in Turkey.

Greece exits final bailout successfully: ESM.
Greece has successfully exited its final, three-year bailout programme, agreed in August 2015 to help it cope with the continued fallout from a debt crisis, the euro zone's ESM rescue fund.
The ESM programme with no more follow-up rescue programmes as, for the first time since early 2010, Greece can stand on its own feet.
This was possible thanks to the extraordinary effort of the Greek people, the good cooperation with the current Greek government and the support of European partners through loans and debt relief.
The ESM has disbursed 61.9 billion euros over three years in support of macroeconomic adjustment and bank recapitalisation. A further 24.1 billion euros that was available to Athens under the programme was not needed.

Iran tells EU to speed up efforts to save nuclear deal.
Iran should accelerate its efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in May.
Europeans and other signatories of the deal [China and Russia] have been trying to save the deal but the process has been slow. It should be accelerated. Iran relies mainly on its own capabilities to overcome America's new sanctions.
European powers, China and Russia will do more to encourage their businesses to remain engaged with Iran. But the prospect of U.S. penalties appears to be enough to persuade European companies to keep out of Iran.

August 21

No indication NKorea nuclear activities have stopped: IAEA.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog had not seen any indication that nuclear activities in North Korea have stopped despite its pledges to denuclearise.
The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear programme and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern.
In 2009 Pyongyang expelled IAEA inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear site and has since refused to allow IAEA inspections on its territory. The watchdog has stepped up monitoring through open source information and satellite imagery.
As the Agency remains unable to carry out verification activities in the DPRK, its knowledge of the DPRK’s nuclear programme is limited and, as further nuclear activities take place in the country.

Australian dollar bounces on dented US$, brushes off messy politics.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars inched higher after President Donald Trump questioned the need for higher interest rates in the United States, undermining the US currency.
Fundamentally, the US economy is running a sizeable current account deficit, which needs the USD to weaken to rebalance. The Aussie got a lift to $0.7350, from a low of $0.7296 and a recent 18-month trough around $0.7203.
The New Zealand dollar inched up to $0.6652, and away from the recent two-and-a-half year low of $0.6545. Analysts noted the market was very short of the kiwi and vulnerable to being squeezed out of those positions.

Greece officially enters post-bailout era.
Greece remains shackled to the austerity demands of its former creditors even though it officially entered its post-bailout era. Though the country has little fear of new calls for cutbacks from abroad, its hard-won fiscal freedom still carries a high price.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras travelled to the western island of Ithaca - legendary home of the ancient mariner Odysseus, hero of Homer’s Odyssey epic, who spent ten years struggling to get back to his family after the siege of Troy.
Though Greece will no longer have to pass regular checks from creditors to get money it needs to avoid bankruptcy. During the past eight years, Greece avoided bankruptcy after getting loans worth some 260 billion euros (USD 300 billion) from the other countries that use the euro currency and from the International Monetary Fund.
Though Greece has turned a massive deficit on its annual budget into a sizeable surplus, further austerity measures remain on the horizon. Pre-agreed pension cuts and tax hikes lurk in 2019 and 2020. Greece has a 24 billion-euro cash buffer, set up with the help of bailout funds that will provide substantial breathing space up to the summer of 2020.

August 22

Wanted in China: Detailed digital maps for 30 million self-driving cars.
Chen Dan had doubts about betting millions of dollars to make high definition maps of Chinese roads. That was until she took charge of the business at NavInfo Co. and saw how they are essential to self-driving cars, with a demand that could reach into the billions.
Armed with one of just 14 mapping licenses in China, a permit system restricted to locals that locks out foreign rivals, Chen has built a team that will chart every traffic lane and on-ramp for 150,000 kilometers of highways by the middle of next year.
The mainland’s autonomous vehicle market could be worth $500 billion by 2030, and owns the most detailed and expansive versions will have an asset that could be worth billions of dollars.
China aspires to have 30 million autonomous vehicles by the end of the next decade but is being very careful about who helps it get there. Government sensitivity about security and access to key data drove the decision to lock out foreign firms, including Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and General Motors Co.’s Cruise.

China wants only the world's cleanest trash.
China’s Yunnan Xintongji Plastic Engineering Co not long ago employed 180 people making construction pipes fashioned from the 3 million pounds of plastic trash it imported from the US each year.
Then in January, the Chinese government pulled the plug on lots of American junk and demanded exporters send only the cleanest plastic and paper waste, free of contaminants such as grease and broken glass.
So XTJ and its US exporter, Atlanta businessman Song Lin, got creative. They’re readying their own recycling plant south of Macon, to collect scrap plastic, clean it, and “pelletise” it before shipping it to China.
These companies in China are absolutely starving for this material, another recycling consultant, Bob Gedert.

Iran unveils first domestic fighter jet.
Iran unveiled its first domestic fighter jet at a defence show in Tehran. It is a fourth-generation fighter, with "advanced avionics" and multi-purpose radar, adding that it was "100 per cent indigenously made".
The plane had already been through successful testing and showed it waiting on a runway for its first public display flight. The plane was first publicly announced by Defence Minister Amir Hatami.
The defence programme was motivated by memories of the missile attacks Iran suffered during its eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, and by repeated threats from Israel and the United States that "all options are on the table" in dealing with the Islamic republic.

August 23

US impose preliminary anti-dumping duties of over 50% on metal pipes made in India.
The US has imposed preliminary anti-dumping duties on metal pipes imported from India, China, Canada and three other countries. India has been slapped with an anti-dumping duty of 50.55% while China will face 132% duties.
At $295 million, India is the only country on the list that had greater exports of the pipe to the US last year than Canada.
The other countries being hit with duties are China (132.63 per cent), Greece (22.51 per cent), Canada (24.38 per cent), South Korea (14.97 to 22.21 per cent) and Turkey (3.45 to 5.29 per cent).
Since the beginning of the current Administration, Commerce has initiated 120 new anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations. This is a 216 per cent increase from the comparable period in the previous administration.

35% of cyber attacks on Indian sites from China.
National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and other security agencies by a department under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has that the maximum number of cyber attacks on official Indian websites are from China, US and Russia.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which comes under the ministry, analysed cyber attacks from April-June 2018. CERT-In is the nodal agency which deals with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing.
It has been observed that China continues to “intrude” Indian cyberspace in a “significant” way. “The cyber attacks from China made up 35% of the total number of cyber attacks on official Indian websites, followed by US (17%), Russia (15%), Pakistan (9%), Canada (7%) and Germany (5%).

August 24

Indian, Pakistani troops take part for the first time in SCO military drill.
For the first time, the militaries of India and Pakistan are taking part in a mega anti-terror drill of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Russia aimed at expanding cooperation among the member countries to deal with the growing menace of terrorism and extremism.
India is participating in the drill for the first time since becoming a full member of the SCO in June 2017.
The joint exercise is being conducted by the Central Military Commission of Russia from August 22 to August 29 at Chebarkul, Russia.
The exercise will involve tactical level operations in an international counter insurgency or counter terrorism environment under the SCO Charter. Ten representatives from Uzbekistan will serve as observers, state-run Global Times reported.

Indian Navy’s Biggest Ship, INS Vikramaditya will get an upgrade for Its Air Wing by Russian company.
On August 24 2018, India’s only aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya will be upgraded and fitted with a marine hydraulic system to boost the air operations of the ship for the first time.
Indian Navy's Biggest Ship, INS Vikramaditya will get an upgrade for Its Air Wing by Russian companyi. This will be done by Technodinamika, a subsidiary of Russia’s Rostec State Corporation by May 2019.
Hydraulics technology uses fluid pressure to power machines and the systems to be installed are named “GS-1MF” and “GS-3”.
They will be used for refuelling, cleaning and pressurisation of hydraulic systems of aircraft and helicopters on board the INS Vikramaditya. More specifically, the GS-1MF hydraulic system is used in helicopters, while GS-3 is used in aircraft.

August 25

China’s big ‘Belt and Road’ push in Africa.
In another era, White colonisers had landed on Africa’s coast in search of resources and slaves. The traumatic epoch of slave trade and European colonisation, with its horrific human consequences, formally ended in the 1960s and 1970s.
But arguably, the basic equation of Africa’s resource-rich periphery serving the metropolitan industrial centres in Europe and North America remained fundamentally unchanged.
It is not that Africa has not progressed. The African Union (AU) - the culmination of the pan-African dreams of an earlier generation of leaders such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Algeria’s radical ideologue Frantz Fanon - is a dynamic reality. South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt, among others, are regional powerhouses.
In this matrix, China has emerged as a game-changer in the 21st century. This is despite acerbic criticism from its detractors that Beijing is spearheading a second wave of colonisation through financial enslavement and other tools present in its well-stocked armoury. The Chinese establishment is dismissive of these accusations.

Rohingya seek justice, one year on.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees staged angry protests for “justice” on the first anniversary of a Myanmar military crackdown that sparked a mass exodus to camps in Bangladesh.
Many wept as they recalled the brutal killings and rapes inflicted on the Muslim minority last year as 7, 00,000 fled across the border.
The biggest refugee camp in the world is rigidly controlled by Bangladesh authorities and the peaceful but charged Rohingya marches and rallies seen there were unprecedented.

August 26

EU-India join hands to develop new Influenza vaccine.
The Indian government and the European Union (EU), joined hands for Rs. 240 crore research programme to develop a Next Generation Influenza Vaccine to protect citizens worldwide.
Both the EU and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) ), Government of India, have also committed EUR 15 million each to fund this joint call for the program named "Horizon 2020".
Speaking on the issue of developing a cost-effective and affordable influenza vaccine rapidly without compromising its quality, Ambassador of the European Union H.E. Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, "This joint call is another demonstration of the increased cooperation between the EU and India as committed by the leaders during the Summit in October 2017''.
While the projects require three applicants from both three European member states and India respectively, the call which will remain open until April 16, 2019, also allows applicants from other countries to join the EU-India consortia.

Flowers for U.S. Senator John McCain at Vietnam War crash site in Hanoi.
On the shores of a still and peaceful lake on the edge of downtown Hanoi, the inscription on a faded monument stands as a reminder of a violent event 51 years ago.
On Oct 26, 1967, at Truc Bach Lake, the military and people of Hanoi arrested Major John Sidney McCain, a pilot of the American Navy's air force, on the sculpture, which depicts an airman with his hands above his head in front of a broken plane wing.
McCain, a U.S. senator who ran unsuccessfully for president as a self-styled maverick Republican in 2008 and became a prominent critic of President Donald Trump.
The naval aviator was flying one of 10 planes that were shot down by the North Vietnamese military on the same day, the inscription on the statue, which McCain himself visited on a return to Vietnam in 2009.

Emmerson Mnangagwa takes oath as Zimbabwe's President.
Emmerson Mnangagwa took the oath as Zimbabwe's President in front of a stadium crowd after a divisive election, as U.S. observers of that vote questioned the country's democratic credentials.
The Constitutional Court confirmed Mr. Mnangagwa as President in a ruling released, dismissing a challenge by the man he defeated in the July 30 ballot, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
Thousands of people, some bused in from outside the capital, and foreign leaders gathered at Harare's national stadium for the swearing-in of Mr. Mnangagwa, who just secured the 50 percent of votes he needed to avoid a runoff against Chamisa.
He took the oath before Chief Justice Luke Malaba who, together with eight other Constitutional Court judges had dismissed Chamisa's petition.

August 27

China in struggle to curb reliance on US market, suppliers.
Faced with plunging U.S. orders, surgical glove maker Ren Jiding is hunting for new markets amid Chinese government calls to reduce reliance on the United States. But none can absorb the 60 percent of his sales that went to American customers last year.
Beijing has announced tariff cuts and other changes while rejecting U.S. demands to scale back plans such as “Made in China 2025,” which calls for state-led creation of Chinese champions in robotics, biotech and other fields. American leaders say those violate Beijing’s market-opening promises and might erode U.S. industrial leadership.
Mr. Trump has raised duties on a total of $50 billion of Chinese imports including ultrasound scanners and industrial components that Washington says benefit from improper policies. China retaliated with similar penalties. The U.S. is poised to raise duties on $200 billion of imports including the gloves made by Ren’s company.
The impact on China is small and is containable, at least for the time being. The “worst case” outlook if all threatened U.S. tariff hikes go ahead would cut China’s growth by 0.2 percentage points this year and 1.3 percent in 2019.

Iran to open lawsuit against U.S. sanctions at ICJ.
Iran will argue against renewed sanctions imposed by the United States, as a bitter legal battle between Tehran and Washington opens before the UN’s top court.
U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed a wave of tough unilateral sanctions on Iran three weeks ago, bringing back into effect harsh penalties that had been lifted under a landmark 2015 agreement.
Iran maintained restoring the penalties lifted under the historic 2015 deal, aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, violated a decades-old treaty signed between the two nations in 1955.
The ICJ - set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between countries - is expected to take a couple of months to decide whether to grant Tehran’s request for a provisional ruling.

August 28

U.S.-Mexico deal muddies waters for Canada in continental trade talks.
Back against the wall or holding all the cards: Analysts were split on Canada's position in continental trade negotiations after US President Donald Trump announced a breakthrough deal with Mexico
Interrupted a trip to France, Germany and Ukraine and headed to Washington to resume trilateral negotiations to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The leaders now look forward to having their teams engage this week with a view to a successful conclusion of negotiations. But in the announcement with Mexican officials, Mr. Trump took a hard line and Ottawa would be left on the sidelines.
Trilateral talks started a year ago at the behest of Mr. Trump, who railed against the original 1994 pact calling it a “ripoff” and a “disaster,” but now seem eager to close a new deal before the U.S. midterm elections.

U.S. military dominance in the Indo-Pacific spurs Chinese naval heft.
China has crossed yet another milestone for inducting a new aircraft carrier as part of its naval expansion to counter the military dominance of the United States in the Western Pacific.
Chinese state media is reporting that China’s second aircraft carrier, Type 002, being built at Dalian shipyard, has started the second phase of sea trials. Sea trails are essential to test and fine tune a brand new ship’s complex systems, paving the way for its entry into the navy.
For starters, it appears similar to Liaoning - China’s only aircraft carrier bought from Ukraine. The Liaoning underwent 10 sea trials starting in August 2011 before entering service in September 2012.
The new warship has an estimated displacement of around 50,000 tonnes, similar to that of Liaoning.

Facebook bans Myanmar military chief, others to ‘stop hate’.
Facebook has banning Myanmar’s powerful military chief and 19 other individuals and organisations from its site to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation.
The social media giant was heavily criticized for permitting itself to be used to inflame ethnic and religious conflict in the country, particularly against minority Rohingya Muslims.
It has been accused of being lax in fighting online misinformation and manipulation in many countries, but Myanmar is one where it has been most closely tied to deadly violence.
Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine over the past year in response to a brutal counterinsurgency campaign by the military, which has been accused of massive human rights violations.

August 29

Robot teachers in China’s kindergarten.
The Chinese kindergarten children giggled as they worked to solve puzzles assigned by their new teaching assistant: a roundish, short educator with a screen for a face. Just under 60 cm high, the autonomous robot named Keeko has been a hit in several kindergartens, telling stories and challenging children with logic problems.
The armless robot zips around on tiny wheels, with its inbuilt cameras doubling up both as navigational sensors and a front-facing camera allowing users to record video journals.
In China, robots are being developed to deliver groceries, provide companionship to the elderly, dispense legal advice and now, as Keeko’s creators hope, join the ranks of educators.
Keeko robots have entered more than 600 kindergartens across the country with its makers hoping to expand into Greater China and Southeast Asia. Beijing has invested money and manpower in developing artificial intelligence as part of its “Made in China 2025” plan.

Communist Party of China upholds Xi’s ‘core status’.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has issued new disciplinary guidelines, signalling consolidation of President Xi Jinping’s “core” status within the Party.
The CPC has strengthened the core status of General Secretary Xi Jinping, members’ loyalty and strict party governance in its newly revised disciplinary action, a move observers believe will fortify the party’s leadership in complex domestic and international situations.
Xinhua news agency had reported the new instructions, which were highlighted by People’s Daily - the flagship of the CPC. The Global Times write-up follows media reports that Mr. Xi’s stewardship of China has been criticised within the country’s intellectual elite, following Washington’s trade war with Beijing.
The ostensible negative fallout of the trade war was apparently also on the agenda of the “elders” - former leaders of the party-State — during their closed door annual meeting in early August with China’s top leaders at the Beidaihe coastal retreat near Beijing.

August 30

U.S. whistle-blower Chelsea Manning to be barred from Australia.
Convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning will not be allowed to enter Australia for a speaking tour scheduled to start. Think Inc. had received a notice of intention from the government to deny Manning entry.
The group is calling on her supporters to lobby new Immigration Minister David Coleman to allow her into Australia. While she can appeal, past precedent suggests the decision has already been made. This after a little bit of research and speaking to our legal counsel.
Ms. Manning was an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army when she leaked military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. She served seven years of a 35-year sentence before then-President Barack Obama granted her clemency in 2017.
The transgender activist who recently lost a long-shot bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland is scheduled to speak at the Sydney Opera House and has subsequent events in Australia and New Zealand.

2+2 dialogue an indication of deepening strategic partnership: U.S.
The maiden two-plus-two dialogue between India and the United States scheduled in New Delhi is an indication of the deepening strategic partnership between the two countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Defence Secretary Jim Mattis are set to fly to New Delhi for the talks.
They will be meeting their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, to discuss enhancing America’s engagement with India on critical diplomatic and security priorities, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at her daily news conference.
The importance of the U.S.-India strategic partnership is highlighted in the U.S. President’s National Security Strategy and the administration’s South Asia and Indo-Pacific strategies.

Australian PM leaves for Indonesia to conclude free trade deal.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison departed on his first official overseas visit to Indonesia to finalise a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the two nations.
The deal which comes after eight years of negotiations will help both nations collaborate on education, agriculture besides forging economic, security and strategic partnership, Xinhua news agency reported.
Mr. Morrison will meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo where the FTA negotiations will be concluded and the comprehensive strategic partnership will be signed.
It will allow Australian universities to own a stake in Indonesian institutions and also impact the agriculture sector Down Under, which exports around 50 % of its wheat to the Asian nation, followed by cotton, live animals, sugar and beef.

August 31

China to rein in online gaming industry.
China will restrict the number of video games and take steps to curb playing time by minors to address growing rates of childhood visual impairment as the government steps up its crackdown on the world’s biggest online gaming market.
A statement posted on the Education Ministry website late justified the new curbs as a way to counter worsening near-sightedness among minors, after President Xi Jinping.
But the move adds to perceptions that there is a broader campaign to rein in China’s fast-growing video game sub-culture after authorities already made clear their concerns over gaming addiction and the violent content of many shoot-em-up titles.
The education ministry statement, also endorsed by seven other ministries, they will “implement regulations and controls” on the number of games that can be played online, limit new releases, explore an age-restriction system for games, and take steps to reduce playing time by minors.

U.S. Navy seizes 1,000 smuggled rifles off war-torn Yemen.
The U.S. military seized over 1,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles being smuggled by small ships in the Gulf of Aden amid the ongoing war in nearby Yemen.
The seizure by the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham may mark the first such interdiction of weapons at sea bound for Yemen in years for American forces patrolling the region.
The short video released by the U.S. Navy was taken to show a skiff and a dhow, a traditional ship that commonly sails the waters of the Persian Gulf region. As the vessels bob in the high waves, people on the dhow toss large boxes into the skiff.
The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, sailors boarded the boats, uncovering the arms cache. Photos released by the Navy showed what appeared to be new Kalashnikov rifles wrapped in plastic.