international - 2016 MAY

May 1

ADMM Plus Exercise on Maritime Security and Counter Terrorism.
The ADMM-Plus (ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus) Exercise on Maritime Security and Counter Terrorism (Ex MS&CT) begins in Brunei and culminates at Singapore, with various drills and exercises in the South China Sea.
ADMM plus Ex MS & CT is aimed at enhancing mutual understanding with respect to maritime security issues and streamlining drills on counter-terrorism operations at sea.
The Indian Navy has been a regular participant in maritime exercises conducted by the ADMM countries.
The Indian Navy has sent one of its three Shardul-classes amphibious warfare ships INS Airavat to a maritime security and counter-terrorism exercise.
INS Airavat, is a Landing Ship Tank (Large), indigenously designed and built at GRSE, Kolkata. The ship has a lift capability of 500 troops, 10 tanks and 11 Combat Trucks, which allows to be effectively tasked for a variety of missions ranging from amphibious operations to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR).
During the exercise, the Indian Navy would engage with participating navies from Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, China, Japan, Russia, Australia, Republic of Korea and US, through professional interactions in harbour and complex operations at sea.

Venezuela raises minimum wage as high inflation bites.
Thousands of workers in Venezuela will receive a pay rise of 30 percent as the country's socialist government works towards improving its deteriorating economy.
Introduction of the minimum wage is aimed at calming tensions caused by runaway inflation and food shortages.
President Nicolas Maduro's government has been rocked by protests in response to the crisis.
About
Capital: Caracas
President: Nicolás Maduro
Currency: Venezuelan bolívar

May 2

Japan Announces $7 Billion Plan to Develop Mekong Region.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has announced a multi-billion dollar initiative to promote development in the Mekong region, which encompasses parts of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand through which the river flows.
Mr. Kishida affirmed the importance of Southeast Asia’s economic prosperity to Japan. He pledged 750 billion yen ($7 billion) in funding during the next three years to support development and growth in the region.
The initiative will help promote "connectivity" within Southeast Asian countries and Japan through funding in infrastructure and development of human resources.
Kishida also renewed his call for the establishment of a code of conduct in the South China Sea and that prosperity can only achieved if there is peace and stability in the region.
About Japan
Capital: Tokyo
Prime minister: Shinzō Abe
Currency: Japanese yen

May 3

First US Cruise Ship Sails To Cuba Since 1978.
A US cruise ship has docked in the Cuban capital, Havana, after sailing from Florida - the first such crossing in more than 50 years.
The Adonia was the first U.S.-owned ship to sail to Cuba from the United States since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.
Hundreds of tourists and a handful of emotional Cuban-Americans arrived on the cruise ship to sail to Havana.
The cruise trip went ahead after Cuba scrapped a ban on its citizens entering or leaving the island by sea.
It was another first for the two countries since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced a historic rapprochement in 2014.
The US Company Carnival operating the cruise had been given permission by both governments to sail ships between Florida and Cuba.
About Cuba
Capital: Havana
President: Raúl Castro
Prime minister: Raúl Castro
Currencies: Cuban peso

May 4

Financial inequality highest in India, China – IMF.
Financial inequality is highest in India and China among Asia Pacific countries despite the two being among the fastest growing economies, IMF announced.
According to IMF, China and India have grown rapidly and reduced poverty sharply.
This impressive economic performance has been accompanied by increasing levels of inequality.
In China, rapid industrialisation in particular regions and the concentration of foreign direct investment in coastal areas have led to substantial inequalities between coastal and interior regions.
In India, differences between rural and urban areas have increased, and have been accompanied by rising intra-urban inequality.
Many factors have been identified as key drivers of the inequality between rural and urban areas in China and India.
Rising inequality in India has been found to be primarily an urban phenomenon.
About China
Capital: Beijing
Currency: Yuan Renminbi
President: Xi Jinping

May 5

South Korea, Japan, China agree to ensure financial stability.
Top financial officials and central bank governors from South Korea, Japan and China agreed to make joint efforts in battling economic and financial uncertainties at both the national and regional levels.
The trilateral agreement has been inked in Frankfurt, Germany.
Countries pledged to closely monitor capital flows and risks stemming from capital flow volatility as well as carefully calibrate and clearly communicate our macroeconomic and structural policy actions.
Discussed current economic and financial situations at national, regional and global levels.
About China
Capital: Beijing
Currency: Yuan Renminbi
President: Xi Jinping
About Japan
Capital: Tokyo
Prime minister: Shinzō Abe
Currency: Japanese yen
About South Korea
Capital: Seoul
President: Park Geun-hye
Prime minister: Hwang Kyo-ahn
Currency: South Korean won

May 6

Zimbabwe to print own version of US dollar.
Zimbabwe is set to print its own version of the US dollar in order to ease a cash shortage in the country.
The government adopted US and South African currencies in 2009 after hyperinflation rendered the national currency unusable as the economy collapsed.
Zimbabwe must be the only place in the world to have eight currencies as legal tender.
A recent shortage of foreign notes led Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya to unveil a raft of radical measures, including limiting withdrawals to $1,000 or 20,000 South African rand per day.
The bank will introduce the note of $2, $5, $10, and $20, which will hold the same value as their US dollar counterparts.
The Central bank was still working on a design for the new notes, but they should be in circulation "within the next two months''.
About Zimbabwe
Capital: Harare
President: Robert Mugabe

Alberta declares state of emergency as wildfire forces Fort McMurray evacuation in Canada.
The Canadian province of Alberta has declared a state of emergency after a raging wildfire destroyed dozens of homes, engulfed several neighborhoods and forced the hurried evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurray.
Wind whipped wildfires, which broke out, have destroyed at least 1600 buildings and forced more than 80000 residents to flee.
Fort McMurray is the hub of the province’s main oil sands region.
Officials warned that the fire had the potential to destroy much of the town with a few neighborhoods already destroyed.
About Canada
Capital: Ottawa
Prime minister: Justin Trudeau

May 7

China bug declared world’s longest insect.
The insect, named Phobaeticus chani or Chan's megastick was discovered two years ago in the southern province of Guangxi, China declared the world’s longest insect.
A stick insect measuring 62.4 centimeters broken the record for length amongst the world’s 807,625 known insects.
The previous record-holder was a Malaysian 56.7 centimetre long stick insect discovered in 2008 and now on display in London’s Natural History Museum.
More than 3,000 varieties of stick insects have been discovered so far.
The species was also listed as one of the top 10 discoveries of the decade in the BBC television documentary Decade of Discovery.

Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia Agree on New Joint Patrols Amid Kidnappings.
Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines agreed to conduct coordinated maritime patrols as part of a broader plan to tackle rising security challenges in the waters bordering the three countries.
The countries’ foreign ministers and military officials reached an agreement in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta. The meeting was prompted by the recent kidnapping of 10 Indonesian sailors in the southwestern Philippines by Abu Sayyaf.
Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines share maritime borders along the Sulu and Celebes seas, through which 55 million tons of goods and over 18 million people pass each year.

May 8

UN launches multi-partner trust fund for Zika virus response.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the establishment of the UN Zika Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) to finance critical unfunded priorities in the response to the Zika outbreak.
The Fund, which aims to provide a rapid, flexible and accountable platform to support a coordinated response from the UN system and partners.
It will directly support the Zika Strategic Response Framework, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in consultation with UN agencies, partners and international epidemiological experts.
Donors contribute to a central point and an Advisory Committee directs funds to the highest-priority activities in the affected countries.
Since January 2015, 61 countries and territories have reported local transmission of Zika virus.
The Zika Strategic Response Framework aims to investigate and respond to the cluster of microcephaly and other neurological complications linked to Zika virus, increase preventive measures, communicate risks and provide care and support to those affected.

May 9

Greece passes pension, tax reform bill.
Greece's Parliament approved a bill reforming the debt-ridden country's pension and tax systems.
The bill, introduced as part of the requirements the country must meet under its third international bailout, is set to increase social security and pension contributions, and raise taxes for most people.
The bill was passed by the 153 lawmakers of the ruling Syriza-Independent government coalition in voting.
The government now expects creditors will move to lighten its debt burden, but most of those owed oppose forgiving part of Greece’s massive debt.
About Greece
Capital: Athen
Currency: Euro
Prime Minister: Alexis Tsipras
Air show opens in Dubai.
The Airport Show, whose 16th edition will be held from May 9 - 11 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC).
Over 300 leading global companies are expected to participate at the 2016 event, showcasing their latest technology, innovation and product offerings to a projected 7,500 attendees, including 150 hosted buyers and over 50+ regional aviation authorities expected to attend the event.
The Airport Show is an ideal platform for showcasing the latest technologies and learning about emerging trends and networking with key decision-makers and getting first-hand knowledge about the US $100 billion regional airport expansion and modernization programmes.
The show has recorded a 30 per cent growth in participants for the Business Connect programme with an all-time high participation of 154 buyers. This year's show will see buyers from - Algeria, Armenia, Bahrain, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the host country, UAE.

May 11

Norway sets up Panama Papers hotline.
Norway's white-collar crimes police unit established a telephone hotline for people seeking to confess to tax evasion linked to the Panama Papers documents leak and those who come forward could expect more lenient treatment.
The initiative was announced one day after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a database containing a small fraction of the more than 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, making it possible for anyone to search the released documents.
Oekokrim has set up a phone number that can be used by those who wish to put their cards on the table and provide information about potential income or capital abroad which is not available to the Norwegian tax authorities the agency responsible for tackling economic crime.
Obama 1st serving US President to visit Hiroshima.
Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. President to visit Hiroshima, the first target of an atomic bomb 70 years ago.
The Republicans have accused Mr. Obama of being on a perpetual global apology tour - referring to his various remarks that sought to recalibrate U.S. positions towards Europe, the Muslim world and the war on terror.
Many conservative commentators and politicians think Mr. Obama’s foreign policy has diminished the superpower status of the U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump’s ‘Make American Great Again’.
France to set up deradicalisation centres.
France will create centers in each region of the country to de-radicalise people or prevent them becoming involved in jihadist groups. The fight against jihadism is without doubt the big challenge of our generation.
The plan, which will cost an additional 40 million Euros (USD 45.5 million) by 2018 on top of the current funding, aims to double existing efforts to try to help people already in jihadist networks or those likely to join such groups.
The measures are a response to the deaths of 147 people in jihadist attacks in France last year.
Jihadist gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a Jewish supermarket, killing 17 people, and then 130 people were killed in coordinated attacks on the capital claimed by the Islamic State group.

May 12

India committed to a strong partnership for protection of children within SAARC countries.
The three day meeting of SAARC Countries on protection of children ended with the Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi. The meeting of South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC) was held to assess the progress made in collective effort to promote child rights and make the SAARC region safe for children.
The Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh the SAARC region is home to the world’s largest population of children. Children are our most precious resource and it is most critical to safeguard the innocence and security of childhood.
Highlighting the importance of SAIEVAC, it is a coalition of States which aims at protection of the rights of children, particularly protection of children from all forms of discrimination, abuse, neglect, exploitation, torture, trafficking i.e. any kind of violence.
The SAIEVAC meeting will provide the subsequent agenda in terms of strengthening the institutional and coordination mechanisms and to develop a regional strategy that defines clear milestones towards the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
About SAARC
Headquarters: Kathmandu
Secretary-General: Arjun Bahadur Thapa
US-India Defence Cooperation Act introduced in Senate.
Two top American senators have introduced a legislation which if passed by Congress would elevate the status of the Indo-US defence relationship on par with that of America's closest allies like NATO and Israel.
The US-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act was introduced in the Senate by Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn - co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus.
The legislation, a similar version of the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives, institutionalizes the US government's focus on the US-India security relationship while sending a powerful signal to India that the US is a reliable and dependable defence partner.
This bill supports strengthening our bilateral relationship, particularly in defence, and bestows upon India the status it deserves as a partner in promoting security in Asia and around the world issued by US India Business Council (USIBC) which applauded the bill.
As an important partner with a flourishing economy, India has huge potential as a market for US defence manufacturers, which support millions of American jobs.
India, China, 3 others sign pact on tax info sharing.
India and five other nations, including China and Israel, signed a pact for automatic exchange of information on tax issues and develop new tools and standards for tackling tax base erosion and evasion.
As part of continuing efforts to boost transparency by multinational enterprises (MNEs), Canada, Iceland, India, Israel, New Zealand and the People's Republic of China signed the Multilateral Competent Authority agreement for the automatic exchange of Country-by-Country reports, bringing the total number of signatories to 39 countries.
The signing ceremony took place Beijing. The pact allows all signatories to bilaterally and automatically exchange Country-by-Country Reports with each other.
It will help ensure that tax administrations obtain a complete understanding of how MNEs structure their operations, while also ensuring that the confidentiality of such information is safeguarded.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued final tax policy recommendations stemming from its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project.
Islamic State releases app for children.
ISIS has launched its first mobile app for children to teach them the Arabic alphabet and the vocabulary taught by it includes jihadist themes along with words like ‘tank’, ‘gun’ and ‘rocket’.
The Islamic State’s ‘Library of Zeal’ has released an application for teaching the Arabic alphabet to children on Android devices.
The vocabulary taught within the application includes jihadist themes. The application was released through Islamic State Telegram channels and on other file sharing websites.

May 13

WHO proposes faster test for superbug form of TB.
The World Health Organization recommended a speedier, cheaper treatment plan for patients with superbug forms of tuberculosis (TB) - a change that should help cure thousands of the killer disease.
The WHO's leading TB expert was a critical step forward in tackling the "public health crisis" of multi drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), the Geneva-based health agency that the new treatment plan could now be completed in 9-12 months rather than the two years previously recommended.
The shorter treatment regimen also costs significantly less - at just under $1,000 per patient in developing countries
The new WHO recommendations offer hope to hundreds of thousands of MDR-TB patients who can now benefit from a test that quickly identifies eligibility for the shorter regimen, and then complete treatment in half the time and at nearly half the cost.
Pakistan set to get $510 million from IMF.
Pakistan is poised to get USD 510 million from the IMF as part of a three-year, USD 6.7 billion assistance programme.
The International Monetary Fund reviewed Pakistan's economic performance before saying that USD 510 million will be available under a three-year, USD 6.7 billion financial assistance programme.
The agreement was reached after the IMF mission held discussions with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Ashraf Wathra and other senior officials in Dubai.
Dawn reported that the money will be provided when the review is approved by the IMF's management and executive board.
After productive discussions, the mission and the Pakistani authorities have reached staff-level agreement on the completion of the eleventh review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement.

May 14

U.S. lauds Belgium for starting air strikes in Syria against Islamic State.
Belgium will extend its F-16 air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq into Syria, as it grapples with the aftermath of deadly IS-claimed bomb attacks in Brussels in March.
Belgium launched its first attacks against IS in Iraq in late 2014 as part of the U.S led coalition, but decided against strikes in Syria amid public fears over getting dragged into a wider conflict.
However, the November 13 Paris attacks which left 130 people dead brought home the IS threat to the heart of Europe and changed sentiment sharply.
The Belgium government was reconsidering its position, as it did not make sense to attack IS in Iraq but not in Syria.
The Paris and Brussels attacks have both been linked to the same jihadist cell with links to Islamic State in Syria.

May 15

China launches a remote sensing satellite to carry out land surveys.
China successfully launched a remote sensing satellite to carry out land surveys and disaster relief.
The satellite named Yaogan-30 was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwestern China's Gobi Desert.
The satellite will be used for experiments, land surveys, crop yield estimates and disaster relief, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Yaogan-30 was carried by a Long March-2D rocket, the 227th mission for the Long March rocket family.
White House launched project to study microbes.
The White House is launched the National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) - an ambitious plan to better understand the microbes that live in humans, other animals, crops, soils, oceans, and more.
These miniscule organisms are attracting mammoth budgets: federal agencies are committing $121 million to the NMI over the next two years, while more than 100 universities, non-profits, and companies are chipping in another $400 million.
There’s a tendency of read “microbiome” and automatically see “human” before it. But that’s a narcissistic view.
New York-based law firm hires 1st ever AI lawyer.
New York-based law firm BakerHostetler recently hired ROSS, 'the world's first artificially intelligent lawyer', which is powered by Watson, an IBM-developed AI system capable of processing natural language.
After being asked a question, ROSS reads through the law and gathers evidence to give relevant and evidence-based answers. It also monitors the law for changes that can affect a certain case.

May 16

World's First Robot Lawyer Hired By US Firm.
The world's first artificial intelligence lawyer has been employed by a law firm in the US, which will use the robot to assist its various teams in legal research.
The robot called 'ROSS' is built upon Watson, IBM's cognitive computer. With the support of Watson's cognitive computing and natural language processing capabilities.
Lawyers can ask ROSS their research question and the robot reads through the law, gathers evidence, draws inferences and returns highly relevant, evidence-based answers.
BakerHostetler, a US-based law firm, will license ROSS for use in its Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Creditors' Rights team.
India, Bangladesh power ties with 21st century nuclear deal.
India inked a 21st century nuclear agreement with Bangladesh to engage the bilateral neighborhood relationship between two nations.
The nuclear agreement is negotiated between the Minister of External Affairs and the Bangladesh department of science and technology over the past few months. But this is only a part of the bigger play the two countries are engaged in.
The Indian nuclear deal will equip and train Bangladesh to import their first nuclear power plant from Russia. It's a very big deal for Bangladesh and almost unique for India.
Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan visited the Dhaka and assured to send diesel to Bangladesh from West Bengal.

May 17

British royals launch campaign to tackle stigma of mental health.
British Royals Prince William, Princess Kate and Prince Harry launched the Heads Together campaign at Queen Elizabeth Park in East London.
Campaign aims to work with charities "to change the national conversation on mental wellbeing".
Campaign will be executed the Royal Foundation in partnership with eight charities that have decades of experience in tackling stigma and raising awareness. It is the single biggest project the three British Royals have undertaken together so far.
Prince William will target young men at risk for suicide and Princess Kate will focus on childhood mental health.
Prince Harry will focus on military members and veterans and help them cope with the mental health challenges.
Italy Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions.
After decades of struggle by gay rights groups, and months of contested political negotiations, the Italian Parliament on gave final approval to a law recognizing civil unions of same-sex couples.
With this, Italy has become the last country in Western Europe to do so. However, the bill has yet to be assented by the Italian President.
More than 20 countries have legalized gay marriage. The law also makes this right available to unmarried heterosexual couples.
The proposed law legalize same-sex couples many of the same rights as married heterosexual couples. Partners in a civil union can apply for public housing as couples.
They can also inherit their partners’ pensions. Assets inheritance guidelines will be the same as for married couples.
About Italy
Capital: Rome
Currency: Euro
President: Sergio Mattarella
Prime minister: Matteo Renzi

May 18

'Emergency Lessons' campaign highlights importance of education for children in conflict and disaster zones.
The European Union and UNICEF launched ''Emergency Lessons'', a new campaign to highlight the importance of education for children affected by emergencies.
The social media-driven public awareness campaign aims to reach 20 million Europeans, especially those 25 and under, in Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom and inspire them to raise their voices on behalf of millions of children and adolescents whose education has been interrupted by emergencies.
The Emergency Lessons campaign draws on the real-life experiences of children living through emergencies in countries such as Guinea, Iraq, Nepal and Ukraine.
Nearly one in four of the world’s school-aged children – 462 million – now lives in 35 countries affected by crises, including an estimated 75 million children who are in desperate need of educational support.
The campaign also celebrates the other benefits of going to school – the friends made, the teachers who support children through trauma, the stability found in the routine of attending classes.
About UNICEF
Headquarters: New York, United States
CEO: Anthony Lake
Parent organization: United Nations Economic and Social Council
Founded: December 11, 1946
About European Union
Headquarters: City of Brussels, Belgium
Member states: 28 states

U.S. eases sanctions on Myanmar in bid to promote reforms.
The United States eased some sanctions on Myanmar to support ongoing political reforms, but maintained most of its economic restrictions.
US easing sanctions to encourage the "historic" progress in Myanmar, including the formation of the country's first democratically elected government in more than 50 years.
The moves included removing Myanmar state-owned banks from a U.S. blacklist and the lifting of sanctions against seven key state-owned timber and mining companies.
However, most restrictions on trade and investment with Myanmar's still-powerful army remained in place.
Despite the sanctions lifting, Washington has deep concerns about alleged human rights violations in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, particularly violence against the minority Rohingya Muslims.
About Myanmar
Capital: Naypyidaw
President: Htin Kyaw
Currency: Burmese kyat

US Senate passes bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. Senate passed legislation that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia's government for damages, setting up a potential showdown with the White House, which has threatened a veto.
The "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act'', or JASTA, passed the Senate by unanimous voice vote. It must next be taken up by the US House of Representatives, where no vote has yet been scheduled.
The Saudis, who deny responsibility for the 2001 attacks, strongly object to the bill. They announced that they might sell up to $750 billion in U.S. securities and other American assets in retaliation if it became law.
About United States of America
Capital: Washington, D.C
President: Barack Obama
Currency: United States dollar

May 19

India and Slovenia have signed Protocol amending the India-Slovenia Double Taxation Avoidance Convention.
India and Slovenia have signed a Protocol amending the existing Convention and Protocol between the two countries for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income in Ljubljana.
The Protocol was signed by Mr. Sarvajit Chakravarti, Ambassador of India to Slovenia on behalf of India and Mr. Dusan Mramor, the Slovenian Minister of Finance on behalf of Slovenia.
The Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.
About Slovenia
Capital: Ljubljana
Currency: Euro
Prime minister: Miro Cerar
President: Borut Pahor

May 20

India rushes two naval ships and C-17 aircraft to cyclone-hit Sri Lanka.
India is extending a helping hand to cyclone-hit Sri Lanka which is battling torrential rains and landslides which have caused significant devastation and loss of life.
India sends two naval ships and a C-17 aircraft with relief material like medicines and tents along with teams of rescue experts to Sri Lanka which has been severely battered by tropical cyclone Roanu.
Naval off Shore Patrol Vessel (NOPV) INS Sunayna and survey vessel INS Sutlej are being sent to Colombo coast from Southern Naval Command in Kochi.
The cyclone has wreaked havoc along Sri Lankan coast. 63 people have been killed and 134 were missing following massive landslides and floods in Aranayake and Bulathkohupitiya areas.
Over 300,000 people are housed in relief camps. 354 homes have been totally destroyed.
The cyclone has also put coastal states in India on high alert.
About Sri Lanka
Capital: Colombo
Prime minister: Ranil Wickremesinghe
President: Maithripala Sirisena
Currency: Sri Lankan rupee

Killing of bulls is banned at Toro de la Vega festival in Spain.
A bull-lancing festival known as "Toro de la Vega" (Bull of the Plain) which has spurred controversy in Spain will take place as usual in September but participants will no longer be allowed to kill the bull, Spanish authorities ruled.
The centuries-old event about 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Madrid has drawn increasing protests in recent years, with animal rights activists denouncing it as cruel and calling for a ban.
Government looks set to end bull killing at the region's annual Toro de la Vega festival in Tordesillas, where men on horseback chase down a bull and spear it in front of onlookers.
A survey conducted by animal protection charity Humane Society International (HSI) showed 74 per cent of 16 to 65-year-olds in the country want the bloody 'fiesta' to end.
The Toro de la Vega is one of thousands of violent fiestas which cause animals suffering and distress every year.
About Spain
Capital: Madrid
Prime minister: Mariano Rajoy
Currency: Euro

May 21

US House of Representatives passes bill for greater defence ties with India.
The U.S House of Representatives has passed amendments to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA)-2017, seeking to enhance the country’s defence cooperation with India.
Amendment would "seek to promote greater defence trade and encourage additional military cooperation between the United States and India.
The bipartisan move of the U.S Congress seeks to bring India at par with NATO allies for technology and equipment sale.
Once signed into law by the president, these provisions will liberalise the sale of a wide range of technologies to India, bypassing bureaucratic and legislative approvals.
Open a special office in the Pentagon dedicated exclusively to the U.S.-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
A similar kind of bill named US-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act is under the consideration in the US Senate as well.
About United States of America
Capital: Washington, D.C
President: Barack Obama
Currency: United States dollar

First metro line to the sea opens in Los Angeles.
The USD 1.5 billion, 6.6-mile Expo Line extension from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica marks the return of commuter train service to the sea following a six-decade gap in rail operations.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was among hundreds on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Santa Monica, arriving on the train platform with a surfboard.
The ride from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica will take about 50 minutes.
The new line marks the first time since the 1950s when the city's electric streetcars stopped operating that Santa Monica has been accessible by rail.

May 22

India, Oman sign four bilateral agreements on defence cooperation.
India and Oman signed four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on defence cooperation in Muscat.
MoU signed during the visit of Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to Oman.
The two sides inked the agreements after Mr. Parrikar held bilateral talks with his Oman's counterpart Bader Bin Saud Bin Harib Al Busaidi, Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs.
MOU on Defence Cooperation between the Ministry of Defense of Sultanate of Oman and Ministry of Defence of India.
MOU on Maritime Issues was signed between the Government of India and the Government of Sultanate of Oman.
MOU in the field of Marine Crime Prevention at Sea was signed between the Indian Coast Guard and the Royal Oman Police (Coast Guard).
Protocol on Flight Safety information Exchange was signed between Royal Air Force of Oman and the Indian Air Force.
Both sides noted that defence cooperation is a key facet of their bilateral strategic partnership, which is based on historical ties as well as mutual trust and shared interests.
About Oman
Capital: Muscat
Currency: Omani rial
Sultan: Qaboos bin Said al Said
Deputy Prime Minister: Fahd bin Mahmoud al Said

Obama lifts U.S. arms ban on Vietnam.
U.S President Barack Obama announced that the United States is fully lifting a decades-long ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam.
Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and U.S. President Obama take part in a joint press conference at the International Convention Center in Hanoi.
The embargo on lethal military equipment had been partially lifted in 2014; now it will be raised fully.
It was the desire to continue normalizing relations between the United States and Vietnam and to do away with a ban "based on ideological division between our two countries.
About Vietnam
Capital: Hanoi
Prime minister: Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
President: Tran Dai Quang
Currency: Vietnamese dong

India pledges $1 million for Afghan school.
India has signed a pact to grant assistance worth $1 million over the next 10 years to a Habibia School in Kabul ,Afghanistan.
The funds will be used for modernization, civil repairs and annual maintenance as well as teachers' training.
India has pledged the amount as a part of its support to the war-torn country's education sector.
The school is one of the largest and most reputed schools in Afghanistan. It was established in 1904 by King Habibullah. An Indian, Dr Abdul Ghani, was the school's first principal.
About Afghanistan
Capital: Kabul
President: Ashraf Ghani
Currency: Afghan afghani

May 23

Government bars Indians from travelling to Libya.
India has banned its nationals from travelling to Libya, irrespective of the purpose of the visit, in view of the security situation in the North African country.
Asking Indian nationals for compliance, the External Affairs ministry announced the travel ban is effective from 3 May, 2016 till further orders.
The MEA's announcement came a day after reports of a Libyan former minister being killed in clashes between unity government forces and fighters of the ISIS group in Sirte. Libya is witnessing increased violence due to clashes between them.
About Libya
Capital: Tripoli
Prime minister: Fayez al-Sarraj
Currency: Libyan dinar

India, Thailand, Myanmar to be connected with a 1400 km road.
India, Thailand and Myanmar are working on a 1,400 kilometre long highway that will link India with Southeast Asia by land for the first time in decades, giving a boost to trade and cultural exchanges between the three countries.
There are 73 bridges totally in Myanmar, built more than seven decades ago were being repaired with funding from India for highway safe movement.
The repair work will be completed in 18 months, the highway could be opened to traffic from all three countries.
The negotiations are currently underway to conclude a tri-nation motor vehicle agreement for the use of the 1,400 km road that will reach Thailand at Tak, Mae Sot district.
The planned highway starts in the eastern region of India from Moreh to Myanmar's Tamu city.
India is also preparing to negotiate a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which includes the 10-country grouping, on top of the current India-Asean free-trade agreement (FTA).
About Myanmar
Capital: Naypyidaw
President: Htin Kyaw
Currency: Burmese kyat
About Thailand
Capital: Bangkok
Prime minister: Prayut Chan-o-cha
Currency: Thai baht

Cyclone Roanu hits Bangladesh: 24 dead, thousands left home.
Thousands of Bangladeshis were left homeless after Cyclone Roanu battered the impoverished southern coastal region, ripping apart flimsy houses and killing at least 24 people.
The storm ploughed through low-lying villages in the Chittagong and Barisal regions, where residents described seeing metres-high walls of water that caught some unaware.
Authorities evacuated more than 500,000 people to shelters before the cyclone hit with winds of up to 88 kilometres (54 miles) per hour.
Across the country road networks have been disrupted after strong winds uprooted trees blocking highways. The cyclone makes Shah Amanat International Airport, Chittagong to suspend all of its flight operations.
About Bangladesh
Capital: Dhaka
Prime minister: Sheikh Hasina
President: Abdul Hamid
Currency: Bangladeshi taka

May 24

INSV Mhadei Sails to Mauritius with an all Women Crew.
Indian Naval Sailing Vessel Mhadei (INSV Mhadei) sailed from Goa with an all-women crew for a voyage to Port Louis, Mauritius.
This would be the first open-ocean voyage of the Navy’s all-women crew of Mhadei, who are currently training to undertake a circumnavigation of the globe in 2017.
The crew would be undertaking this arduous voyage through rough seas and heavy weather, expected during the Monsoons, in the Arabian Sea.
This is a training voyage to expose the young crew to weather that would be faced by them during the circumnavigation in 2017.
About Mauritius
Capital: Port Louis
Prime minister: Anerood Jugnauth
President: Ameenah Gurib
Currency: Mauritian rupee

Switzerland to open world's longest and deepest train tunnel after 17 years.
Switzerland will inaugurate the opening of the world's longest and deepest train tunnel which will reduce travel times between cities by up to a full hour.
The tunnel was first conceived in sketch-form in 1947 but construction began 17 years ago. It consists of two single-track tunnels connecting Erstfeld (Uri) with Bodio (Ticino) and passing below Sedrun.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel will open for the first time June 1, extending 57km in length into the bowels of the Earth 2,300 metres below the Gotthard massif in the Swiss Alps.
With speeds reaching up to 250km/h, the travel time from one end of the tunnel to the other will take just 20 minutes.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel enters into regular operation on Dec 11, 2016.

May 25

Colombo to set up Office on Missing Persons.
The Sri Lankan government has decided to set up an Office on Missing Persons (OMP), one of the four mechanisms proposed to deal with the civil war-related grievances.
The OMP will not engage in prosecutions. However, it will have the power to investigate for the purpose of clarifying the fate of missing persons and the circumstances related to the disappearance, and communicating the status to relatives of the missing persons.
Decision on a new office was taken after undertaking a ''rigorous review of best practices'' both in Sri Lanka and across the world including Uganda, Bolivia, Argentina, and Uruguay which have all had missing person’s offices.
About Sri Lanka
Capital: Colombo
Prime minister: Ranil Wickremesinghe
President: Maithripala Sirisena
Currency: Sri Lankan rupee

May 26

China sign two agreements with Sudan to build nuclear reactor.
China has signed agreements with Sudan, to build 600-MW atomic reactor, the first such project in the African country.
Two framework deals have been signed by state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) with Sudan on nuclear power development.
China already is having a long standing nuclear cooperation with Pakistan as it has built several nuclear power reactors and is currently building two 1100 mw reactors in Karachi.
Sudan has faced power shortages in recent years and is seeking to build two 600-mw pressurised water reactors to meet the growing demand for electricity, with construction on the first one starting in 2021.

May 27

New French Law Makes It Illegal To Email Employees After Work Hours.
A new labour agreement in France means that employees must ignore their bosses' work emails once they are out of the office and relaxing at home even on their smartphones.
A company of 50 employees or more, you cannot email an employee after typical work hours.
The amendment has come about because studies show that in the digital age it’s become increasingly difficult for people to distance themselves from the workplace during their off hours.
New law allows people to get the full advantage of their time off.
About France
Capital: Paris
Prime minister: Manuel Valls
President: François Hollande
Currencies: Euro, CFP franc

Child sex offenders in Indonesia to face execution or chemical castration.
Child sex offenders could be executed or chemically castrated in Indonesia under a crackdown following the brutal gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced a regulation - effective immediately - that would allow judges to sentence child rapists to death or order that they be chemically castrated.
Additional punishment could include publicly announcing the sex offender's identity and requiring those on parole to wear an electronic monitoring device.

About Indonesia
Capital: Jakarta
Prime minister: Jusuf Kalla
President: Joko Widodo
Currency: Indonesian rupiah

May 28

Finance minister to leave for Japan on 6-day official visit.
The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley will leave on 6-day official visit to Japan.
On arrival in Tokyo he will have meetings with CEOs of Japanese Companies (Soft Bank/ JBIC).
Finance Minister will attend the 22nd International Conference on ''The Future of Asia'' organized by Nikkei Inc.
Finance Minister will have Bilateral Meetings with the Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Shinzō Abe, METI Minister (Economy, Trade & Industry) and Health Minister.
Finance Minister will deliver a Lecture on ''India: Political, Social and Economic Change (TBC) at Osaka University and participate & address the ''Make in India- Investment Promotion Seminar.
About Japan
Capital: Tokyo
Prime minister: Shinzō Abe
Currency: Japanese yen

EU-India Make Co-ordinated Proposal for KP Chair in 2018 and 2019.
Official representatives of the European Union and India participating in the Kimberley Process (KP) Intersessional, currently under way in Dubai, made a co-ordinate proposal under which EU will assume responsibility as KP Vice-Chair in 2017 and as KP Chair in 2018, while India will become KP Vice-Chair in 2018 and assume the position of KP Chair in 2019.
The two delegations were making this announcement as responsible KP partners, and ''offering a common solution'' so as to ''(avoid) situations of conflict and (provide) stability to the KP in the next crucial years to come''.
Following goals that EU and India shared for the KP:
(1) Enhance cooperation and partnership with the United Nations’ system and with the international financial institutions; explore how the KP can contribute to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
(2) Work towards an agreement on ensuring the effectiveness of the KP scheme and further strengthening its implementation and enforcement.
(3) Renew and reinforce the engagement with Industry and Civil Society by actively promoting an open, constructive and substantial dialogue among the three constitutive pillars of the KP.

Pakistan bans TV contraceptive adverts.
Pakistan has banned advertisements for contraceptive products on television and radio over concern that they expose inquisitive children to the subject of sex.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was acting in response to complaints from parents and its ban covered all contraceptive, birth control and family planning products.
The ban comes despite a government initiative to encourage the use of birth control in the country, a conservative Muslim country where talking about sex in public is taboo.
About Pakistan
Capital: Islamabad
Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif
President: Mamnoon Hussain
Currencies: Pakistani rupee

May 29

India-Russia Agree To Export BrahMos.
India and Russia have agreed 'in principle' to export the world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile, BrahMos, to third countries - the UAE, Vietnam, South Africa and Chile.
Talks with the UAE, Chile, South Africa and Vietnam are in advanced stage concerning export.
Compared to existing state-of-the-art subsonic cruise missiles, BrahMos has: 3 times more velocity, 2.5 to 3 times more flight range, 3 to 4 times more seeker range, 9 times more kinetic energy
BrahMos is a short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.
About Russia
Capital: Moscow
Prime minister: Dmitry Medvedev
President: Vladimir Putin
Currency: Russian ruble

Vice President Hamid Ansari to leave on a 5-day visit to Morocco and Tunisia.
Vice President Mr. Hamid Ansari is leaving to Morocco and Tunisia on a 5 day visit. During the visit, he will hold deliberations with top leaders of both the countries, with an aim to strengthen bilateral relations and explore new areas of co-operation.
Issues of terrorism, expansion of United Nations Security Council, investment, ways to strengthen outreach to Africa and regional matters are likely to figure during the talks.
A number of MoUs in various fields including education and IT, capacity building and cultural exchange are also expected to be signed.
About Morocco
Capital: Rabat
Prime minister: Abdelilah Benkirane
King: Mohammed VI
Currency: Moroccan dirham

About Tunisia
Capital: Tunis
Prime minister: Habib Essid
President: Beji Caid Essebsi
Currency: Tunisian dinar

May 30

IAF Participation in Ex Desert Eagle – II at UAE.
Indian Air Force and United Arab Emirates (UAE) went into a bilateral exercise of Second Edition named Eagle-II at Al-Dhafra Air Base in UAE.
Su-30 MkI of the Indian Air Force and Mirage 2000-9, F-16 of UAE Air Force are participating in the exercise.
The exercise will be played under multiple simulated scenarios. Exchange sorties for aircrew of both the Air Forces have also been planned.
These air combat exercises provide exposure towards mission planning and execution in a simulated high threat combat environment besides building up crew confidence and bonhomie with friendly Air Forces of India and United Arab Emirates.

650 migrants saved by Italian, Irish, German ships.
Ships saved 668 migrants from smugglers’ boats in distress in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, by bringing the week’s total of migrants rescued from the sea to a staggering 13,000 people.
The rescues by the Italian coast guard and navy ships, aided by Irish and German vessels and humanitarian groups, are the latest by a multinational patrol south of the Italian island of Sicily.
Many migrant boats in the past few years apparently have sunk without a trace in the Mediterranean, with the dead never found. Often the only news about them comes when family members in Africa or Europe tell authorities that their loved ones never arrived after setting sail from Libya.

IS slaps $100 fine for shaving beard.
Islamic State (IS) has imposed new taxes and fines like a $100 penalty for shaving a beard and $50 for trimming it and $5 for men not properly wearing the traditional izar (a long garment).
Women being charged $25 for wearing cloaks deemed too tight, according to analysis released by IHS Inc.
Trucks crossing check points now have to pay between $600 and $700 while last summer the fee was $300.
Between December 2015 and March 2016, the IS lost about 22 per cent of its territory.

May 31

North Korea’s missile launch fails.
North Korea failed an attempted missile launch, the latest in a series of setbacks for a ballistic weapons programme that aspires to threaten the U.S. mainland.
One missile was test-fired from the eastern city of Wonsan.
The missile apparently flew for about two or three seconds and then exploded.
Initial reports suggested it was an intermediate-range Musudan missile, according to a U.S. defense official confirmed; it would be the fourth time North Korea has tried and failed to launch this type of missile.
The North Korea is banned by the UN from using any ballistic missile technology.
About North Korea
Capital: Pyongyang
Supreme leader: Kim Jong-un
Premier: Pak Pong-ju
Currency: North Korean won

Iran demands social media data.
Iran has announced that all social media sites must store any data relating to Iranian citizens only on servers inside the country’s borders.
Iran has set a one-year deadline for foreign social media to hand over data on their Iranian users.
Decision was taken at a meeting of an Iranian committee on the use of cyberspace headed by President Hassan Rouhani.
The measure will affect, in particular, Telegram, a messaging app with more than 20 million users in the country, with a population of 80 million.
Iran has incredibly strict digital controls in place. In the past, it’s even considered unplugging from the Internet, hiding, and making its own network.
About Iran
Capital: Tehran
Currency: Iranian rial
President: Hassan Rouhani
Supreme leader: Ali Khamenei



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