▼ US President Barack Obama creates world’s largest marine reserve [08-30-16]
US President Barack Obama on 27th August 2016 expanded the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off Hawaii.
- He thereby created the largest marine reserve in the world
- Announcement quadruples in size of the existing monument originally created by President George W Bush in 2006
- Existing Marine National Monument will expand by 442781 square miles, bringing the total protected area of the expanded monument to 582578 square miles
- White House said that the expansion is helping to protect more than 7000 species including whales, sea turtles, coral reefs, deep sea marine habitats and more
- It will improve the ecological resources in the waters off the northwest Hawaiian islands by dealing with ocean acidification and warming.
- Expansion will improve ocean resilience, help the region’s distinct physical and biological resources adapt and create a natural lab to permit scientists to monitor and explore the impact of climate change on fragile ecosystems
- Expansion will prohibit commercial resource extraction activities including commercial fishing and future mineral extraction
- Non-commercial fishing such as recreational fishing and removing of fish and other resources for Native Hawaiian cultural practices is allowed in the expansion area by permit
- Scientific research is also permitted in the reserve
- Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument was originally created in 2006 by President George W. Bush and designated as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010
- Since then, new scientific exploration and research has revealed new species and deep sea habitats as well as important ecological connecting between existing monuments and adjacent waters
▼ Ceasefire deal between Philippine government and NDF Communist guerrillas [08-29-16]
Philippine government and the Communist guerrillas (National Democratic Front) on 26th August 2016 signed an indefinite ceasefire deal. Deal was signed in Oslo, Norway and will facilitate peace talks aimed at closing one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies.
- As per the Norwegian government facilitating tasks, both sides agreed to implement unilateral ceasefires which are unlimited in time.
- Norway has facilitated the peace process since 2001
- Peace talks have been going on since 1986
- Agreement extends a truce in place for the Oslo meeting which commenced on 22nd August 2016 and is the first formal negotiating session over the conflict since 2011
- The Communist Party in Philippines launches rebellion since 1968 which has claimed the lives of 30,000 people
- 3000 strong New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist party operates in eastern and southern Philippines
- The ceasefire agreement included a timetable for talks about political, economic and constitutional reforms
- It also mapped a path towards amnesty for political prisoners.
- 2 sides will meet again in Oslo on October 8, 2016
- President of Philippines Rodrigo Détente wants to end guerrilla wars with communist and Muslim rebels that has been hampering economic development
▼ Youssef Chahed: The new Tunisian PM [08-29-16]
Tunisian PM Youssef Chahred and members of the cabinet were sworn in on 27th August, according to the presidency after approval from the parliament.
- The PM and his 26 ministers swore to work with devotion for the good of Tunisia and respect its constitution and laws
- Chahed at 40, is the youngest PM of this country since independence from France in 1956.
- He is also the seventh premier in less than six years since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime doctor Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Parliament a week back approved the cabinet line up.
- 168 out of 195 lawmakers who attended the session voted in favour, 22 against and 5 abstaining
- Former premier of Tunisia was Habib Essid
- Chahed was appointed by President Beji Caid Essebsi earlier in the month after lawmakers passed a vote of no confidence in Essid’s government following just 18 months in office
- New PM is member of the Nidaa Tounes party
- He is a liberal who was local affairs minister prior to his nomination
- He and the cabinet which included three members of the Islamist Ennahda party and several independents will look to tackle pressing economic and security challenges.
- North African country Tunisia has been witnessing its worst social unrest since the 2011 uprising
- It has been rocked by jihadist attacks including two that killed dozens of foreign tourists last year.
- Tunisia is considered a rare success story of the Arab Spring
- But it has failed to resolve issues of poverty, unemployment, regional disparities and corruption.
▼ Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu re-elected [08-22-16]
Zamiban President Edgar Lungu was re-elected in a vote his main rival said was rigged.
- Hakainde Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) said it would appeal the result at the Constitutional Court, accusing election officials of fraud during the count which began after voting ended .
- Lungu faced a tough challenge from Hichilema in a campaign to rule over Africa’s second-largest copper producer which has suffered an economic slump due to depressed commodity prices.
- He narrowly beat Hichilema in a vote last year to replace late president Michael Sata, won 50.35 percent of the vote against 47.63 for his opponent, the Election Commission of Zambia (ECZ) said.
- UPND party lawyer Jack Mwiimbu has alleged irregularities in the voting process.
▼ Masood Khan, retired diplomat, elected PoK President [08-17-16]
Retired diplomat Masood Khan was elected President of Pakistan occupied Kashmir by the freshly constituted Legislative Assembly of PoK.
- Khan who belongs to the suburb of Rawalpindi in PoK was nominated by Pakistan Muslim League led by PM Nawaz Sharif.
- Masood will have a 5 year term securing 42 votes. Rival candidate Chaudhry Latif Akbar got only 6 votes
- Khan joined the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1980 and retired in 2015 after serving as Pakistan’s permanent rep to the UN.
▼ Pakistani Parliament adopts legislation to deal with cybercrime [08-16-16]
Pakistan’s parliament adopted a draconian legislation to deal with cybercrime in the country despite criticism by opposition parties and groups working to protect fundamental rights.
- National Assembly or lower house passed the “Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act” without any amendment to the draft passed by the Senate.
- Senate also made close to 50 amendments which were passed by the National Assembly in April.
- Law includes a total of 21 offences related to misuse of the Internet with over a dozen crimes for which fresh law prescribes jail term.
- This includes the use of cyberspace for terrorism, pornography, hate speech, fraud and tampering information.
- Opposition parties including Pakistan People Party, Pakistan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf and Muttahida Quasi Movement condemned sections of the bill.
▼ Venezuela and Colombia agree to open borders [08-16-16]
Venezuela and Colombia on 11th August 2016 agreed to the gradual reopening of their border one year after the Venezuelan government closed crossings to prevent smuggling.
- Announcement followed a meeting between President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia in the city of Puerto Ordaz in Venezuela.
- Venezuela government closed all crossings a year back to stem smuggling along the 1378 mile (2219 km) long border.
- Before the border was shut close to 100,000 people crossed the border everyday from Colombia.
▼ Defamation now a criminal offence in Maldives [08-16-16]
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on 11th August gave his deal of approval to the controversial defamation bill.
- Earlier, the Maldives Parliament had adopted the Bill on Defamation and Freedom of Speech with 47 members voting in favour and 31 against it.
- As per the law, defamation is a criminal offence.
- In November 2009, when Mohammad Nasheed was President, it was made a civil infraction.
- Government also said it would provide a layer of protection for those undergoing defamation.
▼ India, South Africa to sign MoU on Tourism [08-11-16]
Union cabinet chaired by PM Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Africa for cooperation in the field of Tourism. The MoU was signed on 08.07.2016.
- The main objectives of the MoU are expanding bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector and promoting information exchange
- Apart from this cooperation between tourism stakeholders including hotels and tour operators and exchange program for HRD cooperation and investments in the sector were also promoted
▼ Tunis PM Youssef Chahed appointed [08-8-16]
Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi on 3rd August 2016 named Youssef Chahed as the PM of the nation
- Chahed’s appointment followed the ousting of Habib Essid in a vote of no confidence due to the way he handled economic reforms and security.
- Chahed was earlier minister for local affairs of Tunisia and agricultural sciences specialist and academic who has taught in France and Tunisia.
- Youssef Chahed was initially a professor and part of the Nidaa Tounes secular party. Nidaa Tounes and Islamist Ennahda party formed part of the ruling coalition.
▼ Fierce debate has centred around #PalletsOfCash in the US [08-8-16]
Fierce debate has been initiated about #PalletsOfCash delivered to Iran on an unmarked cargo plane
- US government in January sent USD 1.7 billion to Iran to settle a decades old financial disputes over an arms deal.
- Payment was announced on the same day that the nuclear deal with Iran was completed and Tehran released 4 detained Americans.
- Republicans called a payment a ransom for a rogue state.
▼ Prachanda, Maoist rebel leader, becomes PM of Nepal [08-4-16]
He became the 24th Prime Minister in 26 years since the Himalayan nation adopted multi party democracy in 1990
- He is the 8th PM since the 239 year old monarchy was abolished 8 years ago.
- Nepalese Parliament has elected the former Maoist rebel Chief as PM after KP Oli resigned.
▼ Tokyo gets its first female Governor [08-1-16]
Tokyo voters elected their first woman governor in Yuriko Koike the first female defence minister of Japan.
- She beat Hiroya Masdua and Shunter Torigoe according to an exit poll by public broadcaster NHK.
- The NHK exit poll showed Masuda was in second place, with Torigoe, a 76-year-old cancer survivor who was backed by several opposition parties, trailed both.
▼ Australia refuses to back Rudd for UN Secretary General [08-1-16]
Australia on 29th July 2016 refused to back former PM Kevin Rudd’s bid to be the next Secretary General of the United Nations saying he was not fit for the job.
- PM Malcolm Turnbull stated that this is not a partisan issue but a considered judgement.
- Rudd was dumped as PM by Labour Party in 2010.
- It was earlier revealed that NY based Rudd was keen to lead the global body.
▼ JO (Joint Opposition) marches to Colombo to suport Mahindra Rajapaksa [08-1-16]
Joint Opposition, a coalition of political groups and parties supporting former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 28th July 2016 launched the 5 day along March to Colombo programme near Kandy.
- The JO members led by Rajapaksa started their march near Peradeniya on the outskirts of Kandy town.
- They will hold a rally on August 1 on reaching Colombo.
- Chief of the Democratic Left Front of the Joint Opposition Vasudeva Nanayakkara also took part in the march.
- The JO is against any move to include features of the Geneva resolution adopted by the UNHCR as a proposed Constitution associated with accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
- Resolution was meant to erode sovereignty of Sri Lanka through a judicial mechanism to include foreign judges.