February 2018 Current Affairs

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INTERNATIONAL

US to overtake Russia as top oil producer

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According to International Energy Agency, U.S. will overtake Russia as the world’s biggest oil producer by 2019 at the latest. U.S. crude oil output rose above 10 million barrels per day late last year for the first time since 1970s, overtaking top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. US oil is also increasingly being exported, including to the world’s biggest and fastest growing markets in Asia.

Saudi Arabia allows women to enlist in Military

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has for the first-ever time opened applications for women to enlist in the military. Women have been given time till March 1, 2018 to apply for positions with the rank of soldier in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina. The move is a continuation of the Kingdom’s effort to enact reforms that grant females more access to a wide range of previously forbidden careers.

Russia vetoes UN draft resolution pressuring Iran over Yemen

Two resolutions were presented in the UNSC over the issue of Yemen. First resolution was presented by the UK and the other one by Russia. However, UK and the USA backed resolution was vetoed by Russia. Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have put pressure on Iran for failing to prevent its missiles from being used in the Yemeni conflict. The Security Council subsequently voted unanimously in favor of a resolution drafted by Russia, which omitted Iran and the findings of UN report that said Iranian made missiles had been found in Yemen.

Michael McCormack named Australia’s new Deputy Prime Minister

Michael McCormack has been elected new Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. He has replaced former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. The leader of the National Party automatically becomes deputy prime minister under the terms of the coalition agreement with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal party.

China elected as Vice President of Financial Action Task Force

China was elected as the Vice President of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body mandated to combat terror financing and money laundering. China’s election came after the FATF plenary meeting in Paris. China’s election to the FATF assumes significance as Pakistan is set to be put in the FATF ‘grey list’ in June 2018. The grey lists puts countries under the scanner for not implementing the objectives of the task force. FATF was created in 1997 during G7 summit to counter the increasing problem of money laundering.

Maldives announces Presidential elections in September this year

Despite facing these worse situations, Maldives started doing preparations for the upcoming Presidential elections to be held this year. The first round of the elections is to be held in early September. It is mentioned that the authorities welcome the election body to start the preparations for the elections. The Government took note of its announcement to hold the first round of Presidential elections during early September and encouraged all relevant stakeholders to offer the Commission their full, unreserved support for the conduct of their work.

Trump pushes for ban on gun ‘bump stocks’

US President Trump has signed an order to ban bump-stock devices, which were used by a gunman who killed 58 Las Vegas concert-goers last year. Such devices enable a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute. The gun control debate took on a new urgency after 17 people were killed at a school in Florida last week. He also said arming teachers could ‘solve the problem’ of school shootings.

Cobra Gold Military Exercise held in Thailand

US Marines in Thailand for the Cobra Gold training exercise took part in one of the wildest parts of the drills – drinking cobra blood. This was the 37th edition of the exercise. Cobra Gold is an annual military exercise for Marines and one of the largest in the Indo-Pacific region. This year, seven countries are participating in Cobra Gold – the US, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore. Part of the drill involves jungle survival. Marines learn which plants and animals are safe to eat if they’re ever stranded.

Singapore to Impose Carbon Tax From 2019

Singapore will impose a ‘carbon tax’ from 2019 to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and make companies more competitive as global agreements on climate change take effect. Finance minister Heng Swee Keat stated that the tax would be levied on all facilities producing 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gas emissions a year. The tax, to be applied to all sectors, will be Sg$5.0 ($3.8) per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions from 2019 to 2023.

Saudi Arabia allows women to open business without male consent

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced a major policy change by allowing women to open their own business without the need of showing consent from a husband or male relative. The announcement was made by the country’s Ministry of Commerce and investment, which stated on it website that women can now launch their own business and benefit form governmental e-services without having to prove consent from a guardian.

Ethiopia declares national state of emergency

A state of emergency has been declared in Ethiopia after the resignation of Prime Minister Desalegn. Emergency has been declared as protests have caused massive displacement of citizens, destruction of properties & threats against constitutional order of the country. In August 2017, Ethiopia lifted a 10-month state of emergency imposed after hundreds of people were killed in anti-govt protests.

Pakistan to deploy troops in Saudi Arabia

Pakistan Army has announced to deploy troops in its close ally Saudi Arabia under existing bilateral security cooperation agreement. The decision comes after meeting between Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf. Saeed Al-Maliki at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

WADA suspends Romanian laboratory

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has suspended Romania’s drug-testing laboratory for six months. WADA has imposed the sanction on the lab in Bucharest due to a number of non-conformities with regulations. The lab is now forbidden from testing any samples and must transfer any in its possession to another laboratory.

Brazil to declare ‘social emergency’ on Venezuela border

The objective is to tackle the influx of people fleeing the crisis hit country Venezuela. The declaration will free the authorities to allocate infrastructure funds and other humanitarian measures on the Venezuela border. Besides, the number of soldiers will be raised to 200 on the border. Due economic crisis in Venezuela, some 40,000 people have fled to Boa Vista, the capital of Brazil’s border state of Roraima.

Cyril Ramaphosa sworn in as New President of South Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa, head of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been sworn in as South Africa’s new President. He was elected as the new president of South Africa by the ruling party politicians after the resignation of Jacob Zuma. The country’s 400-member parliament, dominated by the ruling African National Congress Party (ANC), elected Ramaphosa to finish his predecessor’s term, which ends with elections in 2019. The ANC has finished first in every national vote since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

Venezuela, Libya lose UNGA Vote for third time in 3 Years

Venezuela and Libya were suspended from voting in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2018-19 session for not paying dues to 193-member world body. It was for third time in three years these countries have been suspended from voting for unpaid dues. Overall, 14 countries including Venezuela and Libya were in arrears for paying to global organization. Venezuela was suspended for not paying minimum of $25,200,296 and Libya must pay at least $6,594,842 to restore its voting rights. Venezuela is engulfed in economic and political crisis and Libya has two rival governments, each backed by an array of militias.

KP Sharma Oli becomes Nepal’s new prime minister

After Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba resigned from his post, Communist Party of Nepal (UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli has become new Prime Minister of Nepal for the second time.

South Africa declares drought a ‘national disaster’

South Africa, declared a “national disaster” over a drought that has ravaged parts of the country and threatened to leave the city of Cape Town without domestic tap water. The department of cooperative governance said it had elevated the drought to a “national disaster” after reassessing its “magnitude and severity”. Cape Town is in the grip of a catastrophic three-year-long drought as sparse winter rains have failed to bring relief, and dam levels have dropped to dangerously low levels. South Africa’s second city is now facing the prospect of having to turn its taps off under a socalled “Day Zero” scenario to conserve the city’s remaining water supplies.

Pakistan to get first woman Hindu MP

The Pakistan Peoples Party’s Krishna Kumari is poised to become the country’s first woman Hindu lawmaker next month, after the party nominated her for the upcoming Senate elections. Ms. Kumari said she faced a “slave-like situation” during her childhood in the remote village of Nagarparkar in Sindh Province. She worked on the farm of a feudal landlord who was abusive to his workers.

Tanzania withdraws from UN refugee programme

Tanzania has announced its withdrawal of United Nation’s “Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework” citing security reasons and lack of funds. Tanzania has long been considered as safe haven for refugees, particularly from conflict hit Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi.

Abdul Hamid re-elected as president of Bangladesh

Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid has been re-elected for a second term. Earlier, the ruling Awami League (AL) nominated Abdul Hamid for his re-election as the country’s president.

Former Bangladesh PM sentenced for 5 years

Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was jailed for five years. She was found guilty in a corruption case by a Special Judge’s Court in Dhaka. She was charged with misappropriating Tk 21 million in foreign donations received by the ‘Zia Orphanage Trust’.

US lists three militants as global terrorists

The US Department of Treasury has designated three individuals allegedly linked to Pakistan-based terror networks including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Taliban as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. The move is intended to disrupt the South Asian terrorist support networks. The three include Rahman Zeb Faqir Muhammad, Hizb Ullah Astam Khan and Dilawar Khan Nadir Khan.

Bermuda becomes first country in world to abolish same-sex marriage

Bermuda becomes the first country to legalize and then repeal same-sex marriage. Bermuda’s governor John Rankin approved a bill reversing the right of gay couples to marry, despite a supreme court ruling last year authorizing same-sex marriage.

Maldives Crisis- Government declares state of emergency

The Maldives president, Abdulla Yameen, has declared a state of emergency in the country as heavily armed troops stormed the country’s top court and a former president Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was arrested in a deepening political crisis. Exiled former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed urged India to “act swiftly” to help in resolving the ongoing political crisis in the island nation.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades wins re-election for second term

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has won re-election for a second term. The official final result after a second round run-off put the conservative incumbent on 55.99 per cent of the vote, ahead of Communist-backed Stavros Malas on 44 per cent. Anastasiades has taken credit for steering the economy of Cyprus to recovery after it was plunged into crisis in 2013 by its exposure to debt-wracked Greece and fiscal slippage under a former left-wing administration.

Sri Lanka celebrates Independence Day

Sri Lanka on 4 February celebrated the 70th Independence Day in a grand ceremony at the Galle Face Green in Colombo. It was on this day in 1948 that country achieved freedom from British rule. Representing Britain’s Queen, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and the Countess of Wessex participated in the celebrations as Chief Guests. The theme of this year’s ceremony was “One Nation”.

Rwanda becomes 1st poor country to provide Eye Care for all

Rwanda has become the first low-income country to provide universal eye care for its 12 million population. The government has partnered with the organisation Vision for a Nation (VFAN) to train more than 3,000 eye care nurses based in 502 local health centres, prescribing glasses and referring those with serious eye problems to national clinics.

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