International Current Affairs
October 2012 International Current Affairs Part-I
Category : International Current Affairs
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 A 3-day 8th International Conference on Public Administration (ICPA) – “New Frontiers in Public Administration: Practice and Theory” was held in Hyderabad from 29 October. It was hosted by the Department of Public Administration, Osmania University in collaboration with the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China and the American Society for Public Administration. 120 papers were presented at the conference. Later, a symposium on the Status of Public Administration as an Academic Discipline was held and world renowned scholars like Prof. Donald C Menzel, Prof. Allan Rosenbaum, Prof. V.S. Prasad, Prof. G. Haragopal and Prof. Riant Nugroho make keynote presentations.At the valedictory, T. N. Chaturvedi, former Comptroller and Auditor General and former Governor, was the chief guest. 

Hurricane Sandy grew stronger before dawn of 29 October as it churned northward through the Atlantic Ocean en route to what forecasters agreed would be a devastating landfall, possibly within 100 miles of New York City. As the storm bore down on some of the nation`s most densely populated areas, city and state officials went into emergency mode. The New York City subway system and all of the region`s commuter trains and buses were shut down. The major stock exchanges called off all trading. Forecasters said the hurricane was a strikingly powerful storm that could reach inland. 
United Nations-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi appealed to both sides in Syria’s conflict to cease fire for the Muslim holiday this week after meeting President Bashar al-Assad, even as a deadly blast rocked Damascus. Lebanon’s opposition, meanwhile, called for a huge demonstration against the Syrian regime at the funeral later on 21 October, of a top police intelligence chief killed in a Beirut car bombing which it has blamed on Damascus. In Damascus, a bomb exploded outside a police station in a Christian quarter of the Old City, killing seven people and wounding many others, said officials and state media. The bombing came as Mr. Brahimi, after holding talks with Mr. Assad, called for “unilateral” ceasefires by the regime and the rebels for the Id al-Adha holidays. 
Icelanders have backed proposals for a new basic law, drafted by a citizens’ constitutional council that sought the public’s help on websites like Twitter, referendum results released early on 22 October. Voters were asked in the non-binding referendum on 20 October, whether they wanted the proposals of 25 ordinary citizens to form the basis of a new constitution. According to the results, two-thirds of those voting wanted the constitutional council’s proposals to be the “foundation” for a Parliament bill on a new constitution. A proposal to keep the country’s national church got the support of 57.5 per cent of voters. Iceland’s financial collapse in 2008 prompted allegations of crony capitalism and renewed longstanding calls for a revised constitution, which dates back to the country’s independence from Denmark. Any changes to Iceland’s basic law must be approved twice by Parliament, with a general election held between the votes.

 At least 56 people have been killed and nearly 2,000 homes destroyed in the latest outbreak of ethnic violence in Myanmar on 25 October. Twenty five men and 31 women were reported dead in four Rakhine state townships in violence between the Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities that re-erupted on 23 October. In June, ethnic violence in the western state left at least 90 people dead and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. Tens of thousands of people remain in refugee camps. The unrest is one of the worst reported in the region since June, after clashes were set off by the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men in May.Tensions still simmer in part because the government has failed to find any long-term solution to the crisis other than segregating the two communities in some areas. The crisis in Myanmar’s west goes back decades and is rooted in a dispute over where the region’s Muslims are really from. Though many Rohingyas have lived in Myanmar for generations, they are denigrated here as foreigners who came from Bangladesh.

Mali was readmitted into the African Union (A.U.) after a meeting of the A.U. Peace and Security Council [AUPSC] on 24 October. The A.U. had suspended the West African nation after a coup in March this year saw a military junta seize power even as two thirds of Mali slipped into the control of a coalition of armed groups and organised gangs. The soldiers behind the coup had claimed that the existing dispensation was unable to tackle the insurgents in the north. Since then, the junta has given way to a transitional all-party government and has asked for pan-African assistance to regain control of its territory. Northern Mali has steadily slipped into chaos since late 2011, when entrenched gangs involved in smuggling and drug trafficking struck up alliances with a variety of armed groups , ranging from the self-proclaimed secular Tuareg combatants, some of them from Libyan Army of the Qadhafi regime to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a north African group associated with al-Qaeda. The A.U. estimates that the conflict has resulted in 160,000 Internally Displaced Persons, and another 202,000 Malians are living as refugees in the neighbouring countries of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.
A court in Italy has convicted the former Premier, Silvio Berlusconi, of tax fraud and sentenced him to four years in prison. The conviction on 26 October was the 76-year-old media mogul’s first in a long series of trials, but it did not mean he was going to prison right away. Cases in Italy must pass two levels of appeal before the verdicts are final. Berlusconi, along with others convicted in the case, must deposit $13 million into a fund as appeals, which could take years, proceed. The trial began in July 2006, but was put on hold by an immunity law that shielded Berlusconi from prosecution while he was Premier until it was watered down by the constitutional court. 
Switzerland has reinforced its opposition to unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran outside the framework of the United Nations. The assertion comes in defiance of such unilateral sanctions imposed by Israel, the United States (U.S.) and the European Union (EU). Not being a member of the European Union (EU), Switzerland is not bound by the decisions of the 27-nation grouping, which has recently imposed fresh curbs, including a ban on Iranian gas imports. Last month, Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf slammed unilateral Western sanctions against Iran by calling them “unacceptable”. She stressed that Switzerland would continue its economic engagement with Iran within the framework of U.N. decisions. Switzerland is a major global centre for oil trading, and is host to an office of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

 Despite months of protracted negotiations, mediated by the African Union (A.U.), Sudan and South Sudan appear no closer to a comprehensive resolution on issues left unresolved after the south seceded from the North last year. A primary issue is the status of Abyei — a 10,000 sq km oil-rich territory claimed by both sides. On 24 october, the A.U. High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) submitted a report to the A.U. Peace and Security Council, urging that the council give the Sudans two weeks to implement existing agreements on establishing a transitional administration for the disputed territory, and to arrive at a final solution in six weeks. 

With Australia and India agreeing to launch negotiations for a civil nuclear pact, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman on 22 October lifted the ban on the state`s uranium mining. Uranium has not been mined in Queensland since the closure of the Mary Kathleen mine in 1982.
Pakistan has sought extradition of Mullah Fazlullah, a militant commander who planned the attack on teenager Malala Yousafzai and is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has demanded Fazlullah`s extradition during her meeting with US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Mark Grossman. Malala came to prominence in 2009 at the age of 11, when she started writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. Under the pen-name Gul Makai, she described the problems caused by militants who had taken control of the Swat Valley. 
More than 24,000 Pakistanis on 22 October formed the world`s largest "human national flag" in the eastern city of Lahore, smashing a five-year-old record set in Hong Kong, officials said. A total of 24,200 people stood up in the national hockey stadium to make the green and white Pakistani standard, smashing the 2007 record set by 21,726 people in Hong Kong. "It`s an amazing, amazing display of unity of 24,200 people here in Lahore’’Guinness World Records adjudicator Gareth Deaves said on Monday to a cheering crowd. "Every single one of you holds this record," he said, handing over the certificate to Punjab provincial government representative Hamza Shahbaz Sharif. 42,813 people in the national hockey stadium sang the national anthem together, smashing the previous best of 15,243 held by India