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March 4th week 2015 current affairs
Author : uppy
Category : International Current Affairs
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March 4th week 2015 current affairs

1) Pakistan tests homemade armed drone, missile

  • Pakistan successfully tested a homemade armed drone and a laser-guided missile on 13th March. The tests of the drone are called "Burraq", which translates as "flying horse", and the missile "Barq", or "lightning".

2) Egyptian court declares Hamas as terrorist group

  • An Egyptian court has listed the Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organization. Egyptian authorities have accused Hamas of meddling into the country`s internal affairs and supporting insurgents in Sinai. The ruling comes a month after a different court labeled the armed wing of Hamas as a terrorist group. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is an offshoot of Egypt`s Muslim Brotherhood - itself designated as a terrorist organization in 2013.

3) UN report on Libya

  • According to a new UN report on Libya’s ability to prevent the flow of weapons into the chaotic country is “almost nonexistent,” and it calls for the tightening of an arms embargo that the government says must be loosened so it can defend itself
  • The report by a panel of experts also recommends the creation of a maritime monitoring force to help Libya’s government prevent both the flow of weapons and the illegal export of the country’s oil. 
  • The international community is alarmed by the recent emergence of Islamic State group-affiliated fighters in the North African country, which is divided by two rival governments and multiple militias. But the United States and others worry that any weapons provided to the fragile Western-backed government would quickly fall into the wrong hand.

4) Pak HC bars govt from booking Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Lakhvi

  • In Pakistani, the Islamabad High Court has barred the government from booking Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks mastermind, in any other case without its permission after his counsel argued that false cases might be slapped against him to keep him in jail. The Court on 3rd March took up the plea of Lakhvi against his detention under a public security act and issued a notice to the government for a reply on 5th March. 
  • Lakhvi`s counsel informed the court that the government was planning to register another case against his client like it did when he was granted bail in the Mumbai attacks case. Pakistan faced strong reaction from India following the bail order.
  • Lakhvi and six others have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attacks in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.

5) World`s most expensive country is Singapore: EIU

  • Singapore has been named the most expensive city in the world for a second year in a row, according to a research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The top five cities in the list remained unchanged from a year earlier with Paris occupying the second spot followed by Oslo, Zurich and Sydney, according to the BBC.
  • The research surveyed 133 cities worldwide, using New York as a base. It analysed the costs of more than 160 products and services including, food, clothing and utility bills. 
  • The data showed that Singapore was about 11 percent more expensive in comparison to New York for basic groceries. Along with Seoul, it was also found to be the most expensive city in the world for clothes, with prices 50 percent higher than New York. 
  • The EIU said, "Singapore`s complex Certificate of Entitlement system makes car prices excessive, with Singaporean transport costs almost three times higher than in New York.

6) French Olympians among 10 dead in Argentina air crash

  • Two helicopters carrying French sports stars filming a popular European reality show crashed in a remote part of Argentina, killing 10 people, including two Olympic medal winners and a sailing champion, authorities. The helicopters apparently collided in midair near Villa Castelli in La Rioja province, about 730 miles (1,170 kilometres) northwest of Buenos Aires. 
  • Among the dead were French Olympic gold medal swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud 
  • Muffat, won gold in the 400-meter freestyle, silver in the 200-meter freestyle and a bronze, in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Vastine, won a bronze medal in the light welterweight division at the 2008 games in Beijing. Arthaud is considered one of the best sailors in the world.

7) Shanghai is Most Attractive Chinese Cities for Expats

  • Shanghai has topped the list of the 10 most attractive Chinese cities for expats for the third time in the ranking organized by International Talent magazine and China Society for Research on International Professional Personnel Exchange and Development.
  • According to China Daily, the financial hub scored highest in the ranking`s four important indexes for foreigners to evaluate cities, including the policies for foreign professionals, the living environment and the working environment. 
  • Other cities in order after Beijing were Shenzhen, Tianjin, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Xiamen and Kunming. This is the fifth time that this ranking has been released. Around 20,000 foreign professionals throughout China participated in the survey between July and December.

8) US imposes more sanctions in Ukraine crisis

  • The United States has imposed sanctions on another group of individuals and entities in Ukraine and Russia accused of undermining Ukraine`s sovereignty and misappropriating Ukrainian state assets. The US Treasury Department released a list of 14 people, including eight Ukrainian separatists, and two entities, including Russian National Commercial Bank, a Russian bank operating in Crimea, the Black Sea-peninsula Moscow annexed from Ukraine last year.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia continues to maintain a presence in eastern Ukraine and give strong support, including equipment and training, to the separatists there. He called on Russia to withdraw all of its military forces from eastern Ukraine.

9) Swedish prosecutors agree to question Assange

  • In a move that may break the legal and diplomatic deadlock in the case involving alleged sexual assault claims against Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange, Swedish prosecutors have agreed to question him over the charges in London. 
  • This has been a long-standing demand of Mr. Assange and his legal team. Mr. Assange has refused to be questioned in Sweden as he fears extradition to the United States where he is wanted for the publication on Wiki Leaks of thousands of classified US military and diplomatic documents.
  • Mr. Assange has denied all assault claims. Following an international arrest warrant against him issued by Sweden in 2012, he accepted Ecuador’s offer of asylum at their embassy, where he has been living under virtual house arrest since 2012.

10) Britain marks end of Afghan war

  • Queen Elizabeth joined army top brass of British soldiers who died in Afghanistan at a commemoration service at St. Paul`s Cathedral in London on 13th March, marking the end of 13 years of British military operations in the country. 
  • Also among the congregation was Tony Blair, who as prime minister in 2001 took Britain into the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban government in response to the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. 
  • Britain lost 453 servicemen and women in Afghanistan out of the 140,000 who served there over the years. The last combat troops left in October last year, leaving behind only about 500 trainers and advisers assisting the Afghan security forces.
  • The government says the long war stopped Afghanistan from being used as a safe haven for militants to plan attacks on British streets, and that Afghanistan is now a safer and more prosperous country than it was before.

11) United Nations dismisses inquiry against R K Pachauri

  • The United Nations has ruled out an inquiry into allegations against former chair of the UN’s panel on climate change RajendraPachauri and said a new head will be elected later this year to replace him.
  • Pachauri resigned from his position as Chair of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on February 24 after a woman employee of his think-tank TERI in New Delhi accused him of sexual harassment.

12) WHO to begin vaccination trials in Guinea

  • Current Affirs The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that it will begin conducting Ebola vaccination trials in Guinea to test whether the vaccine is effective to prevent Ebola. The phase III trial in one of the world`s most affected countries by Ebola will start on March 7 to test the VSV-EBOV vaccine for efficacy and effectiveness, based on data from initial clinical trials, Xinhua reported, citing WHO 
  • The objectives of the trial are two-fold: to assess if the vaccine protects the contacts who were vaccinated and if vaccinating the contacts will create a buffer - or ring of protected individuals - around the index case to prevent further spread of the infection 
  • According to the latest update on Ebola of WHO, 132 new confirmed cases had been reported in West Africa in the week leading up to March 1, an increase from the previous week of 99 new cases. And in Guinea, the weekly number of confirmed cases had also increased.
  • WHO said the vaccination will take place in areas of BasseGuinee, the region that currently has the highest number of cases in Guinea.
  • It added that the criteria included acceptable safety profile, induction of appropriate immune responses, including neutralizing antibodies, and the timely availability of sufficient supplies of vaccine doses. 
  • The agency also said the vaccines` manufacturers have assured that enough vaccine will be available in the coming months and that financial resources are in place to procure and make vaccines available in the affected countries.

13) India, Bangladesh, China most at risk from river floods – study

  • India, Bangladesh and China are most at risk from river floods, with an increasing number of people threatened because of climate change and economic growth in low-lying regions, a study said on 5th March. The U.S.-based World Resources Institute think-tank and four Dutch research groups estimated that some 21 million people worldwide were affected by river flooding in a typical year. 
  • People living in 15 emerging nations, led by India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam and Pakistan, accounted for almost 80 percent of all those affected by floods in an average year, it said. In India alone, almost five million people were at risk. 
  • The United States had 167,000 people exposed to floods in a average year, the most for any developed nation, putting it 18th on a ranking of more than 160 nations. 
  • The U.N. panel of climate scientists said last year that global warming would lead to more risks of floods, heatwaves, storms, downpours, landslides, air pollution, water scarcity, sea level rise and storm surges. 
  • The study estimated that $96 billion of annual global gross domestic product was exposed to river floods every year, led by India on $14 billion and Bangladesh on $5.4 billion. This amount could rise to $521 billion by 2030.
  • Such flooding can also impact multinational companies which spread their production capacity -- monsoon floods in Thailand in 2011 killed more than 800 people and closed many factories -- including some making parts for firms such as Intel and Apple.
  • Germany sets gender quota in company boardrooms 
  • Germany on 6th March became the latest and most significant country so far to commit to improving the representation ofwomen on corporate boards, passing a law that requires some of Europe`s biggest companies to give 30 per cent of supervisory seats to women beginning next year
  • Fewer than 20 per cent of the seats on corporate boards in Germany are held by women, while some of the biggest multinational companies in the world are based here, including Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler - the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles - as well as Siemens, Deutsche Bank, BASF, Bayer and Merck. In passing the law, Germany joined a trend in Europe to accomplish what has not happened organically, or through general pressure: to legislate a much greater role for women in boardrooms. 
  • Norway was the first in Europe to legislate boardroom quotas, joined by Spain, France and Iceland, which all set their minimums at 40 per cent. Italy has a quota of one-third, Belgium of 30 per cent and the Netherlands a 30 per cent non-binding target. 
  • Britain has not legislated boardroom quotas, but a voluntary effort, known as the 30% Club, has helped to substantially increase women`s representation. The group, founded by Helena Morrissey, a money manager, has used persuasion to help double the percentage of women on the boards of major British companies since 2010, to 23 per cent.
  • The United States has also seen women`s representation grow slightly, up to 17 per cent of board seats, without legislative mandates, though its growth has been extremely slow.
  • Under the new law, some 100 of Germany’s best-known companies must give 30% of their supervisory board seats to women starting next year 
  • Another 3,500 companies have a deadline of September 30 to submit plans to increase the share of women in top positions 
  • Fewer than 20% of the seats on corporate boards in Germany are held by women 
  • Norway was the first in Europe to legislate boardroom quotas, joined by Spain, France and Iceland, which all set their minimums at 40%. Italy has a quota of one-third, Belgium of 30% and the Netherlands a 30% non-binding target 
  • Britain has not legislated boardroom quotas, but a voluntary effort, known as the 30% Club, has helped to substantially increase women’s representation 
  • The US has also seen women’s representation grow slightly, up to 17% of board seats, without legislative mandates, though its growth has been extremely slow 
  • In Silicon Valley, companies like Twitter have added a female director after criticism of their all-male boards.



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