International Current Affairs
International Current Affairs February 1st Week 2016
Category : International Current Affairs
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1) The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects an international public health emergency.

  • The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects an international public health emergency, a rare move that signals the seriousness of the outbreak and gives countries new tools to fight it.
  • An outbreak of the Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, was detected in Brazil in May and has since moved into more than 20 countries in Latin America, including two new ones announced: Costa Rica and Jamaica. 
  • The main worry is over the virus’s possible link to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and, in the vast majority of cases, damaged brains.
  • The current outbreak of Zika has taken the world by surprise. The virus was first identified in 1947 in Uganda, and for years lived mostly in monkeys. But last May in Brazil, cases began increasing drastically. 
  • The W.H.O. has estimated that four million people could be infected by the end of the year. The rapid spread is because people in the Americas have not developed immunity.
2) India and Brunei signed three MoU’s.
  • India and Brunei have signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate in the fields of defence, health and youth affairs & sports. 
  • These MoUs were signed the representatives of both the countries in presence of the visiting Vice President Mohd Hamid Ansari at capital Bandar Seri Begawan. 
Three MoUs are 
 MoU in Health Cooperation:
  1. Its objective is to establish cooperation in the field of health between the two countries by means of pooling technical, scientific, financial and human resources and pharmaceutical regulatory practices. It also seeks to upgrade the health care, research and medical education. 
 MoU on Defence Cooperation:
  1. Its purpose is to enhance and expand the scope of Defence Cooperation between the two countries in various fields. Defence ties between India and Brunei dates back to many decades and already exist in the form of naval ship visits, training of senior military officers in Staff colleges and exchange of experience.
  2. MoU on Cooperation in Youth and Sports Affairs: It seeks to provide a framework for exchanges of sports teams and sports persons. 
  • The defence agreement between both countries is being considered as a major diplomatic breakthrough since both sides established formal relations in 1984.
  • Currently, oil rich Brunei’s defence responsibilities are handled by the United Kingdom. India’s defence cooperation with Brunei plays significant role in present scenario as the later has territorual disputes with China on the issue of South China Sea.
About Brunei:
 Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan
 Currency: Brunei dollar 
3) The European Commission (EC) and the USA agreed on a new framework for transatlantic data flows.
  • The European Commission (EC) and the USA agreed on a new framework for transatlantic data flows. The framework that will be known as the EU-US Privacy Shield will enable the government agencies to transfer data relied on by Facebook and Google across the Atlantic.
  • And, the agreement will replace the 16-year old Safe Harbour arrangement that was ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice in October 2015.
  • The court scrapped the agreement in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations on US intelligence.
  • Compared to the Safe Harbour, the Privacy Shield arrangement seeks to provide stronger obligations on companies in the USA to protect the personal data of Europeans and stronger monitoring and enforcement by the US agencies.

4) The world’s longest three-rope cable car system was inaugurated in Vietnam’s Lao Cai province.

  • The world’s longest three-rope cable car system was inaugurated in Vietnam’s Lao Cai province. 
  • With a total length of 6,292.5 metres, the system was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest three-rope cable car route, and also the world’s biggest height gap between its departure and arrival stations of 1,410 metres.
About the Cable Car System: 
  1. The system, connecting Muong Hoa Valley and Fansipan mountain in Lao Cai, some 250 km northwest of capital Hanoi, has a capacity of 2,000 passengers per hour with each cabin accommodating 35 people.
  2. The system shortens the travel time to the peak of the 3,143-metre Fansipan mountain, which is dubbed the Roof of Indo-China, to 15 minutes.
  3. Construction of the cable car system began in November 2013.
  4. The cable car system is expected to help boost the number of tourists to Lao Cai’s Sa Pa town by 30 per cent to 40 per cent every year, reaching around three million by 2020.
About Vietnam:
 Capital: Hanoi
 Currency: Vietnamese dong


5) France became first country in the world to ban supermarket food waste.

  • The French Senate unanimously passed a law to ban large food stores from throwing away food that is approaching its expiration date.
  • The National Assembly, France`s other legislative chamber, had unanimously voted on the same measures.
  • France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks.
  • The law came into being after a petition was launched by anti-poverty campaigners led by Councillor Arash Derambarsh.
Key highlights of the new law
  1. With the new law, supermarkets are bound to make donations to charities and food banks, failing which they face a fine of 75000 euros and a jail term of 2 years.
  2. The law also prohibits stores from pouring bleach over food items.
6) India to participate in Cobra Gold 2016 military exercise in Thailand.
  • The term Cobra Gold was in news as India confirmed its participation in the annual amphibious military exercise in 2016. 
  • The decision in this regard was conveyed to Thailand, the host country, during Vice President Hamid Ansari’s visit to the country.
  • It is the largest Asia-Pacific military exercise and held in Thailand every year. It is among the largest multinational military exercise in which the United States participates.
  • As of 2014, Cobra Gold has three distinct activities, namely, the Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX), Command Post Exercise (CPX) and activity related to assisting the local Thai population.
  • It was first held in 1982 to improve coordination between the armed forces of the USA and Thailand in both hostile military and humanitarian.
  • China was admitted to the exercise for the first time in 2015. 
About Thailand:
 Capital: Bangkok
 Currency: Thai baht
 Prime Minister: Yingluck Shinawatra