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International Current Affairs
International Current Affairs December 2nd Week 2017
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International Current Affairs December 2nd Week 2017

1. Final Draw for 2018 World Cup Held in Moscow.
The national football teams from 32 countries found out their fates on Friday as the final draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup was held in the Russian capital of Moscow.
 
The ceremony, which was held at the State Kremlin Palace, included most of the head coaches of the national teams that qualified for next year`s tournament as well as former football stars, who participated in the draw.
 
While previous draws would produce a "Group of Death", this year`s failed to do so.
 
"All the groups are more or less equal. There`s not a very lucky group, or very unlucky groups. People give a lot of importance to the first match because it`s very psychological," said Cola Javier Escalera, a reporter of with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
 
Russia, the host country for the World Cup, was placed in Group A with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. Russia will play Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the tournament on June 14, 2018.
 
"We are a bit disappointed because we face a tough schedule. But we will have an very interesting opening match with Saudi Arabia. This is the first match of the 2018 World Cup, to be held at the Luzhniki Stadium. Russia and Saudi Arabia are at comparable levels," said Andrey Sylchov, a reporter with RT Television Network
 
Among the other groups, 2010 World Cup winners Spain were placed in Group B with Cristiano Ronaldo and European champions Portugal.
 
Lionel Messi and Argentina will take on the likes of Croatia, Nigeria, and Iceland in Group D.
 
Iceland, the smallest nation to ever play at the World Cup, will play the two-time champions Argentina on June 16 at Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
 
Five-time champions Brazil were paired with Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia in Group E, while defending champions Germany will face Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea in Group F.
 
The 21st FIFA World Cup will be held from June 14 to July 15, 2018 at 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities.
 
2. First International exhibition and Conference on AYUSH and Wellness Sector Begun in New Delhi.
 
The first International exhibition and Conference on AYUSH and Wellness sector- AROGYA 2017 will begin in New Delhi today. The four day event will be inaugurated by Ayush Minister Shripad Yesso Naik.
 
The theme of the conference is Enhancing the global potential of Ayush. The objective of the event is to showcase the strength and scientific validation of Indian System of Medicine in the global context. 
 
It will also facilitate International promotion, development and recognition of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy. 
 
The fair will give a boost to AYUSH Products in International Market. Over 200 Ayush and wellness delegates from over 50 countries are attending the conference.
 
AYUSH is the acronym of the medical systems that are being practiced in India such as Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.

3. International Conference on Climate Change Begins in Nepal.

All nations should invest in resources to limit the detrimental impact of climate change, Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari said today as she inaugurated an international conference here to draw attention towards the adverse effects of global warming in the Hindu Kush mountain range

The four-day conference is attended by more than 300 experts from different countries of Asia including India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar. V K Saraswat, member of India`s Neeti foundation is leading the Indian delegation in the conference.

President Bhandari while addressing the conference said, "The Hindu Kush Himalaya Region is the lifeline to tens of millions of people and the impact of climate change and other human activities are adversely affecting the entire region". "I believe that it is high time that nations invest resources to limit the detrimental impact of climate change and environmental degradation rather than spend money on areas that threaten human lives and resources," she said.

The conference will further augment conservation and development efforts in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, Minister for Environment of Nepal Mithila Chaudhary said. "It will strengthen the socio-economic well-being of communities from Myanmar in the east to Afghanistan in the west, and help conserve biodiversity and cultural diversity in the region," Chaudhary added.

The conference `Resilient Hindu Kush Himalaya: Developing Solutions towards a Sustainable Future for Asia` is being organised by Nepal`s Ministry for Environment in collaboration with International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

As Hindu Kush Himalayan region stretches from Afghanistan to Myanmar and a quarter of humanity depend for water and other resources in the Himalayas, therefore, it is important to preserve the region for the future of humanity, observed David Molden, director general of ICIMOD said.

4. South Korea and USA Launch Largest Air Exercise.

Hundreds of aircraft including two dozen stealth jets began training on Monday as the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever combined air force exercise.

The war games come a week after North Korea test-fired its most powerful missile ever, an ICBM that may be able to target the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The five-day drill, called Vigilant Ace, is meant to improve the allies` wartime capabilities and preparedness, South Korea`s defence ministry said.

The US Seventh Air Force sent major strategic military assets that include six F-22 and 18 F-35 stealth fighter jets for the annual training exercise in the Korean Peninsula. About 12,000 US military personnel are participating.

In total, 230 aircraft will be flying at eight US and South Korean military installations in the South.

Some local media report that B-1B bombers will also join aerial drills, but officials did not confirm their participation.

The training, held each year in late autumn, is not in response to any incident or provocation, the Seventh Air Force said in a statement.

North Korea`s state media said the drill pushes the Korean Peninsula "to the brink of nuclear war". Such language is typical in North Korean propaganda because the country claims US-South Korean drills are preparation for invasion.

Nevertheless, tensions are at a particularly dangerous point as North Korea edges toward its goal of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped long-range missiles, and as US President Donald Trump ramps up his rhetoric toward the North, threatening, for instance, to unleash "fire and fury" against the country.

5. Iranian President Inaugurates First Phase of Chabahar Port.

The first phase of the Chabahar port was inaugurated on Sunday by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, opening up a new strategic transit route between Iran, India and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.
 
The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation’s southern coast lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast and is considered as a “gateway to golden opportunities” for trade with central Asian countries.
 
The first phase of the Chabahar port project is known as the Shahid Beheshti port and it was inaugurated by Rouhani in the presence of representatives of several countries of the region.
 
According to the ministry of external affairs, minister of state for shipping Pon Radhakrishnan represented India at the inauguration.
 
“The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air,” Rouhani said at the inauguration ceremony, according to his office.
 
The port is likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries. India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternative, reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan.
 
Under the agreement signed between India and Iran in May last year, India is to equip and operate two berths in the Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease.
 
Rouhani’s office said the president noted that transit is the best communication tool for nations, adding “the routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air”.
 
Ahead of the inauguration of the port, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday met her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif in Tehran during which the implementation of the Chabahar port project was discussed among other issues.
 
Swaraj made a stopover at Tehran on her return from Russian city of Sochi where she had attended the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
 
The port is likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.
 
Over a month ago, India sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port, marking opening of the new strategic transit route
 
6. Sixth International Tourism Mart 2017 begins in Assam.
 Sixth International Tourism Mart for Northeastern States is going to start at Hotel Vivanta in Guwahati from December 5, 2017. The three-day mega tourist mart being organized by Union Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of DoNER is being hosted by Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC).
 
Talking to the media at ATDC office at Paltan Bazar in Guwahati, ATDC chairman Jayanta Malla Baruah said: “Seventy-five participants are set to come to the mart from thirty countries, besides 100 participants from the eight north-eastern States and participants from rest of India. Events during the three days are – Guwahati city orientation tours, panel discussions, river cruise, etc. The events will take place in four different tourist circuits in the region. All tourism ministers of the north-eastern States, besides Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, will attend the event. Most of the would-be participants have Assam as their target destination. We’re going to do everything to feed tour operators, bloggers and mediapersons with information on Assam tourist spots.”
 
“Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is going to hold a discussion at Mumbai next week with film producers, filmmakers, directors and others so as to promote Assam as a destination for film tourism,” Malla said, and added: “The Chief Minister’s team is going to take video clippings of prospective sites of the State for shoot to show them at the meeting.”
 
 
7. ADB Funds $580 Million for Reliances Bangladesh Power Plant Project.
Reliance Power Ltd on Tuesday said Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved debt financing and partial risk guarantees totalling $583 million to develop its 750 MW power plant and LNG terminal project in Bangladesh.
 
“The board of Asian Development Bank has approved debt financing and partial risk guarantees totalling $583 million (approx Rs3,748 crore) for 750 MW LNG based combined cycle power plant and LNG Terminal project being developed by the company’s subsidiaries in Bangladesh,” the company said in a BSE filing.
 
The project, which includes a power generation facility to be located in Meghnaghat near Dhaka and an LNG terminal near Kutubdia Island south of Chittagong, will significantly increase power generation and improve energy infrastructure in Bangladesh, ADB said.
 
Total project cost is approximately $1 billion.
 
At 12.19pm, Reliance Power shares were trading 0.41% lower at Rs36.60 on BSE, while the Sensex was down 0.35% to 32,753.93 points.
 
Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.
 
8. UAE, UK, US and French Armies Hold Joint Exercises in Abu Dhabi.
 
The two-week United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and France joint army training exercise is kicked off in Abu Dhabi on Monday with an aim to consolidate multilateral relations. 
 
Notably, the exercise named “Flag4” is a part of the effort to consolidate multilateral relations, and to increase coordination between the UAE Armed Forces and participating nations. The exercise comes within the framework of UAE`s joint military co-operation with brotherly and friendly countries.
 
The joint exercise aims to increase combat efficiency, gain more field expertise, and work to unify military concepts among participating parties. During the exercise, the forces of the four countries will show their professional skills in which live ammunition to be used.
 
The military exercise also reflects the combat and professional ability in strengthening the concept of command, control and hitting targets with high precision and joint conclusion between the four sides. The exercise is characterized by seriousness and integration in command and control, the application of combat strategies, unification of joint military concepts and the implementation of all stages of professional training between ground units.
 
9. Ellie Goulding Honored as UN Environment Global Goodwill Ambassador.
the chart-topping, award-winning British artist, has been appointed a UN Environment Global Goodwill Ambassador.   
 
Just weeks after collecting a Global Leadership Award from the UN, the singer and songwriter now joins the ongoing battle to clean up the environment, tackle climate change and protect endangered species. It`s no small task, and she knows it. “It’s a huge honor to become a UN Environment Global Goodwill Ambassador,” Ellie said in a statement, ‘Yes, we face huge global challenges, but we are also taking game-changing steps forward and that should inspire us."  
 
In her new UN role, Goulding will focus “on amplifying the activism of young people committed to creating a bright future. I want as many people as possible to become advocates for the planet.”  
 
The 30-year-old pop star shared the news in Kenya, surrounded by giraffes at the Giraffe Manor in the suburbs of the capital Nairobi, where UN Environment has its HQ.
 
10. US withdraws from UN Global Compact on Migration. 
The United States notified the United Nations that it will no longer take part in the global compact on migration, saying it undermines the nation`s sovereignty.
 
The US has been a part of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants since it was formed last year. The declaration aims to ensure the rights of migrants, help them resettle and provide them with access to education and jobs.
It calls for the negotiation of a global compact on migration, which is expected to be adopted next year.
 
"While we will continue to engage on a number of fronts at the United Nations," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement Sunday, "in this case, we simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders."
 
The US supports "international cooperation on migration issues," the statement added, "but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal."
In explaining its withdrawal Saturday, the US said the pact contains provisions that are inconsistent with the nation`s immigration policies.
 
While the US is proud of its leadership on migration and refugee issues, the global approach is not compatible with the nation`s sovereignty, according to Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN.
Haley said Trump made the decision, and emphasized that Americans should determine their own policies on immigration.
 
"Our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone," she said. "We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country."
 
11. Venezuela launches new virtual currency called Petro.
President claims digital currency called the ‘petro’ will be backed by Venezuelan reserves of gold, oil, gas, and diamonds
 
President Nicolas Maduro has said Venezuela would launch a cryptocurrency to combat a US-led financial “blockade,” although he provided few clues about how the economically crippled Opec member would pull off the feat.
 
“Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency ... the ‘petro,’ to advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade,” leftist Maduro said during his weekly Sunday televised broadcast.
 
Cash crunch: how Venezuela inadvertently became a cashless economy
 Read more
The digital currency will be backed by Venezuelan reserves of gold, oil, gas, and diamonds, he said during the near five-hour show, which included traditional Christmas songs and dancing.
 
“The 21st century has arrived!” Maduro added to cheers, without providing specifics about the currency launch.
 
Opposition leaders scorned the announcement, which they said needed congressional approval, and some cast doubt on whether the digital currency would ever see the light of day in tumultuous Venezuela.
 
Still, the announcement highlights how US sanctions this year are hurting Venezuela’s ability to move money through international banks. Sources say compliance departments are scrutinising transactions linked to Venezuela, which has slowed some bond payments and complicated certain oil exports.
 
Maduro’s move away from the US dollar comes after the recent spectacular rise of bitcoin, which has been fuelled by signs that the digital currency is slowly gaining traction in the mainstream investment world.
 
12. World Soil Day is observed on 5th December.
 
One annual celebration you might be forgiven for not participating in (or even knowing about) is World Soil Day. Yes, soil—as in that sticky brown stuff that gets walked all over your prized cream carpets. Sadly, it is our ignorance about the importance of soil and the degree to which we take advantage of all that it offers that have led to a drastic reduction in its quality the world over. These are precisely the problems World Soil Day aims to battle, as few things could be more important to us, the inhabitants of Planet Earth, who could never hope to survive without the land. Soil is one without a doubt of the most significant parts of the ecosystem, contributing to our food, water and energy and playing an important part in reducing the impact of climate change. For all of these reasons, it’s high time World Soil Day became known to more people than just scientists concerned about the welfare of our planet.
 
The History of World Soil Day
 
In 2002, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) made a resolution proposing the 5th of December be World Soil Day in order to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human well-being. 2015 was also declared to be the Internationals Year of Soils in hopes of raising as much awareness as possible about the enormous role soil plays in food security. Unsurprisingly, so far it’s mostly been the global community of 60,000 or so soil scientists who have been the ones celebrating the day the most. The chances of us ordinary folk exchanging ‘Happy Soil Day’ cards in the near future remain minimal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to appreciate the important roles that soil plays in our lives (even if it is darn hard to scrub off the carpet when your nearest and dearest feline friends leave muddy footprints on their way to the kitchen).
 
13. Third DRC-NITI Aayog Dialogue Held in China.
The 3rd edition of the Dialogue between the NITI Aayog and the Development Research Council of China, the DRC- NITI Aayog Dialogue was held in Beijing today. The meeting was co-chaired by Vice Chairman NITI Aayog, Dr. Rajiv Kumar, and Mr Li Wei, President (Minister), DRC. 
 
The Indian delegation led by Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog included senior officials from NITI Aayog as well as Ministries of New & Renewable Energy and Food Processing. The Chinese delegation comprised of researchers and officials from DRC as well as the Chinese Ministries of Finance, Commerce, Foreign Affairs, and the National Development & Reform Commission. 
 
The DRC-NITI Dialogue provides an important platform for both sides to discuss key macro- economic issues impacting both countries and areas of mutual interest. The 3rd Dialogue enabled an in-depth interaction between the two delegations on the world economic prospects, India-China economic cooperation and practices for sustainable growth. In the context of global uncertainty and weak global growth, it was noted that as two large and rapidly growing developing countries, both India and China have a major stake in the path that the global economy is likely to take in coming years. 
 
Both sides exchanged views on policies and measures to address the challenges for attaining sustainable growth. In-depth discussions were held on sharing of experiences and best practices in the areas of Electric mobility, Clean energy, Higher education and Special Economic Zones (SEZs). 
 
 
14. International conference on Climate Change held in Nepal.
Nepal will hold an international conference to draw attention on climate change and its adverse effects on people in the Hindu Kush mountain range. President Bidya Devi Bhandari will inaugurate the four-day long conference aimed at developing solutions for a sustainable future for Asia that could withstand the impacts of climate change.
 
Over 200 delegates including scientists, environmental experts, government officials, non-governmental organisations and policy makers are expected to participate in the event to be organised at the initiative of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). The main objective of the event, held with the support of Nepal’s Ministry for Environment, is to develop solutions for resilience building, promoting regional cooperation and reducing the data gaps for sustainable mountain development, ICIMOD Director General Dr David Molden said.
 
For an effective response to the complex challenges facing the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH), multiple actors need to come together and develop a collective vision for the region’s sustainable development, ICIMOD said in a statement. “It will approach resilience building for transformative change in the HKH from a holistic perspective, viewed in the context of multiple change process in mountain areas. It also aims to deepen the commitment among concerned stakeholders and decision makers to find and implement resilience building solutions in the HKH and downstream,” Molden said.
 
15. Tenth Jaipur International Film Festival.
The Festival that has given a new global identity to the pink city of Jaipur has become great favourite of both the cinegoers and the film makers. The second and the last list of films selected for the Festival was released on Tuesday that includes a total of 48 films from 13 countries.
 
List of Feature films
 
Angrezi Mein Kehte Hein directed by Harish Vyas from India/Hindi
 
Half Widow directed by Danish Renzu from India/ Kashmiri and Urdu
 
Andarkahini (Self-Exile) directed by Arnab Middya from India/Bengali
 
Inkblot directed by Vedanti Dani from India/English
 
POV-Point of view directed by Prabhakar Jha from India/Hindi
 
Donaire Y Esplendor (Grace & Splendor) directed by Arturo Montenegro from Panama/ Spanish
 
The first list of selected films was released on November five containing 72 films. A total of 120 films will be screened in the five day Festival beginning from January 6, 2018 at Golecha Cinema. Four Mobile films, three Web Series films and ninth movies under Film Market are yet to be included in the final list taking the total number of films to be screened in the Festival to 136.
 
The films set to be screened in the Festival include 49 films from India and 71 films from other countries around the globe. The list also includes seven films from the host state of Rajasthan. In the previous festival -JIFF 2017 -134 films were screened. A total of 2019 films from 101 countries were received by the Festival office this year.
 
16. International Solar Alliance is Now a Legal Entity.
 
In terms of its Framework Agreement, with ratification by Guinea as the 15th country on 6th November 2017, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization today.
 
India`s global initiative, the International Solar Alliance, which aims at increasing solar energy deployment in member countries, will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization today.
 
The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of France on 30 November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference. It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at a scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
 
Till date, 46 countries have signed and 19 countries have ratified the framework agreement of the ISA. The ISA interim secretariat has been operational as a de-facto organization since 25 January 2016.
 
 
The Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and uprooted 11 million.
 
More than 2.5 million Syrian children are refugees, about 500,000 of whom are residing in Lebanon, KidsRights said. Many struggle to get enough nutritious food or access healthcare, and almost half of those aged between six and 14 are out of school.
 
“It is very important to give these children an education, otherwise they could become a lost generation,” Jounde said.

 17. Russia Banned from 2018 Winter Olympics.

But Russian athletes who can prove they are clean would be allowed to compete in South Korea under a neutral flag.

It follows an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Games hosted by Russia in Sochi.

"This should draw a line under this damaging episode," the IOC said.

The decision has been widely condemned in Russia, with some politicians urging a boycott of the Games, though other officials have welcomed the chance for `clean` athletes to take part.

IOC president Thomas Bach and his board - who made the announcement in Lausanne on Tuesday - came to the decision after reading through the findings and recommendations of a 17-month investigation headed up by the former president of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has been suspended but the IOC said it will invite Russian clean athletes to compete in February under the name `Olympic Athlete from Russia` (OAR).

Despite repeated Russian denials, the Schmid report has found evidence of "the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system" which back up previous allegations of government involvement in cheating in the run-up to and during the Winter Olympics almost four years ago.

Bach said: "This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system."

The Games in South Korea, which start on 9 February, will now be without one of the powerhouses of Olympic sport.


 

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