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 1. US denies visit visa to 3 senior Pakistani officials

 
The US has denied visit visas to three senior Pakistani officials for not taking back Pakistani immigrants who are illegally residing in America. 
This was disclosed by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. 
Washington`s move came after a warning was issued late last month by the US that the visa sanction policy might also withhold visas of Pakistani senior officials and not just of ordinary travellers. 
The decision was taken under a law according to which countries refusing to take back deportees and visa over-stayers could be denied American visas.
 
2. Trump declares national emergency over IT threats
 
US President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to protect American computer networks from foreign adversaries. 
Mr. Trump signed an executive order which effectively bars US companies from using foreign telecoms believed to pose a security risk to the country. 
Mr Trump does not name any company specifically in the order. However, analysts suggest it is mainly directed at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
A number of countries - including the US - have raised concerns that the company`s products could be used by China for surveillance. Huawei has said its work does not pose any threat. 
The US is also embroiled in an escalating trade war with China.
 
3. US State Dept orders departure of non-emergency employees from Iraq
 
The US State Department has ordered the departure of non-emergency employees from Iraq, amid rising tensions between the US and Iraq`s neighbour Iran. 
The US Embassy in Baghdad advised such employees to leave Iraq by commercial transportation as soon as possible. 
Referring to the embassy and the US consulate in Erbil, the State Department said that normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended. 
It has also warned its citizens against travelling to the country due to the high risk of violence and kidnapping.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had made an unannounced visit to Iraq last week amid escalating tensions with Iran. US Central Command had warned in a statement that Iranian-backed forces presented credible and possibly imminent threats to US forces in Iraq, without disclosing further details. 
There were reports suggesting that US investigators believed that the sabotage of the four commercial ships in the territorial waters of the UAE was carried out by proxies of Iran.
Saudi Arabia has also blamed the Houthi militia for the drone attack on two of its oil pumping station. Houthis are believed to be backed by Iran.
Last week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani had announced partial withdrawal from some of the commitments made under the landmark 2015 International Nuclear Deal. 
The announcement came after US unilaterally decided last year to withdraw from the deal and imposed sanctions on Iran.
 
4. Austria approves headscarf ban in primary schools
 
Austria has approved a law aimed at banning the headscarf in primary schools. However, patka head covering worn by Sikh boys or the Jewish kippa would not be affected, says the government. 
The law was proposed by the ruling right-wing government.
Representatives of both parts of the governing coalition, the centre-right People`s Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), have said that the law is targeted at the Islamic headscarf.
FPOe education spokesman Wendelin Moelzer said the law was a signal against political Islam while OeVP MP Rudolf Taschner said the measure was necessary to free girls from subjugation.
Opposition MPs almost all voted against the measure, with some accusing the government of focusing on garnering positive headlines rather than child welfare.
The government has admitted that the law is likely to be challenged at Austria`s constitutional court, either on grounds of religious discrimination or because similar legislation affecting schools is normally passed with a two-thirds majority of MPs.
 
5. Global Influence of Asian Civilizations Forum has begun in Beijing
 
The opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations will be held in the China National Convention Center, Beijing where Xi Jinping, Chinese President will deliver a keynote speech.
The Forum on Global Influence of Asian Civilizations is 1 of the 6 parallel forums of the “Conference of Dialogue on Asian Civilizations”. 
The Forum on Global Influence of Asian Civilizations is organized by the National Radio and Television Administration of the People’s Republic of China.
The representatives from 47 Asian and other invited countries will attend the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations event. The theme of the event is “Exchanges and Mutual Learning among Asian Civilizations and a Community with a Shared Future.”
The conference will include thematic forums, an Asian culture carnival and Asian Civilization Week.
The vice minister of the National Radio and Television Administration of the People’s Republic of China, Fan Weiping hosted the opening ceremony of the forum.
The deputy head of Publicity Department of CPC Committee, Nie Chenxi, delivered the keynote speech.
The theme of the forum was “Asian Values for the World,” where the speakers discussed the rich and contemporary values of Asian civilizations and also elaborated on the new missions of Asian civilizations in the present times.
A supporting activity termed as the “Dialogue on Asian Internet Audio-Visual Broadcasting Policy and Release of Cooperation Results,” will be held in line with the forum.
 
6. Saudi grants exit visas to 450 stranded Indian workers
 
In Saudi Arabia, authorities have granted exit visas to 450 stranded Indian workers and their repatriation will begin soon. 
This was announced by India`s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr. Ausaf Sayeed on the occasion of Iftar to share the meal with the workers. 
He added that the  Indian Embassy is working to obtain exit visas for the remaining workers.
 
7. Donald Trump unveils merit-based immigration system
 
US President Donald Trump has rolled out a merit-based immigration system from which foreigners, including hundreds and thousands of Indian professionals and skilled workers, waiting to get Green Cards or permanent legal residency stand to benefit. 
He made the announcement in his Rose Garden speech. 
President Trump said under the proposed system permanent legal residency would be given based on points for their age, knowledge, job opportunities and civic sense. 
The proposals significantly increase the quota for skilled workers from the existing nearly 12 per cent to 57 per cent. 
Besides, immigrants will be required to learn English and pass a civics exam prior to admission.
 
8. Mint Globetrotter Index
 
The Mint Globetrotter Index was prepared by Mint’s data partner Howindialives.com which is a database and search engine for public data that took into account 25 essential spends in total, ranging from multifarious categories, namely, accommodation, shopping, leisure, market and food and came up with an index which would help general public to travel well-informed.
For an easy comparison between different cities, the indices were benchmarked to a value of 100 for Delhiand re-based accordingly.
This means that, Zurich has an index value of 301 (this means that the 25 items cost 201% more of what they cost in Delhi) Kathmandu has an index of 82 (the same items here cost 18% less than what they cost in Delhi).
The ‘others’ category in the Mint Globetrotter Index comprises of 7 cities across Africa, West Asia and the Indian Ocean, among which, Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, is the most expensive with an index value of 192 and a rank of 28.
The cost profile of Lagos is very similar to that of India and ranks 5th on the index and is the cheapest in the category.
Dubai is much more costlier than Delhi and ranks 24 on the overall cost index.
Cape Town, the oldest city in South Africa ranked 16 on the overall index and is 47% costlier than Delhi.
Amsterdam is the most expensive city on the index, whereas Bali is the 9th cheapest.
 
9. US reaches deal with Canada, Mexico to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum
 
United States has reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum and the corresponding retaliatory tariffs. 
This move is likely to ease trade tensions between the three North American countries.
Elimination of these tariffs is expected to remove a significant barrier to passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The 1.4 trillion dollar in North American trade supports more than 12 million American jobs.
Mr Trump in his address to the National Association of Realtors Legislative Meeting said he is pleased to announce that they have just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico. 
He said he will be selling US product into those countries without the imposition of tariffs or major tariffs. 
President Trump said the agreement is going to be a fantastic deal for the US. He hoped the Congress will approve the USMCA quickly.
The steep US tariffs imposed last year -- 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum -- became a major stumbling block to ratifying a new North American trade pact negotiated last year by the three countries.
 
10. Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage
 
For the first time in Asia, Taiwan’s parliament legalised same-sex marriage, as lawmakers passed a billpermitting same-sex couples to form ‘exclusive permanent unions‘ which would let them apply for a ‘marriage registration’ (under Clause Four) with government agencies.
In 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, but also notified that Taiwan had 2 years to make necessary changes to the law.
The vote took place on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, that is on 17th May, 2019. 
Taiwan has been 1 of the most progressive societies in Asia for gay rights, in the last 10 years. Taiwan had staged Asia’s biggest annual gay pride parade.
The only places in the broader Asia-Pacific region to have passed gay marriage laws are Australia and New Zealand.
Vietnam decriminalised gay marriage celebrations in 2015, but it did not legalise same-sex marriages.
 
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