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September 04, 2012

Current Affairs - International - August

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Bangladesh has ordered three international charities to stop providing aid to Rohingya refugees who cross the border to flee violence in Myanmar. France's Doctors without Borders (MSF) and Action Against Hunger (ACF) as well as Britain's Muslim Aid UK have been told to suspend their services in the Cox's Bazaar district bordering Myanmar.
The former UN Secretary - General Kofi Annan quit as international peace envoy to Syria on 3 August, complaining that his initiative to end the bloodshed there never received the support it deserved. As Syria's government deployed fighter jets against rebels armed with tanks around the commercial capital Aleppo, the outgoing UN-Arab League envoy voiced regret at the "increasing militarisation" of the nearly 17-month conflict.

The 193 member U.N. General Assembly on 3 August, overwhelmingly adopted a Saudi-drafted resolution on Syria that expressed “grave concern” at the escalating violence but India was among the 31 nations that abstained. The General Assembly passed the resolution that denounced Syria’s crackdown on its people and demanded that the country lockdown its chemical and biological weapons. The resolution also deplored “the failure of the Security Council to agree on measures to ensure the compliance of Syrian authorities with its decisions”. The resolution got 133 votes in favour, while 12 countries voted against. Thirty-one countries, including India, abstained.
An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has killed at least 13 people in Uganda. The outbreak began in late June. Ebola is spread by close personal contact, and kills up to 90 percent of those infected. There is no vaccine for the virus. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, headache, vomiting and impaired kidneys.
Somalia’s Constituent Assembly on 1 August , endorsed a draft constitution billed as a key step to ending decades of civil war during. The Horn of Africa country’s outgoing government hailed the end of an eight-year interim period. Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali expressed happy and announced that Somalia has from now, left the transitional period. The special assembly chosen by traditional elders in a U.N.-backed process took eight days to debate and vote on the new Constitution, as the graft-riddled government approaches the end of its mandate on August 20.Key steps in the fragile political process remain, including a new Parliament to be selected by traditional elders, with that Parliament to subsequently elect a new President. 
Pakistan’s Supreme Court on 8 August 2012 ordered the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to appear before judges for he failed to write Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against the president Asif Ali Zardari. The court asked the PM to appear before judges on 27 August 2012 to explain his actions.Earlier on 3 August 2012 the Supreme Court had nullified a legislation that sought to protect elected legislators from contempt charges. It was believed that the legislation was meant to prevent court from disqualifying current Prime Minister from the office under contempt charges.Earlier,the Supreme Court of Pakistan had removed Yousuf Raza Gilani from his post on 19 June 2012 after he failed to follow court’s order to write a letter to Swiss authorities asking them to reopen corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
In Sudan, the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) handed over power to the newly elected National Assembly on 8 August 2012 in a ceremony in Tripoli. NTC Chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil passed on the responsibility to the oldest member of the new two hundred member assembly, Mohammed Ali Salim. The new assembly will appoint a new interim Prime Minister to form the government and a sixty-member panel to draft the new constitution of Libya. The ceremony marked the first peaceful government transition of the country post Gadhafi seized power in Libya.
The US government on 2 August 2012 announced to impose some fresh sanctions on Iran. These sanctions, imposed under Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), put punitive regulation on those who continued to maintain ties with Iran.Under the sanction Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq faced cut off from transactions with US institutions. The two banks were punished for facilitating transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of sanctioned Iranian banks. Experts say that the new sanctions categorically target the Iranian energy and petrochemical sectors. Earlier this year India, China and a host of other nations had opposed US’ dictate to cut down their oil imports from Iran. US and European Union have come down heavily on Iran’s nuclear programme seeking all possible diplomatic methods to stop the belligerent nation to carry on its nuclear programme. Though the heavy sanctions imposed by the US and EU over Iran have not yielded them the desired result as Iran has thus far not gave up its plan to build nuclear armaments.
Sudan and South Sudan have come into an agreement in Adis ababa on 5 August, on a deal over oil, resolving a key part of a bitter dispute that brought the rivals to the brink of all-out war earlier this year. African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki said that the parties have agreed on all of the financial arrangements regarding oil. Landlocked South Sudan said it had agreed to pay a pipeline transit fee of $9.48 per oil barrel to transport its crude through Sudan, a significant drop from Sudan’s initial demands of up to $36 a barrel in fees. In addition, South Sudan agreed to make a "one-off payment" to Khartoum of some $3 billion to cover the massive financial gap created by the South's independence last year, a fractious divorce that left a raft of issues unresolved. Mutrif Siddiq, a Sudanese delegate to the talks in the Ethiopian capital, said the deal was "reasonable", although it did not meet the expectations of either side. U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the deal, saying it opened the door to better prosperity for both countries. He also praised the mediation efforts of the African Union led by Thabo Mbeki, a former South African president.
Taiwan proposed for a peace proposal on 5 August aimed at easing mounting tensions in a territorial dispute over an island chain in the East China Sea also claimed by China and Japan. The proposal, put forth by President Ma Ying-jeou, came after Japanese Defence Minister Satoshi Morimoto warned recently, Tokyo could send troops to the island chain.
At least six persons were killed and several injured, on 5 August, by a gunmen, at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, a Gurdwara, in what appeared to be a hate crime in Oak Creek, a quiet suburb of Milwaukee. Reports also quoted an unnamed member of the Sikh community as saying a Sikh priest visiting from New Delhi was said to have been shot at. One police officer was injured in an exchange of fire. India said its embassy in Washington was in touch with the U.S. National Security Council on the tragic incident. Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao said an official was rushed to the site to ascertain the situation. 
Russia will build a string of naval bases along its northern coast as it prepares to claim a vast swath of the energy-rich Arctic. Security Council chief Nikolay Patrushev said on 7 August, that a list of naval infrastructure hubs along the Northern Sea Route has been drawn up to serve as resupply bases for Russian warships and border guard vessels. By 2020, Russia is to deploy a combined-arms force of naval, border and coastal guard units to protect its economic and political interests in the Arctic.President Vladimir Putin last month said that Russia would build dozens of warships by 2020 to better protect its natural resources in the Arctic. Russia, which is entitled to a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone in the Arctic, plans to submit next year its claim for a 150-mile additional territory on the grounds that the seabed is continuation of its continental shelf. This claim is disputed by other Arctic powers — Norway, the United States, Canada and Denmark.Russia also plans to open year-round navigation along the Northern Sea Route, which stretches for 5,600 km along Russia’s Arctic coast from Murmansk in the Barents Sea to the Bering Strait in the Far East.
The United Nations on 17 August, has announced that Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi will replace Kofi Annan as peace envoy to Syria. The 78- year-old Brahimi has worked in several high-profile positions at the UN, gaining a reputation as a tough, independent negotiator as envoy to Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. He helped negotiate the end of Lebanon’s civil war. Mr. Brahimi is a member of the Elders, a group of former world leaders working for global peace. Mr. Annan announced his resignation earlier this month after failing to achieve a temporary ceasefire during six- month tenure. The Security Council announced on 16 august, it would end the UN military observer mission in Syria.
In a high intensity political act, Ecuador on 16 August, granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ignoring a threat from the British government to strip it of its diplomatic status and storm its embassy in London to arrest Mr. Assange for breaching his bail conditions. He has been holed up at the embassy since seeking refuge there in June to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault. British Foreign Secretary William Hague made clear that Mr. Assange would not be given safe passage out of the country and indicated that the diplomatic stand-off could drag on for some “considerable” time. Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the decision to grant asylum to Mr. Assange was prompted by a concern for Mr. Assange’s human rights as his government believed that his fears of “political persecution’’ were “legitimate.” Mr. Assange fears that if extradited to Sweden he could be handed to the American government that wants to prosecute him for publishing secret official documents. Britain said it was “disappointed” by the decision and stressed its “obligation” to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden pointing out that he had exhausted all legal options in Britain.
Noted Indian-American journalist and author Fareed Zakaria(48) has been suspended by his employers CNN and Time magazine after he admitted to plagiarism and apologized for the ethical lapse. Mr Zakaria, was suspended by CNN and Time magazine after he admitted that he had plagiarised portions of an article he wrote on gun control for Time, from the New Yorker magazine. He issued an apology saying he had made a “terrible mistake” and his lifting a paragraph from the article by Harvard University professor of American history Jill Lepore was an “ethical lapse“. Mr Zakaria, a Yale and Harvard graduate, had written the column on gun control that appeared in the August 20 issue of Time magazine. Born on 20 January 1964 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Fareed Zakaria obtained his Bachelors degree in Arts from Yale University. Later he received Doctorate in Political Science from Harvard University in 1993. In a career spanning more than two decades in journalism, Zakaria worked with numerous global media organizations such as News Week, Time, CNN.
China's commerce ministry announced on 14 August, China will develop two economic zones in North Korea. Both sides met in Beijing to discuss the setting up of Rason Economic and Trade Zone and Hwanggumphyong and Wihwa Islands Economic Zone.Sources said , a joint mechanism will be set up to train personnel, for compiling plans and regulations, customs clearance and telecom links .
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria on 16 August , citing President Bashar al-Assad's suppression of the Syrian revolt, but there was little support for direct military involvement in Syria at a summit of Muslim leaders in Mecca.Summit host Saudi Arabia has led Arab efforts to isolate Syria diplomatically.
Anti-Japanese protests rocked Chinese cities on 19 August, as nationalists from Japan landed on an East China Sea island at the heart of a territorial dispute between the two nations. In several Chinese cities, thousands took to the streets shouted slogans agaist Japan’s claim over the islands. Tokyo and Beijing have been feuding for decades over the island chain, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, near potentially huge maritime gas fields. On 19 August, 10 Japanese made an unauthorised landing on Uotsuri island, the largest in a small archipelago known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands and in China as the Diaoyu Islands. Of the 10 who visited the island, five were conservative local assembly members.
Myanmar abolished direct media censorship on 20 August, the latest dramatic reform by its quasi-civilian regime, but journalists face other formidable restrictions including a ban on private daily newspapers and a pervasive culture of self-censorship. Under the new rules, journalists no longer have to submit reports to state censors before publication, ending a practice strictly enforced during nearly half a century of military rule that ended in March last year. Previously, every song, book, cartoon, news report and planned piece of art required approval by teams of censors rooting out political messages and criticisms of one of Asia’s most repressive governments. Privately run daily newspapers are still not permitted, leaving a monopoly to state-run papers.
Miss China , Wenxia Yu, was crowned the 62nd Miss World with Miss Wales Sophie Elizabeth Moulds as the 1st runner-up and Miss Australia Jessica Michele Kahawaty as the 2nd runner-up. This event was held at Ordos, in China on 18 august.Miss India Vanya Mishra stood at sixth place. While Vanyamishra got the coveted titles of Miss World Beauty with a Purpose and also went on to win the Multimedia Award at the Miss World pageant. Miss china was also awarded Miss Talent 2012, Miss World 2012 Beach Beauty was Miss Wales. While South Sudan took away the Miss World 2012 Top Model award.Finally, Miss World Sports Woman 2012 was awarded to Miss Sweden.
Meles Zenawi (57), Ethiopia’s Prime Minister since 1995, died on 20 August, in a hospital in Brussels. Sources said, Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn would head a transitional government while the ruling party chooses Mr. Meles successor, adding that the Constitution allowed his government to appoint a successor without holding elections. Mr. Meles’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front seized power in 1991 following the collapse of the dictatorship of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. He headed the transitional government and won elections in 1995, 2000, 2005 and most recently in 2010, in a landslide election whose validity was questioned by Western observers and human rights groups. Mr. Meles is credited with resurrecting the ruined economy he inherited in 1991. In the last seven years, the economy has grown by an average 11 per cent annually due to investments in agriculture and infrastructure. Adis Ababa is the capital for Ethiopia. 
Russia became the 156th member of the World Trade Organization on 21 August, following nearly two decades of negotiations. Russia was one of the world's last major economies to join the Geneva-based institution, having previously expressed concerns about the potential influx of Western goods and services. As part of its membership, Russia has agreed to lower import tariffs to less than 8 percent from a current average of around 10 percent. As part of the agreement, Russia has also made commitments to open trade in several sectors, including the banking, automotive and insurance industries. Some analysts expect this will be to the benefit of Russian consumers by making it cheaper for them to purchase imported products while allowing them to save more and invest back into the local economy. Russia joins the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, which will become the WTO s 157th member on 21 August. Pascal Lamy is the present Director-General of WTO. 

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