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Dec 2020

Jun 07, 2021

Merkel's Party Wins Final State Vote by Big Margin

  • Germany's centre right has fended off a challenge by the far right in the last regional test before national polls in September, an exit poll suggests.
  • The Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel won 36% of the vote in the state election in Saxony-Anhalt, a former part of East Germany.
  • It did much better than opinion polls had predicted.
  • The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) took 22.5% after nearly equalling the CDU in the opinion polls.
  • Mrs. Merkel has dominated German politics as chancellor since 2005, leading an uneasy coalition with the CDU's old left-wing political foe, the Social Democrats (SDP), after the last election in 2017.

Historic Agreement, Sets Minimum Tax of 15% for Corporates

  • The G7 Group of leading economies has reached "a historic agreement" to reform the global tax system to make it fit for the global digital age.
  • The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the minimum rate of at least 15 per cent would end the race to the bottom in corporate taxation.
  • The G7 includes the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.
  • The UK holds the G7 presidency this year.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host the G7 leaders for a summit in Cornwall in South West England from June 11-13.

Interpol Launches "I-Familia" to Identify Missing Persons

  • The Interpol has launched a new global database named 'I-Familia' to identify missing persons through family DNA and help the police solve cold cases in member countries.
  • Describing it as a groundbreaking database, the Interpol in a statement said that it applied cutting-edge scientific research and used the DNA of relatives to identify missing persons or unidentified human remains around the world.
  • DNA kinship matching is used mostly in cases where a direct sample of the missing person is not available. 'I-Familia' is the first global database to automatically control for such differences without requiring knowledge of the missing person's genetic ancestry and provide standardised guidelines on what constitutes a match. 

El Salvador Plans to Make Cryptocurrency Legal Tender

  • El Salvador's President plans to make the Bitcoin cryptocurrency legal tender in the country.
  • If his plan is backed by Congress, the Central American country would be first in the world to formally adopt the digital currency.
  • It would be used alongside the US dollar, El Salvador's official currency.
  • As per President Nayib Bukele, Bitcoin will make it easier for Salvadorans living abroad to send payments home.
  • "In the short term, this will generate jobs and help provide financial inclusion to thousands outside the formal economy," Mr. Bukele told a Bitcoin conference in Florida, adding that it could also boost investment to the country.

Jun 06, 2021

FATF Retains Pakistan on Enhanced Follow-up List

  • The Asia Pacific Group on Laundering has retained Pakistan on "enhanced follow-up" status for outstanding requirements, and Islamabad will continue to report back to it on the country's progress to strengthen its implementation of anti-money laundering and combating financing terror measures.
  • Pakistan was put on the grey list by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June 2018 and the country has been struggling to come out of it. The APG is a regional affiliate of the FATF. The second Follow-Up Report (FUR) on Mutual Evaluation of Pakistan released by the APG also downgraded the country on one criterion. The report said Pakistan was re-rated to 'compliant' status on five counts and on 15 others to 'largely compliant' and on yet another count to 'partially compliant'.

Denmark Parliament Approves Giant Artificial Island off Copenhagen

  • Plans for an artificial island to house 35,000 people and protect the port of Copenhagen from rising sea levels have been approved by Danish MPs.
  • The giant island, named Lynetteholm, would be connected to the mainland via a ring road, tunnels and a metro line.
  • The approval by Denmark's parliament paves the way for the 1 sq mile (2.6 sq km) project to begin later this year.
  • But it faces opposition from environmentalists who have concerns over the impact of its construction.
  • Plans for Lynetteholm include a dam system around its perimeter, with the aim of protecting the harbour from rising sea levels and storm surges.
  • If construction goes ahead as planned, the majority of the foundations for the island off Denmark's capital should be in place by 2035, with an aim to fully complete the project by 2070.

Norway Reaches Post-Brexit Trade Deal with UK

  • Non-European Union member Norway reached a post-Brexit trade deal with its greatest trading partner, Britain, which left the EU last year following a 2016 referendum.
  • The agreement includes Iceland and Liechtenstein, which also are outside the bloc and together with the Norwegians form the European Economic Area (EEA).
  • Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the deal "ambitious and comprehensive".
  • Negotiations have been going on since 2020.

Jun 05, 2021

G7 Finance Ministers Meet in London to Broker Global Tax Deal

  • Finance Ministers from the G7 group of rich nations met in London for two days of talks aimed at moving closer to a global deal to raise more tax from the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon.
  • The gathering, chaired by British finance minister Rishi Sunak, is the first time the ministers have met face-to-face since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Rich nations have struggled for years to agree a way to raise more tax from large multinational companies, which often book profits in jurisdictions where they pay little or no tax.

African Union Suspends Mali after Military Coup

  • The African Union suspended Mali's membership in response to last week's military coup and threatened sanctions, if a civilian-led government is not restored.
  • African Union's Peace and Security Council said that the organisation called for an unimpeded, transparent and swift return to the civilian-led transition, failing which, the Council will not hesitate to impose targeted sanctions. Mali's neighbours and international powers fear the latest revolt will jeopardise a commitment to hold a Presidential election in February. It may also undermine a regional fight against Islamist militants, some of which are based in Mali's desert north.

Putin Signs Law to Bar 'Extremists' from Elections

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation that bars members of "extremist" organisations from running for office, a move allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny say aims to sideline them from parliamentary election this year.
  • This comes days before a court will consider outlawing Navalny's anti-corruption foundation and regional campaign groups on the grounds they are extremist. The law bars members or heads of groups declared extremist from running for seats in the State Duma or taking part in other elections for periods ranging from three to five years.

Jun 04, 2021

Russia Cuts US Dollar Holdings in $119-billion Wealth Fund to Zero

  • Russia said that it will eliminate the dollar from its oil fund to reduce vulnerability to Western sanctions just two weeks before President Vladimir Putin holds his first summit meeting with US leader Joe Biden.
  • The National Wellbeing Fund will shift its dollar holdings into euros, yuan and gold.
  • Coming ahead of the June 16 Biden-Putin meeting, the move marks another milestone in the Russian leader's drive to reduce his country's dependence on the dollar after years of steadily increasing U.S. restrictions.

Iran Dampens Hopes for Early Agreement in Dispute over Nuke Deal

  • Iran has dampened hopes of an early agreement in its dispute with the US over the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • We have come closer, but we are still far from an agreement," said Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi.
  • Araghchi said that the US and other parties would have to make some difficult decisions.
  • Iran's final decision would also definitely not be made in Vienna, but in Tehran, the Deputy Minister and head of Iran's delegation in Vienna said.
  • A new problem in the Vienna negotiations is the imminent change of political power in Iran.

Jun 03, 2021

Herzog Israel's 11th President

  • Veteran Israeli politician Isaac Herzog will be the Jewish nation's new President after his overwhelming victory in a secret ballot held in Parliament.
  • The 60-year-old former Labour leader will be the first Israeli President who is the son of a former President. His father Chaim Herzog served as Israel's head of state between 1983 and 1993.
  • Herzog won the support of an overwhelming 87 lawmakers in the 120-member Knesset (parliament) to defeat his rival Miriam Peretz and become the 11th President of Israel. Herzog will succeed Reuven Rivlin when the latter's term ends on July 9.

Palestine Flays India's Abstention at UNHRC

  • Palestine expressed disappointment over India's abstention from a UN Human Rights Council vote that called for a probe into Gaza violence. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki wrote to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar expressing concern over the position taken by India at a special session of the UNHRC.
  • India's abstention did not eventually matter as the resolution was passed with 24 countries voting in favour and nine against. The Palestinians felt disappointed over the Indian stand as they felt the resolution was the product of extensive multilateral consultations.

US Ends Migrant Protection Protocols

  • United States has ended Migrant Protection Protocols which are also dubbed as "Remain in Mexico" policy.
  • This policy forced several Central American asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for US court cases.
  • Now, Joe Biden administration has paused this programme called known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) in January 2021.
  • Since January 2021, about 11,000 migrants have enrolled in it and have been allowed to enter US to seek asylum claims.
  • However, Republicans have criticised reversal of this policy, because it encouraged huge migrant arrivals at US-Mexico border.
  • The international border separating Mexico and United States extends from Pacific Ocean in west to Gulf of Mexico in east. It traverses different terrains, from urban areas to deserts. This border is considered as most frequently crossed border across the world with about 350 million documented crossings each year.

Dr. Patrick Amoth of Kenya Appointed as Chair of WHO Executive Board

  • Dr. Patrick Amoth, the acting Director-General for Health, Ministry of Health of Kenya has been appointed as the Chairman of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board, for a period of one year. The announcement was made during the 149th session of the WHO Executive Board, on June 02, 2021, by the outgoing Chair Dr Harsh Vardhan.
  • Mr. Amoth replaces Union Health Minister, Government of India, Dr Harsh Vardhan, who completed his tenure as Chairman of WHO Executive Board on June 02, 2021. Dr Vardhan will continue to be a member of the Executive Board of WHO till 2023. The chairman's post is held on a rotation basis for one year among regional groups.

China Leads Key Afghanistan Peace Talks

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will host a trilateral meeting with his counterparts from Pakistan and Afghanistan on Thursday to discuss the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, as Beijing stepped up its diplomacy with the two nations in the wake of the US troops withdrawal from the war-torn country.
  • Wang will chair the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral foreign ministers meeting, the fourth such talks, via video link in which his counterparts from Pakistan and Afghanistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Mohammad Haneef Atmar, would take part.
  • Last month, China offered to host peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban militants to forge peace in view of the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by September.
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