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World in Focus (Feb – Mar 2018)

 World in Focus ( Nov - Dec 2017 )

NATIONAL

Feb 16: Actor Matloobur Rehman, aka Munna Lahori, who played the beloved genie Zakoota in the famous children’s television show Ainak Wala Jinn, passed away.

Feb 17: An Anti-terrorism court handed down death sentence on four counts to Imran Ali Naqshbandi on the charges of kidnapping, raping and brutal murdering seven-year-old Zainab Amin of Kasur after completing the trial in a record seven-day time.

Feb 17: The PCB Chairman Najam Sethi appointed the world’s fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar as his advisor on cricket and brand ambassador of the PCB.

Feb 18: Nadir Magsi won the 13th Cholistan Desert Rally in the prepared category for the second time consecutively. He completed the track in 4 hours 32 minutes and 9 seconds. Sahibzada Sultan, who completed the track in 4 hours 37 minutes and 36 seconds, won the second position while Jaffar Magsi with a time of 4 hours 39 minutes and 21 seconds claimed the third position.

In stock category Tushna Patel clinched the first position followed by Asma on the second and Momal Khan third.

Feb 20: Unicef launched its report titled “Every Child Alive: the urgent need to end newborn deaths”. It revealed that Pakistan was the riskiest place in the world to be born in as measured by its newborn mortality rate. For every 1,000 babies born in Pakistan in 2016, 46 died before the end of their first month, a staggering 1 in 22.

Feb 20: The Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme passed through the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, enabling Pakistani exporters to enjoy preferential duties for the next two years.

Feb 21: The Supreme Court declared the controversial amendment to the Elections Act, 2017 which allowed Nawaz Sharif to retake the party leadership after being disqualified as well as all steps, decisions and orders passed by him since his disqualification in July 2017, null and void.

Pakistan’s Never-ending Circular Debt

For the first time in the history of the country, circular debt in the power sector has crossed a staggering figure of Rs977 billion. The current payables stand at Rs542.9 billion and the loans borrowed by the power sector parked in PHPL (Power Holding Private Limited) at Rs434 billion, making the sector extremely unsustainable.

In the wake of highest circular debt, the liquidity issue in the Power Sector has emerged as threat to the sustainable Power Sector despite the substantial improvement in electricity supply side.

Asian Development Bank’s recently published report titled, “Sector Assistance Programme Evaluation (SAPE) for the Pakistan Power Sector” highlights that there has been limited action in addressing the underlying causes of the circular debt, which has kept investments at less than desired levels until 2017.

One underlying factor for the rise in circular debt is a lack of focus on the transmission and distribution aspect of power supply amid the country’s increased focus on adding capacities. The losses in the transmission and distribution system have remained there for a long time.

World in Focus (Feb - Mar 2018)Other causes for the circular debt menace as highlighted by the ADB in its earlier supplementary documents still remain unaddressed at large. These include weak governance, delayed release of Tariff Differential Subsidy by the Finance Ministry, issues in revenue collection by the distribution companies that still remain in some areas, delays in tariff determination by Nepra and liquidity issues due to the fuel-price methodology.

Where the last formula of ad hoc payment to the sector didn’t pan out right, the government has reportedly worked out a new circular debt settlement plan where initially around Rs 80 billion will be cleared by raising funds from commercial banks. Beware, the debt servicing cost is planned to be recovered from the electricity customers.

How far the plan succeeds is what would be interesting especially with the elections around the corner. The ADB has also set the alarm bells ringing with its evaluation of the CPEC energy projects in the wake of increasing circular debt levels.

Feb 21: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested former head of the Lahore Development Authority Ahad Khan Cheema for his alleged involvement in Lahore’s Ashiyana-i-Iqbal Housing Society scam.

Feb 21: In pursuance of a Supreme Court order, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh governments banned the trade related to Chinese salt commonly known as Ajinomoto due to its hazardous effects on human health.

Did You Know?

1. Ajinomoto, also known as Chinese salt, is an artificial substance that is used to enhance the taste of food.
2. Ajinomoto is a Japanese word which means “Essence of Taste”.
3. A scientific panel of the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) found it hazardous for health. The PFA says it contains Monosodium glutamate (MSG) which can cause headaches, fatigue, palpitations, nausea and vomiting, sweating, flushing and numbness of the face, more so among people who are sensitive to it.
4. It can also cause hypertension and is extremely hazardous for pregnant women.

Feb 21: Former world champion Mohammad Asif won the Jubilee Insurance 43rd National Snooker Championship, his third National Snooker title.

Feb 23: The long-awaited mega gas pipeline project of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) connecting the energy-rich Central Asian nation with the South Asian countries was inaugurated, with leaders of the four countries attending its groundbreaking ceremony in Serhetabat, followed by another in Herat.

Project Highlights

Gas Volume: 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcfd)
Gas Supplier: Turkmenistan
Gas Buyers: Afghanistan (500 MMcfd), Pakistan (1,325 MMcfd) and India 1,325 MMcfd)
Supply Source: Gylkynish and adjacent gas fields
Pipeline Dia: 56-inch            First Gas Flow: 2020
Proposed Route: Supply Source – Herat – Kandahar – Chaman – Zhob – DG Khan – Multan – Fazilika (Pak-India Border)

Pakistan’s First-ever Film and Cultural Policy

Feb 26: Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb announced the first-ever film and cultural policy of Pakistan, at the conclusion of a three-day National Artistes Convention and CPEC Cultural Caravan at the PNCA.

Analysis

Pakistan should have had some kind of policy to develop heritage, culture and the arts within the country a long time ago. Nonetheless, the policy is important for several reasons. In the first place, it attempts to promote filmmaking by declaring it an industry, offering financial funding to build studios and abolishing duty on the import of film equipment and other important relaxations in fees and duties. There is also some attempt to protect artistes by bringing them into a health scheme and thereby ensuring for them some degree of security in life. The other critical aspect of the policy is the focus on promoting both visual and performing arts including theatre and also educating young people about their cultural heritage and priorities. This effort to inculcate a sense of importance for heritage and culture should have begun a very long time ago. Various schemes in India and Bangladesh have worked extraordinary well in teaching younger people about the classical arts. Given our current environment, the arts can also offer some protection against terrorism and the horrors it brings. In normal, healthy societies, people turn to film, theatre, music, dance and other forms of cultural expression to put forward their ideas and thoughts. There is also every reason to believe that the Pakistan film industry can thrive again as was the case during the 1960s and 1970s when around 150 films were produced annually. These greatly contributed to the economy, to employment and to providing entertainment designed at home. Such efforts need to be revived. Pakistan certainly has a huge amount of talent and ability. The arts can indeed contribute to bringing income into the country while also projecting for it a better image overseas.

Feb 25: A World Health Organisation report revealed that a total of 6,494 measles cases were reported in 2017, which is more than double those reported in 2016. Over 65pc of the total measles cases reported in the eastern Mediterranean region, consisting of 22 countries, were from Pakistan.

Feb 26: Renowned mountaineer Samina Baig was appointed the ‘National Goodwill Ambassador’ for Pakistan by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

About Samina Baig

1. Hailing from Gilgit-Baltistan, Ms Samina Baig is the first Pakistani woman to have climbed Mount Everest.
2. She performed this feat at the age of 22.
3. By the time she turned 23, she had climbed the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents.
4. She was been awarded with Pride of Performance.
5. She, currently, presides over the Pakistan Youth Outreach Foundation to encourage youth, especially women, to participate in outdoor activities.
6. Ms Baig will lead efforts to build national awareness and partnerships around the Sustainable Development Goals , particularly those related to climate change, environmental protection, youth and women’s empowerment.

Russia embraces Pakistan

As US influence in Islamabad wanes, former adversary Moscow is building military, diplomatic and economic ties that could upend historic alliances in the region and open up a fast-growing gas market for Russia’s energy companies.

Russia’s embrace of Pakistan comes at a time when relations between the United States and its historical ally are unravelling over the war in Afghanistan, a remarkable turnaround from the 1980s.

Though the Moscow-Islamabad rapprochement is in its infancy, and it is China that is filling the growing void left by the United States in Pakistan, a slew of energy deals and growing military cooperation promise to spark life into the Russia-Pakistan relationship that was dead for many decades.

The cosier diplomatic ties have so far focused on Afghanistan, where Russia has cultivated ties to the Afghan Taliban militants who are fighting US troops and have historic links to Islamabad. Moscow says it is encouraging peace negotiations.

Both Russia and Pakistan are also alarmed by the presence of militant Islamic State (IS) inside Afghanistan, with Moscow concerned the group’s fighters could spread towards Central Asia and closer to home.

In Pakistan, IS has already carried out major attacks.

During a trip to Moscow in February by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, the two countries announced plans to establish a commission on military cooperation to combat the threat of IS in the region.

Pakistan and Russia also agreed to continue annual military training exercises that began in 2016 and followed the sale of 4 Russian attack helicopters to Pakistan, as well as the purchase of Russian engines for the Pakistan Air Force’s JF-17 fighter jets that Pakistan assembles.

The detente has been watched with suspicion by India, which broadly stood in the Soviet camp during the Cold War era. In the last two decades, the close Russia-India relationship has been underpinned by huge arms sales by Moscow to a country it calls a “strategic partner”.

Feb 27: Former legislator Kashmala Tariq was sworn in as the Federal Ombudsperson on “Protection Against Harassment of women at workplace.”

Feb 27: The Central Working Committee of the PML-N elected Shahbaz Sharif its interim president and Mian Nawaz Sharif its Quaid (supreme leader) for life.

Mar 01: With a total military strength of 919,000 personnel, total aircraft might of 951 and a defence budget of $7 billion, the Pakistani armed forces ranked 13th amongst the 25 most powerful world militaries.

Top 15 STRONGEST MILITARIES

World in Focus (Feb - Mar 2018)Mar 01: Renowned filmmaker and noted businessman Mahmud Sipra passed away. He was 75.

Mar 01: Syed Jafar Raza Naqvi, a Pakistani student from Lahore, won a gold medal in the 7th International Math Challenge that was held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Mar 02: Baloch Culture Day was observed in all parts of Pakistan by different organisations and political parties.

Mar 02: The 12th meeting of Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability was held in Islamabad.

Things to Note

1. Ties between Moscow and Islamabad have been improving for years now and the two have taken great strides since 2007, when the ties were renewed after a long estrangement during the Cold War.
2. Pakistan and Russia in 2014 signed a defence cooperation accord and in 2015 they inked a technical cooperation accord providing for arms supplies and cooperation in weapon development.
3. Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability is a platform for structured dialogue between the two sides and has been meeting since 2003.

Mar 03: Elections to 52 Senate seats from all the four provinces, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the federal capital were held.

Mar 03: The World Wildlife Day was celebrated in Pakistan.

World in Focus (Feb - Mar 2018)Mar 03: Selena Khawaja, a nine-year-old Pakistani girl, became the youngest person to scale the 5,765-metre high Quz Sar Peak in Shimshal Valley, Hunza.

Mar 03: Pakistan’s Ahmed Baig, a national amateur 19-years-old golfer, became the first Pakistani golfer to emerge as the best one in the under-21 category in the Nick Faldo Series Asia contest at the Laguna Lang Co Golf Course in Vietnam.

Mar 05: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and his Nepalese counterpart Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli met and agreed to enhance cooperation in areas of economy, defence and culture.

Mar 06: CM Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah expanded his cabinet by inducting PPP MPA from Karachi Saeed Ghani as a minister.

He was given the portfolio of planning and development, which fell vacant with the death of Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani.

Mar 07: National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt. Gen. Omar Mahmood Hayat assumed additional charge of the office of the chairman of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).

Mar 07: As the six-month deadline set by the Supreme Court for the trial of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members in corruption references expired, the apex court granted two more months to the accountability court of Islamabad to decide the three cases.

Mar 07: The Senate of Pakistan passed a bill aimed at protecting the rights of transgender persons, by prohibiting discrimination against them and prescribing imprisonment of up to six months for those employing members of the marginalised community as beggars or compelling them to beg.

Mar 07: The Sindh Sports Minister Sardar Mohammad Bux Khan Mahar was formally elected the president of the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA) for the remaining term that expires in January 2020.

Mahar became the youngest-ever person to head the SOA in its 70-year history and the second to hold dual positions of Sindh Sports Minister as well as SOA president. Earlier, Dr Mohammad Ali Shah held dual positions.

Mar 08: A new annual scholarship honouring the legacy of famed rights activist Asma Jehangir was announced by the British High Commission.

This scholarship will be awarded to the best female Chevening candidate each year.

Mar 08: The government named Prime Minister’s aide and business partner Ali Jahangir Siddiqui as the next ambassador to the United States.

Mar 08: The KP police arrested one of the main suspects identified as Arif Mardanvi who was nominated in Mashal Khan lynching case.

Jam Saqi
The patriotic citizen of the state

Mar 05: Veteran politician and PPP leader Muhammad Jam, popularly known as Jam Saqi, passed away at the age of 73.

Jam Saqi was born on October 31, 1946 in Janjhi village in Chachro taluka of Tharparkar.

His father was a primary schoolteacher and a social worker.

He completed his primary education in 1953 from the school of his native village and matriculation in 1963 from the local Board High School, Chachro.

He completed the second year and B.A. from Sachal Sarmast Arts College, Hyderabad, in 1964 and 1967 respectively and later did M.A. Politics from the University of Sindh, Jamshoro.

He started his political career from the students union in 1961 and was elected as General Secretary of the Hyderabad Students Federation.

Later, he laid the foundation of Sindh National Students Federation and was elected as the founder President.

He started his political career in 1972 from the National Awami Party, did politics from the platform of Communist Party of Pakistan.

Also dubbed as the ‘chain holder’, he was arrested in 1978 during the Zia regime and tried before a military court in the 80s.

He was jailed for about seven years until 1988.

During Saqi’s trial, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto herself appeared as a witness and said that ‘Saqi is patriotic citizen of the state’.

He joined the Pakistan People’s Party in 1994 and remained a member of PPP Sindh Council till his death.

He has also been a council member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and served as special assistant to the former chief minister of Sindh, Syed Abdullah Shah, on bonded labour.

Saqi authored seven books and launched newspapers and magazines, including the Daily Halchal.

Mar 09: Amid a noisy protest and walkout by all opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, based on its numeric strength, managed to get passed a controversial bill empowering the Chief Minister to control the public sector universities in the province in place of the Sindh Governor.

Mar 11: Muhammad Ashiq, former Olympian who later had to drive a rickshaw, breathed his last.

World in Focus (Feb - Mar 2018)Mar 12: In a historic election, Sadiq Sanjrani, an independent senator from Balochistan, was elected the first-ever Senate chairman from Balochistan. He secured 57 votes, defeating the PML-N-backed candidate Raja Zafarul Haq who got 46.

PPP’s Saleem Mandviwalla won the post of Deputy Chairman by receiving 54 votes beating his opponent Usman Kakar of PkMAP, who secured only 44 votes.

Mar 12: Iran’s Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif invited Pakistan to participate in Chahbahar port project and development of its link with Gwadar Port, during his visit to Pakistan.

Mar 12: Pakistan’s Air Chief Sohail Aman was awarded the United States Legion of Merit, the highest military award of the US armed forces awarded to any foreign military official.

Mar 13: The PML-N elected Shahbaz Sharif as the party’s permanent president.

Mar 13: Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi was conferred with “King Abdulaziz Medal of Excellence” by Chief of General Staff Royal Saudi Armed Forces at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Mar 13: The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) lifted ban on Pakistan with immediate effect, reinstating all the membership rights of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

Mar 14: Pakistan was elected as member of the governing boards of Organization of the Islamic conference (OIC) Subsidiary Organs during the 41st session of the Islamic commission for Economic, Cultural and social Affairs (ICECS) held in Jeddah from March 13-15, 2018.

The OIC subsidiary organs include: Islamic Centre for the Development of Trade (ICDT), Headquarters in Casablanca, Islamic University of Technology (IUT), Headquarters in Dhaka, and Research centre for Islamic History, Art and culture (IRCICA), Headquarters in Istanbul.

Mar 14: Pakistan’s Shaheen Ice Hockey Team won the Lion City Cup 2018 – an international ice hockey tournament – that was held at The Rink in Singapore

Mar 14: Senior journalist Zamir Sheikh passed away.

Mar 14: The Punjab Assembly passed nine bills including a private one that allowed, for the first time anywhere in the world, regularisation of the Sikh community marriages.

Mar 15: The Balochistan Assembly issued a notification appointing Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal as the new opposition leader.

Mar 15: The Foreign Office called Pakistan’s high commissioner to India back ‘for consultations’ over continued harassment of Pakistani diplomats and their families based in India.

Mar 15: Senior lawyer Rauf Ata was appointed Advocate General for Balochistan.

INTERNATIONAL

Feb 16: Thailand conferred Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing, with a royal decoration “Knight Grand Cross First Class of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant”.

Feb 16: A 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 people at his former high school in Florida.

Feb 16: Australians produced the highest successful run chase in Twenty20 international cricket when they achieved the target of 245 runs set by New Zealand with seven deliveries remaining.

Feb 17: Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer became the oldest world number one in tennis rankings.

Feb 17: India and Iran signed agreements including Tehran leasing to New Delhi operational control of part of the Iranian east coast port of Chabahar for 18 months.

About Chabahar Port

The $85 million project, just 90 km from the China-sponsored Gwadar port in Pakistan, creates a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. India is trying to develop Chabahar as a way to gain access to the markets of central Asia as well as Afghanistan. But progress is slow because of concern that President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington may eventually scrap the Iran nuclear deal.

World in Focus (Feb - Mar 2018)Feb 18: Roger Federer won the ABN AMRO World Tournament, his 97th career title.

Feb 18: The Saudi government allowed women to open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative.

Feb 18: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached India on a week-long visit.

Feb 20: Bangladesh agreed to sell a large stake in its Dhaka Stock Exchange to a Chinese consortium, rebuffing a rival bid from India that raised political sensitivities.

Feb 20: In a rare address to the UN Security Council, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas called for an international conference to be held by mid-2018 to pave the way for recognition of Palestinian statehood as part of a wider Middle East peace process.

Feb 21: A report produced by the security firm McAfee with the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggested that cybercime costs $600bn to the businesses annually, equating to 0.8% of global GDP. This was up from the $445bn in global losses that were recorded in 2014.

Highlights of the report

1. Two-thirds of the world’s netizens having had their personal information stolen or compromised
2. The theft of intellectual property represents about one-fourth of the cost of cybercrime in 2017.
3. Russia, North Korea and Iran are the main sources of hackers targeting financial institutions.
4. China is the most active in cyber espionage.
5. Ransomware is the fastest-growing component of cybercrime, helped by the easy availability of marketplaces offering hacking services.
6. Globally, criminals are using the same tools for data or identity theft, bank hacks, and other cyber mischief, with anonymity preserved by using bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.

Feb 21: US evangelist Billy Graham, who counselled presidents and preached to millions across the world from his native Nohh Carolina to communist North Korea during his 70 years in the pulpit, died at the age of 99.

Feb 21: The 15-year-old Russian skater Alina Zagitova set the world record for short skate in women’s Olympic singles during the Winter Olympics 2018.

Feb 22: Elon Musk’s Space-X sent a Spanish military satellite the Paz imaging satellite, and 2 of the company’s own test internet communications satellites on a smaller Falcon 9 rocket into orbit from California.

Feb 22: The Dutch parliament passed a motion recognising as genocide the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.

Feb 23: Satellite imagery shows Myanmar authorities have bulldozed at least 55 Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine in recent months, Human Rights Watch said.

Feb 24: Bollywood icon Sridevi, loved by millions for her roles in movies like “Mr India”, “Chandni” and “Himmatwala”, died in Dubai at the age of 54.

Feb 24: President Trump rolled out fresh sanctions against North Korea-linked shipping assets.

Feb 24: Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery of an ancient necropolis near the Nile Valley city of Minya, south of Cairo.

Feb 24: The Saudi capital Riyadh hosted its first international half-marathon with a top prize of one million riyals ($267,000).

Ethiopian runner Tamira Mola finished first.

Feb 25: India finished their tour of South Africa in triumph after winning the 3rd T20 International.

Feb 26: The US Supreme Court ordered Trump administration to maintain protections it has sought to end for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought illegally into the United States as children, commonly known as ‘Dreamers’.

Feb 27: Saudi Arabia replaced the military chief of staff, air defence and land forces heads and senior defence and interior ministry officials.

Feb 27: A Turkish court jailed a paedophile a record 572 years for abusing 18 children.

Feb 27: Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir removed Emad al-Din Adawi as the head of the Sudanese army and replaced him with Kamal Abdalmarouf.

Feb 27: Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) approved $1.5 billion in loans to India for infrastructure-related projects in 2018.

Feb 27: Russia vetoed a UN resolution that took aim at Iran over a report by UN experts that said the country violated an arms embargo by failing to prevent missiles and drones from being supplied to Shia rebels in Yemen.

Feb 27: The Taliban called for direct talks with the US to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Feb 28: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) lifted a doping ban against Russia, restoring the country’s rights in full. Russia was banned in December 2017 from taking part in the 2018 Olympics.

Mar 01: White House communications director Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s most trusted and longest-serving aides, resigned.

Mar 01: Russian president Vladimir Putin unveiled an array of new nuclear weapons.

Mar 02: The island nation of Samoa declared its waters a shark sanctuary, joining a string of other Pacific countries in protecting the marine predators.

World in Focus (Feb - Mar 2018)

Mar 02: Armed men attacked the French embassy in Burkina Faso and the country’s military headquarters, killing at least 33 people.

Mar 02: A thriving ‘hotspot’ of 1.5 million Adelie penguins, a species fast declining in the world, was discovered on remote islands off the Antarctic Peninsula.

The first bird census of the Danger Islands unearthed over 750,000 Adelle breeding pairs, more than the rest of the area combined.

Mar 03: The Emoji Movie, starring James Corden and Anna Faris, won the coveted title of ‘Worst Picture’ of 2017 at the 38th Golden Raspberry Awards, or ‘Razzies’.

Aside from ‘Worst Picture’, The Emoji Movie won three other awards including ‘Worst Director’, ‘Worst Screenplay’ and ‘Worst Screen Combo’ for “any two obnoxious emojis” that appeared onscreen together.

Tom Cruise was awarded ‘Worst Actor’ for his lead role in The Mummy, while Tyler Perry won ‘Worst Actress’ for playing Madea in Boo 2! A Madea Halloween.

Did you know?

1. The Golden Raspberry Awards (or the Razzies) is a mock award in recognition of the worst in film.
2. The awards themselves are in the form of a “golf ball-sized raspberry” atop a Super 8 mm film reel, all spray painted gold.
3. The first Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony was held on March 31, 1981.
4. The ceremony satirises the Academy Awards, which takes place the following night. Instead of honouring the best films and performances of the year, the Razzies includes categories such as ‘Worst Actor/Actress’ and ‘Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel’.
5. Razzie-nominated films are voted on by members of the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation, a group anyone can join by paying US$40.
6. The Razzies were co-founded by graduates of the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1981.

Mar 03: The International Football Association Board approved video assistant referee (VAR) technology for this summer’s World Cup that is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018.

Mar 04: Saudi Arabia hosted its first marathon for women.

Mar 04: Italy went to the polls to choose over 900 members of its two houses of parliament. Former prime ministers, Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Renzi, were the big losers as voters opted for anti-establishment parties.

Mar 05: Saudi Arabia and Egypt set up a $10 billion joint fund to develop a mega city, NEOM, during the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince.

Mar 05: The Shape of Water won top honours at the Oscars including the coveted best picture statuette.

Mar 05: Iran’s National Museum in Tehran hosted the exhibition of more than 50 artworks from the Louvre, the first major show by a Western museum in the country’s history.

About the Louvre

1. The Louvre (or the Louvre Museum) is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France.
2. It is so big that it is impossible to see the entire museum in one visit. It will take you 100 days to see every piece of art if you spent 30 seconds, all day every day.
3. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the 12th to 13th century under Philip II.
4. It opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings.
5. Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres (782,910 square feet).
6. In 2017, the Louvre was the world’s most visited art museum, receiving 8.1 million visitors.

Mar 05: Trevor Baylis, a tinkerer who turned to old-school technology in an effort to disseminate accurate information about AIDS through Africa, inventing a portable radio powered by hand cranking, died at 80.

Mar 06: Nobel prize-winning British scientist John Sulston, a leading figure in the race to decipher the human genome, died at the age of 75.

Mar 06: Sri Lanka declared a nationwide state of emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots.

Mar 06: Amazon chief Jeff Bezos emerged as the world’s richest person, having snatched the top spot from Microsoft founder Bill Gates who slips to second place, according to Forbes magazine’s annual billionaires list.

Mar 07: Indian Architect Balkrishna Doshi was awarded the 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the first Indian to win architecture’s highest honour in its 40-year history.

Mar 08: Eleven countries, including Japan and Canada, signed a landmark Asia-Pacific trade agreement without the United States.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP) will reduce tariffs in countries that together amount to more than 13 percent of the global economy a total of $10 trillion in gross domestic product.

Mar 09: India’s Supreme Court issued a landmark verdict that permits the removal of life-support systems for the terminally ill or those in incurable comas.

Mar 09: Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump plan to meet in May for nuclear disarmament talks, as President Trump accepted the invitation in this respect.

Mar 11: China removed presidential term limits from its constitution, giving President Xi Jinping the right to remain in office indefinitely, and confirming his status as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong died more than 40 years ago.

With this, Chinese president Xi Jinping has joined the pantheon of Chinese leadership two decades after bursting onto the scene as a graft-fighting governor who went on to earn comparisons with Mao Zedong in his quest for unrestricted power.

The move allows the 64-year-old Xi to remain in power for as long as he wishes, ruling as a virtual emperor, and is the latest feather in the cap of a Communist “princeling” who is re-making China in his own image.

Mar 11: Russia launched a hypersonic missile Kinzhal (Dagger) which President Putin called ‘an ideal weapon’.

Mar 12: Bangladesh’s High Court granted bail for four months to opposition leader and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who was jailed for five years on a corruption conviction and is awaiting an appeal.

Mar 12: French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, an aristocrat who founded the house of Givenchy in the 1950s, died at the age of 91.

Mar 12: Australia’s Kookaburras won the 2018 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, in Ipoh, Malaysia, thanks to youngster Lachlan Sharp, who netted a last quarter goal to secure a 2-1 win over England.

Mar 13: Bidya Bhandari was elected as Nepal’s president for a second term. She is the Himalayan nation’s first female head of state.

Mar 13: US President Trump ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

Mar 13: Gina Haspel, currently CIA’s deputy director, was named by President Trump as the new CIA director.

President Trump’s choice to be the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency is a career spymaster who once ran an agency prison in Thailand where terror suspects were subjected to a harsh interrogation technique that the president has supported.

Haspel helped carry out an order that the agency destroy its waterboarding videos.

Haspel, who has extensive overseas experience, briefly ran a secret CIA prison where accused terrorists Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002.

Mar 14: Stephen Hawking, whose brilliant mind ranged across time and space though his body was paralysed by disease, died. He was 76.

Mar 14: Britain announced to kick out 23 Russian diplomats, the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War.

Mar 14: Angela Merkel was sworn in for her fourth term as German chancellor, putting an end to nearly six months of political drift in Europe’s biggest economy.

Mar 14: Nepal’s divisive Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli was sacked for faking his date of birth in order to remain in office longer.

Mar 14: Finland emerged as the world’s happiest country while troubled Burundi was declared the most discontent, by a new UN report.

Pakistan was ranked 75th on the index.

Mar 15: Slovenia’s Prime Minister Miro Cerar resigned as multiple crises piled up on his centre-left government.

Mar 15: Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the “Panama Papers” scandal that brought down two world leaders announced to shut down operations.

Mar 15: The US slapped sanctions on 19 Russian individuals and five groups, including Moscow’s intelligence services, for meddling in the 2016 US election and malicious cyber attacks.

World in Focus (Feb - Mar 2018)



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