Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Low birth rates problematic for ageing EU population: Expert

The average age of the European population has gone up by 2.5 years in the past decade, according to Eurostat data published recently. In Spain, the average age has climbed by 4.3 years, the highest rise in the EU behind Portugal (4.7 years). However, a Spanish expert told that although half of Europeans are now over 44.4 years old, the main concern is the lack of children being born.

IMF emphasises importance of anti-corruption, governance reforms for SL bailout

After Sri Lanka secured the $2.9 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, the global lender emphasised on the importance of anti-corruption and governance reforms to obtain the package amid the ongoing economic crisis in the island nation. On Monday night, the IMF approved the 48-month extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of $2.9 billion.

Pak ruling coalition hints at banning PTI

Pakistan's ruling coalition has hinted at banning Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as the government claims that the party has become a terrorist outfit after its involvement in attacking state institutions, including the army, judiciary, and law-enforcement agencies.

B'desh commissions first naval submarine base

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has commissioned the first naval submarine base, calling it a proud moment for the country. On Monday, the premier virually unveiled the nameplate of the "BNS Sheikh Hasina" from her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka. She said that the previous BNP government did not take any measures to protect Bangladesh, only the Awami League did after 21 years of Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu's assassination.

Int'l donors pledge $7.5bn for quake-hit Turkey, Syria

A total of 7 billion euros ($7.5 billion) were pledged by the international community for Turkey and Syria where devastating earthquakes earlier this month killed more than 57,300 people. The "Together for the people of Turkey and Syria" conference was hosted by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Prime Minister of Sweden Ulf Kristersson on Monday.

UN envoy confirms Yemen's warring sides agree to release 887 detainees

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg confirmed that the country's warring sides have agreed to release 887 conflict-related detainees as they concluded a 10-day negotiation in Switzerland. In a joint statement with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Grundberg said on Monday that the Yemeni parties also agreed to meet again in May to discuss future releases and to conduct joint visits to each other's detention facilities.

Israeli shekel devalues by 8.3% in less than 2 months

The Israeli shekel has continued its downward trend, shedding 8.3 per cent of its value against the US dollar in less than two months. Exchanges rates published by the Central Bank of Israel on Monday traded the US dollar at 3.677 shekels, registering one of the lowest exchange rates against the greenback during the past three years. On January 25, 2023, the exchange rate was set at 3.37 shekels per dollar.

Jordan facilitates visas for visitors

Jordan's Ministry of Interior launched the Electronic Visa Project that aims to facilitate the entry procedures for travellers into the kingdom. The project would enable travellers to obtain their visas and pay their fees electronically before their arrival, without having to visit border centres and diplomatic missions abroad, said Interior Minister Mazen Faraya in a statement.

S.Korea informs Japan of decision to fully restore bilateral military info-sharing deal

South Korea on Tuesday informed Japan of its decision to fully restore a military intelligence-sharing deal, as part of efforts to thaw long-frozen bilateral ties, the Foreign Ministry said. South Korea sent an official letter to Japan earlier in the day via diplomatic channels informing of its decision to rescind its suspension of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).

Major N.Korean websites offline

Websites of some major North Korean organs, including the country's state media outlets and the Foreign Ministry, were offline for an unknown reason on Tuesday. As of 9 a.m., there were failures in connecting to North Korean domain names ending in ".kp," such as the official Korean Central News Agency and the main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun.

UN peacekeepers calls for restraint to avoid escalation on Lebanon-Israel borders

Aroldo Lazaro Saenz, chief of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), reiterated calls for Lebanon and Israel to refrain from any action that could lead to an escalation. "I continue to urge all parties to refrain from any action that could lead to misunderstanding, reaction, and cause a break in the cessation of hostilities," he said in a statement on Monday.

Thai House of Representatives dissolved ahead of general election

Thailand's House of Representatives has been dissolved, paving the way for a general election within two months, according to a royal decree. It is expedient to dissolve the House of Representatives to hold a new general election of members of the House of Representatives, wrote the royal decree, which has been royally endorsed.

Northern Ireland's DUP to vote against new post-Brexit deal

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said it would vote against a key part of the UK government's new post-Brexit trade deal in Parliament this week. Whilst representing real progress, the "Stormont Brake" does not deal with the fundamental issue which is the imposition of European Union (EU) law by the Northern Ireland Protocol, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said in a statement on Monday.

PTI leader, 9 others killed in attack on vehicle

A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and nine others were killed when the vehicle they were travelling came under attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Abbottabad district, according to authorities. Confirming the incident which took place on Monday, Abbottabad District Police Officer (DPO) Umar Tufail told Dawn news that a rival group had opened fire on the vehicle near Havelian's Langra village which caused the fuel tank to explode.

78 mn kids at risk in Nigeria from water-related threats: Unicef

A total of 78 million children are at the highest risk from a convergence of water-related threats in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, the Unicef has warned. Calling on the government to rapidly increase investments in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector, Jane Bevan, Unicef Nigeria's chief of WASH, said that there is an urgent need to reduce the preventable diseases among vulnerable children.

German economy to contract further in Q1

Germany's economy is likely to contract further in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023 due to persistent high inflation, the country's central bank said in its monthly report. "However, the decline is expected to be smaller than in the final quarter of 2022," said Deutsche Bundesbank. In the period from October to December last year, gross domestic product (GDP) of Europe's largest economy fell by 0.4 per cent. The inconsistent recovery of exports was one of the reasons for the decline.

UK rail union accepts improved pay offer

The UK's National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said that its 20,000 members had accepted an improved pay offer from Network Rail, putting an end to months of disruptive strikes. Turnout in the RMT ballot was nearly 90 per cent, with 76 per cent voting to accept the new offer covering pay, jobs and conditions. The vote means "the end of the trade dispute" with Network Rail, the RMT National Executive said. Network Rail owns and maintains the country's train infrastructure.

NYC girds for fallout from possible arrest of Trump

New York City has girded itself for the fallout from a possible arrest of former US President Donald Trump -- a historic event if it happens -- setting up barricades around the city and mobilising law enforcement, while Republicans prepared a counter-offensive. However, it appeared unlikely that Trump would be arrested on Tuesday as he said over the weekend and charged in connection with alleged payment to an adult film actress to keep her quiet about an affair and had called for protests.

Sri Lanka secures $2.9bn IMF bailout

As Sri Lanka is still undergoing its worst ever economic crisis since independence in 1948, the island nation has finally secured a $2.9 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which comes as a lifeline for the country that has billions of dollars in loans. The development was confirmed to the media by State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe late Monday night. Without providing any further details, Semasinghe said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe will make a special announcement on Tuesday.

Russia open for negotiation: Putin tells Xi on Ukraine peace plan

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Kremlin, has said his country is "always open for a negotiation process". Putin made the remarks on Monday in response to China's "plan settle ongoing Ukraine crisis". The plan aimed to "end the Russia-Ukraine war" was released by China in February. However, the US has warned it could be a "stalling tactic".

UN envoy says solution 'closest' to end political crisis in Sudan

The top UN envoy for Sudan has said that a solution to end political crisis in Sudan now is "closest" despite enormous challenges ahead. "Today, we are the closest we have been to a solution, although challenges remain," Volker Perthes, special representative of the UN secretary-general to Sudan, told a Security Council briefing.

Guterres asking G20 for pact to hold down global warming; UN experts warn of food crisis for India

As a panel of UN experts warned that India's food production could see a massive fall if global warming went unchecked, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that he was asking the G20 for a pact to keep warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade. "In India, rice production can decrease from 10 per cent to 30 per cent, whereas maize production can decrease from 25 per cent to 70 per cent assuming a range of temperature increase from 1 degree centigrade to 4 degrees centigrade," a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

More storm to hit weather-battered California

Another major storm system is set to batter California this week as scattered showers started in the southern part of the western US state. The powerful storm will likely bring heavier rain, very strong winds and snow to the area late Monday night through Wednesday. High surf and hazardous seas are also expected in the Tuesday to Wednesday time frame, according to NWS Los Angeles.

French govt survives no-confidence vote, pension reform bill adopted

Two no-confidence motions against the French government failed to convince a majority in the National Assembly after hot debates followed by narrow votes. It means the government's "unpopular" pension reform bill is considered as adopted without vote in the lower house of Parliament. French President Emmanuel Macron now has 15 days to enact the law.

Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 accounts for over 90% new Covid cases in US

The highly transmissible Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 now accounts for over 90 per cent of new Covid-19 cases reported in the US, according to the latest estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). XBB.1.5 was estimated to account for 90.2 per cent of all Covid-19 cases in the country in the latest week ending March 18. It was up from 88.8 per cent a week before and 86.3 per cent two weeks prior, CDC data showed. The prevalence of XBB.1.5 has kept increasing since late 2022.

Prachanda wins vote of confidence ahead of his India visit

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda on Monday secured a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives ahead of his India visit.  Prachanda received 172 votes in the 275-member parliament in the second floor test since being appointed the Prime Minister on December 25.

Moscow opens criminal case against ICC over Putin warrant

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor and judges, who issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, have become the targets of a criminal case, Russias Investigative Committee announced on Monday, according to a media report.

Indian consulate building in San Francisco attacked by Khalistan supporters

 Even as the brouhaha over the incident of the tricolour being pulled down at the Indian High Commission building in London had barely died down, videos of a mob attacking the Indian consulate in the US city of San Francisco have surfaced.

Climate ministers meet in Copenhagen for first high-level meeting since COP27

Climate ministers and envoys are set to convene at the two-day Copenhagen Climate Ministerial that starts on Monday and hosted by the incumbent Egyptian and incoming UAE Presidencies of the Conference of the Parties (COP), and Denmark's minister of energy and climate Dan Jorgensen.

Oil from capsized tanker spreads to Philippines' vital marine reserves

The massive oil leak from a tanker that capsized off the Philippines' Oriental Mindoro province last month has reached one of the country's' marine reserves and sanctuaries, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Monday. PCG Batangas station commander Captain Victorino Acosta said the oil slick was sighted on Monday morning in the Verde Island Passage between Batangas province and the northeastern tip of Mindoro island, reports Xinhua news agency.

Mongolia receives over 76,000 foreign tourists in 2023

Mongolia has received a total of 76,068 foreign tourists so far this year, with Russia, China and South Korea being the biggest sources of its tourist arrivals, the country's Ministry of Environment and Tourism said on Monday. The Mongolian government has been taking measures to revive the pandemic-hit tourism sector, reports Xinhua news agency.

PM Modi holds bilateral talks with Japanese counterpart Kishida, thanks him for G7 summit invite

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida on Monday held wide-ranging bilateral discussions. The talks between the two leaders were held here after Kishida arrived in India this morning on a two-day official visit. He also extended an invitation to Modi to attend the G7 leaders' summit, which is to be held in May this year in Hiroshima.

SL rupees to appreciate once country enters into IMF agreement: President

The Sri Lankan rupee (LKR) will gradually appreciate against the US dollar once the country enters into an International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said. The IMF is set to approve a $2.9 billion bailout package for the country on Monday, according to Central Bank of Sri Lanka's Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe.

Cambodia records 1st rare Mekong river dolphin death in 2023

In a first this year, a rare Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin has been found dead after being entangled in fishermen's illegal gillnets in Cambodia, the Fisheries Administration said on Monday. The 2.38-metre-long male dolphin, 160 kg in weight and aged about 20, was found dead on Sunday morning in Stung Treng province, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

Ex-Australian soldier arrested over alleged war crime in Afghanistan

A former Australian soldier was arrested in the New South Wales (NSW) state on Monday, facing charges of committing war crime during his service in Afghanistan. Following a joint operation by Australia's Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the 41-year-old man will be charged with one count of War Crime -- Murder under subsection 268.70(1) Criminal Code Act 1995, reports Xinhua news agency.

Aus state boosted by return of int'l students

With the return of international students, the Australian state of Victoria has experienced a positive boost for the local economy. According to data produced by the Department of Home Affairs, the number of on-shore student visa holders in Victoria has doubled to over 141,000, since international borders re-opened in 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.

More legal cases piling up against Imran

More legal cases are piling up against Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan following the violence staged by his supporters during his hearing at the Islamabad Judicial Complex in the Toshakhana case.
Till now, the total number of cases have gone up to 80.

IMF denies linking loan with Pakistan's nuclear weapons

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rubbished claims that the global lender had attached any strings to the revival of a loan programme for Pakistan stalled for months despite the two sides engaged in talks for weeks.

Half of all migrant workers in Australia feel unsafe at work: Survey

Half of all migrant workers in Australia feel unsafe at work, a new survey revealed on Monday. Published by the Migrant Workers Centre, the survey asked more than 1,000 migrant workers in Australia about their experience in the labour and immigration system, reports Xinhua news agency.

Turban ripped, Sikh student dragged by hair in Canada: Report

A Sikh student from India was attacked by a group of unknown men who ripped off his turban and dragged him across the sidewalk by his hair in the Canadian province of British Columbia, according to a media report. Gagandeep Singh, 21, was swarmed and beaten near Highway 97 and McCurdy Road in Kelowna after he got off a transit bus on March 17, CTV News reported.

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