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December 26, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. `Ring of Fire` solar eclipse to darken skies today
• An annular solar eclipse, said to be the last big celestial event of the year as it comes to a close, will occur on December 26, 2019 morning.
• Starting at 7.30am (PST), it is to peak at 8.37am and go on till 1.06pm. The eclipse will be visible all over Pakistan, especially in Karachi and Gwadar, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
• It said the celestial event will be visible in eastern Europe, northern and western Australia, eastern Africa, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, and much of Asia, including Pakistan.
• The solar eclipse is not a total eclipse but an annular one. This means the sun and the moon will be positioned in a way to form a `ring of fire` as the moon won`t be able to completely cover the sun. Hence its edges will be illuminated.
2. Malala most famous teenager of this decade: UN
• Malala Yousafzai became the most famous teenager in the world in the second decade of the 21st century, says a UN review.
• In this review, the United Nations news service looks back at some of the big stories that happened in the teenage years of the 21st century and Malala`s global recognition tops the list of positive stories that unfolded between 2010 and 2019.
• The first part of the review covers the period between 2010 and the end of 2013 and focuses on the devastating Haiti earthquake, Malala`s efforts to promote girls` education, and the creation of what has now become `the world`s most dangerous UN mission`, in Mali
3. Saudi foreign minister to visit Islamabad today
• Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud will visit Islamabad on December 26, 2019 (today) for thanking Pakistani leadership for supporting Riyadh`s position on the Kuala Lumpur summit and shunning the event, a diplomatic source said.
• The visit, which will be the first by the current Saudi foreign minister since assuming office in October, has also been officially announced by the Foreign Office.
• `The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, will be visiting Islamabad on 26 December 2019. …This would be his maiden visit to Pakistan, during which the exchange of views would cover bilateral matters and regional issues of mutual interest,` an FO statement said.
4. Upgraded police website allows filing of e-complaints
• Inspector General of Punjab Police (IGP) Shoaib Dastagir has launched an upgraded website of the department with new features to register e-complaints in a user-friendly manner.
• Police Khidmat Marakaz, 8787 Complaint Centre, 15 Emergency Service, Rasta App and 89.8 FM radio are integrated with the new website.
• The new features will enable the citizens to register their e-complaints.
• This website will augment smart and modern policing. It has been redesigned in collaboration with the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB).
5. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait end dispute over shared oil fields
• Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have ended a nearly five-year-long dispute over shared oil fields and have agreed to resume oil production from the divided Neutral Zone, but stressed this would not change their OPEC commitments to crude oil production cuts.
• The allied Gulf Arab nations signed the agreement in Kuwait City on December 25, 2019. Local media reported that about 300,000 barrels per day were being pumped from the area before the dispute halted production in early 2015.
• The divided zone, located between the two neighboring countries` land borders, can produce up to half-a-million barrels per day.
6. India unveils plan to tackle water shortages
• Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25, 2019 launched a 60 billion rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country`s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.
• India, the world`s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia`s third-largest economy. Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India`s 1.3 billionpeople.
7. Erdogan discusses Libya ceasefire during surprise visit to Tunisia
• Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan paid a surprise visit to Tunisia on December 25, 2019 to discuss cooperation for a possible ceasefire in neighbouring Libya, where Ankara supports the internationally recognised government.
• Erdogan, speaking at a joint news conference with Tunisia`s President Kais Saied, also reaf firmed Ankara`s willingness to send troops to Libya if it received such a request.
• Erdogan`s visit to Tunis came a month after Turkey and Libya signed two separate accords, one on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean and another on security and military cooperation.
• Turkey backs Fayez al-Serraj`s Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been fending of f a months-long offensive by Khalifa Haftar`s forces in eastern Libya
8. US astronauts help track Santa`s delivery route
• For decades, the Canadian and American defence agency NORAD has provided updates on Santa Claus`s international gift delivery route, but this year, for the first time, US astronauts lent a hand.
• `We have obtained visual confirmation that Santa is currently travelling south over India,` Andrew Morgan said via a video link as he floated at zero gravity in the International Space Station (ISS).
• The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said that the ISS was traveling at 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometres) an hour, 250 miles above Earth providing `a great vantage point to spot Santa on his annual journey around the world.` `NORAD appreciates the support of Colonel Morgan and the ISS team,` it added.
• The agency reported that Santa and his reindeer were near Managua, Nicaragua at 0505 GMT on December 25, 2019 and had delivered more than 5.7 billion gifts after hours of giving. They took off from the North Pole at 0930 GMT on Tuesday
9. Internet access to overseas sites restricted in parts of Iran: report
• Iran`s authorities have restricted mobile internet access in several provinces, an Iranian news agency reported on December 25, 2019, a day before new protests were expected to kick of f following calls for the demonstrations on social media.
• Social media posts, along with some relatives of people killed in unrest last month, have called for renewed protests and for ceremonies to commemorate the dead to be held on Thursday (today).
• The protests were initially sparked in November by hikes in gasoline prices but demonstrators quickly expanded their demands to cover calls for more political freedom and other issues.
10. Taliban kidnap 27 peace activists, take them to unknown place
• Taliban militants have kidnapped 27 peace activists from a highway in Afghanistan`s western Farah province, local officials and peace activists said on December 25, 2019.
• Massoud Bakhtawar, the deputy governor of Farah, said the peace activists were travelling with six cars from Herat to neighbouring Farah on Tuesday evening when their convoy was stopped by the Taliban on a main highway and taken to an unknown location.
• Bismillah Watandost, a member of the group, said the activists had planned to travel to various parts of Farah to call for peace and a ceasefire between the warring parties in Afghanistan.
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