December 2018

Day by Day Current Affairs (December 23, 2018) | MCQs for CSS, PMS

Important Current Affairs Daily Updates
Written by Shahzad F. Malik

December 23, 2018: National Current Affairs

1. Army backs peace efforts, asks India to fight hunger first

• In its take on Pakistan`s peace overtures to India, the army on December 22, 2018 showed its support to resolve all issues with the neighbouring country on the table, seeing new government`s utmost sincerity in taking the initiative that it said should not be taken as its weakness.
• The resolve came from the top military command as Chief of the Army Staf f (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his address to a passing-out parade also called for `fight against hunger, disease and illiteracy, then to fight against each other`.
• While addressing the passing-out parade of 110th Midshipmen and 19th Short Service Course at Naval Academy, the COAS touched upon key issues related to the country`s defence and modern technology transforming the nature of warfare and warned that the `unannounced war against us` was yet to be over.
• `Pakistan is a peace-loving country and believes in peace within and peace without,` the army chief said.

2. PHC launches facility of video conferencing

• The Peshawar High Court has introduced video conferencing technology for holding swift meetings and conferences with district and sessions judges across the province.
• The first three-hour-long meeting between Peshawar High Court and all district and sessions judges and other judicial officers took place on December 22, 2018 to discuss effectiveness of the `unit policy`, performance of the district judiciary and other related issues.
• The PHC can now hold important and instant meetings with the district judiciary through this technology which will overcome distance barriers and reduce travel related expenses and time consumption.
• With no need of wasting precious time on travelling from far-flung and remote districts like Kohistan, Chitral and DI Khan after introduction of this technology, now the judicial officers can utilise their extra time on productive work in courts.

3. Pakistan improves position in Global RTI rating

• Pakistan improves its position in international Right to Information rating from 91 to 33 due to government’s positive steps toward Right to Information Act.
• According to latest RTI rating issued by Global Right to Information Rating, Afghanistan has replaced Mexico at the very top of the RTI rating, with an impressive score of 139 points out of a possible 150, or 93 per cent.
• Mexico is now in second place, with 136 points, followed by Serbia with 135 and Sri Lanka with 131. Countries from the Global South dominate the top of the RTI Rating, with not a single Western country in the top 25.
• All but one of the countries in the top 25 positions adopted their laws since 2000, reflecting the fact that RTI laws are, on average, getting stronger and stronger as time goes on.
• Interestingly, Pakistan was at 91st position and Afghanistan occupied 33rd position in the Global Right to Information Rating list in 2017 but both countries improved a lot. Pakistan government adopted the RTI in 2002 and Afghanistan in 2014.
• The Global Right to Information Rating (RTI Rating) is a methodology which comparatively assesses the strength of legal frameworks for the right to information from around the world.

December 23, 2018: International Current Affairs

4. Afghan war helped Pakistan keep nuclear option: US papers

• Torn between preventing Pakistan from going nuclear and fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, the United States appears to have decided that pushing the Russians out of Kabul was more important, shows a set of documents released by the US State Department .Official US memos and letter released under an arrangement to make public official documents after 30 years show that Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (in office from 1978 to 1989) also played a key role in convincing Washington to continue to support Islamabad despite its nuclear programme.
• A confidential State Department report, dated Aug 20, 1984, shows that by 1984 Washington knew Islamabad had acquired the capability to build nuclear weapons.
• `Despite public and private assurances by President Zia (ul Haq) that Pakistan has neither the intention, means, nor capability to acquire nuclear explosives, we have extensive and convincing intelligence that the Pakistanis are pressing forward to perfect the design of a nuclear weapon, fabricate nuclear weapon components, and acquire the necessary nuclear material for such a device,` the report says.
• `Recent progress in Pakistan`s uranium enrichment programme may soon create a situation in which we could not rule out the possibility that Pakistan was taking all of the steps required to assemble a nuclear device, or even to stockpile nuclear weapons.

5. US govt partially shut down in fight over Trump`s wall

• The US government was partially shut down on December 22, 2018 in a Herce dispute over President Donald Trump`s demands that Congress assign $5 billion for a wall along the border with Mexico.
• After failing to strike a budget deal on December 21, 2018, congressional leaders and the White House pledged to keep talking through the weekend in search of a deal to end the shutdown ahead of the Christmas holiday.
• The impasse came after Trump threw a wrench into the works earlier in the week by refusing to agree to a short-term funding deal cut by Democratic and Republican senators because it did not include the funds for his border wall.
• The US House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority until Democrats take over on Jan 3, then passed a bill that included the $5 billion, but it ran aground in the Senate and the shutdown began at midnight on Friday.

6. Indonesia gains majority ownership of Freeport mine

• Indonesia finalised the transfer of majority control over a giant gold and copper mine from US company Freeport-McMoRan, the government said, in a long-awaited deal that boosts the president`s reelection campaign.
• The Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. initially owned about 90 per cent of the Grasberg mine since it began operating in Indonesia`s easternmost province of Papua in 1973. The rest has been owned by the Indonesian government.

7. Top US envoy quits over Trump`s Syria pullout

• Brett McGurk, the special US envoy to the coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State group, has resigned, a US State Department official said on December 22, 2018.
• His resignation, effective Dec 31, comes just after US President Donald Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Syria as well as the announcement that Defence Secretary Jim Mattis was quitting, citing key disagreements with Trump.
• Just last week McGurk, a Barack Obama appointee who Trump kept on, said `nobody is declaring a mission accomplished` in the battle against IS just days before the president`s stunning announcement of victory against the IS.
• Trump again on Saturday said `ISIS is largely defeated`.

8. Reformist Saudi Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz dies

• Saudi Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, a half brother of King Salman, died on December 22, 2018 at the age of 87.
• Defiantly liberal and dubbed the `Red Prince` Talal bin Abdul Aziz was known as a tireless advocate of reform, sometimes in dehance of the royal family.
• He was a long-standing advocate of allowing Saudi women to drive, a right that was finally granted to female citizens this year.
• Born in 1931, the prince headed the Arab Gulf Fund for Development, a UN body that promotes education and health in developing countries.
• Under the influence of Egyptian president and champion of pan-Arab socialism Gamal Abdel Nasser, he set up the `Free Princes Movement` in the early 1960s, calling for substantive political change in Saudi Arabia.

9. UN team arrives in Yemen to monitor Hodeida truce

• The head of a United Nations advance team tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen`s Hodeida has arrived in Yemen on December 22, 2018.
• The sides in Yemen`s nearly four year war agreed during UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden earlier this month to stop fighting in Hodeida city and its province and withdraw forces. The truce began on Tuesday but skirmishes continued on the outskirts of the city. On December 21, 2018 the UN Security Council unanimously approved the deployment for an initial 30 days of an advance monitoring team led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert.
• Upon arriving at Aden airport, Cammaert met with officials from the Saudi-backed government, local officials said, and he is expected to continue to Sanaa where he will meet Houthi officials.

10. Scientists discover way to turn copper into gold

• Alchemists have been struggling for ages to create the legendary philosopher’s stone capable of, among other things, turning base metals into precious ones, and specifically – into gold. Modern day Chinese scientists seem to have finally come close to performing such a transformation.
• A group of Chinese scientists from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics has published research in the journal Science Advances, which describes how they managed to turn regular copper into a material “almost identical” to gold and silver. The metal, which the scientists obtained as a result of result of their experiment was capable of serving as a catalyst for a reaction producing alcohol from coal — something only precious metals such as gold are capable of doing. Chinese Scientists Use Cutting-Edge Tool to Fix Genetic Mutations in Viable Human Embryos
• Researchers bombarded a piece of copper with a stream of hot and electrically charged argon gas. The procedure charges its atoms, making their electrons more dense and more stable, making the resultant material closer to gold in terms of resistance to erosion, oxidisation and high temperatures.

About the author

Shahzad F. Malik

Shahzad Faisal Malik is the administrator of and is responsible for managing the content, design, and overall direction of the blog. He has a strong background in Competitive Exams and is passionate and sharing information with others.
Shahzad Faisal Malik has worked as a Graphic Designer/Content Creator at CSSTimes in the past. In his free time, Shahzad Faisal Malik enjoys watching Cricket, writing blogs for different websites and is always on the lookout for new and interesting content to share with the readers of this website.
As the website administrator, Shahzad Faisal Malik is dedicated to providing high-quality content and fostering a welcoming and engaging community for readers. He looks forward to connecting with readers and hearing their thoughts and feedback on the website.

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