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August 7, 2018
EU wants strong economic ties with new Pakistani govt
- European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Jeans Cautain on August 6, 2018 said the EU is keen to work with incoming government and ready to start joint ventures with local businesses in the fields of security, economy, education and rural development.
- During a meeting with Imran Khan, the EU envoy said that the EU had no objection to PakistanIran gas pipeline project despite looming US sanctions and is committed to development and stability in the region.
- He said the EU was also ready to help Pakistan out of the Financial Action Task Force `grey list`.
- Fixing ailing economy Expressing concerns over the worsening macroeconomic situation, PTPs Asad Umar said that the country`s debt is increasing with every passing day and requires immediate action.
Arabia freezes Canada trade ties over `interference
- Saudi Arabia said on August 6, 2018 it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and recalling its envoy while freezing all new trade, in retaliation for Ottawa`s vigorous calls for the release of jailed activists.
- The kingdom gave the envoy Dennis Horak 24 hours to leave the country, in an abrupt rupture of reladons over what it slammed as `interference` in itsinternal affairs.
- Ottawa said it was `seriously concerned` and was seeking `greater clarity` on the shock move, which was announced on Twitter by the Saudi foreign ministry.
- The rupture, which underscores a newly aggressive foreign policy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comes after Canada denounced a new crackdown on human rights activists including the sister of a jailed blogger.
HEC simplifies degree verification procedure
- The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has changed its standard operating process (SOP) for degree verification and from now onward it will scrutinise and attest degrees without asking the applicants to furnish educational certificates such as that of matric and intermediate.
- According to a notification dated August 2, the HEC decided that every degree would be attested solely on merit i.e. whether it has been issued by a recognised institution and whether the institution has the legal authority to issue such a degree. `Applicants for attestations will no longer be required to submit information about previous subsequent academic qualifications, read the notification.
- All degrees f rom HEC`s recognised institutions in subjects where they were authorised to issue such degrees and from campuses, colleges authorised to offer relevant programmes will be verified, attested and equated.
- However, degrees from unrecognised institutions or from unrecognised campuses or colleges or in unauthorised subjects will not be verified. All other formalities are to be adhered toas per the prevailing SOPs.
Trump firm as US set to reimpose sanctions on Iran
- US President Donald Trump on August 6, 2018 told Iran to change its `destabilising` behaviour or risk further economic isolation, hours before the reimposition of sweeping sanctions against Tehran, though he left the door open to a new nuclear deal.
- After Trump pulled Washington out of the historic 2015 multilateral accord in May, to the consternation of his European partners, a new pact seemed unlikely in the short term, given his conditions and Tehran`s anger.
- Against a backdrop of political turmoil and protests in Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif himself accused Trump of `bullying` and of being isolated in his hostility to the Islamic Republic. A first phase of US sanctions against Iran goes into effect overnight, targeting Iran`s access to US banknotes and key industries including cars and carpets.
Indian state to pay for sex change
- LGBT campaigners urged India’s state governments on August 6, 2018 to “learn a lesson” from Kerala after authorities in the wealthy southern state said they would cover the cost of gender reassignment surgeries.
- Kerala’s chief minister said his government would pay 200,000 rupees to allow people to have the procedure, the second Indian state to do so after neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
- India is estimated to have about 2 million transgender people, who are often confined to the margins of society. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that they had equal rights under the law, and granted legal status to the “third gender”, giving them the right to marry and inherit property.
Turkey moves historic bath house
- Turkish authorities on August 8, 2018 conducted a hugely sensitive operation to move a centuries-old bath house weighing 1,600 tonnes to new location to avoid being engulfed under floodwaters by a controversial dam project.
- The Artuklu Hamam bath house in the southeastern town of Hasankeyf was loaded onto a wheeled platform and then moved down a specially constructed road to a new location in a process that took several hours.
- Much of Hasankeyf will be under water or risk damage in the next years because of the development of the Ilisu Dam project, which aims to drastically improve energy supplies for the Kurdish-dominated southeast.
- The moving of the Artuklu Hamam, which reports said is at least 650 years old, is the latest such transfer of a major historical building in the area to avoid being buried underwater.
- In May 2017, Turkey moved the 15th century, 1,100 tonne tomb of Zeynel Bey, a Turkic tribal leader, also on a special platform to avoid being buried by the floodwaters. Both historic buildings have been moved around two kilometres (over one mile) to an archaeological park being set up just outside the town.
Indonesia returns luxury yacht to Malaysia
- Indonesia has returned to Malaysia a luxury yacht linked to the multi-billion dollar 1MDB financial scandal, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed said on August 6, 2018, a move seen as bolstering a corruption probe involving ex-leader Najib Razak.
- The Cayman Islands-registered Equanimity, believed to be worth some $250 million and belonged to a fugitive Malaysian financier with links to Najib, was seized in February off the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.
- Indonesian authorities detained the super-yacht following a request by the US Department of Justice, which is investigating alleged massive misappropriation involving the 1MDB state fund.
‘Rogue planet’ outside solar system discovered
- Scientists have made the first radio-telescope detection of a huge free-floating planet beyond our solar system, a new study said.
- The planetary-mass object, called SIMP J01365663+0933473, is about a dozen times more massive than Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and has surprisingly strong magnetic fields, according to the study published in
- The Astrophysical Journal earlier this week. Scientists detected the enormous planet from the U.S.-based Very Large Array observatory. Wandering some 20 light years away from the sun, the 200-million-year-old planet has been dubbed “rogue planet” as it is traveling through space without orbiting any parent star.
- According to the study, the huge planet possesses a powerful magnetic field over 200 times stronger than that of Jupiter and can generate dazzling auroras outshining Earth’s polar lights. On Earth, auroras are generated by interactions between its magnetic field and solar winds.
- But the fact that the rogue planet is not in the vicinity of any stellar winds makes its auroras something of a puzzle.
Buzarnescu dominates Sakkari to win first WTA title
- Mihaela Buzarnescu`s long road to a WTA title ended in California as the Romanian powered past first-time finalist Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-0 in the final of the Silicon Valley Classic, a US Open hardcourt tuneup.
- The 30-year-old Romanian lost 19 points and needed just 73 minutes to wrap up the final. For Buzarnescu, ranked 24th in the world and seeded fifth, it was a reward for perseverance. Once the top junior in Europe, she endured two knee surgeries and saw her ranking tumble to 891st in the world.
- During her extensive convalescence, during which she wondered if her left knee would ever mend, Buzarnescu received her Ph.D in sports science. But her tennis dream remained and she has enjoyed a breakthrough 2018, her first title coming in an elite Premier level event after she was disappointed in finals at Hobart and Prague earlier this year.
- Buzarnescu, who just a year ago was No. 142 in the world, will rise to 20th when the updated rankings are released on August 6 2018.
‘Chef of the century’, Joel Robuchon passes away at 73
- Joel Robuchon, the world’s most-starred Michelin chef who tore down kitchen walls to give diners new insights into the art of haute cuisine, has died at 73.
- Robuchon, who was hailed as one of four “chefs of the century” by the Gault & Millau industry bible in 1990, founded a string of restaurants that revolutionised fine dining across three continents, ratcheting up a record 31 Michelin stars.
- From Tokyo to Paris and Macau, foodies queue up for seats in his L’Atelier restaurants, where they can watch chefs in action, perched on high stools at a U-shaped bar. According to Le Figaro newspaper, he died of cancer in the Swiss city of Geneva.