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December 3, 2018: National Current Affairs
1. PAF, China air force commence joint drills
• Pakistan Air Force and People’s Liberation Army Air Force kicked off a joint international air drill Shaheen VII at an operational airbase of Pakistan Air Force on December 2, 2018.
• According to a PAF, a contingent of Chinese Air Force arrived in Pakistan which includes pilots and air defence controllers.
• Apart from technical crew, fighter, bomber and early warning AWACS airplanes of Chinese Air Force are also part of the drill. It is the 7th air exercise in the series of joint air drills with Chinese Air Force. Shaheen VI was held at a Chinese airbase last year.
• This exercise will help enhance close relations between the two countries in general and develop mechanism for interoperability of both Air Forces in particular. Pakistan Air Force emphasises combat training of its air and ground crew and regularly undertakes air exercises with Air Forces of friendly countries.
2. Multiple bailout packages for Pakistan: China
• The Chinese Consul-General (CCG) Long Dingbin December 2, 2018 said that instead of hard cash China plans to eventually provide multiple forms of bailout packages to Pakistan, in the shape of phenomenal investments in fresh projects, broadening the area of inclusive cooperation and tapping new avenues of collaboration under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
• China would never leave Pakistan in the lurch and would channelise maximum resources to strengthen its languishing economy.
• The consul general explained that during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to the country, the scope of investment was widened by inking 15 new agreements. These agreements included cooperation in politics, economics, people-to-people contacts and culture links, amongst others.
December 3, 2018: International Current Affairs
3. Iran ends seasonal rice import ban
• Iran has ended its seasonal ban on rice imports, allowing importers to register their orders.
• The country consumes 3 million tons of rice a year. About one million tons is imported, mainly from India and Pakistan.
• Deputy Agriculture Minister Ali Akbar Mehrfard announced the end of the annual ban in a letter dated Nov 28, the ISNA semi-official news agency reported. Other agencies carried similar reports.
• The government usually imposes the ban for a few months each year to support local prices and help Iranian growers during the harvest season.
4. Drive against child labour from today
• The Punjab government is all set to launch its `awareness campaign for combating child labour` as it has included the programme as pilot project in its first 100-day agenda.
• The Labour and Human Resource Department is already implementing an Integrated Project for Elimination of Child and Bonded Labour in all 36 districts seeking universal primary education for the vulnerable children falling under a certain age.
• Minister Ansar Majeed Khan will inaugurate the awareness campaign at Saeed Awan Centre for Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (CIWCE) on December 3, 2018 (today).
5. Senior Afghan Taliban commander killed in air strike
• A top commander of the Taliban was killed in Afghanistan`s southern province of Helmand in a joint operation by Afghan and US Special Forces, Afghan officials and Taliban members said on December 2, 2018.
• Abdul Manan, who was in charge of Helmand province for the insurgent group, was killed along with 29 others by an air strike on December 1, 2018 while he was meeting local commanders and fighters in the Nawzad district, Helmand provincial governor Mohammad Yasin Khan said.
• His death was confirmed by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid and by the US military, which said Afghan forces had gone on the offensive with US support, notably through precision air strikes to push the Taliban to accept peace talks.
• The death of Mullah Manan, who commanded Taliban fighters as they steadily increased their control over Helmand in the years following the end of most international combat missions in 2014, was seen as a major success by Afghan officials.
6. China, US declare ceasefire in trade war
• China and the United States have agreed to halt additional tariffs in a deal that keeps their trade war from escalating, as the two sides try again to bridge their differences with fresh talks aimed at reaching an agreement within 90 days.
• The White House said that President Donald Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping during high-stakes talks in Argentina that he would not boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 per cent on Jan1 as previously announced.
• Beijing for its part agreed to buy an unspecified but `very substantial` amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products, the White House said in a statement.
• The two sides would also launch new trade talks to address issues including technology transfer, intellectual property, non-tariff barriers, cyber theft and agriculture, it said.
7. Commander of US 5th fleet found dead in Bahrain
• The commander of US naval forces in the Middle East, Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, was found dead in his residence in Bahrain on December 2, 2018.
• At this time no foul play is suspected.
• Other US Defence officials told journalists that they were treating the case as an `apparent suicide`.
• The 5th fleet covers the entire greater Middle East region, from the shores of Pakistan to the Suez Canal.
• Its areas of responsibility include the Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, the Indian Ocean, Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal.
8. Russia, KSA agree to renew oil output cuts
• President Vladimir Putin said that Russia and OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia had agreed to renew a pact on oil production cuts, as crude prices slump on global markets.
• Following talks at a G20 summit with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Putin said the world’s two biggest exporters of crude “have agreed to extend our agreement.”
9. Launch of Falcon 9 rocket postponed
• The launch of Falcon 9 rocket in California, which is supposed to deliver cargo for the Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission to low near-Earth orbit, was postponed from December 2, 2018 to December 3, 2018 due to additional checks of the vehicle’s second stage, the launch vehicle’s developer SpaceX reported on December 3, 2018.
• Standing down from tomorrow’s launch attempt of Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express to conduct additional inspections of the second stage.
• Working toward a backup launch opportunity on December 3,” SpaceX said on Twitter.
• Under the new schedule, the launch will take place from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California around 10:32 a.m. local time (18.32 GMT) on December 3
10. Microsoft returns to top of world
• Microsoft is back at the top of the technology world following an extraordinary comeback to close the gap with Apple, some three years into a transformation of the onetime leader by chief executive Satya Nadella.
• Microsoft regained its title as the world’s most valuable company when it closed at a higher market value than Apple for the first time since 2010, after a brief move ahead of the iPhone maker earlier in the week.
• Microsoft’s market capitalization was $851.2 billion, having tripled in value since Nadella took over in early 2014.
• Apple’s valuation stood at $847.4 billion, having dropped some 20 percent in the past eight weeks. Not far behind were Amazon ($826 billion) and Google parent Alphabet ($763 billion). In the 1990s, Microsoft held the crown as the top tech firm and most valuable company as it powered the revolution in personal computers with its Windows operating system.