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November 13, 2018: National Current Affairs
1. Umar removed as PITB chief
• The Punjab government on November 12, 2018 removed Dr Umar Saif, founding chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), and appointed Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani in his place.
• Saif served as head of the PITB for seven years. Before completion of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s 100 days, the Punjab government decided to appoint new chairman to the PITB, the department, which executes technology-enabled solutions for the government.
• Saif has not been removed as vice chancellor of the Information Technology University (ITU) so far, but he is likely to be removed from this post too in coming weeks.
2. Iranian border guards firing kill 2 Pakistanis
• Two Pakistani nationals were killed and three others injured in firing of Iranian border guards while trying to illegally cross border into Iran late on November 11, 2018.
• Levies Force official said that seven Pakistanis attempting to enter into Iran through an illegal route from the Panjgur district in Balochistan were intercepted by Iranian border guards.
• Two people were killed in firing of the border guards while three others were wounded and taken to a Panjgur hospital for treatment.
3. Canada, Pakistan hold dialogue over Aasia
• Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said November 12, 2018 that his government was holding talks with Pakistan over potentially offering asylum to Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman recently freed from prison after her blasphemy conviction was overturned.
• “We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau said in an interview with AFP in Paris, where he was attending a peace conference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.
4. Pakistan faces IMF today with more inefficiencies in power sector
• Pakistan is to face IMF today (November 13, 2018) with more inefficiencies in power sector with less recovery, no let-up in line losses and electricity theft and more surge in receivables that have contributed to jack up to ever biggest circular debt of Rs1.531 trillion.
• “Yes, we are going to sensitise the IMF today about the plight of power sector,” Zargham Eshaque Khan, Joint secretary (Power) in Power Division, confirmed.
• Payables of the power sector currently stands at Rs996 billion, and the loans and liabilities of power sector borrowed by the Power Holding Company Limited (PHCL).
• However, these figures are yet to be verified by Pepco (Pakistan Electric Power Company) and will be updated prior to the meeting with the Fund. Mr Khan said that receivables of the power sector have increased to Rs898 billion.
• The IMF mission will be told about the government resolve to trim down the circular debt as plan has been carved out with the help of provincial governments under which the crackdown against the outlaws involved in electricity theft has also been kicked off. The operation in the first phase to this effect has already been started from Punjab.
November 13, 2018: International Current Affairs
5. 700,000 children may die of pneumonia in Pakistan by 2030, warns study
• Pneumonia will kill nearly 11 million children under the age of five by 2030, experts warned on a global day aimed at raising awareness of the biggest infectious killer of infants worldwide.
• While in the developed world the severe lung infection mainly affects the elderly, in developing nations it is children who bear the brunt, with hundreds of thousands dying each year from the easily preventable disease.
• More than 880,000 children mainly aged less than two years old died from pneumonia in 2016 alone.
• A new analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the aid group Save the Children using forecasts based on current trends showed more than 10,800,000 under-fives would succumb to the disease by the end of the next decade. Furthermore, a handful of countries are set to carry the highest burdens, with 1.7 million children set to die in Nigeria and India, 700,000 in Pakistan and 635,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
6. Amnesty strips Suu Kyi off highest honour
• Amnesty International on November 12, 2018 stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour over the de facto Myanmar leader’s “indifference” to the atrocities committed by the country’s military against Rohingya Muslims.
• The London-based global human rights organisation said it was revoking the Ambassador of Conscience Award it gave Suu Kyi in 2009 while she was still under house arrest. “Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights,” Amnesty International chief Kumi Naidoo said in a letter to Suu Kyi released by the group.
• “Amnesty International cannot justify your continued status as a recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience award and so with great sadness we are hereby withdrawing it from you.”
7. Spider Man creator Stan Lee dies
• Stan Lee, who dreamed up Spider Man, Iron Man, the Hulk and a cavalcade of other Marvel Comics superheroes that became mythic figures in pop culture with soaring success at the movie box office, died on November 12, 2018.
• He was 95.
• As a writer and editor, Lee was key to the ascension of Marvel into a comic book utan in the 1960s when, in collaboration with artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he created superheroes who would enthrall generations of young readers.
8. 51 states pledge support for global cybersecurity rules
• Fifty-one states, including all EU members, have pledged their support for a new international agreement to set standards on cyber weapons and the use of the internet.
• The states have signed up to a so-called “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace”, an attempt to kickstart stalled global negotiations.
• China, Russia and the United States did not sign the pledge, reflecting their resistance to setting standards for cyber weapons which are at the cutting edge of modern warfare.
• Russia has been accused by Western countries of cyber-meddling over the last few years, while huge data breaches online have fuelled calls for new rules governing online behavior.
9. N Korea hiding missile bases: US researchers
• North Korea is operating at least 13 undeclared bases to hide mobile, nuclear-capable missiles, a new study released November 12, 2018 has found, raising fresh doubts over US President Donald Trump’s signature foreign policy initiative.
• Trump has hailed his June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as having opened the way to denuclearization of the divided peninsula, defusing tensions that less than a year ago brought the two countries to the brink of conflict.
• Since the summit in Singapore, North Korea has forgone nuclear and missile tests, dismantled a missile test site and promised to also break up the country’s main nuclear complex.
• But researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said they have located 13 missile operating bases that have not been declared by the government, and that there may be as many as 20.
10. Japanese man ‘married’ to a hologram
• Akihiko Kondo’s mother refused an invitation to her only son’s wedding in Tokyo this month, but perhaps that isn’t such a surprise: he was marrying a hologram. “For mother, it wasn’t something to celebrate,” said the soft-spoken 35-year-old, whose “bride” is a virtual reality singer named Hatsune Miku.
• In fact, none of Kondo’s relatives attended his wedding to Miku – an animated 16-year-old with saucer eyes and lengthy aquamarine pigtails – but that didn’t stop him from spending two million yen ($17,600) on a formal ceremony at a Tokyo hall.
• Around 40 guests watched as he tied the knot with Miku, present in the form of a cat-sized stuffed doll.
• Since March, Kondo has been living with a moving, talking hologram of Miku that floats in a $2,800 desktop device.