(Sample Content) International Events From Current Affairs Book For IAS Pre 2011
Belgium ban veils in public
- Belgium has moved to the forefront of a campaign to restrict the wearing of the Muslim veil by women when a key vote left it on track to become the first European country to ban the burqa and niqab in public.
Mekong basin countries have fears over China’s projects
- China’s dam-building spree along the Mekong river in south-western Yunnan province has raised fears among several of its neighbours, who say the dams have led to shrinking levels of water downstream.
- Officials from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, countries which lie in the Mekong basin, voice their concerns over eight dams that China is building along the Mekong, in talks with Chinese officials in Thailand.
- The four countries in 1995 set up the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to facilitate joint management and water-sharing in the Mekong region, though China and Myanmar have so far refused to formally join the body. The Mekong runs almost half of its 4,400 km course in China’s south-west, where it is known as the Lancang, before entering Myanmar and Laos.
- The MRC’s concerns closely echo those voiced by India in the past over China’s plans to build dams along the Brahmaputra, or the Yarlung Tsangpo as it is known in Tibet.
- An estimated 60 million people depend on the Mekong river in the five countries that lie downstream. China has already built three dams in Yunnan. Five more are in the works, including the massive $4-billion Xiaowan dam, scheduled to open in 2012, which is the world’s highest dam. (Locate in Atlas)
Russia offered nuclear help to Venezuela
- Russia has agreed to help Venezuela draw up plans for a nuclear power plant, said President Hugo Chavez
- Russia and Venezuela also launched a joint business to tap vast oil deposits in eastern Venezuela, and Mr. Chavez said Moscow has offered to help Venezuela set up its own space industry including a satellite launch site.
- Mr. Putin also pledged to keep selling arms to Venezuela. Mr. Chavez’s government has already bought more than $4 billion in Russian weapons since 2005, including helicopters, fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles.
Anti Government Protest in Bangkok
- Amid the escalating anti-government protest in Bangkok, an official spokesman said “massive disruption of traffic and road blockages may not be considered a peaceful demonstration as permissible under Constitution”.
- The protesters, whose numbers have varied from 60,000 to 1,00,000 in most unofficial estimates, have been demanding genuine democracy and arguing that Mr. Abhisit, portrayed as a proxy of the military bloc, had come to power without a popular mandate.
- The protest is being encouraged by the former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, now a fugitive abroad, through exhortations over video links from his bases in self-imposed exile.
- He was overthrown in a bloodless military coup in 2006, and Thailand has experienced varying degrees of political crisis since then.
United States Pledged to not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear State
- The United States administration pledged to not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear State that complied with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as per the latest Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
- Announcing some of the key results of the “first unclassified NPR in its totality” at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates said, “If a non-nuclear State is in compliance with the NPT and its obligations, the U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it.”
Obama and Medvedev sign nuclear arms pact
- Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia signed a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which will reduce their nuclear weapons stockpiles by a third of their present stock piles.
- The START deal, which will last for 10 years, was signed at a meeting in Prague, where Mr. Obama outlined his vision for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation about a year ago.
- The agreement succeeds the 1991 START, which expired in December. It will have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate and the Russian Parliament.
- The new treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 — about a third less than the 2,200 currently allowed. It also mandates a combined limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile launchers, Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments; and a separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.
- The warhead limit itself is 74 per cent lower than the limit of the 1991 treaty and 30 per cent lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty, a White House statement added.
Nepal government’s decision to issue Machine Readable Passports produced in India has sparked a controversy
- The Supreme Court of Nepal has asked the government not to implement the deal with the Indian company until April 12 as two petitions have been filed against the decision. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, whose ministry made the agreement with India, has been asked for clarification by the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature Parliament. Even the Prime Minister has been asked to clarify on giving the contract to India without announcing a tender.
- Among other things, the rate to which Security Printing and Minting
Corporation of India Limited has agreed — $4 a copy — has been controversial
as other companies are reportedly offering lower rates.
Russia supports new Kyrgyz regime
- Russia has signalled support for the interim coalition government formed in Kyrgyzstan in the wake of two days of large-scale riots that left 75 people dead.
- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised help and support to interim government head Roza Otunbayeva in a phone call.
Pakistan National Assembly of Pakistan passes 18th Amendment Bill
- The National Assembly passed the 18th Amendment Bill that seeks to bring back the 1973 Constitution by removing the distortions that had shorn it of its democratic components over the past 37 years.
- The Bill — which proposes 102 amendments to the Constitution — was passed by a two-thirds majority after the House rejected the amendments moved by some members on the abolition of the concurrent list, renaming the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and removal of the provision for intra-party elections.
- Rajapaksa-led ruling alliance has recorded an emphatic victory in the parliamentary
- President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led ruling alliance in Sri Lanka, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), has recorded an emphatic victory in the parliamentary.
- Of the results of 180 seats declared so far, the alliance has won in 120 constituencies.
- The outcome of the elections to the 225-member House shows that there is no change in the public mood since the January 26 Presidential election in which Mr. Rajapaksa secured a second tenure by nearly 18 percentage points over the candidate backed by the entire Opposition.
Russia has launched the construction of a new gas pipeline to Europe
- Russia has launched the construction of a new gas pipeline to Europe that will strengthen its dominant positions in the European energy markets.
- The $12-billion Nord Stream pipeline would carry up to 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year from Siberian gas fields 900 km over land and 1,200 km under the Baltic Sea from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany.
- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who flagged off the seabed construction, said the new pipeline would ensure stable Russian gas supplies to Europe and help avoid transit problems.
- Russia supplies about 150 bcm of gas to Europe, meeting a quarter of its needs. The new pipeline will give Russia a stronger hold over Europe’s energy supplies and reduce dependence on the transit countries, Ukraine and Belarus. Russia’s Gazprom monopoly has teamed up with Germany’s BASF, E.ON and Dutch Gasunie to build the pipeline. (Locate In Atlas)
Sudan gears up for its first multi party Election
- Sudan geared up for its first multi-party elections in 24 years, with a 16-million-strong electorate eligible to vote for President, MPs and local representatives.
Polish President killed in plane crash in Russia
- Polish President Lech Kaczynski and a high-level delegation were killed when a plane carrying 97 people crashed in thick fog as it was approaching a Russian airport .
- Minutes earlier, the control tower redirected a Russian IL-76 transport aircraft from Smolensk to another airport. But the Polish pilot insisted on landing in Smolensk.
- Mr. Kaczynski, 60, was on his way to a memorial service at Katyn, near Smolensk, where Polish army officers were executed on the orders of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin 70 years ago during World War Two. (Locate In Atlas)
First Arctic by balloon crossing
- A French explorer’s team says he has made the first Arctic crossing by balloon, landing in the tundra of eastern Siberia five days after taking off in Norway.
- Jean-Louis Etienne travelled 3,130 km in his special balloon, sailing over the Arctic Circle.
- In 1986, he became the first person to reach the North Pole alone.
Obama warns of threat from nuclear terrorism
- Kicking off the first plenary session on the second day of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington U.S. President Barack Obama underscored the gravity of the threat of nuclear terrorism, arguing that “just the smallest amount of plutonium, about the size of an apple, could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people ... Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon.”
- Assuring the delegates of the 47 attending countries that Al-Qaeda would surely use nuclear materials as a weapon if they ever succeeded in obtaining it.
Three-km scar on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
- A Chinese coal carrier that ran aground and leaked oil on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef cut a three-kilometre-long scar into the shoal and may have smeared paint that will prevent marine life from growing back, the reef’s chief scientist said.
- Even if severe toxic contamination was not found at the site, initial assessments by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority indicate it could take 20 years for the world’s largest coral reef to recover, said scientist David Wachenfeld.
- The 230-metre Shen Neng 1 ground into large parts of the shoal, leaving a scar three km long and up to 250 metres wide. (Locate In Atlas)
Volcano erupts again in Iceland
- A volcano under a glacier in Iceland rumbled back to life, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to leave their homes.
- Emergency officials evacuated 800 residents from around the Eyjafjallajokull glacier as rivers rose by up to three metres and flooded a sparsely populated area,
- The volcano, 120 km east of Reykjavik, erupted March 20 after almost 200 years of silence..The last time there was an eruption near the 160-square-km Eyjafjallajokull glacier was in 1821.
- A bigger worry is the nearby and much larger Katla volcano, which in the past has erupted in tandem with Eyjafjallajokull. Katla is located under the vast Myrdalsjokull ice cap
- Airports across Britain looked like ghost towns as, in an unprecedented move, British airspace was completely sealed and not a single flight was allowed either to take off or land anywhere, including military airstrips, because of safety fears after a volcanic eruption in Iceland set off a massive cloud of ash drifting towards the U.K. (Locate In Atlas)
Plutonium reactor was shutdown by Russia
- Russia shut its last weapons-grade plutonium reactor in line with a pledge President Dmitry Medvedev made at the U.S. nuclear safety summit in Washington earlier this week.
- The ADE-2 reactor near the Siberian town of Zheleznogorsk was started in 1964 and holds the world record as the longest operating plutonium reactor.
- It was also the last remaining weapons-grade plutonium reactor in the world.
- Two other reactors at the Mining and Chemical Combine in Zhelezgogorsk
were decommissioned in 1992, as Russia no longer needed to produce
weapons-grade plutonium following the end of the Cold War.
“Yellow Shirts” warn ‘Reds shirts’ in Thailand
- Thailand’s elite-backed “Yellow Shirts” vowed to take action if the government fails to deal with red-clad protesters within a week, raising fears of clashes. The “Red Shirts”, who mainly support ex-Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have occupied the capital for over a month with their anti-government campaign, which led to clashes with security forces last weekend leaving 25 people dead.
- Thailand is largely split between the poor and rural Reds and the pro-establishment Yellows, who hit the streets ahead of a 2006 coup that ousted their enemy Thaksin and again to see off his allies in 2008. The Yellows had remained largely silent since the Reds began mass rallies in mid-March demanding immediate elections, but they held a meeting of 3,000 to 5,000 supporters to discuss a response to the crisis.