December 7, 2018: National Current Affairs
1. Pakistan wants `proper ties` with US like its relations with China
• Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed his desire to have a proper relationship with the United States akin to Islamabad`s ties with Beijing rather than the one where Pakistan is treated like a `hired gun`.
• The prime minister, in his first interview to The Washington Post after assuming office, said: `I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun given money to fight someone else`s war. It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity.
• When asked to elaborate on the ideal nature of relationship that he would like to have with Washington, Mr Khan said: `For instance, our relationship with China is not one-dimensional. It`s a trade relationship between two countries. We want a similar relationship with the US.
• The prime minister explained that the country was not `hedging` towards China, but it was rather Washington`s attitude that had brought a change in the Pakistan-US relationship. He clarified that disagreeing with US policies did not equate to him being `anti-American` when he was asked why he harboured `anti-US sentiments`. `This is a very imperialistic approach: you`re either with me or against me,` he observed.
2. `Only 1pc of the population are tax filers, 70pc of the economy is undocumented`
• Economists and energy experts on December 7, 2018, called for structural, legal and fiscal reforms to bring the country out of the crisis.
• They suggested increasing the tax base, improving the capacity of state institutions, inclusiveness and creating a technology-friendly environment to create jobs and harnessing the talents and skills of the younger generation, who comprise 60pc of the population.
• During a panel discussion on `The Dynamic Global Economy: Fostering the Pakistan Advantage` organised by a public diplomacy initiative, RAABTA, experts attempted to address some of the tricky questions such as population growth, fiscal and financial imbalances, the direction of the government for steering the country out of economic crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout and its impact on the citizens. The discussion was moderated by broadcast journalist Sidra Iqbal.
3. SBP to issue Rs50 coin for anti-graft day
• The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on December 7, 2018 said it will issue a commemorative coin of Rs50 from Monday, Dec 10, to mark the International Anti Corruption Day.
• On Oct 31, 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the convention against corruption and designated Dec 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day to raise public awareness about it.
• The government has now authorised SBP to issue Rs50 commemorative coin which will be available through exchange counters of all the field offices of SBP Banking Services Corporation from Dec 10
4. Two new SECP commissioners appointed
• The federal cabinet on December 7, 2018 issued notification for the appointment of two new commissioners at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
• According to the Finance Division notification, the federal government has appointed Executive Director/ Spokesperson SECP Aamir Khan and Farrukh H Sabzwari as commissioners in SECP for a period of three years with immediate effect.
• Following the new appointments, the number of commissioners now stands at five, completing the commission.
• Mr Khan has extensive experience spanning almost 30 years covering banking, capital markets, structuring of financial solutions/products, leading national initiatives, business transformation, and regulatory reform. Since 2012, he has been serving as an executive director at the SECP.
5. Ban on hiring of doctors lifted
• The Punjab government allowed the health department on December 7, 2018 for ad hoc appointment of doctors and paramedics.
• According to a notification of Services and General Administration Department, regulations wing, the cabinet, in its meeting held on Aug 31, had decided to impose a ban on all recruitments from BPS-01 to BPS-16 in all administrative departments except on the posts from BPS-17 and above which fell under the preview of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).
December 8, 2018: International Current Affairs
6. Over half of global population now online: UN
• Some 3.9 billion people are now using the Internet, meaning that for the first time more than half of the global population is online, the United Nations said on December 7, 2018.
• The UN agency for information and communication technologies, ITU, said that by the end of 2018 a full 51.2 per cent of people around the world will be using the Internet.
• `By the end of 2018, we will surpass the 50/50 milestone for Internet use,` ITU chief Houlin Zhou said in a statement.
• `This represents an important step towards a more inclusive global information society,` he said, adding though that `far too many people around the world are still waiting to reap the benefits of the digital economy.` He called for more support to `technology and business innovation so that the digital revolution leaves no one offline.
7. China prepares mission to land spacecraft on moon`s far side
• China was preparing to launch a ground-breaking mission to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and US.
• With its Chang`e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to ever successfully undertake such a landing. The moon`s far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown, with a different composition from sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.
• If successful, the mission scheduled to blast off aboard a Long March 3B rocket will propel the Chinese space programme to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.
8. Australia passes new data encryption laws
• Australia has passed controversial laws designed to compel technology companies to grant police and security agencies access to encrypted messages. The government says the laws, a world first, are necessary to help combat terrorism and crime.
• However critics have listed wide-ranging concerns, including that the laws could undermine the overall security and privacy of users.
• The laws were rushed through parliament on its final day of the year. The Labor opposition said it had reluctantly supported the laws to help protect Australians during the Christmas period, but on December 7, 2018 it said that “legitimate concerns” about them remained.
• Cyber-security experts have warned the laws could now create a “global weak point” for companies such as Facebook and Apple.
• Australia already has laws which require providers to hand over a suspect’s communication to police. This may already be possible if a service provider uses a form of encryption that allows them to view a user’s message.
9. Tool designed to track steps of cells’ development
• Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis have developed a new tool described as a “flight data recorder” for developing cells, illuminating the paths cells take as they progress from one type to another.
• Using the flight data recorder, the researchers performed experiments that uncovered some surprising details about the specific routes taken by cells that successfully completed their flight paths.
• The technique harnesses the natural properties of a virus that inserts tiny DNA “barcodes,” called “CellTags,” into each cell. As the cells divide, their unique barcodes are passed down to all their descendant cells. The CellTagging technique keeps track of which cells share common ancestors and how far back that common ancestor is found in the lineage. The researchers found that if a certain gene, called Mettl7a1, was turned on in cells, they were three times as likely to successfully reprogram compared with cells in which this gene is inactive. Another interesting finding was that the cells that were not successful in their reprogramming didn’t just end up all over the map. They appeared to converge at the same dead end, tending to revert back to look like the original cell type. The tool could reveal cellular “reprogramming” routes that might involve reverting skin cells back to different types of stem cells that could then mature into a new liver or other vital organ.
• Among many potential uses, the tool also could be applied in cancer research, recording the wrong turns normal cells might take to develop into tumors, according to the researchers.
December 8, 2018: Sports Current Affairs
10. New Zealand crush Pakistan to win Test series
• Debutant Will Somerville grabbed three key wickets to guide New Zealand to their first away series win over Pakistan in 49 years with a crushing 123-run win in the third and final Test on December 7, 2018.
• The off-spinner took 3-52 and was aided by fellow spinner Ajaz Patel`s 3-42 as Pakistan came up well short after being set a daunting 280-run target in 79 overs.
• They crumbled to 156 in 56.1 overs on a weary pitch at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
• The victory gave New Zealand a 2-1 series win after they had taken the first Test by a narrow four-run margin at the same venue. Pakistan bounced back with an innings and 16-run win in the second Test in Dubai.
• New Zealand`s last away series win against Pakistan was a 1-0 victory in matches played in Pakistan in 1969-70.
• It was New Zealand`s fifth Test series win in their last six played since November 2016. They beat Pakistan, Bangladesh, the West Indies and England all at home with the single loss came against South Africa.