1. Measles record means US could lose eradication status
• In US, the number of measles patients has reached a record high and may cause the nation to lose its measles elimination status, US health officials say.
• Sixty new cases were reported in the past week, bringing this year’s total to 971 cases in 26 US states – the highest since 1994. The disease was declared effectively eliminated from the US in 2000. Recent outbreaks have been attributed to foreign travellers spreading it to those lacking vaccinations in the US.
• The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement yesterday, that if these outbreaks continue, the United States may lose its measles elimination status. The measles elimination goal, first announced in 1963 and accomplished in 2000, was a monumental task, he said.
• This year’s tally of 971 means the US has already broken the 1994 record – 963 infections – in only the first five months of 2019.
2. Trump announces tariffs on all Mexico goods
• US President Donald Trump has announced tariffs on all goods coming from Mexico in a bid to curb illegal immigration.
• Mr. Trump said that from 10 June a five per cent tariff would be imposed and slowly raised until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied.
• President Trump has declared a national emergency to tackle what he claims is a crisis at the US southern border.
• Border agents say they are overwhelmed, but critics say they are mishandling and mistreating migrants. Jesus Seade, Mexico’s top diplomat for North America, said the tariffs would be disastrous.
3. PM Wickremesinghe vows to stop IS terrorism raising its head again in Sri Lanka
• Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has stressed that steps must be taken to ensure terrorist organizations do not raise its head again in the country.
• Addressing a programme in Ampara yesterday, Mr. Wickremsinghe said the activities of the IS and the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) led by Zahran Hashim have been completely wiped out by now.
• However, he cautioned that terrorism may not end even if the whole NTJ is eliminated.
• The Premier said new laws should be introduced to deal with any possible threats from such terrorist organizations as existing laws are not adequate.
4. UN extends sanctions against South Sudan
• The UN Security Council has extended an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan for a year, despite resistance from African countries, Russia and China.
• A US-drafted resolution was adopted yesterday by a vote of 10 in favour with five abstentions. Resolutions in the 15-member council require a minimum of nine votes for adoption.
• The U.S.-sponsored resolution received 10 “yes” votes — one more than the minimum required for adoption — and five abstentions from South Africa, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Russia and China.
• The measure renews until May 31, 2020, an arms embargo on South Sudan along with an assets freeze and global travel ban slapped on eight South Sudanese nationals for their role in fuelling the war.
• A fragile peace deal to end a five-year civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people was signed in September. But the committee overseeing its implementation says key elements have yet to be put in place.
• South Sudan had faced a May 12 deadline for opposition leader Riek Machar to return to the country and once again become President Salva Kiir’s deputy. It is the crucial next step in implementing the peace deal, but both South Sudan’s government and Machar’s opposition requested a six-month extension, which regional ministers approved earlier this month.
• Acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen expressed disappointment at the lack of African support for renewing the sanctions, stressing that “if there is to be any chance for lasting peace in South Sudan we must stop the flow of weapons used to fuel conflict and terrorize civilians.”
5. South African president unveils his new cabinet
• South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled his new Cabinet, which includes two Indian-origin leaders and 50 per cent women, making the country one of the world’s few gender-balanced governments.
• The number of Cabinet Ministers has been cut from 36 to 28. Mr Ramaphosa led the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to victory in elections earlier this month with a majority of 57.5 per cent, the smallest since the party came to power 25 years ago. He took office last year after the ousting of Jacob Zuma, who had expanded the number of ministerial posts.
• In a nationally-televised broadcast to announce the appointments, Mr Ramaphosa said, South Africans provided this administration with a clear mandate to accelerate inclusive economic growth, act with greater urgency to tackle poverty, improve government services, fight corruption and end state capture.
• He said, to give effect to this mandate, there is a need of a capable, efficient and ethical government.
• The two Indian-origin ministers who have been retained from the previous administration are Pravin Gordhan and Ebrahim Patel.
6. Israel to hold fresh polls as Netanyahu fails to form coalition govt
• Israeli lawmakers voted to dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition before a midnight deadline. He became the first prime minister-designate in Israel’s history who was unable to form a government.
• In a little more than six weeks since they were elected, Israeli lawmakers voted 74-45 in favour of dissolving the 21st Knesset (Israeli Parliament). The repeat general elections will be held on September 17.
• Netanyahu’s victory in the April 9 polls securing him a record fifth term proved temporary. A military conion bill governing exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students created a logjam between potential coalition partners.
• Ahead of the vote, Netanyahu told the Likud faction that he had not succeeded in reaching a compromise with nationalist Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conion bill. He had also tried unsuccessfully to woo MPs from the opposition to join his government.
• Lieberman, a former defence minister, had made it a condition of allying with ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that they adopt a law aimed at having them serve in the military like their secular counterparts.
• Ultra-Orthodox Jews studying in religious seminaries are currently exempt from mandatory military service, a practice many Israelis view as unfair.
7. Saudi King Salman urges international effort to thwart Iran
• Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened an emergency summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Mecca yesterday with a call for the international community to use all means to confront Iran. But, he also said the kingdom extends its hand for peace.
• King Salman was speaking at the first of three high-level summits in Mecca that were urgently convened after a spike in tensions between Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran.
• Speaking at a gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council, King Salman said the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a drone attack on a key Saudi oil pipeline earlier this month requires serious efforts to protect the security and the gains of the six energy-rich Arab nations.
• Iran denies being involved in the attacks. Attending yesterday night’s GCC summit were the leaders of Kuwait and Bahrain, as well as senior officials from the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.
• The meeting will be immediately followed with an emergency summit of the 22-nation Arab League, minus Syria whose membership remains suspended.
• Another summit is expected today, focusing largely on Palestinian statehood and independence. It will bring together leaders from the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia.
8. Brazil economy shrinks 0.2 percent in first quarter
• In Brazil, the official data showed that the country’s economy shrank in the first quarter of the year.
• The statistics agency said yesterday, Gross Domestic Product contracted 0.2 per cent from the previous quarter, marking the first decline in the key indicator of economic activity since the end of 2016.
• Meanwhile, Brazil’s central bank has so far resisted calls to cut its main interest rate, which is already at a historic low of 6.5 per cent.
9. India criticises slow pace of UNSC reform process
• India has criticised the slow pace of UN Security Council reform process. The adoption of opaque methodologies, non-attribution of assertions and obfuscation of references by the member states are attributed to block the early reform of the world body.
• India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said that the document co-chairs produced on the meetings of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) for reforms during the current General Assembly session had serious gaps and did not properly reflect the proceedings.
• He was addressing an informal plenary meeting of the IGN on ‘Question of equitable representation on an increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council’.
• The G-4 grouping of India, Japan, Brazil and Germany has been seeking expansion of the permanent and non-permanent seats of the Council to make it more representative and reflective of the changing global order.
• The four nations support each other’s bids for permanent seats on an expanded Security Council.
10. Abu Dhabi celebrates PM Modi swearing-in
• Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took oath for the second time after his historic win in the elections, the iconic ADNOC building in Abu Dhabi flashed the images of Prime Minister Modi and the Crown Prince in a firm handshake along with the national flags of both India and the UAE.
• Ambassador Navdeep Suri told AIR that it is the golden era in India-UAE ties and the special bond between the leaders of the two countries will herald an era of the unprecedented phase of growth in the relationship between two countries.
• The iconic Adnoc Group tower in Abu Dhabi was lit up in celebration on Thursday evening after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn-in for a second term in office.
• The skyscraper depicted the strong bilateral ties between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by showing flags of the two countries and portraits of its leaders- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed with PM Narendra Modi.
11. India invites BIMSTEC leaders for the swearing-in ceremony of PM Modi
• India has invited the leaders of the BIMSTEC Member States for the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
• President of the Kyrgyz Republic, who is the current Chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Prime Minister of Mauritius, who was the Chief Guest at this year’s Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, have also been invited.
• Prime Minister Modi will take oath for the second term on 30 May.
• President Ram Nath Kovind will administer the Oath of Office and Secrecy to Mr Modi and other members of Union Council of Ministers at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
• BIMSTEC stands for Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.
• Member States: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
12. India’s first all-women medium-lift chopper crew flies
• Three women officers of the Indian Air Force made history as they became the country’s first ‘All Women Crew’ to fly a Medium Lift Helicopter.
• They flew a Mi-17 V5 helicopter for a Battle Inoculation Training mission.
• Flight Lt Parul Bhardwaj (Captain), Flying Officer Aman Nidhi (Co-pilot) and Flight Lieutenant Hina Jaiswal (Flight Engineer) have become country’s first ‘All Women Crew’ to fly a Medium Lift Helicopter.
• A Mi-17 V5 helicopter for a Battle Inoculation Training mission taking off and landing from restricted areas at a forward airbase in South Western Air Command.
• Flt Lt Parul Bhardwaj hails from Mukerian in Punjab and is incidentally also the first woman pilot to fly the Mi-17 V5. Flying Officer Aman Nidhi hails from Ranchi and is also the first woman IAF pilot from Jharkhand. Flt Lt Hina Jaiswal hails from Chandigarh and is the first woman Flight Engineer of the Indian Air Force.
• The Pilots had undergone their basic Flying training at the ‘Helicopter Training School’ at Air Force Station Hakimpet followed by advanced training at Air Force Station Yelahanka. The helicopter was certified airworthy by Squadron Leader Richa Adhikari the unit Engineering officer. This is yet another achievement of women officers in the IAF.
13. Narendra Modi takes oath as PM for second term
• National Democratic Alliance leader Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister for the second consecutive term yesterday.
• President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of Office and Secrecy to him and a team of 57 ministers at a glittering ceremony on the forecourts of the Rashtrapati Bhawan just before sunset.
• Besides 24 Cabinet ministers including Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani, and Piyush Goyal, nine were sworn in as Minister of State with Independent charge and another 24 as Minister of State.
• One-third of the total ministers in the Cabinet are first-timers, including BJP president Amit Shah and former Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Two former Chief Ministers – Ramesh Pokhriyal from Uttarakhand and Arjun Munda from Jharkhand – have taken oath as Union ministers for the first time.
• This will be the first innings for six Cabinet ministers and 13 Ministers of State. BJP’s Prahlad Joshi and Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant will also become Union ministers for the first time.
• The new Modi Government has the maximum representation of 10 faces from Uttar Pradesh, followed by seven from Maharashtra, six from Bihar and four from Madhya Pradesh.
• It also has three ministers each from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Karnataka followed by two each from West Bengal and Odisha. Portfolios for the new ministers have not been announced yet.
• The function was attended by leaders from BIMSTEC countries and foreign envoys, Governors, Chief Ministers, Opposition leaders, corporate heads and film stars.
• President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena, President of Myanmar, U Win Myint, President of Bangladesh, Md. Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister of Bhutan, Dr Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Nepal, K P Sharma Oli, Special Envoy of Thailand, Grisada Boonrach, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth witnessed the event.
• Key leaders of the Opposition who were present at the event were Congress President Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav.
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described his new council of ministers as a blend of youthful energy and administrative experience.
• After President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the council of ministers, the Prime Minister said in a tweet that it has people who have excelled as parliamentarians and those who have had distinguished professional careers.
14. Imbibe skills for techno-driven warfare, says BS Dhanoa to NDA cadets
• Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, today reviewed the Passing Out Parade of 136th Course at the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla.
• An official release said a total of 291 cadets graduated from the Academy as they passed through the portals of the prestigious Khetrapal Parade Ground.
• This included 218 Army cadets, 34 Navy cadets and 39 Air Force cadets. 15 cadets from the friendly foreign countries of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Maldives, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea also passed out from the academy.
• The Chief of Air Staff reviewed the parade and addressed the Passing out Course cadets.
• He complimented the cadets for their exceptional drill movements and impeccable turn out. Congratulating the cadets and their parents, Mr Dhanoa mentioned it is a matter of pride to review the Parade.
15. Jagan Reddy sworn in as Andhra Pradesh CM
• YSR Congress party president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has taken oath as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
• Governor ESL Narasimhan administered him the oath of office and secrecy at Indira Gandhi Municipal Stadium in Vijayawada. Mr Reddy is the second Chief Minister of the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh.
• In the presence of a large number of his followers who came there to witness his swearing-in-ceremony, Jagan Mohan Reddy has put his first signature on the file hiking social security pensions from next month.
• In his maiden address as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, he announced that he would create one lakh 60,000 jobs by October this year and fill up 4 lakh gram volunteers from August 15th. Jagan assured that he would implement Navaratnalu – a total of nine promises – a key aspect in his election manifesto in letter and spirit. Earlier, as soon as Jagan rose to take oath as second chief minister of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh, the joy of his followers and YSR congress workers knew no bounds.
• Their slogans in favour of their leader echoed the Indira Gandhi Stadium.
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has congratulated Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on taking oath as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He assured Mr Reddy of full cooperation from the Centre. In a tweet, Mr Modi said, Centre will work together to take Andhra Pradesh to new heights.
16. ICC World Cup
• Hosts England have defeated South Africa by 104 runs in the opening match of the World Cup at the Oval in London yesterday.
• Ben Stokes starred in all departments as England began their World Cup campaign with a 104-run thrashing of South Africa.
• The all-rounder top-scored with 89 in England’s 311 for eight, held a brilliant catch in the outfield and took two for 12 as the hosts won with 61 balls left. Jofra Archer did the early damage with the ball taking three for 27 in seven overs.
• Quinton de Kock was the highest scorer for South Africa with 68 runs. The African side could not match the performance and managed to put up 207 runs in reply in 39.5 overs.
• In the second fixture, Pakistan to take on West Indies in Nottingham today.
• India will begin its campaign against South Africa on Wednesday at Southampton.