31 October 2020

James Bond star, Sir Sean Connery dies at aged 90.

James Bond star, Sir Sean Connery dies at aged 90.

Sir Sean Connery has died at the age of 90, his family has said. The Scottish actor was best known for his portrayal of James Bond, being the first to bring the role to the big screen and appearing in seven of the spy thrillers.

His acting career spanned decades and his many awards included an Oscar, two Bafta awards and three Golden Globes. Sir Sean’s other films included The Hunt for Red October, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Rock.

He was largely regarded as being the best actor to have played 007 in the long-running franchise, often being named as such in polls.

His Oscar came in 1988, when he was named best supporting actor for his role as an Irish cop in The Untouchables. He was knighted by the Queen at Holyrood Palace in 2000.

In August, he celebrated his 90th birthday.

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Chris Gayle becomes first player to smash 1000 sixes in T20 cricket.

Chris Gayle becomes first player to smash 1000 sixes in T20 cricket.

Chris Gayle becomes the first cricketer in T20 history to smash 1000 sixes in the shortest format. The West Indian achieved this feat in an Indian Premier League match against Rajasthan Royals. 

The Universe Boss smashed 8 sixes in his blistering knock against the Royals and saved the day for KXIP. 

  • 1000 - Chris Gayle* 
  • 690 - Kieron Pollard
  • 485 - Brendon McCullum
  • 467 - Shane Watson
  • 447 - Andre Russell
  • 417 - AB de Villiers

Gayle smashed 99 runs off 63 balls which included 8 mammoth sixes powered Kings XI Punjab to 185. He was actually dropped twice which proved costly for Rajasthan. 

The 41-year-old was benched for the first half of the tournament and now is among the front-runners with most sixes by player.

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Chameleon last seen a century ago rediscovered.

Chameleon last seen a century ago rediscovered.

Scientists have found an elusive chameleon species that was last spotted in Madagascar 100 years ago.

Researchers from Madagascar and Germany said on Friday 30 October 2020 they had discovered several living specimens of Voeltzkow’s chameleon during an expedition to the north-west of the African island nation.

In a report published in the journal Salamandra, the team, led by scientists from the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology (ZSM), said genetic analysis determined that the species was closely related to Labord’s chameleon.

The scientist say the Voeltzkow’s chameleons’ habitat is under threat from deforestation.

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New coral species discovered on seabed.

New coral species discovered on seabed.

Three species of black coral have been discovered on the seabed of the northern Pacific Ocean, an area where several countries have contracts to explore for metals including cobalt and nickel as they race to find new supplies of the key battery elements.

The corals were discovered on deep seamounts and ridges in the mineral-rich Prime Crust Zone, which stretches from the Mariana Trench to the Hawaiian islands.

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World Cities Day - 31 October.

World Cities Day - 31 October.

October 31st is World Cities Day when the United Nations focuses on global urbanization. Along with promoting urbanization, the UN addresses the challenges urbanization presents. Cities collaborate on sustainable urbanization.

The UN General Assembly created World Cities Day in December 2013. On October 31, 2014, World Cities Day was observed for the first time. The United Nations General Assembly has designated the 31st of October as World Cities Day, by its resolution 68/239. The Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.

Additionally, in 2014, UN-Habitat launched Urban October. The entire month is set aside to promote a better urban future. In October 2016, during the HABITAT III Conference, The New Urban Agenda was adopted. The goal is to deal with the challenges of urbanization in the next two decades.

2020 World Cities Day Theme: Valuing Our Communities and Cities.

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World Savings Day / World Thrift Day - 31 October.

World Savings Day / World Thrift Day - 31 October.

Every year, on 31 October, several countries across the world celebrate World Savings Day. The World Savings Day has been established almost one century ago to celebrate people who save everyday.

During the 1st International Savings Bank Congress (World Society of Savings Banks) in Milano, Italy. The Italian Professor Filippo Ravizza declared this day the "International Saving Day" on the last day of the congress.

World Savings Day, or World Thrift Day as it was also called, was established to inform people all around the world about the idea of saving their money in a bank rather than keeping it under their mattress.

A theme often used throughout its history is saving money to gain a higher standard of life and to secure the economy. Examples include in Spain where the first national thrift day was celebrated in 1921. In other countries such as Germany, society's confidence in savings had to be restored since the turmultuous German monetary reform of 1923.

After the Second World War, World Thrift Day continued to thrive. Today, countries all over the world continue to celebrate the day. 

The 2020 theme is "When you save a bit, big things follow."

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30 October 2020

Nobby Stiles: World Cup winning England footballer and former Man Utd midfielder dies aged 78.


Nobby Stiles: World Cup winning England footballer and former Man Utd midfielder dies aged 78.

World Cup-winning England midfielder Nobby Stiles has died aged 78 after a long illness.

The former Manchester United player had prostate cancer and advanced dementia.

Stiles is the seventh member of the England team that started the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany to die, after captain Bobby Moore, Alan Ball, Ray Wilson, Gordon Banks, Martin Peters and Jack Charlton.

Stiles won 28 caps for England and played a key role in neutralising Portugal star Eusebio in the 1966 semi-final, before another fine showing in the dramatic 4-2 extra-time win over West Germany.

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The 14th Asian Film Awards Winners.

The 14th Asian Film Awards Winners.

The annual ceremony was organized by the Asian Film Awards Academy (AFAA), which was founded through a collaboration between the Busan, Tokyo, and Hong Kong film festivals. While it was planned to be hosted in Busan, this year’s event was held online on October 28 due to the current pandemic. It was broadcast on the AFAA and Busan Film Festival’s official websites and YouTube channels.

See the list of winners below !

  • Best Film: “Parasite” (Korea)
  • Best Director: Wang Xiaoshuai (“So Long, My Son,” China)
  • Best New Director: Hikari (“37 Seconds,” Japan)
  • Best Actor: Lee Byung Hun (“The Man Standing Next,” Korea)
  • Best Actress: Zhou Dong Yu (“Better Days,” Hong Kong, China)
  • Best Supporting Actor: Kase Ryo (“To the Ends of the Earth,” Japan, Uzbekistan, Qatar)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Samantha Ko (Ko Shu Chin) (“A Sun,” Taiwan)
  • Best Newcomer: Jackson Yee (“Better Days,” Hong Kong, China)
  • Best Screenplay: Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won (“Parasite,” Korea)
  • Best Editing: Yang Jin Mo (“Parasite,” Korea)
  • Best Cinematography: Dong Jin Song (“The Wild Goose Lake,” China, France)
  • Best Original Music: Karsh Kale and The Salvage Audio Collective (“Gully Boy,” India)
  • Best Costume Design: Pacharin Surawatanapongs (“Happy Old Year,” Thailand)
  • Best Production Design: Lee Ha Jun (“Parasite,” Korea)
  • Best Visual Effects: Tomi Kuo and Renovatio Pictures (“Detention,” Taiwan)
  • Best Sound: Kureishi Yoshifumi (“Listen to the Universe,” Japan)

Congratulations to all the winners !

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Daniel Menaker, award-winning US author and editor, died at age 79.

Daniel Menaker, award-winning US author and editor, died at age 79.

Daniel Menaker, an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction and a longtime editor at The New Yorker and Random House who worked with Alice Munro, Salman Rushdie, Colum McCann and many others, has died at age 79.

Daniel Menaker was the author of several books, including the memoir “My Mistake” and the comic psychological novel “The Treatment,” adapted into a 2007 movie starring Chris Eigeman and Ian Holm. He was also known for the O. Henry Award-winning title story of his collection “The Old Left,” which draws on his early childhood in Greenwich Village and his “red diaper” upbringing: His father allegedly spied on Trotsky in Mexico, where the exiled Russian revolutionary was eventually assassinated, on behalf of the Communist Party; an uncle was named for Friedrich Engels.

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DBS named Asia’s Safest Bank for 12th consecutive year.

DBS named Asia’s Safest Bank for 12th consecutive year.

Ranked 14th safest globally, and fourth-safest commercial bank worldwide, unchanged from 2019 and 2018

DBS Bank announced that it has been named the “Safest Bank in Asia” for the 12th consecutive year by New York-based trade publication Global Finance. DBS’ rankings as the fourth-safest commercial bank in the world and 14th safest bank globally remain unchanged from 2019 and 2018.

This year, DBS was also Global Finance’s pick for ‘Best Bank in the World’ 2020. This follows a similar win in 2018. The bank was also named ‘World’s Best Bank’ by leading financial publication Euromoney in 2019, and ‘Global Bank of the Year’ by Financial Times publication The Banker in 2018. The 2020 Global Finance title marks the third consecutive year that DBS has been honoured with a global Best Bank accolade.

About DBS 

DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 18 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank's "AA-" and "Aa1" credit ratings are among the highest in the world.

DBS Bank has been present in India for 26 years, having opened its first office in Mumbai in 1994.  DBS Bank India Limited is first among the large foreign banks in India to start operating as a wholly owned, locally incorporated subsidiary of a leading global bank. DBS provides the entire range of banking services for large, medium and small enterprises and to individual consumers in India. In 2016, DBS launched India’s first, mobile-only bank – digibank, which now has over 2.6 million customers. Currently present across 25 cities, the Bank has been expanding its presence across India since converting to a wholly owned subsidiary.

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"The VEXAS syndrome" : Scientists discover a rare and deadly inflammatory disorder.

"The VEXAS syndrome" : Scientists discover a rare and deadly inflammatory disorder.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have discovered a rare and deadly genetic disease affecting men called vacuoles, E1 enzyme, X-linked, autoinflammatory and somatic syndrome (VEXAS) syndrome, which is caused by the mutation in the UBA1 gene.

The researchers suspect VEXAS has been found in men because it is linked to the X chromosome in which men only have one. On the other hand, they hypothesize women’s additional X chromosome could be the protective factor in this case.

VEXAS causes symptoms that included blood clots in veins, inflammation of the cartilage, abnormalities in the lung system, recurring fevers and pulmonary abnormalities and vacuoles (unusual cavity-like structures) in myeloid cells.

The disease has already killed 40 percent of known patients who suffer from symptoms of the newly discovered genetic disease. However, their discovery is hailed by medical and scientific professionals as it may lead to effective therapies for the disease.

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Air Vice-Marshal Pathirana appointed as new Air Force Commander.


Air Vice-Marshal Pathirana appointed as new Air Force Commander.

Air Vice-Marshal Sudarshana Karagoda Pathirana has been appointed as the 18th Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF). The appointment, made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will come into effect from the 02nd of November 2020.

Pathirana joined the Air Force on the 2nd of July 1985. Upon completion of his Basic Ground Training at SLAF Diyatalawa, he had secured the award for the Best Cadet of the 14th Officer Cadets Intake. He is a past student of Dharmaraja College in Kandy.

In 2002, he became the first Sri Lankan Air Force Officer to obtain the Masters in Operational Art and Science awarded by the Air University, Alabama in the United States. Two years later, he successfully completed his 2nd Master’s Degree (Defence Studies) in Management at the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University. He also served as the first Defence Attaché at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation from 2007 to 2009. 

He subsequently served at the Ministry of Defence as the Deputy Military Liaison Officer from 2009 to 2011. AVM Pathirana was appointed as the Director Air Operations in 2017 and he served in this position until being appointed as the Chief of Staff in 2019.

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Air pollution in Sri Lanka increased unusually.


Air pollution in Sri Lanka increased unusually.

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) says air pollution in Sri Lanka has increased unusually.

An unusual increase in the levels of particulate matter (PM) in several areas including Colombo, Kandy, Puttalam, Vavuniya and Jaffna was observed since the 27th of October, says Sarath Premasiri, the Senior Scientist at the Environmental Studies Unit of (NBRO).

According to him, the air currents carrying pollutants entering the airspace of Sri Lanka from the Indian subcontinent has been identified as the reason for this situation.

Speaking further, Mr. Premasiri said reduced levels of air pollution was observed once the curfew came into effect as the movement of vehicles was restricted. However, a sudden increase in air pollution was noted in Sri Lanka, especially in the northern and Central provinces.

He cautioned people with respiratory problems of the prevailing situation.

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Axis Bank shuts down operations in Sri Lanka.

Axis Bank shuts down operations in Sri Lanka.

The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, having considered the request made by the Axis Bank Limited, India consequent to a policy decision taken in 2019 on its global operations, has granted approval to close down business operations of Axis Bank Limited in Sri Lanka and cancel the licence issued to it in terms of the provisions of the Banking Act, No. 30 of 1988, subject to several terms and conditions.

Upon the Director of Bank Supervision being satisfied with Axis Bank Limited complying with the terms and conditions imposed by the Monetary Board, the licence issued to Axis Bank Limited to carry on banking business, will be cancelled with effect from 30 October 2020.

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Japan grants Rs. 115M for humanitarian demining in northern Sri Lanka.

Japan grants Rs. 115M for humanitarian demining in northern Sri Lanka.

The Government of Japan has provided a total sum of US$ 636,363 (approx. Rs. 115 million) to the HALO Trust for humanitarian demining activities in Northern Sri Lanka.

The grant contract was signed on 29th October 2020 between Mr. Sugiyama Akira, Ambassador of Japan and Ms. Belinda Vause, Programme Manager of the HALO Trust. Due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation, the contract was signed remotely. 

The project will contribute to the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka in ensuring that mine-contaminated areas are safe, enabling the resettlement of the displaced people and enhancing directly or indirectly more than 5,000 people’s livelihoods in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Jaffna Districts. 

Japan has been a major donor in the area of mine clearance in Sri Lanka since 2002, and the only country which assists all the four demining NGOs currently operating in Sri Lanka. More than US$ 37.5 million in assistance was rendered towards this cause through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP). HALO started its operation in Sri Lanka in 2002, and has released over 35km2 of contaminated land in the country. More than 20% of it was accomplished through the assistance from Japan. 

The Government of Sri Lanka aims to achieve a mine impact free Sri Lanka within a few years and become the next mine impact free country in the world. Through the project the Government of Japan assists this endeavor and ensures the country to be safe for all. 

Commenting on the provision of this grant, Ms. Belinda Vause stated; 

“The HALO Trust is incredibly grateful to The Government of Japan for this continued support. Across the world, Japan has an honorable history of providing humanitarian assistance to clear landmines in post conflict countries and few places is that more evident than in Sri Lanka. Japan is currently funding four demining operators in Sri Lanka and over the last 17 years, Japanese support to The HALO Trust alone has led to the clearance of 9.12 square kilometers of contaminated land and the removal of over 94,000 mines and other explosive remnants of war. This has been achieved through the employment of hundreds of men and women in the post-conflict areas, providing a noble income. Once the land is cleared from these deadly legacies of war, it is safe to live upon or to farm again, enabling economic growth. To date the work of HALO’s Japan-funded mine clearance teams has helped over 200,000 people. In this endeavor Japan is supporting The Government of Sri Lanka to reach their goal - to clear Sri Lanka of landmines.”

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29 October 2020

Harley-Davidson unveils its 1st electric bicycle 'Serial 1'.

Harley-Davidson unveils its 1st electric bicycle 'Serial 1'.

Harley-Davidson has unveiled its first-ever electric bicycle inspired by the brands very first motorcycle from 1903. The new business called 'Serial 1 Cycle Company' started as a project within the motorcycle manufacturer's product development center.

The formation of Serial 1 allows Harley-Davidson to play a key role in this mobility revolution while allowing Serial 1 to focus exclusively on the e-bicycle customer and deliver an unmatched riding experience rooted in freedom and adventure.

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Speaker signs 20th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution.


Speaker signs 20th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution.

Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has assented the draft bill of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution today (29.10.2020).

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane has put his signature validating the 20th Amendment to the Constitution which was passed in Parliament with 2/3 majority on October 22nd, the Parliament’s Department of Communication said. 

The Speaker signed the blueprint of the constitutional amendment at around 11.30 am this morning, the Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said. 

The Deputy Secretary General and the Chief of Staff Neil Iddawala were also present during the event.

Thereby the 20th amendment to the constitution will be implemented in full from today (29.10.2020). 

On October 22nd, the Parliament approved the second reading of the Bill with 156 in favor and 65 against. Subsequent to the Committee Stage, the third reading was passed with a majority of two-thirds after having taken a division (156 in favor and 65 against with 01 absent). 

The new constitutional amendment will now be considered as the law of the country with immediate effect, Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Neil Iddawela stated.

Hence, the existence of Constitutional Council has been abolished forthwith, he said adding that all provisions of the Act (Law) will now be in operation.

The draft bill has been signed at the office of the Speaker in the presence of Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General of Parliament.

The 20th Amendment was passed with a two-thirds majority in parliament on October 22, as 156 legislators voted in favour of the constitutional amendment while 65 MPs voted against.

SJB MPs Dayana Gamage, Ishaq Rahuman, M. Raheem, Ahamed Nasir, Mohomed Harris, Faisal Cassim, Aravind Kumar and M.S. Thowfeek had voted in favour of the draft bill, much to the surprise of many.

Former President and current SLPP Parliamentarian Maithripala Sirisena was absent during the vote.

Apart from the abolishment of Constitutional Council, several other major constitutional changes including the following will take place with the introduction of the new amendment.

Under the observation of Parliament, the President possesses the power to appoint the Chief Justice Justices to the Supreme Court, President of Court of Appeal and its judges, the Attorney General, the Inspector General of Police, the Auditor General and the Ombudsman.

The Article which says the President shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint from among Members of Parliament the ministers to be in charge of ministries will be repealed in the 20th Amendment, and the President will have the power to appoint the Prime Minister and the ministers at his discretion.

The President also possesses the power to hold a ministerial post under his purview.

The number of Election Commission members has been revised to 05 and the President is given the power to appoint members of the election body as well as its chairman.

The President has been empowered by the new constitutional amendment to dissolve the parliament after two-and-a-half years of its sitting, amending the previous Article which stated that the parliament cannot be dissolved until four-and-a-half years of its sitting.

The Constitutional Council will be abolished and instead the Parliamentary Council has been introduced.

Being a dual citizen will no longer serve as a disqualification to run for the Presidency or contest a parliamentary election as the barrier was removed by the newly-passed amendment.

The power to appoint the Heads of Departments is now vested with the Cabinet.

Through the 20th Amendment, the number of Supreme Court judge has been increased from 11 to 17 while the number of Court of Appeal justices was raised from 12 to 20.

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World Psoriasis Day - 29 October.



World Psoriasis Day -  29 October.

World Psoriasis Day on October 29th every year recognizes those who suffer from psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. The day aims to increase awareness and improve access to treatment.

Throughout the world, 125 million people have psoriasis. In the United States, more than 8 million Americans have the disease. Up to 30 percent of people who have psoriasis get psoriatic arthritis.

The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) presents World Psoriasis Day as an annual day dedicated to people with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. It has been celebrated on October 29 for more than a decade. On World Psoriasis Day, our member associations and their supporters organise activities around the world to raise awareness of psoriasis.

Word Psoriasis Day was established in 2004. The health awareness day was created by patients for patients. In 2014, the Member States of the World Health Organization adopted a resolution that officially recognized October 29th as World Psoriasis Day. To further increase awareness for the disease, the IFPA holds a World Psoriasis & Psoriatic Arthritis Conference every third year. Over 1,000 delegates from around the world participate in the conference.

The theme for World Psoriasis Day 2020 is “INFORMED”.

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International Internet Day - 29 October.



International Internet Day - 29 October.

International Internet Day on October 29th celebrates what many consider the most important invention in human history.

It’s hard to fathom a world without the Internet. The Internet provides instant access to information. Search engines make this information easy to attain. Besides gaining knowledge, internet users have an endless supply of entertainment. The internet makes it possible to do banking and shopping from the comfort of your own home. The internet is also a great way to make donations and raise funds. Thanks to the internet, many people are able to work remotely from anywhere in the world. Many use the internet to find a love connection, and many have had success. What in the world would we do without the internet?

The internet is defined as a remote connection between two computers. The first internet connection was made on October 29th, 1969. This was just two months after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. To commemorate the event, International Internet Day was celebrated for the first time on October 29th, 2005. International Internet Day is promoted by the Association of Internet Users.

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Disarmament Week: 24-30 October.

Disarmament Week: 24-30 October.

Disarmament Week is observed from 24-30 October for every year. 

Disarmament Week seeks to promote awareness and better understanding of disarmament issues and their cross-cutting importance. Starting on 24 October, the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the week-long annual observance was first called for in the Final Document of the General Assembly’s 1978 special session on disarmament (resolution S-10/2). In 1995, the General Assembly invited governments, as well as NGOs, to continue taking an active part in Disarmament Week (resolution 50/72 B, 12 December 1995) in order to promote a better understanding among the public of disarmament issues.

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US offers F-18 fighters to India.

US offers F-18 fighters to India.

The United States of America (USA) has offered its F-18 naval fighter jets to fulfil the Indian Navy's requirement of combat jets. According to ANI, a few years back the Indian Navy had expressed its interest in the induction of 57 Naval fighter aircraft for operations from its aircraft carriers. These also included the current INS Vikramaditya and presently under-construction, the Indigenous aircraft carrier.

ANI quoted a government source as saying, "The American government has offered to provide their naval fighter aircraft F-18 for the Indian Navy under a government proposal at the meeting between defence delegations of both countries during the 2+2 meetings."

Along with the F-18 fighters, the US government has also offered to sell the unmanned aircraft Sea Guardian to the Indian Navy. Additionally, the US has offered numerous other systems to the Indian Armed forces.

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SpaceX now targeting Nov. 14 for next astronaut launch.

SpaceX now targeting Nov. 14 for next astronaut launch.

SpaceX is gearing up for another historic astronaut launch next month. The private spaceflight company is planning to send four astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA on Nov. 14, the agency announced Monday (Oct. 26). Called Crew-1, the mission will be the first operational flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon astronaut taxi and the second Crew Dragon mission to carry passengers on board. It is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7:49 p.m. EST (0049 GMT on Nov. 15).

Riding the Dragon will be NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who will spend about six months at the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth. The first Crew Dragon passengers were NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who spent 62 days at the International Space Station as part of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission earlier this year.

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Luis Arce named President-elect of Bolivia.


Luis Arce named President-elect of Bolivia.

Luis Arce has been chosen as the President-elect of Bolivia, after winning landslide victory in the 2020 Bolivian general election. He captured 55.1% of the total votes. Arce will take the charge of the office on 8 November 2020. He would succeed Jeanine Anez, who is serving as the interim President of Bolivia.

The 57-year-old is a member of the political party Movement Toward Socialism. Previously, Arce served as Minister of Economy and Public Finance from 2006 to 2017 and in 2019 under the President Evo Morales.

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Construction of Mannar wind power plant to be completed in 2021.

Construction of Mannar wind power plant to be completed in 2021.

The construction of the wind power plant in Mannar is set to be completed by the beginning of 2021, the state information office said.

A 100MW wind power plant is being constructed in Mannar under a US$200 investment from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The physical progress of the project has reached 73% and the construction is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2021.

It is reported that 06 wind turbines can be installed at the power plant using US$47 million from the US$200 offered by the ADB. This installation will increase the generating capacity of the power plant by nearly 20MW.

The policy approval of the ADB has been granted for the said project and the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by Ministry of Power to implement further actions in this regard.

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Initiative to recycle used carbon pen tubes and toothbrushes begins.

Initiative to recycle used carbon pen tubes and toothbrushes begins.

The government has launched the programme to recycle used carbon pen tubes and toothbrushes, says the President’s Media Division (PMD).

The first container designed for this purpose was handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (26 October 2020).

The programme aimed at educating students has been named “Api Hedee Rata Hadamu”.

The quantity of carbon pen tubes discarded from schools per day is around 80 kg and is estimated to exceed 29,000 kg per annum and the quantity discharged from public and private institutions has not yet been calculated, the PMD said.

Environmentalists point out that used pens and toothbrushes take between 100-500 years to decay. 

Plans afoot to provide special containers to each school. Wex Industries Plastics Ltd. will purchase these plastic items, the PMD added.

Minister Amaraweera has meanwhile stated that a Cabinet Paper will be submitted to make the implementation of the programme mandatory in both public and private entities.

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28 October 2020

Ready to assist development of Sri Lanka without hesitation – Pledges US State Secretary.

Ready to assist development of Sri Lanka without hesitation – Pledges US State Secretary.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that the United States is ready to continuously engage with Sri Lanka in its striving to achieve economic development goals.

His country expects to further develop already existing strong bilateral relations between the two countries, the State Secretary said.

The high-level US delegation led by the State Secretary Mike Pompeo arrived in the country last night called on President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat today (28).

During the cordial discussion between the two parties, views on a number of areas of bilateral and regional importance were exchanged.

Expressing the desire of the United State to continue to work closely with Sri Lanka in achieving a high level of economic development the State Secretary said  priority will be given to promote US investments in the Island.

Tourism is a key sector that contributes to employment and income generation. USA is ready to give a helping hand to the development of this area under a carefully prepared action plan, Mr. Pompeo stated.

In response President Rajapaksa said what Sri Lanka wants is not obtaining loans continuously but to achieve a high level of economic growth by attracting more foreign investments.

“We have already begun to remove bureaucratic red tapes that hinder foreign investment. Sri Lanka is a country that possesses necessary factors to achieve a high agricultural development. Our agriculture sector should be modernized. Scientific research should be conducted in order to reach this goal. We expect your assistance towards this end”, President Rajapaksa stressed.

Elaborating on the foreign policy of Sri Lanka, President said it is based on neutrality.

Relations between Sri Lanka and other nations are determined by several conditions. Historic and cultural relations, development cooperation are some of the priorities. President stressed that he is not ready to compromise the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation in maintaining foreign relations whatever the circumstances may be. Noting that China assisted in the development of the country’s infrastructure since the end of the separatist war President reiterated that Sri Lanka not caught in a debt trap as a result.

The two sides agreed to further strengthen the defence cooperation already established between Sri Lanka and the United States. These include training opportunities and material assistance from the United States to security forces personnel in Sri Lanka.

When President emphasized the need to strengthen the coastal guard services to combat drug trafficking, the State Secretary said that the US could assist in this endeavor.

Mr. Pompeo said that the United States wishes to see that the Indian Ocean remains a zone of peace. He expressed satisfaction over the existing friendly ties between Sri Lanka and India. President Rajapaksa stated that Sri Lanka also hopes to see peace in the Indian Ocean.

Both parties also agreed to work together on human rights issues in international for a.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz, Under Secretary of State Brian Bulatao, Chief Assistant Deputy Secretary at Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson, Senior Advisor to the State Secretary Mary Kissel were the other members of  the US delegation.

Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardene, Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera,  Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Relations Admiral Jayanath Colombage, , Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador – designate to the US Ravinatha Aryasinghe were also present during the discussion.

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NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon.

NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places.

SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. Previous observations of the Moon’s surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH). Data from this location reveal water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water – trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface. The results are published in the latest issue of Nature Astronomy.

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Goa in India, ready to have first sand dune park in the country.

Goa in India, ready to have first sand dune park in the country.

The World Bank accepted the proposal of the Biodiversity Board of the state and has sanctioned a sum of Rs 3 crore for the project.

Sand dunes are geological deposits formed by the action of wind.

These geomorphic features act as nature’s first line of defense from the forces of the ocean.

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Japan to achieving a Carbon Neutral Society by 2050.

Japan to achieving a Carbon Neutral Society by 2050.

Japan's new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, committed his country on Monday to reaching a target of zero emissions of greenhouse gases and achieving a carbon-neutral society by 2050.

It had previously made a commitment only to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 and achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of the century. Now, however, it is following in the footsteps of the European Union, which vowed last year to become carbon neutral by 2050, and China, where President Xi Jinping set a similar target for 2060 only last month.

Under its current Basic Energy Plan, it aims to increase the share of renewables to 22 to 24 percent by 2030, and nuclear power to between 20 and 22 percent, although it is expected to unveil new targets by 2021.

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Amitabh Bachchan: Most Trusted Brand in India.

The TIARA (Trust, Identify, Attractive, Respect and Appeal) research report on celebrities as human brands, released by the Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB), surveyed responses from 60,000 people across 23 cities to assign a score to each celebrity.

Overall, Amitabh Bachchan was voted as India’s most trusted celebrity across geographies with a TIARA score of 88.0. In Bollywood, Akshay Kumar was most trusted celebrity with a score of 86.8.

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Microsoft to discontinue Internet explorer.


Microsoft to discontinue Internet Explorer.

Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer 11 across its Microsoft 365 apps and services next year. In exactly a year, on August 17th, 2021, Internet Explorer 11 will no longer be supported for Microsoft’s online services like Office 365, OneDrive, Outlook, and more. Microsoft is also ending support for Internet Explorer 11 with the Microsoft Teams web app later this year, with support ending on November 30th.

While it’s still going to take some time to pry enterprise users of Internet Explorer 11 away, Microsoft is hoping that the new Internet Explorer legacy mode in the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser will help. It will continue to let businesses access old sites that were specifically built for Internet Explorer, until Microsoft fully drops support for Internet Explorer 11 within Windows 10. 

Internet Explorer was once the most widely used web browser, attaining a peak of about 95% usage share by 2003.

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International Animation Day - 28 October.

International Animation Day - 28 October.

October 28, the International Animation Day (IAD) was proclaimed in 2002 by the ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation) as the main global event to celebrate the art of animation.

This day commemorates the first public performance of Emile Reynaud’s Theatre Optique in Paris, 1892. In 1895, the Cinematograph of Lumiere brothers outshone Reynaud's invention, driving Emile to bankruptcy. However, his public performance of animation entered the history of optical entertainments as shortly predating the camera-made movies.

Such a celebration is an outstanding opportunity to put the animated film in the limelight and make this art more accessible to the public.

This event began in 2002, and in recent years, the event has been observed in more than 50 different countries with more than 1000 events, on every continent, all over the world. IAD was initiated by ASIFA, International Animated Film Association, a member of UNESCO. During International Animation Day cultural institutions are also invited to join in by screening animated films, organizing workshops, exhibiting artwork and stills, providing technical demonstrations, and organizing other events helping to promote the art of animation. Such a celebration is an outstanding opportunity of putting animated films in the limelight, making this art more accessible to the public.

ASIFA also commissions an artist to create an original art poster announcing the event each year. It is then adapted for each country in order to guarantee a worldwide view of the event. Previous editions involved the work of animators such as Iouri Tcherenkov, Paul Driessen, Abi Feijo, Eric Ledune, Noureddin Zarrinkelk, Michel Ocelot, Nina Paley, Raoul Servais, Ihab Shaker and Gianluigi Toccafondo.

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Samsung tops Forbes’ list of World’s Best Employer 2020.

Samsung tops Forbes’ list of World’s Best Employer 2020.

South Korea based electronics conglomerate, Samsung Electronics has topped the list of ‘World’s Best Employer 2020′ published by US Business Magazine Forbes’. Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and LG are the other business icons among the top 5 in the list respectively. The global list features 750 multinational and large corporations headquartered in 45 countries.

The Samsung has recorded giant progress over previous years 76th in 2019 and 106th in 2018 within a list of 750 Multi National Corporations.

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Alpha Condé won the presidential election for 3rd Term as President of Guinea.

Alpha Condé won the presidential election for 3rd Term as President of Guinea.

Alpha Condé, the incumbent president of Guinea and leader of Rally of the Guinean People (Rassemblement du Peuple Guinéen – RPG) party won the 3rd the term as the President of Guinea by winning the 2020 presidential elections. He won the election against Cellou Dalein Diallo with 59.49 % votes. Diallo got 33.5% votes in the election. Winning the 2020 elections, Alpha Condé is set to govern the country for the next 06 years.

Important Facts:

  • Guinea Prime Minister: Ibrahima Kassory Fofana.
  • Guinea Capital: Conakry.
  • Guinea Currency: Guinean Franc.

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27 October 2020

Chinese Ant Group to raise up to $ 34.4 b in world’s biggest IPO.

Chinese Ant Group to raise up to $ 34.4 b in world’s biggest IPO.

Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group has set terms for a dual listing aimed at raising up to $ 34.4 billion from the world’s largest stock market debut, with investors scrambling for a piece of the fast-growing company.

The deal would value Ant at more than $ 313 billion before a so-called greenshoe option for a 15% over allotment of shares. At that valuation, Ant is worth more than Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank by assets.

The looming market debut, however, is clouded by concerns over growing regulatory scrutiny of Ant’s lucrative consumer credit business as well as a US State Department proposal to add the fintech group to a trade blacklist.

Global investors, however, have largely shrugged off those concerns as they bet on continued rapid growth of a group that also operates China’s biggest mobile payments platform and distributes wealth management and insurance products.

Announcing the deal terms yesterday, Ant said that large, strategic investors in the Shanghai tranche of the initial public offering (IPO) would include Singapore state investor Temasek Holding, as well as Singaporean and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds GIC and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

It has earmarked 80% of its domestic offering to 29 strategic investors that will be locked up for at least one year and will also include a wholly-owned unit of technology giant Alibaba and China’s National Council for Social Security Fund.

While the Alibaba unit has agreed to purchase 44% of the Shanghai float, large Chinese insurers and mutual funds will also have shares allocated via the strategic investor route, Monday’s filing showed.

Referring to Ant’s float as a “miracle”, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, on Saturday told a conference in Shanghai that it is the first time the pricing for such a big listing has been determined outside New York.

Headquartered in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Ant is aiming to raise about $ 17.2 billion in Shanghai and roughly the same in Hong Kong, Ant said in filings to the two exchanges late yesterday.

The envisioned $ 34.4 billion total offering, even before the greenshoe option, would comfortably beat Saudi Aramco’s $ 29.4 billion IPO last December.

Ant shares are expected to start trading in Hong Kong and Shanghai on 5 November, two days after the US election, in the first dual listing in the Asian financial hub and on the year-old STAR market.

Ant set the price tag for the Shanghai leg of the listing at 68.8 yuan ($ 10.27) per share and HK$ 80 ($ 10.32) per share for the Hong Kong tranche, the exchange filings showed.

Reuters on Saturday reported that many large Chinese fund managers had bid for Ant shares in the listing on the Nasdaq-style STAR Market in Shanghai at close to 69 yuan ($ 10.32) per share.

Shanghai Record

Ant plans to sell 1.67 billion shares in Shanghai, which would be China’s biggest IPO and eclipse the record set by Agricultural Bank of China’s $ 10.1 billion float in 2010.

The company will also sell the same number of shares in Hong Kong to raise $ 17.24 billion, which would be the largest IPO in the Asian financial hub since insurance major AIA’s $ 20.5 billion offering in 2010.

The book building for the Hong Kong leg will run from Monday to Friday, while books for the Shanghai leg open for one day on Thursday.

Ant’s IPO would also serve to burnish STAR’s status at a time when rising tensions between China and the United States have triggered concern over the listing of Chinese companies in New York. Companies raised $ 22.5 billion via IPOs and secondary listings on STAR between the start of the year and mid-October, making it the third-biggest stock market behind Nasdaq and Hong Kong, Refinitiv data shows.

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U.S. State Secretary arrives in Sri Lanka.

U.S. State Secretary arrives in Sri Lanka.

Secretary of State of United States, Michael R. Pompeo has arrived in Sri Lanka a short while ago (27 October 2020) for two-day bilateral discussions, says the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.

In the days leading up to the U.S. presidential vote, Pompeo is travelling to New Delhi, India; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Malé, Maldives; and Jakarta, Indonesia between the 25th and 30th of October.

The U.S. delegation led by the State Secretary landed in India on Monday (26 October 2020). In New Delhi, Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper and their Indian counterparts are leading the third annual U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue to advance the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and expand cooperation to promote stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world.

During his visit in Sri Lanka, Pompeo is expected to hold bilateral talks with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and other high-profile officials on several areas of the multifaceted engagement between the two countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S. State Secretary undertaking this official visit to Sri Lanka on an invitation extended by his Sri Lankan counterpart, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

After Colombo, Pompeo will travel to Malé to reaffirm their close bilateral relationship and advance their partnership on issues ranging from regional maritime security to the fight against terrorism.

Thereafter, the Secretary will travel to Jakarta to deliver public remarks and meet with his Indonesian counterparts to affirm the two countries’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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Italians vote to slash size of parliament by a third.

Italians vote to slash size of parliament by a third.

Italians have voted in a referendum to cut the size of the country's parliament by more than a third.

Almost 70% of people voted in favour of the change, with almost all votes counted.The number of MPs in the lower house will be reduced from 634 to 400. The senate will also be downsized.

The referendum was pushed by the Five Star Movement, part of the governing coalition, which argued that the move would reduce costs.

It was held alongside several key regional elections, where the results were seen as a setback for far-right League leader Matteo Salvini and a boost for the centre left Democratic Party, which is part of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's coalition government with the populist Five Star movement.

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Pakistan to remain in grey list of FATF till February 2021.

Pakistan to remain in grey list of FATF till February 2021.

The global terror financing watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has announced that Pakistan will continue to remain on its grey list till February 2021. This decision has been taken since Pakistan has not been able to fulfill six out of the 27 mandates to check terror funding. FATF has strongly urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021.

FATF objective is to combat money laundering, terror financing and other related threats to the international financial system.

It currently has 39 members which include two regional organizations, the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council.

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ICICI Bank shuts down operations in Sri Lanka.



ICICI Bank shuts down operations in Sri Lanka.

ICICI Bank has shut down his operations in Sri Lanka after getting approval from the Sri Lankan monetary authority. The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, having considered the request made by ICICI Bank, has granted approval to close down the business operation of the bank in Sri Lanka and cancel the licence issued to it.

The Director of Bank Supervision being satisfied with the bank complying with the terms and conditions imposed by the Monetary Board, the licence issued to the bank to carry on banking business in Sri Lanka is cancelled with effect from October 23, 2020.

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Sri Lanka Participates at “e-Connect” online B2B Platform in India.

Sri Lanka Participates at “e-Connect” online B2B Platform in India.

The Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai organized Sri Lankan electronic and electrical manufacturers participation at the “e- Connect” online B2B meetings platform conducted by the Indian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturer`s Association(IEEMA) from 05 - 07 October 2020 with a focus of adding boost to Sri Lanka`s growing potentials in export manufacturing sectors,

“e-Connect” is the tool created for businesses to transform and evolve, envisage experience and  explore opportunities during the challenging Covid 19 situation. Under this project IEEMA had invited electrical and electronic manufacturing companies from 25 Countries to participate in Virtual B2B Meetings with leading Indian companies.

Prior to arranging the Sri Lanka`s participation, at the meeting held with the officials of the southern region office of the IEEMA, the Mission officials were able to convince them about the greater potentials available for the Indian companies to enter into collaborations/joint ventures with the Sri Lankan companies due to low transportation cost and low shipping duration due to the exclusive proximity of Sri Lanka to India. Further it was highlighted that the products which are being produced and exported by the Sri Lankan companies are given duty free access to India under the India Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA).

The seven Sri Lankan companies, namely Richardson Projects Pvt Ltd, Rexel Electric Sri Lanka, Kelani Cables PLC, Empire Trading Agency (Pvt) Ltd, GPV Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Olex Projects Pvt Ltd and Ceylon Electricity Board participated at the event and were able to conduct 66 virtual B2B meetings with 29 leading electronic and electrical manufacturing companies in India.

The Export Development Board of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Electronic and Electrical Manufacturer’s Association extended their generous cooperation to coordinate with the Sri Lankan companies.

Mr. K. Seetaraman, Head of the southern region office of the IEEMA at the end of the three days virtual session with Sri Lanka stressed that the session was rounded off by accruing numerous lucrative opportunities for both countries. Further, he stated that IEEMA`s keen interest to closely work with Sri Lanka as neighboring countries.

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