28 February 2021

International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day - 28 February.

Every year on the last day in February, International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day seeks to educate the public about repetitive strain injuries. This is also a day when health care professionals help their patients learn how to prevent this serious type of injury.

Repetitive strain injuries are exactly what they sound like. This type of injury occurs when a certain part of the body is damaged due to repetitive movements or overuse. One example of a repetitive strain injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. People who do a lot of typing or using a mouse at the computer are prone to this type of injury.

Catherine Fenech, a long-time leader for better workplace safety in Canada, established International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day. She launched the first event in 2000 and chose February 29th as the only non-repetitive day on the calendar. During non-leap years, events are held on February 28th.

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Ivory Coast becomes second country to receive vaccines via COVAX.

Ivory Coast has become the second country to receive a shipment of vaccines on 26 February 2021 via COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing programme.

The vaccines, 504,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, arrived on Friday in the commercial capital, Abidjan, paving the way for the West African nation to launch a vaccination campaign next week.

WHO-led COVAX scheme that aims to distribute vaccines for free to poor countries. 

Ghana received the first COVAX shipment, marking the start of what the WHO and UNICEF call the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

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Rare Disease Day - 28 February (Last Day of February)

Rare Disease Day is an observance held on the last day of February to raise awareness for rare diseases and improve access to treatment and medical representation for individuals with rare diseases and their families. 

The European Organisation for Rare Diseases established the day in 2008 to raise awareness for unknown or overlooked illnesses. According to that organization, treatment for many rare diseases is insufficient, as are the social networks to support individuals with rare diseases and their families; furthermore, while there were already numerous days dedicated to sufferers of individual diseases (such as AIDS, cancer, etc.), there had previously not been a day for representing sufferers of rare diseases. In 2009 Rare Disease Day went global as the National Organization for Rare Disorders mobilized 200 rare disease patient advocacy organizations in the United States while organizations in China, Australia, Taiwan, and Latin America also lead efforts in their respective countries to coordinate activities and promote the day.

The first Rare Disease Day was coordinated by the European Organisation for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS) and held on February 29, 2008 in numerous European nations and in Canada through the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders. The date was chosen because February 29 is a "rare day," and 2008 was the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Orphan Drug Act in the United States.

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Indian Air Force contingent arrives in Sri Lanka.

A contingent of Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy personnel arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday (27) to participate in the 70th Anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).

The Indian Air Force aerobatic display teams, the fixed wing “Suryakirans’ and rotary wing ‘Sarang’ , along with Light Combat Aircraft Tejas arrived at Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 27 Feb 21 on an invitation from Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), the Indian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The Sri Lanka Air Force is celebrating its 70th Anniversary on 02 Mar 21 and the presentation of President’s Colors to No. 5 Fighter Squadron and No. 6 Helicopter Squadron of the Sri Lanka Air Force. To commemorate this historical event, a Fly Past and an Aerobatic Display is also being organized for the first time in Sri Lanka at a grand scale at Galle Face from 03-05 Mar 21.

The Suryakirans, Sarang and LCA Tejas will participate in an Air Show at Galle Face, Colombo, scheduled from 03–05 Mar 21 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of SLAF.

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India launches Brazil's Amazonia-1 Earth observation satellite.

A Brazilian Earth observation satellite soared to space aboard an Indian rocket late Saturday (Feb. 27) along with 18 passenger satellites from the United States and India.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launch, which carried Brazil's Amazonia-1 satellite into orbit, lifted off at 11:54 p.m. EST Saturday (0454 GMT or 1024 local time Sunday) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. An ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) carried Amazonia-1 and 18 smaller satellites into space using a "DL" variant that has two strap-on boosters, ISRO said in a description of the mission.

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Sri Lanka's Dhammika Prasad announces international retirement.

Sri Lanka fast bowler Dhammika Prasad has announced his retirement from international cricket at age 37.

Prasad played the last of his 25 Tests in October 2015, following which a serious shoulder injury impeded his career. Prasad eventually made a first-class comeback, following surgery, but could not quite break back into the national team.

Before that injury, however, he was one of Sri Lanka's premier quicks, remembered with particular fondness for his second-innings 5 for 50 at Headingley in 2014, which led to Sri Lanka winning their first series in England. That was his only five-wicket haul in Tests, but he was nevertheless impressive at home in 2015, taking four wickets in an innings consecutively against India.

Prasad finished with 75 Test wickets at an average of 35.97, and also took 32 ODI wickets at 30.50 in 24 games. He has a further 276 first-class wickets, largely for his Sinhalese Sports Club side, whom he has played for since 2002.

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Bangladesh first country to declare National Ketoprofen Ban.

The Cabinet of the Bangladesh Government, chaired by the Prime Minister, has taken a landmark decision, approving a national ban of production, sale and use of ketoprofen to safeguard the small remaining vulture populations in the country.

Bangladesh is the first country worldwide to ban any of the drugs now known to be toxic to vultures since the previous veterinary diclofenac bans more than ten years ago. Ketoprofen has become the main anti-inflammatory drug used by vets in the country, so this represents a significant change, and the companies concerned are already stepping up production and improving their formulations of the safe alternative drug, meloxicam.

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27 February 2021

Japan has appointed a 'Minister of Loneliness'.

Japan has appointed a "Minister of Loneliness" in an attempt to reduce loneliness and social isolation among its residents as the country deals with rising suicide rates, Tomohiro Osaki reported for the Japan Times.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is already a minister in charge of dealing with Japan's declining birthrate and promoting regional revitalization, to oversee government policies to deal with loneliness and isolation, earlier this month. Prime Minister Suga chose Sakamoto as his Minister for economic revitalization when he was elected in September 2020.

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Ms. Ligia Noronha of India - Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the UNEP New York Office.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Ligia Noronha of India as Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 

She will succeed Satya Tripathi of India to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his leadership and dedicated service during his tenure. 

Ms. Noronha is an economist with over 30 years of international experience in the field of sustainable development.  She has worked since 2014 as Director of UNEP’s Economy Division based in Nairobi, leading UNEP’s work on climate mitigation and energy transitions; on inclusive green economies, sustainable consumption and production, as well as on trade and sustainable finance, and the nexus of environment, pollution and health. 

Prior to joining UNEP, Ms. Noronha worked at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, as Executive Director (Research Coordination) and as Director of the Division on Resources, Regulation and Global Security.  She served as Secretary of the Asian Energy Institute and as Coordinator of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnerships (REEEP), South Asia and worked with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada on ecosystem approaches to human health. 

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State of School Feeding Worldwide 2020.

This publication by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provides an analysis of the State of School Feeding Worldwide in 2020. A report on the State of School Feeding Worldwide was first published by WFP in 2013. This 2020 version follows a similar format and uses the best available data sources to describe key aspects of coverage, implementation practices and costs of school-based health and nutrition programmes worldwide. 

In addition, the 2020 version seeks to analyse the direction and scale of change between 2013 and 2020, and to provide an update on advances in evidence and understanding of school feeding programmes.

Long planned for, the report is being published with an even greater sense of urgency as the outbreak of the current pandemic in February 2020 dealt a blow that brought an end to a near-decade of global growth in school feeding programmes. This publication provides an analysis of the state of school feeding programmes before the current pandemic; it describes the damage caused by the pandemic; and presents what can be done to restore this remarkable global safety net – not only to get back to where the world was in January 2020, but to build back better.

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Mumbai's undersea tunnel.

Mumbai's undersea tunnel: From unique ventilation system to earthquake resistant, key features of project.

By 2023, Mumbai will be home to India's first undersea tunnel, part of the city's Rs 12,000 crore Coastal Road project.

The Coastal Road project is an under construction 22.2-kilometre freeway that would run along Mumbai's western coastline connecting Marine Lines in the sea.

Mumbai's undersea tunnel: From unique ventilation system to earthquake resistant, key features of projectouth to Kandivali in the north.

Here are some key features of the tunnel:

The 2.07 kilometre tunnel, which will have two lanes, will be 10 to 70 metres deep sub-surface. These lanes will be bored between Priyadarshini Park and Chhota Chowpatty at Marine Drive.

A civic official told The Times of India that the tunnels, having a circumference of 11 metres each, would be earthquake-resistant and have a life span of more than 120 years. The tunnels will have three lanes on each side and will get a coat of reflective paint to ensure adequate lighting. “In case of disaster, 13 cross tunnels would be opened up. Of the 13, seven cross tunnels would be for vehicles and six for human movement,” said the official.

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Biden takes first military action with Syria strike.

The US has carried out an air strike targeting Iran-backed militias in Syria, in the first military action undertaken by the Biden administration.

The Pentagon said the strike destroyed "multiple facilities" and was ordered in response to attacks against US and coalition personnel in Iraq.

Militia officials said one person had been killed but a war monitor reported at least 22 fatalities.

Syria condemned the attack as a "bad sign" from the new US administration.

The Pentagon said its strike near the Iraqi border in eastern Syria was a "proportionate military response" that was taken "together with diplomatic measures", including consulting coalition partners.

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World Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Day - 27 February.

World Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Day recognizes the inspirational work of the people behind not-for-profit organizations around the world do every day.  NGOs are found at the local, regional and international levels. Whether large or small, World NGO Day celebrates all the benefits these groups bring to the planet.

World NGO Day aims to inspire people to become more actively involved within NGOs (Charities, NPOs, CSOs) and encourage a greater symbiosis between NGOs and both the public and private sector.

In 2010, Marcis Lios Skadmanis established World NGO Day.

The Day was officially recognised and declared by the 12 member countries (Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Norway and Sweden). It was marked for the first time by the UN, EU leaders and international organisations in 2014.

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Irakli Garibashvili is the New Prime Minister of Georgia.

The Parliament of Georgia confirmed Irakli Garibashvili as Prime Minister along with a vote of confidence in the cabinet Garibashvili put forward. Garibashvili pledged to create a long-term development strategy for Georgia in his first one hundred days in office.

First, on the agenda, Garibashvili will continue the essential work of the government to ably manage the pandemic and accelerate the focus on rebuilding the economy while continuing to strengthen Georgia’s security and democratic institutions.

A seasoned leader, Garibashvili's other top priority is finishing what he started in his first term as Prime Minister – implementing the Association Agreement with the EU and finalizing Georgia's application to become a full member of the EU. Garibashvili announced that the cabinet is working on a roadmap that will unify all the reforms required for EU integration.

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Papua New Guinea's 'father of the nation' dies.

Papua New Guinea’s first prime minister, Michael Somare, has died aged 84, his daughter said on Friday 26 Feb 2021.

He was known as the “father of the nation” because he led the Pacific archipelago to independence from Australia in 1975. He had served as the prime minister of the country four times, between 1975 to 2011, and has been the longest-serving prime minister (17 years).

Prior to independence, Somare was the chief minister of the Australian-administered territory of Papua New Guinea. 

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Yusuf Pathan announces retirement from all forms of cricket.

Former India all-rounder, Yusuf Pathan has announced his retirement from all formats of cricket. He played 57 ODIs and 22 T20Is for India since making his international debut in 2007. He was part of the Indian team that won the ICC T20 World Cup 2007 and ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. He scored 810 ODI runs and 236 T20I runs for India. He also picked up 46 wickets in limited-overs international cricket.

Yusuf played 100 first-class matches, scoring 4825 runs and picking up 201 wickets. In List A cricket, the right-handed batsman accumulated 4797 runs and got 124 wickets from 199 matches. He last played for India in an ODI against South Africa at Johannesburg in March 2012.

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Russian supermodel Vodianova is new UN goodwill ambassador.

The UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, on Wednesday 24 Feb 2021 appointed supermodel, philanthropist, and impact investor Natalia Vodianova as its newest Goodwill Ambassador, in an effort to empower women and girls, including fighting stigma surrounding menstruation.

She will be a Goodwill Ambassador to promote the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls and tackle stigmas surrounding their bodies. 

Also a campaigner for the UN Population Fund, which now calls itself the UN”s sexual and reproductive health agency, known as UNFPA.

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R. Vinay Kumar announces retirement from all forms of cricket.

Former India international and Karnataka captain, R Vinay Kumar has announced retirement from all forms of cricket. The “Davangere Express” after running for 25 years and passing so many stations of cricketing life, has finally arrived at the station called retirement.

Vinay, a medium-pacer, represented India in one Test, 31 ODIs and 9 T20Is between 2010 and 2013. Vinay retires as a domestic giant of Indian cricket having taken 504 first-class wickets in 139 matches that included 26 five-wicket hauls and five 10-wicket hauls in a match.With the bat, he scored 3311 runs including two centuries and 17 half-centuries. In 141 List A matches, the 37-year-old took 225 wickets at 24.39 and scored 1198 runs including four half-centuries.

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The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) keeps Pakistan on grey list until June 2021.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Thursday decided to keep Pakistan on its 'grey list', with the country's status set to be reviewed next at an extraordinary plenary session in June 2021.

The announcement was made by FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer at a press briefing from Paris on the outcomes of the FATF's four-day virtual plenary meeting.

Pakistan has been on the Grey List since June 2018.

About the FATF:

The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF), also known by its French name, Groupe d'action financière (GAFI), is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. 

In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.

The objectives of FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. FATF is a "policy-making body" that works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas. FATF monitors progress in implementing its Recommendations through "peer reviews" ("mutual evaluations") of member countries.

Since 2000, FATF has maintained the FATF blacklist (formally called the "Call for action") and the FATF greylist (formally called the "Other monitored jurisdictions").

The FATF Secretariat is located at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Since November 2015, the FATF Secretariat has been led by the Executive Secretary David Lewis.

Currently the FATF has 39 Members.

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China's Lantern Festival 2021.

Celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, the Lantern Festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) period. It's Friday, February 26 in 2021.

People will go out to look at the moon, send up flying lanterns, fly bright drones, have a meal, and enjoy time together with family and friends in parks and natural areas.

The Lantern Festival is on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month (always between February 5 and March 7). Accordingly, in 2021, the Chinese Lantern Festival will fall on Friday, February 26.

Lantern Festival Facts:

  • Popular Chinese name: 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ 'first night festival'
  • Alternative Chinese name: 上元节 Shàngyuánjié /shung-ywen-jyeah/ 'first first festival'
  • Date: Lunar calendar month 1 day 15 (Feburary 26, 2021)
  • Importance: ends the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)
  • Celebrations: enjoying lanterns, lantern riddles, eating tangyuan a.k.a. yuanxiao (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc.
  • History: about 2,000 years
  • Greeting: Happy Lantern Festival! 元宵节快乐!Yuánxiāojié kuàilè! /ywen-sshyaoww-jyeah kwhy-luh/


Italy holds state funeral for slain Congo ambassador and bodyguard.

Italy on Thursday 25 Feb 2021 held a state funeral on Thursday for its ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and his bodyguard killed in an ambush that a cardinal said should prompt everyone to “hear the cry” of a people devastated by violence.

Luca Attanasio, 43, and Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, were shot dead after being kidnapped while travelling in a United Nations’ World Food Programme convoy to visit a school feeding project on Monday. WFP driver Mustapha Milambo was also killed.

The funeral, attended by Prime Minister Mario Draghi and other ministers, was held in the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs, a church used for religious services for national leaders and cultural figures.

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World Renouned Naturalist Sir David Attenborough gives stark warning on climate change to United Nations.

Climate change could, within a lifetime, destroy "entire cities and societies", Sir David Attenborough has told the UN Security Council.

"I don't envy the responsibility that this places on all of you," the naturalist said.

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Brisbane is the 'preferred host' for 2032 Olympics.

The Australian city of Brisbane is the "preferred host" for the 2032 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Wednesday 24 Feb 2021, in a move which officials said was designed to bring "stability" to the Games after the delay of the Tokyo 2020 edition.

IOC President Thomas Bach announced at a news conference that the Olympic governing body will enter a "targeted dialogue" with the Brisbane 2032 Committee and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) over their potential to host the 2032 Games.

Under a new selection process for the Games approved in 2019, a candidate city is designated as "preferred host" following the start of "targeted dialogue." The city's bid must still be approved by an IOC vote.

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Joe Biden nominates Indian-American lawyer to head Office of Personnel Management.

US President Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American lawyer and rights activist Kiran Ahuja to head the Office of Personnel Management, a federal agency that manages America’s more than two million civil servants.

If confirmed by the Senate, 49-year-old Ahuja, would become the first Indian-American to serve this top position in the US government.

Ahuja served as the Chief of Staff to Director of the US Office of Personnel Management from 2015 to 2017. She has more than two decades of public service and nonprofit/philanthropic sector leadership experience.

Ahuja currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Philanthropy Northwest, a regional network of philanthropic institutions.

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Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered reinstatement of Parliament.

Nepal’s Supreme Court has ordered the reinstatement of Parliament, which was dissolved in December last year – a ruling that is likely to thrust the Himalayan nation into a political crisis.

Monday’s 22 Feb 2021 court order came in response to several cases filed with the court charging that Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve the legislature was unconstitutional. 

A five member constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana annulled the government's decision to dissolve the House of Representatives on the 20th of December 2020.

The court said a meeting of the reinstated Parliament must be called within 13 days.

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Elon Musk loses world's richest title as Tesla falters

Tesla boss Elon Musk has lost his title as the world's richest person after a recent slide in the electric carmaker's shares, the main driver of his wealth.

Tesla shares have tumbled more than 20% since hitting a high of more than $880 in early January.

They suffered especially steep falls this week, tied to the firm's recent risky $1.5bn (£1bn) investment in Bitcoin.

The drop returned Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to the top spot on the rich list.

The risk of being associated with the notoriously volatile Bitcoin - which has fallen sharply in recent days - may have prompted some Tesla investors to sell their shares, even if the firm has not been hurt by the declines, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said.

"By Musk and Tesla aggressively embracing Bitcoin... investors are starting to tie Bitcoin and Tesla at the hip," he said.

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Facebook and Google 'too powerful' says watchdog boss.

Tech giants Google and Facebook have too great a share of the UK online advertising market, the boss of the UK's competition watchdog has said.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) would like regulatory changes to deal with that market dominance, its boss Andrea Coscelli told the BBC.

Google and Facebook have faced criticism from competition and other regulators in the past.

Facebook said it faces "significant competition" online from rival firms.

Google has also been approached for comment by the BBC.

When questioned by the BBC's media editor Amol Rajan, Mr Coscelli said that the two tech giants have a "duopoly" in the UK when it comes to digital advertising, which can often be bad for competition.

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Facebook, Instagram place immediate ban on military.

Social media giant Facebook has banned Myanmar's military and its affiliates from its platforms.

The company said it acted after deciding "the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] on Facebook and Instagram are too great".

The military has used Facebook to boost its claim of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

More than half of Myanmar's 54 million people use Facebook, which for many is synonymous with the internet.

Facebook had just days earlier already banned the military's main page for breaching its guidelines following the 01 February coup.

Since the military seized power, it has arrested protesters, ordered internet blackouts and also banned social media platforms - including Facebook.

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Australia passes new media law that will require Google, Facebook to pay for news.

Australia has passed a new law that will require digital platforms like Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets and publishers to link their content on news feeds or in search results.

The move was widely expected and comes days after the government introduced some last-minute amendments to the proposed bill, known officially as the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

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Cocaine 'worth billions' seized in record Germany and Belgium haul.

Customs authorities in Germany and Belgium have seized a record amount of cocaine - more than 23 tonnes - that was destined for the Netherlands.

German officials discovered 16 tonnes in five shipping containers that had arrived in the port of Hamburg from Paraguay earlier this month.

Police in the Netherlands were notified and a further 7.2 tonnes of cocaine was seized at the Belgian port of Antwerp.

German officials said the cocaine had a street value of billions of euros.

A 28-year-old man suspected of involvement in the trafficking of the drugs has been arrested in the Netherlands, Dutch police said.

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India was second most targeted Asian Country for Cyber Attacks in 2020.

India was the second most targeted country when it comes to cyberattacks in Asia according to a report by IBM. Last year, a report by Niti Aayog suggested that phishing and social engineering account for 57% of the attacks followed by malware attacks, DoS and ransomware. 

It was also reported that the majority of the attacks came from China and other countries such as Russia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Vietnam and North Korea. Ransomware usually involves stealing, encrypting and using threats to leak personal data unless the ransom isn’t paid. 

The most common form of ransomware used is called “Sodinokibi” where it exploits an Oracle WebLogic vulnerability to gain access to the victim’s hardware. The ransomware then tries to execute itself by elevating user rights so that it can access all files and resources on the system. The ransomware also has the ability to wipe out all files in the backup folder as well. So far, it is estimated that Sodinokibi has stolen around 21TB of data and leaked about 43% of the data. The group has managed to successfully earn $123 million in the past year according to IBM's 2021 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index.

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Spacecraft Named in Honor of Black Woman ‘hidden Figures’ Mathematician.

A space supply ship, Cygnus NG-15 cargo dubbed as ‘S.S. Katherine Johnson has been named in honour of Katherine Johnson, a Black NASA mathematician, who played a critical role in the success of the first U.S. crewed spaceflight, Mercury-Atlas 6 Mission. The S.S. Katherine Johnson arrived on February 22, 2021, and will be at the International Space Station until May 2021. 

Cygnus NG-15 cargo:

A Northrop Grumman-built Cygnus cargo ship, a space supply ship, was launched by NASA on February 20, 2021, from Virginia to carry vital supplies for astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The launch coincided with the 59th anniversary of America’s first orbit around the Earth. On 20 February 1962, astronaut John Glenn, became the first American to orbit Earth.

The space supply ship carried more than 8,200 lbs. (3,719 kilograms) of cargo including scientific equipment, fresh food and supplies, new hardware and spacewalk equipment for the seven astronauts onboard the International Space Station.

About Katherine Johnson:

Mrs Johnson was a pioneering mathematician known for her hand-written calculations. She helped astronaut John Glenn, to become the first American to orbit Earth, after personally verifying his Mercury missions’ orbital trajectory calculations. Her contributions were also featured in the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures.


26 February 2021

Jasmine Harrison from UK becomes youngest woman to row Atlantic Ocean

A British woman, Jasmine Harrison of England has become the youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The 21-year-old from Thirsk, North Yorkshire in the UK, achieved the feat by finishing top in the 2020 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, organized by Atlantic Campaigns.

Buy Prime Test Series for all Banking, SSC, Insurance & other examHarrison, who is a swim instructor and bartender by profession, travelled 3,000 miles (4,828km) across the Atlantic Ocean in 70 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes. Harrison began her journey in Spain’s Canary Islands on December 12, 2020, and arrived in Antigua on February 20, 2021.

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25 February 2021

Apple buys a company every three to four weeks.

Apple has acquired about 100 companies over the last six years, the company’s chief executive Tim Cook has revealed.

That works out at a company every three to four weeks, he told Apple’s annual meeting of shareholders on Tuesday 23 Feb 2021.

Apple recently delivered its largest quarter by revenue of all time, bringing in $111.4bn (£78.7bn) in the first-quarter of its fiscal year 2021.

Mr Cook told the shareholders meeting that the acquisitions are mostly aimed at acquiring technology and talent.

Apple's largest acquisition in the last decade was its $3bn purchase of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker founded by rapper and producer Dr Dre.

Another high profile purchase was music recognition software company Shazam, for $400m in 2018.

Most often, Apple buys smaller technology firms and then incorporates their innovations into its own products.

One example is PrimeSense, an Israeli 3D sensing company whose technology contributed to Apple’s FaceID.

Apple has also invested in back-end technology that wouldn’t be so obvious to iPhone or Macbook users.

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Core Group on Sri Lanka to present resolution at United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session.

British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Sara Hulton says the Core Group on Sri Lanka plans to take forward a further resolution to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka at the upcoming Human Rights Council Session.

The statement issued by the Core Group – consisting of UK, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi and Montenegro – stressed that there is an ‘ongoing importance’ of addressing Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council.


Cabinet nod to gazette Wild Elephant Management Reserve.

The Cabinet of Ministers has granted their contest for the combined resolution to publish the government gazette on the proposed Wild Elephant Management Reserve in Hambantota.

The combined resolution was tabled by the Minister of Irrigation and the Minister of Wildlife Conservation.

The habitats and wildlife corridors of wild elephants and other animal species have been severely affected by the accelerated development projects that are underway in Hambantota District. Owing to these circumstances, the human-elephant conflict in those areas is intensifying day by day.

As a solution, the Department of Wildlife Conservation had taken the initial steps to declare an elephant management reserve for elephants and other wildlife subsequent to confirmation through research on the spread of migration routes of the elephants.

Accordingly, a land in extent of 23,746.55 hectares belonging to the Department of Forest Conservation and Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority was identified for the proposed reserve.

The gazette notification containing the guidelines and regulations required for the purpose have been drafted with the agreement of both Forest Conservation Department and Mahaweli Authority.

Said gazette notification will be published obtaining the agreement of Legal Draftsman, Department of Government Information said.


Novak Djokovic's 09th Australian Open Title.

Novak Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 to win the 2021 Australian Open -- his ninth in Melbourne and his 18th Grand Slam title overall.

Djokovic now has nine Australian Open titles, extending his men's tournament record. The victory takes Djokovic's grand slam singles tally to 18, just two behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

In men's doubles, Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek won the title on 21 Feb 2021. This was their first Grand Slam as a team.

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Pakistan to register Himalayan pink salt as Geographical Indications (GI).

Pakistan has decided to register Himalayan pink salt as Geographical Indications (GI) to prevent its unauthorised use by other countries.

A GI Tag is a sign used on products that has a specific geographical origin and possess origin based qualities and reputation in the region.

The precious salt is extracted from the Salt Range in Punjab which extends along the south of the Potohar Plateau and the north of the Jhelum River.

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China regains as India's top trade partner.

China has regained its position as India's top trading partner despite a decaying relationship between the Asian neighbours.

The two countries were involved in a bloody border conflict last year and saw India ban 220 Chinese tech apps.

Two-way trade between the long-standing economic and strategic Asian rivals stood at $77.7bn (£55.2bn) last year.

Although this figure was lower than the previous year's $85.5bn total, it was enough to make China India's largest commercial partner, according to provisional data from Delhi's commerce ministry.

Total imports from China stood at $58.7bn, which were more than India's combined purchases from the US and UAE - its second and third largest trade partners.

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ASUS launches its first-ever exclusive store in Sri Lanka.

ASUS Sri Lanka – the renowned multinational technology enterprise – has launched its maiden exclusive store in the heart of Colombo; the very first in the country.

The store is conveniently and centrally located in Unity Plaza – the only shopping complex in Sri Lanka that is solely dedicated for IT and IT-related solutions – and hosts an extensive range of electronics, computer hardware and peripherals including the ASUS ZenBook series, VivoBook series, Gaming series, and products for commercial, enterprise and corporate customers as well.

The store was inaugurated on February 23 by Ishkey Irshard – Country Sales Manager of ASUS Sri Lanka and Wasantha Dinuwan – Director and Proprietor of Unity Systems Solutions, where ASUS’ latest range of products were also showcased.


24 February 2021

Makhtar Diop Appointed as International Finance Corporation (IFC) Managing Director and Executive Vice President.

World Bank Group President David Malpass today announced the appointment of Makhtar Diop as Managing Director and Executive Vice President to head the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank Group that advances economic development and improves the lives of people by encouraging growth of the private sector in developing countries.

Diop, a Senegalese national and former Minister of Economy and Finance, is currently serving as the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure, where he leads the Bank’s global efforts to build effective infrastructure in developing and emerging markets that supports inclusive and sustainable growth. In this role Diop oversees the Bank’s critical work across energy and transport sectors, digital development, and our efforts to bring more quality infrastructure services to communities through public-private partnerships.

Prior to his current appointment, Diop served for six years as the World Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region, where he oversaw a major expansion of our work in Africa and the delivery of a record-breaking $70 billion in commitments. A passionate advocate for Africa and sustainable development globally, Diop led efforts aimed at increasing access to affordable and sustainable energy and promoting an enabling environment for innovation and technology adoption.

Diop served twice as a World Bank Country Director -- for Brazil and for Kenya, Eritrea, and Somalia. He has a strong grasp of the public/private sector interface, started his career in the banking sector, and has first-hand experience in leading structural reforms in support of the private sector, including in his position as the Minister of Economy and Finance of Senegal. Diop worked as an economist in the International Monetary Fund. And he served as the World Bank Director for Finance, Private Sector & Infrastructure in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

A recognized opinion leader in development, Makhtar has been named one of the 100 most influential Africans in the world. In 2015, he received the prestigious Regents’ Lectureship Award from the University of California, Berkeley. He holds advanced degrees in economics and finance.   

This appointment is effective March 1, 2021.

Source: www.worldbank.org


Deepika Padukone, Akshay Kumar bag Dadasaheb Phalke Awards.

Bollywood superstars Deepika Padukone and Akshay Kumar bagged Dadasaheb Phalke Awards for 'Best Actor' in the prestigious award ceremony held on Saturday 20 Feb 2021. 

Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone and Akshay Kumar bagged the 'Best Actor' award for their acclaimed performances in notable movies 'Chhapaak' and 'Laxmii'. 

Kiara Advani won the 'Critic's Best Actress' award to Sushmita Sen who won 'Best Actress-Web Series'.

Deepika who played the protagonist in the film also marked her debut as a producer with this film. Helmed by director Meghna Gulzar, the film is based on the real-life acid attack survivor Laxmi, who at the age of 15, was attacked allegedly by a spurned lover in 2005. 

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Elon Musk loses world's richest title as Tesla falters.

Tesla boss Elon Musk has lost his title as the world's richest person after a recent slide in the electric carmaker's shares, the main driver of his wealth.

Tesla shares have tumbled more than 20% since hitting a high of more than $880 in early January.

They suffered especially steep falls this week, tied to the firm's recent risky $1.5bn (£1bn) investment in Bitcoin.

The drop returned Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to the top spot on the rich list.

The risk of being associated with the notoriously volatile Bitcoin - which has fallen sharply in recent days - may have prompted some Tesla investors to sell their shares, even if the firm has not been hurt by the declines, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said.

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US President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meet virtually.

President Joe Biden held first his first bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday 23 Feb 2021, with the two leaders convening virtually due to the current pandemic.

After the virtual meeting, Mr. Biden and Trudeau made a statement expressing the commitment between the two nations. The two world leaders unveiled a "U.S.-Canada Partnership roadmap" detailing that commitment on issues like combatting current pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, bolstering continental defense and strengthening global alliances. 

During their meeting, Trudeau told Mr. Biden that "U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past year" — a not-so-cryptical nod to former President Trump's relationship with Canada and the western world. 

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Hillary Clinton to publish State of Terror novel.

Hillary Clinton has written her first novel, a thriller featuring a US government "dangerously out of touch" amid a series of terror attacks.

State of Terror, which follows a novice secretary of state, will be released on 12 October 2021.

Mrs Clinton, a former presidential hopeful, secretary of state and first lady, penned the book in partnership with author Louise Penny.

It explores a world of "high stakes diplomacy and treachery" she said.

The novel's protagonist has "joined the administration of her rival, a president inaugurated after four years of American leadership that shrank from the world stage".

It features a series of terrorist attacks which throws the global order into disarray, and the secretary is tasked with assembling a team to "unravel the deadly conspiracy".

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Motera becomes the world's largest cricket stadium.

The Motera stadium, the biggest cricket stadium in the world, was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind, and was renamed the Narendra Modi Stadium.

Players from India and England have been admiring the refurbished Motera - the world's largest cricket stadium.

The teams are playing the third Test match in the ongoing series at the stadium in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in India's western state of Gujarat. Both teams have won a Test each in the four-match series.

Players from both teams trained at the newly-built stadium, which can seat 110,000 spectators. But only 55,000 fans will be allowed in the two Tests to be played at the venue due to pandemic restrictions.

The stadium was first opened in the early 1980s but has recently been rebuilt and now has a seating capacity of 110,000.

Motera currently is the biggest cricket stadium in the world in terms of capacity. The last time when India played a cricket match at Motera was way back in 2014.

This day-night pink ball Test, which started on Wednesday 24 Feb 2021, is the first international match hosted at the stadium since November 2015 when it was demolished for reconstruction work.

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OCTOPUS ENERGY - The billion pound company with NO HR department.

Greg Jackson is the founder and CEO of Octopus Energy, a UK start-up valued at more than £1.4bn ($2bn), selling green energy. Despite now having more than 1,200 employees, he says he has no interest in traditional things like human resources (HR) and information technology (IT) departments.

There is a tendency for large companies to "infantilise" their employees and "drown creative people in process and bureaucracy", says Jackson.

HR and IT departments don't make employees happier or more productive in his experience, he says.

Octopus Energy was set up in 2015, specialising in renewable energy for households. It has enjoyed huge growth, taking on the "big six" traditional energy firms, and now supplies more than 1.9 million homes in the UK and is expanding into other countries with its proprietary, energy-managing software.

It is now valued at more than £1.4bn ($2bn) by private investors, with permanent staff owning 5% of its shares.

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Carmaker Ford has said, by 2030 all its vehicles in the form of electric within Europe Region.

Carmaker Ford has said its passenger vehicle line-up in Europe will be all-electric by 2030.

By the middle of 2026, all its cars will be available as electric or hybrid models, it added.

It joins a growing list of car brands cutting petrol and diesel production, including Jaguar and Bentley.

European regulators are clamping down on emissions, with countries including UK planning to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel motors.

Ford said it would spend $1bn (£720m) updating its factory in Cologne, with the aim of producing a mass-market electric vehicle by 2023.

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Sri Lanka, Pakistan explore possibilities to promtoe trade & investment.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have explored possibilities for promoting trade and expanding investment opportunities between the two countries, says the President’s Media Division (PMD).

One-on-one bilateral talks between the two leaders began at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (February 24).

PM Imran Khan, who is in Sri Lanka for a two-day official visit, was received by Secretary to President P.B. Jayasundera and Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage upon his arrival at the Presidential Secretariat.

Further, the two heads of state have looked into ways to exchange technical expertise for promotion of agriculture in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

They noted that their objective is to boost the agricultural economy in a way that provides higher income for farmers and fair prices for the consumers.

PM Khan observed that the agricultural economy in Pakistan is similar to that of Sri Lanka.

President Rajapaksa has invited the people of Pakistan to visit Sri Lanka with the current pandemic subsiding.

He further shared his views on the measures that need to be taken to promote tourism in the two nations.

The two leaders have engaged in a lengthy discussion on improving bilateral relations. Visiting Pakistani PM was of the view that the dialogue was very fruitful.

Pakistani Foreign Affairs Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Secretary Foreign Affairs Sohail Mehmood, Pakistani High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Maj. Gen. (Retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak attended the meeting alongside PM Imran Khan.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC., Secretary to President P.B. Jayasundera, Presidential advisor Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage were also present during the discussion.

Source: www.pmdnews.lk


Ghana becomes first country to receive Covid vaccine through COVAX program.

Ghana has become the first country to receive Covid-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization's COVAX program on Wednesday, a joint statement issued by UNICEF Ghana and WHO Ghana said.

The shipment, consisting of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines, arrived at 7 am GMT Wednesday on an Emirates flight at Kotoka International Airport, in Ghana's capital Accra.

The minister for health-designate, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, led a government delegation to receive the consignment.

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