31 December 2021

Minimum age of sale for tobacco products to be raised to 24.

The minimum age of sale, purchasing and promotion of tobacco products will be increased from 21 to 24 next year, Chairman of National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa said.

He told the media that the relevant changes would come into effect as they had decided to amend the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act in 2022.

Moreover, Dr Rajapaksa said they had removed all the advertisements related to tobacco products circulating on the internet including social media.

The National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act, passed in 2006, is the law governing tobacco control in Sri Lanka.

The comprehensive law includes measures relating to restrictions on smoking in public places; packaging and labeling requirements; tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; establishment of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol; and offenses and penalties.

Source: www.dailymirror.lk

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Ross Taylor announces international retirement.

Ross Taylor has announced he will retire from international cricket at the end of the current home season with the upcoming series against Bangladesh being his last Test cricket before he finishes with the ODIs against Australia and Netherlands.

Taylor, 37, currently has 110 Test caps and is New Zealand's leading run-scorer in both that format and ODIs.

He made his international debut in an ODI against West Indies in March 2006 before playing his first Test against South Africa in November 2007. His top score of 290 came against Australia in Perth.

Taylor, who was at the crease alongside Kane Williamson when New Zealand secured the World Test Championship earlier this year, had previously spoken about making the 2023 World Cup but has decided now is the time to call it a day and not be available for the South Africa Tests later in the season.

New Zealand are due to tour Australia for three ODIs from late January then play Netherlands back at home.

He is also the first cricketer to play 100 matches in all three formats.  

Source: www.espncricinfo.com

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Quinton de Kock announces retirement from Test Cricket.

Quinton de Kock has announced a sudden retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect "to spend more time with his growing family". de Kock was due to miss the second and third Tests against India on paternity leave but has decided to step away from the longest format entirely. He remains available to play white-ball cricket for South Africa.

De Kock, 29, began 2021 as South Africa's temporary Test captain and ended it by retiring from the format. 

The announcement came after South Africa's first test match against India in Centurion, where India won by 113 runs.

Quinton de Kock made his Test debut against Australia in Gqeberha in 2014.

In 54 matches, he scored 3300 runs with a high score of 141 not out , at an average of 38.82.

Source: www.espncricinfo.com

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Japan introduced the world’s 1st Dual-Mode Vehicle.

Japan has introduced a minibus lookalike world’s first dual-mode vehicle (DMV) in its town of Kaiyo. The vehicle can run on normal rubber tyres on the road but its steel wheels, which are in its underbelly, descend when it hits the rail tracks. The DMV can carry up to 21 passengers and runs at a speed of 60km/h on rail tracks and can go as fast as around 100km/h on public roads.

The front tyres are lifted off the track and the rear wheels stay down to propel the DMV onto the railway. This feature of effectively changing into a train-like module easily on a rail track is the first of its kind. Powered by diesel, the small fleet of vehicles comes in different colours. It runs along part of the coast of Shikoku island in southern Japan, connecting several small towns and offering passengers attractive seaside scenery.

Source: www.dailynews.lk

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J.D. Crowe, Influential Bluegrass Musician, Dies at 84.

Grammy-winning bluegrass musician J.D. Crowe, whose influential career spanned more than 50 years, has died. He was 84.

His son, David, confirmed the death on Saturday (Dec. 25) to The Associated Press.

Born James Dee Crowe in 1937, his career included stints with Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys, Mac Wiseman and his own band, the Kentucky Mountain Boys, which later became the New South.

Crowe won a Grammy award in 1983 for best country instrumental performance for his song "Fireball".

Source: www.billboard.com

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Harbhajan Singh announces retirement from all forms of cricket.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Friday announced retirement from all forms of competitive cricket.

The 41-year-old from Punjab took 417 wickets in 103 Tests, 269 wickets in 236 ODIs and 25 scalps in 28 T20Is in his illustrious career. In the IPL across 13 seasons for Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, and Kolkata Knight Riders, he has scalped 150 wickets in 163 matches.

Harbhajan, who made his India debut during an ODI against New Zealand at Sharjah in 1998, last played for the country in March, 2016 during a T20I against the UAE at Dhaka.

Harbhajan was an integral member of the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ODI World Cup winning team.

Source: https://indianexpress.com

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30 December 2021

Pakistan conducts successful test launch of Babur cruise missile 1B.

Pakistan conducted a successful test of an enhanced range version of the indigenously developed Babur Cruise Missile 1B.

The test launch was witnessed by Lieutenant General Nadeem Zaki Manj, Director General Strategic Plans Division Dr Raza Samar, Chairman NESCOM Lieutenant General Muhammad Ali, Commander Army Strategic Force Command, senior officers from Strategic Plans Division, Strategic Forces, scientists and engineers of strategic organizations.

Director-General, Strategic Plans Division, congratulated the scientists and engineers on achieving excellence in cruise missile technology and expressed confidence that this test will strengthen Pakistan’s strategic deterrence.

President, Prime Minister, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Services Chiefs congratulated the scientists and engineers on the conduct of successful launch. The last time, Pakistan tested Babur 1A Cruise Missile on the 10th of February this year. Babur Cruise Missile is capable of engaging targets at land and sea with high precision. The first version of the Babur Cruise Missile was inducted into the service of the Pakistan Army in 2010.

Source: www.thenews.com.pk

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Russia launches third and final Angara A5 demonstration mission.

Russia has launched its third and final demonstration flight of the Angara A5 rocket on Monday, December 27. Angara is being developed and built by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and is intended to replace several existing launch vehicles.

Angara attempted to place its 2,400 kg mass simulator in a near geostationary orbit (GEO) using a new Persei upper stage. After a few hours, the Persei upper stage was to perform two burns to place the payload in a graveyard orbit, a few hundred kilometers above GEO. Russian reports, however, suggest that Persei only reached an initial low Earth parking orbit before suffering an engine failure.

Source: www.nasaspaceflight.com

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Joan Didion, American journalist and author, dies at age 87.

Joan Didion, the eminent journalist, author and anthropologist of contemporary American politics and culture – a singularly clear, precise voice across a multitude of subjects for more than 60 years – has died at her home in Manhattan, New York. She was 87.

The cause of death was from complications to Parkinson’s disease, according to Paul Bogaards, an executive at Didion’s publisher Knopf.

Known for her pioneering blend of the personal and the political in her journalism and essays, Didion became a household name with her writing on US society.

Source: www.theguardian.com

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Japan launches Inmarsat-6 F1 Communications Satellite.

Japan has launched Inmarsat-6 F1, a communication satellite, through a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) H-IIA204 rocket from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center that will enter geostationary orbit, about 22,240 miles (35,790 kilometres) above the earth. It is developed by the London-based company Inmarsat as a part of its next-generation satellite broadband service. The satellite is 12,060-pound (5,470 kilograms) and is the first of two ‘I-6’ spacecraft.

Designated H-IIAF45, Inmarsat-6 F1 launch is Japan’s third orbital flight of 2021 and H-IIA’s second mission of the year, marking the 45th flight of the H-IIA vehicle overall.

It was the dual-payload satellite featuring both L-band (ELERA) and Ka-band (Global Xpress) and the world’s largest and most sophisticated commercial communications satellite ever launched.

H-IIA is Japan’s longest-serving liquid-fueled rocket (since 2001) and currently largest rocket operated by MHI for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Source: www.aerospace-technology.com

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Former England Test Captain Ray Illingworth passes away.

Former England captain, Ray Illingworth has passed away. He played 61 Tests for England between 1958 and 1973 and captained the country 31 times, winning 12 matches and an Ashes series in Australia in 1970. He was an all-rounder who scored 1,836 Test runs at an average of 23.24 and claimed 122 wickets with his off-spin bowling at 31.20. He was chairman of the England selectors between 1993 and 1996 and coached the team in 1995-96.

Source: www.mid-day.com

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86.7 km long Bibile-Chenkaladi road vested with the public.

The Bibile-Chenkaladi Road, stretching over 86.7 kilometers on the A5 Road, was vested with the public on December 28, under the patronage of Highways Minister Johnston Fernando.

This stretch of road is part of the Badulla-Chenkaladi Road Improvement Project (BCRIP).

The BCRIP project will rehabilitate 151.3 km of the A-5 Peradeniya-Badulla-Chenkaladi Road, and is expected to improve road safety, facilitate access to markets, social services, and job opportunities.

It was initiated to improve connectivity among Eastern, Uva and Central provinces.

The feasibility study for this project was conducted in 2014.

The stretch of road from Bibile to Chenkaladi was developed by two local construction companies, under three phases; 29km from Bibile to Padiyatalawa, 30km from Padiyatalawa to Tampitiya and 27.7km from Tampitiya to Chenkaladi.

It was built at a cost of Rs. 7,200 million and was funded by the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD).

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Suresh Subramaniam re-elected National Olympic Committee president.

Suresh Subramaniam has been re-elected as the President of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) for the period of 2022 to 2026.

The NOCSL election to select new office bearers was held at the Olympic House in Colombo on December 28.

Subramaniam and President of Sri Lanka Athletics Maj. Gen. Palitha Fernando vied for the top post of NOCSL, and received 28 and 12 votes, respectively.

Subramaniam was first elected as the NOCSL president in the 2018 election.

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Sri Lanka crowned champions of Central Asian Volleyball Challenge.

Sri Lanka clinched the Bangabandhu Asian Central Zone Men’s Volleyball Challenge Cup beating hosts Bangladesh in straight sets in the final at the Shaheed Suhrawardy National Indoor Stadium in Mirpur on Tuesday 28 December 2021. 

Sri Lanka thus emerged champions winning 28-26, 25-20 and 25-20 points. 

Bangladesh, playing their third successive final in the competition, failed to repeat their performance lifting the trophy in 2018.

Bangladesh had moved into the final of the tournament with a thrilling 3-2 sets (21-25, 25-14, 24-26, 25-13, 15-13) win over Uzbekistan in their last group match at the Shaheed Suhrawardi Indoor Stadium in Mirpur today 28th.

The hosts lost the first set but bounced back and finally managed to edge the Central Asian nation to register their third win in four matches. 

Source: https://island.lk

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Bhutan confers its highest civilian award on Indian Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been conferred with the highest civilian award of Bhutan, Ngadag Pel gi Khorlo, on the occasion of the country’s National Day.

Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering shared on social media that he was overjoyed to hear His Majesty pronounce Prime Minister Modi’s name for the highest civilian decoration of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

He also wished his countrymen as they celebrate the 114th National Day of Bhutan which commemorates the Coronation of His Majesty the First King of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck on December 17, 1907.

Source: https://indianexpress.com

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Elon Musk says SpaceX will land humans on Mars within 5 to 10 years.

Elon Musk during a recent interview with podcaster Lex Fridman said that in the worst case scenario, it’ll be roughly a decade before SpaceX is able to land a human being on Mars. A key limiting factor today, however, is money: it's simply too expensive to send anyone to the Red Planet right now.

About a half hour into the interview, Fridman asked Musk when he thinks SpaceX would land a human on the Red Planet. After a more than 20-second delay to think about it, Musk said the best case would be about five years and the worst case would be closer to 10 years. However by 2050, Musk hopes to have a million people on Mars.

Source: www.techspot.com

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Somalia's President suspends PM Mohamed Hussein Roble.

Somalian Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble has been suspended. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has suspended the Prime Minister, who is facing allegations of involvement in the theft of land. Mohamed Roble accused the President of trying to stage a coup and said, he would continue in office. He urged the security forces to take orders from him rather than Mr Farmajo. The term of Farmajo officially ended in February but was extended because of disagreements over how to choose a new incumbent.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the overthrow of long-serving ruler Siad Barre in 1991. The country is marred by disputes between rival politicians and clans. It is also battling an insurgency by al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

Source: www.mercurynews.com

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29 December 2021

‘He-Man’ artist and toy designer Mark Taylor passes away.

Mark Taylor, artist and toy designer for the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe franchise as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, passed away. 

Taylor began his career with Mattel in 1976 as a packaging designer. He-man was the muscled frontman for toy manufacturer Mattel’s Masters of the Universe franchise. 

He-Man was the epitome of a hulking superhero warrior but also became an icon within the LGBTQ+ community.

Source: www.mercurynews.com

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Former Greek President Karolos Papoulias passes away.

Veteran Greek politician Karolos Papoulias, who served as president at the height of the economic crisis of the 2010s, died. Papoulias, a longtime socialist lawmaker and minister, was close to Andreas Papandreou, the founder of the Socialist PASOK party. He served two terms between 2005 and 2015.

Papoulias, who was also foreign minister in 1985-89 and 1993-96, was a high-ranking member of socialist PASOK party and a close associate of its late leader and former prime minister Andreas Papandreou.

Source: www.reuters.com

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UK court orders Dubai’s ruler to pay record divorce settlement.

The ruler of Dubai was on Tuesday ordered to pay his former wife and children around £550 million ($730 million) in what is thought to be the highest divorce settlement set by an English court.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum was told he must pay Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, a half-sister of Jordan's King Abdullah II, a lump sum of £251.5 million and provide a bank guarantee of £290 million to cover the children's maintenance and security as adults.

The 72-year-old ruler of the emirate of Dubai has been locked in a lengthy and bitter legal battle with his 47-year-old former wife, who lives in London with their two children, aged 13 and nine.

Judge Philip Moor said the massive settlement was partly to ensure security, due to the risk of the children's abduction by their father, who is also vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

The family "need water-tight security", the judge said, adding: "The main threat they face is from (Sheikh Mohammed) himself".

The High Court case has previously ruled that the sheikh authorised the use of spying software to hack his ex-wife's phones and that he had forcibly returned two of his elder daughters to Dubai.

Judge Moor said Tuesday's vast settlement was justified by the "exceptional wealth and remarkable standard of living enjoyed by these children during the marriage".

The Sheikh's spokesperson said afterwards that the Dubai ruler "has always ensured that his children are provided for" and "the court has now made its ruling on finances and he does not intend to comment further".

Previously the largest such settlement was approximately £450 million to Tatiana Akhmedova, the ex-wife of a Russian billionaire, in 2016.

Source: www.france24.com

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China launches new camera satellite with 5m resolution.

China has launched a new satellite with a camera capable of taking photos of the ground with a resolution of five meters, according to the National Space Administration of China (CNSA). The satellite, called “Ziyuan-1 02E” or “Five Meter 02 Optical Satellite”. Beijing time by a Long March-4C rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Beijing Province. Shanxi (northern China). This is the 39th launch of the Longue Marche-4C rocket and the 403rd launch of the entire Long March series.

The Ziyuan-1 02E weighs approximately 2.5 kilograms and is equipped with infrared, near-infrared and hyperspectral cameras. The cameras can take panchromatic color images of the Earth.

The satellite will work with the five-meter optical satellite 01 and will reduce the revisiting time of Chinese territory from three days to two days.

Images taken by the satellite duo will help engineers study China’s geological environment and search for minerals. People working in other fields such as transport, agriculture and disaster mitigation will also receive help through the images.

Source: https://waswc.org

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E.O. Wilson, Known as 'Father of Biodiversity,' passes away.

E.O. Wilson, the former Harvard University biologist and Pulitzer Prize winner whose study of ants and human behaviour made him one of the world’s most influential scientists and prompted his calls for action to protect millions of species on the planet, has passed away. He was 92. To protect Earth earned him the nickname “Darwin’s natural heir”.

Edward O. Wilson, was the pioneering Harvard biologist who argued for a new vision of human nature in “Sociobiology” and warned against the decline of ecosystems.

He was the author of hundreds of scientific papers and more than 30 books, two of which won him Pulitzer Prizes for nonfiction: 1978’s On Human Nature, and The Ants in 1990. The “father of biodiversity,” as Wilson was also known, attempted to unify the natural sciences with the humanities and said there was still time to reverse a “sixth extinction” of most species on the planet if environmental degradation was halted.

Source: www.wbur.org

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Iran nuclear talks resume with Tehran focused on sanctions relief.

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed on Monday with Tehran focused on one side of the original bargain, lifting sanctions against it, despite scant progress on reining in its atomic activities.

The seventh round of talks, the first under Iran's new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, ended 10 days ago after adding some new Iranian demands to a working text. Western powers said progress was too slow and negotiators had "weeks not months" left before the 2015 deal becomes meaningless.

Little remains of that deal, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities. Then-President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of it in 2018, re-imposing U.S. sanctions, and Iran later breached many of the deal's nuclear restrictions and kept pushing well beyond them.

He was speaking shortly after a meeting of the remaining parties to the deal - Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union - formally kicked off the round on Monday evening.

Source: www.reuters.com

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PM officially declares 2022 as ’Navalar Year’ for Tamils.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, today declared 2022 as the 'Navalar Year' after the 'Letter of Authorization for the Declaration' was handed over by him to senior Hindu officials from the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs.

Prime Minister's Coordinating Secretary and government's special facilitator to the North and East, Geethanath Cassilingham said this was declared in commemoration of the 200th birth anniversary of Hindu Leader Srila Sri Arumuganavalar Peruman who "dedicated his life for the religious harmony in Sri Lanka."

Two portraits of Srilasree Arumuganavalar Peruman published by the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs were also unveiled by Prime Minister Rajapaksa at the event held at Temple Trees.

Source: www.dailymirror.lk

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UNSC adopts resolution to provide aid to Afghanistan.

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution proposed by the United States that facilitates humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which is on the verge of economic collapse, while keeping funds out of the Taliban hands.

Such assistance supports “basic human needs in Afghanistan” and is “not a violation” of sanctions imposed on entities linked to the Taliban, it adds.

The international community has struggled over how to avert a humanitarian catastrophe amid an economic meltdown in Afghanistan since the Taliban swept back to power in mid-August, prompting the US to freeze $9.5bn in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank.

Source: www.aljazeera.com

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Israel plans to give fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

A government panel of experts in Israel has recommended a fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine for all people aged over 60 and healthcare workers.

The move was welcomed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who said it would help the country get through a potential wave of the Omicron variant.

The Israeli health ministry has so far confirmed 341 cases of Omicron.

The overall Covid-19 infection rate is also back on the rise, with 903 new cases recorded on Tuesday 21th.

Four deaths have also been reported in the past seven days, including that of a 68-year-old man who doctors suspected was infected with Omicron.

The government closed Israel's borders to foreign nationals last month in response to Omicron and has now forbidden Israeli citizens and permanent residents from travelling to more than 50 countries on a "red list", including the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and much of Africa.

Source: www.bbc.com

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FDA Approves First Injectable Treatment for HIV Pre-Exposure Prevention.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first ever injectable drug for HIV prevention on Dec. 20.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Apretude (cabotegravir extended-release injectable suspension) for use in at-risk adults and adolescents weighing at least 35 kilograms (77 pounds) for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV. 

Apretude is given first as two initiation injections administered one month apart, and then every two months thereafter. Patients can either start their treatment with Apretude or take oral cabotegravir (Vocabria) for four weeks to assess how well they tolerate the drug. 

Source: www.fda.gov

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Ecuador becomes first country to mandate Covid vaccines for children from age of 05.

Ecuador has become the first country to make Covid vaccines mandatory for children as young as five years. "In Ecuador, vaccination against Covid-19 is declared compulsory," the health ministry said in a statement. This comes in amid growing fears of the Omicron variant. 

Some 69 percent of Ecuador's population of 17.7 million people have received two vaccine doses to date, and 900,000 have received a third, booster dose.

Everyone from the age of five is eligible to be vaccinated.

Ecuador has registered nearly 540,000 coronavirus cases to date, and 33,600 deaths.

People with medical reasons for not getting the vaccine will be exempt from the mandatory jab, the ministry said.

It added the decision was founded in Ecuador's constitution, in which the right to health must be guaranteed by the State.

To combat a rise in new cases after the Omicron variant was first detected a week ago, Ecuador has made it compulsory to present a vaccine record for people to enter restaurants, shopping malls, cinemas, theaters and other public places.

Vaccination is mandatory in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Micronesia and New Caledonia, for adults.

Source: www.wionews.com

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The Human Freedom Index (HFI) - 2021.

The Human Freedom Index presents the state of human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom. Human freedom is a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals and is defined here as negative liberty or the absence of coercive constraint. Because freedom is inherently valuable and plays a role in human progress, it is worth measuring carefully. The Human Freedom Index is a resource that can help to more objectively observe relationships between freedom and other social and economic phenomena, as well as the ways in which the various dimensions of freedom interact with one another.

2021 INDEX

This seventh annual index uses 82 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas:

  • Rule of law
  • Security and safety
  • Movement
  • Religion
  • Association, assembly, and civil society
  • Expression and information
  • Relationships
  • Size of government
  • Legal system and property rights
  • Sound money
  • Freedom to trade internationally
  • Regulation
Sri Lanka ranked at 112th and Syrian Arab Republic is ranked at 165th as the least country. 

Top 10 Countries are;


Source: www.cato.org

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Global Health Security Index - 2021.

The 2021 GHS Index measures the capacities of 195 countries to prepare for epidemics and pandemics. All countries remain dangerously unprepared for future epidemic and pandemic threats, including threats potentially more devastating than COVID-19. 

Sri Lanka ranked at 105th and Somalia is ranked at 195th as the least country. 

Top 05 Countries are;

Source: www.ghsindex.org

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COVID vaccine card mandatory from January to enter public places.

The government of Sri Lanka has made the COVID-19 vaccination card mandatory to visit public places from January 01, 2022.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella announced this in a tweet posted today (Dec. 21).

Earlier this month, the Special Committee on COVID-19 Control decided to make the vaccination card mandatory as legal advice had been sought with regard to preventing the unvaccinated people from entering public places in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Source: www.adaderana.lk

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India refuses to renew foreign-funding licence for Mother Teresa’s charity.

The Indian government has rejected a request from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity to renew its licence to receive foreign donations under the country’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The charity was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950 in the Indian city of Kolkata to help the poor. Mother Teresa, who won the Nobel Prize in 1979, was named a Saint by the Vatican in September 2016, nineteen years after her death at the age of 87.

The Catholic organisation currently operates nearly 250 homes the destitute, orphans, and AIDS patients in India.

While Missionaries of Charity’s licence was valid up to 31 October, it was extended till 31 December along with other applications pending FCRA renewals. The MHA said that the renewal was refused due to “some adverse inputs that were noticed” while considering the charity’s application, but did not give further details.

Source: www.independent.co.uk


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Russia fines Google over illegal content breach

A Moscow court has fined Google 7.2bn roubles ($98m; £73m) for repeated failure to delete content deemed illegal in Russia.

Details of the offending content were not specified in the announcement by the court's press service.

This is the first time in Russia that a technology giant has been hit with a fine based on their annual turnover.

Google told AFP news agency that it would study the court ruling before deciding on further steps.

Russian authorities have increased pressure on tech firms this year, accusing them of not moderating their content properly, and interfering in the country's internal affairs.

Hours after the Google verdict was announced, a 2bn rouble fine was handed to Meta, the parent company of Facebook, for similar content-related offences.

Source: www.bbc.com

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Vikum Kaluarachchi sworn in as new Court of Appeal Judge.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday 24th December 2021,  swore in Vikum Kaluarachchi as a new Judge of the Court of Appeal (CA).

He will fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of CA Justice Devika Abeyratne.

A past pupil of Royal College, Colombo, Justice Vikum Athula Kaluarachchi graduated from the Sri Lanka Law College.

His legal career spans 33 years, 27 of which was spent as a judicial officer, serving as Magistrate, District Judge, High Court Judge and a Judge of the High Court of Civil Appeal. Justice Kaluarachchi was also the senior-most High Court Judge in the country, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

Source: www.sundaytimes.lk

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28 December 2021

Canadian Filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée dies.

Jean-Marc Vallée, the director of the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club and HBO hit show Big Little Lies, died at his home in Quebec City, Canada at the age of 58. 

Vallée helmed numerous short films before his critically-acclaimed 1995 debut feature Liste Noir (Black List). While 2009’s The Young Victoria, a biopic about Queen Victoria, earned three Academy Award nominations, it was Vallée’s work on the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club that earned him international acclaim.

According to the New York Times, Vallée had been planning on directing Gorilla and the Bird, a series based on a memoir of Zack McDermott, a former public defender who has a psychotic break.

Source: www.rollingstone.com

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World economy to top $100 trillion in 2022 for first time.

The world's economic output will exceed $100 trillion for the first time next year and it will take China a little longer than previously thought to overtake the United States as the No.1 economy, a report showed.

British consultancy Cebr predicted China will become the world's top economy in dollar terms in 2030, two years later than forecast in last year's World Economic League Table report.

India looks set to overtake France next year and then Britain in 2023 to regain its place as the world's sixth biggest economy, Cebr said.

The report showed Germany was on track to overtake Japan in terms of economic output in 2033. Russia could become a Top 10 economy by 2036 and Indonesia looks on track for ninth place in 2034.

Source: www.reuters.com

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International Day of Epidemic Preparedness - 27 December.

Battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, humans have learned about epidemic preparedness the hard way. In a bid to prepare for future outbreaks and sensitise people about epidemics on all levels, the United Nations and World Health Organization marked December 27 as the International day for Epidemic Preparedness.

The day was first observed last December when the United Nations General Assembly had emphasised on the need to advocate the importance of the preparedness for, prevention of and partnership against epidemics.

According to the United Nations, it is necessary to learn lessons on epidemic management and apply those to strengthen epidemic prevention in order to have the most adequate response for any future adversity. It also underscores the significance of solidarity and partnership among every international organisation, and even every community and individual to combat a pestilence like Covid-19.

Source: www.un.org

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A Japanese professor has created a lickable TV screen.

Japanese Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita has created a lickable TV screen that can imitate the flavors of the food it displays.

A Japanese professor has developed a prototype of a lickable TV screen, that allows for the flavor profiles of food to be created. With this device, all one needs to do to taste the food on the display is lick the screen. 

The device is called Taste the TV (TTTV) and involves 10 flavor canisters spraying a combination of flavors onto a plastic film that's layered onto a flat-screen TV, in an attempt to recreate the taste of a food item. 

Miyashita told Reuters that he built the prototype over the last year. He estimated that if a commercial version were to be created, it would cost $875 to produce. 

Source: www.insider.com

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South Africa anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu dies.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace prize laureate who helped end apartheid in South Africa, has died aged 90.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the churchman's death marked "another chapter of bereavement in our nation's farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans".

Archbishop Tutu had helped bequeath "a liberated South Africa".

Tutu was one of the country's best known figures at home and abroad.

A contemporary of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, he was one of the driving forces behind the movement to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.

He was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984 for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system.

Source: www.bbc.com

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27 December 2021

WHO approves India’s ‘Kovovax’.

The World Health Organization (WHO) added Kovovax, an anti-Covid vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) under license from US pharmaceutical company Novavax, to its emergency use list. In this way the number of vaccines approved by the global health body has increased. SII Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aadar Poonawalla described the WHO’s decision as ‘another milestone’ in the fight against COVID-19.

The World Health Organization said in a tweet on Friday, ‘WHO has added Kovovax to its emergency use list. This has increased the number of WHO validated vaccines against Kovid-19. This vaccine is manufactured by Serum Institute of India under license from Novavax. According to the WHO, Covovax was assessed on the basis of its emergency use inventory process based on a review of data on quality, safety and efficacy, risk management plan and vaccine manufacturing site inspections by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).

Source: https://hindustannewshub.com


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Jaffna Kings lift LPL title for second consecutive time.

The Jaffna Kings who topped the group phase of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) 2021, went on to win the title as they beat the Galle Gladiators in the final by 23 runs. The Kings were also the defending champions coming into the tournament but went down to the Gladiators on three occasions before the final in this years’ edition.

The Jaffna Kings stuck by what has worked well for them throughout the tournament as skipper Thisara Perera won the toss and elected to bat first on a belter of a pitch at the Sooriyawewa Stadium in Hambantota. The explosive opening duo of Avishka Fernando and Rahmanullah Gurbaz got them off to a flier once again as they put on 56 inside the power-play for the first wicket before the latter was dismissed for 35.

Fernando(63) followed up his century in the previous game with another half century while useful cameos from from Shoaib Malik(23 off 11) and Thisara Perera (17* off 9) made sure the Kings went past the 200-run mark in consecutive games. Mohammad Amir, Nuwan Thushara and Samit Patel were the only wicket takers for the Gladiators, picking up a wicket each.

Danushka Gunathilaka got the Gladiators to a whirlwind start as he took the attack to the Kings’ bowlers including Maheesh Theekshana who has been the standout bowler for them through the tournament. Gunathilaka hit 54 off just 21 balls in a knock that included seven fours and three towering sixes.

It was Wanindu Hasaranga’s introduction that brought the Gunathilaka special to an end, while he picked up Ben Dunk off the following delivery to drag the Kings back into the contest. The Gladiators kept up with the required run rate but a couple of unnecessary run outs pegged them back as they were reduced to 133/6 in 14 overs.

They never really got back from those blows and were eventually restricted to 178/9 in their allotted 20 overs. Kusal Mendis was the second top scorer with 39 runs while none of the other batters made any significant contributions.

Hasaranga picked up two wickets, held on to a couple of very good catches and also was involved in the run out of Mohommed Hafeez. Hasaranga together with his brother Chathuranga de Silva (2/15) helped the Kings win quite comfortably in the end. Malik also bowled three crucial overs conceding just twelve runs.

Samit Patel and Maheesh Theekshana ended as the joint highest wicket takers in the tournament with 16 wickets apiece while Kusal Mendis finished the tournament as the highest run scorer with 327 runs.

Source: https://island.lk

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24 December 2021

Philippines hit by strongest strom of 2021 - Typhoon Rai.

The death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year surpassed 300 on Tuesday (21) as humanitarian agencies warned the true scale of destruction remains unknown, partly because rescue workers are unable to access some disaster-hit areas.

Super Typhoon Rai -- known locally as Odette -- has now claimed at least 375 lives since it ripped through the archipelago late last week, CNN affiliate CNN Philippines reported, citing the Philippine National Police (PNP). At least 515 people are injured and 56 still missing, the PNP said.

More deaths are expected to be confirmed as rescue operations continue. But aid workers face the difficult task of reaching some regions that are cut off due to debris-filled and waterlogged roads, some with telephone and internet connections down.

Philippine Red Cross chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said that five bridges in Palawan have been destroyed by the storm. Nearly 1 million people live in the western province, according to 2020 official figures.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com

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23 December 2021

Largest ever millipede fossil found on Northumberland Beach.

Scientists say they found the largest giant fossil in history on a beach in Northumberland - and did so by accident.

It is believed that the centipede, known as arthropleura, was more than 2.5 m long and weighed about 50 kg.

Some of the fossils were first noticed in 2018, when a large block of sandstone fell on the beach in Govik Bay.

Next year it will be exhibited at the Cambridge Sedgwick Museum.

Source: www.bbc.com

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22 December 2021

Exquisitely preserved embryo found inside fossilized dinosaur egg.

A 72- to 66-million-year-old embryo found inside a fossilized dinosaur egg sheds new light on the link between the behavior of modern birds and dinosaurs, according to a new study.

The embryo, dubbed Baby Yingliang, was discovered in the Late Cretaceous rocks of Ganzhou, southern China and belongs to a toothless theropod dinosaur, or oviraptorosaur. Among the most complete dinosaur embryos ever found, the fossil suggests that these dinosaurs developed bird-like postures close to hatching.

Scientists found the posture of Baby Yingliang unique among known dinosaur embryos—its head lies below the body, with the feet on either side and the back curled along the blunt end of the egg. Previously unrecognized in dinosaurs, this posture is similar to that of modern bird embryos.

In modern birds, such postures are related to 'tucking'—a behavior controlled by the central nervous system and critical for hatching success. After studying egg and embryo, researchers believe that such pre-hatching behavior, previously considered unique to birds, may have originated among non-avian theropods.

Led by scientists from the University of Birmingham and China University of Geosciences (Beijing), the research team from institutions in China, UK and Canada today published its findings in iScience.

Source: https://phys.org

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Tennis player Emma Raducanu voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Tennis player Emma Raducanu was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday 19 December 2021, receiving British sport's annual individual accolade as a reward for h er beating Canada's Leylah Fernandez in the final at Flushing Meadow s.

The 19-year-old was also the first British woman to claim a major title since Virginia Wade triumphed at Wimbledon in 1977.

Raducanu beat off competition from diver Tom Daley, who was second, and swimmer Adam Peaty in third place, plus boxer Tyson Fury, soccer player Raheem Sterling and Para-cyclist Sarah Storey to win the award.

Britain's Andy Murray was the last tennis player to win the award in 2016 after claiming the trophy in 2015 and 2013.

Skateboarder Sky Brown took home the Young Sports Personality of the Year award after the 13-year-old won the Olympic bronze for Britain in the women's park skateboarding final at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com

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