Current Affairs For IAS-Exam-2011 March-2011 Part 3
• Outside the glare of media, a tri-nation monitoring group of diplomats has been established in Dubai to brainstorm ways of rescuing sailors on board ships that Somali pirates have hijacked.
• Indian Consul-General. Mr. Verma hoped diplomats from Bangladesh, Tanzania and Pakistan would also join this group, as nationals from these countries were also aboard some of the hijacked ships.
• Somali pirates are holding 53 Indian sailors captive on board five ships: the MV Iceberg, the MV Suez, the MT Asphalt Venture, the MT Savina Caylyn and the MV Sinin.
Radiation levels alarming
• Japan’s nuclear crisis intensified dramatically after authorities announced that a second reactor unit at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan might have ruptured and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam.The break, at the No. 3 reactor unit, worsened the already perilous conditions at the plant, a day after officials said the containment vessel in the No. 2 reactor had also cracked.
• The developments were the latest in Japan’s swirling tragedy since an earthquake and tsunami struck the country with unbridled ferocity .
French air strike kicks off attacks on Qadhafi
• France launched an air strike on a target in Libya, kicking off an international campaign to prevent Muammar Qadhafi’s forces from crushing a month-old uprising against his rule.
• A French warplane “opened fire at 5.45 p.m. (1645 GMT) on an unspecified vehicle,” French army spokesman Colonel Thierry Burckhard told journalists in Paris, adding the military was “assured of the threat” to civilians posed by the target.
• world leaders meeting in Paris agreed on ways to impose a no-fly zone over Libya in order to prevent attacks against civilian protesters by Col. Qadhafi’s forces.
• French officials indicated that French Mirage and Rafale fighters were already overflying Libyan airspace. The British, the French, the Italians, the Spaniards and the Norweigians are among those fully on board.
• Mr. Sarkozy also insisted on the international nature of the meeting, emphasising that the Arab League was fully represented.
• Five Arab nations — Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates — were present, as was Arab League General Secretary Amre Mussa. Saudi Arabia, which initially proposed the use of its air force, did not attend.
• Twenty-two heads of state and government as well as leaders of the United Nations and the European Union attended the meeting. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper were present.
Bahrain King pledges reform
• Bahrain’s King pledged to bring reforms and another demonstrator was confirmed to have died in a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, as international calls mounted for restraint.
• “I shall not allow a stop in the reform process which I began when I took the reins of power,” said King Hamad in a statement on the official BNA news agency.
• Bahrain faces mounting international pressure to exercise restraint and ensure the safety of jailed opposition leaders. Overnight, the United States said it was “deeply troubled” by the arrest of several opposition figures.
Election for head of Tibetan government-in-exile held
• The election for the next “Kalon Tripa,” chairperson of the cabinet of the so-called Tibetan government-in-exile, also referred to as its Prime Minister, generated keen interest in the Darjeeling hills not just within the Tibetan community there but also among the rest of the local population.
• The election is being considered especially significant as it is being held in the backdrop of the Dalai Lama announcing his intention to step down as the political head of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Thousands protest in Syria
• Thousands of Syrians marched in the southern town of Daraa after the funeral of a protester killed in the previous day’s demonstration, a resident said.
• Daraa has become the unexpected nerve centre of anti-regime protests in Syria, holding daily demonstrations despite a massive deployment of security forces and a heavy-handed crackdown on protests that left five dead.
• The protesters, who have been inspired by regime-changing revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, are demanding “freedom” and an end to 48 years of emergency laws in Syria under President Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez.
NATO takes over military operations
• NATO will take over command and control of military operations in Libya, in particular the enforcement of the no-fly zone imposed under a Security Council resolution, said its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
• The U.S. State Department, in a conference call with journalists, denied that any crack in the Western alliance, or in the international community’s support for the military action.
• nations such as Russia had disputed the U.S.’ claims surrounding civilian casualties resulting from the air strikes, the key backers of UNSCR 1973, authorising the no-fly zone, were on board.
Saleh proposes orderly exit
• Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced fresh conditions for his early exit, after mounting popular pressure calling for his removal was significantly bolstered when, breaking ranks, powerful sections of the Army, joined the protesters.
• State television beamed images of Mr. Saleh addressing crowds, where he announced he would stand-down, but only after handing over power to “capable, responsible” hands. Calling for an orderly transition, Mr. Saleh, who has long projected himself as the pillar of stability in a tough political environment, said power could be transferred “peacefully and through constitutional means”. He invited the protesters for a “political dialogue” that could “pave the way for a political transition.”
Israel deploys Iron Dome
• Israel deployed a cutting-edge rocket defence system, rolling out the latest tool in its arsenal to stop a recent spike in attacks from the neighbouring Gaza Strip.
• The Iron Dome system has raised hopes that Israel has finally found a solution to the years of rocket fire from Gaza. The primitive rockets have evaded Israel’s high-tech weaponry, in part because their short flight path, just a few seconds, makes them hard to track.
• The government approved Iron Dome in 2007. Its developers have compared the effort to a high¬tech start-up, working around the clock in small teams to perfect its weapons, radar and software systems. The developer, local defence contractor Rafael, declared the system ready for use last year.
• Iron Dome uses sophisticated cameras and radar to track incoming rockets, determine where they will land, and intercept and destroy them far from their targets. If the system determines the rocket is headed to an area where casualties are unlikely, it can allow the weapon to explode on the ground.