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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to step down as patron of 25 charities

United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II will be stepping from her position as the patron of a number of charities at the end of her 90th birthday year.
●    The decision was announced through a statement released by the Buckingham Palace, residence and administrative headquarters of the queen.
●    The queen, who is currently handling more than 600 organisations, will step down as patron of 25 charities.
●    The patronage of these organizations will be passed on to the other members of the Royal family. 
●    Some of the organizations include Holocaust Day Memorial Trust, Blind Veterans UK, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children’s Fund and Wimbledon. 
●    The transition will be smooth, as many of these organizations already have a Royal Family member as a vice-patron or president.  
●    Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg had also similarly resigned from a number of patronages when he had turned 90 in 2011.
●    According to the palace’s statement, the queen will continue her work as patron to hundreds of charities and institutions but will now just share the workload with her family.


 

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Gunfire Kills Russian Ambassador In Turkey

A gunman in Turkey wearing a business suit and tie opened fire Monday on Russia's ambassador, killing the diplomat and wounding several others at photo exhibit in the Turkish capital. 
●    The gunman was killed as panicked people scattered for cover in the gallery.
●    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. 
●    But video posted on social media purported to show a Turkish-speaking attacker decrying violence in Syria, where Russia is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
●    In Moscow, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said Ambassador Andrei Karlov died after being hit in the back by gunfire. 
●    Earlier, Russia's Foreign Ministry said efforts to treat Karlov were delayed as gunfire raged.
●    Photos from the gallery showed the suspected attacker, wearing a dark suit and tie, gripping a pistol as he stood near the fallen ambassador. 
●    The gunman was later killed, Russian official said.

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India to contribute $500,000 to UN emergency response fund

India has said it will contribute $500,000 to the United Nations’s emergency response fund for the year 2016-17 as it stressed that the international response is falling significantly short of the challenges posed by humanitarian crises across the world.
●    Counsellor in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Anjani Kumar said at the high-level Pledging Conference that the Government of India would be contributing $500,000 to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for the year 2016-17. 
●    India’s cumulative contribution to the fund so far has been $6 million.
●    The scale and instances of humanitarian crises around the world has been on the rise and the need for assistance to meet the challenges these crises pose has been unparalleled.
●    The number of people requiring urgent humanitarian assistance worldwide has quadrupled over the past 10 years and the international humanitarian response is falling significantly short of the challenges posed.

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Qatar abolishes ‘kafala’ system


Qatar on Monday formally announced the end of its controversial “kafala” system, arguably the biggest ever labour reform undertaken by the host of the 2022 football World Cup.
●    In a long-expected announcement, Labour Minister Issa bin Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi said the “kafala” rules would be abolished from December 13. 
●    The system was compared to modern-day slavery and left vulnerable workers with little protection and open to abuse, critics said.
●    Freedom of movement is guaranteed under the new rules, said Qatari officials, including giving workers the right to change jobs.
●    Any workers mistreated will automatically be allowed to change jobs. 
●    The exit visa formally needed to leave the country under “kafala” will be abolished, although workers will still need their employers' permission to go home.
●    An appeals committee has been established for expats who are denied permission to leave, and that committee will begin work.

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Britain set to become first country to approve three-parent babies

Britain is set to become the first country in the world to legally offer "three-parent baby" fertility treatments after regulators gave the green light.
●    The technique, which uses DNA from two women and a man, would allow mothers who carry disease-causing mutations in their mitochondrial genes to give birth to children free of the illness.
●    British lawmakers had voted in February to allow the treatment, which uses in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), but clinics needed to obtain licences from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
●    An independent panel of experts last month said the practice should be "cautiously adopted" to prevent certain genetic diseases from being passed on to future generations.
●    Mitochondria are structures in cells which generate vital energy and contain their own set of genes called mDNA which is passed through the mother.
●    Mitochondrial diseases cause symptoms ranging from poor vision to diabetes and muscle wasting, and health officials estimate that around 125 babies are born with the mutations in Britain every year.

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Yahoo hacked again

Yahoo, already reeling from its September disclosure that 500 million user accounts had been hacked in 2014, disclosed Wednesday that a different attack in 2013 compromised more than 1 billion accounts.
●    The two attacks are the largest known security breaches of one company’s computer network.
●    The newly disclosed 2013 attack involved sensitive user information, including names, telephone numbers, dates of birth, encrypted passwords and unencrypted security questions that could be used to reset a password. 
●    Yahoo said it is forcing all of the affected users to change their passwords and it is invalidating unencrypted security questions — steps that it declined to take in September.
●    It is unclear how many Yahoo users were affected by both attacks. 
●    The internet company has more than 1 billion active users, but it is not clear how many inactive accounts were hacked.
●    Yahoo said it discovered the larger hacking after analyzing data files, provided by law enforcement, that an unnamed third party had claimed contained Yahoo information.

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PM Modi ranked 9th in Forbes list of World's Most Powerful People

The Forbes’ magazine's annual list of World’s Most Powerful People was released on 14 December 2016. 
●    Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ranked among the top 10 most powerful people in the world. He was ranked at 9th place on the list of 74 people.
●    The list was topped by Russian President Vladimir Putin for the fourth straight year. 
●    Putin is followed by President-elect of the US Donald Trump (2nd), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (3rd) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (4th).
●    Top 10 in the list are:
Rank    Name    Country/Organisation
1    Vladimir Putin (64)    Russia
2    Donald Trump (70)    The United States
3    Angela Merkel (62)    Germany
4    Xi Jinping (63)    China
5    Pope Francis (79)    Roman Catholic Church
6    Janet Yellen (70)    The United States
7    Bill Gates (61)    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
8    Larry Page (43)    Alphabet
9    Narendra Modi (66)    India
10    Mark Zuckerberg (32)    Facebook


 

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Rex Tillerson named as Donald Trump's secretary of state

Rex Tillerson, the president and chief executive of ExxonMobil, has been officially named as Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, setting up a potential confirmation fight in the Senate.
●    Senators from both parties have raised concerns about his lack of experience and close ties to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
●    On December 13, 2016 Trump announced name of the Tillersn and ended prolonged speculation over the foreign minister.
●    Rex enjoys a good rapport with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian Order of Friendship in 2013.
●    Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is not taking over as foreign minister.
●    He did Engineering from University of Texas in 1975. He then joined Exxon.
●    Tillersn chief executive Rex are also extensive business abroad.
●    Wichita Falls, Texas, 64-year-old resident of Tillersn business is spread across about 50 countries.


 

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Bill English elected as New Zealand’s new Prime Minister

New Zealand’s National party has chosen Bill English as the country’s 39th Prime Minister. He will be succeeding John Key, who announced his surprise resignation last week.
●    English’s name was confirmed for the role during a National Party meeting, which took place early on 12 December 2016. He was formerly serving the nation as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance (MoF).
●    While Paul Bennett will be replacing English as the new Deputy PM, senior Cabinet minister Steven Joyce has been named as the new finance minister.
●    He has been a politician for 26 years. 
●    He entered politics in 1990 when he was elected to the Parliament as a National Party candidate.
●    Prior to it, he was a farmer and a public servant with degrees in commerce and literature,
●    He was first appointed as the Finance Minister in 1999 but he couldn’t complete even a year in office, as his party got defeated in the elections held in the same year.
●    He replaced Jenny Shipley as the leader of the National Party in 2001. 
●    He was replaced by Don Brash in 2003 following the party’s worst election defeat in 2002.
●    In November 2006, he was named deputy under John Key’s leadership and after the party’s 2008 win, he was sworn in as both Deputy PM and MoF, a role which he continued to handle until 2016.
 

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China provides nearly 16 billion grants for reconstruction

The Chinese government has provided nearly Rs 16 billion for the post-quake reconstruction activities in Nepal.
●    Spokesperson of the government and Minister for Information and Communications Surendra Kumar Karki shared this information adding that the Cabinet meeting on Sunday decided to accept the grants worth Rs 15.80 billion provided by China.
●    The meeting of the Council of Ministers also decided to register the election bill at the Legislature-Parliament.
●    Decision was made to send a proposal to legislation committee on a work procedure to study the agreement government made with Dr Govinda KC, and forward implementations accordingly.
●    A committee would be formed by the government under the coordination of chief judge of appellate court, Govinda Prasad Parajuli, to study on the government employees and teachers who were sacked from the jobs on the basis of ideology during the conflict and agitation. 
●    The members of the committee are Deputy Attorney General at the Office of the Attorney General, Rewati Shivakoti, and Director at Department of Education, Ana Prasad Neupane.
 

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