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Venezuela to remove the 100-bolivar note from circulation

Stuck in an economic crisis and facing rampant inflation, the Venezuelan government announced Sunday it would pull its largest bill from circulation.
●    The 100-bolivar note, which is worth approximately two cents, will be replaced by much larger bank notes. 
●    Venezuelans will have 10 days after the 100-bolivar bill is removed from circulation to exchange the notes at the central bank. 
●    In the wake of the 100-bolivar note's demise, six bank notes worth between 500 and 20,000 bolivars will be made available, and three new coins. 
●    One US dollar can buy up to 4,400 bolivars on the black market.
●    Critics were quick to denounce the decision, saying Maduro should fight against the use of contraband bills on the Colombia-Venezuela border, and that there was no realistic way for Venezuelans to exchange 100-bolivar bills currently in circulation within the allotted time. 
●    Data from the central bank showed there were more than six billion 100-bolivar notes in circulation in November, which is about 48 percent of all bills and coins in use.

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Shavkat Mirziyoyev won the presidential election in Uzbekistan

The Prime Minister and acting President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev was elected the country's president in the presidential election, which was held on 4 December 2016.
As per the Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan, Mirziyoyev won the election with an overwhelming vote. He garnered 88.61% of the votes, which is above the required over 50% of valid ballots to become a president.
The other three presidential candidates were: the National Revival Democratic Party’s Sarwar Otamuratov, who scored 2.35%, Hotamzhon Ketmonov of the People's Democratic Party scored 3.73% and the Justice Social Democratic Party’s Narimon Umarov scored 3.46% of the votes.
About Shavkat Mirziyoyev
●    Born on 24 July 2016, Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan since 2003.
●    He was appointed by the Supreme Assembly as interim President of Uzbekistan on 8 September 2016 following the death of President Islam Karimov.
●    He graduated from the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration and also holds a Candidate (PhD) degree in Technological Sciences.
●    From 1996 to September 2001, he served as Governor of Jizzakh Region, then as Governor of Samarqand Region from September 2001 until his appointment as Prime Minister in 2003.
●    On 12 December 2003, he was nominated as Prime Minister by President Islam Karimov.
 

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Chinese army launches massive military drill near Aksai Chin


China's People's Liberation Army has launched a major drill in the western region of Xinjiang, which borders several countries including India and Pakistan.
●    The exercise, which involves a massive force of 10,000 soldiers, is being carried out by PLA's western command. The command is in charge of Aksai Chin, the disputed area between India and China.
●    It involves "missions relating to camouflage, intelligence, reconnaissance and counter attack", the state run People's Daily Online said.
●    Though it did not specify the exact location of the exercise, the obvious focus is India because it is the only country in the region which has a border problem with China.
●    The drill is extensive covering seven hills and taking place at altitudes going up to 4,000 metres.
●    The drill comes after India's surgical strike in Pakistan and subsequent border problems. The move comes soon after General Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as the new army chief in Pakistan.
●    The drill is expected to boost the morale of Pakistan's army and put pressure on India, observers said.

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Italian PM Renzi resigns

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned on 6th December.
●    Renzi tendered his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella, who said he would consult with political parties to decide the next steps. 
●    He asked Renzi to carry on in a caretaker capacity until a solution is found.
●    After the consultations, which began on 8th December and will end on 10th December, Mattarella is widely expected to ask a member of Renzi's cabinet, or a politician from his Democratic Party, to try to form a new government.
●    Elections are due in 2018 but many politicians are calling for them to be held earlier.
●    The political crisis sparked by the referendum coincides with a crisis in Italy's debt-laden banks, especially at its third-biggest lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which looks likely to require government intervention to survive.
●    Two sources told Reuters on Tuesday that Renzi's administration was preparing to take a 2-billion-euro ($2.15-billion) controlling stake in the bank by purchasing junior bonds.


 

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Trump named as Time magazine's person of the year

US President-elect Donald Trump was named as Person of the Year 2016 on 7 December 2016 by Time magazine. 
●    The magazine cited his role for the stunning victory in the US Presidential election.
●    Trump’s rival in the presidential elections and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was the first runner-up for Person of the Year. 
●    Other contenders for the Time Person of the year were The US gymnast Simone Biles, Singer Beyonce, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
●    Modi won the online readers' poll conducted by Time magazine for Person of the Year 2016, the second time he emerged winner of the reader's choice poll.
●    This is an annual honour bestowed by Time magazine since 1927. 
●    It goes to the person who most influenced the news during the year for better or worse.


 

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Amazon launches global startup program Launchpad in India

E-commerce giant Amazon on 5 December 2016 launched its global startup program named Launchpad in India. The Launchpad programme was launched with an aim to enable Indian startups to sell their products overseas.
●    In this regard, Amazon India tied up with Start Up India programme of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), NASSCOM's 10000 Startups, Indian Angel Network (IAN), NITI Aayog, Governments of Maharashtra, Telangana and TiE. 
●    It aims to help startups to sell, market, and deliver their products to gain more visibility. 
●    It will provide an exceptional opportunity for Indian Startups to get access to big consumer markets nationally and internationally. 
●    Through this program, small entrepreneurs and innovators can use Amazon’s online platform to increase scale of their businesses and get easy access to global markets.
●    Amazon is an American international electronic commerce company with headquarters in Seattle, Washington, United States. 
●    Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, it is the world's largest online retailer.
●    It entered into Indian e-commerce market in 2013 with the launch of its marketplace Amazon.in, offering books, movies and television shows for sale.
 


 

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United Nations apologises to people of Haiti for cholera epidemic

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 1 December 2016 apologised for the first time to the people of Haiti for its role in the 2010 cholera outbreak in the country.
●    As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ongoing Haiti cholera outbreak is the worst epidemic of cholera in recent history.
●    The country has been dealing with a cholera outbreak since October 2010, some nine months after it suffered a devastating earthquake.
●    The outbreak began in mid October 2010 in the rural Center Department of Haiti.
●    The outbreak occurred ten months after a powerful earthquake which devastated the nation's capital and southern towns on 12 January 2010.
●    It is widely believed to have been introduced by Nepalese peacekeepers from the UN.
●    The peacekeepers lived on a base that often leaked waste into a river, and the first cholera cases in the country appeared in Haitians who lived nearby.
●    The outbreak has affected an estimated 788000 people and claimed the lives of more than 9000 people in the country.


 

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United Nations imposes new sanctions on North Korea

The United Nations Security Council on 30 November 2016 voted to tighten sanctions on North Korea in response to the country’s fifth and largest nuclear test.
●    The council unanimously approved the sanctions resolution following months of diplomatic arguments over how best to respond to North Korea’s latest nuclear test in September 2016.
●    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
●    The new sanctions target North Korea’s hard currency revenues by placing a cap on coal exports, cutting them by at least 62 per cent.
●    In total, the sanction will cut down at least USD 800 million per year the hard currency that the country has to fund its prohibited weapons programs. The prohibited weapons programmes constitute a full 25 percent of North Korea’s entire export revenues.
●    The sanctions would also put a ban on the country’s exports of non-ferrous metals and sanction 11 government officials as well as 10 entities linked to the country’s nuclear weapons program.
●    They also include an array of other measures cracking down on North Korea’s access to the international banking system and on its export of statues.


 

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Adama Barrow new President of Gambia

Gambia’s Electoral Commission chief has declared Adama Barrow, the opposition coalition candidate winner of the country’s December 1 presidential election.
●    The announcement marks the beginning of the end of over a two-decade rule by Yahya Jammeh who took power in 1994.
●    According to the Electoral Commission, Barrow won 263,515 votes (45.5%) in Thursday’s election, while President Jammeh took 212,099 (36.7%). 
●    A third party candidate, Mama Kandeh managed 102,969 (17.8%).
●    The Gambia is a small West African country, bounded by Senegal, with a narrow Atlantic coastline. 
●    It's known for its diverse ecosystems around the central Gambia River. 
●    Abundant wildlife in its Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve includes monkeys, leopards, hippos, hyenas and rare birds. 
●    The capital, Banjul, and nearby Serrekunda offer access to beaches.

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Yoga now on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Yoga, India’s one of the ancient practices to keep oneself healthy, has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
●    It was inscribed on the list during the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The declaration describing Yoga as a Human Treasure got unanimous support of the 24 members of the Committee.
●    With this, Yoga became the 13th intangible cultural heritage that has been listed from India so far with UNESCO. The previous intangible cultural heritage list includes
●    Chhau dance 
●    The Buddhist chanting of Ladakh 
●    Sankirtana - the ritual singing, drumming, and dancing of Manipur 
●    The traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab 
●    Ramlila- the traditional performance of the Ramayana 

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