- The first-ever Global Refugee Forum was held in Geneva with more than 770 pledges of support, covering areas such as protection, employment, and education, for refugees and the communities which have taken them in.
- The Forum was a key element of the ‘Global Compact on Refugees’, which the international community signed in December 2018. It calls for Global Refugee Forums to be held every four years.
- The Forum revealed a “decisive shift” towards long-term action to assist the more than 25.9 million people worldwide who have fled their homelands due to conflict, persecution or violence.
- A stock-taking meeting will take place in two years, and the second Global Refugee Forum is scheduled for late 2023.
Global Compact on Refugees
Its four key objectives are to:
- Eight West African countries have agreed to change the name of their common currency to ‘Eco’ and severed their earlier currency CFA Franc's links to former colonial ruler France.
- Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo currently use the currency. All the countries are former French colonies with the exception of Guinea-Bissau.
- China, Russia and Iran carried out a trilateral naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman, the first such move by the three countries in the volatile Middle East amid heightened tensions in the region after the Trump administration withdrew from a landmark nuclear pact with Tehran.
- The Gulf of Oman borders Iran and Pakistan on the north, Oman on the south, the United Arab Emirates on the west and faces the Gujarat coast.
- The Gulf of Oman is only a short distance away from the Strait of Hormuz, which has been a site of contention over the passage of oil tankers between Iran and some Western nations.
- Saudi Arabia became the first Arab nation to take over the G20 Presidency on December 1, 2019.
- It has taken over from Japan and it will host the G20 Summit in its capital, Riyadh on November 21 and 22, 2020.
- The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries (including India) and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
- EChO Network, a national program, has been launched to train a new generation of educators and students who can identify and solve problems in an interdisciplinary manner and who can listen to our natural world and tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology.
- The initiative has drawn in partners from Government, industry and academia, with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India steering the program under the guidance of Prof. Shannon Olsson, Director, EChO Network. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Hindustan Unilever Limited, RoundGlass, India Climate Collaborative, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) are the founding partners of the EChO Network.
- This is a clock designed by researchers at California Institute of Technology and NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that will give more accurate and precise time than currently used atomic clocks.
- Atomic clocks are used around the world to precisely tell time. Standard atomic clocks in use today, based on the atom cesium, tell time by "counting" radio frequencies.
- The new clock design builds upon two types of optical atomic clocks already in use. The first type is based on a single trapped charged atom, or ion, while the second uses thousands of neutral atoms trapped in what is called an optical lattice.
- Instead of using a collection of many atoms, the new design uses 40 atoms -- and those atoms are precisely controlled with laser tweezers.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified its first biosimilar medicine – trastuzumab – for treatment of breast cancer. The medicine, supplied by Samsung Bioepis NL B.V. (Netherlands), was assessed by WHO and found comparable to the originator product in terms of efficacy, safety and quality.
Biosimilars: They are much less expensive versions of innovator biotherapeutics while keeping the same effectiveness. They are usually manufactured by other companies once the patent on the original product has expired.
Biotherapeutics: Biotherapeutics are pharmaceutical products derived from biological and living sources. They include therapeutic vaccines, blood, blood components, cells, gene therapies, tissues and other materials.
WHO Prequalification: Prequalification is a service provided by WHO to assess the quality, safety and efficacy of those products that address global public health priorities.
- The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named a star and its planet with Indian names:
- Bibha or HD 86081 is a yellow-white dwarf star in the constellation Sextans. It is bigger and more massive than our Sun. The star has been named ‘Bibha’ in honour of a pioneering Indian woman scientist Bibha Choudhury, who discovered subatomic particle, pi-meson. ‘Bhibha’ also means “a bright beam of light” in Bengali.
- Santamasa or HD 86081b is a planet revolving around ‘Bibha’ has been named as ‘Santamasa’ to reflect the cloudy nature of its atmosphere. ‘Santamasa’ is the Sanskrit term for ‘clouded’.
- The Boeing CST-100 Starliner (Crew Space Transportation) is a crew capsule manufactured by Boeing as its participation in NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. Its primary purpose is to transport crew to the International Space Station (ISS) and to private space stations.
- A recent uncrewed test flight of Starliner experienced an anomaly that precluded a docking with the International Space Station and was recalled and landed safely in the New Mexico desert.
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras researchers have found an association between a particular tissue-remodelling enzyme called ‘MMP7’ and risk of hypertension.
- Hypertension, a common disease in India, is associated with remodelling of heart tissues. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play a crucial role in such hypertension-induced heart tissue remodelling, which results in alterations in the structural and mechanical support to blood vessels. This directly results in an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.
- MMPs are a group of enzymes that have been found to be associated with degradation of extracellular matrix proteins (that provide structural support to the cells), during regular tissue growth.