Read about the new US strikes on Somalia, the new law change to curb pollution due to industries and more .
1) U.S. Strikes Kill 150 Shabab Fighters in Somalia:
- American aircraft on Saturday struck a training camp in Somalia belonging to the Islamist militant group the Shabab, the Pentagon said, killing about 150 fighters who were assembled for what American officials believe was a graduation ceremony and prelude to an imminent attack against American troops and their allies in East Africa.
- Defense officials said the strike was carried out by drones and American aircraft, which dropped a number of precision-guided bombs and missiles on the field where the fighters were gathered.
- Pentagon officials said they did not believe there were any civilian casualties, but there was no independent way to verify the claim. They said they delayed announcing the strike until they could assess the outcome.
- Pentagon officials would not say how they knew that the Shabab fighters killed on Saturday were training for an attack on United States and African Union forces, but the militant group is believed to be under heavy American surveillance.
- It was the deadliest attack on the Shabab in the more than decade-long American campaign against the group, an affiliate of Al Qaeda, and a sharp deviation from previous American strikes, which have concentrated on the group’s leaders, not on its foot soldiers.
- It comes in response to new concerns that the group, which was responsible for one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on African soil when it struck a popular mall in Nairobi in 2013, is in the midst of a resurgence after losing much of the territory it once held and many of its fighters in the last several years. The planned attack on American and African union troops in Somalia.
2) International Women’s day celebrated.
- International Women’s Day is a global celebration that aims to inspire women across the world. The event is officially celebrated on March 8 every year, and this year’s theme is gender parity.
- The event has its origins in the Second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, in 1910.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed gratitude to women for the role they play in the society, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Modi said their role in the society is indispensable.
- The PM further noted, in a series of tweets this morning, how his government has launched plans and policies for “women-led development”.
- Global events are planned to celebrate women’s achievements while calling for faster progress on equality.
- The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap would not close entirely until 2133.
- The UN began celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March during International Women’s Year in 1975. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.
3) Maria Sharapova failed drugs test at Australian Open:
- Former world number one Maria Sharapova has revealed she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.
- Sharapova, 28, tested positive for meldonium, a substance she has been taking since 2006 for health issues.
- The five-time Grand Slam champion is provisionally suspended from 12 March pending further action.
- The sportswear company, Nike, announced that it was halting its relationship with the player until the investigation is complete.
- Sharapova’s lawyer, John Haggerty, told Sports Illustrated he was attempting to speak to the ITF because “we think there is a laundry list of extremely mitigating circumstances that once taken into consideration would result in dramatically reducing any sanction that they might want to impose on Maria”.
- Sharapova, who lives in Florida, provided the anti-doping sample in question on 26 January, the day she lost to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
- The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) analysed the sample and returned a positive for meldonium, leading to the Russian being charged on 2 March.
- Sharapova has been the highest-earning female athlete in the world in each of the past 11 years, according to the Forbes list. Her career earnings from tennis alone amount to almost £26m.
- She first reached world number one in August 2005 and is currently seventh in the rankings – but she has played just four tournaments since Wimbledon last July as she struggled with an arm injury.
4) Proposal to tax EPF withdrawn:
- Following a backlash, both in and outside Parliament, for dipping into retirement savings of the working class, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday announced the withdrawal of the budget proposal of taxation of EPF.
- The proposal of 40 per cent exemption given to the National Pension Scheme (NPS) subscribers at the time of withdrawal remains, the Finance Minister clarified in his statement.
- The objective of the reform proposed in the budget that was withdrawn on Tuesday was “not to get more revenue but to encourage the people to join the Pension Scheme”.
- The decision to withdraw it, however, was taken after suggestions were received from MPs that the change will “force people to invest in annuity product even if they are not willing to do so”. The main argument, he said, was that the employees should have the choice of where to invest.
- The proposal withdrawn sought to make upto 60 per cent of savers’ corpus withdrawn from the the EPF tax free if invested in Annuity, according to the statement Mr. Jaitley laid in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The period return on the annuity was to be taxable.
- Soon after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rolled back the proposal to tax 60% of Employee Provident Fund on withdrawal, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi took credit for the Centre’s decision claiming that his intervention impacted the decision.
5) Govt to change law to act against polluting industries on the basis of online evidence.
- The Centre will make necessary changes in existing law to enable use of online data as legal evidence against polluting industries if such units violate permissible emission\effluent limits.
- The move is necessary as 1475 industries have already switched over to the web-based monitoring system and the remaining ones will put in the devices by June 30.
- The amendment in the Environment (Protection) Act, which is to be brought in during the second half of the ongoing Budget session of the Parliament in April-May, will also introduce various kind of penalties for different kind of violations by industries.
- At present, closer of unit is the only option and that too in extreme cases. Since closer is not the ideal solution in case of minor violation as livelihood of many people depend on industries, the amendment will provide for different penalties for varied kinds of violation. The closer option will, however, continue to be there in case of grave violation.
- As far as monitoring is concerned, the industries are, until now, monitored physically by officials of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the respective State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) in states. Their physical reports, based on lab tests, are submitted as evidence in court against industries in case of violation.
- The ministry had in January issued closer orders for 141 industrial units, located in the Ganga river basin, for not initiating a process to install online system and also for flouting the emission\effluent norms. The ministry is in the process of issuing notices against 403 industries in other parts of the country, asking them to install the online devices or face closure.