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European Union launches naval operation against human traffickers in Mediterranean

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Brussels: The European Union (EU) on Monday launched a naval operation against human traffickers in the Mediterranean.

According to an EU statement, the mission titled “EUNAVFOR Med” is aimed at identifying, capturing and seizing vessels used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers, Xinhua news agency reported.

EUNAVFOR Med will run for 12 months. The first phase is to focus on surveillance and assessing human smuggling and trafficking networks in the southern central Mediterranean.

The second stage of the operation is to search and, if necessary, apprehend suspicious vessels.

The third phase would dispose of the vessels, and arrest traffickers and smugglers.

The European Council will assess when to move beyond the first step, taking into account a UN mandate and the consent of the coastal states concerned.

The cost of the operation is estimated at 11.82 million euros (about $13 million). (IANS)

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Mystery Unveiled : The Reason Behind Domestication Of Cats

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A group of three Cats. Pixabay

June 30, 2017: A new DNA study published in Ecology and Evolution infers how cats have followed the development of Western civilization. This process was helped by an attempt in the 18th century, creating the lovable tamed short-haired or “tabby” cat.

While the origin of the domesticated cat is still a mystery, it seems that the manner of becoming pets took a long time. It also appears, because cats are independent, territorial and, antisocial, they were not so easy to tame as compared to the co-operative pack of the wolf.

ALSO READ: Evolution and falling levels of human intelligence: Learn from cats!

Cats lived around humans for many centuries before dropping to the lure of the fire and the cushion and coming in from the cold behaviour to become true companions to humans.

The cat found in Cyprus resembles the Neolithic period of around 10,000 BC to 4,000 BC and the agricultural revolution. This was when people were starting to settle down and become farmers instead of carrying on the nomadic hunter-gatherer existence.

An earlier DNA study of other ancient remains tells that domestic cats first emerged in the land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean where some of the first human civilizations emerged.

The authors of the new study examined DNA taken from bones and teeth of ancient cat remains to track the spread of the domestic cat. They also studied samples from the skin and hair of mummified Egyptian cats.

They found that all modern cats have ancestors among the Near Eastern and Egyptian cats, although the contributions of these two groups to the gene pool of today’s cats probably happened at different times. The DNA study suggests domestic cats spread out over a period of around 1,300 years to the 5th century AD, with remains recorded in Bulgaria, Turkey and Jordan.

The DNA study suggests domestic cats spread out over a period of around 1,300 years to the 5th century AD, with remains recorded in Bulgaria, Turkey and Jordan.

Another striking finding is that domestic cats from earlier times, when strolled with humans to new parts of the world mated with local Wildcats and spread their genes through the population. And, in the process, they forever changed the gene of cats in the area.

– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94

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European Union (EU) Takes Lead in Campaign to Prevent Gender-based Violence during Humanitarian Crises

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world

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A South Sudanese refugee and 32-year-old mother, who was raped for several days by a group of soldiers before she was allowed to leave, stands by a window at a women's center. VOA
  • Violence during times of war and natural disasters also affects men and boys
  • The EU says its mission is to strengthen awareness and encourage the humanitarian community to take stronger action to protect women, men, girls and boys in crisis zones
  • Monique Pariat, director-general for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, says more must be done to prevent gender-based violence from occurring in humanitarian emergencies

Geneva, June 21, 2017: The European Union is assuming the leadership of a global initiative to prevent gender-based violence during humanitarian crises.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. The United Nations and many human rights organizations have documented tens of thousands of cases of rape, sexual abuse and exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other places of conflict.

Violence during times of war and natural disasters also affects men and boys. So, the European Union’s Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence is inclusive of both sexes and all ages.

ALSO READ: June 19 is International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict 2017: Why Women in India are Victims of Sexual Abuse?

The EU says its mission is to strengthen awareness and encourage the humanitarian community to take stronger action to protect women, men, girls and boys in crisis zones.

Monique Pariat, director-general for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, says more must be done to prevent gender-based violence from occurring in humanitarian emergencies. She says many simple measures can be taken to mitigate violence.

“For instance, to have separate and properly illuminated toilets and washing facilities in camps. Safe access to water and food distribution points. Safe access to hospitals. That can have a very significant impact in preventing and reducing gender-based violence. We can do more also on the education to armed groups, to armies. There are a lot of activities we can promote that will reduce the risk and occurrence of these atrocities.”

Pariat says it is crucial to bring the Call to Action program to the field, adding it is there that these life-saving measures can have the biggest impact. Pariat also says preventive actions must be taken at the earliest onset of an emergency where victims and survivors are at greatest risk. (VOA)

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India-UK free trade agreement to be signed once it exits the European Union in 2 years Time

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European Union. Pixabay

New Delhi, March 28, 2017: With Britain set to launch the formal process of its exit from the EU on Wednesday, a prominent British entrepreneur has said that a joint working group of officials from both countries is working on an India-UK free trade agreement to be signed once it exits the EU in two years time.

“One of the very important steps forward of Theresa May’s (India) visit last November was that we now have a government-to-government working group with the Commerce Secretary and the International Trade Secretary in charge that is looking at the totality of the relationship,” Patricia Hewitt, Chair UK-India Business Council, told BTVi in an interview.

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“What I found since the referendum is the great enthusiasm on the part of India’s political and business leaders as well as Britain’s political and business leaders, for…it may be a free trade agreement…perhaps more accurately a comprehensive economic partnership. This was discussed further during Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s very successful visit to London recently,” she said.

“And the aim there is not only to identify things that both governments could act on immediately even before Brexit actually happens, but also to lay the groundwork for a more formal agreement..a bilateral agreement that could happen once the UK actually leaves the European Union,” she added.

British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50 – the step that starts the process of negotiations for Britain’s formal exit from the EU – on Wednesday.

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There is consequent uncertainty over what will happen once Britain leaves the EU because it needs to make new trade agreements with the rest of the world.

Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced this joint working group last year following talks here with UK’s then Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox after Britain voted in a referendum to exit the EU.

Sitharaman said formal talks on a bilateral free trade agreement could only begin once the UK formally exited the EU.

Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $14 billion in 2015-16, as compared to $14.33 billion in 2014-15. (IANS)