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China, which last year overtook the United States as the world’s top filer of international patents, a key measure of technical innovation, increased its lead significantly in 2020, the UN said Tuesday. Even as covid-19 took a vast human and economic toll, international patent applications continued to grow strongly, with China leading strong gains from Asia, reports AFP. A record 275,900 international patents were filed in 2020, marking a 4% hike over 2019, the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization said in its annual report.

Biden’s Saudi ‘recalibration’ stance

Biden’s Saudi ‘recalibration’ stance
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Biden’s Saudi ‘recalibration’ stance

US President Joe Biden’s approach to Saudi Arabia represents a “recalibration" and not a break in historically close ties, as the US plans to make respect for human rights more central to its policy toward the kingdom, a state department spokesman said. “We will never check our values at the door even when it comes to our closest security relationships," spokesman Ned Price said at a briefing. The new tone follows the administration’s decision last week to declassify and release an intelligence report done during the Trump administration that concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill" Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in 2018. It’s also meant to change course after four years in which President Donald Trump placed close ties with Saudi Arabia at the centre of US policy in West Asia.

Over 270 Nigerian schoolgirls freed

Over 270 Nigerian schoolgirls freed
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Over 270 Nigerian schoolgirls freed

Gunmen have freed all 279 girls kidnapped from a boarding school in northwest Nigeria, the governor of Zamfara state said on Tuesday, as one of the victims told Reuters how their abductors had beaten her and her schoolmates with their weapons. According to earlier reports, 317 girls from the Government Girls Science Secondary (GGSS) School in the town of Jangebe were abducted by an armed gang at around 1am on Friday. Zamfara state spokesman Sulaiman Tanau Anka told Reuters that some of the missing girls had run into the bush at the time of the assault, and the number of those kidnapped was 279. All had now been freed, Zamfara governor Bello Matawalle said. Most appeared to be unharmed, but at least a dozen were sent to hospital for treatment. The girls were mostly barefoot, and several had injuries to their feet. It was the second such abduction in just over a week.

Cess, surcharge share doubles

Cess, surcharge share doubles
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Cess, surcharge share doubles

The share of cesses and surcharges in the gross tax revenue of the Centre has nearly doubled to 19.9% in 2020-21 from 10.4% in 2011-12, leading the 15th Finance Commission to recommend a higher grant-in-aid and lower tax devolution to the states, according to a report by India Ratings. Under the existing Finance Commission (FC) framework, the cesses and surcharges collected by the Centre are not part of the tax devolution. The massive spike in the same has forced the FC to suggest a higher grant-in-aid to the states to compensate for the low growth in tax devolution which is pegged at 41%. The key reason for this is the increase in the proportion of the central cess and surcharges as they are not part of the tax devolution to the states.

Euro 2020 shrouded in uncertainty

Euro 2020 shrouded in uncertainty
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Euro 2020 shrouded in uncertainty

Wednesday marks 100 days until the scheduled start of Euro 2020 but there remains much uncertainty about exactly how and where a competition that was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic will take place. The opening match between Turkey and Italy is due to be played in Rome on 11 June, while seven matches are set to go ahead at Wembley in London, including both semi-finals and the final. The decision by European football’s governing body UEFA to stage the competition for the first time all across the continent, in 12 different cities, was a logistical challenge even before international travel was restricted by the spread of covid-19. Elite-level football has managed to keep going thanks to rigorous testing protocols but has been played in soulless, empty stadiums with supporters still shut out in most of the countries due to host matches.

Syrian detentions are war crimes: UN

Syrian detentions are war crimes: UN
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Syrian detentions are war crimes: UN

Tens of thousands of civilians in Syria were “arbitrarily detained" in enforced disappearances during the country’s 10-year conflict, a UN commission said in a report released on Monday. The fate of many remains unknown to this day. Thousands more have been subjected to torture and sexual violence, offences that can amount to war crimes, the report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said. The commission has regularly reported on suspected human rights violations and abuses since the civil war erupted, reports PTI. The Syrian government arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals and committed “war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of detention". Other parties in the conflict also committed crimes by unlawfully and arbitrarily depriving individuals of their liberty. Rival groups have been blamed for atrocities since Syria’s conflict broke out in March 2011.

Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen



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