Child marriage costs countries billions in lost earnings: World Bank

Wednesday 12th December 2018 02:52 EST

According to a new World Bank report, more than a third of girls in sub-Saharan Africa marry before their 18th birthday, costing countries billions of dollars in lost earnings. Estimates for 12 countries suggest around $62 billion is lost because child brides complete fewer years of formal education than their peers who marry later. The report titled 'Educating Girls and Ending Child Marriage' suggests that every year of secondary education reduces the likelihood of marrying before the age of 18 by five per cent or more. West Africa particularly has the highest prevalence of marriage before the age of 15. 18 from the top 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world are in Africa. 24 countries have launched national strategies to end the practice since the African Union began a campaign to stop child marriage by 2023. While the causes of child marriage are complex and include traditional beliefs, climate change, and conflict, poverty is an underlying factor.

'God Letter, Albert Einstein's handwritten letter fetches $2.9 million

A handwritten letter by Albert Einstein, in which he grapples with the concept of religion has sold for almost $2.9 million smashing predictions. The so-called 'God Letter' written in 1954, was expected to fetch $1.5 million at Christie's Rockefeller Center auction in New York. The Nobel Prize-winning scientist had written the one-and-a-half page note to German philosopher Eric Gutkind in response to one of his works. A statement from Christie's said, “This remarkably candid, private letter was written a year before Einstein's death and remains the most fully articulated expression of his religious and philosophical views.” Written in native German, Einstein takes issue with the belief of God, in the letter. “The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses. The Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends.” He continues, “No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can change anything about this.” “The Jewish people to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of dignity from all other peoples,” he writes.

Pak-origin UK councillor suspended after sending topless woman’s photo during meeting

A Pakistani-origin councillor in the UK sent a photo of a topless woman to a group of women during a meeting, prompting the opposition Labour party to suspend him for what he called an “honest mistake”. Sheffield City Councillor Mohammad Maroof posted the image on a WhatsApp group named 'Mums United'. As the group founder Sahira irshad presented a petition on knife crime, Maroof sent the picture to the group. He has apologised for what he described was an “honest mistake” and said that he was “very embarrassed”. Maroof said he was trying to attach a video of Irshad speaking at the meeting and instead accidentally attached the unsolicited image, which he had received earlier in the day. “This is my private phone and I receive so many things that my WhatsApp has been set to automatically save everything in my phone's photo file. Somebody sent me this photo, it may have come in the morning, and it went into my phone's file,” Maroof said.

US Military end search for Marines missing off Japan

The US military has declared five missing crew members dead after their refueling plane collided with a fighter jet last week off Japan’s southern coast, and halted search and recovery operations. Two crew members in the F/A-18 were recovered after the accident, but one died. The U.S. Marines said the survivor was in stable condition when rescued. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya addressed a press conference and said, “The incident is regrettable, but our focus at the moment is on search and rescue. Japan will respond appropriately once the details of the incident are uncovered.” A US official said they were unsure precisely how the mishap occurred but none suspected foul play. An investigation is currently underway. The Marine Corps suggested Japanese search and rescue aircraft had taken the lead on the rescue mission. It said, “We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation.”

"Stinging Substance" Panic Leads To Stampede In Italy Nightclub, 6 Dead

At least six people have died and dozens injured in a stampede when panic broke out during a rap concert at an Italian nightclub over the weekend. Reports said the suspected use of a pepper spray-like substance sparked the chaos at the Lanterna Azzurra club in Corinaldo, near Ancona in central Italy. The fire service issued a statement on Twitter and said, “The cause may have been the dispersal of a stinging substance, the young people fled and trampled over each other. Sadly, six people died and dozens are injured.” The victims include five people under the age of 18, three girls and two boys, and an adult woman who had accompanied her daughter to the concert. Local fire chief Dino Poggiali said that 14 of the injured were in a critical condition and 40 less serious. Around 1000 people were gathered at the venue for a performance by Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta, known as the “ling of the trap” for his style of Hip Hop.

Pak pledges help on Afghan war after meeting US peace envoy

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged his help to find a political settlement to the long-running war in neighbouring Afghanistan. The visit to the Pak Capital US special representative to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, came after US President Donald Trump requested Pakistan to help find an end to the 17 year war between Taliban insurgents and the western-backed Afghan government. Khan's office issued a statement saying, “The Prime Minister reiterated Pakistan's abiding interest in achieving peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through political settlement.” Khalilzad, an Afghan-born U.S. diplomat who served as George W. Bush's ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, was named by Trump three months ago as a special envoy to negotiate peace in Afghanistan. The US has for years been pushing Pak to lean on Taliban leaders who are believed to be based inside Pakistan. While Islamabad has promised in the past to work to help bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table, this will be the first attempt for Khan's new government that came in power since August.

“India Has Stakes In Afghanistan, Its Cooperation Needed”

In a rare moment, Pakistan has acknowledged for the first time that India has stakes in Afghanistan and its cooperation is necessary for the peace process in the war-torn country. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, speaking in the National Assembly said, Pakistan alone could not bring peace in Afghanistan as it was a “shared responsibility” of regional countries. “Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that peace could not be established in Afghanistan through military power today. Today, the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Taliban also wanted a solution through dialogue,” Qureshi said. He added, “Some meetings have taken place for establishment of peace in Afghanistan. India also has stakes in Afghanistan and its cooperation will also be needed.” The US had hinted at its plans to give a role to India in Afghanistan, whereas Pakistan's stance over the years was quite clear that India had no role to play in the country.

NASA probe finds signs of water on nearby asteroid Bennu

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered ingredients for water on a relatively nearby skyscraper-sized asteroid named Bennu. Scientists said OSIRIS-REx, which flew within a 12 miles of the asteroid some 1.4 million miles from Earth, found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules. The probe, which is on a mission to return samples from the asteroid to Earth for study, was launched in 2016. Bennu, roughly a third of a mile wide, orbits the sun at roughly the same distance as Earth. There is concern among scientists of the possibility of Bennu impacting Earth late in the 22nd century. “We have found the water-rich minerals from the early solar system, which is exactly the kind of sample we were going out there to find and ultimately bring back to Earth,” University of Arizona planetary scientist Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx mission’s principal investigator said. “We’re really trying to understand the role that these carbon-rich asteroids played in delivering water to the early Earth and making it habitable,” Lauretta added. “When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system,” Amy Simon, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement.

Donald Trump concerned about impeachment : Report

A media report has suggested that US President Donald Trump sees his impeachment as a “real possibility” over finance violations. Impeachment talks have taken up storm in recent days following a blockbuster filing from prosecutors in the Southern district of New York, in which they directly alleged for the first time that Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen was being directed by the president when he broke the law during the 2016 presidential campaign. A source close to Trump said he has expressed concern that he could be impeached when Democrats take over the House. Special counsel Robert Mueller has launched an 18-month investigation into the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win. The source said that aides inside the West Wing believe “the only issue that may stick” in the impeachment process is the campaign finance violations tied to former Cohen’s payouts to Trump’s alleged mistresses. Prosecutors said Trump’s lawyer clearly sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 election from the sidelines through illicit payments.

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