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International News-Daily Digest: 4 Key Updates

1. Georgia elects Salome Zurabishvili as first woman president
Salome Zurabishvili has won Georgia’s presidential election, becoming the first woman to hold the office. With nearly all votes counted, the French-born ex-diplomat had 59% of the vote with rival Grigol Vashadze on 40%.

Ms Zurabishvili was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, while Mr Vashadze was a united opposition candidate.

 

2. Sri Lanka signs port deals with China amid political upheaval

Sri Lanka penned two multi-million dollar contracts with Chinese firms for a port upgrade project in the middle of a political hiatus that has raised doubts over the legitimacy of the government and the legality of the deals.

But a political crisis triggered by President Maithripala Sirisena’s replacement of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was in turn sacked by parliament, has raised doubts over who can legitimately make decisions in the country.

Foreign countries have yet to recognize the new government and Wickremesinghe’s party has said any decisions by Rajapaksa’s cabinet are illegal.

 

3. Standard definitions of kilogram, Ampere, Kelvin and mole changed after 130 years

 The world’s standard definition of the kilogram (kg), the Ampere (A), the Kelvin (K), and the mole has been changed, after representatives from 60 countries voted to redefine the International System of Units (SI) for weight, current, temperature and amount of chemical substance.

The definition of the kilogram for more than 130 years, the International Prototype of the Kilogram (IPK), a cylinder of a platinum alloy stored at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in France, will now be retired.

It will be replaced by the Planck constant – the fundamental constant of quantum physics. While the stability of the IPK could only be confirmed by comparisons with identical copies, a difficult and potentially inaccurate process, the Planck constant is ready for use everywhere and always.

The decision, made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles, France, which is organised by BIPM, means that all SI units will now be defined in terms of constants that describe the natural world. This will assure the future stability of the SI and open the opportunity for the use of new technologies, including quantum technologies, to implement the definitions.

The changes, which will come into force on May 20 next year, will bring an end to the use of physical objects to define measurement units.

 

4. UNESCO lists wrestling, reggae and raiho-shin rituals under “intangible heritage”

 Jamaican reggae, Georgian wrestling and Japanese rituals are among the six new elements added by UN cultural agency UNESCO to its list of “intangible heritage” for the world to treasure, improving the visibility of often little-known and understood arts traditions.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is meeting until December 1 in Mauritius, inscribing new elements to its much coveted-list.

From the border between Asia and Europe, in Georgia, it added Chidaoba, which combines elements of wrestling, music, dance and special garments. The practice encourages a healthy lifestyle and plays an important role in intercultural dialogue, according to UNESCO, which called its code of conduct “chivalric”, and noted that “occasionally the wrestlers leave the arena with a Georgian folk dance”.

Hurling, from Ireland, also made the grade. This field game, which dates back 2,000 years, features strongly in Irish mythology. Played by two teams using a wooden “hurley” stick and a small “sliotar” ball, UNESCO said, “hurling is considered as an intrinsic part of Irish culture and plays a central role in promoting health and wellbeing, inclusiveness and team spirit.”

 

 

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