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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

08 Aug 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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China: Biggest Crisis Since 1997 Handover

  •  Hong Kong is facing its biggest crisis since it returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, as more anti-government protests rocked the Asian financial hub.
  • Hong Kong's crisis has continued for 60 days, and is getting worse and worse. Violent activities are intensifying and the impact on society is spreading wider.
  • Hong Kong has faced months of sometimes violent protests that began with opposition to a now-suspended extradition law and which have evolved into a direct challenge to the government of embattled leader Carrie Lam and calls for full democracy.
  • Hong Kong's protests pose a major challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping who is grappling with a trade war with the United States and a slowing economy.
  • Zhang held a forum on Wednesday to discuss the political crisis in Hong Kong which included Hong Kong delegates to China's parliament, the National People's Congress and China's main consultative body, the CPPCC. No opposition democratic figures or protest representatives were invited.

China Blocks Films, Stars From Taiwan Film Awards

  •  China's film regulator said it was blocking the mainland movie industry from participating in Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards without giving a reason, in the latest sign of rising tensions between Beijing and the selfruled island.
  • The China Film News, a magazine published by the China Film Administration, made the announcement.
  • China Film Administration says that it will suspend mainland movies and their personnel from participating in 2019' 56th Golden Horse Awards. 

Turkey, US Agree On Safe Zone

  •  Turkey and the US have reached a long-sought agreement to distance American-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters from the Turkish border, removing a major point of contention between the NATO allies.
  • Turkish and American officials  in Ankara agreed to set up a joint operation centre to coordinate efforts to carve out a buffer zone in northern Syria. 
  • The area would be off-limits to the Kurdish forces, which Turkey regards as a threat to its territorial integrity.

ENVIRONMENT

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Ancient Bird That Stood a Metre Tall

  •  Scientists have discovered fossils of the world's largest parrot, standing up to one metre tall and weighing 7kg with a massive beak able to crack most food sources.
  • The new bird, described in the journal Biology Letters, has been named 'Heracles Inexpectatus' to reflect its Herculean myth-like size and strength - and the unexpected nature of the discovery. 
  • New Zealand is well known for its giant birds.
  • The fossil is about the size of the giant 'dodo' pigeon of the Mascarenes and twice the size of the critically endangered flightless
  • New Zealand kakapo, was previously the largest known parrot.
  •  The new parrot was found in fossils up to 19 million years old from near St. Bathans in Central Otago, New Zealand, in an area well known for a rich assemblage of fossil birds from the Miocene period.

Rapid and disturbing increase in deforestation across Amazon jungle in Brazil

  •  New data from the Brazilian space institute published point to a surge in deforestation in the Amazon, fuelling fears that President Jair Bolsonaro's pro-agrobusiness policies will accelerate deforestation.
  • Figures of the National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency, show that more forest was lost between May and July in 2019 than during the same period in 2018, 2017 and 2016.
  • In July,2019 alone, the rainforest lost 2,254 square kilometres of vegetation, between three and five times the surfaces lost the same month in the past four years.
  • This is the biggest surge in deforestation rates since the institute adopted its current methodology in 2014.
  • Brazil contains about 60% of the Amazon rainforest, a key regulator in the planet's living systems. Its trees take in as much as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year and release 20% of the planet's oxygen.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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RBI Cuts Repo Rate By 35 Bps To 5.4%

  •  On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India at its meeting on 7th August, 2019 has decided to reduce the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 35 basis points (bps) from 5.75% to 5.40% with immediate effect. 
  • Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands revised to 5.15%, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 5.65%.
  • GDP forecast scaled down to 6.9% for 2019-20 from 7.0% earlier.
  • The MPC also decided to maintain the accommodative stance of monetary policy.

Pension Fund Manager CPPIB Looks To Re-Enter Private Debt Market In India

  •  Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), biggest pension fund manager  is looking to re-enter the private debt market in India.
  • In 2014, it had formed a joint venture (JV) with Piramal Enterprises to provide debt financing for real estate projects, which did not take off well.
  • The desire to enter the private debt space in India comes when there is an acute fund crunch in real estate and among non-banking financial companies, after August 2018 defaults by the IL&FS group.

Apple, Goldman Sachs Start Issuing Apple Cards

  •  The Apple card is designed to work with the iPhone, where users sign up for the card and can start using it immediately if approved via the Apple Wallet app and Apple Pay system.
  • Apple Inc rolled out its virtual credit card , working with bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc on the new iPhone add-on that may help Apple diversify from device sales and build out the Wall Street bank's new consumer business.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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'Indestructible' Earthlings on Moon?

  •  Tardigrades can withstand extreme radiation, sizzling heat, the coldest temperatures, and decades without food.
  • These terrifying-sounding beings aren't aliens but instead microscopic Earthlings known as tardigrades, who likely made it out alive following a crash landing on the lunar surface by Israel's Beresheet probe, the US-based organisation responsible for their trip. 
  • Based on an analysis of the spacecraft's trajectory and the composition of the device the micro-animals were stored in, it is believed that the chances of survival for the tardigrades  are extremely high.

SPORTS

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Sourav, Bhajji close ranks after notice to Dravid

  •   According to the notice, Rahul Dravid has a conflict of interest as he is the National Cricket Academy director and vice-president of India Cements, which owns IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.
  • Ganguly was backed by offspinner Harbhajan Singh, who excelled under his captaincy.
  • The BCCI ethics officer, Justice (Retd) DK Jain, issued the notice to Dravid on conflict of interest allegations made by Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association member Sanjay Gupta.
  • Gupta had earlier filed similar conflict of interest complaints against former cricketers VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar for their roles as Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) members and mentors of IPL franchises Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians respectively.

Forbes money list: Serena 1, Osaka 2, Sindhu T13 with $5.5m

  •   India's badminton star PV Sindhu is the only athlete from the country to be named among the world's highest-paid female athletes by Forbes, a list topped by tennis great Serena Willams.
  • According to Forbes, shuttler PV Sindhu is India's most marketable female athlete.
  • With total earnings of 5.5 million dollars, Sindhu is tied for the 13th place in The Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019 list released by Forbes.
  • The list of the world's top 15 female athletes is topped by Williams, with total earnings of $29.2 million. Williams plans to play through at least next year but is already planning her next act with a clothing line, 'S by Serena', and designs to launch jewellery and beauty products lines by the end of 2020. 

Vinesh Phogat wins third successive gold in 53kg

  •  Star India grappler Vinesh Phogat has bagged gold in women's 53kg category of the Poland Open wrestling tournament in Warsaw. 
  • The 24-year-old prevailed 3-2 over local wrestler Roksana in the final of the competition. 
  • This was her third consecutive gold in the 53 kg category after winning Gold at Grand Prix of Spain and at the Yasar Dogu International at Istanbul, Turkey in July 2019.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Delhi Airport on Alert

  •  Due to increased security ahead of Independence Day celebrations, the Delhi airport operator asked domestic flyers to reach at least three hours in advance and international passengers four hours prior to departure.
  • The move also comes at a time when security has been heightened across several installations in the country after the Union government's decision to nullify the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate it into two Union Territories.
  • The operator also said entry to the meet and greet area will be barred from August 10-20, 2019.

Mufti Tells MPs to Resign from RS

  •  Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti wants her two members of Parliament to resign from the Rajya Sabha. She passed a message to them, telling them to resign or to face expulsion. 
  • The Peoples Democratic Party, which was in an alliance with the BJP till the latter withdrew support in June 2018, has two members in the Upper House. Mir Fayaz and Nazir Ahmed Laway tore up the Constitution in the Rajya Sabha, soon after the government introduced the move in Rajya Sabha. 

Delhi to join league of states with digital anganwadi centres

  •  Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, announced that 10,000-odd anganwadi workers in the city will be given smartphones for real-time monitoring of centres.  
  • This makes Delhi the 11th state so far to join the league of digitised anganwadi centres.
  • The smartphone initiative is in line with Centre's POSHAN Abhiyan scheme, rolled out in 2018, which provides for digitisation of anganwadis across the country and 50% of the total cost of the initiative will be incurred by the Central government.
  • Smartphones will have pre-installed applications that would enable Aadhaar based registration of people employed in the anganwadi, record their attendance, registering the centre's opening and closing time and sharing daily photographs and details of children being served food.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Munkad Ali Is BSP UP Chief After Party Rejig

  •  Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati restructured the party organisation by appointing former Rajya Sabha member Munkad Ali as the president of the BSP's Uttar Pradesh unit. 
  • She also removed party leader in the Lok Sabha, Danish Ali, replacing him with Shyam Singh Yadav, an MP from Jaunpur seat.
  • Danish Ali, who had been with the Janata Dal (Secular) for long, joined the BSP just before the Lok Sabha polls.
  • Outgoing state president RS Kushwaha has been made national general secretary.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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NATIONAL HAPPINESS HAPPENS DAY

  •  Founded in 1999 by the Secret Society of Happy People as "Admit You're Happy Day," Happiness Happens Day was created to recognize and express happiness.  August 8th was chosen as it is the anniversary of the first membership in 1998.
  • The Secret Society of Happy People is an organization that was founded in August of 1998 and formed to celebrate the expression of happiness.
  • The society encourages members to recognize their happy moments and think about happiness in their daily life. 
  • They have two motto's which include "Happiness Happens" and "Don't Even Think of Raining on My Parade."  Their purpose is to stimulate people's right to express their happiness.

Nation observes 77th anniversary of Quit India movement

  •  The 77th anniversary of the August Kranti Din, which is considered as one of the important milestones in the history of freedom struggle of our country, is being observed on August 8. 
  • On this date in 1942, Mahatma Gandhi gave a clarion call to end the British rule and launched the Quit India Movement at the session of the All-India Congress Committee in Mumbai. 
  • After the failure of Cripps Mission, Gandhiji gave the call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai. 

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Abhinandan, Balakot pilots to get top military honours

  •  The government will announce military decorations for Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 during a dogfight over the Line of Control on February 27, 2019 and the Mirage-2000 pilots involved in the operation a day before that to precision bomb a terror base in Pakistan's Balakot.
  • Varthaman is likely to be awarded a Vir Chakra for his exploits, and the five Mirage2000 fighter aces who dropped bombs on the terror facility of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry. 

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Best Rajya Sabha session in 17 years with 31 Bills Passed

  •  The budget session of the Rajya Sabha, has scripted a turnaround story and is the best session conducted in the last 17 years.
  • As many as 31 bills were passed in the budget session alone compared to 33 bills in the last five sessions. With a productivity of 104%, the performance of the 249th session of the Rajya Sabha -- during which the triple talaq and Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill were passed -- is the fifth best in the last 41 years.

Owner must take action within 12 years or his rights are lost: Supreme Court

  •  According to the Limitation Act 1963, Limitation for possession of immovable property or any interest is 12 years in case of private property, however, it is 30 years for public property.
  • Key highlights:
  • If an owner fails to take action to get back possession within 12 years then his or her rights are lost
  • SC said that no benefit of adverse possession will be given who encroach upon public land
  • Limitation for possession of immovable property is 30 yrs for public property

     The Supreme Court said if a rightful owner of the immovable property fails to take action to get back possession within the limitation period then his or her rights are lost. A person in possession or squatter will acquire an absolute title, but apex court has said that no benefit of adverse possession will be given to people who encroach upon public land.

ART AND CULTURE

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Lalit Kala Akademi celebrated its 65th Foundation Day

  •  Lalit Kala Akademi celebrated its 65th Foundation Day on August 5th, 2019. Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Culture & Tourism inaugurated the celebrations in New Delhi.
  • Lalit Kala Akademi or National Academy of Art was established in New Delhi in 1954 by the government to promote and propagate understanding of Indian art, in and outside the country.
  •  The Academy provides scholarships, fellowship programmes and organizes art-related exhibitions in India and overseas. The artwork and painting exhibitions will be open for public till the 12th of August 2019.

J&K's 'Machail Mata Yatra' suspended due to security reasons

  •  The 43-day-long 'Machail Mata Yatra' in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir was suspended due to security reasons.
  • Authorities have asked people not to start the yatra and those on the way should leave and get back.
  • The yatra commenced on July 25, 2019 and was scheduled to end on September 5, 2019.
  • Thousands of devotees from across the country visit the scenic Paddar valley, also famous for its sapphire mines, during the yatra and pay obeisance at the holy shrine of goddess Durga in Machail village of Kishtwar after trekking a 30-km arduous route.

BIS to set up Pashmina testing centre in Leh

  •  Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Director General Ms. Surina Rajan said that BIS would set up a Pashmina testing centre in Leh, in partnership with the lab of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh.
  • 'Drive for Pashmina', a Motor bike expedition to create awareness and promote Pashmina is flagged by the Hill council CEC Gyal P Wangyal and BIS DG Surina Rajan. The expedition was flagged off by the Ladakh MP from Delhi.

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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IndiGo offers direct flights to Silchar

  •  IndiGo has started offering direct flights to Silchar, Assam and also announced daily flights toDoha. IndiGo flight number 6E 6558 will depart from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU) in Kolkata at 7.30 am and arrive at Silchar Airport at 8.45 am daily starting from September 20, 2019.

Rixos Hotels inks deal to re-launch its largest resort in Egypt

  •  Rixos Hotels has signed a deal to operate its largest all-inclusive resort on Egypt's Red Sea Riviera.
  • Part of the Accor portfolio, the group has partnered with Eastern Company for Investment and Touristic Development to re-launch the Rixos Makadi Bay, Hurghada.
  • This agreement to manage the world's largest luxury resort in the Egyptian Riviera overlooking the Red Sea is the latest milestone to follow Accor's acquisition of 50% of Rixos Hotels' shares as part of its expansion strategy in the Middle East.
  • The project, scheduled to launch in 2020, will eventually expand the existing property on the bay to feature 1,636 keys and world-class leisure and sports facilities.

Hampton by Hilton Celebrates Rapid Global Expansion to 2,500 Open Hotels

  •  Hilton brand remains category leader after 35 years as it enters new markets and achieves largest pipeline in brand history
  • In August 2019, Hampton by Hilton continues to lead the upper-midscale category worldwide as the brand celebrates its 2,500th open hotel with Hampton by Hilton Lima San Isidro in Peru. 
  • The milestone opening demonstrates Hampton's successful global growth strategy over the past 35 years – high-quality and thoughtfully designed accommodations, award-winning customer service culture and value-added amenities – all backed by the industry-leading 100 percent Hampton Guarantee
  •  Hilton's largest brand now offers nearly 260,000 rooms worldwide across 27 countries and territories.
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