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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 Aug 2019


Under Pressure From Trump, Israel Bars Visit By Two US Democratic lawmakers

  •  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barred US Democratic congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from making a planned trip to Israel, shortly after US President Donald Trump called on his ally not to let them in.
  • Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are members of their party's progressive wing and sharp critics both of Trump and of Israel's policy toward the Palestinians.
  • The moves, which were immediately condemned by many Democratic leaders in the United States as well as Palestinians, could help whip up support among Trump and Netanyahu's conservative voter bases as they head into election campaigns.

Italian Becomes First Space DJ

  •  Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano of European Space Agency (ESA) has become the first space DJ, after playing a set from the International Space Station to a cruise ship of clubbers in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The set, which lasted between 15 and 20 minutes, was broadcast live as a curtain-raiser for a huge music cruise in Ibiza
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Papad, Honey, Cosmetics Push Khadi Commission Sales Up 25%

  •  At a time when businesses are complaining of demand slowing down, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has reported an over 25% jump in sales to a little under Rs 75,000 crore during 2018-19.
  • And, it is the humble papad, honey and cosmetics that have contributed to a major chunk of the state-owned entity's revenues, with the much-hyped khadi products contributing just around 4.3% of the overall sales during 2018.
  •  KVIC's sales growth is the fastest in four years and comes after a "moderate" 13% rise in 2017-18. The entity managed to stay in the black with a small profit of Rs 15 crore.
  • KVIC's sales are almost twice that of HUL's, the country's largest consumer goods company which reported gross sales of a little under Rs 38,000 crore during 2018, although its net profit was 400 times higher at over Rs 6,000 crore.

Buffett's Berkshire Boosts Stake In Amazon By 11%

  •  Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway boosted its stake in Amazon by 11% during the second quarter, increasing its bet on the powerful online retailer even as stocks traded near record highs.
  • Berkshire said it ended June 2019 with 537,300 Amazon shares worth about $1.02 billion, up from 483,300 shares three months earlier.
  • It made the disclosure in a regulatory filing detailing the $208 billion of US-listed stocks it owned as of June 30, 2019.

AI To Auction Over 60 Real Estate Assets

  •  Air India Ltd is auctioning more than 60 real estate assets, including some it could not sell at its last auction in April, 2019, as the debt-laden national carrier makes a renewed attempt to raise funds. The last date for submitting bids is August 30, 2019,  according to a tender document issued by the airline.
  • State-owned MSTC Ltd, which specializes in conducting e-auctions, will handle the online auction for Air India.
  • The properties on the block include a 14-apartment residential building at Mumbai's Pali Hill, individual apartments at Mahim, Colaba and Bandra, apart from houses, flats and residential flats in Kolkata, Nashik, Bengaluru, Lonavala, Hyderabad, Gwalior, Delhi, Amritsar and Bhuj, among others.
  • The reserve price of these units range from Rs. 15 lakh to about Rs. 8 crore.   
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World Jr Cycling Gold For India

  •  The Indian national anthem rang out for the first time at the award ceremony of the Junior Track Cycling World Championships as Esow Alben, L Ronaldo Singh, Y Rojit Singh and Jemsh Singh stepped on to the podium. 
  •  The Indian boys' sprint team were making history—this was India's first gold at a world cycling event, senior or junior.
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 Narendra Modi Independence Day 2019 speech

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of 73rd Independence Day. In his speech, which lasted for 92 minutes, PM Modi talked about the key problems facing the nation and how India could remove all obstacles to reach Rs 5-trillion economy mark. 
The major highlightes of PM's Independence Day speech are:
  • India to have chief of defence staff
  • Rs 100 lakh crore to be invested on infrastructure
  • PM promotes small family
  • Promoting exports top priority
  • PM Modi emphasised on the need to boost exports in his address  to the nation.
  • 'Made in India' products should be priority PM Modi said the county should think of consuming local products, improving rural economy and the MSME sector.
  • Water conservation top priority
  • Free India from single use plastic
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India To Get Joint Chief Of Forces

  •  India will have a Chief of Defence Staff,  approving a proposal aimed at creating a post that would act as a single-point military adviser to the government and is expected to ensure better coordination among armed forces.
  • Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of 73rd Independence Day, the PM stressed the need for more synergy between the Army, Navy and Air Force at a time when the security situation is changing.
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Guj's Anand To Host India's First Crocodile Fest For Kids

  •  'Crocs & ladders', 'mugger, mugger, tara inda laav' – these are some of the fun games through which nearly 135 children of primary schools in lush green Charotar belt will learn to live in harmony with the otherwise scary crocodiles.
  • The games will be part of India's first 'Children croc fest' to be held at Malataj village, 20 km from Anand, on August 20, 2019 where children of class VI to IX from 11 villages whose wetlands have a healthy population of crocodiles will be taught to become future custodians of the reptiles.
  • Charotar region comprising Anand and Kheda districts is home to nearly 272 reptiles with Malataj having 40 crocodiles in a single lake.
  • From Busch Wildlife Sanctuary at Florida to Australia, croc fests have become an annual feature in many countries.
  • But most of them act as a platform for researchers, scientists and reptile lovers to raise funds to conduct further research on the reptiles.

Bennington Battle Day

  •  Bennington Battle Day is a state holiday unique to Vermont, commemorating the American victory over British forces at the Battle of Bennington during the American Revolutionary War in 1777.
  •  The holiday's date is fixed, occurring on August 16 every year.
  • In Bennington, there is a battle re-enactment put on by the local history foundation.
  • The Battle of Bennington took place in New York, but is so named because the British were headed for a cache of weapons and munitions stored where the Bennington Battle Monument now stands in present-day Old Bennington, Vermont
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ISRO Chairman K Sivan Conferred With A P J Abdul Kalam Award

  •   In recognition of K Sivan's stellar work in promotion of science and technology, Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman  is conferred with APJ Abdul Kalam Award.
  • The award carries 8 gm gold medal, Rs five lakh in cash and a citation. 

Rajasthan Gets Award At World Education Summit

  •  Rajasthan has bagged the "best innovation and initiative leadership award" for its achievements in higher education in the World Education Summit-2019 held in New Delhi.
  • Minister of State for Higher Education Bhanwar Singh Bhati received the award at the 14th summit organised .
  • Mr. Bhati threw light on the initiatives taken in the State for promoting higher education with the emphasis on inculcating ethical values among the students, improving their personality through extra-curricular activities and developing their skills to face competitive exams.
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Women Can Travel For Free On City Buses From Oct 29, 2019

  •  Announcing the initiative as a "Raksha Bandhan gift for women", the Delhi CM said the free rides will be offered by buses run by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) as well as orange-coloured buses that are managed by private concessionaires.
  • Travel will be free for women in all DTC and cluster buses from October 29, 2019, which again is the day of Bhai Dooj. 

3.3 Lakhs Cr Announced For Water Mission

  •  PM Narendra Modi turned the focus on the country's precarious water situation in his Independence Day speech, announcing Rs.3.35 lakh crore for the government's ambitious Jal Jeevan Mission to conserve water resources and provide drinking water for all.
  • Urging people to conserve water, Modi said half the country's households still lacked access to drinking water, although previous governments too tried in their own ways to mitigate the water crisis.
  • Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, the Har Ghar Jal programme aims to provide all rural households with piped drinking water.
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New TB Drug Gets US FDA Nod

  •  The Food and Drug Administration endorsed the approach, approving the newest of the three drugs used in the regimen.
  • Usually, the World Health Organization adopts approvals made by the FDA or its European counterpart, meaning the treatment could soon come into use worldwide.
  • Tuberculosis has now surpassed AIDS as the world's leading infectious cause of death, and the so-called XDR strain is the ultimate in lethality.
  • Only a tiny fraction of the 10 million people infected by TB each year get this type, but very few of them survive it. The treatment itself is extraordinarily difficult.
  • But in the trial Msimango joined, nicknamed Nix-TB, patients took only five pills a day for six months.
  • The pills contain just three drugs: pretomanid, bedaquiline and linezolid. (Someday, the whole regimen might come in just one pill, as HIV drugs do, one expert said.)
  • But even the new treatment poses hazards. Short-term use of linezolid against severe hospital infections causes few problems, but use for many weeks against TB can kill nerves in the feet, making it hard to walk, or can suppress the bone marrow where blood cells are made.
  • The FDA approved bedaquiline in 2012 for use against multi-drug resistant TB (the XDR strain is an even deadlier subset), and in 2015 the WHO followed suit.
  • FDA advisory committee voted 14-4 to approve it. Some advocacy groups argued at the time that the drug had been too little tested. 

Rajasthan Launches New Higher Education Model

  •  A new higher education model has been launched in Rajasthan for distribution of faculties and movable assets among the government colleges at the district level to rationalise the availability of resources.
  • The model will create a pool for sharing of facilities which will benefit the colleges lacking infrastructure.
  • Minister of State for Higher Education Bhanwar Singh Bhati inaugurated the model, titled Resource Assistance for Colleges with Excellence, in the presence of principals of colleges.
  • The colleges would get equal opportunities for imparting quality education with the adoption of the new model.
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Indians Spend Record Forex On Int'l Travel

  •  Indians spent $596 million on foreign travel in June, 2019. 
  • This accounted for 42% of the retail foreign exchange purchased by Indian individuals.
  •  In the first quarter of FY20, international travel cost the country $1,594 billion (38%) of the total $4,181 billion in forex purchased by individuals. 
  • The second-highest category has been education. In April-June 2018, travel accounted for $1 billion out of a total spend of $3 billion. 
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UK, US Return Rare Stolen Items To India On I-Day

  •  Two stolen items with origins in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were  handed over to Indian high commissioner Ruchi Ghanshyam on Independence Day following a joint investigation by American and British agencies.
  • Two antique artifacts — a carved limestone relief from Andhra Pradesh estimated to be from 1st century BC to 1st century AD and a 17th century Nayaka-period Navaneetha Krishna bronze from Tamil Nadu — were handed over to the high commissioner of India in London  by the US authorities.
  • The two artifacts are linked to one of the most prolific art smugglers in the world who was recently charged in Manhattan, New York.

Prakash Javadekar Releases Patriotic Song Watan In Run Up To Independence Day

  •  Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar today released a patriotic song Watan in New Delhi in the run up to the Independence Day. The special song has been produced by Doordarshan.
  • The song pays tribute to New India. It highlights several path-breaking initiatives of the government including the determination and vision behind the recent successful launch of Chandrayaan 2.
  • The song also pays tribute to the bravery and valour of the armed forces and the martyrs of the country.
  • The song has been sung by famous Bollywood singer Javed Ali. It has been penned by lyricist Alok Shrivastav and music composed by Dushyant. 

'Panchamirtham' of Palani Temple Gets GI Tag

  • The famous Palani panchamirtham, given as 'prasadam' at the Murugan temple there, has been granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
  • This is the first time a temple 'prasadam' from Tamil Nadu has been bestowed with the GI tag. The application was filed by the Joint Commissioner/Executive Officer, Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Thirukkoil, North Giriveethi, Adivaram, Palani.
  • Chinnaraja G. Naidu, Deputy Registrar of Geographical Indications, confirmed that the GI tag had been given for the panchamirtham.
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