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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

14 Dec 2019


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Donald Trump Impeachment Looms As US House Committee Approves Charges

  • Democrats in the US House of Representatives took Republican President Donald Trump to the brink of impeachment by approving two charges against him over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
  • A divided House Judiciary Committee voted 23-17 along party lines to approve articles of impeachment charging Trump with abusing the power of his office over the Ukraine scandal and obstructing House Democrats` attempts to investigate him for it.
  • Trump is expected to become the third US President to be impeached when the full Democratic-led House votes on the charges, likely next week, setting up a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Johnson Gets Landslide Mandate

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson swept into Downing Street after the Conservative Party won a thumping majority, gaining what he called a "powerful new mandate to get Brexit done", and potentially ending uncertainty in the United Kingdom (UK) since the 2016 EU referendum.
  • The Conservative Party won 365 of the 649 seats declared (the House of Commons' strength is 650), comfortably passing the 326 majority mark that had eluded it in the 2017 midterm election, sending the pound north against the dollar.
  • Buoyed by the landslide win, Johnson, who called the election to resolve the Brexit imbroglio, said Brexit is now the "unarguable decision of the British people", seeking to set at rest deep divisions in the country between those who want to remain or leave the European Union (EU).
  • Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who led the party to one of its worst election tallies of 203, said amid recriminations by colleagues that he would not lead the party into the next election, but will stay on in the post for a "period of reflection".

Japanese PM Calls off India Visit

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called off a visit to India amid violent protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in Guwahati, where he was due to hold an annual summit with his counterpart Narendra Modi.
  • The government planned to hold the December 15-17, 2019 summit in Assam's main city as part of efforts to showcase the country's diversity by holding high-profile diplomatic events outside the national capital. The two leaders were also expected to make a brief visit to a World War 2 memorial in Imphal.
  • Guwahati, which was chosen because Japan has provided considerable aid to develop infrastructure in India's northeastern states, has been at the centre of violent protests against the CAA that left two people dead and caused widespread damage to public property.
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Delhi Records Highest Rain for Dec. in 27 Years

  • Delhi witnessed the highest rainfall recorded in a single day in the month of December in at least 27 years since 1991, from when data has been readily available with the met department. Delhi recorded 33.5 mm rain.
  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) data shows the highest rainfall ever recorded in the month was on December 3, 1923, when the city received 75.7mm rainfall. In December 16, 2003, 28mm rainfall was recorded.
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AU SFB Raises Rs. 525 cr from Temasek Arm

  • AU Small Finance Bank said that Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek through its wholly-owned subsidiary Camas Investments Pte invested Rs. 525 crore ($74 million) in the lender by conversion of warrants. With this investment, Temasek firmed up its stake at 4.8% in AU Bank.
  • As per managing director and CEO Sanjay Agarwal, the completion of Temasek's investment is a reflection of the uniqueness of our secured retail and steadily growing granular deposit franchise, stable portfolio quality, margins and growth headroom.

RIL Arm Buys Stake in Asteria

  • Reliance Industries Ltd's (RIL) wholly-owned subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd (RSBVL) acquired over 51% stake in Asteria Aerospace for Rs. 23.12 crore. The investment will further enable the group's initiatives in emerging technology. RSBVL proposes to make a further investment of up to Rs. 125 crore, subject to Asteria achieving agreed milestones. Post the further investment, the shareholding of RSBVL will increase to 87.3% of the equity share capital of Asteria.

Piramal Realty Signs Partnership with Omkar

  • Piramal Realty, the real estate unit of Piramal Group, entered into a joint development agreement with another local builder Omkar Realtors & Developers to develop a residential project in Mumbai's Mahim area with a total investment of around Rs. 3000 crore.
  • This is the second time both the firms entered into such a partnership, the first one being a luxury housing project at Mahalakshmi, a neighbourhood in south Mumbai.
  • Under the existing partnership, Piramal plans to develop 2.2 million square feet over 4 acres in Mahim, making it the residential projects in the area.
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NASA Selects Nightingale Crater for Asteroid Sample Collection

  • After a year scoping out asteroid Bennu's boulder-scattered surface, the team leading NASA's first asteroid sample return mission officially selected a sample collection site.
  • The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission team concluded a site designated "Nightingale" – located in a crater high in Bennu's northern hemisphere.
  • The OSIRIS-REx team spent the past several months evaluating close-range data from four candidate sites in order to identify the best option for the sample collection. The candidate sites – dubbed Sandpiper, Osprey, Kingfisher and Nightingale – were chosen for investigation because, of all the potential sampling regions on Bennu, these areas pose the fewest hazards to the spacecraft's safety while still providing the opportunity for great samples to be gathered.
  • After thoroughly evaluating all four candidate sites, the final decision based on which site has the greatest amount of fine-grained material and how easily the spacecraft can access that material while keeping the spacecraft safe. Of the four candidates, site Nightingale best meets these criteria and, ultimately, best ensures mission success.
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Bravo Comes Out of T20I Retirement

  • Dwayne Bravo announced his availability for T20Is, two days before the West Indies start the three-match ODI series against India at the city's MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk. Bravo, a Chennai Super Kings player since 2011 who returned to the team once its suspension was lifted in the Indian Premier League in 2018, said that he is making himself available only for the shortest format, 5 days and 10 months before the T20 World Cup in Australia.
  • Bravo had quit international cricket in October 2018.
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Kejriwal Urges Maliwal to End Hunger Strike

  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal to put an end to her hunger strike.
  • Maliwal had started an indefinite hunger strike in December 2019 in the aftermath of the gang rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad.
  • The DCW chief had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to bring legislation to ensure that those individuals accused of rape are convicted and hanged to death within six months of committing the criminal offence.

SC Notice to EC over Plea on Election Data

  • The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on the pleas of two NGOs seeking a probe into alleged discrepancies between voter turnout and the number of votes counted in 347 constituencies during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
  • A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde tagged the plea of the two NGOs along with the pending matters and listed it for hearing in February 2020.
  • The plea filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Common Cause sought a direction to the Election Commission to formulate a robust procedure to investigate discrepancies in the data in all future elections.
  • Citing the data of a research conducted by a team of its experts, the ADR said there were serious discrepancies between the number of voters in different constituencies, that is the voter turnout data collated and provided by the EC and the number of votes counted. It claimed that findings of the research revealed several discrepancies, including those in the master summary of 542 constituencies. Discrepancies were found in 347 seats.

Centre Effects Major Bureaucratic Reshuffle

  • The government affected a major bureaucratic reshuffle appointing senior Indian Administrative Service officer T. V. Somanathan as the expenditure secretary, Ravi Mittal as the I&B secretary, and shifting higher education secretary R. Subrahmanyam to the social justice ministry.
  • Senior bureaucrat Amit Khare was appointed the new higher education secretary.
  • The change in the higher education department came against the backdrop of a prolonged agitation over an increase in fee at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
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China Plans to Scale Up Defence Cooperation with Pakistan

  • China plans to scale up its defence cooperation with its all-weather ally Pakistan to co-produce ballistic missiles, in an apparent retaliation to India developing the nuclear-capable Agni V missile that has a range of over 5,000 km covering whole of China.
  • Declining to react to Chinese official media reports that Beijing plans to co-produce ballistic and cruise missiles with Pakistan, besides mass production of military aircraft, Chinese Foreign Ministry however said Beijing stands for strategic balance in South Asia.
  • "On Pakistan army chief's visit to China, the Pakistan military has released information about the meetings between the him and the Chinese counterpart," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told media briefing in Beijing.

Singapore Navy Liaison Joins IFC-IOR

  • Singapore joined the Indian initiative to strengthen the maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean Region by agreeing to send its officer to the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR).
  • The IFC-IOR was established keeping in mind the significance of the Indian Ocean to world trade and security. Seventy-five per cent of the world's maritime trade and 50 per cent of global oil pass through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) 75.
  • IFC-IOR was inaugurated in December 2018 and is tasked to collate, fuse and disseminate intelligence on 'White Shipping' in the Indian Ocean.
  • It aims to base 40 international liaison officers. India signed information exchange agreement with 22 countries and one multinational construct — the Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre which facilitates 30 other countries to create a virtual network for exchange of information.
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Nirmala Sitharaman Among World's 100 most Powerful Women

  • Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was ranked as the 34th most powerful woman in the world on Forbes's 'The World's 100 Most Powerful Women' list, 2019 leaving behind Queen Elizabeth II who is placed on the 40th spot and US President Donald Trump's daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump, who is on the 42nd spot.
  • Nirmala Sitharaman was placed ahead of New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The ranking of the Finance Minister ahead of some of the most noteworthy personalities of the world depicts India's rising power globally.
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World Energy Conservation Day

  • World Energy Conservation Day is celebrated on 14th December globally to highlight the importance of energy consumption and its use in our day-to-day life, its scarcity and its impact on sustainability of global eco systems. It focuses our concentration on significant issues facing the future of mankind with respect to energy. This day serves to spell a sense of urgency on the issues involved.
  • It is a day for building up awareness regarding
        - Need for energy conservation,
        - Energy efficiency
        - Frugality in energy use.
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AP Clears Bill Seeking Death Penalty for Rapists

  • The Andhra Pradesh assembly passed two bills to amend the Indian Penal Code to enable expeditious investigation and trial of offences against women and children.
  • The first bill seeks to award death penalty for rapists and the second to take stringent action for atrocities against women by setting up special courts to deal with such offences.
  • The Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Andhra Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2019, prescribes death penalty for rapes in which there is conclusive evidence. The bill envisages an amendment of Section 376 (Punishment for rape) of the IPC. This apart, the Bill also reduces the judgment period to 21 working days, with seven days for investigation and 14 for trial.
  • The bill prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children. During the discussion on the bill, Andhra Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy said as the criminal law was part of the concurrent list of State and Centre, the new bill would be sent to the Centre for Presidential assent.
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Thai Massage Enters UNESCO Heritage List

  • At Bangkok's Reclining Buddha temple, Krairath Chantrasri said that he is a proud custodian of an ancient skill - the body-folding, sharp-elbowed techniques of Thai massage, which was added to UNESCO's prestigious heritage list.
  • Nuad Thai's addition to UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage practices is historic, said the Thai delegate at the UN Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation meeting in Bogota, Colombia.
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Over 1,000 Relics Recovered from Syrian Museum

  • More than 1,000 ancient relics and mosaics were saved from Islamic State group militants when staff at the museum of the Syrian city of Raqqa managed to hide them underground and in storehouses. Hundreds of other pieces that were hidden in Raqqa's branch of the central bank were discovered and stolen by militants.
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