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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

21 Dec 2019


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Trump Seeks Immediate Trial in Senate after Impeachment

  • Donald Trump has demanded "an immediate trial" from Democrats after the timing of the Senate hearing was cast into doubt just a day after the House impeached a president for only the third time in history.
  • Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, refused to reveal when she would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which is required for a trial.
  • The move was seen as an attempt to pressure Republicans into accepting Democratic demands that White House officials, who had refused to testify before the impeachment inquiry, be called as witnesses at trial.

Mahathir Mohamad Criticises CAA

  • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticised India's Citizenship (Amendment) Act and said that people are dying because of this law, prompting New Delhi to dismiss his remarks as factually inaccurate.
  • Talking to reporters on the margins of the Kuala Lumpur Summit, Mahathir questioned the necessity of the CAA when people of different faiths have lived together for 70 years in India.

Parliament Passes Johnson's Brexit Bill

  • The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on January 31, as promised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the House of Commons passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
  • Johnson sought to unite the house that was bitterly divided since the 2016 EU referendum, which made it impossible for former Prime Minister Theresa May to get the agreement bill passed on three occasions.
  • Lawmakers voted by 358 to 234 to pass the second reading of the legislation.While Johnson had the support of his 365 Conservative lawmakers in the 650-seat Lower House.
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Tata Chem. Buys Balance Stake in TCSAP

  • Tata Chemicals acquired the remaining 25 per cent stake in Tata Chemicals (Soda Ash) Partners Holdings for $195 million or Rs. 1,387.2 crore. Following the transaction, Tata Chemicals ownership in Tata Chemicals (Soda Ash) Partners increased to 100 per cent.
  • TCSAPH owns 100 per cent interest in Tata Chemicals (Soda Ash) Partners (TCSAP), the soda ash operating entity in the United States. The turnover of TCSAP for the year ended March 2019 was $465.5 million compared to $491 million in March 2018.

Reliance, Shell India to Transfer Stake in Panna-Mukta oil Fields

  • Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Shell India-owned BG Exploration and Production India Ltd (BGEPIL) will transfer their entire stake in Panna-Mukta oil and gas fields to state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd (ONGC). RIL, BG Exploration and ONGC have been operating the Panna-Mukta fields in a joint venture for the past 25 years.
  • In the Panna-Mukta and Tapti (PMT) joint venture, ONGC held 40% stake, while RIL and BG Exploration owned 30% stake each. BG Exploration is a subsidiary of Shell India.
  • The production sharing contracts (PSC) for the Panna-Mukta and Tapti fields, which were executed by the PMT JV with the government of India in 1994, expired on 21 December 2019.

Flag Countries Placing Non-tariff Barriers: Goyal

  • Union minister Piyush Goyal asked the industry to flag the countries that are placing non-tariff barriers on Indian exports and promised to take retaliatory actions against those countries.
  • Speaking at the 92nd Annual Convention of FICCI, the Commerce and Industry Minister also said that India needs to get more competitive, and stressed on addressing the problems of the entire value chain, be it inverted duties, dumping, or unfair subsidies.
  • He further said that the stakeholders need to tell the government, which country is using any trade remedial measures or non-tariff barriers which impact their exports to that country.
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New Form of Uranium Found

  • A new form of uranium has been discovered which is likely to have implications for current nuclear waste disposal plans.
  • Many governments are planning to dispose of radioactive waste by burying it deep underground. However, new research has found that in such storage conditions a new chemical form of uranium can temporarily occur, while small amounts of uranium are released into solution. If uranium is in solution, it could make its way into groundwater.
  • Governments are searching for a way to safely dispose of the waste, and an international consensus is moving towards geological nuclear waste disposal – burying it several hundred metres underground. Many countries are already building such disposal units.

Boeing Astronaut Ship Stalls in Orbit

  • The Boeing Company is going to have to cut short the uncrewed demonstration flight of its new astronaut capsule.
  • The Starliner launched successfully on its Atlas rocket from Florida, but later suffered technical problems that prevented it from taking the right path to the International Space Station.
  • It appears the capsule burnt too much fuel as it fired its engines, leaving an insufficient supply to complete its planned mission.
  • Starliner will now come back to Earth.
  • A landing is expected at New Mexico's White Sands testing range.
  • The craft will use parachutes and airbags to make a soft touchdown on desert terrain.
  • Flight controllers recognised the problem but were unable to intervene quickly enough because the capsule was passing between satellite links.

Device to Detect Bacterial Attack on Crops

  • Rishikesh Amit Nayak created a device which can detect a bacterial attack on crops and alert farmers on the type of bacteria, potential diseases and prevention. Nayak's technology won the best innovation price at Avishkar make-a-thon competition.
  • Nayak claims his invention is more advanced than the current bacterial attack detection technology used by NABARD. He said that theirs gives results in a month, while his invention can do it in 12 hours. His technology uses thermal imaging instead of chemical composition. A dip or rise in temperature of plants can help us detect their health.
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Arsenal Appoints Former Captain Mikel Arteta as Head Coach

  • Arsenal appointed Mikel Arteta as the new head coach on a three-and-a-half-year deal.
  • Arteta leaves his role as Manchester City assistant manager and replaces Freddie Ljungberg, who took over as interim head coach following Unai Emery's sacking at the end of November, 2019.
  • Arteta had been working as a coach under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, joining the club in 2016 after retiring as a player.
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AAP Kicks Off Election Campaign with a New Slogan

  • 'Acche beete paanch saal, lage raho Kejriwal (The last five years went well, keep going, Kejriwal)' will be the Aam Aadmi Party's campaign mantra for the Delhi assembly elections, scheduled to be held early next year (2020), as the party kick-started its campaign to seek a re-election for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
  • Besides the new slogan, the party also introduced a new colour scheme — a black background to accompany the party's conventional white and blue — for its election advertisements with poll strategist Prashant Kishor's I-PAC being given the charge of designing the AAP's poll campaign.
  • The party's slogan in the 2015 elections, in which it won 67 of the 70 seats, was 'Paanch saal Kejriwal (Kejriwal for five years)'.

Pro-CAA Agitation in Central Park

  • Scores of people staged a demonstration in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Central Park in Cannaught Place.
  • The protesters raised slogans in favour of the Narendra Modi government and hailed the central government for bringing the law.
  • Slogans of 'Vande Matram' reverberated the venue as the demonstrators celebrated the enactment of CAA, terming it a great win for minority refugees from the neighbouring country.
  • The pro-CAA demonstrations come amid multiple protests against the new legislation in several parts of the national capital for the last few days. A similar rally was held in Rajghat.

India Holds Talks with Canada

  • The process of re-engagement between India and Canada commenced with a meeting between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his counterpart François-Philippe Champagne.
  • This was the first ministerial-level bilateral meeting in more than a year-and-a-half, as ties had come to a standstill since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ill-fated visit to India in 2018.
  • Issues such as Kashmir and the revocation of the state's special status figured in the discussions. Trudeau met Jaishankar, who tweeted, "We agreed to raise the quality of our relationship and chart a path for the next 5 years."
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India Set to Sign Deal for Apache Copters

  • India is all set to hammer out a deal with the United States for six Apache attack helicopters for the army. The army will deploy attack helicopters for the first time.
  • The Boeing-manufactured helicopters and associated equipment cleared by the council are expected to cost around $930 million. The Apache purchase is before the cabinet committee on security for final clearance. The deal will be inked in early 2020.
  • The AH-64E Apache multi-role combat helicopters are being bought under the US foreign military sales programme, Washington's government-to-government method for selling US-built platforms. The deliveries of the helicopters will begin in 2022.

US Restarts Military Training Programme with Pakistan

  • The US state department approved a resumption of Pakistan's participation in a coveted US military training and educational program more than a year after it was suspended.
  • The resumption which is subject to approval by Congress. allows Islamabad's participation in the International Military Education and Training Program. The programme provides an opportunity to increase bilateral cooperation between our countries on shared priorities. Local analysts say that the resumption suggests warming of ties between the Pakistani government and the Trump administration.
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Anand Mahindra to Step Down as M&M Executive Chairman

  • Anand Mahindra will hold the role of non-executive chairman from the earlier post of executive chairman effective from 1 April 2020.
  • As part of its rejig of the top management of the company, Pawan Kumar Goenka was re-appointed the managing director and also given the additional responsibilities of the chief executive officer, effective from 1 April, 2020.
  • Anish Shah would replace Goenka as the managing director and CEO on April 2, 2021. Goenka is set to retire after his term ends.
  • Shah will join M&M board as deputy managing director and group CFO, replacing V.S. Parthasarathy, the current CFO.
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Gully Boy Out of Oscar Race

  • Zoya Akhtar's 'Gully Boy' crashed out of the Best International Feature Film race at the Oscars after the Academy unveiled shortlists for nine categories.
  • The movie failed to make the cut in the top-10 movies that will advance to the next round of voting at the 92nd Academy Awards.
  • With Gully Boy out of the race, India's dry run at the Academy Awards continues as the country has never made it to the top five, except three occasions.
  • The last Indian film that made it to the final five was Ashutosh Gowariker's 'Lagaan' in 2001.
  • 'Mother India' (1958) and 'Salaam Bombay' (1989) are the other two Indian movies to have made it to the top five.
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PFRDA May Regulate all Pension Schemes

  • The finance ministry approved in principle making the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) the sole regulator for all Indian pension products.
  • The in-principle approval came from finance ministry for the PFRDA Act amendment which will make PFRDA the single regulator for pension products.
  • The proposal has been forwarded to other ministries and will need an approval from the cabinet. Final approval could come in a few months.
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ULCCS to Offer Cambridge English Programme

  • ULCCS, the 94-year-old co-operative society, launched a 'Centre of Excellence' for Cambridge English at Karapparamba in Kozhikode.
  • ULCCS (Uralungal Labor Contract Co-operative Society) is actively involved in education and skill development through UL Education.
  • The basic objective of UL education is to reduce the skill gap and to improve the employability of educated youth. As part of improving soft skills, communication and English proficiency, ULCCS Ltd has entered into an agreement with Cambridge Assessment English, a department of the University of Cambridge, the UK to start a Centre of Excellence.

WhizJuniors Launches Online Google Course for Students

  • WhizJuniors, an online education platform, launched WhizGoogler for school and college students to become 'World's Next Googler' by offering expertise in over 36 Google Suite Courses.
  • Students can access the learning content available on the platform online and complete Google Courses such as Google Sites, Google Drive, YouTube, Google Groups, Google Forms, Google Classroom, Gmail for a fee of Rs 360. The course will have two sections -- MCQs (multiple choice questions) and a video project submission.
  • Es per Vidushi Daga, CEO, WhizJuniors, the Google course helps students navigate Internet for various technology needs making them employable at a young age.
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Thaawarchand Gehlot Releases Braille Edition of 'Exam Warriors'

  • Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot released Braille Edition of 'Exam Warriors', a book authored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The release of the Braille version of 'Exam Warriors' took place at a time when Exams of Secondary and Higher Secondary Standards are approaching.
  • The Braille Edition of book will be available in Hindi and English. It has been printed by Braille Press of 'Rajasthan Netraheen Kalyan Sangh' in Jaipur.
  • The book contains a detailed-deion of animated picture as well as various yoga asanas which will let students imagine pictorial graphics with ease.
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The World's most Radical Chef

  • Chef Ángel León wants to change how people think about seafood, and by all accounts, he's succeeding.
  • Located in an old tide mill just off the Guadalete river and marsh lands of El Puerto de Santa María in south-west Spain, the experimental restaurant relies on its surroundings for its unique ingredients. In a world of overfishing, climate fluctuation and endangered ecosystems, Aponiente's mission is to promote sustainability while introducing diners to the ocean's vast untapped resources.

Underwater Beauty of Rumkale to Open to Visitors

  • The Roman-era ruins located on the outskirts of the historical Rumkale, called the pearl of the River Euphrates, which hosted many civilizations in history, will open to visitors with an underwater project.
  • The castle and its surroundings attract the attention of local and foreign tourists with its natural beauties along the Euphrates in spring, as well as the historical buildings it has.
  • Rumkale, which is also considered holy by Christians, is said to have been inhabited during the Roman period by one of the apostles of the prophet Jesus and the Bible was copied in a room carved from the rock.
  • The Culture and Tourism Ministry listed Rumkale as one of Turkey's 13 most spectacular castles and works are continuing to add the castle to Turkish tourism.
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