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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

07 Jun 2020


Facebook Places State Media Labels on Russian, Chinese Outlets

  • Facebook Inc will start labelling Russian, Chinese and other state-controlled media organisations, and later this summer will block any ads from such outlets that target U.S. users.
  • The world's biggest social network will apply the label to Russia's Sputnik, Iran's Press TV and China's Xinhua News, according to a partial list Facebook provided. The company will apply the label to about 200 pages at the outset.
  • Facebook will not label any U.S.-based news organisations, as it determined that even U.S. government-run outlets have editorial independence.
  • Facebook, which has acknowledged its failure to stop Russian use of its platforms to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has since stepped up its defences and imposed greater transparency requirements for pages and ads on its platforms.

Iran Blocking Sites Access, UN Nuclear Watchdog Says

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that for more than four months Iran has been blocking inspections of two suspect locations.
  • It is believed the activity there took place long before Iran agreed to curb its nuclear ambitions in a 2015 deal.
  • The IAEA says Iran's enriched uranium stockpile now exceeds the agreed limit.
  • It comes amid rising tensions between Iran and the US, which pulled out of the 2015 international agreement.
  • Iran has always denied that it has ever sought to develop a nuclear weapon, insisting that its programmes have been peaceful.

US Approves over $340 Million Aid to Indian Firms

  • The US has approved loans and investments worth over $340 million for Indian firms and organisations as part of its efforts to uplift under-served communities around the world against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Most of these loans were part of $1 billion in investments approved recently by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)'s board of directors to advance development in Africa, Latin America, the Indo-Pacific, and emerging markets.
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Kenya Bans Single-use Plastics from Beaches and Parks

  • The Kenyan authorities have banned all single-use plastics, such as water bottles and straws, from national parks, beaches, forests and other protected areas.
  • The start of the ban coincides with World Environment Day and comes three years after Kenya announced one of the world's strictest bans on plastic bags.
  • The UN Environment Programme welcomed the ban saying it showed Kenya's commitment to addressing the global scourge of plastic pollution.

Scientists Identify the Cleanest Air on Earth

  • Scientists have identified an atmospheric region that has the cleanest air on the Earth, in a first study of its kind. They have found that the region in Southern Ocean remains unchanged by human-related activities.
  • The study, led by Professor Sonia Kreidenweis of Colorado State University, found the boundary layer air that feeds the lower clouds over the Southern Ocean to be pristine – free from aerosols or any other pollutants.
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CCI Gives Nod to Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Merger

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI), a statutory body of the Government of India (GoI), has given its nod to the proposed merger between French car maker Peugeot S.A (PSA) and London headquartered Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V (FCA).
  • The merged entity will be the 4th largest original equipment manufacturer by volume and the third largest by revenue after Toyota, Volkswagen, and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. It will generate €3.7 billion ($4.1 billion) in savings, which will come from sharing investments in vehicle platforms, engines as well as new technology and leveraging scale on purchasing.
  • Having presence in India, both the firms announced their merger in December 2019.

HDFC Bank Launches Campaign "Summer Treats"

  • With the easing of the lockdown restrictions, private sector HDFC Bank launched a special 'Summer Treats' campaign with offers for both merchants and, salaried and self-employed customers.
  • As part of the campaign, the bank will offer no cost EMI and no down payment for large appliances, discounts and cashbacks on select brands and 50 per cent extra reward points on online spend using credit cards.
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ISRO Signs MoU with ARIES

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has entered into an agreement with Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) for cooperation in the field of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Astrophysics.
  • Space objects orbital tracking, analysis and space weather studies are important aspects in Space Situational Awareness and Management to safeguard Indian space assets from critical conjunction threats from space debris.
  • This MoU will pave the way for future collaborations between ISRO and ARIES in establishing optical telescope observational facilities for space object tracking, R&D studies in space weather, astrophysics and Near Earth Object (NEO). 
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Russia Hires Bragin as Men's National Hockey Team Coach

  • Russia hired Valery Bragin as coach of the men's national hockey team as it gears up to defend its Olympic title in 2022.
  • Bragin moved up from his longtime role in charge of the Russian under-20 team, which he led to the silver medal at this year's (2020) world junior championships.
  • Bragin replaced former Toronto Maple Leafs player Alexei Kudashov, who moved into a consultant role with the national team after 11 months as head coach.
  • Bragin also took over from Kudashov as head coach of club team SKA St. Petersburg, whose operations are tightly intertwined with those of the national team. Roman Rotenberg is the general manager for both teams and holds vice president roles in both the club and the federation.

AIFF Invites Bids for New I-League Clubs

  • The All India Football Federation (AIFF) invited bids for new clubs who would take part in the Hero I-League from 2020-21. The bids have been invited from non-Hero I-League cities and include names of several cities like New Delhi, Ranchi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhopal, Lucknow and Ahmedabad, amongst others.
  • Prospective owners will be able to purchase the invitation to tender from the Football House in Delhi between June 10 and June 20 upon payment of Rs. 4 lakh.
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Modi Proposes Plan for India's UNSC Seat

  • With India and China enmeshed in a standoff on their border with each other, India unveiled Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new 'panchsheel', or five principles, that will shape its approach in its bid to get elected to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • These 'five S's' are samman (respect), samvad (dialogue), sahyog (cooperation), and shanti (peace), to create conditions for universal samriddhi (prosperity).
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar launched a brochure outlining India's priorities for its forthcoming campaign to secure an elected seat on the UNSC at elections slated for June 17, 2020.
  • The Council is composed of 15 members: five permanent members in China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US, and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
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Rahul Shrivastava India's Next Ambassador to Romania

  • The government appointed Rahul Shrivastava as the next Ambassador of India to Romania.
  • Presently, he is posted as the joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs and shall take up the assignment shortly. Prior to joining the Ministry in 2018, he was the Ambassador to Venezuela from 2016-2018.
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World Food Safety Day

  • World Food Safety Day is observed on June 7 to draw global attention to the health consequences of contaminated food and water.
  • In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 7 as the World Food Safety Day. June 7, 2019, marked the first anniversary of World Food Safety Day and the theme for World Food Safety Day 2019 was 'Food Safety, everyone's business'.
  • The United Nations (UN) has assigned two of its agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to lead efforts in promoting food safety around the world.
  • The theme for World Food Safety Day is the same as of 2019 'Food Safety, everyone's business'.
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Forbes 100 World's Highest-paid Celebrities 2020

  • According to the Forbes 100 world's highest-paid celebrities 2020, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar ranked 52nd with estimated earnings of USD 48.5 million (M) and is the only Indian featured on the list.
  • The list is topped by Kylie Jenner, model who earned USD 590M and also topped in the women category, followed by American rapper Kanye West (2nd rank, USD 170M), tennis player Roger Federer (3rd rank, USD 106 M) and football  player Cristiano Ronaldo (4th rank , USD 105 M).
  • The youngest on the list is the 18 year old American Pop musician Billie Eilish(43rd rank, USD 53 M) who is also a newcomer in 2020.
  • The oldest on the list is 77 years old Musician Paul McCartney (91st rank, USD 37 M.
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Ministries Not to Start New Schemes this Fiscal Year

  • The government has directed ministries not to launch any new scheme that entails capital expenditure in this financial year, and suspended already approved projects, barring those under the Rs. 20.97 lakh crore economic relief and stimulus package it unveiled in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The order, however, exempts schemes announced under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-Reliant India Initiative) and any other special package to be unveiled at a future date for alleviating the crisis caused by the outbreak of Covid-19.
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Eight Indian Institutes Enter Top 100 in THE Asia University Ranking

  • In the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia University Ranking launched in June 2020, Indian became the third most represented country with 8 institutes in the top 100. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) at 36th position on the list retains its top position in India.
  • Six IITs are featured in the top 100 of list along with Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT). The six IITs are IIT Ropar, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Indore, IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and IIT Roorkee.
  • In India around 489 universities were qualified for this year's ranking with 72 additional institutes as compared to 2019.
  • The most represented country was Japan with 110 institutes followed by China and India with 81 universities and 72 institutes respectively.
  • The ranking is based on the citations, industry income, international outlook, research and teaching.
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