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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

11 Jun 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

General Charles Brown First African-American Chief of the Air Force

  • The Senate confirmed General Charles Brown to serve as the Air Force chief of staff, making him the first African American to lead a military service branch.
  • Vice President Mike Pence presided over the Senate for the vote, and Brown's historic nomination was approved unanimously, 98-0. He is the second African American officer to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, following Colin Powell, who served as chairman.
  • Brown is replacing General David Goldfein, who is retiring. He currently serves as commander of Pacific Air Forces, a position Brown has held since 2018. The Air Force general also served as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.

Ethiopian PM's Term Extended

  • Ethiopia's Upper House of parliament agreed to extend the Prime Minster and government's term in office beyond October because elections have been delayed.
  • Polls were due to be held in August - the first since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018 - but officials have postponed them because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The country's nine regional governments have also had their terms extended in a binding ruling by the House of Federation.
  • It suggested that after the pandemic was no longer considered a threat to the public, elections be held within nine months to a year.
  • The decision comes two days after the speaker of the Upper House, Keriya Ibrahim, announced her resignation, accusing the government of making unconstitutional attempts to stay in power.

Nepal Irked by Presence of Indian Forces in Kalapani

  • Nepal Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli commented on the presence of Indian forces in Kalapani, comments by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Nepal and also increased influx of COVID-19 infection from India.
  • It is to be noted that Nepal considers Kalapani as its own territory along with Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura and has issued a new map showing the Indian territories as its own drawing New Delhi's ire.
  • Calling for a diplomatic solution to the border row, Nepali PM said that his country has been raising the issue with India, and based on facts and historic evidences, the area should be handed back.
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ENVIRONMENT

Britain Goes Coal Free

  • Britain passed a significant landmark – as it went two full months without burning coal to generate power.
  • A decade ago about 40% of the country's electricity came from coal; coronavirus is part of the story, but far from all.
  • When Britain went into lockdown, electricity demand plummeted; the National Grid responded by taking power plants off the network.
  • The four remaining coal-fired plants were among the first to be shut down.
  • The last coal generator came off the system on 9th April. No coal has been burnt for electricity since.
  • The current coal-free period smashes the previous record of 18 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes which was set in June last year (2019).
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Microsoft's VC Arm M12 Opens India Office in Bengaluru

  • M12, Microsoft's venture fund, opened of an office in tech-hub Bengaluru, its fifth one globally after San Francisco, Seattle, Tel Aviv and London. The firm will pursue investment opportunities across the region, focusing on Business-to-Business (B2B) software start-ups in the sectors such as applied artificial intelligence (AI), business applications, infrastructure and security.
  • M12 seeks to invest in disruptive enterprise software start-ups in Series A through C funding stages, targeting both local and cross-border solutions.
  • M12 has already been remotely investing in India since 2019. Its portfolio includes category leaders such as healthcare technology start-up Innovaccer and Noida-based logistics SaaS start-up FarEye. FarEye secured $25 million in Series D funding in April, led by M12.

Arvind Ties up with HeiQ to Introduce Anti-viral Fabrics, Garments

  • Arvind Ltd, the leading textile-to-retail conglomerate entered into technical collaboration with Swiss textile innovator HeiQ Materials AG and Taiwanese speciality major Jintex Corporation to introduce Anti-Viral "Virolock" textile technology for the first time in India under its brand "Intellifabrix".
  • Intellifabrix brand is currently clocking a sales revenue of Rs. 1000 crore and the company plans to add Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 crore to this revenue from the sale of anti viral fabrics and garments in a few months.

Anand Mahindra Invests in Social Network Start-up Hapramp

  • Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, has come on board as a key investor at start-up Hapramp. The firm is working on the biggest social media challenges such as user privacy, data security and fair content monetisation. It was founded in 2018 by five students in the final year of their computer science graduate degree.
  • Mahindra is investing $1 million in the Gurugram-based firm. He had, in 2018, announced via Twitter a funding opportunity for an Indian social media start-up that met certain criteria. Hapramp grabbed the opportunity to apply. Mahindra tweeted that Team Hapramp had won the seed funding.
  • Shubhendra Vikram, CEO and one of the co-founders of the start-up said that the investment is a massive approval of the company's mission to give creators the right to their content.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Titan is Drifting Away From Saturn 100 Times Faster

  • Scientists say that Saturn's largest moon Titan is moving away from the ringed planet must faster than previously believed. In fact, it is drifting away a hundred times faster.
  • The fact was discovered using data collected during NASA's Cassini spacecraft to study Saturn and some of its moons which revealed that Titan, one of Saturn's 80 moons, is moving away from the planet at a rate of about four inches per year.
  • Moons' moving away from their planet is a common phenomenon. Earth's own Moon, for instance, moves about 1.5 inches away every year, according to American space agency NASA.
  • The movement away is caused by the moon's gravity tugging on the planet, which creates a temporary bulge in the planet. That energy pushes the moon further away.
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SPORTS

Former World Champion Boxer Oleksandr Gvozdyk Retires

  • Former WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk of Ukraine announced his retirement from boxing at the age of 33.
  • According to his manager, Egis Klimas, Gvozdyk was stepping away from the ring to pursue business opportunities.
  • Gvozdyk won the WBC title in December 2018 when he knocked out Adonis Stevenson, who had held the belt for five years.
  • Gvozdyk retained the belt in his first title defense when Doudou Ngumbu suffered a leg injury, but lost it last year in a stoppage loss to Russian fighter Artur Beterbiev. That was Gvozdyk's only loss of a 17-1 pro career.
  • Gvozdyk also won a bronze medal for Ukraine at light heavyweight at the 2012 Olympics.

Roger Federer to Miss Rest of 2020

  • Roger Federer will be out of competitive tennis until the start of the 2021 season because of a setback in his recovery from surgery on his right knee.
  • The 20-time Grand Slam champion had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in February and said that he had a second procedure that will delay his return until 2021.

Indian 800m Runner Gomathi Handed Four-year Ban

  • Gomathi Marimuthu, the 2019 Asian championship 800m gold medallist, has been stripped of her medal and banned for four years by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) after her 'B' sample also returned positive for anabolic steroid nandrolone.
  • All of Gomathi's competition results between March 18 and May 17, 2019 stand annulled. The Tamil Nadu athlete's medals, titles, ranking points and prize and appearance money are to be forfeited as well.
  • Gomathi, who was provisionally suspended in May last year (2019) when her 'A' sample returned positive, has also been ordered to pay the AIU, within 28 days, £1,000 towards legal and other expenses.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Mumbai India's most Expensive City

  • According to Mercer's '2020 Cost of Living Survey', India's financial capital Mumbai emerged as the most expensive city in the country for expatriates in terms of cost of living.
  • According to survey, Mumbai is the 60th most expensive city for expatriates globally, while it ranks 19th in Asia.
  • Mumbai is the most expensive among Indian cities surveyed, followed by New Delhi (101st globally) and Chennai (143rd globally).
  • Bengaluru (171) and Kolkata (185) are the least expensive Indian cities in the rankings
  • The global list was topped by Hong Kong, followed by Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) in second position. Japan's Tokyo and Switzerland's Zurich remain in the third and fourth positions, respectively, whereas Singapore is in fifth position, down two places from last year.
  • This year's ranking includes 209 cities across five continents.

New Panel for Freedom Fighters

  • MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) reconstituted a new committee for the welfare of the freedom fighters with the chairman G Kishan Reddy and 9 other "eminent freedom fighters" from across the country. Along with Reddy, former Congress MLA from Gujarat Dinakar Bhai Desai, who took part in 1942 Quit India Movement is one among the 9 member panel.
  • The Ministry has a separate division to serve the freedom fighters who are alive and their families.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs had spent Rs. 730.73 crore for pension in 2019-20. About 30,000 freedom fighters and their families had benefited with this pension.
  • This panel will verify if someone has given affidavits to two or more applicant and also examine the demands to build memorials and museums for freedom fighters.
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DEFENCE

Indian Coast Guard Gets Fifth Ship in Fast Patrol Vessels' Series

  • Premier warship builder Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) delivered ICGS Kanaklata Barua, the fifth and final ship in the series of Fast Patrol Vessels (FPV) for the Indian Coast Guard.
  • GRSE had earlier made deliveries of FPVs ICGS Priyadarshini, ICGS Annie Besant and ICGS Amrit Kaur in this series to the Indian Coast Guard.
  • The fourth ship in the series of FPVs is earmarked for export delivery to the Seychelles Coast Guard and is likely to be delivered shortly after completing the related formalities.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Grammys Rename "Urban Contemporary" Category

  • The organisation behind the Grammy Awards announced a number of changes to its category names, including changing "urban contemporary" to "progressive R&B."
  • The Recording Academy's move comes amid growing criticism in the music industry over the term "urban" that has long generalised genres including hip-hop and R&B but which many believe belittles the innovation of black music.
  • The renamed category "is intended to highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B.
  • In its rechristening announcement, the academy also said it would change Best Rap/Sung Performance to Best Melodic Rap Performance.
  • The academy did not completely drop "urban:" it remains in categories including the newly titled field "Best Latin Pop or Urban Album."
  • The Recording Academy also changed its controversial but prestigious "Best New Artist" award, removing the eligibility requirement that capped a specified number of releases.

Sony World Photography Awards 2020

  • Sony World Photography Awards announced its winners for the year 2020. The Sony World Photography Awards received more than 345,000 images from 203 countries and territories, submitted for its four competition categories: Professional, Open, Youth and Student.
  • Photographer Pablo Albarenga from Uruguay was declared the grand prize winner of the Photographer of the Year title for his series 'Seeds of Resistance'.
  • In the Open competition, UK's Tom Oldham won the first place for Black Francis - a black and white portrait of Pixies frontman Charles Thompson.
  • Greek Student Ioanna Sakellaraki was chosen as Student Photographer of the Year 2020 for her series Aeiforia, which captures solar panels, wind turbines and battery farms on the Greek island of Tilos - the first in the Mediterranean to run almost entirely on renewable energy.
  • Hsien-Pang Hsieh emerged as the overall winner in the Youth competition for his image 'Hurry', which appears to show a street performer walking in a hurry while he is, in fact, standing still.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

MP Govt. Starts 'Rozgar Setu' Scheme

  • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan launched 1st of its kind scheme 'Rozgar Setu Scheme' to support and provide employment to the migrant, in the field related to their skills, workers who returned to the state in the COVID-19 situation and to meet the workers requirements of the industries.
  • The following are the skilled sectors for employment: Construction, brick kiln mining, textile factories, agriculture field, government sectors of Madhya Pradesh and other factories of state.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Karnataka Bans Online Education for Children up to Class V

  • Karnataka announced a ban on online education by schools from pre-nursery to fifth grade responding to opinions shared by child psychiatrists, and educational experts.
  • The decision applies to all schools within Karnataka regardless of their affiliation to central or state boards, Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar announced. As for permitting online education from class 6 to class 10, the government has formed a panel of experts which will study the challenges and come up with a set of guidelines for schools. The committee will submit its report in 10 days.
  • The same committee will also study how primary schools can deploy technology (not online classes) to teach children up to class 5 in a way it is all-inclusive and reaches children even in remotest part of Karnataka.
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ART AND CULTURE

Oldest Work of Chinese Art

  • Researchers have called a 13,500-year-old small bone carving of a bird found in a spoil heap as the 'oldest work of Chinese art'.
  • Professor Zhanyang Li called the statue, which is less than an inch long, a "missing link" in the art world.
  • This discovery pushes back by more than 8,500 years the representation of birds in Chinese art.
  • Bird representations are a theme in Chinese Neolithic art. The oldest example is a jade songbird from about 5,000 years ago.
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