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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 May 2021


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China World's First Country to Ban Synthetic Cannabinoids

  • China will become the world's first country to ban all synthetic cannabinoid substances. The ban is likely to come into effect on July 1. The move comes as China tries to curb the manufacturing & trafficking of the drug. The synthetic cannabinoids are highly camouflaged, as some are found in e-cigarette oil, and some are found in cut tobacco made from various flower petals, or plant stems and leaves. In Xinjiang, it has a commonly known nickname of "Natasha."
  • Synthetic cannabinoids are highly camouflaged, as some are found in e-cigarette oil & some are found in cut tobacco made from leaves, flower petals, etc.
  • The synthetic cannabinoid has become one of the most-abused new psychoactive substances.
  • Cannabinoid substances pose a severe threat to society, where the abuse of such substances gives rise to incidents such as intentional injuries and impaired driving.

Raisi and Larijani Enter Iran Presidential Race

  • Iran's judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani have registered to run in next month's presidential election.
  • The two conservatives, who have close ties with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are seen as the leading contenders to succeed Hassan Rouhani.
  • Mr Rouhani, a moderate, is not allowed to run for a third consecutive term.
  • More than 300 other hopefuls have also applied to be candidates. They must all now be vetted by the Guardian Council.
  • The 12 theologians and jurists on the council approved only six of the more than 1,600 candidates for the last election in 2017, which Mr. Rouhani won in the first round with 57% of the vote. Mr. Raisi came second with 38%.
  • Since then there has been rising discontent in Iran over the state of the country's economy, which has been crippled by US sanctions reinstated in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump.
  • He abandoned a nuclear deal negotiated by Mr. Rouhani that saw Iran limit its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief. Iran stopped abiding by key commitments in response to the move.

Zimbabwe High Court Forces Out Chief Justice

  • Zimbabwe's High Court has ruled that the president's extension of the Chief Justice's term of office by five years is illegal.
  • A group of lawyers had challenged the move which followed a recent constitutional amendment passed by parliament that raised the retirement age of senior judges from 70 to 75.
  • The judges ruled that Luke Malaba, who turned 70, had ceased to be Chief Justice as any constitutional amendment needed to be put to a referendum.
  • Justice Malaba faced some criticism in 2018 for dismissing an opposition petition which had sought to annul the election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa - alleging the vote had been marred by "mammoth theft and fraud".
  • It was Zimbabwe's first election following the ousting the year before of long-time leader Robert Mugabe.
  • The recent constitutional amendments also allow Mr. Mnangagwa to appoint senior judges without being vetted by parliament and remove the requirement for a running mate in presidential elections.
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Talkative Dinosaur Found in Mexico

  • The Palaeontologists identified a new species of dinosaur called the Talkative Dinosaur. It was identified in the northern Mexico. The research is being conducted by the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico.
  • The fossil was discovered 10 years ago. However, the species was discovered now.
  • The fossil dates back to 70 million years ago.
  • The new species was identified after 80% of its head was recovered. The palaeontologists first uncovered its tail. So far the crest of the dinosaur, its upper jaws, neurocranium and lower jaws have been uncovered. Neurocranium is the part where the brain is housed.
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Bata India Appoints Gunjan Shah as Country CEO

  • Footwear major Bata India has appointed Gunjan Shah as its new chief executive officer. Shah, who has been serving at Britannia Industries as its chief commercial officer, will take up his new role next month.
  • Sandeep Kataria, Bata India's current CEO, has been elevated to the position of global CEO of Bata brands. An alumni of IIM Calcutta, Shah has experience of working in sectors like consumer durables, FMCG and telecom. He worked for Asian Paints and Motorola early in the career, before joining Britannia in 2007.
  • Shah holds a Bachelor of Technology (Computers) from VJTI, Mumbai and will be joining Bata during June 2021 and will be based out of Gurugram.

L&T Arm Bags Contracts for Chennai Metro

  • The construction arm of Larsen & Toubro has secured orders worth Rs. 2,500-5,000 crore from its heavy civil infrastructure business in India.
  • It has secured an order from Chennai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (CMRL) to construct nearly 12 km Twin Bored tunnels from Kellys station to Taramani Road Junction station.
  • It also involves construction of diaphragm walls of station box and entry and exit structures of Chetpet Metro, Royapettah Government Hospital, Thiruvanmiyur Metro Stations and part diaphragm wall of Greenways Road Metro Station, including launching and retrieval shafts in these stations.

Zensar Technologies Signs Agreement to Acquire M3bi

  • Zensar, an RPG company, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire M3bi, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based data engineering and digital engineering firm.
  • This acquisition will be completely funded by internal accruals.
  • The addition of M3bi reinforces Zensar's new strategy, which focuses on areas of market opportunities that allow Zensar to concentrate organization resources, investments and alliances to deliver maximum business impact.
  • M3bi augments Zensar's thrust in the data engineering, analytics and AI/ML and advanced engineering services.
  • The acquisition will add marquee clients to Zensar's portfolio in both Banking, Financial Services & Insurance and other verticals, allowing Zensar and M3bi to jointly drive an expanded set of offerings to these global firms.
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Amazon India Launches New Free Video Streaming Service miniTV

  • Amazon India launched a free video streaming service called miniTV which will available within the Amazon Android app.
  • The company said that ad-supported miniTV has professionally created and curated content across web-series, comedy shows, tech news, food, beauty, fashion and more.
  • Currently available for Android, miniTV will be extended to iOS app and mobile web over the coming months.
  • With this launch, Amazon has two video entertainment offerings -- miniTV and Prime Video.

Rare Plutonium from Space Found in Deep Sea Crust

  • A rare version of the radioactive element plutonium embedded in Earth's crust below the deep sea is providing new clues as to how heavy metals form in the stars.
  • The new research finds that the isotope, called plutonium-244, may arrive on Earth in tandem with iron-60, a lighter metal known to form in supernovas, explosions that occur during the death throes of many types of stars. This finding suggests that supernovas may create both heavy metals — although it's possible that other events, such as the mergers of neutron stars, are responsible for at least some of the plutonium-244.
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Ramesh Powar is Head Coach of Indian Women's Cricket Team

  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) appointed former Indian cricketer Ramesh Powar as the head coach of Indian Women's Cricket Team. The Indian cricket board had advertised for the post and received over 35 applications.
  • The three-member Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), comprising Madan Lal, Sulakshana Naik and RP Singh, interviewed the applicants and unanimously agreed on Ramesh Powar's candidature.
  • Powar will replace WV Raman, who was appointed the head coach of the India women's team in December 2018. During Raman's tenure, India managed to reach the finals of the T20 World Cup 2020. The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side ended up losing the summit clash against Australia.
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Chhattisgarh Launches New Portal to Vaccinate Those Without Mobile, Internet

  • Chhattisgarh has launched CG Teeka web portal to enable the disadvantaged section of its population to register for Covid-19 vaccination programme through help desks, to be set up at hundreds of locations across the state.
  • The state government said this initiative will help in "systematic" vaccination of residents in the 18-44 years age group by ensuring the state's poor residents, lacking smart phone or internet facilities, are not left out from the Covid vaccination drive. The government is setting up help desks at the level of panchayats, urban bodies, and municipal corporations among other centres to help them register.
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Former CBI Officer K. Ragothaman Passes Away

  • Retired CBI officer K. Raghothaman, who was the chief investigation officer of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that probed the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in the early 1990s, died. He was 76.
  • In his career spanning nearly four decades, between 1968 and 2006, the Rajiv Gandhi assassination probe alone took almost a decade. He was awarded the Police Medal in 1988 and President Medal in 1994.
  • Although he probed several high-profile cases across the country, it was a book he authored after retirement – "Conspiracy to Kill Rajiv Gandhi" – that stoked a huge controversy because of the claims he made against the then CBI director D. R. Karthikeyan and former IB chief M. K. Narayanan.
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International Day of Light

  • The United Nations marks the International Day of Light (IDL) — an annual initiative held globally to raise awareness on the critical role played by light-based technologies in everyday life — on May 16. The IDL highlights the contribution of such technologies in various avenues such as science, technology, art, and culture, thus helping achieve the UNESCO goals of education, equality, and peace.
  • The day selected, May 16, marks the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman. "The laser is a perfect example of how a scientific discovery can yield revolutionary benefits to society in communications, healthcare and many other fields," the website reads.
  • The IDL is administered from the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP) of UNESCO, and its Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP) at Trieste, Italy.
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Uttarakhand Police Launches 'Mission Hausla'

  • The Uttarakhand Police has launched a drive called "Mission Hausla" to help people get oxygen, beds, ventilators and plasma for COVID-19 patients.
  • Besides these, police will also help public get medicines meant for COVID-19 management as part of the mission and rations.
  • Delivering medicines, oxygen and ration at the doorsteps of families battling the coronavirus and coordinating between plasma donors and those in need of it will also be some of the activities to be taken up by the police as part of the mission.
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University of California Drops SAT and ACT Scores

  • The University of California won't consider SAT and ACT scores that are submitted with admission and scholarship applications under a settlement of a student lawsuit that was announced Friday. The 10-campus system, which has more than 280,000 students statewide, decided not to continue fighting a judge's injunction issued last fall that barred it from considering the scores for admission even when they were submitted voluntarily.

MIT-WPU Launches New Online Education Portal

  • MIT World Peace University (MIT-WPU) launched its new online vertical — World Peace University RISE (WPU RISE) earlier this week. The new venture aims to bring industry-relevant education in the areas of Science, Technology, and Management to students across the globe. MIT-WPU collaborates with KPMG as its first partner to accelerate the launch of MIT-WPU RISE.
  • WPU RISE kick-starts its first program - Programme in Data Science in June 2021 in collaboration with a top consulting firm in India. The course includes over 350 hours of live and self-paced lectures, capstone projects, internship options and mentoring by industry experts. Through this programme, WPU RISE aims to provide career enhancement and further skill-up gradation that bring together research from academia and the requirements from the industry and corporate world. Each module in the programme is carefully curated and delivered jointly by faculty and Data Science consultants with years of experience in the field.
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