Daily Current Affairs - 11th Sep 2019

50 U.S. States launch probe into Google’s trade practices

  • A group of 50 states and territories in the US have launched an investigation into Google's dominance of the online advertising market. The coalition warned that the search giant may be threatening competition and consumers.
  • They also raised concerns over the way Google ranks its search results and protects users' personal data.
  • Meanwhile, a separate group of states have launched an investigation of Facebook to determine whether it had stifled competition and adequately protected consumer data.

A gold rush for India

  • India won 14 out of 16 gold medals at stake in the classical time-format and finished with an overhaul of 125 medals from the inaugural Western Asian youth chess championship.
  • In the blitz format that followed, India again won 41 medals, including 15 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze.
  • Over the three time-formats, India finished with 44 gold, 41 silver and 40 bronze medals, way ahead of Uzbekistan with three gold, a silver and a bronze.

British Parliament suspended till October 14

  • UK Parliament has officially been suspended or prorogued for five weeks, with MPs not due back until 14 October. This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's bid to call a snap election in October was defeated for a second time.
  • Opposition MPs refused to back it, insisting a law blocking a no-deal Brexit must be implemented first. In all, 293 MPs voted for the prime minister's motion for an early election, far short of the two-thirds needed.
  • Parliament's suspension means MPs will not get another chance to vote for an early election until they return, meaning a poll would not be possible until November at the earliest.

CBDT refuses NSE plea for derivatives segment

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has rejected the National Stock Exchange’s request to grant ‘recognised association’ status to the commodity derivatives segment, citing violation of certain Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) norms and Income Tax rules.
  • This approval was sought by exchanges so that traders could get tax benefits by using the platform.
  • Derivatives trading in recognised exchanges is not treated as speculation. According to Sec 43(5) of the Income Tax Act, any derivative transaction entered into at a recognised stock exchange is not treated as speculative, and losses can be set off against normal business profit

Centre sets up 3-member panel to oversee bifurcation of J&K into two Union Territories

  • Centre has set up a three-member panel to oversee the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the committee will look into the distribution of assets and liabilities of Jammu and Kashmir between two successor Union territories, which will come into existence on 31st of October this year.
  • The committee headed by Former Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra will have Retired IAS officer Arun Goyal and Retired Indian Civil Accounts Service officer Giriraj Prasad Gupta as members.

Football: India advance to 2nd round of Men's World Cup qualifying in Doha

  • In the Men's Football World Cup qualifying round, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu played the match of his life as India held Asian Champions Qatar to a goalless draw to earn their first point in a Group E second round in Doha.
  • Gurpreet led the Indian team who are 41 rungs below Qatar in the FIFA rankings. Qatar are ranked 62nd in the world to India's 103.

Gold ETFs register first inflow in 9 months

  • Gold exchange-traded funds witnessed a net inflow of Rs 145 crore in August, making it the first such infusion in nine months, as higher gold prices and weak rupee have made investors bet big on this safe-heaven asset.
  • This also marks the highest inflow since December 2012, when gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) had seen a net infusion of Rs 474 crore.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam renews appeal for dialogue With Protesters

  • Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam has renewed an appeal to pro-democracy protesters to halt violence and engage in dialogue. Lam said the escalation of violence, where over 150 people including students were detained in clashes since Friday, will deepen rifts and prolong the road to recovery.
  • The Hong Kong government last week promised to axe an extradition bill that sparked three months of protests but failed to placate protesters, whose demands also include democratic reforms and police accountability.

IAF resurrects 17 Squadron 'Golden Arrows' for Rafale

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) has resurrected the Air Force Station Ambala-based 17 Squadron 'Golden Arrows', which will operate the first squadron of Rafale fighter jets in the near future. The resurrection ceremony was presided over by IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa.
  • Under the command of then Wing Commander BS Dhanoa, Golden Arrows participated actively in Operation Safed Sagar in 1999.

IL&FS gets 14 bids worth Rs. 13,000 cr. for road assets

  • The bankrupt Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) has received 14 binding financial bids worth around Rs 13,000 crore for 10 of its road assets in the country. The 14 bids were opened on September 9, and the board and the advisor are evaluating them.
  • These 10 road assets account for debt of over Rs 17,700 crore, which is nearly 19 percent of total group debt.

India, Iceland sign agreements

  • India and Iceland signed agreements to enhance cooperation in the field of sustained fisheries development and organise cultural exchange programme between 2019 and 2022. Iceland also declared exemption from Visa for Indian diplomatic and official passport holders.
  • These agreements and MoUs were signed in the presence of President Ram Nath Kovind and his Iceland counterpart Gudni Johannesson in Reykjavik in Iceland.
  • Indian President has also invited Iceland to be part of the international solar alliance led by India to promote solar energy worldwide

Jack Ma, China's richest man, steps down as chairman of Alibaba

  • The Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, is stepping down as head of one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies, handing over the reins to his handpicked successor. He will be replaced by the lower-profile Daniel Zhang, the company’s chief executive and an accountant by training.
  • Ma’s net worth is $38.4bn according to Forbes, making him China’s richest man. His company, which listed in the New York stock exchange in 2014 in the largest IPO to date, has a market capitalisation of $460bn.

Knighthood for Boycott and Strauss

  • England cricket greats Geoffrey Boycott and Andrew Strauss have been given knighthoods by Theresa May in her resignation honours list. Boycott and Strauss both received the honour for their services to sport after outstanding careers for England.
  • Boycott, 78, scored 8,114 runs in 108 Tests for England from 1964 to 1982 and was captain on four occasions in 1978 in place of the injured Mike Brearley.
  • Strauss led England to two Ashes wins, as well as the number one Test ranking, in his 50 Tests as captain. He scored 7,037 runs at an average of 40.91 in 100 England Tests.

Mahindra to double investments in the U.S., opens office in D.C.

  • The Mahindra Group is planning to double its investments in the U.S. with the opening of its new office in Washington, D.C. This year, the $20.7-billion group marks its 25th year of conducting business in the U.S.
  • With investments of $1 billion, Mahindra Group companies in the U.S. span a diverse array of industries, including automotive manufacturing, farm equipment production, IT services, sustainable transportation, multi-purpose aircraft development and equipment financing services.

New satellite images show increase in air pollution in Amazon after fires

  • New satellite images published by the European Space Agency show an increase in air pollution in the Brazilian Amazon while fires burned in the region last month. Several maps showed more carbon monoxide and other pollutants in August than in the previous month, when there were fewer fires.
  • Fires released carbon dioxide once stored in the Amazon forests back into the atmosphere, potentially having an impact on the global climate and health.
  • Data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research showed the number of fires in all of Brazil has surpassed 1 Lakh so far this year, up by 45 percent compared to the same period in 2018.

Pawan Munjal to be inducted into Asia Pacific Golf Hall of Fame

  • Hero MotoCorp Chairman and Managing Director Pawan Munjal will be inducted to the 2019 Asia Pacific Golf Hall of Fame later this year for his support to the sport in India and around the world.
  • Munjal joins legendary players such as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and other leading personalities such as David Chu, the founder of Mission Hills golf resort, to have been bestowed with the highest honour in the Asia Pacific golf industry.
  • Munjal co-hosts the 'Hero World Challenge' at Albany in the Bahamas, a PGA sanctioned Tiger Woods invitational event -- one of the most high-profile golf tournaments in the world. He also hosts the 'Hero Challenge' -- the innovative one-hole knockout contest played under lights, at three prominent European Tour events.
  • The induction ceremony will be held on November 6 at the 2019 Asian Golf Awards Gala Banquet to be held at DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurugram.

PM Modi to launch National Animal Disease Control Programme

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch today the National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) for eradicating the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis in the livestock from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. This programme aims at vaccinating over 500 Million Livestock including cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats and pigs against the disease. It will be implemented for a period of five years till 2024 at a cost of 12, 652 crore rupees.
  • National Animal Disease Control Programme is a hundred per cent Centrally funded programme. It also aims at vaccinating 36 million female Bovine Calves annually in its fight against the Brucellosis disease.
  • The objective of this programme is to control Foot and Mouth Disease and Brucellosis by 2025 and their eradication by 2030.
  • Both the diseases have a direct negative impact on the trade of milk and other livestock products.

PM to inaugurate India's second Multi-Modal Terminal in Jharkhand

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) built at Sahibganj in Jharkhand on Thursday. It has been built at a cost of 290 crore rupees in a record time of about two years.
  • The terminal at Sahibganj will open up industries of Jharkhand and Bihar to the global market and provide Indo-Nepal cargo connectivity through waterways route.
  • Coal, stone chips, fertilizers, cement and sugar are other commodities expected to be transported through the terminal. This is the second of the three Multi-Modal Terminals being constructed on river Ganga under Jal Marg Vikas Project.
  • Earlier, in November last year, the Prime Minister had inaugurated the MMT at Varanasi.

Sports Ministry derecognises Paralympic Committee of India

  • The Sports Ministry has de-recognised the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), citing a violation of the National Sports Code in the body's decision to sack President Rao Inderjit Singh. In the suspension order issued, the Ministry wrote that the PCI has been penalised for misgovernance.

US President sacks National Security Adviser John Bolton

  • US President Donald Trump has fired his National Security Adviser John Bolton. The exit comes amid reports that there is disagreement within the Administration over Trump's decision to host a now-cancelled meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David.

US Prez Trump nominates Indian American as federal judge in Florida

  • US President Donald Trump has nominated an Indian American as a federal judge in Florida. Anuraag Singhal is among the 17 judiciary nomination sent by the White House to the Senate.
  • If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace James Cohn as the United States district judge for the southern district of Florida.
  • Singhal is the first Indian-American to be nominated to this position in Florida.