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Evening News Digest : 20 April 2018

Vice President launches Atal Amrit Abhiyan in Assam

  • Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, launched the cashless mode of Atal-Amrit Abhiyan (AAA)— an ambitious health assurance scheme of government of Assam, at a function held at international convention centre of Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Assam.
  • The cashless facility will greatly benefit the poor sections of the society, who have been covered under Atal Amrit Abhiyan to ensure affordable medical care for all.
  • Stressing on need to improve healthcare facilities in the rural areas, Naidu urged the state government to make rural posting compulsory for all doctors.

NASA launches its newest planet-hunting spacecraft, Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

  • Another planet-hunter is on its way to search for strange new worlds. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched successfully on April 18th.
  • Recently, the agency announced the spacecraft will run out of fuel in the coming months. Like Kepler, TESS will be looking for the brief dips in starlight created when exoplanets transit their stars.
  • TESS's pointing direction will give ground observers an advantage, since its field of view is the local meridian at midnight.

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Saudi Arabia unveils first new cinema

  • Saudi Arabia unveiled its first cinema in over 35 years with a private screening of the blockbuster Black Panther, the first in a series of trial runs before movie theaters open to the wider public.
  • The invitation-only gala event comes after the conservative kingdom lifted the ban on cinemas last year as part of a far-reaching liberalization drive, with US giant AMC Entertainment granted the first license to operate movie theaters.
  • The move to reopen cinemas is part of a modernization drive by reformist Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is seeking to balance unpopular subsidy cuts in an era of low oil prices with more entertainment options - despite opposition from hardliners.

Madhya Pradesh conferred most film Friendly state award

  • Madhya Pradesh has bagged the Most Film Friendly State Award given by the central government for its efforts to ease filming in the state by creating a well-structured website, film friendly infrastructure and more.
  • Madhya Pradesh was chosen from among the 16 States that vied for the award including Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

16th Federation Cup Jr National athletics ch’ship begins

  • Over 800 athletes from 32 states across the country will take part in the 16th Federation Cup Junior National athletics championship, beginning at Coimbatore on 20 April 20, 2018.
  • The meet will serve as the selections trials for the 18th Asian Junior Athletic Meet to be held at Gifu, Japan, in June.
  • The three-day event will see 440 boys and 352 girls in the age group of 16 to 20 years take part in 44 events.

Global debt has reached record high, warns IMF

  • With public debt currently at historic highs in advanced and emerging market economies, the IMF has advised countries to avoid policies that increase economic fluctuations.
  • The global debt reached a record high in 2016 at USD 164 trillion, or almost 225 per cent of GDP. China alone has contributed 43 per cent to the increase since 2007. Public debt is currently at historic highs in advanced and emerging market economies. Average debt-to-GDP ratios, at more than 105 per cent of GDP in advanced economies, are at levels not seen since World War II.
  • Furthermore, debt service has also been rising rapidly, particularly in countries with high inflation rates. For the period 2018 to 2023, debt ratios will be declining in three-fifths of low-income developing countries and in about two-thirds of emerging market economies.

World Liver Day: 19 April

  • World Liver Day is observed on April 19 to spread awareness regarding liver health and emerging liver diseases.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), liver diseases are 10th most common causes of death in India. The liver is the second largest organ in the body, which takes part in a multitude of functions.
  • Theme: The 2018 World Liver Day theme is “Riding New Waves in Liver Diagnosis, Staging & Treatment”.

Centre forms Defence Planning Committee

  • The government has formed an overarching defence planning committee (DPC) to be headed by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval.
  • The DPC will be an addition to the existing policy groups such as the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) — a body of three chiefs. It will, for the first time, formalise a system to take policy and decision making of the Ministry of Defence outside the South Block.
  • The DPC will comprise the three Service Chiefs and the defence, expenditure and foreign secretaries. The DPC will operate through four sub-committees: policy and strategy, plans and capability development, defence diplomacy and defence manufacturing ecosystem.

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30 percent of the Great Barrier Reef coral died in heatwave in 2016

  • Scientists have chronicled the “mass mortality” of corals on the Great Barrier Reef, in a new report that says 30% of the reef’s corals died in a catastrophic nine-month marine heatwave.
  • The extent and severity of the coral die-off recorded in the Great Barrier Reef surprised even the researchers. Hughes told Guardian Australia the 2016 marine heatwave had been far more harmful than historical bleaching events, where an estimated 5% to 10% of corals died.
  • The scientists set out to map the impact of the 2016 marine heatwave on coral along the 2,300km length of the Great Barrier Reef.

34 technology firms sign Cybersecurity Tech Accord

  • Top 34 global technology and securities firms, led by Microsoft and Facebook, have signed a "Cybersecurity Tech Accord" to defend people from malicious attacks by cybercriminals and nation-states.
  • The watershed agreement will prevent them help governments launch cyber attacks against innocent citizens and enterprises. It will also protect against tampering or exploitation of their products and services through every stage of technology development, design and distribution.
  • The 34 companies include Cisco, HP, Nokia, Oracle, VMware, Dell, CA Technologies, Symantec, Bitdefender, F-Secure, RSA and Trend Micro, among others.

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