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Parliament of Thailand invites Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to become king

The Parliament of Thailand on 29 November 2016 invited Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn to be the new king of the country. 
●    The invitation completes a formal step for the heir apparent to take the throne following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in October 2016.
●    As per the established procedure, the prince will have to accept parliament's invitation in order for him to be proclaimed king.
●    Born on 28 July 1952, Maha Vajiralongkorn is the only son of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit.
●    He was made crown prince at the age of 20 by his father.
●    He graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in Canberra, Australia.
●    He is a qualified military pilot and helicopter pilot.
●    He also took an active part in military operations against the Communist Party of Thailand during the 1970s.
●    He will be the 10th king of the 234-year-old Chakri Dynasty.


 

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United Nations launches strategy to minimise environmental footprint of its peace operations

The United Nations Department of Field Support (DFS) on 29 November 2016 launched a new strategy to maximize its peace operations' efficiency in the use of natural resources. 
●    The strategy will also help in minimizing peace operations' risk to people, societies and ecosystems.
●    The step was taken to highlight the significance of environmental protection and management in the work of peacekeeping missions.
●    The scheme aims at conserving water and reducing the level of risk to personnel, local communities and ecosystems from wastewater management practices.
●    The first phase of the strategy will be implemented through July 2020. It will focus on improving environmental analytics to effectively monitor progress. 
●    The five pillars of the strategy will then be reviewed. Thereafter, specific targets will be set for the second phase of strategy implementation to conclude in June 2023.
●    The United Nations Department of Field Support is dedicated to the support of peacekeeping field missions and political field missions.
●    The DFS has been headed by Atul Khare since 2 March 2015.


 

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Amazon to sell Amul products online in the US

In an exclusive association, e-commerce giant Amazon is going to sell popular Indian dairy brand Amul’s products online in the United States.
●    The alliance is a part of Amazon’s Global Selling Programme, which was launched in India in May 2015. 
●    It will bring the brand’s products within reach of American consumers.
●    This would mark the dairy brand’s first official entry into the online space in the US. 
●    Though it is already selling its products there through traditional retail channels for the past 20 years, this move would expand its reach to a larger audience. 
●    The program is aimed at making it easy for Indian sellers to sell their ‘Make in India’ products to consumers across the world. 
●    It offers an end-to-end solution to each seller such as assisting them with imaging, logistics, tax advisory and remittance. 
●    It covers all sellers, including small and medium-sized enterprises, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and large brands.

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Brazillian Plane Crashes, an entire Football Team among others dead

An aeroplane carrying 81 people on board including Brazilian first division soccer team crashed on its way to Medellin's international airport. 
●    The Brazilian soccer team was travelling to Colombia for a regional tournament final.
●    The cause of the incident is yet to be ascertained.
●    As per reports, about 25 bodies have been recovered from the site of the air crash, while five people were rescued alive. 
●    Three players are among the five survivors.
●    The aircraft, which embarked from Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil, which was scheduled to play the Copa Sudamericana finals against Atletico Nacional on 30 November 2016 in Medellin.
●    Reports say the British Aerospace 146 plane declared an emergency at 10 pm on 28 November 2016 due to an electrical failure. 
●    This short-haul plane was operated by a Bolivian charter airline named Lamia.

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Tata Steel UK to sell Speciality Steels Unit to Liberty House Group

Tata Steel U.K. has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Liberty House Group, the metals company run by tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, to enter into exclusive negotiations for the potential sale of its Speciality Steels business for an enterprise value of £100 million.
●    This year, Liberty acquired significant assets in South Wales, the West Midlands, Scotland and Kent from Tata Steel.
●    Tata Steel aims to retain the rest of its U.K. businesses and is in talks with German firm ThyssenKrupp to merge their European steel operations, potentially giving the combined entity 40 per cent market share. 
●    Tata Steel is pursuing a transformation plan to create a sustainable future for its U.K. strip products business. 
●    Tata Steel U.K. has invested £1.5 billion in the last 9 years.


 

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World Robot Olympiad : India team bags silver

Outshining over 450 teams, team “High Voltage” from India (Gurugram) won a silver in the Regular Junior High category in the 13th World Robot Olympiad (WRO) that concluded at India Expo Mart in Greater Noida on Sunday. 
●    The two-day international championship, jointly organised by National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and India STEM Foundation (ISF), was based on the theme “Rap the Scrap”.
●    The competition was held for students in the 9-25 years age group in categories — Regular category, WRO Football, Open category and Advanced Robotics Challenge. 
●    Over 2,000 students from over 50 countries showcased innovative solutions using robotics technology to reduce, manage and recycle waste.
●    Prior to the finals, regional competitions were held at Delhi, Lucknow, Tirupati, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Kolkata, Varanasi, Guwahati, Bangaluru, Surat, Mumbai, Bhopal and Chandigarh earlier this year.

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Marrakech : 470 companies announce climate commitments, present plans

At first glance, the outcomes of the recently concluded UN-sponsored climate negotiations at Marrakech seem to be low-key, lacking the glamour of achievements a year ago in Paris. 
●    The most important outcome of the two-week long negotiations was a firm commitment by countries to finalise the rule book for the Paris Agreement by December 2018. 
●    So while governments committed to fast-tracking the process of finalising the rule book, businesses, cities, and local governments stepped up and put forward plans and initiatives to address climate change: to move to a low carbon and climate resilient pathway.
●    Till date, 471 companies with over $8 trillion in market capitalisation have announced climate commitments, and presented plans to achieve that goal. 
●    Some 200 companies, including global retail major Walmart, have adopted science-based targets that set out quantified goals for reducing carbon footprint of their operations. 
●    Cement major Dalmia Cement was among the Indian companies that made a commitment to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they produce. 

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Colombia, Farc sign second peace deal amid opposition

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, and Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), signed a new peace agreement on 24 November 2016.
●    The revised agreement will be submitted to Colombian Congress for approval. 
●    It will not be put to a country-wide vote, and would also not form a part of the Colombian constitution.
●    It is Colombian Government’s second attempt to end Latin America’s longest-running conflict, which has killed around 220000 people.
●    President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.
●    The new accord introduces around 50 changes, which are intended to temper critics led by still-powerful former President Alvaro Uribe.
●    Under the revised accord, the rebels will have to declare their assets. The money will be used for reparation payments to victims of the conflict.

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Nikki Haley - first Indian-American to be named US ambassador to UN

Donald Trump, the President-elect of the United States of America (USA), on 23 November 2016 named South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the US Ambassador to the United Nations. 
●    Haley became the first non-white female cabinet-level official to be appointed within the Trump administration.
●    She is the daughter of Indian immigrants
●    She was a vocal critic of Trump on the campaign trail
●    The 44-year-old has been characterised as a rising star within the Republican Party is the youngest Governor in the US.
●    She has served America as the 116th Governor of South Carolina since 2011.
●    She is also the first woman and first minority governor of South Carolina.
●    She is the second Indian-American, after Bobby Jindal, to serve as governor in the US.
●    President-elect Trump also named Betsy DeVos as education secretary of the country. DeVos is a billionaire education philanthropist and activist.

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Google acquires Cloud Training Firm Qwiklabs

Google is on a spree to strengthen its cloud offerings after it combined its cloud and corporate software divisions under a single entity. 
●    This time around, Google has acquired yet another firm called Qwiklabs that deals in end-to-end cloud platform services and training on how to use them. 
●    The acquisition will provide a lab learning on Google's Cloud Platform, G Suite and other products for the developers. 
●    The acquisition deal amount has not been disclosed. Separately, it invested in AI research at the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, and is also opening an AI research group at its Montreal office.
●    Qwiklabs, founded in 2012, has been into the cloud training business with Amazon Web Services also as its client. 
●    "It's been an incredible rocket ride, and joining Google gives us more fuel to power the continued journey to realize our vision," said the company in its blog post. 
●    The company also details that the existing customers and subscribers will continue to access the libraries with tutor-led sessions still running as before.

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