International Places in News Part 5

 Glue traps for birds

  • France is to outlaw trapping birds using sticks covered in glue after the European commission threatened legal action and fines.
  • Using glue sticks to catch birds has been outlawed in Europe since the 1979 Bird Directive, except in specific circumstances where the practice is “controlled, selective and in limited quantities”. 
  • Since 1989, France has invoked these circumstances to permit glue-trapping in five south-east departments on the grounds that it is “traditional”.


Chinese flotilla near Ecuador

  • Ecuador was on alert, as a flotilla of 260 mostly Chinese fishing vessels– what some called a “floating city”– was sighted near the Galapagos archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose acquatic species such as manta rays and sharks have been endangered by commercial fishing.
  • Every year, Ecuador faces the challenge of protecting its natural habitat from Chinese vessels.

Chinese fishing around Galapagos

  • According to the Madrid-based El País, the flotilla, which also consisted of some Liberia and Panama-flagged vessels, was detected in an international water corridor situated between two areas of Ecuadorian jurisdiction– 200 miles away from both the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador.
  • In 2017, when a Chinese ship did enter Ecuador’s waters, its authorities seized it and discovered 300 tonnes of wildlife on board, mostly the critically endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks – a delicacy in China. As per report, two-thirds of hammerhead shark fins found in Hong Kong markets come from the Galapagos area.
  • According to the Guayaquil-based El Universo, Chinese ships frequent Ecuador’s waters this time of the year when the cold Humboldt Current brings in nutrients that lead to a high congregation of marine species.

The Galapagos Islands

  • Renowned worldwide for its unique species, the islands host a wide array of aquatic wildlife, including marine iguanas, fur seals, and waved albatrosses. 
  • The giant tortoises found here – ‘Galápagos’ in old Spanish– give the islands its name.
  • Ecuador made a part of the Galapagos a wildlife sanctuary in 1935, and the sanctuary became the Galapagos National Park in 1959. 
  • In 1978, the islands became UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site.
  • It was here that the British naturalist Charles Darwin made key observations in 1835 that shaped his theory of evolution. 
  • Darwin described the islands as a “world in itself”.



  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced recently that it has started operations in the first of four reactors at the Barakah nuclear power station – the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world.
  • Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), which is building and operating the plant with Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).
  • Barakah, which was originally scheduled to open in 2017, has been dogged by delays and is billions of dollars over budget. 

It has also raised myriad concerns among nuclear energy veterans who are concerned about the potential risks Barakah could visit upon the Arabian Peninsula, from an environmental catastrophe to a nuclear arms race.

  • There have been at least 13 aerial attacks on nuclear facilities in the Middle East – more than any other region on earth.
  • The UAE has substantial oil and gas reserves, but it has made huge investments in developing alternative energy sources, including nuclear and solar.
  • When the UAE first announced Barakah in 2009, nuclear power was cheaper than solar and wind. 
  • But by 2012 – when the Emirates started breaking ground to build the reactors – solar and wind costs had plummeted dramatically.
  • Between 2009 and 2019, utility-scale average solar photovoltaic costs fell 89 percent and wind fell 43 percent, while nuclear jumped 26 percent, according to an analysis by the financial advisory and asset manager Lazard.


Recent Tensions Between Turkey And Greece

  • NATO allies Turkey and Greece have locked horns twice over the past two weeks – 
  • first after Turkey converted the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque, and 
  • then over who gets to explore hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • In February, Turkey had allowed thousands of migrants to cross the border into Greece and the European Union.

The Mediterranean neighbours

  • For centuries, Turkey and Greece have shared a chequered history. Greece won independence from modern Turkey’s precursor, the Ottoman Empire, in 1830.
  • In 1923, the two countries exchanged their Muslim and Christian populations – a migration whose scale has only been surpassed in history by the Partition of India.
  • The two nations continue to oppose each other on the decades-old Cyprus conflict, and on two occasions have almost gone to war over exploration rights in the Aegean Sea.
  • Both countries are, however, part of the 30-member NATO alliance, and Turkey is officially a candidate for full membership of the European Union, of which Greece is a constituent.

The Hagia Sophia row

  • The centuries-old Hagia Sophia, listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, was originally a cathedral in the Byzantine Empire before it was turned into a mosque in 1453, when Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmet II’s Ottoman forces.
  • In the 1930s, however, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, shut down the mosque and turned it into a museum in an attempt to make the country more secular.
  • Many Greeks continue to revere the Hagia Sophia, and view it as a key part of Orthodox Christianity. So, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the structure open to Muslim worship last month, tensions escalated.
  • On July 24, when Friday prayers were held at the Hagia Sophia for the first time in 90 years, church bells tolled across Greece in protest. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the site’s conversion an “affront to civilisation of the 21st century”, describing Turkey’s move as a “proof of weakness”.
  • A day later, Turkey’s foreign ministry hit back, saying, “Greece showed once again its enmity towards Islam and Turkey with the excuse of reacting to Hagia Sophia Mosque being opened to prayers”.

The Eastern Mediterranean dispute

  • For 40 years, Turkey and Greece have disagreed over rights to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, which covers significant oil and gas deposits.
  • On July 21, Turkey announced that the drilling ship Oruc Reis would be exploring a disputed part of the sea for oil and gas. Greece responded by placing its air force, navy and coastguard on high alert.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for Greece, and said that Turkey should be “sanctioned” for its violations in the Aegean.
  • After German Chancellor Angela Merkel intervened, Turkey said last week that it had halted the drilling operation, and that it was “ready to discuss” the issue with Greece.


Que- Which country’s former king Juan Carlos has decided to leave his country, a dramatic exit designed to protect the monarchy after a barrage of corruption allegations surfaced against him.

  1. a) Indonesia
  2. b) Singapore
  3. c) Spain
  4. d) Portugal

Ans- (c)

  • Pressure had been building for weeks on the former king and his son, King Felipe, to take action to shore up the monarchy, after Spanish and Swiss prosecutors started looking into allegations of bribes over a high-speed rail contract.
  • Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy. 
  • But his popularity sank in later years due to a series of scandals, prompting him to step down in 2014.


#ZimbabweanRightsMatter tag in online campaign

  • Recently Zimbabwean administration thwarted a peaceful street protest against economic turmoil and human rights violations 
  • by arresting scores of activists, opposition leaders and journalists, 
  • the people’s movement shifted online — with a hashtag inspired by the global #BlackLivesMatter campaign.
  • More than 700,000 posts have been shared with the hashtag #ZimbabweanRightsMatter demanding the release of those arrested and condemning the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government for stifling dissent.
  • Mnangagwa called the opposition political parties “terrorist grouplings” and accused them of working with foreigners to topple his administration.
  • Protesters, including 2020 Booker Prize long-listed novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga, were arrested by law enforcement authorities for participating in the protest.
  • After Mnangagwa replaced the country’s former strongman Robert Mugabe following a military takeover in 2017, 
  • he vowed to undo the damage that had been done to Zimbabwe’s economy by the previous regime. 
  • However, the Mnangagwa administration failed to deliver.


Mauritius declares environmental emergency after oil spill

  • The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius has declared a “state of environmental emergency” after a Japanese-owned ship that ran aground offshore began spilling tons of fuel.
  • Satellite images showed a dark slick spreading in the turquoise waters near environmental areas that the government called “very sensitive”.
  • Mauritius appealing to France for help, saying the spill “represents a danger” for the country of some 1.3 million people that relies heavily on tourism.
  • The French island of Reunion is the closest neighbour to Mauritius.
  • Blue Bay Marine Park and other areas near the leaking ship “very sensitive”.
  • The M.V. Wakashio, owned by Japanese companies Okiyo Maritime Corporation and Nagashiki Shipping Co. Ltd., was on its way from Brazil to Singapore carrying close to 4,000 tons of fuel when it ran aground on July 25.


Kavkaz 2020 exercise in Russia

  • In a resumption of bilateral and multilateral military exercises which were deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19), India will take part in the Russian Kavkaz 2020 strategic command-post exercise next month. 
  • The invitees for the exercise also include China and Pakistan apart from other member-states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
  • A small tri-service contingent will take part in the exercise to be held in Astrakhan in southern Russia.
  • The Indian contingent includes 150 Army personnel and smaller number of personnel from the Navy and Air Force.

The invitation for participation to Kavkaz 2020, also referred to as Caucasus-2020, has been extended to at least 18 countries including China, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey apart from other Central Asian Republics part of the SCO.


Bangladesh to construct standalone war memorial for Indian soldiers

  • Bangladesh has decided to construct a monument for the Indian soldiers who died in 1971 during the country’s struggle for independence from Pakistan.
  • This comes amid Dhaka’s push to reinforce ties with India notwithstanding recent efforts by Beijing and Islamabad to woo it.
  • The monument coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh independence.
  • The Hasina government has selected 3.5 acres in Ashuganj of Brahmanbaria district, bordering Tripura, due to its significance in the Liberation War of 1971. The architectural design will reflect the bond between the neighbours.
  • Bangladesh has a National Memorial on the outskirts of Dhaka for all 1971 martyrs, but the proposed one is meant for Indian soldiers alone.
  • Bangladesh had earlier felicitated Indian soldiers and veterans, and posthumously honoured former prime minister Indira Gandhi and several other distinguished Indians for their role in the Liberation War.


Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung blasts

  • Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung erupted, belching a massive column of ash and smoke 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) into the air and plunging local communities into darkness with a thick layer of debris.
  • The volcano on Sumatra island has been rumbling since 2010 and saw a deadly eruption in 2016.
  • Sinabung had roared back to life in 2010 for the first time in 400 years. After another period of inactivity, it erupted once more in 2013, and has remained highly active since.
  • Indonesia is home to about 130 active volcanoes due to its position on the “Ring of Fire,” a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs.


Kiribati’s president’s plans to raise islands in fight against sea-level rise

  • Kiribati will raise its islands above the ocean as part of its fight against sea-level rise, seeking help from its new diplomatic partner China to secure the archipelagic nation’s future.
  • President said he would not accept large loans “from any country”, and would not allow China to build a base on Kiribati’s strategically significant Christmas Island, south of Hawaii.
  • Also working with New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research to develop a long-term coastal security strategy for Kiribati.
  • The strategy is still in development but clearly identifies raising islands as a way forward in fight against climate change.
  • A former British colony made up of three archipelagos sprawled over an ocean area the size of India, Kiribati – pronounced Kiribahss – has acquired significant strategic importance in the era of US-China rivalry in the Pacific.
  • The US military has flagged concerns that Kiribati might allow China to build dual-use – military and civilian – facilities on its largest island, Christmas, just 2,000km south of Hawaii, and home of the US Pacific Fleet.
  • Kiribati is already developing fishing infrastructure on Christmas in partnership with a Chinese company.
  • China has a record in small, vulnerable states of granting loans to build what Beijing wants – often not what the beneficiary country needs – through a combination of gifts and bribes, a process known as “elite capture”. 
  • Kiribati, a least developed country historically dependent on foreign aid for upwards of 40% of its budget, is seen as acutely vulnerable.
  • Besides the strategically located Christmas, Kiribati’s capital Tarawa is just 1,000km south-west of the US military installations in Kwajelein.
  • A treaty between Kiribati and the US prohibits any other country from building military installations in Kiribati without “consultation” with Washington first.
  • Waves rolling over narrow atoll islands every few years leave sand behind, raising islands in tandem with the sea.
  • Atoll islands are in a state of equilibrium with the sea, which is why most are at the same height.
  • The solution involves razing houses and large-scale sand dredging to raise the island, stretch by stretch, by half a metre to a metre, to secure the island’s safety for 50 or more years.


Que- Recently, in USA the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told employees that some office space it leases in the Atlanta area would be closed again after property managers of the buildings discovered Legionella. Choose incorrect about Legionella

  1. a) It is the virus that causes Legionnaires’ disease.
  2. b) Legionnaires’ disease, a respiratory illness, can be fatal in 1 in 10 cases. 
  3. c) The bacteria that causes the illness, Legionella pneumophila, can form in warm, stagnant water that is not properly disinfected.
  4. d) Known about it since the 1970s or so.

Ans- (a)

  • It is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.


Five Eco-tourism Zones In Addu Atoll

  • Maldives’ five eco-tourism zones built with grant assistance from India were launched through a contract award ceremony as part of Delhi’s neighbourhood first policy.
  • The five eco-tourism zones are being developed under MoUs signed between the Indian High Commission (Maldives), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Addu City Council this February.
  • As the Implementing Agency for these projects, Addu City Council (Maldives) is responsible for steering the entire project-cycle including tendering, tender-evaluation, award of contracts, monitoring and execution of the projects.

5 Eco-tourism zones’ in Addu, one each in Hithadoo, Maradhoo, Feydhoo, Hulhudhoo & Meedhoo.

  • These grant projects are being implemented under the High-Impact Community Development project (HICDP) scheme which involves a total grant assistance of MVR 85 million ($5.5 million) to the Maldives. 
  • Currently, there are nine such high-impact projects being implemented under this particular scheme in the Maldives. 
  • Of these, contracts have already been awarded for setting up of three Fish Plants in Addu.

The objectives for implementing these projects are three-fold: 

  1. i) To develop high-impact assets for the benefit of the local island community; 
  2. ii) To build capacities within the Local Councils that are fully responsible for the projects, right from their commencement to conclusion;
  3. iii) To support and strengthen the local economy.


Why onions are a new cause of concern in the US and Canada

  • Over the past week, health agencies in both countries have put out alerts asking its citizens to discard onions supplied by California-based Thomson International Inc, linking a salmonella bacteria infection with the bulb.

What is Salmonellosis?

  • The salmonella bacteria resides in animals. 
  • When it enters a human body it causes salmonellosis, an infection that attacks the intestine, and can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, bleeding in stool and nausea. 
  • The symptoms of the infection last anywhere between 2 and 7 days.
  • However, bowel function could sometimes takes months before returning to normalcy. In some cases, it spreads the infection from the intestine to the blood stream.
  • The infection hits children, below the age of five, and senior citizens the worst. The good news is less than 1 per cent of infected people succumb to the infection.
  • Salmonella can transmit to humans through contaminated water or food. 
  • In this case, the bacteria was transmitting through contaminated onions, cultivated by Thomson International.