Current Affair – June 3, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Aortic National Wildlife Refuge

The USA administration is halting petroleum development activity in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reversing a move by former President Donald Trump to allow drilling.

About Aortic National Wildlife Refuge

  • Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, vast natural area occupying the northeastern corner of the U.S. state of Alaska.
  • It was established in 1960 as Arctic National Wildlife Range was expanded and renamed Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1980.
  • It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with headquarters in Fairbanks.

· The refuge lies wholly north of the Arctic Circle and is bordered to the north by the Beaufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean.

  • Its relief is dominated by the eastern portion of the rugged Brooks Range.

Rivers

The Porcupine River, a major tributary of the Yukon River, cuts southwestward through the southeastern portion of the refuge and receives waters of the Coleen, Sheenjek, and other rivers flowing southward from the refuge. The Canning River, flowing northward into the Arctic Ocean, constitutes the northwestern boundary of the refuge.

Flora

he Porcupine River, a major tributary of the Yukon River, cuts southwestward through the southeastern portion of the refuge and receives waters of the Coleen, Sheenjek, and other rivers flowing southward from the refuge. The Canning River, flowing northward into the Arctic Ocean, constitutes the northwestern boundary of the refuge.

Fauna

  • A wide array of wildlife is found in those ecosystems, including nearly four dozen mammal species and some 200 species of birds.
  • Notable among the larger terrestrial mammals are musk oxen, moose, gray wolves, red and Arctic foxes, black and brown (grizzly) bears, and, in the high mountains, Dell (or Dell’s) sheep (a relative of bighorn sheep).
  • A remarkable annual event in the refuge is the migration of one of the Arctic’s major caribou herds, which heads northward from the Porcupine River basin to summer breeding grounds on the coastal plain and then back south in autumn .

· Smaller mammals include snowshoe hares, shrews, mustelids such as martens and river otters, and a variety of rodents (e.g., marmots, voles, lemmings, and beavers).

  • Coastal areas support polar bears and populations of seals, and whales migrate through the region during the fall.
  • Only a small number of bird species (including ptarmigans, owls, and woodpeckers) live there permanently. Much more typical are summer residents (some of which breed there), notably aquatic species (including ducks, geese, and loons), shorebirds such as plovers and sandpipers, gulls and terns, golden eagles, and kestrels and hawks. A large number of the birds sighted in the refuge are migratory, rare, or accidental visitors.
  • The rivers, lakes, and coastal waters teem with fish, including Arctic grayling, whitefish, and Dolly Virden trout, a type of char.

Humans in Refuge

  • The Athabasca-speaking Gwich’in peoples are based in the Porcupine basin, and their economy is largely focused on the caribou herd that winters there. They maintain the small community of Arctic Village at the southern boundary of the wildlife refuge.
  • Inupiat Eskimo (Inuit) inhabit the northern coastal area, subsisting primarily by hunting a variety of game. Their community of Kaktovik is located on a barrier island just off the coast of the refuge.

Oil in Refuge

  • In 1968 oil was discovered along the North Slope coast at Prudhoe Bay, about 75 miles (120 km) west of the wildlife refuge, and speculation grew about possible reserves on refuge lands.

· With the enactment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971, both the Inupiat and Gwich’in were given ownership of federal lands in their traditional areas.

  • Each group eventually was given the option of transferring the subsurface mineral rights for its land to a private company; the Gwich’in chose not to participate, but the Inupiat accepted the offer and established the KaktovikInupiat Corporation.

· The region known as 1002 Area was assessed, with estimates of petroleum deposits there put in the billions-of- barrels range. The future of the 1002 Area has since been hotly and repeatedly debated between proponents and opponents of further oil exploration and drilling. Any resource development of the area (including on Inupiat lands) requires Congressional authorization.

Source: The Hindu

China’s Artificial Su

China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokomak (EAST), which mimics the energy generation process of the sun, set a new record after it ran at 216 million degrees Fahrenheit (120 million degrees Celsius) for 101 seconds.

  • For another 20 seconds, the “artificial sun” also achieved a peak temperature of 288 million degrees Fahrenheit (160 million degrees Celsius), which is over ten times hotter than the sun.
  • The latest feat by Chinese scientists is a significant step in the country’s quest to unlock clean and limitless energy, with minimal waste products.

What is China’s ‘artificial sun’ EAST?

  • The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokomak (EAST) reactor is an advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device. It is located at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China.

.The purpose of the artificial sun is to replicate the process of nuclear fusion, which is the same reaction that powers the sun.

  • The EAST is one of three major domestic tokamaks that are presently being operated across the country. Apart from the EAST, China is currently operating the HL-2A reactor as well as J-TEXT. In December 2020, HL-2M Tokomak, China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, was successfully powered up for the first time — a key milestone in the growth of China’s nuclear power research capabilities.
  • Since it first became operational in 2006, the EAST has set several records for the duration of confinement of exceedingly hot plasma. The EAST project is part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) facility, which will become the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor when it becomes operational in 2035. The project includes the contributions of several countries, including India, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States.

How does the ‘artificial sun’ EAST work?

  • The EAST Tokomak device is designed to replicate the nuclear fusion process carried out by the sun and stars. Nuclear fusion is a process through which high levels of energy are produced without generating large quantities of waste. Previously, energy was produced through nuclear fission — a process in which the nucleus of a heavy atom was split into two or more nuclei of lighter atoms.

· While fission is an easier process to carry out, it generates far more nuclear waste. Unlike fission, fusion also does not emit greenhouse gases and is considered a safer process with lower risk of accidents. Once mastered, nuclear fusion could potentially provide unlimited clean energy and very low costs.

  • For nuclear fusion to occur, tremendous heat and pressure are applied on hydrogen atoms so that they fuse together. The nuclei of deuterium and tritium — both found in hydrogen — are made to fuse together to create a helium nucleus, a neutron along with a whole lot of energy.
  • Fuel is heated to temperatures of over 150 million degrees C so that it forms a hot plasma “soup” of subatomic particles. With the help of a strong magnetic field, the plasma is kept away from the walls of the reactor to ensure it does not cool down and lose its potential to generate large amounts of energy. The plasma is confined for long durations for fusion to take place.

What is the latest record and why does it matter?

  • The EAST reactor set a new record when it achieved a plasma temperature of 216 million degrees Fahrenheit and also managed to run for 20 seconds at 288 million degrees Fahrenheit. The sun’s core only reaches about 15 million degrees Celsius, which means the reactor was able to touch temperatures that are 10 times hotter than that.
  • The next goal for the scientists behind the experimental reactor is to maintain the high temperature for a long period of time. Previously, the EAST had reached a record temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius in 2018.
  • China is not the only country that has achieved high plasma temperatures. In 2020, South Korea’s KSTAR reactor set a new record by maintaining a plasma temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.
Source: Indian Express

Central Civil Services (Pension) Amendment Rules, 2020

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) noticed the Central Civil Services (Pension) Amendment Rules, 2020.

Amendment

  • The said rules first drafted in 1972 have been amended 47 times.
  • In 2008, Rule 8 pertaining to “pension subject to future good conduct” was first amended by inserting the condition that retired intelligence and security socials will not publish any material that affects the “sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, or relation with a foreign State or which would lead to incitement of an offence”.

Latest amendment

  • The new amendment expands the scope to include any information related to “domain of the organization, any reference or information about any personnel and his designation, and expertise or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organization”.

·  It also requires the retired officials to sign an undertaking — Form 26 — and declare that without the prior appro- val of the competent authority they will not publish any information related to the “domain of the organisation and obtained by virtue of my working in the said organisation”.

  • The rules would cover retired officials of the Intelligence Bureau, RAW, National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Customs officials and all other organizations exempted un deer the Right to Information Act (RTI) such as the Nation al Security Council Secretariat, Defiance Research and Development Organisation, Border Road Organisation among others.
Source: The Hindu

Delay in Monsoon arrival

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced that southwest monsoon has been delayed, and its onset over Kerala is now likely to take place only on June 3. The normal date for the onset of the monsoon over the Kerala coast is June 1.
  • India as a whole receives about 116 cm of rain every year, out of which about 89 cm comes in the southwest monsoon season.

What does the ‘onset of monsoon’ mean?

  • The onset of the monsoon over Kerala marks the beginning of the four-month, June-September southwest monsoon season over India, which brings more than 70% of the country’s annual rainfall. The onset is a big day for the Indian economy every year.
  • The southwest monsoon is keenly awaited, and the IMD declares its arrival only after certain well defined and measurable parameters are met. Meteorologists check for the consistency of rainfall over a defined geography, its intensity, and wind speed.
  • Specifically, the onset of the monsoon is declared after at least 60% of the 14 designated meteorological stations in Kerala and Lakshadweep record at least 2.5 mm of rain for two consecutive days at any time after May 10. A few other conditions relating to wind and temperature must also be fulfilled in addition.

Does a delayed monsoon mean a poor monsoon?

  • No, it does not. The onset is just an event that happens during the progress of monsoon over the Indian subcontinent.
  • The overall rain that India gets during a particular southwest monsoon season, and its regional distribution, is not influenced by the date of the onset of the monsoon in that year.

And does a delayed onset mean cascading delays across the country?

  • It is true that a delayed onset has the potential to delay the arrival of monsoon in other parts of the country as well, especially in the southern states, which start getting rain within days of the monsoon reaching the Kerala coast.
  • However, this is not a given — a delayed onset does not automatically and invariably translate into a delayed arrival over the entire country.
  • The northward progression of the monsoon after reaching the Kerala coast depends on a lot of local factors, including the creation of low pressure areas. It is possible, therefore, that despite the onset happening late, other parts of the country start getting rains on time.

· After its onset over Kerala, the monsoon spreads over the entire country by July 15.

Source: Indian Express

Tulsa Massacre

  • U.S. President Joe Biden became the first sitting American head of state to socially recognize one of the worst incidents

of violent racial hate in the country’s modern history — the Tulsa Race Massacre of May June 1921.

  • The widespread killings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, targeting relatively well-to-do African Americans, and the extensive damage to their proper tie by rampaging white mobs at the time shocked the nation and world.

History

  • In 1921, it was the affluent, predominantly African American neighborhood of Greenwood, Tulsa, founded by descendants of slaves and having earned a reputation as the “Black Wall Street” of the U.S., that faced the carnage unleashed on May 31 and June 1.

· Tulsa was especially known for being an unofficial sanctuary city for African Americans suffering the consequences of harsh segregation or Jim Crow laws in precivil rights America.

  • It appears that deep resentment that a community of colour, and one subject to centuries of oppression, had risen to the higher echelons of the economic pyramid blended with historical racist hatred.
  • It resulted in lethal violence culminating in the deaths of hundreds, bodily injury to thousands and millions of dollars of damage to the homes and neighbour hoods burned down by the rampaging mob.

Afterwards

  • There was an elaborate attempt to cover up the massacre and protect the perpetrators.
  • For years, the massacre was barely mentioned in government circles, and in newspapers and textbooks.
  • It was only in 2000 that it finally made an appearance in the Oklahoma public schools’ curriculum.
  • Tulsa city officials cover up the crimes committed, they also “deliberately shifted the narrative of the massacre by calling it a ‘riot’ and blaming the Black community for what went down”.
  • While the Tulsa “Race Riot” Commission was formed to investigate the events in 1997 and officially released a report in 2001, it is clear that much has remained buried.

What the US President said to in recognising the massacre?

“We do ourselves no favours by pretending none of this ever happened… We should know the good, the bad, everything. That’s what great nations do: They come to terms with their dark sides.

Source: The Hindu

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