International Current Affairs 2017

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Sweden inaugurates world’s first electric road

Sweden inaugurated a test stretch of an electric road in Sandviken to conduct tests with electric power for hybrid heavy transports on public roads.

With this, Sweden becomes first country in the world to have electric road. The tests will be conducted on parts of road E16.

Key Facts

  • The tests will continue up through 2018 and will provide knowledge of how electric roads work in practice.
  • The road E16 tests will involve a current collector on the roof of the hybrid heavy truck’s cab that will feed the current down to a hybrid electric motor in the truck.
  • It will also check feasibility of whether the technology can be used in the future.
  • These experimental tests are based on the Sweden’s goal of energy efficiency and a fossil fuel-free vehicle fleet by 2030.
  • The project is being partially funded by Sweden’s three government agencies viz. Swedish Transport Administration, Swedish Energy Agency, and the country’s innovation agency Vinnova. The rest funding is provided by the private participants.

Future Potentials: Bring one step closer to fossil fuel-free transport systems. It has the potential to achieve zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Provides a simple way for developing environmentally smart transport systems in the existing road networks.

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Gudni Johannesson wins 2016 Presidential election of Iceland

History professor and political newcomer Gudni Johannesson (48) has won the 2016 Presidential election in Iceland.

He will succeed Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who served as President of Iceland for 20 years i.e. four five year terms as the head of state.

Background

In the 2016 Presidential election, as an independent Gudni Johannesson was able to secure 39.1% votes. He defeated Halla Tomasdottir, a businesswoman without party affiliation, who was able to secure 27.9% votes. While David the former conservative party Prime Minister and Central Bank Governor David Oddsson was placed third and he won just 13% votes.

About Gudni Johannesson

  • Gudni Johannesson is historian and lecturer at the University of Iceland, Bifrost University and University of London.
  • He is an expert on political history, diplomacy and the constitution. He has not yet mentioned which political party he supports.
  • He has published a number of works, including on the Cod Wars, 2008–11 Icelandic financial crisis and Icelandic presidency.
  • He has written a biography of Gunnar Thoroddsen (former PM of Iceland) and a book about the presidency of Kristjan Eldjarn.

President of Iceland: He is elected head of state and holds a largely ceremonial position and has limited powers. He has term of four-years and is elected by universal adult suffrage. He carries the powers to block legislation and acts as a guarantor of the constitution and national unity. Since Iceland became a Republic in 1944, there have been five elected presidents.

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Expanded Panama Canal reopens

Newly renovated and expanded Panama Canal was reopened by the Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela.

After the launch a giant Chinese container ship Cosco become the first vessel to move via the newly-enlarged Panama Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

The expanded Panama Canal will allow a new, much-larger generation of container ships to pass through the isthmus of Panama.

About Panama Canal expansion project

  • The Panama Canal expansion project was approved in October 2006 after it was favoured by the national referendum by a 76.8% majority.
  • The project formally began in 2007 and was due to finish in 2014. But its completion was delayed by two years and it is estimated cost was $50 billion.
  • Panama Canal expansion project is also called as the Third Set of Locks Project. The new lane of the canal runs for 77km.
  • It doubles the existing capacity of the Panama Canal by adding a new lane of traffic allowing for a larger number of ships.
  • It also increases the depth and width of the lanes and locks allowing much-larger generation of container ships to pass.
  • It also has raised the maximum operating water level of Gatun Lake. Overall it will have a direct impact on economies of scale and international maritime trade.

About Panama Canal

  • The Panama Canal is an artificial 77 km waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.
  • The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade.
  • Strategically and economically it is one of the most important waterways in the world providing the shortest sea link between East Asia, North America and Europe.
  • Its opening in 1914 had provided alternative route to lengthy sea voyage around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or Strait of Magellan.
  • France had started work on the canal in 1881, but stopped it due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate.  Later US took over the project in 1904 and opened it in August 1914.
  • The canal was taken over or completely nationalised by the Panamanian government in 1999. Now it is managed and operated by the Panamanian government-owned Panama Canal Authority.

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