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Thursday December 3 2020

Battle Lines

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Sanity Break #1

We stumbled upon one of the postcards featuring woodblock prints of 1930s India made by Japanese artist Yoshida Hiroshi—and then discovered an entire treasure trove over at . The above is, of course, the Golden Temple. The other beauties include Victoria Memorial, Ajmer Gate and Taj Mahal. Artsy has a of prints from Japan and other parts of the world.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

THE UK OKAYS PFIZER * The UK became the first country in the world to clear a Covid jab for widespread use. The Pfizer vaccine which has 95% efficacy will be rolled out next week—becoming the fastest vaccine ever developed in medical history (just 10 months!).  * Most likely to be first in line: The elderly in care homes. has more.  * The European Union has the UK’s “hasty” approval. The reason: “The decision was made under an ultra-fast, emergency approval process, which allowed the British drugs regulator to temporarily authorise the vaccine only 10 days after it began examining data from large-scale trials.” * has more on the UK’s approval process. * Pfizer isn’t on of likely vaccines—since it has to be stored in -70°C. But it is keeping the door open to acquiring some at a later stage, and talking to an Indian company that is developing a similar vaccine.   In other pandemic-related news: * A participant in the Chennai human trials of the Oxford vaccine developed serious neurological problems—but Serum Institute and the government insist that they were not caused by the vaccine. Chennai-based neurologist—who examined the person after he was discharged from the hospital—has refuted their claims in a declaration. has more. * Equally important: The government now says that it is not necessary to vaccinate all Indians. It will instead target a ‘critical mass’ to break the chain of transmission. looks at whether this strategy will work. * Newly out of Israel came to a surprising conclusion: asthma may actually make a person less susceptible to infection. They have three guesses why. One: people with respiratory allergies have fewer receptors on their cell—making it harder for the spike protein to latch on. Two: People with asthma are likely to be more cautious. Three: Their inhalers may prevent the virus from multiplying. * A researcher has found a surprising link between Covid and Amazon user reviews of scented candles. explains. * The Interpol that vaccines will become a profitable target for criminal organisations: "As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organisations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains. Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives." * Eager not to be left behind by the UK, Russian President Vladimir Putin has officials to begin large scale Sputnik V vaccinations. The first in line: teachers and doctors. * Russia’s vaccine has attracted a lot of criticism (explained ), but also plenty of very good jokes. Like this one:   INDIA SAVES FACE DOWN UNDER * India finally managed Australia by 13 runs in the 3rd ODI match at Canberra—and avoided a whitewash.  * The batsman on fire: Hardik Pandya who scored 92 off 76 balls, followed by Ravindra Jadeja with 66 runs off 50 balls.  * But the real heroes were the bowlers (read: Bumrah) who deserve credit for this win, preventing the Aussies from scoring the required target: 303 runs.  * Hero in absentia: who is now the batsman with the highest ODI score in 2020—eighth year in a row! * : This jaw-dropping reverse sweep by Glenn Maxwell.   INDIA’S HONEY IS ADULTERATED The Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment on Wednesday said its tests had found 77% of honey sold by big and small companies in India “adulterated with addition of sugar syrup.” Most of the top brands on the market—including Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami—failed the test. The three : Saffola, Markfed Sohna, and Nature’s Nectar. A hidden culprit: Chinese companies that export huge amounts of these cheap sugar syrups to India—making adulteration highly profitable. ()   In other China news: A submitted to Congress concludes that the violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Galwan Valley was premeditated:    > “Some evidence suggested the Chinese government had planned the incident, potentially including the possibility for fatalities. > For instance, several weeks prior to the clash, Defense Minister Wei [Fenghe] made his statement encouraging Beijing to ‘use > fighting to promote stability’... Satellite images depicted a large Chinese buildup in the Galwan Valley, including potentially > 1,000 PLA soldiers, the week before the deadly skirmish.” In happier news: China has started importing rice from India for the first time in 30 years. And that’s very good news for India’s trade deficit. has more. BURGER KING’S SMASHING DEBUT The first day of Burger King India’s IPO proved to be wildly successful—and its shares were snapped up within two hours. It is the second largest burger chain in the country—with 268 stores nationwide. has more.   In other big biz news: The Chinese fintech giant Ant Group is planning its 30% stake in Paytm:   > "The main trigger for Ant to consider the divestment of its stake in Paytm is the worsening diplomatic relations between India > and China in the past few months..there is a growing realisation within Ant management that it would not be able to raise its > stake in the company."   SINGAPORE APPROVES LAB-GROWN MEAT It is the first country to greenlight lab-grown chicken meat. The US startup Eat Just will sell the product first to restaurants—and later to consumers. Why this matters: lab-grown meat is created from animal cell cultures and does not require the slaughter of animals. And it is more eco-friendly than plant-based alternatives which require farmland, irrigation etc. has details on how this stuff is made. analyses the chances of it becoming the next big thing in food.    ELEVEN VALUABLE MINUTES OF EXERCISE People with a sedentary lifestyle face the highest risk of dying young. Ergo, we need to move our bodies. But for how long? A new study found that even people who spend most of their time sitting face a lower risk of premature death if they exercised for at least 11 minutes a day. The sweet spot is slightly longer:   > “Crunching the numbers further, the researchers concluded that the sweet spot for physical activity and longevity seemed to > arrive at about 35 minutes a day of brisk walking or other moderate activities, an amount that led to the greatest statistical > improvement in life span, no matter how many hours someone sat.” has more.   A ‘SISTINE CHAPEL OF THE ANCIENTS’ A group of archaeologists have made an astonishing discovery: tens of thousands of stretching across eight miles of cliff walls. These images—of now-extinct animals, such as the mastodon and giant sloths as well as reptiles and birds—were created in incredible detail by prehistoric artists 12,000 years ago! The lead archeologist :   > “When you’re there, your emotions flow … We’re talking about several tens of thousands of paintings. It’s going to take > generations to record them … Every turn you do, it’s a new wall of paintings."   A NIKE AD RAISES HACKLES IN JAPAN Aimed at promoting awareness of racism, the ad features the bullying faced by three mixed race schoolgirls—and challenges deep-seated Japanese cultural biases. There’s been a big backlash who see Nike as overstepping the line for foreign brands:   > "Endemic racism is going to be a sensitive topic in any culture. But Nike should not think, as a foreign brand, that it is > appropriate for them to point it out to their hosts. They are crudely putting a spotlight onto a subject that many feel should > be off-limits to guests. It's a huge own goal for Nike." But others have “amazing,” “powerful” and beautiful.”  

Battle Lines

Sanity Break #2

The pandemic may feel like a curse, but this by Abhinav Nagar—recited by actor Vinay Pathak—reminds us of its many hidden blessings. (h/t founding member Kruthika Ravi Kumar)

Sanity Break #2

Feel Good Place

: Cultural appropriation of the best kind: The album cover of Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘Axis: Bold as Love’.   : Best viral tweet: “Predator and prey walking home after a whole day of acting for National Geographic.”   : Mariah Carey’s best accessories yet.   : Best time pass.  

Feel good place

Reading Habit

READING HABIT EDITOR’S NOTE This week, news desk producers—Disha and Sara—curate the latest book releases and a list of delightful literary reads. BOOKS RELEASING IN DECEMBER * Economist Chinmay Tumbe’s latest book talks about the politics of a pandemic from a century ago. It is set in the context of the Influenza outbreak in India and is an intriguing contrast to the current Covid-19 pandemic. Read an excerpt in The Print . (December 2, 2020) * Radhika Singha shifts the focus of war-narration to the oft-forgotten warriors—the non combatants. She reimagines global conflict to one that draws the ‘Coolie’ into the arclight. (December 3, 2020) *  If you’ve ever tuned into Animal Planet late at night, you’d know a thing or two about wacky animal mating rituals. But ICYMI, follow Alex Cooper on his quest to document the most creative ones—from tap-dancing birds to seductive sea otters—in his new, delightfully risqué book. (December 7, 2020) * : Shivesh Bhatia’s newest cook book is just in time for Christmas! A 100 recipes to lift your spirits and chime in the holiday season.  (December 8, 2020) *  Anuradha Kumar-Jain pens a heartwarming story following two women in pre-partition Lahore—as they navigate troubled relationships, political turmoil, religious divide and their own aspirations. There’s always space for brave writing on our shelves. (December 10, 2020) *  Harari is back with a graphic novel version of his blockbuster hit Sapiens, and we’re excited! If you still haven’t read the book, this is a great opportunity to beat the FOMO. (December 10, 2020) *  Winter—the season of sloth-like procrastination—is upon us, and Seth Godin is here with the perfect antidote.This millennial self-help book is replete with practice strategies, productivity hacks and generally great life advice to help you create, commit and succeed! (December 10, 2020) * The quintessential tale of aspiration and success—Judithe Little details the fashion world’s most iconic rags-to-riches tale in this book. (December 29, 2020)   Also releasing this month: Sonu Sood’s memoir , Colleen Hoover’s newest YA novel , and the long-awaited desi COVID-19 read penned by medical experts. All of these are worth adding to your TBR pile!   A FAB LIST OF LITERARY READS * Want personal deets on some of the world’s most dreadful dictators? Ask their chefs. has a deep-dive on Szabłowski’s newest book, ‘How to Feed a Dictator’.  * has a real-life story of a ‘book thief’ in Germany—and how librarians finally caught him after 13 long years. * Paging all GoT nerds! has this intriguing read on how dragons became Western literature’s fave mythical beast. * Maria Popova over at spotlights Tara Books’ astonishing handmade masterpiece ‘The Night Life of Trees’—which features intricate portraits of trees painted by great Gond artists. * uncovers the deeply conservative—and anti-progressive—spirit that animates the greatest fantasy novelists such as CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein. * We greatly enjoyed browsing through this edition of . The subject: book covers! It’s brimming with fantastic trivia and links. : Cultural appropriation of the best kind: The album cover of Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘Axis: Bold as Love’.   : Best viral tweet: “Predator and prey walking home after a whole day of acting for National Geographic.”   : Mariah Carey’s best accessories yet.   : Best time pass.  

Reading Habit

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