Yes, we’re always dishing out wildlife photography—and maybe you’re a little ‘whatevs’. But Tim Flach’s portrait photos of endangered birds are museum-worthy art. Our template does them little justice. We suggest you check them out in their full, exquisitely detailed glory over at .
FARMER PROTESTS: A QUICK UPDATE One: Farmers have the government’s proposal to set up a five-member committee to look into their concerns about the farm laws. They are sticking to their core demand: a full repeal of the laws. The next round of negotiations will be held on Thursday to try and break the deadlock. Meanwhile, the farmers will continue their dharna on Delhi’s borders. Also: several prominent athletes—including Padma Shri and Arjuna honorees—have returned their awards in support of the farmers’ cause. Related read: explains the reason why the farmers are in a strong position to stay firm: the kharif harvest is over, and they have already planted their rabi crops. So time is on their side. Two: Shaheen Bagh legend Bilkis Dadi was all excited to lend her support to the farmers on the border. See: she took on her way there. Sadly, the police wouldn’t let her join the protest, and led her politely away (photo ). Later, police officials : > “Yesterday also some persons from outside tried to come here and they were not at all welcome. In fact, there was a small > incident of manhandling also. Being a senior citizen lady, and in concern of security only, she was requested to go back.” Three: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to on behalf of the protesting farmers—likely to appease his Canadian-Sikh constituency (watch him ). His show of concern was poorly received. The most polite of the lot was the Indian government’s reaction: > “Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to internal affairs of a democratic country. It is also best that > diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes” A good related watch: Farmers talk to about the national media—and are both feisty and perceptive. THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * The government has finally on the Chennai participant who developed serious neurological symptoms after participating in phase 3 trial for the Oxford vaccine (explained ). Officials said that the ‘adverse event’ has been properly investigated, and is not related to the vaccine. Therefore the trial was not suspended. Point to note: The government also distanced itself from Serum Institute’s threat to sue the participant for Rs 100 crore. * In related news: Serum Institute says its India trials to test the two full-dose versions of the Oxford vaccine—even though AstraZeneca’s data shows that it is far less effective than the one half + one full protocol (explained ). The reason: changing the dose at this stage could delay the trials. Also this: “When it is one common dose it becomes very easy [to distribute]. Whether it is the first dose, or second it is the same vaccine, same dose.” * Internal documents leaked to show that China’s real numbers were higher than those publicly disclosed—especially early in the pandemic. What they reveal: Not deliberate lying but incompetence and political expediency. * has uncovered Covid cases in the US as early as December. Until now, the first officially reported case was on January 19. Why this matters: “The revelations in the paper by researchers from the CDC reinforce the growing understanding that the coronavirus was silently circulating worldwide earlier than known, and could re-ignite debate over the origins of the pandemic.” * A newly out of Canada shows that over 1/3rd of children with Covid are asymptomatic. The researchers also found that cough, runny nose and sore throat were three of the most common symptoms among children—which is of zero help to parents. * Add Formula One superstar to the celebrity tally. He will miss the Grand Prix in Bahrain. THREE BIG BIZ DEALS: Slack: has been bought by Salesforce for a whopping $27.7 billion—ending its efforts to remain an independent tech startup. The reason: rising competition from Microsoft Teams. As one securities analyst notes: > “Slack has had massive success, but ultimately it was running into a brick wall, and that brick wall was Microsoft… In terms of > [attracting new enterprise clients], it was tougher and tougher going up against the 800 pound gorilla in Redmond.” explains why tech startups have a hard time taking on the big guys. BigBasket: is gearing up to sell an 80% stake to the Tata group for around $1.3 billion. Tata group is likely to buy out existing investors such as Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The : to take on Mukesh-bhai: > “Tata’s strategy appears to be to establish a beachhead in India’s e-commerce market amid a surge in online sales because of > covid. For the founders of BigBasket, having Tata in control will give it the necessary firepower to take on Reliance Industries > Ltd, which aims to shake up the e-commerce market with deep discounts just as it did in telecom.” Wendy’s: is coming to India. But it won’t be making a grand entry as a restaurant chain. It is partnering with Rebel foods’ network of cloud kitchens, and will offer a delivery-only menu—which includes local faves like chicken chili, masala fries, and bun tikki. Yes, this is the same deal referenced in the Sunak explainer above—except it only mentions the Indian subsidiary of IMM, . () SPOTIFY’S TOP 2020 LIST IS HERE The global top three most streamed artists are Bad Bunny, Drake, and J Balvin. In India: Arijit Singh, Tanishk Bagchi, and Neha Kakkar (exactly the same as last year). The most streamed songs: ‘Shayad' from ‘Love Aaj Kal’, followed by Trevor Daniel's 'Falling' and 'Ghungroo' from ‘War’—and two of those aren’t even from this year. The number one streamed song around the world: The Weeknd's 'Blinding Lights'. has the India list. has the global list plus handy links to all the songs (just in case you wanna check some of them out). AIRLINES HAVE A CREEPY-CRAWLY PROBLEM Wasps in Australia have found the best place to build a super-speedy nest: the pitot tube—a hollow instrument on the outside of the plane that indicates how fast it is travelling. So when they don’t work, the controls automatically switch to ‘manual’, forcing pilots to take over. And that can sometimes be dangerous: For instance, Birgenair flight 301 crashed off the coast of the Dominican Republic in February 1996, killing 189 passengers and crew. The accident report said that the "probable cause" of the pitot tube blockage was "mud and/or debris from a small insect" that entered while the aircraft was on the ground. This doesn’t mean wasps are airplane-slayers. But aviation experts say it is more important than ever to eliminate the tiny but highly determined insect from runways. () In related news: This was the at Kolkata airport when a swarm of bees took a fancy to a Vistara aircraft. VERY GOOD NEWS FOR HIV-POSITIVE BABIES Every year, around 160,000 children are infected with HIV—many of them at birth or through breast-feeding. Without testing and treatment, half of those babies will die by age 2, and 80% will not reach their fifth birthday. But it is very difficult to administer AIDS drugs to babies because they taste awful or come in pills or need refrigeration. Now, for the very first time, there is an infant formula of a frontline drug, dolutegravir—a strawberry-flavoured tablet that dissolves in water or juice! Point to note: 80,000 toddlers and young children die of AIDS each year. So this is truly cause to celebrate! () CHINA MARKS BIG LUNAR LANDMARK China is on a mission to bring back samples from the surface of the moon. The feat has only been achieved by two other countries, the US and the former Soviet Union—which last brought back 200 gms of soil 44 years ago. Yesterday, Beijing successfully landed its unmanned spacecraft on the moon. The plan: to package about 2kg of "soil" and send it up to an orbiting vehicle—which will then transport the sample back to Earth. has more on the mission. THE MONOLITH SAGA CONTINUES! We have no clue WTF is going on with these things. First, a mysterious monolith in Utah was spotted—and then it disappeared. Next, another mysterious monolith appeared in Romania. Now that one has disappeared as well! According to local reports: > “The monolith found near the archaeological site of an old Dacian Stronghold disappeared on the night of Saint Andrew, when > reportedly, a bright light surrounded the object… Locals thought the light came from a car, but the light pointed towards the > sky.” But we do know what happened to that Utah monolith: > “According to an Instagram post by photographer Ross Bernards, four men came to the site after Bernards had finished snapping > some shots of the internet-famous structure. They had a wheelbarrow with them and started pushing against the structure until it > finally fell.” has all the latest developments. KAAVAN MAKES A FRIEND The world’s loneliest elephant settled into his new home in a sanctuary in Cambodia—and reached out and greeted a fellow elephant with his trunk. One of his rescuers the entire team was deeply moved to witness the moment: “First contact with an elephant in eight years—this is a huge moment for Kaavan… Kaavan will finally have the chance to live a species-appropriate and peaceful life.” The hope is that one day this good boy will make babies too. So yay! Also rescued: A rare and endangered pangolin (a kind of anteater) was spotted by villagers near Agra—and has since been rescued. has the story. See photo : A related feel good story: Forest officials in Uttarakhand have built a 90-foot ‘Eco-bridge’—made of bamboo, jute and grass—to help reptiles and other small animals cross a busy highway. they need extra help: > "This is a dense forest, and elephants, leopards, deer and bulls move in this area. Drivers can see them from some distance and > slow down or stop, but they rarely do so for snakes, lizards, monitors or squirrels." MODI-JI WENT TO VARANASI The Prime Minister was in the city to celebrate Dev Deepawali—and shared a video of him vibing to a sound-and-light show (see it )—which instantly became one more iteration of a now classic meme. Of course, we prefer the version. Speaking of BJP neta memes: Smriti Irani on her Insta: how it started; how it’s going...
This gorgeous image was taken by Pranav Lal, a Delhi-based photographer, who has been blind since birth. He learned to use a special vOICe audio technology that converts vision into sound (more about it and Lal ). has an entire gallery of his work. Or watch clip that follows him through Lodhi Garden.
A LIST OF INTRIGUING THINGS One: This 7-foot large phallic sculpture—popularly known as ‘holzpenis’—is a local attraction in Germany. Someone has chopped the wooden wonder down and made off with it. What’s truly intriguing: no one knows where it came from, no one knows where it’s gone. has the story. Two: Here’s a of insane scenes from silent movies that involve cars—and they’re way more fun than the vroom-vroom of ‘The Fast and The Furious’. Three: The cutting edge version of the fake-meat burger doesn’t need land or freshwater. It’s made of kelp—yup, seaweed. has more. Four: There’s clay art. And then there is . Five: This report on Abdel Naser Rahhal—the man who designed Dubai’s jaw-droppingly elaborate flower garden—is totally worth your time (unless you’ve already seen it in person, ofc).
: What can reduce young men to tears? A baby beagle, of course! : The perfect Christmas gift for all your pretentious friends who have a Mubi account. : Pandemic protocol in hell. : Mama & baby. Enuf said.
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