Monday 3 May 2021

Mama(ta) Mia!

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Sanity Break #1

The is soooo bad, it’s almost good. FYI: the desi Backstreet Boys are Venkatesh Prasad, Javagal Srinath, Maninder Singh and Saba Karim.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A LONGISH UPDATE First the numbers: We reported and 3,455 deaths yesterday. Maharashtra is at #1 with 56,647 cases, followed by Karnataka (37,773) and Kerala (31,959).   Good big picture reads: Rahul Gandhi lays out an articulate case against the government in this . There’s been a lot of anxiety about false negatives—with many who display clear symptoms failing to test positive. looks at possible reasons why. And Jacob Koshy in raises important questions about the nation’s leading health authority, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).    Meanwhile, at the Supreme Court: The Supreme Court stepped in to issue a flurry of directives. It said the to Delhi must be fixed on or before midnight of May 3—and the government must create a buffer stock to prevent hospitals from running out. The Court also asked the government to consider imposing —while making preemptive provisions to protect migrant workers. And it suggested that the current vaccine procurement policy (explained ) may violate basic rights:   > “Prima facie, the rational method of proceeding in a manner consistent with the right to life (which includes the right to > health) under Article 21 would be for the Central Government to procure all vaccines and to negotiate the price with vaccine > manufacturers. Once quantities are allocated by it to each State Government, the latter would lift the allocated quantities and > carry out the distribution.”   Meanwhile, at the High Court: On Saturday, the Delhi High Court the union government to ensure that Delhi receives its allocated share of 490 metric tonnes of oxygen, “Much water has gone above the head. Now we mean business. Enough is enough." And it also said that the failure to do so would result in contempt of court proceedings. The Centre went back to court to challenge that order—blaming the Delhi government instead for not distributing and utilising the allocated oxygen in “a judicious manner.” It also that the court’s orders will cause “serious harm” to Covid management efforts and “impair the entire nation.”   Speaking of lockdowns: The leading US Covid expert Dr Anthony Fauci strongly urged India to consider an immediate shutdown for a few weeks to get the second wave under control (read the full interview ). Also pushing for a lockdown: members of the government’s Covid taskforce— the “only acceptable scientific tool to bring the surge under control.” Taking heed of the advice: Delhi which has extended its lockdown, Haryana which has announced a week-long lockdown, and which will enter a two-week shutdown. Others like Punjab have announced greater restrictions.   About those deaths: Bangalore has reported in two weeks, and its mortuaries and crematoriums are also running out of space. Also see: These taken at a Delhi crematorium by photojournalist Tashi Tobgyal.   Oxygen prices: The Finance Ministry has the GST tax on Oxygen concentrators—ordered or sent from overseas as a gift—to 12%. They are also exempt from custom duties. No answer as to why they are being taxed at all. Related read: on Indians who are dangerously trying to make oxygen at home.    Covid treatments: The Health Ministry’s guidelines on appropriate treatment is inaccurate and not based on medical evidence. Example: it still recommends hydroxychloroquine—which has widely been proved to be ineffective. dissects the guidance.   Covidiot alert: The local community decided to throw all caution to the wind a traditional fishing festival near Madurai. No word on what the authorities were doing. has the story.   Good samaritan alert: Lactating moms to help feed a newborn baby whose mother tested positive. has an uplifting story on wealthy NRIs stepping up to send assistance and aid—including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Silicon Valley investor and billionaire Vinod Khosla. Also watch: Pakistani musicians Zeeshan Ali, Nauman Ali and others sing a in solidarity with India:    Last not least: This photo of a 75-year-old woman who recovered from Covid her doctor in Kolkata:    A BIZARRE POLITICAL SPAT OVER OXYGEN The government got into an inexplicable fight with the youth wing of the Congress party over oxygen cylinders delivered to two embassies in Delhi. Here’s how it unfolded: * On Friday, the Philippines embassy requested help in sourcing oxygen cylinders from the covid relief operations team of the Youth Congress—led by BV Srinivas. * The cylinders were delivered Saturday evening—and Srinivas shared a of the same. * Hours later, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh used it to take a jab at the BJP, : “[A]s an Indian citizen I’m stunned that the youth wing of the opposition party is attending to SOS calls from foreign embassies. Is the MEA sleeping @DrSJaishankar ?” * The External Affairs Minister took great offence and : “MEA checked with the Philippines Embassy. This was an unsolicited supply as they had no Covid cases. Clearly for cheap publicity by you know who. Giving away cylinders like this when there are people in desperate need of oxygen is simply appalling.” * Too bad the Youth Congress folks —i.e. screenshots of the request from the Philippines embassy.  * If that wasn’t silly enough, the New Zealand High Commission landed itself in hot water on Sunday by Srinivas and his team—asking for urgent help sourcing a cylinder.  * Then it suddenly deleted the tweet and : “We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.” * To make things more embarrassing, Srinivas showed up at the gates of the high commission asap—and delivered the cylinder (clip ).  * To cap it all, the Ministry of External Affairs has now chastised diplomatic missions in Delhi, “not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen.” * We’re going to call this a self-goal.    A GREAT TRAGEDY IN ISRAEL A small passageway at a pilgrimage site in Mount Meron was the scene of a horrific stampede—resulting in the death of at least 45 people, including children. The youngest victim was four years old. Here’s what happened: * The festival had permission for 10,000 pilgrims, but the actual number was 100,000.  * The site includes several large gathering grounds and stages, connected by a network of narrow paths. * Some said the incident was triggered by the police closing one of the passageways, which was only 3 metres (10 feet) wide.  * This resulted in a huge crush of people trapped inside a small space. * According to one witness: "A pyramid of one on top of another was formed… People were piling up one on top of the other. I was in the second row. The people in the first row—I saw people die in front of my eyes." * And then the tragedy snowballed because there was simply not enough space to evacuate people. * has a searing account from the ground. has more context and background.   NOBODY BETTER TALK ABOUT VIRAT Royal Challengers player Dan Christian offered some interesting revelations about his captain Kohli in a podcast. One was that Kohli tried to trick pacer Kyle Jamieson into revealing his bowling secrets—and failed. But more damning :    > “You don’t see Virat a lot off the field, you see a little bit. He will, maybe, come to half of the things but he has his family > here too from the start so we might see more of him now. So AB (de Villiers) is the happiest, most humble... never got a bad > word to say about anybody, will be there from start to finish. Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) is there from start to finish as well.”   Now, the podcast interview has been pulled after RCB “issued a warning for breach of contract.” RCB, however, insists it was “a gentle reminder regarding the team’s media protocol.” And what was that all-important protocol? “The primary media commitments of all our players are to Indian publications, and then if time permits, overseas publications are slotted in after those.” Yup, that must be it. ()   In other sports-related news: Manchester United fans stormed the Old Trafford stadium and gheraoed the team’s hotel. While the European Super League has been cancelled, the anger against the Glazer family which owns Man U remains strong. FYI: the match against Liverpool had to be cancelled. has the details. See the below:   SAY HELLO TO MS MARVEL Leaked set photos from ‘Ms Marvel’ of the first South Asian superhero—Kamala Khan who is played by Iman Vellani. FYI: you can also watch the released earlier—which doesn’t have her in costume.    THE UNSUITABLE BOYS  A new study found that people associate men who wear clothes with large designer logos with a ‘cad’—someone who “flirts often”, “knowingly flirts with someone else’s partner” and “would date more than one person at a time.” No news on how folks rate women who flaunt giant LV symbols all over their bags. ()   OTOH, a very good bet: for a life partner is the elderly gentleman who took a makeup and hair course. the head of the cosmetology school: “He started to explain that his wife was struggling with her vision right now, and was struggling to curl her own hair and was burning herself. He really wanted to help her.” Awww! Also, here is a of him in ‘class’ (yeah, this isn’t really news but…):  

Mama(ta) Mia!

Sanity Break #2

One of the great joys of life is stumbling upon something entirely unexpected. Wondrous stuff we never knew: Soviet-era bus stops were totally wild works of public art. The above is our favourite. The others are .

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF GOOD READS * Eilidh Akilade in has a lovely piece on smell and our nostalgia for all the things we miss—like the “smell of a night out.”  * has a juicy and lively read on the most successful “celebrity sex tape broker” in Hollywood. * has a useful piece on why sitting on the floor is good for your health.  * Emily Flake in pays tribute to a comic about adolescent girls called ‘Trots and Bonnie’—which we’ve never read but it sounds wonderfully raunchy and real. * Two good reads on Satyajit Ray to mark his 100th birthday: Rituparna Roy in on how he used food to describe the world; Armit Gangar in on the uncanny role of viruses and disease in his films. * Life changes art—especially in the wake of calamity. How will the pandemic change our movies? interviewed writers, producers and directors in search of answers.  * has a good time-pass read on the world’s greatest jail-break artist—who was inspired by the movies.  * Ladies with daughters, has excellent advice on why you should hold on to your prettiest clothes.   * Netflix was once only too happy to bombard us with binge-worthy series that would keep us up late at night. reports on its latest pivot: meditation content to help us get a good night’s sleep. * has a trending piece on the rise of senior citizens in the youth-obsessed world of modelling.

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

Whitney Houston has never sounded this good… ❤️   He’s got the look! Lol!   Dino dosa! ((h/t subscriber Sowmya Swaminathan)  

Feel good place