Jacinda Ardern’s inclusive cabinet
After a landslide victory, the New Zealand PM announced several groundbreaking appointees to her government. Nanaia Mahuta is now the first Maori woman to become Foreign Minister. Also making history: India-born Priyanca Radhakrishnan who will hold not one but three portfolios. Her father R Radhakrishnan is an IIT grad and currently settled in Chennai. And he had typical Indian dad advice for his newly appointed daughter:
“Today, I spoke to her after hearing about her new role. She is thrilled. She is the first Indian to become a Minister in the New Zealand Government. But I have advised her to not forget the family even while pursuing a career in politics.”
Baba ka dhaba debacle
It was a rare feel-good story in the midst of a pandemic. Gaurav Wasan—a food journalist with a YouTube channel—posted a video that featured an elderly couple struggling to run a dhaba in Delhi. The plight of 80-year old Kanta Prasad, and his wife Badami Devi went viral—and the donations and crowds poured in thanks to celebs like Sonam Kapoor.
But all this goodwill has now ended in a police complaint filed by Prasad against Wasan. The accusation: Wasan solicited donations to his bank account, and kept most of the money—transfering only Rs 2.3 lakhs to Prasad, who thinks he actually received 20-25 lakhs. Wasan has since posted details of his bank transactions, and the police has launched an investigation. The Print has the most details.
The global pandemic: a quick update
- Prince William tested positive back in April—at the exact same time as his father Charles. But he kept it secret because "there were important things going on and I didn't want to worry anyone".
- Think the PM Cares fund is a problem? The Trump White House granted $65 million to a Republican donor to test plasma therapy technology—at a company located in his luxury condo.
- The first fully see-through ClearMask is a lifesaver for people with hearing difficulties: “Even people who have hearing aids, cochlear implants or full hearing ability may struggle in understanding someone who has their mouth covered… They hear a sound but can’t decipher it. They're left filling in the blank if they can’t see the person’s mouth.”
- Indian Community Welfare Fund was set up to aid Indian citizens in an emergency situation abroad. The embassy in Saudi Arabia, for example, has Rs 23.58 crores lying in its fund. And yet none of the embassies touched one paisa to help desperate citizens stranded by the pandemic. The Lede has more on this important and outrageous story.
- Two new papers suggest that unsanitary living conditions and poor access to clean drinking water may explain our low fatality rates. The reason: Indians have a more robust immune system due to a lifetime exposure to multiple viruses. BBC News has more.
- An artificial intelligence model can detect asymptomatic cases via coughs recorded on the phone. The reason: While such cases do not exhibit visible symptoms, there are minute differences in how they cough.
- Burger King is asking everyone to eat at all fast food restaurants—including arch rival McDonald’s: "We never thought we'd be asking you to do this, but restaurants employing thousands of staff really need your support at the moment… Getting a Whopper is always best, but ordering a Big Mac is also not such a bad thing."
- Nikkei Asia has an important read on how the pandemic has driven the Benarasi sari to the brink of extinction.
Johnny Depp loses his libel case
The actor sued the tabloid Sun for describing him as a “wife beater.” And what followed was a very public and very lurid trial—as he and his ex-wife Amber Heard offered competing accounts of toxic marriage. The result: The judge declared that Depp is indeed a wife-beater: “I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard.” He said that Heard had proved 12 out of the 14 assaults alleged by her. The fallout for Depp according to a legal expert:
“Although not a criminal determination of guilt, it is difficult to see how Depp will ever be able to shake off the ‘wife beater’ label now, personally and professionally. The judge expressly endorsed the notion that Depp had a ‘monster side’ and held that he did assault Heard and put her ‘in fear of her life’.”
A popular painkiller is killing people
Acetaminophen (or paracetamol) is the most common drug used for headaches and other body pain. And it is indeed safe in recommended doses. But newly published research shows that precisely because it is seen as harmless, people tend to take higher and higher doses—which can result in poisoning that damages the liver, and even cause death. As the leading researcher explains:
“One problem with paracetamol is that it is not effective for all patients or against all forms of pain… If the drug doesn’t help to ease someone’s symptoms, they may be tempted to increase the dosage without consulting a medical professional. That’s the real problem.”
So please treat your pain meds with the respect and caution they deserve.
A happy chameleon story
Researchers have rediscovered the elusive Voeltzkow's chameleon in Madagascar—after 100 years! It was last spotted in 1913 before World War I. While the males are a boring green, the females are serious divas—sporting exotic patterns flecked with bright colours, including blue, red, purple and orange. And they change their ‘outfit’ depending on their mood. You can see these beauties below:
In other happy news: A train in the Netherlands crashed through a barrier—and would have fallen 10 metres into the water. Except it was saved by a whale sculpture, and left perching precariously on its tail. See the movie-worthy scene below