A big T20 sweep for India
Rohit Sharma led the team to an impressive 73-run victory in the last of the three-match series against New Zealand—sealing a 3-0 sweep. One likely reason for the Kiwis’ poor showing: “Playing three matches in six days, 72 hours after the T20 World Cup final, New Zealand always looked jaded and out of sync.” (The Telegraph)
In related news: ICYMI, Australian captain Tim Paine was forced to step down on Friday when sexual chats with a co-worker from 2017 resurfaced last week. He insists they were consensual—while his wife said: “I feel a bit frustrated that it’s all been brought up and aired in the public when we’d put it to bed years ago.” And there is plenty of controversy over the Cricket Australia board’s decision to let him go. (The Guardian)
A sexual harassment lawsuit against Tesla
A Tesla factory worker claims that women employees face almost daily verbal and aggressive physical harassment. Co-workers would describe her as having a “Coke bottle figure,” “onion booty,” “fat a**,” “fat a** t**ies.” Also this:
“In the suit, she alleges a male co-worker picked her up by her waist, ‘pressing against her torso under her breasts’ and placed her next to him. In a separate incident, the lawsuit alleges, a male co-worker stuck his leg between her thighs as she was clocking back in from lunch.”
This comes on the heels of a $137 million jury verdict in favor of a former contract worker who alleged pervasive racism at Tesla’s Fremont factory. (The Washington Post)
Also in trouble: Amazon India’s executive directors who have been charged by the Madhya Pradesh police in a drug smuggling case. This is in connection to the arrest of two men who used the platform to sell marjuana—disguising it as ‘kaddhi patta’—out of Visakhapatnam. It is not clear why Amazon has been named as a co-accused as yet. (Mint)
Pressure on Gurgaon gurdwaras
Last week, five gurudwaras decided to open their doors to Muslims—after Hindutva groups hounded them to stop holding Friday namaz in designated public spaces (explained here). But that didn’t happen due to a couple of reasons. One, the same Hindutva groups put pressure on the gurudwaras—urging Sikhs “to remove members of the gurudwara committee who had made the offer to Muslims in the first place.” Two, since it was Gurpurab, there were huge crowds and Muslims chose to stay away to avoid “conflict.” But now some Sikh groups are taking a militant stance as well, with one leader saying:
“Gurdwara is meant only for Gurbani and nobody will be allowed to use its premises for any other purpose. If Muslims have any problem with open prayers, they must take help from the district administration.”
But prayers were held at an empty shop offered by a local Hindu businessman, Akshay Yadav. Worth watching: This video report where he explains his decision at length.
Speaking of religious controversies: Last week, we missed flagging this lawsuit challenging the use of ‘halal-certified’ jaggery in prasadam given at the Sabarimala temple. It claims that Islamic practice requires saliva as preparation of food, and this:
“[I]t is highly disheartening to see that food materials prepared following the rituals and religious practices of another religion with its certification is accepted as food material for nivedyam/ prasada in a Hindu temple having its own rituals and customs.”
Does social media fund misinformation?
Everyone knows that platforms like Facebook and YouTube do very little to crack down on fake news. But an MIT Technology Review investigation reveals that Facebook and Google are paying millions of ad dollars to bankroll publishers of clickbait and fake news. Monetisation programs literally incentivise clickbait operations to use cheap automated tools that help them create and distribute articles at mass scale—and spread disinformation. MIT Technology Review explains how this works.
The mystery of Peng Shuai
For two weeks, prominent tennis players have been raising alarm over the disappearance of the Chinese tennis player—who dropped out of sight after accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault on her social media account. On Saturday, the US and the UN jumped into the fray—with the UN demanding “proof of her whereabouts and wellbeing.” The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) also threatened to pull its tournaments out of China.
Suddenly, there have been a flurry of Shuai appearances—in photos on her WeChat, videos of her having dinner with her coach, and at a tennis event. And the president of the International Olympic Committee finally spoke to a smiling Shuai for 30 minutes on a video call—where she said:
“[S]he is safe and well, living at her home in Beijing, but would like to have her privacy respected at this time...She prefers to spend her time with friends and family right now...Nevertheless, she will continue to be involved in tennis.”
But the WTA remains unimpressed: “While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference.” See one of the clips below. BBC News and The Guardian have more details.
Outrage at Japan’s inhumane Covid policy
There is growing anger at the government’s “jitaku ryoyo” policy—that pushes patients to recuperate at home, where they are abandoned to die alone. One reason for public rage is that Japan has the world’s largest per capita number of hospital beds—and yet has not set up large field hospitals to deal with Covid patients. And hospital systems were quickly declared “stretched thin” even though it has had far fewer Covid-19 cases than the rest of the world. At least 951 people have died at home since March 2020, and 250 of them in August alone. (Associated Press)
In covid-related news: Massive protests are spreading across Europe in response to new Covid safety measures—often turning into riots in places like the Netherlands. (BBC News)
Bad news about Brazil’s forests
The Amazon rainforest is experiencing the highest rate of deforestation in 15 years—spiking 22% between August 2020 and July 2021. The region lost over 5,100 square miles of rainforest in this period. The main culprit: President Jair Bolsonaro who has gutted the country’s environmental laws. (NPR)
A very expensive constitution
A rare first printing of the US Constitution—one of only 13 remaining copies—sold for a whopping $43.2 million. What made this auction notable: The winning bid by an investment banker beat out a group of 17,000 crypto investors who raised $40 million to buy the document: “While this wasn't the outcome we hoped for, we still made history tonight with ConstitutionDAO. This is the largest crowdfund for a physical object that we are aware of—crypto or fiat.” CNN has more details.
Speaking of virtual things: Barbados made a different kind of history by becoming the first nation to set up an embassy in the metaverse—as in the most popular crypto-powered virtual worlds. The consulate will offer services such as ‘e-visas’ and a 'teleporter' to transport users’ avatars between various worlds. This may also be the first baby step toward ‘virtual’ travel. (Coindesk)
Also winning the news: Indore, which was ranked the cleanest city in India for the fifth year in a row. The cleanest state: Chhattisgarh. (The Hindu)
Four things to see
One: Everyone on social media is super excited about this dosa maker recently launched by iD Fresh Food.
Two: Istanbul’s most beloved streetie made global headlines for wandering around the city’s ferries, trams and subways. But all that popularity has made poor Boji a target—and some people are trying to “frame” him by planting poop to make him look bad. No, we’re not making this up. (Says)
Three: Elon Musk made news for a very sweet, heart-warming reason for a change. His 18-month-old son, X AE A-Xii, made a surprise appearance during his dad’s online presentation on SpaceX’s spacecraft Starship. Below is our favourite bit, but you can watch a longer clip here. (People)
Four: Speaking of fathers and sons, here’s an equally sweet clip of a delighted Dharmendra with his son Sunny on holiday in Manali.