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Tokyo Olympics: A quick update

  • India had a very good day yesterday: Power couple archers Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari performed spectacularly in their individual events. Das hit the bull’s eye and sealed his place in the pre-quarter finals, while Kumari beat Russia’s former world champ to make her way to the quarterfinals. 
  • Also entering the quarterfinals: Badminton player PV Sindhu, boxer Satish Kumar and the men’s hockey team. 
  • Not doing as well: Six-time boxing world champion Mary Kom who crashed out of the Olympics despite putting up a fierce fight against Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia.   
  • American swimmer Caeleb Dressel won the Olympic 100m freestyle and set a record time of 47.02 seconds. This is his second gold at the Tokyo—and he still has four more events to go. Watch him burst into tears as he sees his family watching his victory back home.
  • On the Covid front—the organisers announced 24 new cases which included three athletes. This includes two-time world champion, US pole vaulter Sam Kendricks who had to withdraw from the games. And thanks to a brief interaction between him and three Australian athletes, the entire 54-person Aussie contingent is in isolation. 
  • The situation inside the village parallels the steep rise outside. Wednesday marked the first time Tokyo had exceeded 3,000 daily new cases since the start of the pandemic. 
  • The Ugandan weightlifter who vanished from the athletes’ village last week has been found. Julius Ssekitoleko was tracked down and sent back to Uganda—where he has been taken into police custody. The reason for his detention: he never qualified for the Olympics and wasn’t supposed to be in Japan—which raises questions of possible fraud.   
  • Daniil Medvedev’s tennis match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini was full of drama. First, Medvedev struggled in the intense heat and complained to the referees. Now it comes out that his opponent repeatedly called himself (not Medvedev) ‘frocio’—which is a homophobic slur in Italian. Fognini later apologised and blamed it on the heat. 
  • Speaking of inclusivity, Tokyo has the most number of LGBTQ+ participants in Olympics history—with over 160+ queer athletes. CNN has more on why this matters. 
  • The hottest tattoo at the Olympics: The five rings, of course.
  • Award for most creative way to keep your gold medal safe goes to British diving star Tom Daley who knit a cute little pouch for it, lol:

 

In sorta sports-related news: Scotland is getting ready to host a chi-chi sporting event: the luxury ultramarathon. Forget slogging on muddy trails, sleeping rough or running through several nights. Get ready for butlers, hydrotherapy pools, speed boats and Michelin-star chefs. The price: £15,499 per person for a four-day camping race covering 120 miles. The organisers are calling it "the most exclusive, luxury ultra-run experience on the planet.” Consider us (not) sold. (BBC News)

 

The great pandemic: A quick update

One: Telling people most at risk to “shield in place” to protect themselves from the virus seemed like a good idea during the first wave. But a new Scottish study finds that that high-risk cohort is five times more likely to die of infection than those considered low risk. So we’re really talking about older people and those with underlying health conditions. That said, researchers can’t say it wouldn’t have been far worse if there was no attempt to shield these people. (The Guardian)

 

Two: Netflix is the first major studio to insist that everyone involved in its productions has to be vaccinated. (Deadline)

 

Three: French prez Emmanuel Macron is suing the person who put up a billboard depicting him as Adolf Hitler—signature toothbrush moustache included. The reason: Macron has announced a variety of fines on those who refuse to get a vaccination. See the billboard below:

 

Four: Speaking of vaccines, the University of Oxford team that gave us the Covishield vaccine is working on a vaccine for the plague—which sounds vaguely medieval and alarming. Gizmodo has more details.

 

Two government policy moves

One: The union government announced new reservation quotas for medical and dental colleges—27% for Other Backward Classes and 10% for Economically Weaker Sections. The move will likely benefit 5,500 students each year. Indian Express looks at the political calculation behind the latest move.

 

Two: The Delhi government has set aside Rs 840 million (84 crore) to install the Indian flag in 500 locations across the city as part of its ‘Deshbhakti budget’. Scroll reports on the backlash.

 

The US ‘gives it back’ to Iraq

The US government is doing the right thing and returning 17,000 ancient Mesopotamian archaeological treasures that date back 4,000 years to Iraq. These were looted during the Iraq war. Among them is a 3,500 year old clay tablet with a sequence from the epic of Gilgamesh called the “Gilgamesh Dream Tablet”—which was bought by a chain of art & craft stores called Hobby Lobby. It was recently seized by the Justice Department—which says Hobby Lobby bought the tablet from a prominent auction house in 2014 for $1.67m. Guess no one is going after that “prominent” auction house. Al Jazeera has the story. FYI, this is what the tablet looks like:

 

Speaking of the Middle East: Germany is getting ready to prosecute a Syrian doctor for “crimes of humanity” committed back in his homeland. Allegations include hanging people from the ceiling and beating them; pouring flammable liquids on the hands of a person and setting it on fire; kicking a patient’s open wound and pouring disinfectant into it before setting it on fire; administering a fatal toxic substance to a person who fought back. Why this matters

 

“We know now that the German government is very keen to pursue those who it believes are responsible for crimes against humanity committed in the Syrian civil war because they believe they can assert the principle of universal jurisdiction relating to war crimes.” 

 

Speaking of unspeakable crimes: CCTV footage out of Jharkhand shows an auto rickshaw deliberately running over a district judge—who had ruled against local gangsters. His death has sparked great outrage, and has now been raised in the Supreme Court which has promised to “take care.” The police in Dhanbad have set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT), and have arrested two people so far. See the clip below:

 

Speaking of the Supreme Court: Walmart wants it to stop the Competition Commission of India (CCI)—which is the big antitrust body—from seeking “sensitive business information.” CCI is investigating whether Amazon and Flipkart have engaged in anticompetitive practices—and has sent 32 questions which require a list of their top sellers, online discounts and agreements with smartphone makers etc. (Reuters)

 

Super-polluters alert! 

A new study shows that just 5% of the world’s power plants are responsible for the energy sector-related emissions. A group of researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder analyzed data from 29,000 fossil fuel power plants in 221 countries and located the top emitters in the world—who are located in Europe, East Asia, and India. Of course, India. Vice has more details, but here’s why it matters:

 

“They are all coal-powered, they are primarily located in the global north and they all operate inefficiently for the amount of energy they generate. Focusing policy responses on mitigating the handful of the worst offenders would go a long way to curbing the climate crisis.”

 

Apocalypse now? Pick NZ!

Imagine the world started to collapse due to a severe financial crisis, the impacts of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these. Where would you want to live? According to a new study: New Zealand, followed by Iceland, the UK, Tasmania and Ireland. The factors that matter:

 

“To assess which nations would be most resilient to such a collapse, countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability. Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities came out on top.”

 

The Guardian has more on which passports you will need to acquire… just in case!

 

A big moment for A-list biz schools!

One of the world’s most exclusive business schools in the world is poised to hit a gender landmark: The majority of Wharton’s incoming batch of MBA candidates will be women. Women will constitute 52% of the University of Pennsylvania’s biz school’s freshers this fall. It is the first elite institution to do so. Why this matters: Even as of 2020, female enrollment in M.B.A. programs in the US stood at 39%. FYI: “Harvard Business School reported that its incoming class a year ago was 44% women, and 47% of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business incoming M.B.A. class a year ago were women.” (Wall Street Journal)

 

The worst tourist attraction?

One of the frontrunners for that award is London’s Marble Arch Mound, which opened this week to universal outrage. It was so bad that the site has already been shut down. The problem

 

“The $2.8 million development, which sits on the edge of Oxford Street, had promised sweeping views over London from its panoramic platform, 82 feet and 130 steps up… But instead, Londoners keen to experience the new tourist attraction—designed by Dutch architects MVRDV—have said that it's nothing but an unfinished pile of rubble.”

 

The architects defended their design, saying Mother Nature needs a little more time to make things look better:

 

“It is a vulnerable installation, no doubt, but we just need to give nature a bit of time. The mound is designed with not only summer, but also fall and winter in mind; it is meant to have an overall green appearance during the time the installation is in place.”


Then again, it looks like this 🤷‍:

 

 

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