Sri Lanka gets ready for a new prez
The parliament today will pick between three candidates: acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, former Rajapaksa ally Dullas Alahapperuma; and the leftist Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Wickremesinghe is the favourite to win—with the support of the former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa—but no one knows how the MPs will actually vote in the secret ballot. The Hindu has more details.
Meanwhile, in the UK: Rishi Sunak is still leading in the now three-way race to become the next prime minister. In the latest round of voting within the Tory party, he secured 118 votes—while trade minister Penny Mordaunt came in second with 92 votes. But Foreign Secretary Liz Truss may be the dark horse. The race will soon come down to two candidates—and Sunak’s position is far less secure than it seems. A recent poll shows him losing in a head-to-head contest with both Mordaunt and Truss. (Reuters)
Netflix declares its numbers
Back in April, the company released dismal numbers for its first quarter. It lost 200,000 subscribers when it was projected to add 2.5 million instead. And Netflix projected losing another two million in this one. Its shares immediately crashed by 39%. Yesterday, it released its second quarter numbers—and they are not as dire. The platform lost only 970,000 subscribers—and it expects to add one million in this third quarter. The current global total: 220.67 million. Other plans include a low-cost, ad-supported version in early 2023—and charging users for sharing their accounts with folks outside their homes. ICYMI: We did a Big Story tying Netflix’s global numbers to its poor performance in India—and looked at why it is still struggling in this market. The Verge has more on Netflix’s plan to charge for password sharing. (CNBC)
Heat waves, heat waves everywhere
Temperatures in parts of the UK topped 40°C for the first time in recorded history. Heathrow Airport hit 40.2°C—while a number of homes caught fire across London. Wildfires also spread in France and Spain—where 37,000 people were evacuated from their homes this week. Meanwhile, Alaska is struggling with 264 individual fires—and more than 500 since April. More than three million acres of land has been torched. The Guardian has that story. Daily Beast has more on all the strange ways Brits tried to stay cool—including taping aluminium foil on their doors and windows.
Gautam Adani gets a Gates ‘assist’
He is now the fourth richest person in the world. Adani can thank Bill Gates who lost his #4 spot after he announced plans to donate $20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But Adani has done his part to rise in the ranks—having doubled his net worth in just one year. Meanwhile, Mukesh Ambani is way below at #10. And yes, Elon Musk remains at #1. (Mint)
Amazon targets Facebook groups
Amazon is taking legal action against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups—which are generating fake reviews on its platform around the world. These admins offer money or free goods to members who order a product—and post a favourable review. Why this works: the more positive the ratings, the higher the product is ranked by Amazon’s search engine. This is part of the company’s bigger crackdown on the problem of fake reviews—targeting brokers that facilitate them and the Amazon sellers who buy them. (The Verge)
A verbal ‘slap’ in the face
A Dutch study shows that people perceive verbal insults as “mini slaps”—even when they are not the target of the abuse. The participants listened to fictitious statements made by fictitious people—using words like “evil”, “liar” and “repulsive.” What the researchers found: “The insult immediately captures the brain’s attention—the P2 waveform component of the EEG spiking within a quarter of a second after the start of the insulting words.” (The Telegraph)
Indians are ceding their passports
New government data shows that 392,643 people renounced their citizenship over the last three years—to emigrate mainly to the United States—followed by Australia and Canada. The annual number has been rising in recent years—from 144,017 in 2019 to 163,370 in 2021—but the pandemic put the brakes on the trend. (Mint)
A list of the very best restaurants
CNN put out its annual list of the best places to eat in the world. At #1: Geranium, a meat-free restaurant that serves seasonal Scandinavian cuisine in Copenhagen. Other than offering delicious food, it also has an excellent work-life balance philosophy. Employees only work four days a week—and are currently on a summer break. At #2: Central Lima, followed by two Spanish restaurants—Disfrutar and Diverxo. FYI: Den in Tokyo is the highest rated Asian restaurant at #20. There’s no Indian restaurant on the top 50 list. (CNN)
Three things to see
One: The footprints of a 100 million-year-old dinosaur were found at a restaurant in China. The prints had been buried under layers of dirt and sand—since the venue had previously been used as a chicken farm—protecting them from damage. And the stone was uncovered when the restaurant opened—and was left untouched because the owner liked the “natural look of the uneven stone.” (CNN)
Two: Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote the poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ in 1979 as an indictment of General Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorship. It became the anthem of the anti-CAA protests in India. And now we have this: an astonishing case of (protest) culture appropriation. Bonus read: this 2021 column by Naseerudin Shah on Faiz.
Three: Here’s a bit of happier news. Bobby, a sanitation worker, was sacked because he picked up portraits of Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath—while he was clearing trash in Mathura. He has now got his job back. The reason: he “unconditionally apologised and pleaded that he is the sole bread-winner in his family.” Watch him speak of his ordeal below. (The Quint)
Good stuff to check out!
On the latest episode of the splainer podcast ‘Press Decode,’ the team debates two very different issues—chaos in Sri Lanka and the dubious system of determining “authenticity” in art. Be sure to head over to the IVM website, Spotify or Apple Podcasts to listen to it.