Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Anannya Parekh
Special parliament session: The agenda revealed
The context: As you may know, the government suddenly called for a special session that will last from September 18 to 22. But it didn’t offer any reason—other than to say that it will be held in the swanky new Parliament building. Special sessions are usually reserved for exceptional circumstances. Cue heated speculation!
What happened now: At least some of the agenda has been made public. MPs will spend the first day discussing the Parliament’s 75-year journey. Four bills have been scheduled as well. They notably include a proposed law that changes the way we appoint Election Commissioners—the folks who have the responsibility of ensuring free and fair elections. The selection committee will now consist of the PM, one of his cabinet ministers and the leader of the Opposition. And as always, the majority wins! Also on the calendar: a bill regulating the press—which the Editor’s Guild has called “draconian.” In other words, election season is finally here! (The Hindu)
Watching porn is not a crime
Back in 2016, the Kerala police charged a man with obscenity for watching porn clips on his phone on the side of the road. The High Court has now ruled that watching porn—be it as vids or photos—in private is not a crime. Not as long as he did not share the content with others: “The court firmly asserted that it cannot be deemed an offence since it falls within the realm of personal choice and deeming it otherwise would violate an individual's privacy.” (Economic Times)
Yet another US impeachment drama
The G20 summit may have been a big winner for PM Modi—but it appears to have done absolutely nada for President Biden’s political fortunes. The moment he landed back in Washington. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced an official impeachment inquiry. The allegations centre on Biden’s son Hunter:
Mr. McCarthy accused Mr. Biden of lying about his knowledge of his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, and he raised questions about the millions that Hunter and other family members made from overseas firms. Mr. McCarthy also accused the Biden administration of giving the president’s son “special treatment” in a criminal tax investigation against him. “House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct,” Mr. McCarthy said. “Taken together, these allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption.”
There is no hard evidence of wrongdoing—according to the New York Times (Fox News may disagree). But McCarthy has to throw red meat and the ultra right Republicans who are eager to get rid of him for being too soft.
What’s notable: The inquiry was announced without any formal vote in the House—because it likely would not have passed. And the US government is once again on the brink of a shutdown because the Republicans will not approve critical spending bills. We explained why this happened last time in this Big Story. Also, presidential elections are slated for next year. (New York Times)
Indian football’s Asian Games mess
The country will field a second string team at the upcoming games to be held in China at the end of this month. The reason: a number of ISL clubs are refusing to release their players. The initial league games clash with the Asian Games—which kicks off on September 19. The clubs claim—these games fall outside the “international window” mandated for all clubs—which are required to make their players available to national teams during this period. Only nine players of the A-team are part of the 22-person squad. It is unlikely that coach Igor Stimac will travel to Hangzhou to helm such a weak team.
And yet the football federation still thanked the ISL clubs and the FSDL "for coordinating with it for the release of players.” One unstated reason why this kind of defiance is going unpunished: FSDL stands for Football Sports Development Limited—the Reliance subsidiary that operates the ISL. (The Hindu)
France bans iPhone 12
Regulators have ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone 12—because it emits electromagnetic radiation at levels that are above European Union standards. Apparently, the phone failed to pass the latest tests. But, but, but: “France’s digital minister said the iPhone 12’s radiation levels are still much lower than levels that scientific studies consider could harm users, and the agency itself acknowledges that its tests don’t reflect typical phone use.” So we wouldn’t worry too much:) (Associated Press)
Nope, that won’t unblock your nose
A US Food and Drug Administration panel has concluded that Phenylephrine does absolutely nothing as a nasal decongestant. Phenylephrine is the main ingredient used in products like Benadryl Allergy Plus Congestion, Sudafed PE and Vicks Sinex. It is also sold as a generic OTC drug by CIPLA and others in India. While the ingredient does no harm, committee members said “We really should not have products on the market that are not effective.” In other words, they’re a waste of money—and time if you’re suffering from a cold. (CNN)
The winner of the VMA is…
Shakira and Taylor Swift were the big winners at the MTV Video Music Awards. The Colombian hip-shaker was honoured with a lifetime achievement award—which no doubt makes her fans feel old. Swift bagged nine trophies—for song of the year, best pop, best direction, album of the year blah blah blah. BBC News has a list of all the winners. Check out Shakira’s excellent medley performance below:
Three things to see
The Congress is all cranky about the lotus print—which is a bit of a problem since it will soon be election time. But far more importantly, they’re seriously ugly. Mint has the others—which look far more bearable.
Three: Back in 1989, Pepsi signed up Madonna to do a commercial marking the release of her latest single ‘Like a Prayer’. It was all shiny, sweet and vanilla. But the day after the ad debuted at the Grammys, she released the actual music vid—which involves her seducing a sexy, Black Jesus-like figure and burning crosses. Haw! Pepsi was mortified, the Vatican was furious and the company cancelled the commercial.
But here’s the funny bit: Pepsi had the gall to resurrect that same commercial at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards—with the slogan: ‘Celebrating 40 Years of Disrupting the Status Quo’. Now, it takes real chutzpah to claim credit for the courage you never had lol! (Yahoo News)
FYI: If you prefer the hot Jesus—as we do—that version is here.