Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Kevin Spacey acquitted of sexual assault
In May 2022, the UK prosecution charged the actor of sexual assaults against three men and “one charge of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.” Most of them date back to 2001 and 2013—when he was the artistic director at The Old Vic, a London theatre company.
The jury, however, found him not guilty after two days of emotional testimony by Spacey:
“My world exploded,” Spacey testified. “There was a rush to judgment and before the first question was asked or answered, I lost my job, I lost my reputation, I lost everything in a matter of days.”
Why this matters: Spacey recently told a German magazine that he plans to return to acting after the trial. “I know that there are people right now who are ready to hire me the moment I am cleared of these charges.” This is the last pending #MeToo case against him. Associated Press has colourful details on Spacey’s performance in court. Yahoo News has more on the #MeToo allegations.
A terrible case of female bullying
Three students at an Udupi college recorded a classmate while using the restroom. They claimed it was a prank gone wrong—and said they deleted the vid in front of the victim. The three women were suspended—and the college informed the police. However, a Hindu right student organisation now insists that this is a “jihadi conspiracy”—since the perpetrators are Muslim. The police hasn’t found any such evidence:
We looked through the phone and didn't find any such video. We thoroughly investigated the matter and there is no evidence that the video was shared. It was a one-off incident in the college and has no communal angle to it.
Alarming forecast of a ‘Day After Tomorrow’ future
The context: Back in 2004, the blockbuster Hollywood flick ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ predicted the end of the world—caused by the collapse of something called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC—pronounced ‘AY-mock’). ) It is part of a large system of ocean currents including the Gulf Stream—which transports warm water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic. For years, its circulation has been weakening—which could have been a natural phenomenon. But in 2021, scientists concluded that it was a sign of “destabilisation”—and started to worry about its “collapse.”
What happened now: A new study confirms that AMOC will indeed collapse somewhere between 2025 and 2095 if we don’t limit global warming. That’s a very large window that many may not find useful—but it will have huge repercussions for children who will face this catastrophe in their lifetime.
Why this matters: AMOC plays a crucial role in regulating global weather patterns: “Its collapse would have enormous implications, including much more extreme winters and sea level rises affecting parts of Europe and the US.” Changes in AMOC would also significantly weaken monsoons in India. While not everyone is sold on the study’s new methodology, they agree on the need for urgent action:
There is still large uncertainty where the tipping point of the AMOC is, but the new study adds to the evidence that it is much closer than we thought just a few years ago. The scientific evidence now is that we can’t even rule out crossing a tipping point already in the next decade or two.
Sinéad O’Connor, has died
She was only 56. The family did not share a cause of death. Her 17-year-old son, Shane O’Connor, died of an apparent suicide last year. The Irish singer was the achingly beautiful voice of a generation’s heartache. Truly nothing compares to ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. She too was incomparably brave—taking on sex abuse in the Catholic Church long before it was acceptable. We are gutted. Esquire offers a lovely tribute.
New date for India vs Pakistan match?
The highly anticipated World Cup match was slated to be played on October 15 in Ahmedabad. Authorities are now likely to move the contest up by a day: "Since October 15 coincides with the opening day of Navratri celebrations, the security agencies have advised that the big game, which will also need heavy deployment of security officials, should be rescheduled." This is a disaster for fans who are struggling with skyrocketing hotel and plane fares. It’s so bad that some are booking hospital beds. And it will give Pakistan only two days to prepare for the big game. (The Hindu)
Japan’s diving population numbers
In 2022, the country’s population decreased at the fastest rate ever recorded—dropping by 800,000 people. This is the 14th consecutive year of decline. Unlike many Western countries, Japan did not traditionally have a significant immigrant population—which means declining birth rates are even more alarming. But that is changing—and quickly. The number of foreigners hit a record 2.99 million—a jump of 10% since a 2021 estimate.
Interesting demographic changes to note:
Japan’s underworld has not escaped unscathed either: a majority of yakuza are over 50 and there are now more gangsters in their 70s than in their 20s. Meanwhile, senior porn is a growing niche, populated by a handful of silver stars in their 60s, 70s and even 80s.
In happier Japanese news: The country is getting ready to unleash a little beagle on the fire ants that have invaded its borders. Yes, there are indeed ‘sniffer’ dogs that detect the nasty, aggressive species of ants—and are used in Taiwan and Australia. They just sit down to indicate success. Tokyo plans to test its new weapon in October. (Japan Times)
Saudi Arabia really hearts sports
According to a Guardian investigation, Saudi Arabia has spent at least $6.3 billion (£4.9 billion) in sports deals since 2021. That’s more than 4X the amount spent over a six-year period—between 2014 and early 2021. This includes LIV golf—the competitor to the PGA—football clubs like Newcastle United and Saudi teams that have spent lavishly to attract the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. Also in the mix: investments in F1 racing, boxing etc. Critics call it ‘sportswashing’—using sports to divert attention away from Saudi Arabia’s dreadful human rights record. OTOH, there’s no rule that prevents anyone with insane amounts of money from dominating global professional sports—which is already all about the moolah. (The Guardian)
Two things to see
One: Rejoice ‘Made in Heaven’ fans! The long delayed Season 2 is finally here—and is expected to drop on August 10 on Amazon Prime. And here's a fancy (and weirdly desi Succession-like) poster to prove it. Indian Express has more details.
Two: This rather unimpressive rock may be the first ‘boomerang meteorite’ discovered. A new study claims that an asteroid crashed into Earth around 10,000 years ago—sending a chunk of our planet spinning into space. And it came crashing back to the surface—after spending anywhere between “2,000 to a few tens of thousands of years in orbit.” FYI: the only other example of such a meteorite is a tiny bit of Earth that was dug up on the moon by Apollo astronauts in 1971. (Space.com)