Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Trump guilty of sexual abuse
The context: Columnist E Jean Carroll has accused the former US president of raping her in the changing room of Bergdorf Goodman store in 1996. When she went public in 2019, Trump denied it—calling her a “nut job” who invented “a fraudulent and false story” to sell a memoir. She then sued him for defamation—seeking unspecified damages and a retraction of his statements.
What happened now: A New York jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation—but rejected the rape charge. It awarded Carroll $5 million in damages. Trump did not defend himself in the case—or appear in the court. But he slammed the verdict, saying: “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace.” His lawyers plan to appeal. Why this matters: it is hard to make a second run for the White House when you’ve been found guilty of sexual abuse. Then again, this is Trump. (Associated Press via The Hindu)
Another cheetah death in Kuno
Three cheetahs have died within 42 days at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh—which is home to the cheetahs relocated from Africa over the past six months. The female Daksha was attacked by a male during a “mating attempt”—and died of her injuries. Experts in charge of the project say this is “a normal thing”:
Cheetahs killing other cheetahs account for about 8% of cheetah mortality in the South African metapopulation. Nature is brutal. It is not unusual for male cheetahs to exhibit aggressive behaviour towards each other, as well as towards females.
Reminder: One of the female cheetahs from Namibia successfully mated with one of the males—and delivered cubs in February. As for the other two deaths, one female died of kidney disease—and the recent demise of a male remains a puzzle. Our Big Story has more on the debate over the cheetah project and their chances of survival. (The Telegraph)
And the Pulitzer goes to…
There were no big surprises in the list 2023 winners for journalism. Wall Street Journal bagged the award for investigative reporting—while the New York Times went home with awards for International Reporting and Illustrated Reporting and Commentary. The sweetest win belongs to John Archibald—who scored his second Pulitzer as part of a four-person team—which includes his son.
In the fiction category, the prize was shared by Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Demon Copperhead’ and ‘Trust’ by Hernan Diaz. Associated Press has a list of all the journalism winners and the links to the respective works. The New York Times has a wonderful list of books that were finalists this year.
LGBTQ+ victory in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has given the green light to a bill seeking to decriminalise homosexuality—saying it is not unconstitutional. This is viewed as a “historic victory” in a country where being queer is a jailable offence. The private member’s bill still has to be passed by Parliament—where it needs the support of 225 members. (Reuters)
The astonishing emissions of Turkmenistan
The former Soviet republic is slightly larger than California—and has at best 5.6 million residents. Most of its population lives in poverty. But it has the fourth-largest natural gas reserves in the world and—according to a new study—is a “super emitter” of methane:
[T]he western fossil fuel field in Turkmenistan, on the Caspian coast, leaked 2.6 million tonnes of methane in 2022. The eastern field emitted 1.8 million tonnes. Together, the two fields released emissions equivalent to 366 million tonnes of CO2, more than the UK’s annual emissions, which are the 17th-biggest in the world.
In August 2022, a single leak near the country’s coast of 427 tonnes was equivalent to the rate of emissions from 67 million cars. Below is a satellite map of twelve methane plumes in Turkmenistan:
Why this matters: Methane emissions cause 25% of global heating today and there has been a “scary” surge since 2007. It also traps 80 times more heat than CO2. What’s really depressing: these leaks can be easily fixed by repairing valves and pipes. But Turkmenistan’s dictator Serdar Berdimuhamedov simply can’t be bothered to do it. Bloomberg News has more on the international pressure on Turkmenistan to clean up its act. (The Guardian)
Hungry? Don’t Swiggy, just Waayu!
Here’s a new option for dinner at the end of a long day—Waayu—a food delivery service launched by the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association. If you remember, some of the best restaurants have boycotted both Zomato and Swiggy—because they charge high commissions (24%-28%) and bully outlets into giving steep discounts.
Waayu, OTOH, is all about the restaurants instead of the middleman: “Employing a software as a service (SaaS) model, WAAYU will not charge any commission fees, allowing restaurants to price their dishes competitively and pass the savings on to customers.” It is only operational in Mumbai for now—and has Suniel Shetty as its brand ambassador. Mint has more details.
Speaking of Swiggy: One of Swiggy’s big investors—US fund Invesco—has slashed its valuation by 32%—dropping from $8.2 billion to $5.5 billion. What’s notable: Invesco ploughed $700 million into Swiggy just last year—at a valuation of $10.7 billion. (Mint)
Also shrinking: LinkedIn—which has laid off 716 employees—and shut down its app in China. Quartz has that story.
FoxConn’s big buy in Bangalore
The world’s biggest Apple manufacturer has bought a 1.2 million-square-metre piece of land near the city airport—paying Rs 3 billion ($37 million) for a site the size of more than 50 Manhattan blocks. The factory is expected to create around 1,00,000 jobs—according to the government. (The Hindu)
Parineeti aur Raghav ki jodi
Here’s an odd couple we rarely see: the engagement of a politician—AAP leader Raghav Chadha—and Bollywood actor Parineeti Chopra. Apparently, they went to London School of Economics at the same time—and have been friends ever since. The ceremony is slated for May 13. You can see the latest pap shots of them below. (NDTV)
Speaking of celebrities: Robert De Niro announced that he is now the father of a seventh child at the tender age of 79. He didn’t share the name of the mother and said the pregnancy was “planned.” (CNN)
Three things to see
One: Just the release of the ‘Adipurush’ trailer is a sensation in itself. Look at the insane crowds for its screening in Hyderabad. This is the fanboy/girl reaction to the arrival of Prabhas—who plays Raghava aka Ram:
But then there was all this ‘Jai Shri Ram’ madness happening as well. It’s hard to gauge if this was the mood of the entire crowd—or just its noisiest members:
ICYMI, the movie is the loose telling of the Ramayana—which also stars Kriti Sanon as Janki (Sita) while Saif Ali Khan will play Lankesh (Ravana). The special effects of the first teaser were so bad that it caused great furore. The producers promised to fix the problems—and they seem to have done so. Of course, the sad bit is that the movie will be so dreadfully politicised that no one will be able to judge it on its own merits.
Two: Sometimes it pays to forget to cash a cheque. This one issued in 1976 is for $175 and written by Steve Jobs for a consulting company. What makes it special—he wrote it when Apple was just a tiny startup operating out of that famous garage. The expected selling price: upwards of $25,000. What makes it special: Jobs was notorious for not giving autographs. (Gizmodo)
Three: Sticking with big tech founders, the Zuck is making all the right kinds of news for a change. The Meta founder won a gold and a silver medal at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament held in California. Apparently, the "primal" nature of the sport helps him “boost his energy level as he tackles challenges at work.” You can see him in action below. If you really, really want more of Karate Kid Mark, you can check out his Facebook page. (CBS News)