Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
The great earthquake: The latest update
The death toll has passed 33,000—and the hope of finding survivors has mostly disappeared. A number of rescue operations have called it quits. Recep Erdoğan’s government has found a scapegoat in contractors—who are being blamed for cutting corners during construction:
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Sunday that 134 people were being investigated for their alleged responsibility in the construction of buildings that failed to withstand the quakes... He said that three had been arrested pending trial, seven people were detained and seven other were barred from leaving the country.
The ministry also plans to establish an Earthquake Crimes Investigation bureau.
As for Syria: It has received very little attention in comparison. A top UN official on a visit to the Turkish-Syrian border said that the victims have been left “looking for international help that hasn’t arrived.” Also this: “We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria. They rightly feel abandoned.” CNBC has all the latest details on the earthquake—while Reuters has more on Syria.
A US epidemic of UFOs
The Pentagon has now shot down four flying objects from the sky—of which only one has been identified as a Chinese spy balloon (explained in this Big Story). On Friday, a “cylindrical object” was taken down over Alaska airspace by a US F-22. A day later, an unidentified object was downed over northern Canada. And on Sunday, the military shot down an object over Lake Huron in Michigan.
Authorities are being tight-lipped about these latest flying objects—but have clarified that they do not resemble the spy balloon: “These objects shot down on Friday and Saturday were objects and did not closely resemble the PRC balloon. When we can recover the debris, we will have more for you.” CNN sums up everything we know right now.
A controversial pick for governor
The government has appointed former Supreme Court justice S Abdul Nazeer as the new governor of Andhra Pradesh. Nazeer presided over the Babri Masjid case—which greenlit the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Two other justices who ruled in that case also received juicy retirement posts. CJI Ranjan Gogoi was nominated to the Rajya Sabha—while Justice Ashok Bhushan was made head of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal. As they say, two is a coincidence, three is a trend. (The Telegraph)
A big lithium find in J&K
The government announced the first significant discovery of lithium—a rare element that is critical in the manufacture of electric vehicles, phones and laptops. It is often called ‘white gold’. The Geological Survey of India found 5.9 million tonnes in the Reasi district. Far smaller reserves were discovered in Karnataka in 2021. How big is this find? India now has 5.5% of the known world reserves of lithium:
As per one estimate, Chile—at 9.2 million tonnes—led the world in lithium reserves, followed by Australia (6.2 million tonnes). So India’s recent find of 5.9 million tonnes of lithium could catapult it into the top three countries in the world with the highest lithium reserves.
And here’s why it matters: “[T]he discovery could aid India's push to increase the number of private electric cars by 30% by 2030, as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions to tackle global warming.” BBC News and The Wire have more details.
Super Bowl madness is here
America’s ultimate sport spectacle ended with a nail-biting finish—with the Kansas City Chiefs prevailing over the Philadelphia Eagles by three points. The final score: 38-35. The game also marked a historic moment—the first time two black quarterbacks have battled each other in a Super Bowl. That’s saying something for a football league that blacklisted one of its most gifted players Colin Kaepernick for taking the knee to protest racism. On a less serious note, Rihanna totally rocked at the half-time show—watch a clip below. FYI: She also revealed her baby bump. This will be RiRi’s second child. Quartz has an interesting piece on why the biggest names in music perform for free at the halftime show.
Meanwhile, in cricket: The Indian women’s team beat Pakistan to win their first match of the T20 World Cup. Thanks to the steady innings of Jemimah Rodrigues and big hits from Richa Ghosh, we reached the winning total of 150 with seven balls to spare. See the winning moment below: (Indian Express)
The mystery of Frida Kahlo’s death
The legendary artist died at the relatively young age of 47—her death officially attributed to a pulmonary embolism. But her husband’s grandson—descended from Diego Rivera’s first wife—claims in a soon-to-be aired documentary that Rivera assisted her suicide. It may have been a final act of love to fulfil her wish—at a time when she was in chronic pain and had lost her leg:
Coronel Rivera, a Mexican art journalist and photographer descended from Rivera and his first wife, will suggest that Rivera “helped her”, and that he does not “feel like it’s something wrong”. In the final part of the BBC2 documentary, he argues: “If your companion of life says, ‘I’m tired, I really want to go now, help me’—well, maybe you try.”
Two animal things to see
One: A Pacific pocket mouse—an endangered species—is officially the longest living rodent in human care. Pat is nine years and 209 days old—and is named after Star Trek legend Sir Patrick Stewart. Pacific pocket mouses were thought to be extinct for decades—after they were wiped out due to habitat loss in the US. The adorable Pat is part of a conservation program started by the San Diego zoo in 2012. You can see him below. (BBC News)
Two: Also adorable: The rescue dogs who sauntered down the catwalk in the company of models at the New York Fashion Week. The show was also a fundraiser for the Bissell Pet Foundation. You can see them looking fabulous below. (Forbes)