Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Smriti Arora
A horrific air strike in Myanmar
At least 100 people were killed when the military junta launched airstrikes on a crowd gathered to celebrate the opening of a local office. Why this earned the military’s wrath: the village and neighbouring areas are controlled by the resistance. An eyewitness said:
When I arrived at the scene we tried to search for people still alive. Everything was terrible. People were dying (as they were being transported) on motorbikes. Children and women. Some lost their heads, limbs, hands. I saw flesh on the road.
The military government—which seized power in 2021—has launched 600 air strikes on its own people between February 2021 and January 2023. You can see the scenes of the carnage here—please be warned, the images are hard to see. (CNN)
A fake cow slaughter case in UP
The police have arrested the national spokesperson of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha Sanjay Jat and his three aides for filing a false complaint. They filed an FIR accusing four Muslim men of killing a cow in Agra. But, in fact, the four men had conspired to kill the cow—and frame the Muslims. The reason: “The police said Mr. Jat’s aide, Jhallu, was a butcher of cattle and the Muslim men were his competitors.” (The Hindu)
Substack launches Twitter rival
Substack has a new feature that allows you to post short posts. You can use it to “share links, images, quick thoughts, and snippets from Substack posts”... sounds familiar. Yeah, it’s sorta like Twitter without the word limit—and you can’t yet share videos. Now, many have tried to poach Twitter users as the company wallows in chaos—hello, Mastodon—but none have succeeded. But Substack has one advantage over the others:
Substack already is being used by many big names in media, entertainment and politics. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Margaret Atwood, the chef Alison Roman, and sportswriters Joe Posnanski and Molly Knight all use Substack… Many high-profile journalists have embraced Notes as a way of deepening their relationship with their readers.
Since Substack’s main biz is newsletters, it is promoting the feature as a way to get more subscribers. CEO Elon Musk showed his displeasure by banning Substack links on Twitter—which he then walked back on… for now. The Verge has lots more on how Notes works. And as you can see in the gif below, it does look a lot like Twitter.
Also making moves: Warner Bros which has folded Discovery+ content into HBO Max—and renamed it as simply Max. It has also promised to add 40 new titles and TV show seasons every month—including a Harry Potter series and another prequel to ‘Game of Thrones’. None of which will be available to Indians since Disney+ Hotstar cancelled its licensing agreement with HBO. Somebody do something!! (Variety)
Covid numbers are going up
India recorded 7,830 new cases in a single day on Tuesday—the highest since September 2022. There are 40,215 active cases in the country—and there have been 16 deaths. The worst hit is Delhi—which reported 1,000 new cases. The government is scrambling to increase production of Covid booster shots—and hospitals carried out mock drills. Mask mandates are back in Haryana, Kerala and Puducherry. The culprit is a new variant of Omicron, named XBB.1.16—which is highly infectious but rarely causes severe illness. (The Guardian)
Indians heart English language entertainment
The number of Indians who paid to watch global content in English online was 19.1 million in 2020—before the pandemic began. It has now ballooned to 42.7 million—a whopping 124% jump. What’s notable: 65% of the urban audience with paid subscriptions watch English content—across small towns and big cities. According to Ormax:
The idea that English content is only viewed by elite audiences in metros is no longer true. Dubbed versions of these shows on OTT platforms, which weren’t available on English channels on satellite television, has helped scale up consumption especially during the pandemic when Indian audiences tasted blood.
But here’s the catch: 46% of this audience want to watch the content not in English but their mother tongue. That said, the numbers still show that global content is no longer ‘niche’. Guess no one told Disney—which cancelled Hotstar’s HBO content because it didn’t make ‘business sense’ 🙄 (Mint)
Speaking of English language content: Four of India’s largest newspapers—Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Telegraph and The Times of India—got together to publish a very strange ad. It's not making a pitch to readers but to advertisers. They apparently want to remind brands that Indians who read English-language newspapers are the only ones who count in this country? We “did the math” as ordered and it adds up to a whole lot of tone-deaf elitism.
Four things to see
One: The world’s most expensive sneakers are—no effing surprise—a pair of Air Jordans. These were worn by Michael Jordan during Game 2 of the 1998 NBA finals—which marked his final season with the Chicago Bulls. They sold for a jaw-dropping $2.2 million. FYI: these Air Jordans XIII are also known as ‘Bred’ Jordans for the black and red colours. Behold these amazing sneakers below. (CBS News)
Two: Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated an evil pothole in his LA neighbourhood. Residents had spent weeks filing complaints to local authorities—but to little effect. Arnie tweeted out this clip of his great deed—declaring, “I always say, let’s not complain, let’s do something about it.” (Associated Press)
Three: This Chihuahua named Pearl made the record books for being the shortest pooch in the world. She is under 3.6 inches (9.14 cm) tall and 5 inches (12.7cm long). Well, the cutest things come in absurdly small packages:) (The Guardian)
Four: Actor Jeremy Renner returned to the red carpet for the very first time after a horrific accident involving a snow blower. He attended the premiere of the Disney+ reality TV series ‘Rennervations’. He looks lovely—as does his loving fam! (Variety)