Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
Get ready to rumble… at the voting booth!
The Election Commission has announced a flurry of state elections—all of which will be held through the month November. The states include Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana. The votes will be counted on December 3—and results will be announced soon after. Think of this as the qualifiers for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. They won’t predict who wins—but they will indicate who is in good form. (The Hindu)
The Nobel Prize in Economics goes to…
Claudia Goldin—who is the third female economist to win the highest honour, and the first to win it alone. She did not share the glory with any other. Goldin won the prize for her research into historical trends in women’s employment. What caught our eye in the Nobel committee’s announcement:
According to Goldin, part of the explanation is that educational decisions, which impact a lifetime of career opportunities, are made at a relatively young age. If the expectations of young women are formed by the experiences of previous generations — for instance, their mothers, who did not go back to work until the children had grown up — then development will be slow.
Historically, much of the gender gap in earnings could be explained by differences in education and occupational choices. However, Goldin has shown that the bulk of this earnings difference is now between men and women in the same occupation, and that it largely arises with the birth of the first child.
Going, going, still not gone: Disney’s great India sale
Disney has been trying for months to shed its India holdings—including Hotstar and the Star TV channels. Or so news reports claim. A month ago, rumours were that the Ambanis would swoop in—and add to their growing Jio Cinema assets. Now, media outlets claim that the serious suitors are Gautam Adani and Kalanithi Maran—the owner of Sun TV. OTOH, the same Bloomberg News story also notes that Disney is selling ad spots for the World Cup at $3,600 a second. Who kills that kind of a cash cow—especially in India? (Bloomberg News via Economic Times)
In other India Inc news: The Delhi police has registered an FIR against Hero MotoCorp—based on a complaint filed by Brains Logistics. The company claims Hero MotoCorp conspired to “cheat and falsify the books… and manufactured fake month wise bills” totaling Rs 59.5 million ( Rs 5.95 crore) back in 2009 and 2010. Yes, it’s an old case. Reminder: it has suddenly resurfaced after the Enforcement Directorate raided the residence of chairman Pawan Munjal in August based on allegations of money laundering—“signalling a major escalation of investigation against the prominent businessman.” (Mint)
The fastest marathon runner in the world is…
Kelvin Kiptum from Kenya—who completed the Chicago Marathon in 2 hours and 35 seconds. The previous record: 2 hours and 1 minute—set by his countryman Eliud Kipchoge at the Berlin Marathon last year. Watch his sprint up to the finish line below. CNN and NBC Sports have more.
Not helping matters or X: Elon Musk
We’re not sure what’s up with the owner of the platform formerly known as Twitter. But he isn’t doing himself or X any favours by recommending handles known for distributing disinformation: “For following the war in real-time, @WarMonitors & @sentdefender are good.” Here’s one reason why that may be an unwise recommendation:
The War Monitor account has argued with others over Israel and religion, posting a year ago that “the overwhelming majority of people in the media and banks are zionists” and telling a correspondent in June to “go worship a jew lil bro.”
He has since deleted the tweet. The bigger and more important news is that Twitter has performed very poorly during the Israel-Hamas conflict. An expert offers this interesting reason why:
“People who have paid for blue checks have a financial incentive to LARP [live action role-play] as war reporters by dredging up old stories or fake footage,” [Researcher at the Atlantic Council Digital Forensics Research Lab, Emerson] Brooking wrote. “Elon Musk enables this.”
Hmm. Washington Post has lots more on Twitter failures in the time of war.
Air travel: As jammed as ever!
Global airline travel has officially reached pre-pandemic levels—after four long years. And it will surpass 2019 numbers this week. But here’s the catch: “Industry profit will be less than 40% of 2019’s level this year.” The reason: business travel has not fully recovered quite as well—and may never entirely do so. Airlines are doing their best to soak profits from tourists intent on “revenge travel”—to make up for lost time during the pandemic. Sadly for the industry, the Chinese have yet to join those ranks. (Bloomberg News, paywall, Mint).
The first ever poll in Kargil
To be accurate, local elections were held in the Kargil district of Ladakh—to pick members of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. The alliance of Congress and National Conference (of Omar Abdullah fame) won 22 out of 26 seats—while the BJP only bagged two. The polls offer little political power but here’s why they may matter:
This was the first elections held in Kargil, after Ladakh was carved out as a Union territory from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. The National Conference and the Congress entered a pre-poll alliance in a contest that was pitched as an election to decide whether the people of Kargil “accept or reject the decisions of August 5, 2019.”
Scroll has lots more details.
Farewell to frogs?
A new study has found that 100 amphibian species—including frogs, toads, salamanders—are headed for extinction. The numbers are dire: 41% of them are “globally threatened” i.e. they are either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. The usual suspect is climate change: “The soft-skinned animals lack the scales, fur and feathers of other animals to help regulate their temperature and moisture levels in this hotter and more drought-stricken world.”
Among the disappearing species is the coquí frogs in Puerto Rico—which “are decreasing in body size and croaking at a higher pitch as temperatures increase.” As you can see, extinction of the coquí would be quite a loss—other than the critical role they play in the food chain. (Washington Post)
Four things to see
One: Before you start beating up on Indian media, please be aware that the Wall Street Journal has zero clue what a GOAT gymnast looks like. The title of the piece: ‘Simone Biles Is Officially the Most Decorated Gymnast in History’. The image accompanying the piece:
Two: Sticking with US sports, a new football helmet will allow quarterbacks who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate with their coach. His words show up on a screen inside the headwear. Hmm, we love that concussion-causing sports are now accessible for differently abled folks. But how about a helmet that reduces repetitive brain injury among football players? (NPR)
Three: This is our fave kind of news. A new gorgeous species discovered by scientists wandering around in the back of beyond—in this case, Thailand. Researchers have stumbled upon a giant turquoise pill millipede aka Sphaerobelum turcosa–and it is positively stunning. (Miami Herald, paywall)
Four: Also an amazing discovery: ancient footprints in New Mexico that show humans were hanging out in the Americas some 21,000 to 23,000 years ago. Until now, we thought humans discovered the Americas only around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. The footprints were discovered at the edge of an ancient lakebed—and in remarkably good shape. (The Guardian)