Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Priyanka Gulati
Arresting Imran Khan: A political drama in Pakistan
The context: Since he was removed from power in April last year (explained here), Khan has been charged in 70 cases—of sedition, corruption and terrorism. He has also been pushing for early elections—and his popularity has been rising with each passing month. All of which explains what happened on the weekend.
What happened now: The police arrived at Khan’s residence on Sunday to arrest him—but found he had gone AWOL (shocking!). Of the many charges against Khan, they were armed with an arrest warrant for tax evasion. Khan allegedly bought stuff gifted by foreign dignitaries from the official ‘Toshakhana’ at a discount—and then sold them for a profit—which he failed to declare.
Khan merrily showed up at his home soon after the police left—to deliver a speech to his supporters. He was promptly banned from TV channels. Khan has been summoned to appear in court on March 7. If he fails to show up, the police will try and arrest him again. (The Guardian)
Meanwhile, in Belarus: Nobel Peace prize winner Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to 10 years in prison for smuggling and funding "actions grossly violating public order." Bialiatski’s real crime: he was one of the prominent faces of the 2021 human rights protests targeting President Aleksandr G Lukashenko. In the words of a leading politician: “Lukashenko is sending a message: that he is still in control, will not tolerate any disloyalty — and there is nothing you can do about it.” (BBC News)
Tamil Nadu has a ‘North India’ problem
The state is dealing with a plague of viral WhatsApp videos that appear to show Hindi-speaking migrant workers being assaulted. Tamil Nadu’s manufacturing and industrial sector is heavily reliant on the one-million strong workforce from the North. And there are worries many of these workers will not return after going home for Holi.
The police insist that the videos are fake. State leaders—including CM Stalin—have issued assurances of the workers’ safety. And the Bihar government has expressed its satisfaction with the measures taken by TN. Indian Express has more details and the big picture on North Indian workers in the state.
Yet another inflight piss-up…
Indian passengers just can’t stop peeing on each other! This time, the culprit is a student who drank way too much on the American Airlines flight from New York to Delhi. Initial reports claimed that the 21-year-old Arya Vohra (name and shame!) wet himself in his sleep—and the pee “somehow leaked and fell on a fellow passenger.” But the airline made it clear this was no accident:
He was repeatedly arguing with the operating crew, was not willing to be seated and continuously endangering the safety of crew and aircraft and after disturbing safety of fellow passengers, finally urinated on pax seated on 15G.
Vohra was taken away by police soon after the plane landed in Delhi. (Yahoo News)
A nationwide flu warning
Health authorities have flagged rising cases linked to H3N2—a subtype of Influenza A virus. The symptoms—fever, cough, breathlessness etc—are similar to Covid. It is also one of the few types of flu that result in greater numbers of hospitalisation. Most importantly, you should not be taking antibiotics to treat a viral flu: “Treatment with paracetamol for fever and bodyache is advised. Also take in plenty of fluids.” And as with any air-borne infection, the use of masks and social distancing is recommended. (The Hindu)
Three sports stories of note
One: The first edition of the Women’s Premier League kicked off this weekend with a blingy opening ceremony—starring Bollywood actors Kriti Sanon and Kiara Advani and this performance by AP Dhillon:
Two: Defending champion Max Verstappen kicked off the F1 season with a crushing victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ferrari was once again plagued by mechanical issues as Charles Leclerc retired with an engine failure. The Independent has lots more details.
Three: Liverpool humiliated Manchester United with a crushing 7-0 victory—their biggest ever against the team. Goal scorers included Darwin Nunez (2), Cody Gakpo (2), Mohamed Salah (2) and Roberto Firmino. This is especially ill-timed for ManU since the defeat erases any hope of winning the Premier League this year. ESPN has all the analysis you need.
Here come the cocaine hippos!
The context: Colombia has long been besieged by a rising population of hippos—which were first imported into the country by drug lord Pablo Escobar. They have spread out far beyond Escobar’s old hacienda, where they began as a population of just one male and three females. Their numbers are now between 130-160—and they are a full-blown environmental menace..
What happened now: The government has generously decided to ship these ‘cocaine hippos’ to Mexico and—yay!—India. Sixty of them will soon arrive at the Greens Zoological Rescue & Rehabilitation Kingdom in Gujarat. That would be Anant Ambani’s pet project slated to be the world’s largest zoo. The Ambanis will pick up the tab for flying out these three-ton wonders. Jokes aside, wildlife experts say moving the hippos to a sanctuary is the best possible solution—since sending them back to Africa is not possible:
Every time we move animals or plants from one place to the other, we also move their pathogens, their bacteria and their viruses. And we could be bringing new diseases to Africa, not just for the hippos that are out there in the wild, but new diseases for the entire African ecosystem that hasn’t evolved with that type of disease.
CBS News has lots more on the relocation plan.
And the world’s best beach is…
According to the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice awards, the honour goes to Baía do Sancho in Brazil—followed by the Eagle Beach in Aruba. The Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Ellis island in the Andamans comes in at #7. It is also the best beach in Asia. Btw: did you see our brilliant travel guide to Havelock Ellis? CNN has more on the different beaches, and you can check out the entire list here.
Pathaan breaks a new record
SRK’s comeback flick is now the most successful Hindi film in India—earning a total of Rs 6.41 billion (641.50 crore) at home. But its worldwide earnings—Rs 1,028 crore—are still far behind ‘Dangal’—which earned a total of around Rs 20 billion (2000 crore). But ‘Dangal’ was released in theatres twice—and its China box office earnings were key to its eye-watering success. (The Telegraph)
Three things to see
One: Succession fans rejoice! The trailer for season 4 is here. It is the final season with 10 episodes—and will premiere on March 26 on HBO. Look for it on Disney+ Hotstar in India. (Hollywood Reporter)
Two: Chris Rock finally let loose on slapgate—almost exactly a year after Will Smith smacked him in the face while he was on stage hosting the Oscars. It was brutal. You can see the entire stand up show on Netflix. You can get a taste of what to expect in Variety or this clip below. Let’s just say the man did not pull his punches either.
Three: On a more pleasant note, here is how Cate Blanchett responded when host Hasan Minhaj asked her to make weird faces at the Independent Spirit Awards. It was such a hit that fellow actor Marisa Tomei and ‘Tár’ director Todd Field followed suit. (Entertainment Weekly)