Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Yet another Russian missile barrage
The war in Ukraine is heating up once again with a fresh Russian offensive. Moscow launched a barrage of 81 missiles—including six hypersonic missiles that cannot be intercepted. Targets ranged from Kyiv to Odessa—and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia—which was knocked off the power grid. The last is the most alarming since nuclear reactors need constant power to run cooling systems to avoid a meltdown. The International Atomic Energy Agency officials emphasised that the incident “again demonstrated how fragile and dangerous the situation is”—adding, “Each time we are rolling a dice,” he said. “And if we allow this to continue time after time, then one day our luck will run out.” (Associated Press)
Apple bets big on India
According to a Bloomberg exclusive, the company has made India an independent sales region for the very first time. It is also reorganising the management of its international businesses to put a bigger focus on India—promoting the India head Ashish Chowdhary. A key reason for this reorientation: Apple posted record revenue in India last quarter—even though its total sales slipped 5%. (Bloomberg News)
Manish Sisodia is arrested… again!
This week, the AAP leader was arrested by CBI on corruption charges—and is currently in jail. Sisodia was up for a bail hearing today, but has now been arrested again by the Enforcement Directorate—on pretty much the same charges. Our Big Story has everything you need to know about the liquor excise melodrama in Delhi. (Indian Express)
Also behind bars: Two match officials who presided over one of the worst tragedies in football history (explained here). In October, angry fans stormed the ground when Arema lost a derby match to Persebaya Surabaya. The police fired tear gas into the crowds—which triggered a stampede—killing 125 people. The chairman of the Organizing Committee for Arema FC was found guilty of negligence—and held responsible for selling too many tickets. The other is a freelance security guard—who was also jailed for negligence. (CNN)
Teslas have a steering problem
US officials are investigating a bizarre and worrying pattern: at least 14 Teslas have crashed into emergency vehicles parked on the road—including fire trucks and police cars. They are looking at how the car’s Autopilot system detects and responds to these vehicles. Also worrying: reports of the steering wheel suddenly coming off while driving on spanking new Model Y SUVs. A bolt that attaches the wheel to the steering column is missing. So it looks fine until you start driving. (Associated Press)
Yes, money can buy happiness
Until now, the scientific consensus was that money does not buy you “emotional well-being” beyond a certain point. It rises until you are making $75,000 a year and then plateaus out. Well, that bit of conventional wisdom may be wrong. A new study—co-authored by the Nobel prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman who posited the $75,000 threshold—shows that people are just as happy making pots of money. The study made two key findings:
First, that “happiness continues to rise with income even in the high range of incomes” for the majority of people, showing that for many of us, on average having more money can make us increasingly happier. But the study also found that there was an “unhappy minority,” about 20 percent of participants, “whose unhappiness diminishes with rising income up to a threshold, then shows no further progress.”
CBS News has more details.
Bees are very cultured creatures
A new study shows that bumblebees learn new behaviour by watching their peers. Researchers taught one set of bees how to open a puzzle box to access a yummy bit of sugar. And then had ‘student’ bees watch their tutors. Not only did they master the art—but also passed it along across colonies. The finding suggests that bees have culture—just as primates—where behaviours are passed from one generation to the next.
We were taught that a lot of insect behaviour was kind of hardwired. And what this paper does is kind of turn that on its head. I mean, who knows what grasshoppers are capable of doing — or the lowly cockroach.
NPR has lots more on this intriguing study.
Speaking of animals: of the extinct kind, IIT Kharagpur researchers have discovered the remains of new species of phytosaur. It likely lived between 231 million and 212 million years ago—and was indigenous to the subcontinent. Why scientists are excited: “An indigenous phytosaur would be something akin to the Asiatic lion, which is unique to India.” (Telegraph India)
Old letters exonerate Nehru on Kashmir
The BJP has long insisted that Jawaharlal Nehru’s decision to compromise over the status of Kashmir back in 1948 was a serious “blunder.” But letters written by the commander-in-chief of the Indian army—Robert Roy Bucher—show that Nehru acted on his advice to seek a political solution when Pakistan invaded the state:
In his message to Nehru dated 28 November 1948, Bucher warned of fatigue among Indian troops in Kashmir, adding that an “overall military decision was no longer possible”. “Army personnel evince two weaknesses, lack of training in the junior leaders, tiredness and ennui in the other ranks … In brief, the army needs respite for leave, training, and vitalising.”
So the decision that gave us a divided Kashmir may have been driven by military pragmatism—rather than foolishness. The Guardian has more on the letters—while The Wire explains why the government has refused to release the Bucher Papers held in India.
Farewell, Satish Kaushik
Actor and filmmaker Satish Kaushik died of a heart attack at the age of 66. He was best known for his memorable on-screen characters—e.g Calendar in ‘Mr India’. Indian Express has a nice tribute to his career.
Two things to see
One: The fourth test match between India and Australia is being held at the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad. The Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is also in town on an official visit. Look what this delightful coincidence has spawned. Yes, that’s a chariot. For added entertainment, watch Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah present Modi with a special souvenir marking 75 years of friendship between India and Australia through cricket. What is that souvenir, you ask? A framed artwork of Modi-ji, of course! (Hindustan Times)
Two: Researchers in Tamil Nadu are the first to photograph a very rare moth—Mimeusemia ceylonica—which was spotted after 127 years in the Kalakkad–Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. It was last seen in Sri Lanka, and the only evidence of its existence was an 1893 illustration by an English entomologist. Well, we tend to prefer butterflies but this one is special in its own way. (The Hindu)