Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Pawar vs Pawar: The latest update
The context: On Sunday, NCP leader Ajit Pawar broke ranks to join the Eknath Shinde/BJP government in Maharashtra. He was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister along with eight other MLAs who took oath as ministers. Ajit’s supporters claim they are the “true” NCP and have the support of 36 MLAs. Our Big Story has everything you need to know about this maha melodrama.
What happened now: Both Sharad and Ajit Pawar sought to assert their control over the NCP. The nephew removed his uncle’s loyalist Jayant Patil as the state party president. The uncle expelled two prominent defectors—Praful Patel and Sunil Tatkare—for engaging in "anti-party” activities. Ajit has now openly staked his claim to the party name and symbol. But also oddly this: “To a question on who the NCP chief will be, Ajit Pawar said, ‘Have you forgotten that Sharad Pawar is the party’s national President?’”
Meanwhile, Shinde Sena leaders are anxious about an upcoming cabinet reshuffle—which will likely award the juiciest portfolios to NCP heavyweights—and are already making noises about defecting, again:
We can forget about any further leaders from Uddhav Saheb’s group joining us. Instead, our own leaders, including some MLAs who feel stifled, may revert back. Many of us will struggle to get re-elected if the situation remains unchanged.
Balasore train tragedy: A very costly human error
An internal Railways Ministry probe has concluded that mistakes by the signals department at various levels resulted in the accident—which killed 291 people in Odisha. An attempt to fix the electric barrier at a railway crossing went terribly wrong:
On the ill-fated day of the accident that occurred at close to 6.40 p.m., the report said that the disconnection memo was issued at close to 4.20 p.m. for repair work to be carried out. On the same day, a reconnection memo was issued at 4.50 p.m. “After reconnection (which is ideally given after the work is complete) the S&T staff was still working on signal circuit,” the report said.
In other words, the signals were never reconnected to let the Coromandel Express pass through the station—as intended. Instead, the train was diverted to the loop line—and crashed into a standing goods train. The Hindu has this exclusive—and lots more on the report.
Largest Israeli attack on West Bank
Eight Palestinians were killed and 50 injured in 10 drone strikes on a Jenin refugee camp. Israeli troops—backed by armoured bulldozers and snipers on rooftops—also launched a ground offensive on the refugee camp. It is the biggest military operation on Palestinian territory in 20 years. The Israeli military says it was targeting the command centre of a militant group—and to “break the safe-haven mindset of the camp, which has become a hornets’ nest.” The US fully backed Israel—while the UK called for military restraint. FYI: 133 Palestinians have been killed just this year in Israeli attacks—marking a significant escalation. The Guardian offers a good video report below. (The Guardian)
A diabetes pill for weight loss
The context: Semaglutide is used to treat type 2 diabetes. But over the past year, it has become wildly popular as a weight loss drug—sold as Ozempic and/or Wegovy (which is controversial as we explained in this Big Story). Until now, it has been administered in the form of weekly injections.
What happened now: New research says that high doses of an oral version of semaglutide can be just as effective as the injection: “Those who took semaglutide lost, on average, around 15% of their body weight—roughly six times that of the placebo group.” It was just as effective in controlling blood sugar, as well. The recommended daily dose: 50 mg. Why this matters: taking a tablet is easier than getting a weekly injection. New York Times has more on the Lancet studies. (Indian Express)
The great Twitter shitshow: The latest update
Each day brings a new tamasha. This time, the company is being sued for not paying a company that provides office services in four locations: London, Dublin, Sydney and Singapore. The total bill of $660,000 is not even pocket change for Twitter. But the company has been sued repeatedly for not paying up. For example: an advisory firm filed a suit of $1.9 million earlier this year. The most telling line in this story: “The firm says that after Musk took over Twitter, the social media company did not dispute the invoices but has simply not paid them.” (Reuters)
Meanwhile, in India: Almost four years after the government revoked Kashmir’s special status—through a constitutional amendment—the Supreme Court will finally hear over 20 petitions challenging the decision. A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud will preside over the Article 370 hearings starting July 11. (Hindustan Times)
Vietnam bans ‘Barbie’
The highly anticipated movie will not be released in the country. The reason: one scene has a map that shows a contested part of the South China sea. The problem is something called ‘nine-dash line’—used to signify territory claimed by China:
That bit contains parts of Vietnam’s continental shelf—and Hanoi has long staked its claim to the region. But let’s be real, if Hollywood has to choose between pissing off China or Vietnam… Yeah, that scene is staying in. (Variety)
Meanwhile in Canada: A Conservative Party MP has filed an "official grievance" with the parliament—demanding that Taylor Swift bring her Eras Tour to Canada. The recently announced tour dates list locations across the globe—from Mexico to Japan—but left out Amreeka’s bechara neighbour.
While many MPs have banded together to demand “swift action,” it isn’t clear what the Canadian parliament can do to persuade Swift to change her mind. Btw, this isn’t about making Swifites happy. Her tour is expected to generate $4.6 billion for the US economy. (CTV News)
Three things to see
One: Rekha on the cover of Vogue. Need we say more? Nah, we don’t think so. Btw, this is her first Vogue cover—and it is for the magazine’s Middle Eastern edition. Wonder why the folks in Vogue India didn’t land this one. You can check out more pics over at Vogue Arabia's Insta handle—ranging from stunning to quirky—and some of her quotes on their website.
Two: The mayor of the town of San Pedro Huamelula in Mexico married a seven-year-old female caiman—which is sorta like an alligator. The “little princess” represents mother earth—and her marriage to the local leader will bless the town: "We ask nature for enough rain, for enough food, that we have fish in the river.” Yes, the bride dressed in white:) (Telegraph UK, paywall, Reuters)
Three: Speaking of white gowns, the one worn by Princess Leia in ‘Star Wars’ failed to sell at an LA auction. The auctioneers had hoped for a going price of around $2 million—but no one was interested. But this hideous clown doll from ‘Poltergeist’ sold for over $650,000. So wrong. (Deutsche Welle)