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Opposition boycott of parliament inauguration
Opposition leaders are furious that the prime minister—and not the president—will be inaugurating the opening of the new parliament building on May 28. Their argument is that President Droupadi Murmu is the head of parliament as per the constitution—and therefore the right person to do the honours. Of course, the rhetoric surrounding the boycott has moved way past the constitution:
The BJP is directly insulting the President who is also a woman and a Scheduled Tribe. The building is also not completed yet, so what explains this hurry for the inauguration? Is this because May 28 happens to be the birthday of Savarkar?
Sigh. In any case, Trinamool Congress, AAP, CPI(M) and CPI have already announced that they won’t attend the ceremony. Congress is waffling as usual. (Indian Express)
Bad omens for Imran Khan
For all his big talk, key leaders of his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are abandoning ship under government pressure. PTI whip Shireen Mazari was arrested five times in 14 days over accusations of inciting the violence that followed Khan's arrest on corruption charges. She has now resigned—condemning the uprising by his supporters. To date, a number of leaders have left their posts—which Khan describes as “forced divorces.” Have no clue what’s up in Pakistan? Check out our most recent Big Story that explains why Imran Khan is fighting for his political career. (The Print)
Hallelujah, a WhatsApp edit tool
Finally, you can undo your hastily sent—and badly written—messages. A new feature allows you to edit messages up to 15 minutes after hitting send. But be warned: the message will then carry an “edited” label. It will be available to everyone in a few weeks. The screenshots below show you how it will work. (Reuters)
A Rs 2K shopping spree
The Reserve Bank’s decision to withdraw the 2K note has sent wealthy Indians—not to the banks to exchange their stash—but to the luxury stores. Think high-end cigars, gold-dusted chocolate truffles and fudges, and accessories. The sales at Darveys.com—which sells luxury bags, shoes and clothing—shot up by 30% this weekend. And they’re mostly cash on delivery orders. Moral of this story: rich people will do anything to avoid standing in line:) (Mint)
Neeraj Chopra is finally #1
The Olympic champion topped the latest men's javelin throw rankings issued by the World Athletics for the first time in his career. He is now 22 points ahead of his closest rival—Grenada’s Anderson Peters. The achievement crowned a winning streak for Chopra—who has won a number of prestigious tournaments over the past year—becoming the first Indian to win the Diamond League contest in Zurich. (The Hindu)
UK cracks down on family visas
Only family members of students in postgraduate programmes that are designated as research studies will qualify for dependent visas. The government is trying to stem the tide of family visas that are rising sharply. In 2022, 136,000 visas were granted to dependents of sponsored students—a staggering leap from the 16,000 issued in 2019. Indians account for the largest number of graduate study visas—having recently overtaken the Chinese. In terms of dependent visas, we come second to the Nigerians. (The Telegraph)
Meanwhile, in France: The government has banned all short haul flights to cut down on emissions. There will be no flights permitted on routes where a person can travel by train under 2.5 hours. It sounds impressive except only three routes will be canned as a result—between Paris-Orly airport and Bordeaux, Nantes, and Lyon. (Quartz)
Good things come in the left ear
A new study reveals that we humans prefer to hear the good stuff out of one specific ear—our left one:
When the study's participants listened to happy human vocalisations from three different directions – either the left, centre, or right – both sides of their auditory cortex activated. Recordings heard on the left side alone, however, elicited a much stronger neurological response. "This does not occur when positive vocalisations come from the front or right," says neuroscientist Sandra da Costa.
But scientists don’t really understand why this is so. But if you want to whisper sweet things into your bae’s ears, well, you know which one to pick. (Science Alert)
A treasure trove of new species
Scientists have discovered an astonishing total of 380 new species of plants and animals in the Mekong region—which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The exact count: 290 plants, 19 fish species, 24 amphibians, 46 reptiles and one mammal. They are seriously awesome looking—and you should check out the greatest hitsover here. Our faves include this pink orchid Dendrobium fuscifaucium discovered in Laos—which resembles a muppet:
Andthe Cambodian blue crested agama which is a gorgeous colour changing lizard:
Two things to see
One: Yes, everything you feared about AI came true. A fake image that appeared to show an explosion near the Pentagon went viral. It caused a brief dip in the stock market. Making everything more worrying—the image was spread by ‘verified’ Twitter accounts—raising fresh questions about those blue ticks. See the fake image below:
And to be truly amused, see whatRepublic TV made of it:
Two: Arnold Schwarzenegger is Netflix’s Chief Action Officer—an odd made-up title that he describes as working "round the clock" to bring audiences the "biggest action on earth." Apparently, it involves running a military tank over a Benz parked in front of Netflix's headquarters. (Business Insider)