Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
Karnataka CM drama: The latest update
Contrary to its previous announcement, the Congress party did not reveal its choice for chief minister on Tuesday. Negotiations with the two tussling contenders—Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar—have not yielded a deal as yet. Shivakumar is not willing to cede his claim to the post—pointing out that his 76-year-old rival has already been CM—and lost the state election in 2018. OTOH, Siddaramaiah supporters argue that he is the choice of the newly elected MLAs.
According to unnamed party sources, the Gandhi family is split over the decision, as well—with Rahul backing Siddaramaiah as the popular choice. But Priyanka and Sonia believe Shivakumar should be rewarded for his dedication—and for reviving the state party in the aftermath of mass defections (explained here). Indian Express and The Hindu have more on this political tug-of-war.
Tesla talks in India
A high-ranking team of company execs are coming to meet government officials later this week. The plan is to reopen stalled discussions around bringing Tesla to India. Until now, Elon Musk has insisted on lower import taxes so he can start selling cars assembled in China and the US. But the government wants ‘made in India’ Teslas—assembled from locally manufactured parts worth at least $500 million. There may be some hope of a thaw now that Tesla is looking to diversify its supply chain outside China. But, but, but: “Musk has said his company won’t set up manufacturing plants in any location where it isn’t allowed to first sell and service its vehicles.” It isn’t clear if he’s changed his mind. (Bloomberg, paywall, Reuters)
Moving on to Twitter: Musk’s other company is being sued—along with Saudi officials—by the sister of a jailed aid worker. Abdulrahman al-Sadhan used an anonymous Twitter account to mock the Riyadh government. He was then abducted in 2018—and reappeared in a Saudi court in 2021 where he was sentenced to 20 years for his tweets. The reason for suing Twitter: two of its employees were revealed to be Saudi spies who turned over detailed user information to Riyadh—which is how al-Sadhan was identified. But also this:
The lawsuit by Areej al-Sadhan alleges that Twitter has become a “participant tool” in a campaign of transnational repression by Saudi authorities as part of the company’s effort to monetise its relationship with the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s second-largest investor, after Elon Musk.
The Guardian has more details. Separately, is Saudi Arabia becoming the ‘new’ China—with a finger in every pie around the world?
Amazon is getting more expensive
The ecommerce platform is hiking the fees and commissions it collects from sellers—across a wide range of categories, including apparel, beauty, groceries, medicines and electronics. It has hiked the rates for everything from storage to shipping and returns. The bad news for us: the rate hike will be passed on to the consumer:
“Marketplaces know that there will be a straight impact on pricing,” said one of the sellers who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Whatever is the change in commission, it is done more to change the behaviour of the seller. Marketplaces keep changing these rates based on what they want the consumers to see. So, if the commission goes up by 2%, naturally the prices also go up by 2%.”
So you can expect your shopping cart to get a little less affordable starting May 31. (Economic Times)
Meanwhile, over at Vodafone: Its new CEO Margherita Della Valle announced the biggest layoff in its history—culling 11,000 jobs over three years. Reuters has more on Vodafone’s woes in Europe.
Lock that WhatsApp chat!
The messaging app will allow users to put individual or group chats in a private folder—which can only be opened with a password or biometric authentication. Unlike your usual chats, the notifications for these will not have any preview information. The reason for this new feature:
We believe this feature will be great for people who share their phones from time to time with a family member, or in moments where someone else is holding your phone at the exact moment an extra-special chat arrives,
Translation: you don’t have to worry about being caught sexting by your fam lol! (The Hindu)
Say no to artificial sweeteners
The WHO has warned that sweeteners like aspartame, stevia derivatives and sucralose—which are sold as ‘diet’ alternatives—are bad for your health. They are linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even death. And here’s the kicker: they do very little to help reduce body fat—either in adults or kids. Why this is notable: WHO’s recommendation goes against earlier studies that concluded sweeteners don’t offer benefits—but are also not harmful. The organisation says we should consider just cutting back on sugar—by sticking to “naturally occurring sugars,” like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages. (New York Times)
Meet Saturn: Lord of the moons
There has been a great coup in our solar system. Until now, Jupiter was ruling the roost with its 92 moons—comfortably ahead of Saturn’s kitty of 83. But scientists have discovered 62 new moons orbiting the ringed planet—taking the official count to a gargantuan 145. To be clear, many of these satellites aren’t of great size—and are mostly fragments of larger moons. The smallest is 2.5 km in diameter—about two-thirds the length of Hollywood's Walk of Fame. In case you’re wondering, our moon goddess is the fifth largest in the solar system. Jupiter’s Ganymede remains the biggest of them all. (Gizmodo)
The artist formerly known as The Weeknd…
The Canadian pop star—of ‘Blinding Lights’ fame—has decided to dump his stage name and embrace the one he was born with: Abel Tesfaye. Yeah, well, there isn’t much more to say about that. CBS News has more if you need it.
Four things to see
One: Ok, wow! Martha Stewart is one of the cover models for Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition—at the age of 81! Talking about her photo shoot, she said: “And I don’t think about age very much, but I thought that this is kind of historic and that I better look really good.” So she does:) The Guardian has more from Stewart—and more deets.
Two: PM Modi visited the National Gallery of Modern Art to check out an exhibition titled ‘Jana Shakti: A Collective Power’—which commemorates the 100th episode of his radio show 'Mann ki Baat'. Unfortunately, photos like this:
Were cruelly photoshopped to look like this lol!
Three: Authorities in north Goa were befuddled by an unusual problem: a leopard stuck in a 25-metre coconut tree. The poor thing had been chased by stray dogs—and found safety in higher ground:
But luring it down was a challenge:
Using a tranquiliser dart to sedate the leopard was fraught with several risks. At that height, the leopard could fall off and get fatally injured. And if its leg got caught in the tree spathe, it could have put a lot of pressure on its heart.
Complicating matters: Minor drama with an angry eagle—which didn’t appreciate a big cat hanging out next to its nest. The good news: Once the rescue officials cleared the area of people, dogs and noise, the leopard clambered down in the middle of the night—after 18 hours!! (Indian Express)
Four: Ending with a happier animal story. Meet Molly the seven-year-old pooch running for mayor of Toronto. According to her campaign manager (and owner), Molly plans to enact a law requiring any mayor who breaks their promises to pick up poo for a year—“including hers.” (Toronto Star)