Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
The great Amritpal manhunt: The latest update
The police have still not been able to track down the Waris Punjab De chief (more on Amritpal here, and on his escape here) while the union government is worried he may cross the Pakistan or Nepal border. Meanwhile, the Punjab police have charged five of his aides—including his uncle—under the stringent National Security Act. There is still no internet in the state—at least until noon today. And Twitter accounts of some journalists reporting from Punjab have been blocked.
Meanwhile, in London: A group chanting pro-Khalistan slogans took down the Indian flag at the High Commission on Sunday. The government summoned the British Deputy High Commissioner in Delhi to protest the vandalism and the lack of security—which is apparent below:
Meanwhile, in San Francisco: The local consulate was besieged by an angry mob who broke down security barriers and installed two Khalistani flags:
Emmanuel Macron survives no-confidence vote
This latest crisis was triggered by outrage at a new pension plan pushed through by his government—which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64. The French president used his constitutional power to pass the law without a parliamentary vote. But the same article of the constitution also allows lawmakers to introduce a no-confidence vote right after.
What happened now: Macron narrowly won a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly—which fell a mere nine votes short of the majority. The united left-right opposition effort didn’t succeed thanks to Nicholas Sarkozy’s party Les Républicains—which refused to support the motion. Quartz has more on the vote. The Guardian has details on the pension plan.
Meanwhile, in Russia: President Vladimir Putin hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a show of great camaraderie—aimed at the US and its allies. It is Xi’s first visit to Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine. CNN has more on why this trip matters.
Say hello to another desi superstar CEO!
Laxman Narasimhan will replace Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz—who stepped down two weeks ahead of schedule. In his legendary 41-year career, Schultz built Starbucks from a local Seattle chain into a global coffee empire—but faced fierce criticism for his labour practices and opposition to unions.
Narasimhan is an Indian-born success story like Sundar Pichai. He was born in Pune and followed the usual Indian engineering degree + Ivy League MBA track. He previously was the CEO of Reckitt—which owns brands like Lysol, Durex and Mucinex. He also worked at PepsiCo and McKinsey. No one knows his views on unions—so employees are hoping for a fresh start. CBS News has more on Narasimhan while Quartz has more on Schultz’s departure.
A radioactive cylinder scare in Thailand
A cylinder—containing the highly radioactive Caesium-137—was discovered to be missing at a coal power plant last week. Authorities immediately launched an intensive search. The reason for their urgency:
Experts warn that Caesium-137 can create serious health problems for people who come into contact with it: skin burns from close exposure, radiation sickness and potentially deadly cancer risks, especially for those exposed unknowingly for long periods of time. Caesium-137 has a half-life of about 30 years, which means it could pose a risk to the population for decades to come, if not found.
Yesterday, the cylinder was finally traced to a recycling foundry 10 kilometres from the power plant. Unfortunately, the cylinder—treated as scrap metal—has already been compressed into cubes ready to be smelted. Officials are testing the employees for exposure. They insist that the furnace used was a closed system—so radioactive particles could not escape from it. (Bloomberg News)
Amazon layoffs, continued
The company plans to lay off another 9,000 employees—on the heels of a recent round that axed 18,000 jobs. Why this round is notable:
The new layoffs, which amount to less than 3% of its corporate work force, will target workers in some of Amazon’s most profitable divisions, which had previously been spared, including Amazon’s cloud computing business and advertising operations. Those two segments of the business are much higher-margin operations than Amazon’s core retail business, according to financial analysts and filings.
Rupert Murdoch is getting hitched!
The media tycoon is getting married for the fifth time at the age of 92. The lucky bride this time: Ann Lesley Smith, a former police chaplain. Murdoch says: "I dreaded falling in love—but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I'm happy." Murdoch’s previous partners include Australian flight attendant Patricia Booker, Scottish-born journalist Anna Mann, Chinese-born entrepreneur Wendi Deng and former model Jerry Hall. Well, he certainly doesn’t have a type, right? (BBC News)
Also feeling happy: Finland—which is once again on top of the annual World Happiness Index. Also repeating its past performance: Afghanistan, which is at rock-bottom. India featured in the list of 20 least happy countries. (CNN)
A Women’s IPL controversy
West Indies all-rounder Deandra Dottin was signed by the Adani-owned Gujarat Giants for a whopping Rs 6 million (60 lakhs). But she was excluded from the squad right before the tournament kicked off. The reason cited by the franchise: she failed to get medical clearance. Dottin went on Twitter to express her unhappiness. She was experiencing “minor abdominal pain”—but insists that she was cleared by her doctor as early February 20. (The Hindu)
One sweet thing to see
Bruce Willis is suffering from a form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia or FTD. But that didn’t stop his family from celebrating his 68th birthday. Here’s a clip shared by his ex-wife Demi Moore. Aww. (The Hollywood Reporter)