Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Big news for Alzheimer’s treatment
The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday granted full approval to the drug Leqembi—which is the first medicine proven to slow the course of the degenerative disease. The drug slows the rate of cognitive decline by 27%—by clearing amyloid plaque build-ups in the brain that are associated with AD. Side-effects include brain swelling or bleeding—and it isn’t a magic bullet. Leqembi is only recommended for patients with mild dementia—and is not a cure. CNN has more details. We highly recommend our Big Story on why Alzheimer’s remains a mystery disease.
School principal assaulted for prayer
The principal of a high school in Pune—Alexander Coates Reid—was attacked by a mob of workers from Hindutva groups accompanied by parents. The reason for their rage: students are asked to recite the Lord’s Prayer—’Our father who art in heaven’. They also claim that the school had installed a CCTV camera inside the girl’s bathroom—which turned out to be false. FYI: the school had agreed to address all their complaints in a meeting—and yet they assaulted the principal right after.
According to police officials, the school has not lodged a complaint—but the parents and Bajrang Dal activists tried to do so:
We have not converted their complaint into an FIR. On visiting the school, and looking at the evidence, it is clear that Ried was targeted because of his Christian identity. There is no evidence pointing to the allegation that he was involved in religious conversion or sexual harassment of girl children, as alleged in the complaint submitted to the police.
Google India claims pro-Amazon bias
In an odd twist, the company has approached the Supreme Court claiming that India’s antitrust regulator ordered changes to its business model "only to protect" Amazon. The Competition Commission of India's (CCI) has ordered Google to make 10 changes to its business model. The reason: it is accused of abusing its position in the Indian market—since Android powers 97% of India's smartphones. And here’s where Amazon comes in: it told the CCI that Google's restrictions hindered development of its version of Android called Fire OS for a Fire Phone—which never got off the ground. What we’re wondering: why isn’t the company complaining about the Jio Bharat phone—which won’t even allow users to download Google apps. (Reuters)
In other biz-tech news: The valuation of Indian online pharmacy Pharmeasy has nosedived from $5.6 billion at its last fund raise in 2021 to an astonishing $500-600 million. Much like Byju’s, this is about unpaid loans. Economic Times explains.
Rice is getting pricey
Global prices of rice are the highest in 11 years. The reason: the minimum support price offered by the government to farmers. It is driving up the cost of rice across the world: “The price of Indian rice exports has jumped 9% to a five-year high, following a hike of 7% last month in the price the government pays farmers for new-season common rice. Reminder: tomato prices are also soaring—and hit Rs 162 per kg this week. Reuters explains how El Nino will affect the global rice market. We looked at its impact on India in this Big Story.
In other worrying news: We just survived the hottest June on record—right after we experienced the hottest days (July 3 and 4) on record. All of which will have a huge impact on agriculture. (Axios)
ChatGPT has a paywall problem
The AI chatbot had to suspend a new feature that allows paid customers to use it in conjunction with the Microsoft browser Bing—which was introduced just last week. The reason: it lets you access paywalled content: “Browse with Bing basically turned the chatbot into a web browser that can display the full contents of a paywalled website when a user provides the chatbot with a URL.” It’s like reading the Wall Street Journal or Business Standard without paying for a sub. Or splainer:( FYI: ChatGPT is dropping in popularity. Its traffic decreased by 9.7% in June from May. (Gizmodo)
Get ready for ‘Project K’
The hugely-anticipated Indian big-budget sci-fi film—known as ‘Project K’—will unveil exclusive footage at the San Diego Comic-Con. The movie will be directed by ‘Mahanati’ filmmaker Nag Ashwin—and stars Prabhas, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan and Disha Patani. We are very intrigued by the description put out by its producers: “This exclusive event will transport guests into India’s most ambitious cinematic universe yet with their captivating storytelling, futuristic setting, and ‘Spice Punk’ aesthetic inspired by the film.” (Variety)
Three things to see
One: Climate change activists have built a reputation for being disruptive—and lots of times just plain annoying (see: attacking priceless art). Their latest target: Wimbledon. Just Stop Oil protesters interrupted play twice on court 18 by throwing orange-coloured confetti and jigsaw pieces. (BBC News)
Two: Get ready for the teaser for ‘Salaar’—which is part of the ambitious universe-building project of Prashant Neel. The movie exists in the same universe as the KGF franchise—and is likely to crossover. Sorta like Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan) and Tiger (Salman Khan) in ‘Pathaan.’ (Deadline)
Three: ‘Sex Education’ lovers, the trailer for the final season just dropped. It’s the end of school and on to college. What we’re really hoping: it won't be all about Otis and Maeve. We’re kinda over the whole ‘will they, won’t they’ breadcrumbing that Hollywood specialises in. The series releases on Netflix on September 21. (Buzzfeed)