Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Putin proposes a three-day truce
President Putin declared a unilateral 36-hour cease-fire in Ukraine this weekend for the Orthodox Christmas holiday. This is the first such order issued during this war. But it has been rejected by Ukraine. President Zelenskyy dismissed the Russian order: “Now they want to use Christmas as a cover to stop the advance of our guys in the Donbas for a while and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilized people closer to our positions.” (Associated Press)
A twist in the drag-and-run case
The police had arrested five suspects in the gruesome case—where a woman’s body was dragged for over an hour by a car. Prominent among them was the driver, of course. Deepak Khanna has now confessed that he was actually at home—which is confirmed by his mobile phone. But Khanna falsely owned up to driving the car since none of the men in the car had a driver’s licence. New details about the case also show that the men knew that Anjali Singh’s body was stuck to the tyre but kept driving—hoping it would fall off:
They were intentionally avoiding pickets and didn’t cross any borders to avoid checkpoints. They reached Kanjhawala Mor around 3 am and kept driving in circles, taking small cuts and turns to avoid police. Around 4 am, the body fell from the car.
Indian Express has more details.
Speaking of criminals: The identity of the person who peed on the Air India passenger has finally been revealed. Shankar Mishra is a vice-president at the US bank Wells Fargo—and lives in Mumbai. He is still on the run—and has eluded the police so far. (India Today)
WHO speaks up on China
WHO finally called out China for fudging all its numbers:
We believe the current numbers being published from China underrepresent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, particularly in terms of death.
The government has reported only five or fewer deaths since it lifted the zero-Covid policy. Yet cemeteries are overflowing in all the major cities. The reason for this undercount: it’s sharply narrowed the definition of a Covid death:
Late last month, the world's most populous country narrowed its definition for classifying deaths as COVID-related, counting only those involving COVID-caused pneumonia or respiratory failure, raising eyebrows among world health experts. The WHO says deaths should be attributed to COVID-19 if they result from a "clinically compatible illness" in a patient with a probable or confirmed infection, and no other unrelated cause of death—like trauma—is involved.
The good news: there is no sign of a new variant. (Reuters)
The tech bloodbath continues
This time it’s Amazon. CEO Andy Jassey announced that the company will be laying off 18,000 people this month. That’s 5% of its workforce. In terms of sheer numbers, that’s the biggest tech layoff so far. But Amazon employs 1.5 million people—and had more than doubled its workforce during the pandemic. Other companies' are higher in percentage: Meta (13%), Salesforce (10%) and Google (6%). (The Wall Street Journal, paywall, Quartz)
Playstation is now for everyone!
The company unveiled a new “accessibility controller” for PlayStation 5—designed for players with disabilities. Leonardo is specifically designed so that it can be used without being held: “Leonardo is circular in design and is made up of a number of large buttons and a single control stick, all of which gamers can rearrange to suit their needs.” (Sky News)
Yet another royal family bare-all
If it’s the new year then it must be time for the launch of Harry’s memoir ‘Spare’. The Guardian got an early excerpt—that immediately made the headlines. Harry alleges that his brother William hit him during an argument over Meghan:
He set down the water, called me another name, then came at me. It all happened so fast. So very fast. He grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor. I landed on the dog’s bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me. I lay there for a moment, dazed, then got to my feet and told him to get out.
Page Six got the other juicy bit: apparently, Will & Kate tricked a 20-year-old Harry into wearing a Nazi uniform for a costume party. We will have to wait to see what January 10—the official date of the launch—will bring.
A vaccine for bees
The US authorities have approved the world’s first-ever vaccine for honey bees—which protects them from a deadly bacterial disease called American foulbrood. It routinely destroys entire colonies—and there is no cure for it. So how do you administer a vaccine to a bee? It is mixed into the royal jelly—or bee milk—which worker bees feed the queen:
She ingests it, and fragments of the vaccine are deposited in her ovaries. Having been exposed to the vaccine, the developing larvae have immunity as they hatch.
PVR aur Lionsgate ki jodi
Lionsgate has inked an exclusive partnership deal with PVR Pictures for all its theatrical releases in 2023. The chain will get exclusive rights to its 2023 slate—which includes the next instalment of ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ and ‘The Hunger Games’. The first Lionsgate movies of 2023: ‘Plane’ starring Gerard Butler and Mike Colter. ICYMI, PVR is also gearing up for a mega merger with Inox—explained in our Big Story. (Mint)
Three things to see
One: Things are getting so ridiculous in India that outraged groups don’t even wait for a movie’s release to go on a rampage. For example, these guys from Bajrang Dal who are walloping a cut-out promoting SRK’s ‘Pathaan’ in Gujarat. We’re bored of explaining why—over and over again, but this TOI piece sums up why they’re angry at this music video.
Two: As you may know, the New York Film Critics Circle picked SS Rajamouli for best director this year. You can watch a snippet of his lovely acceptance speech below. The movie ‘RRR’ is also nominated for the Golden Globes, which will be held on January 11. (Indian Express)
Three: Smart beauty gadgets are coming to a store near you. L’Oreal unveiled two very cool devices. HAPTA is the first handheld makeup applicator designed for people with limited hand and arm mobility. L’Oréal Brow Magic, is the first at-home makeup applicator that gives you bespoke brows. Forbes (paywall) has more on how it works. This demo video shows you how the eyebrow tool works.