Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Baby of the day

The highly anticipated royal spawn has finally arrived. Meghan and Harry are now proud parents of a baby boy whose name is as yet unknown. What we do know: He weighs 7lbs 3oz (3.2 kilos). The birth was announced on Instagram, also by his delirious and incoherent father (who thanked his horses in his ecstatic confusion), and in typical officious style by the town crier.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The calamitous extinction rate of species

A new UN committee report—described as “the most comprehensive assessment of global nature loss ever"—warns that we are losing species at an “unprecedented” rate.


What is this report? The 1,500-page report was released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which is a UN committee. It was authored by 145 experts from 50 countries.


How bad is it? Bad, very bad. Here are its main findings:

  • One million of the planet's eight million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction.

  • The global rate of species extinction "is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years."

  • 40% of amphibians, 33% of coral reefs and over a third of all marine mammals are in imminent danger of being wiped out.


Why is this happening? Short answer: human beings. The longer list of reasons includes:

  • We have altered 75% of all land and 66% of all marine environments since pre-industrial times due to activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining.

  • In 2015, a third of the marine life was being fished at unsustainable levels.

  • The accelerating level of global warming has put 50% of all threatened mammals and 25% of birds in even greater danger of extinction.

  • Marine plastic pollution is ten times higher than in 1985. We now dump 300-400 million tons of waste into our oceans every year.

  • 100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost from 1980 to 2000, resulting mainly from cattle ranching in Latin America and palm oil plantations in South-East Asia (palm oil is used mostly in food, cosmetics, cleaning products and fuel).


Why does this matter? The crisis is no longer about the selfishness of human beings, or our responsibility to take care of our planet. As the IPBES chair made clear: "We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” In destroying nature, we are sowing the seeds of our own destruction.


Is too late? No, but it will require drastic systemic interventions at the governmental level. There are two high-level global summits slated for 2020 where governments will set new climate and environment protection targets. Also: the report will hopefully strengthen activist movements around the world, creating greater pressure on leaders to act.


The bottomline: is best summed up by WWF official Guenter Mitlacher who told CNN: "Ours is the first generation with the tools to see how the Earth has been changed by people at our own peril. We're also the last generation with the opportunity to influence the course of many of those changes. Now is the time to act, not halfheartedly and incrementally but drastically and boldly."

Learn more: Axios and CNN offer a quick overview of the findings. The IPBES explains its findings in greater detail on its website.

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bingeing on mangoes in every shape and form

Supreme Court’s sexual harassment inquiry reaches ugly end: The internal probe concluded that it “found no substance” in a former SC worker’s allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. The entire proceeding took just four days. The complainant walked out on the third day, but the three-judge committee continued with the inquiry. Justice Chandrachud reportedly wrote a letter to the panel raising concerns about the “serious denial of fair process.” How did they arrive at their decision? What evidence did they consider? We will never know because as part of its ruling “the Report of a Committee constituted as a part of the In-House Procedure is not liable to be made public.” Also read: Gautam Bhatia’s scathing op-ed on the ruling. (Indian Express)


Your ‘men behaving appallingly’ update is here: and it includes:

  • This new study that finds a strong correlation between location and sexually aggressive behaviour among college men in the US. Those who regularly binge drink at parties and bars are far more likely to “expect” to hook up, and hence misbehave.

  • A respected Seattle Times reporter whose DMs to a woman about freelancing in New York took this bizarre and ugly turn. He’s since been suspended.

  • This unhinged “aerospace engineering student” haranguing an assistant editor at The Print.


The wild, wild looks at the Met Gala: It’s the one red carpet event where celebs stop being boring and channel their most uninhibited style. Given that this year’s theme was ‘camp’, we had high expectations which were not disappointed. Lady Gaga made a show-stopping  strip tease entrance—matched only by Billy Porter being carried in by his shirtless assistants in true Egyptian pharaoh-style. Hailey Barber’s Alexander Wang thong made news. And since you really need to know, this is what Priyanka and Nick wore. But we also enjoyed Katy Perry-meets-chandelier look and Cardi B’s red feather extravaganza. Refinery 29 has the entire gallery of looks.


Kerala may have a new mascot: The purple frog is slated to become Kerala’s first state amphibian. It’s nicknamed Maveli after the mythical king Mahabali and the species may be as old as the dinosaurs. (Indian Express)


A coronation makes for excellent eye candy: Hence, this photo gallery of the crowning of Thai King Vajiralongkorn (CNN)


Now tattoos are truly forever: The latest trend in America is embalming body tattoos. Umm, that’s right. People don’t want their tats to ‘die’ with them so that bit of skin is surgically removed, and then mounted and framed behind UV-protective glass. Gives a whole new meaning to wall art. (BBC)


Your daily dose of adorbs: is this ridiculously cute golden retriever puppy that is being trained to be a police “comfort dog” for victims of trauma. Unlike his drug-sniffing peers, Zane’s sole job is to be cuddly—and as the clip reveals, he’s already very good at it. And in case cat lovers feel left out, here’s a clip of the fabulous feline which gate-crashed a Dior runway.


The preview of Sacred Games, Season 2: is right here. We spot Kalki Koechlin and Pankaj Tripathi.


In related Netflix news: Its new game show ‘Flinch’ involves electric shocks, rats, and dunking people in cold water… because torture is entertaining. Here’s the trailer which we passed on.  (Newshub)


Game of Thrones featured an unexpected prop: A Starbucks cup.


It’s the last day of Bumble Bizz’s campaign: It’s your last chance to nominate either yourself or another woman who has been an inspiring game-changer—be it in business, government, medicine, or some other field. Bumble will showcase them as part of their awesome campaign starring real women on Bumble. So, hurry, download Bumble in the App Store or on Google Play or go to Bumble Bizz to apply or nominate!

(Note: This is sponsored content from a trusted brand partner)

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The 'Fierce Women in Music' Edition

This is our tribute to two women who belong to musical traditions that are literally worlds apart. What they share: an uncommon and memorable boldness.

The five avatars of Madonna

Madonna’s rule-breaking life and career need no introduction. Just when someone writes her off, there she is… way ahead of the curve. So it isn’t surprising that the talk of this year’s Billboard Awards was this eye-popping, visually stunning performance featuring five Madonnas—the real one playing her eye-patched alter ego, Madam X, alongside four of the augmented reality kind. That it’s a duet with the very hot Colombian singer Maluma doesn’t hurt either. 

Watch: Medellín by Madonna feat. Maluma | YouTube

Sex, Love etc 2

Gauhar Jaan, the original nightingale of India

She was born Eileen Yeoward in 1873 to an Anglo-Indian mother and an Armenian Christian father. As a child, she converted to Islam, and later became a famous courtesan in Kolkata. But she achieved true fame in 1902 when she cut her first gramophone record. By the end of her career, she’d recorded close to 600 records in over 10 languages, ranging from the khayal to thumri to the bhajan. And all through her life, one thing remained true: Gauhar always called the shots.

Read & Listen: Gauhar Jaan, India’s first record artist, took Rs 3,000 a session & threw parties for her cat | The Print

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