Thursday, September 05, 2019

Cities of the day

Bangkok is the most popular destination in the world for international visitors—22.78 million of them in 2018. And the number is expected to grow another 3.34% this year. Folks who most like to spend that night in Bangkok (in order): China, Japan, South Korea, India and the United Kingdom. Paris and London are #2 and #3 respectively. In related news: Vienna is the most livable city in the world, followed by Melbourne and Sydney. Least livable: Damascus followed by Lagos and Dhaka.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


The biggest news story today, explained.

image orange sidebar everyone's talking about image orange sidebar

Boris Johnson’s ongoing Brexit debacle

It’s been a very eventful week in London with the Brexit mess unfolding like a made-for-Netflix political satire. Well, here’s what happened on the latest episode.

The recap: If you haven’t been following the Brexit story, our last week’s explainer is the best and fastest way to catch up.


Where we left BoJo: On Monday, the PM lost his majority in Parliament when one of his party’s members defected, and 21 other members voted with the Opposition to seize control of the House of Commons agenda. In response, Johnson effectively kicked the 21 rebels out of the party and declared his intention to call a snap election. (Yesterday’s Broadsheet has all the details)

On Wednesday’s episode: Johnson’s woes multiplied. Here’s what happened in Parliament:

  • The MPs once again banded together and passed a bill that prevents Johnson from forcing a no-deal Brexit. The EU deadline is October 31—by which date the Parliament has to approve the existing Brexit deal or Britain will have to leave without a deal. As per the bill, if Johnson is unable to negotiate a new deal by October 19, he will have to go ask the EU for an extension until January 31.

  • The MPs also refused to back Johnson’s proposal to hold a snap election around mid-October. He fell woefully short of the two-thirds majority required. The reason: The Opposition wants to avoid a scenario where Johnson may win an October 15 election and go ahead with his no-deal Brexit plan. 

  • Johnson also got entirely unrelated grief from Labour Party MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi who demanded he apologise for "derogatory and racist remarks" comparing women who wear burkas to "bank robbers and letterboxes." Watch the clip here.

Coming up next: A general election—the third in just five years. Just to be safe, the Opposition will wait until the bill passes the House of Lords and is approved by the Queen. And then they will support a call for a general election—which is now inevitable since Johnson is 43 seats short of a working majority. It may be held in mid-October as Johnson wants or it may be pushed into November. The date depends on the political calculations of the Labour Party whose support is required to get that two-thirds majority.

Will Johnson win? Boris Johnson has helped boost the Conservative Party whose poll numbers went up from 28% to 34% since he took office. But those voters were polled before this week’s debacle. His multiple defeats in Parliament and—far worse—decision to oust some of the most respected members of his own party may have done serious damage. But hey, his buddy Trump remains confident, telling reporters, “Boris knows how to win. Don't worry about him. He's going to be okay."

What about the Labour party? Its leader Jeremy Corbyn is, umm, polarising. He is deeply disliked outside his party and isn’t all that popular among sections of his own. More importantly, he has long waffled on Brexit—neither supporting or opposing it whole-heartedly. This has led to a surge in popularity of the one stoutly Remain party, Liberal Democrats—which is currently polling at 18%.

The bottomline: The outcome of a general election is every bit as uncertain as the future of Brexit itself. No one knows who will win or whether Britain will remain or leave the EU—and on what terms. All of which ensures that the political drama will remain riveting in the months to come. 

Learn more: Here’s the best reporting and analysis elsewhere:

  • Washington Post offers an excellent overview while BBC sums up the highlights of yesterday’s action.
  • On BoJo’s electoral prospects, Politico is optimistic while CNBC far less so. The polling expert over at The Guardian says the election is way too close and volatile to call.
  • More from Politico: An excellent read on what the future holds for Boris, Brexit and Britain.
  • Also from The Guardian: This amusingly scathing and colourful takedown of Johnson.
  • On a lighter note: Theresa May looked ecstatic after BoJo lost his majority; this MP was caught picking (and eating!) his snot right in the midst of a heated debate (flash poll: is that better or worse than being caught watching porn? Vote on our Insta today!).
Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


vowing to drive very, very carefully to work

A shocking rape and a shocking lack of coverage: An eight-year old girl was raped in the toilet of a government school. The alleged perpetrators: A sixth class boy (likely 11-12 years old) AND his two younger brothers. The police did not file an FIR for 15 days—with the local police and leaders trying instead to broker a “compromise.” The child is now in the hospital as her health has deteriorated. What’s even more shocking: the only story we can find in English-language media is this wire story carried by India Today, Gulf News, and the Daily Mail. Note to the many editors/journos who read us: please share more/other reporting on this case if available.

Photos of Dorian devastation: As the hurricane moves on to the coastline of the United States, the extent of devastation in the Bahamas is now becoming clear. Daily Mail has dramatic satellite images and ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. 

A cheap iPhone cometh: Apple’s sales have been steadily weakening thanks to its sky-high pricing strategy and fierce competition from upstart rivals like Huawei. In response, it plans to revive the cheaper iPhone SE which retailed for $399 back in 2016. We don’t know anything more about the new version except that it will go on sale next year. (Nikkei Asian Review)

CRPF flags failures in Pulwama: The government has denied it till they’re blue in the face, but an internal inquiry report says there was a serious intelligence failure and lax security—which in turn enabled the suicide terror attack which killed 40 CRPF men. (India Today)

That crazy Mumbai rain: The deluge on Wednesday shut down the entire city as Mother Nature dumped 206.6 mm of rain in just six hours. Here are the highlights:

  • There literally were ‘waterfalls’ pouring down the side of buildings in Wadala and Cuffe Parade.

  • The roads were flooded in many parts of the city. In Goregaon, kids were swimming (!) in the streets.

  • And everyone moaned about sky-high Uber fares.

  • Amidst the memes and complaints, Mumbai Mirror reported on a plan to cut 2,702 trees in the Aarey forest which will lead to even more flooding in the future—especially around the international airport. It’s an important reminder to pay attention to cause rather than effect.

Cancer is the number one killer: in high income and upper middle income countries. In low income countries like India, a person is three times as likely to die of heart disease compared to cancer. But in a wealthier Canada or Saudi Arabia, a person is twice as likely to die of cancer. And a previous US-focused study showed that a similar pattern holds true within a country as well. The reason: people of means can afford early detection and intervention which is critical in treating cardiovascular diseases. (CNN)

Shiv Sena’s beef with Netflix: One of its members has filed a complaint with the Mumbai police accusing the platform of hurting Hindu sentiments. It reads: “Almost every series on Netflix India is with the intention to defame the country on a global level. It is with deep-rooted Hinduphobia that the platform is portraying the nation in a bad light." So it begins. (NDTV)

Priyanka Chopra goes all in on Aravind Adiga: She will be starring in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of his novel ‘The White Tiger’ alongside Rajkummar Rao. Well, we’ve always said PC’s talent is far greater than the roles she often chooses to play. So we’re delighted to see her make this ambitious move. In case you’re wondering what the novel is about, here’s a review of the Booker prize winner. In related news: The mighty Aadhar card is getting its own movie titled, what else, ‘Aadhar’. Drishyam Films tweeted out the movie poster with the message: “Meet Pharsua, the first person from his village to enrol for a card that can ru(i)n his life!” Sounds like a reality show.

Lata Mangeshkar is not impressed: Ranu Mondal attained viral fame when she was recorded singing a Lata song at a railway station. Everyone loved this Cinderella story except Mangeshkar herself who has snottily dismissed her as a wannabe: “But I also feel imitation is not a reliable and durable companion for success. By singing my songs or Kishore da’s, or Rafi Saab’s, or Mukesh bhaiyya or Asha’s numbers, aspiring singers can get short-term attention. But it won’t last.” Er, Lata-ji, Mondal landed her Bollywood contract because of her amazing voice—not the song she happened to be singing. And she is already recording two new songs for an upcoming film. So chill maadi please. (Quint)

Watch out for those hefty traffic fines: especially if you’re driving in Gurgaon. The police have been doling out tickets as high as Rs 32,500 thanks to the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act—and they are wearing body cameras! This poor guy now has to pay Rs 23,000 for a variety of sins committed while driving his Rs 15,000 scooter. (Vice)

Dear Kolkatans, watch out for sky-high airfares: It’s Durga Puja season and airlines are eager to make the most of your annual migration to your hometown. For example: Delhi-Kolkata now costs Rs 10,500 even if you book a month in advance. But not to worry. They’re just waiting until Diwali and Christmas to gouge the rest of us. (Mint)

Your daily quota of sunshine items: include the following:

  • The brilliant news that Amazon India will weed out single-use plastic packaging by June 2020.

  • Netflix and Swiggy flirting on Twitter.

  • The former Pakistani High Commissioner to India who doesn’t know the difference between a Kashmiri pellet victim and a porn star.

  • The fantastic news that scientists in Gujarat have developed a needle-less injection. It’s truly very cool. 

  • Remember the viral clip of the Bangalore artist who filmed himself moonwalking over the city’s potholes? Well, it shamed the municipal authorities into filling said potholes within 24 hours. Lol!

  • This heartwarming video from Animal Aid Unlimited which tells the story of a frantic and determined streetie mother who led their rescuer to her puppies buried under the debris of a collapsed house. We share a lot of animal clips but this one from Udaipur is special.

  • Panda baby twins named Hong and Kong.

  • Many animals love a belly rub, but turtles would like you to brush their shells, please! No, really… just watch these little guys in Singapore scramble for a scrub.
Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

image teal sidebar The pop up image teal sidebar

The ‘Women in Art’ Edition'

As with all else in our gendered world, women are more often revered as art than as artists (See: Mona Lisa). But here are two delightful ways to reclaim our selves on canvas.


A breast is a breast is a breast

Artist Indu Harikumar draws breasts—big and small, perky or sagging, some with stretch marks, others with tattoos. And they are crowdsourced through photos sent in by women across India. In a culture that both reduces a woman to her body parts and then shames her for it, Harikumar’s art reclaims our breasts and their stories.

Watch: Breaking the Myth of Value Based on Women's Chest Size | Now This News

Sex, Love etc 2

A list of every woman’s party nightmare

We adore this very cheeky take on Western art. The accompanying captions made us laugh out loud. To say more would be to ruin it. 

Read: Women Having A Terrible Time At Parties In Western Art History | The Toast 

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo

Or just select, copy and send this link to your friends and you score some cool swag in the process:
Follow us on
Facebook logo Instagram logo Twitter logo

Be an Ambassador

To connect with one another, get unique access, invites to private events,
exclusive content and much more.
Not a subscriber? Sign up here.
Unsubscribe Unsubscribe from this list.
Our mailing address is:
Copyright (C) *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|* All rights reserved.