Thursday, April 4, 2019

Number of the day: 1.2 million

That’s the number of Indians who died due to air pollution in 2017. The State of Global Air 2019 report shows that India is poised to overtake China as the nation with the most polluted air. While China’s fatality numbers are similar, they are on a downward trajectory, The average Indian loses two years and six months in life expectancy due to air pollution—10 months more than the global average.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Virat Kohli's inglorious losing streak  

The captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore is under fire for his team’s dismal performance—with fans and the media raising questions about his leadership.


What happened? RCB is rock-bottom of the IPL league with precisely zero points, having now lost all four of its matches. Making it worse for Kohli, the Indian team also recently lost three One Day Internationals against Australia at home. Hence all the hue and cry. RCB fans are literally begging him to step down as captain, and newspaper editorials are already asking, “[S]hould Kohli’s captaincy of Team India be put under the scanner? Is Kohli the batsman great and Kohli the captain below par?”


What has Kohli done wrong? He is being criticised for his erratic and “confused” decision-making—be it with team selection or batting order. Others say he is distracted by the upcoming World Cup. Then there’s the long-term picture. Despite its line up of  mega-stars, RCB under Kohli has come sixth and eighth in recent IPLs. He also has the worst win rate (46.39%) among the top IPL captains. There is also the chatter about MS Dhoni.


The Dhoni factor: It’s inevitable that every struggling leader will be compared to his successful predecessor. It certainly doesn’t help that India’s most beloved ex-captain is the leader of the winning Chennai Super Kings -- who also beat RCB in its opening game. But far more insidious is the ‘Kohli without Dhoni’ line of thinking that is gaining strength.


What’s that about? Dhoni retired as captain for ODI matches back in January 2017, but has stayed on the Indian team—and Kohli continues to rely on his advice to make decisions. That’s all very nice, but when Dhoni sat out the last couple of ODIs against Australia, Indian Express ran with the damning headline, “Minus MS Dhoni, captain Virat Kohli seems cagey and pedantic.” Bishan Singh Bedi called him “visibly rough.” And that theme is now gathering steam with the IPL.


Dhoni the babysitter: With the IPL losses, even BCCI officials are telling reporters VK can’t get it together without MSD by his side: “Dhoni helps Kohli make decisions and also guides the bowlers like you would have seen time and again… He can also focus on his batting when Dhoni is around. See his scores in the last seven games that you are mentioning. Dhoni was there is Ranchi and Kohli scored 123. After that, the scores read 7, 20, 6, 46, 3 and 23.” Increasingly, Dhoni is seen less as an unofficial ‘co-captain’ and more as Kohli’s babysitter—at least in the ODI format.


Why do I care, again? Oh please, this is cricket and we live in India. Also: The World Cup is round the corner. Hence the state of high anxiety about a couple of IPL matches. Happily for the nation’s fans, Mahi aka Mary Poppins is on the team, and right by Virat-baba’s side. (Yes, we’re being a little mean😉)

Learn more: Scroll has the best analysis of Kohli’s record at RCB. Indian Express analyses his latest IPL woes. CricTracker has the take from the unnamed BCCI official. Times of India issues a damning editorial. Just as damning is this April Fools joke that had Kohli ceding his captaincy to Dhoni.

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weeping over the weather forecast

Vijay Mallya is ‘broke’: Or so his lawyers claimed in a UK court, fending off attempts by Indian banks to seize his assets in the country. What is Mallya’s definition of ‘broke’? A weekly allowance of £18,000 (Rs 16.21 lakh) a week. That paltry amount has forced him to rely on his partner/wife Pinky Lalwani and kids, and to borrow £84,000 (Rs 75.7 lakh) from his personal assistant. That’s a very well-paid personal assistant. (Times of India)


Oops, Facebook does it again! Two third-party Facebook apps stored user data on Amazon's cloud servers in a way that allows the information to be easily viewed and downloaded. One company, Cultura Colectiva, stored 146 gigabytes of data, which included 540 million records, including comments, likes, reactions and account names. The other, At the Pool, exposed unprotected Facebook passwords for 22,000 users. (Bloomberg)


The Mueller report is back in play: The House Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena for the full report, declaring “this committee requires the full report and the underlying materials because it is our job, not the attorney general’s, to determine whether President Trump has abused his office.” This sets up a “historic fight” with the Justice Department as the AG is only willing to release a redacted version of the report to Congress. (USA TODAY)


Details of the Dehradun boarding school horror: are truly horrific. The 12-year old was tortured to death by his seniors, and the school buried his body to hide the crime. Before he died, the child endured this: “He was allegedly made to wrap his arms and legs around a pipe and was thrashed by a bat and stumps by two of his seniors. He was then stripped naked and drenched in cold water. His mouth was then stuffed with ‘Kurkure’ and biscuits, shoved down the throat with the help of a bucket full of filthy water from the toilet.” This went on for six hours. (The Print has the wrenching details)


It’s gonna be a long hot, dry summer: The heat waves have arrived early. Now comes news from meteorologists that the long-awaited monsoon is likely to be disappointing and off to “a very sluggish start." Rainfall will be 7% below the normal average. Areas most affected: Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand, parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, along with the northeastern states. (NDTV)


Brunei’s brutish new laws: The punishment for rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sex and insulting the Prophet Muhammed will now be death by stoning. Celebs like George Clooney and Ellen Degeneres are pushing for a boycott of its Sultan’s hotels, which include Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. (Time)


WhatsApp launches a ‘fake news’ tipline: Here’s how it works. Send a suspicious message to +91 9643000888. Reply with ‘1’ to confirm when asked. The service will either verify its accuracy or let you know if it is unverifiable at this time. Also coming from WhatsApp: a new feature that allows you to block pesky group invites.


The ‘Kalank’ trailer is here: and appears to involve a love quadrangle between Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Aditya Roy Kapur and Sonakshi Sinha. (YouTube)


The ‘Meghan & Harry’ Insta account is here: and appears to confirm the break between the two princelings/bahus who once shared @KensingtonRoyal and a home at Kensington Palace. It has all the makings of a family soap opera. (ET Online)


Eeny, meeny, miny, moe: Not inspired by the choices in the upcoming election? Santosh Desai makes the case for casting a ‘negative vote’. (Times of India)


Anish Kapoor has a new muse: Brexit. The latest artwork is titled ‘A Brexit, A Broxit, We All Fall Down’. Guardian’s art critic writes, “Kapoor has captured our morbid obsession with the futile chasm of Brexit, the perverse character of a nation that wants, in some sad corner of itself, to be back in the trenches.” Enuf said. (The Guardian)


Also an art muse, sashimi: This Japanese man makes gorgeous dragons and princesses out of freshly sliced meat for his kids. And Insta fans can’t get enough of it. His children are like ‘meh’. But of course. (Buzzfeed)


Malabar giant squirrels are a global sensation: Photographs of the multicoloured critters taken by an amateur photographer, Kaushik Vijayan, have gone viral—and for good reason. Think Holi-meets-rodent. (The Independent)


Hong Kong has a wildlife problem: Wild boars are roaming the city of high rises and highways. One reason for this invasion: the residents love the pigs, and won’t stop feeding them. (National Geographic)


5D porn is here: Amsterdam unveiled its first 5D porn cinema. Your X-rated experience now includes air jets, water cannons and vibrating seats. TBH, it sounds more fun than raunchy. (Daily Mail)

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The ‘not so fine dining’ edition

There’s a lot of ink spilt on fine eating establishments. But what about the dishes and restaurants we all take for granted? Here are two very different takes on everyday dining.


The Myth of Cheap Fast Food

 When you chow down on that Big Mac, you know you’re eating unhealthy.  But did you know you are also being duped? There are multiple ways in which that ‘cheap’ fast food chains are secretly siphoning extra cash out of your wallet. Here are seven of them. (Video is better, but if you prefer to read/skim, the article is here)

Watch: 7 Sneaky Ways Fast Food Restaurants Get You To Spend Money | Business Insider

Sex, Love etc 2

A Culinary Visit to a Rat Infested Big Apple

“My first culinary encounter was with pizza, a mysterious kind of baked tlayuda, covered in macerated tomatoes and milk coagulation, and occasionally smothered with a type of thinly sliced lap cheong called pepperoni,” writes Lucas Kwan Peterson of his trip to “the concrete dystopia of what is seemingly an unlivable urban wasteland.” This delightful West Coast spoof skewering New York’s pretentiousness is a hilarious read.  

Read: For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene | LA Times

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