Friday, April 26, 2019

Number of the day: 253

The Sri Lankan government reduced the death toll of the bombings from 359 to 253. The blasts left a number of bodies in pieces which led to a calculation error. The downward revision means the attack is no longer the deadliest ever claimed by Islamic State. That ‘distinction’ still belongs to a series of bombings in Baghdad which killed 340 people in 2016.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Obama's bestie entering the presidential race 

Former Vice President Joseph Biden finally announced his candidacy for the Democratic party nomination after months of speculation. Let’s just say there are mixed feelings among the Democrats.


What happened? Joe Biden, former VP and eternal Obama BFF, finally took the plunge, announcing his decision to run in a campaign video. “The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America, America, is at stake,” he said. Biden took aim at President Trump’s offensive remarks about the death of a person protesting a white supremacist rally ("He said there were quote some very fine people on both sides.”). Trump’s response: “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign."


Tell me more about Biden: He is a centrist with a 40-year political career, and has run for president on two previous occasions. Most recently, he was a very visible member of the Obama White House—where he played the resident goofy but well-meaning uncle. His personal life has been tragic. His wife and one-year-old daughter died in a traffic accident in 1972. More recently, he lost his son Beau to brain cancer.


Can he take on Trump? Biden has been described as Trump’s most dangerous adversary. Why? Because of his blue-collar, middle-class message and image—which makes him very attractive to Obama voters who switched to Trump in key swing states like Ohio. As former Republican governor Chris Christie puts it, "His best argument is electability. If Biden can make it through the primaries, he's the one Dem candidate who appeals to the white working-class voters who handed the election to Trump — and could hand 2020 to Biden instead."


And that’s a big ‘if’:  There are now 20 candidates in the Democratic field, and many of them are fresh, young faces—notably Obama-esque hottie Beto O’Rourke, West Coast darling Kamala Harris, and most recent flavour of the month, Pete Buttigieg. And they are all running to the left of Biden, as are veteran favourites, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Seventy-six year old Biden may well end up looking like the out-of-touch old white guy in the pack. (See: the raging controversy over his ‘touchy-feely’ behaviour with women)


The bottomline: There are many hats in the Democratic ring. And Biden’s may be the most prominent because of his high-profile career. But that long track record also makes him far easier to take apart. Also: in terms of his policy positions, he has made it clear that he will run as an ‘Obama-Biden’ Democrat—i.e. ‘I am the closest thing to four more years of Obama’. For many young progressive Democrats who are pushing the party to the left, that brand of feel-good, middle-of-the-road politics may no longer be a selling point.


Learn more: For the quickest refresher on Biden, check out The Guardian’s snappy video. The New York Times looks at the five questions which will determine Biden’s fate. Washington Post asks if Biden has a woman problem. Buzzfeed analyses why the Obama connection may not be such an asset. Peter Beinart in The Atlantic lays out centrist hand-wringing over the Democratic Party’s leftward swing. OTOH, Vox damns Biden as the ‘Hillary Clinton of 2020’.

Bumble Bizz’s most inspiring women

Ok, we’re the ones talking about it, and we’re excited that our partner Bumble is rolling out an awesome campaign that will highlight amazing Indian women doing amazing things. So, ladies, throw your name in the hat and claim your spot in the limelight. You deserve it!


What is this about? Bumble, the social networking platform by women, for everyone, is looking for game-changing, inspiring business women from all walks of life to be a part of their campaign starring real women on Bumble.


Ok, so how do I participate? Whether you (or a woman you know) is an entrepreneur or a leader in business, government, medicine, or something else—Bumble wants to hear about it. Download Bumble in the App Store or on Google Play and go to Bumble Bizz to apply or nominate!

Note: This is sponsored content from a trusted brand partner.

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wondering if this election season is ever going to end

The first signs of communal backlash in Sri Lanka: At least 800 Pakistani refugees housed in Negombo have been forced to flee due to an angry mob attack on their shelter homes. They are members of the persecuted Ahmadiyya sect who have been living in transit for the past five years, waiting to be taken in by either New Zealand or Australia. (Times of India)

Does the Hindi heartland care more about Hindutva than jobs? This is the latest of several ground reports in the media indicating that a strong anti-Muslim sentiment is the primary driver of Hindi belt states voters. MN Parth reports: “My most disquieting observation from the ground is how okay the overwhelming majority of Hindus are with the persecution of Muslims, including some of the ghastliest cases of lynchings. Not everybody wants a Muslim lynched, but not many are bothered about it either.” (Firstpost)

Immortal dialogue from the Modi biopic: has sadly rendered it unsuitable for release during election time. So concluded the Election Commission after being ordered by the Supreme Court to watch the movie and render its judgement.  The problem: It includes 17 lines such as, “Apni toh bas ek hi baat hai ki ek din ek sachha mard Dilli ki kursi par baithe. Jis din usne hamare haath khol diye, un saalon ke ghar main ghus kar unhain maarenge” (I wish one day a real man comes to power in Delhi. The day that man gives us a free hand, we’ll hit them inside their homes). Added bonus of EC’s early movie review: we now know who writes Modi’s speeches. (Quint)

The new must-ask ‘first date’ question: for Brits is every bit as sad as predictable. Behaviour psychologists are now recommending they ask that Tinder hottie, “How did you vote on Brexit?”—and as early as possible. The top five must-ask list also includes “If you lost your wallet do you think it would be returned?” Check please! (Mirror)

This is called epic #LogoFail: A church called Christian Life International had a viral moment when someone tweeted out its softball team’s logo, which looks like this. Amazing the damage a badly placed cross can do.

Things that don’t cure cancer: include “gau mutra and panchgavya mixed ayurvedic herbs”—though BJP candidate Pragya Thakur has long insisted that this magic recipe vanquished her breast cancer back in 2010. Except she never had breast cancer.... An inconvenient fact now revealed by the doctor who examined her at that time. Now all the top Mumbai oncologists are very, very angry at her bullshit—which can’t win elections either… or so we hope! (Mumbai Mirror)

Pirates of the subcontinent: 'Avengers: Endgame' is already out… on the pirated web thanks to TamilRockers. No one steals shit better than us. (Times of India)

The dick pic detector is here! Bumble’s parent company is getting ready to unveil the "Private Detector"—an AI tool that will detect and block images that contain nudity or other explicit content from being uploaded to user profiles. If it lands in your DM? It will be blurred unless you ‘opt’ to click on it. (Inc)

Your feel-good Friday round-up: includes the following:

  • The inspiring news that Lego has created braille bricks for blind and visually impaired children.

  • The ‘Life Saving Wax’ campaign in the UK is targeting beauty salons to encourage women to have cervical cancer screenings. What’s with the name? The idea is that women—who most often don’t get tested out of embarrassment—will be more comfortable discussing the subject with women who give them “intimate waxing treatments.”

  • The Indian Army issued its first job ad for women jawans—which is a historic first. Until now, women were inducted only at the officer level.

  • Left stranded by the government and their company, Jet employees are being rescued by other companies—including rival airlines—who have reached out with job offers.

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Stuff we buy, use or love

Tech accessories we swear by
Buy any kind of tech device, and you will need accessories—either to lug them around or keep them safe. Here are three unique choices we’ve personally found stylish and super useful.
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When you want to travel light on your night…

The AIO Mobile Sling is the perfect solution. As we ladies know, there’s nothing more inconvenient than a giant handbag when you’re painting the town red. This stylish leather number is designed to hold exactly what you need: credit cards, cash, phone, and lipstick. No rummaging around for anything ever. (For the men in your life, there’s this version, as well.)  

Price: Rs 1,999 | AIO Mobile Sling |

The informer 2

When you’re constantly dropping your phone…

Opt for Speck. Fancy smartphones are lovely but also absurdly fragile. But there’s no point in buying a nice phone only to stuff it into an ugly industrial-strength case. Behold the beauty of Speck Presidio Grip, which has two layers of military-grade protection plus textured ridges for extra grip. And its raised bezel keeps your screen extra safe. Also: looks very cool!

Price: Varies with make/colour | Speck Presidio Grip Case |

The informer 3

When you're lugging around your laptop…

Just say MUJI. We know finding a decent work bag can be a challenge. The leather ones are easily bruised, and most standard nylon ones look like crap. But this one checks all the boxes: sleek, water repellent, lightweight, and super easy to keep clean. Ours still looks good after more than two years of abuse.

Price: Rs 3,143 | MUJI Black Business Bag |

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