Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Number of the day: 2

India is now the second largest arms importer in the world, ceding its previous #1 position to Saudi Arabia. According to a new report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, our arms purchases dipped by 24% between 2014-2018. But it’s not because we are buying fewer weapons—it’s just that a number of Russian aircraft and French submarines haven’t been delivered as yet. And worry not military hawks! Pakistan is way down at #11.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Boeing’s worrying crash record

The Ethiopian Airlines crash is raising big questions about Boeing’s spanking new 737 Max jets. A number of countries have grounded that specific model, but India isn’t one of them.


Background please! On Sunday, an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed within six minutes of takeoff, killing all 157 of its passengers and crew. It marked the second time in less than six months that a Boeing 737 Max has crashed just minutes into a flight. Back in October, a Lion Air flight went down over the Java Sea in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.


Tell me more about this 737 Max: The 2017 model is the latest generation of the 737 jets. It is typically used for short-to-medium haul flights. According to Boeing, it is their fastest selling plane with 4700 orders from more than 100 customers. Airlines around the world fly the 737 Max, ranging from Air Canada to Icelandair to Air China (see full list here). The model comes in different series: 7, 8, 9, and 10. Both the planes which crashed belong to the 8 series.


What about India? Jet Airways and SpiceJet currently fly 17 such planes. Jet has pending orders for 200-plus 737 Max, while SpiceJet’s Boeing deal includes 155 more planes.


So what’s happening now? A number of countries have grounded their 737 Max 8 planes, including Indonesia and China—which has a massive fleet of 97 such planes. Ethiopian Airlines and Cayman Airlines have also followed suit. They are calling it an "extra safety precaution" until they have more information on the crash. Most other countries are not grounding their aircraft. Canadian authorities say any such action would be “premature,” noting that the model has reliably flown for “millions of hours.”


Again, what about India? Jet issued a statement that it is not flying any of the 737 Max in its fleet—but that’s most likely because of its financial woes. But the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has not pulled the model off flight duty. It has instead issued fresh directives which require additional safety checks, and stipulate that the pilot flying the aircraft have at least 1,000 hours of flying experience on a Boeing 737.


What’s next? Boeing is not issuing any new guidelines until it determines what happened in Addis Ababa. All we know right now is that the pilot -- who had flown 8,000 hours with an "excellent flying record"—asked to return to the airport due to “technical problems.” The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have both been recovered from the crash site. Meanwhile, Boeing’s stock has crashed by 12%.


Thbottomline: It is very rare for an aircraft model to experience two crashes under seemingly similar circumstances within such a short span of time. However, as of now, there is no hard evidence that they share a common underlying cause.

Learn more: Mint has the most details on the Indian airlines which fly the 737 Max. Reuters has the eyewitness account of the crash. BBC offers an in-depth explainer on the 737 Max, including how the Ethiopian Airlines craft differed from the Lion Air plane. New York Times reports on Boeing’s response to the tragedy, while Quartz explains why the company’s share price has an outsized impact on Wall Street.

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stocking up on your detergent supplies


Surf Excel earned the wrath of Hindutva trolls: with this lovely ad for its detergent. It shows a little girl helping her Muslim friend attend namaaz on Holi. It is allegedly ‘Hindu-phobic’ because it describes holi colours as a “daag” (stain on clothing), and encourages ‘love jihad’ because the friend is a boy.  We have no comment on such arrant stupidity. (Economic Times)


The next global flu pandemic is coming: and it’s “a matter of when, not if,” warns the World Health Organisation. The last such outbreak was caused by the swine flu virus back in 2010-11. (Deutsche Welle)


Pulwama plotter killed in military operation: According to the Indian Army, 23-year-old Mudassir Ahmed Khan was the latest of eighteen terrorists eliminated since the attacks—fourteen of whom were members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. (Times of India)

A very Brexit week coming up: Just a reminder that this is going to be a very eventful week in British history. Parliamentary vote #1 on Tuesday decides the fate of PM Theresa May’s Brexit deal—which is most likely to fail...again! Vote #2 on Wednesday is on a no-deal exit from the European Union. If that fails, then vote #3 on Thursday will allow the Remainers to vote for an extension on the March 29 deadline when the Brexit timer runs out. Interesting times. (Vox)


‘Delhi Crime’ trailer is here: and we can’t wait for the Netflix series to drop later this month. The fictionalised version of the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case promises a long overdue, clear-eyed look at the reality of a rape investigation in India—without Bollywood’s penchant for over-the-top performances and preachy scriptwriting. Yes, we’re thinking ‘Pink’. Watch the trailer here. (Indian Express)


Punjabis on hunger strike in US custody: Seven Indian asylum-seekers have been on a hunger strike in a Texas immigration detention center. “They’re dying… They’re not eating. They’re literally dying,” says a rights worker of some of the men who have been without food for 67 days. This is their story. (Medium)


A ‘feminist’ country with a big rape problem: It has been named the second best country for gender equality in the EU, and has an evenly divided 50:50 gender ratio in Parliament. Yet, a new Amnesty report warns that Denmark has one of the highest rates of sexual violence on the continent—and assaults often go unreported and unpunished. One big reason: Under Danish law, rape has to be accompanied by either the use of force or a threat of violence. And it’s not alone. A number of other European countries, including Spain, also define rape in terms of force rather than consent. (BBC)


Italian mayor declares war on ‘fake news’ pasta: i.e. spaghetti bolognese, which everyone thinks comes from his hometown, Bologna (including clueless tourists clamouring for a plate). “Spaghetti bolognese doesn't actually exist, yet it's famous the world over,' he indignantly complained to the media, adding,  “What we'd prefer the world to know is that Bologna invented tagliatelle, tortellini and lasagne.” (Metro UK)


Mind your language, Rahul-ji: Apparently, a number of Congress leaders and political analysts disapprove of Gandhi’s outspoken attacks on Modi… but not enough to share their name with The Print. Sample: “His approach is that of a leader contesting students’ union election… Modi can get away with his style of politics because of his popularity but Rahul as a young leader can’t be so disrespectful and rude while talking about the Prime Minister.” Somebody give the 48-year old a time out already!

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The ‘I’ll Pass On That’ Edition

Here's What Billionaires Eat


The dietary habits of the very rich is often an excellent lesson in why money is overrated. Who wants to make loads of filthy lucre only to end up eating kippers for breakfast like Richard Branson? Or perhaps you’d prefer Mediterranean octopus bright and early a la Jeff Bezos? This list of the diets of the very powerful and famous makes us almost happy to be neither…. almost!


Read: Here are the Diets of Some of the Most Notable Tech Billionaires l Business Insider

Sex, Love etc 2

Here's What Food-Safety Experts Won't Eat


Yes, this is the week when we scare you about falling ill the moment you step out of the house. Yesterday, we put you off air travel forever. Today, it’s all about ruining your ‘eating out’ experience. Here’s what food safety experts swear they will never ever eat outside their own homes. And they include some of our most favourite things, including potluck dinners and buffets. Bah, humbug!


Read: The Top 10 Things Food-Safety Experts Won't Eat | Food Network

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