Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Number of the day: $1.5 trillion

Financial markets reacted to the relentless spread of the coronavirus—with the Dow Jones plunging by 1000 points overnight. A staggering total of $1.5 trillion was wiped off the global stock markets in a single day. Analysts are calling it an “economic pandemic.” CNN explains why investors are so very afraid.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The shocking violence that rocked New Delhi

A clash over the Citizenship Amendment Act turned violent, and very quickly communal. By the end of the day, angry mobs were running amok across northeast Delhi.


The context: Tempers were already running high due to a previous confrontation on Sunday—when a rally led by BJP leader Kapil Mishra clashed with anti-CAA protesters who had blocked a road in Jafrabad. At the time, Mishra gave the Delhi police an ultimatum: “We will not do anything till Donald Trump leaves. But after Donald Trump leaves India, we will not even listen to you if the roads are not vacated.” On Sunday night, unverified clips of a group collecting stones and loading them on to a truck surfaced on social media.


The trigger: The first spark on Monday occurred in Maujpur. Groups of anti-CAA protesters and supporters began pelting stones at one another around 10 am. The violence almost immediately took a religious hue. Muslim residents claim they’ve been targeted and harassed since Sunday—and by their own neighbours. OTOH, women who were chanting the Hanuman Chalisa at a pro-CAA rally insist they were pelted with stones by Muslim men.


The escalation: The situation turned seriously ugly within hours:

  • By 2 pm, several vehicles had been set ablaze. And mobs chanting ‘Jai Sri Ram’ set fire to shops, godowns and homes in the area (footage here). 
  • The police initially did little to quell the violence—and clips of some policemen throwing stones quickly went viral. Reuters reporters witnessed at least one policeman egging on pro-CAA protesters to throw stones.
  • As the situation turned into a full-blown riot, the cops resorted to tear gas to disperse the crowd—but to little effect. 
  • At one point, a man—later identified as Mohammad Shahrukh—was seen firing multiple shots in the air, and even aiming it at a policeman (clip here)
  • Reuters photo journalist Danish Siddiqui shared photos of a bloodied and beaten Muslim man, surrounded by an armed mob.
  • Another Reuters reporter witnessed “at least one Muslim man and a burqa-clad woman beaten by dozens of pro-law protesters with sticks and iron rods.”


The spread: Over the course of the day, the violence had spread across northeast Delhi—including Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Bhajanpura, Kardampuri, Dayalpur and Chandbagh. 


The toll: The violence has left one policeman dead, and another in critical condition. Four others have been killed, and over 60 injured. The policeman died as a result of head injuries, while the civilians suffered gunshot injuries.


What’s next: Section 144—that bans the gathering of groups—has been imposed in the affected neighbourhoods. The Delhi police appealed for peace, and led a flag march. CM Kejriwal appealed to Home Minister Amit Shah to take action—and has since been scolded by Congress for being a helpless ninny.


The bottomline: The only surprising thing about this ugly violence is that it was allowed to take place right in the midst of Donald Trump’s visit.

Learn more: The Telegraph has the most clear and detailed account of events. Reuters has the best ground report. Hindustan Times reports on the fatalities. Indian Express rounds up all the political finger pointing. Scroll put together a compelling gallery of photos.

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hating/loving every minute of all the Trump madness

Your Trump yatra update is here: In the midst of all the mayhem breaking loose in Delhi, POTUS & family blithely traipsed across the country—unleashing a frenzy of viral clips and pics.


  • First up, the airport. Trump’s arrival gave us this picture-perfect, full-body bro hug. Plus: Melania’s outfit which had some obscure India connection—and took power dressing to a whole new level. 
  • Also: Trump’s hilarious pre-arrival tweets in Hindi, including this one referencing the ‘Pratham Mahila’. 
  • Next: Sabarmati. Sure, the Don did deign to visit Bapu-ji’s ashram, but merrily forgot to mention his existence in the guestbook.
  • Then on to Motera: Where Trump and Modi proved that they were a match made in mispronunciation heaven. First, the PM proudly introduced Mr Doland Trump, and was promptly outdone by the US prez who talked up that famous blockbuster ‘Shojay’, and our most beloved cricketer ‘Suchin Tendulkar’ (two-in-one clip here). Then he butchered poor Swami Vivekananda’s name—much to Amit Shah’s delight! 
  • As for the crowd, some wore Trump masks like so. And while the stadium looked packed, BBC News tweeted out mean clips that suggested otherwise.
  • Taj Mahal photo-ops of the first couple are actually quite lovely. Not to be overshadowed, Ivanka channeled her inner Princess Di.
  • Want more? NDTV has an excellent photo gallery of the Ahmedabad trip. 
  • John Oliver hilariously took aim at Modi in the lead-up to the trip. 
  • Politico explains why Trump may have met his match in an ‘India First’ Modi.
  • Indian Express previews all the deals that are on the negotiating table today. 
  • And Caravan has an intriguing related read on Mukesh Ambani’s Trump connection.


Harvey Weinstein is going to jail: The once powerful Hollywood mogul has been found guilty on two charges: “a criminal sex act” for assaulting his production assistant and third-degree rape of another woman in 2013. Weinstein could serve anywhere between five to twenty years in jail. He was found not guilty on the most serious charge of predatory sexual assault which could have resulted in a life sentence. Coming up next: Now that the New York trial has concluded, Weinstein will go on trial in California. He is accused of raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013. CNN has all the details on the guilty verdict, and the case that led to it. People has more on the trial in California.


Harry & Meghan spell it out: The kinda royal couple will no longer be using ‘royal’ as part of their brand or charity work. And they plan to do a 12-month review of their new life. These and other revelations are detailed at great length in a statement on their “revised role” on their website.


The ‘Doom and Gloom Fic’ Edition: Who cares about happily ever afters? The newest trends in fiction are as dark as the times we live in.


  • Wired offers an introduction to ‘doomer lit’—climate change-inspired fiction that embraces the end of the world as we know it.  
  • Fan fiction usually creates new lives and narratives for fictional characters the authors love most. But ‘deathfic’ writers kill them instead. The Atlantic has more on that cheery trend.


Cool stuff we learned online: includes the following:


  • The Cut highlights the hottest trend in headgear: headbands that are very pretty and menacingly sharp.
  • Daily Mail (who knew!) has an excellent read on women struggling with menopause at work—and why they’re speaking up.
  • Vice wades into America’s obsession with figuring out the size of… Jeff Bezos’ feet?!
  • Bustle explains what happens to your brain when you have a crush on someone.
  • The Lede profiles Madurai Anbu, the ‘Shylock’ who rules the Tamil film industry.


Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:


  • Yes, there is such a thing as sliced mayonnaise.
  • But is there such a thing as an Asian Flat Croissant?
  • Everyone’s heard a wolf howl. But have you ever seen a wolf puppy hiccup? Ridiculous.
  • This may well be the most adorable clip of dogs being complete rats.
  • Meet Foxtrot, the puppy that has become a mascot for Rohingya refugees. (Courtesy Broadsheet subscriber Rhuta Deobagkar)
  • Two perfect companions in art. One: Saul Leiter, Red Umbrella, 1958. Two: The Lady with the Red Ball, Guler, 1750-60
  • Bengaluru cops grooving to Zumba tunes to beat stress.
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