About: the world this week, 30 January to 5 February 2022, misinformation spots, medley news, India’s budget, and the aces of Australian Open Tennis.
Spotify in a Spot
Spotify is a Swedish audio streaming and media services provider founded in 2006: the world’s largest, with over 381 million monthly active users. Spotify offers digital copyright restricted recorded music and podcasts, including more than 70 million songs, from record labels and media companies.
Joe Rogan is the host of, ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’, a podcast exclusively acquired by Spotify in 2020, reportedly for a staggering sum. With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, it’s the streaming service’s ‘milch cow’.
In one of the podcasts, Rogan has questioned the need for healthy young people to get vaccinated and has acquired an image of being a reckless peddler of dangerous conspiracy theories, giving oxygen to radical ideas.
In December 2021, Rogan hosted Robert Malone, a doctor who was suspended from Twitter for spreading Covid misinformation. During the show, Malone made several baseless claims, including that Covid vaccines can put people who have had the virus at higher risk. He also espoused an unfounded theory known as ‘mass formation psychosis,’ which suggests that much of the population has been hypnotised to follow Covid protocols. Rogan has also endorsed using Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medicine, as a treatment for Covid-19, despite repeated warnings from US health officials. Following this, 270 physicians and scientists signed an open letter last month calling on Spotify to remove Rogan’s interview with the controversial doctor.
Then, musician and songwriter, Neil Young, an outspoken advocate for Covid-19 safety and prevention stepped in. He wanted Spotify to remove his entire catalog because he does not want his music to share a home with vaccine misinformation. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Neil Young thundered.
Over the past week, a chorus of musicians and other podcasters such as Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills and Nash, India Arie, joined Neil Young to condemn Spotify or even remove their content in protest.
Since Young’s music has been pulled-out, Spotify has reportedly lost more than USD 2 billion in market value. But, the episode is still up.
When the world is passing through one of the worst pandemics ever, and just when we are beginning to recover, the least we want is social media influencers spiking themselves into becoming misinformation spreading viruses.
The World continues to fret and boil over Ukraine with the border crisis with Russia only soaring, getting NATO and the United States (US) on an edge. The US is deploying about 3,000 of its troops to Eastern Europe and has another 8,500 on standby. And Russia has already got about 100,000 of its troops at the border. Now, Russia is calling the US deployments ‘destructive’. There is cold tension in the European air. Watch that space.
Last week I talked about forced religious conversion possibly being the cause of a death by suicide of a young girl, Lavanya, in the Southern State of Tamilnadu, India. A ‘Justice for Lavanya’ movement started on social-media with people seeking a wholesome look into the conversion angle. And this week, the High Court in Madurai ordered the case to be investigated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and get to the bottom. That, a loss of faith on the local Police.
Tennis superstar Roger Federer has revealed he still hasn’t been able to run as he continues his recovery from a knee surgery, but is adamant he wants to return to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) circuit. The 20 time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played since Wimbledon last July and had a third knee operation in August last year. By the serve of it, the Swiss icon’s comeback hopes appear very difficult. Of course, we wish to see him rally his knees and return to the game, one knee at a time. There is none like him.
This week, media giant CNN’s (Cable News Network) President Jeff Zucker abruptly resigned saying he had failed to acknowledge a romantic, consensual relationship with another senior executive-whose name he did not explicitly reveal-at the outset. However, CNN’s marketing chief Allison Gollust opened-up about their relationship, which she described as a close professional and personal rapport, built over more than two decades. And that deepened into a romantic tie during the pandemic. She will continue working for CNN. Both Zucker and Gollust are divorced from their respective spouses, but owning up is a class act.
The Beijing Winter Olympics began this week, on 4 February 2022, and it’s getting hot enough to melt the ice.
India announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics, where no Indian Diplomat will participate in the opening and closing ceremonies. Indian National Broadcaster Doordarshan also decided to boycott live telecasting the opening and closing ceremonies. Initially, India supported China’s Olympic effort, when nations such as the USA and UK announced a diplomatic boycott over China’s poor human rights record: abuse of its Uighur population, ethnic cleansing in Tibet and suppression of democracy in Hong Kong. But when China put up a Galwan Clash survivor as an Olympic torch-bearer, India saw red and promptly ‘punched a boycott’.
China’s torchbearer for the Winter Olympics 2022 was captured, by India, in June 2020 when he tried to mount an attack on Indian forces in the Galwan Valley. This was a culmination of skirmishes, face-offs, and aggression beginning in May 2020 between Chinese and Indian troops at locations along the Sino-Indian border, including near the disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh and the Tibet Autonomous Region. The eastern Ladakh border row escalated after the Galwan Valley clashes, on 15 June 2020. Twenty Indian Army personnel were martyred in the border fight that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides, in decades.
China officially acknowledged that five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the clashes with the Indian Army, though it is widely believed that the death toll was a high as over forty.
India’s annual budget presentation is some kind of a ritual where everyone looks to extract some kind of juice for themselves: the individual, for income tax relief; Businesses, for tax concessions and inspiration to start new businesses; States, for blockbuster projects in their region, even new trains…the list is endless. Somebody has to be disappointed – there is nothing for me; nothing for the minuscule income tax-paying percentage of people; nothing Big-Bang, is an annual planetary comment. Actually, it’s a mere revenue report on where the money comes from and where it goes, though it does try to transcend into a show of path-breaking reform or clever intent.
This year’s Budget presented on 1st February was no different. And from the reading of the experts it’s a practical and sane plan to improve the lot of India. The International Monetary Fund (IMF)- they must be serious – said it’s a very thoughtful policy agenda for India that places a great deal of emphasis on innovation in research and development on human capital investment and digitalisation. India plans to release a digital currency by the end of the year and quietly announced a tax on this sphere of activity.
However, some bird-watchers of the economy say there is a looming job crisis, which needs the attention it deserves. Failure to generate enough quality jobs may convert what should be India’s demographic dividend into a restless force to reckon with. I’ll leave it at that.
Australian Open Tennis Aces
Winning a Tennis Grand Slam Title on three different kinds of surfaces is a rarity, and only four players have done it before: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams. Now, last Saturday the number grew to five, with Australian Ashleigh Barty, 25, winning the Australian Open Women’s Single Title beating 28 years old American Danielle Collins 6-3, 7-6 (2). Apart from Ashley Barty, Serena Williams is the only other in this elite category to have won the first three Slams across clay, grass, and hard courts.
Barty became the first Australian in 44 years, to win the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil did it in 1978. O’Neil was present in the stands, with the crowd, cheering Barty. The prize was awarded by yet another special person, 14-time Grand Slam champion, Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley who claimed the Australian Open singles title on four occasions-consecutively from 1974-1977. That’s as straight as it can be!
After this stupendous achievement by the women folk, the men began roaring. And in the men’s singles Spaniard Rafael Nadal clawed back from two sets down to win an epic five-set duel with Russian Daniil Medvedev, to claim a record 21st Grand Slam men’s title in the Australian Open final. The end set score was a thrilling 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
In what is considered to be the greatest era of men’s tennis, Rafael Nadal surpassed the 20 Grand Slam haul of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
More informative stories playing in the weeks ahead. Fight your battles drawing power from World Inthavaaram.