Burna Hot!

Nigerian musician and singer Burna Boy, whose real name is Damini Ogulu is making waves on the international music scene!

The 28-year old artist’s album ‘African Giant’ has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music category. The Grammy’s are the most prestigious award in the music industry so that is a really big deal!

Why is he so popular?

After singing some of his popular songs at the Coachella music festival earlier this year, Burna Boy has also collaborated with huge international artists like Beyoncé, Jorja Smith and Lily Allen.

In November he even won an award for the Best African Act at the MTV EMA Awards.

What’s he up to now?

Following his Grammy nomination, Burna Boy has just released another massive collaboration with superstar Ed Sheeran and rapper Stormzy. The song, called ‘Own It’ was released with a 4-minute video on YouTube last Friday and hit over 150,000 views the same day.

The single ‘Own It’ features vocals by Ed Sheeran and Stormzy’s signature style of rap which is called Grime. The Grime genre originated in London in the early 2000s and has a unique set of features that make it different from other types of rap music. Grime music normally tells the story of the artist’s life and has a mix of rap lyrics and electronic sound.

‘Own It’, and Burna Boy’s album ‘African Giant’ have become super hits, but let’s see if he manages to win that Grammy early in 2020!


Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.

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Setting the Stage for a Greener Tomorrow


Italy’s Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti in Rome on Nov. 4, 2019

Italy is setting trends in more than just the fashion world with Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti introducing mandatory classes on Climate Change and Sustainable Living in all schools.

WHAT? DOES THAT MEAN MORE HOMEWORK?

The decision, which will come into full effect once school starts after the 2020 summer vacation show that Fioramonti clearly believes that in order for any real action to be taken to prevent the terrible consequences of climate change, it in students and the younger generation who must be educated and made aware of the issues.

Students in Italy have been participating in the Fridays for Future initiative started by Greta Thunberg (more on that here) and this new curriculum is a step further in the right direction.

Greta herself famously said in an TV Interview that she believes the older generations are less concerned about climate change and the environment because they won’t be around to experience the terrible consequences of what we are doing to the planet.

SO? THEN WHAT?

Minister Fioramonti’s Climate Change curriculum consists of approximately 33 hours of compulsory lessons on how to live a greener, more sustainable life. That is one for every week of the school year.  Even traditional subjects like geography, science and maths will be taught with a focus on sustainability and a cleaner, greener tomorrow.

Hopefully more countries will follow in Italy’s footsteps and make education about climate change mandatory in all schools.


Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.

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5 Stories to Stay Current this Week!

Politics: Maharashtra finally has a new government. As a reminder, state elections were held at the end of October 2019. No single political party had a majority of the votes, so a coalition, or group of parties had to come together to form a government. The situation continued, and the state was placed under President’s Rule until a government could be formed. With a lot of drama, Maharashtra finally has a coalition government as of two days ago, with the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, coming together. Uddhav Thackeray from the Shiv Sena will be sworn in as the new Chief Minister today (November 28), and the Deputy Chief Minister is still being chosen. Stay tuned!

Science & Technology: Scientists have recently found the remains of a dog from 18,000 years ago, perfectly preserved in a block of ice in Siberia! It has not decomposed – it even has hair and eyelashes! They have named him ‘Dogor’, which means ‘friend’, in the language from that area. Why is this of interest? Scientists wonder if this is a dog or a wolf or perhaps it is from somewhere in between the two lineages.

Science & Technology and Arts & Entertainment:  Coldplay has released its double album, ‘Everyday Life’. While fans are eagerly asking about their tours, Coldplay has said that it will not be touring until the band can figure out a carbon-neutral way of doing so. Touring has an impact on the environment as the band, all its equipment, managers, stage hands, sets, instruments and more fly around the world with them, and Chris Martin and Coldplay are trying to promote a more environmentally responsible way of reaching out to their fans. 

Arts & Entertainment: The American Music Awards (AMAs) were held on November 24, 2019, and Taylor Swift walked away with 6 awards, including Artist of the Year, Favourite Female Artist – Pop/Rock, and Artist of the Decade!

Arts & Entertainment: Frozen II launched worldwide this weekend, and it made $350 million already! Variety and Forbes magazines say that this is the biggest global debut or release for an animated film.

 

 

 


Land Of The Thunder Dragon claims that it is the happiest place in the world!

Disneyland may have earned the title of the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’, but the Himalayan mountain kingdom of Bhutan has claimed that it is the happiest country in the world!

So That’s Really A Thing?!

It is! Bhutan has created what it calls it’s ‘Gross National Happiness Index’ that is a measure of how much the population is able to grow and flourish holistically. It is not a measure of wealth or money, and it goes much beyond just how much people laugh and smile.

The Gross National Happiness Index measures how satisfied people are with their own lives, how little they envy others and how compassionate they are towards those around them.

Bhutan even takes this into consideration when creating new policies for the country. A policy that is not for the benefit of everybody, is not environmentally friendly or does not rate high on the happiness index, will not be passed into law.

How Do You Measure Happiness?

In Bhutan, every 5 years, the Centre for Bhutan and GNH (Gross National Happiness) conducts a survey to measure 9 things including culture, living standards, use of time, good governance and ecology to see how the country is doing on the happiness index. The next survey will happen next year, in 2020.

Is It For Real?

Sadly, the 2015 survey in Bhutan showed that while a lot of the factors measured for the happiness such as education and access to healthcare index gave positive results, some areas like psychological were less than ideal. A lot of people in Bhutan rely on agriculture to survive and Bhutan’s location high up in the mountains means that it is often subjected to unpredictable climate conditions leading to difficulties for the farmers.

The people of Bhutan, led by their Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering however, are committed to their vision of happiness and work hard to maintain their values through hard work, meditation and exercise. They hope to achieve a state in which the economy, the environment and the community are all in a state of contentment and balance.


Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.


Wacky Word of the Week!

Here it is, the wacky word you have been waiting for! Check it out…

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Pasta saves the day…and maybe the world?

So it looks like pasta really is good for more than a deliciously garlicky pesto sauce with a side of garlic bread and extra cheese!

Confused? Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes, penne, spaghetti, farfalle (the cute little bows), to name a few. One of the less common shapes is called bucatini, which is actually pasta in the form of long tubes.

Bars in Italy have decided to use bucatini in a very clever and eco-friendly way, as straws! Straws are currently made of plastic, which is terrible for the environment, paper, which just gets soggy and disintegrates into your drink, or even metal, which some people find unhygienic, since washing and cleaning straws is not easy!

Pasta Straws? Really? Why not?! Uncooked pasta is hard and does not lose its shape in any cold liquid so the tube-shaped bucatini is actually kind of perfect as a substitute for plastic straws. When a picture from a bar in Italy was posted online, it quickly went viral!

Taking a page out of Italy’s (recipe) book, a British company, Stroodles, has started manufacturing tasteless and completely compostable pasta straws that can last upto 1 hour in any cold drink without losing their shape.

This might just be another unique step in the eco-friendly revolution since every small change makes a big difference!


Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.


5 Stories to Stay Current this week!

Boy! A lot happened this week, but here are 5 things that people are talking about.

Money, Entertainment: Taylor Swift’s former music label owns the ‘masters’ or original recordings of her first albums. Taylor has parted ways with this music label Big Machine Label Group, and has signed up with another. She intends to re-record her older songs in 2020, once she is legally allowed to do so. Taylor is being declared Artist of the Decade at the American Music Awards at the end of November. She wants to performa a medley of her songs, but she says that Big Machine is not allowing her to do so since they still own the rights to these songs. Taylor has taken the fight to social media and has asked her fans to support her. Read here to find out a little about ‘masters’ and the rights to music.

Money: Kylie Jenner is famous as a model and for being a reality TV star. She is also a very successful entrepreneur! Makeup company Coty has just announced that it will buy a 51% stake in Kylie’s beauty company for $600 million! Click here to see why they would want to do that, and why this makes sense for Kylie.

Sports: Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) beat Dominic Thiem (Austria) in the ATP World Tour Finals tournament this past weekend. He has become the first Greek to win the tournament and trophy. He now stands 6th in the world.

Politics: This weekend, the internet in Iran was shut down as government authorities tried to stop the spread of nationwide protests. Protests erupted in the country last Friday, shortly after the government announced that it would introduce a 50% hike in fuel prices and ration or limit fuel to all private vehicles. Protestors indicate a widespread fear over the sick state of Iran’s economy. They say their meagre savings cannot absorb the price hike. Why are there such strong protests? Click here to find out. 

Politics: Over the last week, schools and campuses in Hong Kong that previously remained free of violence saw a wave of demonstrations. The Hong Kong protests started in July 2019 when the government tried to introduce a highly controversial ruling to extradite or send Hong Kongers convicted of crimes to mainland China. The clashes between police authorities and Hong Kongers over the last 5 months have become violent.  Hong Kongers are now protesting against police brutality and the way Hong Kong is being controlled by Beijing. What are the protests really about? Click here to find out

 


Wacky Word of the Week!

Here’s the wacky word for the week! How many times can you use it in a day?

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5 Stories to Stay Current this Week!

Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel are in trouble deep! Cell phone network providers, Vodafone-Idea and Bharti Airtel, are under a lot of pressure to pay the Government of India more than Rs. 90,000 Crores in fees!

Why? The Supreme Court of India has ruled that telecommunications providers need to pay the government taxes on a larger part of their revenues than the telecom companies think they should be paying for, in addition to very high fees and royalties to license the airwaves.

At the same time, the revenues they get per customer for voice calls has reduced drastically as Reliance Jio entered the telecom market in 2016 with very low prices and changed the competitive landscape. 

Vodafone Idea and Airtel have been arguing that the license fees, royalties and taxes should be lower. They have also been asking for some time to pay these fees. The Supreme Court has given them 3 months. It is a very real possibility that with the losses that companies like Vodafone Idea are posting, and with this huge fee demand from the government, they may actually go out of business in India!

What does this mean for us? If this happens, it will again change the competitive landscape and give newer entrants, like Reliance Jio, an advantage. Fewer competitors will mean that us cell phone users could suffer as there will be nothing to stop higher prices for us. 

Impeachment Hearings in the US: Witnesses started testifying before the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment of US President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump is being investigated as it is suspected that he was pressuring the President of the Ukraine, to give him information on Joe Biden, his potential rival in the 2020 US Presidential election. It is suspected that he indicated that he would only give US military aid to the Ukraine if they helped him on this front.

What happens next? If it is proved that he did this, it could be an impeachable offence. These witnesses will finish testifying, or giving their version of what they saw and heard, by the end of November, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee will then present its report in December 2019 and the House will vote on whether or not there is enough evidence to impeach. If they say there is, the matter goes to the Senate and there will be an impeachment trial.

Maharashtra is under President’s rule. None of the political parties got a majority of the votes in the recent State elections, and they have not yet been able to work out deals and alliances. The Governor of Maharashtra has therefore asked for the State to be placed under President’s rule until a coalition (group) of parties can demonstrate a clear majority in the legislature, and announce a leader of the coalition to assume the Chief Ministership. This gives the political parties 6 months to make a deal.

Congratulations to Rohit Sharma! India’s superstar cricketer, Rohit Sharma just made history by becoming the second Indian cricketer to play 100 T20 International matches. Who beat him? India’s Harmanpreet Kaur who has played 100 T20 International matches in Women’s Cricket!

Music Update: Swifties on high alert! Taylor Swift will receive the Artist of the Decade Award at the American Music Awards this year. These will be held in Los Angeles on November 25, 2019.

Get ready for the OnePlus Music Festival in Mumbai this weekend! Katy Perry and Dua Lipa will perform live on November 16. Here’s a clip of what you can look forward to!

 


Q& A with Bijal Vachharajani, author of A Cloud called Bhura

Bijal Vachharajani writes and edits books for children and is a climate change warrior. She has a wonderful new book out, called ‘A Cloud called Bhura’. This story is set in a city where a brown cloud suddenly appears, and it follows four friends as they try to figure out what’s happening to the environment, what can be done about the brown menace, and how to deal with the consequences of peoples’ actions. It is a wonderfully written page turner with lots of interesting tid-bits and facts about climate change and human activity.

We asked Bijal a few questions about her book, and here’s what she said:

  1. Climate change is a very pressing issue facing the world at large today. What was the inspiration for this book? Why did you feel it is important to have a children’s fiction book on the subject?

In 2012, I studied climate change as part of my Masters programme in Costa Rica. Before that, I was working part time with 350.org on their 10/10/10 campaign and writing about environment and children’s books as a journalist. It was kind of amazing that I found publishers who were interested in combining my two areas of interest – environment and kid-lit. My first book was a non-fiction one, So You Want to Know About the Environment, and it covered climate change, food, waste, water, wildlife.

But as part of my Masters, I learned about the brown cloud phenomenon (https://www.britannica.com/science/atmospheric-brown-cloud) and as I studied more, I realised that a lot of our understanding of climate is not based on science, but on the chatter that happens around us. Which is why I decided to write a book where you view the climate crisis through the people.

Writing climate fiction (cli-fi) was actually very liberating, because while it’s based on science, a lot of it is about imagination. And I have been taking A Cloud Called Bhura to schools through lit fests, and find that children react very positively to the subject. They laugh, they question, and they introspect, while reading.

2. Global movements like Fridays for Future are gaining a lot of steam and bringing awareness to this issue – do you find that there is as much awareness amongst Indian children and parents?

I have been getting emails and messages from concerned parents and children about climate change and how can they be part of the movement. And it’s wonderful that so many of them are part of Fridays for Future. I meet a lot of children as part of my work, and I must say that I find that the awareness is quite skewed. I have done sessions where children are like the Hermione Granger of climate change, but also spoken to classrooms where not a single child had heard of climate change or even global warming. We’ve a long way to go when it comes to climate awareness, especially for adults.

3. While researching this book, did you come across some interesting new innovations that could work to help us reduce our carbon footprints? 

I came across a lot of wonderful people and innovations, while researching my first book and my next book for Duckbill, who are doing some amazing work. There’s the Fair Trade Alliance Kerala and Sangita Sharma’s Annadana, both are doing amazing work with farmer collectives and seed banks. Then there are young people coming up with solutions on reducing plastic in the ocean, like Boyan Slat and filing PILs to demand a cleaner future. And of course, individuals like the writer Maya Kilpadi who look at actively reducing their carbon footprints and spreading awareness.

4. Are there any random, interesting facts that you came across while researching this book? Kids love weird facts!

Loads!

“Atmospheric pollution, and ‘brown clouds’ in particular, are major contributors to climate change in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region and beyond.” ICIMOD

 

When Scottish engineer James Blyth built the first wind turbine in 1887, the locals said it was the work of the devil. Guardian

Via Twitter @RobGMacfarlane: Word(s) of the day: “roaming radius” – the maximum distance from home within which children are permitted to play or explore unsupervised.

And most importantly, our rights! Here’s an example (more in the book):

Stockholm declaration, 1972

Principle 1

Man (and woman and child and other genders) has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he (she!) bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.

Principle 2

The natural resources of the earth, including the air, water, land, flora and fauna and especially representative samples of natural ecosystems, must be safeguarded for the benefit of present and future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate.

Here’s where you can get your own copy of Bhura:


Written by: Sunaina Murthy, in conversation with Bijal Vachharajani, Author, A Cloud Called Bhura and So You Want to Know About the Environment, and Senior Editor, Pratham Books

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you!