Mint Lite | IPL's 1st covid case, bid for US Cong, Bitcoin, e-tourism & others4 min read . Updated: 12 Aug 2020, 10:16 PM IST
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The Indian Premier League (IPL) reported its first covid-19 case on Wednesday with Rajasthan Royals fielding coach Dishant Yagnik testing positive. The league is currently working out the logistics to get the teams to UAE for the tournament from 19 September. IPL this year has been plagued by troubles—delays due to covid-19 and title sponsors Vivo pulling out over the India-China border stand-off. IPL is now looking to raise sponsors to cover ₹300 crore. Edtech company Unacademy is eyeing title sponsor rights. For the rest of the national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.
Record bid for US Congress
At least 266 women of colour are running for US Congress in 2020, the most ever in its history. California senator Kamala Harris is running mate to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, making her only the fourth woman in US history on a presidential ticket and the first woman of Jamaican-Indian descent. This year’s number of 266 breaks the previous record of 179 women of colour who ran for office in 2018, going by a report from Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics. The current Congress is the most diverse ever and includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman elec-ted to Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women in the house, and Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first Native American congresswomen. This year is also seeing more women contesting than ever before, HuffPost reports. Women still don’t make up half the House, but it’s a start.
Bitcoin is back in action
After dipping to around $4,000 apiece in March, the price of one bitcoin is now in the $11,000 range, its highest level in a year. It’s got investors talking up its potential again, with a 60% surge in the first six months of 2020. Experts say it is riding on the weakness of the US dollar, which has slipped on the belief that interest rates will stay near zero due to the covid-19 crisis. Rising inflation could further weaken the dollar, and boost bitcoin. The cryptocurrency saw a wild rally in 2016-17, nearly touching $20,000, and a massive drop. Despite the volatility of bitcoin, this time mainstream investors are more bullish about alternative currencies given the overall economic climate. Bitcoin’s current rally reflects the rise in gold and silver prices as investors seek alternatives to stocks, bonds and the dollar. While millennials look to bitcoin, older investors are going towards gold, which recently crossed $2,000 an ounce.
UK’s slide steepest
UK has slipped into the deepest recession of any major economy (see chart) despite a recovery in June as covid-19 restrictions eased. Between April and June 2020, economic output shrank 20.4% compared to the first three months of the year. It’s the worst quarterly slump since record keeping began in 1955. Since the pandemic began, 730,000 people have lost jobs, and there are fears of more layoffs when the government’s furlough programme winds up in October. People have also taken pay cuts, which affected consumption and living standards. Overall, in the first six months of 2020, UK economic output fell by a cumulative 22.1%, much more than Germany, France and Italy, and double the 10.6% fall recorded in US, the Office for National Statistics said. The ONS said the collapse was due to closure of shops, hotels, restaurants, schools and car repair shops. Services, which contributes four-fifths of the economy, suffered the biggest quarterly decline on record. To add to this, UK is still negotiating Brexit, and if the trade deal is not closed by the end of the year, British companies will have to shoulder additional costs to do business across borders. It’s likely to affect economic recovery further.
Cost of wildlife e-tourism
To mark World Elephant Day on Wednesday, the UN Environment Programme rolled out an immersive online safari featuring Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, home to the African elephant and other rare animals, including lions and the black rhinoceros. There’s also a virtual tour of northern Australia with kangaroos and wallabies, and Brazil’s Cerrado biodiversity hotspot. The real problem though, which virtual tours are not going to solve, is that a lot of wildlife conservation programmes are dependent on tourism for funding—and that has dried up in 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimated the direct value of wildlife tourism to be $120 billion in 2019. Globally, 21.8 million jobs come from wildlife tourism, and in countries like India it’s also a source of income for marginalised local communities who have been moved out of forest homes. Eco-tourists also keep poachers at bay, and without them, animals and people who depend on them are at risk.
Antarctic ice shelves melting faster
Ice shelves, which cover Antarctica and Greenland and hang over the ocean, are melting faster than they are being replenished, a new study in Nature Geoscience says. Between 1994 and 2018, the ice shelves have thinned out significantly, losing an estimated net mass of 3960 gigatons. Most of this mass loss was from the Pacific Ocean Sector ice shelves. The study, “Interannual variations in meltwater input to the Southern Ocean from Antarctic ice shelves", used satellite measurements of ice thickness over 24 years to better understand how and what causes the ice to melt around the continent over time. The researchers found that rate of melt differed by location and time. The stability of ice shelves impacts sea levels and ocean currents, which in turn affect global weather patterns, which is why this study is important. It could also contribute to creating more accurate climate models to help governments forecast disasters, and projections on sea-level rise.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @shalinimb