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Days after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government remains open to the idea of another round of stimulus this fiscal to help revive the pandemic-battered economy, economic affairs secretary Tarun Bajaj confirmed on Wednesday the ministry is working on one. On 12 October, Sitharaman had announced a stimulus package worth 46,675 crore. India, meanwhile, recorded 54,044 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, taking its tally to 7.65 million, government data shows. It now has the second highest caseload, after the US. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.

Snap bosses make billions in hours

Snap Inc.'s founders, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, got richer by billions of dollars in just a few hours on Tuesday. The US firm reported better-than-expected results as the pandemic gave a boost to the usage of its app. Shares soared as much as 25% to $35.57 in late New York trading Tuesday after it said sales of its Snapchat app jumped 52% to $678.7 million in the third quarter, with 249 million daily active users, reports Bloomberg. The Tuesday gains lifted the fortunes of Spiegel and Murphy, by $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, taking them to $6.9 billion and $7.2 billion, according to the Bloom-berg Billionaires Index. Spiegel has pocketed over $200 million from Snap stock sales during 2020, benefiting from the record prices. The sales were made between January and September as part of a trading plan adopted by Spiegel, according to SEC filings. Snap shares have climbed 74% this year.

Is Netflix’s pandemic boom over?

It seems Netflix is losing its charm, at least for now. The world’s largest paid streaming service tumbled in late trading on Tuesday after missing Wall Street’s estimates for subscribers, renewing doubts about its ability to maintain growth as pandemic lockdowns go away. It added just 2.2 million new subscribers in the third quarter, well short of the 3.32 million predicted by analysts, as well as the company’s own more conservative projection. Netflix also predicted that it will sign up six million new subscribers this period, below the 6.54 million Wall Street estimate, reports Bloomberg. In the first half of the year, Netflix added 25.9 million customers, its strongest start ever, partly thanks to people stuck insides homes. People, especially in Europe and Asia, have returned to something closer to normal day-to-day life, reducing the amount of time they can spend on Netflix binges.

The air is killing India's infants

Outdoor and household pollution contributed to the deaths of 116,000 Indian infants in their first month of life in 2019, says a new study, State of Global Air 2020. Over half of the deaths were associated with outdoor PM2.5 and the rest with use of solid fuels such as wood and animal dung for cooking. Long-term exposure to outdoor and household air pollution contributed to 1.67 million annual deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, cancer, lung and neonatal diseases in India in 2019. Air pollution is now the largest risk factor for death among all health risks, says the report. In terms of people’s exposure to particulate matter since 2010, 14 of the 20 most populous countries have seen declines, but exposure continues to rise in India, Bangladesh and Nigeria (see chart).

Where exposure to air pollution has risen or fallen

Concentration of PM2.5 is highest in India but people's exposure differs as not all parts of the country experience the same levels of air pollution

Change in population weighted annual average PM2.5 exposure in most populous countries, 2010-2019

Countries Change in PM2.5 exposure (μg/m3)

Nigeria 7.5

Bangladesh 7 (Countries with largest increase in exposure)

India 6.5

Vietnam -6.7

Thailand -8 (Countries with largest decrease in exposure)

Egypt -11

Source: Source: State of Global Air 2020

Welcome to Singapore’s smart city

Singapore is leaving no stone unturned to build its city of the future, Tengah. Solar-powered air-conditioners, vacuum garbage collection, subterranean roads for electric vehicles, urban farms and green architecture are all part of the Southeast Asian nation’s ambitious housing project started to promote sustainability in energy, water and waste. The first batch of Tengah’s planned 42,000 flats will be ready by late 2022 or in 2023. Singapore has set a target of capping its emissions by 2030 and then halving them by 2050. Tengah will use a cooling network based on a system in the Marina Bay Financial District, where refrigeration plants and pipes were laid underground before the offices were built, reports Bloomberg. Once the site of brickworks and pepper plantations, the town will have rail networks, access roads and car parks below ground, freeing space for gardens, urban farming and for walking and cycling.

On sale: Eddie Van Halen’s guitars

Two guitars owned, played and partly designed by the late Eddie Van Halen will soon be up for grabs. Dubbed “Icons & Idols Trilogy: Rock ‘N’ Roll", the auction will take place, both online and live, at Los Angeles’ Julien’s Auctions in December. It will include a 2004 EVH Charvel Art Series electric guitar and a customized electric guitar Van Halen, who died on 6 October at the age 65, built at his home studio with his guitar tech Matt Bruck and given to a friend in 1991. Each of the guitars is likely to fetch between $60,000 and $80,000. The auction will also feature over 700 historic music artefacts and memorabilia from a wide range of artists, including a Fender Stratocaster played, and smashed, by Kurt Cobain on Nirvana’s 1994 In Utero Tour, a crystal-studded white glove worn by Michael Jackson on the Jackson brothers’ 1984 Victory Tour, and a black jacket worn by Lady Gaga in a photoshoot for her makeup brand.

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