Welcome to Monday, where South Africa halts AstraZeneca vaccine after poor results on local variant, 180 are feared dead in India glacier collapse, and Tom Brady makes Super Bowl history. We also look at the unlikely feud involving Indian farmers, top cricket stars — and Rihanna.
• COVID-19 latest: South Africa halts use of AstraZeneca vaccine after a clinical trial showed "disappointing" results on the coronavirus variant first detected in the country. Israel has begun easing its third strict nationwide lockdown amid the world's fastest per-capita vaccination campaign.
• Mass protests in Myanmar: Tens of thousands protested in Myanmar yesterday, a week after a military coup and the arrest of charismatic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
• Himalayan glacier collapse: At least 170 people are missing after a massive glacier broke in the Himalayan mountains of northern India.
• Netanyahu in court: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleads not guilty to corruption charges as his trial resumes six weeks before voters again head to the polls in national elections.
• Trump impeachment trial: The U.S. Senate trial begins tomorrow of the second impeachment charges of former President Donald Trump, accused of inciting the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and preventing the peaceful transfer of power after his election loss to Joe Biden.
• China arrests Australian journalist: TV anchor Cheng Lei has been formally arrested after having been detained since August without charge. Chinese authorities have now charged the Chinese-born, Australian-raised journalist on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas.
• Super Bowl legend: At the age of 43, legendary quarterback Tom Brady won his record 7th Super Bowl, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Ecuador's daily El Universo reports on the first-round results of the country's presidential election, which will head to a second round after 36-year-old economist Andrés Arauz fell short of the 40% threshold to avoid a run-off.
Indian Farmers' Protests: Cricket, Bollywood Icons v. Rihanna
Pop singer Rihanna's recent tweet about Indian farmers' protests prompted backlash from the government with the support of several Indian actors and cricketers, "patriots' vs "external forces' trying to "divide the country." Anushka Deepak, writing in The Wire, questions the influence of celebrities in India, and beyond.
The Ministry of External Affairs released a statement using particular hashtags at the end of the document, as if they were indicating anyone who loves his country to create a social media trend that can, with just a tweet from an influencer, take the attention off of the past 70 days of struggle. From Sachin Tendulkar to Akshay Kumar, there was a similar pattern which was followed in the tweets trying to unite the "Indians' and bringing #IndiaTogether while we scream #IndiaAgainstPropaganda.
Ironically, these were the same influencers who announced #BlackoutTuesday and supported #BlackLivesMatter to voice their support towards ending systemic racism in the U.S. As much as it seems like we're not bothered by their stand, we do treat our actors and cricketers like no less than God himself. And when God goes against the people of this country, those people who made him God, it hurts. It hurts because this is exactly the kind double standards we didn't expect from them, considering they did support a good cause in the past which was someone else's "internal matter".
The only people who spoke even then and now are those celebs who would never get to take a group selfie with the prime minister of India. It seems like those whom we thought were above politics and chose to stay away from topics which are not of their expertise, did end up choosing a side. The day we decide to start treating these influencers like just another human being, we'll understand what made them do what they did and what we need to do.
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