Kohli dethroned as world’s best batsman after three-year run


Pakistan captain Babar Azam dethroned Indian maestro Virat Kohli after more than three years as the world’s number one batsman in one-day international rankings, the International Cricket Council announced Wednesday.

The 26-year-old becomes the fourth Pakistani batsman to get the top spot in ODIs and the first since Mohammad Yousuf in 2003.

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“Pakistan captain Azam has ended Kohli’s long reign at the top of the ICC Men’s ODI player rankings,” the ICC said in a statement from its Dubai headquarters.

Azam knocked 103, 32 and 94 in a three-match series in South Africa which Pakistan won 2-1 last week.

By ending Kohli’s supremacy that lasted more than three years, Azam has followed compatriots Zaheer Abbas (1983-84), Javed Miandad (1988-89), and Mohammad Yousuf (2003) as the number one ODI batsman.

In Tests, Azam’s best position was fifth and he is currently ranked sixth, while in T20Is he has previously been number one and now ranks third, the ICC added.

“This is another milestone in my career,” Azam was quoted as saying by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

He committed to working harder and achieving consistency with the bat so he could “hold on to the ranking for an extended period of time”.

“I will savour the moment, as it has come after I was first appointed the white-ball captain, and that too on the back of my performances that helped Pakistan become the first Asian side to win two ODI series in South Africa.”

Since making his ODI debut in 2015, Azam has progressed rapidly, scoring three hundreds in successive ODIs against the West Indies in 2016.

He was fastest to 13 ODI centuries, which he made against South Africa earlier this month.

Azam has so far scored 3,808 runs in 80 ODIs, with 13 hundreds.

With his prolific scoring, Pakistan appointed him skipper for all three formats — Tests in 2019 and white ball cricket last year.

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World’s wealthiest ‘at heart of climate problem’


The world’s wealthy must radically change their lifestyles to tackle climate change, a report says.

It says the world’s wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%, according to the UN.

The wealthiest 5% alone – the so-called “polluter elite” – contributed 37% of emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.

The authors want to deter SUV drivers and frequent fliers – and persuade the wealthy to insulate their homes well.

The authors urge the UK government to reverse its decision to scrap air passenger duty on UK return flights.

And they want ministers to re-instate the Green Homes Grant scheme they also scrapped recently.

The report comes from the UK-based Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change.

It’s a panel of 31 individuals who study people’s behaviour relating to the environment. They were tasked to find the most effective way of scaling up action to tackle carbon emissions.

Their critics say the best way to cut emissions faster is through technological improvements – not through measures that would prove unpopular.

But the lead author of the report, Prof Peter Newell, from Sussex University, told BBC News: “We are totally in favour of technology improvements and more efficient products – but it’s clear that more drastic action is needed because emissions keep going up.

“We have got to cut over-consumption and the best place to start is over-consumption among the polluting elites who contribute by far more than their share of carbon emissions.

“These are people who fly most, drive the biggest cars most and live in the biggest homes which they can easily afford to heat, so they tend not to worry if they’re well insulated or not.

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Sydney Royal Easter Show, one of world’s biggest ticketed events this year, staged without COVID case


The Sydney Royal Easter Show has made an extraordinary and triumphant return after the COVID-19 pandemic shut the gates last year.

With major events cancelled here and abroad, this could be the biggest ticketed event in the world in 2021, with almost 700,000 people expected to go through the gates by the time it closes on Monday night.

Staging the event was a “massive risk”, according to the man responsible for running the event safely.

Darryl Jeffrey, the chief operating officer for the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS), said he sat down with NSW Health last year to discuss the likelihood of going ahead with the event.

He was surprised by how supportive the department was.

“At that stage, the most they had approved was 50,000 for the NRL Grand Final, and we essentially wanted to run the largest attended event in the world.”

It could have turned into a public health disaster for the RAS if there had been a COVID outbreak.

“We lost millions of dollars last year. We knew we were going to lose money again on this year’s show, but we thought we needed to do it again.

“We didn’t want to be two years of not having the Easter show.”

He said the other reason the RAS, a not-for profit association, wanted to go ahead was to provide some inspiration for the events sector.

“If we could get this event off the ground, the rest of the events industry in NSW and Australia would say, ‘If you can run the Easter Show, you can run anything’, because you don’t get any bigger.”

Ground-breaking technology tracks numbers

Two ladies making scones with a sign to "wash hands often" in the background.
CWA members had to follow COVID rules despite their effort to break the record for the most scones sold at the show.(

Supplied: Alys Marshall

)

Numbers at the show were capped at 60,000 people a day — a big cut given 129,000 people passed through the gates on Good Friday in 2019.

New technology developed by Sydney company PMY Group was used to track the number of people at the event and in the pavilions.

The system tracks body mass and traffic lights at the entry indicates when venues are getting close to COVID capacity.

People standing around a social distancing sign at the Sydney Royal.
Cameras tracked the numbers of people in and out of exhibition halls.(

ABC Rural: Hugh Hogan

)

PMY has developed systems for other major venues around Australia, including Flemington racecourse, the Sydney Cricket Ground and other stadiums in Melbourne and Perth.

There hasn’t been a single breach of protocols at the Royal Easter and no cases of COVID-19, according to Mr Jeffrey.

“Western Sydney Health have visited a number of times and they haven’t mentioned anything of major concern that they want us to adjust,” he said.

Sleepless nights as Queensland locks down

The Brisbane outbreak of COVID-19 just two days before the start of the Easter show threatened to cancel this year’s event as well.

The RAS was prepared to take advice from NSW Health if the risk was deemed to great and Mr Jeffrey said there were some sleepless nights as that outbreak unfolded.

“We sent an email to every single person who had bought an Easter Show ticket reminding them of their obligations.”

A sign saying "Be a Goat - Greatest of all time" to encourage people to maintain social distancing.
COVID safety measures at the show enabled the event to go ahead.(

Supplied: Alys Marshall

)

The world is watching

Show society groups from around Australia have visited the Sydney Royal to see what lessons have been learnt.

Other countries are also interested, according to Mr Jeffrey.

“They could not believe what we were doing.”

It could well be that, like the Australian film industry, major global events may come to Australia on the back of the success of the Royal Easter Show.

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Elon Musk deletes tweet saying Tesla will soon become the world’s biggest company


The federal regulator declined to comment. A Tesla representative did not respond to a request for comment.

Dan Ives, the managing director of equity research for Wedbush Securities, called Musk’s Twitter barrages a frustration for investors, though he said he’s not anticipating any action from regulators.

“Elon is Elon, and that’s part of his interaction with his followers and commenting on a range of issues. But when it comes to some of these tweets, it’s like a kid that keeps playing with firecrackers,” he said. “Right now, investors don’t want to see any noise or sideshows from Tesla and Musk. They just want to see results, deliveries, and ultimately something that would drive the stock higher.”

Harvey Pitt, the CEO of consulting firm Kalorama Partners who served as SEC chairman from 2001 to 2003, said the regulator has a few options in such cases, including seeking the appointment of a corporate monitor to curb Twitter activity. “As to how far the SEC is willing to go, that’s a very different question,” he said in an email. “It’s not clear how strong a case the SEC can make against this latest round of tweets.”

Musk’s tweets have been the subject of amusement, investor lawsuits and a securities fraud charge by the SEC.

In September 2018, the agency charged Musk with securities fraud after he tweeted to his followers that he could take Tesla private at $US420 per share and that he already had the funding to do so – just pending a shareholder vote. The SEC alleged that the “series of false and misleading tweets” caused Tesla’s stock price to jump more than 6 per cent that day and significantly disrupted the market. Musk and Tesla ultimately reached a settlement with the SEC, with each paying a $US20 million penalty, and Musk had to step down from his position as chairman of the board for three years.

Tesla is facing growing competition in the electric vehicle market.Credit:Bloomberg

In April 2019, that settlement was amended to establish oversight for Musk’s Twitter activity, in which Tesla’s securities lawyers would need to pre-approve any communication about the company’s financial condition.

Earlier this month, Tesla investor Chase Gharrity filed a lawsuit over Musk’s “erratic” tweets that he said influenced the markets and cost shareholders billions of dollars in losses, Reuters reported. One of the tweets named in the complaint was from May, when Musk tweeted “Tesla stock price is too high imo” and Tesla stock price fell by 10 per cent.

And Musk’s latest Twitter spiel comes just one day after the National Labor Relations Board called on Tesla to have Musk delete a tweet from 2018 discouraging unionisation and rehire a former employee the company fired, upholding a 2019 administrative law judge ruling that stated the company engaged in unfair labour practices.

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Ives pointed out Tesla’s rising competition in the electric vehicle market – with automakers General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford now jumping into production – as a reason for the company to focus on its products instead of boasting about expectations for growth.

“When the stock’s moving up on a parabolic run and Musk has the golden touch, he can’t do anything wrong. But it’s also understanding right now the environment for EVs,” he said. “It’s no longer just Tesla running the show. It’s a ‘prove me’ time, not only for Tesla but for Musk.”

Tesla is expected to release its quarterly earnings in late April or early May. David Whiston, US autos equity analyst for Morningstar, said in an emailed note that investors should look at the company’s performance long-term.

“I think what matters for Tesla is what does the company look like 5, 10, 20 years from now rather than what the stock does over the next few months,” he said. “As for scrutiny, I’m not concerned as long as Elon behaves enough to not have the SEC ban him from being an officer in a public company.”

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Australian gin Four Pillars in Victoria voted world’s best brings out Spice Trade Gin with chilli


An Australian gin distillery that has been crowned the world’s best two years running has brought out a very unique new product.

In November, Four Pillars, based in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, was crowned the world’s best for the second year running at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London.

After being forced to “pivot” into creating hand sanitiser during the harsh COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria, Four Pillars have now brought out a new gin that is not for the faint-heated.

Over summer, Four Pillars created Spice Trade Gin, which has been described by the creator as a “literal spice bazaar in a bottle”.

One of the main ingredients is chilli.

“Firstly, it is unmistakably gin. There is a huge weight of juniper which we needed because the power of the botanicals needed a solid canvas,” Four Pillars Co-founder Cameron McKenzie said.

“Then you get powerful aromas of finger lime, chilli, cardamom and turmeric sourced from the western mountains (ghats) and coast of India.”

The gin was created with Stranger and Sons, who described the product as their “strangest collaboration yet”.

The gin goes on sale at bottle shops and online from March 25 and those who order early will get a bonus Gin Botanical Curry Powder.

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Reckoning will come for world’s debt binge



Slow to respond to the economic side of COVID-19, some countries are still pumping out cash.

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World’s best cricket commentators named: Isa Guha rated best female commentator, Fox Sports, England


Fox Cricket host Isa Guha — the former England international fast bowler — has been named the world’s best female cricket commentator.

The rankings, which were compiled by Last Word on Sport, rated Guha as No. 1 in a star-studded list including Fox Cricket’s Mel Jones.

“Her tone of voice and style of commentary is both passionate and knowledgeable,” the publication said of Guha.

“Isa Guha is the best female cricket commentator in the world and of quite possibly of all-time.”

Gone are the days where men have a stranglehold over the microphone, with Guha one of the voices of the Australian summer.

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One of the World’s Most Venomous Animals Is a Snail


A third strategy, “strike and stalk,” might be more macabre still. Many fish, wise to the danger of cone snails, might “gang up and viciously attack” one, Olivera said. So some snails will spend most of their time hiding, emerging only to sting a fish without tethering it. The snipe is so fast that some fish might never notice they’ve been hit. But within minutes, the toxins of these particular venoms will have worked their insidious magic: The fish will crumple, sluggish and quivering, allowing the snail to approach from behind and gulp it down gleefully.

Most of what’s known about these gastropods has been learned from studying fish hunters, arguably the flashiest ones of the bunch. But most cone snails prefer to munch on marine worms, and seem to engage an entirely different set of toxin-based strategies to do so. Torres, Schmidt, Olivera, Safavi-Hemami, and their colleagues recently discovered that one such tactic might involve tricking worms into thinking they’re about to get laid—a promise that rouses the wriggly creatures from their hidey-holes, only to end their life.

Torres’s team found that worm-hunting cone snails have evolved to produce molecules that resemble the pheromones of their prey. One chemical, conazolium A, looks like a pheromone that makes female worms swim in tight, tail-chasing circles before spewing their eggs; another is reminiscent of uric acid, which prompts males to eject gobs of sperm. Spritzed onto marine worms in the lab, the snail-made pheromones whipped most of the specimens into a sexual frenzy.

The pheromones “are a lure,” says Mandë Holford, a cone-snail-venom chemist at Hunter College. “I don’t think the worms even see it coming.” These cone snails are chemical saboteurs; they have weaponized another species’ appetite for sex. Because many marine worms die after reproducing, some of the ones consumed by cone snails likely die as duped virgins, their biological imperative unfulfilled.

Like the insulin-producers, these worm-hunting cone snails simulate chemicals naturally found in their prey. But while the insulin cohort seems to tame its targets, the pheromone-makers rile theirs up; both behaviors seem to bring hunter and huntee into close contact. “It’s incredible what these animals can do,” says Fiona Cross, a biologist at the University of Canterbury who studies spiders that also imitate other animals’ sexual attractants. “They’re so in tune with the biology of their prey.”

Torres and his colleagues still aren’t sure how the snails use these pheromones in natural contexts. They might inject them, like paralytics, or exude them to bathe their unsuspecting prey in eau de worm. Zhenjian Lin, a biochemist at the University of Utah, thinks the worm hunters might use their venom in multiple ways, first to attract, then to immobilize.  

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India economy: Five uncertainties for the world’s fastest-growing major economy


There’s plenty of good news on projected demand for jobs. But net impact on account of three factors is crucial. One, re-employment chances of those who lost jobs in 2020 — and are losing even now in 2021.

Synopsis

Let’s acknowledge that even with strong double-digit growth in FY22, India’s GDP as FY23 begins will be just about bigger than the FY20 GDP. That means even if everything goes right in FY22, we will merely get back to where we were before the pandemic.

Some of the best news on a slowing economy that got savagely hit by Covid has come in February-March. Starting with what was Nirmala Sitharaman’s best budget, and the latest being aflurry of FY22 GDP projections: from RBI’s 10.5% to Crisil’s 11% to IMF’s 11.5% to OECD’s 12.6% and Moody’s 13.7%.

Interestingly, GoI’s own implied FY22 GDP projection is slower than IMF’s, OECD’s and Moody’s. That’s because the budget’s numbers were based on 15.4%

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India downgraded from ‘free’ to ‘partly free’ in 2020 – US-based research institute voices fear the world’s largest democracy is descending into authoritarianism under Modi



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