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Mood: How we are feeling this week

How we are feeling this week

Canadian live entertainment company Cirque du Soleil is set to make its Indian debut in Mumbai and Delhi this November.
Canadian live entertainment company Cirque du Soleil is set to make its Indian debut in Mumbai and Delhi this November.

The circus comes to town

After staging extravagant visual spectacles in more than 450 cities around the globe, Canadian live entertainment company Cirque du Soleil is set to make its Indian debut in Mumbai and Delhi this November. This will also mark the first time a Cirque production will have its world premiere outside Canada, and will feature two Indian acrobats (Mallakhamb artists) as part of the troupe. BAZZAR, written and directed by Susan Gaudreau, centres on the relationship between a comical maestro and a trickster who attempts to sabotage his show. The cast will perform classic acts like acrobatic bike, teeterboard and slackline. Tickets, available on BookMyShow, start from 1,250. —VC

A dangerous precedent

On 21 August, the Punjab cabinet, headed by chief minister Amarinder Singh, approved amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as the Code of Criminal Procedure to “make sacrilege of religious texts" punishable with life imprisonment. It also announced that the amendment would be tabled in the forthcoming session of the Punjab legislative assembly. While India already prohibits “hate speech" under several sections of the IPC, such as Section 124A, Section 153A and the notorious Section 295A, a direct “blasphemy law" will exacerbate an already oppressive environment where any criticism—real or perceived—of religious texts and figures can lead to violence, death and destruction. If India is to move into the future as a rational society with a scientific temper and a healthy respect for debate and dissent, such laws need to be called out as regressive. We cannot be preparing for manned space missions and penalizing people for critiquing religious texts at the same time. —SB

Keeping the faith in #MeToo

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Italian actor and director Asia Argento, one of the leading voices in the #MeToo Movement and one of several women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, paid $380,000 (around 2.6 crore) to her own accuser, actor Jimmy Bennett. According to the piece, Argento sexually assaulted her former co-actor in a hotel room in California in 2013. Bennett was 17 at the time. Argento has publicly denied this claim.

The revelation sparked a range of reactions—posters of Argento with the hashtag #SheToo surfaced in Los Angeles, some questioned the hypocrisy of the movement, others examined the duality of the abuser and the abused. But perhaps the most fitting response came in a Twitter statement from #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, who emphasized the fact that the movement sought to dismantle power and privilege, irrespective of gender: “My hope is that as more folks come forward, particularly men, that we prepare ourselves for some hard conversations." —VC

Aeolus to map Earth’s winds

The Earth observation satellite Aeolus, was launched aboard a Vega rocket from French Guiana on 22 August. Aeolus is the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) mission to map Earth’s winds from space. It is carrying the Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument, or Aladin, to measure wind speed and direction with great accuracy, using two powerful lasers, a large telescope and receivers. Gathering real-time data about Earth’s winds remains one of the biggest gaps in making accurate weather predictions. According to the ESA, the mission “will provide insight into how the wind influences the exchange of heat and moisture between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere". This data will also be used in “air-quality models to improve forecasts of airborne particles that affect public health." —NS

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