Chatter: India hit by massive power outage - again




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Need to know:
India's power problems continue for a second day, with more than half the country cut off after another major outage.

Engineers say the northern and eastern grids collapsed just hours after they had managed to restore electricity following one of the worst blackouts in a decade, yesterday. Monday's grid failure left swathes of northern India without power, including the capital, Delhi, and caused chaos on railways, on roads and in hospitals. 

Today's outrage is said to be even worse, affecting an estimated 600 million people. That's equivalent to the population of North America.

Officials say they are investigating what caused the outages, which have highlighted the mismatch between India's outdated infrastructure and its soaring energy needs.

Want to know:
James Holmes has been formally charged with murder for the Aurora movie-theater shooting.

The suspect will be tried on 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder for allegedly opening fire on moviegoers as they watched the latest Batman release. Twelve people died in the attack; Holmes faces two charges for each of their deaths, one of first-degree murder and another for acting with extreme indifference to human life.

He has not yet entered a plea. Defense lawyers are expected to argue that he is insane.

Dull but important:
Good to know that Mitt Romney has made at least one friend during his epically clumsy foreign tour. (We're not counting his good chum "Bibi" Netanyahu, since the two of them go way back.)

The GOP candidate was greeted enthusiastically upon his arrival in Poland yesterday by Lech Walesa, former president, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and founder of the Solidarity labor movement. "Governor Romney [sic], get your success, be successful," the elder statesman urged.

Unfortunately for Romney's press people, however, the rank and file of Solidarity felt less inclined toward, well, solidarity. The movement accused Romney of supporting attacks on trade unions and employees' rights, and drily clarified that it "did not invite him to visit Poland."

Romney will conclude his trip, probably to the relief of his minders, later today, with a speech in Warsaw and a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the Nazi invasion of Poland. We trust he'll handle both with his trademark sensitivity.

Just because:
The Olympic Games are all about athletes pushing themselves to new extremes and going faster, higher, stronger than ever before. But sometimes, it seems, faster can become too fast.

China's champion swimmer, Ye Shiwen, won gold in the 400m individual medley with a world-record-breaking performance that saw the 16-year-old girl cover the final 50m faster than the world's best male swimmer. Now, a leading US swimming coach has called Ye's victory "suspicious," "disturbing," and "flat-out impossible."

All Olympic medallists are drug-tested, and none of Ye's results have indicated doping. She maintains that Team China has "clean hands," and puts her exceptional time down to hard work. 

Who can say otherwise? China's top anti-doping official points out: "We never questioned Michael Phelps when he bagged eight gold medals in Beijing."

Strange but true:
The world can – arguably – be divided into two types of people: suckers, and the guys who sell those suckers things. 

Teetering on the precipice of the first camp is the man in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who was almost convinced to pay $32 million for a tiny lump of tar that scammers told him was a meteorite.

Had he gone for it, he wouldn't have been the first: several people have apparently stumped up tens of thousands of dollars for common-or-garden stones they believed to be magic space rocks. Speaking of which, we've got some genuine alien concrete out the back if you'd care to see – for a small fee, of course...?