World this week
Indian PM Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for a Hindu temple on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid in the northern city of Ayodhya. Hindu mobs demolished the medieval mosque there in 1992, saying it was built on the ruins of a temple for Lord Ram, a revered deity. Hindus and Muslims claimed ownership over the site for decades. Last year, the top court gave the site to Hindus, ending a decades-long legal battle.
The dispute, which goes back more than a century, had been one of India's thorniest court cases. The Supreme Court gave Muslims another plot of land in the city to construct a mosque. Modi laid a symbolic silver brick in the sanctum sanctorum, or innermost sanctuary, of the site as scores of devotees watched the event on giant screens across the city. Due to Covid-19, the venue and surrounding areas were cordoned off, and access was restricted to invitees only.
The whereabouts of Spain's scandal-hit former king remained shrouded in mystery, after it was announced that Juan Carlos would be leaving the country in a bid to protect the crown from mounting scrutiny over his financial dealings. Spain's royal house published a letter sent by Juan Carlos to his son, King Felipe VI, saying he would "move, at this time, outside of Spain" amid the "public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating".
The royal house did not give any indication of where the 82-year-old would go. Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, declined to say whether his government had played a role in the decision or how the former king would cover his security and living costs while abroad. Instead he expressed his "absolute respect" for the royal palace's decision.
Microsoft revealed that it is in talks to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, the popular Chinese video application which has come under scrutiny from the U.S. government due to concerns of privacy and ties to the Chinese state. Although there are a lot of unknowns at the moment, purchasing the app could be a bold yet potentially lucrative bet for Microsoft, which has largely pivoted to enterprise software and cloud computing over the last few years.
Donald Trump abandoned his initial opposition to the acquisition in exchange for a cut of the deal for the US Treasury. The US president said he had relayed the demand for a "very large percentage" of the purchase price to Satya Nadella when he spoke to Microsoft's chief executive in a phone call at the weekend.
Satellite observations have found a raft of new Emperor penguin breeding sites in the Antarctic. The locations were identified from the way the birds' poo, or guano, had stained large patches of sea-ice. The discovery lifts the global Emperor population by 5-10%, to perhaps as many as 278,500 breeding pairs. The iconic species is likely to come under severe pressure this century as the White Continent warms.
The Emperors' whole life cycle is centred around the availability of sea-ice, and if this is diminished in the decades ahead - as the climate models project - then the animals' numbers will be hit hard. One forecast suggested the global population could crash by a half or more under certain conditions come 2100. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) used the EU's Sentinel-2 spacecraft to scour the edge of the continent for previously unrecognised Emperor activity.
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