CHOCOLATES

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Chocolates are love. People just love consuming chocolates as they are very sweet and delicious. Chocolates are a preparation of roasted and ground cacao seeds that is made in the form of a liquid, paste, or in a block, which may be used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods.

The process of preparation of chocolates is that the seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavor. After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass, unadulterated chocolate in rough form. Once the cocoa mass is liquefied by heating, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor may also be cooled and processed into its two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Chocolate is one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world, and many foodstuffs involving chocolate exist, particularly desserts, including cakes, pudding, mousse, chocolate brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. Many candies are filled with sweetened chocolate. Chocolate bars are either made up of solid chocolate or other ingredients coated in chocolate, are eaten as snacks. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes are traditional on certain Western holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Hanukkah. Chocolate is also used in hot and cold beverages, such as chocolate milk and hot chocolate, and in some alcoholic drinks, such as creme de cacao.

Who is Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican whose past comments are causing a furore in the US House.

The US House of Representatives is set to vote on whether to strip firebrand Republican lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, after several of her past social media posts and comments sparked a furore within the Democratic Party. This comes after top Republican leader Kevin McCarthy condemned her controversial remarks, but failed to take action against her.

Before she won a US House seat representing Northwest Georgia last year, she was known to have made a number of racist, anti-semitic and anti-Muslim statements on social media. She notably courted controversy for supporting a host of conspiracy theories, including the since-debunked QAnon theory.

In recent weeks, several old comments resurfaced where the Georgia Republican claimed school shootings were staged and even liked posts that called for the execution of top Democratic leaders, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Lawmakers on either side of the aisle have slammed Greene for her comments, and several Democrats have demanded her resignation.

But on Wednesday, McCarthy declined to take action against her — a decision that has angered both House Democrats as well as a growing number of Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. In a lengthy statement, McCarthy condemned her past comments but accused the Democratic Party of trying to carry out a “partisan power grab” by pushing for Greene’s resignation so vehemently.

Who is Marjorie Taylor Greene?

Greene co-owns a commercial construction and renovation company with her husband in Georgia. In November last year, she won a US House seat from Georgia’s 14th congressional district, where she ran unopposed after her Democratic opponent Kevin Van Ausdal dropped out of the race in September.

Greene is no stranger to controversy. Over the last few months, she has been widely criticised for some troubling social media posts and statements that have recently resurfaced. She has publicly endorsed the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory and has even repeatedly expressed racist views in public.

Despite this, she was a favourite of former President Donald Trump who praised her and once even called her a “future republican star. Trump himself has repeatedly refused to denounce the since-debunked QAnon theory, which suggests that the former President is secretly fighting a highly-placed child sex-trafficking ring.

But after she was criticised by several Republican leaders for elevating the warped theory during her primary race against fellow Republican candidate and neurosurgeon John Cowan, Greene distanced herself from QAnon conspiracy, without explicitly denouncing it.

In January, the political newcomer was once again in the spotlight when she introduced a measure attempting to impeach US President Joe Biden, accusing him of abuse of power and corruption. Late last month, another set of old social media posts surfaced, prompting the Democratic Party to file a resolution to strip her of her committee assignments.

Why are Greene’s social media posts causing outrage?

In January, Greene took down dozens of Facebook posts dating back to 2018 and 2019, where she publicly endorsed a number of fringe conspiracy theories and showed her support for executing Democrats, CNN reported.

She has been slammed for claiming that mass shootings are “false flags” used to justify gun control. In one video shared on social media, she is seen harassing David Hogg, a survivor of a school shooting who now advocates for gun control. In another video shared in 2017, just days after a gunman shot and killed 58 people at a music festival in Las Vegas, she suggested that the incident was staged by gun control activists to promote their agenda.

She has also previously claimed that the 2018 wildfires in California were started by “Jewish space lasers”.

A CNN review of Greene’s activity on Facebook found that apart from filling her feed with extremist content and conspiracy theories, she also indicated her support for executing prominent Democrats. In January, 2019, Greene liked a comment on her post that advocated “a bullet to the head” of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

On Monday this week, a group of House Democrats introduced a resolution to remove Greene from her committee assignments in the House Education & Labor Committee and the House Budget Committee. Her appointment to the Education & Labour Committee caused tremendous friction between Republicans and Democrats, with the latter questioning how she could possibly be placed in the panel given her history of troubling posts and statements, particularly about school shootings.

“I think that the focus has to be on the Republican leadership of this House of Representatives for the disregard they have for the death of those children,” Pelosi said at the time, according to NBC News. “You’re just going to have to ask them why they thought that that raised itself to the level of something appropriate to do in the Congress of the United States.”

How did the Republican Party respond to the Democrats’ demands?

In a statement issued on Wednesday, top Republican Kevin McCarthy condemned Greene for endorsing conspiracy theories and making bigoted statements, but did not take away her posts on the two congressional committees.

“Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” he said. His statement was issued following a closed-door meeting of Republican leaders, where they debated whether to strip Greene of her leadership posts.

They were also deciding the fate of Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney after she voted in favour of impeaching former President Trump. Finally, Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican, survived a secret ballot to oust her by 145-61.

Meanwhile, there is more of a divide within the party as far as Greene is concerned. Several top Republican lawmakers have been vocal in their criticism of her past comments. Florida Senator Marco Rubio called her “either deranged or a sadist”. Mitch McConnell accused her of embracing “loony lies” that were a “cancer” to the party. Senator Todd Young of Indiana said she was “nutty” and an embarrassment to the party, BBC reported.

During the meeting, Marjorie apologised for her past statements. She said that she did, in fact, believe school shootings were real and called them “awful”. Greene told her colleagues that she had made a mistake by being curious about QAnon, The Hill reported. At the conclusion of her address, several Republican leaders gave her a standing ovation, the report stated.

Some Republicans have argued that Greene cannot be published for comments she made before she was elected.

What next?

Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would proceed with a vote on Thursday to decide whether Greene will be removed from the education and budget committees. To pass, the measure needs a simple majority in the Democrat-controlled House.

“McCarthy’s failure to lead his party effectively hands the keys over to Greene – an anti-Semite, QAnon adherent and 9/11 Truther,” Pelosi said in a statement. Republicans are responding to the Democrats’ push to expel Greene, by trying to remove Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar from her committees for statements they have alleged were anti-semitic.

Why not remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress altogether?

Democratic Congressman Jimmy Gomez Wednesday announced that he was introducing a resolution to expel Greene from the Congress for her comments.

“As if it weren’t enough to amplify conspiracy theories that the September 11 attacks were an inside job and the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was staged, a string of recent media reports has now confirmed that Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had previously supported social media posts calling for political violence against the Speaker of the House, members of Congress, and former President Barack Obama,” he said in a statement.

“Her very presence in office represents a direct threat against the elected officials and staff who serve our government, and it is with their safety in mind, as well as the security of institutions and public servants across our country, that I call on my House colleagues to support my resolution to immediately remove Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from this legislative body,” he added. But is it possible for Greene to be expelled from the Congress altogether? Experts say that it seems unlikely.

India series on free-to-air channel in England a boost for Test Cricket

For the first time since the 2005 Ashes, England Test cricket returns to Channel 4. On Wednesday, the free-to-air terrestrial channel confirmed that it had secured the rights for the four-match series between India and England from Star Sports.

What is the history of cricket broadcast in England?

The BBC covered all England home games for 60 years until 1999, when they lost the rights to Channel 4. The matches were on free-to-air television till England’s Ashes win over Australia in 2005 before all international cricket broadcast in the UK moved to Comcast’s pay-TV operator Sky.

While before anyone with television could see England’s home games, the move to Sky made a subscription necessary.

Sky did share the rights with Channel 4 in a one-off deal for the 2019 World Cup final between England and New Zealand — and the hosts’ thrilling Super Over win over New Zealand at Lord’s attracted 15.4 million viewers over the course of the day.

What is the new deal?

According to the deal, all four Test matches along with highlights will be available for free on Channel 4, as well as its dedicated streaming platform: All 4.

Channel 4 will get the Star Sports’ live world feed commentary from India. An in-house, London-based panel of former England captains Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss will provide the expert analysis, along with presenter Rishi Persad

“We’re delighted to be showing live Test cricket on Channel 4 again and given the recent performances of both sides this series is set to be a cracker,” Channel 4’s head of sport Pete Andrews told Variety. “We’re thrilled to have struck this deal with Star Sports.”

The UK radio rights, meanwhile have gone to TalkSport, and the BBC Test Match Special team will opt for the ‘Cricket Social’ format of online discussion instead of ball-by-ball commentary by pundits.

How did Channel 4 pip Sky Sports and BT Sport?

Citing sources in India, The Times reported that Channel 4 may have paid as little as £5 million to Star Sports, which had initially been seeking more than £20 million for both the Test and limited-overs UK rights. Sky and BT Sport may have had to pay more due to a smaller potential audience than Channel 4. While the Test deal has been finalised, Star Sports might look for a more lucrative deal for the limited-overs matches.

Sky and BT Sport have also been in cost-cutting mode since the Covid- 19 pandemic hit, and are expected to battle it out for the Premier League football rights later this year.

The early-morning start also adds a wrinkle. The matches will begin at 4am England time, except for the third Test — a day-night match with a 9am start.

What has been the response?

England captain Joe Root hoped Test cricket’s return to terrestrial television will “inspire the next generation.”

“You look at the stuff Sky do and the reach they get, they do a wonderful job and they give great content for all the viewers. [But] this is a great opportunity to reach out to a new audience, to grow the game as we keep talking about and for it to be more accessible for everyone else,” Root told the Guardian. “So it’s a great thing for the sport and hopefully people will tune in and watch us and have something to smile about at the end of it.”

Jonathan Trott, England’s batting consultant in India who played all his 52 Tests career behind Sky’s paywall, called the development “exciting.”

“I think the more people we can get watching the game is a great idea and fantastic for the sport,” Trott told The Times. “I’m sure it’s going to be exciting for everybody. For people in lockdown, hopefully they can watch it and we can get the nation behind the side and give a little bit back in what is quite a testing time all around the world.”

For the Telegraph, historian Simon Heffer wrote: “Perhaps teenagers won’t flood back to county grounds this summer after watching India play England on free-to-air television: but it will spark the imagination of some. If a way can be found to keep showing serious cricket on free-to-air channels, it will remind the young generation that it is there.”

More vaccine doses given than Covid cases detected

In the couple of months since governments took up vaccination against the novel coronavirus, the number of vaccine doses administered worldwide has crossed the number of Covid-19 cases detected in the one year since the pandemic began.

Until February 3, a total of 107.34 million vaccine doses had been administered across the world, according to the online resource Our World in Data, which collates data from various government and educational institutions. This does not reflect the number of people vaccinated, though: every dose administered is counted and, depending on the vaccine, some regimens require multiple doses.

The number of Covid-19 cases detected until February 3 was 104.38 million (10.44 crore), according to Our World in Data citing Johns Hopkins University. By February 4 night in India, JHU had updated the count to 104.60 million.

With 44.5 million doses administered until February 3, India is fourth on the list, behind the US, UK and Israel. In terms of doses given per 100 population, Israel is on top at 1.39. India, owing to its large population, is far behind on this count, at 0.02 doses per 100.