Friday, April 12, 2019

Reminder of the day

We are delighted that so many of you are planning to attend our two Broadsheet election events—in Mumbai and Bangalore—in the coming days. Spaces are limited and we may soon run out of space. So please let us know soon if you plan to grace us with your lovely presence. RSVP here for Mumbai, April 13, 5-7 pm, at Miss T.  RSVP here for Bangalore, April 15, 6-8 pm, at Church Street Social. (If you don’t know what this is about, check out all the deets in yesterday’s Broadsheet)

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The Arrest Of Julian Assange

The Wikileaks founder was arrested in London bringing to an end his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy where he’d sought asylum seven years ago.


Remind me about Assange: In 2006, he set up Wikileaks, a platform which publishes confidential documents. A number of these ‘data dumps’ have led to significant investigations of government wrongdoing. Other such leaks have been viewed as irresponsible and vindictive. Assange shot to prominence in 2010 when Wikileaks published hundreds of thousands of confidential Pentagon documents—90,000 reports from the Afghanistan war, 400,000 reports from the Iraq War and 250,000 State Department cables—which were leaked to Assange by a U.S. Army intelligence analyst then known as Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea Manning).


Why was he at the Ecuadorian embassy? Assange was charged in Sweden of raping one woman and sexually assaulting another. He sought asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition. His great fear was that the Swedes would then extradite him to the United States. At the time, Ecuador was run by a leftist president intent on thumbing his nose at the United States.


Ok, so what happened now? The Ecuador government has long been trying to unload Assange who rapidly turned into an annoying liability. It finally revoked his asylum for two reasons. One: his “discourteous and aggressive behaviour” at the embassy (including not cleaning up after his cat). And two: “He particularly violated the norm of not intervening in the internal affairs of other states. The most recent incident occurred in January 2019 when WikiLeaks leaked Vatican documents.” Left unmentioned: Assange’s role in leaking hundreds of confidential emails hacked from the Democratic party server just weeks before the 2015 US election.


So what now? British authorities have arrested him for evading arrest, but he will inevitably be extradited to the US—where he faces a single indictment filed in 2018 for helping Manning hack a Defense Department computer network.


So this is a good thing? There are wildly varying views on Assange. He has devoted followers who champion him as a truth-seeker who afflicts the powerful. But in recent years, he has been increasingly seen as a megalomaniac who misused Wikileaks to promote his personal agenda. For example, his publicly stated goal to ensure Clinton’s defeat. And since he’s been charged with hacking, it is unlikely that his trial will be viewed as an assault on press freedom (Wikileaks claims it is a media platform).


Learn more: Washington Post has the details of Assange’s arrest. BBC has a concise backgrounder on Assange. Wired breaks down the hacking case against him. New York Times looks at his life at the Ecuador embassy (which appears to have been saddled with the worst house guest ever). New Yorker did one of its signature lengthy profiles on Assange back in 2017.

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looking forward to your first Broadsheet event

A street revolution in Sudan: The country's reigning dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir was ousted after hundreds of thousands of protesters staged a sit-in in Khartoum. Over the past week, Ala Salah—dressed in a white robe and gold earrings, and dubbed Nubian goddess—has emerged as the face of the people’s rebellion. Up to two/thirds of the protesters were women. BBC reports on the women rebels of Sudan, and CNN has the story on Salah (or check out an awesome clip of her leading a protest here)


EC cracks down on NaMo TV: It issued an order demanding that all content on the TV channel be “removed immediately” as it does not have prior certification. All programming will now have to be first certified by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) of Delhi before it airs. (Indian Express)


Rahul Gandhi’s security scare: The Congress party released video footage that shows a green laser dot being aimed repeatedly at his head during a public meeting in Amethi. The Congress wrote to the Home Ministry demanding a probe as the dot could belong to a sniper rifle. The ministry’s response: It’s just light from your party photographer’s smartphone. Hmm, now we don’t know what’s with that green dot (may be a childish laser prank?), but we’re pretty sure it didn’t come from a phone. (NDTV has the story, Quint has a clearer clip of the footage)


Alexa is listening, so is Amazon: The company’s employees listen to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices. They then transcribe, annotate and feed it back into Alexa’s software to help improve its responsiveness. The teams sift through 1,000 audio clips per shift. With each clip, they have access to the user’s first name, account number and the device’s serial number. The story is worth checking out in its entirety… and maybe keep in mind if you’re in the market for an Echo. (Bloomberg)


A very different kind of human: Researchers in the Philippines have discovered a species of ancient human previously unknown to science. Named Homo luzonensis, these early ‘hominins’ lived on the island of Luzon at least 50,000 to 67,000 years ago. Why does this matter? The remains suggest they possessed a unique, previously never seen combination of features that belong to both ancient and more advanced species of humans—which challenges the idea that we neatly evolved in one tidy timeline. (National Geographic)


This is who made the ‘black hole’ photo possible: Meet Katie Bouman, a young MIT graduate student, who developed the algorithm that helped capture the first-of-its-kind image. Read a profile or better yet watch her Ted talk.


Namo Foods cares about hungry voters: This must be why the fortuitously named shop was giving out free food platters to voters queuing up in Noida. But why were they being transported and doled out by policemen at the poll booth? (Quint)


The electoral officials don’t care if you want to vote: as Vice Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Shobana Kamineni found out when she landed at the polling booth—only to be told that her name was not on the Secunderabad voters list. She tweeted out this enraged video clip, and the Chief Electoral Officer has since apologised. But as she points out, “I could meet with him because I have a certain degree of access. What about those who don’t?” In related and ironic news: Quint CEO Ritu Kapur has photos to prove it’s easy to remove the so-called indelible ink used to prevent repeat voting. Want to vote baar baar? All it takes is a little nail polish.


Some Indians don’t care if they vote: Travel bookings are up for the potential five-day weekend looming ahead—thanks to Mahavir Jayanti on April 17, followed by Good Friday on April 19. A slight hitch: April 18 is election day in a number of cities including Chennai and Bangalore. So these folks are taking a holiday from voting, as well. (Times of India)


Oprah and Harry are making a movie: actually, a series of documentaries about mental health for the newly launched Apple TV platform. (Buzzfeed)


Looking into Donald’s eye: is both beautiful and terrifying. This extreme close-up of Trump’s gaze taken by an AP photographer is definitely worth a look. Also: his undereye concealer isn’t doing its job.


Kim Kardashian’s really big dream: is to become a lawyer “to fight for people.” Really! She’s been interning at a law firm and hopes to sit for her bar exams. Bonus: This list of celebs with a law degree includes Gerard Butler and John Cleese. Really?


Your feel-good Friday moments: include the following:

  • This delightful Twitter thread featuring “surreal encounters” with famous people, including Ralph Fiennes “aggressively eating two bananas (one in each hand).”

  • This other delightful Twitter thread featuring awesome doggy photos of  indies and streeties.

  • The news that ‘Andhadhun’ is kicking Shazam’s ass in China.

  • The even better news that Bishop Franco Mulakkal will be the first senior clergyman in Indian Catholic Church history to face trial. He is accused of repeatedly raping a nun.

  • The speedy response of the National Commission for Women to the Hindu Business Line story on sugarcane cutters who are forced to undergo hysterectomies.

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Stuff we buy, use or love.

A ‘do good’ shopping list
The Better India is a widely praised platform dedicated to news that promotes social impact. Each company and product on their site is vetted by their staff so you can be assured of doing good each time you hit ‘buy’.
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When composting sounds scary but you want to try it…

Opt for Te' Stackable Aerobic Home Composting Kit. Its stackable size makes it perfect even for small apartments. And the container is designed to make sure there are no nasty smells or flies. Go ahead, give new life to your kitchen waste

Price: Rs 750 | Te' Stackable Aerobic Home Composting Kit | The Better India

The informer 2

When you’re feeling guilty about all the water you use…

Pick up a Water Saving Switch Adaptor for your taps. We obsess over wasteful showers, but the reality is that we turn on our taps far more often each day—to wash our hands, dishes, clothes. These nifty aerator shells for washbasins and sinks help you control the excess flow. Best bit: they’re fully DIY.

Price: Rs 413 | Water Saving Switch Adaptor | The Better India

The informer 3

When you want to upgrade your shopping bag…

Buy a bunch of Veggie To Fridgie Bags. We love these bags with multiple removable pouches which help keep your groceries separated and sorted. Best bit: you can just take the bag with your bhindis and dump it straight into the fridge. And it’s all 100% cotton and fully washable.

Price: Rs 356 | Veggie To Fridgie Bags | The Better India

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Note: These products are personally picked by the editors. We do not receive any revenue from the brands recommended.

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