Friday, September 27, 2019

Video of the day

Actor Nandita Das's delightful music video spoofs our obsession with fair skin. Titled ‘India’s Got Colour’, the tongue-in-cheek number features a number of Bollywood actors including Radhika Apte, Ali Fazal and Swara Bhaskar. Nope, none of the super-bleached A-list signed up to be part of this project.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


The biggest news story today, explained.

image orange sidebar everyone's talking about image orange sidebar

Blowing the whistle on Trump

Yes, the never ending Ukraine scandal continues. Today’s installment involves a whistleblower report that was finally made public. And it does not disappoint.

A super-speedy recap: President Trump got on a call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in July. Based on the available evidence, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate his political rival and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The available evidence as of yesterday was a memo that captured key points of the conversation—released by the White House. Also: leaked details of a whistleblower’s complaint—which in turn triggered the impeachment inquiry recently announced by the House Democrats. (This Broadsheet explainer has all the details)

What happened yesterday? The House Intelligence Committee released two documents. One, the declassified copy of the whistleblower’s complaint. Two, a letter from the intelligence community’s Inspector General who investigated the complaint. Also: the acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified in front of Congress.

And? Here’s what we know today:

  • White House officials were “deeply disturbed” by the call because they had “witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.”

  • A number of them “intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced.”

  • This involved storing that transcript on a separate system reserved for highly classified information—presumably to bury it by severely limiting access.

  • Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani had been pressuring Ukrainians to dig up dirt on the Bidens—both before the call and afterwards. If you recall: Trump urged Zelensky to work with Guiliani during the call. 

  • Also of concern to officials: Trump’s threat to freeze US aid to bully Zelensky—who apparently knew that he would have to “play ball” to even get on a call with Trump.

  • The Inspector General’s preliminary investigation determined that the complainant has reported “an urgent concern” that “appears credible.”

  • In his congressional testimony, acting intelligence chief Maguire threw the White House under the bus, saying: "I believe that the whistleblower and the Inspector General have acted in good faith throughout. I have every reason to believe that they have done everything by the book and followed the law."

Who is this whistleblower? The whistleblower’s identity is only known to the Inspector General. But the New York Times has a scoop which claims he is a CIA officer who was deputed to the White House at some point. What is clear: he was not present during the call but had sufficient inside knowledge—which is presumably why the complaint was deemed credible. And the Inspector General’s letter hints that he is not a Trump supporter. 

Learn more: New York Times has detailed takeaways from the whistleblower’s complaint and an exclusive scoop on his identity. CNN reports on the intelligence chief’s testimony and why it did little to help the White House. The original copy of the complaint is here, and the Inspector General’s letter is here. Read Broadsheet's explainers on the transcript released by the White House and impeachment inquiry

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


embracing the gorgeous colour of your skin

An appalling ‘Swachh Bharat’ shame: Two Dalit children—aged 12 and 10—were beaten to death by two upper caste men. The reason: they were caught defecating out in the open. Why were they defecating in public? Their father’s answer: “The panchayat built latrines for everyone but not for us. When I was told I am eligible for a house and a latrine, I applied for both with a secretary. But was told it had been rejected.” To recap: the upper caste villagers would not grant him a toilet under the Swachh Bharat scheme. Then they killed his children for defecating in the open. The upper caste villagers claim that one of the perpetrators was “mentally unstable” and the killing had nothing to do with caste. On-the-ground reporting by both The Hindu and the Indian Express suggest otherwise.

Your Kashmir update is here: Here’s a quick roundup of key reporting on the state of the Valley:

  • The Telegraph UK has details of a new report that claims 13000 Kashmiri boys have been detained since August 5. The Hindu has a related report on desperate parents looking for news of their arrested sons—including one who hasn’t seen his 11-year old for 22 days.

  • Huffington Post has a ground report based on police sources who say that the government is bullying street vendors and shopkeepers to stay open for business—to maintain an air of normalcy.

  • The Print reports on plans to build prefabricated huts to house the thousands of security forces who were rushed into the Valley before Section 370 was canceled—suggesting that ‘normalcy’ will not be returning any time soon to the Valley.

  • The New Humanitarian has a feature on a growing medical crisis created by the lockdown—doctors are no longer able to check on or treat their patients with serious medical conditions including cancer.

  • In a related story, Quartz reports on how protesters with pellet injuries—who fear being arrested if they go to the hospital—are being treated with knives and bicycle spokes.

  • National Herald has the sanitary pad crisis created by the lockdown.

Coming soon, a detention centre in Bangalore: It sounds unbelievable but it is true. Karnataka will soon become the second state after Assam to open a detention centre for illegal immigrants. This is a must-read ground report on the panic that is spreading across Bengali Muslim workers in the city. (The Federal)

The monsoon ain’t going nowhere: Like that annoying party guest who arrives late and then refuses to leave, the monsoon is set to stick around until late September—which hasn’t occurred in nearly 60 years. And it isn’t petering out either. Meteorologists predict heavy rains will continue across many parts of the country. (Times of India)

Trolling Greta Thunberg: The climate movement is currently being led by teenage girls—not just Greta but many others around the world who are speaking out. And they’re making angry men even angrier. Buzzfeed reports on the young girls who have remained undaunted in the face of vicious abuse and death threats. Related and more delightful clip: This very funny ad for ‘The Greta Thunberg Helpline’.

[Trigger warning for sexually violent content]

This twitter thread is an important and urgent read: The conversation around rape in India is overwhelmingly focused on women and girls. No one wants to acknowledge an even more taboo fact: men are raped too. Yesterday, a brave teenager on Twitter shared the experience of being raped in a public toilet. And Twitter did good by stepping up to help and support. The content is raw but we believe we can’t fight the battle against sexual violence if we do not first acknowledge it. Read it here.

Bombay mourns Boman Kohinoor: The 97-year old owned one of the city’s iconic restaurants, Brittania, which was famous for its berry pulao and caramel custard. But it was even more famous for its owner—lovable, eccentric and obsessed with the British royal family. Conde Nast Traveller covered his tongue-in-cheek campaign to meet William and Kate back in 2016. India Food Network put together a lovely video profile that captures his gentle and indomitable spirit. BBC has details on his life and reputation. A related read: Mumbai Mirror pays tribute to Saadat Hasan Manto’s Bombay.

Tinder wants to take you to the movies: The dating app has integrated its newly released streaming content with its recommendation algorithm. Here’s how its ‘Swipe Nights’ feature will work. Every Sunday, watch a 5-minute episode of its post-apocalyptic love story—which requires you to make choices that determine the storyline. Tinder will then offer you a new set of matches based on your unwise selections—like that time you picked a bag of Cheetos over a first-aid kit. (Wired

Remember the ‘the pee tape’? During the 2016 election, there were persistent rumours that Donald Trump had hired Russian prostitutes to perform ‘golden showers’ on the bed in the presidential suite of the Moscow Ritz Carlton. The reason: the Obamas had previously stayed at the suite. Apparently, there has been a ‘video clip’ (may or may not be fake) of the event making the rounds for ages—but no one wants to talk about it. Slate now has conducted an in-depth investigation into its veracity. 

Indian kiddies are on the internet: According to the latest industry report, 66 million children between the ages of five and eleven are accessing the internet on family devices. That’s 15% of the active internet users in India! Also shocking: there are half as many women internet users as men. (Times of India)

Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • Photos of China’s insanely large star-shaped airport with the world’s biggest terminal.

  • The best puppy video ever featuring a beagle, a piano and a toddler. Nope, it’s not the toddler on the piano. 

  • This awesome woman on a scootie who let a truck driver know who’s boss in Kerala.

  • This equally inspiring woman in Georgia who used her amazing strength for good—i.e. rescuing two deer with her bare hands.

  • This witty anti-manspreading chair invented by British designer Laila Laurel.

  • This how-to video for deep-fried oreos is hilarious enough, but the accompanying comment is priceless.
Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


Stuff we buy, use or love.

 A Binge-fest For True Crime Fans
Last week, we started a series of crime-themed Informers. Part one introduced us to a line-up of excellent Indian detective novels. In part two, we bring you a feast of true and messier stories of murder and intrigue. Enjoy!
image blue sidebar The informer image blue sidebar

When you are in the mood for an immersive read...

We recommend two equally brilliant and very different books. 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ is a classic by John Berendt that transports you to 1980s Savannah, Georgia—where the colourful location and wacky characters will stay with you for years to come (Read more here). 

Or jump to an entirely different century (1840, to be precise) in ‘The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher’ which features the murder of a three year old—and will put any Victorian whodunit to shame (New York Times has more). 

Price: Rs. 644 | Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil | Amazon

Price: Rs. 341 | The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher | Amazon


The informer 2

When you prefer to listen to a great murder mystery…

Here are two podcasts that are perfect for your daily commute. ‘‘Serial’ kicked off both the podcast and true crime boom in the US. Our favourite remains Season One which revisits the case of a Pakistani-American high school kid accused of killing his Korean-American girlfriend. Did he or didn’t he? The series brilliance lies in the fact that you’re never really sure (Read a rave review here). 

Another great recommendation from our Ambassador, Vasundhra Kaul: ‘APM Reports: In the Dark’—which looks at one of the most notorious child abduction cases in America. But unlike ‘Serial’, this one is not interested in establishing guilt, but instead investigates the highly bungled investigation (Read New Yorker on the ‘best podcast of the year’). 

Price: Free | Serial: Season One | Serial Podcast

Price: Free | APM Reports: In The Dark | Apple Podcasts

The informer 3

When you just wanna binge-watch instead…

Opt for ‘The Staircase‘ recommended by our Ambassador Miraj Vora. Directed by Oscar-winning Jean-Xavier de Lestrade—and described by The Guardian as a “titanic piece of work”—it offers a piercing look at the investigation of a shifty and unreliable novelist who is suspected of killing his wife. This is truly "the god-father of the true crime documentary". 

Or take an unfamiliar look at a highly familiar story in ‘Aarushi: Beyond Reasonable Doubt’. This Channel News Asia series offers a bracingly clear-eyed look at the investigation—without taking sides and focusing its laser eye on our deeply compromised system. This is the best India-focused true crime series we personally have seen. 


Price: Free | The Staircase | Netflix 

Price: Free | Aarushi - Beyond Reasonable Doubt | Channel News Asia 


Note: These products are personally picked by the editors (or in this case trusted Ambassadors). We do not receive any revenue from the brands recommended.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo

Or just select, copy and send this link to your friends and you score some cool swag in the process:
Follow us on
Facebook logo Instagram logo Twitter logo

Be an Ambassador

To connect with one another, get unique access, invites to private events,
exclusive content and much more.
Not a subscriber? Sign up here.
Unsubscribe Unsubscribe from this list.
Our mailing address is:
Copyright (C) *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|* All rights reserved.