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Wednesday, March 6, 2019
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Billionaire of the day

Forbes magazine has officially dubbed Kylie Jenner as the “youngest self-made billionaire ever.” Jenner’s hit the magic ten-figure number at 21—two years earlier than Mark Zuckerberg. And her Instagram-fueled empire is built on a cosmetics company which consists of just seven full-time and five part-time employees. Forbes’ perfect closing line: “She is, after all, the first selfie-made billionaire.”

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EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT...

The biggest news story today, explained.

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The arrest of Abdul Rauf Asghar 

In a flurry of actions over recent days, Pakistan has cracked down on a number of banned terror groups within its territory. The latest and most decisive is the arrest of Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar’s brother.

 

What happened? The government announced the arrests of 44 members of banned terror groups, including Masood's brother, Abdul Rauf Asghar and Hamaz Azhar—who is Masood's son. According to Pakistan’s Interior Minister, they have been “taken in preventive detention for investigation." The two men were also named in the intelligence dossier on Pulwama which New Delhi shared with Islamabad last week. Also notable: Islamabad has finally banned Hafeez Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its associated Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). JuD was formerly Lashkar-e-Taiba whose members engineered the Mumbai 26/11 attacks

 

Wait, why not Masood himself? Pakistan did not mention his name. The last we heard on Masood is from the Pakistan Foreign Minister who declared him very unwell and unable to leave his house.

 

Ok, is this a big deal then? Abdul isn’t exactly small fry. He is on the ‘Most Wanted’ list of the National Intelligence Agency because of a track record which includes:

  • The hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight to Taliban-controlled Kandahar in 1999. Hijackers successfully negotiated the release of three militants from Indian custody, including Masood. He would go on to found JeM soon after.

  • The 2016 Pathankot attack where six JeM gunmen stormed an Indian Air Force base Kashmir resulting in a three-day siege. Abdul openly took credit in an audio clip mocking India for being unable to foil six mujahideen.

  • Acting as the now ailing Masood’s trusted deputy. Abdul has taken charge of JeM’s operations whenever his brother was forced underground in the past.

 

So is Pakistan finally taking action? It’s too early to say. The government under Nawaz Sharif came down heavily on JeM right after Pathankot—arresting both Masood and Abdul. More tellingly: back in 2001, Masood was put under house arrest right after the attack on the Indian Parliament. He was held for a year and then let go because the Pakistanis never charged him of any crime. There is no reason to think these arrests are any different... as yet. Pakistani officials have pointedly said, “In case we don’t find any evidence against them, we will release them.”

 

Then again: Islamabad is under unprecedented international pressure, and at a time when its economy is on the edge. The biggest stick right now is in the hands of the Financial Action Task Force. The global financial watchdog group has already warned Pakistan for not taking sufficient action against terror groups. Being blacklisted would trigger international economic sanctions which will devastate Pakistan. And it’s the FATF not Pulwama which is the primary trigger for the current crackdown, as the Foreign Minister made clear in a TV interview.

 

What’s next? The US, UK and France have moved a resolution to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council. March 13 is the deadline for any country to raise an objection. China—which has moved three times in the past to block such a move—hasn’t said a word so far.

 

Learn More:  Here’s the best of what’s out there on the crackdown.

  • Indian Express offers the best overview.

  • New York Times offers a fuller picture of the international pressure on Pakistan to act.

  • This older Mint piece explains why China has protected Masood at the UN in the past. Times of India reports on what India is doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again this time. The Wire decodes Pakistan’s signals indicating a new stance on Masood.

  • This 2016 Firstpost article offers the most detailed take on the rise of JeM.

  • Also re-upping this older Foreign Policy analysis which explains why Pakistan’s latest actions ought to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt.


In related Balakot news: Rahul Kanwal did a rare thing for a leading journalist these days. He politely asked Railway Minister Piyush Goyal a direct question about the proof (or lack thereof) on the casualty count at the India Today conclave. Goyal’s response was apoplectic and astonishing. (clip here, story over at News Laundry)

 

In related terror news: Three improvised explosive devices were found near major London transport hubs yesterday. While one burst into flames, no one was hurt. The packages had Irish stamps on them. (Metro UK)

 

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

adding ‘rape’ as a keyword to your Tripadvisor search

 

Trump’s trade shocker for India: He has kicked India off the list of countries that receive preferential trade treatment—which allowed duty-free entry for $5.6bn worth of Indian exports to the United States. Our crime: we won’t allow the US “equitable and reasonable access” to our market. India is now gearing up to impose retaliatory tariffs on $10.6 billion worth of US imports. While New Delhi is playing down the impact of the US move, Mint explains why it is a big deal.

 

Game of Thrones final season trailer: is here. And here are the seven big reveals in it.

 

Twitter’s new tool to fight toxic trolls: on your timeline will allow you to hide their comments. However, other Twitter users will be able to see that you have done so. A Twitter official says, “We think the transparency of the hidden replies would allow the community to notice and call out situations where people use the feature to hide content they disagree with.” (Wired)

 

TripAdvisor has a rape problem: The world’s largest travel site is continuing to promote hotels which have sexual assault charges lodged against their staff. When rape survivors directly contacted TripAdvisor to complain, it encouraged them to publish first-person accounts of their experience instead—which then are buried among thousands of user comments. (Guardian)

 

Spotify is a big hit in India: The music streaming platform added its first million users within a week. However, the company refused to specify how many of these are paying for their listening pleasure. (CNN)

 

Dhoni plays ‘catch me if you can’: Man invades pitch. Mahi decides it’s time for a fun game of tag. Priceless clip here.

 

‘The Office’ may never be the same again: The BBC and Aditya Birla’s Applause Entertainment are making an Indian version of the series which will stream on Hotstar. Say hello to Jagdeep Chaddha, “the hapless boss of paper company Wilkins Chawla in an industrial park on the far outskirts of Faridabad.” Also coming to Hotstar: Indian remake of ‘Criminal Justice’ (Better known as the US ‘The Night Of’ starring Riz Ahmed) and Israeli TV series ‘Hostage’. (Hollywood Reporter)

 

Akshay Kumar is coming to Amazon: with a Prime Original series titled ‘The End’. Given his bizarre stunt (video here) at the announcement event, we think it’s more aptly titled ‘Man on Fire’. (India Today)


There is such a thing as ‘keto crotch’: and it’s yet more proof that God hates those who embrace unholy low-carb diets. (Women’s Health)

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SEX, LOVE ETC.

Everything we don't know about human desire

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A Translation of Dating App Messages

The most awkward part of dating is not being able to say exactly what you think. And the pressure is even greater when you’re texting strangers who you may possibly want to shag. Here then is a handy and hilarious translation of 27 date app-speak phrases, ranging from ‘lol’ to ‘cute pic’ to ‘So what do you do?’ All is subtext in love and sex.

 

Read: If You've Ever Used A Dating App, Then You Know These Messages All Too Well | BuzzFeed

Sex, Love etc 2

Can Infidelity be a Good Thing?

The immensely popular couples therapist Esther Perel certainly thinks so. She argues for “a more nuanced and less judgmental conversation about infidelity” which recognises that “the intricacies of love and desire don’t yield to simple categorizations of good and bad, victim and culprit.” This thoughtful and sympathetic analysis of her latest book doesn’t buy entirely into her philosophy. Like all truly good book reviews, however, it raises questions that are as worthy of our attention as Perel’s provocative thesis.

 

Read: In Defense of Adulterers | New Yorker

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