BROAD//SHEET
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
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Number of the day: 273 million

That’s how many people India will add to its population between now and 2050, according to a new UN report. The world’s population will rise by two billion from 7.7 billion to 9.7 billion—hitting peak population by the end of the century at 11 billion. India will thereafter remain the most populous country in the world with 1.5 billion inhabitants. China will be a distant second at 1.1 billion.

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EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT...

The biggest news story today, explained.

image orange sidebar everyone's talking about image orange sidebar

Facebook’s brand new cryptocurrency

The company made waves around the world with its latest announcement: a new cryptocurrency called Libra. The ambitious plan—slated to roll out in 2020—may reshape financial services around the world.

 

What’s this again? Libra, simply put, will be a currency just like the dollar or the euro.

 

Really? Well, that’s the plan. A person will be able to buy Libra using their local currency either through Facebook, WhatsApp or a special Colibra app—or at offline exchange points. Then you can use your Libra anywhere you want—to shop in Dubai or grab some coffee in London or hail an Uber to work.

 

How is this possible? Libra will be managed by a Swiss-based nonprofit which is led by Facebook. But more importantly, the other 27 founding members include eBay, Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Coinbase and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. That kind of buy-in means any place that accepts Mastercard or Visa would also take Libra—as would a number of services like Spotify, Uber etc. And that list of member companies is expected to grow before the 2020 rollout.

 

How is this better than normal money or using Paytm? There are three advantages if it works as planned:

  • It’s seamlessly global. A person can use local currency to buy Libra and send it anywhere in the world. As Mark Zuckerberg puts it, “I believe it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo.”

  • Unlike bank transfers or credit cards, transaction fees will be near-zero.

  • Unlike other wallet services, you don’t need a bank or credit card to buy Libra. One of its stated goals is to cater the vast number of people who don’t have bank accounts or cards.

 

And the downside? There’s always a downside. In this case:

  • The currency is controlled by a select group of global companies—unelected and unanswerable to citizens.

  • Facebook has a giant trust problem. The company insists the user data will be kept strictly private and not used for advertising. But then this is Facebook—which may also make people reluctant to embrace Libra.

  • Libra poses a significant threat to traditional financial services which are sure to push back.

  • Most governments don’t like cryptocurrencies. The French Finance Minister has already said, “It is out of question [that Libra] become a sovereign currency… It can’t and it must not happen.” Indian analysts are also skeptical as to whether regulators will allow cryptocurrencies to enter the country.

 

Wait, what’s with that crypto bit? Libra is a cryptocurrency, i.e. all its transactions are encrypted using blockchain technology. Simply put: each transaction is executed using a system that is highly decentralised and private. But unlike bitcoins—whose value often swing wildly—its value will be tied to actual financial assets held with banks and an array of stable currencies like the euro etc. So its exchange rate will be mostly reliable. However, Facebook plans to comply with local regulatory requirements so don’t expect transactions to be untraceable a la bitcoins.

 

The bottomline: With two billion users around the world, the company has an unrivalled advantage—which is why Vox calls it “the most consequential cryptocurrency effort” in recent years. Facebook hai, to (shaayad) mumkin hai.


Learn more: CNBC offers more info but TechCrunch has the most detailed explainer. Vox outlines what’s in it for Facebook, and why Libra is likely to succeed. Bloomberg (via Yahoo) is more skeptical—scroll down for a bit to get to the analysis. Economic Times reports on the (low) likelihood that Indians will have access to Libra.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

secretly humming Taylor Swift’s new song

Iran-US hostilities heat up… again! Iran threatened to amp up its uranium enrichment program within ten days—the first step towards developing a full-fledged nuclear weapon. The US now plans to send another 1000 troops to the Middle East—on top of the 1500 sent in May. Europe is watching helplessly from the sidelines. Throw in the attacks on oil tankers, and we have the perfect recipe for imminent chaos. The Atlantic dissects Trump’s failure to bully Iran. Broadsheet’s explainer has all the background you need to understand this mess.

 

An ugly start to the new Parliament: BJP lawmakers heckled mostly Muslim and Trinamool members while they took their oath as newly elected MPs. The taunts of choice: ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. The Trinamool folks out-shouted them with the likes of ‘Jai Kali Maa’ and, in one case, a Hindu shloka. The best ‘yo momma’ comeback belonged to a cheery Asaduddin Owaisi who did this. (Quint)

 

Taylor Swift has a new music video: for her latest single, ‘You Need to Calm Down’—and it has a lot of celeb cameos including Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, RuPaul and Ryan Reynolds. Watch it here. Or read The Onion’s snarky take on the video’s LGBTQ theme. Or read Vox on how Swift monetises gay pride.

 

Tinder India may have a ‘rape law’ problem: Indian laws are perverse. Marital rape is legal, but consensual sex between unmarried adults can be deemed ‘rape’—if, for example, a man promises to marry a woman and then changes his mind. But in this bizarre met-on-Tinder story, all it took was a bit of commitment-phobia to land a Bangalore man in jail. (Bangalore Mirror)

 

The world’s number one all-rounder: in the 50-over format is not Ben Stokes, or Hardik Pandya, or Glenn Maxwell but… Bangladesh’s Shakib al Hasan. And he proved it in the match against West Indies. (The Field)

 

The 'happy ending' story of the day: involves a new-born baby discarded on a garbage heap in Rajasthan, an awful clip (warning, it is truly awful) of her that went viral, and a journo couple who tracked her down via Twitter and now plan to adopt her. (CNN)

 

This is how you make way for an ambulance: as demonstrated by over a million Hong Kong protesters. Truly amazing! Watch the clip here.

 

Indians want everything ‘extra’: According to Uber Eats, its Indian customers love an extra helping of everything: extra sauce, onions, mayo, cheese… Most popular late night order: Chicken biryani. With extra raita, of course. (Quartz)

 

That’s not cricket, old chap! Take animated clips, splice on audio commentary from iconic cricket moments. The result: hilarious. (YouTube)


The most insane hats at Royal Ascot: are right here. The Brits are so entertainingly weird. (Metro UK)

This is a strawberry moon: and it is very pretty. (Daily Mail)

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SEX, LOVE ETC.

Everything we don't know about human desire

image levendor sidebar Sex, Love etc image levendor sidebar

Are you an animal in sex?

What is the difference between human sex and the animal kind? Or maybe we are just the same: males want to spread their sperm, and females look for high-quality offspring. That’s long been the thesis of evolutionary psychology except… only humans know that sex leads to babies. And that is a profound difference.

Read: Sex makes babies | Aeon 

Sex, Love etc 2

Are you who you have sex with?

Here’s the big question: why is there often a gap between sexual identity (what we call ourselves) and sexual behaviour (what we actually do)? The sheer range of human behaviour—straight women who occasionally have sex with other women, for example—isn’t captured by ever-lengthening acronyms like LGBTTTIQ. So why do we need fixed identities like hetero, gay, bisexual etc? (Also: that Buzzfeed headline does injustice to a wide-ranging and insightful essay on sexual identity)

Read: Not All Queer People Feel Like They Were “Born This Way” | Buzzfeed

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