Wednesday, August 7, 2019

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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What's actually happening in Kashmir

There were no Kashmir datelines in news stories on Tuesday morning. The Valley’s websites and twitterati were silent—even as the Lok Sabha passed the bill to bifurcate the state. Here’s a quick roundup on the information that has emerged since.


A communications blackout: Mobile, voice data, landline, broadband, and cable TV in Kashmir were inoperative on Tuesday—an unprecedented move even for the Valley. Amit Shah called the measures “precautionary.” OTOH, BSNL denied receiving any order to shut down phone lines, telling Indian Express, “It is another matter if it is not working because of rain or something. Officially, BSNL landlines are not closed in Kashmir.” Meanwhile, Kashmiris outside the state frantically tried to reach their families—and failed. Here’s the best ground report on the lockdown. 


The situation in Kashmir: We finally have some on-the-ground stories from Kashmir today. Indian Express reports from the deserted and defeated Srinagar where one resident says, “What is the point of seeking our opinion anymore? Everything is finished.” Al Jazeera files a report from Baramulla.


A ‘ground report’ from Farooq Abdullah: Amit Shah had categorically claimed in Parliament that Abdullah is not under house arrest. When Abdullah finally emerged to speak to reporters—and affirm that he is indeed a prisoner in his home—the video clips of his anguish went viral. Whatever one’s assessment of his politics, Abdullah's heartbreak is wrenching and undeniable. Watch him talk to NDTV here and address a gaggle of reporters here. (PS: His son Omar is still in custody)


Amit Shah’s response: Shah was pressed repeatedly by opposition leaders on Farooq Abdullah’s absence in Parliament—and the videos of his statements. This is how that exchange went: 

“Responding to Tharoor, the Home Minister said: ‘I have made it clear thrice, Farooq Abdullahji is at his home, he is not under house arrest, he is not under detention. He is in good health, Mauj-masti mein hain, aap zara baat kar lo' (He is having a good time, you talk to him).


[Shashi] Tharoor countered: 'He is saying on TV he is not being allowed outside by you people.’


Pointing his right index finger behind his ear, Shah said: ‘I am saying on record that he is not under arrest. Unko nahi ana hai toh gun kanpatti par rakh kar bahar nahi la sakte hum’ (If he doesn’t want to come, we can’t force him out at gunpoint).”


Our unbiased assessment of Shah’s response: appalling!


Meanwhile in Ladakh: residents are ecstatic at having gained independent status as a Union Territory. Note: Leh is not under any of the restrictions imposed on Jammu or Kashmir. Everyone was talking about MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal’s speech in Parliament where he took direct aim at the two Kashmiri dynasties (Muftis and Abdullahs): “What will be lost with this (move to revoke Article 370) decision? Sirf do pariwar rozi-roti khoyenge aur Kashmir ka bhavishya ujjwal hone wala hai. (Only two families will lose their daily bread, and the future of Kashmir will become brighter)” Quint details the history of Ladakh’s demand for separation from Kashmir. 


China is not pleased: at Ladakh’s newly found UT status and the abrogation of Article 370. Its spokesperson said “India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction” will “impede China’s sovereignty… Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force.” India snapped back: “India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise.” The Wire explains the history of this boundary dispute and the latest spat.


Congress flounders on: The Telegraph sums up the wildly contradictory positions taken by its leaders as the ‘House of Babble’. Or a more accurate title would be ‘House of Blithering’ given the performance of its leaders in the Lok Sabha. Here is Manish Tewari advising Amit Shah to go read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (yup, you read that right). But self-goal of the day goes to Congress’ leader in Parliament Adhir Ranjan Choudhury’s whose speech inspired this look of horror on Sonia Gandhi’s face.

Learn more: Check out this collection of yesterday’s newspaper front pages. Huffington Post reports on the repugnant sexism of men celebrating the end Article 370. Quartz has a clear-eyed analysis of what India loses by making its big Kashmir move -- especially given how Pakistan is likely to read and respond to it. 

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trying to find answers to way too many Kashmir questions

Here is yesterday’s Broadsheet Daily: Many did not receive the email or it ended up in spam—for reasons that remain known only to the tech gods. And it was perfectly timed for the day we did our exhaustive explainer on exactly how the government stripped Kashmir of its special status and statehood. In case you missed it, you can check it out here. Also: we started a ‘Broadsheet Safe Space’ Facebook group where you can ask questions, share concerns, information and more. 


Sushma Swaraj is no more: Everyone’s favourite External Affairs minister died at the age of 67 due to a cardiac arrest. She had recently opted not to contest her Lok Sabha seat due to health reasons. Indian Express pays tribute to India’s most accessible minister.


Toni Morrison is no more: The beloved Nobel-winning novelist died at the age of 88 due to complications from pneumonia. We recommend checking out Quartz’s quirky, nugget-filled profile rather than a standard obituary. Also: The Guardian has assembled a lovely ‘Life in Pictures’ gallery.


Billionaires in slight trouble: The US stock market plunged due to worries of the escalating trade war between China and the United States. The trigger: China let its currency drop back to 2008 levels sparking accusations that it was a “currency manipulator.” The world's 500 wealthiest people lost a collective $117 billion due to the steep fall. Mark Zuckerberg lost $2.8 billion, Bill Gates dropped $2 billion and Mukesh Ambani lost $2.4 billion. (Business Insider)


In more bad news for Ambani: Credit Suisse downgraded Reliance’s stock to ‘underperform’. The reason: its liabilities have dramatically gone up to $65 billion in FY19 from $19 billion in FY15, and its net debt has risen from $2.7 billion to $12.4 billion. (Financial Express)


America’s mass shootings: are out of control. We recommend checking out: this single infographic that says it all; the cover of the New York Times that sparked many to cancel their subscriptions; and this bizarre argument against gun control which has now turned into a #feralhogs meme.


Water shortage is a global crisis: According to a new study, 17 countries around the world are under extremely high water stress—i.e. they are using almost all the water they have. And that includes India—where cities like Chennai and New Delhi are under very high water stress alongside Los Angeles and Mexico City. New York Times offers a must-see world map, while BBC’s report focuses on India—which is now the 13th most water distressed in the world. 


China issues multiple threats: In the face of unceasing protests, Beijing warned protesters not to "underestimate the firm resolve [of] the central government" and not to “play with fire.” Also issued a warning: India which was told that China will impose “reverse sanctions” on Indian companies if New Delhi blocks Huawei due to pressure from Washington.


A Bengaluru Uber horror story: A woman being threatened with sexual assault by her Uber driver hit the safety button. Here’s what happened next: She was left stranded in the middle of a not-so-busy road at night. (SheThePeople)


The India specs of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10: have leaked. (Indian Express)


Thousands of 'indestructible' tardigrades: have crash-landed on the moon—thanks to an Israeli space mission gone wrong. What are they? “Tardigrades are known as one of the toughest creatures on Earth. They are microscopic, measuring about 0.012 to 0.020 inches in length, and can withstand temperatures of up to 304 degrees Fahrenheit and can survive being frozen alive.” And why do you care? Umm, we may have introduced life on the moon, hello? Also: have you seen what they look like? (Newsweek)


Your daily quota of sunshine items: include the following:


  • This gorgeous cover of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Kim’ with a ‘fore-edge painting’.

  • This brilliant poem by Meghan Markle’s favourite poet, Matt Haig.

  • This feel-good gallery of animal-themed hotels. We’d totally camp out in the Trojan Pig… and we hate camping!

  • This feisty (and ungrateful) baby rhino in Assam which was rescued during the floods and then released back into the wild.

  • This bomb squad dog totally whooping it up during his work break. We’re filing this one under #LifeGoals

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Everything we don't know about human desire

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Why am I dreaming about that guy?!!

We recently had a dream nightmare in which a long-forgotten, highly commitment-phobic ex was literally throwing himself at us. So the moment we saw this story, we clicked right through to reassure ourselves… and were not reassured at all! But hey, it’s still a damn good read.

Read: Dreaming About an Ex? An Expert Explores 20 Reasons Why | The Cut

Sex, Love etc 2

This is your brain on porn

Men are turned on by what they see, and women are aroused by what they feel. We hear that explanation a lot—especially as a reason why men watch more porn than women. Well, a new brain-scanning research shows that it isn’t true at all.

Read: Sexual images are just as arousing for women as they are for men | NewScientist

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