Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Photo of the day

This powerful photo shows a protester in Hong Kong facing off against a policeman with a drawn gun. And it is drawing parallels to the famous image of ‘Tank Man’—the young man who stared down a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Mercifully, the policeman didn’t shoot, just kicked the man over, and he then walked away.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The deluge of bad news from Kashmir

A flurry of news reports indicates that all is not well for Kashmiris—even as the government contemplates releasing some of the state’s political leaders.

The doctor who disappeared: The biggest story raising concern—even among those who support the government’s actions in the state—is the arrest of a Kashmiri doctor. Here’s what happened: 

  • Omar Salim, a urologist at the local medical college, turned up at Srinagar’s press enclave to speak to the media. He was wearing a doctor’s coat and holding a placard that said he was making a “request and not a protest”.

  • He then spoke to reporters about the disastrous effect of the lockdown on patients. The reason: it’s creating serious shortages in medicines and cash available at banks. He then gave examples: people who can’t afford dialysis treatments; cancer patients who cannot order chemotherapy drugs; the 15 lakh beneficiaries of government health schemes who cannot claim benefits.  

  • Salim’s most powerful quote: “If patients don’t receive dialysis, they will die. If cancer patients don’t receive chemotherapy, they will die. Those patients who can’t be operated on can die.” 

  • But within ten minutes, the soft-spoken doctor was whisked away by the army and has since disappeared. (Watch him speak to BBC Urdu—the clip ends with him being taken away)

Also sounding the alarm: Three panchayat leaders who arrived in Delhi to speak out on behalf of their constituencies. Villages have not received government rations since August 5. Worst hit are nomadic tribes like Bakerwals who are at the brink of starvation. One of them says: “In every village we visited there is a shortage of food and medicines, and people say that some have died for want of medicine. Even paracetamol and baby food like milk is not available. It feels like the government wants to starve us to death.” Point to note: These men defied the election boycott in the Valley and risked retaliation from terrorists to become panchayat leaders. (The Telegraph)

Army raids at midnight: There are multiple ground reports of the army conducting raids in the middle of the night.  

  • A young man in South Kashmir tells Scroll, “The army comes at night, sometimes they don’t even have have police with them… First they cover the mosques so that an alarm cannot be raised [from the loudspeakers] there, then they raid. They come to beat up people, 12 am, 1 am at night.”

  • Quint’s report—which is even more alarming—suggests that boys as young as 11 are being whisked away in these raids. 

Not certifiably dead: According to the Independent, the government is refusing to issue death certificates to those killed in clashes with security forces—in order to maintain its zero-casualty claim. And when they are issued, the cause of death is often fudged.

The only glimmer of good news: The J&K government is planning to release at least 173 leaders of the prominent regional parties. It will be done in phases in the coming days. The first batch will focus on “ailing and ageing leaders” and those who “pose the least threat to the law and order situation.” According to The Hindu, the number of senior leaders arrested include 70 from Omar Abdullah’s National Conference, 79 from People’s Democratic Party, 12 from the People’s Conference and 12 from Congress.

Coming up next: The Supreme Court today is set to hear a batch of ten petitions challenging various government actions in Kashmir—ranging from the revocation of Article 370 to the communication blockade. (Hindustan Times)

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humming that awesome Lizzo single in the shower

A dramatic new ‘stop Brexit’ plan: Opposition leaders are worried that PM Boris Johnson will shut down Parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit—a scenario where Britain drops out of the EU without a deal in place and general mayhem ensues. And they are not being paranoid. Leaked emails show that Johnson is considering a plan for a five-week shut down which will prevent MPs from a) blocking a no-deal Brexit; b) seeking an extension to the EU deadline of October 31; or c) ousting Johnson in a no-confidence motion. So leaders of the major opposition parties (including a Tory rebel) have united to sign what is being called the ‘Church House declaration’. It promises to create an “alternative Parliament” if Johnson attempts to shut down the actual one. (The Guardian)


Pakistan may shut India out: Remember when Pakistan closed its airspace after Balakot? Well, it may make that move permanent—at least when it comes to India. A Pakistani minister tweeted, “PM is considering a complete closure of airspace to India, a complete ban on use of Pakistan land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in cabinet meeting, legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration.” And that’s a serious threat to Indian airlines who lost Rs 620 crore thanks to longer flight routes, refuelling charges etc. And to Indian passengers who saw their flight times and ticket prices shoot up. (Times of India)

This is the face of Indian tennis’ future: In the first round of the US Open, Sumit Nagal managed to wrest the first set from the mighty Roger Federer, no less. But his 6-4 triumph was soon a distant memory and he lost the next three sets 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. But that first set is an indication of a bright future for the 22-year-old and Indian tennis. And even Federer agrees—Nagal is the first Indian to take a set off him. On a related note: author Chetan Bhagat appeared to have a problem remembering Indian tennis’ past, tweeting: “Grew up being told that India has no chance in singles tennis at the global level. Just now @nagalsumit from my country won a set against The Roger Federer at the #USOpen…” Indian Twitter promptly went nuts.

Karnataka’s porn-loving minister is back: Remember the MLAs caught watching porn on their phones in the legislature. Well, one of them is now a Deputy Chief Minister. At the time, Laxman Savadi claimed he was just watching sex clips for "educational purposes, to know more about the rave parties.” No doubt, this time he will stick instead to shuddh desi sanskaari porn. (NDTV)

The VMAs offered many delights: Exhibit A: Excellent non-binary fashion on the red carpet. Exhibit B: This show-stopping performance by Missy Elliot. Exhibit C: This rock star body-positivity anthem by Lizzo who stole the show. It’s a must-watch! Exhibit D: A very fun best/worst dressed list from Cosmopolitan.

A force field against mosquitoes: Researchers have come up with a solution to save us from machhars: graphene. The material is made of a single layer of carbon atoms and is extremely lightweight—and yet 100 times stronger than steel. Hence, mosquitoes can’t penetrate clothes lined with graphene oxide. Better yet, the material prevents them from sensing the presence of human blood. A little hitch: it only works when completely dry—which makes it virtually useless for most parts of the world infested with mosquitoes. But scientists are confident they will eventually create an all-weather version. (Gizmodo)

Fashion brands rethink Myanmar: Some of the biggest names in the retail business source their clothes from garment factories located in key industrial zones in the country. They include Next, Bestseller, H&M, Marks & Spencer, C&A and Esprit. But a recent UN report revealed that these are part of a vast business empire controlled by the military—and its revenues are used to fund brutal operations against Rohingya Muslims. Now, Esprit has announced that it will cancel all future orders from these factories. H&M is “seriously” looking into it. And Marks & Spencer refused to answer media queries. Just so you know… (Nikkei Asian Review

Doritos releases an anti-ad: for a Gen Z generation that hates being sold anything. It has no logo or packaging—nothing that indicates the name of the product or the company. Watch it here.

Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • This delightful CNN video on the weird handshakes and air kisses shared by Modi, Trump, Macron et al during the G7 summit. Super delightful: this viral meme that captures an “intimate moment” shared by Justin Trudeau and Melania Trump.

  • This lovely old photo of PT Usha—look who’s sitting on her lap! (click through, you won’t regret it).

  • Two maps of India that prove just how amazingly multilingual we are as a nation—especially the ‘second language’ map.

  • The excellent news that Tamil Nadu is rolling out ‘Amma’ patrol cars to keep women safe in Chennai. Look, pink cop cars!

  • Bored of fake-looking fashion influencers trying to look authentic on Insta? We present these wonderful Chinese sisters (both designers) who are making fashion fun and fabulous on Tik Tok.

  • Another excellent Tik Tok video offers the perfect ‘recipe’ to rescue the economy. It’s sooo silly, you have to laugh.

  • The late George Bush Sr (former US prez but now better known as Dubya’s daddy) wrote both a White House memo about his fat dog and a letter to a dog. And both are a hoot.

  • Dear cat lovers, prepare to meet your king! Honestly, we don’t know how else to describe this feline wonder.

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Everything we don't know about human desire

image levendor sidebar Sex, Love etc image levendor sidebar

Living Apart Together… and happily so

The idea of being hitched yet choosing to live apart isn’t new (Hello, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow). However, the LAT option is gaining renewed popularity with a generation that prefers to self-design every aspect of their lives—including their relationships. Unlike the sixties, these couples are not making a statement. It’s all about keeping it chill and convenient. 

Read: LAT: The Relationship Status That More & More Millennials Are Signing Up For | Refinery29

Sex, Love etc 2

Why can’t I stop chasing him, already!

Ah, that age-old question: Why do we always fall for unavailable or hard-to-get people? The popular answers usually have something to do with low self-esteem or parental issues. But the deeper truth is that our brains are hard-wired to respond to ‘bread-crumbing.’

Read: There are psychological reasons why we want what we can't have l Business Insider

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