Tuesday 15 September 2020

(Un)Lawful Arrests

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Sanity Break #1

It’s only Tuesday and the weekend is far, far away. Thank god for the for the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards! Say hello to Terry the Turtle. Yes, he is a bit rude.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

THE ZHENHUA DATABASE: AN UPDATE A database leak from Chinese company with links to Chinese security networks revealed that it was collecting vast amounts of data on 2.4 million prominent people around the world. The number for India: 10,000. (We explained the story at length .) Today, has a follow up focusing on the data collected on tech startups and founders—though it doesn’t add anything new. say that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is preparing “an assessment”:   > “While the reports clearly state the scale of the operation, we are more concerned about its depth—to what level of detail the > Chinese firm is profiling individuals in terms of data points, the financial investment in hardware facilitated by its partners, > and the need for upgrading cyber hygiene at our end.”   Meanwhile, in the US…: Cyber security experts are as the Australians by Zhenhua’s data collection drive—calling it mostly “aspirational”: “There might be gold in there, but this is not something that’s useful enough for military or intelligence targeting.” Translation: it’s a whole lotta hype. Also worth a read: Digital privacy expert Nikhil Pahwa’s which points out that much of this kind of data scraping is legal and very common—and we don’t have laws to prevent it.   In China-related news: India Chinese troops of laying down a network of optical fibre cables at the south of Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh—to enable high speed and secure communication. Indian troops still rely on old-fashioned radio communications. TIKTOK FINALLSY SAYS 'I DO' The great TikTok swayamvar appears to have finally come to an end. Microsoft has been jilted (see dukhi statement ), and Oracle’s won the big prize—but no one knows exactly what it is. Oracle has been designated as a “trusted tech partner,” which suggests that it isn’t actually buying the US operations. As notes:   > “It’s still unclear exactly what Oracle’s 'trusted tech partner' status entails, but it’s definitively not a sale, and it’s > unlikely Oracle is taking over any significant operations from the US TikTok offices. Microsoft’s version of the deal would have > severed American TikTok from Europe and Asia entirely, but Oracle’s version of the deal leaves it mostly intact. US TikTok will > stay the same as Korean TikTok and Nigerian TikTok; it’s just getting an extra babysitter. That makes it less of a sale and more > of a glorified hosting deal. It lets Trump say he’s solved the problem but doesn’t do much else.”   Point to note: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is a big Trump supporter. Also read: five critical questions about the deal.   In highly related news: YouTube has launched a TikTok clone in India called YouTube Shorts. has the details. THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * 17 members of the Lok Sabha and eight from the Rajya Sabha have —detected thanks to mandatory tests carried out before the start of the Parliament’s monsoon session.   * Israel is a second lockdown that will last three weeks. The reason: a sharp spike in cases in recent weeks. The number of daily new cases is now 4,000—which is low by global standards but may be enough to overwhelm Israel’s healthcare system.  * Newly published (and chilling) in the New England Journal of Medicine show how quickly and aggressively the virus invades human lungs. * Fans in Japan can matches in sports stadiums—but they have to be ekdum chup! No singing, shouting, chanting or drumming allowed. * According to a , 64% of Indians said they neither plan to visit a restaurant nor order restaurant food at home. * A far more important read: A report on an Agra village on the edge of starvation due to the pandemic.   THE BIG MIGRANT WORKER QUESTION Verbal question and answer sessions in Parliament have been suspended due to the pandemic. That allows the government to offer damningly to critical questions. Example:    > Q: Did thousands of migrant labourers die during the lockdown? > > A: No such data is available. > > Q: Was any compensation given to the families of migrant workers who had died while returning home during the lockdown? > > A: Question does not arise because no data of people dying on the way is kept. Another damning answer: The Solicitor General of India to allow the registration of same-sex marriages in these blunt terms: "Our laws, our legal system, our society and our values do not recognise marriage, which is a sacrament, between same-sex couples.”   HEY BIG B, TURN UP THE VOLUME! Amitabh Bachchan will be the first Indian celeb to become the voice of Alexa. According to Amazon, the Big B Alexa “will offer jokes, weather, advice, shayaris (Urdu poetry), motivational quotes, and more.” Oh, and you will have to pay extra for that little privilege.  ()   SIGNS OF LIFE ON VENUS? Scientists are super excited about a new study that found a substance called phosphine in Venus’ clouds. The reason: “Phosphine is created from phosphorus with three hydrogen atoms. On Earth it is primarily produced naturally by life in oxygen-poor ecosystems.” Experts have ruled out any known natural routes for phosphine production on Venus—be it lightning, volcano activity, or delivery via meteors. So where did it come from??? has a lot more for astronomy nerds. THESE WHALES ARE NOT HAPPY : Since late July, pods of killer whales have been attacking sailing boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal. Witnesses say the assaults seem deliberate:    > “The noise was really scary. They were ramming the keel, there was this horrible echo, I thought they could capsize the > boat..And this deafening noise as they communicated, whistling to each other. It was so loud that we had to shout. It felt > totally orchestrated."    Experts say that such behaviour is highly unusual and likely caused by stress. The Gibraltar orcas are endangered and there are only 50 of them left—due to extreme food scarcity caused by overfishing of blue-fin tuna: “I think they know that humans are somehow related to the scarcity of food.”    But others say the behaviour may be connected to the sudden reduction of noise pollution due to the pandemic. And they’re angry at the return of boats after a period of great quiet.   : A bunch of humpback whales took a wrong turn on their annual sea migration—and have ended up in a crocodile-infested river in Australia. This is also an unusual first. Two have managed to find their way out, but at least one is still stuck in croc territory. Biologists are scrambling to find a way to lead it out to safety.   HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BARBARY BABIES! Barbary lion cubs—the rarest lion subspecies in the world— in a Czech zoo. Their current population: 100. So big badhaiyaans all around!  

(Un)Lawful Arrests

Sanity Break #2

Whether or not you end up watching ‘’ on Netflix, we absolutely insist you check out this little '' from the series titled ‘Aunty Kisko Bola Bey?’

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF INTRIGUING FASHIONABLE THINGS One: This is a Louis Vuitton . It has many gold studs. It costs… some absurd amount yet to be decided.   Two: This is Christian Louboutin’s latest sneaker named Loubishark. Apparently, it is “” : The Italian company Morà Busoli is the only brand in the world that sculpts spectacle frames by carving solid marble and precious stones. Yes, they’re the ‘price on request kind’. (h/t )  

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

LIFE’S CERTIFIED TRUTHS… : Stop fricking saying ‘baby steps, baby steps’—they are certifiably the hardest. : Tom Cruise is certifiably insane. FYI: This is a stunt for Mission Impossible 7. : Steve Martin is certifiably the funniest. FYI: This is his hack for celebs in great fear of not being recognised.  

Feel good place