Researched and collated by: Rachel John, Ayaan Malhotra & Divrina Dhingra
Russia is buying North Korean arms
According to a US intelligence report, Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea. This is likely a response to Western sanctions that have made it difficult for Moscow to acquire military supplies. Contrary to Russian hopes, China has not been willing to flout the ban. As a result, Russia is turning to countries like Iran and North Korea instead. Point to note: Washington selectively declassifies intelligence—usually to show that the Russian military is struggling or that its sanctions have worked. (New York Times)
A big fat Porsche IPO
In a “historic moment”, Volkswagen announced its plans to publicly list the iconic car brand. Only 12.5% of Porsche’s shares—without voting rights—will be available on the stock market. Another 12.5% will be sold to the Porsche family heirs—while VW continues to hold the rest. Analysts expect the IPO to raise €10.6 billion—making it the biggest listing ever by a European company. (Wall Street Journal)
Asia Cup: India on the precipice
The team is poised on the edge of elimination after a six-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in the Super Four. Virat Kohli and KL Rahul were notably bad—with Kohli losing his wicket for a foolish slog. If Pakistan beat Afghanistan at Sharjah on Wednesday, we will be out of the tournament. The Telegraph and The Hindu have more details.
A key change in Indian airport security
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has long been in charge of all aspects of security at airports. However, the government has now abolished over 3,000 CISF posts across 50 airports—and transferred the duties to private companies. These contractors will be responsible for all “non-sensitive” duties such as queue management etc. But the CISF remains in charge of frisking passengers, letting you into the airport and other core security areas. The reason for the change: CISF salaries are more expensive than outsourced guards. (The Hindu)
On a related note: The RSS headquarters in Delhi has been given CISF security cover as of September 1.
A link between diabetes and depression
Rising levels of type 2 diabetes are having all sorts of knock-on effects. A UK study found that 43% of people diagnosed with the disease also had depression. Notably, younger people are at greater risk of developing mental health issues: people under the age of 40 were 50% more likely to suffer from depression than people over 50. Lead researchers say: “The higher risk of developing depression with young-onset diabetes may be partially explained by a higher burden of other risk factors including obesity and smoking.” (Times UK)
In other worrying health news: A devastating outbreak of measles has claimed the lives of 698 children in Zimbabwe since April. Of these, 37 died in just one day. The country has 6,444 confirmed cases right now. The key reason for this tragedy is the resistance to vaccination among conservative Christian sects. (Associated Press)
In better news: India approved its first ‘made in India’ Covid vaccine nasal spray—made by Bharat Biotech. (Mint)
New data on primary education
The government conducted a massive nationwide study of 86,000 Class III students in 10,000 schools. It found that in the area of basic numeracy and maths, 11% did not have the basic grade-level skills; 37% had limited skills; 42% had sufficient skills; and 10% had superior skills. Tamil Nadu at 29% was the worst performer. In English, 15% lacked basic skills, 30% had limited skills, 21% had sufficient skills, while 34% had fairly superior skills. Languages like Tamil fared far worse—with 42% lacking basic skills. (Indian Express, paywall)
The Booker shortlist is out!
The prestigious literary award announced the six novels that made the final cut:
- ‘Glory’ by NoViolet Bulawayo
- ‘Small Things Like These’ by Claire Keegan
- ‘The Trees’ by Percival Everett
- ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ by Shehan Karunatilaka
- ‘Oh William!’ by Elizabeth Strout
- ‘Treacle Walker’ by Alan Garner
The Guardian has more details on each of the books.
Instagram cancels Pornhub
The platform removed the online porn company’s account—which had 13.1 million followers and more than 6,200 posts. Now, Pornhub does not share explicit content on Insta—which also did not offer any reason for its decision. The likely reason is a lawsuit accusing Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, of distributing child pornography. The plaintiffs include women who as teenagers were forced into taking explicit videos—which were then uploaded to the platform. FYI: Pornhub still has Twitter and YouTube accounts. Also this: Instagram was recently fined a record $402 million by Irish authorities for compromising data of children—aged between 13 and 17. (Variety)
Four things to see
One: PETA is in the middle of a very public Twitter battle with the Tamil Nadu government over an elephant named Joymala—who lives in Srivilliputhur Andal Temple. The animal rights organisation tweeted out a clip of her being beaten by temple officials—which caught the attention of Bollywood stars like Madhuri Dixit and Arjun Rampal. The government responded by sharing a video of Joymala frolicking in a bathing tank—insisting that all is well with her. FYI: Joymala was transported from Assam to the temple. So there is pressure on the Assam government, as well. (NDTV)
Warning: The PETA video is very difficult to watch:
This is what the TN government shared:
Two: OceanGate Expeditions released stunning 8K footage of the Titanic—which lies 2.4 miles below the surface of the Atlantic, and 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland, Canada. It is basically a promo video for its pricey $250,000 expedition that offers you a personal tour of the most famous shipwreck—accompanied by dive experts, Titanic historians, and research scientists. (CNN)
Four: Director Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ cannot stop generating controversy. First, there were rumours of a nasty rift between Wilde and lead actress Florence Pugh. Now, this clip of Harry Styles allegedly “spitting” at his co-actor Chris Pine has gone viral—though Pine’s rep stoutly denies any such thing happened. Page Six has more gossipy details.