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The Wire launches an internal investigation
The context: A Wire investigation claimed BJP IT chief Amit Malviya has superuser privileges that allows him to take down offending posts at will. When accused of fabrication by Meta, the news site published what looked like an internal email by communications chief Andy Stone—which also appeared to be fake. Since then, The Wire has revealed more digital ‘evidence’—all of which appears to be problematic.
What happened now: While laying out its authentication process, The Wire cited the opinions of two independent experts who had verified some of the digital documentation. Both of them have now denied ever doing so. The digital news site has launched an internal inquiry:
“This will include a review of all documents, source material and sources used for our stories on Meta. Based on our sources’ consent, we are also exploring the option of sharing original files with trusted and reputed domain experts as part of this process.”
But during this period, all articles on Meta have been taken down. Read the statement here.
Meanwhile, in the United States: A former Wall Street Journal reporter claims that a law firm used Indian hackers to steal emails between him and a key source. The messages showed Solomon and an Iranian aviation executive discussing going into business—and were circulated to WSJ and others. Since this is a serious conflict of interest, Solomon was fired. (Reuters)
Eye-opening revelations in Bilkis Bano case
The context: As you may remember, the 11 men who raped the survivor of the 2002 Gujarat riots—and killed her three-year-old child—secured early release from their life imprisonment terms. The decision to do so is being challenged by a number of petitions filed in the Supreme Court. Our Big Story has more context.
What happened now: In response to the Court’s orders, the Gujarat government revealed on Monday that the men were released because they “completed 14 years and above in prison… their behaviour was found to be good”—and, most notably, it was done with the “concurrence/approval” of the union government. This was done over the objections of the local police officials and the CBI. Yesterday, it also admitted that ten of the 11 men had been temporarily allowed out of jail for a total of 1,000 days—while serving their prison term. The 11th spent 998 days as a free bird. (Indian Express)
Meanwhile, in the Delhi High Court: JNU activist Umar Khalid’s bail petition was rejected. The judges decided there is sufficient ‘prima facie’ evidence for his “terrorist” activity inciting the 2020 Delhi violence. The Telegraph has that story.
Two stories from the Iranian frontline
Death of Asra Panahi: The 16-year-old was beaten to death by Iranian security forces when she refused to sing. They raided the school and tried to force a group of girls to sing an anthem that praises Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. When the students refused, they were beaten severely—and many were admitted to the hospital—including Panahi who later succumbed to her injuries. Her death has only served to feed the incandescent rage among young Iranian women—and fueled the protests sparked by the custodial death of Mahsa Amini (See: our Big Story). (The Guardian)
The disappearance of Elnaz Rekabi: The competitive climber did not wear a hijab while competing at the finals of a global tournament in Seoul. This is a violation of Iran’s rules for its women athletes—who are required to cover their hair at all times, even during international competitions. She appeared to have gone missing, with the media abuzz with rumours that her phone and passport have been seized—and that she will be thrown in prison. But Rekabi has since resurfaced on Instagram after returning to Iran—where she apologised for the “worries that I caused.” She said her head covering “inadvertently faced a problem” because "there was poor scheduling and I was called to climb unpredictably.” You can watch her hijab-less moment below:
Speaking of brave protesters: A mysterious man staged a rare protest against President Xi by raising a banner across a bridge in Beijing. He has since been arrested—and many are trying to ascertain the identity of this ‘Bridge Man’—after the "Tank Man" who stood in front of a line of tanks during the Tiananmen protests. And similar banners have now been raised across the world in solidarity. (BBC News)
Two key studies for women to note
Nicotine effects: New research shows that nicotine contained in just one cigarette can reduce the production of oestrogen in a woman’s brain. Now, researchers don’t know how or why this is significant. But they note that there are significant differences between men and women when it comes to smoking—and this could explain the gender variation:
“Women seem to be more resistant to nicotine replacement therapy, they experience more relapses, show greater vulnerability to the heritability of smoking, and are at greater risk of developing primary smoking-related illnesses, such as lung cancer and heart attacks. We need now to understand if this action of nicotine on the hormonal system is involved in any of these reactions.”
Health Line has more details.
Hair products: Hair straightening more than four times a year may double the risk of uterine cancer—according to a large US study. To be more specific: “We estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70, but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%.” But scientists still don’t know what ingredients in these products are driving this link. (Reuters)
Netflix unveils ‘profile transfer’
The new feature allows users to move their profiles—along with all their personalised settings—to a new account. Why is Netflix being so helpful? It is a way to make the crackdown on account sharing less painful. You can politely ask your old roomie or ex to get their own account without seeming mean. As The Verge notes:
“The setup flow is full of upbeat guidance about how you can now ‘own your account and keep everything you love about this profile’ and leaves a backup copy of the profile in the existing account. (There’s plenty of opportunity for passive-aggressively starting this process for the person you’d like off your account, just saying.)”
And the Ballon D’Or goes to…
The prestigious honour for the best football player is awarded by the French news magazine France Football. This year, Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema was the winner—becoming the first Frenchman to do so in 24 years. The last being Zinedine Zidane in 1998. FYI: Benzema scored a career-best 27 times in LaLiga—and he was the top scorer in the Champions League with 15 goals, which included hat tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea. Also notable: Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women’s category for the second consecutive year—the first woman to do so. ESPN has details about both the players here and here while The Guardian offers a glowing profile of Benzema and his career.
Two things to see
One: It can be hard when you are a bit too popular. The kākāpō±the world’s most adorable and “fattest” parrot—has been suspended from competing in New Zealand’s ‘Bird of the Year’ competition. The reason: it has been the winner for two consecutive years—and the organisers want to give other endangered species a shot at the spotlight. This matters since the whole point of the contest is to raise awareness about conservation. Washington Post has more on how insanely serious this competition has become. And as a special treat, here is Benedict Cumberbatch introducing you to the kākāpō. See, this is a VIP parrot!
Two: Yes, yes, India is playing Pakistan on October 23—which is a big deal at the best of times. But this is a T20 World Cup match so, of course, The Rock is doing the promo!