Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Smriti Arora
Finally: Trump is indicted for fraud
After weeks of suspense, a New York grand jury has finally indicted the ex-Prez on 30 counts of business fraud. This is the first time in American history that a current or former president has faced criminal charges. The actual charges are not known since the indictment is still sealed. The case focuses on a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s then-personal attorney Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels—just days before the 2016 presidential election. It was supposedly an attempt to stop her from going public about her alleged affair with Trump.
Trump responded by calling it “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” adding: “I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden. The American people realize exactly what the Radical Left Democrats are doing here.” As you can see, his vocabulary remains as stellar as ever. (CNN)
Russia arrests a WSJ correspondent
The Federal Security Service arrested Moscow correspondent, Evan Gershkovich, on espionage charges—which carries a jail term of 20 years. He is accused of “collecting classified information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex.” The Russians insist, “We’re not talking about suspicions. He was caught red-handed.”
This is the first time that an American journalist has been jailed for espionage since the end of the Cold War. Gershkovich's latest piece focused on the collapsing Russian economy and he was working on a piece on Wagner—a private military company run by President Putin’s close friend, Yevgeny Prigozhin. His mercenary troops have been critical in the Ukraine invasion. WSJ has strongly denied claims, saying they “stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.” (The Guardian)
Yet another Amritpal video
The manhunt for the Waris Punjab De chief has turned into a farce. He has now released a second video. In this one, he calls upon the chief jathedar at the Akal Takht to hold a Sarbat Khalsa (assembly of Sikhs):
It is a test of how strong a stand you take for the community… There is a need to mobilise Sangat. There is a need to bring them together and free them from the fear of the government. We should come together and fight for the community.
Amritpal also denies that he is on the run: “Those who feel that I have turned fugitive and I have left my associates, they should not keep this illusion in their mind. I do not fear death… And soon will appear before the world and will also be amongst the 'Sangat'.” We have no idea wtf is going on here. For more on the bizarre rise of Amritpal, read our Big Story. (Indian Express)
The world’s most internet addicted country is…
South Africa! According to a new global report, its citizens spent 9 hours and 38 minutes online. Others in the top five include Brazil (9 hours and 32 minutes), the Philippines (9 hours and 14 minutes), Argentina, and Colombia (tied at 9 hours and 1 minute). Where is India? We have the world’s largest “unconnected” population—with 730 million people still not using the internet at the start of 2023. China is #2 with almost 375 million. The full report is here. (Quartz)
Two key stories on health
One: The US health authorities have approved over the counter sale of Narcan—a nasal spray that can reverse opioid overdose. It will be the first such drug that is available without a prescription. More than 100,000 U.S. deaths a year are a result of overdose—and most of those are caused by synthetic opioids like heroin and fentanyl. (Associated Press)
Two: Scientists have created an app that can detect depression in less than a minute by listening to a person’s voice. The user reads a passage from Aesop’s fable ‘The North Wind and The Sun’. And the app then analyses their tone of voice, their volume and how often they pause in speech to reach a judgement—which is 84% accurate. Why this matters:
The speech of depressed patients usually becomes more monotonous and quieter; they pause more often…. We proved that with the help of acoustic biomarkers, depression could be recognised earlier, and an automated decision-making software would be a highly beneficial diagnostic tool. It could be used in general medical practices and in the form of easily available, low-cost mobile or web applications.
Lalit Modi vs Rahul Gandhi
The IPL founder has finally woken up to Gandhi’s 2019 remarks—which resulted in his conviction for criminal defamation—and subsequent disqualification from the Lok Sabha. Reminder, Gandhi said:
I have a question. Why do all thieves have Modi in their names whether it is Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi? We don’t know how many more such Modis will come out.
Now, Lalit Modi is suddenly threatening to sue Gandhi in a UK court—claiming he has never been convicted of any crime. Point to note: Modi was suspended from BCCI in 2010 for misappropriation of funds. And he fled the country before an FIR was filed against him. (The Hindu)
In more trouble for Gandhi: He has been summoned by a Patna court in a defamation case filed by another BJP party leader for the same remark. (The Hindu)
India’s own Fyre Festival for startups
When it comes to scams, Indians are second to none. We now have a made-in-India equivalent of the infamous Fyre Festival—except it was called the World Startup Convention. Dubbed the “world’s biggest startup-funding event,” it was scheduled to begin on March 24. Ads for the event claimed a star-studded lineup of speakers—including Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, Gautam Adani, Sundar Pichai, and Elon Musk. It was even promoted on social media by the likes of Ankur Warikoo, Chetan Bhagat and YouTube influencer Praful Billore.
People spent their hard-earned money on tickets and flights only to find that there were hardly any investors at the convention. A number of the attendees have filed police complaints—and some brand sponsors are planning to sue. More amusingly, when asked why the likes of Pichai and Musk didn’t show up, one of the organisers said: “There were a lot of prestigious investors and when they saw the drama, they immediately left.” Quartz has more details.
Three things to see
One: First up, we have the trailer for Wes Anderson’s ‘Asteroid City’—starring an absurd number of stars—including Tom Hanks, Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Carell, Margot Robbie, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton and Willem Dafoe. Ok, you get the point. It will hit the theatres on July 26. Collider has more details.
Two: Next, the trailer for ‘Maidaan’—a biopic starring Ajay Devgn as the architect of modern Indian football—Syed Abdul Rahim. Yes, it also seems like a rehash of the ‘Chak De! India’ formula. The movie is set to release on June 23.
Three: Last not least, we have a diamond called ‘The Eternal Pink’—which is expected to fetch more than $35 million at auction. It weighs a whopping 10.57 carats—and was discovered in De Beers mine in Botswana. Well, it is very large and very pink. (CNN)