Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Smriti Arora
The great Pentagon leak: The latest update
Context: Last week, a trove of highly-sensitive Pentagon documents were shared by an anonymous source on a Discord clubhouse. They revealed serious weaknesses in the Ukrainian defence, sensitive information on the Russian military—and the fact that the US has been spying on everyone, including its allies.
One: The FBI has arrested the person who shared top-secret military info with his buddies on Discord: Jack Douglas Teixeira—a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts National Guard who worked as an IT specialist. Here’s why this kid had access to such sensitive information:
Teixeira served in a junior position, but he had access to an internal Defense Department computer network for top-secret information, called the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter. That access would have allowed him to read and potentially print documents classified at the same level as many of the leaked files.
But what’s really shocking is the lax level of security:
Teixeira said he had stopped writing down the contents of classified documents because “he had become concerned that he may be discovered making the transcriptions of text in the workplace, so he began taking the documents to his residence and photographing them.”
Washington Post has lots of more details on the federal charges.
Two: Wall Street Journal’s analysis of the documents shows the extent to which the US uses a “powerful eavesdropping program” to snoop on allies and rivals. The intelligence contained in them is based on a “signals intelligence report”—where signals intelligence refers to “intercepting electronic communications, from phone calls to emails to radar pulses.” And the kind of information it scoops up is astonishing:
The haul from U.S. electronic eavesdropping, as shown in the leaked documents, is shockingly broad: South Korea’s National Security Council and North Korea’s weapons programs; United Nations deliberations over Ukraine; Russia’s military, its defence firms and the Wagner Group, the private military contractor; the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency; Iran; Colombia, Nicaragua and the Ivory Coast.
This kind of snooping is authorised by a law that permits invasive surveillance of foreign citizens. It is up for renewal by Congress soon. (Wall Street Journal)
Arvind Kejriwal questioned by CBI
The Delhi Chief Minister was interrogated by the agency for nine hours on Sunday—in connection with the liquor excise case (explained in detail here). After the questioning, Kejriwal said: “They asked me questions very politely. I answered all the questions they asked me. As I said earlier also, we have nothing to hide.” The questioning comes a month after the arrest of Deputy CM Manish Sisodia on corruption charges in the same case—but that FIR did not name Kejriwal. (Indian Express)
Also making serious allegations: Former Jammu & Kashmir governor Satyapal Malik. The former BJP leader was the last governor of the undivided state between August 2018 to October 2019. He was in office during the 2019 Pulwama attack—which resulted in the death of 40 CRPF soldiers—and was soon after transferred to Goa. In an interview with Karan Thapar, Malik claimed:
- The Home Ministry refused to approve the CRPF’s request for aircraft to transport their personnel—forcing them to travel by road.
- When he raised this issue with the PM, “Unhone mujhe kaha ki tum ab chup raho” (he told me to keep quiet).
- Malik added: “I can share with you that I had sensed that the entire onus was being put on Pakistan so I have to keep quiet.”
- He also claimed: “I can safely say here that the prime minister is not very against corruption and I can say that because I had once told him about Goa corruption and the very next day he called me and told me that my information is wrong… The very next month I was transferred from there.”
Indian Express has an overview of the allegations made by Malik, The Wire has the transcript of the entire interview. A related read: Gautam Bhatia, writes about the constitutional implications of the statements made by the former Governor.
Political chaos in Sudan
The context: Since a coup in October, 2021, Sudan has been run by a council of generals. The council is split in two due to a disagreement between two powerful generals. Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo is the head of a powerful militia called Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—which has been accused of terrible human rights abuses. And he wants the RSF to be integrated into the regular military. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan—who is the head of the armed forces and in effect the country's president—disagrees. FYI: we did a very interesting Big Story on the coup—looking at how Sudan has been destroyed by “too much democracy.”
What happened now: The country is being ripped apart by bloody clashes between the military and RSF. More than 50 have been killed—and 1,000 injured—though the estimates vary from one source to another. Both sides claim to have seized control of key sites in the capital, Khartoum, such as the presidential palace. BBC News has all the details.
Get ready for ‘aspirational toilets’
We mock the name but this is actually good news for public restrooms—which are in appalling condition. The government announced plans to build clean, high-tech toilets across the country:
A quarter of all new public restrooms in Indian cities will soon have high-end features such as luxurious bath cubicles, touchless flushing, breast-feeding rooms, and automatic sanitary napkin incinerators. These will be indicated as “aspirational toilets” on Google Maps… The high-end public conveniences may also have attached libraries, cafes, and shopping complexes to help raise funds for their maintenance and upkeep.
These will be built in popular tourist and religious destinations—and in busy markets, railway stations, inter-State bus depots and National Highways. The Hindu has more details on this happy plan—which is sure to make everyone happy, especially women.
Sugar wars: Bournvita vs Insta influencer
Instagram influencer Revant Himatsingka put up a video flagging the sugar content in the iconic drink—–forced on generations of Indian children in the name of good health:
In the now-deleted video, the influencer first pointed out the benefits of Bournvita. Later he pointed out that Bournvita has sugar, cocoa solids, a colour 150 degrees C (which he claimed was cancer-causing), an emulsifier, and liquid glucose. "They have 50 grams of sugar per 100 grams. Basically, the entire half of this bag is only sugar!" he said.
He also took a dig at the brand’s tagline 'Taiyari jeet ki'—rephrasing it as 'Taiyari diabetes ki'. Even politicians entered the fray—with Trinamool Congress leader Kirti Azad announcing plans to take legal action against Cadbury. All of which made the company furious. Himatsingka took down the video soon after—sharing this pointedly worded message:
I have decided to take down the (Bournvita) video after receiving a legal notice from one of India’s biggest law firms on 13 April. I apologise to Cadbury for making the video. I did not plan or intend to infringe any trademark or defame any company nor do I have the interest or resources to participate in any court cases and I request MNCs to not take this forward legally.
As to who is right in this battle, we point you to our Big Story on food labelling in India—which is grossly misleading thanks to the powerful packaged food industry. (The Print)
Also in legal trouble: Kannada actor and activist Chetan Kumar—who was recently arrested for a tweet that declared “Hindutva is built on lies.” The government has revoked his Overseas Citizen card–—given as part of the permanent residency program to Indian-origin foreigners. Kumar has been arrested multiple times—for criticising the judiciary and Hindu rightwing groups. He plans to challenge the move in court. (The Telegraph)
Two things to see
One: Diljit Dosanjh became the first-ever Punjabi artist to perform at the Coachella over the weekend. You can see the famous DJ Diplo grooving to ‘Patiala Peg’.
And here’s a taste of Dosanjh’s excellent performance:
Two: Legendary author Haruki Murakami released a new novel after six long years—titled ‘The City and Its Uncertain Walls’ (“Machi to Sono Futashikana Kabe”). Look at the long lines outside a bookstore in Tokyo to grab a copy. (Japan Times)