Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Karnataka CM melodrama: The latest update confusion
Each of the leading newspapers makes a different claim. Indian Express emphatically declares that Siddaramiah will get the top job—and DK Shivakumar will settle for Deputy Chief Minister. But there is no attribution to any kind of source—named or unnamed. Times of India uses more cautious language but also indicates that the deal is sealed—thanks to the intervention of Sonia Gandhi. The Telegraph limits itself to the last official party statement—which said the decision will be made in the next 48-72 hours—and debunked all media reports to the contrary. According to The Hindu, the party ‘high command’ has settled on Siddaramiah but Shivakumar refuses to give up his demand for the CM post. We leave you to believe who you will:)
Imran Khan vs the Pakistan military: The latest update
The context: The former prime minister has been holed up in his residence ever since he was released from jail. Khan had been arrested on corruption charges—but gained a reprieve when the Supreme Court declared the arrest illegal. He has since directly accused the powerful military establishment of trying to throw him in jail—and violating human rights—all of which is a political no-no in Pakistan. This Big Story has everything you need on his arrest.
What happened now: Khan’s Lahore residence has been surrounded by police—even as the government accused him of harbouring “30 to 40 terrorists” at his home. Khan took to Twitter—claiming he will soon be arrested—which hasn’t happened yet. But he also seems to have shifted gears—accusing the government of engineering a confrontation between him and the Army: “I was a known face. Name another Pakistani who defended the army the way I did on international media.”
More worryingly, there are clear signs that the country is slipping back toward military rule:
Pakistani authorities have said they would prosecute civilians involved in recent anti-government protests in military courts. The army chief, General Asim Munir, said in a speech to troops on Wednesday that “recently planned and orchestrated tragic incidents will never be allowed again at any cost.”
Al Jazeera has more details.
The Met readies to return stolen art
The context: The illegal trade of antiquities is one of the largest black markets in the world—valued at $10 billion a year. The recovered objects range from Cambodian sand sculptures to mosaics from the Roman emperor Caligula’s ship. Despite concerted efforts to recover stolen Indian antiquities, many of them are still being held by galleries and museums around the world. The most infamous among art thieves is Subhash Kapoor—a well-connected Manhattan arts dealer and patron of the Met—who sold a long list of priceless objects to the museum. We did a two-part series on this—the first looked at who steals antiquities from India; and the second explains why museums and galleries are only too happy to buy them.
What happened now: The Met is hiring four experts to “more thoroughly” investigate the provenance of its collections. They will look at objects that originate from foreign countries—including Egypt, Greece, Italy, Nepal, Nigeria, Turkey—and happily, India. Missing from this list: stolen Native American art. A recent ProPublica investigation found that only 15% of 139 tribal works gifted by a wealthy donor had proper ownership histories. Point to note: the museum has been more responsive to claims made by foreign governments—and recently returned 16 artefacts to India. (ProPublica)
Two important tech updates
Google: You better login to any old gmail account that you no longer use. The company plans to delete any account that has been inactive for more than two years. And all your data will be wiped out. The reason:
The company pitches this as a way to prevent spam. The blog post says that "abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification set up," and once they get compromised, they become vectors for spam and identity theft. Deleting old accounts and freeing up storage is also probably a good way to cut costs, which has been a thing at Google lately.
The mass deletion will happen this December. (Ars Technica)
Apple: People who may soon lose their voice—due to disease—can now preserve it on their iPhone or iPad:
According to Apple, users can create a Personal Voice by reading a set of text prompts aloud for a total of 15 minutes of audio on the iPhone or iPad. Since the feature integrates with Live Speech, users can then type what they want to say and have their Personal Voice read it to whomever they want to talk to. Apple says the feature uses “on-device machine learning to keep users’ information private and secure.”
This is just one of the many new features that increase accessibility. The Verge has more on the rest.
Haryana: Cybercrime capital of India
The state has emerged as the new hotbed of cyber crime—replacing Jharkhand of Jamtara notoriety. According to new data, 34,258 mobile numbers from the state were reported for fraud. The most blocked SIM cards—12,822—were issued in Andhra Pradesh, followed by West Bengal and Delhi. We’re not sure what to do with this information—except pay closer attention to the origin city of unknown numbers? (Indian Express)
Doggie brains getting bigger
Domesticated species typically have smaller brains than their wild counterparts—including dogs vis a vis wolves. The reason: “Domestication decreases brain size by about 20%, as animals no longer need to hunt or fend for themselves—nor do they face as much peril as they do in the wild.” But dogs seem to be evolving in the reverse direction.
According to new research, modern dogs—from the past 160 years—have far larger brains than those of ancient breeds. In fact, the further a breed is from its wolf ancestors, the bigger its brain. Scientists have no explanation for this phenomenon, only a hypothesis: “Perhaps the more complex social environment, urbanisation, and adaptation to more rules and expectations have caused this change.” And at this rate, future breeds may well catch up with wolves. (Popular Mechanics)
Defining India’s ‘one percent’
The annual Knight Frank report estimates how much money it takes to be part of the hallowed ‘one percent’ in 25 countries. The number for India: $175,000 a year—which puts us at #22. At #1: Monaco where it takes a whopping $12.4 million to qualify. Switzerland ($6.6 million) comes in second—followed by Australia ($5.5 million), New Zealand ($5.2 million) and the United States ($5.1 million). (Quartz)
Three things to see
One: Johnny Depp staged a splashy comeback at the Cannes film festival—which marked his first public appearance since the ugly legal battle with his ex Amber Heard. He received a seven-minute standing ovation for his performance as King Louis XV in the film ‘Jeanne Du Barry’. How you feel about that likely depends on which team you picked in the Depp-Heard wars. (Variety)
PS: In comparison, Indians are making a relatively low-appearance—with three Indian movies premiering at the event. But none of them are up for an award. We can, however, console ourselves with viral images of Sara Ali Khan’s red carpet ghagra. Well, the lacework is lovely 🤷:
Two: Aww, someone found a puppy hiding in an early Picasso painting titled ‘Le Moulin de la Galette’. It was covered by layers of paint—and was revealed by an X-ray scan. Loosely related side-note about dogs on tables: later in life, Picasso’s beloved dachshund named Lump had a seat at the dinner table in his Cannes mansion. (Hyperallergic)
Three: Fans of the food-fic series ‘The Bear’ will be happy to know that the trailer for season 2 just dropped. If you haven’t checked out Season 1, we urge you to do so asap—so you can be ready for the next instalment which drops on Hotstar on June 22. (The Verge)