Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Trump is in even bigger trouble
#DocumentGate just became even more perilous for the ex-president—and GOP presidential frontrunner. Last month, he was indicted for illegally holding on to 31 classified documents after he left office (See: this Big Story). The prosecution has now added three new charge that are even more serious: “Attempting to ‘alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal evidence’; inducing someone else to do so; and a new count under the Espionage Act related to a classified national security document that he showed to visitors at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.” The New York Times details the evidence cited by the revised indictment.
Meanwhile, in India: The union government has asked the CBI to investigate the viral video clip of two naked Kuki women being assaulted by a Meitei mob. And its Supreme Court affidavit has made “a specific request that the entire case, including the trial of the offence in question, be ordered to be transferred by this court to any state outside the state of Manipur.” (The Telegraph)
Jio aur Blackrock ki shaadi
The financial giant plans to re-enter India via a joint venture with—who else—Reliance, specifically, Jio Financial Services. Each party in this 50-50 partnership will put in $150 million in an asset management venture. That’s just another term for wealth management—aimed at maximising the investment portfolio of customers. This is Blackrock’s second stab at making it in India. It exited the country in 2018 but has been lured back by a rapidly expanding market, according to experts. Assets under management of Indian mutual funds doubled to Rs 44.39 trillion ($542 billion) in the five years as of June. Of course, the protective embrace of Mukesh-bhai doesn’t hurt either. (CNBC)
Farewell, our beloved Maharaja
Air India is retiring its mustachio-ed mascot and has declared him “outdated”:
“Air India wants to become the carrier of choice for people flying in and out of India,” said a person aware of the development. “A large section of the fliers will be business travellers, corporate executives. Maharajah, who wears a turban and has an outsized moustache, though a very successful story, doesn’t resonate anymore with these kinds of customers. It has also been maligned, repurposed multiple times.”
He will still do some post-retirement duty at the airport lounges—but will no longer be part of ad campaigns. The crew uniform colours will also include purple—to acknowledge Vistara’s merger with AI. Economic Times has the problematic history of the chubby raja.
Three AI stories of note
Income tax: The IT department plans to use artificial intelligence to detect fraudulent claims for exemptions on rent or home loans. These are most susceptible to fakery because “no documentary evidence is required. Salaried employees often claim deductions under Section 80C for various expenses, making them more susceptible to temptations of tax evasion.” (Economic Times)
Netflix: Right now, Hollywood actors and writers are on a historic strike—and one of their key concerns is the threat posed by AI to their livelihood (See: this Big Story). So what does Netflix do in the midst of this high-tension drama? Put out a posting for an AI product manager with this JD:
Their tasks will include developing the "strategic vision" for Netflix's use of AI through its machine learning platform, which the company says "offers ML/AI practitioners across Netflix the means to achieve the highest possible impact with their work by making it easy to develop, deploy and improve their machine-learning models."
AI alliance: Four of the key AI companies—Anthropic, Google, Microsoft and OpenAI— have created an industry body called the Frontier Model Forum to ensure “safe and responsible development” of artificial intelligence. Bloomberg News (paywall) and Axios have all the details.
A heartbreaking beaching of whales
Ugh! Despite the best efforts of local authorities and researchers, almost 100 long-finned pilot whales died in Western Australia. When the pod first rushed the beach and stranded themselves, rescuers were able to herd 45 back into the water. But they beached themselves again later in the same day—and had to be euthanized. What made this tragedy really eerie is that the pod formed an odd heart shape just before the stranding:
While mass strandings are not unusual, pilot whales have never before displayed behaviour to signal one is imminent. FYI: we still don’t know why whales beach themselves. It may be a ‘follow the leader’ response of the pod when the matriarch becomes unwell—and swims into shallow water. Or it may be a reaction to loud underwater sounds. (New York Times)
A new regimen for high blood pressure
Current health guidelines recommend moderate aerobic exercises like cycling, walking and running. But a new study says strength training is far more effective at lowering blood pressure. What the researchers recommend: “Two minutes of wall squats, or holding the plank position four times with two minutes' rest in between, three times a week.” BBC News has lots more information—including a visual guide to wall squats.
Four things to see
One: Ryan Gosling and Simu Liu had an awkward red carpet moment—the latter tried to put his arm around the other. A seemingly cranky Gosling brushed Liu off—apparently saying: “Don’t hold me there, man. I mean, do you want me to touch you like that?” Interestingly, only Liu denied any kind of beach-off—describing Gosling as the “best human in every way.” To be fair, a Google search reveals Gosling and his co-star Margot Robbie also appear to follow a hands-off code on the red carpet. (Independent UK)
Two: Fans of ‘Only Murders in the Building’ rejoice! The trailer for the third and final season just dropped. New additions to the cast include Paul Rudd and—wait for it—Meryl Streep!! It releases on Disney+ Hotstar on August 8.
Three: We’re not exactly the target audience for ‘Gadar 2’—Sunny Deol’s comeback flick. But we’re happy for him—and for the reboot of the cult classic ‘Main Nikla Gaddi Leke’. You can hear a snatch of it in the trailer below. The film releases in theatres on August 11.
Four: Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur’s ring fetched more than $1 million at a Sotheby’s auction—making it the most valuable bit of hip hop memorabilia. He wore it on his last public outing before his death at the 1996 Video Music Awards. CNN has lots more on the ring.