Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Manipur violence: The latest update
Photographs of the bodies of two Meitei students surfaced on social media—soon after mobile Internet services were completely restored over the weekend:
One of the photos that emerged shows the two youngsters sitting next to each other outdoors, with two men carrying arms standing behind them. The second purportedly shows their bodies slumped on the ground next to each other, with [one girl’s] head missing.
Until now, they had been labelled as missing. The photos sparked a fresh round of protests—and triggered yet another internet ban. FYI: this is one of the 11 cases that has already been transferred to the CBI—and the only one that involves Meitei victims. That said, angry Meitei residents are demanding immediate justice—as was meted out in the case of the three Kuki women who were paraded naked. This Big Story has all the context you need. (Indian Express)
BJP’s bold state election strategy
It’s far too early to say whether this is a stroke of Amit Shah genius—or an act of hubris. But the party has decided to contest five upcoming state elections without a Chief Minister candidate. The states: Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram. The most prominent BJP leaders left out in the cold: CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and ex-CM Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan. In fact, Chouhan is not even on the list of Assembly election candidates announced thus far. The Telegraph and NDTV have more on this risky strategy.
Byju’s big fat layoffs
The edtech startup plans to fire as many as 5,000 employees—soon after the appointment of a new CEO. One person said: “There is a cash flow issue. This will help resolve it by the end of October." In other words, Byju’s is strapped for money—more so as it is under pressure to repay a whopping $1.2 billion loan from US lenders (See: this Big Story). (Moneycontrol)
Meanwhile, over at Amazon: The US Federal Trade Commission and 17 states have filed a lawsuit—accusing the company of inflating prices, stifling competition and overcharging sellers. CNN has that story.
Also doing poorly: JP Morgan—which is shelling out $75 million to the Virgin Islands—to settle claims that it enabled Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking operations:
The Virgin Islands, where Epstein had an estate, sued JPMorgan last year, saying its investigation has revealed that the financial services giant enabled Epstein’s recruiters to pay victims and was “indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise." It had been seeking penalties and disgorgement of at least $190 million, in addition to other damages.
Yeah, that is not a good look. Quartz has more details.
Canada vs India: The latest update
One: Sikhs in Canada have been staging an increasing number of protests across the country. One hundred protesters burned the Indian flag in Toronto—and whacked a cutout of PM Modi with shoes. Reminder: it is legal to burn the Canadian flag under its Constitution. To be honest, we’re not impressed—and the clip below reveals why. Please, at least learn to burn an effigy. Raj karega Khalsa indeed! (Reuters)
Two: On a more serious note, the investigation media outlet The Intercept reports that the FBI warned Sikhs in the US about threats to their lives:
Pritpal Singh, a political activist and U.S. citizen who is a coordinator for the American Sikh Caucus Committee, told The Intercept that he and two other Sikh Americans involved in political organizing in California received calls and visits from the FBI after Nijjar was killed. “I was visited by two FBI special agents in late June who told me that they had received information that there was a threat against my life,” said Singh. “They did not tell us specifically where the threat was coming from, but they said that I should be careful.”
To be fair, it seems terribly unlikely that RAW will start assassinating Sikh leaders willy-nilly in the midst of a global diplomatic row. But it does indicate the fact that the US does take allegations of New Delhi’s involvement in Nijjar’s killing seriously. (The Intercept)
Asian Games: An equestrian triumph
When the sport made its debut at the Asian Games in 1986, the Indian team also made history by winning three gold medals that year. But it’s been a long drought since. It finally ended when four 20-somethings—Anush Agarwalla, Hriday Chheda, Divyakriti Singh and Sudipti Hajela—scored top honours in the team dressage event. Meanwhile, Neha Thakur scored a silver in sailing—and Eabad Ali took home the bronze medal in the Men’s Windsurfer RS - X event. (Sportstar)
Spotify speaks in tongues
The new feature will use AI to translate a podcast into multiple languages—in the original speaker's voice! It is powered by OpenAI’s new voice-generating tech:
The technology can create “realistic synthetic voices” from just a few seconds of speech, OpenAI said in a release. Spotify said it will help make the podcast listening experience more authentic and natural by maintaining podcasters’ “distinctive speech characteristics.”
For now, this is still an experiment—limited to a handful of US podcasts that have been translated into Spanish. Some episodes will be released in French and German in the coming weeks. The company is also looking into bringing “this service to even more podcasters globally.” See a pretty cool demo vid below. (CNBC)
A Huawei phone mystery
Earlier this month, the world was agog over news of a new Huawei 5G phone that runs entirely on advanced domestic-made chips. And there was great talk of Beijing neutralising the US’ advantage in chip manufacturing:
Analysis by TechInsights found the Kirin 9000s chip inside Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro has a processor that was manufactured by China’s chipmaking giant Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation using an advanced 7 nanometer process. Previously, that 7nm process required an EUV lithography machine from Dutch company ASML, which has also started restricting sales to China.
But oddly enough, at the big Huawei Launch Day this week there was no unveiling of the phone—leaving both citizens and industry experts baffled. No one can figure out why the company is being so secretive about the new device. (Reuters)
Lego abandons recycled plastic
The company announced that it is cancelling the initiative to make its toy bricks from recycled bottles. The reason: the process of doing so would have led to greater carbon emissions. Lego bricks are currently made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)— a plastic made from crude oil. But moving to recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles involved way too many steps—all of which sucked up energy. But the company is still committed to being fully sustainable by 2032. Also: it “will triple spending on sustainability to $3 billion a year by 2025 while promising not to pass on higher costs to consumers.” Makes us wanna run out and buy a Lego set. (The Guardian)
Even brainless jellyfish can be smart
Jellyfish only have one thousand nerve cells and don’t possess a centralised brain. And scientists mostly viewed them as kinda dumb—capable of only the “simplest forms of learning.” But new research has found that being clever may have more to do with having a good memory. Researchers found that jellyfish could spot and dodge obstacles by learning from past experiences. And that’s a big deal because: “One of the most advanced attributes of a nervous system is the ability to change behaviour as a result of experience—to remember and learn.”
But here’s the underlying potential of this discovery for humans:
I don’t claim that we are finding the cure for dementia, but if we can gain a better understanding of what memory is, which is a central problem in dementia, we may be able to lay a building block to better understand the disease and perhaps counteract it.”
Three things to see
Two: Gymnastics Ireland was forced to apologise for a heart-wrenching moment—when a judge skipped over Black member during a medal ceremony. You have to watch it to believe it:
The incident occurred last year, the vid went viral now—esp when it attracted the attention of Simone Biles who tweeted: “when this video was circulating, her parents reached out. It broke my heart to see, so I sent her a little video, there is no room for racism in any sport or at all !!!!” Only then did Gymnastics Ireland issue a proper apology. As her mother said: “After this horrendous incident, who wouldn’t think they should apologise? They have just sent me a letter this evening. It took well over a year, and after millions of people internationally have been disgusted by the incident.” (The Guardian)
Three: Moving on to cheerier sports vids, Kapil Dev made this Disney+ Hotstar ad for the World Cup: