Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Say hello to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
The top prize finally went to the former CM—who will be sworn in on Saturday. DK Shivakumar—the other contender for the job—will have to settle for the Deputy CM post. He will also remain party chief until the Lok Sabha elections are done.The party leadership refused to confirm any power-sharing arrangement—where Shivakumar would take over after 2.5 years. But Indian Express implies that Sonia Gandhi assured DKS that he is next in line—since 75-year-old Siddaramaiah earlier indicated that this will be his last election.
Next up: A brawl over cabinet minister portfolios—there are more than 50 claimants for 32 posts. You can see the ‘one happy family’ photo shared by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge below. Though in Indian politics, these kinds of photo-ops are the first sign of serious trouble. (The Hindu)
Deutsche Bank’s $75 million Epstein settlement
The context: Jeffrey Epstein was a high-profile financier best known for his lavish lifestyle and very famous friends—including Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Woody Allen. In 2007, he was indicted for sexually abusing dozens of underage girls—but got off with a light sentence. In 2019, he was again arrested—this time for sex trafficking minors who he recruited for his powerful friends. He killed himself in prison while awaiting trial in 2019. We did a Big Story on his shady relationship with the now-disgraced Prince Andrew.
What happened now: Last November, one of Epstein’s victims filed a class action lawsuit against Deutsche Bank—which acquired him as a customer in 2013. This was after his first conviction—and after JP Morgan closed his accounts. In other words:
“Knowing that they would earn millions of dollars from facilitating Epstein’s sex trafficking, and from its relationship with Epstein, Deutsche Bank chose profit over following the law,” the suit said. “Specifically, Deutsche Bank chose facilitating a sex trafficking operation in order to churn profits.”
The lawsuit also alleged the bank ignored red flags including payments to numerous young women. The bank has now settled the lawsuit for $75 million—without admitting any wrongdoing. The victims who were abused while Epstein was a customer will receive anywhere between $75,000 and $5 million.
Point to note: This is the largest sex-trafficking settlement involving a banking institution. The same law firm has also sued JP Morgan—whose CEO Jamie Dimon will be deposed later this month. (Wall Street Journal, paywall, CNBC)
No ban on ‘The Kerala Story’
The context: The controversial movie was pulled in Tamil Nadu by theatre owners due to fears of violence. And then West Bengal banned it for “promoting false narratives to defame particular communities.” The Hindi movie tells the story of four young women in Kerala who convert to Islam and are trafficked to the Islamic State—and claims to be true. We laid out the controversy at length in this Big Story.
What happened now: The Supreme Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to make security arrangements—so that the movie can be shown in theatres. And it has reversed the West Bengal ban. But the Chief Justice also took aim at the movie’s shaky claim that 32,000 Hindu women have been converted and trafficked thus far in the state. It will now carry a disclaimer that says: "[T]here is no authentic data to back up the suggestion that the figure of converted people is 32,000 or any other figure; the film represents a fictionalised version of the subject matter.” (The Quint)
Rafa’s French Open shocker
Rafael Nadal announced that he is pulling out of the French Open—for the very first time since he made his debut in 2005. The reason: a hip injury suffered during his second-round Australian Open defeat in January. Nadal says the recovery process has been slow—and he may miss Wimbledon this year, as well. But the saddest news is that 2024 may be Rafa’s last year:
My ambition is to try to stop to give myself an opportunity to enjoy next year, that’s probably going to be my last year on the professional tour. That’s my idea, even then I can’t say 100% because you never know what can happen — but my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and try to say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me in my tennis career during [next] year, and just try to enjoy that, being competitive and enjoying being on the court, something that today is not possible.
CNN has more on his decision.
Coming soon: Foreign exchange blues
The government clarified recent changes to foreign exchange regulations—and none of it is good news. Every single dollar of spending overseas will attract a tax of 20%—deducted by your credit/debit card company at source. Until now, the hefty tax rate was only imposed on foreign remittances above Rs 7 lakh—and credit cards were exempt. The government has removed both the Rs 7 lakh threshold and the exemption. The only good news: you can adjust it against any advance tax you paid during a financial year. The new rates come into effect on July 1. (Mint)
Amazon’s big plans for India
Amazon Web Services—the cloud computing arm—announced plans to invest an added $12.7 billion in India by 2030—creating an estimated average of 1,31,700 full-time jobs every year. This is Amazon’s largest investment in the country to date. The company claims it will contribute $23.3 billion to India’s GDP by 2030. Reminder: Amazon India laid off 500 employees across all its verticals—including AWS—just two days ago. So we’re suffering a bit of whiplash. (The Hindu)
Also making moves: The Gautam Adani-controlled NDTV—which will launch nine news channels in regional languages. (Mint)
Harry & Meghan: A Big Apple car chase
According to their spokesperson, the couple were chased by paparazzi down the streets of Manhattan—in a manner eerily similar to the car chase that killed Princess Di:
Last night, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Ms Ragland were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi. This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers.
However, other sources—including police officers and a cab driver named Sukhcharn Singh—offer a less dramatic account. Apparently, the couple were in their SUV with a police escort—and were followed by the paparazzi for over an hour. Unable to shake them off, the couple went to a police station. Then they took a cab only to be followed again—at which point they went back to the police station—and were then escorted safely to wherever they were staying.
Point to note: No other eyewitness describes what happened as a “chase” or as “dangerous.” The NYPD says there were “no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests.” And the city’s mayor said: “I would find it hard to believe that there was a two-hour high speed chase”—adding that “even a 10-minute pursuit would be ‘extremely dangerous in New York City.” FYI: the couple were stripped of police protection when they quit the royal family—and Harry is also suing Britain’s Home Office, demanding it be restored when he is in the UK. (New York Times)
Big Ben’s having untimely issues
London’s iconic clock tower got an £80 million makeover that took four years. But it’s never been quite the same since it came back into service six months ago. A week ago, the clock displayed the wrong time—and failed to chime at 1 pm. Then on Wednesday, the hands on all four dials froze for 30 minutes. Londoners are agitated—as are their leaders. There are now two separate parliamentary investigations into this dire state of affairs. (The Telegraph)
Three things to see
One: This is Aishwarya Rai on the red carpet at Cannes. We love her too much to comment.
Two: We’re in the midst of a summer flood of trailers. Tom Cruise is back with ‘Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One’. The seventh movie in the franchise will have its own sequel because this marks the last outing for Ethan Hunt. The movie will hit the theatres on July 12. (Collider)
Three: Tired of endless Star Wars spin-offs? Here’s a glimpse of a more promising sci-fi flick—‘The Creator’. It’s directed by Gareth Edwards who also helmed ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ and ‘Godzilla’ (2024). Ok, the plot doesn’t seem very original but what an amazing cast: John David Washington from ‘Tenet’ fame, Gemma Chan from ‘The Eternals’, Benedict Wong from ‘Doctor Strange’ and newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles. And we love the trailer’s spectacular visuals set to Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’. The movie will be released on September 29. (Gizmodo)