Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath, Anannya Parekh & Rhea Saincher
Migrant boat tragedy: Accident or cruel negligence?
The context: On June 14, a fishing boat carrying 750 refugees capsized off the Greek coast—and only 104 survived. The EU has been swamped by refugees since 2015. In 2021, around 125,000 migrants and asylum seekers entered Europe via the Mediterranean—which has become the most dangerous border in the world. Countries like Italy and Greece have been doing their best to keep the migrants out—often leaving them to die out at sea in crowded boats. For more, read our Big Stories on how Greece and the UK are cracking down on the ‘boat people’.
What happened now: A CNN investigation has uncovered damning information on the Greek Coast Guard’s role—which have proved fatal:
One survivor from Syria… described how a Greek coast guard vessel approached the trawler multiple times to try to attach a rope to tow the ship, with disastrous results. “The third time they towed us, the boat swayed to the right and everyone was screaming, people began falling into the sea, and the boat capsized and no one saw anyone anymore,” he said.
The BBC News investigation published last week showed that the Coast Guard’s claim that the boat was sailing toward the coast when it capsized is false. It had been at a standstill for at least seven hours. The UN has called for an investigation into Greece's handling of the disaster.
Speaking of Greece: Its centre-right prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis won a landslide victory in the national elections—winning 40.6% of the vote. The left-wing opposition party Syriza could only score 17.8%. FYI: Mitsotakis has made his tough anti-immigration policy the centrepiece of his government. Why this matters: great swathes of southern Europe are now tilting right. Italy’s prime minister is Giorgia Meloni who heads a right-wing party with neo-Nazi roots (explained here). And the conservatives are expected to win the upcoming Spanish elections in July. (Wall Street Journal, paywall, BBC News)
Allahabad High Court delivers a shocker… again!
The context: Just last month, the court delivered a bizarre ruling directing an astrologer to determine whether a woman was ‘manglik’ or not—because the accused claimed he could not marry the plaintiff because of her stars (a rape case where rape is defined as having sex with a woman while making a false promise to marry her). That ruling was overruled by the Supreme Court which said it violated the woman’s right to privacy—but said it did not doubt that astrology is a “science.”
What happened now: The court now has refused to protect an interfaith couple who are living together. They were seeking protection from police harassment due to an FIR filed by the woman’s mother. The court’s reasoning is worth quoting at length:
Zina which has been defined as any sexual intercourse except that between husband and wife includes both extramarital sex and premarital sex and is often translated as fornication in English. Such premarital sex is not permissible in Islam. In fact any sexual, lustful, affectionate acts such as kissing, touching, staring etc. are "Haram" in Islam before marriage because these are considered parts of 'Zina' which may lead to actual 'Zina' itself. The punishment for such offence according to Quran (chapter 24) is hundred lashes for the unmarried male and female who commit fornication together with the punishment prescribed by the 'Sunnah' for the married male and female that is stoning to death.
Hain, did no one send Allahabad High Court the memo about the Constitution? (LiveLaw)
The breathtaking fraud of IRL
The IRL app was a platform for users to connect and meet IRL—i.e in real life—through events. Until early this year, then-CEO Abraham Shafi had been boasting that it had 20 million users. But a board investigation found that a staggering 95% of them were either automated or bots. This is a company that raised over $200 million from top global funds like SoftBank. The company will now be shut down—and the remaining funds returned to the investors. Ironic quote to note: Shafi once declared, “Our primary goal at IRL has always been to create more authentic and organic communities.” The lesson of this story: overnight unicorns are about as mythical as, well, unicorns. (Fortune, paywall)
Two tech stories of note
Meta: has pulled all news content off its platforms in Canada. This is in response to a new law that forces social media platforms to pay news publishers for content that is reproduced on their site—for eg when someone shares a news story. FYI: Meta did this in a similar situation in Australia—and then reached a compromise with the government. Why this matters: the glory days of profiting off free content may be over. It’s all about proprietary information—even when it comes to news. (Gizmodo)
YouTube: has a cool language tool! Ok, many people are worried that AI will unleash the end of days. But it can do very cool things too. For example: YouTube is releasing a new tool that will make it effortless for creators to dub their vids in multiple languages:
Previously, creators had to partner directly with third-party dubbing providers to create their audio tracks, which can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Aloud lets them dub videos at no additional cost.
Behold the peacock turtles!
Myanmar researchers were able to capture the first ever footage of Burmese peacock softshell tortoises hatching from their eggs. The species is critically endangered and only found in Myanmar. But they are being fiercely guarded by locals and conservationists. Also: they are adorable! You can see the longer video of them hatching over here. What we love is this bit where they are racing away in the sand :) (New York Times)
“Legendary” status for Kozhikode restaurant
Unlike other ‘best restaurant’ rankings, Taste Atlas is not interested in what’s cool or innovative. Its annual list honours 150 “legendary” establishments that have withstood the test of time—and serve “real food with robust flavours, often using time-honoured recipes passed down through generations.” And Paragon in Kozhikode, Kerala—known for its Malabar cuisine—has come in at #11. It recently also made it to Condé Nast’s list of the best 25 restaurants in India.
Other Indian restaurants that made the list—Lucknow’s Tunday Kababi at #12, Kolkata’s Peter Cat at #17, Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba in Murthal at #23 and the Mavalli Tiffin Rooms in Bangalore at #39. FYI: Figlmuller in Vienna is #1—followed by Katz’s Deli in NYC. You can check out the full list here. (The Hindu)
Four things to see
One: This Nehru bust by Jacob Epstein has been given a prominent position in the renovated National Portrait Gallery in the UK. Epstein said of his sculpture: “At this time, soon after the assassination of Gandhi [in 1948], Nehru seemed burdened with the cares of office, and it was in this mood that I conceived this sombre portrait.” Telegraph India has more on the revamped museum’s effort to do justice to the brutality of British colonial rule.
Three: Chinese students who are graduating from college this year are facing dire job prospects—since the unemployment numbers are through the roof. Their ironic response: taking odd graduation photos where they mimic a corpse. Well, it’s a lemons/lemonade situation. (CNN)
Four: The world’s ugliest dog is Scooter—winning the crown in an annual US competition that showcases “extraordinary canines that have defied adversity”—and celebrates their imperfections. He is a seven-year-old hairless Chinese Crested born with deformed hind legs. The Guardian has more on the contest.