Big Access to Knowledge event about India in San Francisco on 6/14 (cool snacks!)

Please join me, Brewster Kahle and our special guests for a big Access To Knowledge event about India on June 14th at the Internet Archive. Here's why you should come if you're in town: Read the rest

Vintage Air India route map on a souvenir hand fan

Everything about this 1960s combination map and fan is fantastic: the Asia-centric map, the gold foil edges, the delicate wooden handle, and the beautiful illustrations. Lovely and doubly practical! Read the rest

Beautiful short film explores the spirit of Varanasi

Varanasi is one of the great spiritual centers of the world, along with Jerusalem, Mecca, Vatican City. This personal project by filmmaker Aeyaz is a contemplative look at the city and at what comes beyond life. Read the rest

Insider whistleblower says London police hired Indian hackers to surveil journalists, politicians and activists

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating a tip-off from a current or ex-London police officer that the London Metropolitan Police's National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit asked Indian police to use their hacker contacts to break into the private communications of hundreds of British people and groups, from journalists to Greenpeace. Read the rest

India's controversial national ID scheme leaks fraud-friendly data for 130,000,000 people

Aadhaar kicked off in 2009, linking each Indian resident's biometric data and sensitive personally identifying information to a unique 12-digit number. Read the rest

Indian Army ties down a captured Kashmiri man to Jeep to deter rock-throwers

The partition of India and Pakistan divided the region of Kashmir, cuing up decades of protest, military action, and fighting which has claimed 70,000 lives, including protesters killed by the Indian Army. Read the rest

Floods of WordPress attacks traced to easily hackable, ISP-supplied routers

Wordfence, a security research company, discovered that the reason Algeria is the country most often seen in attacks on WordPress blogs is that the country's largest ISP distributes home routers that are locked in an insecure state, with an open port that lets attackers seize control of them and use them to stage attacks on higher-value targets. Read the rest

A club for people whose relatives had them​ declared dead in order to steal their land

In 1980, Lal Bihari, a man from the poor Indian state of Uttar Pradesh whose cousins had bribed a local official to have him declared dead in order to steal the one-fifth acre of land he owned, founded Mritak Sangh, the "association of the living dead," for similarly situated people who spend decades (and sometimes their entire lives) trying to resurrect themselves in the eyes of the national bureaucracy. Read the rest

India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research blew so much money on rubbish patents, it's gone broke

CSIR-Tech is the commercial arm of the Indian government's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; after spending ₹50 crore (about USD7.6M) pursuing more than 13,000 "bio-data patents" (patents of no real value save burnishing the credentials of the scientists whose names appear on them), they have run out of money and shut down. Read the rest

How the "tech support" scam works

Security researchers at Stony Brook deliberately visited websites that try to trick visitors into thinking that their computers are broken, urging them to call a toll-free "tech support" number run by con artists that infect the victim's computer with malware, lie to them about their computer's security, and con them out of an average of $291 for "cleanup services." Read the rest

Panasonic's new Indian washing machine has a curry-stains mode

The new Panasonic Stain Master machines have an intensive stain-removal mode which is being marketed in India as a curry-stain removal button; it also has other Indian-focused modes, such as one for removing hair oil. They are planning other Stain Masters customized for other Asian markets with stain-removal buttons tailored to their national cuisines and stubbourn stains. Read the rest

Ideal Boy, An: Charts from India

Cheap visual charts were the main educational aid in Indian classrooms until recently. Meant to teach children good behavior, and to assist their reading skills, these inexpensive posters were plastered everywhere by local printers. They have a naive art aesthetic since the artists were unschooled themselves. Generally the charts follow a formula of filing in a grid with examples. Like comic books, their garish colors and simple forms have their own innocent charm. This book rounds up a hundred samples of what is now a rare folk art.

Ideal Boy, An: Charts from India by Sirish Rao, V. Geetha, Gita Wolf (Editors) Dewi Lewis Publishing 2001, 120 pages, 6.9 x 1.0 x 9.4 inches, Hardcover $7 Buy on Amazon

See other cool books at Wink. Read the rest

Watch India launch a record 104 satellites in one mission

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) just launched an amazing 104 satellites in one mission, setting a new record. Read the rest

The peculiar struggle to make parts of India "Open Defecation Free"

One of the high-profile campaigns by India's Prime Minister Modi is an end to the practice of defecating in public places, with access to toilets for all. Read the rest

Mobile recharging station operators in India sell tens of thousands of women's phone numbers to stalkers

Tens of thousands of women in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have complained to police about harassing phone calls from creepy men who bought their phone numbers from the operators of mobile phone recharging stations; they say the operators sneakily captured their phone numbers and sold them off to the stalkers. Read the rest

One year 40% HIV infection dropoff in London attributed to grey-market generic pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs

Taking pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs like Truvada before having unprotected sex with HIV+ people can significantly reduce the risk of infection (the drugs can also be taken after potential exposure); though this use is approved in England, the NHS does not yet cover Truveda prescriptions, so people who wish to take the drug are expected to pay £400/month. Read the rest

Mumbai's beggars and Trump Tower billboard: not fake news

Last weekend, your social media feed might have featured this photo of beggars sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai, in front of a Trump Tower billboard emblazoned "There is only one way to live. The Trump Way." Read the rest

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