Tobacco giant Philip Morris is quietly funding an "anti-smoking" foundation offering $1 billion in "grants" to public health leaders

Derek Yach, president of The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, sent a letter to 344 public health researchers and groups inviting them to bid for grants from a $1b fund set up by tobacco giant -- the list was a roster of Yach's former colleagues from his stint at the World Health Organization. Read the rest

Watch: Scotty travels to India to make a manhole cover

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO8DQrSp5yEP937qNqTooOw

Scotty of Strange Parts took a train across India to try to make a manhole cover at a cast iron foundry. His goal was to replace an existing manhole cover on Mission Street in San Francisco with his homemade manhole cover. Even though he failed, because everyone at the foundries thought he was an industrial spy, it's fascinating to get an inside look at a small foundry in India and to meet the very nice foundry owner. Scotty also started to have second thoughts about putting a manhole of his own design on a city street. Read the rest

How do you train for the most polluted race in the world?

Emily James (previously) writes, "The air in Delhi is so polluted the government’s instruments can't measure it but they are still going to run a half marathon on Sunday!" Read the rest

Tamil pulp fiction is basically totally amazing

On Strange Horizons, Rachel Cordasco reviews the latest Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction, the third such volume, and makes a compelling case for exploring the amazing world of Tamil pulp, expertly translated into English. Read the rest

Remarkable portraits of Indian flower vendors

Ken Hermann went to the flower market in Kolkata, where he snapped these cool portraits of flower sellers with their wares. Read the rest

India supreme court rules sexual orientation is a fundamental right

India, the world's largest democracy, declares freedom of sexual orientation of fundamental right.

India’s Supreme Court has given the country’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation. In a historic decision on Thursday, the nine-judge panel declared that an individual’s sexual orientation is protected under the country’s Right to Privacy law.

“Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy,” the decision reads. “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”

The ruling does not obviate existing laws criminalizing or discriminating against queer folk but lays the groundwork for doing so, especially a pending court challenge to Section 377. Read the rest

India lost access to the Internet Archive because two Bollywood studios couldn't be bothered with takedowns

The mystery of yesterday's India-wide censorship orders which blocked the Internet Archive from the world's largest democracy has been solved: it was the result of complaints by two Bollywood studios, Prakash Jha Productions and Red Chillies Entertainment, who chose to target infringing copies of their movies by securing an injunction at the High Court of the Judicature at Madras, rather than sending the Internet Archive a takedown notice. Read the rest

India censors access to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine

The Wayback Machine is the Internet Archive's indispensable record of the web itself, containing regular snapshots of a huge slice of the entire web that you can browse in order to see what a given page looked like on a given date. Read the rest

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

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