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Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World



32nd Summer Olympics formally open in Tokyo; Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on two-day UK visit; Bombay HC to hear bail plea of Sudha Bhardwaj in Elgar-Parishad case; Zomato shares to list on exchanges; Sri Lanka vs India, 3rd ODI, Colombo

1. Parliament impasse over Pegasus; Amnesty defends findings
Rajya Sabha was adjourned early on Thursday as the members of the ruling and opposition parties squabbled in the well of the house, forcing marshals to intervene, after Trinamool Congress MP Shantanu Sen snatched and tore IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s written statement on the Pegasus surveillance scandal. The House had already adjourned twice during the day.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, defended the findings of the Pegasus Project following a report that Amnesty said wrongly translated its Hebrew statement. “Amnesty International categorically stands by the findings of the Pegasus Project, and that the data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware,” it said, adding “false rumours” were being pushed as a distraction.

  • Israeli daily Calcalist’s article attributed Amnesty as saying it denied the numbers were linked directly to NSO Group, the maker of the spyware. The story quoted Amnesty as saying the numbers were “indicative” of NSO customers. It also quoted NSO CEO Shalev Hulio as saying: “The list of 50,000 phone numbers has nothing to do with us.”
  • Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi cited this report to call the Pegasus reports as “fake news”
  • But Israeli daily Haaretz, one of the 17 media publications that took part in the project, translated the said Hebrew word in Amnesty’s statement as “interest” and not “indicative”. “This is a list of numbers that were selected as being of interest to NSO’s clients….”
  • Haaretz also pointed out that a subset of numbers was confirmed to have been infiltrated by Pegasus. Forensic analysis of 67 phones showed 23 were successfully attacked and 14 showed signs of an attempted hack.
  • Citizen Lab, the cybersecurity lab at the University of Toronto, in its peer review, said the analysis by Amnesty’s cyber division was sound.

Also: Phone numbers that have been used by Anil Ambani and ousted CBI chief Alok Verma were on the leaked database of potential Pegasus targets, The Wire reports.

2. Tax sleuths raid offices of Dainik Bhaskar
2. Tax sleuths raid offices of Dainik Bhaskar
The Income Tax department conducted raids at the offices of Dainik Bhaskar, the Hindi newspaper with the highest circulation in the country.

  • Search operations began in the wee hours of Thursday at 30 of its offices, including in Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Jaipur in Rajasthan, Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Mumbai, Delhi NCR, as well as the residences of the promoters.
  • Dainik Bhaskar, in a statement, said: “The government is scared of true journalism; it is trying to browbeat the Bhaskar group.” Tax sleuths seized laptops and personal phones of the staff and prevented them from leaving the premises, it said.
  • Its parent company DB Corp is controlled by the Agarwal family. The promoters also have investments in power, textile and real estate.
  • The IT department also conducted raids at the offices of Bharat Samachar, a Lucknow-based TV news channel.

No official statement has come forth from the IT department.

  • Times of India reports the raid is related to the 2016 Panama Papers. Nitika Agarwal, one of the promoters of DB Corp, was named in Panama Papers (Panama database here)

Opposition leaders linked the raids to the publication’s coverage.

  • “The attack on journalists & media houses is yet another brutal attempt to stifle democracy,” — Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal CM.
  • “Income Tax raid on Dainik Bhaskar newspaper & Bharat Samachar news channel is a brazen attempt to suppress the voice of media.” — Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan CM.
  • “This is not one swallow in one summer. This is a pattern we have seen over seven years” — Abhishek Singhvi, AICC spokesman

Dainik Bhaskar had extensively reported on the devastation wreaked by the pandemic.

  • Its reporters recceed along the banks of Ganga counting bodies buried or floating in the water. The paper also reported on the undercounting of death and oxygen shortages in M.P, U.P, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. All but Rajasthan is governed by BJP.
  • The New York Times this June published an opinion by Dainik Bhaskar editor Om Gaur headlined: “The Ganges Is Returning the Dead. It Does Not Lie.”
3. Let the oddest Olympics in history begin!
3. Let the oddest Olympics in history begin!
Mascots Miraitowa (left) and Someity

  • What a countdown: A scrapped stadium design, bribery probes, the official cost of the Games more than doubling from its original estimate (and extra for the year’s delay and Covid-related safety measures), former chief Yoshiro Mori being forced to quit after his sexist comments, sponsors too embarrassed to be associated any more, the resignation of composer Keigo Oyamada from the opening ceremony, followed by the sacking of the director Kentaro Kobayashi over a 1998 Holocaust joke, and a steady procession of athletes pulling out because of positive coronavirus tests…but the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is here, finally.
  • And a nearly empty National Stadium will light up today evening to officially mark the beginning of the 32nd edition of the Summer Olympics. (Twenty Indian athletes and six Indian officials will be part of the opening ceremony with boxer Mary Kom carrying the national flag.)
  • The Covid scar: Gone will be the celebratory cheer that accompanies the start of any Games. Instead of thousands in the audience, there will be empty stands and performers in masks. For the first time in history, events at Tokyo 2020 will be held without spectators and winners will place their own medals around their necks. Even the BBC have cut back their broadcasting contingency by about two thirds.
  • That said: With 33 sports, 339 events, five new sports (baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing) and approximately 5,000 Olympic and paralympic medals in waiting, the Games (despite being the oddest in history) will hopefully bring spectacle, excitement and great entertainment to the multitudes at a time when such uplifting of the spirit is most needed.
  • India kick off: World No. 1 ranked archer Deepika Kumari will be in action today in the women’s recurve from 5:30 am onwards. Her male counterparts Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai and Praveen Jadhav follow at 9:30 am.
  • Football: France and Argentina suffered shock defeats while Brazil and hosts Japan won as the group stage kicked off on Thursday. Stay updated here.
4. ‘Yexit’ in Karnataka this weekend?
4. ‘Yexit’ in Karnataka this weekend?
  • Amid weeks of speculation about a change of guard in Karnataka, chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Thursday said that he will follow “what the party says”. “I will know the next step only after July 25, and will abide by the BJP high command’s decision,” he added.
  • It’s the first time that the 78-year-old has openly hinted at his resignation and also put a date to it. (July 26 marks the second-year anniversary of his government.) The CM was initially scheduled to attend a legislature party meeting on July 26 and hold a lunch with MLAs on July 25, but the programmes have now been rescheduled, per The Indian Express.
  • Speculation about his tenure being cut short peaked after his sudden visit to Delhi last Friday to meet PM Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders. Yediyurappa – who is the BJP’s first chief minister in South India – had, so far, officially been denying any talk of resignation.
  • Mutts, pontiffs have extended support to the Lingayat strongman and have warned that if he is replaced, it will not be good for the BJP in the state. Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha have urged him to continue as the CM.
  • Probable successors: Union minister Pralhad Joshi, BJP national general secretary CT Ravi, BJP national organising secretary BL Santosh are among the names doing the rounds. While Joshi and Santosh are Brahmins; Ravi, an MLA from Chikkamagaluru, is a Vokkaliga, another dominant community mostly concentrated in Southern Karnataka, where the party is trying to make inroads. Murugesh Nirani, Arvind Bellad and several other names, who are ministers in the state cabinet, are also in the fray.
5. Antananarivo is the Capital of which country?
  • Clue 1: The nation uses the currency ‘ariary’.
  • Clue 2: It’s the world’s fourth-largest island and second-largest island country, after Indonesia.
  • Clue 3: Located in the Indian Ocean, it was previously called the Malagasy Republic.

Scroll below for answer

6. AP withdraws its challenge to HC order on Amaravati
6. AP withdraws its challenge to HC order on Amaravati
Andhra Pradesh government withdrew from the Supreme Court its eight-month-old petition challenging an AP High Court order staying investigations into an FIR on Amaravati land deals and preventing police from taking any coercive action in the case.


  • Last September, the AP police registered an FIR against former advocate general of the state D. Srinivas and 13 others, including daughters of SC judge N.V. Ramana, who later became CJI, for “illegal” purchase of land in Amaravati, proposed to be built as a mega capital city from the ground up by the previous state government of Chandrababu Naidu.
  • Within hours, the AP High Court stayed the investigation, barred the authorities from taking any coercive action against the persons named in the FIR, and restrained the media from reporting on it. The Supreme Court later stayed the gag order.
  • Chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has been named in nearly a dozen criminal cases, and the AP High Court had previously ordered expediting the trial in pending cases against elected representatives. The allegation was that AP filed the FIR on Amaravati as retribution.


  • On Thursday, AP government told the apex court that the state was “wiser now” and it would contest the petition before the High Court. The court disposed of the appeal and requested the HC to expeditiously decide on the petition, preferably within four weeks.
7. Gullible’s travails — Indians most cheated in online scams
7. Gullible’s travails — Indians most cheated in online scams
A Global Tech Support Scam Report by Microsoft has found that nearly 7 out of 10 Indians — 69%, the highest in the world — fell victim to a tech support scam in the last 12 months.

What’s a tech support scam

  • According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), tech support scammers convince users to believe that their computer has a serious problem, such as a virus and ask the user to pay for tech support services that aren’t required to fix a non-existent problem.
  • They could be via pop-up windows, redirect to another website or even via telephone — the last mentioned seeing an increase, with India second only to Singapore with an 8 percentage point increase against the latter’s 15 percentage point increase over 2018.
How Indians got scammed (1)

What the Indians lost

  • Indians lost Rs 15,334 on an average to tech support scams in 2021, though the good news is that 88% of those who lost money were able to recover some of the amount — with the average being Rs 10,797.
  • India in fact not only saw the biggest increase in the number of people losing money to online scams between 2018 and 2021 but also maintained its dubious distinction of being the most conned nation.
    Gone money

Gen and gender

  • Following the global trend, Indian women, it seems, are smarter about online scams than men as fewer of them ended up being cheated of their money.
    Smarter sex
  • In terms of generations, the smartest are the boomers, defined as people in their late 50s to mid-70s who had the fewest victims in each of the four categories of online fraud, when pitted against the millennials, the Gen X (people born between mid-1960s to late 1970s) and the Gen Z (people born between 1997 and 2012).
  • According to Microsoft, the reason why Indians got easily conned was because they were more trusting of unsolicited calls, with the most common methods of losing money being via bank transfers (43%), followed by gift cards (38%), PayPal (32%), credit cards (32%), and Bitcoin (25%).
8. A bad day for Amazon…in India and Australia
8. A bad day for Amazon...in India and Australia
  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has fired off a show-cause notice to Amazon accusing the e-commerce giant of “making false statement and suppression or/and concealment of material facts” in its 2019 deal with Future Retail when it had paid $192 million for a 49% stake in the Indian company’s gift voucher business.
  • While Amazon claims that the deal prevents Future Group from selling its retail business to Reliance Industries (RIL), CCI alleges that the Jeff-Bezos-founded company deliberately hid its strategic interest in Future Retail when it sought approval for the 2019 deal and which “amounts to misrepresentation.”
  • The four-page letter asks Amazon why the CCI shouldn’t take action against the company and penalise it. As per the CCI’s approval of the 2019 Amazon-Future Group deal, the decision “shall stand revoked if, at any time, the information provided” is found to be false.
  • According to CCI, while Amazon, in its submission made to the competition watchdog, said the deal would give it a foothold in the Indian payments industry, in its submissions to other legal fora, the US-based company said its stake in Future Coupon gave it special rights over Future Retail, which, the regulator says, “was not disclosed to the Commission despite specific requirements.”

And Down Under…

  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched a probe into the local units of Amazon.com, ebay and other ecommerce portals to “understand how online marketplaces operate and whether they are working effectively for consumers and businesses” in order “to be sure that the rules that apply to traditional retail are also complied with in the online context.”
  • The ACCC, which will come out with a report on the inquiry in March next year, will look into business arrangements online marketplaces have with third party sellers and shoppers. Even though Amazon is yet to become the top dog in the Australian ecommerce space, since launching there in 2017, its sales in 2020 doubled over 2019 as Australian online shopping jumped 57% to $50.5 billion last year.
9. China rejects calls for second Covid origin probe
9. China rejects calls for second Covid origin probe
  • Beijing on Thursday shot down the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) proposed second phase of investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus saying that it “will not accept such an origins-tracing plan as it, in some aspects, disregards common sense and defies science.”
  • According to Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission (NHC), the country was “surprised” to see the inclusion of the lab leak theory — which claims that SARS-CoV-2 was leaked from a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology — as a research objective by the WHO.
  • Interestingly, the Chinese team leader on the WHO joint expert team Liang Wannian, who said that “a lab leak is extremely unlikely and it is not necessary to invest more energy and efforts in this regard” added that the theory couldn’t be dismissed entirely.
  • Even the experts on the WHO joint team which had released the report of its first investigation into the origins of Covid-19 in March had said that “a true forensic examination” of the lab leak theory had not been done, leading to a number of Western countries, including the G7 nations, questioning the report’s thoroughness.

Madagascar. The prosecutor general’s office in the country claimed to have foiled a conspiracy against President Andry Rajoelina, with several “foreign and Malagasy” suspects arrested. The public security minister on Wednesday said that six people had been arrested — one foreign national, two binationals, and three Madagascan citizens.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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