Diplomatic post bag from Air India’s January 1966 plane crash (‘Kanchenjunga’, AI Flight 101) found on Mont Blanc

‘A bag of Indian diplomatic mail is set to be delivered more than 46 years late’ after it was found, near the site where Air India Flight 101 crashed into the Glacier des Bossons on the southwest face of Mont Blanc in France on January 24, 1966. Homi J. Bhabha, brilliant physicist and Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, was one among the 106 passengers and 11 crew killed in the plane crash.

Internet development in China: the latest CNNIC survey finds 538 million internet users

The latest comprehensive survey on Internet Development in China (the 30th bi-annual report), released in Mandarin in July 2012 by the China Internet Network Center (CNNIC), a non-profit state agency, puts the number of internet users in China at the end of June 2012 at 538 million (nearly 40% of the population). The 29th CNNIC survey report, available in English, put the number of internet users in China at the end of December 2011 at 513 million. The bi-annual CNNIC surveys, which began in 1997, have provided rich data on internet penetration and uses across geographies, and demographic and socio-economic groups in the world’s most populous country.

Twice a year, in January and July, releases free of charge in Mandarin and then, with some delay, in English ( the survey findings. The English text of the CNNIC 29th survey report, and the 30th survey report (in Mandarin) are posted here, as pdf files.

No comparable surveys are done in India (for which puts the number of internet users at 121 million, which is at best informed guesswork drawing on some sporadically done surveys). The lack of reliable and rich data on internet penetration and uses across India is a significant handicap for internet development in the world’s second most populous country.

pdf icon29th CNNIC Survey Report_112543.pdf
pdf icon30th CNNIC Survey Report, in Mandarin, P020120723477451202474.pdf

‘The west’s hypocrisy over Pussy Riot is breathtaking’, Simon Jenkins, Guardian

A leading journalist and writer, a former Editor of The Times and The London Evening Standard , asks in his Guardian column: ‘Our courts now jail at the drop of a headline – for stealing water or abuse sent on Twitter. So who are we to condemn Russia?’

‘The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy’, NYT

‘Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion of truth. They purport to be testimonials of real people, even though some are bought and sold just like everything else on the commercial Internet…Twenty percent of Amazon’s top-selling e-books are self-published. They do not get to the top without adulation, lots and lots of it’:

‘The wheels of online commerce run on positive reviews’ — Bing Liu, data-mining expert:

Elisabeth Murdoch targets brother James and News Corp on media morality and values

Giving the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the MediaGuardian Ediburgh International Television Festival 2012, Rupert Murdoch’s second daughter, Elisabeth Murdoch, put a significant distance between herself and her brother, James Murdoch, and also News Corporation, which she criticised for operating without ‘a rigorous set of values based on an explicit statement of purpose’. Among other things, she set out her vision of media leadership, praised the BBC, and had interesting things to say about television coverage of the London Olympics. Stating that ‘profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster’ and that ‘the absence of purpose’ could be ‘one of the most dangerous own goals for capitalism and for freedom’, she asked people ‘to reject the idea that money is the only effective measure of all things or that the free market is the only sorting mechanism’. With reference to the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press (, she observed that ‘an unsettling dearth of integrity across so many of our institutions’ meant that it was ‘very difficult to argue for the right outcome, which must be the fierce protection of a free press and light touch media regulation’.

Text of Elizabeth Murdoch’s James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival 2012:

pdf icon

Contending schools of social thought and their development in contemporary China

Professor Enfu Cheng, President of the Academy of Marxism at the Chinese Academy of Social Science discusses and evaluates seven trends in social theory in China today: “neo-liberalism, democratic socialism, new leftism, eclectic Marxism, orthodox Marxism, revivalism and innovative Marxism.”

Strange but true: science’s most improbable research | Science | The Observer

Science can and does address small and seemingly inconsequential questions too:

Obscurantism: The whys of religion vs. evolution | Harvard Gazette

Bottom of the table: Why an apparent majority of Americans are in denial about evolution:

‘Julian Assange asylum: Ecuador is right to stand up to the US’, Mark Weisbrot, Guardian

As some major western newspapers that benefitted enormously from their partnership with WikiLeaks and rights groups that supposedly champion human rights and freedom of expression lose the plot on Julian Assange’s protracted fight against extradition, Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington D.C., shows why the WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief’s claim for asylum, and the Ecuadorian President’s decision to grant it, are reasonable, just, and necessary:

Guardian editorial arguing that ‘it is wrong of Assange to claim asylum’:

‘Assange Faces Long Stay in Ecuador’s London Embassy’, John F Burns in NYT:

Book lifts lid on Francois Hollande’s campaign and bitter views of Sarkozy |

An acclaimed young French novelist takes the measure of the Sarkozy-slayer in a new genre — literary political portraiture:

Time and CNN Reinstate Journalist After Review –

Fareed Zakaria gets off lightly for his admitted plagiarism, which has been judged to be ‘unintentional’ and ‘isolated’:

Picasso piece rediscovered after 50 years in Indiana museum storage |

An egregious cataloguing error — construing the medium to be the name of a fictitious artist — kept this jewel hidden from public view all this while:

Leaked Memo from Romney to Ryan Posted by Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

Need we put this Borowitz investigative exclusive in New Yorker Ironic font? We don’t think we do:

Subscribe (free) to the Borowitz Report in The New Yorker:

Behind the omission of Kevin Pietersen for England’s crucial Third Test against South Africa

Kevin Pietersen, arguably the most explosive and entertaining batsman in Test cricket today, takes on the English cricket establishment once again — and, not learning from his unhappy engagement with Twitter, pays dearly for his alleged team-undermining texts to two South African players:

Why was he dropped?

ESPN Cricinfo:

The Guardian:

The Telegraph:

The Telegraph:

The Sydney Morning Herald:

The Daily Mail:

BBC Sport:

BBC Sport:

The Aftermath

Mike Atherton’s comment, The Australian:

Nasser Hussain column, Mail Online:

BBC Sport:

Read Shane Warne’s tweets on the omission at and more

Official South African reaction (‘Yes, text messages were sent but…it was banter among team-mates, which is perfectly acceptable…Allegations that Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers were the recipients of the texts are unfounded.’)

Regret and re-commitment:

Kevin Pietersen Interview on YouTube:

Longing for home and what might have been?

Firdose Moonda in ESPN Cricinfo:

Should Kevin Pietersen forget Twitter (notwithstanding his 710,000+ followers, including Shane Warne)?

ESPN Cricinfo:

The Sydney Morning Herald:

The Telegraph:

Kevin Pietersen’s Twitter site:

BBC Sport: Parody Twitter account closed:

Justice Katju on the Shiladitya Choudhury case and on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Statement by the Chairman, Press Council of India, and former Judge, Supreme Court of India.

pdf iconjustice-katju-statement.pdf