1. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has figured out what his fellow populists like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson or Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro may not have: that all they need to do is make it seem like they are acting in the face of crisis to remain popular, even if those actions are utter failures, writes Mihir Sharma for Bloomberg.
  2. States that fail to enforce a monopoly on violence and are unable to collect or disburse tax cannot survive for very long, writes Devangshu Datta in the Business Standard. “I can think of a country where all these breakdowns have occurred in catastrophic fashion in the recent past... These things can simmer for a long time but I cannot think of too many historical examples where such a complete breakdown in compacts has ended well. In fact, I can’t think of any.”
  3. Why should the collective burden of standing up against state repression always fall on a few individuals in the film fraternity known for being willing to speak out, asks Ankur Pathak in the Huffington Post.
  4. V Venkatesan has a five-part series for the Wire examining the judicial career and pronouncements of Justice Arun Mishra, the controversial Supreme Court judge who retired at the start of the month.
  5. “India in 2020 is a country in pain – millions have lost their jobs and livelihoods in these last five months; the economic crisis has shrunk not just salaries, but the horizons of the once-aspiring Indian; the pandemic has claimed thousands of lives; and the virus rages on, a daily ticker of our mortality,” writes Amrita Dutta in the Indian Express. “Is it to turn away from this distress that many of us watch rapt, with fury and without mercy, the spectacle of television warriors hunting in a pack for “answers” to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput?”
  6. Soutik Biswas writes for the BBC about a new documentary telling the story of a Canadian backpacker who ran into the Beatles at an ashram in India in 1968.
  7. NPR and PBS Frontline reveal in an investigation that the USA’s largest oil and gas companies spent millions of dollars trying to convince the world of “an idea [they] knew wouldn’t work – that the majority of plastic could be, and would be, recycled – all while making billions of dollars selling the world new plastic.”
  8. A team of New York Times journalists put together this interactive explanation for how a massive bomb came together in Beirut’s port, leading to the horrific, disastrous explosion in August.
  9. The Guardian gave a prompt to an artificial intelligence language generator to write an essay convincing humans that robots come in peace. This is the culmination of that effort.
  10. “Of the $1.1 billon [US President Donald Trump’s] campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent,” write Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman in the New York Times. “Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election, according to Republican officials briefed on the matter.”