Morning Digest: Two-thirds of Indians have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, shows ICMR survey; Pegasus spyware was used to topple Cong.-JD (S) govt in Karnataka, alleges Congress, and more

A select list of stories to read before you start your day

Himachal Pradesh ‘excess deaths’ twice the official COVID-19 toll

The number of “excess deaths” registered by the Civil Registration System (CRS) in Himachal Pradesh ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit (from April 2020 to May 2021) was 6,081, which is 1.9 times the official reported figure of 3,127 COVID-19 deaths for the same period.

Key Cong-JDS leaders were ‘possible targets’ of Pegasus spyware during 2019 crisis: report

During the political turmoil in Karnataka in 2019, which ended in the collapse of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government and the BJP coming to power, the phone numbers of key leaders in the coalition parties and their associates “were selected as possible targets for surveillance”, The Wire reported on Tuesday, as part of the global investigation “The Pegasus Project.”

Two-thirds of Indians have  antibodies, shows ICMR survey

While two-thirds of the general population had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, a third does not have antibodies, making approximately 40 crore people still vulnerable to infections, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday.

Red line crossed by use of spyware, says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner has red flagged spyware like Pegasus and Candiru and said the “red line” was crossed by the use of the Pegasus spyware by state actors. The comment from the official came in the backdrop of reports that a large number of journalists, NGO workers and several foreign envoys based in Delhi have had their phones tapped using the spyware.

In 2019, IT House panel unsuccessfully tried to probe Pegasus breach

In 2019, during a probe by the Standing Committee on Information Technology headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, officials of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy), according to sources, told the panel that 121 people were affected by the Pegasus spyware.

CBSE to help schools to finalise Class 12 results by Thursday

The CBSE offices will function on July 21, though it is a gazetted holiday for Id, to support schools to meet the deadline of finalising Class 12 results by July 22, according to a letter from Controller of Examinations Sanyam Bhardwaj. The CBSE has previously said the results will be declared by the end of the month.

U.S. condemns ‘extrajudicial surveillance’ of journalists, activists, regime critics

The Biden administration has condemned the harassment and ‘extrajudicial surveillance’ of journalists and others in reaction to reports published by a consortium of news websites that Israeli company NSO Group’s spyware, Pegasus, was used for illegal hacking and surveillance of individuals, including in India.

Exclusive | High percentage of women, elderly approach Bengal govt grievance cell: report

Between 2019 and February 2021, about 11 lakh people approached the Public Grievance Redressal Cell, set up by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for airing concerns and coming out with suggestions on the delivery of State-run schemes.

Five opposition parties, including Congress, skip PMO briefing on COVID

The Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, RJD, CPI and CPI(M) skipped the briefing for floor leaders of Parliament by Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, organised by the Prime Minister’s Office, on the COVID-19 pandemic and the evolving situation.

India’s excess deaths could be up to 49 lakh, says estimate

India’s excess deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic could be as high as 49 lakh (4.9 million), according to a new study that provides further evidence that millions more may have died from coronavirus than the official tally.

Rockets target Kabul presidential palace

At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace on Tuesday shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the major Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha.

Rahul sir’s belief in my batting pushed me to perform, says Deepak Chahar

India pacer Deepak Chahar, who was an unexpected hero with the bat in the second ODI against Sri Lanka, on Tuesday said coach Rahul Dravid’s belief in his batting inspired him to produce a match-winning knock for his team. Chahar came ahead of the more accomplished Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the batting order after India lost their six wickets for 160 runs while chasing 276. In the end, they both forged an unbeaten 84-run stand to script a three-wicket win for India.

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