Researched and collated by: Rachel John, Sara Varghese & Meghna Mathew
The gorgeous Splainer X Champaca gift box
We’re a bit nervous about this one as it’s our very first gift box—curated with great love and care by the team. We teamed up with our partners Champaca—a wonderful women-run independent bookstore—did our collective best to create a goodie bag designed to inspire wonder, laughter and delight. It makes a lovely gift for any occasion—weddings, festivals or birthdays. Or you could just treat yourself!
Please note: This gift box is part of our promise to offer special value to our subscribers. So this is just for you—we don’t make money off this box :)
What you get: The box includes three books—each unique and wonderful in its own way. And to add a splash of beauty, the package includes a beautiful box of silkscreen cards that you are sure to treasure. We have lots more detail on the books and the cards over here.
The big bonus: The box comes with a quarterly gift subscription worth Rs 900. You also get two specially-illustrated Champaca bookmarks—so you can keep track of your reading in style ;)
The very big discount: You pay only Rs 2,500 for this gift box valued at Rs 4000—a massive discount that is available for just 30 days. In other words, be sure to snap these up before November 20.
A devastating bridge collapse in Gujarat
A 100-year-old bridge collapsed in Morbi—240 km from Gandhinagar—killing at least 130 people. Of the 79 in hospital with injuries, at least 60 are in critical condition. So the final death toll may be higher. The bridge had been closed for repairs for over seven months—and had just been reopened to traffic. Called the ‘jhoolta phool’, the suspension bridge is a local tourist attraction.
It is owned by the local government—but the contract for its maintenance and repair has been given to a private company, Oreva Group. Municipal officials claim that Oreva reopened the bridge without a safety inspection:
“However, the private firm threw the bridge open to visitors without notifying us and therefore, we couldn’t get a safety audit of the bridge conducted. It was opened to the public after the completion of the renovation work. But the local municipality had not yet issued any fitness certificate.”
Oreva, OTOH, insists too many people in the midsection “were trying to sway [the bridge] from one way to the other.” At least 400 people were on or around the bridge. The Telegraph and Indian Express have more details. We will have a Big Story on this tomorrow once we have more clarity on what happened.
Clips to see: Here is how crowded the bridge was before the collapse:
This is what it looked like after:
Lula stages a comeback in Brazil
Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—the left-leaning challenger to incumbent Jair Bolsonaro—has won the presidential election by the narrowest of margins. With almost all the votes counted, he has 50.90% of the votes compared to Bolsonaro’s 49.10%. The result marks the end of a long and ugly election. The greatest worry has been that Bolsonaro will not accept defeat—and urge his supporters to rise up against a “stolen election.” Why the world cares: Lula’s return offers greatest hope for the Amazon rainforests—which have been decimated under Bolsonaro. Our previous Big Story has more on why this election matters. CNN has the latest on the results.
India loses out to South Africa
Indian top order batting collapsed in the face of South African pacers in the latest World Cup T20 fixture. We were 49 for 5 until Suryakumar Yadav rescued the team with a 68-run knock. But the total of 133 wasn’t enough to save the day. Despite some early scares courtesy Arshadeep, the South Africans cruised to victory with five wickets to spare. But in the aftermath, there appears to be more heartburn over Indian fielding than batting—with particular focus on a dolly dropped by Virat Kohli and a botched run out. Scroll has reactions to the defeat.
Wire vs Malviya: Pinning the blame
The context: The digital news site published a big scoop that appeared to show that BJP IT chief Amit Malviya had the power to take down Instagram posts at will. It sparked a heated and public battle with Meta—but ended in a giant mess. A number of independent experts showed that Wire’s ‘evidence’ was fabricated. The Wire took down the stories—and issued an extended mea culpa. But no apologies were issued except to readers. See our Big Story by Samarth Bansal on the evidence—and the weak editorial process inside The Wire.
Malviya’s FIR: Malviya has registered an FIR naming The Wire’s founding editors—Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu—and Deputy Editor Jahnavi Sen. Her name was on the byline on all the Malviya-related stories. They have been booked for cheating, forgery, defamation and criminal conspiracy. In his police complaint, Malviya declared “the accused persons have with common intention conspired to maliciously defame the Complainant and the BJP by spreading false news to the public at large.” Indian Express has the most details on the Malviya FIR.
The Wire’s complaint: While the news site had acknowledged that its evidence was faked by a team member, it did not name the accused person. On Saturday, the news site filed a police complaint against Devesh Kumar—described as a “consultant”—accusing him of fabricating and supplying documents with a “view to damage” The Wire’s reputation. The Print has more on the complaint.
The conspiracy theories: Rightwing critics claim The Wire is throwing Kumar under the bus to cover its crimes. A number of liberal supporters speculate that Kumar may in fact be a mole. The publication itself implies the same in its statement: “Whether the person who brought all the material to The Wire deceived us at anyone else's behest or acted on his own is a matter that will be subjected to judicial process in due course. The malintent to discredit The Wire is obvious.”
Point to note: Many liberals cite the fact that Kumar’s name does not appear on the Malviya FIR as proof of his ties to the RW. But it isn’t clear from a legal point of view how Malviya could have named Kumar in the FIR without relying on The Wire’s own account of events. His name appears in only one of the bylines which discussed the tech documentation published on the site. More telling for us is this part of The Wire’s complaint:
“The complaint says that while Kumar didn’t respond to an email sent in this regard, he called The Wire’s Product and Business Head Mithun Kidambi Thursday evening ‘to confess to fabricating all the material that was used in The Wire’s stories on Instagram and Meta referred to above. The impression Kidambi gathered was that Devesh Kumar seemed highly disturbed mentally’.”
Did Russians hack Liz Truss’ phone?
A big scoop in the Sunday Mail claims that Russians successfully hacked into the former UK prime minister’s phone—when she was foreign secretary under Boris Johnson. The breach was discovered when she was running against Rishi Sunak to become the Tory party president—but the findings were suppressed by Johnson and his Cabinet Secretary Simon Case. The Labour party is now asking for an investigation. The original story is over at the Daily Mail. The Guardian and BBC News have more on the fallout.
Elon Musk’s great Twitter takeover
The new CEO and owner of the social media platform has been super-busy ever since he took over on Friday. Here’s what’s happened since:
- After firing his predecessor Parag Agrawal and other senior leaders—who left with handsome payouts—he has asked for a full employee review. All of which has caused great panic about massive layoffs.
- Musk has also announced plans to set up a “content moderation council” with members who hold “diverse views”—and promised that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before the council convenes.”
- And in direct contrast to that announcement, he personally tweeted—and deleted—an anti-queer conspiracy theory about an attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband.
- He also plans to wholly revamp the blue-tick verification process—though he has not said how.
- The best read on Musk’s Twitter challenge: Nilay Patel’s nuanced take in The Verge.
A brand-new Twitter? The company’s OG founder Jack Dorsey is busy setting up his own social media platform called Bluesky Social—a “decentralised social network” controlled by the user and not corporations or governments:
“The app's code will allow user account data to be moved from platform to platform. Bluesky users will be able to use their account to log in to any social media account that adopts the new code. So a single account will give them access to all of their favourite social media.”
A milestone for all Hirokazu Tanakas
In Tokyo, 178 people set a new Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of persons with the exact same name—ranging from a three-year-old toddler to an 80-year-old man. The Hirokazu Tanakas beat a record previously held by the 164 Martha Stewarts who gathered in New York in 2005. The best bit from this story:
“To tell each other apart, every man in the group was assigned an alias inspired by their hobbies, occupation, or favourite food, with the founding Tanaka known as ‘Semi-Leader’. As each Hirokazu Tanaka arrived on Saturday, their nicknames were announced to the crowd, including ‘Sunglasses’, ‘Chewing Gum’ and ‘Triathlon’. ‘It’s a strange feeling, being awarded a Guinness record just because of my name,” said ‘Hot Pot’ Tanaka’.”
Three things to see
One: Here’s a truly sunshine item for you. NASA shared this picture of a ‘smiling’ sun—looking a bit like a Halloween pumpkin. Here’s what those dark bits are: “Seen in ultraviolet light, these dark patches on the Sun are known as coronal holes which are regions where fast solar wind shoots out into space." It looks kinda cute, yes? (BBC News)
Two: Rahul Gandhi may not be running for any party election—but he’s making up for it by sprinting along his Bharat Jodo Yatra. He challenged a couple of young kids as he was strolling along in Telangana, asking: “Race lagaoge?” And off they went—catching his security and other Congress leaders by surprise. The ensuing melee looks hilarious. (The Hindu)
Three: To wrap things up, here’s our favourite pic from the annual Halloween dog parade held in New York: Abby the terrier dressed up as the house in ‘Up’. The Dodo and Washington Post round up the best looks.