Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
The Israel-Palestine war: The latest update
For details and more context on the war, check our two part series: part one lays out the Hamas offensive and failures of Israeli intelligence; part two explains the big picture—and Hamas’ motive driving what seems like a suicidal attack.
One: According to the UN, 2,670 people have been killed in Israeli attacks—and one million Gazans have been displaced from their homes within a week.
Two: The biggest news is that Israel has announced that it will initiate “significant ground operations”—after a week of relentless airstrikes. Tel Aviv has offered a three-hour midday window to leave via a main highway. The Gaza’s Health Ministry refused to evacuate hospitals: “There is nowhere in Gaza that can accept the number of patients in our intensive care unit or neonatal intensive care unit or even the operating rooms.” And the warning won’t do much for other Gazans who do not have anywhere to go:
Several United Nations agencies have warned that mass evacuation under such siege conditions will lead to disaster, and that the most vulnerable Gazans, including the elderly and pregnant, may not be able to relocate at all… “The order to evacuate 1.1 million people from northern Gaza defies the rules of war and basic humanity,” wrote Martin Griffiths, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in a statement late Friday. “Roads and homes have been reduced to rubble. There is nowhere safe to go.”
Gaza is bound by Israel, Egypt and the sea—which is also controlled by Israel. CNN has that story. The Atlantic has photos from Gaza. And Reuters has more on the horrific claims that Hamas tortured and raped Israelis during its attacks. New York Times via The Telegraph looks at what a ground invasion of Gaza may look like.
Three: Arab states are insisting that Palestinians stay exactly where they are—including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: “This is the cause of all causes, the cause of all Arabs. It is important that the (Palestinian) people remain steadfast and present on their land." FYI: Hamas fully agrees—which speaks volumes about all involved.
The Rafah crossing—which would allow them to escape into Egypt—remains closed for this reason, according to its government:
The Rafah crossing officially is open on the Egyptian side, it has been open all along. The problem with the roads is that it’s been subject to aerial bombardment. Therefore, on the Gaza side the roads are not in a state that can receive the transit of vehicles.
Palestinians claim Egypt has blocked the gates of the crossing with concrete slabs. Cairo appears unwilling to let anyone except foreigners out of Gaza through that crossing—and is apparently brokering a deal for US citizens. Atlantic Council and CNN have more on the Egyptian angle.
Four: Newly revealed footage shows that Hamas fighters had detailed maps and a sophisticated understanding of the Israeli military. New York Times has that story. According to a Jerusalem Post survey, 86% of Israelis—including 79% of supporters of his coalition government—blame PM Netanyahu for the security failure.
Five: All eyes are on Iran—which is the patron saint of Hamas. Tehran warned of "far-reaching consequences" if Israel's "war crimes and genocide" are not stopped. Its foreign minister is taking a tactical stance—quite different from Hamas:
The Iranian foreign minister replied that Iran doesn't want the conflict to turn into a regional war and wants to try to help with the release of civilians who are being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. But Amir-Abdollahian stressed that Iran has its red lines. He said that if the Israeli military operation continues — and especially if Israel follows through on its promise of a ground offensive in Gaza — Iran will have to respond, according to the sources.
Axios has more on that angle.
Six: Meanwhile, all things Palestinian remain controversial in the West. The Frankfurt Book Fair cancelled an award ceremony for Palestinian author Adania Shibli’s novel ‘Minor Detail’. The reason: it tells “the true story of the 1949 rape and murder of a Palestinian Bedouin girl by Israeli soldiers, according to its German publisher, Berenberg Verlag.” Also: organisers have “spontaneously decided to create additional stage moments for Israeli voices” at the book fair. (New York Times)
Seven: The ripples of the war are being felt worldwide. The Louvre in Paris was forced to evacuate staff and visitors after receiving bomb threats. Nothing happened, but this comes on the heels of a man who was suspected of being an extremist stabbing a teacher to death at his former high school. (Associated Press)
World Cup 2023: The latest update
An Afghanistan-sized upset: The team scored 284 runs—its second highest in the World Cup—and then bowled out defending champs England to script a historic 69-run victory. It ended Afghanistan’s 14-match losing streak in the World Cup since 2015. The secret of their success: spinners Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan—who collectively took eight wickets. The Telegraph and The Hindu have more on the match.
About that Pakistan match: We won very easily—almost disappointingly so. Pakistan could only get 192 runs—losing eight wickets for only 36 runs. In the end, India won by seven wickets. Rashid Latif in Indian Express offers his take on why the team collapsed.
There were controversies, of course. The sea of blue made the match feel a bit one-sided to the Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur, who said:
The lack of green in the stands was partly down to Pakistani fans not being granted visas for the tournament. It wasn't too different for Pakistan's travelling media contingent. Until Friday, only three out of Pakistan's contingent of 60 journalists—from an original application long list of 355—had been provided visas, that too after lengthy delays.
Then there were jerks who yelled ‘Jai Sri Ram’—when Mohammad Rizwan was taken out by Jasprit Bumrah:
FYI: We don’t know what these guys yelled when Mohammed Siraj took his two wickets—which included dismissing Babar Azam. All we can say is if you’re this sour in victory, lord help us when we taste defeat. On a happier note, this lovely poem below—read by RJ Praveen to the Pakistan team reminds all of us of the unalloyed joys of cricket. ESPNCricinfo has the match report.
Also here’s our happy vid from the splainer hangout:)
About that pregame ceremony: The India-Pakistan match was certainly not the first game—either of the tournament or for India. And yet there was a grand concert featuring Shankar Mahadevan, Arijit Singh and Sukhwinder Singh. But here’s the really weird bit. No one could watch it on TV. Star Sports insisted it was only for the in-stadium audience. (Hindustan Times)
The big brain census is here!
A global team of researchers have counted, sorted and analysed all the cells—and the results have been published in 21 separate studies. Here’s what they found: the brain has 3,300 different types of cells. And these can be grouped into 461 broad categories. They found new kinds of cells in the cerebral cortex—which are used for memory, language etc. But more interestingly, the brainstem and hypothalamus have many more types of neurons (nerve cells that send messages) than the cerebral cortex. What this may mean: “It probably reflects how complex the brain stem is in terms of its circuitry and composition.”
Human brains have the same cell types as other species—including chimps. But here’s what’s different:
[T]here were differences in the proportions of cell types and the researchers found a few hundred genes that were active in humans and not in chimpanzees. The expression of those genes seems to be involved in the wiring of the neurons, suggesting that is a key difference between humans and chimpanzees.
Axios has lots more on the brain atlas—and what we still don’t know. A census doesn’t tell what each type of cell does.
Threads is making Twitter look bad
Ever since Elon Musk took over Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg has been gunning for the platform. He first launched the Twitter clone Threads—and now he’s offering all sorts of features for free. No blue tick required—unlike X/Twitter. The most useful: the edit button. You can change your text as many times as you want within a five-minute window—right after you post. But the edited post doesn’t show the edit history. TechCrunch warns:
[U]sers on Threads can post something, have it garner likes and reposts, and then change the text of the post afterwards without having any sort of record of what it had originally stated. This presents problems because it allows for the edit button to be used maliciously.
Well, that’s a lot to achieve in just five minutes. Colour us sceptical. The other cool new thing is a ‘voice-to-text’ feature. A good related read: Quartz on how Threads became the go to place for news during the Israel-Palestine war—as opposed to Twitter. (TechCrunch)
Moving on to Microsoft: The company announced a bounty of up to $15,000 if you can discover a bug in the AI-powered version of Bing. This includes making it say terrible things—and this:
"Influencing and changing Bing's chat behavior across user boundaries," "modifying Bing's chat behavior," "bypassing Bing's chat mode session limits," and forcing Bing to reveal confidential information are some of the areas that Microsoft wants experts to break.
This is a wise move since Bing went off the rails soon after its release—often telling users that it was using their webcam to spy on them. Ofc, OpenAI is offering a $20K prize—so Microsoft being kinda kanjoos. (Slash Gear)
Taylor Swift rocks the box office
The Taylor Swift economy expanded to include Hollywood—chalking up between $95 million and $97 million in North America on its opening weekend. FYI: The ticket price is $19.89—which references her birth year and 2014 album. Check out the trailer below. (The Guardian)
One ring of fire to see
Folks in the Americas witnessed something called an ‘annular’ solar eclipse—not to be confused with the annual kind. This is when the moon passes in front of the sun but doesn’t cover it entirely. So the sun looks like a stunning ring of fire around the moon. You can see a vid of how it looked in New Mexico. (Reuters)