Researched by: 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: The latest death toll is climbing—mostly due to rising Palestinian casualties from the airstrikes. The number of Israelis killed in the Hamas attack is around 1,200—while 1,537 Palestinians were killed and 6,612 others injured in Gaza. And 340,000 have fled their homes—many seeking cover in hospitals that are collapsing due to sheer numbers, lack of electricity and water. UN officials warn that conditions are “absolutely horrible”. New York Times has more.
Two: Egypt will not be offering Gazans safe passage out of the 41-sq km strip anytime soon. But it is willing to allow the supply of humanitarian aid across the only border crossing not controlled by Israel. The US has been pushing Cairo to provide “safe corridors” for fleeing Palestinians:
Cairo, a frequent mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, always insists the two sides resolve conflicts within their borders, saying this is the only way Palestinians can secure their right to statehood… One of the Egyptian security sources, who asked not to be identified, said Egypt rejected the idea of safe corridors for civilians to protect "the right of Palestinians to hold on to their cause and their land.”
The foreign minister also hinted at potential problems posed by great numbers of refugees—“instability and the expansion of the conflict leads to more hardship and more refugees to safe areas, including Europe." Of course, nobody in Europe wants a horde of Palestinians on their doorsteps—especially after welcoming so very many Ukrainians. (Sorry, trapping civilians in a war zone makes us angry.) (Reuters)
Three: Syria says that Israeli forces launched missile attacks on airports in Damascus and Aleppo—to put them out of commission. It isn’t clear what prompted the move, but Tel Aviv often targets Iranian supply lines to the country. (Associated Press)
Four: The US and Qatar have also agreed to block Iran’s access to $6 billion in oil revenue—held in accounts that had been unfrozen in a prisoner swap deal. This is of course tied to Tehran’s role in the Hamas attacks—although there is no clear evidence as yet: “According to a preliminary unclassified assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies, Tehran likely knew Hamas was planning operations against Israel but didn’t know the precise timing or scope of the surprise attack.” (Wall Street Journal)
Five: New Delhi released its first extended remarks on the conflict—and tried to strike a balance. The external affairs spokesperson reiterated India’s support for a “sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine,” adding: “There is a universal obligation to observe international humanitarian law. There is also a global responsibility to fight the menace of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. I think that accurately sums up how we look at the issue,” Thus far, we’d only had tweets from the PM declaring support for Israel. (The Telegraph)
Related read: Reuters reports on the “secretive mastermind” behind the Hamas assault: Mohammed Deif—who has dubbed it the Al Aqsa Flood.
Six: A New York law firm rescinded its job offer to an NYU law student—who may also lose her gig as president of the student bar association after she wrote “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life” on a student bulletin. And some VC types are demanding the names of Harvard groups who signed an open letter in support of Palestine—so that “none of us inadvertently hire any of their members.”
OTOH, presumably English vice captain Moeen Ali will not be losing his job for posting a Palestinian flag with a Malcolm X quote: “If you’re not careful the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed & loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” To be clear, Gaza is not a new cause for Ali:
In 2014, Moeen wore a wristband engraved with the words ‘Save Gaza’ during a Test match against India. He received prior permission from England to wear the wristband. But he was banned from wearing it by the International Cricket Council, who stated that “equipment and clothing regulations do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match.”
Other players to display solidarity with Palestine include Arsenal player Mohamed Elneny and Pakistani cricketer—Muhammad Rizwan—who dedicated the match-winning century victory over Sri Lanka in the World Cup. (Telegraph UK)
India’s dismal Hunger Index ranking
India has been ranked #111 out of a total of 125 countries on the latest Global Hunger Index. Only Afghanistan, Haiti and 12 sub-Saharan countries were ranked below us:
India’s ranking is based on a Global Hunger Index score of 28.7 on a 100-point scale where 0 is the best score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst. This categorises India’s severity of hunger as “serious”. The GHI score is based on a formula which combines four indicators that together capture the multi-dimensional nature of hunger, including under-nourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality.
The Indian government has rejected the ranking—calling it a “flawed measure of hunger that doesn’t reflect India’s true position”—or the data collected by the government’s own data. The Hindu has more on that debate.
Byju's starts to shrink
The context: India’s most valuable tech startup defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan. The US lenders took Byju’s to court in Delaware—demanding their money back or, at the very least, control of its US holdings. Both sides sued each other and things got really nasty (all of it explained in this Big Story). There were allegations that the company parked the collateral of the loan—$533 million—in a shady investment fund.
What happened now: Byju’s has reached a truce of sorts with its lenders. It involves putting its big overseas acquisition—Singapore-based Greater Learning—in receivership. This means the lenders have appointed someone to safeguard its assets until it goes up for sale—in order to recover the debt. Byju’s bought the higher learning platform for $600 million in 2021—when it went on a $2.6 billion spending spree. Founder Byju Raveendran has also dropped off the 100 richest people in India. Forbes has that dukhi kahani. (Bloomberg News via Yahoo News)
Birkenstock’s not-so-great IPO
The widely mocked—and yet beloved—footwear company decided to go public. On the first day of trading, it was selling below its list price at $41 a share—falling by 12.6%. This is how bad it was:
The German company’s debut is the worst first-day showing for a US listing of $1 billion or more in over two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Out of more than 300 US IPOs of that size in the past century, only 13 have fared worse, the last of those being AppLovin Corp., which closed 18.5% below its IPO price in April 2021, the data show.
But here’s the thing. This is a 250-year-old brand that is highly profitable—chalking up $109 million in net profit over nine months—as of June 30. That makes BIRK (yes, that’s the stock symbol) a way better bet than many tech startups. But this may have more to do with the mood on Wall Street. (The Guardian)
Adani is in trouble… again!
The media exposés just won’t go away! Financial Times has an exclusive report that shows the Adani Group may have “imported billions of dollars of coal at prices well above market value.” Custom records seen by the FT show that he used offshore intermediaries—in Taiwan, Dubai and Singapore—to import $5 billion worth of coal at prices double the market price.
Most importantly, he then used these inflated ‘prices’ to overcharge Indians for fuel. He may have made as much as $73 million in excessive profit. Point to note: In May, Adani group saw a 42% jump in earnings in its coal trading business and announced that its quarterly profit had doubled as a result. (Financial Times)
In other Adani news: He is back to playing second fiddle to Mukesh-bhai—who is once more the wealthiest man in India. Ambani’s net worth: $92 billion. (The Telegraph)
World Cup 2023: South Africa knock down Australia
South Africa cruised to a comfortable victory over Australia on Thursday—by a massive 134 runs. They put up a total of 311, aided by Quinton de Kock’s score of 109 runs from 106 balls—and shoddy fielding by the Aussies. They were all out for 177. (ESPNCricInfo)
Female frog fakes death
We all know that females often have to resort to extreme measures to duck unwanted suitors. According to a new study, the most determined may be female European common frogs—who feign death to avoid mating. When males scramble to get laid during mating season, they are highly aggressive and competitive—“a situation in which several males can end up clinging to a female, sometimes fatally.” Yikes! So playing dead is often a smart move. (ABC News)
Indians still heart the cinema
For all the fretting over OTT, 90% of us prefer to go to the movie theatre—over live gigs, shopping etc. And 98% insist “the real cinematic experience comes alive only on the big screen.” All of which is excellent news for theatre owners. That said, the survey was conducted by BookMyShow—and only looked at Gen Z and Millennials. And it includes sorta odd claims like this:
Nearly 43% Mumbaikars choose the storyline as the most critical trigger for them to catch a movie in a theatre, significantly higher than other cities. As many as 38% Delhiites rank reviews and ratings highest to determine which films to watch on the big screen. For 32% people from Bengaluru, the director helming the movie is the most important factor in their decision to watch a movie on the silver screen.
We didn’t know cinematic judgement was regional lol! Mint has way more details than you may ever need.
Hey NASA: What’s in that asteroid?
Back in 2020, NASA sent a spacecraft—Osiris Rex—to collect samples from a 4.5 million year old asteroid named Bennu. In late September, it dropped off a sample while flying by Earth. NASA has now revealed what they found at first blush:
Far exceeding our goal of 60 grams, this is the biggest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever returned to Earth. The carbon and water molecules are exactly the kinds of material that we wanted to find. They’re crucial elements in the formation of our own planet. And they’re going to help us determine the origin of elements that could have led to life.
Ok, this may not seem like a “treasure chest of extraterrestrial material”—but it helps explain how water got on our planet:
The reason that Earth is a habitable world, that we have oceans and lakes and rivers and rain, is because these clay minerals landed on Earth 4 billion years ago to 4 and a half billion years ago, making our world habitable. So we’re seeing the way that water got incorporated into the solid material.
Two things to see
One: Check out the book cover of Salman Rushdie’s upcoming memoir titled ‘Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder’. Yes, it’s about the time when an extremist almost killed him at a book event (see: our Big Story). And yes, it’s brilliant. (The Telegraph)
Two: We stumbled upon this trailer for something called ‘Sherlock: The Curse of Bhaskarvilla’ starring Randeep Hooda as Sherlock and Karan Singh Grover as Dr Watson. Interestingly: it appears to be an audio series on Kuku FM. Is this going to be India’s version of the famous BBC Radio shows? Well, the trailer doesn’t hold out much hope—but hope, we nevertheless must.
Get your ticket to Maya Bazaar
We’re delighted to announce that tickets for this wonderful event are now available. Snap them up while you can. Btw, this is not a paid promo. We love these guys—and what they do.
What’s this? Maya Bazaar is the biggest IRL marketplace for business owners, artists, and performers from the LGBTQIA+ community. There will be stalls selling lip-smacking podis, pottery, home decor, cool fashion brands—including gender-neutral streetwear—jewellery and even fresh pet food! There will be a number of wonderful live performances—starting at 4:30 pm on both days. They range from stand-up to live music, beatboxing, drag acts and multi-genre ensembles.
Where’s this? The event is slated for October 14 and 15 (Saturday & Sunday) in Jayamahal Palace Exhibition Center, Bangalore. Its founder—the queer feminist organisation Road to Utopia—needs your presence to make this bazaar awesome. You can purchase tickets to Namma Maya Bazaar here.
Here’s a sneak peek of the awesomeness.