Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
The Israel-Palestine war: Occupation plans?
For more context on the Israel-Palestine war, check out our two-part series on the Hamas attack on Israel: 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. Also read: our Big Story on the ground offensive by Israel, which will decide the fate of Gaza and the power balance in the Middle East. We look at the larger geopolitical picture in the region in this Big Story.
Death toll: We have no update on the number of Palestinian deaths. Last we heard, they’ve officially exceeded 10,000. The collective number of deaths in all previous Israeli wars with Hamas: 5,400. Israel said it had hit 450 targets on just Sunday night—resulting in at least 200 deaths.
Netanyahu’s plan for Gaza: In a TV interview, he said that Israel will take “overall security responsibility” in Gaza indefinitely after the war:
I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility because we've seen what happens when we don't have it. When we don't have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn't imagine.
As for who will “govern” Gaza—whatever that means with the military in control—he said it should be “those who don't want to continue the way of Hamas.” Associated Press via The Telegraph has the best update on all the latest developments—including ground reports from Gaza. You can watch the interview below:
As for humanitarian aid: Netanyahu indicated that he is open to “tactical little pauses”—but not a “broad humanitarian pause” that President Biden has been pushing for. But Washington is selling this development as a win for its diplomacy—since Tel Aviv has moved from an initial position where “three (aid) trucks was too much.”
Jordan talks tough: The country air-dropped medical aid for one of its hospitals inside Gaza—presumably with an okay from Tel Aviv. But it’s a sign of their now-icy relations that Amman failed to mention its role when announcing the air drop. King Hussein is in Europe to lean on the EU to lend support to a cease fire. The Jordanian Prime Minister warned: "All options are on the table for Jordan in our dealing with the Israeli aggression on Gaza and its repercussions.” Also: “Jordan is reviewing its economic, security and political ties with Israel and may freeze or revoke parts of its peace treaty if the Gaza conflict worsens.”
Protests in the ports: The pro-Palestine protests are spreading to US ports—as activists try to block military supplies to Israel. The latest was staged in Tacoma, Washington. Meanwhile in Barcelona, the port stevedores union refused to load and unload any military material amid the war in Gaza—following in the footsteps of Belgian transport unions last week. Much of this is symbolic—and unlikely to affect shipments to Tel Aviv.
Rupi Kaur says ‘no’: The popular poet rejected an invitation to attend Diwali celebrations hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris. The reason: “I’m surprised this administration finds it acceptable to celebrate Diwali, when their support of the current atrocities against Palestinians represent the exact opposite of what this holiday means to many of us.” (Washington Post)
World Cup 2023: Maxwell’s glorious double ton
The Aussies defeated Afghanistan by three wickets—thanks primarily to a career-best unbeaten 201 by Glenn Maxwell. This was after his team was 91 for seven in the 19th over. They have now secured a semi-final berth—where they will most likely take on South Africa. There are three teams vying for the remaining open spot: Afghanistan, New Zealand and Pakistan. Indian Express has more on that bit. The Hindu has the match report.
Bumble’s getting a new boss
Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd is stepping down as CEO—and will be replaced by Lidiane Jones who recently became the CEO of Slack Technologies in January. The reason for the big change: dating apps have been doing very poorly recently—at least in the US. Their revenues are dipping as they lose paying customers—even the always popular Tinder. In an Axios survey of college and grad students, 79% said they don't use any dating apps even once a month. The GenZ mood is summed up by this quote:
I feel dating apps have ruined the dating scene for many people my age and ruined their self-confidence. I'd rather meet and start as friends than use an app that'll most likely end in hookups.
Bumble’s share price has dropped to $14—down from $70 at its IPO in 2021. (Wall Street Journal)
Also letting go: WeWork—which has officially filed for bankruptcy—after threatening to do so for over a month. It will give up office space leases across North America—and is actively negotiating better terms with 400 landlords. FYI: This doesn’t affect its India operations which have been profitable since 2021—and saw a 40% growth in revenue in the first quarter of this year. (Financial Times, paywall, The Guardian)
Build your own AI assistant
OpenAI unveiled a new developer tool called Assistant API. How it works:
Using the Assistants API, OpenAI customers can build an “assistant” that has specific instructions, leverages outside knowledge and can call OpenAI generative AI models and tools to perform tasks. Use cases range from a natural language-based data analysis app to a coding assistant or even an AI-powered vacation planner.
Startup founders sound excited: "It's a huge boom for startups like us. All of a sudden, our costs went down by a factor of 3X, which is huge.” The Verge is best on why customisable GPTs are a big deal. (Reuters)
Sorry state of nonprofit fundraising
A new analysis of annual reports of 176 NGOs in India reveals a vast disparity between them. Just 19 nonprofits had incomes of over Rs 100 crore in 2021-22—with the top 20% receiving 59% of all donation incomes. To offer some perspective: India has an estimated three million nonprofits. Unsurprisingly, this tiny elite is dominated by global NGOs—while those out of India struggle to raise money. Also: Nearly 46% of the nonprofits analysed by the study received more than half of their funding from foreign sources. These are typically those who focus on sustainability, gender, healthcare, and sanitation. Mint has lots more illuminating numbers and charts.
In other dismal numbers: A global UNESCO survey shows that more than 85% of people are worried about the impact of online disinformation. And 87% believe it has already “harmed their country’s politics.” Unsurprisingly, the problem is that internet users get their news from social media. The 16 countries surveyed included India. (The Guardian)
A breakthrough spinal implant
Swiss researchers have developed a neuroprosthetic—i.e spine implant—that has helped a patient with Parkinson’s disease walk again:
It works by electrically stimulating the spinal cord in a targeted manner… Unlike conventional treatments for Parkinson’s, which target the regions of the brain directly affected by the loss of dopamine-producing neurons, the implant targets the area of the spine responsible for activating leg muscles while walking.
It seems to have done wonders, according to the patient: “I’m not even afraid of the stairs anymore. Every Sunday I go to the lake, and I walk around six kilometres. It’s incredible.” Of course, this is just one person. The next stage will trial the implant on six others. Nature has the nerdy details, while Independent has a good overview of the implant.
A bizarre Bored Ape problem
The owners of the wildly successful NFT organised one of their lavish events—called ApeFest—in Hong Kong. The day after, a number of the attendees woke up with an unexpected and very painful eye condition: Photokeratitis—aka ‘welder’s eye’. It is caused by “unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation”—that damages corneal cells. The company says it has no clue what happened, but many suspect that the laser show on stage may have used UV lights. A 2017 fashion and design event—also in Hong Kong—had the same problem. Something to think about when attending high-tech events… (The Verge)
Three things to see
One: The Delhi Fire Services have been asked to pitch in to help battle severe air pollution in the capital. Their job: to spray gallons of water into the air at “hotspots” across the city. This may be the most wasteful and irresponsible solution we’ve seen so far. It’s also stupid: a 2021 study showed that large-scale spraying of roads with water contributes to air pollution—rather than prevent it. Indian Express has more on the situation in Delhi.
Two: A strong geomagnetic solar storm triggered a fabulous aurora light show across the world. Space.com has more on how auroras are created—and has lots more photos. Travel and landscape photographer Paul Pichugin captured this incredible timelapse of the aurora australis lighting up the skies over Western Australia.
Three: This trailer for ‘Shogun’ made us very happy. Even if you haven’t read James Clavell’s bestselling novel—set in feudal Japan—this ten-episode Disney+ series promises to be a soap operatic treat. Sadly it doesn’t drop until February next year. (Hollywood Reporter)