Researched by: Rachel John & Anannya Parekh
The Israel-Palestine war: The latest update
For more context on the Israel-Palestine, 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 blast at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza that killed 471 Palestinians—and has become the latest flash point of the war.
Biden speech: The US president addressed the nation and said the expected things. He pushed for billions in aid to both Ukraine and Israel—warning that the world was at an “inflection point in history.” ABC News has more if you’re interested. More interesting: a Huffington Post exclusive that reveals a “culture of silence” within the Biden administration—with many Muslim staff feeling they cannot speak freely. Washington Post has more on the US State Department official who resigned in protest against Biden’s Israel policy.
Aid trucks delayed: Egypt has agreed to allow 20 trucks carrying aid across its border into Gaza. The UN is calling them a “drop in the ocean”—and gravely insufficient to make a dent in the humanitarian crisis on the strip. But even these won’t move until Saturday. And Israel has not agreed to allow fuel supplies—which are essential for hospital generators, ambulances and desalination plants. CNN has a ground report on conditions in Gaza.
Point to note: The US unsurprisingly vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the war—because it included a mandatory pause in hostilities to permit humanitarian aid. It was the only nation to do so—marking its isolation on the Council. Reuters has more on that story.
Pro-Palestine protests: Many took to the streets in support of the residents of Gaza. At the Capitol Hill, 300 members of Jewish groups were arrested for staging a sit-in. They were demanding a cease-fire. (New York Times)
Meanwhile, in India: An Israeli intel officer was deeply offended by an Indian anchor’s saree:
The big Nvidia + Foxconn plan: 'AI factories'
The iPhone manufacturer and AI chip maker announced plans to build AI factories together. These are data centres that offer supercomputing powers for AI-driven technologies. They would speed up the development of self-driving cars, autonomous machines and industrial robots. Example offered by Nvidia founder Jensen Huang:
We’re building this entire end-to-end system where on the one hand, you’re building this advanced EV car…with an AI brain inside that allows it to interact with drivers and interact with passengers, as well as autonomously drive, complemented by an AI factory that develops a software for this car. This car will go through life experience and collect more data. The data will go to the AI factory, where the AI factory will improve the software and update the entire AI fleet.
TechCrunch has lots more on the new jodi.
World Cup 2023: India trounces Bangladesh
We scored a seven-wicket victory over Bangladesh thanks to a stellar century by Virat Kohli. Rohit Sharma’s 48-run knock offered plenty of fireworks and lots of sixes—keeping aloft hopes that he’s returned to form. The only dark spot: Hardik Pandya hobbling off the field with a twisted ankle. Although it isn’t serious, it’s not clear if he’ll play in the next match against New Zealand on Sunday.
Speaking of Rohit Sharma: Pune Mirror revealed that he’s received multiple traffic tickets for speeding on the Mumbai-Pune highway. Speeding may be a mild word for hitting 215 km/hr. (Times Now)
A US lawsuit against Dabur
Three foreign subsidiaries of the company in the US and Canada are being sued by customers—who claim that their hair relaxer products caused ovarian and uterine cancer. The 5,400 individual cases have been consolidated as a multi-district litigation in an Illinois court. The lawsuits were filed after two key studies showed that hair relaxers contain formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system—and cause specific kinds of cancers in women. The lawsuit claims that Dabur’s Olive Oil Relaxer Kit is one such product flagged by the research. The company insists these claims are based on an “unsubstantiated and incomplete study.” The US health authorities recently announced a proposal to ban hair relaxers. (Reuters)
Startling allegations against Mahua Moitra
The context: The feisty Trinamool MP is best known for her impassioned anti-government speeches. She has been accused by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey of taking money to raise questions in Parliament—mostly to protect the interests of a Dubai-based real-estate baron Darshan Hiranandani. While Moitra has sued Dubey for defamation, the Lok Sabha speaker has referred the complaint to the ethics committee. FYI: Even the Adani Group has jumped into the fray—claiming that Moitra’s been doing her best to hurt its reputation.
What happened now: Hiranandani claims he was given the login and password to her Parliament email account—so he could directly craft questions about Adani for her to raise in Parliament. He also suggests that she financially exploited him:
After Moitra became MP in 2019, he often picked up the tab for her travels and holidays, and also “provided support” for the renovation of her “officially allotted bungalow in Delhi”. He added that he had to fulfil her demands “in order to remain in close proximity with her and get her support…. I could ill-afford to displease her.” The businessman added: “Many a times I felt that she was taking undue advantage of me and pressurising me to do things I didn’t want to, but I had no choice.”
Moitra claims Hiranandani is being forced to speak out against her by the government—which likely threatened his business. The Telegraph has lots more on this odd case.
A laptop licence reprieve
The context: In August, the government suddenly declared that all companies who import laptops, tablets and computers of any size will have to get a special licence. Unsurprisingly, all the big brands—Apple, Dell, Lenovo and HP—were upset. Experts warned of shortages and price hikes.
What happened now: The government has tweaked the rule—allowing companies to get their import licences from an online authorisation system. The main aim, according to officials, is to make sure these products come from “trusted” sources. Translation: not Chinese. The overall aim is to encourage companies to make in India—and export from India. Making the import process tedious helps that plan—especially since tech imports were up 8% in the third quarter—compared to last year. FYI: Easing the licence raj was a top priority for Washington in recent months. (Indian Express)
Netflix is going gangbusters
The platform appears to have left its growth woes behind. It added 8.76 million users in the third quarter of 2023—taking the total to 247.15 million. This was despite the many actor and writers strikes in Hollywood—which greatly reduced the flow of new content. One big reason: a sudden nostalgia ‘Suits’—which became hugely popular for inexplicable reasons in the US. The other: the crackdown on password sharing. It is so confident of its prospects that it’s hiking rates in the US and UK. (Variety)
YouTube bets big on news
The platform unveiled a new “watch page” that makes it easier for you to find news from authoritative sources.
Footage of the YouTube feature shared by the video platform shows how opening a PBS video about floods in Pakistan will list more videos about the same news event beneath it under headings like “Latest updates,” “Explanations and commentary,” “Live news,” and “Shorts.” The recommended videos are all from major news publishers like The Associated Press, Sky News, and CBS Evening News.
That means startups like ours will likely get nudged out. Sigh! FYI: YouTube is launching the new feature in India in 11 languages. And there’s more good news about news: The company also plans to spend $1.6 million to promote the creation of shorter news clips for its Shorts service. You get a sense of what the Watch page will look like below. (The Verge)
Sticking with Google: The company plans to make the next generation of its Pixel phone in India. Mint has more on the announcement.
Two studies of note
Flame retardant pollution: A comprehensive analysis of 20 years of research shows that more than 150 wildlife species have been contaminated by fire retardants. The toxic chemicals used in a variety of products—from furniture to car interiors—are found at “alarming levels” in endangered species, such as red pandas, chimpanzees and killer whales.
Most flame retardants are highly persistent in the environment and can take decades to degrade. Because of their resilience, they can accumulate in animals, and as larger predators eat smaller organisms, the chemicals accumulate in higher quantities further up the food chain.The highest levels have been found in large marine mammals and birds of prey.
In fact, the chemicals may be responsible for the dwindling number of killer whales—because they do great harm to calves and immune systems. Some studies predict these chemicals could wipe out half the world’s killer whale population. The Guardian has more on the findings. You can also look at an interactive map that shows which species are at risk in various parts of the world.
The ‘snooze’ button: According to two new studies, snoozing past the morning alarm may help with morning drowsiness—and even improves your cognitive performance. But this holds only for about 30 minutes. (CBS News)
Two space things to see
One: NASA’s Juno probe—tasked with investigating Jupiter—has been orbiting the planet. Below is a time lapse of the images it captured of Jupiter’s moon Io—named after a mortal lover of the god Zeus in Greek mythology. It’s really quite stunning. Mashable has all the space nerd details.
Two: As you may know, we recently experienced an ‘annular’ solar eclipse—when the Moon passes in front of the Sun but fails to block its light entirely. The result is a stunning ring of fire—but also “an expansive dark splotch” covering most of North America. Below is a photo released by NASA that shows the moon casting its shadow over the continent. CBS News has loads more on this unique image.