Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Another migrant boat tragedy in Europe
At least 63 people are presumed to be dead after a fishing boat capsized off the coast of Spain. There are 38 survivors including four children aged 12 to 16. Why this matters: “At least 1,449 people have died or disappeared on migration routes in the Middle East North Africa region between January and July, a 7% increase compared to the same time period last year.” This Big Story looked at how European nations like Greece have been leaving migrants stranded at sea—and cracking down on NGOs who help them. Just two months ago, on June 14, a fishing boat carrying 750 refugees capsized off the Greek coast—and only 104 survived. Many suspect the tragedy was caused by negligence of the Greek Coast Guard. (Reuters)
All ready for a moon landing
Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft's Lander Module has successfully separated from the spacecraft that was propelling it through space. The Lander Module consists of the lander (Vikram) and the rover (Pragyan)—and will now be lowered to an orbit that takes it closer to the Moon's surface. The soft landing on the Lunar south pole is scheduled on August 23. (The Telegraph)
A transgender ban in international chess
The International Chess Federation has issued new rules that ban transgender women from competing in women’s events. They cannot participate:
Under the new guidelines [they]... have “no right” to compete in official events for women until “further analysis” is made, which could take up to two years. Additionally, if a player holds titles in women’s categories and transitions to male, “the women titles are to be abolished,” while if the player transitions from male to female, the titles will remain, the handbook says.
To be clear, most chess competitions are open to all genders—so the policy will affect a small number of people. But it is also irrational:
But “there’s not that physicality dimension to chess, it’s a game of strategy,” said Richard Pringle, a professor of sociology... “It suggests that males are somehow strategically better. … It’s not just transphobic, it’s anti-feminist too,” he said of the ban, adding that it was “likely a political decision rather than an issue of fairness.”
Washington Post has more on the controversial decision.
iPhone 15 production kicks off in Tamil Nadu
The latest generation of iPhones will start shipping from the Sriperumbudur factory—just weeks after they are exported from factories in China. This marks a significant move by Apple to diversify its supply chain—reducing dependence on Beijing. But these are early days yet: “The scale of India production for the iPhone 15 will depend on the ready availability of components, which are largely imported, and the smooth ramp-up of production lines at the Foxconn factory.” The new iPhone is likely to be announced in September—and is slated to be the biggest update in three years. (Bloomberg News, paywall, Indian Express)
A landmark moment for organ transplants
A genetically engineered kidney of a pig has been functioning normally for over a month in a human body. Scientists put the organ into a brain-dead man on July 14—and it immediately produced urine. And it’s still going strong. This is the longest a pig kidney has functioned in a human being. Why this matters:
Attempts at animal-to-human transplants have failed for decades as people’s immune systems attacked the foreign tissue. Now researchers are using pigs genetically modified so their organs better match human bodies.
This is a huge breakthrough in that area of research. The Guardian has more details on this transplant.
The link between exercise and cancer
A new study has outlined the links between exercise and specific types of cancers:
[A]n individual’s ability to engage in sustained aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming — was associated with a 42% reduced risk of lung cancer, a 40% reduced risk of liver cancer and a 39% reduced risk of oesophageal cancer. It was also associated with a lower risk of head and neck, stomach, pancreatic bowel and kidney cancer.
There is a reverse relationship with skin cancer—a high level of fitness increases the risk by 35%. The data comes with two caveats: one, the study doesn’t take effects of habits like dieting, alcohol or smoking into account; and two, it only looked at men. (The Guardian)
A vacay for BK’s tomatoes
After McDonald’s and Subway, Burger King too has scrapped tomatoes from its burgers and wraps. The reasons cited are "quality" and "supply.” Although some BK outlets amusingly claimed, "Even tomatoes need a vacation.” As you know, tamatar prices are soaring around the country—and presently are at Rs 200 per kg in some parts of the country. And the government is importing them from Nepal for the very first time. For more context, see this Big Story. (The Telegraph)
An AP Stylebook for AI
Newsrooms are moving quickly to deal with AI. Recently, the New York Times banned AI bots from being trained on its archive. Now the Associated Press has issued new guidelines on how to use the tech in the newsroom. Example: an AI-generated photo, video or audio segment cannot be used unless the altered material is itself the subject of a story. Wired has outlawed AI-written stories—as has Insider. Why the AP move matters: “Journalists follow AP’s moves around standards closely, as the majority of the news industry uses or at least modifies the AP Stylebook to write articles.” (The Verge)
Vietnam’s winning the EV game
VinFast is now one of the highest valued car companies in the world. Its market value is $85 billion—in comparison to Ford’s $48 billion and General Motors’ $46 billion. The Vietnamese company began exporting its electric vehicles last year. Why this is notable:
Investors are continuing to believe that the future is in electric and that a low-cost East Asian country will emerge as a competitor in the US. The markets believe that given geopolitics that Vietnam, not China, will be that country."
Quartz has more.