Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
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. Also: we put it in headlines because we know you sometimes ignore the editor’s note lol!
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.
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 latest estimates, more than 1,200 Israelis and 1,100 Palestinians have been killed—including at least 326 children. ABC News has more news of the retaliatory strikes and the devastation of the neighbourhood Rimal.
Two: The main Opposition leader Benny Gantz has joined PM Benjamin Netanyahu to form a unity government. They will form a “war management” cabinet. It isn’t clear what will happen to Netanyahu’s hard right allies. (Associated Press)
Three: The pressure to pick a side—and the ‘right’ one—has spread to the media. A UK cabinet minister and Jewish groups are pressuring BBC News to refer to Hamas as “terrorists” and not as “militants” or “fighters.” But the Beeb is sticking to its guns:
The BBC’s editorial guidelines, last updated in 2019, state that words relating to “terror” and “terrorism” are “emotive” and have “significant political overtones”. It states that “we should not use the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution” as it is “a barrier rather than an aid to understanding”, advising instead the use of words “such as ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, ‘gunman’, ‘kidnapper’, ‘insurgent’, and ‘militant’”.
FYI: BBC has the same policy on Khalistan. (The Telegraph)
Four: Harvard was also under pressure to make a statement in support of Israel—as it did with Ukraine and BlackLivesMatter issues. Adding to the outrage: an open letter from Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups that held “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” In the end, the president issued a statement condemning “the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas” as “abhorrent.” New York Times has more on the debate over Palestine—and the value of neutrality—emerging in college campuses in the US.
Five: India has launched Operation Ajay to rescue Indians stranded in Israel—deploying chartered flights and Navy ships. Indian Express has that story.
Six: A video of a half-naked dead body of a woman being transported by Hamas went viral. She was initially identified as Shani Louk—a tattoo artist—by her mother. But she has now told German media that her daughter is indeed alive—but in critical condition. (Independent UK)
Seven: There is also confusion over claims that Hamas beheaded 40 babies at a kibbutz. The primary source is this Israeli channel. Other reporters say there was no direct confirmation. The Israeli army refused to confirm the story—but President Biden claimed to have seen pictures of the atrocity. That pretty much sums up the fog of war.
Eight: Hamas reportedly raised millions in the years leading up to the attacks via cryptocurrency.
Digital-currency wallets that Israeli authorities linked to the PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] received as much as $93 million in crypto between August 2021 and June this year, analysis by leading crypto researcher Elliptic showed. Wallets connected to Hamas received about $41 million over a similar time period.
State elections: The opinion polls say…
The context: Five states—Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana—are holding elections next month. They matter for a variety of reasons. One, parties will test strategies they plan to use in the parliamentary elections in 2024. Two, who wins in the states has an impact on how many seats you hold in the Rajya Sabha—which affects your ability to push through legislation. Three, two must-win states are in the mix: Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Here is what the results of the ABP News/CVoter opinion poll reveal:
Madhya Pradesh: This is big for the BJP—since they seized power by wooing unhappy Congress leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia back in 2020. The polls indicate a close election that tilts toward a Congress win—a narrow margin of 113 to 104. FYI: Current BJP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan is vastly unpopular. To overcome the incumbency disadvantage, the BJP has not projected any leader as the next CM.
Rajasthan: This is slated to be a big win for the BJP—which will be a big blow for Congress CM Ashok Gehlot. More so as it will take away his clout over his inter-party rival Sachin Pilot. Gehlot has defied Congress leadership because of his hold over the state—even turning down the party presidency. It will be interesting to see what happens if he loses the election. Also: BJP has entirely sidelined its most popular leader and her loyalists—Vasundhara Raje—in search of new blood. The election will be a test of that strategy, as well.
Chhattisgarh: This is again a close race according to the survey—although Congress is the predicted winner.
Telangana: The BJP doesn't really figure in this contest—which is only projected to win five seats. This is a face-off between ruling party Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) and Congress.
Mizoram: is headed for a hung assembly. Congress is slated to win 10 to 14 seats. But this is really a fight between BJP ally and ruling party Mizo National Front—which could secure 13 to 17—and Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) which may gain 9 to 13.
Mint has all the details.
World Cup 2023: Rohit’s swashbuckling knock
India swept Afghanistan aside—winning by eight wickets thanks to the skipper: “Rohit Sharma went on a six-hitting spree, smashing an 84-ball 131 to record the most number of centuries in World Cup history.” The Hindu has the full list of records set by Sharma and Kohli. ESPN Cricinfo has more on the match.
Toxic cough syrup? All’s forgiven!
The context: The more things change… Back in 2022, the WHO issued a warning against the Indian firm Marion Biotech—whose cough syrup was linked to deaths of children:
Marion is among three Indian companies whose cough syrups the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies have linked to the deaths of 141 children in Uzbekistan, Gambia and Cameroon since the middle of last year, in one of the world's worst such waves of poisoning.
In fact: “Tests in January by an Indian government laboratory found 22 samples of Marion-made syrups were ‘adulterated and spurious.’” The Uttar Pradesh government cancelled the company’s licence in March.
What happened now: The government has inexplicably changed its mind—and allowed the Marion factory to reopen, declaring: "There's no known case of a lack of quality in other medicines manufactured by the firm.” To be clear, there is a single caveat: It has only lost the licence to make products using propylene glycol (PG). Marion can still manufacture and sell all other products.
That’s because industrial-grade PG is a toxic material widely used in liquid detergents, antifreeze, paints or coatings, and to enhance the effectiveness of pesticides, not suitable for making cough syrups. Also read: Our Big Story on how Indian cough syrups are a hazard to humanity. (Reuters)
A brand new medical condition called CKM
The American Heart Association has identified something called cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic syndrome—or CKM. So what is it? Well, it isn’t any one disease—as we usually understand it:
CKM syndrome refers to the spectrum of cardiovascular, kidney and metabolic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity, and how they overlap, potentially increasing a person's risk of dying from heart disease.
The conditions are not new or unknown: "What's happening is the AHA wants to reset the framework of how people think about heart disease risk, prevention and management." The idea is to identify risk factors—which we now call CKM—“to get earlier diagnosis and treatment for people at high risk of dying from heart disease.”
Sounds scary but OTOH, look at this stat: “An estimated 90% of US adults fall on the CKM spectrum.” Then it starts to sound like a hammer in search of a nail. But if you look at the different “stages” of CKM, it is really about catching people before they fall into a spiral of bad health—and bad health habits. TODAY has more on those stages. Read the original study here.
Spotify India is not that free anymore
The free version no longer includes a lot of handy features. Users can’t play songs in a specific order, tap rewind or repeat songs. It’s all a ploy to persuade a nation addicted to free content to pay for a subscription. The other way to bully you into submission: The ‘Smart Shuffle’—which “adds Spotify's personalised song recommendations to playlists that 'match the vibe or mood' of the songs already in the playlist.” Sounds potentially annoying except you can no longer disable the feature if you aren’t a paid subscriber. So really, this is kinda like product placement. Though to be fair, if you don’t pay for the product, you are the product. 🤷🏾 (Moneycontrol)
A lethal loan app scam
A BBC News investigation found that 60 Indians died of suicide due to instant loan apps. They were harassed, threatened and abused in a blackmail scam—which has spread across 14 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. These apps access contacts, photos and ID cards—and then use that info to destroy their clients’ lives. They can threaten to message all your contacts and tell them you’re a “thief and a whore.” In one case, the loan company shared a naked picture with a work colleague of a client.
And most of them are young:
Most were in their 20s and 30s — a fireman, an award-winning musician, a young mum and dad leaving behind their three-and five-year-old daughters, a grandfather and grandson who got involved in loan apps together. Four were just teenagers.
BBC News has lots more on this deadly scam.
Behold the flu-free chicken
Scientists have used gene editing to create the world’s first chickens that are entirely immune to the deadly bird flu. Nine in 10 birds showed no signs of infection when exposed to the virus. All because scientists edited a single gene. In fact, the immunity can be amped up to resist exposure to a high dose of the virus by editing more genes. Here’s why this proof-of-concept study matters:
There is concern about the spread of avian flu, which has led to the deaths of hundreds of millions of birds worldwide in the past two years. The virus has also spilled over into mammal populations, including seals, sea lions and mink, and caused several human deaths.
An odd coda to the Will/Jada drama
Jada Pinkett-Smith just made life a lot harder for Will Smith. She has now admitted that the couple have not been together for six years—since 2016—and have led “completely separate lives.” The revelation is hardly shocking. But it makes things complicated for Will Smith:
As for why the pair didn’t share this news sooner, including when they opened up about Pinkett Smith’s “entanglement” with August Alsina and amid the infamous 2022 Oscars slap, where Smith referred to Pinkett Smith as his “wife,” Pinkett Smith says they weren’t “ready yet… [We were] still trying to figure out between the two of us how to be in partnership, right, and in regards to how do we present that to people,” she said. “And we hadn’t figured that out.”
She now claims that at the time she thought the slap was a planned “skit.” But the fallout is that Smith got cancelled by the Oscars—and most of Hollywood. We suspect Jada’s revelations aren’t going to help him make a case for his comeback. Also: all this came out as part of an interview to promote her memoir—of which you can see a snippet below. (Hollywood Reporter)
One perfect October thing to see
Say hello to the heaviest ever pumpkin named Michael Jordan. It weighs 1,247 kg—and can’t play basketball. But hey, its owner walked away with $30,000 in prize money at the World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in California. (BBC News)