Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Israel-Palestine War: The latest update
For more context on the Israel-Palestine war, check out our Big Stories on: The motive for the Hamas attack; the effect of civilian casualties on Gaza’s post-war fate; and the deal for a four-day truce.
Death toll: 14,532 people have died in Gaza. About 7,000 people are missing and authorities say that they are buried under the rubble. They also noted that the true death toll could be around 20,000 people.
The four-day truce: is supposed to commence at 7 am today. The first 13 hostages will be released this afternoon. Israel used the last hours before the deadline to attack the Jabaliya refugee camp. One witness said at least 50 of his relatives and neighbours are dead. Separately, the IDF also bombed 300 targets yesterday. Point to note: People have stopped fleeing to South Gaza because they are now afraid of the IDF's plan to focus on the south next.
Al-Shifa director detained: The IDF has faced fierce criticism of its siege and capture of the hospital—which it claimed was the “beating heart” of Hamas operations. But it has failed to provide any convincing evidence so far—without which targeting a hospital would be a war crime.
Military forces have now arrested the hospital director Mohammad abu Salmiya and other senior doctors while they were travelling with a WHO convoy. The reason: the IDF claims al-Shifa “under his direct management, served as a Hamas command and control centre.” Guess they’re hoping interrogating him will give them the proof they need. (The Guardian)
Irony alert: The US helpfully shared information on locations of aid groups, hospitals with Israel—to prevent strikes on them. Instead, Israel targeted a number of these locations:
The information included GPS coordinates of a number of medical facilities and information on movements of aid groups in Gaza to the Israeli government for at least a month…Still, Israel has launched operations against Hamas in or near aid sites, including hospitals, leading to the destruction of buildings and the blocking of fuel and other critical supplies.
Politico has more on the unprecedented death toll among relief workers.
Meanwhile, in Lebanon: A top Iranian diplomat met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The group has been firing rockets across the border into Israel—the most intense attack came yesterday. Why this meeting matters: Iran has warned that if the ceasefire does not hold, “The scope of the war will expand.” (Al Jazeera)
A football fine: The Celtics were fined €29,000 because their fans were waving Palestinian flags during a game versus Atletico Madrid. The crime: displaying “a provocative message of an offensive nature.” Reminder: UEFA bans all displays of political symbols. You can see the sea of flags below. (The Guardian)
Netherlands moves to the right
The far-right Party for Freedom—led by a Trump-like figure called Geert Wilder—has won 37 seats in parliament. That makes them the largest party in this election. Wilder could form the next government—if he can persuade other parties to join him to reach the magic number: 76. But even centre-right parties are not enthusiastic about his strident anti-Islam views. The Netherlands may end up with a fragile coalition that falls apart as it deals with immigration, housing and cost of living.
Why this matters: The Netherlands is seen as the beacon of tolerance in the EU. But Wilder could change all that: “Wilders’ election program included calls for a referendum on the Netherlands leaving the European Union, a total halt to accepting asylum-seekers and migrant pushbacks at Dutch borders.”
A flood of sexual abuse lawsuits
The context: Typically, there is a 10 to 20-year statute of limitation on sex abuse cases in New York. But the city’s Adult Survivors Act—passed in November, 2022—offered a one-year window to survivors of sexual abuse to file civil suits regardless of when the abuse happened. There have been a number of lawsuits filed to beat the deadline—which expired at midnight on Wednesday.
What happened now: A number of noted celebs have been accused of sexual assault this week—including Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler and rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs. Though Combs settled his lawsuit with singer Cassie the very next day.
The latest names to surface—actor Jamie Foxx and Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose. Foxx is accused of “groping breasts and genitals” of the plaintiff back in 2015—in front of two witnesses. Axl Rose has been sued by Penthouse model Sheila Kennedy—who says he raped her back in 1989. The Guardian has more on Axl Rose. CNN reports on Jamie Foxx.
A controversial way to harvest hearts
Editor’s note: This isn’t exactly breaking news but the fierce medical debate over the definition of death offers food for thought.
The context: Heart donors are typically people who have been declared brain-dead after a traumatic accident—and are put on a ventilator to keep the heart oxygenated until it can be recovered. A very small number die in these conditions—and therefore there is a long waitlist for heart transplants.
The controversial alternative: A different procedure targets patients who are comatose—and not necessarily brain-dead. And their relatives have decided to withdraw life support since the chance of recovery is very small. When that happens, the organs are at great risk of damage—and cannot be donated.
But doctors can now restore blood flow to the heart—after the person was declared dead. This is called ‘donation after circulatory death’ (DCD):
Now doctors can remove those hearts and put them in a machine that “reanimates” them, pumping through blood and nutrients as they’re transported — and demonstrating if they work OK before the planned transplant.
This isn’t a new procedure but it got a huge boost due to a recent study. Researchers showed that DCD offers excellent results—and the survival rate is as good as usual donors. Opting for this method could increase the pool of donors by as much as 30%. Lead authors of the study are now pushing for the method to be widely adopted—saying it should be the basic standard of care.
The debate: Despite its promise, many US hospitals are refusing to perform the procedure for ethical reasons. For starters, restoring blood flow “invalidates” the previous declaration of death. But more importantly this:
[T]hat may be a minor problem compared to an additional step surgeons take: They use metal clamps to cut blood flow from the revived heart to the donor’s head, to limit blood flow to the brain to prevent the possibility that any brain activity is restored. Some physicians and ethicists say that is a tacit admission that the donor might not be legally dead.
The American College of Physicians has flat out declared that clamping the arteries to ensure brain death—while you restart circulation—violates “the dead donor rule.” As in, the person has to be dead before they can donate their organs. New York Times has more on the debate. Associated Press explains the Duke-led study.
All hail the Roman emperor empress
A UK museum has re-labeled (identified?) a third century Roman Emperor named Marcus Aurelius Antoninus as a transgender person—and will use the pronouns she/her in information about the ruler. Also known as Elagabalus, she ruled for only four years before she was assassinated. She was a controversial ruler and developed “a reputation for sexual promiscuity.”
The decision is influenced by accounts of Elagabalus in ancient texts:
Cassius Dio, a senator and contemporary of Elagabalus, writes in his historical chronicles that the emperor was married five times - four times to women, and once to Hiercoles, a former slave and chariot driver. In this final marriage, Dio writes that the emperor “was bestowed in marriage and was termed wife, mistress and queen.”
OTOH, some historians believe such accounts were part of a character assassination campaign: “The Romans didn’t have our idea of ‘trans’ as a category, but they used accusations of sexual behaviour ‘as a woman’ as one of the worst insults against men.”
Two things to see
One: The official trailer for the upcoming Ranbir Kapoor flick ‘Animal’ just dropped. It left us kinda confused 🤔 . FYI: The film is directed by Telugu director Sandeep Reddy Vanga—best known for feminist flicks (not!) like ‘Arjun Reddy’ and ‘Kabir Singh’. It hits theatres on December 1.