Get your karaoke groove on: We’re all secret karaoke divas at heart—but some songs are easier to nail than others. Help us put together a playlist that we can sing along best with—be it at the bar or in the shower. We have this handy short form for your suggestions.
Download our awesome app: It’s the best way to read splainer on the go—and has loads of handy features. Of course, it is every bit as pretty as our new design. So hurry up and download it already!
Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
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 blast at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza that killed 471 Palestinians—which has become the latest flash point of the war.
Death toll: As of today, 6,546 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Nearly half of them are children. The Israeli toll remains at 1,400 people. Also: President Biden questioned the numbers—saying: “What they say to me is I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war.” Washington Post explains why the numbers put out by the health ministry in Gaza are fairly reliable.
Point to note: The US continues to send mixed messages on civilian casualties—while offering full-throated support to Israel. Biden scolded Israeli settlers for attacking Palestinians in the West Bank—while Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: "Israel must take all possible precautions to avoid harm to civilians. It means food, medicine and water and other assistance must flow into Gaza and to the areas people need them… It means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes." (ABC News)
Security Council tensions: Resolutions proposed by the US and Russia failed to pass. The US version underlined Israel’s right to self-defence—while the Russian text did not name or criticise Hamas. Tempers flared over the rising civilian casualties. Secretary General António Guterres made an unusually impassioned speech, saying: “Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians — or the launching of rockets against civilian targets. All hostages must be treated humanely and released immediately and without conditions.” See the clip below:
Israel immediately called for his resignation—calling his speech “blood libel”—and said it will no longer issue visas to UN representatives: “The time has come to teach them a lesson.”
Going viral: This heart-wrenching video of an Al Jazeera correspondent who lost his wife, son, daughter and grandson in an Israeli airstrike on a refugee camp. You can see him kneeling over his son’s body below—yes, it’s very difficult to watch:
In other news: from the war:
Glenn Maxwell made history by scoring the fastest century ever in an ODI World Cup. He smashed a 100 off just 40 balls in Australia’s match against Netherlands. The Aussies won that by 309 runs. The record for the fastest century in any ODI match is held by AB de Villiers—who got there in just 31 balls. Poor Bas de Leede marked a new low—conceding the most runs in any ODI World Cup innings. The Telegraph has more. Watch the highlights of his knock here.
In other WC news: Hardik Pandya is likely to miss two more games due to injury—but will be in action starting November 5. Indian Express has that story.
The Criminal Procedure Identification Act passed last year gave the government a free pass to collect all sorts of data on people who are arrested. The National Crime Records Bureau—which defines standard police procedure—announced that collecting facial data and DNA samples will now be standard procedure at 1,300 locations across the country. Point to note: these are not people convicted of a crime—merely arrested for one. What’s interesting: the act does not specifically mention the collection of either kind of information. FYI, the Opposition and legal experts have questioned the constitutionality of the law. (The Hindu)
Sorry, there isn’t much good news on the topic of global warming. A new report looked at “35 planetary vital signs used to track climate change.” It found that 20 have hit new extremes—including ice sheet melt, greenhouse gas emissions, meat production, tree cover loss, and billion-dollar flood events. This is how dire things are already:
[S]o far in 2023, there have been 38 days with global average temperatures more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels… What's more, the highest average Earth surface temperature ever recorded was in July, according to the report, which also notes that may be the highest surface temperate the Earth has experienced in the last 100,000 years.
We haven’t even ended the year yet. ABC News has lots more on the report.
The first rollout of RTS,S aka Mosquirix in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi has cut deaths among young children by 13% over the last 4 years. And it reduced severe cases by 22% in younger children who received the three-dose regimen. It may not sound like much but there are remarkable numbers, according to experts:
“The RTS,S malaria vaccine is already saving lives,” said John Tanko Bawa, director of malaria vaccine implementation at PATH... He added, “What we have seen is a considerable impact of a vaccine described as having modest efficacy.” (A late-stage clinical trial delivered lackluster results on the durability of the vaccine’s protection.) The 13% drop in deaths is so remarkable that “I was surprised I didn’t hear any gasps when it was stated,” joked medical epidemiologist Mary Hamel.
That drop in mortality translates to saving tens of thousands of lives in Africa—where an estimated 468,000 children under the age of five die of the disease. We have lots more on the malaria vaccine in this Big Story. (Science)
In far less happy drug-related news: Eli Lilly recently reported that participants in its phase 2 trial of its drug retatrutide lost an average of up to 24% of their weight over 48 weeks. That drug is now selling like hotcakes online—mostly being sold by shady Chinese companies. It is three years away from being approved by the FDA—which is kinda crazy:
“It’s unprecedented to see a drug that is in late-stage clinical trials being so flagrantly advertised for sale online,” said [former FDA lawyer] George Karavetsos… People promoting the sale of unapproved drugs to consumers could potentially face criminal prosecution, he said.
Reminder: Earlier this year, Ozempic—a drug developed to treat type 2 diabetes became wildly popular because it also causes significant and speedy weight loss. In fact, financial analysts expect the drug will affect vast swathes of the economy—from airlines to kidney treatments. FYI: first the UK and now Belgium plan to ban the prescription of Ozempic to people who do not have type 2 diabetes. We looked at Ozempic and the worrying discourse around ‘miracle’ weight loss drugs in this Big Story. (Wall Street Journal, paywall, NBC News)
India and six other nations—Russia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan—can now get a tourist visa for free. That’s a price break of $20. This is part of a pilot program that will last until March 31. The inclusion of India is hardly surprising—since we account for the largest number of tourists, followed by Russia. More than 200,000 Indians visited Sri Lanka just this year. (Indian Express)
In other happy visa news: New Delhi has resumed doling out visas to Canadians who need to enter the country on business—or to attend a conference. Tourist visas remain suspended. (The Hindu)
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)—which shapes the content of school textbooks—released a “special reading module” on the lunar mission. Of course, it glorifies the PM’s contribution to India’s space program. More controversial is his foreword which reads:
Literature tells us that [the lunar mission] can be traced back through Vymaanika Shastra: Science of Aeronautics, which reveals that our country had the knowledge of flying vehicles in those days (This book has mind boggling details of construction, working of engines and the gyroscopic systems)... All gods had their own vehicle personified as an animal, which they used to travel from one place to another. These places included earth, heaven, planets and cosmic destinations called ‘Loks’. Such vehicles were said to travel effortlessly in space and without any noise.
Well, you get the gist of it. Yes, of course, scientists are outraged—though not the folks over at ISRO.
Reminder: the government has been rewriting history in NCERT textbooks since 2017. We explained the ‘rationalisation’ of school textbooks in this Big Story—including all the cuts made last year. It was part two in a three-part series on our new education policy. You can read part one on the National Education Policy and part three on the common entrance exam. (The Hindu)
ICYMI, Meta is being sued by pretty much every state in the US—41 in total. The lawsuit claims the following:
The lawsuit, filed in a California federal court, argues that Meta unlawfully misled the public about the harms its products, like Facebook and Instagram, could impose on children and teens. By implementing a business model meant to maximize time on the platform, Meta contributed to a youth mental health crisis, the complaint says. “Over the past decade,” the lawsuit says, “Meta has profoundly altered the psychological and social realities of a generation of young Americans.”
One: Musée Grévin of Paris—France’s answer to Madame Tussauds—unveiled a wax version of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He looked, umm, not quite himself. After a fan pointed out the problem, the star said he was “going to have my team reach out to our friends at Grevin Museum, in Paris France so we can work at ‘updating’ my wax figure here with some important details and improvements—starting with my skin colour.” Or he could audition for the next Fair & Lovely ad like all the Bolly stars. (Times UK, paywall, CNN)
As you can see, Madame Tussauds did it way better:
Two: Tens of thousands of women in Iceland—including Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir—walked off work to protest gender inequality. Tuesday marked the anniversary of a historic 1975 strike—“when 90% of women refused to work, clean or look after children, to voice anger at discrimination in the workplace.” You can see the astonishing crowds below. (Associated Press)
Almost as amazing as this photo taken in 1975:
Three: We’ve been breaking our ‘no movie poster’ rule a lot in recent days. Here we go again: This one is for a new series on the RSS—titled ‘One Nation’ or ‘Ek Rashtra’. It will be directed by six National Award winning directors—Vivek Agnihotri, Priyadarshan, Dr Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, John Mathew Mathan, Manju Borah, and Sanjay Puran Singh. There’s no mention of Malayalam superstar Mohanlal or Kangana Ranaut—who were reportedly part of the project. (News 18)
Exit polls predict a Congress sweep in Telangana, but will it translate to Lok Sabha seats?Read More
US prosecutors have charged an Indian official for orchestrating a plot to kill a Khalistani leader in New York.Read More
The world’s most important climate change summit is being used to cut deals on the side.Read More