Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
Israel-Palestine war: The latest update
We look at the ground invasion in the Big Story. Below are the rest of the headlines.
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.
The death toll: The death toll in Gaza has crossed 8,000—and mostly includes women and minors. The number of Israeli deaths are at 1,400.
A humanitarian aid crisis: Nearly three dozen trucks entered Gaza on Sunday. It is the largest aid convoy since the war began. But it will barely make a dent in a Gaza deprived of water, electricity and fuel. Thousands of people broke into UN aid warehouses to take flour and basic hygiene products— “in a mark of growing desperation and the breakdown of public order.”
Communication blackout: Gaza experienced a near-total communications blackout for nearly 36 hours due to Israeli air strikes on communications lines and towers. Elon Musk offered his Starlink satellite internet service to “internationally recognised aid organisations”—but Israeli authorities insisted he tie the offer to the release of hostages. In any case, Paltel Group—which provides communications services in Gaza—has been mostly able to restore connectivity. (Al Jazeera)
UN resolution: The General Assembly voted for a non-binding resolution that called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza. The US and its allies voted against it—while India abstained. The reason: the wording did not condemn Hamas. But, but, but: PM Modi called Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, tweeting: “We share concerns regarding terrorism, violence and loss of civilian lives. We agree on the need for early restoration of peace and stability and facilitating humanitarian assistance.” Indian Express has more on India’s diplomatic tightrope act. (Associated Press)
Protest update: Large pro-Palestinian rallies—with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators—were held in cities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia over the weekend. Below is a glimpse of the crowds in London:
Related read: Mint has a long piece on the effect of the war on the Indian stock market—which witnessed a ‘bloodbath’ over the past week.
World Cup 2023: India slay England
India rules! The boys in blue demolished England in a 100-run victory—despite a collapse—that included Virat Kohli who got out for a duck. The bowlers did a fantastic job of defending a modest target of 230 runs. Indian Express has more on India’s winning formula. The Hindu offers an ecstatic match report.
Pakistan team fined: Pakistan has been fined 20% of their match fee for a slow over-rate in their match against South Africa on Friday. According to the ICC Code of Conduct, players are fined 5% of their match fee for every over that is not bowled in the allotted time. (Mint)
Speaking of Pakistan: Their match versus India on October 14 attracted 173 million viewers on Star and DD TV channels. Another 225 million watched the game on Disney+Hotstar—setting a new global record for streamed content. (Economic Times)
Matthew Perry has left the building
The greatly beloved ‘Friends’ star was found dead in the hot tub at his residence on Saturday. He was only 54 years old. There were no signs of foul play or of drugs—which is important as Perry struggled for decades with addiction. When asked in April this year how he’d like to be remembered, he said: “As a guy who lived life, loved well, lived well and helped people. That running into me was a good thing, and not something bad.”
A bit of trivia: Perry once confessed to beating up Canadian PM Justin Trudeau as a schoolkid. He was in fifth grade at the time (See: the clip here). Trudeau has never commented on the story to this date. (Los Angeles Times)
A bizarre blast in Kerala
Three people were killed—and 51 injured—due to multiple blasts at a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ gathering. The IEDs were set off at an international convention centre—where the group had assembled for a three-day prayer meeting in Kalamassery. A former member of the sect—Dominic Martin—has claimed responsibility and is in police custody. He posted a video on social media explaining his motives:
Six years ago, I realised that this is an organisation that is on the wrong track. They teach anti-national ideas and I have tried multiple times to rectify this, but none of them were ready to change. Living in a country, they teach that the country’s people are deplorable and that members should not mingle with them.
The Telegraph has more on the blast. Indian Express has more on why local residents are shocked by Martin’s act. The News Minute has everything you need to know about Jehovah’s Witnesses. You can see the state of the convention centre below:
Maine shooter dies by suicide
The context: Last week, a man went on a shooting spree at a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston, Maine. At least 18 people were killed and 13 injured. The police launched a manhunt for Robert Card—who served as an Army reservist for decades.
What happened now: The 48-hour manhunt ended on Friday when the police found Card’s body inside a cargo trailer—at a recycling plant where he was employed. He appears to have shot himself. The police also confirmed that he had mental health issues—and heard voices. Reminder: Maine does not have a ‘red flag’ law—which allows law-enforcement or relatives to take away weapons who pose a danger to themselves or others. (Reuters)
A CRISPR cure for HIV?
The context: In 2020, the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to two women—Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna—for developing "genetic scissors" that can cut DNA at a precise location. The tool—known as CRISPR-Cas9—has had a “revolutionary impact” on gene-based treatments, especially in the case of sickle cell anemia. The tool has also been controversial because it has been used to create ‘designer babies’.
What happened now: California-based Excision BioTherapeutics announced the results of the first clinical trial that used CRISPR to cut and destroy the virus in three people with HIV. The end goal: to cure HIV infections with “a single intravenous dose of a gene-editing drug.” Before we get too excited, all this first stage trial proves is that the treatment is safe and doesn’t cause serious side-effects. We still don’t have data on efficacy.
Why this still matters: HIV drugs right now can only stop the virus from replicating if you stay on them for the rest of your life. That’s because it “inserts its genetic material into the DNA of our cells, leaving behind hidden copies that can restart the infection.” Being able to simply cut out that material once and for all would be revolutionary. (MIT Technology Review)
X/Twitter’s new subscription plan
The platform unveiled two kinds of paid plans—‘Premium Plus’ ($16/month) and ‘Basic’ ($3/month). The premium version is pretty much everything you get with the current ‘blue tick’ tier—but with added perks. For example: the algorithm will give your replies to tweets the “largest” boost. And it removes ads from your feeds. The basic variety hardly offers you anything—not even a blue tick—and you still have ads. The reason for these moves: X has haemorrhaged revenues over the past year under Elon Musk. Axios recently did a quick calculation of just how bad it is. (The Verge)
Moving on to Google: The company made a commitment to invest an additional $1.5 billion in Anthropic—the main rival to OpenAI. It has already put in $500 million as upfront investment. Reminder: Amazon has already committed $4 billion to the same company. Why all this excitement over Anthropic?
Anthropic has told investors that the leaders of the AI race could be cemented as soon as next year and has painted a rosy picture of the future where AI tools could lead to virtual assistants, more intelligent search engines and more advanced content generation for things like movie scripts and videogames.
Taylor Swift is officially a billionaire!
The mostly male club of fabulously wealthy people now includes Swift—whose net worth is estimated to be $1.1 billion. Yes, her skyrocketing bank balance has everything to do with her record-breaking Eras tour. Just the movie about her tour made $92.8 million on the opening weekend. FYI: she is one of the few recording artists to build a “10-figure fortune almost entirely from her music.” Bloomberg News has more deets and fun infographics.
Four things to see
One: The iconic kaali-peeli Premier Padminis has been officially retired in Mumbai. The reason: these grand old divas have passed the age limit for cabs—which can’t be older than 20 years. Their production stopped in 2001. The Wire has more on the history of the ‘kaali-peeli’. We offer you one of the photos of this great icon taken by Finnish photographer Markku Lahdeshmaki—as part of his Mumbai Taxi Company project. Scroll has lots more in its profile of his work. (Moneycontrol)
Two: Hasan Minhaj issued a detailed rebuttal to an explosive New Yorker piece—which suggested he simply made up stories of racism. Minhaj lost out on his chance to become the next Daily Show host as a result. The 22-minute video includes screenshots of his email to the reporter—and audio of her interviews. Well, it's pretty darn convincing. But we suggest you check it out for yourself. New Yorker is standing by its reporting. If you don't know what this is about, Slate has a good summary. Watch a clip from Minhaj’s video below. The full 22-minute vid is here.
Three: NASA’s spacecraft is orbiting Jupiter—to learn more about the gassy giant. It beamed back this ‘gloomy face’ pic of the planet. Juno took far prettier (and happier) pics of Jupiter—which we shared recently. (Gizmodo)
Four: Bradley Cooper is very good at playing flawed musical geniuses (remember ‘Star is Born’?). He’s at it again in this trailer for ‘Maestro’—playing the legendary composer Leonard Bernstein. Once again, the focus seems to be on a troubled marriage—this time with his wife Felicia played by Carey Mulligan. FYI: The movie is directed by Cooper, as well. The movie hits theatres on November 22 and will make its Netflix debut on December 20. What’s interesting: ‘Maestro’ will go head-to-head with Sofia Coppola’s ‘Priscilla’—which will also be released around the same time. (Deadline)