Researched by: Rachel John & Anannya Parekh
The Israel-Palestinian war: The latest update
For details and more context on the war, check our two part series: part one lays out the details of 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: Nearly 2,000 people have been killed on both sides over the space of four days—as Israel continued to pound Gaza with airstrikes. Israeli death count is around 1,000—while 900 people were killed in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli military also claims that there are bodies of 1,500 Hamas militants in its territory. There is every sign Tel Aviv is readying for a ground invasion—as it called up 360,000 reservists. Associated Press via The Hindu has lots more on the big picture—and what happens next.
Two: Soldiers retaking villages invaded by Hamas have been met by a trail of bodies—including women and children. Some leaders are describing the massacre as a pogrom. New York Times has more of these stories—many of which are hard to read.
Three: Egypt continues to block supplies of essential goods into Gaza. And many who tried to flee to the sole border crossing—but Israeli air strikes have taken out the entry gate. Since there is no safe place in Gaza, most are sheltering in their basements—but risk being trapped by a collapsed building. BBC News has a ground report from Gaza.
Four: Israel continues to receive unreserved support of the West. President Biden condemned the “sheer evil” of Hamas—and promised ammunition and other assistance to make sure “Israel does not run out of these critical assets to defend its cities and its citizens.” The Washington Post has that story.
Five: New Delhi too has abandoned any pretence of neutrality. PM Benjamin Netanyahu called PM Modi to shore up support. Modi soon after tweeted: “People of India stand firmly with Israel in this difficult hour. India strongly and unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.” C Raja Mohan in the Indian Express offers a strong defence of the government’s decisive shift toward Israel.
World Cup 2023: The latest update
One: Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by six wickets—chasing a daunting total of 345 runs. But they got there with ten balls to spare thanks to blazing knocks by Mohammad Rizwan (131) and Abdullah Shafique (113). (The Telegraph)
Two: Shubman Gill has dengue and will likely miss the upcoming match against Pakistan. The selection committee will decide whether Gill is out for the entire tournament during the game with Afghanistan today. Likely replacements include Yashasvi Jaiswal or Ruturaj Gaikwad. (Indian Express)
Moving on to the Olympics: The organisers of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles have proposed adding cricket to the line up—along with flag football, lacrosse, squash and softball. The final call will be made at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Mumbai slated for later this month. All of them are likely to make the cut. Not on the list: breakdancing, which will debut in Paris next year but won’t make it to LA. ICYMI: We did an excellent Big Story on cricket’s history at the Olympics—which dates back to 1912. (Reuters)
A looming prosecution of Arundhati Roy
The Delhi Lieutenant Governor has sanctioned the prosecution of the novelist and a Kashmiri professor—Sheikh Showkat Hussain. The alleged crime: speeches they made at an event back in 2010!! The charges include promoting enmity between different groups, acts prejudicial to national integration and harmony etc. They seem to have advocated for the independence of Kashmir at a conference titled 'Azadi - The Only Way'. (The Telegraph)
A survivability index for a warming world
While the entire planet will get hotter, the impact will not be uniform across the globe. Some parts of the world will become unlivable sooner than others. New research looked at what will happen to the most vulnerable spots on the planet—under various scenarios ranging from 1.5°C of warming through 4°C.
The research is the latest to build upon the idea that there is a limit to how much heat and humidity the human body can withstand, that it is likely lower than once thought, and that exposure to it will increase dramatically in the coming decades.
While few regions will be unlivable all the time, many will experience stretches of such periods:
Lahore, for example, would surpass the heat and humidity threshold for 69.5 hours a year under the most conservative warming scenario — nearly nine days if the heat lasted eight hours a day, or more than two weeks if it lasted four hours a day. At 4°C of global warming, the wet bulb temperature would remain above the threshold for more than 1,000 hours a year.
In other dismal climate news: Another study has found that damage caused by climate change has cost us $16 million every hour—over the past 20 years. The Guardian has lots more on those findings.
Closer to home: The government appears intent on boiling us to death—by favouring its chosen capitalists, in this case, Gautam Adani. A Reporter’s Collective investigation shows that the coal ministry overrode the environment ministry to allocate mining permissions in the densest forests of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Reporter’s Collective has all the details.
Government vs Big Tech: A ‘dark pattern’ debate
The context: First, let us explain what the phrase ‘dark pattern’ means. It basically describes strategies used by websites to trick users into making bad decisions:
For example, a common dark pattern is the “sneak into basket” technique used on e-commerce websites. When a user adds an item to their shopping cart, a dark pattern may be employed by automatically adding additional items to the cart without the user’s explicit consent or clear notification.
They sometimes use ‘confirm shaming’ to guilt you into opting for their services. Or they create a false sense of urgency to force you into making a purchase—such as those hotel booking sites.
What happened now: The Indian government released a draft proposal of new regulations to crack down on ten types of ‘dark patterns’. But it is getting strong pushback from all the big tech companies—Apple, Google, Meta, Amazon etc. Their argument is that they reduce the so-called ease of doing business.
They claim that there are already many regulations governing such activities—be it under the IT Act or the consumer protection laws. Adding a new set of rules is both unnecessary and will only cause confusion. The bigger worry: they insist e-commerce marketplaces “should not be held responsible for the dark patterns that may be present in third-party content and advertisements hosted by them.” (TechCrunch)
Moving on to AI: Google Cloud has introduced new AI-powered search features that will allow healthcare providers to instantly access patient information—from medical records:
For instance, if doctors want to know about a patient’s history, they no longer need to read through their notes, faxes and electronic health records separately. Instead, they can search questions such as “What medications has this patient taken in the last 12 months?” and see the relevant information in one place.
Let’s hope that medical chatbot doesn’t get creative with its answers a la ChatGPT... CNBC has lots more details.
The spidey senses of goalkeepers
According to a new study, football goalkeepers have a unique superpower. They have the ability to process information collected from their different senses—at lightning speed:
Being a goalkeeper is very much a multisensory pursuit. It doesn’t just require visual information, but auditory information — and in some cases, they can’t see the ball at all, and they just have to use the thud of the ball to make their best guess as to where it could end up.
And that makes them different from the rest of humanity—and even their own teammates. (The Guardian)
Bed bugs have arrived in London!
Paris has recently been besieged by a plague of bed bugs—which appear to now have crossed the Channel. They have now shown up on the London Underground. They likely hitched a ride on the Eurostar. To be fair, there’s a lot of noise and icky clips on social media (see below). But it doesn’t seem to be a full-blown infestation for now. (Times UK, paywall, Independent UK)
Four things to see
One: Rahul Gandhi is on photo-op roll these days. First, he shamed a room full of journalists by asking for a show of hands to count those who belong from backward castes. He was making a point about privilege—and it worked out pretty well for him (NDTV)
Then there’s this clip of him chilling with college students at Maharani College in Jaipur—answering questions about his marital status and skincare routine. It’s nice to see a male neta comfortable in a room full of women.
Two: There are blue moons—which you can occasionally spot on Earth. Then there are blue sunsets—which can only be viewed on Mars. The Perseverance rover sent this gorgeous photo taken by its navigation camera. If you’re wondering why sunsets are blue on the red planet, Independent UK has all the gyaan.
Three: Snails in Florida are apparently bright and cheery. The newly discovered Cayo margarita is bright yellow and named in honour of Jimmy Buffet (see: ‘Margaritaville’). Scientists also discovered a close relative—a lime-green snail, named Cayo galbinus—in the same reefs. The really good news about these new-found creatures:
C. margarita and C. galbinus could be some of the few marine creatures that may thrive as a result of climate change. The snails prefer permanently anchoring themselves to dead corals, which will become increasingly common as ocean temperatures rise and corals bleach themselves.
CNN has more deets. Check out Ms/Mr Magarita below.
Four: We’re not sure about this trailer for ‘Dhak Dhak’. The cast is brilliant—Ratna Pathak Shah, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Dia Mirza and Sanjana Sanghi. And what’s not to like about a ‘biker naani’. But it all feels a bit hokey and cliche. (Indian Express)