10 things you need to know today: October 8, 2023

Israel battles Hamas as hundreds dead on both sides, Western world pledges to support Israel during war, and more

Israeli tanks rolling down the street
Israel has begun a counterassault against Hamas following a surprise attack
(Image credit: Jalaa Marey / AFP via Getty Images)

1. Israel battles Hamas as hundreds dead on both sides

Israeli security forces continued engaging in a full-scale war with Hamas on Sunday after the latter launched a surprise attack from the Palestinian-held Gaza Strip. Soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were attempting to regain control of towns that had been overrun by Hamas insurgents, as reports emerged of civilians being killed. While Hamas was able to take a number of Israeli hostages, it was reported that all of these captives were rescued by Sunday morning, though numerous Israelis were also kidnapped and taken into the Gaza Strip. Attacks from both sides have left hundreds dead, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged "severe consequences" for Hamas. Leaders from the Palestinian group said they were prepared for the fighting to escalate. The Times of Israel, The Associated Press

2. Western world pledges to support Israel during war

Leaders from numerous Western countries vowed to stand behind Israel on Saturday following Hamas' surprise attack. President Biden said in a statement that he "unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza," adding that the United States was "ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel." He was joined in these sentiments by French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and more. While the Western world mostly stood with Israel, numerous Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Oman, Qatar and Pakistan expressed support for Hamas' efforts, citing Israeli aggression. Bloomberg, The Associated Press

3. More than 2,000 dead following earthquake in Afghanistan

More than 2,000 people were dead following a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan, the country's Taliban government said Sunday. The earthquake struck 25 miles west of the city of Herat on Saturday. A spokesperson for the Taliban said that at least 2,053 people had died, with that number expected to rise as search-and-rescue teams began looking through the rubble. An additional 1,240 people were injured and more than 1,300 homes were either totally or partially destroyed. Afghanistan has seen a number of recent earthquakes, and the takeover by the Taliban in 2021 has left the country struggling to respond adequately to these types of natural disasters. CNN, The Washington Post 

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4. A dozen injured during Russian attack on Ukraine

At least 12 people were injured following a Russian attack on the Ukrainian territory of Kherson, the region's governor said Sunday. Governor Oleksandr Prokudin wrote on social media that "the Kherson region experienced another terrible night." Among the injured were a 27-year-old woman and her nine-month-old baby, who were both sent to the hospital with minor wounds. A number of houses and infrastructure pipelines were also damaged in the attack, Prokudin said. A family of four was also injured in nearby Stanislav, officials said, as Russia has reportedly launched at least 59 attacks on the region over the past day. This includes attacks from mortars, artillery, aircraft and tanks. Reuters, The Kyiv Independent

5. Tourism beginning to boost Lahaina 2 months after devastating wildfire

Hawaiian hotels and timeshares began welcoming tourists back to West Maui this weekend, two months after a devastating wildfire that destroyed the historic city of Lahaina. As part of a push to re-energize the region's tourism economy, at least five hotels near Lahaina started accepting reservations again. Another eight timeshares have also begun re-opening their properties across the island, including some that are reportedly just miles away from the epicenter of the wildfire. However, despite Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) insisting on tourism dollars to help the economy, some local residents have pushed back against the re-opening of hotels, saying it is occurring too soon after the tragedy. More than 3,500 residents even signed a petition asking Green to delay the re-openings. The Associated Press, Honolulu Star-Advertiser

6. California governor vetoes bill to outlaw caste discrimination

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed a bill Saturday that would've outlawed caste discrimination throughout his state. In a veto notice, Newsom wrote that while "everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter who they are, where they come from, who they love, or where they live," the state "already prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin" and more, so the bill was unnecessary. The move is a hindrance for those trying to explicitly outlaw the caste system, which divides people at birth based on descent and social class. The practice has historically been common in Southeast Asia and India, where efforts have been made to outlaw it. The Hill, Politico

7. Indians become largest-growing Asian American group in US

Asian Americans remain the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, and Indians have now become the largest-growing subsection within that group, census data shows. While Indian Americans have a long history in the United States, their growth was mostly stifled until a change in immigration policy in the 1960s led to Indian tech workers migrating to the country. The number of Americans who consider themselves to be of Indian descent is now around 4.4 million, a 50% spike from 2010 to 2020. However, the largest Asian American sub-group remains Chinese, with an estimated 5.2 million Chinese Americans in the United States. California, New York, Texas, Hawaii and Washington are the five states with the most Asian Americans. Axios

8. Chocolate factory failed to evacuate employees prior to deadly explosion, OSHA says

An eastern Pennsylvania chocolate factory didn't evacuate its workers prior to an explosion this past March that left seven people dead, even though some employees said they smelled gas, the U.S. Department of Labor said. The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in a press release this past week that the R.M. Palmer Company "did not evacuate the facility after being told of a suspected gas leak." The department added that the factory "could have prevented this horrific tragedy by following required safety procedures." R.M. Palmer officials responded by saying it "stands by its safety program and policies." The company has already been fined nearly $45,000 by OSHA following the explosion. CNN, The New York Times

9. Myanmar Supreme Court declines appeals from ousted leader

The Supreme Court of Myanmar declined to hear appeals from the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been jailed following corruption convictions. Suu Kyi has been behind bars since being deposed by a military coup d'etat in 2021, and could face up to 27 years in prison after being convicted of numerous crimes. Suu Kyi, who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has maintained her innocence as many across Myanmar have protested for her release. This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has ruled against Suu Kyi — the court previously rejected five appeals from her this past August on sedition-related charges. Reuters 

10. Largest Hindu temple outside of Asia opens in New Jersey

The largest Hindu temple outside of Asia opened to patrons on Sunday. The BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey, is a sprawling 183-acre complex that is comparable in size with some of the largest Hindu temples in India. The temple is being inaugurated in a ceremony before opening to the general public on Oct. 18. The BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham was constructed by more than 12,500 volunteers from around the globe, and has been in development since 2011. "This is the American Dream," Yogi Trivedi, a volunteer at the temple, told NBC News. "The sacred geography of India and beyond is here in this one place and you can experience, witness and admire it all here in New Jersey." NBC News

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