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FILE PHOTO: A Palestinian man cries next to bodies of her family members who died following Israeli strikes earlier, during their funeral in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Ahmed Zakot / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Gaza death toll’s bleak milestone, UK inflation’s two-year low, California’s holiday rains, Pro-peace candidate’s race against Putin, US-Venezuela prisoner swap

20,000: Over 20,0000 Palestinians have been killed since war broke out between Israel and Hamas in early October, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health. The death toll in the enclave has risen at a historic rate amid Israeli airstrikes, and both Israel and Hamas face allegations of war crimes.

3.9: UK inflation cooled to 3.9% in November – down from October’s 4.6% – to its lowest rate in over two years. Economists say the surprising fall in consumer price inflation could lead the Bank of England to slash interest rates in the first half of 2024, far earlier than expected.

20 million: El Niño is gifting Californians just what they want for the holidays: intense rainfall and possible flooding and mudslides. A flood watch was in place for over 20 million people in California on Wednesday, and the National Weather Service said heavy rainfall is expected across the southern part of the Golden State through Friday, warning of a “significant flash flood risk.”

300,000: Russian Yekaterina Duntsova, a former TV journalist who’s called for peace in Ukraine, on Wednesday submitted documents to formally register for the 2024 presidential election against Vladimir Putin. Duntsova faces a few obstacles: She needs 300,000 signatures in support of her candidacy from at least 40 regions, and, well … a fair democratic process.

10: The US and Venezuela swapped prisoners on Wednesday. The South American country released 10 imprisoned Americans and extradited an ex-military contractor referred to as “Fat Leonard” – who was the heart of a major US Navy corruption scandal – in exchange for Alex Saab, a close ally of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

A child takes bath in a bucket to cool off amid a heatwave warning in Hunan province, China.


What We're Watching: Dry China, UK inflation forecast, Pegasus spyware shakeup

Feeling the heat in China

Severe drought coupled with record-high temperatures in central and western China have hampered hydropower generation, prompting the shutdown of factories and sparking rolling blackouts in Sichuan province. (China is the world’s largest producer of hydroelectricity, which accounts for at least 18% of its total electricity generation.) The impact of the scorcher is being felt as far away as Shanghai, which relies heavily on hydropower from Sichuan, a province that usually gets a big summer downpour. Meanwhile, the property sector is drowning in debt, prompting China’s central bank on Monday to cut its five-year interest rate to help the construction and real estate sectors. What’s more, Shanghai announced that it would temporarily turn off lights lining the historic Bund waterfront to conserve energy. The energy crunch will further hurt China’s stagnant economy, which continues to contract as a result of President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy. President Xi is desperate to get the situation under control ahead of the 20th Party Congress later this year, when he is expected to secure a norm-defying third term as CCP secretary-general.

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