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Literary legend Toni Morrison dies at the age of 88; India escalates tension in Kashmir by revoking the territory’s special status.

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison dies

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  • Writer Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88. As the first African American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature, Morrison was a trailblazing figure in portraying black life in America. [NYT / Margalit Fox]
  • She tackled difficult topics like the intersection of race, family, and identity. One of her most famous novels, Beloved, which won the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature, became a commercial and critical success for depicting the psychological impact of slavery via the story of a mother who would rather kill her own child than let her live in enslavement. [Vox / Aja Romano]
  • Morrison’s work has also been censored by some communities for these very reasons. Her debut novel, The Bluest Eye, which tells the story of an African American girl who yearns to have light skin and blue eyes, has consistently been on the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books. [PBS]
  • Nevertheless, Morrison received much praise for how she depicted the reality of living in America for many black communities. [NPR / Karen Grigsby Bates]
  • Recognition did not come easy, though: Beloved was passed over for several major prizes, and only after 48 black intellectuals wrote an open letter to the New York Times did Morrison win the Pulitzer, becoming the first African American woman to win for literature and the first black woman of any nationality to win in any category. [Washington Post / Gillian Brockell]
  • Morrison’s legacy includes her contribution to the black American literary canon, and she pushed against the marginalization of her work. She believed the black American experience could exist in literature as more than just a lesson on race for white people, and she worked as both an author and editor to ensure that. [Vox / Constance Grady]
  • And she did not shy away from politics in hope of steering the nation into the right moral direction. She was one of 16 authors who wrote essays for the New Yorker following Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. Her concerns over racially motivated violence and police brutality in the essay “Mourning for Whiteness” remain relevant today. [New Yorker]

India revokes Kashmir’s special status

  • India made the controversial move on Monday to revoke Kashmir’s autonomous status, risking potential violent backlash. [NYT / Jeffrey Gettleman, Suhasini Raj, Kai Schultz, and Hari Kumar]
  • The Indian government announced that it would scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which has given near-autonomous authority to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since 1949. The state was allowed to have its own governing body, constitution, and flag. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • By rolling back J&K’s autonomous status, the central government in New Delhi gains control over the region. That’s bad news for the mostly Muslim population of Kashmir that feels little connection to New Delhi. [Al Jazeera]
  • Kashmir has been on lockdown since the announcement, with thousands of Indian troops on the ground. It remains unclear how the Kashmiri people have reacted to losing their autonomy because India has cut off all communication with the territory, including the internet and cell and landline networks. [AP / Emily Schmall]
  • This is all part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda. Although revoking Kashmir’s special status is a contentious move, Modi is emboldened by his successful reelection and is willing to risk bringing the Muslim-majority region under his control. [CNN / Swati Gupta]
  • This could potentially escalate India’s fragile relationship with Pakistan, which also claims ownership of the territory. The countries fought two wars over the land before reaching an agreement to claim two separate regions, but tensions remain — and Modi’s latest move isn’t helping. [BBC]
  • Pakistan has announced its support for the people of Kashmir and has vowed to “go to any extent” to protect them. The biggest fear right now is the possibility of a war between the two countries, which are both nuclear-armed. [Guardian / Rebecca Ratcliffe]
  • As of now, the likelihood of nuclear warfare appears low. Neither side, however, is giving assurances that the situation won’t worsen. [Vox / Alex Ward]


  • 17 countries — which are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population — are quickly running out of water. Several countries have already faced serious shortages in recent years. [NYT / Somini Sengupta and Weiyi Cai]
  • R. Kelly, who’s already facing federal and state sex crimes charges in New York and Illinois, has now been charged with engaging in prostitution with a minor and soliciting sex from a minor in Minnesota. [NBC News / Tim Stelloh]
  • Following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Venezuela and Uruguay have issued a travel warning about the US, citing concerns of hate crimes and violence. [CNN / Hollie Silverman]
  • Egypt is hoping to revive its tourism industry by restoring King Tut’s golden coffin. It will be placed within the brand new Grand Egyptian Museum, which is expected to be one of the largest museums in the world when it opens toward the end of late 2020. [ABC News / Hatem Maher]
  • Hip-hop is beginning to embrace inclusivity as more young black men explore their sexuality and confront macho culture. The genre, however, hasn’t always been so accepting. [LA Times / Gerrick D. Kennedy]


“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” [Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize speech]

Watch this: All student debt in the US, visualized

What if all this debt were canceled? This is what that would look like. [YouTube / Alvin Chang]

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