Some 477 pilot whales have died after stranding themselves on two remote New Zealand beaches over recent days, officials say. None of the stranded whales could be refloated and all either died naturally or were euthanized in a "heartbreaking" loss, said Daren Grover, the general manager of Project Jonah, a nonprofit group which helps rescue whales. The whales beached themselves on the Chatham Islands, which are home to about 600 people and located about 800 kilometres (500 miles) east of New Zealand's main islands.

The Department of Conservation said 232 whales stranded themselves Friday at Tupuangi Beach and another 245 at Waihere Bay on Monday. The deaths come two weeks after about 200 pilot whales died in Australia after stranding themselves on a remote Tasmanian beach. Mass strandings of pilot whales are reasonably common in New Zealand, especially during the summer months. Scientists don't know exactly what causes the whales to strand, although it appears their location systems can get confused by gently sloping sandy beaches.

Saudi Arabia said that the US had urged the kingdom to postpone a decision by OPEC and its allies - including Russia - to cut oil production by a month which would have been just before the upcoming American midterm elections. A statement issued by the Saudi Foreign Ministry didn't specifically mention the elections, crucial to US President Joe Biden maintaining his Democratic Party's narrow majorities in Congress. However, it stated that the US "suggested" the cuts be delayed by a month as opposed to being implemented at OPEC's Oct. 5 meeting in Vienna.

Rising oil prices - and by extension higher gasoline prices - have been a key driver of inflation in the US and around the world, worsening global economic woes as Russia's monthslong war on Ukraine also has disrupted global food supplies. For Biden, gasoline prices creeping up could affect voters. He and many lawmakers have warned that America's longtime security-based relationship with the kingdom could be reconsidered.

India's Supreme Court has failed to deliver a verdict on whether Muslim students can wear the hijab in schools and colleges, with two judges expressing opposing views. One judge upheld a Karnataka high court order from March that said the hijab was not "essential" to Islam. The other said the high court order was erroneous and wearing the hijab was a matter of choice. The verdict was expected to cap a 10-month-long polarising debate in India. But as the judges could not agree on a decision, they have now requested the chief justice of India to recommend it to a larger bench.

The row began at the start of the year in the southern state of Karnataka when a government college in Udupi district barred six Muslim girls from wearing the hijab in class. Muslim women protesters then challenged the ban in court, saying it was discriminatory and went against their right to freedom of expression and religion.

Israeli police fired live rounds, tear gas and stun grenades in widespread Jerusalem street confrontations Wednesday (Oct. 12) with Palestinians who threw stones, firecrackers and firebombs. It was the fiercest unrest in the contested city in months. Tensions in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem have been soaring since a suspected Palestinian assailant shot and killed an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint at the entrance to the Shuafat refugee camp earlier this week. Movement in and out of Shuafat, a neglected Jerusalem slum, has been restricted as troops search for the shooter.

The overnight street violence appeared to have subsided by Thursday morning, as tens of thousands of Jews were flocking to Jerusalem to celebrate the week-long Sukkot holiday, surging into east Jerusalem's Old City, often a focal point for tensions. The confrontations between Israeli troops and Palestinians erupted in more than a dozen neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and areas surrounding it.

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