Good morning. It’s Monday 17 May, and this is Imogen Dewey with today’s main stories: the deadliest attack since hostilities broke out in Gaza last Monday, calls for medevac-style repatriation flights for Covid-positive Australians in India, and a new Guardian Australia series going deep into Australia’s outback.
The eruption of violence in Gaza is heading for an “uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis”, the UN secretary general has warned after a day of significant escalation, with 42 Palestinians killed by airstrikes. So far at least 181 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 52 children in Gaza, and 10 people in Israel. On Saturday as thousands marched in Free Palestine demonstrations worldwide, Israeli forces bombed the office which housed Associated Press and Al Jazeera in Gaza. A week of relentless bombardment has destroyed power lines, smashed water pipes beneath roads and left human waste spilling out of the ground. The political ground is shifting as the death toll rises, and Julian Borger suggests those resolutely defending Israel, such as US president Joe Biden, may find themselves increasingly isolated.
Singing and dancing are once again allowed across greater Sydney as coronavirus-related restrictions lift today. New South Wales recorded no new local cases yesterday, though the source of the Sydney eastern suburbs infection that triggered the temporary restrictions 11 days ago is still unclear. As reports emerge that elite sportspeople and their families are being granted exemptions to return to Australia, public health experts say citizens who test positive in India should be considered medical evacuations and allowed to return home, stressing that it’s not a border issue but a health emergency. Scott Morrison yesterday rejected suggestions Covid-positive Australians were “unfairly blocked” from returning from India, despite conceding problems with the pre-flight testing regime, and said allowing people who had tested positive to return “doesn’t make any sense”. Not unrelatedly, researchers say a fake vaccine and test certificate market is growing worldwide.
Australia’s outback covers more than 70% of the continent. So, who owns it? Journalists Calla Wahlquist, Josh Nicholas and Nick Evershed tried to find out, uncovering a picture of increasingly consolidated land ownership (with 1.2% of the entire landmass of the country controlled by mining magnate Gina Rinehart) and a growing Indigenous estate. Our new series the Modern Outback launches today, and examines some of the environmental and social challenges facing the vast region – one of the last great untamed areas left in the world.
A nine-year-old girl who sometimes uses a wheelchair was described as not having mobility concerns in a report prepared for the controversial national disability insurance scheme trial of independent assessments.
Taxpayers could be on the hook for up to $2bn over a decade due to a fuel security payment committed by the federal government to support the refinery industry, which they say will protect 1,250 jobs.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg meanwhile defended the government’s decision not to do more to boost wages, while conceding that inflation would outstrip wage growth this year – meaning workers face a real pay cut.
The ABC has demanded a rightwing thinktank correct “misleading” claims on public trust, disputing assertions the Institute of Public Affairs made to the Senate’s media diversity inquiry – including of alleged reporter bias – as “false”.
And south-east Australia shivered through an early cold snap this weekend, with snow falling a month out from the start of the ski season.
US climate envoy John Kerry has said 50% of the carbon reductions needed to get to net zero will come from future tech, and that people “don’t have to give up a quality of life”.
Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces resumed yesterday, officials said, ending a three-day ceasefire agreed by the warring sides to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
A “civil war” between US Republicans is heating up as Liz Cheney becomes the figurehead of the conservative Never Trumpers – though the Wyoming congresswoman supported the former president in the last election.
Australia is experiencing a “condiment revolution”. Flavoured spreads made from locally sourced ingredients are on the rise – and according to those in the know, it’s all down to Covid. “We’ve caught up to where the food scene is in England overnight,” one producer tells Natasha May, saying many brands have had a “now or never” moment when it comes to products they might not have risked before, accelerating the industry by decades.
“Clearly AI is going to win. How people are going to adjust is a fascinating problem.” Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman discusses applying his ideas to organisations, why we’re not equipped to grasp the spread of a virus, and the massive disruption that’s just round the corner.
And if you are curious (go on, you are), here’s what happened on MasterChef last night.
Despite international calls for calm, there are fears that Israel and Palestine are on the verge of another war. In recent weeks there has been a sharp escalation in anger over Israel’s half-century occupation, its ever-deepening military grip over Palestinian life and a wave of evictions and demolitions. Today on Full Story, Oliver Holmes, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, talks to Rachel Humphreys about the violence that has broken out.
The Hawks are enduring their worst start to an AFL season under their long-serving coach. Is Alastair Clarkson still the right fit? asks Scott Heinrich. “The Hawthorn mentor was the mastermind behind one of the greatest teams in living memory. Those times have past. Clarkson might be the finest, most erudite coach in the game, but whether he is still the right man for Hawthorn is another thing.”
David Saker, the former Australia bowling coach, has said there were “a lot of people to blame” for the 2018 ball-tampering affair that has resurfaced following Cameron Bancroft’s recent interview with the Guardian.
The Matildas have received a major boost in the lead-up to a home World Cup in 2023 with a state-of-the-art facility to be purpose built for them in Melbourne’s north.
State governments want vaccine targets linked to the reopening of borders, the Age reports, to reassure community and business the country won’t be closed forever. On the first anniversary of Chinese trade strikes on Australian exporters, the ABC notes that producers are giving up on a return to normality, and looking to form new ties. And according to the New Daily, Frydenberg has “failed to explain how legislated tax cuts for high-income earners will lead to stronger economic growth”.
Australia’s stranded cricketers are due home.
A report is due from the Australia Post inquiry into the sacking of the former chief executive Christine Holgate.
And if you’ve read this far …
Trouble is brewing (sorry) for a Belgian mineral empire in a David and Goliath legal battle with Trappist monks, as the silent religious order seeks to protect the taste of its beer.
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