Good morning. A ceasefire in Gaza, environmental warnings here and overseas, and how to reopen Australia: it’s Friday 21 May, and this is Imogen Dewey with this morning’s news.
Israel’s security cabinet has approved a ceasefire to halt an 11-day bombardment of Gaza, after days of international pressure to end the bloodshed, including a resolution introduced by US senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday blocking a $735m US weapons sale to Israel on Thursday. A Hamas official confirmed the agreement, telling Reuters that the truce would start at 2am local time on Friday. Thousands are still expected to join a second round of protests across Australia this weekend over the attacks with the death toll now at at least 230 in Gaza, and 12 in Israel. Oliver Holmes suggests both sides appear to be “laying the groundwork” for victory narratives.
Experts tell Guardian Australia that permission to quarantine at home and a traffic light system to define high-risk countries should be part of a plan to reopen Australia to the rest of the world. Despite strong pushback from two state premiers, Scott Morrison has insisted his proposal for a digital vaccination passport that could be used for quarantine-free domestic travel is not dead in the water. The federal government has meanwhile established just three of 13 promised Pfizer pop-up Covid-19 vaccine hubs for younger aged care workers, all of which are in Sydney, almost two months after they were supposed to begin operating.
In environment news, Australia’s big banks have explicitly rejected Nationals’ claims that managing climate risk is “virtue signalling”, saying that governments and regulators require it, and that the investor community is “increasingly transitioning its focus towards a net-zero emissions economy”. Trillions of litres of water released into the Murray-Darling Basin to benefit the environment has failed to increase the populations of threatened species, according to a damning new assessment.
Extreme weather may drive flying foxes to seek “climate refuge” as far south as Tasmania, scientists have warned, with the potential for significant effects on local ecosystems. And on the other side of the planet, a drastic drop in caribou and shorebird populations has marked dire changes unfolding on the Arctic tundra.
Almost 150 refugees held within Australia’s offshore processing system in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, or in onshore detention, are in the last stages of approval for resettlement in Canada, where private citizens can sponsor a refugee’s resettlement if they commit to providing “emotional and financial support”.
Prime minister Scott Morrison will discuss reforms to combat rape culture with Chanel Contos, who yesterday briefed other federal MPs, and whose petition calling for earlier sex education in schools prompted hundreds of testimonies from former Sydney schoolgirls about sexual assault earlier this year.
Australia’s biggest cattle farmer has predicted that the nation’s beef exports to the UK could rise as much as tenfold if the two countries strike a free-trade deal – the first major one post-Brexit. But British farmers (and some MPs) are alarmed.
A taxi driver who gave a lift to a corrections officer on the day Wayne Fella Morrison was rushed to hospital from Yatala Labour Prison has told the South Australian coroner he overheard guards talking about potentially tampering with evidence.
The BBC has been forced to make a humiliating apology after an investigation found that Martin Bashir used deceitful tactics that were later covered up by senior executives to secure his sensational 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.
Intelligence officials in Nigeria have claimed the leader of Boko Haram is dead or seriously wounded after trying to kill himself to avoid capture during clashes with a rival extremist faction.
A Spanish Red Cross volunteer has been abused online after footage of her hugging a Senegalese migrant went viral. Luna Reyes was targeted by supporters of Spain’s far-right Vox party and others incensed by the unprecedented arrival of 8,000 migrants in Ceuta.
Texas inmate Quintin Jones was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday without media witnesses present, because prison agency officials reportedly neglected to notify press it was time to carry out the punishment. It was the first time in at least 40 years that media was not present at an execution.
“There are books you encounter as an adult that you wish you could press into the hands of your younger self,” writes Beejay Silcox. “Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray is one of those books.” Anita Heiss’s new novel is a literary celebration of the Wiradyuri language, which is woven throughout – in her own words: “a strong statement … regarding the reclamation and maintenance of the traditional language of my family”. It’s also a joyful love story, Silcox notes, one that “turns Australia’s long-mythologised settler history into a raw and resilient heartsong”.
Appalling, beautiful, liberating – it’s time to reclaim freestyle singing – Gary Nunn insists. “The office is conservatism personified, a dozen times over, from payroll to marketing. After my shower, I can’t sing unrestrained like this again in my day. But as more of us than ever will work from home during the Covid normal era … we have an opportunity.”
Feel-good hotels are common enough; it’s kind of the business model. But do-good hotels, that operate purely to fund initiatives that make the world a better place, are harder to find. From a social enterprise hotel running training programs for young people with disabilities, to a bush camp run by a not-for-profit wildlife conservancy, Jo Stewart explores the getaways that keep on giving.
Plus: how age affects what Australian men and women find attractive.
Three events this week have raised serious concerns about a lack of transparency in Australia’s democracy: a senate committee report on press freedom, a battle to unlock the inner workings of Scott Morrison’s national cabinet, and a legal challenge to the secrecy of information – around a secret court case.
Today on Full Story, Gabrielle Jackson talks to Lenore Taylor and Mike Ticher about the importance of being able to hold governments to account.
Australia has launched its 2027 Rugby World Cup bid, forecast to deliver $2.5bn boost and welcome over two million fans – including 200,000 international visitors – across 48 matches. Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan yesterday called it a “once-in-a generation opportunity”.
India’s cricket board has confirmed its women’s side will play a landmark pink-ball Test during their upcoming tour of Australia. The fixture will mark just the second women’s Test between Australia and India since 1991.
The Age has revealed that a third of “supposedly highly protective” N95 masks fail government tests, putting frontline hospital and hotel quarantine workers at risk of Covid infection. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, China could have ordered Huawei to shut down Australia’s 5G. A senior BHP executive has warned the Australian that ongoing trade tensions with China pose “an important risk” to the Australian economy and must be addressed. Also in the Oz, Queensland’s proposed $70m quarantine facility has stalled “partly over a bureaucratic requirement”. And in Tasmania, the Greens have referred the preselection, election and resignation of Liberal candidate Adam Brooks to the Integrity Commission, the Mercury reports.
School Strike 4 Climate rallies are taking place today in towns and capital cities across the country.
There are nearly 10bn Google searches for skin, nail and hair issues each year, prompting the tech giant to create a “dermatology assist tool” – but its entry into health diagnostics has alarmed health experts, who fear it could lead to “a tsunami of overdiagnosis”, or rare and complex skin conditions being missed.
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