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First Thing: Gaza hit by heavy airstrikes as UN warns of ‘uncontainable’ crisis

The Guardian logo The Guardian 5/17/2021 Miranda Bryant
a lit up city at night: Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA

Good morning,

Israeli warplanes have launched what appeared to be the heaviest airstrikes yet on Gaza City since the conflict broke out a week ago.

The attacks rocked the city for 10 minutes and were more intense, covered a broader area and lasted longer than the raids 24 hours earlier in which 42 Palestinians were killed. Hamas has continued launching rockets from civilian areas in Gaza towards civilian areas in Israel.

  • To date, at least 188 Palestinians have been killed, including 55 children, and 10 people have been killed in Israel, including a five-year-old boy.

  • Joe Biden may find himself increasingly isolated in his resolute defence of Israel, writes Julian Borger, the Guardian’s world affairs editor.

  • The executive editor of the Associated Press, one of the news organisations attacked on Saturday, has called for an independent inquiry into Israel’s bombing of the 12-storey building in Gaza.

  • Who’s to blame for reigniting the Israel-Palestine conflict? “Iranian machinations; blind fury and political deadlock in Israel and Palestine; US impotence. Taken together, as of now, these elements suggest there is little prospect of a lasting halt to the mayhem,” writes Simon Tisdall.

Matthew McConaughey appears to be serious about running for Texas governor

Matthew McConaughey wearing a suit and tie: Actor Matthew McConaughey, pictured in February last year, is reportedly considering a run for Texas governor. Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP © Provided by The Guardian Actor Matthew McConaughey, pictured in February last year, is reportedly considering a run for Texas governor. Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Actor Matthew McConaughey is reportedly “quietly making calls” to influential political figures about a potential run for Texas governor.

According to a report by Politico yesterday, the Dallas Buyers Club star, who was born in Uvalde, Texas, and lives in the state capital, Austin, is having conversations about “seriously throwing his hat in the ring”.

In March, the 51-year-old said that running for governor was “a true consideration” and last year he published an autobiography.

  • Does he stand a chance? Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based Republican strategist, thinks so. “Celebrity in this country counts for a lot … it’s not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal,” he told Politico.

  • McConaughey is by no means the first to consider a pivot from Hollywood to governor. Reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner is attempting a run in California, where Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor from 2003-2011. Meanwhile, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon ran against New York governor Andrew Cuomo in 2018.

  • Also in Texas, Democrat Mike Collier, who last time lost to Trumpist Dan Patrick for the state’s lieutenant governor, tells Alexandra Villarreal why he thinks he can win in 2022.

Narendra Modi is under fire over India’s catastrophic second Covid wave

a person sitting on a bench talking on a cell phone: People wait for free food outside a temple in New Delhi on Monday amid lockdown in the capital. Photograph: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian People wait for free food outside a temple in New Delhi on Monday amid lockdown in the capital. Photograph: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, is facing tough questions as the country’s total coronavirus cases soar above 20 million and the official death toll exceeds a quarter of a million.


Video: Israel says Gaza tunnels destroyed in heavy airstrikes (Associated Press)

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Earlier this year he had an approval rating of 80%, but now the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government led by Modi is confronted by unprecedented public anger, writes the Guardian’s south Asia correspondent, Hannah Ellis-Petersen.

  • Amid a devastating second wave of the pandemic, India’s coronavirus figures are believed by experts to be significantly undercounted.

  • How will his handling of the pandemic affect Modi’s leadership? Modi’s image will depend on how the devastation is interpreted, says Ashutosh Varshney, director of the centre for contemporary south Asia at Brown University in the US. But he believes the leader, who came to power in 2014 and won a big majority in 2019, “will have to pay a price”.

  • Meanwhile, in the US, White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci yesterday said that “the undeniable effects of racism” have worsened Covid for Black, Hispanic and Native American people.

In other news…

a person holding a sign: Antwon Davis lights candles at a memorial for Daunte Wright on 2 May in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Antwon Davis lights candles at a memorial for Daunte Wright on 2 May in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
  • Officials in the Minneapolis suburb where Daunte Wright was shot dead by police last month have approved a plan to dramatically change policing. The Brooklyn Center city council voted 4-1 on Saturday for new divisions of unarmed civilian employees to handle non-moving traffic violations and mental health crises.

  • Sierra Leone has sold a rainforest for a Chinese fish plant in a “catastrophic” $55m deal. The deal, condemned by conservationists, landowners and rights groups, will allow China to build an industrial fishing harbour on 100 hectares (250 acres) of beach and protected rainforest. Black Johnson beach fringes Western Area Peninsula national park, which is home to endangered species.

  • “Their stories need to be told”: historians explain the true story behind Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad.

  • Liz Cheney said she does not regret voting for Donald Trump in 2020 – despite her recent removal from Republican leadership for criticising him. The Wyoming congresswoman, who was ousted from her position last week, spoke amid growing Republican infighting over the former president and the future of the party.

a lit up city at night: Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza City on Monday. © Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza City on Monday.

Stat of the day: Uber drivers are paid just 32 cents a mile to drive to LAX

Drivers say the ride-hailing app’s mileage rate from Los Angeles international airport was cut from 65 cents a mile and that it removed the multiplier option for them to set their own prices. “No driver in their right mind will go to LAX for 32 cents per mile,” driver Alvaro Bolainez told Michael Sainato, who reports on the impact on Uber and Lyft drivers of Proposition 22, a new law in California.

Don’t miss this: My 10-month stay at a treatment center for borderline personality disorder

Courtney Cook writes about her experiences at La Europa, a residential treatment center for at-risk teenage girls in Utah, and the other young women she met there. She arrived when she was 13 and did a treatment program based on art therapy. “I didn’t, and still don’t, believe there is a possibility of a place more beautiful,” she writes in an excerpt from her forthcoming book.

… or this: ‘Raising a child without a village is doable – but lonely’

Guardian readers in the US and around the world reflect on the pain and joy of becoming parents during a pandemic.

Last Thing: Ever wondered why sharks have such a good sense of direction? Shark GPS.

a fish swimming under water: A bonnethead shark, seen off Key Largo, Florida. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo © Provided by The Guardian A bonnethead shark, seen off Key Largo, Florida. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

In 2005, a great white shark was tracked swimming all the way from South Africa to Australia and back again in pretty much a straight line – prompting scientists to believe they have a magnetic sense. Now researchers from Florida State University have found that sharks have an internal navigation system similar to GPS that enables them to use the Earth’s magnetic forces to accurately find their way across long distances, reports Richard Luscombe. The discovery, published in the scientific journal Current Biology, was found by putting 20 bonnethead sharks through “magnetic displacement” exercises.

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