Afternoon Update: US paused weapons shipment to Israel; Hunter Valley bus driver plea deal; and the life expectancy of cats

<span>A man stands on the rubble after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.</span><span>Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
A man stands on the rubble after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Welcome, readers, to Afternoon Update.

The US president Joe Biden’s administration paused a shipment of weapons to Israel last week in opposition to apparent moves by the Israelis to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a senior administration official has said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that as Israeli leaders seemed to approach a decision on a Rafah incursion, “we began to carefully review proposed transfers of particular weapons to Israel that might be used in Rafah” beginning in April. “As a result of that review, we have paused one shipment of weapons last week. It consists of 1,800 2,000lb bombs and 1,700 500lb bombs,” the official said, according to Reuters.

A senior Israeli official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, did not confirm any specific hold-up in arms supplies but appeared to take the reports in stride: “As the prime minister has already said, if we have to fight with our fingernails, then we’ll do what we have to do.” The White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

Top news

  • Councillor defends ban on same-sex parenting books at local libraries | The Cumberland city councillor Steve Christou, who proposed the book ban, said he had received complaints from residents who “don’t want any form of sexualised books”. The move has been widely condemned by politicians as “appalling” and “pathetic”.

  • High court ruling finds government liable for sacred site damage | The commonwealth government can be held criminally liable for damages to Indigenous sacred sites, Australia’s highest court has ruled in a landmark decision. The case had centred on damage to Gunlom Falls within the Kakadu national park, after a walkway was built too close to a sacred men’s site.

  • Man wrongly identified as Bondi Junction killer asks police to consider prosecutions | Ben Cohen, a university student, has asked police to consider prosecuting the people who linked him to the attack on social media. Cohen has asked police to consider pursuing criminal charges for menacing, harassing and offensive conduct, criminal defamation and inciting violence on racial grounds.

  • Hunter Valley bus driver pleads guilty to dangerous driving charges | Brett Button has been taken into custody after pleading guilty over the June 2023 crash that left 10 people dead and many more injured. Button pleaded guilty to 10 counts of dangerous driving causing death, nine of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm and 16 of furious driving causing bodily harm, while 10 manslaughter charges were withdrawn. He returns to court on 30 May when a date for his sentencing will be fixed.

  • Dozens of people trapped after tornado collapses FedEx building in Michigan | Tornadoes that hit Michigan ripped the roof off a FedEx building in Portage, partially collapsing the structure and trapping 50 people inside. Elsewhere in the state, thousands of residents are without power and face a deluge of hail and tornado warnings amid severe thunderstorms.

  • AstraZeneca withdraws Covid-19 vaccine worldwide | In a statement, AstraZeneca said the decision was made because there is now a variety of newer vaccines available that have been adapted to target Covid-19 variants. This led to a decline in demand for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is no longer being manufactured or supplied.

  • Stormy Daniels’ testimony on Trump affair off to lurid start | My colleague Martin Farrer covered the “lively” start to Stormy Daniels’ day in court in Morning Mail. In the latest update, the adult film star’s testimony in the Trump hush-money trial escalated to “lurid”.

  • Life expectancy of domestic cat breeds | Experts have revealed how many years on average domestic cats in the UK have left to live based on their current age. The results suggest burmese and birman cats have the highest life expectancy, with kittens in their first year of life expected to live for another 14.4 years.

  • Australia out of Eurovision grand final | The votes have been counted, and in a massive upset for Australia, Electric Fields did not make it through to the Eurovision grand final after being knocked out alongside Poland, Iceland, Moldova and Azerbaijan.

In pictures

Pro-Palestinian student protests around the world – in pictures

From Baghdad to Copenhagen, demonstrations against Israel’s military action in Gaza have been growing at university campuses across the globe.

What they said …


“We are effectively seeing the greatest transfer of wealth from one generation to another in the wrong direction.” – Tim Pallas

The Victorian treasurer has labelled Australia’s generational wealth inequality as “nothing short of a national tragedy”. Speaking at a Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry event in Melbourne, Pallas said Australia would have to confront the fact Gen Z and millennials “are finding it much harder to break into the housing market than their parents did”.

In numbers

Climate thinktank Ember found renewables had grown from 19% of electricity in 2000 to more than 30% of global electricity last year, after a rapid rise in wind and solar power.

Before bed read

Australian supermarket chocolate hazelnut spread taste test: the worst resembles ‘wet cement’

In his search for a “unicorn” product, Nicholas Jordan tries 11 spreads, from nostalgic favourite Nutella to one with a “playdough flavour”.

Daily word game

Today’s starter word is: MANE. You have five goes to get the longest word including the starter word. Play Wordiply.

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