Your Hiatus Briefing for May 21

Cease-fire in Israel. Apple in court over in-app purchases. World Bee Day.

Thanks for being a part of Hiatus. Here’s what’s new in the world since last week.


And before we dive in – if you’re on the west coast and eager to support local, independent journalism, I highly recommend the California Sun newsletter. It’s written by Mike McPhate, a former New York Times reporter, and this week we’re exchanging links in each other’s newsletters.

“Fantastic.” “Original.” “Best thing in my inbox.” People are loving the California Sun, a daily newsletter with must-read stories about the Golden State. The sign up is free.


In Israel, a cease-fire has ended 10 days of bombings. Here’s an update on the situation from The New York Times:

“The sirens across southern Israel were silent on Friday, and the thunder of bombs bursting in Gaza City was replaced by sounds of celebratory gunfire as a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into force, bringing an end to more than 10 days of fighting that claimed more than 200 lives.

The truce, mediated by Egypt, began at 2 a.m. in Israel as people on either side of the divide watched nervously to see whether it would hold.

As morning dawned with no reported violations of the truce, both sides were beginning to take stock of the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian fighting in seven years.”


The European Union will soon open tourism to vaccinated Americans, as well as anyone vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine. An exact start date for the new policy hasn’t been set yet, but they’re aiming for the summer.


Three cruise lines will restart cruises from Seattle to Alaska in July, thanks to clearance from Congress allowing foreign-flagged ships to sail to Alaska.


Apple and Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, are in court this week to determine whether Apple should be able to control pricing on in-app purchases, where it makes a 30% commission. Epic Games argues that “Apple monopolizes access to its user base by charging exorbitant rates” and that Apple “breached antitrust laws by removing the app [Fortnite] from the App Store” after a pricing change.


A new law in Texas will attempt to ban abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. The bill is not scheduled to take effect until September, and will likely be challenged in court before it is applied in the real world. The Supreme Court will hear a case about a new Mississippi abortion law, with a decision expected in Summer 2022. Here’s my deep dive into the future of Roe v. Wade and U.S. abortion law.


President Joe Biden signed a new bill aimed at addressing rising hate crimes against Asian Americans. Here’s a summary from NPR:

“The legislation, introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, aims to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels by boosting public outreach and ensuring reporting resources are available online in multiple languages.

It also directs the Department of Justice to designate a point person to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and authorizes grants to state and local governments to conduct crime-reduction programs to prevent and respond to hate crimes.”

The bill passed the Senate, 94-1, with one Republican in opposition. The bill passed the House, 364-62. All 217 Democrats voted in favor of it, as did 147 Republicans. Sixty-two Republicans voted against it. Three members (one Democrat and two Republicans) did not vote.


The University of California says it will no longer consider SAT and ACT scores in any way during admissions decisions. Last year, the Compton Unified School District sued the university system, arguing that the standardized tests were biased against poor students who were disproportionately Black and Hispanic.


China landed a rover on Mars, making it the third country (after the U.S. and the Soviet Union) to land a craft on the red planet. Here’s one of the first photos:


A chunk of ice the size of Los Angeles has broken off from Antarctica, becoming the world’s largest free-floating iceberg.


Paleontologists in Utah believe they’ve found evidence that T. Rexes hunted in packs, like modern-day lions. Until now, most scientists believed the T. Rex was a solitary hunter. The findings, which remain in dispute, show that a group of T. Rexes of varying ages appeared to be living together, suggesting pack hunting.


The Brood X cicadas are out in force on the East Coast. Adding to the cicada madness is a fungus that infects less than 10 percent of cicadas, causing them to shake their bodies rapidly to promote the spread of the fungus that’s attached itself to the insect. From a researcher interviewed by The Washington Post:

“That’s what people can immediately recognize as, ‘This is a zombie, this is no longer a normal cicada, something strange is happening here.’”


Wrapping up this week’s insect news, yesterday was World Bee Day, designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of pollination. Meanwhile, in France, a bee shortage has apparently caused a spike in bee theft, in which competing beekeepers steal each others hives. From NPR:

“Last year, 400 hives were stolen. But already in 2021, that number is more than 600, says Frank Alétru, president of the French national beekeeping union.”


Until next time, enjoy your Hiatus, and don’t forget to check out the California Sun newsletter.