Monday Sunrise Briefing: Is Suez Canal megaship a trend too far?

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, March 29, 2021, sunrise briefing.

Here are two news events from this past weekend (while you may have been spreading mulch, taking a yoga class, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
The stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, stuck crosswise in the Suez Canal, Egypt, on March 27, 2021.

An unusually high tide Monday helped partially free the giant cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal. For the first time in five days, the stern was loose. But the bow remained lodged as of press time. “Don’t cheer too soon,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given.

Stuck since Tuesday, the container ship has become a parable of the risks of megaships. The big vessels - this one holds 20,000 containers - promise to move more stuff with less fuel and crew. But the infrastructure - docks, canals, ports, etc. - haven’t kept pace with these behemoths built to facilitate global trade. “Half the world’s ports can’t even deal with ships this size,” Rory Hopcraft, a researcher at Plymouth University, told the Guardian.

The owner of the vessel said if re-floating efforts fail, it would attempt to lighten the load by removing containers. But getting big enough cranes into position could take days or weeks. About 10% of world trade flows through the Suez Canal. As of early Monday, some 365 ships are nearby, waiting for the canal to reopen.

 2. A freedom celebration. In a turnaround from last year, Israeli Jews are celebrating Passover together, rather than on Zoom. Israel has vaccinated over half its population, and as COVID-19 cases have plummeted, authorities have allowed restaurants, hotels, museums, and theaters to re-open. Up to 20 people can now gather indoors.

Passover commemorates the biblical Israelites' liberation from slavery in Egypt after a series of plagues. The week-long holiday began Saturday night with the Seder meal, when the Exodus story is retold. It's a Thanksgiving-like atmosphere with family, friends, and feasting. “For us in Israel, really celebrating the festivity of freedom definitely has a whole different meaning this year after what we experienced,” Giordana Grego told the Associated Press.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Signs of Spring. Boating in Chidorigafuchi Park in Tokyo, Japan, next to cherry tree blossoms on March 27, 2021.

Look Ahead

MONDAY, March 29

Justice watch. Opening statements are expected in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. A jury of six men and nine women has been selected in the case. Mr. Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.

Fair working conditions. Voting ends today as nearly 6,000 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, decide on whether they want to form a union, the biggest union push in the online shopping giant’s history.

TUESDAY, March 30

Universal justice. International Criminal Court judges are scheduled to deliver a verdict in the appeal of the 2019 conviction of Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda for his role in atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Honoring courage. A funeral service is scheduled for Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley who was among 10 people killed on March 22 when a gunman opened fire inside a Colorado supermarket.


Rebuilding plan. President Joe Biden is expected to travel to Pittsburgh and give initial details of a $3 trillion plan to improve U.S. roads, bridges and water systems. 

Amateurs redefined. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in an NCAA  case over student-athlete compensation. A California federal court found that the NCAA could not limit compensation to education-related expenses. The case could redefine amateurism in college sports. 


New beginnings Major League Baseball starts a new season as the league returns to a full, 162-game schedule. All 30 MLB teams are scheduled to play today. All teams plan limited in-person attendance. 

FRIDAY, April 2

Beauty blossoms. The National Park Service estimates peak bloom between April 2-5 for the more than 3,000 Japanese cherry trees  along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

SUNDAY, April 4 

Easter Sunday. The Christian holiday commemorates the resurrection of Christ Jesus, symbolizing hope and victory over death.

Integrity Watch

Courtesy of Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma
Andrea Lessing, who works at a Goodwill store in Norman, Oklahoma, found $42,000 in cash wrapped in two donated sweaters. Her integrity was rewarded.

What would you do if you found $42,000 in cash? 

One definition of integrity is doing the right thing when nobody's watching. Andrea Lessing has only been working at the Goodwill store in Norman, Oklahoma, for 1.5 months. But earlier this month she was sorting through some donated clothes, and found stacks of crisp $100 bills wrapped in two sweaters

She turned the bundles of cash in to Goodwill officials and they found the donor and returned all the money. “Goodwill could have kept the money, but integrity is doing the right thing and it's a core value we strive to live out every day," Jim Priest, the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma, told Fox News.

The sweaters-stuffed-with-cash donor, who asked to remain anonymous, in turn thanked Ms. Lessing by giving her a $1,000 reward. "I thought I blessed him, but [the donor] turned right around and blessed me,” she told Fox News. “He restored my faith that there are really good people out there even through this pandemic. We don’t know their situation so it’s better to just be kind."

Hidden Gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

How an unlikely folk dancer found grace

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about celebrating the power of child's play in public spaces.

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. Myanmar protesters bridge religious divides to counter military rule
  2. How Colorado residents grapple with legacy of mass shootings
  3. Delays at Census spell trouble for redistricting – and the 2022 election
  4. First step: Threaten to ban Twitter. Next: A separate Russian internet?
  5. Cacao without deforestation? Land reform in Brazil bears fruit.

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