Monday Sunrise Briefing: Leadership questions in India and Israel

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, May 3, 2021, sunrise briefing.

Here are three news events - accountability in Israel and India, progress on Iran nuke talks - from this past weekend (while you may have been kite surfing, visiting relatives, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A supporter in Kolkata, India, celebrates the election results for the chief minister of West Bengal state and the Chief of Trinamool Congress (TMC) Mamata Banerjee, on May 2, 2021.

Two distinct tragedies - in Israel and in India  - are raising leadership and accountability questions.

In India, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party failed to make gains in four recent state elections, according to preliminary results released Sunday. The results suggest his Hindu nationalist party's political strength may be slipping as the country struggles to contain an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases. Some have blamed the surge on large campaign rallies and lax public health rules at religious gatherings.

In Israel, after the deaths of 45 ultra-Orthodox Jews in a stampede at a religious festival Friday, critics say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become too politically captive to ultra-Orthodox political parties. Public health and safety guidelines were ignored, according to Israeli media, when Mr. Netanyahu assured ultra-Orthodox leaders that the religious festival - drawing some 100,000 people - could take place. The prime minister has relied on ultra-Orthodox parties as allies, and this week is expected to be decisive for his efforts to form a coalition government.

2. No breakthrough, but progress. Diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia, and Britain on Saturday announced progress on bringing the United States back into their landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator said on Saturday that Tehran expects U.S. sanctions on oil, banks, and most individuals and institutions to be lifted based on agreements so far in Vienna talks, Iranian media reported. But U.S. and European officials were less effusive, playing down any breakthrough. “We have yet to come to an understanding on the most critical points. Success is by no means guaranteed, but not impossible,” a senior Western European official told the Associated Press. Officials say they hope to reach a deal by May 21, when an agreement between Tehran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog is due to expire.

Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP
Mission complete. Support teams work around the SpaceX Resilience spacecraft shortly after splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and Victor Glover, and Japan space agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi Sunday, May 2, 2021.

Look Ahead


In memorial. The Israeli Knesset is expected to hold a memorial session for victims of a stampede during an annual ultra-Orthodox Jewish celebration at Mount Meron in northern Israel.

Fairness on trial. In a major court case scheduled to begin today, Apple is being sued by Epic Games, maker of the “Fortnite” video game, for allegedly using its App Store to curb competition.

Transgender rights. The 9th Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments over Idaho’s ban on transgender women and girls competing in women’s sports. 

Racial justice watch. A funeral is held for Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot by North Carolina deputies, with a eulogy by the Rev. Al Sharpton.


Solar energy and equity. U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm is scheduled to host 'A Force for Change: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Solar Industry' webinar, with industry guests to discuss “strategies to expand solar energy access to all Americans." 

Free speech for judges? A federal appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a U.S. Justice Department policy that restricts immigration judges from speaking publicly about immigration law or policy. 


Celebrating innovation? Live from New York, it's ... Elon Musk? The eccentric CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is scheduled to host “Saturday Night Live.” 

Bridge to history. The traditional Victory Day parade is scheduled to be held in Moscow to celebrate victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. 

Generosity Watch

When Amber Grubbs got her $1,400 federal stimulus check, she decided to spread a little Easter joy.

Ms. Grubbs used the money to fill 250 Easter baskets for foster kids and those attending Head Start and Kid Central preschool in Culpeper, Virginia. “I have been a single parent for five years. I had to do it all on my own,” Ms. Grubbs, a case worker at the Culpeper County Department of Social Services told the Culpeper Star-Exponent. “I know how it is to not have a job and to be stressed out during the holidays.”

She'z experienced periods of homelessness in a former marriage and says she’s a domestic-violence survivor. Her own two children, aged 2 and 5, helped her create the baskets filled with a variety of treats and toys.

And Ms. Grubbs is not alone. As the Monitor reported, many have used their stimulus checks as an opportunity for giving.

Hidden Gem

Michael Gunn Photography/Courtesy of Jia Johnson
Jia Johnson directs the Solidarity Building Initiative at Chicago's McCormick Theological Seminary. SBI offers a liberative higher education program at an Illinois county jail.

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

Today’s Underground Railroad: From jail to freedom with education

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about what's motivating Moscow officials to make the city greener and more livable.

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

  1. Saudi-Iran detente: What rivals’ dialogue could mean for Middle East
  2. Global populism: Big promises, poor pandemic results
  3. World’s bankers take climate pledge. Will they follow through?
  4. Policing has changed over the last year. Here’s how.

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