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In photos: Thousands evacuated in Australia as flood threat worsens amid relentless heavy rains

Some 18,000 people have been evacuated and authorities say they plan to evacuate thousands more, as heavy rains and flooding continued to pummel parts of Australia's east coast.

The big picture: Rain has relentlessly fallen on much of New South Wales, including state capital Sydney, and southeast Queensland since last Thursday, triggering flash flooding in many regions. A natural disaster has been declared in 16 areas. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament Monday, "Rains are expected for at least the next 24 and 48 hours."

Many areas across #NSW currently resemble an inland sea. Once the rain stops & the water begins to reside, there will be a massive combined effort to clean up. However until that happens, listen to warnings, follow the @NSWSES advice, look out for family, friends & neighbours.

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) March 22, 2021
The Windsor Bridge is submerged under rising floodwaters of Sydney's Hawkesbury River March 22. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters, "I don't know any time in state history where we have had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic." Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
A worker beside a main road inundated by floodwaters in the Richmond suburb of Sydney on March 22. Emergency services have conducted at least 500 rescues. Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images
The overflowing banks of Sydney's Parramatta River on March 22. Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images
Heavy flooding in McGraths Hill, Sydney, on March 22. Photo: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images
Flooded farmland between near Lennox Head, NSW, near the state border with Queensland, on March 22. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images
Surfers take to the water during heavy rains in Byron Bay, NSW, near the Queensland border, on March 21. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

⚠️ A Severe Weather Warning is current for large parts of the NSW coast and adjacent inland for heavy rain. Please visit...

Posted by NSW SES on Sunday, March 21, 2021

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

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UN: 10,000 Palestinians flee homes in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Seven people, including one child, have been killed in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

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Bernie Sanders: The U.S. must recognize that "Palestinian rights matter"

The United States must encourage an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East and adopt an "evenhanded approach" that recognizes Palestinians and Israelis have a right to "live in peace and security," Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote in a New York Times opinion on Friday.

Driving the news: Violence escalated this week after Israelis intensified efforts to evict Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem. Hamas fired rockets and Israel massed troops, leaving more than 125 Palestinians and seven people in Israel dead.

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Uber launches new anti-racism efforts, hires new inclusive design lead

Eager to show progress on the pledge to make its platform and business anti-racist, Uber on Friday announced new anti-racism driver and rider campaigns, as well as fresh internal hiring practices, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Uber is one of the biggest ride hailing companies in the world. Its decisions impact the millions that use the platform, where drivers and riders alike say they have experienced racism.

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Ex-Gaetz associate admits to sex trafficking, agrees to cooperate with federal prosecutors

Joel Greenberg, a former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and admitted to a variety of federal charges including sex trafficking a minor, New York Times reported Friday citing court papers.

Why it matters: Investigators believe Greenberg introduced women to Gaetz for paid sex and are looking into the Florida congressman's alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Greenberg could be a key witness as federal prosecutors decide whether to charge Gaetz.

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White House: User fees for infrastructure deal would "violate" Biden's tax pledge

The White House on Friday said that Republicans' idea to impose user fees for infrastructure spending would "violate" President Biden's promise not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually.

What they're saying: "The president's pledge and his commitment, his line in the sand, his red line, whatever you want to call it, is that he will not raise taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "User fees that have been proposed out there would violate that."

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City of Columbus, Andre Hill's family agree to $10M settlement over the fatal police shooting

Columbus, Ohio, on Friday reached a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by police as he walked out of a garage while holding a cellphone.

What they're saying: "We understand that because of this former officer's actions, the Hill family will never be whole," City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement. "No amount of money will ever bring Andre Hill back to his family, but we believe this is an important and necessary step in the right direction."

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"Mass Effect": Gaming's biggest space opera returns

The iconic spacefaring adventure "Mass Effect" is back today with "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition," a single, remastered version of all three games.

Why it matters: There is no series like "Mass Effect" — even when it comes to BioWare's other choice-driven RPGs like "Dragon Age." "Mass Effect" is a big ol' space adventure first and foremost, but it’s also about loyalty, love, and tough calls.

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