Cartoonist slammed for 'racist' Serena Williams cartoon hits back at 'rolling thunder' of public backlash

Australian cartoonist Mark Knight has defended his depiction of Serena Williams after some compared it with historical racist imagery of African American people.

Mr Knight's cartoon was published in the Herald Sun yesterday, showing her throwing a tantrum, including a spat out dummy on the ground next to a destroyed racket.

Cartoonist Mark Knight's depiction of Serena Williams' US Open meltdown
Cartoonist Mark Knight's depiction of Serena Williams' US Open meltdown Source: Herald Sun

This was in relation to Williams unleashing a furious outburst towards match officials on Sunday during her loss to Naomi Osaka, delaying play for several minutes, culminating in her calling chair umpire Carlos Ramos "a thief".

Some online said they considered Mr Knight's depiction of Williams to be racist, drawing parallels between it and antique depictions of black people in the 'Jim Crow' era.

Author J.K. Rowling was among those critical of the piece, saying Mr Knight had reduced Ms Williams to a "racist and sexist trope".

Mr Knight today responded to the widespread criticism, saying he had simply drawn Ms Williams as he saw her.

"I drew her as an African-American woman ... She's powerfully built, she wears these outrageous costumes when she plays tennis - she's interesting to draw," Mr Knight said.

"I drew her as she is, as an African-American woman.

"I saw the world number one tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy.

"That's what the cartoon was about, her poor behaviour on the court."

Mr Knight said he had "absolutely no knowledge" of 'Jim Crow' era artwork, and said social media had fuelled the outrage.

"I find on social media that stuff gets shared around, and it's like a sort of rolling thunder ... it's like a hurricane - it develops intensity way beyond its initial meaning," he said.

"I think racial tensions in America are, of course, more heightened than here in Australia - and Americans may look at it in a different light.

"No racial historical significance should be read into it."


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At least 21 reported killed in crash between bus and tanker in Iran

Iranian media are reporting that at least 21 people died in a road accident when a bus overturned following a collision with a tanker on a road in central Iran.

Today's report by the semi-official Tasnim news agency says the accident happened today on the road linking the cities of Kashan and Natanz, about some 250 kilometres southeast of the capital, Tehran.

It says 20 people were also injured in the crash and were taken to local hospitals.

Amateur video broadcast on Iranian media shows a burning bus, with flames rising into the nighttime sky.

With some 17,000 motorists killed annually, Iran has one of the world's worst traffic safety records, attributed to disregard for traffic laws, unsafe vehicles and inadequate emergency services.

Iran map (file picture).
Iran map (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Tornado spawned by Hurricane Florence hits town in Virginia, smashing building and killing one

One person was killed after the remnants of Hurricane Florence spawned an apparent tornado that touched down in the Richmond area in Virginia today and caused a building to collapse, authorities said.

A Chesterfield Fire/EMS spokesman said the victim was a man who worked at Old Dominion Flooring. 

The spokesman said when fire crews arrived the store's manager told them that all of the store's employees were accounted for, except for one man.

The spokesman said emergency personnel were working to recover the unidentified man's body. 

A second person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Dominion Energy reported 6,000 customers were without power due to the storm.

A spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said his agency considers the storms part of the remains of Florence, which left flooding rains across much of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina over the weekend.

One person was killed in the tornado that touched down in Richmond. Source: Associated Press

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Needle found in Sydney apple amid strawberry contamination crisis - report

A mother has reportedly found a needle inside an apple she bought from a Woolworths supermarket in Sydney's northwest.

The Seven Network today reported the needle was found in a six-pack of Pink Lady apples purchased from a supermarket at The Ponds.

The Kellyville Ridge mother reportedly found the needle when peeling an apple for her daughters this morning.

"I just thought wow this can't possibly be happening," she told the Seven Network.

"Not in apples. I'd seen the news about the strawberries and I'd been vigilant about cutting those up for the girls but to see this in an apple ..."

A Woolworths spokesman told AAP "we're aware of the customer report and understand police are investigating".

"The details have been referred to the authorities leading the response to this matter and we'll consult with them on next steps," he said in a statement.

New South Wales Police say they are investigating and have called a press conference to discuss the matter.

Needles have been found in strawberries across Australia with New Zealand announcing this week it would pull the Australian-grown fruit from its supermarket shelves.

A health warning to throw out or cut up strawberries remains in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cripps Pink apples just in from harvest at an apple orchard
Apples (file picture). Source: istock.com


Russian military aircraft with 14 on board inadvertently shot down by Syrian artillery -report

Syrian government anti-aircraft artillery inadvertently shot down a Russian military patrol aircraft with a number of personnel on board after the Syrians came under attack by Israeli missiles, according to a US official, quoted by CNN.

The broadcaster said the US official with knowledge of the incident said the regime was actually trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles.

A second official had confirmed Israel was responsible for the missile strikes on the Syrian regime.

CNN said the Russian state news agency TASS reported that a Russian IL-20 military aircraft with 14 personnel on board disappeared over the Mediterranean on Monday. 

According to TASS, the ministry of defence specified that "the mark of IL-20 went off the radars disappeared during the attack of four Israeli F-16 aircraft on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia".

The Israelis had fired multiple missiles against targets in the coastal area of Latakia where Russia has based much of its military presence, including aircraft. 

In an attempt to strike back against the Israelis, the Syrians launched extensive anti-aircraft fire, the official said and the Russian aircraft was hit.

An Israel Defence Forces spokesman declined to comment on the reports.

CNN recounted that in February, the two-man crew of an Israeli F-16 ejected from their aircraft when a missile exploded near them, damaging their aircraft as they finished conducting a mission against Syrian forces.

An Israeli defence official told CNN earlier this month that Israel has struck Syria 200 times in the past 18 months to prevent the deployment of Iranian weapons in the region.

It's the heaviest bombing of Syria's rebel-held province in weeks and is only expected to worsen.
File picture Source: BBC