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Tuesday, Oct 22nd

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Israel's Netanyahu gives up effort to form new government

Netanyau gives up attempt to form governmentBenjamin Netanyahu gave up his effort to form a new government on Monday after failing to secure a majority coalition, creating an opportunity for centrist rival Benny Gantz to replace Israel’s longest serving prime minister.

Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, said he had been unable to form a government following an election in September, and was returning the mandate back to Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin. Rivlin said he intends to task Gantz with the job of putting together a new government.

“In the past weeks I made every effort to bring Benny Gantz to the negotiating table, every effort to establish a broad national government, every effort to avoid another election,” said Netanyahu, who turned 70 on Monday.

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Rampaging mobs stage an arson spree in Hong Kong

Hong Kong protestsHong Kong protesters went on a rampage on Sunday hurling petrol bombs and setting ablaze multiple stores along Kowloon’s main thoroughfare, as police fired tear gas and water cannons which sprayed the entrance of the city’s biggest mosque with blue dye, fueling tensions in the area.

The arson attacks began from around 3 p.m. and lasted for more than eight hours as they set off fires inside mainland-linked businesses and police and metro stations, before gutting a Xiaomi shop and Chinese medicine store Tong Ren Tang in Mong Kok.

As the city marked the 20th weekend of violent protests, demonstrators kicked off an illegal march in Tsim Sha Tsui peacefully but the initial calm dissipated in less than two hours as marauding protesters began blocking roads and throwing bricks and petrol bombs.

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Mosque Bombing In Afghanistan Kills 62 Worshipers

Mosque bombing in AfghanistanAn explosion rocked a mosque in eastern Afghanistan as dozens of people gathered for Friday prayers, causing the roof to collapse and killing 62 worshippers, provincial officials said. The attack underscored the record-high number of civilians dying in the country’s 18-year war.

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar Province, said the militant attack wounded 36 others. He said it was not immediately clear if the mosque was attacked by a suicide bomber or by some other type of bombing.

“Both men and children are among those killed and wounded in the attack,” he said.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, strongly condemned the attack on his official Twitter account. “The Afghan government strongly condemns today’s suicide attack in a mosque in Nangarhar province,” he tweeted.

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Huge rallies in Barcelona over jailing of Catalan separatists

Huge rallies in Barcelona

More than half a million people have participated in a series of mass rallies in Barcelona called in protest at the jailing of nine pro-Catalan independence leaders over their roles in the failed push for secession two years ago.

Earlier, workers in Catalonia downed tools, shops were closed and activists blocked roads in a general strike, while tens of thousands of people who marched from across the region began converging in Barcelona.

Their presence brought the city to a standstill before a huge demonstration began at 5pm local time. The entrance to the Catalan capital’s most famous landmark – the Sagrada Familia church – was blocked by pro-independence protesters and 57 flights were cancelled at Barcelona-El Prat airport. Barcelona police said about 525,000 people were taking part in the demonstrations.

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Pence announces Turkey has agreed to temporary ceasefire in Syria

Pence announces temporary cease fire in Syria

Vice President Mike Pence announced from Ankara on Thursday that Turkey has agreed to cease its military operation in northern Syria for 120 hours so that Kurdish forces can withdraw from the area.

The big picture: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said that he would "never" agree to a ceasefire, after the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria paved the way for Turkey to begin a military assault on U.S-allied Kurdish forces that they view as terrorists. The breakthrough came after five hours of negotiations between Pence and Erdogan and followed the authorization of sanctions against Turkish officials earlier this week by President Trump.

TVNL Comment: Have the Kurds agree to withdraw from their own territory?  Just asking...

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Settlement Talks for Bank Followed Pressure on Trump by Turkey’s Leader

Trump tried to avoid Turkish bank trial

After repeated appeals to President Trump by Turkey’s president to avoid charges against a state-owned Turkish bank, Attorney General William P. Barr oversaw an effort earlier this year to negotiate a settlement with the bank, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The settlement push abruptly ended on Tuesday when prosecutors in New York filed bank fraud and money laundering charges against the institution, Halkbank, a move that came as Mr. Trump sought to escalate pressure on Turkey to stop its military operations in northern Syria.

But the criminal charges were filed only after more than a year of interventions by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and other senior officials of his government, as well as lawyers and lobbyists working in New York and Washington on Turkey’s behalf, to try to avoid a criminal prosecution of the bank.

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American Prosecutor Rachelle Bergeron Shot Dead With Her Dog in Micronesia

Rachelle Bergeron shot and killed in Micronesia

Friends said Tuesday that lawyer Rachelle Bergeron planned to soon return to the U.S. after a challenging stint prosecuting criminals on the Pacific nation of Micronesia, but she was shot and killed as she returned home from a run with her dog.

Bergeron's husband was inside the couple's house Monday night baking brownies with a local child the couple was helping care for when somebody fired three shots at Bergeron as she pulled up and opened the back of her Subaru hatchback, killing both her and her dog, said one friend, Amos Collins.

The killing has shocked the tiny island of Yap, home to 11,000 people, where Bergeron served as acting attorney general of Yap State. Authorities say they're investigating the crime but haven't yet arrested any suspects.

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