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Thursday, Jul 20th

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Netanyahu's cabinet seeks to downgrade status of Arabic

Netanyahu seeks to downplay Arabic languageIsraeli ministers have approved a controversial bill that will downgrade Arabic as an official language and define the country as the "national home of the Jewish people".

The Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday that if the bill were to become law, Arabic would no longer be an official language and would instead be defined as having special status.

In the bill, Hebrew is defined as the "national language", which would become part of the country's so-called basic law, which is similar to a constitution, it said. The legislation still has to go through further drafting by the justice ministry and pass several votes in parliament.

TVNL Comment: Israeli Arabs make up 20% of the population.  Arabic has always been an official language....until now.  Democracy?  Yeah, right.

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Macron wins French presidency by decisive margin over Le Pen

Macron winsThe pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidency with a decisive victory over the far-right Marine Le Pen that his supporters hailed as holding back the tide of populism.

Macron, 39, a former economy minister who ran as a “neither left nor right” independent promising to shake up the French political system, took 65.1% to Le Pen’s 34.9%, according to initial projections from early counts.

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North Korea seizes another American citizen as crisis heats up

North Korea arrests another AmericanNorth Korea announced Sunday it detained another American over the weekend, raising to four the number of U.S. citizens being held by the communist nation's authoritarian regime.

Kim Hak-song had worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the same school where American Tony Kim had worked prior to being arrested at Pyongyang International Airport two weeks ago, North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency said Sunday.

Few details on Kim Hak-song or his arrest were immediately available. KCNA said he was detained Saturday on suspicion of committing “hostile acts."

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82 freed Chibok schoolgirls arrive in Nigeria's capital

 82 Chibok girls returnedFive Boko Haram commanders have been released in exchange for the freedom of 82 Chibok schoolgirls, says a Nigerian government official.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to reporters on the matter. The confirmation of the prisoner swap Sunday comes a day after the young women were liberated after more than three years in captivity by the Islamic militants.

There was no immediate comment about the exchange from the Nigerian presidency or Boko Haram, the extremists linked to the Islamic State group. President Muhammadu Buhari said Saturday that some Boko Haram prisoners had been released for the freedom of the schoolgirls, but he did not give any details.

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French candidate Macron claims massive hack as emails leaked

Macron hackedLeading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign said on Friday it had been the target of a "massive" computer hack that dumped its campaign emails online 1-1/2 days before voters choose between the centrist and his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen.

Macron, who is seen as the frontrunner in an election billed as the most important in France in decades, extended his lead over Le Pen in polls on Friday.

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Russia: U.S. prohibited from flying over Syrian 'de-escalation zones'

Russia: US not allowed ove rsafe zoneRussia said aircraft in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State will be prohibited from operating above the planned "de-escalation zones" in Syria.

Alexander Lavrentyev, the head of Russia's delegation in peace talks and Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for Syria, said the issue of whether aircraft can operate in the safe zones is "off the table."

"The case is that in the de-escalation zones, the work of aviation, especially the coalition forces, is absolutely not envisaged, with or without notification," Lavrentyev said.

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North Korea accuses CIA of plot to murder Kim Jong-un

North Korea accuses CIA of plot to murder Kim Jong-unNorth Korea has accused the US and South Korean spy agencies of an unsuccessful assassination attempt against leader Kim Jong-un involving biochemical weapons.

In a statement carried on state media, North Korea's ministry of state security on Friday said that a "hideous" group sanctioned by the CIA and South Korean Intelligence Service (IS) had infiltrated North Korea "on the basis of covert and meticulous preparations to commit state-sponsored terrorism against the supreme leadership".

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