Wednesday, May 27th

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Bibi's Nightmare: Unruly Coalition Might Fall — or Worse, Survive

Netanyahu colation Right now, after finishing seven weeks of infuriating, hairpin coalition negotiations, Benjamin Netanyahu must be wondering what would be a worse fate for the impossibly shaky and extremist government he’s assembled: that it collapses the moment some disgruntled back-bencher decides to walk out — or that it survives and leads Israel into as-yet unimagined recesses of international isolation, delegitimization and conflict.

With a bare 61-seat majority out of the Knesset’s 120 total seats, the new government is fragile enough to be toppled by a strong breeze. Even if it were an alliance of happy, compatible partners pulling together, it would take only a single defection or even a bad flu to dissolve its majority and bring it down.


Netanyahu, caving to right wing, strikes deal forming new government

Natanyahu forms coalitionNetanyahu effectively caved in to all of Bayit Yehudi's demands, including naming MK Ayelet Shaked as justice minister, with almost all of the powers and authorities that the Likud had initially tried to curtail.

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett will be made education minister, after giving up his previous demands for the Foreign or Defense Ministries. In addition, outgoing Construction Minister Uri Ariel will serve as agriculture minister in the new government.


Alberta election: NDP's surprise win over conservatives

Leftist party wins Alberta electionA left-leaning party has won a surprise victory in Alberta, one of Canada's most conservative provinces.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) ended the Progressive Conservatives' (PC) 44-year rule of the province.

Political observers were stunned by the result, with one commentator saying: "Pigs do fly".


'Dozens die' as migrant boat deflates in Mediterranean

Migrant boat sinksDozens of migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean after a boat carrying an estimated 137 people deflates south of Sicily, Save the Children says.

The aid group says survivors reported up to 40 people fell into the sea as a rescue vessel was approaching.  Those rescued arrived in the Sicilian port city of Catania on Tuesday.

At least 1,829 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.


Afghanistan's Poppy Farmers Say New Seeds Will Boost Opium Output

poppy fieldsIt's the cash crop of the Taliban and the scourge of Afghanistan — the country's intractable opium cultivation. This year, many Afghan poppy farmers are expecting a windfall as they get ready to harvest opium from a new variety of poppy seeds said to boost yield of the resin that produces heroin.

The plants grow bigger, faster, use less water than seeds they've used before, and give up to double the amount of opium, they say.


Pregnant 10-year-old rape victim denied abortion by Paraguayan authorities

10 year old rape victim denied abortionThe girl is 10 years old, 22 weeks pregnant with the child of the stepfather who raped and impregnated her even after he was reported to social services. And she's the subject of a fierce debate among adults over the moral, legal, physical, and psychological implications of whether she should carry the child to term or be allowed an abortion.

The girl lives in Paraguay, reports the Guardian, which bans abortion except in the case of a threat to the mother's health, and the government has thus far denied the girl's mother's request to grant an abortion. "Right now, there is no reason to interrupt the pregnancy," says a public health rep, adding that "given the stage of the pregnancy, it's even more dangerous for the girl" to abort.


Former Japanese journalist says 'comfort women' apology needed

Takashi UemuraA former Japanese journalist who received death threats for his investigation of "comfort women" said Tokyo should apologize for Japan's wartime past.

Takashi Uemura, who first reported on the women in 1991, said he has faced allegations of fabricating the truth from right-wing critics. Speaking at New York University on Monday, Uemura said press freedom has waned in Japan when it comes to the sensitive issue of Japan's wartime past.


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