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Iran Hardliner Wins, Austrian Lessons, Old Brew


European leaders are wiping sweat from their collective brow. Once the final votes were counted late yesterday, Austria's ecologically-minded independent Alexander Van der Bellen had edged far-right Freedom party candidate Norbert Hofer in the country's presidential election. Had he won, Hofer would have been the first far-right European head of state since the end of Nazism. "Relief at seeing the Austrians reject populism and extremism. Each of us needs to learn lessons from that in Europe," tweeted French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Austrian dailyKronen Zeitung quoted the president-elect as striking a conciliatory note, saying that "together we will work to reveal Austria's beauty."

Though in Austria the president's role is largely ceremonial, the closeness of the vote is just one more symptom of a worrying rise in Western public opinion of nationalistic, anti-immigrant populism. "Established parties everywhere face electorates impatient for solutions to problems, like the refugee crisis and unemployment, whose scale is unprecedented in modern times," wrote British daily The Guardian in an editorial following the results in Vienna. From France's Front National to Denmark's People's Party to Greece's Golden Dawn, and right up to the words coming out of Trump Tower, the message is the same: reinforce the borders, save the homeland...and don't be shy anymore about saying it loud and clear. For Europe, in particular, the next election day to gauge the effects of this sentiment is slated for June 23: the UK referendum on whether to remain in the European Union. Polls show that this race, like the one in Austria, may come down to the final vote.


  • American comic legend Bill Cosby arrives in court to face sexual assault allegations.
  • Euro zone's finance ministers expected to OK 10 million euros in new loans to Greece.


Greek authorities this morning began forcing thousands of immigrants, many of them war refugees, from a makeshift camp on the country's northern border with Macedonia. Read more from BBC.


A close ally of acting Brazilian President Michael Temer was forced to resign after an audio recording appeared to reveal his attempts to block a corruption investigation, Folha de Sao Paulo reports.


After being convicted by a U.S. court, Kazakhstan-born computer engineer Alexandra Elbakyan is now an international copyright outlaw. Her Sci-Hub website offers free access to millions of academic publications, a direct challenge to the entire publishing and academic establishment. "I want to collect the entire range of scientific and educational literature and make it accessible to the whole world. Just like Google Books, but maybe in a more ambitious way," she has said. It is a deceptively unrealistic goal, for Elbakyan's adventure is part of a widespread global movement within the scientific community: "Open Access" promotes free access to the entire range of scientific literature and is starting to take off in some disciplines… Read the full Le Monde article: This Kazakh Hacker Wants To Destroy The Academic Publishing Establishment


Known for his rigid views, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, an 89-year-old cleric, was chosen today as the speaker of Iran's Assembly of Experts, a key body responsible for electing the country's supreme leader, among other tasks.


President Barack Obama won cheers from his hosts in Vietnam with a (China) reference to bigger nations that "bully" smaller ones. Still, Vietnamese authorities reportedly barred local activists from a planned meeting with Obama. Meanwhile the commander-in-chief grabbed a $6 noodle meal in Hanoi with celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.


Queen Victoria, the Brooklyn Bridge and more in your daily 57-second shot of history for May 24.


The social media giant continues to deny claims that it filtered out conservative articles from its feed, but has nonetheless announced that it will change its mechanisms to "minimize the risk of bias from individual human judgment," in response to a Senate inquiry into alleged censorship.



Archeologists in central China say they've unearthed the oldest known brewery on record, dating back some 5,000 years, with evidence of ancient jugs and a local strain of barley. No sign thus far of any sofa or remote control.

— Crunched by Cynthia Martens

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

What Are Iran's Real Intentions? Watch What The Houthis Do Next

Three commercial ships traveling through the Red Sea were attacked by missiles launched by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels, while the U.S. Navy shot down three drones. Tensions that are linked to the ongoing war in Gaza conflict and that may serve as an indication as to Iran's wider intentions.

photo of Raisi of iran speaking in parliament

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the Iranian parliament in Tehran.

Icana News Agency via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — It’s a parallel war that has so far claimed fewer victims and attracted less public attention than the one in Gaza. Yet it increasingly poses a serious threat of escalating at any time.

This conflict playing out in the international waters of the Red Sea, a strategic maritime route, features the U.S. Navy pitted against Yemen's Houthi rebels. But the stakes go beyond the Yemeni militants — with the latter being supported by Iran, which has a hand in virtually every hotspot in the region.

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Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the Houthis have been making headlines, despite Yemen’s distance from the Gaza front. Starting with missiles launched directed toward southern Israel, which were intercepted by U.S. forces. Then came attacks on ships belonging, or suspected of belonging, to Israeli interests.

On Sunday, no fewer than three commercial ships were targeted by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea. The missiles caused minor damage and no casualties. Meanwhile, three drones were intercepted and destroyed by the U.S. Navy, currently deployed in full force in the region.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for these attacks, stating their intention to block Israeli ships' passage for as long as there was war in Gaza. The ships targeted on Sunday were registered in Panama, but at least one of them was Israeli. In the days before, several other ships were attacked and an Israeli cargo ship carrying cars was seized, and is still being held in the Yemeni port of Hodeida.

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