UK GIVES CAMERON FIVE MORE YEARS
What all British pollsters foresaw as the tightest election in decades turned out to be a night of triumph for incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party and a stinging defeat for the Labour opposition. The BBC projections of 329 Conservative seats in the new House of Commons give Cameron a slender majority, just enough to govern without needing a coalition partner.
Labour’s historic defeat is likely to claim the scalp of Cameron foe Ed Miliband. The party leader is expected to announce his resignation sometime today. Observers are blaming him for his lack of charisma and a poor campaign that also failed to secure the seat of his shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls. “The responsibility for the result is mine alone,” Miliband wrote on Twitter.
In the wake of the Liberal Democrats' overwhelming defeat, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg resigned as party leader today. He said the results had been immeasurably more crushing and unkind than he expected. "For that I must take responsibility and resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats.”
The results also proved to be a resounding triumph for the left-leaning and pro-independence Scottish National Party, which won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster, partially explaining Labour’s poor performance.
Nigel Farage, leader of the anti-EU UK Independence Party, has failed to win a seat. Despite more than 3.8 million votes for UKIP, third place in terms of vote share, the party will have just one parliament member in the House of Commons.
Check out our roundup of coverage about the UK election.
XI JINPING IN MOSCOW
Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Moscow for a three-day visit during which he will attend Russia's military parade marking the 70th anniversary of World War II’s Allied victory over Nazi Germany. Xi will hold key talks with several Russian leaders, including his counterpart Vladimir Putin, as the two countries seek to expand their strategic cooperation, The International Business Times reports. The two leaders are expected to sign more than 40 agreements on issues ranging from security to the economy and energy, with Moscoweager to attract Chinese investment in Russian companies.
AMBASSADORS KILLED IN PAKISTAN CRASH
The Norwegian and Philippine ambassadors to Pakistan are among the six people killed after the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in northern Pakistan, Dawn reports. The wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors, as well as the helicopter’s two pilots, were also killed in the accident that left the Polish and Dutch ambassadors wounded. Though the Taliban claimed responsibility for the crashand said they were targeting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was traveling in a different helicopter, Army sources ruled out terrorism, telling Dawn the crash was caused by “a technical fault.”
ON THIS DAY
Can you guess which carbonated beverage recognized the world over first hit the shelves 129 years ago today? Find out in your 57-second shot of history.
ISIS “INSPIRED” BUT DIDN’T ORDER TEXAS ATTACK
Sunday’s attack at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas was “inspired by ISIS, not directed by ISIS,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said, calling this “an important distinction.” But he acknowledged how troubling it is that the young attackers were influenced by the terror group. Speaking to AP, organizer Pamela Geller said she didn’t regret holding the cartoon contest and suggested she might even have saved lives. The New York Times editorial board disagrees.
Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta has rejected a $45 billion takeover offer from its U.S. rival Monsanto, saying the figure is too low. The two companies are reportedly working with investment banks on a deal, so a new offer could be forthcoming. If a deal is reached, it would create an industry behemoth with combined sales of more than $31 billion, Reuters reports.
SENIOR AL-QAEDA FIGURE KILLED IN YEMEN
Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a senior official for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen last month, the terrorist group has said. He was among those who claimed responsibility for the January terror attacks in Paris. Read more from Al Jazeera.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
CHEMICAL ATTACK ALLEGED IN SYRIA
Dozens of people have been injured in the northeast Syrian province of Idilb after government forces launched a chemical attack, AP reports, citing claims from activists. Earlier this year, several reports noted that terrorist group ISIS also had stocks of chlorine weapons. The latest allegation comes amid AP revelations that Turkey and Saudi Arabia have established a new strategy to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom they view as their enemy, despite U.S. concerns about helping extremist groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. The news agency says this strategic alliance is behind recent rebel gains in northern Syria. Meanwhile, the U.S. hasbegun training “moderate Syrian rebels” in Jordan as part of its anti-ISIS plan.
When it comes to recognition of the past and the atrocities some countries have committed, each is a specific case, but Les Echos’ Dominique Moïsi distinguishes three models, or counter-models: Germany and Turkey, on opposite ends of the spectrum — and Japan in the middle. “This is especially true regarding repentance,” he writes. “On this issue, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Japan now seems to rank somewhere between Konrad Adenauer's Germany and Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey. Since Abe's emotional April 29 speech in Washington, where both chambers of Congress gathered for the first time ever to hear a Japanese leader, Japan inched ever so cautiously closer to Germany on the repentance scale. He finally expressed his condolences to the American people and recognized that the actions of his country had ‘brought suffering to the peoples in Asian countries.’ But he went no further, missing a critical opportunity to apologize to the Asian ‘comfort women’ who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II.”
Read the full article, Japan, Turkey And The Difficult Exercise Of Repentance.
“I’ll probably be crying all day, which makes it hard to work,” Jimmy Kimmel said in announcing that his May 20 show would actually be a rerun so as not to compete with David Letterman’s grand finale. “I have too much respect for Dave to do anything that would distract viewers from watching his final show.”
Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Syrian violence erupts: Army shelling on residential areas of the rebel-held region of northwestern Syria killed 13 people, with school children among the victims. The attack occurred shortly after a bombing killed at least 14 military personnel in Damascus. In central Syria, a blast inside an ammunition depot kills five soldiers.
• Renewed Ethiopia air raids on capital of embattled Tigray region: Ethiopian federal government forces have launched its second air strike this week on the capital of the northern Tigray. The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near-year-old conflict between the government forces and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed thousands and displaced over 2 million people.
• Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A leaked draft government report concludes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, forging documents and incitement to crime, following his handling of the country's COVID-19 pandemic. The report blames Bolsonaro's administration for more than half of Brazil's 600,000 coronavirus deaths.
• Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million to free a missionary group: A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a Christian aid group, including five children, demanded $1million ransom per person. Most of those being held are Americans; one is Canadian.
• Putin bows out of COP26 in Glasgow: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit. A setback for host Britain's hopes of getting support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.
• Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip over health concerns: The 95-year-old British monarch has cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland after she was advised by her doctors to rest for the next few days. Buckingham Palace assured the queen, who attended public events yesterday, was "in good spirits."• A new name for Facebook? According to a report by The Verge website, Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant is planning on changing the company's name next week, to reflect its focus on building the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
"Oil price rise causes earthquake," titles Portuguese daily Jornal I as surging demand coupled with supply shortage have driven oil prices to seven-year highs at more than $80 per barrel.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
For the first time women judges have been appointed to Egypt's State Council, one of the country's main judicial bodies. The council's chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, welcomed the 98 new judges in a celebratory event in Cairo. Since its inception in 1946, the State Council has been exclusively male and until now actively rejected female applicants.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
Spanish civil war town now a paranormal attraction
Ghosts from Spain's murderous 1930s civil war are said to roam the ruins of Belchite outside Zaragoza. Tourists are intrigued and can book a special visit to the town, reports Paco Rodríguez in Madrid-based daily La Razon.
🏚️ Between August 24 and September 6, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, more than 5,000 people died in 14 days of intense fighting in Belchite in north-eastern Spain, and the town was flattened. The fighting began on the outskirts and ended in house-to-house fighting. Almost half the town's 3,100 residents died in the struggle. The war annihilated centuries of village history. The town was never rebuilt, though a Pueblo Nuevo (or new town) was built by the old one.
😱 Belchite became an open-air museum of the horror of the civil war of 1936-39, which left 300,000 dead and wounds that have yet to heal or, for some today, mustn't. For many locals, the battle of Belchite has yet to end, judging by reports of paranormal incidents. Some insist they have heard the screams of falling soldiers, while others say the Count of Belchite wanders the streets, unable to find a resting place after his corpse was exhumed.
🎟️ Ordinary visitors have encountered unusual situations. Currently, you can only visit Belchite at set times every day, with prior booking. More daring visitors can also visit at 10 p.m. on weekends. Your ticket does not include a guaranteed paranormal experience, but many visitors insist strange things have happened to them. These include sudden changes of temperature or the strange feeling of being observed from a street corner or a window. Furthermore, such phenomena increase as evening falls, as if night brought the devastated town to life.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
We still cling to the past because back then we had security, which is the main thing that's missing in Libya today.
— Fethi al-Ahmar, an engineer living in the Libyan desert town Bani Walid, told AFP, as the country today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The leader who had reigned for 42 years over Libya was toppled in a revolt inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and later killed by rebels. Some hope the presidential elections set in December can help the country turn the page on a decade of chaos and instability.
🇮🇷🎓 IN OTHER NEWS
Iran to offer Master's and PhD in morality enforcement
Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.
Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.
The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.
Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.
Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."
Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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