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Netanyahu On His Way To Fourth Term

NETANYAHU WINS
Exit polls had them neck-and-neck yesterday evening but in the end, Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party secured a solid victory ahead of the centrist Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog. Likud came in with an expected 30 Knesset seats ahead of 24 for the Zionist Union. With pre-voting polls suggesting a defeat of the incumbent Prime Minister, Netanyahu’s sharp shift to the right in the final days of the campaign, which included him abandoning a commitment to negotiate a two-state solution with the Palestinians and promising to expand Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, tilted the balance in his favor.

  • In his victory speech, Netanyahu said he would seek to form “a strong, stable government that will know how to uphold security and socioeconomic well-being,” the campaign’s two main issues. According to The Jerusalem Post, talks have already been initiated with nationalist and ultra-orthodox parties to renew their governing coalition and a new government could be formed within two or three weeks.
  • Palestinians were critical of the election’s result, with senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Yasser Abed Rabbo telling AFP that Israelis had chosen “the path of racism, occupation and settlement building” over negotiation and partnership
  • “The nation must be replaced. Not another election for the country's leadership, but general elections to choose a new Israeli people – immediately,” quipped Gideon Levy, a staunch critic of Netanyahu, writing in Haaretz newspaper .

ON THIS DAY
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Get ready for your 57-second shot of history, taking you today to Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, England, and the U.S.

SYRIA DOWNS U.S. DRONE
The Syrian military said it had shot down a U.S. drone flying over the coastal province of Latakia, an area controlled by government forces in northwestern Syria, Al Jazeera reports. The U.S. military admitted they had lost contact with an unmanned aircraft but did not confirm the device was shot down.

  • Top U.S. envoy John Allen insisted the U.S. still wants a political settlement in Syria that excludes President Bashar al-Assad, appearing to contradict Secretary of State John Kerry who was reported as saying over the weekend that they will eventually have to negotiate with Assad. Kerry’s comments had drawn intense criticism from Assad’s opponents in the Middle East and were later denied by the State Department.
  • A report from Human Rights Watch claims that Iraqi troops and Shia militia looted, burned homes and destroyed Sunni villages when it broke a months-long ISIS siege last year. This comes amid an offensive to liberate the town of Tikrit. “The forces need to focus their efforts on defeating ISIS, and to end their atrocities against civilians and those they take prisoner,” HRW warns.

$8 MILLION
The U.S. Secret Service would like an extra $8 million in its budget to build a “mock-up” White House to better train agents to protect the president. “Right now, we train on a parking lot, basically,” director Joseph Clancy said. This comes after several notable security breaches at the White House.

VIOLENT ANTI-AUSTERITY PROTESTS IN FRANKFURT
Photo above: LeRoy via Instagram
At least 350 people were arrested amid violent anti-austerity protests outside the European Central Bank’s new headquarters in Frankfurt ahead of the $1.4-billion building’s inauguration, with 88 policemen wounded in clashes, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. Police cars were torched, windows broken and stones thrown. According to Deutsche Welle, the protest’s organizers have accused the police of sparking the violence, saying they set up a "civil war type scenario" to provoke demonstrators.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Doan Bui in French weekly L’Obs tells the heart-wrenching story of Nicolas and Damien Delmer, the 35-year-old French twins born with the incurable disease of cystic fibrosis — and their fight for the right to die the way they want: “The brothers often talk about death. They think about it. They've always thought about it. They made a pact: The one who stands last helps the other leave, in peace.
Once, when they were teenagers, Nicolas had to go to the hospital in Paris. Damien still remembers the cold fear that engulfed him at the thought of losing his brother. Today, Nicolas is the one having trouble finding words to describe the unspeakable. Read the full article, Why These French Twins Are Fighting To Legalize Euthanasia.

SEVEN ARRESTED FOR SREBRENICA MURDERS
The Serbian police have arrested seven men suspected of having taken part in the slaughter of some 1,000 Muslims during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the first such arrests in the ex-Yugoslav country, Reuters reports. More than 8,000 Muslims, men and boys, are believed to have been killed over three days in what has since been described as Europe’s worst atrocities since World War II.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
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VERBATIM
“You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine.” For Tesla CEO Elon Musk, humans should be banned from driving cars when self-driving vehicles become the norm. But he warned that it could take 20 years before autonomous cars take over. Read more about the Tesla co-founder and find out what our Chinese partner Economic Observer thinks of Musk’s managerial skills.

BREASTFEEDING LEADS TO HIGHER IQ
A Brazilian study started in 1982, with results just now being published in the Lancet Global Health journal shows that breast-fed babies have gone on to score higher on IQ tests. Moreover, the longer the breastfeeding lasted, the better off they tended to be 30 years later.

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Geopolitics

One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

Leaders of Armenia, Russia, Tajikistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan attend a summit marking the 30th anniversary of signing the Collective Security Treaty in Moscow on May 16.

Oleksandr Demchenko

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

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Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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