BBC

The Latest: Netanyahu Exit Nears, Canada Wants Pope Apology, Going Back To Venus

The MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship, which has been burning for two weeks off the coast of Sri Lanka, has started to sink, heightening fears of an oil and chemical spill
The MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship, which has been burning for two weeks off the coast of Sri Lanka, has started to sink, heightening fears of an oil and chemical spill

Welcome to Thursday, where Netanyahu's 12-year tenure as Israel's Prime Minister appears to be coming to an end, Canada calls on Pope Francis to apologize and NASA is finally going back to Venus. Le Monde also takes us to Belarus where the shocking arrest of a dissident journalist brings new attention to the still ongoing repression of activists by authorities.

• Israeli opposition reach deal to oust PM Netanyahu: Opponents of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finalized an 11th-hour coalition government. Centrist party leader Yair Lapid and right-wing settler movement leader Naftali Bennett — with the support of Islamist party leader Mansour Abbas — plan to split the Prime Minister's Office, each taking a two-year term. The agreement is expected to be approved by parliament in the next week, likely bringing an end to Netanyahu's 12-year reign.

• Twitter vs. Nigerian president: Twitter has deleted a tweet by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that vowed punishment for rebels as a response to recent attacks on government buildings. The social media company claims the tweets violated their abusive behavior policy.

• FBI accuses Russian linked hackers to attack on meat plants: JBS meat plants have begun reopening after a severe cyber attack halted production at multiple locations. The FBI blamed Russian based criminal group, REevil, and President Joe Biden stated that he will discuss cyber attacks with President Vladimir Putin during their upcoming meeting in two weeks.

• Canada seeks Church apology: After the discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 215 indigenous children, the Canadian government is calling on Pope Francis to apologize for the role the Catholic Church played in the residential schools system. For most of the 20th century, the church operated a large portion of the country's residential schools, during which many indigenous children were subject to physical and verbal abuse.

• EU court says Germany "persistently" violated air pollution rules: The European Union's top court said Germany may be subject to fines and penalties if it does not improve air quality in several large cities. The court found that Germany breached nitrogen oxide (NO2) limits from 2010-2016.

• NASA sets sights on Venus: Some 30 years after last visiting the planet sometimes referred to as "Earth's twin," NASA has announced two new missions to Venus. Expected to launch between 2028-2030, one mission will focus on analyzing our neighbor's "hellish" atmosphere, while the other one will map its surface.

• Elephant herd escapes, bulldozes 300 mile path: A herd of 15 elephants wreaked havoc after escaping a nature reserve in China, destroying 56 hectares of farmland and causing more than a million dollars' worth of damage, during a 311-mile journey through the southwestern province of Yunnan.


Israeli daily Haaretz reports that opposition parties have coalesced to form a new government — an agreement which, if approved by the Knesset, would spell the end of Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year tenure.

Ujgur Mártírok útja

Budapest's Mayor, Gergely Karácsony, will protest the planned construction of a top Chinese university in city's capital by renaming nearby streets to shed light on the China's controversial foreign and domestic policies. The project was unilaterally decided by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, against the wishes of Karácsony. The four new street signs include "Uyghur Martyrs' Road," "Free Hong Kong Road," "Dalai Lama Road" and "Bishop Xie Shiguang Road."

Maria Kolesnikova: a final stand of the Belarusian resistance

The shocking, mid-flight capture of a dissident journalist brings new attention to the repression taking place in Belarus, where another prominent political prisoner, Maria Kolesnikova, has been locked up for months, reports Thomas d'Istria in French daily Le Monde.

Known for her prominent role in the wave of protests against President Lukashenko's recent and controversial re-election, Maria Kolesnikova is now facing up to 12 years of prison on charges such as "conspiracy to seize power by unconstitutional means' and "creating and managing an extremist group." Kolesnikova, a top-tier musician turned social activist, is now one of the nearly 400 political prisoners recognized by the Belarusian human rights organization Viasna. She is currently being held in a pre-trial detention center, sharing a 10-square-meter cell with a fellow prisoner.

In Belarus, her rebellious personality continues to inspire the masses. Many Belorusian people feel encouraged by her patriotic decision to stay behind, and, for a while, people continued to celebrate her on social media. Buildings throughout the Belarusian capital were decorated with graffiti and murals in her honor. Maxim Shumilin, a photographic artist and friend of Kolesnikova since 2017, describes her as a woman who is "very empathetic...a musician, not a politician."

But since then, everything has changed, a reality brought into even further focus by the mid-air seizure, on May 23, of Roman Protasevich. While dreams of democracy in Belarus are still alive, systematic repression no longer allows protesters to mobilize. Anyone who shares social media posts critical of the regime or flies opposition flags in their living rooms is at risk of being arrested. Viasna reported at least 304 arrests in April alone.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com



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The possibility of these Games going on is 100%.

— Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told BBC Sport that he is confident that the Olympics will start on July 23rd as planned, despite Japan's current struggle with a fourth coronavirus wave and its maintenance of state of emergency protocol in 10 areas of the country.

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Society

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.


The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.

Hollandse-Hoogte/ZUMA

Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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