Netanyahu short of majority and other stories

Almost 90% of votes have been counted so far in Israel’s parliamentary election and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on course to win 59 seats of the available 120 seats, leaving his party 2 seats short of the threshold required to stay in power. 

Mr Netanyahu’s campaign focused on Israel’s world-leading Covid-19 vaccination programme however he has been accused of mishandling the pandemic by his opponents.

He is currently standing trial for fraud and accepting bribes which he has dismissed as a witch hunt.  

Currently the outcome of the election, which will determine the progression of Israel’s relations with the Palestinians, could be decided by the Arab party, Raam.

This election follows three inconclusive votes.

In response to the suggestion that another vote may yet be needed the Prime Minister has said: “We must not under any circumstances drag the state of Israel to new elections, we must form a stable government now.”  

The results of the election are expected to be announced later today. 

Myanmar military releases 600 coup protestors 

It has been confirmed by state-run TV in Myanmar that a total of 628 people imprisoned for protesting the 1 February coup that overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi have been released by the military.  

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Witnesses described the scenes outside Insein Prison in Yangon as “happy” as groups of people, most of them young, boarded busses and flashed the three-finger gesture embraced by the protest effort. 

A lawyer speaking anonymously has confirmed that 55 people remain imprisoned in connection with the protests and are likely to face up to three years in prison under Section 505(A) of the Penal Code. 

Meanwhile protestors have turned to a new approach labelled the silence strike and have called on people to close businesses for the day and stay home calling silence “the loudest scream” following further violence at the hands of security forces. 

Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) has confirmed that 275 people have been killed in the post-coup crackdown and local media in Mandalay reported a seven-year-old girl to be among the latest victims on Tuesday. 

Suez canal still blocked by cargo ship 

The MV Ever Given container ship that became grounded on Tuesday in Egypt’s Suez canal is still blocking marine traffic.

Photo: MV Ever Given container ship. Source: Suez Canal Authority

The crew are safe and none of the containers sunk however the reasons behind the accident are yet to be clarified unanimously.  

According to Evergreen Marine Corp, a Taiwan-based shipping company and operator of the Ever Given, the cargo has been turned sideways due to strong winds that hit the area which were also reported by Egyptian forecasters. 

But the global logistics company GAC has claimed that the Ever Given “was suffering a blackout while transiting in a northern direction”; something denied by the ship’s management company. 

A backhoe and several tugboats have been seen attempting to free the container ship.

Hong Kong stops use of Pfizer Covid Vaccine 

Hong Kong and Macau have both suspended use of the Pfizer Covid Vaccine following reports of one batch of vials having defective lids.  

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The news was reported to both cities by Fosun, the Chinese pharmaceutical company responsible for distributing the Pfizer/BioNTech covid vaccine in China.  

While both cities do not believe there is any risk to those who have had vaccines from the batch in question, authorities have decided to act with caution until the investigation is concluded.  

Over 150,000 Hongkongers have been vaccinated with their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

It’s unclear when more vaccines can be attained laving many people uncertain as to when their second jab will be. 

Virginia to abolish death penalty 

Virginia is set to become the first southern state to abolish the death penalty following the approval of a bill to end capital punishment by both the Senate and House of Delegates. 

Later today, Governor Ralph Northam will sign the groundbreaking legislation after visiting the death chamber at the Greensville Correction Centre of Jarratt.  

This decision marks a crucial change of direction and comes as the result of a long legislative battle fought by the new Democratic majority leading the American state. 

Since joining the union in 1788, Virginia has executed more people than any other state with a record of 1,400 deaths. 

Virginia will be the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty in the USA. 

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