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Netanyahu Wins Re-Election as Israeli Prime Minister

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  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected Prime Minister of Israel after his opponent, Benny Gantz, conceded Wednesday.
  • Netanyahu and Gantz both received 35 seats, but Netanyahu will still win because the smaller parties that are expected to back him and build a coalition would give him more than 61 seats needed to form a majority government.
  • With Netanyahu’s victory essentially secured, he will likely try to pass a law giving him immunity from indictments against him, and try to annex the West Bank.

Netanyahu Victorious

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected, despite preliminary exit polls showing him in a dead heat with his opponent Benny Gantz.

With around 97 percent of polls reported, both Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White party have each received 35 out of a total 120 seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

Source: Google

Neither party has won an outright majority, which is common in Israeli elections. In order to become Prime Minister, the party leaders now have to build coalitions with the smaller parties in order to put together a majority of 61 seats.

In this case, a group of right-wing parties that are expected to back Netanyahu have already won a total of 65 seats, which means that if all of those parties coalition with Netanyahu as predicted, he will have a large majority over the center-left bloc.

Tuesday night, before all the polls were in, both men declared victory.

Gantz called the election a “historic vote” and urged Netanyahu to step down, saying, “Elections have losers and elections have winners. And we are the winners”

Netanyahu took to Twitter shortly after to say that the Likud had “won a definite victory.”

Source: Benjamin Netanyahu

Then on Wednesday, Gantz officially conceded the election. Although the polls still showed both parties tied with 35 seats, Gantz acknowledged that the Blue and White party did not have enough votes.

“At the moment, with the blocs, this is the reality,” said Gantz, “The war is not over.”

Now, Netanyahu will have 42 days to build a coalition of parties to get that 61-seat majority, and it seems likely that he’ll be able to do that pretty easily.

What Happens Next?

While Netanyahu is essentially guaranteed to be re-elected, there are still a few steps that have to be taken.

Regardless of how many seats Netanyahu ultimately gets, this election is still considered a major setback for both him and the Likud Party.

Now, the new Blue and White party is positioned to be the main opposition party to the right wing, a role that was previously held by the Labor party.

Already this election represents a huge shift in Israeli politics, and although Netanyahu will probably still be Prime Minister, he has come out of this election significantly weathered and with less support from the Israeli people.

Many Israelis have said this election was the dirtiest and most divisive race in the country’s history.

With Netanyahu poised to continue as Prime Minister, there are two main things to look out for moving forward.

Indictments

The first and most immediate issue will be the indictments against Netanyahu.

Back in February, Israel’s attorney general announced that he intended to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Intended here is the keyword because, in order for charges to actually be brought against Netanyahu, he has to have a hearing first.


Netanyahu requested that the hearing happen after the election because he was worried evidence could leak. The Justice Ministry agreed and said the hearing will take place no later than July 10.

These charges against Netanyahu come from three different cases. One of the cases alleges that he illegally accepted $264,000 worth of gifts from tycoons in exchange for lobbying, and the two others claim he traded favors to get positive news coverage from an Israeli newspaper and a website.

Netanyahu, of course, has denied the allegations, notably calling them “fake news.” Despite all of this, he is still incredibly popular in Israel, and the Likud party has dominated Israeli politics for the last decade.

However, following the announcement of the indictments, a newly formed opposition party called the Blue and White Party started to gain popularity in the polls.

Now that the election is over, the evidence from those cases, which Netanyahu requested to have kept under lock and key until after the election, will now to be given over to lawyers in the case.

This means that if some the evidence is leaked, Netanyahu could face reports that could hurt his reputation in the 42 days he has to assemble a majority government.

If he does succeed in building a majority, he is expected to try to pass a law that would give him immunity from being prosecuted while in office. Even if that law does not get passed and he is indicted, he does not legally have to step down.

With all that said, if he is indicted on criminal charges his coalition could fracture and he could lose his majority, which in turn could lead to a new Likud prime minister or even entirely new elections.

West Bank

The second thing to look out for concerns Netanyahu’s last-minute campaign promise to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

It is hard to overstate how massive this move would be.

If Israel annexes the West Bank, they would be asserting their control over land that most countries consider land legally owned by the Palestinians.

This move is largely considered to be illegal under international law, and would immediately destroy Israel’s relations with many countries. Those countries include Arab dictatorships that have been working with Israel against Iran, which would create a huge crisis for Israel in the Middle East.

Most significantly, the move would be catastrophic for the Palestinians. It would certainly represent the strongest rejection of a two-state solution by an Israeli prime minister in recent history, and Palestinian leaders have already called it a vote for oppression.

To make matters even more high-stakes, the future indictments and the annexation could be connected.

It is possible that Netanyahu could promise the far-right parties that want to annex the West Bank that the annexation will happen if they vote in favor of an immunity bill. If that happens, he would not only be protected from facing charges, he could also turn a temporary occupation of Palestinian land into a sovereign part of Israel permanently.

Right now, the stakes are incredibly high, and a lot is still up in the air. The international community will have to wait and see what another term of Netanyahu will bring.

See what others are saying: (Vox) (The New York Times) (Haaretz)

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Eight Killed in Brazil School Shooting

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  • Two gunmen opened fire at a school in Brazil, killing eight people , five of which were students.
  • The two attackers were former students of the school, but their motive is still unknown.
  • Despite high homicide rates, mass shootings are rare in Brazil, and the attack has ignited a debate about whether or not access to guns causes more violence.

Shooting at Raul Brasil

At least ten people are dead after two attackers opened fire at a school near São Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday.

Security camera footage showed two men wearing ski masks entering the Raul Brasil school in Suzano at 9:30 a.m. One of the men immediately started firing at students.

It has been confirmed that the attackers killed at least eight people before killing themselves.

Five of those killed were students, all of whom were around 15-years-old, according to police. Two of the other people that were killed were employees at the school.

Before entering the school, the attackers also shot and killed the owner of a rental car agency and stole a car. It was later discovered that the owner of the agency was the uncle of one of the attackers.

The number of people who were injured is unclear at this time. The New York Times and the Associated Press have reported that nine people were injured, while Voice of America and Vice reported over 23 injuries.

Police arrived at the school about eight minutes after the shooting started, but the men had already killed themselves.

According to police, the assailants brought a handgun, a crossbow, a hatchet, knives, and Molotov cocktails.

Motive Still Unknown

The motive behind the attack is still unknown.

Shortly after the shooting, it was revealed that the men were both former students at the school. They were 17 and 25 years old.

The 17-year-old was said to have been enrolled at Raul Brasil as recently as last year, but eventually dropped out.

Following the attack, his mother told a Brazilian newspaper that her son had been bullied at school, reportedly saying, “Bullying, they call it. … He stopped going to school … because of this.”

She also said she was surprised he was involved in the shooting and only found out about the attack from the televvision coverage.

Just minutes before the shooting, he posted 26 photos on his Facebook page, including several with a gun.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that police said the attack was inspired by the 1999 attack on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two students killed 13 people.

According to an investigator who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, the former students spent more than a year planning their attack which they “Hoped would draw more attention than the Columbine massacre.”

Response

The attack has prompted a broad response from a wide range of Brazilian politicians and political figures.

During a press conference at the school, the governor of São Paulo, João Doria, stated: “This is the saddest thing I have tended to in my whole life. I am very sad that an event such as this one happened in our country and here in São Paulo.”

Doria also reiterated his condolences for the victims and their families in a tweet, and stated that he “decreed official mourning for three days in the State of São Paulo.”

Translated via Twitter: @Jdoriajr

State Secretary of Education, Rossieli Soares, stated: “If only we could have identified the difficulties of these boys. This is a problem in our society.”

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro also offered his condolences to the families in a tweet, describing the shooting as, “A monstrosity and cowardice without size.”

Translated via Twitter: @JairBolsonaro

Gun Violence in Brazil

However, many people feel Bolsonaro’s statement is empty.

One of Bolsonaro’s main campaign promises was to crack down on criminals and violence, which he vowed to do in part by expanding public access to guns.

Sure enough, one of the first things he did after he was inaugurated in January was issue a decree that made it easier for Brazilian citizens to buy guns.

Wednesday’s shooting has started a debate among political leaders about gun control. Some people say arming teachers could have prevented the killings, while others have said easier access to guns will only lead to more deaths.

Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. According to a report from the Brazilian Forum of Public Saftey, Brazil saw over 63,800 violent deaths in 2017, which amounts to about 175 murders per day.

Brazil’s 2017 violent death rate marks the highest number of homicides in the country’s history.

Source: Public Safety Yearbook

Twenty percent of the deaths in 2017 were caused by the police, which comes out to about 14 police-related deaths per day.

Despite the country’s high homicide rates, mass shootings are rare in Brazil.

The last mass shooting was in 2011 when a 23-year-old man killed 12 teenagers at a school in Rio de Janeiro. That gunman was also a former student of the school in question.

Following yesterday’s shooting, pro-gun politicians were quick to defend looser regulations.

Flávio Bolsonaro, President Bolsonaro’s son, blamed the shooting on gun restriction rules introduced in 2003 that restrict the purchase and possession of guns in a tweet.

Translated via Twitter: @FlávioBolsonaro

Sen. Major Olímpio, who is a member of Bolsonaro’s party and a well-known supporter of loosening gun legislation, also reiterated his stance on gun control in a tweet criticizing the “disarmament policy farce.”

Translated via Twitter: @majorolimpio

However, research done by the Brazilian Government in 2014 shows that a 1 percent rise in gun accessibility increases the homicide rate by 2 percent.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Wednesday’s attack will affect gun policy in Brazil.

Editors Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murderers, or suspected mass murderers, to avoid giving these individuals the attention they may have wanted.

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International

The Insane True Stories of Non-Combat IS Members, US Policy, Prosecution & What Justice Looks Like…

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Today we looked into some of the most extraordinary stories of people who joined the Islamic State for what they call “nonviolent reasons.” While their stories are particularly unique, they help us understand questions of how the U.S. wages an undeclared war on the Islamic State, and how those who join the Islamic State are punished in the American justice system.

Thanks for watching!

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Corruption Scandal Shakes Canadian Prime Minister

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  • Candian PM Justin Trudeau has been accused of pressuring his justi minister to settle a corruption scandal involving the large Canadian corporation SNC-Lavalin.
  • SNC has been accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to the Lybian government, including to the regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
  • Two ministers and one of Trudeau’s top political advisors have resigned amid the allegations, which Trudeau has denied.

SNC-Lavalin

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become entangled in a corruption scandal that alleges his office attempted to settle a criminal case against SNC-Lavalin, a multinational engineering and construction firm based in Canada.

The criminal case against SNC claims the company paid millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Lybia in order to secure lucrative contracts, including millions in bribes paid to the regime of Lybian dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

SNC is a large company. While it is based in Quebec, it boasts more than 50,000 employees worldwide and $10.1 billion in revenue in 2018.

Source: SNC-Lavalin

However, SNC is not new to corruption allegations. The company has been accused of corrupt practices for years in multiple countries, including in Bangladesh, India, Mexico, and it’s home country of Canada.

Just last month, a former SNC CEO Pierre Duhaime pleaded guilty to 15 charges including fraud, conspiracy, and forgery in a Montreal court. The charges against Duhaime came only six years after he was first arrested and accused of bribing public officials.

Nine people were charged in the case involving Duhaime, and one Quebec police investigator called it “The biggest case of corruption fraud in Canadian history.”

Then, in Feb. 2015, Canadian authorities charged SNC with paying 47.7 million Canadian dollars in bribes to officials in Libya, as well as defrauding the Libyan government of 129.8 million Canadian dollars.

If SNC is convicted, it could be banned from federal government contracts for a decade. A move that could seriously hurt its business and eliminate numerous Canadian jobs.

Trudeau’s Involvement

Trudeau’s involvement in the SNC Lybia case started when he took office 2015. Following his inauguration, his justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was given oversight of the case regarding Lybia.

Wilson-Raybould identifies as Indigenous, and her appointment was applauded by many in Canada, who took it as a sign of Trudeau’s commitment to Indigenous people and women.

Then, in Jan. 2019, Trudeau reassigned Wilson-Raybould from to the Veterans Affairs Department– a major demotion.

On Feb. 7, The Globe and Mail published an investigative report that claimed Trudeau and his aides had attempted to direct Wilson-Raybould’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin case.

Wilson-Raybould resigned from her post on Feb. 12, less than a week after the Globe and Mail story was published.

Then, last month, she gave testimony to a parliamentary committee. In that testimony, she claimed that Trudeau and his aides had pressured her to settle the case against SNC by using “political interference” and “veiled threats.”

Wilson-Raybould said that she had 10 meetings, 10 phone calls, and a series of emails regarding the case with 11 government officials.

She also specified that the conversations were “inappropriate” but not illegal. Stating that despite the pressure, no one ever directly told her to order prosecutors to reach a settlement with SNC.

Wilson-Raybould did say she felt that Trudeau and his aides had crossed informal lines that are supposed to keep politics and prosecutions separate, claiming that they did this by repeatedly raising concerns about the possibility of job losses and potential political ramifications of a trial.

She asserted Trudeau specifically said, “There would be many jobs lost and that SNC will move from Montreal,” and asked her to “find a solution here for SNC.”

Wilson-Raybould alleges she resisted that pressure and believes she was removed from the position as a consequence.

Trudeau, for his part, has denied putting pressure on her. In a press conference after her testimony, he stated: “I and my staff always acted appropriately and professionally, therefore I completely disagree with the characterization of the former attorney general of these events.”

Sources: Global News

Resignations

Trudeau’s problems do not just stop with Wilson-Raybould.

On Monday, Treasury Board president Jane Philpott resigned from her post, writing in her resignation letter: “I have been considering the events that have shaken the government in recent weeks and after serious reflection, I have concluded that I must resign as a member of cabinet.”

She then goes on to cite a provision in Canada’s constitution that requires ministers to defend all of the cabinet’s decisions.

“Given this convention and the current circumstances, it is untenable for me to continue to serve as a Cabinet member,” she wrote.

Philpott added that she has, “ lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised,”

There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them,” she continued.

Philpott now marks the second resignation of a minister, and it also comes just weeks after Trudeau’s top political advisor, Gerald Butts, quit in late February.

Although Butts denied the allegations which he has also been implicated in, he still cited them as a reason for his resignation.

What Now?

The unresolved nature of this case has left many wondering what will happen next.

The leader of Canada’s Conservative opposition, Andrew Scheer, called for Trudeau to resign, stating, “Justin Trudeau simply cannot continue to govern this country now that Canadians know what he has done.”

Sheer has also called for the police to launch a criminal probe of Trudeau’s actions. A request which has been joined both other members of opposition parties, some of whom have also called for an independent inquiry.

The ethics commissioner of Canada’s Parliament has started an investigation into the matter. However, by law, the commissioner can look only for conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, there are still more hearings to come, including testimony from Gerald Butts, who is scheduled to testify about his role in the Lavalin matter before a parliament committee on Wednesday.

Trudeau for his part has continually denied the allegations. Following Philpotts resignation on Monday, Trudeau said he is taking the concerns seriously

Trudeau notably faces a federal election in October, which is just seven months away.

Even if nothing comes of the allegations against him, his opponents have already used this incident to portray him as a leader who directed aides to bully an Indigenous woman to protect a corporation from a criminal conviction in a corruption case.

A move that does not look good for someone who promised government transparency, and is a self-described feminist and supporter of Indigenous rights.

What happens next depends on if Trudeau can save his reputation, as well as what happens with the SNC case.

Many people believe that major job losses at the SNC headquarters in Quebec would hurt Trudeau in a province where votes will be crucial for him.

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (CBC) (NPR)

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