The moderate Labor Party has chosen young lawmakers to serve as ministers in a new government under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, another step toward forming an alliance that will solidly back a planned Gaza withdrawal. \nMembers of the 2,188-strong Labor Party central committee voted Thursday for their favorites from a list of candidates to fill seven Cabinet seats. The eighth minister will be Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Labor leader Shimon Peres, expected to serve as Sharon's second vice premier. \nIn the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and killed an armed Palestinian in the town of Tulkarem, the army said. A second Palestinian gunman was wounded in the incident, the army added. \nIn other elections Thursday, tens of thousands of Palestinians in 26 towns jammed polling places, casting ballots for council members in the first local elections in the West Bank since 1976. The race was seen as a dry run for a Jan. 9 election to replace Yasser Arafat as head of the Palestinian Authority. Arafat died in a French hospital on Nov. 11. \nThe local election pitted the ruling Fatah faction against the Islamic Hamas group, which has gained popularity in four years of fighting with Israel. But local issues and clan loyalties blunted the rivalry. \nSharon has headed a shaky minority government since the summer, when his hard-line coalition splintered over opposition to his plan to pullout of all Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements next year. \nLabor has long favored pulling out of much of the West Bank and all of Gaza in exchange for peace and is strongly in favor of Sharon's limited withdrawal.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including