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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech at BusinessEurope conference in Brussels, Belgium March 5, 2020.

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

Hard Numbers: Von der Leyen seeks reelection, Israel GDP plummets, Ukrainian troops captured, Something’s smelly in Cape Town, Moïse’s widow indicted

5: Ursula Von der Leyen has announced she will seek a second term as president of the EU Commission. Over her first five-year term, she has seen the EU through a pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a rise in irregular migration, and record-breaking inflation. The election will take place in June, and so far, there are no serious challengers to her reelection.
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Noa Kirel from Israel performs during the grand final of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, Britain, May 13, 2023.

REUTERS/Phil Noble

Could Israel be disqualified from Eurovision 2024?

The search is underway for representatives from each of the 37 countries participating in the 2024 Eurovision song contest. The competition’s slogan might be United by Music, but as always, politics are never far from the stage.

This year, the controversy concerns Israel. Calls are growing for the country to be kicked out over its assault on the Gaza Strip, which has drawn accusations of war crimes and genocide. Many are citing as a precedent the 2022 expulsion of Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Israel’s entry: 20 year oldEden Golan was selected after performing Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” to a hall of empty chairs, meant as a tribute to the Gaza hostages. Israel has been in Eurovision since the 1970s and has won four times — most recently in 2018.

Could Israel be expelled? Entries can be fined or disqualified for bringing politics onto the stage. But Israel’s expulsion is unlikely at this point. The final say rests with Eurovision officials, and so far they’re singing an evasive tune, saying, “Comparisons between wars and conflicts are complex and difficult and, as a nonpolitical media organization, not ours to make.”

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu

Biden finally invites Bibi, sort of

After months of White House snubs over the policies of his ultra-right-wing government, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu finally got an invitation to the US this week.
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Wade Brennan from Sarasota County Mosquito Management Services shows a mosquito that is capable of harboring malaria

Hard Numbers: Malaria makes moves in the US, Kramatorsk death toll, Britons go hungry, Brazil notches 19th century growth number, Israel’s politics crimp tech funding

20: The CDC has detected the first locally transmitted cases of malaria in the US in 20 years. Four of the cases were in Florida, the fifth in Texas. Aren’t those genetically modified mosquitos supposed to be preventing this? THEY HAD ONE JOB!

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu attends Arnon Milchan's video testimony


Latest twists and turns in Bibi’s trial

In one of the more damning moments of Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial, Arnon Milchan, a billionaire Hollywood mogul, took to the stand (virtually) on Monday to say his piece.

A longtime friend of the PM, Milchan testified for the prosecution and said that during Bibi’s previous tenure (2007-2016) he sometimes gave gifts to the PM and his wife – most commonly cigars and champagne – in exchange for business and tax favors.

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Israeli PM Naftali Bennett speaks next to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the Knesset in Jerusalem.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

What We're Watching: Bennett throws in the towel in Israel, Petro wins in Colombia, Macron loses majority in France

Israel faces fifth election in three years

Israelis are headed to the polls, again, for the fifth time in just over three years. After almost two months of being on the brink of collapse following a number of high-profile defections that made it lose its parliamentary majority, the fragile eight-party coalition government led by PM Naftali Bennett is set to disband. In the coming days, Bennett and his main coalition partner, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, intend to dissolve the Knesset (parliament) and call a fresh election in October or November. Lapid will serve as caretaker PM once Bennett steps down, but Bennett will retain the Iran portfolio as part of the power-sharing agreement. Former PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, who now heads the opposition, celebrated the demise of an unwieldy government whose members could pretty much only agree that they didn't want him as prime minister. Bibi, for his part, is (surprise!) gunning for a return to power despite being on trial for corruption. Will his rightwing Likud Party win enough seats and allies to cobble together a majority to form a government, or will Israel's political deadlock continue with no end in sight?

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Models of oil barrels seen in front of a "stop" sign and the EU and Russia flag colors.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Hard Numbers: EU bans (most) Russian oil, Israel-UAE trade deal, crowdfunded drone for Ukraine, Pokemon zero-COVID protest

2/3: After weeks of tense negotiations, EU leaders agreed late Monday to an embargo on two-thirds of the oil the bloc now imports from Russia. But there's a catch: holdout Hungary will likely get an indefinite exemption in order to drop its veto.

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Malaysia ups palm oil exports, al-Shabab strikes in Somalia, split verdict on marital rape in India, journalist killed in West Bank

Hard Numbers: Malaysia ups palm oil exports, al-Shabab strikes in Somalia, split verdict on marital rape in India, journalist killed in West Bank

162: Indian women’s rights groups are reeling after a New Delhi court failed to deliver a verdict in a case that could have overturned a 162-year-old law permitting marital rape. The Indian Penal Code says sex "by a man with his own wife" does not constitute rape. The case will likely be appealed before the Supreme Court.

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