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Lapid to become new prime minister as Israel heads to election

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem May 15, 2022. Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

By Ari Rabinovitch

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli lawmakers will vote to dissolve parliament, opening the way for the country’s fifth election in three years, following weeks of pressure on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s fragile ruling coalition.

Bennett will step aside to be replaced by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, his partner in the unlikely coalition of opposites that ended former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s record 12-year rule 12 months ago.

Lapid, a former journalist who heads the largest party in the coalition, will serve as interim prime minister until new elections can be held.

A vote will be held in parliament next week, after which Lapid will take over the premiership, an official said.

“I think the government did very good work over the past year. It’s a shame the country has to be dragged into elections,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz, head of a centrist party in the coalition.

“But we will continue to function as a temporary government as much as possible,” he said.

The move comes just weeks ahead of a planned visit by U.S. President Joe Biden which the government had been counting on to help boost regional security ties against Israel’s longtime enemy Iran.

The future of the eight-party coalition, which includes hard right, liberal and Arab parties, had appeared increasingly threatened as a handful of members walked out, leaving it without a clear majority in parliament.

As pressure on the government increased in recent days, Bennett, a former special forces commando and tech millionaire who entered national politics in 2013, said his government had boosted economic growth, cut unemployment and eliminated the deficit for the first time in 14 years.

But he was unable to hold the coalition together and decided to step aside before Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party could table a motion of its own to dissolve parliament.

Netanyahu, who has vowed a comeback despite facing trial for corruption, had mocked Bennett, a former close aide, saying last week that his government had been holding “one of the longest funerals in history”.

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U.S. Supreme Court abortion ruling ignites new legal battles over state bans

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2/2

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Abortion rights campaigners participate in nationwide demonstrations following the leaked Supreme Court opinion suggesting the possibility of overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision, at Duncan Plaza in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.

2/2

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) -Battles over abortion shifted to state courts on Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure nationwide, as a judge blocked a statewide ban in Louisiana and clinics sued to obtain similar relief in Kentucky and Idaho.

The three are among the 13 states with “trigger laws” designed to ban or severely restrict abortions once the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized a right to the procedure, as it was on Friday.

In Louisiana, abortion services that had been halted since Friday began resuming after Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarrusso on Monday issued a temporary restraining order https://tmsnrt.rs/3OEBEbG blocking the state from carrying out its ban.

The order came shortly after Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport – one of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics – sued, arguing Louisiana’s trigger laws “lack constitutionally required safeguards to prevent arbitrary enforcement.”

The judge set a July 8 hearing to decide whether to further block enforcement of the ban, which Hope Medical said violated its due process rights under the state’s constitution.

In Kentucky, two abortion clinics including a Planned Parenthood affiliate filed a state court challenge https://tmsnrt.rs/3bxnue9 to an outright abortion ban enacted in 2019 and a separate six-week ban passed that same year.

The lawsuit argued the bans violate patients’ rights to privacy and self-determination under the state’s constitution.

In Idaho, a Planned Parenthood affiliate asked the state’s highest court to block enforcement of a “trigger” law banning abortion that the Republican-controlled state legislature passed in 2020 that would take effect Aug. 19.

Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry in a statement said his office was “fully prepared to defend these laws in our state courts, just as we have in our federal courts.”

His Republican counterparts in Kentucky and Idaho, Daniel Cameron and Lawrence Wasden, did not respond to requests for comment.

The cases are among several challenging Republican-backed abortion laws under state constitutions after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

A Utah branch of Planned Parenthood on Saturday sued over that state’s trigger ban, and abortion rights advocates plan to challenge an Ohio ban on abortions after six weeks that took effect on Friday.

In Florida, a group of abortion providers went before a state court judge to argue a challenge to that state’s new Republican-backed ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which they say violates Florida’s constitution.

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At least 13 killed in Russian missile strike on shopping mall, Ukraine says

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2/2

© Reuters. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a working session of G7 leaders via video link, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 27, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

2/2

By Simon Lewis

KREMENCHUK, Ukraine (Reuters) -Two Russian missiles slammed into a crowded shopping centre in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Monday, killing at least 13 people and wounding 50, the regional governor said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said more than 1,000 people were in the shopping centre at the time of the attack, which witnesses said caused a huge fire and sent dark smoke billowing into the sky.

A Reuters reporter saw the charred husk of a shopping complex with a caved-in roof. Firefighters and soldiers were pulling out mangled pieces of metal as they searched for survivors.

“It is impossible to even imagine the number of victims … It’s useless to hope for decency and humanity from Russia,” Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Dmytro Lunin, governor of the central Poltava region, wrote on Telegram that 13 people had now been confirmed killed by the strike, adding that it was too soon to talk of a final death toll as rescuers continued to trawl through the rubble.

Lunin also wrote on Telegram that 21 people had been hospitalised, and 29 others had been given first aid without hospitalization.

“It’s an act of terrorism against civilians,” he said separately, suggesting there was no military target nearby that Russia could have been aiming at.

At one point, paramedics rushed into the building after rescuers called out “200” meaning they had found one or more bodies in the building. Reporters were later pushed away from the scene as air raid sirens wailed again.

UKRAINE WANTS MORE WEAPONS

As night began to fall, rescuers brought lights and generators to continue the search. Worried family members, some close to tears and with hands over their mouths, lined up at a hotel across the street from the mall where rescue workers had set up a base.

Kiril Zhebolovsky, 24, was looking for his friend, Ruslan, 22, who worked at an electronics store and hadn’t been heard from since the blast. “We sent him messages, called, but nothing,” he said. He left his name and phone number with the rescue workers in case his friend is found.

A mall worker who gave his name as Roman, 28, told Reuters that the mall’s management had only three days ago allowed shops to remain open during air raid sirens.

Kremenchuk, an industrial city of 217,000 before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, lies on the Dnipro River in the region of Poltava and is the site of Ukraine’s biggest oil refinery.

Ukraine’s air force command said the mall was hit by two long-range X-22 missiles fired from Tu-22M3 bombers that flew from Shaykovka airfield in Russia’s Kaluga region.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, wrote on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), without citing evidence, that the attack was a “Ukrainian provocation.”

“Exactly what Kiev regime needs to keep focus of attention on Ukraine before (the) NATO Summit,” he said, referring to the alliance’s Madrid gathering due to begin on Tuesday.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that the upcoming summit will agree a new assistance package for Ukraine in areas “like secure communications, anti-drone systems, and fuel.”

“We need more weapons to protect our people, we need missile defences,” Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s office, wrote on Twitter after the attack.

Vadym Denysenko, an interior ministry adviser, said Russia could have had three motives for the attack.

“The first, undoubtedly, is to sow panic, the second is to… destroy our infrastructure, and the third is to… raise the stakes to get the civilised West to sit down again at the table for talks,” he said.

Russia, which has captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk after a weeks-long assault, has stepped up missile strikes across Ukraine in recent days.

Missiles hit an apartment block and landed close to a kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, killing one person and wounding several more people.

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U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, ends constitutional right to abortion

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9/9

© Reuters. Demonstrators gather in front of Planned Parenthood after the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. June 24,

2/9

By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion, a decision condemned by President Joe Biden that will dramatically change life for millions of women in America and exacerbate growing tensions in a deeply polarized country.

The court, in a 6-3 ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The vote was 5-4 to overturn Roe, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts writing separately to say he would have upheld the Mississippi law without taking the additional step of erasing the Roe precedent altogether.

The reverberations of the ruling will be felt far beyond the court’s high-security confines – potentially reshaping the battlefield in November’s elections to determine whether Biden’s fellow Democrats retain control of Congress and signaling a new openness by the justices to change other long-recognized rights.

The decision will also intensify debate over the legitimacy of the court, once an unassailable cornerstone of the American democratic system but increasingly under scrutiny for its more aggressively conservative decisions on a range of issues.

The ruling restored the ability of states to ban abortion. Twenty-six states are either certain or considered likely to ban abortion. Mississippi is among 13 states with so-called trigger laws to ban abortion with Roe overturned. (For related graphic click https://tmsnrt.rs/3Njv3Cw)

In a concurring opinion that raised concerns the justices might roll back other rights, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to reconsider past rulings protecting the right to contraception, legalizing gay marriage nationwide, and invalidating state laws banning gay sex.

The justices, in the ruling written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, held that the Roe decision that allowed abortions performed before a fetus would be viable outside the womb – which occurs between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy – was wrongly decided because the U.S. Constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.

Women with unwanted pregnancies in large swathes of America now may face the choice of traveling to another state where the procedure remains legal and available, buying abortion pills online, or having a potentially dangerous illegal abortion.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in a concurring opinion, appeared to nix an idea advocated by some anti-abortion advocates that the next step is for the court to declare that the Constitution outlaws abortion. “The Constitution neither outlaws abortion nor legalizes abortion,” Kavanaugh wrote.

Kavanaugh also said that the ruling does not let states bar residents from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion, or retroactively punish people for prior abortions.

‘SAD DAY’

Biden condemned the ruling as taking an “extreme and dangerous path.”

“It’s a sad day for the court and for the country,” Biden said at the White House. “The court has done what it has never done before: expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans.”

Empowering states to ban abortion makes the United States an outlier among developed nations on protecting reproductive rights, the Democratic president added.

Biden urged Congress to pass a law protecting abortion rights, an unlikely proposition given its partisan divisions. Biden said his administration will protect women’s access to medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration including pills for contraception and medication abortion, while also combating efforts to restrict women from traveling to other states to obtain abortions.

Britain, France and some other nations called the ruling a step backward, although the Vatican praised it, saying it challenged the world to reflect on life issues.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the decision was “a loss for women everywhere”. “Watching the removal of a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions over their own body is incredibly upsetting,” she said in a statement.

U.S. companies including Walt Disney Co, AT&T (N:T) and Facebook (NASDAQ:META) parent Meta Platforms Inc said they will cover employees’ expenses if they now have to travel for abortion services.

‘DAMAGING CONSEQUENCES’

A draft version of Alito’s ruling indicating the court was ready to overturn Roe was leaked in May, igniting a political firestorm. Friday’s ruling largely tracked this leaked draft.

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito wrote in the ruling.

Roe v. Wade recognized that the right to personal privacy under the Constitution protects a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy. The Supreme Court in a 1992 ruling called Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey reaffirmed abortion rights and prohibited laws imposing an “undue burden” on abortion access. Friday’s ruling overturned the Casey decision as well.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division,” Alito added.

The court’s three liberal justices – Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – issued a jointly authored dissent.

“Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens,” they wrote.

As a result of Friday’s ruling, “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs,” the liberal justices added.

The ruling empowered states to ban abortion just a day after the court’s conservative majority issued another decision limiting the ability of states to enact gun restrictions.

The abortion and gun rulings illustrated the polarization in America on a range of issues, also including race and voting rights.

Overturning Roe was long a goal of Christian conservatives and many Republican officeholders, including former President Donald Trump, who as a candidate in 2016 promised to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would reverse Roe. During his term he named three to the bench, all of whom joined the majority in the ruling.

Asked in a Fox News interview whether he deserved some credit for the ruling, Trump said: “God made the decision.”

Crowds gathered outside the courthouse, surrounded by a tall security fence. Anti-abortion activists erupted in cheers after the ruling, while some abortion rights supporters were in tears.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Emma Craig, 36, of Pro Life San Francisco. “Abortion is the biggest tragedy of our generation and in 50 years we’ll look back at the 50 years we’ve been under Roe v. Wade with shame.”

Hours later, protesters angered by the decision still gathered outside the court, as did crowds in cities from coast to coast including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle.

House of Representatives Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, denounced the decision, saying that a “Republican-controlled Supreme Court” has achieved that party’s “dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions.”

The number of U.S. abortions increased by 8% during the three years ending in 2020, reversing a 30-year trend of declining numbers, according to data https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2022/06/long-term-decline-us-abortions-reverses-showing-rising-need-abortion-supreme-court released on June 15 by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

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