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Opposition wins parliament seat

Mon., Aug. 6, 2007

Lebanon’s opposition captured one of two parliament seats up for election Sunday to replace assassinated ruling party lawmakers in a showdown between the U.S.-backed government and opponents supported by Syria and Iran.

The government coalition retained the second seat, according to official results.

Although the vote was for just two of the 128 seats in parliament, it could affect the political future of this deeply divided nation by influencing whom lawmakers elect as president later this year.

Lebanon’s government and the opposition – led by the Islamic militant Hezbollah – have been locked in a power struggle. The choice of a new president could tip the balance.

In the key vote, Amin Gemayel, a former president from 1982-88, faced Kamil Khoury, a political newcomer. Interior Minister Hassan Sabei, announcing the results before dawn today, declared Khoury the winner by a 418-vote edge.


Holocaust victims protest $20 offer

Holocaust survivors in Israel demanded Sunday that the Jewish state raise what they consider a laughable new offer of $20 monthly stipends.

At least 500 elderly survivors and their supporters rallied outside parliament, carrying placards and wearing stickers reading “The Holocaust is still here” and “Forgive us for surviving.”

Six decades after World War II and the Nazi killings of 6 million Jews, about 240,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel. Many have long complained that Israel does not do enough to support them, and that they lack money for basics.

Last week, the government announced $28 million in new stipends for 120,000 needy survivors. That works out to about $20 a month for each survivor.


Bush expands surveillance law

President Bush on Sunday signed into law an expansion of the government’s power to eavesdrop on foreign terrorism suspects without the need for warrants.

The law, approved by the Senate and the House just before Congress adjourned for its summer break, was deemed a priority by Bush and his chief intelligence officials.

The administration said the measure is needed to speed the National Security Agency’s ability to intercept phone calls, e-mails and other communications involving foreign nationals “reasonably believed to be outside the United States.”

Civil liberties groups and many Democrats say it goes too far, possibly enabling the government to wiretap U.S. residents communicating with overseas parties.


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