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Four-hour general strike begins in Israel

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A general strike got under way in Israel on Monday, shutting down hospitals, banks and the country’s main international airport, but was to last only four hours, Israel’s army radio reported.

The decision to let the strike go ahead on a limited basis from 6:00 am (0400 GMT) was taken by the National Labour Court which debated the issue through the night following the collapse of talks between the powerful Histadrut trades union and the finance ministry.

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The strike, which will shut down government offices, the country’s ports, port offices and the Tel Aviv stock exchange for most of the morning, centres on the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of contract workers employed by the government.

Workers at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv were to join the strike from 8:00 am (0600 GMT), with dozens of flights brought forward to avoid the shut down, but people were to return to work at 10:00 am, and it was not clear when scheduling would return to normal, army radio said.

Hospitals would be staffed on a sabbath footing, as would public utilities, including the electricity board, and buses and trains would not be running across much of the country.

The Histadrut has accused the government of massively increasing its use of contract workers, who enjoy fewer rights and protections than civil service workers covered by collective bargaining agreements.

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“This open-ended strike is intended to protest the second class status of hundreds of thousands of Israelis working in the public sector and some private companies,” Histadrut spokesman Eyal Malma told AFP.

“The use of these workers, who do not benefit from the same social rights and are underpaid, has become a veritable epidemic to which we must put a stop,” he added.

Malma said use of contract workers, who can be fired without notice and lack many holiday and other entitlements, had mushroomed to the extent that it was difficult to know how many people were now affected.

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The Histadrut wants the government to employ hundreds of thousands of contract workers but until now, talks with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz have stalled over the numbers.

The union wants the government to offer a percentage of its current contract workers coverage under the civil service’s collective bargaining agreement to ensure them the same rights and protections as their colleagues.

But the government has warned it will not take any measures that could endanger Israel’s economy, while saying it is open to increasing the minimum wage paid to contract workers and increasing their rights.

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Stephen Colbert rips ‘idiot’ GOP senator for defending Trump’s unconstitutional self-dealing

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"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert returned from New Zealand for a new show that aired Monday evening.

"I have been as far from the insatiable black hole of news that is Donald Trump as you can get on this planet.

I've heard there have been some developments over the last 10 days that did not go well for Donnie,"

The host ripped Trump's 71-minute press conference.

"Seventy-one minutes is not a press conference, it's a one man show," he explained. "If you liked 'Fleabag,' you'll love Donald Trump in 'Douchebag,'" he said.

[caption id="attachment_1555275" align="aligncenter" width="800"] ‘The Late Show’ graphic (screengrab)[/caption]

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Texas Republicans are abandoning the state’s GOP Speaker: ‘We no longer support him’

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Some of the most powerful Texas House Republicans said Monday they no longer support GOP Speaker Dennis Bonnen, marking the biggest blow yet to his political future amid the fallout from a secret recording released last week by a hardline conservative activist.

Five Republicans considered senior members of the lower chamber issued a statement withdrawing support for him: State Reps. Four Price of Amarillo, Dan Huberty of Houston, Lyle Larson of San Antonio, Chris Paddie of Marshall and John Frullo of Lubbock.

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Donald Trump is making a mockery of Marco Rubio — and the Florida senator is letting him

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Sen. Marco Rubio was once one of Donald Trump’s most formidable opponents; now, the Florida senator bends over backward to excuse the president’s corruption.

In 2016, Rubio and Trump sparred frequently on the Republican primary debate stage. Trump picked the uninspired nickname “Little Marco” for the senator, which didn’t seem to do much damage on its own, but Rubio never gained the momentum or strength that his backers hoped would prove to be strong enough to take down the reality TV candidate. As Rubio grew desperate, he launched one of his most memorable and pitiful attacks by stooping to his opponent’s level, implying that Trump had a small penis. It was more of an embarrassing moment for Rubio than anyone else, though Trump helped himself with a crude rejoinder.

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