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Israel final vote results give Netanyahu additional seat

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Israel’s election committee published final results from last week’s election on Wednesday that gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud an additional seat, but which did not change the deadlock the country faces.

The final results from the September 17 vote gave the rightwing Likud 32 seats compared to Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White’s 33 in the 120-seat parliament.

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The two parties are in the process of trying to negotiate a unity coalition, and President Reuven Rivlin has one week to name someone to form a government.

Likud’s additional seat came at the expense of one of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, United Torah Judaism, which now has seven.

Israel’s Arab parties, running together under the Joint List alliance, finished as the third-largest force in parliament with 13 seats.

Netanyahu has received the endorsement of 55 parliament members to be prime minister, while Gantz has received 54.

Neither has a clear path to a majority coalition.

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Rivlin, who will formally receive the results later Wednesday, has leaned heavily on Gantz and Netanyahu to work out a unity coalition between them, including in a joint meeting on Monday.

Rivlin is due to host the two for a follow-up meeting on Wednesday night.

A rotation arrangement has been floated, but the question of who would be premier first remains a major stumbling block.

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The timing is especially important for Netanyahu, who is facing possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead pending a hearing set for early October.

A prime minister does not have to step down if indicted — only if convicted with all appeals exhausted — while other ministers can be forced to do so when charged.

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Former UK consulate worker says Chinese secret police tortured him

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A former employee of Britain's consulate in Hong Kong said Wednesday that Chinese secret police tortured and interrogated him about London's role in protests in the semi-autonomous city.

Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen, claimed he was shackled to a steel "tiger chair", hung spread-eagled on a "steep X-Cross" and beaten while he was detained for 15 days in August.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Cheng's allegations are credible and that the treatment "amounts to torture".

Raab told BBC radio that he summoned the Chinese ambassador to denounce the "disgraceful" and "outrageous behaviour from the authorities in China" which violate international law.

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Sondland briefed Pompeo on Trump’s Ukraine scheme — and secretary of state signed off on it: report

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President Donald Trump's ambassador to the European Union kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the loop on efforts to pressure Ukraine's president to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.

Gordon Sondland notified Pompeo in mid-August of a draft statement he'd produced with another U.S. diplomat and Ukrainian officials that they hoped would persuade Trump to invite Volodymyr Zelensky to the Oval Office, reported the New York Times.

He and Pompeo discussed later that month the possibility of pushing Zelensky to pledge during a planned meeting with Trump in Warsaw that he would pursue the investigation sought by the U.S. president in hopes of smoothing relations between the two countries, according to two sources who were briefed on the matter.

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MSNBC’s Mika shocked by Morning Joe’s withering criticism of House GOP: ‘I’ve never heard you accuse someone of that’

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MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski was astonished by her co-host and husband Joe Scarborough's denunciation of congressional Republicans.

The "Morning Joe" hosts agreed GOP attacks on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who earned a Purple Heart fighting in the Iraq War, and other impeachment inquiry witnesses were shameful, but Scarborough went even further in his criticism.

"People talk about the time, 'It's a time we're in,' -- no, it's not," Scarborough said. "It's lack of character among people on these committees, just a lack of character and a lack of love of country that they put their political party above their country."

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