Facebook reveals Russian spending on U.S. election ads, China wants more actions on N. Korea

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  • The U.S 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dealt another blow to the Trump Administration’s efforts to bar refugees and travelers from Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Libya, after ruling that extended family is considered a “bona fide relationship,” and thus exempted from the President’s executive order. The same court also ruled that refugees who have a relationship with resettlement agencies are also protected from the President’s executive order.
  • Inflation in Venezuela increased by 33.8 percent during the month of August, with food prices reaching inflation levels of over 50 percent, as reported by Reuters. These figures, which are in line with the findings of independent economists, were released by the National Assembly, a democratically elected political body that many in the international community fear is at risk under President Nicolás Maduro.
  • Egypt has blocked the website of Human Rights Watch after the watchdog organization released a report detailing systematic torture in the country’s jails. According to the Association of Freedom of Thought, hundreds of sites have been censored in Egypt and throughout the Gulf region.
  • President Donald J. Trump has expressed interest in acting as mediator between U.S-backed Gulf Arab nations and Qatar, a role that the Kuwaiti government has filled thus far. Regional powers, and former allies, severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar after accusing the small yet wealthy nation of supporting Iranian interests, a charge the Qatari government has denied.
  • Prime Minister Theresa May has refused an invitation to address the European parliament in public and set out her position on Brexit. The Guardian reports that senior EU sources have told them that May is only willing to talk in private.
  • The parliament of Catalonia has voted in favor of an independence referendum to be held on October 1st. BBC reports that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has described the planned vote as illegal. He ordered government lawyers to file a complaint with the country’s constitutional court so the vote could be annulled, and has said he will bring criminal charges against members of the Catalan parliament for endorsing a referendum.



  • Facebook announced in a blog post that a Russia-based operation spent $100,000 on thousands of  political messaging ads in an effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Facebook’s chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, said the discovery clarified “serious claims” that Russia was involved. “The ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights,” he said. Foreign investment in a U.S. presidential election is illegal, and just last week, U.S. television network NBC said it had obtained leaked notes from Paul Manafort, Donald J. Trump’s former campaign manager, which included the words “donations.”
  • In the wake of North Korea’s latest nuclear test on Sunday, China has agreed that the United Nations Security Council should take more action against the hermit kingdom, though it also stresses the importance of “dialogue and consultation” in an effort to resolve nuclear issues. China is split between being a permanent member of the U.N Security Council and North Korea’s role as its main trading partner. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China hopes North Korea will “see the situation clearly and come to the right judgment and choice.”
  • Israeli fighter jets have attacked a military facility — a suspected chemical weapons site — near Maysaf, in northwestern Syria, killing two people.  The attack comes a day after reports from U.N. investigators confirming that Syria was behind a sarin-attack in April that killed at least 83 people. A statement from the Syrian army warned of  “dangerous repercussions of such hostile acts on the security and stability of the region.”

What we’re watching and reading

  • Inside America’s Secret War with ISIS” by Rolling Stone, written by former soldier-turned-journalist Seth Harp, offers an in-depth exploration of the U.S. government’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, revealing its battle with ISIS in the race to seize the city of Raqqa, which ISIS had claimed as its ‘capital.’

  • Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates has published a polemical piece in The Atlantic about Donald J. Trump titled “The First White President.” In it, he makes the bold claim that the foundation of Trump’s presidency “is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.” The essay, excerpted from his upcoming book, We Were Eight Years in Power, argues that Trump didn’t win solely among struggling working-class people who were tired of the establishment, but among those who identified particularly as white. Trump’s “political existence hinges on the fact of a black president,” Coates said, insofar as white supremacy is the “very core of his power.” Coates wrote what could be considered a ‘prequel’ earlier this year, “My President was Black,” on the Obama presidency.
  • Car maker Jaguar Land Rover has announced it will only make only electric or hybrid cars as of 2020. German luxury carmaker BMW also is pushing into electrified vehicles. “The trend towards electric mobility is irreversible,” BMW’s Klaus Fröhlich said.
  • A new pen has been developed that can identify cancer in 10 seconds. University of Texas scientists say it could make surgery to remove a tumor quicker, safer and more precise.
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