White House rejects immigration plan; British accuse Russia of cyberattack


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Curated top stories of the day

  • White House rejects ‘Dreamer’ plan – The White House rejected a bipartisan U.S. Senate proposal to protect young immigrants and amend border security legislation. Spokesperson Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the plan, formulated to help 1.8 million ‘Dreamer’ immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, would weaken enforcement of current law and increase illegal immigration. White House advisers will recommend that President Donald Trump veto the plan.
  • Ethiopian prime minister unexpectedly resigns –  Hailemariam Desalegn will step down after the coalition government accepted his resignation. “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” he said in a statement. Hailemariam will remain prime minister until a replacement is chosen by the ruling coalition and parliament. Hailemariam has been prime minister since 2012. Violent protests have taken place in Ethiopia since 2015, leading parliament to declare a 10-month nationwide state of emergency in October 2016 (The Guardian).
  • Ramaphosa elected South African president – South Africa’s parliament has elected veteran politician Cyril Ramaphosa as president (The Guardian). This follows President Jacob Zuma’s February 14 resignation after weeks of pressure from his party, the African National Congress, which holds a majority in the 400-member parliament. Ramaphosa will serve the remainder of Zuma’s presidential term, which ends in 2019.
    • Seventy-five-year-old Jacob Zuma’s nine-year rule was plagued by corruption scandals and punctuated by a stagnating economy.
  • British officials accuse Russia of cyberattack – Russia’s military was directly responsible for a “malicious” cyberattack that wreaked havoc across Europe last summer, said British officials in an “unusual” (BBC) public accusation. The June 2017, NotPetya ransomware attack on Ukraine metastasized across Europe and cost companies £1.2 billion ($1.7 billion), including some based in Russia. Russia denies responsibility. British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson accused Moscow of “ripping up the rule book” and said the UK would respond. Williamson has been accused of Russian scaremongering by energy experts (The Guardian) over comments he made in January about Russia’s capacity to interfere with the UK’s electricity supply.
  • Cambodia ruling party draws up crackdown plan – Cambodia’s ruling party has drawn up a five-year plan that will increase surveillance, shut out any opposition “force,” and prevent the spread of information that “twists the truth.” The Phnom Penh Post, which obtained the plan, says it comes during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s crackdown on dissent, with politicians imprisoned and media outlets closed down (Cambodia Daily). Cambodia’s main opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was forced to dissolve last year ahead of 2018 elections. Multi-party democracy formally returned to Cambodia 25 years ago, after years of turmoil including the rule of Pol Pot, which resulted in an estimated 2 million deaths, and protracted civil strife. Hun Sen, a one-time follower of Pol Pot, has been in power since 1985, making him one of  the world’s longest-serving leaders.
  • FBI reviews warnings after Florida shooting – The FBI is reviewing how it handled warnings about the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 students at a school in Florida. Nikolas Cruz, 19, has appeared in court charged with murder. It is the deadliest U.S. school shooting since 2012. The FBI had investigated Cruz, who had links with a white supremacist group, after he commented on YouTube last year that he would be a “professional school shooter.” However, the agency was not able to identify who made the comment.

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  • WikiTribune exposed the under-reported scandal of fisheries inspectors going “missing” from tuna boats pursuing the last great stocks in the South Pacific. Now the parliament of Papua New Guinea has been told that 18 inspectors from PNG have “disappeared” in strangely similar circumstances in the past five years. This report from the Post Courier in Port Moresby expands on the problem we wrote about. – Peter Bale
  • As the horror of yet another U.S. school shooting develops, The Atlantic attempts to analyse the trend, which has gained pace in 2018. “The messiness of counting school shootings often contributes to sensationalizing or oversimplifying a modern trend of mass violence in America that is seemingly becoming more entrenched,” the article says. – Peter Bale
  • In the land of Tolstoy, Turgenev and now Putin, what stories are the Russians telling themselves? In this piece for the New York Times Magazine, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård takes a literary road trip into the heart of Russia and discovers that the country has been engaged in a sort of a war fought over memories — “over what should be remembered and what should be forgotten.” – Charles Anderson

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