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Curated top stories of the day
- Mueller files new charges – Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a new indictment against former Trump associates Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, Reuters reports. The news wire said the indictment, was filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia and includes tax and bank fraud charges against the pair. Manafort and Gates previously pleaded not guilty to further federal criminal charges filed against them last October (Axios).
- UN chief: Eastern Ghouta is “hell on Earth” – International aid agencies called for an immediate ceasefire in the besieged Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta (The Guardian). A five-day Syrian government onslaught has killed almost 300 people in the rebel-held enclave, including at least 60 children, according to activists. The United Nations and the Red Cross want to be allowed into the densely-populated area to provide more than 400,000 trapped civilians with food and medical supplies. UN Secretary-General António Guterres described eastern Ghouta as “hell on Earth.” The Syrian regime says it is targeting terrorists, but is being accused once more of “indiscriminate” attacks over civilian areas. (Read more WikiTribune coverage of Syria here.)
- Russian opposition leader jailed ahead of election – Alexei Navalny, director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, was detained by Russian authorities for organizing illegal protests less than a month away from the country’s presidential election. Navalny is barred from running against Vladimir Putin, who is running for a fourth term, because he has a conviction on his record. His supporters say that the charges against Navalny are politically motivated, and advocate for a national boycott of the election.
- Tech companies sue over net neutrality repeal – Mozilla and Vimeo, two major internet companies, are leading a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its repeal net neutrality rules in December (Bloomberg). Twenty state attorneys general also have a parallel litigation against the FCC as well. These lawsuits were filed after the FCC officially ordered the repeal of Title II, classifying the internet as a public utility on Thursday.
- Trump suggests giving guns to teachers – According to U.S. President Donald Trump arming teachers could stop more mass shootings at U.S schools. Today he tweeted that teachers could respond faster than the police, saying: “History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!”
- Maduro wants ‘democratic renewal’ – Venezuela should hold a “mega-election” aimed at giving the country “democratic renewal,” said President Nicolás Maduro. The suggestion comes as Venezuela’s opposition party coalition declared it would boycott a planned presidential poll in April. Maduro said he would create one process to elect legislative, state, and municipal entities to provide “democratic renewal.” However, opposition parties say the election will be “fraudulent and illegitimate.” Venezuela is going through a protracted political and economic crisis after years of high inflation, and chronic food and medicine shortages.
- U.S. wants a separate immigration system for agricultural workers – Sonny Perdue, Secretary of the Agriculture Department, said the government was considering a separate process for farmers to emigrate to the United States. At an industry conference, he said that immigrant farm workers “are not the ones putting a burden on criminal justice system or welfare system.” His comments underline the agricultural sector’s dependence on immigrants.
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- What Brexit means for Gibraltar – Gibraltar’s lifeline to Spain means it faces challenges to its way of life from the UK leaving the European Union. Here, Harry Ridgewell speaks to those living on the “The Rock,” which is proudly British and equally European. Its border is a 300-year-old point of contention which thousands of people cross daily. But Brexit will make its future a curious touch-point for a controversial piece of legislation.
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What we’re reading and watching
- CNN carries a point-of-view video from a teenager in the suburb of Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, under attack from Syrian government forces. The unverified video shows the scale of destruction and the impact on young people. – Peter Bale, Launch Editor, WikiTribune
- Three Newsweek reporters and editors were fired while working on this story. It’s about the magazine’s parent company giving alleged favors to a curious entity called Olivet University. An editor’s note at the top of the article gives the background – possibly unprecedented in journalism. The report outlines the pair’s financial ties, which the Manhattan district attorney’s office is now scrutinizing as part of a long-running fraud probe. The eventual disclaimer is telling, though the real inside story of this inside story is yet to be told: “This story was written and edited Tuesday, free of interference from company executives.” – Charles Anderson
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