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Curated top stories of the day
- U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem earlier than expected – A U.S. official has confirmed contentious plans to move the country’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, the same day that Israel declared its independence in 1948. As Axios noted this is much sooner than expected – Vice President Mike Pence previously said the move would be in 2019. (Read WikiTribune‘s Q&A: Trump’s Jerusalem policy driven by groups who ‘see themselves as defenders of a greater Israel.’)
- Trump turns up pressure on North Korea – U.S. President Donald J. Trump said he is launching the “largest-ever set of new sanctions” against North Korea to increase pressure over its nuclear program. He said that the efforts will hit “56 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses that are assisting North Korea in evading sanctions.” Further action will be made by the Treasury Department to cut off sources of revenues that North Korea uses to fund its nuclear activity, Trump added.
- Ceasefire in Syria stalled by Russia – The UN Security Council’s ceasefire agreement on Friday is delayed after Russia proposed new amendments to the deal. As one of the five permanent members on the council, Russia has the ability to deny any resolution. The ceasefire comes after six days of escalated bombings on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta that have killed at least 400 people. The Damascus suburb is home to around 400,000 people and has been subject to persistent bombing, which the UN’s emergency relief coordinator said has “intentionally targeted civilian residential buildings.” (Read more: Damascus urban warfare matches pattern of “indiscriminate” attacks.)
- Australia’s deputy resigns – Barnaby Joyce resigned on Friday, quitting the role of Australian deputy prime minister after an allegation of harassment was made against him, two weeks after admitting that he and his former staffer had an affair and were expecting a child together. The resignation comes after rising public pressure to go, as well as from within his Nationals party and their coalition partners, the Liberal Party, whose government has a one-seat majority. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Joyce, who ran on a platform espousing family values, lacked the support of his own party to continue in the role.
- Armed officer failed to stop Florida gunman – The February 14 shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people was attributed to an “abject breakdown at all levels” by state officials after it emerged that an armed officer failed to confront the gunman. On February 22, President Trump offered support for a proposal that teachers should carry guns, calling it a “great deterrent” on Twitter.
Several U.S. companies have cut association with the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the wake of shooting. They include car rental companies Hertz and Enterprise, which had offered discounts for NRA members.
- Fresh charges against Manafort and Gates – Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed fresh charges against President Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates. A 32-count indictment includes charges of bank fraud that could if proven guilty carry a sentence of up to 30 years jail time. The pair already face charges (CNN) brought by Mueller regarding suspected money laundering and work done for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Mueller is acting under a broad Department of Justice mandate, but none of the charges relate directly to or suggest alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
- Rick Gates pleads guilty to charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to FBI investigators. He is currently cooperating with authorities.
- Hun Sen consolidates power – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party looks set to sweep a Senate election and consolidate his 30 years rule. The elections come as a crackdown on the opposition escalates. Some politicians have been stripped of their right to vote after their opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by a court last November. A Phnom Penh Post editorial says that if the elections are to proceed as planned, those who voted for the CNRP, will be totally ignored. (Read and contribute to WikiTribune’s coverage of Cambodia under Hun Sen.)
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- Answers on U.S. healthcare – Why are healthcare outcomes in other industrialized countries better than in the United States, even though the cost of healthcare in other countries is typically lower? Read and contribute to Charles Turner’s story which seeks to answer a community member’s question.
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What we’re reading
- Long ignored by white archaeologists as a mere footnote, modern scientists are now racing to document what’s left of an ancient African civilization. This piece in Undark, an online science publication outlines the efforts in Sudan, to rediscover ancient Nubia before it’s too late.
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