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Curated top stories of the day
- Russia announces new ‘invincible’ missiles – In a speech only weeks ahead of a presidential election he is expected to win, President Vladimir Putin said Russia has developed and is testing a new line of nuclear weapons that could strike almost any point in the world and outmaneuver U.S. defenses (The Guardian). In a televised state of the union address made in Moscow, Putin showed video and animations of ICBMs, nuclear-powered cruise missiles, underwater drones, and other weapons. He said the missile “can bypass lines of interception and is invincible in the face of all existing and future systems.” Putin explained it was necessary to develop the missiles due to former president George W. Bush in 2001 pulling out of the anti-ballistic missile treaty, signed with the Soviet Union in 1972 (The New York Times). “You didn’t listen to our country then,” Putin said. “Listen to us now.”
- UK inquiry says post-WWII child migrants should be compensated for abuse – The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) said the UK government should pay compensation to the 2,000 living former child migrants who were sent to Australia and parts of the British Empire from 1945-1970. About 4,000 children were sent to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. The inquiry heard from those who claimed they and others suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of those running the schools and orphanages they were sent to. No exact amount of compensation has been stipulated.
Controversial Amazon forest law upheld – Brazil’s supreme court will uphold an amnesty program that scraps penalties for Amazon landowners who have illegally felled trees. Environmentalists say the revision of the 2012 law will create a culture in which it is acceptable to deforest the world’s largest rainforest. “This awards the guy who deforested, awards the guy who disobeyed the law,” said Nurit Bensusan of Brazilian NGO Instituto Socioambiental. Farmers say the ruling will give producers more confidence, which will grow the Brazilian economy.
Trump says lawmakers “petrified” of NRA – U.S. President Donald J. Trump asked a group of lawmakers to strengthen gun laws after telling them lawmakers were “afraid of the NRA.” Trump told senators from both sides of the aisle to come up with a comprehensive bill on gun reform, suggesting expanding background checks for gun buyers and raising the legal age to buy rifles to 21 from 18. “Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can’t be petrified,” the president said(CNN). Trump’s comments come as two major U.S. retailers announced new restrictions (The New York Times) on gun sales.
- EU president warns of hard Irish border – European Council President Donald Tusk warned on Thursday that Brexit could see a return to a “hard border” in Ireland if Britain leaves the European Union’s customs union and single market. The draft withdrawal proposal published by the EU on Wednesday suggested Northern Ireland could be included within a “common regulatory area” with the EU, which Tusk said was the best option to avoid border friction. UK Prime Minister Theresa May responded by saying that “no UK prime minister could ever agree” to this. She is meeting Tusk tomorrow, before giving a big Brexit speech, where it is expected that he will ask her to come up with a better deal. Some, including opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, say a “hard border” potentially threatens the peace agreed under 1998’s Good Friday Agreement. (Read WikiTribune‘s Brexit talks crib sheet or this useful explainer from The New York Times.)
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- If passed, this week’s proposal by China’s Communist Party to scrap presidential term limits clears the way for President Xi Jinping to remain in power indefinitely. In many countries, the move is being reported as part of a trend towards authoritarianism (The New York Times). Western governments have been mostly silent about China’s shift. Contribute to WikiTribune‘s ongoing report on the controversial law change and what it means for the country.
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- Help WikiTribune report on whether Europe’s impending new law – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – is a progressive step towards protecting privacy on the internet.
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- Taurus sold almost a million handguns that can potentially fire without anyone pulling the trigger. The government won’t fix the problem. The NRA is silent. This piece in Businessweek outlines how no government entity has the power to police defective firearms or ammunition in America – or even force gunmakers to warn consumers. – Charles Anderson
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