Briefing: Syrian activists found dead in Turkey, McCain kills US healthcare bill, Macron overhauls French labour laws

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Syrian activists Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat were found dead in Istanbul.
  • A mother and daughter who were prominent critics of the Syrian regime have been killed in Turkey. Orouba Barakat, 60, and her 22-year-old daughter Halla were found dead in their home in Istanbul’s central Uskudar district. Turkish media reported that Orouba had been investigating allegations of torture in prisons run by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Halla was working as an editor for the pro-opposition website Orient News.

  • Senator John McCain has likely dealt a death blow to the U.S. Republican Party’s attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It is the second time that the 81-year-old McCain has taken such an action.  “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said of the bill. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has moved to overhaul France’s labour laws as thousands of people have gathered to protest the reforms. The new laws will make make it easier for companies to hire and cheaper to fire staff. Macron’s government pledged to cut unemployment from its current 9.5 percent to 7 percent in five years.

What we are reading and watching

  • The effects of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Mexico City this week and killed more than 200 people came as no surprise to many. This interactive simulation from the New York Times shows how the city was built on top of an ancient lake bed. Today much for the city lies on sand and clay which are susceptible to seismic activity.
  • When Kim Jong-Un called the U.S. President Donald Trump a “dotard” this week, Google’s search engine went into high response. The history of the unusual term is documented here by the Washington Post. It includes the literary luminaries that liked it such as William Shakespeare and J.R.R. Tolkien.


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