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Curated top stories of the day
- Experts unable to identify source of nerve agent used in attack – British scientists at the Porton Down laboratory are unable to verify the “precise source” of the novichok agent used in an attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in England on March 4, the lab’s chief executive Gary Aitkenhead told Sky News. They have not been able to prove the nerve agent came from Russia or establish its country of origin, he said. The British government has blamed Russia for the attack, however, and Aitkenhead said (Sky News) establishing the chemical’s origin required “other inputs,” such as intelligence-based avenues that the government can access.
- Britain is seeking a “proportionate way” to respond to Russia after the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter Yulia, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday. The spokesperson was asked if the instance posed a risk of triggering a war after retired Russian lieutenant general Evgeny Buzhinsky said the fallout of the nerve agent attack could provoke “the last war in the history of mankind” and warned that relations between Russia and the West could get “worse than the Cold War.” Yulia is now recovering but Sergei remains in critical but stable condition.
- Zuckerberg called to quit as chairman – Mark Zuckerberg should quit as chairman of the Facebook board to protect user privacy (Financial Times, may be behind paywall), said investor Scott Stringer, who oversees New York City’s pension fund investments with an almost $1 billion stake in the social media platform. The financial officer said an independent chairman for the board was needed to ensure privacy safeguards after revelations that data was harvested from more than 50 million Facebook accounts by Cambridge Analytica.
- Earlier, the Facebook CEO defended his leadership following criticism from Apple’s Tim Cook. Mark Zuckerberg said that Cook’s suggestion that his company did not care about users was “extremely glib.” Cook criticized Facebook last week in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, saying it was an “invasion of privacy” to traffic the personal data of users. When asked what he would do if he were Zuckerberg, Cook said he “wouldn’t be in that situation.”
- Three wounded in shooting YouTube’s California offices – Three people were shot by a female shooter before she killed herself inside the YouTube’s headquarters located in San Bruno, California. The motivations of the shooter are currently unknown.
- More stocks decline due to trade-war fears and tech scrutiny – World stock markets fought to regain stability as investors were unnerved by fears of a looming trade war between the U.S. and China. In the U.S., Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropped 2.2 percent. Technology stocks are also in trouble after criticism of the online retailer Amazon by U.S. president Donald J. Trump. Tesla led the decline, falling by 7.8 percent, in part due to a voluntary recall.
- Malaysia passes law to ban “fake news” – Malaysia’s parliament passed a law prohibiting the production of misinformation, according to the Washington Post. Fines for producing so-called “fake news” on foreign and domestic media is a maximum 500,000 ringgit ($128,000) and carries a sentence of up to six years in jail. Critics fear the law will be used to curb dissent and free speech ahead of the general election.
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- WikiTribune reporter Lydia Morrish takes a look at free speech in universities as a new regulator in England aims to keep institutions in check, discovering that some think the issue has been overplayed in the media.
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- Marked by a housing crisis that has seen some people paying over half of their salaries on rent, landlords are listing rooms with a catch: sexual favors, according to The Guardian. The report says that campaigners believe “sex for rent” ads have come about as a result of a dysfunctional housing market in the UK. – Lydia Morrish
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