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- Wildfires continue to spread in Northern California in the United States, killing at least 10 people and forcing 20,000 others to evacuate their homes. Wind speeds of 50 miles per hour and dry weather conditions have contributed to one of the most destructive fires in California history.
- U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized President Donald J. Trump in an interview with the New York Times for behavior that could lead the country “on to the path of World War III.” In the 25-minute interview, the two-term Republican senator from Tennessee also stated that the president’s use of Twitter has undermined international diplomacy on multiple occasions. Senator Corker previously announced that he will not run for reelection in 2018.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will withdraw from the Clean Power Plan which aims to lower greenhouse emissions from power plants. Established by the previous Barack Obama administration, the plan would reduce carbon emission from the energy sector by 32 percent by 2030, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. The head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, criticized the plan as unfairly targeting the coal industry as well as being inconsistent with the rule of law.
- Turkey issued another arrest of a U.S. consulate worker following its mutual suspension of visa services with Washington. The suspension came after Turkey arrested a U.S. consulate worker for suspected ties to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric blamed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for starting last year’s failed coup in Turkey.
- Google discovered Russia-backed ads on its products, including Gmail and YouTube. The ads appear not to be from the same company that bought ads on Facebook, but the Washington Post reports that they indicate a broader disinformation effort coordinated by Moscow. Congress has started multiple investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election. Lawmakers have suggested that Moscow was involved in Donald J. Trump winning the election.
- A new proposal by the U.S. government ties any new deal on young undocumented immigrants to a list of hardline immigration demands. These include: banning immigrants from bringing their extended family members, the creation of a points-based system for migrants, and most controversially, constructing a border wall with Mexico.
- Last month U.S. President Donald J. Trump ended the Obama-era “Dreamer” program which had protected about 800,000 immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, including many who were born there. Democrats rejected the latest proposals.
- The U.S. and Turkey suspended most visa services between the two countries. Non-immigrant visas are still being issued to those travelling to the U.S. for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study. The move by both countries comes after a U.S. consulate worker in Istanbul was held last week on suspicion of links to U.S. based cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Gulen for starting last year’s failed coup.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party reportedly agreed a new immigration policy with its coalition partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU). The CSU leader, Horst Seehofer, called for migrant numbers to be restricted to 200,000 a year after Merkel allowed in 1.3 million mainly Middle Eastern migrants and refugees from 2015. The chancellor is opposed to caps but said she does not want to repeat a large influx of immigrants.
- The National Rifle Association is against a ban on the device which turns rifles into automatic weapons and allowed the killer in the Las Vegas massacre to lay down sustained fire onto a crowd of people. Stephen Paddock, 64, fitted 12 of his weapons with “bump-stock” devices that allowed semi-automatic rifles to operate as if they were fully automatic machine guns, which are otherwise outlawed in the United States. He killed 58 people during the attack. Last week the NRA said it supported regulation of the bump stocks. However, the NRA’s chief lobbyist Chris Cox told Fox News: “We don’t believe that bans have ever worked on anything. What we have said has been very clear – that if something transfers a semiautomatic to function like a fully automatic, then it ought to be regulated differently.”
- United States regional military bases will be at risk if further sanctions are passed against Iran, according to the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The warning came after the White House said President Donald Trump would announce a new response to Iran’s missile tests, support for “terrorism” and cyber operations. “As we’ve announced in the past, if America’s new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km range of Iran’s missiles,” commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to state media.
- Hundreds of thousands of people took to Barcelona’s streets to express their opposition to declaring independence from Spain. Local police estimated 350,000 people waved Spanish and Catalan flags and carried banners saying “Catalonia is Spain” and “Together we are stronger.” The protest comes after politicians on both sides hardened their positions in the country’s worst political crisis for decades.
What we’re reading
- The Founders never intended to create an unregulated individual right to a gun. Today, millions believe they did. Here’s how it happened. As Politico reports, The National Rifle Association’s long crusade to bring its interpretation of the second amendment of the Constitution shows that Constitutional change is the product of public argument and political manoeuvring. “The pro-gun movement may have started with scholarship, but then it targeted public opinion and shifted the organs of government. By the time the issue reached the Supreme Court, the desired new doctrine fell like a ripe apple from a tree.”
- Richard Spencer, the president of white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute, protested again in Charlottesville, after leading a fascist march against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in August, which ended with the death of Heather Heyer. In a piece in The Washington Post, he says: “We wanted to prove that we came in peace in May; we came in peace in August, and we come again in peace…we will keep coming back.”