Saudi-led forces reduce access to Yemen; EU to discuss tax haven blacklist


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  • A Saudi-led military coalition is to close all Yemeni air, ground and sea ports, the coalition’s command said in a statement to state news agency SPA on Monday. The move is in response to the supply of arms and military equipment to Iran-aligned Houthi militias, that “commit crimes” against Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni people, according to the statement. As reported by Reuters, the statement said humanitarian workers and aid would continue to have access to Yemen. Iran has rejected the accusations as “destructive and provocative”.
  • European Union officials said its finance ministers will on Tuesday discuss setting up a blacklist of worldwide tax havens in light of the leak of the “Paradise Papers”. The leaked documents exposed new high-profile cases of tax avoidance and prompted the EU to move a discussion on the subject forward.
  • President Donald J. Trump addressed the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas that killed 26 people. During a press conference in Japan with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, Trump blamed mental health for the shooting. “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, but this isn’t a gun situation,” he said, reports Al Jazeera.
    • Trump’s reaction is similar to his “relatively muted response” to the Las Vegas shooting last month, Axios points out. However his stance is in contrast to his response to the recent Islamic State-linked New York truck attack. Trump used the attack to comment on immigration and federal prosecution of terror suspects, according to Axios.
  • Computer chipmaker Broadcom placed a bid to buy rival Qualcomm, in what would be the largest such takeover in the technology sector’s history. Broadcom, that makes chips for smartphones and other products, is offering $70 per share for the company, for a total takeover amount of $103 billion. This follows Broadcom’s announcement last week that they would fully move to the United States, a move that was praised by President Donald J. Trump. The merger would require regulatory approval.

Earlier

  • Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of “a blatant act of military aggression,” saying that missiles recently fired at Riyadh by Yemeni Houthi militias originated in Iran. The missiles, fired on Saturday, did not reach Riyadh. The Saudi government said via state news agency SPA that Iran’s arming of Houthi militias “could rise to be considered as an act of war.”
  • Several Saudi royal family members along with dozens of high-profile government ministers and businessmen are in jail after a committee singled them out for corruption. The New York Times reports that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major investor of internet companies including Twitter, is the most prominent arrest. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the Saudi throne, led the committee.
  • A lone gunman killed 26 people in a Baptist church in Texas on Sunday. The shooting is the largest in the state’s history. The New York Times reported that the shooter is Devin Kelley, a 26-year-old white male, whose motives are currently unknown. Kelley died of a gunshot wound after leaving the church. Authorities are investigating if he shot himself, or if the bullet came from the gun of a sheriff’s deputy.
  • A vast leak of financial documents reveals how the powerful and ultra-wealthy invest vast sums of money in offshore tax havens. Dubbed the “Paradise Papers,” the leak has implicated U.S. commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, who is shown to have close dealings with Russians sanctioned by the U.S. The leak, which contains 13.4 million documents, also shows a key aide of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been linked to offshore financing that may have cost the nation millions of dollars in taxes. It also shows how the Queen of the United Kingdom’s private money was also invested in tax havens. The Queen is officially exempt from paying UK taxes, but voluntarily pays her share of income tax on her £500m private estate. The BBC was one of almost 100 other media outlets, including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which have been working on the documents.

What we’re reading

  • Australia confronts a humanitarian crisis a year after closing its refugee detention center on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The facility was closed, but the inhabitants remain on the island without necessary supplies nearly a year later – Charles Turner
  • The New Statesman and The Guardian tell the ‘inside’ stories of how the UK’s Labour Party was reconquered by an unlikely group of backbench leftwingers who had all but been forgotten only five years ago. In doing so, the stories shed light on how these self-described leftist radicals challenged many deeply held assumptions of British politics by tapping into and fostering a formerly ideologically dispossessed voter base – George Engels
  • Fact-checking can be done by checking our gut reactions, according to a piece by education blogger Anya Kamenetz on NPR. In it, Mike Caulfield, director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University in Vancouver, argues that content that appeals to the “lizard brain” is “designed to short-circuit our critical thinking.” But falling for sensationalist news or misinformation can be prevented by ensuring we evaluate information that triggers a strong reaction. Caulfield recently published a free online textbook on fact-checking and web literacy. – Lydia Morrish
  • Science writer and Slate’s parenting columnist Melinda Wenner Moyer analyzes why gender stereotypes and sexist behavior begins in childhood. The piece has far-reaching advice on, and insight into, the roots of sexism in childhood and why kids conform to it. It’s an informative and relevant read for parents and non-parents in light of the global discussion on sexual harassment since the Harvey Weinstein allegations and “Me Too” movement. – Lydia Morrish
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