Curated top stories
- EU lawmakers urged the European Commission to investigate Malta’s commitment to the rule of law. The non-binding resolution comes after the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on October 16 and raises “concerns” about police independence and money laundering on the island. Malta’s government said the resolution had “factual inaccuracies” and bias. There is a possibility of penalties if an investigation proceeds and finds unaddressed issues.
- Venezuela will pay back Russia $3.15 billion over a 10-year period in a restructured deal, according to the Financial Times. The oil-rich country borrowed from Moscow in 2011 but failed to keep up with payments due to an economic crisis, which was the result of low oil prices and political struggles.
- The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is advocating for tax reform legislation that includes repealing the individual mandate, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, that forces every U.S. resident to sign up for health insurance. Scrapping the individual mandate would likely end the healthcare law commonly known as Obamacare. President Donald J. Trump requested that Congress remove the individual mandate in a tweet in on November 13.
- According to The New York Times, ending the individual mandate will save the federal government over $300 billion over 10 years by removing 13 million Americans from the health insurance marketplace, many of whom require federal subsidies.
- Zimbabwe’s army seized power early on Wednesday targeting “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe. It declared on TV that it has Mugabe and his wife safe in custody and that control of the country is temporary. The army insisted the events did not amount to a military takeover, saying the mission was to “target criminals” around the 93-year-old head of state. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said he’d spoken to Mugabe, who he described as “fine” but confined to his home. An analysis of the political ramifications of the army’s move in NewsDay, an independent newspaper in Zimbabwe, says Mugabe’s response will test his authority over the military and the country.
- Lebanese President Michel Aoun told a meeting of Lebanese journalists that Prime Minister Saad Hariri is being detained by Saudi Arabia in “violation of the Vienna agreements and human rights law.” Hariri offered a televised resignation while in Riyadh on November 4 and has not returned to Beirut since, despite saying earlier this week that he would do so. Aoun made similar statements about Hariri having been detained on Twitter, according to Reuters, though those statements do not currently appear on his timeline. Read more
- Russia’s lower house of parliament has given preliminary approval to a law that would label foreign media operating in the country as “foreign agents.” It comes days after the U.S. Department of Justice’s move requiring state-backed Russian broadcaster RT to register as a foreign agent. The Russian legislation, which the Moscow Times called “retaliation,” requires a further reading in parliament before becoming law. It would impose the same requirements on media as those imposed on international NGOs in 2012 – which Amnesty International has condemned as an attempt to “shackle” and “silence” rights workers.
- Russia-based social-media accounts posted nearly 45,000 messages in 48 hours during the UK’s referendum on leaving the EU, according to The Times. It reported that the messages came from accounts that previously focused in the conflict in Ukraine. The discovery was made by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Swansea University, and it was revealed two days after UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused the Russian government of attempting to sow discord in the West via social-media manipulation.
- China, in a brief story by state news agency Xinhua, announced it is sending a special envoy to North Korea – the highest-level diplomat to officially visit Pyongyang in two years. The move comes just days after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Beijing. Trump has repeatedly urged China to better manage Kim Jong-un and his nuclear ambitions.
- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday denied lying to Congress about the Trump campaign’s links to Russia. During five hours of testimony, Sessions pointed to the chaos of Trump’s presidential campaign as to why his memory was not clear. In October, The New York Times reported that Sessions testified that nobody in the Trump campaign, that he knew of, had contacts with any Russians. However, documents released as part of a special counsel investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia showed that Sessions discussed a campaign aide’s Russian ties. The aide, George Papadopoulos, discussed his Russian ties and suggested setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
What we’re reading
- Twenty-five years after issuing a first warning about the Earth’s destruction, a group of more than 15,000 scientists is again raising the alarm. Published in the journal BioScience, the article contends nearly all environmental challenges are getting worse and “the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change” is especially troubling. On a positive note, as mentioned by the news website Quartz, humanity has shown some capacity to make sustainable changes. – Jodie DeJonge
- German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel has published ‘The List’ – the names of more than 33,000 people who died between 1993 and 2017 crossing the Mediterranean Sea fleeing war and poverty. Der Tagesspiegel said they had died “as a result of the restrictive policies of fortress Europe.” This New York Times piece explores ‘The List’ – Harry Ridgewell
As stories about abuse, assault, and complicity come flooding out, how do we think about the culprits in our lives? Here, turns the spotlight of harassment on her own life and ponders her #metoo moments. — Charles Anderson
- The New York Times considers whether Trump’s Asian tour was ‘very epic’. The Times quotes Trump’s positive verdict on the 12-day tour, and his belief that “There’s nobody that I can think of that I don’t have a good relationship with.” It also mentioned the physical strain of the undertaking, and that Trump’s staff had tailored the trip as much as possible for the 71-year-old president, including access to “familiar foods”. – Angela Long