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Curated top stories
- Donald Trump triggered a diplomatic row with the UK after he shared videos from a far-right UK anti-Muslim group. The UK prime minister’s office said: “It is wrong for the President to have done this” (Politico) . Trump, who has more than 45 million followers on Twitter, made no comment in his retweet on the three videos, which had been posted by the deputy leader of far-right nationalist group Britain First. However, the retweets were seen immediately in the context of his frequent comments about the risks from Muslim immigrants. Leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, described Trump’s retweets as “abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society.” The issue of immigration is potent in the UK where a British Labour politician was murdered by a constituent who shouted “Britain first” before stabbing her to death. While Twitter users often label their profiles with “retweets not an endorsement,” Trump has also made clear he “retweets for a reason.” (CNN). The three videos posted by Britain First’s Jayda Fransen purported to show an “Islamist mob” killing a boy, long known to be from the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi (ABC); the destruction of a statue of the Virgin Mary in Syria (both videos surfaced in 2013); and an alleged brawl between purported Muslim “migrants” and a local boy in the Netherlands, apparently debunked at the time (Snopes).
- North Korea says its latest weapons test shows that it now has the capability to strike anywhere in the mainland U.S., according to an announcement on its state TV. In the test, North Korea launched a missile that reached an altitude of 2,800 miles and traveled 590 miles (950km) before landing in Japanese waters, according to South Korea’s military. The launch, Pyongyang’s first high-profile weapons test since September, came a week after Trump put North Korea back on a U.S. list of countries that the government says support terrorism.
- The U.S. Senate will vote on whether to begin debate over tax legislation that has been the focus of the Republican Party since winning the White House in 2016. The Senate Finance Committee drafted the bill yesterday which includes a repeal of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act and expansion of the tax credit that allows parents to save $2,000 per child from $1,650, according to the New York Times. Another feature of the law is a slashing of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The bill needs a simple majority to pass the Senate.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s goal of a coalition government is at risk of delay over the issue of repatriating Syrian refugees. The Social Democratic party oppose the Christian Democrats, the party of Merkel, plan to deport refugees who committed a crime (Deutsche Welle). More than one million Syrians have fled to Germany since 2015, which has led to a wave of anti-immigration sentiment including the rise of the Alternative for Germany party.
- “Today” show host Matt Lauer is the latest high profile personality to lose his job after allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. The married 59-year-old NBC News host was fired after a complaint by an unnamed female colleague on Monday night. Lauer’s behavior was a “clear violation” of the company’s standards, NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said in a statement. Lauer’s departure follows on from what has turned into a flood of accusations about leading public figures including Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein, Fox television pundit Bill O’Reilly and actor Kevin Spacey. Read WikiTribune’s full coverage of the array of those allegations here.
- A new report from McKinsey, the worldwide management consulting firm which advises governments and businesses, revealed that automation may wipe out one third of all jobs in America by 2030. The report, carried out by the firm’s think-tank, McKinsey Global Institute, said that government intervention will be required to manage the social disruption caused by mass unemployment. The most significant changes will be seen in societies reliant on agriculture and manufacturing. However, the report also said that displaced workers could shift into other, similar occupations instead of remaining unemployed — even though questions remain over whether there will be enough jobs to shift to. Automation is already a feature of retail businesses in the form of self-check outs. Considerable resources are also being poured into researching and testing self-driving cars.
- Bitcoin, the largest and best-known cryptocurrency, soared past $10,000 on some digital currency exchanges, leading financial news agency Bloomberg to report that bubble warnings were multiplying. It was an all-time high for Bitcoin, which was created in 2009 and was valued at US$6,500 at the beginning of the month. Mainstream demand has helped to drive up the value by 900 percent this year.
- Saudi prince Miteb bin Abdullah was released after agreeing to pay $1 billion to settle corruption charges, according to the Financial Times and Agence France Press (carried by the BBC), both citing unnamed sources. Miteb was one of dozens of Saudi royal family members and senior officials detained after an anti-corruption purge that began on November 5, reportedly held at the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. The detentions were seen as a move by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to consolidate his hold on power. Miteb’s family members appeared to confirm the reports of his release on Twitter (Arabic).
- An Islamic militant charged with orchestrating a 2012 attack in Benghazi was found guilty of terrorism, while acquitted of murder. The Benghazi event weighed heavily on that year’s U.S. presidential campaign. The defense had argued in a Washington D.C. court that the evidence against Libyan Ahmed Abu Khattala, 46, lacked credibility. Khattala could face life in prison for the attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
What we’re reading
- Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered an apology of “sorrow and deep regret” to the country’s LGBT community, and announced the government had set aside CAN$100 million (USD $78 million) to compensate former government workers who lost their jobs over discrimination. As well as settling a class-action lawsuit, Trudeau said a proposed bill could expunge the records of those who faced criminal charges over their sexuality. The decades-long program to target gays in the military and police force ruined ten of thousands of lives, according to The New York Times.
- Chad is at the center of the world’s most complex humanitarian disaster, according to New Yorker writer Ben Taub. In an in-depth investigation, he traces the historic roots of the country’s political, environmental, religious and militancy problems. He speaks with a range of victims, perpetrators, and those who blur the boundaries. — Jack Barton