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Curated top stories of the day
- Police say Netanyahu should resign – Israeli authorities say that bribery charges facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are credible, and recommend that he step down as head of state. Netanyahu has bitterly rejected the claims, and has refused to resign. The charges are for accepting nearly $300,000 from international billionaires since in exchange for political favors. He also faces charges of helping an Israeli newspaper in exchange for favorable press.
- FBI contradicts White House about Porter – FBI director Christopher Wray said that the bureau completed its investigation on Robert Porter in January, contradicting the White House’s statement that the aide was still being vetted when the allegations of spousal abuse first surfaced. Wray also said that the FBI briefed the White House, on two occasions, about Porter’s background, but did not specify whether these briefings were related to domestic abuse. Intelligence chief Dan Coats told the Associated Press that Porter was able to gain security clearance because of a “broken” system that needs to be overhauled.
- Julian Assange will be arrested if he leaves Ecuadorian embassy – A UK judge has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can still be arrested (Guardian) if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he’s been taking refuge for almost six years. Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was not persuaded by the argument from Assange’s lawyers that it was not in the public’s interest to arrest him. The warrant relates to Assange breaking bail conditions in 2012. At the time he was avoiding extradition to Sweden after allegations of rape and assault by two women, which he denied. “Arrest is a proportionate response,” said Arbuthnot.
- Party to remove Zuma – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has formally requested President Jacob Zuma step down according to a senior official, as reported by Reuters. If Zuma refuses to resign the ANC will put forward a vote of no confidence in him in parliament, which Zuma would be expected to lose. South Africa’s State broadcaster, SABC, said Zuma had been told by recently-elected ANC leader, Cyril Ramaphosa, that he had 48 hours to resign. Zuma has been leader for the past nine years but has been accused of corruption because of his ties to big business. Help expand WikiTribune’s coverage of South Africa’s leadership issues.
- Girl who slapped soldiers goes on trial -– An Israeli military judge closed the court in which Ahed Tamimi, 17, was accused of assault and incitement to violence. No spectators were allowed except the girl’s immediate family. Tamimi, a Palestinian activist, was arrested after she slapped and punched two Israeli soldiers in December 2017. International human rights organisations have criticised what they see as a heavy-handed prosecution on a military base in the West Bank. The case has now been adjourned for one month.
Cyclone hits Tonga – Tropical Cyclone Gita hit the South Pacific nation of Tonga on Monday with winds of up to 260kmh, leveling its Parliament House and causing mayhem across the country’s 170 islands. It is the worst storm to hit the Tonga in more than 60 years. Newshub correspondent Michael Morrah said the devastation was “immense.”
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- The saga that has recently evolved in Catalonia is focused on a battle for democratic legitimacy between separatists and the Spanish government, writes WikiTribune community member Andrew Bernstein. But Catalan independence elections last December have only contributed to a political stalemate. “The stand-off displays two contrasting definitions of democracy: for the pro-independence movement, it is that of self-determination. For the Spanish government, it is the rule of law directed by a constitution approved by the constituents.” Read his piece outlining the issues surrounding the story.
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- Trump’s infrastructure plan – Donald J. Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan will release $200 billion in federal funds for building projects across the United States. So what are most critical infrastructure needs in your area?Decaying bridges? Inadequate railways? Outdated airports? Deteriorating roadways? Click here to learn the background of the plan and try reporting for this WikiTribune project.
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- For two years Facebook has been embroiled in an existential crisis as it fended off accusations of bias, reports Wired. The magazine spent months interviewing more than 50 employees to bring this revealing article about how the social media giant’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has been responding to waves of criticism from all corners of the political spectrum. “Most people told the same basic tale: of a company, and a CEO, whose techno-optimism has been crushed as they’ve learned the myriad ways their platform can be used for ill.” Last month Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would change its focus from highlighting posts from news publishers to promoting interactions between friends. — Charles Anderson
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Thanks, Jimmy Wales