Trump's ex-adviser pleads guilty to lying to FBI; Pope meets Rohingya

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  1. Michael Flynn accused of "wilfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to FBI
  2. Pope Francis uses the term "Rohingya" in Bangladesh
  3. Turkish-Iranian gold trader accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions
  4. Former Catalan cabinet ministers appeared before a Spanish Supreme Court judge

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Michael Flynn (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lovelady) (Released)
Michael Flynn, pictured in 2014
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lovelady) [CC-BY]
  • Michael Flynn, President Donald J. Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI. As part of a plea deal, Flynn admitted in a court document that a senior member of Trump’s transition team directed him to make contact with Russian officials. In a statement, White House attorney Ty Cobb responded: “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.” Cobb also described Flynn as a “former Obama administration official.” The accusations relate to Flynn denying that he communicated with the Russian ambassador in December 2016. Flynn appeared in court accused of “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements.”
    • Reuters reports that presidential advisor Jared Kushner told General Flynn to lobby foreign diplomats, including Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, to block a UN resolution that opposed Israeli settlements, weeks before the Trump Administration came into office.
  • Pope Francis met 16 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, two days after giving a public address alongside Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi in which he diplomatically declined to use the term “Rohingya.” The Pope said he would ask for forgiveness of the persecutors of the Rohingya Muslim minority, 620,000 of whom have fled violence at least partly perpetrated by Myanmar state forces. The pope did use the term “Rohingya” on Friday, which is loaded with diplomatic significance. (Read more: Avoiding the term ‘Rohingya’ is a common diplomatic concession.“)
  • A Turkish-Iranian gold trader accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions while he was the country’s prime minister. Reza Zarrab made the allegations on Thursday at a federal court in New York. Zarrab is working with U.S. prosecutors on the criminal trial of a Turkish finance executive charged with helping launder money for Iran. Erdogan did not immediately respond to the allegation, although a spokesperson for the Turkish president said the case was a “plot against Turkey.” On Friday Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said he hoped Zarrab will “turn back from his mistake” of co-operating with prosecutors, and that the court case “has stopped being judicial and became completely political, with the sole aim to corner Turkey and its economy.”


  • Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new president of Zimbabwe, appointed senior military officials to cabinet positions. The army removed long-term autocrat Robert Mugabe from power in mid-November, in a bid to ensure its continued authority in running the country. Henning Melber, a professor in political science at the University of Pretoria, told WikiTribune in November that in Zimbabwe, “continuity rather than change will be the guiding principle.” (Read more: After Mugabe, continuity is the “guiding principle” for Zimbabwe’s military.)
  • Eight former Catalan cabinet ministers, currently in custody awaiting trial for their part in Catalonia’s illegal push for independence, appeared before a Spanish Supreme Court judge on Friday. They requested their release ahead of the regional elections on December 21 to be able to campaign freely. “The most transcendental electoral campaign in the democratic history of Catalonia” depends on the judgment, says Spanish online newspaper The publication says the judge will announce the verdict early on December 4.
    • The eight ministers were taken into custody on November 2 on charges including rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for their part in Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence on October 27. The charge of rebellion carries up to 30 years in prison under Spanish law. The national government in Madrid took the unprecedented step of temporarily dissolving the Catalonia’s semi-autonomous status, sacking its government and calling for early regional elections in response to the Catalan government’s declaration of independence. (Read more: Big Read: Catalonia crisis splits families and friends here.)

WikiTribune special

We hope you’ll enjoy a series of stories by WikiTribune reporter Harry Ridgewell, who’s looked at the growth in fact checking driven by the “fake news” debate. He’s interviewed the New Yorker’s doyen, looked at the revival of the art, and offers guides on how to spot misinformation or disinformation in images and text. Add to the stories or TALK about them.

What we’re reading

  • A very interesting piece on how mobile phone dating apps may be linked to high HIV infection rates in Pakistan. Guardian reporters based in Islamabad investigate how the spread of technology has led to an increase in HIV infections among young people in Pakistan due to looking for lovers online. – Lydia Morrish
  • Calling on all football lovers: the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup draw takes place in Moscow at 18:00 local time. Here’s a handy team-by-team guide published by The Guardian, written by local journalists, that briefly looks at how each of the 32 teams is faring in the lead-up to the world’s most popular single-sport competition. – George Engels

What the WikiTribune community’s up to

  • An explainer on the net neutrality debate started by community member Eric Fershtman has generated community discussion and input. It continues to be updated with new information.
  • Community member Vlad Bourceanu closes WikiTribune’s package of stories on the centenary of the Russian revolution with an essay on the life and artistic trials of the composer Shostakovich and what this says about life in the Soviet Union.
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