Irish border issue compromise in Brexit talks; Yemen power shift; Catalan VP refused bail

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  • The UK has agreed a compromise with the EU and Ireland that negotiators hope will settle an issue that had threatened to block progress on Brexit discussions, according to Irish state broadcaster RTE and the Guardian. A draft agreement states that there will be “continued regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, meaning there will be no need for a hard border between the countries. This was a key position held by the Irish government ahead of a summit to approve the progress made so far in Brexit negotiations (Read earlier report: Could Ireland stop Brexit in its tracks?). UK Prime Minister Theresa May is meeting European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in an effort to push ahead on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which has been stymied as the March 2019 deadline pushes ever closer.
    • A new opinion poll for newspaper The Mail on Sunday  found half of those surveyed support a second vote on Brexit after learning the UK would have to pay about €50 billion ($59 billion) to the EU before trade negotiations begin. Since the 2016 referendum, opponents of Britain’s exit have urged a reversal.
  • A power shift in Yemen in the midst of days of bombings and heavy gunfire in Sanaa, the capital, could signal the end to three years of war, Reuters reported. Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he was ready to turn a “new page” in his rebel alliance with Houthi groups. Street battles have marked a turning point after a months-long political and military stalemate in a civil war that has created a humanitarian catastrophe.
  • A Madrid court has denied bail to the former vice-president of Catalonia and three other pro-independence campaigners according to Reuters, which cited a court source. The four were charged with sedition by the Spanish government, along with six former Catalan cabinet ministers. However the other six were released on bail. All had supported an unauthorised independence referendum, held on October 1. In Belgium, former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont will appear in court today, for a hearing on his extradition to Spain.
  • Days after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States’ mainland, the U.S. and South Korea launched joint aerial drills involving hundreds of planes, including stealth fighters. According to North Korea state media, Pyongyang warned the exercise would push tensions toward a “flare-up” and be met with retaliation.
    • An Associated Press review of North Korea’s views as reflected in more than 1,500 stories filed by KCNA, the government’s English-language news service, found nuclear war and leader Kim Jong Un were the dominant themes. The AP posted a word cloud of what it described as the propaganda in the nation’s rhetorical wars with Washington.
  • Maltese police investigating the murder of  journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia arrested ten people. A bomb under Caruana Galizia’s car exploded while she was driving on October 16. She was known for investigating corruption, including her involvement in the Panama Papers investigations.
  • Broadcaster 21st Century Fox re-opened talks (Guardian report) to sell parts of its entertainment and international assets to Walt Disney Inc. in a deal that could rise to $50 billion. Fox is one wing of Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire, and is currently the third-biggest media group in the U.S. The deal would see 39% of Fox’s European offering, Sky, pass over to Disney, according to the FT (paywalled).

What we’re reading

  • The FT  provides a breakdown of Russia’s upcoming elections, with profiles of the candidates and previous election results. With the assumption that Putin will remain in power seemingly a safe one, the paper asks what to expect from his next term.
  • The Guardian carries a series of dispatches from Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been held in the Manus detention center in Papua New Guinea. His letters tell of beatings and threats as the situation on the island, an “off-shore” facility for Australia, approaches a humanitarian crisis.

What the WikiTribune community’s up to

Community member Eric Fershtman’s useful guide to what’s happening about net neutrality rules in the U.S. has been attracting discussion. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the link.

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