Irish hitch on Brexit deal; Ex-Yemen president killed by Houthis

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  • A somewhat predictable hitch on the issue of cross-border traffic on the island of Ireland threw an expected deal allowing Britain to enter the next phase of Brexit talks into doubt, Reuters reported. Ireland declined late in the talks to approve this phase despite earlier reports that a deal was done. British and EU officials suggested further talks this week could unblock agreement on the border issue which in turn would allow the EU and Britain to enter a second level of talks. (Read earlier report: Could Ireland stop Brexit in its tracks?).
  • 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.
  • Yemeni former long-time president Ali Abdullah Saleh was shot dead by formerly-allied Houthi fighters following a firefight that erupted while he was trying to escape the country’s capital, Sanaa. Saleh’s killing comes only two days after he switched sides in Yemen’s civil war, from aligning with Iran-backed Houthis to announcing he was ready for a “new page” with the Saudi-led coalition.
    • Saleh’s change of allegiance following days of bombings and heavy gunfire in Sanaa was thought to signal an end to three years of civil war in Yemen, Reuters reported. Street battles had seemingly 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 regional vice-president of Catalonia and three other separatist leaders. The four face potential charges, including sedition for their part in the Spanish constitutional crisis. A bail of €100,000 was set for another six former separatist ministers, also facing several charges. All had supported a controversial independence referendum law, held on October 1, that was suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court. In Belgium, former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers will have to wait until December 14 for a Belgian judge to rule on whether the five should be extradited to Spain to face rebellion charges, according to Sky News.
  • 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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