Briefing: Trump brinksmanship on budget, Kim Jong-un on missiles

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  • In Myanmar, at least five police officers and seven Rohingya insurgents were killed during clashes in Rakhine State, a western province of the country.
  • President Donald J. Trump turned up the rhetoric on provoking a shutdown of the U.S. government to push his campaign agenda to build a wall with Mexico and turned on his political partners threatening to blame the “mess” on them.
  • Speaking of upping the ante, North Korea, released new pictures of leader Kim Jong-un which appeared to show him with designs for a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • Wikileaks released a new batch of secrets it says are part of a CIA toolkit used to monitor other security agencies in the United States. Release of the latest leaks coincided with a guest comment by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the Washington Post in which he criticised attempts to brand what he called a media organization a “non-state hostile intelligence service”.


  • India’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that personal privacy is a fundamental right for the country’s citizens in a landmark ruling. This is a major setback to the Narendra Modi-led government, which previously argued people don’t have a right to privacy.
  • A peer-reviewed Harvard University study of oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil found the company’s advertisements were misleading about climate change. Though, the study found, the company acknowledged the dangers of climate change internally, ExxonMobil’s advertorials emphasised uncertainties and “promoted a narrative inconsistent” with climate scientists’ views.
  • Global financial markets were unsettled by fresh rhetoric from President Donald J. Trump tying the possibility of a shutdown of the U.S. government to his plans for a wall with Mexico.
  • Russia sent nuclear-capable bombers on missions near the Korean Peninsula in what appeared to be a ratcheting up of its engagement in the area.
  • As reported by the Guardian, Russia is preparing what could be its biggest military exercise since the Cold War. Russian troops have started arriving in Belarus and Kalliningrad ahead of a demonstration on NATO’s doorstep including 100,000 troops next month.
  • Brazil opened up an area of protected rainforest — said to be the size of Denmark — to mining. WikiTribune reports on the importance of tropical forests to medical discoveries.
  • Venezuela’s exiled attorney general says she has evidence of corruption in the Maduro regime as the country slips further into crisis. WikiTribune reports on the prospect of Venezuela becoming “the next Libya”.

What we’re reading and watching:

  • Nikkei Asian Review explains possible reasons for why populism has never penetrated political discourse in Japan, despite the country facing similar “economic malaise” as the rest of the country.
  • The Financial Times extends a long-running investigation into the funding of so-called Islamic State with fresh reporting on the organization moving currency and assets out of Iraq and Syria as its physical presence is threatened. [These links may be behind the paywall.]
  • The New Yorker carries a detailed interview with and investigation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from his sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The report raises important questions about Russia’s links to some of the leaks.
  • Reuters reports that The White House is to send a memo to the Pentagon on Trump’s transgender military ban. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is to consider the “deployability” of those who can serve in war zones.
  • An interesting piece in Harper’s magazine on women in the Alt-Right which offers one of the clearest explanations of what the movement is: an internet phenomenon which attracts neo-Nazis, white nationalists, paleo-conservatives, and Men’s Rights Activists. And how women who are dissatisfied with modern, liberal western society are managing to carve a niche in the movement.
  • Jon Snow, a British broadcaster and veteran journalist,  spoke and wrote in the Guardian about the lack of diversity in the mainstream media and “dangerous” lack of connection between the “elite” and those not of the elite. His words are prompted by coverage of the Grenfell Tower Fire, in which at least 80 died when a public housing tower block caught fire after evidently sub-standard repairs.
    – More on Grenfell Tower from the New York Times.

– Peter Bale is the launch editor of WikiTribune. He is a former Reuters news agency correspondent and has held senior roles in news organisations from CNN to The Times and investigative news service, The Center for Public Integrity

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