Koreas agree on military talks; 'Thousands arrested' during Iran's protests

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South Korean soldiers stand guard at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Korea Pool
South Korean soldiers stand guard at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Korea Pool
  • The Qatar-owned network Al Jazeera reported an Iranian lawmaker saying around 3,700 people were arrested during protests in Iran. The numbers are significantly higher than the 450 announced by the authorities via the official news site of the Iranian parliament, icana.ir. A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department put the figures around at least 1,000.
    • Iran’s protests started on December 28 and were initially about economic hardship, but quickly took a political turn. The government started restricting social media apps such as Telegram to quell the unrest. Iranian authorities say the protests are shrinking. Violence broke out during the unrest and at least 22 people have been killed. (Read more of our coverage of Iran here).
  • President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon resigned as the chief executive of the Breitbart News Network, a far-right website that he led since 2012. The decision came after Bannon was quoted as calling Donald Trump Jr. “unpatriotic” and “treasonous” for meeting with Russian officials during the campaign. The quotes were included in Michael Wolff’s book titled ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.‘ (Read More on the book that claims to cover the beginnings of the Trump Administration).
    • Trump hit back against Bannon for his remarks (CNN), which greatly hurt Bannon’s work as a right-wing activist. Breitbart CEO Larry Solov thanked Bannon in a brief official statement.
  • North and South Korea have agreed to military talks after engaging in formal dialogue on their fractured ties. Pyongyang has agreed to send a delegation to February’s Winter Olympics in the South. However, North Korea said the military talks will not involve discussions of nuclear arms because they were aimed only at the United States. Pyongyang’s chief negotiator Ri Son Gwon said “All our weapons including atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, nor China and Russia.” A significant meeting in the border village of Panmunjom was the first in two years and came on the heels of tit-for-tat foreign diplomacy between leaders in Pyongyang and Washington, and a series of missile launches.
    • In response to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, U.S. officials are considering how they might launch a military strike against the country without provoking an “all-out” war, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • U.S. President Donald J. Trump proposed a loose plan that could ultimately allow undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” to remain in the U.S. Dreamers are people who illegally came to the U.S. as minors and were granted temporary legal status under President Obama’s Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Trump ended DACA, starting a contentious issue about the future of the roughly 700,000 immigrants who filed under the Obama-era policy.
September 2017: Protest outside of Trump Tower, NY on preserving the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program. Photo Credit: Rhododendrites on Wikicommons
  • Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno wants to mediate a solution that will end Julian Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange has lived in the London embassy for five years where he continues to lead Wikileaks, a controversial site that publishes government documents in the name of press freedom. He fears being extradited to the United States for his role in publishing U.S. military classified documents in 2013. Moreno says he will not revoke Assange’s asylum status but is interested in finding a third-party country for him.
  • Australia officially allowed same-sex couples to marry on Tuesday; many couples exchanged vows just after midnight as the country’s last legal impediment to gay marriage expired. The parliament in Canberra had voted to legalize same-sex marriage in December, becoming the 26th nation to do so, after a postal survey found widespread public support.
  • The special counsel investigating allegations of ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign is interested in speaking to the president, according to media reports. Robert Mueller’s investigators raised the issue with Trump’s lawyers, The Associated Press reported, citing a source it did not identify. No other details of the scope of the questioning were identified by the AP or The New York Times, which also reported the request, citing sources. Mueller’s team has been investigating whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Four of Trump’s aides already face charges (New York Times).
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting China this week, reports the Financial Times (may be behind paywall). There have been talks between the two countries on cooperating on issues such as climate change and terrorism. Although Macron gave Chinese president Xi Jinping a horse as a gift, the Financial Times says there is still friction between the two states.

What we’re reading

  • Venture capitalists in the United States poured $84 billion into U.S. startups in 2017, a figure not seen since the dot-com boom era of the 1990s, according to GeekWire, an American technology website based in Seattle. GeekWire said it combed through a report released on Monday by Pitchbook, a venture capital data researcher and the National Venture Capital Association, and found the money was pushed into 8,035 companies. The biggest chunk was reserved for large privately-held companies such as Uber and Airbnb that already are valued at billions. – Jodie DeJonge
  • After 16 years and more than $1 trillion, this Guardian piece argues western intervention has resulted in Afghanistan becoming the world’s first true narco-state. “Washington’s massive military juggernaut has been stopped in its steel tracks by a small pink flower – the opium poppy,” Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alfred W McCoy, writes. “Throughout its three decades in Afghanistan, Washington’s military operations have succeeded only when they fit reasonably comfortably into central Asia’s illicit traffic in opium – and suffered when they failed to complement it.” In this piece, McCoy outlines how the heroin trade explains the US-UK failure in Afghanistan. – Charles Anderson
  • A new report from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released on Monday shows there were 16 billion-dollar disasters in 2017, reports Mashable. The figures show that weather and climate events, such as wildfires and hurricanes, suffered by the U.S. last year cost a total of $306 billion in destruction. – Ella Navarro
  • As the uprising of opposition to systemic sexual harassment in multiple industries continued at the 75th Golden Globes on Sunday, I refreshed my piece on how power is at the root of abuse, which also assesses whether this apparent tectonic shift in attitudes is a catalyst for real change. – Lydia Morrish

What the WikiTribune community’s up to

  • Contribute to the story about former Google employee James Damore, who is suing the company, alleging that Google discriminates against politically conservative white men.
  • Malaysia’s former leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad celebrated his 92nd birthday in 2017, holding the record for serving as prime minister – 22 years, from 1981 to 2003. However he is not enjoying a peaceful retirement: as the BBC reports, he hopes to return to the national stage, and has been put forward as a candidate for elections to be held in 2018. WikiTribune editor Angela Long has published an emerging story and we’d encourage you to take part.
  • Controversial British journalist Toby Young stepped down from his role on the board of new university regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), after criticism of comments on Twitter and in columns that included repeated references to women’s breasts and comments about disabled people. Take part in the story that WikiTribune journalist Lydia Morrish started.
  • A coalition of around 200 German institutions and libraries is boycotting the academic publishing house Elsevier in an attempt to secure open access and fair pricing. In this storyWikiTribune community member  has outlined Projekt DEAL, a spontaneous grouping of universities, universities of applied science, research institutes, and state libraries is seeking to negotiate nationwide licensing agreements with three major academic publishers for their entire e‑journal portfolios.

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