China abolishes presidential term limits; Bump stock ban submitted

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  • China removes term limits – China will remove of term limits for its leader, Xi Jinping. The change is part of a raft of changes to the country’s constitution which is expected to pass. China has imposed a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s.

  • “Bump stock” ban submitted – The U.S. Department of Justice submitted a regulation to ban “bump stocks,” which modifies high-capacity rifles to let them fire like an automatic weapon. President Donald Trump directed the department to submit the change. It must now be approved by the Office of Management and Budget.
    • The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed suit against Florida after it passed a gun control law in the wake of a school shooting in the state that killed 17 people. Governor Rick Scott, enacted the bill.  which raises the legal age for buying rifles in Florida, but also allows the training and arming of school staff. However, the NRA says the law violates the constitution. One of the organisation’s arguments is that the new law impinges on the rights of young women as they are unlikely to commit violent crime.

  • Reports of Syrian forces cut off rebel held town – The Syrian army has cut off the biggest town in Eastern Ghouta, as part of efforts to take back the rebel-held enclave. The BBC reports that government troops have cut off the town of Douma, and isolated another, according to UK-based conflict monitors the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). However, a spokesperson for rebel group, Jaish al-Islam, denied this to Reuters.

  • U.S. says Kim won’t test missiles until after meeting – President Donald J. Trump announced that he’s willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in person without preconditions. However, later the White House said Trump would not meet unless Pyongyang took “concrete actions,” but did not specify what those might be. On Saturday he said on Twitter that Kim had agreed not to test missiles until after the proposed meetings. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that the goal of the meeting is denuclearizing the peninsula. The proposal followed discussions between delegations from North and South Korea, in the wake of the successful Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang. The rapprochement was announced by South Korean national security adviser, Chung Eui-yung (Washington Post).
  • Investigators identify 200 witnesses in Russian poisoning incident – British police identified more than 200 witnesses in their investigation into a nerve agent attack on a former Russian agent. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said the UK government has provided no concrete evidence that the Kremlin was behind an assassination attempt of a double agent in Salisbury on Sunday. He also referred to threats of possible British retribution as “propaganda” and that official channels are the only way a serious conversation can happen. British police announced that 21 people have been treated for exposure to a chemical nerve agent aimed at killing Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer who also spied on behalf of the UK. (The Guardian). (Read more from WikiTribune on this story.) 
    • Britain deployed 180 soldiers including chemicals experts to Salisbury to clear the town of potentially contaminated objects. Police said that the public should not be alarmed and Home Secretary Amber Rudd gave a statement in which she said Sergei and Yulia Skripal are still in a very serious condition.
  • “Pharma bro” sentenced –former drug firm executive was sentenced to seven years in prison after he was found guilty of defrauding investors. Martin Shkreli, 34, was convicted last year of sending fake account statements to investors while concealing huge losses from two hedge funds he ran. Shkreli became known as Pharma Bro after he first became notorious in 2015 for hiking the price of a lifesaving drug.
  • Five Star negotiates Italian government deal – Five Star movement leader Luigi Di Maio said his party is drafting an economic plan with the goal of wooing other political parties who are skeptical of their anti-establishment agenda. Five Star won the most seats in parliament in Sunday’s Italian election, but needs to form a coalition in order to lead a government. (Read more from WikiTribune.)
  • UN official suggests that Duterte is mentally unstable – The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte may need a “psychiatric examination.” The personal attack comes after Duterte wanted at least six of his critics, including a UN investigator, designated as terrorists.

What we’re reading

  • “Overblown” is how this Politico op-ed described news of Gary Cohn resigning from Trump’s economic team. While an accomplished investment banker, the role of economic advisors is exaggerated, as they have no decision-making power, argues columnist Zachary Karabell. – Charlie Turner

What the WikiTribune community is up to

  • Investigating whether video games lead to violence in real life, President Trump calls for an examination into possible links in light of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month. WikiTribune is investigating this line of argument, which can be traced back to the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Offer your suggestions in this WikiProject

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