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Curated top stories of the day
- Syria’s Ghouta suffers “worst day” in three years – The civilian death toll in Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel-held area of Syria, rose to nearly 200 since February 18 according to UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 49 people were killed in Ghouta on February 20, after 127 deaths there on February 19, the heaviest death toll there in one day for three years. Syria’s government increased a campaign to take the area, which lies just outside Damascus, on February 5.
- In northern Syria, pro-government militia groups have entered Kurdish-held Afrin, which is under attack from Turkish forces, according to Syrian state TV reports carried by AP. On February 19, Turkey warned Syria against supporting the Kurdish YPG, which it considers to be terrorists. (Read the WikiTribune story: Syrian Kurds turn to Assad to resist Turkish forces.)
- Trump wants to explore background gun checks – The White House says U.S. President Donald J. Trump is interested in working on a bipartisan bill to improve federal background checks for gun purchases. The announcement from spokeswoman Sarah Sanders comes days after a 19-year-old shot and killed 17 people at a Florida school. Trump met with Republican Senator John Cornyn on Friday about the bill that Cornyn and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks.
Fujimori ordered to stand trial – Peru’s National Criminal Court ordered ex-President Alberto Fujimori to stand trial for the 1992 killings of six farmers by paramilitary members. Fujimori, 79, was released from prison just over a month ago where he was serving 25 years for human rights abuses and corruption. He was pardoned for health reasons but the court says this does not apply to the new case. Fujimori says he is innocent of the killings, which occurred while he was president, and he will appeal against the court’s ruling.
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- Plastic in most fish – Irish scientists have found overwhelming evidence of the presence of plastic waste in marine life, according to state broadcaster RTE. The researchers, from NUI Galway, say this is one of the highest frequencies of microplastics recorded in fish anywhere in the world. From a research vessel they tested 233 different fish and found microplastics – typically from consumer products – in 73 percent of them. Read this report on the research here.
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- The General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25 with the intention of giving EU citizens more control of their information, making it the biggest shake-up in privacy rules since the birth of the internet. Businesses that deal with personal data will eventually have to overhaul the way they operate. We want to explore what this means for data privacy: will it help or hurt citizens? Help report this WikiProject here.
What we’re reading
Mosul is still digging out its dead six months after the defeat of ISIS. An estimated 10,000 people were killed in the nine-month-long battle to recapture Iraq’s second-largest city from ISIS, according to Mosul’s municipality chief. However, that number isn’t acknowledged by Iraqi forces or the United States military, which claims coalition airstrikes killed around 300 people in Mosul. Here CNN revisits the site of the battle to discover those civilians that were caught in the crossfire. – Charles Anderson
- Wondering about your prospects at work? Check out the geography of your desk. And if your job is in AI, it could be in close proximity to the boss. This New York Times piece charts the moves of the furniture at Google: last year, the Google Brain team of mathematicians, coders and hardware engineers were far from the center of the action. Now, they sit right beside CEO Sunny Pichai and other leaders. “It’s a very significant statement,” says Alphabet board member Diane Greene. – Angela Long
- Researchers have built an online game in which players take on the role of a “fake news-monger,” where they tweet lies to gain Twitter followers. As reported in this Guardian piece, the game, called Bad News, is designed to educate people about recognizing “fake news.” Play the game by clicking here. – Harry Ridgewell
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