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Curated top stories of the day
- Passengers feared dead – All 65 passengers and crew aboard a domestic flight in Iran are feared dead after the aircraft crashed in bad weather. The Aseman-operated plane crashed near the town of Semirom after taking off from Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, an emergency services spokesman told ISNA news agency. All people onboard had likely died, an airline spokesman said.
- Students rally against guns – Student who survived a mass shooting at their Florida school that killed 17 people called for gun restrictions at a protest on Saturday. More demonstrations are planned across the country in the weeks ahead. Fabiana Corsa, a Florida high school student who attended the Fort Lauderdale gathering, said legislators were “sacrificing students” in order to get money from the National Rifle Association. Police said Nikolas Cruz, 19, was armed with an AR-15-style rifle when he carried out the attack. Cruz legally purchased the murder weapon from a licensed dealer.
President Donald Trump criticized the FBI for not acting on a tip off about the shooter allegedly responsible for Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida. The agency was “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign,” Trump tweeted. “There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud.”
- Syria ‘uses chemical weapons’ – Despite his denials, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is using chemical weapons, U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Saturday. “Public accounts and photos clearly show that Assad’s chemical weapons use is continuing,” McMaster said at the Munich Security Conference. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons and said it targets only armed rebels and militants.
- Syrian Kurdish forces and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Turkish military likely carried out a gas attack that wounded six people in Syria’s Afrin region on Friday. “It’s just a fabricated story. Turkey has never uses any kind of chemical weapons,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in response.
- Quake hits Mexico – A 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit south-western Mexico on Friday, leaving nearly a million homes and businesses without power. The only deaths were reported after a military helicopter which was surveying the quake’s effects crashed. At least 13 people on the ground were killed, including three children. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that there was no tsunami threat.
- Suicide bombers in Nigeria – Three suicide bombers killed 18 people in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Russians indicted for election meddling – A U.S Grand Jury indicted 13 Russian nationals for allegedly using money to influence federal elections. The 37-page indictment, filed by the office FBI special prosecutor Robert Mueller, also claims that the defendants impersonated American citizens to create social media accounts aimed at sowing discord in U.S. politics. The Internet Research Agency LLC, which the 13 defendants are affiliated with, was cited as the Russian organization that organized much of scheme. The defendants do not live in the U.S., making their arrest unlikely. (New York Times). Help WikiTribune report on the latest developments here.
- Oxfam to set up independent commission – After allegations of sexual misconduct in Haiti, British charity Oxfam said it will create an independent commission to review its practices. Last week, The Times reported that some Oxfam staff paid for sex with prostitutes while delivering aid in the Caribbean country that was rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed an estimated 220,000 people in 2010. (Read further WikiTribune coverage of the scandal here.)
Deputy calls out prime minister – Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce called the nation’s leader, Malcolm Turnbull, “inept” and “unnecessary” in his remarks after it was revealed that Joyce engaged in an affair with a former staffer. Joyce’s comments put tension on the country’s coalition, with the opposition Labor party saying the Liberal-Nationals alliance was “in crisis.” On Thursday, Turnbull said Joyce had made a “shocking error” over his affair with a former staffer – saying it had set off a “world of woe” for Joyce’s family. It prompted Turnbull to officially ban sex between ministers and their staff.
100,000 orangutans dead – Borneo’s deforestation, driven by logging, palm oil, mining, and paper mills is responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 critically endangered orangutans over the last 16 years. New research, published in the journal Current Biology, shows that the animals are also targeted by hunters and being killed in retaliation for crop-raiding.
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- Legal issues in bringing Islamic State group to justice – The capture of two Islamic State group fighters who were among the terror group’s most high-profile Western recruits has sparked a debate over who holds responsibility for combatants who allied themselves to a “state” that never existed. WikiTribune’s Jack Barton reports on how countries are dealing with the legal issues raised by holding terrorists to account.
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What we’re reading
- Increasingly, New Zealand is gaining a reputation as a place where Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse. In this deeply reported piece for the Guardian, Mark O’Connell delves into the curious philosophies driving these people to the South Pacific, especially one called Peter Thiel, who became a citizen after spending only 12 days in New Zealand. – Charles Anderson
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