Briefing: Earthquake hits Mexico, Hurricane Maria rumbles on, U.S. healthcare back on agenda

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  • U.S. President Donald J. Trump has said he has decided whether the U.S. will remain in the 2015 Iran nuclear pact but declined to reveal his position. Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, has responded to Trump’s criticisms about the nuclear deal. He has said “the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement.” Trump must decide by Oct. 15 whether to confirm if Iran is complying with the nuclear deal as he’s required to do so every 90 days.


  • Saudi Arabia says it will lift its ban on online phone calls, including Skype, Whatsapp and Facebook at midnight tonight. Like many of its neighbours, the gulf state strictly controls online communications to make them easier to monitor. The policy is being eased to boost online business as Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its economy.
  • Kenya’s Supreme Court has said it based its decision to annul the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta on the country’s electoral commission not complying with their order (IEBC). Deputy Chief Justice, Philomena Mwilu, said the IEBC did not verify the presidential results before they were announced and that the IEBC refusing to grant access to its electronic voting system led the court to “accept claims by the opposition that the computer system had been infiltrated.” The IEBC has disputed this.
  • The U.S. will donate $32 million to Rohingya refugees, according to the State Department. The announcement comes a day after Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed told Reuters that she did not expect help from President Trump’s administration as her country struggles to accommodate most of the 400,000 Rohingya who have been forced to flee Myanmar due to government-led persecution.


  • Several world leaders have condemned President Donald J. Trump’s fiery rhetoric at the U.N. General Assembly. He called for a “great reawakening of nations” and warned that the U.S. was prepared to “totally destroy” North Korea if forced. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted that this “ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times.” Swedish, Venezuelan and Bolivian leaders were also openly critical, though the speech was welcomed by South Korea and Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu. Full story
  • Spanish police have raided regional government offices in Catalonia and arrested 14 people including the province’s junior economy minister. Spanish outlet El Pais reports that tensions are high ahead of Catalonia planned independence referendum on October 1, which Madrid has called illegal.
  • British police have made three new arrests in relation to last week’s terrorist attack on a London underground tube. A 25-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday evening, followed by a 30-year-old and a 41-yea-old in the early hours of Wednesday. The arrests took place in Newport, a town in South Wales. Five people in total have been detained in relation to the attack.


  • A massive earthquake struck central Mexico on Tuesday killing at least 217 people. The 7.1 magnitude quake came less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country’s south. At least 26 children are dead and 30 are missing after a school in Mexico City collapsed. The quake toppled scores of buildings and sent thousands fleeing into the streets.
  • Hurricane Maria has killed at least one person and brought widespread damage to some Caribbean islands. The category five storm did subside for a time before regaining power and blowing maximum sustained winds of 165mph (265km/h). The storm is moving roughly along the same track as Irma, this season’s other category five hurricane. At least one person was killed and two others are missing in Guadeloupe.
  • Top U.S Senate Republicans and Trump administration officials are again looking for legislative action to formally dismantle Obamacare but time is running out on getting the votes they need. The latest attempt would see the 2010 landmark healthcare law dismantled however there is only 12 days left of the fiscal year. After this it will become more difficult as Republicans will need 60 votes rather than a 51 vote majority.

What we are watching and reading

  • As more United States Senators are supporting the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA), a bill that increases accountability for websites that facilitate the sale of sex, the tech industry continues to voice strong opposition to the legislation. An op-ed in New Republic offers a pragmatic case against SESTA, explaining how the bill would drastically alter online sharing platforms as we know them. The other side of the debate is fiercely articulated in an op-ed piece penned by Nicholas Kristoff from The New York Times.
  • For decades, “abnormal” embryos were thrown away during the IVF process. Then some pioneering doctors, and patients, decided to use them anyway. This report from New York Magazine’s, The Cut, outlines a new last chance for women who thought they had reached the end of the road in fertility treatment.
  • For rich countries, prolonged loss of electricity is a low-probability event but the scale of the potential impact is overwhelming. This Economist report lays out the scenario if the United States suddenly lost its power.
  • Behind the scenes, Facebook is involved in high-stakes diplomatic battles across the globe that have begun fragmenting the internet itself. This short documentary from the New York Times shows the effects of Facebook’s penetration and the reality that it is creating based on an algorithm.
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