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Curated top stories of the day
- Murder inquiry into Russian’s London death – UK police launched a murder investigation into the death of Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov after he was found dead at his home in New Malden, south London on March 12. Police said in a statement that he died from “compression to the neck” but there was no evidence at this stage to suggest a link to the attempted murders of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury on March 4.
- Putin likely ordered poisoning: UK foreign secretary – Three days before the presidential election expected to be won easily by Vladimir Putin, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Vladimir Putin was directly behind the poisoning with a nerve agent of a former Russian double agent in an English city (The New York Times). Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded by saying that blaming Putin for the attack was “shocking and unforgivable in terms of diplomatic behavior” (Washington Post). This follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats from the UK. The Kremlin is expected to kick out British diplomats in response.
- The standoff follows May’s accusations that Putin orchestrated the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4. The Kremlin denies any wrongdoing and Putin, who is set to win a fourth presidential term on Sunday, told a BBC reporter to find out what really happened. The leaders of France, Germany, the United States, and the UK issued a joint statement on March 15 condemning the Russian state for its alleged involvement in the attempted murders.
- Read WikiTribune‘s other coverage of this story: Russia changes the rules of warfare, perfecting “hybrid war,” Who is Sergei Skripal, target of the nerve agent attack in Britain, Nerve agent attack would be new chapter in Kremlin playbook, What is novichok, the nerve agent blamed for British attack?
- Up to 50,000 people flee in Syria – Tens of thousands of Syrian civilians fled from besieged areas at opposite ends of the country over the last few days. At least 20,000 people left Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of capital Damascus in southern Syria as government forces, backed by Russia, captured a town on the edge of the region, according to state media reports. The Syrian ambassador to the United Nations estimated that up to 40,000 people left Eastern Ghouta on Thursday alone, but the BBC reported this number could not be verified. In the north, Kurdish YPG militia, backed by the U.S., defended the town of Afrin against advancing Turkish forces, causing thousands more to flee. This week marks seven years since the Syrian civil war began; a conflict in which half a million people have been killed and more than 11 million driven from their homes.
- Trump signs diplomatic agreement with Taiwan – President Donald J. Trump signed legislation that allows all U.S. government officials to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts. The bill is significant because the U.S. does not officially recognize Taiwan though has offered it military protection from it’s hostile Chinese neighbor. Beijing sees Taiwan as a province of China.
- EU leaders considering new Iran sanction to appease Trump – Reuters reports that Britain, France and Germany drafted a document that proposes new sanctions against Iran in attempts to keep the United States in the Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald J. Trump threatens to abandon. The proposed sanctions center on Iran’s ballistic missiles, which were not part of the nuclear agreement. The Trump administration says that these missiles are used to destabilize the region, Yemen and Syria in particular. The document advocates for increasing sanctions on individuals associated with the military and militias.
- Hong Kong’s richest man retires – Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing announced he would be stepping down as chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset (South China Morning Post). The rags-to-riches business magnate, whose fortune was estimated at $37.7 billion in January 2018, was born in mainland China and moved to Hong Kong at the age of 12 (FT – may be behind paywall). Li built a business empire from scratch with a portfolio that ranges from construction to banking and beauty retailers. He said he will hand over the company’s reins to his son, Victor Li, and dedicate himself to philanthropic pursuits.
- Florida bridge collapse leaves four dead – Four people died after a newly-erected pedestrian bridge collapsed at Florida International University on Thursday. The 174-feet (53-meter) long bridge was installed on Saturday in six hours using new technology. The office of Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a statement saying a company contracted to inspect the bridge was not pre-qualified by the state.
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- In a nondescript industrial estate north of London, a privately run detention center has become a focal point for the European migration crisis. WikiTribune goes to the center to speak to those that say their detention there has been “degrading”, “abusive,” and “hellish.” Campaigners ask whether this is the best way to regulate immigration or just another failed stop gap.
- It was the worst recorded U.S. war crime committed in Vietnam. More than 500 people, nearly all civilians, were shot or burned to death in a U.S. attack on a number of small villages in the Son My area of Vietnam’s central highlands. Help add any relevant information or background to WikiTribune’s piece marking the 50th anniversary of the massacre.
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- How about starting some hyperlocal coverage? This could be local stories on issues that impact you and your neighbors, but might not matter to the town, or even the neighborhood next door. This WikiProject seeks to develop hyperlocal reportage from community members.
What we’re reading and watching
- Acapulco is on the front line of gang violence with the 2017 national murder rate at an all-time high. Residents live in fear and shopkeepers are forced to pay extortion money. This video report from the Financial Times outlines the situation from the victims to the perpetrators. – Charles Anderson
- This on-the-ground investigation from the New York Times reveals that the U.S.-led battle against ISIS – hailed as the most precise air campaign in history – is killing far more Iraqi civilians than the coalition has acknowledged. – Charles Anderson
- “When we decided to devote our April magazine to the topic of race, we thought we should examine our own history before turning our reportorial gaze to others,” National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg wrote in the editor’s letter of the magazine’s new “Race Issue“. The New Yorker looks at this rare, and brave, admission of the magazine to face its own controversial history in order to tackle the subject. Doreen St Félix writes that the issue is well-intentioned but misses the mark. – Lydia Morrish
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