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Curated top stories of the day
- Deadline passes on toxin explanation – UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the “only conclusion” was that the Russian state deserved blame for the attempted murder of the Skripals. She announced that 23 Russian diplomats in the UK will have one week to leave, and said Russian state assets should be frozen, during Prime Minister’s Questions on March 14. The UK will brief the UN Security Council on the poisoning of a former double agent from Russia and his daughter later today, according to the Foreign Office, after Russia didn’t respond to Britain’s Tuesday midnight deadline to explain allegations that it was behind the killing. British Prime Minister Theresa May had told Russia to respond to her comments that it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter with novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military. Russia denied any involvement and said it would not respond to May’s deadline until it received samples of the nerve agent. (See other WikiTribune coverage of this story.)
- Pennsylvania race too close to call – The Pennsylvania election between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone is too close to call. However, Lamb has declared victory with a lead of just 579 votes. President Donald J. Trump won the state by 20 percentage points in the 2016 election. The special election is viewed as a test for Republicans ahead of November’s mid-term elections.
- Stephen Hawking dies – Famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. His work ranged from the origins of the universe to the mysteries of black holes. The Briton wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time. Hawking was confined to a wheelchair for most of his life after being diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 21. At the time doctors only gave him two years to live. (See WikiTribune‘s story for more.)
- Philippines to withdraw from International Criminal Court – After the ICC began examining President Rodrigo Duterte in February for police killings of 4,000 drug suspects, Duterte said he planned to leave the organization. Rights groups say the actual figure could be much higher. Duterte said: “The acts allegedly committed by me are neither genocide nor war crimes. The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operations lacked the intent to kill.” However, Duterte who was elected in June 2016 on an anti-drugs platform, has publicly encouraged (The Guardian) civilians to kill drug addicts and said he would not prosecute police for killings which weren’t legally authorized.
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- Wealthy Russians have long valued the City of London as a “safe haven” for their money. This gives the UK government a potentially powerful weapon as it considers responses to a nerve agent attack on a former spy in south-west England, according to sanctions experts. They told WikiTribune that London’s financial clout could be turned against rich Russians, though that would also be costly for the UK.
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- President Donald J. Trump’s move to block the takeover of chipmaker Qualcomm by Singapore-based Broadcom marks a rare instance in which a U.S. president has intervened to prevent the foreign acquisition of an American firm. Help WikiTribune report on what Trump’s block in Qualcomm vs Broadcom means for the race over 5G.
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- The departure of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson adds to a long line of people at the White House who have either been forced or voluntarily left their posts. This interactive story from the Washington Post lays them all out — starting in January 2017 with the firing of acting attorney general Sally Yates. — Charles Anderson
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