Trump sacks Tillerson; Russia on spy attack deadline

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  • Tillerson replaced by CIA chief – President Donald J. Trump sacked Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and is replacing him with CIA director Mike Pompeo, White House officials said on Tuesday (The Washington Post) and confirmed by Trump in a tweet. Gina Haspel, deputy director at the CIA, will replace Pompeo, becoming the first woman to run the agency. “Congratulations to all!” Trump said on Twitter, as he also praised both Pompeo and Haspel in a statement (The Washington Post).

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!

  • Trump blocks Broadcom’s bid for Qualcomm – President Donald J. Trump blocked the proposed takeover of U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm by Singapore-based Broadcom on the grounds of national security. The $140bn deal would have been the biggest technology deal on record. Trump said there was “credible evidence” to believe that the takeover might “impair the national security of the United States.” The BBC reported there were also concerns that the proposed buyout would have put China in the lead of the development of 5G wireless technology.
  • Russia on deadline to respond to spy attack claims – Russia has until midnight on Tuesday to respond to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s allegations, made in the House of Commons on Monday, that its government is responsible for the use of a rare nerve agent against former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. May said that chemical weapons experts had identified the nerve agent as novichok, a strand developed by the Russian state, making it “highly likely” the attack was orchestrated by the Kremlin, or it had lost control of the nerve agent. If Russia does not respond May will return to parliament tomorrow to set out the UK’s response to what it would assume is an “unlawful use of force” against the country.
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said accusations of Russian involvement in the poisoning were “rubbish.” In a press conference, he told reporters that Russia would not comply with May’s deadline, as it had been denied access to details of the UK’s investigation.
  • Turkey says it has encircled Kurdish enclave in northern Syrian – Turkey’s military and Syrian rebel allies have encircled the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, according to Turkish armed forces. Kurdish sources said all roads into the town were being targeted by shelling, but denied that it is encircled. Turkey’s operation to drive the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia – who gained control of large swathes of northern Syria when they helped to defeat Islamic State – out of Afrin began on January 20. (Read WikiTribune’s Q&A on the status of different Kurdish groups in the region, and our previous coverage of the fight around Afrin.)

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  • House Republicans close Russia inquiry – Republicans on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee say they have concluded there was “no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” in a report summary released without warning (CNN) to their Democratic colleagues. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, called the closure of the inquiry “tragic” and a “capitulation” to pressure from the presidency.

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  • For a special edition on race National Geographic turned the spotlight on itself. The 129-year-old publication enlisted the help of an academic to delve into its archives and reveal how it has reported on people of color, both in the U.S and abroad. The results were less than favorable. Under the headline: “For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It,” National Geographic’s tenth editor, Susan Goldberg, strives to do just that.

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