Former Catalan president detained; Boko Haram ceasefire talks

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  • Nigeria in ceasefire talks – Nigeria’s government is negotiating with Islamist militant group Boko Haram over a possible ceasefire. Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the aim of the talks was to stop hostilities permanently. The Boko Haram insurgency, which began in 2009, has killed tens of thousands of people.
  • Puigdemont detained – German police detained Catalonia’s ex-leader Carles Puigdemont, who is wanted in Spain for sedition and rebellion. He was arrested on a European warrant after entering Germany from Denmark. Puigdemont will appear before a German judge on Monday. Earlier, protesters in Catalonia clashed with police after the Supreme Court ruled that some Catalan leaders should be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobeying the state. Convictions could result in up to 30 years in prison. Read WikiTribune’s coverage of the separatist saga.

  • Islamic State claims French attack – Three people, including a police officer, are dead in southwestern France after a gunman held up a car, fired on police and seized hostages in a supermarket. The attacker screamed “Allahu Akbar” before security forces shot and killed him, authorities said. Sixteen other people were wounded. President Emmanuel Macron called the attack an act of “Islamist terrorism.” The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.


  • Big protests against school shootingsSchool pupils lead large-scale protests across the United States and overseas to protest at gun culture and gun laws after the Florida school massacre.
  • EU taking additional steps against Russia – European Union countries will take “additional steps” against Russia as early as Monday, European Council president Donald Tusk told reporters at a Brussels summit following the attack on a former spy using a nerve agent in England on March 4. The EU recalled its ambassador to Russia on March 22 in a show of solidarity with the UK, saying it was “highly likely” Moscow was responsible. The British government blames the Kremlin for the attack and Prime Minister Theresa May said it was part of a “pattern of Russian aggression against Europe.” Moscow denies any responsibility for the attack and accused the bloc of uniting in a hate campaign against Russia. (Read more of WikiTribune’s coverage of the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.) 
  • Brexit negotiations guidelines formally adopted – It took “less than a minute” (BBC) on Friday for European Union leaders to formally agree to guidelines for negotiations over future UK relations once Brexit takes effect. The EU and UK agree on the need for a future free trade agreement and close partnership on military matters, but “red lines” imposed by the UK would limit the closeness of the future relationship.
  • Trump signs budget deal, avoids shutdown – President Donald J. Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending deal to fund the government for another six months. Lawmakers were concerned that the president was going to veto the bill after Trump tweeted disapproval that there was no language on DACA or the border wall with Mexico.
  • China and EU threaten US over tariffs – Beijing said on Friday it may impose higher tariffs on a $3 billion list of U.S. goods, including pork, apples, and steel pipe. The announcement part of a growing dispute between China and President Donald J. Trump. “China does not want to fight a trade war, but it is absolutely not afraid of a trade war,” Chinese officials said in a statement. Trump this week announced potential tariffs on China, which sent stocks to their biggest one-day drop in six weeks.
    • The EU said it reserves the right to respond “in a proportionate manner” to any tariffs. The U.S. gave the bloc a 40-day exemption to negotiate before tariffs were implemented, but EU negotiators referred to the date as an “artificial deadline” to unjustified policy. Belgium’s prime minister said the 40-day period was like Trump “putting a gun to our head.”
  • Pacific Ocean plastic increasing – Experts believe there is a build-up of about 80,000 tons of plastic in the Pacific Ocean – 16 times more than previously reported. The collection of floating plastic is known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and is growing rapidly, according to a new scientific estimate. “Plastic concentration is increasing – I think the situation is getting worse,” said Laurent Lebreton of The Ocean Cleanup Foundation in Delft, Netherlands, which led the study.

  • Trump replaces national security adviser – President Trump tapped foreign policy hardliner John Bolton to be his new national security adviser. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN and well-known Fox News commentator, has advocated for military force against Iran and North Korea and has taken a hard line against Russia. He replaces H.R. McMaster, a military officer, who clashed publicly with Trump over national security issues.

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