Fourth bombing in Austin by 'tripwire'; new Brexit transition deal

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  • Police say fourth bombing in Austin indicates work of “serial bomber”  – A device exploded in Austin, Texas for the fourth time in a month on Sunday, injuring two men. “We are clearly dealing with what we expect to be a serial bomber at this point,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. Unlike the other three devices which were left on residents’ doorsteps, this one was left on the side of a residential road. Police say it may have been triggered by “tripwire”, according to CNN. Austin’s law enforcement is trying to determine whether the explosion is linked to the earlier bombings.
  • EU and UK agree Brexit transition deal – The European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom reached a transition deal agreement for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc. The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said it was a “decisive step.” The transition period will begin on March 29, 2019, when the UK formally exits the EU, and will end on December 31, 2020. According to an EU lawmaker involved in the negotiations, agreements were reached on “financial settlement, citizens rights and transition, and large parts of the other separation issues.” The period is meant to be used to iron out a path for a future permanent relationship between the UK and the EU.
  • Trump warned against interfering in Russia probe – Republicans have warned U.S. President Donald J. Trump against interfering in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after Trump attacked it on Twitter. Trump said the “witch hunt” was dominated by “hardened Democrats.” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Mueller should be allowed to proceed without interference, while Senator John McCain said the special counsel had served his country with “honesty and integrity” and needed to do his job unimpeded.

  • Nerve agent examined by chemical weapon team – International experts are expected to visit the UK to determine the type of nerve agent used in the attempted assassination of a former Russian double agent and his daughter on March 4. British researchers say the chemical weapon used belongs to the novichok family. Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the poisoning, while Moscow denies any involvement. Experts say it fits a pattern of Russian interference. In an ensuing international standoff both countries have expelled diplomats, among other sanctions. The team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will visit the Porton Down military research base in south England, and results are expected to take at least two weeks to produce. Read more WikiTribune‘s extensive coverage of the Skripals’ poisoning.
  • Assad visits forces in Ghouta – Syrian forces look close to taking complete control of a major opposition enclave near Damascus. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday visited soldiers in Ghouta and also met some of the many civilians displaced by the government’s offensive. The battle in Ghouta has been one of the most protracted of the seven-year civil war, with rebels facing their worst defeat since the battle of Aleppo in 2016.

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  • As the list of endangered animals worldwide grows longer, society may soon be faced with an impossible decision: which ones to take off life support. This piece in the New York Times Magazine weighs those arguments. “How do we decide whether the wolf or the snow leopard is more valuable?”

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