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Curated top stories of the day
- China imposes own tariffs – China’s Finance Ministry announced tariffs on 128 commodities from the United States in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs announced by the Trump administration in March. The Chinese tariffs are targeted at products such as frozen pork, wine, fruit, and nuts from the United States. The tariffs, which will impact some $3 billion worth of goods, take effect on Monday. Some are as high as 25 percent.
- Chinese space lab burns, falls into Pacific – What was once “one of China’s highest profile space projects” (CNN) burned and broke apart as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 00:15 GMT on Monday. Launched in 2011, Tiangong-1 was meant to be part of a manned space station by 2022. It stopped functioning in 2016. Debris from the 32-foot-long module fell into the Pacific Ocean northwest of Tahiti, according to a tweet from astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (BBC).
- Trump rejects DACA deal – President Donald J. Trump announced on Twitter there would be no deal to legalize young adult immigrants, known as Dreamers. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was established in 2012 under President Barack Obama and sought to protect immigrants brought to the United States as children by undocumented parents. Congressional Republicans and Democrats had been working on a deal to protect the Dreamers. Trump told reporters on Sunday: “Mexico has got to help us at the border, and a lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA.” (New York Times)
- Israeli officials say no to investigation of Gaza killings – Israel’s defense minister rejected on Sunday calls for an inquiry into the killing of 15 Palestinians by the military during a demonstration that turned violent on Friday at the Gaza-Israel border. Hundreds more were injured by gun fire, rubber bullets, and gas inhalation. Israeli authorities estimated the crowd of demonstrators at 30,000. The Palestinians gathered to demand the “right to the return” to former Palestinian villages that are now part of Israel. Israeli officials said at least two of the dead were affiliated with Hamas. Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman said soldiers along the Gaza frontier “deserve a medal” and there would be no investigation into the incident.
- Rebels to surrender Ghouta, says Syrian state media – Rebel group Jaish al Islam have agreed to terms of surrender over eastern Ghouta, possibly bringing an end to the battle over the Damascus suburb. The deal involves turning over weapons and acknowledging the Syrian government’s control over the region, according to Syrian state-run media quoted by Reuters. Reuters is the only reputable news source to report on this story thus far, and quoted Syrian state-run media outlets.
- Russia expels 59 diplomats – Diplomats from 23 countries were expelled from Russia on Friday after Moscow retaliated against other nations in a worsening standoff with the West over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Many Russian diplomats have been forced to leave many Western countries, including Britain and the United States, in an attempt to condemn Moscow over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Read WikiTribune’s developing coverage of this story.
Security Council blacklists shipping companies – The UN has cracked down on 27 ships, 21 shipping companies and one individual for aiding North Korea in getting around wide ranging sanctions. A selection of oil tankers and cargo vessels are now prohibited from ports worldwide and businesses could have their assets frozen. It is the UN’s biggest sanctions effort against Pyongyang, which is already under a range of international and U.S. sanctions over its nuclear programme and missile tests.
- South Korea wins exemption from Trump steel tariff – Meeting in Washington, D.C., trade officials from South Korea and the United States agreed to changes to the Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) that will exempt South Korea from the 25 percent tariff on steel imports announced by President Donald J. Trump earlier this month. The amended deal will give U.S. automakers and pharmaceuticals more access to the South Korean market and, in exchange for lifting the steel quota, will cut U.S. imports of Korean steel by about 30 percent.
- Erdogan says France could be a ‘target of Turkey’ – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan excoriated French President Emmanuel Macron for meeting with the Syrian Kurdish group known as YPG, which he sees as a terrorist organization. He said France could become a “target of Turkey.”
- Daughter of ex-spy ‘rapidly improving’ – Yulia Skripal, the daughter of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, is “rapidly improving” and is no longer in critical condition, according to the Salisbury NHS Trust, four weeks after a nerve agent attack on both on March 4. Her father remains in critical but stable condition (The Guardian).
- It was revealed on March 28 the pair first made contact with a military grade nerve agent on the front door of Sergei Skripal’s home, according to police. A BBC security correspondent said the highest concentration was found on the door handle and the nerve agent could have been administered by a “gloopy substance,” possibly explaining why it may have been found in the Skripals’ car or the restaurant they later visited. The British government has said it’s “highly likely” the Russian state is responsible for the attack but Moscow has said it suspects the British secret services are trying to frame the Kremlin. A number of Western countries have expelled over 100 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the UK. (Read: Who is Sergei Skripal, target of the nerve agent attack in Britain?)
- Jail riot kills 68 in Venezuela – Prison violence has been a serious and long-standing problem in Venezuela, but Thursday’s riot is one of the nation’s bloodiest. A fire broke out during rioting at a police station in the city of Valencia. The blaze reportedly started after prisoners set mattresses on fire as part of an attempt to break out on Wednesday. At least 68 people, including relatives of inmates who were visiting, were killed by the fire and clash with guards. President Nicolas Maduro has yet to comment on the incident. His opposition sees it as further evidence of his socialist government’s failure to curb violence.
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- Analyzing Trump’s criticism of Amazon – The WikiTribune community is reporting on President Trump’s claims that Amazon is driving brick and mortar stores out of business, that the company pays “little or no taxes to state & local governments” (MarketWatch), and that it’s taking unfair advantage of services provided by the U.S. Postal Service. We’re looking for help explaining Trump’s criticism of the world’s largest retailer, Trump’s tax policy, Amazon’s relationship with the USPS, and whether job numbers have suffered because of online retail.
- Explaining lawsuit against Google for restricting conservative speech – Google won in court when a California judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging the tech giant censored politically conservative content uploaded to its YouTube subsidiary. Now we need help explaining the decision and YouTube’s policy for restricting inappropriate content.
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