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Curated top stories of the day
- Trump amenable to White House meeting with Putin – The Donald J. Trump administration says it is open to a White House meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It would be Putin’s first Washington visit in more than a decade. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was among “a number of potential venues” discussed in a telephone call between Trump and Putin last month. The Kremlin said that Trump invited Putin during the call (New York Times). Since the March 20 call, more than 20 countries, have expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats in solidarity with Britain over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the former spy, and his daughter Yulia. Moscow has denied any involvement in the attack and retaliated by expelling the same number of diplomats from each nation.
- Saudi prince says Israelis have right to their land – In an interview with The Atlantic, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman acknowledged that “Palestinians and Israelis have a right to their own land,” possibly contradicting the country’s long-held refusal to recognize the Jewish state. He said that Saudi Arabia’s concerns were over “religious concerns,” specifically the future of the Palestinian people and the holy mosque in Jerusalem, not with the residents in Israel themselves. The interview comes at a time when Saudi Arabia and Israel have made closer ties in light of growing Iranian influence, which the two states see as a common enemy.
Violent clashes in Kashmir – At least 20 people are dead and 200 injured in Indian-administered Kashmir after clashes between militants and government forces on Sunday. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the decades-long conflict in Kashmir. The Pakistan government said on Monday it will send special envoys to selected world capitals to highlight the “deteriorating situation.” (Hindustan Times)
- 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.
- Winnie Mandela dies – Winnie Mandela, South African anti-apartheid and human rights campaigner and wife of Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president, died Monday at age 81 after a long illness (Reuters). Mandela became a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement in part for her courageous efforts to win her husband’s release from prison—upon the future president’s release in 1990 after 27 years imprisonment, the couple famously walked hand-in-hand through the gates of Victor Verster jail near Cape Town to address a throng of ecstatic supporters and world media (The Guardian). Winnie Mandela’s image became tarnished in the years following the end of apartheid. She and her husband separated in 1992. She was subsequently accused of government corruption, faced various legal troubles, was implicated in the murder of activist Stompie Seipei in Soweto, and became known for her “uncompromising methods and refusal to forgive (that) contrasted sharply with the reconciliation espoused by her husband.” (Reuters)
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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Universities were once seen as havens of free speech, an open space of contrasting ideas and debate resulting in a fusion of contemporary thought. But as this WikiTribune report points out, now that open space is being curtailed. Now, students are taking to barricades to fight over university free speech.
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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.
What we’re reading and watching
- Humanitarian centers were designed to provide basic needs and order to Europe’s refugee crisis. But as Alice Whitwham describes, most displaced people in Paris are shooed away from the premise at nightfall, left to sleep on streets. Harper’s Magazine.
- Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yushchenko says he hopes Europe will wake up to the threat posed by Russia in the wake of the poisonings in Salisbury. Fourteen years ago Yushchenko was taking on a presidential candidate favored by Russia when he was poisoned with a dioxin, a toxic chemical. Here, he tells the BBC his story.
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