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Curated top stories of the day
- Trump promises ‘forceful’ response to alleged Syrian chemical attack – U.S. President Donald J. Trump said any proof of the use of chemical weapons by Syria would “be met forcefully”, with a decision on a response to be taken quickly (The Guardian). The U.S. has said it is ready to act with or without United Nations support. At a UN Security Council meeting on Monday Russia’s ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the alleged chemical attack was staged. He warned that the possibility of U.S. military action was “very, very dangerous”. U.S. envoy Nikki Haley said Russia, which supports President Assad, had the “blood of Syrian children” on its hands (AFP). The UN Security Council could vote on April 10 on rival U.S. and Russian proposals to probe the chemical attacks (AFP). After French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Trump, the two leaders expressed desire for a “firm response.”
- Reports say the attack happened on April 7, killing at least 60 people in Douma, a suburb of Damascus. There is no conclusive evidence of which chemical agent was used or that Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible. Trump promised to retaliate against Russia if it was discovered that the Kremlin was behind the attack (New York Times).
- Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country could take part in military action in Syria. “If our alliance with our partners requires it, we will be present,” he said.
- Zuckerberg appears before Congress – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the U.S. Congress to begin testifying about how he plans to address concerns with the company’s business model following the Cambridge Analytica data breach. He told Facebook’s privacy lapses were his responsibility and he did not do enough to prevent it from doing harm. The BBC is carrying a live blog of the testimony. Zuckerberg asserted that “advertisers and developers will never take priority” for him. (Help WikiTribune keep up-to-date with this story here).
- Trump calls FBI raid on personal lawyer a ‘disgrace’ – U.S. President Donald J. Trump was furious with the FBI’s actions ( AP and New York Times) and told White House reporters it was a “disgrace” and “an attack on our country.” The FBI seized documents from the office of Trump’s long-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, after obtaining a search warrant (New York Times). The raid appears to be unrelated to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Russia probe.” According to the AP, federal agents seized records on topics including the $130,000 payment made days before the 2016 U.S. election by Cohen to porn actress Stephanie Clifford or ‘Stormy Daniels’. She says she had sex with Trump more than 10 years ago and was paid to not keep quiet about it.
- China vows to open economy – Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to progressively open the country’s economy while warning against a “Cold War mentality.” He spoke in the middle of rising trade tensions between China and the United States (Bloomberg). Xi pledged a “new phase of opening up” in his keynote address to the Boao Forum for Asia on April 10. Xi’s comments sent U.S. stock futures, the dollar, and Asian shares higher.
- Prosecutor asks ICC to rule on deportations – The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court wants it to decide whether it has jurisdiction to rule on the documented deportations of Rohingya people from Myanmar. The deportations are a possible crime against humanity (Guardian). The prosecutor supported the need for the court making a ruling with a list of the mistreatment of Rohingya. And the UN special envoy for human rights has described the situation in Myanmar as bearing the “hallmarks of genocide.”
- Poisoned daughter discharged from hospital – Yulia Skripal has been discharged from a British hospital, the BBC reported. It is a month since she was poisoned with a nerve agent along with her father Sergei, a former Russian double agent. Sergei Skirpal is still in hospital. The pair were exposed to the toxic nerve agent Novichok. Read WikiTribune’s full reporting on this.
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- Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) are being used for freight delivery, dispatching medicines, and even delivering coffee. These uses and many others are part of the patchwork, ever richer and more complicated, of drone applications. This is industry is experiencing a global boom. In 2018, government regulators and businesses are collaborating to bring in laws that will apply to drones in more and more sectors of business. Here, WikiTribune outlines the issues concerning the increasing use of drones.
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- Amid the data scandals surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, WikiTribune is figuring out how to report on the future of “Your Data.” Add your ideas to this WikiProject.
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- Buzzfeed’s now executive editor Ben Smith was a young reporter in Eastern Europe in 2001. He expected to witness the “end of history” and the flowering of democracy. That was just one of his mistakes. In this piece, he outlines his experience reporting in 2001 on the supposed downfall of Belarus’ first president, Alexander Lukashenko. But 16 years later Lukashenko is still in power. Smith says he has learned a lesson about the way the world works and a journalist’s place within it.
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