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Curated top stories
- U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Corker have agreed to vote for the President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax bill, making it likely that the controversial piece of legislation will pass the Senate. The two lawmakers were previously the only two Republicans Senators to not support the bill, but changed their position after Senate leadership agreed to make changes. A vote on the final draft of the legislation, which would be Trump’s first major legislative victory, had been expected early next week. There is little room for dissent given the GOP’s thin margin in the Senate.
- Four Palestinians have been killed and 150 wounded by Israeli soldiers using live fire in Gaza and the West Bank. According to the Israeli military, around 2,500 Palestinians in the West Bank and around 3,500 in Gaza took part in riots that developed out of demonstrations against U.S. President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Israeli military said that Palestinians threw stones and burning tires at soldiers, while Israeli police troopers said they shot a man that stabbed a member of their unit near Ramallah. Al Jazeera reports that there have also been demonstrations against Trump’s decision in Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo. (Read more of WikiTribune‘s coverage of the dispute over the status of Jerusalem).
- European leaders give the green light to take Brexit negotiations to the “second phase,” according to a European Council (EC) statement and EC President Donald Tusk on Twitter. The bloc’s leaders formally agreed on Friday to advance Brexit negotiations to the next stage, allowing discussions to move to the long-term relationship between the UK and EU, and other issues like security and trade. This comes days after UK Prime Minister Theresa May suffered her first defeat in the House of Commons when she lost a key vote on the EU withdrawal bill. (See: WikiTribune’s full story on the Brexit negotiations.)
EU leaders agree to move on to the second phase of #Brexit talks. Congratulations PM @theresa_may
- Around 60 migrants from Sierra Leone have returned to their native country from Libya, according to Al Jazeera. This comes after reports that migrants and refugees were being sold in slave trade markets (CNN) in Libya in a complex web of abuse and extortion. Human rights group Amnesty International said this week that European governments are “knowingly complicit” in the systematic torture and exploitation of refugees and migrants by giving technical support to Libyan authorities.
- An expansive five-year investigation into child abuse in Australia’s institutions found “multiple and persistent failings” in keeping children safe and cited the cultures of secrecy and cover-up, particularly in the Catholic Church, for perpetuating the problems. The Royal Commission, which heard more than 8,000 private testimonies, recommended the government to require religious leaders to report child abuse and urged the church to change its celibacy rules in an effort to combat child sexual abuse. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the abuse findings as a “national tragedy,” and said the government would respond next year (Australia Associated Press).
- Opponents of Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski sought his resignation over corruption allegations involving Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company at the center of a massive graft scandal. Lawmakers from the country’s two biggest parties gave Kuczynski 24 hours to step down or face possible impeachment. The allegations date from Kuczynski’s time as a Cabinet minister and reportedly involve a $4.8 million transfer from Odebrecht to companies linked to him, Reuters reported, relying on government sources.
What we’re reading
- What WikiTribune read in 2017: we’re rounding up what the WikiTribune team and community liked this year, from books and movies, to TV and articles.
- A Google software engineer and NASA scientists explain how they harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to identify two new exoplanets – planets that are outside our solar system but within our galaxy. Popular Science magazine explains how the researchers used a machine learning technique called a neural network to identify new worlds and what the discovery means for the future of AI tools in space. – Jodie DeJonge
- Since winning the presidency and since it became strongly apparent that Russia interfered in the presidential election, Donald Trump has hedged on fully acknowledging the extent of the Kremlin’s meddling. The Washington Post interviews more than 50 current and former U.S. officials, many of whom had senior roles in the Trump campaign and transition team or have been in high-level positions at the White House or at national security agencies, to reveal how the president has really been dealing with the issue. – Charles Anderson
What the WikiTribune community’s up to
- Eric Fershtman, editor of sinkholemag.com, examines net neutrality with his piece, “With his new proposal, FCC chair Ajit Pai seeks to end net neutrality debate,” and outlines the justification the former attorney for U.S. telecoms giant Verizon gives for the repeal, despite deep opposition, even within the business community.