TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. President Donald Trump signed over a dozen executive orders, the source of many headlines throughout the week
  2. Severe storms created chaos in the southeastern USA
  3. Chile is experiencing “the country’s worst forest fires ever”
  4. Internet blackout in Cameroon
  5. Conflict in Somalia kills 28
  6. Paris to begin experiment with driverless buses
  7. UK court rules Parliament must vote on Brexit
  8. Israel approves controversial new settlements
  9. Train derailment in India kills or injures 100 people
  10. Physicists claim to have turned hydrogen into metal

Further information and more stories:

UNITED STATES

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened above 20,000 points Wednesday, passing the milestone number for the first time in its 120-year history.” (TH)

“An underground pipeline that runs through multiple Midwestern states has leaked an estimated 138,000 gallons of diesel fuel, according to the company that owns it…. the diesel had not reached nearby Willow Creek or a wildlife protection area.” (NPR)

“Trump’s first executive action is to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, sources say.” (CNN)

“President Trump on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for construction of two controversial oil pipelines, the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access. As he signed the paperwork in an Oval Office photo op, Trump said his administration is ‘going to renegotiate some of the terms’ of the Keystone project…” (NPR) Some documents appear to show a link between Trump and the operators of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

“A powerful storm system plowed up the U.S. Eastern seaboard with torrential showers and high winds on Monday, hindering airline and rail travel, after killing at least 21 people in the South, many in mobile homes demolished by tornadoes.” (Reuters) States of emergency were declared in some areas.

President Trump signed a number of executive orders for his first week in office. Some were controversial and some weren’t. After an executive order banning immigration under certain circumstances, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration. The CATO Institute said there is “little national security benefit” to the order, which used a list created under the Obama administration. According to NBC, immigration officials have been revoking visas “for weeks” – even before Trump was president.

A significant portion of Trump-related news stories weren’t actually linked to Trump or were overblown non-stories (written for political reasons rather than journalistic ones). For example, widely-circulated stories about how “the entire State Department senior management just unexpectedly resigned” were deliberately false. The few people who resigned (not the entire senior management) were “presidential appointees who submit resignations during every transition,” as requested by the outgoing Obama administration. The resignations were accepted, a common occurrence whenever a new president is elected. Some who “resigned” were actually set to be moved to other positions within the State Department. Another non-story decried the Trump administration for doing what the Obama administration did. And a third example came from misreporting on the “special tax for Mexico” idea. (Note: It’s easy to find recent examples of Fake News via the mainstream media. While some of Trump’s actions are rightfully controversial, it’s intellectually dishonest for the media to make a big deal out of literally everything. Some people speculated that the Trump administration has deliberately given out conflicting information in order to discredit journalists and/or create “outrage fatigue.”)

south america

“Chile’s president ordered extra funds Tuesday to be spent on fighting the country’s worst forest fires ever, as frantic locals called for help to save their homes, animals and farmland. Flames have destroyed 155,000 hectares (600 square miles) of land in the center of the country and at least 4,000 people have been evacuated, the National Emergency Office said.” (AFP)

europe

“Paris began its first experiment with driverless buses on Monday, with city officials saying they were eager to prepare for the coming ‘revolution’ of autonomous vehicles.” (AFP)

“[Netherlands] to set up abortion and birth control aid fund to counter US move to halt foreign aid to groups that support abortion.” (TIS)

“Parliament must have vote on whether UK government can start Brexit process, Supreme Court rules.” (BBC)

MIDDLE EAST

“Iran has banned Americans from entering its country in retaliation over Trump’s executive order banning Iranians entering US.” (TIS)

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday approved the expansion of settlement blocs in the West Bank despite international pressure to halt construction in the occupied territories.” (TH)

Africa

“Is Cameroon persecuting its English speakers? Opposition leaders have been arrested and the internet has been cut in English-speaking regions for more than a week.” (AJ) (Slate) Citizens have allegedly been threatened with prison via mass SMS.

“Exiled Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh stole millions of dollars in his final weeks in power, plundering the state coffers and shipping out luxury vehicles by cargo plane, a special adviser for the new president said Sunday.” (AP)

“At least 28 people have been killed in a car bomb attack and siege at a hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, government and medical officials say.” (ABC)

Asia

“A passenger train leapt the tracks overnight in southeast India, killing at least 39 people and injuring more than 60.” (NPR)

“China: State-media says new Dongfeng-41 missile, with 14,000 km range and 12 nuclear warhead payload, is part of deterrence against the US.” (TIS)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

“Two physicists claimed that they had finally succeeded in a feat that scientists have been attempting for almost a hundred years – crushing hydrogen and turning it into metal…. Such a discovery would potentially revolutionise technology and space travel, and has been hailed as one of the biggest breakthroughs in history. But experts have cast doubts on the claims of the two scientists…” (TI)

A new freight train from China to London recently finished its 7,500-mile (12,000km) journey. “It demonstrates how market demand and the realities of globalisation are increasingly allowing China’s President Xi Jinping to realise his ambitious plan to revive the ancient Silk Road.” (BBC)