News Briefing - Wednesday, October 18th 2023
From BBC News - Home
Biden heads for Israel but Arab leaders meeting cancelled after Gaza hospital deaths
US President Joe Biden is set to arrive in Israel to express solidarity and discuss war plans with its leaders, but his visit has been complicated by a blast at a hospital in Gaza that is believed to have killed hundreds of Palestinians. As a result, a scheduled meeting with Arab leaders in Jordan was cancelled due to international outrage over the Gaza deaths. During his visit to Israel, Biden will hold a small restricted bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli war cabinet. He will also meet with first responders to the recent attack on Israel by the Hamas group, as well as individuals who have lost loved ones in the conflict. Israel has reportedly asked the US for $10 billion in emergency military aid. The Hamas-led authorities in Gaza have blamed Israel for the hospital blast, while Israel claims it was caused by rockets misfired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The BBC is investigating the cause of the explosion.
MI5 head warns of 'epic scale' of Chinese espionage
The head of MI5, Ken McCallum, has warned that Chinese espionage in the UK is happening on a "pretty epic scale". McCallum stated that more than 20,000 Britons have been approached by Chinese spies online, with Chinese agents using platforms such as LinkedIn to try to cultivate individuals to provide sensitive information. He further revealed that over the past year, MI5 has identified a number of instances where Chinese companies have sought to gain access to sensitive technology developed by UK universities and companies, often using complex company structures to hide their true role. In addition, McCallum highlighted the potential dangers of stolen research in the fields of cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence, warning that these advances are transforming the world and that authoritarian states are "laser-focused" on the opportunities they present. The heads of security agencies from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have issued the warning together, stating that China sees economic espionage as central to its national strategy.
Sudan conflict: Ethnic cleansing committed in Darfur, UK says
Satellite and social media data analyzed by the BBC has uncovered evidence of ethnic violence in western Sudan. The research, which has highlighted 68 villages targeted by armed militias, was conducted in partnership with Centre for Information Resilience, an organization partially funded by the UK government. Fires were located using heat-recognition technology from NASA, and the CIR then matched images on social media platforms with satellite imagery. The research suggests that the British government has identified the situation Sudan as ethnic cleansing, the first time the term has been used in relation to what is occurring there.
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Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts
Former President Donald Trump's arraignment on Tuesday in a New York state court will not be broadcasted, according to a judge's ruling on Monday. However, the judge will allow five pool photographers to take still photos in the courtroom before the proceedings begin. Media organizations, including CNN, had requested permission to broadcast the arraignment, but their request was denied. Trump's lawyers had urged the judge to reject the media's request for live cameras in the courtroom, while the Manhattan District Attorney's office did not take a position. The arraignment is expected to unseal the criminal charges against Trump, which have not yet been made public. The charges stem from an investigation into hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to women who claimed they had extramarital affairs with Trump, allegations he denies. Trump's lawyers have stated that they will fight to have the charges dropped.
Haberman reveals why Trump attacked judge and his family in speech
CNN political contributor Maggie Haberman provides insight into the motivations that led Donald Trump to attack a judge and his family during a speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Haberman suggests that Trump's attacks on the judge were driven by a desire to discredit the legal system and create doubt among his supporters about the fairness and impartiality of the judiciary. Trump, facing felony charges, likely saw attacking the judge and his family as a way to divert attention and cast doubt on the validity of the charges against him. Haberman also highlights that attacking the judge personally, rather than focusing on the legal merits of the case, is a tactic Trump has used before to polarize and energize his base. The motivations behind Trump's attacks on the judge and his family are seen as consistent with his larger strategy of undermining institutions and promoting a narrative of victimhood.
Russian authorities detain suspect over St. Petersburg cafe blast
Ukraine has received the first installment of $2.7 billion from a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. The IMF recently approved a four-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), totaling around $15.6 billion for Ukraine as part of a $115 billion support package. The program aims to promote stability, support economic recovery, and enhance governance and institutions to facilitate long-term growth and EU accession for Ukraine. Additionally, the program helps Ukraine implement more ambitious structural reforms. This loan is significant as it is the first major conventional financing program approved by the IMF for a country involved in a large-scale war. However, the risks associated with the arrangement are exceptionally high, according to Gita Gopinath, the first deputy managing director of the IMF. External financing on concessional terms will be crucial in closing fiscal and external financing gaps, as well as ensuring debt sustainability for Ukraine.