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News diary 15-21 April: New RSF Press Freedom Index published and Twitter boss to talk at TED conference

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

With Parliament finally in recess, our attention has been briefly diverted from Brexit. On Monday, environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion begins its International Rebellion Week, a global campaign to push climate change up the international agenda.

Events are planned across the UK all week, beginning with traffic blocks at central London tube stations which celebrity supporter Emma Thompson has said she will attend.

In the US, Chinese national Yujing Zhang is arraigned over charges she brought malware into President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Zhang was found at the club on 30 March in possession of two Chinese passports, four phones, a laptop and a USB stick containing malware, and allegedly provided the Secret Service with conflicting accounts of why she was at the President’s resort. A judge will decide whether to release Zhang or remand her in jail as she awaits trial.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders participates in a town hall hosted by Fox News, which he has previously called the propaganda arm of the Trump Administration. The Senator defended his decision to go on Fox by saying he wants to reach out to Trump supporters who he feels have been lied to and offer them an alternative.

Sanders has broken with the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) decision to not offer Fox a primary-season debate owing to the network’s links to Trump, and is the first major 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to go on one of the network’s town halls.

The European Parliament sits in Strasbourg this week and on Tuesday Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker present their conclusions to MEPs after last week’s EU leaders’ meeting on Brexit. Tusk was unequivocal in his post-summit remarks about the need for progress, while Juncker repeated his desire to see Brexit reversed.

The UK’s Brexit-supporting MEPs may find themselves in the strange position of supporting Antonio Tajani after the Parliament’s president voiced his opposition to the UK treating participation in May’s elections as a game.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey (pictured) is the biggest name at TED 2019, which opened in Vancouver on Monday and runs throughout this week on the theme “Bigger Than Us”.

Dorsey has faced criticism for the prevalence of misinformation on Twitter and an apparent unwillingness to remove controversial users such as Alex Jones, though he may expand here on his recent comments in support of greater regulation of the tech industry.

In the UK, monthly Universal Credit statistics are released a week after the Work and Pensions Committee accused the Government of producing a “dismissive [and] disrespectful” response and treating its witnesses “like dirt” in a damning follow-up report.

The initial report found that the much-maligned welfare programme acts as a barrier to getting people back into work, and the Committee demanded a second response from the Government last week.

Days after the Ecuadorian government’s revocation of asylum led to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the country’s London embassy, President Lenin Moreno visits Washington DC on Wednesday for a visit to the headquarters of the Organization of American States.

Moreno’s presence in the US capital so soon after the arrest suggests a possible shift in relations with the Americans, and is likely to increase speculation over the reasons behind Ecuador’s sudden abandonment of its protection of Assange.

Time magazine announces its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world on Thursday. The list is broken down into groups of pioneers, artists, leaders, icons, and titans, and last year included world leaders who continue to feature prominently on the global stage, including Donald Trump, Jacinda Ardern and Mohammed bin Salman, alongside student survivors of the Parkland school shooting, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, and journalists Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey and Ronan Farrow.

On the same day, Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders publishes its Press Freedom Index, an annual ranking of 180 countries’ records on protecting the freedom of the press.

Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands were the highest-placed nations in 2018 while the UK was ranked only 40th, and the NGO warned last week that the arrest of Assange in London would set a dangerous precedent for journalists and whistleblowers.

A California couple are due to be sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to numerous charges involving the abuse and torture of children. David and Louise Turpin admitted starving, abusing, and torturing their children over the course of several years in a case which prosecuting District Attorney described as “amongst the worst ever seen”.

Members of the NASUWT gather in Belfast for the start of the teaching union’s annual conference. The agenda includes a motion on violent crime and pupil safety following the union’s criticism of proposals to place additional legal responsibilities on teachers, which it warned could lead to a perceived scapegoating of the profession.

British boxer Amir Khan returns to the ring at Madison Square Garden on Saturday to face American Terence Crawford for the WBO Welterweight Championship. It promises to be a stern challenge for Khan; Crawford is undefeated in his professional career to date and is currently ranked as the second-best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Fans of non-combat sports can also enjoy the start of the World Snooker Championships at Sheffield’s Crucible, where Ronnie O’Sullivan starts as the bookies’ favourite and looks to join the ranks of Steve Davis and Ray Reardon as a six-time winner.

Voters return to the polls in Ukraine on Sunday for a run-off in the presidential election. Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky competes with incumbent Petro Poroshenko after topping the first round of voting last month with just over 30 per cent of the ballots. Zelensky has portrayed his campaign as a protest movement against Ukraine’s leaders, and met with French President Emmanuel Macron for talks in the build up to today’s vote.

And The Queen’s 93rd birthday is commemorated with the traditional gun salutes in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis

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