Six In The Morning Wednesday 15 May 2019

Alabama passes bill banning abortion

Alabama lawmakers have passed a bill to outlaw abortion in almost all cases, the strictest such US law.

The state Senate approved the law by 25 votes to six, rejecting exemptions for cases of rape or incest.

It will now go to Republican Governor Kay Ivey. She has not said whether she will sign it, but she is seen as a strong opponent of abortion.

Restrictions on abortion rights have already been introduced this year in 16 US states.

Activists hope the new Alabama law will challenge a landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalised abortion in the US.

Putin smiles as Washington ties itself in knots over Russia

Updated 0502 GMT (1302 HKT) May 15, 2019

Vladimir Putin keeps on getting the last laugh, and he knows it.

The Russian leader and former KGB officer could not resist some sardonic trolling on a day when the tortured legacy of the 2016 election sowed fresh mistrust and discord in Washington and the US President’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., got caught in the fallout.
“Despite the exotic nature of the work of special counsel Mueller, we must give him credit,” Putin said during a visit from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Sochi on the Black Sea.

‘Terrifying’ Ebola epidemic out of control in DRC, say experts

More than 1,600 people infected in North Kivu province since outbreak began in August

An Ebola epidemic in a conflict-riven region of Democratic Republic of Congo is out of control and could become as serious as the outbreak that devastated three countries in west Africa between 2013 and 2016, experts and aid chiefs have warned.

New cases over the past month have increased at the fastest rate since the outbreak began last year, as aid agencies struggle to enact a public health response in areas that have suffered decades of neglect and conflict, with incredibly fragile health systems and regular outbreaks of deadly violence involving armed groups.

US close to ‘dangerous military confrontation’, warns senior Iranian diplomat

‘We hope they understand they they are playing a very dangerous game and it may have consequences for them’

Kim SenguptaDiplomatic Editor

America is getting “dragged into a dangerous military confrontation” with Iran by an alliance of malign states in the Middle East and hawks in the Trump administration, one of Tehran’s most senior diplomats has charged as tensions continue to rise in the region.

The leaders of IsraelSaudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US President’s National Security Advisor were singled by the Iranian ambassador to Britain as those supposedly attempting to orchestrate a conflict.

Macron, Ardern host Paris summit against online extremism

French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand’s premier Jacinda Ardern will host other world leaders and leading tech chiefs on Wednesday to launch an ambitious new initiative aimed at curbing extremism online.

The initiative, known as the ‘Christchurch call’, was pushed by Ardern after a self-described white supremacist gunned down 51 people in a massacre at two mosques in the New Zealand city in March, the country’s worst atrocity of recent times.

Participants will be asked to commit to pledges to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content on social media and other online platforms.

San Francisco’s facial recognition technology ban, explained

The city’s ban on the technology could set a nationwide precedent.


San Francisco is the first major city to ban local government agencies’ use of facial recognition, becoming a leader in regulating technology criticized for its potential to expand widespread government surveillance and reinforce police bias.

The “Stop Secret Surveillance” ordinance passed 8-1 in a vote by the city’s board of supervisors Tuesday. The ordinance will implement an all-out ban on San Francisco city agencies’ use of facial surveillance, which tech companies such as Amazon and Microsoftcurrently sell to various US government agencies, including in Amazon’s case, US police departments and in Microsoft’s case, a US prison. These technologies can detect faces in images or live video streams and match those facial characteristics to someone’s identity in a database.