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A mock customs post is set up with protesters from border communities between Ireland and Northern Ireland against Brexit.

Reuters

Are the EU and UK close to a post-Brexit deal?

For a fleeting moment, it seemed like Brexit wrangling could finally end. But no. After reports claimed that the EU and UK were close to clinching a deal on trade rules for Northern Ireland, Brussels announced that, despite some progress, several issues remain intractable. (Really sorry you still have to hear about Brexit, but the Northern Ireland Protocol, you might recall, is the arrangement that Boris Johnson reached with the EU to avoid creating a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, and Northern Ireland, a part of the UK.) One big sticking point is that Downing Street, along with the pro-UK DUP Party in Northern Ireland, wants to limit the role of the European Court of Justice in overseeing trade-related disputes. Another is the failure to agree on a practical border system that would avoid rigorous checks by customs. With Prime Minister Rishi Sunak facing mounting pressure from Tory Brexiteers not to give an inch to Brussels, we’re watching to see how he navigates a major political test that threatens to further split his Conservative Party.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 7, known as the “stop woke act,” in Florida, on April 22, 2022.

Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/TNS/ABACAPRESS.COM

As Black History Month begins today in the US, the country’s latest culture war battle is about … Black history.

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A modified Boeing 747 takes off carrying Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket, in Mojave, California

REUTERS/Gene Blevins

747: The last commercial Boeing 747 ever to be made will be delivered on Tuesday. The jumbo jetliner, with its iconic forward hump, first took flight in 1970, under Pan Am (RIP) livery. But since then, smaller and more efficient aircraft have swiped its market share. The “Queen of the Skies,” as the 747 is known, is dead – Long Live the Queen of the Skies!

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Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, including militants, killed in an Israeli raid, during their funeral in Jenin

REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

After Jenin raid, Palestinian militants vow “revenge”

At least nine Palestinians were killed Thursday in Jenin in one of the deadliest West Bank operations in recent years carried out by the Israel Defense Forces. Israel’s military said it stormed the Jenin refugee camp to arrest members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad suspected of carrying out and planning “multiple major terror attacks.” Authorities confirmed that at least seven gunmen and two civilians were killed in the operation that also injured 20 Palestinians. While members of Israel’s new right-wing government have been criticized for wanting to relax the military’s rules of engagement, this raid was part of a long-running effort to root out terror groups in the northern West Bank, which began last year after a series of attacks that killed 31 Israelis – retaliatory missions notably led to more than 100 Palestinian deaths. Israel is now on high alert, fearing a slate of missile strikes from the Gaza Strip as well as unrest in the West Bank and Jerusalem after Palestinian terror outfits – including Hamas and PIJ – vowed “revenge.” Friday saw a limited exchange of Palestinian rockets and Israeli airstrikes.

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A tank with a Polish flag.

Annie Gugliotta

There’s a story that people sometimes still tell about the Polish military. It’s the one where the cavalry makes a suicidal charge against Nazi tanks in September of 1939 and gets cut to pieces.

Although that version of the Battle of Krojanty isn’t quite true – in reality the Poles did better than it sounds – the romantic version of it, fueled by an overzealous Italian journalist’s account, has stuck for decades. Some see it as a tale of heroism, others as a proverb of recklessness, but in either telling, Poland’s basic problem is the same: They didn’t have enough weapons to fend off the Nazi onslaught.

Eighty years later, Poland is on a mission to ensure that myths of this kind are never created again. The country is in the middle of an “unprecedented” military build-up that, if successful, would make it the largest land army in the European Union, and an Eastern flank superpower in its own right.

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Swiss soldiers on a German-made Leopard 2 tank.

REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky finally got what he’s spent months asking for — at least some of it. The US and Germany have agreed to send state-of-the-art battle tanks to Kyiv, and Berlin has greenlit other NATO members to send German-made armor to Ukraine as well.

But this policy U-turn by the US and Germany — both of which have long been reluctant to send such heavy kit — raises two big questions about the near-term trajectory of the war.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses via video link the 26th Annual Economist Government Roundtable in Lagonisi, Greece.

DPA via Reuters

Ukraine sacks officials over graft

Just days after the Ukrainian defense ministry called reports of graft in its procurement contracts “nonsense,” a deputy defense minister has been sacked to “preserve the trust” of Kyiv’s international partners. Also ousted: one of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top deputies, a fellow known for living lavishly and speeding around in a flashy car while his countrymen sleep in trenches. The move follows reports that Ukraine’s defense ministry had overpaid for food supplies, suggesting that kickbacks were in the mix. Despite making progress in recent years, Ukraine’s government has long struggled with endemic corruption, but Kyiv is particularly concerned to allay concerns in Europe and the US, which have sent tens of billions of dollars in aid to the country since Russia’s invasion. We’re also watching to see how things play out among rank-and-file soldiers — allegations of corruption at the top during a war where troops are defending their country with homemade dune buggies is a bad bad look …

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Former US Vice President Mike Pence, speaks at Cornerstone Church.

DPA via Reuters

Roughly 12: A lawyer for former Veep Mike Pence has found “about a dozen” classified documents at Pence’s Indiana home. First Trump. Then Biden. Now this. The only real question now is: Who among us has NOT left the White House with classified materials?

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