World AM News Briefs For Friday, 14 September 2018
Good Morning Australia!! - As a hurricane bears down on the US, Trump flat-out lies about the death toll from last year's devastation in Puerto Rico - Chile makes history - Baby times five in South Africa - And much more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
On a two-to-one vote, Chile's congress passed a historic gender identity law that allows transgender people over 14 years of age to change their name and gender in official records. Children 14 to 18 years old will need the permission of a parent or guardian, plus the family court. But Human Rights campaigners say it "will change the quality of life of thousands of people". President Sebastian Pinera has 30 days to sign the bill into law.
Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is defending the jailing of two Reuters journalists. The two men were sentenced to seven years in prison for supposedly violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act for reporting on unclassified and known information regarding the situation with the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called the trial a "travesty of justice". But Suu Kyi defended her courts, claiming that the trial has nothing to do with freedom of expression, and said the men can appeal. Some 700,000 Rohingya were forced out of Rakhine by Myanmay's military and nationalist mobs, into neighboring Bangladesh. The UN calls it an "ethnic cleansing"; as many as 43,000 are missing and presumed dead.
The Kern County, California sheriff is exasperated over America's latest mass shooting, which cost five lives plus the gunman's: "This is the new normal if you look across the country at these types of shootings," Sheriff Donny Youngblood told reporters at a news conference after Wednesday night's bloodshed. The 54-year old gunman in Bakersfield went to a trucking company where his wife was, killed her, killed two more men, and then drove off and killed another two people. He shot himself in the chest as police closed in. The US has had more than 250 mass shootings with four or more victims so far this year, with nary a peep in the mass media.
Instead, US news media was locked 24/7 on the approach of Hurricane Florence towards North and South Carolina. Although the much-ballyhooed storm has lost much of its wind (downgrading from a Category 4 to Category 2 in a day), it has widened out and will dump a lot of rain on the region for several days as it slowly creeps along the Atlantic coast. There is already flooding at New Bern, North Carolina and the eye of the storm won't reach land until the early hours of Friday morning, local time.
"Horrific", "lie", and "appalling" were just some of the words describing Donald Trump's baseless denial of the the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year: 2,975 lives lost, according to a George Washington University study commission by the Puerto Rican government. But in a morning tweet storm that sent Republicans running for cover, Trump claimed: "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths." He then accused Democrats - who had absolutely nothing to do with the tally - of adding deaths "to make me look bad". Less than two months from the next election, GOP political candidates spent the day racing to distance themselves from the comments.
Is Donald Trump's pick for the US Supreme Court about to have his #MeToo moment? California Senator Dianne Feinstein issued an incredibly vague press release saying she had forwarded a complaint about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to Federal investigators. That pretty much baited everyone in Washington, DC - including investigative journalists. "Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter," wrote Ryan Grim of The Intercept, "and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school." Senate Republicans are still planning to force through the appointment as early as next week.
A senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking a "leave of absence" following a series of sexual misconduct allegations. David Keyes said he wants to clear his name from "false and misleading accusations", after the Times of Israel reported that twelve women had accused him of inappropriate behaviour. The dozen include a candidate for New York's state senate (who said Keyes is a "predator") and a Wall Street Journal reporter.
A member of the Russian political punk group Pussy Riot is reportedly in intensive care after apparently being poisoned. Pyotr Verzilov was one of the activists who ran onto the field during the World Cup final. He reportedly lost his sight, his ability to talk, and his mobility in the minutes before he was rushed to hospital.
Meanwhile, the two Russians identified by British authorities as agents who poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter as well as killed another woman in the UK are denying the allegations. Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov appeared on Russian TV in non-threatening sweaters instead of bad-ass leather jackets, claiming they were in Salisbury, UK to visit a cathedral. That's right: They say they were just going to church.
A family's diaper budget just went way up. Doctors at Botshelong Hospital in South Africa say the Buthelezi quintuplets have a good chance at survival: "The babies were delivered at 30-weeks of gestation, which is extremely good for multiple births. Secondly, each of the babies was more than a kilogram at birth. Best practice tells us with these factors on our side, the babies have the best chance of survival," said Dr. Moeng Pitsoe, leader of a 16 member medical team supporting the family.
All five - Siyanda, Sibahle, Simesihle, Silindile, and Sindisiwe - are gaining weight and are expected to be released from hospital when they are 2 kilograms each.