World AM News Briefs For Monday, 19 June 2017
Good Morning Australia!! - Scores of people are killed trying to escape a massive forest fire - The local council is pushed aside in surving the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster - Jihadists attack a tourist resort - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
A raging forest fire in central Portugal killed at least 61 people, many of them burned in their cars as they tried to flee the Pedrogao Grande area some 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon. It's believed a lightning strike from a "dry thunderstorm" was the cause. More than 350 soldiers joined 700 firefighters struggling to put out the fire, but they're up against a hot, dry summer with temperatures reaching 40 degrees with little rain. The Prime Minister said it's Portugal's worst such disaster in many decades.
Searchers found the remains of seven missing US sailors in their flooded sleeping quarters on the USS Fitzgerald, the guided missile destroyer hit by a container ship in the Pacific Ocean waters south of Tokyo. The Fitz sustained more damage than was originally reported, and was in danger of sinking as it limped back to port at the Yokosuka naval base near Yokohama. "There was a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline" along the bottom of the ship that flooding the crew quarters and the captain's cabin, according to Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin. The captain was one of three crewmen who had to be flown to hospital after the collision. The Philippine-flagged freighter showed some damage to the port side of the bow.
French President Emmanuel Macron is on track to win a parliamentary majority in the second round of elections, just weeks after his Presidential victory. Three polls indicate Macron's upstart, centrist La Republique en Marche (LREM) party - which didn't exist until a couple of months ago - will win between 355 and 425 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, far above the 289 needed to gain control. The traditional parties have been gutted, but none more than the Socialists who've held power for five years, predicted to get only 39 to 46 seats.
Two people are dead in a "jihadist attack" at a tourist resort in Mali, which is in northwestern Africa. Authorities evacuated 32 tourists from Le Campement Kangaba resort, which was reportedly popular with European tourists. Two plainclothes cops held the attackers back until French and EU forces intervened.
Iraqi forces attacked Mosul's Old City, the last district held by so-called Islamic State. Officials fear there are still more than 100,000 civilians trapped in the densely packed neighborhood of winding alleys and narrow streets.
North Korea says US agents stopped its diplomats at New York's JFK Airport and "mugged" them, confiscating a diplomatic pouch of papers as they returned from a UN conference on disabilities. The US has not commented on the accusation. Pyongyang claims the "illegal and heinous act of provocation" proves the US is a "lawless gangster state". Tensions between the two are high because of North Korea's nuclear program, and also because of the young American tourist who was arrested for theft and sent home with profound brain damage.
And now, the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower Fire in London..
Two UK cabinet ministers said the flammable cladding used on Grenfell Tower before it burned last week might have been banned by British building codes. Treasury chief Philip Hammond and Trade Minister Greg Hands said this to the BBC and Sky News, respectively. But Hammond pushed back against suggestions the government should have installed fire sprinklers in the building, claiming the devices "may not always be the best technical way of ensuring fire safety in a building". Opposition politicians said the Government ignored recommendations from a 2013 review from another high rise councilflat fire that killed six people: "We have looked, obviously, at those recommendations and what has happened to them," Hammond said, "My assessment is that we have responded correctly and appropriately to those recommendations."
London Mayor Sadiq Khan disagreed with Hammond, expressing urgency preventing any repeat of the Grenfell Disaster: "If it's the case that some tower blocks are – forgive me for language that may cause concern – if some tower blocks are death traps, we need to know which ones they are," Sadiq said. "And action needs to be taken, to provide housing for those people in their communities in the same area, and if necessary, those tower blocks repaired and refurbished in a safe way, not cutting corners, or those tower blocks pulled down as soon as possible."
The Kensington and Chelsea Borough council has been relieved of its responsibility for taking care of the survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster over complaints of absence and incompetence since Wednesday's tragedy. The job will be taken up by representatives from Whitehall, from London's city government, the British Red Cross, plus the London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan police. The group of survivors brought to 10 Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Theresa May told her, "With the exception of very few junior officers, the estate managers have been invisible in the aftermath of the tragedy," according to a statement. The Tory in charge of the council, Nicholas Paget-Brown, is refusing to step down: "I'm told the council is never in evidence, it's all disorganized," Paget-Brown told the BBC, "That was not my perception." He adds that people may not see council workers on the ground because they've been told not to wear hi-vis jackets for fear they would become "targets".
Regardless of which color jacket, the lack of action most certainly is "the perception" grinding away at residents. People in low-rise buildings are without hot water because their flats shared a boiler with Grenfell Tower. They're being told - via text message - to go to a local sports center to shower up. The constituency's new Labour MP Emma Dent Coad has been deluged with other examples: "There's one woman this morning and her child, they have been moved three times since Wednesday into different accommodation," said Dent Coad, "That's absolutely appalling." Other criticisms include a failure to communicate with survivors and their families; a lack of visible staff on the ground providing advice; a failure to distribute any of the money being donated; and a failure to ensure that surviving residents were allocated suitable accommodation nearby.
BTW, how come Portugal knew 61 people died in that wildfire in a forest, but the UK can't give a rough number of the dead and missing days after a fire in which there exists a list of tenants of each burned flat?