World AM News Briefs For Monday, 20 March 2017
Good Morning Australia!! - NZ kicks out an American diplomat after Washington refuses to lift his immunity - Germany explains NATO to Trump - Protests against a backwards proposal - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
There's a mystery surrounding New Zealand's expulsion of a US diplomat. Colin White was seen leaving the country with a black eye and broken nose, indicating some sort of fight or altercation took place. Neither the Yanks nor the Kiwis will comment, especially on speculation that he got into a fight with a member of New Zealand's spy agency the GCSB, with which he was working. Whatever happened, New Zealand police asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to ask the US to waive his diplomatic immunity, indicating the potential of a crime that would normally be punished with a year or more in prison. The US did not agree, and Mr. White was sent home. The US mission in New Zealand has been without an ambassador since Donald Trump took office.
Germany is hitting back at the orange clown's assertion that it "owes" the US "vast sums of money" for NATO. Without mentioning the current occupant of the White House by name, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said: "NATO does not have a debt account." Which is correct - NATO members contribute a percentage of their GDP, and the US under President Barack Obama successfully got members to agree to up their contribution to two percent by the year 2024. "What we want is a fair burden-sharing, and in order to achieve that, we need a modern understanding of security," von der Leyen said. A recent poll showed that the percentage of Germans who view the United States as a trustworthy ally has dropped from 59 percent in November to 22 percent in February.
The director of the US FBI James B. Comey and National Security Agency (NSA) director Mike Rogers on Monday will appear before the House Intelligence Committee to speak about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. Lawmakers (at least the Democrats) are expected to grill them about Trump's political and financial connections to Russia. It will be the first time Comey and Rogers have testified publicly since Trump took office; during that time, Trump's first national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned over his Russian ties and and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from Trump-related investigations.
France will conduct an autopsy on the gunman who was killed at Paris Orly Airport over the weekend, to determine if he was drunk or on drugs at the time. 39-year old chronic criminal Ziyed Ben Belgacem phoned his father before the attack to say he had "screwed up with a gendarme". He pulled a weapon on a guard, said he wanted to "die for Allah", and other security agents shot him dead. French authorities already had him on their radar, saying he had a criminal record before having been radicalized in prison.
The Syrian Civil war managed to sneak up on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, with fierce fighting reported between security forces and rebels. Suicide bombers attacked government lines in the Jobar district, and Syria reports that they used tunnels as well. The government responded with airstrikes.
North Korea claims to have successfully tested a high performance rocket engine capable of launching satellites into orbit. Presumably, the subtext is that such as engine would allow North Korean missiles to hit other continents. This comes as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Pyongyang's only friend in the world, China. The US and China pledged to work together to get the North to take "a different course" and move away from its weapons programs.
Angola's parliament will vote on a draconian and regressive anti-abortion rights law this week, which drew protests over the weekend. The proposal, backed by the Roman Catholic Church, punishes anyone who has an abortion or performs one with up to 10 years in jail. It offers no exceptions to women who become pregnant through rape or incest. Isabel dos Santos, daughter of veteran President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, denounced the legislation as "criminalization of women".
Argentine President Mauricio Macri's approval ratings are slipping underwater: A poll published in the Clarin newspaper showed Macri's disapproval rating was 44.2 percent, compared with 40.2 percent of Argentines who approve. The neo-conservative Macri has championed market-friendly reforms that have damaged the South American country's social safety net. The poll also showed that 48 percent of Argentines think the economy will get worse in coming months, compared to 27 percent who think it will get better. A nationwide general strike is planned for 6 April.