World AM News Briefs For Saturday, 17 June 2017
Hello Australia!! - Fury and mistrust grasps the community where a London housing tower burned - Tory penny-pinching is coming into focus in the deadly fire investigation - Trump rolls back Obama's Cuba policy for no good reason - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
Officials raised the death toll in the Grenfell Tower fire in London to 30 lives lost, amid growing frustration in a community that feels it is being ignored and abused. With more than 70 people still unaccounted for, it's clear to many that the picture is bleaker than the government acknowledges. Hundreds of protesters gathered at the council building of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea while chanting, "We want answers, we want justice!" At one point they pushed passed the doors and briefly occupied the lobby. Rumors are spreading like wildfire that the government invoked a secrecy law to withhold the true death toll; while this has been denied by the Defense Ministry, the government is not doing itself any favors with vague announcements and appearing to keep an arm's length from the people most impacted by the disaster.
For example: An hour after the council building protests, UK Prime Minister Theresa May had to beat a hasty retreat on her second attempt to visit the community. She never spoke with people, and police escorted her out a side door of Saint Clement's Church in North Kensington to shouts of "coward" and "shame on you" to escape in a waiting SUV from what police called the "fury from the pushing crowd". A day earlier, Ms. May was criticized for going to the scene of the fire and conversing only with police and fire brigade officials while avoiding people. Ten Downing Street cited nebulous "security concerns". But 91-year old Queen Elizabeth and Prince William did go to meet volunteers and community members on Friday without fretting about their safety, mooting to the "security" argument.. which didn't escape May's detractors.
The protests then advanced onto the streets of central London, blocking intersections such as Oxford Circus along the way to Number Ten and the BBC which some believe hasn't held the government to account in its reporting. Consider how accurate death tolls often follow bomb attacks in far off locales where news gathering is more difficult - then compare it to the foggy reporting coming out of this disaster: That's got to be infuriating. At Downing Street, the protesters chanted, "May must go!" And still the Tories were tone deaf. Conservative Councillor Ken Hawkins tweeted pictures of the peaceful protests, and sarcastically compared his outraged people to a lynch mob.
There's no indication that the fire was started deliberately, according to London Metro Police. But Scotland Yard is investigating why it spread so quickly, after it was confirmed that last year's renovation work used inexpensive, plastic-backed aluminum cladding. It was the cheaper of two options available, saving the council about AU$3.35 per square meter. Using the fire-resistant version would have added AU$8,400 to the retrofit project's final price tag of $14.6 Million. Such cladding is banned on high-ride towers in the US and Germany because of its flammability, and experts warned not to use it on Grenfell Tower in the project to make it more visually appealing to its wealthy neighbors in Kensington and Notting Hill.
Adding fire sprinklers to Grenfell Tower would have cost just AU$335,000, raising questions on what value the government places on the lives of those who perished. Former Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO) official Seraphima Kennedy told the BBC: "This cuts right to the heart of how the state views the poorest people in society. We have sprinklers in society; we don’t have them in high rise council blocks. Because they are too expensive? Because it would be disruptive? I mean it really does make you ask questions about how the state values lives and which lives it values."
Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is dead at age 87. Internationally, he's remembered for presiding over German reunification after decades of Cold War partitioning in 1989, and being a brilliant guiding force in bringing Europe together under the Euro single currency. To many Germans, the longest-seving post war chancellor is known for doling out illegal cash donations to members of his party in a massive patronage scheme, which ended his career in scandal and made him a pariah in his own Christian Democratic Union Party.
Russian is investigating whether one of its air strikes in Syria killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the reclusive leader of the so-called Islamic State. The air strike on 28 May killed more than 330 fighters. There have been numerous previous reports of al-Baghdadi's death, and never any confirmation of proof.
A US Navy ship has collided with a freighter in the waters off Japan's main island south of Tokyo. NHK is broadcasting video of the USS Fitzgerald destroyer with heavy damage to its side. The other ship is reportedly a Philippine-flagged vessel. UPDATE: One injured American was airlifted back to base, and seven crewmembers are missing.
And now, the idiot..
Donald Trump appeared to confirm he is the subject of a criminal obstruction of justice investigation. In a midday twitter burst, the orange clown wrote: "I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!" It appears to be a reference to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - who Trump has previously praised - and who wrote the memo justifying the sacking of James Comey. Rosenstein later appointed Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to investigate Trump's firing of Comey and Russian influence over Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
Later, Trump flew to Miami to do something incredibly stupid. To a gushing audience in the Miami Cuban Exile community - the people who haven't f***ing gotten over Fidel Castro's ascension to power in 1959 - he announced he was rolling back key parts of President Barack Obama's warming of relations with Havana. Travel and sending money to Cuba would be restricted - But he is not reversing key diplomatic and commercial ties, and will not close the US embassy in Havana. So.. restrictions on American people, who would have gone and spent money on a fledgling capitalist class on the Communist island, thwarting American long-term goals. But business? Have at it, hoss!
The orange clown also paid tribute to US Representative Steve Scalise, who is improving in hospital after being shot by an angry middle-aged white guy who legally and easily purchased firearms. But Trump told the audience, "My dear friend Steve Scalise took a bullet for all of us," which completely mischaracterized what happened in Wednesday's shooting. Scalise is a Republican who has boasted of his commitment to gun owners' rights in the US, was a fierce opponent of gay marriage and the rights of LGBT people to visit their partners in hospital (which became legal only a few years ago), and once compared himself to a notoriously racist politician and also addressed racist groups. Scalise was rescued from the gunman by two black Capitol Hill police officers who were shot in the attack, taking bullets for him. The wounded cop who fired the shot that killed the gunman is Crystal Griner, a married Lesbian whose wife might not have been able to visit her in hospital if Congressman Scalise had his way.