World AM News Briefs For Thursday, 17 May 2018
Good Morning Australia!! - US investigators examine Trump's money trail - America's allies are now openly talking about Trump's lack of reliability - Bad news for Whiskey lovers - And more in your CareerSpot Global News:
The orange clown Donald Trump released his annual financial disclosure, and right in the middle was a payment to his personal attorney Michael Cohen of between "$100,001 - $250,000". This was not specifically listed as reimbursement for the hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniel to keep silent about their (incredibly unsatisfying by her account) sexual encounter - but it lines right up. Trump had repeatedly denied paying hush money to Ms. Daniels until his other lawyer Rudy Giuliani pretty much spilled the beans earlier this month. Paying hush money in this way to influence an election could amount to an illegal campaign expense. The US Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has documented the matter and sent it to the Justice Department, which some analysts say is "tantamount to a criminal referral".
Leaders of the US Senate Intelligence Committee corroborated the intelligence community's assessment that the Russians, at the direct orders of Vladimir Putin, sought to influence the 2016 presidential elections to help Donald Trump. "There is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 election," said Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican. "Committee staff have spent 14 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft, and analytic work, and we see no reason to dispute the conclusions," he continued. This puts the Senate committee at odds with the lower House, where partisan Republicans tried to shield the orange clown and questioned the conclusion that the Russians were trying to help him get elected.
European Council President Donald Tusk slammed "capricious" Trump, tweeting "with friends like that who needs enemies?" Reflecting Europe's exasperation with the Trump White House's habit of sucking up to despots while treating traditional allies like crap, Tusk at an EU dinner said that Europe has to put up a united front to the clown's decision to pull the US out of the Iran Nuclear Deal: "The deal is good for European and global security, which is why we must maintain it," he said. Tusk also said that Europe should maintain the trans-Atlantic alliance, but should be prepared to go it alone when necessary: "Europe should be grateful by President Trump, because thanks to him we have got rid of old illusions," Tusk said, "He has made us realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm."
China is urging North Korea to go ahead with the planned summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in Singapore next month. Pyongyang, insulted by joint US-South Korean military exercises, threatened to cancel it after shutting down talks with Seoul. North Korea also hinted at the US' lack of reciprocity, bristling at demands to give up its nuclear program after the North made concessions such as releasing three Korean-American detainees and offering to close its nuclear weapons testing station (that everyone knows was already defunct because it collapsed in on itself).
Another reason North Korea might be reconsidering a deal with the US is because of the ill-chosen words of repulsive, walrus-mustached war-monger National Security Advisor John Bolton. In a weekend TV interview, Bolton said North Korea could follow a "Libya model" of denuclearisation. Pyongyang is well aware that Libya's Colonel Gaddafi give up his nuclear program for better relations with The West, only to be killed by Western-backed rebels who literally shoved a knife up his butt and beat him to a pulp (warning: disturbing images).
Malaysian police raided the home of ousted PM Najib Razak seeking documents related to the looting of billions of dollars from the country's 1MDB development fund. Najib is barred from leaving the country and is virtually under house arrest, save for trips to the neighborhood mosque for evening prayers. Malaysia's new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he is reinstating cooperation with both the US and Switzerland, which attempted to investigate the fraud on their end but were blocked by Najib.
Protesters chanted "Asesino!" ("Killer!") at Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and his vice president/wife Rosario Murillo as they arrived at a Catholic Seminary in Managua for peace talks with an increasingly disgruntled opposition. Ortega was once the darling of the Left, but his plan to slash pensions sparked weeks of raucous protests that his forces attempted to put down with deadly force. One student leader said directly to Ortega, "We're not here to hold a dialogue. We are here to negotiate your departure."
Investigators have found the first mass grave of victims of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, who was forced from office and into exile last year after nearly two and a half decades of oppressive rule. The twelve bodies are likely part of 54 dissidents who tried to flee Gambia in 2005, but were captured, tortured, and killed by Jammeh's paramilitaries. Human Rights Watch and Trial International are building a case to prosecute Jammeh, who remains in exile in Equatorial Guinea with the fleet of luxury cars and piles of cash he stole on the way out.
Japan's Suntory breweries will stop selling its famous Hakushu 12-year-old single malt Whiskey next month, and sales of its Hibiki 17-year-old blend reportedly will end in September. The latter is the Whiskey that Bill Murray's character drank in the 2003 movie "Lost in Translation". The problem was that 17-years ago, Japanese Whiskey sales slumped after economic slowdown following the go-go 1980s; Japanese distilleries scaled back production, and there's less of it today. Brian Ashcraft, co-author of Japanese Whisky: the Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Desirable Spirit, said the situation is "depressing".