World AM News Briefs For Tuesday, 13 March 2018
Good Morning Australia!! - Theresa May effectively accuses Russia of a "reckless and despicable act" - Find out more about "Novichok", the word everyone is going to learn today - Bombs, crashes, and Shinzo Abe is on the ropes - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
UK Prime Minister Theresa May pointed the finger directly at Russia in the "reckless and despicable" chemical weapon attack on British soil against a ex-patriot Russian who spied for MI6 and the man's daughter, leaving both in hospital in a critical condition. In an extraordinary address before Parliament, May identified the military-grade chemical weapon used as "part of a group of nerve agents known as 'Novichok'", produced only by Russia. Therefore, she alleged, either the Russian government was responsible for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, or Russia allowed the agent to get into the hands of whoever is responsible. May gave Moscow until the end of the day Tuesday to respond, or she will go forward with the UK's next move, which she hinted could involve diplomatic expulsions and economic sanctions.
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin smirked in the face of a British reporter in southern Russia if the Kremlin was behind the poisoning, replying that Britain should figure out what happened to the Skripals before blaming the poisoning on Russia: "You first get to the bottom of things over there, and after that we can discuss it." In Moscow, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Sergei Skripal worked for British intelligence and was poisoned on British soil, and therefore the incident "has nothing to do with Russia, let alone the Russian leadership." With the Russian presidential election just a few days off, it's extremely unlikely that Putin will respond in any meaningful way to May's demands.
The Skripals were stricken in the town of Salisbury on the night of 4 March. They had eaten at an Italian restaurant called Zizzi's and went to a pub as well. The police officer who first responded to the unconscious pair, Nick Bailey, was also sickened and is hospitalized in a serious condition, although officials say he can talk. Both PM May and Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wished Bailey well. UK Health officials this week urged people who were in those Salisbury locations at the time - as many as 500 - to make sure they wash the clothes and personal possessions they brought to the locations. Some of the furniture and fixtures inside Zizzi's are said to have been destroyed as a precaution.
Now, what is "Novichok"? The chemical weapon is said to be five to eight times as deadly as VX, the nerve agent used to assassinate the brother of North Korea's Kim Jong-un last year. The Soviet Union developed Novichok in the 1970s and '80s to be unnoticed by NATO's chemical weapon detection or protection gear. It's not clear when or how the Skripals were exposed to the chemicals, but nerve agents can take the form of gas, aerosol, or liquid, and enter the body through inhalation, the skin, or contaminated liquid or food.
Police in Austin, Texas are examining a possible hate crime motive in three bombings that killed a man, a teenage boy, and injured a woman. The two murdered men were African America, the injured female is Latino. Investigators and the police chief rushed to the scene of the third explosion on Monday, moments after announcing the possible link between the first two blasts. They're urging people not to touch unsolicited parcels left on their doorsteps. This is simultaneous with hundreds of thousands of visitors descending on the Texas capital for the South By Southwest Music and Arts Festival, where more than 50 Australian acts will be performing.
A Bangladeshi passenger plane with 71 passengers and crew on board crash landed at Kathmandu's airport in Nepal. At least 49 people were killed, and that could get worse. Nepal aviation officials in Kathmandu and the CEO of US-Bangla Airlines traded blame for the deadly accident. The Nepalese say the pilot signaled he was coming in from both the north and the south, and the airline boss says the tower gave his pilot bad instructions.
Five people died in a helicopter crash into New York City's East River, which was caught on video. Investigators are looking at a passenger's luggage possibly striking the emergency fuel cutoff switch.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says a growing corruption scandal "could undermine trust in the entire government" and added: "I deeply apologise to the people." Last year he said he'd resign if he or his wife Akie could be tied to the sale of prime land in Osaka to an extreme right-wing school that teaches the kind of nationalist crap that basically led to World War II - oh, for less than 15 percent of what the land was worth. This week, the finance ministry admitted it had altered official documents to redact the juicy parts in which Akie Abe recommended the project go ahead, the part where Akie said she was "moved to tears" by the nationalist curriculum, and the part in which Shinzo praised the far-right lobby group linked to the chief of the crazytown school for budding war criminals (not its real name). Despite this and plunging poll numbers, Abe is unlikely to resign just yet.
Colombia's Marxist FARC party took less than a third of a percent of the vote in national elections. It'll still get ten seats in the legislature, as specified by the peace deal that ended their part of the 50 year civil war. But dang! Anyway, anti-FARC conservative parties took 50 seats, the largest bloc in an election that delivered no clear majority to any party. Despite this, center-right President Juan Manuel Santos will announced that peace talks with the other Communist guerilla group, the ELN, are restarting after an impasse and some tit-for-tat violence.