World AM News Briefs For Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Good Morning Australia!! - It wasn't just last weekend baking Australia - Israel's expulsion of African immigrants appears to be the next challenge for Europe - Is Putin making Stalin great again? - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
Yep, things are warmer. The Bureau of Meteorology confirms that 2017 was Australia's third warmest year on record. The BOM's Annual Climate Statement says this happened even though 2017 was not an El Nino year, which is normally associated with warmer temperatures. "We have seen that warming across the land surface temperatures and in the ocean surrounding Australia, so they have both warmed by a similar amount and that's consistent with global warming as well," said the BOM's head of climate monitoring Dr. Karl Braganza.
Last weekend's heatwave in southeastern Australia was positively gruesome in places: The Sydney suburb of Cambelltown NSW had to gather and dispose of hundreds of dead bats that perished in the heat, dropping out of trees in the process. One colony of Flying Foxes appears to have been wiped out. Volunteers also rescued heat-stressed Koalas and other wildlife adversely impacted by temperatures that exceeded 47 C degrees.
Drenching rain fell on parts of Southern California where devastating wildfires raged last month, causing waist-high mudslides that killed at least five people. Several peopel had to be rescued. Among the hardest hit areas was the wealthy community of Montecito in Santa Barbara County, where tons of mud, boulders, and other detritus knocked a few upscale homes off of their foundations. "It's going to be worse than anyone imagined for our area," said Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason, "Following our fire, this is the worst-case scenario."
The two Koreas are agreeing to hold military talks to cool down border tension. The first meeting between North and South at the Panmunjom border village in two years also resulted in an agreement to increase North Korean participation in the upcoming Winter Olympic games in South Korea. This very slight thaw comes amid ugly tensions ratcheted up by nuclear threats made by the orange clown Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Despite the FBI telling a US Senator that there is no secret Cuban sound weapon, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is refusing to return US Diplomats to Havana. Tillerson and a Senate committee are beginning new investigations into the maladies reported by 24 American diplomats, including dizziness, fatigue, cognitive issues, and sleep loss. Cuba has steadfastly denied any action to deliberately harm the US diplomats, and accuse the Trump administration of attempting to sabotage the policy of rapprochement begun by former President Barack Obama.
A senior Hamas official is in critical condition after accidentally shooting himself in the head while cleaning his rifle. Imad al-Alami is a founder of the Palestinian militant group, is said to have close ties to Iran, and was declared a "terrorist" by the US.
African migrants being asked to leave Israel are already heading north to Europe, and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees is warning of an impending crisis. The UNHCR has identified 80 Eritreans who made it to Rome using relocation money provided by Israel to return to Africa. Instead, the group contacted human traffickers in Libya, who subjected them to abuse, torture, and extortion to get them to Europe. Immigration campaigners have blasted Israel for its decision to deport 30,000 African immigrants or otherwise cajole them to leave.
Police in Mecca, Saudi Arabia have arrested several people who appeared in a video allegedly depicting a gay wedding ceremony. Authorities did not say what charges the men will face. Human rights campaigners say the extremely conservative kingdom has no law specifically outlawing homosexuality, but relies on interpretations of Islamic Sharia law to sanction people suspected of extra-marital sexual relations, gay sex, or other "immoral" acts.
A massive anti-mafia operation across Italy and Germany chalked up the arrests of 169 suspected mafioso. Among other things, the 'Ndrangheta crime group from Italy's Calabria region strong-armed German restaurants into buying Pizza-making supplies and pastries from Southern Italy. Authorities confiscated assets worth up to 50 Million Euros.
There are fears Russia may use Stalinist tactics to silence a historian who dug up evidence of Stalin's crimes against humanity. 61-year old Yuri Dmitriev located the graves of 9,000 people who died in Soviet leader Josef Stalin's Great Terror of the 1930s at a time when Russia's current conservative government embraced Stalin's oppressive legacy as one of "strength". He's been forced to udnergo "psychiatric evaluation", and was charged with child pornography because of photos of his eleven-year old daughter that a court had already ruled were not inappropriate, but then it changed its mind. Some of Russia's leading cultural figures reportedly believe Dmitriev is being framed for exposing facts that are inconvenient to President Vladimir Putin's nationalism.