World AM News Briefs For Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Good Morning Australia!! - Breaking News, Trump tried to influence the FBI's investigation into the Kremlin's influence over the White House - Israel reportedly angry that Trump shared its secrets with the Russians - Allies consider withholding intel from the US - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
The insanity in the White House grew to a fever pitch with Donald Trump's startling and idiotic admission that he did indeed share highly classified intelligence with the Russians in a closed-door meeting last week in which the Western media was not invited. In a blast of early morning tweets from the White House toilet, the orange clown framed his appalling lack of discretion as an attempt to sway Russia to increase its efforts against the so-called Islamic State - and besides, presidents can declassify whatever they want to declassify. The Washington Post yesterday revealed that Trump seemed more to be bragging to visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about his access to classified secrets: "I get the best intel," he told the Russians, "You wouldn't believe the stuff I hear." Yeah, actually they would.
The growing conventional wisdom is that Israel was the source of the information that Trump revealed to the Russians, and there are many in the Israeli intelligence community who are not happy. "There is a special understanding of security cooperation between our countries," an Israeli intelligence source told Buzzfeed news. "To know that this intelligence is shared with others, without our prior knowledge? That is, for us, our worst fears confirmed." Before Trump took office, Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that US spies warned Israel not to share certain intelligence with Trump because he might give it to Russia, which would then pass it off to its partners Syria and Iran - turned out they were right.
The Trump's leak of information to the Russians has crushed the credibility of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Last night, McMaster told a hastily-arranged news conference outside the White House, "There is no truth to the story as reported." The next morning, Trump tweeted that it was true. Later in the day, McMaster was standing in front of reporters again, claiming several times that it was "wholly appropriate" for Trump to give the classified information to the Russians; claiming that it was not important that Trump revealed the city in IS-controlled territory where the information was gathered to the chief benefactor of Syria and Iran; and speculating that Trump may not have known the source or that that he was revealing classified secrets.
A senior European intelligence official has told the Associated Press that his country might stop sharing information with the United States over Trump's carelessness. Senior German lawmaker Burkhard Lischka called Trump's disclosures "highly worrying". Another European who wouldn't go by name or country said that continued cooperation with Trump's US "could be a risk for our sources". According to Foreign Policy magazine, NATO allies were already fuming over having to rewrite internal reports to a 7th-grade level and tailor their upcoming meeting "to avoid taxing".. "Donald Trump's notoriously short attention span" on his first overseas trip.
And before the end of the business day in Washington, MORE Breaking News of Trump's incompetence and corruption: Trump asked then-FBI director James Comey to drop the investigation into his failed National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after less than a month over his ties to Russia and Turkey. "I hope you can let this go," the New York Times says Trump told Mr. Comey the day after Flynn stepped down in February. It is not a proper request a president would make of an FBI director. Comey interpreted this as Trump trying to wrongly influence the direction of a legitimate investigation, and began writing memos documenting his contacts with Trump to leave a paper trail. Trump fired Comey last week over his dogged pursuit of the Russian investigation.
Firing Comey? Over Russia. Dealing with Flynn? Over Russia. Leaking classified intel? Russia. At the end of the day, Trumps' scandals are always about one thing: Russia.
North Korea may be linked to the international ransomware attack. This is not definitive, but computer security firms Kaspersky and Symantec both said elements of the WannaCry virus have similarities to code used by a North Korean hacker gang known as the Lazarus Group. Shared code is not a smoking gun, and it is conceivable that whoever is responsible might have included it to attempt to frame North Korea. The WannaCry virus started hitting computers and systems around the world on Friday, locking users out of their computers unless they paid a ransom of AU$400 in Bitcoins.
Thailand appears to be backing off threats to block Facebook. Military government officials demanded that the social network remove posts and pages that supposedly violate Thailand's draconian lese majeste laws, which forbid any criticism of the king. The pages are still there and Thailand hasn't tried to block Facebook yet.
A panel of doctors in India has accepted a ten-year-old rape victim's plea to have an abortion. Terminations after 20 weeks aren't allowed unless doctors confirm the woman's life is in danger, but the court in the northern Indian state of Haryana already said it would accept the panel's recommendation. The girl was impregnated by her stepfather, who has since been arrested and charged.
Argentina has indicted the 88-year old founder of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo with misusing public funds. Hebe de Bonafini's supporters say the prosecution is politically motivated because she is a close ally of former President Cristina Fernandez. Mrs. de Bonafini lost two sons to the fascist dictatorship of 1976-1983, and she founded the group to help other families of the disappeared learn what happened to victims of the junta and the children stolen by the government.