World News Briefs For Friday, 17 January 2020
Howdy Australia!! - A key US government investigator confirms Trump's crimes - Nancy Pelosi warns Trump's "cronies" - US feds stop a racist plot - A deal might avoid a war in eastern Africa - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
Donald Trump broke the law when he withheld aid from Ukraine that had been previously approved by the US Congress, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," read the decision by the non-partisan investigative body. Trump is accused of withholding the aid to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce a corruption investigation of his Democratic party rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Ukraine finally announced that it has opened an investigation, but certainly not the one the Trump wanted. Prosecutors in Kiev are looking into allegations that Trump and his cronies were spying on then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a celebrated corruption-fighter. Earlier this week, US House of Representatives impeachment investigators released transcripts of texts between two of those cronies - failed Republican Congressional canddiate Robert Hyde - which really, really gave the impression that one was stalking Ms. Yovanovitch with the intent of doing harm. The FBI raided that guy's house on Thursday. The other person in that text exchange, Lev Parnas, went on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday to throw them all under the bus - Trump, lawyer Rudy Giuliani, several members of Trump's cabinet, and a couple of Republican Congressmen to boot.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she doubts that the US Justice Department will appoint a special prosecutor to look into these new allegations, at least not while Trump is in the White House and William Barr is Attorney General. The new allegations are "an example of all of the president's henchmen," Ms. Pelosi said, "and I hope that the senators do not become part of the president's henchmen." Pelosi referred to the Republican majority in the US Senate, where Trump's impeachment trial takes place next week.
The US FBI arrested three members of a far-right "racially-motivated violent extremist group" (known to the rest of the world as "terrorists") before they could travel to Virginia for a gun-rights rally that extremists hope would turn violent. Their group "The Base" was allegedly planning violent attacks on blacks, Jews, and other minorities in hopes of creating a "white ethno-state" in North America. One of the suspects is 27-year old Patrick Mathews, a fugitive Canadian military reservist who slipped over the border after Canadian military investigators began probing his racist activities. The US FBI has charged Mathews with various offences, including being an "alien" in possession of firearms and transporting guns and ammunition with intent to commit a serious offence.
Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt have reached a draft agreement on a proposed dam on a key feeder of the Nile River. The disagreement threatened to plunge the region into war over the precious resource of water. Ethiopia is building the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River, looking to generate electricity to power its development. But that would restrict water downstream in the other countries, and Egypt views any restriction on the Nile as an existential threat. The preliminary deal will have Ethiopia fill the mega-dam "in stages" over the July and August wet season to allow for the "early generation of electricity" while "providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan in case of severe droughts".
Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar will reportedly attend a peace conference in Berlin this weekend to work out a solution to Libya's civil war. The Berlin talks are the latest international effort to end nine months of fighting between Haftar's forces based in the east of Libya and the UN-recognized government in Tripoli. Since Haftar's assault on Tripoli in April of last year, fighting has killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters, and displaced thousands of people.
China says a second patient has died of that mysterious SARS-like Coronavirus that seems to have popped up in a seafood market in Wuhan City. And Japan says that a traveler who spent time in Wuhan has brought the virus home to Tokyo. Japan is the second country to detect the virus, following Thailand - Hong Kong also charted some infections.
French people rallied in Paris, Saint-Nazaire, Marseilles, and other cities rallied against President Emmanuel Macron's proposed pension cuts, some of which he has already withdrawn as the national strike stretches out to its 43rd day.