World News Briefs For Monday, 17 Feb 2020
Hello Australia!! - The US rescues its people from ship, will Australia do the same? - Religious freedom versus religious preference - Elton John abruptly ends his Auckland concert - And more in CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering a plan to evacuate Australians on a cruise ship that has been docked in limbo off Yokohama, Japan for two weeks because of the coronavirus. About 200 of the 3,700 people on board the Diamond Princess are Australian; 356 of the passengers have been diagnosed with Covid-19, and 16 of them are Aussies being treated at Japanese health facilities. It is understood that if a medical expert endorses the evacuation, the people would be taken to Darwin and then to quarantine facilities where 266 other Australians flown from Wuhan, China are already waiting out a two week quarantine.
The US evacuated 400 of its citizens from the Diamond Princess, and 40 of them are infected with the coronavirus. They're being flown across the Pacific Ocean on a chartered plane: "If people on the plane start to develop symptoms, they'll be segregated within the plane," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The Covid-19 coronavirus has infected 69,267 people around the world, the vast majority in China; 1,669 people have died, mostly elderly and mostly in mainland China with one each in France, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the federal government's proposed "religious freedom bill" would seriously threaten, and in some cases override, human rights protections. "This draft legislation is giving a priority to religion, effectively elevating that over people's rights for freedom of expression," Mr. Barr told the ABC, "And this is, I think, quite a problematic situation where it's religious privilege, rather than freedom of religion." The proposal has been welcomed by religious groups, but widely criticized by others.
Another guy named Barr, much less popular: More than 1,100 former employees of the US Justice Department signed a public letter calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign over his handling of the case of President Trump's longtime friend and Republican Party operative Roger Stone. They're also calling on current DoJ employees to expose any unethical conduct going on under Barr. Last week, Barr undercut federal prosecutors who pushed for a nine-year prison term for Stone, who was convicted of several corruption charges, which closely followed Trump's tweet decrying the tough sentence. Critics say it is an unacceptable politicizing of the US federal law enforcement system.
Elton John was forced to halt his concert in Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium after falling ill with walking pneumonia. The 72-year old legend made it through several classics including "Candle in the Wind" and "All the Girls Love Alice" - but his voice gave out during "Daniel". He told the audience through tears, "I've just completely lost my voice. I can't sing," and, "I've got to go. I'm sorry." It's not yet clear if this will impact Elton's scheduled appearance in Melbourne on 22 February.
Actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa is dead at age 15 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. She's best known for starring in 2016's "Queen of Katwe", a Disney film about a chess prodigy from a Ugandan slum.
French police arrested a controversial Russian artist and his partner over the sex video that brought down the Paris mayoral bid of an ally of President Emmanuel Macron. Alexandra de Taddeo apparently came into possession of the videos showing Benjamin Griveaux havng an affair; her boyfriend Russian protest artist Piotr Pavlensky last week confirmed that he had released the sex video, saying it was a fight against political "hypocrisy". The videos may violate France's laws against revenge porn. Mr. Pavlensky was previously known for setting fire to the doorway of Russia's FSB secret police, and nailing his scrotum to the pavement in Red Square.