World News Briefs For Sunday, 18 March 2018
Hello Australia!! - Russia retaliates after the UK's diplomatic expulsions - The US intel community bristles after Trump's latest political firing - Cleaning up the mess at the top of the world - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
Russia's foreign ministry will expel 23 British diplomats in retaliation against the UK's expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats. The tit-for-tat expulsions follow the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury on 4 March with a nerve agent that most experts, plus the UK and its allies, agree could only have come from Russia. UK Prime Minister Theresa May brushed off Russia's retaliation: "Russia's response doesn't change the facts of the matter - the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable." Russia has denied involvement. The two poisoned Russians remain in a critical condition two weeks after the attack.
At least 150,000 people have reportedly fled Afrin, the Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria that's under attack from Turkish forces and local Syrian allies. Turkey denies targeting hospitals or civilians, but "bodies were everywhere" according to a fleeing resident who spoke to the BBC. East Ghouta outside the Syrian capital has seen a smaller but similar exodus, as civilians were finally able to leave the suburban area that's been bombed into rubble by Russian and Syrian government air strikes. Hundreds have been killed in each hotspot.
Former top US FBI official Andrew McCabe kept memos of his personal interactions with the orange clown Donald Trump, who had McCabe fired last night just two days before he could have collected his pension. McCabe put out a statement making it clear that he believed the firing was political and aimed at damaging him as a witness in Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe of corruption in and Russian influence over the Trump administration. "The big picture is a tale of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized," McCabe wrote. "This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally." McCabe also hired a lawyer, signalling that Trump might not get away with this.
Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan blasted Trump as "a disgraced demagogue" because of the firing of Mr. McCabe. "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America," Brennan wrote, "America will triumph over you." It is extremely unusual for former intelligence officials to criticize administrations, and it's safe to say that Brennan's words are the strongest of the modern era.
Construction executives had just told Florida transportation that "there were no safety concerns" about a pedestrian walkway bridge; within three hours, it collapsed on a busy Miami street outside Florida International University, killing six people. During the Thursday morning meeting, and engineer told officials a crack in the pre-fab concrete walkway "did not compromise the structural integrity". The bridge project's lead engineer had left a phone message about the crack two days before the collapse, but construction company officials on Friday claimed they didn't hear it until after the disaster - failing to mention the meeting with transportation officials that occurred BEFORE the disaster. Basically, some people are going to held accountable for this.
Lawmakers grilled Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski for eight hours over his ties to a Brazilian construction giant. The country's Financial Intelligence Unit found that between 2004 and 2017 Kuczynski received US$3.4 Million from consultants close to the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which is embroiled in pay-to-play scandals the world over. Congress last week voted to begin impeachment proceedings against Kuczynski. It's actually the second recent impeachment attempt against the IMF banker, who avoided the last one by striking a deal with the devil and pardoning the blood-drenched fascist former dictator Alberto Fujimori.
Africa's only female president has resigned in a financial scandal. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius announced her resignation Saturday amid allegations she purchased jewelry and clothing with a credit card from a London-based nongovernmental organization (NGO). Gurib-Fakim holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry. She is a member of the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) and wants to boost scientific capacity in Africa; but the NGO's credit card was only supposed to be used for that mission. Gurib-Fakim insists that once she realized her mistake, she reimbursed the PEI.
One of the world's worst jobs is at the top. Sherpas have commenced the big, annual operation to clean up Mount Everest, which is choking on litter from Western climbing expeditions - food tins, beer and liquor bottles, oxygen canisters, discarded trekking kit, not to mention sacks of caucasian poo. Yeti Airlines offered to fly anything that can be recycled to a center in the capital Kathmandu. Sherpas collected 1,200 kilograms of recyclable climber crap just on the first day of the effort.