World PM News Briefs For Friday, 12 February 2016
Hello Australia!! - Bernie Sanders takes on Henry Kissinger - Malcolm sacks Stuart Robert - The big powers reach a deal on cutting back at least some of the fighting in Syria - And more in your CareerSpot World News Briefs:
The US and Russia have announced a cease fire in Syria to take effect in a week's time. The deal involves their respective proxies, with the US backing a coalition of so-called "moderate" rebel groups and the Russians backing the government of Bashar al-Assad. The two main troublemakers - Islamic State and Al Nusra Front - are not included in this deal, nor do the two world powers plan to stop bombing raids against them. Meeting in Munich, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also announced plans to increase Syrian peoples' access to humanitarian aid.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has sacked Human Services Minister Stuart Robert from his frontbench for breaching ministerial rules during a trip to China. An investigation found that Mr. Robert had an indirect financial stake in the company he helped in Beijing. Robert claimed he was acting as a private citizen when he went to Beijing in 2014 with his friend and donor to the ruling Liberal Party, Paul Marks. Mr. Marks made the trip to seal a mining deal between his company Nimrod Resources and Chinese government.
A Japanese lawmaker who made headlines for taking paternity leave to assist his wife is stepping down after admitting he was messing around on her as well. Kensuke Miyazaki repeatedly bowed and apologized for "causing an uproar" as he announced he was resigning his seat representing Kyoto. Tabloids broke the story of Miyazaki's affair earlier this week, publishing photos of him with a woman identified as a "bikini model" in the days before his wife, fellow politician Megumi Kaneko, gave birth on 5 February. Both Miyazaki and Kaneko are members of the ruling Liberal Democrat Party, which is neither Liberal nor Democratic.
Tokyo's Nikkei stock index was badly hammered on Friday, losing more than five percent because of the sell-off in banking shares that roiled investors in Europe and the US. The Aussie S&P/ASX 200, Hong Kong, and Seoul all dropped around one percent. Markets in China and Taiwan are closed until Monday for Lunar New Year holidays.
Venezuela's Supreme Court overruled the conservative-controlled congress and granted emergency economic powers to President Nicolas Maduro. The ruling gives Mr. Maduro greatly expanded authority over the economy for 60 days. Maduro is considering increasing tax revenue, raising the price of gasoline, and clamping down on consumer price controls to prevent gouging. Maduro's Socialists lost control of congress for the first time in 17 years amid an economic crisis that he suggests was the result of meddling by the US.
A rather amazing thing happened at the Democratic Party Presidential Debate. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, possibly the most progressive candidate to run and have a chance in many decades, took on Hillary Clinton's relationship with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger which she touted in an earlier meet-up. "I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend," Mr. Sanders declared, "And I will not take advice from him on foreign policy."
This is significant, because age has mellowed America's attitude to Kissinger, who is seen as an elder statesman instead of as a war criminal. But Sanders reopened debate of Kissinger's role in shameful episodes: During the Nixon Administration of the 1970s, Kissinger played a role in devising America's illegal carpet-bombing of Cambodia, which sowed the seeds for the murderous Pol Pot regime; he backed a wave of fascism that replaced Latin American democracies with military dictatorships, which then killed hundreds of thousands of opponents. Kissinger's later op-ed columns championing pre-emptive military action were used by the Bush Administration to justify the Iraq war. It will be interesting to see if Ms. Clinton scrapes off her relationship with Kissinger in the wake of Sanders' scathing critique.