2019, March, Newsletter

World Newsletter Mar 15, 2019

World News March 15


UK Prime Minister Theresa May enjoyed a rare good day in Parliament,
fighting off her opponents and winning the endorsement of British
politicians to seek to delay Brexit day. The result on Thursday means her
Brexit plan – which has twice been rejected by huge majorities in the House
of Commons – is still in play.
The House of Commons voted 412 to 202 to support May’s motion, which sets
out how she will ask the European Union to extend the Brexit deadline from
March 29 to June 30, if a deal can be reached by next Wednesday.
The motion also opens the door to a potentially much longer postponement. If
no Brexit agreement is passed in another parliamentary vote by March 20,
more time will be needed to find a solution and the UK will have to take
part in European Parliament elections in May, it says. This is aimed at
encouraging opponents to back her deal.
Thursday’s votes represent a welcome piece of good news for the British
leader, after a bruising three days in which her political authority
appeared to drain away. It means that her strategy to put her deal back to a
vote in the Commons by March 20 remains on course.


The United States grounded Boeing Co’s money-spinning 737 MAX aircraft on
Wednesday over safety fears after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that
killed 157 people, leaving the world’s largest planemaker facing its worst
crisis in years.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cited new satellite data and
evidence from the scene of Sunday’s crash near Addis Ababa for its decision
to join Europe, China and other nations in suspending 737 MAX flights.
The crash was the second disaster involving the 737 MAX, the world’s
most-sold modern passenger aircraft, in less than five months.
The new information from the wreckage in Ethiopia and newly refined data
about the plane’s flight path indicated some similarities between the two
disasters “that warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared
cause,” the FAA said in a statement.
The acting administrator of the FAA, Daniel Elwell, said he did not know how
long the U.S. grounding of the aircraft would last. A software fix for the
737 Max that Boeing has been working on since a fatal crash last October in
Indonesia will take months to complete, Elwell told reporters.


Speaking publicly about his differences with Facebook, WhatsApp’s co-founder
Brian Acton urged Stanford University students to delete their Facebook
accounts, as he explained his reasons for selling the app to Mark Zuckerberg
in the first place.
Acton made statements on Facebook while addressing a panel that also
involved a former Facebook software engineer, Ellora Israni at the
university, Business Insider Australia reported on Wednesday.
“We give them the power. That’s the bad part. We buy their products. We sign
up for these websites. Delete Facebook, right?” Acton was quoted as saying.
Acton started WhatsApp with co-founder Jan Koum. Facebook acquired the
messaging service in 2014 for $22 billion.
“I had 50 employees and I had to think about them and the money they would
make from this sale. I had to think about our investors and I had to think
about my minority stake. I didn’t have the full clout to say no if I wanted
to,” Acton added.
Previously, in an interview with Forbes, Acton had explained that a
disagreement on monetising WhatsApp was the reason he quit Facebook and gave
up $850 million on the table.
“At the end of the day, I sold my company. I sold my users’ privacy. I made
a choice and a compromise. I live with that every day,” Forbes had quoted
Acton as saying.


Bangladesh’s jailed former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia on Thursday filed a
plea in the Supreme Court, challenging a High Court verdict that enhanced
her punishment to 10 years imprisonment from five years in a corruption
In the petition, Zia, 73, prayed to the apex court to suspend her punishment
and grant her bail in the Zia Orphanage Trust Corruption case.
The Appellate Division is yet to fix any date for hearing the petition.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief is serving a 10-year term in a
special structure of the old Dhaka Central Jail. Her party suffered a
miserable defeat in the December 30 elections bagging only six seats in
300-seat parliament.
The ex-premier’s conviction on a charge of “moral turpitude” debarred her
from contesting the polls.
“The lower court sentenced Zia to five years in jail in the case, but the
High Court passed an order doubling the jail term in the case (and)
therefore we filed the appeal seeking stay order on effectiveness of her
punishment and her bail,” Zia’s lawyer Kaisar Kamal told newsmen.


The right-wing Italian president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani
apologised on Thursday for remarks defending dictator Benito Mussolini’s
record, as MEPs called for his resignation.
“As a convinced anti-fascist, I apologise to all those who may have been
offended by what I said. My remarks were in no way intended to justify or
minimise an anti-democratic and totalitarian regime,” Mr. Tajani said in a
statement in English.
Mr. Tajani was in hot water earlier after talking up dictator Benito
Mussolini’s contributions, in an Italian radio interview on Wednesday.
“You don’t have to agree with his methods… but let’s be honest, Mussolini
built roads, bridges, buildings, sports installations, he remade many parts
of our Italy,” said Mr. Tajani.
“Generally speaking I don’t think his government action was positive. But
things were done,” he added.


Malaysia’s attorney-general on Thursday rejected Vietnam’s request to free a
woman accused of the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North
Korea’s leader, and a court set April 1 for her trial to resume.
Vietnam’s call had followed Monday’s release, at Indonesia’s request, of an
Indonesian woman, who had been accused along with the Vietnamese, Doan Thi
Huong and Siti Aisyah were charged with killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing his
face with VX poison, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in
February 2017.
“It’s our complaint that the public prosecution has not acted fairly and
justly to Doan Thi Huong,” her lawyer Hisyam Teh, who asked for an
adjournment on the grounds that his client was unwell.
Teh told the court the rejection of Vietnam’s request was “perverse”, and a
case of discrimination, as the attorney-general had favoured one party over
another, since the court had ordered both to enter their defence.
Vietnam’s ministers of justice and foreign affairs are communicating with
their Malaysian counterparts to secure his client’s release, Teh added.


Beto O’Rourke, a skateboarding former punk rocker feted as one of the
Democratic Party’s rising stars, announced on Thursday that he is running
for President. “The only way for us to live up to the promise of America is
to give it our all and to give it for all of us,” Mr. O’Rourke, 46, said in
a video, filmed alongside his wife in their El Paso, Texas home.
In an article, published online hours before his announcement, Mr. O’Rourke
acknowledged his ambition for the top job but stopped short of confirming
his run. “Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I
humanly can for this country at this moment,” he said.
Mr. O’Rourke now enters a pool of 14 other Democrats seeking to oust
President Donald Trump. They include several U.S. Senators – Elizabeth
Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and
the leader among current candidates, liberal powerhouse Bernie Sanders.
The last main piece of the 2020 election puzzle on the Democrats’ side is
former Vice-President Joe Biden, who has said he will reveal his political
plans soon.


A senior New Zealand government Minister was assaulted in an early-morning
street attack on Thursday that left him with a black eye and shook up
Wellington’s normally laid-back political atmosphere.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw was walking to the Parliament building
known as the Beehive when a man punched him in the face in what his office
described as an unprovoked attack.
While Mr. Shaw’s office played down any political aspect to the assault,
Trade Minister David Parker told reporters the attacker “was said to be
shouting things out about the United Nations”. Mr. Shaw, who is Climate
Change Minister and whose party is part of the ruling centre-left coalition,
was not seriously injured.
His office said two members of the public helped him and he continued to
Parliament, attending a meeting before going to hospital for a precautionary
check-up. He suffered a black eye, telling stuff.co.nz “it looks worse than
it is”.
Police said a 47-year-old man was arrested and would appear in court on
Political violence is practically unheard of in New Zealand, a nation of
about 4.5 million where most government Ministers do not have a regular
security detail.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that “in New Zealand, you just don’t
expect these things to happen”. “We have an environment in New Zealand where
politicians are accessible, and that’s something we should feel proud of,”
she told reporters.

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