2019, June, Newsletter

World Newsletter June 17, 2019

World News June 17


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has warned against “exploiting” the
murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for political gains, in what appeared
to be a veiled attack on Turkey.
Turkey’s ties with Saudi Arabia have come under strain since the brutal
murder last October of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish
officials were the first to report the murder and have continued to press
Saudi Arabia for information on the whereabouts of his dismembered body,
which has yet to be found. “The death of Jamal Khashoggi is a very painful
crime,” Prince Mohammed told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat in an interview
published on Sunday. “Any party exploiting the case politically should stop
doing so, and present evidence to the (Saudi) court, which will contribute
in achieving justice,” he added, without directly naming Turkey. The Prince,
however, added that he wants strong relations with “all Islamic countries
including Turkey”. The CIA has reportedly said the murder was likely ordered
by Prince Mohammed.
Prince Mohammed said the kingdom was committed to “full justice and
accountability” in the case.


Two damaged tankers arrived safely on Sunday to locations off the Emirati
coast after they were rocked by explosions in Gulf waters, in an incident
Saudi Arabia blamed on its regional arch-rival Iran.
The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous was carrying highly flammable methanol
through the Gulf of Oman on Thursday when it came under attack along with
the Norwegian-operated Front Altair – the second assault in a month in the
strategic shipping lane.
In his first public comments since the attacks, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed
bin Salman said in remarks published on Sunday that he would not hesitate to
tackle any threats to the oil-rich kingdom. “We do not want a war in the
region… But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our
sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” he told
pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat. He said Iran had responded to a visit to
Tehran by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “by attacking two tankers, one
of which was Japanese”. Mr. Abe had been on an unprecedented visit to the
Iranian capital in a bid to defuse tensions between Washington and the
Islamic Republic when the attacks took place.
Japanese vessel Kokuka Courageous’s Singapore-based owner BSM Ship
Management said in a statement on Sunday that it had “arrived safely at the
designated anchorage” and that its crew were “safe and well”. A damage
assessment and preparations for transferring the ship’s cargo would start
once authorities had completed “security checks and formalities”, it added.
The other ship, the Front Altair, was under safe tow by tug boats towards an
area off the coast of the eastern Emirati port of Fujairah. “First
inspections are under way and no hot spots have been identified following
the fire,” the vessel’s owners said in a statement Sunday.


U.S. President Donald Trump further stirred up his ongoing feud with London
Mayor Sadiq Khan by blaming him for a recent spate of stabbings and violence
in the U.K. capital.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Khan have repeatedly clashed ever since the
Pakistani-origin Mayor questioned the red carpet being rolled out for the
U.S. President by Britain, most recently for a state visit hosted by Queen
Elizabeth II earlier this month.
Mr. Khan has also likened Mr. Trump to “20th century fascists” for his
divisive views on immigration, with Mr. Trump hitting back with social media
messages about his “terrible job” as Mayor of London.
The U.S. President’s latest intervention on Twitter follows in the same
vein, demanding that Mr. Khan should be replaced.
“London needs a new Mayor ASAP. Khan is a disaster – will only get worse,”
he said, while retweeting a message that highlighted two stabbings and a
shooting in London in the last few days.
“He is a national disgrace who is destroying the city of London,” a
follow-up message read.
Mr. Khan’s spokesperson said the London Mayor’s thoughts were with the
victims’ families and he “is not going to waste his time responding to this
sort of tweet”.
“Violent crime has no place in our city, and there’s no higher priority for
me than Londoners’ safety,” Mr. Khan said on Twitter.


US President Donald Trump on Saturday accused The New York Times of “a
virtual act of treason,” after it reported the US is stepping up digital
incursions into Russia’s electric power grid.
Current and former government officials have described the classified
deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s power grid and other
targets, the Times reported.
The action is intended partly as a warning but also to leave the US poised
to conduct cyberstrikes in the event of a major conflict between the US and
Russia, the newspaper said.
Trump tweeted that the accusations were “NOT TRUE”, calling the media
“corrupt” and repeating accusations that journalists are “the enemy of the
“Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating
that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia,”
he wrote. “This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so
desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country.”
The Times report came after an investigation by US special counsel Robert
Mueller of alleged hacking by Russia’s GRU intelligence agency and social
media manipulation by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to benefit Trump’s
election campaign.


Sudan’s ex-president Omar al-Bashir was charged with corruption-related
offences on Sunday, as he appeared in public for the first time since he was
overthrown in April.
Wearing traditional white robes and turban, he was driven to the
prosecutor’s office in Khartoum, Reuters witnesses said.
Looking much the same as prior to his ouster, he walked briskly from the
vehicle into the building, smiling and speaking with the guards escorting
him. Minutes later he walked out scowling after prosecutors read out the
charges he faces.
“The prosecution … accused him of …possession of foreign currency,
accepting gifts in an unofficial manner,” prosecutor Alaa al-Din Abdallah
told reporters.
He said Bashir was given a chance to respond to the charges. His lawyers
declined to answer reporters’ questions.
The military overthrew and detained Bashir on April 11 after 16 weeks of
street protests against his 30-year rule. He was being held in prison in
Khartoum North, across the Blue Nile from the capital’s centre.


An Israeli court on Sunday convicted the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu of fraudulently using state funds for meals, under a plea bargain
which saw her admit to lesser charges.
Sara Netanyahu was found guilty of exploiting the mistake of another person
and ordered to pay a fine and compensation, in a deal approved by Jerusalem
magistrates’ court justice Avital Chen.
Netanyahu was also fined 10,000 shekels ($2,800) and ordered to reimburse
the state a further 45,000 shekels, the latter of which she will pay in nine
installments, at her request.
“The deal reached between the sides is worthy and appropriately reflects the
deeds and their severity on the criminal level,” Chen said in his ruling.
The 60-year-old, a high-profile presence at her husband’s side throughout
his long tenure in office, was initially charged in June 2018 with fraud and
breach of trust for buying catered meals despite the presence of a cook at
the minister’s official residence.
The amended indictment, approved Sunday, dropped the graft charges.


Voicing concern over growing business activities of North Koreans in Nepal,
the US has asked the Nepal government not to entertain North Koreans in the
country stating that Nepal as a member of the UN should respect the decision
taken by the global body to impose sanctions on the country.
Mark Lambert, special US envoy for North Korea, who is on a three-day visit
to Nepal, made this appeal to lawmakers, senior government officials and
ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the Himalayn
Times reported Saturday.
He expressed concerns over growing business activities of North Koreans in
Nepal. “He also expressed fear that North Koreans might have been using
Nepal as a base to commit cyber crimes,” a lawmaker, who met Lambert, was
quoting as saying. In the meeting, Lambert told the lawmakers that the UN
Security Council has placed sanctions on North Korea, and Nepal, as a member
country, should respect this decision, the daily said.
Nepal became a member country of the UN in 1955. The UN has imposed a number
of sanctions on North Korea after the country started developing nuclear
weapons, in violation of the UN charter.


Two light aircraft collided mid-air on their final approach at a regional
aerodrome in New Zealand on Sunday killing both pilots, police said.
Four parachutists on board of one of the planes had jumped shortly before it
crashed with the other plane, a training aircraft. A helicopter, also
preparing to land, managed to avoid the collision.
The police said that both planes dropped immediately after impact, hitting
the ground south of the Hood Aerodrome near the town of Masterton.
There was no immediate information about a potential cause of the crash and
the police would not release the names of the victims, saying they were
still trying to locate family members.
Witnesses told New Zealand media that they heard a loud bang and saw the
planes spiraling down.
Stuff.nz, a New Zealand news website, cited a local pilot instructor saying
the aerodrome was unrestricted up to 9,500 feet, but pilots were required to
record their movements through a shared radio channel.
One of the planes belonged to Skydive Wellington while the other to the
Wairarapa Aero Club. The Hood Aerodrome is owned and operated by the
Masterton District Council.
“We have a close-knit community at Hood Aerodrome and the incident has
understandably rocked that community,” the council said in a statement on
its website.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake stuck near the
remote Kermadec Islands northeast of New Zealand Sunday, briefly prompting a
tsunami warning.
After initially forecasting “a threat to beach, harbor, estuary and small
boat activities”, New Zealand’s Civil Defence organization gave the
all-clear eight minutes later.
The earthquake was give a preliminary magnitude of 7.4, but later downgraded
to 7.2 by the US Geological Survey.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also lifted its tsunami warning for parts
of the South Pacific but said “minor sea level fluctuations may occur in
some coastal areas near the earthquake”.
The earthquake struck at 10:55am (2255 GMT Saturday) at a depth of 10
kilometres some 928 kilometres north-northeast of the New Zealand city of
Tauranga in the North Island.

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