Americas

  • One Nation sought millions in political donations from US National Rifle Association

    An investigative report conducted by Al Jazeera has revealed senior One Nation figures met with representatives of the powerful American National Rifle Association (NRA), as well as Koch Industries, in a bid to secure donations. Pauline Hanson’s Chief of Staff James Ashby and One Nation Queensland leader Steve Dickson were secretly filmed during the meetings in Washington DC back in September. Mr Ashby and Mr Dickson are seen during a meeting with the NRA seeking ... ► Read more

  • Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer charged with extortion, embezzlement, fraud

    Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels in her claims against United States President Donald Trump, has been charged with extortion, embezzlement and fraud, according to US federal prosecutors. The US attorney’s office in New York charged Mr Avenatti with trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike, following his arrest on Monday (local time). It is alleged that he and an unnamed co-conspirator told Nike’s lawyers on 19 March that they had ... ► Read more

  • Trump campaign did not collude with Russia, says Mueller report

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election found no evidence of criminal activity on the part of President Donald Trump’s campaign but stopped short of exonerating the President, according to a summary of Mr Mueller’s report released by US Attorney-General William Barr. After two years of investigating allegations that Russia interfered with the 2016 election to secure victory for Mr Trump, Mr Mueller provided his report to ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 March – 16 March 2019

    49 killed in NZ mosque shootings Three suspects are in custody following deadly shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Major parties launch NSW election campaigns On Sunday the New South Wales branches of the Liberal and Labor parties officially launched their election campaigns, two weeks ahead of the 23 March polling date. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. George Pell ... ► Read more

  • US Senate overturns Trump’s border emergency declaration, setting up veto

    The United States Senate voted on Thursday (local time) to overturn President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southwestern border. Twelve Republican Senators joined the Democrats and independents in voting down the measure 59–41, arguing that the President had exceeded his authority by trying to build a wall on the border with Mexico without congressional approval. “Never before has a President asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the President ... ► Read more

  • Australia, EU and others suspend 737 MAX 8s following Ethiopian Airlines crash

    Australia, the European Union and other jurisdictions have indefinitely banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner from their airspace, following a second fatal crash within five months. On Sunday a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 crew and passengers on board. Investigators are looking for similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of a Lion Air MAX 8 that crashed in Indonesia, killing ... ► Read more

  • Venezeula: Juan Guaido investigated for sabotage

    Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab says he has asked the Supreme Court to investigate opposition leader Juan Guaido for allegedly sabotaging the country’s electrical system. Much of Venezuela has been without power since Thursday (local time) afternoon. President Nicolás Maduro has said that “US technology” was used to sabotage the electricity grid and has pointed the finger at the opposition. Mr Guaido says it is down to government mismanagement. Mr Saab’s announcement came just hours ... ► Read more

  • Controversy over Trump plan to bill allies for hosting American troops

    The Trump administration is preparing demands that South Korea, Germany, Japan and, eventually, other countries hosting American troops pay the full cost of the deployment and an additional 50%, according to administration officials. Under the direction of United States President Donald Trump, some countries would be asked to pay up to six times as much as they currently pay under the new approach. This move is intended to pressure the US’ NATO partners into accelerating ... ► Read more

  • Trump to be “very disappointed” if North Korea building rocket site

    United States President Donald Trump says he would be “very disappointed” if North Korea is redeveloping a missile launch site that was partially dismantled last year. Freshly released satellite images appear to show the reconstruction of the Tongchang-ri launch site near the North Korea-China border. Pyongyang started dismantling the site following last year’s historic summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong-un. Released by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) — ... ► Read more

  • WATCH: HBO releases Game of Thrones season 8 trailer

    With just over one month to go before its premiere, Game of Thrones is finally giving fans a peek at what to expect in its final season. The HBO hit series has released a full trailer for its eighth and final season, showing new footage and underscoring the stakes as the White Walkers launch their long-awaited assault on the Seven Kingdoms. From the look of things in the trailer, the show plans to be going ... ► Read more

  • House Democrats open corruption probe into Trump

    The United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary has opened an investigation into allegations of corruption against President Donald Trump and his administration. On Monday (local time) the Judiciary Committee demanded documents from the White House, and the President’s company, charity, transition team, and election campaign, as well as several of his associates and both adult sons. Committee chairman Jerry Nadler opened the probe with letters to 81 people and entities seeking documents ... ► Read more

  • Prince Charles charity linked to Russian money laundering network

    Key points A Moscow-based investment bank called Troika Dialog managed a network of offshore companies which funnelled money across Europe and the US. Some of the offshore companies were involved in money laundering. Dirty money was mixed with legitimate money and distributed via screen companies, making it impossible to trace back to the source. End recipients most likely were not aware of any wrongdoing. A charity run by Prince Charles was one such recipient. It ... ► Read more

  • Venezuela: Guaido calls for mass protests on return

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for mass protests across the country on Monday, following a week-long tour of South American allies. In January this year, the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared incumbent President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election fraudulent, and proclaimed Mr Guaido as interim President in accordance with the country’s constitution. Mr Guaido has been recognised by more than 50 countries as the interim President of Venezuela, and defied a travel ban imposed by President ... ► Read more

  • US-NK summit: leaders disagree over abrupt ending

    United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have given conflicting explanations for why their Thursday summit in Hanoi ended abruptly. Mr Trump claims that North Korea had demanded an end to US sanctions. “It was all about the sanctions,” he told reporters. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that.” However, North Korea says it made “realistic proposals” at the summit. According to Mr Trump, Mr ... ► Read more

  • Trump-Kim summit 2.0: second day of talks to focus on denuclearisation

    Verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is expected to dominate the second and final day of talks between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Despite positive rhetoric, little progress has been made on that and other issues since the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore last year. Wednesday’s meetings were limited to brief questions from reporters, one-on-one talks and a “social dinner”, which included US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and ... ► Read more

  • Microsoft to go ahead with defence contract despite employee outcry

    Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella defended the company’s multimillion-dollar contract with the Pentagon to supply augmented reality (AR) headsets in an interview with CNN Business on Monday (local time). Last week, dozens of employees publicly criticised that same contract and called for the company to end its ties with the United States military. On Friday (local time), a group of about 50 Microsoft workers published a letter demanding that the company pull out of its nearly ... ► Read more

  • UN Secretary General: “We need a new vision for arms control”

    United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday (local time) warned pillars of “international arms control architecture are collapsing” and called on the United States and Russia to salvage the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. During an address at the UN’s Conference on Disarmament, Mr Guterres said the world “simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War”. “I will be blunt. Key components of the ... ► Read more

  • Lawsuit claims Trump kissed campaign worker without consent

    A woman who worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has sued the President, accusing him of kissing her without consent before a 2016 rally in Tampa, Florida. Alva Johnson said in the lawsuit that the alleged incident was “part of a pattern of predatory and harassing behavior towards women” by Mr Trump. “This accusation is absurd on its face,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “This never happened and is directly contradicted ... ► Read more

  • Personae non grata — how ISIS members are being stripped of their citizenship and potentially left stateless

    Neil Prakash, Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana share a lot in common. All three were born in western countries. They all left their home countries to join Islamic State. And they have all now been stripped of their citizenships. Mr Prakash was born in Melbourne, Australia. He converted to Islam in 2012 and left for Syria in 2013. Ms Begum was born in the United Kingdom and flew to Syria with two friends in 2015, ... ► Read more

  • Russia will respond in kind if US deploys missiles in Europe, says Putin

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a stark warning to the United States during his annual address to Russia’s Federal Assembly. Mr Putin said that any US missile deployments in Europe would be considered a “serious threat”, and that Moscow would retaliate in kind by targeting Western capitals with Russia’s new weaponry. “I’m saying this clearly and openly, Russia will be forced to deploy weapons that can be used… against the decision-making centres that are ... ► Read more

  • Bernie Sanders to contest Democratic presidential primaries in 2020

    United States Senator Bernie Sanders has announced a second tilt at securing the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020. The democratic socialist unsuccessfully challenged Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination, but will attempt to leverage the revived left-wing elements of the party. In an email to supporters, the 77-year-old Vermont Senator pledged to build a vast grassroots movement to challenge the special interests he says dominate politics. The primaries and caucuses that determine the Democratic ... ► Read more

  • Sailor in Life’s iconic Times Square kissing photo dies

    George Mendonsa had a seizure on Sunday (local time) after falling at an assisted living facility in Middleton, Rhode Island, his daughter Sharon Molleur said. In the famous image, one of four taken by Alfred Eisenstadt for Life magazine, Mr Mendonsa is seen ecstatically kissing a woman in a white nurse’s uniform. The picture was published by Life as V-J Day in Times Square, referring to the day Japan surrendered to the US. The iconic ... ► Read more

  • Merkel rejects US demand for withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the United States’ demands that its European allies withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, defending the use of multilateral instruments to ease geopolitical tensions. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Dr Merkel said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains the best way of containing Iran’s nuclear programme, reaffirming Germany’s commitment to the agreement despite the US’ withdrawal. “I see [Iran’s] ballistic missile programme, I see Iran ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 February – 16 February 2019

    Government loses vote on own legislation as refugee treatment bill jumps constitutional hurdle The Federal Government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 78 years. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Trump to declare national emergency to build border wall United States President Donald Trump will sign a border security bill to dodge another government shutdown and declare a national emergency to fund the construction of his wall ... ► Read more

  • Trump to declare national emergency to build border wall

    United States President Donald Trump will sign a border security bill to dodge another government shutdown and declare a national emergency to fund the construction of his wall along the US-Mexico border. The border security bill is essentially compromise legislation which includes US$1.3 billion (AU$1.8 billion) for border security measures such as physical barriers, but does not allot funds for Mr Trump’s wall. “The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the ... ► Read more

  • Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman sentenced to life imprisonment

    Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been sentenced to life in prison, after a US court found him guilty of drug trafficking. Jurors, whose identities are confidential, found Mr Guzman guilty on all 10 counts after deliberating for six days. Authorities have described the evidence, which dates back to the late 1980s, as an “avalanche”. Mr Guzman reportedly showed no emotion while the verdict was read. However, once the Jury left the ... ► Read more

  • Corruption trial of former Malaysian PM postponed

    The corruption trial of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been postponed, after his lawyers filed an application to delay the trial. Mr Najib has been charged over his alleged involvement in the 1MDB state development fund scandal, in which more than US $4.5 billion of public money was embezzled. He is accused of receiving almost a quarter of 1MDB’s funds into his personal bank accounts, and faces 42 charges of corruption, money laundering ... ► Read more

  • Universal sues Clive Palmer over use of Twisted Sister hit

    Universal Music is suing Clive Palmer for copyright infringement, after the businessman used a reworked version of Twisted Sister’s 1984 hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to promote the United Australia Party. Universal bought the publishing rights to the song from Twisted Sister’s frontman and songwriter Dee Snider in 2015, and filed the suit last week. The band has publicly denounced the cover, with band manager and guitarist John Finch saying that the band “have ... ► Read more

  • Venezuelan military blocks aid route bridge

    The Venezuelan military has blocked a border bridge with Colombia to stop an aid convoy organised by the country’s opposition. Troops made make-shift barriers by using shipping containers and a tanker of sorts, positioning them in a way that blocks all vehicle access across the bridge. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter to demand the blockade be removed. Opposition figures have called on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to let the aid ... ► Read more

  • Trump: Islamic State will be eradicated from Syria, Iraq next week

    United States President Donald Trump has said the White House is poised to make an announcement next week that all territory formerly controlled by Islamic State (IS/ISIS) in Syria will be reclaimed. “The United States military, our coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq,” he said at the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS ministerial on Wednesday (local time). “It should ... ► Read more

  • Super Bowl 2019: did you catch the game within the game?

    It’s that time for the year again to dissect the NFL extravaganza — the Super Bowl of 2019. For the record, the Patriots beat the Rams in a dour defensive display. But this article isn’t about the game or the much debated halftime performance by Maroon 5. The real game is played in the ad breaks, or at least that’s what ad executives think. Companies spend just over $US5 million ($AU7 million) for a 30 second ... ► Read more

  • SOTU: Trump announces second North Korea summit

    United States President Donald Trump has announced a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be held 27-28 February. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night (local time), Mr Trump said if it were not for his election, the US and North Korea would be at war. “Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months,” he said. “If ... ► Read more

  • “Tit-for-tat”: Russian Defence Minister announces plan to create new land-based missiles

    Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Tuesday that Russia plans to develop new land-based missiles, four days after Washington and Moscow suspended the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. General Shoigu said the new missiles were in response to the United States’ development of missiles banned under the INF. “[The US] are actively working on creating ground-based missiles with the range capability of over 500km, which is outside the treaty-stipulated limitations,” he said. “In this ... ► Read more

  • Venezuela: Guaido dismisses Maduro’s “civil war” warning

    Venezeulan opposition figure Juan Guaido has brushed off a warning from President Nicolas Maduro that the country’s intensifying political crisis could spark a civil war. Mr Guaido declared himself president amid mass protests in Caracas against President Nicolas Maduro. OPMagazine understands the protests were over the plummeting quality of life as a result of hyperinflationary economic collapse and allegations of vote rigging in the recent presidential election. Talk of a civil war started when President Maduro ... ► Read more

  • ASX tipped to rise despite Banking Royal Commission report

    The final report from the Banking Royal Commission looks set to have little bearing on market performances, with Australian shares tipped to rise. Analysts say the recommendations were not as severe as many in the financial sector had initially feared. “The much anticipated release of the royal commission final report was disappointing, in our view,” UBS banking analyst Jonathan Mott said. “There was much discussion around misconduct within the banks and the need to change ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 27 January – 2 February 2019

    Sydney light rail: NSW may pay over $600 million extra in dispute settlement with Acciona The New South Wales Government could pay Acciona — the Spanish company contracted to build Sydney’s $2 billion light rail — more than $600 million in a dispute settlement. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 2019 election: Julia Banks to challenge Greg Hunt for Flinders Liberal MP-turned-independent Julia Banks will contest the seat of Flinders in the upcoming general ... ► Read more

  • US Midwest gripped by polar vortex freeze

    Millions of Americans across the United States Midwest region are experiencing Arctic temperatures of nearly -50ºC, the result of a split in the polar vortex that has already caused six deaths. The polar vortex is a swirling mass of Arctic air centred on the north pole. During the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, the swirling eddies grow longer and reach further south, resulting in cold air being transported south by the polar jet stream. This has caused ... ► Read more

  • “For the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future”: Maduro open to mediated talks

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has expressed readiness to hold negotiations with the American-backed opposition in the presence of international mediators, while accusing the United States of ordering his assassination. The beleaguered leader, who previously rejected calls for talks, told Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday (local time) he changed his stance “for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future”. Mr Maduro said the talks could be held with the mediation of other ... ► Read more

  • Trump ally Roger Stone pleads not guilty to Mueller probe charges

    Roger Stone, a former political adviser to United States President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and longtime ally, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he attempted to obstruct a congressional investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr Stone was arrested in an early-morning raid on his home in Florida, and is the latest of Mr Trump’s close political allies to be charged as a consequence of Special Counsel Robert ... ► Read more

  • “Time is running out”: Hakeem al-Araibi’s wife sends pleas for help to Canada, New Zealand

    The wife of Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has written to the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand in a desperate bid for help over her husband’s detention in Thailand. In letters reported by The Guardian, she urged the Canadian and New Zealand leaders to act, warning that a decision to return him to Bahrain could mean “possible death”. Mr al-Araibi’s wife, who did not want to be named, cited the recent case of ... ► Read more

  • Australia retains ranking in anti-corruption index

    Australia has kept its ranking in Transparency International’s annual anti-corruption index among the top 20 cleanest countries in the world. Denmark, New Zealand and Finland took first, second and third respectively, with Australia sitting just between the UK and Austria at 13th. Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index shows more than two-thirds of countries scoring below 50 — 100 being very clean and 0 being very corrupt. Australia has maintained its 2017 ranking of 77/100. While ... ► Read more

  • US announces criminal charges against tech giant Huawei

    The United States officially announced on Monday (local time) that it has laid 13 criminal charges against China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, several of its subsidiaries, and its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged Huawei and Ms Meng with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran by using a subsidiary company to do business with Tehran. Ms Meng has denied allegations that she played a lead role ... ► Read more

  • Deloitte: China is Australia’s biggest economic risk

    An economic forecaster says China, not the local housing market downturn, could be the major swing factor for Australia’s economy in the year ahead. In its outlook for the year ahead, Deloitte Access Economics forecasts a “still growing, but slowing” scenario for the global and national economies. The business outlook report flags that global economic growth “may be pegged back to rather more pedestrian rates through the course of 2019 and 2020”, as the impact ... ► Read more

  • US sanctions Venezuelan state-owned oil firm, urges military accept peaceful power transition

    The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as tensions between Caracas and the West continue to worsen. During a joint White House press conference with Treasurer Steven Mnuchin, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the sanctions on the oil firm, which exports 41% of its products to the US. “We have continued to expose the corruption of [Nicolas] Maduro and his cronies and today’s action ensures that ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 20 January – 26 January 2019

    Brexit delay looks likely ahead of Downing Steet’s new proposal Suggestions that Britain’s departure from the European Union could be delayed are indicating Prime Minister Theresa May is set for yet another Brexit defeat. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. US Supreme Court lifts injunctions on transgender military service ban On Tuesday, the Unites States’ highest court lifted two temporary injunctions that had prevented the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on transgender individuals ... ► Read more

  • Russia, Turkey, China condemn US intervention in Venezuela

    Russia, Turkey, China and Syria have all condemned the United States’s decision to recognise Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido as the president of the South American country. They issued statements declaring strong support for the incumbent Nicolas Maduro, who is facing mass protests on the streets of Caracas. “We consider the attempt to usurp sovereign authority in Venezuela to contradict and violate the basis and principles of international law,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, while ... ► Read more

  • Federal workers occupy Senate office building in protest against government shutdown

    More than 300 United States federal workers and their supporters have occupied the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington DC in protest against the ongoing government shutdown, which has left nearly 800,000 government employees without pay. The workers held a 33-minute silent protest, representing one minute for every day of what has become the longest government shutdown in US history. Afterwards, protesters shook their fists and chanted “no more food banks — we need paycheques”, ... ► Read more

  • Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen postpones testimony, citing threats from the President

    Michael Cohen, former lawyer to United States President Donald Trump, has postponed his testimony to Congress due to threats against his family from the President. Mr Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a statement that Mr Cohen has decided to to postpone his scheduled 7 February appearance because of “ongoing threats against his family from Trump”. In an interview with Fox News this month, the President indicated he had damaging information relating to Mr Cohen’s ... ► Read more

  • Julian Assange launches legal action against US

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has launched a legal challenge against the United States Government in a bid to reveal charges that are “secretly filed” against him. The Australian whistleblower has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under political asylum since 2012. Mr Assange believes that if he were to step outside the embassy, he would be extradited to the US. In an attempt to ward off the possible extradition, Mr Assange’s lawyers have ... ► Read more

  • Venezuela cuts all diplomatic ties with US

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has given United States diplomats 72 hours to leave the country, after Washington recognised opposition figure Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. In an address to supporters outside the presidential palace in Caracas, Mr Maduro delivered the announcement that he was cutting diplomatic ties with the US. However, shortly after Mr Maduro’s announcement, Mr Guaido told foreign embassies to disobey the socialist leader’s orders and keep their diplomats in Venezuela. Mr ... ► Read more

  • US Supreme Court lifts injunctions on transgender military service ban

    On Tuesday, the Unites States’ highest court lifted two temporary injunctions that had prevented the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. By a 5–4 majority the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to overturn the injunctions, but declined to further intervene in the cases until after lower court appeals have been completed. The injunctions were issued in relation to President Donald Trump’s August 2017 Memorandum on Military ... ► Read more

  • Did MAGA hat-donned kids mock a Native American elder?

    A video picked up by media at the weekend showing young male students wearing Make America Great Again (MAGA) caps surrounding and drowning out a Native American elder does not reveal the whole picture. Social media lit up when footage circulated online of the confrontation at a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The video showed a young student in a red MAGA cap standing directly in front of elder Nathan Phillips, who was ... ► Read more

  • Trump says proposed shutdown-breaking deal won’t give amnesty to “dreamers”

    United States President Donald Trump says his proposed deal to end the ongoing government shutdown would not lead to amnesty for “Dreamers” — undocumented youth migrants — but has indicated he could support an amnesty for illegal immigrants as part of a later compromise. Mr Trump said on Twitter that he would not seek the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants living in the US, and attacked Democrat leaders for refusing his offer. “Amnesty is ... ► Read more

  • Outrage grows over MAGA hat-donned teens mocking native American elder

    A video showing a crowd of teenagers surrounding a Native American elder and other activists and mocking them after an Indigenous Peoples March has sparked global outrage. Videos of the confrontation show a smiling young man in a red Make America Great Again hat standing directly in front of the man, who was playing a drum and chanting. Other kids could be seen laughing, jumping around and making fun of the chants. “I did not ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 13 January – 19 January 2019

    Theresa May: Government has confidence of Parliament, time to deliver Brexit British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for bipartisan talks to develop a Brexit deal that will pass the House of Commons. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. NSW Premier under pressure amid fresh calls for pill testing NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is standing firm on her opposition to pill testing, despite pleas from the family of a teenager who died of a ... ► Read more

  • Trump ordered rigging of opinion polls, says former lawyer

    Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen claims he paid a firm to manipulate online polling data “at the direction of an for the sole benefit of” the future President. In a tweet Mr Cohen confirmed The Wall Street Journal‘s report that he paid RedFinch Solutions to rig two public opinion polls in favour of Mr Trump before the 2016 presidential election campaign. “I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it,” he added. ... ► Read more

  • Trump denies Pelosi military aircraft for foreign trip citing shutdown

    United States President Donald Trump has effectively cancelled US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s upcoming visits to Brussels and Afghanistan a day after she suggested he delay his upcoming State of the Union address. Mr Trump cancelled the trip by denying the senior Democrat use of military aircraft and a delegation. In a letter to Ms Pelosi, the President said he felt “that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating ... ► Read more

  • Pelosi urges Trump to postpone State of the Union address

    Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has suggested to President Donald Trump that his annual State of the Union address to Congress be postponed until after the current government shutdown ends. “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address, or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government concerned by death sentence for Canadian man convicted in China

    The Australian Government has deep concerns over the death sentence given by a Chinese court to a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle a quarter of a tonne of methamphetamine from China to Australia in 2014. Mr Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, but on appeal to the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court he was sentenced to death. “We are deeply concerned with ... ► Read more

  • Gillette toxic masculinity ad sparks calls for boycott

    Some customers say they are throwing their Gillette razors out in disgust at the shaving supply company’s latest ad campaign challenging men to “shave their toxic masculinity”. The ad, called ‘We Believe’, is among the first to address the #MeToo movement head on and urges society to no longer use the excuse “boys will be boys” for bad behaviour — but not everybody is on board. On social media, some people have claimed the ad demonises ... ► Read more

  • Trump: “I never worked for Russia”

    United States President Donald Trump has rejected the suggestion that he has had inappropriate dealings with Moscow, in response to increasing scrutiny of his relationship with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. “I never worked for Russia, and you know that answer better than anybody,” Mr Trump responded to a reporter as he left the White House on Monday morning (local time). “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace ... ► Read more

  • Actor Rose McGowan pleads no contest, avoids imprisonment for cocaine possession

    American actor Rose McGowan has been ordered to pay US $2,5000 after pleading no contest to a charge of misdemeanour possession of a controlled substance. The Loudoun County Circuit Court also gave her a 12-month suspended sentence, meaning she will not go to prison unless she commits another offence in that period. “Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war,” Ms McGowan told Washington DC broadcaster WTOP Radio. “I’m in it for ... ► Read more

  • Trump denies he kept details of conversations with Putin secret

    United States President Donald Trump has dodged questions about his relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, amid reports he went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep details of one-on-one talks with the Russian President secret. During an interview with Fox News late on Saturday (local time), Mr Trump was asked whether he works, or ever worked, for the Russian Government. The US President replied that it was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.” ... ► Read more

  • Trump reaffirms threat to declare national emergency on visit to Mexican border

    United States President Donald Trump reaffirmed his threat to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the country’s border with Mexico if Congress does not grant him the funds he requested. “I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” Mr Trump told reporters during a visit to a border patrol station in McAllen, Texas on Thursday (local time). Flanked by border officers and relatives of people killed by illegal immigrants, and ... ► Read more

  • Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to publicly testify before Congress

    Michael Cohen, former lawyer to United States President Donald Trump, will publicly testify before a US House of Representatives Committee on 7 February he confirmed on Thursday (local time). In a statement, Mr Cohen said he had accepted an invitation from committee chairperson Elijah Cummings to appear before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “I look forward to having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible ... ► Read more

  • Trump storms out of meeting with senior Democrats

    United States President Donald Trump stormed out of a meeting after Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi — the Speaker of the House of Representatives — said she would not agree to fund a wall on the border with Mexico. The President met with Ms Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer at the White House to discuss the ongoing government shutdown, which has resulted from Congress refusing to approve funding for the wall. According to the Democrats, ... ► Read more

  • Kevin Spacey Pleads Not Guilty to 2016 Sexual Assault Allegation

    Actor Kevin Spacey pleaded not guilty of sexual assault when the Oscar winner appeared in court to answer to allegations that he groped a teenager at a bar in Massachusetts in 2016. The case is the first against Mr Spacey to reach court, after a series of sexual assault allegations were made against him at the end of 2017. The former House of Cards actor was not asked for his plea during the arraignment, but ... ► Read more

  • Trump to visit US-Mexico border following primetime address

    United States President Donald Trump will visit the country’s southern border with Mexico on Thursday. In a tweet, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the President would “meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis”. Mr Trump intends to give a primetime address before visiting the border, and has requested television networks allow him to interrupt scheduled programming on Tuesday night at 9:00pm American Eastern Standard Time. The ... ► Read more

  • Analysis: The Trump-Congress Border Stalemate

    The impasse between United States President Donald Trump and the US Congress continues to prolong the shutdown that has seen significant non-essential government services become unavailable. Many federal employees are indefinitely without work, and federally-owned facilities are shut or unattended, including most national parks. The stalemate is the result of Congress failing to pass legislation that would ensure the Government has adequate funds to continue operating as normal. Mr Trump demanded that Congress apportion $5.6 ... ► Read more

  • Australian share market opens lower as Wall St plunges

    The local share market has opened lower following the negative lead of foreign markets. The Australian Dollar (AUD) rose slightly to 71.14 US cents at 8:10am (AEDT), on the back of a weaker greenback. The Nasdaq Composite was the worst-performing US index. It fell into a bear market, before clawing back some losses in the final trading hour. New York’s tech-heavy index has shed 19.5% since its late-August peak. Overnight, it tumbled 1.6% to 6,528, ... ► Read more

  • Mattis to retire in February, urges Trump to consider future

    United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will step down from his post in February “with distinction”, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Thursday (local time). Mr Trump praised General Mattis for helping him “in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations”. The President did not identify a successor but said a replacement “will be named shortly.” General Mattis’ departure follows President Trump’s announcement that he is withdrawing all US ... ► Read more

  • Trump Foundation to be dissolved amid allegations it was used for personal and political benefit

    United States President Donald Trump has agreed to dissolve his eponymous personal charity and give away its remaining $1.75 million amid allegations he used it for his own personal and political benefit, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced on Tuesday (local time). The Attorney-General filed a suit against the charity, Mr Trump, and his three eldest children in June this year, alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the Donald J Trump Foundation. Ms Underwood said ... ► Read more

  • Iowa poll: Joe Biden top pick for 2020 US presidential election

    Former US Vice President Joe Biden holds the pole position in the first CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll among likely 2020 Democratic caucusgoers, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke joining him as the only possible candidates in the field with double-digit support. The new Iowa Poll finds 32% of likely caucusgoers saying they back Mr Biden as their first choice, 19% Senator Sanders, 11% Congressman O’Rourke, 8% Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, 5% ... ► Read more

  • Maria Butina admits to being Russian agent in plea deal

    A Russian woman accused of being a secret agent has admitted that she conspired to infiltrate the American gun rights movement to gather intelligence on conservative political groups as Donald Trump rose to power. Maria Butina, 30, agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge as part of a deal with US federal prosecutors. The case, which is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, ... ► Read more

  • Trump says he never told Michael Cohen to break the law

    US President Donald Trump has responded to his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen’s sentencing, saying he “never directed” Mr Cohen to break the law. Mr Cohen was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday (local time) for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Mr Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia. Both Mr Cohen and federal prosecutors ... ► Read more

  • “Blind loyalty”: Donald Trump’s former “fixer” sentenced to three years in prison

    Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday (local time) for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Mr Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia. US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan sentenced Mr Cohen to 36 months for the payments, which violated campaign finance law, and to ... ► Read more

  • Huawei CFO granted bail by Canadian court

    A court in Vancouver, Canada has granted bail to Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese electronics giant Huawei, while she awaits a hearing for extradition to the United States. The US alleges the 46-year-old daughter of the company’s founder misled multinational banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting those banks at risk of violating US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country. Justice William Ehrcke granted bail to Ms Meng, with a bond of ... ► Read more

  • Suspected Russian spy Maria Butina reaches plea deal

    Federal prosecutors have reached a plea deal with Maria Butina, the Russian woman who parlayed her interest in gun rights and her Republican Party connections into an unofficial influence campaign inside the US. Ms Butina has agreed to plead to a single charge of conspiracy to act as a Russian agent on America’s soil without registering as required with the Justice Department. She faces a maximum of five years in prison but could serve far ... ► Read more

  • European markets tumble, Wall St. rebounds, AUD surges against the Pound

    Political turmoil in London has caused the Pound to plunge and European markets to tumble. British Prime Minister Theresa May called off a crucial vote on her Brexit deal so she can go back to Brussels and ask for changes to it. The benchmark Paris and Frankfurt indices lost 1.5% each, while London’s FTSE fell 0.8%. Wall Street also fell sharply initially, with the industrial-skewed Dow Jones index shedding up to 500 points at its ... ► Read more

  • Ecuador’s president says Assange can leave London embassy “in near-liberty”

    Ecuador’s president said on Thursday (local time) that conditions have been met for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the country’s embassy in London, which would end a six-year standoff with British authorities. “The way has been cleared for Mr Assange to take the decision to leave in near-liberty,” President Lenin Moreno told reporters, explaining that he still had to answer in Britain for violating the terms of his bail. President Moreno, however, said Britain ... ► Read more

  • Putin warns of new arms race if US withdraws from INF treaty

    Russia will develop missiles banned under a Cold War agreement if the US exits the pact, President Vladimir Putin has warned. His comments came shortly after the Russian Foreign Ministry said it received official notification that the US intends to withdraw from the INF unless Moscow remedies what Washington says is a serious violation of the treaty. Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, it banned both countries’ use of all short and medium-range ... ► Read more

  • George HW Bush farewelled as world figures gather to pay respect

    An emotional George W Bush has paid tribute to his father, former President George HW Bush, during a state funeral in Washington on Wednesday (local time). Mr Bush Jr, himself a former president, described him as “a noble man, the best father”. All surviving US presidents attended the funeral, sharing a pew in the US National Cathedral in Washington DC. Mr Bush Sr, who served as the 41st US president between 1989 and 1993, died ... ► Read more

  • ASX surges following US-China trade war ceasefire

    Australian markets have rebounded after China and the United States agreed to a trade ceasefire at the G20 summit over the weekend. US President Donald Trump agreed to hold off for three months until March 1 before he increases tariffs on $US250 billion worth of Chinese imports. In the meantime, negotiators from Beijing and Washington will attempt to negotiate a deal to de-escalate their trade war, which has plagued global markets for the past year. ... ► Read more

  • George HW Bush dies at age 94

    George HW Bush, the 41st president of the United States, has died at age 94. Mr Bush served one term as president from 1989 to 1993. He also served as a congressman, CIA director, and Ronald Reagan’s vice-president. As the last US president to have served in World War II and the country’s last Cold War leader, the end of Mr Bush’s time in the White House marked the end of a political era. But ... ► Read more

  • UNESCO adds reggae to list of intangible cultural heritage

    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has recognised reggae music as a global treasure by adding the genre to its list of intangible cultural heritage. Originating in Jamaica in the 1960s, reggae became popular worldwide thanks to artists such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Prince Buster and Jimmy Cliff, and it has influenced generations of musicians outside Jamaica. “Its contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity ... ► Read more

  • Michael Cohen admits to misleading Congress over Trump Moscow project

    US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admitted on Thursday (local time) to a criminal charge of making false statements to Congress. Prosecutors allege he deliberately minimised the extent of discussions with Mr Trump about a Moscow-based real estate project and obscured the fact that conversations about the proposed development continued well into the 2016 presidential campaign. The felony charge Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to on Thursday was the first brought against him ... ► Read more

  • Angela Merkel to miss start of G20 summit after plane develops fault

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel will miss the opening of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, after her plane developed a technical problem and was forced to land in Cologne. According to her office, the Chancellor and accompanying delegates safely landed in Cologne shortly after departing Berlin. The plane turned back while it was over the Netherlands due to “malfunction of several electronic systems”, the captain announced to passengers, but no details of the cause have ... ► Read more

  • US Senate advances resolution to end support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen

    Support is growing in the US Senate for a resolution aimed at limiting Washington’s involvement in the war in Yemen. The Senate voted 63-37 on Wednesday (local time) to advance the resolution, which, if passed, would end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s war. The advancement sets the stage for a possible final vote on the measure in coming days. The Trump Administration has threatened to veto the resolution if it passes ... ► Read more

  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg cancels G20 trip to deal with Liberal Party chaos

    Deputy Liberal leader and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will not attend the G20 economic forum in Buenos Aires this week, remaining in Canberra to deal with the chaos engulfing the Liberal Party. As the most senior Victorian Liberal MP in Federal Parliament, Mr Frydenberg is managing the fallout from the Liberal Party’s severe defeat in the Victorian state election last weekend, and Julia Banks’ resignation from the party to sit as an independent MP. A ... ► Read more

  • Paul Manafort allegedly met with Julian Assange in 2016

    A British newspaper claims that Paul Manafort secretly met WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London within days or weeks of being brought aboard Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. If confirmed, the report on Tuesday suggests a direct connection between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which released tens of thousands of emails allegedly stolen by Russian hackers during the 2016 election. The campaign seized on the emails to undermine Mr Trump’s rival, Hillary ... ► Read more

  • NASA’s InSight touches down on Mars

    US space agency NASA has landed a new robot on Mars after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface of the Red Planet. The InSight probe aims to study the deep interior of Mars, and make it the only planet — apart from Earth — that has been examined in this way. The touchdown confirmation came through shortly after 06:50 AEDT on Tuesday. It ended an anxious few minutes in which the robot radioed home updates on ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Prince says CIA isn’t credible

    A senior Saudi prince has cast doubt upon the reported CIA finding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying the agency could not be counted on to reach a credible conclusion. “The CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, a senior member of the royal family, told journalists in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (local time). “The examples ... ► Read more

  • “I mean the whole border”: Trump threatens close US-Mexico border

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to close the entire US-Mexico border, including halting trade with Mexico, if the arrival of migrants from central America there leads to disorder. He also said he had given troops at the border the go-ahead to use lethal force if needed. On Monday (local time) the US briefly closed a busy crossing to install new barriers. Thousands of migrants are at the border after travelling more than 4,000km ... ► Read more

  • Uncontacted Indian tribe kills young American explorer

    Members of one of the world’s last tribes untouched by modern civilisation have killed an American who ventured illegally onto their remote island, Indian police said on Wednesday (local time). John Allen Chau, 27, was hit by a hail of arrows as he set foot on North Sentinel Island, part of the Indian Andaman Islands, last Saturday, official sources told Agence France Presse (AFP). “He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking. The fishermen ... ► Read more

  • The US-Saudi alliance shows justice is only worthwhile when it’s convenient

    Donald Trump has released a statement defending the US’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite admitting that “it could very well be that [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] had knowledge” of the plan to murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In the statement, Trump said it would be foolish to break ties with Saudi Arabia, because of the US$450 billion the kingdom plans to invest in the United States — US$110 billion of which will go to American defence ... ► Read more

  • ASX tumbles after panic-selling in US, Europe, Asia

    A wave of panic-selling across Wall Street, European and Asian markets has spread to Australia. The local ASX 200 index had lost 1.3% to 5,599 at 10:10 am (AEDT). The broader All Ordinaries index also fell by a similar level to 5,684 points. Most sectors are in the red, with energy (-2.5pc) and resources (-2.4pc) being the weakest performers. It was driven by steep losses from Origin Energy (-4.4pc), Santos (-3.4pc), Fortescue Metals (-3.9pc), BHP ... ► Read more

  • Trump defends US-Saudi relationship despite Khashoggi murder

    US President Donald Trump has strongly defended ties with Saudi Arabia despite international condemnation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The kingdom is a “steadfast partner” that has agreed to invest “a record amount of money” in the US, Mr Trump said in a statement. The President acknowledged Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “could very well” have known about Mr Khashoggi’s murder. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added. ... ► Read more

  • “America first!”: read Donald Trump’s statement on Saudi Arabia

    Below is US President Donald Trump’s full statement on relations with Saudi Arabia and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia The world is a very dangerous place! The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up ... ► Read more

  • Ivanka Trump used personal email account for government business

    The daughter of US President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, last year used a personal email account to discuss or relay official White House business, according to emails released by a nonpartisan watchdog group. The Washington Post reported Monday the White House conducted an investigation into Trump’s email usage and that she used her personal email address for much of 2017. According to emails released by the watchdog group, American Oversight, Trump used her personal account ... ► Read more

  • APEC 2018: US-China divisions deepen worrying world leaders

    Deep divisions between the United States and China have derailed the APEC meeting in Port Moresby, with regional leaders failing to agree on a final communique for the first time in the summit’s history. The two superpowers clashed repeatedly over the language on trade in the final document, with Beijing angrily rejecting paragraphs that called for an overhaul of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and warned against unfair trade tactics. The Trump Administration has repeatedly ... ► Read more