Top News Stories for Today – February 27, 2017
Killed SEAL’s father refused to meet Trump
The father of a US Navy Seal killed in a raid on a suspected al-Qaeda compound in Yemen last month has said that he refused to meet President Trump when his son’s body arrived home. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,” he said he told a chaplain at the time. The raid on 28 January was the first such operation authorised by Mr Trump.
Bill Owens, whose son William “Ryan” Owens was killed, told the Miami Herald that “the government owes my son an investigation”. “Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why?” he said in an interview with the newspaper published on Sunday. “For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen – everything was missiles and drones – because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?” BBC
89th Oscars Academy awards
The most memorable moment of Sunday night’s Academy Awards was less about who won an Oscar than who did not. In a historically large flub, presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced, after some confusion and hesitation on Beatty’s part, that La La Land won Best Picture. Halfway through the producers’ acceptance speeches, it became clear that the actual winner was Moonlight, and the production teams awkwardly switched places as Beatty explained that the card said Emma Stone and La La Land and host Jimmy Kimmel tried to smooth things over with a Steve Harvey joke.
The accounting firm PwC, which has counted Oscar ballots for more than 80 years, apologetically took responsibility for the flub. “The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope,” for Best Leading Actress, PwC said, and when the mistake was discovered, it “was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”
La La Land did win several awards, including Best Leading Actress for Emma Stone and Best Director for Damien Chazelle. Manchester by the Sea’s Casey Affleck received the award for Best Leading Actor, Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and Fences’ Viola Davis won for Best Supporting Actress. Jimmy Kimmel hosted the ceremony, and after the Moonlight flub said he knew he was going to “screw the show up.” Variety, Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, The Week
WH connected journalists with intelligence officials
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer personally connected Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporters with CIA director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in an attempt to discredit a Feb. 15 New York Times story alleging contact between President Trump’s campaign aides with Russian officials.
While the Post had previously reported on the administration’s attempts to counter the Times’ reports, “the new details show how determined the West Wing was to rebut” the reports, Axios writes. Pompeo and Burr reportedly did not offer details to deny the Times’ story, and intelligence officials told Axios that it is unusual for the CIA director to talk one-on-one with a single journalist; typically, the director only talks to publishers or executive editors when a story could potentially hurt national security. Axios, The Washington Post, The Week
Trump’s Navy secretary pick withdraws nomination
Businessman Philip Bilden, President Trump’s pick for Navy secretary, has withdrawn his name from consideration, citing ethics requirements. In a statement on Sunday, Bilden said the position would cause “undue disruption” to his family’s financial interests, and he would not be able to satisfy rules by the Office of Government Ethics.
Bilden also said he still “fully supports” Trump’s agenda. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a statement he will make a new recommendation to Trump soon. Earlier this month, Vincent Viola, a businessman and Trump’s choice for Army secretary, dropped his bid for that position.Conservative Angle, NBC News, The Week
South Korea impeachment enters final act
The impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye entered its final phase Monday as the Constitutional Court held its last hearing. In December the National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to remove President Park from office for colluding with her long-time friend Choi Soon-sil to extort Korean conglomerates to donate over $69 million to two dubious foundations in exchange for favorable treatment or under threat of tax audits. There were also other charges related to Park’s allegedly negligent handing of the 2014 Sewol Ferry disaster that killed over 300 people, and to Choi purportedly using presidential connections to gain her daughter admission into a prestigious university.
Park declined to attend the final hearing and has publicly maintained that she is not guilty of the charges, that she has never financially benefited from her office, and was unaware of any illicit activities that were allegedly conducted by friends and subordinates. VOA
1st senior Chinese official visits Washington
China is sending its first senior official to visit the US since President Donald Trump took office. State Councilor Yang Jiechi is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top foreign policy adviser and a familiar face in Washington. He has served as China’s foreign minister and ambassador to the US. The foreign ministry said Yang was scheduled to “exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of mutual concern” in meetings with high-ranking US officials during his visit on Monday and Tuesday.
The future direction of relations between the world’s two largest economies has grown more uncertain following Trump’s accusations of unfair Chinese trading practices and threats to raise import tariffs. Trump has also criticized China’s activities in the South China Sea and suggested he might use Taiwan as leverage in negotiations. VOA
Philippine Abu Sayyaf jihadists behead German hostage
Abu Sayyaf, Islamic militants in the Philippines have posted a video showing the beheading of a German hostage. Jurgen Kantner was abducted from his yacht off Malaysia’s Sabah state in November. His companion Sabine Merz’s body was later found on the boat. A deadline for a 30m peso ransom expired on Sunday.
Mr Kantner, 70, and Ms Merz had been abducted before. They were held for 52 days in 2008 by Somali pirates and were released after a ransom was paid. After released, Mr Kantner returned to the self-declared republic of Somaliland to collect his yacht, saying: “My boat is my life and I don’t want to lose her… I don’t care about pirates and governments.” Abu Sayyaf is one of the smallest and most violent jihadist groups in the southern Philippines, known for its brutality, including beheadings. BBC
Millions without water in Chile capital Santiago
Rainstorms and landslides in Chile have contaminated a major river forcing the authorities to cut off drinking water to at least four million people in the capital, Santiago. Officials said the water supply from the Maipo river would be cut to most of the city until the water flowed clear.At least three people have been killed and 19 are missing as rivers overflowed and bridges were washed away. Almost 400 people have been cut off in the Cajon del Maipo mountainous area.
More than 60% of households in Santiago woke up on Sunday to find their taps running dry. Many queued to fill buckets and pans with water provided by the authorities. BBC
Kim Jong Un ordered half brother’s killing
Two North Korean ministries orchestrated the plot to kill Kim Jong Nam on the orders of his half-brother, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, South Korea’s spy agency has said. Lawmakers in Seoul, who were briefed by the country’s intelligence officials, said the North’s foreign ministry and ministry of national security had recruited the two female suspects in Kim’s murder.
“The assassination of Kim Jong Nam was an act of systematic terror ordered by Kim Jong Un,” South Korean lawmaker Kim Byung-kee said in a televised address. “The operation was conducted with two assassination groups and one supporting group.” North Korea has consistently denied any involvement in Kim Jong Nam’s killing and accused South Korean media of publishing “false reports.” CNN
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