Top News Stories for Today – March 30, 2017
Ousted South Korean president arrested
After a court hearing in Seoul on Thursday, former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was arrested and driven to a detainment facility while prosecutors investigate her on charges of bribery, coercion, abuse of authority, and other charges linked to the scandal that led to her impeachment and removal from office earlier this month.
“It is justifiable and necessary to arrest [Park] as key charges were justified and there is risk of evidence being destroyed,” the Seoul Central District Court said in a statement. Prosecutors can hold Park for up to 20 days before filing charges, and if charged and convicted, she faces 10 years or more in prison. A Park loyalist, Hwang Kyo-ahn, is acting president until a successor is chosen in May 9 elections. BBC News, The Week
Michael Flynn offered interviews in exchange for immunity
President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has told the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees he will agree to be interviewed by officials investigating possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Several other major news outlets confirmed Flynn’s immunity outreach. During the campaign, Flynn was one of Trump’s advisers, and in February, he resigned as national security adviser after it was revealed he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to Washington before Trump’s inauguration and lied about it. His attorney, Robert Kelner, said in a statement his client “certainly has a story to tell,” adding that “no reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.” The Wall Street Journal, Twitter, The Week
Tillerson said NATO must increase defense budgets
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meeting with his NATO allies’ counterparts, said Friday in Brussels that they must increase their countries’ defense budgets. The top US diplomat told the foreign ministers the alliance must have “all of the resources, financial and otherwise, that are necessary for NATO to fulfill its mission” in places like Iraq and Syria.
Earlier Friday, Tillerson said he also wanted to discuss “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine” with the NATO allies. Upon arrival in Brussels, the top US diplomat said he sees three important areas to discuss: NATO’s resources for its mission, the organization’s fight against terrorism, including Islamic State, and NATO’s posture in Europe, “most particularly Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere.” The comments concerning Moscow are some of the strongest the Trump administration has made since coming to power in January. VOA
US Senate kills Falmily-planning rule
Vice President Mike Pence took the rare step of breaking a tie in the US Senate on Thursday, casting the deciding vote to roll back protections for reproductive health funds. Using the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to repeal recently minted regulations, senators killed a rule intended to keep federal grants flowing to clinics that provide contraception and other services in states that want to block the funding.
The rule was enacted in the final weeks of former President Barack Obama’s administration, giving lawmakers the opening to nullify it under the review law. In recent years, states such as Texas have kept some health care providers from receiving the grants as part of the country’s longstanding fight over abortion. VOA
Kim Jong-nam’s body arrives in Pyongyang
The body of Kim Jong-nam who died in Malaysia and relevant DPRK citizens have returned to the DPRK today via Beijing,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korea had requested the body, but has not confirmed its identity. It was released as part of a deal under which nine Malaysians previously prevented from leaving North Korea have now arrived home. The two countries had been locked in a diplomatic row in the wake of Mr Kim’s murder in Kuala Lumpur last month. Both countries had banned each other’s citizens from leaving. BBC
Israel approves new settlements in West bank
Israel’s Security Cabinet on Thursday unanimously approved the construction of a new settlement in the West Bank, according to a message from the Prime Minister’s office, marking the state’s first new settlement in Palestinian territory in more than 20 years. The new settlement, which will be constructed north of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, is intended for Israeli settlers evacuated from Amona, an outpost destroyed by Israeli authorities in February because it was not sanctioned.
The UN immediately criticized the decision; it has declared such construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal because those are territories where Palestinians plan to create their future state. The United States and most other nations consider Israeli settlements in those areas an obstacle to a two-state solution. CNN
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