AM briefing: Victoria Cross recipient held up by travel order

The Queen stops to receive flowers from 3-year old Jessica Atfield in West Newton, England. Photo / AP
The Queen stops to receive flowers from 3-year old Jessica Atfield in West Newton, England. Photo / AP

Victoria Cross recipient Johnson Beharry, 37, has described his "humiliation" after he was held up by US border officials during US President Donald Trump's immigration clampdown. The Iraq war hero arrived at New York's JFK airport hours after the President ordered travel restrictions on January 28. Long delays at immigration meant he missed a veterans' event where he was due to be a guest of honour. Beharry said he faced a wait of nearly three hours to reach the border, where his passport was further scrutinised. "I explained that I had been in Iraq fighting for the British Army but they didn't seem to care. The officials only let me in after I kicked up a fuss. It was the worst travel experience of my life."

The Pentagon failed to disclose up to thousands of air strikes the US military carried out over several years in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan against militants in those countries, the Military Times reports. Last year, the US carried out at least 456 air strikes in Afghanistan that were not documented in a US Air Force database, the website says.

The air strikes were conducted by US Army helicopters and drones. The incomplete data could go back to October 2001, according to the Military Times, which describes itself as an independent news organisation.

Support for the federal coalition in Australia is now at its lowest level since Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, the first Newspoll of the year shows. As Parliament returns this week after the summer break, Labor leads 54 to 46 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. The coalition's primary vote has fallen 39 per cent to 35. The last time it was that low two years ago, Abbott faced a move to spill his leadership after the he brought back knighthoods, including one for Prince Philip.

The editor-in-chief of Der Spiegel said a front cover illustration of US President Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty was a response by the German magazine to threats against democracy. "Der Spiegel does not want to provoke anybody," editor-in-chief Klaus Brinkbaeumer said. "We want to show what this is about, it's about democracy, it's about freedom, it's about freedom of the press, freedom of justice and all that is seriously endangered. So we are defending democracy ... Are these serious times? Yes they are." Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of Germany's Free Democrats (FDP) and vice-president of the European Parliament, described the cover as "tasteless".


The Queen is poised for another historic milestone, an unprecedented 65 years on the throne. But Buckingham Palace says Britain's longest-serving monarch plans to spend tonight and tomorrow's ceremonies far from the spotlight in contemplation of her late father. Official commemorations of Queen Elizabeth's Sapphire Jubilee are expected to feature ceremonial cannon fusillades at a central London park and at the riverside Tower of London as well as a procession of military horses pulling World War I-era artillery pieces. But the 90-year-old monarch is staying 175km to the north at her Sandringham House estate in Norfolk, where her father, George VI, died of lung cancer at age 56 on February 6, 1952, after a 15-year reign.

Jakarta Indonesia's Mount Sinabung in north Sumatra province erupted seven times in the space of a day. "The eruptions occurred from midnight until 4.50pm (local time) on Sunday," volcanology agency official Arif Cahyo said. The ash from the volcano was carried by winds to Berastagi, a tourist town in the Karo highlands south-east of the volcano. Local officials in Berastagi told locals and tourists to wear masks and eye protectors to avoid being exposed directly to the volcanic ash.

Egypt's top Islamic authority rejected President Abdel-fattah al-Sisi's suggestion that legislation be adopted to invalidate the practice of Muslim men verbally divorcing their wives. It marked a rare instance of a public institution contradicting the President, who has presided over a wide-scale crackdown on dissent in recent years while seeking to rally the country's entrenched interests behind him. The Council of Senior Clerics in Al-Azhar - the highest authority in Sunni Islam - unanimously ruled that verbal divorce, when meeting all requirements, has been an undisputed practice since the days of the 7th century Prophet Muhammad. The requirements, it explained, included that the man has a sound mind, full consciousness and uses appropriate phrasing. Muslim women in Egypt cannot verbally divorce their husbands but can apply for divorce in a court of law.


- agencies

- NZ Herald

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