World Briefs: Trump tweets support for pick as CIA chief

Trump tweets support for pick as CIA chief

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump yesterday tweeted support for his controversial pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, after reports that she might withdraw her nomination to avoid a Senate grilling over her past involvement in torture.

Ms Gina Haspel – who has a long career in the CIA‘s clandestine service and currently serves as its deputy director – ran the agency‘s “black box” interrogation cell in Thailand after the Sept 11 attacks.

She is set to face a tough confirmation hearing tomorrow after a number of lawmakers raised reservations over her past involvement in the torture of detainees.

“In these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!” the Republican president tweeted early yesterday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Scandal-hit academy grants members leave

STOCKHOLM • The Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize said yesterday several members – who are traditionally appointed for life – were granted leave after a sexual assault scandal scuppered this year‘s award.

“Lotta Lotass, Klas Ostergren and Sara Stridsberg have asked for and with immediate effect been granted leave from the Swedish Academy,” it said in a statement.

A fourth member, Kerstin Ekman, who had been inactive since 1989 over the academy‘s refusal to condemn a fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie, was also granted leave. The academy finally did condemn the fatwa 27 years later.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

$45m Aussie plan to save koalas

SYDNEY • Australia unveiled yesterday a US$34 million (S$45 million) plan to help bring its koala population back from the brink, following a rapid decline in the marsupial‘s fortunes.

The Australian Koala Foundation estimates there may be as few as 43,000 koalas left in the wild, down from a population believed to number more than 10 million prior to European settlement of the continent in 1788.

“Koalas are a national treasure,” said Ms Gladys Berejiklian, premier of New South Wales state, in announcing her government‘s conservation plan.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE