Friday, March 2
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON QUEEN
A failed assassination attempt on the Queen during a royal tour of New Zealand in 1981 was covered up to “avoid jeopardising” future royal visits, a former police officer has claimed.
Nearly four decades on from the incident, Tom Lewis, an ex-Dunedin detective sergeant, has alleged that a troubled teenager shot at the Queen and came yards from hitting her.
In an interview with the New Zealand website, Stuff, Mr Lewis claimed that Christopher John Lewis, then 17, fired at the Queen as she alighted her motorcade to greet a crowd gathered at the Otago Museum Reserve.Recommended by
However, Mr Lewis claims that the attempt on the Queen’s life was quickly covered up by police and the New Zealand Government, which feared that the near-miss would scupper any chance of her returning to the country.
He added that, as the distinctive crack rang out around the area, police attempted to disguise the seriousness of the threat, telling British journalists present that the noise was a council sign falling over.
When later questioned, the story was altered to suggest that the noise had been the result of somebody letting off firecrackers nearby.
A story published by The Daily Telegraph the following day appears to support Mr Lewis’s claims, noting that a sound “like a firecracker” had gone off, but that the Queen had not seemed to notice.
In fact, the reality of what had transpired became a tightly-guarded secret, with the New Zealand Government allegedly ordering that the original police statement be destroyed.
“You will never get a true file on that,” Mr Lewis continued. “It was reactivated, regurgitated, bits pulled off it, other false bits put on.
“The fact an attempted assassination of the Queen had taken place in New Zealand… it was too politically hot to handle.
A police report published that year appears to verify the claims, noting: “The discharge of a firearm during the visit of Her Majesty the Queen serves to remind us all of the potential risks to royalty, particularly during public walks.”
He also claimed that Lewis’s original statement given to police on his arrest was destroyed, and that officers were told not to charge him under orders from “up top”.
In a draft autobiography later published after Christopher John Lewis’s death, the would-be assassin wrote that he was frequently visited by high-ranking Government officials and sworn to silence.
“If I was ever to mention the events surrounding my interview or the organisation, or that I was in the building, or that I was shooting from it – that they would make sure I ‘suffered a fate worse that death’”, he wrote.
PUTIN ANNOUNCES NEW BALLISTIC MISSILE
President Vladimir Putin says Russia has tested a new nuclear-powered missile which could reach almost any point in the world and could not be intercepted by anti-missile systems.
He said in a state-of-the-nation speech the high-speed cruise missile, was tested late last year.
The president said a high-speed underwater drone had been tested and was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead which could target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities.
Putin said Russia also tested a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), called Sarmat, with a range and a number of warheads exceeding the capabilities of its predecessor.
Putin also accused the United States of violating the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty before presenting videos of Russia’s new Sarmat ballistic missile and other advanced weapons, followed by roars of applause.
The US is “violating the strategic balance,” and “Russia in response is creating new systems,” Putin said during his annual speech to parliament.
Earlier, Putin said Russia should strengthen its democratic institutions.
“To move forward, to develop dynamically, we should expand freedom in all spheres and strengthen institutions of democracy, local government, structures of civil society and courts,” he said during his speech.
He also said Russia needs to make a technological breakthrough to set the foundation for future successful development.
He emphasised the need to focus on overcoming poverty, saying 20 million Russians currently live below the official poverty line equivalent to some $US180 ($A252) a month.
Putin also said Russia must take steps to improve the health care system.
Putin, who has served as president or prime minister for nearly two decades, is widely expected to win another six-year term as president on March 18.
TRUMP TO BOOST TARRIFS
US President Donald Trump has declared he will impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, dramatically raising the possibility of a trade showdown with China and other key trading partners.
Mr Trump summoned steel and aluminium executives to the White House and told them that next week he would levy penalties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium imports.
Those tariffs, he said, would remain for “a long period of time”.
But it was not immediately clear if the tariffs would exempt certain trading partners.
“What’s been allowed to go on for decades is disgraceful. It’s disgraceful,” Mr Trump told executives gathered in the cabinet room.
“You will have protection for the first time in a long while and you’re going to regrow your industries.”
News of the tariffs drove the stocks of US domestic steel and aluminium makers sharply higher, but also hit sentiment on Wall Street due to the potential impact of higher costs on consumers.
EU, Canada quick to hit back
China has already threatened to curb imports of US soybeans in retaliation, while the European Union said it would propose countermeasures within days.
“We strongly regret this step, which appears to represent a blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification,” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement.
“We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk … The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests.”
It is unclear if Australian companies, which export about $270 million worth of steel and $275 million of aluminium to the US each year, will be hit by the tariffs.
Canada, which supplies 16 per cent of US demand and is by far the largest steel exporter followed by Brazil and South Korea, was also quick to issue a sharply worded response.
“Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminium products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said.