Donald Trump signs agreement allowing some New Zealanders easier access to US visas

Some New Zealanders are to have easier access to the US, after President Donald Trump signed the 'KIWI Act', welcomed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act means New Zealanders have access to E1 and E2 visas.

It will mean business people have an option to renew their visa on a rolling basis if they qualify to enter the US multiple times over two years, rather than applying for a new visa on each visit. 

Ms Ardern said the lack of E1 and E2 visas had been a "major issue" for Kiwis trying to gain access into the US market. 

"The smooth passage of the KIWI Act was a sign of the strength of the New Zealand-United States relationship and I want to thank all those who made the passage of the Act possible," she said. 

"The US is critically important to New Zealand’s interests and this Act will help develop closer economic ties with the US. I thank the US Congress and President Trump for their support of the Act."

The White House released a statement today saying Mr Trump signed the agreement KIWI agreement, "provided New Zealand grants reciprocal treatment to US nationals". 

A composite image of Jacinda Ardern and Donald Trump.
A composite image of Jacinda Ardern and Donald Trump. Source: 1 NEWS

Trump suggests his former campaign manager being treated worse than mobster Al Capone

President Donald Trump appeared to suggest in a tweet that his former campaign manager Paul Manafort is being treated worse by the justice system than notorious Chicago mob boss Al Capone.

Even for a president whose tweets have led to countless arguments on cable television by pundits dissecting his words, this comparison is jarring.

Capone is regarded by historians as the worst gangster in American history, a bootlegger during the Prohibition Era in the 1920s and 1930s who was willing to ruthlessly kill his rivals — or at least have his men pull the trigger.

A federal judge has noted that Manafort has not been charged with any crime of violence.

Capone was eventually convicted and jailed. Manafort has been jailed following allegations of witness tampering, but has not been convicted.

Still, the two have one thing in common. Manafort's trial is on tax evasion, the same crime that finally landed "Public Enemy No. 1" in prison.

Trump tweeted, misspelling Capone's first name of Alphonse: "Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and "Public Enemy Number One," or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement - although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?"

More than 70 years after his death, Capone remains an almost mythical figure. He dominated organized crime as a bootlegger in Chicago during the period when liquor was banned.

His legend only grew in 1929 with the St. Valentine's Day Massacre — when seven men linked to a rival gang were lined up facing a garage in Chicago and shot dead.

No one was ever charged in the deaths, though experts point to Capone, who consolidated his control over the bootleg business after that.

The problem with Capone was that he so terrorized the public that federal authorities couldn't get witnesses or associates to rat on the mob boss for violent crimes.

So they were forced to pursue a lesser charge of tax evasion and got a sentence of 11 years in federal prison.

"By the standard of a bootlegging mob boss whose outfit was responsible for multiple murders, you could argue that Capone got off pretty easy," said Jonathan Eig, the author of "Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster."

Capone's digs behind bars apparently were pretty plush.

The web site for the Eastern State Penitentiary, which is now a historic site, includes a cell that is said to be decorated as it was when Capone was an inmate there after he was arrested for carrying an unlicensed revolver.

The prison, according the web site, "allowed Capone comforts not typically granted to inmates, including fine furniture, oriental rugs, oil paintings and a fancy radio."

And when he stood trial in Chicago on the income tax charge in 1931, Capone was allowed to eat food his mother cooked for him, Eig said.

Things changed at Alcatraz, though, the infamous island prison in San Francisco Bay where Capone was treated like every other inmate, working in the prison laundry and shoe repair shop.

Manafort's prison experience has included use of a telephone in his cell and a laptop, both of which didn't exist back in Capone's day.

Defense attorneys have, in court papers, said that Manafort is locked up in his jail cell 23 hours a day, excluding visits from his attorneys, and has been in solitary confinement for his own safety.

In one key area, though, Manafort is being treated as Capone was.

When Capone stood trial in 1931, prosecutors needed a way to show that the mobster — not the kind to leave a paper trial when it came to income — was making a lot of money.

So, said Eig, they told jurors about the French underwear he wore, expensive suits that were specially made with pockets large enough to carry a gun, and really big bills from the butcher shop he racked up.

Just this week, prosecutors told jurors about Manafort's purchases of things like a high-end condo, silk rugs worth $160,000 and a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich.

FILE -  This Jan. 19, 1931, file photo shows Chicago mobster Al Capone at a football game. The way President Donald Trump sees it, Capone, the most famous gangster in American history, got off easy compared to Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. On Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, as Manafort stands trial for charges that include tax evasion, the same crime that landed Capone in Alcatraz, the president took to twitter to complain that Manafort is being treated far harsher than "Public Enemy Number One." ((AP File Photo)
This Jan. 19, 1931, file photo shows Chicago mobster Al Capone at a football game. The way President Donald Trump sees it, Capone, the most famous gangster in American history, got off easy compared to Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Source: Associated Press


'High risk of avalanches' and low cloud continue to hamper search for climber missing on Mt Aspiring

A brief break in cloud cover around Mt Aspiring this morning has allowed an unsuccessful helicopter search of the slopes for a missing Australian climber. 

Weather conditions soon worsened again and the helicopter was required to return to its Wanaka base shortly after 9am today.

A 29-year-old Australian man activated a locater beacon just after midday Tuesday, July 31, on Mount Aspiring National Park, after he was 24 hours overdue from a climb.

Now two days later, poor weather conditions continue to hamper the search, with alpine cliff rescue crews and helicopters remaining on standby.

Two search crew members remain on Mt Aspiring - one at Mt Aspiring Hutt and one at French Ridge Hutt, where the man's belongings were found.

Southern Lakes rescue helicopter team said there are grave concerns for the climber's safety after today's aborted helicopter search effort.

"As well as the poor weather conditions, there is a high risk of avalanches that is hampering the search assets from reaching the climber’s position," search and rescue officer Geoff Lunt said.

On Tuesday night temperatures dropped to -9 degrees on the mountain, and search crews discovered the man's sleeping bag, wet weather gear and cooker at a hut called French Ridge, along a difficult path on the mountain.

The weather forecast for today is heavy rain, some thunderstorms, northerly winds of 50-60 km an hour and the temperature at 1800m on the mountain is between -2 and 0 degrees.

An update on the search effort is expected sometime this afternoon.

There are concerns for the tramper’s welfare given the looming bad weather in the region. Source: Breakfast