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AMBASSADOR

US committee approves blundering Norway envoy

The US Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee has approved George Tsunis as the next ambassador of Norway, despite his catastrophic appointment hearing last month, and despite a warning from John McCain, its most prominent member, that he had already become "a mockery".

US committee approves blundering Norway envoy
George Tsunis speaking to the US senate on Tuesday - Source: Screen Grab
McCain argued against the nomination during the meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, which went on to approve Tsunis by a majority of 12 to six.  
 
"The question is whether . . . [Tsunis] will embarrass the United States of America while serving as our representative," McCain said. 
 
He reminded the committee's members that Tsunis had referred to "the president" of Norway in his January 16 hearing and attacked the anti-immigration Progress Party, which has seven ministers in government, as "fringe elements" that "spew their hatred". 
 
"There is no president — it's a constitutional monarchy," McCain pointed out, before adding: "He talks about a faction within the government as condemned by the government." 
 
Chris Murphy, a Democrat senator, defended Tsunis, saying that he had displayed "fairly impressive and wide-ranging knowledge" of Norway in a previous hearing before January's disastrous performance. 
 
 
"As you can imagine, the day when I am able to make a second impression cannot come soon enough," he said.  
 
The full US Senate’s final vote on Tsunis’ nomination has not yet been scheduled.

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DRUGS

Norway politician charged for drugs and child abuse images

A former politician from Norway’s anti-immigration Progress Party has been charged with possession of illegal drugs and images of child abuse.

Norway politician charged for drugs and child abuse images
Police found 19 grams of MDMA. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix
The man, who is in his 40s, previously held positions in the party at both the national and local level, but stepped down after he was arrested in 2016. 
 
The politician’s defence lawyer Gunhild Lærum told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that she did not yet have a clear response from her client to the charge over the child abuse images. 
 
“We have not yet been able to look through this together,” she said. “He is slightly unsure if this is something he has downloaded consciously and willingly.” 
 
She said the identities of the children in the pictures were “completely unknown”. 
 
The man has been held in pre-trial detention for nearly two years, as police carried out a long-drawn out investigation after finding large quantities of drugs in his house in May 2016. 
 
“We are both pleased at least that something has finally happened in the case,“ Lærum said. 
 
When the police searched the man’s house in May 2016, they found 90 grams of amphetamine, 16 grams of cocaine, 19 grams of MDMA, 274 ml of GHB, 22 tablets containing clonazepam, four tablets containing diazepam, five tablets containing MDMA and two tablets containing mCPP. 
 
The man has already pleaded guilty to the drugs charges. 
 
“He has acknowledged that he had a problem and he is glad that it has been discovered and that he has managed to get over it. He has been helped for a long, long period now.” 
 
The case is scheduled to go to trial on September 4.