France’s Fillon rejects new revelations

“I won’t say another word about these things,” the conservative contender said on French television, condemning “successive revelations, carefully disseminated by state services.

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The revelation comes as France gears up for the first balloting in the two-stage presidential race on April 23.

Fillon, once the race’s frontrunner and who denies any wrongdoing, was charged with abuse of public funds last month in a scandal that he has blamed on the outgoing Socialist government.

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The 63-year-old is accused of giving fake jobs to his Welsh-born wife Penelope that earned her 680,000 euros (AUD$961,000) in salary payments between 1986 and 2013.

Mediapart said late Monday that “Penelope Fillon in fact benefited from public funds from the first parliamentary mandate of her husband through contracts for studies or projects that he commissioned.”

Watch: French election campaign offically begins

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Fillon, first elected to represent the central Sarthe region in 1981, went on to become prime minister under president Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012.

Other accusations of financial impropriety have piled up since the claims first broke in January, including that Fillon failed to declare an interest-free loan and that he accepted gifts of bespoke suits from a wealthy friend.

Fillon has seen his poll numbers decline since the scandal broke to around 17-19 points, neck-and-neck with far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon and behind centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday broke with his country’s official neutrality on Tuesday by expressing a preference for Macron over Fillon, saying the conservative’s response to the scandals had “not been very encouraging”.

“Don’t put me in a difficult spot, you know who my political family is,” Schaeuble told a debate organised by the Spiegel weekly, in reference to his conservative CDU party which is affiliated in Europe with Fillon’s Republicans.

But Schaeuble added: “If I was French, if I was able to vote… I would probably vote for Macron.”

French presidential election candidates Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Marine Le Pen, and Benoit Hamon.AAP

Why now? lawyer asks 

Fillon’s lawyer Antonin Levy confirmed that investigators seized “contracts for studies” during a raid of the candidate’s parliamentary offices in late January but said they were of “no interest” to the probe which he said reaches back only to 1997.

“The real question is why the financial prosecutor, which has known of these documents for weeks, has not spoken of them and why this information is coming out two weeks before the first round,” Levy told AFP.

Fillon was the surprise winner of the rightwing Republicans party’s November primary after campaigning on his squeaky clean image.

His two leading rivals, Sarkozy and former prime minister Alain Juppe, were both tainted by legal woes.

Fillon has said that incumbent President Francois Hollande, who decided in December not to run for re-election, headed a “secret cabinet” responsible for the explosive fake jobs revelations.

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Green holds Storm tip session at Manly

Former Melbourne five-eighth Blake Green held a tip session with Manly teammates aimed at helping them in Saturday’s NRL clash.

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Green faces his old club for the first time since switching to the Sea Eagles after playing a pivotal role in Melbourne’s grand final appearance last year.

“I had a chat yesterday actually to a few of the members of our team after training, just to give them a heads up on what’s coming,” Green said on Wednesday.

“I’ve got a fair idea of how they’re going to play, especially on the back of a loss, they’ll be quite determined to carry the ball strong, complete their sets and kick well.”

But while the seasoned playmaker is willing to divulge as many secrets as he can from his two years at the club, he just isn’t sure how much of an advantage it will be on game day.

Melbourne went undefeated over the opening five rounds before falling short against Cronulla in a grand final re-match last week.

But they could get big names Cameron Munster and Jesse Bromwich back on deck this week.

“I think everyone in the competition is well aware of what they’re going to do and how they’re going to play, but being able to stop it is a different thing,” Green said.

“They’ve obviously got some really classy players in there, the ‘big three’ as everyone refers to. Along with Jesse Bromwich, they’re a pretty handy outfit. It’s going to be a tough job for us.”

Green also said he was shocked by former halves partner Cooper Cronk’s decision to announce his intention to leave Melbourne at the end of the year and move to Sydney.

He is adamant he couldn’t imagine the Australian halfback playing for another club, but was unsure whether he would retire, either.

“I’m not sure what he’s got planned. He could do anything. I don’t think anyone knows what he’s going to do. I don’t know if he’s made his mind up on anything,” he said.

Sean Spicer apologises for ‘insensitive’ Hitler remark

Spicer suggested Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons on his own people, momentarily forgetting the Holocaust and prompting renewed calls for his resignation.

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During a White House briefing Spicer sought to intensify criticism of Bashar al-Assad, painting the Syrian leader’s suspected use of sarin nerve agent against civilians last week as historically evil.

“You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said, comparing Assad unfavorably.

His comments — during the Jewish festival of Passover, prompted anti-defamation groups and Democrats to call for the already embattled press secretary’s resignation.

Watch: Sean Spicer White House Media Conference Gaffe

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Spicer later took to CNN to apologise for the comments.

“Frankly, I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive comment about the Holocaust and there is no comparison,” 

“For that I apologise. It was a mistake to do that.”

Top Congressional Democrat Nancy Pelosi is calling for Spicer’s resignation.

“Sean Spicer must be fired, and the President must immediately disavow his spokesman’s statements,” said 

“Either he is speaking for the President, or the President should have known better than to hire him.”

Spicer — the most public face of the Donald Trump’s administration after the president himself — has is a frequent target of ire and satirists for his angry denunciations press coverage and sometimes loose grasp of the facts.

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He was pilloried for his first appearance in the press briefing room in January, when he browbeat journalists and falsely insisted Trump had the biggest inaugural audience ever.

He later caused an international incident by claiming British signals intelligence agency GCHQ helped former president Barack Obama spy on Trump.

Furious British spies described the claim as “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous,” forcing Spicer to explain his comments to the British ambassador.

But his latest claim brought anger from across the political spectrum and looks of astonishment from the assembled White House press corps, who offered Spicer a chance to clarify.

“I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no — he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Spicer said, returning to the subject.

As journalists shouted “what about the Holocaust?” Spicer continued, “I think there is clearly… I understand the point, thank you, thank you I appreciate that.”

Hitler “brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that. But I’m saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down, to innocent — into the middle of towns, it was brought… so the use of it, I appreciate the clarification, that was not the intent.”

Steven Goldstein, head of the Anne Frank Center, described Spicer’s comments as an “evil slur” and said he now “lacks the integrity to serve.”

In a further written clarification, Spicer said he was “in no way… trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust.”

“I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable,” he said.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis later offered a hint at what Spicer may have meant, saying that “even in World War II, chemical weapons were not used on battlefields. 

“Since World War I, there has been an international convention on this.”

Richard Price, professor of political science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and author of The Chemical Weapons Taboo told AFP Hitler  in fact came very close to using chemical weapons on civilian areas.

“Hitler used gas widely in the concentration camps, but they never used them against soldiers nor against cities,” he said.

“Albert Speer, munitions minister, said that during the trials of Nuremberg that Hitler gave the order to use them in the last months of the war, but his generals refused, because they knew the war was over, there was no point.”

Syria briefing 

Tuesday incident was not the first time this week that Spicer has found himself in rhetorical difficulty over Syria.

On Monday, he suggested that Trump could take military action if Assad were to drop more barrel bombs — a regular occurrence in Syria’s brutal war and a red line that would almost immediately be breeched, making US military action all but certain.

The White House privately walked back his comments.

Later in Tuesday’s briefing, Spicer also raised eyebrows when he declared Iran a failed state.

Trump’s pared-back approach to staffing has resulted in many of the apparatus around Spicer from being removed.

There are around half the number of National Security Council’s communications staff, whose job is — in part — to brief the press secretary on international developments.

The State Department does not have a spokesperson and has stopped holding daily briefings, which often serve as an early warning system for the White House about questions and issues headed their way.

More newsWATCH: No place for Assad in Syria, Tillerson says

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Yoga can cause and worsen pain: study

Yoga can help relieve those aches and pains but it can also lead to an injury, researchers warn.

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A University of Sydney found yoga caused musculoskeletal pain – mostly in the arms – in more than 10 per cent of participants.

Yoga also exacerbated 21 per cent of existing injuries.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Evangelos Pappas says the risk of pain caused by yoga is higher than previously reported.

“Yoga may be a bit more dangerous than previously thought,” Prof Pappas told AAP.

“Our study found that the incidence of pain caused by yoga is more than 10 per cent per year, which is comparable to the injury rate of all sports injuries combined among the physically active population,” he said.

The prospective study assessed more than 350 people who attended yoga classes at two studios in New York.

Participants, mostly women with an average age of 45, were asked to complete a questionnaire at recruitment and again after one year.

Most of the “new” pain (13.3 per cent) reported was either in the shoulder, elbow, wrist or hand.

Prof Pappas, who himself is a yoga instructor, says this makes sense because the upper limbs were not designed to support a lot of weight.

“And in yoga you actually you have a lot of these inversions, the downward dogs, that put lots of weight on the upper extremities,” he said.

The good news, however two-thirds, or 74 per cent, did report yoga improved pain in the lower back and the neck.

The findings are published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.

Given yoga’s popularity and perceived safety, it’s important that participants treat it like any other exercise, says Prof Pappas.

“These findings can be useful for clinicians and individuals to compare the risks of yoga to other exercise enabling them to make informed decisions about which types of activity are best,” said Prof Pappas.

It’s recommended that yoga participants discuss any pre-existing pain, especially in the upper limbs, with yoga teachers and a physiotherapist to explore posture modifications.

Trump’s torture ‘flirtation’ a threat: UN

The United Nations’ top rights official has accused US President Donald Trump of breaking taboos by suggesting bringing back torture, and warned world powers against undermining civil liberties in their fight against Islamist militants.

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Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein also lambasted British Prime Minister Theresa May for threatening to change human rights laws if they got in the way of security operations, saying her words would give heart to authoritarian governments.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights told an audience in London on Monday that the struggle against terrorism was “being exploited by governments” and risked undermining international rights treaties.

“And this contagion is spreading, fast,” Zeid said, citing suppression of dissent in Egypt, Bahrain and Turkey “under the banner of fighting terrorism”.

Trump said in January that he thought waterboarding – an interrogation technique banned by President Barack Obama that simulates drowning – worked as an intelligence-gathering tool.

Zeid said he was worried by Trump’s “persistent flirtation” with a return to torture. There was little immediate danger of the United States using torture in interrogations, but that could change if there was an attack on US soil, he said.

“Mindful of how the American public has, over the last 10 years, become far more accepting of torture, the balance could be tipped in favour of its practice.”

After attacks on London and Manchester, May told The Sun that if human rights laws “get in the way” of measures to tackle Islamist militancy, “we will change those laws to make sure we can do them”.

Zeid said her remarks no doubt reflected real anger but also seemed “intended to strike a chord with a certain sector of the electorate, and it is this expectation that truly worries me”.

ASEAN helps 50 years of stability: Wong

Federal Labor is heaping praise on a club of southeast Asian nations for creating a diplomatic platform allowing great powers like the US and China to engage in neutral territory.

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Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong will deliver a speech to the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Yangon on Wednesday, reflecting on 50 years of ASEAN.

She’ll argue the Association of South East Asian Nations has made extraordinary progress in establishing its credentials as a major regional and global actor in the political and strategic domain.

“The region has enjoyed remarkable stability for the past half century, and while economic co-operation remains a work in progress, considerable progress has been made in combating transnational crime, counter-terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering,” Senator Wong will say.

“So, to my mind, the real question is not just ‘what has ASEAN achieved’ but more ‘where would we be without it?'”

Senator Wong will acknowledge there are many naysayers about ASEAN’s consultative and conciliatory approach to issues which sometimes created barriers to progress.

“Those who have acquired a measure of impatience with ASEAN, for its avoidance of disagreement, have something of a point,” she says.

“While tensions may be kept under the carpet, as they were in 1967, they still need to be dealt with, as they also were in 1967.”

For ASEAN to grow and prosper over the next 50 years, it will need to address some major obstacles to economic growth and economic integration, she says.

Australia is set to host ASEAN leaders in Sydney in March next year for a special summit.

Bulldogs can still make the finals: Graham

Canterbury’s finals hopes could be extinguished by the time he gets back on the park but skipper James Graham says write them off at your own peril.

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The Bulldogs’ fading top eight hopes received a double blow on Tuesday when it was announced Graham would miss the next month with a neck injury while Greg Eastwood (knee) was set for five to six weeks on the sidelines.

The equation is simple for Des Hasler’s side – win six of their last nine NRL games or miss the finals for the first time since 2011.

Graham said he still believed in his side’s top eight aspirations despite having won just once in the last six weeks.

“Anytime we’ve had some bad form it’s blindsided us cause you have your belief systems in place about where you think the team is going and the utmost confidence in your ability and your team’s ability,” Graham told Fox Sports’ NRL360.

“Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. When you’re in a form slump, it’s something that definitely blindsides you.”

Graham is set to miss key clashes against Parramatta this Thursday, Newcastle and Brisbane, meaning his side’s season could be effectively over by the time he returns.

He will undergo minor surgery to repair a neck and shoulder problem which has been bothering him for several weeks.

With the Bulldogs having scored the least points (208) and made the least linebreaks (3.2 per game), they’ve been forced to wear criticism of their playing style and commitment.

Graham defended their character and said they were simply being let down by their execution.

“This is the toughest sporting competition in the world, it’s the closest sporting competition in the world so that’s going to create some good teams that end up getting beaten,” Graham said.

“The biggest thing for the Canterbury Bulldogs is it definitely isn’t an effort problem. Obviously we’re disappointed with where we’re at but 100 per cent the effort is still there.

“We’re probably lacking a little bit on execution.That’s something that can be fixed. We can play a little bit smarter at times.”

US brands China as among worst human trafficking offenders

Trump, however, has grown increasingly frustrated over China’s inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues and is now considering possible trade actions against Beijing, three senior administration officials told Reuters.

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Myanmar was upgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List of nations that deserve special scrutiny, from Tier 3, those countries not complying with minimum US standards and making no significant effort to do so.

Afghanistan, Malaysia and Qatar moved up to Tier 2, a list of nations making significant efforts to comply, from the Tier 2 Watch List.

Tier 1 designates nations that meet minimum U.S. standards.

The report said China convicted fewer sex and labor traffickers in the 12 months ended on March 31 than in the

previous year, forcibly repatriated North Koreans without screening them for indicators of trafficking, and handled most forced labor cases as administrative issues rather than criminal prosecutions.

“China was downgraded to Tier 3 status in this year’s report in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking, including forced laborers from North Korea that are located in China,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said as he presented the report.

For the previous three years, China was on the Tier 2 Watch List. It was last in Tier 3, the lowest ranking, in 2013.

A Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to U.S. and international aid, but US presidents frequently waive such action.

Tillerson presented the report in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin room alongside Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser.

A crowd of about 300 people including Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Representative Darrell Issa, attended the ceremony.

Ivanka Trump has tried to make the fight against human trafficking one of her signature issues. She was instrumental in arranging a White House meeting with anti-trafficking activists that Trump attended in the first few weeks of the administration.

During a visit to Rome last month, she met privately with a group of African women who had been trafficked into prostitution. 

Beijing confirmed this month it had detained labor rights activists who scrutinized conditions at a Chinese company making shoes for Ivanka Trump’s namesake apparel line. The State Department has urged China to release the activists immediately. 

The State Department on Tuesday also removed Iraq and Myanmar from a list of countries that recruit and use child soldiers.

The announcement confirmed a report by Reuters on Friday. U.S. officials told the news agency that Tillerson had disregarded recommendations of State Department experts, senior U.S. diplomats and the State Department’s legal office to keep the countries on the list.

The State Department declined to comment on how the decision was made, saying it “does not discuss details of internal deliberations.”

Human rights advocates criticized the decision, saying that international observers continue to document child recruitment by both countries’ militaries.

Under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008, the US government must be satisfied that “no children are recruited, conscripted or otherwise compelled to serve as child soldiers” for a country to be removed from the list and US military assistance to resume.

“Taking (Myanmar) and Iraq off the list when they continue to use child soldiers is both contrary to U.S. law and harms children still in the ranks,” Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Monday.

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No apologies from McEnroe to Serena

John McEnroe has refused to apologise for his comments about Serena Williams – and believes men should play against women to settle the argument.

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The former world No.1 stirred up a storm after telling US radio station NPR that Williams, who holds the Open era record of 23 grand slam singles titles, would be ranked around 700 in the men’s game.

McEnroe has been widely criticised for appearing to belittle the achievements of Williams, but defended his remarks.

After describing Williams on NPR as the greatest female player of all time, McEnroe was asked why he had not simply said greatest player.

“I felt the need, however unfortunately, to defend myself and say what I really felt, which is about what I think she would be,” McEnroe said.

“I’ve got a solution. Solve the problem, and I’m sure the men would be all for this – the men and women play together. And then we don’t have to guess.”

Williams responded to McEnroe’s comments with a pithy response on Twitter.

The 35-year-old, who is away from the tour preparing to give birth to her first child, wrote: “Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based.

“I’ve never played anyone ranked “there” nor do I have time. Respect me and my privacy as I’m trying to have a baby. Good day sir.”

When she was much younger Williams and sister Venus did however take part in a ‘battle of the sexes’ against German Karsten Braasch, who was then world No.203.

Braasch played a set against each, beating Serena 6-1 and Venus 6-2.

When McEnroe was asked if he would like to apologise he was emphatic in his response.

“No. I didn’t know it would create controversy. I’ve said this 1,000 times,” McEnroe said.

“I don’t want anything to go wrong with Serena because she’s pregnant, I don’t want to upset her.

“I think she’s doing it tongue in cheek as well and I think deep down we’re talking about something… I can’t even believe we’re talking about it.”

Williams has already made it clear she is determined to return to the tour next year, with Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 slam singles titles an obvious goal.

Image of the United States has plunged under Trump, survey shows

Australians have little confidence in US President Donald Trump and worldwide he is viewed as arrogant, intolerant and dangerous, according to a new US study.

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The Washington DC-based Pew Research Center surveyed 37 nations and just 22 per cent of respondents were confident Trump “will do the right thing when it comes to international affairs”.

That compares to 64 per cent expressing confidence in Barack Obama in the final years of his presidency.

“Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States,” Pew’s survey states.

“Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the US have declined steeply in many nations.”

No confidence in Trump

🇲🇽Mexico 93%

🇪🇸Spain 92%

🇸🇪Sweden 90%

🇩🇪Germany 87%

🇹🇷Turkey 82%

🇬🇧UK 75%

🇨🇦Canada 75%

🇦🇺Australia 70% pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/K01ZrYLfE7

— Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett) June 27, 2017

Just 29 per cent of Australians have confidence in Trump, but the number was higher than other nations including key US allies and neighbours.

Just five per cent of Mexicans, seven per cent of Spaniards, 11 per cent of Germans, 22 per cent of Brits, 22 per cent of Canadians and 24 per cent of Japanese said they had confidence in the president.

In the final years of Obama’s presidency Australians had 84 per cent confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs and Mexicans (49 per cent), Spaniards (75 per cent), Germans (86 per cent), Brits (79 per cent), Canadians (83 per cent) and Japanese (78 per cent) were also more bullish on the former president.

Going against the trend, favourability ratings in Russia and Vietnam for the US have gone up since Trump took office.

Survey respondents were read a list of positive and negative characteristics and asked whether they described Trump.

“Most say he is arrogant, intolerant and dangerous, while few think of him as well-qualified or as someone who cares about ordinary people,” Pew reported.

“Describing Trump as charismatic is more common, although global publics on balance do not think of him as charismatic either.

“They do, however, see Trump as a strong leader.”

Syria may be preparing for another chemical attack, US says

Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main international backer, denounced the warning and dismissed White House assertions that a strike was being prepared as”unacceptable,” raising the tension between Washington and Moscow over the Syrian civil war.

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Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the United States had recently seen activity at Shayrat airfield, the same base targeted by a US cruise missile strike on April 6.

Davis said the activity was from “the past day or two.” He did not say how the United States collected its intelligence. 

“This involved specific aircraft in a specific hangar, both of which we know to be associated with chemical weapons use,” Davis said.

The White House said on Monday it appeared the Syrian government was preparing for another chemical weapons attack and it warned Assad that he and his military would “pay a heavy price” if it went ahead.

0:00 US strikes military base in southern Syria. Share US strikes military base in southern Syria.

The US strike on the Shayrat airfield followed the deaths of 87 people in what Washington said was a poison gas attack in rebel-held territory two days earlier. Syria denied it carried out the attack.

The White House said the recent preparations in Syria were similar to actions before the April attack.

But Russia challenged the US intelligence. 

“I am not aware of any information about a threat that chemical weapons can be used,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

“Certainly, we consider such threats to the legitimate leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic unacceptable.”

Russian officials have privately described the war in Syria as the biggest source of tension between Moscow and Washington, and the April cruise missile strike ordered by US President Donald Trump raised the risk of confrontation between them.

Assad visited a Russian air base at Hmeymim in western Syria on Tuesday, his first visit to the base from which Russian jets have supported his war effort.

Photos circulated showed the Syrian leader in the cockpit of a Russian Sukhoi SU-35 warplane, and inspecting weapons, personnel and armored vehicles at the base near Latakia.

US Warning

The Syrian military and foreign ministry did not immediately comment on the White House warning, though a Syrian state-run television station, al-Ikhbariya, said the White House’s allegations were fabricated.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the intelligence that prompted the statement, or on possible US plans if Syria carried out such an attack. 

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the Trump administration intended its warning to be aimed not just at Syria’s government but also at Russia and Iran, another supporter of Assad.

“I believe that the goal is, at this point, not just to send Assad a message but to send Russia and Iran a message that if this happens again we are putting you on notice,” Haley said in a hearing in the US House representatives.

She stressed that the primary US goal in Syria is to fight Islamic State, not to remove Assad.

“I don’t see a healthy Syria with Assad in place, but the US priority has and continues to be to fight ISIS,” she said.

British Defence Minister Michael Fallon said London would support US action to prevent a chemical weapons attack but that it had not seen the intelligence on which Washington based Monday’s statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron agreed with Trump in a phone call on Tuesday to work together to find a common response in case of a new chemical attack in Syria, the French presidency said.

US and allied intelligence officers had for some time identified several sites where they suspected Assad’s government may have been hiding newly made chemical weapons from inspectors, said a US official familiar with the intelligence.

That assessment was based in part on the locations, security surrounding the suspect sites and other information which the official declined to describe.

Although the intelligence was not considered conclusive, Washington decided to issue the public warning to the Syrian leadership to try to deter such a strike, said the official, who declined to discuss the issue further.

The number of people killed in suspected chemical attacks is a small portion of the total dead in Syria’s civil war – a figure which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, estimates is close to half a million.

But television footage of victims of April’s attack, including children, writhing in agony, caused revulsion across the world. 

After the April attack, Trump accused Assad’s government of going “beyond a red line” and approved what US officials called a “one-off” strike to deter future chemical attacks.

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Aussies have little confidence in Trump

Australians have little confidence in US President Donald Trump and worldwide he is viewed as arrogant, intolerant and dangerous, according to a new US study.

长沙夜网

The Washington DC-based Pew Research Center surveyed 37 nations and just 22 per cent of respondents were confident Trump “will do the right thing when it comes to international affairs”.

That compares to 64 per cent expressing confidence in Barack Obama in the final years of his presidency.

“Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States,” Pew’s survey states.

“Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the US have declined steeply in many nations.”

Just 29 per cent of Australians have confidence in Trump, but the number was higher than other nations including key US allies and neighbours.

Just five per cent of Mexicans, seven per cent of Spaniards, 11 per cent of Germans, 22 per cent of Brits, 22 per cent of Canadians and 24 per cent of Japanese said they had confidence in the president.

In the final years of Obama’s presidency Australians had 84 per cent confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs and Mexicans (49 per cent), Spaniards (75 per cent), Germans (86 per cent), Brits (79 per cent), Canadians (83 per cent) and Japanese (78 per cent) were also more bullish on the former president.

Going against the trend, favourability ratings in Russia and Vietnam for the US have gone up since Trump took office.

Survey respondents were read a list of positive and negative characteristics and asked whether they described Trump.

“Most say he is arrogant, intolerant and dangerous, while few think of him as well-qualified or as someone who cares about ordinary people,” Pew reported.

“Describing Trump as charismatic is more common, although global publics on balance do not think of him as charismatic either.

“They do, however, see Trump as a strong leader.”

Three CNN journalists resign after Trump-Russia article pulled

The US president seized on the incident to renew his repeated attacks on the cable network as a purveyor of “fake news.

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Thomas Frank, the author of the article, editor Eric Lichtblau and Lex Haris, who headed the newly-created investigative unit that produced the story have all quit.

The article was posted on CNN’s website on Thursday before being pulled on Friday. It was not picked up or mentioned on air by the network.

Trump, who has singled out the channel for criticism since the 2016 election campaign, was quick to react.

“Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!” he tweeted Tuesday morning.

“So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!” he wrote.

The CNN report had claimed the Senate Intelligence Committee was investigating ties between the Trump administration and an investment fund controlled by Russian bank VEB, which has been subject to sanctions by the United States and Europe since the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia.

Citing an anonymous source, the report said the US Treasury Department was believed to be investigating Anthony Scaramucci, a businessman and member of the Trump transition team, said to have met the director general of the fund on January 16.

Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2017

Trump’s young administration has been consumed by allegations — under investigation both by Congress and the FBI, and furiously denied by the Republican president — that members of his campaign team colluded with a Russian effort to tip the electoral scales in his favor.

According to CNN’s media correspondent Brian Stelter investigative unit members were told in a meeting Monday that the retraction did not mean the facts of the story were necessarily wrong. Rather, it meant that “the story wasn’t solid enough to publish as-is.”

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All three journalists were highly respected and their resignations were said to have come as a surprise to their colleagues. Lichtblau, a New York Times veteran, won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 2006.

The development is a blow for CNN, which announced at the start of the year the creation of a new investigation unit in order to compete with the New York Times and Washington Post, as well as Politico and the Wall Street Journal which have beefed up their investigative teams to cover the new Trump administration.