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.