U.S. top court to consider reviving New Jersey sports betting law

The justices will review a federal appeals court’s ruling last year that the 2014 New Jersey statute permitting sports betting at casinos and racetracks violated a 1992 federal law that prohibits such gambling in all states except Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

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New Jersey had asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of an August 2016 ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that its law violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. New Jersey argues that the federal law infringes upon state sovereignty as laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

Courts have voided two New Jersey laws, also including one in 2012, designed to raise revenue for state coffers through sports betting. The law now at issue would ban wagers on state college teams and limit bets to people age 21 and older at casinos and racetracks.

In January, the Supreme Court had asked the incoming Trump administration to offer its views on whether the justices should take up New Jersey’s appeal, and the administration advised against it.

Christie, a Republican, served as an advisor to President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race but was removed as the head of Trump’s transition team after the election.

Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association all oppose New Jersey’s law.

Oral arguments and a decision are due in the court’s next term, which starts in October.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Will Dunham)

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.

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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.”

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.”