Behind Donald Trump, a son-in-law who is also an adviser

Mr Sessions said the person who facilitated Mr’s Trump’s meeting with the Republican lawmakers was Jared Kushner, a 35-year-old real estate investor and newspaper owner, who had suggested the get-together last month, arguing that it would enable Trump to win more allies on Capitol Hill, according to a person in the room.


Kushner is also Trump’s son-in-law, having married the Republican presidential front-runner’s daughter Ivanka in 2009.

A real-estate tycoon like his father-in-law, Kushner has emerged as one of a very few advisers as Trump seeks the Republican nomination to the Nov. 8 election, according to five people close to Trump.

It is especially rare given that Trump styles himself as his own best adviser and has said he consults only a few people despite a promise to hire the country’s top minds once he becomes president.

While “well respected,” Kushner has no official campaign role, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said. She confirmed however that Kushner had helped with the Sessions meeting and had informally advised the candidate on Israel and in other areas.

In an interview Kushner’s friend David Schulhof, founder of a music publishing company, cited a level-headedness and listening skill that would make Kushner a calming influence.

This could be helpful to Trump, 69, who entered the race 10 months ago hailing his having never held public office as an asset, but whose campaign has been rocked by turbulence over remarks offensive to women, Muslims, immigrants, party loyalists and others.


At times Kushner has urged Trump to behave like a more traditional candidate, stressing the importance of building relationships with politicians and traditionally active donors, say the sources close to Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity.

They also say Kushner can use friendships like the ones he has with media mogul Rupert Murdoch and real estate billionaire Ronald Perelman as a bridge to influential people with whom his father-in-law is not close. Neither Murdoch nor Perelman would comment for this story.

Israel connections 

An Orthodox Jew, whose wife Ivanka converted to Judaism before they married, Kushner and his family have connections to Israel.

Along with his father, also a prominent real-estate developer, Kushner was listed in a 2015 report by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as a benefactor for its real estate committee, which required a donation of at least $47,000 (US$36,000) to the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group.

Kushner’s parents donated $26,000 (US$20 million) two years ago to a medical school campus in Jerusalem now named after them.

Using his family and business ties, Kushner arranged a series of meetings for Trump during a trip the candidate planned to make to Israel last year, the sources say.


The trip never happened.

Trump scrapped it after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Trump later suggested that if elected he would not take sides in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, a stance he said would help him negotiate a peace deal but which was unusually neutral for an American politician looking to court voters on Israel.

Ahead of AIPAC’s annual conference last month in Washington, Kushner advised his father-in-law to lay out concrete policies that would help smooth over relations with the Jewish community, according to two sources.

He further advised him to use a teleprompter for the speech, ditching his usual conversational style, the people close to Trump said.

It was also Kushner who fielded a call from Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who wanted to offer Trump the Israeli government’s perspective ahead of the AIPAC speech, according to the sources.


Dermer’s office declined to comment.

In the end, Trump delivered an uncharacteristically detailed speech to the 18,000 people who attended the conference, outlining a series of policy positions broadly aligned with AIPAC’s.

An AIPAC spokesman declined to comment.

Trump told attendees that Palestinians must scrub hatred of Israel from their educational system and stop naming public places after people who attacked Israel.

He said the United States must stand with Israel in rejecting attempts by the United Nations to impose restrictions on Israel or parameters for a peace deal.

He criticised the US deal with Iran as bad for Israel.

While helping Trump craft the speech, Kushner sought advice from the politically connected editor of his newspaper, the New York Observer.

The editor, Ken Kurson, a former speech writer for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wrote in an email to Reuters that he reviewed the speech before Trump delivered it.

RelatedFamily ties

Trump has loomed large in Kushner’s life since day one of his marriage.

The New York Post reported that invitations to Kushner’s wedding, held at a Trump golf club in New Jersey, included a flier advertising Trump’s other golf properties.

Kushner, who with his wife has taken family vacations with News Corp owner Murdoch and his ex-wife Wendi Deng, has worked to calm Murdoch’s ire with Trump over the candidate’s criticism of the company’s Fox News Channel and star anchor Megyn Kelly, two people familiar with his activities say.

During regular phone calls and lunches Kushner tries both to soothe Murdoch and stump for his father-in-law, these people said.

Despite his influence behind the scenes, Kushner keeps a largely low profile on the campaign trail.

During a Trump rally in South Carolina last November, he hung back while other family members took the stage until his father-in-law called him out.

“Where’s Jared? Jared get up here,” Trump shouted. Kushner, clad in charcoal-colored pants and a black quilted down vest, shuffled up, hands jammed in his pockets.

“Jared’s a very successful developer and he just loves politics now,” Trump said, adding with a bit of gleeful teasing: “Look at him. See the way he dresses?”

What’s the backlash against gender-neutral bathrooms all about?

Alison Gash, University of Oregon

Last week North Carolina became the first state to pass a law requiring transgender individuals (including students) to use only bathrooms that match their biological (rather than identified) gender.


They did so in response to an ordinance passed in Charlotte that supported transgender bathroom choice.

Transgender students’ access to bathrooms is an increasingly active front for LGBTQ rights battles. Recent calls for safer bathrooms have inspired “shit-ins” at California Polytechnic and San Diego State, where transgender advocates asked student allies to use only gender-neutral restrooms. In April last year, “urine” blockades confronted Berkeley students at Sather Gate, the main entrance to campus. Advocates filled plastic cups with fake urine and lined them up to greet students as they crossed the threshold into campus to protest inadequate restrooms for transgender students.

To a degree, these strategies have been effective. Courts, campuses and communities across the country have supported calls for transgender bathroom safety.

But in many cases, these efforts have launched a visceral backlash – now with North Carolina at its helm. It took state legislators only 12 hours to initiate, discuss and sign into law its prohibitions.

Why is bathroom safety so essential for transgendered individuals? And why is it greeted with such hostility?

Issues of physical, emotional safety

Studies show that transgender students can be harassed, sexually assaulted or subjected to other physical violence when they are required to use a gendered bathroom.

One survey, commissioned by the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA, found that 68 percent of participants were subjected to homophobic slurs while trying to use the bathroom. Nine percent confronted physical violence.


Studies have shown how use of bathroom results in assaults. Justin Henry, CC BY

Seventy percent of transgender individuals surveyed in Washington, D.C. experienced verbal or physical assaults or were otherwise threatened when attempting to use the bathroom of their choice. Some experienced more than one form of such behavior.

Yet another survey found that 26 percent of transgender students in New York were denied access to their preferred bathrooms altogether.

As a result, transgender students need to constantly weigh the trade-offs as they consider bathroom options.

As one University of Washington student articulates:

Do I choose physical safety or emotional safety? Do I choose physical health or mental health?

Bathroom policies

For some policymakers, these facts are compelling. For example, University of Pittsburgh, Arizona State University and the University of Maine, among several others, have established policies that would permit transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.

K-12 settings too are making similar accommodations. For instance, California’s School Success and Opportunity Act requires that all K-12 students be able to access bathrooms or locker rooms that are consistent with their own gender identity.

The private sector is responding as well. Hours after North Carolina passed its bill, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and other high-profile organizations expressed their opposition. A Kroger grocery store in Georgia has gone one step beyond opposition and relabeled its bathrooms as gender-neutral.

Bathroom panic

But “bathroom panic” appears to be the new focus in the story of gay rights backlash.

Wisconsin is considering legislation that would impose significant burdens on schools attempting to support transgender bathroom safety. And in South Dakota, a bill that would have restricted transgender students’ use of restrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities was recently vetoed.

Incidents of backlash have surfaced in elementary schools as well. For example, an elementary school student in Stafford County, Virginia, was prohibited from using a bathroom associated with her gender identity after parents and politicians in the state spoke out against the student’s request.

Federal intervention too has sent out mixed signals. On the one hand, the Department of Education issued a letter to an Illinois school district stating that denying a transgender student’s rights to access a bathroom consistent with their gender identity is a violation of Title IX.

On the other hand, a federal court rejected a transgender student’s claim that his equal rights were violated when his university rejected his request to use a locker room that matched his gender identity.

Is it only about women’s safety?

So, why is there is there so much backlash against these moves to provide safe bathrooms?

Opponents say that they are concerned about the possibility of men using “women’s showers, locker rooms and bathrooms” or “sex offenders…follow[ing] women or young girls into the bathroom.” But these explanations are problematic.

Bathroom opposition tends to affect far more than just bathrooms. In many cases, so-called “bathroom bills” create obstacles for all LGBTQ individuals in a variety of different settings.

In Houston, voters threw out an entire ordinance outlawing LGBTQ discrimination (an ordinance that is now standard in over 200 cities and counties) because it would provide bathroom choice to transgender individuals. Similarly, North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” (HB2) prohibits all municipalities from passing any ordinance that protects LGBTQ individuals from discrimination.

These strategies suggest that something more than just concern for women’s safety is at play.


Many are opposing such redesigned bathrooms. Cory Doctorow, CC BY-SA

Furthermore, this opposition exists even when transgender advocates invoke the needs of students with disabilities, those who may need “family bathrooms” and students who have survived sexual abuse and are more comfortable with single-stall facilities.

Need for safety

At this point, for many transgender students, bathroom options are limited.

Either they have to travel quite a distance to get to the nearest single-stall gender-neutral bathroom, or change in an “alternative” locker room (often a faculty bathroom or custodial closet).

There could even be days when they go to class in their workout clothes or “hold it in.”

Such options have clear drawbacks and health risks. Urinary tract infections, depression and even suicide could be among them.

As a result, sometimes students see their best option as renting a house near campus so they can go home to use the bathroom.

One student in North Carolina has decided to fight HB2 – by using the letter of law. To anyone who might meet him, Charlie Comero is a man. But because his birth certificate lists him as female, Charlie must now use the women’s bathroom. To offset any confusion about his presence in the women’s bathroom, Charlie passes out cards with the following text.

I’m following a law that was passed on March 23. I am a transgender man who would rather be using the men’s room right now. This is likely uncomfortable for both of us. Please contact your legislature and tell them you oppose HB2.

To be sure, lawsuits have been filed and protests have ensued. But for now in North Carolina and elsewhere, transgender individuals (who are far more likely to be victims rather than perpetrators of assault) will be forced to fend for themselves.

Alison Gash does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Panama Papers: the nuts and bolts of a massive international investigation

Richard Sambrook, Cardiff University

The reporting of the Panama Papers – which has been based on a massive global analysis of documents leaked from law firm Mossack Fonseca outlining how the world’s elite use tax havens – is a remarkable feat of collaboration which builds on several trends in investigative journalism.


The whole story started with a whistleblower who leaked a huge number of documents and data. At 2.6 terabytes of information, this leak is enormous, dwarfing the Wikileaks documents about the Iraq war or even Edward Snowden’s leaks of NSA surveillance details. Once again it shows how in the data age all organisations are vulnerable to vast caches of information being smuggled out on a computer hard drive or USB stick.

Following the authorities’ pursuit of the people behind those stories – Julian Assange, who is in the Ecuadorean embassy in London; Edward Snowden, who remains in exile in Moscow; and Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year jail sentence, many had feared that whistleblowers would be more reluctant to come forward.

This is particularly the case in light of sophisticated corporate as well as government surveillance and the introduction of new laws – including the UK government’s proposed “snooper’s charter” – designed to track the public’s internet and phone use.

Many organisations, including The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and The Guardian who were involved in this story, offer secure online “boxes” into which information can be dropped anonymously and encrypted to encourage and support whistleblowers.

The news organisations partnering in this highly coordinated news story will have had to make extensive use of encryption and other techniques to protect their source and avoid their investigation being discovered before publication. This will have involved the use of encrypted email, the use of software such as the TOR browser and network, which prevents location and websites you visit being tracked, and the use of an “air gap” – computers not connected to the internet or any other network – to analyse the documents.

The journalists, who worked on the documents secretly for more than a year, may well have used open-source software such as Linux rather than proprietary computer systems such as those provided by Microsoft or Apple which can also track user activity.

Working in partnership

Once again, following Wikileaks and the Snowden revelations, it is an example of collaboration between news organisations. In this case the original material was sent to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung which passed them to the ICIJ – because of the consortium’s extensive experience in investigative journalism with members placed around the world. Other global partners were then brought on board.

There are a number of advantages to such editorial collaboration. First, it maximises the impact of the story when it is published – in this case simultaneously and globally. We increasingly see joint investigations between newspapers, broadcasters and digital news sites in order to maximise the profile of their story – and increasingly those partners are ones (including The Guardian and The BBC) with a global reach.


How The Guardian reported the Panama Papers. The Guardian

For the Panama Papers, however, it was notable that no major US media organisation was included in the initial partners. The ICIJ is based in the US and may have wanted to maximise its own profile in its home territory. It is also notable that a number of similar foundations or collectives were involved in the investigation. In the US in particular, there is a view that public interest investigative journalism increasingly has to be carried out by non-corporate media.

International partners bring different specialist knowledge to the investigation – whether geographic, political or business-related. At a time when many news organisations struggle to support permanent investigative teams, partnering is an obvious way to build a bigger and stronger team to look into a complex, long-running issue.

In addition, there may be legal and political advantages to managing an investigation in several centres. During the Snowden investigation The Guardian ran a significant proportion of its inquiries from its US office in order to benefit from the additional protection of the American first amendment – which is not available in Europe. It is what some lawyers refer to as jurisdictional arbitrage – avoiding injunctions in one country by publishing in another. In a globalised, digital media, national legislation can be stepped around and organisations can choose in which jurisdiction to publish.

For all of this, each organisation will have had to take its own editorial view on the story, the evidence, and the legality. What matters most in Europe may be different in Asia or South America. Media lawyers in different organisations may well have also liaised on the issues raised by publishing the papers – but each organisation is independently responsible for what it publishes and will have taken its own view of the evidence and the newsworthiness of the documents.

Open but accountable

The ICIJ has been criticised by some on social media for not putting all the material into the open for anyone to look through. For open media evangelists this would be the most transparent action to take. However, with such a huge trove of documents, any media organisation will want to ensure they act legally and responsibly – putting the material through an editorial and legal filter before publishing.

This is one of the defining differences between professional media and open data activists. In broad terms these are literally stolen documents – can news organisations justify publishing them in the greater public interest? Will undue harm to innocent figures be caused by open publication? The public interest seems clear in this case – but without knowing what else the documents contain it is hard to make a judgement about whether they should all be placed online.

The Panama Papers – like The Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, like Wikileaks Iraq War logs and like the Snowden revelations – lifts the lid on the activities of political and business elites in ways which will be discussed for many years to come.

They are also a rich example of how investigative journalism increasingly works in the age of big data and global media. We can expect to see more leaks, more international media collaborations and more reaction from governments trying to clamp down on embarrassing revelations.

Richard Sambrook does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Why Bali is becoming a haven for drug users seeking help

Mitch Bartrum was 13 when he tried illegal drugs for the first time.


“I started at a young age smoking weed, then went to pills, then speed. I was one of those kids who could never just stop, you know?” he says.

As a young adult he developed a methamphetamine addiction that slowly consumed his life.

“I tried everything I could do to keep this habit going, everything,” he says.

“I was a compulsive liar. I used all the money for my business. What money I didn’t spend on drugs, I spent on the pokie machines… trying to win money to keep going.

“It just got to the point where there was no other choice for me besides to come here, or go to jail or die.”

It was his father who eventually convinced him to seek help at a rehabilitation facility.

The family chose Sivana Bali, an eight-bed rehabilitation clinic located on the Indonesian island better known to Australians as a party destination.

Drinking is prevalent on the main streets of Kuta while police patrol for drug deals in the murky laneways behind them.  

Coming to a country with a notoriously tough stance against drugs wasn’t a deterrent, Mitch says – in fact, it was encouraging.


“I’ve always been too scared to touch drugs or anything like that, because of the laws here.”

“So I knew that coming here was probably the best idea that my dad had.”

Chanel, from Perth, is at Sivana for a month-long stay. 

The 31-year-old, also a former meth user, says she reached “rock bottom” before realising she needed help. 

“I’d gotten into legal trouble, I’d lost my job, I’d lost my license,” she says.

“I wasn’t living a normal life, and I realised I was pushing away a lot of people I cared about, that cared about me.”

For Chanel, rehab in Bali appealed because it was far away from home.

“I needed to get away, really,” she says.

Siva Bali co-owner Nev Doidge says some clients are drawn by lower costs and shorter waiting lists compared to back home.

“The waiting lists in Australia are huge. Methamphetamine [reduction], along with a lot of other substances, isn’t getting any better,” Nev said.

“The cost factors; what we can offer here in Bali as opposed to Australia is vastly different.

“We have villa complexes, all of our staff are fully qualified in what they do, and the environment [is calm].”

The company has treated around 140 people since it opened two years ago. Almost all have been Australian.

Indonesia amended its narcotics laws in 2009. Many of the changes, including forced rehabilitation for declared drug users, have been controversial.


Despite tougher penalties being enforced for dealers, Nev says Indonesia is beginning to embrace drug rehabilitation.

“The change here in support for rehabilitation has been huge in Indonesia,” he says.

“There’s been a big shift in the last few years in that kind of thing.”

Sivana’s Program Director Nadine Winter says the next challenge for clients will be returning home.

“It’s a big part of what we do here, teaching people how they’re going to manage their lives once they go home,” she says.

Though she is still receiving treatment, Sivana client Chanel says she believes she’s made the right choice.

“I feel at peace. I feel calm. I feel happy. I wake up in the morning and I’m like, yay, you know?

“Whereas I didn’t even want to wake up for the days really, before I got here. I didn’t even want to face the day.”

Mitch will soon be heading home to Australia, and says he’s grateful to his family for the experience. 

“Every time I pushed them away, they were still here. I would have lost everything if it wasn’t for them.”

Schapelle Corby leaves Bali villa

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British Airways vows ‘never again’ after IT collapse

British Airways says it will take steps to ensure there is no repeat of a computer system failure that stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend and turned into a public relations disaster.


BA had been forced to cancel all its flights from Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, and Gatwick on Saturday after a power supply problem disrupted its operations worldwide and also hit its call centres and website.

The airline was returning to normal on Monday, planning to run more than 95 per cent of flights from London Heathrow and Gatwick, with only a handful of short-haul flights cancelled.

BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz said the root of the problem, which also affected passengers trying to fly into Britain, had been a power surge on Saturday morning which hit BA’s flight, baggage and communication systems. It was so strong it also rendered the back-up systems ineffective, he said.

“Once the disruption is over, we will carry out an exhaustive investigation into what caused this incident, and take measures to ensure it never happens again,” Cruz said.

Over the weekend, some stranded passengers curled up under blankets on the floor or slumped on luggage trolleys, images that played prominently online and in newspapers.

“Apologises all well and good but not enough. BA has lost another loyal customer #disgraceful,” tweeted Tom Callway, who had been due to fly to Budapest.

The company was left counting the cost of the disruption, both in terms of a one-off impact to its profit and the longer term damage to its reputation.

Spanish-listed shares of parent company IAG, which also owns carriers Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, dropped 2.8 per cent on Monday after the outage. The London-listed shares did not trade because of a public holiday.

Flight compensation website Flightright长沙桑拿按摩论坛, said that with around 800 flights cancelled at Gatwick and Heathrow on Saturday and Sunday, BA was looking at having to pay around 61 million euros ($A91.5 million) in compensation under EU rules. That does not include the cost of reimbursing customers for hotel stays.

BA would fully honour its compensation obligations, Cruz said.

BA has been cutting costs to respond to competition on short-haul routes from Ryanair and easyJet.

Ireland’s Ryanair was quick to seize on the marketing opportunity, tweeting “Should have flown Ryanair” with a picture of the ‘Computer says no’ sketch from the TV series “Little Britain” to poke fun at BA.

The GMB union said that BA’s IT systems had shortcomings after they made a number of staff redundant and shifted their work to India in 2016.

“This could have all been avoided. BA in 2016 made hundreds of dedicated and loyal IT staff redundant and outsourced the work to India,” Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for Aviation, said.

Cruz rejected the union criticism.

“They’ve all been local issues around a local data centre, which has been managed and fixed by local resources,” he told Sky News.

The airline said it was working to reunite passengers with their luggage after many items were left at Heathrow over the weekend.

MI5 launches internal probe as new photo of Abedi released

As the number of people detained in Britain rose to 14 following an arrest early in the morning, police released CCTV images of 22-year-old attacker Salman Abedi carrying a large suitcase and appealed for information about the luggage.


Manchester City Council has called a vigil in the centre of the northwest England city for 2131 GMT — the exact moment that Abedi detonated his bomb outside a pop concert by teen idol Ariana Grande in one of Europe’s biggest indoor arenas.

The names of the victims, including six under the age of 18, were read out in front of the city’s town hall earlier on Monday before hundreds of people at an annual religious ceremony.

A nearby square was packed with floral tributes and heart-shaped balloons, as well as runners’ bibs left by participants in a half-marathon on Sunday.

“You tried to destroy us but you’ve brought us closer together,” read one message of defiance.

This is a handout photo taken from CCTV by Greater Manchester Police of Salman AbediGreater Manchester Police


Investigators pushed ahead with their probe of the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State group.

Police officers could be seen conducting a search at a rubbish tip near Manchester and released images of Abedi carrying a blue suitcase hours before the attack, asking the public where and when they might have seen him with it in the preceding days.

“We have no reason to believe the case and its contents contain anything dangerous, but would ask people to be cautious,” the police said in a statement, stressing that the suitcase was different from the backpack Abedi used in the attack.

Abedi is believed to have returned from a trip to Libya a few days before the bombing.

Authorities also arrested a 23-year-old man in the southern coastal town of Shoreham-by-Sea, more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Manchester.

Fourteen men are now detained on UK soil in the investigation, while Abedi’s father and brother have been held in Libya, where officials said the two brothers were IS jihadists.

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MI5 probe is ‘right’

Amid mounting criticism of the security services, MI5 are looking at decisions taken in the case of Abedi, who used to be on a terror watchlist but was no longer on it at the time of the attack, and whether warnings about his behaviour were ignored.

“There is a lot of information coming out at the moment about what happened, how this occurred, what people might or might not have known,” Britain’s interior minister Amber Rudd told Sky News.

“It is right that MI5 take a look to find out what the facts are,” she said, adding: “We shouldn’t rush to make any conclusions at this stage”.

Two people who knew Abedi made separate calls to an anti-terrorism hotline to warn the police about his extremist views, British media have reported.

The Mail on Sunday also cited a source saying US federal agents had been investigating Abedi since the middle of 2016 and had flagged up concerns to MI5.

The BBC reported that Abedi had taken part in the armed uprising against Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi’s regime as a teenager during school holidays.

At the weekend British investigators released pictures of a black-clad Abedi taken from CCTV on the night of the massacre, and appealed to the public for help in tracing his movements in the days before.

The police statement said one of the last places he went to before the attack at the Manchester Arena venue was a city centre flat, where they believe he may have finished assembling the device.

None of the men arrested have so far been charged with a crime and police have up to 14 days in which to do so under special anti-terrorism laws.

Station reopening

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday lowered the terror threat level, which had been hiked in the immediate aftermath of Monday’s attack.

Operation Temperer, which involved the highly unusual deployment of armed troops on Britain’s streets, will also be wound down on Monday night.

In another sign of a lowering of security tensions, Victoria Station in Manchester, a major transport hub which was next to the blast site and has been shut since the tragedy, is due to reopen on Tuesday.

“Victoria Station’s reopening is an important statement about our city’s recovery from this devastating attack,” Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said.

Investigators said they have a 1,000-strong team working on the probe and have significant details on Abedi’s associates and movements, his finances, and how the bomb was built.

But cuts in police force numbers made while May was interior minister have become a focus for the campaign ahead of a general election on June 8 and polls have shown her strong lead against the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn shrinking in recent days.

From 2009 to 2016, the number of police officers fell by almost 20,000, or around 14 percent.

May argues that the government has increased funding for security and intelligence agencies.


Rising everyday costs bring call for more retirement savings

A key organisation representing Australia’s superannuation industry says a rise in everyday expenses is driving an increase in how much money is needed for retirement.


The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia has been monitoring everyday expenses like power, food and health care since 2006.

Chief policy officer, Glen McCrea told SBS World News price hikes were driving up how much money is needed for a comfortable retirement and recommended Australians contribute more to their super funds

Related reading

“What we encourage people to do is to look at their super balances, think about how far away they are from retirement and, where they can, put in a little bit extra, because, with the benefit of compound [interest], it can make a big difference in your balances in retirement,” Mr McCrea said.

In 2006, the association estimated a single person who owned a home needed $35,000 a year for a comfortable retirement.

But in 2014, that figure had risen 23 per cent to $42,000.

A comfortable budget for a couple in 2006 was $47,000, but by 2014 that had risen similarly to $58,000.

Sydney University of Technology Adjunct Professor Eva Cox has looked at the development of superannuation in Australia.

Adjunct Professor Cox said it wasn’t realistic for people on average wages to put away that little bit extra.

“Most people who earn under $80,000 a year will be very lucky if they save enough money in their superfunds to do anything more than supplement an aged pension, have some additional money to cover themselves when they need lump sums,” she said.

“But the idea that everybody will be able to retire independently of government pensions is a lot of rubbish.”

While employers must contribute 9.5 per cent of a person’s salary into a superannuation fund, the association is encouraging people to contribute more.

Another industry body has also released a report revealing bank-owned superfunds collected almost $9 million in super fees in 2016.

Industry Super Australia’s David Whiteley said this was a concern.

“We know the banks have roughly around about 20 per cent of total market share of super,” he said.

“They’re of course used to having 80 per cent market share in credit cards and home loans and other banking products.

“What our concern is here is that the fees generated by the banks out of super are disproportionate when compared to their market share, and it could well be reducing their fund members’ nest eggs.”

Related reading

Siege continues with Qld police killer

A siege is continuing with a man who shot and killed Queensland police officer Brett Forte during a traffic stop west of Brisbane.


Senior Constable Forte was killed after a “wanted man” evaded police in a traffic stop at Seventeen Mile in the Lockyer Valley just before 2pm on Monday.

Police have been negotiating with the suspected gunman – named in the media as Rick Maddison – holed up in a farm house near Gatton.

It’s believed Maddison is armed with a machine gun.

“This guy they are after, he has got serious history,” Queensland Police Union CEO Ian Leavers told Nine on Tuesday, without going into details.

Commissioner Ian Stewart told a press conference late on Monday night that police wanted to resolve the stand-off “as peacefully as humanly possible”.

Police have cordoned off a large section of the area, forcing some locals to sleep in their cars.

Sne Const Forte’s death came after a police pursuit involving Maddison on Tuesday afternoon.

A police source said Maddison got out of his car during the chase and shot Sen Const Forte before driving down a dirt road at Seventeen Mile.

He also fired at a police helicopter while entering the farm house.

Nine said neighbours had heard gunfire coming from Maddison’s property over the last couple of months.

“On average you would hear gunshots over there at least one, two nights a week,” one said.

A neighbour, Kyal, told Seven events unfolded rapidly and they were ordered out of their homes at 5.30pm.

“Everybody just can’t leave how quick it unravelled and how close it is to home,” he said.

“For it to be so close to everybody and just to think that he can happen in your backyard just like that. It’s kind of really scary.”

Economists query Trump’s recession call

Donald Trump’s prediction that the US economy is on the verge of a “very massive recession” has hit a wall of scepticism from economists who questioned the Republican presidential front-runner’s calculations.


In an interview with the Washington Post published on Saturday, the billionaire businessman said a combination of high unemployment and an overvalued stock market had set the stage for another economic slump.

He put real unemployment above 20 per cent.

“We’re not heading for a recession, massive or minor, and the unemployment rate is not 20 per cent,” Harm Bandholz, chief US economist at UniCredit Research in New York said on Sunday.

The official unemployment rate has declined to five per cent from a peak of 10 per cent in October 2009, according to government statistics.

But a different, broader measure of unemployment that includes people who want to work, but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment is at 9.8 per cent.

Coming off a difficult week of campaigning, in which he acknowledged he struggled to articulate his position on abortion among other missteps, Trump’s comments to the Post might be some of his most bearish on the economy and financial markets.

“I think we’re sitting on an economic bubble. A financial bubble,” he said.

Some economists agree the stock market is in a period of overvaluation but do not see that as foretelling a cataclysmic economic downturn originating in the United States.

“Nobody can predict what the stock market is going to do,” said Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Centre at Georgia State University.

“I cannot predict a stock market crash, so I cannot predict a recession. I don’t see any of the reasons for a recession going forward unless there is a huge problem with the market or there is some catastrophic world event which is beyond the scope of economics.”

Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, put the probability of an imminent recession at less than 10 per cent.

“If it happens, it would be because of what is happening overseas, especially in China and Europe,” he says.

Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisers in Pennsylvania, said it would take a “total financial meltdown” to trigger a recession.

The Democratic National Committee criticised Trump for his remarks, saying they “undermine our economy”.

Trump’s success with voters, despite his sometimes saying things only to contradict them later, has also alarmed many leading figures within his own party.

Some of them are openly plotting to try to prevent him from becoming the nominee at the party’s national convention in July.

Melbourne attack on Muslim girls ‘disturbing and brazen’: Islamophobia Register

Three Muslim schoolgirls have spoken of the terror they felt in what has described as a “disturbing and brazen” racially-motivated attack by a gang of youths.


10-year-old Aima Sadiq-Ali, 12-year-old Walija Iqbalali, and Nadia Ali-Ahmad, 15, were playing in a Geelong park last Wednesday around 5.30pm, when a group of boys and girls approached and hurled racial abuses at them.

They then proceeded to forcibly rip off Aima and Nadia’s hijabs, which caused grazing to Aima’s neck.

“They said go back to your country. I’m gonna f*** your mum, like rude words.” Aima Sadiq-Ali told Channel Seven.

“They’re saying our scarf (is) poo, (they were) saying ‘get off your poo’.”

Walija Iqbalali said her foot was heavily bruised as the gang repeatedly punched and kicked them, and then pelted them with rocks.

“One of the little girls, she was like seven years old, and she was filling her socks with rocks and hitting us,” Ms Iqbalali said to Channel Seven.

“I couldn’t even control myself as I was really upset,” Nadia Ali-Ahmad added.

As the trio attempted to escape and call police, Aima’s mobile phone was taken off her and smashed into pieces.

A parent related to one of the offenders later arrived, but the girls say instead of stopping the violence, the parent egged the gang on.

“They hit us, and their mum is like saying rude words to us to ‘go back to your country, go back to your country,’” she said.

In a statement, Victoria Police said they are hunting the group of “about ten youths”, aged between seven and 16, and confirmed an older woman was believed to be with them.

Acting Senior Sergeant Jonathan Parish said the attacks were extremely distressing.

“It is a sickening attack. It’s extremely alarming. They’re young girls, they should be able to go to a local park and enjoy the outdoors, enjoy the community, without being subjected to this kind of behaviour,” he said.

“They certainly have the right to practice their faith and be safe and secure whilst doing so.”

Post by Islamophobia Register Australia.

Islamophobia Register Australia president Mariam Veiszadeh said in a statement on the group’s Facebook page that the “disturbing and brazen” attack on the three girls was part of a wider trend.

“The news of this incident comes amidst a global political landscape in which Islamophobia is becoming increasingly mainstream so people feel more emboldened to engage in a manner that is prejudicial towards Muslims and in this case, against children,” she said.

“We are currently in the process of working with a number of academics to analyse over 12 months worth of data from the Islamophobia Register Australia in an endeavour to publish a Final Findings Report later this year which aims to shed light on the trends we are seeing in our data.

“Many incidents like this continue to go unreported. Please help us, protect our communities by reporting any such incidents to Police and to us at the Register.”

The girls suffered minor injuries, but said the emotional trauma sustained was severe and are now too frightened to go outside without their parents, who fled war-torn Afghanistan.

“I’m so scared, and my mum’s scared too,” Aima Sadiq-Ali said.

Police have urged for anyone with information to come forward.

Related reading

Eels resolution to clear Norman’s future

A speedy resolution to Parramatta’s salary cap dramas shape as key to the NRL club holding onto off-contract playmaker Corey Norman.


Norman on Monday admitted his manager had already been sounded out by rival NRL clubs interested in his services for 2017 and beyond.

His manager is also talking to the Eels about a new deal, but complicating matters is the fact Parramatta are unlikely to finalise any contracts until the NRL’s salary cap investigation into the club is complete.

There is still no firm timetable on when the NRL will hand down their findings, which Norman said would definitely help his situation.

“But in saying that we’re talking to the club at the moment and we’re doing everything we can to get everything right,” Norman said.

Norman has impressed for the blue and gold since joining from Brisbane in 2014, and was named their player of the year last season.

However with halfback Kieran Foran arriving at the club this season on a multi-million dollar deal, keeping another half on big money could be difficult for the Eels to manage.

And now other clubs are chasing.

“Yeah there are,” Norman said, when asked if other clubs had been in contact with his manager.

“My manager is doing that side of things. He will let me know when the time is right and I think we’ll have a sit down and discuss our plans.”

Parramatta fullback Michael Gordon said holding on to Norman should be a priority for the club.

The Eels’ last-minute 20-18 loss to Penrith was the club’s first while having both Norman and Foran on the field together, and Gordon believes the club must keep the pair together.

“If I was the club I would be doing all I could to re-sign him,” Gordon said.

“With Foran signed here for a while you would think if you can lock up him and Norman up long-term … they’ve got potential to build up something really good here over the next five or six years.”

Syrian air raid kills Nusra Front leader

A prominent leader in Syrian Al Qaeda offshoot the Nusra Front was killed on Sunday in an air raid in the rebel held north western province of Idlib alongside at least 20 other militants, including foreign jihadists and rebels, a monitoring group said.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in the country, confirmed reports on websites by militant sympathisers that Abu Firas, “the Syrian”, was killed in a suspected Syrian or Russian air raid on a village northwest of the city of Idlib in northwestern Syria.

Abu Firas was a well-known figure who had many followers within the hardline group and who gave commentaries released by Nusra Front on sensitive issues ranging from governance to religious jurisprudence.

An Islamist source said Abu Firas was a founding member of the militant group who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s and was a senior member of its policy making Shura Council. He also worked with Osama bin Laden.

An army defector, Abu Firas originally came from Madaya, near Damascus, another source said.

The militant who supported the imposition of Islamic Sharia across Syria was killed alongside his son and Uzbekistan fighters in a strike that also targeted the militant Jund al Aqasa group in the village of Kafr Jales in mainly non-government controlled Idlib province, the monitor said.

A fragile “cessation of hostilities” truce has held in Syria for more than a month as the various parties try to negotiate an end to Syria’s five-year-old civil war.

But the truce excludes Islamic State and Nusra Front, and air and land attacks by Syrian and allied forces continue in parts of Syria where the government says the groups are present.

Commission orders pause on airport strikes over national security concerns

Striking Australian airport customs and immigration staff have been told to go to work after the Fair Work Commission ordered that industrial action over a pay dispute be temporarily suspended.


The commission made the order late on Sunday to suspend the action pending its decision on a government bid for a three-month halt on strikes on national security grounds, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said.

The order suspends strikes from 12.15am Monday.

“Members on duty tonight should not take any further notified action, with the suspension taking effect just after midnight Sunday night,” the CPSU said on its website.

“…The CPSU will abide by the order made by the Fair Work Commission and strongly encourages members to immediately refrain from taking notified industrial action.”

Urgent hearings were held in the Fair Work Commission on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday after the Immigration Department applied late on Friday to suspend all industrial action for three months on national security grounds.

The CPSU said part of the commission’s proceedings were ordered closed after the Commonwealth sought to legally suppress some of the evidence.

The union plans to fight against the Immigration Department’s application when the case returns to the commission on Tuesday.

The strikes had initially been planned for the Easter long weekend but were suspended in the wake of the Belgium terror attacks so as not to compromise Australia’s national security.

On Monday customs and immigration staff had planned to strike at airports in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, as well as regional terminals in Queensland.

Rolling stoppages around the nation had been scheduled to run until April 12, after the CPSU asked Immigration Department staff to take the action as the latest step in a two-year battle with the federal government over pay and conditions.