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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Macron greets Putin for first face-to-face talks

Macron welcomed Putin to the splendour of the Versailles palace outside Paris with a perfunctory handshake — after the 39-year-old made a point of outlasting US President Donald Trump when they clasped hands at the NATO summit last week.

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Putin’s visit is the latest test of Macron’s diplomatic mettle after the G7 talks in Sicily last week and the NATO summit in Brussels where he turned the tables on Trump by refusing to release the American leader’s hand for several seconds during the handshake for the cameras.

“It is essential to talk to Russia because there are many international issues that will not be resolved without a tough exchange with the Russians,” Macron said in Sicily.

Russia’s powerful ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, said he hoped the meeting could help turn the page on the fraught relationship between Putin and Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande.

“Many things in the future will depend on the first meeting,” Orlov told Europe 1 radio.

“It is very important that we begin to dissipate the mistrust that has built up in recent years.” 

As a candidate, Macron had tough words for Russia, accusing it of following a “hybrid strategy combining military intimidation and an information war”.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine in 2014, Russia has flexed its muscles with a series of war games involving tens of thousands of troops in areas bordering NATO Baltic states.

Macron told a French weekly that he was “not bothered” by leaders who “think in terms of power ratios”, citing Putin as an example along with Trump.

But Macron, who became France’s youngest president just three weeks ago, said he does not believe in “the diplomacy of public invective but in bilateral dialogue”.

Russian president meets the French president

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Not a single concession’ 

Macron said he would make “not a single concession” to Russia on the long-running conflict in Ukraine as he and his G7 counterparts said they were prepared to strengthen sanctions against Moscow.

Government forces have been battling Moscow-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine for over three years.

Western powers charge Russia with failing to honour its commitments under the Minsk accords framework for ending the hostilities.

France helped spearhead the sanctions, which have seriously dented EU-Russia trade, with a retaliatory Russian embargo on European agricultural products hurting French farmers.

The six-year-long Syrian conflict will also be high on the agenda, with Macron saying he was in favour of “building an inclusive political solution in a much more collective way”.

He regretted that none of the G7 states are party to Syria peace talks under way in the Kazakh capital Astana initiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Separate UN-backed negotiations have become bogged down in Geneva.

Russia is a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whereas, as Putin adviser Yuri Ushakov said before the visit, France “is among the countries with a very severe stance towards (Assad’s) regime”.

Coming so soon after an election in which the Kremlin was widely seen as backing Macron’s far-right rival Marine Le Pen — with Putin hosting her during a surprise visit to Moscow — the encounter in Versailles will have an added personal edge.

Moscow has also been blamed for a raft of cyberattacks on Macron’s election campaign, with aides accusing the Kremlin of mounting a “smear campaign” against him.

Putin was quick to congratulate Macron on his election, urging him to “overcome mutual distrust” and “join forces to ensure international stability and security”.

The visit comes seven months after Putin cancelled a trip to Paris for the opening of a Russian cathedral complex near the Eiffel Tower in a spat over Syria with Hollande, who had said Russia’s bombing of Aleppo could amount to war crimes.

In Versailles, Macron and Putin will inaugurate an exhibition marking 300 years of Franco-Russian ties since the visit of Russia’s modernising tsar Peter the Great to France in 1717.

After the talks and a joint news conference, Putin will visit the Paris Orthodox cathedral complex on his own.

Putin visits France, aims to mend ties

On a trip likely to shape Russia-France ties for years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in France for talks with newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron – the candidate he did not back in the presidential vote.

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The trip offers the Russian leader a chance to turn the page and try to establish a productive relationship with Macron as the Kremlin struggles to mend its bitter rift with the West.

Macron is the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the Group of Seven summit over the weekend, where relations with Russia were a key topic.

The Kremlin has hailed the visit as a chance for Putin and Macron to get to know each other and better understand their views on a range of disputed issues, including the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and Russia’s ties with the European Union.

During his G-7 news conference on Saturday, Macron promised to have a “demanding dialogue” with Russia, especially on Syria.

He called it a failure that European nations were not involved in the talks over Syria’s future but were being hit by its effects, including the huge number of Syrian refugees trying to get to Europe.

“We must talk to Russia to change the framework for getting out of the military crisis in Syria and to build a much more collective and integrated inclusive political solution,” Macron declared.

Macron’s invitation for Putin was a surprise after his tough stance on Russia during the French presidential campaign.

That contrasted sharply with his rivals, including far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and conservative Francois Fillon, who both backed ending Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis.

Macron’s aides also claimed Russian groups launched hacking attacks on his presidential campaign but Moscow has strongly denied all allegations of election meddling.

Putin, however, made his preferences in the French presidential election clear by hosting Le Pen at the Kremlin in March.

Putin also has frequently met with Fillon, the French prime minister from 2007-2012, and praised him as an experienced statesman.

Analysts say the visit to Paris offers Putin an opportunity to improve ties with France that had steadily deteriorated in the closing months of Socialist Francois Hollande’s presidency.

In October, Putin abruptly shelved a trip to Paris after Hollande alleged Russia could face war crime charges for its actions in Syria.

Hollande also refused to take part in the opening of the newly built Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center in Paris and was only interested in talking with Russia about Syria.

As part of his trip Monday, Putin is to visit the center near the Seine River that includes the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The site was sold to Russia under former President Nicolas Sarkozy amid criticism from rights groups.

Prior to that, Putin and Macron are to talk at Versailles and then tour an exhibition there marking the 300th anniversary of Russian Czar Peter the Great’s trip to Paris that was prepared by St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.

With Peter the Great widely seen as a ruler who modernized Russia and sought to open it up to the West, the exhibition offers a symbolic backdrop for both to talk about the importance of Russia-France ties.

Report warns of heart failure epidemic

The health system faces a tsunami of heart failure patients unless dramatic measures are taken to ensure Australians become healthier, a leading cardiac researcher warns.

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New modelling predicts there will be a 30 per cent increase in the number of Australians affected by heart failure by 2025.

Research fellow Professor Simon Stewart, director of the Mary MacKillop Institute of Health Research and director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence to Reduce Inequality in Heart Disease, led the research and says this is a conservative estimate.

“The scary part for us is that this is just modelling based on the ageing of the Australian population and the growth of the Australian population,” Prof Stewart said

It does not take into account any other heart failure risk factors like obesity and diabetes.

“Baby boomers who have entered old age now with these risk factors and untreated hypertension, which is another big thing, that is going to fuel this future epidemic of heart failure unfortunately,” he said.

In recognition of the growing need for treatment, a new drug known as Entresto will be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from June 1.

But Prof Stewart warns the drug on its own is not enough to tackle this silent epidemic.

“This is certainly a welcome addition to the armoury of treatments we have and it will benefit many with heart failure but not all.

“We have to work on prevention, early detection and management is better than relying on these types of drugs to prolong someone’s life,” he said.

The new research, which was funded by pharmaceutical company Novartis, shows 511,000 Australians currently live with heart failure and each year 67,000 new cases are diagnosed, costing the healthcare system more than $5 billion a year.

Heart failure is when the muscles of the heart have been damaged in some way so that it either does not pump properly or it can’t relax properly to take in enough blood to supply around the body.

A heart attack, chronic high blood pressure and infection can all cause heart failure and shortness of breath is the main expression of the condition.

Prof Stewart likens heart failure – the “Cinderella of cardiovascular disease” – to a car engine that has worn out.

“It’s leaking in different spots and it’s not as efficient as it use to be and that does have a dramatic effect on a person’s quality of life and on longevity,” he said.

It’s time, Prof Stewart says, that governments regard heart failure as a serious issue because it’s the most common cause of premature death, more so than cancer.

“The figures tells us very clearly heart disease is not being given enough attention and heart failure being the Cinderella is bottom of the list,” he said.

He’d also like to see people look after their hearts better.

“We all die at some point but please don’t be the ones to die of heart failure – it’s a horrible thing to die from,” he said.

Black Lung will leave long shadow: Miller

Thousands of Queensland miners may be diagnosed with Black Lung in the coming years as the system catches up with decades of inaction on the issue.

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That’s the belief of Queensland Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller, who was the chair of the committee tasked with investigating the re-emergence of what was believed to be an eradicated disease.

The Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee handed down its report on Monday, making 68 recommendations, including the establishment of an independent authority to oversee safety in the sector in future.

But Ms Miller said with 30 years’ worth of under-reporting and misdiagnosis, there will be many affected workers identified in the months and years ahead.

“There’s a long latency period before people are disagnosed with Black Lung, so it could be 10, 15, 20 years or it could be two years,” she told AAP.

“We’ve got 21 miners who’ve been diagnosed with Black Lung, but we’re expecting there could be hundreds, if not thousands, diagnosed in the future.”

The inquiry’s work isn’t done, with the committee given extended terms of reference to investigate possible health effects on other workers, in particular those on Brisbane’s numerous tunnel projects who could be at risk of silicosis, a condition similar to Black Lung.

A second report into those expanded terms of reference is due on September 29.

Headed by Ms Miller and former LNP leader Lawrence Springborg, the committee was granted sweeping powers to draft its own legislation on issues surrounding Black Lung, with reforms expected to be introduced to state parliament in August.

South Africa seamers wreak havoc to secure consolation win

South Africa won by seven wickets but lost the series after defeat in the first two games as both countries prepared for the start of the Champions Trophy this week.

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Rabada and Parnell decimated the English top order in the opening five overs and rendered the contest effectively over with England teetering at 20 for six. It was the first time six wickets had been taken inside the opening five overs of an ODI.

England, who rested Ben Stokes and made four other changes after Saturday’s narrow victory in Southampton, were eventually dismissed for 153 after 31 overs to which the South Africans replied with 156 for three.

Hashim Amla scored 55 before being bowled by debutant Toby Roland-Jones and Quinton de Kock (34) fell in the next over to Jake Ball.

But JP Duminy (28 not out) and AB de Villiers (27 not out) saw their side through to victory with 20.1 overs to spare.

South Africa’s bowlers used the seamer-friendly conditions to maximum effect as England’s batsmen fell like skittles, the first six wickets all coming from pitched-up deliveries.

Rabada had out of form Jason Roy caught in the slips by Amla in the opening over and Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler followed in quick succession to catches.

Jonny Bairstow’s 51 saved England from the possibility of a worst ever ODI score. He struck eight fours off 67 deliveries, putting on 62 for the seventh wicket with David Willey and a further 52 with Roland-Jones, who was 37 not out at the end of the innings.

Bairstow was stumped off spinner Kershav Maharaj and England still had just under 19 overs to bat when Steven Finn chipped the ball to midwicket and was the last man out.

Hosts England get the Champions Trophy underway against Bangladesh at The Oval on Thursday while South Africa play Sri Lanka at the same venue on Saturday.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson, editing by Ed Osmond)

Qld teammates called 40 mark early: Smith

The milestone always seemed inconceivable to Cameron Smith.

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But the Queensland captain has revealed some Maroons teammates predicted he would be the first to play 40 State of Origins after just a handful of games.

Smith will make history when he runs out in Wednesday night’s Origin series opener at Suncorp Stadium.

The Maroons hooker never thought the 40 game barrier would be broken, however, he revealed some Queensland teammates called it early.

“I may have played half a dozen games and I remember guys like Petero Civoniceva and Steve Price saying ‘mate you will be the first to play 40 Origins’,” Smith said.

“And I just laughed, shook my head and said ‘no one will ever do that’.

“It’s a really nice achievement to have.”

Not that Smith can truly savour the record on Wednesday night.

“When you are still playing it is hard to sit back and say ‘wow I am about to play 40 games’,” Smith said.

“My mind is thinking about what I need to do to get ready for this game.

“I am not sitting back patting myself on the back.

“But I do understand it is a fairly significant milestone.”

Despite starting his Origin career 14 years ago and being captain since 2008, Smith admitted he would be nervous ahead of the historic game.

“Part of the benefit of the experience of all the games I have is you learn to enjoy the week rather than stress about it,” he said.

“But on game day you get a few butterflies in the belly.

“When I am getting on to the bus on the way to the game, you see all the cars outside, everyone is going mad, that’s when I get a little bit nervous.”

Smith said it wasn’t just the milestone that had him excited about Origin I.

Smith will lead a new look Maroons missing more than 100 Origin games’ worth of experience against a Blues side who have become surprise bookies’ favourites.

Queensland – winner of 10 of the past 11 Origin series – will blood debutants Anthony Milford and Dylan Napa.

“I am really looking forward to this one,” Smith said.

“There is a lot of talk about the outcome of the match and different lineup for our side but I think that has created a lot of interest around the game.

“I think we are in for a pretty special game I reckon.”

Saker can be key to Aust cricket success

John Hastings believes Australia’s bowling coach David Saker’s knowledge of English conditions can be crucial to any potential success in the Champions Trophy.

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Saker worked with England for six years and is credited with transforming Jimmy Anderson from an inconsistent medium-pacer into one of the world’s finest exponents of swing bowling.

He also played a huge role in the development of Stuart Broad before returning home to Melbourne take up a job with Victoria in 2015 and then joining Darren Lehmann’s backroom team last year.

With Australia blessed with their most exciting crop of pace bowlers for years, Hastings said the role of Saker in honing that talent can be a huge advantage in a country where success has been thin on the ground for over a decade.

“Sakes is brilliant,” Hastings said.

“He’s the first to come and tell you what you are doing wrong but also when you are going well.

“There’s also his knowledge of English conditions, and I keep harping on about conditions, but it is really important over here.

“Some days it can be … swinging around, some days the sun can be out and It’s flat and it doesn’t do anything.

“You have to know what to expect and he has been a big part of that.”

Hasting has done well in England during spells with county sides Durham and Worcester but admitted he wasn’t entirely confident of being selected for the Champions Trophy squad.

The 31-year-old was furious at his omission for the New Zealand one-day series last December, despite being the world’s leading one-day wicket-taker in the calendar year.

A fractured kneecap then ended his season and he admitted he thought he might have run his race as an international player.

“Missing out on that New Zealand series was tough to take, no doubt,” he said.

“Then I got injured and missed the rest of the summer. So I was in a pretty flat spot at times during the Big Bash.

“The early diagnosis for my injury was quite bad and I thought that could have been it, no doubt.

“But once they got in there and had a look, it wasn’t so bad.

“Nine to 10 months came down to about four months so that Champions Trophy was well in my mind and I was glad to get through it.”

Disease threatens Sri Lanka flood victims

Thousands of survivors of devastating floods and landslides in Sri Lanka are at risk of potentially fatal diseases such as dengue fever, charities warn as the death toll from the disaster continues to rise.

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Torrential rains over the last four days have sparked widespread flooding and triggered landslides in southwestern parts of the Indian Ocean island.

At least 177 people have died and almost half a million others have had their lives disrupted.

As search and rescue teams look for more than 100 people who remain missing, and Sri Lanka’s military in boats and helicopters struggle to reach marooned villagers with food and clean water, charities are warning of a looming health threat.

“The threat of water-borne diseases is a big concern with over 100,000 people displaced from their homes, many of whom are staying in damp, crowded conditions,” Chris McIvor, head of Save the Children Sri Lanka, said.

“I’m particularly worried we could start seeing even more dengue cases because of the floods, as stagnant water provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. It’s the last thing needed by communities that have already lost so much.”

Outbreaks of diseases such as dengue fever and cholera, and illnesses like diarrhoea and dysentery, are often a threat in the aftermath of floods due to water-logging, say experts.

Dengue is common in South Asia, especially during the monsoon season which runs from June to September, and if untreated, it can kill.

Sri Lanka’s ministry of disaster management says almost 558,000 people from 15 of the country’s 25 districts have been hit by the disaster. Villages and towns have been inundated, thousands of homes damaged and agriculture land swamped.

Around 75,000 people in the worst-affected districts have been relocated to temporary shelters.

The Sri Lanka authorities have called for international assistance to help with search and rescue efforts, and have also appealed for aid ranging from boats, generators and mobile toilets to mosquito nets, clothes and clean drinking water.

But aid workers say reaching survivors remains a challenge. Entire communities remain marooned, living out in the open as their homes have been destroyed, with roads submerged under water or blocked by landslides.

“Getting in to these communities is of the highest priority right now so we can find out exactly what the needs are and respond,” said McIvor.

“At the same time more rains are predicted since we are only at the start of the south west monsoon season, so the situation could worsen even more over the coming days and weeks.”

Trudeau invites Pope to indigenous apology

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Pope Francis to visit Canada to apologise to indigenous peoples for the Catholic Church’s treatment of aboriginal children in schools it ran there.

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Starting in the late 19th century, about 30 per cent of children of Canada’s native peoples, or about 150,000 children, were placed in what were known as “residential schools” in a government attempt to strip them of their traditional cultures and ancestral languages.

For over a century, the schools were government-funded but many were administered by Christian Churches, the majority by Roman Catholics.

“I told him how important it is for Canadians to move forward on real reconciliation with the indigenous peoples and I highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology,” Trudeau told reporters after meeting the Pope on Monday.

He said he had invited the Argentine-born pontiff to make the apology in Canada.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a 2015 report that the practice, which kept children from the First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples far from their parents, amounted to “cultural genocide”.

Many children were physically and sexually abused.

The commission made 94 recommendations, including that the Pope issue a formal apology in Canada to survivors and their descendents for the Church’s “role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse” of the children.

Trudeau said that in their private talks, the Pope “reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalised people in the world, fighting for them, and that he looks forward to working with me and with the Canadian bishops to figure out a path forward together”.

Canadian bishops have said the Pope might visit next year.

Trudeau said he and the Pope also discussed climate change. Unlike US President Donald Trump, who met the Pope last week, Trudeau and Francis agree that climate change is caused by human activity.

“We talked about how important it is to highlight the scientific basis of protecting our planet and the moral and ethical obligations to lead, to build a better future for all people on this earth,” Trudeau said.

At last week’s Group of Seven (G7) summit in Sicily, Trump refused to back a landmark international agreement reached in Paris in 2015 to reduce global warming.

Trump said he would decide this week on whether to pull out of the accord, which was backed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Trudeau, who is Catholic, said he had “a deeply personal and wide-ranging, thoughtful conversation with the leader of my own faith”.

Macron, Putin hold ‘frank’ talks on Syria, Ukraine

France’s President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday vowed to improve the strained relations between their countries, while admitting to disagreements during talks at Versailles palace described by Macron as “extremely frank”.

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Their first meeting since Macron took office provided another test of the Frenchman’s diplomatic skills after his memorable first encounter last week with US President Donald Trump that Macron sealed with a vice-like handshake.

This time the handshake was warmer but the tone guarded after an hour of talks on the 300th anniversary of a visit to Versailles by tsar Peter the Great.

Putin admitted to some differences of opinion in the talks which covered issues including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, but insisted that Franco-Russian ties withstood “all points of friction”.

“We disagree on a number of things but at least we discussed them,” Macron said.

“Our absolute priority is the fight against terrorism and the eradication of terrorist groups and Daesh in particular,” he said, using an alternate name for the Islamic State group that has claimed several deadly attacks in France.

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The newly elected French leader called for a stronger partnership with Russia on Syria, one of the sticking points in relations between the West and Moscow which backs the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Macron advocated “a democratic transition that preserves the Syrian state”, warning that “failed states” in the Middle East were a threat to the West.

But in an apparent warning to Assad and Russia, he said the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a “red line” for his presidency and would draw an “immediate response” from France.

The pair discussed the Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its military involvement in Ukraine as well as allegations of Russian meddling in France’s election campaign.

Putin declared that the sanctions were “in no way” helping to end the fighting between government forces and Kremlin-backed rebels in Ukraine’s east.

The Russian strongman, who hosted Macron’s far-right rival Marine Le Pen for talks during the election race, also shrugged off allegations that Russian hackers infiltrated Macron’s campaign.

“Maybe they were Russian hackers, maybe they were not,” he said, dismissing the claims as unsubstantiated.

Macron, for his part, expressed anger at reports by pro-Kremlin media during the election questioning his sexuality and links to high finance.

He took aim at the Russia Today broadcaster and Sputnik agency, calling them “organs of influence and propaganda”.

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‘No concessions’

Putin’s visit comes after the 39-year-old French centrist made a successful debut on the world stage last week, holding his own against Trump at a NATO summit in Brussels and at a G7 summit in Italy.

Ahead of the visit, Macron told a French weekly that he was not “bothered” by leaders who “think in terms of power dynamics”.

He said he would make “not a single concession” to Russia on the long-running conflict in Ukraine, with he and his G7 counterparts saying they were prepared to strengthen sanctions against Moscow.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine in 2014, Russia has flexed its muscles with a series of war games involving tens of thousands of troops in areas bordering NATO Baltic states.

Macron said he, Putin and the leaders of Germany and Ukraine would meet soon for talks, “which will allow us to make a complete evaluation of the situation”.

Modernising tsar

Western powers charge Russia with failing to honour its commitments under the Minsk accords framework for ending the violence in Ukraine.

France helped spearhead the sanctions, which have seriously dented EU-Russia trade. 

Putin moved quickly after the French election to try to smooth things over, congratulating Macron and urging him to work to overcome their countries’ “mutual distrust”.

Monday’s visit comes seven months after Putin cancelled a trip to Paris amid a row over Syria with Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande, who had said Russia’s bombing of Aleppo could amount to war crimes.

In Versailles, he and Macron inaugurated an exhibition marking the visit of Russia’s modernising tsar Peter the Great to France in 1717.

The fervently pro-Europe Macron said his invitation to Putin aimed to showcase “a Russia which is open to Europe”.

Putin was also later to visit a new Orthodox cathedral complex in central Paris.

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