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.

Great white shark jumps into NSW fisherman’s boat

Rescuers who rushed to help a NSW fisherman after a shark jumped into his boat say the 2.


7-metre great white was “thrashing around and destroying everything in sight” when they arrived at the scene.

Fisherman Terry Selwood, 73, was fishing off Evans Head on the NSW north coast on Saturday when the 200-kilogram shark suddenly leapt aboard his 4.5-metre boat.

“He came right over the top of the motor and then dropped onto the floor,” Mr Selwood told ABC television on Monday.

“I looked over and I thought ‘oh, a bloody shark! Well I’ll be buggered!'”

Mr Selwood was knocked over and left sprawling on the floor of the boat. His arm was deeply lacerated.

Rescuers rushed to help a NSW fisherman after a great white shark jumped into his boat. (AAP)Genevieve Francis

“There I was on all fours and he’s looking at me and I’m looking at him and then he started to do the dance around and shake and I couldn’t get out quick enough onto the gunwale,” Mr Selwood said.

“I was losing a fair amount of blood, I was stunned, I couldn’t register what happened and then I thought ‘oh my God I’ve got to get out of here’.”

Evans Head Marine Rescue skipper Bill Bates and his crew responded to his radio call.

“It was a bit of an adrenaline rush, we had to get there at top speed because we didn’t know the extent of his injuries,” Mr Bates told AAP.

“He was standing on the gunwale, covered in blood. We got alongside, got him on board and began treating him for trauma and shock.”

Mr Bates said the shark occupied the whole boat.

“It was thrashing around, destroying everything in sight,” he said.

The rescue squad left the anchored boat and shark to take Mr Selwood back to shore and hand him over to paramedics before returning to retrieve the boat and shark.

Among a crowd of onlookers at the harbour, Genevieve Francis saw the boat come back in.

“It was the tiniest little boat, with blood all over it,” Ms Francis told AAP.

“I looked inside and, holy crap, I was stunned. I didn’t know if (the shark) was still alive.

“It still had Terry’s seat in its mouth. It was just massive. It stunk as well.”

The shark was so big it had to removed from the boat with a forklift the following day.

Mr Selwood said there was no way his 30-pound hand line could have pulled the animal into his boat.

After fishing for close to 60 years he’s stumped for a reason why the shark would breach.

“I didn’t have a burly out, which does attract sharks,” he told the ABC.

“I was using two little bits of blue pilchard to fish for snapper on the bottom of the ocean, but that line was straight under the boat, not out the back where he came from.”

Mr Selwood was discharged from hospital on the weekend.

The Department of Primary Industries confirmed the shark was a great white and took the specimen for an autopsy to confirm its age and gender.

Vladimir Putin is a greater threat than IS, says John McCain

In an interview with ABC’s 7.


30 during a visit to Australia, US Republican Senator John McCain said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was a greater threat than IS and more sanctions should be imposed upon the Kremlin.

“He is the premier and most important threat, more so than ISIS,” the former US presidential candidate and former prisoner of war said.

“ISIS can do terrible things, and I worry a lot about what is happening to the Muslim faith… but it is the Russians who are trying, who tried to destroy the very fundamental of democracy and that is to change the outcome of an American election.


“We need to have increased sanctions and hopefully when we come back from our recess the Senate will move forward with sanctions on Russia and enact other penalties for Russian behaviour.”  

Mr McCain criticised US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a top White House advisor, over reports he sought a secret communications channel with Russia, describing the situation as “more and more and more bizarre”.

“In fact, you can’t make it up,” he said

“I don’t like it… I know some administration officials are saying it is standard procedure.

“I don’t think it is standard procedure prior to the inauguration of a president of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position.”

Kushner ‘wanted secret, direct line’ to Russia

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On North Korea’s missiles

Mr McCain said China was “key” to diffusing the nuclear threat North Korea poses. Earlier on Monday, North Korea fired another ballistic missile, which landed in Japan’s economic zone.

He said he didn’t think it was “acceptable” to aim a missile at Australia with a nuclear weapon on it “and depend on our ability to counter it with an anti-missile capability”.

But he said China could “restrain North Korean behaviour”.

“Because the Chinese control basically the North Korean economy.

“This is an impending crisis and it requires all of us working together to diffuse this crisis and make sure… that North Korea is never in a position where they can threaten the United States of America or Australia or any of our allies with a nuclear weapon.”

Japan condemns North Korea over missile

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RELATEDAngela Merkel: Europe can no longer rely on Britain, US

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Key Crow wants to embrace AFL hype

Adelaide forward Josh Jenkins has implored his teammates to “live in the real world” and embrace the hype of Friday night’s AFL blockbuster against Geelong.


Jenkins says the fixture between his ladder-leading Crows and the third-placed Cats should be hyped to the hilt.

“Just live in the real world – it’s going to be a big game so lets embrace it, there’s no point shying away from the fact,” Jenkins told reporters on Monday.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s exciting. You would rather be playing first v third on Friday night than 17th v 18th on Sunday night.”

Jenkins conceded his attitude differed from most AFL players who try to publicly downplay the magnitude of important games.

“I hope we build this game up a fair bit. I’m really keen to get down there and get stuck into those guys,” he said of the trip to Geelong, where the Crows haven’t won since 2003.

“They play that ground extremely well and we have had indifferent form down there – it’s time for us to go down there and play a really good game and show that we’re a real contender.

“We have obviously shown our best football is as good as anyones.

“But to go down on someone else’s home ground, another contender, and win, would be a great statement.

“Athletes, competitors, enjoy when games are built up and games are huge.”

Jenkins even went as far as hoping key Crow midfielder Rory Sloane was pitted against his great mate, ex-Adelaide and current Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield.

“We all would love that,” Jenkins said.

“Those two boys would love nothing more than to butt heads for four quarters.”

Lindt siege families want more from police

As Tori Johnson knelt crying in front of an armed Man Haron Monis, he “deserved to have hope” that someone would save him, his mother says.


Monis had just fired a shot after several of his hostages fled Sydney’s Lindt Cafe, and police saw that Mr Johnson had been placed on his knees.

“He was alive and he deserved, he deserved to have hope that … someone was gonna come in and save him,” his mother Rosie Connellan told ABC’s TV’s Four Corners program on Monday.

“I just can’t imagine how he felt in that time and I wish I’d been there with him.”

The 34-year-old had been shot dead by the time police entered the cafe in the early hours of December 16, 2014, and 38-year-old barrister Katrina Dawson was fatally wounded by police bullet fragments.

NSW Coroner Michael Barnes last week handed down his findings into the siege by Monis, who was also killed at the end of the 17-hour ordeal, concluding that police acted too late.

Mr Johnson and Ms Dawson’s families have mostly supported the coroner’s findings but are still angry some in police leadership refused to concede mistakes during the inquest.

The families have previously criticised the siege response in submissions to the inquiry, with Ms Dawson’s family saying police confidence in the contain and negotiate strategy was misplaced, and they relied too heavily on a psychiatrist who “grossly underestimated” Monis’ capacity for violence.

On Four Corners, Mr Johnson’s partner Thomas Zinn said he questioned whether two senior commanders in charge at the end of the siege should remain in their current roles.

Both families welcomed NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller’s admission that he thought police should have launched a pre-emptive rescue earlier in the day.

Ms Connellan said Mr Fuller’s statement gave her hope.

“It’s amazing isn’t it? That just that little acknowledgement from Fuller that they should have gone in, to me has been probably the most hopeful,” she said.

However, an earlier Commonwealth submission to the inquest said that sometimes not even the death of a hostage would prompt action by police.

“If, for example, the circumstances indicate both that a second death is not imminent (there may be credible information that hostages are to be killed once an hour) and that an emergency action would be highly likely to cause multiple deaths (there may be credible information that a bomb is present and will be used) then it may be better to pursue other strategies,” the Commonwealth submission said.

In other circumstances an emergency action might be warranted by something less than death or serious injury, the submission said.

MI5 reviewing intel on Manchester bomber

Britain’s MI5 has begun an internal review of how it handled intelligence on Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who was reportedly known to authorities but not under active investigation.


Interior minister Amber Rudd said on Monday the review was the “right first step” for the intelligence agency to take in the wake of the May 22 bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande.

MI5 is subject to scrutiny by a committee of parliament and it is highly unusual for British authorities to make public that the security service is conducting its own investigation into possible lapses.

“The review will look at what was known about Abedi, what decisions were made about the intelligence and what, if anything, could have been done differently,” according to a source speaking on condition of anonymity with Reuters news agency.

“This is a review that would seek to answer whether there are lessons to be learned from how the Security Service handled the intelligence on Abedi.”

The source said Abedi was not among the 3000 people under active investigation by MI5, although he was one of about 20,000 known to the agency, whose focus is on countering terrorism and espionage.

The BBC said MI5 was alerted at least three times to the ‘extremist views’ of Abedi, a 22-year-old who grew up in Manchester in a family of immigrants from Libya. It was not possible to confirm that report.

“This is an ongoing investigation so I’m not going to be drawn into comments on the actual man who committed this crime,” Rudd told BBC television, declining to say what was known about Abedi and when.

Last week’s attack, the deadliest in Britain since 2005, was claimed by Islamic State. It drew particular revulsion because of the targeting of children – the youngest victim was just eight and nine of the others were teenagers.

Earlier on Monday, police made a 16th arrest as part of the case.

Britons head to the polls on June 8 to elect a new government, with security and police cuts having risen to the top of the political agenda since the bombing last Monday.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives have seen their poll lead cut in the wake of the attack and after a U-turn over their social care plans for the elderly.

Surveys suggest May – who as a former interior minister oversaw the police and domestic intelligence agency – might not win the landslide predicted just a month ago.

It was not clear whether the authorities became aware of Abedi during May’s tenure as interior minister between 2010 and 2016.

Stop the catfight over education: MP

An independent MP has blasted both sides of politics for the “catfight” over school funding, lamenting the impact it will have on Australian children.


Andrew Wilkie told parliament on Monday that David Gonski’s plan for education reform had become a political plaything for Labor and the coalition.

Neither had offered up anything close to the $5 billion a year extra Gonski believed was needed to lift the national standard – now $6.5 billion with inflation.

“This place is letting our kids down and I’m appalled,” Mr Wilkie said.

The Tasmanian scolded MPs from the major parties for the “sanctimonious claptrap” during debate on the legislation, which passed the lower house after some squabble on Monday night.

“It’s disingenuous for both the government and the opposition to come in here and be so sanctimonious and have this catfight about who’s delivering the real Gonski,” he said.

“Frankly, no one is delivering the real Gonski.”

Mr Wilkie argued that if Australia could afford to double its submarine fleet, it could afford to better fund education.

“The community want the politics taken out of this.”

Fellow crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie echoed Mr Wilkie’s sentiments, saying debate on the issue had been full of half-truths.

“There’s been so much spin on this matter that it’s enough to make the most seasoned follower of politics giddy,” the Nick Xenophon Team MP said.

Ms Sharkie, however, believes the Turnbull government’s plan is a step in the right direction.

She voted in favour of the draft laws but indicated her party colleagues will await more details from a Senate inquiry before finalising their stance.

It remains to be seen whether the government will have the numbers to get the proposal through parliament, with the Greens also not firm on a position.

Party leader Richard Di Natale said the legislation, as it stands, has far too many problems and was not supported by Greens MP Adam Bant in the lower house.

Asked whether he was open to negotiation in the Senate, he told Sky News on Monday: “Unless you … take this back to the original Gonski funding formula we can’t support it.”

Labor argues the funding model represents a $22 billion cut, while the government claims it’s a $18.6 billion increase over 10 years.

“This is real funding, not those fantasy figures that have been bandied around by the other side,” junior minister Michael Sukkar told parliament.

Port’s Dixon moves on from AFL brain-fade

Port Adelaide forward Charlie Dixon has rapidly rebounded from his costly AFL brain-fade, teammate Brad Ebert says.


Dixon took longer than the prescribed 30 seconds to take a shot at goal when Port held a three-point lead against Geelong last Thursday night.

Dixon was called to play on, Port bumbled the scoring chance and Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield soon kicked the match-winning goal.

Dixon’s was roundly criticised for his lack of awareness but teammate Ebert said the Power attacker had moved on from his error.

“He has been good. He rebounded really well,” Ebert told reporters on Monday.

“He was obviously really disappointed straight afterwards. And since then he has been able to put it in the past and move on.

“He was disappointed about it but there’s nothing you can do about it now.”

Ebert, who plays his 200th AFL game against Hawthorn on Thursday night, said it was the first time had seen such an incident.

“To happen at that time was interesting,” he said.

“But the rule is there and it’s in place and I guess Charlie will speed up next time.”

Ebert said there was also some onus on Dixon’s teammates to offer help.

“As the guy who takes the mark and is going back for the shot, you do get focused and you probably go into your routine which you feel is a set amount of time,” he said.

“So the other guys around probably could have been a bit more aware.”

Port’s narrow loss in Geelong was the club’s fourth defeat of the season, all against likely finalists – Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney, West Coast and the Cats.

But Ebert said the eighth-placed Power (five wins, four losses) were in contention in all those games, offering heart the club wasn’t far off the finals pace.

“We as a team are trying to grow and build across the season and so far our losses have been disappointing but we are showing improvement,” he said.

“We really just need to make sure that we can take that to the next step.”

Price and Pearce bury the hatchet

NSW legend Ray Price has buried the hatchet with playmaker Mitchell Pearce after a chance meeting in Blues camp during the week.


Captain Boyd Cordner has revealed how there were a few awkward moments when he and other members of the Blues staff were having lunch with the Parramatta great when Pearce walked in.

Before coach Laurie Daley recalled Pearce as NSW halfback, Price savaged the Sydney Roosters’ No.7 during an interview in which he said he had worn out his welcome in the sky blue jersey.

However Cordner said there was no lingering tension and Roosters teammate Pearce had moved on.

“It was a bit funny, we were at lunch and Pearcey walked in,” Cordner said.

“He said hello and Ray goes ‘I’m not here to pester you’. It was funny.”

Cordner said there was no ill feeling between Price and Pearce or his NSW teammates.

“That’s his opinion and he’s one of the greats of the game, so he’s entitled to say that,” Cordner said.

“I don’t know if Pearcey took it with a grain of salt but he’s professional and he’s confident in his form and ability at the moment and that he deserves to be here.”

Pearce has a forgettable record of four wins from 15 Origin games for NSW and has failed to win a series in his six attempts.

The 28-year-old has looked like a new player this year and is thriving under the tutelage of NSW great and Roosters adviser Andrew Johns.

Cordner said there had been a noticeable change in Pearce’s game, particularly in the big moments which included kicking a field-goal in golden point to beat St George Illawarra on Anzac Day.

“I know how much respect Pearcey has for Joey after seeing their relationship and them working together,” Cordner said.

“Pearcey has always been a great player but there’s been things that are missing for him to take that next step.

“I think he’s learnt that and that’s got a lot to do with him working closely with Joey.”

Japan condemns North Korea’s ‘continued provocations’ after missile

It was the North’s third ballistic missile test in as many weeks and the 12th this year – carried out in defiance of UN sanctions warnings and US threats of possible military action.


US military monitors said the short-range missile flew for six minutes, while Japan said it fell into its exclusive economic zone, extending 200 nautical miles from the coast.

The launch went ahead despite tough talk from US President Donald Trump, who promised last week at the G7 summit that the “big problem” of North Korea “will be solved”.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe swiftly condemned the test and vowed concerted action with its US ally.

“We will never tolerate North Korea’s continued provocations that ignore repeated warnings by the international community,” Abe told reporters.

“As agreed during the G7 summit, the North Korean problem is the international community’s top priority. In order to deter North Korea, we will take concrete action with the United States.”

The North has been stepping up efforts towards its ultimate goal — developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental US.

Monday’s test also marked the second time this year that a North Korean missile fell provocatively close to its neighbour Japan. South Korea’s military said the Scud-type missile travelled for 450 km (280 miles).

Trump says North Korea shows “great disrespect” to China with missile

US President Donald Trump said North Korea showed disrespect to its major ally China after it fired a short-range ballistic missile on Monday that landed in the sea off its east coast.

“North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile … but China is trying hard!” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

Conflict ‘catastrophic’ 

Despite Trump’s strident warnings, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in an interview which aired Sunday before the launch that a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic”.

“The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, which is the capital of South Korea,” he told CBS News.

“This regime is a threat to the region, to Japan, to South Korea. And in the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russia as well.

“But the bottom line is, it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat, if we’re not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means.”

Bishop condemns North Korea’s missile testing

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Mattis declined to say what kind of action from Pyongyang would constitute a “red line” for Washington, saying the administration needs “political manoeuvre room.”

The latest launch demonstrates the North’s determination to secure more leverage in any future negotiations with the US, said Cho Han-Bum, analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

“The North, despite its series of provocations, has not crossed the ultimate red line, which would be staging another nuclear test or a successful ICBM test,” Cho said.

“Today’s launch is the North’s way of saying to the world, ‘It wouldn’t be easy to make us suspend our weapons programmes even if you manage to pressure me into negotiations’,” he said.

Related reading’Direct challenge’ 

South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-In ordered a meeting of the national security council to assess the launch, which came a day after North Korea said its leader Kim Jong-Un had overseen a test of a new anti-aircraft weapons system.

The South condemned the missile test as a “grave threat” and a challenge to Moon, who advocates dialogue with the North in a break from his conservative predecessors.

“That the North repeated such provocations after the inauguration of our new leadership… is a direct challenge to our demand for peace and denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” the foreign ministry said.

The missile launches, and Pyongyang’s threat to stage its sixth nuclear test, have prompted calls for tougher UN sanctions and a warning from Trump that military intervention was an option under consideration.

Following North Korea’s test-firing earlier this month of what analysts said was its longest-range rocket yet, the UN Security Council vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang.

But China, the North’s main trade partner and ally, has made it clear that the push for talks – and not more sanctions – is the priority.

The US has said it is willing to enter into talks with North Korea, but only if it halts its missile and nuclear tests.

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Kelly defends plan for Russia back channel

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is defending an alleged effort by top White House adviser Jared Kushner to create back-channel communications with Russia, as the Trump administration seeks to quell mounting questions over secret ties to the Kremlin.


Speaking on Sunday’s news shows, Kelly said he didn’t know whether the reports by The Associated Press and other news outlets involving Kushner, who is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, were true.

But Kelly said such back-channel communications don’t bother him and would not be harmful to US security interests.

“It’s both normal, in my opinion, and acceptable,” Kelly said.

“Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organisations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing.”

Congressional Democrats demanded to hear directly from Kushner over allegations of the proposed secret back-channel, saying his security clearance may need to be revoked.

But Trump immediately railed against administration leaks in a flurry of tweets Sunday, calling them “fabricated lies”.

Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said it was “obviously very concerning” if a key Trump campaign figure was possibly seeking secret communications during the transition period with a country that intelligence experts say intervened in the 2016 US presidential election.

Schiff said the government needed to “get to the bottom” of the matter and urged a review of Kushner’s security clearance “to find out whether he was truthful”.

“If not, then there’s no way he can maintain that kind of a clearance,” Schiff said.

The AP and other news organizations reported that Kushner in December proposed a back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team.

Kushner spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about facilitating sensitive discussions to explore the incoming administration’s options with Russia as it developed its Syria policy.

The intent was to connect Trump’s chief national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, with Russian military leaders, a person familiar with the discussions told the AP.

The person wasn’t authorised to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and insisted on anonymity.

Russia, a pivotal player in Syria, has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad, often at the expense of civilians and at odds with US policy during Syria’s long civil war.

The White House did not acknowledge the meeting or Kushner’s attendance until March. At the time, a White House official dismissed it as a brief courtesy meeting.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, described the latest allegations involving Kushner as “serious” and called for a thorough investigation.

“He needs to answer for what was happening at the time,” Booker said.

“What’s worrying me are the patterns we’re seeing. So one is this administration not talking about our values, cosying up to authoritarian leaders. And the other pattern we have is just a continuous drumbeat of inappropriate contacts with the Russians.”

Lawyers for Kushner said he was willing to talk with federal and congressional investigators about his foreign contacts and his work on the Trump campaign.

The disclosure of the back channel has put the White House on the defensive. Just back from visiting the Middle East and Europe, Trump on Sunday dismissed recent reports as “fake news.”