May, White House deny reports Trump’s UK visit delayed

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office says there has been no change to plans for US President Donald Trump’s to come to Britain on a state visit, after the Guardian newspaper reported the trip had been postponed.

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The paper, citing an unidentified adviser at May’s Downing Street office who was in the room at the time, reported Trump had told May by telephone in recent weeks that he did not want to come if there were likely to be large-scale protests.

“We aren’t going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations,” a spokeswoman for May’s office said. “The queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those plans.”

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The White House also denied the Guardian report, with an administration official telling Reuters, “The subject never came up on the call.”

No date has been set for the visit, which was agreed during May’s visit to Washington in January, but British media had reported it was planned for October.

May’s hold on power has been significantly weakened since the results of a snap election last week cost her Conservative Party a parliamentary majority. In a bid to save her position, May has been trying to form a government with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, a small faction of social conservatives.

British politics is going through an upheaval just a week before talks begin on Britain’s exit from the European Union, set for 2019.

Trump’s public criticism this month of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s response to an attack by Islamist militants in London was condemned in Britain. May found herself forced to defend Khan, who is from the opposition Labour party.

At that time, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said there was no reason to cancel the visit, while White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that Trump intended to go and that “he appreciates Her Majesty’s gracious invitation”.

May forms government

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Embattled May unveils Britain’s new cabinet

May made Damian Green, former work and pensions secretary, her deputy by naming him first secretary of state.

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Treasury chief secretary David Gauke moves in to take Green’s place, while the leader of the House of Commons, David Lidington, becomes justice secretary.

Lidington’s move sees him replace Liz Truss, who has faced criticism in the justice role and has been moved by May to Gauke’s former post as treasury chief secretary. 

WATCH: Ministers arrive for Cabinet reshuffle

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The minor reshuffle has been seen as a reflection of May’s weak position after she called a snap election, only to lose seats in Thursday’s vote in a dramatic change of fortunes. 

In announcing the remainder of her cabinet on Sunday, May kept Jeremy Hunt on as health secretary despite him being vilified for his handling of the treasured National Health Service. 

Liam Fox stays on as international trade secretary, a post created in the wake of Britain’s decision last year to leave the European Union as the country searches for new partners outside of the bloc.

Former Finance Minister says May is a ‘dead woman walking’

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Downing Street announced on Friday that there would be no reshuffle among the government’s top ministers, including Finance Minister Philip Hammond despite reports ahead of the election that he may be sacked.

Boris Johnson stays on as foreign minister, alongside fellow eurosceptic David Davis as Brexit minister.

May’s replacement last year as interior minister, Amber Rudd, keeps her post, as does Defence Minister Michael Fallon.

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‘I’m not going to be deterred’: London attack survivor Candice Hedge speaks out

The Queensland woman stabbed in the neck by one of the London Bridge attackers says she won’t be deterred by the cowardly terrorists.

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Candice Hedge was working at Elliot’s Cafe in Borough Market on Saturday, when suddenly people started rushing into the restaurant screaming.

Within minutes Ms Hedge saw the attackers approaching and one stood right beside her before he slashed her neck, she has told Seven’s Sunday Night program.

The 34-year-old is recovering in a London hospital and says it’s “amazing” she survived after she was told the knife went within millimetres of an artery and her vocal chord.

But, she says she determined to not let the attack keep her from her dreams, insisting she will stay in London with her boyfriend Luke and continue working at Elliot’s Cafe.

“I’m not going to be deterred, I have more to do here,” she said.

“People are cowards … I’m not going to let them change my life – well they have but I’m going to turn it to my advantage if I can.”

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Recounting the moments after she was attacked, Ms Hedge said she went to find Luke, who was also working at the restaurant, while clutching her bleeding neck with a cloth.

It was when she started vomiting blood that she thought she might not make it.

“I was thinking, I don’t want to die,” she said.

Since the attack, she’s been reunited with her father, Ross, and sister, Amber, who flew to London as soon as they heard she was injured.

The June 3 terror attack where three men launched a van and knife rampage on London Bridge killed eight people including two Australians, Kirsty Boden and Sara Zelenak.

Watch: London attackers tried to hire bigger truck

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Ex-US Attorney Bharara tells of ‘unusual’ calls he received from Trump

Speaking on ABC News’ “This Week” in his first televised interview since Trump fired him in March as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Bharara said he believed Trump’s calls to him violated the usual boundaries between the executive branch and independent criminal investigators.

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“It’s a very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation without the attorney general, without warning between the president and me or any United States attorney who has been asked to investigate various things and is in a position hypothetically to investigate business interests and associates of the president,” Bharara said.

He added that during President Barack Obama’s tenure, Obama never called him directly.

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Bharara’s comments came just a few days after former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey testified at a congressional panel that Trump had asked him to drop an investigation into former Trump aide Michael Flynn and his alleged ties to Russia.

Comey also said he believed he was subsequently fired in an effort to undermine the investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has denied allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia and said he never directed Comey to drop the Flynn probe.

A White House spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bharara said on Sunday that Trump called him twice after the November election “ostensibly just to shoot the breeze.”

“It was a little bit uncomfortable, but he was not the president. He was only the president-elect,” Bharara said.

The third call, however, came two days after Trump’s inauguration. That time, he said, he refused to call back.

“The call came in. I got a message. We deliberated over it, thought it was inappropriate to return the call. And 22 hours later I was asked to resign along with 45 other people,” he said.

Bharara stopped short of saying whether he thought Trump had obstructed justice in his conversations and subsequent firing of Comey.

However, he said he thought there was “absolutely evidence to begin a case” into the matter.

Trump claims Comey lied in testimony

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Fog slowly lifts over Sydney

Thick fog has wreaked havoc on the plans of thousands of travellers into and out of Sydney Airport, with dozens of flights cancelled, diverted or delayed.

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The heavy shroud had lifted by 9am on Monday, but not before one international flight was diverted to Brisbane and about 10 incoming and departing domestic flights were cancelled.

Jetstar, Eastern Australia Airlines and Sunstate Airlines all cancelled several flights around 8am.

More than 40 flights on the domestic arrivals board were delayed, while a handful of Qantas, Tigerair and Virgin Australia domestic departures were also left in limbo.

Some incoming flights from Abu Dhabi, Denpasar, Toronto, Los Angeles and Seoul did not arrive on time, however, international departures were largely unaffected.

Sydney Airport remains operational, but travellers are advised to check flight details with their airline.

A Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) spokesman says residents in Sydney’s west, near Richmond and Camden, should be able to see clearly by midday.

A Transport Management Centre spokesman told ABC Radio it was still “exceptionally foggy” around Sydney at 8.30am and traffic was building up around the airport as people return home from the long weekend.

“But when we’ve got a foggy morning, it’s usually an indicator that we’re going to have a great day,” he said.

“The sun will shine, the sky will be blue; it’ll be fabulous.”

The weather bureau has forecast mostly sunny conditions for Monday, with Sydney temperatures hitting 20 degrees with light winds and a slight chance of a shower in the afternoon and evening.

Pride march takes aim at Trump

Thousands of people chanting “love trumps hate” have marched through the streets of Washington in a celebration of LGBTQ pride that also carried a message aimed at the US president.

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The Equality March on Washington was one of several events scheduled to take place across the country as part of gay pride month in June.

After setting off from a park near the White House, many marchers paused to wave at secret service agents who looked on as the procession passed President Donald Trump’s residence.

He was not home, but if he had been, he would have looked out to see people carrying rainbow flags and signs demanding equality for the LGBTQ community.

The protest also marked the one-year anniversary of the deaths of 49 people in a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Lindsay Bohan, 27, from Dayton, Ohio arrived in Washington after driving all night – nearly eight hours – to take part in the march.

“I think that we have to show up on a national level in regards to affecting change and holding our leaders responsible for all the bad policies that they’re putting forward,” Bohan said.

LGBTQ community leaders and members of the movement delivered speeches at the venue where the march ended, and a concert took place nearby.

The LGBTQ community has rallied against a number of actions taken by the federal government since Trump took office.

One of them was the Trump administration’s decision in February to roll back federal guidelines issued under the Obama administration allowing public schools to let transgender students use toilets matching their chosen gender identity.

More than 20 national advocacy groups working on behalf of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans endorsed the Washington march, according to the march’s website.

Elder honoured for Aboriginal legal work

Since Ruth Abdullah became part of the Stolen Generation aged just seven, her focus has been preventing further injustices by helping Aboriginal people know their legal rights.

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Her dedication to this cause has on Monday led to her being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), for service to the indigenous community of Western Australia.

Born in Derby to a Djaru/Gidja mother and Gurindji father, the 69-year-old told AAP she’s now “part of the furniture” at Kimberley Community Legal Services, where she has been an Aboriginal liaison coordinator since 2000.

With a positive, sunny, happy go-lucky disposition, Ms Adbullah is a proud role model for younger generations, saying “they see how hard I had to work. It’s about respect and looking after yourself”.

The former Anglicare counsellor educates non-indigenous staff on Aboriginal cultures and custom, saying her previous work at the Department of Child Protection was often with staff who judged families before visiting and listening to them.

“It doesn’t work at all. Aboriginal staff pave the way,” she said.

Government services to indigenous communities need to be more streamlined, she says, and the customs and rules of individual groups should be respected.

Ms Abdullah said her personal experience drove her to prevent any more children being taken away like she was, urging instead for “family looking after family” through mediation and counselling.

Taken from her parents in Alice Springs, she was separated from three sisters and sent to St Mary’s Hostel with her brother, where they weren’t allowed to approach their parents if they saw them.

She said it was “heartbreaking” and the school would cut their pocket money if they broke that rule.

She left St Mary’s aged 17 and reconnected with her parents in WA, studying her culture to re-find her identity, which she now urges younger generations to hold onto.

New film explores rise of Islamic State

Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested, as two of the world’s most acclaimed war documentary filmmakers, have witnessed the horrors of mankind.

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Their films include Restrepo, the 2011 Oscar-nominated documentary depicting the year Junger and the late British photojournalist Tim Hetherington were embedded with a US Army platoon in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, considered one of the most dangerous postings in the US military.

American Junger and UK-born Quested, in what could be their last war film, have turned their attention to the terror group Islamic State and the Syrian civil war with Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS.

Junger and Quested recently spoke to AAP about the documentary, which airs in Australia on National Geographic on Tuesday (June 13) at 7.30pm AEST.

Q: What was the main motivation for making this documentary?

SJ: We both felt it was possible to make a 90-minute survey of the Syrian civil war to explain how it started, why it got so bad and why ISIS came out of this situation.

Q: Looking into your crystal balls, what will Syria be like in five or 10 years time?

NQ: I’d hope for some type of relative peace and potentially some type of federally partitioned republic.

SJ: I think you would have to bring the Russians in on that. You would have to crush ISIS. Bring the Russians in and figure out a partition like they did with Bosnia which requires Russian co-operation.

Q: What was something your investigation unearthed that surprised you?

NQ: Finding humanity in these dark places. People with sunny dispositions and generous natures.

Q: That was fascinating. You focus part of the documentary on a Syrian family living in hellish conditions and they still manage to smile and remain positive.

SJ: I wrote a book about this and it seems to me adverse conditions produce positive social behaviour in humans. Situations that are safe and comfortable allow for people to act selfishly. In times of hurricanes, civil wars, the blitz in London, people recall those times with enormous fondness because it brought out the best human behaviours.

Q: Have you kept in touch with the family in the documentary?

NQ: They are in Izmir, Turkey. They have opened a shop and selling small things to the Syrian community there, which is massive.

Q: During your investigation, did you come across any Australians in Syria or Iraq or any other Australian links?

NQ: We did come across a preacher in Melbourne that we found intriguing that has been given a travel ban in Australia. We were going to have a chat to him but it was hard to tie him into the overall narrative.

Q: It was interesting seeing your interview with Donald Trump’s fired national security adviser General Michael Flynn.

NQ: We interviewed him in March last year. It was a long and involved interview and we wanted that voice in the film that said, ‘You have to be aware of politicians using refugees for political gain’. We think it is even more poignant now that Michael Flynn subsequently changed his opinion. That’s why we kept the interview.

SJ: He also makes a case for nation building as a solution to the refugee crisis which of course is completely an anathema to Donald Trump’s world view. I found that fascinating.

Q: Did General Flynn take any calls from Vladimir Putin during your interview?

NQ: (Laughs) No, but we had a lot of conversations with Mr Lavrov’s (Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov) office about an interview which in the end he declined.

Q: What is next for you guys? Is it time for a romantic comedy?

NQ: (Laughs) Well, I’m going to a direct a thriller in New York called Cleaning House. It’s a little lighter. We like to balance things. If you were to just do this you would lose perspective on the world.

SJ: Absolutely. I don’t want to be involved in stuff like that again. I stopped war reporting a few years ago. I don’t think I want to go into another film that is violent and graphic like this one was. I feel like I understand war to the extent that I want to understand it and I just became a father for the first time. My wife and I just had a little girl.

Winner and losers in May’s reshuffle

Winners and losers in Theresa May’s post-election cabinet reshuffle:

*Michael Gove – winner

Returns to frontline politics almost a year after the Brexit campaigner was frozen out by May in her first Cabinet.

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* David Gauke – winner

A second promotion in as many May Cabinets, having been picked to replace Damian Green at the Department for Work and Pensions.

*Damian Green – winner

Goes from Work and Pensions Secretary to First Secretary of State, effectively May’s number two as the title is generally associated with the role of deputy prime minister.

* David Lidington – winner

Steps into Liz Truss’s shoes as Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary.

* Liz Truss – loser

The biggest loser in the reshuffle, going from justice secretary and a significant seat at the top table to being one of four people who “also attends Cabinet”.

Other notable cabinet members:

* Philip Hammond

Former foreign secretary, Hammond remains as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

* Amber Rudd

After suffering a nervous election night which saw her majority significantly reduced Rudd has been given some comfort, remaining home secretary.

*Boris Johnson

Despite rumours he was again manoeuvring for a potential leadership bid, Johnson has kept his brief as foreign minister amid strenuous denials he is eyeing Theresa May’s job.

* Michael Fallon

This loyal defender of the prime minister remains defence secretary.

* David Davis

David retains the role of secretary of state for Brexit created in July 2016 and will stay front and centre in the looming negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU.

Netanyahu urges UN to dismantle its Palestinian aid agency

Netanyahu said he raised the issue during the visit in recent days of Washington’s UN envoy Nicky Haley, who has accused the United Nations of bias against Israel.

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“I told her that the time had come for the United Nations to reconsider the continued existence of UNRWA,” his office quoted him as saying, referring to the UN Relief and Welfare Agency.

He said that while millions of other refugees around the world were cared for by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only the Palestinians have their own body.

“In UNRWA’s institutions, there is a great deal of incitement against Israel,” Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting. 

He also said the agency’s very existence “perpetuates and does not solve the Palestinian refugee problem”.

“Therefore it is time to dismantle UNRWA and merge its parts into the UNHCR,” he added.

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UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the agency’s future could not be decided unilaterally.

“UNRWA receives its mandate from the UN General Assembly and only the UN General Assembly, by a majority vote, can change our mandate,” he told AFP, adding that in December the assembly extended the mandate for a further three years.

UNRWA runs hundreds of schools for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank, Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

It also distributes aid and provides teacher training centres, health clinics and social services.

Israel views the agency as biased against it and its Palestinian staff as frequently hostile.

In February, the Jewish state complained the head of the UNRWA staff union in Gaza was politically active in the militant Islamist group Hamas, which rules the coastal strip.

On June 1, UNRWA discovered a section of a Hamas tunnel running under two of its schools in the strip’s Maghazi refugee camp, the agency has said.

Hamas has denied building the Maghazi tunnel, whose discovery drew condemnation from both UNRWA and Israel.

On Friday, Israel sent a letter of protest to the UN Security Council over the matter.

Over the years, Hamas has built a labyrinth of tunnels, some passing under the border into Israel in order to launch attacks.

Response to media summaries of issues around @UNRWA’s mandate RT pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/iI5PfBjMTf

— Chris Gunness (@ChrisGunness) June 11, 2017