France wants to work with US on new nuclear deal with Iran – Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he believes discussions with US President Donald Trump have made it possible to forge a new agreement on Iran.

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French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. © Brendan McDermid

Macron made the comment during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday.

Macron said he was aware that Trump considers it a “bad deal” and that he is willing to take on board Trump’s concerns and criticisms as they work toward a “new” deal.

Macron said the two leaders had had a “very frank discussion” on Iran and that the nuclear issue was not the only issue with Iran, but that the country’s ballistic missile program posed another threat. In February, Macron said Iran’s ballistic missile program must be put under international surveillance.

Macron said he believed the Iran deal as it stands should not be torn apart, but that it can be changed and added to.

It’s not a mystery we did not have the same starting position,” Macron told Trump. “Neither you nor I have a habit of chances our stances or going with the wind.”

It was a surprising turnaround for Macron, who was expected to use his visit to Washington to push Trump into remaining in the Iran deal, which was signed in 2015.

The deal limits Iran’s nuclear program in return for economic sanctions relief. Trump has said the deal “was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

Macron had previously said that ending the Iran deal would be a “grave error” and that it wasessential to peace at a time where the risk of an infernal conflagration cannot be excluded.”

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‘Rodchenkov's evidence is hearsay with limited probative value’ – CAS

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has published two reasoned awards in the matter of 39 Russian athletes accused of doping, describing Grigory Rodchenkov’s evidence as “hearsay with limited probative value.”

In a 152-page document CAS detailed the court hearings of the two athletes – skier Alexander Legkov and bobsledder Alexander Zubkov – who had appealed sanctions imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the eve of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games.

Following a six-day court procedure CAS ruled to uphold the appeals of 28 Russian athletes, including Legkov, dropping their life bans over alleged doping just several days before the Olympic opening ceremony.

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Russian skier Alexander Legkov / Global Look Press

This decision caused an uproar among some IOC members, who called the CAS verdict “a huge disappointment.”

On Monday, CAS delivered reasoned awards of the Legkov case providing reasonable explanation to their decision to clear the athlete of all doping charges and reinstate his medals won at the 2014 Sochi Games.

“In the case of Alexander Legkov, the Panel concluded that the IOC had not discharged the burden of establishing that the Athlete used a prohibited method for the purposes of Article 2.2 of the WADC. In particular, the Panel concluded that the probative value of the circumstantial evidence in that case was insufficient to overcome the absence of direct evidence that the Athlete committed an ADRV of use of a prohibited method,” CAS said.

The former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Rodchenkov testified in court via video with his face covered from the appellants, however the jury could not confirm his evidence.

“The Panel considers it significant that Dr. Rodchenkov admitted in his oral testimony that he had never observed any athlete on the Duchess List [list of athletes who allegedly consumed a steroid-laced cocktail designed by Rodchenkov] actually taking the Duchess Cocktail,” the document reads.

“This evidence is hearsay and as such its probative value is very limited, particularly insofar as it relates to the Athlete’s subsequent actions during the Sochi Games in February 2014.

READ MORE: ‘It was an important task for the universe’ – WADA informant Rodchenkov on ‘Russian doping’ claims

“In the circumstances, unlike the IOC DC (IOC Disciplinary Committee), the Panel does not consider that the mere fact of the Athlete’s presence on the Duchess List is sufficient for the Panel to be comfortably satisfied that the Athlete used a prohibited substance during the Sochi Games,” CAS added.

Russian athletes involved in the court hearings that were held in Geneva, Switzerland, from January 22-27 insisted the fugitive doctor was not a reliable witness, as he “provided his testimony to Prof. McLaren in a context where he was facing deportation from the United States to Russia, where he would be likely to face criminal prosecution.”

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© Netflix / Global Look Press

The CAS Panel outlined that Legkov’s urine samples from the Sochi Games didn’t contain heightened sault levels or mixed DNA.

“Panel notes that there is no direct evidence that the Athlete deliberately restricted the degree of closure of his sample bottles in order to make it easier for the bottles to be forcibly reopened,” the document states.

Reviewing the alleged doping probe swapping scheme the panel also emphasized that Rodchenkov’s testimony was contradictory and was not backed by any sufficient evidence.

“In respect of Dr. Rodchenkov’s statement that he could recall having swapped the Athlete’s urine samples on 23 February 2014, the Panel notes that the records in Dr. Rodchenkov’s diary for that date do not contain any reference to having swapped the Athlete’s sample. Moreover, Dr. Rodchenkov did not provide any particulars in his diary regarding that alleged swapping. Accordingly, Dr. Rodchenkov’s statement is a bare assertion which is uncorroborated by any contemporaneous documentary evidence.

“As such, the probative weight of this evidence is limited and the Panel is unable to find based on such evidence that the Athlete committed and ADRV (Anti-Doping Right Violation).”

After inspecting all the evidence brought to the court the panel ruled to uphold Legkov’s appeal making him eligible to compete at the international starts.

“Since the Panel is not comfortably satisfied that the Athlete committed an ADRV under Articles 2.2, 2.5 or 2.8 of the WADC it therefore sets aside the findings and sanctions imposed against the Athlete by the IOC DC and all individual results earned by the Athlete upon the occasion of the Sochi Games are reinstated, with all resulting consequences.”

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Kadyrov ready to deploy additional Chechen forces to Syria on Putin’s orders

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has called recent US coalition missile raids on Syria an “anti-Russian provocation,” and said that “regiments, battalions and brigades” of Chechen infantry can go to the Middle East to enforce order.

In a recent interview with Rossiya-24 television, Kadyrov said that he saw the recent strikes on Syrian locations as a fight against Russia. “When they bomb a sovereign state and don’t ask about any rules, I think that this is the ongoing fight with Russia,” he said.

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A security officer attempts to control Rohingya refugees waiting to receive aid in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh © Cathal McNaughton

I think that if such things continue to happen, Russia would have to take measures,” the Chechen leader added. When reporters asked him about the type of such measures, he said: “Force measures.”

If you ask me, Ramzan Kadyrov, I would say that any provocation against Russia must be destroyed on the spot,” he stated.

When asked if there were any Chechen units in Syria, Kadyrov answered positively, but refused to specify the strength of those units. “There are as many as necessary,” he told reporters. The head of the Chechen Republic also said that he and his people were ready to deploy additional forces to Syria if such need arises. “Regiments, battalions and brigades are ready to be deployed. We are ready to execute any order regardless of how difficult it might be. As the commander-in-chief says, so it will be,” he stated, referring to President Vladimir Putin’s official status of the commander-in-chief of the Russian military forces.

In the same interview, Kadyrov mocked the personal sanctions imposed on him by Western nations, jokingly promising to jail US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and freeze their assets if they ever come to Chechnya.

He also reiterated his position concerning polygamy, saying that God allowed Muslim men to have four wives, but the union did not require registration in any civil office; so no legislative steps are planned to legalize polygamy in the republic.

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Home Office ‘socialism’ triggered Windrush scandal – Jacob Rees-Mogg

Darling of the Tory-right, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, has given his unique perspective on the Windrush scandal, blaming it on “socialism” at the Home Office.

The Old Etonian weighed in on the heated debate this month as he said “socialism” – or prioritizing “the collective” over the individual – is what brought the loss of rights for Commonwealth citizens.

Arguing that giving up on Britain’s fishing rights for a better final Brexit deal would be “socialist,” Rees-Mogg said the Windrush community had been hit by the same sort of principle.

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© Reuters

“I do not believe that the interests of the collective allow you to crush individuals who may get in your way. I believe that we are a nation built on the individual, so that the rights of each individual are a valuable and important thing, to be protected by the government.

“I will draw a parallel with the Windrush issue. The Windrush issue came about because the state put the interests of the collective ahead of those individuals who had come here perfectly legally prior to 1973, and that it was more convenient for the Home Office to make them prove who they were and show their papers. This is socialism,” he said.

The mistreatment of the Windrush community included individuals being threatened with deportation, denied access to healthcare, and having their driving licenses revoked.

On one occasion, a man described how he was forced to miss his mother’s funeral because he was he was denied entry back into the UK – despite him claiming he has lived in the UK for 60 years.

He had flown to Jamaica to see his dying mother, before trying to fly back to Britain, but was barred from boarding the flight as his visa was not recognized. Stranded in Jamaica, he missed his mother’s funeral as her body was repatriated to the UK.

Rees-Mogg’s assessment comes a day after Home Secretary Amber Rudd – who was forced to apologize over her own department’s mishaps – said she wanted for the Windrush community to be allowed to “acquire the statuses they deserve – British citizenship – quickly, at no cost and with proactive assistance through the process.”

But Labour MP David Lammy, who has been championing the issue in parliament and on Twitter, hit out at her statement that the “burden of proof” had been too much on the individual and that the Home Office would now work in a much more “proactive and personable way.”

“Given the scale of this crisis and the shocking way in which so many innocent people have been treated, the Home Office should surely be placing the burden of proof on its own shoulders to prove that somebody is here unlawfully, rather than the other way round.

“The home secretary should immediately guarantee the status of every individual who has evidence to prove their arrival within the timeframe the home secretary set out.”

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Sexual harassment at top liberal think tank run by longtime Clinton advisor – report

A leading liberal think tank run by a longtime adviser to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is facing allegations of serious sexual harassment which went undealt with by management, a new report claims.

The Centre for American Progress (CAP), headed by Clinton associate Neera Tanden, has released four policy proposal papers on dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, but former staffers have come forward with stories of repeated harassment at the think tank, BuzzFeed reports.

In an exit memo, one former employee named only as Mary told her colleagues that she and others had faced “retaliation” for coming forward. She said that the worsening environment and treatment by supervisors outweighed “the seemingly positive act” of reporting the harassment.

Tanden, CAP’s president, has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump over allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a number of women. She has also repeatedly criticized Republicans for their muted reactions to the allegations.

BuzzFeed spoke to 19 current and former employees of CAP who described “a chaotic internal culture” at the organization. A 2016 memo written by the employees’ union revealed “several incidents of sexual harassment against several members of our unit.”

The union said that management failed to take sufficient action, “thereby allowing the said employee’s behavior to escalate” and create a “hostile work environment” for women. The union wrote that CAP “eventually” took the appropriate course of action but “failed to adequately address the situation.”

When the union suggested that CAP hold sexual harassment response training, Tanden refused. “They had an almost do-nothing approach,” one former union member said.

CAP said in a statement that they were “legally prohibited” from making changes to the organization’s policy, including by holding new sexual harassment training, because of “ongoing contract negotiations” with the union at that time.

Benton Strong, the accused employee, allegedly asked female employees if they had ever been “flashed or masturbated in front of,” and then mocked one woman who said she had cried when it happened to her.

The woman named as Mary reported that Strong had sent her a series of unwanted, sexually explicit text messages. She said he repeatedly asked her to come to his apartment and made inappropriate comments about her body. Another former employee told BuzzFeed that Strong’s harassment against her friend was “incessant.”

Strong ultimately left the think tank to take a job with then–Seattle mayor Ed Murray. He did not deny the allegations and told BuzzFeed that he had “made mistakes” and learned from them.

After reporting Strong’s behavior, Mary said she was made to feel she had “inconvenienced” people and was asked whether she was “worth spending time or money on.”

“I surely expected better out of an organization that housed a national campaign on sexual assault,” she said.

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Muslim women ‘have twice as many abortions’ as ethnic Danes

A report from Denmark’s National Board of Health has found that women with backgrounds in Muslim countries get almost twice as many abortions as women with ethnic Danish roots.

Statistics reveal that women with family backgrounds in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan are among those who receive the most terminations. Only women from the former Yugoslavia, some of whom come from areas with predominantly Muslim populations, received more, Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad report.

Kassem Rachid, imam and president of the Arab Association in the city of Aabenraa, told the newspaper that he was surprised that that such a large proportion of women from countries with predominantly Muslim populations choose to have abortions.

Rachid suggested that marital problems or people not wanting more children are two of the possible causes of the phenomenon. He also suggested the women getting abortions are not devout Muslims:

“Some Muslim women are not righteous Muslims and therefore they do not think abortion is illegal. Because it is not allowed for Muslims to get abortions.”

READ MORE: Anti-abortion protesters banned from ‘harassing’ women outside termination clinic

Sociologist Astrid Krabbe Trolle, from the Institute for Multicultural and Regional Studies at Copenhagen University, was also surprised by the findings. However, she noted that immigrants from the Middle East are generally more affected by adverse social conditions.

“Bad social conditions and low education are typically associated with many abortions,” she explained.

Krabbe Trolle noted that in the mid 2000s immigrants from countries such China, the Philippines and Vietnam were among the countries of origin, from which most women had abortions however their numbers have fallen in recent years.

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US-China trade spat: Trump says 'good chance' of deal

China and the United States have a good chance of ending their ongoing trade spat, US President Donald Trump believes.

“We have a very good chance of making a deal,” Trump said ahead of a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. He added the US is now in trade talks with the European Union, and also discussing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada.

The trip to China will be the first for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been in office since February 2017. In contrast, his predecessors typically went to China during their first months in the role.

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017 © Damir Sagolj

The recent trade dispute has led to a series of tit-for-tat trade barriers being imposed by Washington and Beijing. In April, the US announced 25 percent tariffs on $ 50 billion in Chinese imports. China responded with similar trade barriers.

The spat intensified last week after Washington banned American firms from selling parts and software to Chinese tech company ZTE Corp for seven years. US suppliers provide up to 30 percent of the components used in ZTE’s equipment and the move could disrupt China’s plan to build the world’s largest 5G network by the end of this decade.

In response, China slapped a 179 percent tariff on American sorghum imports. Sorghum is a crop used to feed livestock and can be made into a liquor known as maotai, which is popular in China.

Trump has vowed to cut the US trade deficit with China, which stood at $ 375 billion last year. The problem with this figure is that many of the imported goods are in fact products made for American manufacturers in China due to cheaper labor. But when the goods are shipped back to the US, they are considered imports in the trade balance.

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‘Expert on Russian disinformation’ exposed for spreading disinformation about Twitter users

Defense analyst and wannabe Kremlinologist Ben Nimmo, reportedly responsible for wrongly ‘outing’ a genuine Twitter user as a ‘Russian troll,’ has been attempting to backtrack, much to the amusement of social media users.

The head of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Labs, described by The Times as “an expert on Russian disinformation,” has been studying the activity of suspected pro-Russia Twitter users over the last couple of months. In his analysis, Nimmo identified Twitter user @Ian56789 as a ‘Kremlin troll.’

The claim was challenged when @Ian56789, whose real name is Ian Shilling, was interviewed by Sky News after he had his Twitter account suspended following a spate of 100 tweets a day during a 12-day period from April 7, reaching 23 million users. Shilling is a middle-aged, self-described “ordinary British citizen” who likes to do his own independent research on issues, suggested in his interview that he’s been targeted due to his non-mainstream views on major issues.

READ MORE: Another person accused of being ‘Russian troll’ by Times newspaper for non-mainstream views

Nimmo then took to Twitter to vent his frustration at accusations that he himself has been spreading disinformation or “fake news” – the very practice he accused @Ian56789 of engaging in. Wikileaks has been his primary target.

His issue seems to be around the precise label he gave @Ian56789. Nimmo insists that he has not referred to this account as a Kremlin ‘bot,’ but Twitter user @jamesdoleman asked the question of why he had claimed the individual in question was an “agent of influence”?

Nimmo’s tireless defense has taken the form of a long thread, in which he tweets countless articles on the subject of Russian bots and trolls – though he has yet to prove that Shilling is a ‘Kremlin troll’ – a fact his fellow users haven’t been shy of highlighting.

Another Twitter user highlighted a deleted tweet from Nimmo, where he states: “Looks like @Ian56789, which bore most of the hallmarks of a Kremlin troll, is no long with us.”

It comes after Australia-based Syrian journalist @Partisangirl, real name Maram Susli, and ‘Finnish activist’ Citizen Halo were falsely accused by MSM UK newspapers of being a Russian ‘bot’ and ‘troll,’ respectively. Some reports suggest the source for these claims is none other than Ben Nimmo.

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From ‘little rocket man’ to ‘very honorable’: Trump says he wants to meet Kim 'as soon as possible’

US President Donald Trump has praised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and said he wants a meeting with him “as soon as possible.” Trump also called Kim “very honorable.”

Trump is holding meetings today with French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House. The comments mark a distinct change in rhetoric from Trump, who referred to Kim as “little rocket man” on Twitter last year.

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Last week Trump vowed to meet with North Korean leader “in the coming weeks,” but has warned that he’ll walk away from the talks if they’re not “fruitful.” The meeting between Trump and Kim is expected to happen in May or June. South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet with Kim this week to begin new diplomatic talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons project.

Trump’s recent rhetoric on Russia has also been erratic. Responding to an alleged chemical attack in Syria earlier this month, Trump warned Russia to “get ready” because American missiles would be “coming, nice and new and smart!”

The same day, hours later, Trump tweeted that the US’ relationship with Russia was “worse now than it has ever been” and that all nations needed to “work together.”

In a subsequent tweet, Trump blamed the deteriorating relationship with Russia on “the Fake & Corrupt Russia investigation” – referring to the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s into whether Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russian officials during the election campaign.

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From crazy tyrant to Kim ‘the Peacemaker’: How media shifted the rhetoric on North Korea… or not

As a Trump-Kim meeting edges closer, some in the media are trying to predict the North Korean leader’s negotiation strategy. Others, meanwhile, are speculating whether Kim will kill a general for nodding off during a big speech.

The question is no trivial matter for British tabloid the Daily Star, which found signs of the possible imminent execution of Ri Myong-su, a general in his mid-80s who currently heads North Korea’s General Staff, in footage published by the country’s own news agency, the KCNA. At a plenary session of the ruling Workers’ Party on April 20, the general appeared to be napping during Kim Jong-un’s speech, so he must have angered the Korean leader and may soon be killed for it, the tabloid speculated.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts as people applaud during his visit to the newly-remodeled Pyongyang teacher training college © KCNA

For the record, Ri appeared to be dozing during a speech delivered by another person, Kim Yong-nam, who is technically the head of state in North Korea, as can be seen here. But let’s not allow small details to get in the way of a good thriller about that shady, barbaric nation, where a young, volatile leader mows down rebellious generals he inherited from his father with anti-aircraft guns and feeds his own uncles to ravenous dogs.

Except, the Daily Star publication seems to be an oddity now, as the media has shifted its interest in North Korea from yellow-page rumors to analysis of Pyongyang’s position during the upcoming negotiations. Just a year ago, there was a lot of similar tabloid nonsense, which told readers about how every man in North Korea had to have a haircut like Kim’s, or how a prominent all-female band was killed for shooting porn films and reading the Bible.

Today, CNN offers three different theories on how confident Kim will feel when meeting Trump, based on the state of his nuclear arsenal and the economic impact of international sanctions imposed on North Korea. Bloomberg has run a positive story on how South Korean President Moon Jae-in became a spiritual successor to his mentor, Kim Dae-jung, in pursuing a détente with Pyongyang and how this approach is already paying off. The Guardian writes about how North Korean media are calling Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, the first lady – and what that means for the historically patriarchal nation.

The change in the tone is apparent. North Korea may still be depicted as a hostile and dangerous player, but it is no longer a caricature – an evil hellhole inhabited by crazy tyrants and brainwashed slaves.

A cynical commenter might say that having a few nuclear-tipped ICBMs in one’s arsenal and a war-mongering leader of the free world as your opponent could serve as a great image booster.

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