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U.S. House speaker says congress has not approved war against Iran

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War

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she backed what appeared to be U.S. President Donald Trump’s aversion to actual military conflict with Tehran.

“I like what I hear from the president — that he has no appetite on this,” she said.

The Washington Post, citing several unnamed U.S. officials, reported late Wednesday that Trump was frustrated that his advisers may be rushing into war and that he preferred a more diplomatic approach and direct talks with Iran.

Pelosi also said that the Republican administration would provide a classified briefing for top lawmakers — the so-called Gang of Eight — on Iran later on Thursday.

But Trump’s administration so far has rebuffed requests to brief the full House on Iran as it has for congressional requests seeking information on North Korea and Venezuela, she said at a news briefing.

“This is part of a pattern that is not right because we have responsibilities — the responsibility in the Constitution is for the Congress to declare war.

So, I hope the president’s advisers recognise that they have no authorisation to go forward in any way,” she said.

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Victim of Pell assault ‘relieved’ at court’s decision to quash appeal 

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Relief

The judges at the Court of Appeal rejected Pell’s appeal in a majority two-to-one decision and upheld his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the mid-1990s.

“It is four years since I reported to the police. The criminal process has been stressful,” the victim said through his lawyer, Vivian Waller, after the court decision on Wednesday.

“The journey has taken me to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could not return from. The justice machine rolls on with all of its processes and punditry, almost forgetting about the people at the heart of the matter.”

In the state of Victoria, where the trial took place, publishing anything that may tend to identify the victims of sexual abuse is prohibited under law.

Pell’s victim was identified as JJ by the sentencing judge. The other victim died in 2014.

JJ said he “felt a responsibility to come forward” after attending the funeral of his childhood friend, the other choirboy, who died of an accidental drug overdose – which has been blamed on the abuse.

“I knew he had been in a dark place. I was in a dark place. I gave a statement to the police because I was thinking of him and his family. I felt I should say what I saw and what happened to me.”

JJ said he did not report to the police for his personal gain.

“I have risked my privacy, my health, my well-being, my family… This is not about money and never has been,” he said, adding he is “not on a mission to do anybody any harm.”

“My journey has not been an easy one. It has been all the more stressful because the case involved a high-profile figure,” said JJ, who recently became a father.

“I am grateful for a legal system that everyone can believe in, where everybody is equal before the law and no one is above the law.”

“I just hope that it is all over now.”

Meanwhile, the father of the late victim said he shed “tears of relief in the courtroom when the judgement was handed down this morning.”

“It’s been an extremely tough wait for our client who has had to deal with the awful thought that maybe the man who destroyed his son’s life could have his conviction overturned,” said Lisa Flynn, the lawyer for the father.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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3 children of German Islamic State fighters arrive in Frankfurt

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Militants

It is the first time the German government has brought the children of Islamic State militants home amid a fierce debate about how to handle repatriation of jihadists and their children in the wake of the militant group’s collapse.

The police spokesman said the children’s transport has been overseen by social workers and child protective services, but declined to give further details citing privacy regulations.

Sources told dpa the children included two sisters ages 2 and 4 who had been accompanied to the airport in Erbil by their grandmother, and a boy aged 7 who was also brought to the airport by his grandmother.

According to the German Foreign Ministry, four children including a sick baby were handed over to employees of the German Consulate in Erbil on Monday.

The children had been living in the Kurdish-controlled al-Hol refugee camp near the border with Iraq since the collapse of the Islamic State group.

The police spokesman did not comment on the whereabouts of the baby.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday that the government is working under difficult circumstances to bring more children of Islamic State fighters back to Germany.

YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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Brazil bars Maduro’s officials entry, alleging rights abuses 

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Abuses

The prohibition concerns officials whose acts have violated principles contained in the Brazilian constitution: democracy, human dignity and human rights, according to the announcement.

The government will prepare a list of the names of the officials in question.

It was not known if the list would be made public.

It was the first time that Brazil adopted unilateral sanctions against another country, according to daily O Globo. Colombia, Argentina, and Peru have adopted similar measures against Maduro, who is facing a campaign by the U.S.-backed opposition to oust him from power.

The president won a second term in an election boycotted by most of the opposition last year, and has presided over an economic meltdown.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in January and won the support of dozens of countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump meanwhile said his administration was maintaining contacts with the Maduro regime on several levels, including a very high level.

YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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Court to rule on appeal in convicted paedophile Cardinal Pell’s case 

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Ruling

The former Vatican treasurer and one-time close adviser to Pope Francis was convicted in December for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the mid-1990s.

The 78-year-old maintains his innocence.

Pell’s two-day appeal hearing was held in June, which ended with the judges reserving their decision.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson will read out a summary of the decision, which could be majority or unanimous, with the proceedings to be live-streamed on the court’s website from 9:30 am on Wednesday (2330 GMT Tuesday).

Pell, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic figure to be jailed for a child sex abuse conviction, has already been in prison for more than five months. Depending on the verdict, he could either walk free, his case could be sent to a retrial or he could remain in jail.

Meanwhile the father of one of the two choirboys sexually abused by Pell said Tuesday through his lawyer that he is waiting “with bated breath” and is “anxious about the decision.”

”He has said that he would like to see justice prevail and George Pell kept behind bars where he cannot prey on more unsuspecting children,” said Lisa Flynn, the lawyer representing the father, whose son died of a drug overdose in 2014.

YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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Trump says Kashmir is ‘complicated’ but still aims to mediate 

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Complication

The U.S. president has spoken with both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in recent days, trying to diffuse tensions.

He will likely meet Modi this weekend on the sidelines of the G7 summit in France, though India has already rejected the US offer to mediate on the issue.

“I think we are helping the situation, but there are tremendous problems between those two countries as you know and I will do the best I can do to mediate or do something,” Trump said.

“Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have the Hindus and the Muslims and I wouldn’t say they get along so great,” Trump said at the White House. “Frankly, it’s a very explosive situation.”

Trump heaped praise on both Modi and Khan, noting that he recently hosted the Pakistani leader at the White House.

“They are great people and they love their countries. They are in a very tough situation. Kashmir is a very tough situation,” he said.

The U.S. under Trump cut aid to Pakistan, a Cold War-era ally, and the recent Khan visit did not spark any pledges to renew the assistance, amid concerns in Washington about Islamabad’s focus on fighting terrorism.

YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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