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‘US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that Washington “will confront Russia” after a top US military commander claimed Moscow is “sending weapons” to the Taliban. No specifics or evidence were provided to support the claims which Moscow has previously denied.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Mattis in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Monday, the head of the US and international forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson said the US “continue to get reports of this [Russia’s] assistance” to Taliban insurgents.

The NATO commander, who Mattis praised as “one of our most experienced officers in the field and one of our most serious strategic thinkers,” was asked “to address the influx of Russian weapons into Afghanistan and showing up in Taliban hands” by a journalist from the Washington Post.’

Read more: Top US military commander accuses Russia of arming Taliban

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‘TOKYO (Sputnik) — According to The Intercept outlet, Japan began sharing intelligence with the NSA in September 2012 and in response the NSA helped train Japanese agents and gave the Japanese Directorate for Signals Intelligence (SIGNIT) access to XKEYSCORE, a program that can be used to collect data from computer networks.

The outlet noted that the Japanese Defense Ministry declined to comment on the matter.

The outlet said it was using the data provided by Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee turned whistleblower.’

Read more: NSA gave Japan access to its secret Internet surveillance program in 2013 – Reports

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‘The National Union of Students (NUS) is embroiled in a fresh anti-Semitism row after three candidates holding or running for positions on its executive committee were revealed to have made offensive comments.

In online posts seen by The Independent, one current member of the union’s National Executive Council shared a video mocking Jews as having big noses and being tight with money, while another publicly suggested Jewish people are tight-fisted and said he wanted to destroy Israel.

A third, who is seeking a position on the union’s executive in elections being held this week, wrote an offensive Twitter message referring to Jews and using the phrase “Heil Hitler”.’

Read more: National Union of Students in new anti-Semitism row after series of offensive tweets

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‘Australian authorities accused of using report by national science agency to bolster preconceived ideas

Independent investigators looking into the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have expressed scepticism about the Australian authorities’ statement they are newly confident about the plane’s location.

On Friday Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, published its modelling of the drift of a Boeing 777 flaperon consistent with the one from MH370 that was found washed up on La Réunion in July 2015.’

Read more: MH370: independent experts mistrust ‘confidence’ about plane’s location

Jeremy Corbyn urges Labour to back ‘Remain’, despite own EU doubts

‘Labour says it will scrap the Brexit white paper and replace it with new negotiating priorities with the emphasis on keeping the benefits of the single market and customs union.

In a speech on Tuesday Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, will set out the plans alongside a pledge to unilaterally guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals as part of the party’s election manifesto, hastily being put together following the snap election announcement last week.’

Read more: General election 2017: Labour pledge to wipe Brexit slate clean – politics live

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‘Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has announced that she is stepping aside as leader of her National Front (FN) party.

The move comes just a day after she reached the second round of the French election, where she will face centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Ms Le Pen told French TV she needed to be above partisan considerations.

Opinion polls suggest Mr Macron is firm favourite for the second round but Ms Le Pen said: “We can win, we will win.”

The French term she used signalled that the move to step aside would be temporary.

She told France 2 that France was approaching a “decisive moment”.’

Read more: France elections: Le Pen steps aside as National Front leader

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‘Two students groups that plan to host conservative author Ann Coulter have sued the University of California at Berkeley where she plans to speak.

Ms Coulter was due to speak on campus on 27 April, but after first abruptly cancelled the event, administrators chose to reschedule it for 2 May.

Young America’s Foundation and the Berkeley College Republican said this violates their free speech.

The university started the so-called Free Speech Movement in 1964.

The Coulter event was cancelled by school administrators on 19 April over fears that protesters and counter-protesters would hold violent clashes on and off campus.’

Read more: Students sue Berkeley amid Coulter row

 

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‘The state of Arkansas has executed two prisoners on death row after the US Supreme Court rejected their last-minute appeals.
It is the first double execution on the same day in the US for 17 years.
Jack Jones and Marcel Williams were both sentenced to death for rapes and murders committed in the 1990s.
Arkansas initially planned to execute eight inmates in 11 days because its supply of a drug used in lethal injections expires in late April.
On Thursday, Ledell Lee became the first person to be executed in Arkansas since 2005.’

Read more: Arkansas executes murderers Jack Jones and Marcel Williams

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