French rightwing party vows ‘unanimous’ support for Fillon

“The political committee, after a wide-ranging exchange, unanimously renewed its support for Francois Fillon,” Larcher told reporters after around 20 party seniors met to “evaluate” the crisis sparked by the fake jobs scandal clouding Fillon’s campaign.

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Former prime minister Alain Juppe ruled out a run for the French presidency on Monday, boosting embattled rightwing party colleague Francois Fillon whose campaign has been thrown into chaos by a fake jobs scandal.

Juppe, 71, was the most likely candidate to replace Fillon and unite their deeply divided Republicans party only seven weeks from the start of the two-stage election.

Polls suggested Juppe would be more popular with voters, but the centrist is considered too soft on immigration and other social issues for many of Fillon’s supporters on the right flank of the party.

“I confirm for a final time that I will not be a candidate to be president of the republic,” Juppe said in a downbeat statement that criticised Fillon and said France was “sick” and suffering from a “profound crisis of confidence”.

His decision removes a major rival for Fillon, who is sticking with his bid for power despite the prospect of criminal charges later this month as well as mounting criticism within the party and falling poll numbers.

The conservative 63-year-old was once the favourite to be France’s next leader but his campaign is mired in accusations he used public funds to pay his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for fake parliamentary jobs.

“No one today can prevent me being a candidate,” Fillon told France 2 television late on Sunday, emboldened by a rally of tens of thousands of supporters in Paris earlier in the day.

Party leaders met for crisis talks on Monday evening, with allies of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy still pushing Fillon to step aside and name a replacement.

“He’s got some breathing space but he needs to ask himself if he can still win the presidential election,” one lawmaker known to be close to Sarkozy told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The infighting among Republicans and Fillon’s chaotic campaign have made an already unpredictable election even harder to call.

The disarray appears to have benefited centrist, pro-business candidate Emmanuel Macron in particular, as well as far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who are shown in polls to be the likely top two candidates in the first round of voting on April 23.

Polls suggest 39-year-old Macron would beat Le Pen in the decisive second round on May 7 — but after Donald Trump’s victory and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, analysts caution against bold predictions.

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Juppe bows out

Juppe, now the mayor of Bordeaux, voiced Monday his critical view of the state of the election campaign.

“Never under the fifth republic have we had an election in such confused conditions,” Juppe said, stressing the dangers of National Front leader Le Pen’s “anti-European fanaticism” and Macron’s “political immaturity”.

Fillon’s defiance and accusations that the government, justice system and media were plotting against him have “led him into a dead-end”, Juppe added in one of several criticisms of his colleague.

Both Le Pen and Macron — one a far-right anti-establishment figure, the other an independent who founded a new political movement last year — have tapped into widespread anger at France’s political class.

“French people want a profound renewal of their politics,” Juppe, a veteran politician with a conviction over a party finance scandal, told a press conference in Bordeaux.

“Evidently I do not embody this renewal,” he added.

National Front vice-president Florian Philippot said Monday that many French people who were thinking of voting Fillon would now opt for Le Pen.

“They want a free, safe and prosperous France, not a France that is subjected to the most brutal winds of globalisation,” he told LCI television.

Current President Francois Hollande also warned in an interview published Monday that the threat of a Le Pen presidency was real but that he would fight to prevent it happening.

Sarkozy intervenes

Fillon, a devout Catholic, beat Juppe in the Republicans’ primary in November, pulling off a surprise victory by campaigning as a “clean” candidate.

He was the frontrunner in the presidential race until Le Canard Enchaine newspaper revealed in late January that he had paid his wife Penelope and two of their children nearly 900,000 euros ($950,000) as his parliamentary assistants.

Ahead of the meeting of Republicans party leaders later Monday, Sarkozy had piled pressure on Fillon to meet Juppe and find a way out of the crisis.

The former president urged the two men to meet “to find a dignified and credible way out of this situation which cannot continue and which is creating serious problems for the French people”.

A number of Sarkozy’s closest allies have already called on Fillon to step aside.

First woman in space turns 80

Russia has honoured the world’s first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, who recalled tense moments of her pioneering mission on her 80th birthday.

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Soviet officials at the time said the 1963 mission went without a hitch, and only a few years ago Tereshkova first spoke about a technical glitch that could have left her stranded in space.

“When the spacecraft reached the orbit, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to return to Earth because the ship was programed to move to a higher orbit instead of deorbiting,” Tereshkova said in remarks broadcast by Channel 1 television. “I reported the situation to the mission control, they told me how to change the parameters and everything went on without trouble.”

Soviet space officials started planning for a space mission by a woman soon after Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly to space on April, 12 1961, seeing it as a way to cement the nation’s lead in a race for space supremacy against the United States.

Tereshkova, a textile factory worker who liked parachute jumps, was chosen for the flight after a rigorous selection from hundreds of candidates. While heading to the launch pad, she told her relatives that she was going to attend a parachute competition – a reflection of deep secrecy that surrounded the Soviet space program.

The three-day mission made her an instant global celebrity and a poster figure for Soviet space glory. Tereshkova received a hero’s welcome after the flight and was showered with awards and honorary titles.

“It was hard, but we realised that we were working to make the country’s glory shine and prevent the competitors from thrusting ahead,” Tereshkova said on Monday. “It was a great happiness to be the first in space.”

Her birthday led the news on national television.

President Vladimir Putin hosted Tereshkova at the Kremlin, praising her as “a role model for us and a symbol of service to the Fatherland.”

Tereshkova is still a member of the Russian parliament, serving as a deputy chair of committee for municipal issues.

Turnbull lands in Jakarta for trade talks

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has landed in Jakarta and is soon to meet his Indonesian counterpart where they are expected to continue talks on trade and security.

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Mr Turnbull will meet with President Joko Widodo for the second time in less than two weeks when he heads to the 20th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in the Indonesian capital on Tuesday.

President Widodo spruiked the waters as the “future” – with the region home to 2.7 billion people and a transport route for the majority of the world’s oil and half the world’s container ships.

During the IORA summit on Monday, and through a series of bilateral meetings with Indonesian ministers outside the forum, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop continued to talk up the two countries cooperation on countering terrorism, increasing trade and working towards increased maritime security.

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Mr Turnbull will continue to build on these talks on Tuesday.

He said he welcomed Indonesia’s proposal for an IORA Concord – that would include a commitment to international law and promoting regional economic growth.

Indonesia is keen to create a statement of governance in the region – hoping that by creating clear guidelines it will prevent the Indian Ocean from turning into disputed waters – like that seen in the South China Sea.

While in Jakarta, Mr Turnbull will also meet with Australian delegates to Indonesia Australia Business Week.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo is also in town Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), which both countries hope to have finalised by the end of next year.

Swift justice in radio DJ groping lawsuit

US pop star Taylor Swift has won $US1 and long-awaited vindication after a jury decided in a civil trial that a radio host groped her during a pre-concert photo op four years ago.

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After a week-long trial over duelling lawsuits, jurors determined that sacked Denver DJ David Mueller assaulted Swift by grabbing her backside during a backstage meet-and-greet.

After the verdict was handed down Swift hugged her crying mother, reiterating her desire to stand up for other women.

“My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard,” Swift said in a statement.

“Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

The six-woman, two-man jury also found that Swift’s mother and radio liaison were within their rights to contact Mueller’s employer about the groping.

Mueller sued the Swifts and their radio handler, Frank Bell, seeking up to $US3 million ($A3.8 million) for his ruined career. On Friday, the judge dismissed Taylor Swift from Mueller’s lawsuit, saying he failed to prove that she sought to have him sacked or had any reason to believe that someone else may have assaulted her.

“I’ve been trying to clear my name for four years,” Mueller said after the verdict.

“Civil court is the only option I had. This is the only way that I could be heard.”

The singer-songwriter said in her countersuit that she wanted a symbolic $US1.

Swift’s side have always portrayed the encounter as sexual assault despite not reporting it to police. Swift’s mother testified that she asked Bell to reach out to Mueller’s employer to avoid exposing the singer-songwriter to publicity.

Bell contacted a station vice president and sought an investigation into Mueller. He also sent the station executive the photo in question of Swift, Mueller and Mueller’s then-girlfriend at the meet-and-greet.

In her testimony last week, Swift blasted a low-key characterisation by Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, of what happened. Mueller testified he never grabbed Swift, but she insisted she was groped.

“He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him,” Swift testified.

“It was a definite grab. A very long grab,” she added.

Mueller emphatically denied reaching under Swift’s skirt or touching her inappropriately, and said he only toucher her ribs and may have brushed the outside of her skirt.

The photo shows Mueller’s hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Both are smiling. Mueller’s then-girlfriend is standing on the other side of Swift. The jury saw the image but it was never publicly released.

Swift testified that after she was groped, she numbly thanked Mueller and his girlfriend before moving onto others waiting in line.

But she said she immediately after the media op was over she went to her photographer, retrieved the image and said what had just happened.

Woods had five drugs in system at time of DUI arrest – report

It is not known if Woods had prescriptions for all of the medications.

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Medical marijuana is legal in Florida.

A request made by Reuters to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for a copy of the toxicology report was not returned.

Woods, who is second on the all-time list with 14 major titles, checked into a clinic in June for treatment to help deal with prescription drugs.

He said last month he had completed treatment.

“As I previously said, I received professional help to manage my medications,” Woods said in a statement.

“Recently, I had been trying on my own to treat my back pain and a sleep disorder, including insomnia, but I realise now it was a mistake to do this without medical assistance.

“I am continuing to work with my doctors, and they feel I’ve made significant progress. I remain grateful for the amazing support that I continue to receive and for the family and friends that are assisting me.”

Police found Woods stopped on the side of a Palm Beach-area road in his Mercedes-Benz at about 3 a.m. (0700 GMT) on May 29.

He had “extremely slow and slurred speech” after being awakened by a police officer but was cooperative and told officers he takes several prescriptions, including Xanax, according to a police report.

Woods, who had been heading away from his home, could not remember where he was going and told police he was returning from Los Angeles.

A blood test showed he had the painkiller Vicodin and the antidepressant Xanax in his system but no alcohol. He was charged with driving under the influence and improperly stopping his vehicle.

In a statement after his arrest, Woods apologised to fans and blamed the incident on prescription medication he was taking to manage pain from a recent back surgery.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

WA police to increase industrial action

The WA Police Union has instructed members to escalate industrial action by not seeking police costs in court and closing stations if only one officer is present.

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The union said in a statement on Tuesday it had told prosecutors in magistrates courts to not seek costs associated with arrests and summonses, which it said would cost the government up to $100,000 a day.

Handing out fewer traffic infringements over the past month had already amounted to more than $230,000 a day in lost revenue, according to union president George Tilbury.

The WA Labor government says it can only afford a flat $1000 wage increase for public servants over the course of a year due to the state’s budget woes.

The union was responding to the McGowan government’s inaction over pay, conditions and additional police officers, it said in a statement.

Police officers would also be instructed to close police station doors if two police officers were not available to attend front counter duties at night.

If a member of the public attends a police station during these times and requires immediate assistance for a life threatening matter, backup will be requested from the nearest car to protect officers but community safety would not be compromised, Mr Tilbury said.

There had been major incidents at Perth police stations this year, including an officer being stabbed at Gosnells and drive-by shootings outside Armadale and Rockingham.

That action would target Labor’s election promise to extend the opening hours of certain police stations, without fully resourcing them, he said.

“The cost of sorting this out would have been significantly less than the financial loss it has suffered to date, which will only get worse,” Mr Tilbury said.

Girl dies as car drives into French pizzeria, terrorism ruled out

The episode came just five days after a terror-linked car attack on soldiers, the latest in a string of assaults in France since early 2015.

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Investigators have “ruled out the terrorist hypothesis” behind the latest incident, which took place in the town of Sept-Sorts, 55 kilometres (34 miles) east of Paris, a source close to the inquiry said.

The man, who was arrested, said “he had tried to kill himself yesterday (Sunday) without success and decided to try again this way,” the source said.

In Paris, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the fatality was a girl aged 13, and not aged eight as initially reported.

Four people were seriously hurt, after a preliminary figure had been given of six. 

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— LaZouille (@ZoeChachaa) August 14, 2017

❗️#SeineEtMarne Opération en cours à #SeptSorts. Ne gênez pas les opérations de secours. Respectez les périmètres de sécurité@Place_Beauvau

— GendarmerieNationale (@Gendarmerie) August 14, 2017

The driver, born in 1985, “is not known to the intelligence services and has no criminal record,” Brandet said.

One of the four was the girl’s younger brother, police said.

Earlier, the public prosecutor’s office in the town of Meaux said investigators believed the act was “deliberate… but apparently has no connection with a terrorist act.”

France is on edge after suffering a string of terror-related attacks, including the use of cars as weapons.

On August 9, six soldiers were injured after they were hit by a rented BMW in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. A BMW was also involved in Monday’s incident.

The suspect, a 36-year-old Algerian man, was later shot and wounded after a dramatic motorway chase.

The death toll from jihadist attacks in France has exceeded 230 since January 2015.

The country has been under a state of emergency since the Islamic State group attacked in Paris in November 2015, leaving 130 people dead.

Concerns follow China’s successful GM puppy clones

Of the two beagles playing inside a lab located north of downtown Beijing, one – puppy Longlong – looks like the offspring of the older beagle, Apple.

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But he’s not.

Longlong is Apple’s clone.

Mi Jidong is the General Manager of the Beijing biotech company behind the clones, Sino Gene.

“These two dogs, Longlong and Apple, are 99.9 per cent the same. Longlong’s birth is a breakthrough in terms of genetic modification and cloning and its application to dogs.”

Two other puppy clones, Qiqi and Nuonuo, were born a month later.

Sino Gene says the dogs will be used to study gene-based diseases – such as heart disease and diabetes.

The reason this breakthrough is so significant is because dogs – though they may not look like it – are more genetically similar to humans than other animals.

Apple’s DNA was altered so he would have higher levels of blood lipids – a trait associated with high cholesterol, says Mi Jidong.

“This will be helpful in the development of new medicines and studying the mechanism of certain diseases.”

The company also wants to produce ‘super dogs’ for police search and rescue teams: puppies born with a superior sense of smell and intelligence.

It says cloning a genetically-edited animal makes that more efficient.

But animal welfare groups are concerned.

Peter Li is the China Policy expert of Humane Society International and based in the United States.

“Cloning has many problems. Large numbers of animals are used as donors and surrogate mothers. But the success rate is very small. So it’s a huge waste of animal life.”

Mr Li says the experimentation has also raised ethical questions around cloning.

“If we see cloned animals as a testing object, I wonder how soon this work will be applied to humans.”

Fabiene Delerue is an animal geneticist at the University of NSW.

He believes the breakthrough is impressive, but says the lack of transparency in Chinese labs is worrying.

“Doing it on animals doesn’t mean it can translate with the same outcome in humans, but obviously once you’ve allowed this technology to do something it may well be more complicated to say no, you should not use it for something else.”

But Zhao Nanyuan, a retired professor from Beijng’s Tsinghua University, believes western ethical standards hold back scientific progress.

“I’m sure other countries will lag behind china when it comes to human genetic research because of their concerns.”

Apple and these puppies may be the world’s first genetically modified canine clones, but they’re probably not the last.

 

 

Trump condemns white nationalists over Charlottesville violence

Donald Trump was widely criticised for at first blaming the violence in Charlottesville on “many sides”.

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But the US president has succumbed to pressure, taking a stronger stance against right-wing extremists.

“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator. We are equal under the law.”

Tensions remain high in Charlottesville following the seemingly deliberate and deadly car attack that killed one, and injured 19.

The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Junior, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Appearing in court via video link, the 20-year-old was denied a bond, and granted legal aid.

Outside, two white nationalists, who refused to give their names, angrily blamed police for the violence.

“We had a permit for this event and had every right to be here. The police department did absolutely nothing to enforce a legal permit. We defended ourselves. We brought helmets and shields, while the enemy brought improvised flamethrowers, while they brought bleach, while they brought paint, while they brought sticks and they brought knives. The nationalist community defended ourselves against thugs in a battle that was brought by this city, that wanted a bloodbath.”

Those comments caused tensions to flare up again.

Charlottesville Police Chief, Al Thomas, says the nationalist group ignored the police’s safety plan.

“We had a plan to bring them in at the rear of the park. They had agreed to cooperate with the plan. Unfortunately they did not follow the plan. They began entering at different locations, in and around the park, and we had to quickly alter our plans to facilitate that process. We were hoping for a peaceful event. We had asked leaders from both sides to engage in a non-violent demonstration.”

The US national security adviser has labelled the car attack “domestic terrorism”.

The United Nations has also weighed in.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the secretary general, reinforced the UN’s stance against racism and bigotry.

“We believe that there must be no place in our societies for the violent racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and discrimination that we’ve seen in Charlottesville, Virginia, that we’ve seen in recent days. Obviously we condemn any of the violence that affected the civilians and we express our condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to all those who were injured.”

Heather Heyer was killed as she delivered a speech against the white nationalists.

Two state troopers monitoring from the sky were also killed when their helicopter crashed.

Police Chief Thomas offered an honest response when asked if he had any regrets about how the rallies were handled.

“I certainly have regrets. We lost three lives this weekend. A local citizen and two fellow officers. We certainly have regrets. It was a tragic, tragic, weekend.”

 

 

Commonwealth Bank announces leadership changes

Despite delivering shareholder wealth during his tenure, Ian Narev has been at the helm of a number of scandals.

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Only last week Ian Narev told SBS World News he’s still the right man for the job.

“I’ve got a lot of energy to bring not only to the challenges immediatly relating to the Austrac claim but also the other challenges and opportunties that we have and I’m very committed to it and the board has the same view.”

But the board has now confirmed Ian Narev willl retire by the end of the 2018 financial year.

The 50 year-old has managed to lift Commonwealth Bank’s share price by nearly 65 per cent since he took the top job at the end of 2011.

But he’s been under pressure since Australia’s financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC [oz-track], accused the bank of breaching money laundering and terrorism financing laws.

“We know our responsibility to work with Austrac and the Federal Police on stopping crime. We’ve said we’ve made mistakes here. We’ll work our way through the specifics of the claim but the starting point has to be, we take these seriously, we take the partnership seriously. We’ve made mistakes. We need to respond accordingly.”

Last week Austrac launched civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court, accusing the bank of systemic failure.

The bank is also being investigated by the corporate regulator, *ASIC, over its response to allegations it had violated money laundering and terrorism financing laws and breached the Corporations Act.

ASIC says it should have been alerted by Australia’s largest bank in 2015, when it first learnt of a problem in its cash deposit machines that led to the money laundering case filed last week by AUSTRAC.

Judith Fox, from the Australian Shareholders Association, says the board appears to have taken some action.

“The board has stepped up to the plate on this one. Early on when this first arose, they cut short-term bonuses they took a haircut themselves, which is extraordinarily rare. And we all said, okay what other accountability measures are you going to put in place? And now we’ve seen them. The clawback mechanisim is really more about the board saying we actually recognise that accountability has to be taken at that very senior level, it’s not even that you were necessarily involved but if you are at the senior level of an organisation, you are accountable for what happens on your watch.”

One of the biggest changes has been Mr Narev’s salary.

The bank’s annual report reveals his $12.3 million remuneration was cut to just under $9 million for the 2016 financial year after the board cut long-term bonus payments.

In the financial year to June 2017 he was paid $5.5 million.

Michael McCarthy, from stockbrokers CMC Markets, says while Ian Narev’s tenure as the bank’s head will be seen favourably, many will now be relieved.

“From the point of view of the Bank’s board, this draws a line under the recent Austrac affair. They’ve taken decisive action, the CEO’s leaving and that will be seen as good news not just by shareholders but also in Canberra.”

 

 

Santos takes $US690m hit due to oil prices

Oil and gas producer Santos will book an impairment charge of $US690 million ($A877 million) in its half-year results due next week after lowering its oil price forecasts.

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Most of the impairments will be in the form of a writedown on the value of its giant Gladstone LNG project in Queensland, as well as its oil and gas assets in the Cooper Basin and some assets in Indonesia.

The Santos writedown follows a similar charge by rival Origin Energy, which last week flagged a $A1.2 billion hit to its full-year results through an impairment on its Australia Pacific LNG project, following a fall in future oil price assumptions.

Santos said a number of its assumptions, including oil prices, exchange rates, discount rates, production and costs, had changed since its last carrying value assessment as of December 31, 2016.

Key among these are lower forecast US dollar oil prices.

Santos now expects Brent oil prices to average $US50 a barrel in 2017, $US55 in 2018, $US60 in 2019 and about $US70 a barrel from 2021.

As a result, it will take a $US870 million ($A1.1 billion) non-cash, after-tax impairment on the Gladstone LNG project, and a further impairment of $US150 ($A191 million) million against some non-core assets in Indonesia.

The company said its Cooper Basin assets will also be impacted, but this would be more than offset by continued cost efficiencies and performance improvements from 2016 that have allowed increased drilling activity and production.

This will lead to a positive net write-back of about $US330 million ($A420 million) on the carrying value of the Cooper Basin.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Ben Wilson said the reduction of costs by Santos and the firming east coast gas price outlook, combined with Monday’s announcement of a supply agreement with Engie’s Pelican Point power plant, point to a positive implication for the Cooper Basin reserves.

Santos shares were down five cents, or 1.5 per cent, at $3.30 at 1140 AEST, in a stronger Australian market.

Deadpool star devastated by woman’s death

Ryan Reynolds says the cast and crew of the new Deadpool film are “heartbroken, shocked and devastated” after a female stuntwoman died in a motorcycle scene that went wrong during filming in Vancouver.

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“Today, we tragically lost a member of our crew while filming ‘Deadpool’,” Reynolds, a native of Vancouver, said in a message on his social media platforms.

Vancouver police confirmed the stuntwoman’s death on Monday on the set of 20th Century Fox’s superhero movie “Deadpool 2” but gave no further details and did not release her name.

Local media said the woman appeared to lose control of the motorbike, which drove off the set and through the window of a building across the street.

The film is a sequel to the 2016 R-rated comedy “Deadpool,” starring Reynolds as the foul-mouthed Marvel superhero Deadpool.

Movie studio 20th Century Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., did not say whether production had been halted. Spokesman Dan Berger said the studio was “deeply saddened by the accident.”

Reynolds said the cast and crew were “heartbroken, shocked and devastated… but recognize nothing can come close to the grief and inexplicable pain her family and loved ones must feel in this moment. My heart pours out to them — along with each and every person she touched in this world.”

The “Deadpool 2” death came one month after a stuntman died on the Atlanta, Georgia set of AMC horror TV series “The Walking Dead.” John Bernecker, 33, died after hitting his head during a stunt where he fell from a height of six metres to a concrete floor.

Separately, Tom Cruise, known for doing most of his own stunts, appeared to have been injured on the London set of his upcoming spy action movie “Mission: Impossible 6.”

Video emerged on Monday on celebrity news website TMZ showing Cruise, 55, trying to jump onto the roof of a high-rise building and landing hard against its wall. Moments later Cruise, who was attached to a harness, limped off the set

Representatives for Cruise and movie studio Paramount Pictures did not respond to queries about the incident or the nature of the actor’s injury.

Don’t beat chest over North Korea: Shorten

Labor leader Bill Shorten has warned the threat to peace and stability posed by North Korea means now is not the time for making inflammatory statements like “joined at the hip”.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week said Australia and the United States were “joined at the hip”, and pledged Australia would come to the aid of its ally if there was an attack by North Korea.

“It is the job of responsible nations and responsible leaders to urge the entire international community to make every effort to de-escalate this conflict – this is not the time for the beating of drums or chests,” Mr Shorten told the Labor caucus on Tuesday.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has been briefed on military’s plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam as part of an effort to create “enveloping fire” near the US military hub in the Pacific.

Kim said North Korea would conduct the planned missile launches if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity” and that the US should “think reasonably and judge property” to avoid shame, the news agency said.

Lobbing missiles toward Guam would be a deeply provocative act. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the US will take out any missile seen to be heading for American soil and declared a North Korean attack could lead to war.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia continues to work with allies to put political, diplomatic and economic pressure on the reclusive state to change its behaviour.

Australia has designated 37 individual and 31 entities, which have been involved in North Korea’s weapons testing program, for travel bans and financial sanctions.

Ms Bishop welcomed news overnight that China was fully implementing United Nations Security Council resolutions that impose the toughest package of sanctions on North Korea to date.

“China has stated it is completely prohibiting the import from North Korea of coal, oil, iron ore,” she told reporters in Canberra.