Surveillance of foreigners picked up Trump

The Republican chairman of the US House of Representatives intelligence committee says some of President Donald Trump’s personal communications may have been caught up in “incidental” surveillance involving a foreign power in the months after the election

Representative Devin Nunes said the information which he said was obtained from a source he did not identify in any way, was collected legally in November, December and January – from the November 8 election to Trump’s January 20 inauguration – but the names of some Trump officials involved had been “unmasked” and the communications widely disseminated within spy agencies.

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Watch: Donald Trump says he feels “somewhat” vindicated by lawmakers statement on surveillance

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Democrats and some Republicans have been sparring over Trump posting on Twitter on March 4 that his New York home Trump Tower was “wiretapped” by his predecessor, President Barack Obama. Through a spokesman, Obama denied the accusation.

White House officials, and Republicans including Nunes, have since said that Trump meant general surveillance instead of what Nunes referred to as “physical” wiretapping.

Trump said on Wednesday that he felt “somewhat” vindicated by Nunes’ announcement.

Nunes made his announcement at a news conference two days after the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, confirmed to a hearing of his committee that it was conducting a criminal investigation of potential links between Trump associates and Russia, as Moscow sought to influence the 2016 US election to benefit Trump.

Watch: Schiff says he has “grave concerns” over ability of Intelligence Committee’s ability to conduct credible investigation

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Watch: White House Stands by Claim Obama Tapped Trump Phone  

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Leaders react to terror in London’s heart

Tributes from world leaders are flowing following an attack near London’s Westminster Palace, which has left four people dead, including a police officer and the alleged assailant, and at least 20 people hurt.

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*In a late night statement after chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee British Prime Minister Theresa May said “we will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”

* US President Donald Trump, in a call to May, offered his condolences and pledged “the full cooperation and support” of the US government, the White House said in a statement.

* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Our thoughts are with the victims of today’s attack in London and their families. Canadians remain united with the people of the UK.”

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an emailed statement said: “Although the background to these incidents still needs to be exactly clarified, I confirm on behalf of Germany and its citizens that we stand firmly and resolutely by Britain’s side when it comes to fighting any kind of terrorism.”

* Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Twitter: “Australia stands in resolute solidarity with the people of Britain in the war against terrorism.”

* Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten tweeted: “This shocking crime, designed to weaken the U.K., will only make her stronger. All Australians stand with Britain today.”

* Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “We don’t split terrorism into categories; we consider it as absolute evil. At this moment, as always, our hearts are together with the British people, we feel their pain and speak again about the need to confront that evil.”

*French President Francois Hollande said: “France, which has been struck so hard lately, knows what the British people are suffering today.”

Hollande added that countries “must bring all the conditions to answer these attacks” and that “it is clear that it is at the European level, and even beyond that, that we must organise ourselves”.

* Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said: “Shocked at attack on London. Yesterday I spent the day at Westminster. Luckily not today. London’s Parliament is the mother of democracy!”

OCR unchanged but RBNZ still wary

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler has kept the official cash rate unchanged at 1.

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75 per cent, as expected, and reiterated his view that the benchmark rate doesn’t need shifting for the foreseeable future.

The unchanged rate, at a record low, was confirmed on Thursday morning.

Last month the Reserve Bank adopted a neutral stance on policy, signalling the OCR would go nowhere until the middle of 2019, while acknowledging risks in the housing market and US President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade measures could change the outlook.

Mr Wheeler reiterated those concerns on Thursday, saying “major challenges remain with on-going surplus capacity in the global economy and extensive geopolitical uncertainty”.

Economists aren’t convinced the Reserve Bank will sit on its hands for another two years, with many predicting an increase in the cash rate next year as inflationary pressures emerge.

However, none of the 11 polled by BusinessDesk were predicting a move on Thursday, with last week’s gross domestic product figures showing the wet spring weighed more heavily on economic growth than expected.

Mr Wheeler said December growth was weaker than expected, but that was in part due to temporary factors and the outlook was still positive due to “on-going accommodative monetary policy, strong population growth, and high levels of household spending and construction activity”.

He reiterated his view that the consumers price index is expected to head to the bank’s 2 per cent mid-point target over the medium term and said long-term inflation expectations was anchored around that level.

The kiwi has dropped 2.9 per cent against the greenback since the February review and was trading at US70.64 cents from US70.50c immediately before the release. The trade-weighted index has dropped about 3.8 per cent and was at 76.53 from 76.40, below the 79 average level expected for the first quarter.

Mr Wheeler noted the decline since February as “encouraging” but said “further depreciation is needed to achieve more balanced growth”.

Johnson rolls, McIlroy and Spieth stumble at Match Play

“When you get up real early, you just want to keep the momentum on your side,” said Johnson.

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Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were surprise losers in their first round-robin matches at Austin Country Club.

McIlroy, who reached last year’s semi-finals, fell 2&1 to Dane Soren Kjeldsen while Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, making his first appearance at the tournament, routed Spieth 4&2.

Kjeldsen was 1-down with five to play but rattled off four successive birdies, knocking his last four approaches inside nine feet, with the last three inside four feet.

“I played well. If I had played anyone else, I might have won. Soren played great,” said McIlroy.

Northern Irishman McIlroy will play Gary Woodland on Thursday and Argentine Emiliano Grillo on Friday. Woodland beat Grillo 3&2.

Twice major champion Spieth never led against Tanihara, who has 13 career titles overseas. The American played his last nine holes in three over, hitting only one green.

“I knew if I brought my ‘A’ game, I could probably compete against him,” said Tanihara. “I wanted to see how a top player would play and I was just looking forward the whole day.”

Next up for the Texan is a clash with Japan’s Yuta Ikeda on Thursday and Ryan Moore on Friday. Moore halved his match with Ikeda.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk halved, while Brooks Koepka was lights out with the putter in a 6&5 trouncing of fellow American Kevin Kisner.

Day, last year’s winner, walked off the course after six holes, revealing to reporters that he was leaving to be with his mother, who is having lung cancer surgery on Friday.

“Hard to comprehend being on the golf course right now with what she’s going through,” said a tearful Day. “Family is first.”

The event is comprised of 16 four-player groups who play round-robin matches from Wednesday through Friday with the winners of each group advancing to a single-elimination bracket at the weekend.

Players receive one point for a win and a half-point for a halved match.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)