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Italy’s ruling party is facing an investigation into claims it tried to funnel money into its coffers from Moscow via a secret oil deal.

Public prosecutors in Milan launched the probe after a leaked recording emerged of a meeting between a close aide to the deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, and Russian businessmen.

According to BuzzFeed, they discussed a Russian energy giant selling $1.5bn (£1.2bn) of oil to an Italian oil firm, buying and selling through intermediaries, to divert a sum worth $65m to Mr Salvini’s far-right League party.

Mr Salvini, who is the interior minister in a coalition-government with the populist 5-Star Movement, has denied his party received any money from Moscow.

His former spokesman, Gianluca Savoini, admitted to meeting a group of unnamed businessmen in Moscow last October but denied the League had received any funds.

Two sources with knowledge of the case told Reuters that magistrates have now opened a probe into the allegation of international corruption.

Italian law forbids political parties from accepting donations from foreign entities.

Mr Salvini is facing calls from the opposition centre-left Democratic Party to appear in parliament to address the allegations.

The speaker of the Senate, who is a member of the League’s longstanding political ally, Forza Italia, refused to summon Mr Salvini.

She has dismissed the controversy as “journalistic gossip”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Rome
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Vladimir Putin said he was in ‘constant contact’ with the League

Vladimir Putin visited Rome last week and praised Mr Salvini, telling the Corriere della Sera newspaper he was “in constant contact” with the League.

“Salvini has a welcoming attitude towards our country,” the Russian president said.

Tough financing laws in Italy aimed at stamping out years of corruption have left parties struggling to fill their bank accounts.

An Italian court last year gave the League 75 years to pay back some €49m it owes the state following a trial.

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Hong Kong: Police use water cannon for first time against protesters | World News

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Hong Kong police have used water cannon against anti-government protesters for the first time during a second straight day of demonstrations.

There have been skirmishes between activists and officers following a pro-democracy march in an area known as the New Territories where tens of thousands took to the streets.

A large crowd then attended a rally in a park but another group of protesters took over a main street, putting up barricades with traffic barriers and cones.

Police tried to disperse them by firing tear gas but protesters reacted by throwing bricks and other objects towards the officers.

The violence came a day after similar clashes in the Kowloon Bay district where authorities arrested 29 people for offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.

According to the South China Morning Post, the custom-built French trucks have 15 high-pressure cannons.

Two cannons on the roof can fire more than 1,200 litres of water a minute over a distance of 50 metres. The water can be mixed with tear gas or liquid dye as well.

According to guidelines, the cannons should only be aimed at the lower limbs of the protesters.

An assistant commissioner of police overseeing operations is allowed to authorise deployment of the water cannon after assessing threats.

The trucks arrived in the city in May last year.

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Australia to block websites hosting terror content during attacks | World News

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Websites and social media companies that host terrorist material during attacks will be blocked, Australian officials have said.

The government plans to crack down on extremists exploiting digital platforms to post very violent content.

And it is considering bringing in legislation to force the platforms to improve safety.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “We are doing everything we can to deny terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes.”

The clampdown comes after suspected gunman Brenton Tarrant allegedly live-streamed on Facebook an attack on two mosques in March which claimed 51 lives in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

This led to increased scrutiny of websites and social media companies.

Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is seen in the dock during his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand March 16, 2019
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Suspected gunman Brenton Tarrant pictured in court in New Zealand

Internet domains hosting any abhorrent violent material – content showing murder, attempted murder, rape, torture, or kidnapping – recorded by those involved would also be blocked, the government said.

A crisis coordination centre would also be set up to monitor the online world for extreme violence or terrorist material.

Mr Morrison is outlining his plans at the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz, where the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US gathered.

He is trying to push countries to take more action against terrorist and violent extremist material during a series of meetings on the sidelines of the summit.

The Australian government has not elaborated on what legislative options would be used if digital platforms failed to improve safety.

Tech giants including Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter, and telecoms firms Telstra, Vodafone, TPG and Optus are set to tell the government next month how they plan to carry out the recommendations.

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North Korea test-fires ‘super-large multiple rocket launcher’ | World News

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Kim Jong Un has overseen the test-firing of what North Korea has called a “newly developed super-large multiple rocket launcher”.

The weapons test was successful and the leader said the launcher was “indeed a great weapon”, according to the country’s Central News Agency.

Photos released by state media showed rockets launching from large tubes mounted on the back of an eight-wheel vehicle.

Rocket launcher test
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South Korea’s military said the North fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast
Rocket launcher test

South Korea’s military said the North fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast and they flew for 236 miles (380km) at a maximum height of 60 miles (97km).

It was the seventh known weapons test in about a month.

And analysts said it appeared to be at least the fourth new missile system unveiled by Pyongyang since denuclearisation talks stalled at a February summit in Vietnam between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump.

The head of the secretive state said on Saturday his country must step up the development of new strategic and tactical weapons to combat “ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of the hostile forces”.

The “hostile forces” are thought to refer to the US and South Korea – two countries which recently carried out annual military drills that infuriated Pyongyang.

The North has called the drills a rehearsal for an invasion and has hit back by conducting a number of missile and rocket tests.

Mr Kim also claimed the country’s young defence scientists who developed the missiles are a “precious treasure and wealth of the country which cannot be bartered for anything”.

Kim Jong Un
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Kim Jong Un oversaw the military test
Kim Jong Un
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The leader said the launcher was “a great weapon”

Experts have said North Korea is showing off its weapons to try to get an upper hand before a possible restart of negotiations with the US over Pyongyang’s controversial nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Kim and Mr Trump met at the Korean border in late June and agreed to resume talks.

The president played down the latest launch, saying: “Kim Jong Un has been, you know, pretty straight with me… He likes testing missiles but we never restricted short-range missiles. We’ll see what happens.”









June 2019: Trump and Kim meet at Korean border

Meanwhile, South Korea’s military has begun two days of drills around a group of islets that are also claimed by Japan.

The action sparked a protest from Tokyo just days after Seoul scrapped an intelligence-sharing pact with its neighbour amid worsening relations.

The two countries have long argued over the sovereignty of the islets, called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean, which are located halfway between the countries in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

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