Putin says Russia have identified suspects in UK poisoning saga

President Vladimir Putin said today that Russia has identified the two men that Britain named as suspects in the poisoning of a former Russian spy, and that there is "nothing criminal" about them.

Britain last week charged two alleged agents of Russia's military intelligence agency in absentia with the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Britain blames the Russian government for the attack, a claim that Moscow has vehemently denied.

Speaking at a panel of an economic conference in Russia's Far East Putin insisted they do not work for the military.

"We know who these people are, we have found them," Putin said. "There is nothing special or criminal about it, I can assure you."

Asked by the panel's moderator if the men work for the military, Putin replied that they are "civilians" and called on the men to come forward.

"I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today: They should go to some media outlet. I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves."

After the Skripals were poisoned March 4, Britain and more than two dozen other countries expelled a total of 150 Russian spies working under diplomatic cover. Russia kicked out a similar number of those countries' envoys.

Dawn Sturgess and her partner are believed to have fallen ill after touching a contaminated item, four months after the poisoning of a Russian spy. Source: 1 NEWS

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the use of a chemical weapon in the city of Salisbury, which left a British woman dead and four people, including Skripal and his daughter, seriously ill, was carried out by officers of the GRU intelligence service and almost certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state."

Police say there is enough evidence to charge to pair. Source: 1 NEWS


Topics



Are there cracks in the coalition? Disagreement with NZ First forced Labour to abandon announcing details of Crown-Māori Relations portfolio

Cracks are appearing in the coalition Government with the the big influence of Winston Peters putting heat on the Prime Minister and hampering policy announcements and the passing of legislation.

1 NEWS understands disagreements within the coalition forced Labour to abandon announcing detail of its Crown-Māori Relations portfolio earlier this week.

Monday's cabinet meeting was a chance for the Government to lay out the detail of its new Crown-Māori portfolio, but in an unusual twist the information didn't follow.

"I'm not going to pre-announce cabinet papers," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after the meeting.

1 NEWS now understands it was due to New Zealand First and Labour disagreeing over the detail in cabinet, postponing the announcement

In Parliament today, National's Gerry Brownlee said New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters "still hasn't stopped acting as prime minister. He is the veto on everything this Government does".

Mr Peters was unwilling to answer questions about the matter today.

Asked by 1 NEWS if New Zealand First veted the establishment of an agency for the Crown-Maori portfolio in the Ministry of Justice, he replied: "Well look I can't answer that question 'cause I don't have any recall of that."

"Send me a written question, I'll give you an answer because I'm not going to do it off the top of my head. I don't have a very present recall of that."

Asked why he can't recall given that cabinet was only held on Monday, Mr Peters said: "Well because I want to know the exact detail on that before I answer the question."

But NZ First minister Shane Jones didn't hide his contempt just yesterday, telling reporters: "[We] need to be realistic about what we can achieve in the next 24 months."

During Question Time today, National leader Simon Bridges asked the Prime Minister: "Can we no longer believe ministerial press statements unless they're signed off by Mr Peters?"

Ms Ardern replied: "No, ridiculous."

It is the latest issue in a string of disagreements.

Labour was set to repeal the three strikes law but was forced by NZ First to back down.

Then there's the refugee quota. Labour is keen to double it, but NZ First is in no hurry. 

And recently there's been disagreement on employment law, including whether to scrap the youth pay rate.

Asked recently on TVNZ1's Q+A if Labour can't get rid of the youth pay rate because NZ First won't agree, Employment Minister Willie Jackson said: "We agree to disagree sometimes."

Mr Bridges said today he thinks "people are talking about the tail wagging the dog for the first time right now in this Government".

Ms Ardern said: "We debate a number of issues, this is one of many, and we have good robust processes for each."

The Prime Minister was sticking to her mantra today, saying in the House: "All other policies go through a cabinet process."

It's a Cabinet process that's not always straight forward with a coalition government.

The influence of Winston Peters is also believed to be putting the Prime Minister under pressure from rival MPs. Source: 1 NEWS


Apple expected to unveil bigger, pricier iPhone tomorrow

Apple is expected to unveil its biggest and most expensive iPhone tomorrow as part of a lineup of three new models aimed at widening the product's appeal amid slowing sales growth.

Most of the buzz is swirling around a rumoured iPhone that is supposed to boast a 6.5-inch OLED screen, up from 5.8 inches on the existing iPhone X.

OLED is a step up from traditional LCD technology in offering a display without a backlight, so black is truly black rather than simply dark.

If the speculation pans out, the even-bigger iPhone would represent Apple's attempt to feed consumers' appetite for increasingly bigger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video, as well as take photos wherever they are.

The iPhone X, a dramatically redesigned model released last fall, got rid of the home button and introduced facial-recognition technology to unlock the device. It was the first mass-market smartphone to demand a $US1,000 starting price.

Although the iPhone X didn't fulfill analysts' lofty sales expectations, it fared well enough for Apple to up the ante with the bigger model, whose price is expected to unveil Wednesday.

Apple also is expected to release an iPhone with minor updates to last year's model and another version made of cheaper materials, including a 6.1-inch LCD screen.

Even so, the cheaper iPhone is still expected to sell for $US650 to $US750. The cheaper phone also is expected to lose the home button. Price cuts for older models, with the home button, are also likely.

Names for the new devices aren't known. The company may also announce a new smartwatch. Apple didn't comment ahead of Wednesday's event, which is being held at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.

By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently.  

During the second quarter, which is typically slow for Apple, China's Huawei Technologies surpassed Apple as the second-largest seller of smartphones, based on Gartner's calculations. Samsung remained in the lead.

A man holds an iPhone mobile phone handset.
A man holds an iPhone mobile phone handset. Source: File Image


Topics

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

National's Gerry Brownlee accused of 'phone bullying' after conversation with junior staff member at law firm

Allegations of phone bullying are being levelled at National MP Gerry Brownlee after a conversation he had with a junior staff member about a steel mesh class action.

However, the MP for Ilam in Christchurch strongly denies what he calls "outrageous accusations".

Mr Brownlee says he was just doing his job raising questions about the class action with a law firm, prompted by a letter placed in the mailboxes of his constituents.

Adina Thorn says a junior staff member at her firm was left so upset by Mr Brownlee’s 17 minute phone call that she had to go home.

"My office received a telephone call from a gentleman who didn't provide a name but then proceeded to ask a copious number of questions was aggressive, bordering on irrational and showed no respect for the steel mesh victims in the debacle," Ms Thorn said.

Ms Thorn said at the end of the call the man identified himself as National MP Gerry Brownlee.

Mr Brownlee’s version of events is in stark contrast to the account.

"I wasn't angry, and I wasn't aggressive. I represent a constituency where there's been a lot of new houses built in the period that they're talking about and I was actually worried about people receiving a letter that could create quite a bit of alarm for them," Mr Brownlee told 1 NEWS.

His call was prompted by a letter encouraging owners of new Christchurch builds to allow the law firm to investigate if they have non-compliant steel in their homes, after three mesh companies were found guilty of selling the product.

The law firm used a public relations company to complain to National leader Simon Bridges' office about the call and are awaiting a response.

The National MP for Ilam strongly denies what he calls “outrageous accusations”, saying he was just doing his job. Source: 1 NEWS


US woman accused of having fake firefighter husband to scam people for donations

An American woman is suspected of making up a firefighter husband to scam people into giving her thousands of dollars that she said would be donated to Cal Fire crews battling wildfires in the state.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department are investigating her and say the San Clemente woman, Ashley Bemis, 28, received $11,000 worth of donations in cash and gifts.

On August 10 Bemis posted on the San Clemente Facebook page that she would be delivering food and other items needed by her husband and other California Department of Foresty and Fire protection firefighters and she requested the public's help.

She wrote in a post “Shane works for Cal Fire and is out on the Holy Fire right now."

“I also have two other family members and many friends out in the fire and other fires burning here in California. I received a text today from Shane saying it’s pretty much a living hell out there battling the unpredictable Holy Hell Fire,” reported the Los Angeles Times

The Facebook post has since been deleted.

Community members in the Facebook group, including one who was a Cal Fire employee said they had suspicions about the woman and reported her to the police.

Carrie Braun a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s department said: "A Cal Fire employee ran the name ‘Shane Goodman’ in an internal database and learned that the person is not a Cal Fire employee.”

Investigators have interviewed Bemis , several people who donated to her and the owners of businesses where Bemis collected donations.

She hasn't been arrested or charged.