‘Fired up’ Ferrari in the hunt, says Vettel

Vettel’s quickest lap was nearly three-tenths of a second slower than Mercedes pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton but the four-times world champion felt he had left a better time out on the track.

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“I was not entirely happy with my lap,” the German told reporters.

“I was pretty happy with the end, maybe not so much with the opening of the lap where we lost a bit too much.

“But I think Lewis did a very good lap so I don’t think — I would have loved to — but I don’t think pole was up for grabs.

“Tomorrow I think we can do something in the race. As I said the car feels good, we’ve improved it so the pace feels much better than yesterday when we had some practice.”

Mercedes have swept the driver and constructors’ championships for the last three years running, while Ferrari failed to win a race last season.

But a raft of technical changes to the cars, including fatter tyres and improved aerodynamics, are seen levelling the playing field and Ferrari showed impressive reliability and pace during winter testing.

Vettel, who crossed to the glamour team in 2015 after four F1 titles with Red Bull, has been at pains to downplay Ferrari’s prospects and hopes of a heavyweight championship battle with three-times winner Hamilton.

But with Hamilton and retired champion Nico Rosberg hogging the front row throughout 2016, there would have been some satisfaction for Vettel to wedge his Ferrari between the Mercedes cars at Albert Park.

Rosberg’s replacement Valtteri Bottas will start third in Sunday’s race, sandwiched between Vettel and his Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen.

“I think we have a good car,” said Vettel. “I think we are working well as a team, things are improving.

“We had a mixed day yesterday but the confidence in the car was there from testing and I think we’ve showed it again today.

“It’s been a big winter for us, a lot of change we’ve gone through as a team the last 12 months. And to the better, I think the team’s getting stronger, pushing very hard. I think people are fired up and we are motivated for tomorrow.”

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Trump suffers bruising defeat as health reform effort collapses

Barely two months into his term, Trump was forced to withdraw an embattled Republican health care bill, moments before a vote, leaving his campaign pledge to dismantle his predecessor’s health care reforms unfulfilled.

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“We were very, very close,” Trump said in the Oval Office regarding support for the bill. 

But with no Democratic support, “we couldn’t quite get there.”

Trump had thrown his full political weight behind the measure, spending days arm-twisting recalcitrant Republicans, and he declared himself “disappointed” and a “little surprised” by the defeat.

The battle was an eye-opening experience for Trump, a billionaire real estate tycoon who entered the White House with no experience of politics or government, including the delicate navigations of Congress.

And the bill’s defeat marked a second major policy setback for the new president who has seen his attempt to curb travel from Muslim-majority countries twice frozen by the courts.

The president met with House Speaker Paul Ryan earlier in the day, then spoke with him by telephone when it was clear the party did not have the votes to get its plan across the finish line. 

“I told him that the best thing I think to do is to pull this bill and he agreed with that decision,” Ryan said.

But while Trump was quick to blame Democrats for not giving “a single vote” for his plan, Ryan owned up to the failures.

“I will not sugar coat this. This is a disappointing day for us,” said the top Republican in Congress.

While Trump expressed disappointment, he said he was optimistic that his lieutenants will be able to craft an “even better” piece of health care legislation. 

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The Trump-backed plan, intended to bring free-market competition to the insurance industry and lower the cost of premiums for most Americans, would also have slashed public assistance to people who have no health coverage through their employer. Some 14 million people stood to lose their coverage starting next year, according to forecasts.

Basic benefits covered under Obamacare — such as maternity care and emergency room visits — would no longer have been considered essential.

The bill now appears dead, with Republican lawmakers urging a return to the drawing board.

“Clearly the votes weren’t there,” said congressman Charlie Dent, one of several moderate House Republicans who expressed concerns over the bill’s impact on poor and elderly Americans.

“So I think it’s important now that we start over, and we do a durable, sustainable health care reform and it be done in a bipartisan way,” he added.

By pulling the bill, Ryan flew in the face of a White House which had declared negotiations over and demanded a vote on Friday.

Trump had put his reputation as a dealmaker on the line with the high-risk vote.

Congressman Mo Brooks, a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus that largely opposed the measure on grounds it was too similar to Obamacare, said he was “pleased as could be that the legislation has failed,” arguing it would have been bad for Americans.

But he refused to place blame on the president, who failed to rally enough Republicans to his cause despite days of intense negotiations.

“I don’t think this reflects on the president in any way, shape or form,” Brooks said. 

“Quite frankly President Trump did the best he could trying to sell a very bad product.”

READ THESE STORIES TOO’Law of the land’

Passage would have handed Trump a monumental victory, and put him on a path toward fulfilling his promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.

Instead, as Ryan said, “Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced.”

It was not clear when Congress would turn once again toward health care, as Trump said he would shift quickly toward tax reform, another longstanding goal of Republicans.

Ryan, the reform’s chief champion in the House, had initially planned a Thursday vote but was forced to pull the bill off the floor when it became clear it lacked sufficient backing.

But Trump issued an ultimatum to his party: Vote Friday, and if it fails, Obamacare will remain in force and he will move on to other items on his policy agenda.

Coulthard backs up in Supercars at Aus GP

Three straight wins for emerging Supercars tour giants DJR Team Penske haven’t convinced Jamie Whincup Red Bull Racing’s hold on the sport will be challenged this year.

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The six-time champion already knew they were the real deal.

Penske’s Fabian Coulthard claimed his second win of the non-championship round at the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday, finishing ahead of Whincup while his teammate Scott McLaughlin was third.

On Friday, McLaughlin took race one ahead of Coulthard before the flying Kiwis reversed the order in race two.

Coulthard should lock up overall honours given McLaughlin – his closest challenger – will start from the back row in Sunday’s fourth and final race at Albert Park.

It’s been a breakout meet for the cashed-up contenders.

Both drivers took home a second place in two races at Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 a fortnight ago but Shane van Gisbergen’s pair of wins gave the impression Red Bull Racing was still top dog.

Now, nobody’s really sure.

But Whincup saw the Penske challenge coming.

“We predicted they would be very strong at the end of last year,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great battle … but it’s not going to be a two horse race.

“The biggest winner is everyone who loves the sport and comes out and watches it.”

Coulthard, who won race three from pole position on Saturday, said he hoped to continue up the front at Symons Plains next month, with championship points on the line.

“The guys have given us a fantastic car, both Scotty and I, and it’s nice to be battling up the front,” he said.

“We’ve been to three tracks now, Eastern Creek, Adelaide and the Grand Prix. We’ve shown good speed at all of those. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”

McLaughlin said starting from the back of the grid on Sunday could actually be helpful for his title hopes.

“We’ll take some adjustments into tomorrow’s race and go a bit crazy with it and see what we can do, learn some stuff,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to coming through the field. It’s going to be a bit of fun and I’ll be learning how to pass with the new car and having a big dip.”

Labor to target ‘unfair’ family trusts

A crackdown on people using trusts to avoid paying income tax is not only fair, it will stop more than $17 billion leaking out of the federal budget, Labor argues.

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The opposition has unveiled plans to impose a 30 per cent tax rate on payments to adults from discretionary trusts.

It says this will curb the legal but unfair practice of high income-earners funnelling money through trusts to lower-earning family members, thus avoiding paying top tax rates.

“The lucky few, riding the business end of the tax system are able to opt out of paying taxes,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

“Nice deal if you can get it! The real challenge here is that we want to create one system for Australians.”

The 30 per cent level is just below the second marginal income tax rate, paid by people earning less than $87,000 a year.

The policy will “prevent leakage” in the billions from the federal budget, adding $4.1 billion to commonwealth coffers over four years and $17.2 billion over a decade, Mr Shorten said.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen issued a challenge to the Turnbull government.

“Either come out today and defend income splitting, defend the current arrangements and promise no change, or admit there’s a problem and look at adopting Labor’s proposals,” he told reporters, anticipating the government would opt for a scare campaign.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann offered a flavour of the response on Sunday morning, though conceded he didn’t know the full details of Labor’s policy.

“This is ultimately going to be a tax hike in particular on the many small business operators across Australia who use trust structures as a legitimate way of managing their financial affairs,” he told Sky News.

“They will want to see how Bill Shorten thinks he’s going to be able to take $17 billion out of their pockets.”

He said trusts were predominantly used for legitimate purposes and there was an integrity taskforce within the tax office to rout out the rorters.

Mr Bowen acknowledged there were legitimate uses, such as asset protection for small business owners or succession planning.

Labor’s “carefully calibrated” changes shouldn’t affect these.

“There are many, many hundreds of thousands of small businesses in Australia and most don’t use discretionary trusts,” he said.

“Where a small business is employing a family member … they will or can pay them a wage and of course they’ll be taxed at the normal rate and they can claim the tax-free threshold, there’s no change.”

Farm trusts, charitable trusts, disability and those set up to manage deceased estates will be exempt.

There are about 642,000 discretionary trusts operating in Australia and Labor estimates its policy will affect 315,000 of these – and 98 per cent of taxpayers will see no change.

Left-wing think tank The Australia Institute says there has been an explosion in the use of discretionary trusts in recent years and they now hold more than $3.1 trillion.

Income from trusts overwhelmingly flows to the wealthiest Australians, director Ben Oquist told reporters, with more than half going to the top 0.5 per cent of the population.

“It’s time something was done about them. This is a modest step in the right direction by Labor today,” he said.

Cats gun Dangerfield defends ‘fair’ tackle

Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield has launched a spirited defence of the tackle which may cost him a second Brownlow Medal.

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Dangerfield pinned Matthew Kreuzer’s arms and dumped the ruckman head first into the Etihad Stadium turf during Geelong’s 65-point victory on Saturday night.

Kreuzer was ushered to the Carlton rooms and wasn’t sighted for the rest of the match, with the Blues later confirming he had suffered a concussion.

The incident is certain to come under heavy scrutiny when the AFL match review panel meets on Monday.

Former Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney on Sunday said he believed Dangerfield would receive a one-game suspension.

A bemused Dangerfield said he wasn’t aware of the furore surrounding the tackle until he was shown the footage after the game.

“I actually thought he still had the ball, so that’s why I’ve turned around and put my hands in the air,” he told the Seven Network’s AFL Game Day.

“‘I haven’t been cited for anything. I felt it was a fair tackle.

“There was no umpire’s call at the time, so I don’t see an issue with it, but it’s not up to me.”

At the heart of the issue is the fact Kreuzer’s arms were pinned, meaning he had no opportunity to protect himself.

This could lead the MRP to class it as a dangerous tackle, however they must also decide whether Dangerfield used “excessive force” in bringing down the 101kg Kreuzer.

If the MRP decide Dangerfield has a case to answer, it seems almost certain he will face suspension.

The Cats star had been joint favourite to become the first back-to-back Brownlow winner since St Kilda champion Robert Harvey.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said he was confident Dangerfield would be cleared.

“I think the powers that be have been very clear that the severity of any injury only comes into play once you acknowledge there’s been a breach of the rules,” he said.

“I just don’t see that when I watch it.”

Sydney star Josh Kennedy also came to Dangerfield’s defence, adding that the incident should be judged on intent rather than the outcome.

“If it was one of my teammates, you’d be disappointed if they were to go for something like that,” he said.

Government subsidises miracle cancer drug

Thousands of Australians fighting late-stage renal and lung cancer will soon get easier access to a new miracle drug.

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From Tuesday, the federal government will subsidise Opdivo so that patients will pay just $38.80 per treatment, or $6.30 for those with a concession card.

Up to now, patients have had to fork out about $5000 a course – adding up to more than $130,000 per year.

“This drug changes lives and save lives,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday.

“For patients and their families it provides the precious gift of a full and healthy life.”

It’s one of the biggest listings ever on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, costing the government $1.1 billion.

The drug has been credited with saving the life of AFL star Jarryd Roughead among others.

It’s a type of immunotherapy that helps make cancer cells more vulnerable to attack by your body’s own immune cells.

Unlike conventional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, it activates white blood cells that help fight disease so they can attack cancer cells in your body.

The federal government says it is more effective and safer than current therapies and can improve and extend the life of patients.

“The hardest part of this role is to witness families facing the most tragic of medical diagnoses,” Mr Hunt said.

“The most uplifting is to see breakthroughs that save lives , transform families and give people real hope – and that’s exactly what Opdivo does.”

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Australia, with about 8000 people dying from the disease each year.

Some 3500 new cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed annually, making it the ninth most common cancer in Australia.

Peak bodies Lung Health Australia and Kidney Health Australia both welcomed the drug’s listing, saying it could make a significant difference to patients’ lives.

Comedian Chris Lilley apologises for blackface video posted after Elijah Doughty protests

The comedian Chris Lilley has apologised after facing criticism online for a blackface video posted to his Instagram account.

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Social media users reacted with anger when the music video was reposted to Lilley’s account on Saturday.

The video – titled Squashed N**** – features Lilley as his Angry Boys character S.Mouse.

pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/VAmYljgROl

— Chris Lilley (@ChrisLilley) July 29, 2017

It was posted hours after hundreds of people took to the streets of Melbourne to protest over the death of Indigenous boy Elijah Doughty.

Some Twitter users claimed the post was insensitive at a time when Indigenous people are mourning the death of the 14-year-old boy.

The video was deleted from Lilley’s Instagram account and the comedian issued an apology on Twitter.

He clarified that the post “is not connected in any way to current news stories”.

In a time where this country is mourning the death of a child run down this cheap excuse of comedy drops. The only joke here is Chris. pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/uLeL0dgbka

— Ryan Griffen (@RyanJGriffen) July 29, 2017

“My social media pages are run for me to give fans nostalgic pics or clips from previous shows,” Lilley said in a statement on Twitter.

“A fan-made remix of a song from Angry Boys made in 2009 was posted recently. It is not connected in any way to current news stories.

“I apologise for any hurt caused by the misinterpretation.”

I used to defend @ChrisLilley’s comedic right to play diff ethnicities, but this new video has proven me wrong. Not linking it, too horrible

— Hau (@hauiebeast) July 29, 2017

A 56-year-old man was last week acquitted of manslaughter over the death of Doughty in Kalgoorlie, and was instead sentenced to three years jail on a lesser charge.

The man admitted to dangerous driving occasioning death after he hit the teen with his ute. He had been chasing the boy, who had stolen his motorcycle.

The man said the motorbike veered in front of his car and he was unable to avoid the collision.

The Supreme Court jury deliberated for six hours before finding the man – whose identity is suppressed – guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death.

— With AAP

Turnbull told to stop avoiding WA issues

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would be dreading this week’s visit to Western Australia following a poll suggesting the Coalition is heading for an election rout in the state, Premier Mark McGowan said.

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The PM and his cabinet head west this week, but he has made the trip only twice in 11 months – the last time in February before the WA election when he damaged former premier Colin Barnett’s campaign by backing away from a promise to lift it’s GST share.

“He knows these issues are here, he needs to deal with them, better to bite the bullet and get it over with, rip the bandaid off rather than procrastinate and make excuses,” Mr McGowan told reporters.

A Galaxy poll published on Sunday indicates a swing of six points and a loss of four Liberal-held seats across WA, which would deliver Bill Shorten power.

Those potential lost seats include cabinet ministers Michael Keenan, Christian Porter and Ken Wyatt.

If Mr Turnbull wants to improve his stocks, he must stop pork barrelling in other states and fix the flawed GST distribution model that gave WA by far the least amount and sent billions of dollars to other states, the premier said.

The PM announced to a standing ovation at the Liberal state conference in Perth last August he would fix the system and lift WA’s share, but then all but walked away from that promise on his next visit in February.

“The federal treasurer and or the prime minister can sign a letter to the grants commission today and the formula will change,” Mr McGowan said.

“That’s all he has to do or can he top up Western Australia to 80 cents or 90 cents, whatever he’d like to do it is all within Mr Turnbull’s hands.

The Galaxy found only 21 per cent of respondents trusted the PM to change the GST distribution system, while 61 per cent did not.

The Coalition government has tried to appease WA by launching a Productivity Commission inquiry into the system and providing $1.6 billion in top-up funding for state road and rail projects, although that money was merely reallocated from previous state government projects.

He was speaking at the launch of tunnel-boring work at one of those projects, the $1.86 billion new Forretfield-Airport link train line.

Mr McGowan said he hoped to meet with Mr Turnbull but nothing had been organised yet during the visit that will include Perth and regional towns including Broome, Albany and others.

178 smuggled Central American migrants rescued from truck in Mexico

Authorities said a total of 178 people were found in the tractor-trailer truck in the town of Tantima in Mexico’s Veracruz state.

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Officials said occupants of the truck on Saturday narrowly averted tragedy, realizing at some point that they had been abandoned by the traffickers. A few managed to escape the vehicle and enlist the aid of local residents who gave them food and water.

The Central Americans were then transported by police to a migration center, where they were given medical assistance before authorities began the process of returning them to their countries of origin.

A Mexican military source told AFP that most of the migrants were adults, although there were also a handful of minors found in the truck.

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Their rescue comes less than a week after the horrific suffocation deaths of 10 migrants who were trapped in an 18 wheel truck and discovered last Sunday in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas.

Authorities said as many as 200 migrants may have been crammed into the trailer found in Texas, many of whom had to be hospitalized. Some survivors fled the parking lot in waiting cars, according to witness accounts.

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in a statement called the “senseless” migrant deaths the result of a human trafficking “network of abuse and death.”

0:00 Driver charged in deaths of 10 migrants in Texas Share Driver charged in deaths of 10 migrants in Texas

“These smugglers have no regard for human life and seek only profits,” said Kelly, a retired military general who has been to Mexico twice to discuss immigration, human trafficking and the sprawling cross-border drug trade.

Officials in the United States say fewer migrants are making the perilous overland journey to America from Central American and Mexico in recent months, in large part because of harsh, anti-immigrant rhetoric from US President Donald Trump, who came to power in January. 

Migrants from Central America and Mexico willing to make the dangerous trip risk being victimized by thieves, criminal gangs and unscrupulous traffickers who sometimes take their money and abandon them in desperate conditions on either side of the US border.

Veracruz and the surrounding area has become one of the most dangerous regions for undocumented migrants making their way to the United States, according to rights groups, in part because of drug cartels like the notorious Zetas, which often charges a fee before allowing travelers safe passage.

Mostert on top at Ipswich Supercars

Their careers have gone on different paths in the past two years but on Sunday Ford’s Chaz Mostert got the chance to outshine fellow Supercars young gun Scott McLaughlin.

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Mostert secured just his second race win this year with a strong performance in Sunday’s 200km race at Queensland Raceway, denying championship leader McLaughlin a perfect weekend in Ipswich.

The victory was a relief for Prodrive Racing Australia (PRA) star Mostert, who is still rebuilding his career after a horror accident at Bathurst in 2015 where he broke his leg and wrist.

The 2014 Bathurst champion has had to watch on as 24-year-old McLaughlin has, in that time, risen from rising star to championship contender after his switch to DJR Team Penske.

Mostert believes Sunday’s win shows he and PRA are gradually getting back to their best.

“We haven’t been that far behind these guys and I think today we definitely put it all together,” the 25-year-old said.

“It felt good … at the end of the day it shows that we can mix it with them.

“We just did a good job today, it’s as simple as that.”

After Saturday’s pole position and race win, McLaughlin continued his recent dominance by securing his fifth consecutive pole in the morning’s qualifying run.

A poor start allowed Mostert to take control of the race but a gamble on an early pit stop allowed McLaughlin to claw his way back up the field for a second-place finish.

With championship rival Jamie Whincup finishing fourth, New Zealander McLaughlin was pleased to leave Ipswich with a healthy 129-point lead in the title standings.

“Today was almost the best thing apart from a win,” he said.

“We didn’t quite have the pace of Chaz, Chaz was strong, and at the end of the day we made the best of what we could and if second’s that, I’m pretty happy.”

Defending series champion Shane van Gisbergen was third to complete a pair of podium finishes but remains fourth in the drivers standings, 261 points behind McLaughlin.

The championship’s next stop is Sydney Motorsport Park on August 18-20.

Bulldogs find AFL groove against Bombers

The AFL premiers are back.

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Or they just might be, on the basis of Western Bulldogs’ 30-point run-and-gun win over Essendon on Sunday.

Luke Beveridge’s side stood up in the match they simply had to win to keep their flag defence alive.

Jason Johannisen roared with four goals and Marcus Bontempelli showed his class in the 19.13 (127) to 13.19 (97) success.

The Bulldogs broke open the contest in the third term, kicking seven goals to outgun the Bombers in an old-fashioned shootout.

In the high-scoring contest, Joe Daniher was the dominant forward, kicking six goals to take the lead in the race for the Coleman Medal.

But the Bulldogs had more routes to goal, beginning with Johannisen.

In front of a crowd of 48,754 — the biggest to attend the fixture this century — the Dogs grand final hero began as a forward and sparked his side.

Lukas Webb, Tory Dickson and Johannisen kicked two early goals each as the Bulldogs reeled in an early deficit and began their assault.

The Dogs were playing with the run and dare absent for much of their premiership defence.

Daniher was playing a lone hand in the Bombers attack but, as solo shows go, it was enough to keep Essendon in touch.

His four first-half goals kept the Bombers within a kick at halftime.

Two minutes after the break, he had a fifth as the Bulldogs failed to find a match-up to curb his influence.

Then, in the premiership quarter, the premiers re-emerged.

Seven different Bulldogs — including leaders Bob Murphy, Johannisen, Bontempelli and Jordan Roughead — kicked goals in the third term.

It was just as well they did as they didn’t kick another until Bontempelli finally closed out the contest late in the final quarter.

The floodgates were opened, with four late majors blowing out the margin.

After seeing the club record its first run of three straight wins since last year’s finals series, Beveridge said he was satisfied.

“There’s no doubt it was a manic game, a turnover-oriented game,” he said.

“I was really pleased and happy with the performance … we just managed to do enough.”

Essendon will rue an inaccurate day out, including six behinds and two out-of-bounds in the last term with the match on the line.

John Worsfold’s side drop out of the eight at the Bulldogs’ expense, but retain a pathway to September with an easier-than-average run home.

Worsfold said he was frustrated with skill errors in the “frenetic” game.

“Both teams were prepared to go really fast which means there was higher risk of turnovers,” he said.

“The contested ball and stoppage stuff, they won that area of the game.

“Our kicking was below what we would expect of each other.”

One dead as Kenyan police end siege at home of deputy president

Ruto and his family were not at the vast property in the northwest of the country during Saturday’s attack, which came less than two weeks before the country votes in high-stakes elections.

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Kenya’s police chief Joseph Boinnet said Sunday morning that the assailant had just been shot and killed and “the situation is under control”.

Further details and the motive for the attack remained unclear.

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Boinnet said one assailant armed with a machete attacked and badly injured a police officer who was part of Ruto’s security team, seized his gun and then entered the compound.

Police reinforcements arrived and the attacker fled into a building under construction near the entrance gate.

But several security sources told AFP on Saturday that the assault was staged by several people using guns.

“There are armed people who staged the attack and have shot the GSU officer and stolen his gun,” one security official said, referring to the elite police General Security Unit deployed to guard Ruto’s house.

– Tensions mounting ahead of vote –

Ruto had left the house shortly before the attack to attend rallies alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta, his running mate who faces a tight re-election contest on August 8 against longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The attack occurred despite the round-the-clock presence of GSU guards at the property, near the town of Eldoret, some 300 kilometres (200 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi.

The Daily Nation newspaper Sunday said “questions remained on how such a daring attack could be allowed to happen” on one of the best protected residences in the country.

Ruto’s home sits in Kenya’s western Rift Valley area, the flashpoint for an outbreak of election violence after the disputed 2007 polls that killed 1,100 people and tarnished Kenya’s image as a regional beacon of safety and stability.

According to opinion polls, this year’s election will be close and tensions have been rising.

Odinga has repeatedly claimed the government is scheming to steal the election, while Kenyatta has accused Odinga of trying to delay the polls.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of threats and voter intimidation in Naivasha, a flashpoint town in 2007 and one of the potential hotspots in this year’s election.

In the Rift Valley, hate speech flyers have been circulating and some local residents have already left their homes.

The 2007 bloodshed haunted both Ruto and Kenyatta long after it ended, when the International Criminal Court put both on trial for orchestrating the violence.

Those charges were later dropped, with ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda blaming a relentless campaign of victim intimidation for making a trial impossible.

Trump rips into Republicans after health care defeat

President Donald Trump lashed out at fellow Republicans in Congress on Saturday after suffering a major setback when the Senate failed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

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Two Republican women – Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – along with John McCain joined Democrats in a dramatic thumbs-down vote that triggered the stunning collapse of Trump’s health reforms.

But the president demanded that lawmakers revisit the hot-button issue, taunting them by saying that otherwise they are no more than “total quitters.”

“Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!” he wrote in a series of angry tweets over the space of several hours.

0:00 Obamacare repeal fails in US senate Share Obamacare repeal fails in US senate

However, some lawmakers are also seeking a new path on health reform. 

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy and Dean Heller met with Trump on Friday on a plan that would task states – rather than the federal government – with crafting health care plans.

In an ominous warning, Trump appeared to threaten lawmakers that he would cut their health care benefits if they don’t “quickly” approve a new bill.

“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!” he wrote.

In an early morning tweet, he urged senators to end the legislative filibuster. Senate rules set a 60-vote minimum threshold to pass most legislation.

Yet the Republicans’ Obamacare repeal measures only required a 51-vote majority in the Senate due to the process the chamber’s leaders chose to push it through. 

0:00 Trump comments on new chief of staff appointment Share Trump comments on new chief of staff appointment

Republicans currently have 52 seats and Vice President Mike Pence casts a vote when there is a tie.

But the 60-vote requirement makes senators “look like fools,” Trump said, adding that “8 Dems totally control the U.S. Senate.”

“Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don’t go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time,” he wrote.

There are growing signs, however, that Trump’s threats against skeptical Republicans are losing potency.

Republicans not only killed efforts to dismantle Obamacare, but also joined Democrats in supporting a new sanctions regime against Russia.

The party rebellion is a deeply ominous sign for Trump, whose political brand is defined by his dealmaking acumen and a take-no-prisoners approach to politics.

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