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France warns scammers are preying on Notre-Dame donors

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Fraudsters are taking advantage of the Notre-Dame fire to fool donors into handing over cash believing they are helping to rebuild the gutted Paris cathedral, officials have warned.

The French Heritage Foundation, which has so far collected more than 13 million euros ($14.5 million) from individual donors to help restore the gothic landmark, said any phone or email appeals were fake.

“A number of scams have been flagged to us both in France and abroad,” the foundation said Wednesday, insisting it issues no appeals by phone, mail or email for donations. “All of these initiatives are fraudulent.”

The foundation is accepting donations through its website (don.fondation-patrimoine.org), its Facebook page, PayPal, a Paris metro station and by SMS for those in France.

Culture Minister Franck Riester on Tuesday warned people to be vigilant of websites claiming to support the reconstruction of Notre-Dame, which suffered heavy damage in Monday’s blaze.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the monument by 2024, when France hosts the summer Olympics.

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Pompeo ups pressure on Russia over four MH17 accused

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Moscow must ensure that those charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 face justice, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, after international investigators accused three Russians and a Ukrainian over the disaster.

The trial of the four men with military and intelligence links will start in the Netherlands in March next year, although they are likely to be tried in absentia as neither Russia nor Ukraine extradites their nationals.

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Fed opens door to rate cut amid growing ‘uncertainties’

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The Federal Reserve opened the door to an interest rate cut on Wednesday, vowing to act to keep the economy growing as uncertainties about trade and other issues mount.

US Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell said trade friction and slowing growth worldwide have led many central bankers to feel the case for an interest rate cut has "strengthened" but most still want to see more data before making a move.

But one policymaker dissented in the vote, advocating for an immediate cut -- something President Donald Trump has been calling for loudly and which many economists say is necessary given the damage done by the escalating trade frictions.

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Russians to prod Putin on poverty, personal life as ratings fall

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Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.

The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.

Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.

Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.

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