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Politics

Boris Johnson news: Priti Patel department facing 'tropical storms' amid calls for new bullying investigation, and claims Windrush report watered down




Home secretary Priti Patel is facing fresh accusations of bullying, as former ministers and civil servants allege “aggressive” and “vile” conduct when she was in charge of the Department for International Development (Dfid).



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Apps Gadgets Games Hackers Technology

Elon Musk calls Bill Gates ‘underwhelming’ after he buys a Porsche rather than a Tesla



Elon Musk has called Bill Gates “underwhelming” after the Microsoft founder bought a Porsche rather than a Tesla.

The insult was posted on Mr Musk’s Twitter feed after he was alerted to the fact that Mr Gates had opted to buy Porsche’s battery-powered Taycan sports car.

The Tesla boss then suggested he had been disappointed in discussions with Bill Gates.

“My conversations with Gates have been underwhelming tbh,” he wrote in response to a Twitter user who alerted him to Mr Gates’s decision.


Bill Gates admitted to having bought the Porsche during a video interview with YouTube star Marques Brownlee, in which the pair discussed electric vehicles.

Mr Gates actually began by lavishing praise on Tesla, saying that “if you had to name one company that’s helped drive [an effort to lower emissions], it’s them”.

But he said that he had in fact bought a “very, very cool” Porsche Taycan for himself, eschewing Tesla’s vehicles.

And he also suggested that there remained problems with electric vehicles, such as the high price and the problem of “range anxiety”, which leaves drivers concerned their battery might run out with no way of quickly charging them up.


In a follow-up tweet, Mr Musk was forced to admit that Bill Gates was at least impressive in one respect: his ability to jump over a chair.


Mr Musk’s remarks about Mr Gates are far from the first time he has been rude about fellow tech billionaires. He has in the past attacked Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for allegedly copying a plan to create an internet satellite, and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg for his perceived failure to understand the danger posed by artificial intelligence.

 



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Lifestyle Style

Ben Affleck calls divorce from Jennifer Garner ‘the biggest regret of my life’



Ben Affleck says his divorce from Jennifer Garner is “the biggest regret” of his life.

The actor opened up to The New York Times about his personal life, including the end of his relationship with Garner and his history with alcohol abuse and sobriety.

Affleck and Garner, who have three children together, were married in 2005 and divorced in 2018.

“The biggest regret of my life is this divorce,” Affleck said of the split.

He elaborated on his feelings, adding: “Shame is really toxic. There is no positive byproduct of shame. It’s just stewing in a toxic, hideous feeling of low self-worth and self-loathing.”

Affleck went on to say it’s not healthy for him to “obsess over” over past “failures”.

“I have certainly made mistakes. I have certainly done things that I regret. But you’ve got to pick yourself up, learn from it, learn some more, try to move forward,” he added.

The actor recently played a former high school basketball student who struggles with alcoholism and is offered a job as a coach at his alma mater in The Way Back.

The film will be released on 6 March in the US and 24 April in the UK. 



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Music

Dave calls Boris Johnson ‘a real racist’ during performance of ‘Black’ at Brit Awards



Dave added lyrics to his song “Black” at the Brit Awards to call Boris Johnson a “real racist”.

The crowd cheered on as the Streatham-born rapper made the change during a stirring rendition of the song, which is taken from his album Psychodrama

In our five-star review, we called the record “one of the most thoughtful, moving and necessary albums of 2019.”

This year’s ceremony, which marks its 40th anniversary, is being presented by Jack Whitehall.

British singer Mabel kickstarted the evening with a performance of “Don’t Call Me Up” before winning Best Female Solo Artist.


Harry Styles performed at the event, which will also see performances from Stormzy and Billie Eilish, who will sing new Bond theme No Time to Die.

Follow along with the live blog here.



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Apps Gadgets Games Hackers Technology

Facebook proposes ‘rules for the internet’ as it calls for more regulation for itself



Facebook has suggested “new rules for the internet” as it continues to insist it must be regulated.

The company and other social networks have faced criticism over the kinds of content they allow to be published on their platform.

Politicians and experts around the world have criticised the site over its failure to stop the spread of false stories, misleading political advertising and extremist content.

In recent months, Facebook has argued that the best way to fix those problems would be for regulators to hold social networks to a set of rules, which boss Mark Zuckerberg has argued would be “better for everyone”.


It echoes lawmakers’ suggestions that the company should face safeguards that could force it to take more responsibility for problem content, though critics have argued that regulation could further concentrate power in the hands of larger companies who can better deal with the new rules.

Last week, the Government published early proposals for new online harms regulation, including placing broadcasting regulator Ofcom in charge of holding internet companies to account should they fail to uphold a duty of care to users.

Facebook has now published its own recommendations for future regulation, which suggest placing more accountability on companies to do content moderation, which it argues will be a strong incentive for firms to be more responsible.

Sharing the company’s guidelines on Twitter, Facebook’s head of global affairs and communications Sir Nick Clegg said: “Facebook wants to work with policymakers to create new rules for the internet.

“We published a White Paper that offers five principles that could frame content regulation, especially outside the US, that keeps the internet safe and protects free expression.”

The guidelines suggest regulations should “respect the global scale of the internet and the value of cross-border communications” and encourage coordination between different international national regulators, as well as look to protect freedom of expression.

In terms of enforcing new rules, it also calls on regulators to develop an understanding of technology which still allows technology firms to innovate rather than issuing blanket bans on certain processes or tools, and asks regulators to take into account the “severity and prevalence” of harmful content in question, its status in law and efforts already underway to address the content.

Writing in the Financial Times, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said the company supported the need for new online regulation even if it damaged Facebook financially.

“I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook’s business in the near term but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term,” he said.

“These are problems that need to be fixed and that affect our industry as a whole. If we don’t create standards that people feel are legitimate, they won’t trust institutions or technology.

“To be clear, this isn’t about passing off responsibility. Facebook is not waiting for regulation; we’re continuing to make progress on these issues ourselves.

“But I believe clearer rules would be better for everyone. The internet is a powerful force for social and economic empowerment. Regulation that protects people and supports innovation can ensure it stays that way.”

The social network said it wanted its recommendations to spark further debate about the issue of online regulation, and confirmed it planned to publish more papers on the subject of elections and privacy later this year.

“If designed well, new frameworks for regulating harmful content can contribute to the internet’s continued success by articulating clear ways for government, companies, and civil society to share responsibilities and work together,” Facebook’s vice president of content policy, Monika Bickert said.

“Designed poorly, these efforts risk unintended consequences that might make people less safe online, stifle expression and slow innovation.”

Additional reporting by agencies



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Culture

Philip Pullman calls Boris Johnson a ‘greedy brute’ amid luxury Caribbean holiday controversy



His Dark Materials writer Philip Pullman has called Boris Johnson a “greedy brute” following the prime minister’s claim that a Tory donor paid for his £15,000 holiday in the Caribbean.

Johnson claimed the luxury trip to Mustique was paid for by David Ross, a Conservative donor who co-founded the Carphone Warehouse chain, in an entry into the Commons register of members’ interests.

But the businessman denied funding the trip, prompting calls from Labour for Johnson to “fess up” or face a parliamentary inquiry.


Reacting to the news, Pullman tweeted: “Why can’t the greedy brute pay for his own holiday?”

He then replied “absolutely” to a tweet saying: “NOBODY likes Johnson that much. The donor HAS to be expecting something in return.”

Pullman, who is best known for writing the His Dark Materials novels, which was adapted into a popular BBC show, has expressed his disapproval of the prime minister before.

In November last year, he compared Johnson to a parasitic worm.



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Politics

Labour candidate calls for leadership contests to be suspended over fresh data controversy



A candidate is calling for the contests to be Labour’s new leader and deputy to be suspended in yet another controversy about the party’s use of data.

Rosena Allin-Khan, who is running to be deputy, urged fellow candidates to adopt her stand – after Labour suddenly refused access to full membership lists from Friday, as promised.

She protested it would leave some members voting without having been contacted directly by the candidates, when the ballot finally opens in a week’s time – penalising those lesser-known.


The fresh controversy comes hard-on-the-heels of Labour reporting Keir Starmer, the leadership favourite, to the data watchdog over data-hacking allegations which he strongly denies.

Before that, The Independent revealed how his chief rival, Rebecca Long-Bailey, broke the rule on contacting members but was quietly cleared by Jeremy Corbyn’s allies.

Ms Allin-Khan said: “We were supposed to get the data tomorrow but are now told it’ll be Saturday and we’ll only be sent data on some members/supporters, not all.

“It is my belief that the ballot should be postponed until all the data is processed and each campaign has had a decent amount of time to access it. Otherwise, the most well-known candidates will have an unfair advantage.

“I hope every candidate for leader and deputy will agree – as well as their supporters. This needs to be a fair contest, and delaying the start of the ballot will ensure its integrity.”

Ms Allin-Khan pointed out that candidates were being asked to pay £5,000 each to tap into the membership lists and contact the race’s voters themselves.

Labour appeared to have told the candidates that it would take more time to make the full data available, although the reason was that was unclear.

There was no immediate comment from any of the other candidates in either race, with Angela Rayner the hot favourite to be chosen as the new deputy.

The row comes as Emily Thornberry waits to learn whether she has secured enough backing from local constituency parties to stay in the leadership race, with support from 33 parties required.

All the candidates in the deputy race – who also include Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler and Ian Murray – already enjoy sufficient support.

Labour insisted full data on members would be released on Saturday, but said there would be delay before the release from affiliates, the trade unions and other supportive organisations.

The Starmer camp reacted with fury to the accusations against him, describing them as “utter nonsense” and calling for the complaint to be withdrawn.

Ms Long-Bailey was also dragged into the row over sharing links to a Labour phone-banking system called Dialogue with volunteers, potentially allowing access to more than half a million party members prematurely – which she in turn denied.

Voting is meant to get underway on 21 February, with the successor to Mr Corbyn declared on 4 April.



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Video

Harrison Ford calls Trump a ‘son of a b****’ in latest attack on president



Harrison Ford has called US President Donald Trump a “son of a b****” in a televised interview.

Talking to Jimmy Kimmel on the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Star Wars actor was asked if he had seen the reviews for his new film, Jack London adaptation The Call of the Wild.

Kimmel gestured towards an mocked-up poster for the film, plastered with quotes from Trump, such as “this was a perfect call” and “this was a great call”. 

The comments obviously were not made in reference to Ford’s film, but about the President’s infamous phone call to Ukraine that sparked the recent impeachment inquiry.


Enjoying the joke, Ford responded: “That’s the first thing that son of a b**** has done for me – ever.”

The 77-year-old actor has criticised Trump before for his regressive environmental policies, saying he was “on the wrong side of history”.

Trump was acquitted of impeachment in the Republican-majority Senate, with the decision not to subpoena witnesses stirring up a great deal of controversy in the States.



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Video

‘Our future lies with Europe’: Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy calls for close ties with EU



Labour should tear up whatever deal Boris Johnson reaches with Brussels and renegotiate a much closer relationship with the EU to boost the economy and ensure cooperation on security, migration and the climate crisis, leadership candidate Lisa Nandy has suggested.

Ms Nandy said that any question of rejoining the EU was for “future generations” to decide but told The Independent she wanted “a closer economic and political alliance with Europe” than Mr Johnson is pursuing, including access to the single market.

The Wigan MP was one of the loudest voices during the Brexit debate to warn that Labour risked losing swathes of voters in the north of England and the Midlands if it allowed itself to be perceived as a Remain party by backing a second referendum.


However, speaking during a campaign visit to Worksop – part of the totemic Bassetlaw seat, which fell to the Tories in the December election for the first time since 1929 – she said the prime minister had taken “all the wrong cues” on Brexit from his victory at the polls by treating it as a green light to “smash apart our relationship with Europe”.

“We’re outside of the EU,” said Ms Nandy. “That is that, it’s finished, we’ve left and that is now settled for some time and it’s up to future generations what they want to do about EU membership.

“But our future lies with Europe on national security, on climate crisis, on the refugee crisis and the mass migration of people fuelled by climate change, and on trade and jobs and investment. On all of these things, our future is European.”

Asked if this meant she would renegotiate the limited Canada-style free-trade agreement or no-deal “Australia-style” Brexit that the PM hopes to seal in December, she replied: “Yes, I’ve always believed that we need a closer economic and political alliance with Europe, with the EU.

“Single-market access is really important because we’re a service economy. Our businesses are not going to suddenly stop trading with the EU just because Boris Johnson says our future looks like a deal with Trump.”

In place of “clunky” one-on-one trade deals with the US and other countries, the UK might be better seeking “pluralistic” arrangements with groups of countries that have similar service-based economies, stable democracies and the rule of law, such as Canada, Japan and New Zealand, she said.

Pushing for closer ties with the single market risks the accusation that Ms Nandy might reopen the door to free movement of EU workers.

But she said Johnson had misread the mood of voters who disliked the EU’s drift towards political integration but appreciated the close trading links permitted by membership of the former European Economic Community (EEC). 

“The Tory story is about this small island nation that punches above its weight and goes it alone in the world,” she said. “I think we have to tell a story about a country that is attractive for people to invest in and to come and work in and which is outward-looking and internationalist and prepared to work with our European friends and allies in order to achieve that.”

She added: “I think Boris Johnson’s taken all the wrong cues from what’s just happened in this election. I think he thinks that they won those so-called ‘red wall’ seats because they were promising to smash apart our relationship with Europe. I don’t think that most people support that.

“I think he thinks that they can use that as a cover for doing some really horrendous things to child refugees and other vulnerable people. I don’t think most of my constituents would support that and I don’t think most people in Worksop will either. Working-class people in towns like this are thoroughly, thoroughly decent, and they don’t like nastiness and they’ll see right through that.”

Ms Nandy – who has secured a place on the ballot paper alongside Sir Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn on 4 April – admitted that “the challenge has never been this great” for Labour.

Warning that the party’s very survival is at stake if it takes the wrong path in the coming months and years, she said the key to its revival is to listen to voters on the ground and to “start speaking in a language that people understand again”.

Emily Thornberry, Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer at a Labour hustings (Getty)

Calls for a “green industrial revolution” – a central plank of Ms Long-Bailey’s platform – meant nothing to voters unless they were couched in terms of job opportunities in the growing eco sector, better bus services in market towns and insulation to keep energy bills down, she said.

Despite being the outsider of the three on the ballot paper, she insisted that the time was right for a Labour leader who was able to “reconnect” with voters who have deserted the party.

“I think we need a different sort of leadership in this country, one that listens and understands and then works with people in order to create change,” she said.

“That’s the sort of leadership that I haven’t seen in the Labour Party for a very long time and certainly don’t see from the Tories.

“I think they fundamentally missed the point about what has just happened in Britain and the series of seismic political earthquakes that we’ve experienced.

“Labour has to understand that. That’s that’s why I’m standing in this leadership contest. We’ve got to go out and emotionally reconnect. We’ve got to show people that we’ve got it.”



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Music

Bill Cosby thanks Snoop Dogg after rapper calls for convicted sex offender’s release



Bill Cosby has thanked Snoop Dogg via Instagram and Twitter posts after the hip-hop star called for his release. 

Snoop posted a video captioned “PSA let the family mourn in peace”, in which he criticises CBS newsreader Gayle King for mentioning the rape allegations against Kobe Bryant. 

He then said “Free Bill Cosby”, and posted images on Instagram of King and Winfrey with disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.


Cosby, who is currently serving a sentence in Pennsylvania Prison for sexual assault, criticised CBS newsreader Gayle King for trying “to tarnish the legacy of successful black men”, in an Instagram response.

“Snoop – when they brought me to my gated community and placed me inside of my penthouse, they didn’t win nor did they silence me”, he wrote.

Another sentence reads: “My heartfelt prayers are with Kobe and his family, as well as with Michael Jackson and his family.”

Cosby concluded his post with a list of hashtags, including “#ThankYouSnoopDogg”, ”#StopTearingDownBlackMen”, “#KobeLegacyLivesOn”, and “#MichaelJacksonLegacyLivesOn”.

In Snoop Dogg’s video, the artist had also criticised talk show legend Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey had publically supported the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which focused on men who allege they were raped by Michael Jackson when they were children.

Here is Cosby’s full response:


It is unclear how Cosby was able to access social media from prison; it has also not been confirmed whether the post was made by Cosby personally.



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