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Politics

Labour leadership: Thornberry says Corbyn’s office told her concerns over relations with Jewish community weren’t ‘any of her business’



Emily Thornberry has claimed Jeremy Corbyn’s office told her it wasn’t “any of her business” when she attempted raise the party’s deteriorating relationship with the Jewish community almost three years’ ago. 

The shadow foreign secretary made the claim after she clashed again with Rebecca Long-Bailey, the left wing candidate in the Labour leadership contest, over her record on tackling antisemitism in the party’s ranks.

The remarks from Ms Thornberry – during a debate on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme – comes as she faces being eliminated from the race to succeed Mr Corbyn on Friday if she fails to pass the nominations threshold.


“I think it is known two and half, three years ago and said I am very concerned about what is happening in relation to our relationship with the Jewish community and we do need start dealing with this issue, and I was told that it wasn’t any of my business,” she said. 

“I was told that in the leader’s office. When I went in and I had a meeting and said I have had these meetings these organisations, I’m really concerned about what’s happening and a break down in trust and I was told it wasn’t for me as shadow foreign secretary to be raising this.” 

Asked whether it was Mr Corbyn she had spoken to, she replied: “Not by Jeremy Corbyn, but by those around him.”

It comes after the Islington South and Finsbury MP accused Ms Long-Bailey of failing to push for tougher action of antisemitism, telling BBC Newsnight that she did not “remember” her colleague speaking out in the shadow cabinet.

“It also should be said that Keir and I were both in the shadow cabinet and would regularly, the two of us, call for regular reports to the shadow cabinet,” Ms Thornberry said on Wednesday evening. 

Ms Long-Bailey disputed her claim and said she would sign up to the 10 pledges on tackling antisemitism in the party that has been set out by the Board of Deputies of British Jews if she wins the Labour leadership contest on 4 April.

“As leader I will be signing up to the 10 pledges. I would expect my shadow cabinet and all those within it, all our members and MPs within parliament to follow my lead on that,” she added.

Ms Long-Bailey also said the party did not deal “swiftly” enough with accusations of antisemitism in Labour’s ranks, adding: “I agree that not enough took place and we didn’t take the action that was required.”

The Labour Party has been approached for comment on Ms Thornberry’s claims.



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Apps Gadgets Games Hackers Technology

Facebook Dating launch blocked amid concerns over people’s personal data



Facebook has postponed the launch of its new Dating service amid fears about what it would do with the data.

The company had planned to launch the feature in time for Valentine’s Day but that has now been delayed because regulators were unsure what it would be doing with the data gathered through the service, according to the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC).

Facebook has confirmed that it will be delaying the release “to make sure the product is ready for the European market”.


The Dating service was first unveiled in May 2018, when Facebook suggested it would look to take on Tinder with a new feature that would allow people to find dates among people who weren’t their friends.

Since then it has been rolled out across the world, starting with tests in Colombia and since hitting major markets like the US.

The company had intended to roll out the feature across Europe on 13 February, according to the DPC. It said that it had only heard about it on 3 February, and that it was “very concerned that this was the first we’d heard from Faceook Ireland about this new feature”, given it was supposed to roll out so soon.

“Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information/documentation was provided to us on 3 February in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland,” it wrote in a statement on its website.

It said it had sent officers to Facebook’s officers in Ireland – where it is based in Europe – so that they could gather information and to speed up the delivery of the relevant documents. Then the company said it would postpone the rollout in Europe.

“Facebook Ireland informed us last night that they have postponed the roll-out of this feature,” it wrote in the statement.

Facebook confirmed that it had delayed the rollout so that it could get it “right”.

“It’s really important that we get the launch of Facebook Dating right so we are taking a bit more time to make sure the product is ready for the European market,” it said in a statement.

“We worked carefully to create strong privacy safeguards, and complete the data processing impact assessment ahead of the proposed launch in Europe, which we shared with the IDPC when it was requested.”



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Lifestyle Style

Booster seat brand raises safety concerns after video of dummy being thrown in test crash



A popular booster seat brand has sparked an investigation into its safety claims after a video showing a dummy being violently thrown upon impact during a crash test. 

In the video, obtained by ProPublica, a child-sized dummy seated in an Evenflo Big Kid booster can be seen launched to its side by a side-impact to the vehicle.

However, according to the company, the booster seats in question pass side-impact crash testing because they perform as they are designed to do. 


“Side-impact tested: meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards and Evenflo’s side impact standards,” a description of the car seat on Evenflo’s website reads. 

But, according to ProPublica’s investigation, an engineer for the company “would later admit in a deposition if real children moved that way, they could suffer catastrophic head, neck and spinal injuries – or die”.


According to one family, who are now suing the car-seat company, that is exactly what happened to their five-year-old daughter Jillian. 

Speaking to CBS News, Lindsay Brown recalled how Jillian had been sitting in one of the Big Kid booster seats when her car was hit on the driver’s side in 2016. 

According to Brown, who was also driving her other daughter Samantha, she immediately turned around to check on her daughters following the crash – at which point she saw Jillian “hunched over”.

Car seat company faces safety concerns over test dummy video (Evenflo)

The five-year-old was internally decapitated by the crash and left paralysed from the neck down, the family told the outlet, while Brown and her other daughter recovered from their injuries. 

When questioned about the injuries obtained while in the booster, the company said the seat “performed as designed” and that the child’s injuries were “primarily due to the severity of the crash and/or driver error,” according to CBS News

The videos of the crash tests have now prompted experts to question the company’s safety claims, with Dr Ben Hoffman, a lead author of car seat recommendations for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) telling the outlet that he would describe them as “horrific”.

“I think the word that I used to describe them initially was horrific. Human beings just aren’t built to survive that amount of movement,” he said.

One issue with the car seat is the weight requirement, with the company originally advertising the booster as being appropriate for children that weighed a minimum of 30lbs. 

The weight minimum was later changed to 40lbs, although CBS News reports that people who already owned the booster seat were not notified.

Another issue is the lack of harness on the booster seat, despite seats with harnesses fairing better in crash tests. 

According to the AAP, “infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat,” and once they are facing forward, “should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible.”

As of now, the car seat is still being sold on Evenflo’s website. 

The Independent has contacted Evenflo for comment. 



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Sport

Mark Wood casts aside concerns over injury and age with fine performance in fourth Test



Mark Wood revealed the call to include him in the XI for the fourth Test was made on the morning of day one.

With just three days between Monday’s finish in Port Elizabeth and Friday’s start at The Wanderers, England and indeed Wood himself were unsure if he could pull-up right for back-to-back Tests. It turns out they had little to worry about.

For the second time in a week, Wood offered runs, wickets and catches to put England in a commanding lead in the fourth Test at The Wanderers.


Another batting cameo of 35 off 39 following his 42 off 23 balls in the third Test helped England to a first innings score of 400. His three wickets, of Pieter Malan, Temba Bavuma and Anrich Nortje, along with his catch at point to remove Dean Elgar off the bowling of Ben Stokes, means South Africa rest wearily on 88 for six and with a 3-1 series defeat looming.

“Probably til the morning of game I wasn’t in the team,” Wood said. “I was a bit sore after the last game and hadn’t played for six or seven months or whatever it was. I put a lot of effort into that game and pulled up a bit sore. My side was a little achy from the game and that was the main problem from before. I had delayed onset muscle soreness in my legs. Just stiff and sore everywhere.

“On the morning of the game I spoke to the captain and coach and said if you want me I’m ready to go. I couldn’t guarantee them I could bowl 90mph in my fourth-fifth spell but I’m glad I made that decision as it’s gone well.”

Whatever worry there may have been on his speed was cast aside with the wicket of Malan. The Proteas were resolute into the 19th over before Wood cranked one up to 94.4mph that left the right-hander off the pitch and found his edge through to Jos Buttler.

It was the second quickest wicket-taking delivery recorded by an English Test bowler. The fastest, as it happens, was by a fellow Ashington quick and good friend of Mark Wood, Steve Harmison. He dismissed Glenn McGrath at Perth in 2006 with one registering 97mph according to CricViz.

That he was able to operate at such speeds in back-to-back Tests, he believes, is down to being “a bit older and wiser”.

“I’ve been through periods when I shouldn’t have played when I did. At least two Test matches that hurt my career which made me take a step back. So before the game it was just a case of being honest. I’ve worked really well with Chris Silverwood as bowling coach. He knows what it’s like. I’m not quite sure how it’s going to go. But I felt good in the warm-ups and I’m not quite sure how it’s going to go I’m ready to charge in for you one more time.” Charge in he did.

The two Tests he mentions are Australia at Lord’s in 2015 and South Africa at Trent Bridge in 2017. Both were the second of back-to-back fixtures. Naturally, he is wary of bigging his work up too much until he gets to the other end of this match. “Let’s not speak too soon. Only halfway through. But it’s pleasing that all the hard work behind the scenes. You’re looking at my body type and thinking I could snap at any minute.”

Mark Wood celebrates after dismissing Anrich Nortje (Getty)

The best use of his time out with injury, or at least not being able to bowl, has clearly been his batting. Across his last two innings, he has 77 from 61 deliveries and an astonishing eight sixes. His favourite of the eight was a gorgeous thump over extra cover off Beuran Hendricks.

While has been doing work with Chris Silverwood, particularly against the short ball, he credits sessions with his father, Derek, and wife, Sarah who spent hours with him at an indoor facility in Newcastle.

“Sometimes with my dad, sometimes with my wife feeding me the balls on the machine. I knew we were coming here and it was a bit bouncy, so I was working on how I thought they’d attack me – either at the stumps or at my head.”

When pressed, he said his dad was the better of the two. His wife, though, has hit him a few times.

“She’s laughing telling me to get in line. She got me a couple of times, my Dad as well is particularly spicy but Silverwood is the worst because he laughs when he hits you. You think the coach would be more supportive but he just laughs, he’s still got a fast bowler in him I think.”



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Culture

No Time to Die: Daniel Craig almost quit Bond over health concerns



Daniel Craig has opened up about why he almost quit as James Bond before deciding to return for one final film.

The actor, who said he’d rather “slash his wrists” than return as the British spy after filming 2015’s Spectre, will appear in No Time to Die, which almost shut down production after Danny Boyle quit as director.

It was unknown for some time whether Craig would return – and the actor has revealed this is because of an injury he suffered on Spectre.


“I finished that movie with a broken leg,” he told Entertainment Weekly.

“I had to question myself – was I physically capable of doing [another Bond film] or did I want to do another one? Because that phone call to your wife saying ‘I’ve broken my leg’ is not pleasant.”

It was producer Barbara Broccoli that convinced Craig to play 007 once more.

“He felt at the end of the last movie he’d kind of done it,” she added.

“I said to him, ‘I don’t think you have, I think there’s still more of the story of your Bond to tell.’ Fortunately, he came around to agree with that.”

Craig confirmed in the interview that this was his final Bond film.

“This is going to be my last James Bond adventure,” he said. ”This is it – it’s over.”

No Time to Die – which is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga – will be released on 1 April. Billie Eilish will sing the theme song.



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Politics

Brexit: European Parliament has ‘grave concerns’ about Home Office EU citizen settlement scheme



The European Parliament has said it has “grave concerns” over the UK’s treatment of EU citizens after Brexit and has accused Boris Johnson’s government of putting them in jeopardy.

MEPs on Wednesday backed a resolution by 610 votes in favour to 29 against with 68 abstentions criticising the UK’s handling of the situation.

The resolution also stressed that their approval of the Brexit deal later this month would depend on new assurances being given from the UK side.


The EU’s political groups united to accuse the UK government of failing to protect EU nationals from future discrimination by employers and landlords, and said Europeans should be “issued with a physical document as proof of their right to reside” in Britain. 

EU countries have watched the Home Office’s bungled handling of the Windrush scandal with horror and worry that the same thing will happen to their citizens after Brexit.

“The same question came back time and again, with different personal twists,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen during a debate in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

“One came from a young man who came from Benelux, living in the UK who was of course worried about his future. Another came from a British lady who has an Italian husband who was worried about his status, what’s going to happen with him,” she said. 

“People want certainty about their lives and their future, and certainty about the future of their loved ones.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the parliament’s Brexit coordinator, meanwhile said: “If they’re not addressed now, before the end of the month, they won’t be on the table before the end of the year. 

Pro-EU demonstrators pass the Houses of Parliament (AFP/Getty)

“I cannot imagine that the European Parliament will agree, for example on an FTA (free trade agreement), without solving the problem and the concerns of the EU citizens and UK citizens.”

The resolution calls for the full protections of the divorce deal to be implemented, and questions the independence of the UK’s “independent monitoring authority” for the system. It says better oversight of the body is needed, potentially with input from the EU side itself.

The successful motion also calls on EU countries to provide “legal certainty” for British people living on the continent – where the response has varied by country.

Home Office figures show that around 2.6 million out of three million EU citizens living in the UK had applied for settled status by the end of November 2019.

More than 2.2 million cases have been concluded, with 59 per cent granted full settled status and 41 per cent so-called “pre-settled status”.



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Business Media & Advertising

Publishers, Citing Diversity Concerns, Withdraw From Romance Conference


Harlequin, Avon and other romance publishers said Wednesday that they will not attend or sponsor this year’s Romance Writers of America conference, another setback for the organization as it struggles with the backlash to its handling of a racism accusation.

The event, held annually in the summer since the 1980s, typically attracts about 2,000 attendees. It is a major source of revenue for the R.W.A. as well as a key networking opportunity for romance writers, agents and editors looking for new talent. This year’s conference is scheduled to begin July 29 in San Francisco.

But some of the romance genre’s biggest publishers are reconsidering in light of the organization’s turmoil, which has been ongoing since late last year when it suspended a member after she criticized another romance novel as racist. Other romance writers slammed the R.W.A.’s move, and it has prompted intense debate on social media over how the genre handles issues of race and diversity. On Monday, the R.W.A. said it was canceling this year’s Rita awards, which recognize excellence in romance writing, after several contestants and judges pulled out.

Avon tweeted Wednesday that “in support of inclusive publishing,” it would neither attend nor sponsor this year’s conference. In a letter to the R.W.A.’s board of directors Wednesday saying that it too wouldn’t participate, Harlequin said, “It is important that all authors feel included, respected and heard.” It added that it would re-evaluate whether to participate next year once the R.W.A. “works with its members to address concerns that have been raised.”

Another company, Entangled Publishing, said “recent actions call into question the inclusivity” of R.W.A. and said it would not participate in any events “until the organization upholds its responsibility to represent all members in a fair manner.”

In a statement released Wednesday, the R.W.A. said it was moving forward with the conference as scheduled and that programming would include opportunities for conversations around diversity and inclusion. “We are disappointed to lose some sponsors and participants for this year, and hope we’ll be able to regain their support in the months and years ahead,” it said.

According to HelenKay Dimon, a former R.W.A. president, the departure of so many major romance publishers is a major blow to the organization. “RWA plans conferences years in advance,” she said in an email, adding that both Avon and Harlequin are major sponsors — “tens of thousands of dollars worth” — and that losing them will likely have a “cascading effect” in terms of the authors and editors who attend.

Two more board members, Barbara Wallace and Renee Ryan, and its secretary, Donna Alward, resigned Wednesday, according to the R.W.A. website.

That follows the departure of eight board members late last year, after news about the suspended member, Courtney Milan, became public. Ms. Milan, a romance writer and former R.W.A. board member, had criticized depictions in the novel “Somewhere Lies the Moon” as racist, prompting the author and her employer to file ethics complaints against Ms. Milan.

The R.W.A. withdrew the penalties against Ms. Milan as the backlash grew, and subsequently said it would conduct an audit of the process. A petition calling for the resignation of Damon Suede, the organization’s current president, has been submitted, and dozens of literary agents signed a letter saying they would not attend any R.W.A. events until “new leadership is installed at the national level.”

Follow New York Times Books on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sign up for our newsletter or our literary calendar. And listen to us on the Book Review podcast.



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Sport

Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dismisses fatigue concerns



Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dismissed fears of fatigue at Manchester United after they were forced to settle for an FA Cup replay by Wolves.

The visitors failed to have a shot on target, drawing a blank for a third game in their last five outings in a goalless stalemate at Molineux. A replay in 10 days will be Wolves’ 38th game of the season and also takes up United’s only free mid-week this month.

But Solskjaer, whose side play the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford on Tuesday, insisted another match does not faze him.


He said: “We do have enough games and we will probably play Wolves in the Europa League soon, but that’s what we’re in it for. I would rather have a replay than go out. When I played we drew Burton away and they got us at Old Trafford, we beat them 5-0 but it’s great days out for them as well.

“It’s not just about the top teams having too many games. It’s about the draw and romance. We had nine games in 29 or 30 days in December so we might as well carry on. It’s the schedule we are in and have to accept it. I am full of praise for the players and how they cope with it.”

Solskjaer also defended United’s attack after Marcus Rashford’s deflected effort hitting the bar was as close as they came.

“You can say Marcus’ shot is not on target but it’s going in if Conor Coady’s heel isn’t there. We had chances,” he said. “In the first half we had the possession, in the second half they had possession and a couple of chances. Both teams could have won it.”

Matt Doherty was denied by a superb Sergio Romero save and had a goal disallowed for handball in the second half. Brandon Williams also had a penalty claim turned down in the first half for United. Raul Jimenez struck the woodwork late on for the hosts and, facing another game, boss Nuno Espirito Santo would prefer a shoot-out to settle the game on the night.

He said: “I would like to go straight to penalties but we did enough. The second half was very good. We have to go and compete at Old Trafford, but if you ask me what my preference is, straight to penalties. The game would become more emotional because both teams would go for it.

“It was a good performance, we controlled the game in the second half. Now we have to play again.”

Nuno also gave a full debut to striker Benny Ashley-Seal, ahead of £16million summer buy Patrick Cutrone. The striker has struggled to make an impact at Molineux and Nuno confirmed he could leave this month.

He added: “I had a good conversation with Patrick. We decided for him not to be involved. It was the best decision, let’s wait and see. Maybe something will be happening about that.”

PA



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Economy

Amazon and Deliveroo tie-up in doubt as watchdog raises concerns about higher prices and worse service



Attempts by Amazon to buy a minority stake in online food-delivery business Deliveroo were in doubt on Wednesday as the competition watchdog warned it could launch a full-scale investigation into the deal.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has been investigating the deal since it was first announced in May, said it had serious concerns that competition could be stifled.

Andrea Gomes da Silva, executive director at the CMA, said: “There’s a real risk that it could leave customers, restaurants and grocers facing higher prices and lower quality services … because the significant competition which could otherwise exist between Amazon and Deliveroo would be reduced.”

The concerns of the CMA include that the deal could discourage Amazon from re-entering the restaurant food-delivery sector – having previously launched and closed its Amazon Restaurants business a year ago.

A CMA report stated: “Although Amazon closed its restaurant delivery business, evidence examined in the CMA’s investigation indicated that Amazon has a strong continued interest in the restaurant delivery sector.”

It added that there were fears the deal could damage competition in the fast-growing convenience store delivery market – several retailers have launched trials for ultra-fast delivery via Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

The CMA said: “While there are some differences in the services that Amazon and Deliveroo offer to customers, the CMA found that competition between them could increase in future as the market develops.”

Amazon and Deliveroo first announced that the US tech giant had led a $575m (£437m) funding round in May.

But due to the companies’ sizes, the CMA launched an initial inquiry, then a “phase one” study.

Amazon and Deliveroo now have until 18 December to submit reasons why a “phase two” inquiry should not be launched, and the CMA is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Deliveroo said: “Deliveroo has been working closely with the CMA and will continue to do so.

“We are confident that we will persuade the CMA of the facts that this minority investment will add to competition, helping restaurants to grow their businesses, creating more work for riders, and increasing choice for customers.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “A homegrown UK business like Deliveroo should have broad access to investors and supporters.

“Amazon believes that this investment funding will lead to more pro-consumer innovation by helping Deliveroo continue to build its world-class service and remain competitive in the restaurant food-delivery space by creating more highly skilled jobs, innovating in the restaurant food-delivery sector, and developing new products for customers.”

If a “phase two” investigation is launched, it could take several months, as officials comb through the detail and take evidence from the sector more widely.

It is not the end of the road for the deal, although high-profile “phase two” investigations that have led to deals being blocked include Sainsbury’s attempted merger with Asda and O2’s previous plans to join with rival Three.

PA



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Brexit: Sajid Javid repeatedly fails to rule out no-deal amid concerns over EU trade agreement



Sajid Javid has repeatedly failed to rule out a no deal Brexit at the end of next year amid concerns the Conservative Party manifesto had left the door open for the UK to crash out of the EU without agreement.

The chancellor said the prospect of a disorderly exit was “remote” as he claimed he had “not a single doubt” that Boris Johnson could secure a complex free trade deal with the EU “within months”, in order to deliver on the promise to “Get Brexit Done” next year.

Critics have already cast doubt on this tight timetable, which only allows the government 11 months to seal a trade deal with the EU – a feat which would usually take several years to conclude.

The conflict centres on the fact that the Brexit deal that Mr Johnson hopes to implement next month, if elected, covers the divorce bill and withdrawing from the EU but does not cover the vital future trading relationship between the UK and the bloc. 

And the Tory manifesto ruled out any extension to the transition period where this relationship can be firmed up beyond December 2020 – creating a new no-deal cliff edge.

Mr Javid was asked multiple times whether he would rule out a disorderly exit from the bloc during a radio interview as the election campaign entered its final week.

Asked if there could be a no-deal Brexit, he said: “I am confident that we will get the deal done for the reasons that I have set out.”

Pressed again, Mr Javid said: “I think that is an extremely remote situation.”

He was reminded that Tory cabinet minister Dominic Raab had said no-deal was still on the table but failed to rule it out, saying the UK and the EU have “agreed on both sides on what the future looks like”.

Pressed a fourth time, Mr Javid said: “The real possibility of no deal is if we get a hung parliament and Corbyn in No10 because he has no plan.”

The chancellor insisted a Tory government could strike a “zero tariff” trade deal in time for the deadline, claiming there was “not a single doubt” in his mind over the government’s ability to seal a deal. 

“Of course there is going to be some details to discuss but the important thing that’s taken us forward is that we know exactly what we want, and that the EU has accepted that, Mr Javid told BBC’s Today programme.

“It works for them, it works for us, it will mean that we still have a close economic relationship, it gives us back control of our borders, our law, our money, and it’s an arrangement that in principle.

“Because there’s an agreement, there is not a single doubt in my mind that it can be agreed within months and we can get it through parliament by 2020.”

It comes as leaked documents shows EU leaders are set to issue an election result-day warning to Boris Johnson that he has only “limited” time to avoid a no-deal Brexit.



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