‘Block Murdoch’s takeover of Sky,’ Labour’s Tom Watson urges competition watchdog

Holding the media to account has got Labour’s Tom Watson pretty animated. After calling for RT’s controversial new ads on the London Underground to be investigated, now he’s pressuring the competition watchdog to deny Rupert Murdoch the chance to buy Sky.

Seemingly unaffected by his hunger strike in solidarity with Guantanamo Bay detainees last week, Labour’s deputy leader and shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport is looking to starve media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox of its desire to take full control of Sky, one of Britain’s biggest broadcasters. Watson has called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to refuse the US-based company’s acquisition amid concerns of “bullying.”

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His comments come in light of recent revelations that Fox News handed a new contract to presenter Bill O’Reilly after splashing out $ 32 million (£24 million) to settle a sexual harassment suit against him. Watson, who called O’Reilly’s improved contract “jaw dropping,” claimed the case shows how the organization allows for a “culture of bullying to flourish” making Fox’s takeover of Sky inappropriate.

“It raises yet more questions about the corporate culture at 21st Century Fox,” Watson said, according to the Guardian. “It has now been demonstrated beyond doubt that executives at Fox News were free to act with impunity in the knowledge that their actions would go unpunished.”

News of O’Reilly getting a more lucrative contract despite allegations of sexual harassment emerged in the New York Times on Saturday. It claimed Rupert and sons Lachlan and James Murdoch had “made a business calculation to stand by Mr. O’Reilly despite his most recent, and potentially most explosive, harassment dispute.”

READ MORE: Tom ‘two-dinners’ Watson joins Guantanamo solidarity hunger strike

Tory Culture Secretary Karen Bradley announced last month that she was considering referring Fox’s acquisition of Sky to the CMA on the grounds of the former’s questionable commitment to broadcasting standards and the protection of media plurality.

Watson’s appeal comes just a week after he hit out at RT’s satirical ads scattered around the London Underground. The ads play on accusations made against the channel of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “propaganda bullhorn.”

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McCain blasts draft-dodging Trump for Vietnam ‘bone spur’ excuse

Arizona Senator John McCain appears to have taken a swipe at President Donald Trump for avoiding the army draft during the Vietnam War.

In an interview aired on C-Span on Sunday, McCain criticized those who were able to avoid serving in the military by citing medical conditions in comments about draft deferment.

“One aspect of the conflict by the way that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur,” McCain said. “That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

McCain was speaking about the Vietnam War and its effects on American society. He said the “gradual escalation” of the conflict strengthened the enemy’s resolve and led to repercussions like, “the New Age, the use of drugs [and] demonstrations,” that split society in the US.

“It was a tumultuous time, and most of it was bred by the conflict,” McCain said, before going on to make the bone spur comment.

Trump received five separate deferments from the military draft during the almost-20-year war in Vietnam. The first four were education deferments and the fifth was for bone spurs, bone protrusions caused by a buildup of calcium.

Bone spurs can be treated through stretching, and sometimes surgery. Trump has been hazy on the details of his medical exemption when asked about it, and claimed to have forgotten which heel was affected by the bone spurs. He said his healed up over time.

He was granted a one-year medical deferment and then kept that status from 1968 to 1972. He was then granted 4-F status, meaning he was permanently disqualified from service.

“For years and years it was the lowest income Americans, which means a lot of minorities, that were forced to go and fight. To me, that’s a black mark on the history of our country, asking those with lowest income level to go and do the fighting for us while the wealthiest stay home,” McCain said.

Bill Clinton was saved from the draft by enrolling in a military officer training program that he didn’t join. Former Vice President Dick Cheney got five deferments, while George W Bush got a position in the National Guard, meaning he didn’t have to serve overseas.

McCain is a Vietnam war veteran who was held by the Viet Cong as a prisoner of war for five years. McCain is a vocal supporter of US interventions overseas, so much so that the neo-conservative think-tank the Cato Institute said he is a militant hawk, describing him as being “even worse than Bush.”

Trump and McCain have exchanged insults throughout Trump’s presidential run, with the president claiming McCain was not a war hero because he had been captured.

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‘Nothing to hide’: Kaspersky Lab opens source code to independent review

Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab has unveiled to independent experts an unprecedented Global Transparency Initiative that will open its code. The audit is a bid to stave off US accusations the company is working for Russian security services.

A five-point plan revealed by the Kaspersky on Monday has promised access not only to its software, but its company practices and oversight of its data handling. Additionally, the company says it will pay out awards of up to $ 100,000 for those able to identify vulnerabilities, and establish three “transparency centers” by 2020 “to address any security issues together with customers, trusted partners and government stakeholders.”

“We need to reestablish trust in relationships between companies, governments and citizens. That’s why we’re launching this Global Transparency Initiative: we want to show how we’re completely open and transparent,” said company CEO Eugene Kaspersky in a statement.

“We’ve nothing to hide. And I believe that with these actions we’ll be able to overcome mistrust and support our commitment to protecting people in any country on our planet.”

In his statement Kaspersky, whose software is installed on an estimated 400 million computers worldwide, bemoaned the intrusion of competing national interests into the security industry.

“Internet balkanization benefits no one except cybercriminals. Reduced cooperation among countries helps the bad guys in their operations, and public-private partnerships don’t work like they should. The internet was created to unite people and share knowledge. Cybersecurity has no borders, but attempts to introduce national boundaries in cyberspace is counterproductive and must be stopped,” said Kaspersky, who founded the company two decades ago.

In July, Kaspersky made an offer to hand over source code for his software to the US government. The proposition was not taken up.

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© Kirill Kallinikov

The latest announcement comes two days before the US House of Representatives gathers to discuss allegations against the company. In June this year, a bipartisan bill was launched in Senate to restrict the US government and any of its contractors from using Kaspersky Lab software, due to “a consensus in Congress and among administration officials that Kaspersky Lab cannot be trusted to protect critical infrastructure.”

The proposal, which Kaspersky said was based on “unfounded conspiracy theories,” has not been passed into law, but was enforced by a directive from the Department of Homeland Security last month.

Kaspersky Lab, not least because of its founder’s past as a student in the KGB academy in the 1980s, has faced years of allegations of its ties to the Kremlin, though no smoking gun has ever been produced.

The most prominent allegation claims that its software was used to steal NSA data by Russian hackers in 2015, though it was never proven that it intentionally stole data, nor established that it bore responsibility for any potential hacks.

Kaspersky himself has dismissed these claims as a “witch hunt,” and earlier this month, the company signed an intelligence-sharing pact with Interpol, in an attempt to underline its credentials as a crime-fighting company.

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Footballer swigs beer thrown at goal-scoring teammate, then scores stunning equalizer (VIDEO)

Major League Soccer (MLS) player Sebastian Giovinco drank in the atmosphere when his Toronto side drew 2-2 with Atlanta, swigging a beer thrown at teammate Jozy Altidore by rival fans on Sunday.

The incident occurred during the clash between Atlanta and league leaders Toronto on MLS Decision Day – the day on which each MLS team plays at the same time with play-off places at stake.

Toronto trailed 1-0 on the hour mark, when Altidore latched onto a Drew Moor through ball to poke home an equalizer and wheeled away to celebrate in front of the Atlanta fans, cupping his ear to the crowd.

The group of Atlanta fans behind their team’s goal responded by throwing missiles at Altidore, and a plastic cup of beer landed just inches from the US-international striker, who tried to head it before it hit the ground.

His Italian teammate Giovinco went one better and picked up the cup, downing the remaining contents before turning to celebrate with Altidore.

Toronto fell behind once again on 74 minutes but, 10 minutes later, the thirsty Giovinco scored a stunning free-kick equalizer in front of the 71,874 crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The former Juventus man’s sublime strike ensured that the game ended level at 2-2.

Giovinco’s beer-drinking stunt is similar to an incident that previously occurred in the Bulgarian First League, when FC Vereya defender Ivan Bandalovski took a swig from a can of beer that had been hurled onto the pitch during a game against Levski Sofia. He went on to score a last-minute equalizer.

READ MORE: Bulgarian footballer swigs beer thrown onto pitch, goes on to score last-minute equalizer (VIDEO)

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Russian tourism to Turkey surges in first half of 2017

Turkey has started to win back Russian tourists, with visitor numbers growing tenfold in the first half of this year.

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“The flow of tourists to Turkey increased significantly this year due to lifting restrictions that were introduced earlier for charter flights. We estimate that about 1.6 million people have visited Turkey in the first six months, while there were just 168,000 people in the same period last year,” Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak told Rossiya 24 news channel.

According to Novak, tourism is essential in developing relations between the two countries and Russia is interested in the growth of Turkish tourism.

READ MORE: Turkey wants Russian tourists back amid ‘sudden’ industry decline – PM

Charter flights between Russia and Turkey were interrupted for nine months from November 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian jet in Syria. This resulted in a 90 percent drop in tourists from Russia in the first months of last year. Turkish tourism lost $ 15 billion in 2016, according to Turizm Data Bank.

Moscow-Ankara relations began to improve after Turkey’s President Erdogan apologized for the incident.

Before the disagreement, Russian tourist numbers were second to Germans visiting Turkey. Turkey depends on tourism which accounts for 6.2 percent of the gross domestic product and eight percent of employment.

In August, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev lifted the ban on charter air services between Russia and Turkey.

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Downing Street won’t deny that Theresa May ‘begged’ Jean-Claude Juncker for help in Brexit meeting

Downing Street refuses to comment and the man accused of saying it denies he ever uttered the words. But German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) still says Theresa May “begged for help” in Brussels last week.

The claim relates to a private meeting between President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the British PM last Monday. According to FAZ, May appeared “anxious, despondent and disheartened” as the two sat together ahead of an EU summit in the Belgian capital.

Juncker’s spokesman has been quick to deny that he described May as looking “anxious” and “marked” by her own Cabinet infighting over Brexit. However, the newspaper is standing by its account that “she indicated that back home friend and foe are at her back plotting to bring her down.”

“May said she had no room left to manoeuvre. The Europeans have to create it for her,” the paper said. “May’s face and appearance spoke volumes, Juncker later told his colleagues.

“She has deep rings under her eyes. She looks like someone who can’t sleep a wink. She smiles for the cameras, but it looks forced.”

May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy has accused a senior aide to Juncker, Martin Selmayr, of leaking details about the dinner in Brussels. Selmayr, however, denied involvement and said the leaks are an attempt to “frame” the EU.

EU Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said the body had nothing to do with the leaks and added that whatever party is responsible is trying to undermine their negotiating position.

“Normally we do not comment on leaks, but today I will. Some people like to point at us to serve their own political agendas, their own political priorities, or even to undermine our negotiating position,” she said.

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© Reuters

“We would appreciate if these people would leave us alone, we have lots of work and no time for gossip.”

Downing Street said it had no comment on the leaks published by FAZ, but reiterated previous claims from both sides that the talks had been “constructive and friendly.”

It is the second time that the newspaper published leaked details of engagements between May and Juncker. In April, FAZ reported that Juncker had said May was “in another galaxy” regarding her Brexit expectations after a dinner at Downing Street.

May, however, dismissed the claims as Brussels gossip, and accused the EU of trying to meddle with the general election last June.

The meeting last week preceded an EU summit, where May hoped progress could be made on Brexit negotiations. She was widely ridiculed after the event after a picture of her sitting alone at a large conference table in Brussels went viral.

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‘Huge problem’: FBI director says agency couldn’t hack into nearly 7,000 encrypted devices

Federal agents failed to hack into 6,900 mobile devices protected by encryption, the FBI director told a police chiefs’ conference, amid heated debate over privacy and government control over cyberspace.

The FBI was unable to retrieve content from more than 6,900 mobile devices, agency director Christopher Wray said on Monday at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia. This is more than half of the mobile devices the FBI tried to access in less than a year.

“To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem,” Wray said. “It impacts investigations across the board — narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation.”

Many smartphones and mobile applications encrypt content by default – one of the latest features used to ensure the devices’ manufacturers cannot access user data. Some applications, such as WhatsApp, use end-to-end encryption, which prevents private communications from being intercepted.

Wray’s remarks follow the controversial iPhone hacking in 2016, when the FBI demanded that Apple hack into a device used by San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple refused to do so, citing the inability to unlock iPhones protected by encryption features.

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© Jason Reed / Reuters

Fueling the nationwide controversy, the FBI later admitted that a contracted firm had found a way to break into Farook’s iPhone. Earlier this year, a federal court ruled that the FBI does not have to disclose details of the firm or contract price the government paid to hack into Farook’s smartphone, according to ZDNet

At the conference on Monday, Wray also spoke of a potential “blind spot” for intelligence gathering which may come into being if Congress does not reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“If it doesn’t get renewed or reauthorized, essentially in the form that it already is, we’re about to get another blind spot,” Wray said.

FISA allows the US secret services to wiretap internet and telephone communications of people both in the US and abroad so long as a “significant” purpose of the surveillance is to gather “foreign intelligence information.” The law, criticized by rights groups, emanated from post-9/11 era secret surveillance program that monitored private international communications in the US.

The law covers two of the most sweeping NSA surveillance programs focused on retrieving content from Internet-connected devices both in the US and around the world. One, revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, is PRISM, which enables the NSA to tap into user data stored by online platforms such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook.

The second program is ‘upstream’ scanning, which apparently involves automatic government searches of virtually all communications being transmitted through critical elements of internet infrastructure that connect the US to the rest of the world.

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Bum note: ‘Bad singing’ lands Canadian motorist with $149 fine

A Canadian man was left “shocked and upset” after police found his singing was so bad they considered it screaming and slapped him with a $ 149 fine.

Taoufik Moalla, 38, was cruising down Montreal’s Saint-Croix Avenue, singing along to ‘Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)’ by American dance group C+C Music Factory, when a cop car started blaring its siren behind him.

“I was thinking they wanted to pass, but they called on the speaker, ‘Please go to the right side’,” Moalla told Canadian news outlet CTV.

“I stopped and four police came, two on each side, and checked the inside of the car. Then they asked me if I screamed. I said, ‘No, I was just singing’.”

After inspecting his license and car registration the officers hit Moalla with the hefty fine for “screaming in a public place.”

Moalla said he understands that cops have to do their job and, if they believe someone is screaming, they have to investigate but he was stunned that he got a ticket for his warbling.

“I don’t know if my voice was very bad and that’s why I got the ticket, but I was very shocked,” he said.

READ MORE: Playboy’s 1st transgender centerfold: Not everyone welcomes the change

“Imagine if the Canadiens won a game,” he added “All the fans are going to scream out of their cars. They’re going to sing. Are you going to give them all tickets?”

Moalla contested the ticket in earlier this month and he’s waiting to hear back on the status of the case. Montreal police have yet to respond to RT’s request for comment.

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NFL ‘suffering negative effects’ from protests – Dallas Cowboys owner

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says that the National Football League (NFL) is suffering serious damage due to the ongoing national anthem protests that have swept the league in recent months.

“There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests,” Jones told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram following the Cowboys’ 40-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

He also stressed that some of the Cowboys’ sponsors have raised “concerns” about the anthem protests.

READ MORE: Labor union files complaint against NFL owner’s decision to punish protesting players

“All times, I want to do the right thing by them and their customers. I have a great responsibility to the people who support us. We all get great benefits from having a lot of people watch our games. All of us do,” Jones said.

The protests have reportedly led to a decline in TV ratings and ticket sales, with the total viewership of NFL games plummeting 7.5 percent compared with last season.

The Cowboys are one of six NFL teams that don’t have protesting players on their roster.

However, their absence could be a result of Jones’ promise to bench athletes who “disrespect the flag.”

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell © Brendan McDermid

“If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period,” he said.

Last week the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, held a meeting with team owners, union leaders and players to address the controversy surrounding the ongoing protests.

Right after the meeting in New York, Goodell said that the league believes players should stand for the national anthem, however no policy change was announced, meaning the league will not impose punishment on players who continue the protests.

“We believe everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell said.

“Our players will state to you publicly they are not doing this in any way to be disrespectful to the flag, but they also understand how it’s being interpreted, and that’s why we’re trying to deal with those underlying issues,” he added.

The commissioner also said the meeting didn’t discuss teams’ disciplinary measures in regards to protesting players

The NFL’s decision not to force players to stand during the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ however, angered US President Donald Trump, who accused the league of disrespect.

“The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country,” he wrote on Twitter.

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'Wolf of Wall Street' calls initial coin offerings 'biggest scam ever'

Notorious financier Jordan Belfort, once known as the “Wolf of Wall Street,” is warning initial coin offerings (ICOs) are a scam that will blow up in people’s faces.

Belfort was played on screen by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Oscar-nominated movie The Wolf of Wall Street, said promoters of ICOs were “perpetuating a massive scam of the highest order on everyone.”

“It is the biggest scam ever, such a huge gigantic scam that’s going to blow up in so many people’s faces. It’s far worse than anything I was ever doing,” Belfort said in an interview with the Financial Times.

The former penny-stock broker, who spent 22 months in prison for securities fraud and money laundering, admitted that probably 85 percent of proposers did not have bad intentions with ICOs. However, if five or ten percent are trying to scam the others, it would become a “disaster,” according to Belfort.

READ MORE: South Korea joins cryptocurrency crackdown

“Everyone and their grandmother wants to jump in right now. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with the idea of cryptocurrencies, or even tulip bulbs. It’s the people who will then get involved and bastardize the idea,” he said as quoted by the media.

ICOs, used as a primary means of fundraising for projects built on blockchain technology, have become enormously popular in the last year. More than 200 ICOs have raised a combined $ 3 billion during 2017 according to data compiled by CoinSchedule.

Financial sector experts, as well as state regulators, have repeatedly expressed grave concerns over ICOs, warning of the potential for money laundering and fraudulent activities.

Last month, Chinese regulators outlawed ICO funding due to concerns they may involve financial scams.

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