China Bans ‘Fake News’ Created With AI

China Bans ‘Fake News’ Created With AI

China has issued new rules banning online video and audio providers from using artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality technologies to produce “fake news.” 
“Fake news” has been generalised to mean anything from a mistake to a parody or a deliberate misinterpretation of facts.
The rules come into effect on January 1, 2020.

Failure to follow them could be considered a criminal offence, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said, without offering details on punishments.

The rules require videos and audio tracks produced using AI or virtual reality technologies to carry clear labels warning users.
The regulations particularly stressed the dangers of “deepfakes,” or technology that manipulates videos to appear genuine but which depict events or speech that never happened.
Deepfake technologies could “disrupt social order and violate people’s interests, creating political risks and bringing a negative impact on national security and social stability,” the cyberspace authority warned.
Concerns over deepfakes have grown since the 2016 US election campaign which saw wide use of online disinformation, according to US investigations.

China’s top legislative body said earlier this year it was considering making deepfake technology illegal.
A Chinese face-swapping app Zao, which allows users to convincingly superimpose their own likeness over characters in movies or TV shows, led to a heated debate on the abuses of deepfake technologies in September.
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Brazil's President Bolsonaro claims DiCaprio paid for Amazon forest fires

Brazil's Bolsonaro claims DiCaprio paid for Amazon forest fires

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has accused, without providing evidence, Hollywood actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio of financing nonprofit groups that he claimed are partly responsible for fires in the Amazon rainforest this year.

The far-right leader appeared to be commenting on social media postings claiming that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) environmental organisation had paid for images taken by volunteer firefighters that it then used to solicit donations, including a $500,000 contribution from DiCaprio.


The WWF has denied receiving a donation from DiCaprio or obtaining photos from the firefighters.
"This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon," Bolsonaro said on Friday during brief remarks in front of the presidential residence.
DiCaprio's environmental organisation Earth Alliance has pledged $5m to help protect the Amazon after a surge in fires destroyed large parts of the rainforest in July and August.
But the actor said in a statement sent to The Associated Press news agency on Friday his group had not funded either of the two nonprofits named by investigators so far.

"While worthy of support, we did not fund the organisations targeted," the statement read. "The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to stand with the groups protecting them."
The unsubstantiated accusations against DiCaprio and the criticism of environmental activists follows a police raid at the headquarters of two nonprofit groups in the Amazonian state of Para earlier this week.

Local police also arrested four volunteer firefighters and said they were investigating them for allegedly igniting fires to obtain funding from sympathetic donors.
The volunteer firefighters denied any wrongdoing and a judge ordered their release.
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Georgia family seeks answers in mother's vaping death

Ohio bill orders doctors to ‘reimplant ectopic pregnancy’ or face 'abortion murder' charges

Ohio introduces one of the most extreme bills to date for a procedure that does not exist in medical science
A bill to ban abortion introduced in the Ohio state legislature requires doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus – a procedure that does not exist in medical science – or face charges of “abortion murder”.
This is the second time practising obstetricians and gynecologists have tried to tell the Ohio legislators that the idea is currently medically impossible.
The move comes amid a wave of increasingly severe anti-abortion bills introduced across much of the country as conservative Republican politicians seek to ban abortion and force a legal showdown on abortion with the supreme court.

Ohio’s move on ectopic pregnancies – where an embryo implants on the mother’s fallopian tube rather than her uterus rendering the pregnancy unviable – is one of the most extreme bills to date.
“I don’t believe I’m typing this again but, that’s impossible,” wrote Ohio obstetrician and gynecologist Dr David Hackney on Twitter. “We’ll all be going to jail,” he said.
David N Hackney MD, FACOG
The new Ohio HB413, p.184: To avoid criminal charges, including murder, for abortion, a physician must “…[attempt to] reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the women’s uterus”

I don’t believe I’m typing this again but, that’s impossible.
We’ll all be going to jail@ACOGAction
An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition, which can kill a woman if the embryonic tissue grows unchecked.
In addition to ordering doctors to do the impossible or face criminal charges, House Bill 413 bans abortion outright and defines a fertilized egg as an “unborn child”.
It also appears to punish doctors, women and children as young as 13 with “abortion murder” if they “perform or have an abortion”. This crime is punishable by life in prison. Another new crime, “aggravated abortion murder”, is punishable by death, according to the bill.
The bill is sponsored by representatives Candice Keller and Ron Hood, and co-sponsored by 19 members of Ohio’s 99-member House.
Mike Gonidakis, the president of the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life, declined to comment on the bill, and said he was still reading the legislation because, it’s “approximately 700 pages long”. He said his office is “taking off the rest of the week for Thanksgiving”.
The Guardian also contacted the Susan B Anthony List, a national anti-abortion organization. The organization did not reply to a request for comment.
Ohio passed a six-week abortion ban last summer. The “heartbeat bill”, as supporters called it, banned abortion before most women know they are pregnant. Reproductive rights groups immediately sued, and the bill never went into effect. Abortion is legal in all 50 US states.
In May, researcher Dr Daniel Grossman argued reimplanting a fertilized egg or embryo is “pure science fiction” in a Twitter thread that went viral in May, when the bill was first introduced.
Dr. Daniel Grossman
Hi @BeckerGOP, I’m a practicing ob-gyn and researcher on abortion and contraception, and thought you might want some help understanding ectopic pregnancy since your bill (HB182) gets some things wrong. I’ll clear up a few things in this thread.
“There is no procedure to reimplant an ectopic pregnancy,” said Dr Chris Zahn, vice-president of practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. “It is not possible to move an ectopic pregnancy from a fallopian tube, or anywhere else it might have implanted, to the uterus,” he said.
“Reimplantation is not physiologically possible. Women with ectopic pregnancies are at risk for catastrophic hemorrhage and death in the setting of an ectopic pregnancy, and treating the ectopic pregnancy can certainly save a mom’s life,” said Zahn.

Jeremy Corbyn's union pal is accused of 'juju' slur against Jewish MP

Jeremy Corbyn's union pal is accused of 'juju' slur against Jewish MP

A row erupted last night over an anti-Semitic slur against a Jewish MP – posted by a social media account belonging to the right-hand man of Jeremy Corbyn's union backer.

The word 'juju' was written on former Labour minister Ivan Lewis's Facebook page. The message came from the account of Tony Woodhouse, chairman of Len McCluskey's Unite union.
The remark, which Mr Lewis says is a clear anti-Semitic attack, was written under a routine pledge he made to boost local schools, transport and policing.

Mr Woodhouse last night confirmed the 'juju' post came from his Facebook account but denied responsibility, saying his account had been hacked.The word 'juju' was written on former Labour minister Ivan Lewis's Facebook page. The message came from the account of Tony Woodhouse (left, with Jeremy Corbyn centre), chairman of Len McCluskey's (right) Unite union
The word 'juju' was written on former Labour minister Ivan Lewis's Facebook page. The message came from the account of Tony Woodhouse (left, with Jeremy Corbyn centre), chairman of Len McCluskey's (right) Unite union
The remark, which Mr Lewis (pictured) says is a clear anti-Semitic attack, was written under a routine pledge he made to boost local schools, transport and policing
The remark, which Mr Lewis (pictured) says is a clear anti-Semitic attack, was written under a routine pledge he made to boost local schools, transport and policing.

He said he did not know how it got there, adding: 'I have not posted on his website for as long as I can remember. I wouldn't put anything like that in a million years. I don't even know what it means.'

Shortly after being contacted by the Daily Mail, Mr Woodhouse removed the 'juju' insult from the Facebook page. A Unite spokesman said Mr Woodhouse had emailed Mr Lewis to apologise for the fact that a hacker had posted the word.

It came after it emerged that Mr Woodhouse and Mr McCluskey's union has given £3million to Labour funds.

London Bridge attacker 'convicted terrorist on jail release with links to Islamist cells'

London Bridge attacker 'convicted terrorist on jail release with links to Islamist cells'

The knife-wielding terrorist who killed two people before being shot dead by police was known to authorities and had connection to Islamist terror groups, sources understand.

He was released from prison about a year ago after agreeing to wear an electronic tag and be monitored by authorities, the Times reports.

The paper said he was attending a Cambridge University conference on prisoner rehabilitation being held at Fishmongers' Hall and "threatened to blow up" the building.
The university earlier said it was "gravely concerned" for the welfare of its staff, students and alumni as it believed they may have been caught up in the attack.
The suspect was a recently-released terrorist prisoner believed to have been wearing a tag, a source is reported to have told Sky News.

A security source confirmed to the PA news agency he was known to police and had connections to Islamist terror groups.
Speaking before chairing a meeting of the Government's emergency committee Cobra, Mr Johnson said he had "long argued" that it is a "mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early.

"It is very important that we get out of that habit and that we enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists, that I think the public will want to see".
Speaking in Downing Street ahead of the Cobra meeting, Mr Johnson declined to say whether the individual was known to the security services or the police before the incident took place.
On the election campaign, he said: "I think it's very important that in a democracy we continue to get on with the democratic process and I think it's vital that we show respect to the victims, to their families and certainly we've acknowledged that and campaigning has been suspended and the opposition parties have also suspended campaigning in London.

"But I think it's very important in a democracy that we are not bowed and we are not intimidated by terrorism and that we get on with the normal democratic processes and that's what we'll be doing."

Mr Johnson added: "We've received the heartbreaking news tonight that two members of the public have lost their lives in this attack and obviously our thoughts are very much with them, their families, their loved ones and everybody affected by the attack.
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London Bridge attack: Two dead after knifeman went on stabbing spree

London Bridge attack: Two dead after knifeman went on stabbing spree

Two members of the public were killed in a knife-wielding terrorist attack near London Bridge this afternoon.
The assailant was shot dead by police after members of the public struck him on the ground.

Police are treating it as a terrorist incident.
Three other people are reported to have been injured with some also panic-stricken at nearby Borough Market.
The attack is believed to have started at the Fishermen's Hall on the north side of London Bridge.

The members of the public who intervened were widely praised, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan praising his "breathless heroism" and Prime Minister Boris Johnson for their "extraordinary bravery".
The University of Cambridge will not confirm if any of its staff or students were at the Fishmongers' Hall, which is just meters from where the suspect was shot by armed police.
Its comments come amid reports that a conference has been held for a program set up by Cambridge University staff.
A spokesperson said: "We are seriously concerned about reports that staff, students and alumni of University of Cambridge were caught in the incident at London Bridge.
"We are urgently looking for explanations and further details. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by these horrific events."

48-year-old Guy Lawrence said he saw a man running from a building believed to be Fishmonger's Hall, armed with two kitchen knives with 20cm blades.
He claimed that one member in the public was seen running after the suspect, one armed with a 6ft stick and another with an extinguisher.

He told The Times: "I saw all traffic stop in front of me. I heard a gunshot - an attack happened. And I saw a guy on the floor. I heard two shots: bang, bang.
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Infantino reveals Fifa’s $1bn plan for African football

Infantino reveals Fifa’s $1bn plan for African football

Infantino reveals Fifa’s $1bn plan for African football

Football’s governing body have announced a grand plan to build at least one stadium meeting Fifa standards in each African country
Fifa president Gianni Infantino has disclosed how football’s governing body plans to support and develop football in Africa.
The Swiss-Italian was speaking during the 80th anniversary celebration of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s in Lubumbashi, where he visited the site of the club’s new football stadium, which will be able to hold 50,000 fans, and the club’s youth academy.

He reiterated that Fifa wants to work with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) in conjunction with stakeholders to improve refereeing, infrastructure and competitions on the continent, which he referred to as a “three-pillar approach”.
“What I want, what FIFA wants and what football needs is to see African football shine,” Infantino stated.

“We want to bring it to the highest of heights and show the world the outstanding talent and amazingly gifted players your continent possesses.
“To do this, we want to implement a three-pillar approach: refereeing, infrastructure and competitions. In close cooperation with Caf, the 54 member associations across Africa and other stakeholders, I am positive that we will make African football reach the top level where it should be because the quality and potential are definitely here.”
Fifa seek to implement reforms in the refereeing sector, and plans are already in motion to establish a professional and elite group of African referees who will be independent of administration and political bodies.

On infrastructure, Infantino stated how the governing body would rally companies and mobilise companies and moguls to raise around $1bn, with the aim of erecting at least one stadium that matches Fifa standards in each African country.

Lastly, he spoke about the possibility of an African League, which will pit the best sides on the continent against each other, being established. No details were given regarding the proposed competition, and how it will affect the Caf .

Infantino also visited ’s academy, where club president and vice-president of the new World Football Club Association, Moise Katumbi, gave a tour of the facilities.

The group with the Fifa president included Caf President and Fifa vice-president Ahmad Ahmad, Fifa secretary-general and general delegate for Africa Fatma Samoura, Fifa legend and special Advisor to Caf President Samuel Eto’o, Fifa Legend and CEO of the Fifa Foundation Youri Djorkaeff and Fifa deputy secretary-general  Mattias Grafstrom.
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REVEALED: Unai Emery visited London Colney after Arsenal sacking

REVEALED: Unai Emery visited London Colney after Arsenal sacking

Unai Emery visited the London Colney complex this morning to say farewell to his former Arsenal players.

Spaniard Emery was sacked as Gunners boss on Friday morning - just over 12 hours after he had seen his side lose to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.
But Emery did visit London Colney today.

The Spaniard met club chiefs Edu, Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham this morning, before saying his goodbye to first-team players (there doing warm down sessions, seeing physios etc).
Those three and new boss Freddie Ljungberg all spoke to the first-team squad also, as they look to move forward.
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Arsenal sack Emery ; Ljungberg named caretaker manager

Arsenal sack Emery after worst run for 27 years; Ljungberg named caretaker manager

The FC guys try to wrap their heads around the possibility of Massimiliano Allegri managing Arsenal. (1:09)
Unai Emery has been sacked as Arsenal manager following the 2-1 Europa League defeat at home to Frankfurt.

Sources told ESPN FC after that loss that Emery's position was untenable, following Arsenal's worst run in 27 years.
The club are winless in all competitions in seven games and sit eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea in the Premier League after just 13 games this season.

"Our most sincere thanks go to Unai and his colleagues who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand," Josh Kroenke said on behalf of the club's board. "We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.

"The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required. We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach. We have full confidence in Freddie to take us forward. The search for a new head coach is underway and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete."
Ljungberg posted on Twitter: "However long I oversee Arsenal for I will give everything I have to put smiles on faces again. We have a busy few weeks ahead and the team needs your support. Let's get to work!"

The Frankfurt game was played in front of a half-empty stadium and a group of Arsenal supporters unveiled "Emery Out" banners.
Arsenal's No. 2 goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez took responsibility and apologised to his former manager with a post on Twitter.
In 2018, Emery, who won three Europa League titles as Sevilla boss and the Ligue 1 title with Paris Saint-Germain, signed a two-year deal with the option of a third.

After succeeding Arsene Wenger in May 2018, Emery led Arsenal to the Europa League final in his first campaign in charge but the Gunners failed to qualify for the Champions League.
In total, Emery managed 51 Premier League games in total, winning 25, losing 13 and drawing 13.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has been linked with the position but he said it would be "disrespectful" to comment on the situation.
"I think you know me well enough and you know that I'm not going to answer about that," he said earlier this week.

"I will never mention an issue that's not a reality. Mainly speaking about a job that has a manager on it. It would be disrespectful."
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola weighed in on the situation at his regular Friday news conference due to rumours his assistant coach, former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, could take over from Emery.

"Every time a manager is sacked it's not good news, honestly," Guardiola said. "It doesn't change my opinion about his capacity. He's an incredible professional, did incredibly well in Spain. He won three Europa Leagues in a row with Sevilla, one of the most incredible achievements.
"[But Arteta] is with the squad and travels to Newcastle. Not a question for me."
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The Guardian view on China, Hong Kong and Xinjiang: will the truth hurt?

The Guardian view on China, Hong Kong and Xinjiang: will the truth hurt? | Editorial

Beijing was never going to welcome the news that the US had passed a law backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. But its anger today at Donald Trump’s signing of a bill it condemns as “full of prejudice and arrogance” perhaps had extra bite. This was its third blow in a week. On Monday, leaders woke up to a pro-democracy landslide in Hong Kong’s local elections, and the publication of leaked documents exposing the workings of internment camps in Xinjiang, where at least a million Uighurs and other Muslims are believed to be detained.

China’s bullishness has already been challenged by the trade war and slowing economic growth, now at a 27-year low. Mr Trump has previously made it clear that he regards Hong Kong’s protesters as leverage, and has shown he does not want this law to hinder a trade deal that both sides need and appear to be close to agreeing. China is hoping he will not implement the law, which enables sanctions on individuals and the revocation of the region’s special trade status if annual reviews find that it has not retained sufficient autonomy.

The passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act may prove to be most important in embodying the striking shift in US attitudes towards China. The rise of Mr Trump and his political opportunism has played a part; so has the “clash of civilisations” mindset of some of those around him. But the shift has taken place across the political spectrum and it is not primarily about what has changed in America, but what has changed in China: its ever-increasing authoritarianism under Xi Jinping.

Western engagement with China rested largely on a blithe and now utterly discredited assumption that economic liberalisation would bring political freedoms. The bilateral relationship is responding to the change in China’s relationship with its own people. 

The tightened grip has been seen most clearly on its periphery, in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, albeit by very different means and to very different degrees.
The erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy has been clearer precisely because it still enjoys freedoms and rights denied to people on the mainland, who do not get to deliver a verdict on their leaders. 

Though the district council elections are usually low stakes affairs, they had effectively become a referendum on the city’s political future. It appears authorities may have believed that a “silent majority” would come out to reject the protests by voting for pro-Beijing candidates. The silent majority duly showed up – with turnout soaring in the biggest electoral exercise the city has seen – but overwhelmingly backed the other side. Pro-democracy candidates took 392 seats (to 60) and seized control of 17 out of 18 district councils. The message was clear. Hong Kong people embrace peaceful democratic means when they are available. And they are on the side of the protesters.

Extraordinary levels of control and surveillance make it far harder to determine what is happening in Xinjiang, despite dogged researchers and horrifying accounts of abuse and torture from former camp inmates and their families. Now documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with the Guardian and other media partners have laid bare their workings (the Chinese embassy in London said the documents were fabricated). Authorities initally denied the camps and now portray them as vocational training centres. The internal papers tell another story: “Never allow escapes.”

These two stories are connected by more than the wrath they have roused in Beijing. Despite the gulf between the cultures and experiences of the regions, people in Hong Kong increasingly cite the north-western region as a kind of warning, seeing Xinjiang as at the far end of a slope down which they fear they will slide unless they take a stand now.

In recent years, China’s economic might has silenced many critics and muted others. Though the new US law and renewed protests over the treatment of Muslim minorities in the wake of the leaked files suggest things may be evolving, many will decide it is too costly to care. After this week, however, they can no longer say they did not know..

Neanderthal extinction caused by inbreeding and small populations

An employee of the Natural History Museum in London looks at model of a Neanderthal male in his twenties: PA

Humanity may not bear the brunt of the blame for the extinction of our Neanderthal cousins, according to a new study, which suggests they could have been killed off by maintaining small populations and inbreeding without having ever come into contact with Homo sapiens.

Paleoanthropologists agree Neanderthals died out some 40,000 years ago – disappearing after 350,000 years on the planet, at roughly the same time that anatomically modern humans began to migrate out of Africa and into Europe and western Asia.
However, questions remain over how involved Homo sapiens were in the Neanderthal decline – with one theory suggesting modern humans may have been better at collecting resources than their hominid relations due to their capacity for high-level thought and social processing.

Now a study from the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands, has suggested that even without competition from humans, Neanderthals could have died out through the small scale of their populations, inbreeding, and random demographic fluctuations.

Lead author Krist Vaesen from Eindhoven University, along with her colleagues, asks: “Did Neanderthals disappear because of us?
“No, this study suggests. The species’ demise might have been due merely to a stroke of bad, demographic luck.
“Our results indicate that the disappearance of Neanderthals might have resided in the smallness of their populations alone – even if they had been identical to modern humans in their cognitive, social and cultural traits, and even in the absence of [competition for the same resources], Neanderthals faced a considerable risk of extinction.”

The study was conducted using data from hunter-gatherer populations that still exist, and creating population models to represent Neanderthal groups of different sizes.
Researchers then simulated the effects of inbreeding, Allee effects – a phenomenon where population size effects the fitness of members of the group – and random yearly changes in the numbers of births and deaths, as well as gender ratios.
From there they tested to see if these factors alone could have caused extinction over a period of 10,000 years – finding that while inbreeding by itself was unlikely to have led to the decline of Neanderthals, it could have had an impact when combined with a sudden decline in birth rates.
Reproduction-related Allee effects, which see females giving birth within a year to 25 per cent or less, are commonly seen in modern-day hunter-gatherer groups and could have caused extinctions in Neanderthal groups as large as 1,000 – according to the study.
Researchers hope that the study may now prove as a baseline to test competing theories on the exact cause of extinction for humanity’s distant cousins.
The study concludes: “Regardless of whether external factors [climate or epidemics] or factors related to resource competition played a role in the actual demise of Neanderthals, our study suggests that any plausible explanation of the demise also needs to incorporate demographic factors as key variables.”

Can a member of the royal family go to jail?

Can a member of the royal family go to jail?

THE Queen is the picture of good behaviour in public, but what would happen if she were to commit a crime?
Her Majesty, 93, is actually immune from civil and criminal proceedings and can’t go to jail, but the same can’t be said for the rest of her family.
The Queen has Sovereign Immunity so likely can't go to jail or be convicted for a crime
On the Royal Household website it says: “In the earliest times the Sovereign was a key figure in the enforcement of law and the establishment of legal systems in different areas of the UK. 
“As such the Sovereign became known as the 'Fount of Justice'.
“While no longer administering justice in a practical way, the Sovereign today still retains an important symbolic role as the figure in whose name justice is carried out, and law and order is maintained.”

The Queen being the head of the criminal justice system means she would have to 'prosecute herself' if she committed a crime.
The rest of the royal family are not immune from criminal proceedings, according to constitutional law professor Bob Morris
While the Queen has Sovereign Immunity, the likes of Kate Middleton, Prince William and Prince Charles still need to watch their actions. 
All eyes have recently been on Prince Andrew over his connection to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke has been urged to put himself forward to be quizzed by US investigators who are looking into allegations against Epstein.
Although there is no suggestion that he has committed anything criminal. 

It is understood Andrew is not eligible for sovereign immunity as only the Queen is entitled to that category of protection.
Bob Morris, a constitutional law professor at UCL, told The Sun Online: "[Sovereign immunity] is a concept devised to protect the position of heads of state, but heads of state only, not the members of their family in their function as head of state. And you can't have more than one head of the state.
Prince Andrew does not have sovereign immunity it is understood
Andrew was sacked by the Queen was stripped of royal duties last week
"So it doesn't apply to the members of people's families, there is no logic in doing so.

"Andrew is in the same position as any other UK citizen.
"He has no particular personal immunity, although he will be better advised than many private members in this country of course... he has access to very good legal advice and I'm sure he will now be in mind to take account of it."
Princess Anne was convicted under the dangerous dogs act in 2002 and fined £500

In 2002, Princess Anne became the first member of the royal family to be convicted of a criminal offence. 
She pleaded guilty to a charge under the dangerous dogs act after her three-year-old English bull terrier called Dotty bit two children as they walked in Windsor Great Park. 
She was fined £500 and ordered to pay £250 in compensation and £148 in cost.

Iraqi forces kill 35 protesters after Iranian consulate torched

Iraqi forces kill 35 protesters after Iranian consulate torched

By John Davison and Alaa Marjani
BAGHDAD/NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces shot dead at least 35 protesters on Thursday after demonstrators stormed and torched an Iranian consulate overnight, in what could mark a turning point in the uprising against the Tehran-backed authorities.
At least 29 people died in the southern city of Nassiriya when troops opened fire on demonstrators who blocked a bridge before dawn on Thursday and later gathered outside a police station. Police and medical sources also said dozens of others were wounded.

Four others were killed in Baghdad, where security forces opened fire with live ammunition and rubber bullets against protesters near a bridge over the Tigris river, the sources said, and two died in clashes in Najaf.
In Nassiriya thousands of mourners took to the streets, defying a curfew to bury their dead after the mass shooting.
Video of protesters cheering in the night as flames billowed from the consulate were a stunning image after years in which Tehran's influence among Shi'ite Muslims in Arab states has been a defining factor in Middle East politics.

The bloodshed that followed was one of the most violent days since the uprising began at the start of October, with anti-corruption demonstrations that swelled into a revolt against authorities seen by young demonstrators as stooges of Tehran.
In Najaf, a city of ancient pilgrimage shrines that serves as seat of Iraq's powerful Shi'ite clergy, the Iranian consulate was reduced to a charred ruin after it was stormed overnight.
The protesters, overwhelmingly Shi'ite, accused the Iraqi authorities of turning against their own people to defend Iran.
"All the riot police in Najaf and the security forces started shooting at us as if we were burning Iraq as a whole," a protester who witnessed the burning of the consulate told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

Another protester, Ali, described the attack on the consulate as "a brave act and a reaction from the Iraqi people. We don't want the Iranians".
But he predicted more violence: "There will be revenge from Iran, I'm sure. They're still here and the security forces are going to keep shooting at us."
Iran's foreign ministry condemned the attack and demanded "the Iraqi government's firm response to the aggressors".
So far, the authorities have been unyielding in response to the unrest, shooting dead hundreds of demonstrators with live ammunition and tear gas, while floating proposals for political reform that the protesters dismiss as trivial and cosmetic.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has so far rejected calls to resign, after meetings with senior politicians that were attended by the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, the elite unit that directs its militia allies abroad.

Abdul Mahdi on Thursday summoned a senior military commander in Dhi Qar province, where Nassiriya is located, to Baghdad to explain why the situation had deteriorated, a military statement said.
In a statement that indicated more violence was to come, the military commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an umbrella group of paramilitary groups whose most powerful factions are close to Iran, suggested the overnight unrest in Najaf was a threat to Shi'ite clergy based in the city.
The paramilitary fighters would use full force against anyone who threatened Iraq's most senior Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said in a statement posted on the PMF website.

"We will cut the hand of anyone trying to get near al-Sistani," he said.
Influential populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr issued a fresh call for the government to resign, while warning those who torched the embassy that they risked provoking a violent backlash from the authorities.
"Do not give them cover to end your revolution, and stay clear of religious sites," he said in a statement on Twitter. If the government does not resign, "this is the beginning of the end of Iraq", he said.
Fanar Haddad, senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore's Middle East Institute, said the government and its paramilitary allies could use the consulate incident to justify crushing the demonstrations.
"It sends a message to Iran, but it also works to the advantage of people like Muhandis," he said. The paramilitaries could use the consulate incident as "a pretext to clamp down, and framing what happened as a threat against Sistani."

Sistani himself has appeared to back the protesters since the unrest erupted, calling on politicians to meet the popular demands for reform.
Authorities set up "crisis cells" in several provinces to try to restore order, a military statement said on Thursday. They would be led by provincial governors but include military leaders who would take charge of local security forces.

Romelu Lukaku tells Uefa to act now

Romelu Lukaku tells Uefa to act now after he suffers vile racist abuse from ‘the whole stadium’ against Slavia Prague

ROMELU LUKAKU has begged Uefa to act after he was targeted with vile racist abuse AGAIN.
The striker scored for Inter Milan as they defeated Slavia Prague 3-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday night.  Romelu Lukaku claimed to hear racist abuse on more than one occasion during Inter Milan's trip to Slavia Prague

Romelu Lukaku claimed to hear racist abuse on more than one occasion during Inter Milan's trip to Slavia Prague
But after the game the former Manchester United man claimed "the whole stadium" erupted into racist chants throughout the game.
He said the chants occurred on two different occasions during the game where he scored and bagged two assists.
Speaking to Esporte Interativo, the 26-year-old said: "I said it last time when I was with the national team.
“Uefa now has to do something about it, because things like this in stadiums is not right.
“Today it happened twice with me and that is not right with people.
"We are in 2019, there are many players with many different nationalities in their teams.


“When there are people that for me are bad, at the stadium, that’s not a good example for the kids.
"I hope that Uefa now do something about it, because the whole stadium did it when Lautaro [Martinez] scored the first goal, and that’s not good for the people watching this game.”
Martinez grabbed two goals and Lukaku also scored as Inter won 3-1 to keep alive its hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Lukaku also had a goal waved off by the VAR because of a foul on Slavia forward Peter Olayinka at the other end leading to a converted penalty for the hosts.
Lukaku held his hand to his ear after the VAR decision, apparently to bring attention to the racist chants.
Then Belgian international was previously targeted with monkey chants by Cagliari fans during a Serie A match in September after he scored a penalty.
Shockingly, the Italian side avoided punishment with the country's Football Association deciding the noises "were not discriminatory".  Romelu Lukaku scored one and assisted two as Inter beat Slavia

Romelu Lukaku scored one and assisted two as Inter beat Slavia

Birmingham mosque attacks: Shia Muslim jailed

Arman Rezazadeh
Image copyright

West Midlands Police
Arman Rezazadeh has been jailed after vandalising five mosques
A Shia Muslim has been jailed for three years and nine months for vandalism attacks on five mosques in Birmingham.

Arman Rezazadeh, who is of Iranian descent, used a sledgehammer to smash windows and doors in Perry Barr, Aston and Erdington on 21 March.
The 34-year-old admitted religiously aggravated criminal damage.
Judge Michael Chambers QC said Rezazadeh had been "motivated by religious hatred" and all the mosques he attacked were used by Sunni Muslims.
Rezazadeh sparked a major hate crime inquiry supported by anti-terror police, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
He caused damaged put at more than £11,000 in the attacks at Witton Islamic Centre, Al-Habib Trust and Jamia Masjid Ghausia, all in Aston, Masjid Madrassa Faizul Islam in Perry Barr and Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington.
Prosecutor Tom Walkling said the defendant had been drinking alcohol to celebrate the Iranian new year on the eve of the attacks and that he had a history of mental issues linked to cannabis use.

The Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington was among the mosques that were vandalised
Rezazadeh, of Greenhill Road, Handsworth, handed himself in and admitted being behind the attacks. He confessed to give himself an opportunity to "expose" false religious teachings, the court was told.

Javid Iqbal, of the Witton Islamic Centre, said the attack had upset the congregation and it was fortunate no-one was seriously hurt.
Passing sentence, Judge Chambers said the offending was "planned and premeditated".

"Birmingham has a long history of religious toleration and harmony, not only between the faiths but within the faiths as well. You quite deliberately and seriously offended against that," he said.
"The harm in this case has been extremely substantial - the impact on the local and wider Muslim community has been huge."

Donald Trump makes surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving

Donald Trump makes surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving

President Donald Trump made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Thanksgiving to greet U..S troops and meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss a Taliban ceasefire.
It is his first visit to that country.
'There is nowhere that I'd rather celebrate this Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest best and bravest warriors on the face of the Earth,' Trump told troops.  President Trump sitting with troops in Afghanistan
President Trump sitting with troops in Afghanistan President Donald Trump shakes hands during a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit
President Donald Trump shakes hands during a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit President Donald Trump gives thumbs up as he walks to serve dinner during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to the troops
President Donald Trump gives thumbs up as he walks to serve dinner during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to the troops
'We flew 8331 miles to be here tonight for one simple reason, to tell you in person that this Thanksgiving is a special Thanksgiving,' Trump said in his remarks. 'We're doing so well. Our country is the strongest economically it has ever been.'
The president landed at Bagram Air Field, the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan. The first lady did join him. He made a surprise visit to Iraq last Christmas with first lady Melania Trump
He served turkey to troops in a cafeteria, posed for photos with them and delivered brief remarks in a hanger.

The president stood behind a serving counter to distribute turkey on a plate and then handed plates to troops.
He praised the food to the soldiers and told them: 'You’ll come back'. 
After he made his remarks he sat down at a table of soldiers, taking a plate of turkey, mashed potatoes and cornbread. 
But it turns out he didn't have time to eat.
'I sat down, had a gorgeous piece of turkey. And I was all set to go and I had some of the mashed potatoes. I had a bite of mash potatoes and I never got to the turkey because the general said come on over and let's take some pictures,' Trump told the troops in his remarks. 
'First time I've never had any Turkey at Thanksgiving. But that is okay. But it looked about good. I should have started with that instead of the mashed potatoes. I made a mistake,' he added.President Trump served Thanksgiving dinner to the troops
President Trump served Thanksgiving dinner to the troopsTrump, seated next to Sen. John Barrasso, enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal
Trump, seated next to Sen. John Barrasso, enjoyed a Thanksgiving mealPresident Trump poses for pictures with the troops
President Trump poses for pictures with the troops
Military personnel said there were about 500 troops in the rooms to greet the president.
Additionally, President Trump held a bilateral meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in which he announced he has restarted peace negotiations with the Taliban.
Trump also said that he believes the Taliban wants a ceasefire. 
'The Taliban wants to make a deal — we’ll see if they make a deal. If they do they do, and if they don’t they don’t. That's fine,' he said.
'The Taliban wants to make a deal and we’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has s to be a cease fire and they didn’t want to do a cease fire and now they do want to do a cease fire. I believe it’ll probably work out that way,' he noted. Trump waves as he serves dinner to the troops
Trump waves as he serves dinner to the troopsHe also addressed soldiers, thanking them for their service
He also addressed soldiers, thanking them for their serviceTrump told the troops there was no place he'd rather be on Thanksgiving
Trump told the troops there was no place he'd rather be on Thanksgiving
Trump also said he would like to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 8,600. 

Air Force One left the United States Wednesday night and landed at Bagram Air Base Thursday morning local time. 
Air Force One left the United States Wednesday night and landed at Bagram Air Base Thursday morning local time.

The president was joined by Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, Sen. John Barrasso, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Dan Walsh, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, Deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere and social media director Dan Scavino.  
'It's a dangerous area and he wants to support the troops,' Grisham said of the visit. 'He and Mrs. Trump recognize that there's a lot of people far away from their families during the holidays and we thought it'd be a nice surprise.'

'It's truly about Thanksgiving and supporting the troops,' Grisham responded when asked about the political message of the trip.
When asked how the president was feeling, Grisham responded: 'He's good. He's excited.'

Grisham told reporters that the trip has been planned for weeks. 
Trump invited Barrasso, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who regularly travels to Afghanistan, on the trip when the two saw each other recently in New York, she said. 
The president secretly flew from Florida to Andrews Air Force Base after night fell Wednesday, but the White House declined to release details of his trip.     

Durban's shipbuilding excellence on display at SA Navy war games with Russia, China

Durban's shipbuilding excellence on display at SA Navy war games with Russia, China

Durban's shipbuilding excellence on display at SA Navy war games with Russia, China

Southern African Shipyards refitted the SAS Amatola as part of its mid-life rejuvenation Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Durban - Durban's shipbuilding excellence was on full display, when the South African Navy hosted its first ever multinational maritime exercise at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town this week. 
Durban based Southern African Shipyards was directly responsible for building and refitting several of the South African Navy’s vessels at the event which included craft from China and Russia.
The company refitted the SAS Amatola as part of its mid-life rejuvenation while several of the strike craft belonging to the SA Navy were also built by Southern African Shipyards. 

The locally built majestic SAS Drakensberg responsible for assisting and supporting the SAN's combat vessels also featured prominently at the event.
Interestingly, the SAS Protea will be replaced by the Hydrographic Survey Vessel currently being built by Southern African Shipyards.
The locally built majestic SAS Drakensberg responsible for assisting and supporting the SAN's combat vessels also featured prominently at the event.

Interestingly, the SAS Protea will be replaced by the Hydrographic Survey Vessel currently being built by Southern African Shipyards.
Southern African Shipyards Chief Executive Prasheen Maharaj said it was a great statement to the world that South Africans can not only demonstrate world-class capabilities, but in fact raise the bar when it comes to competency. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

“Southern African Shipyards has proven beyond doubt to the SA Navy; South African National Defence Force and Armscor that the country has indigenous capacity and expertise  to take care of all their naval requirements in line with Operation Phakisa,” he said.
Maharaj insisted that South Africa should therefore not be looking abroad for any maritime expertise.

Ships from the China and Russia arrived at the Cape Town Harbour on Sunday.
The theme of the exercise is Safe Navigation and Maritime Economic Security. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

There will also be training to see how a multinational task force will react to and counter security threats at sea.
According to the South African Navy (SAN), the exercise is primarily focused on maritime economic security, interoperability and maintaining the good relation between the participating navies.
The five-day maritime exercise will allow the foreign navies and the South African Navy to engage in training related to security measures while at sea.

Afghan alleged paedophile ring exposed by officials

Afghan officials release men who exposed alleged paedophile ring

Security officials released two rights activists detained by Afghanistan's powerful intelligence agency after they exposed an alleged paedophile ring operating in the country's schools.
Musa Mahmudi - a youth social worker - told the UK's Guardian newspaper earlier this month that teachers and local officials were involved in the sexual abuse of hundreds of boys in Logar province, sparking outrage across the country.

Mahmudi and activist Ehsanullah Hamidi were later detained by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on their way to meet with the European Union ambassador in the capital, Kabul, last week.
"They are in Kabul now and reunited with members of their families. There is no restriction to their movement," Naeem Nazari, deputy head of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, told the AFP news agency.
At least 546 boys from six schools were allegedly abused, the Guardian reported.

Some of the victims were killed, the newspaper said, adding rights campaigners had uncovered more than 100 videos of the sex abuse.
Authorities have not confirmed the allegations.
The two were released on Wednesday just a day after the NDS released a video of Mahmudi appearing to retract his account, which sparked harsh condemnation of the spy agency's conduct by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the US envoy in Kabul - who blasted the agency over its "Soviet-style tactics".

Amnesty International also called for the pair's immediate release and warned that Mahmudi had been receiving death threats accusing him of "dishonouring the people of Logar".
Hamidi's role in revealing the scandal was not immediately clear, and he was not referenced in the Guardian story.
Sexual abuse is widespread in Afghanistan despite efforts to clamp down on the crime. Boys are often reluctant to come forward in a culture that still shames victims rather than going after perpetrators.
Parts of Afghanistan still tolerate the practice of bacha bazi, or "boy play", where older men force boys to dress up as women and then have sex.

HIV positive sperm bank launched in New Zealand

HIV positive sperm bank launched in New Zealand

The world's first HIV positive sperm bank has been launched in New Zealand, with organisers hoping to reduce stigma around the virus.

Called Sperm Positive, it will begin with three male donors from across the country who are living with HIV but who have had treatment which has meant the amount of the virus in their blood is so low it cannot be detected by standard methods.
This does not mean the HIV has been cured, but it does mean that the treatment has worked to the extent that the virus can no longer be passed on. This includes infection from sex without a condom or childbirth.

Damien Rule-Neal is one of the donors. He was was diagnosed with HIV in 1999 and was confirmed undetectable after starting treatment around 18 years ago.
"I have many friends who are also living with HIV who've gone on to have children," he said, adding that there was still a lack of education among the public about what an undetectable status meant.
"Being able to help others on their journey is so rewarding, but I also want to show the world that life doesn't stop post-diagnosis and help to remove the stigma."

Created by the New Zealand Aids Foundation, Positive Women Inc and Body Positive, the project intends to educate people about HIV transmission.

The online sperm bank said it will be made explicit that donors have HIV but are on effective treatment that means they are unable to pass the virus on.
It said it will not operate as a fertility clinic but if a match is agreed by both parties, Sperm Positive will put the parties in touch with local fertility clinics.

Dr Mark Thomas, an infectious diseases doctor and Auckland University associate professor, said: "Stigma can lead to inconsistent taking of medicines, and result in much less effective treatment of HIV, and risk of transmitting HIV.

"Fear of stigma and discrimination can stop people at risk from getting tested, and those living with HIV from accessing treatment and support."

The online bank has been launched ahead of World Aids Day 2019 which falls on 1 December.