Ariana Grande: Five things to know about Thank U, Next

Screengrab from Thank U, Next
Image captionThe much anticipated music video pays homage to memorable teen films from the noughties

Ariana Grande has released a music video for her latest hit Thank U, Next and the internet is abuzz, dissecting all the cultural references.

The self-love anthem broke YouTube records as it became the first video to reach 1 million views in less than 34 minutes. The track has stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 since its release three weeks ago.

The singer recently opened up about the bomb attack on her 2017 Manchester concert in a new documentary series on the behind-the-scenes of her Dangerous Woman Tour.

Grande, 25, took a break from social media in October , following intense media coverage on her break-up from fiancé Pete Davidson after five months together.

Here are five things to know about the five-and-a-half-minute video, which the singer teased fans with for weeks.

Warning: There is strong language in the music video below.

Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

1) Paying homage to teen rom-coms

Grande parodies some classic noughties films in Thank U, Next.

Opening up the video is teen hit Mean Girls , with Grande transforming into high-school queen bee Regina George and recreating that raunchy talent show dance.

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you’re like really pretty

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Screengrab from Thank U, Next

She then morphs into Elle Woods, valley girl and Harvard Law student from Legally Blonde .

Screengrab from Thank U, Next

The original Elle, Reese Witherspoon, enjoyed the re-imagined scenes from the 2001 comedy about a blonde sorority girl hoping to win back her ex-boyfriend by getting a law degree.

Then comes that cheerleading classic Bring It On and its cheer-off between the Toros and Clovers.

And finally – if three films weren’t enough – comes 13 Going On 30.

2) The stars making cameos

Well hello, momager Kris Jenner as Amy Poehler’s “cool mom” character from Mean Girls.

We also have romantic interest Jonathan Bennett (aka Aaron Samuels) in the Mean Girls sequence.

Screengrab from Thank U, Next

Another love interest cameo is in Bring It On’s tooth-brushing scene – with Grande’s former Victorious co-star Matt Bennett .

And the video also featured Jennifer Coolidge(aka Paulette Bonafonté) from Legally Blonde and that iconic bend and snap move.

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new best friend …. thank u, next

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3) The exes

Thank U, Next has been described as an ode to all boyfriends past as it came into creation after Grande and Pete Davidson ended their engagement (read to the end if you’re curious about who dumped whom).

But the comedian is not the only ex to get a shout-out.

In the opening part of the video, the singer name-drops four and uses the Mean Girls’ infamous Burn Book to highlight her thoughts on three of them.

Pete Davidson is huuuuuge – ahem – and we will leave that to you to decipher that one for yourselves.

Screengrab from Thank U, Next

Big Sean is described as “so cute” and “so sweet” – and in case you can’t read it, the last bit says “could still get it”.

Screengrab from Thank U, Next

Ricky Alverez is a great dancer apparently, and the pair will be friends forever.

Screengrab from Thank U, Next

Finally, her fourth ex, Mac Miller, who died in September from a drug overdose , is called an angel and is not given a page in the Burn Book.

Grande and Mac Miller on stage performing
Image captionThe former couple, who once performed together, broke up before Miller’s death

4) The opening sequence

It features Mean Girls’ “army pants and flip flops” girl (aka Bethany Byrd) and the singer Troye Sivan – but what is the opening sequence actually about?

Screengrab from Thank U, Next
Image captionBethany Byrd is played by Stephanie Drummond
Screengrab from Thank U, Next
Image captionSinger and actor Troye Sivan featured Grande in his own song earlier this year

The general consensus on the net is that Grande is poking fun at the public’s curiosity about her personal life by recreating the gossip sequence about ultimate mean girl Regina George.

5) Things you might have missed

So beady-eyed viewers may have spotted the following:

The TUN initials on Grande’s cheerleading uniform stand for Thank U, Next.

Screengrab from Thank U, Next

Another costume-related Easter Egg is her Mean Girls shirt, which says “A Little Bit Needy”. In the original film, Rachel McAdams wore a shirt that said “A Little Bit Dramatic”.

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way too damn needy

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In her Legally Blonde entrance, Grande drives a Porsche with a licence plate that says “7 Rings” – the internet thinks this is a reference to friendship rings she and her six best friends have.

Screengrab from Thank U, Next

And finally – for those patient readers – the devil is in the detail. On Davidson’s Burn Book page, Grande wrote “sry, I dipped”. Translation: she’s sorry, she dumped him.

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George Bush Senior dies at the age of 94


A look back at the life of George Bush Senior
Video captionA look back at the life of George Bush Senior

Former US President George HW Bush has died at the age of 94, his son George W Bush has announced.

George Bush Sr passed away at 22:10 local time on Friday (04:10 GMT Saturday), a family spokesperson said.

He served as the 41st US president between 1989 and 1993, his term defined by the end of the Cold War and the first Iraq war against Saddam Hussein.

Bush’s health had been failing in recent years but he still managed to make public appearances.

In April, he was admitted to hospital with a blood infection but had since been discharged.

President Bush died seven months after his wife, Barbara.

“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” his son George Bush Jr, who went on to serve as the 43rd US president, said in a statement.

“[He] was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.”

Tributes have poured in for the former republican – current US President Donald Trump praised his “essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family and country.”

Who was George HW Bush?

Bush Sr’s single presidential term in office was dominated by foreign policy – the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

With the end of communism, Bush declared at his inauguration: “A new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn.”

Bush was instrumental in building the international military coalition that forced Iraq’s Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

He became president after serving two terms as vice-president to Ronald Reagan – the first since 1836 to be elected from there into the top job.

But despite achieving popularity ratings of 90%, Bush was accused of neglecting domestic affairs and was defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 election.

His famous 1988 campaign promise – “Read my lips. No new taxes” – came back to haunt him when he felt compelled to reverse policy.

George HW Bush: Life in pictures

Former President George H.W. Bush smiles as he listens to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speak as he met with Bush to pick up his formal endorsement in Houston March 29, 2012
Image captionGeorge HW Bush in 2012

Bush entered politics in 1964 after starting a Texan oil business and becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.

During World War Two, he was an aviator before being shot down by the Japanese in September 1944 while on a bombing raid.

Following his honourable discharge from the navy in 1945, Bush married then 18-year-old Barbara Pierce. Their marriage would last 73 years and they would have six children together.

He is survived by five of his children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and two siblings.

Jeb Bush, delivering the eulogy for his mother Barbara, remembered the love between his parents
Video captionJeb Bush, delivering the eulogy for his mother Barbara, remembered the love between his parents

Who else has been paying tribute?

Former UK PM John Major issued a statement saying he was “privileged to have worked” with George HW Bush.

“As president, he saw America’s obligation to the world and honoured it – and he remained committed to public service until the day he died.”

Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the 1993 election, said he and Hillary gave “thanks for his great long life of service, love and friendship”.

“I am grateful for every minute I spent with him and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts,” he tweeted.

Celebrities have also been messaging their reflections.





Comedian Ellen DeGeneres recalled Bush’s help after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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Obituary: George HW Bush

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President George Bush gives a speech during a fundraising event in San Francisco - 25 February 1992

The inauguration of George HW Bush as president in January 1989 was the culmination of a career built on privilege: a series of political promotions ending at the White House.

The 41st president of the United States had previously served eight years as vice-president to Ronald Reagan and was the first serving vice-president for more than 150 years to be elected to the highest office.

His term in office was defined by his foreign policy at a time when communism was collapsing in Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the USSR left the US as the world’s only superpower.

His policies helped restore the credibility of the US in the rest of the world and lay to rest the ghost of the intervention in Vietnam.

But he was accused of neglecting domestic affairs and, after reneging on a campaign promise not to increase taxes, he was defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election.

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A political life

• 1966: Wins seat in House of Representatives

• 1971: Nixon installs him as UN ambassador

• 1974: Heads newly established mission in Beijing

• 1976: Ford makes him CIA director

• 1981-1989: Ronald Reagan’s vice-president

• 1989-1993: President of the US; leads US into first Gulf War; copes with collapse of communism in Eastern Bloc

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George Herbert Walker Bush was born on 12 July 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of an investment banker who later became a US senator.

He volunteered for the US Navy after Pearl Harbor. He trained as an aviator before being assigned duties in the Pacific where he saw action against the Japanese during World War Two.

Just 18, he may well have been America’s youngest flying officer, assigned to pilot torpedo bombers off aircraft carriers.

He was shot down in September 1944 while on a bombing raid. His plane filled with smoke and flames swallowed both wings. “My God,” he recalled thinking, “This thing’s going to blow up.”

He continued to pilot the aircraft, dropping his bombs on their target. He ordered his two fellow crew members to parachute out of the plane but neither man survived.

Choking on the smoke, Bush followed his crew – smashing his head on the tail of the plane as the wind propelled him backwards.

George Bush in a dinghy being rescued after he was shot down in 1944
Image captionHe was picked up by a US submarine after his plane was shot down in the Pacific. ‘Welcome aboard, sir,’ said the torpedo man who hauled him from the water. ‘Happy to be aboard,’ replied the future commander-in-chief.

He made it into a tiny life-raft and began paddling away from the nearby Japanese island with his hands. Incredibly, a US submarine rose to the surface right next to him and his rescue was even captured on camera.

Following his honourable discharge from the navy in 1945, Bush married 18-year-old Barbara Pierce. Their marriage would last 72 years and they would have six children together.

Their first son, the future president George Walker Bush, was born a year later.

Bush had been offered a place at Yale prior to his enlistment in the navy, and he took it up in 1945, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Barbara and George HW Bush
Image captionOnly weeks after returning from the Pacific, Bush married Barbara Pierce. ‘I married the first man I ever kissed,’ the future First Lady recalled. ‘When I tell my children that they just about throw up.’

Bush and his family then moved to Texas where, with the use of his father’s business connections, he got a job in the oil industry. By the age of 40, he was a millionaire.

He and Barbara suffered the trauma of losing their only daughter to leukaemia. Robin was taken to the doctor suffering from tiredness and the awful diagnosis was completely unexpected.

George H W Bush and George W Bush
Image captionTwo future presidents – George H W Bush holding aloft his baby son, George junior

The family was shattered by her death a few months later. When Barbara Bush herself died, 65 years later, the family posted a touching note. “Give Robin a hug from us, Mom,” it said.

Conservatism

George’s professional interest had turned to politics. After serving as the chairman of a local branch of the Republican Party he took a major step, seeking and winning the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat for Texas.

The Democratic incumbent successfully branded Bush as a right-wing extremist, gaining 56% of the vote to Bush’s 43%. Undaunted, Bush successfully stood for the House of Representatives in 1966, where he served for two terms.

President Richard Nixon persuaded Bush to try for the Senate again in 1970 but, again, he was defeated by the Democratic candidate. Instead, Nixon appointed him US ambassador to the United Nations in 1971 and then Republican Party chairman.

When Nixon was forced to resign 1974, Bush did his best to heal some of the wounds left by Watergate, touring the country in support of Republican candidates. At the end of the year he went to Beijing as head of the new US mission there.

George H Bush, who was Republican National Chairman, chats with Vice-president Gerald Ford in Washington - 18 December 1973
Image captionAs Republican National Chairman in 1973 with then Vice-president Gerald Ford

After just over a year in China, President Gerald Ford brought him home to take charge of the Central Intelligence Agency, which had been rocked by a series of scandals relating to covert operations abroad and unauthorised spying on US citizens.

The posting coincided with a deterioration in Barbara’s mental health. She wrote in her biography that she would have to pull her car up on the side of the road for fear of steering into a tree, or on-coming traffic. The dark feelings eventually passed.

Bush left the CIA after Ford left office and, in 1978, began campaigning for the Republican nomination for the 1980 presidential election.

He travelled the country, preaching his brand of moderate conservatism and, by the beginning of 1980, had emerged as the main challenger to Ronald Reagan.

But he entered the presidential fray only to find that his privileged past could be a political liability.

“What’s wrong with excellence?” he said at the time. “What’s wrong with having a good education? What’s wrong with having excelled in my life and business or being a good ambassador in China or the United Nations, or having done an excellent job at the CIA? I have. I know that sounds a little immodest, but that’s my record.”

Cabinet meeting in Reagan White House
Image captionA cabinet meeting in the family quarters of the White House. From left to right: James Baker, Edwin Meese, Vice-President George Bush, Reagan and Caspar Weinberger, secretary of defence

Defeated by Reagan there was, once again, a consolation: a ticket to the White House as Reagan’s deputy and eight years of training for the top job itself.

Read my lips

In the 1988 race which delivered George HW Bush to the presidency, he made two fundamental misjudgements.

The first was his choice of vice-presidential candidate: Dan Quayle, a little-known senator from Indiana, who gained international fame through a series of gaffes. The second was in a speech Bush made at the 1988 Republican National Convention.

During an attack on the fiscal policy of his Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, Bush made a pledge that was to haunt his presidency and ultimately bring about his political downfall.

“Read my lips,” he told the assembled delegates. “No new taxes.”

After one of the most acrimonious election campaigns in US history, Bush became the first serving vice-president to be elected to the top job since Martin van Buren in 1836.

It was a time of momentous change which saw the the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Soviet empire.

George H W Bush
Image captionGeorge H W Bush came to the presidency at a time of great global change. ‘A new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn; for in man’s heart, if not in fact, the day of the dictator is over,’ he declared on the steps of the Capitol

“A new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn; for in man’s heart, if not in fact, the day of the dictator is over,” he declared on the steps of the Capitol.

Don’t go wobbly, George

His true test came in August 1990 when the US was caught off-guard by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Bush moved quickly to build an international coalition to end Saddam Hussein’s occupation and establish a US military toehold in Saudi Arabia, a valuable strategic dividend.

George H W Bush with Margaret Thatcher
Image captionWhen Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, George HW Bush faced his greatest foreign policy dilemma. When he decided to delay military action in order to get approval from the UN, Margaret Thatcher famously warned him that “this is no time to go wobbly”.

He delayed military action in order to give time to secure UN approval for the action. The decision lead to a famous rebuke from Margaret Thatcher.

‘Well, all right, George, but this is no time to go wobbly,” said the Iron Lady in a middle-of-the-night phone call from Downing Street.

The subsequent battle proved to be a triumph for American military expertise and a major boost for the nation’s morale.

In the defining moment of Bush’s presidency, the US and its allies swept across the desert in a ground war lasting just 100 hours.

Iraqi army tanks
Image captionThe 1991 Gulf war was one of the biggest tests of his presidency. The ground war lasted 100 hours but Saddam Hussein remained in power

The victory boosted the president’s standing despite the fact that US and allied forces stopped well short of Baghdad, allowing Saddam Hussein to remain in power. It would be left to the president’s son to topple the Iraqi dictator.

Despite achieving popularity ratings of 90%, Bush’s decision to concentrate on foreign affairs led to accusations that he was ignoring the worsening economic situation at home, most notably, the longest-lasting recession since World War Two.

Hamstrung by a Democratic-controlled Congress, President Bush insisted that the worst was over economically.

“We are going to lift this nation out of hard times,” he pledged, “Inch-by-inch and day-by-day and those who would stop us had better step aside.”

But the country would not believe him. To make matters worse he did the one thing he had promised he would never do: he raised taxes.

The 1992 election was a disaster. He was let down by a poorly run campaign and had to fight off a strong challenge from the conservative Pat Buchanan for the Republican nomination.

Defeat

Bush could not match the energy of his opponent, the young Democratic governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, who conveyed a new vision for America that Bush admitted he simply could not express.

The image that summed it all up came on a trade trip to Japan that ended in dismal failure when the president fainted after vomiting at a banquet laid on by his hosts. Bush went down to a landslide defeat.

His later years were spent touring the world in his role as elder statesman. Though delighted to see George W Bush enter the White House, relations between the two men were said to be somewhat strained.

US President George W Bush waves as he leaves the Oval Office with his father, former President George H W Bush - 25 September 2008
Image captionRelations between the two Bush presidents were said to have sometimes been strained

Bush celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2014 by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. But he began to make fewer public appearances and was forced to use a wheelchair after developing a form of Parkinson’s which meant he could no longer use his legs.

A series of women accused him of acting inappropriately towards them at various times in the past. A spokesman, Jim McGrath, acknowledged that Mr Bush had “on occasion… patted women’s rears in what he intended to be in a good-natured manner”. The former president denied groping anyone but let it be known he apologised to anyone he might have offended.

He also lost Barbara – his wartime bride – after more than seven decades of marriage. Her funeral was attended by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – although President Trump stayed away.

George H W Bush at Barbara Bush's funeral surrounded by former Presidents
Image captionGeorge HW Bush at the funeral of his wife Barbara, surrounded by former presidents and first ladies

As president, he proved himself an efficient chief executive – more of a manager than inspiring leader. His public image suffered because of his Ivy League background and many voters saw him as lacking a common touch.

His foreign policy was successful in the handling of the invasion of Kuwait and the fall of communism. His domestic agenda will be less well applauded – with critics complaining he came across as a somewhat confused president with a shaky grasp of economics.

And personally, George Herbert Walker Bush will be remembered as, essentially, a cultured family man, uncomfortable with the rough and tumble of politics.

“Because you run against each other that doesn’t mean you’re enemies,” he once said. “Politics doesn’t have to be uncivil and nasty.”

Macron Leaks: the anatomy of a hack

By Megha Mohan BBC Trending

It’s still unclear who hacked incoming French President Emmanuel Macron’s emails. But what does the way they then spread across the internet tell us about the way hackers and political movements work in tandem?

It was a huge story that broke in the very final hours of coverage of France’s presidential election campaign. But whoever dumped the leaked Macron emails online, did not by themselves turn them into a global topic of discussion. That job was left to a network of political activists, aided by bots and automated accounts, and then ultimately signal boosted by the Twitter account of WikiLeaks.

BBC Trending has spoken to the main activist who took the data dump from a fringe message board to the mainstream – and we’ve pieced together the story of how the hack came to light.

Emmanuel Macron celebrates with his wife Brigitte Trogneux on Sunday 7 May
Image captionEmmanuel Macron promised his cheering supporters he would fight to heal France’s divisions as he was elected France’s youngest president

Just before 19:00 BST on Friday 5 May, a huge trove of files appeared on the anonymous document sharing site Pastebin, under the title “EMLEAKS”.

They had first been posted on various threads on an online library site called archive.org. However, as these threads have since been deleted, it’s not possible to gauge what time this first happened.

The timing is crucial. It was just hours before the start of the pre-election news blackout within France, and so media outlets acted with extreme caution. However, a network of online actors moved quickly to spread the leaks.

Those who monitor internet politics know all about “/pol/”. It’s the anarchic political discussion forum on the anonymous messaging board 4chan, and although frequented by video gamers and internet culture obsessives, it’s also a favoured hangout for a number of political activists associated with extreme right-wing groups.

By 19:35 on 5 May, a link to the Pastebin files appeared on /pol/. The only detail about the identity of posters on the forum is a flag signifying the country of their computer’s registered IP address. However, these are easy to fake.

A Latvian connection?

The /pol/ forum is crucial to the story, because rumours of a data dump seem to have been circulating there for several days previously. On Wednesday 3 May, two days before the email leaks, a user on separate thread on the board posted a different set of documents – ones which suggested Macron had a secret bank account in the Cayman Islands.

There was vigorous debate on the board about whether the documents had been doctored. Macron’s political movement, En Marche!, said they were fake and filed a lawsuit over the online rumours.

Those first documents were posted from a user who had a Latvian IP address. But it’s likely they were faking their location.

“This user is probably not from Latvia, and used a proxy to hide their identity from 4chan,” says Jules Darmanin, a reporter at BuzzFeed News France.

That account is backed up by a later post by the user themselves, who said “I am not in Latvia”. The poster boasted of using proxy servers – a mechanism by which users can mask or fake their location online. “Seven proxies” is also a reference to an old 4chan joke about the ease of hiding online:

I used several different servers

The user who dumped the Macron emails on Friday had a US flag included in their post on 4chan. But of course, they too could have been using a proxy.

The leak goes mainstream

The man who popularised the data dump says he was expecting it and was poised to spread it. Fourteen minutes after the Friday leaks on 4chan, at 19:49 BST, Jack Posobiec, a journalist who writes for far-right Canadian outlet Rebel Media, posted a link to the thread to Twitter using the hashtag #MacronLeaks.

He told BBC Trending that the user with the Latvian IP address, responsible for the first anti-Macron leak, had alerted him to the upcoming dump.

“The same poster of the financial documents said to stay tuned tomorrow for a bigger story – so I pretty much spent the next 24 hours hitting refresh on the site,” he told us.

Massive doc dump at /pol/

How did Posobiec’s tweet go viral so fast? It was reportedly retweeted 87 times in the first five minutes, suggesting, says Ben Nimmo at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, that the message was being boosted with the help of bots.

“A bot is a Twitter profile which does not have a single human operator behind it,” Nimmo tells BBC Trending, “For its profile picture it will have an image of someone else or a random picture like a mountain or a bird. it will be run by a computer programme, by an algorithm, which will essentially retweet everything from listed accounts or to retweet any tweets that mention certain words. So it is fully automated.”


BBC Trending documentary: How The ‘Great Meme War’ Moved To France

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There were some fully automated accounts spreading the tag – but it wasn’t just bots. Thousands of real people shared the tweet too. Several accounts that specialise in political messaging, in this case linked to the US “alt-right” movement, shared Posobiec’s tweet. It’s notable that this happened mostly outside of France. Initially those sharing these messages were mostly English speakers, rather than French speakers.

Wikileaks

The biggest initial boost, however, came not with bots or alt-right activists, but in the form of the official WikiLeaks Twitter account, which shared the 4chan link in a cautiously worded post.

Alleged multi-GB team Macron email archives. Could be a 4chan practical joke. We are examining

The leaks then began being shared by well-known National Front accounts, this time in French. Around 47,000 tweets were posted in three hours and the hashtag #MacronLeaks began to trend in France. By Saturday morning, it had reached the worldwide trend list. Crucially, this meant the story was spreading, despite reporting restrictions in force in France.

Discord

By this time, an informal and global network of political activists was working hard to spread the story. Conversations in private, English-speaking, pro-Le Pen groups on the messaging app Discord were discussing how to amplify Posobiec’s hashtag and use internet-friendly memes to further discredit Macron.

Do we have memes for the email leaks
Discord screenshots

The political response

As the reporting restrictions approached and the hashtag reached full volume, politicians from both camps scrambled to respond. Florian Philippot, the vice president of Marine Le Pen’s National Front, responded to the story at 22:40 BST (23:40 French time) by tweeting “Will #MacronLeaks teach us something that investigative journalism has deliberately killed?”

Sylvain Fort, a campaign spokesman for Emmanuel Macron, responded by calling Philippot’s tweet “vile”.

Vile
Image caption”Vile”

Five minutes before the restrictions were due to start, Macron’s team released a press release condemning the leak, saying that they had been subject to a “massive and coordinated piracy action”.

4chan’s owner Hiroyuki Nisimura tweeted, attempting to distance his site from the leaks.

Don't involve 4chan

Who’s behind it all?

It still remains unclear who is behind the leaks. But the Macron campaign said that some of the sites spreading the leaks were “linked to Russian interests.”

Similar allegations have been made in the past. In March 2017, David Grout, from cybersecurity firm FireEye, told BBC Trending that there appeared to be “interest from Russian hacking group APT 28, also known as Fancy Bear, in influencing the French election.” After the latest leak, a number of cybersecurity firms have also attributed it to the APT 28 group.

The group has previously been accused of attacks on the Democratic National Committee during the US election.


More from BBC Trending: Conversations with hacker Guccifer 2.0


The Russian government has not commented on these allegations. In the past it’s denied political meddling of this sort, saying they have “never interfered” with a foreign election.

The leak, and similar online activity, will continue to have political ramifications. So far, however, it seems not to have swayed most voters. On Sunday, France chose Macron as their next president, with 66% of the vote.

You can't win an election by spamming reddit tweet

Blog by Megha Mohan

Additional reporting by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending.

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Unite the Right: White nationalists outnumbered at Washington rally

Fewer than expected white nationalists took part in the rally

White nationalists have staged a rally near the White House in Washington, but were far outnumbered by counter-protesters.

About 20 far-right supporters attended the demonstration, which came a year after violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead.

Hundreds of chanting opponents staged their own rally nearby, denouncing white supremacy and racism.

The two sides were kept apart by a heavy police presence.

About 400 people had initially been expected at the “Unite the Right 2” rally but on the day nowhere near that number took part.

The white nationalists were escorted by police officers to Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, and were heckled along the route by a larger group of counter-protesters chanting “shame” and “get out of my city”.

Tight security was in place and authorities banned all firearms from the area.

After about two hours, under heavy rain, the rally ended and supporters were escorted out of the area in two police vans.

A larger group of counter-protesters meanwhile gathered at Freedom Plaza, at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue that leads to the US Capitol, chanting and waving banners.

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‘Racist message drowned out’

At the scene: Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News, Washington

As a small group of white supremacists gathered for their second “Unite the Right” rally, the rain began to fall.

Much like the sodden pavements outside the White House, the follow up to last year’s rally in Charlottesville was nothing more than a damp squib.

Organisers had applied for a permit for as many as 400 people – but in the end they couldn’t gather much more than 20. The counter-protesters came out in much larger numbers, a mix of locals with hand-made signs; Black Lives Matter activists, and also some Antifa – left-wing militants – dressed head to toe in black.

It all passed off peacefully, to the relief of many who remember last year’s violent clashes.

Police had worked hard to ensure the Unite the Right group was well away from counter-protesters. If today showed anything, it was that a message of racism was well and truly drowned out, in more ways than one.

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Last year’s far-right rally in Charlottesville was one of the largest gatherings of white nationalists in America in decades.

The march had been organised to protest against plans to remove a statue of a general who had fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War.

Counter protesters gather at Freedom Plaza before the Unite the Right rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House August 12, 2018
Image captionSunday’s counter demonstration gathered at Freedom Plaza in Washington

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed after a neo-Nazi driver ploughed his car into a group of anti-racist protesters.

Dozens of other people were injured in violence between the two groups.

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Marriott hack hits 500 million guests

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James Alex Fields Jr is seen attending the "Unite the Right" rally in Emancipation Park, Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville driver ‘acted in anger’

Trump aide ‘fired over ties to white nationalist event’

A still of Darren Beattie from a 2009 video
Image captionDarren J Beattie was one of three speechwriters in the White House

A speechwriter for the Trump administration has been fired following reports that he spoke at a white nationalist conference in 2016.

The White House confirmed to US media on Monday that aide Darren J Beattie, a former visiting instructor at Duke University, had been dismissed.

Mr Beattie had appeared on a panel at the HL Mencken Club conference, which is attended by white supremacists.

He told US media that he said “nothing objectionable” in his speech.

CNN first reported Mr Beattie’s 2016 speech at the Mencken Club conference on Sunday.ADVERTISEMENT

Mr Beattie told CNN that he did speak at that conference, and that he stood by his remarks “completely”.

“In 2016 I attended the Mencken conference in question and delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely,” he said in an email.

“It was the honour of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him 100%. I have no further comment.”ADVERTISEMENT

Mr Beattie had worked under Vince Haley, the president’s head of speechwriting.

When the White House learned of CNN’s investigation, Mr Beattie was first asked to step down, which he reportedly refused to do.

He reportedly said he made no controversial comments at the conference, according to CNN.

The HL Mencken Club, founded in 2008, describes itself as “a society” for “independent-minded intellectuals and academics of the Right”.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center(SPLC) advocacy group, the Mencken Club “has hosted some of America’s most prominent white nationalist ideologues in the past, and serves as a safe space for professors to vent their racist views”.

Alt-right leader and white supremacist Richard Spencer has been a speaker at the Mencken Club’s conferences in the past.

Media captionAleem Maqbool reports on an alt right event where a speaker said ‘Hail Trump’ and supporters gave Nazi salutes

Mr Beattie supported Mr Trump during his 2016 campaign and has been an outspoken advocate of the president’s immigration policies.

Before joining the Trump administration, he was a visiting professor of political science at Duke University.

He obtained his doctoral degree from Duke as well. His thesis focused on the Nazi Martin Heidegger, whose Nazi-ties he called “highly troublesome” while saying his work still merits academic consideration, according to Forward magazine.

During the 2016 Mencken conference, Mr Beattie was reportedly on a panel with noted English white nationalist Peter Brimelow – the head of the anti-immigrant website VDARE.

The SPLC describes Mr Brimelow’s site as “a hub for anti-Semites, nativists and Alt-Right figures”.

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Martin Sellner: The new face of the far right in Europe

By Simon Cox and Anna Meisel BBC News

Martin Sellner

In his T-shirt, skinny jeans and sharply styled haircut, Martin Sellner is the European far right’s newest poster boy. The group he leads in Austria has attracted huge publicity. However, Sellner’s insistence that his movement is non-racist and non-violent doesn’t have everyone convinced.

In April 2016, hundreds of people sat inside the University of Vienna’s theatre watching The Suppliants, a play performed by asylum-seekers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. And then the stage invasion began.

Members of a far-right group called Generation Identity (GI) rushed in, unfurling a banner calling the audience hypocrites and throwing fake blood over some of them. The performers screamed, fearing they were under attack. There were scuffles as some in the audience began shouting “Nazis raus” or “Nazis out” and tried to eject the protesters.

Ima was one of the performers. She had fled Mosul in Iraq when it was taken over by the so-called Islamic State group. “We came from the land of fear,” she says. And now, in the darkness and confusion, she was scared again.

“We thought they were going to kill us. In my homeland it’s just so much killing and dead people so that’s what we believed.”ADVERTISEMENT

The young man who leads GI in Austria plays down the incident. “I actually don’t think people were really traumatised,” he says. “I don’t know anybody who had a severe trauma or a medical condition.”

His name is Martin Sellner, and with his striking haircut, fashionable skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses, he looks like a typical style-conscious 29-year-old. Like many others of his generation, he can normally be found staring into the lens of a mobile phone – but in Sellner’s case, it’s typically to deliver a monologue about the evils of multiculturalism and how Muslims want to take over Europe.

Sellner on a torch-lit march near Vienna in September 2017
Image captionSellner on a torch-lit march near Vienna in September 2017

He is often joined in his videos on YouTube by his fiancee, Brittany Pettibone, an alt-right vlogger and conspiracy theorist. Her posts about a so-called “white genocide” and a paedophile ring connected to Hillary Clinton led the Anti-Defamation League to place her on its list of hate groups.

Earlier this year Sellner and Pettibone were both banned from entering the UK. The Home Office said that when “the purpose of someone’s visit to this country is to spread hatred, the Home Office can and will stop them entering Britain”.

Sellner isn’t just GI’s leader in Austria. He’s also a poster boy for the Europe-wide Identitarian movement, which is fiercely opposed to Muslim migrants – claiming that they threaten Europe’s identity and will eventually replace the indigenous populations. The movement began in France in 2012 and has expanded to nine countries including Germany, Italy and recently the UK. It doesn’t have many members but gets publicity through confrontational and expensive stunts.

Generation Identity deckchairs at a rally

In the summer of 2017, GI raised over £150,000 through crowdfunding to charter a boat in the Mediterranean to target non-governmental organisations that patrol the sea to rescue migrants in peril. GI said it would arrest illegal migrants and sink their boats – its campaign received the backing of a neo-Nazi website, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and a leading American white supremacist.

It didn’t quite go to plan, though. GI’s boat was detained and the captain was arrested, accused of having illegal Sri Lankan refugees on board and false documents. They were all later released.

A few months later, GI paid for a red helicopter to land on the crisp white snow of the French Alps. Flanked by 100 activists from across Europe, a massive poster was laid out telling migrants to go home. This stunt cost more than £50,000.

But the organisation’s actions in Austria have landed it in deep trouble.

Supporters of Sellner confront anti-fascists at Speaker's Corner, London
Image captionSupporters of Sellner confront anti-fascists at Speaker’s Corner, London

The Austrian authorities think that actions like the protest at the University of Vienna theatre and Generation Identity’s accompanying rhetoric amount to incitement of hatred against Muslims, foreigners and refugees. It’s why they have taken the unprecedented step of charging GI with being a criminal group, rather than the non-governmental organisation it says it is.

The Austrian prosecutor compiled evidence from stunts GI carried out in the past two years. These included the targeting of a lecture at Klagenfurt University, a small campus set amidst the jagged mountains and cool lakes of Carinthia. Identitarians disrupted a talk on refugees and integration, unfurling a banner while a man with a megaphone barked at a shocked audience.

Enis Husic, a softly spoken student from Bosnia, challenged them that day. “It was very tense and aggressive. I could really sense that,” he says. “At the time I wasn’t scared but I was very scared afterwards once it was all over.”

The fresh-faced rector, Prof Oliver Vitouch, was looking out of his office window when he saw protesters and rushed to confront them. He was hit by one of them as they tried to escape. “Although they usually say they’re completely free of violence and completely peaceful, it’s pretty clear to me that the readiness to violence is obviously there,” he says.

For years, GI was dismissed by its critics as a bunch of wannabe hipster Nazis – but Natasha Strobl, an author and researcher, has long thought their actions and rhetoric pose a threat to the country.

Natasha Strobl
Image captionNatasha Strobl

“They paint refugees as invaders, as dangerous soldiers of Islam who come here to destroy Europe. It really destroys society,” she says. As a result of this rhetoric, she adds, “people get aggressive, people harass Muslim women on the streets”.

She wrote a book about the Identitarian movement and then began receiving threats. “There are rape and murder threats when you open your email… I try not to go the same ways in the city because I don’t want to be followed. So you change how you live.” Generation Identity says it’s not racist or violent but articulating the views of many Austrians.

Martin Sellner grew up in an affluent suburb outside of Vienna. In his teenage years, Strobl says, he was drawn to the nationalist fringe in Austria. “He was part of the neo-Nazi scene and the most well-known figure of the neo-Nazis, Gottfried Kussel, was his mentor,” she says.

At the time Kussel had already been to prison for trying to revive Nazism. He was arrested again in 2011 and later jailed for nine years for continued far-right activity. It was after this, in 2012, that Martin Sellner set up the Identitarians in Austria.

Sellner at Europa Nostra, a GI gathering in Dresden, German, in August 2018
Image captionSellner at Europa Nostra, a GI gathering in Dresden, German, in August 2018

We meet him inside their offices in a scrappy apartment in the centre of Vienna. It’s fairly basic apart from a room full of cameras, laptops and lights where they make and edit their videos. Sellner is relaxed and confident; the day before he had been acquitted, along with 16 other GI members and supporters, of belonging to a criminal organisation.

“I really think we were vindicated and I hope that this verdict will also have an effect beyond this case and beyond Austria in the rehabilitation of GI,” he says, sipping from a glass of sparkling water.

The prosecutor is appealing against the acquittal and is investigating GI’s finances.

GI likes to stress it’s not violent or racist, but what of Martin Sellner’s past?

He admits he was involved with neo-Nazis when he was younger because, he says, “there was no alternative. There was no right-wing patriotic movement”.

When asked bluntly: “So you weren’t a racist?” his fluency falters.

“I don’t think I was.”


Find out more

Simon Cox’s documentary Generation Identity, produced by Anna Meisel, is broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Crossing Continents at 11:00 on Thursday 20 September 2018. Listen again on iPlayer

For transmission times on the BBC World Service, click here


When pressed further – “Surely you’d know if you were a racist?” – he still sounds a little unsure. “I wouldn’t say I was. It was a very ambiguous thing. I would say I was like a conservative, patriot.”

Earlier this year, before he was banned from the UK, he was secretly filmed by undercover reporters during a trip to London. He was captured using a racist and offensive term. He says it was a genuine mistake. “I really thought that ‘Paki’ was a completely normal term. If I would have known it, that it was considered a racial slur, I would have definitely not used it.”

“Come off it,” we tell him. “You come to the UK a lot – the idea you wouldn’t know it was offensive isn’t believable.”

He once again insists he didn’t know and apologises. “If I insulted anybody with this word, I absolutely say sorry and I will never use it again.”

GI’s actions often target events which promote integration – because, he says, he doesn’t believe in this. The Muslims who come to Europe must do more, he says – they must assimilate.

“Assimilation means that you completely identify with the country, the nation, its history,” he says – otherwise, he warns, “it’s treason, because you’re betraying this community… because this community is giving you open hands, taking you in and then you have to put the interests of this community in front of your own.”

Standing in his way are anti-fascist campaigners like Jerome Trebing.

Jerome Trebing

Publicly, Sellner’s group says it is not violent or racist. But Trebing has worked with activists who have gone into meetings GI holds in isolated rural areas.

As he sips sweet tea in a Turkish cafe in Vienna’s multicultural 10th district, a place that GI abhors, Trebing says: “There is some really hard stuff going on. There are people who are allowed to say racist stuff, anti-Semitic stuff and there is no-one who is saying there is no place for it here.”

According to Trebing, in these meetings GI supporters said it wasn’t just Muslims who wanted to replace the local population, but Jews too.


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GI’s leader denies it has any bias against the Jewish population. He wants to expand the Identitarian movement to other European nations. In Austria, he says, “We have a right-wing government. And we want to push for that everywhere in Europe, we really want to change public discourse.”

The nationalist, anti-immigration Freedom Party joined Austria’s coalition government last year.

Sellner’s ban on visiting the UK has made it harder for him to spread his message to potential supporters, but online he is still very active – although he has been banned from Facebook.

In mainland Europe he is free to lead GI’s continued aggressive, provocative targeting of Muslims.

Besima is one of those who have been on the receiving end of GI activity.

Mohammed and his mum

Sitting in her faded apartment drinking sweet tea with freshly made lamb koftas, she describes how she was performing with other asylum seekers at the University theatre in Vienna when GI stormed in.

Her son Mohammed was on stage with her too and she said the experience had traumatised him. “He has refused to go out, he is still at home, saying ‘If I go out something bad will happen to me.'”

Mohammed had been kidnapped in Iraq, which is one of the reasons she originally fled Basra with her three children. When she arrived two years ago she felt welcomed and accepted but feels the atmosphere towards migrants is changing.

“I thought I found happiness and peace here,” she says, “but I feel it’s not safe any more.”

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US white nationalist Richard Spencer’s wife says he abused her

Richard Spencer speaks at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on October 19, 2017
Image captionRichard Spencer popularised the term “alt-right”

The wife of US white nationalist Richard Spencer has accused him of being “physically, verbally and emotionally abusive”, US media report.

In papers filing for divorce, Nina Koupriianova said on one occasion in 2011 Mr Spencer dragged her down the stairs, resulting in bruises.

She said that in 2014 he again “attacked” her when she was four-months pregnant.

In comments to the Associated Press, Mr Spencer denied being an abusive person.

Richard Spencer is a figurehead for US far-right groups and popularised the term “alternative right”.ADVERTISEMENT

Ms Koupriianova’s divorce papers were filed in a Montana Court in June but were first reported by Buzzfeed News on Tuesday.

According to the report, Ms Koupriianova’s lawyers said she had been “reluctant to call police or seek an order of protection for fear of further reprisal”.

“Much of the abuse has occurred in the presence of the parties’ children,” the court documents said.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday, Mr Spencer said he was “not an abusive person” and that his wife was “never in a dangerous situation”.

Richard Spencer first rose to prominence when he led chants of “Hail Trump” to a Nazi-saluting group in Washington after the US president’s election victory.

He was also one of the organisers of a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year that left one woman dead.

Facebook banned him from its platform earlier this year.

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Charlottesville driver Alex Fields Jr acted in anger, trial told

A demonstrator carries a sign remembering Heather Heyer during a protest on August 13, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois
Image captionHeather Heyer died after being struck by the car in Charlottesville

A man who drove his car into a crowd of protesters in Virginia, killing a woman, was motivated by “anger”, prosecutors said at the start of his trial.

Alex Fields Jr, 21, is accused of murder and causing serious injury in Charlottesville in August 2017.

Heather Heyer, 32, died when the car hit a group of people protesting against a white nationalist rally.

Mr Fields’s lawyers say he acted out of fear for his own safety.

In opening statements at the trial, the defence and prosecution both agreed that Mr Fields, from Ohio, had driven his car into the crowd but they disputed his intent.ADVERTISEMENT

Alex Fields Jr is seen attending the "Unite the Right" rally in Emancipation Park, Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017
Image captionAlex Fields Jr (l) was pictured taking part in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia

What’s the background?

The white supremacist rally was one of the largest such gatherings in America in decades.

Dozens were injured in the violence that erupted between white nationalists and counter-protesters.

The “Unite the Right” march was organised to protest against plans to remove a statue of a general who had fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War.

Graphic video of the incident involving Mr Fields’s car was widely shared on social media.

What did the jury hear?

Prosecutor Nina Antony said that photographic and video evidence would show that Mr Fields’s actions were pre-meditated and not motivated by self-protection, as the defence would argue.

She said that months before the incident, the reputed far-right sympathiser had posted pictures on Instagram showing a group of people being struck by a car.

“On August 12, James Alex Fields Jr was here in Charlottesville with anger and images of violence fixed in his mind. The case is about his decision to act on that anger and those images,” she said.

Demonstrators carry confederate and Nazi flags during the Unite the Right free speech rally at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017
Image captionThe white nationalist rally in Charlottesville was the biggest such event in America in decades

Among those who gave witness statements was Brendan Gilmore who said he had started filming on his mobile phone when he saw the car approach the crowd.

“I heard a sickening sound and saw bodies going everywhere,” he said.

Another witness was Marcus Martin who was photographed being thrown into the air by the force of the impact. He suffered a broken leg and ankle.

He described Heather Heyer as “a great person”.

Defence lawyer John Hill said the rally and counter-protest had descended into pitched battles with some people armed with guns.

He said that after his client was detained he had expressed remorse and told police that he “feared for his safety and that he was scared to death”.

The trial continues.

Members of the "alt-right" clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville
Image captionThe rally attracted a large counter-protest and clashes broke out

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Michael Cohen in court: Trump ex-lawyer admits lying to Congress

The BBC’s Anthony Zurcher analyses Mr Trump’s response.

US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted he lied about a Trump property deal in Russia during the 2016 election.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. He said he did so out of loyalty to Mr Trump.

Mr Trump said his former right-hand man was “lying” to prosecutors in the hope of receiving a reduced sentence.

A special counsel is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether Mr Trump colluded with it.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 election by handling hush money for Mr Trump’s alleged lovers.

What happened in court?

Appearing unexpectedly before a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday morning, Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress.

He said at the hearing that he had submitted a false written statement about a Trump Organization plan to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital.

“I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to individual 1,” Cohen said in court.

He has previously identified “individual 1” as Mr Trump.

Cohen was interviewed in October last year behind closed doors by lawmakers conducting their own investigation into whether Mr Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to sway the US election two years ago.

According to the criminal complaint, he told the Senate and House intelligence committees that talks over the Moscow project had lasted from September 2015 until January 2016, while Mr Trump was running for the White House.

But the criminal complaint says that “as Cohen well knew”, negotiations over the Moscow project continued until June 2016.

Cohen also told lawmakers he had had limited contact with Mr Trump about the project, when in fact it had been “more extensive”.

Prosecutors said Cohen had tried to give a false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Republican presidential campaign properly began in 2016.

▪ Trump calls Khashoggi murder ‘worst cover-up in history’

▪ ‘He said jobs were coming back’: the Trump voters who feel cheated

In a press scrum outside court, Cohen said nothing to reporters.

But his lawyer said: “Mr Cohen has co-operated. Mr Cohen will continue to co-operate.”


President’s political nightmare worsens

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Up until now, Michael Cohen had been a tangential figure in Donald Trump’s Russia-related headaches. After his plea agreement with the special counsel’s office, however, he’s now smack dab in the middle of Robert Mueller’s probe.

In particular, Cohen is sharing information with the special counsel about Mr Trump’s Russian business interests – including efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow – which, according to the president’s former personal lawyer, continued well into Mr Trump’s presidential campaign.

That runs counter to the president’s continued insistence that he had no financial ties to Russia – an assertion he frequently made when questioned about his past praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and efforts to improve US-Russian relations.

If Cohen can provide evidence supporting his claims, it would be a political nightmare for the president and, if Mr Trump made false claims in his recent written testimony to Mr Mueller, a legal one, as well.

The president has been tweeting furiously about the special counsel team in recent days, and given the steady drumbeat of news on Mr Mueller’s investigation, it feels as though a crescendo is approaching.


What did President Trump say?

As he left the White House for a G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Mr Trump told reporters of Cohen: “He’s a weak person and not a very smart person.

“He’s got himself a big prison sentence. And he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up this story.”

Donald Trump dismissed Michael Cohen as a “weak person” and a liar

Mr Trump told reporters of the Moscow real estate project, which never came to fruition: “When I’m running for president, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business.”

He added: “He’s lying about a project that everybody knew about. I mean, we were very open with it.”

Soon after those remarks, Mr Trump abruptly cancelled a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Argentina, citing the current Ukraine crisis.

▪ Trump vows to cut aid over migrant caravan

What else has Cohen admitted?

Cohen once famously vowed he would take a bullet for Mr Trump, but in April this year the pugnacious attorney’s home and office were raided by the FBI.

In August Cohen, who had been Mr Trump’s personal lawyer for more than a decade, pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

He said he had paid hush money to two women who alleged they had affairs with Mr Trump, at the direction of “the candidate”, implicating Mr Trump.

Undisclosed payments to bury embarrassing stories about a political candidate can be treated as a violation of US campaign finance laws.

In September, Cohen’s lawyer said his client had been providing “critical information” to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Trump voter: ‘They all break the law’

What else is going on with Mueller inquiry?

It has been a busy week for the special counsel.

On Monday, his prosecutors said in a court filing that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had lied to them, breaching a plea agreement.

Manafort has already pleaded guilty to a range of charges from money laundering to unregistered lobbying.

On Thursday, Mr Trump told reporters: “It is sad what happened to Paul.”

The president also said he had not explicitly offered a pardon to Manafort, but: “I’m not taking anything off the table.”

US media report that Mr Trump last week provided much-anticipated written answers to Mr Mueller’s questions about two key issues in the inquiry.

The president reportedly denied a political associate, Roger Stone, had tipped him off that Wikileaks would publish hacked Democratic emails, and said he had no knowledge of a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between his son and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Mr Mueller has already brought criminal charges against a series of former Trump aides and associates, including his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Russian individuals and entities.

The inquiry is ongoing, but no hard evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Kremlin has so far been produced.

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Trump calls Khashoggi murder ‘worst cover-up in history’

US & Canada

image

US President Donald Trump has called Saudi Arabia’s response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi “the worst cover-up ever”.

He added that whoever organised the plot “should be in big trouble”.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, shortly afterwards, that the US “will punish those responsible” and is revoking visas of 21 identified suspects.

The US has faced pressure to toughen its stance on Saudi Arabia, a key ally.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr Trump said: “They had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly and the cover up was the worst in the history of cover-ups.”

“Where it should have stopped is at the deal standpoint, when they thought about it,” he continued. “Because whoever thought of that idea, I think is in big trouble. And they should be in big trouble.”

The Saudi kingdom has provided conflicting accounts of what happened to Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post contributor. After weeks of maintaining he was still alive, the authorities now say the 59-year-old was killed in a rogue operation after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

image

In a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Mr Pompeo said that he and the president were “not happy with the situation”.

“We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this ruthless action to silence Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence,” he said.

When asked whether the US would accept Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s explanation of the incident, Mr Pompeo said: “We’re going to accept what America learns.”

“We have people working all across the world to put our own understanding together. We have to develop our own data set. We will learn the facts ourselves.”

All you need to know about Khashoggi’s death

Who’s who in the ‘hit squad’?

Who was the victim?

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told MPs from his ruling party that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was planned days in advance.

He said Turkey had strong evidence Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated and “savage” murder at the consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

He also called for the suspects to be tried in Istanbul.

image

Mr Erdogan’s address coincided with the start of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia that has been overshadowed by the Khashoggi case. Dozens of government and business leaders have pulled out, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared at the event on Tuesday.

Saudi summit begins despite calls for a boycott

How Saudis changed story on Khashoggi

Many world leaders have condemned the murder of the prominent Saudi critic and demanded a full investigation.

While Mr Trump has ramped up his criticisms of Saudi officials, he has also highlighted the kingdom’s importance as a US ally. CIA director Gina Haspel has been sent to Turkey to review the matter.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gives tour of luxury 'jail'

Saudi Arabia frees Prince Khaled bin Talal after months of detention

Middle East

Princes and other senior figures were held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh last year over corruption allegations
Princes and other senior figures were held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh last year over corruption allegations

A Saudi prince arrested for criticising a crackdown on corruption is reported to have been freed from detention.

Relatives of Prince Khaled bin Talal shared pictures on social media, purportedly taken this weekend, showing the prince greeting his family.

The prince, who was held for nearly a year, is a nephew of King Salman.

Prince Khaled’s brother, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, was among dozens of princes and other senior figures held in a corruption drive late last year.

The latest move comes amid intense pressure on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi .

Analysts say Saudi authorities appear to be trying to defuse the crisis by shoring up support from within the royal family.

“Thank god for your safety,” tweeted Prince Khaled’s niece, Princess Reem bint Alwaleed, posting images of him with other family members.

Other pictures shared by relatives showed the prince kissing and embracing his son, who has been in a coma for several years.

The Saudi government has given no official explanation for his detention, nor for his apparent release.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gives tour of luxury 'jail'
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gives tour of luxury ‘jail’

But the Wall Street Journal reported that he was held for 11 months for criticising last year’s mass detention of more than 200 princes, ministers and businessmen over allegations of corruption.

They were held in hotels in the capital Riyadh, including in the five-star Ritz-Carlton.

Analysts suggested that operation was an attempt by the crown prince to consolidate power.

At the end of January the Saudi prosecutor general’s office said more than $100bn (£77bn) had been recovered following financial settlements with those being held.

Khashoggi murder: Crown prince vows to punish ‘culprits’

Kidney wait boy Ethan Matthews ‘in pain for three years’

South West Wales.

_95769519_ethan.jpgFor nearly three years Ethan Matthews just wanted to play football with his friends and be like a “normal” boy.

Instead, he was in pain and facing a stressful wait, not knowing when he would have urgent surgery to remove his kidney.

Aged 11, Ethan, from Carmarthenshire, was told an infected abscess on his side had left him needing the operation – he did not get it until he was 14.

Now the ombudsman has criticised the “unacceptable delays” he faced.

Nick Bennett, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said it was likely his human rights had been compromised “due to the impact on both his physical and mental wellbeing”.

His report said health officials had agreed to apologise and adopt recommendations.

For Ethan’s father, Robert, it is “vindication” after he complained to the watchdog after a stressful three years for the whole family.

“To see your child cry because he was in pain… it was very difficult to take,” he said. “There was nothing we could do.”

Ethan, from Burry Port, was told his left kidney had become non-functioning after scans at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen in June 2014.

He was fitted with a tract in his side after suffering from a build up of fluid and visited his GP up to three times a week to have dressings changed prior to the surgery last year.

He was referred to a consultant at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and put on an urgent waiting list for his kidney to be removed.

But despite constant calls to the hospital – including to the chief executive – an appointment never came._102709817_dad.jpg

Mr Matthews said his son, who is now 15, missed out on a normal childhood for nearly three years.

“We had to ban Ethan and stop him from taking part in any contact sport – no football, no rugby, even general horseplay out with his mates. He couldn’t do it.

“At one point he asked us whether he could join army cadets and we had to say “no, just in case. You can’t risk having an injury to your side” – especially being left with an open wound to his side for three years. The risk of infection was quite high.”

He said he was told the wound on Ethan’s side would not heal until his kidney was removed – and over the three years it constantly became infected.

“He spent two years taking antibiotics to combat the infection in his side all the time,” said Mr Matthews.

“We were taking him back and forth to the GP’s surgery to change the dressing and to monitor it every week.

“Ethan became frustrated. He would constantly be asking “when am I having my operation done”. It was very difficult to tell him “we don’t know”.

“You have got no idea when it’ going to get sorted, when it will get done.

“He did get upset on numerous occasions with his side and there was nothing you could do. The only thing he could have done was to have his operation and we couldn’t get it done.”

‘Overjoyed and relieved’

Eventually, after two and a half years of waiting, as well as getting his local assembly member involved, Mr Matthews spoke out about his son’s plight in the media – “it was the last resort”.

“Low and behold, the day after it was broadcast we had a date for his operation,” Mr Matthews added.

“We were so overjoyed and relieved he would finally get his operation.”

Ethan, who finally had the nine-hour kidney removal operation in May 2017, added: “It’s a really good feeling that I can actually live a normal life again, playing sports and going out with my friends._88624621_nickbennett1.jpg

The ombudsman’s report into the delay said Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales did not tell the referring hospital that it could not meet treatment targets in this case, denying the opportunity for alternatives to be considered.

Mr Bennett said: “This is a shocking series of events where an 11-year-old child was unable to thrive for almost three years because of totally unacceptable delays.

“It has clearly been a dreadful experience for this young boy and his family and it is likely his human rights have been compromised due to the impact on both his physical and mental wellbeing, and the extent of suffering he has endured.”

His report said health officials have agreed to apologise and adopt recommendations.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it wanted to convey its “sincere apologies” for the distress caused to Ethan and his family.

“We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the patient and their relatives to personally convey our apologies and to provide some assurance with regard to the much improved referral to treatment time performance and the ongoing monitoring of the waiting lists,” a spokesman added.

Hywel Dda health board has been asked to comment.

Related Topics

Burry Port

Child health

Carmarthen

NHS Wales

Suspect package ‘found at De Niro restaurant’

US & CANADAWORLD NEWS

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US police investigate suspicious package found at New York restaurant owned by Robert De Niro, media reports say

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive Breaking News on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App. You can also follow us on Twitter,@BBCNewslight  to get the latest alerts.

Explosive device’ sent to Clintons and Obama

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Suspected explosive devices were sent to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former US President Barack Obama, according to the Secret Service.

It comes two days after a bomb was sent to the home of liberal philanthropist and financier George Soros at his home in the suburbs of New York City.

The devices were discovered by technicians who screen mail sent to the former US officials.

It was not immediately clear where the suspicious packages were found.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive Breaking News on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts.

Winning ticket in $1.6bn US Mega Millions lottery jackpot

US & Canada

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A lottery ticket holder in South Carolina has scooped the largest jackpot in US history.

Mega Millions confirmed there was one winner for the whopping $1.6bn (£1.2bn) prize .

The jackpot numbers were: 28, 70, 5, 62, 65, with a Mega Ball of 5. The odds of choosing those numbers were said to be one in more than 300 million.

People had been lining up at service stations and stores nationwide for a chance to win the huge prize.

Tickets for the Mega Millions draw are sold in 44 US states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands and there had not been a top prize winner since July.

“The moment we’ve been waiting for finally arrived, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Gordon Medenica, lead director of Mega Millions Group.

“This is truly a historic occasion. We’re so happy for the winner, and we know the South Carolina Education Lottery can’t wait to meet the lucky ticket holder.”The winner can decide to take a cash payout of $913m after tax, or opt to have it paid out in instalments over 29 years.

The huge jackpot had lottery ticket buyers speculating on what they would do with the money if they won. Some dreamt of buying an island or a fast car, others of opening shops and creating jobs.

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The lottery firm said Tuesday’s draw saw 36 people win second prize, and 419 win the $10,000 third prize.

Mega Millions was created in 2002 and has seen a number of changes to the rules over the years that have reduced the odds of winning, leading to larger jackpots.

Top five US previous jackpot wins

$1.58bn: A Powerball win in 2016. The prize was split three ways by ticket holders from California, Florida and Tennessee

$758.7m: Won in 2017 by mother-of-two Mavis Wanczyk from Massachusetts. She said she had picked the numbers based on relatives’ birthdays

$656m: A Mega Millions top prize win in 2012, shared between three winners who purchased tickets in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois

$648m: Another Mega Millions win, this time in 2013 by two ticket holders; a woman in Georgia and a man in California

$590.5m: A Powerball jackpot won by an 84-year-old Florida woman.

Payton Summons: Girl at centre of life support battle in Texas dies

     US & Canada

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A nine-year-old girl at the centre of a life support battle in Texas has “passed naturally”, her parents say.

Payton Summons, said by doctors to be brain dead, had been on life support following a heart attack in September.

Doctors had wanted to remove her from her ventilator but her parents obtained a court order forcing the Fort Worth hospital to keep her alive.

Under Texas law, a person is considered dead when they have lost all brain function.

Payton’s parents’ lawyer, Justin Moore, said she had not been taken off life support.

Justin A. Moore, ESQ.

This week, a judge ruled that a temporary restraining order against the hospital should be extended until Monday.
How did Payton fall ill?

She was staying with her grandmother when she woke up and said that she could not breathe.

She was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center, where doctors said in a statement she had “suffered a devastating injury to her brain due to being without oxygen for over an hour”.

This was caused by a tumour in her chest that had stopped her blood circulation. The doctors said they were able to revive her heartbeat but not her breathing. She was placed on a ventilator before doctors confirmed that she did not have brain activity.

Payton’s parents filed a temporary restraining order to keep her on life support while they tried to find another hospital that would accept her.

However, only two out of more than 20 institutions contacted said they might take her – “and those were preconditioned on certain things which may be life threatening to Payton if performed”, another lawyer for the family, Paul Stafford, told CNN.

President Donald Trump denies the allegations made by Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels and Trump: The conflicting statements

The controversy over an alleged affair between adult film star Stormy Daniels and US President Donald Trump has provided a deluge of troublesome headlines for the White House.

Ms Daniels is suing the president to get out of a so-called “hush agreement” before the 2016 election – the focus being a payment of $130,000 (£96,000) given to her by Mr Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in exchange for her silence.

But Mr Trump and his legal team have made apparently contradictory statements about the payment, raising questions about how much the president knew about it.

So from denials to confessions – here’s what the key players have said about the saga so far.

“He didn’t seem worried about it. He was kind of arrogant”

Stormy Daniels, 2011

In a 2011 interview with In Touch Weekly,published in full in January, Ms Daniels spoke at length about meeting Mr Trump at a charity golf tournament in July 2006.

She alleged that the pair had sex in his hotel room at Lake Tahoe, a resort area between California and Nevada, and had an “ongoing” relationship after this encounter. Mr Trump denied the allegations.

“President Trump… vehemently denies any such occurrence”

Michael Cohen, 12 January 2018

The Wall Street Journal published an articleearlier this year that claimed Mr Cohen had paid Ms Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 as part of an agreement that said she couldn’t discuss the affair publicly.

Mr Cohen denied making the payment, and said all allegations had been “consistently denied by all parties” for years.

“An old and debunked story”

Michael Cohen, 17 January 2018

When the In Touch Weekly interview was published, Mr Cohen issued a statement denying that there had been an affair or a payment.

“This is not Breaking News… it’s old news that wasn’t true then and not true now,” Mr Cohen told the New York Daily News. “All they did is recirculate an old and debunked story.”

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen is facing a prison sentence

“The payment was lawful”

Michael Cohen, 13 February 2018

In February, Mr Cohen announced for the first time that he had in fact paid Ms Daniels the money.

He said neither the Trump campaign nor the Trump Organization had known anything about the payment, which he had made from his own pocket. “Neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” he told the New York Times.

“[It] was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

“Stormy is going to tell her story”

Gina Rodriguez, Ms Daniels’s manager, 14 February 2018

Ms Daniels’ manager said her client was free to tell her story after the announcement by Mr Cohen.

Gina Rodriguez argued that Ms Daniels was no longer bound by the non-disclosure agreement. “Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story,” she said.

“Yes”

Michael Avenatti, Ms Daniels’ lawyer, 7 March 2018

Michael Avenatti
Michael Avenatti, Ms Daniels’ lawyer, says Americans “should be outraged”

Ms Daniels’s lawyer was unequivocal when asked on NBC’s Today programme whether Ms Daniels had had a sexual relationship with Mr Trump.

“There was no knowledge of any payments”

Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, 7 March 2018

“I’ve had conversations with the president about this,” Ms Sanders said in reference to the payment from Mr Cohen.

“There was no knowledge of any payments from the president, and he has denied all these allegations.”

“Leave Trump alone. Forget the story”

Stormy Daniels, 25 March 2018

Stormy Daniels: ‘I was threatened’

In a hotly anticipated interview with CBS News’s 60 Minutes programme, Ms Daniels said she had been threatened to keep quiet about the alleged affair with Mr Trump.

She said a man had approached her in a Las Vegas car park in 2011, shortly after she agreed to the In Touch Weekly interview, and had told her to “leave Trump alone”.

“No”

Donald Trump, 5 April 2018

In his first public comments about the alleged affair, Mr Trump denied knowing about the $130,000 payment.

Asked by a reporter why Mr Cohen had made it, he said: “Michael is my attorney, and you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.”

On 5 April Donald Trump said “I don’t know” about a payment to Stormy Daniels

“The president repaid it”

Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s legal aide, 3 May 2018

The former New York City mayor, who had only recently joined Mr Trump’s legal team, told Fox News that the president had personally repaid Mr Cohen for the $130,000 payment.

“That money was not campaign money,” he said. “They funnelled it through a law firm and the president repaid it.”

Report

Mr Giuliani said the repayment had been made “over a period of several months”.

He added that the president “didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know, but he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this”.

“Every American should be outraged”

Michael Avenatti, 3 May 2018

The lawyer for Ms Daniels responded to Mr Giuliani’s revelation on Twitter. “This should never be acceptable in our America. We will not rest until justice is served,” he said.

Report

“Campaign contributions played no role”

Donald Trump, 3 May 2018

President Trump said the payment to Ms Daniels had been made and that Mr Cohen had been reimbursed through a “monthly retainer” as opposed to campaign funds.

“Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll [sic] in this transaction,” he tweeted.

He branded Ms Daniels’ claims of an affair “false and extortionist”.

Report

“He will get his facts straight”

Donald Trump, 4 May 2018

Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump cast doubt on Mr Giuliani’s account by explaining that his lawyer was new to the job and not “familiar with everything”.

“He started yesterday,” the president told reporters. “He’ll get his facts straight. He’s a great guy.”

Trump on Giuliani: ‘He’ll get his facts straight’

“Clarify”

Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s legal aide, 4 May 2018

In Mr Giuliani’s subsequent statement “intended to clarify” his remarks, he said: “There is no campaign violation.

“The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president’s family. It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.”

He added: “My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the president’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters.”

“The payment made by Mr Cohen is required to be reported”

David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, 16 May 2018

Donald Trump officially disclosed his reimbursement to his lawyer.

The Office of Government Ethics stated that he ought to have revealed the payment in his previous financial disclosure.

“A woman who sells her body for sexual exploitation, I don’t respect”

Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s legal aide, 7 June 2018

Mr Giuliani said Ms Daniels did not deserve “respect” due to her sex work.

Michael Avenatti, the porn star’s lawyer, responded by calling Mr Giuliani an “absolute pig”.

“So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?”

Donald Trump, speaking in secret recording from September 2016, broadcast on 25 July 2018

A recording of a conversation in which Mr Trump and Mr Cohen discuss a payoff over an alleged affair with another woman, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, was broadcast by CNN.

The audiotape was recorded in September 2016, two months before the election. The affair allegedly dates to 2006.

Rudy Giuliani said no money had been paid, and the tape did not show evidence of any crime.

Speculation mounted over what Mr Cohen, now under investigation for breaking electoral finance rules, might further reveal.

“I participated in this conduct with the purpose of influencing the election”

Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to electoral finance violations, 21 August 2018

Cohen told a court in New York that he had in fact paid hush money to two women, believed to be Ms Daniels and Ms McDougal, and had done so “at the direction” of Mr Trump.

“Later on I knew”

Donald Trump, speaking in interview, 23 August July 2018

Mr Trump admitted that the hush money paid by Cohen was his own but argued that the law had not been broken because it had not come out of his campaign funds.

He said again that he had not known about the payments until “later on”.