Coronavirus: 'I don't regret what I did,' says Dominic Cummings - BBC News
Dominic Cummings, the UK PM’s aide, says he "behaved reasonably" as he explains his actions during lockdown.
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionDominic Cummings: "I believe that in all the circumstances, that I behaved reasonably and legally" The PM's chief adviser Dominic Cummings has said "I don't regret what I did" as he explained his actions during the coronavirus lockdown. He said he did not to tell the prime minister when he decided to drive his family 260 miles during lockdown, when his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms. He told reporters he believed he was acting "reasonably" and within the law. He said he had not considered resigning over the issue - but should have made a statement on it earlier. "I don't think I am so different and that is one rule for me and one rule for other people," he said in a statement in to reporters in the Downing Street garden. He said "I do not regret what I did" but added that "reasonable people may well disagree". The prime minister gave a statement on Sunday in support of his chief adviser in an attempt to draw a line under the row - but many people, including Conservative MPs, have continued to call for Mr Cummings' dismissal. He also revealed that his four-year-old son had been taken to hospital while he was self-isolating at his family's farm, in Durham. He was not surprised that lots of people were angry, he said, but "it was a complicated, tricky situation". He explained that he decided to take his family to Durham when his wife became ill because there were no child care options in London. He insisted they did not stop during the 260 mile journey to Durham but may have stopped on the return to London. He said he isolated in a cottage on his father's farm 50 metres from his parents' home. By BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake Dominic Cummings has given a detailed account of what he did, when and why. So what have we learned from his side of the story? He described the fact that his London home had become a "target" which led him to fear for the safety of his family. He also admitted not telling the prime minister about his decision to decide to travel to his parent's property in Durham. He explained some of the uncertainties about his movements including what he was doing in Barnard Castle (to test his eyesight for driving) and whether he stopped on the journey from London (he didn't). But on several occasions Mr Cummings described the "exceptional circumstances" of providing care for a small child, which he believed the guidelines allow. He acknowledged that people were angry and "hated the idea of unfairness" - and admitted that he should have made a statement sooner. But this was an explanation for his actions, not an apology. It will be for people to judge whether they accept it as a justification for what many see as acting against the spirit, if not the letter of the rules.
Zack Snyder's Justice League re-cut headed for HBO Max - BBC News
The announcement comes a week ahead of the launch of the new HBO streaming service.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Zack Snyder's new edit of the Justice League will air on HBO Max next year HBO Max has announced it will air a re-versioned edition of the superhero film Justice League. The new cut will be done by the film's original director Zack Snyder, who left the production of the film before it was finished due to a family tragedy. Joss Whedon, the director of The Avengers, was brought in to complete the film, but fans complained he made the film too light-hearted. HBO's announcement comes a week before the release its new streaming service. Warner Media, which produced Justice League, is also the parent company of HBO. Competition among streaming services has heated up over the last year as more companies have entered the field. Announcing content with Hollywood A-listers has been one way that services have tried to attract subscribers. A darker Justice League Many fans have been calling for a "Snyder-cut" of Justice League since the film was released in 2017. Synder completed most the filming for the movie based on the DC Comic Book. But he stepped away from the project before post-production and editing work following the suicide of his daughter. Whedon, who created the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, did several reshoots and fans suggested he gave the film a lighter tone than Synder's original intent. Image copyrightTwitterImage caption The announcement was tweeted by HBO Max account On social media, the hashtag #ReleasetheSnyderCut has been used by fans calling for a new version of the film. It is not yet known whether the new version, set to be released in 2021 will be a six-part series or a nearly four-hour long directors-cut film. Streaming competition HBO Max is not the only service looking to big names or familiar franchise to attract subscribers. Earlier this week Apple TV Plus announced it would premier the Tom Hanks' film Greyhound, developed by Sony Pictures. The film was set to have a theatrical release in June, but executives changed course because of concern the coronavirus pandemic would keep viewers away from cinemas. When Disney Plus launched in November, it promoted its new Star Wars series The Mandalorian. Short-form streaming app Quibi spent billions on new programming featuring stars ranging from actress Sophie Turner to Chance the Rapper and celebrity chef Evan Funke. More competition is entering the streaming market as well. NBCUniversal's streaming service Peacock will make its debut in July. HBO Max begins service in the US on 27 May.
Canada Facebook fines $6.5m over 'false' privacy claims - BBC News
Canada's Competition Bureau said the tech firm improperly shared users' data with third parties.
Image copyrightNurPhoto via Getty ImagesImage caption Facebook has billions of users worldwide Facebook will pay a multi-million dollar penalty for making "false" privacy claims in Canada. The C$9m ($6.5m; £5.3m) fine is part of a settlement over the company's handling of users' personal information between August 2012 and June 2018. Canada's independent Competition Bureau said the tech firm improperly shared data with third-party developers. Facebook says it "did not agree" with the finding but wants to resolve the matter. On Tuesday, Canada's Competition Bureau announced the tech giant will pay the penalty after concluding "the company made false or misleading claims about the privacy of Canadians' personal information on Facebook and [messaging app] Messenger". The competition watchdog said it found that Facebook's privacy claims were not consistent with the way it shared personal dataof users with some third-party developers. A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters that "although we do not agree with the Commissioner's conclusions, we are resolving this matter by entering into a consent agreement and not contesting the conclusions for the purposes of this agreement". The social media giant has also agreed to not make any false or misleading representations about the disclosure of personal information as part of the settlement. The tech firm has faced criticism in recent years over its handling of fake news during 2016 elections, as well as the improper sharing of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook was found to have allowed Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, to access to the data of millions of users. The data was acquired via a quiz hosted on the social media platform, which invited users to find out their personality type. As was common with apps and games at that time, it was designed to harvest not only the user data of the person taking part in the quiz, but also the data of their friends. The date of an estimated 87 million Facebook users was shared worldwide. About 620,000 of those were in Canada. In January, US regulators announced a record $5bn fine against Facebook to settle privacy concerns. In October 2018, Facebook was fined £500,000 by the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in for what it called a "serious breach" of the law. And in March, Australia's privacy regulator said it was taking Facebook to court over the Cambridge Analytica matter. In December, Facebook said its social network site counted an average of 1.7 billion active users each day during that month. It has an estimated 24 million monthly active users in Canada.
Coronavirus: WTO head steps down a year early as downturn looms - BBC News
Roberto Azevedo's exit comes as global trade is expected to slump to historic lows amid the pandemic.
Image copyrightGetty Images The head of the World Trade Organization has said he will step down a year earlier than planned, at a crucial moment for the global economy. Roberto Azevedo's surprise departure comes as the WTO faces the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and criticism from US President Donald Trump. Global trade has slumped and the world is braced for the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, Mr Trump has accused the body of treating America unfairly. Mr Azevedo said his early departure as the WTO's director-general was a "personal decision" that was in the best interests of the organisation. "The WTO may not be perfect, but it is indispensable all the same. It is what keeps us from a world where the law of the jungle prevails, at least as far as trade is concerned." The Trump administration has repeatedly accused the global trade watchdog of having strayed from its purpose to liberalise and protect markets, and that conditions around China's entry into the organisation in 2001 have led to millions of American job losses. Asked about Mr Azevedo's exit, Mr Trump, who had previously said the US would leave the organisation if it didn't change, said he was "OK with it". "We've been treated very badly... They treat China as a developing nation. Therefore China gets a lot of the benefits that the US doesn't get," he added. Mr Azevedo's departure comes at an especially difficult time for the WTO, with global trade expected to slump to historic lows as measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 shut down economic activity around the world. At the same time the Geneva-based body last year saw one of its main functions, arbitrating trade disputes, hobbled by the US. Washington's dispute with the WTO has seen it block the appointment of judges to the organisation's top court, called the Appellate Body, since December 2019. It means it has too few officials to rule on major trade disputes between countries. Along with the US, other WTO members, including Japan and the European Union, have pushed for the WTO to make far-reaching reforms. They argue that global trading rules need to reflect new realities, notably the rise of China as a powerful economy, and address problems such as state subsidies and forced technology transfers.
Anna Jarvis: The woman who regretted creating Mother's Day - BBC News
She created Mother's Day out of love for her own mother but was shocked by how it became commercialised.
Image copyrightGetty Images The woman responsible for the creation of Mother's Day, marked in the many countries on the second Sunday in May, would have approved of the modest celebrations likely to take place this year. The commercialisation of the day horrified her - to the extent that she even campaigned to have it rescinded. When Elizabeth Burr received a phone call a few days ago from someone asking about her family history, she initially thought she had been scammed. "I thought, 'OK, my identity has been stolen, I'll never see my money again,'" she says. In fact the call came from a family history researcher looking for living relatives of Anna Jarvis, the woman who founded Mother's Day in the US over a century ago. Anna Jarvis was one of 13 children, only four of whom lived to adulthood. Her older brother was the only one to have children of his own, but many died young from tuberculosis and his last direct descendant died in the 1980s. So Elizabeth Zetland of MyHeritage decided to look for first cousins, and that was what led her to Elizabeth Burr. When Elizabeth had been reassured that her savings were safe, she gave MyHeritage the surprising news that her father and aunts hadn't celebrated Mother's Day when they were growing up - out of respect for Anna, and her feeling that her idea had been hijacked by commercial interests and debased. Anna Jarvis's campaign for a special day to celebrate mothers was one she inherited from her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis. Mrs Jarvis had spent her life mobilising mothers to care for their children, says historian Katharine Antolini, and she wanted mothers' work to be recognised. "I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers' day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it," Mrs Jarvis said. She was very active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, where, from 1858, she ran Mothers' Day Work Clubs to combat high infant and child mortality rates, mostly due to diseases that ravaged their community in Grafton, West Virginia. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Ann Reeves Jarvis In the work clubs mothers learned about hygiene and sanitation, such as the vital importance of boiling drinking water. The organisers provided medicine and supplies to sick families and, when necessary, quarantined entire households to prevent epidemics. Mrs Jarvis herself lost nine children, including five during the American Civil War (1861-1865) who most likely succumbed to disease, says Antolini, a professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College. When Mrs Jarvis died in 1905, surrounded by her four surviving children, a grief-stricken Anna promised to fulfil her mother's dream, though her approach to the memorial day was quite different, Antolini says. Whereas Mrs Jarvis wanted to celebrate the work done by mothers to improve the lives of others, Anna's perspective was that of a devoted daughter. Her motto for Mother's Day was "For the Best Mother who Ever LivedYour Mother." This was why the apostrophe had to be singular, not plural. "Anna envisioned the holiday as a home-coming, a day to honour your mother, the one woman who dedicated her life to you," says Antolini. Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday?
- In the UK the fourth Sunday in Lent has long been celebrated as Mothering Sunday - originally a day when people who had left home returned to their "mother church" and were reunited with their parents
- A movement to revive Mothering Sunday traditions was launched in 1920 by a Nottinghamshire woman, Constance Penswick Smith, out of concern that the secular US Mother's Day would displace the Christian Mothering Sunday
- Anna Jarvis's chosen day, the second Sunday in May has been adopted by many countries, but a wide variety of other dates are also used around the world
Coronavirus: Google ends plans for smart city in Toronto - BBC News
Sister firm Sidewalk Labs cites Covid-19 as the reason for stepping back from its ambitious plan.
Image copyrightWaterfront TorontoImage caption The former dockland and industrial area of Toronto that Sidewalk Labs planned to develop sits on the edge of Lake Ontario Google's sister firm Sidewalk Labs has scrapped a plan to build a smart city in Canada, citing complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. For several years it had pursued ambitions to build a digital-first city in Toronto "from the internet up". Chief executive Dan Doctoroff blamed "unprecedented economic uncertainty" for abandoning the plan. The project had proved controversial and Sidewalk Labs had already been forced to scale back its ambitions. In a blog post, Mr Doctoroff said: "As unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world, and in the Toronto real estate market, it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed together with Waterfront Toronto to build a truly inclusive, sustainable community. "I believe the ideas we have developed over the last two-and-a-half years will represent a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban problems, particularly in the areas of affordability and sustainability." The vision was to have a city full of technology, from autonomous cars to innovative ways of collecting rubbish, and hundreds of sensors collecting data on air quality and the movements of people. Buildings would be sustainable and built in radical new ways, and cycle lanes would be heated. But some questioned how Sidewalk Labs had won the contract. When it emerged that it planned to develop a much larger site than originally stated, a lobby group of citizens opposing the plans emerged, asking why they would want to be "lab rats" in a digital experiment. An independent panel was set up to scrutinise its plans and released a report suggesting some of its ideas were "tech for tech's sake", and potentially unnecessary. Sidewalk Labs was eventually given a tentative green light to continue its plan, but it was heavily scaled back from the 190-acre site it wanted to work with to a 12-acre piece of land. It was also told that any data it collected from its sensors would have to become a public asset. Stephen Diamond is chairman of Waterfront Toronto, the body set up to oversee development of the site. Reacting to Sidewalk's announcement, he said: "While this is not the outcome we had hoped for, Waterfront Toronto offers thanks and appreciation to Sidewalk Labs for its vision, effort and the many commitments that both the company and its employees have made to the future of Toronto. "Quayside remains an excellent opportunity to explore innovative solutions to affordable housing, improved mobility, climate change and several other urban challenges that Toronto - and cities around the world - must address in order to continue to grow and succeed." In his blog, Dan Doctoroff said the firm continued to invest in start-ups "working on everything from robotic furniture to digital electricity". "We continue to work internally on factory-made mass timber construction that can improve housing affordability"
Coronavirus: Russian PM Mishustin tests positive for virus - BBC News
Mikhail Mishustin, who got the role in January, is shown revealing his diagnosis on Russian TV.
Image copyrightReutersImage caption The diagnosis was announced during a televised video-call with President Putin Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has gone to hospital after he was diagnosed with coronavirus. His positive test came on the same day that Russia recorded a record 7,099 cases, taking the total number of infections above 100,000. Mr Mishustin was given the role of prime minister in January and has been actively involved in Russia's handling of the epidemic. Russian TV showed him telling President Vladimir Putin of his diagnosis. "I have just learned that the test on the coronavirus I took was positive," the prime minister said during the video call. Mr Mishustin suggested that First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov should take his place and Mr Putin agreed. Mr Mishustin will now go into self-isolation. "What's happening to you can happen to anyone, and I've always been saying this," Mr Putin told him. "You are a very active person. I would like to thank you for the work that has been done so far." Mikhail Mishustin is the first senior politician here to fall sick with coronavirus. He looked exhausted as he informed President Putin, via a video call, that he had tested positive and was handing over his responsibilities and heading into self-isolation. Mr Putin said it only showed how the virus did not discriminate. He told the prime minister to give him a call when he got to hospital. Mr Mishustin himself used the chance to urge all Russians to take coronavirus seriously, and to stay at home as an 11-day, extended May holiday begins. Officials fear warmer weather will send families rushing to the countryside as usual. So Moscow is increasing the number of police patrols in the coming days, to ensure people stick to the strict lockdown. Despite the sharp rise in cases, the Moscow-based coronavirus headquarters says 1,073 people in Russia have now died of coronavirus, a relatively low number for Russia's size. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia's reaction to the pandemic has enabled it to avoid an "Italian scenario". But President Putin warned this week that Russia did not have enough protective equipment for health workers and medics have complained in several regions of having insufficient protective suits. Moscow's Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, has meanwhile said he believes many of those living in the Russian capital do not realise how serious the situation is. He said he had seen more people violating the restrictions, estimating his city was only a quarter of the way through the crisis. "If we see things are getting better, then of course we will reduce the restrictions. But until that happens, you need to be courageous and patient. It's very important for you and your health," he said.
Coronavirus: President Trump’s testing claims fact-checked - BBC News
President Trump has made several claims about coronavirus testing in the US - is he right?
Image copyrightGetty Images In a video clip posted by the White House on Twitter, President Trump has made several claims about testing policy in the United States, an issue over which his administration has faced significant criticism. We've been checking these claims out. Claim one "We have tested more than all countries put together the testing has been incredible now, and to a level that nobody's seen." President Trump says the US has carried out more tests than every other country in the world combined. The latest data shows that a total of 6,026,170 tests have been carried out in the US. This is more than any other single country. However, it's nowhere near as many as the rest of the world combined. Just adding together the totals of Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK gives you more than the US. The US also still lags behind several other nations in terms of testing per capita. Exact testing comparisons can be difficult as countries count testing in different ways. But looking at the latest data available, the US has carried out about one test in every 55 people. Italy has performed around one in every 30 people, Spain around one in every 45, and Australia around one in every 45. Claim two "We had old-fashioned tests that didn't work - they were really obsolete - they didn't work, they were broken." President Trump says his administration had a "broken" test that didn't work when first testing for the coronavirus. He has previously said: "We inherited a broken test - the whole thing was broken." The US did have faulty tests initially after the White House conceded the first batch sent out by the government's central health body produced inconclusive results. Image copyrightGetty Images However, these tests were introduced in February under the Trump administration so they weren't inherited or old. In early March, the White House conceded the US did not have enough testing kits, but since then it has significantly ramped up testing, with the total number increasing six fold since the start of April. Claim three "Millions of tests - and the highest quality." When President Trump talks about the "highest quality" tests, it's not exactly clear what he's referring to. He has previously said the US tests are "better" than those used in other countries. However, when it comes to antigen tests - tests that tell you if someone currently has coronavirus - the accuracy tends to be similar across the globe. The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, an independent evaluator of tests, based in Switzerland, says its results "see equally good performance from companies in multiple countries". Antibody tests - which tell you if someone has previously had Covid-19 - have so far proved unreliable and have not been widely rolled out. So, the "millions of tests" must be the antigen ones. There is no clear evidence that these tests in the US are any better or worse than in any other country. Read more from Reality Check Send us your questions Follow us on Twitter
Brazil justice minister Moro quits in Bolsonaro clash - BBC News
Sergio Moro, famous for fighting corruption, opposed the dismissal of Brazil's police chief.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Justice Minister Sergio Moro has been seen as a key figure in the government Brazil's Justice Minister Sergio Moro has resigned amid tension with President Jair Bolsonaro. Mr Moro, a former judge, had threatened to quit after the president fired one of his allies - federal police chief Mauricio Valeixo - on Thursday. Speaking on TV, Mr Moro said angrily there was no reason to sack Mr Valeixo, and called it political interference. Mr Moro is one of the president's most popular ministers. He oversaw Brazil's biggest-ever anti-corruption probe. Mr Valeixo's dismissal was announced, with no further details, in the official gazette. Mr Moro had threatened to resign if Mr Valeixo were dismissed, but then said he would stay if he were allowed to choose a replacement. Brazil's currency - the real - sank to a record low of 5.50 per dollar on Thursday, amid the political uncertainty. In mid-April the right-wing president sacked his health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, for his response to the coronavirus pandemic. The minister had advocated social distancing, which Mr Bolsonaro has scorned. Fighting corruption was a central issue for Jair Bolsonaro in his 2018 presidential campaign. Media captionThe BBC's South America correspondent Katy Watson looks at how Bolsonaro has responded to the virus in Brazil The BBC's South America correspondent Katy Watson says Mr Moro made a damning speech, accusing President Bolsonaro of meddling in federal police efforts to fight corruption. After announcing his resignation the sound of pot-banging protests rang out in cities across Brazil. Seen as an anti-corruption crusader, he was a star pick when Mr Bolsonaro asked him to join the government. Earlier Mr Moro oversaw a huge corruption probe which exposed billions of dollars in bribes and ended in the jailing of many powerful businessmen and politicians, including leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. BBC Americas editor Candace Piette says Mr Moro's accusations against President Bolsonaro have thrown Brazil into an institutional crisis. He accused the president of trying to remove the federal police chief for no other reason than to secure intelligence on police investigations. Mr Moro also said President Bolsonaro had expressed concerns about supreme court investigations, without specifying which had caused concern. The court is currently investigating the activities of the president's sons. It has also opened an inquiry into the possible financing of last week's anti-democracy protests by supporters of the president. Both charges could further damage an already unpopular president, Candace Piette reports. Mr Moro once said he "would never enter politics", but later agreed to serve in Mr Bolsonaro's cabinet, in order to fight corruption and organised crime. He was promised full autonomy for his department, which united the justice and public security portfolio in a so-called "super ministry".