“Operation GGO” is underway. The mission: Get Ghislaine out of jail.
A friend has taken up the cause of springing Ghislaine Maxwell from her Brooklyn cellhole, claiming she is on the verge of starvation and humiliated every day by her prison-issued paper clothes.
Brian Basham is a close family friend who wants federal authorities to grant the British socialite bail while she waits to be tried for sex trafficking next summer, the Telegraph reported. Two weeks after Maxwell was taken into custody, a judge denied her bond offer of $5 million, deeming her a flight risk. She maintains her innocence.
Basham insists Maxwell has lost 25 pounds in the four months she has been behind bars, because corrections officials won’t give her the vegan diet she follows. One day, she went 20 hours without food, he told the Telegraph. When she complained, guards removed her scale.
Another point of contention is Maxwell’s wardrobe of paper clothes. Maxwell isn’t even allowed to wear a bra, Basham complained, because she is considered a suicide risk. The six charges she faces stem from her friendship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in his Manhattan jail cell more than a year ago. Epstein was taken off suicide watch about two weeks before he killed himself.
Finally, Basham alleges Maxwell is stuck alone in a 9-by-7 cell with absolutely no human contact — even the jail guards have stopped talking to her — and she isn’t receiving letters her sisters have written.
That Maxwell has not been granted bail is an outrage to Basham, who pointed out convicted sex offenders Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby were both free while they awaited their trials.
“They were men who were a danger to women,” he told the Telegraph. “That can’t be said of Ghislaine at all.”
As for Maxwell fleeing the country on one of her three passports, Basham said: “One of the passports is a French passport. From the moment Jeffrey Epstein was arrested she could have gone to France, but she stayed.”
The French government is imposing a curfew on two-thirds of the country - 46 million people - from Friday night for six weeks, after a record 41,622 new coronavirus infections in one day.
The total infected in the epidemic has now passed one million. In Europe, only Spain and Russia have reached that.
A week ago night curfews were introduced in Paris and eight other French cities. Now 38 more areas will have curfews from 21:00 to 06:00.
Most of Europe has rising infections.
Slovakia is to impose a partial lockdown for a week from Saturday, allowing only travel to work, shopping for essentials and school for younger children.
New lockdowns have come into force in the Czech Republic and Republic of Ireland.
There are also high infection rates in Belgium, Spain and Italy, putting many hospitals under severe pressure.
Italy's Lazio and Campania regions begin night curfews on Friday, a day after one took effect in Lombardy in the north.
French crisis deepens.
The wider French curfew comes into effect at midnight (22:00 GMT) on Friday, then at 21:00 from Saturday onwards.
It has drawn complaints from restaurant and bar owners, whose businesses are already suffering after the two-month lockdown in the spring.
In several regions of France, more than half the intensive care beds are now occupied by Covid-19 patients. Over the past 24 hours France recorded 162 more deaths.
A new French app called "#TousAntiCovid" has been launched, to replace the previous one "#StopCovid" that was downloaded by only 2.7 million people - far below the take-up of similar anti-Covid apps in the UK and Germany.
#TousAntiCovid is a smartphone tracing tool with more local information than the previous app.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said "circulation of the virus has today reached a very high level" - 251 infections per 100,000 people in the past week.
He said that was a 40% increase in one week and the reproduction (R) rate was around 1.35, "which basically means a doubling of the number of cases every two weeks". The R rate measures how many others each infected person is passing the virus on to.
Elsewhere in Europe:
Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has labelled the British and Americans "hypocrites" and "champions of double talk" for the way they have behaved over the Chagos Islands.
Last year, a UN court ruled that the UK should end its control of the Indian Ocean archipelago, which includes a US military base.
Mauritius says it was forced to trade the islands in 1965 for independence.
The UK has said it does not recognise Mauritius' claim to sovereignty.
Between 1968 and 1974, the UK forcibly removed thousands of Chagossians from their homelands and sent them more than 1,600km (1,000 miles) away to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they faced extreme poverty and discrimination.
On Sunday in the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, in front of a crowd composed mainly of Chagossians and their descendants, Mr Jugnauth said the UK and US lectured countries "to respect human rights, but they are champions of double talk."
"They are hypocrites. Shame on them when they talk about human rights and respect," he added.
With the backing of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Mauritius no longer wants to be pushed around by its former colonial power, reports the BBC's Yasine Mohabuth from Port Louis.
In a statement last year the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that the UK "has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814".
"Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK does not recognise its claim."
But at the ICJ, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf described the UK's administration of the Chagos Islands as "an unlawful act of continuing character".
In an advisory opinion in February 2019 the ICJ said that the archipelago should be handed over to Mauritius in order to complete its "decolonisation".
'A just fight'
Then three months later, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Chagos Islands being returned - with 116 states backing the move and only six against.
But the UK did not act describing the ICJ ruling as an "advisory opinion, not a judgment".
On Sunday, Mr Jugnauth said: "Our fight is just. The majority of countries support us... we will not retreat," he added.
Last year, he described the UK as an "illegal occupier".
The Chagos Archipelago was separated from Mauritius in 1965, when Mauritius was still a British colony. Britain purchased it for £3m - creating the BIOT.
'Crime against humanity'
Mauritius says it was forced to give it up in exchange for independence, which it gained in 1968.
The Chagossians were evicted and the UK then invited the US to build a military base on Diego Garcia.
US planes have been sent from the base to carrying out bombing raids in Afghanistan and Iraq. The facility was also reportedly used as a "black site" by the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects. In 2016, the lease for the base was extended until 2036.
The UK has repeatedly apologised for the forced evictions, which Mr Jugnauth has said were akin to a crime against humanity. It has also promised to hand the islands over to Mauritius when they are no longer needed for security purposes.
The UK government has said: "The defence facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy."
In 2002, the British Overseas Territories Act granted British citizenship to resettled Chagossians born between 1969 and 1982. But the 13-year window has left some families divided.
Source: BBC News
The first woman to be executed by the US government in decades will be Lisa Montgomery, who strangled a pregnant woman, cut her open, and kidnapped her baby, the Justice Department has said.
Montgomery is scheduled to be killed by lethal injection on 8 December at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Sixteen women have been executed by state authorities since a landmark case in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre, but the federal government hasn't used capital punishment against a female since 1953, when Bonnie Heady was put in a gas chamber in Missouri.
Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the town of Skidmore, Missouri, in December 2004.
Montgomery travelled from Kansas home to Ms Stinnett's house saying she wanted to adopt a puppy, according to the Justice Department.
When she arrived, Montgomery throttled her victim, who was eight months pregnant at the time, but did not succeed in killing her, leaving her conscious enough to try to defend herself.
Montgomery then used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from the womb and took the child away with her, later attempting to say the girl was her own.
She pleaded insanity when the case came to court and her lawyers claimed she had been suffering from delusions at the time of the murder.
A statement from the Justice Department said: "In October 2007, a jury in the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri found Montgomery guilty of federal kidnapping resulting in death, and unanimously recommended a death sentence, which the court imposed.
"Her conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal, and her request for collateral relief was rejected by every court that considered it."
Montgomery's lawyers had also argued she was suffering from pseudocyesis, a condition that results in a woman falsely believing she is pregnant and exhibiting outward signs of pregnancy.
The defence argued she was abused as a child and said that because of her severe mental illness, her delusion of being pregnant was being threatened, causing her to enter a dreamlike state at the time of the murder.
But during closing arguments, federal prosecutor Roseann Ketchmark said the pseudocyesis claim was "voodoo science."
She said Montgomery was afraid because she believed her ex-husband would expose she was lying about her pregnancy and use it against her as he tried to win custody of two of the couple's four children, NBC wrote at the time.
She would be the ninth federal convicted criminal to be put to death since the Justice Department resumed executions in July after a break of nearly 20 years.
A landslide in Vietnam has killed at least 22 people days after another killed 13.
In the latest incident, rocks and earth slid down a mountain onto an army base after a week of continuous rain in Quang Tri province.
State-run Vietnam News Agency said eight people were able to get away, but the others were thought to be trapped underneath mud.
Three bodies were recovered as about 100 rescuers dug through the debris looking for the missing.
On Thursday, another landslide in Thua Thien-Hue, the province next to Quang Tri, killed 13, 11 of whom were army officers.
The group were on their way to a third landslide that was reported to have buried 16 workers at a site where a hydroelectric plant is being built.
That scene remains inaccessible and is yet to be reached.
Driving rain has caused major flooding in central Vietnam in the last week and forecasters say more downpours are on the way.
Meanwhile, another 15 are unaccounted for after a landslide in northern Pakistan buried a minibus.
Rescue workers have been digging through the wreckage in the hope of finding survivors, police said.
The bus was travelling from the city of Rawalpindi in Punjab province to the scenic city of Skardu at the time.
Police officer Wakil Khan said the chances of finding anyone alive were bleak
British Airways is to be fined £20m after losing the personal and financial details of more than 400,000 customers in a cyber attack.
The fine is considerably lower than the £183m fine which the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) had initially notified the company of last year.
According to the ICO, the regulator took into account "representations from BA and the economic impact of COVID-19 on their business before setting a final penalty".
It comes as the company's chief executive told MPs back in September that the business was "fighting for its survival" as a consequence of the pandemic.
The ICO said it took into account the economic impact of its initial fine as part of its regulatory action policy, which is currently under review.
Announcing the £20m fine, Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, described British Airways' "failure to act" as "unacceptable" and said the fine was the biggest it had ever issued despite the £163m reprieve.
The credit card details of 429,612 customers were compromised in the incident back in 2018. The ICO confirmed that this "included names, addresses, payment card numbers and CVV numbers of 244,000 BA customers".
"Other details thought to have been accessed include the combined card and CVV numbers of 77,000 customers and card numbers only for 108,000 customers.
"Usernames and passwords of BA employee and administrator accounts as well as usernames and PINs of up to 612 BA Executive Club accounts were also potentially accessed," the regulator said.
BA was criticised for failing to prevent and mitigate the risk from cyber attacks, which the ICO said would not "have entailed excessive cost or technical barriers" and some of which were already available through Microsoft, which BA was using.
The investigation also found that BA itself failed to detect the attack on 22 June 2018 and was only alerted to it by a third party more than two months later on 5 September.
"It is not clear whether or when BA would have identified the attack themselves," the regulator stated.
"This was considered to be a severe failing because of the number of people affected and because any potential financial harm could have been more significant."
A spokesperson for British Airways, which is owned by Madrid-headquartered International Airlines Group, said: "We alerted customers as soon as we became aware of the criminal attack on our systems in 2018 and are sorry we fell short of our customers' expectations.
"We are pleased the ICO recognises that we have made considerable improvements to the security of our systems since the attack and that we fully co-operated with its investigation."
Jacinda Ardern has won a second term in office after her rival conceded in New Zealand's general election.
Initial tallies showed Ms Ardern's Labour Party was ahead after her campaign was dominated by her successful handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The 40-year-old leader went head to head with Judith Collins of the National Party in the election to form the country's 53rd parliament - a referendum on Ms Ardern's three-year term.
Ms Ardern told roaring crowds: "Thank you to the people who worked so hard to share our message. Who volunteered in what felt like an endless campaign.
"But most importantly thank you to the many people who gave us their vote, who trusted us to continue with leading New Zealand's recovery.
"And to those amongst you who may not have supported Labour before - and the results tell me there were a few of you - to you I say thank you.
"We will not take your support for granted. And I can promise you we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander."
Ms Ardern's party was on track to win almost 50% of the vote as results rolled in on Saturday, while the opposition had under 30%.
Ms Collins, a 61-year-old former lawyer, congratulated Ms Ardern on the win, but said the government would need to do better to navigate the economic wreckage of the coronavirus crisis.
She said: "To Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who I have phoned, congratulations on your result. Which has been an outstanding result."
The two weeks leading up to the election saw a record number of voters cast early ballots.
Earlier in the day, Ms Ardern brought homemade cheese scones to campaign volunteers and appeared relaxed as she awaited results.
Ms Ardern - whose government has focused particularly on the New Zealand housing crisis, child poverty and social inequality since coming into power in 2017 - has been cheered on and greeted by crowds trying to get selfies with her on the campaign trail.
"Elections aren't always great at bringing people together but they also don't need to tear one another apart," she said after her win.
"And in times of crisis I believe New Zealand has shown that and for that again, I say thank you."
It comes after her popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to combat the coronavirus crisis in New Zealand.
There is currently no community spread of COVID-19 in the nation of five million and people are no longer required to wear masks or socially distance.
Source: Sky News
Japan will release more than a million tons of treated radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea in a decades-long operation, reports said Friday, despite strong opposition from environmentalists, local fishermen and farmers. The release of the water, which has been filtered to reduce radioactivity, is likely to start in 2022 at the earliest, said national dailies the Nikkei, the Yomiuri, and other local media.
The decision ends years of debate over how to dispose of the liquid that includes water used to cool the power station after it was hit by a massive tsunami in 2011.
A government panel said earlier this year that releasing the water into the sea or evaporating it were both "realistic options."
"We can't postpone a decision on the plan to deal with the... processed water, to prevent delays in the decommission work of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Friday, without commenting directly on the plan or its timing.
There are around 1.23 million tons of waste water stored in tanks at the facility, according to plant operator TEPCO, which also declined to comment on the reports.
Environmental activists have expressed strong opposition to the proposals, and fishermen and farmers have voiced fear that consumers will shun seafood and produce from the region.
South Korea, which bans imports of seafood from the area, has also repeatedly voiced concern about the environmental impact.
A decision has been getting increasingly urgent as space to store the water -- which also includes groundwater and rain that seeps daily into the plant -- is running out.
Most of the radioactive isotopes have been removed by an extensive filtration process -- but one remains, tritium. It can't be removed with existing technology.
The expert panel advised in January that discarding the water into the sea was a viable option because the method is also used at working nuclear reactors.
Tritium is only harmful to humans in very large doses, experts say. The International Atomic Energy Agency argues that properly filtered water could be diluted with seawater and then safely released into the ocean.
The Yomiuri reported that the water would be diluted inside the facility before its release, with the whole process taking 30 years.
The treated water is currently kept in a thousand huge tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi site, where reactors went into meltdown nearly a decade ago after the earthquake-triggered tsunami.
Plant operator TEPCO is building more tanks, but all will be full by mid-2022.
Source: CBS News
An update released by Google today (October 16) allows users to search for a song by merely singing, humming or whistling the melody.
Announced at Google’s Search On event, and effective from today, users will now be able to search for a song without knowing its title or even the lyrics.
Users can access the ‘Hum To Search’ feature by opening the ‘Google Search’ app or using the Google Search Widget. Once you tap on the microphone icon, you can ask “what’s this song?” or click the ‘Search a song’ button.
Additionally, if using Google Assistant, users can ask “Hey Google, what’s this song?”.
From there, users will have a 10 – 15 second window to hum, whistle or sing the melody of a song they’re thinking of, and Google will deliver a variety of matches, beginning with the highest per cent match.
“An easy way to explain it is that a song’s melody is like its fingerprint: They each have their own unique identity,” a post on The Google Blog says.
“We’ve built machine learning models that can match your hum, whistle or singing to the right ‘fingerprint’.”
“When you hum a melody into Search, our machine learning models transform the audio into a number-based sequence representing the song’s melody, models are trained to identify songs based on a variety of sources, including humans singing, whistling or humming, as well as studio recordings,” the post continues.
“The algorithms also take away all the other details, like accompanying instruments and the voice’s timbre and tone. What we’re left with is the song’s number-based sequence, or the fingerprint.”
The feature is currently available on both iOS and Android, with the latter providing the feature in over 20 different languages.