ICYMI: Living Greta Thunberg’s zero emissions dream in real life

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has upped the ante, telling the elite at Davos that they must urgently drop carbon emissions to “real zero.” But living a carbon-free life is exhausting, as ICYMI’s Butchy found out.

“We must forget about net zero,” Thunberg told the billionaires and politicians gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday. “We need real zero.”

ICYMI’s Butchy embraced Thunberg’s gauntlet and set out to live his best, zero-carbon life. After a cold cup of coffee and a leisurely two-hour stroll through London rain to the office, our intrepid hero then faced a fresh challenge: elevators consume dirty, fossil-fuel-generated electricity, so Butchy made for the stairs, 28 flights up. After a cool cup of water for lunch (remember, bananas have traveled miles), Butchy had some thoughts about his newfound eco-friendly lifestyle.

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An Argentinian man took to Twitter to share a disturbing image of an unusually massive-looking mosquito after it flew through his window and met its demise after being bug-sprayed by his quick-acting mother.

Ezequiel Lobo, who lives in the Argentine city of Cordoba, posted an image of the enormous insect on Twitter, showing it alongside a normal-sized mosquito for comparison.

“Look at the size of the mosquito that just entered my window,” he wrote, adding that the unnerving arthropod “came in like a champion,” causing his mother to panic and spray it with Raid.

Lobo explained that he couldn’t find “anything similar” when he searched online. “Is it a new Chernobyl evolution or am I in Jumanji and didn't know it?” he asked.

The image quickly went viral, garnering nearly 130,000 tweets and being picked up by Spanish media.

Many tweeters assured Lobo, however, that while scary-looking, the insect in question was likely a psorophora ciliata mosquito, which luckily is not a disease-carrier.

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Insect expert Michael H. Reiskind told CNN in 2018 that psorophora ciliata usually show up after flooding and while the bite can be very painful, they don't usually spread disease – and are only a risk to those who are allergic.

Spanish website Clarin reported that mosquitoes of this size had also appeared four years ago and scientists concluded that they arrive in large numbers after hurricanes. They are four times larger than an average-sized mosquito.

They can even be beneficial for humans as they help eliminate others species that carry diseases like Dengue fever and the Zika virus, the website said.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have unveiled a memorial to the siege of Leningrad – a major event in WWII that hit very close to home for the Russian leader.

The ‘Candle of Memory’ monument was dedicated by the leaders in Jerusalem on Thursday, on the sidelines of the Holocaust memorial conference taking place at the nearby Yad Vashem. Putin, whose mother survived the siege, was visibly touched by the ceremony.

“The monument is very good,” he told the hosts at the end of a short speech. “There were many ways to unveil it. The way you did it today… Thank you.” 

Axis forces besieged Leningrad – now Saint Petersburg – for 872 days, seeking to starve out the Soviet Union’s second-largest city. Almost 650,000 civilians perished, including Putin’s elder brother Viktor, before the blockade was lifted on January 27, 1944.

Documents, diaries and newsreels cannot convey what the people of Leningrad really endured, Putin said at the ceremony. 

Deprived of food, light, warmth, they continued to work in hospitals, engage in art, science and education. Sacrificing themselves, they saved a great city for future generations. The unconquered Leningrad became a true legend, and the greatness of fortitude and faith in the victory of its inhabitants, the pinnacle of human dignity.

He offered a shocking detail that he himself only discovered several days earlier, in a document: that in a single year the Leningraders donated 144 tons of blood for the troops fighting on the frontline, in defiance of their own deprivation.

Israel, like Russia, understands the significance of the lessons of WWII and refuses to allow the world to forget where tolerating chauvinism, anti-Semitism, and Russophobia can lead, the Russian president added.

Speaking at the main Holocaust remembrance event later in the day, Putin said that it was “absolutely unacceptable” for the memory of the war to become an object of daily politics. 

The duty of current and future politicians, statesmen and public figures is to protect the good name of the living and fallen heroes and civilians who were victims of the Nazis and their accomplices.

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A video showing the UK’s Prince Charles appearing to dodge a handshake with US Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t tell the whole story, the White House has insisted, claiming the two men greeted each other warmly earlier.

Prince Charles appears to snub Pence as he shakes the hands of a row of international leaders and VIPs at the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, sparing the American a brief glance and moving on to greet Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu instead. The British royal seems to mutter something under his breath as he conspicuously avoids engaging with Pence.

The vice president’s staff entered damage-control mode immediately, insisting the video was the exact opposite of what it seemed. Press secretary Katie Waldman released another clip purporting to show Pence and Charles backstage at the event in which they appear to be talking congenially – though the video has no sound, and Charles does not shake Pence’s hand in that clip either. She also tweeted a photo showing Charles gesturing at the vice president in which Pence – but not Charles – is grinning.

The quick reaction by Pence’s staff may have been an effort to head off an international incident, as it has flared tempers across the political spectrum. Trump supporters were quick to excoriate the prince, while the anti-Trump contingent was equally quick to extol the virtues of the royal family.

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A government spokesman in Cyprus backpedaled Thursday on a claim that Ankara may have stolen technical data to pinpoint a target for gas drilling in waters where the island nation has exclusive economic rights. Kyriakos Koushos told AP that no such data theft had occurred and his use of the word “stolen” in a Wednesday program by Greece’s state broadcaster was a mistaken “slip of the tongue.”

However, Koushos asserted that Turkey did obtain data that enabled it to send a drill ship to a specific location that two energy companies licensed by Cyprus – Eni and Total – had pre-selected to carry out their own exploratory drilling.

The spokesman said that data might have been gleaned from a Turkish research vessel that had scoured the area called Block 8 in search of geological information, hinting there were gas deposits locked underneath the seabed.

Turkey’s drilling activities have ratcheted up tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara says it’s acting to protect its rights, and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots, to the region’s energy reserves.


What are toxic ‘forever chemicals’ & should Americans be worried there are more of them in the water supply than we thought?

American drinking water is far more contaminated than previously estimated — by carcinogenic ‘forever chemicals’ that linger in the blood and cause a range of health problems.

A major report has been published by an environmental watchdog agency about the state of the drinking supply in the US. The findings from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show that hundreds of millions of Americans are affected by the contamination.

The source of the pollution is perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as forever chemicals. The nickname comes from the fact that they do not break down in the environment (or indeed in the human body). They are used in a variety of consumer products including waterproof clothes, fast food packaging and non-stick pans, and are commonplace in industrial processes.

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These chemicals increase the likelihood of a range of health problems including cancer and liver damage and they also harm foetal development. Worst of all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared that forever chemicals pollute the blood of practically every person in the US, including new-born babies. In the words of one of the report’s co-authors, David Andrews, forever chemicals in tap water are a ‘’toxic soup’’ to which ‘’everyone’s really exposed.’’

Mapping the problem

The scientists ran tests for 30 different forever chemicals between May and December of last year, analysing tap water from 44 locations across 31 states. Of those 44 sites, only Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Seattle, Washington showed PFAS rates below the safe limit of one part per trillion (PPT). But some of the highest rates of PFAS were in the big cities like New York, Washington, DC and Miami.

The US government’s environmental agency, the EPA, has known about the contamination for almost 20 years, but there is still no nationwide legal limit for PFAS. The EPA recommends a limit of 70 PPT, but the body behind this report, the EWG, say that it is at least ten times too high. In fact, only the two most polluted locations studied even exceeded 70 PPT: Brunswick County, North Carolina and Quad Cities, Iowa.

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The EPA claim that they have begun the process of regulating the levels of two kinds of forever chemical, but there are thousands of variants, of which over 600 are presently in use by industry. The EWG is damning in their indictment of the government’s lack of response to this mass-poisoning, and is encouraging US citizens to lobby their representatives on this issue. For current generations though, the damage has already been done.

No escape

Since there are so many different kinds, not many studies have been done to test exactly what kind of damage they can do to people.

A 2017 review found that they negatively impact the body’s cardiometabolic, renaland immune systems, and also delay the onset of puberty in boys and girls. One of their main effects seems to be to weaken the body’s response to infection, such as by increasing the chance of asthma and triggering allergic reactions to vaccines.

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Rather than waging an all-out assault against the body, then, forever chemicals subtly subvert it, which is perhaps why they have not incited much uproar. It is difficult to know exactly how harmful forever chemicals are, but it seems likely that they strike a not insignificant blow to the health of those exposed to them.

One thing is certain though: forever chemicals are ubiquitous. According to research from last year, even the rainwater in America contains forever chemicals — a testament to the contamination of the lakes, rivers and groundwater. Bottled water is completely unregulated as regards forever chemicals, and there is no guarantee that the levels would be any lower than tap water.

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© Mohammed Salem
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Russian scientists create artificial ‘human skin’ that becomes STRONGER when stretched

A Russian-led team of scientists has created a synthetic stand-in for human skin that overcomes many of the stumbling blocks faced in recreating living tissues by being both soft and firm and getting stronger when stretched.

The researchers from Moscow State University, along with colleagues in the United States, spent years developing the clever material, which is even capable of self-assembly.

The skin, which consists of molecular fibers which are grafted onto the long part of the molecule, is very elastic but if it is stretched, twisted or bent out of shape in other ways it gets stronger very quickly.

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Scientists looking to recreate human skin for robotics, wearable electronics and plastic surgery have had little success trying to create something that can be both soft and firm. The difficulty of overcoming the contrasting goals has been particularly pronounced with tissues such as fat, which is both ultra-soft and ultra-firm.

However, the boffins, led by Professor Dmitry Ivanov, solved the seemingly intractable problem with their novel hybrid material which can replicate the mechanics of fat, fetal membrane, spinal cord and even brain tissue. 

“The skin has unique properties – it is both soft and elastic when in contact,” explained Professor Ivanov. “However, when stretched, it sharply hardens – it is possible to violate the integrity of the skin only by a very strong mechanical effect.”

The research was published in the American Chemical Society’s Central Science journal and the team is now preparing for the next stage in their development of artificial skin.

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Iran’s Foreign Ministry slammed the US' policy of “targeted and governmental terrorism” after an American diplomat threatened Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani with the same fate as his assassinated predecessor, Qassem Soleimani.

These words are an official announcement and a clear unveiling of America’s targeted and governmental terrorism,” ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told Iranian state media on Thursday in response to threats made against Ghaani by US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook. Mousavi called on the international community to join him in condemning the thuggish statement from the American.

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If Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans [as Soleimani] then he will meet the same fate,” Hook had told Arabic-language outlet Asharq al-Awsat earlier that day, vowing to “hold the regime and its agents responsible for any attack on Americans or American interests in the region.”

There has not been any indication Iran is planning to kill Americans, however, even after the death of the beloved general. Tehran actually spared US lives by tipping Iraq off to planned missile attacks on two coalition bases, allowing both Iraqi and American soldiers to vacate the facilities. The bases were severely damaged in precision strikes meant as revenge for the Soleimani killing, but no Americans were hit.

While Hook and Washington have insisted Soleimani was behind an ever-growing number of American deaths, they have been unable to supply any evidence – certainly not for an impending plot that would have required his immediate assassination – leading even some members of President Donald Trump’s own party to vow opposition to any authorization for war with Iran.

Evidence Soleimani was behind previous attacks on Americans – particularly the rocket strike on K-1 Air Base last month that killed a US contractor and sparked the most recent escalation of force – has also been lacking. The claim that the Iranian general was responsible for the deaths of “600 Americans,” often repeated by Hook and other members of the Trump administration in the days following Soleimani’s assassination by airstrike at the Baghdad airport, grew out of a propaganda figure cooked up by former US vice president Dick Cheney when he was trying to whip up the Bush administration for a war with Iran. More fanciful claims, like Vice President Mike Pence’s suggestion that Soleimani was somehow involved in the 9/11 terror attacks, also have no basis in fact.

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A U.S. F-22 Raptor, based out of Al Udeid Base in Doha, Qatar, receives fuel from a 28th Expeditionary Air Refuelling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker during a combat air patrol mission over an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia © Reuters / U.S. Air Force / Handout / Russ Scalf
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Ghaani was appointed to replace Soleimani the day after the latter’s death and has vowed to continue on his “luminous path,” with the ultimate goal of removing US forces from the Middle East. Like Soleimani, he made his name during the war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s.

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The United States applied new economic sanctions to two Iranian individuals and six companies, including four firms tied to Iran’s national oil company, as tensions between the country peaked after the killing of Gen. Soleimani.

The United States has applied fresh economic sanctions to two Iranian individuals and six companies, including four firms tied to Iran’s national oil company. The move comes following a military standoff between both countries.

The US Department of the Treasury accuses the four international petroleum and petrochemical firms of helping Tehran export “hundreds of millions of dollars” worth of oil, which it says helps the Iranian government fund the Islamic Revolutionary Guard COrps (IRGC) and its “terrorist proxies.”

Among them are an Iranian company and a Dubai-based firm, while others are based in Hong Kong and mainland China.  

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The latest sanctions come two weeks after the Treasury Department slapped penalties on eight Iranian government officials and a collection of Iranian metals firms, accusing them of providing funds towards Iran’s nuclear program. All in all, the Trump administration has applied more than a thousand individual Iran-related sanctions since it unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal) in 2018.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran reached boiling point earlier this month, after the US assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani with a drone strike in Baghdad. The killing prompted Iran to launch a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi bases used by American troops in response, bringing the two countries closer to open war than at any point in recent years.

US President Donald Trump opted not to retaliate with military force, however, instead promising further economic sanctions on Iran.

State Secretary Mike Pompeo said at the time that the sanctions will remain in place until Iran behaves “like a normal country.”

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‘That killed all my dates after that’: 37-year-old US athlete Lolo Jones says being open about virginity was a mistake

US hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones, 37, has revealed that her publicly announced plans about remaining a virgin until marriage have only brought her troubles and are negatively affecting her dating life.

Appearing on the latest episode of Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud series Jones complained that her honesty was a “mistake” that hampered her efforts of finding a future husband.

READ MORE: Insane acrobatics & spectacular jump shots: Why beach handball deserves a spot on Olympic schedule (PHOTOS)

That was a mistake,” Jones said. “That killed all my dates after that. Didn’t even have a chance. Before, I at least had a chance.”

Before I’d tiptoe, like, ‘OK, when is a good time to tell him? Do I wait until he sees my personality a little bit, or do I just drop the bomb?’” the athlete added.

Jones publicly discussed her stance on sex before marriage during a segment of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel in 2012. She noted that her decision was dictated by her Christian faith.

I don’t know why God hasn’t blessed me with my husband,” the two-time world indoor hurdles champion said. “Another reason why I’m probably single is because I’ve never had sex and guys do not want to wait for girls.”
The runner and bobsledder also insisted that abstaining from sex gives her a substantial disadvantage in sport because she doesn’t have any  “pressure release” in contrast to other rivals.

Jones competed for the US national team at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing and 2012 Olympics in London as a hurdler. She also performed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, taking part in the bobsleigh event.


Anthony Joshua hopes to persuade the winner of the Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder fight to drop any rematch clause and meet him this year in Saudi Arabia, where promoter Eddie Hearn has claimed a huge offer is on the table.

Joshua could return to the Diriyah Arena, the 15,000 capacity purpose-built stadium where he regained his world titles in a rematch win over Andy Ruiz Jr in December, or another venue in Saudi Arabia, according to Hearn.

Wilder defends his WBC title against Fury in Las Vegas on February 22, and Joshua believes a win for the reigning champion would be the popular result ahead of his own defence of his WBA, IBF, and WBO belts later in the year.

We have a huge site offer in place for that fight to take place,” Hearn told Sky Sports about a showdown to become undisputed heavyweight king between Joshua and Wilder or Fury.

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We have a partnership out there in Saudi Arabia. They put the money up for the Andy Ruiz fight.

Everything they promised, they delivered. They want this fight bad and when they’ve got that kind of attitude and mentality, it’s going to be difficult to beat.

Hearn labelled Joshua “the boss” and called on him to give “the thumbs up” to an equally-split purse for a superfight after Fury and Wilder’s refusal to accept a 60-40 split during past negotiations, adding: “I think he knows that’s the way to make this fight.”

“We have to try and make that happen,”Hearn implored. “Right now, the fight that Anthony Joshua wants is the winner of Wilder and Fury.”

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© RT
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A beaming Joshua, who is thought to have earned around £59 million ($77.4 million) for his revenge on points over Ruiz Jr, voiced a preference for facing the American should he return to the Middle East for another mega payday.

Everyone wants Wilder to win because that’s the fight everyone wants to see,” the 30-year-old told Sky Sports Boxing, claiming the money on offer would act as a “curveball” that could dissuade Fury and Wilder from enacting any rematch clause after they meet.

Wilder’s got a big right hand, I’ve got a big left hand, so it’s going to be a match-up of a great boxing match and that’s the one that everyone wants to see.

In the more immediate future, Joshua is likely to return to action in May or June against challenger Kubrat Pulev, who Hearn called “the frontrunner” for a fight in the UK.

“Pulev is the fight for me,” said the Matchroom Boxing boss. “And more importantly for the boss, AJ, he wants it here.

“He’s boxed now in Saudi Arabia for his last fight, he’s boxed in New York before that. For me, it’s time to come home.

“The bad news is that Kubrat Pulev wants as much money as possible for this fight and he realises there's more money in Istanbul, or Saudi Arabia, or the Congo, or Nigeria. But AJ is going to call the shots.”

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The WBO had ordered Joshua to make a mandatory defence against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, but Hearn believes the IBF fight was called for first.

The Ukrainian is close to agreeing to meet Joshua sparring partner Dereck Chisora on March 28, while Joshua could still forego the Pulev fight should the veteran Bulgarian hold out for a non-British venue.

We’re looking at dates at the end of May to the beginning of June for the Pulev fight,” revealed Hearn.

Everywhere is in play. Emirates Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur, The Olympic Stadium, we’ve also reached out to Twickenham as well.

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, where Joshua beat New Zealander Joseph Parker on points in March 2018, is also an option, according to Hearn.


BoJo accused of ‘making things up’ & forced into climbdown after claiming life expectancy gap between rich & poor closing

British PM Boris Johnson has been forced into an embarrassing retreat after incorrectly claiming that the gap between the rich and the poor in the UK is narrowing thanks to his Conservative Party.

During a parliamentary session on Thursday, Johnson told MPs that the gap was “a disgrace,” before insisting that “nonetheless, it is coming down, and it will come down” – to the bemusement of many opposition lawmakers.

Official statistics published in March 2019 showed that life expectancy for women in the poorest areas of England has fallen by three months – while the life span of women in the richest parts of the nation is growing by almost as much.

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(L) British PM Boris Johnson © AFP / PRU (R) Scottish National Party's (SNP) commons leader Ian Blackford © AFP / UK PARLIAMENT / JESSICA TAYLOR
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The disparity between men in the richest and poorest parts has also increased by around three months, due to a faster rise in life expectancy for the wealthy.

Downing Street initially stood by Johnson’s claim and insisted that that they would provide the data to back it up, but have so far failed to do so, according to the Independent.

Labour’s shadow minister for housing Alex Cunningham, who raised the issue with the prime minister, ostensibly accused Johnson of lying, claiming that he was “renowned for making things up.” 

It’s not the first time Johnson has been criticized by opposition MPs for supposedly telling lies. As recently as Wednesday, a Scottish National Party (SNP) lawmaker was heard labeling Johnson a “desperate liar” three times during a heated exchange on education in Scotland between the PM and the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

Johnson was sacked from his Times newspaper job in 1988 over allegations he made up a quote from his godfather, the historian Colin Lucas; and in 2004 Johnson was “relieved of his duties” as the Conservatives’ shadow arts minister for allegedly lying about an extramarital affair.

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© Reuters / Pool / Daniel Leal-Olivas
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Swipe left on Big Brother? Tinder adds user-tracking ‘panic button,’ because there’s always a predator somewhere

Dating app Tinder has added a ‘panic button’ feature that tracks the user through a ‘date’ and allows them to surreptitiously notify authorities if they’re in trouble. The company insists users are fine with the loss of privacy.

The precision location tracking feature lets Tinder users store details about their dates and their planned itinerary so that authorities can be quickly and comprehensively notified at the touch of a button should anything go awry. Triggering the panic button results in a text from Noonlight, the company behind the technology. If the user doesn’t respond with reassurance that all is well, the emergency services are alerted.

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Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of Tinder parent Match Group, insists users are fine with sacrificing their privacy for a nebulous promise of safety. “You are opting in to make sure people can help you if you are in need,” she told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, denying the location data would be used for marketing “or anything else.” However, she also claimed the location data will stay with Noonlight, not Match, absolving the latter from responsibility for its ultimate uses.

Match has sunk a considerable investment into Noonlight in advance of rolling it out across Tinder at the end of the month, soon to be followed by its other online dating brands. A press release didn’t give an exact dollar amount, but Match now has a seat on Noonlight’s board. The feature does not appear to be optional, though users presumably will be able to decide whether to activate it ahead of a date if they want to start logging information about the other person.

Ginsberg also laughs off the possibility of “false alarms” sending police to interfere with a date that hasn’t degenerated into rank predation. “If someone doesn’t respond, worst case someone shows up and knocks on the door. It’s not the worst thing in the world,” she said, apparently unaware that police showing up to what they believe to be a rape or murder in process are unlikely to take “no” for an answer, even when a sheepish couple tells them to go home.

The Noonlight tracker is one of several “safety” measures Tinder is rolling out that would be a bonanza in the hands of any surveillance state. A new photo verification feature adds a blue checkmark to profiles whose users can upload in real time a selfie matching a random pose requested by the app. Given the online-dating cliche in which the real-life user has 60 pounds and 20 years on the photo, this feature is sure to be popular. Another feature flags “potentially offensive” messages and asks the user if they’re offended, seemingly little more than a cheap way to train a ‘civility-police’ AI.

Tinder has over 50 million users globally, making it one of the most popular dating apps in existence. A study conducted earlier this month by Norwegian consumer advocate Forbrukerradet found Tinder to be a virtual sieve for sensitive customer data. The app circulates personal information among 45 Match Group brands and third-party advertisers without asking or notifying the user outside of the privacy policy they agree to upon signing up for the service, in a way Forbrukerradet alleged runs afoul of European GDPR privacy law.

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FILE PHOTO © Global Look / Mohssen Assanimoghaddam
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Emergency services are becoming big business, with companies like Carbyne911 and Capita Secure Solutions competing to bring 20th century urgent-dispatch systems into the digital age of data oversharing by inflating fears of mass shootings, terrorism, and now rape. While online dating no doubt has its predators, it’s not clear how reducing the process of summoning the authorities from three buttons, 911, to a single panic button is worth the trade-off of having yet another faceless tech company monitoring one’s comings and goings.

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US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said a post-Brexit trade deal between the United States and Britain was a top priority and he expected such an agreement by the end of the year.

The top US economic official made his comments before heading to London to lay out ways the two countries could reach a quick accord after the UK leaves the EU on January 31, AFP reports.

Responding to Mnuchin’s remarks, the spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to offer a timetable. Both sides “want to agree an ambitious free trade agreement as quickly as possible,” the spokesman said.

“Once we have left the EU in just over a week’s time we’ll be free to start having discussions with countries around the world including the US,” he added.


Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev suffers bleed, Rafael Nadal hails ballgirl bravery, Serena Williams talks boxing

Nick Kyrgios and Gilles Simon both mocked Rafael Nadal and earned sanctions from umpire Fergus Murphy on an eventful day at the Australian Open when top seed Nadal dealt with an incident of his own and questions about his legacy.

After both players were given time violations, Kyrgios made umpire Murphy smile by appearing to impersonate Rafael Nadal’s trait of tucking his hair behind his ears and checking his shorts before serving.

Simon then left Kyrgios twirling his racket with laughter after performing his own impression of the world number one, although Kyrgios could afford a joke at that stage, serving at two sets and 2-0 up.

Two breaks later, Kyrgios had lost the third set. The at-times incendiary personality proceeded to have an altercation with his own corner, chastising their advice to him to “stay tough” before winning the deciding set 7-5 and apologizing to his team, admitting he had acted like “a d*******.”

“It’s epic,” he said of the atmosphere around Margaret Court Arena, drawing whoops and roars from the home fans that contrasted with his own apparently somber post-match mood.

The jokes at Nadal’s expense divided tennis fans on social media, many of whom defended Nadal and insulted Kyrgios and Simon, pointing to their slender trophy collection compared to the haul by the Spaniard that includes 19 Grand Slam wins and counting.

Nadal’s fans also fawned over footage of the Spaniard taking time out to comfort a shaken ballgirl after accidentally hitting her on the side of her head as he attempted to return a shot from out wide during the closing set of his victory.

For his part, a philosophical Nadal told reporters that more trophies will not make him more content in the long run, although he moved closer to another title by losing just five games in a straight sets thumping of Bolivian Hugo Dellien.

Characteristically expressive in a pink baseball cap, the 33-year-old explained: “In the future, if I win 21 Grand Slams, for example, I am not going to be happier than if I had won 19 – I mean, in 10 years.

“I won the US Open a few months ago and I was super happy in that moment, but am I happier today than if I hadn’t won the US Open? Probably not. It’s not the only thing that matters in this life.”

Alexander Zverev has more than a million followers on Instagram but spoke warily of the dangers of social media for modern players following a reasonably comfortable straight sets victory over Egor Gerasimov, taking the third set 7-5 on a tie break.

“It’s different than it was 20 years ago,” he reflected. “With the mobile phones that we have, the pressure that the media puts on us, that other people put on us – we are more aware of it than 20 years ago.

“You open up Instagram and there’s five million people that have an opinion about you all of a sudden.”

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Asked when the younger talents on the circuit might start to break through and win major trophies more regularly, Zverev predicted: “Once one of us wins it, I think it’s going to be easier for the others.”

Zverev pointed to Daniil Medvedev’s five-set defeat to Nadal in the US Open final as a sign of the prospects’ progress, and the Russian is through to the third round this time, albeit after giving blood and sweat in a straight sets win over Pedro Martinez.

Medvedev suffered a nosebleed at the tournament for the second successive year, interrupting his victory to seek help from his physio to stem the flow.

“I think that was the only time it happened last year,” said Medvedev, who laughed off a suggestion that it could be an issue, and was pleased that a ploy by his opponent to try an underarm serve at one point failed.

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“I don’t know why he did it but it surprised me a lot. If it had been a good one I would really have been in trouble, but it was really a bad one.”

Elina Svitolina had a late night on court, taking until after midnight to see off American Lauren Davis on a 7-6 second set tie break.

Serena Williams criticized herself for too many errors but still cruised past Tamara Zidansek in straight sets with a performance that suggested her formidable peak service game has returned, hitting an average of 175kph and winning 93 percent of her first serve points in the first set.

Williams spent more than four months away from competitive tennis between her defeat at the US Open final in September and her warm-up matches in Auckland in January, but revealed she has been mixing up her training to maintain freshness.

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“I always dance,” said the world number nine, adding that her enjoyment of boxing is “not great for my nails” before speaking about the koalas she had painted on her fingers and her admiration for teenage compatriot Coco Gauff, who has also reached the third round.

Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, and Simona Halep also advanced as all 10 top women’s seeds went through.


As coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on China, with cases detected across the globe, netizens have uploaded alarming footage showing those infected and put in quarantine as authorities try to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

Trying to cope with coronavirus transmission, the Chinese government put on quarantine Wuhan – a city of 11 million people, where the virus originated. All transport services were suspended and residents were told not to leave the city. On Thursday, travel restrictions were issued for several nearby cities as well.

As fears of the new disease spread, Twitter users have been sharing videos said to have been filmed in Wuhan, which show the chilling scene the quarantined citizens are living in.

One video shows medical personnel taking care of a potential coronavirus patient. The man, found lying on the floor, was quickly approached by medics wearing white hazmat suits.

People were also stranded in overcrowded clinics, desperately waiting to be screened for any symptoms of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, at a railway station, troops wearing masks were spotted standing guard, apparently barring residents from entering it.

The lockdown caught many by surprise, with passengers unable to board outbound trains.

And one more Twitter user shared a video which is said to have been filmed in Shanghai, where a person with fever from Wuhan was transported out of the airport terminal in a quarantine box.

Officially called the 2019-nCoV, the virus was discovered last December at Wuhan’s Hunan Seafood Market. On Monday, Chinese health officials confirmed it can be transmitted between humans. The virus claimed 17 lives in China, where over 500 cases of the illness have been confirmed so far.

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Queen Elizabeth II formally approved on Thursday the law facilitating Britain’s departure from the European Union at the end of this month, AFP reports.

“Her Majesty the Queen has now granted Royal Assent to the Brexit Bill which therefore becomes the Brexit Act,” Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay tweeted. “Enshrined in law, this enables the UK to leave the EU on 31st January.”

The Brexit bill passed its final hurdle in Parliament on Wednesday after the House of Lords abandoned attempts to amend it.

It was approved by Parliament’s upper chamber after the House of Commons overturned changes to the government’s Brexit bill made a day earlier by the unelected House of Lords.


A lawyer representing Julian Assange has told a London court that the WikiLeaks founder’s legal team is being restricted from meeting him and it is hampering preparation for his trial on extradition to the United States.

Queen’s Counsel Edward Fitzgerald told Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday that he has had great difficulty gaining access to Assange in Belmarsh prison to discuss evidence and take instructions from the Australian.

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The 48-year-old is wanted in the US for allegedly conspiring with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to expose military secrets. 

“We simply can’t get in as we require to see Mr Assange and take instructions ... we need time to deal with that,” Fitzgerald said.

“We need to deal with [the] points raised in the US Attorney General's statement. The reality is we are not ready to call the main body of our evidence,” the senior lawyer added.

Assange appeared in court via video link, saluting his supporters with a raised fist during the proceedings.

Assange supporters protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court, file photo. © Global Look Press via ZUMA Press

Lawyers representing the United States also made applications seeking more time to prepare for the hearings and Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed that the extradition hearing will be split in two. 

“He will remain in custody in the cells until you have indicated to this court that you have concluded such matters as you were able to manage,” the judge said.

The journalist’s extradition hearing will now be heard during one week in February and three weeks in May and June. The first part will take place at Woolwich Crown Court and it will cover arguments that the extradition is politically motivated and an abuse of process.

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© Global Look Press / Sopa Images / David Cliff
UN envoy says UK ‘contributed’ to Assange’s torture, urges British govt to release him immediately

Assange has been in custody since he was dramatically removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April 2019. He was initially jailed for the minor offense of skipping bail after going into hiding in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex offense allegations made against him in 2010. The WikiLeaks chief always denied the allegations and Swedish authorities dropped them last November.

Belmarsh is a Category A prison, the highest level in the UK penal system. The notorious jail is intended for “highly dangerous” convicts and those likely to attempt escape. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer sent a letter to the UK government in December asking it to end the detention of Assange. Melzer warned that his health may soon reach a “critical” stage, including the risk of death.

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‘A landmark achievement’: Pakistan test-launches new surface-to-surface ballistic missile (VIDEO)

Pakistan has once again tested Ghaznavi, a surface-to-surface ballistic missile that can carry a range of warheads, including nuclear ones, with an operating range of 290 km. This is the missile’s second successful launch.

The test was a part of field training exercises on both day and night combat readiness. Pakistani state media said the launch was witnessed by top military officials, and that its success demonstrated “a very high standard of proficiency in handling and operating the weapon system”. President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan hailed the launch as a “landmark achievement”.

The Ghaznavi ballistic missile, also known as Hatf-3, is a Pakistani-made nuclear-capable missile that can be launched from road-based vehicles and can hit targets up to 290 km away. It was previously tested in August 2019 in a night-time launch.

The exercises follow the escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir’s autonomy being revoked by New Delhi.

Pakistan claims that India’s move is a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. India, on the other hand, insists that changes to the Indian Constitution are an internal matter, and that its move will improve stability and end militancy in Kashmir.

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Usain Bolt has shared a glamorous Instagram photo of his girlfriend Kasi Bennett strolling along a beach holding her baby bump as part of a series in which the Jamaican model announced that they are expecting a “golden child.”

Sprint superstar Usain Bolt has announced on Instagram that girlfriend Kasi Bennett is expecting the couple’s first child, telling fans: “I just want to say a KING or QUEEN is about to be HERE.”

Bolt let a series of fashion shoot-style photos do most of the talking alongside his brief announcement, posting a shot of Jamaican model Bennett holding her baby bump on a beach while wearing a flowing red dress.

Thirty-year-old Bennett, who Bolt calls his “First Lady,” published more photos from the shoot, announcing that “our golden child” would be “coming soon.”

The Jamaica-based fashion obsessive posed on a yacht while carrying a cloud of balloons above her head, describing the news as “our greatest celebration” and “biggest blessing.”

Bennett was one of Bolt’s staunchest supporters when he became the first athlete to win three Olympic 100m titles at the Rio Olympics in 2016, although she was outspoken in her disgust when he was later revealed to have had a fling with Brazilian student Jady Duarte.

Fellow sports stars and celebrities were quick to congratulate Bolt and Bennett on the pregnancy, including Asafa Powell, whose 100m record was broken by Bolt in 2008.

Alongside Bolt, Powell was part of the 4x100m team that won gold for Jamaica in Rio. He suggested that his 33-year-old former teammate had waited “too long” for the news.

Jamaica and Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey and comedian White Yardie were also among those to show their joy at the announcement.

Bolt has tried to become a professional footballer since ending his professional track career, and posted a story on Instagram on the same day as the announcement showing himself involved in a group gym session.

Bennett, who is the managing director of a company and runs children’s charity Project Kase, praised Bolt for teaching her “how to live life to the fullest” last year.

Posting photos of the pair on a yacht in Ibiza, she said Bolt had shown her how to “break records” and promised to treat him “like the King you are.”

“You are the life of the party, the brightest star in any room and the man with the most magnetic and charismatic personality,” she gushed.

“You are one the world needs, I need – so continue to inspire us and show us how to be humble, kind and successful.”