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Johnson bested Corbyn in final UK election debate

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Boris Johnson

London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson got the better of opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in their second and final debate ahead of the December 12 general election, according to 52 per cent of viewers responding to a snap poll.

The YouGov poll said that Johnson appeared to have thwarted Corbyn’s bid to deliver a knockout blow in the face of surveys indicating that the incumbent’s Conservative Party would win an absolute majority in the election, reports Efe news.

The main themes of Friday’s debate, which aired on the BBC, were Brexit and the need for investment in public services.

Vowing again to “get Brexit done”, Johnson attacked Corbyn’s proposal for a second referendum giving voters the chance to choose between a new, Labour-negotiated withdrawal agreement with the European Union (EU) and remaining in the bloc.

While Johnson’s Conservatives were overwhelmingly pro-Brexit, Labour voters remained divided and Corbyn has sought to accommodate those opposing views, insisting that he would remain neutral if there was a second referendum.

“We have a fantastic plan to get Brexit done,” Johnson said of the accord he reached with EU leaders in October, though Parliament declined to ratify the deal.

“The people want to turn the page,” the Prime Minister said, asserting that only a Conservative government can “unleash the potential of this country”.

If the Conservatives secure an absolute majority, Johnson pledges to take the UK out of the EU no later than January 31, 2020 and to hammer out a new trading arrangement with the bloc before the start of 2021.

In response, Corbyn said that Johnson’s approach would lead only to years of “painful negotiations and broken promises”.

“What he (Johnson) will do is walk out of a relationship with the EU into a relationship with nobody,” the Labour leader said.

“We have ample time to get on and build a new free trade partnership, not just with the EU but with countries around the world,” Johnson said.

Labour’s platform calls for boosting public investment in the UK to levels last seen in the 1970s, to be financed by increasing taxes on the wealthy and big corporations.

“There are now four million children living in poverty in our country,” Corbyn said.

Johnson said that he would make “massive investments” in healthcare and education.

To afford that spending, he said, the UK needs a “solid economy” that will only be achievable if Brexit is completed.

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Journalist barred from Mike Pompeo’s trip

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mike pompeo

Washington, Jan 28 : The US State Department has barred a journalist from the press pool for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming foreign trip, without providing a reason for the removal, it was reported on Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday, the Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR) confirmed that its journalist Michele Kelemen, who has covered the State Department for nearly two decades, would not be allowed to travel with Pompeo on the government flight to Europe and Central Asia, the BBC said in a report.

The trip starts on Thursday.

The radio network said it was not given a reason behind Kelemen’s ban.

In response to the decision, Shaun Tandon, head of the State Department Correspondents’ Association (SDCA) said: “The State Department press corps has a long tradition of accompanying secretaries of state on their travels and we find it unacceptable to punish an individual member of our association.

“We respectfully ask the State Department to reconsider and allow Michele to travel on the plane for this trip.”

Monday’s development comes days after a tense NPR interview with Pompeo where he was repeatedly about Ukraine and ousted US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, according to the BBC report.

On January 24, NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly asked Pompeo whether he defended or should have defended Yovanovitch, whose removal was a key factor leading to the impeachment of President Donald Trump by the Democratic-led House of Representatives last month.

Kelly said that, after the nine-minute interview, she was taken by a Pompeo aide to his private living room where he shouted at her, cursed repeatedly and asked: “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”

However, the post-interview exchange was not recorded.

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Bolton’s claim on Ukraine aid overshadows Trump defence at trial

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John Bolton NSA

New York, Jan 28 : At least three Republican senators have said they were open to witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton being called to testify at the Senate trial overshadowing the defence of President Donald Trump after his reported claims about Trump freezing military aid to Ukraine.

The Democrat’s demand for witnesses hung in the balance on Monday needing just one more Republican to defect and the influential Senator Mitt Romney said it was increasingly likely that others from his party would join him in asking for Bolton’s testimony.

The New York Times reported on Sunday evening that Bolton, who had been dismissed by Trump, had written in a draft of his memoir that the president had tied the unfreezing of the $341 million military aid to Ukraine to the country’s leadership ordering a probe of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

The aid issue is central to the Democrats’ claim that Trump abused his power and endangered national security by stopping the aid while US ally Ukraine was at war with Russia.

Bolton’s claim undercuts Trump’s lawyers’ assertions during the trial on Saturday that the freeze was not connected to the request for the probe but was to ensure that the new leadership in Ukraine was rooting out corruption.

Trump also denied it in tweet and added, “If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”

The aid was ultimately released without a probe and none of the witnesses produced by the Democrats during the House impeachment process only speculated or surmised that the probe and the aid were linked, they said.

But Bolton’s testimony would be from a party directly dealing with the president.

As the trial resumed on Monday, Kenneth Starr whose investigation of Bill Clinton was the basis for his impeachment in 1998, appeared this time as a defence lawyer.

He called the impeachment and the trial “a dagger” pointed at the “heart of the presidency” before turning to constitutional issues.

After the report by the Times, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “John Bolton has the evidence. It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, (Trump’s acting Chief of Staff) Mick Mulvaney, and the others with direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions testify in the Senate trial.”

The Republicans, who hold the majority with 53 senators in the 100-member Senate, blocked several attempts by Democrats’ to provide for witnesses when the rules were voted on the first day of the trial standing firmly by the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel.

When Trump’s lawyers finish their defence the Democrats will have another chance to ask for additional witnesses, including Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Trump issued a warning to would-be defector during an interview on Fox TV, “Some of them are running (for reelection, and I think it would be very bad for them” if they backed the Democrat’s demand.

The House impeached Trump last month on charges of abuse of power over his request in a July phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenstsky to probe the Bidens and obstruction of Congress for refusing to provide documents and witnesses requested by House investigators.

The Democrats’ say that asking for the probe amounted to soliciting foreign interference in US elections because Biden is the leading candidate for the party’s nomination to take on Trump in November.

Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow told the Senate on Monday it was not illegal for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate corruption.

The Democrats will not be able to get the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate to convict Trump and oust him from office and, therefore, the impeachment and the Senate trial is an outlet for their anger him and, more importantly, an extended election campaign against him.

Calling Bolton to testify is unlikely to get the Democrats enough Republican defectors to throw out Trump, but could add to their ammunition against Trump and lengthen the trial, which the Democrats want to end before the last State of the Union address of Trump’s current term scheduled for February 4.

But it could come at a cost as some Republicans have threatened to call the Bidens as witnesses to embarrass them and the party.

The crux of the case against is that he asked Ukrainian PresidentAVolodymyr Zelentsky during a July phone call to probe the Bidens as a favour.A

Democrats say that his amounted to inviting foreign involvement in US elections and delaying aid was an illegal attempt to use it pressure Ukraine.

Hunter Biden was made a director of a Ukrainian gas compnayAeven though he had no experience in the area and the former vice presidentAhad the prosecutorAlooking into the company fired.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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Cybercriminals can hack e-bikes to eavesdrop on riders

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New York: As governments including in India plan more e-bikes on roads to help tackle traffic congestion, like any Internet-connected device, hackers can cause a series of attacks in e-scooters, including eavesdropping on users and even spoof GPS systems to direct riders to unintended locations, warn researchers including some of Indian-origin.

Vendors of Micromobility vehicles can also suffer denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and data leaks, said researchers from University of Texas at San Antonio.

“We have identified and outlined a variety of weak points or attack surfaces in the current ride-sharing, or micromobility, ecosystem that could potentially be exploited by malicious adversaries right from inferring the riders’ private data to causing economic losses to service providers and remotely controlling the vehicles’ behaviour and operation,” said Jadliwala.

The micromobility e-scooter analysis was conducted by Jadliwala alongside graduate students Nisha Vinayaga-Sureshkanth, Raveen Wijewickrama and post-doctoral fellow Anindya Maiti.

The global e-Bike market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.01 per cent to reach $38.6 billion by 2025 from an estimated $21.1 billion in 2018, according to marketsandmarkets research firm.

Computer science experts at the university have published the first review of the security and privacy risks posed by e-scooters and their related software services and applications.

According to the review, to appear in the proceedings of the 2nd ACM Workshop on Automotive and Aerial Vehicle Security (AutoSec 2020), hackers can cause a series of attacks.

Some e-scooter models communicate with the rider’s smartphone over a Bluetooth Low Energy channel.

Someone with malicious intent could eavesdrop on these wireless channels and listen to data exchanges between the scooter and riders’ smartphone app by means of easily and cheaply accessible hardware and software tools such as Ubertooth and WireShark.

Those who sign up to use e-scooters also offer up a great deal of personal and sensitive data beyond just billing information.

According to the study, providers automatically collect other analytics, such as location and individual vehicle information.

This data can be pieced together to generate an individual profile that can even include a rider’s preferred route, personal interests, and home and work locations.

“Cities are experiencing explosive population growth. Micromobility promises to transport people in a more sustainable, faster and economical fashion,” said Jadliwala.

To ensure that this industry stays viable, companies should think not only about rider and pedestrian safety but also how to protect consumers and themselves from significant cybersecurity and privacy threats enabled by this new technology,” the authors noted.

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