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  • The Telegraph

    Mitch McConnell says he would support Donald Trump if he wins the 2024 Republican nomination

    Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has vowed to back Donald Trump if he wins the party's presidential nomination in 2024. The move cleared the path for the fractured party to potentially reunite behind a comeback attempt by the former president to recapture the White House. Asked if he would support Mr Trump, should he win the nomination, Mr McConnell said: "The nominee of the party? Absolutely!" However, he added that "a lot could happen" before 2024 and suggested the nomination race was "wide open". Two weeks ago Mr McConnell excoriated Mr Trump in a speech on the Senate floor, saying he was "practically and morally responsible" for the US Capitol riot on Jan 6. Mr McConnell had also previously indicated he wanted to "purge" Mr Trump from the party. Mr Trump is due to re-emerge from a self-imposed political hiatus at Mar-a-Lago when he delivers his first major post-presidential speech on Sunday to the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC] in Orlando, Florida. It was being seen as an opportunity for him to show that he is the presumptive 2024 nominee. Mr Trump was not expected to announce his candidacy, but to present himself as considering it favourably. That may discourage some of the host of other potential candidates from making preparations to run. "They know they can’t compete against the former president," said one of Mr Trump's advisers. Mr Trump has been urged by advisers not to dwell. in his speech, on unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020. Instead, he was expected to focus on "the future" and "fighting Biden’s socialist agenda". Mr Trump had responded to Mr McConnell's condemnation of him by calling the Republican Senate leader a "dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack." That had raised the prospect of a civil war within the party as the two men battled for control. But since Mr McConnell's castigation of Mr Trump polls have shown the vast majority of Republican voters still approve of the former president, and he is the overwhelming favourite for the 2024 nomination. Following his row with Mr Trump, Mr McConnell was not scheduled to speak at CPAC. Asked by Fox News about their war of words, Mr McConnell said: "What happened in the past is not something relevant now. We're moving forward." He denied the party was facing a "civil war" and said it was "actually in very good shape" as it seeks to win back control of the Senate and House of Representatives in midterm elections next year. Mr McConnell said: "I think we’ve unified in opposition to this new administration’s extremely progressive approach. President Biden has made it quite easy for us to get together. "Let's focus on winning the House and the Senate in '22. That will set up the next nominee for president, whoever that may be, with the best chance to be victorious."

  • The Telegraph

    Securities watchdog suspends trading for 15 stocks after 'suspicious social media activity'

    The US securities watchdog suspended trading in 15 companies’ stock today, claiming that their prices had been artificially inflated by a calculated social media campaign which exploited the market volatility. It comes as a cybersecurity company analysis suggested that GameStop and other “meme stocks” may have pumped by bots, or automated accounts, on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Friday’s suspension follows temporary bans of dozens more issuers, many of which may also have been targets of apparent social media attempts to artificially inflate their stock price, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said. Melissa Hodgman, Acting Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement said: "The SEC's recent suspensions of trading in nearly two dozen securities – including 15 today – are one facet of our ongoing efforts to police the market and protect investors. "We proactively monitor for suspicious trading activity tied to stock promotions on social media, and act quickly to stop that trading when appropriate to safeguard the public interest. We also remind investors to exercise caution and do their diligence before investing generally, including in companies promoted on social media." The suspended issuers included Bebida Beverage Co (BBDA); International Power Group Ltd (IPWG) and Universal Apparel & Textile Company (DKGR). The SEC can suspend the trading of stocks for ten days and prohibit a broker from selling or buying unless certain conditions are met. Cyber security company PiiQ on Friday claimed that social media bots have been hyping up GameStop and other "meme stocks" which have become extremely volatile in recent weeks. There had been speculation that the buzz around GameStop, AMC and Blockbuster may have been the work of a foreign interference campaign. However Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman told American politicians this month that he did not believe bots or fake accounts played "a significant role" in pumping up the stock's price and following an investigation, did not conclude that foreign meddling was a factor. However PiiQ said it found bots on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube which were posting with keywords including "Hold The Line", "GME" and "GameStop". The researchers said that it had found thousands of bots pumping Dogecoin, GameStop and others.

  • The Telegraph

    Calm, controlled and forensic, Alex Salmond sought to finish off his protege, but it may well be voters who do the job

    Anyone who has the slightest doubt that we are witnessing the gory end of a fairly spectacular political phenomenon, namely the double-act of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, couldn’t have caught even the briefest of snatches of his icily frank performance at Holyrood on Friday. It’s over and so, too, must surely loom the love affair that much of the Scottish electorate appears to have had with Ms Sturgeon over the last year. The diehards will stay but how can she keep normally non-nationalist voters, who defeated her in the 2014 referendum, and who’ve been won over by her daily television appearances in the battle against the Covid. And the polls suggest they might back her in an election in two months time and in any subsequent referendum. But Salmond said on Friday that Ms Sturgeon wasn’t fit to run an independent country and that she had, without doubt, broken the ministerial code about what they knew and when of allegations - which he denied - against him of sexual assault. He did believe that it was up to an independent inquiry - not him - to decide whether she should resign, but Salmond did rage against the fact that the Crown Office said that evidence could be published then subsequently said it should be ‘unpublished’. This was an issue that he believes should lead the Lord Advocate to ‘consider his position’, in other words submit his resignation. Salmond said he had been the subject of a ‘witch hunt’ by people close to the First Minister, including Peter Murrell - Ms Sturgeon's husband - who had been contacting people to secure allegations against him. And after a judicial inquiry into an investigation by the Scottish Government had found in his favour - costing the taxpayer over £500,000 - a senior government special advisor had told a colleague ‘We’ll get him in the criminal case’. Salmond said that the Scottish Government had delayed settling the judicial review, even when they knew they’d lose, in the hope, he added, that the criminal case against him "would ride to the rescue like the cavalry coming over the hill". In a display of all the forensic debating powers which once made him a power not just in Scottish, but UK, politics, Salmond sought to finish his former protege off as a political leader. He said that in spite of all the bad publicity the country had suffered in recent days. “Scotland hasn't failed, its leadership has failed." He said he wanted Scotland to be independent, but he also wanted it to be somewhere with robust safeguards where citizens were not subject to “arbitrary authority” . Wearing an SNP tie and lapel badge - he’s not now a party member - he kept mostly calm and controlled as he went carefully through a catalogue of what he said was a campaign against him. Nobody should forget, as Sturgeon will undoubtedly make plain when she gives evidence next week, that the root of this incredible saga was allegations of sexual assault levelled against Salmond - claims he denied - by two civil servants. And when members of the committee sought to question him about this episode he twice repeated the same mantra - namely that two judges and one jury had cleared him. He did urge the committee to continue to get agreement to publish the censored evidence but in relation to his main ‘target’ - his successor as First Minister - Salmond said that while he hadn’t made any allegations against others that he couldn’t corroborate, for that reason he hadn’t made any specific allegation against Sturgeon. However, in what sounded like a threat, he insisted that he was being prevented from disclosing evidence ‘way beyond’ what he’d so far been allowed to reveal. But a question remains at the end of all of this, based on the evidence we heard on Friday. Namely, can voters really continue to say they retain confidence in Sturgeon when they understand that what they’re backing is a government that is besmirching not just the good name of important national institutions, but of Scotland itself?

  • The Telegraph

    Daniel Levy has acquired power and profile in 20 years at Tottenham - but his project is still unfulfilled

    He was the youngest chairman in the Premier League when he took control of one of its biggest underachievers 20 years ago on Sunday, and the success or otherwise of the Daniel Levy era at Tottenham Hotspur remains a subject of dispute to this day. Spurs were 12th after defeat to Leeds United on Feb 24, 2001, four days after which Enic, the investment company partly owned by Levy, bought a controlling stake and he became non-executive chairman of the club, aged 38. Those close to him said that he never wanted to be chairman or to go through the kind of public row between his predecessor David Buchler and then manager George Graham that exploded in the months that followed. Graham was sacked having been accused by Buchler of leaking sensitive information about the club’s finances. Then in July 2001, the club captain Sol Campbell, allowed to run down his contract by the previous regime, signed for Arsenal as a free agent in one of the biggest embarrassments in Spurs’ history. By mid-October, Levy was executive chairman of Spurs. In the recent Amazon Prime documentary about the club in which Levy spoke candidly for the first time in years he reflected that he had run many businesses in his life. “A football club,” he concluded, “is the hardest I’ve run”. Two decades on the club is at another crossroads this summer. The heady days of the Mauricio Pochettino era are over. His successor Jose Mourinho has overseen a place in a League Cup final few believe Spurs can win and progress in Europa League, but five defeats in six in the league. The questions over the future of Harry Kane, the club’s top goalscorer for the last six seasons, will not go away. With three years left on his contract, and turning 28 in July is this the moment Levy sells? Even if he wished to, the question is whether a market exists for £100 million players. That kind of fee would be useful for a club that had only just built its long awaited new £1 billion stadium when Covid-19 struck.

  • The Telegraph

    Men applying for female-dominated jobs face 'significant' discrimination, study finds

    Men applying for female-dominated jobs like childcare are “significantly” discriminated against, a study has found. Male applicants for jobs involving cleaning and working with children are half as likely to be successful as female applicants, according to researchers from Linköping University in Sweden. However, no discrimination exists against women applying for jobs in male-dominated occupations, they claim. The researchers submitted 3,200 fictional applications to real job advertisements for 15 professions. They recorded whether the applicant was invited for an interview. Jobs categorised as male-dominated included mechanic, truck driver, IT developer and warehouse worker. Those considered female-dominated were cleaner, childcarer, preschool teacher, customer service worker, accounting clerk and nurse. Men struggled the most to get cleaning jobs, the study found. While 28 per cent of female applicants received an interview invitation, only 12 per cent of male applicants did. Jobs in childcare were also more difficult for men to secure, with only 26 per cent of male applicants being invited to interview compared with 53 per cent of women. Despite this apparent struggle for men to succeed in stereotypically female-dominated roles, women seemingly had no trouble progressing in applications to male-dominated jobs. Male and female applicants to be a truck driver were equally likely to be called for an interview, the data showed. Meanwhile, women led the pack in getting interviews for IT developer roles, with 42 per cent securing interviews compared with 39 per cent of men. "In Sweden, wage offers are essentially never posted in job ads, and there is usually an individual negotiation about wages for each new hire. It is therefore possible that employers may discriminate against men if they expect them to demand higher wages," the study said. "Another explanation offered in the literature for lower positive employer response rates is gender stereotyping. The female-dominated occupations where we find significant discrimination involve considerable interaction with children (preschool teacher and childcare), with the ailing (nursing), or with families (cleaners). Research in psychology suggests that female stereotypes are associated with communality." The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

  • The Telegraph

    All Met Police officers to receive new warrant cards after fakes sold online

    All Metropolitan Police officers are to be given new warrant cards after it emerged that extremely convincing fake versions were being sold online. The badges, which feature a photograph of the officer and the Scotland Yard crest, are used by all officers to identify themselves when going about their duties. But concerns have been raised within the force after it emerged that counterfeits were being sold on the internet that could be used by criminals to impersonate officers. The Met are now introducing more high tech warrant cards that will make it more difficult to replicate. It is thought they will include a chip to store data electronically as well as other security markings. It is understood the upgrade will cost around £650,000 and the funding has been agreed by the Mayor of London’s office. One police source told the Camden New Journal: “The roll-out is to do with security concerns but I think it’s also just time for an upgrade.” Anyone found using a fake warrant card could be charged with impersonating a police officer, an offence that carries a maximum six month prison sentence. A Met Police statement said: “The Met constantly reviews its physical, electronic and personnel security infrastructure so that we can take advantage of the latest technology to best protect the public, our officers, staff and information. "As part of our ongoing review process, all warrant cards [issued to police officers] and ID cards [issued to other police personnel] are being upgraded this year.”

  • The Telegraph

    Ryan Giggs to miss Wales' next three games after bail extended

    Welsh preparations for the European Championships have been thrown into turmoil after manager Ryan Giggs had his bail extended until May 1, only six weeks before their first game of the tournament. Giggs was arrested on suspicion of assault in November, leading to him stepping aside from his country’s three matches later that month. He has denied the allegations. Giggs is cooperating with the police and will continue to assist them with their ongoing investigations. The Welsh FA will now have to make a decision over who takes charge of the side for their upcoming fixtures in March, which include World Cup qualifiers against Belgium and the Czech Republic. Assistant manager Robert Page stepped in for Giggs last year and the expectation is that he will be asked to do so again. However the situation is not helped by the uncertainty at the top of the FAW, where chief executive Jonathan Ford was this week the subject of a vote of no confidence. It was hoped that the Giggs situation would have been resolved in time for the World Cup qualifiers in March but the FAW will now have to make another decision on how to proceed, with their opening Euro 2020 match against Switzerland due to take place on June 12. In a statement on Friday, a Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: "A 46-year-old man (now aged 47) arrested on suspicion of section 39 common assault and section 47 assault in November 2020 has had his bail extended until Saturday 1 May 2021. "This relates to an incident reported to police at 10.05pm on Sunday 1 November 2020 on Chatsworth Road, Worsley. A file remains with the CPS and a decision is expected in due course." There is less than a month until Wales take on Belgium on March 24, with matches against Mexico and the Czech Republic to follow later that week. They will therefore need to name a squad soon and put into place their preparations for the two World Cup qualifiers. In the absence of Giggs, Page oversaw the national side’s promotion in the Nations League as they beat Finland in November. Page had previously said that Giggs would only be “a phone call away” during those international fixtures, in case the coaching staff wanted his input about team or tactical matters. After the Finland match, Page said he had spoken to Giggs “straight away” following the final whistle and added that the absent manager was “extremely proud” of his players.

  • The Telegraph

    Tony Blair insists 12-week vaccine plan was his own idea after it is claimed he 'stole' it from Matt Hancock

    Tony Blair has insisted that the idea to use a 12-week delay between coronavirus doses was his idea, after he was accused of stealing ideas from the Government and passing them off as his own. Mr Blair published a paper in December calling for a delay between doses, arguing that it would allow more people to be protected from Covid-19 in a shorter space of time. The Government later introduced such a policy, and a source close to Matt Hancock told the Mail on Sunday the Health Secretary was furious that Mr Blair had taken his idea and announced it as his own, and was no longer speaking to him. On Friday Mr Blair insisted the idea had come from conversations he had with experts, and he still had "perfectly good" relations with ministers. "It came out of discussions I had with a range of experts and I published it just before Christmas," he told an Institute for Government event. "But having said that...I have a perfectly good relationship with people in Government. "I am perfectly happy to work with them or interact with them. "But getting into, I don't quite know how to put it politely, a game of 'who thought up what first', is neither seemly or very sensible." A source had told the Mail on Sunday: “Matt was briefing Blair as a courtesy to a previous Prime Minister. But he cottoned on that Blair was milking these conversations. “And that's when Hancock said, 'I'm not going to talk to you any more.”

  • The Telegraph

    Harry Kane poised to stay at Spurs for at least another year as Covid crisis squeezes European giants' finances

    Harry Kane is increasingly expected to remain at Tottenham Hotspur for at least next season with a growing sense that Europe’s biggest clubs will have little money to spend in the Covid-hit transfer market. The England captain stated last year that he might have to leave Spurs if he did not feel they were “progressing” and has made no secret of his desire to win trophies. Spurs are in the Carabao Cup Final and the last-16 of the Europa League but have slipped to ninth in the Premier League after a run of five defeats in six games that has placed their chances of qualifying for Europe in danger and cast doubt over the future of head coach Jose Mourinho. Spurs have never discussed a fee they would accept for Kane and insist they want him to stay. However they are also aware that he will, eventually, become a ‘depreciating’ asset as his contract runs down and that the striker is desperate to win trophies. Kane’s current deal is due to expire in 2024 which means it still has three seasons to run at the end of this campaign. It is highly unlikely that an offer in the next window will be big enough to tempt Spurs chairman Daniel Levy into selling. The ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic will have deep repercussions with clubs having spent heavily last summer in the expectation that fans would have returned before now. At the same time European giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have further financial issues while Paris Saint-German, another possible destination, are concentrating on trying to renew the contracts of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. A swap deal involving one of the European giants may be possible but might not appeal to Spurs who would probably want to cash in on Kane if he has to be sold. A battleground is emerging for Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, which, sources claim, is due to involve Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea but – at 20 – the Norwegian forward is seven years younger than Kane and would cost considerably less. Matters could also be complicated if Mourinho fails to arrest Tottenham’s current slide and does not secure European football. Spurs would put RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann top of their list of targets if Mourinho is replaced.

  • The Telegraph

    Two thirds of children didn't see a dentist last year, figures show

    Two thirds of children did not see a dentist last year, warn dental surgeons, who fear rising numbers will end up needing hospital treatment. Official statistics show that last year less than 3 in 10 kids saw a dentist, compared with six in 10 the year before. Even before the pandemic, dental decay was the top reason for children aged between 5 and 9 for be admitted to hospital. Dental surgeons raised fears that this year would see even more children ending up enduring surgery to have teeth extracted. Matthew Garrett, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England said: “While it is not surprising the number of children who saw an NHS dentist dropped so dramatically in 2020, we must improve access this year to avoid long-term damage to children’s teeth.” All dental practices had to close during the first lockdown, and although many reopened over the summer, they mainly treated patients with dental emergencies. Mr Garrett said it was essential that parents were advised that dentist are now open, and would prioritise children with tooth pain and dental trauma. “Prior to the pandemic, dental decay was the top reason for children aged between 5 and 9 years old to be admitted to hospital in England. We do not want to see a wave of children back in hospital for tooth extractions,” he said. Surgeons also urged parents to take extra steps to care for their children’s teeth, including cutting down on sugary snacks and drinks, and ensuring regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, with dentists now managing a backlog of people seekingcheck-ups.