Nintendo bringt Zelda aufs Smartphone

Berichten zufolge arbeitet Nintendo an einer Smartphone-Version von „Legend of Zelda“. Bis März will das Unternehmen bis zu drei Mobile-Games veröffentlichen.

Der Konsolen-Hersteller setzt seine Mobile-Offensive mit einem Zelda-Titel fort. Mindestens zwei Spiele für das Smartphone will Nintendo in diesem Geschäftsjahr veröffentlichen.

Nintendo erweitert die Legend of Zelda-Serie um eine Version für das Smartphone. Wie das Wall Street Journal berichtet, soll das Mobile Game noch in diesem Jahr auf den Markt kommen. Einen konkreten Termin gibt es dem Bericht zufolge nicht, zuvor soll allerdings Animal Crossing erscheinen. 

Spieleentwickler DeNA, der für Nintendo die mobilen Apps produziert, informierte vergangene Woche, dass ein Veröffentlichungstermin für Animal Crossing in Kürze folgen soll. DeNA ist eigenen Angaben zufolge ein langfristiger Partner für den Konsolen-Hersteller und wird demnach auch Legend of Zelda auf das Smartphone bringen.

Für das aktuelle Geschäftsjahr, das im März 2018 endet, hat Nintendo zwei bis drei Mobile Games geplant. Im vorhergehenden Geschäftsjahr launchte das Unternehmen mit Super Mario Run und Fire Emblem Heroes seine ersten mobilen Titel. Super Mario Run erreicht laut Nintendo auf dem iPhone bald 150 Millionen Downloads. 

More cyberattacks as workweek begins? 5 things you need to know Monday

The biggest news to start your day.

It’s being called the biggest ransomware outbreak in history and it could be far from over.
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The Royal London Hospital.(Photo: Niklas Hallen, AFP/Getty Images)

Computers shut down over the weekend may be harboring a virulent ransomware virus ready to attack Monday as a new workweek kicks in, officials warned. A massive attack Friday from the “WannaCry” malware crippled more than 20% of hospitals in the United Kingdom and affected more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries, said Rob Wainwright, the head of the European Union’s “Europol” law enforcement agency. The software, which spreads among Windows computers, infects and then locks up individual machines, demanding a ransom to be paid in the electronic currency Bitcoin. The attack mostly impacted computers in Europe and Asia and spared North America. A computer security expert on Friday afternoon managed to blunt the attack, but Wainwright said the virus was changed over the weekend and could be poised to expand what he called an already “unprecedented” attack.

France’s youthful new president took office Sunday with a pledge to rebuild the country’s economy and listen to its citizens. Emmanuel Macron’s first international trip as president is scheduled for Monday: a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Macron is also expected to appoint his prime minister on Monday, according to Reuters and Politico, both of which cited sources close to the president. Macron was inaugurated Sunday at the Elysee palace in Paris, taking control of the country and its nuclear codes from mentor Francois Hollande. Macron and his wife, Brigitte, 64, will live in the palace.

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Emmanuel Macron becomes France’s youngest ever president on Sunday, taking over from socialist Francois Hollande in a solemn ceremony.
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It’s looking like Los Angeles or Paris for the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics, with each city getting one of those years. And Paris steps up its case for being first in line on Monday. Representatives from the International Olympic Committee will check out potential venues during their three-day visit to the City of Lights. The IOC’s evaluation commission visited L.A. last week. The IOC will act upon its report in September, when it has hinted it will announce host cities for both Olympics. The decision is made a lot easier by the fact that three onetime candidates for 2024 — Rome, Hamburg and Budapest — have dropped out. In seeking the 2024 Games, Paris can play the even-anniversary card — it last hosted an Olympics 100 years before — and the fresh-optimism card, with France’s youngest-ever president, Emmanuel Macron, having taken office Sunday.

Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert of France holds the logo of Paris’ bid for the 2024 Olympic Games in front of the Eiffel tower on Sunday. (Photo: Franck Fife, AFP/Getty Images)

Maybe. A solid retail sales report last week indicated we’re spending more lately, raising hopes of a rebound from the economy’s meager growth of the first three months of 2017. Another report Monday will keep the good news coming, if economists’ projections are accurate. It’s the latest read on homebuilder sentiment from the National Association of Home Builders. Sentiment has been healthy, partly because contractors are buoyed by President Trump’s vows of tax cuts and deregulation. The index is expected to hold steady at 68 for May, near the recent high of 71 in March.

Construction on a home in Fairfax, Va., a Washington suburb. (Photo: Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images)

Monday marks a rite of spring: The upfronts, or the presentation of the broadcast networks’ fall TV slates to advertisers. But first came the culling of the herd. Last week, programming execs decided the fates of on-the-bubble shows, axing some underperformers and giving others another season. NBC canceled Timeless — the freshman series that topped USA TODAY’s Save Our Shows poll — late Thursday, spelling an end to the time-travel drama after a mere 16 episodes. Two days later, it reversed course and announced a 10-episode renewal, citing the poll’s results. Check the status of your favorite show.

Matt Lanter as Wyatt Logan, Malcolm Barrett as Rufus Carlin and Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston travel to the past in NBC’s ‘Timeless,’ whose cancellation was reversed by NBC, citing fan support. (Photo: Sergei Bachlakov, NBC)

Merkron? France’s Macron seeks close ties with Germany to shore up EU

Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts new French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin on Monday for talks in which they will seek to reinvigorate the Franco-German relationship and the troubled European project that it underpins.

BERLIN Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts new French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin on Monday for talks in which they will seek to reinvigorate the Franco-German relationship and the troubled European project that it underpins.

Macron, who was inaugurated on Sunday, will ram home the message that the European Union is resilient despite Britain’s vote to leave and a spate of financial and migration crises that have boosted the far-right across the bloc.

The 39-year-old former investment banker meets Merkel a day after her conservatives won a regional vote in Germany’s most populous state, boosting her quest for a fourth term in office after a national election due on Sept. 24.

With Germany’s economy, Europe’s largest, outperforming that of France, the traditional Franco-German motor at the heart of the EU project has begun to misfire. Merkel and Macron want to kick-start ties with an alliance some German media have dubbed “Merkron”.

Merkel said at the weekend she wanted close cooperation with Macron and that their two countries would do everything to shape European policy. But her ruling coalition is at odds over how to respond to his calls for closer EU integration.

“Demands like a euro zone finance minister are really dreams,” European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, a German conservative, said before a meeting of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Berlin.

But he added: “The euro zone must be strengthened. The euro zone needs a more coherent, common approach.”

GERMAN FEARS

Many conservatives around Merkel, fearful the euro zone could develop into a “transfer union” in which Germany is asked to pay for struggling states that resist reforms, are skeptical of Macron’s calls for closer integration.

Last week Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) – junior partner in Merkel’s coalition – accused Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of the CDU of trying to “torpedo” Macron’s EU reform plans for political reasons ahead of Germany’s election in September.

Gabriel was reacting to comments from Schaeuble suggesting that Macron’s idea of creating a budget and finance minister for the euro zone were unrealistic because they would require politically thorny changes to the EU treaty.

Macron, a convinced European integrationist, pledged after taking office on Sunday to restore France’s standing on the world stage, strengthen national self-confidence and heal divisions that the bitterly-fought campaign had opened up.

Macron beat Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front in a May 7 run-off vote, but the long campaign exposed deep splits over France’s role in Europe, immigration, and policies to revive a sluggish economy bedeviled by high unemployment.

A former economy minister under France’s previous president, Socialist Francois Hollande, Macron is the youngest post-war French leader and the first to be born after 1958, when President Charles de Gaulle set up the Fifth Republic.

Merkel, 62, has been chancellor since late 2005, when Jacques Chirac was French president. Europe’s ‘Franco-German motor’ has often worked best in the past when leaders of opposite political persuasions have been in power.

(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke; Editing by Gareth Jones)

SEOUL North Korea said on Monday it had successfully conducted a mid- to-long-range missile test and would continue such launches “any time, any place”, defying UN Security Council resolutions and warnings from the United States.

BEIJING/LONDON The WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack hobbled Chinese traffic police and schools on Monday as it rolled into Asia for the new work week, while authorities in Europe said they were trying to prevent hackers from spreading new versions of the virus.

MOSUL, Iraq U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pressed an advance on neighborhoods under Islamic State control in Mosul on Monday as they seek to dislodge fighters entrenched in a central mosque before the holy month of Ramadan.

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Top SpaceX employee throws shade at just about all of his competitors

The price that government programs “charge for their rockets is just ridiculous.”

Although the provenance of the 54-minute call is not entirely clear, there is no question it is Mueller speaking, and he is doing so in a rare, unfiltered way. The 15-year employee of SpaceX, who is now the company’s Propulsion Chief Technology Officer, says things that many of SpaceX’s employees probably feel, but which are nonetheless impolitic. In other words, Mueller throws shade at just about everyone. For example, of the company’s most immediate rival, United Launch Alliance, Mueller has this to say: “The cost that the government cost-plus programs charge for their rockets is just ridiculous.”

During an approximately 30-minute monologue, which was followed by a Q&A, Mueller expands on what it was like to work at a start-up rocket company when the field was populated primarily by large aerospace companies and government entities, and to eventually come out on top. “We really changed the industry,” he says. “The other guys are really scrambling. It’s pretty funny to watch.” The call originates about a month after SpaceX’s historic flight of a reused rocket.

Now, Mueller says, SpaceX is having the last laugh. “We were ridiculed by the other big companies in the launch-vehicle business,” he says. “At first they ignored us, and then they fought us, and then they found out they really couldn’t win in a fair fight because we were successful and were factors of two, three, or even five lower cost than what they could do. So then it becomes an unfair fight where they try to destroy you politically or use other means. And then, at some point, they figure out that they’ve got to do what you’re doing.”

The SpaceX engineer then proceeds to list the ways in which his competitors—except for Blue Origin, which he also credits for working on a fully reusable rocket—are unlikely to catch up.

“There’s a lot of talk from these other companies about how they’re going to make reusable [rockets]—recover the engines, recover the stages, come up with a much lower-cost rocket so they can compete. There’s no way that ULA [United Launch Alliance] would have considered buying engines from Blue Origin except for the pressure that SpaceX put on them. There’s no way that the French would have quickly abandoned the Ariane 5 and moved to the Ariane 6 design except for the pressure we’re putting on them… The Russians are now saying that they’re going to come up with a rocket that can beat SpaceX, which is entertaining because they’ve been working on their Angara for 22 years and have launched it once. Suddenly they’re going to come up with a low-cost one.”

During his remarks, Mueller largely spares NASA from criticism, although he suggests the agency should be doing much more to explore Mars with robotic spacecraft and to accelerate the search for life. He does make one critical comment about a rocket that costs a billion dollars, however, presumably a reference to NASA’s Space Launch System, which will cost more than a billion dollars to fly and will not be reused. “If your rocket costs a billion dollars, even if you use it 100 times, it’s still going to be very expensive to use. So we set out to build low-cost rockets from the very beginning.”

This call is reminiscent of remarks made a little more than a year ago by a senior-level employee of SpaceX’s competitor, United Launch Alliance. During candid remarks at a University of Colorado-Boulder seminar, which Brett Tobey did not know were being recorded, the vice president of engineering said United Launch Alliance could not compete with SpaceX on price. He was terminated almost immediately by the company.

In his visit with the astronomy club, Mueller talks about more than rockets. He says he admires SpaceX founder Elon Musk, but finds him “trippy” to work for. He also said that the boss’ mood can swing wildly from day to day depending upon the success of SpaceX and his car company, Tesla. Mueller echoes his boss in regard to concerns (or relative lack thereof) about planetary protection, the effort by NASA to preserve other planets and moons in the Solar System from Earth-based microbes. “NASA has protocols for that which we’re following—initially,” Mueller said.

NHS cyber-attack: No ‘second spike’ but disruption continues

Jeremy Hunt says the lack of fresh attacks is “encouraging” as the NHS recovers from the virus.

A “second spike” in cyber-attacks has not hit the NHS but some hospital trusts are suffering ongoing disruption due to Friday’s ransomware virus.

Routine surgery and GP appointments have been cancelled across the NHS as it recovers from the global outbreak.

Patients have been urged to use the NHS “wisely” as the full impact of the ransomware attack comes to light.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says it is “encouraging” there have not been any fresh attacks.

“We’ve not seen a second wave of attacks and the level of criminal activity is at the lower end of the range that we had anticipated,” he said.

Mr Hunt is expected to attend a Cobra committee meeting on cyber-security, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd later.

Eleven trusts out of 47 that were hit are still facing issues, leading to further cancellations and delays to services.

Patients have been told to turn up for appointments, unless advised otherwise, although some GPs are asking people to consider whether they really need to attend the surgery imminently.

The virus that hit the NHS in England and Scotland, known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry, has infected 200,000 machines in 150 countries since Friday.

The National Crime Agency said it has not seen a “second spike” in attacks but “that doesn’t mean there won’t be one”.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs five hospitals in east London, says it continues to experience some “delays and disruption” to services.

It says it has “reduced the volume” of planned services for Monday and Tuesday, which means some surgery and outpatient appointments will be cancelled.

However, its hospitals remain open for emergency care and it is no longer diverting ambulances from its sites.

The trust said its trauma and stroke care services are now fully operational, as are renal dialysis services.

More on the latest NHS disruptions

Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, has called the cyber-attack the “largest ransomware attack observed in history”.

The ransomware, which locks users’ files and demands a $300 (£230) payment to allow access, spread to organisations including FedEx, Renault and the Russian interior ministry.

In England, 47 NHS trusts reported problems at hospitals and 13 NHS organisations in Scotland were affected.

NHS Wales said none of its computer systems was affected and no patient data compromised, while police in Northern Ireland said no incidents had been reported.

Some hospitals were forced to cancel treatments and appointments, and divert ambulances to other sites.

Prime Minister Theresa May has denied suggestions that the government ignored warnings that NHS systems were vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

“It was clear warnings were given to hospital trusts, but this is not something that focused on attacking the NHS here in the UK,” she said.

In July last year, the Care Quality Commission and National Data Guardian, Dame Fiona Caldicott, wrote to Mr Hunt warning that an “external cyber threat is becoming a bigger consideration” within the NHS.

It said a data security review of 60 hospitals, GP surgeries and dental practices found there was a “lack of understanding of security issues” and data breaches were caused by time-pressed staff often working “with ineffective processes and technology”.

Meanwhile, Security Minister Ben Wallace has insisted NHS trusts have enough money to protect themselves against cyber-attacks.

The “real key” was whether trusts had regularly backed up data and whether they were installing security patches, he said.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told Radio 4’s Today programme many hospitals use sophisticated technology such as MRI and CT scanners which are “bound to be using old software” because they have a ten-year life expectancy, so are often linked to older operating systems.

He said he was “disappointed” at the suggestion by some that the cyber-attack problem was down to “NHS manager incompetence”.

The government is insisting that the NHS had been repeatedly warned about the cyber-threat to its IT systems, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon stating £50m was being spent on NHS systems to improve their security.

But Labour criticised the Conservatives, saying they had cut funding to the NHS’s IT budget and a contract to protect computer systems was not renewed after 2015.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn described the cyber-attack on the NHS as “highway robbery” and said more investment was needed to protect “all of us from the criminals doing us down”.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth also pointed to a report from the National Audit Office six months ago.

It highlighted how, in February 2016, the Department of Health had “transferred £950m of its £4.6bn budget for capital projects, such as building works and IT, to revenue budgets to fund the day-to-day activities of NHS bodies”.

The WannaCry ransomware exploits a flaw in Microsoft Windows first identified by US intelligence.

Microsoft, who released a security update in March to protect computers from the virus, described Friday’s incident as a “wake-up call”.

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Jeremy Hunt says the lack of fresh attacks is “encouraging” as the NHS recovers from the virus.

General election 2017: Workers’ rights protections promised by Tories

The Tories pledge a workplace rights expansion, but Labour says they are “taking people for fools”.

Theresa May is promising what she says would be the biggest expansion of workers’ rights by any Conservative government, if the party retains power.

Its manifesto will promise to keep all workers’ rights currently guaranteed by EU law, put worker representation on company boards and protect pensions.

There would also be a statutory right to a year’s unpaid leave to care for a family member.

But Labour said Mrs May was “taking working people for fools”.

And the GMB union said its members would “believe it when they see it”.

In what BBC political correspondent Ben Wright says is an “unabashed pitch for Labour voters”, Mrs May will promise a “new deal for workers”, with a string of proposals.

The statutory right to leave to care for a family member is similar to provision that already exists in countries such as the Republic of Ireland.

There would also be statutory leave for parents whose child has died.

Other measures would include new protections for people in the “gig economy”, a statutory right to training, measures to protect workers’ pensions in the wake of the BHS scandal, and a guarantee that European Union rights will be protected in the Brexit process.

The national living wage for workers aged 25 and over, currently £7.50 an hour, would rise in line with average earnings until 2022.

The Tories would also insist listed companies had representation for workers on their boards – whether on advisory panels, as a non-executive director or through a directly appointed worker representative – although firms would not be forced to have actual employees in the boardroom.

Mrs May will say: “By working with business, reducing taxes and dealing with the deficit, we have delivered steady improvements to the economic prospects of working people.

“Now is the time to lock in that economic growth and ensure the proceeds are spread to everyone in our country.”

Labour, which has repeatedly warned of the threat to workers’ rights posed by Brexit, dismissed the announcement.

It argued the Tories had overseen an “era of non-compliance of employment law”, an “explosion in low pay and stagnating wages” and a “massive expansion in bogus self-employment”.

It also said a pledge from Mrs May to put workers on company boards had been “watered down”.

“Theresa May and her Tory government have failed to stand up for workers, with hundreds of thousands not being paid the money owed to them, thousands unable to get their case against their employer heard, and hundreds of complaints of employment agency malpractice going un-investigated,” said campaign chairman Andrew Gwynne.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ former business secretary, said: “The Conservatives tried to ban workers from striking and were blocked by the Liberal Democrats in government.

“It’s clear they aren’t the party of workers’ rights and that you can’t trust them to care about you and your family.”

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said achieving the greatest expansion of workers’ rights by a Conservative government “wouldn’t be that hard to achieve given recent history”.

He called for an end to the squeeze on public sector pay and to the “wide scale abuse” of agency contracts.

The warning comes amid fears of further ransomware attacks worldwide as people return to work.

WCry is so mean Microsoft issues patch for 3 unsupported Windows versions

Decommissioned for years, Windows XP, 8, and Server 2003 get emergency update.

Microsoft also rolled out a signature that allows its Windows Defender antivirus engine to provide “defense-in-depth” protection. The moves came after attackers on Friday used a recently leaked attack tool developed by the National Security Agency to virally spread ransomware known as “WCry” or “WannaCrypt.” Within hours, computer systems around the world were crippled, prompting hospitals to turn away patients while telecoms, banks, and companies such as FedEx were forced to turn off computers for the weekend.

The chaos surprised many security watchers because Microsoft issued an update in March that patched the underlying vulnerability in Windows 7 and most other supported versions of Windows. (Windows 10 was never vulnerable.) Friday’s events made it clear that enough unpatched systems exist to cause significant outbreaks that could happen again in the coming days or months. In a blog post published late Friday night, Microsoft officials wrote:

We also know that some of our customers are running versions of Windows that no longer receive mainstream support. That means those customers will not have received the above mentioned Security Update released in March. Given the potential impact to customers and their businesses, we made the decision to make the Security Update for platforms in custom support only, Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003, broadly available for download here.

This decision was made based on an assessment of this situation, with the principle of protecting our customer ecosystem overall, firmly in mind.

This is possibly the first time ever that Microsoft has issued a patch for a product decommissioned so long ago. While the company issued an emergency patch for Windows XP in 2014, it came the same week support for that version ended, making the exception seem less unusual. This time around, the emergency patches are being applied to OS versions that Microsoft stopped supporting as many as three years ago.

Microsoft announced the patches around the same time it said it still doesn’t know what the precise starting point was for Friday’s WCry outbreak. One of the key questions circulating once Friday’s viral outbreak appeared to be contained was how did the self-replicating worm first gain entry so it could go on to spread from vulnerable machine to vulnerable machine.

At least two security firms—FOX-IT here and CrowdStrike here—said spam that sent fake invoices to end users provided the crucial initial vector to seed the self-replicating attack, but none of the three companies have produced copies. Some researchers doubted a generic e-mail campaign could have been the sole initial vector without leaving a mountain of evidence that would have surfaced by now. In a blog post published Friday night, Microsoft officials wrote:

We haven’t found evidence of the exact initial entry vector used by this threat, but there are two scenarios we believe are highly possible for this ransomware family:

The blog post went on to say that the worm “executes massive scanning on Internet IP addresses to find and infect other vulnerable computers.”

FOX-IT also said in its blog post that “there appear to be multiple infection vectors,” but the post didn’t elaborate. Maarten van Dantzig, a researcher with FOX-IT, said on Twitter here and here that he suspects e-mail was the initial vector for some, but not all, of the outbreaks. Researchers from Cisco Systems Talos group went even further, writing: “Our research does not yet support that e-mail was the initial infection vector. Analysis is ongoing.”

The possibility that ransomware can spread virally across the Internet without any form of end-user interaction is a chilling prospect. Internet-wide scans performed in recent weeks show that as many as 2.3 million computers have the necessary port 445 exposed to the Internet. Those scans also reveal that 1.3 million Windows machines haven’t been patched.

People who are running unpatched machines should take action immediately. The best measure is to patch the vulnerability using this link for supported versions or this one for XP, 8, and Server 2003. Those who can’t patch should ensure their computers are locked down by, among other things, blocking outside access to ports 138, 139, and 445. They should also disable version 1 of the Server Message Block protocol.

Friday’s attack could have been much worse, had the perpetrators not slipped up by failing to register an Internet domain that was hardcoded into their exploit as a sort of “kill switch” they could activate if they wanted to shut down the worm. That made it possible for a quick-acting researcher to register the domain and stop much of the attack just as it was gaining momentum.

A new attack could come at any time. Next time, defenders may not be so lucky. As Microsoft’s blog posts makes clear, vulnerable machines aren’t only a danger to themselves, but to the entire world at large.

FBI chief sacking: White House denies Comey loyalty pledge

The press secretary also refuses to comment on if Mr Trump is making surreptitious recordings.

The White House has denied reports that President Donald Trump asked fired FBI Director James Comey to pledge loyalty to him.

Press secretary Sean Spicer rejected US media reports that the president sounded out Mr Comey at a private White House dinner in January.

According to the newspaper, the now-former FBI director said he would offer the president honesty, but not loyalty.

Mr Trump has faced a backlash for dismissing Mr Comey on Tuesday.

The FBI probe and parallel congressional investigations into alleged Russian political meddling, and whether any Trump campaign officials colluded with the Kremlin, have dogged his young presidency.

In Friday’s daily briefing, Mr Spicer refused to comment on questions about whether Mr Trump had been making surreptitious recordings in the White House.

Mr Trump tweeted hours earlier that Mr Comey had “better hope there are no tapes” of their conversations.

Mr Spicer denied the tweet was a threat.

“The president has nothing further to add on that,” he told reporters repeatedly when pressed about the post. “The tweet speaks for itself”.

However, Mr Comey believes “if there is a tape, there is nothing he is worried about”, a source told CNN.

Mr Trump’s comments provoked fresh comparisons between his administration and that of disgraced President Richard Nixon, who famously recorded conversations, speeding his downfall during the Watergate scandal.

Why is Watergate in the news again?

The top Democrats on the House judiciary and oversight committees wrote to the White House on Friday demanding copies of any recordings.

John Conyers and Elijah Cummings’ letter noted “it is a crime to intimidate or threaten any potential witness with the intent to influence, delay or prevent their official testimony”.

Donald Trump was reportedly unhappy with how his press team handled fallout from Tuesday’s decision to fire Mr Comey, so he’s taken things into his own hands. Boy, has he.

First he gave an interview that essentially undercut all the arguments White House officials, from Vice-President Mike Pence on down, had made to paint the Comey sacking as an operation conducted through normal channels. Now he has taken to Twitter in earnest, spraying a barrage of allegations, accusations and aggressions against Democrats, the media and Mr Comey himself.

In sports terms, the strategy could be described as “flooding the zone” – launching a ferocious, full-out assault to overwhelm an opponent’s defences. In this case, Mr Trump has the media scrambling to decide which story merits the most coverage.

Is it the details of the Comey-Trump dinner and the president’s hints of secret “tapes”? His threat to cancel press briefings? The Oval Office visit by a Russian entourage? Perhaps, as Mr Trump suggests, the “real news” is the tentative trade agreement between the US and China on beef and poultry products?

When everything is a big story, nothing is. At least, that’s what Mr Trump may hope.

Mr Comey has declined an invitation to testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee next Tuesday.

President Trump told NBC News that Mr Comey requested the one-on-one dinner, but the former FBI director reportedly maintains it was the president who invited him.

Mr Comey had said he was “uneasy” before the dinner, according to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

He told MSNBC on Friday that he had spoken to Mr Comey before the White House meal.

The FBI chief had confided he was concerned it might compromise his Trump-Russia inquiry, said Mr Clapper.

Mr Trump has said Mr Comey told him three times he was not a target of the FBI inquiry, fuelling accusations the president was interfering in the investigation.

Still chafing at media coverage of the firing, Mr Trump tweeted on Friday: “Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”

Mr Spicer said the president was a “little dismayed” that his press team’s attempts to give out information were being turned into a “game of gotcha” by the media.

Mr Trump doubled down in an interview with Fox News by threatening to hold the press briefings only once a fortnight, with himself at the podium.

“Unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself, we don’t have them,” he said. “I think it’s a good idea. First of all, you have a level of hostility that’s incredible and it’s very unfair.”

A major incident is declared at hospitals after NHS services in England and Scotland hit, amid reports of organisations worldwide being hit by IT attacks.

Election latest: Reaction to Labour leak

Conservatives pledge a defence spending increase – but Labour’s leaked manifesto dominates.

He argues that half the cars produced in the UK are sold into mainland Europe  – and most are sold to other countries and exported abroad.

Friction-less access is also needed for car parts and components going back and forth between the UK and Europe, he says.

He adds that Mrs May cannot fight the election on a single issue – Brexit – and asks what her policies are on security, defence, public services, education, NHS, poverty and inequality.

BBC reporter tweets…

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Christian Wolmar, a transport specialist and former Labour candidate, says the idea of nationalising the railways is “perfectly sensible”.

“The franchise system is in trouble and most franchises are in the hands of foreign government,” he says, but bringing it into public ownership would “take some time to bring about”.

Richard Wellings from the Institute of Economic Affairs responds that the management of track by Network Rail is “far from a success story” and has been characterised by “endemic mismanagement”.

What we need is “proper privatisation”, according to Dr Wellings. 

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Analysis carried out by the World At One finds 25% of Conservative candidates are women, 41% for Labour, around a third for the SNP and just under a third of Lib Dem candidates.

Conservative Maria Miller says her party has made “significant progress because of Theresa May and the work she’s done with the Women2Win campaign”. 

The SNP’s Kirsty Blackman stresses the snap election has meant “less time to reach out to candidates from non-traditional backgrounds”.

Lib Dem Daisy Cooper acknowledges there is room for improvement but estimates the party has selected women in the 50 to 60 most winnable seats. 

The future of jobs, manufacturing and the car industry must be on the ballot paper for the 8 June general election, former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has said.

He said there were 45,000 people employed by Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands, 170,000 employed in the car industry throughout the UK, nearly 800,000 people dependent on jobs in the supply and servicing industry and 2.7m employed in manufacturing.

“They need to have answers before this election about what is to happen to manufacturing in these European negotiations,” he told Labour supporters at Coventry University.

He argued that whether a person voted leave or remain, “it’s in the interest of Britain to negotiate free trade with the EU” so cars, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing products can be sold without taxation as they enter the EU.

He said nobody in Coventry can afford to give the prime minister “a blank cheque” when the jobs of car workers, the future of manufacturing and prospects of young people were at stake during the election.

Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has accused Theresa May of asking voters to give her a “carte blanche” to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU.

He said manufacturing, the car industry and jobs will all be at risk “if we are not told what we are voting for on 8 June”.

Speaking at a campaign event in Coventry University, he said: 

Mrs May says she wants this single issue election to strengthen her hand with Europe – but we don’t know what her hand is. She’s not telling us what her hand is in these negotiations.”

Mr Brown also said the only way to end pensioner poverty is vote Labour.

If Mrs May is re-elected, the prediction is another 400,000 elderly people will be “pushed into pensioner poverty” by 2022, he said.

The EU’s chief negotiator in the Brexit negotiations Michel Barnier has told Irish politicians that he will do everything he can to avoid a “hard border” between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Addressing a joint session of the Irish parliament this morning, Mr Barnier renewed his pledge to make border negotiations one of the three main priorities in forthcoming talks, alongside the safeguarding of the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and the financial settlement which had to be agreed. Ireland’s interests would be treated as the EU’s interests.

He said that people living in the border area with Northern Ireland, and in Ireland generally, had concerns about the affect Brexit would have on exports to the UK, with 14% of goods and 20% of services going to the UK alone. But there was also the issue of border checks themselves which had to be addressed and the “fear [of a] return to the instability of the past”. Mr Barnier said that nothing “should put peace at risk”.

The PoliticsHome website reports that the Unite union “has agreed to give Labour up to £4.5 million to fight the general election – with the possibility of more cash if required”.

The decision to release the cash from the union’s political fund was taken at a meeting of its executive council on Monday, according to PoliticsHome, and an initial payment of just under £2m has already been donated to Labour

The Daily Politics

Lib Dem Tom Brake has defended his party’s plans to allow 50,000 Syrian refugees into the UK over five years.

“We will ensure that it’s properly funded,” said Mr Brake, but sidestepped questions by BBC2’s Daily Politics about how the party will pay for the policy.

The candidate for Carshalton and Wallington said many local authorities were prepared to take in refugees, adding that the borough of Sutton had accepted over 20 people.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the government’s 20,000 figure for refugees has yet to be met.

But she said it was not fair that countries surrounding Syria, that are often poor, should take the biggest share of the burden so far.

John Campbell

BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

Michel Barnier tells the Irish parliament he will work to avoid a hard border when the UK leaves the EU.

The former Labour MP has said he will stand against the party’s official candidate in Rochdale.

The former Foreign Secretary Dame Margaret
Beckett has given short shrift to reporters asking her about the leak of Labour’s manifesto.

Arriving for the “Clause Five” committee, which is meeting today to discuss the manifesto, Dame Margaret was asked if she was embarrassed by the leak, or she was responsible for it emerging. She replied tartly: “Oh don’t be silly – I haven’t seen the b****y  thing, have I?”

Labour’s shadow chancellor spoke to a reporter earlier on his way to today’s “Clause 5” meeting.

The leaked manifesto would be fully costed by the time it was launched next week and was a modern package, John McDonnell said.

UKIP has given more details of its plans for Britain’s fishing industry.

Speaking in London this morning, Mike Hookem who is a member of the European Parliament, said the party would scrap the EU common fisheries
policy as it applies to the UK in its entirety and enforce a new 200-mile limit around Britain’s shores.

Mr Hookem said that sovereignty needed to be restored immediately to maximise the potential of Britain’s fisheries and that the “net to plate value” of the industry was worth some £6.3 billion to the UK economy.  

Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Caroline Lucas has been launching its environment manifesto this morning.

She was critical of the lack of discussion about the environment in the political campaigning so far.

The Bank of England has trimmed its UK growth forecast for 2017, saying that household spending is slowing more quickly than expected.

The Bank trimmed its growth forecast to 1.9% from its previous estimate of 2.0% made in February.

It also held interest rates at 0.25%.

Before last June’s referendum the pound was trading at about $1.47. It is currently trading around $1.29, down 12%.

The Bank also highlighted that its current forecasts were based on the assumption that “the adjustment to the United Kingdom’s new relationship with the European Union is smooth”

A left-wing political alliance co-founded by the late rail union leader Bob
Crow will not field any candidates in the General Election and says it will support
Jeremy Corbyn. 

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was the sixth largest party in the general and local elections of 2015, polling nearly 120,000 votes.

The coalition was launched in 2010 by the then General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, and backed by a number of
trade unionists and “independent socialists.” 

TUSC chairman Dave Nellist, a former Labour MP, said: “Ever since Jeremy
launched his leadership bid in 2015, TUSC has been determined to support him
against Tory and Blairite attacks and build the anti-austerity struggle that lay
behind his success.” 

Mr Nellist said the general election gave “working class people the
opportunity to drive out the Tory government and, on this occasion, put a
socialist in Number 10.”

Policies in Labour’s leaked manifesto would “risk putting the economy into reverse gear”, the CBI’s deputy director-general has said.

If reports of it are accurate “this is a manifesto that is past its sell by date”, Josh Hardie said.

“A
number of these policies risk putting our economy into reverse gear rather than
moving forward to support business in creating an inclusive, innovative economy
that works for people in all corners of the UK,” he said. 

“Proposals to damage the UK’s flexible labour market and
competitive markets will threaten jobs and prosperity. We await the final
manifesto with interest.”

The BBC has issued a comment after a cameraman was injured in an incident involving a car carrying Jeremy Corbyn.

An experienced BBC cameraman has been injured while filming at the Labour Party manifesto meeting. He has been taken to hospital for assessment and treatment. At the moment the BBC are focusing on their duty of care, making sure that he is ok.”

Jonathan Beale

BBC defence correspondent

Labour’s defence policy
appears towards the back of the leaked manifesto. 

At first glance it looks like the most controversial subject for the
party’s been resolved. 

Labour’s committed to renewing the Trident
Nuclear Weapons System, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s well-known opposition. 

His own
concerns are reflected in a passage stating any prime minister should be “extremely cautious” about ever using the weapons of “mass destruction” and in setting out how Labour would work towards a world free of nuclear
weapons.

There’s also another
potential caveat. Labour would carry out an immediate review of all defence
policy if it wins the election. That won’t please everyone in the military.
 

The armed forces are still trying to fund and implement the 2015
defence review.

Like the Conservatives, Labour’s committed to spending 2% of the national income, or GDP, on
defence – a Nato target. Though, interestingly, that’s the only
mention of the alliance. More time’s spent talking about working with the
UN.

Labour reminds the electorate
that it’s the Conservatives and the Coalition that’s been responsible for the
largest defence cuts in a generation. 

It promises to fully fund the armed
forces in the future.  

But there’s still no specific pledge to
protect numbers or on equipment. 

Instead the party’s focus appears to be on
retention and on improving the lives of service families and veterans with
better housing.

Andrew Neil

Presenter, The Daily Politics

BBC Radio 5 live tweets…

Iain Watson

Political correspondent

It’s not just Labour’s policies that have been exposed by
the leaks of the manifesto – it’s the level of distrust at the very top of the
Labour Party.

The draft document, which is now in the public domain, had a very limited
circulation. 

Members of Labour’s National Executive that I have spoken to
hadn’t seen it. Most – though not all – shadow cabinet members were shown only
the sections which related to their policy areas. To prevent leaks…

And
certainly the leak of a complete version of a draft manifesto before it has
been formally discussed is unprecedented.

Sources close to Jeremy Corbyn say “100 per cent” they did
not leak it – and were shocked around 8pm last night to hear it had leaked.

Sources close to both the party leader and the
Unite leader Len McCluskey are pointing the finger at the party’s deputy
leader, Tom Watson. 

They say this is all about 9 June – if an impression
of chaos around Corbyn is created now, and Labour fails to get 30% of
the vote on polling day, it will give his deputy a reason – or an excuse – to call for the leader’s resignation.

Sources close to Watson have categorically denied leaking the
manifesto – they say this would be mad. They don’t want Labour to perform
so badly that it becomes difficult to recover.

BBC cameraman Giles Wooltorton is now on his way to hospital after the car carrying Jeremy Corbyn ran over his foot.

The incident happened as the Labour leader arrived at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London, where a party meeting is due to take place as it deals with the fallout from the leak of its draft general election manifesto.

He’s seen here being comforted by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg just before he was loaded into an ambulance.   

What’s buzzing on social media today? 

Drawing up an election platform is no easy feat, but some Twitter users appear to be outlining mock manifestos in a matter of minutes.

Social media users who support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are drawing up mock Conservative manifestos, while his critics say Labour think money grows on trees.

Read more

BBC Parliament

Freeview channel 131

Paul Nuttall believes he will “come under no pressure whatsoever” to resign
as leader should UKIP fail to win any seats at the general election.

UKIP MEP Mike Hookem said Mr Nuttall had the “full support” of his fellow
MEPs in Brussels after questions about his future were raised by reporters
during a Westminster policy launch.

Mr Nuttall also initially appeared hesitant when asked if former leader Nigel
Farage will be helping with his campaign to be elected MP for Boston and
Skegness, noting: “I would think so.” 

When pressed, he later said: “Yeah, of course, Nigel will come campaigning
with me in Boston.” 

Mr Nuttall failed in his by-election bid to become Stoke-on-Trent Central MP in
February, with questions raised about the party’s popularity with voters after
it suffered heavy losses at this month’s local elections. 

More from Unite boss Len McCluskey on the leaked Labour manifesto…. He told reporters the
policies are “really really exciting”, adding:

If the British electorate can only look at that rather than the obsession that you people have about the leadership of the Labour Party.”

Asked if Labour voters want the policies in the draft manifesto, he said: “I absolutely do.”

He said they would welcome a higher minimum wage, the abolition of zero-hour contracts and the nationalisation of the railways which described as “the most popular policy out there”. 

Mr McCluskey said he would support the manifesto which emerges after agreement at a meeting of senior party and trade union figures in London today.

Channel 4 assistant editor tweets…

Hayley Mortimer

BBC Gloucestershire politics reporter

UKIP won’t be fielding a candidate in
Cheltenham.

The town voted for Remain in the referendum so UKIP says it will instead concentrate resources elsewhere in the county.

The party stressed it won’t be endorsing
another candidate in the town, nor has any arrangement been made with other
parties.

Cheltenham is a target seat for the Lib Dems,
with former MP Martin Horwood returning from his defeat in 2015 to try to win
back his seat from the Conservatives.

Drayton Manor: Park to stay closed after Evha Jannath’s death

Drayton Manor Theme Park will shut for a second day as Evha Jannath’s family call for full inquiry.

A theme park where an 11-year-old girl died in a fall from a water ride will remain closed for a second day.

Evha Jannath fell from a boat on the Splash Canyon rapids attraction during a school trip to Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire on Tuesday.

Her family, from Leicester, want the ride to stay shut throughout the investigations and have asked for the immediate release of her body.

They said she was “a beautiful little girl who was full of love”.

In a statement, thanking emergency services, the park said Tuesday’s events had “shaken the whole Drayton Manor family, from the board, through to staff and visitors.

“The park will be closed on Thursday to allow the Health and Safety Executive to complete their work.

“Our thoughts are with the family and all those who have been affected by Tuesday’s incident,” it said.

Evha’s family, who released a statement through the campaign office of Leicester politician Keith Vaz on Wednesday evening, called for a comprehensive investigation and the suspension of the ride until it was completed.

For more on this and other stories

“The family has requested a full inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this tragic death and welcome the actions taken so far by Staffordshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE),” the statement reads.

“The family requests that the ride in question is suspended, until the inquiry is concluded and the full facts are established.

“They have asked for the immediate release of Evha’s body so that it can be buried according to their religious rights and customs.

“This terrible loss is felt not only by the family but by the community as a whole.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the family said their “world was torn apart” following Evha’s death.

“Words cannot describe the pain and loss we feel. We are devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again.”

The family-run theme park, near Tamworth, was closed on Wednesday as “a mark of respect”.

Evha’s school, Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester, was also closed for the day.

Erfana Bora, the head teacher at the Islamic day school, described Evha as a “lovely, sweet-natured girl [who] was loved by everyone”.

“We are trying to make sense of this terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and our prayers are with Evha’s family,”

Prayers were said for the schoolgirl at the Jameah Mosque in Leicester.

The Splash Canyon ride, which opened in 1993 and features up to 21 boats each with a capacity of six people, promises “a wild ride” with “fast-flowing rapids”. Height restrictions are imposed and in some cases children are required to be accompanied by an adult.

In response to Tuesday’s events, a number of other UK theme parks closed similar rides.

Merlin Entertainments, which runs Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Legoland, said it was temporarily closing its rapid rides until more information about what happened was known.

“We are aware of the tragic events at Drayton Manor and our thoughts are with the family and all of those affected,” a spokesman said.

“Safety is our number one priority. We have full confidence in the safety of all the rides we operate, but as a precautionary measure, rapid rides at relevant parks will be closed until more details of the incident become available.”

Emergency crews were called to the park at about 14:15 BST to find Evha had been pulled from the water by staff but had suffered serious injuries.

She was flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

The death at Drayton Manor is thought to be the first at a UK theme park since 2004, when a 16-year-old girl fell from the Hydro ride at Oakwood theme park near Tenby, west Wales.

In June 2015, five people were seriously injured in a collision on the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers, also in Staffordshire.

Last October four people died on a rapids ride at Australia’s Dreamworld, on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

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The document includes plans to nationalise parts of the energy industry and scrap tuition fees.