Twitter says Conservative Party misled the public by rebranding as ‘factcheck account’ during election debate

The Conservative Party has been accused of misleading the British public by changing its Twitter to resemble an independent fact-checking organization during a televised election debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

Twitter said the Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office account, which has over 75,000 followers, misled the public with a last-minute rebranding of their social media account to ‘FactCheckUK’. The face swap came complete with a white tick avatar against a purple background, and it took place as the televised election debate between Tory leader Boris Johnson and rival Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn began. 

Only users who clicked through the account itself would see the disclaimer: “fact checking Labour from CCHQ”

© Twitter / GCHQPress

“Twitter is committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the UK general election,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

“We have global rules in place that prohibit behavior that can mislead people, including those with verified accounts. Any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information – in a manner seen during the UK Election Debate – will result in decisive corrective action.”

The account reverted to the original branding once the debate had concluded. 

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The Tories are facing a deluge of criticism for the stunt. Google-funded fact-checking agency Full Fact labelled the rebrand “inappropriate and misleading,” while the Labour Party tweeted: “The Conservatives’ laughable attempt to dupe those watching the #ITVDebate by renaming their twitter account shows you can’t trust a word they say.”

© Twitter / @CharltonBrooker

Black Mirror writer Charlie Brooker decided to mock the egregious and blatantly obvious trickery by changing his own Twitter profile, to the same Fact Check UK Branding, adding the tagline, “Fact checking and shit,” while also tweeting a reference to George Orwell’s 1984.

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Serbia must keep buying gold to brace for crisis, President Vucic advises central bank

The National Bank of Serbia has been instructed by President Aleksandar Vucic to continue boosting gold reserves in order to create an economic bulwark for the country.

“I think we’ll continue doing that because of what we see in which direction the crisis in the world is moving,” Vucic told reporters in Belgrade, citing slowing growth in the euro area which is Serbia’s top trading partner and main source of investment.

Vucic’s advice comes as the country added nine tons of the precious metal last month to increase its bullion reserves to more than 30 tons. Serbia’s gold holdings now make up ten percent of the country’s total reserves.

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Central bank Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic said the country paid about $434 million for the gold it bought last month, or $1,503 an ounce. Tabakovic said the acquisition is the latest in a series of moves to shore up financial stability by changing the structure of foreign debt and increasing the share of dinars and euros.Serbia’s gold buying follows the lead of central banks across the world, including top buyers Russia, China, and Turkey.

Global purchases of the precious metal totaled 547.5 tons in the third quarter of 2019. Analysts say the trend is likely to continue in the coming years due to heightened global tensions, currency wars, and the course of de-dollarization.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Special Report: Lebanon’s Pollution Crisis

Protesters in Lebanon have for several weeks demanded an overhaul of the country’s political system they say is dominated by elites who have steered the economy towards collapse. Sectarian politics is also being blamed for serious environmental problems like overflowing trash and polluted beaches. Our reporters visited the Beirut coastline to learn more.

Put on your anti-smog mask first: AirAsia India gives passengers flying to Delhi pollution protection

One of India’s no-frills airlines has expanded the range of masks available on board; in addition to one for oxygen, it will now give passengers masks to help cope with smog in the capital which recently hit toxic levels.

AirAsia India has started to hand out the anti-smog masks, free of charge, to those traveling to Delhi from large cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata. The air in the Indian capital is so toxic that deadly particles – known as PM 2.5 – can reach deep into the lungs, causing cancer.

Now, masks will help passengers to protect themselves from pollution even after the flight, the airline told the Times of India, saying the innovation is about giving passengers “the best in-flight experience.”

The campaign, however, is limited in scope as it is set to run until the end of November.

The low-cost airline isn’t the first company to seize on Delhi’s deteriorating air. Recently, “oxygen bars” have been spotted popping up across the city to help locals breathe more easily.

Customers pay between 299 and 499 rupees (around $4 to $7) for a 15-minute oxygen session, which features several fragrances such as orange, lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass or peppermint.

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A customer inhales oxygen mixed with aromatherapy at an oxygen bar in New Delhi, India, November 15, 2019.
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The city’s staggering smog levels are blamed on an increase in road vehicles, construction, and industrial activity as well as the burning of rubbish and crops outside the capital.

Municipal authorities, struggling with tackling pollution, introduced the use of cleaner fuel, restricted traffic during certain hours, and closed some of the dirtiest power plants, but they seem to be losing the fight as the air quality keeps worsening.

Men walk in front of the iconic India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi © REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Earlier in November, Delhi was flagged as the most polluted major city in the world with an air quality index (AQI) of 527, according to an Air Visual ranking. This year, the air quality has been described as exceptionally bad, soaring to levels more than 20 times what the UN-run World Health Organization considers safe.

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French police use ‘weapons of war’ against protesters: Journalist tells RT how tear gas grenade exploded in his face

A French journalist recalled the terrifying moment when an explosive tears-gas grenade hit him at the Yellow Vest protest, telling RT that there was no justification for police employing combat tools.

The weekend marked one year since the Yellow Vest protests picked up in France, with independent journalist Julien being among the many reporters, covering the anniversary rallies in Paris.

It started peacefully, but things quickly got out of hand as the protest apparently got hijacked by a group of demonstrators in black outfits. “It was a real riot. Some scenes resembled urban guerilla warfare,” Julien later recalled.

© Ruptly

The rioters were blocking roads, building barricades and throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails at police. Julien remained in the crowd, filming the mayhem around him with a GoPro camera.

At some point, the reporter realized riot police have been whipped into a state of “panic.” They responded with a barrage of tear gas grenades and sting-ball ammunition, fired at the people almost indiscriminately.

© Ruptly

What happened next felt like a slow-mo scene from a war movie. One gas grenade landed near Julien, than another went off some three to five meters away from him, releasing thick white smoke into the air.

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© Reuters / Charles Platiau
Tear gas & bonfires: Scuffles with police as Yellow Vests block roads in Paris ahead of 1st anniversary of protests (VIDEOS)

“Then, apparently I was hit in the face [with a grenade]. It exploded right in my gasmask and smashed through its protective plexiglass visor. It felt like a strong punch in the nose. And after that I heard the grenade exploding.”

The shock, the pain and the burning were almost unbearable. The reporter instinctively removed his camera and tried running away. But he couldn’t make it more than five meters, helplessly collapsing on the pavement.

© Ruptly

Julien’s nose and upper lip were smashed by what he identified as a French-made GLI-F4 explosive tear gas grenade. “I watched this moment frame by frame later. There really was an explosion. The flash is clearly visible in my footage,” he recalled, confessing that the image of that flash is now haunting him and often reappears in front of his eyes.

The protesters around him rushed to Julien’s help as soon as they saw him fall down. “I’m really thankful for that,” he said. The reporter was carried into a safe place and emergency workers were called in.

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©  AFP / Martin Bureau
‘Morons, bullies & thugs’: French interior minister hits back at ‘ultras’ at Yellow Vests after Saturday mayhem in Paris

The man was diagnosed with a broken nose and taken to hospital together with other wounded demonstrators. “If I wasn’t wearing a gasmask I wouldn’t have gotten off so lightly,” he said. He was stitched up, with the doctor saying the blood tumor on his face will heal in a week.

But not everybody was that lucky. There was one man at the hospital who had huge problems with his eye after an injury similar to Julien’s. “I don’t know what his condition is now, but it’s a nine of ten chance that he had lost his eye.”

© Ruptly

The journalist said he was going to file a complaint with the police over what was done to him. However, he says has no high hopes that justice he deserves will be served. “I think that even with all the evidence I have, the probe will be terminated – like it happened in so many other cases.”

But Julien is eager to keep fighting until GLI-F4 grenade is removed from police arsenal. “Those munitions can seriously hurt the demonstrators and I’m not sure their use is justified, as actually it’s a combat tool,” he explained.

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‘Needs improvement’ vs ‘beyond reproach’: Corbyn and BoJo weigh in on monarchy in wake of Prince Andrew scandal

There are still unanswered questions in the wake of a shocking sex scandal that purportedly involved Prince Andrew, Jeremy Corbyn has said, following a disastrous interview in which the Duke of York denied the serious allegations.

The Labour Party leader was pressed about his thoughts on the royal family, and Prince Andrew in particular, during a televised election debate with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

Asked if Andrew was “fit for purpose,” Corbyn argued that focus should be put on helping Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, adding that there are “very, very serious questions that must be answered and nobody should be above the law.”

He also said that the British monarchy “needs a bit of improvement.” His Conservative opponent insisted that “the institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach,” but stressed that “all his sympathies” were with the girls and women abused by Epstein and his cohorts. “The law must certainly take its course,” Johnson noted.

Some commentators on social media expressed bafflement at Johnson’s unwillingness to criticize the royal family, while others said Corbyn had been too soft on Andrew.

The Duke of York made a widely-derided appearance on BBC, in which he “categorically” denied allegations of sex abuse against a minor. One of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, claims she was forced into sex with Andrew between 1999 and 2002.

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Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho appointed new Tottenham Hotspur head coach

The Portuguese boss succeeded Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, who was sacked on Tuesday, and has singed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.

He is taking over Tottenham Hotspur, as they rank 14th in the Premier League and haven’t won in their last five games. The north London club’s chairman praised Mourinho as one of the most successful managers in football.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” Mourinho said. “Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

The 56-year-old has not been attached to any team since being sacked by Manchester United in December 2018. He has turned down a number of jobs in China, Spain and Portugal since then.

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