Scarlett Johansson marries Colin Jost in intimate ceremony

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson has married her fiancé Colin Jost in a low-key ceremony, it has been announced.

The wedding took place at the weekend, said by Meals on Wheels, a US-based charity for elderly people.

The charity said Johannson and Jost support their work with vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ceremony was “intimate… with their immediate family and love ones, following Covid-19 safety precautions”, Meals on Wheels wrote on Instagram.

“Their wedding wish is to help make a difference for vulnerable older adults during this difficult time,” the post added, before asking fans to donate to the charity.

A representative for Johansson confirmed the news.

According to entertainment website TMZ, the couple were married in Palisades, New York.

Johansson started dating Jost, a writer and comedian on the sketch show Saturday Night Live, in 2017, after she made a guest appearance on the show’s season finale.

The couple announced their engagement in May 2019.

Johansson is one of the highest-paid actresses in the world – thanks largely to her recurring role as the Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Teenager dies after Wandsworth double stabbing

A teenager has died after suffering knife injuries in a fight involving a number of people in south London.

The boy, believed to be aged 15, and another thought to be the same age, was found near Garratt Lane Burial Ground, Wandsworth, just before 17:00 GMT.

Police said the first victim died in hospital while the second also sustained knife injuries, not thought to be life-threatening.

Two males were arrested following the fight, the Met said.

Officers said one of the suspects was detained on suspicion of grievous bodily harm. He had suffered a head injury that did not require hospital treatment.

The other was arrested on suspicion of affray.

Road closures and an extensive crime scene remain in place.

A Section 60 order, which allows police officers to stop and search anyone in a specific area without needing to have reasonable grounds, has also been authorised for the whole of Wandsworth.

The incident is not being treated as terror-related.

United Airlines to trial airport Covid testing

Testing airline passengers for coronavirus is “the key to reopening the world economy” United Airlines’ boss Scott Kirby has told the BBC.

The airline starting a Covid-19 testing regime on some flights from New York’s Newark airport to London Heathrow.

Mr Scott said it could provide evidence that will convince governments to drop quarantine requirements for travellers.

He said several countries have told United they are interested in using testing to open up their economies.

But these countries “want to make sure everything works” and have said that “health and safety appropriately comes first”, he said.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says demand for international flights is down about 90% compared with last year.

According to IATA’s director-general, Alexandre de Juniac, governments need to “take firm action” to mitigate the economic impact. “The loss of aviation connectivity will have a dramatic impact on global GDP, threatening $1.8 trillion in economic activity,” he said.

United is among the many airlines whose fortunes have declined because of coronavirus. It’s currently losing $25m (£19m) a day. That compares with a $4.3bn profit last year.

A US government support programme for airlines expired at the end of September, since when United has furloughed 13,000 staff, with another 9,000 leaving on a voluntary basis.

Mr Kirby said he hopes more cuts would not be necessary and that he is “hopeful here in the United States at least that after the election something will be done to support aviation”.

That financial difficulty is why the world’s fourth biggest airline is trying to take the initiative in showing that testing can help overcome the fears that have led governments to close borders and impose restrictions on passengers.

From 16 November it is launching a four-week trial of what it says are the world’s first free Covid-19 tests for transatlantic passengers.

Everyone over the age of 2 will be tested on arrival at the airport and held in an airport lounge for the 15-20 minutes it will take to get the results. Anyone who doesn’t want to be tested will be moved to other flights so that the airline can guarantee all those on board have tested negative.

Mr Kirby said he hope that it will eventually mean that “when you fly into London Heathrow you won’t have to quarantine for two weeks”. He said that “if the testing regimes can prove sufficient” governments and health authorities will be able to “have confidence that when people fly in on an airplane they’re Covid-free, and therefore they can get about their business”.

The UK government has been relatively slow to embrace airport testing for coronavirus. This week, Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said Britain was “falling behind” because of that slowness and it was putting jobs at risk.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said he wants to have post-arrivals testing up and running in the UK by 1 December.

When it comes to the risks of contracting coronavirus during a flight, Mr Kirby told the BBC “its almost impossible to get coronavirus once you’re on the airplane” thanks to ventilation systems and other safety measures.

United has worked with the US Department of Defense on a study which claimed the risks were low. Mr Kirby said this research supported his company’s decision not to follow rivals such as Delta Airlines and Jet Blue in limiting the number of passengers to 60% or 70% of an aircraft’s capacity to improve social distancing.

IATA data shows there have been 44 cases of Covid-19 transmission this year that are thought to be linked to a flight, during a period when 1.2 billion passenger journeys have been made.

Mr Kirby said that as more data emerges, the rest of the aviation industry “is catching up to that fact that aviation and an aircraft really is a uniquely safe environment”.

For Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google business is booming

Business is booming for America’s tech giants.

Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google reported sales and profits figures on Thursday covering the three months to 30 September – and there was a common thread: growth shows no sign of slowing.

The cardboard boxes and delivery trucks were an early sign – and now we’ve got more proof: Amazon continues to be one of the biggest winners from the pandemic.

Sales at the internet giant shot to $96.1bn in the three months to 30 September – up 37% from the same period in 2019. And profits hit a record $6.3bn, nearly three times last year’s total.

The rise was driven by its e-commerce business in North America, as families increasingly turned to online shopping. But the company’s advertising and cloud computing business also saw significant gains.

The growth has not come without cost. Amazon said it had $2.5bn in Covid-related expenses and its reputation has also taken a hit, with protests against the firm’s working conditions and other policies.

Facebook, owner of Instagram and WhatsApp, reported a whopping 2.5 billion daily users on average in September across its platforms. That’s up 15% from September a year ago – but only a 3% rise from June, when people stuck-at-home turned to social media, generating a flood of activity.

The company warned that the number of Facebook users even declined in the US and Canada – its most profitable market – and told investors they expected the trend to continue.

Twitter reported a similar story, claiming 187 million daily active users in the July-September quarter, up just 1 million from the prior period.

Amid the shutdowns earlier this year, many businesses cut advertising spending. The move led sales to slow at Facebook and pushed Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube, to its first year-on-year decline in quarterly revenue since becoming a publicly-listed company in 2004.

But spending from those businesses has returned.

At Google, revenue was up 14% year-on-year – far better than analysts had expected, sending the firm’s shares up more than 6% in after-hours trading. Twitter also saw revenue rise 14%, while at Facebook it jumped 22% and the firm said it expected that growth to accelerate.

Apple sales hit $64.7bn, up slightly from a year ago – handily beating most analyst expectations, as sales of laptops and iPads surged.

But shares in the firm sank in after-hours trading anyway, as investors digested a more than 20% drop in iPhone revenue.

The hit was especially evident in Apple’s Greater China region – where it typically generates about 20% of its sales and sales dropped almost 30%.

Apple expressed confidence that buyers were simply holding out for its latest phone, which went on sale later than in prior years.

“Despite the ongoing impacts of Covid-19, Apple is in the midst of our most prolific product introduction period ever, and the early response to all our new products, led by our first 5G-enabled iPhone line-up, has been tremendously positive,” chief executive Tim Cook said.

As is typical, discussions from the companies focused on sales and profits – and not the controversies swirling around them with calls for tougher regulation gaining traction in the US and elsewhere.

In its prepared comments Facebook, stood out with its brief nod to the issue, warning of “headwinds… from the evolving regulatory landscape”.

But the companies’ financial success will only make them more of a target for complaints, warned Paolo Pescatore, analyst at PP Foresight.

“Tech dominance will continue to raise eyebrows given the antitrust concerns,” he said. “There will be further calls from rivals to regulate tech companies.”

Cookham drownings: Man died trying to save friend

A man drowned trying in vain to save his friend who had got into trouble in the River Thames, an inquest heard.

Eyad Al Ryabi, 31, and father-of-five Mohammad Al Safadi, 37, had both been swimming in the river at Cookham, Berkshire, on 23 June.

Reading Coroner’s Court heard Mr Al Ryabi disappeared while trying to save Mr Al Safadi. Mr Al Safadi was pulled from the water but died in hospital.

Assistant coroner Katy Thorne QC recorded their deaths as accidental.

The inquest heard the men, of Syrian background, had travelled with a group of friends to Odney Weir in Mill Lane, where they had a picnic and went swimming.

At about 18:45 BST Mr Al Safedi got into difficulties near the weir. Mr Al Ryabi, from Uxbridge, west London, went back into the water to save his friend but disappeared, prompting a search of the river.

Mr Al Safedi, from Hounslow, west London, was eventually dragged out by members of the public and taken unconscious to hospital.

He died from multiple organ failure on 25 June. Mr Al Ryabi’s body was located by a dive team using sonar equipment the day before.

Giving evidence, police staff investigator Collette Gray told the court a language barrier between police and the men’s friends had made it difficult to establish Mr Al Ryabi was missing.

A cousin of Mr Al Ryabi previously said he was a refugee from south-west Syria who had come to the UK towards the end of 2019 and had hoped his wife and children could join him for a better life in Britain.

Paying tribute, Khald Al Ryabi said: “That’s why he came here. He came here to save his life and his family’s life.”

Ms Thorne concluded the inquest by expressing her “deepest condolences” to the men’s friends and families.

What does the Labour anti-Semitism report say?

Labour has been plagued with allegations of anti-Semitism since 2016, leading to fractious rows within the party.

In May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced it would be investigating the party over its handling of the claims.

On Thursday, the long-awaited report was published.

But what did the report say?

The watchdog said its analysis “points to a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it”.

The interim chair of the EHRC, Caroline Waters, released a statement alongside the report, saying the investigation had “highlighted multiple areas” where the party’s “approach and leadership to tackling anti-Semitism was insufficient”.

“This is inexcusable,” she added, “and appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle anti-Semitism rather than an inability to do so.”

But what about the law?

Here, the EHRC found Labour responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act: political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints and harassment, including the use of anti-Semitic tropes and suggesting that complaints of anti-Semitism were fake or smears.

The first breach was of political interference by the leader’s office – led, at the time, by Jeremy Corbyn – when dealing with complaints of anti-Semitism.

The investigation found evidence of 23 instances of “inappropriate involvement” by Mr Corbyn’s office out of the 70 files it looked at.

This included staff influencing decisions on suspensions or whether to investigate a claim.

One incident reportedly saw the party leader’s staff advising a complaint against Mr Corbyn himself – for allegedly supporting an anti-Semitic mural – should be dismissed.

Some decisions, said the watchdog, were also made because of “likely press interest rather than any formal criteria”, and the party “adopted a practice of political interference”, making the EHRC believe it occurred more regularly in anti-Semitism cases.

This, it said, was “indirectly discriminatory and unlawful” and put the person making the complaint at a disadvantage.

The next breach the EHRC found was around the party’s complaints process and training in handling complaints.

The investigation found the system to be “inconsistent and lacking in transparency”.

One example was the email inbox for complaints, which had been “largely left unmonitored for a number of years”, with “no action taken on the majority of complaints forwarded to it”.

And of those 70 files the watchdog looked at, 62 of them had records missing.

The report did say there had been recent improvements to the procedures, but the system was still “under-resourced and those responsible for it are not trained to the necessary standard” – contributing to “a lack of trust and confidence”.

The EHRC added: “We find that this failure indirectly discriminated against Jewish Labour Party members up until August 2020.

“The Labour Party has now formally committed to provide proper training for those handling anti-Semitism complaints and we recommend that this should be mandatory and fully implemented within the next six months.”

The final breach of the law concerned harassment.

The report said Labour was responsible for two cases of unlawful harassment, where anti-Semitic tropes were used and complaints about them were branded as fake or smears.

The EHRC named former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and a local councillor, Pam Bromley, but said these two cases were “only the tip of the iceberg”, and a further 18 borderline cases were found.

Mr Livingstone later released a statement, he was “deeply hurt” by the accusations and “fully rejects” them, calling himself a “life-long anti-racist”.

The report called the party to “instil a culture that encourages members to challenge inappropriate behaviour and to report anti-Semitism complaints”.

The watchdog concluded its report with a list of recommendations for the party.

They including setting up an independent complaints process, and ensuring it was audited.

It also said Labour needed to acknowledge the political interference that had already taken place and set out clear guidance to stop it happening again.

The EHRC served the party with an unlawful act notice, which gives them until 10 December to draft an action plan to implement the recommendations.

If Labour fails to do so, it is legally enforceable by a court.

Ms Waters said the new leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, had committed to implementing the recommendations in full, which was “encouraging”.

But, she added: “If the party truly wants to rebuild trust with its members and the Jewish community, it must acknowledge the impact that numerous investigations and years of failure to tackle anti-Semitism has had on Jewish people, and take swift, sincere action to improve.”

And the chair of the EHRC gave one final warning to all political parties.

“Politicians on all sides have a responsibility to set standards for our public life and to lead the way in challenging racism in all its forms,” she said.

“There have been recent examples of behaviour from politicians of various parties that fall well below the standards we would expect.

“While freedom of expression is essential to proper political debate, politicians must recognise the power of their language to sow division.

“Our recommendations provide a foundation for leaders to make sure that they adhere to equality law and demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion through their words and actions.”

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