The fifth day of the festival, which ends on 26 May with awards selected by a jury, headed by Steven Spielberg
WikiLeaks founder uses subject access request to access British agency chatter, which allegedly calls extradition 'a fit-up'
Authorities at GCHQ, the government eavesdropping agency, are facing embarrassing revelations about internal correspondence in which Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is discussed, apparently including speculation that he is being framed by Swedish authorities seeking his extradition on rape allegations.
The records were revealed by Assange himself in a Sunday night interview with Spanish television programme Salvados in which he explained that an official request for information gave him access to instant messages that remained unclassified by GCHQ.
A message from September 2012, read out by Assange, apparently says: "They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate."
The messages appear to contain speculation and chatter between GCHQ employees, but Assange gave little further explanation about exactly who they came from.
The WikiLeaks founder, who has spent the past 11 months in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden, claimed GCHQ had been unaware that it might have anything on him that was not classified.
"It won't hand over any of the classified information," he said. "But, much to its surprise, it has some unclassified information on us."
"We have just received this. It is not public yet," he added.
A second instant message conversation from August last year between two unknown people saw them call Assange a fool for thinking Sweden would drop its attempt to extradite him.
The conversation, as read out by Assange, goes: "He reckons he will stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for six to 12 months when the charges against him will be dropped, but that is not really how it works now is it? He's a fool… Yeah … A highly optimistic fool."
"This is what the spies are discussing amongst themselves," Assange told the Spanish television presenter Jordi Evolé.
The Cheltenham-based agency said: "We can confirm that GCHQ responded formally to the subject who made the request. The disclosed material includes personal comments between some members of staff and do not reflect GCHQ's policies or views in any way.
GCHQ is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. However, it is understood that Assange's request was a subject access request, a mechanism under the Data Protection Act that can be used by individuals to obtain personal information that bodies hold about them.
On its website, the agency says : "As one of the UK's intelligence and security agencies, we gather and analyse digital and electronic signals from many channels, from all corners of the world".
"Converting this information into intelligence material, we play a significant role in informing national security, military operations, police activity and foreign policy."
Pair of agents from elite hostage rescue team described as 'brave and courageous men' by Robert Mueller
Two FBI special agents on the agency's elite hostage rescue team have been killed in a training accident in Virginia.
The FBI's national press office said the accident happened off the coast of Virginia Beach on Friday. No other details were given and the cause is under investigation.
The special agents were identified as 41-year-old Christopher Lorek and 40-year-old Stephen Shaw,
FBI director Robert Mueller said: "We mourn the loss of two brave and courageous men … our hearts are with their wives, children and other loved ones who feel their loss most deeply."
The hostage rescue team is part of the critical incident response group based at Quantico in northern Virginia.
More than 17,000 dogs from 70 countries took part in this year's show, which finished on Sunday
Tory rebellion on amendment to grant civil partnerships to heterosexual couples will 'cost £4bn and take two years'
Downing Street issued a stark warning that the bill to legalise gay marriage will run into grave trouble – and cost the taxpayer an extra £4bn – if the Labour party joins forces with Tory opponents to vote in favour of granting civil partnerships to heterosexual couples.
As David Cameron was accused by the Conservative Grassroots group of showing "utter contempt" for party activists by pressing ahead with plans to equalise marriage, Labour sources voiced fears that No 10 appeared to be trying to find ways of killing the bill.
The row erupted as No 10 braced itself for a loss of face as up to 150 Tory MPs prepare to show their opposition to the prime minister during a series of votes when the marriage (same sex couples) bill reaches its report stage in the Commons today.
At least two cabinet ministers – the environment secretary Owen Paterson and the Wales secretary David Jones – are prepared to vote for a series of amendments that would grant exemptions to teachers and registrars.
Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, and John Hayes, the prime minister's unofficial envoy to the Tory right, may also side with opponents of the bill during a series of votes, which are "free" – allowing MPs to vote with their consciences.
The government warned of three dangers to the bill if an amendment to grant civil partnerships to heterosexual couples is passed. It is being tabled by the former children's minister Tim Loughton who opposes gay marriage. A government source said the Loughton amendment would:
• Come with a price tag of £4bn. Steve Webb, the pensions minister, told parliament's joint committee on human rights last week that the state would be liable for new "survivors'" pension rights.
• Delay the introduction of the entire bill by 18 to 24 months because the government would need to work on the joint implementation of new rights for gay married couples and heterosexual couples in new civil partnerships.
• Complicate the government's argument that the changes are about strengthening the institution of marriage by opening it to all couples. "If you open up civil partnerships to opposite sex couples then the institution of marriage will be weakened," one government source said. "The church will not be happy about that."
Government sources said the warnings were aimed at Ed Miliband, Labour's leader, whose support for the amendment will be decisive. One source said: "Ed Miliband clearly wants to make political capital here. Perhaps he should think of the consequences."
But Labour rejected what it called the "farcical" warnings, as sources noted that the supposed size of the "price tag" had grown from £3bn to £4bn in five days. One source said: "They are wrecking this bill themselves and trying to blame others."
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary and shadow equalities minister, who has been negotiating with the equalities minister Maria Miller, told Sky News: "I think it's a real problem if this gets lost in the vortex of the Tory infighting that we had over the last couple of weeks when actually it's a really positive bill that we should all want to celebrate."
Loughton accused the government of scaremongering after issuing its warnings about the dangers posed by his amendment. The former minister told the Guardian: "This scaremongering just won't wash. The government has come up with a lot of desperate last-minute excuses as to why giving full equality of civil partnerships will not work. This is what comes when you try to redefine marriage without having thought through the consequences. One of those consequences is that the majority of the population and MPs clearly want equality for civil partnerships. The government bill, as it stands, will deny them that equality. So they need urgently to do the work to make it happen." Last night Loughton tweeted: "£4bn is back of fag packet scaremongering particularly if Govt doubt straight couples want civil partnership."
The anger over the bill was highlighted when 35 current and former heads of Tory associations delivered a letter to No 10 lambasting Cameron. They wrote: "Your proposal to redefine marriage is flawed, un-Conservative, divisive and costing us dearly in votes and membership.
"You have failed to listen and respond in an appropriate manner to the concerns of loyal grassroots members...This utter contempt for ordinary people has led to a mass exodus of members and mass loss of supporters."The PM came under fire from another wing of the party when Lord Howe of Aberavon, the former chancellor, warned he appeared to be "losing control of his party". In an Observer article Howe wrote: "If the Conservative party is losing its head, a heavy responsibility now rests with Labour and the Liberal Democrats to hold their nerve."
Sir Richard Branson on Monday joins a group of 19 business leaders describing the economic case for British membership of the EU as "overwhelming". In a letter to the Independent, they write: "The benefits of membership overwhelmingly outweigh the costs, and to suggest otherwise is putting politics before economics."
By hook or by crook, Taiwan is winning greater regional influence under a leader criticised at home as being too pro-Chinese
It started with a common enough skirmish in the hotly disputed waters of the South China Sea. Ten days ago, a Philippine coast guard ship went too far in chasing off a Taiwanese fishing vessel in disputed waters. Such actions involve water cannons and the damage is nothing worse than a few broken portholes. This time the coast guard ship loosed off 54 rounds into the side of the Taiwanese boat and killed a fisherman. The Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation launched an inquiry. A spokesmen for President Benigno S Aquino III said that a representative would convey "deep regret and apology" to the family of the dead fisherman. But all of this fell short of an official apology.
Taiwan was having none of it. It gave Manila 72 hours to apologise, failing which it would withdraw its representative and end the visa regime for Filipino workers. All of which it has now done, throwing in a two-day military drill in the channel which divides the two countries, for good measure. On Friday, the Philippine envoy to Taiwan advised Filipino workers there to avoid the streets, as emotions are running high. Then came the second surprise: China applauded. The dispute has been running high on the evening news. Commentators have denounced the Philippines and applauded Taiwan's resolute response.
To receive Beijing's approbation is something of a novelty for Taiwan. Cross-strait relations may be at their warmest for 60 years, (there are now more scheduled flights from Taipei to cities on the mainland than there are from Hong Kong), but even so. Any time Taiwan acts independently in the international arena, Beijing reverts to the orthodoxy of its One China policy. When Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, reached a pragmatic fishing deal with Japan, which might defuse the tension around the disputed islands which Japan calls the Senkakus and Taiwan knows as the Diaoyutai, China expressed its wrath – but all of it was pointed at Japan, rather than Taipei.
The fishing deal could be used as a template for other disputes. It side-steps the sovereignty debate by establishing a large area around the islands – 74,300 sq km, or twice the size of Taiwan itself – as a jointly managed fishing ground. Japan maintains its territorial waters around the islands, which Taiwanese fishermen cannot enter. But they get in return an area far beyond the 200 miles they once claimed as their exclusive economic zone. These talks have been brewing a long time. There have been 16 rounds of negotiation since 1996. The 17th may have finally been clinched by China's recent naval assertiveness, about which both Japan and Taiwan are wary. By hook or by crook, Taiwan is winning for itself greater regional influence under a leader criticised at home as being too pro-Chinese.
NYPD police chief Ray Kelly says fatal shooting of Marc Carson, 32, could be linked to a string of other anti-gay attacks
The fatal shooting of a gay man just blocks from New York's historic Stonewall Inn was a hate crime and could be linked to a rash of recent homophobic attacks, police said.
Before opening fire early Saturday, the gunman confronted the victim and his companion in Greenwich Village, yelling: "What are you, gay wrestlers?". The suspect then asked if the pair "want to die here" before shooting victim Marc Carson in the face.
Carson, 32, was taken to hospital but died of his wounds. The gunman, identified as 33-year-old Elliot Morales, fled but was chased by officers and arrested. Morales appeared on Sunday in Manhattan criminal court and was charged with murder as a hate crime and with criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.
The incident follows a series of recent hate attacks on gay men in New York, but this was the first deadly one. NYPD chief Ray Kelly said police were looking into possible links between Saturday morning's killing and other incidents.
The shooting took place in Greenwich Village, a neighbourhoods long-associated with the gay-rights movement.
It took place just streets from the Stonewall Inn – the site of a celebrated 1969 riot by patrons being harassed by police due to their sexuality. That riot is seen as a key moment in the evolution of the modern gay-rights movement.
About 15 minutes before the shooting, the gunman in Saturday's attack was seen urinating outside an upscale restaurant in Greenwich Village.
He went inside the restaurant and asked if someone was going to call the police about him. Morales told both the bartender and the manager: "If you do call the police, I'll shoot you" and opened his sweatshirt to reveal a shoulder holster with a revolver. He also made anti-gay remarks, Kelly said at a press conference Saturday.
Minutes later, the gunman and two others approached Carson, who was with a companion. One of the three men yelled out: "What are you, gay wrestlers?" according to Kelly.
The two men stopped, turned and, according to Kelly, replied "What did you say?" before continuing walking.
"There were no words that would aggravate the situation spoken by the victims here," the commissioner said. "This fully looks to be a hate crime, a bias crime."
Witnesses saw Morlaes and another man approach the victim from behind while repeating anti-gay slurs.
Kelly said: "We believe that the perpetrator says to the victim, 'Do you want to die here?'" before producing the revolver and firing one shot into Carson's cheek.
The gunman ran off but was caught a few streets down by an officer who had heard a description of the assailant on his radio, Kelly said.
Authorities said they could not immediately identify Morales because he was carrying forged identification. But investigators learned his name after the forged ID was submitted to the department's Facial Recognition Unit.
According to the New York Times, the suspect has previously served more than 10 years in jail for robbery.
The incident is the latest in a string of homophobic attacks in New York. Last week, also in Greenwich Village, a 35-year-old man was beaten up after leaving a bar. He told police the attacker used anti-gay slurs.
Meanwhile in May, a brace of separate incidents saw two couples in midtown Manhattan beaten up by groups of men in attacks in what is thought to have been anti-gay attacks.
Responding to the latest incident, Christine Quinn, the New York City Council speaker who is bidding to be the city's first gay mayor, said that the city had moved on from the timw when same-sex couples could not walk down the street arm-in-arm without fear of harassment.
"We refuse to go back to that time," she said, adding: "This kind of shocking and senseless violence, so deeply rooted in hate, has no place in a city whose greatest strength will always be its diversity."
Beset by scandal at home and abroad, Obama's only luck has been in his opponents' tin ear for the public mood
The thing people often forget about the story of the boy who cried wolf was that, at the end of the day, there was a wolf. For the past six years – since Barack Obama announced his presidential intentions – Republicans have been crying themselves hoarse. Obama, if they were to be believed, was a Kenyan-born communist Muslim with a forged birth certificate who stole the election by registering millions of ineligible voters.
"A lot of information about Obama's background is missing," said Abigail Billings, at a meeting of a 9-12 group (organised by the conservative former Fox host Glenn Beck) at a non-alcoholic bar in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2009. "The media in America is not doing any research. They're not asking any questions. They're not reporting any longer. They're now opinionated talk shows. They're no longer offering factual news coverage." Billings, like the 16 others gathered that evening, watched Fox News. A quick poll revealed that seven thought Obama was a Muslim, 10 believed he was a communist, and none thought he was born in the US. Such claims were so patently ridiculous and so easily disproven that few beyond the right, substantial in size but insulated in range, paid them much attention.
But over the past fortnight wolves have been out in force. The Obama administration is beset by scandals, of varying magnitudes, that would give conspiracists good reason to be paranoid. First came evidence that the state department deliberately downplayed the involvement of al-Qaida in the attacks on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that left four dead, including the ambassador. Then came the revelation that the tax collection agency, the Independent Revenue Service, subjected Tea Party and other Conservative groups (including 9-12) to special scrutiny over their tax-exempt status. Finally, it transpired that the justice department, looking for a leaker on an issue of "national security", obtained two months of telephone records of journalists at the Associated Press.
Conservatives can't believe their luck. They wait six years for an actual wolf and then three show up all at once. Amid gratuitous speculation they are comparing Obama to Nixon and calling for his impeachment. "What we don't know, at this point," says Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority Senate leader, "is whether it jumped the fence from the IRS to the White House." "My question," said Republican house leader John Boehner of the IRS story, "is who's going to jail?"
Some liberals are playing down the brouhaha. After six months of hyperventilating about Benghazi, all the Republicans have really uncovered is a turf war between the state department and the CIA. There is no evidence that what happened at the IRS was politically motivated, and everything to suggest the agency is incompetent and understaffed. (Nobody is playing down the justice department story.) There is no indication that Obama had anything to do with any of them – beyond appointing the people who hired the people involved. His approval ratings have not dipped and, according to Gallup, people are paying far less attention to these stories than they do to news stories generally.
There is something to these arguments. Yet they miss the bigger point and, in so doing, downplay the potential damage. There was nothing to Whitewater (the probe into the Clintons' failed real estate investment) either. But that didn't prevent the appointment of a special prosecutor into the affair, who would eventually find Monica Lewinsky.
The public's lack of interest also means little. Nixon was re-elected with a whopping majority while Watergate was unravelling on the inside pages. Once these balls start rolling there is no saying where they will end up. Moreover, if Bush were in the White House, targeting antiwar groups, journalists and leakers, the very people making these rationalisations would never accept them.
The problems for Obama are twofold. First, each scandal, in its own way, has meaning beyond itself. Accusations about him being a communist, Kenyan-born Muslim did not resonate beyond those who wished to believe them in the first place because they didn't fit with anything most people knew, saw or heard of Obama. There was no market for their plausibility. These are different. Almost every substantial political discussion since his first election – be it about healthcare, the economy, taxation, guns, immigration or drone strikes and kill lists – has, at its root, been a debate about either the size, competency, secrecy, efficiency or intrusiveness of government. Together, these incidents illustrate precisely those issues, creating a framework of credibility for broad assaults on the legitimacy of government. Public trust in government is already at historic lows. This won't do it any good.
Second, while comparisons to Nixon are wide of the mark, things are beginning to look wearily familiar. It is about this time in a second term that administrations display the malaise of having been in office long enough for that mixture of paperwork, arse-covering bureaucracy and hubris to come to light. Obama was only re-elected six months ago, but this is the first sign of lame duck disease. From now until 2016 will be hearings, inquiries, firings, depositions and subpoenas aplenty. Obama insists there is plenty he still wants to do, but he'll spend a large amount of his time dealing with this.
Already a third of the Republican-controlled house are investigating the White House. At least one influential conservative lobbying firm, Heritage Action, has told the Republicans they should prioritise these scandals over any legislation that might divide them. "As the public's trust in their government continues to erode," wrote its head, "it is incumbent upon those of us who support a smaller, less intrusive government to lead."
At a New York fundraiser last week Obama said of the Republicans: "My thinking was that after we beat them in 2012, well, that might break the fever." Instead they fed it, leaving the right in a state of delirium. Herein lies Obama's greatest gift – overzealous detractors with a tin ear for the public mood. In the hearings that have taken place so far Republicans have overplayed their hand: skipping from presumption to assumption to accusation unencumbered by facts, logic or proportion. Each time the potential for building public and political support on the matter concerned arises, they squander it for partisan gain. The only luck Obama seems to have had in recent weeks is in his opponents.
The accusation that China "restricts" press and artistic freedom (Letters, 3 May) is untrue and unacceptable. The constitution of the People's Republic of China explicitly enshrines Chinese citizens' right to freedom of expression and press in its article 35. The Chinese government attaches great importance to and protects such rights in accordance with law. China now publishes 1,937 newspapers, 9,851 journals, 302,000 kinds of books, and owns over 500 radio and TV broadcasters. China also boasts the world's biggest and most dynamic online community. Sina Weibo alone has more than 500 million registered users, posting 100m comments every day that cover wide-ranging topics and opinions.
Moreover, cultural undertakings in China are experiencing rapid development and great prosperity. Across the country there are over 200,000 performers and nearly 7,000 troupes. China overtook Japan as the second largest film market after the US last year. Only with a free and unbridled environment can China maintain such development in its media and publishing industry. Only against a diverse and flourishing cultural backdrop can outstanding artists such as Nobel laureate Mo Yan come to prominence.
But while China firmly upholds the rule of law, all must abide by the constitution and law. I believe this is also true in the countries where the petitioning artists come from. We hope that those artists respect the legal system of China as well as that of their own countries. They should understand China's press and cultural development in an objective and all-around way and change their untrue and biased views.
Chinese embassy, London
Bob Crow is correct to label the European Union as a free-market straightjacket increasing misery for the continent's majority (Exit Europe from the left, 18 May), but he is mistaken to imagine we can improve matters by leaving. Should we do so we will then be out in the cold and easily picked off by big business and finance demanding lower wages in order for the UK to receive investment or prevent relocation.
Instead, the answer has to be to align the public anger about austerity and businesses anxiety about declining effective demand with an alternative end goal for the EU. Its present emphasis on the free movement of goods, money and people is rarely recognised as being the cause of the present crisis. It allowed, for example, German banks to lend to Greeks to import German cars they couldn't afford – and then the resulting national debts were dealt with by austerity. Meanwhile, the increasing migration of EU citizens caused by the inability of countries to control their borders under the single market is increasing tensions across the continent.
It's time that trade unionists, activists and lateral-thinking politicians developed cooperative polices to protect and rebuild Europe's local economies. Such "progressive protectionism" will have two huge advantages. Its rejection of the open market and the fantasy of ever-growing export-led growth will get us out from under the illogical fantasy that everyone can export their way out of economic trouble, while ridding us of the need for Europe's last colonial delusion – that we can out-compete the low-wage economies of China and the rest of Asia.
Most importantly from Bob Crow and other trade unionists' point of view, it will also rob international business of its ability to continue forcing a lower wage economy on the EU by rendering impotent their threats to relocate, since leaving Europe would mean them facing punishing barriers to its huge market.
Author, Progressive Protectionism (forthcoming)
• The notion expressed by your correspondents (Letters, 17 May) that sweatshop workers could be helped by a voluntary fair trade premium from western consumers is ill-advised. The responsibility for workers' abysmal conditions lies predominantly with multinational retail chains who use their purchasing power to drive down the price they pay for the garments produced. Despite the crocodile tears of Primark executives after the factory collapse in Dhaka, these enterprises are completely amoral and the only reason for their existence is to maximise revenue for shareholders.
Until such a time as the concept of limited liability is abolished and the profit motive is diluted, there will be little change in corporate behaviour. Consequently, transnational companies should be made liable for what happens at the end of their supply chains. However, at a time when the government is hell-bent on removing protection for domestic workers, never mind those toiling down the supply chain, the chances of such radical changes even being considered are slim. Nevertheless, that should not stop us taking action to support trade union colleagues in the south and campaigning to highlight the appalling behaviour of corporations in the north with a view to affecting their bottom line which, for them, is the only thing that matters.
International Officer, GMB
• We are disturbed that David Cameron, co-chairing the UN high level panel on post-2015 development, is blocking efforts to focus on inequality (Report, May 15). Economic research shows that smaller income differences lead to more sustained economic growth and catalyse disproportionately large reductions in poverty. We have a unique opportunity to get inequality rooted in the way we "do" development – how we talk about it and measure it. That's why we, with 90 academics, economists and development experts, asked the high level panel to put strategies to reduce inequality at the heart of the new framework (full text and signatories at: http://tinyurl.com/bsdqpm2. Most key actors on the development stage now understand the evidence. Why does Cameron think he knows better? In 2009 he said: "We all know, in our hearts, that as long as there is deep poverty living systematically side by side with great riches, we all remain the poorer for it". We challenge him to match words with action.
Professor Kate Pickett
Emeritus professor Richard Wilkinson