The Duke of York has been sacked, but he is unlikely to show up in the UKs unemployment figures, says Guardian columnist Marina Hyde
In a development that only someone of his preternatural self-awareness can have seen coming, Prince Andrews family has decided he needs to spend less time with their brand. To put that into perspective, the Duke of York is widely agreed to have done his job so abysmally that a hereditary monarchy has had to resort to a version of meritocracy. The absolute infra dig of it.
The Queens second son was summoned to a Buckingham Palace meeting on Wednesday, where it was revealed the Windsors were reducing the head count/making internal efficiencies/pivoting to video. People love to imagine the royal family is just like us, so this was just your standard meeting with your mother in which youre decruited and offered the chance to retrain as someone who does even less work for a dazzling fortune. A lottery winner, perhaps, or bitcoin thief.
We dont know exactly what Her Majesty said to Andrew, but as a piece of placeholder dialogue, its probably best to imagine the Queen demanding his gun and badge, then barking: Youre on traffic duty! Sex traffic duty. Its a perverse kind of duty then again, it appears to have been that way for a few decades now but please resist the natural urge to see Prince Andrew as the true victim here. He is expected to pick up a zero-hours international golfing contract and consequently will not show up in Britains coercively massaged unemployment statistics.
So yes, we must wait for those ventriloquisers at The Crown to get around to the full dramatisation a few series from now. The bad news is their failure to have bought in early to the character of Prince Andrew, a role they will undoubtedly need to cast in light of events. The good news is they can probably now get actual Prince Andrew to play it, given his revised schedule has more windows than Buckingham Palace.
Still, retiring in your 50s, having enjoyed a consequence-free career: if HRH does ever end up being interviewed by the police, hell have some common ground with them. Some think a subpoena is a gathering possibility, with the former British consul-general in New York questioning Andrews claim to have stayed with him and not Jeffrey Epstein in 2001, on one of the occasions Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges she was trafficked to have sex with him. Meanwhile, lawyers for some of Epsteins victims are making repeated appearances on US TV to emphasise his legal and moral duty to be interviewed by the FBI about what he knows.
Not that the Duke of York ever seems to have realised how good he had it. Back in August, an email emerged contemporaneous to Andrews highly controversial 2010 stay at Epsteins New York mansion in which the literary agent John Brockman described being in the room as Epstein and Andrew received foot massages from two young, well-dressed Russian women. According to Brockman, Andrew was complaining about his lot. In Monaco, he said, [Prince] Albert works 12 hours a day but at 9pm, when he goes out, he does whatever he wants, and nobody cares. But if I do it, Im in big trouble.
Though not recalled by Andrew, this vignette reminds us that its customary for royals to spend a significant amount of time being jealous of other royals who have it cushier than them. Prince Charles, for instance, has long resented Prince Andrews lifestyle-to-duty ratio. Meanwhile, Prince Harry is believed to resent Prince William for not being caught by the media in the same number of youthful japes/Nazi costumes/racist videos as he was. And so on and so on because theres always a prince or princess who has it better than you. Violin sizes may vary. Informed royal sources suggest that while it was the Queen who formally removed Andrew from public duties, it was Charles the shadow king pulling the strings. The P45 is unlikely to have pained Andrews elder brother too much.
It felt inevitable by Wednesday in any case, despite various hints of rearguard actions as the fallout from the Newsnight interview mushroomed this week. My favourite was the suggestion that the prince could do another interview, to put right the omissions of the first. And in one sense, why not? God knows, there were other places he could have gone claiming to have caught porphyria from a sofa once owned by George III, for instance, or to have been chemically castrated in Nam. Then again, the interview-to-correct-the-interview does vaguely remind me of that answerphone scene in the movie Swingers. Having left a weird, desperate message on a womans answerphone, Jon Favreaus character leaves another to make up for it, which ends up being even more horrendous and excruciating. So he leaves another, and another, until the woman suddenly picks up the phone as hes leaving one and says: Dont ever call me again. This, but with landmark TV interviews drawing a line under stories about your close association with an international child sex offender.
And it really was a landmark, even accounting for the fact that, since George I, this has been a family widely recognised for its lack of intelligence. One of the sensational real-time revelations of the Emily Maitlis masterpiece was the fact that Prince Edward must have been the clever one. Prince Andrew was fully scores of IQ points away from being bright enough to pull his gambit off, yet retained a mesmerisingly misplaced faith in his own charm.
How? He and his far-from-estranged ex-wife were always a pair of rolling liabilities, with Fergies decades of financial incontinence a worthy foe for even the royal familys vast coffers. Incredibly and yet entirely credibly she was in Saudi Arabia at Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmans summit at the moment he was recording his BBC interview. Everyone has been so nice here in Riyadh, she gushed, presumably lucratively. I think that comes from good leadership. What can you say? Other than never mind the bonesaws; and that there are few people in public life who have provided such a consistently baroque series of answers as the Yorks to the rhetorical question, How stupid do you actually have to be ?
On balance, then, we probably wont be seeing another Prince Andrew interview. It wasnt simply bad. It was the Heavens Gate of royal interviews, basically killing the entire genre. Nobody ever made westerns like they used to after Heavens Gate, and nobody in the royal family is going to be giving carte blanche to a BBC interviewer again in a hurry.
But the more famous thing about Heavens Gate, of course, wasnt that it ended westerns but that it ended its studio. Michael Ciminos monster flop effectively collapsed the entire studio that produced it, United Artists and the question after Andrews interview is how dangerous his monster flop is to the royal family that produced him. In the warp and weft of the UKs royal story, people are always looking for the incident about which they will end up saying: Well, in retrospect, that was the moment Some royal historians are already judging Andrews interview as seismically as Edward VIIIs abdication.
Maybe. Either way, it should always be remembered that the abdication crisis was hugely enjoyed by the public. As Evelyn Waugh remarked in a 1936 diary entry: The Simpson crisis has been a great delight to everyone. At Maidies nursing home they report a pronounced turn for the better in all adult patients. There can seldom have been an event that has caused so much general delight and so little pain.
Of course, events relating to Andrews crisis have been very far from painless despite his stunning failure to mention Epsteins victims. But it has certainly felt like a unifying moment for a divided nation, and that is surely worrying for the royal family. A YouGov poll found a mere 6% of people thought Andrew was telling the truth. This week it has been hard to escape the distinct impression that people from all sides of various divides have come together to agree the prince was a true wrong un. And then to wake up the next morning and think: I am biologically incapable of sweating because I ODed on adrenaline in the Falklands.
So it remains to be seen if this unprecedented Buckingham Palace containment strategy will work. What can be said with some confidence is that Prince Charless forthcoming reign has long felt like a coach crash waiting to happen, and that this grotesque drama feeds into that. Along with David Attenborough, also 93, the Queen is perhaps the last consented-to link with the postwar consensus. Aprs her, the essential personnel are a complete shower.
This week, we caught a glimpse of the Windsors potential exposure when the Queen departs the earthly realm. Members of the royal family are not too big to fail any more. That feels of a piece with our deeply fractured nation, in which so many institutions have revealed themselves as no longer up to the job. Shortly after the EU referendum, a French diplomat likened the British government to a cartoon character that has run off a cliff but not yet realised it: Theyre in the air now, but at some point theyre going to look down and fall. Those words ring uncomfortably true for much beyond government on this septic isle. All sorts of jigs are up, all at once, for a post-imperial country that has been running on its own fumes for decades. Things go along much as before, until seemingly abruptly, but not really they dont. What now for it all? I cant help thinking of that great bit of Hemingway dialogue from The Sun Also Rises. How did you go bankrupt? Two ways, comes the reply. Gradually and then suddenly.
Atlanta (CNN Business)A US computer researcher appeared in federal court in Los Angeles on Monday, accused of advising North Korea how to use cryptocurrency to avoid sanctions, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
Griffith is a research scientist for the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss-based cryptocurrency platform. In a statement, Ethereum told CNN Business it did not approve or support Griffith’s travel to North Korea.
Griffith is accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by traveling to North Korea “in order deliver a presentation and technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions,” according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
In a statement to CNN Business after the Monday hearing, Griffith’s attorney said his client has been released from jail pending trial.
“We dispute the untested allegations in the criminal complaint,” attorney Brian Klein told CNN Business. “Virgil looks forward to his day in court, when the full story can come out.”
The technology behind cryptocurrencies, known as blockchain, is a digital ledger and record made up of a list of transactions. The blockchain is powered by a decentralized network of computers that work on the same task.
Data cannot be easily changed or deleted, helping to avoid fraud. Since it’s a permanent record, and because the ledger is held by many entities, it’s nearly impossible to hack.
The IEEPA prohibits US citizens from exporting goods, services or technology to other countries without a license from the Department of Treasury. North Korea is specifically mentioned as a threat in executive orders.
The US Attorney’s Office alleges that Griffith traveled to North Korea through China in April to attend the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference without approval of Treasury and despite being denied permission by the US State Department to travel to the country.
“We cannot allow anyone to evade sanctions, because the consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in the news release.
“It’s even more egregious that a US citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary.”
During Griffith’s presentation, called “Blockchain and Peace,” at the cryptocurrency conference, he discussed how blockchain technology could benefit North Korea, according to the criminal complaint.
After the conference, he “began formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency” between North and South Korea knowing that his assistance would violate sanctions against North Korea, the complaint said.
He also announced his intention to renounce his US citizenship and encouraged other US citizens to travel to North Korea, the complaint states.
If convicted of violating the IEEPA, Griffith faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, the US Attorney’s office said.
— CNN’s Laura Ly, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.
The multi-asset investment platform eToro, which spans “social” stock trading to cryptocurrency, has acquired Delta, the crypto portfolio tracker app.
Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although one source tells me the deal was worth $5 million. It is not clear if it is stock only or cash (or a mixture of both) and if it is contingent on any future targets being met.
The Delta app helps investors make better decisions regarding their crypto investments by providing tools such as portfolio tracking and pricing data. It very much fits with the evolution of eToro, which not only wants to “own” the commission-free stocks (and ETF) space, but has also ventured ambitiously into crypto — most recently bringing crypto asset trading to the U.S.
Delta’s crypto portfolio tracker app has support for more than 6,000 crypto assets from more than 180 exchanges. It provides investors with a range of tools to track and analyse their crypto portfolios. To date, Delta says it has seen 1.5 million downloads and has “hundreds of thousands” of active monthly users.
The acquisition sees Delta become part of the eToro Group, while the Delta team led by Nicolas Van Hoorde will become part of eToroX, reporting to Doron Rosenblum. “The team will continue to be based in Belgium, working in close collaboration with eToro and eToroX employees across the globe,” says eToro.
Meanwhile, eToro is talking up the fact that it is a regulated platform where you can hold crypto and traditional assets in the same portfolio. The idea with the Delta acquisition is to extend that so you’ll be able to track all your investments in once place, starting with crypto and eventually multi-asset. In addition, you’ll be able to trade from the app via eToroX, eToro’s own crypto exchange.
“At a time when other fintechs state that they are not even targeting profitability, we are proud to be a well funded, profitable business that is growing both in terms of geographical coverage but also product range,” says Yoni Assia, co-founder and CEO of eToro, in a statement.
“We are a trading and investing platform that not only provides clients with access to the assets they want, from commission free stocks and ETFs through to FX, commodities and cryptoassets, but also lets customers choose how they invest. They can trade directly, copy another trader or invest in a portfolio. We believe in empowering our clients and the acquisition of Delta will allow us to add an important new element to our offering.”
Brave, the company co-founded by ex-Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after his ouster from the organization in 2014, today launched version 1.0 of its browser for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. In a browser market where users are spoiled for choice, Brave is positioning itself as a fast option that preserves users’ privacy with strong default settings, as well as a crypto currency-centric private ads and payment platform that allows users to reward content creators.
As the company announced last month, it now has about 8 million monthly active users. Its Brave Rewards program, which requires opt-in from users and publishers, currently has about 300,000 publishers on board. Most of these are users with small followings on YouTube and Twitter, but large publishers like Wikipedia, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate and the LA Times are also part of the ecosystem. Using this system, which not every publisher is going to like, the browser will show a small number of ads as a notification in a separate private ad tab, based on the user’s browsing habits. Users then receive 70% of what the advertisers spend on ads, while Brave keeps 30%.
As users view these ads, they start earning Basic Attention Tokens (BAT), Brave’s cryptocurrency, which they can keep or give to publishers. In its early days, Brave actually started with Bitcoin as the currency for this, but as Eich noted, that quickly became too expensive (and because the price was going up, users wanted to hold on to the Bitcoin instead of donating it).
Brave also comes with a built-in ad blocker that is probably among the most effective in the industry, as well as extensive anti-tracking features. “Everybody’s bothered by the sense of being tracked and bothered by bad ads,” Eich told me. “But I think ad aesthetics are not the problem. It’s the tracking and the cost of tracking which is multifarious. There’s page load time, running the radio to load the tracking scripts that load the other scripts that load the scripts that load the ads, that drains your battery, too.” Eich argues that with Brave, the team found a way to tie this all together with anti-tracking technology and an approach to ad blocking that goes beyond the industry-standard blocklists and also uses machine learning to identify additional rules for blocking.
For those users that really want to be anonymous on the web, Brave also features a private browsing mode, just like every other browser, but with the added twist that you can also open a private session through the Tor network, which will make it very hard for most companies to identify you.
At its core, Brave is simply a fast, extensible Chromium-based browser. That’s also what the company believes will sell it to users. “The way you get users, […] I think speed is the first one that works across the largest number of users. But you can’t just leave it at speed. You want to have all your benefits tied up in a pretty knot and that’s what we have done,” he said. For Brave, speed and ad/tracking protection are obviously interconnected, and all the other benefits accrue from that.
Looking beyond version 1.0, the Brave team plans to implement better sync, with support for tab and history syncing, for example. Brave also aims to make participating in Brave Rewards an experience with much lower friction for the user. In the early days, before it was on Android, the opt-in rate was around 40%, Eich told me, and the team wants to get it back to that.
If you want to give Brave a try, you can download it here.