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Lionel Messi’s father DENIES move to Saudi Arabia is a ‘done deal’

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Lionel Messi looked as though he was set for Saudi Arabia this summer but his father has denied claims a ‘deal is done’. Nevertheless, Messi could move in the future.

A move to Saudi Arabia would see the 35-year-old reignite his long-standing rivalry with Ronaldo, who plays for Al-Nassr in the Gulf state. 

As Saudi Arabia continues to make power plays to establish itself as a global sports hub, the prospect of the two greatest players of their, or any, generation going head-to-head in their league is a mouth-watering one.

Lionel Messi, wife Antonela Roccuzzo and sons Mateo and Ciro pose with horses during their recent visit to Saudi Arabia which led to the Argentine player being suspended by PSG

Lionel Messi, wife Antonela Roccuzzo and sons Mateo and Ciro pose with horses during their recent visit to Saudi Arabia which led to the Argentine player being suspended by PSG

Messi poses with a falcon during his Saudi visit amid rumours he could play football there

Messi poses with a falcon during his Saudi visit amid rumours he could play football there

Cristiano Ronaldo with his family in Saudi Arabia after he signed for Al-Nassr back in January

Cristiano Ronaldo with his family in Saudi Arabia after he signed for Al-Nassr back in January

Ronaldo and his partner Georgina Rodriguez enjoy the sunshine in the Saudi capital

Ronaldo and his partner Georgina Rodriguez enjoy the sunshine in the Saudi capital

Messi could be about to join his long-standing rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League

The Portuguese star, 38, is attempting to lead Al-Nassr to the Saudi Pro League title having signed for the club after his acrimonious departure from Manchester United 

While Messi – and his family – prefer a move back to Barcelona, where he emerged from the academy ranks to become their greatest player, the Spanish club’s well-documented financial issues have proven to be a significant hurdle.

In order to register Messi’s contract with LaLiga, who run Spain’s top division, Barcelona needed to lose around €200m [£175m] from their existing wage bill.

If they re-signed Messi, who currently commands wages approaching £1m-a-week, they would have had to sell several existing big earners to stay within the league limits.

So while Barcelona fans were beginning to get excited that Messi’s two-week PSG suspension after an unsanctioned ambassadorial trip to Saudi could have led him back to the Nou Camp, it was never likely to become reality.

There was also interest from Inter Miami in the United States but in terms of pure financial incentive, the Saudi offer blows everyone else out the water.

Messi has become disillusioned with Paris Saint-Germain and will leave the club this summer

Messi has become disillusioned with Paris Saint-Germain and will leave the club this summer

The fallout marks the end of a lukewarm love affair between Messi and the Parisian club

The fallout marks the end of a lukewarm love affair between Messi and the Parisian club

Messi already has ties to the country. Last year, he agreed to a £25m-a-year deal to work as a tourism ambassador for the Saudis.

His visit with wife Antonela and their children Mateo, seven, and Ciro, five, last week saw them pose for a set of nice promotional pictures which the Saudis no doubt plan to use in their holiday brochures.

There were snaps of Messi with a falcon perched on his arm, playing board game Carrom, of the family learning the local craft of palm-weaving and everyone playing arcade games at a Riyadh amusement park.

The Saudi minister of tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb tweeted: ‘I am happy to welcome Messi and his family to Saudi to enjoy the magical tourist destinations and authentic experiences.

‘We welcome visitors from all around the world to experience a unique trip to Saudi Arabia and its hospitality.’

Messi and his son try out the board game Carrom during the promotional trip to Riyadh

Messi and his son try out the board game Carrom during the promotional trip to Riyadh

The Messi family learned the art of palm-weaving during their Middle East trip this week

The Messi family learned the art of palm-weaving during their Middle East trip this week

The family visited an amusement park in Riyadh as part of Messi's ambassadorial role

The family visited an amusement park in Riyadh as part of Messi’s ambassadorial role

The Saudis are keen to make use of Messi's global profile to promote tourism to the country

The Saudis are keen to make use of Messi’s global profile to promote tourism to the country

Messi and his wife pose for pictures during their visit to Diriyah earlier this week

Messi and his wife pose for pictures during their visit to Diriyah earlier this week

Trips to the petting zoo or excursions to Diriyah could become regular occurrences when they live in the kingdom and for an idea of the lifestyle, he only has to look at Ronaldo.

The 38-year-old Portuguese star signed for Al-Nassr at the beginning of the year having left Manchester United by mutual consent following his criticism of the club in an interview with Piers Morgan.

Initially, Ronaldo and his family were staying in the luxury Kingdom Suite at the Four Seasons hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The 3,000ft suite, spread over two floors, offers sweeping views over the city and is so expensive there isn’t even a cost listed on the hotel’s website. Estimates put the cost of the bill for Ronaldo and his entourage at over £250,000.

The five-star hotel’s website boasts: ‘Entertain guests with unparalleled views of Riyadh. Our newest two-storey suite spans the 48th and 50th floors of the hotel, with a soaring living room, a private office, a dining room and a media room.’

Ronaldo and his family could enjoy ‘the best of dishes from China, Japan, India and the Middle East, with the freshest ingredients to order’ delivered directly to their room.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his family stayed at the Four Seasons hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Cristiano Ronaldo and his family stayed at the Four Seasons hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Ronaldo is on a £175million-a-year deal at Al Nassr but Messi's contract could be higher

Ronaldo is on a £175million-a-year deal at Al Nassr but Messi’s contract could be higher  

Messi and his family could certainly stay here until they find more permanent accommodation should they arrive over the summer.

Ronaldo, partner Georgina Rodriguez and their five children moved out of the hotel and into a new home in February, just in time for a visit from his mother Dolores Aveiro.

The new home is said to be in an exclusive compound with state-of-the-art security and all amenities such as gyms, shops and restaurants nearby. It is understood the family are renting the mansion.

Ronaldo and his family have also sampled some of the exclusive restaurants on offer in Riyadh, including Miyazo, which offers ‘contemporary Japanese cuisine driven by passion.’

He also shared a dinner of Lebanese food with Saudi minister of sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal in Diriyah.

We’ve also seen Ronaldo attend various events related to his newly-adopted country. He donned traditional dress and posed with a sword to mark the anniversary of the country’s foundation back in February.

Pictures from inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, where Ronaldo and his family stayed

Pictures from inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, where Ronaldo and his family stayed 

The 38-year-old star stayed in the hotel's lavish 'Kingdom Suite' - which covers two floors

The 38-year-old star stayed in the hotel’s lavish ‘Kingdom Suite’ – which covers two floors

Messi, of course, would be even better placed to fulfil his ambassadorial role if he moved to Saudi itself but given Ronaldo has 579 million Instagram followers and Georgina 50m, simply posting any kind of picture in the country is priceless advertising.

On the pitch, Ronaldo has scored 12 goals in 16 matches so far for Al-Nassr, who are currently second in the Pro League standings, five points behind leaders Al-Ittihad.

With four matches remaining, Ronaldo still has the chance to lead his team to title glory, though it hasn’t been entirely smooth.

When Al-Nassr lost 2-0 to Al-Hilal last month, rival fans chanted ‘Messi, Messi’ at Ronaldo, who appeared to grab his crotch as he walked off the pitch. It does at least prove Messi will be a hugely popular addition to the league.

The act was heavily criticised in some quarters, with lawyer Nouf bin Ahmed saying it was ‘a crime of public dishonour’ before calling for Ronaldo to be ‘arrested and deported.’

Ronaldo gives the thumbs up as he attended Saudi founding anniversary events in February

Ronaldo gives the thumbs up as he attended Saudi founding anniversary events in February

The Al Nassr player posed with a sword and in traditional dress amid Founding Day events

The Al Nassr player posed with a sword and in traditional dress amid Founding Day events

The star attended the boxing match between Tommy Fury and Jake Paul back in February

The star attended the boxing match between Tommy Fury and Jake Paul back in February

Ronaldo and his partner Georgina pose for a nice Instagram picture

Ronaldo and his partner Georgina pose for a nice Instagram picture 

When coach Rudi Garcia left the club by mutual consent, it was reported the reason was that Ronaldo ‘wasn’t satisfied’ with his tactics. It was also speculated Garcia had a ‘blazing dressing room row’ with the team.

But everything Ronaldo has ever done is under the microscope and an insight by Piers Morgan to Tatler magazine earlier this year said the footballer and his family were ‘absolutely loving it’ in Saudi.

When Rodriguez made her social debut at the Joy Awards, she was ‘the talk of the city.’

Throughout their spectacular careers Messi and Ronaldo have always competed goal-for-goal and trophy-for-trophy. They have always been rivals, though the frostiness has thawed with passing age.

We will soon find out if Riyadh is big enough for the both of them. 

Ronaldo courted controversy when he appeared to grab his crotch in response to opposition fans shouting 'Messi, Messi' in his direction

Ronaldo courted controversy when he appeared to grab his crotch in response to opposition fans shouting ‘Messi, Messi’ in his direction 

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Trump recounts assassination attempt in convention speech

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Former US President Donald Trump, in his first speech since surviving an attempted assassination, said on Thursday a last instant movement of his head at the rally in Pennsylvania saved him from being killed. 

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Caviar on tap, beach barbecues and a yacht for just 82 guests. A Caribbean cruise? It’s more like a giant floating house party

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As we glide across neon turquoise waters into shore on our Zodiac inflatable, I spy a waiter standing patiently on the ivory sands proffering a tray of painkillers.

Not the medicinal sort, but the enticingly sweet rum cocktails linked to the British Virgin Islands that are scattered like jewels across this corner of the Caribbean Sea.

It’s a glamorous start to our week-long voyage on one of the mega-yachts of boutique line SeaDream Yacht Club, holding up to 112 guests. 

There are just 82 on our sailing, making the ambience even more chummy – like one big floating house party.

We’ve arrived at the island of Jost Van Dyke for today’s Champagne & Caviar Splash beach barbecue – a signature SeaDream indulgence, while crew dispense caviar with trimmings from a floating surfboard in the shallows. 

Small world: Sara Macefield boards a Caribbean cruise with SeaDream. Above, Jost Van Dyke, one of the stops on her tour

Small world: Sara Macefield boards a Caribbean cruise with SeaDream. Above, Jost Van Dyke, one of the stops on her tour

It’s a cocktail party like no other, and the first of innumerable pinch-me moments during a voyage that takes us off well-worn routes to the Caribbean’s diminutive glories. 

Take tiny Nevis, dotted with romantic hotels among the ruins of colonial sugar mills and where US statesman (and subject of the eponymous West End musical) Alexander Hamilton was born, or St Barts, the A-listers’ nirvana where designer stores and superyachts conjure up a French Riviera meets the tropics vibe.

Then there’s the rustic Gallic simplicity of Iles des Saintes, a cluster of pin-prick outposts off Guadeloupe said to resemble St Barts before its jet-set days. 

Adding extra sparkle is our ship SeaDream 1. It’s not the newest or most modern – it turns 40 this year – but I find its varnished wood and gleaming brass brings a classic style of cruising, complemented by faultless service from the charming crew. 

Sara travels on SeaDream 1 (pictured), a mega-yacht that holds up to 112 guests

Sara travels on SeaDream 1 (pictured), a mega-yacht that holds up to 112 guests 

Sara describes the SeaDream experience as 'one big floating house party'

Sara describes the SeaDream experience as ‘one big floating house party’ 

From the moment I step aboard with my husband Geoff they know our names – and remember them throughout. Such touches are impressive, along with gifts that appear in our cabin. 

One night SeaDream keyrings, on another glasses cases.

Days are spent ashore or chilling around the pool. 

Sara's voyage takes her to Iles des Saintes, seen here, a cluster of pin-prick outposts off Guadeloupe

Sara’s voyage takes her to Iles des Saintes, seen here, a cluster of pin-prick outposts off Guadeloupe

Sara explores St Barts, pictured here, the 'A-listers¿ nirvana where designer stores and superyachts conjure up a French Riviera meets the tropics vibe'

Sara explores St Barts, pictured here, the ‘A-listers’ nirvana where designer stores and superyachts conjure up a French Riviera meets the tropics vibe’

It’s an addictive routine, spiced up when the water-sports marina comes into play and we whizz around on jet-skis or hurtle into the sea on the surprisingly steep inflatable slide.

One night we don SeaDream pyjamas embroidered with our names (another gift), to sleep under the stars on one of the plush sunbeds on deck. It’s been made up with a quilt and pillows so we soon drift off to the sound of waves.

I awaken at sunrise as we approach Montserrat, its outline illuminated by glowing crimson skies. You’d never normally find me awake at such an ungodly hour, but this natural alarm call was a rare treat worth getting up for.

TRAVEL FACTS

The Cruise Line offers a one-week British & French Islands Explorer with SeaDream Yacht Club departing February 1, 2025. It costs from £5,670 pp including flights and overnight stays in Miami and the island of St Thomas (cruiseline.co.uk).

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Explosion in Tel Aviv, bomb disposal experts on site, say Israeli police

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A powerful explosion of unknown origin went off in a building in Tel Aviv before 4:00 am (0100 GMT), Israeli police said Friday.

Israeli media reported a loud explosion on Ben Yehuda Street on the corner of Shalom Aleichem in Tel Aviv.

“Numerous police officers and bomb disposal experts have arrived on the scene and are dealing with the situation,” police said in a statement, without giving further details.

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Breakthrough ‘take-at-home’ prostate cancer drug gets green light for NHS use, sparing patients from lengthy hospital visits throwing a lifeline to 40,000 men

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How many people does it kill? 

More than 11,800 men a year – or one every 45 minutes – are killed by the disease in Britain, compared with about 11,400 women dying of breast cancer.

It means prostate cancer is behind only lung and bowel in terms of how many people it kills in Britain. 

In the US, the disease kills 26,000 men each year.

Despite this, it receives less than half the research funding of breast cancer and treatments for the disease are trailing at least a decade behind.

How many men are diagnosed annually?

Every year, upwards of 52,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK – more than 140 every day.   

How quickly does it develop? 

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs someone has it for many years, according to the NHS. 

If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’ may be adopted. 

Some patients can be cured if the disease is treated in the early stages.

But if it is diagnosed at a later stage, when it has spread, then it becomes terminal and treatment revolves around relieving symptoms.

Thousands of men are put off seeking a diagnosis because of the known side effects from treatment, including erectile dysfunction.

Tests and treatment

Tests for prostate cancer are haphazard, with accurate tools only just beginning to emerge. 

There is no national prostate screening programme as for years the tests have been too inaccurate.

Doctors struggle to distinguish between aggressive and less serious tumours, making it hard to decide on treatment.

Men over 50 are eligible for a ‘PSA’ blood test which gives doctors a rough idea of whether a patient is at risk.

But it is unreliable. Patients who get a positive result are usually given a biopsy which is also not fool-proof. 

Scientists are unsure as to what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity and a lack of exercise are known risks. 

Anyone with any concerns can speak to Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383 or visit prostatecanceruk.org

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Biden under intense pressure from Democrats to drop out of presidential race

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US President Joe Biden has reportedly become more open in recent days to hearing arguments that he should end his bid for reelection. Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly told Democratic colleagues that Biden could be convinced to leave the race soon. Other allies, including Barack Obama, have also voiced concerns. The New York Times reported that Biden has begun to accept the idea that he may not be able to win the Nov. 5 election and may have to drop out of the race. Biden tested positive on Wednesday for Covid-19, forcing him to cut short a campaign visit to Nevada and isolate for several days in Delaware.

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Ex-NFL star DeSean Jackson grabs new girlfriend’s butt in steamy photo from tropical vacation

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Former NFL receiver DeSean Jackson has his hands full with new flame Yahaira Sandoval – quite literally.

In a steamy photo from their tropical vacation this summer, Jackson – most famous for his five-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles – can be seen grabbing his girlfriend’s butt as they share a kiss in the sea.

Sandoval – a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur who owns her own beauty bar and clothing brand – posted a series of pictures from their recent getaway on Instagram.

Jackson wrote in the comments: ‘Baddest’ along with heart and flame emojis.

According to TMZ Sports, Sandoval was romantically linked with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather a number of years ago.

Former NFL star DeSean Jackson's new girlfriend shared a steamy photo from their vacation

Former NFL star DeSean Jackson’s new girlfriend shared a steamy photo from their vacation

Jackson spent 14 years in the NFL before retiring

He is now dating Yahaira Sandoval (pictured)

Jackson, who spent 14 years in the NFL before retiring on his 37th birthday at the start of December, is currently dating Yahaira Sandoval (right)

At that time Jackson was in a relationship with ex-fiancée Kayla Phillips, whom he has two sons with. 

The wideout spent 14 years in the NFL before retiring on his 37th birthday at the start of December, having spent time in Washington, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Baltimore after his memorable spell in Philadelphia.

After leaving the Ravens back in January, three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver signed a ceremonial one-day Eagles contract which allowed him to bow out from the sport on December 1 with the team that drafted him back in 2008.

However, despite spending close to a decade and a half as an NFL player, and claiming to have made over $100million in that time, Jackson revealed last year that he walked away from football unhappy with the depth of his pockets.

Sandoval posted a series of pictures from her recent getaway with Jackson on Instagram

Sandoval posted a series of pictures from her recent getaway with Jackson on Instagram

She is a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur who owns her own beauty bar and clothing brand

She is a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur who owns her own beauty bar and clothing brand

Jackson admitted last year that he is not 'satisfied' with the money he made in his NFL career

Jackson admitted last year that he is not ‘satisfied’ with the money he made in his NFL career

He said on the No Jumper podcast in December: ‘The hustler I am, I ain’t satisfied with the money I made in the NFL.

‘I would meet you today, and you wouldn’t even think I made 100 plus million in NFL. Because guess what? That money right there, that’s going to make my future be cool for my kids.

‘But right now, I still need bread, so I’m out here getting all type of stuff, going private equity, real estate… 

‘S***, f*** the NFL. That s*** was cool, but what’s next? I’m trying to go touch some Magic Johnson-type s***.’

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Mourners descend on moving vigil for firefighter killed at Trump rally by shooter who tried to assassinate the former president

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Hundreds of people have gathered to watch a procession of fire trucks transporting the body of the former fire chief who was killed at Donald Trump‘s rally five days ago. 

Corey Comperatore was shot during the assassination attempt by gunman Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, at the Butler, Pennsylvania campaign event over the weekend. 

The 50-year-old father had worked as a project and tooling engineer, was an Army reservist and spent many years as a volunteer firefighter after serving as chief, according to his obituary. 

He died a hero, spending the final moments of his life shielding his wife and daughter from the barrage of bullets as Trump was struck in the ear amid scenes which rocked American democracy to the core on Saturday evening.

Comperatore’s body was transported in a concierge of fire trucks adorned with black ribbons through his hometown of Freeport, just outside Pittsburgh, PA, on Thursday. 

Corey Comperatore's body was transported in a pof fire tadorned with black ribbons through his hometown of Freeport, just outside Pittsburgh, PA, on Thursday

Corey Comperatore’s body was transported in a procession of fire trucks adorned with black ribbons through his hometown of Freeport, just outside Pittsburgh, PA, on Thursday

Corey Comperatore was shot during the Trump assassination attempt by gunman Thomas Matthew Crooks , 20, at the Butler, Pennsylvania campaign event over the weekend

Corey Comperatore was shot during the Trump assassination attempt by gunman Thomas Matthew Crooks , 20, at the Butler, Pennsylvania campaign event over the weekend

Dan Beazley unloads a cross near a line of guests at a visitation for Corey Comperatore at Laube Hall, Thursday, July 18,2024, in Freeport, Pa

Dan Beazley unloads a cross near a line of guests at a visitation for Corey Comperatore at Laube Hall, Thursday, July 18,2024, in Freeport, Pa

Friends and neighbors had lined the grass beside the country road with knee-high American flags in his honor.  

The Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Department drove the vehicles somberly in formation to Laube Hall, where a private service will be held on Friday – only around 20 miles from where the Trump rally took place. 

In the five days since the horror unfolded, friends and strangers have donated $1.2 million to a fundraiser supporting Comperatore’s widow, Helen, and daughter, Allyson. 

Helen Comperatore received a call from Trump in the days after the devastating loss of her husband – and she was offered a call from Joe Biden too but refused it. 

Writing on Facebook after her call with Trump, she said: ‘He was very kind and said he would continue to call me in the days and weeks ahead.

‘I told him the same thing I told everyone else. He left this world a hero and God welcomed him in. He did not die in vain that day.’ 

‘I don’t talk to Biden,’ she later told the New York Post. ‘I didn’t want to talk to him. 

‘My husband was a devout Republican and he would not have wanted me to talk to him.’

A person arrives to a visitation for Corey Comperatore at Laube Hall, Thursday, July 18,2024, in Freeport, Pa

A person arrives to a visitation for Corey Comperatore at Laube Hall, Thursday, July 18,2024, in Freeport, Pa

Vehicles are parked at a visitation for Corey Comperatore at Laube Hall, Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Freeport, Pa

Vehicles are parked at a visitation for Corey Comperatore at Laube Hall, Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Freeport, Pa

A memorial for Corey Comperatore is seen on a billboard at the Penn Theater in Butler, PA., Thursday, July 18, 2024

A memorial for Corey Comperatore is seen on a billboard at the Penn Theater in Butler, PA., Thursday, July 18, 2024

She added that she has no ‘ill-will’ towards the president. ‘I’m not one of those people that gets involved in politics,’ she said. 

‘I support Trump, that’s who I’m voting for, but I don’t have any ill-will towards Biden. He didn’t do anything to my husband, a 20-year-old despicable kid did.’

Helen said she and her husband, who were high school sweethearts, were on the verge of celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary when they headed to Trump’s rally in Butler, Pennsylvania.

‘Me and the kids were all there as a family,’ she said. ‘He was just excited. It was going to be a nice day with the family.’

Comperatore’s funeral is scheduled for Friday, according to local reports. 

Hundreds of people also attended a candle-lit vigil the night before in Freeport. 

Commercial buildings in the town have been decorated with messages of support for those who knew Comperatore, and American flags have been raised in his honor. 

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How the FBI identified Trump shooter Thomas Matthew Crooks within hours – and how they could do the same for YOU

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Experts are sounding the alarm about techniques used to identify the assassin who tried to kill Donald Trump, saying the methods raise grave concerns about privacy.

The gunman, ‘loner’ Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, was not carrying an ID, had no criminal record, nearly zero digital footprint and no friends, forcing the FBI to resort to DNA analysis to identity him.

As Kevin Rojek, the special agent-in-charge (SAIC) for the FBI’s Pittsburgh field office, told reporters just hours after the shooting on Saturday, ‘We’re trying to run his DNA and get biometric confirmation.’

While the FBI declined to answer DailyMail.com’s requests for details on how they did this DNA analysis, experts say it has often included scouring consumer genealogy databases like Ancestory.com and 23andMe — which store tens of millions of Americans’ biometric data each.

And now, newer private DNA database companies have entered the market, firms that cater explicitly to the federal government and law enforcement as their clients. 

Experts are sounding the alarm about techniques used to identify the assassin who tried to kill Donald Trump, saying the methods raise grave concerns about privacy. Above, Secret Service agents flank former President Trump after the assassination attempt in Pennsylvania, Saturday

Experts are sounding the alarm about techniques used to identify the assassin who tried to kill Donald Trump, saying the methods raise grave concerns about privacy. Above, Secret Service agents flank former President Trump after the assassination attempt in Pennsylvania, Saturday

Above, law enforcement stands over the body of shooter Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, on the roof of an industrial building after his assassination attempt. Crooks was not carrying an ID and had nearly zero digital footprint forcing the FBI to resort to DNA analysis to confirm his identity

Above, law enforcement stands over the body of shooter Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, on the roof of an industrial building after his assassination attempt. Crooks was not carrying an ID and had nearly zero digital footprint forcing the FBI to resort to DNA analysis to confirm his identity

SAIC Rojek added that the Bureau was also ‘looking at photographs’ to help ID the shooter, part of a multi-agency effort to put a name to the dead would-be assassin. 

As experts told the DailyMail.com, a state-level facial recognition database held by Pennsylvania’s Department of Motor Vehicles, fingerprints held as part routine criminal background checks by Crooks’ employers and other government registries — while unnamed by the FBI — likely also played a role. 

One parallel effort conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ‘completed an urgent trace’ that ultimately led to the ‘business records from a closed gun dealer,’ according to an ATF statement.

That effort, a frantic, manual search through the closed gun shop’s paper records, helped trace the rifle to the Crooks’ father, according to a report by CNN.

‘Results were provided to the FBI and Secret Service in less than 30 minutes that helped identify the shooter,’ ATF reported a day after the FBI’s DNA announcement. 

Civil liberties advocates, however, noted that the increasing reliance on DNA databases by police not only raises privacy concerns, but the tactics have also led to false identifications and wrongful arrests, court records show. 

An attorney who overturned one such case told DailyMail.com that these sprawling DNA databases can lead to misidentifications because today’s crime scene forensics can recover DNA from extremely small and too often unrelated human debris.

As Kevin Rojek, the special agent-in-charge (SAIC) for the FBI's Pittsburgh field office, told reporters just hours after the shooting on Saturday, 'We're trying to run his DNA and get biometric confirmation.' Above, local a bomb squad vehicle parked outside the shooter's home

As Kevin Rojek, the special agent-in-charge (SAIC) for the FBI’s Pittsburgh field office, told reporters just hours after the shooting on Saturday, ‘We’re trying to run his DNA and get biometric confirmation.’ Above, local a bomb squad vehicle parked outside the shooter’s home

Civil liberties advocates, however, noted that the increasing reliance on DNA databases by police not only raises privacy concerns - but the tactics have also led to false identifications and wrongful arrests, as court records show. Above, the home of Trump shooter and his family

Civil liberties advocates, however, noted that the increasing reliance on DNA databases by police not only raises privacy concerns – but the tactics have also led to false identifications and wrongful arrests, as court records show. Above, the home of Trump shooter and his family

‘Our technology for collecting DNA is so sensitive now,’ attorney Jennifer Lynch explained. ‘You can just swab something somebody has touched and get their DNA.’

‘The risk is we shed DNA at different rates and DNA gets transferred from one surface to another,’ she continued. ‘That’s how somebody could be misidentified for a crime.’

Despite the fact that the FBI accomplished its ‘biometric confirmation’ of Trump’s shooter Crooks in less than 24 hours, further details have yet to be made public. 

But Lynch, who works as general counsel for the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), has spent over a decade tracking the federal government’s increasing reliance on vast genetic databases to track US citizens.

This ‘scary surveillance and technology,’ as Lynch told DailyMail.com, includes law enforcement contracts with private firms, like Verogen, Inc., who have amassed their DNA databases explicitly for ‘forensic customers’ and ‘criminal casework.’

In fact, Verogen has let police access personal genetic data that its ordinary genealogy database users had submitted as private, so long as they had a warrant. 

Attorney Jennifer Lynch told DailyMail.com that sprawling DNA databases can lead to false identifications because today's crime scene forensics can recover DNA from very small and potentially unrelated human debris: 'Our technology for collecting DNA is so sensitive now'

Attorney Jennifer Lynch told DailyMail.com that sprawling DNA databases can lead to false identifications because today’s crime scene forensics can recover DNA from very small and potentially unrelated human debris: ‘Our technology for collecting DNA is so sensitive now’

The FBI's 'biometric confirmation' of Trump's shooter took less than 24 hours. Above, a woman walks by a poster depicting Crooks from his high school yearbook photo (above), on Water street during the third day of the 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee

The FBI’s ‘biometric confirmation’ of Trump’s shooter took less than 24 hours. Above, a woman walks by a poster depicting Crooks from his high school yearbook photo (above), on Water street during the third day of the 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee

Prior to the entry of firms like Verogen, law enforcement had garnered success closing ‘cold case’ murders by anonymously uploading the DNA of their suspects into consumer genealogy databases like Ancestory.com and 23andMe.

As of March 2024, Ancestry.com’s database houses DNA from over 25 million people and 23andMe’s database stores genetic markers for over 14 million, according to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

The tactic led California police to finally capture the infamous Golden State Killer in 2018, but has also led to several false identifications and embarrassing dead ends. 

In one case, German detectives believed they were on the trail of a serial killer they called ‘the Phantom of Heilbronn’ — only to discover their suspect’s DNA belonged, in reality, to a Polish factory worker who had contaminated all their DNA kit swabs.

In another, DNA evidence led police to suspect that a Yale graduate student had been murdered by a convicted felon, who had died two years before the crime.

While the Bureau declined to answer DailyMail.com's requests for details on this DNA analysis, past use of both government-held and privately owned DNA databases have led to false identifications and wrongful arrests, court records show. 'That is not unusual at all,' Lynch said

While the Bureau declined to answer DailyMail.com’s requests for details on this DNA analysis, past use of both government-held and privately owned DNA databases have led to false identifications and wrongful arrests, court records show. ‘That is not unusual at all,’ Lynch said

Above, officers stand guard in Bethel Park as cops search an address registered to Crooks

Above, officers stand guard in Bethel Park as cops search an address registered to Crooks

GEDmatch — a genetic genealogy company that had already gained notoriety for sharing its customers’ DNA data with police — was troublingly purchased by government contractor Verogen over five years ago, Lynch noted. 

Verogen ‘basically designs technologies for law enforcement,’ she said, and its new ownership of GEDmatch has given the company ownership of a database with DNA profiles on over 2 million people. 

That commercial venture has now been augmented by a partnership with FamilyTreeDNA, which has its own DNA database of over 1.6 million people.

‘Law enforcement has used pseudonyms to upload DNA,’ Lynch told DailyMail.com.

‘Now, for providers like GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, it’s in their business model to allow law enforcement access.’

‘After GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA announced a partnership,’ Lynch said, paraphrasing her 2023 own report. ‘One thing they said in their press statement was that using our services, law enforcement can identify even more people.’  

Above, a Bethel Park police officer at the home of deceased Trump shooter, Crooks, named by the FBI as the 'subject involved' in the attempted assassination

Above, a Bethel Park police officer at the home of deceased Trump shooter, Crooks, named by the FBI as the ‘subject involved’ in the attempted assassination

Researchers at Georgetown Law reported that the US Department of Homeland Security 'misleads and intimidates people to collect their DNA.' Said Lynch: 'It's definitely being aggressively done.' The program began under Trump (above) but continued under Biden

Researchers at Georgetown Law reported that the US Department of Homeland Security ‘misleads and intimidates people to collect their DNA.’ Said Lynch: ‘It’s definitely being aggressively done.’ The program began under Trump (above) but continued under Biden

The EFF lawyer noted that the police have increasingly turned to these new contractual relationships to track US citizens who who are not already present in the federal government’s own DNA databases.

‘There are two main kinds of databases in the US,’ Lynch explained. ‘There’s the criminal DNA databases run by the government and then there’s private or consumer DNA databases.’

These government-held databases, including the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), have exploded in size in recent years.

‘The criminal DNA databases,’ Lynch explained, ‘in general, it’s almost every person convicted of a felony in the United States and many — if not most — arrestees.’

Worse, the rules around whose DNA is stored varies widely state by state. 

Since 2009, for example, California has authorized the extraction and permanent cataloguing of DNA from even innocent people who had simply been arrested on suspicion of crimes as minor as shoplifting or bouncing a bad check. 

‘In California,’ as the American Civil Liberties Union noted in a their report on the issue, ’30 percent of individuals arrested for a felony are never convicted.’

According to Pennsylvania public court records, Crooks had no criminal history, leaving state and federal investigators with even less data to make a positive ID. Above, Trump pumped his fist to the crowd, as some cheered his name and chanted 'Make America Great Again'

According to Pennsylvania public court records, Crooks had no criminal history, leaving state and federal investigators with even less data to make a positive ID. Above, Trump pumped his fist to the crowd, as some cheered his name and chanted ‘Make America Great Again’

‘The low level of proof required to make an arrest,’ ACLU wrote of the millions added to state databases and from there CODIS, ‘means that allowing DNA collection immediately after arrest will lead to large databases full of innocent people.’

At the local level, there are criminal DNA databases that may collect DNA from people who have been arrested for a misdemeanor,’ Lynch added. 

Innocent people who were never arrested, but the victims of a crime can become tracked and catalogued too, she noted, like ‘a rape survivor’ who ‘may have provided their DNA to the cops.’

Of particular concern, as Lynch has litigated successfully in court, are the proven cases in which DNA evidence at a crime scene has falsely identified a suspect.

This issue has been more common as more sensitive DNA techniques have allowed forensic investigators to extract a DNA sample from even smaller and more trace amounts of biological than ever before.

Lynch cited the case of a San Jose, California man, who spent five months in jail falsely accused of murder charges, after a database found his DNA at the scene of a brutal home invasion in Santa Clara County.

‘Finally his public defender realized that there’s no way he could have committed the murder,’ Lynch said, ‘because he was highly intoxicated that night and had been taken to a local medical facility.’ 

‘So what they ultimately think happened is that the paramedic that took him to the medical facility was the same person who later was called to the scene of the murder and [accidentally] transferred the suspect’s DNA to the murder victim.’

‘That is not unusual at all, unfortunately,’ Lynch said.

Crooks had shot at Trump with an AR-style rifle that his father had purchased legally - which, along with the address on the registration for the shooter's vehicle, may have led to a direct DNA match at the Crooks home, Lynch noted. Above the roof Crooks used as his sniper's nest

Crooks had shot at Trump with an AR-style rifle that his father had purchased legally – which, along with the address on the registration for the shooter’s vehicle, may have led to a direct DNA match at the Crooks home, Lynch noted. Above the roof Crooks used as his sniper’s nest

The head of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office, Rojek, told reporters the FBI had not found a motive for what he described as ‘an assassination attempt on our former president.’ 

Rojek also noted that law enforcement was looking ‘very intently’ to see if Crooks had been on their radar before the shooting. 

According to Pennsylvania public court records, Crooks had no criminal history — leaving state and federal investigators with even less data to make a positive ID.

Lynch suspects that less glamorous and less impressive methods than a sprawling DNA database may have played the decisive role in identifying Crooks.

‘Pennsylvania has face recognition for their driver’s license database,’ Lynch told DailyMail.com, ‘most driver’s license databases do.’ 

‘So perhaps, police could run a photograph of the guy against the driver’s license database and identify him,’ she speculated, though she noted other options existed.

Crooks was employed as a dietary aide at the Bethel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, where his boss told reporters he had passed a background check.

‘Thomas Matthew Crooks performed his job without concern and his background check was clean,’ the nursing home’s administrator, Marcie Grimm, said in a statement. ‘We are shocked and saddened to learn of his involvement.’

According to Lynch, the background check would have included routine fingerprinting that could have helped match prints on the rifle Crooks used to fire at Trump.

‘A lot of people have fingerprints in databases that are accessible to the government,’ she noted. ‘It’s kind of like an unsexy way to identify people.’ 

Additionally, Crooks had shot at Trump, damaging his ear, with an AR-style rifle that his father had purchased legally — which, along with the address on the registration for the shooter’s vehicle, may have led to a direct DNA match at the Crooks home.

Lynch opined that the FBI’s reference to running the suspects ‘DNA’ might have been part of a Bureau effort to appear like all-seeing, omniscient crime-stoppers: ‘Sometimes I worry that law enforcement is just trying to scare us,’ she said.

‘And there’s certainly a lot of scary surveillance and technology out there,’ she added, ‘and ways for the police to identify us.’

Trump had blood streaming down his cheeks as Secret Service agents put him to the floor

Trump had blood streaming down his cheeks as Secret Service agents put him to the floor 

This May, researchers at Georgetown Law reported that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ‘misleads and intimidates people to collect their DNA.’ 

DHS via its customs and border patrol agents have, in fact, spent years genetically cataloging immigrants and refugees held within US detention centers.

According to the US Government Accountability Office, the program has fed ‘nearly 1 million DNA samples’ into the FBI’s CODIS database between 2020 and 2022. 

‘It’s definitely being aggressively done,’ Lynch said. ‘But it’s not quite as coordinated yet […] It’s not like we have a database of all refugees and asylum-seekers’ DNA.’

She outlined one, not uncommon scenario, for how these DNA databases can be unintentionally misused: ‘The risk is that I could handle a knife and hand it to you, and then you hand it to another person. And you’re the one who commits the crime with it before you hand off the knife.’ 

‘It could be that none of your DNA is on that knife,’ Lynch said, ‘but all of mine is.’ 

‘There’s lots of examples of that,’ she said.

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International

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen elected for second five-year term

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday was re-elected for a second five-year term. In a final pitch before the vote, the former German defence minister pledged to create a joint European defence union and to lead the fight to preserve a democratic “European way of life”.

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International

Lenders must mend their ways over debanking: Watchdog issues verdict on Farage’s bust-up with Coutts

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Banks have been told to do more to ensure MPs, peers and their families are treated fairly after a review by the City watchdog in the wake of the Nigel Farage debanking affair.

The Financial Conduct Authority said all lenders could improve how they checked an estimated 90,000 politically exposed persons (PEPs) deemed to be vulnerable to bribery or corruption because of the public office they hold.

The review followed a row last year when Coutts, the private banking arm of NatWest, closed Nigel Farage’s account.

‘Debanked’: Reform party leader Nigel Farage (pictured) claimed he was targeted because of his political views

‘Debanked’: Reform party leader Nigel Farage (pictured) claimed he was targeted because of his political views

The Reform party leader said he was ‘debanked’ because of his political views. He obtained a memo from Coutts calling him a ‘disingenuous grifter’ whose views did not align with the bank’s.

An independent review found his account had been closed mainly for commercial reasons but the affair cost NatWest chief executive Alison Rose her job.

The scandal also raised wider concerns about the way customers such as charities and small businesses are treated when their accounts are shut.

Last year The Mail on Sunday revealed lenders were shutting almost 1,000 accounts a day – a seven-fold increase on 2016 – in a ‘shoot-first-ask-questions-later’ approach to anti-money laundering rules.

Almost all accounts were closed because of ‘financial crime’ concerns. In some cases lenders are legally prevented from telling customers why they have been ‘debanked’.

Tougher anti-money laundering rules were introduced after the 2008 financial crisis to make banks safer.

But the Institute of Economic Affairs estimates that enforcing them cost banks £34billion a year – almost double the budget for policing across the UK – despite no evidence that the measures cut crime.

Although PEPs are subject to extra checks, the FCA said banks should not disadvantage people running for office or taking senior roles.

‘Public service naturally comes with greater scrutiny but it must be proportionate,’ said Sarah Pritchard, the FCA executive director of markets. ‘Most firms try to get it right but there is more they can do.’

A ‘small number’ of the 15 firms reviewed by the FCA face further scrutiny ‘to ensure they make changes,’ it said. Publication of the report was delayed because of the General Election.

Last night the FCA was accused of issuing its findings while Farage is attending the US Republican convention.

It was ‘notable’ that the report was released when ‘Farage is ill-placed to respond,’ said Andy Agathangelou, the founder of campaign group Transparency Task Force, adding: ‘It is almost as if the timing was hand-picked to reduce the probability of being challenged.’

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