TVs, robots, soybeans on front lines of US-China trade spat

President Donald Trump is poised to hike the price of Chinese-made flat-screen TVs and ultrasound machines for American buyers.

They are part of a tech imports worth up to $50 billion on which Trump is preparing to slap 25 percent tariffs in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

The White House has yet to release a final list of products. A tentative version in April ran the technology gamut from TVs and telecoms equipment to medications and industrial chemicals.

It would be the first direct impact on American consumers of the dispute over a state-led technology development strategy the White House says violates Beijing’s free-trade commitments and hurts foreign competitors.

More than a routine trade dispute, it reflects Washington’s unease that American technology leadership and prosperity might be eroded by China’s state-led efforts to compete in smartphones, electric cars, biotech and other fields.

Economists and businesspeople say Beijing is unlikely to give ground on a strategy seen by communist leaders as the path to higher incomes and to restoring China’s rightful role as a global leader.

———

WHAT IS THE DISPUTE?

U.S. officials say the tariff hike targets goods that might benefit from Chinese theft of technology or pressure on foreign companies to hand it over in exchange for market access.

They point to plans stretching back two decades that call for state-led development of Chinese competitors in artificial intelligence, clean energy, electric cars, robotics, biotech and other fields. Foreign companies complain Beijing subsidizes fledgling Chinese developers and shields them from competition in violation of its free-trade commitments.

Trump is hardly the first foreign leader to complain. Others have filed World Trade Organization complaints or lobbied Chinese leaders in person during visits to Beijing. But Trump has attacked head-on, threatening to disrupt Chinese exports.

———

CHINESE GOODS TARGETED FOR TARIFF HIKES

In addition to TVs and medical equipment, the tentative list in April included bakery ovens, power generators, cassette players, electric motors and video cameras.

That could hurt emerging Chinese global brands including Huawei in telecoms, Mindray in medical equipment and Hisense in TVs.

Business groups warn the tariffs are effectively a tax on American consumers, though the American Chamber of Commerce says Trump’s threat prompted Beijing to engage in more intensive negotiations than it has in years.

———

“MADE IN CHINA 2025”

U.S. officials cite Beijing’s long-range development strategy, dubbed “Made in China 2025,” as emblematic of tactics they say hamper competition and will hurt American competitors.

It calls for creating Chinese global competitors in information technology, numerical control machinery and robotics, aerospace and aviation equipment, maritime engineering equipment and high-tech vessel manufacturing, advanced rail equipment, energy-saving and electric vehicles, electrical equipment, agricultural machinery, new materials and biopharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Foreign business groups have complained for a decade Beijing is squeezing them out of promising fields. They say “Made in China 2025” appears to leave them little or no place in those industries.

Previous technology plans since the 1990s have targeted even broader areas including nuclear power, genetics, deep sea equipment, satellites and lasers.

———

AMERICAN GOODS FACING POSSIBLE RETALIATION

China announced a $50 billion list of goods in April including soybeans and light aircraft for possible retaliation, though it hasn’t repeated that threat in response to the latest developments from Washington.

April’s list of 106 products also includes beef, whiskey and orange juice. That targets rural Trump supporters and reflects Chinese effort to minimize losses by picking goods available from other suppliers.

Soybeans are the biggest U.S. export but other products on the list also are major earners. U.S. aviation-related exports to China totaled $13.2 billion in 2016.

It was unclear whether Beijing might try to make an exception for Chinese-owned U.S. exporters such as pork producer Smithfield Foods.

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DoJ report faults Comey on Clinton email inquiry but finds no political bias | US news

The former FBI director James Comey did not follow protocol in his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the justice department’s independent watchdog has said in a new report.

A highly anticipated review by the DoJ’s inspector general, which was released on Thursday, condemned Comey and a handful of individual FBI personnel.

But the report found no evidence to support Donald Trump’s claim that the agency was motivated by political animus as it investigates potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. It concluded that Comey’s controversial actions around the investigation into Clinton’s emails, although “deviant” from procedure, were not politically biased.

The report also reveals Comey used a private email account to conduct official FBI business. “But my emails,” Clinton tweeted in response.

Hillary Clinton
(@HillaryClinton)

But my emails. https://t.co/G7TIWDEG0p


June 14, 2018

The 500-page report largely focuses on the conduct of the nation’s top law enforcement agency, which is historically non-partisan, during the 2016 presidential election.

The report also includes previously unreported text messages between two FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who privately criticized Trump and previously worked on the bureau’s Russia investigation.

Among the new text messages uncovered in the report is one dated 8 August 2016, three months before the election, in which Page asked: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok replied: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”

Mueller reassigned Strzok last summer after the anti-Trump messages came to light. Page is no longer with the FBI.

“The conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation,” the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, said in the report.

He nonetheless concluded: “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed.”

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Horowitz had a similar assessment for Comey, whose particular actions leading up to the election have been the subject of intense debate due in large part to his reopening of the federal investigation into Clinton’s emails just 11 days before Americans went to the polls.

“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part,” Horowitz wrote, “we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

The report calls Comey “insubordinate” and says his actions were “extraordinary” for failing to communicate with his superiors at the DoJ at pivotal moments in the Clinton investigation. It also asserts that a series of errors in senior leadership tarnished the agency’s reputation as a neutral arbiter of justice.

“The damage caused by these employees’ actions extends far beyond the scope of the midyear (Clinton) investigation and goes to the heart of the FBI’s reputation for neutral factfinding and political independence,” the report reads.

Christopher Wray, the FBI director: ‘Nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our workforce.’



Christopher Wray, the FBI director: ‘Nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our workforce.’ Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Comey defended his actions, arguing that “nothing in the inspector general’s report makes me think we did the wrong thing”.

He he added on Twitter: “People of good faith can see an unprecedented situation differently. I pray no director faces it again. Thanks to IG’s people for hard work.”

Clinton offered a wry reply to the report on Twitter. “But my emails,” she said, responding to a reporter who highlighted findings from the report that Comey had used a personal gmail account to conduct official business.

Her campaign has argued that the focus on her use of a private email server was overblown, while Clinton has blamed Comey’s intervention in the waning days of the election cycle for her surprise loss to Trump.

Hillary Clinton
(@HillaryClinton)

But my emails. https://t.co/G7TIWDEG0p


June 14, 2018

The FBI director, Christopher Wray, defended his agency in response to the scathing report that sharply criticized the actions of his predecessor.

“Nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole or the FBI as an institution,” Wray told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

In response to the findings, Wray said certain agents had already been referred to the FBI’s disciplinary arm and pledged that the agency “won’t hesitate to hold people accountable”.

Comey was controversially fired by Trump in May 2017 – a move the president conceded was due in part to “this Russia thing”, contradicting the assertions of his own White House that Comey’s role in overseeing the Russia investigation was not a factor in his firing.

The president has repeatedly dismissed the special counsel’s investigation into whether his campaign coordinated with the Russians as a “witch-hunt”. On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “Now that I am back from Singapore, where we had a great result with respect to North Korea, the thought process must sadly go back to the Witch Hunt, always remembering that there was No Collusion and No Obstruction of the fabricated No Crime.”

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the report “reaffirms the president’s suspicion about Comey’s conduct and about the political bias of some members of the FBI”.

Mueller’s inquiry has produced indictments against at least 20 people and three companies, including several former members of Trump’s campaign. At least three former Trump officials – George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy adviser; Michael Flynn; former national security adviser; and Rick Gates, an ex campaign aide – have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russians.

In a statement, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said the report report “reveals a number of significant errors by the senior leadership of the Department of Justice and the FBI during the previous administration”.

Sessions, who has so far rebuffed Republican calls for a second special counsel to examine the FBI’s Russia investigation, also suggested additional action could be forthcoming pending recommendations from a separate and ongoing review of the bureau’s conduct that is being led by US attorney John Huber.

“The department is not above criticism,” Sessions said. “This has been a prolonged and painful process for the department and the FBI. But this is not the end of the process.”



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Einstein decried racism but his diaries reveal a xenophobic side

“In published statements, he’s usually in favour of civil and human rights and was socially progressive. I’m not saying that he didn’t believe in those things,” Rosenkranz said, but he added that the words Einstein never intended to be published are in stark contrast with his more-guarded public statements.

That contradiction makes Einstein all the more human, said Rosenkranz, who edited The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein, published recently by Princeton University Press.

“I’m not apologising for him or anything . . . I still feel that the unpleasant remarks are quite shocking, but they do reveal that we all have this darker side to our attitudes and prejudices,” he said.

Displaced migrant children from a shelter visit Einstein for his 70th birthday in New York in 1949.

Displaced migrant children from a shelter visit Einstein for his 70th birthday in New York in 1949.

Photo: AP/File

Einstein wrote the travel diary from October 1922 to March 1923, when he and wife Elsa travelled by ship to the Mediterranean, Sri Lanka, China and Japan. He wrote every day about his surroundings, at times writing as if he was in a hurry. “Radiant day. Sea quiet, almost windless,” he wrote on October 12, 1922. Other times, he is more detailed: “In the evening, wonderful sunset – purple with finely illuminated narrow wind-swept clouds,” he wrote on that same day.

He also chronicled his observations of people he saw and met, summing up “their personalities and idiosyncrasies in just a few, often humorous or irreverent, words,” Rosenkranz wrote in the introduction portion of the travel diary.

The average Japanese, Einstein wrote, is “unproblematic, impersonal, he cheerfully fulfils the social function which befalls him without pretension, but proud of his community and nation. Forsaking his traditional ways in favour of European ones does not undermine his national pride.”

Albert Einstein receives  his certificate of American citizenship from Judge Phillip Forman in 1940.

Albert Einstein receives his certificate of American citizenship from Judge Phillip Forman in 1940.

Photo: US Library of Congress

While Einstein used male pronouns for deeper reflections about the Japanese, his thoughts about women were more about their physical appearance than their personality. Japanese women, he wrote as he observed them on the ship, “look ornate and bewildered . . . Black-eyed, black-haired, large-headed, scurrying.”

His reflections about the Chinese, with whom he spent far less time, were more callous, even insulting. Though he called the Chinese “industrious”, he also described them as “filthy” and “obtuse”. They’re a “peculiar herd-like nation,” Einstein wrote, “often more like automatons than people”. He saw them as intellectually inferior, quoting – instead of challenging – Portuguese teachers he met during his travels who claimed that the Chinese “are incapable of being trained to think logically” and “have no talent for mathematics.”

There was, as Rosenkranz described, a “healthy dose of extreme misogyny”:

“I noticed how little difference there is between men and women; I don’t understand what kind of fatal attraction Chinese women possess which enthrals the corresponding men to such an extent that they are incapable of defending themselves against the formidable blessing of offspring.”

His reflections in the few days he spent in China also reveal Einstein’s tendency to perceive foreigners as a threat.

“It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races,” he wrote. “For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”

In Colombo, Sri Lanka, he wrote with empathy about the beggars on the streets. He was “very much ashamed” for his complicity in such “despicable treatment of human beings,” he said. But he also was critical of them for being poor. He saw them as inferior people who “live in great filth and considerable stench.”

The Indians and Sinhalese in Colombo, Einstein said, “do little” and “need little.”

As he travelled in the Levant in the Mediterranean, he described Levantines as a “screaming and gesticulating” group of people “of every shade”. Levantine merchants swarmed the ship, Einstein wrote, transforming the upper deck into a bazaar. He found them both repulsive and beautiful, describing them as “bandit-like” and “filthy”, but also “handsome and graceful to look at.”

About a decade after his travels, in December 1932, Einstein and his wife left Germany for a three-month trip to the United States. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party took over the German government the following month.

Dr Martin Luther King jnr acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech  in 1963.

Dr Martin Luther King jnr acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

Photo: AP

Einstein didn’t return to Germany. He stayed in the US, where he became more aware of the plight of African Americans. He entrenched himself in the civil rights movement, signed anti-lynching petitions and volunteered to testify as a character witness in the trial of writer and philosopher W.E.B. Du Bois.

“It would be easy to say, yes, he became more enlightened,” Rosenkranz said. But whether Einstein’s racist views, particularly about the Chinese, had changed, Rosenkranz is not sure.

All of this is to say that our understanding of Einstein misses his complexity as a human being, Rosenkranz said.

“One should emphasise the different elements and contradictory elements in the statements that he made and in his personality,” Rosenkranz said. “On one hand, he was very generous and very favourable . . . But there’s also these statements that one should not ignore.”

What this says about human nature is that we are complex beings with both enlightened and dark beliefs, Rosenkranz said. “We generally don’t express them, but we might harbour them secretly. This gives us the opportunity to look at ourselves.”

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Russia’s UN Mission does a special Cup launch

Russia did its own special launch of the World Cup at U.N. headquarters in New York with large screens to watch the opening match and an invitation to ambassadors to show up in the jerseys of their national team — which many did.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told a large crowd in the Delegates Lounge just before Thursday’s start of the Russia-Saudi Arabia match: “We turned, I think, the whole U.N. into a big fan zone.”

“I seriously hope it will be a peaceful month for us to enjoy both peace and football,” said Nebenzia, wearing a red Russian jersey with the name Vassily on the back and the No. 10. “I would like to say may the best team win.”

As the game started, which Russia won 5-0, he posed for pictures with more than a dozen ambassadors wearing a colorful array of jerseys, including several women.

By coincidence, Russia holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council this month and several hours later he held another photo opportunity for its 15 ambassadors, all clad in their national jerseys including U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and British Ambassador Karen Pierce.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was also invited, showed up in a black referee’s uniform and at one point held up a yellow card. But at the end he slipped on the jersey of his native Portugal, which is competing in the World Cup.

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Apple closes law enforcement loophole for the iPhone

Apple CEO: Privacy is fundamental human right

Apple is about to make it much harder for law enforcement agencies to gain access to information on iPhones.

The company will include a new feature, called USB Restricted Mode, in a future update of its iOS software, which runs on iPhones and iPads.

The feature disables data transfer through the Lightning port one hour after a phone was last locked, preventing popular third-party hacking tools used by law enforcement from accessing the device. The port can still be used for charging.

“We’re constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data,” Apple said in a statement Wednesday. “We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.”

The update could reignite tensions between Apple and the US government, which wants technology companies to include backdoors — official ways to get around encryption and other security measures — on their devices. Technology companies including Apple have objected to such requests.

Related: How cops could get your data without unlocking your phone

Reuters and The New York Times first reported that Apple (AAPL) had confirmed the new feature. Vice’s Motherboard previously reported that Apple was testing the change.

If a law enforcement agency wants to gain access to an iPhone, its options are limited, even with a warrant. The data on the device is encrypted and cannot be pulled off without cooperation from Apple or the phone’s owner — or possibly by using a corpse’s fingerprint.

The FBI and Apple faced off over the issue in court in 2016. The FBI demanded Apple create special software so it could unlock the iPhone belonging to one of the attackers in the San Bernardino shooting in 2015.

Apple didn’t end up building that software. Instead, the FBI purchased a tool from a third-party that let it hack into the device.

The practice has spread in recent years, with law enforcement agencies around the world buying devices that can pull information off a locked phone. Companies including Cellebrite and Grayshift sell the devices, which plug into the Lightning port.

Related: U.S. tries to force Apple to unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

Apple told CNNMoney that its security update, including the Restricted Mode feature, is meant to prevent criminal attacks rather than stymie law enforcement agents investigating cases. The update fixes a vulnerability that could be exploited by bad actors and police alike, the company said.

“There are over 700 million iPhones in the hands of consumers. Patching any and all vulnerabilities as quickly as possible is … the only responsible path to protect the public,” said Alex Rice, co-founder of HackerOne, a firm that helps large companies detect security flaws.

An internet privacy advocate said Apple’s move was a win for the security of all iPhone users.

“Law enforcement is in the golden age of surveillance, with an unprecedented ability to look into every aspect of our lives, and more data available than ever before,” said Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “We should not weaken security for millions of innocent users just to keep one exploit working longer.”

Related: Why smartphone security is a luxury for those who can afford it

The FBI and the Department of Justice declined to comment.

The update will be available in iOS 12, the company’s latest mobile operating system, when it comes out later this year. iOS 12 works on the iPhone 5S and later models.

But Jay Kaplan of cybersecurity firm Synack doesn’t think it will be long before other techniques for getting into iPhones become available. Companies like Cellebrite that have based their business on it are likely to already have other tools stockpiled, he said.

Cellebrite didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

— Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

CNNMoney (San Francisco) First published June 13, 2018: 9:35 PM ET

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Nicaragua president’s foes stage nationwide strike

TIPITAPA, Nicaragua (Reuters) – Thousands of shopkeepers and businessmen in Nicaragua on Thursday heeded calls for a national strike by foes of President Daniel Ortega, shutting down much of the country after nearly two months of deadly protests urging his ouster.

A burned bus is seen during a protest against Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega’s government in Tipitapa, Nicaragua June 14, 2018.REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Streets were deserted in cities and towns as banks and supermarkets, gas stations and corner stores were closed. Few people ventured out during the 24-hour stoppage.

Police officers with assault rifles lined the largely empty main streets of the capital Managua. The strike, organized by university students, farmers and business owners, was the latest tactic by a loose national alliance formed to dislodge the president.

“Look at this, it’s a desert,” said Juan Jose Murillo, 38, pointing to a vacant parking lot and the empty stalls of the usually bustling Huembes market, a central shopping destination.

Murillo, a street vendor, said he has struggled to make a living since demonstrations started. “I don’t support any political party. I just want the conflict to end.”

Demonstrations place a burned bus as a barricade during a protest against Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega’s government in Tipitapa, Nicaragua June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Ortega’s attempt to push through welfare cuts in April kicked off the bloodiest confrontations since a civil war ended in 1990. The government of the former Marxist guerilla and leader of the Sandinista rebel movement quickly dropped the planned welfare cuts. But the crackdown on protesters has sparked his biggest crisis since his second stint as president began in 2007.

Nearly 150 have been killed and hundreds injured in eight weeks of clashes between pro-Ortega forces and protesters armed with rocks, slings and homemade mortars.

In a statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected as “biased” the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ condemnation a day earlier of ongoing state-sanctioned repression. The commission released a scathing preliminary report in late May criticizing “grave violations of human rights” during a government crackdown.

Slideshow (11 Images)

Ortega’s administration has said protesters are vandals trying to destabilize his government and undermine democracy in one of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest countries.

A new round of talks between the government and civil society representatives were scheduled for Friday.

A previous round mediated by local Catholic bishops was suspended in late May after witnesses and rights groups accused government security forces of opening fire on thousands of demonstrators.

A few blocks from blood-spattered street barricades in Tipitapa, 13 miles (22 km) northeast of Managua, the silence was rent by cries of sorrow as relatives and friends gathered around the body of Agustin Mendoza, 22, his coffin streaked in the blue and white of the national flag.

Masked gunman in civilian clothes shot Mendoza on Thursday morning as he was filming nearby clashes, according to a mourner who said Mendoza was a cousin. Video footage from a relative shows someone sprinting through a dispersing crowd of protesters and a bearded Mendoza falling to the ground, his jeans soaked in blood from a stomach wound.

Down the street, dozens of young men covering their faces with shirts and holding homemade mortar launchers vowed defiance.

“They will have to kill us all,” said a masked youth who identified himself only as Joel, with the carcass of a burned down bus behind him. “We will not back down.”

Reporting by Alonso Soto; Writing by Delphine Schrank; Editing by Richard Chang

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Video shows Trump saluting North Korean general Video

Transcript for Video shows Trump saluting North Korean general

President trump with new praise for north Korean leader Kim Jong-un calling him a tough guy and saying they understand each other as the president now faces new questions about what the brutal dictator has done inside his country. What the north Koreans are being told about promises from president trump. Here’s Cecilia Vega. Reporter: On north Korean state TV today, a 42-minute video documenting Kim Jong-un’s every move at the historic summit. President trump, called the supreme leader of the united States, shown offering his hand to a north Korean general. The general salutes instead, and the president salutes right back. In train stations, north Koreans clustered, reading news of the summit. State media reported the president pledged to quote, “Lift sanctions as mutual relations improve through dialogue and negotiation.” But today, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said that’s not actually the case. The economic relief that North Korea will receive will only happen after the full denuclearization. Reporter: Back at home, the president’s gushing praise for Kim Jong-un is raising eyebrows. Six months ago, he said this — No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea. Reporter: But now? I think we understand each other. But he has still done some really bad things. Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. Reporter: Human rights groups say Kim’s regime has carried out torture, forced starvation and systemic murder of thousands. Why is he now downplaying North Korea’s horrific atrocities? The president hasn’t downplayed. The president has North Korea’s human rights record and some of the abuses of the North Korea regime on a number of occasions. He said a lot of other people have done some really bad things. How is that not downplaying the atrocities? A lot of people have done some bad things. However, the president hasn’t ignored bad things that have been done by the north Korean regime. The white house is now insisting that president trump raised human right Ness that meeting with Kim Jong-un. Sarah Sanders told me today the focus was denuclearization, not human rights. Cecelia, thanks as always.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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French police cut soles off migrant children’s shoes, claims Oxfam | World news

French border police have been accused of detaining migrant children as young as 12 in cells without food or water, cutting the soles off their shoes and stealing sim cards from their mobile phones, before illegally sending them back to Italy.

A report released on Friday by the charity Oxfam also cites the case of a “very young” Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby.

The allegations, which come from testimony gathered by Oxfam workers and partner organisations, come two months after French border police were accused of falsifying the birth dates of unaccompanied migrant children in an attempt to pass them off as adults and send them back to Italy.

“We don’t have evidence of violent physical abuse, but many [children] have recounted being pushed and shoved or shouted at in a language they don’t understand,” Giulia Capitani, the report’s author, told the Guardian.

“And in other ways the border police intimidate them – for example, cutting the soles off their shoes is a way of saying, ‘Don’t try to come back’.”

Daniela Zitarosa, from the Italian humanitarian agency Intersos, said: “Police [officers] yell at them, laugh at them and tell them, ‘You will never cross here’.

“Some children have their mobile phone seized and sim card removed. They lose their data and phonebook. They cannot even call their parents afterwards.”

Italy accused France of hypocrisy this week for failing to share the burden of the ongoing migrant crisis. The spat developed when the French president, Emmanuel Macron, criticised what he called Italy’s “cynicism and irresponsibility” in turning away a migrant rescue ship with 629 people on board.

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new anti-migrant interior minister, who blocked the Aquarius rescue vessel from docking in Sicily, accused France of turning its back on 10,524 migrants at the border between January and May this year.

Capitani said unaccompanied minors had for some time been sent back to Italy by French police, although it was only in March that they allegedly began falsifying birth dates on “refusal of entry” documents – one month after a court in Nice ruled that border authorities had illegally detained and returned children to Italy in 20 cases.

Under the Dublin regulation, child migrants in France cannot be sent back to Italy if they request asylum. EU law stipulates that unaccompanied minors must be protected, and that those seeking asylum in one member state have the right to be transferred to another where they have family members.

Charities operating at the border have also taken aim at Italy for failing to implement adequate procedures for family reunification, leaving many children stranded and with no choice but to attempt the journey by themselves. The Oxfam report said Italy’s overstretched and bureaucratic system leaves migrants living under the radar in dangerous conditions.

Capitani said Italian border police had recently started to accompany minors rejected by France back to the neighbouring country.

France tightened rules at its border after 84 people were killed in a terror attack in Nice in July 2016.

Ventimiglia has become a bottleneck for people attempting to cross from Italy into France. Oxfam said that at least 16,500 migrants, a quarter of them children, passed through the town in the nine months to April.

Most attempt to cross the border by train or via a dangerous mountain path known as the “passage of death”. Charities estimate that at least 12 people died last year while trying to cross into France, either along the mountain route or by being hit by vehicles along a motorway. A 17-year-old from Sudan drowned in June 2017 while trying to retrieve a shoe washed away by a strong current in Ventimiglia’s Roia river.

According to Oxfam, 17,337 children arrived in Italy in 2017, 15,779 (91%) of whom were unaccompanied.

French authorities have been contacted for comment.

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‘Immensely proud ambassador’ Boris Becker aces creditors

Any legal action would require the agreement of Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, as well as the Central African Republic’s foreign minister. Experts said that anyone could become a foreign diplomat if invited to do so by the country.

Britain's Prince Charles, right,  speaks to German tennis legend Boris Becker at a reception and dinner for The British Asian Trust at Guildhall in London in 2017.

Britain’s Prince Charles, right, speaks to German tennis legend Boris Becker at a reception and dinner for The British Asian Trust at Guildhall in London in 2017.

Photo: AP

Becker’s decision to become a diplomat could mean that none of the money he is expected to receive for commentating for the BBC at Wimbledon will go to his creditors.

Becker said in a statement: “A bunch of anonymous and unaccountable bankers and bureaucrats pushed me into a completely unnecessary declaration of bankruptcy, which has inflicted a whole heap of damage on me, both commercially and professionally, and on those close to me. I have now asserted diplomatic immunity as I am in fact bound to do, in order to bring this farce to an end, so that I can start to rebuild my life. Once this gravy train for the suits has been stopped in its tracks, my lawyers will turn to the question of compensation.”

Becker said he was “immensely proud of my appointment as the sports and culture attaché for the Central African Republic”.

“Sport is incredibly important in Africa and is fast becoming a universal language, a form of social diplomacy and a leveller between people from vastly different and unequal social backgrounds,” he said.

“My diplomatic role in the Central African Republic allows me to give something meaningful back to sports supporters in one of the poorest parts of the world.”

Becker has hired Ben Emmerson QC, a leading human rights lawyer who has acted for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, to handle his diplomatic immunity claim.

The BBC did not comment. A spokesman for one of his creditors, Arbuthnot Latham & Co, declined to comment.

Becker’s bankruptcy followed a £20 million divorce and paternity settlements with his first wife, Barbara, and Angela Ermakova, a Russian model, as well as a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion.

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