US imposes sanctions on top DRC officials after election delay

Congolese general and former police official have US assets blocked as about 50 people killed in clashes since President Joseph Kabila postponed vote

The United States has imposed sanctions on two senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo in an apparent warning to President Joseph Kabila to respect the constitution of the vast, unstable African country and call elections later this year.

The DRC has suffered repeated bouts of unrest since Kabila, 45, announced that the polls would be delayed.

Last week about 50 people died in clashes between security forces and protesters angered by what opposition groups charge is Kabilas plan to retain power unlawfully through the indefinite postponement of a vote.

Supporters of Kabila, whose second term in office expires in December, say logistical and financial constraints mean it is impossible to hold fair polls as planned.

Opposition leaders last week told the Guardian they planned further street protests, despite the deaths.

The new sanctions target Maj Gen Gabriel Amisi Kumba and John Numbi, a former senior police official.

Any financial assets they have in the US are blocked and Americans are generally barred from engaging in financial transactions with them.

The decision to sanction the pair followed increasing indications that the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to suppress political opposition in the country, often through violent means, the US Treasury said in a statement.

Both men are members of Kabilas inner circle, and are believed to be among those who have encouraged the president to take a hard line against local protesters.

Amisi oversees security forces in four provinces, including Kinshasa. Units under his command reportedly have engaged in violent repression of political demonstrations, including January 2015 protests in which at least 42 people died, the announcement said.

Amisi was promoted to his current post despite having been suspended from the army after a 2012 UN report accusing him of selling arms and ammunition to illegal armed groups known to commit atrocities and poachers. Amisi was never prosecuted by the Congolese military justice system for these alleged crimes.

A former rebel, Amisi is a colourful figure who is president of a top Congolese football team, as well as being one of the most influential people in Kabilas government.

Numbi, the former national inspector of the countrys police force, used violent intimidation to secure victories for pro-Kabila gubernatorial candidates in March 2016 provincial elections, the US Treasury statement said.

The US imposed sanctions on Clestin Kanyama, police commissioner of the capital, Kinshasa, in June.

The move has been welcomed by campaigners.

Holly Dranginis, senior policy analyst at the Enough Project, said the sanctions would put pressure on the regime where it really hurts their finances.

Ida Sawyer, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, also called on the US, the EU and the UN security council to impose sanctions on other senior DRC government, security and intelligence officials.

Taking strong action now could put further pressure on Kabila and help prevent a broader crisis, with potentially volatile repercussions throughout the region, she said.

Kabila took over as leader of the DRC less than two weeks after his father, Laurent, was shot by a bodyguard in the presidential palace in 2001. He was elected president in disputed polls in 2006 and again in 2011. The DRCs constitution bars a third term.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/28/us-sanctions-drc-officials-democratic-republic-congo

Who won the debate? A round-by-round analysis of Clinton v Trump

The first debate of the 2016 campaign was divided by NBC into three sections. Sabrina Siddiqui and Ben Jacobs investigate who won each of them


Round one: Achieving Prosperity

Clinton

Hillary Clinton focused early on policy, laying out an economic agenda that called for reducing income inequality by raising the minimum wage, closing the gender pay gap and eliminating corporate tax loopholes. But she did not miss the opportunity to go after Donald Trump for being the first major-party nominee in more than 40 years to refuse to release his tax returns.

The Republican candidate managed to put his Democratic rival on the defensive on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, forcing her to explain why she came out against the landmark 12-nation trade agreement last year after previously supporting it. But Clinton was able to overcome the question in part because Trump repeatedly shouted over her attempts to answer it placing the focus instead on his aggressive posture. SS

Trump

Donald Trump was strongest early in the debate, when he hit familiar talking points on trade and put Clinton on the back foot, having to defend her flip-flop on TPP and the controversial legacy of Nafta, the free trade agreement signed by her husband that many in the industrial midwest feel has cost manufacturing jobs. An off-key rehearsed line from a stilted Clinton about Trumped-up trickle down economics represented a brief window into what the debate might have been like if Trump had been able to act like a normal candidate for more than 10 minutes.

But the Republican nominee took Clintons bait and played defense on personal attacks almost immediately. After Clinton said: He started his business with $14m, borrowed from his father, Trump immediately responded, rather than turn the focus back on to trade, perhaps his strongest issue. BJ

Round two: Americas Direction

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/27/first-presidential-debate-who-won-each-round

Anthony Vaccarello makes a brazenly sexy debut at Saint Laurent

The Belgian-Italian designers first show for the Parisian house was full of clothes almost exclusively not suitable for work

For Anthony Vaccarello, the solution to the problem of going forward at Saint Laurent came from going back. Tuesday evening in Paris marked the Belgian-Italian designers first show for the Parisian house, following its previous, incredibly successful, four-year reboot by Hedi Slimane.

Arriving at the venue the half-finished HQ of the brand invitees were greeted by a giant neon Yves Saint Laurent logo, originally designed in the early 1960s and conspicuously absent in the Slimane era. Against a couldnt-have-asked-for-better sunset, it was a moment curated for Instagram. A cluster of editors were happily obliging and suddenly an iconic idea of Saint Laurent was resurrected in the most modern of contexts.

The same principle went through the collection that followed this stunt. The logo was the heel of stiletto shoes, earrings, and on the ankle of 10 denier tights. The designs also played on Saint Laurents original work, mostly from the 1980s. Black dominated, often in leather. There were nods to Le Smoking jackets, transparent chiffon blouses and party dresses worthy of Loulou de la Falaise at Le Sept, but nothing was explicit. Instead, after the show, Vacharello, after greeting guests including Amber Valetta and Jane Birkin, said he was inspired by the idea of Saint Laurent.

Vaccarellos aesthetic shares a certain rocknroll sensibility with Slimanes indie-influenced work. But at both his own brand and work with Versus, his designs are more brazenly sexy. The clothes in this show were almost exclusively not suitable for work, with short hemlines, bare breasts and asymmetrical necklines. It was an after-dark-only collection, but styling tricks stopped it from being a period piece.

Anthony
Anthony Vaccarello appears at the end of his Saint Laurent show in Paris. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Models wore little makeup, their hair loose, with slouchy jeans. Some had either biker boots or brogues with socks, a sweetness that contrasted with leather basques and PVC macs. This collection could be seen as a logical next step to Slimanes outgoing one. Shown in March, it was an ode to 1980s nightclubbing.

The new creative director would be foolish not to take heed of his predecessor. Slimane, in his four years in charge, was commercial dynamite for the brand. Revenues were 839m in 2015, up from 609m in 2014. Vaccarello was announced as Slimanes replacement in April. In a statement announcing his appointment, Francesca Bellettini, president and CEO of Saint Laurent, commented that Vaccarello impeccably balances elements of provocative femininity and sharp masculinity in his silhouettes.

Slimanes next move is unclear. He will be awarded around 10m by Saint Laurents parent company, Kering, following a dispute regarding his exit package from the brand. Rumours persist that the designer may be in line to replace Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel when the octogenarian designer decides to retire, or he may launch his own label.

Models
Models wore little makeup, their hair loose, with slouchy jeans. Photograph: Thibault Camus/AP

Other debuts this fashion week see women designers moving into positions more recently held by men. The relative unknown Bouchra Jarrar will show her first collection for Lanvin on Wednesday and Maria Grazia Chiuri ex of Valentino does the same at Christian Dior on Friday.

Chiuri is the first female designer to take up the Dior helm in the houses nearly 60-year history. Her work at Valentino with creative partner Pierpaolo Piccioli since 2008 has gained fans for its modern, younger take on femininity. Chiuris Dior is set to be one of the most anticipated shows of the week.

Newer labels are gaining hype with an aesthetic that has more of a street edge to it. Tuesday had shows from Koch and Jacquemus both brands led by a new generation of Paris designers, playing with sportswear and staples such as trenches in new ways.

This new mood for Paris is further emphasised with street labels from America Rihannas Fenty Puma line and Virgil Ablohs Off White also on the Paris schedule, both with shows on Wednesday.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/sep/27/anthony-vaccarello-brazenly-sexy-debut-yves-saint-laurent-paris-fashion-week

What an Eiffel: Paris approves proposal for nudist park

Lawmakers in the French capital vote to set up designated clothes-free area on citys edge

Paris could set up a park for nudists as early as next summer, in a possible first for a capital city, in a country that is the worlds top destination for clothes-free leisure lovers.

Paris lawmakers voted late on Monday to approve a proposal by ecologists to set up the zone, possibly in one of two major wooded areas on the edge of the city.

Naturism is developing and Paris so far has nowhere to practise it, said David Belliard, co-chair of the ecologist group in the city council.

He noted that 2 million French people practise naturism, which is already possible in several European cities including Barcelona, Berlin and Munich.

With more than 100 clothes-free beaches and numerous holiday camps, France is the worlds No 1 destination for naturists, said Bruno Julliard, deputy to Pariss socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo.

Describing the respectable demand for somewhere to bare all in the French capital, he said the next step was to choose a location.

This could be in one of Pariss two main woods the Bois de Boulogne to the west, and Bois de Vincennes to the east near a lake, in a regulated setting so that there is no threat to public order, he added.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/26/what-an-eiffel-paris-approves-proposal-for-nudist-park

How would Salesforce, Google and Disney benefit from buying Twitter?

Each rumored sale would have advantages except ABC News-owner Disney, which poses the risk of causing competitors to refrain from using the platform

Twitter is being sold to Disney. No, Microsoft. No, Salesforce. No, Alphabet. The troubled, often controversial microblogging service is suddenly the prettiest tech company at the dance, with suitors clandestinely announced through media outlets including Bloomberg and CNBC throughout the weekend and into Monday morning. None have yet confessed they are serious.

Twitter closed at $18.63 per share on Thursday, the day before the rumors started; by the time the bell rang on Monday afternoon, the stock had reached heights of $23.37, up further than the stock has been since January.

Each sale has its apparent advantages the Salesforce and Alphabet negotiations were initiated by Twitter executives themselves, according to Reuters. Alphabet has been trying to get into social media since the good old days when it was called Google, with Google Wave, Google Buzz and more recently Google+.

Microsofts incentives would seem to be similar the companys recent $26.2bn acquisition of LinkedIn points toward a more aggressive social media strategy.

Brian Weiser of Pivotal Research Group told investors the purchase made sense for Google, whose moonshot investments in long-lead engineering and social projects may seem frivolous to investors. We would argue that an acquisition of Twitter would be far better a use of capital than sitting on cash or on investing more in an unrelated business such as, lets say, Google Fiber or self-driving cars, Weiser wrote. There is also the value of securing access to data associated with tweets, as this data can benefit Googles search product. For Alphabet, the question of the appropriateness of an acquisition is simply one of value.

Salesforce can also incorporate the kind of data that Twitter generates into its software. Twitters acquisition would be closer to a merger for Salesforce, which is a far smaller company than Google.

With respect to Disney, the ballgame is much different. The companys ownership of ABC and ABC News, as well as ESPN, suddenly puts every news organization that uses the service to promote, source and engage with news coverage under the aegis of a single news organization-controlling outlet.

The risk to Twitter is that ownership by one news-gathering organization might cause competitors (ie Fox News, CNN, NBC, CBS) to refrain from using the platform or favor a competitor such as Facebook, potentially leading to fewer users of the platform, Weiser wrote. However, we can imagine how usage could hold up or even improve if managed well, meaning that an acquisition could still make sense even if many of its contributors relied on the platform less in the future.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/26/twitter-sale-benefit-buyers-google-disney-salesforce

Les Miles fired as LSU coach after 12 years and national championship

LSU fired their coach Les Miles on Sunday in a move that many had seen coming, despite the fact that he led the school to a national championship in 2007

LSU fired their coach Les Miles on Sunday in a move that many had seen coming, despite the fact that he led the school to a national championship in 2007. His time at LSU has been under constant scrutiny from annoyed fans and boosters who disliked his staid offenses and blunders in game management. His fate was sealed Saturday when the Tigers squandered a late chance to beat Auburn with several mistakes, including snapping the ball on what would have been a game-winning touchdown a second after time ran out.

Despite the mockery of Miles, he had great success at LSU going 134-34 in a 12-year reign. Seven times the Tigers won more than 10 games in a season, twice they played for the national title, but the last two years have been a struggle. LSU went 8-5 in 2014 and 9-3 in 2015. Such records will not stand in the fiercely-competitive Southeastern Conference. Not at a school that believes it should be in the national championship picture every year.

One of Miless biggest critics was former New Orleans Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert, now a radio host in New Orleans, whose son played for Miles at LSU. Hebert once famously confronted Miles at a press conference following the 2011 title loss to Alabama, complaining about his play-calling.

I know this and I actually believe this and people say Oh come on, but I know Ive forgotten more football than Les Miles knows,Hebert said in 2012.

LSU came into the season ranked No5 but Saturdays loss dropped the team to 2-2. In addition to Miles, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has also been let go. Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron (an interim head coach at USC in 2013) has been promoted to head coach, presumably for the rest of the season. LSU host Missouri on Saturday.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/sep/25/les-miles-fired-lsu-college-football

Woeful Ryan Fitzpatrick throws six interceptions in Jets loss to Chiefs

Ryan Fitzpatrick had a game to forget for the Jets, while Russell Wilson was injured during the Seahawks win over the 49ers

Ryan Fitzpatrick is not known for his accuracy and he excelled himself against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, throwing six interceptions as the New York Jets lost 24-3 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Fitzpatrick was coming off a good game against the Buffalo Bills, in which he threw for two touchdowns and 374 yards. But against the Chiefs completed just 20 of his 44 attempts and was picked off six times. He does, at least, find himself in good company: Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Joe Namath (three times) have all thrown six interceptions in a single game.

Elsewhere, Russell Wilson threw for 243 yards and a touchdown before suffering a left knee injury as the Seattle Seahawks rolled to a 37-18 rout of the San Francisco 49ers.

Wilson was injured with about 10 minutes to go in the third quarter getting pulled down awkwardly on a sack by San Franciscos Eli Harold. Harold was called for a horse collar penalty, but the bigger concern was how he fell on Wilsons left leg.

Wilson stayed down on the field for a few moments before walking off. Wilson missed the first play of his career due to injury, but returned to throw one more pass. The completion led to the third of Steven Hauschkas three field goals for a 27-3 lead and after that Wilsons day was done.

Wilson had a brace placed on his left knee, and he never saw the field again, giving the final 1 quarters of the blowout to rookie Trevone Boykin.

Wilson finished 15 of 23 passing, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham. Boykin also threw the first TD pass of his career, hitting Doug Baldwin on a 16-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Baldwin had eight catches for a career-high 164 yards.

It was a big day for Seattles offense that slogged through the first two weeks, scoring just 15 points in the first 120 minutes of the season. The Seahawks nearly matched that total in the first 11 minutes of the game thanks to the first two touchdowns of Christine Michaels career.

Getting the start with Thomas Rawls out because of a shin injury, Michael had TD runs of 41 and 4 yards on Seattles first two drives. Michael rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries, the second 100-yard game of his career.

Carlos Hyde two TD runs in the fourth quarter for San Francisco, but the 49ers had just five first downs entering the fourth quarter and missed on their first 10 third-down attempts. Blaine Gabberts streak of 12 straight games with a touchdown pass ended as he was 14 of 25 for 119 yards and an interception.

In Philadelphia, Carson Wentz threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, a fierce defense shut down Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown and the Eagles beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 to remain unbeaten.

The rookie No2 overall pick connected with Darren Sproles on a 73-yard, catch-and-run TD and tossed a 12-yard TD pass to Jordan Matthews.

After beating the Browns (0-3) and Bears (0-2) in the first two games, the Eagles (3-0) proved they could compete with the big boys. The Steelers (2-1) averaged 31 points the first two weeks and are considered Super Bowl contenders.

Pittsburgh was 19-2 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004. But Wentz is no ordinary rookie.

Everyone is jumping on the Wentz wagon in Philadelphia. And he was the No3 quarterback until Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota just eight days before the season opener.

Sproles finished with six catches for 128 yards and Kenjon Barner and rookie Wendell Smallwood each had their first career rushing TDs.

Roethlisberger had 257 yards passing, one interception and no TDs after tossing six in the first two games. Brown caught 12 passes for 140 yards, most of which after the outcome was decided.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/sep/25/ryan-fitzpatrick-six-interceptions-new-york-jets-nfl

Clinton endorsed by New York Times as Warren says Trump is ‘making hate OK’

As Times calls Clinton tenacious and Trump the worst major party nominee in modern history, Senator Warren hits battleground state New Hampshire

As Hillary Clinton prepared for the first presidential debate against Donald Trump on Monday, campaign surrogates spoke in swing states and the New York Times published a strongly worded endorsement of the former secretary of state.

The Times editorial board said that as first lady, senator for New York and secretary of state, Clinton had shown herself to be one of the most tenacious politicians of her generation, capable of fostering bipartisan cooperation.

It also called Trump the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.

In New Hampshire, where, according to the Real Clear Politics average, Clinton holds a 44% to 38% lead, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren accused Trump and the Republican party of making hate OK. In Ohio, where Trump leads by 45% to 42%, cast members from the 1990s TV show The West Wing, which portrayed an imaginary Democratic administration, hit the stump for Clinton.

Echoing concerns among Democrats about motivating voters, particularly the young, to vote for a candidate who has struggled to generate campaign momentum, the Times editorial board argued that Trumps negative qualities were not enough to merit an endorsement of Clinton.

Running down the other guy wont suffice, wrote the board, which is separate from the newsroom. The best case for Hillary Clinton cannot be, and is not, that she isnt Donald Trump. The best case is, instead, about the challenges this country faces, and Mrs Clintons capacity to rise to them.

A lifetimes commitment to solving problems in the real world qualifies Hillary Clinton for this job, and the country should put her to work, the editorial board added.

Ohio key facts

Addressing Clintons poor poll ratings regarding trust and favourability, it said: Mrs Clintons occasional missteps, combined with attacks on her trustworthiness, have distorted perceptions of her character.

She is one of the most tenacious politicians of her generation, whose willingness to study and correct course is rare in an age of unyielding partisanship.

Grouping as examples the rise of Trump, the Brexit vote for Britain to leave the European Union, the spread of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria and the resurgence of Russia under Vladimir Putin, the Times said the next president would take office with bigoted, tribalist movements and their leaders on the march.

It added: War, terrorism and the pressures of globalization are eroding democratic values, fraying alliances and challenging the ideals of tolerance and charity.

Regarding the candidates long-running battles with the press over her use of a private email server while secretary of state, which flared up again on Friday with the release of FBI notes and the news a judge had ruled some such emails must be released to the public before election day, the Times said: That decision deserved scrutiny, and its had it.

Now, considered alongside the real challenges that will occupy the next president, that email server, which has consumed so much of this campaign, looks like a matter for the help desk.

And, viewed against those challenges, Mr Trump shrinks to his true small-screen, reality-show proportions, as well argue in detail on Monday.

The paper promised a scathing perspective on Trump for Monday, saying he is the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history. In a preview, the Times said the Republican candidate discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway.

New Hampshire: key facts

On the campaign trail in Nashua, Warren spoke to volunteers at a Clinton campaign office. Were here to say hate is not OK, she said. We build a stronger America together thats what this is about.

Warren was scheduled to make three stops in the state, where a Senate contest between incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte and Democratic governor Maggie Hassan remains close. Warren sought to tie Ayotte to Trump the senator has said she would stand up to Trump but nonetheless vote for him saying she had not thought a major presidential candidate would base a campaign on scapegoating Mexicans, women and Muslims.

What Donald Trump is doing is not what any of us thought a man whos running for president would do, she said. Hes found something much uglier that he wants to make the basis of his campaign.

Warren was also critical of the ultra-conservative Texas senator Ted Cruz, who on Friday said he would vote for Trump despite having denounced him, while they were primary rivals, for Trumps personal attacks against the senators wife and father.

In July, Cruz refused to endorse Trump in a speech to the Republican convention, earning boos, then explained his speech by saying he was not a servile puppy.

Explaining his decision in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday, Cruz said: Even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable.

On Saturday, Warren asked: Is that really what your word is worth, Ted Cruz?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/sep/24/hillary-clinton-endorsement-new-york-times-donald-trump-elizabeth-warren

Former Wells Fargo workers file $2.6bn class action lawsuit amid quota scandal

Lawsuit seeks payout for workers in California who tried to meet sales quotas without turning to fraud and ended up fired or demoted, filing says

Two former Wells Fargo employees have filed a class action in California seeking $2.6bn or more for workers who tried to meet aggressive sales quotas without engaging in fraud and were later demoted, forced to resign or fired.

The lawsuit on behalf of people who worked for Wells Fargo in California over the past 10 years, including current employees, focuses on those who followed the rules and were penalized for not meeting sales quotas.

Wells Fargo fired or demoted employees who failed to meet unrealistic quotas while at the same time providing promotions to employees who met these quotas by opening fraudulent accounts, said the lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday in California superior court in Los Angeles County.

Wells Fargo has fired some 5,300 employees for opening as many as 2m accounts in customers names without authorization from those customers. On 8 September, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a Los Angeles prosecutor announced a $185m settlement with the bank.

The revelations are a severe hit to Wells Fargos reputation. During the financial crisis, the bank trumpeted being conservative in contrast with its rivals. A Wells Fargo spokesman on Saturday declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses Wells Fargo of wrongful termination, unlawful business practices and failure to pay wages, overtime and penalties under California law.

Former employees Alexander Polonsky and Brian Zaghi allege Wells Fargo managers pressed workers to meet quotas of 10 accounts per day, required progress reports several times daily and reprimanded workers who fell short.

Polonsky and Zaghi filed applications matching customer requests and were counselled, demoted and later terminated, the lawsuit says.

While executives at the top benefited from the activity, the blame landed on thousands of $12-per-hour employees who tried to meet the quotas and were often required to work off the clock to do so, the lawsuit said.

Employees with a conscience who tried to meet quotas without engaging in fraud were the biggest victims, losing wages and benefits and facing anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment, the lawsuit said.

Wells Fargo was aware many accounts were illegally opened, unwanted, carried a zero balance, or were simply a result of unethical business practices, the lawsuit said.

Wells Fargo knew that their unreasonable quotas were driving these unethical behaviors that were used to fraudulently increase their stock price and benefit the CEO at the expense of the low level employees, the lawsuit said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/24/wells-fargo-scandal-class-action-lawsuit-sales-quota

China and Russia lead list of Yahoo hack suspects but some doubt theory

It doesnt fit the normal intent of state-sponsored attacks, some experts say, pointing to the lack of detailed information from Yahoo about the hack

If Yahoo is to be believed in its assertion that a nation-state hacked into its network and made off with user data from 500m accounts, then there are a few obvious suspects, including China and Russia.

However, Yahoo has not provided any detailed information about the attack, leading some security experts to raise questions over its origin. Why would nation-states be interested in or motivated to hack Yahoo?

It doesnt fit the normal intent or objectives of nation-state attacks. Its not really espionage, its not retaliation, sabotage or for financial gain, said Constant Karagiannis, chief technology officer of Security Consulting at BT Americas.

Its less embarrassing for Yahoo to attribute an attack to a nation state, which typically have the most sophisticated hacking capabilities, than to attribute it to a cybercriminal group or individual particularly as Yahoo is in the middle of being acquired by Verizon for $4.8bn.

Instead of 10-15 people in a basement working together you are talking about 10,000-15,000 cyber warriors working over the course of a few weeks, he said.

Another US-based academic security researcher, who did not wish to be named, said: I dont buy it at all. I absolutely reject out of hand that it was state sponsored.

He did not think that Yahoo was being untruthful about the breach, but suspected that the investigation teams may have fallen victim to confirmation bias.

They are thinking it must be a state sponsor and they look in their logs as they do forensics with this expectation. Its very likely they saw something associated with other attacks linked to a state and connected the dots, he said.

Dan Tentler, founder of Phobos Group, used to work with Bob Lord, Yahoos chief security officer, when he was at Twitter.

In his defense he was handed a pre-compromised infrastructure, Tentler said, referring to the fact that the Yahoo breach took place in 2014 and Bob Lord only joined Yahoo in October 2015. But he was unable to detect attackers on the network he inherited.

The Guardian understands Yahoo only detected the breach after investigating an earlier alleged breach of 200m user account details. A hacker called Peace posted the data, claiming it was from Yahoo user accounts, on to a dark web marketplace, the Real Deal.

While investigating this alleged hack, Yahoo discovered the much bigger breach announced on Thursday. The Guardian has learned Yahoo has consulted highly respected forensic friends to deduce that this was a state-sponsored attack.

Not everyone is so skeptical about the attribution. Jeremiah Grossman, the chief of security strategy at SentinelOne, said: There are certainly questions to be answered around Yahoos claim that this was a state-sponsored hacker and theyve provided no evidence to back up their statement.

That said, Im very familiar with those who work on Yahoos security team, who are very competent and experience. As such, Im inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

He cites Chinese state-sponsored attacks on Google in 2010, dubbed Operation Aurora, as an example of nation states targeting technology companies for data.

Senior research scientist Kenneth Geers from Comodo added: Yahoo is a strategic player on the world wide web, which makes it a good and valid target for nation-state intelligence collection.

Yahoo declined to comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/23/yahoo-hack-suspects-china-russia