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President-elect Donald Trump has decided to cancel a meeting with the New York Times, a day after berating media chiefs at his headquarters for “unfair” coverage.

Without elaborating, Donald Trump tweeted that the New York Times had changed the terms of the meeting.

The president-elect posted: “They continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!”

Donald Trump has had an antagonistic relationship with the press, railing against liberal bias, even while benefiting from blanket TV coverage.

On November 22, he tweeted that he had called off his meeting with what he always refers to as the “failing” New York Times.

Donald Trump – known to be an avid consumer of newspapers and news shows – said the New York Times had switched the terms at the last moment, adding: “Not nice.”

However, Jonathan Mahler, a political correspondent for the newspaper, tweeted that it was Donald Trump who had tried to change the rules of engagement.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Jonathan Mahler said Donald Trump had asked for the discussion to be private and off-the-record, but the daily had refused.

The New York Times said it had been unaware the meeting was canceled until Donald Trump tweeted.

Hours later, Hope Hicks, a Trump spokesperson, told reporters at Trump Tower that the meeting was back on.

The NY Times confirmed: “Mr. Trump’s staff has told us that the President Elect’s meeting with The Times is on again.

“He will meet with our publisher off-the-record and that session will be followed by an on-the-record meeting with our journalists and editorial columnists.”

On November 21, Donald Trump invited leading figures from the American TV networks for an off-the-record briefing at Trump Tower, where they were subjected to a tirade about election reporting.

The media executives and anchors – including NBC’s Lester Holt, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos – were apparently expecting to discuss coverage of Donald Trump’s presidency.

But instead he reportedly labeled them “liars” and called journalists the “lowest form of humanity”.

One attendee leaked the details to the New York Post, saying: “The meeting was a total disaster.

“The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down.”

The New York Times reports that during Donald Trump’s complaint about “dishonest” coverage he singled out CNN president Jeffrey Zucker.

The Washington Post reported that Donald Trump also referred to NBC’s Katy Tur and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, without naming them.

Throughout his campaign Donald Trump accused the media of dishonesty, sometimes targeting individual journalists at his rallies and even denying some outlets accreditation to his events.

The Republican feuded with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who later alleged that he had offered her gifts, including hotel stays, in an attempt to influence coverage.

Megyn Kelly said she was not the only journalist who had been offered freebies by Donald Trump.

Two weeks after his shock election victory, Donald Trump has yet to hold a news conference, and media outlets have griped that no president-elect has delayed holding a press briefing for so long since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

The U.S. government just gave first-time homebuyers and other budget-minded house shoppers a big boost with a sweeping rule change that provides federal backing to mortgages with down payments as low as 3 percent. The change manifests in two parallel programs: Fannie Mae’s My Community Mortgage and Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Advantage.

The programs both offer fixed-rate loans for candidates’ primary residences. My Community Mortgage, which opened to buyers and owners in early December, offers loans to applicants with credit scores as low as 620. Its refinancing component will initially be limited to candidates who currently hold Fannie mortgages. Home Possible Advantage, which begins in March, may be open to buyers with even lower credit scores and includes a no-cash-out refinancing program open to all mortgage holders, not just current Freddie customers. It also doesn’t establish a hard credit score floor for purchase loans, broadening the pool of potential borrowers.

First time buying a home? You just got a huge boost from the U.S. government

First time buying a home? You just got a huge boost from the U.S. government

These programs represent the government’s latest effort to assist first time homebuyers and other qualified borrowers to enter the market and become homeowners, but they’re not exactly groundbreaking. Private companies like Prospect Mortgage, a leading national independent mortgage banker  led by Fannie Mae veteran (and former CEO) Michael Williams, have offered HUD eligible purchase and refinancing products with low down payments for years.

During Williams’ tenure, Fannie Mae faced down an existential crisis—the quarter prior to his tenure saw a shocking loss of more than $23 billion—and emerged with its strongest balance sheet and loan pipeline in years. After serving as Board Chairman for over a year, Mr. Williams took on the additional role of CEO at Prospect Mortgage in mid-2014) shortly after returning Fannie to a $5 billion quarterly profit, cementing his reputation as a fearless reformer.

The new Fannie and Freddie programs build on the foundation Mr. Williams laid during his tenure as Fannie CEO. Both promise to reduce barriers to entry for first time homebuyers currently priced out of the housing market.

Despite surging profits at Fannie and Freddie, the housing market recovery remains patchy, disproportionately favoring higher-income buyers and those who already own a home. According to the New York Times, the U.S. homeownership rate currently sits near 64 percent, a multi-year low. And first time homebuyers make up just 29 percent of the pool of prospective buyers, far below the 40 percent historic average.

Structural factors, such as stagnating wage growth at the lower end of the income scale, account for some of the discrepancy. But other factors, including traditional mortgage issuers’ overly strict lending criteria and onerous down payment requirements for first-time buyers and refinancing candidates, are a direct legacy of the recent housing bust.

My Community Mortgage and Home Possible Advantage could significantly improve buyer access at the lower end of the income scale, though experts are divided on just how much help they’ll provide. And Andres Carbacho-Burgos, a respected Moody’s economist, warned that any broadening of access would have to be accompanied by a renewed focus on mortgage monitoring and buyer counseling programs to safeguard against a rise in default rates.

Visit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac online to learn more about their respective programs for first time homebuyers and refinancing candidates.


After 161 years, the New York Times has published a correction to an article on the case portrayed in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave.

The story published on January 20, 1853, chronicles the kidnapping and enslavement of a free black man named Solomon Northup.

In the piece Northup’s name was misspelled twice, as Northrop and Northrup.

The error was discovered after a digital copy circulated in recent days.

After 161 years, the New York Times has published a correction to an article on the case portrayed in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave

After 161 years, the New York Times has published a correction to an article on the case portrayed in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave

Rebecca Skloot, author of the best-selling non-fiction book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, brought the initial error to light, tweeting a link to the story on Monday.

The correction was published in Tuesday’s New York Times.

12 Years a Slave won three Oscars on Sunday: Best Picture, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role by Lupita Nyong’o.

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Chinese hackers have “persistently” infiltrated the New York Times for the last four months, the US paper says.

The New York Times said the attacks coincided with its report into claims that the family of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune.

The hackers used methods which have been “associated with the Chinese military” to target the emails of the report’s writer, the paper said.

China’s foreign ministry dismissed the accusations as “groundless”.

“To arbitrarily assert and to conclude without hard evidence that China participated in such hacking attacks is totally irresponsible,” said spokesman Hong Lei.

“China is also a victim of hacking attacks. Chinese laws clearly forbid hacking attacks, and we hope relevant parties takes a responsible attitude on this issue.”

According to the New York Times, the hackers first broke into their computer system in September, as the report on Wen Jiabao was nearing completion.

The report, which was dismissed as a “smear” by the Chinese government, said Wen Jiabao’s relatives had amassed assets worth at least $2.7 billion through business dealings. It did not accuse the Chinese premier of wrongdoing.

China is sensitive about reports on its leaders, particularly when it comes to their wealth.

The New York Times said the hacking was focused on the computers of David Barboza, the paper’s bureau chief in Shanghai who wrote the report, and one of his predecessors, Jim Yardley.

The New York Times said the attacks coincided with its report into claims that the family of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune

The New York Times said the attacks coincided with its report into claims that the family of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune

Internet security firm Mandiant, which was hired by the Times to trace the attack, followed the hackers’ movements for four months, to try to establish a pattern and block them.

The hackers had installed malware which enabled them to access any computer using the New York Times network, steal the password of every employee, and access 53 personal computers, mostly outside the Times offices.

The security firm found that in an attempt to hide the origin of the attack, it had been routed through computers in US universities which, the paper said, “matches the subterfuge used in many other attacks that Mandiant has tracked to China”.

The Times said experts had found that the attacks “started from the same university computers used by the Chinese military to attack United States military contractors in the past”.

They found the hackers began working for the most part at 08:00 Beijing time.

Mandiant’s chief security officer, Richard Bejtlich, said that “if you look at each attack in isolation, you can’t say, <<This is the Chinese military>>,” but that the similar patterns and targets of the attacks indicated a connection.

“When you see the same group steal data on Chinese dissidents and Tibetan activists, then attack an aerospace company, it starts to push you in the right direction,” he said.

The paper said no personal data of staff or customers was stolen and that no attempt was made to shut down its website.

“They could have wreaked havoc on our systems,” said chief information officer Marc Frons. But he said what they appeared to be looking for were “the names of people who might have provided information to Mr. Barboza”.

There was also no evidence that sensitive emails or files on the Wen family had been accessed, or that the intruders had sought information unrelated to the Wen family, the paper said.


New reports claim that Paula Broadwell’s husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell, sent a letter to New York Times advice column The Ethicist back in July that revealed he knew of her affair with CIA Director David Petraeus.

That intriguing possibility has been raised after canny observers dug out the July 13th edition of Chuck Klosterman’s The Ethicist and pointed to extraordinary coincidences between one readers letter and the now scandalous love tryst.

Writing about a deepening relationship he knew his wife was having with a “government executive” whose job “is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership” the anonymous man offers up what could be considered in hindsight as striking information.

The letter writer explains that “exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort”, and asks The Ethicist whether it is OK for him to “suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project”.

Indeed, he seems pained to make it clear he believes the mission “must succeed” and wants to know if he should confront his wife in some way and “finally force closure” or if he should “suffer in silence for the next year or two”.

The reader tells The Ethicist that has “watched the affair intensify over the last year” – which matches the timeline of the affair from August 2011 until around several months ago.

However, some have questioned whether the coincidences are just that and if the letter really was penned by Scott Broadwell.

Slate writer Allison Benedikt asked: “What government executive is not having an affair with some guy’s wife?”

Another writer with the publication added: “Would anyone really repeatedly refer to heading the CIA as a <<project>>? Doesn’t sound quite right.”

Those supporting the belief that the letter came from Scott Broadwell, point to Chuch Klosterman’s insightful reply to the anonymous man’s dilemma.

He tells the letter writer that he should tell his wife he wanted to separate, “just as you would if she were sleeping with the mailman”.

He claims there is no reason to reveal the affair in a public fashion, but having offered this clear-cut advice he goes slightly further.

“The fact that you’re willing to accept your wife’s infidelity for some greater political good is beyond honorable,” replied Chuck Klosterman on July 13th to the letter.

“In fact, it’s so over-the-top honorable that I’m not sure I believe your motives are real.

“Part of me wonders why you’re even posing this question, particularly in a column that is printed in The New York Times.

“I halfway suspect you’re writing this letter because you want specific people to read this column and deduce who is involved and what’s really going on behind closed doors (without actually addressing the conflict in person).

“That’s not ethical, either.”


Paula Broadwell served in the military for more than a decade, lives in Charlotte with her radiologist husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell

Paula Broadwell served in the military for more than a decade, lives in Charlotte with her radiologist husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell

Heartbroken Husband or Whistleblower? The New York Times Letter in Full

“My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.)

I have met with him on several occasions, and he has been gracious. (I doubt if he is aware of my knowledge.) I have watched the affair intensify over the last year, and I have also benefited from his generosity.

He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort.

My issue: Should I acknowledge this affair and finally force closure? Should I suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project I feel must succeed?

Should I be <<true to my heart>> and walk away from the entire miserable situation and put the episode behind me?” NAME WITHHELD


The New York Times has announced that access to its website is being blocked inside China after it published an investigation into wealth accumulated by relatives of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

In its report, the New York Times said Wen Jiabao’s family members “have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion”.

Holdings included property, insurance and construction firms, it said.

Both the NYT‘s Chinese and English sites are blocked, as are references to the report on micro-blogging sites.

“Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership,” the newspaper wrote in a lengthy report.

“In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners.”

The family’s investments reportedly spanned several sectors. The newspaper cited one holding as Ping An, an insurance company which it said had benefited from reforms enacted in 2004 by a state body over which Wen Jiabao had oversight.

It said that partnerships controlled by Wen Jiabao’s relatives, along with their friends and colleagues, had bought into the firm before its IPO, or stock market flotation, in 2004, and held as much as $2.2bn in the company in 2007.

The newspaper said both the Chinese government and Wen Jiabao’s relatives declined to comment on the investigation, which was based on corporate records from 1992-2012.

No holdings were found in Wen Jiaobao’s name, it said, nor was it possible “to determine from the documents whether he recused himself from any decisions that might have affected his relatives’ holdings, or whether they received preferential treatment on investments”.

China is sensitive about reports on its leaders, particularly when it comes to their wealth.

A growing wealth gap is causing public discontent, as are the frequent corruption scandals involving government officials.

When, in June 2012, a Bloomberg investigative report examined the finances of the relatives of president-in-waiting Xi Jinping, the company’s website was blocked in China – even though the report said there was no indication of wrongdoing by him or his family.

Wen Jiabao has been the Chinese premier for almost 10 years. He is due to step down in a power transition that begins on 8 November.

He is seen as a popular figure with the common touch, and is portrayed in state media as a leader with great concern for the lives of ordinary people.

A spokeswoman for the New York Times said she hoped that full access to the websites would be “restored shortly” in China.

On China’s Twitter-like Weibo platforms, keywords such as Wen Jiabao and the New York Times are blocked. Wen Jiabao’s name, like most other Chinese leaders, has always been a screened keyword.

Some netizens did manage to post the article despite heavy and rapid censorship. A Sina Weibo user tweeted about the article from Kawagoe city in Japan, but his post was removed after 11 minutes.

“The Twist Your Waist Times says the best actor has $2.7bn of assets. I just wonder how will he spend it?” asked a Tencent Weibo user registered in the British West Indies territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Twist your waist” in Chinese characters sounds like New York when spoken, while “best actor” refers to Wen Jiabao, who critics say only pretends to be a people-first leader.

Wen Jiabao:

• Became premier in March 2003, charged with overseeing the economy

• Portrayed in state media as a man who cares for the public

• Began career in provincial geology bureau but was quickly promoted

• Seen as a economic reformist critical of Bo Xilai’s “Chongqing model” and “Red” policies

NYT: Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader

The White House has denied a report in the New York Times saying that Iran had agreed to one-on-one negotiations over its nuclear programme with the US.

The report, quoting unnamed officials, said Iran had agreed to the talks for the first time but would not hold them until after US elections on 6 November.

The White House said it was prepared to meet Iran bilaterally, but that there was no plan to do so.

Western states think Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, something it denies.

Iran has been a key foreign policy topic in the US election campaign.

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will hold their third and final campaign debate on Monday, on the subject of foreign policy.

The New York Times report said the US and Iran had agreed to one-on-one negotiations “in principle”.

But US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement that it was untrue the US and Iran had “agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections”.

“We continue to work… on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally,” he added.

Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 negotiation group – which includes the UK, US, France, China, Russia and Germany – have stalled.

Western nations have used increasingly harsh sanctions in an effort to pressure Iran over its nuclear programme.

Mitt Romney has accused Barack Obama of being too soft on Iran.

Barack Obama opposes a near-term military strike by the US or Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities, but says he is determined to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

“The president has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and we will do what we must to achieve that,” Tommy Vietor said.

“The onus is on the Iranians to do so, otherwise they will continue to face crippling sanctions and increased pressure.”



Former US President George W. Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda – but failed to take them seriously, it was claimed today.

On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it has been reported that the White House received multiple briefs between May and August 2001 about an attack with explosives and numerous casualties.

But George W. Bush continually failed to take any significant action and questioned the thoroughness of the briefings – leading to huge frustrations within the CIA.

These repeated warnings came before the famous top secret briefing – which has previously been reported – given to George Bush on August 6 with the heading “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.”.

Just a few weeks later on September 11, terrorists smashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City – killing nearly 3,000 people and horrifying the world.

Details of the other briefings given to George W. Bush and his administration – which have never been made public – have now been revealed by The New York Times.

And they paint a startling picture of negligence at the heart of the U.S. government before 9/11.

The White House was made aware of potential attacks in the spring and, by May 1, was told by the CIA that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist attack, the Times reported.

In another daily brief on June 22, the administration was told that Al Qaeda strikes could be “imminent”.

President George W. Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda

President George W. Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda

However, the new neoconservative leaders at the Pentagon told the White House that the CIA had been fooled.

They believed that Osama Bin Laden was pretending to plan an attack to distract the U.S. from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Following this, the CIA prepared another daily brief for June 29 in which they listed over a page the evidence which they had built up.

This included an interview with a journalist from the Middle East in which aides of Bin Laden warned of an upcoming attack.

The briefing also included: “The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden.”

It also included details from people close to Osama Bin Laden which claimed the expected attacks would have dramatic consequences with many casualties.

Another warning on July 1 said despite the attack being delayed it would soon take place.

But despite these warnings the White House did not appear to take them as seriously as the CIA was demanding.

The Times reports that officials within the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center became increasingly angry and in one meeting an official suggested the staff request a transfer so they could not be blamed when the attack occurred.

The White House was also told that the extremist Ibn Al-Khattab – known for his links to Al Qaeda – told his followers in Chechnya that there would “be big news soon”, the Times reported.

George W. Bush was told on July 24 that the attack was still being prepared but added that it had been postponed by a few months. However, he did not think the briefings were adequate and requested a much more detailed analysis of Al Qaeda.

This was to be the famous briefing of August 6 which was eventually declassified by the White House in April 2004 and made public.

“The administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed,” Kurt Eichenwald wrote in the piece for the New York Times.

“In other words, the August 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.”

Following the devastating attacks on 9/11, the White House – which was receiving criticism it had ignored CIA warnings – said it had never been told when or where the attacks would take place.

Yet many have claimed that if the government had been on high security alert over that summer they may have found out about the planned attack – and saved the lives of thousands.

Yet George Pataki, New York state governor on 9/11, laid into Eichenwald during a joint appearance on MSNBC for writing the New York Times article about the briefings.

“I just think this is incredibly unfortunate, to be perfectly honest. Because first of all, having been there, on September 11th and for weeks, months thereafter President Bush provided inspired, effective leadership,” George Pataki, a Republican, said.

“On September 11th everything changed and to look 11 years later and say, <<Aha, this was happening before September 11th in the summer>> and go though and selectively say, <<You should’ve done that, you should’ve done that>> I think is incredibly unfair and a disservice to history.

“And by the way if you look back there are those who could have said that President Roosevelt was at fault for Pearl Harbor. But the government didn’t look back and say, <<let’s blame the President>>; we came together to fight an important war.”



May 1, 2001 CIA told White House that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation “with explosives”

June 22, 2001 CIA brief reported that Al Qaeda attacks could be “imminent”

June 29, 2001 Warning that the government needed to take briefs seriously. Added evidence included Osama Bin Laden aides warning of an attack and operatives claiming it would have “dramatic consequences”

July 1, 2001 Brief said the operation had been delayed but “will occur soon”

July 9, 2001 Extremist in Chechnya linked to Al Qaeda told followers there would soon be big news – and within 48 hours the information was passed to the White House

July 24, 2001 George W. Bush told the attack was still under preparation but that it had been postponed

August 6, 2001 George W. Bush received review of threats posed by Al Qaeda with headline: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”



Apple is reportedly considering buying a stake in Twitter worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The technology giant, which has stumbled on the social media front, has been in talks with Twitter in recent months about the strategic investment, according to The New York Times.

Apple’s hefty injection of funds would value the social networking powerhouse at more than $10 billion, up from an $8.4 billion valuation last year, the newspaper’s sources said.

Apple has had huge success selling its iPhones and iPads but has had little traction in the fast-growing social media world.

As social media, accessed on computers and mobile devices, increasingly influences how people spend their time and money, Apple, which also sells applications, games, music and movies, is keen to get in on the action.

Apple is reportedly considering buying a stake in Twitter worth hundreds of millions of dollars

Apple is reportedly considering buying a stake in Twitter worth hundreds of millions of dollars

The New York Times said it’s not a done deal and the companies are not in negotiations at the moment. But are likely to form a strong partnership against intensifying competition from the likes of Google and Facebook.

Facebook is aligned with Microsoft, which owns a small stake in it, and Google, which rivals Apple in the smart phone market, is pushing its own social network, Google Plus.

“Apple doesn’t have to own a social network,” Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said at a recent technology conference.

“But does Apple need to be social? Yes.”

Twitter and Apple have already been working together, with the technology leader embedding Twitter features into its software for phones, tablets and computers.

Meanwhile, Twitter has been working to bolster its relationship with Apple, according to The Times.

An investment in Twitter would not be a big financial move for Apple, which has $117 billion in liquid investments, but it would be one of Tim Cook’s most important strategic decisions since taking the helm after Steve Jobs’ stepped down due to illness.

For Twitter, having the backing of a tech icon like Apple would see its valuation shoot up overnight.

Like that of other start-ups, the company’s valuation has languished in the wake of Facebook’s lackluster market debut.

But Twitter does not need Apple’s cash injection. Earlier this year, chief executive Dick Costolo, said the company had “truckloads of money in the bank”.

The Times’ sources reckon this “truckloads” adds up to more than $600 million in cash on hand thanks to a healthy flow of advertising revenue.

Both Apple and Twitter refused to comment in the article, but Dick Costolo said of Apple in a recent interview: “Those guys are a great partner. We think of them as a company that our company looks up to.”


The New York Times has recently reported that Bo Xilai ran a wire-tapping system that extended as far as China’s president Hu Jintao.

Citing “nearly a dozen people with party ties”, the New York Times said the disgraced Bo Xilai ran a wire-tapping network across Chongqing, where he was party chief.

His officials even listened to a phone call involving Hu Jintao, the paper said.

Chinese authorities have not mentioned wire-tapping in reports about Bo Xilai, whose wife, Gu kailai, is being investigated over the death of British businessman, Neil Heywood.

They are investigating Bo Xilai over “serious discipline violations”, while Gu Kailai has been detained as a suspect in the death of Neil Heywood, found dead in Chongqing in November 2011.

Chinese authorities say they believe Neil Heywood was murdered.

The New York Times has recently reported that Bo Xilai ran a wire-tapping system that extended as far as China's president Hu Jintao

The New York Times has recently reported that Bo Xilai ran a wire-tapping system that extended as far as China's president Hu Jintao

Bo Xilai – a high flier once expected to reach the top echelons of office – has not been seen in public since he was removed from his political posts, in the biggest political shake-up in China in years.

Bo Xilai’s wire-tapping operation began several years ago as part of an anti-crime campaign in Chongqing, the New York Times said.

It was handled by Wang Lijun, the police chief whose flight to the US consulate in February signaled the start of Bo Xilai’s downfall, and expanded into targeting political figures.

Last year, the paper reported, operatives were caught intercepting a conversation between the office of President Hu Jintao and Liu Guanglei, a top party law-and-order official whom Wang Lijun had replaced as police chief.

A conversation between Minister of Supervision Ma Wen, who was visiting Chongqing, and President Hu Jintao himself was also monitored, the paper said.

Authorities in Beijing found out and began investigating, straining the relationship between Wang Lijun and Bo Xilai.

The wire-tapping “was seen as a direct challenge to central authorities”, the newspaper reported, citing party insiders.

These new claims will add to the sense that this scandal has exposed deep rifts and mistrust at the very highest level of China’s Communist Party.

Also important were fears that Bo Xilai, seen as a divisive populist, could not be trusted if elevated to the highest levels in the party.

Bo Xilai’s fall from grace comes with China due to begin its once-in-a-decade leadership change in October.

Since the scandal erupted, the lifestyle and political and business dealings of he and his family have come under intense media scrutiny.

Bo Xilai’s brother has resigned as director of a Hong Kong-based company, a day after his son issued a statement defending his lifestyle.