London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned Boris Johnson that the capital needs fresh Covid restrictions as early as Monday if it is to avoid a big spike in the spread of the virus.Khan is also preparing to urge the public to work from home if they can do so, in a switch back to the message used by the government at the height of the lockdown.New modelling shown to the Mayor suggests that London is no longer two weeks behind hotspots like the north east and greater Manchester, but is instead “two or three days behind”, insiders told HuffPost UK.Related... Here’s How Life Will Change Under Coronavirus Curfews Khan is pushing for similar curbs, including 10pm curfews on pubs and a ban on mixing of households, in a desperate bid to impose a firebreak in the spread of Covid.A Mayoral source said: “It’s clear that cases in London are only moving in one direction, we are now just days behind hotspots in the North West and North East.“We can’t afford more delay. Introducing new measures now will help slow the spread of the virus and potentially prevent the need for a fuller lockdown like we saw in March, which could seriously damage the economy once again.”The ‘work from home’ message would be a big shift away from No.10′s own stress just a few weeks ago, when the PM urged workers to go to the office if they could.Related... How To Work From Home And Actually Get Sh*t Done However, many in the civil service as well as big banks and other corporate firms in London have seen staff continue to work remotely.New restrictions, already in place in greater Manchester and some regions, were extended to Lancashire and the north East in recent days.Khan is worried about the rapidly changing situation in the city. Whereas data from a few days ago indicated London was two weeks behind hotspots in the north East and North West, new modelling indicates the city may now only be two or three days behind.The UK recorded 4,422 new daily cases on Saturday and 27 deaths, another sign that the pandemic was beginning to increase its momentum across the country.Friday was the first time the daily total of positive tests had exceeded 4,000 since 8 May.Johnson said on Friday that the UK is “now seeing a second wave” of Covid-19, adding: “It’s been inevitable we’d see it in this country.”He said he did not “want to go into bigger lockdown measures” but that tighter social distancing rules might be necessary.Within hours, Khan was already warning more urgency was needed. “I am of the firm view that we should not wait, as happened six months ago, for this virus to again spiral out of control before taking action,” he said.“The best thing for both public health and the economy is new restrictions imposed early, rather than a full lockdown when it’s too late – but the government must ensure there is a fully functioning testing system.”Professor Neil Ferguson - whose modelling led to the government ordering the national lockdown in March – said on Saturday that said a second lockdown might be needed “sooner rather than later”He warned the country is facing a “perfect storm” following the easing of controls over the summer.The UK introduced a new ‘Rule of Six’ restricting indoor and outdoor gatherings to six people, but it appears not to have had any impact on stemming the spread of the virus.Related... The Rule Of Six: All Your Questions, Answered The government is looking at a temporary two-week “circuit break”, with new controls across England in an attempt to break the chain of transmission and prevent a new spike in the disease.The move could see hospitality and leisure venues forced to close their doors again. Although the break has been proposed by some to coincide with the October half-term for schools, others suggest much greater urgency is needed.Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called for the government to hold an emergency Cobra meeting to look afresh at the science and improve its public messaging so “people can do the right thing”.“If the government are able to do that, we will back them,” she told the BBC.Rayner also said it had been “shocking” to see how “monumentally” the government’s test and trace system had failed.On the eve of Labour’s online ‘Connect’ event that has replaced the annual conference, Keir Starmer told the Sunday Mirror that the PM had to act quickly to get infections under control so that “Christmas is not lost” for millions.“The PM isn’t up to the job. What people have seen for weeks and months is a pattern of refusing to acknowledge a problem exists, then doing a U-turn, and finally shifting the blame on to someone else,” he said.Related... Coronavirus Sceptics And Anti-Vaxxers Told To Disperse Or Face Arrest In Police Clash Holidaymaker Who Went On Pub Crawl Blamed For Bolton’s Coronavirus Spike 8 Myths About Covid-19 Testing, Busted
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A mural of a Black man who died in police custody has been painted opposite a south London police station.Local residents gathered at Lewisham Gateway Project to furnish hoardings with the commemorative piece which was painted by acclaimed street artist Carleen De Sözer.The initiative was organised by anti-racism campaigners Adam Pugh and Sallie Foyeh who both live in the area.Kevin Clarke, 35, told officers “I can’t breathe” as officers placed him into two sets of handcuffs but was “ignored” and then lost consciousness as he was taken to an ambulance, an inquest into his death heard on Monday.He had paranoid schizophrenia and was living at the Jigsaw Project, a residential support service, up until his death on 9 March 2018.Deborah Coles, executive director at human rights charity INQUEST, said the mural is a “really beautiful way of talking about important social and racial justice issues”.“I think what they’re doing is really important; it’s about recognising a life lived but also showing people, through art, that Black people die at the hands of people in the UK. It’s important that debate continues and what a good way to continue it,” Coles told HuffPost UK.“You see Kevin at various stages of his life – from childhood to adulthood – and an inquest is going on about how he lost his life at the hands of police officers.”INQUEST has been supporting Clarke’s family during inquest at Southwark Coroners Court.“It’s a really beautiful way of talking about important social and racial justice issues – and it’s to the credit of everyone involved in this project that they’ve done this,” Coles added.“Especially at a time when the family are going through a heartbreaking and really emotionally difficult process of listening at an inquest to how Kevin died. So this is also for them.”Wendy Clarke, Kevin’s mother, was overwhelmed with emotion over the mural and said she’s speechless.″It means a lot to us, as a family, and the mural will bring about a sense of awareness. There’s too many deaths in police custody and not many people realise the pain and hurt this causes families. “I’m just grateful to everyone who’s been involved with painting this. I’m also happy that it’s right in front of the police station, so they can see it. It’s a beautiful painting – I don’t have words.”A Go Fund Me campaign which raised proceeds towards the mural described Clarke as an active member of the Lewisham community with aspirations to become a football coach.  “Kevin was passionate about helping and supporting many young people in his local area, particularly through sport,” the page read.The move has been strongly opposed by mammoth housing development company Balfour Beatty, HuffPost UK understands.The organisation recently acquired Lewisham Gateway Project in a multimillion pound deal and is building luxury apartments therein.HuffPost UK has approached Balfour Beatty for comment.Clarke would have celebrated his 38th birthday next Sunday.The 35-year-old was in a mental health crisis when he was detained and handcuffed by the police officers in a school playing field.Pc Lee Pidgeon told the inquest that Clarke had begun to get “a bit fidgety” and the use of handcuffs to restrain him was appropriate as he was showing signs of acute behavioural disorder (ABD).Officers placed Clarke in two sets of handcuffs – allegedly due to his size – and in the footage he could be heard groaning, saying “I can’t breathe” and “I’m going to die”. Pc Pidgeon said he had not heard what Clarke said at the time but admitted that in the footage his speech “seems quite clear (and) comprehensible”.When asked by coroner Andrew Harris why Clarke was “ignored” by the officers in attendance, Pc Pidgeon replied “I cannot answer that, sir, I don’t know.”Black people are subject to 16% of use of force by police, despite accounting for just 3% of the population.Further data also shows that the proportion of deaths in police custody of people from Black and minority ethnic groups where restraint is a feature is over two times greater than in other deaths in custody. Related... Anti-Racist Mural In London Is Latest To Be Targeted Following Black Lives Matter Protests Ofcom Dismisses Complaints Over Diversity's Britain's Got Talent Performance MPs Call For Inquiry Into BBC After 'Institutional Racism' Allegations
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When entering my kitchen one day triggered a physical reaction that ended in gagging profusely, I knew something wasn’t right. Despite the fact that my landlord had picked a repulsive countertop, my reaction had more to do with an existential dread to cook than ’80s interior design.Naturally, I had figured my 900-square-foot apartment would eventually feel tired after months upon months of staying within its asbestos-ridden walls during the Covid-19 pandemic. But I was surprised that setting foot in my kitchen was the last thing I wanted to do. From tallying food needs to standing over my stove (an act I had previously loved so dearly), suddenly I was just over it.I’m no stranger to burnout. I’ve worked in both the entertainment and digital publishing industries, where burnout is plentiful. But this was frustrating. Taking out the trash or moving my car for street sweeping is annoying, but tasks that I willingly participate in because I have to. Cooking was something I had previously looked forward to, researched and cultivated. Now, it was my worst enemy. Thinking about food became too much. Eventually, I ended up supporting local restaurants as I watched my bank account empty with each meal.  When I pressed friends and family, they agreed. The topic of food was exhausting. What to eat, from where and when was frustrating. Coupled with the anxiety of sanitising each plastic container, the once-beloved necessity became the ultimate chore. From feeding large families to brainstorming food for ailing relatives, anxiety surrounded every facet. And it felt that food, cooking and eating were the ultimate betrayals during a global pandemic.I sought out professional help. Cary Cherniss is an organisational and community psychologist, emeritus professor of applied psychology at Rutgers University and a published author. His latest book ”Leading with Feeling: Nine Strategies of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership,” came out in July. Here’s how he said we can cope.First, know what burnout looks like“Burnout is a feeling of severe physical and/or emotional exhaustion, resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” Cherniss said. Burnout is typically associated with work, but living in lockdown can lead to the same feeling ― or an even worse one. Before the pandemic, your daily work burnout may have dissipated when you left the office at 6pm. But when you’re working at home full time, the feeling of all-encompassing burnout is overwhelming. “In addition to feelings of depletion, we begin to experience negative feelings toward activities that we previously enjoyed,” Cherniss told HuffPost. “We also become detached from the work. We lose interest in doing it and find it increasingly difficult to motivate ourselves. So, in the case of cooking, doing even a limited amount of it would leave us feeling exhausted, and we would increasingly dislike it. We would avoid doing it as much as possible, and when we had to do it, we would put in the minimal amount of effort and feel resentful about having to do it.”If you’re still scratching your head as to how a passion can turn into a burden, consider your meal options pre-pandemic, compared with now. Before, you could easily grab a coffee and bagel on the go, perhaps lunch at an office cafeteria, and go to a restaurant for dinner. During the pandemic, those options have been taken away or greatly reduced, making preparing food necessary multiple times a day.“Cooking is rewarding for many people. However, it can also become another source of stress and burnout, especially in the environment created by the current pandemic,” Cherniss said. “When people must cook the same things every day, the lack of variety and freedom of choice can lead to stress and burnout. When people feel that cooking is not meaningful and intrinsically rewarding, then it becomes just another chore.”And the myriad ingredient shortages that were common early in the lockdown only increased the pressure.“Obstacles or limitations also contribute to burnout,” Cherniss said. “So, for instance, if one is not able to get many of the ingredients necessary for the kind of cooking that one would like to do, cooking can become a source of frustration and burnout.”And then there’s the pressure to cook for your loved ones. “Having to divide one’s attention among other pressing commitments, such as caring for others who are ill, overseeing children’s learning or managing one’s own illness, also can make it more difficult to invest the time and effort that make cooking pleasurable,” Cherniss said. “As a result, it becomes just one more demand on one’s time.” Add all those elements together, and it’s no wonder you hate cooking. It’s a virtual pressure cooker of anxiety bubbling up in a very small pot.So how to cope? Finding solace in preparing food is vital to survival. Cherniss recommends employing some coping mechanisms.“Setting aside time each day for meaningful, rewarding activity can be especially effective in avoiding burnout,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. Sometimes a few minutes is all we need to recharge. To be meaningful, an activity should involve optimally challenging tasks ― not too difficult but challenging enough so that we feel a sense of accomplishment when we complete the task successfully.” But there also should be variety, Cherniss stressed.“For example, rather than cooking the same things day after day, experiment with new dishes. Autonomy and control also are important: the activity should be something that you choose and that you can do without too much interference or constraints imposed by others. Working with others can also make an activity more rewarding and meaningful. Try cooking with another person sometimes. But keep in mind that working with others can also be a source of conflict and frustration, so it sometimes is better to do an activity that you really like on your own.”It may feel ridiculous to complain about a task that is necessary for survival, but burnout is real in all its various forms. Eventually, you’ll probably circle back to finding the joy in cooking. Meantime, just take it easy.Related... So, Did We Actually Get Better At Cooking During Lockdown? This Crispy Tofu With Spicy Sichuan Glaze Salad Recipe Will Win Over Your Kids Try This Tasty 10-Minute Carbonara Recipe From Gordon Ramsay
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On the heels of celebrity cheerleader Jerry Harris’ arrest on child pornography charges, his former coach, Monica Aldama, said she is “devastated” but that “our children must be protected from abuse and exploitation.”U.S. officials on Thursday arrested Harris, known for his bubbly demeanour as a cast member on the Netflix series Cheer, on federal charges of soliciting a 13-year-old boy for sex at a cheer competition. Harris also asked teenagers to send him sexually explicit photos and videos, the criminal complaint said.“My heart is shattered into a million pieces. I am devastated by this shocking, unexpected news,” Aldama said on Instagram Friday. “Our children must be protected from abuse and exploitation, and I’m praying hard for the victims and everyone affected. Please respect our privacy as our family mourns during this heartbreaking time.” Aldama coaches the Navarro College Bulldogs cheer team and also appears as a contestant on the current season of Dancing With the Stars. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Monica Aldama (@monicaaldama) on Sep 18, 2020 at 12:35am PDTNetflix echoed her comments. “Like everyone we are shocked by this news. Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime, and we respect the legal process,” the streaming service said in a statement sent to Variety.Harris’ arrest came three days after teenage twins filed a lawsuit alleging Harris “sent them sexually explicit photos of himself and cornered one of them in a bathroom and begged for oral sex,” The Associated Press reported.Harris admitted that he asked one of the teens on Snapchat to send him photographs and videos of his genitals and buttocks and repeated that request for more than a year, the criminal complaint said.Before the charges were filed, Harris denied the allegations against him through a spokesperson.“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” the spokesperson told CNN. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.” HuffPost reached out to Harris’ representatives for comment on the charges.Childline - free and confidential support for young people in the UK - 0800 1111
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“I just set up my iPad on a table, I sat in a chair and experimented,” said David Bradley, the Harry Potter and After Life actor when HuffPost UK spoke to him about the filming he’d been doing at the start of lockdown.Filming needn’t be done from home anymore, as the easing of restrictions means shows can return back to studios. This could all change if the pandemic worsens of course, but for now, producers have been given creative license to get back to lights, camera, action!...But what’s it actually like on set?HuffPost UK spoke with Mark De Lisser, vocal coach on ITV’s forthcoming series of The Masked Singer, as well as Jason Maza, producer on soon-to-air Channel 5 thriller The Drowning, to get the scoop on filming during lockdown. First off, it’s a huge creative challenge“Regardless of your production, there will be creative compromises,” explains Jason. “It’s really hard to make art in this situation because it just becomes so clinical.”Jason notes that it’s “very very tough to have fun, or be in the moment” when everything is geared around making the set safe - but finishing filming “felt like an incredible, unbelievable achievement” after months of working out new ways to tell their story while obeying social distancing on set.For Mark De Lisser, not being able to get up close to singers has meant getting creative about how he judges sound.″As a choral director, I want the sound closer to me. I want to work on the diction and I want to work on the blend, but actually, being so far away, due to distancing, you lose so much,” Mark says. He continues: “We use our ears in a completely different way. For the BBC’s VE Day celebrations, filmed under lockdown, I had to really listen hard to make sure everything was balanced and where it needed to be.”Directors also can’t go closer than two metres to actors unless they’re in the same bubble (even the same bubble, people keep the same distance where possible). So if one bubble is comprised fully of actors, the director must distance themselves from the on-screen stars while on set.“Our director Carolina Giammetta had to keep two metres from the cast,” notes Jason. “It’s so much harder to communicate and create that bond. We were fortunate we had a brilliant cast and director, but this is going to be a continual problem.” Distancing on set is also a huge logistical challenge (that costs loads of money)It’s not just hard to tell the story properly with social distancing in place - it’s a massive administration nightmare too, and costs the earth.“There’s lots of different bubbles. Actors are in one bubble, the director and script supervisor in another bubble, costume in another bubble, and you have to keep two metres away from people in other bubbles,” explains Jason.“Even in terms of facilities - how do I get my crew from unit base to set. Normally we’d be able to do one mini bus. Now we have to put on three or four minibuses, it’s a continual expense to be able to deliver what we want.”Although actors can share social bubbles to avoid social distancing, it’s not always possibleActors are able to get close to one another if they are in a bubble together, but some actors aren’t able to bubble up, such as 74-year-old Deborah Findlay from The Drowning, as she’s in the vulnerable category so couldn’t go near another actor on set.“No one can come within two metres of Deborah on set, which is incredibly tough,” says Jason. “Ultimately there’s compromises you have to make: we had to be creative and find creative logical reasons why she wouldn’t be going up to her son at a funeral,” for instance.Crews have to get clever with camera anglesOne way to make actors in different social bubbles seem closer is by using clever camera angles to give the impression people are nearer than they really are.“We ask which camera angles can we use to sell it the best we can,” Jason says. “We use a lot of long lenses, which create the illusion they’re closer together.” Actors occasionally need to get close to the crew, which sometimes means they need to wear masks“Sometimes actors have to wear masks during their take as they’re close to the camera person,” explains Jason. “It’s really not ideal: acting’s all about being in the moment, listening, connecting, reacting: all of that’s out of the window.” When you have a mask on you need to be a better communicator which ultimately means that filming can take longer, costing more money. Although actors wore masks in certain unique instances when filming, the masks won’t actually be seen in the finished show due to more clever camera angles.Mark De Lisser reckons The Masked Singer couldn’t feel more pertinent right now.“We joked the other day that The Masked Singer is probably the best prepared show in the world for a pandemic because it’s all about masks,” he says.He agrees that it’s a huge inconvenience not to be able to go closer to the contestants. In the past, he says “you might be a little more tactile, but now there’s absolutely none of that. You have to be two metres apart and there has to be a perspex screen.”And when things go wrong, it means reacting at lightening speed“We had one incident,” reveals Jason. “We had an actor coming in to start, so he got tested, and found out he had Covid on Saturday. We had to recast on the Saturday, get them tested on Saturday, results on the Sunday, they were Covid free so were allowed to shoot on the Monday.“I can’t begin to tell you what would have happened if that’d been an actor that shot previous continuity, and then had to come back to finish off the show. It just would have been an absolute nightmare.”Elsewhere in entertainment, socially distanced audiences are becoming more popularStrictly Come Dancing, which returns to screens later this autumn, has been the focus of discussions around what to do about a live studio audience.For many shows like Strictly, having a live audience has been crucial to creating the energetic atmosphere. This year the show delayed revealing details about whether they’d have a studio audience or not due to the changing status of the virus.However, they have just announced they will return with a minimal, masked-up audience. Others shows that have returned with reduced, socially distant studio audiences include QI and Have I Got News For You. The Graham Norton Show is also set to return with a socially-distanced audience and guests.Real-life partners of actors are being dragged on setEastEnders has enlisted the real-life partners of actors for kissing scenes on the show, and is using clever camera angles to make actors and their real-life love interests appear as if they are characters on the show.People from the real-life social bubbles of the actors are also being called in to play extras on the soap opera. The show recently returned to the BBC after dropping off air earlier in the summer when they ran out of canned episodes and had to halt filming due to the virus.What’s the bottom line?Ultimately, producers are doing all they can to keep actors safe on set by following the guidelines, but bosses can only go so far and cannot control what actors and crew get up to on their own time, says Jason.He asserts that there’s no magic answer for how to get shows back in production smoothly until there’s a vaccine, and in the short-term, filming is just incredibly hard work.“I think there just has to be an understanding that trying to shoot with Covid is very very difficult and anyone that manages to get through their production without a hiccup has honestly virtually achieved a miracle.”There’s no magic answer...“We’re still learning, it’s a continual process,” says Jason. “It’s incredibly tough to shoot with Covid, that’s just the reality of it.”READ MORE 7 Netflix Hidden Gems That You Won't Believe Have Passed You By How The Coronavirus Is Being Written Into Film And TV Drama This Is What It's Like Acting From Home In Isolation
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As I took a nighttime walk with my 13-year-old son, ten days into the pandemic, I asked him why he wanted his dad to move into our basement. He launched into a pitch citing statistics and facts about how “particulate could penetrate hospital masks,” until I interrupted him.“Can you tell me from your emotions? Don’t talk from your brain.”We walked for about 20 seconds before his voice went soft and sincere. “I’m worried he’ll get sick and I’m worried about him on his own. I know him, solitude doesn’t suit him.”When my partner left me after 28 years, I was devastated. He made me feel small, betrayed and helpless. The last thing I wanted at that uncertain time was to share a home again with my own private Thanos. But hearing this, bam, just like that, I unlocked the door to the AirBnB in the house my ex and I were fighting over.The night before he moved in, I closed my eyes and said out loud to the empty room we had once shared: “I’m going to take this opportunity to create a better, more respectful relationship with my ex.” My ex moved in on a Thursday. We were at each other’s throats by Monday.We may never have another opportunity to renew our friendship, I reasoned, or to be the parents our son needs. Most of all, I wanted to keep our son safe. As infections and death tolls around the world mounted, I didn’t want my son travelling back and forth across the city just because we have shared custody.I was scared and needed my child close by. The problem was that my kid was also frightened, and he wanted his dad there, too.My ex moved in on a Thursday. We were at each other’s throats by Monday.My coddling and his short fuse all felt like deja vu, but this time around I knew what was behind the compulsive cleaning and grammar-correcting that he used to vent his frustrations. This time I didn’t try to make him happy.Soon, the quibbling became part of the lockdown routine. There was nothing to be late for, no pick ups or drop offs — just endless days of computer screens, hand wringing and pacing through rooms that, up until recently, had felt cleansed of the hurt left over from the end of our marriage.My chest felt tight and I stopped sleeping. My eyes would snap open in the middle of the night and I’d picture him two floors below, in my house, again. Mornings became a time of anxiety knowing we’d soon come face to face.I recognized the person I was becoming. It was me from two years ago, from a decade ago, when our relationship was a source of constant anxiety. This was the me that needed to be heard and believed. “Reframe it,” I thought. “It’s a gift, and it may never happen again.”Nonetheless, many days into it I told him I was afraid he was going to leave us again. As it slipped out of my mouth, I realized that I wanted him to stay. Maybe to help parent, to live through this crisis — to be my ally — so I wasn’t alone in the most uncertain time of all our lives. But what I saw was someone far more afraid than I was that I might still want him. I could tell he was keeping more than his social distance from me. He had never had a friend like me, even though I considered him my best friend at one time. He still couldn’t seem to see how amazing the world was, or I was; only the faults. Sometimes our laughter came easily, and it all almost felt normal.In the weeks after our split, I got a dog – a sort of “divorce support animal” — so there was this crazy-ass pit bull around all the time. I could tell my ex had a soft spot for her. One day, I asked him how it felt to play with her or pet her. “I’m just trying to help with your stupid dog,” he scoffed. But, I could see it. I got this dog to rescue me and my son, and now it appeared she was also rescuing him. Very slowly.That day, I allowed myself to feel a little bit of optimism. Being stuck together in lockdown began to feel like a metaphor for the inescapable responsibility we shared as our son’s parents. We started to play Dungeons and Dragons as a family, and video games where each character must cooperate to complete the quest. We began to make dinners together, and play with the dog.When it was just me and my ex, we talked of anti-racism, and J.K. Rowling’s missteps, and the Spanish Flu, and the end of fossil fuels. Once we quietly contemplated our fears, whispering of things that once seemed so far away, but were now as real and alarming as the upcoming school term.Sometimes, our laughter came easily, and it all almost felt normal. But other times, it was self-conscious and awkward.“We need to go back to doing things separately. We can’t ‘play house’ anymore.”I hope that one day my son will look back on this time and realise that his parents did a great thing for him.My ex’s sharp words stung like a slap across the face. I had asked him if he wanted to go to a cottage with me and our son for a few days, after what had felt like a period of relative calm. We avoided each other that night. Finally, I allowed his rebuke to sink in: We were not a family, not even a strange one.Ontario entered Stage 2 of lockdown in June. In July, Stage 3 began. The initial panic of the pandemic started to subside, and my ex packed up his bags for the second time in our lives.We had lived through pain, tears, screaming matches, recycling, diapers, laughter, music and, yes, love for 28 years. Then he left. Then he came back. And after three months of infection rates, Zoom calls, online math quizzes and dog walks, he was leaving again. This time, I was okay when he exited my life. I was whole. I can’t say how he felt, but I imagine his mood was a little bit lighter and that he enjoyed his own company a little bit more. I hope that one day my son will look back on this time and realise that his parents did a great thing for him, something my parents, many parents, would not have done.This article first appeared on HuffPost Canada PersonalMore from HuffPost UK Personal Sex After Miscarriage Is Hard. This Is How We Got Back Into The Swing Coronavirus Stole My Favourite Pastime: Chatting With Strangers Society Expects Black Single Mums To Fail. I Won’t Be Written Off
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When you think of fine wine, your mind may wander to the gently sloping vineyards of Bordeaux in the south of France or California’s wine country – but perhaps you need to look closer to home. Because British wine is on the up.There are fields of new vineyards being planted on our shores, driven by the excellent sales of English sparkling wines. Yes, we can do fizz, too. Annual production has doubled from just over six million bottles per year in 2014 to more than 15.6 million bottles in England and Wales in 2018.After years of uncertainty around Brexit and coronavirus making travel to Europe an ongoing gamble, the booze cruise is currently a non-starter. But in place of of hopping over the channel to fill up the car boot with French plonk, why not turn your attention – and taste buds – to wines made right here in the UK.  Wondering where to start? Here’s what you need to know about the scene how to look for the perfect pour.Related... How To Make A Perfect Wine Spritzer Without A Recipe Sunnier spells, better harvestAccording to the Wine Standards Board of the Food Standards Agency, there are now more than 700 vineyards planted, spanning 2,000 hectares – a 75% increase in the past six years alone. The recent warmer and drier summers, coupled with a better understanding of soils and micro-climates, mean English vineyards are producing greater yields than ever. “The sunnier climate has improved winemaking in the UK massively,” Kristin Syltevik, owner of Oxney Organic Estate in East Sussex, explains to HuffPost UK. “It’s obviously quite scary the earth is getting hotter, but a couple of degrees over the years has benefited us.“Obviously, people have been growing grapes in England for many years, and vineyards across the country have been growing Germanic hybrids and different varieties, but they’re not always the tastiest or the best grapes. Now we can grow types such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which require a hotter climate.”If you’re looking for an autumn holiday or a short weekend staycation, take a tour of an English vineyard and stay the night. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but right now is harvest season and it’s the best time to visit.Kent and Sussex are host to a glut of producers, but there are vineyards as far afield as Cornwall and Shropshire and Suffolk – even some in sunny Yorkshire.Mastering our craftOver the years, English winemakers have been honing their craft – where there’s no direct competition, winemakers learn from one another and it’s a supportive industry – and we’re now seeing the fruit of their labour.“The knowledge and wine accessibility has got a lot better in this country since the mid-noughties, for sure,” says Bert Blaize, expert sommelier, head of food and drink at Birch Community and co-author of wine guide, Which, Wine, When.“People are curious and more open-minded to try new things rather than just saying, ‘I only drink Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.’ 2018 and 2019 were two of the best English wine vintages we’ve ever had a record in this country.”More people are willing to take a punt on English wines than ever this year, he says – the pandemic encouraged us to shop more locally, seasonally, and opt for artisanal produce when supermarkets shelves were bare from panic-buying.“Of course, it takes a long time to kind of convince people that English wine is as good as its European counterparts,” Syltevik adds. “It’ll take us a while to get everyone on the same page, but it’s a brilliant product that’s super tasty and has won many awards. Everyone should give it a try.”  Decisions, decisions, decisionsWhen it comes to English wines, you can find increasingly good varieties on the supermarket shelves, as well as buying directly from vineyards and specialist wine merchants. It’s not always going to be the cheapest option – a good bottle hovers around the £20-£30 mark, but supermarkets have options from as little as £11. Waitrose has a particularly wide selection, Marks and Spencer’s is also good, and Tesco’s website currently has both regular and sparking whites, White wines have make up the bulk of homegrown wine for a while, but English reds are also improving. So what to choose? Organic versus conventional? Classics like Chardonnay or the new English Pinot Noirs? Perhaps something a little out there like Bacchus, Pinot Meunier or Ortega? “I think naturally food and wine just go hand in hand. People are experimenting more with the kind of wines that they’ve been drinking,” Blaize explains. “If you’re not sure what to go for then just break it down. I always like to think about wine, as a condiment. For example, if you’re having fish and chips, you know there’s loads of salt, vinegar, and perhaps lemon for the fish. It’s immediately telling you that you need a lot of acidity, so opt for a white wine that’s really dry with lemony flavours, so something like champagne or cava would pair really well.If you’re still unsure, there are always clues there; you just have to know where to look. “Keep in mind that generic rules don’t really work for wine, because everyone’s palates and taste buds are different and there’s a huge variety of flavour combinations out there,” he suggests. “Part of the fun is experimenting and trying new things.”Related... Our Drinking Problem Got Worse Under Lockdown. Here Are The Facts How The UK’s Beloved Craft Beer Industry Is Adapting To The Lockdown What Drinking On An Empty Stomach Does To Your Body
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The first thing I learn from One America News Network is that there is a new Rolling Stones flagship store opening on Carnaby Street, where “you can always get what you want.” The next is that Donald Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and held a massively successful rally in North Carolina where he condemned mail-in voting. OAN will then tell me that The Atlantic magazine is full of lies and owned by “America’s new George Soros.”What I don’t know at this point on Wednesday morning, only 20 minutes into a 16-hour straight viewing of far-right conspiracy network OAN, is that I will watch its highlight reel of Trump’s rally seven times and the attack on The Atlantic eight times. I will watch a segment on Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination, a meaningless stunt by a far-right Norwegian parliamentarian, at least 10 times. I will watch multiple different hosts recite the same introductions and same scripts, sometimes saying the words along with them in my empty apartment. Because OAN blends its outlandish coverage with everyday banality I will come to know that The Rolling Stones memorabilia store is, at its heart, “about the music.”This has been a breakout year for OAN. For most people, the network is infamous for its conspiracy theories, its employment of far-right activists and White House correspondent Chanel Rion’s absurdly sycophantic questions to the president. (“We’re watching Joe Biden slip very gently into senility, while you’re at the top of your game. What’s your secret?”)  Fact-checking OAN, especially 16-straight hours of it, is basically a Sisyphean taskOAN is ostensibly a news network, with 24-hour coverage and a multimillion-dollar budget. It’s available in at least 35 million households through multiple service providers and has its own streaming app for smart televisions. Trump has repeatedly tweeted praise for the channel and encouraged his followers to watch it. He gave the outlet an exclusive interview during the Republican National Convention, and Trump family members and top associates have repeatedly appeared on its programmes. As the election quickly approaches, it is effectively a media arm of the Trump campaign.Pro-Trump media is often viewed only through brief moments that highlight its most egregious disinformation. This can obscure that part of its function: to produce a kind of information pollution that warps viewers’ perception of reality. It creates an alternate universe where baseless conspiracies mix into legitimate news, major events are ignored and the president can do no wrong. So I’ve decided to binge-watch my way into that reality. As it happens, I chose the day that CNN and The Washington Post score a massive scoop: audio from Trump’s interview with Bob Woodward, in which the president admits – in the early days of the pandemic, which will soon claim 200,000 American lives – that he is purposely downplaying the coronavirus. If I was keeping an eye on Twitter or flipping channels I’d know about this bombshell right away, but on OAN, it barely exists. 7am to noon OAN’s daytime shows typically feature a single host sitting at a desk or a couch in front of a city backdrop or stock market-themed green screen. It should look like any other channel, but even with all the trappings of cable news, there is always an uncanny valley between OAN and a regular network. The lighting and graphics are somehow slightly off, and awkward stock footage such as faceless businessmen shaking hands is embedded in reports. There are minor technical issues and hosts flub their lines along the way. The live ticker at the bottom of the screen for hours has no news; it just constantly scrolls “VISIT OANN.COM | FOLLOW @OANN ON TWITTER.”OAN’s morning programming is incredibly repetitive. Although the hosts change each hour, much of the scripts they read remain the same, and pre-taped news segments air multiple times. What host Stephanie Myers presents just before 7am is sometimes identical to what host Lilia Fifield says an hour later, which is repeated again on Wall to Wall with Greta Wall later in the morning. There is no context or analysis for many news events, such as a fire at a refugee camp in Greece, often just repurposed footage from news agencies or local stations and voiceover that sounds aggregated from news wires like Reuters.These more generic segments are the closest OAN comes to being a straight news channel, which is how its owner Robert Herring Sr. promoted the network when he launched it along with his son Charles in 2013. Herring Sr., a multimillionaire Republican donor, initially touted the network as just-the-facts news without biased commentary. Herring Sr. reportedly played a significant role in making the network’s coverage increasingly right-wing and pro-Trump, and several anchors anonymously told Politico that many on staff are not diehard conservatives but dejected liberals who are simply trying to hold on to a job in broadcasting. OAN quickly morphed into an outright pro-Trump outlet that aired his rallies in full during the 2016 presidential election campaign and now lauds his administration. The shift has made OAN a rising star in the right-wing media ecosystem, resulting in the president repeatedly praising the station on Twitter and giving OAN closer access into Trump World. Ratings are allegedly up 55% compared with last year, Charles Herring told Politico. (OAN doesn’t subscribe to industry-standard Nielsen ratings, making it hard to know exact viewership numbers.) Even when OAN isn’t promoting outright misinformation, its choice of what to cover helps shape a world that its conspiratorial coverage then distorts. Portland police being paid increased overtime during protests is elevated to national news and manages to fit in mention of “violent rioters.” A story about a federal ban on imports from China’s Xinjiang province and another on the Pacific nation of Palau inviting the US to build a military base frame America as boldly countering China’s influence. It doesn’t matter that the Palau story is almost a week old, or that the Customs and Border Protection has not made any formal announcement on Xinjiang imports.Where OAN really begins to deviate from reality, however, is in its programming that features guest interviews or pre-taped segments from its better-known personalities. Just after 7am, Fifield introduces a segment from Rion, the White House correspondent, that is an absurd defence of Trump against The Atlantic’s damaging report that the president called Americans who died in war “losers” and “suckers.”“A once-respected journal now finds itself exposed as a privately funded fiction factory for the DNC,” Rion says, claiming that The Atlantic’s reporting, which has been backed up by multiple other outlets including Fox News, “went down in journalistic flames.” The segment baselessly accuses Atlantic journalists of being puppets for owner Laurene Powell-Jobs, whom Rion describes as “America’s new George Soros” who hired a “coterie of pet writers” to do her bidding. Rion, who is also the “curator-at-large” of a word appreciation website that claims to be the “premier destination for lovers of fine words,” lingers on pronouncing “coterie.”The segment airs multiple times just in the first few hours of the day, and as Rion talks about “truth” and “reality,” the words begin to lose any meaning. I become fixated on why there is a large gray smudge in the second “o” of a sinister “anonymous sources” graphic. I watch Powell-Jobs’ headshot slowly pan across the screen over and over.“Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it ultimately prevails,” Rion says in a sentence that will slowly sear its way into my mind over the course of the day.Another piece repeated throughout the morning is a report from OAN’s Pearson Sharp, who sounds like the voice of Moviefone, promoting Trump’s claims that mail-in voting will result in fraud, giving the impression “illegals” will receive ballots and falsely suggesting Hillary Clinton only won the popular vote in 2016 because “almost 6 million ballots went missing” and “just vanished.” Sharp’s source in this segment is a right-wing advocacy group with a history of misleading and debunked statements that is run by a former Trump administration official. OAN will air it six times on Wednesday. Fact-checking OAN, especially 16-straight hours of it, is basically a Sisyphean task. There are simply too many pieces of misinformation per minute to catch up, and the central premise of its coverage is often so misleading that it defies any good faith engagement.Between 7am and noon, OAN runs interviews with right-wing think tankers under the banner “Economists Warn A Biden America Would Destroy Economy” and Sharp talking with a California pro-gun activist who claims billionaires are coming to take away the second amendment. (“Including George Soros?!” Sharp asks.) OAN also brings on Trump pollster John McLaughlin, who condemns “skewed media polls” showing the president trailing Biden and talks about pro-Trump boat parades.“If more people owned boats we’d win this in a landslide,” McLaughlin says.News consumers in the rest of the country, even viewers of Fox News, are seeing a succession of major stories that Wednesday: massive wildfires engulfed large parts of California, where OAN is based, and turned the sky above San Francisco an apocalyptic orange. A Rochester, New York, police chief and his top officials resigned after allegations of covering up police involvement in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who suffocated after officers put a bag over his head during an arrest. But meanwhile, at around 11:20am, OAN airs an unbroken feed of Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf delivering a “state of the homeland” address where he defends the agency’s crackdown on nationwide anti-racism protests. A few hours after this address, it will become public that a DHS official filed a major whistleblower complaint that claims Wolf twice told him to stop reporting on the Russian threat to the US election because it “made Trump look bad.” I will not find out about this until the next day, because OAN will not cover it during the 16 hours I’m watching.Noon to 6pmWhile the rest of the news media covers the Woodward revelations, which broke just before noon, I am looking at OAN still showing a live feed of Wolf’s speech even though he has now stopped talking and left the podium. “There are shuttles waiting outside,” one official helpfully tells the attending audience.When OAN cuts back to the studio, host Jennifer Franco summarises Wolf’s speech and then goes on to introduce a series of stories that include a poll showing Portland’s disapproval of its mayor, a Republican bill to increase pay for law enforcement officers and a Belgian magazine accused of using blackface on its cover. The Atlantic segment airs again. “Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it ultimately prevails,” Rion says.At around 12:10pm, OAN runs a segment bashing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for “flip flopping” on mask policy, and I realise despite multiple stories condemning him, this is the first time in five hours I have heard Biden speak.  It’s exceedingly rare to actually hear from any Democrats or people with dissenting views. Trump is everywhere – on b-roll, speaking at length at his rally and giving live pressers – but Kamala Harris and Biden are only ever mentioned and function as unspeaking villains. A few-second clip of Harris during a segment on former Fox News host Megyn Kelly condemning her for praising police shooting victim Jacob Blake’s family, and another brief clip of Biden talking about masks, are essentially all we hear from them all day.About 5 hours into watching OAN my television asks if I am still there and begins a countdown to turn itself off. I watch for a few seconds then press a button on the remote to stop it. I will solely watch OAN all day, only getting up from in front of the TV to grab food or go to the bathroom. During one commercial break later in the day, I run down to the corner store to buy beer.In the bottom left corner of the screen, OAN has a live feed previewing the upcoming White House press briefing. Before it cuts to the presser, OAN will cover luxury giant LVMH possibly dropping its deal to acquire Tiffany, rerun its segment on Trump being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – now with a quote from the Norwegian far-right politician stating that “Barack Obama did nothing” to receive the award – and report that the Oscars is adding a diversity component to its selection process. The channel will tease a segment promising to reveal the reason the Baylor vs. Louisiana Tech college football game has been postponed. (Several players tested positive for coronavirus, which is not given any broader context.)When the network cuts to the live White House briefing, it only takes a few minutes for reality to Kool-Aid Man its way through the wall of OAN. As soon as White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany opens up the floor to questions, almost every reporter asks about the Woodward tapes. “I’d like to ask you about the Woodward interviews. Did President Trump intentionally mislead the American people about the threat of Covid – a pandemic that has now cost the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans?” CBS White House correspondent Paula Reid says.I don’t know exactly what has happened at this point, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s not good for Trump and has become a big enough story to be simply referred to as the “Woodward interviews.” It also makes me hyperconscious that there are likely a number of important stories that I don’t know about because I’ve instead watched three segments on Eric Trump declaring that the NFL is “officially dead” because Dallas Cowboys players may take a knee. Toward the end of the briefing, McEnany cuts off a question about Trump drawing down troops in Iraq – something I can’t remember if I’m also hearing about for the first time – and calls on OAN’s Rion at the back of the briefing room. Rion asks if Palestinians have “expressed any interest in distancing themselves from Iran, in the interest of Middle East peace.” The biggest story to OAN is still Trump’s peace prize nomination. When OAN cuts back to the studio, Fifield briefly summarises some of what McEnany said in the briefing and then moves right along to other news. Fifield announces that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has praised Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination. The news ticker at the bottom of the screen is working now, and it also reports that Trump has been nominated for the prize.  At a time when any reasonable news outlet could have gotten it together to address the major breaking news story making international headlines, OAN cuts to an unbroken feed of vice president Mike Pence giving a fireside chat to anti-abortion organisation Susan B. Anthony List. Pence laments that the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law restricting access to abortion and vows that it means “we need more conservatives on the Supreme Court of the United States.” Pence wraps up after 2pm, and then it’s back to Greta Wall with the top story that air travel is down over Labor Day. The Atlantic segment airs again.It’s not until around 3pm that OAN addresses the Woodward interviews, which it frames as “the White House shuts down the mainstream media over Bob Woodward’s book.” A short clip of Trump telling Woodward he likes to play down the severity of coronavirus airs, and host Jennifer Franco repeats nearly the same talking points that McEnany used hours earlier during the White House briefing.After a perfunctory acknowledgement of the Woodward interview, the network quickly moves on. Donald Trump Jr. has defended the 17-year-old militia supporter accused of killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during anti-racism protests. Trump Jr. tells Extra “we all do stupid things at 17” and OAN states that Trump Jr. is “waiting for due process” before making judgments. I am getting the impression this is not a banner day for the Trump administration, though on OAN there’s no cause for concern.Trump makes his first live appearance of the day just before 4pm, when he is announcing his list of possible nominees for the Supreme Court. As he goes through his choices, I think I hear senator Josh Hawley called, but wonder if perhaps there is a judge with the same name. I hear senator Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz listed as well, and realise something strange has happened.  OAN moves past Trump’s nominations so fast that I wonder if I had misheard them, and I start to consider what other networks look like. I imagine Twitter is melting down while OAN airs a segment on Walmart considering drone delivery. I don’t know that Cotton has also tweeted “it’s time for Roe v. Wade to go” just moments after Trump named him, and OAN will never mention it for the entire time I’m watching.It is obviously an extreme to get information solely from watching OAN, let alone 16 hours of it, but it’s at least partially reflective of how conservative audiences consume news media. Right-wing audiences tend to receive their information from fewer sources than left-wing audiences, according to Pew Research Center reports, and have high degrees of trust toward those sources while distrusting established news outlets. Media analysts argue that this dynamic makes conservative audiences more susceptible to falling into right-wing echo chambers rife with misinformation.6pm to 11pm Watching OAN for this long gives you the feeling like you’re stuck in an airport in some alternate version of America where press freedom and media independence have evaporated. Even more than Fox News, it’s probably the closest the United States has to something that would feel natural in an authoritarian-leaning country.In Hungary, far-right nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban hollowed out the media to the point where most news outlets are under the control of sympathetic oligarchs who have fired or pushed out anyone critical of the government. It’s not that these outlets have stopped carrying any news, it’s that it is devalued or unreliable and only toes the party line. Meanwhile, the more extreme tabloids traffic in conspiracies and outright government propaganda, and this is what OAN’s prime-time news lineup feels like. Apart from pre-taped segments like the ones Rion and Sharp deliver, the really outlandish conspiracies and intense spin happen during OAN’s nighttime broadcasts. It takes a couple hours of coverage that includes Ohio governor Mike DeWine appearing as a guest to defend Trump over the Woodward interviews and a few ad breaks teasing “what familiar faces from the Senate” made Trump’s Supreme Court list, but by 8pm, the channel is in full swing.“When you have a cold, do we close down the country?” Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway of the duo Diamond and Silk, coronavirus conspiracy theorists and former Fox News pundits, asks OAN host Stephanie Hamill. “I’m getting real tired of science.” Diamond and Silk, who were cut from Fox News after promoting coronavirus conspiracies, go on to falsely suggest that Covid-19 death tolls are being inflated. (Medical experts believe that we are actually undercounting them.)Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it will ultimately prevail.Hamill’s other guests include far-right conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza and several other conservative activists who attack Black Lives Matter and The Atlantic, and go on to call for “strict criminal penalties” for “false rape claims” while discussing the sexual assault allegations against Trump. At one point, Hamill condemns tech platforms for taking down “second amendment groups.”“When they don’t like your ideas they call you a racist. They call you a white supremacist,” Hamill tells one guest.Hamill is followed by Liz Wheeler, whom Trump has singled out for praise on Twitter, and who hosts the show “Tipping Point” with an unblinking intensity. Wheeler’s first segment is a lengthy condemnation of an unknown Rhode Island high school civics teacher, whom she accuses of promoting “anti-Trump indoctrination” for making her students read critical articles from HuffPost, The Daily Beast and The Atlantic. This is a prime-time national news story on OAN.“This teacher is a perfect example of the rot in public schools,” Wheeler says.  “Tipping Point’s” other targets include The Atlantic (again), Kamala Harris and Facebook, which Wheeler accuses of “censoring” one of her videos that was flagged for misinformation. Wheeler’s show mercifully ends at 10 p.m., bringing up the final program of the night: “After Hours” with host Alex Salvi. Although all of OAN’s late-night talent resemble off-brand Fox News hosts, none are less convincing than Salvi, whose show has the cobbled together feel of a last-minute grade school book report.  “Tonight, Donald Trump is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee,” Salvi announces at the top of the show. Salvi claims that Trump did not win his first nomination in 2018 “despite historical precedent being on his side,” giving the nonsensical comparison of president Theodore Roosevelt winning the prize for brokering peace in the 1904 Russo-Japanese war.After playing a clip from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show addressing the Woodward interview, Salvi goes on to dismiss Woodward as simply promoting “another resistance grifter book deal.” Republican National Committee spokesperson Cassie Smedile appears as a guest to back him up.I have now been watching OAN for over 15 straight hours, but even I take notice at Salvi’s next chyron, which reads “Christian Walker: BLM Is KKK In Blackface” and “BLM Is A Domestic Terrorist Organisation That Hurts Black Americans.” The guest is Christian Walker, son of GOP convention speaker Herschel Walker, who tells Salvi that media and elites are on “a campaign to destroy Western civilisation.”  After that hint of far-right extremism, Salvi ends his program by playing part of the trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which he says he saw over the weekend and was “pretty entertaining to say the least.” It all feels like a fever dream, but then the next show begins with the grounding promise to reveal “what familiar faces” Trump has nominated for the Supreme Court. It’s past 11pm and I turn off OAN, knowing that the network’s churn of disinformation will begin again tomorrow and hoping that it hasn’t burrowed into my brain. Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it will ultimately prevail.Related... Trump’s New Campaign Strategy: Declare The Election Illegitimate Trump’s Latest Coronavirus Comment Slammed As ‘So Cruel And Cynical’ Trump Keeps Retweeting An Obviously Fake Joe Biden Clip
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Thinking about getting a test for Covid-19? If that’s the case, it can be hard to know where to start – after all, there’s so much information out there.Before you set about the task, here are some key testing myths that need putting to bed. Related... How To (Try To) Get A Coronavirus Test Amid Shortages 1. You should get a test if you have a runny nose or sore throat.While you should get a Covid test if you have any of the three main symptoms of Covid-19 – a continuous cough, fever, or loss of (or a change) in sense of taste or smell – you shouldn’t seek a test for other symptoms at this stage, according to government advice.Public Health England (PHE) suggests there’s been a spike in other viruses that cause the common cold, which can cause symptoms including a runny nose, sneezing and a sore throat. But people shouldn’t book tests for these kinds of symptoms.Some people reporting symptoms to the Covid-19 Tracker app might be urged to book a test for the purpose of academic research, despite having different symptoms to the three listed above. Care home residents and staff members are also able to get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.2. It’s only for adults.The Covid-19 tests available in the UK are also available to children.There are two ways to get tested: booking a visit to a test site or ordering a home testing kit. Both methods require you to self-refer via the government’s website and during this process, you’ll need to fill out an online form with some personal details. You can also book a test in this way for someone you live with who is displaying symptoms.The at-home tests, which involve a nasal and throat swab, should be carried out by an adult on children aged 11 and under. Related... When Will We Be Able To Ditch Face Masks? It’s particularly important children are tested if they have symptoms of Covid-19, as they’re less likely to be wearing face masks or social distancing at school.If your child has any of the symptoms listed above, get a test to check if they have coronavirus as soon as possible. While you wait for the test result, you and the rest of your family should self-isolate, and if the test result comes back positive, you should self-isolate as a household for 14 days. 3. If one family member becomes ill, you should all get tested.People should only get tests if they have symptoms of Covid-19, which means if you come down with symptoms and your other half doesn’t, they shouldn’t get tested but should self-isolate. If they don’t come down with symptoms, there’s a likelihood they may be asymptomatic, which means they could still spread the virus around but are not necessarily sick.You can get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms of Covid-19, but government advice is that you shouldn’t order tests for people you live with who do not have these symptoms.4. You can have a test weeks after becoming ill.The coronavirus test widely used in the UK should be carried out within the first five days of experiencing symptoms – anything longer than that and there’s a high chance you’ll get a negative result, even if you do have Covid-19.Urgency is key, which isn’t ideal when lots of people are reporting being unable to get access to tests at all. NHS staff are being forced to stay off work and self-isolate because they cannot access coronavirus tests for themselves or family members, while some people have had to drive long distances to testing facilities, only to be turned away. Related... The Psychology Behind Why Some People Hide That They Have Covid-19 5. You can have a test for free on the NHS if you’re going abroad.Wrong. If you’re going abroad and you need to take a test beforehand for the purposes of being able to travel, you should pay for a private test rather than using the free testing service available on the NHS. Private tests can range in price from £99 right up to £195.6. The test hurts.There’s a widely held belief that having the nasal swab hurts. While it can be a bit uncomfortable or strange, it shouldn’t hurt or be painful. 7. It’s 100% accurate.Unfortunately, the test currently used across the UK can sometimes throw up false negative results – where people have Covid-19 but the test doesn’t flag it up. This could mean some people are unknowingly going about their lives and spreading the virus. It’s been suggested as many as one in five test results could throw up a false negative. Related... The Coronavirus Test Can Throw Up 'False Negative' Results – Why? That said, the test is still the best chance we’ve got of telling us how rapidly Covid-19 is spreading in the community. And it’s mostly offering a good indication of who does and doesn’t have it.It’s also worth noting your doctor might clinically diagnose you with Covid-19 even if your test comes back negative, in which case you will still need to self-isolate.8. It’s easy to get a test if you really need one. Covid-19 tests are like gold dust in some parts of the country right now, leading certain groups to be prioritised for testing – this includes at-risk groups and people living in areas where there is an outbreak.Delays have been attributed to a severe backlog in processing the tests in laboratories, where there’s inability to keep up with current demand.A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told HuffPost UK people should check the government website at different times of the day to try and get a test. “Booking slots for Covid testing sites are made available the evening before for morning appointments, and on the morning for afternoon appointments,” they said.Related... What We Know About The Two New 90-Minute Covid-19 Tests How A 'Circuit Break' Lockdown Works – And Why It's Needed Covid Testing Chaos Sparks Fears People Could Be Forced To Pay
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening. Today’s edition is by Ned Simons. Paul is away.Here We Go AgainEngland looked on the edge of new national restrictions today, as Sage warned there was “widespread growth of the epidemic” across the UK.The R-rate has jumped to between 1.1 and 1.4, up from between 1 and 1.2. The number of new infections is rising by 2% and 7% every day. More than 4,000 new coronavirus cases have been recorded for the first time since May. Keir Starmer has urged the PM to convene a meeting of Cobra and called for “swift, decisive national action”. Nicola Sturgeon has demanded the same.You also only have to look at the latest from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey to see what’s driving the worry.According to the data published today, an average of 6,000 people in England were infected per day between September 4 to 10. This is a “marked increase” on the 3,200 the previous week. The rise appears to be driven by an increase in the number of people testing positive aged 2 to 11, 17 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years.We are yet to see what impact, if any, the “rule of six” which came into force on Monday has had.The figures dropped minutes before the government confirmed local lockdowns would be enforced across parts of the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire. From Tuesday, residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens.Restaurants, pubs and bars will be restricted to table service only, while all leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs and cinemas must close between 10pm and 5am.London is about “two weeks behind” these regions when it came to infection rates, Sadiq Khan warned today, amid suggestions similar rules for the capital are on the cards.At some point it might be easier to count the areas that are not under a local lockdown than the ones that are. As Sky News points out, just under 13 million people, one in five of the UK population, are now under some form of extra controls.A short-term “circuit break” of national restrictions in England would likely see the government attempt to keep business and education up and running while clamping down on the fun stuff such as pubs and household mixing.Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the “good news” was the number of cases being passed on in workplaces was “relatively low”.“Protecting the economy, protecting work and protecting education, protecting schools, these can be done alongside restrictions of our social lives,” he said.The prime minister said earlier this week a second national lockdown would be “wrong” and “disastrous”. But it’s worth remembering there is no precise definition of what a “lockdown” means.Under pressure in July over accusations the country was shut down too late, Hancock claimed the first lockdown actually began on March 16 when he told the Commons “unnecessary social contact should cease”, not March 23 when Boris Johnson said people “must” stay at home. It’s been reported restrictions could be imposed to coincide with October half-term. But that’s five weeks away. Which is a long time in pandemics.Quote Of The Day “He’s enormously, enormously vigorous.”– Matt Hancock defends the prime minister during an interview with Times RadioFriday Cheat SheetHuman rights lawyer Amal Clooney has resigned as a special UK envoy over the government’s plans to break international law over Brexit. London’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display will not take place this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Sadiq Khan confirmed.The US will ban the downloads of the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat on Sunday, with a total ban on the use of the latter, citing national security and data privacy concerns.What I’m Listening ToFiasco - The Battle for Boston tells the story of the movement to desegregate Boston’s public schools—and all the backlash that followed.
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Harvey Weinstein has been stripped of his CBE.The former movie mogul was granted an honorary CBE, for his contribution to the British film industry, in 2004.The 68-year-old is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York after being convicted of rape in February.A notice in The Gazette, the UK’s official public record, said: “The Queen has directed that the appointment of Harvey Weinstein to be an Honorary Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, dated January 19 2004, shall be cancelled and annulled and that his name shall be erased from the Register of the said Order.”Weinstein was once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, with credits such as Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, Good Will Hunting, Gangs Of New York and Shakespeare In Love to his name.He was the man Meryl Streep jokingly called “God” at the 2012 Golden Globes, with his films notching up more than 300 Oscar nominations.Honours can be removed on the advice of the forfeiture committee and with the approval of the Queen.The committee considers whether the holder of an honour has brought the system into disrepute.Senior Labour MP Chi Onwurah has been calling for the CBE to be removed from Weinstein since 2017, the year several women came forward to allege serious sexual misconduct.Announcing his CBE in 2004, Weinstein said at the time: “My life and my career have been greatly influenced and enriched by great British film-makers and authors and so I am especially honoured and humbled to be receiving the CBE.”Prosecutors in Los Angeles have filed a request to extradite Weinstein from New York, in a bid to try the disgraced Hollywood producer on five counts of sexual assault.If successful, it would pave the way for Weinstein to be put on trial again.READ MORE: 'This Is Taking Out The Trash': Rose McGowan Shares Powerful Message After Weinstein Verdict Harvey Weinstein Tests Positive For Coronavirus Harvey Weinstein Reportedly Said Jennifer Aniston 'Should Be Killed'
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Fears that the government may force people to pay for a Covid-19 test are mounting, HuffPost UK understands. It comes after the government’s test and trace service was plunged into fresh chaos this week, with demand far outstripping supply. Health secretary Matt Hancock, who introduced new lockdown measures in the north-east on Thursday, has faced criticism for suggesting people without symptoms are putting pressure on the service. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme on Friday, he said: “I shouldn’t be surprised, as a Conservative and a trained economist, if you make something free and easily accessible then demand often exceeds supply.”He has also hinted in the Commons that “when you have a free service it’s inevitable that demand rises”, sparking concern that new charges could be introduced. Shadow health minister Justin Madders told HuffPost UK he feared people may be forced to pay for a test privately. He said: “We wouldn’t want to see worried people desperate for a test pushed into paying vast sums for costly tests from those profiteering in the private sector.“The testing system is in meltdown. And when testing breaks down, tracing breaks down and infections rise. It is now more urgent than ever that ministers fix testing now.” A new rationing system has been introduced, which sees health workers, the clinically vulnerable and care home residents put at the front of the queue for tests. But, when pressed about the pressure on NHS Test and Trace, Hancock told MPs on Wednesday: “I don’t deny that it is an enormous challenge and when you have a free service it’s inevitable that demand rises.“The challenge is to make sure that we prioritise the tests we have as a nation to those who most need it.”On Friday, he refused to rule out a time-limited second national lockdown after the R rate jumped above 1.0 last week and the daily case count hitting almost 4,000 on Wednesday. Pictures emerged of large queues at testing sites on Thursday and there has been a flurry of reports that the government website is regularly running out of tests. Dido Harding, the head of NHS Test and Trace, was told at a Commons committee hearing on Thursday that she had failed to prepare for the rush, despite ministers frequently warning a second wave was always a possibility. Harding claimed no-one foresaw a peak in demand, but admitted: “Plainly we don’t have enough testing capacity.”When asked whether the government had plans to introduce charging for tests, Downing Street sidestepped the question on Thursday. A spokesperson said: “I’m not aware of any plans to introduce charging.”Related... Are Ministers Spreading The Covid Blame Again, This Time To The Public? No Staff To Swab Dozens Who Turned Up At North East Coronavirus Test Site Revealed: Here's Who Is Actually Running NHS Test And Trace
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If you search social media for “NHS Test and Trace” you’ll find not the latest figures on infections in the UK, nor Boris Johnson’s plan for dealing with them, but post after post of people imploring others to drop “NHS” from the name.Instead, they claim the name – and the negative connotations that result when the system fails to reach its targets – should reflect the private companies that actually run most of the network.Exactly. Can the media stop referring to it as the NHS test and trace scheme. Its a failed Serco Test and Trace scheme. https://t.co/FCVOpRjJyJ— Deborah Meaden (@DeborahMeaden) September 16, 2020“Everyone has NHS Test and Trace hoodies but none of them work for the NHS,” a test site worker employed by a private company who wished to remain anonymous told HuffPost UK.“As far as I can tell, the whole thing is run by private companies as much as humanly possible.”The ‘data processors’Thirty-five organisations are listed as “data processors” involved in the NHS Test and Trace system but only four are NHS bodies. Four are Lighthouse Labs (see below).A further four are Public Health England bodies and another is the Ministry of Defence.The remaining 22 are private companies: ACF Technologies – provided software to enable you to book a test at a regional test siteAmazon – provides logistics for home delivery of test kits, collecting completed test kits from homes and delivering them to labsAmazon Web Services (AWS) – provides digital solution for ordering home test kitsAstraZeneca – analyses samples from the completed test kits Barcode warehouse – provides bar codes for test kitsBoots – provides testers and test supervisors on regional test sitesDeloitte – manages the registration and appointment booking, provides the capability for users to enter sample bar codes and responsible for holding data captured by the registration system and making it available to the NHSDHL – collects completed test kits from homes and delivers to labsEMIS Health – provides Keystone product to enable NPEx to link your test result to your GP recordExperience Lab – provides user or market research for people who have undertaken testsG4S – provides facilities management for some regional test sitesJigsaw24 – provides mobile phones and SIMs for the mobile test units appsKuenhe + Nagel –  Collects completed test kits from homes and delivers to labsLevy – provides facilities management for some regional test sitesPalantir – analyses anonymised dataRandox – supplies home test kits, analyses the samples, informs you of the result of your Randox home test Royal Mail Group – collects completed test kits from homes and delivers to labsSerco -– provides facilities management for some regional test sites”ServerLabs – builds the “digital solution”Sodexo – provides testers on regional test sites, and facilities management for some regional test sitesTeleperformance – provides call centre assistanceTransUnion – provides identity verification checks as part of the registration process for a home test kit The Lighthouse LabsThe Lighthouse Labs are “super labs” set up specifically to test for coronavirus and form a central part of the UK’s fight against the pandemic.There are Lighthouse Lab sites in Glasgow, Milton Keynes and Alderley Park, Cheshire and the project is funded by the UK Government.But while the overall responsibility for the system lies with the Department of Health, they are are managed through a partnership with the Medicines Discovery Catapult, UK Biocentre, the University of Glasgow, GSK, AstraZeneca, the University of Cambridge, and PerkinElmer.Why does it matter?Boris Johnson continues to refer to the “NHS Test and Trace” yet the irony is, when the NHS was actually in charge of the UK’s testing a diagnostic network, it was better perhaps better prepared to deal with a pandemic.Dr Valerie Bevan, a retired microbiologist who helped manage NHS-run labs in the ’90s, told HuffPost UK: “It wasn’t all perfect but there was a network of 52 laboratories and I think what would have happened is that testing could have been ramped up because there was good communication and trained scientists were already there.“In the late 2000s a lot of labs were given over to the private sector, to companies like Serco who managed them. It meant they were independent from the NHS and had to cut costs and be profit-making which was a false economy. “Had a network of laboratories been maintained and properly resourced, it would have kept pace with the changes that were happening, so if you had a big outbreak, it would have been prepared for it.”This week, leading doctors groups joined the revolt against the government’s handling of the crisis.Following health secretary Matt Hancock’s admission on Tuesday that tests for Covid-19 will have to be rationed amid a surge in cases, the British Medical Association told HuffPost UK “we don’t have a fit-for-purpose testing system”.Deputy chair Dr David Wrigley, added: “NHS Test and Trace – despite its name – is not an NHS service, it’s a largely outsourced programme that sees numerous private companies given billions of pounds to run testing sites, process samples and manage contact tracing call centres.“Despite billions changing hands, we don’t have a fit-for-purpose testing system. People can’t access tests, they’re not getting results in time, they’re having to isolate for days on end while waiting for results and we see contact tracers failing to reach enough people.”A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “These claims are inaccurate and do not present a fair picture or reflect the huge amount of important work being carried out by our professional and dedicated teams. NHS Test and Trace is made up of public health experts from across the UK, including NHS staff.” Bevan said the solution lies in having a “fully funded system where all public health services including NHS and public health labs are fully integrated”.She added: “I worry that we are heading for a two-tier system where the NHS deals with the routine diagnostic testing and the extraordinary is dealt with by the private sector.”Related... Here’s How Life Will Change Under Coronavirus Curfews Jacob Rees-Mogg Moans About The 'Endless Carping' Of People Unable To Get Coronavirus Tests
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President Donald Trump on Thursday ramped up his most forceful campaign message: That the coming election is illegitimate unless he wins.“Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to ‘voters’, or wherever, this year, the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want. Another election disaster yesterday. Stop Ballot Madness!” he said in a morning statement posted to Twitter.“The only way [Democrats] can win is to cheat, in my opinion,” he said during a morning interview with Fox Sports Radio.Neither assertion is new. Trump has been falsely claiming that mail voting is rife with fraud for several months, and in recent weeks has been repeatedly claiming that the only way Democrat Joe Biden could defeat him in November would be to cheat.Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who led the House Intelligence Committee’s successful effort to impeach Trump last year, told HuffPost he has “massive” concerns about Trump declaring an election loss illegitimate.“He may do something to suppress the mail-in vote, to prevent all the mail-in vote to be counted, and then declare victory,” Goldman said.Trump’s staff did not respond to HuffPost queries regarding Trump’s statements.In the past, White House officials have said he wants to avoid voter and ballot fraud, and have tried to make a distinction between mail ballots specifically requested by a voter and those that are automatically sent out to all registered voters or to all registered voters who have voted recently.Trump, however, explained clearly why he opposed mail voting in a March 30 interview with Fox News. He said he opposed legislation that would have paid for coronavirus-related expansion of mail voting because: “They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”Despite that admission, Trump has continued to falsely claim that mail voting is fraudulent. At times, his attempts at explanation have bordered on nonsensical.“It is a much easier thing for a foreign power, whether it’s Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, many others, people — countries you wouldn’t expect — it’s much easier for them to forge ballots and send them in. It’s much easier for them to cheat with universal mail-in ballots,” he said at an August 7 news conference at his New Jersey golf course. Ten weeks earlier, at a visit to a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, he claimed: “They pirate these applications, they print new voting forms, and then they send them around, people sign them, or one person signs them with different pens and a different signature every time.”Both claims, however, fundamentally misconstrue how ballots are tracked and tabulated. While every state has its own rules, one common feature for mail ballots is a unique identifier ― typically a computer bar code ― for each ballot envelope, experts said. Every envelope also has to be signed by the voter, and that signature is compared to the one on file when the voter registered.Unless the envelope and signature match that of a registered voter, the ballot is rejected and not counted.All of which raises the question of how, even if a foreign actor did manage to forge millions of ballots, those ballots could then be introduced into the system so they would be counted as valid.“You are now going to have North Korean or Chinese agents signing them? It seems a bit far-fetched,” said Daniel Smith, a voting systems expert and political science professor at the University of Florida. “You are trying to commit electoral fraud by retail theft? That’s not how masterminds work these days.”Smith said that nefarious actors’ best chance of manipulating an election are in those jurisdictions where votes are recorded directly on a computer, with no paper ballot. He added that mail ballots are less prone to rigging precisely because they are, by definition, all paper ballots.He said the president’s efforts make a lot more sense when it is understood that Trump in 2016 did far better with voters who cast their ballots on Election Day than those who either voted early or by mail. If Trump believes that his base of supporters will turn out for him on November 3, then making it harder to vote by mail will help his re-election efforts, Smith said, because the suppressed voters will be those less likely to vote for him.“The president is trying to sow confusion among the electorate that is understandably concerned about voting in person, perhaps to dampen turnout among those who are not likely voters,” he said. “He wants to delegitimize voting by mail.”Related... White House Axed Postal Service Plan To Send 5 Masks To Every American Household: Report James Corden Notices A Weird Pattern With Trump's Photos Cher Attacks Trump Over Covid 'Herd Mentality' Remarks: 'Seems 200k Dead Isn’t Enough Carnage'
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As a person who’s dealt with anxiety since I was a kid, I find that I’m often most anxious first thing in the morning. When I open my eyes, all of the worries and potential stressors that await me flood my mind. The pit in my stomach makes me want to stay in bed as long as I can so I don’t have to face the day ahead. Of course, this avoidance only exacerbates what I’m feeling. What alleviates it is just the opposite: Getting up on the earlier side so I have time for my morning routine. These days, that’s making an iced coffee, taking my dog for a walk, following a short workout video, writing my to-do list for the day and ― when time permits ― meditating and journaling. “Morning routines are powerful and set our pattern for the rest of the day,” Lee Chambers, an environmental psychologist and well-being consultant in Britain, told HuffPost. “A worry-filled morning will often flood into an anxious afternoon.” Conversely, starting the morning with intention creates a sense of calm and confidence that makes the rest of the day seem more manageable. So how do you create those morning rituals that will quiet your racing mind and stick with them? Below, experts offer some helpful advice.  How to start a solid morning routineConsider how much time you can realistically carve out for yourself. “We all have a period of the morning that we have some level of control over,” Chambers said. “For some people, that may be an hour, for others, it may be 20 minutes.”For example, if you have young kids or a long commute to the office, you may have less time to work with. So figure out what’s realistic for your circumstances.Waking up earlier may help your mornings feel less frazzled. That said, you shouldn’t force yourself into becoming an early riser at the expense of getting a full night’s rest. Remember that sleep plays a pivotal role in your emotional regulation. “Often we hear of routines that start in the early hours of the morning,” Chambers said. “For some people, this is a high-energy time and a perfect time to start your routine. But if you’re limiting your sleep or you just don’t function well so early, it is going to be detrimental.”Experiment to figure out which rituals work best for you.Finding out which morning routine additions alleviate your anxiety may take some trial and error. What works for your partner, friend or that random influencer you follow on Instagram may or may not work for you. “Think about your biggest stressors and problems that trigger your anxiety, and then consider what really helps in these situations,” Chambers said. “Then look to those activities and experiment. There are many ways and methods to exercise, plan, journal, listen and read, and some will feel just right for you.”Make it easy and enjoyable so you stick with it. You don’t need to come up with some elaborate 20-step process to reap the benefits of a morning routine (but, hey, if you want to, more power to you).“Morning routines are most effective when we enjoy them and they are easy to integrate into our lives,” Chambers said. “They are not about completely changing what we do, but adding small, positive changes that compound together.”Morning routines are most effective when we enjoy them and they are easy to integrate into our lives.Lee Chambers, environmental psychologist and well-being consultantOne way to make the morning smoother? Do some preparation the night before, like laying out your workout clothes, whipping up a make-ahead breakfast or putting your journal by your coffeemaker. “Leave things to trigger you to remember, make what you need accessible and craft a space where it is possible,” Chambers said. But know that you’re not going to execute your routine perfectly every day ― and that’s OK. You might be on a roll for a couple of weeks and then fall off for a few days. If you mentally prepare for these hiccups, you’ll be less likely to beat yourself up when they happen. “It’s easy to move into judgment and criticism of yourself when things don’t go as you would have wanted or when you don’t immediately want to jump out of bed in the morning to start a new routine,” said marriage and family therapist Lynsie Seely of Wellspace SF in San Francisco. “Expect that there will be difficult moments and connect with your internal voice that offers kind words and encouragement along the way.”And when you do follow your routine, give yourself some praise. “Celebrate a little,” Chambers said. “Similarly, when you miss it, be kind to yourself and get prepared for the following morning.”Some habits worth trying to incorporate into your morningWe asked mental health professionals to recommend some practices that help soothe anxiety. Try out a few of these and check in with how you feel afterwards — but know that it may take some time to see the benefits. Then you can determine if you want to add any to your a.m. routine.1. Start your day by drinking water. Before you have your tea or coffee, hydrate with a glass of a water as soon as you wake up. “It gives us increased cognitive function, allowing us more clarity of mind, can elevate our mood and energy, and promotes more balanced emotional regulation and takes less than a minute,” Chambers said. “And it’s a great habit to stack your next part of the routine into, and you can even prepare your water the evening before.”2. Walk outside. Taking a walk outdoors is a calming, grounding way to begin the day.  “It is also great as it gets sunlight into our eyes, stimulating serotonin, which boosts our mood,” Chambers said. “It also ignites our senses, as the wind hits our face, sounds of the environment fill our ears and we smell the external world. It makes us mindful and eases our worries in the process.”3. Practice gratitude.Take a moment to reflect on all of the good in your life. You can list a few things in your head, share them with a partner or child, or write them down in a journal.  “Start your day with a grateful heart before you even get up from bed,” said Renato Perez, a Los Angeles psychotherapist. “Start naming all the things you’re grateful for. This could be done through prayer or simply a list you say out loud to the universe or Mother Nature.” 4. Try to avoid checking your phone first thing. Those work emails, text messages, Instagram notifications and news alerts can wait a bit. If you charge your phone by your bed or use it as an alarm clock, you’re going to look at it right when you wake up. Before you know it, you’re sucked in and two minutes of scrolling turns into 20. Try charging your phone across the room so it’s not within reach. Or charge it outside of the bedroom and use an alarm clock instead. “I see so many people who immediately check their work email in the morning, which automatically puts them in ‘work mode’ and makes them feel anxious about the day ahead before they even get out of bed,” said Gina Delucca, a clinical psychologist at Wellspace SF. “Similarly, some people hop on social media or start reading news articles while lying in bed, which may trigger anxiety by reading or seeing something negative or scary.”That doesn’t mean you have to avoid your phone altogether, which just isn’t realistic for most of us. “But I definitely recommend giving yourself some peace and quiet in the morning before the daily grind begins,” Delucca added.5. Take some deep breaths. When you’re anxious, you might notice your breathing is quick and shallow, rather than slow and deep. “This is a part of our body’s natural stress response, and it coincides with a few of the other physical sensations you may notice when you feel anxious — like rapid heart rate, dizziness and upset stomach,” Delucca said. “While we don’t have voluntary control over some of these bodily sensations, we do have control over our breathing, and we can use our breath to help induce a more relaxed state.”Morning routines are powerful and set our pattern for the rest of the day.Lee Chambers, environmental psychologist and well-being consultantThose deep, nourishing inhalations and exhalations stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, producing a sense of calm.“To begin, try to spend a few minutes each morning sitting or lying in a comfortable position, closing your eyes and taking a few slow, controlled, deep breaths,” Delucca said. “Try breathing in through your nose and then breathing out through either your nose or mouth. When you inhale, imagine that you are filling up a balloon in your abdomen rather than just breathing into your chest.”6. Meditate.“There is no better way to quiet the mind than by practicing meditation,” Perez said. “Start small — two to three minutes — and increment every week.”When your mind wanders away, which it inevitably will, gently bring it back to your breath.You can sit in silence, listen to relaxing music, do a guided mediation through an app like Calm, Headspace or Insight Timer, or find one on YouTube. You can also try repeating a mantra — “I am safe, and I will be OK,” is one Delucca suggested. Or do a body scan: Start at the top of your head, bringing awareness to each body part and releasing tension from that area as you slowly work your way down to your toes. 7. Eat a nourishing breakfast. “Our mood is highly influenced by what we eat,” Chambers said.Opt for a balanced breakfast that contains protein, healthful fats, fibre and complex carbohydrates — think a vegetable omelet with avocado toast or oatmeal with nut butter, berries and chia seeds. Refined carbohydrates, such as doughnuts and sugary cereals, can lead to a blood sugar spike and crash, “causing challenges with emotional regulation, which may leave you feeling anxious,” Chambers added. (That said, if the occasional croissant or chocolate chip muffin brings some joy to your morning, it’s totally fine. Food is meant to be enjoyed, after all.)8. Read a few pages from a book. Rather than reading news or catching up on your social media feeds early in the morning, Perez recommends picking up a book that inspires you and reading for a few minutes ― even just five pages. “Find a book that really speaks to you and makes you feel good,” he said.9. Move your body. It could be yoga, walking, running, dancing, cycling, strength-training or even stretching. “When you exercise in the morning, you may notice improved focus and energy during the rest of the day, as well as better sleep at night, which can also help to tame anxiety,” Delucca said. “In addition, exercising in the morning can enhance your mood by giving you a boost of endorphins and a sense of accomplishment at the start of your day.”It’s worth noting that some people report that certain workouts, especially very intense ones, actually stoke their anxiety rather than reduce it. So just be aware of that. “We react differently to exercise, and it is a stressor,” Chambers said. “Exercising with too much intensity for some people can lead them to become fatigued and more likely to feel anxious.”10. Do some visualisation.A visualization practice can help you set the desired tone for your day. If you’re feeling anxious and distracted, perhaps you’d like to feel calm, focused and empowered instead. Seely recommends calling on a memory that evokes that feeling for you. Tune into the small details and sensations of the experience. “For example, if I’m visualising a memory where I hiked up to the peak of a mountain and I’m overlooking the summit, I might notice the details of the incredible view, the sounds of nature around me, the feel of my muscles after climbing the steep terrain, the smell and temperature of the air, the sensation of feeling accomplished, proud, unstoppable,” she said. “Really getting into every sensation of the memory helps your body to soak in the experience and primes your physiology for that particular state of being ― in this example, empowered and ready to take on the day.”And if you can’t think of a specific memory, allow yourself to daydream and build the desired experience in your imagination. How to stick to your morning routine You may think your biggest stumbling blocks are a lack of willpower or hitting the snooze button half a dozen times. But often it “comes down to a lack of clarity with the routine,” Delucca said. “You’re more likely to follow through on behaviour change when you set clear and specific goals versus vague aspirations,” she added. So instead of saying something general, like, “I want to work out in the morning,” make the goal more concrete: “I’m going to do a virtual yoga class at 7:30 a.m. after I finish my tea.”Delucca also recommends getting up around the same time each day and outlining what specific activities you want to incorporate into your routine and in what order. It may help to write them down. “When you do something repeatedly in the same order, you can eventually develop a habit,” Delucca said. “When a habit is formed, you’re not solely relying on how you feel in the moment in terms of your mood, motivation or willpower. Habits feel automatic without any guesswork as to what you should do next.”She offered the example of taking a shower. You likely shampoo, condition, shave and wash your body in a specific order without giving it much thought. “It’s automatic because the routine is clear and you’ve created a habit in which one action flows directly into the next action without any questioning,” Delucca said. “So, try to be as specific and consistent as possible when creating a morning routine. Each activity will serve as a cue for the next, and with time, your morning routine will flow.”Related... Here’s How To Cope With Lockdown Déjà Vu Rachel Khoo: 'The Pandemic Has Left Me Without Work' 'Can We Have A Quick Chat?' The Office Phrase We Definitely Don't Miss Also on HuffPost
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Does it sometimes feel like your kids have you wrapped around their little finger? As I write this, I find myself nodding emphatically – only this morning, my son badgered me incessantly about wanting a chocolate chip brioche, and I was so stressed about getting his shoes on for the school run that I agreed to it, despite our usual “no snacks before 10am” mandate. My son, who’s four, still drinks milk before bedtime – and often wakes up during the night for it, too. I want it to stop, but I don’t know how – not without us all getting a lot less sleep. And I’m not alone in letting my kids occasionally call the shots. One mum told me her children are so used to her singing them a goodnight lullaby, that when she went away for the weekend they kicked off; refusing to settle down for the person looking after them and demanding she FaceTime them to belt it out.Ask any parent: all we want is an easy life. But every time we find ourselves ‘giving in’ to our kids, we worry, blame ourselves, feel a huge sense of mum guilt and panic we’re in danger of raising little monsters. Related... The 'End Of Summer' Tantrums Are Back. Here's How To Deal. It’s easy to slip into bad habits – we’re human. “It’s often a case of ‘short term gain, long term pain’,” author and parenting expert Liat Hughes Joshi tells HuffPost UK. “If we’re tired, stressed or overwhelmed, we go with a parenting tactic that solves things quickly. But there comes a time when you realise this is not actually the right way to go longer term – and you need to move on.”Kids like familiarity and routine, says Dr Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of the Good Play Guide – and that’s fine, but if you get into a rigid routine then kids aren’t able to be flexible and adaptable, which is vital for their development and future learning. “How to deal with uncertainty is a life skill we need to teach our kids - especially at the moment,” she tells HuffPost UK. “If it’s a bad behaviour they’ve been getting away with because they’re little, but as they get older it’s less cute – such as sticking their tongue out – find an occasion and mark it,” she says. “You can make a big deal of their age; tell them, ‘you’re eight, now! So, we don’t do that anymore, but instead, you can do this!’ Replace it with something positive.”Kids like familiarity and routine.Dr Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of the Good Play GuideJoshi recommends speaking to your children, assuming they’re old enough to understand this at a basic level (so, four or five plus), about setting a new routine. “Sit them down in a nice relaxed way, perhaps with a hot chocolate or healthy treat. Call it a ‘family meeting’, if you like,” she says. Explain to them that now they’re older – “and kids love this, because they love being made to feel more grown up” – you need to find new ways of doing whatever it is that needs changing. It might be the bedtime routine, or changes to screen time rules.It’s important to explain to your kids why things need to change, adds Joshi, but emphasise that it’s something you can tackle together. “Work together on the fresh solution so your child feels involved, but make it clear – and be clear to yourself – that you are the parent, and you make the final decision on how things are done. By involving them in the ‘reset’, even if it is only a little, your child is more likely to be positive about the change and be on board with it.”Related... Parents, Stop Pretending Everything Is Fine. This Is Hard As Hell. It’s important parents show their kids that they’re okay with the changes, too, says Dr Gummer. “If you’re feeling a bit guilty or anxious about not reading a story, or singing a goodnight lullaby, your kids might hear that,” she says. “If you’re more positive about it, you’re putting the ‘parent-centred parenting model’ in action: you’re saying it’s fine and emphasising the positives of what you’re doing. Don’t make it the child’s fault, and try to resist the pangs of guilt.”Dr Gummer also had tips for parents (like me) whose kids still have night-time crutches, such as drinking milk. “Put a glass of water by his bed,” she advises. “Give him a snack before bedtime – an apple or some crackers – instead of milk. Remind him that he’s a ‘big boy’, now – and big boys have water, not milk. Let him choose the cup he has beside his bed, and remind him he doesn’t need to wake anyone else up, he can just reach for it, himself. “If it’s a bad habit you’re trying to get rid of, link it to an event and make it a big deal – a celebration, that the child is old enough not to do that, anymore.” Related... So, Is Christmas Cancelled? Coronavirus Experts Make Their Predictions Lockdown Let Me Be A More Present Dad – And Partner Coronavirus Has Ruined My Sense Of Taste And Smell For Months
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You’re reading Sex Diaries, a HuffPost UK Personal series about how we are (or aren’t) having sex. To share your story, get in touch on [email protected] Eleven months ago, I lost a baby. Now, they should be a brother or sister to our five-year-old daughter. Miscarriages are hard – emotionally, physically, and, because of that, sexually.  Sex is what led to the loss in the first place, after all. The end of a ‘non-viable pregnancy’ can take its toll on you and your relationship. And the mental as well as bodily impact bleeds into the way you feel about yourself. Your self-worth and confidence takes a knock, and your understanding of what you are capable of is rocked.  It might be the first time you’ve dealt with a close loss and the grief can feel new, and raw.My loss was an ectopic pregnancy.  The fertilised egg, and then the tiny foetus it became, implanted itself into the fallopian tube rather than in the uterus.  The foetus continues to grow (albeit at a slower rate than usual) and if it’s not caught in time, the fallopian tube will burst, which can lead to death.I’m writing this to you now, so obviously I was lucky.  Once an internal ultrasound established that the pregnancy was not viable, I was rushed into surgery later that day – a straightforward keyhole procedure that meant I was back home a day later, sore but walking. Just three tiny dressings to show for my stay, and paracetamol to numb the pain.The first time we had sex after the surgery, I was nervous, with the ghost of the ectopic pregnancy hanging over us.Mentally, the recovery takes much longer. I was tired, stressed and teary, but I didn’t know how to process my feelings. I had no benchmark to set them against, and I closed in on myself like a daisy at night. I didn’t mean to close myself off from my husband at the same time. Intimacy of course was off the cards for a while – the bruising and scars more than anything else putting paid to any levels of passion, but we also didn’t seem to understand each other, and communication was in fits and starts. We’d been casually trying for a baby when the ectopic pregnancy happened, but I found that my husband didn’t feel the loss as I did. I might not have understood why I found myself crying on the floor of the shower a couple of days later, but I had assumed he’d feel something of the same rawness. In reality, he was more focused on the fact that I was safe and sound rather than a tiny cluster of cells.  As the weeks passed, and I – we – worked through the emotional impact of my self-perceived failure and the grief for the death of potential with both my therapist and our couples therapist (we love therapy), our communication lines started to open again and my grief abated.  te relief was immense – being able to revive intimacy with the person with whom all this had started, and reconnect with myself.The first time we had sex after the surgery, I was nervous, with the ghost of the ectopic pregnancy hanging over us.  But we took it slowly and gently.  Afterwards I cried, and I was low post-coitally a few times after that. Even a few months later, thinking I’d come through to the other side, I would find that a difficult few days or particularly hormonal part of my cycle would have me blubbering again after sex. My husband would hold me and comfort me, but he sympathised, rather than empathised with my upset. I found his soothing words lacking, because he didn’t really know what to say, and so his condolence felt false.It took a long time before we re-found our swing, yet again.  And the relief was immense – being able to revive intimacy with the person with whom all this had started, and reconnect with myself.  I’ve been open about the fact that my post-partum sex journey was also not an easy one, and it took years before my husband and I were able to have fulfilling and loving sex again after the birth of our daughter.  So I was overjoyed to find that we could still click after this second setback. Looking back, it’s only normal that it would take some time to heal from an experience such as the loss of a baby and that one or both of your will suffer difficult emotional associations with sex afterwards. Put in a societal context, it’s easy to understand why. We don’t talk about miscarriages and we don’t talk about sex. We only trumpet healthy pregnancies, births, hint at how great our sex lives and marriages are.  When you go through it, you realise that under the surface there must be plenty of others experiencing the same thing.  They’re just hiding it away too.Clio Wood is Founder of&Breathe, the family wellbeing company, and passionate women’s wellbeing advocate.  She [email protected] on InstagramHave a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on [email protected] HuffPost UK Personal Sex Diaries This Is How Our Bad Sex Education Shaped My Sexuality My Virginity Is Empowering, Not Embarrassing I Thought I Liked Being Dominated. I Just Didn’t Have The Confidence To Ask For What I Wanted
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Not So Splendid IsolationAfter a few days of Brexit muscling in on the news agenda (with horrible flashbacks of the hung parliament hell of a year ago), coronavirus returned to dominate Westminster today. From Matt Hancock’s new local lockdown and extra NHS cash to Dido Harding’s Test and Trace problems, Covid was everywhere, so to speak.And what struck me most was that while politicians and officials daren’t explicitly blame the Great British Public for the alarming new spread of the virus, it’s clear that’s where they think the real responsibility lies.Hancock himself again hinted that one reason for the huge demand in tests was that the damned things were free. Explaining the looming rationing of tests (except of course he calls it “prioritising”), he said: “This is the core point: when something is provided for free and demand is therefore high, we have to prioritise where we put our national resources.”He was referring to Leicester, which has a large BAME population. Yet only a few weeks ago, when the health secretary was keen on maximising test applications (even those in any “doubt” about symptoms), insiders told us that one deterrent for some older minority ethnic voters was a fear that tests would carry a charge (as in their ‘home’ countries).Jacob Rees-Mogg’s latest gaffe, suggesting people were “carping” when they say it’s difficult to get tests, perhaps spoke to this wider perception that the pesky public had got it all wrong.Before the science and technology committee, Harding and health minister Lord Bethell also came pretty close to suggesting that the real problem, both with surging demand and with the rise in the virus, was down to Joe Public rather than anything the government had done (like, say, encouraging people into pubs, schools, offices).Giving us the first hard stats for a week, Harding revealed that the online and phone applications for tests was “three to four times the number of tests we currently have available”, which she said was now 242,000 tests a day.But when chairman Greg Clark said that the September surge was “entirely predictable” and more capacity should have been built more quickly, she gave a fascinating reply. “I don’t think anybody was expecting to see the really sizeable increase in demand that we’ve seen over the course of the last few weeks,” she said.‌And then there was this: “In none of the modelling was that expected. We built our capacity plans based on Sage modelling.” It wasn’t as if she was directly trying to blame the scientists but setting out just what drove her actions.Still, Clark’s point seemed valid: wouldn’t any normal reading of human behaviour include teachers, parents and kids requesting more tests when schools went back? She said nobody expected a spike in demand, but plenty did.But Harding had a wider point about testing, in that her surveys had found 27% of those arriving at test centres actually didn’t have symptoms. These were people who had been in contact with someone who had tested positive, but wanted to check themselves to avoid having to self-isolate for 14 days.And she revealed that lots of people were indeed breaking quarantine. Some reasons were valid (“caring responsibilities”), some less so (“they feel they need to pop out to grab something from a shop or they just want some fresh air”). Harding said that “a meaningful percentage” of people find it hard to stick to the full 14 days.Lord Bethell was more robust still, saying “there is a temptation to believe that having a test somehow is a cure, or if not a cure is a way out of your commitment to isolate”. Lockdown fatigue had kicked in too. He added that while “we would never have achieved what we’ve done if the public hadn’t been on our side...people do get tired”.Now I’ve got to declare an interest here. I had to quarantine for 14 days after getting caught out by the short notice imposition of quarantine on returnees from France this summer. I stuck rigidly to the rules, not going out beyond the front door. I can tell you it was no picnic, and at times felt like house arrest. But I am lucky in having online grocery delivery, a nice garden and most important of all the ability to work from home.If you have none of those things, quarantine would be much, much more difficult. Imagine being a builder living in a high rise flat with no internet. Sage research found that 75% of people in self-isolation go shopping, and young men in particular are more likely to go outdoors.One obvious route to improving the quarantine rate would be a quick, proper payment to ensure people aren’t left out of pocket for not working. But today, on Radio 4’s World At One, Pendle Council’s David Whipp revealed that the government’s pilot scheme of £13 a day had been taken up by...four people. Yes, four, in an area with serious coronavirus levels. Unless the payment is an amount workers can live on, it seems the pilot will die on its feet.The overall message from today’s sci and tech session was that the real issue is the public’s failure to self-isolate. Maybe the government’s programme should have been named ‘NHS Test, Trace And Isolate’ from the start, just to get over that message that the first two are useless unless the third leg is adhered to.Of course, if the testing is expanded rapidly, quarantine may be shortened and more palatable. If serious cash is pumped into cutting the cost of self-isolation, if networks can be set up for food deliveries, if the app arrives in time. Until then, we may well see more measures like curfews and rules on not mixing households. Maybe, just maybe, No.10 will reverse its drive to get people back into the office too.But there’s real dilemma for the government: just as they are hinting the public ought to take more responsibility in not applying for needless tests and in complying better with quarantine, the public is losing confidence in the government’s handling of the pandemic.A new YouGov poll today found its net approval score dropped to -33, from -18 last week. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Dido Harding have a big job to do to turn that round. Quote Of The Day“Instead of this endless carping, saying it is difficult to get them, we should actually celebrate the phenomenal success of the British nation in getting up to a quarter of a million tests.”‌– Jacob Rees-Mogg  Thursday Cheat SheetNHS Test and Trace reported a dramatic fall in tests returned within 24 hours, plunging from 66% to 33% for in-person tests in just a week.The UK recorded 21 more coronavirus deaths and 3,395 cases.Almost two million people in the North East of England will be banned from socialising with other households, following a “concerning” rise in Covid-19, Matt Hancock announced. He also unveiled £2.7bn extra for the NHS over winter, and doubled care home infection control cash to £1bn.Former Tory leader Michael Howard warned No.10’s compromise over the Internal Market Bill may not get through the Lords. “The government is still asking Parliament to break international law,” he told the BBC.Transport secretary Grant Shapps put Slovenia and Guadeloupe on the ‘red list’ of countries for quarantine, but said Thailand and Singapore were now free from such curbs.A third of lone parents have received no child maintenance payments at all from their ex-partners during the coronavirus lockdown, a survey shared with HuffPost UK revealed.David Cameron revealed to Times Radio that he volunteered at his local foodbank in Chipping Norton. The news was not universally welcomed. What I’m ReadingChina Is Winning The Trade War - QuartzRelated... Boris Johnson Can Fudge His Brexit Bill, But He Can’t Fudge Covid’s Rise Why The Buck Stops With Johnson And Hancock On Covid Testing Failures Just WTF Does Boris Johnson Think He's Doing? On Covid AND On Brexit?
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I am that person who will tell everybody everything. I can’t help it. My day is not complete without a random encounter with a stranger, usually the person sat next to me on public transport, that starts with light chat before turning into deep conversation about love, life and all the things in-between. Talking helps my mental health, not to mention my commute, and it helps me feel understood, brave, and gives me a sense of belonging. I remember once being on the train to Finsbury Park, torn between ending a relationship or hanging on, when I decided to ask the lady sitting opposite me how you know when you’ve met the right person. She looked surprised, but gave me a familiar smile and asked: ‘’What does your gut say?’’ My eyes lit up.For the rest of the journey she told me about her previous relationships – the ones where she didn’t listen to her gut and paid a heavy price. When she got off, I waved, and she mouthed through the window ‘’do what makes you happy’’.Such simple, potent advice from someone I would never see again. It wasn’t rocket science, but I felt understood. Safe to say, after that conversation, I called things off with him.I miss having a long conversation with people in the supermarkets about how the four-pack of bananas have gone up in price since last week.Growing up, I remember being taught about stranger danger, and not to talk to people I didn’t know. That is perfect advice for little children, but I think it’s bad advice for us adults.According to research, having a conversation with a stranger may leave you happier than you think; and it turns out these seemingly trivial encounters with minor characters in our lives, from the random guy at the dog park to the barista at our local coffee shop, can affect our happiness and sense of human connection on a typical day. It was only when lockdown began it was then how much I realised these tiny interactions with strangers were important to the quality of my life. I miss having a long conversation with people in the supermarkets about how the four-pack of bananas have gone up in price since last week. I miss exchanging giggles with someone on the tube as I chase my suitcase wheeling itself all the way to the end of the carriage. I miss asking the barista to decide what to make for me because I’m an indecisive Aquarius – and I miss getting into a conversation about why on earth these horoscope apps are so damn accurate and triggering before we laugh and exchange goodbyes, knowing that we might not meet again. So why don’t we speak more often with strangers? Let’s be honest, most of us are worried about saying something stupid, or talking too much, or over spilling. And then there’s the worry they might even shut us down – the very same fear of rejection that stops us going after all the daring things we want in life.That’s exactly why I believe talking to strangers matters so much. It invites people to challenge our belief system, question everything we think we know about the world around us. It encourages us to be the best versions of ourselves too – allowing only people we know to interact with us shields us from criticism. When we actively choose to avoid and ignore people that are not like us, it is frankly far more damaging than any discomfort that will come from engaging in a conversation. Being uncomfortable, in my experience, is good for you – how do we grow as individuals and enjoy the best that life has to offer if we always play it safe? Breaking out of our comfort zone allows you to expand your world and unfold new possibilities. Now more than ever I think it’s important we get past our reluctance to engage with people we don’t know.These days, strangers feel like even more of a threat. Because we are living in a pandemic and we are meant to keep six feet away, it’s hard to start small talk with strangers. Some people may go so far as to cross the road altogether to avoid being near you. That’s reasonable in the current climate, but now more than ever I think it’s important we get past our reluctance to engage with people we don’t know. These shared human experiences bring us closer together. And in these uncertain times, talking to people we don’t know can help us all feel connected Complimenting someone, smiling, or striking up a conversation may not completely change the course of our lives, but engaging in conversation may bring a sprinkle of day-to-day positivity not to just their life, but to your life too.Isn’t the whole idea of us being here is that we leave the world and the people we share moments with better than we found them? So go on then,  I double dare you, have a chat with a stranger today and tell me you won’t feel better because of it, and one thing worth remembering is people will always forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel, and if you ask me? That’s a job bloody well done. Jackie Adedeji is a writer, presenter, and host of the Jackie Big Tits podcastHave a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on [email protected] from HuffPost UK Personal Society Expects Black Single Mums To Fail. I Won’t Be Written Off I Just Moved To California. It’s Like I’ve Arrived Into The Apocalypse I’m A White Teacher. This Is How I’m Bringing Anti-Racism Into My Classroom
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You’ve finally stopped hitting the snooze button, so good for you. Now, before you do anything else, it’s time to drink something. But what’s the best way to start your day? You may have heard that it’s a big glass of water, or perhaps you’ve been told a hot cup of green tea or coffee is the way to go.We spoke to nutrition experts to find out what they’re downing at daybreak, and why you should follow their lead. Drink water, even if you’re not thirstyMost of the experts who spoke with HuffPost had a clear (pun intended) winner for their morning beverage of choice: water. Even if it seems ho-hum, it’s what your body needs most to rehydrate after a night of sleep.“You may not necessarily feel thirsty first thing in the morning, but drinking water can be a health habit that you prioritise to stay adequately hydrated throughout the day,” Vicki Shanta Retelny, a registered dietician nutritionist, told HuffPost.But don’t worry — that H2O doesn’t necessarily have to be tepid tap water that’s drunk from a toothbrush holder cup (come on, we aren’t monsters). Experts suggest picking something you like to drink.“I tend to prefer a can of seltzer [sparkling water] first thing, because it’s easy to gauge the amount as a mental cue to finish the entire can before I have any coffee,” registered dietician Barbara Ruhs told HuffPost.Make it easy on yourselfNot everyone rises in the morning with a song on their lips, but we all deserve to enjoy a crack-of-dawn beverage that promotes minimally civilised behaviour for the rest of the day. Registered dietician nutritionist Karen Ansel shared a tip: “To say I’m not a morning person is an understatement, but my workaround is to prepare the makings for a pot of coffee the night before and the coffee maker on a timer. When I wake up, I have a fresh pot waiting to help kick me into gear.”Avoid fadsWhile the Bulletproof coffee fad (which combines coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil) still holds sway among true keto believers, nutritionists’ reactions to the high-fat drink ranged from “meh” to “bleh.”“If you absolutely love to put butter or coconut oil into your coffee, go ahead,” Ruhs said. “Personally I am not a fan, and as a dietitian, I can tell you it’s definitely not ‘healthy.’ I recognise that keto fans don’t want to have a slice of toast with butter on it, but adding it to coffee — yuck!” The so-called science behind this fad is “based on gibberish,” registered dietician nutritionist Amanda Frankeny told HuffPost, adding, “No peer-reviewed studies have supported the idea that drinking hot buttered coffee in the morning sets you up to shed pounds.”Frankeny also had thoughts about those “detoxifying” drinks that might seem tempting after a night of full-on retoxing. “Don’t believe any drink that’s claiming to detoxify you,” she said. “Our major organs already are very robust detoxification systems. Your body has the know-how to get rid of the ‘sludge.’ If you nourish it, it can do its job.” Energy drinks, another popular morning choice, also raised concerns. “Many energy drinks have a lot of caffeine in them, so if you drink one first thing, you have to be super careful about your caffeine intake throughout the rest of the day,” Amy Gorin, a registered dietician nutritionist, told HuffPost.And while juices have gotten a bad reputation over the years, Ruhs said the occasional glass of orange juice in the a.m. is just fine, and that ”100% juice is not as terrible as people have come to believe.”“It’s true that juice doesn’t have all of the fibre of the whole fruit, but it still can be included once in a while as a good source of vitamin C,” she added.Tea — at any temperature — is a healthy choiceFor a fad-free beverage with health benefits, consider adding hot or iced tea to your morning routine. Registered dietician nutritionist Toby Smithson, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 8, said she brews a full pitcher of tea every morning to last her the whole day. “Research has shown health benefits, including for diabetes prevention and management, from drinking tea,” she told HuffPost. “The polyphenols in tea appear to influence insulin activity, and other benefits include improved insulin sensitivity, maintenance of healthy blood pressure, reduction in risk of heart disease and reduction in risks of developing Type 2 diabetes.”None of the experts we spoke with felt there was any special magic in hot water with lemon as a first-thing-out-of-bed beverage, but they didn’t discourage it, either. “I can see the attraction of this idea,” Gorin told HuffPost. “Hot water is incredibly soothing, and lemon adds a nice splash of citrus to the water. Personally, if I’m drinking a hot beverage, I prefer to get antioxidants from it, so I suggest having green tea with lemon instead.”Drink coffee to get things movingIf you’re looking to — as Ruhs put it — “get that business done before leaving the house,” she suggested having a cup of coffee. Frankeny agreed, sharing her own personal routine: “If you want something that helps with regularity, this drinking routine works wonders for me: I chug about 16 ounces of water right away and follow that with a cup of joe.”For Frankeny, coffee is a year-round choice, no matter what the weather is like. When it’s hot outside, cold brew is her go-to.“Overnight, I steep two to three heaping tablespoons of coffee grounds with two cups of water, a little cinnamon and a teaspoon of brown sugar,” she said. “The next morning, I strain it and combine with milk. I change it up with fennel seeds and white sugar, which makes it taste like a pizzelle, the traditional Italian waffle cookie, while still keeping a relatively balanced nutritional profile.”Yes, what you drink mattersNo matter what, experts agree that your first sip of the day is important.“It sets the tone for the whole day,” Ansel said. “The last thing you want to do is start the day off with a sugary, highly processed drink like soda or an energy drink that will flood your system with sugars. These may deliver a quick shot of energy, but that’s guaranteed to be followed by a significant mid-morning low.”Registered dietician nutritionist Sara Haas said: “If you start the day with a sugar-loaded, junk-filled beverage, you’ve already told your body you don’t care much about it. But if you start with water, tea, coffee or something with some nutritional benefit, you’re telling your body, ‘We’ve got this!’ and ‘I care about you!’”Related... 8 Foods That Could Be Putting You In A Bad Mood How To Have A Perfect Picnic How To Make Japanese Iced Coffee: It's Like Cold Brew, But Way Faster
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Angela Rayner has slammed Boris Johnson for making the resumption of grouse shooting a “priority”.Labour’s deputy leader took on the prime minister at PMQs on Wednesday as Keir Starmer had been self-isolating.“This winter, we are staring down the barrel of a second wave with no plan for the looming crisis,” Rayner told Johnson.“People can’t say goodbye to their loved ones, grandparents can’t see their grandchildren and frontline staff can’t get the tests that they need – and what was the top priority for the Covid war cabinet this weekend? Restoring grouse shooting.”She added: “So prime minister, is this really your top priority?”Johnson replied that “while the Labour opposition has been consistently carping from the sidelines throughout this crisis” the government was “getting on with delivering for the British public”.He added: “It’s with the common sense of the British people that we will succeed, build back better and stronger than ever before.”HuffPost UK reported this week the government has exempted grouse shooting and other “hunting” with guns from the new coronavirus restrictions.Pro-hunting and shooting groups can continue to hold gatherings of between six and 30 people because they are covered by a loophole that permits licensed “outdoor activity”.HuffPost UK revealed that the Cabinet Office’s special Covid-19 Operations ministerial committee had initially scheduled a meeting on Saturday, with one agenda item titled: “Exemption: hunting and shooting.”Johnson himself has written in the past that he “loved” foxhunting with dogs, once writing in the Spectator of the “semi-sexual relation with the horse” and the “military-style pleasure” of moving as a unit.Related... Why The Buck Stops With Johnson And Hancock On Covid Testing Failures Shooting And Hunting Exempt From Covid 'Rule Of Six' Ban
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Leading doctors groups have slammed the government’s “worrying” handling of the NHS Test and Trace system and raised serious concerns about the amount of public money “potentially wasted” by the private companies that actually run it.Following health secretary Matt Hancock’s admission on Tuesday that tests for Covid-19 will have to be rationed amid a surge in cases, the British Medical Association told HuffPost UK “we don’t have a fit-for-purpose testing system”.Deputy chair Dr David Wrigley, added: “NHS Test and Trace – despite its name – is not an NHS service, it’s a largely outsourced programme that sees numerous private companies given billions of pounds to run testing sites, process samples and manage contact tracing call centres.“Despite billions changing hands, we don’t have a fit-for-purpose testing system. People can’t access tests, they’re not getting results in time, they’re having to isolate for days on end while waiting for results and we see contact tracers failing to reach enough people.”The damning comments were echoed by the Doctors Association UK (DAUK), who said the “outsourcing of Test and Trace and privatisations of commercial testing labs has no doubt added to the chaos and may be actively hindering the UK’s effect to control coronavirus”.Around 35 different organisations are listed as “data processors” involved in the NHS Test and Trace system but only four are NHS bodies.A further four are Public Health England bodies and another is the Ministry of Defence.The remaining 26 are private companies such as:Serco which “provides facilities management for some regional test sites”Amazon which “provide logistics for home delivery of test kits, collecting completed test kits from homes and delivering them to labs” G4S which also “provides facilities management for some regional test sites”HuffPost UK reported last week that testing centres have been turning away thousands of people, including key workers. Hancock admitted there were “operational challenges” and that prioritisation was “a choice that we must make”.But he also blamed members of the public who he said were ordering tests when they had no symptoms.Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, DAUK president, told HuffPost UK: “It is unacceptable that the health secretary has seemingly blamed patients and staff for accessing tests inappropriately. This is not the fault of our health service, or of the public, or of staff.”“We now need honesty from this government about exactly what the problem is, how and when it will be fixed as a matter of urgency.”The Department for Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.Related... The Key Facts You Need To Know About Covid-19 In The UK Right Now How To (Try To) Get A Coronavirus Test Amid Shortages
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One of Boris Johnson’s most senior law officers looks set to quit or be fired after he suggested a cabinet minister had misspoken when he claimed the UK was ready to break international law over Brexit.Lord Keen of Elie QC, the Advocate General for Scotland and a justice minister, faced humiliation as Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis told MPs on Wednesday his colleague had been flat wrong to dispute the government’s stance.Labour said that Lord Keen’s authority was now “shot” to pieces following Lewis’s remarks, amid intense speculation that he would soon leave his post.Keen was last week said to be on the edge of resigning over the government’s admission that its new Internal Market Bill “breaks international law in a specific and limited way”.Meanwhile, the UK faced fresh anger from the EU after Lewis refused to guarantee that the UK would abide by the outcome of any disputes process agreed with Brussels.European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen jibed the PM, quoting Margaret Thatcher’s belief that “Britain does not break treaties”, as the Brexit row reignited once more.Keen had sparked ridicule on Tuesday when he told peers that he felt that Lewis had “answered the wrong question” when making his now infamous comment about breaking international law.But government sources told HuffPost that Keen was not speaking for the government and in evidence to the Northern Ireland select committee, Lewis rammed home his message that his words were official policy in line with legal advice of the Attorney General Suella Braverman.“I’ve spoken to Lord Keen. When he’s looked at the specific question I was asked last week, he has agreed with me that the answer I gave was correct. That answer I gave reflects the government legal advice,” he said.Lewis had been replying to a question from Tory grandee Sir Bob Neill, who has since threatened a rebel amendment to the legislation that would give MPs the final say on any breach of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement on Brexit.Shadow attorney general Lord Falconer said that Lord Keen’s authority was now “shot”.Brandon Lewis admitted passage of Bill is breach of international law. Lord Keen, Advocate General, expressed detailed legal views in Lords. The views of one of law officers repudiated by govt. Law Officers’ authority now totally shot. https://t.co/Z08OlY3YOk— Charlie Falconer (@LordCFalconer) September 16, 2020Lewis told MPs: “I read out something very specific because I wanted to ensure that what I said, to make sure that I was giving the House a straight answer.”The cabinet minister also insisted that the government intends to deploy its “break the law” provisions in parallel with using EU arbitration mechanisms, rather than exhausting the Brussels route first.“Even if we end up in a situation where we need to use the ‘safety net’ we do that at same time [as going down the EU route],” he said.And he sparked a fresh backlash from the EU when he refused to say whether he would abide by the outcome of the arbitration process agreed with Brussels for any disputes over the Brexit divorce treaty.Asked directly if the UK would abide by the outcome of such arbitration, Lewis replied: “To get into a hypothetical about what would happen is an unhelpful and dangerous place to be.”Committee chair Simon Hoare replied that “there are many people in prison” who don’t like “the ruling of the judge” but they accept it nevertheless.Irish politician Neale Richmond was swift to condemn Lewis’s latest remarks.It is not hypothetical in anyway. UK Govt must guarantee their responsibilities and meet their obligations. A very revealing #brexit hearing in front of the @CommonsNIAC this morning. https://t.co/JLPN5LqiJL— Neale Richmond (@nealerichmond) September 16, 2020Earlier, in her annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament, Von der Leyen said both sides had agreed the Withdrawal Agreeent was the only way to guarantee the Northern Ireland peace process.She quoted Mrs Thatcher, as saying: “Britain does not break treaties. It would be bad for Britain, bad for relations with the rest of the world and bad for any future treaty on trade.”The EU chief added: “This was true then and this is true today. Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership.”
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We’re in the middle of surge in Covid-19 cases You have probably already heard that we are in the middle of a surge in Covid-19 cases. After a huge upturn in coronavirus cases that peaked across April and the start of May – with 6,201 new cases reported on May 1 alone – the UK saw a dramatic decline in infections over the summer. Throughout June and July cases dropped, with just 352 cases reported on July 6 – the lowest recorded since lockdown began on March 23. But since the start of August, cases have been on the rise.On August 9, more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections were reported by the government for the first time since June 26. Daily cases breached the 1,000 mark 18 more times during the month. But it was on September 6 that the UK received a sharp reminder that the pandemic had not gone away over summer, with 2,988 new Covid-19 cases reported. It was the highest figure recorded in more than three months – and was followed by similar numbers in the following days. On September 11, 3,539 new cases were announced in the UK – the first time the number had exceeded 3,500 since May 17. As a result of these rising figure, the government has implemented strict new rules on meeting with people outside of your own household or bubble. On Monday, it became illegal in England to meet with more than five other people outside of your household. Key dates: 31/01/20 – first two cases of Covid-19 reported in the UK 01/05/20 – 6,201 cases reported – the highest throughout the pandemic 06/07/20 – 352 cases reported – the lowest number recorded since lockdown09/08/20 – daily cases breach 1,000 for the first time since June (1,062 cases) 06/09/20 – daily cases breach 2,000 for the first time since 30/05 (2,988 cases) 11/09/20 – daily cases breach 3,500 for the first time since 17/05 (3,539 cases)  The R rate could be as high as 1.7 However, it’s not just the rise in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 each day that suggests the spread of coronavirus infections is getting worse. On Friday, a study by Imperial College London warned that the R rate – the reproduction rate of the virus – could be as high as 1.7 in the UK. That would mean that every 10 people with Covid-19 would be infecting 17 people – something scientists have branded “concerning”. The government’s own calculations, however, suggest the R rate is between 1.0 and 1.2, up from between 0.7 and 1.0 when ministers first published the figures in May. Meanwhile, the latest data also suggests the growth rate of the virus is between -1% and +3%, meaning the number of new infections each day is somewhere between shrinking by 1% and growing by 3%. These are the coronavirus hotspots in England right now On Sunday, new analysis of government figures revealed that Bolton – which is already under strict lockdown measures – had the highest rate of coronavirus in England. Public Health England figures show the town recorded 552 new Covid-19 cases in the seven days to September 10 – the equivalent of 192 cases per 100,000 people. For context, the government usually adds foreign countries to its quarantine list when the rate reaches 20 per 100,000. But Bolton is not alone – four other areas in England also had rates above 100 cases per 100,000 people. Blackburn with Darwen, Hydburn, Oadby and Wigston and Preston all made the list. Areas of England with the highest rates of Covid-19Bolton: 126.2 cases per 100,000 peopleBlackburn with Darwen: 118.2 cases per 100,000 people Hyndburn: 114.8 cases per 100,000 people Oadby and Wigston: 114 cases per 100,000 people Preston: 102 cases per 100,000 people In total, 210 of the 315 local authority areas in England recorded an increase in the weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in the seven days to September 10.The rate fell in 91 areas and was unchanged in 14 areas.New cases were recorded in all 315 local authority areas.Despite a spike in cases, coronavirus deaths remain low  On March 6, the UK’s first coronavirus death was confirmed by the government. Since then, another 41,663 people have died, leaving the UK with fifth highest Covid-19 death toll in the world. Like cases, deaths from the virus peaked in April and May, with more than 1,000 deaths reported on some days. But it was on April 21 that the coronavirus pandemic truly spiked, with the deaths of 1,224 people reported in a single day – the highest figure at any time throughout the crisis. Between the end of April and the start of July, deaths from Covid-19 dropped dramatically.On July 30, for the first time since March 11, the UK did not report a single death from the virus. Since then, deaths have remained low – despite the recent spike in cases. However, scientists have warned that this could change. Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths, a senior mathematical modeller from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, told HuffPost UK: “There is a danger that the number of hospitalisations and deaths may be lagging behind [the recent spike in cases] and we just don’t know at the moment.“This is the concerning factor – how is this going to develop over the next couple of days, weeks and months?” Key dates: 06/03/20 – first Covid-19 death reported in the UK 24/03/20 – daily deaths exceed 100 for the first time (148 deaths) 07/04/20 – daily deaths breach 1,000 for the first time (1,105 deaths) 21/04/20 – 1,224 deaths reported – the highest number in the UK throughout the pandemic 17/06/20 – the last time more than 100 deaths were reported (110 deaths) 30/07/20 – zero deaths reported for the first time since 11/03 The number of people in hospital with coronavirus is rising – very slowly  The picture in the UK’s hospitals now is drastically different to how it was at the peak of the coronavirus crisis. On April 12, there were 19,872 people in hospital with coronavirus. On September 13, there were just 972 – a huge decrease. However, while there has undoubtedly been a massive drop in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital since the height of the pandemic, government data suggests the number of people hospitalised with the virus is on the rise once again. Since August 11, there have been fewer than 1,000 coronavirus patients in hospitals across the UK, reaching a pandemic-low of 756 on August 28. But the start of September brought a creeping rise in hospitalisations.There have been more than 800 people in hospital with Covid-19 since September 7, rising to 972 on September 13 – the highest number seen since mid-August. The number of people on ventilators remains low Like the total number of coronavirus patients in hospital, the number of people with the virus needing mechanical ventilation has also fallen drastically. On April 12, there were 3,301 people with Covid-19 on ventilators in hospitals in the UK – the highest at any point during the pandemic so far. Since then, there has been a huge drop in the number of people needing this kind of support breathing, with the figure dropping down into the double digits by the end of July.  However, there are some indications that could be very slowly changing direction.On September 14, there were 106 people in mechanical ventilation beds in the UK – the first time the number had risen above 100 since July 24. What is going on with testing? It’s important to remember as the pandemic has gone on, the UK’s coronavirus testing capacity has increased. With Covid-19 tests reserved for key workers at the start of the crisis, its likely that there were many more people with coronavirus in March, April and May than official figures would suggest. According to government data, on September 10 the UK had the capacity to carry out almost 375,000 coronavirus tests – the highest ever. Despite this, the testing system has been shrouded in chaos in recent weeks, with people – including sick children – told to travel hundreds of miles for a Covid-19 test. HuffPost UK reported last week how testing centres have been turning away thousands of people, including key workers. On Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock revealed that – while the government attempts to fix problems in the system – tests for coronavirus will be rationed. Patients with acute medical needs and people in care homes will be at the front of the queue for Covid-19 checks under a new system, he explained. Infographics provided by Statista.Related... Covid-19 'Worse Than Science Fiction' And 'Still At Beginning', Says WHO Expert Covid Tests To Be Rationed As Matt Hancock Told System In Chaos Coronavirus Test Centre Closed Because Government Needs Land For Brexit
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So, you think you’ve got coronavirus. Now what? Getting tested to confirm your suspicions or put your mind at ease would be the obvious first step, but sadly, it’s not that easy. Supposedly, anyone who has coronavirus symptoms can get a test. The list of test-worthy symptoms now includes: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.However, with Covid-19 cases rising in the UK, there have been widespread reports of people struggling to access tests, including in coronavirus “hotspots”  and within the NHS. Related... Covid Tests To Be Rationed As Matt Hancock Told System In Chaos How are you supposed to get a test?  If you believe you have coronavirus symptoms, the government is still advising people to get a test done “as soon as possible”. Tests should be done within  the first five days of having symptoms. There are two ways to get tested: booking a visit to a test site or ordering a home test kit. Both methods require you to self-refer via the government’s website. During this process, you’ll need to fill out an online form with some personal details. You can also book a test in this way for someone you live with who is displaying symptoms. If you’re having problems using the online service, you should call 119 if you’re in England, Wales or Northern Ireland or 0300 303 2713 if you’re in Scotland.However, the government says these numbers shouldn’t be used if you’ve simply been told no tests are available. “No extra tests are available through the helplines,” it confirms. There’s a separate testing service for care home residents or staff members. In these groups, you can still get tested even if you do not have symptoms.READ MORE: Help! I I Can't Stop Arguing With My Partner About Coronavirus Risks What problems are people having?People have reported trying the government website “hundreds of times”, but continually receiving a message that no tests are available. Worryingly, NHS staff are being forced to stay off work and self-isolate because they cannot access coronavirus tests for themselves or family members. Some people have also reported having to drive long distances to access a test, but the government insists the average distance travelled to a test site is now 5.8 miles, down from 6.4 miles last week.The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed it “pauses” the booking portal for home testing when there’s high demand, to prevent backlogs at laboratories. Appointments at testing sites are also limited.  Who will be prioritised for testing?  The government is yet to release an official priority list for testing, although this is expected in the coming days.  Health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed tests will be rationed in some capacity, though. He said patients with acute medical needs and people in care homes will be at the front of the queue for Covid-19 checks under a new system. “Throughout this pandemic, we have prioritised testing according to need. Over the summer, when demand was low, we were able to meet all requirements for testing, whether priorities or not,” he said.  “But as demand has risen, we are having to prioritise once again and I do not shirk from decisions about prioritisation. They are not always comfortable, but they are important.”Related... UK May Need To Do 10m Covid-19 Tests A Day, Expert Says What to do if you’re struggling to access a test  When asked what people should do if they are struggling to access a test, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson didn’t exactly answer the question. “NHS Test and Trace is working and our capacity is the highest it has ever been but we are seeing a significant demand for tests including from people who do not have symptoms and are not otherwise eligible,” they told HuffPost UK.“New booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily for those who need them and we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.”Your best bet is to check the government website at different times of the day. Booking slots for Covid testing sites are made available the evening before for morning appointments, and on the morning for afternoon appointments. Remember, you need to self-isolate if you think you have Covid-19 symptoms. Use the following services if you need medical advice:England: NHS 111 online coronavirus serviceScotland: NHS informWales: NHS 111 WalesNorthern Ireland: get advice from a GP or GP out-of-hours service.Call 999 if you think there’s something seriously wrong.READ MORE: The Most (And Least) Risky Activities For Spreading Covid-19 Here’s How To Cope With Lockdown Déjà Vu When Will We Be Able To Ditch Face Masks?
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Education secretary Gavin Williamson has been warned he could face legal action from teachers after fresh Covid test-and-trace failures left schools unable to check if pupils have got the virus.The teaching union NASUWT has written to Williamson to state it could sue over a breach of a duty of care and personal injury to staff caused by the reopening of schools without proper safeguards.And in a separate letter to schools minister Nick Gibb, the union’s general secretary Patrick Roach has revealed that a dedicated testing centre for schools in Salford has had to turn away requests because of a surge in demand.Exclusive Whistleblower Exposes ‘Pathetic’ Coronavirus Test And Trace System The letter, seen by HuffPost UK, states that “the number of symptomatic pupils and staff has increased to such levels that the testing site has been unable to cope with demand and has stopped taking referrals from schools”.The union also said that in Bury, Greater Manchester, some 600 pupils are now self-isolating but testing was being overwhelmed.Roach said that the reopening “risk assessments” that all schools were advised to carry out by the government depended on a functioning test and trace system that was currently lacking.One source with knowledge of the test and trace system in Greater Manchester said that the delays in test turnarounds risked undermining the entire system of year group “bubbles” of up to 300 children, where pupils are expected to self-isolate if one of their number tests positive. “Under the current guidance, a pupil could be sent home with symptoms today, not be able to get a test until Friday and then wait another few days for the results,” they said.“Bubbles and contacts are not being isolated until the positive result is confirmed, which means that potentially, many unidentified confirmed cases remain in circulation, increasing the risks to teachers and their pupils, and, of course, the wider community.“Even if a school follows the guidance and send symptomatic pupils and staff home, they cannot implement the next stage of their risk assessment without swift testing.”In his letter, Roach said the union had “numerous examples” of problems with testing and schools operating blind when pupils were sent home with symptoms.He told Williamson that the union was “expressly reserving our members’ legal rights” in the case of a claim for breach of duty of care or personal injury due to foreseeable risks from reopening schools.Some schools have closed their doors days after reopening this term, while others have told year groups to self-isolate for two weeks following confirmed cases.Figures from the Department for Education (DfE) showed that around 92% of state schools were fully open on Thursday last week, and approximately 88% of students were back in class on the same day.But the NASUWT said the DfE had been “unable to provide any evidence on the effectiveness of the risk control measures recommended in your guidance to schools.”The union also released an online snapshot poll of its 900 members conducted over the past two weeks, suggesting that nearly a third (31%) do not have access to soap and water for themselves and their pupils.Exclusive Boris Johnson Told To Fund Cleaners To Keep Classrooms Covid-Secure It found that just 18% had hand sanitiser in every classroom and only a quarter had one-way systems or staggered start times for pupils.The majority (55%) of teachers said they did not believe the Covid-19 safety measures introduced by their school were “sufficient and effective”.The letter adds: “We also seek confirmation from you that you have obtained assurances that the implementation by schools of your decisions on the reopening of schools are not in breach of schools’ legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities.“Therefore, the NASUWT is putting the Government on notice by expressly reserving our members’ legal rights in the context of a tortious claim for breach of duty of care and personal injury due to foreseeable risk, and any other legal recourse available.”In the letter, Dr Roach insisted: “For the avoidance of doubt, the NASUWT is and remains committed to ensuring that schools remain open safely.”A DfE spokesperson said: “Schools have implemented a range of protective measures, based on the Public Health England endorsed ‘system of controls’, which create an inherently safer system to minimise the risks of transmission.“This includes reducing mixing and distancing where possible, including by staggering break and lunch times, as well as increasing the frequency of cleaning and handwashing.“Figures show that on September 10 99.9% of state-funded schools were open to pupils, and we will continue to work closely with schools to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to keep pupils and staff safe.”Related... Why Boris Johnson Will U-Turn On Policy – But Not Failing Ministers Risk Of More A-Level Chaos In 2021 If Government Doesn't Plan For Exams Delay, Labour Warns Gavin Williamson Overruled Advice Not To Cancel Exams, Says Ofqual Chair
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“If I had the money, I would have written an obituary exactly like this one for my Dad,” read one of the first responses to a stranger’s tweet of my father’s obituary. The original tweet said: “Powerful obituary in today’s Arizona Republic. Regular people are starting to boil over.”On June 30 my father, Mark Urquiza, died from Covid-19. When I placed his obituary a few days later, there was no question for me that it would be anything but honest: he died due to the carelessness of politicians who continue, to this day, to jeopardise the health of brown people (as well as Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour) through clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this pandemic, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimise risk.Little did I know that the words I chose, with the help of my partner Christine and friend Renée, would be the first #HonestObit of many in response to the United States’ Covid-19 mismanagement.In late June, cases were starting to skyrocket in places like Florida, Texas and my home state of Arizona. My parents still lived in the house I grew up in, located in the Maryvale neighborhood, which is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Phoenix with more than 75% of the population of Latin descent, 30% of its residents medically uninsured, and 28% living below the federal poverty line. The weekend my dad became ill, people in Maryvale waited upward of 13 hours in 106 degree heat to access Covid-19 tests. Despite a six-week shutdown, the state was woefully unprepared ― from testing infrastructure to hospital beds ― for the tsunami of cases that Gov. Doug Ducey’s cavalier reopening created.Ducey went on a messaging crusade when he reopened the state in mid-May, confidently misleading the public about the risks around the virus. Two weeks later, the governor claimed that if you didn’t have an underlying health condition, it was safe to get back to life as normal. At press conferences over the last seven months, the president repeatedly downplayed the dangers of the virus, including calling it a “hoax” and stating that it would just disappear one day like a “miracle.” He also compared the coronavirus to the flu in an effort to downplay its dangers, despite being caught on tape saying the exact opposite behind closed doors.My dad, a lifelong Republican, believed these men. Within two weeks of Ducey’s media spree, my dad woke up sick. A few days later, he was in the hospital. He died after two weeks in the hospital, including five days on a ventilator.It all happened very quickly. My dad was 65, but otherwise healthy. His father and many relatives lived into their 90s. Dad thought of himself as anything but old ― and if you were fortunate enough to catch him crooning on the karaoke stage or cheering on his favourite Nascar driver, you would agree. He’d been given a clean bill of health at a recent physical.My dad and I rarely agreed on anything political. But it especially broke my heart when he told me, from his hospital bed, that he felt sideswiped by the messages from Ducey and the president. He was terrified of dying but he also felt betrayed. It made me so angry. He trusted these people ― the people in charge ― and it cost him his life.I couldn’t blame him. After all, we are taught to follow the direction of those leading us, especially in times of crisis. And this was, and still is, a major crisis. Two months later, the people in charge are too busy putting on the big spectacles, like the pernicious Republican National Convention hosted at the White House or Trump’s recent rally in Nevada, instead of doing the work to get the virus under control.My dad and I rarely agreed on anything political. But it especially broke my heart when he told me, from his hospital bed, that he felt sideswiped by the messages from Ducey and the president. He was terrified of dying but he also felt betrayed.My dad, and thousands of other people in the United States, didn’t deserve to die. I’m now on a mission to ensure that the world knows why my dad died and to see that those who are responsible ― Donald Trump and his enablers ― are held to account.One way I’m doing this is by working to get other honest obituaries published through a new organisation called Marked by COVID. Marked by COVID is uplifting the stories of those lost to Covid-19 and those we stand to lose. We’re working with teachers, students, the bereaved and survivors to demand action on the virus and spotlight the Trump administration’s failure in controlling its spread.I never thought of obituaries as a tool of exclusion until I read the aforementioned comment on Twitter shortly after burying my dad. How could I be so blind, I wondered as I tossed my phone on the bed. People are dying out of the blue. Brown folks can barely pay for rent, let alone a surprise funeral. If something is going to get cut, the cost of publishing an obituary makes sense, I thought.Now as we approach 200,000 deaths in the U.S. and the end of the pandemic is nowhere in sight, I’m committed to helping as many families as possible share their stories. With the help of friends and family, Marked by Covid has continued to raise money to sponsor the obituaries of folks who want to tell the truth about how their loved one died. It’s important to me that we find ways to uplift the stories of people like my dad: everyday people whose lives were cut short because our leaders refused to lead or put politics above human life.Unfortunately, a newspaper backlash to the honest obituaries appears to be starting. In August, a newspaper in San Antonio rejected an obituary from a grieving family that called out the connection between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s and Trump’s actions and this unnecessary death. The chief of sales for the newspaper tried to convince me that the obituary was an advertisement and wasn’t a “normal” obituary. I scoffed and responded, “I placed an obituary for my father last month that looked very similar to this.”I then reiterated the obituary guidelines published on the paper’s website, none of which were being broken by this particular obituary. His response? “Well you know what I mean.” In contrast, another Texas paper ran the obituary without a problem, as well as a powerful opinion piece justifying the need to run obituaries as a political statement by a local university professor.In the few months that I’ve worked with families for Marked by COVID, we’ve published six obituaries and I’ve gained some notoriety. Some people, like those at the San Antonio newspaper, say they are offended by what they allege is the “politicisation” of my dad’s death. What they fail to acknowledge is that by rejecting science and making decisions based on political calculus, Trump is the one who politicised my father’s death. I’m just telling it like it is, and sometimes the truth in all its authenticity stings.Let this sink in: Our president continues to tell us Covid-19 will just “go away” but we’re still very much in the middle of a pandemic and, with schools reopening and the winter approaching, it could get worse. As a result, millions of people are still getting sick and hundreds of thousands more people could die preventable deaths. Sadly, it may only be a matter of time before someone you know and love dies from this horrible disease. I wouldn’t wish a Covid-19 death on my worst enemy. It’s lonely, painful and undignified ― and worst of all, it doesn’t have to keep happening.Every three days we lose the number of Americans we lost on 9/11 to Covid-19. Our response needs to be coordinated, data-driven and on a national scale if we’re ever going to stop this pandemic in its tracks. And in the meantime, I’ll continue writing honest obituaries to showcase the true costs of Trump’s lies. Kristin Urquiza is an activist and advocate. After her dad died from COVID-19 she co-founded Marked by COVID. This article first appeared on HuffPost Personal.Have a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on [email protected] from HuffPost UK Personal I Just Moved To California. It’s Like I’ve Arrived Into The Apocalypse I’m A White Teacher. This Is How I’m Bringing Anti-Racism Into My Classroom Coronavirus Has Ruined My Sense Of Taste And Smell For Months
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In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Cat Hufton shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email [email protected] 2018, I fell pregnant. My partner and I had been trying for a couple of years and nothing happened. We saw a fertility specialist, and were referred for IVF. We didn’t even know if I could get pregnant, nor did we know what IVF entailed.My pregnancy was quite traumatic, though. I’d waited so long to get there, that I felt anxious and unwell for the first three months. I bled the day before my five month scan. I had a couple of other scares with scans later on, where they were concerned about my son’s brain. So by the end of my pregnancy, I was so ready to have my baby!I felt quite positive about giving birth. I’d done hypnobirthing online and pregnancy yoga. I felt prepared – nervous, scared, yes, but prepared.Related... WTF Is Hypnobirthing And Does It *Actually* Work? My son was due on August 3, and three days before, I went for acupuncture, which I’d had through my IVF, too. The next morning, my waters broke – a big, Hollywood gush! They were everywhere. Straight away I called my husband (who is known to panic in situations) to come home, and my neighbour waited with me while he did – 45 minutes later, he still wasn’t there. I called him again.“I’m sat at my desk,” he said. “What, did you want me to come home?”. Wires had been crossed, and he thought I was going to ring him when he needed to come back – I was angry, but my neighbour helped me see the funny side. We went to hospital, but were sent home because I hadn’t had any contractions yet. My husband stayed busy power-washing the patio outside, while I laid on the couch watching a film.The contractions were getting more painful into the evening. We wanted to wait it out as best we could, holding on going back to hospital until I really couldn’t get through the pain. That moment came about midnight, when I became immobile from the pain. We drove to hospital.  I was in triage for a while before getting my own room. You have to bear in mind here it was 35 degrees, it was so hot! Then I was moved into my own in a birthing suite that was air-conditioned – it was amazing. They started filling up the birthing pool but I couldn’t go in until I was dilated enough. Eventually, I was in the pool. Apparently – I don’t remember – I closed my eyes and was breathing in and out for four hours! I went into my own world and the water helped through that stage of my labour.It got to a point where I needed gas and air and it was the best thing. I kept gushing about it, telling the midwives I felt like I was on holiday in Jamaica after having wine. I came to life – I hadn’t spoken for hours but I sat back and had Monster Munch and chocolate. I felt relaxed. My midwife encouraged an active birth, which I loved. We were holding hands doing squats together, it was like a workout. She was amazing, telling me I was strong and doing really well. I went through a transition, then, and felt a lot more pain. I was on all fours making animal sounds. At one point, when I got out the pool to have a catheter, they realised I was 7cm dilated. It was time to get out and push. I ended up on my back with my legs up and two to three midwives pushing against them to help me push. They were small, though, and I’m 5ft 10. I felt like I was going to push them over.They took my gas and air away (I was enjoying it a bit too much) and the head midwife came down, telling me we needed to get this baby out. She was sturdy and strong and really pushed against me and gave it some welly. I knew the baby’s head was coming because my husband was down that end and his face was a picture.I did it! Eventually I pushed him out, around 11.45am. It felt amazing, the midwives were incredible, and I couldn’t stop thanking them. It was a really positive experience, when I look back at it. I was just so grateful to have a straightforward birth after having an unnatural conception. My birth advice?Know your options. Make sure you understand everything that can happen. I read The Positive Birth book and went to positive birth groups, as well as NCT and NHS prenatal classes. I didn’t go in with rose-tinted glasses. Being prepared is the best. Find out more about Cat through her weekly newsletter, The Freelance Parent. More Birth Diaries 'I Was Too Scared To Look At My Daughter When I Gave Birth To Her' 'I Had Two Completely Different Births In The Space Of 20 Minutes' 'My Baby Was So High Up, She Got Stuck In My Pelvis'
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When my first ultrasound scan revealed I was expecting twins, I burst into tears.Sadly, these weren’t tears of joy but tears of the realisation that I was at a pivotal crossroads in my life. I was a scared 21-year-old student, in many ways still a child, still trying to find myself and what I wanted to do with my life. And now I was going to have to figure life out while raising twins on my own?The narrative I told myself of what single motherhood was going to be like came from my own upbringing by my mum, a single mother of five. I saw a Black matriarch struggle, and I assured myself I wouldn’t end up in similar circumstances; yet unbeknownst to me, fate and poor choices in men somehow made it so.I had also inherited the deep-seated social stigmas that paint single mothers as unstable, shameful and poverty-stricken. As a woman, I am forced to make choices in life that are more costly than those of men; such as choosing children over a career. As a Black woman, these weighty choices feel even more stark knowing the old adage that, because I am Black, I have to work twice as hard to get half as far.There is too the stereotype that Afro-Caribbean women like me disproportionately have children outside of marriage and from multiple fathers. This stems from racist perceptions of Black families that neglect to consider the effects of historical racism, relationships within Black families, and even slavery as victims of sexual abuse from slaveholders. Throughout modern history Black families have been portrayed as dysfunctional ,with the archetype of the mature and stern Black women as the head of the family, and the young, sexually immoral black women dismissing stable relationships.Somehow I felt more judged for deciding to keep my twins because, in society’s eyes I was 'just another' single Black mum.These racist and sexist interactions shaped how I was to perceive myself as a young, Black woman and as a mother. Somehow I felt more judged for deciding to keep my twins, because in society’s eyes I was ‘just another’ single Black mum adding to the phenomenon of Black and other ethnic minority mothers being more likely to be single parents. This depleted my self-esteem in my early motherhood – I felt as though I had resigned myself to a life of obscurity, and fell into postpartum depression. What got me through those dark days was holding tightly onto the glimmer of hope that things would get better for me somehow, and my connection with God. Through these, I came to better understand who I was, and what I wanted out of life.The turning point was acknowledging that I had my final year at university waiting to be finished. I did not want to live with the regret of having started something and not see it through – becoming a mother was the driving force I needed to complete my degree in psychology. Yet, this transition wouldn’t have been possible without the much-needed support system: my mum, their grandma, and my extended family, thanks to the tradition of kinship within Caribbean families.At times, I overburdened them with childcare, but nevertheless their help made it possible for me to sustain myself. I travelled to and from university 125 miles away twice a week, interned throughout my final year, and put blood, sweat and (many) tears into my dissertation, all the while visualising myself in a graduation gown with my babies beside me.Graduating gifted me the confidence and reassurance in myself I had so desired and needed.  It allowed me to break away from the internalised stigmatisation and negative thought patterns I had accepted.Graduating gifted me the confidence and reassurance in myself I had so desired and needed.  It allowed me to break away from the internalised stigmatisation and negative thought patterns I had accepted. I learned to take back control of my life. And not only did graduating gave me an opportunity to help create a better future for my children in the absence of their father, it also imparted in me a sense of freedom, growth and pride that allows me to have the professional identity and future I had always sought.As Malcolm X said, “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”. With that zeal behind me, I realised that in order for me to be the best mum I could be, I needed to continue to follow and fulfil my life goals and dreams. For me, that meant going back to university again and begin postgraduate study, with the aspiration of a career in child psychotherapy.I saw how important education was for me. It has allowed me to have my own identity separate from the title of ‘mum’. It allowed me to recreate myself, and defy society’s perception of what it means to be a young, Black single parent.It was Michelle Obama who spoke of the significance of investing not just in your children, but investing in yourself too, to show your kids it’s okay to ‘put yourself a little higher on your priority list’. The secret to a happy child is a happy mum, after all.Rochelle Rodney is a mum and postgraduate student Have a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on [email protected] from HuffPost UK Personal I’m Hosting #BlackVoicesHPUK, A New HuffPost Series About Being Black In Britain. Here’s Why I’m A Black Police Officer. This Is What I Know About Racism And Inequality I Look White To Many. I’m Black. This Is What White People Say To Me
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Boris Johnson’s government has claimed that a cabinet minister “answered the wrong question” when he suggested that new Brexit legislation would break international law.Senior minister and chief legal officer Lord Keen of Elie said that Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis had effectively misspoken when he made the dramatic admission to MPs last week that the Internal Market Bill would breach the law “in a specific and limited way”.Keen, the Advocate General of Scotland, made the remarks as government whips struggled to reassure backbench Tory MPs and peers and avoid a parliamentary rebellion over the legislation next week. Explained Here's WTF Is Going On In The Latest Big Brexit Row But the shift in stance was swiftly greeted with ridicule by Labour and Tory peers, with shadow attorney general Lord Falconer telling HuffPost UK that Lewis was being “hung out to dry” for telling the truth.Quizzed during an emergency question on the issue in the House of Lords, Lord Keen said: “I have satisfied myself as to the correct legal position in this context. It is my view that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland essentially answered the wrong question.”It was unclear which question Lord Keen felt that Lewis was answering, and his words sparked groans of dissent.Lord Falconer heckled in exasperation: “For goodness sake – he [Lewis] is a Cabinet minister!”Lord Keen replied: “I hope he has not become unwell in view of the noises emanating from him. But if he has, I wish him well for the future.”Afterwards, Falconer told HuffPost UK: “This was incomprehensible. The Northern Ireland Secretary was honest in his response, but is now being hung out to dry by his own government.”Lord Keen’s remarks appeared to be part of a wider shift by the government to deny that its new bill would breach international law, despite key clauses explicitly setting out how they would be incompatible with the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed by the PM and the EU earlier this year.The legislation would allow the UK to set tariffs and state aid rules of its own, should talks collapse between the UK and Brussels, and has been described as a “safety net” by No.10.Keen had stressed that its powers to tear up the Brexit divorce treaty would only come into effect if the EU breached its own duties under the agreement or if the UK chose to exercise other legal rights.However, there was fresh confusion over Lord Keen’s remarks as Whitehall sources suggested the Advocate General was not speaking for the government when he made his remarks.Tory peer Lord Lexden had led the criticism, asking the minister: “Is it not difficult to retain confidence in the Lord Chancellor and the law officers of the Crown when they acquiesce in the government’s declaration of a willingness to break international law?“Are they not charged, these officers of the Crown, with responsibility for ensuring that ministers respect the rule of law – national and international – in all circumstances?“A duty with which permitting threats to break it are hardly compatible.”But Lord Keen replied: “In my opinion, the present Bill does not of itself constitute a breach of international law or of the rule of law.”In unusually robust remarks for the House of Lords, Lord Falconer hit back: “The key characteristic for law officers is not brains – they can get all the advice they want from the English bar of lawyers – it is backbone.”Lord Falconer said: “The party that changes its story on law as this government does shows it lacks backbone.“How does the Advocate General feel able consistent with personal honour and professional duty to remain as the Advocate General?”Tory former solicitor general Lord Garnier, another critic of the new legislation, said: “The Bill that we are considering disapplies sections of a treaty which we have freely entered into.”He questioned “how does that fit” with the first duty of the law officer being to uphold the rule of law.Lord Keen said: “As regards the present Bill, it is designed to provide for a contingency which will only operate in the event of us having to respond to a material breach or a fundamental change in obligations and then only by bringing forward regulations that will require the approval of this House.“Unless and until that occurs, there is no breach of the treaty. There is simply a means by which the treaty obligations can be addressed in the event of a breach.”A government spokesman played down Keen’s remarks, saying: “Last week the Attorney General wrote to Select Committee chairs to set out the government’s legal position on the Withdrawal Agreement and the provisions in the UKIM Bill. This position has not changed.“This is about creating a legal safety net and taking the powers in reserve whereby Minister can act to guarantee the integrity of the UK and protect the peace process.’”Boris Johnson has held personal talks with lead rebel Sir Bob Neill, who has tabled an amendment aimed at giving MPs rather than ministers the final say over any powers used to tear up the international treaty.Related... Minister Admits Boris Johnson's Brexit Deal Plan Breaks The Law Here's WTF Is Going On In The Latest Big Brexit Row Can Tory Rebels Really Stop Boris Johnson From Breaking International Law?
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