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
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
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.
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'
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
Coronavirus merchandise is here – but we’re unsure who on earth is buying it.Designers are upping the ante with extortionate face shields and masks, while  online retailers are busy making questionable slogan tees and jumpers. If you’ve got cash to spend, there’s no shortage of people willing to take it.Here are seven items you’re better off leaving on the (digital) shelf: Louis Vuitton’s Pricey PPE Louis Vuitton is set to launch a designer face shield, with a price tag of $961 (£747), according to Vanity Fair. The shield is described as “an eye-catching headpiece, both stylish and protective”. It can also be flipped upwards and worn as a peaked hat, for people who aren’t satisfied with only looking slightly ridiculous. The pricey PPE will be in stores worldwide from October 30.Virus cufflinks Who wants to be reminded of a deadly virus every time they look at their hands? These cufflinks are just bizarre, but the novelty site CafePress is also selling some with the slogan “wear a damn mask”, which we can (just about) get on board with.  Anything with ‘survivor’ onThere are way too many “Covid-19 Survivor” items on sale, like this hoodie currently available on Amazon. Firstly, insensitive much? Secondly, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, don’t count your chickens... Mask chainsA number of retailers are selling “mask chains” – essentially glasses cords, repurposed for the pandemic so you don’t forget your face mask. The product above is by the jewellery designer Billie Simone and retails for a whopping $228 (£177). That’s a lot to pay to have your mask flapping around – and it’s definitely not the correct way to store it.Leather face masks Designer Candice Cuoco has a collection of leather face masks on sale at Selfridges. The one above is priced at £75. One word: sweaty. Corona birthday mug Remember when we all thought everything would be okay if we just kept singing ‘Happy Birthday’ while washing our hands? Please, do not buy anyone this depressing reminder. The worst Christmas jumper. EverCorona Christmas is coming to town – and we don’t need a reminder with this premature jumper, thank you very much. It’s being sold on NotOnTheHighStreet for £32.99 and we fear it’s the first of many. READ MORE: When Will We Be Able To Ditch Face Masks? The Rule Of Six: All Your Questions, Answered How Introverts And Extroverts Handle The Pandemic Differently
Covid-19 cases are rising in the UK. We’re watching government briefings, navigating new restrictions on our social lives and speculating – without any certainty – where we’ll be in a few months’ time. We’ve been here before. The past fortnight has eerily resembled early March, when rumours circulated that a nationwide lockdown was imminent, but we had no idea what it would entail – or how long it would last.This time, though, we’re painfully aware of how difficult it is to be cut off from friends, family and normality for a sustained period of time.“It’s one thing to be faced with lockdown, but another to be faced with the possibility of doing it all over again,” psychologist Dr Tara Quinn-Cirillo tells HuffPost UK. “Like standing at the bottom of a mountain we just climbed and have to climb again.”READ MORE: Why You Should Embrace Autumn, Even If You're Feeling A Little Wobbly News of a possible second wave may produce feelings of fear or anxiety, adds Dr Quinn-Cirillo, especially for those with pre-existing mental health issues, who’ve only just been able to reconnect with their support networks. Having new restrictions imposed, such as the six-person rule, could be a “traumatic experience” for many people, adds counsellor and psychotherapist Lucy Fuller. “The new announcement has also taken us back to the idea that we don’t know how the future will look as there is no given date when restrictions can lift again,” she tells HuffPost UK. “This put us back into a state of not-knowing for a second time, which can feel unbearable.”  The feeling couldn’t juxtapose the joy of the past two months more, where we ate out “to help out”, got some long-awaited haircuts and spent some carefree time with our grandparents again, breathing a collected sigh of relief. READ MORE: The Rule Of Six: All Your Questions, Answered Anxiety may be mixed with frustration for some because of the recent happier times, points out Dr Quinn-Cirillo. Facing new restrictions can feel like an unjust consequence of following the rules, for those who’ve diligently worn face masks and abided by social distancing. “What we know about human behaviour is adhering to rules is dependent on many factors, including how we are rewarded for sticking to the rules,” she says. “Many of us were of the belief that sticking to the rules in lockdown and in the weeks after would be rewarded with a more gradual loosening of restrictions. Fairness also plays a huge part in rule compliance.”Some have questioned the fairness of the “rule of six” in relation to family life, when larger groups are being encouraged to gather in the workplace or at pubs and gyms. “When we’re faced with a lack of clarity or clear rationale on how and why we should behave in a certain way, this can impact on our emotional wellbeing,” adds Dr Quinn-Cirillo. READ MORE: How To Force A September Reset During This Chaotic Year So, what can we do to improve our feelings towards the latest restrictions and concerns for the winter months to come? Simply acknowledging your feelings of uncertainty is a good place to start, says Dr Quinn-Cirillo. “Trying to ‘battle’ to ‘get rid’ of your unwanted feelings can be emotionally and physically exhausting,” she says. “Try making room for them instead.”Next, you should aim to live in the present moment. “Try your best to focus on what you are able to do, rather than what you are not able to do,” says Fuller. “This is difficult, but the circumstances of the ‘six rule’ are actually very different to the strict lockdown we were subjected to back in March.”One positive step is to make plans that abide by the rule of six. If you’re worried about the virus, focus on keeping face-to-face contact with those you’re closest to as best you can, says Fuller. Turn down invitations you’re not comfortable with, but stay connected with those you love most. “It would be easy to throw away all your plans and fester in your angry and frustrated feelings, but that would be a step backwards,” she says. It would be easy to throw away all your plans and fester in your angry and frustrated feelings, but that would be a step backwards.psychologist Dr Tara Quinn-CirilloIf you’re hit by a wave of panic, try a grounding exercise to bring you back to  the present moment. “Take a deep slow breath in through your nose and out again through your mouth,” suggests Dr Quinn-Cirillo. “Try and name three things you can see, hear, smell. Push your feet into the floor and focus on how it feels. Find what coping style works for you.” Now is not the time to skimp on everyday self-care, she adds, so make sure you’re getting the basics right. “Keep hydrated, well nourished through healthy mindfully chosen food. Exercise as often as you can as this is proven to positively impact on your emotional wellbeing,” she says. “Even just a short walk, cycle ride or run, playing a game in an outside space with your children.”Finally, be kind to yourself – you’ve navigated a hell of a lot over the last six months and it’s okay if your resilience is reaching its limits. “Take time to acknowledge this and take pressure off yourself where you can,” Dr Quinn-Cirillo says. “This may be reducing chores, deadlines, or asking for support from others.”READ MORE: Yes, We've Been On Holiday In The Pandemic – Don't Shame Us How To Prepare For The Uncertainty Of A Recession What We Know About The Long-Term Impact Of 'Mild' Covid-19 Useful websites and helplinesMind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email [email protected] Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on
Verizon has partnered with the NFL to offer live viewing parties and AR replay features during the season which kicks off today. Like everything this year, football will be very different courtesy of COVID-19. The draft was held virtually for the first time. Between August 30th and September 5th, there were 44,510 tests administered to... Read more » The post Verizon partners with the NFL to offer live viewing parties and AR replays appeared first on Telecoms Tech News.
The feature will eventually extend to a variety of sporting and music events.
Here are the top media and advertising stories from Business Insider for September 10.
I don’t think I’ve witnessed the levels of excitement in my house the night before schools started after lockdown... ever. Perhaps at Christmas Eve, or the night my daughter hosted a sleepover for her eighth birthday. That came close. But it was nothing compared to the giddy euphoria of my little girl preparing for going back to primary school after six months at home. She worried she wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before because she was too excited and she couldn’t stop talking about seeing her friends. She asked me to read her the email I’d received from her headteacher, which laid out the ways school would be different – temperature guns at the gate, individual desks facing the front, rather than blocks of children sitting together – five times. She carefully laid out her school uniform (which is all new, because she’s grown so much since March) on the floor, ready to put on the next morning. And she even created a ‘20-point plan’ for the way she hoped and expected the hour before school to go down. Related... 'My Biggest Concern Is A Sudden Outbreak': How Teachers Feel About Schools Reopening It began with point 1: “Mummy wakes me up at 7.30am” – which is, in itself, a revelation. For the past six months, we’ve relaxed bedtimes, and she’s been waking up naturally around 8.30am. We needn’t have worried about this one, though – she was so excited, she was dressed by 7:32 (after point 2 on her list: “shower” and point 3: “dry”, of course). She had everything accounted for – from point 11, “brush my teeth”, to point 14, which consisted of helping her little brother put his “bike helmit on” (sic). And the points that really warmed my heart? The final three: “18. Feel excited. 19. Get ready, and 20. GO TO SCHOOL!”Seeing my daughter create a blow-by-blow schedule, in anticipation of the return to school, showed me just how much our kids want to be “back to normal”. Related... 'Collect Child, Leave Immediately': The Loss Of The Playground Pick-Up Buzz We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, with infection rates going up in parts of the world and local lockdowns reimposed. We’ve taken the necessary precautions, however uncomfortable they’ve made us: quarantine and self-isolation, homeschooling, social distancing, shielding and wearing face masks.At times, it’s felt impossible. Research tells us the mental health of parents has suffered during the pandemic – mothers, particularly; who bore the brunt of homeschooling. A third of women reported the stress of teaching their children during lockdown had affected their mental health.But just as much as it’s affected mums, dads and carers, it’s also had a substantial effect on our kids. The ONS analysed the results of a survey of more than 12,000 British parents between April 3 and June 7, which asked them about their experiences of homeschooling during the pandemic, and more than two in five said their children’s wellbeing has been adversely affected.Hopefully, our kids won’t suffer long-term – but what my daughter’s reaction taught me is that a return to school, if done safely, is, in many ways, a blessing. Related... Here's How To Make The First Day Back At School Easier For Kids As for how it went? Well, she ticked off all of her 20 points with a marker pen as she did them – though I did scupper things, slightly, when I told her I didn’t want to wear a coat, contravening point 16: “Mummy puts her coat on”.She couldn’t stop chattering on the 10-minute walk to school – she was so giddy, she even asked if she could “do a cartwheel in the street” (I said yes to a cartwheel, but no to the splits). We saw a friend of hers on the other side of the road, and it was as though they’d met at the end of a long voyage at sea – which, in a way, they have. They threw their arms around each other immediately and held hands all the way to school, which I wasn’t too worried about, seeing as they’re in the same “class bubble”. It was refreshing for me to see parent pals I’ve missed dearly during lockdown, too. The only thing I couldn’t do was hug them hello. September is always a poignant time – the start of the academic year, the scent of autumn in the air. But as Britain slowly wakes up to the sound of children chattering excitedly on the way to the classroom, what it really brings with it is a renewed, if fragile, sense of normality – and hope. Related... Matt Hancock Hopes For Mass Coronavirus Testing By End Of Year I Took One Of My Kids On A 'Love Bombing' Trip. Here's Why. Dorset Secondary School Says Pupils Must Wear Face Masks In Class
If you’re already dreaming of trips you can take next year to make up for the holidays you lost in 2020, you’ll want to make the most of your annual leave. Thankfully, Rachel Evans, a HR director from health and wellness brand GearHungry, has done the maths for you to help you almost double your leave from work, while only using your allocated allowance. You can turn 28 days (20 days holiday, plus eight bank holidays) into 53, she reckons. Dreamy!Essentially, you need to book your days off around bank holidays and weekends, she says, so you accumulate large periods of time off as opposed to a few days here and there.Related... 7 Of The Trendiest Hostels In The UK Right Now An overview: the 2021 bank holidays are:Friday January 1 – New Year’s DayFriday April 2 – Good FridayMonday April 5 – Easter MondayMonday May 3 – May bank holidayMonday May 31 – Spring bank holidayMonday August 30 – Summer bank holidayMonday December 27 – Christmas DayTuesday December 28 – Boxing DayApril: Turn eight days into 16 Book eight days annual leave in two small chunks from March 29 to April 1, then April 6-9 – and, as you have two bank holidays on the April 2 and April 5, you’ll get 16 consecutive days away from work, including three weekends. You’ll end up with time off from March 27, to April 11. May: Turn eight days into 19. The UK has an early bank holiday that can turn your four-day break to nine, says Evans, if you book off from Tuesday May 4 to Friday May 9. Consecutively, you’ll be off from May 1-9. And then, at the end of the month, you can do the same thing with the bank holiday on the 31. Book off June 1 to June 4, and get nine consecutive days off from May 29 - June 6.August: Turn four days into nine.The summer bank holiday falls on Monday August 30, so if you take time off from Tuesday August 31 to Friday September 3, you’ll get nine days away from work overall. December: Turn three days into 10.  The Christmas bank holidays fall on Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 of December, so for a few extra days off, book off December 29 and 31 to give you 10 days out the office. Related... How To Staycation In Your Local Area. No Travelling Required. Would You Work From Abroad, Instead Of Home? These People Do 8 Of The Best Glamping Sites In The UK For Truly Cosy Campers
The first Thursday of September has long been known as “Super Thursday” in UK publishing: the day in the calendar when the largest number of new titles hit the shelves, with booksellers hoping to entice readers hunkering down for autumn with a cup of tea and a good book. Or two. Or 10.This year, no thanks to Covid-19 and months of lockdown, Super Thursday’s book pile is teetering like a Jenga tower – with all the launches that were scheduled for summer festivals and holiday reading held over and added to an already chocabloc autumn list. More than 600 hardbacks alone are being published on September 3, the Guardian reported.With so many reads to choose from, we thought we’d ask booksellers which ones have them most excited. Here’s their rundown of the class of 2020 – from debut authors to more familiar names. Just don’t forget the joys of browsing for yourself. Visit your local bookshop and they’ll be sure to help you find more.Related... These Are All The Books Brits Have Been Reading During Lockdown 9 New Releases For Fiction FansAs recommended by Bea Carvalho, fiction buyer at Waterstones.1) Who They Was – Gabriel Krauze“2020 has seen an incredibly strong selection of debut voices, as showcased by the Booker longlist which includes a majority of eight debuts including Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, C Pam Zhang’s How Much of These Hills is Gold, and Brandon Taylor’s Real Life. Hitting the shelves on Super Thursday with a Booker longlisting already under its belt, Gabriel Krauze’s debut is one of the year’s most hotly anticipated. This unflinching portrayal of violence on London’s streets is a highly original piece of fiction from an exciting, authentic new voice.”2)  On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong“The poet’s debut novel was one of last year’s most celebrated works of literary fiction, and this new edition promises to be one of 2020’s biggest paperbacks. A triumphant work of self-discovery which ponders the immigrant experience and barriers of language, sexuality, and race with compassion and urgency.”3) The Thursday Murder Club –  Richard Osman“Pointless star Richard Osman’s debut novel sees a group of octogenarian amateur sleuths attempting to solve a murder from their usually peaceful retirement village. Smart, funny, and filled with killer one-liners, this is a thoroughly contemporary take on a classic murder mystery.”4) Daddy – Emma Cline“The debut short story collection from the author of The Girls is filled with dark, understated gems which will thrill fans of her novel. Interrogating gender roles, familial relationships, and the latent violence in every day interactions, this is a tense and assured collection from an author with a rare knack for characterisation.”5) Your House Will Pay – Steph Cha“Steph Cha’s UK debut arrived earlier this year but Super Thursday sees its paperback release. This striking, confident thriller about two families on either sides of the LA race riots in the 1990s is at once a powerful cross-generational family saga and an urgent examination of racial politics.”6) Sad Janet – Lucie Britsch“A whipsmart, biting piece of tragicomedy which manages to inspire real laughter while celebrating sadness. Hilarious, profound and deeply refreshing, Lucie Britsch’s acerbic, pitch-perfect writing will appeal to fans of Ottessa Moshfegh.”7) Love Orange – Natasha Randall“Natasha Randall expertly deconstructs the narrative of the American Dream in this satirical 21st century family saga. A shrewd, witty novel which skewers modern life to vivid, discomforting effect.” 8) The Night of the Flood – Zoe Summerville“A taught, evocative literary thriller which conjures 1950s Norfolk and the mirrored tensions of a love triangle and a fateful storm to dazzling effect.” 9) The Silver Arrow – Lev Grossman“The fantasy author makes his children’s debut with this magical adventure of derring-do, in which two siblings journey aboard a steam train with a mind of its own. A fun new direction for Grossman, introducing his writing to younger readers.’Related... All The Independent Bookshops Still Delivering During Lockdown, Mapped 4 More From An Indie BookstoreAs recommended by Jonathan Main from Bookseller Crow, London SE19.10) Laura Laura by Richard Francis“Richard Francis is one of the UK’s most underrated novelists.”11) To Cook A Bear – Mikael Niemi“Brilliant Swedish historical crime fiction.”12) The Glass Kingdom – Lawrence Osbourne“A sinister and claustrophobic story set in Bangkok.”13) New Daughters of Africa by Margaret Busby“A long awaited paperback, following the £35 hardback earlier in the year.”Related... Why Poetry Matters, Plus 3 Great Collections To Get You Started 9 Cracking Reads From Across The GenresAs recommended by Emma Bradshaw, head of campaigns at the Booksellers Association14) The Wild Silence – Raynor Winn“Raynor Winn’s debut, The Salt Path, was shortlisted for the bookseller-curated Books Are My Bag readers awards, and was a big hit with customers. We’re excited for her second book, The Wild Silence, another true tale of triumph over adversity.”15) Fattily Ever After: A Fat, Black Girl’s Guide to Living Life Unapologetically – Stephanie Yeboah“The first novel from body-positivity advocate and blogger sensation, Stephanie Yeboah, Fattily Ever After is definitely one to pre-order.”16) The Harpy – Megan Hunter“Megan Hunter’s first novel, The End We Start From, was shortlisted for the ‘Books Are My Bag’ readers awards. This hotly anticipated dark fairy tale, The Harpy, is independent booksellers’ fiction book of the month.”17) Duty of Care: One NHS Doctor’s Story of Courage and Compassion on the Covid-19 Frontline – Dominic Pimenta“The first book from a doctor on the Covid-19 frontline, with all royalties going straight to the Heroes charity to support and protect healthcare workers.”18) Us Three – Ruth JonesHaving made her name as the creator and star of Gavin & Stacey, Ruth Jones made her move into the book world with her bestselling debut Never Greener. An engrossing tale of friendship, Us Three is her anticipated second novel.19) A Girl Made of Air – Nydia Hetherington“For fans of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and The Binding by Bridget Collins, this magical debut from actress-turned-writer Nydia Hetherington is just the kind of book to curl up and escape to as the days get shorter.”20) Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies – The Secret Barrister:“A previous Books Are My Bag award-winner, we’re very excited to get our hands on a copy of The Secret Barrister’s second book.”21) Tamarind & the Star of Ishta – Jasbinder Bilan“Following the success of Jasbinder Bilan’s first spellbinding children’s book, which won a Costa award, we expect her second, set in the Himalayas, to be another magical adventure for young readers. Independent bookshops across will be celebrating it as their children’s book of the month for September, too.”22) Confessions of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell“Booksellers are hugely excited about the paperback release of this memoir by one of their own. Lifting the lid on what it’s really like to be a bookseller in the UK, it’s a must read for anyone who’s ever dreamed of working in a bookshop.”Bookshops across the country will be celebrating Bookshop Day on Saturday October 3.Related... How To Survive A Pandemic, According To These Fictional Characters 9 Classic Books To Read On Your Holiday – Or Staycation We Must Talk Diversity With Our Kids. Here's Where To Start.
Boris Johnson should block former Brexit MEP Claire Fox from being given a seat in the House of Lords rather than accuse Keir Starmer of being silent over support for the IRA, Labour has said.In angry exchanges during PMQs on Wednesday, the prime minister accused the Labour leader of having “supported an IRA-condoning politician” when Jeremy Corbyn led the party.Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions, demanded Johnson withdraw the comment.“When the prime minister has worked with the intelligence and security forces prosecuting criminals and terrorists he can lecture me,” he said.Following the exchanges, a spokesperson for Starmer said: “One thing we would remind the prime minister is that he has the power to block Claire Fox being nominated as a member of the House of Lords.“So if he wants to take any action on this issue we suggest he does that.”Fox was recently handed a peerage by Johnson. Before signing up to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in 2019, she was a leading of member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).On March 20, 1993, an IRA bombing in Warrington killed Tim Parry, 12, and Jonathan Ball, three, and injured 56 others.The RCP defended the bombing and the “the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures necessary in their struggle for freedom”. Tim Parry’s father, Colin Parry, said at the time that offering a peerage to Fox “offends me and many others deeply”.We all do and say things when young that we later regret. @clairefox never apologised for defending the IRA bombing of Warrington which took the life of my son Tim and Johnathan Ball. Now she is offered a Peerage. This offends me and many others deeply— Colin Parry OBE (@ColinParryPeace) August 1, 2020Fox has previously said she has the “greatest sympathy” for the Parry family but has not gone as far as apologising.“My personal politics and views are well known and I have never sought to disguise them, though on this issue they have remained unaired for many years,” she said when asked about her political views at the time of the 2019 European elections.“Whatever the rights and wrongs, the history of Ireland has been marked by tragedy and I acknowledge that without hesitation and with genuine feeling for all involved.”The PMQs argument came after Starmer said Johnson’s government was responsible for “mess after mess”.“U-turn after U-turn, it’s a fundamental issue of competence, God knows what’s going on, there’s no grip,” he said.In reply, Johnson said: “This is a leader of the opposition who backed remaining in the EU and now is totally silent on the subject, now has performed a U-turn. He backed – in fact he still does Mr Speaker – this is a leader of the opposition who supported an IRA-condoning politician who wanted to get out of Nato and now says absolutely nothing.”The prime minister’s comments were cut off by the speaker who called for order.Related... Government U-Turns Again By Reversing Plans To Ease Local Lockdowns In Manchester 12 U-Turns Boris Johnson's Government Has Been Forced To Make During The Pandemic Gavin Williamson Overruled Advice Not To Cancel Exams, Says Ofqual Chair
Not content with hosting one online festival in a pandemic year, How The Light Gets In is doing it again – only this time it’s going global across three continents.Following the success of its first virtual edition in May 2020, the philosophy and music festival returns for a fresh weekend of live debate and performance on 19-20 September, with a programme of more than 200 online events across eight stages, curated and hosted from London, New York and Delhi.Nobel prizewinners, academics, politicians and journalists will be joined by the mix of musicians and comedians How the Light Gets In regulars have come to expect – all appearing in a purpose-built festival site on Zoom.Related... How The Light Gets In: What A Festival Looks Like In Lockdown The online arena has been designed to emulate the conviviality and serendipity of the festival’s biannual editions in Hay-on-Wye and London – with a chance to mingle with old friends, make new ones and chew the fat with speakers after each of the live sessions. There’s even an after-hours disco.HuffPost UK once again returns as How The Light Gets In media partner, with journalists from its international editions hosting select panels and interviews.Paul Waugh, HuffPost UK’s executive editor of politics, and writer of The Waugh Zone, will be chairing the ‘Dreams, Delusions and Class Interests’ panel, overseeing Conservative cabinet Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, Labour MP Dawn Butler and satirist PJ O’Rourke wrestling with the relevance of class and whether “left” and “right” are still good ways to split up politics.Rachel Moss, life reporter and co-presenter of HuffPost UK’s weekly podcast about women’s health, bodies and private lives, Am I Making You Uncomfortable? will be interviewing human rights activist Bianca Jagger. Aman Sethi, editor-in-chief of HuffPost India, will be hosting ‘Tomorrow’s World’, a debate weighing up technology both as a threat and solution, with Oxford transhumanist Anders Sandberg, inventor and green technologist, Priyadarshini Karve, and director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo. You can browse the full programme for HowTheLightGetsIn Global 2020 here and book your tickets and festival passes here.Related... Introducing Black Voices UK – Our New Video Series Hosted By Yinka Bokinni Partying In A Pandemic: Why The Rave Scene Is Experiencing A Resurgence Am I Making You Uncomfortable? – Introducing Our New Weekly Podcast
A man has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 39 migrants who were found dead in the back of a lorry in Essex last October. Ronan Hughes, 40, from Co Armagh in Northern Ireland, appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday after being extradited from the Republic of Ireland in July. He was one of several men accused of being part of a people-smuggling ring linked to the deaths of the 39 migrants last October.Prosecutors said he played a leading role in the operation by allowing his trailers and drivers to be used in human trafficking.The bodies of 39 Vietnamese nationals were found in the trailer of a lorry on an industrial estate in Grays on October 23, 2019, after it landed at Purfleet in Essex from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.Among the men, women and children found dead were 10 teenagers, including two 15-year-old boys.An inquest has heard the victims’ cause of death was asphyxia (a lack of oxygen) and hyperthermia (overheating) in an enclosed space.Related... Lorry Driver Maurice Robinson Pleads Guilty To Manslaughter Of 39 People Opinion: Priti Patel Must Recognise Channel Crossings Are Not A Crisis Of Movement But Of Cooperation Exclusive: Priti Patel 'Breaking The Law' By 'Detaining' Lone Children Who Cross The Channel
We’re here to guide you through the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up to the Life newsletter for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism.When they first met, on a blind date back in July 2016, Harry and Meghan found themselves bonding over a shared love of humanitarian work. Their third date was a “huge leap” because they found themselves, on Harry’s invitation, camping under the stars in Botswana, where the prince is a patron of the animal welfare charity Rhino Conservation Botswana. Meghan and Harry have their own particular areas of focus on matters of philanthropy and social change, but they also share a number of concerns. Meghan, for example, has been an advocate for women’s rights since long before she was married, and it seems Harry, too, has fully embraced identifying as a feminist.In a conversation presented exclusively by MAKERS, which, alongside HuffPost, is owned by Verizon Media, the Duchess of Sussex sat down with feminist icon Gloria Steinem for a little “backyard chat” in California. Sitting six feet apart, with the Duke and Duchess’ new Santa Barbara home standing majestically in the background, they talked about representation and the importance of voting, until the conversation turned, briefly, to Harry. View this post on InstagramA post shared by MAKERS Women (@makerswomen) on Aug 25, 2020 at 12:32pm PDT“Well,” Steinem said, “you can be a feminist and be masculine and a guy.”“Like my husband! I love that when he just came in he said, ‘You know that I’m a feminist, too, right Gloria? It’s really important to me that you know that,’” Markle said. “I look at our son and what a beautiful example that he gets to grow up with a father who is so comfortable owning that as part of his own self-identification. That there’s no shame in being someone who advocates for fundamental human rights for everyone, which, of course, includes women.”“And also that he is a nurturing father,” Steinem replied. “Because then your son will grow up knowing it’s okay to be loving and nurturing.”Harry being open about his feminism isn’t new, per se. In 2013, for example, at the Nepal Girl Summit in Kathmandu, the prince gave a speech about women’s empowerment. “While the unique challenges faced by girls is not a topic I have spoken much about in the past, I think it’s important to acknowledge something that has become obvious to me and is already known to everyone in this room: There are way too many obstacles between girls and the opportunities they deserve,” he said. “It cannot just be women who speak up for girls.Oh, and of course there was that time when a fan of the royal family, at Cardiff castle in 2018, told Markle that she thought it was “really lovely to have a feminist in the royal family,” to which Markle responded: “Thank you. [Harry’s] a feminist, too!”Markle has previously talked about wanting to raise her baby, regardless of its gender, to be a feminist. In 2019, when she was still pregnant with baby Archie, the Duchess joined a number of influential women on a panel for International Women’s Day. When asked how the pregnancy was going, she shared a moment that had recently moved her.“It’s funny, I’d actually been joking these past few weeks; I’d seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism and one of the things they said during pregnancy was, ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism,’” she said. “I loved that. So boy or girl, whatever it is, we hope that’s the case.” View this post on InstagramA post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on Dec 31, 2019 at 12:15pm PSTAnd the following month, a source close to the couple said they were planning to raise their baby without gender stereotyping — that the nursery wouldn’t be filled with toy trains and cars if it happened to be a boy.Well, as it happened, they did have a boy, and, like Markle told Steinem, that boy seems to have a pretty good example of a father. During a roundtable discussion about gender equality in October 2019, at the One Young World Summit, Harry made a surprise appearance.“In terms of gender equality, which is something I have championed for a long time, I think that conversation can’t happen without men being a part of it,” Markle said. “You can’t have a conversation of women’s empowerment with just women….Thank you for letting [Harry] crash the party.” It's official - Prince Harry is a feminist, Meghan Markle revealed today. Jessica Phillips, 23, told Meghan she loved having a feminist in the Royal Family.— Jack Royston (@Jack_Royston) January 18, 2018Well, it looks like baby Archie will be growing up in a home with two beautiful examples of feminist parents — a home where the tough stuff, some of the most important social issues of our world, is tackled head-on, rather than avoided.Who knows how it’ll enrich his perspective on life when he grows up.Related... 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Black Caribbean pupils have fallen dramatically behind their white counterparts at GCSE level in the past five years in the wake of school budget and welfare cuts, a new report has found.The Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that Black children suffered disproportionately as progress on narrowing the “attainment gap” between richer and poorer pupils stalled for the first time in a decade.The think tank’s annual report said that disadvantaged children of all races were being penalised by inequality even before the impact of Covid-19 this year, when school closures were widely believed to have hit the less well off hardest.Researchers found that disadvantaged pupils in England are 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs – the same gap as five years ago and the first time in years that the gap has not narrowed.It found that the rich-poor attainment gap in primary school – at 9.3 months – was actually now widening for the first time since 2007, when Tony Blair was in power.And progress in narrowing the gap for pupils with disabilities, special needs, in care or receiving help from social services has also stalled in the past five years.EPI chief, former schools minister David Laws, told HuffPost UK that the study suggested “an iron link between poverty and educational outcomes”.He warned that Boris Johnson’s claim to be “levelling up” the country could only succeed with a dramatic change of course.Among the most stark findings was a worsening of performance for Black Caribbean pupils at English and Maths GCSE.In 2014, the group was already 6.2 months of learning behind their white counterparts. But the figure soared to 10.9 months in 2019.By contrast, Bangladeshi children have dramatically improved their GCSE performance. In 2011 they were narrowly ahead of white pupils by nearly a month, but in 2019 they were 5.1 months ahead.Chinese pupils are nearly two years ahead of white pupils in attainment, while Indian pupils are a year ahead.Roma and Irish traveller children suffered the biggest gap, with upto three years behind at GCSE, but unlike Black pupils their performance has improved since 2011.Laws said poverty – and possibly welfare cuts – were most likely to be the cause. “It would be difficult to understand why ethnic prejudice or a change in the quality of schools or anything like that would have affected this group so rapidly,” he said.“We can see that nothing much was happening between Black Caribbean and White British [gaps] until 2015 and over the last four years they have basically fallen behind by a month of learning every year. This is a really short period of time.“To explain a change of that magnitude over a short period of years it’s difficult to think of anything other than relative economic circumstances that would explain it.“It could be that versus a white British population, their economic circumstances have fallen behind a lot, maybe more of them are dependent upon the welfare system and they’ve been suffering from the welfare expenditure [cuts].”EPI will conduct a separate review into the racial disparities. “While it is likely that poverty is contributing to some of these trends, there is also a need to understand the extent to which other societal and educational factors are creating and worsening inequalities amongst these groups of pupils,” it said.Disadvantage gaps are particularly acute in the North, West Midlands and parts of the South.In some areas, poorer pupils are over two full years of education behind their peers by the time they take their GCSEs, including in Blackpool (26.3 months), Knowsley (24.7 months) and Plymouth (24.5 months).In contrast, there are very low GCSE disadvantage gaps concentrated in London, where teachers tend to be paid more, funding per pupil has been higher and where the “London challenge” under Labour shared best practice.Tower Hamlets and Newham both low gaps, with 5.6 months each. Other relative successes were Ealing (4.6 months), Redbridge (2.7 months) and Westminster (0.5 months).Researchers also found that children suffering from long term poverty – defined as those on free school meals for over 80% of their time at school – have twice as worse a learning gap as others who spend a short time on the breadline.Those in “persistent” poverty have a learning gap of 22.7 months, compared to 11.3 months for poor pupils who are on free school meals for less than 20% of their time at school.Significantly, the proportion of pupils with a high persistence of poverty is on the rise. Since 2017, the proportion of pupils in this group has risen from 34.8% to 36.7%, a rise the study says “appears to be an important contributor to the lack of progress with the gap overall”.The report concludes: “This year’s annual report provides concerning evidence that progress in narrowing educational inequalities has ground to halt.“While educational standards and overall attainment has been maintained since the previous year (and even increased slightly at secondary school), the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their non-disadvantaged peers has stopped closing.“This was the worrying position from which the school system entered the many challenges of the pandemic and lockdown in 2020, which are widely expected to worsen disadvantage gaps.“The gap has now begun to widen across all three phases of education that we consider in this report – the early years, primary school and secondary school.”Laws told HuffPost UK that the findings were the “complete opposite” of the vision that Johnson used to win his big majority in the general election last year.“This could be the first government for 20 years that doesn’t level up but ends up with less social mobility and less opportunity.”He said that greater early years funding would make a big difference, as well as much greater catch-up funding for poorer areas. Under Johnson’s plans, Tory areas which traditionally got less cash will get more money as part of his “levelling up” plan.“While we don’t want poverty to be almost an excuse for poor educational performance, what we can see is there is an iron link between poverty and educational outcomes at a national level,” Laws said.“Reducing the gap at a time when there is rising child poverty would be very challenging and for Gavin Williamson to deliver more social mobility and a smaller gap, he would need education policy and wider social policy to be working in tandem. Which means not increasing levels of poverty through further real cuts in welfare expenditure.”Professor Becky Francis, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “Today’s EPI report again shows that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers continues to blight our education system. As our research shows, this gap is likely to have widened considerably as a result of school closures.”A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “Our £1 billion Covid catch up package will tackle the impact of lost teaching time, including a £650 million catch up premium to help schools support all pupils and the £350 million National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged students.“This includes up to £9 million available for the Nuffield Early Language intervention programme to support those who have missed out on early education at an essential time for their development.”The department added that it has committed £100 million to support remote education for disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils facing key points in their education.By the end of June over 202,000 laptops and tablets and over 47,000 4G wireless routers had been delivered or dispatched to academy trusts and local authorities.Related... 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The Great British Bake Off bosses have revealed the “massive sacrifice” the cast and crew made to ensure this year’s series could happen despite the pandemic. Kieran Smith, who is the creative director at the Channel 4 show’s production company Love Productions, detailed various behind-the-scenes secrets from filming, including how 120 people had to live in a self-contained biosphere for six weeks during the shoot so they did not have to socially distance. Speaking to Broadcast, Smith said: “So many people rely on Bake Off for work that we knew we had to work out a plan.”Smith worked with Love Productions’ managing director Letty Kavanagh to hire a South-East location in July, where all of the cast and crew lived alongside 80 members of the production team, 20 hotel staff, and around 20 “children, chaperones and dog walkers”.Prior to moving in to the hotel, people had to self-isolate for nine days and take three Covid tests to ensure they did not have the virus. The six-week shoot, which was described as “gruelling”, saw the team work on a “two days on, two days off” basis, while they also built 12 practise kitchens for the bakers to use on their days off. When filming, producers even worked out a way to transport people from the tent to the nearby hotel so no-one would need to use any public toilets. Smith and Kavanagh revealed that there was only one coronavirus scare during the shoot, which turned out to be a false alarm. “It was a massive operation,” Smith said. “It felt like the safest place in Britain.”He also said new host Matt Lucas, who replaced Sandi Toksvig to team up with Noel Fielding, had also slotted right into the show.“He was practically living with the bakers,” Smith said. “It felt like he had always been there.”On Wednesday, it was confirmed on Bake Off’s social media pages that filming on the 11th series had wrapped. View this post on InstagramA post shared by The Great British Bake Off (@britishbakeoff) on Aug 19, 2020 at 4:00am PDTFilming was originally due to take place in the spring in order for the show to begin airing this month. However, judge Paul Hollywood, who returned to the show alongside Prue Leith, previously told Radio Times that could “turn around the programme pretty quickly and still have it out in late summer or early autumn”. READ MORE: Great British Bake Off Has Already Resumed Filming 'In Deep Secret' Amid Coronavirus Changes Paul Hollywood 'Surprised' And 'Upset' By Sandi Toksvig's Bake Off Exit Sue Perkins Reveals 'Painful' Paul Hollywood Fall Out That's Left Her 'Devastated'
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Ben Cross, best known for his starring role in Chariots Of Fire, has died at the age of 72, following a short illness.The actor played British Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in the 1981 film, which won four Oscars including Best Picture.News of his death was confirmed on Monday evening, with his representatives saying in a statement: “Ben passed away suddenly today following a short illness.“He had just finished shooting The Devil’s Light for Lionsgate and later this year will be seen in Last Letter From Your Lover in a leading role.”A post on his Facebook page, which said it was written by his daughter Lauren, said Ben had a “rapid decline” in the last week.It said: “I am utterly heartbroken to share with you that my darling father died a few hours ago.“He had been sick for a while but there was a rapid decline over the past week.“The press will be announcing his death soon, I just wanted you all, his most loyal and loving fans, to hear it from us first.“Thank you for all your support over the years. He really enjoyed interacting with you.”Ben was born Harry Bernard Cross in London in 1947. In 1970, he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Rada) aged 22, and after graduating from he appeared in a minor role in 1977’s A Bridge Too Far alongside Sir Sean Connery and Sir Michael Caine.The same year he became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed in Privates On Parade.He found wider success in 1978 appearing in the play Chicago as Billy Flynn, the lawyer representing murderer Roxie Hart.That performance is widely believed to have earned him his role in Chariots Of Fire, which was based on the true story of two British men racing for Olympic gold in 1924.In the intervening years, he appeared as Malagant in 1995’s First Knight and Sarek in the 2009 Star Trek reboot.James Bond star Colin Salmon, who worked on The Devil’s Light alongside Ben shortly before his death, was among who paid tribute.Ben Cross and I were working together on#DevilsLight 12 days ago before he headed off to Vienna. It was good working with him, seeing his twinkle & his craft. He wrote songs for the Sinatra of Bulgaria, had so many stories & spoke in Bulgarian and German on set. Go Well Ben RIP.— Colin Salmon (@colinsalmon24) August 18, 2020At the beginning of my career, I met #Bencross while casting a feature. We shot a screen test at Pinewood Studios. I went to his home for dinner with his family. Ben Cross was a lovely man and talented actor. That movie never got made. But... what a classy guy.— Todd Holland (@ToddHolland3) August 18, 2020The magnificent Ben Cross as Harold Abrahams in ‘Chariots of Fire’ captured the burden of being an outsider, the hostility toward his Jewish antecedents & how even success is isolating: “With 10 lonely seconds to justify my existence.” You won gold - now rest from your running.— Martin Bashir (@MartinBashir) August 18, 2020
Rapper Ceon Broughton has had his conviction for the manslaughter of his girlfriend Louella Fletcher-Michie overturned by the Court of Appeal.Fletcher-Michie, daughter of Holby City and Coronation Street actor John Michie, died after taking 2-CP during the music festival at Lulworth Castle, Dorset, in September 2017.She was found dead in the early hours of September 11, the day she should have celebrated her 25th birthday, in a wooded area at the edge of the festival site.Broughton, 31, of Enfield, north London, was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and handed an eight-and-a-half-year sentence in March 2019, following a trial at Winchester Crown Court.Broughton challenged his manslaughter conviction and his jail term at a Court of Appeal hearing in June.At the appeal hearing, Broughton’s barrister Stephen Kamlish QC argued the conviction was unsafe because prosecutors had “failed to prove” that Fletcher-Michie would have survived had she received treatment by a certain point.He also argued Broughton’s sentence was “excessive” in any event.The jury at Broughton’s trial found him guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.He was also found guilty of supplying Fletcher-Michie with 2-CP at the festival.Broughton previously admitted supplying drugs to Fletcher-Michie at Glastonbury festival, in June 2017, and was in breach of a suspended prison sentence imposed for possessing a lock knife and a Stanley knife blade.Prosecutors told jurors during his trial that Broughton failed to take “reasonable” steps to seek medical help for Fletcher-Michie.They said he did not get help because he had been handed the suspended jail term a month earlier and feared the consequences. Related... Holby City Actor John Michie Branded Daughter's Killer 'Evil' Video Of Louella Fletcher-Michie And Boyfriend At Festival Where She Died Shown In Court
Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now. A former minister led calls for the government to rethink computer modelling that disproportionately downgraded the A-level results of poorer students. Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said in a post on his website on Friday he had urged education secretary Gavin Williamson to “look again” at the algorithm used by the regulator Ofqual in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown. The results sparked a furious backlash from youngsters, teachers and parents this week, after almost 40% of results were downgraded, with private school students benefiting in comparison to those at state schools. Though the number of passes and top grades increased overall, some students’ predicted marks were slashed by up to two grades. It has left thousands scrambling for a university place via clearing and many others blocked from taking up long-hoped-for places at top institutions. Loughton admitted “hugely disappointed students” were now in “extraordinarily distressing” circumstances, despite their hard work. He went on to say: “I have made the point to ministers that they should look at the algorithm again for those who have missed out on their place in further education, and also that assessed exams/mocks be the primary basis for appeal.”  Williamson made an eleventh hour concession on Wednesday to allow students to appeal and base their result on their mock exam grade if the final result was worse. It came after a major U-turn by the Scottish Government saw its downgraded results for Highers exams revoked. Thousands of young people also took part in a protest outside Downing Street on Friday, calling for Williamson to resign. Rob Halfon, chairman of the Commons’ education select committee, meanwhile, called on Ofqual to urgently meet with schools. “I am worried about it because some figures suggest that disadvantaged students have been penalised again,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.“I am also worried about further education colleges because they have been improving in recent years and yet they seem also to have suffered under this grading system.“If the model has penalised disadvantaged groups this is very serious and if it has disadvantaged colleges that has to be looked at. Ofqual will have to adjust the grades.”He later told HuffPost UK the government should “broaden the appeals system” and ensure that all charges for any appeal were scrapped.  He said: “The government needs to make it absolutely crystal clear, to universities particularly, that they have to be flexible, without a shadow of a doubt, given what has gone on.” Ofqual has insisted the algorithm was fair. Shadow education secretary Kate Green, meanwhile, warned there could be a “deluge” of appeals and it may prove impossible to get them all processed in time for September start dates. “I am concerned that if we have a deluge of appeals, which I think is quite likely given the fiasco we have seen over the last day-and-a-half, there just won’t be time for students to have those appeals processed and completed, and universities will fill up those places,” she told The World at One.She added: “As a one-off measure, we have to do something for these young people otherwise we are writing them off for the whole of their life chances.“I think it is right that this year we take exceptional measures, give those young people every possible opportunity to progress with their lives and make use of teacher assessments where we can’t be confident that algorithm and the government’s model has delivered fairness to very, very large numbers of students.”Related... Exclusive: Exam Board Gave Entire Classes Of Law Students Each Other's Grades Students March On Whitehall Demanding Gavin Williamson Be Sacked Over A-Level Fiasco Hereditary Tory Peer Suggests 'Grit And Perseverance' More Important Than A-Levels
Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.An exam board is “urgently” investigating after it scrambled the grades of entire law classes, failing students who were tipped for the best marks and giving flying colours to the lowest performers.Pupils in at least two colleges received completely different results from the ones they had been expecting, while many others are still waiting to receive their marks – a day and a half after they were due.The cancellation of exams due to the coronavirus pandemic has meant BTEC Nationals – vocational qualifications that can be taken in place of A-levels – are basing this year’s results on completed assessments and teachers’ predicted grades. Teachers were required to submit their students’ grades in a list, ranked in order of best to worst.But HuffPost UK has learned the exam board, Pearson, somehow turned these lists upside down by mistake.Pearson, the body that runs BTECs, confirmed some students had received “incorrect” results and said it was working to resolve the issue “urgently”.One teacher told HuffPost UK the appeals process could take “several weeks” to be resolved, leaving her pupils “confused” and “upset”.Elizabeth, who teaches applied law, knew something was wrong the moment she received the results: her class of 48 students had received an average Merit grade for their BTEC results, while her previous classes had an 83% Distinction* to Distinction grade.“I knew there was an immediate issue, so I went into the list and I clicked on the student ranked number one and I saw she had been given a fail, then I went to number two and I realised they had been given a near pass.Our worst students have got the best grades, and our best students have the worst grades.“Then I went all the way down to the bottom to the student that I had ranked last, and that student had been given a Distinction* and I saw quite a few who had been ranked at the bottom had been given a Distinction – that’s when I realised they had flipped the entire list.”Elizabeth worried at first it was her who had made the mistake. Her next thought was how her students would react. “I know a lot of them were very anxious because they couldn’t complete the exam, they were worried that we were going to give them a bad grade. Then what next went through my head was, ‘Oh my God, they’re going to blame me.’”She turned to a Facebook group of other teachers to ask if any of them had experienced the same problem. “They all came back to me saying they had similar issues where BTEC had flipped the ranking that we had provided them with.“So our worst students have got the best grades, and our best students have the worst grades.”When she informed Pearson of the mix-up, she was told to appeal using the standard appeals process, which she says is “pretty complicated”. “What frustrates me the most is that now we have to fix a problem that the exam board made.“We now have to go for a really long process of an appeal that was not our fault and wait, on average, four weeks to get the response for something that should have been done correctly in the first place.”Since Thursday morning, she has received emails from her “confused”, “upset” and “discouraged” students “asking what they did wrong”. “It makes you feel bad when you know their real grades should actually be a lot better.”As a teacher, she felt she and her pupils had been “100% let down” by the exam board. “It’s infuriating because you’ve seen the students work so hard for the entire year and then when it’s supposed to pay off and when they’re supposed to get the reward, you’re meant to congratulate them on what they’ve done – but you can’t because it’s all confusion and it’s all gone wrong.“My biggest concern is if a teacher is not familiar with the BTEC course, they might not be aware there’s been a mistake and it could affect those students.“It could have a massive effect on where they then go on to with regard to the next stage of their lives, whether it be university or apprenticeship, et cetera.”Around 250,000 students completed BTEC Nationals last year, compared to about 300,000 who sat A-levels in 2018. Around 20% of university students in England are accepted solely on BTEC qualifications.HuffPost UK has spoken to another teacher at a separate college who said the grades her students received “bore absolutely no resemblance to our previous success in Applied Law, nor to our ranking that we sent to BTEC”. They were unable to comment further.A spokesperson at Pearson said: “As a result of additional quality assurance checks, we have identified some students who have received incorrect BTEC Level 3 National results. We are working closely with the students and centres involved to resolve this issue urgently and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”It has also been revealed that BTEC students who were due to receive their results on Thursday morning are still awaiting their results in what some have described as a “shambles” and an “absolute nightmare”.I feel so powerless. Basically we’ve been fucked over.Pearson initially blamed the colleges for the delay, telling the Times Educational Supplement “a few centres didn’t meet our deadline for submitting grades”. But HuffPost UK has spoken to several colleges that categorically deny they missed any deadline.A representative at the City of Liverpool College confirmed their pupils had been impacted by the issue, and that the college had met all cut-offs for submission.Many pupils who have still not yet received their BTEC results are waiting with pending conditional university offers.Lucy Jackson, 18, said the situation had left her “very stressed and anxious and very frustrated” after a “sleepless night”. “The delay and possible downgrading on results mean I could miss out on a clearing spot. This could mean that I have to defer going to university for a year, which is not ideal.”Another parent told HuffPost UK their family was “really stressed out” by the experience. “I am angry for this generation of students,” one said. “They had to cope with teaching stopping suddenly and this is their future at stake.“As parents we have to support our children and I feel so powerless. Basically we’ve been fucked over.”A spokesperson for Pearson said: “We are aware that some BTEC students experienced a delay in receiving their results and we understand the frustration this must have caused. We are working closely with the students and centres involved to look into this urgently and provide their results as soon as we can.”Related... Students March On Whitehall Demanding Gavin Williamson Be Sacked Over A-Level Fiasco Exam Regulator Blames Teachers For A-Level Results Day Chaos How Entire Classes Of A-Level Pupils Had Their Results Downgraded
It’s now been over a week since news broke of a Conservative MP accused of rape by a former parliamentary aide.To date, the party have refused to suspend him, despite repeated calls from women’s groups, campaigners and fellow MPs. Chief Whip Mark Spencer said that the rape allegations against the MP were being taken seriously.Not seriously enough to warrant a suspension so that others could be safeguarded, it would appear.On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his party’s decision not to suspend the MP as he was waiting for “police to decide whether they wanted to make charges”.In any other profession, anyone accused of serious sexual offences would face immediate suspension followed by an investigation.  The only message we are receiving is that the rights of the accused are above the rights of the alleged victim.Johnson’s continued refusal to suspend will not inspire confidence among either campaigners or survivors of sexual violence. The latest England and Wales rape statistics make for alarming reading. In the year 2019-2020, police recorded 55,130 rapes, but of this figure, only 2,102 resulted in prosecutions, with 1,439 convicted.If we compare the latest numbers against figures for the same period three years previously, the overall figure has increased by a third, yet convictions have halved.  This is not the first time the government has fallen short in its commitment to keeping women safe and holding perpetrators of sexual violence and abuse in positions of power to account for their misbehaviour. In 2018, I wrote about Theresa May restoring the whip to two MPs suspended following accusations of sexual impropriety so that she could win a no-confidence vote triggered against her by her own party.Of those two MPs, Charlie Elphicke has since been convicted of three counts of sexual assault against two women in 2007 and 2016.  Former MP Andrew Griffith, found to have sent some 2,000 texts to two young female constituents while a sitting MP, insisting they call him “Daddy” and demanding explicit photos of them, was allowed back in to help prop up May’s tenuous grip on power.  As a campaigner and activist, I have always been very vocal in my desire to see more women, especially from a BAME background, enter politics and make positive changes from the top down.Related... Charity Calls Out Westminster's Attempts To 'Close Rank' Around Rape Allegation Opinion: I May Destroy You Captures The Devastating Way The Justice System Fails Victims Of Sexual Assault Sadly, the more we are faced with stories such as this latest one, where MPs accused of serious sexual crimes are able to use their power to hide behind, the more difficult it is to promote Parliament as a safe and secure place to work in. That a culture of misogyny and impunity is allowed to thrive – with the “old boys network” acting to protect one another – will push more women out of politics and deter others from seeking a career in politics and public life.The latest accusation of sexual assault has been raised as a concern in a joint statement released by the Centenary Action Group, a UK based cross party coalition working to improve women’s representation in politics, The Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for gender equality, and the Trades Union Congress.In addition to calling for the immediate suspension of the rape-accused MP, the statement is also calling for the appointment of an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor appointed by both the House of Commons and the Conservative Party to support the alleged victim. Our full demands can be found here.As a former employee of the House of Commons, I have a unique insight into how complicated and difficult it is to report your abuser, especially if they are a sitting MP.You are ostracised and often targeted by members of your political party, so-called friends will try to dissuade you from coming forward and scare you with stories of media witch-hunts, your mental and emotional health will take a real battering and, often, the end result will hardly justify the brutal fight for justice.Only two years ago, a House of Commons report found that nearly a fifth of Westminster staff had experienced some form of sexual harassment in a single year. Our Parliamentarians preside over the law on criminal assaults and workplace safety for all of us when their own Houses are not in order. Each time a victim comes forward to make a complaint, they are not only taking on their abuser, but also the very institutions that give the abusers their platform and power. These institutions should not be further used to give protection to the abusers.Until we change the culture of protecting those who choose to abuse their positions of power, we will never be able to truly hold them to account.Until both the Palace of Westminster and the Conservative Party take strong decisive action and suspend the aforementioned MP, at least until the police have concluded their own investigation, the only message we are receiving is that the rights of the accused are above the rights of the alleged victim. Some may argue that we have come a long way in the past five years in protecting women working in Parliament, with a new independent body set up to handle complaints of bullying and harassment by MPs in 2019, while Dame Laura Cox’s 2018 report helped shed a spotlight on some of the experiences that women like me went through.But it seems that these changes, although steps in the right direction, are not nearly enough when a person accused of rape can still continue to work and enter and leave a work environment that employs some 650 members of staff.  Until we change the culture of protecting those who choose to abuse their positions of authority and power after they are accused, we will never be able to truly hold them to account. And yes, this does mean starting with our government. Aisha Ali-Khan is a member of Centenary Action Group (CAG) and the co-organiser of Women’s March London.Related... Charity Calls Out Westminster's Attempts To 'Close Rank' Around Rape Allegation Senior Tory MP 'Arrested On Suspicion Of Rape' Senior Tory MP Accused Of Rape Will Not Be Suspended From Party Yes, Coronavirus Is A War. And Women Are On The Frontline
Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now. The rate of coronavirus infections in England has now “levelled off”, official figures published on Friday suggested.The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it estimated there were around 3,800 cases per day between August 3 and August 9. This is compared to 3,700 new cases per day in the previous week.It comes as the government announced theatres, casinos and bowling alleys will be allowed to reopen in England from this weekend as Boris Johnson resumed easing of lockdown restrictions.From Saturday, socially distanced audiences will be allowed back into indoor venues, while wedding receptions of up to 30 people will also be permitted.Katherine Kent, the co-head of the ONS Covid-19 infection survey, said today: “This week’s estimate suggests that the increase in infections in England seen in July has now levelled off.”The ONS also revealed analysis of antibody data for England, published for the first time this week, showed a higher percentage of people in London have ever tested positive for antibodies to the virus than in Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, the south-east and the south-west.There was not yet enough evidence to show differences between other regions of England.The data published today showed an estimated 28,300 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between August 3 and 9.This was the equivalent of about 0.05% of the population, or one in 1,900 individuals.The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.It comes after the government announced that people arriving in the UK from France after 4am on Saturday will be required to spend 14 days in self-isolation due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases there.The quarantine conditions will also apply to travellers returning from the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos, and Aruba.The Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England detected a significant change in Covid-19 risk in all six destinations.Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said an estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to try to return to the UK from France on Friday.Department for Transport officials said data from France shows that over the past week there has been a 66% increase in newly reported Covid-19 cases and a 52% increase in the weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in infections.The latest 14-day cumulative figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show 32.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.Related... ‘Don’t Kill Granny’ – Why These Grandmothers Love The New Coronavirus Slogan 9 Changes To The Coronavirus Lockdown Rules You Need To Know Today Quarantine When Home From France Or ‘Break The Law’, Warns Grant Shapps
Russell Howard failed to see the funny side when he spotted a member of the audience filming a recent comedy gig.The comedian stormed off stage just five minutes into the live performance in Bristol on Wednesday – but only after confronting the woman in the front row.During the set, Russell was trying out new material at the outdoor terrace of the Bambalan bar in the city when he stopped and told her “that’s literally the worst thing you can do”.According to BristolLive, he then told the woman to “live in the moment” and asked her if she would like it if someone started filming her at her place of work.The stand-up star told the audience of 45 people that comedians are a “dying breed” because they are fearful of people filming unseen content and uploading it to YouTube, which could ruin their act.He then informed the audience that he would be reverting to “safe material” at the gig, before telling the woman who had been filming that she’d “ruined it now”. “I was really looking forward to this gig,” Russ told the crowd before apologising, picking up his backpack from behind the stage area and heading for the exit.The woman in question then insisted she was only doing what others had been before being told “you were filming the whole fucking thing” by another audience member.Seriously... fuck phones at live events. It's the same with people watching football through their phone's camera. More interested in letting the followers know than actually enjoying themselves.— Sam Frost (@frosty920) August 13, 2020After the event, event organiser and compère Mark Olver said he should have been clearer about the rules around filming.“It’s important that when acts are trying out new material people should understand they don’t want video of it out there,” he said. “Sets at this kind of event are a work in progress. Most people understand this but I should have been clearer at the start of the gig in explaining it to people.“I totally get why Russell cut his set a bit short. He’s gutted and didn’t want to disappoint anyone but comedy is something you have to write in front of people and having a recording of that process out there in the world makes being creative really difficult.”A spokesperson for the comic told BristolLive: “Any comedian whose set is being recorded at a new material night would find it distracting.“The beauty of live performance particularly at this strange time is it’s intended for the room only.”READ MORE: Don't Look For The Next Female Comedy Trend - Just Go With What's Funny Inside The UK’s First Socially Distanced Music Festival Women In British Comedy Have To Work Twice As Hard For Quarter Of The Reward - When Will We Catch Up To The US?
Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.Elderly vulnerable people and their families are being forced to lie about having coronavirus symptoms to get tests just so they can enter care homes, ministers have been warned.HuffPost UK has heard the story of one woman who was advised by her GP and social worker to lie about her 97-year-old mother having Covid-19 symptoms so she could access a government test that would allow her to enter respite care if the result was negative.Care industry figures suggested the case was illustrative of a wider problem across England amid fears that carers and vulnerable people who need to get respite care cannot access it.And care minister Helen Whateley has been urged by the Liberal Democrats to issue clear guidance so all those entering care homes from the community can get access to tests, to stop the virus spreading among vulnerable people.The government has been severely criticised for its policy on care homes in the early stages of the pandemic, following the deaths of thousands of residents.Currently, anyone with Covid-19 symptoms in the community can get a test.Care homes can also apply for coronavirus tests for residents and staff. Regular testing for staff (weekly) and residents (every 28 days) was also rolled out last month, and people entering care homes from hospitals are routinely tested.But the government’s testing guidelines make no mention of how people entering care homes from the community, particularly for respite care, can access a test if they do not have symptoms.HuffPost UK heard the story of one woman, Angela*, who was seeking two weeks of residential respite care for her mother to allow her and her sister a break from caring and the opportunity to go on holiday with family.The daughters had been left looking after their mother, who has vascular dementia, since the beginning of March after the pandemic forced the day care centre she attended to shut down.Angela was recently advised by her mother’s social care worker that her local authority would fund respite care for two weeks to allow the two daughters to go on a separate holiday.The care home Angela found for her mother said she needed to obtain a negative coronavirus test before entering the care home so other residents were not put at risk.But Angela was told on the government testing hotline that tests were only available to people in the community if they have coronavirus symptoms, meaning she could not place her mother in the care home.Her social worker and GP were then forced to advise Angela to lie about her mother having Covid-19 symptoms so she could access a test and get her mother into the care home.“I thought: this is awful,” Angela told HuffPost UK.“Here we are with social service and medical professionals having to advise you effectively to tell lies in order to get what is a perfectly reasonable request – a test to get an old person admitted to a care home.“I think the whole situation is completely mad and the emphasis on the eligibility criteria – where you are coming from rather than where you are going to – is just totally illogical in my mind.“I will have to do what is suggested, I suppose, or I pay a huge amount of money to get one done privately, but my mother is on pension credit and I really don’t see why we should have to pay a large amount of money to get a test done privately.“I have to lie. I was really incensed – I really resent having to do that.”Lib Dem health and social care spokesperson Munira Wilson, who has written to Whateley urging action, said: “The case for testing every resident before they enter a care home, whether that’s patients being discharged from hospitals or patients entering from the community, is unequivocal. “We need to make sure no one is forced to make up symptoms just to secure these vital tests. “Testing is a vital part of keeping people safe from this dreadful virus, and preventing it from spreading unchecked. “Ministers must issue clear guidance to ensure all care homes can access testing for all those coming into care.”Professor Martin Green, chief exec at Care England, said: “It is essential that community testing is prioritised in order that those in need of respite care are able to access it.  “Moreover family members that are full time carers may need a break and become unwell themselves unless they have access to respite care. “Testing is essential to provide confidence for individuals, service providers, residents and relatives”.Mike Padgham, managing director of St Cecilia’s care services in Scarborough, called for a “common sense” approach to allow routine testing for people entering homes from the community.“Obviously from a hospital or another care home it [testing] can be done, but not if you are in the community coming into a care home for respite,” he said.“Someone should be able to flex and change it so you could be admitted, because it’s for the person’s benefit.”He added: “I would hope people use common sense – if it’s about that person’s best interests and they need that respite care then someone should say that’s a valid reason for a test.”The Department of Health and Social Care is expected to publish new guidance soon.A spokesperson said: “Care homes shouldn’t refuse people who haven’t been tested as the care home itself will do a test.”*Name has been changedRelated... 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Ryan Reynolds has trolled his fans once again after launching his very own streaming service, with just one film in its catalogue.No prizes for guessing who’s in the starring role of that film either.The actor – who previously bought a stake in wireless carrier Mint Mobile in November 2019 – announced on Twitter: “Every tech company needs a streaming service.“So… introducing Mint Mobile +. The world’s most affordable streaming service!” Every tech company needs a streaming service. So… introducing Mint Mobile +. The world’s most affordable streaming service!— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) August 12, 2020Alongside the announcement was a 30-second montage from Foolproof, an oft-overlooked early offering from Ryan’s filmography.Foolproof is a Canadian heist film from 2003, and was one of the first times Ryan had a leading role on the big screen.We have to be honest, we probably won’t be taking advantage of Mint Mobile +, but if you’re curious about it, you’ll have to act quickly, with Ryan later tweeting: “Two minutes after launch and our crack data team has already determined Mint Mobile + should probably be shut down by the weekend. We’ll go back to focusing on premium wireless…” Two minutes after launch and our crack data team has already determined Mint Mobile + should probably be shut down by the weekend. We’ll go back to focusing on premium wireless…— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) August 12, 2020We have to hand it to Ryan, though, he really has gone all in with this one. Mint Mobile + genuinely does exist (for now), with the homepage looking like this…Brilliant.In addition to acting in films like Deadpool, The Proposal and Definitely, Maybe, Ryan is known by fans for his penchant for a spot of online trolling.This is usually at the expense of fellow actor Hugh Jackman, with whom he has a long-standing friendly rivalry, or his wife Blake Lively, who he frequently crops out of their couple photos.READ MORE: Ryan Reynolds Says Plantation Wedding With Blake Lively Is 'Impossible To Reconcile' The World's Highest-Paid Actor Is Revealed, As Forbes Shares Annual Top 10 Ryan Reynolds Helps Reunite Woman With Incredibly Special Teddy Bear
Donald Trump, a president whose persistent untruths and obfuscation led to a disastrous pandemic response that has left more than 165,000 people dead in the US, was asked if he regrets all the lies he’s told to the American people. He skipped the question.HuffPost senior White House correspondent S.V. Dáte asked the president during Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing if, after 3½ years, “do you regret at all the lying you’ve done to the American people? All the dishonesties?”“That who has done?” Trump replied. “You have done,” said Dáte, who wrote at length about Trump’s “Ministry of Untruth” earlier this year. Trump paused and then moved on to the next question.Question: Do you regret at all the lying you’ve done to the American people?— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) August 13, 2020In his report, Dáte noted that Trump’s stream of falsehoods across nearly every topic and in any setting is corroding America’s democracy as it normalises lies coming from the nation’s highest office.According to a running fact-check database by The Washington Post, Trump has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims since taking office. Last month, as the tracker passed the shocking milestone, the project’s editor, Glenn Kessler, and fact-check reporters Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly wrote, “The notion that Trump would exceed 20,000 claims before he finished his term appeared ludicrous when The Fact Checker started this project during the president’s first 100 days in office.”In that time, its authors noted, Trump on average made fewer than five false claims a day. “But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger,” they said.The events of the past 15 months ― including Trump’s impeachment trial, the coronavirus pandemic that’s infected millions and shattered the economy, and nationwide anti-racism protests over the death of George Floyd and other Black men and women in police custody ― have filled an entirely new ballpark of falsehoods from the president, and the tally continues to climb.According to the database, he reached nearly a thousand false claims about coronavirus alone in just a matter of months. His persistent downplaying of the virus, suppression of warnings from experts and repeated pushes to prematurely reopen businesses, speculating that the virus will just “go away,” has contributed to a resurgence of Covid-19 in the U.S. that’s killing more than a thousand people each day.Related... Trump Appears To Admit Blocking Postal Service Funding To Undermine Mail-In Voting Covid-19 Has Killed 166,000 In The US. But Trump’s Worried About His ‘Perfect’ Hair A Brit's Guide To Joe Biden's New Presidential Running Mate Kamala Harris