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As I took a nighttime walk with my 13-year-old son, ten days into the pandemic, I asked him why he wanted his dad to move into our basement. He launched into a pitch citing statistics and facts about how “particulate could penetrate hospital masks,” until I interrupted him.“Can you tell me from your emotions? Don’t talk from your brain.”We walked for about 20 seconds before his voice went soft and sincere. “I’m worried he’ll get sick and I’m worried about him on his own. I know him, solitude doesn’t suit him.”When my partner left me after 28 years, I was devastated. He made me feel small, betrayed and helpless. The last thing I wanted at that uncertain time was to share a home again with my own private Thanos. But hearing this, bam, just like that, I unlocked the door to the AirBnB in the house my ex and I were fighting over.The night before he moved in, I closed my eyes and said out loud to the empty room we had once shared: “I’m going to take this opportunity to create a better, more respectful relationship with my ex.” My ex moved in on a Thursday. We were at each other’s throats by Monday.We may never have another opportunity to renew our friendship, I reasoned, or to be the parents our son needs. Most of all, I wanted to keep our son safe. As infections and death tolls around the world mounted, I didn’t want my son travelling back and forth across the city just because we have shared custody.I was scared and needed my child close by. The problem was that my kid was also frightened, and he wanted his dad there, too.My ex moved in on a Thursday. We were at each other’s throats by Monday.My coddling and his short fuse all felt like deja vu, but this time around I knew what was behind the compulsive cleaning and grammar-correcting that he used to vent his frustrations. This time I didn’t try to make him happy.Soon, the quibbling became part of the lockdown routine. There was nothing to be late for, no pick ups or drop offs — just endless days of computer screens, hand wringing and pacing through rooms that, up until recently, had felt cleansed of the hurt left over from the end of our marriage.My chest felt tight and I stopped sleeping. My eyes would snap open in the middle of the night and I’d picture him two floors below, in my house, again. Mornings became a time of anxiety knowing we’d soon come face to face.I recognized the person I was becoming. It was me from two years ago, from a decade ago, when our relationship was a source of constant anxiety. This was the me that needed to be heard and believed. “Reframe it,” I thought. “It’s a gift, and it may never happen again.”Nonetheless, many days into it I told him I was afraid he was going to leave us again. As it slipped out of my mouth, I realized that I wanted him to stay. Maybe to help parent, to live through this crisis — to be my ally — so I wasn’t alone in the most uncertain time of all our lives. But what I saw was someone far more afraid than I was that I might still want him. I could tell he was keeping more than his social distance from me. He had never had a friend like me, even though I considered him my best friend at one time. He still couldn’t seem to see how amazing the world was, or I was; only the faults. Sometimes our laughter came easily, and it all almost felt normal.In the weeks after our split, I got a dog – a sort of “divorce support animal” — so there was this crazy-ass pit bull around all the time. I could tell my ex had a soft spot for her. One day, I asked him how it felt to play with her or pet her. “I’m just trying to help with your stupid dog,” he scoffed. But, I could see it. I got this dog to rescue me and my son, and now it appeared she was also rescuing him. Very slowly.That day, I allowed myself to feel a little bit of optimism. Being stuck together in lockdown began to feel like a metaphor for the inescapable responsibility we shared as our son’s parents. We started to play Dungeons and Dragons as a family, and video games where each character must cooperate to complete the quest. We began to make dinners together, and play with the dog.When it was just me and my ex, we talked of anti-racism, and J.K. Rowling’s missteps, and the Spanish Flu, and the end of fossil fuels. Once we quietly contemplated our fears, whispering of things that once seemed so far away, but were now as real and alarming as the upcoming school term.Sometimes, our laughter came easily, and it all almost felt normal. But other times, it was self-conscious and awkward.“We need to go back to doing things separately. We can’t ‘play house’ anymore.”I hope that one day my son will look back on this time and realise that his parents did a great thing for him.My ex’s sharp words stung like a slap across the face. I had asked him if he wanted to go to a cottage with me and our son for a few days, after what had felt like a period of relative calm. We avoided each other that night. Finally, I allowed his rebuke to sink in: We were not a family, not even a strange one.Ontario entered Stage 2 of lockdown in June. In July, Stage 3 began. The initial panic of the pandemic started to subside, and my ex packed up his bags for the second time in our lives.We had lived through pain, tears, screaming matches, recycling, diapers, laughter, music and, yes, love for 28 years. Then he left. Then he came back. And after three months of infection rates, Zoom calls, online math quizzes and dog walks, he was leaving again. This time, I was okay when he exited my life. I was whole. I can’t say how he felt, but I imagine his mood was a little bit lighter and that he enjoyed his own company a little bit more. I hope that one day my son will look back on this time and realise that his parents did a great thing for him, something my parents, many parents, would not have done.This article first appeared on HuffPost Canada PersonalMore from HuffPost UK Personal Sex After Miscarriage Is Hard. This Is How We Got Back Into The Swing Coronavirus Stole My Favourite Pastime: Chatting With Strangers Society Expects Black Single Mums To Fail. I Won’t Be Written Off
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Video conferences and chats are all the rage these days but that’s not the only kind of live video streaming coursing through the Internet. Even before COVID-19 but now even more so, broadcasts and streaming have pretty much been normal in the gaming world. But while advancements in the likes of Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams focus on corporate … Continue reading
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Charlize Theron has a word of warning for all potential suitors: Come with “a lot of game” or don’t even bother. The Oscar winner is very much single and that’s the way she likes it, revealing on Thursday’s episode of The Drew Barrymore Show that she hasn’t dated anyone seriously in five years.“It is strange for people to, kind of, wrap their heads around it,” Theron told Barrymore, who said she’d also been on a dating hiatus. “I’ve been on a few dates, but I haven’t dated anybody for over five years.”  Theron’s life is understandably quite full without a romantic partner, as she’s raising two children, reigning as the blockbuster action queen, and, you know, just trying to make it through 2020 like the rest of us. While the actor said she was “open” to the idea of dating someone in the future, she has some reservations, too.“I feel like I’m in a place in my life where you’ve got to come with a lot of game, not the kind of game that we think of, the kind of game that’s like my life is really good so you better be able to bring that and maybe better because I just won’t accept anything less,” she said. “And my life with my children and with my incredible adopted family that I have around me I don’t long for that much.”Barrymore agreed, adding that she too wants someone who will “be an addition [to] the equation and not a subtraction.” Theron was most recently linked to Sean Penn before the two split for good in 2015.The star later clarified that they were never engaged despite reports at the time. She previously dated actor Stuart Townsend for nearly a decade after meeting on the set of their film Trapped in 2002.Theron has since started a family of her own. She has two daughters, Jackson, 8, and August, 5, whom she adopted in 2012 and 2015, respectively. The actor recently gave a rare glimpse into her home life during a no-fuss virtual celebration for her 45th birthday.  View this post on InstagramA post shared by Charlize Theron (@charlizeafrica) on Aug 7, 2020 at 7:25pm PDT“I can honestly say this on my life, I don’t feel lonely. Once I had my children, it’s not that it replaces something or makes you less interested in something else,” she said on the daytime talk show Thursday. “I’m still firing on all cylinders. I think your priorities are in a place that is of high demand because it’s a lot of work to be a parent,” Theron said. “Part of that is at the end of the day I get in bed and I go I wouldn’t want this day to be anything different.”And we don’t blame her after Theron shared her worst date ever story, telling Jimmy Kimmel earlier this year about a man who asked her to “make out with my nose.”Earlier this year, Theron said that she doesn’t feel like she’s “missing out on something in my life” by not dating.“I really do believe that women really ... make shit happen for ourselves,” she said on E!’s “Daily Pop.” “And I think this idea of relationships, sometimes we approach ... or society approach them in the sense of like, ‘Obviously, that is something that you need and want.’ And that’s really not been the case for me.”READ MORE: Charlize Theron Recalls 'Unfair' Treatment On The Italian Job, Shades Mark Wahlberg Charlize Theron 'A Little Heartbroken' Over Plans To Recast Her Character In Mad Max Prequel
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If you are planning to buy a new phone for yourself, then stay tuned as we are going to mention the best smartphones you can buy in 2020:  Samsung Galaxy S20/S20 PlusSpecifications of Samsung Galaxy S20/S20 Plus are:Dimensions: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9mm/161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8mmOS: Android 10Screen size: 6.2-inch/6.7-inchResolution: 1440 x 3200CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990RAM: 8GB/12GBStorage: 128GB (S20) or 128GB/256GB/512GB (S20 Plus)Battery: 4,000mAh/4500mAhRear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MPFront camera: 10MPThe Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus come with the best screens and excellent cameras.Some of the best features of both of the devices are:Screen: Both of the device’s screens are capable of 120Hz refresh rate, enabling you to experience a smoother scrolling and gaming experience.Battery life: Samsung Galaxy S20 comes with a 4000mAh battery life, and Galaxy S20 Plus offers a 4500mAh battery life.If you are looking for a bigger screen and larger battery life, then you can go for Samsung S20 Plus; otherwise, S20 is your best bet.OnePlus 8 ProSpecifications of OnePlus 8 Pro are:Dimensions: 165.3 x 74.35 x 8.5mmOS: Android 10Screen size: 6.78-inchResolution: 3168 x 1440CPU: Snapdragon 865RAM: 8/12GBStorage: 128/256GBBattery: 4,510mAhRear camera: 48MP+48MP+5MP+8MPFront camera: 16MPThe OnePlus 8 Pro offers one of the best displays and power-packed features like 5G, reverse charging, wireless charging, and more.The device also comes with excellent upscaling features and HDR10+, adaptive display, reading mode, night mode, motions graphics smoothing, and vibrant color effect pro.Battery Life: If you don’t like to charge their phones often, this is the perfect device for you.The device comes with a 4510mAh battery and offers one of the fastest wireless charging among its counterparts.Camera: The device offers a quad-lens array on your phone’s back and enables you to capture the image with its 48 MP camera with a 3X optical zoom feature.Final Verdict: OnePlus 8 Pro is giving a tough competition to Apple and Samsung regarding features and functionalities.It’s a great deal at this price range.iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro MaxSpecifications of iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max are:Dimensions: 144 x 71.4 x 8.1mm/158 x 77.8 x 8.1mmOS: iOS 13Screen size: 5.8-inch/6.5-inchResolution: 1125 × 2436/1242 x 2688CPU: Apple A13 BionicRAM: 4GB TBCStorage: 64/256/512GBBattery: 3,046mAh/3,969mAh TBCRear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MPFront camera: 12MP + 12MPThe new iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max comes with a better camera, a new matte finish, and few upgrades.
My view of therapy used to come from TV. Shows we all loved to watch from Gossip Girl to How I Met Your Mother tended to depict anyone in therapy as dealing with serious issues – or a joke. When characters told friends they were “seeing someone”, the response was rarely positive. So when I thought of therapy, I associated it with anyone who was strange or “crazy”. Therapy typically isn’t spoken about in African households like mine. Though the stigma is slowly changing in our communities, seeking therapy still isn’t seen as a norm. It’s telling that I only started seeing a therapist in my last year of university, while I was away from home. I was suffering with anxiety and depression. I found that it helped, but I didn’t tell many people about it.After taking a break for a few years, this spring I decided I’d like to go back. I’m not alone – the uptake in therapy in the past few months has been noticeable. The Office for National Statistics found that the rates of depression nearly doubled during the pandemic.Mind also reported an increase in demand for services.With the world going through a global pandemic and a huge anti-racist movement, more people are starting to see therapy not just as viable, but vital.But when I started up again, this time via Zoom, I noticed myself wanting to talk about my sessions online, too.Related... Two Friends Raised Half A Million To Fund Black Therapists. Here's Why Plenty of people I follow on Twitter and Instagram discuss their therapy on social media – but a part of me was hesitant. Therapy is personal. I was wary of what people might think of me – fearful of oversharing and discussing details of events I still haven’t healed from. But far from receiving negative feedback, many people tell me they find a supportive audience when they share about their therapy online.Zuva Seven, 24, a student from Leeds, started seeing a therapist when she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. ”I decided I wanted to make a real and long-lasting change to my life,” she says. “I went through a lot of pain, trauma and abuse growing up; however, I had control over what my adult life would look like, and I wanted it to be good.” She tweets because she wants others to know therapy is an option, Zuva says. “Therapy is great; however, due to the cost (and waiting lists in the UK), it can be pretty inaccessible. When I tweet about my sessions, I think about how I used to look up free therapy content or how I’d watch my TV show a little more intently when therapy was shown. I would try to pick up whatever I could. So I tweet just in case someone finds it in the future when they really need it.”  Related... Here’s How To Access Free Therapy Similarly, Tony, a radio producer from London, advocates for men who are dealing with accumulated trauma via therapy. “From speaking about it online, I’ve seen more men either say they’re interested or saying they’ve done sessions already,” says Tony, 30, who started therapy last October after losing five people in his life in the space of six months. “I rarely tweet about the content of my sessions, but I do think about how much I want people to undergo therapy, just because of how much it’s helped me.” After tweeting, Tony’s often messaged by followers and friends. “I get a lot of private messages and support from people who ask me questions about therapy and my experience with it. I posted my therapist’s information and she got a lot more interest and clients from that. She now has a waiting list!”  Jeannelle, 24, remains super conscious of what people think of her when she tweets about therapy, but believes it’s worth it. “I’ve found through direct messages to my tweets that they’re helpful and needed,” says the marketing assistant from London. “Someone even re-started their therapy journey because of me being open about mine. I’ve also realised that a lot of my problems aren’t just mine but other people can relate to them too,” she says.Counsellor and psychotherapist Saffya Fatima says that posting about your therapy session can positively echo somebody’s else’s feelings or emotions. “Sometimes, if we tweet or share something that has happened to us, the insight we’ve gained about that through therapy, can help others,” she says.But posting depends on the person, she stresses – and it’s worth considering your motivations. “What is the unconscious desire behind it? Is it to feel connected? Is sharing going to resolve that and will it expand with a new issue? These are perhaps some of the questions one has to ask himself when sharing online. If it leaves one feeling expanded and intuitively feels right, I think that is okay. If something doesn’t feel quite right, it’s important to listen to that.”Related... ‘It’s OK Not To Be OK’: Britain’s In Therapy And We’re Ready To Talk Psychotherapist and author Dr Aaron Balick agrees that people should be cautious when posting details about a therapy session online. “Therapy is a highly private situation. I wouldn’t say that one shouldn’t tweet about it, but one should be circumspect about how much of that therapeutic process they choose to share because it’s such a personal experience,” he tells me.There are risks when sharing specific details about our sessions, he adds. “You’re giving people detailed information about your inner life, you’re giving access to your psychology that in many cases you don’t even know. Also, we change over the course of life. So you might be happy to share at this point in your life but you may be less happy that you share, 18 months down the line.”Jeannelle sees it as generational. “The stigma is changing with people around our age, due to social media. More people are sharing and being vulnerable, for sure. People take the bold journey to discover things about themselves, to develop healthy habits and to perhaps unlearn things that have been passed down to them. I think it’s harder to be completely open about mental health and therapy with the older generation.”Fatima agrees there has been progress and credits it to a wider cultural conversation. “In the past five to 10 years, there are a number of therapists in the public sphere who have reached millions of people worldwide through their articles, their books, podcasts, TED talks,” she says.Ester Perel’s Where Shall We Begin has a global following – and I follow several therapists on Instagram such as silvykhoucasian, themindgeek and Lindsaybraman. ”I think the internet and social media has been a real catalyst for this,” says Fatima.In a time when our mental health is being tested, normalising therapy can only be a good thing. Since starting up again, I’m already noticing a difference in myself – in the way I react to specific situations and I’m more intentional with the decisions I make. If you’d rather keep your sessions private, that’s totally valid. I still don’t share much about mine. But after speaking to peers and asking myself Fatima’s questions, I know that when I do it’s because I feel empowered to do so. Related... The Psychology Behind Video Calls – And Why They Mess With Our Minds These Brits Put Themselves In Therapy And Say It's The Best Decision They Ever Made Therapist, Counsellor Or Life Coach: What's The Difference?
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Ad giant takes aim at the meeting room – even though nobody's there Keen to remind everyone that Google Meet is still a thing in a world seemingly obsessed with Zoom, the Chocolate Factory has announced hardware for anyone trying to run its video conferencing service.…
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Phishers claimed to be from 'National Health Commission', which exists in mainland China but not Taiwan Taiwan's CERT detected cyber-crooks impersonating medical authorities to attack the country's tech industry during the early stages of the COVID pandemic.…
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The rise of “zoombombing” is just the latest example of why developers need to plan for harmful misuses as much as potential costly bugs.
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Featuring integrated webcams, speakers, and microphones, the HP's latest Conferencing Monitors are made for Zoom meetings.
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According to research report "Speech Analytics Market by Component (Solutions (Speech Engine, Indexing, Analysis & Query Tools, Reporting & Visualization Tools) and Services), Application, Deployment Model, Organization Size, Industry Vertical, and Region - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, global speech analytics market size is expected to grow from USD 941.1 Million in 2017 to USD 2,175.8 Million by 2022, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.2% during the forecast period.The key forces driving the speech analytics market include the need for higher customer satisfaction, rising significance for real-time analytics, and increasing need of speech analytics solutions to the growing BPO sector.Download PDF Brochure: https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/pdfdownloadNew.asp?id=17297779Browse 135 market data Tables and 42 Figures spread through 150 Pages and in-depth TOC on "Speech Analytics Market - Global Forecast to 2022"Speech analytics solutions are expected to witness steady growth during the forecast periodThe speech analytics solutions are expected to dominate the market from 2015 to 2022, with larger market share than the service segment, due to growing trends of analytical insights from customer interaction data.Furthermore, due to future saturation in the solution segment in the developed economies and variation in global government customer protection norms and regulations, demand for professional services is expected to gain traction in the next five years.The Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) vertical is expected to hold the largest market share during the forecast periodAmong industry verticals, the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) vertical is expected to continue to hold the largest market share during the forecast period.BFSI companies are focusing on customer experience management to accelerate customer acquisition, improve business loyalty, and enhance customer retention ratio.The retail and eCommerce vertical is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period, owing to an increased focus on reducing customer churn rate.North America is expected to hold the largest market size during the forecast periodNorth America is expected to hold the largest market size and continue to dominate the global speech analytics market from 2017 to 2022, due to the notable adoption of speech analytics solutions and the presence of a large number of analytics vendors in the US.Major vendors offering speech analytics software and services include Verint Systems (US), Avaya (US), Calabrio (US), CallMiner (US), Clarabridge (US), Almawave (Italy), Voci Technologies (US), Zoom International (Czech Republic), NICE Systems (Israel), Genesys (US), and HPE (US).About MarketsandMarkets™MarketsandMarkets™ provides quantified B2B research on 30,000 high growth niche opportunities/threats which will impact 70% to 80% of worldwide companies’ revenues.
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With video conferencing becoming the new normal in the world of business, Google is playing catch-up with Zoom and Microsoft Teams in order to corner a larger share of this pie.
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Xiaomi Redmi’s flagship offering, the Redmi K30 Pro Zoom, which entered the Top 10 ranking’s of DXOMark; will soon be receiving a new update bringing ... The post Redmi K30 Pro Zoom To Receive a new Update with Camera Optimisation appeared first on Gizchina.com.
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Atlanta to upgrade software license with more protection, clerk tells us A court hearing on election security in America failed in its own security efforts – when it was zoombombed with porn, swastikas and images of the World Trade Center attacks.…
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Apple Watch Series 6 was the headliner of today’s reveal event, and while Apple spent a lot of time talking about the smartwatch’s new features and hardware, it also made something of a surprising reveal. In an effort to cut back on electronic waste, Apple says that the Apple Watch Series 6 will ship without a rather important accessory in … Continue reading
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Although some employees are slowly returning to workplace settings (office or otherwise), it is just on-ramp to the road from anywhere to many.Those permanently hybrid in/off teams need the means and equipment to collaborate and work as efficiently and probably as much as before.Indeed, Ira Weinstein of the analyst firm Recon Research presented data during his virtual Enterprises Connect 2020 session showing that 89 percent of the IT now use video conferencing to communicate for work more than once a week, up from 48 percent of pre-pandemics.Videoconference has become an aspect of rigor for work and social life as people hunker down in their homes around the world to prevent the death of coronaviruses.Teams rivals including Google, WeConference, Cisco, FaceBook, and Zoom will provide online video and meetings services.The COVID-19 pandemic has led to most employees being employed at home and apps such as WeConference, Google Duo and many others have become popular for both official and informal purposes.Many schools and universities have also started online student lessons, but internet access is still a problem.WeConference and Microsoft lead the wayAlthough Microsoft and WeConference have achieved a big rise, all Cloud Telephony providers have seen an increase in customers.For several Microsoft teams, the best way is to incorporate them seamlessly into workflows in corporate communications, since this is already included in Office 365.In the first two months of 2020, the business is expected to have added more customers and maybe even greater the rise in April-May.With the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, the usually busy streets, malls, educational institutes – schools, colleges, coaching centers, academies, universities, and Governments across the world are exercising caution due to social distancing or quarantine and looking for efficient audio and video communication tools to continue doing their work official business meetings and studies over video conference.WeConference offers outstanding video Conferencing services that ensure consistency and the smooth communication of various endpoints.
Here are some of the most common Zoom problems and how you can fix them. From issues with your video to problems sharing your screen, we've got you covered.
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Which one is the best Zoom whitening or Take-Home teeth whitening kit?Here in this blog, we have discussed some basic facts about the Zoom In-chair teeth whitening and Take-home teeth whitening kits.
Boris Johnson will make a direct appeal to Tory rebels to back his “critical” Brexit plans despite them breaking international law.The prime minister’s proposals to give ministers the power to go back on key sections of the “oven ready” withdrawal agreement he negotiated and signed have sparked a major backlash from his own MPs.The rebels are threatening to derail Johnson’s Internal Market Bill, which comes to the Commons on Monday. One MP told HuffPost UK there were “definitely more than 40 angry” Tories who could join Labour in voting against the government’s wishes, putting the PM at risk of a first Commons defeat since December’s election.The PM has responded to the rebellion by choosing to open the debate on the Bill on Monday afternoon, instead of business secretary Alok Sharma, and to take questions from rebellious backbenchers.Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband will respond for Labour after Keir Starmer had to self isolate, after a member of his household showed symptoms of coronavirus.Johnson attempted to calm Tory rebels in a Zoom chat on Friday but the backlash has grown over the weekend, with ex-PM David Cameron and his former attorney general Geoffrey Cox sharply criticising the plans.The other living former prime ministers - Tories Sir John Major and Theresa May, and Labour’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, have also voiced opposition to the plans.Asked why the PM had decided to replace Sharma in opening the debate, his official spokesperson said: “It is a critical piece of legislation for the United Kingdom and as the prime minister has been doing over the course of the last week he will be setting that out to the House of Commons.”Rebels are coalescing around an amendment proposed by senior Tory and Commons justice committee chair Bob Neill, which would give MPs a veto over powers in the Bill coming into force.But some hardened opponents of the plans do not even believe that amendment, to be voted on  next week, goes far enough.One Tory predicted as many as 20-30 Tories could oppose the Bill outright at second reading, its first Commons stage, tonight.A further 20 could abstain, they suggested, putting the Bill at risk of defeat in its first vote.But other observers feel many rebels will largely keep their powder dry until next week’s vote on Neill’s amendment, and possibly others.Related... David Cameron Becomes Fifth Former PM To Slam Law-Breaking Brexit Plan UK And EU Negotiators Are Now Arguing About Brexit On Twitter Justice Secretary Suggests He Could Quit If UK Breaks Law Over Brexit
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You might like to skip making over your messy living room because, with Zoom’s virtual background, your actual background won’t be visible anymore.However, to do so, there are a few requirements for your system to fulfill.Mute Your Audio and Turn Off Your Camera by DefaultHas it happened to you that the very moment you connect a video call, your dog starts barking around, or maybe your kid lands into your lap?And then, after the awkward show, you would dive to mute the audio and camera buttons.Mute and Unmute With the Space BarYou can very easily mute and unmute your mic by pressing and holding the spacebar from your keyboard.You can send a thumbs up or a clapping emoji, by doing this, you can keep acknowledging the speaker without interrupting in between.Know that if your meeting has less than 49 attendees, only then all the screens will be displayed on a single page.
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When Keir Starmer held a Zoom call with a clutch of Britain’s biggest trade union general secretaries this summer, the mood was one of warm solidarity. Starmer had impressed the unions with his harrying of the government over the A-levels fiasco, but he made clear his priority was coronavirus and the threat of mass unemployment.Union bosses fed back stories from the coalface, with real worries on health and safety and employers gearing up to make redundancies. The meeting agreed a joint focus on national campaigning to expose Boris Johnson’s plan to withdraw the furlough jobs support scheme this autumn. Starmer and the union “barons” were all on the same side.But the quiet efficiency of the meeting was in contrast to a wider unease and instability within the union movement. One of the big players, the GMB, had seen its general secretary Tim Roache forced out amid allegations of sexual harassment. Dave Prentis, the head of Unison, had announced he would step down after a marathon 20 years in post.And just over a week before the Zoom call, in a reminder of the bitter battles of Labour’s civil war in recent years, Unite’s Len McCluskey had issued a stark warning to Starmer: his union could pull funding and Labour could “go under” if it veered to the “right”. Starmer’s election was a “disappointment” for those like him who wanted Rebecca Long-Bailey to keep the Corbyn flame alive, McCluskey had said.With the election of the Unite leader’s successor set to start in 2021, and with similar contests taking place for Unison and the GMB, a new generation of general secretaries will be installed over the coming year. It’s a changing of the (old) guard that hasn’t been seen in decades, with all three of the biggest trade unions holding their elections within months of each other.As this week’s TUC will underline, the coronavirus pandemic and its focus on health and safety in the workplace has suddenly given unions more profile, influence and membership than in decades. So the looming change at the top three unions - which together have more than three million members - matters more than ever.A cultural shift could occur too, with three white men being possibly replaced by women, and two by union officials from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Although all the unions are campaigning to protect the jobs of their members right now, the under-the radar campaigns for the jobs of their general secretaries are also underway.But with their donations providing Labour’s dominant source of income, and with each holding key seats on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), the general secretary elections also matter hugely to Starmer. Each could usher in a new era under a ‘moderate’ or a more radical leadership. As one MP puts it: “He could end up with the strongest union support of any Labour leader since [Hugh] Gaitskell in the 1950s. Or he could end up with a nightmare.” GMBThe union with the biggest current problems is undeniably the GMB. The 622,000 members of the General, Municipal, Boilermakers’ and Allied Trade Union have seen not just their general secretary Tim Roache suddenly quit over allegations of misconduct.Just weeks ago, a damning independent report by QC Karon Monaghan found the union guilty of “institutional sexism”. Bullying and cronyism were huge problems too, fuelling a toxic, alcohol-fuelled culture that made women feel unsafe and unrecognised. Although women make up a growing number of its members, there is job “segregation” in the union with females in junior or admin roles and the officers almost all men.The controversies don’t just stop at sexual harassment. The union has also ordered a separate internal financial audit, a move approved by its executive last week. Minutes seen by HuffPost show that accountants PWC have been asked to investigate “GMB procurement, GMB political expenditure, the use of GMB corporate credit cards”.The executive also agreed to seek legal advice on whether it could ask staff whether they knew about a “lie detector test” that Roache agreed to when confronted with allegations of misconduct. Some in the union believe both exercises are a “fishing expedition” that will yield little, but others believe it could expose further deep-seated problems.The two main contenders for the general secretary vacancy are seen as Gary Smith, the Scottish regional secretary, and Rehana Azam, a national secretary with responsibility for public services.Smith has several friends among Labour MPs. It was he, and not Azam, who gave evidence on the impact of Covid before the Business Select Committee this year. Although he performed well, some eyebrows were raised within the union, as Azam is the union’s lead on the virus and is from a community hard hit by the pandemic.Smith is seen by his supporters as the kind of leader needed to steady the ship and put the workplace, rather than Westminster, at top of its priorities. “Decades ago, the GMB’s role was the traditional anchor for the party leadership, solid and reliable,” one MP says. “It hasn’t always been that dependable on the NEC in recent years and has played some of Unite’s silly games. Most regional secretaries, and their members, wanted Starmer for leader but the union ended up nominating Lisa Nandy.”One union insider points to the way Smith has fought against recent British Gas moves to sack and reemploy thousands of staff. “Gary is a hard-nosed industrial organiser, very clear about the industrial priorities of the union. The GMB would be much more ‘bottom-line’. Both he and Rehana are relatively young and would keep the union moving.”Azam’s supporters say she will be exactly the breath of fresh air the union needs in the wake of the sexism scandal. “Having a young, Bame woman would be great optics but more importantly she’s really good. She has a high level of emotional intelligence, something union leaders should have these days. She’s not interested in nepotism or tit-for-tat factionalism.”There is even recent speculation within the union that Smith could step aside and let fellow ‘moderate’ Kathleen Walker Shaw, a veteran official who was beaten by Roache in the last general secretary election, have another go at the top job.But Smith is seen as a strong contender precisely because the recent route to winning has been to build up a regional powerbase and then do deals with other regional bosses to get the most backing.“To understand the GMB you have to understand it really is a set of regional fiefdoms. The regions have the money and the power. You get your name in the regional magazine,” says one member. “Turnout can be abysmally low and a few thousand votes can swing it. And it is dominated by the white male, 40-65s who know the regional politics.”Amid its current internal chaos, with claim and counter-claim of bullying, the GMB executive has yet to decide a timetable for an election, but one is expected by the spring. UnisonEven if Azam fails to feminise the leadership of the GMB, over at Unison a woman is the favourite for the top job. Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary, has notched up more than 100 nominations so far.“The momentum is behind her. If she wins, Keir will continue to benefit from very close support from the union that really powered his leadership campaign,” one Starmer ally says.“But Keir is wisely staying completely out of it, he is a stickler for the rules and for realising that unions choose their general secretaries, not party leaders.”McAnea is far from a shoo-in, however. Up against her are Roger McKenzie, another assistant general secretary who has been endorsed publicly by Jeremy Corbyn, and fellow left-winger Paul Holmes, who has been endorsed by John McDonnell.“It can take just a few thousand people to win this, and none of the candidates really has big name recognition among the members,” one Unison insider said. “Christine is picking up most nominations but Roger getting the backing of Corbyn could prove significant. He breached a fundamental principle that MPs don’t try to interfere in union elections, but it could be effective.”In recent years, the Left has grown in influence in Unison. At least two regional secretaries in Unison are card-carrying members of the Communist Party. Even if McAnea wins, the executive elections next summer could shift Left from the current small majority for ‘moderates’, tying her hands, some say.Holmes, a veteran on Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire, is the wild card. He has talked of moving the union’s London HQ to the midlands. “No one should write off Paul Holmes. He’s Mr Unison up in Yorkshire, an old fashioned Left candidate,” one Unison insider said.There’s another reason that Holmes could do well. Unlike Labour party internal elections, which operate proportionally on an AV system of preferences, all trade union elections are still done on a first past the post basis. “He could come through the middle,” says one Unison old hand.Crucially, union elections have a much more left electorate than for Labour elections because they have members affiliated to other parties, like the SWP and others. “It’s not a Labour electorate,” a union expert said. “It’s impossible to really call who will win, it could be any one of the three.”Whoever wins the Unison general secretary job will want to cement its new position as the UK’s number one union, with a massive 1.4 million members, and the fastest growing in Europe.Its influence on Labour’s ruling NEC has grown, however, since Corbyn’s defeat. As well as its own two reps, the union’s Scottish official Johanna Baxter is a constituency rep, while former vice president Carole Sewell is the Bame rep.“Unison’s strength has seemed artificially low in the last few years because it was growing at the same time Unite got all the headlines,” one of its key figures said.“We have felt left out in recent years. We’ve got 1.3 million public sector workers, a huge pool of potential Labour voters that Keir needs, health and social care staff, bin workers, manual workers, all the people he has to win back in Red Wall seats.”UniteOf the three union races, however, the real potential banana skin for Starmer is Unite. After 10 years at the helm, with two re-elections to his name, Len McCluskey has dominated the union, with many admirers on the Left.One veteran said that McCluskey’s profile was so high that even some members of other trade unions think he’s their own general secretary.But his tenure coming to a close and the four main contenders expected to run are Steve Turner, Sharon Graham, Howard Beckett and Gerard Coyne.McCluskey has been repeatedly cryptic about his intentions but the latest intelligence from within the union is that he now wants to “go long” and serve out his full term which ends in April 2022. However, under union rules that ensure at least six months are needed for the election process, that would still mean the race starting next year.Some insiders think McCluskey has opted to give more time for Howard Beckett to build up his industrial base. Others believe that he simply wanted to put down a marker that he’s not a “lame duck” general secretary and can still have influence on national politics.Assistant general secretary Steve Turner, a former bus conductor and shop steward, is seen by many as the favourite. He recently won the vital endorsement of the United Left faction of the union, after a closely fought selection against Beckett another assistant general secreary.Turner was briefly a member of Militant and has a long record on the Left that make it all the more infuriating for his supporters when some Beckett supporters suggest he’s ‘right wing’ because he has shown a willingness to work with Starmer.A Millwall football fan who used to go to matches with the late RMT leader Bob Crow, Turner even at one point had a “MillwallMilitant” private email address.“Steve is a pragmatist. You can do a deal with Steve. A lot of people who organised for Len are backing Steve,” said one Unite insider, on condition of anonymity.“Moderate” flagbearer Coyne, a former West Midlands regional secretary, came within roughly 5,000 voters of defeating McCluskey in the last contest, a surprisingly close result that spooked many on the Left.But since then, union rules have changed so that any candidate has to win 152 local branches of the union to even stand. Turner will almost certainly cross the threshold, but others may struggle.The change infuriated some in the union. “The double standards of Unite’s leadership has been on show in their determination to raise the threshold for nominations needed from union branches for GS candidates, making it harder for anti-establishment candidates, while demanding Labour does the opposite for its leadership elections,” one long-time union and Labour insider said.Coyne supporters are confident he can meet the threshold. “If he can get the branch nominations, he’s got a good chance. He ran last time and name recognition matters.”Those who know Coyne point out that he puts the members first, even when it’s uncomfortable for Labour. When the Labour-run Birmingham council threatened 6,000 redundancies, Coyne was quietly asked to avoid making a fuss ahead of the local elections but refused to back down.One MP who thinks Coyne can win the Unite race says he has been smart so far not to launch a campaign. “Gerard is right to lie low for now and watch the Left just take lumps out of each other. First past the post [election], isn’t it?”Another figure with strong Labour and union links said change was overdue: “Unite as well has coasted for too many years on past glories, haemorrhaging members and failing to recruit sufficient new younger members in new sectors.“Too often the damage has been self-inflicted: Independent minded and effective officials and recruiters at Unite have been viewed as a political threat by the pro-Corbyn establishment and either bullied or paid to leave, further denuding the talent pipeline.“Several of the brightest and best were poached by steelworkers union Community which has recruited far more successfully in new areas, including the self-employed.”Sharon Graham is an outsider candidate whose supporters believe she can pull off a surprise victory.In July, she described herself as “the Workplace Candidate” focused on delivering an industrial programme. Though overwhelmingly of the Left, she already has support from some “moderate” activists who don’t share her politics but admire her organisational ability.Graham has made a name for herself with campaigns that included sending activists dressed as rats to protest against bosses. She benefits from a network of organisers who one ex-insider describes as “a union within union”.“She’s played it cannily so far. She decided not to run for the United Left because she knew that if she lost she would be out of the race completely,” a union official said. One active Unite member told HuffPost UK: “I’ll wager that when all is said and done and Len has resigned, the next general secretary of Unite, when the vote is held, will be Sharon Graham.” A split Left?But Beckett is the one candidate who could really cause Starmer a headache. Despite a traditional agreement that defeated candidates in the Unite Left selection then drop out of the race, Beckett has told the BBC he will run.He has however yet to formally launch any campaign and his supporters say he and all union officials should be focused on fighting Covid job losses rather than an election that has no vacancy yet.“He proved that he doesn’t act collectively, it’s all about him,” one left-wing critic says. “It’s going to be tough for him to get the branches because he has little institutional support within the union, particularly among industrial activists.“Even though he has a following on Twitter, many of those people aren’t actually in the union. You need to be known at branches, at combines [meetings] of convenors, of shop stewards, to get through to our members. The damage he could do to Steve is the real problem.”Beckett has previously run on a radical platform that appeals to some of both Corbyn and McCluskey’s supporters, including a “Unite TV” station that would be a left-wing alternative to Netflix and the BBC.Currently a member of the Labour NEC, he has often been vociferous in his criticism of Starmer. He has attacked the Labour leader for pushing for the reopening of schools and for his sackings of Rebecca Long-Bailey, Ian Lavery and Richard Burgon.In one tweet he warned Starmer and Boris Johnson against trying to “dump the pandemic fallout on the working class”.But disunity on the Left could be his biggest problem. Jane Taylor, a Unite rep who sits alongside Beckett on the NEC, tweeted at the time her dismay that a leftwing faction in Scotland had decided to reject the United Left result and instead back Beckett. “Very sad day for the left,” she said, adding there was no “a sense of betrayal”. The other problem for Beckett is that many of Unite’s executive committee are also members of United Left. Bad blood between Beckett and the United Left group was underlined in an exchange of letters seen by HuffPost UK following Turner’s victory.Beckett wrote that “it is very clear from the regional data alone that the rules of this election have been broken. Intentionally so.” In reply, United Left’s committee gave a 10-point rebuttal and criticised “your on-going refusal to accept the legitimate outcome of the ballot”.A solicitor from Northern Ireland, his critics in the union say he’s a millionaire with no history of its shop steward tradition. But Beckett has a valuable ally in Karie Murphy, Jeremy Corbyn’s former chief of staff and a close friend of McCluskey’s.Beckett’s hopes of getting on the ballot paper could rest with Unite Community, a section of the union set up by McCluskey to further its political ambitions. Membership is just £25 a year rather than £150 plus for traditional members and it has up to 10,000 members. “It’s Continuity Len, in many ways, and was the swing vote in 2017 in squeaking it for him. It could help Howard this time.”His conduct in some NEC meetings has been so antagonistic and his social media criticism of Starmer so strident, that there is even now discussion about a Code of Conduct to which all NEC members would have to sign up.“Howard thinks he’s the smartest lawyer in the room. And then Keir speaks, and you know who’s the smartest lawyer in the room,” said one NEC member.Some within the union believe its credibility was undermined when it opted to formally endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey in the Labour leadership race, even though plenty of Unite reps liked both Lisa Nandy and Starmer. In the end, Long-Bailey came third in the union section of the contest, while Starmer romped home with 53% of affiliates’ votes.One insider adds that the figures were even worse for McCluskey. Unite so dominates the affiliates that it has roughly 75% of the union section, so a 53% win for Starmer could only come from him realistically getting a majority of Unite members. “Keir won among Unite, not many people realise that,” one source said.In fact, Starmer could benefit hugely if he uses Unite members as a sounding board for his policies, not least because many of them live and work in those Red Wall seats he needs to regain. “Lots of our members read the Sun and the Mail and voted Brexit,” said one insider. “If Keir can listen to their concerns, he can help us claw back those seats from the Tories.”One senior Labour source said that Starmer could “live with” all of the general secretary candidates in all the union races. “Apart from Howard.” What next?Starmer’s immediate focus for Labour is on the anti-Semitism report due to be published by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. His allies within the party are also concentrating on internal elections for places on the ruling NEC, with nine constituency reps, disability, youth and Wales reps all up for grabs.He is firmly staying out of the union elections, even though some MPs will be working behind the scenes to help organise for some candidates.But whoever wins the three big union elections in 2021, their respective votes on the NEC could give Starmer a freer hand, or act as a brake on some of his plans.Some other unions think that Unite in particular needs to learn from recent months. One example of how the Left can overreach itself emerged recently during the row over the party agreeing to make out of court payouts to whistleblowers who took part in the BBC Panorama programme on anti-Semitism.A raft of NEC amendments was tabled on the Forde inquiry into a leaked document on the affair, and on some of them the leadership was ready to engage. But when leftwing activists issued a legal letter to try to stop the NEC approving the payouts, the leadership promptly decided to vote down every single amendment.“This is where they are getting it wrong,” said one key trade union figure. “They can’t dictate terms to the party leader. Keir’s people become more entrenched and the Left won’t get a majority for any of what they want. It’s just not smart politics. We on the Left have to be smarter.”Another veteran union activist said the heavy defeat for Labour at the last election could not be forgotten quickly.“There’s a Tory government with a majority of 80. Len put all his money on a radical Corbyn government and that’s gone. The new GSs [general secretaries] have to secure the best deal for their members now and focus on the workplace, not Westminster,” they said.“There are Tory MPs now who have big union memberships in their seats so they have to do business with them on a daily basis. Johnson says he wants to rebalance the economy towards manufacturing and industries like defence and steel are heavily unionised so can have an impact.”One leftwing member of the NEC said that getting Starmer, and Labour, elected in 2024 had to be the basic principle that united all unions.“If Steve [Turner] wins, I think he’ll get a relationship with Keir that will be similar in many ways to Len’s with Ed Miliband: very supportive, with public endorsements that are helpful to both sides.“Although he won’t obviously agree with everything the leader does, just as Len didn’t with Ed, he will publicly say [as McCluskey did] ‘this is the prime minister this country needs’.“Steve’s very left wing and will fight hard, it’s a joke for anyone to claim he’s some kind of centrist. But he knows his prime job is representing members while at the same time getting a Labour government. And Labour needs to win.”A few weeks ago, McCluskey signalled that he wasn’t ready to give up his broader ambitions for Labour’s direction. “People have to brush themselves down, but the reports of the Left’s death are greatly exaggerated,” he said.One senior former party insider puts it another way. “It was 19 years ago, after 9/11, when Tony Blair said the kaleidoscope has been shaken, the pieces are in flux. That’s what it’s like right now with the union leaderships. Who knows where the pieces are going to end up?”Related... Starmer Critic Beckett Loses Bid To Succeed Len McCluskey Spitting Image Unveils Unmistakable Puppets Of Michael Gove And Dominic Raab Ahead Of New Series GMB Union 'Institutionally Sexist', Independent Report Concludes
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From hygiene and remote telepresence to post-Zoom collaboration, Berlin’s annual tech exhibition put a Covid-19 spin on everything this year.
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Plus: Ransomware holds up schools, Zoom adds two-factor, and more of the week's top security news.
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Peloton reported its first-ever profit this week as the pandemic drives a surge in demand for its luxury stationary bikes and workout classes.
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Boris Johnson has told Tory MPs he will not compromise on his plan to break international law over Brexit despite signs of a significant backbench rebellion, sources told HuffPost UK. The prime minister defended his controversial plans to take powers to renege on key sections of his own Brexit withdrawal agreement (WA) as talks on a trade deal with the EU enter a critical phase.Johnson also pleaded with MPs not to foster a return to the febrile atmosphere that engulfed parliament last year in the run-up to the December election and the UK’s subsequent exit from the EU in January.It comes as dozens of rebel Tory MPs line up to support veteran Bob Neill’s amendment to the Internal Market Bill next week, which is designed to introduce a parliamentary veto over Johnson’s controversial plans to go back on the WA.“We must not go back to the miserable, squabbling days of last autumn,” the PM told MPs in a Zoom conference call on Friday.He must be feeling a bit like Julian Assange in the embassyHe also hinted that the plans were part of a negotiating strategy to get a Canada-style trade deal with the EU in time for the end of the transition period on December 31“We must support our negotiating position in Brussels,” he said. MPs were split on Johnson’s performance, with one saying he did “very well” and remained “full square” behind the Bill.Others however noted the PM did not take questions and appeared to be reading from a script. Some MPs were locked out of the well-attended meeting due to restrictions on numbers.At one point, Johnson dropped out of the call due to a bad connection, which prompted arch Brexiteer Steve Baker to ask: “Shall I take over?”Theresa May, who was described as cracking jokes throughout the meeting, raised laughs when she replied: “No.”Flamboyant backbencher Michael Fabricant then helped fill the gap, which lasted a few minutes, by singing a verse of Rule Britannia. He had the words printed out on his desk, which he then showed to MPs.One MP quipped that Johnson was like a “prisoner of No.10 without decent wifi”, an apparent reference to chief aide Dominic Cummings’ influence in Downing Street.“He must be feeling a bit like Julian Assange in the embassy,” they added. Another said Johnson’s stance was “pure politics” and “part of the negotiation”.“The EU is playing rough and we are too,” they said.Related... Can Tory Rebels Really Stop Boris Johnson From Breaking International Law? Tory MP Says He's 'Not Willing To Live' Under Government's Covid Restrictions Ex-Tory Leader Michael Howard Blasts Boris Johnson's Plan To Break The Law
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