Francesca Hause has always loved drawing, but it wasn’t until she became a mother that she turned her hobby into a full-blown comic. Hause is the artist behind “Litterbox Comics” ― a hilarious series focused on the ups and downs of life with small children. She told HuffPost she felt inspired to launch the comic in May 2018 after a particular afternoon watching “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” with her two sons. “I’d seen the episode a million times, so I was amusing myself thinking how funny it would be if something ‘real’ suddenly happened ― Mom Tiger losing her cool or Daniel dropping the F-bomb,” she said. “I wished I could watch a show like that. Then it hit me; I couldn’t make a show, but I could make a comic!”Hause had been writing “all the weird stuff” her kids do in a notebook, so she had lots of material to get started. More than two years later, she’s created hundreds of funny strips on topics ranging from parenting message boards to paediatrician visits. She continues to find inspiration from her boys, who are now six and three. “Their comic counterparts are very much based on them,” she said. “The eldest can be difficult, but he’s dangerously smart and lovable. The youngest is a little bumbling ray of sunshine ― until he isn’t. The 6-year-old is fascinated by the comics, although things have become more awkward now that he can actually read them!”Hause, who is English but moved to Austin, Texas, 10 years ago, bounces ideas around with her husband, a fellow artist with a sense of humor. He’s also the basis of the character Dad Cat.“People often ask, ‘Why cats?’” she noted. “In my first draft they were actually tigers, but I quickly realized drawing all those stripes would drive me mad! I considered other animals, but kept coming back to cats. There’s a lot of inner turmoil with parenting, and I love that cats let me show this visually with shirking pupils, bristling fur and tails! I’m not really sure why, but I’ve never enjoyed drawing humans.”Hause hopes parents who read “Litterbox Comics” get “solidarity and a smile” from the relatable scenarios and funny illustrations. “Motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks, and the only way I survived that first year was thanks to humor,” she said. “Parenthood can be a dark and lonely place, especially in 2020. I want people to feel seen and find relief in laughing at some of this nonsense.”At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hause wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with the “Litterverse” as she adjusted to life with remote learning and the “general 2020 despair” that began fogging up her brain. “Eventually I decided the best thing I could do for the world (and my own mental health!) would be to focus on the funny,” she said. “I purposely keep my comics current affairs free, because although what’s been happening is important, it’s also important to take breaks and laugh.”Keep scrolling and check out “Litterbox Comics” on Facebook and Instagram for more funny parenting art.Litterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseLitterbox Comics/Francesca HauseRelated... I Took One Of My Kids On A 'Love Bombing' Trip. Here's Why. Pride + Prejudice: Think We’re Living In A Post-Homophobic Society? You’re Wrong I Let My 8-Year-Old Cook Us A 3-Course Meal. Here's How It Went.
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Brexit could cause a resurgence in the threat from Northern Irish terror groups who are loyal to the UK, parliament’s spy agency watchdog has warned.The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) drew its conclusion after taking evidence from MI5 on terrorism in Northern Ireland.In a heavily redacted report, the ISC did not give many details on why it feared an increased threat from loyalists, who have held a ceasefire for years.But unionists have long held concerns that Boris Johnson’s Brexit withdrawal agreement could leave Northern Ireland in a more distant relationship with the rest of the UK – due to the need for new checks on trade across the Irish Sea between the province and Great Britain. The prime minister is currently attempting to disapply the need for some of these checks via his law-breaking Internal Market Bill. But the committee warned that new border infrastructure between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK could “reignite the threat from loyalist groups that have previously held a ceasefire”.The ISC, which is bound by the Official Secrets Act and takes evidence in secret, added: “MI5 noted that ‘[loyalist] ceasefires have held for a long time now [redacted]’.“We queried whether MI5 were prepared for a potential shift in the threat level across various Northern Ireland-related terrorist groups, and were told: ‘I think we can be reasonably confident [redacted]’.”The threat of violence from dissident republicans who want a united Ireland has long been a major concern in Brexit talks.It led Johnson to sign a withdrawal agreement giving Northern Ireland a special status, following both EU rules and UK rules, to avoid the reestablishment of border posts on the frontier with the Republic.But it also means new checks on trade across the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) last year warned any Brexit deal that threatens the union between the province (NI) and Great Britain (GB) has “the potential to bring violence back on to the streets” via loyalist groups.The prime minister is now trying to get out of key checks via the Internal Market Bill, having promised that there would be no effective border in the Irish Sea.ISC members Kevan Jones and Stewart Hosie said: “We commend the efforts of MI5 and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. However, Northern Ireland-related terrorism has not gone away. “The threat requires sustained pressure more, now, than ever since any border infrastructure resulting from the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be both a target and a recruiting badge for dissident republican groups, and may also reignite the threat from loyalist groups that have previously held a ceasefire. “Whilst we welcome the government’s focus on preventing individuals turning to terrorist activity in the first place, MI5 and police resources on the terrorist threat need to be maintained.”Related... EU Launches Legal Action Over UK's Law-Breaking Brexit Plan Peers Set To Vote Again To Block Chlorinated Chicken Post-Brexit Opinion: Boris Johnson Made A Promise To Child Refugees. Now He Must Keep It
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The Crown has offered fans a a first glimpse of Emma Corrin as Diana, Princess of Wales in her iconic wedding dress. An image released by Netflix shows the actor wearing a new version of the gown, which was based on the original design by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. The post on the show’s official Twitter account said: “A first glimpse of Princess Diana’s wedding dress.“Emmy award-winning costume designer Amy Roberts wanted to capture the same spirit and style of David & Elizabeth Emanuel’s original design, without creating a replica for Emma Corrin.”A first glimpse of Princess Diana’s wedding dress. Emmy award-winning costume designer Amy Roberts wanted to capture the same spirit and style of David & Elizabeth Emanuel’s original design, without creating a replica for Emma Corrin. pic.twitter.com/iYXN66aFjh— The Crown (@TheCrownNetflix) October 3, 2020The original dress was famous for featuring a 25ft train, although the angle of the picture does not allow us a peek at its recreation. Emma, whose previous credits include Misbehaviour and Grantchester, will portray Diana during the early part of her relationship with Charles – played by Josh O’Connor – in the upcoming fourth series of the Netflix drama. Last week, Netflix gave fans the first proper look at Emma in character, as well as the first pictures of Gillian Anderson as former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. It’s time. Here’s your first look at @GillianA as Margaret Thatcher and Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in Season 4 of @TheCrownNetflix. pic.twitter.com/3eg121ugPJ— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) September 29, 2020The upcoming fourth series will be Olivia Colman’s second in the lead role of the Queen, with production on the new episodes wrapping shortly before the UK went into lockdown earlier this year.For the fifth series of The Crown, Imelda Staunton will take over the throne from Olivia, while Jonathan Pryce will succeed Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip.Meanwhile, Lesley Manville and Elizabeth Debicki will be playing Princess Margaret and Princess Diana, although it’s yet to be confirmed who will be appearing opposite her as Prince Charles.The Crown’s fourth series will debut on Netflix on 15 November.READ MORE: Gillian Anderson's Margaret Thatcher Is Spookily Accurate In New Pics From The Crown Series 4 Olivia Colman Admits Her First Time Meeting The Queen Didn't Exactly Go Smoothly The Crown Creator Clears Up Speculation About Meghan Markle And Prince Andrew Being Depicted In Final Series
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Cineworld is closing all its cinemas in the UK, US and Ireland this week after studios pulled major releases such as the latest James Bond film.The closure of its 128 sites in Britain will put up to 5,500 jobs at risk.The world’s second-biggest cinema operator, which employs 37,482 people across 787 venues worldwide, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and last month posted losses of £1.3 billion.The release of the new James Bond movie, “No Time To Die”, was pushed into next year on Friday, crushing hopes for a 2020 industry rebound as rising rates of the coronavirus prompt new restrictions and keep viewers away.The Sunday Times said the London-listed company had written to prime minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Dowden to warn that the industry was becoming unviable.It warned investors on September 24 that it might need to raise more money if its sites were forced to shut again and its shares have fallen 82% this year.In July, the government promised a package of more than £1.5 billion to help the arts and culture industries forced to shut down earlier this year as a result of the pandemic.Cineworld had reopened most of its cinemas in July when lockdown measures were eased across the country.Daniel Craig’s final outing as spy James Bond will not hit big screens until next April, it was announced on Friday.No Time To Die was originally scheduled for release in April 2020, but was first pushed back to November as a result of the pandemic.A statement on the film’s official Twitter account said: “We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing NO TIME TO DIE next year.”Efforts to get audiences back into theatres have proved disappointing. While bigger chains like AMC Entertainment, Cineworld and others have reopened many locations, crowds have been thin.Small and mid-sized theatre companies have said they may not survive the impact of the pandemic.Cineworld had said viewers returned to watch “Tenet”, a Christopher Nolan spy thriller that became a test case for the wider industry when it became the biggest release to open in cinemas in late August since schedules were torn up in March.But the postponement of Bond, plus delays to other big releases such as superhero movie “Black Widow” and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” give cinema lovers little reason to return.Cineworld declined to comment.Related... Massive Surge In Daily Reported Coronavirus Cases Due To 'Technical Issue' Questions Remain Over Donald Trump's Condition As He Releases Video From Hospital Opinion: Coronavirus Has Universities Edging Towards Extinction
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Downing Street has refused to deny suggestions that the government is examining plans to ship asylum seekers to offshore remote locations to process their claims.While reports that home secretary Priti Patel could look to create an asylum processing centre 4,000 miles away from the UK on Ascension Island have been played down, No.10 suggested ministers were looking to learn from Australia’s approach.The country’s controversial “stop the boats” policy sees asylum seekers moved to offshore processing centres on remote Pacific islands.Even if they are found to be refugees they must be settled in other countries.While Ascension Island is no longer believed to be under consideration for a UK processing centre, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “We have been looking at what a whole host of other countries do to inform a plan for the United Kingdom and that work is ongoing.”The United Nations said the Australian model, which was implemented by the country’s former PM Tony Abbott  - now a UK government trade envoy - had “brought about incredible suffering on people who are guilty of no more than seeking asylum”.Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, the UK representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in evidence to the Commons home affairs committee: “It has also additionally, I think, cost, and continues to cost, an incredible amount of money, so it seems to be both extremely inappropriate in terms of the commitments that the country should have to human rights and to asylum, but also an incredibly impractical and expensive way of doing so.“I do hope the UK will not choose to go down this way.”She added: “It will really change what the UK is, its history and the sort of values that it stood for up to now.“The UK has a very proud reputation in providing asylum and refuge to people across the centuries.“This would be a really very significant departure from that approach.”No.10 said the government was developing new rules “to ensure we can provide protection for those who need it while preventing abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it and  the rise of gang-facilitated Channel crossings has put this issue into very sharp focus”.The prime minister’s spokesperson added: “As part of that work we have been looking at what a whole host of other countries do to inform a plan for the United Kingdom and that work is ongoing.”Asked if shipping people to offshore processing centres was an option, the spokesperson added: “As part of the work that we are conducting on preventing abuse of the system and criminality we have been looking at what a whole host of what other countries do in order to inform plans for the United Kingdom.”Quizzed on whether asylum processing centres could be set up in remote locations closer to the UK mainland, like a Scottish or Channel island, the spokesperson added: “Nothing more that I can add, the work is ongoing and when there is more to say on it then we will do so.”Labour MP Stella Creasy said spending “millions” and “treating refugees like criminals” will not stop the boats or people being exploited by gangs, as she called on ministers to set up safe routes to the UK for refugees fleeing war and persecution.So UK Gov will spend likely millions treating refugees like criminals, putting lives at risk and trying to act tough. It won't stop the boats, stop people being exploited by gangs, or stop money being wasted. A safe passage policy only way to reclaim our national reputation.. https://t.co/JZ4lmUALN5— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) September 30, 2020Labour leader Keir Starmer said the idea of processing asylum seekers on Ascension Island was a “ridiculous idea from an incompetent government”.Speaking to reporters, Starmer’s spokesperson said: “(He thinks) it is ludicrous and inhumane.“It is completely impractical and it would be hugely expensive for taxpayers. It is a ridiculous idea from an incompetent government.”Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, said: “It’s deeply troubling that our home secretary even considered that this immoral and inhumane plan was a serious solution to a humanitarian crisis.“Our asylum system is descending into chaos.“The government must stop its unconscionable race to the bottom and work sensibly towards creating a fair and effective asylum system based on humanity, compassion and the rule of law.“There are humane and practical solutions based on safe and legal routes that are fully within the home secretary’s power to use.“When it needed to, the Conservative government resettled almost 20,000 people fleeing the war in Syria. It must do it again, and quickly.”Related... 4 Reasons The Plan To Send Asylum Seekers To Ascension Island Was Absolutely Ridiculous Priti Patel 'Wanted To Send Migrants To Remote Atlantic Island' Why Tony Abbott’s Appointment Shows Boris Johnson Couldn’t Give A XXXX
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Giving birth during a global pandemic is tough.Mums-to-be have been forced to endure labour alone, with their partners only allowed into the ward during the late stages. Some who had pre-planned a home birth had to opt for a hospital one, instead. And many spent the last months of their pregnancy feeling anxious after it was revealed women who were expecting were counted as high-risk for Covid-19.As part of our Birth Diaries series, HuffPost UK has been speaking weekly to mums who have given birth since March to hear their stories first-hand.Here, nine mothers explain what it was really like to give birth in the Covid era.Related... 'Traumatic': Maternity Services Are Still Restricted. This Is The Impact. ‘I tested positive for coronavirus while I was in labour’ “The labour was progressing quickly. I spent time in the pool, then moved to the couch. I remember someone calling the midwife out of the room at one point and I could hear muttering. I was exhausted and in pain. My midwife came back in: ‘I need to let you know you’ve tested positive for Covid-19.’ I looked at my husband with fear. What did it mean? I had no symptoms, no idea how I’d got it. I’d not left the house for a month. I worried what it meant for my baby, but most of all, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt.”Read more of Steph’s story.  ‘I had my sister on loudspeaker when my son was born’ “I’d been very scared of a C-section, but it was the right choice in the moment. The whole team in theatre were female, and it was a really positive atmosphere. And once the epidural worked, it was amazing how suddenly the pain went. My doula was next to me the whole time, and my sister heard my son scream as he was born. They showed him to me really quick, and he went off for checks. He totally stopped crying when he was laid on my chest and heard my voice.”Read more of Cath’s story. ‘A woman screamed at me to cover my baby’s face’ “I gave birth just before lockdown, and left on the Friday morning, just as the UK was shutting down. When I got out, it became clear I’d been fairly removed from everything in the ward. I walked out of hospital and it was chaotic. A woman screamed at me to cover the baby’s face. ‘There’s a virus,’ she shouted. It was a completely different atmosphere to when I walked in, where everyone has gone out of their way to make sure there wasn’t that sense of panic.”Read more of Nneka’s story. ‘My lockdown baby weighed 11 pounds 8 ounces – and I didn’t have stitches’“My baby got stuck, after I’d given birth to the head. All of a sudden, I had to get out the pool and I noticed a lot of people in the room. Walking over to the bed was a challenge – once you’ve given birth to a head, it’s not easy to walk! My partner had to lift me out of the pool, they helped guide me and I was laid down on the bed. I’m not sure how long my son took to come out. My partner said it was a couple of minutes. I was just pushing, pushing, doing what I was told. They had to dislocate his shoulder to get him out, they later told me.”Read more of Nikkola’s story.  Related... Frustrated, Upset, Forgotten: How Pregnant Women Feel With No End Of Lockdown In Sight ‘I was scared to look at my daughter after giving birth to her’“Being pregnant during a pandemic was a struggle. I gave birth in July, so had spent nearly five months worrying. It was a whirlwind. When my daughter came out, I was exhausted. I felt like I was having an out of body experience, I was so tired, I felt like I couldn’t push. But I knew I had to get her out and make sure she was healthy. I gave birth on my knees and she came out behind me. They told me to turn around and look at her. I was so scared, though! I couldn’t turn around. I told them I was scared. But then my partner faced me and told me to look down at our daughter. So I did.” Read more of Shomoy’s story.‘I never wanted a hospital birth – but made the experience positive’“I’d come prepared for sure, with headphones, series downloaded onto my tablet to watch Netflix, and music. I had lots of video calls from my partner and family, too – and the food in the hospital was excellent! Apple cake for dessert, always topped up with tea. It really made the experience pleasant. As women, we really bonded in that room. We were with each other for what felt like a long period of time: all the pessaries, toilet trips, whenever something happened. The bond was amazing, it kept the atmosphere light, as we chit-chatted away through our labours – discussing each other’s lives.”Read more of Louise’s story. Related... Lockdown Let Me Be A More Present Dad – And Partner ’I laboured for a day without my husband“There had been a few incidents of reduced movement from the baby during my pregnancy, so I had an early induction. My husband couldn’t be with me, so I had to go into hospital all alone. Once there, I reacted strongly to the drugs and the contractions were consistent – and consistently painful – for hours. They were so frequent, in fact, that the doctors took the pessary out earlier than expected and moved me to a side room. Then they broke my waters. I was 2cm dilated and once they’d broken, my husband was able to come in. It’d been 24 hours since I’d last seen him.”Read more of Anna’s story.‘My baby got stuck in my pelvis’“They examined me in triage – I stayed on my own in that small room for three hours, yet ended up only 1cm dilated. I decided to go back home but there my contractions were getting stronger and stronger. I couldn’t do anything. I wanted my husband and mum to eat. I remember saying to them: you guys have lunch, and after that, we’ll go back to the hospital. But things were getting worse – 10 minutes later, I was like, screw that, wrap your sandwiches in tin foil, we’re going. I howled like an animal all the way back to hospital.” Read more of Verity’s story.Related... This Mum Draws Comics For New Mothers With Postnatal Depression ’I’ve delivered babies for 10 years, giving birth myself was surreal’“When the peak of the pandemic hit, I was four months pregnant. As a midwife, I had additional knowledge of the research and knew the virus couldn’t cross the placenta to the baby. I wasn’t overly concerned, but obviously the virus was still brand-new so I didn’t know how it’d unfold. I’d say being a midwife made it slightly easier, though. Labour started on a Sunday, at 37 weeks and three days. I was having a home birth, so the midwife had been around earlier that day to check on the baby, go through paperwork, and make sure we were prepared. She ran through emergencies that might happen and how we’d deal with it. It reassured my partner that the home birth was a good option.” Read more of Marie’s story.Related... I'm A Black Mum Who Gave Birth During Covid-19. I've Never Felt More Vulnerable I've Delivered Babies For 10 Years. But Giving Birth Myself Was Surreal Frustrated, Upset, Forgotten: How Pregnant Women Feel With No End Of Lockdown In Sight
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For the last three decades, Have I Got News For You has been on hand to offer a sideways look at the week’s headlines, with no politician or celebrity safe from the acerbic wit of Ian Hislop and Paul Merton. The satirical panel show’s enduring popularity has meant it is now celebrating its 30th anniversary, with its 60th series due to kick off next week. To mark the milestone, we’re delving into the HIGNFY history books to bring you some surprising facts and figures you may not have known about the show...1. There have been 524 episodes of Have I Got News For You, spread out over 59 series since its debut episode on 28 September 1990.2. There have now been more episodes hosted by guest presenters than by the original host Angus Deayton, who left in 2002. Angus hosted 198 episodes of HIGNFY, while 326 episodes have been fronted by others. 3. Across those 326 episodes, 115 different people have sat in the host’s seat. 4. Alexander Armstrong holds the record for most guest host appearances on the show, at 34. He is followed by Jo Brand, who has guest hosted 24 times. 5. Andy Hamilton holds the record for most frequent guest, with 24 appearances on the panel. 6. Team captain Ian Hislop is the only person to have appeared in every single episode of Have I Got News For You. While fellow team captain Paul Merton has been with the show since the start, he took a break from series 11 of the show in 1996 – although he did make an appearance as a guest during the series, where he was a panellist on Ian’s team. 7. Despite this, Paul has won the majority of the series by a significant margin – he has triumphed in 44 of them, with Ian only winning five. Ten series ended up as a draw. 8. Even when you break it down into individual episodes, Paul still holds the record for the most wins, boasting 332 triumphs to Ian’s 167 – 25 were drawn. 9. The famous revolving back panels of the set have featured an incredible 2,623 different people. 10. The panels used to revolve with the help of three crew members winding a bicycle chain by hand. Nowadays, this function is carried out by two crew members. 11. US president Donald Trump is one of those wanted by Ian Hislop to guest present the show. “I have an awful feeling this may not happen,” he said. 12. Jeremy Clarkson once threw a biro at Ian during a recording of the show, which hit him in the face and he started bleeding. Ian claimed they had to stop filming the show but “Jeremy insisted that it wasn’t blood but red ink from the biro”. Ian continued: “He later apologised but said that he was only doing so because ‘his wife told him to’.”13. One of Paul’s personal highlights of the last 30 years was when the late Bruce Forsyth sat in the hot seat. “He was my favourite guest host,” Paul said. “He brought so much fun to the set and made it so unlike any other episode for its light entertainment values. “I find it funny that the show I liked the most is probably the one Ian hates the most!”14. The show has been recorded in four different studios over its 30 years. Its home for the majority of those three decades was at The London Studios on the capital’s Southbank prior to its closure in 2018. It subsequently moved to Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, and its upcoming series will be the first to record at the newly reopened Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. In 2001, it also recorded a one-off election special at the old BBC Television Centre in White City.15.  The upcoming 60th series will see the reintroduction of a studio audience after the last run was filmed virtually. The audience in the studio will be socially distanced and at a reduced capacity. There are also plans for a second socially-distanced audience to watch the record from a separate screening room, with their live reactions being used to recreate the impact of a full audience.Have I Got News For You returns to BBC One on Friday 2 October. READ MORE: Ian Hislop’s ‘Virtuoso’ Roasting Of Dominic Cummings Was So Lacerating Even Piers Morgan Liked It David Tennant Couldn't Resist A Dig At Eamonn Holmes While Guest Hosting HIGNFY Have I Got News For You Viewers Can't Get Over Just How Damn Surreal Its New 'From Home' Format Is
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Around 1,700 students in Manchester have been ordered to self-isolate after 127 of them tested positive for coronavirus.Hundreds of students at the Birley campus and Cambridge Halls at Manchester Metropolitan University have been told to stay in their rooms for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.The rate of Covid-19 spread in Manchester was 185.6 per 100,000 people in the week up to September 22, when 1,026 positive tests were recorded, figures show.This was almost twice the rate of the previous week when the infection rate was 93.2 per 100,000, with 515 cases.The news comes after all students in Scotland were told to avoid pubs as part of efforts to prevent outbreaks in university campuses from spreading into the wider population.Hundreds of students are self-isolating after outbreaks of the virus at Glasgow, Edinburgh Napier and other universities.Manchester Met first-year student Joe Barnes told BBC Breakfast: “It’s left morale at my flat pretty low to be fair because to put it into perspective we have just had what should have been our freshers’ week.“We should have been going out making the most of it and now we are stuck inside for another two weeks after isolating for a week already because a couple of people in our flat have caught the virus. So we don’t see the end of it.“For this two-week period we have had the announcement all our lessons will be online, so theoretically I could go home and study but for me that sort of defeats the point of coming to uni at all. I have not only just come for my studies, I have come to meet new people and enjoy the experience.”The University and College Union has described the Manchester incident as “the latest catastrophe in a week where wholly predictable – and predicted – Covid outbreaks have caused havoc on campuses across the UK”.General secretary Jo Grady said: “We warned last month of the problems with moving thousands of students across the country and the time has come for urgent action from ministers and universities to protect staff and students.“Manchester Metropolitan University shifting teaching online only for foundation and first year students exposes the total absurdity of the current position of trying to continue with blended learning.”In an interview with The Guardian, Grady urged university leaders to drop face-to-face classes until the government improves its test-and-trace system.She told the paper: “If [vice-chancellors] don’t do something now, all their efforts will be undone in a few weeks because the number of infections will be so high, or there is an urgency about this that didn’t exist a month ago, because we are seeing infection rates rising and there is the danger that students are just becoming incubators.“But until there is an effective, UK-wide test-and-trace programme, there are going to be cases everywhere.”Councillor Bev Craig, executive member for adult health and wellbeing for Manchester City Council, said: “This is obviously very difficult for all of the young people involved and we will be working with the university and other public services to make sure that any of the students affected get the support they need.“Students are a vital part of our city, and as part of our plans we expected that numbers could rise as they returned to the city.”Related... I Knew Uni Would Be Different. But I Wasn’t Prepared For This St Andrews University Students Asked To Go Into 'Voluntary Weekend Lockdown'
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Care home residents and workers could be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine, according to interim guidance published on the UK government’s website.The advice has been developed to facilitate planning for the deployment of a safe and effective vaccine as soon as one is authorised for use in the UK.It’s become increasingly clear as vaccine testing has got underway that some groups of people would need to be given the vaccine first.The new guidance reveals who would be prioritised to receive it. These include:older adults’ resident in a care home and care home workersall those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workersall those 75 years of age and overall those 70 years of age and overall those 65 years of age and overhigh-risk adults under 65 years of agemoderate-risk adults under 65 years of ageall those 60 years of age and overall those 55 years of age and overall those 50 years of age and overrest of the population (priority to be determined)The list has been developed based on a review of UK epidemiological data on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic so far, in addition to data on developmental Covid-19 vaccines and mathematical modelling on the potential impact of different vaccination programmes.Related... Here's Where We're At With A Covid-19 Vaccine In The UK It comes with a caveat that the advice remains under review until we know more about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines in development. For example, we still don’t know if the vaccines are suitable for, and work in, older adults.Data from the UK indicates that those at greatest risk of severe illness and mortality from Covid-19 are adults over the age of 50 years, with the risk increasing markedly over the age of 70 years.The advice reads that any vaccine programme will need to ensure every effort is made to get good coverage in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, in areas of higher socio-economic deprivation, and in areas with outbreaks or high levels of community transmission.Worldwide, there are no Covid-19 vaccines currently approved for widespread use. Some are approved for limited use. One of China’s vaccine candidates, for example, has been approved for use in the military. There are nine vaccines globally which are now in phase III trials – the last phase of trials before a vaccine is ready for public use.The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, recently said in a broadcast there is increasing evidence the vaccines are “pointing in the right direction”. He also said it’s possible that some vaccines could be available before the end of the year in small amounts for certain groups.But it’s “much more likely that we’ll see vaccines becoming available over the first half of next year”, he added.Related... You Can Get Covid-19 And Flu At The Same Time – And It Can Be Deadly When Will We Be Able To Ditch Face Masks? The Most Common Signs Of Covid-19 Being Reported Right Now
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The reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK still remains above 1 and is continuing to rise.Data released on Friday by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1.2 and 1.5.Last week, the R number was between 1.1 to 1.4. All regions of England have an R that is higher than 1, according the government’s scientific advisers.R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect. When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today suggested in England there were 9,600 cases per day in the week until 19 September - an increase on the the 6,000 a day the previous week.It comes as London was placed on the government’s watchlist of areas of concern. It means stricter restrictions could be imposed in the capital if cases continue to rise.Today it was also shown that no local area in England is considered a low risk coronavirus zone within the nation’s new contact tracing app.The NHS Covid-19 app was rolled out across England and Wales on Thursday after months of delay, designed to automatically alert people of anyone who tests positive that they have been close to.One element within the app is a localised risk level based on the first part of a person’s postcode.But in the current environment it is not considered appropriate for anywhere in England to be deemed “low” risk, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said. Related... London Faces Local Lockdown After Being Placed On Coronavirus Watchlist
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The Great British Bake Off finally returned to our screens on Tuesday night, and there was a new face in that famous tent.Matt Lucas has joined Noel Fielding on the Bake Off presenting team following Sandi Toksvig’s departure - and needless to say, there were japes a plenty from the Little Britain star.As well as mocking Boris Johnson before the show had even properly started, Matt delivered plenty of memorable gags that went down a (sweet) treat with viewers.Here are some of the highlights…On fluffing his debutAs Matt and co-host Noel went to kick off the signature challenge, he shouted “Bake!” at the wrong time – first too early, and then too late. Hats off to Matt Lucas! He made quite an impression in Cake Week! #GBBOpic.twitter.com/0UJgbCx1P6— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) September 22, 2020On his eating habitsSpeaking to one contestant, Matt admitted: “I have the eating age of a nine-year-old. I just eat Super Noodles.“You know they are called Batchelors Super Noodles? Because I am homosexual I call them Confirmed Batchelors Super Noodles.”On the show’s high stakesAs the technical challenge came to a close, Noel announced: “Bakers, you only have got half an hour left.”Matt replied: “We don’t mean half an hour to live, we just mean half an hour to the end of the challenge, so don’t panic too much.”Noel then added: “One of you has got half an hour to live…”On a bubble gum-flavoured cakeLoriea, a diagnostic radiographer from Durham, delivered a bubble gum Battenberg during the signature challenge, but failed to impress the judges.Matt told her: “I do rather like it. When I have my ninth birthday party can you cook for me please?”On the episode’s dropped cakesThe technical challenge saw the bakers asked to craft six miniature upside-down pineapple cakes.As they delivered their creations to the judges, Sura swung her arm to hit a fly and knocked Dave, causing four of his six cakes to fly across the room.Matt quipped: “It’s my fault because I was looking at you when it happened. And you were probably hypnotised by my beauty.”This year’s series opener notched up Bake Off’s biggest overnight launch audience since its move to Channel 4, the broadcaster said, averaging 6.9 million viewers and peaking at 7.9 million.The Great British Bake Off airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4.MORE BAKE OFF: Matt Lucas Hilariously Mocks Boris Johnson In Great British Bake Off Debut Toppling Tiers And Custard Crimes: Great British Bake Off’s Biggest Disasters Ever This Year's Great British Bake Off Contestants Are (As Ever) A Seriously Eclectic Mix
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The fashion industry is shifting towards significant digital transformation. From 3D design to the digital showcasing of fashion collections, the digitalisation of physical garments demonstrates key areas of rapid expansion, as well as offering hope and opportunity to an industry in flux.The complex, global supply chain ground to a halt during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and remains sluggish as it steadily reopens. In the midst of physical lockdowns, shrinking economies and cancelled fashion week shows, the desire for fashion brands to engage consumers and, ultimately, sell their products, intensifies. But with all the physical and fiscal challenges, the question is: how? Agile and progressive brands have turned to 3D and extended reality (aka XR, which includes VR and AR) to create and promote their products and gain an edge over the competition. The value of utilising 3D digital assets in AR experiences has been demonstrated by a number of brands, including Nike and Gucci (who both created AR apps for sneaker fit and Tryon) and JW Anderson, who partnered with HoloMe on an AR fashion presentation earlier this year.  The Spring 2021 collection was captured using a green screen and computer vision in order to insert them, via a smartphone app, into the user’s immediate environment. The app hosted live feeds for wholesale buyers to visualise the collection in their own environment, from which they were able to make decisions on which garments to order for retail―a critical solution in the face of physical travel restrictions and social distancing. Add to this Shopify’s integration of 3D and AR tools, which it claimc “have been shown to increase conversion rates by up to 250% on product pages,” and the benefits of 3D and AR for the fashion industry are clear.Pushing this extended reality concept further, the recent Fabric of Reality VR fashion show brought together emerging fashion designers and VR artists to take part in a show that was live-streamed to a global audience of over 100,000 people. The project was the brainchild of RYOT (Verizon Media’s award-winning content studio and innovation lab) and the Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion and has been covered extensively on HuffPost UK.  During London Fashion Week, the VR show has now taken on a new incarnation, with the garments of the three fashion designers, Charli Cohen, Damara Ingles and Sabinna Rachimova, being ‘teleported’ out of the VR realm and into WebAR.  This demonstrates the potential for fashion brands to not only create designs digitally and present them virtually (with all the time, waste and cost savings it affords), but also share them to global audiences to experience in their immediate location in augmented reality, and share on social media.Click on the links below to be taken into a 3D AR experience, and hit the “Sound On” button on the top right corner to hear the designers talk about their garments.Fashion week is a pivotal time for brands to raise awareness, engage consumers and drive sales, however, this is proving challenging for many as traditional catwalk shows have been replaced with digital ones, which Business of Fashion declared earlier this year “a flop, at least on social media”.  It reported that London Fashion Week in June, which features menswear, saw social media engagement plunge 55 per cent from January, according to data analytics and software provider, Launchmetrics. Given that social media is fundamental to brand awareness and sales, this appears to raise major concerns over the effectiveness of digital fashion shows. However, on review, the most common types of digital shows were 2D videos―many were traditional catwalks (filmed behind closed doors)― which may explain why they fell flat with digital-native audiences who are used to highly creative digital content, and stalwart fashion week insiders used to front row benefits and physical fanfare.  Considering the digital tools readily available to the industry – including 3D design, augmented and virtual reality, virtual catwalk models, animation and 3D gaming environments – it’s fortunate that the fashion industry has far richer technical toolkits to plunder before declaring digital fashion shows inferior.  This season, some brands have begun exploring these tools to engage fashion week audiences, including ‘brand of the moment’ Khaite, who this week released their SS2021 shoe collection via WebAR. In terms of generating engagement and lasting impact, research shared by Gorilla In The Room, an agency testing consumer responses to AR and VR indicates that VR experiences impact implicit memory, causing heightened emotional responses as if the person is experiencing something from a first-person perspective. Due to the feeling of presence in the VR environment, episodic memories (autobiographical in nature) are created in favour of semantic (general factual) memories, which can amplify retention of what is experienced. In essence, VR has been proven to be a powerful tool to connect people to the stories behind products in a way that gives them deeper meaning and value.  This cuts straight to the core of what brands seek to achieve in building affinity and loyalty with their target audience.In a similar manner, AR places the brand’s product into the world of the viewer, allowing them to create new content that is personal and unique to them.  Designer Damara Ingles articulated the importance of this when saying: “Extended Reality opens a whole new dimension of fashion possibilities and future dreaming, allowing us to expand the wearable vocabulary in ways that become inclusive of our digital identities.”  As digital-native Gen-Z inhabit online realms as a natural extension of their physical lives, it seems that VR and AR will be crucial to engaging this cohort – both emotionally and commercially.An important catalyst for brands’ increased adoption of VR and AR experiences will be the expansion of 5G networks, which will facilitate blisteringly-fast streaming, content creation and sharing.  Moin Roberts-Islam, Technology Development Manager at the Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion says that this expansion promises to not only allow vast and rapid data transfer in technical terms but a drastic reduction in latency for users, allowing truly interactive shared but unique-to-user AR and VR experiences.  With the computation being done by powerful machines located remotely, the device, be it a smartphone, tablet or a headset, serves as simply the object of delivery, rather than a limiting factor. At the same time as this technological leap, and accelerated by physical limitations brought about by Covid-19, brands are swapping 2D for 3D design and photogrammetry with widespread digitisation of products in the early stages of conception.  This is creating a ‘perfect storm’ of digital assets that are virtual and augmented reality-ready. Utilising these digital products will help facilitate not only end-to-end digital supply chains from design to retail, but also with marketing, promotion and sales. The sustainability gains, cost reductions and enhanced branding and marketing opportunities shouldn’t be underestimated.  Stylus trends intelligence agency declared in their recent 5G retail futures report that “5G will enable a technological revolution, realising a ‘phygital’ world in which our physical experiences will be intertwined with digital layers, including seamless upgrades of AR uniting real life with imagined brandscapes.”  The fashion industry may be facing unprecedented challenges, but digital transformation coupled with 5G rollouts and extended reality tools offers unprecedented creative and commercial opportunities. 
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British-French actor Michael Lonsdale, best known for playing Hugo Drax in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, has died in Paris aged 89, his agent has told AFP.Lonsdale was also known in the English-speaking world as detective Claude Lebel 1973’s spy thriller The Day of the Jackal and as. M. in 1993’s The Remains of the Day. In 1986 he starred opposite Sean Connery in the medieval drama The Name of the Rose.He also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 historical drama Munich, alongside future James Bond star Daniel Craig, and in 1998’s action thriller Ronin.The bilingual actor had hundreds of acting credits to his name, most recently appearing in the Belgian-French drama The First, the Last (Les Premiers, les Derniers) released in 2016.Lonsdale reprised the role of Drax for the 2016 video game 007 Legends. When asked whether he was concerned that playing a Bond villain might affect his career, he told James Bond fan site Mi6-HQ: “Not at all! On the contrary!“Because, I made so many films that were not really very popular or didn’t make much money, and I only made poor films, so I thought I might like to be in a rich film.”Reflecting on his experience of making the film he said: “It was a great experience to make a very popular film. Everybody was so kind. Roger Moore, Lois Chiles and Richard Kiel were all wonderful. There was a beautiful understanding between the actors, and so I was very happy to do that.”The official Twitter account for the estate of Sir Roger Moore, who played Bond opposite Lonsdale, expressed its condolences online.Terribly saddened to learn Michael Lonsdale has also passed away today. As Hugo Drax he was a smooth-tongued and cultured adversary to 007 in Moonraker. pic.twitter.com/qoBbziZlZ9— Sir Roger Moore (Legacy) (@sirrogermoore) September 21, 2020Moore had previously singled out Lonsdale for praise as a Bond villain, telling GQ in 2012: “All the villains are great. Michael Lonsdale [Drax, in Moonraker] is a brilliant actor, sometimes you think that they’re too good for the movie.”Lonsdale was born in Paris to English and Irish-French parents, and initially raised in Guernsey, then later in Casablanca, Morocco. He later returned to live in Paris, making his stage debut aged 24. He made his film debut in 1956.Also on HuffPost
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The first thing I learn from One America News Network is that there is a new Rolling Stones flagship store opening on Carnaby Street, where “you can always get what you want.” The next is that Donald Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and held a massively successful rally in North Carolina where he condemned mail-in voting. OAN will then tell me that The Atlantic magazine is full of lies and owned by “America’s new George Soros.”What I don’t know at this point on Wednesday morning, only 20 minutes into a 16-hour straight viewing of far-right conspiracy network OAN, is that I will watch its highlight reel of Trump’s rally seven times and the attack on The Atlantic eight times. I will watch a segment on Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination, a meaningless stunt by a far-right Norwegian parliamentarian, at least 10 times. I will watch multiple different hosts recite the same introductions and same scripts, sometimes saying the words along with them in my empty apartment. Because OAN blends its outlandish coverage with everyday banality I will come to know that The Rolling Stones memorabilia store is, at its heart, “about the music.”This has been a breakout year for OAN. For most people, the network is infamous for its conspiracy theories, its employment of far-right activists and White House correspondent Chanel Rion’s absurdly sycophantic questions to the president. (“We’re watching Joe Biden slip very gently into senility, while you’re at the top of your game. What’s your secret?”)  Fact-checking OAN, especially 16-straight hours of it, is basically a Sisyphean taskOAN is ostensibly a news network, with 24-hour coverage and a multimillion-dollar budget. It’s available in at least 35 million households through multiple service providers and has its own streaming app for smart televisions. Trump has repeatedly tweeted praise for the channel and encouraged his followers to watch it. He gave the outlet an exclusive interview during the Republican National Convention, and Trump family members and top associates have repeatedly appeared on its programmes. As the election quickly approaches, it is effectively a media arm of the Trump campaign.Pro-Trump media is often viewed only through brief moments that highlight its most egregious disinformation. This can obscure that part of its function: to produce a kind of information pollution that warps viewers’ perception of reality. It creates an alternate universe where baseless conspiracies mix into legitimate news, major events are ignored and the president can do no wrong. So I’ve decided to binge-watch my way into that reality. As it happens, I chose the day that CNN and The Washington Post score a massive scoop: audio from Trump’s interview with Bob Woodward, in which the president admits – in the early days of the pandemic, which will soon claim 200,000 American lives – that he is purposely downplaying the coronavirus. If I was keeping an eye on Twitter or flipping channels I’d know about this bombshell right away, but on OAN, it barely exists. 7am to noon OAN’s daytime shows typically feature a single host sitting at a desk or a couch in front of a city backdrop or stock market-themed green screen. It should look like any other channel, but even with all the trappings of cable news, there is always an uncanny valley between OAN and a regular network. The lighting and graphics are somehow slightly off, and awkward stock footage such as faceless businessmen shaking hands is embedded in reports. There are minor technical issues and hosts flub their lines along the way. The live ticker at the bottom of the screen for hours has no news; it just constantly scrolls “VISIT OANN.COM | FOLLOW @OANN ON TWITTER.”OAN’s morning programming is incredibly repetitive. Although the hosts change each hour, much of the scripts they read remain the same, and pre-taped news segments air multiple times. What host Stephanie Myers presents just before 7am is sometimes identical to what host Lilia Fifield says an hour later, which is repeated again on Wall to Wall with Greta Wall later in the morning. There is no context or analysis for many news events, such as a fire at a refugee camp in Greece, often just repurposed footage from news agencies or local stations and voiceover that sounds aggregated from news wires like Reuters.These more generic segments are the closest OAN comes to being a straight news channel, which is how its owner Robert Herring Sr. promoted the network when he launched it along with his son Charles in 2013. Herring Sr., a multimillionaire Republican donor, initially touted the network as just-the-facts news without biased commentary. Herring Sr. reportedly played a significant role in making the network’s coverage increasingly right-wing and pro-Trump, and several anchors anonymously told Politico that many on staff are not diehard conservatives but dejected liberals who are simply trying to hold on to a job in broadcasting. OAN quickly morphed into an outright pro-Trump outlet that aired his rallies in full during the 2016 presidential election campaign and now lauds his administration. The shift has made OAN a rising star in the right-wing media ecosystem, resulting in the president repeatedly praising the station on Twitter and giving OAN closer access into Trump World. Ratings are allegedly up 55% compared with last year, Charles Herring told Politico. (OAN doesn’t subscribe to industry-standard Nielsen ratings, making it hard to know exact viewership numbers.) Even when OAN isn’t promoting outright misinformation, its choice of what to cover helps shape a world that its conspiratorial coverage then distorts. Portland police being paid increased overtime during protests is elevated to national news and manages to fit in mention of “violent rioters.” A story about a federal ban on imports from China’s Xinjiang province and another on the Pacific nation of Palau inviting the US to build a military base frame America as boldly countering China’s influence. It doesn’t matter that the Palau story is almost a week old, or that the Customs and Border Protection has not made any formal announcement on Xinjiang imports.Where OAN really begins to deviate from reality, however, is in its programming that features guest interviews or pre-taped segments from its better-known personalities. Just after 7am, Fifield introduces a segment from Rion, the White House correspondent, that is an absurd defence of Trump against The Atlantic’s damaging report that the president called Americans who died in war “losers” and “suckers.”“A once-respected journal now finds itself exposed as a privately funded fiction factory for the DNC,” Rion says, claiming that The Atlantic’s reporting, which has been backed up by multiple other outlets including Fox News, “went down in journalistic flames.” The segment baselessly accuses Atlantic journalists of being puppets for owner Laurene Powell-Jobs, whom Rion describes as “America’s new George Soros” who hired a “coterie of pet writers” to do her bidding. Rion, who is also the “curator-at-large” of a word appreciation website that claims to be the “premier destination for lovers of fine words,” lingers on pronouncing “coterie.”The segment airs multiple times just in the first few hours of the day, and as Rion talks about “truth” and “reality,” the words begin to lose any meaning. I become fixated on why there is a large gray smudge in the second “o” of a sinister “anonymous sources” graphic. I watch Powell-Jobs’ headshot slowly pan across the screen over and over.“Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it ultimately prevails,” Rion says in a sentence that will slowly sear its way into my mind over the course of the day.Another piece repeated throughout the morning is a report from OAN’s Pearson Sharp, who sounds like the voice of Moviefone, promoting Trump’s claims that mail-in voting will result in fraud, giving the impression “illegals” will receive ballots and falsely suggesting Hillary Clinton only won the popular vote in 2016 because “almost 6 million ballots went missing” and “just vanished.” Sharp’s source in this segment is a right-wing advocacy group with a history of misleading and debunked statements that is run by a former Trump administration official. OAN will air it six times on Wednesday. Fact-checking OAN, especially 16-straight hours of it, is basically a Sisyphean task. There are simply too many pieces of misinformation per minute to catch up, and the central premise of its coverage is often so misleading that it defies any good faith engagement.Between 7am and noon, OAN runs interviews with right-wing think tankers under the banner “Economists Warn A Biden America Would Destroy Economy” and Sharp talking with a California pro-gun activist who claims billionaires are coming to take away the second amendment. (“Including George Soros?!” Sharp asks.) OAN also brings on Trump pollster John McLaughlin, who condemns “skewed media polls” showing the president trailing Biden and talks about pro-Trump boat parades.“If more people owned boats we’d win this in a landslide,” McLaughlin says.News consumers in the rest of the country, even viewers of Fox News, are seeing a succession of major stories that Wednesday: massive wildfires engulfed large parts of California, where OAN is based, and turned the sky above San Francisco an apocalyptic orange. A Rochester, New York, police chief and his top officials resigned after allegations of covering up police involvement in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who suffocated after officers put a bag over his head during an arrest. But meanwhile, at around 11:20am, OAN airs an unbroken feed of Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf delivering a “state of the homeland” address where he defends the agency’s crackdown on nationwide anti-racism protests. A few hours after this address, it will become public that a DHS official filed a major whistleblower complaint that claims Wolf twice told him to stop reporting on the Russian threat to the US election because it “made Trump look bad.” I will not find out about this until the next day, because OAN will not cover it during the 16 hours I’m watching.Noon to 6pmWhile the rest of the news media covers the Woodward revelations, which broke just before noon, I am looking at OAN still showing a live feed of Wolf’s speech even though he has now stopped talking and left the podium. “There are shuttles waiting outside,” one official helpfully tells the attending audience.When OAN cuts back to the studio, host Jennifer Franco summarises Wolf’s speech and then goes on to introduce a series of stories that include a poll showing Portland’s disapproval of its mayor, a Republican bill to increase pay for law enforcement officers and a Belgian magazine accused of using blackface on its cover. The Atlantic segment airs again. “Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it ultimately prevails,” Rion says.At around 12:10pm, OAN runs a segment bashing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for “flip flopping” on mask policy, and I realise despite multiple stories condemning him, this is the first time in five hours I have heard Biden speak.  It’s exceedingly rare to actually hear from any Democrats or people with dissenting views. Trump is everywhere – on b-roll, speaking at length at his rally and giving live pressers – but Kamala Harris and Biden are only ever mentioned and function as unspeaking villains. A few-second clip of Harris during a segment on former Fox News host Megyn Kelly condemning her for praising police shooting victim Jacob Blake’s family, and another brief clip of Biden talking about masks, are essentially all we hear from them all day.About 5 hours into watching OAN my television asks if I am still there and begins a countdown to turn itself off. I watch for a few seconds then press a button on the remote to stop it. I will solely watch OAN all day, only getting up from in front of the TV to grab food or go to the bathroom. During one commercial break later in the day, I run down to the corner store to buy beer.In the bottom left corner of the screen, OAN has a live feed previewing the upcoming White House press briefing. Before it cuts to the presser, OAN will cover luxury giant LVMH possibly dropping its deal to acquire Tiffany, rerun its segment on Trump being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – now with a quote from the Norwegian far-right politician stating that “Barack Obama did nothing” to receive the award – and report that the Oscars is adding a diversity component to its selection process. The channel will tease a segment promising to reveal the reason the Baylor vs. Louisiana Tech college football game has been postponed. (Several players tested positive for coronavirus, which is not given any broader context.)When the network cuts to the live White House briefing, it only takes a few minutes for reality to Kool-Aid Man its way through the wall of OAN. As soon as White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany opens up the floor to questions, almost every reporter asks about the Woodward tapes. “I’d like to ask you about the Woodward interviews. Did President Trump intentionally mislead the American people about the threat of Covid – a pandemic that has now cost the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans?” CBS White House correspondent Paula Reid says.I don’t know exactly what has happened at this point, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s not good for Trump and has become a big enough story to be simply referred to as the “Woodward interviews.” It also makes me hyperconscious that there are likely a number of important stories that I don’t know about because I’ve instead watched three segments on Eric Trump declaring that the NFL is “officially dead” because Dallas Cowboys players may take a knee. Toward the end of the briefing, McEnany cuts off a question about Trump drawing down troops in Iraq – something I can’t remember if I’m also hearing about for the first time – and calls on OAN’s Rion at the back of the briefing room. Rion asks if Palestinians have “expressed any interest in distancing themselves from Iran, in the interest of Middle East peace.” The biggest story to OAN is still Trump’s peace prize nomination. When OAN cuts back to the studio, Fifield briefly summarises some of what McEnany said in the briefing and then moves right along to other news. Fifield announces that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has praised Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination. The news ticker at the bottom of the screen is working now, and it also reports that Trump has been nominated for the prize.  At a time when any reasonable news outlet could have gotten it together to address the major breaking news story making international headlines, OAN cuts to an unbroken feed of vice president Mike Pence giving a fireside chat to anti-abortion organisation Susan B. Anthony List. Pence laments that the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law restricting access to abortion and vows that it means “we need more conservatives on the Supreme Court of the United States.” Pence wraps up after 2pm, and then it’s back to Greta Wall with the top story that air travel is down over Labor Day. The Atlantic segment airs again.It’s not until around 3pm that OAN addresses the Woodward interviews, which it frames as “the White House shuts down the mainstream media over Bob Woodward’s book.” A short clip of Trump telling Woodward he likes to play down the severity of coronavirus airs, and host Jennifer Franco repeats nearly the same talking points that McEnany used hours earlier during the White House briefing.After a perfunctory acknowledgement of the Woodward interview, the network quickly moves on. Donald Trump Jr. has defended the 17-year-old militia supporter accused of killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during anti-racism protests. Trump Jr. tells Extra “we all do stupid things at 17” and OAN states that Trump Jr. is “waiting for due process” before making judgments. I am getting the impression this is not a banner day for the Trump administration, though on OAN there’s no cause for concern.Trump makes his first live appearance of the day just before 4pm, when he is announcing his list of possible nominees for the Supreme Court. As he goes through his choices, I think I hear senator Josh Hawley called, but wonder if perhaps there is a judge with the same name. I hear senator Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz listed as well, and realise something strange has happened.  OAN moves past Trump’s nominations so fast that I wonder if I had misheard them, and I start to consider what other networks look like. I imagine Twitter is melting down while OAN airs a segment on Walmart considering drone delivery. I don’t know that Cotton has also tweeted “it’s time for Roe v. Wade to go” just moments after Trump named him, and OAN will never mention it for the entire time I’m watching.It is obviously an extreme to get information solely from watching OAN, let alone 16 hours of it, but it’s at least partially reflective of how conservative audiences consume news media. Right-wing audiences tend to receive their information from fewer sources than left-wing audiences, according to Pew Research Center reports, and have high degrees of trust toward those sources while distrusting established news outlets. Media analysts argue that this dynamic makes conservative audiences more susceptible to falling into right-wing echo chambers rife with misinformation.6pm to 11pm Watching OAN for this long gives you the feeling like you’re stuck in an airport in some alternate version of America where press freedom and media independence have evaporated. Even more than Fox News, it’s probably the closest the United States has to something that would feel natural in an authoritarian-leaning country.In Hungary, far-right nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban hollowed out the media to the point where most news outlets are under the control of sympathetic oligarchs who have fired or pushed out anyone critical of the government. It’s not that these outlets have stopped carrying any news, it’s that it is devalued or unreliable and only toes the party line. Meanwhile, the more extreme tabloids traffic in conspiracies and outright government propaganda, and this is what OAN’s prime-time news lineup feels like. Apart from pre-taped segments like the ones Rion and Sharp deliver, the really outlandish conspiracies and intense spin happen during OAN’s nighttime broadcasts. It takes a couple hours of coverage that includes Ohio governor Mike DeWine appearing as a guest to defend Trump over the Woodward interviews and a few ad breaks teasing “what familiar faces from the Senate” made Trump’s Supreme Court list, but by 8pm, the channel is in full swing.“When you have a cold, do we close down the country?” Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway of the duo Diamond and Silk, coronavirus conspiracy theorists and former Fox News pundits, asks OAN host Stephanie Hamill. “I’m getting real tired of science.” Diamond and Silk, who were cut from Fox News after promoting coronavirus conspiracies, go on to falsely suggest that Covid-19 death tolls are being inflated. (Medical experts believe that we are actually undercounting them.)Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it will ultimately prevail.Hamill’s other guests include far-right conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza and several other conservative activists who attack Black Lives Matter and The Atlantic, and go on to call for “strict criminal penalties” for “false rape claims” while discussing the sexual assault allegations against Trump. At one point, Hamill condemns tech platforms for taking down “second amendment groups.”“When they don’t like your ideas they call you a racist. They call you a white supremacist,” Hamill tells one guest.Hamill is followed by Liz Wheeler, whom Trump has singled out for praise on Twitter, and who hosts the show “Tipping Point” with an unblinking intensity. Wheeler’s first segment is a lengthy condemnation of an unknown Rhode Island high school civics teacher, whom she accuses of promoting “anti-Trump indoctrination” for making her students read critical articles from HuffPost, The Daily Beast and The Atlantic. This is a prime-time national news story on OAN.“This teacher is a perfect example of the rot in public schools,” Wheeler says.  “Tipping Point’s” other targets include The Atlantic (again), Kamala Harris and Facebook, which Wheeler accuses of “censoring” one of her videos that was flagged for misinformation. Wheeler’s show mercifully ends at 10 p.m., bringing up the final program of the night: “After Hours” with host Alex Salvi. Although all of OAN’s late-night talent resemble off-brand Fox News hosts, none are less convincing than Salvi, whose show has the cobbled together feel of a last-minute grade school book report.  “Tonight, Donald Trump is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee,” Salvi announces at the top of the show. Salvi claims that Trump did not win his first nomination in 2018 “despite historical precedent being on his side,” giving the nonsensical comparison of president Theodore Roosevelt winning the prize for brokering peace in the 1904 Russo-Japanese war.After playing a clip from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show addressing the Woodward interview, Salvi goes on to dismiss Woodward as simply promoting “another resistance grifter book deal.” Republican National Committee spokesperson Cassie Smedile appears as a guest to back him up.I have now been watching OAN for over 15 straight hours, but even I take notice at Salvi’s next chyron, which reads “Christian Walker: BLM Is KKK In Blackface” and “BLM Is A Domestic Terrorist Organisation That Hurts Black Americans.” The guest is Christian Walker, son of GOP convention speaker Herschel Walker, who tells Salvi that media and elites are on “a campaign to destroy Western civilisation.”  After that hint of far-right extremism, Salvi ends his program by playing part of the trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which he says he saw over the weekend and was “pretty entertaining to say the least.” It all feels like a fever dream, but then the next show begins with the grounding promise to reveal “what familiar faces” Trump has nominated for the Supreme Court. It’s past 11pm and I turn off OAN, knowing that the network’s churn of disinformation will begin again tomorrow and hoping that it hasn’t burrowed into my brain. Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it will ultimately prevail.Related... Trump’s New Campaign Strategy: Declare The Election Illegitimate Trump’s Latest Coronavirus Comment Slammed As ‘So Cruel And Cynical’ Trump Keeps Retweeting An Obviously Fake Joe Biden Clip
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