Tributes have been paid to the train driver, conductor and passenger killed in the Aberdeenshire train crash on Wednesday morning.The family of driver Brett McCullough said he was “the most decent and loving human being we have ever known”.A union official said conductor Donald Dinnie was “an amazing person” while the family of Christopher Stuchbury from Aberdeen also paid tribute to the 62-year-old who volunteered at a palliative care unit.The three men were killed after the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street ScotRail service left the tracks south of Stonehaven on Wednesday.McCullough leaves behind wife Stephanie and three children.His family said in a statement: “Words cannot describe the utterly devastating effect of Brett’s death on his family and friends.“We have lost a wonderful husband, father and son in the most awful of circumstances. Brett was the most decent and loving human being we have ever known and his passing leaves a huge void in all our lives.“We would like to thank the emergency services for their heroic efforts in helping everyone affected by this tragedy and for all the messages of support and condolence we have received.”McCullough, who worked in ScotRail’s Aberdeen depot and lived near the crash site, was a former gas engineer who had been a train driver for seven years.Originally from Bromley, Kent, he moved to Aberdeenshire to marry his wife.STONEHAVEN INCIDENT - UPDATEThe three people who died at the derailment incident have been formally identified and can be named as Brett McCullough (45) - Driver; Donald Dinnie (58) - Conductor; Christopher Stuchbury (62) - Passenger. More at: https://t.co/vrZwnjGW9Mpic.twitter.com/wWoPzWd2Hc— Police Scotland (@policescotland) August 13, 2020Kevin Lindsay, Aslef’s organiser in Scotland said McCullough was servicing the gas boiler of an Aberdeen train driver when they started chatting about the job and he decided to join the railways.He said: “He was a dedicated train driver, who loved his job, and was very popular at the depot with his colleagues.“He was also a devoted family man who loved his wife and children – two girls and a boy. Brett thought the world of his family, and we all thought the world of him.”The family of Dinnie also said: “As a family we are devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Donald, a loving and proud dad, son, partner, brother, uncle and friend.“No words could ever describe how much he will be missed by us all and there will always be a missing piece in our hearts.“It is so heart warming to see how many people have fond memories of Donald and I am sure they have plenty of happy and funny stories to tell.“He was a kind, caring and genuine person who was never found without a smile on his face. We know he will be deeply missed by all.“Together we thank each and every one of you for your kind words and condolences but we kindly ask at this time that we have the chance to grieve privately as a family.”Lindsay said the thoughts of his colleagues are with the families of McCullough and Dinnie, as did RMT senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch.Lynch said: “On behalf of the union I want to send condolences, support and solidarity to Donald Dinnie’s family‎, friends and colleagues.“It is absolutely clear that he was much loved and highly respected by all who knew him and his death is a tragedy that has shocked our entire industry.“Donald’s branch, Aberdeen 1, have told me that ‎he was an amazing person. He lit up every room he walked into with his cheery banter and stories.“Many knew Donald for most of his railway career as a driver and a guard. He was very much a family man and a valued, active and proud member of the RMT.‎”The family of Stuchbury said he enjoyed volunteering in his spare time at Roxburghe House, a specialist palliative care unit run by NHS GrampianTheir statement said: “Chris was a much adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, granddad, brother and uncle and was a treasured and loved friend to many, including the Targe Towing Team where he was an integral and valued member of staff.“He also volunteered at Roxburghe House in Aberdeen during his spare time which he thoroughly enjoyed doing.“We are devastated by his death and we request privacy at this difficult time as we come to terms with our loss.”Related... Climate Change A Factor In Aberdeenshire Train Crash, Suggests Scottish Transport Secretary Three Dead And Six Taken To Hospital After Train Derails In Aberdeenshire
It’s no coincidence that in the week the UK dipped into the worst recession the country has ever seen, the government chose to redirect public attention to a small number of people crossing the British channel.Public mood suggests that the country wants answers to difficult questions, to understand the high death toll from coronavirus and the depth of the economic fallout. So, it’s no real surprise that the government is looking to find someone to blame.This is not a new tactic from the government. In a disturbingly regular cycle, when the news cycle is quiet, and the summer months are warm, the government turns its eye to the Channel.Related... Priti Patel Is Arguing With An Ice-Cream Company Over Migrant Crossings Using Navy To Stop Migrants Crossing The Channel Would Be 'Unlawful And Dangerous', Amnesty Warns Successive Home Secretaries have chosen this strategy, vilifying people who want nothing more than to live otherwise ordinary lives in safety, but whose only path is the dangerous journey across the Channel.When the public hears the stories of people granted refuge in the UK, they are sympathetic, understanding that fleeing war, persecution and hardship is a matter of life and death, and that being with the people you love is of utmost importance.Many of us have felt a fraction of this during the pandemic and can wholly relate – how many of us have desperately wished we could be with the people we love during lockdown? But what the government does not tell us is that the only difference between refugees in the UK and those in Calais, is 15 miles.The reality is these perilous journeys are a problem of the government’s making, one that has gotten progressively worse decade after decade.Where we can agree with the government is that these journeys need to end – no one wants these journeys to occur, least of all those forced to risk their lives on overcrowded dinghies and those providing services, support and legal advice. But the reality is that these perilous journeys are a problem of the government’s making, one that has gotten progressively worse decade after decade, and could be resolved with simple action.The government’s current proposals to “secure” the borders will do nothing to end dangerous crossings or curtail trafficking. We’ve heard all of this before – that it’s France’s responsibility, that the route should be made “unviable” and that that the Navy should “push people back” in breach of international refugee and maritime law.When the government abruptly closed camps in Calais in 2016, organisations on the ground warned that these strategies would push people away from oversight, and directly into the hands of traffickers. Similarly, a report from the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in 2019 highlighted that “policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups” – Priti Patel sat on this very committee.The region of Calais acts as a black hole, where a small but steady population of homeless and destitute people are trapped, vulnerable to people traffickers and smugglers, exposed to violence from the French authorities, denied support service and legal advice.Related... I’m An Asylum Seeker. Coronavirus Is Tearing Apart My Second Chance At Life Many have family or loved ones in the UK and are desperate to reach them but in most cases, it is physically impossible to apply for asylum unless you are on British soil.The only existing routes to apply from outside the UK include the Global Resettlement Scheme, which is limited to Syrian refugees and has currently been suspended – no one has been resettled since March, and the Family Reunion Reunification route, which is extremely limited in its definition of “family”. Earlier this year, the government closed the Dubs route so that even unaccompanied children in the EU cannot reach the UK safely. The only way to ensure that these journeys are ended is to introduce accessible and legal ways for people to apply for asylum or entry from abroad, so that they can travel here safely and don’t have to rely on people traffickers.This could include expanding or recommitting to existing routes, introducing a claims processing centre in France or establishing Humanitarian Visas. Safe and legal routes would be a far more simple and pragmatic solution than building higher walls, putting a blindfold over our eyes and our hands over our hearts.In the coming months, we can expect to see the government increase their dangerous rhetoric about those crossing, as a means to scapegoat migrants for their catastrophic failings.It will be migrants who are to blame for the lack of jobs, a drop in house prices, the decimation of the high street and long queues at the Jobcentre – when this couldn’t be further from the truth. At this precise moment, it is vital that we call for safe and legal routes of entry to the UK, ensuring that no one dies trying to reach what should be home. But it is equally important that we stand fast against dangerous rhetoric – the same rhetoric that placed responsibility for the last financial crisis on to migrants. A compassionate and practical approach must be championed by everyone who wants to end dangerous crossings once and for all.Minnie Rahman is public affairs and campaigns manager for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.Related... Refugee Resettlement Scheme Still Closed Despite Record Channel Crossings Priti Patel Accused Of 'Sabre-Rattling' Over Reports Navy Could Turn Back Migrant Boats Opinion: Britain's Citizenship Test Is Racist A Tory MP Has Suggested 'Taking Back Calais' As Solution To Migrant Crossings
Listen to our weekly podcast Am I Making You Uncomfortable? about women’s health, bodies and private lives. Available on Spotify, Apple, Audioboom and wherever you listen to your podcasts.The news that the UK is entering the deepest recession on record is enough to fill even the hardiest among us with dread.Those impacted by the recession of 2008 may already be replaying the struggle over in their minds, with a sense of growing fea over what could happen in the months, and years, to come. It’s a time to be kind to ourselves and to remember: we’re all in this together.It’s understandable to feel anxious – a recession impacts the economy and people’s lives, as Yuko Nippoda, psychotherapist and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), explains. “Some people might lose their jobs, a recession can make it difficult to find a job, pay rises might stop or inequality can occur,” she says. “Lots of negative things happen.”“For some people it’s a matter of life and death. It is obviously natural to feel anxious for their future, and some people even feel in despair.”While there’s no quick-fix for dealing with the uncertainty surrounding economic challenges, there are coping mechanisms and strategies that can relieve some of the burden. Related... Oh, It’s Your First Recession? Here’s What You Need To Know Related... How To Deal With The Uncertainty Of Redundancy In A Pandemic I’m feeling anxious, what can I do?Nippoda says it’s important to follow trustworthy sources of information. “There is too much information circulating, some of which is inaccurate,” she says. “When we feel anxious, we tend to look for reassurance and go for any information that we want to hear. However, we need to be careful about random information as our life might be catastrophic if we follow fake news.”Psychotherapist Rakhi Chand, a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), agrees: “Not over-doing exposure to the news could be helpful.” Limit news notifications to your phone and try not to spend hours scrolling social media if you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all. It might be useful to take five minutes and write down what kind of information you need and want to know – then investigate some trustworthy articles from financial specialists, suggests Nippoda. “Then, we will be able to find out more details of the trend, and deal with the situation more effectively,” she explains.Other coping strategies Chand recommends include: regularly exercising, getting a good night’s sleep each night, eating healthily, and being aware of what you need for self-care. All of these can help build resilience.“Being able to say no to things that aren’t what we actually want is also vital in maintaining resilience,” says Chand. This is important – if you’re increasingly worried about money and feel unable to say no to social events or things that will cost you more than you can afford, it will only add to your worries. A person’s financial situation understandably has a huge impact on their mental health – this is especially the case for people with existing mental health problems. A Money and Mental Health survey of nearly 5,500 people with experience of mental health problems revealed 86% said their financial situation had made their mental health worse.Related... How To Properly Start Saving Money In 2020 People hit badly by the previous recession may feel an even greater sense of despair over what happens next – especially as the last time will have been traumatic for some. If this is the case, reflect on how you survived previously, says Nippoda, remembering you have a reserve of strength to call on.“It is important to remember the positive things you did and use the resources for your future experiences,” she says. “This can lead to you having hope.”Chand agrees, adding: “Do what you can to prepare, but try consciously to let go of what is out of your control,” she says. “It’s a bloody hard thing to do, but try. Stay in the present as much as you can – think about managing the short-term rather than thinking too much into the future, if possible.”Activities like reading, seeing friends, going for walks, listening to music or taking a bath can help you to stay in the present.I’m seriously concerned about how I’ll copeA report on the 2008-2013 recession by the University of Bristol suggested economic recessions can lead to increased levels of mental illness, suicide and suicidal behaviour. Often, key stressors include job loss, financial difficulties, debt, loss of home and relationship stresses.There’s a big difference between feeling a bit anxious about what the future holds, and feeling suicidal or like there’s no way forward. If you’re in a bad place, it’s imperative to seek help – whether that’s speaking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling, calling your local NHS urgent mental health helpline, or, if you don’t feel like you can keep yourself safe, going to A&E where a team of trained mental health specialists can offer further support.Charities such as Samaritans, Papyrus and the Shout Crisis text line can also lend an ear if you don’t feel like you have anyone close to you to speak to. In some parts of the UK, crisis houses are available for people to stay in for a number of days during a mental health crisis – you can find one here.Speaking to others about how you’re feeling, or what you’re experiencing if you have lost your job or are worried about money, can be a relief – especially if you feel like there is no clear solution on hand.Helpful places to get advice during a recession include: the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), the Money Advice Service (try its money navigator tool), local Job Centres, debt advice agencies (find a free debt advisor here), and mental health charities like Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, and Young Minds – some of which can offer discounted therapy sessions. You can also get a limited number of therapy sessions for free on the NHS or pay to go private. Some charities, like Turn2Us, offer money grants for people struggling financially. “Talk to others, if at all possible,” says Chand. “Having spoken to many during lockdown, I repeatedly heard that difficulties were vastly assuaged because of connections.”Related... Sharmadean Reid Is Fighting For A Workplace That Actually Works For Mums How Young Londoners Really Feel About Plans To Scrap Their Free Travel There's A Reason Why Socialising Feels So Exhausting Right Now
This story is part of Black Ballad’s takeover of HuffPost UK, a week-long series by Black women on parenting, family, and our post-Covid future.When I tell people I found the sperm donor for my child on social media, they visibly cringe. It’s only when I take the time to explain the shortage of Black donors in sperm banks that their judgement starts to wane. I went through the process three years ago, but it’s sad to see that since then, little has changed. I approached finding a donor much like online dating. To optimise my chances, I selected a bank that boasted being Britain’s “largest provider of donor sperm”. I made a list of traits I’d like the donor to have – and a few dealbreakers. I wanted a donor who was Black like me, because I’d be raising the child alone and didn’t think I’d be able to provide the right support for the child’s other culture. The sperm bank’s website invited me to filter my search according to race, hair colour, eye colour, and height. When I selected Black for race and pressed enter, I was told that “unfortunately”, my search didn’t come up with any options. Hoping this was an issue with that particular bank, I tried two other British sperm banks – but the result was equally disappointing.One bank came back to me with two potential donors. I rang a few days later to ask for more information, but one of them was no longer available as he’d met the 10-family limit each donor is allowed to create. The other had requested his sperm only be given to heterosexual couples so, as a single woman looking for a donor, I wasn’t eligible.Related... I'm A Black Mum Who Gave Birth During Covid-19. I've Never Felt More Vulnerable I had no choice but to widen my search to Europe. Many American banks aren’t compliant with the British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulations and can’t be used by our clinics, but I was surprised by the many options for Black donors available at Danish sperm banks.Their detailed profiles included psychological assessments, voice notes from the donor and childhood photos. I selected a donor and immediately began the process. But, I soon realised it was significantly more expensive to buy sperm from Denmark (£2,000 - £2,800 as opposed to £850 - £1,150).After my two rounds of IVF, I couldn’t afford to continue the process. This is how I ended up looking for a donor elsewhere.Private donation isn’t recommended by the HFEA, but I had no other options. I visited donor introduction sites and found the same lack of choice – or that donors were looking to co-parent. When I put my dilemma to other single mothers I followed on social media, they suggested looking for a sperm donor group on Facebook.There, I found a niche group for Black donors where women openly discussed their experiences – calling out deceitful donors, for example. After months of lurking, I saw a profile of a donor I liked and was able to chat to a mother who’d used him to conceive her daughter before starting the process with him.Related... Sharmadean Reid Is Fighting For A Workplace That Actually Works For Mums I was lucky – this private process is still high risk. These donors don’t always have the full medical work-up of a clinical donor. Tests for sexually transmitted diseases can be arranged, but genetic screening and psychological evaluations are difficult to organise.Certain sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, may not be detected initially if tested at the wrong time – with a sperm bank, the sample would be frozen and only released when a second test confirmed no infection. Those using informal donors are often using fresh sperm and don’t have this luxury. The limited choice of properly processed sperm donors has led many women to look to high-risk sources.When choosing these risky options, women and their future children are also opened up to uncertain future relationships and potential legal battles. Not all men offering to donate are sincere and several women who have written about this on online forums have found themselves in uncomfortable situations when they meet their donor to collect the sample. The shame and secrecy associated with the use of unregulated websites adds to the blanket of silence. The population of the UK is 13 times bigger than Denmark (67 million versus five million) and the proportion of immigrants is similar (8% and 10% respectively), but there has been little research done to understand why there are so few Black donors in the UK, compared to Denmark, and what can be done to motivate men to donate their sperm. This lack of research continues to expose women, particularly Black women and their children, to unnecessary risks. Nor can we continue to rely on Denmark for Black donors when it’s unclear how Brexit will affect customs and trade.A homegrown solution is required now, more than ever.This article was commissioned for HuffPost UK by Black Ballad, the lifestyle platform that tells stories of human experience through the eyes of Black British women and elevates their voices. If you would like to read more, become a Black Ballad member to get unlimited access to content, events and discounts, and to connect to its community of like-minded women.Related... Why Black Ballad Is Taking Over HuffPost UK A Shortage of Sperm Donors: The Brexit Dilemma We Didn't See Coming 'Infertility Doesn't Discriminate' So Why Are Women Of Colour Suffering In Silence? Revealed: The Shocking Healthcare Racism Endangering Black Mothers
It seems like life really is back to normal here in South London. The pubs are full and the traffic is back to pre-lockdown levels – the two miles on the bus to work is back to its usual 40 minutes.The local Italian restaurant I’m working at this summer has made many changes over the course of this pandemic. Our new deli counter, selling produce direct from supplier to customer, allowed the business to stay open while the kitchen was closed. There is also a lot less Italian being spoken – my colleague and I, both hired after lockdown, are the first non-Italians to work in the restaurant. Brexit had already made hiring immigrants complicated, but the pandemic caused many more to return to their families in Italy. The restaurant has had no lack of customers since reopening last month. Many regulars have begun showing their faces, and our tables are fully booked over a week in advance. In this respect, we have been supported by our community – and it is this swift offloading of cash into our till that the government has hailed a success.More worrying to me, however, is the number of things that have stayed the same.While diners may be desperate to throw their money at bruschetta and parma ham, they are apparently reluctant to invest in face masks or any other protective wear. In the last month, I can think of only one person who has worn a mask when walking through the restaurant to the bathroom. It feels like customers are far more concerned with rebuilding their social lives than with observing safe social distancing.It feels like customers are far more concerned with rebuilding their social lives than with observing safe social distancing, but we staff members can do little to encourage different behaviour; we need their custom, and we need to get paid. Furthermore, our restaurant is in a narrow, old building where 1.5metre spacing is just not possible. It is telling, though, that nobody has complained.On Saturdays and Sundays, the road outside is closed to traffic, which allows us to set up tables outside. The first weekend we tried this, the street attracted festival-like crowds. By early evening, drinkers who could not get into the bars were sprawled out on the pavements, all worries of coronavirus swirling, with their vomit, into the drains. Rowdy crowds have been partially controlled by increasing amounts of new fencing. Chain restaurants near us have created elaborate one-way systems and stitched their borders into the street with branded barriers. In the weekly council reports, we have received low marks for not following their ‘excellent’ example; instead, our outdoor set-up has been judged ‘disorganised’. My manager, reading the report, sighed that we do not have the money to buy ropes and posts, let alone fencing. We will just have to live with the inspectors’ disapproval.August saw the introduction of another scheme designed to help restaurants: Eat Out To Help Out. But, like many small restaurants, we are closed on Mondays, and so we cannot make the most of this scheme.For us, the benefit of the scheme was not worth the cost of staffing an extra day.It was also hoped that the scheme, in operation from Monday to Wednesday, would incentivise customers to eat out on days they normally wouldn’t, thus aiding with social distancing. This has not happened. In the first week of the scheme, Thursday to Sunday were still busiest by far, while Tuesday and Wednesday remained relatively quiet.Restaurants can alter table arrangements and wipe down menus every ten minutes, but ultimately, it is individuals’ behaviour that needs to change.Because chain and independent businesses alike can benefit from the scheme, the relative inequality in our industry remains the same. Local restaurants like mine have been affected disproportionately by the pandemic – it is more difficult for small businesses to switch supply chains when the established ones are disrupted, and the processes involved in applying for funds and grants have proved prohibitively bureaucratic. But the Eat Out To Help Out scheme will do nothing to offer us the disproportionate help we need to stay on our feet. In the event of a second lockdown, my manager tells me we wouldn’t survive into 2021 – a reality that hardly seems believable when I look out over a restaurant full, every weekend, to capacity.Small restaurants would rather Rishi Sunak had offered a rent abatement for restaurants, instead of a discount for customers. But that, perhaps, would not have made him so popular with the public. Restaurant work is deemed ‘non-essential’, and we staff, sweltering under facemasks while customers breathe freely, aren’t receiving any kind of hero treatment. And yet, the hordes of customers jostling for a table, the phone ringing constantly for bookings, and the willingness to discard social distancing for a plate of homemade ravioli says otherwise. The truth is that restaurants can alter table arrangements and wipe down menus every ten minutes, but ultimately, it is individuals’ behaviour that needs to change. So, life is back to normal – for customers at least. The uncomfortable future of plastic pods and having your food delivered on a robotic trolley has not yet arrived, and all that you have to do to prove yourself a patriot during this difficult time is eat, eat and drink.Faye Saulsbury is a student and freelance writerHave a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on [email protected] from HuffPost UK Personal I’m An A-Level Teacher Forced To Grade My Pupils. I’m Dreading Results Day I Can’t Believe I’m Saying This, But I Missed My Commute Can't My Socially-Distanced Gym Stay Like This Forever?
Jamie Lee Curtis’ quest to obtain toilet paper became “an obsession” at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the movie star told The Late Late Show host James Corden on Tuesday.The actor, who has appeared in preparedness commercials for the American Red Cross, explained that usually, “you come to me in an emergency.”But the postponement of a filming project in Canada left the actor unprepared.Her house in California, which she had intended to leave for three months, was running low on bathroom tissue.“I’m a really calm person and I’m really good in an emergency, but that undid me,” she said. “I just, somehow, I had not prepared for that.”Discover the extent of Jamie’s loo roll woes in the full interview here:READ MORE: How You Can Actually Get Hold Of Toilet Roll Amid Coronavirus Want To Know Why People Stockpile Toilet Paper? I'm A Hoarder And I Have A Few Ideas A Ranked List Of All Our Lockdown Activities – From Best To Worst
Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.Teachers say it will be “heartbreaking” to watch their personal assessments of students overruled by a “biased” computer algorithm that has been found to disproportionately penalise students from poorer backgrounds.The cancellation of exams due to the coronavirus pandemic has meant this year’s A-levels and GCSEs will be determined by standardisation modelling that relies on grades submitted by teachers and moderates them using a pupil’s past exam results – as well as the school’s past exam performance.Schools minister Nick Gibb admitted on Wednesday nearly 40% of A-level grade recommendations by teachers are expected to be downgraded.His comments came after the news that pupils in England would be allowed to use results in mock A-level exams as the basis for an appeal against their grades, after the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) downgraded 124,000 results in what many described as a “disaster” of a week.The government’s latest U-turn “blows my mind”, said A-level law teacher Naomi. “It clearly shows the lack of understanding [education secretary] Gavin Williamson has for A-levels and how they work.”Grading a pupil based on their mock exams “is like asking someone to take their driving test after only half the lessons”. “It’s clearly a knee jerk reaction to what we have seen in Scotland,” she told HuffPost UK.Students are at the heart of our profession. Trust us.As a teacher who works at a school in a particularly deprived area in the East Riding of Yorkshire, Naomi’s grades are statistically more likely to be marked down. “It’s upsetting and demoralising, but also does inevitably make you feel angry and incensed – not for myself but for our young people who deserved so much more.”She also worries how this will impact her pupils and their families. “Some students are going to feel utterly let down by the system and I don’t blame them. The impact of this on our young people’s mental health is going to be witnessed for years to come.“If students from poorer backgrounds are penalised in the same way we have seen in Scotland then what we are essentially saying to our young people is: you cannot live in a deprived area and perform well in your academics.”Naomi insists her school was “extremely responsible and fair” with allocating A-level grades to their pupils. “We want the students to do well, but teachers know what their students are capable of.“The fact of the matter is that, as teachers, we care. We go into work early, leave work late, arrange and go on trips, mark work at home late into the night and spend weekends planning lessons. It’s because teachers care that we were honest and responsible in our grading process.”Vix Lowthion, who teaches A-level history, classics and geology, agrees teachers “are professionals who are experienced at accurately predicting grades”. “I take fairness very seriously,” she told HuffPost UK.“I sat down with colleagues and we looked at every student in turn and all their marks throughout the two years, mock results, coursework and how they were performing in the final weeks before lockdown. We did not predict a bunch of A* and A grades, but a fair reflection of how the class were working.“To see these grades overruled and dismissed, hundreds of miles from our communities and without seeing any written work that these students were capable off, is heartbreaking.”The impact of this on our young people’s mental health is going to be witnessed for years to come.Lowthian teaches at a school on the Isle of Wight – an area once described as a “ghetto” by a former chair of Ofsted – and also believes her grades will be marked down. “I will be gutted for my students if they are downgraded by computer modelling. They are talented and confident and have worked really hard.“They have had all the opportunities taken away from them. The least we can give this bunch of students are fair results based on their hard work and effort.”She fears targeting poorer schools will “perpetuate the spiral in terms of funding and quality of teaching” after a decade of “huge” funding cuts to sixth form education.“Students in deprived areas already have extra obstacles to learning in terms of prior attainment, resources, practical support from home and expectations in school.“To downgrade results from these schools sends precisely the wrong message to local communities.”Other A-level teachers across the UK have told HuffPost UK they feel “undervalued”, “disheartened” and “anxious”. Many felt their profession had been “scapegoated” by politicians and the press since the start of lockdown, and said the government’s recent flip-flopping was “mind-boggling” and “laughable”.“It sends a clear message that the government does not trust its teachers,” one said. “Students are at the heart of our profession. We want them to succeed and do well.“We care about them and their future. Trust us.”Related... 100,000 A-Level Results Could Be Downgraded. Students Like These Are Most At Risk I’m An A-Level Teacher Forced To Grade My Pupils. I’m Dreading Results Day
In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, Greece emerged as a surprising success story. The government’s swift actions to close down the country in February and March helped it avoid the high death tolls that other nations experienced and positioned it well to reopen. The country began lifting lockdown restrictions in early May and started welcoming international travellers again in mid-June, enticing tourists with the promise of a largely coronavirus-free getaway.Since then, however, the number of coronavirus cases in Greece has risen alarmingly, and scientists say the country is now officially experiencing a second wave. On Sunday, Greece recorded 203 new infections, the highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic.Much of the blame has fallen on partygoers packing into beach bars and nightclubs. The government on Monday imposed a late-night curfew on bars and restaurants in popular nightlife destinations, including the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, and Corfu.“Unfortunately, the transmission of the virus is increasing dangerously,” said Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias. “I call once again on the young and those citizens who do not follow the basic measures of personal protection — masks, hygiene rules, safety distances — to consider their responsibilities towards vulnerable groups, the rest of our fellow citizens and the country.”Young people have become a convenient scapegoat for rising infections in many parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, the city of Preston was placed on local lockdown last week after a significant rise in cases among people under age 30, which health officials linked to people mixing in pubs and homes.In response, government officials are telling young people, “Don’t Kill Granny,” to try to reinforce the idea that, even if they don’t have symptoms, they could spread the virus to more vulnerable populations.“Young people are inevitably among the brave and the bold. They want to be adventurous and out and about,” Adrian Phillips, chief executive of the Preston City Council, told the BBC. “But we know that they have the virus, are more likely to at the moment. They often have less symptoms, but they do take it back to their household. And the community spread we are seeing, we believe in many cases, are young people taking it home and catching the virus.” The story has been similar in other countries as lockdown restrictions have eased. In early May, South Korea scrambled to contain a coronavirus outbreak linked to several nightclubs in Seoul. In Spain, parties and nightclubs have become new coronavirus hotspots. German health officials have warned that people have become careless about social distancing. And in parts of the United States, as well, officials have pointed to parties as a major reason for rising infection rates.“We’re finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren’t wearing masks, are our primary source of infection,” Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington state, told NPR.None of this should come as a huge shock. The coronavirus spreads easily when people spend time in close contact with each other, particularly indoors. “Nighttime venues tend to be poorly ventilated, and the volume of the music means you have to speak loudly, which has been documented as a risk factor,” Joan Ramón Villalbí, the spokesperson for the Spanish Public Health Association, told El País. Individuals may be faulted for flouting official guidelines on social distancing or mask-wearing, or for attending illegal parties and raves. But many countries have also encouraged patrons to return to bars, restaurants and other establishments in the name of reviving the hospitality industry. In such situations — particularly after months spent in lockdown — appeals to moderation can fall on deaf ears.When pubs reopened in the United Kingdom last month, popular nightlife areas were quickly packed with merrymakers, and John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said it was “crystal clear” that drunk people are unable to properly socially distance.The risk that lifting travel restrictions and reopening businesses could trigger an increase in infections has been known since the beginning — in Greece as well.“We all knew, both we and our scientists and experts, that with the opening of our borders we would have a partial increase in cases,” Vassilis Kikilias, the health minister, said last month. But “the economy and tourism must survive.”Young people going to parties and bars are hardly the only cause of the coronavirus outbreaks. There are many other situations in which people also spend time in close proximity to each other. Around the world, outbreaks have been linked to senior care homes, meat processing plants, warehouses and distribution centres, public housing and other high-density living arrangements.In the United Kingdom, the city of Leicester was the first to be placed on local lockdown at the end of June following a surge of coronavirus cases. While public health officials have not identified a specific cause of the outbreak, officials have raised concerns about the city’s garment factories and food processing plants, where workers have complained of poor conditions for years.In July, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “very worried about the employment practices in some factories.”The situation is similar in Germany and other countries, including the United States, where labourers ― often immigrants or people of colour ― tend to work in dangerous conditions and live together in crowded dormitories or multi-generational housing.Government failures also play a part in the coronavirus resurgence. In Australia, the hotel quarantine system implemented in the state of Victoria is likely responsible, at least in large part, for the spike in cases there. Other parts of the country relied on the police and military to enforce the quarantine of returning travellers. Victoria, however, contracted private security firms. These companies reportedly didn’t have adequate training or personal protective equipment, and guards would reportedly do things like carpool to work together and interact frequently with the quarantined guests.A government inquiry into what went wrong with Victoria’s hotel quarantine system is scheduled to begin next week.New Zealand is also rushing to identify the cause of a new outbreak after four people in one Auckland household tested positive for the virus, the first reported cases of local transmission in the country in 102 days. The reemergence of the virus caused the government to place Auckland, the nation’s largest city, on lockdown, to allow health officials to investigate the source of the outbreak and attempt to limit its spread.France, too, tightened restrictions on social gatherings and encouraged more widespread use of face masks this week, after the daily tally of new coronavirus cases increased by 785.Finally, data shows that poor and minority communities in many countries are most at risk from coronavirus — a consequence of systemic racism and economic inequality. In June, an official report from Public Health England found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic, or BAME, people are more likely to die of coronavirus than their white counterparts.But critics say government officials have been slow to acknowledge the challenges and provide the support these communities need. In the UK and Australia, for example, government officials have been criticised for failing to communicate health and safety guidelines to people for whom English is not their native language.“I don’t think anyone was expecting a clear scientific explanation instantly as to why there were such high numbers of BAME deaths to coronavirus,” Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the council at the British Medical Association, told HuffPost UK in June. “But what we were expecting was some practical action to protect those that we know to be at risk.”“I don’t think the older generation, like my mum’s around 60 but her parents’ generation, would have any access to the internet,” Huong Truong, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, told HuffPost Australia. “It’s word of mouth and family connections, and younger people like myself letting them know what’s going on or clarifying misinformation that’s been around.”It’s not wrong for government officials to remind the public of the need to remain vigilant and act responsibly. In the absence of a vaccine, following official guidance about hand washing, social distancing, the use of face masks, and other safety measures will play a large role in helping to keep infections at bay.But that guidance has often been poorly communicated to the public, and the failure of some government figures to follow the rules themselves has undermined official measures to contain the coronavirus. In the United Kingdom, for example, researchers identified a “Dominic Cummings effect,” in which the decision of Boris Johnson’s top adviser to travel outside London with his family, in apparent violation of the country’s lockdown restrictions, damaged the public’s trust in the government and may have reduced compliance with lockdown measures. In the end, drunken partygoers shouldn’t shoulder all the blame for the surge in coronavirus cases. Much of that blame still rests with government officials themselves.With reporting from HuffPost U.K, HuffPost France, and HuffPost Australia. Related... Test And Trace Not 'Fit For Purpose, Let Alone World Class', Warns NHS Providers Chief UK Enters Deepest Recession Since Records Began These Incredible Dogs Are Being Trained To Sniff Out Covid-19
Selling Sunset star Christine Quinn has insisted she has no issues with being perceived as the show’s “villain”, despite having received death threats from disgruntled viewers in the past.Christine has been a part of the Selling Sunset cast since its debut, having worked with the Oppenheim Group even before cameras started rolling on the Netflix reality show, and has been at the centre of plenty of drama across the last three series.But even if her antics have led some fans to think of her as Selling Sunset’s “villain”, Christine has said this is not a label she has an issue with.“I guess I am the quote-unquote ‘show villain’,” she told People magazine. “But I love it. I think it’s funny and I think people enjoy it at the end of the day, people that love me really love me. When I’m on camera, I have fun with it.”She continued: “I understand that I’m being showcased in 100-plus countries across the world, and I have a background in comedy. I love to make people laugh, and my whole goal in life has just been to entertain people and make them feel something.“Whether it’s perceived well, I don’t know, but I’m really just being myself. I do have a heart of gold underneath that, and I think sometimes with television, it’s really hard to see all the elements of a human being on a television show.”However, in the same interview, she did admit that seeing herself on screen for the first time did initially make her alter her behaviour on set.Christine recalled: “We definitely were a little more reserved going into season two. I was scared. I was a little scared.“The first few episodes of season two, the editors were like, ‘Where’s the other Christine? Where’s Christine?’, I’m like, ‘Well, that Christine gets death threats’.”“People are so invested in the show, and they see what they see and just think I’m this crazy person,” she added, when pressed on the death threats she’d received. “It’s just unfortunate. People are weird.”Christine is at the centre of one of series three’s biggest storylines, which saw her finally marrying Christian Richard, although she recently admitted she was less than impressed with her how big day was portrayed on screen.“I was a little disappointed. It just didn’t really showcase the way that it was,” she claimed.“The wedding was the best day of my life and it was hard for me to watch it on the television show because that’s not really the way that I remember it.”Christine continued: “I understand they wanted to get certain storylines in there, but this was actually my day. This was my day, and I was just disappointed in the way it was perceived on camera and translated, unfortunately.“I’m not going to lie, I was crying when I watched it. I was like ‘This is not my wedding, this is not my wedding’.”MORE SELLING SUNSET: Selling Sunset Isn't Just Serious Property Porn – Its Drama Makes The Real Housewives Look Tame Who Was A Playboy Playmate And 15 Other Things You Didn't Know About The Stars Of Selling Sunset Christine Quinn 'Disappointed' With How Wedding Is Portrayed On Selling Sunset: 'I Cried When I Watched It'
So it’s official – the UK has entered the deepest recession since records began.If you’re below a certain age, this might be your first experience of such a financial crisis and you’re probably looking for some reassurance and comfort in these turbulent times.If that’s the case, then we recommend stopping reading now and watching this video of Mr Mayhem the paddle boarding goat, because recessions are serious business and are generally a bit crap for everyone.Is there any good news?There are a couple of silver linings so let’s start with them before we hit you with all the woe.Now, despite all the blaring headlines and breaking news alerts, it’s not in the least bit surprising for the reasons explained succinctly here by a chap on Twitter...People are posting charts of GDP as if it's somehow surprising that the economy dropped off a cliff WHEN ALL THE SHOPS SHUT AND PEOPLE COULDN'T GET TO WORK.— Ian Leslie (@mrianleslie) August 12, 2020A recession is defined as two successive quarters of decline in gross domestic product (GDP), and GDP is essentially all the money that a country makes by people working and spending.It will not have escaped your notice that during the lockdown, particularly the first part, working and spending were made incredibly difficult by the fact barely anyone was allowed out of the house. So we knew it was coming but that won’t make it any less painful. As chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I’ve said before that hard times were ahead, and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here.”You call that good news?OK, how about this – have a look at this chart...Our latest GDP estimates for June show that the UK economy is now 17.2% smaller than it was in February before the full impacts of the #coronavirus#COVID19 pandemic hit https://t.co/8FmcVvX6lzpic.twitter.com/Qgh12prPtt— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) August 12, 2020Obviously everyone is freaking out over the bit where it falls off a cliff but if you look just after that you’ll see it actually shot back up again a little bit.What that shows is the economy bounced back by 8.7% in June as lockdown restrictions eased.So today’s the day. We are now in full knowledge of the low in the economy. Not as bad as first feared. Today isn’t about being in a #recession (we knew that already) it’s that the economy bounced back 8% in June. Which is highly promising. A recovery is underway.— Rob Nunn (@robfnunn) August 12, 2020Will it keep on going up?Sorry, but it’s unlikely. The big jump is largely due to the difference in total lockdown versus the beginning of phased reopening. Any further lifting of restrictions is unlikely to open up as much of the economy as the initial opening of shops, bars and restaurants. But another point of hope is that we’ve survived recessions before, the last being during the financial of 2008.Thing is, this one is way worse as these ominous red bars clearly show.Jeez. Yeah, that’s a lot of red.So how long will it take before we’re back to normal?No one can really say for sure but experts have warned that Britain faces a “long road ahead” to recovery.Business groups and economists also cautioned the path of the recovery may not be smooth, given the threat of a second wave and possible further lockdowns, with a jobs crisis also on the horizon as government support measures come to an end.Melissa Davies, chief economist at research firm Redburn, said: “There is a long road ahead for the UK economy to claw back its pandemic losses, all the while facing deflationary headwinds from large amounts of spare capacity and job losses.“As the furlough scheme rolls off, more stimulus will be needed to support household incomes, not least if infection numbers rise in the autumn.”Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics blamed the government’s slow response to Covid-19 for the depth of the UK’s second-quarter contraction.He told PA Media: “The long duration of the lockdown in the second quarter, due to the Government’s slow response to Covid-19 in March, followed by its failure to prevent the virus from spreading from hospitals, was at the root of the economy’s under-performance in the second quarter.”He warned the rebound will “peter out in the autumn” with further lockdowns likely.He said: “The planned reopening of schools next month… probably will have to be accompanied by a renewed curtailment of economic activity in the services sector.“Accordingly, we continue to expect GDP to be about 5% below its pre-Covid peak at the end of this year.”What does this all mean for me?It’s all a bit bleak to be honest. Recessions ultimately have an impact on living standards, but the full effect will largely depend on the scale of unemployment and how long it takes for businesses and the jobs market to recover.Britain’s unemployment rate is expected to jump when the government ends its huge job subsidy programme in October.So if you have a job there’s an increased chance you could be laid off and if you’re looking for a job then there are fewer to go round and more people going after them.Last week the Bank of England forecast it would take until the final quarter of 2021 for the economy to regain its previous size, and warned unemployment was likely to rise sharply.Employers have already shed more than 700,000 jobs since March, according to tax data.OK I’ll bite, how bad can it get?Again that’s hard to say but what we really want to avoid is a depression, which is basically a recession but over a period of years and on a global scale.The most notable was the aptly titled Great Depression which lasted from from 1929-1939. The US was particularly hard hit and unemployment reached 25%.It took the Second World War and the huge increase in arms production to pull the US out of the depression which obviously also came with its own downsides.Can we end on a positive note?Did we already mention Mr Mayhem?Related... UK Enters Deepest Recession Since Records Began Opinion: Our Post-Pandemic Future Depends On Putting Young People First In Any Recovery Plan
Over one hundred Black British professionals have penned an open letter calling for a 24-hour boycott of the BBC over its use of the N-word. The InfluencHers, a group of professional British women of African and Caribbean origin, stated that the corporation had much more work to do in making amends after using the racial slur in a news bulletin and a history programme from last year. The collective is calling for the public here and abroad to join them on Wednesday August 19 for BBC Black Out Wednesday, starting at 9am BST for 24 hours.“We are asking all allies to join the boycott. We are asking everyone in the UK and around the world to not access any BBC content i.e. TV, radio, online and social media platforms,” the letter reads. The group also wants to see the removal of David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards, and Fran Unsworth, director of news, “for repeatedly bringing the BBC into disrepute and causing trauma, alarm, distress and humiliation to the public, and violating the dignity of Black staff by creating an offensive, degrading and humiliating working environment”. They also urge the BBC to consult an independent organisation with a proven track record on race matters on all issues regarding race at the corporation.On Sunday, the BBC apologised after using the N-word in a report about a racist attack in Bristol. It came after the broadcaster received almost 19,000 complaints about the incident, as well as numerous complaints from staff and the resignation of BBC 1Xtra’s broadcaster Sideman aka David Whitely.The letter states: “Dear BBC, on reflection, the eventual apology made by the outgoing BBC director-general Tony Hall on 9th August 2020, is just the beginning and not the end of this N-word controversy. Sadly, it does not go far enough.“It only addresses the use of the word, not the subsequent defence of its use. This is unacceptable when you consider the damage that it has caused.”As a BBC News reporter I’ve had friends & followers ask me whether I think it’s ok that a white person said the N word on air. For the sake of not having to answer that question again - pls read here: pic.twitter.com/mUjT3Es0qo— Ashley John-Baptiste (@AshleyJBaptiste) August 8, 2020An InfluencHers spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “There can be no justification for using a serious racial slur to prop up a story when it added nothing of value or clarity to the story. What it did instead was to cause trauma to many people who feel that societal prejudice and racism is so ingrained and normalised that an important corporation thought this was valid behaviour.“Moreover, the fact that it took the BBC so long to make a statement and accept that it used language which was racially insulting, compounds this trauma because it reinforces the notion expressed amongst many Black people that it seems as though it is open season for racism against them with there being little fear of consequences.”“The BBC needs now to go further. Whilst reviewing its policy, someone needs to be made accountable, possibly by resigning, and the corporation needs to fully cooperate with any organisations requiring it to do so, including the police, EHRC and community based race monitoring groups. This must never happen again.”The InfluencHers are also calling for Whitely to be compensated if he feels unable to return to his job, after he described the BBC’s decision to use the N-word, and then to defend its use, as a “slap in the face”.TV historian Lucy Worsley also said the racial slur while reciting a quote from John Wilkes Booth, the man who killed Abraham Lincoln, in a 2019 documentary repeated three days after the first incident.Sideman quits BBC 1Xtra over use of racial slur in BBC News reporthttps://t.co/U0lgwylG0upic.twitter.com/1es8ASf6vT— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) August 8, 2020The BBC had previously accepted that using the racial slur had caused offence, but had not apologised for it, saying the use of the N-word was “editorially justified given the context”. But in a statement, the BBC’s director-general Lord Tony Hall said: “Every organisation should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here.”In a email to all BBC staff, Hall wrote: “It should be clear that the BBC’s intention was to highlight an alleged racist attack. This is important journalism which the BBC should be reporting on and we will continue to do so.“Yet despite these good intentions, I recognise that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people.“The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that. We will now be strengthening our guidance on offensive language across our output.” The BBC’s use of the N-word could constitute a race hate crime, the InfluencHers argue.“This warrants an investigation. We know that over the last two weeks this event has resulted in people suffering from trauma, due to the prolonged legitimising by the BBC of the use of this extremely wounding and offensive word,” the open letter states. Related... BBC Apologises Over Use Of The N-Word In News Report BBC Responds To Complaints About Use Of N-Word In Report About Racist Attack - But Fails To Apologise Radio 1Xtra Presenter Sideman Quits Over BBC's Use Of N-Word
There are early reports of “serious injuries” after a train derailed near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire in what is being classed as a “major incident”, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.Pictures posted from the scene showed at least six ambulance vehicles, an air ambulance and a number of police response cars at the scene.Smoke could be seen billowing in the background.Latest update from the scene. @[email protected]@BBCNewspic.twitter.com/Kmtiq9u1a2— Ben Philip (@BenPhilip_) August 12, 2020Rail industry sources told the PA news agency that the suspected cause of the incident was a landslip. Heavy rain and flooding also affected the area on Wednesday morning.The train involved was the 6.38am Aberdeen to Stonehaven, made up of an engine and four carriages. It is reported that the engine and three carriages derailed, and slid down an embankment.West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie said the local hospital had declared a major incident.He told the PA news agency: “It’s obviously a terrible situation, a train derailment, the emergency services are on the scene.“I’ve already spoken to Grant Shapps, who has spoken to Network Rail and the British Transport Police who are obviously investigating and assisting. I am aware that Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has declared a major incident.”Speaking before First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said that although “details are still emerging”, there are “early reports of serious injuries”.“My immediate thoughts and the thoughts of those across the chamber are with all those involved.”The Scottish government’s resilience room is also now operational, and the first minister said she will convene a meeting this afternoon.This is an extremely serious incident. I’ve had an initial report from Network Rail and the emergency services and am being kept updated. All my thoughts are with those involved. https://t.co/veKAgMwZ36— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 12, 2020Prime minister Boris Johnson said he was “saddened” to hear about the “serious incident,” tweeting that his thoughts were with everyone affected. ScotRail posted a message on Twitter shortly after 6.30am warning that services across Scotland would be disrupted due to “extremely heavy rain flooding”.A video shared on Facebook at 7.30am shows heavy flooding in Stonehaven.Bowie had been in Stonehaven surveying the flood damage earlier on Wednesday, describing the situation as “really bad”.He said: “The main river which flows through it, had burst its banks and the heavy rain had caused flooding in the centre of Stonehaven and lots of the side streets leading off it.“Luckily, the water receded incredibly quickly and the river has peaked and is going down. Obviously none of us expected there to be such a serious incident as a rail derailment at the same time, but it just goes to show how damaging the bad weather can be.”He added: “I don’t think speculation is helpful at this stage. We obviously don’t know why the derailment took place, but obviously we have suffered terrible weather here.”This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.Pupils awaiting their A-level results in England say they are “angry” and “demoralised” amid fears their expected grades will be lowered by a computer on Thursday.Those who attended school in deprived areas with historically lower-achieving exam performances say they are particularly worried they will be unfairly penalised by the algorithm used by regulator Ofqual.The government is facing pressure to ensure exam results in England “will not exacerbate existing inequalities” by “biased” statistical modelling after students from poorer backgrounds in Scotland were hit hardest by downgrading last week.Results for Higher awards north of the border were branded a “disaster” when the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) downgraded 124,000 results. On Tuesday the SNP-led Holyrood government announced all grades that had initially been lowered by the algorithm would be binned and replaced by the original assessments carried out by teachers. Later that day ministers announced some pupils in England would be allowed to use results in mock A-level exams as the basis for an appeal against the grades they were given, so long as the mocks were held under exam conditions and could be “validated” by the schools.Students will still be able to sit exams in the autumn if they are unhappy with the grades they secured in mock exams, or if they are dissatisfied with results awarded by exam boards on Thursday.But the appeals process – where individual students in England are dependent on schools and colleges to appeal against results on their behalf – is expected to remain the same.Labour has warned that Boris Johnson risks “robbing a generation of young people of their future” over the relentless policy changes, U-turns and backpedalling over the last few weeks.Rhianna, 17, is waiting to hear if she will meet her predicted AAAs in order to meet a conditional offer to study politics at the London School of Economics. She said she had initially been feeling “quite confident” when she first heard her grades would be based on predictions. “I knew and trusted that my teachers would be honest,” she tells HuffPost UK.But following the cancellation of exams due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s A-level and GCSE grades will be determined based on an algorithm that relies on grades submitted by teachers and a pupil’s past exam results – as well as the school’s past exam performance.It would be a slap to the face if they didn’t get the results their teachers told them they deserved.Jennifer, 18, BelfastThe new model has left Rhianna “disheartened” and made her “really lose confidence in the process”. That her sixth form college in Bristol is “really large and doesn’t perform very well in league tables” has left her “extremely worried”.If she receives her grade predictions, Rhianna would be the first in her family to go to university; if she doesn’t, she may not be able to afford her rent while she studies for resits in autumn.“University has always been a really significant step for me, so to lose that due to a statistical model would be really disappointing,” she said. “It would be really devastating for a lot of poorer students who would have really succeeded during normal examinations.”The news that her grades will potentially be downgraded has made her “really lose belief” she can start uni in September and she says she has been “hesitant” to make any plans or preparations.“It angers me how casual the Ofqual are approaching these results, especially since they justify the injustice of the system with the offer of autumn examinations.” she continues. “Not everyone has the luxury of a gap year or will even be able to afford the re-sits.”She hopes the U-turn over school leavers’ grades in Scotland will mean the exam board in England will consider reforming the grading system.“The policy reversal around exam results in Scotland has demonstrated that the system doesn’t work and unfairly impacts disadvantaged students. If Scotland has admitted the failures within their similar grading system, then so should Ofqual.”Nearly 40% of A-level grade recommendations by teachers are expected to be downgraded, schools minister Nick Gibb told the Today Programme on Radio 4 on Wednesday morning.With around 250,000 pupils due to receive their results on Thursday, 100,000 could be at risk of shattered dreams and wrecked plans. Catalin, from Richmond upon Thames, describes his life as being “on hold” while he waits to hear if he will meet the AAB grades he needs to get into Royal Holloway, University of London.Historically only 2% of students at his college achieve AAB or higher, and Catalin believes it is “likely” at least one of his grades will be downgraded. “I certainly think both me and my classmates will be affected no matter what our performance could have been,” he said.By penalising students from poor-performing schools, this year’s results will leave “entire cohorts demoralised”. “The [other years] will see that despite the Year 13s and 11s putting in effort, they will still just get assigned the results of the previous year, shattering the myth of a meritocracy.”He added: “The same students who are at a disadvantage because of the school they go to – and by extension their background – are also the ones that don’t have the option of sitting the exams in September and taking a gap year somewhere in a tropical country.“They also don’t have parents with the know-how to chase after their sixth form and appeal their grades – not that appealing would do much good, either.”If he does not meet his grade predictions, he will try to find another place through clearing. “Taking a gap year isn’t an option for me as job opportunities are scarce right now and, like many people, I can’t afford to just go live abroad for a year.“My plans for August have pretty much all been shelved and my life is on hold [because of] the anxiety from waiting and the fact that I have no clue what university I will end up going to.”The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) has predicted a record number of students will use clearing to find places at UK universities, with so many students predicted to receive downgraded results.Afrina, who is predicted AAB, tells HuffPost UK she is worried because her school in Leyton, east London, “doesn’t have the best historical data and is in a disadvantaged area”.“Students in deprived areas of London are automatically deprived due to how the grades will be assessed,” she says. “Me and my classmates will definitely be affected due to the location of our college. I don’t think it’s fair.”She was also recently diagnosed with dyslexia, which would have normally given her extra time to take her A-level exams. But because results now depend on her past performance, she worries she will be given lower grades than the ones she deserves.“My grades went up by two grades for one of the subjects whereby I was given extra time in February,” she adds. “I’m feeling really apprehensive about my results as I’m not too sure what to expect.”A study by University College London has found predicting A-level grades is a “near-impossible” task, with researchers only able to accurately predict one in four pupils’ best three subjects. Comprehensive students were also found to be twice as likely to be under-predicted by modelling than grammar or private schools.That students from poor-performing schools are the most likely to be downgraded is, in one pupil’s opinion, “one of the most unfair things about the whole situation”.“It’s not fair to assume that just because someone attends a ‘bad’ school they would probably perform poorly,” Catherine, 18, says. “Cases should be looked at on an individual basis rather than judging a student’s capability by their socio-economic background.”Even then, she points out “predictions aren’t an accurate representation of how students would actually perform”.“A lot of the time, students out-perform their predicted grades, as they tend to really knuckle-down and study during exam season. This means they end up performing significantly better than expected.”The discriminatory nature of basing results on a school’s past performance has even angered pupils who will less likely be affected. As a student at a high-achieving comprehensive in Belfast with an unconditional university offer, Jennifer, 18, admits she is “lucky to be where I am right now”.She says she trusts her teachers to give the most accurate predictions of her results. “I felt that as long as the teachers had a say based on their interactions and knowledge of them as students, then I felt that the results would be as fair as it would get.“That’s why the input of the teacher felt like such an important factor to making these results fair and accurate. They know how their students act and behave, what they achieved in mock exams and their coursework, understand their work ethic, and have been through good and bad moments with them.“It does worry me that people in less advantageous situations will be negatively impacted by this.“It would almost be a slap to the face if they didn’t get the results they were expecting – the results that their teachers told them they deserved.”Related... I’m An A-Level Teacher Forced To Grade My Pupils. I’m Dreading Results Day UK Urged To Scrap Moderated A-Level Grades After Scottish U-Turn No Cash, No Wi-Fi, No Help: One Mum's Story Reveals Sheer Inequality Of Home-Schooling
Spotting an image of Jesus on a piece of toast (and then trying to sell it on eBay) is soooo 2017.This year it’s all about spying a certain music and television mogul’s face in a stone wall.Well, according to Amanda Holden it is, and to be fair, she does have a point.Mandy was probably hoping to get away from her boss Simon Cowell on her family holiday, but then she saw a vision of her Britain’s Got Talent co-star during an al fresco dinner with her husband and two daughters.Taking to her Instagram Story, Amanda shared a snap of a rock wall – which could be seen between two barrels.“Is anyone else seeing @simoncowell here?” she asked her 1.5 million followers.Yep, definitely Mr. Cowell, if a little stony-faced.Amanda’s post comes just days after she sent Simon well wishes following his bike accident in Los Angeles.On Saturday, the music mogul broke his back after falling from an electric bike he’d been riding in the courtyard of his Malibu home.Posting a selfie of them on the BGT panel, Amanda wrote: “I’ve been thinking about my dear friend all day and luckily I’m able to say (with blessing) that he’s had his operation and he’s doing really well.“Chris Lexi Hollie and me wish you a speedy recovery and send you, Lauren and Eric all our love.” View this post on InstagramA post shared by Amanda Holden (@noholdenback) on Aug 9, 2020 at 12:56pm PDTSimon has since given fans an update after undergoing nine hours of surgery.“Some good advice,” he wrote. “If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time.” He continued: “I have broken part of my back. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages.“And a massive thank you to all the nurses and doctors. Some of the nicest people I have ever met. Stay safe everyone.”Simon’s rep previously told Metro: “Simon has broken his back in a number of places in a fall from his bike whilst testing a new electric bike in the courtyard of his home in Malibu with his family.“He was taken to hospital where they operated overnight [Saturday] he’s under observation and is doing fine.”READ MORE: 34 Times Amanda Holden Was Nothing Less Than Fabulous Amanda Holden Rinses Piers Morgan As They Meet Up During French Getaways Captain Tom Gets Cheeky With Amanda Holden After Claiming He Preferred Susanna Reid
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has topped the list of the world’s most highly-paid actors for the second year in a row.According to Forbes, The Rock – who first rose to prominence as a WWE wrestler, before making the change to acting – pulled in $87.5m (£67m) for his work between June 2019 and June 2020.This figure puts him at the top of the list of the business magazine’s annual list of high-earning male actors for the second time, pulling in $89.4 million (£68.6 million) the previous year.Forbes has claimed that the majority of his $87.5 million sum came from a hefty pay-out from Netflix to star in the upcoming film Red Notice, on which The Rock will also serve as a producer. They also claim his Under Armour range Project Rock will have contributed heavily to his annual earnings.In second place on Forbes’ list is Ryan Reynolds on $71.5m (£54.5m), with Mark Wahlberg and Ben Affleck behind on $58m (£44.2m) and $55m (£41.9m), respectively.Meanwhile, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is a new addition to the list, in seventh place on $45.5m (£34.7m), having sold the rights to his hit musical to Disney+ for $75 million (£57.5) in the last year. Check out the full list of highest-paid actors and their earnings below:1. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson – $87.5m (£66.8m)2. Ryan Reynolds – $71.5m (£54.5m)3. Mark Wahlberg – $58m (£44.2m)4. Ben Affleck – $55m (£41.9m)5. Vin Diesel – $54m (£41.2m)6. Akshay Kumar – $48.5m (£37m)7. Lin-Manuel Miranda – $45.5m (£34.7m)8. Will Smith – $44.5m (£33.9m)9. Adam Sandler – $31m (£23.8m)10. Jackie Chan – $30m (£23m)Forbes’ list of highest-paid female stars will be published in September.Last year’s was topped by Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson, who earned $56 million (£42.9 million).READ MORE: Dwayne Johnson Tries To Convince His Daughter He's In Moana. Fails. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Pays Heartfelt Tribute To His Late Father, Fellow Wrestler Rocky Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Accuses The Daily Star Of Faking Interview Quotes From Him
Things took a slightly awkward turn for Dua Lipa when she hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday.The British singer made a gaffe during a chat with Gwen Stefani as she guest hosted the American chat show from her home.The 24-year-old mistakenly referred to the No Doubt singer’s boyfriend Blake Shelton as her “husband”, which Gwen quickly corrected her on, and well, Dua’s face said it all…“I heard that you’ve been spending quarantine with your husband Blake Shelton at the ranch in Oklahoma. Who else was with you? How was that?” Dua asked.“Um. Well, he’s not my husband, but that sounded cool when you said it,” Gwen quickly replied.Oh.You can see the moment at the 2:28 mark below:  Gwen was previously married to Bush star Gavin Rossdale before their divorce was finalised in 2016. She has been in a relationship with country singer Blake since 2015, but despite rumours that they tied the knot in secret, the pair have yet to walk down the aisle.Blake addressed the marriage rumours during an interview with ET last year, saying: “Anybody that thinks that I’m married to Gwen already, I love it. My God. Who wouldn’t want to be married to Gwen Stefani?” Meanwhile, we think Gwen will forgive Dua for her little faux pas. The pair have teamed up for a new version of Dua’s huge hit Physical, which will feature on her remix album due later this month.READ MORE: Dua Lipa Gives Fan's Mash-Up Of Her Song And BBC News Theme The Seal Of Approval Sorry, But We Need To Talk About The Brilliance Of Dua Lipa's MTV EMAs Performance Wendy Williams Attempting To Say Dua Lipa's Name Is Our New Favourite Thing
Donald Trump on Tuesday insisted he was surprised that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden chose senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate, in part because she was “very nasty” to Biden as they vied in their party’s primary race.“I was more surprised than anyone else because she did so poorly in the primaries,” Trump said at a White House press briefing shortly after the Biden campaign revealed Harris’ selection.“Plus, she was very, very nasty … She was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden,” the president added, resurrecting his insulting nickname for senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another of this cycle’s Democratic White House candidates.He also said Harris “was very disrespectful” to Biden, adding, “It’s hard to pick somebody that’s that disrespectful.”Despite Trump’s expression of surprise, political analysts of all stripes ― including those in the president’s camp ― for months had pegged Harris as the odds-on favourite to emerge as Biden’s running mate.Trump also accused Harris of being “extraordinarily nasty” to Brett Kavanaugh during the 2018 Senate Judiciary hearings on his nomination to the Supreme Court. Harris and other committee Democrats hammered Kavanaugh over accusations that he sexually assaulted an acquaintance, Christine Ford, when they were in high school. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations, and the issue became a cause celebre among some Republican lawmakers.“I’ve been watching her for a long time. She was extraordinarily nasty to [Kavanaugh],” Trump said of Harris. “She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing ... the way she treated now-Justice Kavanaugh. I won’t forget that soon.”Trump often uses the word “nasty” to describe women with whom he disagrees and as a way to demean them. He has used the same insult to attack his 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, house speaker Nancy Pelosi, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, and the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz.In May 2019, Trump described Harris as “nasty” when asked about how she questioned attorney general William Barr during a Judiciary Committee hearing.On Tuesday, Trump also tweeted a short video by his campaign attacking the newly minted Democratic ticket. In line with Trump’s tradition of using derisive ― some have said nasty ― nicknames for his opponents, the video refers to “Slow Joe” and “Phony Kamala.”pic.twitter.com/jXoffXyZed— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2020Earlier Tuesday, immediately after Biden announced his running mate, Trump’s campaign had released a statement using the “phoney” label for Harris. The campaign highlighted pointed remarks she directed at Biden on racial issues at the first Democratic primary debate in June 2019.Harris stressed that while she was not insinuating that Biden was racist, she expressed concern with his opposition during his early years as a senator in the 1970s to federal initiatives to desegregate public schools by busing students to heavily white school districts. She also criticised him for praising the “civility” of his interactions with segregationist senators when he was a young lawmaker.“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said to Biden. “And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground. But it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.” That moment turned out to be the high point of Harris’ presidential bid. After failing to gain traction in polls, she dropped out of the race in December.Earlier Tuesday, Trump’s campaign incorrectly claimed that Harris called Biden “racist” and accused her of “abandoning her own morals” by becoming Biden’s running mate.The campaign also attempted to use Harris to show that Biden was not a “moderate” Democratic candidate.“She is proof that Joe Biden is an empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left,” senior Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson said in a statement.Harris said she was honoured to run with Biden, saying in a statement posted on Twitter that he “can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us.” When Democrats officially nominate Biden and Harris later this month, she will be the first Black woman and first Asian American to run on a major political party’s presidential ticket.Related... Kamala Harris Chosen As Joe Biden's Vice President In 2020 Election Trump Claims Americans Will ‘Have To Learn To Speak Chinese’ If Biden Wins US Election Trump Schooled By Critics After Claiming '1917' Flu Pandemic 'Probably Ended' WWII
Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.Councils across London have activated emergency procedures to help rough sleepers as the capital swelters through a heatwave during the coronavirus pandemic. The action comes amid warnings from homelessness charities that Covid-19 has made the extremely hot weather even more dangerous than usual to those without shelter. With temperatures soaring as high as 33C in London, a number of local authorities have initiated their Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) – a series of procedures commonly rolled out in the winter amid freezing conditions. But with the mercury soaring amid a six-day-long heatwave, councils said they had offered emergency accommodation to those needing respite from the heat, with some also opening up buildings to allow rough sleepers to escape the sun during the day. Outreach teams have also been offering homeless people water, energy drinks, food and suncream, as well as access to toilet and shower facilities. Among the councils which told HuffPost UK they were offering rough sleepers extra support during the heatwave were Hackney, Ealing, Lewisham, Newham and Westminster. Heather Action, a Westminster City councillor, warned that hot weather “can be just as dangerous as the cold” for people living on the streets.  On social media, councillors from Haringey Council and Islington Council also shared details of the local authorities’ SWEP protocols. In Haringey summer SWEP has been activated all week. we have been providing water, suncream and a shady place to rest at Red House and Green Rooms for people who are still sleeping out. Outreach carry these items on rounds in the mornings and tell people where they can go. https://t.co/gHcU0U2X7s— Emina Ibrahim (@Emina_ibrahim) August 10, 2020Laura Shovlin, from the homelessness charity St Mungo’s, said that outreach services were vital during extremely high temperatures, but even more so during the coronavirus pandemic. “If people are already in poor physical and mental health, then continued exposure to heat, including dehydration, sunburn or heatstroke, can exacerbate problems – even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.  “This is due to an increase in the likelihood of the transfer of fluids as people perspire more or may share water or utensils. NHS findings show transmission has been linked to droplets lingering on surfaces.”  Shovlin added: “People who are sleeping rough are less likely to have access to masks or other protective items which can act as barriers.” Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the government brought thousands of rough sleepers in off the streets to prevent the spread of coronavirus and allow homeless people to be able to self-isolate. In June, ministers announced £85m of new funding to help homeless people find long-term accommodation. But Homeless Link, which represents a number of homeless charities in England, told HuffPost UK that despite many rough sleepers being found somewhere to stay, councils must still activate emergency responses to the heatwave. Caroline Bernard, head of policy and communications, said: “Not everyone has been brought in off the streets, some people have returned to rough sleeping and others are being forced to sleep rough for the first time as a direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a range of other reasons.“This is incredibly dangerous in this heat, and emergency support will be vital in these cases.”It’s a call echoed by Matt Turtle from the Museum of Homelessness, a social justice organisation. “It’s good that some councils are carrying out SWEP activity in the heat, but we want all councils to proactively implement SWEP when there is a danger to life,” he said.“We need a consistency in how and when SWEP is implemented and better communications with those of us working directly with the homeless community.“This has always been important but given the extra risks posed by the pandemic we need to ensure we are all working together to save lives.” Related... At Least 16 Homeless People Have Died After Contracting Covid-19 In England Private Renters Handed Eviction Notices During Lockdown Despite Ban Homeless Migrants Are Now Being Moved Out Of Emergency Accommodation, Says Charity Government Announces £85m To Help Rough Sleepers Through Coronavirus Pandemic
Dwayne Johnson’s attempts to prove to his two-year-old daughter, Tiana, that he was in Disney’s Moana by singing his character Maui’s signature song didn’t exactly go to plan.Over the weekend, the actor shared a video on Instagram, writing: “Could this be the glorious day my sweet baby Tia, finally accepts that her daddy is the demigod, Maui from MOANA?” The star, AKA The Rock, has no problem redirecting a torpedo and holding a helicopter with one arm, but apparently convincing his daughter he’s the voice of Maui is a far more impossible task, as you can see below: View this post on InstagramA post shared by therock (@therock) on Aug 9, 2020 at 11:14am PDT“Aaaaaaaand that’s a very firm, NO,” he added.This is just the latest failed attempt in The Rock’s ongoing mission to get some credit from his daughter.Back in April, he posted another video singing the song with the caption, “And for the 937th time today she wants daddy to sing along with Maui. She has no idea, we’re the same person.” View this post on InstagramA post shared by therock (@therock) on Apr 15, 2020 at 3:22pm PDTEarlier in April, Johnson sang the song as a way to teach her, and everyone else, how to wash their hands while sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic.At least the actor keeps trying...READ MORE: We Thought We Were Over Celeb Hand-Washing Videos Until Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Got Involved Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Pays Heartfelt Tribute To His Late Father, Fellow Wrestler Rocky Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Marries Partner Lauren Hashian In Stunning Hawaiian Ceremony
Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now. Online political adverts in the UK may soon need a “digital imprint” clearly labelling which party or campaign is behind them. Government plans to tighten transparency rules for the digital sphere come amid concern over online campaigning which has been growing since the Brexit referendum. Campaigners say the current system leaves the UK’s electoral system open to “anonymous ‘dark ads’, dodgy donors, and foreign interference” from hostile states such as Russia. Constitution minister Chloe Smith said the move represents a “big step forward” would mean the same level of transparency to online campaigning as to other regulated activity.“People want to engage with politics online. That’s where campaigners connect with voters and is why, ahead of elections, almost half of political advertising budgets are now spent on digital content and activity,” she said.“But people want to know who is talking. Voters value transparency, so we must ensure that there are clear rules to help them see who is behind campaign content online.“The measures we have outlined today are a big step forward towards making UK politics even more transparent and would lead to one of the most comprehensive set of regulations operating in the world today.”Boris Johnson had pledged to tackle the issue as part of the Tories election manifesto amid complaints groups or organisations behind ads were not clearly identified.Under the proposals, online material will be required to carry a digital imprint in the same way that other materials such as leaflets and posters must show who is promoting them.It would also cover content produced by registered political parties, registered third parties, political candidates, elected office holders and registered referendum campaigners – both paid-for and organic.The rules will apply all the year round and not just during election or referendum campaign periods.Ministers said they worked closely with social media platforms, the Electoral Commission, and devolved administrations to develop technical proposals to ensure the rules do not interfere with people’s ability to engage in democratic debate online.They will only apply to unregistered campaigners if they are promoting paid-for content.Officials said the measures would also help curb online intimidation of politicians and others in public life as campaigners will be able to be held accountable for the material they produce.Digital imprints were a specific recommendation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in its review into intimidation.The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) said the changes were long overdue and that it was now essential they were backed with effective enforcement measures.“For too long, our democracy has been wide open to anonymous ‘dark ads’, dodgy donors, and foreign interference online. This won’t solve all that, but it will help to plug one of the many leaks in HMS Democracy,” said ERS chief executive Darren Hughes.“This move will need to be well-enforced, and with strong sanctions for unscrupulous campaigners. Currently, the fines the Electoral Commission can levy are seen as the ‘cost of doing business’.”Related... Can Trump Really Ban TikTok – And Could It Happen In The UK Too? UK Insists It Has 'Robust' Security Following Reports Liam Fox's Email Account Was Hacked What The Hell Is Going On With Brexit?
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