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This Pro-Trump TV Channel Makes Fox News Look Like CBeebies
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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A Beginner's Guide to English Wine Now We Can't Do Booze Cruises
When you think of fine wine, your mind may wander to the gently sloping vineyards of Bordeaux in the south of France or California’s wine country – but perhaps you need to look closer to home. Because British wine is on the up.There are fields of new vineyards being planted on our shores, driven by the excellent sales of English sparkling wines. Yes, we can do fizz, too. Annual production has doubled from just over six million bottles per year in 2014 to more than 15.6 million bottles in England and Wales in 2018.After years of uncertainty around Brexit and coronavirus making travel to Europe an ongoing gamble, the booze cruise is currently a non-starter. But in place of of hopping over the channel to fill up the car boot with French plonk, why not turn your attention – and taste buds – to wines made right here in the UK.  Wondering where to start? Here’s what you need to know about the scene how to look for the perfect pour.Related... How To Make A Perfect Wine Spritzer Without A Recipe Sunnier spells, better harvestAccording to the Wine Standards Board of the Food Standards Agency, there are now more than 700 vineyards planted, spanning 2,000 hectares – a 75% increase in the past six years alone. The recent warmer and drier summers, coupled with a better understanding of soils and micro-climates, mean English vineyards are producing greater yields than ever. “The sunnier climate has improved winemaking in the UK massively,” Kristin Syltevik, owner of Oxney Organic Estate in East Sussex, explains to HuffPost UK. “It’s obviously quite scary the earth is getting hotter, but a couple of degrees over the years has benefited us.“Obviously, people have been growing grapes in England for many years, and vineyards across the country have been growing Germanic hybrids and different varieties, but they’re not always the tastiest or the best grapes. Now we can grow types such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which require a hotter climate.”If you’re looking for an autumn holiday or a short weekend staycation, take a tour of an English vineyard and stay the night. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but right now is harvest season and it’s the best time to visit.Kent and Sussex are host to a glut of producers, but there are vineyards as far afield as Cornwall and Shropshire and Suffolk – even some in sunny Yorkshire.Mastering our craftOver the years, English winemakers have been honing their craft – where there’s no direct competition, winemakers learn from one another and it’s a supportive industry – and we’re now seeing the fruit of their labour.“The knowledge and wine accessibility has got a lot better in this country since the mid-noughties, for sure,” says Bert Blaize, expert sommelier, head of food and drink at Birch Community and co-author of wine guide, Which, Wine, When.“People are curious and more open-minded to try new things rather than just saying, ‘I only drink Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.’ 2018 and 2019 were two of the best English wine vintages we’ve ever had a record in this country.”More people are willing to take a punt on English wines than ever this year, he says – the pandemic encouraged us to shop more locally, seasonally, and opt for artisanal produce when supermarkets shelves were bare from panic-buying.“Of course, it takes a long time to kind of convince people that English wine is as good as its European counterparts,” Syltevik adds. “It’ll take us a while to get everyone on the same page, but it’s a brilliant product that’s super tasty and has won many awards. Everyone should give it a try.”  Decisions, decisions, decisionsWhen it comes to English wines, you can find increasingly good varieties on the supermarket shelves, as well as buying directly from vineyards and specialist wine merchants. It’s not always going to be the cheapest option – a good bottle hovers around the £20-£30 mark, but supermarkets have options from as little as £11. Waitrose has a particularly wide selection, Marks and Spencer’s is also good, and Tesco’s website currently has both regular and sparking whites, White wines have make up the bulk of homegrown wine for a while, but English reds are also improving. So what to choose? Organic versus conventional? Classics like Chardonnay or the new English Pinot Noirs? Perhaps something a little out there like Bacchus, Pinot Meunier or Ortega? “I think naturally food and wine just go hand in hand. People are experimenting more with the kind of wines that they’ve been drinking,” Blaize explains. “If you’re not sure what to go for then just break it down. I always like to think about wine, as a condiment. For example, if you’re having fish and chips, you know there’s loads of salt, vinegar, and perhaps lemon for the fish. It’s immediately telling you that you need a lot of acidity, so opt for a white wine that’s really dry with lemony flavours, so something like champagne or cava would pair really well.If you’re still unsure, there are always clues there; you just have to know where to look. “Keep in mind that generic rules don’t really work for wine, because everyone’s palates and taste buds are different and there’s a huge variety of flavour combinations out there,” he suggests. “Part of the fun is experimenting and trying new things.”Related... Our Drinking Problem Got Worse Under Lockdown. 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8 Myths About Covid-19 Testing, Busted
Thinking about getting a test for Covid-19? If that’s the case, it can be hard to know where to start – after all, there’s so much information out there.Before you set about the task, here are some key testing myths that need putting to bed. Related... How To (Try To) Get A Coronavirus Test Amid Shortages 1. You should get a test if you have a runny nose or sore throat.While you should get a Covid test if you have any of the three main symptoms of Covid-19 – a continuous cough, fever, or loss of (or a change) in sense of taste or smell – you shouldn’t seek a test for other symptoms at this stage, according to government advice.Public Health England (PHE) suggests there’s been a spike in other viruses that cause the common cold, which can cause symptoms including a runny nose, sneezing and a sore throat. But people shouldn’t book tests for these kinds of symptoms.Some people reporting symptoms to the Covid-19 Tracker app might be urged to book a test for the purpose of academic research, despite having different symptoms to the three listed above. Care home residents and staff members are also able to get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.2. It’s only for adults.The Covid-19 tests available in the UK are also available to children.There are two ways to get tested: booking a visit to a test site or ordering a home testing kit. Both methods require you to self-refer via the government’s website and during this process, you’ll need to fill out an online form with some personal details. You can also book a test in this way for someone you live with who is displaying symptoms.The at-home tests, which involve a nasal and throat swab, should be carried out by an adult on children aged 11 and under. Related... When Will We Be Able To Ditch Face Masks? It’s particularly important children are tested if they have symptoms of Covid-19, as they’re less likely to be wearing face masks or social distancing at school.If your child has any of the symptoms listed above, get a test to check if they have coronavirus as soon as possible. While you wait for the test result, you and the rest of your family should self-isolate, and if the test result comes back positive, you should self-isolate as a household for 14 days. 3. If one family member becomes ill, you should all get tested.People should only get tests if they have symptoms of Covid-19, which means if you come down with symptoms and your other half doesn’t, they shouldn’t get tested but should self-isolate. If they don’t come down with symptoms, there’s a likelihood they may be asymptomatic, which means they could still spread the virus around but are not necessarily sick.You can get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms of Covid-19, but government advice is that you shouldn’t order tests for people you live with who do not have these symptoms.4. You can have a test weeks after becoming ill.The coronavirus test widely used in the UK should be carried out within the first five days of experiencing symptoms – anything longer than that and there’s a high chance you’ll get a negative result, even if you do have Covid-19.Urgency is key, which isn’t ideal when lots of people are reporting being unable to get access to tests at all. NHS staff are being forced to stay off work and self-isolate because they cannot access coronavirus tests for themselves or family members, while some people have had to drive long distances to testing facilities, only to be turned away. Related... The Psychology Behind Why Some People Hide That They Have Covid-19 5. You can have a test for free on the NHS if you’re going abroad.Wrong. If you’re going abroad and you need to take a test beforehand for the purposes of being able to travel, you should pay for a private test rather than using the free testing service available on the NHS. Private tests can range in price from £99 right up to £195.6. The test hurts.There’s a widely held belief that having the nasal swab hurts. While it can be a bit uncomfortable or strange, it shouldn’t hurt or be painful. 7. It’s 100% accurate.Unfortunately, the test currently used across the UK can sometimes throw up false negative results – where people have Covid-19 but the test doesn’t flag it up. This could mean some people are unknowingly going about their lives and spreading the virus. It’s been suggested as many as one in five test results could throw up a false negative. Related... The Coronavirus Test Can Throw Up 'False Negative' Results – Why? That said, the test is still the best chance we’ve got of telling us how rapidly Covid-19 is spreading in the community. And it’s mostly offering a good indication of who does and doesn’t have it.It’s also worth noting your doctor might clinically diagnose you with Covid-19 even if your test comes back negative, in which case you will still need to self-isolate.8. It’s easy to get a test if you really need one. Covid-19 tests are like gold dust in some parts of the country right now, leading certain groups to be prioritised for testing – this includes at-risk groups and people living in areas where there is an outbreak.Delays have been attributed to a severe backlog in processing the tests in laboratories, where there’s inability to keep up with current demand.A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told HuffPost UK people should check the government website at different times of the day to try and get a test. “Booking slots for Covid testing sites are made available the evening before for morning appointments, and on the morning for afternoon appointments,” they said.Related... What We Know About The Two New 90-Minute Covid-19 Tests How A 'Circuit Break' Lockdown Works – And Why It's Needed Covid Testing Chaos Sparks Fears People Could Be Forced To Pay
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The Story of Tracy Beaker: Where Are The Cast Now?
As Tracy Beaker is set to return back to our screens soon, it felt only right to go down memory lane and look back at one of the most iconic kids’ TV series of the 2000s. The Story Of Tracy Beaker introduced us to the brutal but uplifting world of the children’s care home The Dumping Ground, previously featured in Jacqueline Wilson’s popular books. In the 15 years since the last episode of The Story Of Tracy Beaker, the doors of The Dumping Ground have reopened a few times, in successful spin-off shows like Tracy Beaker Returns and The Tracy Beaker Survival Files. But can anything quite beat the original series? As a treat for 00s kids everywhere, we’ve rounded up some of the most memorable characters, and taken a look at what the actors who played them have been up to over the last 15 years...Dani Harmer as Tracy Beaker (Series 1-5)Tracy Beaker is obviously one the most iconic British kids’ TV characters, with one hell of a personality. Her feisty and strong independent self got her in more wrong places than right, but even though she acted tough, Tracy still had a soft side and would often imagine her mother coming back to get her from The Dumping Ground.Dani Harmer played Tracy Beaker for more than 10 years, both in the original show and spin-offs like Tracy Beaker Returns and The Dumping Ground. Even if you never watched Tracy Beaker, Dani may still look familiar because she was part of series 10 of Strictly Come Dancing. She made it all the way to the final of the competition, where she was partnered with Vincent Simone.She has also starred as herself in shows like Dani’s House and Dani’s Castle on CBBC.Dani is soon set to reprise her role in the new show, My Mum Tracy Beaker. Montanna Thompson played Justine Littlewood (Series 1-5, 3) How can we ever forget Tracy Beaker’s arch nemesis Justine Littlewood? After Justine moved into The Dumping Ground, she became friends with Louise Goven, Tracy’s best friend, causing tension between Justine and Tracy.Montanna Thompson played Justine for four years on the hit CBBC series and even returned for an appearance in the spin-off Tracy Beaker Returns. She has starred in many shows since Tracy Beaker, like Doctors, Casualty, The Last Detective and Sugar Rush, as well as starring in 2017 film Kill Or Be Killed.  Chelsie Padley played Louise Goven (Series 1-3)Louise was the one always caught in the middle of Justine and Tracy. Tracy Beaker and Louise were best friends at the beginning of the series, but once Tracy moved out The Dumping Ground after being fostered, they drifted apart. However, as expected, Tracy fell out with her new foster parents returning back to find Louise best friend’s with Justine. Thus, the tension began...Chelsie Padley was only 10 when she first auditioned for the role of Louise Goven.She stopped acting shortly after starring in Tati’s Hotel in 2011, and is now a fitness coach and the founder of Fit Peach Fitness, where she gives wellness and fitness tips.Ben Hanson and Ciaran Joyce played Bradley “Bouncer” Plakova and his brother Lawrence “Lol” Plakova (Series 2-5)This inseparable mischievous duo were known for pulling pranks on all the other residents at the Dumping Ground.Ciaran Joyce, who played “Lol”, is still pursuing acting but has not appeared on screen recently. He has starred in CBBC’s Young Dracula, Holby City and Torchwood.Ben Hanson played Lol’s brother “Bouncer” for three series. He has made appearances in BBC’s Casualty and guest presented for CBBC, and according to his Twitter bio, now works as both an estate agent and actor. Lisa Coleman played Cam Lawson (Series 1-5) Lisa Coleman played the character of Cam Lawson, a struggling author who later on went to foster Tracy from the Dumping Ground, later appearing in various spin-off shows.Since then, Lisa has starred in other notable TV shows such as Hollyoaks and Casualty.Nisha Nayar played Elaine Boyak AKA. Elaine The Pain (Series 1-5)Nisha Nayar starred as Tracy’s care worker Elaine for five series of the show from 2002 to 2005.Elaine faced some big challenges in The Dumping Ground when it came to finding the right foster parents for Tracy Beaker.  Nisha’s first big break on the big screen was in the groundbreaking comedy Bhaji On The Beach, playing Ladhu. Some of her recent roles are on BBC’s Doctors and ITV’s three-part drama Midwinter Of Spirit. You may have also noticed her in The Bay where she played Rahael Malik. Craig Roberts, Sophie Borja-Edwards and Deepal Parmar played The Wellard Trio - Rio, Roxy and Chantel Wellard (Series 4-5)This iconic troublesome sibling trio stuck together through thick and thin in The Dumping Ground, not letting anyone run over them, especially not Tracy Beaker.The bandana-wearing character, Rio Wellard was portrayed by Craig Roberts. Craig has gone onto have a successful acting career, landing roles in high-profile films like Bad Neighbours, 22 Jump Street, Richard Ayoade’s Submarine and 2019′s Tolkien. Roxy Wellard, Rio’s half-sister, was played by Sophie Borja Edwards. Along with her siblings. Sophie went on to star in Casualty and but hasn’t made many TV appearances since. Deepal Parmar, who portrayed Chantel Wellard, has continued her acting career, from playing Doctors in 2016 to starring in two short films, Wordless and Beauty in the Street. Clive Rowe played Norman Ellington AKA Duke (Series 1-4)Duke was the cuddly caretaker and chef of The Dumping Ground. He took great care of everyone and was often the unsung hero. Duke left the Dumping Ground in series four to visit his family in the Caribbean. Clive Rowe, who portrayed Duke, has gone on to have a successful career in the film and TV industry. He has starred in several episodes of Doctor Who, and landed small roles in Hollywood hits such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Beauty and the Beast, alongside Emma Watson, in 2017. Clive has also regularly worked in theatre and pantomimes including performing in the West End.In 2020, he was appointed the patron of the Hackney Empire and is currently campaigning to help it survive during the Covid-19 crisis.Darragh Mortell played Liam “Crash” Daniels (Series 3-5)Crash was one of Tracy’s closest and loyal friends.Actor Darragh Mortell, who portrayed Crash, has gone to have a successful career in film and television. Darragh has starred in Casualty and Hollyoaks as well as acting alongside Dani in CBBC shows like Dani’s House. He is currently a writer and director and has written and directed episodes of Dani’s House and Millie Inbetween.Abby Rakic Platt played Jackie Hopper (Series 3-5)Sports enthusiast Jackie Hopper was brought into the Dumping Ground after her grandad was no longer fit to look after her and went into care. Jackie was adamant there was nothing wrong with her grandad, although he had in fact developed Alzheimer’s.Abby Rakic Platt, who portrayed Jackie, has also starred in Casualty and The Bill. More recently, she has played Kirsty Raven in Michaela Coel’s hit comedy show Chewing Gum.MORE NOSTALGIA: Whatever Happened To The 90s And 00s Presenters Of Kids' TV? 25 Much-Loved Kids' TV Shows From The 90s You'd Probably Forgotten About 12 Things Ant, Dec And CatAbsolutely *Have* To Include In A SM:TV Reunion Special
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We Relearned To Love Nature In Lockdown, But Our Government Isn’t Protecting It For Us
In lockdown I turned into a regular wildlife peeping Tom. With remote cameras all around the farmland I’m lucky enough to live on, I spied on the swallows fledging under my deck, the fox that owns our local lanes, and the swans nesting in my neighbour’s garden. My obsession, though, was our badger sett. Almost every day I’d take my little boy to wander round the bluebells and beech trees, setting up cameras to pry into their secret world. The following day we’d wake up like it was Christmas morning, and catch up with our badgers as they got bolder and hungrier. We gasped together with joy when two cubs finally emerged.This little monochrome clan became an extended part of my own family. On nights where one cub didn’t show we’d be distraught, desperate to find out no tragedy had befallen them. Badgers have it pretty hard in the British countryside. They’re about to have it a whole lot harder. Despite the British government’s March commitment to end the controversial culling of badgers in favour of vaccination programs, they have now reneged on that promise, granting licences for thousands more badgers to be killed. As president of my region’s Wildlife Trust, I think it important to clarify why so many are vehemently opposed to this new cull. First, it’s not because I’m a precious environmentalist snowflake who doesn’t understand how the countryside works. Granted, the fact I consider four local badgers that I’ve only ever seen on CCTV as family may mark me as a sentimentalist. But let’s talk about why it’s important to have them in our countryside.Blasting away at any visible badgers hoping they’re infected just makes the problem worse. Transpose this methodology to a certain human disease and you’ll get a sense of quite how bonkers this is.The definitive study on badgers and bovine TB is the 196-page Krebs report. It was carried out with data collated from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial 1998-2007, by an impartial group headed up by top Oxford professor Lord Krebs – at a cost of £50 million to the taxpayer, and involving 11,000 badger kills. Certain facts about badgers and bovine TB (bTB) are not in dispute. Badgers are definitely a reservoir of the disease in the wild, with 4.05% being infected, and they can transmit this disease to cattle. Completely eliminating badgers from an area, can result in a significant decrease in new cases of bTB in cattle. However, even if you could wipe out all of our badgers, a total eradication of the species from our shores will not end bTB for one simple reason: almost every other animal in the British countryside is a vector of the disease – moles, foxes, mink, rats, ferrets, all our deer species, even us. If we wipe out our badgers, we will still have to address the problem of bTB.What’s more, we know culls don’t even reduce new cases. But taking out a few badgers from an established population does change the behaviour of the survivors. When you start shooting, badgers get out their backpacks and take a hike. This dispersal puts diseased badgers into contact with more healthy ones, and more cattle too. In a nutshell, unless you kill every single badger, the survivors move around more, and new cases of bTB increase.All this means those shoddy ‘pilot’ culls combined have killed an estimated 170,000 animals by end 2020, of which 157,000 were healthy. That’s about 35% of our badgers, with no noticeable positive effects on bTB. Wandering about the British countryside blasting away at any visible badgers hoping they’re infected just makes the problem worse. Transpose this methodology to a certain human disease and you’ll get a sense of quite how bonkers this is. Now there’s been a move to cage trapping for culling (though some free shooting remains), it’s just as easy to administer an injection to the thigh of a trapped badger as it is a shot to the head. How about rather than paying for pointless persecution, we roll out vaccination schemes across the country?These ill-thought out, rushed pilot culls are solely designed to placate powerful lobbying groups.The real reason that those working in conservation are so unsettled by the cull is that it shows our government’s true prerogatives when it comes to the countryside. That in their eyes wildlife is totally expendable. A thorough study clearly showed a cull would not work, so it was swept under the rug, and we keep shooting badgers so the government can be seen to be taking action. These ill-thought out, rushed pilot culls are solely designed to placate powerful lobbying groups. Despite the pilot culls showing no demonstrable benefit to TB levels in cattle, these culls continue and further culls have subsequently been rolled out into new areas year after year.If there was one thing I learned throughout lockdown, it was that there are millions of British people who really value what wildlife we have left. In the odd days of this spring and summer people treasured their time outside, spent more time in their gardens, discovered wild wonders they never knew existed on their patch. So many people found solace in nature, in their local countryside, in the secret animals that lived there. They wanted to know what they could do to practically help their furry and feathered neighbours.Well, what we can all do now is let our local MP, and our government, know that even in troubled times, we love and value our wildlife. We can demand that its treatment be based on evidence, not some weary whim. With badgers it really is all black and white.Steve Backshall is a writer, broadcaster and naturalist. Follow him on Twitter at @SteveBackshallRelated... Is England Heading For Another Lockdown? Coronavirus R Rate Rises Again To 1.1 – 1.4 As Second Lockdown Looms How A 'Circuit Break' Lockdown Works – And Why It's Needed
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TV tonight: gruesome tales of the Australian outback
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