How Boris Johnson's coronavirus strategy has been hit by blunders

A testing debacle, a U-turn on face masks and brutal rows over PPE shortages and lockdown: How Boris Johnson’s approach to tackling the coronavirus crisis has been behind the rest of the world at almost EVERY step

  • It is now 18 weeks since the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the UK
  • Boris Johnson’s response to pandemic has faced intense and growing criticism
  • PM has been attacked over U-turn on face masks and abandoning virus testing
  • Government also battled through rows over PPE shortages and lockdown timing
  • Britain’s response has been different to that of many of its European neighbours 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Boris Johnson is facing growing questions over the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic with Britain’s official death toll now approaching 40,000.  

It is now 18 weeks since the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the UK on January 31.

Since then the Government has been repeatedly rocked by rows and blunders as critics continually asked why ministers were taking a different approach to the outbreak compared to other countries. 

Downing Street has now said the UK is beginning the ‘recovery phase’ of the crisis but with a public inquiry inevitable, there is growing scrutiny of the action taken by the Government. 

Below is a breakdown of how the UK responded to the spread of the disease and how its approach has differed from other countries which have fared better in tackling it. 

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street on June 3, is facing growing questions over the UK’s response to the coronavirus crisis

The UK’s initial response to the Wuhan outbreak 

Coronavirus first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December with the outbreak quickly spiralling in just a matter of weeks. 

Beijing took the unprecedented decision to put the city into a strict state of lockdown on January 23. 

World Health Organisation officials have said that all major governments were made aware by the end of January of how serious the situation could become. 

But the UK Government’s focus was largely on Britain’s long-awaited departure from the European Union which finally took place on January 31 after years of bitter political wrangling. 

Mr Johnson delivered a major speech in Greenwich on February 3 in which he set out his vision for post-Brexit Britain. 

But coronavirus had started to creep into the political mainstream as Mr Johnson made clear his view on Wuhan-style lockdowns. 

He said: ‘We are starting to hear some bizarre autarkic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage…’  

The Wuhan airlift 

As soon as the Chinese city was put into a state of lockdown the UK government faced questions about bringing back British citizens. 

Both the US and Japan managed to airlift some of their citizens from the city on January 29. 

But the first charter flight heading to the UK did not leave Wuhan until January 31 after being delayed due to China failing to grant permission to take off.

Meanwhile, people due to get onto the flight were only given five hours notice to get to the plane despite the city being in lockdown.

When the 83 British evacuees arrived back in the UK at RAF Brize Norton they were then taken by bus to a facility at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral. 

But the Government faced a backlash after the bus drivers tasked with transporting the people to the site 172 miles away were not provided with protective equipment. 

It was not until February 4 that the Foreign Office advised all Britons to leave China if they were able to.  

A motorcade of coaches containing British citizens flown out of Wuhan arrive at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, where they were quarantined, at the end of January

Abandoning routine testing

During the early weeks of the outbreak the UK was routinely testing people with coronavirus symptoms and attempting to trace their contacts to stop the spread of the disease. 

But the Government abandoned routine testing on March 12 as Mr Johnson told the nation that anyone with symptoms of coronavirus should self-isolate at home for a week.      

The decision to shift away from testing was blamed on a lack of domestic capacity while Government experts also suggested checks were no longer an ‘appropriate intervention’ because of the scale of the spread of the disease. 

However, as the UK outbreak surged, the Government was forced into a U-turn as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on April 2 a new ‘five pillar’ plan to boost testing capacity.

The UK’s decision to ditch testing seemingly went against World Health Organisation advice, with the body having said that the key to fighting the disease was to ‘test, test, test’.

Effective test and trace regimes have been critical to the success of other countries like South Korea and Germany in keeping their death rates much lower than the UK.  

The decision to abandon routine testing is now seen by many experts as one of the main reasons why the UK has one of the worst death tolls in the world. 

Inadequate testing capacity 

The dramatic shift in approach on testing was best illustrated on April 2 as Mr Hancock set a target of hitting 100,000 daily tests carried out by the end of the month. 

When the announcement was made approximately 10,000 tests were being done every day with the Government then scrambling in the weeks that followed to ramp up capacity. 

In contrast, South Korea was capable of testing 20,000 people a day by the start of March while Germany was managing 15,000 by the middle of March.

UK ministers faced intense criticism for failing to seek help from the private sector, particularly from smaller firms, quickly enough.

Experts argued that small laboratories could be put to work to process swab tests and help to hit the target. 

The push was likened to the ‘little ships’ which helped during the Dunkirk evacuation in the Second World War. 

But the Government was accused of failing to act on offers of help when they were first made which meant the UK was always struggling to gain ground.

The slow uptake of the offers was blamed by some in Whitehall on Public Health England’s alleged ‘control freakery’ but ministers did eventually U-turn and seek support from small labs. 

Mr Hancock then claimed victory at the end of April as he said the target had been hit only for it to emerge that the Government had included postal kits in the figures on the day they were sent out rather than when they were processed.

Mr Johnson admitted at the end of May during an appearance in front of the Liaison Committee that the UK’s testing capability was underpowered at the start of the outbreak because the ‘brutal reality’ was Britain did not ‘learn the lessons’ of previous pandemics. 

Antigen versus antibody tests

When Mr Hancock made his 100,000 tests pledge it is thought he was expecting some of that number to be made up of antibody tests.

Antibody tests show if someone has had coronavirus while the more laborious antigen tests show if someone currently has it. 

Mr Johnson said on March 19 that the Government was in negotiations to buy ‘game changer’ antibody tests. 

But it subsequently emerged that none of the antibody tests were accurate enough to be rolled out, meaning Mr Hancock was totally reliant on ramping up antigen testing to hit his target.     

The UK then had to try to get millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money back for the antibody tests it had already agreed to purchase, with reports suggesting Britain had paid two Chinese companies an estimated £16 million for two million tests which could not be used. 

A furious row over PPE shortages  

A row over shortages of personal protective equipment for NHS and care staff dominated April as ministers were told a lack of gowns, masks and gloves was putting the lives of frontline workers at risk. 

Ministers scrambled to buy up equipment from all over the world as they insisted there was not a national shortage of PPE. 

However, they did concede there may have been localised instances of hospitals and care homes not having enough equipment.  

Ministers were keen to trumpet their apparent successes as pressure grew with the Government announcing in the middle of April that a deal had been done to fly in a massive order of equipment from Turkey. 

However, the shipment descended into farce as delivery was delayed only for it to later emerge at the start of May that 400,000 gowns were still sitting in a UK warehouse because they did not meet British safety standards. 

400,000 gowns ordered by the UK from Turkey are now sitting in a warehouse after inspectors deemed them useless

A U-turn on wearing face coverings 

The wearing of face masks has become a common sight across the globe with a raft of countries steadily making the coverings compulsory on public transport and in situations where social distancing is not possible since the middle of March. 

New York made its decision on April 15, in Germany it was April 22, in France it was May 11 and in South Korea it was May 26. 

The scientific community has been split on how effective face coverings are with the World Health Organisation still recommending that only two groups of people should wear them: Those who are sick and those who are caring for someone with coronavirus. 

However, experts are increasingly leaning toward the notion that something is better than nothing. 

A University of Oxford study published on March 30 concluded that surgical masks are just as effective at preventing respiratory infections as N95 masks for doctors, nurses and other health care workers.

For much of the outbreak the UK Government said it was assessing the evidence on wearing face masks as it delayed recommending they be worn. 

Number 10’s experts suggested that wearing face coverings may only provide a very small benefit.  

Eventually on April 30 Mr Johnson said face coverings could be ‘useful’ as lockdown was eased but wearing them was voluntary. 

It was only yesterday that the Government announced the wearing of face masks will be made compulsory on public transport from June 15 with some experts querying why it has taken Britain so long to make the move. 

Slow action on protecting care homes 

Ministers have faced repeated claims of treating the care sector like a ‘second class citizen’ during the outbreak when compared to the NHS. 

The Government has also faced accusations of unsafely discharging care home residents from hospitals back to care settings before coronavirus testing was widespread, risking outbreaks. 

Official statistics showed that between March 2 and May 1 there were more than 12,000 deaths in care homes where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificates amid fears the true number is likely to be much higher.

Mr Johnson was skewered on the issue in the middle of May by Sir Keir Starmer after the Labour leader quoted official guidance that had been in place until March 12 – well after coronavirus had started being transmitted in the UK – which said ‘it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected’. 

Sir Keir said during PMQs that the advice showed the Government had been ‘too slow to protect people in care homes’.

Mr Johnson replied that ‘it wasn’t true’ to say the advice said that. He later refused to apologise and accused Sir Keir of quoting selectively from the guidance.

Amid growing pressure over the approach to the care sector, Mr Hancock then announced on May 15 that all care home residents and staff will be tested for coronavirus by ‘early June’. Critics asked why testing had not been ramped up earlier.  

Announcing lockdown later than European neighbours 

Mr Johnson put the UK into a state of coronavirus lockdown on March 23 as people were told they could only leave the house for food, medicine, exercise once a day or to get to work if they could not work from home. 

Up to that point the Government’s main coronavirus advice to combat the spread of the disease had been for people to wash their hands more often than normal.  

His decision to impose draconian restrictions on daily life came later than a number of the UK’s European neighbours which had already chosen to act. 

For example, a lockdown in France came into effect on March 17 while in Spain it was even earlier on March 14. 

The UK Government has always insisted its decisions have been guided by the latest expert advice.  

Official data shows that adherence to the lockdown measures in the UK has been high but the Government has faced accusations of causing confusion as the four Home Nations ease measures at different rates with England taking the most aggressive approach and Scotland being most cautious. 

Social distancing

Advice to remain two metres apart from other people when outside has been a central plank of the Government’s coronavirus response. 

But that message risked being undermined after it emerged that scientists were urging the government to tell people to stop shaking hands the same day Mr Johnson was boasting about shaking hands with ‘everybody’.

Records released on May 5 showed a SAGE sub-committee on March 3 concluded that ‘Government should advise against greetings such as shaking hands and hugging, given existing evidence about the importance of hand hygiene’.

However, that evening Mr Johnson told a press conference in Downing Street that he ‘continued to shake hands’ and the important thing was washing them.   

He said: ‘I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.’

Critics have also argued that adherence to social distancing rules and wider lockdown restrictions had undoubtedly been undermined by a row over Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham. 

Foreign travel ban 

On March 12 Donald Trump announced sweeping travel restrictions on 26 European countries in a bid to stop the spread of the disease in the US. 

The US President banned travellers from EU states from going to the US. The UK and Ireland were initially not included before the restrictions were then ramped up. 

It was not until March 17 when the UK government took similar action as the Foreign Office announced it was advising against all non-essential international travel with the restrictions coming into force immediately. 

Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds speak with heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day on March 9

Failing to impose tough border control measures 

While the Government did impose a ban on non-essential international travel it did not completely close the UK’s borders which meant people were still able to come into the country from abroad – even from coronavirus hotspots. 

Statistics published in May showed that just 273 out of 18.1 million people who arrived in the UK in the three months before the coronavirus lockdown were placed into quarantine.

Even after lockdown there have still been hundreds of thousands people arriving in the UK every month. 

Ministers were repeatedly criticised over a lack of screening at airports for people coming back to the UK, particularly during the early weeks of the outbreak, amid fears Britain was importing new cases. 

The Government subsequently argued that tough restrictions at the border would have had little effect because of the increasing domestic rate of transmission.

Ministers are now planning to introduce 14 day quarantine periods for returning travellers from June 8 prompting questions over why the move was not taken right at the start of the outbreak. 

Source: Read Full Article

Robbie Williams shows off bald head after wife Ayda Williams shaved off his hair – The Sun

ROBBIE Williams has become the latest celebrity to sport a bald head during lockdown.

The 46-year-old singer was assisted by wife Ayda as he showed off his freshly shaven head on Instagram today.

In the clip, Robbie used an electric razor in the bathroom of his Los Angeles mansion, while the actress, 41, documented the process.

When Ayda asked if he was using a guard on the shaver, Robbie confirmed he wasn't, saying: "Extreme things happening in the area."

The Angels hitmaker then handed the clippers over to his wife, who carefully began to shave his head.

Alongside the clip, Ayda wrote: "Lockdown Look @robbiewilliams No Hair, Don’t Care #quarantinehaircut #thebaldandthebeautiful AWxx."

The video left some fans fearing for the star's safety as he hacked away at his hair.

One commented: "As a hairdresser I have to say I can hardly look you are holding the machine upside down. But it's ok."

Another said: "Looks great but Please turn the clipper over or you’ll damage your skin. The flat part of the blade should be on the skin xxx"

A third agreed: "WOW! That is an extreme haircut Rob’s gone for this time!! 😳 ."

The post comes days after the popstar revealed he secretly dumped wife Ayda more than once before they eventually tied the knot in 2010.

Admitting that she found it difficult each time Robbie pushed her away, Ayda said it also made her realise how much she really cared about him.

She said: "The most generous way of describing his breaking-up methods is 'questionable.'

"I was in love with him. He was a lovely, beautiful human and he was just so charming and funny and amazing. He had my heart. He was my soulmate.

"He used to say, 'I'm never getting married and I'm never having kids'. We laugh at that now.

"For the most part, we just get along. I value his opinion. I trust his answers. And he makes me laugh more than any other human on the planet."


Source: Read Full Article

Trump says 2.5 million jobs added shows economy is ‘going to be back’

President Trump said on Friday that “we’re going to be back” after surprising economic news that the US economy added 2.5 million jobs in May as states reopened from coronavirus lockdowns.

“It’s an affirmation of all the work we’ve been doing really for three and a half years, this isn’t just over the last few months,” Trumps said in the White House Rose Garden, later adding: “Our body was so powerful that we could actually close our country, save millions of lives.”

The rebound reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in April to 13.3 percent in May.

Experts had expected the jobless rate to near Great Depression levels around 20 percent as new unemployment insurance claims grew due to widespread government-ordered business closures to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Some states began allowing a phased return to normal in late April, but companies that furloughed or laid off workers in most places still face strict limitations.

The rebound follows an aggressive federal effort to keep afloat businesses. In two tranches, Congress authorized $670 billion in forgivable small business loans that can cover labor and overhead. A separate $500 billion fund managed by the Treasury Department was used for larger businesses, including airlines.

Since March, 42.6 million people — or a quarter of the workforce —  filed new unemployment insurance claims, including another 1.87 million people last week.

COVID-19 has sickened near 2 million Americans and killed almost 110,000. Those left jobless have benefited from a $600 per week federal boost in unemployment pay, intended to keep stable the income of most people impacted by the pandemic.

Trump spoke after a bleak week with the White House besieged by anti-police brutality demonstrators protesting the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police. On Saturday and Sunday, protests gave way to arson and citywide looting.

Trump said the economic rebound “is a tremendous tribute to equality” and said the pre-pandemic economy had the lowest rates of unemployment for many groups, including African-Americans.

Source: Read Full Article

Tia Mowry Shared Her Experiences of Her Mother Being Racially Profiled During 'Sister, Sister' Days

In light of the recent George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, celebrities online are either doing one of two things: vowing to learn from the protests to become better allies or sharing their personal experiences with racism, and why the protests mean so much to them. Sister, Sister alum Tia Mowry is doing the latter, and took to Instagram to share painful moments in her life where her Black mother was discriminated against, while her white father never had to go though anything remotely similar.

She wrote:

View this post on Instagram

#tbt This is a photo of my beautiful mother. Growing up #biracial, mom is black and dad is white, it was very clear to me seeing the #privilege that my dad had as opposed to my #mother. Some examples, during our #sistersister days when traveling for work we would often fly first class. There were several times my mother was asked if she was in the right seat. Another incident that stood out for me was when we were buying our first home as a family. My mother walked in the house model with us asking for a brochure. A person had said the houses were sold out. My dad walked in and it was a different story. My #goal is to see #change. This year has been a tough year. Several tears have been shed. However, a friend told me these tears will not be wasted. The #love and #support around the world has kept me going. A #change is gonna come. 🙏🏽

A post shared by TiaMowry (@tiamowry) on

And in case you’re wondering what both of Tia’s parents look like, here they are:

Fingers crossed that Tia continues to share more of her personal experiences so her followers can become more educated on the issues. 🤞

Here are guides for how to demand justice right now, how to find mental health resources if you’re a Black woman, how to talk to your relatives about Black Lives Matter, how to spot a fake protest story, and how to protest safely.

Source: Read Full Article

Haunting pics of mass coronavirus funeral service in Spain as hundreds gather for eerie socially distanced ceremony – The Sun

HAUNTING pictures show a hundreds of people at a socially distanced coronavirus funeral mass held in Spain.

Mourners gathered in Seville Cathedral, wearing face masks and sitting on chairs two meters apart instead of in pews, for the emotional service.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

The 500 masked mourners clasped their hands and bowed their heads in prayer throughout the service, lef the archbishop of Seville, Juan Jose Asenjo.

Spain went into lockdown on March 14 and its coronavirus death toll 27,133 is among the world’s highest with 287 in the city.

But restrictions are slowly being eased in May, allowing the funeral mass to go ahead.

The ceremony in Seville was by strict invitation ensure social distancing measures were maintained and relatives had to email ahead to ensure a seat would be reserved, reports.

A choir and orchestra performed Mozart's Requiem as family members wiped away tears.

Some travelled hundreds of miles from other parts of Spain where ceremonies are not yet allowed.

Mourners were given clear instructions by a priest to remove their masks for a brief moment to take communion wafers safely.

Pews were removed and replaced them with individual seats while hand sanitiser dispensers were set up at the entrance to the Cathedral.

Coronavirus cases have been dropping and Spain’s health ministry announced at the beginning of this month no deaths over a 24 hour period for the first time since March.

The country reached a peak of 950 deaths on April 2, which was the biggest daily jump that any country had recorded at that point.

The mass was held as it emerged Spain is considering plans to reopen its land borders with France and Portugal from 22 June.

Foreign visitors arriving in Spain will no longer have to undergo a two week quarantine from the start of July.

Source: Read Full Article

Madeleine McCann suspect had a relationship with a British woman

Madeleine McCann suspect had a year-long relationship with a British woman while living in Praia da Luz in 2004

  • Christian Brueckner, 43, was with English girlfriend from 2004 to 2005 
  • 43-year-old German paedophile had relationship with her in Praia da Luz
  • Three-year-old Madeleine vanished from resort in same area in May 2007
  • Brueckner also had underage Kosovan girlfriend he lived with in Germany
  • ** Do you know Brueckner’s English girlfriend? Email: [email protected] **

The new prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case had a year-long relationship with a British woman two years before the girl disappeared, it was claimed today.

German paedophile Christian Brueckner, 43, was together with his unidentified English girlfriend from 2004 to 2005 while living near Praia da Luz in Portugal.

Two years later three-year-old Madeleine vanished from a resort in the area in May 2007 – and Brueckner has now been identified as the main suspect 13 years later. 

Christian Brueckner (left), 43, is now the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (right), who vanished from her family’s holiday apartment in Portugal on May 3, 2007

This map shows where 43-year-old Brueckner lived on the Algarve in relation to Praia da Luz

Brueckner also had an underage Kosovan former girlfriend whom he lived with in Braunschweig after returning to Germany following Madeleine’s disappearance. 

Police want to speak to this Kosovan woman whom police believe he may have returned to Portugal with on his most recent trip around five years ago.

The Kosovan is thought to have left the area before Madeleine vanished, while Brueckner is said to have stayed in Praia da Luz, possibly sleeping in a campervan.

One neighbour said Brueckner lived with a girlfriend at a farmhouse above Praia da Luz but ‘kept to himself’ and allowed the property to fall into disrepair.

When Brueckner lived in the farmhouse above Praia da Luz (pictured) on the Algarve in Portugal, he seldom mixed with his neighbours and allowed the property to fall into disrepair

Another neighbour told how he moved into the home in the mid-1990s with a German girlfriend who left around a year and a half later.

They said: ‘They seemed to have a tempestuous relationship. I would hear them arguing. I knew very little about his life but he seemed to me to be a choleric man.’  

The German drifter spent 12 years pursuing a bohemian lifestyle – but not long after Madeleine vanished in 2007, he left Portugal and returned to his homeland.

It was in a German bar exactly ten years later – on the anniversary of the three-year-old’s disappearance – that Becks-drinking Brueckner turned the spotlight on himself.

The Ocean Club in Praia Da Luz, where Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in 2007

As Madeleine’s face flashed up on the bar’s television screen, he reportedly turned to his drinking partner and claimed he ‘knew all about’ the case. 

He is alleged to have said something to suggest he knew what had happened to Maddie, according to a report on Sky News.

Later, it is claimed, he showed his companion a video of himself raping an elderly American widow in Portugal in 2005. The friend contacted German police.

Brueckner swiftly became of interest to the detectives probing Madeleine’s disappearance. It was three more years before his name became public.

The last photograph taken of Madeleine shows her smiling next to her little sister Amelie and their father Gerry at 1.30pm on May 3, 2007 in Portugal, the day she went missing

One friend told the Mail that Brueckner’s ‘life situation’ was ‘a bit chaotic’, but added that ‘if everything is true then he was indeed a master of illusion’.

Born in 1976, Brueckner was said to have been raised ‘in a home’ and committed his first burglary in his home town of Wuerzburg in Bavaria when he was just 15.

Within two years, he was convicted of sexually abusing a child, earning him a two-year youth sentence in 1994. A report claimed he served only part of this term.

Brueckner went on to notch up convictions for drug dealing, driving under the influence and without a licence – before taking off to the Algarve after turning 18. 

** Do you know Brueckner’s English girlfriend? Email: [email protected] **

Source: Read Full Article

Amber Riley splits hairs: ‘I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist’

I feel like the Lea Michele conversation is being slightly derailed over questions about whether Lea Michele is a racist who treats people terribly or simply a wig sh-tting diva who treats people terribly. I guess the splitting hairs about “but is she a racist” is an okay conversation to have, it’s just that I think that in the long run, it doesn’t matter – if it turns out that Lea is not racist and she’s simply awful, will she be un-cancelled? No. But still, the hair-splitting continues. So far, Samantha Ware shared her story of Lea threatening to sh-t in her wig on the Glee set, and she was backed up by many of Lea’s old coworkers. After that, Hello Fresh fired Lea and they said it was because they “do not condone racism.” I assume that they felt there was something racial/racist in the way Lea bullied a young African-American actress, even though Samantha did not specifically say Lea had racist intentions/motives.

After that, Lea released one of the worst apologies I’ve ever read, a word salad of nonsense which showed us that she’s not sorry for anything, that she’s still a monster and she’s obsessed with how people falsely perceive her for threatening to sh-t in their wigs. Amber Riley worked with Lea for years on Glee, and Amber was one of the first people to tweet support to Samantha. This week, Amber had more to say on the Lea situation:

Amber on whether Lea is racist: “I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying. That was the assumption because of what’s going on right now in the world and it happened toward a black person. I’m not going to say that she’s racist. She’s also pregnant and I think that everybody needs to chill. Y’all dragged her for a couple of days.”

On the larger issue: “But at the same time, in my inbox there are a lot of black actors and actresses telling me their stories and were letting me know they have dealt with the same things being on set, being terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of the show,” she said. Riley explained that non-white actors typically play the “sidekick” to a white lead — a “culture” in the industry that fosters the lack of diversity. “We were even told, we were expendable; the colored girls, the black girls are expendable. I’m talking about the culture of Hollywood right now and how they treat black characters, black men, black women. I’m talking about the culture.”

She spoke to Lea this week for the first time in two years: “I wish Lea Michele well, I hope that she has an amazing pregnancy, I hope that she has grown… That [statement] she put out, I didn’t read it because I told y’all I don’t give a s— about it. … She reached out to me, I responded to her and that’s where it ends for me. I ain’t talk to that girl in two years. I have no hatred or ill will on that end. I want to make that very clear.”

[From People]

“I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying.” Okay. Again, no one is stepping up to say that Lea is actually an amazing person who treats coworkers with respect. Literally no one. Right now, all of Lea’s old coworkers are trying to work out Lea’s motives for being so horrible to everyone, at all times.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

Source: Read Full Article

G.E. Smith, LeRoy Bell Preview First Album Together With 'Black Is the Color'

Guitarist G.E. Smith and soul musician LeRoy Bell have shared a rugged take on the traditional folk ballad, “Black Is the Color,” that will appear on their debut album together, Stony Hill, out August 28th via BMG.

The age-old track originated in Scotland before making its way to the United States, where it became a staple of Appalachian folk music. Smith and Bell’s new version boasts a simmering blues-rock groove that allows Smith to work his guitar from a tiptoe to a full-on sprint, while Bell bellows the lovelorn lyrics, “Black is the color of my true love’s hair/Her lips are like some roses fair/The prettiest face and the daintiest hands/I love the ground on where she stands.”

The pair released an animated lyric video to accompany the song, which was created by Gary Smith. The clip finds a pair of hands typing out the lyrics to the song as if they were a love letter to the woman in the picture by the typewriter.

Smith and Bell both had lengthy and successful careers before linking up for Stony Hill. Between 1985 and 1995, Smith served as the musical director at Saturday Night Live, while he’s also played with Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, and Hall and Oates. Bell, meanwhile, was part of the soul duo Bell and James (with Casey James) and he’s worked as a songwriter for artists as varied as Elton John and Teddy Pendergrass, Jennifer Lopez and the Three Degrees. In 2011, his band, LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends, were finalists on the first season of the U.S. version of The X Factor.

It was Smith’s wife, Taylor Barton, who introduced the pair, and in a statement Smith recalled hearing Bell sing for the first time in 2018, “I’ve been looking for a great singer for 30 years, at least — not just a good singer, but a great singer. I said: ‘That’s the voice — that’s the one I’ve been looking for!’”

Stony Hill will primarily feature new songs written by Smith and Bell, both individually and together. Along with their rendition of “Black Is the Color,” the duo also covered Buffy Saint-Marie’s “Cod’ine” for the LP.

“It really intrigued me to do something that’s a little bit different and to bring my talent with his talent,” Bell said of his collaboration with Smith. “[To] try to make something new; make something happen. And I think we accomplished that.”

Popular on Rolling Stone

Source: Read Full Article

David Oyelowo: Oscar Voters Rejected ‘Selma’ After Cast Wore ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts

Ava DuVernay’s Martin Luther King Jr. drama “Selma” was one of the best reviewed films of 2014 (it boasts a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes from 304 reviews), and yet it only received two Oscar nominations: Best Picture and Best Original Song. The Academy’s failure to recognize DuVernay in the Best Director category and actors such as David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo is part of the reason #OscarsSoWhite went viral when nominations for the 2015 Oscars were announced. In a new interview with Screen Daily, Oyelowo reveals that one reason “Selma” was snubbed by Academy voters was due to backlash against the “Selma” cast and crew for wearing “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts to their New York City premiere.

“Six years ago, ‘Selma’ coincided with Eric Garner being murdered. That was the last time we were in a place of ‘I Can’t Breathe.’ I remember at the premiere of ‘Selma’ us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest. Members of the Academy called in to the studio and [said to] our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring S-H-I-T?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.’”

“It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite,” Oyelowo added. “They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”

DuVernay tweeted out the Screen Daily interview with Oyelowo and wrote: “True Story.” The filmmaker was left out of the Best Director race at the 2015 Oscars in favor of Alejandro G. Iñárritu (winner for “Birdman”), Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”), Bennett Miller (“Foxcatcher”), Wes Anderson (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”), and Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”). Miller was considered the dark horse of the group as, unlike “Selma,” his film “Foxcatcher” was not nominated for Best Picture.

In the same Screen Daily interview, Oyelowo shared his belief that the BAFTA Awards should distance themselves from the Oscars. The BAFTAs often take place just a week before the Oscars ceremony. Oyelowo said that if the BAFTA Awards stop being just another road trip on the awards season path to the Oscars then the ceremony can take strides towards having its own individual identity.

“That will bring about real change,” Oyelowo said, “because when you think about the Grammys, it’s independent of the Mobos. The Emmys has its own identity; the TV BAFTAs is not a stop on the way to the Emmys. Change that date! You are not Oscars’ poor cousin; change the date, and be something that is truly autonomous of that. Take back the power, BAFTA – I’m just saying!”

Head over to Screen Daily’s website to read Oyelowo’s interview in its entirety.

Source: Read Full Article

Greta Thunberg condemns 'police brutality escalating in the US'

Greta Thunberg condemns ‘police brutality and attacks on the free press escalating in the US’ during Black Lives Matter protests and calls on the EU to take action

  • Greta Thunberg, 17, responded to video of cops shoving a man, 75, to the ground 
  • White-haired man cracks his head on sidewalk and immediately starts bleeding
  • Thunberg asked: ‘How long are we going to stand by, watch and say nothing?’

Greta Thunberg has called on EU leaders to condemn ‘police brutality and attacks on the free press’ in the US during the Black Lives Matter protests.

The 17-year-old climate change activist took to Twitter to respond to footage of two police officers shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground, causing him to crack his head on the sidewalk, in Buffalo, New York.

Miss Thunberg wrote: ‘Still waiting for the EU and individual democratic nations to officially condemn the police brutality and attacks on the free press escalating the USA. 

Greta Thunberg has called on EU leaders to condemn ‘police brutality and attacks on the free press’ in the US during the Black Lives Matter protests

The 17-year-old climate change activist took to Twitter to respond to footage of two police officers shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground, causing him to crack his head on the sidewalk

‘For how long are we going to stand by, watch and say nothing?’

Her tweet comes in the second week of unrest in the US sparked by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis last Monday.

White police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds despite Floyd’s desperate repeated pleas for help. Floyd passed out and later died. 

His death is seen as a symbol of systemic police brutality against African-Americans sparking outrage and protests country-wide. 

Footage of the police shoving the protester in Buffalo was taken by a reporter from local radio station WBFO.

An elderly man was seen approaching Buffalo police officers in riot gear outside of City Hall on Thursday 

Shocking video showed two officers inexplicably shoving him before he staggers and falls to the ground

Many of the officers continued marching, while two cops leaned over to check on the man 

Governor Cuomo responded to the incident on Twitter calling it ‘utterly disgraceful’ 

The white-haired man could be seen approaching a line of officers in riot gear outside of Buffalo City Hall after the city’s 8pm curfew on Thursday. 

As the man tries to speak to the officers, they immediately begin shouting at him to move along, before one of them pushes him with a baton and a second cop shoves him with his hand.  

The elderly man is then seen staggering before falling back and hitting his head on the sidewalk. The sound of a crack is heard before blood trickles from his head.

The man, who was not identified, was taken to the hospital where he is now in serious condition, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. 

Horrific footage released last week showed a little girl screaming for help after she was allegedly pepper-sprayed by cops in Seattle 

Police initially released a statement saying a person ‘was injured when he tripped and fell.’ The two cops are now under investigation.

Police forces across the country have been widely criticised for their use of heavy-handed tactics on largely-peaceful protesters. 

In Brooklyn, hundreds of people were seen in a video marching down the street around 9pm before cops suddenly charged toward protesters without warning, prompting hundreds to take off running and disperse.

In a shocking video uploaded by journalist John Knefel, an NYPD officer wearing a white shirt is seen beating a male cyclist with his baton, before two more cops come along and knock him to the ground and restrain him.

A protester is arrested on Fifth Avenue by NYPD officers as they cracked down on people violating the 8pm curfew 

Police began to move in on crowds and carried out arrests after thousands remained on the streets 

Thousands continued marching across the city following a George Floyd vigil in Brooklyn that drew a crowd of 10,000 people

The man, who had been walking along peacefully with his bike, is heard repeatedly shouting: ‘What did I do?’ as cops seize him.

Yesterday a protester who faced off with cops at a rally in California claimed one officer threatened to spray tear gas at his two-year-old son.

Dontae Parks, 29, was carrying his little boy on his shoulders at the demonstration in Long Beach on Sunday when the policeman allegedly made the threat.

Parks says he believes that the officer would not have threatened to spray tear gas at his son if they were white.

‘It would have been a whole different scenario and that’s one of the reasons I was there [at the protest]’ he stated.

Parks was captured in a dramatic photo which showed a different officer pointing a rubber bullet gun at his face while his young son watched on.

Horrific footage released last week showed a little girl screaming for help after she was allegedly pepper-sprayed by cops in Seattle.

The youngster screams and yells ‘I can’t see’ as frantic onlookers rush over to help her.

Source: Read Full Article