Wednesday, January 19, 2022

June 27, 2021  LONDON (AP) — Britain’s health secretary has resigned after a tabloid splashed photos and videos of him kissing an aide in his office — breaking the same coronavirus social distancing rules he imposed on the nation.

While Matt Hancock was swiftly replaced, the scandal was another blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative government, which has repeatedly come under criticism for incompetence and hypocrisy in its handling of the pandemic over the past year.

“People have made huge sacrifices to beat the pandemic and what riles them is the whiff of hypocrisy that people make the rules and don’t stick to them themselves,” Conservative lawmaker Andrew Bridgen told the BBC on Sunday.

Hancock announced his resignation Saturday, a day after apologizing for breaching social distancing rules after the Sun tabloid published images showing him and senior aide Gina Coladangelo embracing and kissing in his office. The Sun said the images were taken on May 6, before lockdown rules were eased to allow hugs and physical contact with people not in one’s own household.

Hancock, who is married, wasn’t the first senior British politician caught red-handed for breaking the government’s own COVID-19 rules.

Johnson’s former top aide, Dominic Cummings, was accused of undermining the government’s “stay home” message during Britain’s first lockdown in 2020 when he broke a travel ban and drove across England to his parents’ home. The breach caused a furor and was widely seen to erode public trust in Johnson’s government.

And Neil Ferguson, a leading government scientific adviser who advocated for strict lockdown rules, quit his position in May 2020 after it emerged he didn’t practice what he preached and allowed his girlfriend to visit him at home. At the time, Hancock remarked that the social distancing rules in place “are there for everyone” and are “deadly serious.”

On Sunday, many questioned why Johnson publicly stood by Hancock after evidence of the latest rule breach emerged. Johnson had expressed confidence in the health minister, and his office said he had considered the matter closed after Hancock’s apology, despite widespread calls to fire him.

“Boris Johnson should have had the guts, the spine, the awareness, the judgment, to sack him on Friday,” said Jonathan Ashworth, the opposition Labour Party’s health spokesman.

Hancock had come under fire for his leadership in the government’s response to the pandemic long before the publishing of the intimate photos.

He was accused of cronyism for hiring his friend, businesswoman Dido Harding, to run the much-criticized national test and trace system. Questions were also raised after the government awarded a lucrative coronavirus testing contract to a company run by a pub landlord near Hancock’s former constituency home. Hancock has denied involvement in the contract.

Some are now also asking how Coladangelo, a close friend of Hancock’s from university, landed her job as a non-executive director at the Department of Health.

The scandal came on the back of wider accusations from the opposition about “sleaze” in the Conservative party. Last month, former Prime Minister David Cameron was called before lawmakers to answer questions about lobbying work he did to win government funds for a now-bankrupt financial services company.

Lucy Powell, a Labour lawmaker, said the fact that Hancock wasn’t fired reflected poorly on Johnson’s judgment.

“I’m afraid it feels to me that the prime minister has a very dangerous blind spot when it comes to issues of integrity and conduct in public life,” she told Sky News. “That’s a really big problem and it’s an even bigger problem when you’re in the middle of a pandemic and you’re asking the public to also have integrity and conduct in the way that they go about with their own lives.”

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September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

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