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World News

What time is Wales going into lockdown today?

THE Welsh Government says a "sharp and deep" lockdown coinciding with half-term hols will avoid a more damaging one later on.

So, when does the two-week "fire-break" lockdown hit Wales?

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

What time is Wales going into lockdown today?

Wales will enter a two-week "fire-break" lockdown from 6pm on Friday, October 23.

The aim is to protect the country's NHS from being overwhelmed by the resurgence of coronavirus.

The measures will last 17 days until November 9.

What are the lockdown rules in Wales?

People will be asked to stay at home and to leave only for a limited number of reasons, including exercise, buying essential supplies, or to seek or provide care.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said supermarkets would only be able to sell "essential" items during the firebreak to ensure a "level playing field" for retailers forced to shut.

They will not be allowed to sell things such as clothing and hardware.

Staff will be told to prioritise the sale of "important" essential goods during the 17-day lockdown.

Critics said the announcement would cause "confusion" and urged the Welsh Government to publish a list of retailers that will have to close.

People will not be able to meet indoors or outdoors with anyone they do not live with, with exceptions for those living alone.

All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses will close, along with community centres, libraries and recycling centres, while places of worship will also be shut other than for funerals or wedding ceremonies.

Food shops, off-licences, pharmacies, banks and post offices will be allowed to remain open.

When does lockdown end in Wales?

Wales will be in a fire-break lockdown for 17 days until November 9.

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World News

Queen Elizabeth shaves time off London Bridge hero’s prison sentence

The convicted murderer who fought off the London Bridge terrorist with a narwhal tusk will see an early prison release, thanks to Queen Elizabeth.

Her Majesty has granted Steven Gallant, 42, the royal prerogative of mercy, an order that reduced the murder sentence he was serving when he helped thwart the terror attack, the Evening Standard reported.

The order knocked 10 months off his 17-year sentence and will allow him to seek parole in June.

The Ministry of Justice said the Queen was advised to grant the pardon as a result of Gallant’s “exceptionally brave actions,” the Mirror reported.

Gallant has been serving time for the murder of firefighter Barrie Jackson, who was beaten to death outside a pub in 2005.

But Jackson’s family said they backed the Queen’s order due to Gallant’s heroic efforts during the fatal attack last November.

“I have mixed emotions, but what happened at London Bridge goes to show the reality that people can change,” Jackson’s son, Jack, told The Mirror.

Gallant was at a conference to rehabilitate prisoners when the fatal attack took place in the Fishmongers’ Hall next to London Bridge.

He was among a group that ran out to intervene when Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist on parole, launched a stabbing spree that killed two people.

Footage showed Gallant trying to subdue him with a narwal tusk from the wall of the historic building before cops shot Khan dead.

Gallant later said in a statement that he “didn’t hesitate” to pursue the deranged attacker.

“I could tell something was wrong and had to help,” he said. “I saw injured people. Khan was stood [sic] in the foyer with two large knives in his hands. He was a clear danger to all.”

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World News

Urban daredevil scales NY Times building

An urban climber scaled six floors of the New York Times skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan Thursday afternoon before being arrested by the NYPD, authorities said.

The unidentified daredevil started his ascent soon after 5 p.m. and made it up to the sixth floor of the building on 41st Street near Ninth Avenue before getting tired, police said.

Video shows the man shimmying up and down metal poles as a crowd gathers below to watch,

Officers from the NYPD’s emergency services unit broke through a window of the newspaper’s building and pulled the man to safety, cops said.

Police believe the man may have emotional issues, a law enforcement source said.

He was taken to the Midtown South precinct with charges pending.

“We thank the New York Police Department for quickly resolving the issue,” a spokesperson for the Times said.

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Celebrities

Maya Jama has no time for 'ridiculous' body critics hating on her racy outfits

Maya Jama has no time for those calling her out on social media for her revealing outfits.

The former Radio 1 presenter, 26, has said she finds it ‘ridiculous’ that people feel entitled to criticise her appearance and her figure – insisting that when she was ‘slimmer’ she would never get the same messages.

Following her appearance on BBC lockdown series Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer, where she had co-hosted the show with the former footballer, Maya was subjected to negative comments online about her outfit choices.

But, she insists her wardrobe and style has never changed and claims that people seem to take issue more when somebody has a fuller figure.

‘I’ve always worn the same thing but when I was slimmer nobody commented on it and as soon as you have got a fuller figure people are shocked and insulted by your body,’ she told MailOnline.

‘I found it ridiculous. I’ve been wearing the same outfits, the same cut tops, my entire career and there was never really that many comments on it until I started putting on a bit of weight,’ Maya explained.

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She’s busy.

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Criticising those that body shame and comment on the appearance of women, Maya said: ‘It’s a woman’s body – I don’t feel like it should cause such outrage.’

She dubbed the internet ‘outrage city’ and said she has learned how to cope with the trolling she is unfortunately subjected to, but Maya insisted she won’t let nasty comments get to her or change her attitude.

‘I’m going to continue to dress how I’ve always dressed no matter what size I am,’ she defiantly hit back.

And so she should.

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Escapism ..

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While Maya is known first and foremost for presenting, she has recently turned her attentions to acting and was seen making a cameo in The Duchess with Katherine Ryan.

Although, Maya has said she feels ‘under pressure’ when it comes to acting.

Speaking in the autumn issue of Wonderland, Maya said: ‘I just feel a bit pressure-y, because I think you spend so much time becoming yourself and growing into who you are, and like, everyone knowing me for me. And then now I’m just going to have to pretend to be someone else, which doesn’t come naturally.’

‘It’ll be a challenge,’ she confessed, adding: ‘It can be hard when you’re presenting shows — because you’re like the deliverer of information — not to just get lost in what everyone else wants you to be and still be able to stay true to yourself.’

On why she’s giving acting a go, Maya said she was inspired by Idris Elba, who is not only an actor but a DJ too, among other things.

‘Don’t put yourself in a box, even if other people try to,’ she said. ‘I just think people limit themselves a lot and it’s silly.’

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Beauty and Fashion

Win a copy of This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens in this week's Fabulous book competition

MINNIE hates New Year – bad luck always seems to happen around her January 1 birthday.

Then on the morning of her 30th, she meets Quinn.

She realises he was the baby born a minute before her and the person she’s always thought stole her life…

Funny, perceptive and completely binge-worthy.

10 lucky Fabulous readers will win a copy of this new novel in this week's Fabulous book competition.

To win a copy, enter using the form below by 11:59pm on October 24, 2020.

For full terms and conditions, click here.

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World News

Covid-19 has killed THREE TIMES as many people as flu and pneumonia

Covid-19 has killed THREE TIMES as many people as flu and pneumonia this year, official figures show

  • Covid-19 was listed as the underlying cause of death in 48,168 fatalities between January and August this year
  • But influenza only caused 394 deaths in the same period, and pneumonia caused 13,619 fatalities
  • Deaths from influenza and pneumonia were seven times below their five-year average, official figures reveal 

Coronavirus has killed three times as many people as influenza and pneumonia this year, official data reveals, as Donald Trump claims the infection is ‘less lethal’ than the common flu.

Covid-19 was listed as the underlying cause of death in 48,168 fatalities between January and August this year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while influenza caused just 394 deaths in the same time period, and pneumonia – often caused by the flu – was behind 13,619 deaths.

The daily number of fatalities from the coronavirus remained above those from the common diseases in England and Wales from March, when the pandemic struck, until July, when the virus began to fade away. The latest figures from the ONS, for August 31, show 14 deaths were caused by influenza and pneumonia while five were linked to coronavirus.

Mortality rates for the virus were ‘significantly higher’ for all age groups than those for influenza and pneumonia, according to statisticians. Those aged 85 and older were found to be at highest risk, with a fatality rate of 1,243.9 per 100,000 compared to 862.5 per 100,000 from pneumonia and influenza. 

Deaths from pneumonia and influenza were seven times below their five-year average, which shows 97,674 fatalities where the diseases are listed as the underlying cause are expected each year. Experts say this is because lockdown curbs to stop the spread of coronavirus have also hampered the transmission of other diseases.

Statisticians said pneumonia and influenza were counted together as cases of pneumonia are often caused by the influenza virus. 

The report from the ONS comes after Facebook and Twitter were forced to place a warning on a post by the American President, which claimed: ‘Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the vaccine, die from the flu. Are we going to close down our country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!’ 

This graph shows the total number of deaths annually (blue line) and those from pneumonia and influenza (green line). The number of deaths due to Covid-19 has been estimated based on available data and compared to previous years. It is represented by the black line running across the graph

When deaths from January to August were split by location, care homes saw almost seven times more deaths due to coronavirus than pneumonia and influenza.

They recorded 14,412 deaths due to the new virus, while 2,128 had their underlying cause listed as the common diseases.

Hospitals and private homes also recorded more deaths from coronavirus than from pneumonia and influenza. There were 9,829 deaths in hospitals due to the viruses, and 30,846 due to Covid-19, and in private homes there were 1,871 deaths linked to the viruses compared to 2,096 where Covid-19 was the underlying cause of death.

All locations recorded deaths from influenza and pneumonia below the five-year mortality rate.

Deaths where coronavirus was the underlying cause accounted for 12.4 per cent of all fatalities in the time period, 389,835, while those from influenza and pneumonia were 3.6 per cent of the total.

Deaths due to influenza and pneumonia have remained stable since 2001, the ONS reports, which they say was due to the introduction of the widespread vaccine programme the year before.

In 2020 the highest number of deaths from the common viruses was recorded in January, when 3,067 succumbed to the diseases, but this was 1,151 below the five-year average.

The year with the lowest number of deaths from the viruses was last year, when 25,406 were recorded – a drop of almost 10,000 from the highest number in the 21st century in 2003, when there were 34,496. 

Sarah Caul, head of mortality analysis at the ONS, said: ‘The mortality rate for COVID-19 is also significantly higher than influenza and pneumonia rates for both 2020 and the five-year average.

‘Since 1959, which is when ONS monthly death records began, the number of deaths due to influenza and pneumonia in the first eight months of every year have been lower than the number of COVID-19 deaths seen, so far, in 2020.’

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Lifestyle

“It’s time for lesbian love stories that aren’t white period dramas”

Love comes in many different forms, but when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood, there’s a predictable theme. Here, Christobel Hastings explores the reasons behind the prevalence of white period dramas about lesbian relationships, and the stories shifting the way queer women exist on the big screen.     

Picture the scene: it’s Friday night, and it’s your turn to pick a rom-com for you and your significant other. You load Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV, and take a deep breath. Except instead of searching the thousands upon thousands of movies under the ‘recently released’ tabs, you navigate your way to the LGBTQ+ section, where there are… ooh, approximately 50 features waiting for you. 

Do you risk incurring the wrath of your girlfriend for suggesting you watch Carol for the fifth time? Or, do you simply resign yourself to incurring her wrath anyway by picking a virtually unknown film with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 20%? 

The pickings are slim. And, for the 10th time this week, you curse the dearth of diverse, nuanced stories about lesbian love.

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Unsurprisingly, then, word travels around fast when a new film about same-gender loving women is in the works. Like, seriously fast. Chances are, I will have heard rumours from gay Twitter, analysed paparazzi shots of early filming, and scrolled an Instagram account dedicated to lustful glances between the co-stars before I catch even the slightest whiff of a trailer.

Such was the case with Ammonite, the forthcoming romantic drama starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. 

Written and directed by Francis Lee, the biopic centres on the pioneering 19th-century palaeontologist Mary Anning, who spends time in Lyme Regis with a catatonically depressed woman named Charlotte Murchison (at her husband’s behest). 

And, as you can probably guess, spending time with Anning digging around for fossils soon proves to have a remarkably restorative effect.

Needless to say, the film, which premieres later this month, has already been met with glowing reviews and awards season chatter. Take two acclaimed actresses, add in the direction of a rising star like Lee (who garnered a BAFTA nomination for his 2017 romantic drama God’s Own Country) and a narrative that has been lauded for elevating both same-sex love and the feminist spirit of a working-class fossil hunter wronged by Victorian society, and you have a recipe for cinematic success. 

And, on the surface of things, even the simple matter of its production matters because it’s one more piece of queer media combating the historic invisibility LGBTQ+ people have faced over time. 

Queer women everywhere pondered the perennial question: why are so many lesbian films period dramas?

Forbidden love follows a familiar formula in cinematic territory, though, and to say that Ammonite is a win for representation would be disingenuous. Granted, a frisson of excitement passed through lesbian Twitter when news of the film first broke. 

However, it was also met with a resounding collective sigh as queer women everywhere pondered the perennial question: why are so many lesbian films period dramas? 

Before long, my feed was full of people questioning the mainstream media’s obsession with repressed 19th-century women. 

“Does every lesbian movie have to be two severely depressed women wearing bonnets and glancing at each other in British accents?” queried critic Jill Gutowitz.

Elsewhere, others pointed out the consistently large age gaps between onscreen lesbians. The common thread tying most of the criticism together, though, was the chronic lack of diverse lesbian representation.

“The growing amount of similar-looking white wlw period dramas makes me think that cinema is scared of lesbians being an actual and diverse presence in our contemporary society,” one exasperated user observed.  

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Are there really that many lesbian period dramas out there, I hear you ask? 

Well, yes. In fact, you’re reading this piece in the midst of a lesbian period drama boom, which is quite something considering how comparatively few lesbian films there are being released in the mainstream. 

In recent years, there’s been a flurry of predictably plotted features, from Lizzie, Colette and Tell It to the Bees, to The Favourite, Vita & Virginia, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire. In fact, once you start noticing it, you can’t but wonder why on earth the most visible lesbian love stories are preoccupied with bonnets, bygones, and coy glances from women looking over their shoulder?

A familiar frame

As I see it, there are two main issues causing canker in what should be a space for beautifully rich storytelling. The first lies in the fact that most of the culture we consume is dictated by Laura Mulvey’s concept of the male gaze

In visual media, this is when women are positioned as objects of heterosexual male desire, resulting in their objectification. Unsurprisingly, it’s rooted in patriarchy, the pervasive societal structure of inequality that elevates men to a position of supremacy; which is embedded so deeply into our daily existence that we barely stop to consider its manifestations. 

We tend to think of it in broad, brush strokes: the gender pay gap, domestic violence, unpaid domestic labour. However, our daily lives are continuously informed by it, whether we’re conscious of it or not; from the adverts we scroll on social media, to the characters we invest in on our screens. 

This immediately becomes apparent when looking at the popular representation of femininity in lesbian period dramas. Note the wide eyes, the tumbling ringlets, the peaches-and-cream complexions of the protagonists. Then look at the narratives that posit same-gender sexuality as a source of inevitable pain and struggle (a theme which has a long and insidious history in LGBTQ cinema). Observe, too, the standardised depiction of intimacy: sanitised sex scenes that amount to minutes of pawing underneath enormous crinolines (conveniently obscuring everything ‘unpalatable’ from view). 

The homogeneity is no coincidence. These characters are styled to pander to the male gaze, and preserve the patriarchal status quo.    

Who’s behind the camera?

For some time now, research has consistently proven that the film industry has appalling diversity issues. According to UCLA’S 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report, women and people of colour remain vastly underrepresented in every single area of industry employment compared to white men. This means that the people in positions of power – those who give the green light to new projects, those who decide who gets cast, and those who shape the stories on screen, are overwhelmingly white.  

While there’s a place for generic escapist fare, the abundance of white lesbian period dramas is a real and infuriating issue for queer media. Love exists in many different forms, but the current formula becomes stale and exclusionary, especially to women of colour, when it’s the only perspective given airtime. Little wonder GLAAD’s 2019 “Where We Are On TV” report identified a decrease in racial diversity of LGBTQ characters on streaming originals. 

Queer media remains wedded to whiteness, so it’s no surprise that diverse lesbian representation is continually stalled

Aren’t period dramas simply reflecting the demographic at the time, some might ask? 

This usual line of reasoning is a lazy way of letting these tropes slide. People of colour existed in the past, and the assumption that people from these eras were exclusively white – as we’ve seen recently as the UK begins to reckon with its colonial history – is simply ahistorical. 

So too is the idea that films led by white characters are inherently more profitable: just look to the box office success of films like The Handmaiden and Moonlight for proof that there’s huge demand for major LGBTQ+ features starring diverse casts. 

Sadly, though, most stories still defer to the comfortable narrative of whiteness, rather than create a richer, more expansive world. 

Fresh perspectives

I want to pause here to underline the fact that LGBTQ+ people are allowed to have nuanced discussions about the few films that come our way. Contrary to some of my peers, who are simply grateful for any LGBTQ+ content that gets released, I don’t feel obliged to love a piece of media just because it has a queer theme, or explicitly queer characters. That doesn’t automatically mean it’s a win. 

As a white journalist, too, there’s a responsibility to actively interrogate whether a piece of media is actually pushing the LGBTQ+ genre forward in meaningful ways, or whether there’s quite clearly space for improvement. We should be paying attention to the creation –or absence – of diverse stories, and questioning when they don’t receive recognition. 

While a marked lack of racial diversity and a reliance on tired stereotypes in queer media persists, there’s work to be done.

So, who’s doing it well?

Beyond the limited scope of whitewashed period dramas, there are films which complicate the representation of lesbians and queer women in fresh and interesting ways. Take Saving Face (2004) a genuinely heartwarming comedy-drama that centres around Wil, a closeted Chinese-American surgeon whose life gets complicated when her pregnant mother moves in (incidentally, it would take director Alice Wu sixteen years to make her follow-up, the Gen-Z rom-com The Half Of It). 

Then there’s Pariah (2011), written and directed by Dee Rees, which follows 17-year-old African-American teenager Alike as she navigates her Black, lesbian identity and falling in love for the first time. Though it offers shades of pain and hope, it’s the latter that prevails. 

Just because your breasts are small, it doesn’t mean they’re not legitimate

Recent films, too, have given a more authentic rumination on modern-day romance. One of my personal favourites is Appropriate Behaviour (2014) Desiree Akhavan’s debut indie film about Shirin, a bisexual, Persian-American struggling to rebuild her life in Brooklyn after a bad breakup. The dialogue is note-perfect and exceedingly funny (“Just because your breasts are small, it doesn’t mean they’re not legitimate”).

Then there’s Signature Move (2017) a great cross-cultural comedy about a relationship between Chicana bookshop owner Alma and Pakistani-American attorney Zaynab, with the fun addition of lucha libre. 

And I’d also strongly recommend that everyone watches Rafiki (2018) Wanuri Kahiu’s stunning lesbian romance about the first flush of love between teenagers Kena and Ziki amidst a shifting political landscape in Kenya. 

Once you start looking, there are many more refreshing portrayals of lesbian women to be enjoyed. A good number of these films are low budget, arthouse or indie ventures, most likely because these narratives weren’t mainstream enough in scope for major studios to support them when they were made. Consequently, these films have never ascended to a level of prestige where audiences get an increased appetite for diverse stories, which has a knock-on effect on the future production of films like them.

What matters, though, is that they are part of a continuum of stories that show the diverse beauty of lesbian women, in distinctly different ways. And, judging by the positive reception of the aforementioned films, people do actually want queer media that actively centres realist themes, LGBTQ+ joy, and dynamic representation reflective of the society we live in. 

When and if more stories of this kind will be welcomed into the mainstream is a question that is anyone’s guess. But I hope it won’t be long. 

Images: See Saw Films/Big World Cinema/Lilies Films

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