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British Conservatives Are Finally Going Public With Their Support For Joe Biden



With just over a week until the U.S. presidential election, Conservative lawmakers in Britain are finally going public with their support for Joe Biden.

Sajid Javid, who as chancellor under Prime Minister Boris Johnson held one of the most powerful positions in government, has declared that “Britain is better off with Biden,” and many others in his party are “praying” for a Trump defeat.

Conservative members of Parliament (MPs) told HuffPost UK that they were backing the Democratic challenger because of climate change, foreign policy such as the Iran nuclear deal and “the return of dignity” to the White House.

With Johnson’s Downing Street scrambling to build links with the Biden team in recent weeks, several parliamentarians said that the prime minister’s own standing among the public could also be helped if Trump was no longer on the scene.

Ever since former U.K. Prime Minister John Major’s government was accused in 1992 of digging up dirt on Bill Clinton’s youth, Britain’s Conservative party has been reluctant to wade into presidential elections.

Johnson, who said of Trump in 2015, “I am genuinely worried that he could become president,” swiftly changed his tune once the reality TV star and real estate developer looked like a serious contender for the Republican nomination a year later.

Since Trump became president he has torn up convention by undermining former Prime Minister Theresa May and openly supporting Johnson as her successor, and the two men have tried to form a strong bond over a post-Brexit U.K.-U.S. trade deal.

Yet Trump’s divisive rhetoric and his quixotic approach to world affairs has led many Conservative lawmakers to conclude that both the country and their party would be better off if he loses the 2020 election. One insider told HuffPost that “the vast majority” of Downing Street staff wanted a Biden victory.

Former foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan called Trump a "global embarrassment."

Former foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan called Trump a “global embarrassment.”

Former U.K. foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan, who had to deal with Trump up close during his visit to London in 2019, said: “Trump has been a global embarrassment and the most unenlightened Western leader I’ve ever come across.

“I very much hope that Biden wins and a modicum of dignity can be returned to American politics. At the very least, we would get better manners and the basis of a government rather than a reality show. Trump has been rude, has degraded all Western politics and has brought shame to America.”

Sir Alan added that with Congress being the real decision-makers on any post-Brexit trade talks, it was moot whether Trump could ever deliver on the speedy, comprehensive deal he had promised.

“A lot of people have deluded themselves into thinking an easy trade deal was always available with Trump. But it never was, because trade deals are extremely complicated.”

Trump has been a global embarrassment and the most unenlightened Western leader I’ve ever come across.
Former U.K. foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan

Ex-chancellor Sajid Javid’s long-time unease with Trump finally spilled over into a withering opinion article in London’s Daily Telegraph on Friday, in which he attacked the president on his opposition to free trade, his support for “oppressive strongman leaders” in China and elsewhere, and his lack of “moral authority.”

“A Biden administration would quickly realize that Boris isn’t the British Trump some claim him to be. When it comes to policy, Biden will find he has more in common with the Johnson government than Trump ever did. He may not single us out for unique treatment, but in reality neither did Trump,” Javid said.

Suggesting Biden would rebuild and unify America like Ronald Reagan, Javid said the Democrat was appealing to voters’ “best hopes,” not their “worst fears.” “Britain is better off with Biden,” he concluded.

"Britain is better off with Biden": British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, with Sajid Javid.

“Britain is better off with Biden”: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, with Sajid Javid.

Unlike many ministers in former Prime Minister May’s government, Javid had never been afraid to stand up to Trump.

When the U.S. president retweeted videos from the far-right group Britain First, the then communities secretary accused Trump of endorsing the views of “a vile, hate-filled racist organization that hates me and people like me.” “He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing,” he said at the time.

Javid was also furious that he was not invited to the Queen’s State Banquet with Trump last year, despite being home secretary and more senior to other ministers, such as Michael Gove and Penny Mordaunt, who were invited.

But after Trump’s increasingly inflammatory conduct over the Black Lives Matter protests this year and refusal to condemn white nationalists or conspiracy theorists (like QAnon), it seems that Javid’s view of the president has become that of a mainstream majority on the Conservative benches in the Commons.

Rob Halfon, a former minister and chairman of the House of Commons education selection committee, said: “The only way the conservative movement around the world can reshape itself is if Trump goes. He’s poisoned the well for a very long time.

“He’s cast a stain on conservatism and it will force the Republican party to reform and get their own version of Obama. Pre-COVID, I actually think Boris was more like Ronald Reagan, with a sunny outlook, than Trump.”

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives.

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives.

For some Conservatives, however, Biden’s stance on recent claims the U.K. would break international law on Brexit has proved too big a bar to endorsing him. “Biden annoyed a lot of us with his courting of the Irish vote during the controversy over the Internal Markets Bill,” one former minister said.

Another backbencher and ex-minister agreed that Nancy Pelosi and Biden had gone too far at the time. “Trump may have his fault but he is a good friend of the U.K.,” he said. “As we leave the EU (European Union), he would certainly be a better president to help us get a good and quick free trade deal with the U.S. so I would prefer a second Trump presidency.”

But several other Tories disagreed. Former minister and newly ennobled Conservative peer Lord Vaizey said that while some right-wing Conservatives were with Trump on his strong stance on Israel, NATO funding and Iran, many would be happy with Biden.

“It’s always been the case that centrist Conservatives have as much in common with the Democrats as they would with Republicans. Most Conservatives from the left to the right would say they were fans of Reagan, and broadly be happy with both Bushes.

“When push comes to shove we tend to be Republican-leaning. We were happy with both Obama and Clinton. Clinton’s presidency was only tainted by the fact that it was a bro-in with Blair as we were at our lowest ebb.

“There would be a lot of Conservatives who would feel extremely comfortable with a Biden presidency, because what he’s proposing is not radical in our view: universal health care, and maybe a few tax rises on the wealthiest.

“And you want to deal with someone who is going to be a more predictable partner in terms of the U.K.-U.S. alliance. You want to see an America that’s stopped turning in on itself and hopeful have a president that can bring the country together.”

Vaizey said that the U.K.’s hosting of next year’s climate change talks could also prove the benefit of a Biden presidency. “There are some climate change skeptics in the Tory (Conservative) party, and some who have sympathy with Trump’s latest stance on China.

“But there’s no doubt at all it would be quite useful when we are hosting COP 26 to have an American president who actually does take climate change seriously and puts the might of the U.S. behind it. Because obviously, it’s been very smart of the Chinese to try and seize that mantle.”

One Conservative parliamentarian, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “Coming out of the closet as a Conservative for Biden is getting a lot easier, to be frank, given the state of the polls. But some of us just think we should be consistent and stay out of their elections, and they stay out of ours. Having said that, of course I want him to win. It’s a no-brainer to have someone more stable.”

Former Conservative minister Sir Simon Burns canvassed in Manchester, New Hampshire, for the Biden campaign in February.

Former Conservative minister Sir Simon Burns canvassed in Manchester, New Hampshire, for the Biden campaign in February.

Sir Simon Burns, a former Conservative health minister who retired from parliament in 2017, revealed he had actually canvassed in Manchester, New Hampshire, for the Biden campaign in February, when the former vice president hit his lowest ebb, coming fourth.

“I came back from America thinking, he’s got an uphill battle if he can survive. And then a few weeks later South Carolina came along and he never looked back.”

“When I supported Clinton in 1992 and 1996, I was the rare exception in the Tory party and was seen as an idiosyncrasy. By 2004, with George W Bush I suspect over half the Tory party were simpatico for the Democrats and that was certainly the case in 2008.

“Now I think a reasonable number of Tory MPs in the lonely early hours of the morning are praying that this nightmare that America has had for the last four years is going to be removed by the American electorate. I would imagine Theresa May won’t be shedding too many tears either, given the way she was treated by him.”

One former senior government figure said: “The vast majority of Tory MPs would agree with Javid. Even the vast majority of people in Downing Street, apart from a few culture warriors who might vote Trump but not very many. I suspect Saj also feels very personally some of the Trump attack on race relations and some of his language he finds very offensive.

“We will get on fine with Biden. There are some people around Biden who view the U.K. as an irresponsible renegade [given Brexit], but I’m sure they and he can get over that.”

Freddie Sayers, executive editor of the right-of-center website UnHerd, said he hoped that a Biden administration would not try to settle scores or try to restore an “establishment elite” that had driven many Americans to vote for Trump in the first place.

But he added: “Personally I think the fact that he is of good moral character is quite important. He’s old, but his heart is in the right place and people care about that.”

Younger Conservative party activists really began to lean Democrat under Obama, he said. “I was in Iowa [for the primary] in 2008 and there was a bunch of [David] Cameron staffers who were going wild for Obama.”

However, some former Cameron aides like Steve Hilton have come out forcefully for Trump, and Sayers says for some Brexiteers Trump remains temptingly in line with their “buccaneering” vision of nation states.

“The Tories are so confused as to who they are at the moment. Biden/Trump is a proof of that confusion. Are they the nice multilateralists who are going to restore British values to the world, or are they populists who are wanting to reveal ‘the lie’ of the consensus of the party 30 years and show how it was broken? They just don’t know.”


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Sex Toy Company Receives Award From Queen For ‘Outstanding Continuous Growth’



British sex toy company Lovehoney has received a royal seal of approval.

The adult retailer was this week honored with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise “for outstanding continuous growth in overseas sales over the last six years,” per a press release on its website.

The accolade, announced by the official journal of record The London Gazette, allows the company in Bath, southwest England, to fly The Queen’s Awards flag at their office and use its emblem on marketing and packaging materials for five years. It also won the award in 2016.

“We are thrilled to have received official recognition from the Queen,” said Debbie Bond, Lovehoney’s chief commercial officer. “Her Majesty has been a wonderful supporter of Lovehoney as we have grown into being the world’s leading sexual wellness brand.”

“Royal patronage will help us to create more jobs at our Bath headquarters and in our international offices and spread the sexual happiness message globally,” added Bond, who said royal approval shows how shoppers “are embracing sexual wellness products as never before and appreciating their importance in improving overall well-being ― a particularly important message as we come out of lockdown after a stressful year living with the pandemic.”

The first Queen’s Awards — described on the United Kingdom government’s website as “the most prestigious awards for UK business” — were issued in 1966. This year, some 205 companies were honored for their work in innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promotion of opportunity through social mobility.


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Joe Rogan Admits He’s A ‘F**king Moron’ After Offering Selfish COVID-19 Vaccine Advice



Wildly popular podcast host Joe Rogan admitted he’s a “f**king moron” and “not a respected source of information, even for me” when he addressed his selfish comments about young, healthy people not needing to get vaccinated from COVID-19.

Rogan, whose audience is in the hundreds of millions, drew backlash — and a rebuke from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert — when he said on an episode of his “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast released on Spotify last week that “if you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time and you’re young and you’re eating well, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”

On Thursday, Rogan clarified in a video shared on YouTube that he was “not an anti-vaxx person.” “In fact, I said I believe they’re safe and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated,” he explained. “I just said, ‘I don’t think that if you’re a young, healthy person that you need it.’ Their argument was, you need it for other people.”

“So you don’t transmit the other virus,” said his cohost.

“That makes more sense,” agreed Rogan. “But that’s a different argument. That’s a different conversation.”

Rogan, whose show was snapped up by Spotify in a $100 million deal last year, later attempted to explain away the comments by saying how he doesn’t plan what he says on air.

He’s often high or drinking alcohol during the shows, he said, before accusing “clickbaity” journalists of blowing his comments out of proportion.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron and I’m a cage fighting commentator who’s a dirty standup comedian who just told you I’m drunk most of the time and I do testosterone and I smoke a lot of weed but I’m not a respected source of information, even for me,” he said.

“If I say things, I’m always going ‘check on that Jamie, I don’t know if that’s true,’” Rogan added. “But I at least try to be honest about what I’m saying.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus


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Dozens Killed In Stampede At Jewish Religious Festival In Israel



JERUSALEM (AP) — The director of an Israeli ambulance service has confirmed that nearly 40 people died in a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel.

Eli Beer, director of Hatzalah, said he was shocked by the size of the crowd at the Lag BaOmer celebrations at Mount Meron. Police were quoted as saying some 100,000 people were there.

He told Army Radio that there were four to five times the number of people that should have entered a location like this. “Close to 40 people died as a result of this tragedy,” he said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS EVENT. AP’s earlier story is below.

A stampede broke out early Friday at a Jewish religious gathering attended by tens of thousands of people in northern Israel, leaving 150 hospitalized, authorities said. Israeli media reported that as many as 44 people were killed and published photos of rows of bodies.

The disaster occurred at Mount Meron at the main celebrations of Lag BaOmer, a holiday when tens of thousands of people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, gather to honor Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage and mystic who is buried there. Large crowds traditionally light bonfires, pray and dance as part of the celebrations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “great tragedy,” and said everyone was praying for the victims.

 The incident happened after midnight, and the cause of the stampede was not immediately clear. Videos circulating on social media showed large numbers of ultra-Orthodox Jews packed together in tight spaces.

A 24-year-old witness, identified only by his first name Dvir, told the Army Radio station that “masses of people were pushed into the same corner and a vortex was created.” He said a first row of people fell down, and then a second row, where he was standing, also began to fall down from the pressure of the stampede.

“I felt like I was about to die,” he said.

Zaki Heller, spokesman for the Magen David Adom rescue service, said 150 people had been hospitalized and confirmed there had been some deaths. Army Radio, citing anonymous medical officials, said the death toll had risen to 44.

Heller told the station “no one had ever dreamed” something like this could happen. “In one moment, we went from a happy event to an immense tragedy,” he said.

Photos from the scene showed rows of wrapped bodies.

The Israeli military said it had dispatched medics and search and rescue teams along with helicopters to assist with a “mass casualty incident” in the area. It did not provide details on the nature of the disaster.

It was the first huge religious gathering to be held legally since Israel lifted nearly all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. The country has seen cases plummet since launching one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns late last year.

Health authorities had nevertheless warned against holding such a large gathering.

But when the celebrations started, the Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, police chief Yaakov Shabtai and other top officials visited the event and met with police, who had deployed 5,000 extra forces to maintain order.

Ohana, a close ally of Netanyahu, thanked police for their hard work and dedication “for protecting the well-being and security for the many participants” as he wished the country a happy holiday.

Netanyahu is struggling to form a governing coalition ahead of a Tuesday deadline, and the national tragedy is sure to complicate those efforts.


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Gabrielle Union Talks Baby Kaavia’s Free Spirit: ‘Shade Is Her Super Power’



Gabrielle Union recently talked about her daughter, Kaavia James, and her funny “shady” moments, characterizing those times as her 2-year-old’s “super power.”

“Shade is her super power because when Kaavia gives you a look, it’s either you’re not respecting her boundaries or something is happening that she doesn’t like,” the actor told People in an interview published Wednesday.

Union and her retired NBA star husband, Dwyane Wade, welcomed Kaavia in November 2018.

The couple has since poked fun at the toddler’s occasional adorably shady facial expressions — and hilarious side-eyes — like when a photo of Kaavia seated on a couch looking pensive and slightly unbothered became a meme last year.

Or when the little one looked less than pleased with the outcome of her face paint design at her second birthday party:

Inspired by Kaavia’s witty personality, Wade and Union created an Instagram account for the little girl, often using the hashtag ”#Shadybaby” in the posts’ captions. The couple also collaborated to write a Kaavia-influenced children’s book titled “Shady Baby” due for release next month.

Union explained in Wednesday’s People interview that she celebrates Kaavia’s freedom to be her authentic self amid a long history of harmful ways Black women and girls have been treated in society.

“The main takeaway is that she’s free to be this amazing, dynamic, shady at times, loving at times Black little girl when the world has not been so kind to Black girls and women,” she added.

In addition to Kaavia, Wade is father to Zaya, Zaire and Xavier. Union and Wade also parent his nephew Dahveon Morris.

Wade told People that he and Union make a point to encourage their children to be their true selves.

“If we allow our kids to be their true selves we don’t have to worry about them conforming with anything or anyone,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we push our kids to be their authentic selves?”

Last month, Kaavia took a side-eyeing break to enjoy a sweet play date with 2-year-old Cairo, the daughter of actors Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict.

After some hugs, Kaavia generously took Cairo for a spin in her toddler-sized electric car:


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Anne Heche Says Ellen DeGeneres Didn’t Want Her To ‘Dress Sexy’



Anne Heche took an unexpected swipe at former girlfriend Ellen DeGeneres this week during an online fashion retrospective.

In a short TikTok video Tuesday, Heche looked back at some of her favorite looks from years past, including the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards and a memorable “Dancing with the Stars” routine from last fall.

The actor’s enthusiasm for nostalgia, however, notably dipped when she came upon a photo of her and DeGeneres from the 1998 Golden Globe Awards. The pair appear to have color-coordinated their outfits, with DeGeneres in a navy suit and Heche in a blue velvet gown and matching coat.

“Why do I look like a hippie? It’s because Ellen didn’t want me to dress sexy,” Heche, who has starred in films like “Donnie Brasco” and “Six Days, Seven Nights,” declared. After giving the look a zero out of 10 and a thumbs down, she added, “Bye, no!”

Heche and DeGeneres dated from 1997 to 2000. During their time together, the women were among Hollywood’s most-buzzed-about same-sex couples.

The former couple has remained mostly tight-lipped about the specifics of their relationship in the media. Heche, however, touched on her ex in a number of interviews timed to her appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” last year.

Chatting with Mr. Warburton magazine last year, she recalled angering Hollywood executives when she brought DeGeneres as her date to the premiere of 1997’s “Volcano.”

“I was told by Fox Studio executives that if I brought Ellen to the premiere, my contract would be terminated,” she told the publication. “I brought Ellen despite those threats, and we were escorted out of the theater before the lights came on by security and not allowed to attend the premiere party because they did not want any photos of us together.”

Ellen DeGeneres (left) and Anne Heche at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards.

“I was a part of a revolution that created social change,” she added, “and I could not have done that without falling in love with her.”

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight last October, Heche noted that she hadn’t spoken to DeGeneres “in years,” but would be open to a reunion under the right circumstances.

“With relationships, I think many of us have [been there], you come to a fork in the road, ‘What do you want and what do I want?’” she said. “Those goals, that intent in life, is determined by the individual. Her intent and my intent were different and that’s why we separated.”


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Elliot Page Emotionally Shares What’s Given Him The Most Joy Since Coming Out As Trans



Elliot Page is sharing the moment that has brought him the most joy since he announced he was a transgender man in December 2020.

In a peek at an interview with Oprah Winfrey slated for release on her Apple TV+ series “The Oprah Conversation” on Friday, the 34-year-old said that he’s found “the most joy.”

“Getting out of the shower and the towel’s around your waist and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you’re just like, ‘There I am.’ And I’m not having the moment where I’m panicked,” he said, before breaking down in tears. “It’s being able to touch my chest and feel comfortable in my body for the — probably the first time.”

The actor added his tears were “tears of joy.”

Earlier this year, Page talked to Time magazine about his decision to get top surgery and described the experience as something that allowed for him to recognize himself. Page recalled puberty as “total hell” and told the publication that the surgery “has completely transformed my life.”

He also told the publication that he spent much of his energy being uncomfortable with his body and the surgery has helped bring that energy back.

Page notably came out to fans last year with a heartfelt Instagram post, sharing that he would be using the pronouns “he” and “they” and said: “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”

He went on to say: “I love that I am trans,” Page wrote. “And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive.”  


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India Adds Another 379,257 Virus Cases As Vaccines Open To All Adults



NEW DELHI (AP) — India set another global record in new virus cases Thursday, as millions of people in one state cast votes despite rising infections and the country geared up to open its vaccination rollout to all adults amid snags.

With 379,257 new infections, India now has reported more than 18.3 million cases, second only to the United States. The Health Ministry also reported 3,645 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 204,832. Experts believe both figures are an undercount, but it’s unclear by how much.

India has set a daily global record for seven of the past eight days, with a seven-day moving average of nearly 350,000 infections. Daily deaths have nearly tripled in the past three weeks, reflecting the intensity of the latest surge. And the country’s already teetering health system is under immense strain, prompting multiple allies to send help.

A country of nearly 1.4 billion people, India had thought the worst was over when cases ebbed in September. But mass public gatherings such as political rallies and religious events that were allowed to continue, and relaxed attitudes on the risks fed by leaders touting victory over the virus led to what now has become a major humanitarian crisis, health experts say. New variants of the coronavirus have also partly led the surge.

Amid the crisis, voting for the eighth and final phase of the West Bengal state elections began Thursday, even as the devastating surge of infections continues to barrel across the country with a ferocious speed, filling crematoriums and graveyards.

A coronavirus patient is shifted to a ward after admission at GTB hospital in New Delhi on April 29, 2021. 

More than 8 million people are expected to vote in at least 11,860 polling stations across the state. Election Commission has said social distancing measures would be in place.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have faced criticism over the last few weeks for holding huge election rallies in the state, which health experts suggest might have driven the surge there too. Other political parties also participated in rallies.

The state recorded more than 17,000 cases in the last 24 hours — its highest spike since the pandemic began.

Starting Wednesday, all Indians 18 and older were allowed to register on a government app for vaccinations, but social media were flooded with complaints the app had crashed due to high use, and once it was working again, no appointments were available.

The vaccinations are supposed to start Saturday, but India, one of the world’s biggest producers of vaccines, does not yet have enough doses for everyone. Even the ongoing effort to inoculate people above 45 is stuttering.

One state, Maharashtra, has already said it won’t be able to start on Saturday.

Since January, nearly 10% of Indians have received one jab, but only around 1.5% have received both required doses.

Amid the acute shortage of oxygen and other hospital supplies, the White House said the U.S. will send more than $100 million worth of items, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests. It said they will begin arriving Thursday, just days after President Joe Biden promised to step up assistance.

The U.S. and Britain have already sent a shipment of medical items. France, Germany, Russia, Ireland and Australia have also promised help.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has advised its citizens to leave India. An alert on the U.S. Embassy’s website warned that “access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus


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