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Le gourou de Covid, Sir Patrick Vallance, n’exclut pas la théorie des fuites de laboratoire de virus

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Covid ayant émergé d’une fuite de laboratoire ne peut être exclu selon le meilleur scientifique qui a aidé à diriger la Grande-Bretagne à travers la pandémie.

Sir Patrick Vallance, ancien conseiller scientifique en chef de l’Angleterre, a déclaré aux députés lors de son discours d’adieu aujourd’hui que le virus “plus probablement” a balayé le monde après qu’une personne a été infectée par un animal.

Mais il a dit que si le virus avait pu fuir d’un laboratoire dans lequel il était étudié était une question de degré de sécurité de l’installation.

Surnommé «Dr Doom» pour ses déclarations sombres et porteur de mauvaises nouvelles pendant la crise de Covid, Sir Patrick a démissionné de son poste officiel le mois dernier.

Lors de sa comparution devant le comité de la science, de l’innovation et de la technologie aujourd’hui, il a également tiré des coups de feu sur les critiques qui avaient attaqué sa position sur les masques et l’immunité collective pendant la pandémie.

Sir Patrick Vallance a été interrogé sur ses réflexions sur les origines de Covid dans ses remarques finales en tant que principal conseiller scientifique d'Angleterre et a déclaré qu'une fuite de laboratoire, bien que peu probable, était une possibilité

Sir Patrick Vallance a été interrogé sur ses réflexions sur les origines de Covid dans ses remarques finales en tant que principal conseiller scientifique d'Angleterre et a déclaré qu'une fuite de laboratoire, bien que peu probable, était une possibilité

Sir Patrick Vallance a été interrogé sur ses réflexions sur les origines de Covid dans ses remarques finales en tant que principal conseiller scientifique d’Angleterre et a déclaré qu’une fuite de laboratoire, bien que peu probable, était une possibilité

Interrogé sur les origines du virus qui a fait de lui un nom familier, Sir Patrick a déclaré que si le coupable le plus probable était Covid provenant d’un animal, une fuite de laboratoire était également une possibilité.

De nombreux scientifiques soutiennent la théorie des origines naturelles, estimant que le virus est originaire de chauves-souris et a infecté une espèce intermédiaire – peut-être un pangolin – avant d’infecter les humains.

Cependant, d’autres pensent que le virus a été divulgué – accidentellement ou exprès – de l’Institut de virologie de Wuhan (WIV), qui menait des expériences sur des chauves-souris vivantes.

«Un échantillon pourrait-il être prélevé dans un laboratoire et ensuite fuir? Vous ne pouvez pas vraiment répondre à cette question biologiquement, ce n’est pas une question biologique, c’est une question de sécurité », a-t-il déclaré.

“Je pense que c’est moins probable … Je pense qu’il est beaucoup plus probable qu’il s’agisse d’un débordement zoonotique.”

Il a déclaré qu’il y avait de multiples opportunités pour les chauves-souris, l’animal considéré comme la source biologique du virus Covid, de le transmettre aux espèces animales détenues sur le marché qui auraient pu ensuite infecter les humains.

Et dans un dernier flash de «Dr Doom», il a suggéré qu’une origine de débordement zoonotique pour Covid pourrait en fait être pire car elle rend «très probable» qu’un virus similaire à potentiel pandémique pourrait émerger à l’avenir.

L’origine de Covid est un sujet très controversé avec une origine de fuite de laboratoire, autrefois rejetée comme une théorie du complot, ayant gagné du terrain au cours de la pandémie.

Même l’ancien chef du principal organisme de santé chinois a maintenant admis qu’une fuite de laboratoire aurait pu engendrer Covid.

Les députés ont également interrogé Sir Patrick sur les expériences que certains scientifiques soupçonnent d’avoir déclenché la pandémie, connue sous le nom de recherche sur le gain de fonction.

Il s’agit d’un domaine de recherche extrêmement controversé qui peut impliquer la manipulation délibérée d’agents pathogènes pour les rendre plus dangereux.

En théorie, cela peut aider les scientifiques à prendre une longueur d’avance sur le développement de traitements contre les virus qui pourraient naturellement évoluer pour devenir plus mortels.

Mais les critiques de la technique avertissent qu’elle pose un risque énorme pour la santé humaine – si jamais les agents pathogènes s’échappent.

Les scientifiques du WIV, qui est au centre de la théorie des fuites de laboratoire, ont été accusés de mener de telles recherches sur les coronavirus de chauve-souris, mais ceux qui ont aidé à les financer ont insisté sur le fait que ces expériences n’étaient pas un gain de fonction.

Certains experts disent maintenant que Covid a peut-être émergé au sein de l'Institut de virologie de Wuhan.  Ici, le personnel de sécurité est photographié en train de surveiller à l'extérieur du WIV lors d'une visite de l'OMS en 2021

Certains experts disent maintenant que Covid a peut-être émergé au sein de l'Institut de virologie de Wuhan.  Ici, le personnel de sécurité est photographié en train de surveiller à l'extérieur du WIV lors d'une visite de l'OMS en 2021

Certains experts disent maintenant que Covid a peut-être émergé au sein de l’Institut de virologie de Wuhan. Ici, le personnel de sécurité est photographié en train de surveiller à l’extérieur du WIV lors d’une visite de l’OMS en 2021

D'autres théories sur l'origine de Covid indiquent que le marché de gros des fruits de mer de Huanan à Wuhan (photo) est l'épicentre de l'épidémie.  Bon nombre des premiers cas en décembre 2019 et janvier 2020 avaient visité le site, où des animaux vivants étaient vendus

D'autres théories sur l'origine de Covid indiquent que le marché de gros des fruits de mer de Huanan à Wuhan (photo) est l'épicentre de l'épidémie.  Bon nombre des premiers cas en décembre 2019 et janvier 2020 avaient visité le site, où des animaux vivants étaient vendus

D’autres théories sur l’origine de Covid indiquent que le marché de gros des fruits de mer de Huanan à Wuhan (photo) est l’épicentre de l’épidémie. Bon nombre des premiers cas en décembre 2019 et janvier 2020 avaient visité le site, où des animaux vivants étaient vendus

De vouloir être paléontologue à diriger la nation à travers Covid : L’ascension de Sir Patrick Vallance

Né dans l’Essex dans les années 1960, Sir Patrick Vallance rêvait enfant d’être un “chasseur de dinosaures”.

Mais les ambitions de devenir un paléontologue de renom sont rapidement abandonnées au profit d’une carrière en médecine.

Il a fait ses études à l’école Truro à Cornwall, dont la pension coûte actuellement près de 30 000 £.

Avant de devenir un nom familier pour diriger la nation à travers Covid, il a passé du temps à enseigner à St George’s, Université de Londres, où l’homme de 62 ans a obtenu son diplôme dans les années 1980.

Plus tard, il est devenu un spécialiste dans le domaine des maladies des vaisseaux sanguins et de la biologie endothéliale.

Sir Patrick, qui décrit son «plaisir le plus coupable» comme la conduite de voitures rapides, a également passé une décennie à enseigner à l’University College de Londres.

Il a rejoint le géant pharmaceutique britannique GlaxoSmithKline en 2006 et y a travaillé jusqu’en 2017.

Après six ans chez GSK, son salaire de base en tant que directeur exécutif serait de 780 000 £ par an.

Lorsqu’il est parti pour devenir le conseiller scientifique en chef de No10 en 2018, il a encaissé 5 millions de livres sterling d’actions qu’il a obtenues d’eux depuis qu’il y travaillait jusqu’en mars 2018.

Pendant la pandémie, il s’est avéré que Sir Patrick Vallance avait encore 600 000 £ d’actions. Cela a suscité la controverse parce que GSK était l’une des nombreuses entreprises en course pour développer un vaccin Covid.

Marié à l’ancienne GP Sophie Dexter, le couple vit dans une maison victorienne mitoyenne d’une valeur de 1,8 million de livres sterling, qu’ils ont achetée en 2018 avec de l’argent.

La rue dans laquelle ils vivent est bordée de voitures chères, avec une Mercedes de classe R une fois repérée garée sur leur propre route.

Ils ont dû effectuer d’importantes rénovations après qu’il ait été complètement détruit par un incendie avant d’être impliqués dans la propriété.

Le couple a trois enfants ensemble – qui pensent tous que leur père, fait chevalier à l’origine en 2019, est “geek”.

Sir Patrick a défendu le gain de fonction dans son ensemble, mais a reconnu qu’il y avait des problèmes à résoudre concernant les mesures de sécurité en place dans les laboratoires menant de telles expériences.

Il a déclaré: «Le gain de mutation de fonction est extrêmement important pour toutes sortes de domaines de la science et de la thérapeutique bénéfiques.

“Il s’agit bien sûr d’un manquement à la biosécurité, et je pense qu’il est nécessaire de s’assurer que la biosécurité est correctement réglementée dans le monde.”

L’homme de 63 ans, qui démissionne de son poste de 185 000 £ pour devenir président du conseil d’administration du Natural History Museum, a également tiré des coups de semonce à ses détracteurs.

La position du gouvernement sur les masques pendant la pandémie a été critiquée, après que les ministres ont initialement déclaré que le public n’avait pas besoin de les porter, avant de faire demi-tour.

Interrogé sur les critiques de la politique de masquage, Sir Patrick a déclaré: “ D’après mon expérience pendant Covid, plus les voix sont fortes, plus la base de preuves est faible.

“Il y avait beaucoup d’incertitudes et beaucoup d’opinions fortes et de tous les côtés.”

Il a également fait allusion à des études récentes qui suggéraient que les couvre-visages n’étaient pas la solution infaillible pour arrêter les infections.

“Les preuves concernant les effets des masques ont changé et se sont développées au fil du temps et je pense que beaucoup de gens ont fini par penser au début où ils pourraient être les plus efficaces”, a-t-il déclaré.

Sir Patrick a admis aux députés qu’il avait parfois utilisé une «formulation maladroite» pendant la pandémie, soulignant ses commentaires controversés sur l’immunité collective.

Il a fait face à un énorme contrecoup au début de la pandémie pour avoir déclaré, à au moins trois reprises, que l’objectif était de “construire un certain degré d’immunité collective”.

L’immunité collective se produit lorsqu’une maladie manque effectivement de personnes à infecter, car une partie suffisante de la population bénéficie d’une forme de protection.

Mais les commentaires ont déclenché un tollé car ils suggéraient que le gouvernement était prêt à permettre à des millions de Britanniques d’être infectés, dont certains mourraient inévitablement, dans le cadre de la stratégie.

Parlant aujourd’hui de la dispute, Sir Patrick a déclaré: “L’erreur que j’ai commise a été de répondre à une question sur l’immunité collective.”

Il a affirmé qu’il avait mal compris la question et qu’il soulignait que l’immunité collective était la fin des pandémies.

Sir Patrick a déclaré: «Parce que la question que j’essayais de poser n’était pas« il doit y avoir une stratégie pour y parvenir », mais fondamentalement, c’est ainsi que vous mettez fin aux pandémies, les gens obtiennent une immunité grâce aux vaccins et en attrapant des infections.

“Ce n’est absolument pas la même chose que de dire que ce que vous voulez faire, c’est sortir et délibérément et sortir et infecter les gens.”

Alors que la Chine a insisté sur le fait que le virus provenait d'ailleurs, les universitaires, les politiciens et les médias ont envisagé la possibilité qu'il ait fui d'un laboratoire biochimique de haut niveau à Wuhan - ce qui fait soupçonner que les autorités chinoises ont simplement caché des preuves de la propagation précoce.

Alors que la Chine a insisté sur le fait que le virus provenait d'ailleurs, les universitaires, les politiciens et les médias ont envisagé la possibilité qu'il ait fui d'un laboratoire biochimique de haut niveau à Wuhan - ce qui fait soupçonner que les autorités chinoises ont simplement caché des preuves de la propagation précoce.

Alors que la Chine a insisté sur le fait que le virus provenait d’ailleurs, les universitaires, les politiciens et les médias ont envisagé la possibilité qu’il ait fui d’un laboratoire biochimique de haut niveau à Wuhan – ce qui fait soupçonner que les autorités chinoises ont simplement caché des preuves de la propagation précoce.

Il a également repoussé les critiques du Groupe consultatif scientifique pour les urgences (SAGE) – un groupe de scientifiques qui a conseillé le gouvernement pendant la pandémie.

Le SAGE a été accusé de ne pas tenir compte de l’impact économique de ses recommandations aux ministres.

Le Premier ministre Rishi Sunak fait partie de ceux qui ont critiqué le SAGE à un moment donné en disant que cela avait été une erreur de «responsabiliser» le comité.

Mais Sir Patrick a riposté aux suggestions que SAGE devrait inclure des économistes dans son écurie d’experts, les qualifiant de “complètement faux”.

“L’idée de rassembler toutes les sciences et l’économie dans un seul conseil consultatif est incorrecte car elle évite aux ministres de faire les compromis qu’ils doivent faire”, a-t-il déclaré.

“C’est une question distincte de savoir si l’économie et d’autres choses devraient fournir une contribution à ce côté de l’équation que les ministres doivent examiner.”

Sir Patrick a riposté aux suggestions que SAGE faisait peur pendant la pandémie, arguant que ce n’était pas son travail d’être optimiste mais de donner les données aux ministres.

Interrogé sur ce dont il était fier pendant son règne en tant que meilleur scientifique du pays, Sir Patrick a déclaré qu’il soutenait le développement et le déploiement de vaccins Covid et que la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le changement climatique de 2021, connue sous le nom de COP26, figurait en bonne place.

Sir Patrick a été conseiller scientifique en chef du gouvernement pendant cinq ans, assumant ce rôle pour la première fois en 2018.

Il est remplacé dans le rôle par le professeur Dame Angela McLean, experte en propagation des maladies infectieuses de l’Université d’Oxford, qui travaillait auparavant comme conseillère scientifique en chef du ministère de la Défense.

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International

He’s her No1 fan! Taylor Swift’s Superbowl-winning fella Travis Kelce PERFORMS on stage with her at Wembley – carrying her across the stage then fanning her to the delight of the crowd

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Travis Kelce shocked fans as he joined Taylor Swift onstage at a sold-out Wembley this evening – in front of the likes of Fleabag’s Andrew Scott and Sir Paul McCartney.

It is the first time the pair have taken to the stage together, after officially announcing their relationship on Instagram on Friday evening.

Tonight the American footballer joined Taylor onstage for a costume change before the song I Can Do It With a Broken Heart – sending fans into a frenzy once again.

The athlete was dressed up in a white bow tie, tailcoat and top hat.

He picked Taylor up, fanned her and powdered her face as part of the act.

Before Taylor carried on with her performance, she made sure to blow a kiss to her NFL beau.

Taylor Swift is joined onstage by her boyfriend Travis Kelce during a costume change on Sunday's show

Taylor Swift is joined onstage by her boyfriend Travis Kelce during a costume change on Sunday's show

Taylor Swift is joined onstage by her boyfriend Travis Kelce during a costume change on Sunday’s show

Taylor Swift is joined on stage by Travis Kelce (R) during the Eras Tour show tonight

Taylor Swift is joined on stage by Travis Kelce (R) during the Eras Tour show tonight

Taylor Swift is joined on stage by Travis Kelce (R) during the Eras Tour show tonight 

Travis carries Taylor across the stage during a costume change

Travis carries Taylor across the stage during a costume change

Travis carries Taylor across the stage during a costume change 

Travis uses a make-up brush to powder Swift's face as part of the act

Travis uses a make-up brush to powder Swift's face as part of the act

Travis uses a make-up brush to powder Swift’s face as part of the act

The American footballer was dressed up in a white bow tie, tailcoat and top hat and powdered Taylor's face as part of the act

The American footballer was dressed up in a white bow tie, tailcoat and top hat and powdered Taylor's face as part of the act

The American footballer was dressed up in a white bow tie, tailcoat and top hat and powdered Taylor’s face as part of the act

The singer wears a white corset dress with her lyrics scrawled across it

The singer wears a white corset dress with her lyrics scrawled across it

The singer wears a white corset dress with her lyrics scrawled across it

Taylor in one of her snake-inspired bodysuits for the Eras Tour

Taylor in one of her snake-inspired bodysuits for the Eras Tour

Taylor in one of her snake-inspired bodysuits for the Eras Tour 

Taylor performing on Sunday to the crowd at Wembley stadium

Taylor performing on Sunday to the crowd at Wembley stadium

Taylor performing on Sunday to the crowd at Wembley stadium 

Taylor Swift performs on stage during 'Taylor Swift  The Eras Tour' on Sunday, June 23

Taylor Swift performs on stage during 'Taylor Swift  The Eras Tour' on Sunday, June 23

Taylor Swift performs on stage during ‘Taylor Swift  The Eras Tour’ on Sunday, June 23

Taylor Swift pictured with her backup dancers

Taylor Swift pictured with her backup dancers

Taylor Swift pictured with her backup dancers 

The event was sold out and was attended by a number of famous faces including Sir Paul McCartney and Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The event was sold out and was attended by a number of famous faces including Sir Paul McCartney and Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The event was sold out and was attended by a number of famous faces including Sir Paul McCartney and Phoebe Waller-Bridge 

Taylor Swift performs to a crowd of 89,000 in a glittering silver blazer and matching high-heeled boots on Sunday night

Taylor Swift performs to a crowd of 89,000 in a glittering silver blazer and matching high-heeled boots on Sunday night

Taylor Swift performs to a crowd of 89,000 in a glittering silver blazer and matching high-heeled boots on Sunday night

Taylor smiles as the crowd at Wembley cheers tonight

Taylor smiles as the crowd at Wembley cheers tonight

Taylor smiles as the crowd at Wembley cheers tonight

Taylor in her pink and blue Lover bodysuit

Taylor sings her song Fearless for a large crowd at Wembley

Taylor sings her song Fearless for a large crowd at Wembley
The pop singer, 34, is in London for three nights in June and a further five nights in August

The pop singer, 34, is in London for three nights in June and a further five nights in August

Dressed in a sparkling golden dress, Taylor performs songs from her Fearless album

Elaborate set pieces are used throughout the concert including a cosy cottage with a smoking chimney

Elaborate set pieces are used throughout the concert including a cosy cottage with a smoking chimney

Elaborate set pieces are used throughout the concert including a cosy cottage with a smoking chimney

The 34-year-old sings into a wooden mic as she performs songs from her albums Folklore and Evermore

The 34-year-old sings into a wooden mic as she performs songs from her albums Folklore and Evermore

The 34-year-old sings into a wooden mic as she performs songs from her albums Folklore and Evermore

Taylor wears a moss green dress as she sings to the 89,000-strong crowd

Taylor wears a moss green dress as she sings to the 89,000-strong crowd

Taylor wears a moss green dress as she sings to the 89,000-strong crowd

Taylor performs for the third night in a row at a sold out Wembley Stadium

Taylor performs for the third night in a row at a sold out Wembley Stadium

Taylor performs for the third night in a row at a sold out Wembley Stadium

The couple, who have been romantically linked since 2023, have never featured on each other’s social media accounts.

But Taylor ‘hard-launched’ their relationship by posting an adorable photo of herself and Travis posing with the Prince of Wales and his two children – Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Fans branded the star-studded selfie as ‘iconic’.

The 34-year-old singer has been dropping hints about her relationship with the NFL player for a while now.

During her sell-out Eras Tour, Swift changed a lyric in her popular song Karma from ‘Karma is the guy on the screen’ to ‘Karma is the guy on the Chiefs’ – referencing Travis’s Super Bowl winning team.

Eagle-eyed Swifties have also spotted Travis in the VIP tent making loving gestures at Swift throughout her three-hour long set.

But tonight Swift was wooed by the crowd as well as her new boyfriend.

Adoring fans stood, cheered and stamped their feet for over five minutes – leaving the megastar speechless.

Taylor 'hard-launched' their relationship by posting an adorable photo of herself and Travis posing with the Prince of Wales and his two children - Prince George and Princess Charlotte

Taylor 'hard-launched' their relationship by posting an adorable photo of herself and Travis posing with the Prince of Wales and his two children - Prince George and Princess Charlotte

Taylor ‘hard-launched’ their relationship by posting an adorable photo of herself and Travis posing with the Prince of Wales and his two children – Prince George and Princess Charlotte 

Her set-list lasts for three hours and consists of songs from all of her albums

Her set-list lasts for three hours and consists of songs from all of her albums

Her set-list lasts for three hours and consists of songs from all of her albums

The 34-year-old plays both guitar and piano during the Eras Tour

The 34-year-old plays both guitar and piano during the Eras Tour

The 34-year-old plays both guitar and piano during the Eras Tour

This is Taylor's third night in London during the UK leg of her sold-out Eras Tour

This is Taylor's third night in London during the UK leg of her sold-out Eras Tour

This is Taylor’s third night in London during the UK leg of her sold-out Eras Tour

The 34-year-old wears a sparkling pink cropped top with a green mini skirt

The 34-year-old wears a sparkling pink cropped top with a green mini skirt

The 34-year-old wears a sparkling pink cropped top with a green mini skirt

Taylor wears a shirt that says 'We are never getting back together... like ever'

Taylor wears a shirt that says 'We are never getting back together... like ever'

Taylor wears a shirt that says ‘We are never getting back together… like ever’

Taylor hugs a fan during the song 22 at The Eras Tour on Sunday night

Taylor hugs a fan during the song 22 at The Eras Tour on Sunday night

Taylor hugs a fan during the song 22 at The Eras Tour on Sunday night

The singer wears a black and red one-legged bodysuit for her third night in Wembley

The singer wears a black and red one-legged bodysuit for her third night in Wembley
The bodysuit reflects her Reputation era

The bodysuit reflects her Reputation era

The singer wears a black and red one-legged bodysuit for her third night in Wembley

Fans cheered for more than five minutes at Wembley tonight, leaving the singer speechless

Fans cheered for more than five minutes at Wembley tonight, leaving the singer speechless

Fans cheered for more than five minutes at Wembley tonight, leaving the singer speechless

Swift spins in her moss green dress

Swift spins in her moss green dress

Swift spins in her moss green dress 

The star was overwhelmed when the Wembley crowd applauded her for around five minutes

The star was overwhelmed when the Wembley crowd applauded her for around five minutes

The star was overwhelmed when the Wembley crowd applauded her for around five minutes

The first two nights on Friday and Saturday brought out some of the biggest names in Britain, with Prince William and his children Prince George and Princess Charlotte making an appearance.

The Prince of Wales was filmed ‘dad dancing’ in the crowd to Swift’s it song Shake It Off.

Fellow royals Zara and Mike Tindall also attended Friday night’s concert.

Yesterday Tom Cruise was spotted trading friendship bracelets with Swifties, while Hugh Grant treated himself to a mid-concert snack of carrots.

And tonight Sir Paul McCartney danced with fans as Jon Bon Jovi, Ellie Goulding, Cate Blanchett, Phoebe Waller Bridge and Andrew Scott kept themselves hidden in the VIP tent throughout the performance.

Previously in the crowd at Wembley have been Hollywood superstars Greta Gerwig, Nicola Coughlan, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, while her beau Travis Kelce has been supporting her from the sidelines – until he jumped onstage tonight.

Sir Keir Starmer even tweeted that he took a ‘Swift campaign pitstop’ to enjoy the concert with his wife Victoria on Friday night.

Prince William, George and Charlotte take a selfie with Taylor Swift before rocking royal breaks out his best dad dancing

Prince William, George and Charlotte take a selfie with Taylor Swift before rocking royal breaks out his best dad dancing

Prince William, George and Charlotte take a selfie with Taylor Swift before rocking royal breaks out his best dad dancing

The Prince and Princess of Wales's official X account posted: 'Thank you Taylor Swift for a great evening!'

The Prince and Princess of Wales's official X account posted: 'Thank you Taylor Swift for a great evening!'

The Prince and Princess of Wales’s official X account posted: ‘Thank you Taylor Swift for a great evening!’

Prince William has thrilled fans after being seen 'dad dancing' at Taylor Swift's Wembley concert last night

Prince William has thrilled fans after being seen 'dad dancing' at Taylor Swift's Wembley concert last night

Prince William has thrilled fans after being seen ‘dad dancing’ at Taylor Swift’s Wembley concert last night

The royals seem to be having the time of their lives as they sing and dance along in the video

The royals seem to be having the time of their lives as they sing and dance along in the video

The royals seem to be having the time of their lives as they sing and dance along in the video

Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall and her ex-rugby international husband Mike were among those attending Taylor Swift's first London gig at Wembley Stadium on Friday night as part of the US singer's record-breaking Eras Tour

Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall and her ex-rugby international husband Mike were among those attending Taylor Swift's first London gig at Wembley Stadium on Friday night as part of the US singer's record-breaking Eras Tour

Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall and her ex-rugby international husband Mike were among those attending Taylor Swift’s first London gig at Wembley Stadium on Friday night as part of the US singer’s record-breaking Eras Tour

Tom Cruise is among the thousands of attendees at Taylor Swift's concert in London

Tom Cruise is among the thousands of attendees at Taylor Swift's concert in London

Tom Cruise is among the thousands of attendees at Taylor Swift’s concert in London

Mila Kunis in the crowds ahead of Taylor Swift's second Wembley show

Mila Kunis in the crowds ahead of Taylor Swift's second Wembley show
Her partner Ashton Kutcher is also among some of he many famous faces

Her partner Ashton Kutcher is also among some of he many famous faces

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have also been spotted in the crowds ahead of Satuday’s show

Actor Hugh Grant eating carrots during the Eras Tour in Wembley on Friday night while standing in the VIP tent among a host of A-listers

Actor Hugh Grant eating carrots during the Eras Tour in Wembley on Friday night while standing in the VIP tent among a host of A-listers

Actor Hugh Grant eating carrots during the Eras Tour in Wembley on Friday night while standing in the VIP tent among a host of A-listers

Eagle-eyed fans were quick to spot and film the veteran actor in the VIP area of the audience watching on as the Cruel Summer singer took to the stage

Eagle-eyed fans were quick to spot and film the veteran actor in the VIP area of the audience watching on as the Cruel Summer singer took to the stage

Eagle-eyed fans were quick to spot and film the veteran actor in the VIP area of the audience watching on as the Cruel Summer singer took to the stage

Andrew Scott (left) and Phoebe Waller Bridge (right) watch tonight's show from the VIP tent

Andrew Scott (left) and Phoebe Waller Bridge (right) watch tonight's show from the VIP tent

Andrew Scott (left) and Phoebe Waller Bridge (right) watch tonight’s show from the VIP tent

Sir Keir Starmer even tweeted that he took a 'Swift campaign pitstop' to enjoy the concert with his wife Victoria on Friday night

Sir Keir Starmer even tweeted that he took a 'Swift campaign pitstop' to enjoy the concert with his wife Victoria on Friday night

Sir Keir Starmer even tweeted that he took a ‘Swift campaign pitstop’ to enjoy the concert with his wife Victoria on Friday night

Eras Tour tickets have been going for hundreds of pounds a pop, with many fans eager to catch a glimpse of the US singing sensation before her tour moves onto Ireland next week.

But she will be back soon enough, with the 34-year-old set to play five more dates at Wembley in mid-August.

During a single performance on the Eras Tour, the megastar changes her outfit a whopping 16 times.

She is supported by 15 dancers, four backup vocalists and six bandmates.

The epic worldwide tour follows the release of her album Midnights last year and The Tortured Poets Department this year.

Tonight fans were were convinced that the superstar was going to make a huge announcement during her third night at Wembley Stadium tonight.

Some guessed she was going to announce the re-recording of her album Reputation – referred to as Rep TV (Taylor’s Version). 

Her recent shows have seen complaints of glitching happening on the screen behind her as she performs.

But Swifties suspected that this was a build-up to the announcement, when they anticipate the screen will glitch and go completely black.

A male Swiftie wearing a snake necklace and black love heart sunglasses arrives at Wembley Stadium ahead of the concert today

A male Swiftie wearing a snake necklace and black love heart sunglasses arrives at Wembley Stadium ahead of the concert today

A male Swiftie wearing a snake necklace and black love heart sunglasses arrives at Wembley Stadium ahead of the concert today

A trio of Taylor Swift fans do their make-up and fix sequins to their faces outside Wembley this afternoon

A trio of Taylor Swift fans do their make-up and fix sequins to their faces outside Wembley this afternoon

A trio of Taylor Swift fans do their make-up and fix sequins to their faces outside Wembley this afternoon

A Taylor Swift fan wears a cowboy hat and a jacket with the word 'Clown for Rep' written on the back outside Wembley today

A Taylor Swift fan wears a cowboy hat and a jacket with the word 'Clown for Rep' written on the back outside Wembley today

A Taylor Swift fan wears a cowboy hat and a jacket with the word ‘Clown for Rep’ written on the back outside Wembley today

A group of women wearing white wedding veils walk towards Wembley Stadium before the show

A group of women wearing white wedding veils walk towards Wembley Stadium before the show

A group of women wearing white wedding veils walk towards Wembley Stadium before the show 

A pair of Swifties wearing pink and blue cowboy hats look at bracelets as they wait for the concert to begin

A pair of Swifties wearing pink and blue cowboy hats look at bracelets as they wait for the concert to begin

A pair of Swifties wearing pink and blue cowboy hats look at bracelets as they wait for the concert to begin

Four women wearing pink and blue cowboy hats sit down on a bench outside Wembley Stadium before the gig

Four women wearing pink and blue cowboy hats sit down on a bench outside Wembley Stadium before the gig

Four women wearing pink and blue cowboy hats sit down on a bench outside Wembley Stadium before the gig

A London Underground service information board pays tribute to Taylor swift at Wembley Park station today

A London Underground service information board pays tribute to Taylor swift at Wembley Park station today

A London Underground service information board pays tribute to Taylor swift at Wembley Park station today

Swifties put on bracelets as they prepare for the Taylor Swift concert at Wembley Stadium today

Swifties put on bracelets as they prepare for the Taylor Swift concert at Wembley Stadium today

Swifties put on bracelets as they prepare for the Taylor Swift concert at Wembley Stadium today

A man wears a gold shirt and matching bowtie as he makes his way to the  concert

A man wears a gold shirt and matching bowtie as he makes his way to the  concert

A man wears a gold shirt and matching bowtie as he makes his way to the  concert

One fan carries a lilac cowboy hat on her back as the other wears Taylor Swift merch showcasing the dates of previous shows on The Eras Tour

One fan carries a lilac cowboy hat on her back as the other wears Taylor Swift merch showcasing the dates of previous shows on The Eras Tour

One fan carries a lilac cowboy hat on her back as the other wears Taylor Swift merch showcasing the dates of previous shows on The Eras Tour

Taylor Swift performs on stage at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday, June 22

Taylor Swift performs on stage at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday, June 22

Taylor Swift performs on stage at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday, June 22

Taylor Swift performs on stage during her Eras Tour at Wembley Stadium on Saturday

Taylor Swift performs on stage during her Eras Tour at Wembley Stadium on Saturday

Taylor Swift performs on stage during her Eras Tour at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 

The American megastar, 34, performs on stage in front of almost 90,000 fans

The American megastar, 34, performs on stage in front of almost 90,000 fans

The American megastar, 34, performs on stage in front of almost 90,000 fans

Swift was seen talking to a young girl in the audience as she performed the Red Era of her show at Wembley stadium on Saturday

Swift was seen talking to a young girl in the audience as she performed the Red Era of her show at Wembley stadium on Saturday

Swift was seen talking to a young girl in the audience as she performed the Red Era of her show at Wembley stadium on Saturday

The US megastar performed hits such as Shake It Off on the opening night of her Eras Tour run in London

The US megastar performed hits such as Shake It Off on the opening night of her Eras Tour run in London

The US megastar performed hits such as Shake It Off on the opening night of her Eras Tour run in London

Taylor Swift's various costumes for Friday night's sell-out Wembley gig included a white gown with her lyrics written on it

Taylor Swift's various costumes for Friday night's sell-out Wembley gig included a white gown with her lyrics written on it

Taylor Swift’s various costumes for Friday night’s sell-out Wembley gig included a white gown with her lyrics written on it

Despite the theories, the only surprises at tonight’s concert were Travis’s appearance and the acoustic songs she played – which are different every night. 

Fans screamed as the 34-year-old sang an unexpected mash-up of Out of the Woods, Is It Over Now and Clean.

But it was Travis’s appearance that really through fans into a frenzy.

After the show one fan tweeted: ‘No because what do you mean Travis was on stage tonight? I’m sorry I will never get over this. This is WILD. I love them so much.’

Another Swiftie added: ‘This is it…he’s everything she’s wanted, needed and deserved. He has her back – literally and figuratively. The END.’

Celebrities who have attended the Eras Tour in London 

Night One –  Friday, June 21

Jason Kelce – Kylie Kelce – Travis Kelce – Nicola Coughlan – Cara Delevingne- Jonathan Van Ness – Salma Hayek – Prince William – Prince George – Princess Charlotte – Zara Tindall – Mike Tindall – Keir Starmer

Night Two – Saturday, June 22

Tom Cruise – Liam Hemsworth – Rachel Zegler – Travis Kelce – Rachel Barmouth – Jason Kelce – Kylie Kelce – Travis Kelce – Jamie Dornan – Hugh Grant – Greta Gerwig – Mila Kunis – Ashton Kutcher

Night Three – Sunday, June 23

Bon Jovi – Ellie Goulding – Paul McCartney – Gracie Abrams – Sophie Turner – Cate Blanchett – Ruby Stokes – Travis Kelce – Zawe Ashton 

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I’m a scientist who believes plants are CONSCIOUS – here are signs that prove they have intelligence

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Plants have been observed to interact with the environment in ways that one scientists has claimed proves they are conscious.

Paco Calvo, a professor at the University of Murcia in Spain, has been researching plant intelligence and problem-solving for years, finding the mimosa appears to ‘learn from experience’ when it stops folding up.

‘In psychology that’s the most basic form of learning,’ Calvo told DailyMail.com.

‘This pattern of folding, then not folding any more, is consistent with the idea that this plant has learned something as a result of experience, not from its genes.’ 

The professor also noted that other plants communicate with each other through chemicals, solve problems, and even appear to have memories.

Mimosas can also ¿learn¿ that a particular touch is safe

Mimosas can also ¿learn¿ that a particular touch is safe

Mimosas can also ‘learn’ that a particular touch is safe

Many scientists define intelligence as having a central nervous system, where electrical signals pass along messages to other nerves to process information.

Instead, plants have a vascular system, which is a network of cells that transports water, minerals and nutrients to help them grow.

‘We think of plants as resources, for fuel, for oxygen, for textiles, for foods, but we don’t respect them for their own sake,’ said Calvo.

‘If we can understand another form of intelligence that does not require brains, perhaps we can understand what unites us all in the tree of life. 

‘We need to find the master key.’ 

Calvo is a Professor at the University of Murcia in Spain , where he leads the Minimal Intelligence Lab (MINT Lab)

Calvo is a Professor at the University of Murcia in Spain , where he leads the Minimal Intelligence Lab (MINT Lab)

Calvo is a Professor at the University of Murcia in Spain , where he leads the Minimal Intelligence Lab (MINT Lab) 

Some plants appear to ‘remember’ droughts, conserving water more efficiently than plants who have not lived through droughts previously, and strawberries can be trained to associate light with nutrient patches, said the professor.

He continued to explain that plants also learn to time the release of pollen to when pollinators such as bees are present.

Researchers have also speculated that plants may be able to count, make decisions, recognize their relatives and even remember events.

The problem is that humans have an understanding of intelligence based on themselves – which is centered on animals with brains, and leads us to ignore other possible intelligences and consciousnesses.

‘Our view is you’ve got to be an animal, otherwise you cannot be smart. This is very short sighted,’ said Calvo.

A recent study conducted at Cornell University found that goldenrods emit a chemical when eaten by beetles, tricking the insects into thinking it is damaged and a poor food source – then nearby goldenrods do the same.

Andre Kessler, a chemical ecologist and professor at Cornell, said: ‘This would fit our definition of intelligence.

Wild strawberries can 'learn' to associate light with nutrient patches

Wild strawberries can 'learn' to associate light with nutrient patches

Wild strawberries can ‘learn’ to associate light with nutrient patches

‘Depending on the information it receives from the environment, the plant changes its standard behavior.’

Calvo is among a growing number of scientists who are calling for a new understanding of how plants solve problems and communicate – and said that the way they do so is in many ways similar to how humans ‘think’, just without one central brain.

‘Plant cells fire spikes of voltage in the form of action potentials, just like brain cells. When you touch the trigger hair of Venus Flytrap twice and it snaps shut, it’s an action potential,’ he said.

‘Not having a brain or a nervous system doesn’t mean that you cannot have electrochemical communication!’

Calvo has also suggested that plants ‘think’ using their vascular system, which is a network of cells that transports water, minerals and nutrients to help them grow.

But it’s also used to transmit information, he noted.

A recent study conducted at Cornell University found that goldenrods emit a chemical when eaten by beetles, tricking the insects into thinking it is damaged and a poor food source - then nearby goldenrods do the same

A recent study conducted at Cornell University found that goldenrods emit a chemical when eaten by beetles, tricking the insects into thinking it is damaged and a poor food source - then nearby goldenrods do the same

A recent study conducted at Cornell University found that goldenrods emit a chemical when eaten by beetles, tricking the insects into thinking it is damaged and a poor food source – then nearby goldenrods do the same 

‘Not having a brain or nervous system doesn’t mean you can’t have some form of electrochemical communication,’ the professor continued.

‘You have electrical signals travelling through the vascular system – so your plant is not simply responding where it’s been stimulated, it can respond at the other end of the plant.

‘Plants don’t have a brain but they still make use of electrochemical communication at their own timescale to stay alive.’

Calvo said that the same neurotransmitters present in human brains (such as glutamate or GABA) are also present in plants – and are sometimes used in the same way.

Paco Calvo argues that plants are conscious, but in a very different way

Paco Calvo argues that plants are conscious, but in a very different way

Paco Calvo argues that plants are conscious, but in a very different way 

‘So if you have a plant, and you have this caterpillar munching on the leaf, the plant can use the neurotransmitter glutamate to trigger a calcium wave that spreads throughout its stem and leaves, creating a defensive chemical weapon to repel the caterpillar,’ he explained.

Calvo said that plants have to have a different survival strategy to humans because they are rooted to the soil – so their strategy is to ‘divide and conquer.

‘So if you try to grab or attack an animal, it can fight back,’ he explained.

‘In the case of plants, they cannot do any of that – so their strategy is to have everything truly decentralized.

‘If you chop a branch off, they will grow another branch. That doesn’t happen to me if you chop my arm off.’

Research to understand plant intelligence could be crucial in understanding ourselves and in the battle against climate change.

 ‘We think of plants as resources, for fuel, for oxygen, for textiles, for foods, but we don’t respect them for their own sake,’ said Calvo.

‘If we can understand another form of intelligence that does not require brains, perhaps we can understand what unites us all in the tree of life. We need to find the master key.’

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French women’s rights supporters march against far right ahead of snap polls

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Thousands of people on Sunday rallied in Paris and other cities across France to denounce the far-right National Rally party’s “false feminism” and the “real danger” it poses to women’s rights. The demonstrations came exactly a week before France’s snap parliamentary elections, with polls showing the National Rally and its allies leading the first round of the vote.

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RUTH SUNDERLAND: Can next government win economic growth game?

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  • Rachel Reeves and Sir Keir Starmer say they can balance books through growth 
  • They will need to put rocket fuel under the industries where the UK excels
  • Video games industry does not receive attention it deserves 


Ready for action: Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves

Ready for action: Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves

Ready for action: Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves and Sir Keir Starmer say they can balance the national books without imposing even heavier taxes or cutting public spending: through growth.

If that is to go beyond mere wishful thinking, they will need to put rocket fuel under the industries where the UK excels.

These include the video games industry, which does not receive the attention it deserves. This is quite possibly because many politicians are to be found at the Royal Opera House or the theatre, rather than hunched over a console like some of England’s sub-octane footballers.

The video games industry is worth around £6billion to the economy and is the fastest growing part of the leisure and entertainment sector.

But insiders say there are only two people at the Department of Culture looking after it. Investment is minimal, with just £3m going into the Games Fund to support development as the most recent allocation. The neglect is even less defensible given the potential for levelling up and job creation.

Figures from industry association UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) found it supports 76,000 staff across the UK, with each role creating £113,000 of value, well above the average.

It is a vital part of the creative industries which generate up to 10pc of national income. The hotspots extend far from London with hubs in Dundee, previously known for jam and journalism, and the genteel midlands town of Leamington Spa. The UK video games market is the second largest in Europe and the sixth biggest in the world, so we punch above our weight.

The potential goes well beyond gaming itself. Ukie estimates around £760m from ‘spillover benefits’ into other industries including health, energy, advanced manufacturing, film and TV.

Ashmolean Museum in Oxford teamed up last year with games group Ubisoft. Its interpretation of the palace at Knossos from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was on display along with archaeological finds in an exhibition on the myth of the Labyrinth.

The British Library’s ‘Fantasy’ exhibition is another case in point. Along with the books and manuscripts one would expect were games such as Fallen London, set in a dark alternative Victorian version of the capital.

As this visitor can attest, both these were stunning. If the next government wants to boost growth, ministers need to look at cleverly targeted incentives in the tax system – the UK has fallen behind rival countries in this respect – and also at investing in education. Senior figures are calling for a GCSE in digital creativity, which no doubt will annoy traditionalists but actually would help young people gain skills.

They also want to increase the UK Games Fund, which supports early stage games development, closer to levels in rival nations such as Germany.

The role of regulators is important – and controversial – too. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was last year accused by Microsoft of damaging Britain’s prospects in the sector when it blocked the tech giant’s £60billion takeover of video game maker Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft huffed and puffed that legitimate concerns aired by the CMA about the deal were a ‘disservice to UK citizens who face increasingly dire economic prospects’ though it eventually agreed to changes that meant the takeover went ahead anyway.

Hyperbole aside, we will face dire prospects if the next government fails to support gaming and industries where we have real energy, innovation and talent. We will only win the game if we play to our strengths.

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More than 1,300 people pilgrims died during hajj, say Saudi authorities

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Saudi Arabia said Sunday that more than 1,300 faithful died during the hajj pilgrimage which took place during intense heat, and that most of the deceased did not have official permits.

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Travel experts reveal 5 cities that are perfect for solo travellers, from a 1,500-year-old hotspot with ‘welcoming locals’ to ‘one of the safest countries in South America’

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Travelling alone can be pure joy – as there’s only one person in charge of the itinerary. You.

However, pick the wrong destination and the ‘alone’ part of the deal can suddenly become a problem. Especially if there are safety issues.

So where are the ‘right’ destinations? 

See below. We’ve spoken to travel experts from The Points Guy, Aditi Travel and Travel City for their top tips on the best cities for a solo adventure, from one that’s in the ‘safest country in South America’ to spots where making friends is a breeze thanks to ‘welcoming locals’ and plentiful hostels.

Scroll down for more – and don’t forget to vote in our poll for your favourite solo destination… 

Tbilisi, Georgia

Solo travel expert Helen Youngman recommends the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi (above), for a getaway for one. She says that the 'welcoming locals' are one of many plus points

Solo travel expert Helen Youngman recommends the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi (above), for a getaway for one. She says that the 'welcoming locals' are one of many plus points

Solo travel expert Helen Youngman recommends the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi (above), for a getaway for one. She says that the ‘welcoming locals’ are one of many plus points 

Helen Youngman, who runs solo-travel holiday firm Aditi Travel, recommended 1,500-year-old Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, which stands at the intersection of Europe and Asia.

Helen told MailOnline Travel: ‘Tbilisi is a creative and eclectic city with a historic old town, colourful Ottoman architecture and warm and welcoming locals, which makes it perfect for exploring solo. 

‘Relax in the city’s famous sulphur bathhouses, enjoy wine tasting in cosy basement bars and for a taste of famed Georgian hospitality and cuisine, book a meal at a local family home.

‘Stay at: Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, which is located in a beautifully restored building and is a great base for exploring the vibrant local culture.’

Santiago, Chile

Nicky Kelvin from The Points Guy said Santiago (above) is 'one of the safest countries in South and Latin America' with 'stunning natural scenery' and 'a huge hostel culture'

Nicky Kelvin from The Points Guy said Santiago (above) is 'one of the safest countries in South and Latin America' with 'stunning natural scenery' and 'a huge hostel culture'

Nicky Kelvin from The Points Guy said Santiago (above) is ‘one of the safest countries in South and Latin America’ with ‘stunning natural scenery’ and ‘a huge hostel culture’

Nicky Kelvin, travel expert and Editor at Large at The Points Guy, recommended a hotspot in South America that’s surrounded by the snow-capped Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains – Santiago, the capital of Chile.

Nicky explained to MailOnline: ‘Chile is considered one of the safest countries in South and Latin America, and the capital city has an especially low crime rate. 

‘Once you venture beyond Santiago, you can enjoy skiing in the Andes, trekking in the Atacama desert and even enjoy bicycle wine tastings. 

‘In terms of stunning natural scenery, the wild Chilean landscapes are hard to top. 

‘Plus, the entire country has a huge hostel culture (with both budget and high-end options), making it easy to find new friends. Prefer to stay in town? Santiago has many accessible lookout points, fantastic museums and delicious restaurants, too.’

Berlin, Germany

Nicky recommended Berlin for a solo European city break, noting its 'excellent public transportation, high level of spoken English' and the plentiful hostels

Nicky recommended Berlin for a solo European city break, noting its 'excellent public transportation, high level of spoken English' and the plentiful hostels

Nicky recommended Berlin for a solo European city break, noting its ‘excellent public transportation, high level of spoken English’ and the plentiful hostels 

Travellers who want to explore Europe are spoilt for choice – but Nicky recommends the German capital for those heading out alone. 

He noted: ‘Berlin is a city with a low crime rate, excellent public transportation, a high level of spoken English and progressive vibes that will make pretty much anyone feel at home. 

‘With plenty of hostels and free tours, you’ll be able to easily meet other solo travellers in a low-pressure environment. 

‘Berlin also has a fantastic public art trail, so wandering the city on foot is especially easy – and entertaining.’

Melbourne, Australia

Lee Dobson, co-founder of Travel City, suggested Melbourne, because it has a 'vibrant cultural scene, diverse neighbourhoods, and welcoming locals'. Above - Melbourne Flinders Street railway station

Lee Dobson, co-founder of Travel City, suggested Melbourne, because it has a 'vibrant cultural scene, diverse neighbourhoods, and welcoming locals'. Above - Melbourne Flinders Street railway station

Lee Dobson, co-founder of Travel City, suggested Melbourne, because it has a ‘vibrant cultural scene, diverse neighbourhoods, and welcoming locals’. Above – Melbourne Flinders Street railway station

Lee Dobson, co-founder of Travel City, which offers reviews and suggestions about where to go, recommended holidaymakers venture down under.

He told MailOnline: ‘Melbourne stands out as a great city break for solo travellers due to its vibrant cultural scene, diverse neighbourhoods, and welcoming locals. 

‘The city is known for its street art, coffee culture, and numerous festivals. Solo travellers can visit the National Gallery of Victoria, explore the laneways filled with unique shops and cafes, and relax in the Royal Botanic Gardens. 

‘Melbourne’s extensive tram network makes it easy to get around. The city is also a gateway to natural attractions like the Great Ocean Road and the Yarra Valley – perfect for day trips.’

Taipei, Taiwan

Nicky Kelvin recommended Taipei for solo holidaymakers, noting that it's 'right up there with Japan in terms of safety' but 'much cheaper' than Tokyo. Above - Taipei's National Concert Hall in Liberty Square

Nicky Kelvin recommended Taipei for solo holidaymakers, noting that it's 'right up there with Japan in terms of safety' but 'much cheaper' than Tokyo. Above - Taipei's National Concert Hall in Liberty Square

Nicky Kelvin recommended Taipei for solo holidaymakers, noting that it’s ‘right up there with Japan in terms of safety’ but ‘much cheaper’ than Tokyo. Above – Taipei’s National Concert Hall in Liberty Square

The Points Guy’s Nicky suggested that solo travellers who want to explore Asia should venture to Taiwan, an island country off the east coast of China.

And while there, he recommended making a beeline for Taipei. 

He explained: ‘Taiwan is right up there with Japan in terms of safety – and [capital city] Taipei is much cheaper for a solo traveller to visit than Tokyo. 

‘With an immense offering of budget and boutique properties, as well as large brand hotels that are also well-priced (think Kimpton and Hilton), solo travellers are spoiled for choice when it comes to lodging options. 

‘Free walking tours are offered in many neighbourhoods and are an excellent way to link up with like-minded travellers, as are street food tours. 

‘An additional bonus: Taipei’s metro system is clean, organised and safe. It even plays classical music when the trains approach.’

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Netanyahu says Rafah ‘intense’ fighting phase ending, but Gaza war will continue

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the Israeli military’s heavy fighting against Hamas militants in the southern Gaza city of Rafah is nearly over. 

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My son died of a heroin overdose- here’s what I wish I knew and how you can save your own child

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If it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours.

That’s what a New Jersey mother told DailyMail.com she wants other parents to know after her 25-year-old son died of a heroin overdose on Mother’s Day. 

Patricia Roos’ son Alex was found dead on the street in Newark, New Jersey, 20 miles from their house, succumbing to his three-year-long battle with drug addiction that saw him through 12 stints in rehab and four stays in sober living houses. 

Like thousands of other victims of the opioid epidemic, Alex came from a good family. He was born to two sociologists who settled into a pleasant middle-class life in New Jersey. He was athletic and smart, and he received a college degree in biology.

Mrs Roos spoke with DailyMail.com about the signs she wished she’d known to look for that could have saved her only child in the hope of saving other families from a similarly devastating experience.

Alex Roos died of a heroin overdose at age 25 in 2015. His drug use skyrocketed during the summer after college graduation

Alex Roos died of a heroin overdose at age 25 in 2015. His drug use skyrocketed during the summer after college graduation

Alex Roos died of a heroin overdose at age 25 in 2015. His drug use skyrocketed during the summer after college graduation

Alex was a varsity athlete in baseball. He was sensitive, loved music – especially electronic dance music – and was particularly close with his grandma, whose passing Mrs Roos is sure had a major influence on his drug use during the first summer home from college. 

He had plans to go back to school at Rutgers University to complete a masters degree in business, but those crumbled as his drug use continued.  

Just a few days within his return to New Jersey in May 2015, after years spent hopping from rehab to rehab in Florida, Alex was set to go to his 13th recovery center. Instead, he was found dead in a vacant lot frequented by heroin users. 

Over his multi-year battle against heroin addiction, his longest period of sobriety was about five months. But every time he would relapse ‘it became more and more horrific,’ Mrs Roos said. 

‘On his 25th birthday, we had to get the door unlocked and go in and I thought he was brain dead, because he was breathing very heavily and gray stuff oozing out of his mouth, she told this website, adding: ‘He was brought back multiple times [with] Narcan and the final time was what would have been his 13th rehab and he refused entry.’ 

Mrs Roos knows her situation is not unique and she channeled her grief into advocacy and writing, eventually publishing a book about her experience and flaws in the recovery care infrastructure called Surviving Alex: A Mother’s Story of Love, Loss, and Addiction.

She told DailyMail.com: ‘Every day when I sat down to write I thought I’m writing for people like me who are going through this because I want them to know that I hear them. They’re not alone.

‘I want people to know that if it happened to my family, it can happen to any family, right? Because I think that people don’t think it can happen to them. And it can.’

In her book and speaking to this website, she revealed signs other parents can look out for before it’s too late to help their own child.  

Struggling with anxiety or other mental health conditions

Alex was about 12 years old when he was first hospitalized, but it wasn’t for substance use or depression. He spent more than two months in the hospital being treated for anorexia.

Mrs Roos said: ‘And that’s when we began to realize his levels of anxiety. Prior to that time, we were just a normal family. We did all those things that normal families do. 

‘Lots of neighbors hanging out in the backyard, the kids did plays, quintessential summers hanging out with your friends and barbecuing, and so forth.

‘In seventh grade, he talked about having two classes on the obesity epidemic and having read about anorexia… He asked his dad, how do I get a six-pack and his father said you exercise and no more hamburgers. So, he really took that to an extreme.’

Anorexia and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. The process of eating becomes an obsession, and the fear of gaining weight takes over. The disorder manifests as micromanaging all of the food someone takes in as a means to exert control over their own lives and combat the fear of losing control, also known as anxiety.

Alex became increasingly isolated in his years of active addiction and often snuck around and went missing for days on end

Alex became increasingly isolated in his years of active addiction and often snuck around and went missing for days on end

Alex became increasingly isolated in his years of active addiction and often snuck around and went missing for days on end

About one in three people who have an eating disorder are male. Males account for about 20 percent of anorexia sufferers and 30 percent of bulimia sufferers. 

Similarly, substance use disorder and anxiety often occur side by side. A sweeping study reflecting data from more than 43,000 Americans found generalized anxiety disorder was the anxiety disorder most often associated with using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.

Mrs Roos said: ‘You think about the psychological kind of factors that are systemic – depression or anxiety – but there’s also socio-economic, systemic factors, poverty, unemployment, incarceration, racism. All of these are the contexts in which people live.

‘So what is the message that I would give to parents who are worried about this? The first thing you have to do is that you have to evaluate the risk. So, what are the psychological factors? 

‘Do you have psychological issues in your family, in your extended family? Do you have alcoholism in your family or extended family? And that enables you to sort of better evaluate the risks that you face.

‘It’s important to understand that young people mostly take drugs to self-medicate, right? And Alex’s case, it’s exactly what was going on, and we saw it back when he had anorexia.’

The recent National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions found nearly 18 percent of people with substance use disorder met the criteria for an anxiety disorder as well. 

A separate study by Yale researchers found anxiety disorders tend to precede the onset of alcohol abuse disorder and they co-exist. In 57 to 80 percent of cases where people had both an anxiety disorder and alcohol use disorder, the anxiety appeared first. 

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And in at least 67 percent of cases where people had both anxiety and a drug use disorder, the anxiety disorder came on first. 

The rehab programs that Alex attended were mostly 12-step programs that discourage the use of any mind-altering substances, including anxiety medications. 

While he was not prescribed them consistently during his years of active addiction, Mrs Roos said at one point he was able to secure three months’ worth of Xanax and Ambien from a doctor at an urgent care clinic. 

Sneaking around

Alex’s mom said her son began to exhibit ‘sneaky’ behavior after he was released from the hospital. It started with him secretly drinking while attending his Metuchen, New Jersey high school and it continued through college. 

And like many drug or alcohol abusers, Alex was good at hiding it.

Mrs Roos told DailyMail.com: ‘Soon after he came out of the hospital, he started drinking surreptitiously, and we didn’t know how much he was drinking. But… in high school, it was a little bit more problematic. And in college, it became much more problematic.’

The summer after his 2012 college graduation was marked by a series of deaths in the family, ratcheting up Alex’s anxiety and depression.

His mom added: ‘When Alex graduated from college in 2012… he just really got into drugs. [In] 2013 was the first time that he overdosed, and we had to take the door off its hinge to find him, overdosed with heroin.’

Being sneaky doesn’t have to mean denying using a drug at all. A person who uses drugs compulsively may lie and say drugs are an occasional indulgence.

It’s also not unusual for compulsive drug users to sneak away for days at a time.

Before Alex’s fatal overdose, he hadn’t been in contact with his family for six days, and that wasn’t the first time.

Drug use is often a solitary activity, and that became even more true during the Covid pandemic.

People often turn to restrooms to inject drugs, and Mrs Roos said parents should pay attention to how often and for how long your child is in the bathroom.

She said: ‘It’s important to watch for if kids start isolating themselves, begin to lose friends, if they spend a lot of time in the bathroom because a lot of drug taking happens in bathrooms because that’s one of the few places where I think people find some privacy that they need.’

Patricia Roos (pictured right next to Alex and her husband, left] said Alex was a happy, athletic child with a 'wicked sense of humor'

Patricia Roos (pictured right next to Alex and her husband, left] said Alex was a happy, athletic child with a 'wicked sense of humor'

Patricia Roos (pictured right next to Alex and her husband, left] said Alex was a happy, athletic child with a ‘wicked sense of humor’

Selling belongings

Drugs are not free, and to an addict securing them becomes more important than securing food or a place to live. For drug users without disposable income, that often requires selling valuable belongings.

It can also require stealing from family in order to turn anything from heirlooms to silverware for a profit. 

According to Mrs Roos, Alex begged at a local train station and sold ‘lots of different things’ to fuel his addiction.  

Mrs Roos told this website: ‘We put into a safety deposit box our rings because we didn’t want him to get those and sell those. And he was aware of all of this.

‘I remember having lunch with him and he said, “Oh, you’re not wearing your rings.” And I said, “Yeah, we put them in the safety deposit box.” And he said, “because of me?” and I said “yeah,” and he just felt horrible.’

Part of heroin’s appeal, as well as that of fentanyl and other opioids sold on the street, is that they’re not very expensive. A bag of heroin costs about $5 and prices remain low because of inexpensive and plentiful fentanyl. 

Fentanyl and other illicit opioids are being rapidly massed produced, largely from China through Mexico, as well as in smaller clandestine US labs. 

Efforts to block fentanyl from hitting the streets are taking on a whack-a-mole quality, with drug makers increasingly making ever-more fatal fentanyl analogues. 

And there is little indication the deluge of illicit drugs on US city streets is slowing. 

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Gunmen in Russia’s Dagestan attack churches, synagogue and police post

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Gunmen on Sunday attacked synagogues and churches in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Dagestan, killing a priest, six police officers, and a member of the national guard, security officials said. 

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International

Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark arrive for hotly-anticipated WNBA showdown with Sky rookie rocking eye-catching ensemble

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Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark have arrived in Chicago. 

The rookies were photographed in the tunnel at Wintrust Arena Sunday afternoon ahead of the Indiana Fever’s third showdown against the Chicago Sky. 

Reese turned heads in a barely-there ensemble, including a brown lace-up top and matching mini skirt. 

She added a pair of distressed, knee-high boots, a white handbag and several gold bangles on her wrist. 

Meanwhile, Clark showcased her ongoing partnership with Prada by stepping out in polo style shirt-dress from the Italian luxury fashion house. 

Angel Reese arrived in Chicago in a barely-there top and a matching ultra mini skirt

Angel Reese arrived in Chicago in a barely-there top and a matching ultra mini skirt

Angel Reese arrived in Chicago in a barely-there top and a matching ultra mini skirt

Caitlin Clark showcased her ongoing partnership with Prada in a shirt-dress from the designer

Caitlin Clark showcased her ongoing partnership with Prada in a shirt-dress from the designer

Caitlin Clark showcased her ongoing partnership with Prada in a shirt-dress from the designer

She accessorized the forest green dress by adding a brown belt around her waist, and a gold watch on her wrist. 

The Iowa alum also donned a pair of black loafers with matching socks and a black handbag from the brand. 

The pair’s highly-anticipated showdown comes a couple of days after the Indiana superstar insisted she and Reese do not have a ‘rivalry’ amid controversy surrounding their recent battles on the court. 

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