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Nottingham Forest 0-0 Brentford – Premier League LIVE: Taiwo Awoniyi has have an early goal disallowed for hosts due to offside following a VAR check in Sunday’s sole top-flight encounter

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Follow Mail Sport’s live blog for the latest scores, team news and updates from the City Ground where Nottingham Forest host Brentford in Premier League action.

Murillo impressing in Premier League debut

A nice piece of skills from summer signing Murillo who appears entirely comfortable as he ventures forward from defence in his first Premier League start despite his lack of experience.

We’re back underway!

The hosts get us back underway for the second-half.

Forest failed to capitalise on their early dominance and it was a rather dreary affair for much of the first 45 minutes, but here’s hoping Brentford’s late chance is glimpse of the kind of action we can expect going forward.

For the time being it’s still 0-0 at the City Ground in this afternoon’s only Premier League fixture.

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Hudson-Odoi wins a free-kick

Hudson-Odoi is brought down by Ajer giving Forest the opporunity to create a chance from a set-piece.

The former England international whips towards Awoniyi but the striker is unable to connect with the cross and Brentford will be relieved to see the ball go out for a goal kick.

Two minutes of stoppage time added on in what has been a largely uneventful first half barring Awoniyi’s disallowed goal.

Hickey denies Elanga

Despite his early booking Hickey has proven to be the equal of Elanga on the right flank, with the Scottish defender producing a solid challenge after the former Man United star had skipped past two of his teammates.

Brentford are growing into the game

Forest’s early dominance seems to have subsided here with Brentford seeing a lot more of the ball then they did during the early stages of the game.

Solid chances remain seemingly hard to come by for both teams however, with both sides yet to register a shot on target with the interval approaching.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Nottingham Forest v Brentford - The City Ground, Nottingham, Britain - October 1, 2023 Nottingham Forest's Nicolas Dominguez in action with Brentford's Mathias Jensen Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR 'LIVE' SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.

Moussa Niakhate booked

Forest have their first yellow card of the afternoon after Niakhate is booked for bring down Jensen on Brentford’s right flank.

The free-kick is whipped in with pace but Murillo is again on hand to deny Brentford a goalscoring opportunity as he heads the ball out for a corner.

Mbeumo’s corner finds Ajer but he is unable to hit the target.

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Chance for Lewis-Potter

That’s better from Brentford.

Lewis-Potter finds himself running onto a through ball in the Forest box but 21-year-old debutant Murillo does well to deny him a shooting opportunity and the ball goes out for the first Brentford corner of the afternoon.

The ensuing corner fails to meet its target and Forest clear their lines.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Nottingham Forest v Brentford - The City Ground, Nottingham, Britain - October 1, 2023 Nottingham Forest's Serge Aurier in action with Brentford's Vitaly Janelt and Keane Lewis-Potter Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR 'LIVE' SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.

Chance for Elanga

Brentford’s only real chances as we reach the halfway point of the first half have been attempting to pressure Turner when the hosts play the ball back to the Arsenal goalkeeper.

Elanga again had an opporunity to put his side in front but was unable to keep his strike on target as we remain goalless.

Fans are in good voice

Brentford are second best across the park at the moment with Forest controlling possession in the early going and the crowd are in good voice supporting them at the City Ground.

A strong ball in from Sangare is denied but Forest recover the ball in the visitors’ half and continue recyling possession with Elanga at the heart of all of their attacking moves thus far.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Nottingham Forest v Brentford - The City Ground, Nottingham, Britain - October 1, 2023 Nottingham Forest's Ibrahim Sangare in action with Brentford's Yoane Wissa and Christian Norgaard REUTERS/Chris Radburn NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR 'LIVE' SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.

Forest in control so far

Great feet from Hudson-Odoi as he moves inside from the left flank but the former Chelsea star’s switch is unable to find Elanga.

Forest have comfortably been the better side during this early period but can they press their advantage and take the lead?

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Goal disallowed – Taiwo Awoniyi (Offside)

A strong throw from turner finds Elanga in acres of space at the half-way line. The Swede bombs forward and manages to win Forest their first corner of the game.

The corner is whipped in and Awoniyi latches onto a header at the back post and the ball is in the wet!

But the assistant’s flag is up and Forest are denied an early lead after consultation from VAR.

Nottingham Forest's Nigerian striker #09 Taiwo Awoniyi scores but the goal is cancelled due to an offside position during the English Premier League football match between Nottingham Forest and Brentford at The City Ground in Nottingham, central England, on October 1, 2023. (Photo by Darren Staples / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by DARREN STAPLES/AFP via Getty Images)

Awoniyi gets his first chance

Awoniyi attempts to get on the end of a long ball but Flekken responds quickly to stifle the attack from the hosts.

Brentford then launch an attack of their own but Lewis-Potter is unable to deliver his cross to the intended target.

Aaron Hickey booked early

Brentford are pressing high up the pitch in the early going, with Turner put under pressure from the off.

The American deals with the press well though, and as he kicks the ball downfield Hickey is booked for bringing down Elanga.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Nottingham Forest v Brentford - The City Ground, Nottingham, Britain - October 1, 2023 Nottingham Forest's Anthony Elanga in action with Brentford's Aaron Hickey Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR 'LIVE' SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.

We’re off!

After a moment of silence to pay tribute to the recently deceased former Forest academy player Maddy Cusack the action gets underway at the City Ground.

Kick-off is just five minutes away!

Stay tuned for live updates from the City Ground with kick-off in the Premier League clash between Nottingham Forest and Brentford just five minutes away.

The fallout from the officiating controversy from Saturday’s clash between Tottenham and Liverpool continues to be felt today.

Darren England was on VAR duty at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where he incorrectly assumed the original decision for Luis Diaz’s first-half finish had been for the goal to stand, with the mixup leading to the Reds being denied a legitmate opener.

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PGMOL offered an apology to Liverpool following the incident and England, who had initially been set to serve as fourth official for today’s match, has been replaced by Craig Pawson.

CLICK BELOW TO READ MORE:

Brentford form guide

Having comfortably survived the drop in the club’s first season in the Premier League, Thomas Frank went one better in 2022-23 by guiding the club to a commendable 9th-placed finish.

The loss of last season’s top scorer Ivan Toney until January through suspension will no doubt have weaked the clubs offensive options but the Bees have once again enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular start to the campaign.

The Bees were undefeated in their first four Premier League outings but have since lost two on the bounce with Everton getting their first win of the season at the Gtech Community Stadium last weekend.

Last five games: W D D L L

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Nottingham Forest form guide

After guiding Forest to Premier League safety in their return to the top flight last season, Steve Cooper again brought in several new additions throughout the summer in a bid to strengthen his squad.

Though they experienced several slumps in form, Forest recovered well during the run in and have continued their decent form into the current campaign.

An opening weekend defeat to Arsenal was followed up by a win over newly-promoted Sheffield United and a narrow defeat to Man United. The club followed that up with a win over Chelsea, draw with Burnley before being defeated by Man City last weekend.

Last five games: W L W D L

Nottingham Forest team news

Good afternoon…

… and welcome to Sportsmail’s coverage of this afternoon’s clash between Nottingham Forest and Brentford.

We’ll have all the news and updates ahead of 2pm’s kick-off at the City Ground.

Key Updates
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  • HALF-TIME: Nottingham Forest 0-0 Brentford

  • Goal disallowed – Taiwo Awoniyi (Offside)

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International

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi looks to extend iron-fisted rule after ten years in power

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Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is the front-runner in Egypt’s upcoming presidential election which will be held from December 10-12. Despite being marked by a widespread crackdown on dissent and a weak economic and security record, the former army chief’s ten-year rule may be extended until 2030. It’s an outcome that many believe is already written in stone.

It has been more than ten years since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, and he is still ruling the country with an iron fist.

Sisi’s opponents and supporters alike are convinced that he will win this year’s presidential election, set to take place from December 10-12. His victories in 2014 and 2018 saw him win over 96% of the vote, a track record that leaves little room for doubt on what is likely to happen this time around.

Another victory would see the former army chief hold on to power until 2030. Running for a third term was made possible when Sisi himself amended the Egyptian constitution in 2019, extending the presidential term from four years to six.

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Rising in the ranks – all the way to the presidency

Born in Cairo in November 1954, Sisi was one of fourteen children raised in a conservative household. Son of a shopkeeper, he decided to pursue a military career at an early age, climbing the social ladder in a country ruled by the army. Spending much of his life out of the public eye, Sisi achieved prominence by becoming chief of staff of the Egyptian army and minister of defence in 2012.

The surprise promotion was granted by President Morsi, the first Egyptian head of state to be democratically elected, just over a year after former Hosni Mubarak was ousted in the Arab Spring. At the time, Sisi was portrayed by the media as a pious Muslim compatible with the movement from which Morsi hailed, the Muslim Brotherhood. The reputation was largely built on Sisi’s family ties with Abbas Sisi, a disciple of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Islamist group.

But Sisi’s rapid rise to power within the army would not have been possible if his close ties to the Brotherhood, under scrutiny by the Mubarak regime, gave rise to the slightest doubt.  

Former President Mohamed Morsi (R) meets with newly-appointed Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) at the presidential palace in Cairo on August 13, 2012.
Former President Mohamed Morsi (R) meets with newly-appointed Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) at the presidential palace in Cairo on August 13, 2012. © Egyptian presidency, AFP

Partly trained in the UK and the US, Sisi became a commander of the northern Egyptian military zone before moving up the ranks to take over as director of military intelligence and quickly established himself as the country’s strongman. In the aftermath of the mass uprisings that saw millions of Egyptians demand the immediate resignation of Morsi in early July 2013, Sisi issued an ultimatum to the former president and his cabinet. Without explicitly calling for Morsi to step down, he called on Egypt’s politicians to “meet the demands of the people” within 48 hours.  

If Morsi refused, the armed forces (who were already in charge of the post-Mubarak transition) would be forced to “announce a roadmap for the future” and put an end to the revolution that had been boiling since 2011.

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The Islamist president was deposed, arrested and imprisoned shortly after. But the bloody repression of protesters, many of whom supported the Muslim Brotherhood, would not be forgotten. Human Rights Watch described the widespread killing of demonstrators at the time a probable “crime against humanity”.  

Morsi died in 2019 after collapsing in a Cairo court where he was attending a session in his trial.

Regarded by his admirers as humble and skilful – by his detractors as distrustful and suspicious – Sisi left his military uniform behind for the suit and tie of de facto presidency.  

For Egyptians opposed to the political Islam embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi had saved the country from its grips.

Repression left, right and centre

Since Sisi’s sweeping victory in the May 2014 presidential election, opponents as well as local and international NGOs have accused the leader of wanting to return to an autocratic regime. They say that since he came into power, “repression has been reaching unprecedented levels”.  

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In a report published on October 2, six international and local human rights organisations called out the “widespread and systematic use of torture” by Egyptian authorities that amount to what they consider “a crime against humanity under customary international law”.

Running parallel to his repressive political stranglehold, Sisi also launched a series of gargantuan projects aimed at extolling the greatness of Egypt and flattering the nationalist sentiments of his compatriots.

T-shirts, many depicting Sisi, are on display in Tahrir Square in Cairo on January 25, 2014.
T-shirts, many depicting Sisi, shown on display in Tahrir Square in Cairo on January 25, 2014. © Amr Nabil, AP archive

Amid these ambitious undertakings was the modernisation of the country’s roads and electricity infrastructure, as well as the construction of a new administrative capital located in the desert about 50km from Cairo. Ironically nicknamed “Sisi City”, construction was due to be completed in 2020 but is still in its first phase.

In August 2015, the president unveiled a plan for a giant expansion of the Suez Canal – another flagship project intended to symbolise a “new Egypt”. Costing some €7.9 billion, the project was completed on time in less than a year.

The new Suez Canal brought in netted record revenues of around €8.6 billion between 2022 and 2023, leading Sisi to promise prosperity and security for all Egyptians.  

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But in a country plagued by an unprecedented economic crisis and at risk of defaulting on its foreign debt, that is not an easy promise to keep.

Egypt relies heavily on revenues from Ukrainian and Russian tourists, so when the war broke out in February 2022, its economy was hit hard. The number of yearly tourists from both countries plummeted from 35 to 40 percent, according to local figures. Egypt is also the world’s leading importer of wheat. When prices soared as a result of the war, the country’s economy bore the brunt.

In the ten years Sisi has been in power, Egypt and its 105 million inhabitants – largely reliant on Saudi Arabian money – have been plagued by poverty.

A key ally for the West

Despite his shortcomings, Sisi is still seen as a guarantor of stability and security in the region by many international leaders. Turning a blind eye to his human rights abuses, the West sees him as a key ally in what they consider an otherwise chaotic Middle East.

This is even more the case since Hamas’s bloody attacks on Israel on October 7 and Israel’s ensuing invasion of the Gaza Strip. During the week-long ceasefire in Gaza fom November 24-30, hostages held by Hamas were directed south of the enclave to Egypt. The Rafah crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt is also where humanitarian aid is transported into the Palestinian territory.

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Read moreThe Gaza-Egypt Rafah crossing explained: ‘It is not a normal border’

Back in 2014, the pragmatic Sisi kept a low profile when the West protested his coup de force to seize power. The US and Europe didn’t congratulate him after his election victory, though they did stress the need to get back to respecting human rights as soon as possible.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Sisi in 2015.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Sisi in 2015. © Alexei Druzhinin, AFP

In response, Sisi sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In November 2014, a month after the US froze military and financial aid to Egypt, the Kremlin announced it would deliver air defence systems to the country and said talks to deliver military aircraft were under way.

A shrewd strategist, Sisi knows that the West cannot turn its back on the most populated Arab country for too long. Egypt is both a strategic intermediary in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a key ally in the fight against terrorism.

The fight against Islamic militants has moved the cursor for how world leaders see Sisi, especially in the case of the US. After years of strained ties under the Obama administration, former US President Donald Trump congratulated the Egyptian leader in 2016. “I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt,” Trump said during Sisi’s first official visit to the US in April, 2017.

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When Sisi visited France in October of 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron claimed he did not want to “lecture” his Egyptian counterpart on human rights. 

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Elysee Palace in Paris on July 22, 2022.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Elysee Palace in Paris on July 22, 2022. © Reuters, Pascal Rossignol

Between 2010 and 2019, Egypt imported French weapons worth €7.7 billion, according the parliament.

Securing the Sinai, another empty promise

Like his military predecessors, Sisi is obsessed with acquiring modern weaponry and securing his borders. This is increasingly the case as his neighbours – Libya, Sudan, Israel and the Gaza Strip – are all affected by ongoing conflict.

For years, Egypt has been battling a jihadist insurgency in its Sinai region, a peninsula located in the northeast of the country. According to the opposition, this ongoing threat to Egypt’s internal security is being instrumentalised by authorities to restrict civil liberties.

In 2018, Sisi launched a vast “anti-terrorist” operation in the areas where Islamist radicals are rife – some of whom have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, but so far in vain. The Sinai is still a security headache for Sisi, who stands behind yet another empty promise.

This article is a translated version of the original in French. 

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I’m the former Microsoft VP of HR –  January is the busiest month for job cuts so here are my six must-dos within 48 hours of being laid off

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Layoffs can strike anytime, but January is historically the busiest month for job cuts across all industries due to companies restructuring for the new year.

With the month just a few weeks away, a former Microsoft vice president of human resources (HR) shared six things people must do within 48 hours of being terminated.

Chris Williams, who worked at Microsoft from 1992 through 2000, now uses his more than 40 years of experience in building and leading teams is an advisor for people who were laid off or conducted layoffs.

He urges people to thoroughly read through their layoff packages before agreeing to sign anything and consult a lawyer if they’re considering taking legal action. 

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Williams also suggests updating your resume and LinkedIn page immediately to put yourself in a better position to land your next job quickly. 

Layoffs affected roughly 15.2 million people in the U.S. last year, and Chris Williams suggests there are certain steps employees can take in the 48 hours after they're laid off

Layoffs affected roughly 15.2 million people in the U.S. last year, and Chris Williams suggests there are certain steps employees can take in the 48 hours after they're laid off

Layoffs affected roughly 15.2 million people in the U.S. last year, and Chris Williams suggests there are certain steps employees can take in the 48 hours after they’re laid off

Williams lists the important steps to take in the first 48 hours after a layoff in a Business Insider op-ed, even as companies take the wrong approach to mass layoffs.

‘In the last few years, even the last few weeks, we’ve seen a parade of companies handle layoffs with process and timing that verges on cruelty,’ Williams said in the op-ed.

‘Layoffs s*ck… pure and simple,’ Williams said in a YouTube video, adding, ‘But they don’t have to s*ck as badly as some companies make them.’

In the op-ed, Williams provided the following six steps to help people survive being laid off.

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Really read through the layoff documents 

Immediately after a layoff, HR will send numerous documents with sometimes confusing legal jargon, including information about when your termination begins, if you will receive severance, how long your healthcare will continue after the layoff date, and more.

The documents will likely need to be signed and returned as soon as possible, which is to the company’s advantage because it enables them to move on quickly.

However, Williams has warned that signing the documents right away is the opposite of what laid-off employees should do.

‘It’s in the company’s interest to get this over instantly, get you out, close your file, and move on. That saves them time, money, and drama,’ he wrote.

Instead, laid-off employees should tell HR they ‘need time to understand this all’ and take it home to read thoroughly because once signed, it is binding.

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Consider challenging the decision 

You should consider pushing back against management if you have any leverage, such as being part of a protected class like age, medical conditions, gender, or others, Williams advised.

By using this leverage, laid-off employees might get a better severance package than they were offered, from extended benefits to a more significant severance –  but employees should not expect this to reverse the company’s layoff decision, Williams shared.

‘Make the case not on sympathy, but on business terms… some case that speaks business and money, not heartstrings,’ he wrote.

Williams included examples like telling the company you need to organize and document your work, you have a medical need that requires extended health coverage, or you work in a specialized field that will take longer to find a new job. 

Look Into Your Legal Options

Consult with a lawyer to discuss if you have a case against the company for wrongful termination, if it's something you're considering

Consult with a lawyer to discuss if you have a case against the company for wrongful termination, if it's something you're considering

Consult with a lawyer to discuss if you have a case against the company for wrongful termination, if it’s something you’re considering

Having a lawyer review your severance documents and provide feedback on whether you can build a case against the company for wrongful termination is essential.

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This could apply to those in a protected class, or if you believe the layoff is due to a complaint you raised, but when speaking with a lawyer, it’s important to make sure they don’t charge fees upfront.

Williams urges people to speak with someone who only charges a settlement fee in case they won’t take your case or say there isn’t a likelihood of success.

‘Talk to a lawyer if you’re even thinking about it,’ he wrote. ‘Here too, the worst they can say is ‘no.” 

Update your resume and LinkedIn page

Laid-off employees should update their resume and LinkedIn page as soon as possible to start looking for their next job opportunity

Laid-off employees should update their resume and LinkedIn page as soon as possible to start looking for their next job opportunity

Laid-off employees should update their resume and LinkedIn page as soon as possible to start looking for their next job opportunity

Once you’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s, it’s time to look toward the future and update your resume and LinkedIn.

Your resume should spotlight your latest job and experience, highlighting what makes you the best candidate for future roles, Williams shared.

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Include your last position, titles, and any major accomplishments – If you aren’t sure what this should entail, there are online sources to help you build a strong resume. 

Likewise, if you haven’t been keeping your LinkedIn page up-to-date, now is the time, but don’t pay for third parties to help, Williams wrote, instead conveying plenty of people offering this information for free.

‘Don’t spend hundreds of your precious dollars, no matter how desperate you feel,’ he wrote. 

‘Their advice will be from their well-worn playbook and probably won’t represent you as well as you can represent yourself.’

Keep it low key when mentioning your layoff online

Although the ink has barely dried on your layoff severance documents, it is time to decide if you want to share up front that you were laid off.

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You can choose to keep it quiet and change when you leave your job, but if you decide to be transparent, Williams wrote the best option is to remain modest.

This option requires only a few sentences explaining you were part of the layoffs at the company, adding: ‘I enjoyed my time there and look forward to my next adventure.’

Williams warned you should never post something criticizing the company and share all the drama that led up to the layoffs, which is more appropriate for discussing with a friend over drinks.

‘I strongly recommend against this kind of post. You’re burning the bridges behind you,’ Williams wrote. 

The shrapnel will damage people you might use as connections or references.

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‘Worse, you’re telling any potential future employers that you’re prone to drama.

‘You don’t handle adversity well and often do so publicly.’

The takeaway: Keep it simple. Keep it kind. 

Networking is key

Meet with someone you know over a cup of coffee to catch up and discuss possible job opportunities

Meet with someone you know over a cup of coffee to catch up and discuss possible job opportunities

Meet with someone you know over a cup of coffee to catch up and discuss possible job opportunities

Getting a new job can come from posting an Open to Work notice on your LinkedIn or applying directly for a position, but ‘the very best hires are made through connections,’ according to Williams.

You might be surprised how many people you know are ideally placed to open the door to you for an interview and can sing your praises to a hiring manager by doing so.

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Williams advised to connect with as many people as you can, one-on-one, over a cup of coffee or a Zoom call, adding: ‘Connect with everyone you know who might have knowledge of an open position.’

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French activists urge Biarritz district to drop ‘racist’ name

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Activists on Thursday petitioned a French court to change the name of a neighbourhood and street in the seaside resort town of Biarritz over its racist connotations.

Issued on:

1 min

One of the southwestern town’s districts has been officially called “The Negress” since 1861, while a road has been called “Negress Street” since 1986.

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Anti-racism association Memoires et Partages (Memory and Sharing) says Napoleonic soldiers gave the district the nickname after a former enslaved woman who worked in an inn there.

The group says the words “negro” and “negress” were used “to designate a black person deprived of their humanity, the only way for European societies to render their enslavement morally acceptable”.

“The terms thus carry the mark of a crime against humanity that saw millions of Africans deported so they could work as slaves in colonial plantations,” it said.

Instead the association called for the neighbourhood to retake its old name of Harausta, which means “dusty quarter” in the regional Basque language.

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Memoires et Partages asked the mayor’s office to change the names in 2020, but that request was rejected.

It filed a case with the administrative court in the nearby city of Pau on Thursday, and is expecting a ruling within the next fortnight.

A magistrate who examined the claim on Thursday morning gave a non-binding opinion that the word had indeed become “derogatory” but that the mayor’s office was within its rights to reject the request.

William Bourdon, the lawyer for the association, deplored what he called the “normalisation of a racist stereotype”.

Pierre Cambot, a lawyer for the mayor’s office, said it was more of a “semantic slip”.

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“It was never the intention to humiliate anyone, but rather to pay tribute to this woman,” he said.

If the court rules against the association, it has said it will take its complaint to France’s top administrative court.

French ships played a big role in the transatlantic slave trade, especially through its western port city of Nantes, until the abolition of slavery in 1848.

In 2001, France became the first country to recognise slavery and the slave trade as “crimes against humanity”.

(AFP)

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Nationwide slashes mortgage rates AGAIN: Cheapest deal on the market is now 4.29%

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Nationwide has reduced its mortgage rates once again, bringing the cheapest deal on the market down to 4.29 per cent. 

Britain’s biggest building society has today sent ripples across the mortgage market after it announced its eleventh consecutive round of rate cuts in four months.

It means the best rates available are now almost 1 per cent lower than the Bank of England base rate. 

Nationwide will be reducing rates by up to 0.31 percentage points across its two, three and five-year fixed rate product range from tomorrow.

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Mortgage shake up: Britain's biggest building society has today sent ripples across the mortgage market after it announced its eleventh consecutive round of rate cuts

Mortgage shake up: Britain's biggest building society has today sent ripples across the mortgage market after it announced its eleventh consecutive round of rate cuts

Mortgage shake up: Britain’s biggest building society has today sent ripples across the mortgage market after it announced its eleventh consecutive round of rate cuts

Henry Jordan, a director at Nationwide, said: ‘In a continually moving market, we always aim to remain competitive across the board for first-time buyers, home movers and those looking to remortgage.’

From tomorrow, someone moving home with a 40 per cent deposit could be eligible for Nationwide’s 4.29 per cent five-year fix, which comes with a £999 fee.

A buyer securing this deal on a £200,000 mortgage being repaid over 25 years could expect to pay £1,088 a month. 

For those wishing to fix for two years when they move home, Nationwide is also offering a market leading 4.65 per cent rate, with a £999 fee.

First-time buyers also stand to benefit. Nationwide’s cheapest five-year fix aimed at them is now 4.34 per cent – but only if they have a minimum 40 per cent deposit.

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However, even first-time buyers with at least a 25 per cent deposit can now get a rate of 4.85 per cent when fixing for two years with Nationwide. 

> Get the best rate for your circumstances with This is Money’s mortgage finder 

What about remortgage rates? 

The building society has also moved the dial for remortgage customers. Its cheapest five-year fix – as long as you have at least 40 per cent equity in your home – is now 4.68 per cent. 

Nicholas Mendes of mortgage broker, John Charcol, said: ‘Nationwide has released what could be the final best buy rate for the year. 

‘This firmly puts them ahead of the competition before the weekend in a strategic move to ensure they remain in pole position.

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‘If people were betting on the cheapest mortgage rate rather than the Christmas number one single, I’d be betting on Nationwide.’

Chris Sykes, technical director at mortgage broker, Private Finance, added: ‘A new market leading rate creeping ever closer to 4 per cent is great news for those in the best circumstances, but with reductions across all its products, it will also be advantageous to those with smaller deposits or equity.’

Why are the cheapest mortgage rates below base rate?

Mortgage rates have been heading lower and lower despite the Bank of England opting to hold base rate at 5.25 per cent on its previous two meetings.

The cheapest mortgage rates are now almost 1 percentage point below base rate and many analysts are not forecasting base rate to fall until later next year.

 > When will interest rates fall? Forecasts on when base rate will go down 

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Lender’s are instead pricing their mortgages based on future market expectations for interest rates whilst also trying to hit their own funding and lending targets.

Future falls? Capital Economics is forecasting the base rate will be cut to 3% by 2026

Future falls? Capital Economics is forecasting the base rate will be cut to 3% by 2026

Future falls? Capital Economics is forecasting the base rate will be cut to 3% by 2026

Market interest rate expectations are reflected in swap rates. These swap rates are influenced by long-term market projections for the Bank of England base rate, as well as the wider economy, internal bank targets and competitor pricing.

Sonia swaps are used by lenders to price mortgages. This week, five-year Sonia swap rates have dropped below 4 per cent for the first time in months to hit 3.96 per cent. Two-year swaps are now at 4.55 per cent.

In aggregate, swap rates create a benchmark that can be looked to as a measure of where the market thinks interest rates will go. 

Mortgage expert: Chris Sykes says Often at this time of year, lenders shut up shop and increase rates slightly - but the opposite is happening this year

Mortgage expert: Chris Sykes says Often at this time of year, lenders shut up shop and increase rates slightly - but the opposite is happening this year

Mortgage expert: Chris Sykes says Often at this time of year, lenders shut up shop and increase rates slightly – but the opposite is happening this year

Chris Sykes says: ‘This week we’ve seen five year Sonia swaps creep below 4 per cent for the first time for a fair while and this has meant that lenders are able to further reduce rates. 

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‘In honesty, I don’t know the reason why they’ve continued to reduce, maybe there is just additional confidence that rates will not be as high for as long.

‘There is also a high level of competition going on, as some of the margins on swaps are pretty low currently. Many lenders have not met their targets for the year. 

‘Often at this time of year, lenders shut up shop and increase rates slightly in December as they’ve hit targets.

‘But this year, with fewer people moving home or buying, we’ve seen some really competitive offerings from lenders suggesting they are falling short of their annual lending targets and are looking to generate business.’

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says: ‘Lender appetite to build a pipeline for 2024, alongside lower costs, is leading to an increasingly competitive rate environment.

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‘The fall in Swap rates, which underpin the pricing of fixed-rate mortgages, has been driven by sentiment that base rate will start its downwards journey in 2024 but opinion as to when this will actually happen varies between economists.’

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International

US to hold military exercises in Guyana amid border tensions with Venezuala

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The United States said it will carry out military flights in Guyana on Thursday in a joint operation as the South American country faces soaring tensions with neighbouring Venezuela over a contested oil-rich region.

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“In collaboration with the Guyana Defence Force, the US Southern Command will conduct flight operations within Guyana on December 7,” the American embassy in Guyana said in a statement, noting the flights are part of “routine engagement” to enhance a security partnership between the two countries.

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A border feud has recently spiralled over the oil-rich Essequibo region, controlled by Guyana for more than a century but which Venezuela also claims and has voiced intent to take over.

The long-running dispute over Essequibo, which comprises some two-thirds of Guyanese territory, has intensified since ExxonMobil discovered oil there in 2015.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has raised the pressure in recent days after gaining overwhelming support in a referendum on Essequibo’s fate that was held Sunday.

Essequibo is home to 125,000 of Guyana’s 800,000 citizens.

‘We do not need war’

Litigation is pending before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague over where the region’s borders should lie.

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The United Nations Security Council will meet behind closed doors Friday to discuss rising border tensions between Guyana and Venezuela, following a request from Guyana, according to an official schedule.

In a letter seen by AFP, Guyana’s Foreign Minister Hugh Todd asked the council’s president to “call urgently for a meeting” to discuss the dispute over Essequibo.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Thursday he was following developments between Guyana and Venezuela with ” growing concern”.

Lula suggested at a Mercosur summit that multilateral bodies such as ECLAC and UNASUR should contribute to a peaceful solution. “We do not want and we do not need war in South America,” the leftist leader said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters)

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The 15 best places to visit in the UK in 2024 named by Time Out – and it’s Bristol that’s No.1, followed by Hull and the Isles of Scilly

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The city with the longest strip of independent shops in Europe has been declared by Time Out as the best place to visit in the UK in 2024.

Bristol’s Gloucester Road helped it snare the crown ahead of London and Newcastle upon Tyne. 

Time Out said: ‘The full list of 15 UK destinations features picturesque seaside towns, buzzing cities and other-worldly islands, demonstrating that Brits don’t need to travel far to experience some of the best food, drink, culture and attractions in the world.

‘The list was curated by Time Out’s network of editors and contributors, who ranked the places based on their current dining, drinking and arts scenes, as well as exciting new openings and big events in the year to come.’

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Chiara Wilkinson, Features Editor at Time Out UK, said: ‘With its vibrant cultural scene set to get even bigger next year, Bristol was a deserving winner – but it was also great to see underrated destinations like Hull, Wrexham and Falmouth take their spots in the top 15. If you need an excuse to book a staycation, surely this is it.’ Scroll down to see the top 10 in reverse order, with the full list presented at the bottom.  

10. Manchester

L’Enclume chef Tom Barnes is opening his first solo restaurant, Skof, in Manchester in spring

L’Enclume chef Tom Barnes is opening his first solo restaurant, Skof, in Manchester in spring

L’Enclume chef Tom Barnes is opening his first solo restaurant, Skof, in Manchester in spring

‘Manchester never fails to serve up a cultural banquet,’ says Time Out, pointing to the ‘rescue of grassroots gig venue The Snug and the long-awaited reopening of Manchester Museum’ in 2023.

The guide says that 2024 is going to be ‘another big one’.

It explains: ‘The star of the show will be the huge, innovative Co-op Live, which is opening in April, [is] backed by Bruce Springsteen and Harry Styles and already has the likes of Liam Gallagher and Oilvia Rodrigo lined up to perform.

‘And in much-anticipated news for its food scene, L’Enclume chef Tom Barnes is opening his first solo restaurant, Skof, in the Noma district in spring.’

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9. Falmouth

Time Out reveals that Falmouth’s ‘late night credentials have shot up’ 

‘Falmouth has always been Cornwall’s cooler town,’ says Time Out. ‘Home to Exeter and Falmouth university campuses, student life here has brought a bit of vibrancy and edge to the quiet cobbled streets – but there’s always been a glaring gap when it comes to the question of nightlife. 

‘Recently, though – thanks to new music venue The Cornish Bank – its late-night credentials have shot up.’

A perfect day there? Time Out says: ‘Start with a paddle at Gyllyngvase Beach, then warm yourself up with a coffee at Gylly beach cafe. Then check out the independent boutiques and galleries on the high street.’

8. Newcastle

'You might just want to pack up and move to Newcastle,' says Time Out

'You might just want to pack up and move to Newcastle,' says Time Out

‘You might just want to pack up and move to Newcastle,’ says Time Out

Newcastle has plenty to shout about, says Time Out. ‘The city’s food scene already had a pretty good reputation,’ it says, ‘but new openings in 2023 have really seen it thrive, like natural wine and pizza spot Bawn and new brunch spot Cafeteria: a sort of posh style greasy spoon, which seem to be all the rage now.’

The guide adds: ‘Pair this with a load of great galleries and pubs, the legendary Wylam Brewery and Tyneside Cinema and seriously reasonable prices, and you’ve got a cracking weekend away. Or you might just want to pack up and move there. It happens.’

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7. Lewes

Lewes features 'charming wonky streets' and is home to 'the most bonkers pub in the UK'

Lewes features 'charming wonky streets' and is home to 'the most bonkers pub in the UK'

 Lewes features ‘charming wonky streets’ and is home to ‘the most bonkers pub in the UK’

Lewes, notes Time Out, is home to ‘charming wonky streets’; a brand-new cultural space called Charleston; the former home of Anne of Cleves, Lewes Castle; a ‘hodgepodge of artisan stores and delicious foodie spots’ – and ‘the most bonkers pub in the UK, the Lewes Arms’.

A perfect day there, the guide says, would include ‘a veggie burger at Bun and Bean and a pastry dessert from Flint Owl Bakery’.

6. St Andrews

The 'coastal gem' of St Andrews is where Prince William met Kate Middleton

The 'coastal gem' of St Andrews is where Prince William met Kate Middleton

The ‘coastal gem’ of St Andrews is where Prince William met Kate Middleton

‘A coastal gem in the Kingdom of Fife, St Andrews is home to an ancient university, three stunning beaches, botanic gardens, multiple pubs, a famous golf course and not much else,’ says Time Out, ‘but it’s also beautiful, extremely walkable and very peaceful.’

The guide continues: ‘St Andrews has also been tipped to be a hit set-jetting destination for 2024, with the town featuring heavily in the final season of The Crown, thanks to it being where Prince William met Kate Middleton while at university. Fans, come this way.’

5. Belfast

A perfect day in Belfast ‘begins with a wholesome morning stroll', says Time Out

A perfect day in Belfast ‘begins with a wholesome morning stroll', says Time Out

A perfect day in Belfast ‘begins with a wholesome morning stroll’, says Time Out

Time Out declares that Belfast is ‘criminally underrated’, adding: ‘If you’re yet to discover its welcoming warmth and cultural vibrance, 2024 is the year to change that.’

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A perfect day there, the guide suggests, ‘begins with a wholesome morning stroll through the Botanic Gardens, followed by a hefty brunch at Output’.

Afterwards, opt for a ‘wander through the parliament buildings at Stormont and the monumental Titanic Belfast museum’.

4. London

New restaurants and gorgeous hotels add to the allure of London for 2024

New restaurants and gorgeous hotels add to the allure of London for 2024

New restaurants and gorgeous hotels add to the allure of London for 2024

‘Ah, good old London. No matter how many times you’ve visited or how long you’ve lived there, you’ll always find new things to discover in the capital,’ says Time Out.

‘There are a tonne of new restaurants to feast at, all sorts of gorgeous hotel openings and plenty of fresh cultural things to do. Most notably, in 2024, you can dance at Drumsheds, the mammoth warehouse club housed in a former IKEA, catch a blockbuster exhibition – like Yoko Ono at the Tate Modern or The World of Tim Burton at the Design Museum – and see epic new West End performances.’

3. Isles of Scilly

'A lot of people say the Isles of Scilly are the British version of the Caribbean,' reveals Time Out

'A lot of people say the Isles of Scilly are the British version of the Caribbean,' reveals Time Out

‘A lot of people say the Isles of Scilly are the British version of the Caribbean,’ reveals Time Out

Justifying the bronze medal for the Isles of Scilly, Time Out points to the archipelago’s ‘white stretches of sandy beaches, turquoise waters and opportunities for dolphin spotting’ that lead ‘a lot of people to say that the Isles of Scilly are the British version of the Caribbean’.

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A perfect day? That would involve ‘hiring bikes and exploring the coastal trails of St. Mary’s islands before taking a transfer boat to St. Agnes to visit the Turks Head for a hearty pub lunch’, says Time Out. 

2. Hull

Hull gets the silver medal thanks in part to a 'thriving' LGBTQ+ scene and an enormous aquarium

Hull gets the silver medal thanks in part to a 'thriving' LGBTQ+ scene and an enormous aquarium

Hull gets the silver medal thanks in part to a ‘thriving’ LGBTQ+ scene and an enormous aquarium

As well as its ‘thriving’ LGBTQ+ scene, Time Out remarks that this former city of culture has got ‘The Deep, an enormous aquarium with 3,000 species, a picturesque old town which survived the city’s relentless WWII bombings, and lots of up and coming indie art galleries like Ground and Artlink’.

The perfect day in Hull? The itinerary should include a caffeine fix at Two Gingers Coffee House, says Time Out, plus a pint at Ye Olde White Hart. 

1. Bristol

With a 'cultural scene just as exciting as London's', Time Out awards Bristol the crown

With a 'cultural scene just as exciting as London's', Time Out awards Bristol the crown

With a ‘cultural scene just as exciting as London’s’, Time Out awards Bristol the crown 

And it’s a drum roll for… Bristol. The city that Time Out notes ‘everyone is apparently moving to’.

So what’s so enticing about it?

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Time Out says: ‘Its cultural scene is just as exciting as London’s… it has picture-perfect streets and bustling, diverse nightlife.’

Coming in 2024, says the guide, is Boxhall, ‘a street food, beer and events space by the people behind London’s Boxpark’; Undershed, a new immersive gallery, and a musical adaptation of the 2006 film ‘Starter for Ten’ is coming to the Old Vic theatre.

A perfect day in Bristol? Time Out recommends perusing the shops on Gloucester Road, ‘the largest strip of independent retailers in Europe’, and hopping on a Bristol Ferry water bus tour to see the city from the water.

For more visit www.timeout.com/uk/things-to-do/best-places-to-visit-in-the-uk-2024

TIME OUT’S 15 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN THE UK IN 2024 

1. Bristol

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2. Hull

3. Isles of Scilly

4. London

5. Belfast

6. St Andrews

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7. Lewes

8. Newcastle 

9. Falmouth

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10. Manchester

11. Ramsgate

12. Norwich

13. Alnmouth

14. Ullapool

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15. Wrexham

Source: Time Out   

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International

Denmark adopts law banning burning of Koran and other holy texts

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Denmark’s parliament on Thursday adopted a law criminalising the “inappropriate treatment” of religious texts, effectively banning Koran burnings after a series of desecrations of Islam’s holy book sparked anger in Muslim countries over the summer.

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The bill, which prohibits “inappropriate treatment of writings with significant religious importance for a recognised religious community”, was passed with 94 votes in favour and 77 opposed in the 179-seat Folketing.

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“We must protect the security of Denmark and the Danes. Therefore, it is important that we now have better protection against the systematic insults we have seen for a long time,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said in a statement.

In practical terms, it will be forbidden to burn, tear or otherwise defile holy texts publicly or in videos intended to be disseminated widely. 

Those who break the law, which will be evaluated after three years, risk a fine or up to two years in prison.

Over the summer, Denmark and neighbouring Sweden became the focus of anger across several Muslim countries after a slew of protests involving burnings and desecrations of the Koran.

Watch moreSwedish embassy in Iraq stormed: Protesters angered over Koran burning in Sweden

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Nearly a thousand protesters attempted to march to the Danish embassy in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in late July following a call by firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr.

In response to the worsened security situation, the Scandinavian country temporarily tightened border controls, but returned to normal on August 22.

Between July 21 and October 24 this year, 483 book burnings or flag burnings were recorded in Denmark, according to national police figures.

Criticism

Initially announced at the end of August, the bill was amended following criticism that its first draft limited freedom of expression and would be difficult to enforce.

It was originally planned to cover objects of significant religious importance.

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The first draft was also criticised by some — including politicians, artists, media and freedom of speech experts — as a return to a blasphemy law that Denmark abolished in 2017.

During a lengthy debate in parliament ahead of the vote, opposition lawmakers railed against the government, accusing it of sacrificing freedom of expression. 

“It is a betrayal. A huge failure on the part of the government,” Inger Stojberg, leader of far-right Denmark Democrats, told parliament.

In 2006, a wave of anti-Danish anger and violence erupted in the Muslim world following the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

“Imagine that we are becoming the generation that curtailed freedom of speech. I hadn’t actually thought this would be — and certainly not after the Muhammad crisis. Back then, we stood firm,” Stojberg said.

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In neighbouring Sweden, the government has condemned desecrations of the Koran at protests while upholding the country’s constitutionally protected freedom of speech and assembly laws.

It has vowed to explore legal means of stopping protests involving the burning of holy texts in certain circumstances.

Denmark is not the only European country to have banned burnings of the Koran. 

According to Denmark’s justice ministry, eight European countries — Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland and Romania — do so to varying degrees.

In Greece, for example, the burning of a sacred text can be banned if the act takes place in or near a religious site.

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(AFP)

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International

Obesity pay gap revealed: Fat women in white collar jobs earn 19% less than their slim peers while for men it’s 14%

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Obese people in white collar jobs earn significantly less than their slimmer counterparts, figures show.

An analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that men with a college degree and a BMI over 30 earned five percent less than their peers with a healthy weight.

The difference was even greater among women, with obese and higher educated women making 12 percent less than their slim colleagues.

The research accounted for race, age and marital status – which can all influence how much money someone makes – and the disparity 

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The finding suggests that a ‘fat prejudice’ exists in corporate America, leading obese people to miss out on billions of dollars in earnings. 

But the analysis found the opposite was true for blue collar jobs, where obese employees were better paid than their slimmer colleagues.

When researchers compared men with bachelor's degrees, they found those classified as obese made five percent less than their non-obese colleagues

When researchers compared men with bachelor's degrees, they found those classified as obese made five percent less than their non-obese colleagues

When researchers compared men with bachelor’s degrees, they found those classified as obese made five percent less than their non-obese colleagues

In the analysis carried out by The Economist, researchers analyzed data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics of 23,000 men and women between the ages of 25 and 54 who work full time.

In addition to looking at men with bachelor’s degrees, they compared men who had more advanced degrees. 

When researchers compared men with graduate degrees, those who were obese earned 14 percent less.

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Women face a similar fate, but the margins were larger. Obese women with bachelor’s degrees earned 12 percent less than counterparts and those with graduate degrees earned 19 percent less.  

The career a person has chosen makes a difference, with varying pay gaps between obese workers and those with normal BMIs in different industries. 

Obese workers in healthcare can expect to earn 11 percent less than slimmer colleagues and obese employees in management roles earn nine percent less.

However, the opposite is true for workers in construction and agriculture, which see obese workers making more than people with normal BMIs.  

Nearly 42 percent of adults in the US are considered obese — having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, or the rough equivalent of someone who is 5’9” weighing 203 or more lbs. 

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This means millions of Americans are potentially losing out on tens of thousands of dollars.

The Economist determined that, among discrimination of both women and men with obese BMIs, they could lose out on up to $70billion per year. 

Previous studies show similar results. 

A study from 2019 found BMI was associated with chronic job discrimination, with study subjects classified as obese and morbidly obese reporting higher job discrimination compared to subjects with normal BMIs. 

A separate 2018 meta analysis of 21 studies found a reverse causal relationship between obesity and income, revealing lower income is associated with subsequent obesity. 

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Because of the growing body of evidence pointing to weight-based job discrimination, a number of state and local leaders are considering laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on weight, including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont.

New York City’s mayor signed legislation in May barring discrimination against someone based on height or weight.

Additionally, San Francisco and Washington, DC ban discrimination based on appearance. 

However, as part of the study, researchers at The Economist analyzed the wage gap between obese and normal-BMI workers just in Michigan, where a similar ban has been in place for nearly half a century. 

Despite that legislation, they found the obesity wage penalty was no lower than for America as a whole.  

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While these studies relied on a person’s BMI to determine obesity, the American Medical Association voted in June to move away from using the measurement to assess weight and overall health, saying it is ‘an imperfect way to measure fat in multiple groups given that it does not account for differences across race/ethnic groups, sexes, genders and age-span.’

The AMA instead proposed educating doctors on the issues with BMI and using alternative measures for diagnosing obesity.

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International

Macron hosts Hungary’s Orban in bid to unlock EU support for Ukraine

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French President Emmanuel Macron meets Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday in a bid to break the deadlock ahead of an EU summit after the Hungarian leader threatened to block further backing for Ukraine.

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Macron will host Orban at the Elysee Palace for a working dinner from 1930 GMT to discuss “several subjects” on the agenda for the EU summit next week, including “various aspects of European support for Ukraine”.

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That includes new financial aid and starting EU membership talks with Kyiv.

The dinner will mark a rare welcome by a major Western European leader for the Hungarian strongman, who has retained closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin than any other EU leader, even after Moscow’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

But it comes as concern grows that Orban could torpedo the chance to take key decisions concerning Ukraine at the EU summit on December 14-15.

In a letter sent to EU chief Charles Michel on Monday, Orban demanded the postponement of key decisions on Ukraine, including additional financial aid and the possibility of beginning EU membership negotiations.

The European Commission last month recommended that membership talks begin with Ukraine and Moldova.

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Watch moreBrussels recommends opening EU membership talks with Ukraine, Moldova

It is also proposing a 50-billion-euro ($54 billion) financial lifeline for Kyiv as part of a revision of the bloc’s long-term budget.

But Orban suggested dropping these matters from the agenda of the Brussels summit “as the obvious lack of consensus would inevitably lead to failure.”

Referring to his previous letter urging a “strategic discussion” on the EU’s approach to Ukraine, Orban warned EU leaders would not be “in a position to take key decisions unless a consensus on our future strategy towards Ukraine is found”.

“For the sake of unity,” he said, the EU should drop Ukraine from the summit agenda.

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As most EU decisions require unanimity, Hungary can potentially veto both proposals.

Angering fellow EU leaders, Orban met for bilateral face-to-face talks with Putin in China in October.

Critics accuse Orban of trying to blackmail Brussels to gain access to billions of euros in EU funding.

The European Commission is withholding nearly 22 billion euros from Hungary over concerns about corruption and perceived backsliding of democratic norms.

In November, Brussels said it may release up to 10 billion euros of those funds, saying that Hungary has improved judicial independence.

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Orban has only reluctantly gone along with previous EU decisions to support Ukraine as it defends itself from Russia’s full-scale invasion, and sought to water down sanctions on Moscow.

(AFP)

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International

Dr Neal ElAttrache repaired Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles, rebuilt Tom Brady’s knee and counted Kobe Bryant as ‘family’… in a rare interview with DailyMail.com, he opens up on being sport’s most famous surgeon

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It was Aaron Rodgers’ birthday last Saturday. The quarterback turned 40 and among the items on his wish list was an appointment with Dr Neal ElAttrache.

Rodgers is edging closer to a miraculous return to the field, having torn his Achilles in September – just four snaps into his Jets career.

It was ElAttrache who put him back together and their paths crossed again in New York over the weekend.

But this was no medical meeting. Instead, it was a sign of the bond that has built between doctor and patient – since ElAttrache repaired Rodgers’ collarbone in 2017 and since the surgeon fused his Achilles back together. By now, the quarterback is ‘like family’. So is Tom Brady and so was Kobe Bryant. It’s not by coincidence.

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Over a 30-year career, ElAttrache – who grew up in mining town outside Pittsburgh – has become synonymous with some of sport’s greatest names.

Dr Neal ElAttrache has operated on some of sport's biggest stars such as Aaron Rodgers

Dr Neal ElAttrache has operated on some of sport's biggest stars such as Aaron Rodgers

Dr Neal ElAttrache has operated on some of sport’s biggest stars such as Aaron Rodgers

ElAttrache treated the Jets quarterback after he tore his Achilles tendon back in September

ElAttrache treated the Jets quarterback after he tore his Achilles tendon back in September

ElAttrache treated the Jets quarterback after he tore his Achilles tendon back in September

He works as an orthopedic surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles

He works as an orthopedic surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles

He works as an orthopedic surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles 

Time and again, with a broken body and their future in peril, athletes head to Los Angeles.

In 2008, ElAttrache reconstructed Tom Brady’s knee. In 2013, barely 45 minutes after tearing his Achilles, Bryant called ElAttrache from the Lakers locker room. Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, Brooks Koepka, Manny Pacquiao and Clayton Kershaw are among the others to visit the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic.

ElAttrache also works with the LA Dodgers, Rams, Kings, Lakers, and Anaheim Ducks, while his celebrity clients include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlize Theron and Ringo Starr.

‘I get to see another human being when there’s very little guard up. So I tend to have the privilege of seeing the real essence of people,’ ElAttrache tells Mail Sport.

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There is, however, a spectre that hangs over all these encounters: often, the fate of careers and lucrative contracts rest on every flick of his knife.

‘With these well-known guys, I can’t have bad things happening to them – especially if it’s because I missed something,’ ElAttrache says. ‘It’s like taking care of a working population with a national audience. That’s a bad mix, you know?’

Just 11 weeks after going under the knife, the 40-year-old was back on the training field

Just 11 weeks after going under the knife, the 40-year-old was back on the training field

Just 11 weeks after going under the knife, the 40-year-old was back on the training field

In 2008, the surgeon repaired Tom Brady's knee after the quarterback tore his ACL and MCL

In 2008, the surgeon repaired Tom Brady's knee after the quarterback tore his ACL and MCL

In 2008, the surgeon repaired Tom Brady’s knee after the quarterback tore his ACL and MCL

The surgeon opened up on what binds elite sportsmen such as Rodgers and Brady

The surgeon opened up on what binds elite sportsmen such as Rodgers and Brady

The surgeon opened up on what binds elite sportsmen such as Rodgers and Brady

Fortunately, not even the spotlight prevents ElAttrache from maintaining a steady hand: ‘The only times I’ve ever been nervous in my life doing anything is when I didn’t think I may have been prepared,’ he insists.

‘I feel comfortable that, whatever I do, I’m offering the patient or the player the best care that they can have. Certainly, I don’t think I would be taking care of somebody if I thought there was somebody better at doing the things I do.’

****

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ElAttrache’s preparations to treat Aaron Rodgers began long before the quarterback text him from the locker room at MetLife Stadium on September 11.

‘I had already been considering how to repair tendons and ligaments to enhance not only the healing but the time of recovery,’ the surgeon explains. ‘So very quickly, I knew what I would do in a situation where time was very important.’

By the time a patient falls asleep, ElAttrache has typically performed the surgery three or four times in his head.

Rodgers underwent ‘speed bridge’ treatment just two days after his Jets debut. It’s a cutting-edge procedure designed to allow for more aggressive rehab. Even back then, ElAttrache’s mind was on Rodgers’ return.

‘People read about an operation I may do and they think my role is over,’ he says. ‘Well, it’s just beginning.’

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As contracts have swelled in length and value, ElAttrache’s role has spread from the surgery theater to the recovery room.

The surgeon has also treated the likes of Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson and Manny Pacquiao

The surgeon has also treated the likes of Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson and Manny Pacquiao

The surgeon has also treated the likes of Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson and Manny Pacquiao 

ElAttrache treated Bryant in 2013 after the late Los Angeles Lakers star damaged his Achilles

ElAttrache treated Bryant in 2013 after the late Los Angeles Lakers star damaged his Achilles

ElAttrache treated Bryant in 2013 after the late Los Angeles Lakers star damaged his Achilles

The surgeon spoke to Mail Sport about his three decades working in sports medicine

The surgeon spoke to Mail Sport about his three decades working in sports medicine

The surgeon spoke to Mail Sport about his three decades working in sports medicine

From the off, Rodgers was determined to defy initial diagnoses: the 40-year-old wanted to return this year and so, in cases like these, ElAttrache’s task is to find a surgery ‘that will hold up to whatever is coming afterwards.’

So far, so good. After just 11 weeks, Rodgers was back on the training field; at some point, ElAttrache expects, the quarterback will be back to his best. ‘I don’t know if it’ll be this year, in December, or the following season. But I’m confident it’ll happen,’ he says. ‘That last part takes a life of its own and is very individual… I walk them right up to the foul line of the field.’

And then it can come down to an athlete and their mind. For decades, ElAttrache has enjoyed a privileged insight into how the best think and how they rewrite rulebooks.

‘Aaron is a natural leader,’ ElAttrache says. ‘You can’t be a leader unless you have the attributes that people want to follow. So I think he demonstrates that he is never going to expect or ask from anybody around him, anything that he wouldn’t do.’

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The surgeon explains: ‘He is out there setting an example of his own personal sacrifice… his legacy is already established, he’s one of the greatest ever. So him coming back from this injury this year – doing something that no one else has done – it may be fun to talk about, but I don’t think there’s a huge personal benefit.’

'Aaron is a natural leader... I have become very fond of him,' ElAttrache said of the Jets QB

'Aaron is a natural leader... I have become very fond of him,' ElAttrache said of the Jets QB

‘Aaron is a natural leader… I have become very fond of him,’ ElAttrache said of the Jets QB

 ElAttrache also works with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Rams, Kings, Lakers, and Anaheim Ducks

DR NEAL ELATTRACHE ON TURF VS. GRASS

Aaron Rodgers’ injury reignited the debate over grass vs. turf in the NFL:

It’s an interesting and somewhat confounding topic to address. Because there’s been recent studies that show that turf doesn’t have a huge impact. My personal feeling is that it does. But until the real data is out there to confirm that… 

My feeling is also informed by the players that I take care of. I ask them: “Do you have a preference in fields that you play on? And why do you like that field?” And without question, the two things that they talk about are: grip and resilience. 

So if a field is too spongy or too slippery or too soft or too hard, they know. And the majority of them have a preference. Interestingly, the majority of them agree independently: by and large, they’ll name one of three fields as their favorite. And they happen to be natural surface fields.

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I won’t name them, I don’t know that it’s fair because right now the studies out there don’t show what I’m saying.  But there’s some issues that are indisputable: there’s a lot of money involved and the technology is there to be able to determine the optimal match between a shoe and a surface to give the player the field that they like the best.

I think the only reason it’s not done is because of money. But until the data shows that’s correct, I don’t think it would be fair or possible to ask the people that are actually paying the bills to do it. Let’s face it: it costs more money to bring in natural turf several times a season and you’re not be able to use it for multi-purpose use.

But there’s no reason why a player shouldn’t walk into a stadium and on the bulletin board in that locker room is a recommendation: “We recommend this type of shoe for this particular surface.” 

But I may be completely all wet on that because so far there’s nothing to show that what I’m saying is right.

Instead, ElAttrache says, Rodgers understands what he means to the Jets. ‘That is very (much) in the front of his mind.’ And that is a symptom of his character.

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‘Trying to be objective – because I have become very fond of him – you don’t see great leaders leading from the rear,’ ElAttrache continues. ‘He understands the impact he has. And he knows that he can’t do that effectively – or as well – from his couch with his leg elevated.’

There are other strands to Rodgers’ mindset that have stuck with ElAttrache. Traits he shares with the likes of Brady and Bryant. Traits which help explain their extraordinary feats.

‘The thing they have in common is that they surround themselves only with the people and the things – and in the places – that they trust is geared towards making them better,’ he explains. ‘Very little happens just by chance with guys like that.’

Even in those darkest moments, they set themselves apart.

‘I’ve noticed that the great ones, when the chips are really down, that’s when they’re the most selfless and giving and the least needy,’ ElAttrache says. ‘That was really surprising… the usual thing is that when something like that happens, the world starts to revolve around them.’

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ElAttrache has a theory – ‘maybe they’re calculating: If I take really good care of these people, they’re going to take really good care of me’ – but whatever the motive, it’s a mindset the surgeon has sought to learn from.

‘The other thing that’s in common – and sometimes this can be a challenge to deal with for me – (is) none of the great ones believe that their body follows the same laws of nature that the rest of us do.

‘At some point it’s going to come out that they do feel like they are supernatural. And far be it for me to tell them they’re not… it would be like loading up Superman’s belt with kryptonite if you say: “No, you’re not special”. Because quite frankly, they might be.’

ElAttrache has seen first-hand the power of a strong mind, after all.

‘Aaron Rodgers manifests reality probably as strongly and consistently as anybody I’ve seen,’ he explains.

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‘He believes a certain way and he’s determined that thing is going to happen.’ Hence why as well as ‘healing’ patients, the surgeon has to ‘protect’ them, too. Hence why his bond with a patient is ‘almost sacred’.

That goes for arguably ElAttrache’s most ‘rewarding’ patients, student-athletes: ‘If what we do together is successful, their life will take one path. If we don’t, it goes down another’. And professionals working to a timeline that is ‘completely off the map’.

'I get to see another human being when there's very little guard up,' ElAttrache told Mail Sport

'I get to see another human being when there's very little guard up,' ElAttrache told Mail Sport

‘I get to see another human being when there’s very little guard up,’ ElAttrache told Mail Sport

‘If there is doubt and mistrust, or they mistrust my motives, and I don’t trust what they’re telling me, then there’s no way that I can effectively have what I need to have, and provide what I should be providing, to help that person do something out of the ordinary,’ ElAttrache says.

Put simply, Rodgers and Co can only stretch the laws of science if they have faith that ElAttrache will always pull them back from the fire.

His own sporting background – the surgeon boxed at college – helps ensure those connections are ‘organic’. So does all the time he spent in locker rooms and training facilities as a trainee doctor. 

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‘I’ll know when it’s time to stop doing what I do when I don’t have the ability or the energy to be as engaged as that anymore,’ ElAttrache says.

Until then, he will remain one of the most significant figures in elite sport. Midway through speaking with Mail Sport, ElAttrache’s cell phone rings. The head trainer of a major franchise wants a chat.

In the bar of this Midtown hotel, however, only the camera’s glare prompts other guests to give him a second glance. And that’s fine with ElAttrache. For the surgeon, much of the credit for his extraordinary career lies elsewhere.

'I don't think I would be taking care of somebody if I thought there was somebody better'

'I don't think I would be taking care of somebody if I thought there was somebody better'

‘I don’t think I would be taking care of somebody if I thought there was somebody better’

‘If there was anything that I really hit it out of the park with, it was picking the right mentors,’ he says. ‘That’s probably the greatest professional gift you can have. More than an enormous paycheck or enormous bonus.’

He continues: ‘I was with some of the great founders of sports medicine – Frank Jobe and Bob Kerlan – and being at that place, it gave me everything… whatever I did would get more attention than other great surgeons operating someplace else.’

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The ‘pioneering’ clinic fostered a culture of innovation and open-mindedness which has come in handy. Especially given Rodgers’ and Brady’s taste for – ahem – alternative remedies.

‘If I think there’s something that’s counterproductive, I certainly am going to say it. But it hasn’t happened in those situations,’ he says. 

‘The ultimate goal is: that guy needs to get better. And there’s a lot of emotion and the mental aspect that comes into play. But the biggest thing that is necessary is trust… I can be the most magical surgeon on the planet but if there’s no trust between me and that player, nothing is going to work.’

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